Puppetry Panic!
IC date: Autumn 6, 1007
OOC date: September 25, 2012
PCs: Whistlestop, Kludge, Skyflower, Mad-Mare, Ruby-Blossom
NPCs: Rock'em, Sock'em, Jokeblob Orange, Jokeblob Green, Jokeblob Blue
GM: None

What's that? Is that thunder in the distance? A siren?

No, it's Whistlestop, galloping through the streets and bawling his head off. He's shrunk — which means he's just about as big as a normal pony now, albeit with huge hooves and an oversized head. His body is round and pudgy instead of the muscly brick he is as an adult. And right now? He's wailing as he runs pelmel through the streets, crashing into carts, ponies, and buildings — which send him scrambling backward for only a moment before he races forward again to run into something else. Wailing.

Still smarting from the construction mishap last night, Kludge is being a bit more careful than usual while walking through town today. Thus, once he hears what could be a stampede, he takes cover between two sturdy crates. Once the one-pony stampede dopplers by, he carefully sticks his nose out. Curiosity getting the better of him, he trots after the wailing Whistlestop, trying to get close enough to talk while still staying out of the way. "Hey Whistlestop, what's wrong?" Kludge calls once he thinks he's within earshot.

Skyflower, meanwhile, seems to have taken rather well to the whole 'foal again' business and is prancing gaily through the streets with a red ribbon in her mane and wearing a new white dress. Where exactly did she get that? Either way, she certainly seems to be coping rather handily with the whole matter. But what's this? The pounding of hooves and the cry of a distressed foal? Whatever could be the matter? Skyflower investigates and in short order finds the ludicrously large lavender lummox bawling his eyes out. She gasps, eyes wide. "Oh dear, Whistlestop! Why, whatever is the matter? It can't be that bad having a second childhood, can it?" She carefully trots closer to him, attempting to radiate a soothing sunny disposition.

Speaking of running like angry chickens on a rampage.

The Mad Filly of Horseshoe Harbor also happens to be tearing through the street. Why? Because she's being /chased/. That's why. Apparently by her goons, big and gangly (though nowhere near Whistlestop's size) as they 'were' as foals. Small as Maddie is in this new kiddish shape, she's certainly no less apt to run into things, crash through carts (or bounce off them, in most cases) and duck around every other kid-sized object on her way past, wearing a look of complete and utter terror.

"Ahhhhhhhhhhh it's after meeeeeeeeeeeee!"

It's only because of that terrified Mad Filly that Whistlestop stops at all. His great clumsy weight barrels into her, tripping him up and sending him sprawling right on his face with a WHUMPF, where he just waaaails. "I'M SORRY!" he cries to the foal. "I'M A LITTLE PONYYYYY!" Experience points to otherwise, Whistlestop.

Kludge slows down to a walk, seeing how the stampede has come to a halt. He lends a hoof to help Maddie up, inquiring "Other than your henchgoons, what's chasing you, Maddie?"

Skyflower canters after Whistlestop and dabs at his cheeks with a handkerchief. "Oh you poor baby," she says, consolingly. "It's okay, everything's going to be okay," she says in a soft little sing-song. "Is everypony else all right?" It seems like she's more or less still herself mentally, which suggests that she just felt like looking fancy after turning into a foal.

The train wreck that ends up being Maddie, Lil' Rock'em and Lil' Sock'em after Whistlestop pretty much bowls them all over in an impressive comic display leaves little room for rational thought. The momentary daze gives Maddie enough pause to realize she isn't actually moving, despite having landed on her back and her legs still running at the air like she were going somewhere.

When realization sinks in, the crazy filly squeaks out a scared noise, scrambling to her hooves and shrinking into a right adorable 'cowering' posture. "Where is it? /Where is it!?/" she whimpers, eyes wide, near tears, glancing from Lil'Whistlestop to Kludge, and Skyflower. Her goons aren't in any better shape, spooked as all get out and currenly cowering behind a conveniently not tipped over cart.

Whistlestop whimpers and babbles at Skyflower, sniffling atrociously. "I woke up, and I was a little pony, and I dunno what I did wrong, because I gotta be in trouble, and I'm a bad pony, and I ran into stuff again, and I am so sorry!" When he realizes Mad's hunting for something, he bawls again. "I probably squished it!!" he wails. And then he thunks his head back on the flagstone, sprawled out and weeping. "Big, bad, clumsy Wiff— With— /Whistle/stop…"

Skyflower looks shocked. This poor thing. "Whistlestop, lamb, no! No, no no!" She hugs the giant foal and strokes his mane. "You aren't in trouble and you are most certainly NOT a bad pony! You are a good pony, a wonderful stal-err, colt. Shh, shh. Now you believe me, don't you? Would I ever lie to you?"

"Uh, Whistlestop? I think everyone who was in town the night the adventuring party found the exploding 'treasure' got turned into foals," points out Kludge, on the off chance that the logic will sink into 'Stop's head.

Turning his attention back to Maddie & Co., he tries asking again. "Where is /what/? What's chasing you guys?" He looks around, trying to spot what could possibly be pursuing them.

"T-t-t-that /thing/!" Maddie stutters out, her ears flopped back. But she doesn't see it now. Anywhere. Not with her random jerking of head. All she sees is a big crying pony and a couple others and… She hesitantly perks one ear, "I..is it gone?"

Her expression immediately darkens, the littlest Watchpony straining to stand up as high as her diminuative size can carry. "W..well if you see it, squish it. Squish it good, because it's /bad/, and I mean really /really/ /REALLY BAD/."

Rock'em and Sock'em creep out from behind their hiding place too, inching to the rest of the crowd. They finally take a seat next to the bawling Whistlestop, Rock'em patting the big lug on the back, when Sock'em suddenly squeaks and points at Mad!

Or more accurately, at the /adorable/ little orange pegasus doll that's somehow wound up perched on the little filly's back.

Whistlestop sniffles and whimpers. Between Kludge and Skyflower, he seems to soothe, as he stammers to the latter, "N…no… Pretty Pink Pony wouldn't lie— oh my goodness!! Pretty Pink Pony is tiny t-too!" He stares at her in amazement, before Sock'em draws his attention toward the pegasus doll. "WAGH! Really bad thing!! SQUISH IT!" And now he's trying clumsily to get to his oversized hooves. This bodes terribly for Maddie.

Skyflower says "What? No lamb, don't be silly it's just a-" she stops in mid-sentence when she sees the doll and, more importantly, the fact that it's moving under its own power. "What? Oh Celestia, what is that? Somepony stop it!""

Huh. That's… odd. Last time he saw anything like that was on the day he had lemonade from the foal's stand, although that thing was blue, not orange. He gives the "doll" a poke with his hoof, trying to see what it does.

"Wha-" Maddie begins to say, head already turning to look where Sock'em's pointing. But then there's, y'know, Whistlestop there trying to squish The Thing, and suddenly a very stomped on filly! "Waugh! No! Ahhh! Stoooooop stomping meeeeee!" comes the pitiful whining.

The little orange pegasus plush, however, remains untouched. Why? Because it hopped up with a quick 'flappaflappa' to perch on Kludge's head! Staring at him with black-as-coal eyes. Staaaaaaaare.

Whistle stomps wildly and blindly at Mad, before her pleas get through to him. He scrambles back again, abashed. "F-th-fff-sorry," he stammers, before he edges behind Skyflower and hides there. As if she can conceal him somehow.

Skyflower is herself more than a trifle creeped out by the thing and is trying to ignore the urge to hide behind Whistlestop, which would no doubt just get recursive. And that would just be silly. And we can't have that. No silliness here. One of her eyelids flutters madly as she tries to compose herself. "Could s-somepony tell me just what that is please, before I faint?"

Kludge is staring back at the odd doll, even though he has to go slightly cross-eyed to do so. "Not sure," he admits, carefully trying to poke it from two sides at once. As far as he can tell, the main reason everypony is freaking out is because it looks like a moving doll. Admittedly, that /is/ odd, but given the reactions it's getting you'd think that it eats ponies whole or something!

The orange 'doll' squishes when poked. And not in a typical 'doll' way. Like it were made out of some kind of jello. It deforms, then regains its shape, giving Kludge's nose a light tap of 'annoyance'. Then it hops off Kludge and lands nimbly on the ground, trotting towards Skyflower!

Whatever it is, there's more than one.

A green pegasus 'plushie' flappaflaps from some unknown hiding place, landing on the horribly stomped little filly. It shakes its head in a 'tsk tsk' fashion, then hops aside when Maddie tries to weakly bat at it. "Nhhhhh… Just go awaayyyyy… Horrible little /thing/!" she whines, unable to keep from bursting into tears. Poor frightened filly!

Then a blue one! A blue one that Kludge may very well remember seeing before, flits down right on top of Whistlestop's head, making a firm 'patpat' with its forehooves. Pat pat pat!

Whistlestop brays in alarm when the plushie lands on his head, and with a woosh! he sweeps Skyflower up in his arms to hug her like a teddy bear. "Aaaa!!! Make it go away! It'f touching me!!" His wings flutter and buzz as fast as he can make them go, but he's going nowhere, and his only solution is to break into a new bawling fit. Poor crybaby.

Skyflower flails suddenly when she's hoisted into the air but then tries to calm down, lest she only make things work. "Shh, shh Whistlestop, hush your crying, lamb. It's nothing to be-" twitch, twitch, eyelid flutter, "-afraid of, I'll just," twitchtwitch, "try to take care of it, there's a lamb." She manages to wriggle one hoof free from Whistlestop's powerful grip and flails it in the direction of the doll on his head.

Kludge takes a quick review of the situation: we have ponies in various stages of nervous breakdown, and three, count 'em, THREE bizzare mini jello-ponies that get annoyed when you touch them. What's a foalized pony to do?

Give comforting hugs works for a start. Kludge gives Maddie a big hug and gently rocks her, murmuring "Shhh, it's okay, you have friends here."

Through all this, Rock'em and Sock'em have gone into hiding again! The cowards. Even now they just peer around the corner of their hiding cart, one head over the other, looking at the trio of odd dolls and the myriad of reactions they're getting out of the foal group.

The blue doll Skyflower's flailing at does at least hop off of Whistlestop's head! But only so it can land on Skyflower's hoof and cling so long as she's shaking it around. The 'doll' is warm. And not very doll-like to the touch. It also has a grip like one wouldn't believe, and seems to be enjoying the brief ride it's getting on the flailing hoof!

Meanwhile, the orange doll, seeing as Skyflower is already…preoccupied between a big pony and their sibling, alters course to join the green one at the edge of Maddie's flailing range. When Kludge comes over to comfort the poor filly, both of the 'dolls' look on, curiously. They mirror Kludge's position, the green one rocking the orange one~ Then they both fall over, shuddering as if laughing.

And THEN they scamper off, out of sight! Leaving Maddie to curl up against Kludge. "T..those things are /creeeepy/…" she whines, big, wide, wet foal eyes watching where the two 'dolls' disappeared off to.

"I— I'm not a lamb!" Whistlestop wails. "I'm a PONY!" Still, he's not showing any signs of letting go of Skyflower, dolls or not. "BAD DOLLS! GO AWAY!"

Skyflower winces, "Of course you are, dear. You're a pony. A big, strong, brave pony, isn't that right?" She's flopping limply in his arms at the moment, trying not to startle him or otherwise make him more likely to start accidentally breaking things again. He looks to Maddie and Kludge pleadingly for assistance, mouthing 'help me calm him down.'

Sometimes the simplest solutions work best. Giving Maddie an encouraging smile, Kludge then goes over and gives Whistlestop a big hug. "There, there… they's going away. I think they don't like it when ponies aren't afraid of them, so if you're brave they should leave you alone.

So much comforting going on! The little blue 'doll' drops off of Skyflower's hoof when she doesn't give the same reaction the other ponies do. Apparently these things don't like to be ignored. Kludge is possibly on to something… When the blue one flappaflaps its merry way out of the area, even Maddie starts to breathe a sigh of relief.

And then comes a commotion from behind Rock'em and Sock'em's hiding place. Sounds of a mighty battle! Crash! Thump! "Waugh!" "Nooo!" "Hey!" "Ack!" "Leggo!"


And then both of the ponygoons start walking out from behind their cart. Awkwardly and looking all sorts of shocked, if not spooked out of their little minds, given that there's /strings/ attached to their hooves doing the walking for them. Strings, that seem to be hovering up to a little orange doll above Rock'em, and a green doll above Sock'em, playing the pair of goons like marionettes. It seems the dolls want to put on a show for the kiddies! "Boss!" "Help us!"

Maddie blinks at this, quivers in her hooves, and faints sideways.

Whistlestop sniffles, and nods slowly to both Sky and Kludge. He slowly lowers her to the ground, cautious and wet-eyed. "Yeah…okay. I will be brave. I promiff. Promise."

This of course is tested when Rock'em and Sock'em emerge, and he gapes, a mighty tremble going through his frame. Finally he stamps the ground. "GO 'WAY!"

Skyflower nuzzles Whistlestop fondly and steps back to let him do his thing. "Does anypony know where these things came from? Anypony? They're just so… strange," she says with vague distaste.

Kludge has had enough! It was bad enough that these blob-ponies were being bullies to some of his friends, but treating Rock'em and Sock'em like marionettes? That's taking things too far! Grabbing a nearby piece of debris, he gives an inarticulate battle-cry and swings with every ounce of fury he can manage, trying to break the strings with a two-by-four!

"What are you-" "H..hey dont' swing that!" the goons protest, despite their current puppetmasters making them put up hooves like they're gonna hoof-fight or something. Kludge's wild swinging does help though! In that it tangles all the gooey strings up around the wood, which then makes Rock'em and Sock'em collide with each other, as well as with the two 'dolls' in a great heap of pony, string, and Thing.

The dolls regroup, oozing out of the mess and away from the goons, reforming into their other shapes. They seem… Agitated? Offended? It's difficult to place an emotion on the look they're giving, but it's not pleased, yet it's not angry either. They don't understand. Whatever is going through their heads, it appears to include looking for fun (and tormentable ponies) elsewhere, the orange and green dolls flitting away!

Skyflower stomps her hoof. "You! You… doll-things! Go away! Honestly, nopony's scared of you, you're just annoying! Go on, shoo! Shoo!" Her horn sparks fitfully into golden light but doesn't do anything, lacking as she does the fine horn-control of a grown-up right now.

"Don't do that!!" Whistlestop hollers at the toys. "It's not nice! Stop that! STOP!" But for all his stamping and hollering, he's not actually running to help. "Please!"

Kludge glares at the retreating blobs, then spits out the lumber he had been wielding. Offering a hoof to the henchgoons, he asks "You two alright?"

Gone, all gone! The blobdolls have departed, leaving a duo of dazed dudes and one passed-out Mad Filly. Rock'em and Sock'em stumble back to their hooves with Kludge's help, shaking their heads. "Guh… That's why we were runnin' from'em in the first place." Rock'em says, with Sock'em shivering.

Whistlestop finally seems to settle as they go away, ears flicked back. "Scary…" he mumbles, before he creeps forward to try and heft Mad up in his teeth. He is helping!

Skyflower helps Mad-Filly up. "Now why in Celestia's name were they chasing after you in the first place, darling?"

Kludge contemplates this latest piece of information. So these blobs can be puppeteers, huh? That explains the fright. He puts a comforting arm around Maddie and gently pokes her. "You can wake up now; they've left."

One of Maddie's eyes peek open when she's helped too, stretching and sitting up. "Whu..?" Eyes snap wide open, "Ah! Are they gone? Did you squash them?" They're obviously not still here, because there are ponies here! Right?

The two goons shudder again. "We dunno why they were after us. They just…were. This town's gone completely nutty!"

"No… we did not squash them," Whistlestop replies apologetically, scuffing a hoof. "Are you okay, miff pony?"

Skyflower says "They ran off, dear. And I don't think 'nutty' is quite the word you're looking for, although things are certainly quite strange lately. Not that it isn't fun in some ways," she adds, twirling around."

An idea crosses Kludge's mind. "Do you know if they can only control one pony at a time? Because in that case, travelling in groups of four might be a good idea." If they can't target all of the ponies in a group, then it might be possible to chase off the blobs!

Ruby-Blossom suddenly pops out from between Sky's front legs - how and when did she get there!? "Hi everypony - except Kludge who's a big meany and yelled at Ruby." a semi-mock pout directed at the colt. "What's going on? What's up? Did I miss something? Who wants pie? I totally want pie, can we go get some pie? I'd really like that." she looks up at Skyflower from below "HI! Oh I already said that. I'm not interrupting, am I? If I was that would be totally rude, but you know what that's okay cause I'm awesome!

Maddie blushes. Was she just saved? Ugh. Talk about a bad taste in one's mouth. Even foal-her doesn't like the idea of being rescued when she should have been darn well able to save herself.

Y'know, through the crying, flailing, and fainting. …

Though she pouts about it, she does at least bob her head at the inquiries, scuffing a hoof in the dirt. "I'm fine… I'm gonna spend all day jumping at shadows though. They're like spiders…"

Speaking of things popping out of nowhere, suddenly there's a Ruby! Who's sudden appearance makes Maddie and her goons squeak and bolt off in different directions! "AHHHHHBLOOOOOB!"

Ruby-Blossom yells angrily "I am not fat!"

"WAGH!!!" The foal-sized Whistlestop — that is, the huge-hooved, round-bodied, nearly-the-size-of-a-normal-adult-pony Whistlestop — rears backwards as Ruby pops out of nowehere. And just what Ruby surely didn't expect: he squinches his eyes shut and tries to stomp on her. "KILL IT KILL THE THINGS AAAA!"

Skyflower squeals loudly and faints. Apparently she's either had enough surprises for one day or else had gone to the trouble of dressing the part of a pretty little princess and just thought it wasn't complete until she'd shrieked and swooned. Either seems likely.

With a yelp, Kludge tries to grab ahold of Whistlestop's legs. "No, Whistlestop! That's a pony! That's Ruby! You remember Ruby from the time we went for ice cream, remember?"

Ruby-Blossom agility is greatly hindered by the larger mare swooning atop of her - quickly stumbling forward to try and avoid Skyflowers collapasse; which only manages to send her scrambling forward into the flailing hooves of Whistlestop. A loud echoing *thump* ringing through the area - or maybe that's just Ruby's ears! Her ability to avoid head trauma seems greatly diminished nowadays as Whistlestop's hoof manages to graze her head and knock her flat on her flank. A loud "Oooowwww!!!" whine escaping the small mare as she holds her forhead - good thing Kludge was there to avoid making ruby cakes.

Flail flail flail!! "I'm a good pony! A GOOD PONY!" Whistlestop wails, as he tries to be the hero and fails — though not so badly as he could have, thanks to Kludge. He finally opens his eyes as he finds himself caught, and he gasps in dismay. "I am sorry! I am sorry! I thought you were a toy! What— what did you do to Pretty Pink Pony? Oh no!"

Kludge gives Whistlestop a comforting hug - hey, it has a record of helping! "Hey, it's okay - she's just had more than her share of surprises today. Give her some time, and she should wake up on her own."

Ruby-Blossom cusses in a very unfoal like manner while holding her forhead - thankfully it was just a graze; a direct hit would of likely been unsettling; still that doesn't lessen the string of a very large hoof smacking her tender little forehead. Still craddling her head with one hoof she shakely gets to her feet. "Can't I go one day without head trauma?

Whistlestop leans into the hug and droops. "I'm fforry," he mumbles unhappily at Ruby. "I am always a big klutz. I am fforry…" His ears droop, his big brown eyes looking down. "I will give space, okay."

Skyflower eventually comes to, sitting up with a hoof to her head. "Why, where am I? What happened?" Yeah, somepony is milking it.

With Whistlestop calmed down, it's time for Kludge to help the next pony… which happens to be Ruby. Giving her a hug, he remarks "At least you weren't being controlled like a puppet."

Ruby-Blossom scoffs grumply "What are you talking about? Of course I'm not a puppet, you dolt." Despite calling Kludge a name there's no real anger aimed his direction, almost affectionate really. "Why is every pony freaking out?

Whistlestop droops further. "I am going to go," the oversized lump declares, as he carefully backs up. "I do not want to wreck more things. Or hurt more ponies. I will go home and hide. I hope you are okay, Miss Blue Pony, and Pretty Pink Pony."

Skyflower's lip begins to quiver. She can't help it: he's just so saaaaad! She gets back up on her hooves, "Wait, Whistlestop! Would you like some company? There's no need for you to hide all by yourself, is there?" She smiles, batting her eyelashes at him.

"You didn't see what happened to Rock'em and Sock'em, did you? Well… remember that little blue doll that was found after that day you helped the foals' lemonade stand by singing? Turns out it has a green buddy and an orange buddy, all three of them can move, and they can manipulate ponies like marionettes." Kludge is still hugging Ruby, so in the (unlikely) chance she decides to panic, he can be pre-emptively calm.

Ruby-Blossom waves a hoof towards Whistlestop "Hey you, lunkhead. Get back here." no malice to her words even as her otherhoof remains planted against her own head. "I'd ask if you're kidding, but considering the current situation - I'm inclined to mostly believe it.

Whistlestop brightens just a little. "I would like some company! But…I still should maybe go…" He scuffs a hoof, hesitating with Ruby's order to get back there.

"How about if we travel together?" Kludge offers. "If we outnumber those blobs and present a fierce front to them, then they might leave us alone." Looking at Ruby, Skyflower, Whistlestop, and Maddie and her goons, he gives a confident smile. "Sound like an idea?"

Ruby-Blossom purses her lips before muttering softly "Alright. I just doubt it's really that big of a deal." still all pouty.