The Belly Of The Beast
IC date: Spring 73, 1007
OOC date: June 2, 2012
PCs: Blackbird, Rusty-Gears, Mad-Mare
NPCs: Bazi, Talhia
GM: Gamble

It hasn't been long since Mad-Mare visited Blackbird — half an hour, perhaps? An hour? But now there's the sound of hooves galloping down the pier. Eight of 'em! In the time since they've left Rusty's, a plan's been not exactly hatched, but… well, sorta discussed a little. And that brings us to now, as Blackbird abandons all sense in favor of melodrama. He races to the end of the pier and LEAPS, skidding onto the deck with a shout. "MAD-MARE, I DEMAND TO SEE SADAKA!"

Gallopgallopgallop LEAP! Luckily, Rusty's fit enough to make the jump without much trouble — and mad enough to do it with no hesitation. She skids to a stop beside Blackbird, tail twitching as she looks around uneasily, frowning.
Wouldn't you know it? Maddie's, like, /right there/! On deck! Discussing something with another minion. So she's quite surprised at the sudden interruption by another /crazy/ pony! Both of her ears perk right up, the most delighted look shining in her insane eyes, turning to regard the new arrival like an insect collector might study a new discovery in a jar.

"Well, well, well! This is a pleasant surprise. I didn't expect you here for at /least/ another couple hours. Is…Oh." One eyebrow lifts, regarding Rusty with much the same sort of look. Her voice slips into a deadpan tone, the plucky inventor-type just bringing back so many memories of sharp circular objects. "I see. You must've helped. How..nice to have..Friends. So!" The pleasant tones return, Maddie making a gesture across the deck to a few nearby cushions. "Your demands have been heard, and I'm afraid I can not acquiesce to your request at this time. She's busy with her mother. However, if you like, I'd be /happy/…" and she stresses this word, greatly, "…to invite her father up here to chat with you. Will that do?"

Blackbird sticks close to Rusty, but he bristles nonetheless. He advances a few steps toward Mad-Mare, glowering dangerously at her, even though his heart is pounding against his chest. "How do I know you even have her? For all I know, you could be running your mouth off just to tick me off!"

Rusty-Gears stands back a bit, content for now to just observe, though she does spare a dark glare for Maddie. She looks rather on edge, ignoring the cushions and glancing around for any goons trying to be sneaky.

Maddie stares at Blackbird, her head slightly dipped enough to give the teacher-type a very incredulous look. "I'm shocked. Astonished, even!" She starts to pace, taking patient tones in the small back and forth she travels across the deck. "Obviously you have the wrong impression here. At what point have I given you the impression that I'm a liar? Murderous, yes. Violent, definitely. Willing to throw my own minions lives away like candy, for sure! But a liar? I don't have to lie." She turns to face both of her 'guests', her smile as sweet and fake as ever. "Do you have /any/ idea how much digging I would have had to do to make this up? How many goons I had to pump for information and rumors after I had this /adorable/ family dropped practically into my lap?"

The mare shrugs, making another gesture to the pillows. "Think what you want~ My offer is the father for a talk. You want to see Sadaka, you'll have to come back when she isn't busy."

Blackbird rolls 1d10 (Okay. How stupid are you going to be, Blackbird? :|) — Result: 1 | Sum: 1

(OOC) Blackbird: Oh dear god.
(OOC) Blackbird double-facehoof all the way.
(OOC) Gamble: In for a penny, in for a pound?
(OOC) Blackbird: Apparently!
(OOC) Rusty-Gears: XD oh come on. is Rusty gonna have to save your life?

Blackbird rolls 1d10 (Is Rusty going to have to save your life?) — Result: 6 | Sum: 6

(OOC) Blackbird: She's gonna have to cart him off at some point, I think. XD

Blackbird rolls 1d10 (Just double-checking, how bad is this 1 I rolled?) — Result: 2 | Sum: 2

(OOC) Blackbird headdesk. XD
(OOC) Gamble: I have always believed that +roll systems in MUSHes have a mind of their own, and a love of comedy.
(OOC) Blackbird nodnods. XD
(OOC) Rusty-Gears: just don't die, Blackbird.
(OOC) Rusty-Gears: that'd kiiiinda put a damper on plotthings. XD
(OOC) Blackbird: Not to worry, there'll be no death. Just a really stupid colt.

Blackbird narrows his eyes, staring Mad-Mare straight in the eye. "I've known ponies like you, Mad. They sparkle and shine and flutter, because deep down — or maybe not deep down at all — you're broken and the only way you can put the pieces together is all the tape and gum you can muster up from a fake smile or a pretty look. I don't trust a word from ponies like you, Mad. Not a single word. Because no matter how much you wax the apple, it still has a rotten core." Speech? Okay then. But he backs up toward the cushions, looking as though he's going to sit…before making a sudden mad dash toward the nearest stairs that go down into the belly of the ship. ZOOM. THIS WAS NOT PART OF THE PLAN, BLACKBIRD.

Rusty-Gears gives a faint squeak of surprise, freezing up for a moment. NO THIS WAS NOT THE PLAN, BLACKBIRD. But no way is she letting him run in alone, so doing her best to act like this WAS part of the plan, she scrambles after him as quickly as she can.

This night has been very surprising! Entertaining, even. When Blackbird moves to charge past her, and down the nearest entryway leading down into the ship, she doesn't lift so much as a hoof to stop him. Why should she? He's about to charge his way through a largely empty ship, looking for a hurt and abused filly, and what's he going to find?

The thought puts a very wicked, and genuine grin on the Mare's lips, focusing on Rusty when she follows suit. "They're on the second deck, cabin four. I strongly suggest knocking first~" she calls to the racing ponies, loping along for her part. She wants to get there at just the right moment, see. Just so she can throw a few of those nasty words back in Blackbird's face.

Inside the ship, things really are rather quiet. Most of the goons are either inside their cabins, at their posts, or still very much wounded and getting treated in the bottom of the ship. So if they actually did follow Maddie's last instructions, they would get to the proper cabin without so much as a raised eyebrow from a Syndigoon. Though they would certainly get a very weird look from the very sturdy-looking zebra whom happens to be standing outside of that cabin.

If they chose to ignore her instructions? They could get very lost… It's a prety big ship, after all!

Blackbird's ears flick back just in time to hear those words, and he makes a beeline for that part of the ship. Because he has no better ideas as to where he should go, and well…no matter where they run it's pretty much going to be a trap. But hopefully, Mad is ~entertained~. Either way, the teacher runs at top speed, racing past open doors and through archways until he skids /straight/ toward said sturdy zebra. Lucky for the two of them, he stops a mere few inches away. "Step aside," he demands darkly.

Rusty-Gears scrambles after him, frowning a bit at Maddie's words but making no attempt to change course. Even if she'd wanted to, she was following Blackbird! And he was going thataway. Her eyes flicked back and forth as they ran; she was doing her best to remember the way they'd come. After all, she was pretty sure they'd have to flee back at some point.

Bazi, for that is the zebra standing guard outside of the proper cabin, casts a baleful gaze at the fast approaching colt. The demand thrown at him is met with a deep frown. His head lowers, giving a single, dangerous snort at Blackbird's dark demeanor, one hoof aggressively pawing the ship's flooring. "Who are you to be making demands on my room? I will only ask once…"

Blackbird stamps a hoof and paws at the ground, lowering his head right back, glaring eye-to-eye with the zebra. "My name is Blackbird, and I am here to get my child back," he growls lowly, all a-bristle. "/Step aside/."

Rusty-Gears skids to a stop behind him, ears back and teeth gritted, looking ready for a good scrap, though she was admittedly still appearing on-edge. Just waaaaiting for something to go wrong. Whether or not she was waiting worriedly or waiting /eagerly/, though, was anypony's guess; just because she looked nervous didn't mean she also wasn't looking just a little bit excited.

"/Your/ child?" Bazi asks, eyes going wide. Some hint of recognition clicks in the zebra's mind. Blackbird. Sadaka had asked about Mr. Blackbird. So this colt…

The threat disappears as though it was never there, but the big zebra doesn't move. Nor does he stop frowning. Or bowing his head, for that matter. He just closes his eyes, head lowered a tiny bit more, perhaps out of some sort of reverence. "…My apologies, Mr. Blackbird. But I can not step aside right now. /My/ child is resting. She has had a long and tiring day and should not have visitors right now." His eyes open, the stallion standing at his tallest height. "But she would very much like to see you again. …And Talhia and I would permit this. If it makes her happy."

Blackbird glares, bristles, and just looks all manner of dangerous… But then Bazi speaks. And he sounds /normal/. And like he legitimately cares for Sadaka. His eyes un-narrow, though he doesn't stop staring into Bazi's eyes. Searching them a little, maybe. "Fair enough," he says slowly. "Your child. You're her father?"

Rusty-Gears turns to look up at the zebra, frown fading slowly as he speaks. He… sounded… well, sane. Almost… nice, even? That was… unexpected. She tilts an ear curiously, opening her mouth to ask a question, but Blackbird beat her to it — probably for the best, it's more his place to speak in this situation anyways. She'd settle for just observing, trying to pick up any useful information she could.

"I am." Bazi states, with no small amount of pride. "I am Bazi, Mr. Blackbird. My mate and I saved Sadaka from drowning after her and her friends foolishly tried to attack this ship…" The stallion glances towards the cabin door, then to Blackbird. Slowly he steps back, now that the white colt's calmed down some, gaze flicking back towards Rusty too. "If..you are quiet, you may look. Maybe you will be lucky and Talhia has not completely put her to sleep yet.

Maddie has caught up at this point, but she's hanging back towards the end of the hallway. A tearful reunion~ What will Blackbird think when he sees his ex-charge safe and sound? And still in her clutches? Will he try to wrest her away from her real parents? Will he become a villain? Or will he finally feel the weight of inevitibility and realize the true 'trap' this situation has become?

Either way, she expects this to be fun to watch. And this time she actually brought a snack with her!

Confusion wars in Blackbird's gaze now, as Bazi indeed seems sane, and nice, and almost … /normal/. But he straightens, relaxing that defensive stance. "Nice to meet you, Bazi," he replies, his words slow and cautious. "I'm…the schoolteacher in these parts." Still, his brow ticks up in surprise: "Attacked? This ship? But Sadaka's terrified of /baths/, much less the ocean. Why in the world would she do /that/?"

The teacher looks to Rusty, communicating his confusion, before looking back at the door and the zebra beside it. "I…would appreciate that, honestly. I just— … I'd appreciate that."

Rusty-Gears shares his confused gaze, biting her lip hesitantly. That story didn't sound quite… right… how do a bunch of little fillies attack a blockade ship? But what was ever logical in this town. She eyes the zebra uncertainly and edges a bit closer to Blackbird. If this was a trap, she wanted to be ready.

Bazi can only shrug in response to the question of /why/. "Apparently she was pretending to be a pirate…" he offers. He then reaches for the doorhandle with his teeth to give it a soft click open, nudging it with a hoof and poking his head inside to give his mate the heads-up.

When he removes himself from the doorway, he nudges the cabin door wider open, allowing Blackbird and Rusty to see inside, where Talhia sits next to the lower bunkbed, which they've apparently made into Sadaka's bed, looking suitably cautious about having strange visitors around their newly found daughter. But if Bazi says it's alright…

Blackbird's brows knit and he frowns. Though it was /entirely/ uncharacteristic of Sadaka to play pirate, it was all too in-character for her friends. But he doesn't comment, feeling his heart ache (couldn't protect her, yet again, yet again). He leans in to look, and try to get a peek at his wayward ward, as quietly as he can — though he gives a gracious, tiny nod to Talhia by the bunk.

The little zebra was sprawled out on the cot, hugging her pillow as she slept. She doesn't /look/ unwell. Admittedly a few bruises and bumps from the shipboard battle, but nothing serious, and she'd cleaned up well after her dunk in the ocean.

Rusty peers in over Blackbird's shoulder, giving a small sigh of relief to see Sadaka looking little the worse-for-wear.

Everything would look so much better if it weren't for that darn oppressive 'This is a Bad Ship' mood, wouldn't it? And yet, this room, with the zebra family, seems like a sanctuary against the madness of the Mad Mare's domain. Such is the power of affection! It sure seems authentic.

With Sadaka asleep, and Talhia being watchful over her, Bazi gives the two visiting ponies a quiet nudge. "She has spoken favorably of you, Mr. Blackbird. We should both be thankful Sadaka had good support while she was here."

Blackbird gazes in at the sleeping zebra, banged up but sleeping peacefully. He looks concerned, relieved, and very, very confused, but he leans back again, dipping his head with a wan smile. "It was my pleasure to care for her. She was living in a tree stump at the edge of the forest. It's not a good place for a foal."

Green eyes lift to flick their gaze over the ship surroundings, over to Mad-Mare standing far off to the side with her snack, and back to Bazi. "How did you come to be with the Syndicolt?" he asks carefully. "You seem…normal." Y'know, as opposed to Mad over there.

Gamble rolls 1d10 (How closely is Maddie listening, anyway?) — Result: 7 | Sum: 7

"And opposed to the /other/ goons we've met," Rusty added, giving a deferent nod to Bazi quickly. "No offense. Not saying you're goons. But we've had a few… encounters and they haven't been great. Sort of felt like there was nopony sane on these ships."

Normal. Maddie snorts. Which makes Bazi's stance stiffen, muscles rippling nervously. Blackbird may be able to get away with saying what he wants, but Bazi will have to choose his words carefully right now. One glance towards the Mad-Mare, and then Bazi dips his head to make it at least harder to listen in on them. Even in the otherwise empty silence of the ship halls. "How we got here is a long and painful story, and one we will be happy to share sometime. For now, let it be enough to say that sometimes desperate times lead to desperate decisions that you can not always back out of."

The Mad Mare snorts again. Laughing as quietly as she can, no doubt, around her snack. Mmm, sandwiches~

The question of sanity seems to make Bazi close his eyes wearily, the zebra stallion eyeing Rusty with a sidelong glance, "It is not my place to say where the Syndicolt gets their talent. Some of them do it because they want to. Those are the ones that are usually seen with the dirtiest jobs. They like their work…"

"Some of them like it too much." Talhia quips quietly from the safety of the cabin itself.

"Others, like us, had to choose the lesser of two evils. It is..hard to complain when you are well taken care of. And it did lead is to finding our daughter again." Now Bazi's head turns to Blackbird. "What price would /you/ pay if you were in our place?"

Blackbird stares back at Bazi as he listens, and he nods, extending a forehoof to rest on the zebra's shoulder. "I understand," he replies quietly. "And I also know that if you /can/ escape from it, it's a hard life, but a free one." He steps back, looking again into the room, before looking back at the zebra, as he steps closer to Rusty. "Keep her safe," he says. "And don't… don't let her become like the other ponies on this boat. She's a gentle, curious soul, and she could easily… Marauding is not the life for her."

Rusty-Gears nods slowly, laying her ears back a bit. She… didn't like this, but what could they do? …Actually she could think of plenty they could do, but not with Mad standing right down the hall eavesdropping. /Rude/. At least these two seem alright… she still didn't want to leave Sadaka here, but maybe she'd be guarded well until they could think of some way /to/ pull an escape.

Rude? Who's the one that barged in when Maddie so obviously was stating the truth about everything? Hmph. Good thing she can't read thoughts. The Mad Mare does, however, amble her merry way closer to the group now that she's finished snacking, clearing her throat to announce her obvious presence. She's mindful of the sleeping filly at least, keeping her voice down.

"Well? Are you two satisfied?" One brow arches, Maddie looking from Blackbird, to Rusty, and then up to Bazi. "We'll have to start training her on a few things beginning tomorrow, you realize. I can't have any weak links on my ship." Then, to Blackbird and Rusty, the fake smile resumes. "If you two are quite done here, I believe you have plans to make, hm? Don't disappoint me now…" With that said, she steps aside to allow the two intruding ponies their chance to escape. Before Maddie has a change of heart.

Blackbird's sympathetic look turns cold and hard, when Maddie speaks up. And though fury starts to claw at his chest, he clamps his mouth shut and channels it instead into a loud stomp. "We'll be going," he all but snaps, though he obviously wants to say more. He turns and bumps flanks with Rusty, starting to walk past Mad with the worry that she might turn and incite a need to escape from the ship rather quickly.

Rusty-Gears is unable to stop herself from glaring at Mad darkly but also manages to keep her mouth shut — mostly, she does give a faint snort at her words. So many retorts in mind. Can't say any of them. /Torture/. She blinks at the bump but takes the hint, following close behind Blackbird.

Watching the incenced pair stomp and storm off, the Mad Mare grins at their flanks, and then up at the big ol' zebra stallion. "Really it's sweet that all four of you have some kind of bond for a drowned filly, but I do hope you remember who you work for and where your loyalties lie, my dear cannoneer. Have the runt report to me when she wakes up. She's got a busy day ahead…"

Bazi grunts, getting as stonefaced as an equine can get. "Yes…boss." he mutters, but doesn't move until Maddie leaves the cabin area to plot more nefarious plots. Only then does he feel safe enough to enter the cabin with the other two zebras, shutting the door on the rest of the world!

Blackbird and Rusty will have no problem leaving the ship at this point. Maddie has no reason to stop them. She got what she wanted, and there will be more fun to come!