Secret Concern, Secret Information
IC date: Autumn 24, 1007 A.N.
OOC date: October 13, 2012
PCs: Kludge, Ruby-Blossom, Magpie, Windrose
NPCs: None
GM: None

Things have calmed down some in the base after yesterday's expedition. Solar-Wind is on bed rest, while Sodium-Fizz and Kludge have been patched up and have been cleared for light work. In Kludge's case, this involves resuming work on a concept for an armored sled. With Shadowbolts and worse patrolling the area, being able to protect resource expeditions becomes a bit more important. A portable building would likely work, but /making/ it portable is proving to be the trick.

Suddenly Ruby - her presence made known by a stinging pain in Kludge's side as Ruby lightl socks' a bruise she knows is there! The moment Kludge responds she speaks "It's great that you're okay. Because I'm going to freaking kill you." Clearly she's upset - after all Kludge could of been killed. "Could you have been any dumber? Did you stop think about what you were doing!?

Kludge winces a little, but isn't that surprised. "Didn't think I needed a guide, since I knew where the firewood was located. Next time I go topside, I'll take along two ponies… or maybe just one, if that one is, say, Winny." An urge to give Ruby a comforting hug is blocked by a self-preservation instinct that warns that any hoof that touches Ruby right now will likely be removed at the torso.

Ruby-Blossom death-glare 3000 now in Ruby tones! She glares nay, she scowls at Kludge - not saying a word for what seems like forever - far more intimidating than any threat of physical harm. Eventually she yells. "You idiot! Did you even stop to think about /me/?" turning to suddenly stomp off!

Suddenly, hug. "Of course. Keep the base warm, so you'll be comfortable. When caught, imply that I'm alone, so they don't go looking for you. While captured, look forward to seeing you again." Sometimes Kludge has to contemplate things for a while, but he usually figures things out eventually.

Ruby-Blossom tugtugtug - Ruby doesn't seem intent to stay held but doesn't fight /that/ hard. "You're an idiot! A real idiot." addorable scowling ensues - she doesn't have to look at Kludge since he's behind. "You didn't even stop to think about how I'd feel if something happened to you." suddenly slipping out of Kludge's arms and turning about to glare at him - she's clearly angry because she cares - but angry none the less.

Kludge does look abashed. "I know that no amount of apologizing will truly work… but I /am/ sorry I made you worry." He gives Ruby a light nuzzle. "I'm so used to you being skillful, self-sufficient, and cheerful that I sometimes forget that your heart can still be hurt if others aren't careful."

Ruby-Blossom hmphs as she crosses her fore legs in front of her. "I'm not hurt, don't be stupid. I just need to be sure you're around to finish construction when we get back. That's all, really." Her tone tells another tale.

Kludge notes the change of topic for what it actually is, but plays along. "Speaking of… was that new annex in the designs for those twin friends of yours?" While Kludge might not do construction from pure memory, he can recall the basic information from his designs.

Ruby-Blossom waves a hoof dismissively "That was for you. Just don't get the wrong idea - you'll have to come through the front door like any other visitor." she parks her flank on a bench. "I'm sick of leaves." she grouses addorably.

Magpie comes trotting up the corridor with a smirk on her muzzle. "Oh, whine, whine," she says to Ruby, as if she hadn't said virtually the same thing to Jelly not two hours ago.

Kludge raises his eyebrows at the revelation of the annex's purpose, although it might be hard to tell if it meant "You're giving me a permanent home? Nice" or the more sedate "Somehow I'm not surprised." Possibly both.

Upon Magpie's arrival, he waves at the littlest thief. "I think it's traditional to grumble about the food when you're someplace you'd rather not be," he points out.

Ruby-Blossom glances to Magpie with a raised hoof - clearly she has a witty retort loaded in the chamber; but she thinks better of it and lowers hoof. "I'm not whining." she proceeds to reply in Maggies own voice - spot on! "This is whining~ Stop being so nice to me, Ruby~" her teasing grin fading into an affectionate smile.

Magpie blinks. "Ohhh, I'm Ruuuuby! I'm gonna make weird comments at you allllll the tiiiiime and be all creepy at you!"

Windrose meanders in from one of the assorted hallways, you know these bases have all sorts of that sort of thing, drifting just slightly off the floor instead of walking because she's got her notepad in her forehooves that she's writing on as she goes. At least after that trip outside the other night she had something to work on again.

Ruby-Blossom suddenly pounces towards Magpie, and again in Maggie's voice she whine-replies. "I'd be alot more convincing if I learned how to do voices~ But I'm too busy running away from somepony willing to teach me.~ Waaaah~" hoping to get hooves on Magpie in a friendly manner.

Magpie giggles a little and bats at Ruby. "Oh, quiddit."

Windrose looks up from her scribbling. ".. I swear, pouncing should be Ruby's special talent, not whatever it is it's supposedly is."

Kludge smiles at the banter between Ruby and Magpie. The two of them seem to be getting along better these days. He also notices Windrose, and waves at the approaching pegasus.

Ruby-Blossom catches Magpie and pulls her into a firm-unescapable hug - she continues to speak in Magpie's voice "Eep, help Ruby's being weird again. I'll like I hate her hug and try to escape, but that's only because I secretly like it." small squeeze before releasing the mare and returning to her own voice. "I'm strange as they come." she proudly proclaims.

The turquoise mare peeks over her shoulder at Windrose. "Don't be jealous, you'll get yours after bed." they do share a bunk for warmth - but insinuating other things can be fun!

Magpie blinks and starts blushing. "Ah, uh, i-if you want a hug now you can have one," she tells Windrose.

Windrose feigns a shocked expression. "Whatever are you implying Ruby?!" Then smirks as she flits over to hold up her notepad for the other mare to see. "Look at this, I started making a map from… the other night." Tail briefly twitchs when she shudders, remembering the -other- thing they saw that night. But she already gave Ruby an earful -and- a big hug when she finally crawled into bed later that night.

Ruby-Blossom plants her plot back on the bench, and glances towards Kludge. "So - I understand you went out to get firewood. What was Solar-Wind doing out there then? For his sake he better not have been looking for me."

Magpie gives Ruby a reproachful look. "We were all really worried about you," she says.

Windrose rolls her eyes. "I told that big lug to rest first." Though she didn't necessarily try to -stop- him farther than that, either. Reachs over to give Ruby a light whap on the shoulder with her hoof. "You -did- give both of us quite a scare you know!"

Ruby-Blossom puts up her front hoofs defensively. "I'm sorry." she flat out apologies - rather uncharacteristic. "I just didn't see another choice. There was no way we could out Que…that thing we ran into." a noteable shiver. "I didn't mean to scare you guys." she puffs up her cheeks "I.." she glances to Kludge as if looking for some approval for what she's considering sharing.

Kludge shrugs. "I will admit to going out to get firewood solo. Key word there is *solo*. Solar-Wind wasn't with me at that point, and I didn't see him until he and Sodium-Fizz were hauled in." He gives Ruby a comforting hug. "We're safe now, and we'll learn from our mistakes."

Windrose gives Ruby a bit of a look, as if she can tell the mare didn't finish what she was going to say there, but with several ponies around isn't going to press at the matter. Probably not really important right now, anyways. Instead she huffs a bit, curled bands fluttering from the breath. Then "Speaking of learning, as anyone seen our hosts lately? Got a few things to ask them about the surrounding area. Or what's left of it."

Kludge is noticing that Ruby is still on edge about something, and the things she said when she went on edge. "What did you run into, Ruby?" he asks quietly, gazing into her eyes with pure concern.

Ruby-Blossom glances back to Windrose and Magpie before softly coughing into one hoof. "You're right - it's not important. I can just take care of myself - that's what I'm really trying to say." she ahs softly and offers Kludge a sheepish grin. "Would you believe Queen Pegasus, and she wanted to bathe in our blood?" seeming more than a little creeped out to say the least.

".. I guess she's even more nuts here then" Followed by a pause, and then Windrose looks confuse. ".. Who?"

Kludge blinks for a moment. "Oddly enough, I could see that happening. After all, parallel vicious world, parallel vicious ponies." Glancing over at Windrose, Kludge explains. "In our world, Queen Pegasus is a pirate leader that Ruby's run into before. Very nasty, very petty. I can easily see a Darkness-version of her being even more vicious."

A blood-chilling thought crosses Kludge's mind. "You… don't suppose that's where Saltlick came from, do you?"

Ruby-Blossom nods to Kludge "It's possible - anything seems possible right now." she throws her hooves into the air "Oh well. Just one more flank I need to kick."

Windrose gives Ruby another light bop with her hoof. "Stop acting like you have to do everything by yourself."

"Yeah, what do you think the rest of us are for?" chuckles Kludge.

Ruby-Blossom rubs the top of her head with a little pout. "I'd just you guys stay safe, that's all." she protests. "I just think I'm a little better qualified at sneaking about, and the like." What would a salon stylist know about sneaking anyways?

Windrose rolls her eyes the other way. "That doesn't mean we can't help." To which she rips off the map she'd sketched out, and hands it to Ruby. "Here, at least next time it won't take you so long to get back and make us worry," she half-teases.

Ruby-Blossom takes the little map and closely examines it. "I think you were just upset you didn't have somepony to keep you warm." she teases in return before suddenly hugging Windrose. "Silly Pegasus."

Oh, what the heck. "Group hug!" calls Kludge, sweeping up Magpie as he hugs Ruby and Windrose.

Ack! Magpie squirms and wiggles out of the crushing grip. She giggles a little.

"No," Windrose replies flatly. Then grins as she's hugged. "I was upset I didn't have somepony needing to be kept warm."

Ruby-Blossom is with Magpie when she acks softly at the sudden hug from Kludge. "Seems Kludge can't resist getting the middle of this." she laughs while gently patting Maggie atop of the head. "I was plenty cold by the time I got back though." she grins - in rather high spirits at the moment it would seem. "It's a shame Solar is so beat up. Cause i want to kill him."

Magpie smirks a bit. "You'll have to settle for a friendly hug instead."

"You're in a good mood. I'd say the hugs did you some good," chuckles Kludge, still hugging Ruby. Sometimes you just have to keep things in perspective and take the good moments as they come.

"Try killing him with kindness instead then," Windrose jokes.

Ruby-Blossom ponders Windrose's reply - indeed, what if she was super kind and caring towards Solar-Wind.. She openly ponders this for a moment before chuckling. "Hey, Maggie?" she asks out of the blue - curious if the foal is interested in talking.

Magpie says "Um. Yeah?" She is just kinda watching the hugfest with an expression of bemusement.

Ruby-Blossom wells "I was curious what kind of spells you know, being a unicorn and all?" she grins at the filly while wiggling out of Kludge's grip to settle back on the bench.

Magpie's cheeks flush. "Wh—well I mean… I'm really good at, uh… picking things up and…s tuff like that…"

Ruby-Blossom hmms curiously - tapping a hoof against her cheek. "Can you do the light spell? Or anything else like that?" sounding genuinely curiously as she looks at the filly.

Kludge settles back down with his design sketches, but he's obviosuly still listening to the conversation more than he's working on ideas.

Magpie um. "N-not really." She coughs. "If I light up my horn I can kinda see… does that count?"

"Plenty of dark to light up in this world," Windrose replies, wandering over to see what Kludge has been coming up with. "How's it going on that pegasus excersize room?" Though it may just be more to not be obviously listening than anything else.

Ruby-Blossom giggles softly behind one hoof. "I see." she suddenly lips off the bench and scootches right up to Magpie - putting her hoofs to either side of her face while leaning down - so only Maggie can see her face. Oh so softly she whispers "Boo." a small swirl of magic revealing her own for the briefest moment before an identical swil conceals the horn again. "We should see if somepony around here can help you learn some basic magic." Ruby honestly could use a course or two herself - she honetsly doesn't know much more than Magpie.

Kludge shrugs. "So far the only ideas I've had that might be practical are oversized hamster wheels and push-bars," he admits to Windrose. "Then there's the complication of balancing armor, capacity, and ponies required to power this thing."

Magpie blinks and peers at Ruby. "Why?" she asks in confusion, and not referring to the comment about getting training…

Ruby-Blossom blinks right back at Maggie while sitting up right and looking down at the foal. "I just have a thing - unicorns tend to be all haughty and snooty, and I don't like that." she admits - keeping the details simple for the moment. "Clearly you're not, and Kludge isn't, but you know." she quickly covers her mouth then sputters "I mean, you guys aren't haughty and stuff - regardless of unicorn status.

Magpie looks at Ruby. Looks at Kludge. Looks at Kludge's head. Looks back at Ruby. "What."

Windrose just stares at all three of them. Rubs the side of her head with a forehoof. "Wha? You guys aren't making any sense." Pause. "Even for Ruby."

Ruby-Blossom never makes any sense - hence why she's a pain in Maggie's flank. She laughs warmly and reaches out to rub Maggie's head with a hoof. "I'm just being weird again. I'll try to knock it off."

Ruby-Blossom hops to her hooves. "I think I'm acting extra weird due to exhaustion. I'll head to bed, see you later Windrose."

Kludge notices this latest bit between Ruby and Magpie, and being looked at - or near, to be more precise - certainly gets his attention. He walks over with an inquisitive expression. "Yes?" he quietly asks Magpie in a "I have no idea what's going on; may I buy a clue?" tone of voice.

Magpie tilts her head and peers up at Kludge, as if tryign to see through the illusion in the middle of his forehead. "Are you a secret unicorn?" she asks in an undertone.

Ruby-Blossom leans over to whisper to Magpie. "Flip up his hat." She throws Kludge a mischevious grin as he couldn't have heard what Ruby told Maggie - and at this point the begins to trot away.

Windrose just looks as confused as you would expect somepony who knows they've missed something but not what they've missed to look.

Kludge looks at Magpie, then glances at Ruby, then looks back at Magpie. Given the few things he heard earlier, plus what Magpie asked him… yeah, she's in the loop now. "That's the kind of thing one tries to keep under their hat," remarks Kludge, tilting his own hat far enough up so that Magpie - and only Magpie - can see his horn. With a wink, he lets his hat fall back into place and gives Magpie a smile.

Magpie's expression gets a little more sour. "WHY?" she demands, stomping a back hoof. What, are they gonna start telling HER to hide HER horn TOO?!

Windrose throws her hooves up in the air. "There's more important things to worry about than your headgear, Kludge. We're still stuck in the middle of a gritty alternate world, remember." The whole thing has gone entirely over her head. Or under her nose, in this case. With a huff into her bangs she goes back to her notepad. "I swear, the ponies around here are -crazy-…"

Kludge gives Windrose an apologetic shrug, then turns back to Magpie. Keeping his voice low so it doesn't carry past Magpie, he starts explaining. "Back in my foalhood - the first one, not that weird Poison Joke outbreak - I cracked my horn slightly and it never healed right. My telekinesis was erratic at best, and all I could reliably do was keep it turned off. And when you're no good as a unicorn, the next best thing is to pass yourself off as an earth pony. Ruby's story is hers to tell, but her comment about most unicorns being snooty is close to the center of it."

He gives Magpie an apologetic shrug. "I'll tell you what I told Dream-Daze: don't let the actions of others dictate the path you choose, especially when the things they've been through aren't the same as the things you've been though."

Magpie ducks her head. She gives Kludge a hug — apology for dragging that story out of him, sympathy for his loss, thanks for the advice… maybe some of each.

Kludge hugs back. "At least there was one good thing that came from the Foalpocalypse: I was de-aged to not too long after my initial horn fracture. Thanks to Ruby's help, I was able to splint it before it could regain the worst of the damage, and the healing stayed after we were cured of the Joke. It's still not as good as it would be for someone my age, but it's much more reliable than it was. Still, I could probably benefit from some lessons, too."

Magpie noses Kludge. "What? Wait… so you can do magic now?" She asks, a little too loudly for a whispered secret.

Kludge glances around and inflects his voice to carry a bit more than usual. "Well, there are those who think my construction is magically strong, but it's just pure carpentry talent." Dropping his voice back down to sneaky conversational levels, he continues. "More accurate to say that I can actually exert some control over my magic. When I want to lift a pebble, my magic will only affect that pebble, and not a random smattering of several pebbles in the area. Actually *lifting* the pebble might still be hit or miss, but my magic at least has better targeting than before. Also doesn't turn on randomly anymore, either."

Magpie ahs… She gives a little nod and bumps Kludge's knees. "I hope you get better now," she says softly. The whole idea of hiding her horn is weird to her … that's who she is…