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


Staff member
Council of Elders
The various other dancers shook their heads, looking upon Light Fantastic with confusion.

"I do believe I'll be fine. And you can keep the ticket. Don't really care for ballet so 'fun' is something I wouldn't be having." Steel Flint seemed to relax a bit and started addressing those around her, "It's more of a hypothesis. There's been numerous legends surrounding the Anugypt Strut's magical properties with a summoning ritual and an empowerment spell the most common. None of this could be tested or confirmed with the Strut's incomplete status. The foremost summoning assumption has been the spirit being the second ruler of Anugypt since she was magically banished. As far as proving useful, Amber, I would mostly rather you stay here. That said, it is an excellent idea to go update Static Signal on the situation so I'm glad you suggested it."

Steel Flint frowned, "Considering the strength of our current rulers, I wouldn't be so quick to be dismissive. Besides, we still don't know for certain who or what was summoned."

Snowy Skies is quiet for a moment. "...What happens when the song gets performed by a full orchestra with dancing accompaniment? Do you think an already summoned creature would be inclined to show up a second time?"

Light Fantastic looked baffled.

"That's strange, then," she said, "I wonder what it could have been."

Rhapsody narrowed her eyes a bit when the other dancers don't seem to know what Light is talking about. "Whatever it is, it means you were the sole target. Somepony wants you. COIN will likely know you have relations with the Keep after the break-in last night. We might need to tell that cop out from to be on the look out for any suspicious looking Unicorns."

Amber nodded at Ms. Flint's words. "Yes, that makes sense," she said, quietly. There was certainly little out of the ordinary in a magically banished ruler's return to the living realm, though the prevalence of incomplete copies of the Strut suddenly seemed quite strange and worrying. Had someone intended the queen's return through such an indirect means? Amber drew out her notebook and began taking down the recent revelations. She didn't acknowledge Mr. Cap's words directly, but seemed to twitch ever so slightly in the corner of one eye as he spoke.

Light Fantastic nodded.

"That sounds like a good idea," she said, "I don't want anypony messing up this performance. The other dancers and I have all worked far too hard for far too long to have someone waltz in and ruin it for us."


Amber Spark found that...she couldn't remember the name of Anugypt's second ruler. However she did remember that it didn't seem to be widespread knowledge despite the fact that her actions were well known.

A few things clicked in Snowy Skies mind, and he focused on one corner of Steel Flint's desk, speaking slowly. "You...you saw Zig Zag." He says, pointing a hoof at Night Cap without looking up. "You said that you saw Zig Zag and her captor, but you never once considered that you were looking at an equine creature. At least not until Mrs. Flint informed you of what the strut was supposed to summon. Zig Zag went home shortly after I joined Light Fantastic in the Strut's room, but the music didn't disappear until later in the night, despite Zig Zag's endless humming. So something came into Zig Zag's house and physically kidnapped her...but no spell was cast until she fell asleep, at which point her dream-self was taken hostage..." He looks around. "This seems awfully complicated for one pony to do."

Steel Flint started pacing, "The difficulty of all this is figuring out how to go about this. Trying to retain a level head despite how worrisome it is. I don't remember Zig Zag humming that tune before yesterday so my theory is that she recited the correct version of the Anugypt Strut unknowingly but it didn't trigger until being near the papyrus, then falling asleep. It's worth pointing out that while she's a citizen of Equestria, she wasn't born here. Would explain knowing a variant of the music. While sleep, s! he must have lost a battle with this thing and then it either crossed over with her as the portal or it's puppeting her. Each has its own problems since the former means a possible showdown with a more powerful entity while the latter means risking injury to Zig Zag. As far as the question of encountering an orchestra, I'd assume it could either banish or empower this thing, pending on how it goes. We don't know if their variant is the same. Snowy Skies, I need you to try to write out as much sheet music as you can of the Anugypt Strut's music, then go to the precinct to see if Sands is there. Night Cap, I may need you to go to sleep again to see if you can gain any more insight to Zig Zag's condition."

Snowy nods. "There's some in my viola case, and I can draw a staff with a little time." He turns and strides out of the room, but hesitates a few steps before the doorway. "I don't know if there's a better storeroom, but the room we were in last night is certainly filled with plenty of memo...erm...artifacts from the time. Presumably any relation those wall hanging might have to this spell is already known, but perhaps that room is a more sensible meeting place than your office?"

Amber nodded. "I will go and follow up with Mr. Signal, then." She began to slowly remove herself from the room, glancing warily at both Snowy Skies and Night Cap, and headed off in the direction of the theater.

"While I really do respect your work ethic and dedication, I think that fact you are being targets is slightly bigger then just the performance itself..." Rhapsody states, and then adds. "If something happens to you, the the whole night is ruined, you're like the star of the production, right?" She adds, trying to appeal to Light's desire to keep the show from being ruined.

Light Fantastic sighed.

"What am I supposed to do, then?" she said, "Cancel the show and hide?"



Staff member
Council of Elders

Steel Flint arched an eyebrow,
"I'm not quite sure I follow to why artifacts from that time would be good for a meeting place. If anything, it would be best to avoid any possible secondary triggers. Regardless, that room is closed off. As far Zig Zag's status, it's good to know she's relatively unharmed. I just wish I knew of a way to better track this thing."

With hallways being somewhat clear except for a class on a field trip, Amber Spark quite easily made her way to the Keep theater. A movie just started but no patrons were watching it.

Snowy Skies shrugs. "If it shows up here before the dance, it'll probably be in that room." He says, properly exiting the office and heading for the break room. He extricates his viola case from his locker before contemplating the tuxedo, hanging above them. "Eventually." He mutters, turning to a nearby table and opening the case. He draws out the viola and bow by hoof, then uses his magic to tease a few pages of sheet music and a pencil out of a small pouch. He carefully draws a sound-damping bubble around himself, leaving enough room for the primed viola, takes a deep breath, and slowly begins to play.

Copying sheet music like this wasn't too different from what he had done the night before. He had a near-perfect image of the music in his head, but it wasn't written in modern notation. That was no surprise, given it's age, and he was familiar with old styles of notation. It was displaying the shape of the music, rather than surgically displaying each individual note. Rises and scales were easy to pick out, because of the intuitive geometry, but other sections had to be inferred. So he would play a small section of what he could remember, mark it down, then repeat it, and try to add to it, sticking to the 'shape' of the music as much as he could. It was a slow, repetitive process, made all the more complex by the fact that he had only seen roughly half of each line last night (the other half was already gone).

...It was truly a beautiful piece. His stilted, investigatory, playing was an assault on the ear, but the potential within the music was beautiful. He could see the music waiting to come off the page. It had been designed so that even the symbols depicting it flowed together, so that even the sheet music itself was beautiful. He wondered what instruments had played this song, long ago.

A scratchy note sounded from the viola as he tripped over that thought, and he inspected the instrument coolly. The Anugypt certainly did not play instruments like this. They had paltry horns and flutes, but their royal instrument, the crown jewel of their musical court, was the harp. Snowy Skies set his bow aside and experimentally plucks strings with his magic running through his writing for the first few lines of the song. He rolls his eyes as he realizes that he can no longer play cords correctly, and mentally adjusts his music, trying again. The song is different, certainly, but even with the odd, persistent staccato notes of an instrument that was not meant to be strummed for so long, the song sounds much better. The flow he had been drooling over earlier shifted notably when the notes were separate from each other, rather than flowing as they did when played with a bow. Despite the awkward instrument, the song sounded more natural.

Snowy Skies sighed contentedly, grimacing ever so slightly as he crumpled up his previous work and drew out a new sheet of parchment. It was a pity he had wasted so much time, but it was worth it. This would go much quicker.

"No, No of course not." Rhapsody states, while she was being honest she was also being maybe a bit selfish, after-all if the show is cancelled then so is her date... "I just don't feel that the show should be your only or even primary concern. Its important that it goes right, yes; but more important your safety, as well as the safety of the other dancers and the patrons. We need be wary of anything suspicious going on, even the smallest thing could end up being important."

Amber stepped inside the empty theater and looked around, briefly watching the film and scowling when the narration repeated a detail that had been quite rightly contested in the community for nearly a decade. She shook her head and followed the line of light up with her head to the booth, then turned around to exit and knock on the projection booth door.

"Mr. Static? Hello? Ms. Flint sent me. There is an additional emergency involving a resurrected queen of ancient Anugypt foalnapping Keep employees and we're not certain yet what it means for the performance tonight."

Light Fantastic thought for a moment.

"Have you talked to the griffon hanging around here?" she asked, "He might know what we can do."

Static opened the door and let Amber into the booth. His first thought was that he would be abandoning his post with nopony to take over for him.

He quickly dismissed the thought though when he considered not only was there absolutely nopony watching the movie, but there were ponies in danger. Not to mention Steel Flint sent Amber to get him, so surely there was no way he was getting in trouble with Ms. Iron for this.

One of these days we're going to have to hang out together when the fate of the Keep isn't hanging in the balance. He told Amber. Give me a sec.

Static shut off the projector. Putting the film in the rewinder and putting it back on the shelves could wait until later. Matters seemed pressing.

He grabbed a sign and motioned for Amber to follow him. He locked up the booth and put the sign on the door to the theatre "Theatre closed due to technical difficulties."

If I'm doing more field work, I better go get my equipment.

Static leads Amber to Quiver Quill's office and knocks on the door.

"Most of the original kingdom was destroyed in a sandstorm, then rebuilt as New Coltro. Besides, it would take crossing the ocean to reach. I guess Snowy Skies might have been on to something in keeping an eye on the exhibit hall. There's also the ballet since delegates from New Coltro and Saddle Arabia will be there."

As Ready Quill opened his office, he greeted the pair with a smile, "Nice-to-see-you-again-Static-Signal-and-you-too-Amber-Sparks. What-brings-you-this-way?"

Hey! Can't talk long. But it looks like I won't be able to make it to the ballet tonight to get footage for the documentary like we hoped. I simply couldn't find anyone with tickets. Sorry about that.

But I do still need the equipment right now if that's okay. Missing Keep employees, and...other things I didn't quite catch.

At Static's comment that they should "hang out together," Amber raised a hoof and attempted to voice a "well, actually," but was cut off in Static's rush to get his equipment. She was surprised by how quickly he'd seemed to have taken to his new role with the Keep. She again raised her hoof at "Sparks," and again dropped it and said nothing as Static asked for his equipment.

As Static explained his inability to find tickets for the ballet, she cleared her throat. "Ah, yes, Mr. Static, that's actually something I'd hoped to bring up with you. You know, I thought that it might be appropriate to officially welcome you to the team, make certain that you're feeling at home as a colleague, you understand," she said, drawing out the two remaining spare tickets, "So I had meant to ask you...."

Static was stunned as Amber held out the tickets. For me? I don't...I don't know what to... Static wanted to lung in and hug her but thought it would be totally innapropriate, particularly "as a colleague." But it was so unexpected. Amber, I don't know how to thank you. This... He swiped his hoof across his face. Sorry, something in my eye...

It took him a moment to remember Ready Quills request for photage. He took a deep breath and accepted one of the tickets. Umm...right...thank you! Umm...I hate to ask, he added with a wince but Ready Quill was hoping I could take the camera along to document things. Do you think that would be okay? If not, I understand. I just...I figured I should ask.

"Hmm, well Light Fantastic is in the ballet. Though there's the possibility she may not be fully updated. A few Keep employees, including Brisk Iron, should be in attendance."

As Ready Quill blinked, "Of-course-you-can-use-it-this-is-modern-history. Would-be-different-if-you-were-using-it-to-document-silly-cat-antics. Just-remember-that-if-you-break-it-then-you-buy-it."

"By-the-way-Static-do-you-have-a-suit-or-at-least-a-nice-tie? You-got-make-sure-you're-representing-the-Keep-professionally. You-might-want-to-take-a-moment-to-check-your-wardrobe-before-you-arrive-at-the-ballet."

I've...got nothing. I mean, I guess I have...you could call it a suit that I wore when I was first doing job interviews to get into the Keep. But...that's terribly old and ratty. Probably not something to represent the keep with. I'm...not even sure if it still fits for that matter. Would it be terribly expensive to get one?

"Whoa-hold-on-a-sec. A-tailor-might-be-able-to-fix-it-up-for-you. Even-if-not-they-might-be-able-to-trade-you-a-discount-since-they-can-either-use-it-for-donations-or-scrap-fabric. As-said-all-you-really-need-is-a-good-tie. Tell-you-what-let-me-give-you-the-address-of-somepony-I-know-and-it-should-work-out. Just-tell-them-Brisk-Iron-sent-you." Ready Quill scribbled a note and passed it to Static Signal with his magic. The location wasn't too far from where Static Signal Lived.

Static accepted the note with a nod of gratitude. Thanks! He turned to Amber. I think that's everything. Lead the way. If we have Keep employee's in trouble, I'd rather not dilly dally.

Still not certain how to react to Static's response to the ticket, Amber nodded. "Yes, of course, let's go," she said, beginning to wonder at what point she had become involved with all of this again as she led him back to Ms. Flint's office and whether somepony would unexpectedly present her with some fashion advice along the way as well.



Staff member
Council of Elders
Steel Flint gave a polite nod in Static Signal's direction as he and Amber Spark arrived, "Thank you for joining us. How much did Amber get to fill you in?"

Uh, resurrected queen of Anubus, kidnapped keep employees, uncertain future of the show tonight. Nothing specific, I'm afraid. We were in a bit of a rush.

"Anugypt. But that's a basic enough summary. Essentially, we need ponies with knowledge of the current situation in attendance at the ballet since it's a possible target. We have so few clues to go on but it's all we've got to go on for the moment."

"Well, I helped guard the Sword of Shining Dark last night," Static answered with an inward cringe. "The approval rating of my work is...well...I'm sure past...indiscretions...won't be repeated.

Amber nodded as Ms. Flint explained the situation; she tried not to react visibly to the news that the ballet would be held and that she and the other Keep employees - most importantly, of course, Rhapsody - would be allowed to attend.

She blinked at Night Cap's words to Static. "Ah, Mr. Cap, perhaps I'm overstepping my - hmm, ah -" Amber suddenly felt the need to straighten her glasses with a hoof. "What I mean to say is, Mr. Cap, do you have any such formal training? You know, we've just recently been talking about the possibility of some sort of training program for this sort of thing, perhaps a sort of self-defense or other-offense class of some kind, and I admit that I'm quite interested, but to my understanding, Mr. Cap, none of us have anything of the sort. And -" she thought back to their fights on the mountain and how, despite his prior bravado interrogating the prisoners from the first attack on the station before they had begun their expedition, Mr. Cap had seemed rather as much out of his element as anypony - "to my understanding, that includes you, Mr. Cap.

"While it's a valid enough question, now is probably not the time. For example, I have the capacity to be more impressive than last night's showing. I've been speaking with Brisk Iron about more involved training for STOMP members but that's a discussion for the future."

Right...so...another time then. So what's the plan? Are we just keeping an eye out for anything and everything that looks suspicious? Because I'm guessing there the scanning area's going to be...quite large. Or is this going to be something we'll definitely know it when we see it and Celestia, Luna, Cadence and Twilight help us all?

"We own the security, don't we?" Snowy Skies says, entering the room with a sheaf of papers floating over him and a viola strapped to his back. "If you need someone with an odd vantage point, send Dusty into one of the vents up there. I don't know why that habit of hers isn't utilized more often."

"Dusty is not part of STOMP and the only reason why she has that quirk is because she has the entire Keep layout memorized. She wouldn't have the layout of the recital hall memorized. And why would we own the security? Delegates will have their own security forces and speaking of which, take those files down to the precinct and ask for Tangerine Sands."

"Sands and Night Wings are part of New Coltro's security. Both will be there tonight and Night Wings is probably already there."

"The Keep looks after its own rooms, until other ponies show up?" Snowy Skies asks drily, turning and exiting the room without waiting for a reply. The police station wasn't far from the museum.

Static rolled his eyes. He'd kept his silence up till now because really, he didn't see how he, the new guy, would have anything of worth to add to the discussion. Plus after getting chummy with Night Cap before, he didn't want to say anything that could be considered mean. But Night Cap seemed to be going on and on and he was getting on Static's nerves. With a dramatic sigh, he finally spoke up.

You know, I find it funny that the pony that's questioning the competency of the police and the keep employees the most is the same pony who spent most of last night running away from them! How many times must Mr. Flint assure you that things are well in hoof?

"The guilty parties of last night's events shall be dealt with. Now, are you going to stand here and bicker or are you going to help make sure this doesn't happen again?" Steel Flint stated in a rather terse manner. Her tone then slightly lightened, "Sands will be able to get you clearance since he's our primary point of contact and the reason we were even able to get as much setup as we have."

Amber found herself once again simply watching the conversation. She wasn't entirely unfamiliar with security, but she was rather more comfortable with the kind that concerned very good locks and ensuring that galleries had open lines of sight to dissuade suspicious activity. Night Cap's objections made so very little sense that she wouldn't have been able to decide where to start if she had chosen to become involved at all, and it was not among her first several preferred options. She simply scowled at him periodically when he directed his sarcasm at Ms. Flint and said nothing herself.

He has my confidence, Static says. Little bit serious, but a very upright guy.

I also didn't mean to call you out. Believe me, I have more reason than anypony not to trust somepony. But you either trust the ponies at your back, or you'll be spending just as much time looking behind you as you are fighting the pony in front. You'd be better off going it alone. You...do...trust us...don't you?

Static blew out a long, weary sigh. Remember last night how I told you any friend of the Keep is a friend of mine? That still holds true. I want to be your friend. But I'm not sure how that works...having friends that don't trust each other.

As for food, I've already taken my break for the day. If this meeting's been dismissed...I'm not quite sure what to do...go back to the theatre until the end of my shift? Get ready for the performance tonight? Unfortunately, any place I could direct you to for food...well, Sands tells me it's not fit for normal ponies.

"Does your back make any equally pertinent suggestions?" asked Amber, idly, at Mr. Cap's roundabout anatomical survey. "Static, I'm quite certain that despite present appearances, the stallion can feed himself. I think you're quite right; the two of us have important work to do before the event tonight. I'm sure Mr. Cap will be quite busy with whatever it is he is doing himself."

Static turns to regard Amber. Right, lead the way. Before leaving, he turns back briefly to Nightcap. Think about what I said. Friendship only works when there's trust. It's a pretty lonely life otherwise. Trust me I know.

"I'm beginning to think that Mr. Cap has imaginary friends enough to keep him occupied," said Amber in a low voice as she curtly turned toward the door and headed down the hallway, pacing herself to allow Static to follow, but a few steps behind her.

Static followed Amber, waiting until they were out of earshot to respond.

I guess everypony has their...eccentricities. He said somberly. But even eccentric ponies need friends. He seems to genuinely care about the ponies who work here at any rate.

"It seems like you and I need to talk, Night Cap. Sit down. First, I'm going to ask you if you would like a sandwich or an apple. However, I'd also suggest you listen. You have your quirks and indiscretions but considering both your skills and your stated lack of stability, the Chief Director have been back and forth on something...

We'd like to offer you a job. I'm sure both sides could stand to benefit."


Steel Flint gave Night Cap the sandwich while she casually peeled the apple with her magic, "You're already in a secret mission kind of job. No no, something a bit more above board. Within the STOMP team you're currently in, you're the only one with overt experience as an explorer. Despite eccentricities, that's something the museum could certainly use. Also, your expedition write ups show that you're capable of writing for bureaucracy without directly being part of it. That's quite a valuable skill. There's also the simple fact that being a more regular part of museum employ means you're easier to find for STOMP missions."

"As said, field work with maybe a little desk work. Mostly what you're already doing for us with less risk of injury that's counterparted by lower hazard pay. Cosmology would take more paperwork and verification of a degree."

Steel Flint rather calmly chewed on some pieces of apple peel then continued, [/FONT]"Any further specifics would need to go through the Chief Director and then the hiring department. If you have nothing else to do at the moment, you can probably wait in the theater until Static and Amber are done with their shifts. Static currently works in the theater so that will make finding him easier."



Staff member
Council of Elders
As he arrives at the precinct, Snowy Skies realizes that he has no idea how to find Tangerine Sands. It didn't seem likely that the police kept an appointment system like the hospital. He approaches a nearby reception-like desk. "Erm, I'm looking for Tangerine Sands? Is he in?"

Snowy Skies twitches, subtly. "Snowy Skies. I'm here because Mr. Sands is integral to the continued structural stability of this building and the surrounding area, and I have important information for him on that subject."

The receptionist blinked at Snowy Skies' response, "That seems odd considering Officer Sands isn't a local but I understand he's here for special cases. Wait one moment..." The receptionist closed her eyes briefly, then opened them and said, "If you would please sit over there, Sands will be with you shortly."

"Thank you." Snowy Skies says primly, taking a seat as indicated.

After about a minute, Tangerine Sands walked up to Snowy Skies, "Good afternoon. Would you like to speak in an office or would you like to walk?"

"Let's stay inside. It's a bit hot out."

Tangerine Sands laughs openly though nopony else seems to notice, "Forgive me, I just have a different perspective of what hot is. Follow me." The two walked to a small side office. "So, what was needed of me?"

Snowy Skies grins at the smile. Not a hard guess, but it felt good to be right. "I suppose I'll start by outlining what we've figured out today." He says, not bothering to close the office door behind him. Between the two of them, nobody would be able to hear them even if they put a glass to the window. "The anugypt strut had a spell contained in it, which Zig-Zag--Museum greeter, dreamwalker, pink and green zebra of probably coltroan descent--inadvertently activated, by humming it. Steel Flint believes that the spell summoned the second monarch of Old Coltro, but whatever it was, it took out the wall of her house and is holding her hostage in dreamspace. I've improved on that symphony I tossed together last night and now have my best written guess at the full song, written here. Steel Flint said you should take a look at it, though from my perspective it's just beautiful music. You seem a bit more learned when it comes to sealing spells in song." He finishes, drawing the papers out of his viola case and offering them to Tangerine Sands. He seemed like a grounded pony, he could handle the surge of information.

Tangerine Sands calmly closed the door, "Formalities. Besides, the locals are already somewhat bothered by the fact that they can't hear my walking. You're right that the music may not directly carry any magic but it's worth looking over for clues." Tangerine Sands carefully looked through the first few pages. "Well, I can already see differences. This is slightly faster than the version played in the ballet. The notes are sharper and more abrupt. Most notably, it's arranged differently. These first few pages happen about 3/4ths of the way into the ballet."

"The design differences probably stem from the fact that I wrote a harp piece, not a symphony." Snowy Skies comments, mentally noting to expect things to get worse the longer the orchestra kept playing. "What do you know about the development of the orchestra's version? How did they create it?"

"I have no clue how the version for the orchestra was developed and you make a valid point about how composition may affect individual notes. That still leaves the matter of the differing arrangement. It could mean any number of things to being a "safe" variant, to empowering the summon, to even banishing it again. We'll probably only truly know by seeing how this thing reacts which has the obvious problem of possibly being too late to react to. However, we might be able to use techniques of secret sound to nullify this entity's power. Furthermore, finding and waking Zig Zag might be enough."

So when things can't possibly get any worse, play this. Snowy Skies notes mentally. "What's secret sound?"

Tangerine Sands paused as if struggling to find proper words, "Secret sound is a form of magic that uses various sounds in a way where the conscious mind won't hear but the subconscious mind is affected any multitude and number of ways. You can deliver whole conversations in moments or perhaps pacify a raging opponent. Similar to the fighting arts, it takes an immense and long time and a lot of discipline to master. One possible plan is using the orchestra as an amplifier for either a sedation or awakening spell. The problem is not knowing which one would be the best."

"Fascinating." Snowy Skies truly meant it. He had never conceived of such a thing. Would that he had known about that in the woods. The news that it takes ages to master disappoints him, but does not surprise him. "Someday you'll have to show me a monastery I can shut myself up in for that." He comments. "Why would an awakening spell be helpful?"

"There are a lot of varying theories to what happened that we'll only be confident and sure of until we have more information. However, one is that this creature may be using a sleepwalking Zig Zag as a puppet. Is so, the easiest and simplest way to handle this would be to just wake her up."

Snowy Skies sighs and drags a hoof across his eyes. "So the current course of action is still to wait until the orchestra brings things to a head, then decide on the best course of action." He shakes his head lightly, glancing back at his violin case. "I can work with that. Do you need anything else from me? Any messages for Steel Flint or Brisk Iron?"

Tangerine Sands shook his head, "I can't think of anything else. Thank you for keeping us informed."

"Always happy to play courier." Snowy Skies says, with a medium dose of sarcasm. He leaves the precinct and returns to the museum, winding his way through the halls until he arrives at Steel Flint's door, knocking the same 4 notes.

A mildly flustered Steel Flint opened her door and looked at Snowy Skies, "Yes?"

"Tangerine Sands has a variety of plans for the evening, all of which he is self-sufficiently able to execute. The which of that will hinge on the details of what we're dealing with." Snowy stretches a little, feeling uncomfortable. "So it seems we are unified in our decision to wait."

"Thank you for letting me know. I'll update Brisk Iron if I see her."



Staff member
Council of Elders
Snowy Skies feels a bit of prickling anger at being marginalized, but some sensible part of him overrides his tired brain and convinces him to simply nod and walk away. The apology had waited for the coming apocalypse all day, it could stand to wait a bit longer. He wanders through the museum for a bit, trying to decide on a good practice room. Too much glass everywhere was the problem, he decides. He abruptly gets one idea, then another. He ducks outside and purchases a half-dozen apples, then reenters the museum from the back entrance, taking...how did it go? He'd only been there once before, he reflects, munching on an apple as he enters the side staircase. He'd never understood why this staircase didn't link into any of the grand columns that connected the various floors of the museum. Admittedly, it was a very different staircase: it was a dimly lit concrete death trap, far too steep for it's own good. It didn't reach above the ground floor, but it went many floors down. It was locked (presumably at the insistence of The Keep's lawyers), but it didn't take anything of exceptionally high-level clearance to open, just the janitor's key.

Let's see...3rd landing down? No, 4th? Why didn't they label anything in here? It was like the stairwell wasn't supposed to exist. He tries the 4th landing door, and grimaces when it's locked. Going up these stairs is even worse than stumbling down them. The third floor door is unlocked, and reveals a familiar...-ish...hallway. He travels down the hallway, and smiles as the corridor opens up into a breathtaking room. Now this was familiar.

How could he possibly forget this room? It was an exhibit hall, specially built for its specimens. Every wall was covered with Obsidian, etched with large, arcing symbols that glowed orange with an inner light. At least, that was what it looked like from a distance, but as Snowy Skies walked down the stairs and began moving across the raised walkway, he was reminded that the symbols were actually a vast collection of tiny letters, word after word written in some long-forgotten language. As he moved towards the center of the room, the lights dimmed subtly, and Snowy Skies sighed contentedly. Just like before, this room made him feel...important. When he stood in it, he had a distinct feeling that he was a part of something bigger. It was a pleasant feeling, the psychological equivalent to being rocked to sleep with a lullaby in your ears.

So perhaps not the best place to practice, but certainly the safest. After all, he certainly didn't think himself capable of cracking solid obsidian. He lays the 5 remaining apples on the floor in front of him, places the viola on his shoulder and takes the bow in hand, but hesitates. It wasn't like he hadn't thought about weaponizing music before. He (and several poor water glasses, and his apartment's deposit) were fully aware of what the resonant powers of sound could do. The problem was two-sided: on one side magnitude, on the other side control. On the one hoof, while it was not exceptionally difficult to shatter glass, causing serious damage to something as dense and flexible as a pony was laughable (He hadn't the slightest idea what he might do to some nightmarish creature from beyond). On the other hoof, he certainly couldn't go around using techniques that would shatter every window for a mile around, and any technique that was deadly to ponies would be similarly perilous to him.

Given his current condition, though, he had no choice but to find some middle ground. He draws out a long high note, the sort that set his teeth on edge. He tweaked a knob, and the note fell better into place on the scale; familiar notes were easier to work with. He continued playing the note, but gripped it in his magic, gently, and stretched it out, like he was drawing gold wire. The note rose steadily in pitch, causing his ears some brief discomfort before moving out of his hearing range entirely. The apples started to vibrate, but abruptly he felt an awful sense of nausea, like something was relentlessly pounding on the inside of his head. He abruptly stops playing, falling to his hoofs, and mercifully the pounding stops. He grits his teeth "Problem one: feedback." He says aloud, and the writing on the walls seems to pulse in response. He shakes his head and begins to play again, watching the music very carefully as it develops. It goes through everything, he realizes. Literally everything. It always seems to bounce, but some vibration passes through the object. That's what's happening when it resonates me and the apple; more sound is vibrating through us, and it tries to tear us apart. Experimentally, he magically blocks the sound, reflecting it back into the room around him. He can no longer hear the music, but he also feels no discomfort as the apples begin to shake. When one begins to crack he abruptly cuts off the noise, letting them roll to a stop on their own. He can't blow up all his targets yet; everything is so incomplete. His technique protects him, but it is uncontrollable, and renders him deaf. He ruffles his hair as he thinks through and discards a few ideas: letting sound through his barrier periodically, projecting words outside to communicate with others, Emitting quick pulses of high pitch, attempting to lower the pitch instead. The good thing about his shield was that it reflected sound. dampening could be overcome, this literally turned the sound back. He was effectively invulnerable, at least to his own attacks. The drawback was...the shape.

His sound was all around. It traveled everywhere, filled the room. Thus his barrier had to be all encompassing, a square or circular membrane between him and the outside world. What if, instead of enclosing himself, he enclosed the sound? He began to play a normal, slow melody, and carefully shaped a sound barrier around it. His sense of sound was hard to quantify. He didn't see sound, he felt it. It was like...a sixth sense, that extended beyond his body, like sight, but lacked the sensory organs to convert its information into something he could describe to someone. He simply knew, without even hearing it, that there was sound, vibration, focused into a tight cone , beginning at his viola and spreading out up towards the ceiling. He carefully, slowly, lowered his cone towards the cracked apple, and steadily increased the pitch of his notes, building back up to dangerous levels.

He didn't feel a thing, but the apple burst, almost falling apart. The crack must have weakened it to the point where it couldn't survive trying to vibrate itself apart. This time, instead of moving his cone, he anchored it to the violin, and turned his body instead, pivoting to point the cone at another apple. This one, still whole, vibrated for a moment before exploding, in a more violent fashion. This was what happened when internal tension broke down, he understood. Everything that made an apple hard to bite into was removed in an instant, interrupted by his vibrations. But something was missing. The technique was incomplete.

Well for one thing, the cone was impractical. If he was trying to aim farther away, he could end up obliterating whole trees by accident. So he reshaped his sound surrounder (smiling a little at the potential for jokes in the name) from a cone into a cylinder. The sound felt...different somehow, in the new shape. Experimentally, he pointed it at the third target apple, and to his surprise, the apple did not explode. It shook, and then settled, and then shook again...It was a pattern, he realized. The cylinder was allowing for regular reflections of sound waves that the sloped walls of the cone had not, and as a result, the waves were cancelling each other out, then being replaced by his new music. Experimentally, he dissipated the cylinder. In an odd, muffled, cacophony, the apple exploded, flying in random directions, and a soundless collection of vibrations shot through him, stunning him for a moment with their sheer ferocity. Though his hair stood on end, he barely noticed, fascinated by what he had just seen.

Snowy Skies frowned, lost in thought. Sound could heterodyne, and cancel itself out, but it could also amplify, and build itself up. How could he make that happen? He made another cylinder to catch the sound, but this time capped it at both ends, forming a tight space for the sound to emanate into from the point between the bow and the strings. He resumed playing, and saw that even at normal volume, the sound would swell in strength, then drop, then swell, then drop...slowly, he lengthened the cylinder. At about 1.5 times its original length, the dropping stopped. It simply swelled, and swelled, until every cell in his body was screaming at him to move the collection of musi--vibrations, surely this no longer qualified as music--away from him.

This was the hard part. Slowly, very cautiously, he moved the cylinder away from the violin, watching as the vibrations were shepherded along by their magical container. Speeding up a little, he guided the cylinder to his 4th apple. It flew apart, like the others, but something 'flashed' and he instinctively winced away from the scene.

He paused, letting his viola legs rest for the first time in ten minutes. The 'flash' hadn't been a real flash. He hadn't seen it, he had felt it. For a brief moment, his sound sense had disappeared, or perhaps even been obliterated, by the sheer sonic force in that cylinder, like a camera flash overloading the retina. But his sound sense was magical. It was one of the only sensations he had that stemmed from the base of his horn, that felt remotely like his childhood spells had. Experimentally, he lifted the final apple in his telekinesis and held it in the air. He could feel sound again, and it was much easier to move the cylinder now. He felt...in sync with it. It was familiar. He brought the payload closer to the floating apple.

The apple exploded again, and his sound sense whited out for a moment. But a moment before all of that, his telekinesis was cancelled. It just disappeared, cancelled out by the explosion of noise around it. Snowy Skies grins. That was very informative. Sound was, essentially, vibrations, which was energy, at its own core. Magic was just the manipulation of energy too, he supposed. Why shouldn't vast quantities of energy disrupt magical manipulation? And if he could damage magical spells with this, a dream-being held together by a summoning spell should be perfectly susceptible, yes?

He surveyed the damage around him. Mercifully, no apple had leaked onto the obsidian plates. He pulled a roll of paper towels (also recently purchased) out of the bag and began mopping up his mess. Ponies were much more complex than apples, he knew. You could only vibrate one thing at a time, be it blood, plasma, bone, or brain. He certainly couldn't make a pony explode spontaneously, which he was thankful for. It was perhaps more dangerous to how ponies saw him than his old repertoire of spells had had on Steel Flint. But he knew--from experience, at this point--that this noise could shake somepony to their core, and could not be underestimated as an offensive weapon. It was also hard to manipulate, slow-building, and extremely dangerous to move.

He stood up, tossing the used paper towels back in the bag. He had to learn how to manipulate his new sounds more safely. He still had an hour or two before the recital, surely. He just needed to get back and change into his tuxedo 30 minutes before the show. He smiles. It was good to have something new to work on.



Staff member
Council of Elders
Snowy Skies put down his viola and caught his breath. Playing by hoof for an hour straight was exhausting. And yet, he felt buzzed. Manipulating sound like this was easily the most complex magical effect he'd ever attempted, and it was...fun. Dangerous, but fun.

His buzz faded as he made the torturous climb up the three steep flights of stairs. How deep underneath Callabuston was that place? He wonders as he makes his way back to the break room, extricating his tuxedo and smoothly fitting into it. He'd had it tailored, long ago, so that it fit him perfectly, and he was pleased to see that it still fit just the same. It was made of very thin materials, so he wouldn't overheat. The black made him notably less slim, which was good. The extra ten pounds of gut space was actually filled with a complex network of inner jacket pockets, with enough padding so you couldn't tell what was inside (currently nothing, but that could change). With the black and white clothes, the gray coat of hair, and the darker gray mane, he looked an awful lot like he had stepped off the screen of an old uncolored film. He smiles into the small mirror in his locker. It didn't matter that he was tired and more than a little sweaty. This tuxedo always made him feel...bigger. More capable. Thankfully he seemed to have outgrown the Hoofrey Bogart lines, but still. A pony in a suit like this was capable of anything, right?

His network of pockets did not have anything big enough to stow a viola, so he strapped it to his back. Now that he knew what he was doing, he didn't want to be without an instrument at any point. He exited the Keep through his side entrance and winds his way through the streets of Callabuston towards the theater, waiting patiently outside for a few minutes until they were ready to start admitting ticket holders. As one of the only patrons there at the moment, he takes the opportunity to wander around and get a mental map of the building, picking out emergency exits and routes that could be used to run ponies in circles. He also notes admin entrances, trying to sort out where they go. Theaters had whole wings that were off-limits to the public, he knew, and he had a feeling access to the catwalks would prove very useful tonight.

As Snowy Skies surveyed the area, he got a good eye of the layout. There was a larger number of foreign police officers guarding exits to the dance hall than there were watching the Keep the previous night. This also revealed that there were quite a number of exits. It made it harder to watch everything but it also meant there were many options for evacuation. Snowy Skies also spied Tangerine Sands who nodded towards him and silently slipped inside. It was extraordinarily quiet outside with less of a evening buzz than normal.



Staff member
Council of Elders
As Rhapsody updated Night Wings of the various possibilities, several police officers walked in. While some were in the garb of the local police force, others were in sandier colors with differently shaped badges and caps. Night Wings directed them to several entrances and exits that they actively guarded.

As time passed, preparations were made for the charity dinner. Wafting through the air were the succulent and savory scents of various fruits, vegetables, and grains meticulously prepared to satisfy the appetites of denizens of distant desert lands. Slowly, several high society ponies streamed in like water in a canal and intermingled as appetizer trays were passed around by the caterers. As many ponies politely greeted Light Fantastic, one in particular walked up and directly engaged her. A pale purple earth pony mare with a dark purple mane, with a cutie mark of a tan sun with one jump rope above and one jump rope below could be none other than international extreme sports star, Double Dusk. With an impala lily tucked behind one of her ears, she wore a simple sheer white dress.
"Good evening, Light Fantastic," she said with a bow and a smile. "It's an honor to know that such an important work would be performed by one so talented."

Light Fantastic smiled at the pony.

"You flatter me," she said, "I can't take all the credit, though. Without the other dancers, these shows wouldn't be possible. A one-pony performance is an incredibly boring show."

Double Dusk chuckled, "By no means should you disrespect your team but that's a fascinating bit of modesty. Perhaps things may be different for me since I come from the world of extreme sports but there's a lot to be said about a star." Double Dusk then looked over at Rhapsody, "And who is your friend standing here? Someone new to the ballet or perhaps a personal trainer? She does seem quite fit."

"This is Rhapsody," said Light Fantastic, "She's an old friend of mine. We've worked together in the past."

Rhapsody smiles a bit at the complement, of course a sports pony would notice her physique. "Oh nothing quite so fabulous, but thanks for the compliment. I work over at the Keep actually, but I get a lot of exercise and have taken some self-defense classes after a mugging a few years ago." She says, if something was to go down tonight, it would give some cover to why she knows how to defend herself. "If anything, Light could probably teach me a thing or two with those ballet moves of hers." She adds with a playful giggle, after all some athletes do take lessons in such dances to improve their own abilities.

Light Fantastic nodded enthusiastically at Rhapsody's comment.

"Most ponies don't realize just how much work goes into dancing," she said, "Sure it looks all fancy and frou-frou, but all those jumps and twirls take a lot of stamina."

Rhapsody looks over to Double Disk, her ears perking a bit at how Double Dusk phrases her response. "Indeed." the black pegasus replies. "I do a bit of work in the Astronomy department." She adds, deciding to keep it simple as she suddenly doesn't want to reveal too much to a pony she hardly knows, especially with something foul likely to happen this evening.

Double Dusk smiled, "Astronomy seems quite prestigious, considering the planetarium is so large. A dancer, an astronomer, and an extreme sports athlete--it seems we all reach the sky in different! ways, do we not?"

"Oh, I wouldn't call it prestigious, nothing anywhere close to being the top dancer in Equestria or some kind of star athlete; It's not like I am the head of the department or anything. I'm just a pony that likes stargazing, and happens to get paid for it." Rhapsody replies with a gentle shrug and slight giggle, trying come off as modest, while still trying to not reveal a lot of info to Dusk as she downplays how good she is at her day job.

"A mugging sounds absolutely terrible. It's a shame that some ponies would sink to such depths but thankfully, in time, everypony gets exactly what they deserve." Double Dusk adjusted her flower, "You said you worked at the illustrious Equestrian Expedition Keep? In what department? I heard that Ms. Fantastic here actually has a degree in medicine. Is that true?"

"It is," replied Light Fantastic, "I needed something to major in at the School of Gifted Unicorns, and I was drawn to medical magic. It was actually one of my instructors who pointed me towards Miss Half Note and Miss Clover. Without their guidance, I wouldn't be where I am today."

"So...Light Fantastic, what performances do you have planned after this one?"

Light Fantastic was thoughtful for a moment.

I wish I knew what her game was, she thought to herself.

"I honestly can't think of any for the immediate future," she said, "Our company leader did mention something about a performance of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' in honor of Princess Luna, but nothing's been set in stone yet."

At the mention of Princess Luna, Rhapsody's ears perked up a bit. "Oh my, that sound like it would be really wonderful. Doing a special show just for the Princes? That would be quiet an honor."

"Indeed it would," said Light Fantastic, "We'll just have to see if we can swing it."

"Rhapsody?" Dusty Winds flew over to meet with the trio. Unlike usual, she wore a sheer white dress and actually didn't have her bandana on her head. Her short orange mane was neatly brushed and she wore an estatic smile, "Light Fantastic is here, hanging out with Double Dusk? I'm actually wearing the same dress as Double Dusk?!? That's awesome!" "Oh...yes. Awesome."

Rhapsody blinks as another mare joins them, it takes the black pegasus a moment to recognize her, as she didn't see the janitor all that much, and when she did it was never quite this... fancy. "Yeah, its me. I was keeping Light company until miss Double Dusk joined us. We've been chatting for a bit." She says giving a quick explanation of things. "I never would have expected to see you here, Dusty."

Dusty Winds playfully scoffed, "Can't let you have all the fun. Besides, I love ballet and I figured a production this prestigious deserved to be seen. Anypony else from work coming?"

Rhapsody nods to Dusty. "Yeah, I know for sure that amber will be joining us... we're... kinda on a date..." she says with a soft blush, even now she couldn't believe that it was actually happening. "I came early, because our boss gave me a ticket to the Dinner, thinking I could make more use of it then her..." She says, trying imply that this was 'work' related, since the janitor was aware of STOMP.

"Well, I'm sure you have plenty of catching up to do so I must be going." After Double Dusk excused herself, Dusty Winds sighed, "Yeah, it's a shame Aunt Brisk is going to miss this."

After Double Dusk leaves, and is out of ear shot, Rhapsody huffs. "I do NOT trust her. There is something very off about her, and it felt like she was drilling us for information." Rhapsody nods to Dusty. "She's the one that gave me the ticket. She's probably got other things to attend to if she's sending someone like me in her place."

"I agree," said Light Fantastic, "I wish I knew what her game is."

Dusty Winds looked at Double Dusk, then back at her companions in confusion, "Really? What'd she say?"

Rhapsody pauses a moment to consider exactly how to answer it, on the surface the questions seemed innocent and would almost feel like she was being paranoid; but the fact that Light had also picked up on Double Dusk's skeeviness. "Its not so much what she said or asked, but how she asked it. She asked about what I did, becoming really curious after learning I work for the Keep; she asked about Light's future projects. While neither are really flags for suspicion in and of themselves, there was this very subtle feel of being buttered up and interrogated to how she was asking things. Though what initially set off my alarm bells was the emphasis she put on the phrase "In time, everypony gets exactly what they deserve." It almost feels like a promise or a subtle threat..."

Light Fantastic nodded.

"I agree with Rhapsody," she said, "I can't quite put my hoof on it, but something about Ms. Dusk is setting off all kinds of alarm bells for me."

Dusty Winds pondered a bit, "Hmm. While I hope you're wrong, you never know with some ponies. I'll definitely keep my eyes and ears open and let you know if anything happens. For now, I'll be 'investigating' the food offerings." As the charity dinner went underway, it came much closer to the time for the ballet to start.



Staff member
Council of Elders
After a few uneventful hours passed, the work shifts for Static Signal and Amber Spark ended. However, while work had ended, there was still work to be done...

As Static finishes his shift, he puts things away and cleans up as quickly as possible. He had a lot to do and he wanted to get home as soon as possible to get it done.

He grabbed his equipment and went to the door. He opened the door and saw Night Cap on the other side.

You could've nocked! he said, closing the door and locking it behind him. I have a lot to do before the performance tonight. A bit of it is... Static paused. If Night Cap so clearly didn't trust him, how much should he trust Night Cap with what was going on? He shook his head with a sigh.

Maybe if he showed some trust in Night Cap first? This is just between you, me and the other members of STOMP, he said in a hushed tone. Before the ballet tonight, I have to get something to wear. But before I can even do that...

He gave another sigh. There's a COIN operative in my apartment that needs...taken care of. The police are already there. You can come with me if you want, but it would probably be better if you stay out of site. She's only expecting me and it wouldn't do well to get her spooked so she doesn't show up. He turns to face Night Cap with as serious of an expression as he can muster. Can I trust you?

["I could be your new boss!" presumably happened here.]

Static resumed his pace to the front door of the museam. You couldn't be any worse than my last boss, he grumbled.

Anyway, this COIN operative, her name's Dazzling Midnight, tried to recruit me last night. I led her to believe I needed time to think about it. Mean time I came here and told the Ms. Iron about what happened. Tangerine Sands told me earlier that the police already have my place cased. Dazzling should be back to get my answer.

I'm not quite sure what the police need from me, and I'm pretty sure they won't be expecting you. We'll part ways a couple blocks from my apartment. You can...as discreetly as possible...stay hidden and back up the police however you can. I don't want her seeing anypony but me.

"She might have backup. Perhaps they've tried planting someone close to you in order to sabotage any plan like this. Someone who watches you while you work and knows where you've been today. Someone you trust. Does anything ring a bell?"

I mostly work alone. You're not telling me anything I haven't already thought several dozen times today. This isn't something I'm looking forward to.

But if you're suggesting I shouldn't trust anypony...well...not to put too fine a point on it, but that would also include you.

It's like I said, if you can't trust anypony, you're better off going it alone...and I sure as Tartarus don't want to go this one alone.

I trust Mr. Sands. So this is the plan I have to go on. Confront Dazzling Midnight like nothing's amiss and trust the police to be there when things go south.

Oh, and by the way, I may not have your training, but one thing I learned last night, I'm not totally helpless in a fight.

Static raises an eyebrow, stops mid-stride, and turns to face Night Cap. Miles? He could feel his jaw drop. I only live like...5 blocks from here. I did little more than a brisk jog last night and was completely out of breath by the time I got here. I think I need to find out what kind of exercise regimen you're on!

Static starts off again and almost makes it to the door but stops again. Do you think Amber would like to come with us? He thinks about it. After last night, I kinda like having her as a partner. But then, I really should get going. I take too long to get to my apartment, Dazzling might get suspicious.

You're right. I can't afford to dilly dally. Static leaves the museum with Night Cap. And I don't like arrogance.

I'll need to separate from you a couple blocks before we get there. Like I said, I don't want to be seen with anyone. Just find the police and help them however you can.

I live on Hidalgo lane. We should probably part ways at Mane Street.

Static Signal stopped mid-stride, causing Night Cap to stop short, nearly running into him.

Do I detect sarcasm? Because if you contacting the police would only result in a confrontation...maybe you should go back and find Amber...or at least someone a bit more reputable who could vouch for you. I don't want to start a conflict with a police squad...especially if it's going to distract them from guarding my back.

Pony feathers! That's actually a fair question. Static sighed.

Now he was wishing he had sought out Amber before leaving the Keep. Somepony, anypony, that was more reputable...somepony he wouldn't have to convince the police about. Never mind the fact that he barely even knew Night Cap and was becoming less and less certain he was a pony he'd want to vouch for.

Okay, well...I honestly don't know how this is supposed to go down. If we happen to meet the police before we reach Mane Street, I'll talk to the cops and see what you can do. But if we don't meet them before Mane Street, maybe it's better if you go prepare yourself for the ballet tonight. I'll go it alone. If I can, I'll be at the ballet tonight. If not, it was nice knowing you, however briefly.

Thanks for your help. And don't worry too much. I trust Mr. Sands. I have no reason to think he'd steer me towards any unnecessary danger.

Static starts walking again. They start to get close to Mane Street.

As Static Signal reached Mane Street, a unicorn businessmare walked by him. In the back of his mind he heard a voice, "We're watching for Dazzling Midnight so just act natural. You and your friend are just hanging out for a few ciders after work."

Static tried to not react to the voice in his head, though it was a very unexpected and surreal experience. In a hush toned, not even turning he warned Night Cap. Just act natural and come up with me to my apartment.

In a more normal voice he added, come on. After a day like this, I need a drink. Gotta warn you, my apartment's kind of a mess.

Static leads Night Cap to his apartment and opens the door.



Staff member
Council of Elders
Walking a bit more, Static Signal soon arrived at his home. Things were exactly how he left them, including the cool beverages that chilled within his icebox. However, an incident of inebriation would have to wait as an ever so gentle knock upon his door and a familiar voice asked, "Hello, is Static Signal home?"

Static gives a slightly horrified look at the door. Ponyfeathers, that was quicker than I expected! In a slightly louder voice he called out, It's unlocked. Please, come in. I was just getting some cider out of the icebox in inticipation of your arrival. He goes over to the icebox and takes out three bottles, whispering to Night Cap. Don't actually drink any until later. It dulls your senses. He hands Night Cap a bottle and walks over to the door as it opens.

[OOC thread:
You know, the upright, responsible side of me says that we need to keep a clear head for later tonight and that at most Static should only give Night Cap a small taste of cider.

But then there's the side of me that just wants to see what Night Cap is like absolutely jivefaced.]

Mane partially covering one side of her face, Dazzling Midnight calmly walked inside, "Sorry to interrupt this time with your friend but I had hoped to speak with you in private since it's matters of business."

Static closes the door behind Night Cap. "Please be giving the cops the signal to move in," he thinks to himself. He turns his attention to Dazzling Midnight. Sorry about that. New friend I just met. Come on in.

He hands Dazzling Midnight one of the ciders. Just started in myself just before you knocked on the door. Here!

He directs Dazzling Midnight to sit down. I was hoping you'd come by again. Last night was just...it wasn't a good night by any stretch of the imagination. How did that operation of yours go?

Dazzling Midnight picked up the cider bottle with her magic and sat down, "It didn't go as planned but c'est la vie. Seems a little restructuring is in order and more help would be appreciated. Hopefully you've come to a decision on the offer to join us?"

Static moves to the windows to open the curtains, seeing if he could see any of the police. He waves Dazzling Midnight over. It's a beautiful sight, isn't isn't it? Static makes a subtle move behind Dazzling so she can't see, hoping that whatever cop is looking in on them gets the idea. I mean, I'm just on the other side of the street from living in the slums, the only diners anywhere close are all dives and this building itself I truly think should be condemned. [Come on! Bust through the door already!] So you can see why your offer truly intrigues me. In fact, only a few doubts remain, a few...questions. I'm sure you'd be able to clear them up real fast and we can put all this business behind us and I'll be on my way to a heck of a lot better future. [Come on! There's only so long I can stall.]

The thing is, as much of a rat hole as this may be to live in, it's my rat hole. It's my place of safety. It's where I can go at the end of the day and leave the whole world out there. That doesn't work if I start making a lot of enemies who know where I live. [Come on! What are you waiting for?]

That having been said, you told me that I wouldn't have to quit my current job..."and to be honest it would be...advantageous...if you didn't" he quoted, putting as much emphasis on the word 'advantageous' as he could.

What did you mean by advantageous? Would my job be to actually spy on my present employer? Because I gotta tell you, I've gotten to know very few people at the Keep. But the one's I have gotten to know have made it very clear to me that you do not buck with the Keep. And like I said, I'd hate to have to move because I've made too many enemies.

Dazzling Midnight chuckled, "You're doing a marvelous job of stalling. Well...I guess there's no more point in needlessly obstructing my vision..." While there was a smile on her face, her tone of voice had a harsher edge to it. There also seemed to be subtle accent as if she were from Prance or Loisianeigh. She rather casually moved her mane out of her face only to hear, "FREEZE! YOU'RE UNDER ARREST!" The curtains shut as a unicorn officer turned visible, a pegasus officer flew out of the closet, and an earth pony officer dropped down from the ceiling. The smile didn't leave Dazzling Midnight's face as she looked directly in the eyes of Static Signal, "For your sake, I hope we never meet again." She then disappeared in a puff of black sparkles, leaving the cider bottle suspended in midair.

Static looked around at the officers bewildered. Right...well...I don't think I'll ever have the hiccups again for the rest of my life. Static looked out the window to the view outside his window he'd never even looked at until tonight.I guess it's time to think about finding another place to live.

He looked around at his apartment. The fridge belonged to the landlord. That left him with a table and a couch. That was it. Not even a bed. He slept on the couch. Well, at least it shouldn't be too hard to pack.

With a sigh he called out. Night Cap, if you're still within earshot, you can come back in. It's over.

He grabbed the bottle from out of midair. Didn't even bother to open it. He took his cider over to the sink and poured it out. He also opened Dazzling Midnights bottle. Pony feathers, I've been needed one of these ever since last night. With a heartfelt sigh, he poured Dazzling's cider down the drain. He could get to the rest of the cider later. These two bottles were meant to be symbolic.

He looked at the clock. He still had plenty of time to get to the ballet. He needed to get something to wear. He wasn't sure how long that would take.

But first, he had visitors. He looked to the police force filling his apartment. What now?

The unicorn mare spoke up, "We've got a watch over the area. There was a field put up to prevent teleporting so it should have stopped her outright or at least reduced her distance. The blinds were closed so she wouldn't be able to use line of sight. It's just that...

When she winked out, something about it was just wrong. I think I'm going to be sick."

The officer started out pretty level headed but by the time she was finished speaking, she sounded like she was on the verge of tears. The earth pony officer then spoke up, "There's something rather worrisome about the mare you encountered. In a situation like this, you will be relocated. The city will cover rent at your new home for the first three months. We will also assist in helping you move."

If you need to throw up, the bathroom is down the hall and to the right. If you don't make it...no worries. I have a history of heavy cider drinking and...well...the floor has a bit of a history with that as well.

Night Cap reenters, still holding his unopened cider.

"Did I miss the whole thing?"

There wasn't much to miss. The police ran in and she ran off.

And there it was again, the adrenaline rush that accompanied these STOMP assignments, the feeling of being truly alive. And this time...nopony got hurt! Static couldn't help but chuckle to himself.

When the officer looked at him strangely because of the chuckle, he could only shrug. I'm alive, Static said simply, how can I not laugh?

Static came back down to reality and turned to the police officer in charge.If we're done here, we should probably get going. Night Cap and I are working security for another function tonight and I need to get to a tailor.

"I don't know if you told us too much information or just enough that we know to come through here with bleach, soap, and bleach. Besides, I'm sure you may have clothing or paperwork from your job, though admittedly it shouldn't be that heavy. We'll seek you out later but your new home will be at High Street W. As far as Dazzling Midnight," The earth pony officer rather seriously looked at Static Signal, "She mentioned 'stalling'. She figured out that this was a trap and was just toying with you. It's nothing to take lightly. Aside from that, I hope it's a good tailor.

Static looked down at the ground for a moment. Yeah, this meeting was a lot less pleasent than the first time we met. She's quite impressive...in a psychotic sort of way. Best I never meet her again. Static took a deep breath, meeting the earth pony officers eyes. High Street W. Thank you. You all really saved my neck. Celestia knows what could have happened if...well...I think I'm going to have more nightmares at any rate. But thank you.

Static walked to his closet and got out his old suit from when he was interviewing for jobs. It was smaller than he remembered, certainly wouldn't fit. He had hoped that the tie would at least be usable, but it was too small as well. It was a faded, tattered mess. He wasn't sure what he could get for it on a trade in, but there was only one way to find. out.

Static took out the note Ready Quill had given him and gave a look to Night Cap. Right...off we go. Don't want to be late to the production. Static picked up his equipment and walked out of the apartment. What a rat hole! Can't say I'll miss it.

["Do you think she bought my lie?']

Static looked puzzled. What lie? I thought she had a perfectly fine mane...along with other fine...assets. Too bad she was a complete psycho.

Honestly, it's possible. She was toying with me. I mean, I was toying with her as well, but it seemed she was doing a better job at it. Static sighed. How did a museum projectionist make so many enemies in the space of two nights?

But I seriously doubt you're a target. For one thing, aside from just being there, you didn't really do anything. I'm her real target...maybe the police after me. But she'd have to be really petty to go after someone who was basically a bystander. I figure she's got bigger issues.



Staff member
Council of Elders
Static and Nightcap arrive at the tailors. Static smiles politely at the stallion behind the counter as they walk in. Hello! Brisk Iron sent us. I know it's short notice, but I was hoping there was something that cold be done for us tonight? We have a ballet we're going to in ...Static looks at a clock...a couple hours and need something appropriate. I have this to trade in if it'll help.

The stallion had a brief look of shock from Static Signal's announcement that soon grew to a warm smile, "It's always a pleasure to serve one of Brisk Iron's employees. My lovely wife will..." "Already on it. Sized him up as he entered the door." She swooped up the coat with her magic and then began to cut with her scissors, "We'll get your friend in a moment but for now I've got the perfect thing. This coat is excellent because this ! shade of brown is quite vintage and serves an excellent color contrast to your bright mane. For the ballet, you don't neccesarily need a full suit. A tie, a nice collar, and some gumption will go a long way. I'll throw in a second tie since there's enough material for it and it's always good to have a spare. Take a look in the mirror and see if you like it."

Static hated ties, hated suits. He was certain he was going to despise anything that came his way. Still, he wasn't going to be rude. He took the tie and put it on. He looked in the mirror and was pleasantly surprised.

It...it looks perfect! Thank you. Static hands the second tie over to Night Cap. How much?

The mare politely yet firmly pulled the tie out of Night Cap's grasp with her magic, "This tie simply doesn't suit you. It takes a certain kind of pony to pull off a monochromatic look." "Also, the request was 'fancy'. Hold on a moment..." The stallion rang up Static Signal's ties and stuck a business card in the bag. "I'm getting ideas but I need to know, what is your budget for this? Is it just for tonight or will you be keeping it?"

Monochromatic? My mane and coat are two completely different colors.

[something something "My budget is flexible"]

Static pays his bill and subtly distances himself at the mention of Night Cap's budget. He's pretty sure the mare notices.

[OOC thread: Just to be clear, Static's only paying for his own suit. If Night Cap even tries to pin the bill for his suit on Static, Static's walking right the hug out!]

"Ah-ahm, hello?" said Amber in a small voice from the front door, slightly anxious at seeing her coworkers in the shop ahead of her. "Um, I had a bit of difficulty finding your establishment - nothing to do with you, you understand, I'm not suggesting that you should move, really, I'm simply terrible with directions - but I have heard that this is simply the most exemplary apparel shop in town, and I have a date tonight at a formal event, and I'm - ah - honestly not very fashionable, if you understand ...."

Static perks up at the new visitor. Amber! Well, good to see you again. Static goes over to talk to Amber and leaves Night Cap in the capable hooves of the store clerk. Yeah, fashion can be a hard thing to grasp. I'm not quite certain I tied this thing correctly myself, he says, tugging at his tie. You have a date? I...hope I'm not intruding being there. Who's the lucky stallion?

Static throws a glare at Night Cap, not because he said a thing offensive, but, how does a freelancer make more than me he mutters so only Amber could hear.

"Lucky ... stallion," Amber repeats. "Well, yes, you see, there's someone from the astronomy wing - you understand, I don't think it's good practice to date within one's workplace, I understand that there are possible conflicts of interest, you see, but I've never really attempted - um, ah - I've never really made much an attempt at dating, you see, and even as a young filly, I never had much interest in - um - colts, really always seemed to be busy with something, and then something fell from the sky and wrapped me in a - " Amber shook her head. "This astronomer is someone whom I don't work directly alongside in any capacity except -" she glanced around the room - "certain interdepartmental activities, you understand, and it was during a recent, um, excursion with this interdepartmental program with which you and I are both also associated that I met Rhapsody. Tough, no nonsense, very efficient, but so caring - oh, but I'm rambling, you see, I'm a little nervous as you might expect! I think you'll quite like ... her...."

"Flexible can mean any number of things and we want to make sure we design within your means. Payment is up front and we'd hate for you to pick something out that you can't afford." The mare pointed her horn at the door, "I take one, you take one?" "Of course." Amber felt herself being forcefully pulled into the room. "Let's see what we've got here. Oh. Your hair. It's..." The stallion looked over to his wife and frantically shook his head. "...quaint! You have very quaint hair."

Static raised an eyebrow. Her? Well, how about that! Well I hope you two will he turns around to see that Amber has already been whisked away and was now being critiqued never find yourselves talking to yourself like a dolt.

Wait a minute...bad idea to date within one's workplace? Does...does that include mares who are just visiting and are going to be gone in a few days? Because...well...ponyfeathers!



Staff member
Council of Elders
"Um, ah, thank you," said Amber, glancing up at her bangs. "I suppose I've nearly always worn it in this style...."

"Understandable. Just coming at a blank since things need to flow together and...and your hair..." "Trade?" "Oh yes, please." The mare and stallion switched places. He chuckled, "We all have our strengths and weaknesses. She's not too keen on harder angles with hair but it seems to suit you. You may or may not want a mild trim of a centimeter or so. Trimming the bangs can bring out your eyes while leaving the bangs this length and trimming the rest makes others read a hint of shyness. Of course, you can keep it this length, your choice." Meanwhile, the mare studied Night Cap, "See, exact prices help. Do you see yourself as more shades or monocle kind of stallion?"

Static walks over with a grin on his face. I'd say trim the bangs. Anything to make you look more assertive. Anyone who's met you knows your shy side, if you don't mind me saying. You should totally surprise her. Let her know there's so much more to you.

He then looks to Night Cap. Please go for the shades. If you go for the monocle, I'd likely laugh myself sick!

"Oh, um - " Amber didn't realize that there was going to be mane trimming involved, but these were the experts, after all. "Yes, um - shyness, hmm? Well, I don't suppose - I certainly - "

She turned to Static as he spoke. "I have a shy side?" she asked. "Hmm. Well, I shall trust your judgement, Static. The bangs and the eyes it is, Mr. ..."

Well, here's the thing, Static said cautiously. They can make you look assertive. The trick is if you can be assertive. Which, yes, I know you can. I've seen shades of it. But the "Oh, um, yes, um" doesn't really help your case. You gotta feel it. Know in your gut that you deserve this mare and that you're the best thing that's ever happened to her.

When she first sees you in your dress, she needs to be so stunned that she can barely speak...totally take her breath away.

Static then turns to Night Cap. Seriously, do the shades. There is no possible way I'm taking you seriously with a monocle!

Static face hoofs and decides to focus his attention on Amber.

Amber nodded to Static but looked apprehensive as he talked about "deserving this mare." Did she, really? It seemed in inopportune time to ask herself the question.

"Yes, I understand, Static," she said, nodding her head and looking determined. "You do sound to be quite the expert in dating."

Heh! I know enough all the advise I've been given in the past. Being able to put it into practice...well...I'll let you know after tomorrow night.

"Fabulous. Now, do you have any allergies? Wouldn't want your outfit to be unpleasant, even if it wound up free." "Close your eyes." The stallion made a few scissor snips, then lightly brushed Amber's hair and held up a mirror, "Wonderful. Nothing too drastic. Now, with your mane and coat you seem to be relatively eggplant--purple base with green trim. Keeping up with the theme of angles, I'm thinking a dress with subtle horizontal lines. Nice green belt, dress ties around the neck so it leaves the ba! ck and withers visible. Maybe even change the color of the frame of your glasses to match the outfit. Sound good?"

Static looks lopsided at Amber. I don't know. On the one hoof, few ponies can pull off the meganekko look. You're one of those ponies. And it seems so central to your personality. Not sure about changing it. On the other hoof...I don't know. Guess it doesn't hurt to see what the choices are.

"Hmm. Yes, whatever you think is best, sir," Amber said. She gave Static an odd look at his slip into what sounded like Neighonese but nodded. "Yes, I think it's worth running the tests before drawing any conclusions, don't you?"

Quite! Static agreed.

And hey! It's your outfit. Just tell me if I get too overbearing. It's just interesting to me seeing a completely different side of you that's not work related. I don't know, I guess I just never considered that...go figure...ponies I know from work actually have a life outside of it.

Static took a look at the now monocle wearing Night Cap and facehoofed again. Some revelations are better than others.



Staff member
Council of Elders
"If you're wearing The Special, you'll have to sign this waiver. To pay for the free rental, we place a simple advertisement spell on you that wears off after a few hours."

"Um, oh," Amber said as the glasses were traded around her, then shook her head as she remembered Static's advice. The glasses seemed quite gaudy to her, and she would have been as worried about being seen in them as seeing through them, but having not considered trying a different style of glasses in quite some time, she did feel a little let down by the tailors' reactions. Fashionable ponies did sometimes wear such things, but even Amber knew that one did not become fashionable by pretending to understand why.

Amber hadn't noticed the display until Static pointed it out, and suddenly found it rather odd for a dress shop to include a display case of eyeglasses. She looked it over quickly and spotted a pair that seemed a bit more confident of their own geometry, simple and black with semicircular lenses in simple half-loop fames.

"These, then," she said, raising them from the case magically. "If you think we ought to draw attention to my eyes, she may as well be able to see them."

She turned her attention to the dress taking shape.

"During conversation, you will sometimes casually make a simple advertisement for our shop." The mare responded to Night Cap. The stallion sighed and turned to look at Amber, "As far as the glasses are concerned, I have a difficult question that determines my response on their need: Who are you?"

Amber blinked. "Amber Spark, a researcher with the Equestrian Expedition Keep. I'm not entirely certain that I caught your name, sir...?"

He gave a subtle smile,
"My name is Linen Blast and my wife is Silk Dazzle. You said your name and where you work...but you didn't actually say who you are."

I - ah - I like to make puzzle cubes in my spare time. Little ones, you know. Ah.

How would a confident pony answer this question? Amber thought. How would Rhapsody? Amber hadn't been expecting philosophical introspection as a part of this "fashion" process, and yet it seemed somehow that everything just might depend from her answer to this question. What kind of pony was she, what kind of pony did Rhapsody need, and what kind of glasses did that pony wear?

"I keep clocks ticking on the part of fine craftsponies who are no longer around to keep them up, Mr. Blast," Amber said. "And I'm as dependable as any watch movement for the friends who depend on me."

Static took a few steps back, bowing out of the conversation as it turned to the philosophical "who am I?"

"Who am I?" He thought to himself. He looked to Night Cap and his suit...a lonely colt trying to prove to the wrong people who he was by being anypony but himself. He looked to Amber, a homely mare too shy and too obsessed with work to be aware of the self-confident and beautiful mare inside struggling to get out. Then he looked at himself...a tie. He was...a tie.

He backed even further away, letting the tailors do their job.

Linen Blast gave a knowing nod, "Sharp. Orderly." Amber Spark felt a very brief and gentle tug on her bangs and her glasses, "Angles. My wife and I don't use fashion to try to change a pony--we try to bring out what's there already. I should probably ditch the neck ties and adjust this to a tube top. This outfit helps showcase your orderly nature but with a splash of color. Static Signal here is a vivid color but a simple tie shows dependability and familiarity. Night Cap explicitly requested fancy and free publicity is a good thing." "Speaking of which, you are correct that if you are actively advertising 'The Linen Blast & Silk Dazzle Tailor Shop', the spell won't activate. However, it also helps preserve the enchantment on the suit that returns it to us in the morning." "But getting back to you Amber, don't be overly worried of what others think if you are taking the effort to look presentable. If they can't handle that, you should dump them faster than coffee grounds the cat's spilled ketchup into." "Mrow?" "Oh, we've forgiven you. Just talking to the customers." "Mrow." "Anyway, see how this fits you, Amber."

"It only works with this suit, which we only have one of. I'll prep the spell while you put it on."

Amber keeps the glasses close as she smiles and nods at Linen Blast and draws the dress over her, unconsciously craning her neck a bit as she adjusts. She seems to shiver slightly and shakes out the fabric, smiling, and turns around to face Static. "Well, Static, how do I look?"

Static looks up from his introspection to look at Amber. He can feel his jaw hit the floor. Sweet Luna! [Easy there, Static. She's into mares you know.] What I mean to say is... [And she's already taken] That is... [ANCHORS AWAY!]

Static shakes out of it. This Rhapsody is a very lucky mare.

Amber grinned and looked slightly sheepish. "Ah, excellent. Thank you, Static," she said.

"Hmm. I'm having something of a week, Mr. Blast - I think I might want to change myself, even only a little bit. Let's take efforts, then."

Amber focused on the two pairs of glasses, lifting them in front of her magically, and began to unpeel the lenses from both sets of frames. She closed her eyes and tightly inspected her mental picture of the new frames, then mentally laid out her tools, heating, pounding, coaxing the metal against an imaginary anvil. Out in the reality of the shop, quite out of Amber's mind, the metal teased and pulled of its own accord.

As Amber Spark slipped into her outfit and modified her glasses, the couple waved their horns rhythmically towards Night Cap. As a soft teal glow filled the room, Night Cap could feel something akin to an ever so gentle brushing over his body but it radiated through his mind. As they finished, Linen Blast turned back to Amber and seemed shocked, "Oh wow. Most of those were props or standardized prescriptions for reading glasses. Well, I guess I'll throw those in at no extra cost." After paying for their outfits, the group set out for the ballet. On the way there, it was extraordinarily quiet outside with less of a evening buzz than normal. As they arrived, a line had formed but ponies seemed to now being allowed inside.



Staff member
Council of Elders
As ponies from outside were being let in, ticket holders from the charity dinner had already been allowed to sit down. Rhapsody had a front row seat and it seemed like Dusty Winds had a conspicuous empty seat on one side of her as Rhapsody saw hers was on the other. Meanwhile, Light Fantastic went back to her room to get dressed for the performance.

Having never been to a function like this, Static didn't notice anything abnormal about the silence. He stood in line with the others.

So is Rhapsody already here or is she coming later?

Static was a little on edge as they walked to the ballet. It feels like a ghost town! What are the odds that everypony is at this thing. When they got there and the line didn't account for the utter deadness of the city, he muttered again. I don't like this. The city is just too dang quiet.

Fnu Aw:
Night Cap nervously looks around for anyone he recognizes."I do hope Sands will be able to get me in."

Static facehoofs...a habit he noticed he seemed to be getting around Night Cap. You don't have a ticket?

Amber thanked Mr. Blast sincerely and repeatedly for the glasses frames and immediately found herself distracted by any nearby mirrors and reflective surfaces; she really did feel rather fashionable in the new dress. Her anxieties about her date and about seeing Toni again after so long - and the possibility of an attack by an ancient and powerful queen of Anugypt, she occasionally reminded herself - aside, she couldn't help thinking about how she must look as she walked down the street with Static and Mr. Cap, and had to resist the urge to stop and cross her hooves fillyishly, enjoying the feeling of the flowing sleeves orbiting her fetlocks.

"Oh, yes, of course," she said, distractedly, as Static and Mr. Cap discussed Mr. Cap's ticket situation. She drew the final spare ticket from her bag. "Courtesy of Hazel Naught in accounting, I suppose, Mr. Cap."

Static gave a sigh of relief. Problem solved! Static looked up the line. He tried to keep his voice down so nopony but Amber and Nightcap could hear. Does anyone else find it disconcerting that we're allowing all these innocent civilians into an event that's likely to be the sight of an epic battle against an undead Anugpt queen who's made a habit of foal napping ponies without a trace?

"Hmm. Yes, I suppose that does seem rather unwise of us. I worry that somepony's contribution may have unduly colored Ms. Flint's perception of the gravity of the situation," said Amber, shooting a look at Night Cap too brief to make eye contact. "But most importantly, Static, we will be there. I must say that I'm not entirely comfortable with our new role as - some sort of monster hunters - instead of protecting the Keep's discoveries, but I think our performance last night was quite satisfactory in repelling COIN's attack. Whatever we're facing tonight, I know that we ! can protect the civilians of Caballuston, particularly with Rhapsody's assistance. I think it's best to focus on the most likely outcome of tonight's events - that we'll all simply have the chance to partake in a stunning performance and deal with this resurrected queen business in the morning. I can't say that I'm not concerned about Ms. Zag, and I do wish that we could help her immediately, but if this really is our best chance for finding her, as well...."

Static gave a lopsided grin in response to Night Cap. Yeah, if I'd ever gone to any events before, I'm sure they would.

He then turned to Amber. I...think we got incredibly lucky last night. I know if I were one of these ponies out for a good time, I wouldn't be too happy to learn my life was knowingly placed in danger at the whim of a museum employee.

Not that there's anything to be done about now, I suppose. But just so we're on the same page, if we have a choice between capturing this queen or saving one of these ponies...

"Well, yes, Static, any efforts we make to stop the queen will after all be intended to protect ponies." Amber paused, seeming distracted by something Static had said. "Capture?" she repeated. "Oh my, you don't think she might know the secret of how the tetrahedra were built - or the recipe of ancient Anugyptian concrete! - " Amber exclaimed, turning away from Static and trotting faster as she ran over the possibilities.

Static catches Amber Applejack style. Woah there! There's still a line to go through and these ponies don't look like they'll take too kindly to cutters. I have no idea what you were just talking about. I only meant "capture" in the way that it was made abundantly clear to me that we do not "kill."

Amber realized that she had wandered out of their place in line and followed Static back to Night Cap. "Oh," she said, seeming slightly disappointed. "But yes, of course you're right, Static, our first obligation is to protect these innocent patrons of the performing arts."

Static nodded as they took their places back in line and took a deep breath. Good to hear.

Please don't do that again. I may be decent in a fight (a surprise to even myself), but I'm still sorely out of shape. Running...not good for a pony. Static doubles over, still trying to catch his breath. Sweet Luna I could use a cider!

Fnu Aw:
"What is it about cider that's so appealing? Is it so very refreshing?"

Not at all. If anything, it's dehydrating. And for your sake, I hope you never figure out its appeal.

A particularly well dressed gentlecolt who was waiting in line looked Night Cap up and down until saying, "I say, that is a simply smashing outfit. Is it from Prance?"

"Quite fortuitous that somepony local would have such talent. I'll have to peruse their wares when my schedule permits." The line began moving and the gentlecolt's attention traveled back towards the front.

Static looked impressed at the interaction between Nightcap and the gentlecolt. Well, what do you know. I guess Night Cap found his element and was actually right about the monocle. He says to himself. He turns to Amber with a sigh. I'm either having a really strange nightmare or I've finally gone completely crazy.

Amber nodded. "I suppose that fashion may be a field that will remain forever beyond my expertise," she said.



Staff member
Council of Elders
As they find their seats (or whatever you want to call the pony equivalent), Static sets up his equipment. They're not the best seats of the house, but he's still able to get a pretty decent shot of the stage and an angle for getting crowd shots. He takes some preliminary footage of ponies coming in and taking their seats. He then waits for the act to start.

The whole time he looks for anything suspicious. He's not used to these kinds of gatherings, so he's not quite sure what "suspicious" would include, but he keeps an eye out for anything that definitely just isn't right.

Snowy Skies spies Static, Amber and--goddesses, was that Night Cap?--coming into the building, but fails to make himself heard over the rumble of the shifting crowd. Persistently, he threads his way after them, following them all the way to their seats before he finally catches up. He's about to open his mouth and properly greet them when he registers Amber's glasses. "They're...beautiful." He says unconsciously, resisting the urge to lift them off Amber's face and inspect them. The shape, the etchings, the sheen..."It's perfection in metallurgy." He says, completely enraptured. "Who made these?"

Amber immediately scanned the room for Rhapsody, while wondering if there was time before the performance to visit the orchestra pit and say hello to Toni. But she had scarcely entered when Snowy Skies addressed her, and she had scarcely time to scowl before blinking in shock that Mr. Skies seemed to be complimenting her.

"Mr. Skies, hello, so very nice to see you here," she said quickly. "I, ah, purchased the frames along with my dress at the local tailor's, run by a Ms. Dazzle and a Mr. Blast. I, ahm," she paused and grinned shyly, "I added the scrollwork and the patina myself. You know, I've always had an affection for Reneighssance metalwork, just a touch of floret and flourish, you know," she said. "Do you think they're ... fashionable?" she asked, suddenly uncertain of herself.

The necessities of participating in casual conversation broke the spell, and Snowy Skies shook his head lightly, hoping to clear it. "Fashion is not something I could hope to keep track of, but I think they have an inner glow, which they quietly impart to your face. Much of my understanding of aesthetic comes in the form of color mixing, and the bronze matches your skin nicely." He says, awkwardly adjusting a hoof cuff. "I really shouldn't be surprised that you made them your--" His brain abruptly registers the hints and flashes of Night Cap's outfit he's been getting around Amber, and he awkwardly stops mid-sentence to lean around the mare and observe...the full sartorial splendor of the stallion. He very quickly pulls himself back and shuts his eyes, resisting a variety of urges, among them the urge to vomit and the urge to knock Night Cap to the floor, expounding loudly upon the right of a stallion to follow his own way, regardless of the tyranny other ponies might force upon him. "You said you designed them yourself? How did you...how did you alter the frames?" He says, valiantly trying to continue his conversation with Amber despite his closed eyelids (and the image seared onto the back of them).

"My training is in restorations and replicas, Mr. Skies," Amber said, still feeling somewhat shy and humbled - nopony had ever taken much interest in her puzzle boxes, and while she was used to professional approval of her work, it never seemed quite so - personal? Spontaneous? "I trained at the Barb School of Cursorial Studies. I'm used to working with my hooves, you know - I honestly find it much more satisfying - but given the circumstances today, since I needed the frames altered rather quickly, I used my magic. It's something I've been able to do since - oh, my, it must have been around the time of my cutesinera." Amber's mind drifted to the image of a misshapen iron ashtray and shook her head. "I've, ahm, improved rather a bit since then. But I just - ah - start a conversation with the metal and show it what I'd like it to do. As long as we both understand each other, I think it can go quite well," she said, smiling.

At the mention of a cutesinera, Snowy Skies' eyes harden, and he glances back at his own flank, momentarily covered by his tuxedo pants, but he pulls his focus back into the conversation, intrigued by Amber's perspective on shaping things. "I couldn't imagine doing something like with sound. It's far too nebulous, and wishy-washy. If you're not forceful with it, it just fizzles like a weak note." He smiles a little, but as he remembers his own weak notes, the smile takes on a sad quality.

Being in the front, it was easy to take notice when ponies entered the auditorium of the theater, though when Static walked up to the seats Rhapsody looks over to the stallion. Of course she couldn't address him as if she knew him, but it also made her look around more to see if she could find Amber as well. She walks past Static as he is setting up his equipment, deciding to let Amber do introductions for them later as the simplest way around meeting him again.

Rhapsody walks up to Amber and smiles. "Well, you certainly cleaned up nice for our date." She replies a bit teasingly. She hadn't expected Amber to get such a makeover; as the beige pony seemed to have much more simple tastes and thought she would just have worn a simple dress. Stepping closer she gives Amber a warm kiss on the cheek, as she was still unsure just how much affection to show this early on in a relationship.

Amber looked puzzled for a moment. "I always did think Toni's approach - my sister, Sepia Tone, she's performing tonight, you see - with her music seemed very - structured, refined. Confident. I suppose that I - well, you know, I can appreciate a well-executed piece of music as well as anypony, but I really suppose that I don't have the head for it, myself. The way Toni would draw her bow so strictly, like a precise cut -" Amber felt she might be rambling again, but Mr. Skies seemed genuinely interested in the conversation. "With metal, it's all very different. A steel strip that you've bent in a loop or twisted helically remembers being straight, and there are all sorts of tensions and currents in it, all in a balance that makes it what it is. Deep down, there are crystals and strands and folds. They're stronger than you are, after all, and you need them on your side. It's no good forcing and giving them a wrong -"

Amber had nearly forgotten herself and where she was as she spoke, and then she saw Rhapsody.

Rhapsody was simply stunning. Amber didn't need to know the fine particulars of the art of fashion to notice. The shimmering color of her gown, the fine arcs that drew perhaps more of Amber's attention than she would have willed to another fine balance of powerful forces as the mare trotted confidently toward her. Static's words about "deserving" Rhapsody flicked to mind - and the thought that if Amber had "cleaned up" for Rhapsody's sake, was Rhapsody's "cleaning up" for Amber? - and a part of Amber wanted to scream or bolt. Amber mumbled a "Rhapsody, it's good to see you, yes, thank you very much" as the pegasus stepped up to her. She closed her eyes unconsciously and seemed to inflate slightly as Rhapsody kissed her cheek. Amber's eyes locked with Rhapsody's.

"Ahm, Rhapsody, I'm - I'm very happy to see that you made it," she said, "Thank you. You look - very nice yourself tonight," she said, almost squeaking.

Static grinned as Snowie fumbled over talking to Amber. He grinned even wider as his first meeting with the stallion came to mind. Am I interrupting a moment? he teased Snowie.

He shuffled out of the way as Rhapsody walked by and gave a polite nod. You must be Rhapsody. It's amazing the affect you seem to have on Amber. It's good to meet you, finally.



Staff member
Council of Elders
Night Cap does not react as Snowy chats with Amber, but the arrival of Rhapsody draws his full attention. He expected Snowy, but hadn't seen Rhapsody all day and the possibility of her attendance slipped his mind.

He smiles and waves vigorously.

What efffect? Well, she certainly didn't dress this...way...for...me. Something distracts Static briefly. He shakes it off but a look of concern crosses his face. Snowy, a word with you, please?

He takes Snowie aside (a.k.a. PM).

Curious about the commotion, Dusty Winds flew over to the group. Staring at Amber Spark in confusion, she tilted her head until asking, "Amber, is that you?"

Amber wasn't certain how to comment on the discussion of "effects" Rhapsody may or may not have on her, or the gravity, air pressure, and lighting of the room. She stepped closer to Rhapsody and made a soft nuzzle into her neck as the discussion seemed to - well, it certainly seemed to be happening, still, but couldn't have had any particular relevance.

She looked up at Ms. Winds' voice. "Yes, of course, Ms. Winds," she said, smiling. "I really can't imagine who else I might be at the moment." [Editor note: God I love Amber]

Dusty Winds chuckled, "Sorry about that. Almost didn't recognize you without your glasses."

"Hmm," Amber said. She wasn't sure, but perhaps not being recognized was something of a compliment. "Yes, I do think these new frames are a bit more suiting - and I scarcely recognize myself in this dress," she said with a giggle. She looked in Night Cap's direction as he addressed Rhapsody. A touch of confidence from the dress, her success with the frames, Rhapsody standing so close that she could feel her warmth, the jovial atmosphere, and Amber found herself compelled to act in a way that she couldn't have predicted. As if the situation around her was hers, and she could! shape it like any piece of metal, with the right understanding.

"Oh, Rhapsody," she asked, turning to face her. "Do you know this stallion?"

As Night Cap trots over to her, Rhapsody blinks as she looks to him. She wanted to facehoof right there... She had thought she over-dressed... but certainly if you were to look up over-dressed in a dictionary for sure there would be Night Cap in this ridiculous get up of his. But it is when Amber speaks up that she gets an awful idea... a wonderfully awful idea, and she is not sure how she manages to hide the smile as she turns her head to Amber and looks to her marefriend straight faced. "Oh gosh no, I've never seen this stallion before in my life. But he certainly look very pompous, I not the sort of pony I would ever have! in my entourage. Maybe he has confused me with someone from one of his obviously higher social circles."

"Hmm. Yes, I suppose you're quite right; he's probably in a whole other world than ours," said Amber, smiling, eyes still locked with Rhapsody's.

"By the way, have any of you seen Aunt Brisk? I know she wouldn't be able to make it to the charity dinner but I hoped she wouldn't miss the ballet."

Static nods to Snowy and turns back to the others. Oh come on, now. He may be that embarrassing brother that you try to distance yourself from in a crowd dress up like that...but let's not be mean, he says, firmly convinced of his earlier observation of a lonely pony trying to fit in. At least not too much, he couldn't help but add with a chuckle.

He turns specifically to Amber. Sorry to take you away from your marefriend, but I need to talk to you for a second.


"No, I haven't seen Ms. Iron," said Amber. "I know that she meant to attend - Ms. Flint mentioned as much," she said.

Amber turned to Static, but kept her expression noncommittally vacant as Static talked about Night Cap. Still, she followed him aside. Marefriend. Amber felt her heart skip a cog every time anypony said the word.

Amber listened to Static's explanation. "Yes, I understand," she said, her expression suddenly quite serious. "The same thing was happening to Ms. Hazel Naught today - I'm going to have to retract my earlier skepticism; I think we're in for the full performance tonight."

Static sighed. This isn't quite what I expected when I interviewed to join ST...our...little group. Fisticuffs against a secret organization trying to steal artifacts is one thing. But this...I don't think I even believed in the supernatural until tonight.

Static grins. Hey, if we didn't tease you, how else would you know we cared? Besides, I warned you about the monocle. And I have to admit, I kinda stopped paying attention after you ignored me about the monocle, so the hat...well... Static is at a loss for words. He gets in closer to Night Cap, his tone more serious. Honestly, Night Cap. Who are you trying to impress? Us? Cause you shouldn't have to go to such lengths to impress your friends. And if you're trying to impress them he says, indicating the rest of the stuck up and snooty high class, you're playing to the wrong crowd.

Rhapsody looks over to Dusty. "Last time I seen her was this morning, when we had our discussion and she gave me the ticket to the Dinner."

Much like Amber, Rhapsody's expression remains neutral as Static's comments about Night Cap. She then looks back to Night Cap as he speaks again. "My good sir, I don't make sport of anything, and I severely doubt anyone would make a mockery of such a finely dressed pony such as yourself." Rhapsody says, while refusing to add on about how he does that all on his own. "But I do believe you are confused, maybe you need to check your ticket? Surely someone of your standing would have a private box, and not be amongst us common rabble."

Static throws a brief glare Rhapsody's way. He sighs as he turns back to Night Cap. Okay, that was a little...mean...I suppose. But seriously, this dress up thing you have going on...not helping you fit in. Just...think about it.



Staff member
Council of Elders
All the dancers were in their places, ready and waiting for the show to start. Silky Double-Time briefly stumbled then righted herself. Looking over to Light Fantastic, she asked, "Did you feel that? Felt really drowsy all of a sudden."

Though nopony was standing there, Snowy Skies could hear a voice next to him say, "I have incanted and prescribed a verbal spell composed of secret sound. It should activate on its own but it'! s done in parts for these parts to activate, it requires most of the orchestra keep and continue playing. I have erred on the side of an awakening spell since it should also wake any in the audience who fall asleep."

The orchestra filled the orchestra pit and out of the corner of her eye, Amber Spark could spot her sister, Sepia Tone.

Amber nods slightly as Rhapsody speaks, as if gradually realizing something. "Yes, as much as we are honored by your presence, sir, I do believe you've quite mistaken us for somepony else. Really, at a gathering of this magnificently massive magnitude, I'm imminently aware it's entirely inevitable from time to time. There's no need for anyone to become embarrassed about it. We'll just go and find our seats, now. I have a sister and friend in the performance tonight."

Amber spotted Toni. "Oh, Toni!" she said, attempting to catch her eye, then realized the performance was nearly underway. "I suppose I haven't time to speak to her. I really must see her after the performance," she said to Rhapsody.

Look to Amber and then grins softly at that. "Oh, I simply must meet your Sister. I wanna know what she would think of your new Marefriend." She giggles softly.

Static sighs.

He understood Amber and Rhapsody's chiding of Night Cap. Looking at the ridiculously dressed stallion, he had to admit he kinda wanted to pretend to not know him either.

But he there was teasing and then there was...that just crossed the line into being mean. He had to admit, as embarrassed as he was of Nightcap, he was also, for the first time, disappointed in Amber.

With another sigh he put a comforting hoof on Night Cap. I understand that, I suppose. I mean, trying to impress others was never really my thing, but I guess I can understand it. Just...you kinda over did it...a lot. He cast a slightly defiant glare towards Amber and Rhapsody. Still...better to be gaudy than cruel.

Static turns to get ready to start recording once the show actually starts.

Static spares a glance at Night Cap. Hey, don't let it ruin your night. Odds are, if I could've afforded it, I might've wound up going a bit overboard too. Mean times, you're with friends at a highly talked about performance. Enjoy it!

Snowy Skies strides past Night Cap quickly and carefully, avoiding keeping him in his gaze for too long, but leaves a few words behind on his way back to his seat "While I certainly understand the concept of wanting to look well, your outfit is on the verge of making me physically ill. You shouldn't wear it here, you should wear it into battle. ...So I suppose this is an apt time for it." Walking back to his seat, he drops a statement that only the 6 center seats of the front row can hear. The orchestra is bespelled to...at the very least, awaken any sleeping audience members, and possibly do a great deal more. But it requires the Orchestra to keep playing, which seems unlikely in the case of a crisis. So if the orchestra scatters, someone get me a script from the strings section, as soon as possible.

I am placing my trust in the work of a stallion I have known for just over 24 hours, Snowy Skies reflects quietly. Not that I have many other things to place faith in right, but how things change, hm? Admittedly, I do have a back-up plan: play music for it until it's intradimensional ears disintegrate. ...It's flawed, but it is a plan.

...What does death hold in store for special little me?

...I need properly spend time with Static, Amber, and Night Cap at some point, He decides, never registering the fact that he may have just been Dusty Wind's first informant of the situation.



Staff member
Council of Elders
That would be a pleasent surprise. Battle seems to bring out the worst in me. Something I'll have to work on. But this queen already tried to tug at me once tonight when we first came in. I get the feeling Ready Quill's going to get a very different documentary than he anticipated. Pity I'll have to edit all of us out of it.

Still, if rumors are to be believed, Princess Luna's a bit of a dream walker. Sounds like a facinating concept if true. I'd still hate for my first experience in the field to come from some vengeful ancient undead queen.

Static raises an eyebrow, turning as much attention as he can spare to Night Cap while still keeping on eye on what he was recording. You speak as though you have experience in the area.

Static shrugs. Uh huh! Well, I guess you probably have your reasons for keeping mum. But if you have any pointers for if I do fall asleep and can't be woken up...I'd love to hear them. Like I said, this queen already tried to nab me once tonight.

Light Fantastic felt a sudden feeling of drowsiness flow over her, but fortunately, it didn't last long.

"I did," she said, answering Silky's question, "I swear, if whoever is behind this screws up everything we've worked so hard at for the past few months, I will beat them senseless."

She turned to her fellow dancers.

"You're all incredible, strong ponies," she said, "I don't know who is behind all of this, but I have complete confidence that we can fight our way through it. We're not Canterlot's greatest ballet company for nothing."

Find a safe place...got it! Static took a deep breath in and out. He was getting the jitters. Only this time, it wasn't the adrenaline rush of "feeling alive." This makes the second time tonight his life had been put in jeopardy and now he was just feeling nauseous.

So, what's the worst case scenario? Death? Torture? Dragged down to Tartarus to burn for all eternity?

Never mind. Never mind. Don't answer. Find a safe place. Find a safe place.

"Screw the cider", Static thinks to himself, "get me some Luna blessed coffee!"

Last night guarding the Sword of Shining Dark? That was my first night on the job. But that was different. The worst those ponies could do would've been to kill me.

Sepia Tone silently waved at Amber Spark but continued tuning her instrument. Elsewhere, the various ponies in the ballet nodded in reasurance at Light Fantastic's words as they were all ready for the show to start.

Static let out a nervous chuckle. "Luna knows I could use it. But you're right. Now I'm guarding everypony in this theatre. I can't let my personal fears get in the way. Thanks for that."

Static paused before something dawned on him. "Wait...so...even while you're asleep, you're still working? You...never do get to rest...do you?" Static could feel his jaw drop slightly as he processed that. "Your love of coffee is starting to make a frightening kind of sense!"

Sounds exhausting. Sounds exciting. I didn't realize earth ponies could dream walk. Is...is it something that can be learned?

"Not from a pony."

Static nods. Probably better off. Like I said, sounds exhausting. Static returns his attention to his recording and keeping an eye out for anything suspicious. He sets a timer to remind him when to switch out reels.

Amber smiled in response and then caught Toni's wave. She reciprocated and nudged Rhapsody to look in Toni's direction as they took their seats. Amber was happy to find herself sitting next to Static - as much as she would have liked to attend a show like this with only Rhapsody, she did wonder what he would think of the ballet. And of course, the nagging voice in the back of her mind reminded her, if things did take a turn toward conflicts of bridlical proportion tonight, she couldn't imagine anypony else than the two tough fighters that she'd rather have by her side.

She paid little note to Static's conversation with the "important gentlepony" and turned to Rhapsody. "So, ah, have you attended quite a lot of ballets, Rhapsody? This will actually be my first," she said.

Rhapsody gave a nod to Toni as Amber nudges her, before taking her seat as well. For Rhapsody, they were as likely as alone with each other as they were likely to get tonight, seeing as other then Amber everyone else was out of her usual social circle. Not that the Astronomer really acknowledged such conventions, but Dusty was mostly just the weird janitor from work that popped out from the strangest places, Static she just met, Night Cap was... well... Night Cap... Though Rhapsody was probably the most at easy of any of them... except maybe Dusty... as she was completely oblivious to the whole resurrected queen stuff, as was still only thinking it would be ano! ther COIN attack, which didn't worry her too much.

She turns to Amber as her marefriend ask the question and shakes her head. "I've not attended any either, a few other musicals and stage plays, but my sister Harmony is the real culture buff in our family. This is exactly the kind of event she'd thrive on."

After a few more minutes of musical tuning, the lights dimmed and the audience grew quiet. As the curtain raised, the lights that pointed at the stage were bright and sunny. Peasants danced among field props that were quite invisibly whisked in and out of sight. The pace of the dance was quite leisurely and their faces showed joy and contentment. This proceeded for a few minutes until the music abruptly stopped. Then, a large equine shadow was imposed across the stage and the "sunlight" was tinted more harshly. The music restarted with faster, sharper notes. The dancers danced with with greater urgency and then made very delib! erate collapses, one at a time, until the peasant played by Silky Double-Time put a hoof to her head and cried out in exasperated exhaustion, "For how much longer shall this continuuuue?" So far, the ballet was going smoothly.

Bubbling Spring
[Snowy Skies] shifted in his seat. The music certainly wasn't bad. It was a little disconcerting to hear something so similar to what he had been studying only hours before, but this had several extra layers of complexity to it, as orchestra pieces often did. But he didn't feel comfortable losing himself in the music, not when disaster was likely approaching at the speed of the conductor's baton. So he wobbled on the cusp of theatrical immersion, shifting into more and more uncomfortable positions in an effort to distract himself.

Static became mesmerized by the dancers. He had to remind himself several times that he was here on a job. He cursed to himself inwardly. He had expected to come here and be thoroughly miserable. He came here in support of Light Fantastic. But he hated ballet. It was for mares and little fillies after all. Stallions should never watch this type of thing. If anything, he had expected to reinforce to himself why he hated it.

But then the music started and the dancers came out...it was actually (he was loath to admit) good! The complexity of the music as it filled the room astounded him. How could a writer hear such layered sounds in their heads and put it to paper? And the dancers...he had to admit that their hard word showed through. The choreography was flawless.

Craaaaap! He's actually beginning to like this filly stuff!

Also he makes sure to record the most important action on the stage along with several crowd reactions where appropriate.



Staff member
Council of Elders
All of a sudden it occurred to Static. He turned to Amber. The show's started and Ms. Iron's still not here. He looked to Dusty for any sign of concern she might be showing.

Dusty Winds seemed engrossed in the performance. The curtains closed then soon reopened to a new scene in a palace throne room. On the throne was an Anugpytian princess dressed in the typical garb but the colors were black and crimson instead of something bright and lively. Her expression was a smug smirk of haughty authority. In lower seats were two advisers, one of which was played by Light Fantastic. Lyres and woodwinds softly played as two earth pony peasants spun in with a pirouette. Each balanced an exceptionally large basket of fresh fruit on their head that they then set down before the throne. Thro! ugh their dance they motioned acts of pleading. Light Fantastic nodded her head and soon joined the dance as an intermediary between the peasants and the princess. The tempo increased until the princess frowned. Lifting her weight upon her hind hooves, she stretched her forelegs out into the air with the peasants falling upon themselves in fear. Accompanying this authoritative display, the horns played a thunderously escalating two note swell that was accompanied by percussion.

And then...silence.

Lack of music and the assumed poses were held for ten seconds until the princess landed back on all fours. With a sinister smile, she open her mouth and the expedient music from the fields played. The peasants danced uncontrollably but the adviser that Light Fantastic acted as danced both with the peasants and in defiance of the princess, with her motions arguing in their favor. The princess seemed most displeased at this.

Amber smiled and turned to catch Rhapsody's eye as Light Fantastic appeared on the stage, then focused on the dance with rapt attention, watching Ms. Fantastic's rhythmic motion and gestures, Amber imagining for a moment that she herself was moving so gracefully, drawing out such bold brush strokes with her body. The coordination of it all, the way the players seemed to work together as if each seemingly-spontaneous motion was a note in the orchestra, entranced her.

Occasionally, Amber craned her neck forward unconsciously and realized that she had a habit of ducking her head, peering up through what used to be the center of her glasses and was now the liquid mass of the world outside them. She'd have to remember, from now on, to keep her head up.

Static couldn't set aside his concern. He opened his camera up to a wide shot of the stage so that it could go untouched for a moment so he could collect his thoughts.

He was jumpy. He had to calm himself. He had to catch his breath every time one of the dancers hit the ground, afraid they may have just dropped sound asleep. He was beginning to suspect the "princess" of being the real thing with the acting job she was putting on. But Light Fantastic trusted her, and she should know who the crew is. Static really needed to relax.

Still, there was something undoubtedly wrong about Brisk Iron still being missing. Amber didn't seem too concerned, and neither did Dusty. But she hadn't been seen all day and it just wasn't setting well with him.He turned to Night Cap to address his concerns.

Ms. Iron hasn't been seen all day and now she's late getting here. I'm afraid she might have joined Zig Zag, wherever she is.

She's supposed to be sitting next to Dusty, the pegasus next to Rhapsody. Being late normally wouldn't bother me, except she wasn't in her office all day either. And she doesn't exactly strike me as the type to be late to something.

Light Fantastic smiled inwardly as she moved her body to the music. This was it. This is what made dancing such a thrill for her. The music surrounded her mind and soul much like the wings of a mother hen wrap around her chicks. She was so engrossed in the orchestration, that for a brief moment, she forgot the sinister feeling she had sensed earlier in the day.

As the princess looked down at Light Fantastic and sat above the fearful citizens, Amber found herself thinking of the real princess of Anugypt, whom she knew surprisingly little about; she caught herself wondering if this was the real queen herself, projecting this imperial power, but she reminded herself that the players were all acting along with her and this could only be a part of the show. She jumped with a small squeak as the horns struck out, but didn't take her eyes of the stage, attentive to what would happen next as the silence built.

Snowy Skies twitches a little as the horns blared, but otherwise doesn't react. Typical brass. Pushed a little out of his pattern, he thought he might try picking out some Secret Sound in the music. What was there that shouldn't be? That wasn't Secret Sound, that was just an off-beat note. For shame.

And yet, as much as he tried to focus on the music, he found that his eyes were drawn more and more towards Light Fantastic. Under the stage lights, she truly glowed, and her dancing was...exquisite. Sublime. She looked more beautiful than ever. It wasn't so much the complexity of the steps (he didn't even try to follow them), but rather...there was an inner glow, to accompany the outer shine. He couldn't see it, but he could feel it, as she spun and leaped across the stage. It felt...taut...but also calm, smooth and focused. Was it...her heartbeat? Not the actual pumping of her heart, but the shivering and shifting of her body, on both a grand and miniscule scale.

For Snowy Skies, in his quiet, isolated aisle seat, it was a profound and intimate moment. The music faded away as he watched Light Fantastic, in awe of her motion. Had anyone ever seen him this way? Had he ever felt like she was feeling now? Suddenly, abruptly, the situation seemed oh-so hilarious to him, and he found himself forcibly repressing giggles, quaking in his seat. After a few moments, he understood just what was so funny: his statement, not 20 minutes prior: 'You don't fall in love with a steelworker for their metallurgy.' It seemed it was time for him to eat his words. Something about having an explanation as 'simple' as being in love calmed him, and he settled back into his seat, precisely tracking Light Fantastic across the stage.

There were a few ohs and ahs in response to Light Fantastic's performance. However, the princess was unswayed by her adviser and two guards escorted her away. Now banished, the background moved on a looping reel, displaying distance and passage of time as Light Fantastic made a sorrowful dance away. The curtains closed and reopened to reveal the fields once again but now they were parched and barren. The dances of the peasants were slow and weary. Then the shadow descended upon the field and the horns blared. The silence was shorter as it soon led to an incredibly fast tempo accompaniment as the peasants da! nced uncontrollably and the princess watched over them. Once more a voice cried out, "For how much longer shall this continuuuue?"

After another transition, Light Fantastic is revealed in a cave. The lighting is dim but she finds a scroll. Her dance reveals curiosity then resolve as she reads. It is as if she has discovered something. The light adjusts to silhouettes as the adviser practices these mysterious new dance steps upon a prolonged sequence.

Static continues to do what he's doing, getting the best possible angles of whats on stage with a few strategic cuts to crowd reactions. As he watches he can't help but wonder if what was shown on stage was more or less what really happened with the real queen they now faced.

But what occupied his thoughts even more and more as time drew on was the absence of Brisk Iron. He casts occasional glances over at the empty seat, still trying to get a read on Dusty.

At least he hadn't fallen asleep yet. He took that as a good sign. But watching the story unfold on stage that seemed to hit a little too close to the story of the very real forces they were up against, there was just so much about this night that wasn't setting right with him.

As counterpoint to Static, Rhapsody really didn't pick up on anything wrong or odd with the play, as her work before the show and in keeping Light safe, meant she'd missed a rather large briefing and update about things. The Black Pegasus mostly watched and enjoyed the show, while scanning occasional for signs of outside threats to the production.

Amber found herself simply enjoying the show. As Light's role of the advisor discovered the scroll, Amber found herself completely drawn into the suspense of it, what the advisor found on that ancient parchment and what it might say or do. She could have broken down the music and thought about it in technical details thanks to what she had learned from growing up with Toni, but instead, she simply let it move her through the drama. She did listen, now and then, for a quiet voice within the strings that might be Toni.

As the scene resolved, the stage transitioned to show exhausted ponies in the field. Clothes tattered but emotionally determined, the adviser returned. She initially attempted to urge the peasants to stand but they would have nothing of it. Then, Light Fantastic struck one of the new dance poses and they looked on with amazement. Then another was struck and a few rose to their feet. As she danced before them, the populace rose and joined in. Upon finishing, the peasants removed pieces of their own garments and crowded around the adviser. After moving away so that the audience could see, Light Fantastic was now clothed in the garments of an Anugypt princess but they were much more amicable colors than their current harsh ruler.


The scene now showed the throne room. The princess of Anugypt was lounging around and being fed grapes by her servants. The smell of grapes was wafted through the isles as the music lazily played. Suddenly the prop doors for the throne room burst open and there stood Light Fantastic and the renewed peasants. The horns blared as if sounding for the princess of Anugypt.

And then, silence. However, this was far longer than before previous horn swells. No one on stage or the audience moved. Dusty Winds started looking around in confusion and worry.




Staff member
Council of Elders
This being her first ballet, Amber was uncertain what to make of the pause. She looked to Rhapsody and back to the stage and tried not to look in Night Cap's direction lest she accidentally make eye contact and give the game away, but she couldn't ignore the hoofclops and bent in front of Static to frown in Night Cap's general direction.

Really, this looked to become rather embarrassing for everypony no matter what they did. If the audience were meant to applaud, they seemed to be doing a very poor job of it; in any case, Amber didn't feel like following Night Cap's lead.

"Ahm, what happens now?" she asked, quietly, looking back and forth between Rhapsody and Static.

While this was her first too, Rhapsody was pretty sure this wasn't common, looking around at the others in the audience she could see while trying not to be super-obvious about it, just in case, seems to confirm her suspicions, as she notices its not just the stage that is paused; but most the audience as well, some of them seemingly in mid-action.

At hearing the applause she looks over to its source and rolls her eyes; It was a good thing however that she wasn't seated next to Night Cap, as she would have likely smacked him in the back of his head, was there really any wonder to why she was trying so hard to not know him?

"Trouble, most likely." Rhapsody responds

Static puts a hushing move to stop Night Caps clapping. Now...probably isn't the time.

At first he thought the dramatic pause was just the same as everything else he'd been jumping at this evening...absolutely nothing to worry about. But then it kept going and going. Yeeeeeah, this does seem excessive. Should we...maybe...do something?

He looks up to Light Fantastic on stage. I think maybe we should get her off of the stage in with the rest of us. But as he was about to get out of his chair to act, he hesitated.

Of course, if this actually was part of the show and all of a sudden a group of ponies from the audience just burst onto the stage...but no. No way was this a part of the show! There was dramatic pauses and then there was...this...whatever this was.

He got out of his chair and moved toward the stage, looking back to see if anyone was following him.

Light Fantastic nervously glanced at her fellow dancer. Trying not to let on that anything was amiss, she began to dance around her compatriots, gently trying to get them to pick up the routine again.

'Are you kidding me?' she thought angrily, 'Just wait until I get my hooves on whoever is behind this.'

Calling on the extrasensory spells she learned way back at Celestia's school, she sent out her mental feelers in an attempt to find the cause of this incident.

"Rhapsody believes there may be trouble," said Amber, her horn glowing slightly. "Let's go," she said, projecting a light outward around the group and making her way toward the aisle, heading for the stage.

Snowy Skies' nose twitches slightly as the pause occurs, but he waits, watching the still forms until there is no doubt left in his mind that the show has been shattered. He sighs. Some part of him had hoped that things might be held at bay until the applause had arrived. "Let's get this over with." He says, sauntering towards the stage and, more specifically, the orchestra pit.

Static runs to the Orchestra pit and straight to the strings section. He swipes one of the scripts and looks around trying to pinpoint Snowy in the crowd.

Snowy Skies hops into the orchestra pit and takes the script from Static, noting the page the rest of them are turned to. "While I appreciate the fast response time, if the lights don't come up I'll have to stay here." He says, setting the script down on a music stand and setting his viola case to the side. "Also, there's something I want to try." He experimentally turns to the nearest frozen musician and attempts to push, pull, or drag their seat to the side.

I'll leave you to your work. Meanwhile, I better join the others.

Static leaves the Orchestra pit and joins the others on stage.

Rhapsody got to her hooves, her demeanor changing from being more laid back and casual to alert and aware. Light's Dance only made it more clear that something was very wrong. "Well so much for this First Date ending well..." She huffs under her breathe, her ideas and plans for a trouble free evening, regardless how implausible such was, shattered and only pissed her off more.

She lets Amber take point, since the light helped everyone see, but the black pegasus remained close behind her. "I don't like this. This feels like we're walking into a horror novel..."

"Hey!" Snowy Skies says indignantly as Static walks off, pausing in his rather comical pushing pose. "Someone has to stay here and knock the viola out of my hands if it turns out I'm actually making the situation worse!"

Amber, for her part, stops at the edge of the orchestra pit and dims her horn, spotting the frozen Toni below. She watches Snowy worriedly as he attempts to interact with the other frozen musician nearby.

Static turns back. Knock the...

"Why not just drop it if you see you're making things worse?" he thinks to himself. But with everyone already buzzing into action around him, Static knew this wasn't exactly the time to argue. Okay, so if things get worse, knock the viola out of your hoofs. I'll stay close then. Static tries to nudge several of the orchestral players awake, particularly Sepia Tone.

"You saw what happened to everyone else that tried to play the song. I don't know if I'll be able to drop it." Snowy Skies replies. "Make certain you get it away, but...be gentle. It was made to be caressed, not struck."

Gentle? Have you even met m...right...gentle. I'll...do my best.

Night Cap looks down at the orchestra pit.

"Er, try not to do anything to them that they're going to feel when they wake up. We don't want them to be in too much of a shock when it happens."

That was one time! And you weren't even there for...which means you probably weren't even talking about...okay, yeah...like I said, I'll do my best.

Static still tries to rouse Sepia tone first, seeing how much she means to Amber. C'mon, lady! I'm trying to be gentle here.

Amber stepped up to Static's side. "It doesn't seem to be working," she said. She looked over her sister morosely; she found herself unconsciously, and quite against her will, thinking of the frozen COIN associate from the mountain. She looked back upward toward the stage and the frozen players under the lights.

Static stops trying to nudge Sepia Tone awake, seeing that Ambers right. It wasn't working. So until this queen shows herself, all we can really do is guard over Snowy and make sure whatever he does works...or get that viola out of his hooves if he fails.

As Light Fantastic's music open her eyes to the undercurrent of magic around them, she saw a simply sinister symphony of synesthesia as musical notes danced around the ears of all the motionless ponies. A trail of notes led up the isles and out the doors. These notes seemed to bounce away from an invisible bubble around all of the STOMP team with the exception of Static Signal.

As the other STOMP members leaped to action and tried to rouse the crowd, Dusty Winds followed,
"Is there anything I can do to help or should I stay out of the way?"

The crowd and dancers were breathing normally and blinked occasionally despite their eerily frozen poses. Suddenly, Sepia Tone popped to her feet almost like a jack in the box. Carrying her violin with her magic, she charged towards the exit. Similarly, Silky Double-Time also bolted from the stage. In his ear, Snowy Skies heard,
I haven't been able to wake anypony, not even Night Wings. It almost got me. This is a very and greatly powerful magic.


"Toni, wait!" shouted Amber after her. She watched as the second pony, one of the dancers, followed from the stage. Amber turned to Static, thinking fast. "Mr. Skies' magical assistance seems much more pertinent than mine with the unusually unresponsive audience. If you do find yourselves having need of me, approach the exit -" Amber drew out a small copper disk with a lens at the center, looking very much like a tiny eye - "and I'll know." Amber bolted after Toni and Silky Double Time, tossing her commotion detector into a random audience member's lap near the exit as she passed.

Enchanting (2) – 3/Day
When you select this ability you may choose three of the following enchantments for free. When you activate this ability, you may activate one of the enchantments you chose this way. You may choose additional enchantments for 1 point each.

Commotion Detector (Arcane Alarm) – Enchantment
Preparation Time: 10 seconds
A small object you touch becomes an Arcane Alarm for the next 8 hours. If any living thing enters within 40 feet of the Arcane Alarm it sends a small telepathic alert to the caster. You may end this effect at any time, and you can only have 3 arcane alarms active at a time.

Rhapsody blinks as Sepia Tone and another bolt out of the auditorium... and then so does Amber. Well, it takes little time to decide what to do, as the black Pegasus races after her. "I'm not going to let you do this alone." She replies, more and more this starting to feel like a horror novel, and the last thing anyone does in one of those and lives is split-off solo from the party.

More help the better, I think. Static says. Try and wake as many ponies as possible.

Static turns as the ponies bolt towards the door. Hey, wait! Aren't those the two that we just tried to wake up? Static turns back to Dusty. Dusty, never mind trying to wake them up. It may be doing more harm than good.

Static turns again to see Amber and Rhapsody bolt out the door. Hey, where are you...He turns again to Snowy with a helpless resignation. This whole situation had deteriorated far quicker than he could think. Now what?

Static glances at Night Cap, rolling his eyes. Control...right! He turns his attention back to Snowy. Hey, Snowy, before I lose sight of them and can't catch up...do you need me more here or should I try and catch up with Amber and Rhapsody?

Snowy sighs. "Follow them." He says shortly.

He waits for the double doors to close behind Static, then turns to Night Cap. "I don't think this situation can be under control, unless we eliminate whatever is casting this spell. We've got its theme music, and possibly its arch-nemesis." He says, inclining his head towards Light Fantastic. "So I think I'm going to try attracting it." He gets comfortable and puts his bow to the strings. "Any suggestions?"

Static follows and tries to catch up with Amber and Rhapsody.



Staff member
Council of Elders
"Given that the ponies they're chasing did not seem to have actually awoken, I think they might have a better chance of meeting the queen than we do. Drawing the queen in might also draw them back to us." He turns to Light Fantastic. "Thoughts? You sort of end up as bait in this plan, so you certainly deserve a say."

Static runs after Amber and Rhapsody. He soon finds Rhapsody passing Amber. He catches up to Amber and sees there's no way he can keep pace with Rhapsody, let alone the two ponies who escaped from the theatre. He slows down to keep pace with Amber as they try to at least keep sight of Rhapsody.

Rhapsody pauses a brief moment when she realizes she's completely out paced Amber, thinking of waiting for her; but seeing Static jog up behind her, the black pegasus decides to head onwards. "Don't worry, I got this!" She shouts back to them as she dashes off. She's the fastest and could easily keep pace with Sepia and the other pony, and if it was leading to a fight, well at least she'd be able to handle herself. Not that she didn't think Static and Amber couldn't, but Rhapsody would rather not put their lives at risk if she could help it. She would go ahead, make sure Sepia was safe for Amber, and defend h! er if there was trouble and maybe win some bonus points with her marefriend while she was at it...

Light Fantastic nodded.

"First and foremost, I think we need to find out the source of this music."

She quickly launched into an explanation about the magical music and pointed her hoof in the direction of the doors leading from the auditorium.

"They seem to be coming from that direction," she said, "I think we should follow them."

Snowy Skies nods, taking the viola off his shoulder. "Beats the tar out of my plan. And with us gone, the ponies in here are probably safer." He glances up at the high boxes. "DUSTY! You should probably be coming with us."

Rhapsody was quite capable of overtaking Sepia Tone's pace, though the mare barely seemed to acknowledge Rhapsody's presence. However, Silky Double-Time quite speedily ran past and out the auditorium doors.

Upon hearing her name called, Dusty Winds flew back down,
"The delegates don't seem injured but they aren't responsive."

"The same as everybody else then. Light Fantastic can see a spell going out the door, we're going to follow it. In the interest of not leaving any one alone, you should really come with us." Snowy Skies says, shortly summing up the situation but gradually remembering that he was talking to someone who was at least his equal (if not his superior, the janitorial squad wasn't one for careful hierarchy) 90% of the time. This was not somebody he should be ordering around.

Rhapsody lets the other mare go, right now Sepia Tone was her top priority. She had a feeling that maybe she should keep going, but stopping even one was likely important. She looks around and grasps some of the red velvet ropes to try and restrain Sepia hoping that this isn't one of those cases where an entranced pony suddenly has the power to, literally if need be, move mountains to get to their goal...

As Rhapsody began to restrain Sepia Tone, the unicorn placed her bow to her violin and began to play a single note. It was long and shrill, as if scraping hooves on a chalkboard. The audience seemed unresponsive but this was deafening to those who weren't caught by the spell. Amber Sparks could feel it rippling along her glasses but the intricate metalwork seemed to channel the sound away. The frames quite subtly played a note in response like a quiet harmonica.

Being so close to the source of the 'attack' Rhapsody likely gets the worst of it, making her pause and wince some from the sound but fights through it. "Normally, I actually like the violin, but I think you've played enough, Toni." She states and tries to knock the instrument away from the unicorn.


Static keep running alongside Amber, trying to catch up to Rhapsody. The shrill note grates on his nerves, but he powers through and keeps running.

Amber Spark winced at the sound of the tortured violin, momentarily pitying it for its plight before feeling the sound's influence on her. She felt the teeth-shattering note resonate in her glasses, and was surprised to feel them seem softly attempt to counter the note. Whatever power was in the sound and whatever the glasses had done in response, she was able, just, to maintain herself and keep galloping toward Toni's side.

Snowy Skies opened his mouth to call Night Cap back (or comment on the dreamwalker's enthusiasm to Light Fantastic, he hadn't decided yet), when a thought strikes him: Light could see the music, why couldn't he? He closes his eyes and spreads his awareness of noise out. There was something there, hidden under the normal rustling of the air conditioning units, but he couldn't quite--

Consumed with his search, Snowy Skies is caught completely off-guard by the auditory assault. This is going to be embarassing.

The shrill screech of the violin nearly stopped Light Fantastic in her tracks.

"Good Celestia, that thing needs to be tuned bad," she muttered.

With a swift shove, Rhapsody managed to knock the violin out of Sepia Tone's magical grasp. Sailing into a wall, it shattered into thousands of sad little splinters. Sepia Tone's bow waved futilely at thin air and for the briefest moment she seemed to become more coherent.

As Static and Amber catch up, Static looks to the shattered violin.

That's not coming out of my paycheck!

He walks up to Rhapsody and looks Sepia over. She awake?

Rhapsody winces at the violin shatters. "Well... on the bright side, the noise stopped." She says with a huff, having forgotten how her strength seems to fluctuate chaotically at times; being glad she's not actually hurt a pony with it so far. Noticing Sepia starting to become coherent, she claps her hooves in-front of the unicorn's face. "Hey! Listen! Wake Up!"

Amber glanced at the shattered violin and back to Rhapsody and Sepia Tone. "Is she alright?" she asked, trotting up to the two of them.

Rhapsody looks over to Amber as she trots up to her. "I caught up to Toni, but the other got away. I felt like I needed to stop Toni first anyway, so started to restrain her." She explains and gestures the to velvet ropes around Toni. "Doing so, she played that sour note to deter me; and I knocked the violin away from her to stop her... did that part a little too well..." She says looking to the violin shards everywhere. "There seemed to be some consciousness to her after it broke though, and was trying to get her to res! pond when you all arrived."

Snowy Skies shakes his head, extremely grateful that the noise had stopped. "Are you alright?" He asks Light Fantastic. He imagines he can hear the subtle crash of a well-kept stringed instrument shattering in the distance, but assumes he must be hearing things.

While she was no longer struggling, Sepia Tone didn't seem to acknowledge the clapping in front of her. The facial expression was very blank and distant.


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