Darkest Before Dawn, pt 1
IC date: Autumn 42, 1007 A.N.
OOC date: October 31, 2012
PCs: Snowfield, Winter-Solstice, Ruby-Blossom, Kludge, Manyara, Windrose, Jellybean
NPCs: Pinkie Pie, Heatsink, Foal Horde, Nightmare Moon
GM: Rumble-Riot, Siyana

Within the Horseshoe Base, on this most dangerous of nights, the mood within is quite mixed.

On the one hoof, there's still plenty of candy supplies, and all the foals are generally giggling, playing, and pretending that they're having the sort of Nightmare Night that sun-loving ponies were meant to enjoy. With fun costumes and a few of the smaller rooms being set up to be little trick-or-treat stations. And Pinkie helping to herd small groups of foals around. No doubt with a serious helping of help from other ponies. All this good cheer is good for ones bad mood.

On the other hoof… Both the Professor and Glimmer are stuck in one of the bunk rooms, sleeping off the dregs of the nasty mind-control spells Nightmare's Will used on them. For that matter, the whole 'Tonight is Nightmare Night' thing is scary in its own right. Nightmare Moon /knows/ this base exists. And that there's foals. If there were a night when she would take advantage of this information, it would be tonight.

For this reason a section of the main base room has been dedicated to a bit of a meeting. With Heatsink, stained overalls and all, looking hopeful at anypony else there to discuss The Problem.

"So uh… Yeah." the orange pony mutters, about as nervous as they get. "Tonight's gonna be a rough night. Any ideas y'all got to help beef up security and keep all the kids safe are welcome. Cuz' short of barrin' up the door and puttin' a 'go away' sign out front, I'm stumped."

"Have you ever actually tried that?" Snowfield asks thoughtfully. "Sometimes the simplest solutions really are the most elegant. The undead aren't known for their intelligence, after all. Unless that zombie queen from the forest is accompanying them, a strongly worded sign may very well be enough to keep them at bay." The little unicorn mare is wearing nothing as usual. Her costume will be magicked up when the situation warrants and not a moment sooner, in part because of the mental fatigue involved in maintaining the facade and in part because it's basically impossible to talk to anypony while wearing it.

The stove doesn't have any ideas. You can tell because it pipes up, in a voice suspiciously like Winter Solstice's, and says, "I don't have any ideas."

Then a panel on the top pops open and Winter's head sticks out. It's a big black potbelly stove, something she helped salvage from the dead village the other week. After being cooped up inside one of the houses waiting for Will and Tom to go be evil elsewhere with just the stove for company, she couldn't bear to leave it behind. Now, with a bit of modification, she can neatly fit inside, and when the situation calls for it, drop it down onto its feet, pull her head inside, and button it up. Nobody would ever suspect, then, that it was anything other than a common, nondescript potbelly stove, aside from the fact it is rusty and old and not hooked up to anything and probably hanging around in the middle of the room and maybe, as is the case right now, talking.

"Or maybe we could do that, sort of, except put a sign out saying, 'Come on in, we totally won't kick you in the nose,' and then when they come in, we kick them in the nose." She reaches up with a sooty hoof and tries to scratch her nose, but her movement is restricted enough that she can't really manage, and instead just scrapes her nose on the big stovepipe that sticks up from the back of the unit.

"Maybe last night served as minor deterrent?" Hopeful smile! Ruby of course referring to the explosion that rocked the Thunderbolt Encampment last the day before courtesy of Ruby; hey they were building mines it's their own darn fault!

The spitting image of pre-capture Will continues. Have ever considered just keeping up the good cheer, Will seemed to really dislike that. Well on that subject she dislikes a lot of things. rubbing the small cut on her neck earned during a 'civil' conversation with Will. I mean, maybe if we just sing they'll go stop what they're doing like parasprites?

"Do zombies even read?" inquires Kludge. Or at least, it's probably Kludge - who else would disguise themselves as a pile of lumber? He sighs, slouching into a seat. "Wish I had a productive suggestions, but…"

Manyara is also, for the moment, uncostumed. She's sitting beside Snowfield, expression thoughtful. "Well, clearly, we will want to keep the foals distracted. Busy. Somepony will want to keep a close eye on them," she offers. "Barring the door is probably not a bad idea either. Perhaps a shield?" Though she's, admittedly, not certain she can do that all on her own. An odd feeling, to be sure; normally it would be no big thing! The abada gives her head a shake, lightly jingling the beads and gems in her mane. "The foals are, of course, top priority, I assume."

"Speaking of." At the mention of which, Windrose reachs over to smack Ruby on the shoulder with her hoof. "That's for leaving me up half the night wondering where the hay you were when you didn't show up in the bunk," she scolds the mare, though it's in a tone that's more teasing than angry. Though the fact that she's got her mane tied up in a bun, a quill stuck behind one ear and a pair of lens-less glasses frames she found in the stuff they gathered out of the encampment during the raid, did give it a bit of a sterner effect. It's somewhere between strict teacher and hot librarian pony, because she was trying to use as little stuff as possible so there was more to go around for the foals. "Like Snowfield said, sometimes simple solutions are the best. They know there's ponies here willing to stand up and fight back now, we just gotta keep vigilant and hopefully that will be enough."

Puff-Shrooms. Just keep planting those and you'll be a-oh-good.

Wait, those aren't available? Didn't you get the Bloom & Doom seed catalog in the- riiiiight, no regular mail service. Gotcha.

In any case, Winter Solstice isn't the only one wearing metal; Sky Sparkler found a pile of cast iron gutters and downspouts. She's using her magic to magnetically adhear the pieces into a rough robot costume. She picks up on something Manyara says. "Distraction, maybe? What if we could make the zombies think we're somewhere else, or just lure them away from the base?"

Oh, and the pointy end of that pencil is visable sticking out of her costume's head, right around the muzzle region.

Again.

Snowfield casts a sidelong gaze at Sky-Sparkler. "Again? You are going to lose your writing privileges in a moment if you keep jamming things up your nose." Her horn glows as she tries to magically pull pencil out from her nostril.

Heatsink taps her forehead with a hoof. "Buckwheat… I forgot all about the zombies too!" She slumps back. "Honestly I didn't think stoppin' the zombies would be much of a problem. Like ya said, they're kinda dumb. Doubt they could even get the door open if they wanted to. I was more meanin' the queen…" She gestures to the rambuncious groups of foals, whom have apparently filled up Pinkie's zombie costume, and are now chasing /her/ with it. "She's gonna be out tonight. And I think y'all know she'll be stoppin' here for a treat at somepoint. So we're gonna need to figure out a way to stop that. Or at least keep all the foals safe from her magicks."

Ruby-Blossom ows softly as Windrose smacks her shoulder. "I blew up their stuff - doesn't that count for anything?" The deafening explosion was easily heard from the base - the bigger question should be when did that encampment get so many explosives? Will's voice chimes - sure to make one or two ponies jump "Anyways." back to Ruby's own voice. "I imagine offering to stab her in the kiester wouldn't be much of an offer at all - but I'd be much obligin if the idea has any merit." What is she a cowpony now? "What if we challenge her to a game or something? I mean, being a bitter berry for a 1000 years has got to be really boring; that might distrat her some?"

Winter-Solstice turns about in her stovearmorcostume, which involves a lot of rocking back and forth and an abysmal series of loud clunks as her metal-enshrouded hooves bang against the floor and the bottom of the stove. Ka-KLUNK ka-KLUNK ka-KLUNK ka-KLUNK-a-KLUNK. Settling in a position where she can admire Sky Sparkler's pencil, she considers… "Well, uh… does… does ANYTHING ever drive her away? I mean, has she been by before? Maybe not here, but elsewhere? Has anybody actually seen her? What about if there are just adults- does she stop by to stomp adults too or does she leave 'em alone if they don't shoot at her or call her names or anything like that?"

Snowfield harumphs thoughtfully. How does one avoid the gaze of a fel god? She looks over the other ponies in the room and eventually settles on the Abada. "…Manyara, how good is your strengthening magic? Could you bolster one of my ice spells so that no heat escapes from it?"

That answer earns Ruby another hoof-bop. "And -that- is for making explosions without sharing with the rest of us!" She's grinning broadly though, clearly teasing this time. Somepony has to keep up trying to keep the mood light despite the looming potential for buckloads of trouble. "As much as I'd like to think the trouble we've given her forces would keep her from wanting to mess with us, practically she's going to think she's still better just because she's an arrogant old nag."

Jellybean is present and listening, though he's yet to contribute anything to the conversation. Every so often he looks at his brooch with a quizzical expression. He isn't sure if he should suggest anything or not: it might not be relevant and he doesn't want to distract them.

"Yeah, about that…" Heatsink says, squinting at Ruby in Will's Costume. "I guess it's possible you goin' to that outpost and blowin' up some stuff might deter'em a bit." She tips her head. "Or it might tick'em off even /more/, seein' as we got a little army of kids. So uh, good job, but I don't know if it really helped." She scratches her chin with a hoof. "Maybe if you'd blown up Canterlot or something."

"Jamming what up my nose?" Sky Sparkler replies to Snowfield, honestly confused.

*pop*

As the pencil crosses her field of view, the weather unicorn lets out a long "Oooooh" adding, "How does that thing keep winding up stuck there? If I didn't know better I'd say it's cursed." She shakes her head, bucket-helmet rattling. She looks over as Winter rolls around loudly, getting half an idea…

"Maybe we could try chaneling them into a choke point, and set up some sort of trap?" Sky Sparkler suggests. Comeon, it'd be just like wall-nut bowling, except with Winter Solstice!

Manyara ponders this idea for a moment before nodding slowly. "I imagine I could, yes, Snowfield. Although I feel I would have to drop any illusions I am making to do so." She looks over at Winter. "In our legends that is the point of the candy, as an offering to deter her. I suppose that bit of the legend must have come from somewhere, perhaps it has merit." Although even she has to admit the idea seems silly, more like something added in for the foals' benefit to explain FREE CANDY and all that.

Winter-Solstice turns about some more. Ka-CLUNK-a-ka-CLUNK-a-KLUNK-a-CLANK. Now she's facing the opposite wall and twisting about to peer back over her shoulder. "What? Choke them? Okay, I am all for that! When she shows up, we choke her!" She twists the other way and grunts as her face bonks into the stove's pipe. Man, this is fun and all, but she sort of misses her costume from last year. She was a gryphon! It was great. For the residents of the house whose roof she crashed through after flinging herself from a clocktower, not so great. With a bit more twisting she turns her head to peer at Manyara. "Yeah. Candy offering. Let's do that. Got any left? Maybe we can have someone hide in the candy, and she'll get close, and we can pop out, and POW! Right in the nose."

Ruby-Blossom pouts softly at Heatsink's scolding/praise. ""Like I explained before, they were building mines to keep us from scavaging supplies - so I blew it up." She shrugs her shoulders "I couldn't think of a /better/ night to head to Canterlot." the mare says without hesitation. "I mean if I could just poof on over there, I would." she sounds ENTIRELY serious to boot. "I want to believe Nightmare Moon is more reasonable than Will; I seriously have trouble fathoming a pony /less/ reasonable than Will." Ruby proceeds to crumple up a blue leaf then offer it Winny "Coal for the stove~" she pipes in a sing-song voice.

Snowfield tosses the pencil into a trash can. "Then consider yourself exorcised and be haunted no more," she deadpans. To Manyara again the unicorn shakes her head. "No, it's no good if you have to drop your own illusions. I was hoping for something along the lines of a one time power boost, rather than a sustained spell. I'll see what I can do on my own if it comes to that."

And since it's always worth it to clarify for the benefit of everypony else: "I can try to surround one of the rooms to keep any heat from getting out and we can gather the foals there. It'll be warm enough on the inside and hopefully not so suspicious that evil spirits will investigate it."

Magpie approaches the cluster of Very Serious Adults. She's draped in some worn out old clothes, a single rubber boot, and liberal amounts of green paint. Along with her natural coloration, it makes her look rather bruised. She doesn't interrupt, just slips up with her ears perked forward.

It might be hard to tell through the array of wood Kludge is wearing, but he has a thoughtful expression on his face. Perhaps he's coming up with some sort of clever plan, or maybe an insightful question?

Nope, just the occasional "huh" of the perpetually stumped.

Jellybean sits down next to Magpie and raises a hoof patiently. He's not about to interrupt but on the other hoof he's willing to share ideas, regardless of how silly they might sound.

Frustrated, Heatsink taps her hooves together in front of her face. "What a time fer the Professor to be out of the picture…" she mutters. Then starts nodding. "…Yeah, that might help. Mask all our heat so nothin' outside can sense it. At least that'll keep all the creepies from bangin' on the door if nothing else." Her gaze drifts to the patiently waiting Jellybean. "Heya squirt. You got something to add?"

Just thowing the pencil out might not be enough for Snowfield to break the curse; Sky Sparkler tried that very method twice herself…

And look, here comes a curious colt, who sticks his head into the trash can, and walks off, his new trophy proudly in his mouth.

Back to the meeting! "Mask our heat signature?" Sky Sparkler asks, pondering an idea of her own. "But what about smells? Can zombies smell us? Hmmm. Perhaps a wind blowing towards the base and out over the sea might help us hide."

Ruby glances at Mummy-Jelly and cheerfully pipes. "Yeah Jelly, share the idea if you've got it. Don't keep us wrapped-up in suspense."

"Have you ever tried to smell an apple frozen in ice?" Snowfield asks. "I'll give you a hint: it smells like ice. I don't think I'll be able to hide the whole base, but I should be able to generate a strong enough spell to hide the little ones so long as they don't wind themselves up."

Windrose GROANS and buries her face in her hooves at Ruby's puns

Winter-Solstice hangs her head a bit at the mention of the Professor. She's been doing that a lot lately, seeing as, you know, she tackled the guy. And then, earlier, smashed Glimmer. They look pretty sad all konked out. She keeps quiet for now while waiting to hear what Jelly has to say.

Jellybean steps forward, holding up the brooch. "Do you think maybe this might help? It makes daylight. At least, I think it's daylight. It feels like it to me. If she sent her sister and the sun away maybe it might remind her or something?" His ears are folded as he offers this: he's feeling sheepish for suggesting this.

Magpie slowly frowns. "It makes sunlight?" she asks curiously.

Blink. "Sunlight?" Heatsink squints at the object Jellybean's holding up. "Really? That little thing makes sunlight? That's…an interesting thought. If we could find a way to, y'know, stick it right in Queen Meanie's face or something."

Magpie waves her hooves. "Wait! Wait! I- I have a- um! I need a unicorn!"

Ruby-Blossom raises her hoof in offering. Which will likely confuse almost all the ponies in the room as Ruby is /clearly/ an Earth Pony pretending to be a unicorn at the moment; she's NEVER been a Unicorn pretending to be an earth-pony - no ma'am.

"… I think that costume is going to your head, Ruby," Windrose says, peering at the mare in Will's clothing offering.

Magpie gives an exasperated groan. "No, not YOU! I need a REAL unicorn! One that's good at magic! And stuff!"

Winter-Solstice, seeing a fellow earth pony raise their hoof in volunteering, does as well. Although she can't do more than lift one of the squat little feet of the stove up at an odd angle off its bottom edge, so nobody notices.
Manyara blinks over at Magpie. "Would I do?" she asks with a faint chuckle. "A unicorn I am not quite, but…"

The pencil leaves the scene, as it sneaks into hiding, ready to ambush Sky Sparkler's unsuspecting nose, when the moment is right… Yes… It shall wait…

Meanwhile, the Weather Unicorn herself is looking at Jellybean's brooch. "It… makes sunlight? Huh. And…" she grows quiet. "You may have something there. She may be really lonely."

She shakes her head, then turns to Magpie. "What kind of magic?" she asks. Her magic is powerful, if specalized.

Ruby-Blossom promptly lowers her hoof with a resounding thud, followed by planting her flank on the cold floor. She mutters something inappropriate for ponies under the age of 17 summers, and proceeds to quietly glare at nopony in particular. (Never good enough for that foal…) Some more obscene muttering that's likely to make Jelly blush.

Kludge coughs, a perfectly ordinary cough of a pony who had something go down the wrong pipe, and not the sound of a cancelled laugh. After all, there's nothing here to laugh at. Nope, nothing at all.

Jellybean nods to Sky Sparkler. "That's what I was thinking. I mean, it's been a thousand years since she saw her sister, right?"

Magpie hangs around the docks. She rates Ruby a 6 out of 10. "Um! I— um. I'm kinda not really good at magic and I don't know how it all works and stuff but, uh… they did a big spell thingy that was supposed to summon Princess Celestia, but they got us instead, right?"

"That's the story, yes," Snowfield confirms.

Magpie says "'cause the spell got all confused, right? So, uh… um… what if we… did it again, only… give it that thing and tell it, y'know.. THIS is who we're looking for."

Heatsink can only shrug at Magpie's suggestion. "I don't know enough 'bout the spell they were castin' to be able to tell ya if that would work. And the one that could is kinda out cold. But it's a thought. I don't know if that helps us tonight, but it's a thought for later for sure."

Magpie lowers herself a little. "Um. I was just thinking if we can use it for that maybe we shouldn't mail it to Nightmare Moon or stick it up her nose."

"Stick a pencil up her nose instead," suggests Winter, as she clunks around to face the group once more. "Pointy side first. Sparkly, where'd that thing go?"

"I… ah." Sky Sparkler coughs, (with a clang of her robot costume banging together) "I was never that good at magical theory," she admits. Which is one way to describe having to take the 'basic magical theory' class three times before she passed.

With a D+.

She looks over at Winter. "I think Snowfield put it in that trash can," she says, pointing with a down spout-clad hoof.

Jellybean nods to Magpie. "I don't see why we can't do both. I mean, if she shows up we can show it to her. That's what I'm suggesting, anyway." Hoofscuff. He looks over at Snowfield.

At least there's possibility for plans here! Sunlight sounds awful promising somehow, but… Heatsink taps a hoof on the tabletop nearby. "…I dunno 'bout summoning. But can any of y'all do a magnification sort of spell? I might got a mirror or glass or somethin' around here that might help too. If we can turn that itty bitty light into something more sun-sized, that might actually do something."

"Maybe see if Snowfield can magic up some kinda ice prism thing?" suggests Winter, scuffing a hoof. The iron-encased hoof scratches the floor permanently, and seeing this, she alters her stance slightly to stand on the scratch. There, it's gone.

Windrose gets up from where she was sitting. "You guys keep working on those ideas. I'm gonna go see if Pinkie needs any help with herding so many kids." The pink pegasus adjusts the glasses of her costume before trotting off to join the more festive going-ons.

Snowfield nods to Winter Solstice. "Let me grab some snow from outside and I can make a lens big enough to turn that into a floodlight." She turns her attention back to Manyara first, however. "It might take some time to adjust the shape to be compatible with your amplification, though… unless you're able to amplify the brooch itself?" The unicorn doesn't wait for an answer before she heads for the door, horn aglow to open it up.

Manyara nods over at Heatsink. "I can do that." At Snowfield's suggestion, she tilts her head thoughtfully. "Perhaps that as well. It depends what manner of magical artifact it is! I may be able to amplify it directly." Though that might require her to wear it! Or not. Some magical necklaces work that way, some don't! It's hard to tell at a glance sometimes.

Jellybean holds it out to Manyara. "You can try if you'd like. If you need to wear it to make it work then you can use it."

There is a connection between the electromagnetic powers that are Sky Sparkler's forte and visible light… but its not one she knows how to exploit. "Sorry, the only 'light' I'm good at is lightning," she admits. "But if we could put it high enough, like a new sun…"

Softly, a sound sneaks its way into the Base. It's not the sort of sound anyone over a certain age can really hear, but it's enough to make the general groups of foals slow down in their ensuing chaos, a great forest of tiny ears perking up. Everything goes… Quiet. Unless you're a foal.

If you're a foal, there's this sweet, soft, and very /interesting/ song muffled in the air. Coming from outside. What could it be? Oh there's only one way to find out. And that's to march up that tunnel and leave to see what's up.

That's precisely what a couple foals have already started to do, peeking up the tunnel…

Kludge notices the foals looking attentively towards the tunnel. Since he doesn't seem to be able to contribute to the planning, he decides to go investigate. "What's got your attention?" he asks the leading foals curiously as he wanders over.

Jellybean blinks and turns his head this way and that. "Does anypony else hear that?" he asks. "I wanna see what it is." With that he starts trotting out with the rest of the foals.

Snowfield stops at the open door, the lilting melody drifting through the open door and into the base. Her eyes unfocus slightly and she takes a few tentative steps out into the darkness.

Winter-Solstice can't hear anything because, at just a few years out of adolescence, she is basically the Old Crone of any group she is ever in. Also, every time she moves her stupid costume clunks or creaks or makes some other awful noise. Sometimes it even twangs like a spring. A spring! She turns her head to watch the foals with a frown. "Hey!" She waggles her head at the door. "Someone double-check the locks, huh?"

Sky Sparkler's clangy movements fill the silence as she turns to see what the suspiciously quiet foals are up to. "Is there an ice-cream truck 'round here that no one told me about?" she asks, trying to make sense of the behavior as she follows her (theroetical) boss; she still feels she needs to keep an eye on Jellybean, and keep him out of trouble.

Magpie shakes her head and her ears flick. She paws at her ear with one hoof, looking confused, as if not quite hearing something.

Manyara blinks and frowns, tilting her head. But at Jellybean's movement she springs to her hooves, horn glowing as she hefts him off the ground. "Oh no you don't! Somepony close the door, /now/! And everyone gather the foals, quickly." With nothing else to do with it she drops the amulet around her neck, hurrying to peek out into the hall.

"Stop them!" Pinkie Pie squeaks, chasing a group of five foals whom have apparently decided that adults are here to stop them from going outside. When they /must know/ what's going on! "Stop them stop them stop theeeeem! It's starting already!"

Heatsink grunts, getting up from her seat, "H..hey!" she shouts, almost in the same breath as Manyara, "Get that door closed! We gotta…oh shoot… Everypony get them foals back inside now! We're outta time to plan!"

Jellybean flails his little hooves plaintively and whines, hanging there in mid-air. "But it's pretty and I want to see who's making it! C'moooooon, let me go, please?"

There's a syncopated rhythm of clattering and cursing as Kludge trots after the escaping foals. Well, he can't exactly say that this was totally unexpected. Not the exact thing of music only foals can hear, but things going wrong and requiring solving RIGHT NOW. *That's* the part he's not surprised by.

Magpie's ears slowly turn towards the door. Oh…. /that/'s what it was. She starts to lurch that direction, a few stumbling steps, a pause, then a few more paces…

Winter-Solstice throws herself in the open door and blocks it with the her bulk and bellows, in a mighty voice, "YOU… SHALL… NOT… PASS!"

Or at least, that is what she tries to do, but as she attempts to surge towards the door, she finds herself bound by the stove and unable to move any faster tha a rocking, back-and-forth, tipping motion. The big mare whines as she struggles to tip-top wibble-wobble to the door, clunking around inside, throwing herself forward. The feet scrape over the floor, the old metal protests and creaks… and then she tips herself over. *THUNK.*

The stove rolls around a bit on its curved side, four stubby feet waggling on the bottom, Winter's head turning about on the top. "Augh! Augh! Roll me into the door! Roll me into the door and stop it up!" she calls out to anybody nearby.

Manyara thumps Jellybean down on Heatsink's back. "No. Stay there. It's nothing you want to investigate, dear, it's very scary. I'll tell you a story about it later." She breaks into a quick trot, weaving around the foals and occasionally springing over them - and a… stove? - as she rushes ahead to get to the door. She goes to tug it closed… and freezes. "Snowfield? Snowfield! Ponyfeathers…" She snatches her up and yanks her back inside, horn gleaming as she throws up a similarly gleaming, golden… almost-wall in front of the door. That would hopefully stop anypony 'escaping'! At least for the moment.

"Right."

Sky Sparkler closes her eyes for a second, her horn lighting up. Hooves spread and braced, she uses her magic on the door itself, gathering electric and magnetic forces.

Poor Winter, as Sky Sparkler uses her magic to grab the pot-bellied stove, and roll it over into the door… and quickly, at that.

Sky Sparkler spares a thought to hope that Winter doesn't suffer from spin-cycle induced motion sickness.

"Wha?" Snowfield says in a daze. "Hey, leggo…" She seems entranced, much like the other foals are. Looks like for all the years that her mind has clocked in that little kid's body of hers is still as susceptible to enchantment as the next foal's.

"Aw horseapples…" Heatsink mutters, taking Jellybean and moving to help Pinkie gather others up. With Winter moved into position, blocking the tunnel, no more foals can escape! Unfortunately There's some escapees already giggling as they run up the tunnel, right past the hesitant Snowfield and Manyara, into the cold, crisp, open night air~

The rest of the foals, the ones not being held back by Pinkie or Manyara's magic, are whining and pawing at the costume, trying to sneak past like the little wiggly things they are. "Heeey!" "No fair!" "How come /they/ got to get out and we can't, huh?" "I just wanna see what it is!"

Jellybean keeps flailing, though he isn't trying to hit Heatsink or anything: he just wants to go hear the music!

The *first* thing Kludge does when he reaches the end of the tunnel is to look around for hostiles. The second thing he plans on doing is capturing the escapees, even if he has to jump over them and use his wooden costume as an improvised net. Of course, that assumes things are safe, which they might not be…

Magpie scrambles up onto the stove that's blocking the door (also, Winter's face) and puts her hooves on the shield that's blocking the way. She pushes on it for a moment, then grunts in frustration. Her horn limns with lavender light, and she pushes it against the magical barricade.

Winter-Solstice continues to flail her iron-capped feet and swing her head. "Yeah! Yeah! Panic averted! Nightmare Night saved! Now just get me a hat and I can stay here all ni… oh…" She turns and sees several foals heading up the tunnel already and gasps. "Noo! Kids, come back!" The stove starts to bounce up and down with a few clunks as Winter thrashes about inside. "This costume was the worst idea I've ever had and I'm disappointed nobody talked me down from itfffg" She trails off as she gets Magpie's hooves in her face. Turning her head up, she bites down on Magpie's tail and yanks, trying to pull her back down. "Vvvffgk!"

The barricade gives under the magic! Just in a little hole. Foal-sized, though! That might be a problem, but Manyara has other concerns. "You'll forgive me for this later, I imagine!" she asides to Snowfield, before… /fling/! The little unicorn is arced through the air! Hopefully to land wafely behind Winter! The abada doesn't stick around to double-check. She springs through the barrier as if it weren't there, catching up the nearest foal and plunking it down on her back. And dashing for the next!

Magpie stumbles half-through the opening and dangles there by her tail, struggling. "Ah! Ow ow ow ow ow!" Her eyes focus on Winter's through the yellow light of the shield. "…what?" she asks. "…why are you — why am I?"

Between the bulk of her costume, and the limits of her teleport spell, Sky Sparkler isn't going to be able to get past Winter's costume and out of the base to where she might help Kludge. On the other hoof, somepony should be helping to keep all the other foals from getting through. Winter has Magpie, Sky Sparkler grabs the others, with a combination of teeth on tail for one and her magic telekensis for two more

Plunk! Well that's one of about four that escaped, giggling as they scatter in different directions. "Whee!" "It's cold!" "But it's so pretty~" "Where's the music coming from?" "From over there!" Even the one on Manyara's back is content to stay there, so long as she's being carried /towards/ the music!

In the skies, a full moon lurks. The fullest moon. Somehow arranged to appear on this dreadful night, if only so the silhouette of a particular shadowy alicorn can be clearly seen. Nightmare Moon, singing to the night, to the foals, to her enemies. Just a few hundred feet high, watching over the wastelands and the few foals that have already leaked past. She's no doubt smiling…

Within the base, the foals aren't giving up! Climbing all over Winter like a swarm of bug-children, all clamoring for that foal-sized hole in the barricade! With Pinkie and Heatsink trying to help Sky and Kludge pull as many away as they can, there's still more foals than there are limbs of adult ponies! "We can't hold'em all back!" Heatsink grunts.

"Buh?" Snowfield says as she arcs through the air and lands with a *wumph* back in the base. The crash landing seems to clear her head as she bolts upright again. "It's a song!" she shouts. "Somepony is singing a song and it's enchanting them! Here, let me back out, I still need to get that snow for the lens!" Hopefully the unicorn not going to inspire the children to pull a similar stunt as she levitates /herself/ up and over the fallen stove (who dropped a stove in the middle of the room, anyway?) and dashes back up the tunnel to the outside.

"Well, buck," mutters Kludge as he sees the silhouette. Well, might as well do what he came out here to do! He carefully leaps onto one foal, catching it up before he trots down the tunnel to lob the foal to safety. With one escapee dealt with, he gallops back out to catch another one.

Winter-Solstice keeps a firm hold on Magpie's tail, glowering up at her. She mumbles something around it and thrashes about further. She twists enough to glance up the tunnel and her eyes widen at the sight of the moon- that awful, awful moon! She even gasps, briefly letting go of Magpie's tail, then growls and nabs it again. "Um nuh ydnt!"

Jellybean wriggles and flails and finally manages to break free of Rumble Riot's grip, leaving him holding a pile of unraveling bandages from his costume. As soon as he's free he's winging it towards the entrance, trying to squeeze passed Winter. "C'mon, let me through! I wanna see!"

The abada snatches up the second foal and keeps on going! This is no time to go leaving any behind! She casts a glance upwards at the sillouhette but doesn't stop, wheeling about on her hind hooves to dash for the third one, looking admittedly relieved to see Kludge doing the same. "Make sure no others get past!" she calls to him, then, with a glance at the ones on her back, "Can you contain these two to get them back to safety?" She's pretty sure she can catch the last one, but she's /not/ so sure she can keep all three reined in while scrambling back to the base! Help would certainly be appreciated once all of them are wrangled.

Winter-Solstice twists about to blink at Jelly, grimacing around her delicious Magpie tail. "Jlly!" she mumbles through the horsehair. "Nnnf!" One of the little feet of the oven is kicked off as she withdraws her hoof, and then that hoof kicks its way out of the grill on the front of the stove a moment later, as Winter swings a sooty foreleg at her li'l Jellybuddy, trying to nab him. She is, of course, hampered by Everything, so the most she can really do is swat him about and paint his backside and flank with smears of old ash. She all but whimpers as everything goes wrong so very very intensely.

The little unicorn, unstopped by any of the larger adults, gets to the top of the tunnel and wriggles through the hole in Manyara's shield. Now that Snowfield is aware of the glamourous spell being cast by the Queen she won't be taken by it a second time! At least not without a concentrated effort to enthrall her, anyway. Her eyes track up to the silhouette against the moon with a swear under her breath as she begins to craft her lens on the spot from the snow underhoof.

Kludge takes the foals Manyara caught and shepherds them back to safety, making sure they're secured before heading back out.

Jellybean manages to squeeze through Winter's otherwise admirable attempts at defense (If Horseshoe Harbor had a football team she'd do well to try out) and is soon out in the open. She looks up and sees the source of that beautiful music, Nightmare Moon. "Your song is beautiful, miss Queen." Even now he has some sense of self-awareness. "Can I show you something? I think you'd like it."

As the foals keep trying to get out, and the Queen of the Night makes an appearance, Sky Sparkler grows frantic. She can't solve the problem at the source, but she can't address the result of the problem, so what can she do? WHAT CAN SHE-

Wait. The foals all mention music.

Sky Sparkler closes her eyes, horn glowing brightly, incandescently, but there's no effect to be seen.

On the other hand, there's a loud, HOWLING, wail coming from the mistress of electric effects, as she attempts to drown out the charming music with her own, fear inducing screeches.