The Bucket Brigade
IC date: Fall 76, 1007
OOC date: December 4, 2012
PCs: Jellybean, Magpie, Nocturne, Rising-Chaos, Seaside-Sunset, Sky-Sparkler, Windsplitter
NPCs: Autumn Dust, Codex
GM: Spindrift

As the waning weeks of Fall play out, the air grows cooler by the day- but subtly so. Winter itself won't arrive until the ponies up and say it will, but the Curtain of Snow is soon, and one can already feel the chill building up behind it. The skies are partially overcast, but it does little to help trap the thin heat cast by a sun that skids lower over the horizon by the day. Though it is only afternoon, it feels much darker than it should.

Still, the ponies of Horeshoe Harbor continue to go about their business. Here away from the docks and the sharpened edge the season lends the moods of the sea, things are a bit busier. With no ships to moor for the winter, no sailors on furlough sitting idle on clammy hooves and dwindling purses, things look as normal as ever. Many shops are still open, their light spilling out across the early-arriving murk that creeps across the streets.

Here in the town square in particular, it's a bit more relaxed, but ponies still criss-cross the plaza on their way to and from errands. Seafoam's fountain bubbles away, and a group of foals is gathered near its base, huddled around a game they're playing. Nearby, an earth pony mare sells gourds from the back of a cart, which is nice if you like gourds.

Winter may not be here but there /is/ weather to be dealt with. Overcast skies are an art, you see, and Jellybean wants to prove that even if he's a foal right now he can help with the big pony work. Right now this involves him flying just over the town square and blowing errant wisps of cloud cover into appropriate shapes using wing-buffets or great big breaths of air. He looks maybe a little woozy doing it.

The thing about Winter coming when you tell it to is that you only tell it to when you're good and ready for it. Which is why Sky Sparkler is doing an inspection of the town, looking at the roofs to see if they look like they will hold up under the expected load. So far it all looks good… As do the gardens.

As for Windsplitter, ever since coming back to a devestated town he's decided to do whatever he can to be helpful. There's plenty of work to be done after all, and lending a strong back in exchange for a few bits is something he is well familiar with. Today though finds him between jobs, the dust-faded pony sauntering along on his own time for the moment And deciding to spend some of those hard-earned bits on a snack, making his way over to the gourd cart.

No need to fear Seaside-Shimmer and Tropical-Sunset are here! Seriously, the twins are absolutely harmless unless you're looking for a part-time job; the mare-pair have occupied their time these past couple months by filling just about every part-time job in town - this leaves their saddle-bags as jolly as their spirits as they trot down the road. "Are you sure we can't buy new gowns?" "I totally want a new gown." a small frown. "But there's no point." "No fancy-pants balls are bound to happen." "Not soon." "Not here." the pair sigh "We need a boyfriend!" they cry in unison.

The winter weather, as expected, was certainly chilly; maybe not to everypony in town, but to someone as slim as Nocturne, it'll chill the bones. Walking back in the direction of his home, adorned in a new, plush, dark-blue jacket, he takes a moment to admire the town's seasonal happenings. It's always a pleasant site to see ponies leading their daily lives in spite of such misfortune to a town.

Gourds! There's lots of gourds at the cart for Windsplitter's perusal. Do you like cucumbers? There are lots of those. There's a few knobby gourds that look more like centerpieces than something somoene is supposed to eat. There's a few more fruity-colored melons, too, all laid out on a blanket spread out by the cart. The mare who manages it, brown colored and with a coat and hood on, flashes Windsplitter a smile as he approaches. She has an overbite. "Hi there! Lovely autumn weather, isn't it? I love the way the cold air gives everything a crisp smell."

The foals gathered near the fountain are shouting amongst themselves. "Catch it!" one of them squeals, and there's a rush of movement and a thump. There's a half-dozen of them, some of them familiar local faces, but three others identifiable as foals from the Nightmare World encampment to the north of town. Amidst the crowd of their legs, they can be seen toying with a bucket, and holding it down as if to trap something within. One of the outlander foals- an orange filly with a braided red mane- lifts the bucket up to peek underneath, then shrieks with a grin and slaps it back down. "It looked back at me!" she announces. The others ooh and ahhh. A big pegasus colt thumps the bucket with a hoof, eliciting a rattle of movement from within.

Down by the docks, a bell rings as a large freighter pulls out to sea, the shouts of sailors echoing through the streets as they see the large ship off from port.

You can really only expect so much responsibility out of a little foal, though, and after a few more minutes of work a red-faced and dizzy Jellybean is flying down to the ground and joining the foals. "What's that? Can I see? I wanna see!"

As it happens, Sky Sparkler ISN'T expecting much out of her boss. That's why she's doing the stuff where failure has a bigger cost. But even that comes to an end, and she finds herself following Jellybaby towards teh fountain. Not being too close, but keeping an eye on the foal.

"That it does!" Windsplitter agrees easily, offering the vendor a friendly smile. Turning his head to duck and rummage into his saddlebag and drawing out a coin pounch, holding it dangling from its drawstring with his teeth as he peers over her wares. "Let's see.. one of these, one of those….ah, those cucumbers look like they'll be -delicious-, I'll take one of those too… " Pausing though and peering over at the cheerful ruckus over by the fountain, his expression curious.

Rising-Chaos lays in one corner of the square, reading a book in the fine fresh air. She watches her surroundings carefully, looing for suspicious activity. The foals playing around causes her little concern, why should she get excited over some game they decide to play? She's more interested in the gourd salespony, whom she recognizes from a couple days ago.

Nocturne snaps back into focus after realizing that he had been staring in the general direction of group of foals playing with the bucket, his mind off in his own world. Reassessing the situation, he notices that they are being watched by a few other curious ponies. He thinks for a moment, imagining what they could be playing with. "Probably just a spider…" he mutters under his breath, and shudders. He decidedly takes a seat on a nearby bench, and wraps his jacket tightly with his magic to secure more warmth, keeping an occasional close eye on the children, hoping there's no need to invervene.

The gathered group of foals parts as Jellybean joins in. He is technically older than any of them, but he looks the part, so of course he's fit to join their ranks! The red-maned outlander filly, an earth pony, grins up at Jellybean, whom she recognizes. Her name is Autumn Dust, and she has a penchant for riding on sleds, and a missing front tooth. "We caught a mouse."

"It's not a mouse!" protests the big pegasus. He's mouthy, but doesn't seem like a bad sort, just bigger and stronger and louder than he realizes. "It doesn't have any feet. Or a tail. Or a body. It's just mouse-sized!"

Autumn Dust pffts, the sound whistling through the gap in her teeth. "Sounds like a mouse to me! Listen." All six foals shush and turn their heads, listening. Sure enough, whatever is trapped in the bucket squeak-squeak-squeaks, sort of like a mouse. It sure is… breathy for a mouse, though, each squeak rolling out like a little gust of wind.

The gourd vendor starts gathering up the veggies in short order, still grinning. "Ohh, I just love cucumbers," she clucks, setting one in a paper bag. "Do you like saltwatermelons?" She holds up a blue-green melon in one hoof. "Horseshoe Harbor has the -best- saltwatermelons, I think. It's the sea shanties coming in off the docks! The melons just love 'em. Gives them the perfect sweet and salty bite!" Crazy farmer or exotic magic pony gardening? You decide.

Magpie comes trotting over to the group of foals. As she approaches, she unconsciously straightens up, accentuating the several inches she has on them, and her voice takes on a big-sisterly bossiness. "What're you talking about? How can it not have a body?"

Jellybean listens to the squeaking sound and blinks. "Where'd you find it? I mean that kinda sounds like a mouse but it kinda doesn't. I don't know. I don't get mice in my house."

One voice pipes up to the side of Nocturne "Hi there." then an identical voice from Nocturne's other side "Hello!" The twins offering a friendly wave to the stallion that managed to take a seat between them without noticing. "Who are you?" "Must be new." "Must be." "Otherwise we'd have seen you." "We see like EVERYPONY." "Benefit of working so many different jobs." "Totally worth it!" The pair grinning before poking Nocturne curiously in the side.

Whether crazy or crafty — as in full of her craft — her sales pitch certainly has made an impression. "I don't believe I've ever tried those!" Windsplitter notes, blinking at the offered fruit. His attention neatly diverted back to his shopping; he raises a hoof, dropping his coin purse onto it and giving it a heft, judging its weight. " …er… perhaps a small one?" he suggests, looking embarassed. There are certain disadvantages to working only at odd jobs, after all.

"No feet, no body… what does it have?" Sky Sparkler asks, as she gets closer the foals. "Just a head?"

Nocturne nearly jumps out of his seat with a startled yelp, and looks to his left, then his right. His head must be a little cluttered from starting the day without any coffee, but he tries his best to say something. "Ehhmuh…" Pitiful, but a start nonetheless. "Hi," he says, once again looking back and forth, and looking back at the ground adds "Yeah, I, uh, don't know many ponies around here. My name's Nocturne. What's yours?"

Autumn Dust makes a face at Magpie. She recongizes her, too, from her homeworld, and so isn't THAT intimidated. (She -is- intimidated, though. Just a bit.) "It too has a body!" she says. The big pegasus scowls. "Does not!" The two go back and forth like this for a while, until a third filly- also an earth pony, with a sandy brown coat and a pale blonde mane- speaks up. "Uh, um-" The two squabbling foals fall quiet immediately and look at the third. She shuffles about bashfully. "J-just… just show them?" She glances up at Jellybean and Sky Sparkler. Autumn Dust and the pegasus look at eachother, then down at the bucket. The pegasus leans down to brace his hooves atop it, while Autumn glares at the others. "Be real quiet! If you spook it it'll run away and we'll have to chase after it again!"

The earth pony farmer chuckles at Windsplitter; her laughter sounds the throaty clucking of a content hen. "Sure, dear. How about half?" She produces half of one of the blue-green melons, sliced up the middle, its open side covered with a sheet of plastic wrap. For someone selling her wares out of the back of a wagon, she sure is well prepared. She, too, is a bit distracted by the nearby commotion of the foals, but aside from the occasional glance, she doesn't pay them much heed.

Rising-Chaos manages to hear snippets of the conversation, and is intrigued by the faols claims. Still she considers them to probably be baselss and continues to read and watch around the square.

Seaside-Sunset gently pokes Nocturne from the right, and no sooner does he look her way Tropical-Sunset pokes him from the left. "I'm Seaside-Shimmer." "I'm Tropical-Sunset." the pair virtually identical save for opposite mane and eye coloring! "We're twins." they chime in unison with a smile. "Oh! A musical cutie mark!" "Are you musician!?" "Do you play Rock n' Roll?" "We're not groupies." "Won't ever be groupies." "Sorry to get your hopes up."

Jellybean offers a serious little nod: he can be quiet, just watch! He looks at the bucket quietly. Serious. Seriousssssss.

Magpie 's horn glimmers faintly, ready to reach out and snatch the whatever-it-is back if it tries to run. If there's one thing she's good at, it's snatching. She peeks over at Autumn Dust and gives her a little nod of recognition. "Okay, go ahead."

Sky Sparkler nods to the foals. She can be quiet! So quiet she doesn't say anything in response! But she does prepare a mild electric charge, just in case. It shouldn't be harmful, unless the critter is a dust bunny.

Nocturne blushes faintly at the 'groupies' comment. "I'd never…" he mumbles, but shakes his head. "I just play, uh, classical guitar. Folky kind of stuff, I guess." His focus, however, is still on the group of foals, although his concern is reduced since a few familiar faces are involved. He figures that since somepony who knows everypony isn't concerned, it's not a big deal. "Uh, what about you guys? Do you do astrology or some'n?"

The twins look at their own flanks, and then at each others. "We do alot of things." "Cooking." "Baking." "Waiting." "Sewing." "Astrology." "Part-time jobs are fun." "Kind of our hobby." "It has it's benefits." The pair giggling. "How else will you meet nice stallions?" "Big stallions." "Handsome stallions. "Strong stallions." In unison the pair dreamily sigh. "Dreamy stallions.

Autumn Dust and the mouthy pegasus colt eyeball Sparkler- another pony Autumn recognizes from the Nightmare World- as well as Magpie and Jellybean a moment longer, then look back to the bucket. Slowly, carefully, the pegasus tilts it back, and the various foals creep back a bit, even as they kneel downward, eager for another glimpse at their quarry.

And underneath is… nothing.

Well, no. Not nothing. A few moments after nothing is revealed, a pair of tiny white pinpricks of light glimmer into being, and a little cloud of dust picks up off the ground to swirl around in a circle. The cloud describes a compact shape, about the size of a tomato, and soon it twists about, directing its little gleaming eyes about, looking at the gathered feet.

It then sits up, looks through the crowd, and stares directly at Sky Sparkler. Several of the foals ooooh and ahhhhh. The big pegasus looks ready to drop the bucket back down on the thing.

"Ah, perfect, thank you!" Windsplitter tugs the coin pouch's drawstring open, and counts out bits for the array he's chosen… which is going to end up leaving the thing mostly empty, unfortunately. But to him that's a welcome trade-off. Everypony needs to eat, after all, and savoring something as delicious as these saltwatermelons promise to be will certainly be worth a hooffull of coins. Helpfully pulling a length cloth from his saddlebag to have his purchases placed on, folding it up in a neat bundle and taking it up in his teeth once more. And bowing his head to the vendor once more before turning to pad over to the fountain, able now to satisfy his curioisty at just -what- is going on over here…

Magpie blinks. "What is it?" she asks immediately. "Is /that/ a dust bunny?" Maybe Sky Sparkler will need to hold on to that charge after all…

Sky Sparkler meets the creature's gaze, wordlessly staring into the cloud of dust. Slowly, she lets the gathered charge harmlessly dissapate behind her, the glow fading from her horn. Maybe it actually IS a dust bunny.

Could be, this game has about the same level of graphics as Beyond Zork.

Nocturne shakes his head, now in one of his hooves. As he looks back up, he stares in awe at the creature that seemed to have come out of nowhere. "Did you guys see that?" he asks with sudden vigor.

Magpie gasps! "Oh! Is it — is it one of those things? That's made out of stuff?"

"I don't know. Maybe?" Jellybean flaps his wings uncertainly. "It looks like something. Or maybe nothing. I don't know."

The dust bunny- as apt a term as any for the little animated cloud of debris- drops back down from its sitting-up posture and creeps forward. Aside from its lack of legs- it appears to just glide along the ground, form distending outward along the way- it certainly is mouse-like in its movements, front end nosing about as if sniffing at the ground. Rather abruptly, the pegasus colt spooks and drops the bucket back down over the creature. "It's gonna escape!" he says. "It's really fast! We barely caught it last time!"

"I wanna take it home!" says another foal in the back. "Me too! I wanna put a little hat on it!" says another. Autumn Dust beams a smile up at Magpie and the others, obviously quite proud of the catch, while the blonde filly shies back from the group. It's getting crowded and noisy. "We found it trapped underneath a clam shell," says Autumn Dust. "Someone drew a spiral on a wall and stuck a shell over it. Codex-" She gestures back at the shy filly- "poked it and it fell off and this thing came out. We're gonna teach it tricks. Nobody here knows what it is, though. None of you do?" She looks up at Sky Sparkler, who is the most adult one present around the group. "We don't have anything like this back in our world!"

It rattles around against the inside of the bucket and whistles like a breeze.

Nearby, the gourd vendor finishes counting up the coins from Windsplitter's purchase, and settles back. There's still plenty of daylight left. She does keep an eye on the group, though. This is all startng to seem a little familiar to her, though she can't place why…

Rising-Chaos has taken to watching the group of foals as well. The appearance of the VERY familiar little creature attracted her attention. She still watches from the sidelines though, even if the thing must be contained. No need to rush. She can always get it later.

"Mm?" Groceries firmly in — well, mouth — Windsplitter makes way to the edge of the group, peering this way and that beneatht he brim of his straw hat. Unfortunately by this time he's managed to draw close enough -just- in time to see a ratting bucket that everypony is putting up an odd amount of fuss over. And gives a questioning glance to either side, but remaining quiet for the moment as he watches…

"I heard a story one time from a sailor about a thing that was like made out of a rock but it was alive," Magpie puts in. "And he said there were other kinds, like water or things. They're… things that are made out of stuff. See?"

Jellybean peers at the thing curiously. "So it's made of stuff?" Then, of course, the bucket is closed. "I wonder if it's maybe just the breeze? It felt like wind. I think, anyway. It looks magic."

"I don't think I've seen anything like that before," Sky Sparkler says. "I've heard of things kind of like it, but…" Okay, so she wasn't good at her magic classes, and what she's half-remembering doesn't really apply. "Wait, did you say someone put the shell over it?" she asks, suddenly realizing another aspect of the mater.

Nocturne remains seated, awaiting an answer. Once again looking left and right, he sees that the twins have disappeared. "Huh," he mutters. "Must'a seen a 'dreamy stallion' somewhere." he adds, chucking to himself. Squinting, he sees that the creature has yet to move. Seems safe enough for the time being.

The rattling in the bucket continues. It sounds like something is scraping against the sides. The pegasus colt peers down at it, head tilted curiously.

Autumn Dust shrugs. "It's made of stuff? Well, everything is made of stuff, isn't it? Codex, you read a lot of books!" She turns and looks at the shy filly, who seems alarmed at the attention. "Have you ever heard of something that's not made of stuff?"

"Uh, mm, no…"

Autumn looks back at Magpie with a 'ha! told you' sort of expression. What point was proven? The world may never know.

Rather suddenly, the bucket collapses underneath the pegasus colt. The metal band that previously held the wooden slats together bounces off and up his arm like a braclet, having been split free by some force. He tumbles forward with a flap of his stubby wings and a muffled "hey!" as the other foals scatter away from him, startled.

A rush of movement shoots past their legs and that of Magpie, Sparkler and Jellybean. It runs right between Windsplitter's hooves, tossing his cape up like a passing breeze, and darts underneath the bench on which Nocturne sits.

" !! " Windsplitter gives a yelp at that, his bundle of goods tumbling to the ground as he rears up, rough cape flaring out behind him as -something- streaks right through his hooves. Twisting a bit as he stays reared up for moment, trying to see just -what- in the world streaked past like that….

Magpie is just starting to say something about "I meant stuff like just one KIND of stuff" but then the bucket breaks and — and she missed her chance. Holy Celestia that thing is FAST! She didn't even have a chance to blink!

Jellybean screams with surprise and leaps into the air, wings-a-flutter and looking around. "Over there!" he calls out, his Jellysense tingling. "But be careful! Maybe it's scared."

Rising-Chaos watches the creature escape and gives a small sigh, this may prove harder than previously though. She doesn't move from her spot but does pull out a glass jar, a cork and a clipboard. Chaos has came prepared. She seems to be watching it more intently, and is staring at the bench under which the creature vanished, no longer even pretending to read.

Nocturne slouches back against the bench, once again spacing out; that is, until his jacket is blown open by a sudden gust, inviting all of the cold that it had once blocked off. He once again jerks back into sitting up, now noticing the many faces in his direction. He looks around in front of the bench, to the sides, and behind, but sees nothing, shaking his head. Catching the notion that he should remain still, he does so, once again sealing his jacket with magic.

Magpie slowly stalks over towards the bench, moving with a strangely rolling gait that makes her shoulders move like a hunting cat's. "Heeeere dustbunny… I've got some… dirt for you~" she says quietly, pushing up a little pile of dust and nudging it towards the bench.

Sky Sparkler's head whips around as she tries to follow the moving whatzit, charging a little, just enough to make her horn glow faintly. "What ARE you little critter?" she asks, not really expecting an answer as she approaches the bench, if more slowly.

As Nocturne glances about, he is briefly aware of a pair of tiny pinpricks of light, peering up at him from the shadows underneath. There's another blur of movement, a whistle of wind, and then a swirl of dust that breezes up and over the side of the bench.

It's a sturdy bench, consisting of a metal frame, its endpieces decorated with cast-iron reliefs of sailing ships, upon which several planks of smooth wood are bolted. And, one by one, the swirling cloud of dust is working its way over the bolts, whipping around them like a tornado. Even as the surrounding ponies watch, the bolts spin out of their holes and pop out. The bench creaks and leans, and threatens to give out entirely beneath Nocturne if he doesn't get up!

The foals by the fountain are all in a tizzy. The big brute of a pegasus wails and flees down the street, along with two other nameless ponies. Autumn Dust creeps in behind Magpie, while Codex lingers near the fountain, too fascinated to leave, too terrified to approach more closely. One more nameless foal stands beside her and kicks the bucket pieces about. "Hey, my mom's gonna be mad we broke her bucket," he says. "Make it fix it!"

The groud salespony draws up and watches with a look of mild horror. This is far too weird for her! She starts gathering up her things. "Why did I pick this town to build a farm at?" she clucks to herself. "Ohh, why are those handsome sailor boys so bewitching~?"

Windsplitter has always been one to experience strange and new things, and today seems to be offering them both. Quickly dropped back down on all four hooves and ducking his head to scoop up his precious repast once more, clenching the bundle in his teeth as he turns and trots over to the bench. Which… promptly starts taking itself apart… ?

Nocturne continues glancing about, until he feels the bench begins to give, and hurls himself forward, landing on his stomach directly in front of the bench. Slowly standing up and patting off the dirt from his jacket, he turns back to watch in horror as the bench becomes undone. He turns back to the crowd of foals. "What on earth is going on!?" he demands, albeit with more confusion than anger.

Magpie sits down on her haunches and lifts her hooves in the universal sign for "I dunno"

Not moments after Nocturne gets up, the last bolt to keep the bench stable is undone and it coppases into a heap; the loosened bolt flies up and over and into the fountain. Plop!

There's no sign of the dust bunny at first- just a creak as the wood and metal of the bench resettles- it's not long before a tomato-sized blur of movement creeps out from under the pile and starts rooting about. Again, its movements are rodent-like, a little extended 'nose' poking about the ground, tiny light eyes blinking periodically. It acts as if it didn't just have a hand in wanton disassembly of city property.

Jellybean flies down closer to the thing, trying to present as inoffensive a front as he can manage. "Hi there," he says to it, "you don't need to be scared, honest. Can you understand me?"

The dust bunny snoofs its way up to Jellybean's hoof and reaches out, sniffing at it. The breeze tickles. If it understands what he's saying, it shows no indication. It briefly sits up and blinks at him, eyes like minute stars, then drops back down and starts breezing across the town square at a moderate bustle. One can see a little bolt from the bench rattle along inside it, caught up in the miniature storm that comprises its body, but after a few bounces across the cobblestones underneath the bolt is loosened and falls free, such that only dirt and dust continue to make the ambulatory tempest visible.

"There it goes!" Magpie shouts, and starts trotting after it eagerly. She giggles and her horn limns in lavender, flicking a levitation field around the little whirlwind in an effort to catch the beastie!

Nocturne slowly leans forward, following the creature with his eyes. "Urgh!" A sharp pain envelops his front shoulders. He must have hyperextended his forelegs after landing. "Get that little-" he stops, remembering that he's addressing children. By now he has lost track of the critter.

"How very unusual!" Windsplitter remarks through his teeth, blinking beneath his hatbrim as he gets his first good look at the dust bunny. Not -quite- as energetic as some of the others, but trottling along to the side as he tries to peer this way and that, seeming absoltuely fascinated by the little puff of disassembling cloud. Nocturne's grunt however, draws his attention back over in that direction, his air one of concern as he regards the other pony. "Are you quite all right?"

The levitation field… works? It's hard to tell. The dust and dirt scatters for a moment, caught in Magpie's magical glow, though it's hard to tell if the creature is caught with it. She can feel something pulling at her magical hold, testing it… and then nothing. Nothing but dust. Did it escape?

A few moments later, some dry leaves against the edge of a nearby building stir up and begin to swirl, and two tiny bright eyes look back towards the town square. Looks like the answer is yes: it escaped. But at least Magpie has some cool dirt to show for her trouble.

Autumn Dust bounces around behind Windsplitter and Magpie. "Aww, that didn't work! We need a bucket! That's what works!"

Back towards the fountain, the colt moping over the broken bucket shouts after Autumn. "No! No more buckets need to die!"

Jellybean thinks. "Maybe if we offer it some food?"

Magpie gropes at her field a few times, looking disappointed. She can get dust anywhere! She scowls. "Okay, well, I'm ready for the shell and spiral thing," she grouses.

Nocturne wiggles his forelegs with a slight groan. "I can sleep it off." His anger subsides after a glance of the children, afraid of interfering with their fun. He turns to Magpie. "Shell and spiral?"

Magpie waves a hoof towards Autumn Dust, and another at Codex. "'s where they found it. SOme kinda mousetrap, I guess…"

"We left the shell behind. It was boring," says Autumn, dismissively. "And the spiral was carved into the wall, we couldn't take it with us." She creeps forward, leans down to nab a branch in mouth, and leans in to try and poke the dust bunny with the end of it. The little stormcloud narrowly dodges the poke and scoots further along the edge of the house, though after a point it veers off the side and skitters back towards the street… and a storm drain in the middle. Looks like it knows where it wants to go, now. Autumn follows, trying to poke it repeatedly. "Codex!" she mumbles around the stick. "Try'n stop it!"

The shy filly stammers in place and moves, at last, forward a few steps. "H-how?!"

*blink* Windsplitter just nods as as Nocturne dismisses the idea of anything seriously injured, and looks back at the foals' "quarry" — only to see it seems to have made a clever escape, with Magpie poking at a bunch of inanimate dirt. It's the same curiosity that had him peer over that has him looking this way and that to see if the dust bunny has surfaced anywhere else, more than any actual wish to chase the poor thing down, bucket-and-bench-wrecking aside.

Rising-Chaos moves quickly to intercept the little dust bunny before it can escape. She rushes to the storm drain and starts to close in on the bunny. She slips the clipboard beneath it and slamss the jar down, catching it in her glass container. "You aren't getting away that easily, you little cretin," she hisses to her new prisoner. She brings it up to face level, and replaces the clipboard with the cork, to stop it escaping. She grins, happy to have caught another of the mysterious creatures.

Jellybean flies over to Rising Chaos, "No! Let it gooo! It's scared, the poor thing." He's all a-fret now, eyes already welling up.

Nocturne slowly approaches the familiar unicorn, taking staggered steps, and inspects the creature in the jar. After making eye contact with it, he laughs, unusually loudly, in order to cope with the situation better. "If I didn't know any better, I'd say these critters burned the town down." He laughs again, but stops abruptly with a crooked smile. "Ow."

Autumn Dust, pursuing the critter most closely, draws up short at Rising's sudden interception, having been so absorbed with the business of stick-poking she didn't even notice the unicorn approach until it's too late. "Hey!" she says, dropping the stick. "That's our… our… thing!" Who, exactly, she means by 'our' isn't clear, seeing as three members of the gang fled in terror, one is slouching off with a broken bucket and a frown, and the fifth- Codex- is scampering off towards main street. After a moment, though, she glances to the side, and points at Jellybean, and moves to stand beside him. Gang of foals, re-established! She gestures at Magpie, trying to motion her over as well.

Inside the jar, the dust bunny swirls around and around and around, sort of like a gerbil on a wheel. There's a faint whistling sound, and the occasional scratchy scrape as the leaves suspended in its stormy body scratch against the cardboard underneath.

Magpie gives Dust an arch look. "Me, join your gang?" that expression says. She trots over to Chaos and looks into the jar. "What IS it?"

Rising-Chaos raises an eyebrow at the barrage of questions. She sighs, and begins to address the ponies. "No you may not have it back, this is not a living entitiy. It is, as far as I can tell, extremely dangerous and I will keep it for personal study. I have not discovered it's exact nature as of yet, however, so I am taking the utmost care to make sure none of them escape." She rolls her eyes. "It is not yours, it never was, but if you would like to try and take it from me you are welcome. Also, the fire was, from what I hear, caused by phoenixes and homicidal, masochistic ex mayors, these phenomena are new." All questions answered as far as she can tell, she moves the jar closer to herself protectively, in case anypony takes her up on the challenge. She doesn't wnat to lose it, the things unsettle her deeply. Chaos shoots the assembled ponies a look. "Any further questions?"

Autumn Dust's expression screws up into a scowl and she leans forward to glower in an overexagerated childish fashion at Rising. "Yeah! Why're you such a jerk!?"

The gourd pony is rumbling down the street, her wares all gathered and her wagon hitched up. She had long since stopped having any of this nonsense.

Jellybean rears up nervously. He's sniffling. "But, but look at it! It's scared! That's why it was trying to hide! Let it go!"

Is the dustbunny scared? It's hard to tell. When it calms down- and it eventually does- its suspended material drifts back down, lifeless and inanimate, only to be stirred up once more when the creature moves. Where does the creature end and the gathered debris begin? How can you feed it if it doesn't have a mouth? How could it even wear a tiny hat?

Magpie gives a skeptical look at Chaos. "It doesn't /look/ that dangerous." She considers a bit. "I mean, well, okay, it takes stuff apart, right? And I guess I wouldn't want it taking apart a house or something. It /is/ kinda cute, though."

Nocturne gives Magpie an equally skeptical look. "Yeah, just takes stuff apart. How much harm could be done?"

Rising-Chaos scowls, she doesn't like being called names, at least not when she didn't do anything to deserve them in her opinion. "I am not being a jerk I'm trying to save the town." She sticks her tongue out at the foal, not liking his attitude. She looks back at Jelly, Magpie and Nocturne and sighs. "Look, I looked at this thing magically, and this thing is scary. If just one can take something apart like a metal bench that quickly, I dread to think what several could do." She grimaces. "This is the second one I've found, and I have no idea how many more there are. I have to figure out what to do, I need to learn who's making these." She looks honestly worried about it.

Magpie says "Making 'em? I thought… I mean, it sounds like this one was in some kinda trap, and doesn't that mean they're old or something?"

Jellybean whimpers. He doesn't seem quite convinced. "Well… just don't hurt it." He paws at the ground. "You have to promise, or I'm telling."

The dust bunny pops up and pokes around. It once again looks rather mouse-like as it stretches upward and noses at the cork. Scary indeed!

Autumn Dust scuffs a hoof and looks over at the bench, then up at the jar, then at Rising, then down with a frown. "Okay, but I want it back when you're done with it," she says, sullenly, and in a manner to suggest she doesn't really anticipate getting it back at all. At Magpie's comment, she glances up. "I don't think it was old. Codex lives here in town and she says the spiral wasn't there on Friday when she last walked by it. That's why we started poking it."

Codex would agree if she wasn't hiding in her book fort back at home.

Magpie huffs. "Well why didn't you say so?!" She looks up at Chaos. "So maybe that helps?"

Nocturne stands next to Chaos, and looks at the group of foals. "Now listen, I can guarantee you that this pony knows what she's doing." He turns to her and nods. "She's very gifted in magic, from what I hear," he adds, turning to the child with the broken bucket. "Maybe even good enough to fix a bucket." He flashes a crooked grin at Chaos, adding "It's only fair, right? They /did/ have it first."

Rising-Chaos stuffs the jar into one of her saddlebags, eager to make the blasted thing stop being cute and make her seem silly for being afraid. She takes some care while doing so, however, to appease Jelly. "I'll take care of it, I promise." She somehow keeps her voice pleasant through the silly request. "The other one I found was by a spiral and under a shell as well, I need to find out who is drawing them and placing the shells. But who would have access to those materials and have that much magic?" A suspicion creeps into her mind, making her frown. She sighs, seeing Nocturne's suggestion as the best way forward. "Of course, it would be my pleasure to fix your bucket."

Jellybean nodnods, seeming much happier. "Okay miss. Thank you!" He flaps eagerly againa and then looks around. "I better get back to work, actually."

The foal with the bucket is just about to turn the corner and depart entirely, when he hears those magic words! He's over in a flash, soon standing near Rising, and ducks his head down, dumping the bucket bits on the ground. It's not that fancy a bucket- just a round wooden bace, and slats held up with a ring. Everything's been jarred loose, not utterly destroyed. Truly, anybody who fancies themselves a handypony- hoofypony?- could probably fix it, magic or no. But to see the gleam in the colt's eyes as he smiles up at Rising, you'd think she was the only one in the world who can save the poor, broken bucket.

Autumn Dust stares at him, then looks up at Rising skeptically, one eyebrow arched. "Well?" she says, in a tone that rhymes with 'Prove it, jerk.'

Rising-Chaos covers her worries with an arrogant smile, determined to wipe that look of that brat's face. Her horn flares to life, the parts of the bucket floating in the air. Slowly, she reassembles it into it's original shape. The bucket is soon good as new, maybe even a bit better. She looks down at Autumns Dust with a crafted air of superiority. "Piece of cake," she says in a tone that ryhmes with. "Take that, you butt."

Autumn watches with an open mouth, the earth pony filly clearly not so jaded that any ol' mundane magical display doesn't amaze her. Bucket boy, beside her, looks like he's ready to break into tears.

"Oh, thank you!" he gasps, leaping up to seize the bucket. "My mom's gonna be so glad! Oh thank you! Thank you! You're the best pony ever!" He tosses the bucket on his head and charges off back down the street. He can't wait to tell his mom the bucket he took without permission isn't broken like he thought it was gonna be.

Autumn watches him go, then looks back to Rising. "Tricky… tricky! But I've got my eye on you…!" Turning away, she starts to make her way back into the town, but stops halfway across the square to look back at Rising, point at her own eyes with a hoof, then point across at the unicorn.

Nocturne shrugs; as well as he can, anyway, and turns back to Chaos. "Whatever motivates you," he mutters quietly. He sighs, and shakes his head in amusement. "I should really get home and rest," he adds, "before anything else falls apart around me." With that, Nocturne begins a slow mosey towards his home, at least relieved that he can finally get some much-needed sleep.

Rising-Chaos finds herself stranding alone in the town square. She nods for herself, satisfied in the day's work. Even if she's tired herself out after the trick wiht the bucket. she looks around one last time to check for any other suspicious activity heading for home herself, she should get this thing with the other one in her lab. She can hardly afford the distraction but something about it just worries her far more than it should.