[OOC] STOMP Remembrance Project

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CoffeeHorse

*sip*
Staff member
Council of Elders
Citizen
The Carousel Ends.



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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Spoiler

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


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


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

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

cleardot.gif

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

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


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

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


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


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


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

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

 

CoffeeHorse

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


Spoiler

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Light Fantastic grinned again.

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


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


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


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

Spoiler


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


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


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


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

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

 

CoffeeHorse

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

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


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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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

 

CoffeeHorse

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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



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


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

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

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

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



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


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


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


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


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

 

CoffeeHorse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He took a deep breath and turned back to Plaid.

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

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



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


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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

 

CoffeeHorse

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Light Fantastic turned to the receptionist.

"You can bring her in," she said.


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


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

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


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


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

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

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



"Hmm?" Amber asked, caught off guard.


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


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

...

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


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

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

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

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



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


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

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

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

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


"I have no idea. Hopefully soon."


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

 

CoffeeHorse

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

Spoiler


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


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


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

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

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


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


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


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

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


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


Light Fantastic thought for a moment.

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

He opened the door to his booth and walked in.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

 

CoffeeHorse

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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."

cleardot.gif

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?"

 

CoffeeHorse

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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.
cleardot.gif



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.

 

CoffeeHorse

*sip*
Staff member
Council of Elders
Citizen
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."

cleardot.gif

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."

 

CoffeeHorse

*sip*
Staff member
Council of Elders
Citizen
Meanwhile, Snowy visits the police station


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."

 

CoffeeHorse

*sip*
Staff member
Council of Elders
Citizen
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.

 

CoffeeHorse

*sip*
Staff member
Council of Elders
Citizen
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.

 

CoffeeHorse

*sip*
Staff member
Council of Elders
Citizen
Meanwhile, the dinner


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.

 

CoffeeHorse

*sip*
Staff member
Council of Elders
Citizen
This thread is hopelessly out of order, so I've started over with a new thread. This thread is now just for planning and discussion. The other thread will be the actual archive, as much of it as I have, in order from the beginning.
 

Zamuel

Pittied fools.
Citizen
What is your stance on typos? I saw some of the posts here would occasionally be corrupted with symbols mid word. Alternately, any copy saved will be the original post so any edits made at the time won't be retained. I know it'll come up for any GM posts in late 2019.
 

Caldwin

FIRRIB
Citizen
My two cents? I'm just thrilled to have these moments back in any form. Like when I pointed out I originally edited that one post to make it less angry-at-daddy on Static's part...it was kinda jarring that that was the version that was saved, but I'm still glad just to see the scene.

And I doubt anyone beyond those who were originally part of the RP will be reading it any way. IMO, it's a mammoth task for Fnu no matter what he does. If it makes it easier on him, I'm fine with "here are some memories" vs. "here's how the story went beat for beat."
 

CoffeeHorse

*sip*
Staff member
Council of Elders
Citizen
There's a part of me that feels weirdly uncomfortable about fixing typos even when it's really obvious that they're typos. I guess the question is, do you want me to fix typos? I'm happy to do it on request.

Corruption is different because it's not true to any version of what was originally posted, and I have been trying to fix that. If I've missed something there, let me know. That part can be tedious. Sometimes it's symbols in the middle of words for no apparent reason, and sometimes it's just weirdness. Like, Sailor Unicron's posts are all haunted. They look fine in my inbox, but I past them here and suddenly there's dozens of spaces between each line. Only her posts.
 

Zamuel

Pittied fools.
Citizen
I guess specifically the 'exclamation point plus space' that are clearly some sort of embedded coded error from the copy/paste. And then some in the time period mentioned for mine (early in the Warning Sound arc) since that was shortly after my stroke and I distinctly remember a few being really bad and having to clarify them through edits.
 
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