A Mysterious Ne'er Do Well
IC date: Spring 64, 1008
OOC date: May 24, 2013
Location: The Champagne Bay Tavern
PCs: Gamble, Magpie, Muzaji, Rocket
NPCs: The Contact
GM: Trixie

The Champagne Bay is crowded tonight with ponies taking a well-deserved respite from a hard work week. As is usually the case at the tavern the corner tables were the first to fill up, because for whatever reason ponies REALLY like pretending to be dark and mysterious. Luckily, a certain rumor spreader doesn't NEED corner tables to be surrounded by an aura of intrigue.

Seated at one of the tables about two-thirds of the way to the back of the tavern is a mare wearing tar-stained coveralls, as one might expect from a dock worker who has spent the better part of the day patching ships. Her black mane is braided tightly down the back of her neck to keep it out of the way and the pageboy hat she wears is drawn low to cast a shadow over her eyes. She has an ocean map laid out on the table before her with common shipping and trade routes marked and is studying it intently.

Thanks to the size of the chart the dock worker has so far warded off any potential tablemates since there is almost nowhere to place one's drink. Those ponies who are aware of a particular rumor, however, might know that they should be on the lookout for a lone dock worker with a map as their contact for an up to this point unnamed patron.

One in her, ah, 'professions' (both legit and otherwise) tended to have their hooves dipped into all the hot rumor mills of the harbor. It was a necessity of the trade. A lot of the things Muzaji heard tended to be fluff and drunken bragging, but something about this tidbit intriged her.

So with that the zebra trader ambled up to the map-covered table as casual as could be, stopping to peer at it briefly. "Tch, that trade route over there is marked wrong." She propped herself against the edge of the table to tap one of the course markings with a forehoof. "According to the trade ship that came through two days ago there's a cluster of coral lumps drifting around. Probably something the big storm churned up that hasn't settled yet."

Yes, this is how traders tend to say 'hello'. Or maybe Muzaji is just wanting a reaction to gauge.

A young filly sidles around the edge of the room, being casual as she lightly slips through the crowd. She's wearing a gray wool jacket and a mustard-yellow newsie cap pulled down, which doesn't entirely hide her lavender mane. She pauses on her way towards the corner table, and with a flicker of her horn's rose gleam and a little clink, some of one patron's wealth is generously (if unintentionally) provided for the filly's benefit.

Magpie takes advantage of her patron's unknowing largesse by ordering a lemonade shandy, then shuffles over to the not-corner table that has a map sprawled all over it.

Rumors! There have been rumors abound about a pony needing things done by 'skilled' ponies. Well, there's a drifter who's made himself too much of a home in Horseshoe Harbor, and he considers himself pretty skilled at skill! Or treasure hunting. And a similar rumor is what he did when he wanted to find ponies to go with him for a dangerous treasure hunt. Thus… Gamble arrives in the bar, casting about for the proper…pony, and easing himself over to the appropriate table. He's not exactly being sneaky about it. Just meeting a few 'friends' to discuss 'business'. Right? He seems to be the third arrival too, tipping his hat to the other three. "Evenin' folks. …Uh." He squints at the filly. "Ya sure you got the right table, kid?"

"That doesn't make the route wrong," the dock worker says pleasantly as Muzaji critiques the map. "It's still the most direct and efficient path between those ports. It just requires a captain who can think and react quickly to navigate." She rests her elbows on the table and her chin upon her forehooves. "Some might even relish the challenge."

The mare tips her hat to Gamble in kind as he arrives. "And a good evening to you as well! Perhaps the same question could be asked of you, though. Is a tavern really the most appropriate place for a teacher to be hanging around? Though I guess no one needs a drink more than a substitute on a Friday night."

The yellow bartender makes his rounds to the tables. When he reaches the table with the map the dock worker obligingly pulls it a few inches to the side so that he can place Magpie's drink down. "Here you are, little filly, one rock shandy." This is one bartender who's not about to serve alcohol to minors, nosiree. Magpie gets ginger beer in her lemonade with just enough bitters to give it a kick without getting him arrested.

Magpie huffs. She sticks her tongue out at the bartender. ROCK shandy? That's such a rip-off.

Muzaji laughs softly at the stranger's reply. "True, true enough. It all comes down to if one wishes to challenge the obstacle or take the safer but longer route." The zerba fixes her gaze back on the hatted mystery. "But you're not the kind to take the simple safe way are you?"

As the waiter passes from delivering Magpie's drink she draws him aside just long enough to order the Equestrian equivilent to a rum & coke.

"H'uh. Good point." Gamble admits, shrugging to Contact's question. "Ain't the first time I've been here on a side-business. Though last time I'll admit it was for somethin' of my own." He nudges his way onto a cushion seat, watching the bartender wander off, glances at Muzaji and Magpie, tips his hat back, and leans on the table.

Magpie scowls at Gamble from under her oversized cap. "I'm at the right table. Are you?" She glances at the tar-stained pony. "I mean, I s'pose. I found this flier, see…"

"I'm sure that you have all found your ways to the right table," the contact says as she begins to fold up the map. "And undoubtedly you are here for the same reason as myself: to get a drink. Barkeep! A cayenntine mimosa, if it's not too much trouble."

The yellow stallion raises an eyebrow. "Champagne and spice? You sure?"

The dock worker nods in response and explains, "It has a bite like harder liquor without nearly as much alcohol in it." She turns back to the group. "I see some of you are already indulging, but please, feel free to order whatever piques your fancy. I'll cover your first of the night." She quirks an eyebrow at Magpie. "A flyer, huh? I don't remember printing off any of those. What /is/ it you think you're here for, anyway?"

Magpie grins. "'m joking," she says with a roll of her eyes. "You know. You hear stuff, is all." She pauses, then adds, a bit defensively, "I got skills."

A free round, huh? Gamble isn't about to pass that up. He lifts a hoof for the barkeep too, "I'll take a rum, thanks." Then elbows come back to the table again. Ears perked, though he glances towards the bar's entrance now and then. "Yea, we all got skills here, squirt. S'a town chock fulla nothin' but skills."

Muzaji already made her order so she just leans forward to rest on folded forelegs once the table is clear of the map. "Most of us don't go bragging about certain 'skills' though, kiddo."

Magpie gapes, mouth flapping like a fish for a few seconds. "I'm not /bragging/!" she complains. "HE's the one sayin' I don't belong!"

"Now did I say that?" Gamble sniffs, squinting at the filly. "I was jus' makin' sure you knew where you were, s'all."

"Now, now," the contact says chidingly to Muzaji as the map, now folded, is tucked into a pocket of her coveralls and a new parchment is drawn out. "I can appreciate a filly with moxie and confidence. As does my employer. Truth be told, I knew in advance that all of you would be coming here tonight. It is not by accident that rumors of my presence made their way to your ears. Each of you has a unique talent that will be well-suited to what we need done."

The drinks arrive without fanfare as the bartender places them in front of their respective orderers. A tall, narrow stem glass with an orange-colored drink and a wedge of citrus fruit on the rim for the contact, a highball glass with a suspiciously cola-colored liquid for Muzaji, and a lowball glass of rum and rocks for Gamble. Literally rocks. They're cube-shaped.

"Before we get down to business there is something I need to put on the table. Anything discussed tonight, or in any future meeting, is not to leave this group." The dock worker looks at each pony seated at the table in turn, eyes just barely visible from beneath the shadows the low brim of her hat cast over her face. "My employer shall be placing her full trust in you and expects the same in kind to her and towards your fellows. If you have any doubts about your ability to honor this trust in light of the knowledge that you shall be contracted to proactively acquire goods on behalf of my employer, I must ask you to leave this table now."

Magpie tilts her head a bit. "Proac… what?" She shakes her head. "That means stealin' stuff, right? Can we get help if we need to?" She pauses, then blinks. "Hey, wait, you've been watchin' me?!" She looks around, rather paranoid, and rather blushing…

Muzaji unfolds her forelegs to hook a hoof around the glass as its set in front of her and takes a sip from it. Aah, perfect. She's entirely nonplussed by the contact's insistances. Or the implication of being watched. You get use to dealing with that sort of thing in her line of work. "Then your employer is already well aware of my capactity to honor the confidentionality of my potential clientel." It's just everypony -else's- confidentionality that's no hooves barred.

This makes Gamble blink too. "I didn't think we had /that/ much of a reputation." he murmurs, thumping his hoof on the tabletop. "Right, so it's a secretive mission then. Just means what we find ain't gonna be brought to the public's attention right? Fine, fine."

The orange mare gives Muzaji's declaration a nod. "We are aware, but that doesn't mean she doesn't want to hear you agree. Assumptions can be dangerous things in our line of work." When Gamble makes his observation about the public's attention the contact snorts with a desperately-suppressed giggle.. "Oh, I didn't say that. It will become incredibly publicized almost instantly. If all goes as planned you won't be implicated, though. As for your reputations… it's hard to hide your natural talents when they're plastered across your flank, schoolteacher."

"Proactive acquisition," the contact repeats firmly to Magpie. "For it to be theft it would need to be owned by somepony, which it is not in any legal sense." She considers Magpie's question. "If you feel they are trustworthy, then you may bring them in. However they are entirely your responsibility— including their pay. My employer has chosen to extend his offer to the three of you, not to any additional ponies you choose to bring along."

The dock worker frowns. "Though, there was /supposed/ to be a fourth contractor. One talented in finding value amongst refuse. I know for a fact she was made aware of this meeting, where could she have gotten off to?"

Where indeed. Better late than never seems to be the red-and-gold griffon's hope, as she makes her way into the bar and casts a glance around appraisingly (and tries to ignore the dirty look she's /sure/ she's likely getting from the bartender). Rocket is looking a bit dishevelled, a few feathers out of place. The bunny peeking out of the pouch at her side is looking a bit moreso. "I'm just saying, I /told/ you that wouldn't work," she asides, apparently to said bunny, as if repeating a point of an argument already had but not quite settled. "I'm not saying it wasn't a good effort."

And then she spots Gamble, and perks up slightly, and heads off towards that table as casually as a griffon in a pony pub can.

The bartender frowns the biggest frown at Rocket. "You'd better not be planning to pay in mushrooms again," he calls to her from behind the bar.

Rocket pauses to frown back. "Hey! Those were /quality/ mushrooms."

Magpie says "Well, okay. It's just there's — I mean, I know a pony — if we need help, I mean."

"Your employer conducts his-or-her business smartly then." As usual Muzaji doesn't seem the least bit flustered by the implications of needing an in person affirmation, choosing to take a longer drink from her drink instead of comment farther than necessary. Though a striped brow does raise behind the glass at the explaination that was given to Magpie. Particularly at the 'not in any legal sense' part.

Magpie shuffles. "But I guess it's good if we're not stealing. Technically."

"She's covered this time." Gamble calls to the barkeep, waving Rocket over towards the table. "Feathers! Fuzzy! Get over here already and get a drink." Yep. Just another weekend night at the ol' pub, right?

Fuzzball, for all his disheveledness, doesn't appear to be much the worse for wear overall. He doesn't look convinced that whatever he had been trying to do wasn't actually possible. In fact he may try it again sometime. When Rocket least expects it… Oh yes. That's the look in the little fuzzy devil's eyes. At least until drinks are mentioned, and bunny ears perk up. Then he gives Rocket the most /adorable/ look! Bunny's thirsty!

Gamble turns his attention back to the table. Specifically to Contact, amid all the questions and comments. "…This ain't a treasure hunt, is it." he notes quietly. Well that makes all the secretiveness click, at least. "…Well, long as it's not technically belongin' to anybody else, I s'pose it's still worth throwin' my chips into. Not like I've been doin' anything else productive lately." Unless you count moulding young minds to be 'good little ponies'. It's only shaping today's youth into tomorrow's responsible adults, that's all.

"It's not a treasure hunt, no," replies the dock worker with a shake of her head. "And… ah, there's our fourth pony — or rather, griffon. Having eyes in the sky is a very valuable asset. Please, Rocket, take a seat. Don't worry, sir, I'll pay for her drink." She waves to the bartender who is still a wee bit scowly over Rocket's presence.

"If everything is settled regarding the nature of your employment," the contact continues as she places the parchment upon the table, "then I'll tell you what it is you'll be stealing." She unfurls the paper to reveal a blueprint of a house. Not just any house, though. A very nice house with more rooms than any one pony really has a use for. A label in the corner reads 'MAYORAL MANOR'.

Magpie lets out a little "Awwww!" and offers her rock shandy (sparkling lemonade, really) to the bunny! "He's so cuuuute!" The whole mission thing is nice, but — /priorities/.

Muzaji takes another gulp of her rum and cola as she scoots a bit closer on the side to see the diagram. "Forget rooms with a view, my dear. That was rooms -with- rooms with a view, to spare." Yes it's not quite a rhyme but it gets the impression done.

Rocket chuckles faintly, dropping into a seat and nodding in greeting around the table. "Sorry m'late. There was an… incident." She casts a glance to Fuzzball. Even a griffon can't ignore /that/ face. "Yeah, Fuzzy, you'll get a drink too." Such things settled, she peers at the paper with interest. "Well that's one fancy place."

"Yeah… He's adorable until he drinks all yer cider. Fuzzy bugger can drink both of us under the table." Gamble mutters. Speaking of drinks, he finally gets to his, taking it up in a hoof and a sip. He sets the glass down, peers inside of it, and frowns. "Oh ha ha." He turns his head towards the bartender. "What, ya got no ice in this pub?" Hmph. Mutter. Grumble.

Then Gamble squints at the map. Mayor's Manor. What? "…Uh. Okay. I'm pretty sure the stuff sittin' in the Mayor's house all belongs to the Mayor. I mean, that's why it's the Mayor's house, ain't it?"

Fuzzball beams at Rocket, right up until Magpie offers her drink to the bunny. This, the mussed fuzzy rodent happily takes advantage of, bounding right out of Rocket's sidepack, onto the table, to get himself a nice big drink of sparkling lemonade! Mmmm~ After that he hops up onto Magpie's shoulder, giving the piebald filly's neck a hug. Aww, she's made a new friend for life.

Magpie giggles happily and starts to sip her drink, then comically sprays a little when Gamble speaks up. "MAYOR?!" she yelps, then drops her voice. "Mayor?!" she demands in the same tone but a harsh whisper.

The bartender rolls his eyes. "Soapstone maintains a drink's temperature without watering it down since it doesn't melt. If you want your drink to taste terrible after five minutes I can get you one with ice instead."

"There exists in this town a vault of sorts," the dock worker begins to explain as the group takes in the map (or Fuzzball as the case may be). "It is filled with goods worth a spectacular amount and is, as of this moment, legally property of the town of Horseshoe Harbor on account of the previous owner passing on without leaving any sort of will… or at least not one that has been found."

She taps the map of Lorelei's house. "Unfortunately, the town is keeping this vault under the proverbial lock and key and is denying access to what is effectively public property. My employer wishes to move it to a secure location where it can be perused and catalogued at a leisurely pace. Your mission will be to remove the vault from the manor and transport it to a location which will be disclosed to you at a later date." She gives the assembled thieves a serious look from under the brim of her hat and pulls the map away from Magpie as she spittakes. "You are exactly right, Gamble. Aside from the contents of the vault everything within the manor is property of Mayor Lorelei. You are not to take anything /except/ the vault. Anyone caught looting will be implicated to the Watch as responsible for the whole shebang."

Magpie takes special notice of the word 'caught'. She gives a little nod. "Well, okay. Since it doesn't really belong to anypony, it's barely even bad!"

"Such an implication could ruin whatever honest career one had." The tone of her voice is of an offhoof remark, but what Muzaji says makes it's pretty clear how important that little comment is. "So technically it's public domain but somepony is sitting on it. This isn't larceny, it's… repossession." All in how you phrase it.

"Yer employer's version of 'unowned' may differ a bit from our local government's version, bud." Gamble notes, settling back in his seat. He tugs his hat down thoughtfully, the rim just hovering over his eyes so he can study the map. "'Course that's what makes it interesting, I guess." He glances towards Rocket. "Well, you were complainin' 'bout bein' bored, Feathers. This'll give us an adventure."

Fuzzball, amid all the surprise of 'omgmayor!', sneaks himself another sip of Magpie's drink. Then makes himself cozy up atop her head! Best bunnyperch, since it makes him as close to eye-level as he can be to Rocket without standing on her beak. That way he can give her the 'adorable eyes' again, combined with a 'thirsty' motion. Such a dry throat! Get this fuzzy bugger his own drink please!

The bartender already knows Rocket's and Fuzzball's poison of choice, familiar as he is with the griffon and her habit of bartering instead of buying. The tray balanced on his back is sporting a couple mugs of hard cider as he stops at the table. The contact pulls a pouch of bits out of her coveralls and tosses a few large coins onto the table. The bartender sweeps them off the table and into his own pouch before returning to the bar.

Rocket peers thoughtfully at the map, only distracted for a moment to accept her drink. Mmm, apple. She sips at it contentedly for a moment before looking to the contact. "So we gotta sneak in, get this vault, and get it out, then move it somewhere?"

Magpie says "Well, gotta get what's inside it, right? I don't think I can move a whole vault."

Muzaji says "That does seem to be the gest of it"

Yay cider! Fuzzball hops off Magpie's head, bounding over to dive into Rocket's sidepouch, dragging a straw out with him a moment later. Which he plunks into his drink, standing on his tiptoes to get with the drinking. Mmmmm~ Happy bunny.

Gamble flicks his ears back. "If it's that big of a vault, we won't be able to just drag all the contents elsewhere without doin' something drastic either. Um. What kind of vault is this? Like… A big safe? Or somethin'? Full of what?"

"Undoubtedly," the contact replies to Gamble. "However, the fact that you are still here means that you share my employer's definition. If not you would have left when given the chance earlier." She nods to Muzaji as the zebra gives her own analysis. "And you are of like mind as well. I'm glad to see that we chose the right ponies." And also bird.

The map of the manor is rolled up and tucked back into the contact's overalls. "No, we'll be stealing the entire vault, little one. Getting into it will be too time-consuming and risky." She waves off Gamble's question abouve the size of the vault. "If we already knew the contents my employer wouldn't need it inventoried. Rest assured, it is not so large that we won't be able to move it with the proper tools. That is where your unique talents will begin to come into play."

The orange mare's shadowed gaze lands on Rocket. "Our griffon friend here will be key to the first part of this plan. Floating above the town is a weather management facility that the town's pegasi use in their weather patrol duties. My intel leads me to believe that they have a portable cloud maker stored within it. We'll need access to that cloud maker."

Magpie says "That sounds fun. I don't think a cloud can hold up a safe, though…"

"And not a pegasus present," Muzahi notes idly. "Guess that one will be up to the other fine feathered friend we have here." Sips the end of her drink. "She never said the cloud was for lifting the safe, now did she…"

"Right. Welp." Gamble leans over and gives Rocket a small clap on the back. "Have fun bein' a weather griffon fer a day, Feathers."

"It could with the proper spell but I wasn't able to track down a skilled unicorn who would be trustworthy enough for our purposes. The cloud maker will have another use." The contact looks at Magpie next. "You have classes at Bramblebush, yes?"

Magpie hoofshuffles. "Um… Not… not exactly."

The contact should have expected this. "Truancy aside, you're /supposed/ to have classes at Bramblebush, right?"

Magpie says "Um. I'm s'posed to start next fall."

Muzaji emits a low, joking whistle. "Buuuusted~"

Magpie says "No, no, um. I'm…. I can read now," …more or less… "so I'm s'posed to start…""

Rocket blinks and tilts her head. "Cloud machine, huh? S'interesting. Well, I can get up there, at least. Always wondered how those things worked…" She sips at her drink, glancing curiously over at Magpie. Whether she's curious about the school thing or just wondering why a school thing is important is anycreature's guess.

Gamble's curious about this too, glancing from the contact to Magpie and back. Being as he's supposed to be the current authority figure at the schoolhouse and all.

Fuzzball squeaks a little burp. Already done with his cider, he is, and sprawled out on the tabletop next to his empty glass. Ahh~

The contact rubs her temples. "Hmm. Well, you're a clever girl, I'm sure you'll be able to figure something out. We'll need some maps of the town, both a current one and an old map of the area. Something from around 990, back before the town burned down on a regular basis."

"That's good to hear!" the contact says with a cheerful clap of her hooves. She looks to Gamble and Muzaji next. "The two of you may be best suited to finding something we can use to cut our entrance and escape route. It'll need to be very large. Something from one of the salvage yards and tinkerers' workshops might be your best bet, although it is of course up to your discretion where you acquire it. My employer likes to see creativity."

Gamble squints. "A cuttin' tool. Okay. Something strong enough to cut metal, yeah? Uh." He glances towards Muzaji. "No chance you already got somethin' that magically cuts doors into things in yer stock, is there?" Hey, go for the simplest solution first.

"I'm a trader, not a miracle worker," Muzaji replies to Gamble a bit tongue-in-cheek with her amused smirk. She sets her empty glass to the side and taps her chin with a hoof thoughtfully. "Capable of cutting large apetures without drawing too much attention… speaking of, just what sort of possible security are we possibly looking at? Other than the Mayor's lovably but dimwitted sidekick bodyguards."

The contact considers Muzaji's question. "Guards are the big worry, I don't believe there are any other security systems in place since we'll be bypassing the door. We'll need a way to clear the manor out somehow but figuring out how is not a high priority just yet." She also reminds, "Cutting stone /and/ dirt. With the weather getting warmer there are too many ponies around, even at night. We'll be digging our way in. That's what will make your task most challenging, since we don't have a powerful unicorn to carry and use multiple tools you'll need to find one thing that can do both."

"I figured as much." Gamble murmurs, tipping his hat back finally and finishing off his rocky rum drink. "Alright, we'll figure somethin' out. Uh, when's our illustrious employer want to pull this off anyway? There a time limit on our mischief, or is it a 'get it done when we got all the pieces' sort of deal?" He pauses, tilting his head. "Digging? Uh. Well, okay."

Magpie tilts her head and gives the contact a wide-eyed look. "Yeah, who ARE we workin' for, anyways?"

"At least its not crawling through air ducts," Muzaji mumurs in a manner that almost suggests she's been in that sort of situation before. Digging they can probably handle. The worst part would be noise. Hmmm. She just shakes her head a little when the contact gets some needling about whom hired her to hire them.

"For reasons of plausible deniability I cannot make my employer's name known to you at this time," the contact says promptly as if she was waiting for that question to crop up. "Rest assured, she is more than capable of compensating you for your effort. You can be provided with cash if that is your payment of choice, or if it is more to your liking you may take a few items from the vault in lieu of payment. Don't feel you need to decide that now, though."

Schedule-wise she waves a hoof in the air vaguely. "I have not been provided with a timetable but the faster the job is completed the better. If I had to give you a deadline… the job will be all but impossible during Final Rain, but immediately afterwards should present an excellent opportunity as all of the ponies in town get rid of their cabin fever by playing outside in the summer sun."

Muzaji entirely expected that sort of answer when it came to identities. "So it's not a dire rush, but the sooner the better."

"Yes," the contact agrees simply. "If that's everything, we had best be on our ways. I'll be in touch with you as events warrant but I would prefer to not gather in a large group like this again until the plan is put into motion." She reaches into a pocket of her coveralls once more and pulls out a set of cards bearing sea charts on them. "If you need to contact me simply place one of these somewhere innocuous."

Gamble nods his head slowly. "Alright then. Uh. Thanks fer the drink. And the interesting rumors." He takes one of the cards, too, finding an appropriate place for it. Under his hat, most likely.

Even Fuzzball snags one of the cards, and his straw, hopping into Rocket's pouch. He waves a paw at Magpie and ducks down out of sight.

Rocket gets a card for herself, because clearly Fuzzball is in on this as much as anycreature else and needs his own! "Yeah, thanks for the drink. S'hard to get one in here sometimes." Possibly only for her. Hmph. Quality mushrooms, really, they were. "I'll get working on figuring out a cloudthing."

Magpie waves a hoof to Fuzzball and one of the cards slips off the table. Nopony sees if the filly actually put it somewhere. "Okay. See you later."

The contact stands up and places the remaining cards back in her coveralls. "Then you have a good evening, my little ponies." She tips her hat to Rocket. "And griffon. It was a pleasure sharing a drink with you." She walks leisurely towards the front door and out of sight.

Magpie grins. Adventure! yay!