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"I don't think they're friendly, Omen."

A surprising and unexpected response from Omen. Lin expected hostilities but her sister's approach to interacting with the shadow copies of themselves was not anything she anticipated. Maybe that was just her, though; she was just about ready to pick a fight with her copy. There was also the matter of the child in the hollowed tree, the chain nailed down to the ground, and the two other creatures crawling out of the dirt mounds. That last one was a very familiar sounding scenario: Sen talked about that in his nightmares, his parents rising from the ground to torment him about his "supposed" failure to save them. 

That was what the two dirt-covered creatures were just about to do. They moved closer to the young child and before Lin could make a break for the latter, her shadow copy stepped forward to block her path. She tried again, this time attempting to fake left and make a break to the right but the copy saw through it and blocked her again. Meanwhile, the two creatures near the tree lost their dirt covering and revealed themselves to be the emaciated bodies of her parents, another reminder of Sen's description of his nightmare. This time, Lin tried to push her way past her doppelgänger with force but now the latter grabbed her and looked at her with lifeless eyes and pinned her to the ground.

Omen's shadow copy didn't move to assist, instead remaining fixated on the real Omen and attempting understand her intentions. Her greeting already built up a rapport with her duplicate and the latter chose to communicate with her.

"You are different," the copy spoke in a monotonous and emotionless voice though still undoubtedly Omen's. "You do not assume hostilities when your companion does; a sign of wisdom. Your companion has a lot to learn from you. Observe."

The two creatures morphed into what can be described as older longma though their appearance suggest middle adulthood. Very little in the way of wrinkles or other signs of aging. Those were non-existed on their looks. The two pulled the chain off the ground and the rest of it out. The young child from the hollow came into view, revealing a very familiar face.

"It can't be... It's Sen." Lin quietly said as she her brother, twelve years ago and looking no more than eight years old tightly embracing his parents.

"Your companion's haste might have caused you to miss this, but let me ask another question. Is this what you came to see or is there more?"

Edited by EQ_Theta
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@Blitz Boom


"This is a well-stocked shop you have here," Dawn noted, nodding her head a bit at seeing the various ingredients and completed candies. She looked at Pop when she spoke and tilted her head at the bags. "What are these?" she asked curiously, sitting on her haunches and carefully taking one of each thing.


@Widdershins & @Blitz Boom


"I think he's starting to like you," Aurora agreed with a smirk. She fluffed her wings so they wouldn't get too tired from being tucked against her sides as she listened to the dragon. "You know ... you could just fly away. You don't have to come with us," she told him with a shake of her head. "Now, why don't we actually talk about why you hate ponies? I'm sure something must make you hate them. Or every species in general."

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@Blitz Boom

Foxy tried to catch Agni as she launched from her, but she was only able to watch in fear as the phoenix attempted to attack Zhu. She felt relieved when all she did was assault him with ash. Foxy never wanted to harm anypony, and even now was not an exception. She felt horrified that her actions had led to it, forgetting her anger briefly.

"Agni, thank you for trying to protect me, but please don't harm him," Foxy said in a soothing tone, stroking the bird gently. Foxy knew Agni did only what she thought was right, and didn't need to be yelled at. In a way Foxy was glad Agni grew closer to her.

Foxy jumped when she felt her leg tugged. She jumped again when she realized who it was: Brittle. Brittle was never one to get that close, much less ask her something like that. Foxy smiled, replying kindly, "I won't hurt anypony, Brittle, I promise. I'm sorry if I scared you and the others, I let my feelings get the best of me. I am not sure what to think of Zhu, but I would never think of hurting anypony." Any anger Foxy felt had completely vanished. She felt happy even. She looked down at Brittle, and couldn't stop smiling at the cute changeling, then turning to Zhu.


"I am sorry for losing my temper Zhu. I still don't understand your reasons though. What greater good is there? Did you know what would have happened?"

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@Foxy Socks

"The greater good is simply one side of a large scale, weighing the light and dark against eachother. I am not a constant on either side."

Normally, he'd not divulge further, but this were a blank point for him, and from what he could see on Foxy, knowledge would serve her well in veering her off a troubling path, that would eventually lead to war. Such a little thing it would be to light that spark, and end the Equestrian union...

"As for your question, see for yourself."

Zhu spoke quickly, which started to involve a good deal of hissing since he couldn't half-growl through words to avoid that unless he spoke calmly. The words formed a spell that took energy from one of the items he had stored in his robes. Something he'd need later he would assume, but Anomaly could assist with that too, as soon as she were done with her current task.

Whilst casting said spell, Zhu rose a paw and planted it on Foxy's forehead, though he doubted she'd notice that too much. Not when the touch also shared with her a memory of his.

A scene would unfold in front of Foxy, clear against the dark background, despite being semi-transparent.

A desert, vast and barren, suddenly had the earth rupture and the sand scatter to the sides in piles rivaling mountains. From beneath, a gargantuan creature of roots, leaves, flowers, trees, and so forth in a mass somewhat resembling a dragon without wings would emerge, and start to march towards the north, were Equestria stood ripe for this ever-growing creature that seemed to both gain strength from the ground with each step, and leave patches of flourishing land in it's wake.

The scene shifted rapidly then, to a small town - not unlike Dodge Junction - where the same scene would unfold. The earth would rupture, a mass of natural objects would rise up, and ponies would fall down into the hole it had left behind with silent screams. It were about to trample a group of ponies when the scene shifted again, showing several more small towns, one large'ish city, and about three more places where life seemed to barely cling on.

During all of this, not a sound would show. Not a word, not a rumble, not even the blow of winds. This were all vision.

Out of nowhere, Zhu's voice would ring in her head, calmly laying some commentary to the almost-carnage she were seeing.

"These are sections of the things I saw could happen. A creature of ancient origins. Bitter and forgotten, it would break through and do things I choose not to share with you. This is the creature the Evergrown refer to as the *Earthmother*, and their creation and continued praise to her name, keeps her dormant and satisfied. A few dozen lives were needed to avoid this, but that were needed to stall her until more were grown. An unthinkable choice to make for most, but one I am often forced to be faced with, to maintain the balance between good and evil. Something which this creature - who would have laid waste to four continents at a minimum before it were stopped - would have jeopardized."

Zhu removed his paw again, and suddenly the vision would end, and Foxy wouldn't be subjected to seeing this anymore.

"Choice is the direction of what have yet to be, making paths like branches of a tree, growing in twists and turns in a crown so far above the ground that only a few can even see the lowest hanging fruit. A limited view, but a blissful one. Ignorance that I have not been blessed with."

Hopefully she would understand from this, that sometimes, a choice had to be made that wasn't nice, but inevitably would be the thing to do to maintain everything you cared for. It would be a lesson she would need in a few years time, and if this did not work, he would have to scheme to arrange for something that eventually would.




"Well, in Ponyville, you either have something for every taste, or it'd hard to compete. I'm not the only sweet shop here after all, and making a living wouldn't be easy without investing in some special flavors. Like the Saddle Arabian Buttermilk stuff I told you about earlier. You either have to be really important, well connected or go there to pick it up yourself to get any of it, and Ponyville residents aren't that big on going outside of Equestria for some reason.

There's more like Neighponese Sugarcanes here and there to set it out, but the buttermilk tends to be the most well liked. Chocolate lovers, you know? I think I have something with it around here actually. Made a batch before we closed up."

Pop started to rummage around a shelf with several kinds of chocolate, though she kept talking, so she could answer what it was she had given Dawn thus far.

"The stuff I gave you are pretty simple stuff though. There's orange-flavored lollipops, which tends to be a decent hit with some of the town's foals since it's pretty sugary. The orange drops are more rich in the taste, and I tend to mix it in a bag with lemon-flavored ones as well, to give the whole package a bit of a sour zing to it. I think I sell about half of all i make of those to Mayor Mare actually, though it still aren't many. More of a niche thing.

Anyway, the last thing is a solid chocolate bar with orange juice mixed in. Gives it a pretty good after-taste if I may say so myself, but it's an acquired taste that's still drawing some weird looks here and there. It seems to slowly grow on a few of them though, so I'm keeping the stock up, just to be prepared. Worst case scenario, I'll eat 'em."




"Didn't see why I should fight. You didn't attack me."

Omen tilted her head from side to side, looking at her counterpart that seemed to be a good deal more restrictive with her actions compared to Lin's. Perhaps it had something to do with being a clone of some kind of her? Omen didn't know how to fight after all, and at best could drag others into gates if she had to try and protect somepony, Heck, she only learned to make gates beneath others hooves recently, though she wasn't entirely sure why. She seemed to recall a hole in the ground and some mumbling, but how this had gotten into her skill set she wasn't entirely sure. Likely Lin's idea. She were usually the smart one.

The mix that happened after Omen had gotten a compliment by her clone were strange to her, as she hadn't observed something do stuff like this since Master Discord ruled Equestria. Melding together had been one of his tricks that he liked to show off somewhat often, which made her wonder if this was something like it. It looked like a longma, so a draconequus it might not be, but... Chaos magic? Dream were confusing, just like it had been to see Lin fight with herself. Nothing too violent it looked like, but still, pretty weird to look at.

It was almost a shot of normality when Sen came into view. Stuck to a chain and looking like a child, sure, but it were likely still him. Looked to be at least, though as she sniffed the air in his direction to try and get a feel for the energy, she got absolutely nothing. Guess nothing in dreams were actually living then.

"Hello, little brother. Your dreams are weird."

She gave a slow wave towards Sen, though she wasn't sure if he'd notice or if he were more transfixed on something else. Say, the two undead-looking longma that had risen out of the ground for example. Seemed like something that would draw the eye.

"I don't know if that's what we were looking for. We came to try and help him with his nightmares. I'm not sure what to do or what a nightmare is though, Never seen one before.

I guess it's not the two weird-looking longma? I've been told hugs is a friendly thing, so that would be weird, right?"

Currently, Omen had no idea what the bad part about this whole thing were. That the two longma that Sen were hugging were dead? Didn't seem to bother him when she had given it a glance, and what else were there? A tree, a hill, some chains, and the mix of Not-Omen and Not-Lin? Guess the last part could be the nightmare part, but it hadn't done something bad as far as she had seen at least. Not beyond wresting with Lin, but she had tried to go past, so it could just be a protection thing.




"What? I didn't make those. I mean, p-perhaps I could, but I didn't-"

"Time's up. Golden, send them off."

Seeing the ambassador struggle a bit, though eventually starting to cast, Benny widened his eyes and went into a hectic speaking frenzy to try and say something before they'd be gone.

"The twins! Go to them and show them the feathers, they-"

And more he didn't get out until a blinding light took him away, and Screecher and himself found themselves a little away from the old royal castle. Closely to Ponyville, but not entirely there. It seemed Golden didn't have the strength to go full on with them. So instead, they both took to the skies and flew as fast as they could towards Ponyville, whilst praying they wouldn't be too late to make a difference there.

Meanwhile, back int he castle, Golden collapsed, but were picked up by Dew, who slung the unconscious stallion unto his back.

"I'll get him to the doctor, then I'll return here and assume command until further notice. I know you're the new general now Iron Wings, but you need more time in the job before you can do this. I'll make sure to try and get the princesses back here soon so they can take over once more, but so far, this is how it's going to go.

Now take your wings and the pieces of them, and get to the forge. The twins might be crazy, but they're effective at their jobs as long as you can show them exactly how you want something done.

And you two, you follow me. The infirmary needs to have a look at you as well."

Dew looked at Misty and Iron Star when he said the last bit, before wandering toward the infirmary with Golden. Hopefully he'd be fine, though considering how he had talked and what he could see, Dew were guessing a punctured lung or some other kind of internal bleeding pressing in the area. He'd be fine more than likely, but the ambassador would be out could for a while.

*sigh* Where were the princesses in their hour of need? Why hadn't any messenger found them yet?




"That bloody does it!"

A severely angry voice came out from behind the food cart, belonging to a dark pegasi of smaller stature than normal, that seemed to be missing a wing. The cart had barely managed to miss her as it had been smashing down the place from the impact, which were just another irritation that had happened to Null today, and this was the limit of what she were going to tolerate. It was time to smash somepony in the face until it stopped being funny.

"W-Wait Null, y-you don't wanna be part of it. T-They look dangerous."

Another mare, sharing the same colorations, wandered over to the pegasi with a worried expression on her face that kept switching over to Warlock and Astral. She seemed to have some missing parts as well, as one of her eyes looked somewhat glassy if you looked carefully, and one of her hind legs were instead a wooden replica, though dark wood like this wasn't common in the area, so it should be apparent that she didn't come from here originally.

"Like I care anymore!"

Null didn't listen to Void in this instance. She were too angry and fed up right now to do anything other than charge at Warlock, prepared to slam a hoof into him or just outright tackle him before beating him. wWhichever came first.

She didn't even notice the weird things about him in the moment, though it would be interesting to see how close she would get before Warlock would notice something very off about Null. Specifically, how his magic would either vanish if he cast anything at her, or how his own magic would be nullified if she got too close.

Would be interesting to see if he would really notice something being wrong before she got within range, but either way, it seemed there were a few more hassles in the area now.




Meanwhile, Athriel had reached the bottom of the temple, but were still looking around for clues of where to go, or the signs of the element this place should hold. It'd likely still take some time before she either found this place was a dud, or would score the jackpot, but Iron Star would be right in being tentatively worried about what she might end up finding eventually.



@Moonlit @Seamore Sandwich

"Ouchies. I forgot how much that hurt. Yeah, we should find a way out. Feels punched in right now, and that's not fun during an adventure. Perhaps we should try when it's daytime next time around? Heh."

Ziggy sounded like she had been roughed up a good deal, and she cringed when she folded in her wings. One of them showed definite swelling, as she had said before, so flying was out the window for a time. Hopefully they wouldn't need that to get out of here.

She started to look around like Serenade did, but didn't see anything interesting in the old cooling unit. Seemed like they might as well just use the door to get out. It had been smashed open some time ago by the looks of it - likely looters hoping for a quick bit - so it should be easy enough for them to just wander out and look for a way to the first floor again, so they could get out.




"As you wish madame. If you seek me, asks one of the servants to find Diego Pennyworth the Third, and inform them that they will be fined if they neglect to do so. They will know it is serious then. For now, enjoy your game session, and may Lady Luck smile upon you."

Witht hat and a bow, Diego would be on his way, and would go to another section of the casino where he would have a check around. Most of his job were that really. Checking, talking, making an appearance, it was all dreadfully annoying sometimes, but grandfather had given him a chance, and he would not disappoint the old stallion like his father had. It had taken years for him to get back in the patriarch's good favor, and Diego would not find himself in the same wagon if he could help it. Not with the issues he had to even find employment before.

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@Blitz Boom

A seemingly innocent greeting wouldn't lead to anything terrible happening within a short span of time but Omen's greeting towards the young Sen caught his attention and the smile from the little one's face faded soon after he sees her. Two shadowy claws reached from the ground and grabbed Sen's parents and began vigorously pulling them away. His parents looked on in shock as they were separated - no, torn away from their young child who was crying for them to stay. They didn't want to part ways but whatever it was that grabbed Sen's parents didn't want them to remain that way. That's where the chain comes in to play; it kept the young Sen from running after his parents who were pulled away before disappearing into a dark mist. Omen's copy stood firm and blocked Omen from attempting to intervene while Lin was visibly struggling under the weight her copy put on her. It is clear she was visibly distraught by what happened and she desperately wanted to do something to help.

"While the pain of loss already ate at Sen, what is in the past cannot be changed. His family is no more than the sum of their memories." Omen's copy gestured for the real one to follow her though the prompt was for both her and Lin to follow. The latter got up but was still held by her copy like a guard escorting a criminal so she wouldn't do anything she would regret."

"But that is not why you are here. You want to find what really bothers your brother, what really is the base of his fears. This is what you came to see."

The young Sen turned to Omen and Lin and ran to them for comfort. He embraced them tightly and buried his face into Omen's chest first and cried into it. He then looked towards Lin and ran to her. "Please don't go. Mommy and daddy are gone and I don't want to be alone." He begged and pled as Lin stroked her brother and brought him closer to Omen. 

As they all sat down together, the young Sen began to fade and he picked up on this, tightly holding on to Lin and Omen and repeatedly yelling "Don't leave me! I don't want to go!" All of this effort seemed to be for nought as Lin tried all she can to stop her younger brother from fading out of view but without magic and any idea how the dream realm works, all of her effort is for naught.  

Omen's copy then calmly walked to Omen's side. "This is what Sen is destined to become. Try as you might to help him but one day, he will be taken away from you, and nothing can be done about it. This is what he fears most, what his nightmares show him: the fear that life will not be long enough for him to give all that he could to you. Realizing his parents wouldn't be back and being forced to live without their guidance has made him terrified of his mortal life. Sen treats you as a sister and a close confidante with whom he can simply be himself. Unfortunately, this will not last. This is what defines mortality and he is afraid he will be forced to leave you behind forever."  

Edited by EQ_Theta
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@Blitz Boom

Staying completely silent as her eyes were covered, Foxy took in the images against the black background. What she saw terrified her too much to scream, gasp, or move. She felt completely immobile and helpless as the images and accompanying voice went on. Even if she knew these were not real, they were a possibility, and the threat could still exist.


Foxy panted heavily, gasping a few times. It was a lot to take in for a mortal pony, and she couldn't imagine how Zhu could handle it. When she regained her breath, she shakily asked, "Could, could they... come back? After all... it seems like they were just stalled. Is there no way to defeat them?"  


She looked back toward Briar. "Does this also mean Briar... worships such a creature?" Sure he was a rogue, but if he had ties to the creature, he may not have abandoned them.

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@Blitz Boom

His element sparked out, it's glow stopped, then Warlock sensed his body falling over. turning to see a negative space in magic. "What the Tartarus?" He muttered, leaping out the way of Null, falling onto the ground. Trying to get on his legs, grumbling a little, he stomped his leg into the ground, cracking it apart and spreading ambers out of it, Warlock floating away from Null and forming a red hot sword floating inches from his hoof. "What a shame for a witch to be unable to use magic. At least the magic I take I can use." He leaped at her, Astral flying down, pushing Warlock and throwing him further down the road, Warlock standing upwards floating up to stop sliding across the road, growling at her.

"Well it seems we have an advantage after all." Astral turned back to Null, smiling.

"Unlikely." He crossed his hooves in front of himself, swinging them outwards, sending a blast at them, only knocking Astral away and dissipating nearby both Null and Void, giving Warlock a clue towards their ability. "I can still kill these two without magic." He levitated up a food cart over to himself, throwing it at Null, Astral unconscious now and unable to help.


Iron Wing nodded, looking down the hallway. "I'll need somepony to guide me to them." He lifted up the damaged feathers, looking around for a place to put them. "and I'll need a bag or something to put these in."

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@Blitz Boom


"That would make your specialty orange and Saddle Arabian butter?" Dawn guessed and tentatively tried one of the chocolates. She tast e the chocolate, yes, but she could also taste a lot of orange in it after swallowing. After trying the orange and lemon drop, Dawn made a face and handed the bag back to Pop. "Lemons. Not for me," Dawn gasped and quickly sucked on an orange lollipop.

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@Little Snowdrop


A filly giggled uncontrolably as she ran towards town with a look of pure glee on her face. She would likely draw some eyes here and there when they got there, considering everything from her firey mane and explody tail, to her cutie mark of a smiling bomb, spelled that she were trouble of some kind. Doubly so if you got close enough to her to realize that the dark patches of her fur were likely not natural, as she had a constant, yet faint, smell of gunpowder around her.

"Darn it Blitz, how many times do we have to go through this?"

A stallion with a saddlebag of gadets and papers ran after the filly, but not currently at a speed where he'd be able to catch the little troublemaker, causing him to fall behind the speeding Blitz.

He was a little tall in it, also a unicorn, and though he didn't look as explosive, there were familiarities with the filly that could show them as being in family with one another, though he were more teched up than the little one.

A sizeable goggle were strapped well in around his right eye, with small levers around it that seemed like they would activate something within them if pushed, pulled or slided.

His hooves were tied in thick cloth that had a color that made it appear as if he walked around in dirt and rust often, a belt of tools and assorted minir stuff, and a strange necklace with wires around his neck, focussed around a gem that suddenly began to glow as he spread metallic wings that had previously been settled in well on his back, and took to the skies to better his chances at the chase.

It would take around a minute of him flying around and chasing the filly, whilst also making sure not to hit anypony, but eventually he'd get the better of her and have her in his grip, at which point he landed and folded the wings in again. Not with magic though, which made it curious as to how they were moved around, though a keen eye could likely tell that the gem had something to do with it.

Regardsless, they were folded back in and he held the excited filly firmly in his hoof, whilst looking at her like she were really starting to grind his gears.

"We had a deal sis. You have to stay close."

"Adventure! Adventure!"

He shook his head and looked at his lil' sister, before imagining what issues he'd eventually have when she inevitably found out how to power and use her own metallic wings. An imagine that made him grimmace about as much as when he had thought on how it'd end up once she got used to her horn being whole again, rather than have the tip broken off. A process that would have taken months, boiled down to a few days via some of the research that had been done by another pony in Center Zero.

Thinking on this for a moment, he didn't think more on either how the gleefull filly in his grip were trying to wriggle away whilst still talking about adventure, nor how he were getting some company soon. The only one who'd notice that, were a curious little thing that would crawl out of his mane, what would at first glance just seem like a fuzzy spider, but on closer inspection, would show a good deal more, as the legs were metallic, the fur fake, and the eyes small lights. The noise it'd make would also give it away. A clacking, chittering kind of sound, which were a bit too mechanical to not take notice of.

"Huh? Something's the matter Carmen?"

Edited by Blitz Boom
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@Blitz Boom


Floatin Matter, a light gray pegasus with dark purple hair trotted in a big garage carrying a tablet with some sandwiches and a glass of water with her. Her magenta eyes looked around as she putted the tablet on a little side table.

"I'm going to go to Gravity Wave to discuss the results of our last research now. I'll be back around sunset, I'm sure you'll be finnished until then", she sayed to Steampunk Gear, a tall orange pony with a quite messy brown mane and a short, bushy tail, who was lying under a pretty big mechanic coach tinkering around with a few gears and pipes. His orange-yellow wings who clearly don't fit in with the rest of his body are covered with gears and other metallic parts. The scarred tissue around the coracoid seperates the orange fur and the lighter feathers.

"Okay!" he replied concisely.

"Come on honey, I want to say goodbye to you, not to your wingtips."

The orange earth pony creeped out from under the device. His eyes, the right one totally grean, the other one with a tough of yellow, looked up to Floatings smiling face.

"I'm almost finnished. We can test it when you're back... that's gonna be sooo great!" Steampunk told her enormously excited.

"I'm already looking forward it", Floating replied. "See you later then!"

"Goodbye!", Steampunk answered after standing up and giving Floating a long goodbye hug.


It was already past sunset when Floating Matter returned home. Assuming that Steampunk would already await her, she walked directly into the garage. The tablet still stood on the site table, with an empty plate and glass on it. Steampunk was putting some tools on a rack as he noticed Floating.

"Hey there! Perfect timing! I finnished the engine just now" he said. Floating walked towards the modified coach a bit unsurely while Steampunk opened the garage gate.

"And... you're sure you didn't forget anything?"

"Of cource I am. Just don't worry, this will be great!" Steampunk drove the device out of the garage and closed the garage gate again. Meanwhile Floating took a seat on the vehicle and waited for Steampunk to start the familiar steam engine and drove out of the village. It was the new engine Steampunk just installed on the vehicle that kinda frightened Floating.

"And you're REALLY sure that this engine is save, right?"

"Haha, just calm down, honey. I double-checked everything! Just relax, you'll love it, trust me!"

As they were outside of the village, Steampunk turned off the steam engine and switched to the new gas engine, that could be fueled with an strange, explosive fluid that Burning Oil, a chemist and friend of Floating and Steampunk, just devised by seperating the oil the town ponies found in several components. The vehicle did a jolt forward, then stood still for the half of a second, before it suddenly quickened with a series of loud bangs.

"Now we're getting started! We'll be even faster than the wonderbolts! This is going to be so amazing!"




The vehicle dashed across the flat landscape. Steampunk really had his fun, while Floating was still worried.

"We totally gonna crash into a tree! Care for the knoll over there! Oh why did I agreed to come with you?"

"Hey, don't worry! Just relax and enjoy the airstream blowing through your mane... oh, I never experienced something that beautiful before!"

"Uhm... wait, what is that over there?"

The vehicle got slower and slower and finally stopped moving. Floating and Steampunk suddenly were verry quiet and watched two strangers walking along in the distance. There were several trees around them, and since the probably elder one was distracted by the younger, littler one, they hadn't noticed Floating and Steampunk yet. 

"You know, there are only two possible reasons why anyone could walk along this area. Either they lost the track and wander around this place aimless, or they're traveling towards our town."

"Right. So either they need help to get back on track or they could need someone who carries them to the village."

"Exactly. I say we should ask them if they need any help or something. But Steampunk, don't use the gas engine!"

"Haha, okay okay, if you really hate it so much..."

Steampunk switched back to the steam engine and the vehicle slowly drove towards the two strangers.

Edited by Little Snowdrop
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Molotov turned around to look at what had Carmen riled up, and noticed a vehicle of sorts in tge distance. Close enough to see some details, but not enough to watch the passengers. Or well, not for regular eyes, but using his horn to fiddle with the levers on his goggle a bit helped with that, and he ended up with a good look at who they were going to be dealing with in a second.

It appeared to be a stallion and... My my, an enchanting mare from the look of it. This might be a more fun meeting than he had anticipated at first. Provided those two weren't a couple. Perhaps he should find that out before opening his big, stupid muzzle too much.

Setting the levers back in place to make his vision more normalized, Molotov stood ready with a grin on his muzzle as the two approached, until they'd be close enough to hear what he were saying.

"Hey there. Swanky ride you got yourself. I take it you're from Vision Village?

Name's Molotov Boom, and this is my little sister, Blitz Boom-"


"She says hi. Anyway, we're on our way to your town to deliver some things from Center Zero. Think either of you two could be a doll and point us in the right direction? We've never been there before."

As a matter of fact, the only one in their family who went to see their colleagues in Vision Village, had been their mother, Faculty Boom. A mare who were hard to miss with her research on a wide array of mechanical advances, as well as her grand project of space travel. A subject she shared some of her research about in the other village, but kept mostly to herself, as she were trying to get there as much as possible on her own out of pure stubbornness. Though far as Molotov knew, she had worked closely with one in Vision Village in creating increasingly stronger fuel containers, to mix with what she had dubbed *rocket fuel*. She had never gotten it finished before the incident unfortunately, but she did reach a point were her counterpart thought it was getting ridiculously sturdy, to a point were no matter what they used, they could barely work with it.

There were several poines between the two towns that went back and forth, as not everypony had trust in letters, even if they had their own messengers, as well as that machine they had been setting up a few months back they had shut down for a time after testing an alpha-stage hologram, and others just liked to speak more face to face. Some liked the social aspect too, and seeing what the others in general were working on too he assumed, but Molotov didn't know too much honestly. Just what he had been told, and at times seen, though he were usually busy so he didn't speak much with those from that town.

The towns were fairly similar in ideals, so they got along well, though rivalries inevitably did ensue. Mostly friendly ones though, and wagers on who would first do this or that kept them on the edge and working well, so productivity rocketed up since they started communications. At least on their part, though Molotov were pretty sure the Visioners were well up for the battle, so to speak.

Still, hopefully they'd remember seeing their mother around. She had the family coat of orange, and like Blitz had patches of darkened fur here and there that smelled of something flammable,  plus she had the trademark sign if their family: Functioning mechanical wings. Hers were a good deal prettier than either Molotov or Blitz's, and ran on electricity stored via a dynamo attached to her legs, so she could charge up to five hours worth of power for it by using her body naturally, but each in their family had their own way of wanting to fly. Molotov had went with solar, mother with electricity, and Blitz... Well, he wasn't sure, but from what she had shared with him, it actually looked like she were trying to use another kind of electricity in a more compact design than their mothers.

Anyway, here was hoping that either of these two in their impressive ride would point them the right way. Likely wouldn't happen if they didn't believe they were from Center Zero as... Well, not all scientists liked others snooping into their work, and whilst he didn't know how secretive Vision Village were about this, he knew that in his home at least, it had to be somepony special to be allowed inside town. Usually Princess Celestia, a higher ranking envoy of hers, prominent scientists or inventors that had caught their attention, or ponies from Vision Village. Reporters, the general public and the like wasn't welcome. They'd see if their counterparts were as reserved as them.




"Well, buttermilk more specifically. Their butter is fine too, but it's not something to use in the sort of candy I work with."

Pop reached out and took the bag of drops that didn't seem to be in Dawn's taste. Honestly, she had little hope with that one, since it wasn't that many that enjoyed sour candy, but it was worth a test at least. A bit of trial and error.

Hopefully the lollipops would be more in her taste. They were more sweet and sugary, though it might being a bit too much on the sweet side, but hey, then they'd know the other end of the scale thus far between too sour, and too sweet. Progress in any case.




(this happens three days later than the above post)

"What a pretty shop."


The door to the quaint place opened and the joyful voice of a mare looking like a mixture between a candy cane, a salespony and living bubblegum spread slowly, as she gazed around the bakery.

"Smells well, looks well, sectioned well. Must be somepony experienced with customer service who set this place up. And a good baker to booth if the smells are anything to go by."

Circle Pop were talking to herself as she looked around the place. Her way would eventually reach towards the counter, but right now, she wanted to see how it looked in here. Enticing would be a good word for it overall, though that also set a high standard for the quality of their wares, in her mind. Hopefully they'd live up to that so she could have a little snack before going back to sight-seeing around town. Might be she had good time to get it done, but still, it was nice to look around, and well... It sort of distracted from another thing she had to get done in this town that she wasn't looking forward to.




Null didn't even flinch as the blast came towards her. She just gritted her teeth over how the irritating freak of a pony had run out of her grip before she got close enough to keep him earthbound for a smacking, as well as how he had tried to push both her sister and her around. Much she would just let slide and don't care about it, but nopony used Void as a toy without getting a vicious beating as long as she had anything to say about it.

With the other one that had apparently been fighting this one unconscious on the ground, Warlock had then turned his attention to Null, and tried to arrogantly throw a cart at her. Something she responded to by first jumping out of the way of the vehicle, then look up towards him with hatred in her eyes.

"This is how you fight? Come down here and take a beating like a stallion you spineless coward! I'll beat you senseless until your ugly face gets redecorated into something looking less like a mule's flank."

Meanwhile, Void had gone closer to her sister, nervous and not sure what to do, but thinking she would need her soon. If for nothing else, then to stop her from stomping on Warlock if he went down.




"Lieutenant Shimmer!"

One of the guards in the room turned her head when Dew's commanding voice rung through the throne room. A Solar Guard by the look of the uniform, and with a coating that almost made her blend in with the metal, just without the shine and darker coloration. It was hard to see too much of her because of the uniform and helmet though, but the pegasi seemed to be in her forties from the looks of things.

"Yes sir?"

"Assist General Wing in whatever way he asks, and make somepony fetch a bag for his feather."

"Of course sir."

Lieutenant Shimmer hadn't been at the meeting when Iron Wing were mentioned as Dew's successor, as she had been occupied with a security breach in town, but she wouldn't question his words when he said that the armor-clad pony with the strange wings were her new general. Certainly wasn't a Night or Coast Guard, so it had to be that, though he were still dealing out orders. Had Dew been promoted to a diplomat? Something to find out later certainly.

"You, get the bag mentioned and return here as fast as possible. I'll assist the general in the retrieval."

A random guard took the order and went on his way, whilst she stood rank and saluted Iron Wing.

"Lieutenant Shimmer, reporting in sir."

With that handled, Dew beckoned another guard closer and pointed at Iron Star and Misty.

"Help them follow me. We don't have much time."

The guard would do as he was told, whilst Dew began to really walk out of the room. The ambassador wouldn't last for long if he lingered anymore, so further issues until Dew returned would have to be handled by General Wing for the time being.



@Foxy Socks

The glare from under the hood at Foxy's horror were indifferent to how she must have felt, watching these small clips of things that never ended up happening. To him, it was all just part of his life, and currently, a lesson he wished to impart upon her when the time was right. She'd need further incentive he would think, but he had a few years to work with before she had to make the choice on the tipping scale between all out Equestrian war, and a calmer, prosperous future.

"Excuse me, but what exactly are you talking about? And furthermore, can somepony please tell me wh-"

"I prepared a spell seven hours ago, that would remove the half-turned filly's be fearful or nervous. It finished casting as I exited the tent, and it will last for a certain amount of time that I will keep to myself. I didn't wish to make my presence cause more of a threat level in others than it already does, and you are as protective as the phoenix when it comes to her."

Zhu knew what Briar would ask, he just waited until the Evergrown would start asking it before spilling the beans about how he had interfered with Brittle, causing her to not turn into a nervous wreck currently. A blessing for all involved currently, as this were the first time in as long as Brittle could remember that she felt calm, though the blessing would eventually end, and when it would, she'd feel the return of her angst and fears return again. It would more than likely revert her to exactly where she had been, though there were a chance that it would motivate her to try to regain that calm mindset. The odds were low of that within the foreseeable future, unless something were done to intervene, but he would not consider it impossible. Depended on her choices after this, and the support she gained in it, which neither were something he'd interfere in. Her paths didn't show much in the way of issues to the balance, and as such, she wasn't somepony he would need to mingle with. Not unless something depended on her presence another place.

He gave himself a few seconds to answer the next part towards the both of them, and rose his head to the sun to bask in it's glare a little. In better times or when he knew he'd be alone, he sometimes liked to simply lay out in his entirety, and bask in the light without the robe covering what he were, but those times were rare and far between. a little glance towards the sky were often the best he could aim for to take the worst, though this would give Foxy a chance to see what were normally hidden in the hood.


(imagine it more orange and striped, with glowing yellow eyes)

The appearance of the rare race of the Serpanthers were not widely known, but he were not much of an outlier. A feline torso and legs, combined with a serpents head and tail, were a harsh sight to accept for some, and the word *draconequus* had been dropped a few times before in response, though he weren't one in the slightest. He were simply a mixture of two races, not a mix of several part shaken in a bag.

His neck were curved, the scales mixing in with his fut reasonably well in color at least, and at a short glance, potentially also texture, as the raised scales were a bit off. He had slight folds like a beta version of a cobra around his ears, but it wasn't far out they went, and wouldn't fool anypony if he tried to play it off.

A few seconds of light, where only Foxy would be able to see part of him, if she so chose, and he would lower his head again.

"As for your questions, I showed her a glimmer of a potential future I saw a dozen times, where the earthmother would rise from the ground and lay destruction to several continents, for the neglect the world had shown her, and the madness being forgotten had caused.

It is why the Evergrown were needed. Their existence sates her, reminds her she is not forgotten or despised, and keeps her both dormant and free of the madness. When eventually she will rise, it will be with a better purpose than what you saw.

Make no mistake, the creature is a benevolent one, and a boon for this world, as she is deeply connected to the nature on which we depends, so his praise does not go to the ears of a monster. In her own right, you could consider her a fallen deity, and their kind needs worshipers to retain their selves. The Evergrown in particular, are both part of her nature, and sings praises to her name. In a sense, they have saved her merely by existing. I saw little reason to mask the past, but what is to come with her, will be left to the mind of those who can see the unwritten."




Omen held a hoof towards where Sen had been before, as if she could draw him back out of thin air somehow, but it was pointless. He was gone, crying and begging for them to not leave him...

The thought made her chest starting to hurt again. It had been a while since that happened.

"I don't understand. Why does he fear to die, when it looked like he were afraid we'd leave him?"

Though she were discomforted, Omen tried to find out what to do anyway, and the first thing that came to mind was how conflicting the things their copies said and what small Sen had said were.

When what turned out to be Sen's parents were dragged away from him, she started to understand it a little, with him fearing being left behind like that again, but then the strange things had started to talk and it stopped making sense.

Even as Sen had gone over and grabbed hold of Lin and her, whilst fading away a little by little, she were sure that this meant he were afraid that they too would end up leaving him alone again, and yet the others said that it meant he didn't ant to leave them? Had it something to do with how he were eventually going to die, and he thought that he'd miss them in the next world? Omen had never understood much of death or what were beyond it, but from the few things she had heard, it sounded like a happy place that everypony would eventually reach, unless they had been incredibly bad.

Regardless of her finding meaning in it or not, if this was the truth, what were going to happen then? They couldn't stop death after all, right?


Her brain stopped on that question. Could they really do nothing against death?

She had heard before how this was the end for everypony, but looking at those she knew, that it wasn't that simple. Master Discord for example were likely immortal, and as endless as chaos itself, and she had some of his magic within her, which seemed to at the very least give her semi-immortality as she hadn't died from old age or something alike.

And what of Lin? After her ordeal, she had been pieced back together again with a portion of Mother's realm, and likely so many kinds of magic that she might be something like Discord at this point. Not a draconequus, no, but a being that... What did he call it... Were as much magic as flesh, causing them to thrive as long as their power did? Something like that.

In either case, it was the same. They didn't die fast, and except for Discord, none of them had just shown up that way. Things had to happen to them that involved magic, and Equestria plus the lands around it did have a lot of magical stuff lying around...

"...No need to fear death, equals no nightmares? Is making him strange too how he gets better?"

This was not directed to the clones, but rather the only other real creature here: Lin. She were the smart one of them in Omen's mind, so perhaps she could clear this up, and say if this was how they helped him. Stop the pain he had been in every time she had seen him sleep, and before, when little him cried and vanished.




@Moonlit @Seamore Sandwich

"We need to give Fah'lina a little detective outfit too then."

The responding maw opening and violent hissing seemed to indicate that much like any other cute things Ziggy had tried to suggest doing with the mimic, she would likely shred the mare if she even tried. Funny how she hated doing things like that when she were so eager playing off the *cute critter* part whenever she wanted to con ponies out of their food, or avoid responsibility for her issues.

"Or you know, *groan*  not, that's okay too.

And I'm fine enough Serenade, no worries about lil' old meeeeeee! My wing's swollen and I'm a bit beaten up, but it's fine. I just can't fly for a while."

The drawn out *me* as she felt what was either a piece of glass in one of her legs or a minor fracture had tested her ability to not fall down on the floor and weep like a filly, but she had managed to get through it. Though from where she had felt the pain and the motion she had been through when she did it, it was likely the safest for her to take this nice and easy, plus not applying pressure to the mentioned leg. She'd be able to get a cast going once they got back to the hospital in Ponyville. Or you know, a few sticks and some gauze. Basically it needed rest, and there were cheaper and just as effective methods to use when it wasn't a full-on broken bone.

Edited by Blitz Boom
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@Blitz Boom @Seamore Sandwich "Ziggy, your hurt. Of course I'll worry. Do you need me to carry you out?" Serenade offers Ziggy at least a wing to help her along. Given her companion's outward injuries it would be slowgoing, but she wasn't a doctor. 

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@Blitz Boom

"Oh... Hello..."

A soft, gentle voice with an upper class Trottingham accent came from somewhere behind the counter. Closely following the voice a small blue mare with a curly candy coloured mane emerged. She bowed her head slightly but managed to keep eye contact with pretty pink pony who now stood across the counter. Her soft green eyes seemed kind but cautious. 

"W-welcome to Battenberg Bakery... Where you can have your cake and eat it too."

She stutterer a bit but managed to find her words becoming slightly more confident and standing up straight in an attempt to be more welcoming and open to a potential customer.

"You're the f-first customer today"

A small smile was now upon her face it seemed she was beginning to warm to her visitor.

"Have you visited one of my bakeries before?"


Edited by Battenberg
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@Blitz Boom

When Zhu revealed his head for a moment, Foxy was in awe of what she thought. His head was a mixture of viper and elapid snake traits; a deadly combination. Foxy wasn't intimidated much by his appearance because she had experience with snakes, and had no fear of them. In fact, she loved them. She could see slight traces of fur, but being covered she had no idea what Zhu was beyond a serpent creature. 


"So that's why Brittle is the way she is? I see..." Foxy was slightly disappointed that she was only acting like that because of the spell, and not really that close to Foxy in reality. It was a nice gesture though.


"I still don't like that creature though. I don't care how helpful she may be, it isn't right to harm others." Foxy had a simple set of morals, strongly abiding by them. They grew as she spent time with animals, giving her strong views.

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[Blitz Boom]

It was a mortifying thought, the pain that the end will come no matter what. It made Lin aware of her own mortality, or maybe it made her curious about how her life span would change now that she was no longer a pure longma by appearance. It's something to ask Mother when she had the time. Here, however, her brother has just about completely vanished and she didn't know how to comfort him. Omen's confusion on them leaving Sen and fear of death is understandable; one way or another, someone was going to leave the other. Or so it seemed.

"I guess he's afraid he doesn't know what happens after death; no one knows." Lin solemnly replied. "Some say they go to some peaceful garden and meet everyone who has gone to their rest. Others say there is nothing and they are left to wander the infinite darkness alone. Being made to wander the world without companions must be a lonely thing and Sen was very close to our parents. But making him - how you say, 'strange?' I don't know if it's the right thing to do. He might be averse to the idea even if he is slowly learning to live with magic he can find useful."   

There was also the sound of footsteps approaching the two of them, a slow trudge that didn't pick up in speed or enthusiasm. Lin turned to find an old, wizened version of her brother looking at them with saddened eyes but eager to answer a conflicting thought in Omen's mind. 

"I was, and still am, afraid of many things. I still don't know if getting you angry will bring down the wrath of Mother upon me. I don't know if I could be satisfied knowing that I wouldn't be able to get to know you better since you and Lin are so close and I'm different from you two. I'm afraid you two would leave me behind because my mortality wouldn't allow me to keep up. Those warped perceptions of you and her... fear has a way of bringing out the worst thoughts in me and I'm afraid they may be right. It's not an easy thing to think about."

Edited by EQ_Theta
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@Blitz Boom

"Oh my Celestia!" Pinkie shouted as she immediately dashed after the sugary creature, "It's so adorable! And it looks delicious! Adorably Delicious! Adoralicious! Deliciable!" The excitable pink mare kept listing off such things as she ran


"Hey, wait up Pinkie!" Storm shouted as he took off after her, that creature was adorable after all! And all that sugar... Some drool may or may not have fell from his mouth as he ran (I deny this completely! It was just a bit of muffin crumbs! Really!)


Edited by Shineling
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@Blitz Boom

His eye twitched, anger flowed through him, the ground almost cracked around him from the anger purely just coming off him. "Coward..." He looked around for a moment, thinking over his approach over all of it, starting to realize she was right, and made the brief decision, to change that. "Coward?" He turned to Null, with fury written on his face, Warlock growling with his teeth greeting, eyes emitting dark magic smoke, colored blue and green, with some red. He extended a sword creating it out of the air, a crude design for a sword still flaking metal from its heat, with a cloud of magic floating around it. "Is this cowardice to you?!" He shouted out, rippling the ground at them, charging at them, leaping far up into the air. Astral only at the last moment became conscious, seeing the situation they were in, grabbing Null and rushing over to Void as Warlock struck the ground, making a crater. "A coward gives up, a coward leaves before the kill, a coward leaves before he wins, because of fear." He swung his sword around, parts of buildings flying towards him. "I am no coward!" He said floating up as the rubble turned into new armor, a spectacle likely to attract attention, his intention (Heh that rymed). "Why don't you run now? You didn't run at me after I threw the cart." He said with a glare in his eye that spoke of his wrath about to unfold, very quickly.

"Oh you're girlfriend would enjoy this."

His eyes sprung away from Null to Astral. "We're-" he flew at her and struck a sword at her, as she flew away. "NOT!" He leaped to her, she moving out of the way, sending him into a building. "IN LOVE!" He flew out, burning with anger, slicing the ground with the burning sword, striking it into a building and igniting it, the fire spreading oddly fast, yet again something to attract attention. He almost fell down, deeply breathing, exhausted from anger. Lifting a sword to Astral, quickly throwing it to his right as he spun around, in Void's direction.


Iron Wing stood there, looking at the floor with about fifteen feathers across it, and a pile of ten just below both his wings, which he picked up, some of them floating inches above his hooves, the more scratches on them, the lower they floated, until they touched his hooves. he put them in the bag, being careful with them. looking at the ones in his wings, shaking the wings more, none more falling out. He walked around picking up the others. "If you see a blade like this;" He lifted up one of the feathers, with etchings on it that'd seem decorative to ones who didn't know their purpose. Making sure they could see the blade. "Bring it to me and I'll make sure it's the right one, and put it away."

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  @Dji & @Blitz Boom

   "I-I d-don't "like" Anyone!... and I don't hate everybody either!" The light-framed drakling huffily retorts at the griffon, his face scales seeming somewhat more of a sunset-red in the day's light.

  "I just don't like Stupid, Selfish ponies who think that the world is some big show where only their species matters! Not every other way of life out there exists just to serve your ends! I'm sure griffons have their own towns, but all you ever hear about is the the big ponytowns who get all the architecture and fancy stuff!

  And I'm here, because I feel i'm a little entitled to some payback for having my routine disrupted by this noisy cart & pony!" Kaltrop once more proclaims his rights apparently unaware of his own double standard. "It's not like I need you two for company or anything! It's not like I wasn't perfectly happy in my cliffside cave all by myself or anything!"

 Reared back on his haunches, his front claws clenching and scratching at the cart roof in agitation like a cat kneading its bedding before it lays down, Kaltrop tips his snout down to mutter under his breath. "...don't think I can find my way back from here anyways..."

"B-besides. Wouldn't some herd of country yokels start throwing a fit & some rocks about you hauling my full-grown, intimidating dragon self into their easily burnable village?"


  At Symbol, Blartz Bleuurgh! ...Stop that...

    Turning to regard the new voice, Widdershins keeps turning his body and head until he stands with his chin on the ground facing Anomaly with his body looped around full circle back to where his tail is propped up back on the stump he had first appeared on. Frankly not a very sturdy position, but then again sturdiness has never been a common phrase associated with draconequui.

   A Pinap Berry! It's the Interdimensional Symbol of Hospitality! We heard that on a show once, so you know it's true!

 Three long tongues of varying ends to them extend cartoonishly out from Widdershins's closed mouth to pull closer the... the literal Fruit Basket? ...It's sometimes hard to narrate this stuff. I'm beginning to feel regret again on my character design.

 As he lifts up its top to quizzically rummage through it, the draconequus idly responds to Anomaly.

  Hmm? Oh, no. I never talked into your head. That's a thing that didn't happen. I mean, really, putting aside aesthetics & all the insanity that happens in anime when characters start messing around with brain powers like that... what would you even call that? Implanting a thought in another's head? I'm a Man of my Creativity, don' evah compare me to Inception, Boopie!

  Oh, hey! Look!

  With that exclamation, Widdershins pulls out... the wrapped Breezie. Of course. You shouldn't give us an out like that. I just... you really should... Sigh.

  With a quick, casual disregarding fling away of the enveloping waffle wrapper, Widdershins drops the Breezie on the floor in front of him.

  oOoh! It's one of them Wossnames! I forget what they're called... reminds me of my... let's see, where is it?...

 Rolling back his loop of a body a bit to raise his head closer to the wall, he presses a long, bunny ear to the wall for a momment for a drawer to come out, and without bothering to look inside pulls out a small, hoofsized bottle. A bottle that appears to have notable animated detail and sentience to it, judging by the way its tiny limbs flail about. With a quick, plaintive squeak and a quicker flick, Widdershins wrings its head off to where it now stands as a now unmoving bottle. He offers it to Anomaly too. 

  This here's a Bottle Gnome! Oh, don't you worry! They're constructs, not life! Besides, gnomes, like Breezies, are just one of those species where its okay to just utterly despise them! Think that's just a mana potion in there. Despite being magic, its really quite delicious. There's, like, patented actual energy drinks called that even!

 So! What brings you to my Thinly Veiled Analogy & Pocket Dimension?

And somewhere a few feet off in his corner, a small voice can be heard muttering to itself. "...and yet another name for it, again..."

And more importantly! What would you say is the best preperation for a live Wossnames thing like that little guy? I'd say fillet, but I feel sure there's some Cuteness Gland you need to clean out.


@Blitz Boom

  "Well, um, I'll see what I can do. Maybe start getting onto a letter to send them... If I can remember how Ponyville does letters." Ambie ponders to himself outloud. Still tired from all that had happened today, the stallion does seem weary if only by how quickly he waffles in his decisions. Elsewise its hard to tell how much the darkness & the late hour is effecting him as much as his eyes seem to still shine in the night, perhaps indicating yet another nocturnal aspect of his potential heritage.

 "Oh, heh, yeah. I'm open to whatever suggestions you have there too, of course! I've not had much training myself in physical labor, but Mother used to always say that a good Gentlecolt never complained about his job. Though... she did alot, but..."




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@Blitz Boom

Floating Matter and Steampunk Gear got closer to the two strangers. The older one asked them if they were from Vision Village instantly, and Floating nodded. As Molotov introduced himself and Blitz, Steampunk watched the little filly who seemed to be pretty excited about everything around. She kinda reminded him of himself when he was younger; always wanting to explore everything.

"From Center Zero, huh?", asked Steampunk as Molotov finnished. "Well, everypony from there is always welcome to our lil village. Nice to meet you, my name's Steampunk Gear and this lovely mare over here is Floating Matter." Floating waved down to Molotov and Blitz. "If you want, we can carry you two there. But, just 'cause I'm curious, what exactly do you want in Vision Village? You know, we didn't get any visitors from Center Zero since I live ..."

Floating pondered a bit, then she asked: "I hope there's nothing wrong with the communication system, is there?". The last error in the system has taken days to fix and an important research project in cooperation with Center Zero has been delayed. The system was essential for the collaboration with Center Zero, since it was the only way to transmit data over the long distance fast enough.

While waiting for Molotov's report, Floating and Steampunk made place for the two ponies to join them on their vehicle, assuming they would take the offering.

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@Blitz Boom

"Sour chili lemon, one!" the mare at the counter called over her shoulder. "And for you, miss?"

"May I have a strawberry lemonade muffin, please?"

"Strawmonade, one! That'll be four bits all together. And will that be for here or to go, my little hedge mages?"

"Um... did you want to dine in, Sorrow?"

Edited by dosey doe
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@Moonlit @Seamore Sandwich

"Nono, I'm fine. I just have to really stop myself from supporting on my leg. Just don't start a-running and I'm gonna be fine enough. Trust me, I'm a doctor. I'd know if it wasn't possible to walk right now."

Ziggy smiled after her little white lie, to try and sell it a little better. Truth be told, it would likely be for the best that she didn't take any chances right now, but well... Serenade was currently a regular sized pegasus, and considering how easy it were to drag her off earlier, she wouldn't do much in trying to carry the larger zegasus. Unless she could change forms again out of nowhere, but then they wouldn't be able to get her back into Ponyville. Better that she just underplayed how bad this might be, and then do what she could to not meddle this up as they went along.

Here was hoping she wouldn't fall and go from a fracture to a break.

"Let's get out whilst we still have a torch, okay? Gotta be horrible to attempt to get out here without light. Especially if the ghosts starts to get around and spook us."

Ziggy chuckled at that, though a little nervously. It seemed she still wasn't convinced that there wasn't any of those in this place. Perhaps she would end up being right in that. *ominous sound*




Pop gave a warm smile towards the apparent owner of this establishment. One of the more nervous in it apparently, but that was okay. Some ponies never really did too well in dealing with customers, even if they had a business, and honestly, nervous and shy clerks sometimes drew in a crowd too. Some ponies found it rather endearing and/or relatable.

"Hello, my name is Circle Pop, it's nice to meet you.

I gotta say, I like your catchphrase. Fits the place well.

And unfortunately, I have never seen a bakery with this name before, so I wasn't aware this was part of a chain. Sorry. I'm impressed you got a whole string up and running though, when most I know just haves a single store. Also have to mean that you must really know what you're doing when it comes to the goods, sooo..."

Pop smirked slightly and got a little closer to the desk.

"What can you recommend? I'd like something flavorful and sweet, and my... Coltfriend outside would like something with blackberries, if you have that?"

She wasn't sure what to call Benny in the moment when it came down to it, so she just went with the regular word used by ponies. She'd really have to think further on that later on, since she didn't think *dragonfriend* sounded right. Fitting yes, but not flowing out of the muzzle all that well.



@Foxy Socks

Brittle looked a little hurt over being told that she hadn't just all of a sudden found courage, but that it was pushed on her by silencing her fears and worries for the time being. She hadn't felt this good in... Well, ever really, and knowing this would eventually end made her a little sad.

"Isn't there a way I can keep being calm? I don't want to go back to being afraid of everypony again."

Zhu turned to the girl and looked her over, seeing the many varied ways her wicked life could twist and turn for about a half minute before saying anything.

"Before I leave, I will tell you what you need to know."

Individual lives were barely something that mattered to him anymore, but occasionally, he would show some mercy on those you couldn't help but pity, and in the case of this young mare, he did not see much in her future that would be reason to celebrate, even if she overcame her worries a little by little. Her half-formed state were one of the major reasons that would eventually backfire, and it seemed the chances of her finding out how to not end up in a state that would redefine misery were slim without intervention.

He wasn't evil, and he felt remorse over some of the things he had to do at times, but often he didn't have a choice in letting horrible things play out to balance the scale, and that left him somewhat jaded towards pain and short lived lives. Sometimes though, he would get across somepony who's future were so unlikely to affect anything, that he could do a little to try and save them. However, Brittle were not one of those ponies.

Her future mattered, and he knew that as several familiar threads started to play over again, just changed from between the first time he had seen them, through the changeling attack, her transformation, and up to now. Several things in the plans he had set up in regards to this young mare had already gone awry to varying lengths, and it were soon reaching the point where he could see he would have to step in and do something drastic himself. Not here and now, as he needed time to prepare someplace he could force the conversion to changeling fully on her, but in time he would have to return for her. Until then, the guard he had directed towards her would have to do the rest, even as limited as he currently were, with one of his vines missing.

None of this were something he told them however. Some things were not meant to be known by more than a select few, and never by those who it would affect. Mortal stubbornness would do wonder to put a stick in the wheel when it came to that, as most found they should have control over their own fate, and that just made it more problematic. Selective silence were the only real way to handle such a situation before it even started, and then have them think they made their choices well, badly or were simply unlucky. Better to ignore the creature behind the curtain.

"She never hurt anypony. What pain she gave, have been left in the vanishing mist of what never were. Her appeasement ensured that, and made the sacrifices for this outcome an acceptable cost.

If it is a consolation to your limited view of the unwritten, she will at the soonest rise long after you three have died. It have no impact on your lives as it stands now, and even if it were, you don't have the power needed to stop something of that magnitude."

A somewhat bleak message, but it was better than if he had told how little the lives of those he had to turn or... *Disappear* for this cause, actually meant in the grand scale. Unless you understood balance, it was few who could accept that no matter how hard you tried, there were times when the only thing to do were to sacrifice the lives of some, to save everything else.

He had been idealist once too. Thinking that if he just did everything right, nopony would have to die or suffer, and he would be a hero.

Reality had been cruel to him, and showed him how little his cozy view had been worth when everything came down to it. It had taught him the bitter way how things actually worked, and left him with blood on his paws that never seemed to truly wash off. Hardly a drop of which he had spilled himself, nor had touched his physical being, but his plotting and rearranging of things to ensure it would happen made him just as guilty as those who then did the horrendous deeds. perhaps even worse.




"I'm not as close as you, Sen.

I met you a few days ago, and you were looking for her. Most things I remember happening since then were to help find or save either of you for the other.

You two were made and grew up together. Years of history there I guess. Knowing eachother too, and bonding like master and sibling. I barely understand anything either of you have done since I met you, but I know that you two are close, like Mother tells us siblings should be. More than Lin and me can be."

Omen didn't see how some shadow-like substance were enough to say that Lin and her were closer than the two of them. Bonds, shared memories, understanding the motives and actions of the other, those sort of things seemed more important when it came to closeness, and she barely fitted anywhere there. She barely understood anything them, every aspect of their lives she followed them to seemed to open up for more confusion, and she couldn't even remember the last few days, leaving her complete memories with these two at about what, 2-3 days? Even if you looked at everything going on in the village as a bonding experience, Omen didn't have those memories to bond over. Just stories and fragments of images or phrases dangling around her mind when it came to some situations, whilst Sen and Lin knew it all. Plus countless other adventures before she even knew the Longma existed.

"Mother could say it better. And she would say to you what she kept doing to all of us when we make mistakes: She can be disappointing in our actions, but she can't hate her children. She makes sure we know that."

Several things were true about Mother, but chief among them were that she were furiously protective of her children. If something happened and she could do something, she would try to do what she could in her realm to help, and it pained her sometimes to know that she couldn't go beyond the gates to help without the entirety of this realm starting to destroy itself.

That wasn't the sort of being that would harm her own children without having no other choice, nor have wrath for them. The only reason she had shown any hostility towards Sen and Lin earlier, were because they were taken over by Legion, and her harsh words had been directed at them.

Another thing to keep in mind about Mother though that neither Sen nor Lin were thinking about right now, were that she had said several times that she were a reaper. A collector of souls, meant to send the dead onward to the next world. At least she used to do that, but that would still mean that she could answer something about the afterlife more than likely.

Omen didn't think on this though. She just stated the facts, and would try to get closer to older Sen. If she were intercepted, she'd stop, but still look towards him and ignore her doppelganger.

"Do you want us to make you strange too Sen? We could go look for a way to do it if it helps your nightmare."




"This is going too slow. We need a net!"

A snap of her tail and Anomaly unraveled into colored string putting itself together as a sentient net with eyes and her big ol' pumpkin mouth in the middle, floating forwards quickly towards the sugar mole they were in hot pursuit off.

They weren't going to harm it, but it was a small-minded creature, and would think the lot of them were out to eat it all up, like some of the predators on this isle. If they could just get hold of it and take a few careful licks of its delicious, sugary coating, it'd calm down and not be afraid of them anymore. They just had to get the quick kind-of-rodent first.

Meanwhile, somewhere else on the isle, the voice of Molotov cursing and Blitz laughing could be heard. It was a little hard to say why at a distance, but it likely had something to do with the mushrooms pumping out weird spores they had run into. A sentence that barely ever meant something good.




Null didn't want to move, confident in that stupid sword of his being a magical construct, which meant it'd be dust when it got near her, but the mare from before had interfered and run at her, tackling her out of the way so there were just a crater instead on the ground now as the crazy stallion yapped on and swung around like a drunk monkey.

She were about to yell back at Warlock that yes, he were still a coward and a fool to think his magic had anything to it that'd even make her nervous, when Astral began to taunt him and really make him loose his cool. Which was no t helping things, as he were already making panic occur in the streets as other ponies ran away screaming, or covering inside their houses. The ones who hadn't been struck that were, who were going to need further repairs to get them up and running again. Which would have to be infuriating for the forepony, who had just gotten this part of town sorted a half hour ago.

The building on fire would also catch a lot of attention from the ponies around, and most certainly from the ones that had been inside who ran out fast before the building got engulfed. From the sounds of things, somepony were going to get the fire fighters, but before they'd get there the building would likely be a smouldering pile of ash. Thank heavens it wasn't right up against another building, or this could have been a city-wide panic thing. Then again, a little wind and some embers could do a lot of bad things if something else happened, so they weren't safe yet.

Neither of those things were of much importance though, as the mad stallion for some reason changed his ideal target and threw his sword towards Void and great speed. Something she might usually be able to parry if she had her weapon, but she didn't, and she could only look on in terror as the blade got closer and closer, with Null trying to run towards her in a futile attempt to do something.

"Not on our watch."

A dragon - A bloody dragon! - had flown in and just managed to get his claws around the scorching blade in time to intercept it and tumble over the ground with it closely in his grip. The force it had been tossed with had had quite the impact on his ability to just grab it and be done with it, though as he got up again, you could see the only damage to him were the blood in his hands were the blade had cut into. Painful business from the looks of things, but he still got up from the ground again and rose over the ground on his leathery wings whilst Void scrambled over to Null to grab her big sister with tears in her eyes.

Benny didn't hear what the two were saying, nor focused much on it after he saw a Night Guard with a few years on him get out from around a building and do his to move the two of them along from the main street where all the craziness were going on. Something which left him time to head towards Warlock, who would also find a sharp Chakram flying through to air towards his side, thrown by the approaching General Screecher, who looked like she just about had it with everything Warlock were doing. Timely backup for Astral, but nothing to help Warlock thus far. Seemed like he might have a bit of problem. Doubly so if you counted the also rapidly approaching Null that had stolen the Night Guard's sword and were charging towards Warlock without any doubt about what she'd do with this sword.




The mare saluted the general.

"Right away sir."

Shimmer began to gather up any and all feathers she could get her eyes on, and looked for the mark that Iron Wings had just shown her. She were efficient in her work and would soon have gotten all within sight, and some others that had fallen under tables, rubble, glass, other guards and so on. She were a thorough mare who did her job as well as you'd want from an officer, and if only she were better at taking her own initiative rather than being mostly about following orders and making sure they got completed in as quickly and efficiently as possible, she could likely get even higher. A barrier she had an issue passing, but it didn't bother her much. A lieutenant rank were still impressive in her mind, considering how little faith she had in even passing the entry test to the guards to begin with, six years ago. She didn't exactly start young and primed up after all.

"I gathered them all sir. These are the ones marked as you asked for, three are questionable as there seem to be a marking, though damaged, and these appears to be void of any marks. I assumed you still wished to examine them yourself sir, just to make sure."

Meanwhile, at the infirmary, Dew and the gang would show up, and the ambassador would be swarmed on the spot. It wouldn't be the best place, and they had to call in the actual doctors to take him in soon, but they should be able to stabilize him until they were able to get here, so Golden should be safe and sound for the time being.

"Misty, Iron Star, did you need to be checked up on as well?"



@Dji @Widdershins

"Intimidated by you?"

Spicy had to stop walking for a bit from laughing so hard at Kaltrop's statement. Not so much how he had blown to that big ol' fire of his called *Pride*, because she'd let that pass really. A bit of ego was healthy, and it wasn't like she didn't go and blow her own horn now and again either. Nothing wrong in having some pride in your accomplishments, appearance, or something else you had going for you.

"Oh man, you really don't know Ponyville. It's a center of several bad things on a regular basis, making the populace there less inclined to be scared off by some unknown dragon wandering into town. It also haves a palace for some kind of princess, though I don't really know the name. I just know royalty means the area is well protected.

Believe me, they might give you some weird looks, but throwing rocks? Not unless you do something truly idiotic. And come on there Kaltrop, you can't keep being a salty third wheel the entire trip. You gotta try to loosen up and enjoy the view once in a while, or do I have to yell about being kidnapped and wanting help the second we get into town? Wouldn't it be better to just avoid all the hassle, take a few odd looks, and get off your high horse?"

She almost finished that off with a drum roll. Almost, but she managed to keep it to a mumble since she wanted to see how this went rather than have him smack her down for her poor musical talents, or comical timing. Everypony was a critic when it came to comedy.




"No! Please sir, I beg of you, don't eat me. Please, I just want to go back to my village."

See? They're living, thinking creatures too, not lunch.

So are cows. I don't see you holding back.

That's it. I warned you. Honey Badgers to the both of you!

Out of nowhere, a swarm of rabid, angry, extremely violent creatures began to fall to the floor and look between one another with a look going over them that they were considering fighting one another. That is until they saw the two draconequui, who were bigger targets on what they now considered their territory, and started to charge towards them with open maws and claws at the ready.

Whilst they went for the two of them, with about five going on Anomaly and a dozen more getting at Widdershins, a tiny door would open up next to the breezie, open up, and show her village on the other side. Hopefully neither of the two would get the chance to grab her before she'd pass through and return home.

Anomaly wouldn't notice anything, since she were currently having her metallic form weighed down and chewed on by what seemed like fury incarnated. It would likely have hurt, if it wasn't because of the small detail about her being metallic. They couldn't bite through her, which just infuriated them even more and made them claw and gnaw at her even more, trying to get her to stop laughing and get torn to pieces like a normal prey animal would.




"They use mail mares. I saw an office yesterday in town that you can use in the morning. Pretty late right now after all, and I don't think they got bat ponies on staff to deal with late night deliveries in a town like this."

He hoped they didn't at least. Good for nothing flying rat ponies had a knack for getting their noses stuck where they had no business being. The amount of times they had smelled something on him or almost caught him in the middle of the night, when he thought he were alone and could stretch out... Call it a grudge for too many near misses, but he really detested them.

"And no worries, I'll help you out. I've had plenty of experience repairing my own wagon since on the road, I gotta depend on myself. I'm sure I can use my skills to get you rolling too, and teach you a few ins and outs of fixing it yourself too."



@Little Snowdrop

"Getting a ride in an experimental vehicle? How could anypony refuse that."

Molotov looked positively giggly for a moment over getting to ride that thing, before the question about Center Zero got to the front of his mind and his enthusiasm had the air let out of it.

"Center Zero was attacked about a month ago. The security cameras didn't pick up anything and there isn't as much as a drop of blood in town, but something did definitely go in there and take everypony away with it. The signs of struggle were pretty clear from what I could find, but with nopony there or any clue where they went, I've had to ensure the town's security protocol were followed since then before calling in the Royal Guards. It's what brings us here today. More specifically: Research papers for several members of Vision Village that the researchers specifically wanted delivered to your townponies, in case of emergency."

You could see he had practiced it a lot of times to not break down from telling that his town were essentially dead right now, but he still struggled now and again to keep himself from tearing up, getting angry, or just start to feel depressed and miserable. Likely that was a bunch of emotions and options that would never stop, but he managed to mostly keep it down. For now.

"I was out of town for the time when the attacked occurred and only came back later. Blitz here were there, and escaped in a prototype rocket our mother made, but she landed pretty hard and her memories about anypony in town are gone. She doesn't even remember me anymore...

*sniff* I-I'm sorry, you don't need to hear me tearing up here. Blitz made it out, so I can have a little hope others can show up later too, right?"

The tear he had to dry away didn't exactly say that he had confidence in that, but he had to cling to something to not go nuts.

"Anyway, you said your names were Steampunk Gear and Floating Matter? I think I have a bundle for at least one of you in the bag, but I don't want to unpack it right here and now, if you don't mind. I just want to get to town, deliver these things, and then see if I can't get somepony to come back to Center Zero after that. Hopefully some of the brainy folks you have around can see things I didn't pick up on about this."

Molotov felt the metallic legs poke into him as Carmen started to emerge from the bag she had been hiding in when they approached these two unknown ponies, and towards his head, where the mechanical spider would look at the two that so far didn't seem like they were hostiles. Or clowns for that matter. She would have jumped them on sight if that had been the case.

"Heh, at least I'll always have you Carmen, you little rascal. You don't need to be afraid of these two, they're friendlies."

A series of clacking and skittering sounds escaped Carmen as she moved a few inches closer to the pair, though making sure she could skitter back if something happened all of a sudden. She was a rather sizeable one that seemed about a size where she'd be able to comfortably eat a parasprite, with the fur giving her some more bulk, but she wasn't like, the size of Blitz's head. Not too far off, but not quite hitting the mark either.



@dosey doe

"Yeah, let's eat in. I like the atmosphere of this place. Pretty cool."

Sorrow had never tried a sour chili combo in a muffin before, but now she heard it, she couldn't wait to try. Had to be all kinds of wonky, but who cared? Delicious and yummy should combine and make awesome.

She shook the four bits asked for out of the pouch hidden int he skull around her neck, where the lights had gone out again at some point it seemed. Apparently, Legion had gone back to *slumber* if you could call it that.

"I can stand here if you wanna find a seat while we wait for our treat. I bet it'll be magically delicious."

Smirking and giggling a little to herself, Sorrow would g o to the side in case other customers wanted to get up there whilst they waited, and just sort of hang there until it was muffin time. Well, unless she were told to go take a seat and wait instead, but she didn't see a sign about that, so until then, she'd stand ready.

Edited by Blitz Boom
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@Blitz Boom

While slightly relieved, Foxy still felt uncomfortable with the presence of such a being, dormant or not. Besides, what if something happened to the Evergrown? Foxy knew she had limited understanding, but she did not feel what had happened was right.


"What made you decide to alter the paths individuals make? Wouldn't it have been better to let things play out, to make it more natural? Even at worst, it still wouldn't seem worse than what you have already done," questioned Foxy. She did not know what to think of Zhu anymore. He seemed to be trying to to what was best, but it didn't seem justified to her. Not even Draconequui interfered that much with the lives and development of others. The only thing Foxy was sure she felt for him was pity. It must have been a sad life to do the things he did, and continue for eternity. To constantly see the things that Foxy only had a brief experience with, and to cause all the suffering. 


Foxy looked down at Brittle, feeling bad she was disappointed. Foxy wanted Brittle to come out of her shell, and Foxy knew she wanted it too. Lightly hugging Brittle, Foxy said reassuringly, "I promise you'll be more confident soon, especially with someone as nice as Brittle. Just be patient."

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@Blitz Boom

The shy pony seemed a little taken aback unsure of her own ability to locate the various products of her shop.

"B-blackberries? Yes I'm sure I have something somewhere..."

She turned and quickly trotted to the other end of the counter and through a little archway leading to the bakery itself. After a couple of minutes and a lot of clattering about she finally trotted daintily back in with three plates suspended above her head, illuminated in a faint yellow magical glow. She stopped but the plates kept going, doing a quick twirl above the anxious customer's head before landing gently in front of her on the counter, proudly presenting three slices of cake.

"Sorry that took so long... I'm used to having my little apprentice Cupcake Sprinkles to help me find things but she's got her own bakery now... in Fillydelphia."

She was looking at the ground as she said this as if ashamed for her slower than usual service.

"My sister is meant to be helping me but she's too busy preening her mane all day... A-anyway, the cakes, I've found two with blackberries and the other one is Battenberg cake which is my speciality and is native to my hometown of Trottingham."

The three slices looked and smelled fresh and tasty, the first a dark purple sponge covered in purple icing and freshly picked backberries, the second a more plain looking sponge filled with thick blackberry jam and coated with a light frosting of sugar and the third a square of marzipan filled with a checker pattern of yellow and pink.

"W-what do you think... I can give you a taster of anything in the shop, i-if you want, that way you know you like what you're buying before you buy it. Would you like to try one of these three, o-or should I find something else?"

She stepped backwards when she finished speaking and bowed her head again though her eyes stayed fixed on the customer, expectantly waiting for an answer.

Edited by Battenberg
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@Blitz Boom      Hah! Burn! How many species do you know specifically breed others for the express purpose of being too dumb to know better? Well, alot actually, but that's besides the point. At least don't kill anything when I swallow it alive! Not... Not If I can help it. I don' even haaave a digestive system! Think that's enough out of you, that train of thought is getting too disturbing again.

   After his previous outburst of talking to himself, Widdershins pauses in a thinking pose as a near-dozen of the suddenly appearing beasts clamp their way around his body like particularly determined baby birds. The longer draconequus only stopping every few moments to swat one away from getting too near his face, despite the numerous puncture wounds collecting around his mostly vestigial body.

  Huh, wonder if Honey Badgers taste like honey? Like, that's how the fruit bats in most Equestrias work. 

  Hmm? Oh! A-nom-noms! The little bugger is getting away! 

                                                          ...Oh, no! I wasn't going to eat the lil' cretin! Maybe pull off its wings & limbs while it watched, then plug it all back together. You know, sometimes it's hard for me to peg whether your evil or your typical "Little Boy" mentality. Either way... don't think I approve...

  Oh come now! The draconequus says aloud over Anomaly's head and seemingly addressing nothing. Comedy is all about the suffering! It's when there's lasting damage is what makes it Tragedy! Well, there's mental anguish on the Breezie's behalf...  The trick is keeping a fine balance on it! It's an Art, really! Oh no... And Art! Is!  Widdershins's body seems to glow slightly as his eyes point different directions as he rears up in excitement, badgers attached and with his last word... EXPLOSION!  His Cor-...  body explodes like a party firecracker, limbs and body chunks scattering to random parts of the white room, the badgers being mostly stunned from the sudden force and, hopefully, the tiny pony fairy having escaped through its miniature portal in the confusion.

   Through the light violet mist in the air, a quiet voice can be heard idly musing partly to itself after everything dies down.

                                                                                             ...Huh, wonder if there was any pineapple in any of that gift basket? Could sure go for some pineapple about now!


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