Not Quite An Explanation
IC date: Spring 74, 1008
OOC date: June 5, 2013
Location: Horseshoe Harbor - Town Square
PCs: Magpie
NPCs: The Contact
GM: Trixie

Magpie, saddlebags strapped on, trots out into the square. A glow of magic pulls the odd little card from her bag, and she casually lays it face-down on the edge of the fountain. Then sidles over to sit at one of the benches, apparently just sitting outside and enjoying the day.

Time passes without anything particularly interesting happening. A mare at a nearby cart tries to hawk some fresh apricots to anyone who will give her the time of day. Some passing shoppers comment that it seems a little chilly for a late spring day. An unsuspecting foal is pushed into the fountain by his best friend. He totally deserved it, though, so it's alright.

Magpie ducks away from the water and snatches her card back up before it gets too wet. She scowls, squinting at the text. Feh. Sticks it back in her bag. Maybe she needs to put it somewhere more obvious. Her contact didn't exactly say HOW she was supposed to display it. She starts to crawl off the bench.

A pony in coveralls, a pageboy cap and sporting a black braided mane walks by as Magpie pulls the card off of the edge of the fountain. She stops to look at the apricots.

Magpie grumbles to herself as she slips the card back in her bag and starts heading back to the Mane Affair. Maybe try again tomorrow. Grump. Stupid message nonsense grumble.

The coverall'd pony glances in Magpie's direction as the young filly walks away. She pays for her apricot and begins to walk in the direction of the Mane Affair as well.

Magpie starts to get the sense she's being followed about halfway back to the Mane Affair, and suddenly turns into an alley. And then takes to her heels!

/» GAME: Contact made a skilled roll with an outcome of Great./
/» GAME: Magpie made an unskilled roll with an outcome of Bad./

The braided-maned pony walks right on by the alley without following after Magpie… or at least it might look that way from the little unicorn's perspective~

Magpie glances back to see the pony not turning into the alley… whew. Then she remembers why she should watch where she's running as she crashes headlong into a stack of crates, with a sound like a bowling alley full of xylophones.

"Considering you called me out, I figured you would be a little more talkative," a voice says as one of the crates from the toppled pile is moved out of the way. "You might hurt yourself." Audible gasp, it's the pony in the coveralls!

Magpie gasps! "It's YOU!" She springs up and dusts herself off. "What took ya so long?! I thought you weren't comin'!"

The contact leans nonchalantly against the wall of the alley. From one of the pockets of her tar-stained outfit she draws the apricot purchased shortly before, taking a bite out of the fruit and chewing it slowly. Her eyes, partially hidden by the low brim of her cap, lock onto the dappled unicorn. "I can't be everywhere, kid. It's a big town, walking up here from the docks takes some time. Maybe be a little more observant next time, you walked right past me."

Magpie says "Yeah, well— well what's THIS about, anyway?!" She throws the card she had received on the ground. "I don't know any of these words!"

"That sounds like a personal failing," the contact says before taking another bite of her apricot. "I figured if you were smart enough to sort through the town archives, a bit of exotic vocabulary would be a cinch for you… or one of your friends, at the least."

Magpie stomps a back hoof. "This is supposed to be a seeeeecret mission. I can't just go wavin' that around!" She wiggles out of her saddlebags and tosses them on the ground in front of the contact. "There's your maps, now just tell me what you want me to do!"

An outstretched hoof catches the maps in the crook of the contact's fetlock joint. "Just a moment," she says as she peels back the corners of the parchments to check the years printed on them. Seeming satisfied with the dates she spares Magpie a small grin. "Do you just want me to translate that card or would you prefer a full briefing?"

Magpie scowls. "Both," she says with a grouchy scowl. "What fireworks were you talkin' about?"

"The griffon," says the contact plainly. "Her mission was… less than successful. It wasn't her fault, I admit that my intelligence about the weather team was wrong." She flips the card on the ground over to expose the 'poem' on it and points at the second line. "I've had to make some changes to the plan and it'll require somepony of your particular talents."

Magpie says "Oh. Ohhhhh. Um… what'cha need me to do? I can't, uh… I mean, I'm not a pegasus. Walkin' on clouds isn't… a thing I do so good."

"No, it's not. But you /are/ a footpad, and a unicorn to boot." The contact begins to walk in a half-circle around Magpie to size the filly up. "Have you been practicing your telekinesis?"

Magpie twists her neck to watch the mysterious mare. "I can manage a good sized watermelon if I don't gotta go far," she says with some pride.

The contact scratches her chin. "It'll be bigger than a watermelon, but if the others do their jobs right it should be light enough to be managable." The mare turns to walk out of the alley. She does not tell Magpie to follow, assuming the filly will do so of her own accord.

Magpie trots after the contact. "Yeah? When, where, and what?" she asks, curious despite herself. "What was Rock— I mean, uh… 'Fireworks' supposed to do?"

"She was supposed to find a portable cloud generator," the orange mare explains as she walks out onto the street and begins to trot down the lane. "Unfortunately, the cloud generator used by the weather team is… not exactly portable. So we'll need to find a way to acquire one." She neglects to explain the plan just yet.

Magpie points out patiently, "I can't lift it if she can't. What's the deal?"

"You don't need to lift it," the contact says as she turns down a side street. "Like I said, we need to find a way to acquire a portable one. I don't have any leads for one in town so we'll need to convince someone to purchase one."

Magpie trails along after the mare and sighs. It's like pullin' teeth over here. "So what do you need ME for then?" she asks in exasperation.

"Such an impatient little filly," the mare chides in a lilting tone. The pair emerge onto another street. This road slopes downhill, giving a reasonably clear view of the port below. "A master of the art knows that waiting for the pieces to fall into place and for the perfect opportunity to present itself is just as important, if not moreso, than being able to skulk around without being noticed."

Magpie narrows her eyes at the annoyingly mysterious mare. She closes her mouth tightly, then, determined to, perversely, not say another word until the mare explains what the heck is goin' on.

"What do you see?" the contact says as she points down at the harbor. "I'll give you a hint: 'ark' is another word for boat, and 'aground' means exactly what it says on the tin'."

Magpie scratches her head. "A boat on the ground?" She peers at the town. "….nope. Don't see nothin' but town."

The contact nickers disapprovingly. "You can see the Rusty Bucket from here. It's the only boat down in the harbor that doesn't sail, and it'll be the key to getting a new cloud maker. Have you heard anyone talking about the Rusty Bucket over the last few days?"

Magpie blinks. "Hey, the Bucket is a good ol' ship! We sailed 'er to Silver Shallows and back and through the SKY. Don't you say she can't sail!"

Magpie cough. "Ah, also: No, nopony talkin' about it."

"I didn't say it can't. It simply doesn't. It stays moored and is used as a bar." The contact scratches her head again. "You ought to keep your ear to the ground like your mother does, I imagine she knows all about this weekend's festivities. The owners of the Bucket are holding a drinking contest to get rid of all their extra spring beer. You're going to sneak into the Bucket and switch out their brew."

Magpie says "Oh, well, yeah, there's that, but that's —" She pauses. "What."

"What what?" the contact asks innocently.

Magpie just closes her mouth and sits and waits for her contact to get to the point. Not gonna call her impatient again, nope.

The contact does the most infuriating thing possible at this moment: she reaches down to ruffle Magpie's mane. "Just trust me on this. I have the others getting the booze we'll need. Assuming nothing goes horribly wrong they should have everything by… the night before the drinking contest at the latest. You'll roll the barrels in while nopony is looking and make the switch, and when it gets drunk during the contest… well, I'll leave that a surprise."

Magpie can't stand it. She flails an annoyed hoof at that condescending gesture. "And that gets you a cloud machine."

"If the currents are right, it will convince the ponies who matter to buy us a cloud machine, yes." The contact makes it sound so simple!

Magpie sighs and waves her hooves. "Okay, fine. Whatever. See you then. Hope this plan of yours works. I did my part!" Which was really convincing Tale Chaser to do her part for her, but wahtever.

The contact nods as Magpie grudgingly agrees to the plan. "I can't show you ALL the cards. That spoils the fun of the game. If you'd like another hint, though… it should be bubble brew that you're moving in." She doesn't say another word. The mare with the tar-stained coveralls trots down the street towards the docks and her presumed day job.

Magpie huffs. "Secret missions aren't as fun as I'd hoped," she grumbles as she trots home, less two old maps.