That's The Harbor For You
IC date: Autumn 54, 1007
OOC date: November 12, 2012
PCs: Thunnini, Whistlestop, Skyflower, Brume, Spindrift, Spearmint, Ruby-Blossom, Magpie
NPCs: Monsoon, Maelstrom, Hearth, Bonfire, Daffodil, Spectre, Voice, Fury
GM: Applejack
It's amazing how fast things can happen.

One day, all the foals in the Harbor were gathering together to build a seapony the equivalent of a go-cart!

The next? One of the foals is kidnapped! And a ransom note sent to the Rusty Bucket by way of two other foals. Namely a certain blind colt, and the very seapony who just upgraded to a neat set of wheels.

Here at the outskirts of the Harbor, two /very/ out of place ponies now lurk, having picked a convenient tree to claim as a place to set up their intended meeting. Nightmare's Fury, the royal assassin, and Nightmare's Voice, commander of Nightmare Moon's forces (whom to this point has had one /heck/ of a time not being lost and/or caught up in other surprising dangers) have poor little Daffodil tied up to the tree!

Voice, an armored bright-white mare in a suit of black armor, paces restlessly in front of the tree. Back and forth, watching the trail that she and Fury had sent the other foals back to 'town' on. Yes, it's an obvious trap. But sometimes the best traps are obvious ones, because one can't help but trigger them.

The note itself is simple, written in tidy, flowing script. 'Dear rebels and outcasts of Horseshoe Harbor: We have an Element of Harmony. We also have your precious little sun-colt. If you desire a peaceful resolution to this, bring the other Elements and come to the outskirts of town. Sincerely yours, Nightmare's Voice'

"Oh, /geez/ this is bad! So bad! You think Daffy's okay?" Spectre is running herself in circles, panicking and flailing in her unique Spectral way. Poof! She's gone. Poof! She's next to somepony new, grabbing their shoulders and shaking them. "AAAA!"

Monsoon's brand of panic is much calmer. "Calm /down/, Spectre. We can't save him by panicking. This is obviously a trap, so we shouldn't go charging in without a plan."

If one is going to talk about obvious traps there's no better pony to get involved than Maelstrom. Whether you're trying to set them or set them off, he's the stallion for the job. "What'd I tell that colt about taking candy from strangers?" he mumbles under his breath, nevermind that it was probably something along the lines of 'you take that candy every time'. "So what's the plan, Soon? I go in brash and boistrous and you do the whole 'pegasus ninja' thing?"

Skyflower has heard the news as well. "My heavens, this does sound awful. We can't let them hurt the dear boy but if they got their hooves on the other Elements it would be simply disasterous. What do we do?"

"I don't like kidnapped ponies," whimpers Whistlestop. He shuffles his huge self behind Skyflower and hunkers down as much as possible, as though the brick house of a pony could possibly be concealed by the mare.

Thunnini is simply scowling. She would've been happy about having an easier way to move around town and hang out with her landpony friends, but a pair of weird landpony bullies decided to foalnap a friend of hers and threaten much harm if the bullies aren't brought the assorted shiny things - including the one that she had found and was guarding!

"Oh man oh gosh oh no." Bonfire paces back and forth, frowning and occasionally kicking at the ground. "We've gotta go get him. We've gotta hurry. They'll… I don't want to think about what they'll do. This is bad. This is really bad." She jumps, then stares at Spectre as she's suddenly shaken bodily about. "I know it's bad! I just said it's bad! AAAAA!" she echoes in agreement.

Hearth has sat herself down next to Monsoon, fretting worriedly as she watches her friends. "There has to be something we can do… we can't give them the Elements, but we /can't/ let them have Daffy… oh, he must be so scared…" she shakes her head, looking over at Monsoon. Please have ideas. "Whatever happens we have to save him. Over… anything else."

Speaking of Daffy. Back at the 'Trap'. As they wait for what will no-doubt be an impossible rush of ponies, Voice continues to pace. Looking from Daffy, to the town, and back to the sunny little colt. Silent, despite her name of Voice.

Daffodil, meanwhile, has no such compulsion to be silent. "You know I'm just gonna outsmart you, don't you?" the kid pipes up, earning a quick glowering glare from Voice. Daffy is, of course, unfazed. Not this time. "Mael says you two are the dumbest goons the Queen has. And 'Soon says that you two make Mael look smart! So if those are true, I'm smarter than both of you, and that means I'm gonna escape." Nod. Flawless logic from the tied-up colt!

Though Voice is giving silent glares and evil looks to the daring colt, Fury is poised atop one of the tree's branches. Keeping a lookout. Mostly. All the talk of being outsmarted stings, if only because she's already had a few run-ins with kids around here that didn't end well. "Just keep it up kid. Keep opening that mouth so I have even more reason to shut you up for good." she mutters under her breath.

Skyflower says "Well. If it's any help you have my assistance in whatever you require. And Whistlestop's too, I've no doubt."

"I will help!!" Whistlestop says, almost immediately after Skyflower's assertion. His attempt to be small is thwarted by him whipping his head up into a straight-backed posture.

Spearmint is pacing. Which isn't the best idea - he's slammed into Spectre's legs at least twice. It's so hard to keep track of that pony! He never seems to hear her coming. But he can't seem to stand still. He is decidedly unhappy. This had been such a good day! But now Daffy was in trouble, and he hadn't been able to do anything. He couldn't even say what had happened to him, 'cause he hadn't been able to see what they did! So he paces, ears perked, listening to the other ponies plan and rant, until certain words catch his attention. "…Me too! I… I w-wanna help too!"

Spectre keeps shaking Bonfire. "IT'S SO BAD!!!" she wails, while Monsoon shakes his head with Hearth. "We do have to save him. I'm thinking. I don't know!" Graahh. "I don't know if the usual blunt-'n'-subtle will work here, Mael. They know our tricks. We need something different. This is absolutely vital that everything go well."

Spectre sweeps Spearmint up and shakes him. "YOU SHOULD HELP TOO!!!! … I don't know how. How are we getting them back, guys?!"

Maelstrom considers Monsoon's analysis for several long seconds. "…what if /you/ spring the trap and /I/ do the ninja pegasus thing?" he offers. "They'll never see /that/ one coming." As the various mares all panic over how they're going to get Daffodil back the large unicorn simply answers, "We're gonna save him with moxie and pizzazz. Look, I know we're all worried about Daffy, but since when have these two ever been a real threat to us? They're completely harmless. A couple of fish out of water." He pauses, eyes darting towards Thunnini for a second. "Uh, that is to say, they're a couple of grounded griffons. Totally out of their element and no match for OUR Elements."

Thunnini snerks at that, then looks over at Monsoon. "Do you want your Element back now?" she asks with a slightly sad look. Yes, she was taking care of it until Monsoon could have it back, but she's still going to miss "her" shiny treasure.

Fish out of water, you say? Two Mysterious Wanderers approach, and they are totally fish out of water because they are mysterious wanderers from a far-off land. Emphasis on land. They have four legs each and are suspicious because of their cloaks and that's all. Spindrift is in the lead, Striding Purposefully as she rounds a corner and approaches the group, wherever they may be; Brume shows up a short while later, evidently not in as great a hurry. Spindrift looks about ready to say something as she approaches the group, but closes her mouth before she gets that far, ears perked, listening. Maelstrom's bellicose delivery tells her quite a bit, and her eyes narrow. "They've taken Daffodil, have they?"

Brume catches up about then. "What?" he asks, glancing about. "Daffodil? Where is he?"

"Prisoner, presumably," says Spindrift, glancing back at him, then back over to Maelstrom. "What are they asking for in return? Anything?"

Skyflower says "All right, then, what can we do to help? If you need a distraction I'm /sure/ I could come up with something." She smiles a self-satisfied little smile, thinking of her latest batch. "That is, if that would help."

"While that is indeed a tactic that would take them by surprise," Monsoon sighs, "you are neither ninja, nor a pegasus, and neither can I barrel in shooting lasers from my head. Unfortunately, that nixes that from the idea list." He, too, glances at Thunnini at the fish out of water comment. Ahem.
Spearmint yelps as he's suddenly no longer on the ground. He flails a bit. Where did the ground gooooo aaaaagh he's being shaken. "I'll help, I'll help, I said I'll help!"

Hearth frowns, ears back as she thinks. "We… we have do something they won't expect. Something… something new. Something different… but if we startle them, or if something goes wrong… it risks Daffy. But they may not be intending to give him back to us anyway."

Bonfire plunks her rump down on the ground, shaking her head. Trying to recover from being shaken so vigorously, perhaps! "How do we know they even /have/ an Element? They say they do, and we're missing one, but… but maybe they're bluffing. Maybe they just want us to hand over ours. Maybe they just want /us/. They might not even know if we /have/ any of the Elements with us."


Meanwhile… Pace pace pace. Voice has graduated from pacing in a line in front of the tied-up colt to pacing in a circle around the tree. This was already taking longer than she would have liked. But then she's spent the last…month? Month and a half? Something like that. All that time, lost! Wandering around a cursed forest, getting pumpkins exploded on her, told off by griffons, and running afoul of every frozen creature in existance. She is, admittedly, not happy, so Daffy's constant taunting earns more and more of those dark looks.

"See, one of these times, you're going to walk around that tree, and I just won't be here! Poof! I'll have just slipped the ropes! Like… Like something really slippery! Grease! Yeah!" Daffy tips his head up, staring through the leaves of the tree he's tied to. "Or maybe I'll just vanish like wind and reappear on a branch! That would be cool… Just be all like BAM! Now I'm up high!" He's totally fidgeting.

Fury grits her teeth. She flutters her wings in aggrivation, glowering down at the kid again. "Rrrgh…" she rrrghs, hopping down from the tree branch to turn and get all in Daffy's face! "/Listen!/" …This gets Daffy to quiet down for a moment, looking up at the half-white, half-rainbow maned assassin. "You're not going anywhere! Your friends are going to show up, we're going to take their elements, and we're going /home!/ End of story! Shut up!"

Daffy blinks. Twice! Then leeeeeeans his head up just enough to whisper, "Your mane is rainbows… That's kinda cool! Can you make my mane rainbows too? Why do you hide it? Do you use bleach or dye? Does it hurt? Have you ever used the wrong color? Can you make it a reverse rainbow?"

Fury falls backwards onto her back, wings and legs splayed. "Voice! I can't take this! I'm not a foalsitter! I'm a ruthless killer! Why can't we use /dead/ bait? Dead bait doesn't talk back!"

"Because. Dead bait might get us killed." Voice states, calmly. If darkly. Pausing in her pacing to glower down at the sprawled pegasus.

"Can we have lunch soon? I'm getting hungry!" Daffy calls from his tied-up spot on the tree.

Spectre finishes shaking Spearmint and poofs! Reappearing next to Skyflower. "Distractions! Distractions are good! What kind of distractions are you good at??"

"One of these days I'm gonna magic up a laser for your head," Maelstrom says with more determination than that sentence has any right to have. "But okay, that plan won't work today. Why don't we just do exactly what they're expecting us to do but do it so well that they can't actually stop us? We keep doing our usual thing because our usual thing always works, you know."

The offer of a distraction draws Maelstrom's interest. "I like that initiative. What sort of distractions are we talking about?"

Mael casts a sidelong glance at Spectre. "Jinx. You owe me cider."

Spectre stops panicking long enough to look back at Maelstrom, and give a solemn nod. "As the rule of jinx, so it shall be," she says with more gravity than necessary.

Skyflower looks as though she'd be adjusting her glasses if she were wearing any. "I have a stockpile of fireworks for a variety of occasions. And owing to the ever so troubling events of the last month I've been preparing for a… wider variety of occasions than usual. Nothing /violent/ of course, that would just be barbaric, but if you need things to make bright flashes or loud bangs or no small amount of smoke, I'm sure that I could help."

"I think they're asking for the Elements in return for Daffodil," explains Brume, to Spindrift. Spindrift raises an eyebrow. "Yes, I heard them as well," she says. She then turns back towards the group.

"We recovered the Element of Kindness from the garishly dressed pegasus pirate stranded on the docks," says Spindrift, to Bonfire. "It is yours by right and we will do with it what you ask. But yielding them to these… villains may not be a wise decision. If nothing else…" She glances around, then, at Hearth and Bonfire, at Maelstrom and Moonsoon, at Spectre and Skyflower and Spearmint, and then, with a brief look of worry, to Thunnini. "… we outnumber them, unless they've found a way to recruit."

Spindrift turns back towards the rest of the group. "Some of us can go in to discuss the matter while others remain at a distance, ready to intercept. Once we see the exchange has been made, we can attack. Between Maelstrom's magic and Brume's, we should be able to at least delay the departure of their assassin."

Brume shrugs ambivalently from where he listens at a distance.

Monsoon looks thoughtful, and he nods to the harbor ponies. "Reconnaissance ponies, and then we keep Skyflower and her fireworks and a number of other ponies on hoof. If and when — because it's definitely a when — things go south, fire off some distractions, grab what we need and hightail it out of there. Does that sound agreeable? Close enough to your plan, Mael. You could even be one of the ones to peacably walk up to 'em if you want."

Hearth pricks her ears a bit at Spindrift's words. "You found my Element?" Bonfire blinked. "So… so that's… Spectre, did you ever get yours from the Mayor? And you had… two of 'em? One?" She points to Thunnini. "Somepony had one in a box." She tilted her head. "So… so that's all of 'em we know where they are except Daffy's? And they say they have one." She frowned, giving a faint snort. "What do they even want them for, they can't use them… and we can't get home without them. Are they trying to trap us all here? Is that it?"

"I'm liking the sound of it," Maelstrom says with a nod. "They'll never expect the flashy lights to be coming from somepony else. Can you grab your fireworks at meet us down at the meet-up point?" He looks to Skyflower momentarily for verification before turning his attention towards Spindrift. "I've seen you and Brume work together before. Don't you sling the spells and he just powers them?" The unicorn shakes his head. "Well, whatever, we'll figure it out as we go."

Skyflower nods. "Very well, I'll pack an assortment that I think will be simply boffo for this affair. Whistlestop, darling? Would you be a lamb and help me pack up a cart?"

Thunnini blinks. "Yeah, I found a jewelled box, but it was locked and I couldn't see what was inside it. Was it another one of your Elements?"

"I can pack a cart! I am good at that!" Whistlestop hops and beams, all ready to follow Skyflower anywhere. Home, town, off a cliff. Y'know. Anywhere.

And super belatedly because it slipped my mind, Monsoon also nods to Thunnini. "We'll be needing my necklace back soon," he says. "But you can hang onto it while we go that way, if you want."

"I /hope/ not…" Spectre says to Hearth, shivering. "I mean, not that you guys aren't all really nice, cause you are, but we got ponies at home to save too."

Skyflower trots off in the direction of her store, presumably to find enough things that go 'bang' 'whoosh' and 'boom' to satisfy the toughest of audiences.

Whistlestop is not the toughest of audiences, appearances aside. He shall be dazzled no matter what comes out of the fireworks. OoooOOOooo~!

Spindrift offers a shrug to Maelstrom. "That's one way to look at it. Or he casts the spells and I shape them. It's an academic point."

Brume pipes up. "I make the magic. She just mooches off of it."

Spindrift rolls her eyes and looks to Hearth. Then to Bonfire. She narrows her eyes and steals a glance at their cutie marks, then looks away with a toss of her head as if that never happened. Right. Right. The sweet-looking one is Kindness, that makes sense, inasmuch as any four-legged dirt pony can be considered kind. "We will hold onto it for now- the kidnappers will doubtlessly expect you all to be carrying the actual focuses. Again, though, if ever you desire it back, tell us." She looks to Maelstrom, then, and then makes her way over to stand near Skyflower. "We will accompany the fireworks in the meantime."

Brume speaks up once more. "Now now, YOU can stay with fireworks. I'll join the diplomatic mission."

Spindrift turns to eye him. "Fine, then we'll go with Ma-"

"No, -you- will stay behind," counters Brume, pointing a hoof at Spindrift. "-You- need to remember who nearly turned the docks into a crater in her hurry to pick a fight with Queen Pegasus. We don't need you mouthing off at the assassin."

Spindrift eyes Brume coldly for a moment, then turns away with a nod, and turns to follow Skyflower without another word.

Back at the tree, both Voice and Fury are back on their hooves, staring at Daffy. Whom is staring right back at the both of them. In shifts, since y'know there's two of them and only one of him. "..What? It's lunchtime! I'm /hungry!/"

A pair of stomachs gurgle in response. Apparently both of the foalnappers are too. For a moment the pair look ashen-faced, glaring at the ground, then each other, and finally back at Daffodil. "If we have to starve, so do you." Voice finally speaks, turning about face to stare down the road again. Waiting.

Daffy sighs. "Fiiiiiine…" And all is quiet. For about five seconds. Then: "You know you're gonna get your flank kicked, right? You could just let me go! I have a lot of friends here, there's no way two of you can take'em all!"

Voice mutters, her horn lighting up to lift her helmet, checking to make sure the Element she had actually had the fortune of finding amid her lost-woods adventures. "With any luck, we won't have to."

With the plan roughly decided on, or at least parts of it decided on and other parts tabbed with hastily scrawled IOUs, Maelstrom approaches the rendevouz point on the outskirts of town that the ransom note had direct the Harbor ponies to. "Hey!" he shouts out to catch the attention of the two Nightmare flunkies. Undoubtedly they'll make themselves known to the unicorn and his merry band of mares and also Brume. "We're here! Now where are you keeping Daffy?"

Skyflower, meanwhile, enlisted Spindrift and Whistlestop's help in carefully pulling a cart full of highly artistic works of explosive chemistry behind a convenient hillock. She's listening in to the conversation and setting things up in preparation for setting things off.

Brume is also there. He approaches along with Maelstrom- but keeps his distance, walking as far away from the big unicorn as he can without slipping off the path. If asked why on the approach, he flashes a grin and says "It's distracting."

As Maelstrom calls out, Brume adds a little chorus. "Indeed!" he shouts. "Bring him forth at once! We'd like to make sure the goods are not damaged!"

Spindrift has been helping with the cart, although she is not very strong. Still, she knows how to stack fireworks rather well and with her assistance, Skyflower's cart has enjoyed returns of 20% greater boom-per-square inch. She has been mostly quiet, assisting as necessary, although her frigid demeanor probably does not invite much in the way of solicitation. As Maelstrom and his party approach, she watches from afar, re-checking her place in the shadows and the concealing folds of her dull grey cloak. Ha! Ha, it helps hide her blue coat! Yeah! The grey helps blend in with the murky mid-autumn foliage! Not so silly now, is it? It's practical, you see! Practical!

Whistlestop is pulling a cart! Whistlestop is helpful! Relaly he's mostly the one pulling the cart, but Spindrift is helping, really she is. But as they get closer, the big lug is getting more worried, fretting this way and that. He keeps peeking over the hillock, ears splayed. Waagh!

Monsoon is holding back with the backup ponies, while Spectre is up with Maelstrom. He has his mare harem — his marem, if you will — all up with him as they approach. Yes indeedy.

Oho! Ponies ho! Both of the Nightmare Generals step back with the iminent arrival of the various Harborites and Elements. Fury, suddenly with a small knife hilt in her mouth, the bladed side not even an inch from the yellow colt. Her wings are flared, her eyes glancing from pony to pony, half-white and half-rainbow colored mane waving in a stray breeze. Poised to act.

Voice, meanwhile, steps out from beneath the shade of the tree, off to one side enough to allow all involved to see the clearly tied-up colt, and the assassin. She glowers particularly at Maelstrom, though other, less-familiar faces draw a line of concern over the pony's forehead. More friends indeed! But not too many more…

"I think you can see him just fine where you are." Voice calls out, her voice amplified magically. Royal Canterlot Voice, go! "You can see we have the colt. And we have an Element. You may either surrender peacefully, or we whittle your team down by one and make the Elements useless. It's your choice."

Maelstrom frowns at Voice's threat. "What are you even going to use the things for? Only the Elements can actually use these things. They're just pretty baubles to you. You don't honestly think you'll be able to take them back to Queen Moon, do you?"

The unicorn's gaze shifts up to Daffy and Fury. He looks like he's about to say something encouraging to the little Element of Laughter when he double-takes. "Oh, so you're not a natural snowball?" Mael says instead to the pegasus assassin. "You look a lot cuter with the stripey head, you oughta keep it that way."

"My associate makes a good point on all accounts," says Brume. He peers at Fury for a few moments, then brightens up. "Oh ho! 'Tis you! The one who was poisoned by the cookies down by the docks. How did that go, by the by?"

Spearmint blinks from the back of the group, laying his ears back. "…They w-weren't poison… they were just cookies…" he mumbles somewhat poutily. Perfectly good non-poison cookies. Hmph.

Skyflower makes quiet soothing noises to Whistlestop, still working on set-up. "Now now, dear," she says, sotto voce, "we mustn't let on that we're here. Isn't that right, Spindrift?"

Whistlestop seems to soothe a little, but he looks back at Spearmint. "Poison cookies?" he whispers. "Why were there poison cookies? Was it a ploy?" He doesn't actually seem to know what 'ploy' means, but it seems to suit the situation. He looks back at Sky, with big wibbly eyes. "What if everyone dies?" he whispers. "I don't like it when ponies die."

On more than one occasion, when Whistlestop peeks up over the rise of the hill, a slender, slate-blue hoof reaches up to push his noggin back down. "Yes," says Spindrift, in deadpan agreement. "Be still, pegasus."

Fury growls! As well as a pony can growl from around a knife handle. Her wings flutter in annoyance. Of /course/ she remembers those cookies! They almost got her killed! Somehow! Oh goddess she's so hungry…

Daffy is oddly silent through this. It may be he understands the seriousness of the situation! Or… He could be staring up at the clouds, and daydreaming about flying. He does that a lot.

Voice stamps a hoof on the ground. "It doesn't matter what we intend to use them for! If you can't use them against our Queen, that will be enough! Make your choice, before I make it for you!" Insistant little knightpony, isn't she?

Suddenly changelings! The pair of black pony-esque creatures burst out of a wooded path and into the opening with blazing speed - clearly in a hurry to get somewhere. Unfortunately solid objects such as other ponies do tend to slow things down - and being as there are so many UNFAMILIAR ponies here one simply wouldn't have the slighest idea who to avoid. Fury's flank is the first to make introductions with with the sharp point of the larger changelings horn as the black creature smacks into the unsuspecting mare from behind with the force of a full on trot. The first hint that these may not be true changlings comes as that bit of horn /snaps/ off after firmly planting itself in Fury's flank - the changling letting out a small cry of pain and whining "That was a good prop…" ruby-red eyes blinking as she realizes she's stumbled onto something - eyes darting left then right as they search for a familiar face - but man, sure alot of unfamiliar ponies about!

The smaller changeling leaps up onto Voice's back and off, stumbles on the dismount, careens, and crashes directly into Daffy's seriously silent (or possibly daydreaming) form. Sudden stop, slightly smooshed colt. All that. "Ugh…"

Skyflower, from her position behind the hill, hears the sounds of chaos and risks taking a little peek. She quickly ducks back down. "What ARE those creatures?" she asks, still in a whisper.

Maelstrom grunts uncomfortable. "I guess you've got us, then," he says slowly. His head raises to call out to the secondary team. "Hey! Bring out the Elements!" he calls out, hoping they know that 'Bring out' is code for 'Set off all of' and 'Elements' means 'fireworks'.

His spectacularly planned out plan, however, is interrupted by the sudden appearance of a pair of mysterious fel creatures! Considering the Element of Magic was already on a hair trigger considering the circumstances it's just enough to push him over the edge. "It's an ambush!" he shouts, horn glowing brightly in an instant and firing off a purple laser blast at one of the black pony-esque monsters.

Spindrift's hooded head pops up over the rise of the hillock a moment later. Within the Mysterious Shadows cast by her Moody Hood, her sea green eyes widen, and she pops back down. "Changelings," she says. She then pops back up. Then back down. "With fragile horns and a poor sense of coordination." She quiets for a bit. "Are we sure the outlander ponies aren't playing us all for fools? This is taking on the qualities of a bad school play."

Trixie rolls 1d2 (1 for Big Changeling, 2 for Small Changeling) — Result: 1 | Sum: 1

Whistlestop's eyes get soooo biiiiig. "Changelings??" he whispers, like it's the bestest present anyone could give him. Then he blinks. "What's a changeling?" Poor dumb lug. Of course, then the signal is called! And he rears! "Fire them! Fire them, Skyflower! Fire them!!!" Flail!

Skyflower hears something about an ambush, not to mention the code phrase. Her horn glows a brilliant gold and about twenty or thirty fuses are lit at once. "You MAY want to get down," she says as she hands earplugs to the other ponies as fast as she can before jamming a pair in her own ears.
It takes a second but once the fireworks start they don't seem to stop, a scintillating barrage of flashing lights and crackling booms and no small amount of white smoke everywhere. Give her credit: it /is/ distracting.

Spearmint blinks. "Changelings? What're those? Where'd they come from? Are they on our side?" Then he freezes, ears perked. His expression turns… thoughtful. Confused? And then suddenly so many bangs. His ears flatten and he cowers. "Yah! W-wait! Wait, I… I think Ms. Ruby's out there!" He wails over the whirl of noise. That had /sounded/ like Ms. Ruby. But it's hard to be sure with such a small sampling!

Brume starts, skittering back along the road. Changelings! What? "Where did- aahh! Maelstrom!" There's a chiding element to his voice, and he frowns at the lasers. "That's not going to help at all!"

Monsoon suddenly leaps to the air. This is not going according to plan! But with a distraction underway, he dives toward Fury and hopefully, hopefully, HOPEFULLY knocks her away from Daffy without injury. That's his plan anyway, as well as he can enact it in the midst of bangs, flashes, and smoke.

As the fireworks erupt, Spindrift ducks down back behind the hill once more and scoots around, starting to make a broad circle around the hub of chaos- Daffy's tree, and the villains gathered about it. She did not offer an explanation to Skyflower and Whistlestop about what she had in mind before she went, that is for sure.

Sudden crashing! And then sudden CRASHING! Fury has just enough time to perk her ears up and start to turn her head,, "What the—" CRASH! Knife, dropped! Assassin, suddenly airborne! "Whaaaaaaaaaaaa!" Ten feet away the pegasus lands in a heap, sprawled onto her back. "A..ambush!"

Voice fares little better! The smaller 'changeling' vaulting off her back earns a surprised whinny from the armored pony, starting and skipping back! "What is… Who are… Gah! You! This wasn't—"

Then explosions happen! Fireworks, even, so many flashing lights, and smoke bombs, and /total sensory overload/. It's all the Generals can do to cover their ears, ducked down in the hopes that whatever's exploding won't be them next!

Daffy's certainly knocked out of his reverie by getting smooshed by the barrelling little 'changeling'! Through the daze, the yellow colt giggles, even when all the fireworks go off! "Ooooooh… Who are you? You're different than the others! Are you here to save me too? Did you bring those kabooms? That was brilliant! Was..uh.. Was crashing into the tree part of the rescue plan?"
Explosions! High-tension brawls! Chaos! If this isn't Horseshoe Harbor I'll be danged! Certainly there isn't any time to lament as a blast of powerful magic errupts from unknown pony and sends Ruby tumbling backwards, and back into the underbrush as she just barely manges to avoid the beam itself. Explosions over head, magical bursts from the front - evil butt-hurt pegasi to left; ponyfeathers just crazy yo. The ruby-eyed changling cautiously peeks it's head out of the bushes - peering at Maelstrom before they dart to Daffy - ticktockticktock *bing* "Oh!" she chimes before ducking back down for fear of having her head blown off again. "Confirmed." she hisses quietly before attempting to circle back towards Maggie.

Magpie seems a little dazed by the impact. She blinks at the colt. "Why're you tied up?" she asks, her voice rather muffled by the knife between her teeth. Oh! Knife! She hacks at the ropes around Daffy. NOPONY should be tied up, ESPECIALLY a foal. Like EVER.

"It helps all the time, every time!" Maelstrom counters as Brume chides him terribly. "And if lasers don't, magic traps do!" The unicorn takes a few steps backwards, trying to get on the grassy knoll that the secondary group was hiding behind with the fireworks. He doesn't notice that he's backed himself right next to Spearmint since his attention is focused on the Nightmare mooks.

His horn glows again as he infuses the ground beneath his feet with magic. The grassy hill seems to bow outward as holding back an immense amount of pressure for a brief second before, with a comical *BOING* sound it pops and sends Maelstrom catapulting through the air towards Voice. "NINJA PEGASUS ATTACK!" the unicorn calls out.

Spearmint might want to flee in pretty much any direction or he, too, shall be taking part in the Ninja Pegasus Attack.

Spearmint, unfortunately, does not flee. He spends just a second too long trying to figure out what the hay was going on. The ground isn't supposed to move like this what the heAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!! /AAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!/ He flails and tumbles. Tiny VERY MUCH NOT PEGASUS pony-shaped cannonball. Wailing the whole way. It's either pathetic or adorable. Probably the latter.

Brume throws himself down against the road, narrowly managing to avoid being taken out by Maelstrom as the burly unicorn sails past. He looks about ready to cite Maelstrom for speeding as he lifts his head and opens his mouth, then ducks once more just in time to avoid getting clipped by Spearmint. "Now see here!" he calls after the blind colt. "Maelstrom does not set an example one should follow!"

"Oh no! TINY PONY!" Whistlestop barrels after Spearmint, trying to stop his roll. Unfortunately, also rolling is the cart attached to him. WHUMPA BUMPA WHUMP WHUMP. "Come back tiny pony!" he wails in the confusion.

A few moments after Magpie starts cutting the ropes loose, there's a *chop* on the other side of the tree. A moment after THAT, Spindrift leans around to see who started cutting the ropes before she got a chance. Her eyes widen and she eyes Magpie in a far more critical fashion than is probably necessary. "Who are you?" she almost accuses. She then glances up to see unicorns and earth ponies flying and EXPLOSIONS ON PARADE, frowns, and ducks back behind the tree, because this is seriously more nuts than she bargained for.

Skyflower is, for the moment, keeping her head down after having set off the fireworks. Get in a fight? Don't be silly.

"Cuz' bad ponies had me!" Daffy chirps to the well-disguised Magpie, stretching out once the ropes are cut loose. "Thank you! Those were really starting to chafe. So uh, what now? Run? Oh hi Mystery Mare!" The yellow colt waves at Spindrift as she ducks right back behind the tree!

Speaking of way too nuts to follow. Fury seems to recover her wits first. Or at least, stops cowering first. But now she's the equivalent of a blue ping-pong ball, bouncing all over the place from the remnants of the explosions and smoke, ending up somewhere in the air. Panicked, wide-eyed, and with a pointy thorn thing sticking out of her flank. Ouch! That was certainly a lot more than she bargained for!

Voice, on the other hoof, is a little slower in getting back on her hooves, realizing that all those explosions may not have been quite so deadly. She lifts her head, immediately ducks it again as Maelstrom comes flying in! "Whah! You insane jerk! This was not part of the —" SMACK! Spearmint ends up slamming into the armored pony's head, toppling the 'evil' unicorn right back onto her back again, her helmet toppling free to expose her dark blue mane, and more importantly, the element necklace she'd hidden within said helmet. "Oof…!"

Magpie ohs. She looks around. Then shouts, "RUN!" at Daffy and starts pushing and running herself!

Ruby knows an opportunity when she sees one, and well Spearmint's noggin was just given a floggin, and the poor dear might need help. The bigger of the two changlings darting out of the bushes towards Spearmint - intent on scooping up the foal before diving back into the woods. "Hopefully this craziness will die down so we can discuss some of this." she cries while barrelling into the chaos.

Spearmint rolls 1d10 (Roll to recover?) — Result: 5 | Sum: 5

And shortly after Spearmint smacks into Voice, the barreling pony WHAMS into her too, cart and all. This sufficiently waylays him from his task, as he's now in a huge heap. Necklace: revealed! Big lug: not at all aware. "Oohh…tiny pony is okay?" he hopes dizzily.

SMACK is right. Spearmint gives a winded "Oof!" of his own and sprawls. "Oooowwww…" What the hay just happened? He feels around dazedly, trying to figure out where he is. Ground! Sweet ground. /Hard/ ground, but hey. He can count up breaks and bruises later. This? What is this? …This is something. Something cool and metal and not-ground. He pokes at the thing his hoof has landed on. What is it the other ponies are looking for? Necklaces? This kinda feels like Momma's necklace. He drags it closer to himself and flumphs again. He'll get up! Eventually. Maybe. Ow.

Brume picks himself up off the ground, after checking to make sure he isn't about to be taken out by any more flying ponies, and then starts to scamper off towards the side of the road in search of Spindrift. He gets about five feet before a passing rocket clips him in the back of the skull and he topples forward with a grunt; the rocket spirals away and bursts with a flash in a nearby bush.

There's a whirl of generic sort of grey murk as Spindrift's cloak twirls dramatically around her when she ducks out from behind the tree to pursue Magpie and Daffodil. "I'll cover you. Run!" she says, at least when she gets the twirling folds of the cloak untangled from where they wrap themselves around her face. Note to self: practice dramatic entries.

Skyflower gets up from her crouched position and noticed the absence of the cart and concomittant absence of the stallion that was pulling it. "Whistlestop? Whistlestop, lamb, where did you go? Oh, dear, don't tell me you…" she looks up over the hill: he did. She starts running across the field to reach him and hopefully convince him to get away from all this chaos. It's only when she's closer that she sees the foal he saved.

From the shadows of the underbrush a shadowy black pony form darts across the madness and scoops up poor Spearmint admist all the confusion; darting back into the underbrush with what is /clearly/ it's lunch. The rustling of the bushes cease after a few moments and Ruby hushedly speakes "Spearmint. You awake? It's Ruby - there's alot to explain but I don't think I have time." pulling a couple of letters from her small pounch. "You listening Spearmint? You're my only hope!"

"Ooohhh…" Whistlestop is busy pinning the bad guy by virtue of being knocked silly. The cart is overturned, and the big lug attached is sort of sprawled on Voice. "Birdy…c'mere birdy…" Grble.

"Clever girl!" Maelstrom shouts as Voice ducks under his totally-out-of-nowhere attack. "But not as clever as I am!" With another glow of his horn the tree he's about to impact begins to shine. Instead of stopping the unicorn like a… well, like a tree when he hits it, it bends almost in half with a rubbery stretching sound. "Let's try that one AGAIN!" he calls out as it *SPROING*s upright once again, sending Maelstrom careening back towards Voice.

Who is now on the ground in a big heap along with Spearmint and Whistlestop and OH GOD WHY IS THAT CART STUCK UPRIGHT LIKE THAT.

There's a spectacular crunching of unicorn on cart as Maelstrom lands square in the bed of the upturned vehicle, flipping it over in not one, not two, but THREE somersaults through the air before landing gracefully on its wheels.

After several seconds he lifts his head out of the cart dizzily. "Wha…?"

The cart proceeds to fall apart, each wheel coming loose simultaneously and the sides collapsing when the body hits the ground.

Voice is run over a second time! Whistlestop and his cart barrel through, sending the knightpony flying! Literally! Only this time the flying pony is caught by Fury, glaring down into the chaos that was supposed to be /their/ ambush. "We better dash…" Fury huffs, not even waiting for Voice to acknowledge this sign of retreat before zooming off over the forest!

Poor Nightmare Ponies. Didn't stand a chance against the chaos that is Horseshoe Harbor.

Daffodil's all sorts of happy to join the bunches of friendly faces, post-rescue. "I tried to tell them I had a lot more friends! And that they were dumb! But they didn't listen. That'll teach'em!"

Spearmint blinks dazedly. Wah! Lifted again. He squirms a bit. This is just not his day. He manages to cling onto the necklace, though! At least he hopes it's a necklace. It could be some random chain or something for all he knows. And then there's whispering. His ears twitch. "…Ms. Ruby? …I th-thought I heard you… but… but you're disappeared."

Magpie staggers a bit and giggles at Daffodil. She slows her gallop to a canter, then to a trot as she looks around and determines that there's nopony trying to actually attack her now. She flops on the ground on her back and waves her legs up at the sun. "Suuuuuun!" she cheers, utterly forgetting that she's a monster at the moment.

Skyflower catches up with Whistlestop and, as it turns out, Spearmint and Ruby. "Oooh, Whistlestop, you brave, brave stallion you! I was /ever/ so worried! Please don't ever run off like that again!" Then she looks at the 'Changeling.' "And what are you, pray? I can tell you're not on there side, but I don't think I've ever seen anything like you before."

With the sounds of mayhem slowly diminishing, Thunnini poles her way around the hill. Her go-cart is much easier to move around with, but it's not exactly something you can park on a hill, so the seapony had effectively been back in the third line. "Is Daffy okay?" she calls as she starts coming back into view of the main group of ponies… and a… what *is* that thing flopping around on its back, anyway?

The changling disguised Ruby continues to whisper - totally afraid she's going to get blown-up again. "It's a really, really long story. But I'm assuming your new friends aren't from around here - clearly that foal is Daffodil, right?" she waves her hoofs frantically - a mute gesture considering. "We found a portal between the worlds - sadly the other side is infested with zombies. Think you can get your friends to all sit still long enough for me to talk?"

Spindrift's pursuit of Daffy and Magpie slows up as they do. Turns out there's not much coverage needed, what with Team Nightmare blasting off agaaaaaain. The tall mare watches the two young ponies for a moment, then frowns. Sun? She whirls to face Brume. "Brume! Come here!"

Brume, skittering about and waiting for the next thing to bounce off his skull, shakes off his fluster and gallops over to join his companion.

Spindrift turns back towards Magpie and Daffodil. "The sun? It surprises you? Explain!"

"Skyflowerrrrr!" It's a recent development that Skyflower is 'Skyflower' and not 'Pretty Pink Pony.' He's learning. Slowly. "I—" WHUMPF!! He's suddenly vaulted into the air as Maelstrom impacts the cart, wings buzzing uselessly and reflexively, before the harness snaps and he's sent crashing back to the ground with a mighty THUD. "I'm a p-pretty ponyyyyy…" he burbles, eyes spinning.

Magpie hmm? "Oh, we've been stuck in this stupid horrible cold place for like a MONTH. I guess it's like a different Equestria where Nightmare Moon won and made it always nighttime and all they have to eat are these really bad blue leaves and… Oh, but we found a way back! Y'know if we can get past all the zombies. And the creepy little filly."

Maelstrom looks up blearily from amidst the wreckage of the cart. "Hey, I like those blue leaves…" he warbles.

Spindrift watches Magpie intently, listening with unbroken attention, drinking in every word. For several long moments she waits, afterwards… and then she smiles.

Brume's eyes widen, and he takes a step back from Spindrift.

Spindrift turns to call out to Maelstrom, then eye the other outlander ponies in turn. "A link to your world must have been established. What we have here are ponies from this town that were taken there, and have now returned." She turns to eye Magpie once more, then looks up, across and to the OTHER 'Changeling.' "Tell us where this portal is."

Spearmint blinks again. "Uh… y-yeah? I… think." He shakes his head slightly. "I d-dunno what's goin' on, but… but you l-live here, 'course you can talk to ponies…" This is all very confusing.

Ruby-Blossom picks up Spearmint, and places the smaller pony on her back before cautiously peeking out of the bushes. She trots carefully out of hiding and pipes up "Whistlestop? It's me. Ruby - the ruby-eyed pony." eyes darting around for any signs of incoming blasts or ponies. "Yeah, I totally don't know the rest of you. I mean clearly that's Daffodil, and the lunkhead there." pointing to Malestrom "Professor said you'd be a lunkhead." She sets Spearmint down close to the rest of the group. "We need to explain some things, and quickly. I'm not comfortable leaving Kludge alone all this while.

Outside of the zombie-infested Hive in the Nightmare World, Kludge sneezes.

Spindrift eyes Magpie insted when she says this because she looked for the Other Changeling and COULD NOT FIND HER.

Daffodil bounces. "See? SEE? I told you all we'd find a way to get ponies back! And a way back home! I knew it, I knew it~"

The changeling formerly known as Ruby adds "Hey I don't know /who/ you are. So why should I tell /you/ anything - well I mean, you are hanging out with these guys." motioning to Daffodil and Maelstrom. "Hold it, everypony hold it. I think we have some heavy things to consider first." planting her flank.

Magpie huhs? Looks up at Spindrift. "Oh, it's, uh…" She casts her gaze about, then waves vaguely. "There's a cave thingy over there somewhere. It's an old changeling hive, I think." Pause. "Oh! Right!" She spits out her fake pointy fangs and starts rubbing at her face, smearing the paint. "I'm not a changeling," she says by way of explanation.

"Ruby-pony!" Whistlestop's eyes stop spinning a little bit, before he squints at the changeling-disguised pony. "You…don't look like ruby-eyed pony. You look like a bug." Squint.

Monsoon staggers up from where he crashed earlier, blinking. "A way back home?" And Spectre poofs and reappears, hugging Ruby's neck. "Home!! HOME!!!"

Bonfire scrambles over, half-dragging a still-slightly-dazed-from-this-whole-thing Hearth along. "You know a way home? It can get us back? Where?"
Magpie adds after a moment, "Uh… it's kinda… messy in there. Sorry. We had to kill a zombie. Uh… rekill? ANd I kinda got sick in the corner. Sorry again." After a long moment she adds, "Did you know those leaves stay blue..?"

Magpie 's paint doesn't smear. O.o

"Comb? Nah, my mane's too short for that," Maelstrom says unsteadily as he pulls himself back up to his feet. You'd think a hard-headed pony like him would be able to take serious cranial trauma a bit better than that! "…did I win?" he asks as he looks around awkwardly.

Spindrift's sea-green eyes blaze. She doesn't smile, but she radiates satisfaction to hear all of this.

Brume's smiling, too. His delight is genuine and obvious as he watches Spectre's reaction.

Ruby-Blossom raises her voice "Oi! Please somepony listen to me!" stomping a hoof an infintile manner. "I know we're all very excited - but this thing leads right into the heart of the hundead. I mean, you ponies live in that other world. Do the undead ring a bell? Not much good without a plan. Can we come up with a plan? Can we?" cheesey-evil changling smile.

"They're not too good at ringing bells, if they swing their arms too hard they fall off," Maelstrom says somewhere between knowingly and still trying to figure out where he is.

Undead. Monsoon blinks and frowns. "Uh oh. Shamblers. Okay… that is a problem. Maybe that's where they've been coming from on this side, then. Hrm."

Magpie wonders, "could we trick them into an arm-wrestling contest?"
Whistlestop says "I am good at wrestling!"

"Uh… Duh?" Daffy tilts his head, staring up at Ruby. "We all dress up like zombies, and they ignore us. That's what we do /every/ Nightmare Night! That still works, doesn't it?"

Spearmint flops out again. GROUND. He is quite glad to be on it, and he's gonna hold onto it for a while. He's looped the probably-necklace around one hoof, still holding onto it in the hopes it's useful. "…Zombies? Like… th-those things on Nightmare Night?" he asks uneasily, tilting an ear.

Thunnini isn't too concerned about the discussion, but she is glad to see that Daffy is safe. The fact that Spearmint is looking a bit woozy has her concerned, though, so she poles over to Spearmint. "You okay, Spearmint?" she asks when she gets close enough.

Magpie nods to Daffy, "Well, it works on the zomzoms pretty well, but that creepy filly shows up…? She blew Pinkie Pie's cover and almost got us all eaten.

Ruby-Blossom rubs her forehead with one hoof while watching the madness - yeah, definately home; and it looks like all the crazy ponies from the otherside wound up /here/. "I mean there's alot going on, on the other side. We've been engaged with Will and Eyes, and the zombies have this weird evil queen like thing going on." she frowns - which still looks menacing considering she looks like a changling with a broken horn; certainly this mare is a pain in Fury's flank. "Yeah, exatly." she points to Maggie. "I think. Oh!" she pulls out two letters "I wrote a lot of stuff down, important stuff." she glances at all available parties before bumping one letter against Spearmint's nose. "Get this to Rising, please. Sadly she's the only pony I could think of to ask for help around here." she waves the other letter. "I wrote alot of stuff down for you offworld ponies too - but clearly I'm not giving it to /you/." glaring at Malestrom.

Spindrift's exultant gaze darkens like a stormcloud at the mention of Rising Chaaos. She shoots a look at Brume, then, but he is tactfully not facing Spindrift's direction at the time. Spindrift fumes, then turns back towards Ruby. "We've fought the undead before and we can do it again," she practically barks. "This explains where they came from when they overran the town here. Don't worry- we're experienced by now."

Spearmint blinks. Letter in face! He does the only logical thing: nom. Okay, well, he doesn't properly nom it, but he takes it. And sets it beside him, one hoof over it, 'cause it's hard to talk with a mouthful of paper. "Yeah… I think so," he answers Thunnini, relieved to hear a friendly voice. "…I don't like flying. But… I found a thing. I think."

Hearth blinks, trying to take all of this in. This is a lot of information at once! A way home, what all's going on over there, all these strange ponies… She perks her ears at the letter. "Oh! Oh, um… may I see that? Please?" She asks, edging forward. Maelstrom probably shouldn't have it anyway. He's still looking kind of dazed, she thinks. They'd have to check him over and make sure he was alright! In a moment. "Or you can give it to him," she offers, pointing to Monsoon. In case she doesn't look trustworthy enough! Surely Monsoon looks most trustworthy of them all.

Magpie pats at Ruby's hoof. "Aww, don't be sore. You've been shot at LOTS of times!"

Ruby-Blossom 's tone will certainly come off as a tad condescending when she replies to Spindrift. "Glad to hear you're experienced at killing a undead pony or two - that makes you a perfect canidate to make sure no more come through." She glances to Maggie "Don't forget stabbed in the neck." she huffs before handing the letter to Hearth without hesitation. "Did you guys find all the elements?" glancing down to Spearmint who's been holding one the whole time - she hefts it up and holds it out "Is this one?" The mare asks with genuine curiously "Have you got them all? Kinda needed to help put a damper on Moon.

Maelstrom is starting to gather his wits. "Hey, I can read," he says defensively as Ruby denies him the chance to see the letter. "Professor Redmane wouldn't let me hear the end of it until I learned." He proceeds to get all up in Hearth's business and try to read over her shoulder. "Open it up, what's it say?"

Daffy's way to hopped up on being right to care about more serious concerns like HOW or WHAT. At least until he catches up to Spearmint and Thunnini, his ears perking. "A thing..?" He glances down…up? at Spearmint's catch. And gasps! "My element! Oh wow! I get rescued, we find a way home, AND I get my element back!"

Indeed the little yellow colt is bouncing in place, beaming at the necklace! Sun gem and everything! "Best day ever!"

As Spearmint is lifted off of the ground, Thunnini yelps and holds onto Spearmint in an effort to keep him from falling… even if this does pull her partway out of her go-cart.

Magpie giggles at Daffodil's infectious enthusiasm and sweeps him up into a hug. But then she seriouses up. "Hey. You don't /have/ to go back there, y'know?"

Ruby-Blossom 's ruby-red eyes blink. "Oh hey, before I forget. Does anypony have some sandwhiches?" eyes daring around hopefully.

AAAAAHH up again. Spearmint gives a dazed little wail. This is not a good day. "I don't know what it iiiis, I just f-found it, is it good?" Squirm. But he valiantly holds onto his find.

As Elements are discussed by this ruby-eyed upstart who thinks she can just swan in and save the day, Spindrift remains mum. She looks to Brume. Brume furrows his brow and looks to Hearth, whose Element he holds in his bags… but is not yet revealing. Clearly he is waiting for an indication from her on what should be done.

"I like sandwiches!" Whistlestop adds. Because he is very helpful. And he has a nice little pack of them that Skyflower prepared in advance.