1313/Arlequine and Trottumbina

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Arlequine and Trottumbina
Date of Scene: 11 January 2015
Location: Divided Equestria
Synopsis: The source of the Laughing Dead is found. She is not very funny.
Cast of Characters: 2, Staren, 108, 264, Mortimer Balman, 470, 475, 513, 626, 683
Tinyplot: Crying Clowns

Pinkie (470) has posed:
    Equestria has seen better days. In the time that has passed since prior investigations, the outbreaks of the Laughing Dead have reached terrible proportions. All but impossible to cover up at this point, houses Whitegold, Stormwing, and Earthborn have been actually willing to ceasefire, even if briefly, to deal with the cackling ZOMBIES that have been spreading like wildfire. As ever, though, House Everfree is mainly unwilling to do a thing other than attack anyone and everyone else.
    The time for investigation is over, the time for action is now, and all previous leads, plus some new ones point to a possible source for all the horror.
    The issue is that it's IN the Everfree forest.
    The Everfree forest is an EXCESSIVELY unfriendly place. Aside from the refugees trying to survive within, the entire forest is a place that prettymuch wants to see you dead. Yes YOU. The trees are tall, scowling with fanged leers and hard stares from every shadow, dense foliage overhead blots out the sun wholesale, leading to a chill darkness where not a single animal can be heard, and every snapping twig is a portent of danger.
    The selected Union-Confederate-Syndicate meeting spot for a sudden joint operation into the woods is a small clearing, but it looks like someone has already been here.
    There are corpses everywhere- some of which are still twitching. Some are days- even weeks old; rotten and smelling, decomposed horribly yet still twitching from bite marks. Others are more fresh... Dressed in vibrant and gay colors, bells that no longer jingle, and brass masks of the Cult of Laughter's Jesters of Baltimare.
    This is walking right into a bloodbath and butchery, men, women, in both human and pony forms are strewn about in a grisly trail down another path.

Ghost Crew One (683) has posed:
    Fittingly for a place of undead, a train of ghostly hues steams it sway towards the clearing. Well, not much of a train, just the engine and 1 car at the moment. It's in batten-down-the-hatches mode, all windows and doors locked down; presumably there are cameras to see by.

    The tracks it runs on seem solid enough while the train's on them, but as soon as it passes they fade out of existence, while new ones coalesce in front.

    As the train comes to a gradual halt on reaching the clearing, one of the doors hisses and slides open and out on to the catwalk steps a young man of broad stature with, fittingly, a shotgun. Hereward cringes at the smell. "/Damn./" He looks back and calls, "You might wanna stay in there!"

    But, nonetheless, a smaller teen joins the big guy on the catwalk, surveying the field with eyes behind a set of HUD-glasses. "Well." is all he has to say.

Mortimer Balman has posed:
     Mortimer cares little for the dead or the horrors of the Everfree. He lives in the other still-intact Ponyville, after all. Granted his Everfree is slightly more.. Contained and restrained than this one is, but either way. He's been in there deep before. And he's been in this one too, the last time he went looking for Pinkie. The forest is creepy, and unnerving, and full of horrible things, but he thus far doubts that it has anything /new/ to show him that can really give him a proper /fright/.

     Besides, he brought his own undead horror with him to the show.

     Nettle is sitting quietly on her Master's shoulder, sock-puppet body still showing a few fading signs of being recently stitched up. The look on her face is grim- she has a good idea- or at least, a better one than Mort- of what's going on here, and it fills her with disapproval and disgust. Pitiable wretches. The little ghost will not be happy until every last one of the cackling corpses has been put to rest in a more permanent and proper fashion.

     Now as to why Mortimer's here at the meeting place.. Well, that's anyone's guess how he even found out about things. He's not part of the Union/Fed/Syndicate circle. So why did that beat up old hovervan of his land here, why is he in everyone's way? Spoilers: pure coincidence! He's just looking for Pinkie to make sure she's okay, and the rest of YOU people are in the way of HIS searching and putting-down-the-dead efforts!

Finna (513) has posed:
    When nature becomes too feral and malevolent for humans to survive... join it, because you'll never beat it. Such is the Lunar Way. The Lunar Exalted are the terrors that stalk the night to prey on the lesser terrors in defense of Creation. Feared beings of primal savagery and seductive allure, representatives of nature's fury and superiority over all that would stand against it.

    And yet... Finna's still unnerved by this place.

    The forest is too warm for Finna. Her usual white fur's been abandoned for a summer coat, rendering her in shades of grey and dirty white. It's better camouflage, at least, but any situation that forces her to look less than pristine and striking is one that gets her heckles up. She likes her winter coat, dammit all!

    She's pacing around the edge of the clearing instead of doing anything about the corpses herself. Certainly, other people will be more than happy to see to the task of butchering the few remaining shamblers and they're welcome to it.

    Finna has her nose to the ground, sniffing for the almost certain telltale evidence left behind for WHICH DIRECTION they came from... a bunch of rotting corpses traveling through the forest, or being carried, almost certainly leaves an indelible mark...

Eliot Ness (264) has posed:
Federal Agent, aka Eliot Ness, aka (To Winnowill) Magister Twilight's Pet Human, is here. Despite being occupied with local-world problems of his own, he has found the time to branch out and come to help Twilight out on her world. He was already in for a penny on this muck-a-luck, why not be in for a pound.

With equipment as rare as can be found, he's been forced to use old surplus equipment with no swapping parts instead of his newer gear. That means he has an old, Browning M1897 with the full-length barrel, at the moment. But he's well in the process of remedying this, because the shotgunis being propped at an angle against a log as he finishes hacking through the barrel just an inch above the magazine with a handsaw. Both the metal tube and the saw are left on the grass near the log as he picks up the shotgun and inspects it, "Works well enough." He notes before pumping it once to cock it and then slide in another shell to fill out the empty spot.

The shotgun is then slung across his back and replaced a moment later with a Colt Police Positive, the hammer getting pulled back with a loud click. The corpses are largely disregarded. Bodies in a forest are usually way too impossible to investigate even on mundane terms, much less a magical death forest. For now, he's mostly hanging around quietly.

Magister Twilight (475) has posed:
    The ground shudders once... then twice. The slight tremors come with the creaking and crashing of something BIG moving through the forest toward the clearing, something that makes the trees and vegetation sway. If there WERE animals, they'd be fleeing... but since there aren't, it actually seems a bit creepy, most likely, that the forest isn't reacting.

    In no time at all, a massive purple head breaks through the foliage, and is swiftly followed by the lumbering bulk of a large dragon, plodding right into the clearing. A snort of green flame puffs out of its nostrils, and it surveys those here with a growling noise deep in its throat-

    "Spike. They're with us. Lay down."

    That voice is still crisp and clear, but it has a very odd softness to it, lacking the usual sharp edge that Twilight has been known to give orders with to her usual bodyguards. Speaking of which, two stallions plod through the forest as well, flanking the dragon as said dragon settles onto all fours, revealing the large saddle carrying Twilight and Winnowill... or Black Snake, as she's known to most of those here.

    Twilight is in her humanoid form, and lightly hops off to give a pat to Spike's side. "We'll need you to stay and stand watch. Don't worry, I'll be right back before you know it."

Winnowill (108) has posed:
BLACK SNAKE is indeed here! A unicorn-girl, slender and willowy, with delicately pale skin. She's dressed in flowing black robes, with the coiled snake of her 'cutie mark' embroidered upon the side where her hip should be. She even has a little nub of a horn!

No sign of TK though. She simply slides off and smiles to those present, before taking a brisk walk around the carnage with a thoughtful expression. "Hmm..."

Staren has posed:
    Staren cares little for the horrors of the Everfree. Or rather... he cares, but it's relatively routine. In the 25th century, full body armor and an energy weapon is the /minimum/ safe equipment anyone smart goes outside the cities with.

    Although... it's disturbing to see Equestria like this. So far, most of his visits to /this/ Equestria have been places he didn't visit in the other. But to find Ponyville and the Everfree like this...

    Well, they're here to make things better, after all.

    When nature becomes to feral and malevolent for humans to survive, you gear up. Arm yourself with technology or /become/ technology -- tooth and claw will fall to enough lasers, magic, and nuclear fire. Staren is still in his robot body, and sees no reason to change back for this mission. Unfortunately, yesterday, Nox beat up his armor, and without time to repair it, Staren had to buy replacements and paint them red quickly. Fortunately, in the darkness of the forest, it's a little harder to see that 'My car got banged up and they couldn't quite match the paint' effect of his armor pieces not quite all matching. He is, however, forced to use his /other/ helmet, the one normally reserved for intimidation. Oh well. (Armor reference here - http://multiversemush.com/mw/index.php?title=WMAT_B1_Staren_vs._Vendetta - Staren's replaced the visible external weapons with small missile racks behind the shoulders and some twin-barreled energy weapon attached to the right forearm)

    Trotting behind him are a squad of five animated metal unicorn statues. The Everfree is not a practical place to bring his whole golem army, unfortunately, but every little bit helps, right?

    Staren nods to people he recognizes. "Mortimer? Glad you could make it." He doesn't recognize Finna's summer coat. He can't remember if Eliot Ness had a codename, so the man just gets a nod. And then... dragon! Staren turns, eyes wide... and then remembers Spike's birthday. "Spike...?" he breathes. And then... "Twil-- I mean, Archmagister." He restrains a cheerful greeting into a more formal, curt nod.

Homura Akemi (2) has posed:
    One could make a very strong case taking the extra effort to climb that tree is just showing off, past a point. That one person isn't here, since that implies a sensory range that those present fortunately don't have to be able to berate Homura about it.

    It is thus on a thick tree branch that the Puella Magi is present, leaning on it casually. Red glasses, hair loose, and a neat, formal suit befitting a completely normal secretary, which as far as she knows is still a valid identity here since she hasn't tipped her hand, and Ness probably wouldn't have either.

    Since her entrance makes no noise or warning, it's perfectly fine to miss here. She'll just be faking taking notes on a clipboard, and keeping an eye on Eliot and the Archmagister otherwise.

Pinkie (470) has posed:
    It's a tight fit in the clearing when Spike shows up, but with the joint party assembled the only matter that's left is to find those ruins. At this point any questions can probably be fielded to Twilight, Ness, or Homura, but there's little to do HERE except maybe poke at the corpses.
    In no time at all however the silent stillness of the forest is broken. A shrill cry from the north reveals a path worn by recent passing, lined with more bodies. But there's not just a cry. The distant sounds of frantic motion pick up, clashing, crashing, the occasional metal on metal. Even a distant spark in the darkness.
    The winding, confusing, nature of the dark forest makes the path much longer than it should be, but it looks like all sources of intel picked out the right place. A hustle will bring the group to the foot of a battered old stone temple. The roof is missing in places, walls are broken, and the place is worn by age. But an malevolence hangs palpably in the air. And the all out fight for survival happening here is reaching a wild peak.
    Three battered figures are working their way up the stone steps, getting backed up by a horde of corpses. Rotten ponies flash teeth, shambling pony-human hybrids limp, all of them reach for the trio of brightly dressed clowns. A unicorn-girl, a winged pegasus boy, both wearing brass masks and inverted colors to match the other. The third with them is wearing a white mask, decorated by a slender, mirthless murderer's smile and a single teardrop, in faded pink.
    Pound, Pumpkin, and the mysterious NAMELESS ASSASSIN are here putting on a last stand.

Mortimer Balman has posed:
     Mortimer calmly reaches into his van long enough to pull out an enormous sword- Finna would immediately recognize it as some manner of Grand Daiklave, made from Solar gold and red Jade- and heft the blade over his ghost-free shoulder. "...The hell...?" Who were the rest of these people? And.. Wait. A big dragon. Green.. Green flames. "...Oh sweet goddesses.. Spike?" The eyes. The flames. The colouration. "..Oh Spike, lad, what happened..?" A look of utter despondence takes his face, but only for a moment. Nettle immediately begins hissing irritably. "<No time, Master. We have work to do.>" The despondence fades, face hardening instead. "..Yea, that we do." He'd perk an ear up, looking in the direction of the fighting. "..Aye, Staren, glad yer here too, son. You can introduce me to the rest of yer friends here later. C'mon!"

     The sounds of screaming and fighting are quick to lure Mortimer toward the living ponies. Nettle's eyes turn a bright shade of red before she vanishes from sight and fades away into whatever aether exists around here. There is no immediate visible effect from this, but every few moments one of the shuffling corpses seems to just.. Fall down, seemingly at random, and it does not get back up. It is a mystery.

     Given Mort's lack of speaking on the locally used radio band, someone should probably tell him it's actually there to be spoken on at some point!

Kyra Hyral (626) has posed:
    Along for the undead-stopping ride, Kyra Hyral has been a new, if quiet face. Only a handful of people here remotely know her and of them only Finna might recognize that she's being a lot quieter than usual. The pale-skinned Hume does seem to know what she's getting into-or at least has prepared adequately to fight undead which are a common phenomenon on her world as well. She has no fewer than three guns on her, two of which seem to be handguns while the third is a rifle, held to her back with a strap.

    Every now and then she shoots Spike a look of rapt fascination. Seems she'll never tire of actually getting to see dragons /in person/.

    As they travel along, Kyra places herself in the middle of the group, not taking the lead nor bringing up the rear so there is always at least someone in front and behind her. As they finally seem to catch up with the still-living cultists, Kyra grimly pulls the rifle off her back and takes up aim.

Ghost Crew One (683) has posed:
    "Huh, I'll be..." Hereward says, eyeing the dragon over as though to size it up. Once they're sure it's not going to attack, Alain puts and elbow on the catwalk's railing and rests his head on his hand. But he's not idle; he's taking note of all the others present. Evaluating and committing them to memory. Hereward just leans back against the cabin. Eventually they're joined by a third; she pinches her nose at the stench and presses her scarf closer to her mouth.

    Then the sounds of battle reach them, and as the others start to move... "Guess we're moving out," Hereward comments. All thread head back inside.

    The train slowly chuffs along behind the party, following behind at enough of a distance to not get it anyone's way.

    When they come to the temple, the ghostly-golden hued train comes to a halt and the whistle sounds. Yet... something sounds /wrong/ about the whistle, as though it's grating on one's soul. But the only actual negative effect is directed towards the undead: the Slow spell, in an attempt to give the others an easier time of fighting the horde. Whether or not that works, then it simply opens up on the undead with its turrets.

Magister Twilight (475) has posed:
    "Okay, Twi," Spike rumbles in a deep bass voice. He squints at Mortimer, utterly confused at the familiar tone. He still sounds young in intonation, even though he's huge and full-grown for a dragon now. Twilight shoots a look at Mortimer, a glowering one, and then gives Spike's snout a light caress as of an affectionate pat.

    As soon as she's far enough away that she can't be overheard by the dragon, Twilight sighs, "These undead are getting far out of hoof, aren't they? I would prefer to have Spike's flame with us, but I think it would be too dangerous to take him far into Lady Fluttershy's domain." It is, notably, one of the few times she's shown concern for an underling.

    Then zombies! The Archmagister scowls at the scene, and for a long moment it does look like she's not going to interfere. The moment passes swiftly though... she hates zombies much more than she hates her assassin, and more importantly the curiosity of Pinkamena's identity has her motivation firing to keep her alive.

    "Flank and cut them off," she orders the two monks beside her. The stallions immediately charge, horns aglow with power, and crash into several zombies.

    Twilight herself lets her horn glow as she gestures, keeping herself safe by sending little flashes of purple magic toward the nearest. They aren't fireballs or force bolts, but instead any that they strike will poof into... fruit. And since they're zombies, it's rotten fruit. Pears, apples, oranges, clusters of grapes... the works. Having them further slowed will hopefully help.

Staren has posed:
    The zombies are attacking... the assassin?

    But, they can't let her die, apparently. He points at the three defenders. "Defend the jesters!"

    Another pair of missile racks has been stuck to the sides of one of the statues. It fires, a half-dozen missiles spreading out into the zombie horde gathered ahead, exploding in great plasma fireballs... clearing the way for the golems to charge in, Staren leading them with beam cannons blazing. "ASSASSIN! It looks like we're on the same side today! We must end the undead menace! How?"

    The golems aren't terribly effective fighters -- they just ram things or hit them hard. But they are animated, solid metal, so they can take hits. Starenm hopes they'll draw at least /some/ attention from the undead horde!

Finna (513) has posed:
    Finna ends up swooping through the forest at high speed. She manages turns by BOUNCING off trees and springing off them with enough speed to send her sailing out into the temple clearing and up the stone. Her scrabbling feet somehow find purchase and send her zipping up to the trio of defenders and then... fwooooosh.

    She skids up at an impossible angle, whips around, SPRINGS off the ancient crumbling stone and ROCKETS as a silvery streak down into the line of zombies. Her body becomes a blurring, spinning disk of silvery light from her weird technique - the Claws of the Silver Moon lash out to decapitate zombies like a scythe reaping grain.

    "DIIIIISSGUUUUSTING!" She barks out through the whole mess!

Eliot Ness (264) has posed:
A dragon is new. Ness had yet to meet Spike, and so he looks a bit surprised, levelling iron on the dragon as it lands, for as futile a gesture as it is. He's relieved to see it's Twilight and that other woman who healed him once before. He recovers composure and lets the pistol fall to his side, tipping his hat to the both of them.

Greetings and nods are returned to Staren and the others who noticed his presence, keeping up a formal tone before he looks over at Helpful Secretary (Homura Akemi) and then unslings the sawed-off pump-action from his back and hands it to her, "Here. We get in a jam, just hold down the trigger. It'll fire as fast as you can pump it if you don't release the trigger." He adds, "Emergencies only, though."

He scowls a bit and then keeps walking through the forest, his revolver gripped tightly in his hand until they're coming on the assassins making a holding at the steps. The Federal Agent narrows his eyes a bit and then reaches into his jacket. FIRST instinct is to protectively move between Twilight and any approaching Zombies, even if she can handle herself. His next instinct is to reach under his jacket and pull out a handgrenade, tossing it into the swarm, but trying to avoid throwing it near any allies in melee.

Magister Twilight (475) has posed:
    One of the zombies turns into a rotten pineapple, just then.

Homura Akemi (2) has posed:
    There is no actual transition between Helpful Secretary using that tree branch like a couch and her standing a little bit behind and to Federal Agent's side. No sound, no visual cue. Just the black-haired late teenager pushing her glasses up and doing her best impression of an assistant for the much older, more professional man. She's fairly quiet, all told, unless addressed first. She doesn't visually defend herself either, and completely lacks a weapon to do so with anyway.

    That undead occasionally and randomly have their heads blown off when they so much as look at her the wrong way is wholly coincidental, as Homura keeps following after Ness. Then she's handed a shotgun. She does her best impression of a secretary being handed a shotgun. "How crude, sir. But very well."

    How will she ever know how to use that correctly.

Winnowill (108) has posed:
Black Snake is largely quiet, and makes no comment to the others. She doesn't even speak when they make contact with the zombie horde. She's mainly observing the others, rubbing her chin now and then. She doesn't move until everyone else starts attacking, and then it's to wait until a few zombies stagger nearby. Finally, she speaks.

"Hmm. I wonder..." Black Snake murmurs. As the nearest zombie approaches, she holds out her hand and makes a 'tugging' motion... then frowns, and does it again. This time, it has an effect, and a brief glimpse of a ghostly figure can be seen being 'yanked' out of the zombie's body, before it vanishes into Winnowill's body. The zombie collapses to the ground, inert.

Pinkie (470) has posed:
     A problem for three is NOT a problem for the sudden onrush of relief that the jesters did not expect. The Laughing Dead were already shambling and slow but the dooming whistle of the ghost train makes them nearly crawl. And then its easy pickings.
    The KRUMP of a grenade sends viscera and fruit juice all over the clearing in a spray of blood and fermented sugar, and laughter dies in the throats of the dead as heads explode from sudden inexplicable clock-breaking ways and silvery moonlight claws shred them up amid the work of golems and soul sucking. In general, these corpses are easy to handle for the group, and in no time only stragglers are left- allowing the three Jesters to just... Collapse on the stairs.
    Pound and Pumpkin immediately take to the Assassin's side, holding her up as she goes limp for a beat. But eventually that porcelain smile glances up.
    "Well... Well well well... I never thought I'd be happy to see Twilight and her flunkies."
    How to end the undead menace though. "That's a good question." One arm lifts, displaying a hastily wrapped bandage, soaked in festering brown-black blood from a bite-shaped wound as 'Laughing Stalk' (Which is what Ness codenamed the Assassin) jerks her thumb at the temple. "In there somewhere." It's an honest answer. Too tired and haggard for guile, and the twins at her side look just as battered, though bite free.
    "... How many are left?" This is to the younger clowns with her.
    "It's just us." The unicorn replies softly.
    This seems like a problem.
    "Heh. Funny. I came in here with ten of my best assassins. Oh well. I guess we'll just have to join up with you all."

Mortimer Balman has posed:
     Mortimer doesn't even need to carve his way through the dead. Between Nettle's unseen machinations and the firepower of everyone else, he's free to just jog up to the stairs and then calmly kneel down to help Pound and Pumpkin- whom he thankfully doesn't recognize at all- hold up 'Laughing Stalk'. "Yer not in much condition to keep playin' games, funny-face. ...But somethin' tells me if we all say no, you're gonna try to follow us down anyway and might do some fool thing to get yerselves offed and join the cacklers. You three keep close to me, aye? Ought to keep you outta trouble whiles you can follow along too."

     He'd look over at the others. "Sound good to the rest of you lot?"

Kyra Hyral (626) has posed:
    As the undead are efficiently cleared by the overwhelming (and fruit-flavored) firepower of the group, Kyra finds that in the immediate moment she doesn't need to dispense healing to the party. Though upon closer inspection of the pair of clowns with the Assassin, Pound and Pumpkin do look like they could use a little TLC. In this case, Kyra does not opt to fire upon them with the rifle but instead removes a pair of the darts that are usually loaded into the weapon from one of the bandoliers on her chest.

    Calmly, she strolls over to the followers and attempts to stick one dart in each. "Generally, zombies are everyone's problem no matter what faction you're in." Kyra agrees with Mortimer. "You should come along."

    Warily, Kyra eyes the bitemark on the Assassin's arm and cringes. "...excuse me, but may I take a look at that?" As she asks, she digs through one of the pouches on her belt, producing an empty vial and a set of tweezers.

Staren has posed:
    Staren steels himself. This is going to be a long night. Likely a nigh-endless fight against the undead, until at last they are all defeat--

    Oh it's over already.

    Staren blinks. He flips up his faceplate -- under it is, indeed, his normal face -- and he looks between the three surviving assassins. "...I guess we'll see what's more important to you." He turns to the temple. "In there somewhere, huh?" He nods to Mort. "Sounds good, let's go. Guard the entrance." That last command is to his golems, which stand around to the side of the entrance while people walk in.

    Staren suddenly stops, and turns around. "Twilight... I mean, Archmagister, what /is/ this place?"

Eliot Ness (264) has posed:
"I already stated my intent and feelings in relation to this matter," Ness says in a flat tone, looking to Twilight and then back over to the Assassin, "Please endeavor to refrain from pig-stickin' one another while we're here in the sticks," He notes, watching the zombie and fruit fly everywhere.

"I know you dislike Firearms, Helpful Secretary. Please try to trudge through for the sake of my record keeping," He adds to her, smiling slightly. He tips his hat to the young girl and then looks over to the Assassin, taking out his revolver again, "In there?"

"Let's go. I wanna off this punk and put this case to bed."

Magister Twilight (475) has posed:
    The Archmagister's monks return to her side as the undead are mopped up. Surprisingly, they don't look very injured... maybe they aren't cannon fodder after all? She allows the others to rush over to the assassin and just crosses her arms. "If you are going to help us, then you can come with us." Twilight still doesn't get anywhere near her, though.

    To Staren, the Archmagister answers quietly, "It is an ancient temple, from the time of Discord... or likely, before. Before the two sister came to us and gave us their benevolence." After a small delay, she finally asks, "Assassin, do you know anything about who may be inside there? All we have is a Federal Agent, a talking ermine, a secretary, and a train. A very neat train. I'll need to get a better look at that later." Not that she's ignoring Staren or Black Snake or Finna, but it is kind of a ragtag group.

    "Spike should keep us from getting surprised by further undead."

Finna (513) has posed:
    The fox sprints away from the fallen corpses all the quicker thanks to DOOM TRAIN's presence. ZOOOOM, she wants nothing to do with big scary flying train thing from the Netherworld or wherever the heck it hails from.

    This happens to send her over near Mortimer Balman.

    She answers his question in the simplest way possible: by hopping straight up and licking him once on the cheek. On her way back down he gets a facefull of FLUFFY TAIL though!

    This leaves the summer coat'd Snow Fox staring creepily up at THE ASSASSIN. Her head slowwwwwwly tilts and eyes fixate HARD.

    It's an INCREDIBLY creepy stare coming from an animal...

Ghost Crew One (683) has posed:
    Once all clear, the train chuffs slowly to the foot of the temple. It comes to a halt, the hiss of presumably steam through its pipes indicating that it might be dumping pressure. After a moment, the cabin door opens again, and the trio slides down the ladder from the catwalk: Hereward on point, Navarre taking up the rear.

    "You all know the drill," Alain murmurs, "Careful about proximity and have Remedies in easy reach." All three have their weapons in hand as they follow the party towards the temple entrance.

    Hereward asks Eliot directly, "You know who it is we're after?" Alain and Navarre watch for an answer with interest, the former adding, "We don't have intel on the target."

    Alain sips a drink. An energy drink, from the look of the can, called ETHER and subheaded 'meteor black'. To Twilight he nods, "Smaller interiors might give our guidance system some trouble... we're leaving it here too be safe. But we're not one trick chocobos."

    If anyone lingers to watch the train, it loses its hue to become just a plain old hunk of metal.

Staren has posed:
    "Federal Agent. Helpful Secretary." Eliot and Homura get nods. Staren looks back to the Archmagister. "But who built it? For what? Are there no records? Any clue to what we might find inside..." He trails off. If she's not saying, she must not know. "I guess it really is a mystery." He mutters to himself, and turns forward again.

    And stops, briefly, as he remembers that story Applebloom told, about running into undead in the forest. If this temple is in the other world too... could it have been real?

    A flash of another memory: Won't you stay?

    Staren freezes, then shakes his head. Just a dream. He reaches up and flips his faceplate back down, then turns expectantly to the Assassin, wondering if she has any information.

    Also, there's a ghost train. But he can't get distracted with finding out how that works right now. There is already so much going on that ghost trains can't dominate his attention. But one day, he and Twilight will get answers. Or at least try to.

Pinkie (470) has posed:
    "Ow." "Ouch." The twins practically say in unison.
    "That-" "-Stung."
    Pound and Pumpkin clearly do not like needles, but the young clowns are back on their feet as a result. However the masked killer amid them can only give a throaty chuckle when Mortimer offers to let her keep close. She's already picking herself up. "You can keep an eye on the twins. I'm already dead. On the inside anyway." Comes her mirthless whisper of reply, tugging the bandage aside for Kyra to get a look.
    It is, in fact, a bite. Deep; pracrically down to the bone, crusted with dried blood that's been left to putrefy for way too long. It is a debilitating, crippling wound that would leave most people screaming in unending agony. And she's powering through it with little more than a tremble in her hand. But on to business.
    Her other hand comes up. She's holding one of those killer black knives. A flick of the wrist and it's gone. Replaced by a deck of cards. Shuffling one handed she nudges one out and... Offers it to Twilight. A peace gesture perhaps? "Relax, Federal Agent. We all have bigger things to deal with here. I can Not Kill Twilight for a little longer."
    Still, as to what's in there, she shrugs. "More of the Laughing Dead. And what caused them. A lot of good ponies died to find out that much."
    Beyond the entrance of the temple, the space cramps down rapidly. It was a good idea to get off thr train and head further in on foot, and there's no way Spike will be able to fit in. It's pitch black, but the killer clown's green eyes seem to glimmer and glow. "Anyone got a light?" Teased idly, voice carrying in an echo.
    There are torches left unlit all down the path, though people probably have their own sources of light. The walls are decorated in all manners of angient hieroglyphs, depicting scenes of ancient rituals and sacrifice. It is not a pleasant place, and the moans and shuffles from deeper within say the party is not alone.

Mortimer Balman has posed:
     Mortimer looked down at the twins, then at 'Stalk', and nodded. "Alright.. Whatever you say." Naturally, he has a source of light of his own. Namely, his head! Helps that he is literally on fire most of the time. And.. Then a fox has jumped on his shoulder, given him foxkisses, and then hopped down after bomping his face with its tail. Da hell? "...I guess that answers that, then. Alright you two.. Stay behind ol' Morty, yeah?" That said to the twins, of course, not to everyone else. "Cramped spaces. Lovely. Oh well, not the first time.." He'd hunker down as is necessary and carefully keep that big-arsed sword pointed out where he could keep from stabbing people with it. "Urf. Guess this wasn't built with tall folks in mind.." Crouch, long-steps. This is going to give him such annoying back pains later. Grumble.

     At the very least he could puff flames out now and then to light the torches and mark their path as they went along.

Ghost Crew One (683) has posed:
    "We got light," Hereward grins to Pinkie. Alain nods as though to confirm and, on cue, both Alain and Navarre pull small gun-looking devices from their belts. Only, the piping and other accoutrements suggest it's an air-driven mechanics rather than a firearm of sorts.

    'ph-thlunk ph-tlunk'. The brother and sister begin shooting the devices, but the only thing that comes out are... glowsticks! Of a sort. Brighter than their chemical counterparts, plenty of light in these small passages for anyone that might not have brought their own.

    The trio also has flashlights attached to their weapons, but for now, they're not using them. And, putting his shotgun aside for a moment, Alain pulls out a small camcorder-like device, perhaps to capture the heiroglyphs.

Eliot Ness (264) has posed:
"Don't know the full details. Just know it's someone bringin' back the dead to do their bidding like in them hack Lovecraft novels you can get at the drug store dime rack," He says, shrugging his shoulders and then waving his gun faintly. He doesn't have any more helpful information at that exact moment.

He looks over to Staren and nods, "Lad. How've you been?" A formal greeting, but a pleasant one. It's time to return to business a moment later, though, and he moves back to stand in front of Twilight as it comes time to descend into the temple. If other people want to take point, fine. He'll switch back into the role of loyal bodyguard, despite the woman being much more powerful than him.

As they descend, he reaches to his belt and pulls out a metal cylinder. He shakes it a few times and then flicks a switch on the side. There's a humm, a light crack, and then light shines from the tip of it. It's an old-style metal flashlight. He shines it around and looks over his shoulder, "If danger should arise, please stay behind me, Archmagister."

Finna (513) has posed:
    For whatever reason, the fox is now stalking Mortimer Balman. Or rather... Finna's sticking close. Although when asked for a light... she responds by turning into a LIVING BEACON.

    A 'burning' silvery-blue (with some swirling purples thrown in for good measure) surrounds her. It's brighter than a torch and chases away SOME shadows.. although others wane and wax weirdly, creepily, when exposed to the purest moonlight. The change is accompanied by the crescent moon suddenly glowing from her forehead.

    Mortimer Balman may know what that means a bit more than the others do.

    But the fox still trots along with the others, nose to the ground and sniff-sniff-sniffing.

Magister Twilight (475) has posed:
    Twilight takes the card... then scowls at it and sighs. She does tuck it away and seems to accept the help. She moves on forward, letting Ness take the lead... but a little fluttering noise swoops in behind him. One of the torches is on fire and has little bat wings, flitting around back and forth in front of him to provide light. More transmutation maic, it appears.

    Twilight herself just walks quietly behind, her horn glowing for her own light source. "Have I mentioned lately that I really dislike necromancy? Just putting that out there. Though from a purely magical achievement standpoint, some of the things the Cult has done are very impressive. I would have trouble replicating them."

Kyra Hyral (626) has posed:
    Too bad for Pound and Pumpkin. Kyra seems entirely unapologetic for the pain involved in her healing. Upon examining the wound of Pinkie, Kyra cringes. "Well that's definitely infected with something." she mutters, taking a moment to scrape a little bit of the dried blood off into her vial as a sample for later. The two instruments are put away, replaced with a set of fresh bandages and a clear fluid. "Brace yourself." she warns before pouring the liquid onto the wound.

    It's a disinfectant and it hurts like hell on open wounds. She lets it work for a few moments before swiftly bandaging up the wound. Pinkie might be convinced she's going to die (???) but Kyra will at least give treatment a try first. It should eventually answer her question as to whether or not the bites can infect.

    That taken care of, she heads in to the temple with the rest, though not before giving the inert Ghost Train a long look.

Winnowill (108) has posed:
Black Snake could probably help Kyra with healing, but because she's a giant dickface she doesn't. Instead, she just sweeps in behind Twilight, a ghost of a smile on her lips. "I much prefer the living, myself. Or at least ghosts, those are much more... hmm. Sociable." Yes, that's a good word for it.

Staren has posed:
    "Hmm. Great." Staren replies, on the news that more undead are inside.

    'Federal Agent' gets a brief hesitation as Staren considers the question then: "On the whole, pretty good! Hope things have been going well for you."

    Staren's response to Mortimer is to turn on small but surprisingly bright lights on his forehead and chest, but Finna totally one-ups him by /becoming/ a light. "...That works." He comments, then reaches into the bag at his side, pulling out a pump action shotgun and offering it to Federal Agent. Parts of it look like various early-mid 20th century American shotguns, and 'Renegade Rangemaster' is engraved on the side of the receiver. "Would you like a bigger gun?"

Homura Akemi (2) has posed:
    A clipboard and a shotgun make for an odd duel-wielding pair, but then Homura's staying behind Ness, so maybe she won't need to do anything at all. She just nods to him when he talks to her, answering with a curt, "Of course. The documents will be immaculate."

    As immaculate as they can be in a zombie infestation, anyway. But then she has a knack for avoiding bloodspatters, go figure.

Pinkie (470) has posed:
    It's hard to read the killer's expression as that disinfectant goes onto the bite. Wearing a full face mask makes one very hard to read, and aside from the white-knuckled fist her hand forms.
    She also tugs her eyelid down, and sticks her tongue out through the slat in her mask at Winnowill when she just dicks off like a huge dick that doesn't help.
    Moving on though, she gives that deck another one-handed shuffle. Every footstep sends echoes, and branching sidepaths reveal... Movement. It's not long before a few zombies can be heard giggling, but from the echoes, it sounds like they're EVERYWHERE.
    Because they are.
    The path widens into a large chamber- and then something WHIZZES by overhead, CACKLING MADLY with laughter.
    It's a pegasus pony. Dressed like a clown. A live one, and judging from the wild, gleam in vacant eyes, she's alive, just either insane or high off her ass as she froths at the mouth and tries to take heads off with the blades on her wings. But she's so fast. A squad of other Euphories just like her are flitting overhead, attacking the group, as the Laughing Dead shuffle out of the darkness and...
    Cackling clowns on unicycles zip in halberds in hand.
    The Assassin idly hands Homura a card before flinging one of her knives into the eye of a nearby Harl-Equine.
    The cramped pyramid interior is quickly going to turn into an all out brawl, but only the observant might notice the ghostly figure floating above everything, rasping a phantasmal chuckle. A bloated, deformed green and pink thing, filtering in and out of the astral plane, connected to all of the attacking living and dead by phantasmal gossamer threads.

Mortimer Balman has posed:
     "Gyeh!" Mort's caught off guard by the sudden screeching, cackling cacophony of angry pegasi flying through the air. "What the...?" Clowns. Clowns on unicycles. With.. /Halberds/? Okay, that's damned impressive. It's a pity he hasn't time to BE impressed that much before he has to hop away from the group to give himself room to work with. "You two, behind me, now!" Shouting to Pumpkin and Pound and making his head-flames flare out something fierce, a roaring blaze coming up from his skull. Not only provides more light, but has another handy benefit- any of the mad pegasi trying to give him a flyby buzzcut are going to catch themselves ablaze as they fly through it.

     Like moths trying to dance over candlesticks. Only the candlestick is more like a bonfire, and the moths are still moths.

     Mortimer doesn't notice the phantasmal creature.. At first. But Nettle hisses a warning to him, "<Master! Above, look!>" Making his eyes dart upwards at the bloated thing. "The hell..? Nettle! Get rid of that thing! Hit with an Infestation!" There is a sinister giggling that is not borne of the mad ponies that echoes throughout the chamber. A wave of foul, unholy energies briefly wafts through the room.. And there is an annoying buzzing of flies, swarming throughout the room, spiraling in an ugly pattern up toward the bloated figure so they can begin to feast upon it. Or anything that gets in their way.

Ghost Crew One (683) has posed:

    "WOO! I got me a zombie clown!" BRAK! BRAK! "Two more!" Hereward bellows, drum fed shotgun barking out. The team stays close to each other and away from the wide open spaces. Both Alain and Navarre are far more business-like as they pick off the zombies.

    Then Hereward pauses briefly to point to the green ghostly thing. "HEY LOOKIT THAT ONE! THAT LITTLE GREEN THING'S GETTIN' AWAY!"

Eliot Ness (264) has posed:
"Budget's been tight. Economic Market Problem, they're callin' it." Ness replies to Staren with a slight shrug of his shoulders. The revolver is holstered a moment later, taking the shotgun from Staren and inspecting it, "Thank ya kindly. 12 Gauge, I hope? Those're the shells I h ave on hand," He frowns a bit, looking at it. Nicer than his era's technology, at least.

A fight is starting shortly after, "Consarnit. They don't wanna let up on the heat," He scowls, trying to figure out the best way to go about this situation. The gun is lifted up and slung across his shoulder, "Take here and take notes for the Archmagister," He notes to Helpful Secretary, probably code for 'cover Twilight for me'.

And then Ness gets to display those police pursuit skills. With a swing of his body and an agility that one doesn't expect out of a man in a huge code, suit, and dress shoes. Gloved fingers catch into a recess in the walls and he pulls himself up, perching on a ledge before jumping towards an opposite wall, planting a shoe against it, and then twist-jumping to land on top of a pillar.

He's in a crouched position as he balances on it. A thick-bladed combat knife is in his hand before he jumps upwards and tries to jab it into the ribs of a passing pegasus, wanting to get on its back and try to steer that blade-winged creature into its friends via that knife in its side.

Kyra Hyral (626) has posed:
    Given that Kyra does not get stabbed out of reflex, she's pretty sure that Pinkie's managing the pain from the chemical well enough. She herself doesn't even notice that Winnowill is refusing to help like a BAD AWFUL HEALER...mostly because Kyra hasn't keyed onto the fact that she IS a healer, well, beyond the offer to help deal with the infection which could mean anything, really. Such as mercy killing. Which /isn't/ healing, MORTIMER.

    As usual, she sticks to the middle of the group, which proves to be invaluable as they're suddenly assaulted by a pony swooping in from overhead, armed with gleaming blades upon her wings. Kyra yelps and ducks down to avoid being shredded, pulling one of her handguns free. It's a revolver-and a fancy-looking one with gold inlays and red enameling. It is the Luna's* Resolve, a weapon forged by Lloyd Irving. Kyra's focus turns upward to the Euphories as she fires, emptying the entire chamber. With each shot, a streak of white light follows the bullet, a side effect of the holy essence-enchanted ammo.

    * No relation

Staren has posed:
    Staren nods to Eliot, then offers up a couple boxes of shells too. It's not like /he/ uses these weapons... but he figured it was a good idea to bring it to a zombie apocalypse, just in case.

    Staren turns to follow Mortimer and Finna into the temple... when suddenly, pegasi! A wing hits his neck. But he is not so easily cut. It's true the neck is the one spot his armor doesn't cover, but he's still in a robot body, and under his skin is /more armor/. Though he /is/ left with a nasty-looking gash. Staren immediately turns, grabs the offending wing with his left hand, then brings up his right in an uppercut at the Euphorie's body, firing the beam cannons at the moment of impact.

    If that doesn't finish it, he applies robot super strength until it is finished. Grappling is normally Staren's weakness. It's nice to turn the tables for once, but it's probably not pretty.

    THAT taken care of, there's a buzzing, humming sound as Staren draws his beam swords and leaps into the fray, slashing and stabbing and generally being a killer death robot.

Finna (513) has posed:
    And then all hell broke loose.

    "WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?!" Finna barks out, and... yes, barks. Her fury comes out as a shrill vixen wailing of protest but in mere seconds she is no longer a fox. She's a human with foxy features, still gleaming silver. In her hands... a pair of knives. Knives she definitely knows how to use given the way she spins them about with ease and switches to reverse grips.

    "Looks like I can't just coast through this incident."

    The spinning knives make a whirling noise at the speed she's slinging them, but then... her aura ripple-flares brilliantly and she--



    She's a silvery streak that slows into view only briefly to lash out with whirling daggers. She appears in all kinds of improbable locations several times over a few second, including stading upside-down on the ceiling.

Magister Twilight (475) has posed:
    Twilight's reaction to more undead is: MORE MAGIC! Flames erupt from her hands, now directly manipulating the elements in a way that she'd avoided when she was younger. It does work wonderfully against undead, though, and she targets the zombies with the billowing fire lapping out from her hands. "Guards, keep Black Snake safe. Secretary, thank you for the assistance."

    Why does she care about Black Snake? Because she is looking upward, with her lips in a grim line. "A Puppeteer... that explains a few things. Well, Black Snake, you wanted to see another one. What can you do?"

Homura Akemi (2) has posed:
    Tarot card. Homura glances at it and pockets it. That's an incredibly vague and all-applicable card, although hell if it isn't appropriate for her. Then she nods to Eliot, who tells her to cover Twilight. Well, she has strong leanings against, but not strong enough to compromise Ness' gig.

    And so Helpful Secretary moves towards the Archmagister, although that clipboard and shotgun are unlikely to be able to provide much more protection than the magician can provide for herself to start with.

    "Ma'am. We should stay in the rear while Agent covers the front. Could you explain the Puppeteer?" Scribble scribble on the clipboard. It's kind of awkward with the shotgun, though. If Twilight wants to peek, it's just a lot of general notekeeping about the area, the zombies, and what probably amounts to codewords which would only make sense to the author.

Winnowill (108) has posed:
As for Black Snake, she's glad for the bodyguards. She REALLY detests zombies, and the puppeteer is her major concern. Gathering her robes about her, the unicorn lady just... steps back and lets the others defend her. And does nothing... at least, nothing that anyone who isn't psychically sensitive can tell.

Anyone who DOES have some psychic abilities will feel the intense surge of power from Winnowill's mind as she sends a focused Black Sending toward the Puppeteer, injecting the concept of Agony into its mind as best she can in a thunderous psionic assault.

Pinkie (470) has posed:
    In no time the interior of the temple becomes a bloodbath. Though Pound and Pumpkin linger behind Mortimer the sudden CRACK of a baseball bat knocking a euphorie out of the air says that Pound isn't all that defenseless, while Pumpkin fires shadowy bolts from her horn. Nevertheless the fighting is fast and furious as Ness hijacks another flying pegasus and guides her to cut others down as she goes crashing. Zombies are obliterated left and right, by blade, bullet, blazem and brutality.
    But it is worthy of note that for every one felled, at least two more seem to shuffle out to replace them. Quarters become packed and tight, frantic perhaps at least until...
    At first it seems like the flies are an annoyance. The Puppeteer scowls and snarls, distracted by the horde of flies and insects. It serves as the perfect opening. It goes from distracted to utterly unable to concentrate, astral it may be, the sudden crushing wave of a new understanding ove 'every single form of pain ever' upon it earns a silent howl, forcing it to retreat into the aether from whence it came, to curl up and die.
    This causes a lull. The strands connecting it to the LIVING are severed, leaving a multitude of confused Harl-Equines and Euphories, which panic and turn on the zombies. This leaves the party open to continue along.
    Deeper. Deeper into the catacomb-like ruins. It's dead silent save for...
    Eliot will hear it. Twilight, Kyra, Finnam Homura, even the train crew, Winnowill, and Mortimer.
    A rasping giggling. Tittering astral voices. Soft, beckoning, calling. Calling towards the center of the labyrinth.
    The Assassin and the twins seem to get it the worst, holding their heads and staggering along.
    It's a clear and obvious mental assault. This much is made blatant when the party arrives at the bottom of a set of stairs. Something stirs in the darkness. From floor to ceiling. A pulpy red mass of carcasses and rotten matter and tentacles, disfigured with giant faces and grinning mouths, easily standing 20 feet tall.
    At the base stand two figures. A man with curly brown hair, a cowboy hat and a yellow poncho.
    And a woman in dark robes, ghastly grey skin and dark purple hair. And a rock candy necklace.
    "Oh." She murmurs. "They're finally here. It looks like Pinkamena brought all her friends."
    "OH BOY WE SHOULD THROW THEM A PARTY!" Her accomplice blurts.
    It looks like there's going to be a party alright. The room is full of undead in every shadow as portals rip open for two giant Grinning Worms to rip into the fabric of reality.
    Pinkamena, who's name has now been officially dropped... Draws a knife. "Maud."

Finna (513) has posed:
    The subtle psychic assault is enough to get Finna clenching her teeth and balling up her fists tightly enouggh to draw blood. Thank god for the forethought of Autochthon, who foresaw that mortal minds were too vulnerable to mental twisting and created the LIMIT SYSTEM as an ablative psychological shield.

    For Finna is only pained and aggravated by this. She staggers as it gets bad, clutches at her ears and makes some loud swear-like noises in who knows what tongue of Creation.

    But she powers through it.

    The Limit Track is getting dangerously full to the point of bursting by now.

    And with that comes...

    "I think.... you two... are in need of a demonstration." The foxwoman declares harshly, tail wagging forcedly as she cracks a sinister little smile of her own.

    A SHARKTOOTHED smile, at that. Oh yes she knows that trick.

Eliot Ness (264) has posed:
Satisfied that the one he skewered is either retreating or no longer a threat, Ness removes the knife from its side and then backflips, landing easily on the pillar with a fluttering of his coat around him. He stands up to his full height from a crouch and then removes a hankerchief from the pocket of his coat, carefully wiping the blood off of his thick bowie knife. The bloody cloth is then tossed to the side and let to fall to the floor.

He takes a long moment of pause to observe and then looks towards the entrance deeper. With an easy front-flip, he vaults off the pillar he had landed on and the knife is sheathed again. He adjusts his tie and nods to Homura, Black Snake, and Twilight, "Ladies." He says politely, tipping his hat before he heads back to walking down the halls.

Ness walks with the group, keeping a hand to his ear and looking uncomfortable at the sound of the laughing in the caves. When they reach the main chamber, he's forced to stop and stare for several long moments. His normally steely features show a look of disgust at the being before him and then a look of disdain.

And then he's gone from sight again and up into the upper levels of the room. He doesn't think he can handle anything like the Pillar of Joy or the Grinning Worms as well as the Elites with things like lasers and magic. Those are just too out of his league in his own mind. So he's gracefully leaping upwards and catching an outcrop with his hands.

And then he's pulling himself up and walking along a ledge with an easy balance. He leaps to a pillar and then jumps, using a low-hanging beam to catch his hands on before he swings his full body and leaps forward, trying to go up and around the massive creature by using the terrain. As he lands on another narrow ledge, he adjusts his hat with a gloved hand and then darts forward.

Finally, he leaps. Like a hawk from the sky, he's coming down on Cheese Sandwich with a bowie knife in each hand, trying to sink one of them deep into the spot where his shoulder meets his neck and the other is aimed at the center of his chest in a dropping stab attack.

Mortimer Balman has posed:
     "Easy kids, easy.. You'll be okay.." Mortimer tries, perhaps in vain, to calm Pumpkin and Pound a bit. Poor little ones. They're obviously too young for this sort of thing. They shouldn't be here. ..But there's precious little choice in the matter. Disheartening, but that's okay. He'll do whatever he can to keep them out of harm's way. They'll be fine. It doesn't take much for Mortimer to recognize the 'leader' of this little madhouse. He's met her before in his Ponyville. Her voice is the same, her SMELL is the same, albeit tainted by the hellishness and rank odor of death. He doesn't even notice when she says 'Pinkamena'. Or if he does, he doesn't seem to register it. "Oh.. Oh damn it all. ..Maud.." His ears flatten to his skull and the edge of his colossal blade rests limply against the ground.

     "...You too then, Maud? Did anypony at all escape this nonsensical madness that tore Equestria apart..?" He looks, and indeed sounds, genuinely saddened and even heartbroken about seeing and recognizing the woman on her 'throne'. "...Maud.. Please tell me there's a way this can end without more bloodshed and lives lost. I know, you don't know me, so maybe my plea doesn't mean much.. But I know you, you're a better person than.. Than /this/ lunacy."

     But then the psychic waves start to hit him, and he grimaces. "Nngh! Maud! Stop, damn it all! Stop! Please! NETTLE! NETTLE DON'T HURT THEM!" Perhaps too late? Perhaps not. Psychic attacks hurt Ghost-types something fierce, but the reverse is true as well. On the other side in the etheral realm, Nettle is not looking terribly happy and is in fact, weeping ghostly tears of pain. But she can still hear her Master's commands, and instead of flat out ATTACKING the horrendous /thing/..

     She tries to weaken it instead. Singing a horrid song in a profane tongue, Nettle calls upon the aid of her fellow Dead. Wraithly hands appear in both the physical and aetheral realms, grasping at the horrific pillar of grinning flesh, tearing not at its body but rather at its /essence/, trying to leech at it to weaken its ability to continue attacking them at all.

Kyra Hyral (626) has posed:
    Kyra lowers her gun, hunching in the center of the group, struggling to avoid getting assaulted by madponies (they're ALL madponies to her!) or zombies alike. Only when the Puppeteer is taken out and the living ponies turn on the undead does Kyra feel...kind of bad, actually, for taking shots at the flying Pegasi. Whoops.

    As they head onward, she hears the giggling and gradually finds herself with a growing headache. It isn't just her as she can see the twins and Assassin clearly suffering as well. It must be the giggling, right? Tugging beneath her hoodie, Kyra pulls up a set of over the ear headphones and slips them over her ears. A few fiddling to make her radio receive only and other manipulations to her phone later, the sweet, sweet sounds of Mogstep flood her ears, blocking out the maddening laughter. She can't hear anyone around her either, though, unless they speak directly into the radio.

    Her eyes remain tranfixed upon the undulating horror known as the PILLAR OF JOY, her stomach twisting in revulsion at the gibbering creature. Looking at it was difficult enough-she couldn't fathom having to hear it as well. Out the rifle comes again as Kyra rapidly feeds a set of higher 'ordinance' potion darts into the chamber. She pauses in her preparation as Eliot Ness leaps ahead and stretches out a hand, gesturing at him and invoking a standard Protect spell around him, which should help him stay safer in the physical attack department.

Homura Akemi (2) has posed:
    While awaiting the explanation on the types of enemies they are encountering, assuming the Archmagister feels like taking a moment to do so, or that she knows at all, Helpful Secretary just sort of... pushes her glasses up again? It's kind of an idle gesture, with the shotgun tucked under one arm rather than at the ready now. Even the sight of the massive monsters or their psychic assault, Homura mostly doesn't flinch.

    It is not in the slightest a statement of the attack being weak, more one of the Puella Magi being horribly used to reality horrors trying to say hello directly into her head. She has to brace all the same, just not visibly. Gotta keep looking like a very stoic but completely normal secretary.

    Which is why she does not do anything at all!
    She is just waiting for Twilight's answer to take notes.

    Completely unrelated to Homura doing nothing at all whatsoever, a trio of grenades (fairly low-yield given the lack of room to blow a lot of things up) appear at the base of the Pillar, two of them positioned such as to catch the man and woman standing by it.

    This is extremely rude, yes.

    (This chronologically happens safely before Eliot leaps into melee. Or as Kyra casts Protect on him, that would definitely cover it and then some.)

Magister Twilight (475) has posed:
    That mental assault on Twilight's senses makes her more grim-faced, a subtle but blatant sign that she's feeling it too. Her monks, trotting alongside, slow down under the pressure. Fortunately she brought them rather than less well-fortified troops, in the mental arena.

    Then it's there. The culprit... Maud. And the Pillar of Joy. "A Pillar of Joy... how long has it been growing here?" She shakes her head. "It grows stronger the more they recruit. Focus on Maud... and I would not hesitate to kill her if necessary. Don't listen to the giggling." That might make it worse, but right now she doesn't care. She just wants to END this.

    So she vanishes in a poof of purple light, reappearing across the room to send a bolt of telekinetic force toward Maud's back. Even if it doesn't kill her, maybe it will distract her for the charging Celestial Monks who bear down, horns-first.

Winnowill (108) has posed:
"I very much do not like this," Black Snake says firmly. Her own mental defenses are nearly unmatched in her world, so she doesn't have a problem warding off the giggling and mental pressure, but it does take some of her attention to do so. The cool and even unicorn-lady scowls as she glances at her arm, where a lucky nick managed to slip through in the earlier battle. A light touch and a glimmer of magic heals the cut then.

Unfortunately, she's still doing nothing. Well, nothing external. She'll help out Twilight's Human Pet instead, sending a short, quick mental bolt toward Cheese to try to stagger and distract him for the high-profile assassination.

Staren has posed:
    Staren looks rather confused when one of the cultists he's fighting suddenly turns and fights the zombies. They... were being /mind-controlled/?!

    ...You couldn't have known, Staren. You couldn't have known. You can't think about it now. You have to press on!

    Suddenly, some people are holding their heads and clenching their teeth. "What? What is it?" He looks into the darkness ahead warily.

    An undead monstrosity and what must be the head cultists behind this. And... the assassin's name is Pinkamena? Is that... is that long for Pinkie?!

    And then all hell breaks loose, possibly literally.

    Staren sees the worms coming through the portals -- One shoulder rack empties, three more missiles spreading out to hit each worm and the pillar with a great ball of ionizing fire. It probably won't be that easy, but he can hope!

    The Archmagister warns about listening to the giggling. "What giggling? I don't hear any giggling!" he shouts back, then takes aim at the head cultists...

    But Mortimer is shouting at Nettle not to hurt them. "Mort... Are you sure about this? Twilight says we need to take them down!" He fires sporadic beam cannon shots off into the undead horde, trying to leave himself room to talk.

Pinkie (470) has posed:
    "Join us~."

            "Join us~."




"Kill yourself..."

    The Pillar's mental voice resonates, growing from a whisper to a gnawing, nagging, voice in the back of the mind. Pinkamena is about to leap in a murder attempt of her own when she simply collapses to her knees, wretching.
    Her mask reeks of blood. She rips ot off, and spends the next moment upheaving the contents of her stomach from the withering mental assault, which means this is in the hands everyone else, while the twins try to get her on her feet.
    "She's too far gone. Farther than I am." Muttered to Mortimer as she hides her face in her hair.
    And then everything is a blitz. Cheese Sandwich isn't oging to get to plan that party, when Ness leaps from the higher level, he's quick on the draw and brings up... An accordian to his defense, which is the only reason the HIgh Profile Assassination isn't fatal. But he goes down with a gasp, coughing and spluttering blood as he's taken out of the fight right then and there. But before the Federal Agent can dip his feather Maud flings a ball of necrotic energies of searing pain and agony at him.
    "I'm sorry... Who are you?" The laughless necromancer monotones at Charr. A lazy wave of her hand and the Grinning Worms are darting forward, each as big as a bus and gnashing fangs, as Laughing Dead Zombies shamble in, with phantasmal, sharp-toothed ghosts giggling after them. They immediately lunge for Staren, Homura and Kyra in the ensuing fracas while the stallion monks charge Maud. She seems to stare through them as they arrive, and her focus ends up turning to the task of flooding the two with that murderous dark magic.
    It leaves her fully open from behind, and the CRACK of ribs from the telekinetic unicorn blast makes her lurch forward.
    "... Ow..."
    ... Then grenades go off. Chunks of blood, ichor, and rotten meat go flying as the Pillar wobbles, briefly distracted from its mental onslaught while Maud is sent tumbling, shards of metal and shrapnel embedded in her robes.
    "... I'm kind of annoyed now..." Mused as Maud wipes blood from her mouth.</span>

Mortimer Balman has posed:
     "I'm some-rrrgh!" The VOICES. So aggravating as to be PAINFUL. "I'm-Ugh!" Mort falls to one knee when chunks of blood and shrapnel invariably fly into his body- which, fortunately, shields the twins. But then Pinkamena's words come to his mind. The flames that lick around his skull cast a long shadow over his face. "...I'm sorry, Maud. Nettle." His voice is firm and even, probably inaudible to anyone else in the room who isn't right next to him as he stands up like a statue. "Hold nothing back."

     Nettle's body suddenly materializes into realspace, looking extremely cross. Her eyes are boiling points of red and her mouth has cracked open so wide, and is so filled with pointy teeth that she looks like some grotesque Langolier. She begins chanting those horrible profanities again. Ghostly purplish flames appear, somehow looking both very close and yet very far away. Faint outlines of screaming faces can be seen within the tiny pyre lights, which float around the room- like carousel horses- but only for a few moments. Then they start to converge on Maud.. If it weren't for all the noise, maybe some people might hear the flames /screaming/ as they try to envelop the poor, broken necromancer. If you looked closely, some of the flames might even seem a bit like skeletal arms, reaching out for hugs..

     Though it's not the kind of hugs that make a person feel better. The opposite of that, in fact.

Finna (513) has posed:
    "Ahahahahaha... putting everything in THIS big ole' room..." Though pretty darn spooked, Finna's doing her darndest not to show it. And unfortunately the Pinkamena reference is lost on her due to not having enough exposure to this individual either way.

    The fox's grin turns mischevious again as she regains some of her mental balance. At the same time...

    With all hell breaking loose everywhere... "Undead here, undead back home. You've all got something in common: you're COMPLETELY unwelcome in this world. So I'm giving you the boot, one and all!" This grandiose speech, made during all of the frantic bloodspilling and freakish horror, is COMPLETELY not at all in line with the atmosphere of the place. And that's the idea.

    Finna wants to break the terror groove that's going on here and give people some sense back.

    The Lunar poses stylishly, then VAULTS up towards the ceiling. But as she comes down...

    She's getting bigger.


    When she touches down it's with a bone-jarring, temple-rattling, stone-shattering force. A creature that should not be down here in a room this big has entered the fray. A great lizard-like beast with legs thicker than birch trees, huge taloned feet, a hunched-over body and tail the length of a schoolbus... and a great, toothy maw able to rip a man or pony in half with one bite at the front of it. Two scrawny little arms with useless talons sprout from its chest, far too short to do anything worthwhile besides look menacing.

    But it doesn't need those little arms.

    The TYRANT LIZARD rears back on its haunches and lets loose with a trumpeting, reverberating cry forceful enough to shake layers of dust from the chamber's walls and ceiling.

    And then it goes on the WARPATH.

    One might expect such a huge beast to not be very nimble but this is anything but the case. The creature moves like a blur through the chamber. Its great tail whips across undead lines, it's head-butting its way for the Pillar of Joy all while roaring and snarling. Each footstep is a THUNDEROUS WHAM on the stone flooring...

Eliot Ness (264) has posed:
Feather dipping would imply Ness was anything other than a very skilled cop who happened to study parkour to chase criminals. He did something that anyone else could have with a sufficient amount of training and it was nothing particularly special or notable.

Still, when he manages to land a meaty knife wound, he twists the blade even through the accordian. He straddles the downed man and is getting ready to go for a heavy, overhanded stab when Maud manages to catch him clean with her necrotic blast. A barrier against physical damage from kyra can't help him much from that, though it does dampen his impact with the chamber wall as he flies backwards. So, at least, she definitely saved him some serious spinal damage.

Still, he does collide with that cave and then slump to the ground, writhing from pain and agony. He looks pretty down and out from the attack and is incredibly vulnerable at the moment. So one should wonder where the counter-attack will come from.

~Before the start of this scene.~

"No, you can't come. That's final."

"You owe it to me. I'm making you new inventions specifically for this world." Says a greying man who just turned 70. While spry for his age, it definitely shows in his slow shuffle and his careful walk. His hands shake a bit as he works on something under a sheet on the table.

"Nnn. So be it. You will stay in the car. I will give you a cover ID."

"I have the perfect name in mind, Eliot."

~And back in the present~

From the entrance to the chamber there comes a MASSIVE crack of thunder. The kind of crack you would expect to hear from a thunderstorm that was raging miles away. It's absolutely engulfing in the noise it makes.

And in the same instant, a blue streak flies across the room, swerving and wavering through the air before it tries to strike Maud Pie square in the chest with a titanic blast of electricity. The entire room now smells like ozone and electricity.

Anyone who turns towards the mouth of the cave will see a old man, standing on shaky legs and leaning against the back of the cave. His arms are shaking from the force of the blast and he looks about ready to collapse, but he still has the energy to croak out, "Don't you hurt that boy! There's more where that came from!"

Anyone who observes close enough can see he has a badge similar to Ness's cover ID for this world. But the name is different. It reads:

Nicoltla Tesla

Staren has posed:
    Staren notes the loss of Pinkamena's mask, but... now's not the time to try and catch a look under it. Mortimer is cool with killing Maud after all. Staren turns to fire, only to get tackled by a zombie, sending the beams askew. He draws a beam saber and slices it in half, but as he starts to stand up he's tackled again under a horde of undead. Staren tries to push them off, then cut them off with his swords.

    RAAAAGH! Get OFF me!"

    At last, he stands up surrounded by a pile of zombie pieces, glaring around... only to see a DINOSAUR. "Woah... go Finna!" Aaand then Tesla shows up with a lightning gun! "We've got backup? Sweet!"

Magister Twilight (475) has posed:
    "Grinning Worms," Twilight mutters, this time with some anger. "Well then... it looks like it is my turn." What's that supposed to mean? It becomes a little clearer very soon, as Twilight shouts, "BLACK SNAKE! Take care of them!"

    That's when Twilight shimmers again, teleporting into the thick of things. She'll let her monks charge the injured Maud, and she herself will not throw another attack. Instead, a glimmering barrier of purple leaps up to block the necromantic energies, shielding Ness and anyone else who opts to duck behind it.

Homura Akemi (2) has posed:
    Oh, that's a big angry thing lunging at her.

    Homura frowns, but rather than tip her hand, simply decides to not be in the thing's deadly and destructive warpath and to be somewhere much safer instead, which is why the black-haired girl is suddenly by Twilight once more, as if she'd never left her side. More conveniently, it is to be behind the barrier. Because it's a good place to be.

    She scribbles onto the clipboard, given the new information and answers provided by the various parties. She genuinely does not do anything else.

Kyra Hyral (626) has posed:
    The voices still roll in the back of her skull, Kyra realizes, even as the bass thumps loudly in her ears. Something about that just seemed unfair-especially since those voices didn't mix very well with her music. You'd think gibbering madness laughter voices and dubstep would combine pretty well.

    "Oooh shit." Kyra mutters as the undead rush forward to target their little trio to include Homura and Staren. She staggers backwards quickly, evading the sharpened hooves of a Laughing Dead pony. Both hands immediately drop the rifle and she reaches for the Luna's Resolve once more, planting a holy bullet in the undead's head just as it turns to face her with an empty grin. "Staren! Secretary Girl!" Kyra must've missed Homura's name, "Here!" Another gesture and a green barrier, similar to the one placed around Ness briefly shimmers around Homura and Staren. Though the light fades, the effect remains stuck to them, which will become even more obvious if anything manages to hit them.

    As she works, a rotting mare knocks Kyra to the ground. It's only some quick rolling on her part that prevents her head from being stomped in by the pony. Sliding backwards along the floor on her back, Kyra worms her way from the undead, shooting as she goes and felling the mare in her wake.

Winnowill (108) has posed:
Take care of them, she says. Black Snake scowls, eying the chaos before her. Well, that probably meant the Worms. This could prove difficult, since thus far Black Snake hasn't demonstrated any real 'kablooie' powers thus far. It's only when she sizes them up that she realizes what Twilight meant.

The unicorn makes for the shield for now, and ignores the undead, and Maud, and the Pillar of Joy. She's going after the Worms in every way she can... which turns out to be a lot.

Each Worm might find her as a new target, because all at once, Black Snake is hammering both of them with that broadcast of intense pain, the telepathic attack paired with a savage 'thrust' that assaults their astral component, trying to tear them away and into her own soul. Their flesh parts will find her flesh-shaping magics attacking them, battering them with an attempt to liquefy bones and dissolve flesh.

Zombies, she can't do a whole lot against, aside from try to free their souls. LIVING flesh? That is another matter.

Pinkie (470) has posed:
    The Pillar chamber is a whirl of terrible action.
    The Grinning Worms charge, but as soon as they feel that pull on their metaphysical selves, they try to retreat. It's a tug-of-war on another plane as their bodies begin to break down, with much screaming and screeching, but their bull rush comes to an end. Winnowill is the victor, absorbing the essence of two of the worms into herself, leaving two piles of terrible sludge. ... And all the materials to make them again if she feels like it.
    Protect fares better against the Laughing Dead, however, who's attacks are all physical, and they drop like rotten squelching flies in the throng of violence.
    The problem with attacking the Pillar of Joy is that it exists on two fronts- the astral plane and the physical. And while Nettle seeks to assault Maud, the Pillar reaches with a chilling tendril of pain for her and Mortimer- until it's slammed by a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Every battering slam and gnash of those monstrous teeth make it wobble- and shake- and quiver with psychic screeches that are no longer laughing.
    It's as Maud tries to blast Ness yet again that her spell reflects of the Archmagister's shield and-
    The drab grey pony-woman is slammed off her feet by the electrical blast. It's more than enough to stop a heart and she remains unmoving for a long moment. Which means the zombies are gone wild without control. It's easy to massacre the lot of them at this point, as one last groan...
    The Pillar totters. It wobbles. The laughter comes to an end.

    As the Pillar of Joy topples over with a piteous wail.

    Already beginning to melt into a foul smelling sludge as it hits the ground with an earth shaking force. Maud is already startting to slowly pick her wounded self up.
    "Oh... Well that wasn't how that was supposed to go."

Mortimer Balman has posed:
     Mortimer still stands there statuesque. He does not look pleased at all with these events. He has anticipated that his erstwhile albeit most likely temporary allies would keep the metaphorical heat off of himself and Nettle.. And is pleased to see that this anticipation was not poorly placed. The Pillar of 'Joy' is not able to fling its assault upon him or his Shuppet. Good. "Nettle. Fall back." The wraithly creature floats backwards and fades away just before she pushes against Mortimer. And then the temperature begins to rise, as he mutters a warning into the local radio band.

     He hasn't flexed his pyrokinetic muscles in quite a while. But it's like a bicycle. You never really forget.. Exhaling a plume of ugly black smoke, Mort focuses his will on the flame. The rising temperatures suddenly shift and coalesce along cautiously determined paths, flames suddenly rising up off of the floor seemingly spontaneously and racing around the chamber to start purging it of the undead and the filth that has so utterly befouled it. It's probably not particularly /necessary/ compared to what everyone else is capable of flinging about at whim, but at the very least it should burn up most of that awful smell and the flailing corpses.

Staren has posed:
    The worms fall, followed by the Pillar. Staren is just glad it's over. He fruitlessly tries to wipe some of the zombie ick off his armor.

    He's /so/ glad his sense of smell can be turned off right now.

    Maud's voice brings the realization that there is more to be done. He turns and levels his beam cannons at her. "Alright, this is the end. But if you surrender, it doesn't have to be the end of your life. Federal Agent, do you have cuffs on you?"

Eliot Ness (264) has posed:
"By the authority invested in me by the United States Government..." Comes a voice from behind Magister Twilight. It would seem that her shield allowed Ness enough time to shake off the necrotic energy and stagger to his feet. He looks pretty serious as he stares ahead. His hat has fallen off and he wipes some blood from the corner of his mouth with a gloved hand. Both knives are also on the ground near his hat.

"As well as as an acting agent of House Star and Moon," Ness adds, shaking his head a bit and running a gloved hand through his hair. His other hand reaches into his jacket and pull out a pair of chrome handcuffs which clatter as he grips them in one hand. He looks unsteady on his feet, but pretty determined.

In the aftermath of his attack, Tesla is shuffle-stepping his way over and behind Twilight for both protection and to pick up Ness's dropped gear. He nods a greeting at Homura, having met her before. Twilight gets a nod of his head as well, "Young ladies."

Ness steps forward with heavy-footed steps. Blasts of heat from Mortimer's attack rip around him and fill the entire cave with powerful waves of raw warmth. He doesn't slow down as he slowly shuffles forward. He plants one foot on the fallen, heavily injured Cheese Sandwich and shoves him onto his stomach as he straddles his back, "I am placing you under arrest for suspicion of witchcraft, breaking the natural laws, at least..." He looks at the pile of burnt corpses, "20 separate counts of murder, as well as an accomplice to the Lord Almighty only knows what else. May God have mercy on you, because the courts will not."

Despite the injuries of the man under him and his own injuries, Ness is pulling both of Cheese's arms behind his back and slapping cuffs on him. To Staren, he looks over tiredly. He gives a slight nod of her head and produces a second pair of handcuffs. The chrome-plated wrist-accessories are tossed to the catboy since Ness is slightly busy with his own collar.

Finna (513) has posed:
    All the flaing undead muckery has taken a toll on the Tyrant Lizard. Its head is a bit sore, it's covered in light gashes and scrapes, and Finna is also in a bloodlust. WHAT A RUSH!

    So the Tyrant Lizard makes trumpeting BARK-noises over the ledge where the pillar fell. TRIUMPH! VICTORY! That's the feel behind those thunderous noises.

    But then, with a heaving breath that sounds like a smith's pumping bellows, the creature turns around , lowers its forward body towards the ground and starts snuffling its way towards Maud. Jaws just open enouggh to show teeth and LOTS of them.

    There's a HUNGRY gleam behind those eyes.

    Objective? Scare. Maud. Manureless.

Kyra Hyral (626) has posed:
    Kyra picks herself up once the pressure is off of her and witnesses Tyrant Lizard Finna completely destroy the Pillar of Joy. She nods appreciatively, now just a little more intimidated by the Lunar than before. (She seemed like such a nice fox shapeshifter!) With the source of the maddening whispers effectively destroyed, she shuts off her music and removes her headphones.

    "Oh Finna!" Kyra calls out, "Don't eat her /too/ much! We need some of her alive, right?" A reference back to the earlier exchange on amputation, maybe?

Finna (513) has posed:
    As Finna passes by Kyra, the great Tyrant Lizard halts... turns its huuuuuuuge head over towards Kyra...

    And, with those nostrils just a few feet away, she SNIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIFFS.

    Then gets back on track.

    Why settle for confirmation when you can mix confirmation with a scary prank?

Magister Twilight (475) has posed:
    The shield of magical energy flickers and dies, and Twilight lowers her hands as things seem to wrap up. Maud, she leaves to Staren and the others to attempt to capture. She has another concern, for now.

    "Doctor Tesla. A pleasure to see you again," Twilight states with some actual, real pleasure. The kooky mad scientist is indeed someone that she has a soft spot for, when all is said and done. She's also pretty sure that with the giant lizard and perfect secretary and everything, Maud will be captured.

    So what is Twilight doing? She's stepping over to where Pinkamena is, crossing her arms. "And Pinkamena... for Pinkamena Diane Pie. I still doubt that is your real name, but... at least your reasons for wanting to kill me are better than Maud."

Staren has posed:
    Staren watches Eliot arrest Cheese Sandwich. And just as he's expecting the man to arrest Maud, instead he's tossed handcuffs. They plink on his armor and he claps his hand over to catch them. "Err..." That's not what he meant! He blinks at Eliot... and then remembers he /is/ a cop. Just because his position is giant robot pilot, and he's never been called in or had to /arrest/ anyone, doesn't mean he can't. If that even /matters/ anyway.

    With that realization, Staren reaches into his bag and pulls out his issued pair of MDC handcuffs, just in case. "By the authority vested in me by the Free City of Lazlo, and as an acting ally of House Moon and Star..." he turns back to Maud, a bit awkwardly...

Staren has posed:
    "Wait, the Assassin's Pinkie?!" Way to ruin the arrest speech, Staren.

Mortimer Balman has posed:
     Mortimer rolls his eyes at both Staren and Twilight. It may not have been OBVIOUS but it should not come as that much of a shock, and simply disbelieving who it is is patently ridiculous. Ugh. Fine. "Dumbest smart people I know, I swear.." Muttering to himself as he goes to check over Pinkamena, and make sure she's okay. And then to make sure the two kids are okay, as well.

Pinkie (470) has posed:
    Cheese Sandwich is barely conscious and bleeding fairly badly. He will need medical attention, but he's not escaping getting read his rights now. And yet in the meanwhile, Maud is just pulling shards of shrapnel out of her body; pausing to look up at the hungry Tyrant Lizard looming over her.
    "... Scary. You can call off your pet lizard. I'm done here, tonight I guess." She drones in that sleepy monotone, as Mortimer BURNS HER LIFE'S WORK. "... Only twenty counts?" This seems to bewilder her. "Well. The Pillar is dead. Again. For realsies this time. But uh. I kind of can't--" She pauses. "Oh. Right. Yeah. Um. This is awkward." Maud says starting to stand up as she motions at Pinkie. "The Cult's favorite little replacement. I hate her."
    Indeed, the Assassin is... Not wearing her mask; still trying to catch her breath. The dark shadows of the temple and her hair hiding her face as she tries to fumble her mask into place.

    It's a happy smiling one.

    "Awww don't be like that Maud~." Pinkie huffs now that she's recovered, holding her hands up, palms out at Twilight. It would seem there are some familial tensions here. But. Maud points into the darkness.
    "Hey... What's that..."
    ... And then she just takes off running down a side corridor.

Winnowill (108) has posed:
Black Snake frowns, though it's hard to see directly. The long-haired unicorn girl is walking over toward Cheese Sandwich now, kneeling by him and ignoring the fact that Maud is getting away. "We shouldn't let him die, he can't be interrogated properly that way."

She gestures, touching him lightly, and magical lights begin to sparkle... and seal up his injuries.

Usually, this comes with some numbing quality, but bad injuries can still be painful to heal... as Ness surely knows. She can also make the healing process MORE painful though, and she might be doing just that in this case. Because she's evil.

Kyra Hyral (626) has posed:
    Finna looooooms at Kyra and unleashes a loud SNIFF at her. For a few seconds, she looks kind of worried that she had offended Finna somehow. Overall she seems pretty started at this detour but doesn't take a step away from the Lunar.

    Unfortunately, the object of potential limb-gnawing pulls a DARING ESCAPE. Kyra frowns, then looks to Pinkamena in turn, worried. Of all those here, she seemed to be having the hardest time with the Pillar of Joy. It worried her.

Magister Twilight (475) has posed:
    There's no need to swoop in and rescue Pinkie, because for all her antagonism, Twilight doesn't appear to be ready to assault her or her comrades. Twilight has other ideas. "Replacement, hmm?" That's all she says about that, before turning aside and moving over to Ness. "Black Snake and the medic-" She gestures to Kyra. "-should concentrate on the wounded. We need to get everything we can and swiftly... lingering too long in Lady Fluttershy's territory will incite her wrath, and in our current state it would be difficult to face her down if she were serious."

Mortimer Balman has posed:
     Mortimer's ears flick a bit. "I don't think Flu.." Brief pause, sad look. ".../Lady/ Fluttershy or her folks will give me too much trouble, if no one else here. I helped a bunch of their camps fight off the deadies a short while back- and they were awful happy for the help if I remember rightly. Stickin' around to try and find Maud.." Another pause, swallowing a lump in his throat, "...Ought to buy me enough favor to avoid them givin' me trouble, so long as I'm not steppin' on any hooves.. I'll keep these three outta trouble too, if'n I can." He had a lot talk about with Pinkie. Questions needed to be answered.

Finna (513) has posed:
    The sudden manuever to escape has Finna snorting out loudly in disgust. But she doesn't give much chase. Instead she shrinks back down to her human form... finishing up with arms folded, ears flat against her head and tail unbudging. Shoulders bunched up. She is not a happy Finna at all.

    "Well, that could've gone better...." The whole gruop's been through enough, she ain't running off alone. Even though there's a rumbling in her thoughts sayng it might be a ood idea.

    Instead she just grins wildly at Kyra. Yup, she was just teasing Kyra!

Eliot Ness (264) has posed:
Ness is saved the shock and awe of Pinkie's identity mostly because she's told him at least twice. Not that he lets on that he knew this. He just did. He'll pretend to be more focused on arresting Cheese Sandwich.

Also a fun fact: Ness doesn't have to read anyone their rights, Miranda Rights don't exist for 36 more years.

Ness stands up off the body and nods to Black Snake, letting her heal the man as Ness himself stands up. Tesla, left after his greeting with Twilight, shuffles over to Ness to give him back his hat and knives. Ness puts these on his head and in his belt respectively. He has no objection to Black Snake mixing a little hurt in with her heal.

"I'm starting to think this Multiverse might not be for me, old man. I'm a bull in a world of Gods," He remarks quietly to Tesla, taking a crumpled pack of Lucky Strikes out of his jacket and lighting one with the flick of a silver lighter.

"Nonsense. It's good for you to get a bit of adventure," Tesla hushedly replies in a happy, if weary, tone. He's using the lightning gun as a crutch. Neither is going after Maud or Pinkie, instead taking a couple moments to catch their bearings and recover.

They BOTH hush up as Twilight moves over to Ness. He gives her a firm nod of his head when she says they should get people and start going, "I don't have any evidence bags, but we should get his accordian. We'll follow your lead, maam," He says firmly.

Staren has posed:
    After all that distraction, Maud keeps talking. Staren turns back to her to finish the speech, and she tries the 'look over there!' trick. He watches the others out of the periphery of his vision to see if /they/ react as if seeing something behind him... and then Maud bolts! "Hey!" Staren chases after her down the tunnels. Several moments later, there's a frustrated AARGH! And then Staren trudges back in. "I have drones searching for her, but I don't know how big this place is." He walks up to Eliot, returns the handcuffs, and then walks up to Pinkie. "Pinkie..." he sounds disappointed. "It was you the whole time? Why? Why didn't you tell us?"

Pinkie (470) has posed:
    Pinkie isn't going anywhere. She's already gon this far against the Cult, she doesn't exactly have anywhere else to go, so she mostly leans on the twins while they fuss over her. There are a lot of questions left unanswered but to Staren she gives a free answer:
    "Because I'm a professional assassin, silly." But then she tuts to Mort. "Oh no. No no no. The refugees and zebras might be happy. But Fluttershy is reallt -REALLY- hard to reason with. I'm with Twilight on this one. We should probably go~."

Staren has posed:
    Staren lifts the faceplate on his helmet to properly give Pinkie a disappointed look. "I wanted to /help/ you, Pinkie. I /trusted/ you to have a reason for hiding things from us." He waves a hand to indicate the people surrounding her. "But how am I supposed to help you /now/? ...If I even /should/?"

Mortimer Balman has posed:
     Mortimer frowns a bit at that. "...I risked it with you, Pinks. I'd risk it with Fluttershy and all the other girls too if need be. But.. No matter. Keepin' you outta trouble for at least a little bit's more importa-" He pauses at Staren's statement. Another frown. "Then.. Urgh. No, not gonna get into it, too much important stuff to do. Do whatever, Staren." He casts his eyes over to Twilight Sparkle, then back at Pinkie Pie, then back to Twilight. "..When this whole... Situation, has been resolved. I need to have a long chat with you. Magister." Then it was back to joining the twins in making sure Pinkie's going to be alright enough to even walk out of here under her own power.

Kyra Hyral (626) has posed:
    "Kyra." She fills in at last so she just doesn't get passed around as the medic. "And if anyone needs some healing to keep moving..." she looks to Pinkie again. "...just let me know." She peers over at Finna, almost suspiciously, but looks a little relieved. All in all...it could have gone worse.

Pinkie (470) has posed:
    All it takes is one finger, indicating the whole of the temple all around. "Do you not see this, Staren? It's called the bigger picture. And it's not a funny one." The clown answers "It's not one I want. I'm taking time out of my busy schedule to stop trying to kill her-" She motions emphatically at the Archmagister, "To try and keep all of Equestria grom getting devoured by... Something worse..."
    Pinkie can in fact walk on her own power.
    "I loved what Equestria was. And that's never coming back now. And as much as I hate it now. Still don't want to see Maud burn it."

Winnowill (108) has posed:
Black Snake is not making Pinkie's healing awfully painful.

Staren has posed:
    Staren crosses his arms. "That's not what I asked. I want to help Equestria too. And /part/ of doing that is helping the Bearers! We can't have you trying to /kill/ eachother!"

Pinkie (470) has posed:
    Up come Pinkie's hands. In one she holds a deck of cards again. In the other she holds a knife. She flicks a card at Staren as she turns to leave and gets going.
    Two of Pentacles. Inverted.
    "And Maud isn't an Element Bearer."

Staren has posed:
    Staren flings the card away. "You're dodging the question! Is that all you do now? Hide?" He sighs. "...I hope you become ready to talk /before/ it's too late."