log:Sniffabout
IC date: Summer ??
OOC date: September 10, 2014
Location: Harbor-wide
PCs: Hoarfrost Magpie Maple-Breeze Rising-Chaos Shadowbuck Winter-Solstice
NPCs: Lord Phantom, Dusty the Moth, Snapdragon and Dragonheart (the dragon twins)
GM: Applejack

A few days ago it was revealed that SOMEpony had done something so wrong, so vile, so horribly despicable, that it put much of the Harbor residents on edge! All the cookies, crumpets, cupcakes, muffins, and baked desserts of any sugary value, were zapped away one Saturday morning, replaced by cardboard cutouts! What's worse, any new batch of cookie bliss baked up since then have all come out the same! Looking, smelling, and tasting an awful lot like burnt cardboard! A town meeting was called…and two plans were put into action.

Tonight the first plan is about to unfold! Phantom, the leader of the bat-winged ponies of Bric-A-Brac caves, has offered to lead a search party through the streets of the Harbor to bring the vile confection crook to justice, using little more than the sense of smell they were all gifted with! Alas, before the chase could even begin that particular Saturday, Phantom was called back to deal with a problem. Which is why tonight, right now, in the Town Square, Phantom has returned! Yes indeed, he's sent out the notice that tonight, this night, is the night when those who have gone without their sugary sweet baked goods have waited far too long for the justice they were promised! Tonight there shall be a search of every nook, cranny, mook, and granny in the Harbor to find out where it all went wrong!

He stands now in front of the Town Hall, as big and dramatic as ever in a set of black leather armor, complete with a multitude of twisted (and probably not actually pointy, yay stage props!) spikes going this way and that. A flowing cape of red billows out behind him, kept up by the occasional wingbeat from him or his colt standing nearby. Cape duty is very important to striking a pose, after all. Here, he waits, for the Posse of Justice to show up, to begin an epic quest to follow ones nose to greatness!

Above the Town Hall, Shadowbuck stands. On the tip of one hoof, motionless except for an occasional flicker of one ear or the other. Or at least, she stood. Until a stray gust of cape-inflating wind suddenly pushed her half a hoof to the side, and she found herself tumbling towards the ground. Eyes snapped awake and wings flaired, she comes to a landing which looks almost as if it was intended the way it came out… unless somepony was watching her "takeoff."

Hoarfrost is just a filly. Since she came to the Harbor but a year ago she has learned of the magic of confectionary and it has opened her taste buds beyond that of the simple Blue Leaf. Now though she is sugar less once again! What will she get as a reward for eating all of her super now? The white on white Unicron sits near the fountain waiting for this crack team of bat pony investigators to help any way she can!

And here comes the crack now. Magpie appears, struggling on her hind hooves as she tries to control two makeshift leashes at once. At the ends of those leashes are her Secret Weapon: The Dragon Twins! They're both jumping and romping in opposite directions, occasionally shouting "Cookie!" in excitement. Becasue they're going to get COOKIES!

Maple-Breeze is certainly one pony who has been struck terribly by this very specific calamity! Imagine starting the day, going through the usual routine of whipping butter and batter only to have it turn into cardboard. CARDBOARD! She nearly wept when a customer complained that her flapjacks were paper thin and flavorless. Until she saw they were *literally* that way. The poor breakfast merchant sits in the plaza, with an woefully empty cart. Though the arrival of the bakeryhunters has her perked up and cheering them on. More heroic than Canterlot knights in this hour of need!

Following Magpie and her leashed semi-siblings is Winter Solstice. The big mare's demeanor is atypically muted, her pace slow, deliberate; she keeps her head low, her attention on Magpie and the twins, following them. She heard there were cookies. She wants to be in on that when they find them.

Feverfew is… somewhere else! Likely with the baking-and-magics group. But her oversized moth, Dusty, is here, fluttering about, what with being sent to stick with the ponies. Dusty is clever enough to understand the 'go there' part. Little details like 'help' or 'cookies' or 'do not nibble on ponies' are more doubtful.

Hoarfrost's eyes get a little wide. "M-magpie why did you bring the twins?" images of trying to get that gum out of her mane flash before her eyes. "Surely things haven't gotten that bad." walking up to her spotted friend though, not so close she is in leash distance of the two others. Smiling up at Winter she gives a polite curtsy "Hello Miss Solstice. Are you supervising the twins?" perhaps a biiiit too much hope in her voice.

Shadowbuck quietly assesses the crowd. Other than His Dramatic Personaeness, and His Heir, she categorizes them into three categories. Cannon-fodder, Insect, and What are those two things on leashes supposed to be?

"Your Awesomeness," she says with a bow and flare of her wings. "Is this team really… the best idea?"

Well, a few ponies have gathered. Phantom, as imposing as he can be in faux-spiked armor and cape and stern-gaze and everything, still gives a pleased nod of his head to each arrival, accidental or not. Shadowbuck gets a nod, Hoarfrost too, but when Magpie shows up with a pair of true sugar-sniffers, that brings a bat-fang'd grin to the bat-winged leader! Another nod at Winter and Maple, and a…look, at least, at the moth, his ears twist to catch Shadowbuck's questioning, earning his fellow bat-pony a patient grin. "If these are the ones with enough adventure burning in their hearts to literally sniff out a crook, then they are /perfect/ for the job. It's not about who's most qualified. It's about who's willing to do what needs to be done!"

With that said, the bat-winged leader lifts one foreleg, extending a single great hoof out to the gathered ponies. And moths. "Welcome!" he bellows, his mighty wings giving an extra gust of wind to sweep his cape out. "It pleases me greatly to see such a fine group of justice-seekers, ready and raring to put a stop to this donut drought! I hope you brought your appetites for cookies and justice alike! This will be a day you all remember as the day you saved Equestria from forever having the worst breakfasts in history!"

Pause for effect. Or applause. Or cheering…

Magpie gives Hoarfrost a harried scowl. "Do YOU wanna tell them there's no you-know-whats?" she demands. She forces herself to smile a bit. "A-anyway, they're like bloodhounds for cookies. Cookiehounds."

The Twins suddenly settle down as their attention is drawn to a THING! "Bug! Bug!" Snapdragon shouts, pointing at Dusty.

"Moff," Dragonheart corrects in a tone of smug superiority.

Snapdragon blinks at his sister, then at Dusty. "MOFF! MOFF!" he shouts, hopping up and down and pointing, wings a-flutter.

Magpie peers at Phantom. Especially the fangs and spiky armor. "Are we sure /sure/ he's not evil?" she asides to Winter.

Winter-Solstice stirs, then looks up as Hoarfrost addresses her. "Uh? Oh! Heya, Frosty. Me? Supervising?" She turns to blink at Magpie and her charges. "… with actual authority? Over young, impressionable, squishy foals?" A smile slowly crosses Winter's face, then it becomes a grin. "Wouldn't that be something! They could be my squires! Nah. Those ones aren't mine, though. I guess I'm kinda making sure they don't get hurt too bad, but mostly I'm in it for the cookies. What about you?" She blinks back at Hoarfrost. "Cookies or heroism- WHAT? EVIL!?"

Whirling about, Winter looks for this supposed EVIL, quickly catching Magpie's intent and looking at Phantom. She glowers in his direction for a few moments before relaxing. "Silly Magpie! He's a batpony. They -all- look evil. But they're actually pretty cool fellas. Y'know, the whole rogue with a heart of gold thing? Like you, but with more gothic attire."

Shadowbuck sagenods. There is a certain wisdom in his words, and reassurance fills her heart. "By your command," she answers, with another bow, before stepping back to hear his speech to the rest of the group, giving a few hoofstomps after he pauses. Her eyes dart to Magpie and Winter, with a slight scowl on her face, as if she knows what they're talking about.

The Grand Moff… er, Big Moth takes the excited cries as a sign of approval and alights on the one pony he saw before. Magpie. Magpie's horn, in particular.

Maple-Breeze might mull the rhetorical question if a batpony truly should be in the best interests of breakfast. (Though perhaps for them every day is breakfast for dinner?) Still the entrepreneur pegasus is already fired up, she is afterall out of a job if they don't find these bandits. She flaps in place, hoofing at the air, "Yeah! Lets get at them!" Too busy being a cheerleader to avoid straying a little too close to the dragons. Maple typically already smells like batter and chips already half the time from her enthusiastic way of griddling. A sugar dusted tail whaps incidentally over a snout.

Magpie says "Goffic what now?"

If it is possible Hoarfrost looks even more worried. They would tear the house apart. "No! er- No, not really." taking a deep breath she gives a smile to each of the twins leaning down to greet the pair. "Hello Dragonheart, Snapdragon." glancing back up at Winter she gives a smile. "Well I would really like to have banana pancakes again-" cut of by the 'evil' glancing about and taking note of the Batpony "I dunno, I think it looks a little cool. You know Magpie, like what proper witches wear, like black lace, and black-um well everything."

Magpie goes "Ack! Pfff!" as Dusty lands on her horn. She shakes her head and tries to blow it away with little puffs of breath. "Shoo! Shoo!"

Winter-Solstice, at this point, has forgotten the purpose of the mission entirely. She smiles cheerfully and points off towards Maple Breeze. "Pancakes? You want pancakes? Talk to her! She's got pancakes. Or, wait, maybe they got cursed, too-" The big mare considers, then turns and hollers at Maple Breeze. "HEY! DO PANCAKES COUNT AS REAL CAKES FOR THE PURPOSES OF CAKE CURSES? LIKE TRANSMUTE CAKE TO PAPER AND STUFF?!"

Okay, so no applause. The evil comment isn't too bad though! He has a reputation to uphold, after all! Though it's not necessarily being /evil/, he can surely interpret that as 'imposing'. Or even 'dangerous'. Yes… Dangerous is good.

"Ahem!" he (Phantom) clears his throat, after an appropriate moment spent letting his team grow restless. "Now I know this won't be an easy task. Cookies disappear before they're even out of the oven, scents are fleeting… But that's why this plan will work! Spread out! Poke your noses into barrels! Houses! Wherever you must! Those cookies are out there, somewhere…" His hoof extends again. "Now GO! Go and follow your noses!"

Phantom's speech is interspersed by cries of 'Moff! Moff!'

Dusty makes approving mothy noises at the adoring cries and his faithful steed, balancing atop the horn and actually leaning into Magpie's blowing so his fuzz is ruffled. From a distance, he looks like a tacky brown bow tied about her horn.

Shadowbuck gives a flap and heads into (well, over) the crowd. "You heard him, nuggets! Let's get moving! Leave no stone unturned, no oven unopened, no cookie… uncrumbled!"

Maple-Breeze pauses in her energetic carousing and air gesturing to raise a hoof to her chin. Is a Pancake a Cake? A riddle for the sphinxes. "Well one has to consider water to dough ratios and if you use yeast over baking powder.. and- " She blinks realizing she is sounding a bit too much purple-smart there, her pancakes are cardboard rhetorical be danged. So instead she raises her hooves up and yells back, "YES." Probably a bit uncomfortable for others considering her and Winter are only a few feet away from one another. But the emotions are running high in this high stakes thievery! She sets herself ready to follow the orders of the batpone. Though her sense of smell has her circling in place at the start.

Winter-Solstice furrows her brow and nods at Maple's shouted answer, her expression troubled. This… explains nothing! She frowns to Hoarfrost. "You may be outta luck, kiddo…" Sitting up, she listens to Phantom's bid that they proceed, and nods grimly, turning away from the others and starting to look around in a squinty kind of fashion that goes nowhere. Does she think the missing baked goods are just… hiding somewhere? After a few moments of this, though, she pauses, glances back at the others, and jumps! "Aah! AAH! I FOUND SOMETHING!" An irrepresible grin crosses her face. "I FOUND SOMETHING!"

Magpie ughs and looks down. "Okay, forget the moth. It's time for COOKIES. Find 'em! Sniff for cookies!"

"COOKIES!" the twins chorus, and it's off to the races, with Magpie being pulled two directions at once, and jolted back and forth between excited foals.

Conversly Hoarfrost is grining with interest at the cake science. Who knew there was so much intricacy in cake curses and confectionary! "I'm really good a searching through bins!" quickly adding realizing she must have some kind of skill to offer this rag tag group (no longer crack team). "I'll look there-um unless you need me to do something else Mr. Batpony Sir?" tail wagging eager to help!

Hoarfrost frowns "I figured as much. Don't worry Miss Breeze we will help bring back the Pancakes for everypony!"

Shadowbuck observes the noses… two foals pulling a unicorn in different directions, and a pegasus spinning, apparently chasing her own tail. The urge to facehoof is resisted, barely, as a scent hits her nose suddenly. There!

With a crash, she darts into somepony's house. A pair of indignant screams follow, after which Shadowbuck flies back out of the house, follows by thrown cooking utensils. "Nothing in that house," she reports, dodging debris.

Phantom grins to nopony in particular as his crack-team starts to their task, putting sniffers to the wind and the cobblestones to find any hint of the stolen sweets. "Yes… This should work out just fine." he mutters, apparently fully believing in the idea of just tracking the crook. He idly buffs one of his hooves on his spikey armor, using one of the spikes as the buffer in question. He looks up when Hoarfrost speaks up, flashing his best dashing grin. "Of course! Search everything! That tricky thief could have hidden crumbs anywhere! Leave no bin unransacked!" He even gives Hoarfrost a pat on her head. Good filly!

Then another shout catches his attention. "LO! A clue!" Immediately Phantom leaps into action, wings spread, gliding to where Winter specifically 'found something to land and squint. "What! What is it?"

Maple-Breeze eventually catches on that the delicious bakery good she keeps smelling is herself (She really ought to shower after spending time in the kitchen). She lands near Hoarfrost and gives the unicorn a big smile. Though it seems clues are ahoof! Well maybe not Shadowbuck's, but Winter seems on to something. She scoots with the others to see!

The taut leashes vibrate before Dusty tantalizingly. The moth spins to and fro atop Magpie's horn before making the decision. That. That leash looks tastier. He flaps over and nibbles on it, just as one of the Dread Dragon Twins pulls especially hard.

"Whoah!" Magpie's progress is suddenly a lot less back-and-forth, and even if she digs in her hooves, she's being dragged by the two straining foals. "I think they're on the scent!"

CRACK! goes the leash like a whip, and Dragonheart is off like shot!

Winter-Solstice takes a moment to duck an errant rolling pin flung after Shadowbuck, then pops back up, grinning at the evil-yet-probably-a-good-guy Phantom. "It's-" She pauses. "Hold on, it's- hold on a sec…" She rambles off down the street, in the direction some of the others have started, and points her hooves at Magpie. "It's a PIE! I found a PIE!" The big mare turns and fixes Phantom with that same grin. "Get it!? 'Cause her name is Magpie!" Winter turns and cups a hoof beside her mouth to sout after Magpie, who is being hauled off by the twins. "MAGPIE I'M USING YOU AS A PUNCHLINE IN A JOKE, DID YOU HEAR IT? MAGPIE HOLD UP YOU'RE MISSING THE JOKE"

Somewhere in the distance, a rimshot plays.

Phantom rears his head back and lets out a great belly laugh! "HA! Yes! Adventuring without jokes is not an adventure at all. Good show." Then he's off! Leaping /over/ the great mass that is Winter, to start trotting after Shadowbuck and Magpie, trying his best to keep an eye out on all the Search Party. "Keep at it! This is a big harbor, those cookies could be anywhere!"

Maple-Breeze does the classic pratfall after the terribad joke, wings and legs kicking at air. "Gah Winter! You ought to take things more seriously!" Says the pegasus who was chasing her tail a few minutes ago. She rolls to avoid the trampling 'dragon' pair and Magpie-Kite being pulled along. She peers after them, "Wonder where they are off to." Harbor doesn't have.. hydrants does it?

Shadowbuck snaps off a salute. "I think this one and her… whatever they ares have a good beat on our missing sugar." Then she lowers her voice. "Since when do dayponies keep colts on leashes?"

Zoom! Or, not zoom, because moths usually don't go zoom. Dusty flies after Snapdragon pretty fast anyway, wing-flaps fading to silence as he chases a colt of interest that still has a piece of tasty leash.

"Pububa!" comes the shout from down Main Street.

"Dragonheart says peanut butter cookies at—" She peers. "AT THE ORPHANAGE!"

"Uhnn!" Snapdragon says, tugging harder, not making as much headway without his earth pony sister. Left behind. As usual.

Hoarfrost hops off she is on a mission! Search through all the bins it is! Hopping onto her back legs and setting her forlegs on teh rim of each trash can before giving it a good push and with a crash nocks it clear over. Red magic pushing and sorting the garbage quickly. Sticking head out form her first barrel a banana peel on her head "Hehe thats good Winter!"

"But the peanut butter wasn't missing… was it?", Shadowbuck wonders aloud.

"HaHA!" Phantom cries gleefully, swooping through the air after the dashing foals. "A real clue! Everybody follow that filly!" Swoop!

The orphanage isn't even closed up! The door's open, a couple curious faces peeking out at the commotion going on outside, just the perfect bit open to let a barrelling foal charge through.

Winter-Solstice grins around at the others as her joke, surprisngly enough, doesn't earn her even mild physical violence. Hey! This is a good crowd. "Yeah, yeah…" she says, at Maple Breeze's cajoling, easing into an amble off after the others. She finds a lot less to be motivated about now that she doesn't have any puns to make, so she tries some of this sniffing thing- holding up her head, sniffing at the air, frowning a bit. She smells… sailors. And alcohol. And various intersections of the two. "Unless you can make pie out of sour rum, I can't smell any… uh? The orphanage!?" The blacksmith hurries to follow. Any time the ophanage is involved, it usually means especially dastardly threats! Oh nO!

But the foal isn't heading for the door! By the time the others catch up, Dragonheart is through pawing at the narrow basement window and has switched to digging a reasonably large hole below it, trying to find her way past the dastardly threat of glass and bricks!

Swoop! Plunk. Phantom lands near the digging foal shortly after, squinting at the hole, the window, and the building in question. There's the tiniest little crack in the windowpane! Is that what the sniffing foal was getting to?

The closer anyone gets to the window, the more obvious it would become. There's definitely the scent of peanut butter cookies wafting up from that tiny crack. And the scent of…frosting? Several mixtures, in fact!

The front door to the orphanage has been opened more, several more faces poking out, totem-pole style. "Hey!" "What's all the ruckus?" "Some of us are havin' naptime!"

Shadowbuck hovers above Dragonheart, with a confused frown on her face. "We know you're harboring tasty treats! What gives?", she yells.

Magpie pffts as she's hauled over to the window. "Naptime? C'mon, who needs naps?"

Hoarfrost grunts shacking off the trash can refuse. Running over to the others at the orphange and stands next to Mapie "What did the twins find?"

Maple-Breeze wings herself over and peering suspiciously, "Besides it is morning! Who naps in the morning when there is breakfast to be had! Err well used to be had anyway." She squints an eye, suspiciously, "Shouldn't you all be busy avoiding school and out having adventures like the grownups?" She says.

"What!?" three of the foals exclaim, rushing out of the door to poke their own noses around. "H..hey! I smell…" "Cookies!" two of the foals exclaim! The third one's pouting at Magpie and scuffing a hoof. "I like naptime…"

Phantom chuckles. "How curious! Our thief has guts to be hiding anything sweet underneath a whole building of lost foals. Obviously we must search this building from top to bottom! Or from bottom to top!"

One of the foals turns to Maple, ears perked, "School's called off on account of no donuts!"

Dusty, finally caught up with Dragonheart, is having a slow snack of the remainder of the leash. Or as slow as is possible while following a force of nature shaped like a foal. He perks up at the mention of 'bottom'.

Magpie unleashes Snappy — he'll find his own way home when he's hungry — and charges inside! "JUSTICE HAS COME, COOKIE THIEVES!" she bellows. "FOR NOW YOU FACE THE CRI—-uhhh C…c… crime-solving crew?"

Winter-Solstice roars up the steps towards the door after Magpie, but since the doorway is open, there's nothing to kick down! So instead, she stands to the side and powerfully holds the door open.

"Rush the facility! Ransack the kitchens and pantries! Let no crumb be un..found!" Shadowbuck flies through the powerfully open door and through the hallways at speeds which would be dangerous if they weren't on a quest for justice. A moment later, a muffled grunt is heard, and a batpony-shaped hole in the plaster appears at the end of a hallway. "I'm ok!"

Phantom bellows out another laugh. "Hahahaha! For justice!" he readily agrees. Then winces at Winter and Shadowbuck's bold entry, especially the latter's crash. "…Nh. That pony's sure got a lot of spunk. But you really need to learn to watch for walls!"

Inside the orphanage, several of the other foals have already gathered around the door to the basement. It isn't even locked! But it doesn't really smell like cookies /inside/ the orphanage. Does it?

No. Not until someone actually steps hoof down into the basement. Only when someone gets down to the bottom of the steps could the odor of delicious baked niceties be detected, way off in the back corner of this cluttered space. It's a dark basement, the main lights coming from the stairs leading up and the few windows lining the edges, casting shadows over many tarp-covered objects of various sizes. Dusty, musty, the smell of…water and dirt mixes with the scents of cookies.

Despite all the scents, it doesn't look very disturbed. The piles of tarp-covered objects look like they haven't been disturbed in weeks, maybe even months, with the only trails in the dusty floor leading to where the orphanage keeps most of its most-used supplies. Which smell a lot more like cleaner than cookie.

Not so much charging but trotting at an even pace. "I don't think we are in a comic book, why all the yelling and leapign about?" the filly tilts her head. "Oh is that just required in cookie hunting missions?"

Maple-Breeze might be inclined to rush in herself though has the example of Shadowbuck of showing just how good that turns out. So she lands and does a more heroic prancing trot on her tippyhooves. Though once inside it seems there are more questions than answers. "They let you live in here?" She asks the orphange foals looking at the large basement and its certain degree of ominousnesseseseses.

"Well we don't live down /there/." one of the foals points out, from the comfortable and well-lit safety of the main floor. "We have beds upstairs! And stuff here! Nobody goes down there unless somethin' breaks up here."

"Yeah… Down there's kinda spooky." another colt says, hiding behind the first. "Foals disappeared down there before!"

Dirt! Dust! Dampness! Dimness! Doom! This is totally like a familiar home. Dusty does a barrel roll and then dashes ahead, likely nearly overtaking dragonheart.

Winter-Solstice pffts at the basement. "That's prime fort-building territory, kids!" While others worry about, you know, looking for clues, she pulls a couple foals aside and starts pointing around. "See, if you empty out that box you can use that part of it as a gate, and if you get a blanket there you can connect it to that box over there…"

Shadowbuck stands up and shakes a little bit of plaster off her flank, before heading down into the basement with situation-appropriate boldness. "Feh. There's nothing to worry about down there. Don't you realize that bravery with wreckless abandon is the one true path?"

Magpie slows down once she's down here. The scent of cookies is … vague at best, now. What's going on? She stalks through the shadows like a tiger. A tiger with flat grass-chewing teeth and spots instead of stripes. Maybe she's more like a leopard-cow.

"Ooooooooh…" several of the foals say in unison to Winter's direction. "I could totally see that." "Yeah… Hmm.. Maybe next time the matron's asleep.." Foal plots are go!

Hoarfrost shakes her head "Ya when I lived here me and Petticoat where always hanging out down here. Made a fort and swords from the mop sticks. It was a great place to hide." Trotting along with Magpie the whole way.

"INDEED!" Bellows Phantom, to Shadowbuck's claim of bravery. "To the bold goes victory! To the victor goes the cookies! Build your forts later, we have a hoard to find!" Sure, he's bringing up the rear this time, letting his, ah, crime-fighting crew take point to see what they can find in the basement.

Somewhere towards the back, near where that cracked window is (see it with the tiny beam of sunlight?), the scent picks up again. Stronger. Oh look, hoofprints too! Leading back towards the farthest corner of the basement. Stopping at…a chest?

Really. A great big wooden chest, with an oversized lock keeping it bound. But that smell! There's surely cookies in there! And maybe some cupcakes too! Maybe, just maybe, even a donut.

Shadowbuck squints at the chest momentarilly. "Alas, we are undone. Nopony could possibly pick this…" She then gives the lock a powerful tug. From which it entirely fails to unlock. "…so much for lockpicking by surprise."

Hoarfrost steps closer sniffing at the strange box. "This wasn't here before …" giving it a good look "I think … maybe we can break it? Think we can do that?" looking back to the adults, you don't break into things when they are looking without permission. Maybe Magpie is starting to rub off on her.

Hoarfrost glances from Winny to Magpie "I mean freezing it so it is brittle then maybe if Winny gives it a good buck?"

Magpie peeks at the others. "Oh! WOE is US! We are unDONE by a lock! Nopony could possibly open this without the key!" Okay. Cool. SHe's safe. "Yeah, c'mon Winny! Earth Pony Lockpicks!"

Maple-Breeze own skill only works with waffle irons than nefarious iron iron. She does make a slow glance to Winter. When Pegasus agility and Unicorn craftiness fail. Certainly there is one more school of pony that can work!

Winter-Solstice perks up, looking over to the others from where she is still instructing the foals on fort construction. Did you know how to make towers out of couch cushions? These kids do! The blacksmith excuses herself from the process and makes her way over to the others. "Oh! A lock! That's all? This'll be easy! Stand back, everypony!" The big mare wheels about, angling her hind legs towards the chest, and stretches them, one after the other- hup! Hah! She bites her lower lip, she leans forward, she hunches her hind legs, she winds up, and-

And in the meantime, the foals on the other side of the basement are putting some of their newfound knowledge into action, working together to stack one crate on top of another crate- all the better to form the basis of a sturdy keep in the center of their fort. But their grip slips! The crate tumbles! It hits an overturned mop which flips upward! Its handle hits a shelf, dislodging two bottles of cleaner that flop over and roll off the edge! They bounce off a precarious box of paperwork that tumbles over, hitting the side of a high stack of small boxes, which wobbles, pitches over, tumbles to the side! More things fall over. More boxes spilled, stacks overturned, crates collapsing!

And just as Winter is rearing up and readying to deliver a solid *KICK* to the chest, a shelf full of bowling balls and irons- because every orphanage needs developes wrinkled clothing and every juvenile bowling league needs to keep its equipment SOMEWHERE in the off-season- falls atop the chest, smashing the lid open. Winter pauses pre-buck, then sits up and looks back at the chest. "Oh! Done!"

Dusty settles daintily upon a loose bowling ball, arresting its rolling as he does. He's totally taking credit for it, as honorary chaos butterfly.

Shadowbuck squints, then picks up one of the bowling balls with a contemplative look on her face. She looks at the moth on it. "Neither of you get a share of the sugar," she says, setting the ball back down.

As bowling balls and irons and heavy things fall atop the chest, effectively smashing not only the lock but most of the wooden top into kindling, the sound of a surprised voice can be heard! "OW! AUGH! HEY! WHA! GHK-" Thump, thump, thump.

From behind the rest of the Justice Crew, the sound of two hooves stomping. "Well played! Serving justice before even fully catching the crook! I like this team's style."

Hoarfrost rolls over the janitor mop bucket full of water sloshing over the edge as she does. "I brought the water to break the-" CRASH! Winching Frost peeks at the chest and sighs a ball falling into the water just in time to soak her. Drenched and mindly soapy she tries to shake it from her coat. "Well did we at least find all the stollen goods? Is there pancakes?"

Magpie dodges back away from the crashing of heavy objects. But eventually she makes her way back up and peers into the chest. "…hello?" Did she hear a voice from inside?

Winter-Solstice peeks inside alongside Magpie. "Yeah! Are there pancakes?!"

Shadowbuck says "Pancakes or ponies?"

Amid the smashed bits of wood, bowling balls, and heavy irons, there are definitely signs that there is a pony (whos state of consciousness is in heavy debate at this moment) in there! Not to mention the stronger scent of cookies. So many cookies. Possibly crumbs now. The sound of a soft groan rises from the mess, and the hint of light brown pelt.

Magpie says "AHA! It's YOU! I knew it would be— …who are you again?"

Maple-Breeze muses. "Well there might be somepony made into a pancake." She ventures, using her expert experience in the matter, waving one wing to fan away the rising sawdust and ducking the other to avoid getting splashed by proxy next to Hoarfrost.

An ominous expository voice at a dramatic moment, belonging to someone who wasn't part of the justice-sniffing team? Maybe the owner has rubbed off a bit much on the moth, but Dusty launches himself at the voice's owner. He isn't much of a menace, but he can do distraction damage with aggravated fashion criticals. Not to mention that eating the leash still left him a bit peckish.

Shadowbuck scowls. "A pancake made from a pony would not be.. um… tasty." She peers over and shakes her head sadly. "That pony's gonna need a medic."

"Ponecake," corrects Winter, before peering at the pony inside the box. She frowns and starts poking them.

From within the pile of heavy objects, the shape stirrs! Bowling balls roll off the pile, some irons clanking, pushed aside, the groggy figure of a tall, peanut-butter brown pony rising up from within the chest. He's rubbing his forehead, right above a spiral horn, glowering out at the assorted ponies (plus moth) with chocolate brown eyes. "No, don't bother, I'm quite alright thanks." the pony speaks in a prim, proper voice, smoothing an unruly mane back, from which cookie crumbs drift out. He's got a polka-dot 'mask' hanging around his neck, and a small bag, with a bowling ball smooshed atop it, sitting next to him.

He bats at the poking hoof, this odd pony, wincing with the gesture, "Seriously, I heard of getting the drop on somepony, but that was a little much, wasn't it? You could have killed me!"

"Yeah!" admonishes Winter, turning to scowl at the bowling balls. "What's the deal!?"

Shadowbuck's eyebrows shoot up. This is one pony who can take a beating! She assumes a casual ready stance. "I think you're about to tell us why there's such a smell of cookies around you, buddy."

Magpie says "Are you made of cookies? Are you the gingerbread pony? ARE YOU AS FAST AS THEY SAY?!"

Hoarfrost gasps "Oh man check him for gum drop buttons!"

Having been alerted to ponies in her orphanage, the matron decided to come have a look. After all, she was not consulted, and they don't seem to be here to talk to the foals at an approved meeting time. After finishing off some forms, the mare went down to the basement, and opened the doors. She leans in the doorway for a while, listening in and looking very unhappy.

But then again, Rising Chaos never looks happy.

The odd crumbly pony's eyes widen! He holds a hoof out to keep the rabid masses at bay! "Now, now! Hold your horses, little-" his eyes blink at Winter, and Phantom, "-or not so little ponies! It's not what you think!" He blinks down at Magpie. "Or maybe it is. Tell you what, I've got this bag of-" he pauses, glancing into the chest, at the bowling ball smooshing his bag, and his face falls. "Oh crumbcake… You smashed my prize! What am I supposed to do with a bag of cookie dust?"

Another brush of his hoof through his mane, dislodging a few more crumbs to scatter about and his features split into a grin, "Tell you what! You deserve something for being such swell sleuths! So…" His horn begins to glow! "How about you all let me scamper off, and you can keep the bag? And the dust?"

Magpie augh! "Grab him! Grab him! He IS the Gingerbread Pony! AUGH!"

Winter-Solstice watches, expression flat. Gingerbread pony? Huh? Hearing something behind her, she sits up, looks back, and sees- "Oh! Rising Chaos! Look what was in your storage!" She points at the Gingerbread Pony. "Where'd you get him?!"

Dusty, meanwhile, shows indiscriminately poor manners. Unfamiliar ponies are to be nommed and/or wing-buffeted! Especially whoever looks dastardly at the moment.

Hoarfrost widens ehr stance and tries to summon up what is left of that water in the bucket. A little ponies knows what happens when cookies get wet! Gritting her teeth she readies a stream of water. "Don't move or your going to get dunked cookie thief!"

"Oh no!" the cooky-scented pony seems to squeak, the horn glow intensifying! At shouts of 'get him', the bag next to this crumblyish stallion promptly explodes into a fine powder, sending a cloud of peanut-butter, chocolate chip, and fudge pits billowing out! Quick as a whip, a shape within the dust moves, scampering over tarps, slinking around crates, diving through shelves! "Sorry, sorry! Now's not the time for tag, littlebig ponies, I've got places to prance and cookies to caper! If you catch me now the plot'll just go stale!"

Narrowing her eyes, Rising Chaos glares at all the assembled ponies, especially the strange pony who wants to get away. "I would like to know that myself. What is the meaning of this?" Then the strange pony goes poof. That is reason enough for Rising to take one step forward and slam the door shut, her own horn lighting up as she tries to figure out what kind of spell is being employed here, if not stop it.

"I GOT HIM!" Magpie bellows, coughing and choking on cookie dust (who knew?) that slowly clears to reveal — "Oh…. Hi, miss Chaos…" She releases her leg-grip.

Winter-Solstice is busy chasing after crumbs. "Hurry, kids!" she shouts to any lingering foals. "Gather up these last few precious fragments of baked deliciousness while you can! Their value has skyrocketed! Now's the time to capitalize on the market omn nom" A mouthful of chocolate chips interrupt her encouragement.

Hoarfrost tosses her water toward where the cookie pony was and then sticks her tongue out in consentration as she tries to snap freeze it only the cookie dust in her face makes her aim bad. Hopefully she doesn't hit the cookies or worse a pony!

The spell dissapates, the cookie dust swirling away to show…the cracked basement window, propped open, the scent of peanut butter cookies rising and fading.

A few words float back:

"Hide the things you love to bake, hide your cookies, hide your cake!"
"I'll swipe it all from 'neath your nose while shouting this delightful prose!"
"I will not slow, I will not stop, though you lot almost got the drop!"
"Now trot, trot, with all of your speed, try and chase me down, I'm the Gingerbread Steed!"

"…that's actually poetry, not prose," somepony who is definitely not Magpie comments.

"Mmh?" mouths Winter around her handful of baked detritus, thumping up alongside Magpie. The smith offers Maggie a hooffull of macaroon bits. "Did you catch 'im? Wait, did you lose 'im?" She looks around at the others. "Why didn't you catch 'im?!"

Outside, Snapdragon and Dragonheart stand forlornly by the gate. "…cookie?" Snappy asks, watching the fastest pony in the world run away.

Magpie says "You /can't/ catch him. He's the Gingerbread Steed. It's in the poem."

Winter-Solstice pauses her crunching to listen. "He says we should try and chase him down, though, not that we -can't-." She considers chewfully for a few moments. "He's stealing all the cookies and encouraging us to run. Clearly he just wants us to all exercise and not eat junk food. Is he really a villain?"

Augh. Vanishing ponies and icky cookie dust. Dusty abandons his assault and flees towards (scant) sanity and clean air outside through the open basement window.

Rising-Chaos lays her ears flat against her head until the words go away. Once all hint of spooky cookie monster ponies are gone, Rising opens the door. "As much as I am glad you ponies got rid of the uninvited guest in my basement, next time I would like a bit of warning. Now, I have a lot of… Cokies dust to clean up. So if you want to go and save any more of your ghastly wretched baked goods I suggest you all get out!"

Hoarfrost surenders herself to simply munching on the cookie pile. Magic makes it easy to scoop up some waffles and a cookie peice on top. neatly taking a few bites and giving a shrug. "I heard ruby tell this story! I did not know this Ginger Stallion was a real thing. Are all your foal tails so wonderfully true?"

"Only most of 'em," Magpie says as she shuffles out past Chaos.