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(Everfree Forest) The Missing Manticore (OPEN)

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(OOC: While the adventure starts out in Canterlot, it will end up in the Everfree and be mainly in that area)

Candy Catch-em finally got out of the spa after a full body cleaning that morning.

She was glad she would never have a unicorn foal after Pumpkin Cake made a gooey mess of her wings. It was a mystery to her how an Earth mare had twins that were a Unicorn and a Pegasus -Until she had heard they were from Ponyville. Since that was the epicenter of the Discord attack and Mrs. Cake would have been pregnant at the time, the case was solved in her mind.

Getting her mind back on the special event she had planned that day, she tipped her bush hat back and streetched her wings "Ah Much better!"

The pegasus mare then checked on the nearest poster she had put up several days before.

She read over the poster tacked on a wall post, asking for volenteers or other help for the chance to help move a rescue Manticore who promised to not hurt a pony. A ride in an air yacht and free food was guaranteed by her today.

"I hope I get enough help today. It would make things much easier."

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Willow Wing yawned as he walked slowly from the place he had chosen to eat; he was unsure of what exactly the place was named, but the food was certainly the best he had had in quite a while. He shook his head slightly, wanting nothing more than to lie down and take a nice nap…but he had to move on today, and find the next job he was going to take. His money was running low, and he didn’t want to travel back to Cloudsdale to take some from his stash so soon.

Just as he was preparing to head back to his lodgings for the next few days, he saw another pegasus outside a nearby building. She appeared to be looking at a large poster, and, as he looked closer, Will realized it was an advertisement for a job of some sort. His eyes narrowed as he trotted closer to better read the sign. ‘Moving a Manticore…that sounds interesting! For lack of a better word, I suppose…’ He approached the other Pegasus slowly.

“Pardon…but do you know who put this poster up here?” Will glanced over to the mare, feeling a little awkward and unsure of himself. He needed a job, and even if he didn’t get paid this experience was more than enough to make him want to join the venture. An airship ride and a Manticore? Things didn’t get much more adventurous than that.

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Dunder was back in Canterlot. He wanted to do a job, something, anything as long as it was exciting and preferably with a pony he knew. Canterlot was a good place to start, a lot of nobles could spend money on other ponies to do the dirty work for them, and Dunder was alright with that as long as he was getting paid and getting paid fairly. He was drifting around Canterlot, his hooves and head hanging down as his wings flapped and as he scanned the crowd. Seeing a poster or a pony with a sign or something would be a blessing, but he didn't expect what he saw next.

The mare who he had danced with at the Hoedown in Appleoosa. He suddenly perked up and and smiled, "CANDY!" He said happily, not caring about the pompous nobles's stares as he cried out in glee. He swooped down and tackled her to the ground before giving her a big hug and a nuzzle on the neck, "Candy! It's so good to see you. What are you doing in Canterlot?" He asked with a wide smile, excited to see a familiar face.

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At the same time, on another side of the Canterlot Swift Squall sighted with relief. Not only he managed to renew his swordsponyship licence but he managed to take care of other paperwork too AND at decent time to boot. It was good for Swift didn't quite liked Canterlot. Oh sure the city itself was gorgeous, the problem was bureaucracy and aristocrats.

Despite being one of the nobles himself Squall had to agree with majority on this one - most nobleponies where shallow.

For this reason he wished to return to Fillydelphia as fast as possible - even trought there was no need for urgency.

While walking to the train station he saw the notice-board. Swift would usually ignore this but one of the posters sticked out from the others. It looked like it was made by hoof - rarity in Canterlot, place where moste things was solved by magic. He readed it once and rearranged his trademark, dark green sunglasses before doing this again. Transporting manticore? On civilian yacht?

Flat "What?" escaped his mouth. This mare - for poster clearly stated it was mare - was out of her mind, that was sure. Swift had his run-ins with manticores - both with nasty Everfree kind ane even nastier Unyasi ones and bringing one on airship was horrible idea. Memory of old, terrible pain in his back resurfaced....

He decided. The escapade that this mare organized will for sure end bad. Both for her and any help she attempted to hire.

"I will find this Candy Catch-em and persuade her to abandon this ridiculous plan before anypony is hurt." he tought. Without any inhibitions he tore the poster and took it with him. The meeting place was at another side of the city. Good thing he had time to spare.

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Candy Catch-em turned with a smile to the new voice "Why yes. In fact it was myself. I was checking up on the poster while I was out here on.. last minute business." as she flexed her still-damp wings.

"If you are interested, Im afraid I can only offer a standard day's wage, unless you wish to volenteer."

Before she could continue the pitch, she heard a familiar voice that made her ears perk upright a moment before she was tackled. Her mane came free of her bush hat as a stallion nuzzled her. She giggled and gave him a wing hung "Dunder! So good to see you here! I just got through getting sticky gunk out of my wings at the spa and was checking up on this poster I put up..."

She pointed a wingtip at the ad hanging on the wall. "I'm preparing to take a Manticore back to the wild in the Everfree today. As I was telling this nice colt; I'm paying standard days wage or taking volenteers. Either will get free food and a trip in a sky yacht."

She looked to Willow Wing "I'm sorry, I didnt' get your name?"

At the other end of the city where the applicants were to meet, the unicorn captain of the yacht, waited nervously for Candy since she was the only one who could control the beast if it woke up. Several ponies were already there, some curious and wanting to see the loading, some bored, and several eager ponies waiting to join up.

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Willow opened his mouth to respond to the mare’s words, but was cut off as she was tackled by another stallion. It was apparent that they knew each other, maybe quite well, so Will hung back, smiling awkwardly as he watched the reunion. He ran over the pegasus’s words in his head; a day’s standard wasn’t very much money, and he was going to get to ride on a sky yacht…free food as well. It seemed the best course would be to just volunteer and save the other pegasus some money. Besides, if this trip turned out well, he might go back to Cloudsdale just to tell his father about it. It wasn’t very often a pony got to see a Manticore, let alone transport one in a luxury sky yacht.

Will’s ears pricked up and he turned his attention back to the other two, who had now disentangled themselves and were looking at him pointedly.

“Ah… I’m Willow Wing. Will for short.” Another small smile spread over his face, making little creases appear under his purple-ish blue eyes. “And I think I’d like to come with you, just as a volunteer. I’ve been around, and I’m…fairly sure I can be of assistance, at least, if you want me along.” He dipped his head slightly, causing the morning sun to glint off the polished metal of his helmet. Though Will was certain the armor wouldn’t stand up long to a Manticore onslaught, it undoubtedly, at least, made him look like he knew what he was doing. He did, of course, know what he was getting into; he had heard plenty of terrible stories about Manticores and the damage they could cause, but this opportunity was just too great to pass up.

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Dunder nuzzled her a little more before finally getting up. Hugging so hard in public, and in the middle of a conversation was a little rude but way worth it. Especially seeing Candy again made him feel too happy not to. He sat down, after flying for so long he needed a break. Anyway, Candy had something to say about a manticore escort mission. It sounded relaxing... being on a yacht with one of his friends and possibly some new friends. He would insist on paying for himself, though. "Alright!" He said happily after she was done talking. "I'll tag along, make sure you don't get yourself hurt." He said to her happily. "And I will pay for myself...so." He said before looking at the stranger.

"Nice to meet you, Willow Wing!" He greeted, "My name is Dunder Blust." He said.

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Wild had just been pottering through a new area of Canterlot, eyes sharp for work oppertunities, or somepony who might be up for a game, when several magic words reached him on the breeze, causing him an abrupt, almost immediate change of direction towards the speaker down the street from himself. The words 'Wage' and 'free food' were extremely appealing to the young pegasus stallion, and his steps were eager as he approached the speaker, a mare of his own kind, if he was not very much mistaken. There seemed to be others around too, a notably large fellow of pegasus kind, and yet another pegasus stallion. Was this some kind of pegasus convention? Didn't matter to Wild, he had heard three magical words.

He trotted up, his hooves making a cheerful sound on the stone as he moved, putting on his best 'nice guy' smile as he waited for the others to finish speaking before he began himself. “Good day ma'am and sirs,” he said, extending his wings and giving a small bow, as he always did when greeting strangers from whom he hoped to gain something. “Pardon my interruption... But, did my ears pick up the words 'wages' and 'free food'? If I am mistaken please forgive me, but it did most distinctively sound as though it was from here that these wonderful phrases came.” He was speaking in his most polite tones, but being careful not to sound too smarmy... he had been accused of that before, when he had just been trying to be nice.

He blinked as his eyes caught on the poster about the work, reading quickly and starting to smile as he did so. “Interesting,” he said, smiling, “Everfree forest it says here... the place ponies fear to go...” he had heard plenty about it, but never gone there himself. “Capital,” he said cheerfully, “I would very much like to partake in this... paid adventure.” He would probably have considered it just for the free food alone, but he wouldn't turn down a day's pay should it be offered to him. He paused a moment though as he remembered something, and then added, "And how rude of me to forget... My name is Wild, Wild Gambit..."

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(OOC: Since Ciraxis wants Swift Squall to meet Candy face to face before he continues, I'll go ahead and post to get everypony moving to the staging area where the yacht is docked.)

Candy smiled as she untangled herself from Dunder, but stayed close to him. She liked how enthusiastic he greeted her, to say the least.

The mare straightened out her bush hat on her head and smiled at the other stallion "Good morning, Wilow Wing. Thanks for the offer, and I accept. This will need plenty of hooves to accomplish."

She turned back to Dudner when he volenteered as well and gave him a nuzzle "Aw that's so sweet. Thank for volenteering, Dunder."

Just then a brown pegasus arrived as if drawn by a magnet and even bowed to her "Welcome, Wild Gambit. If you dont' mind it being a standard day's wage, you are in."

She rubbed her hooves together at finding three ponies willing to help so quickly. "Unless anypony needs to finish something right now, I think we had better head off to the staging area. If you get lost along the way, look for the yacht with a lift bag made to look like a killer whale. It's name is the Orca."

With that, she flapped her wings and lifted off. She tapped Dunder on the shoulder with a hoof. "Tag! You are it!" and zipped ahead with a giggle, heading to the staging area.

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“Good morning to you all as well, and it’s no trouble. I wouldn’t pass up an opportunity like this for anything.” Willow’s eyes widened slightly as he was greeted in quick succession by several other pegasi. It was nice to see that he would have several of his own kind on this quest, though he hoped there would be plenty of other ponies to talk to on the yacht as well. Will liked socializing, and it seemed he would have plenty of time to do that once they had reached their destination at the sky yacht. The Manticore situation seemed fairly under control; he doubted the mare would be so nonchalant if the beast in question was running around killing ponies left and right.

"Awesome! Let's get going, I'm ready." A fierce smile spread over Will’s face and he pawed the road beneath his feet, anxious and excited for the pegasi to get on their way. He spread his wings, gleaming armor flashing in the morning sunlight, and took off behind the mare, whose name was apparently Candy.

Having only been in Canterlot one or two times before, Will wasn’t really sure where to go, so he made sure to keep the other pegasus in his sight as he made his way to the staging area she had mentioned. A slight tension rose in his chest as they neared their destination, though whether it was excitement or anxiety he couldn’t quite tell. The weather around the Everfree forest was extremely unpredictable, not being controlled by pegasi, so he wasn’t sure if flying a civilian sky yacht around above the trees was a very good idea… Debating whether or not to mention this to Candy, he began to zone out, letting his thoughts fill his consciousness as he flew.

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The brown stallion pegasus nuzzled his friend back. "No Problem." He missed Candy so much, he couldn't contain himself. Ever since the Hoedown, he had missed her slightly. And he happened to stumble upon her when he just happened to be in Canterlot. The coincidence of it all made him too happy to just calm down, especially when she thanked him and called him sweet. For a second he thought that maybe he should tell her that he had a special somepony now. Maybe later, when they were more alone and had nothing to talk about while catching up.

When the new stallion arrived, Dunder smiled at him. "Hey, Wild Gambit. I'm Dunder Blust, it's a pleasure to meet yu!" He said happily. Sizing up the stallion, he looked like he could hold his own. That would be good since dead weights on a trip like this would probably be the most harmful. Or maybe not, since the manticore was just going to go in the air boat, then into the Everfree.

He listened to Candy talk about their meeting point at the docking bay of the air boat. When he felt and saw her tap him as a tag, he grinned wide. As she flew off, he flew off after her, "I'm going to get you!" He said while chuckling and flying hot on her tail.

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Wild Gambit grinned as the mare stated that he would get a day's wage for his effort, nodding in cheerful agreement. “Well then, consider me signed up.” he answered, not surprised as she spoke of getting to the meeting place. It occurred to the male that he didn't know where the meeting place was in Canterlot, but he was as good a flyer as any regular pegasi... he would have little trouble keeping up with the others and let them lead the way.

As the large male introduced himself, Wild smiled and nodded respectfully to him, “Good to meet you Dunder.” he said cheerfully, and looked at the other, more normal sized stallion, “And good to meet you too.” He didn't get to find out the other fellow's name before the flying began, and he eagerly took a short run, hop, and took off, spreading his wings and sighing inwardly at the enjoyable feeling of the wind ruffling through his wing feathers.

What luck he had had today... walk into Canterlot, and find a day's work without even having to ask around for it! And free food too! What could be better? Feeling very pleased with himself, he kept pace with the other pegasi, but gave them all plenty of flying space, seeing that the mare and large fellow were having some kind of playful competition, he knew better than to get into the way of something like that, and just kept back respectfully, enjoying the flying... as much as he had grown to enjoy walking (as hard as that had been for him at first!) He still adored flying so very much... even if it was just a short trip to the staging area.

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When Swift got at the meeting place he encountered quite the grouping of other ponies. Thay were here for the job that was clear. As he expected the yacht itself wasn't adjusted to the mission thatawiated it. Squall needed to disperse crowd in some way...

Why, he would propably be capeble of doing it with force of his two swords - but the tought of doing such unjust thing disgusted him, and straight out lieing wasn't his style either unless that was necessary.

But a little exaggeration...

So he began to trot from one group of waiting ponies - who gossiped to kill some time - to another. A little commen here, interjection there...and some doubt slipped in, just as Squall planned. The discouraged ponies begun to leave.

Some bold ones stayed of course, but now Squall could handle them. He launched into long speech, which undermined both sense and propability of success of this escapade. That was the last straw - the last ponies left ans Squall was left alone with the captain.

"Frightening, how powerfull force the spoken word can be." quoted unicorn, pondered the situation he founded himself in.

But then the lone pegasi mare begun approaching the docked airship.

"Mrs. Candy I presume? We need to talk...about this expedition you planning"

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Since she knew where she was going, Candy Catch-em landed at the staging area at the air ship docks first, with Dunder close behind.

Belatedly she remembered she had forgotten to introduce herself and turned to Willow Wing and Wild Gambit.

"Oh by the way, I am the Candy Catch-em named in the poster, and I welcome you all to the Orca."

Before she could fill them in on the details, another pony, a Unicorn at that, approached while many of the other ponies who had arrived earlier were now gone or flying away, while the Unicorn captain was busy rallying his small crew.

She turned to this stallion with a raised eyebrow "I am Candy Catch-em, Critter Wrangler and the go-to mare for the Royal Canterlot Zoological Society when they need help. How may I help you?"

Edited by Boss_Hoss1

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Willow remained in his state of detachment until he saw the lead pegasus mare begin to descend. He circled once or twice before coming in to land himself, touching down a little harder than usual and kicking up a cloud of dust as he watched the little crowd of ponies that had gathered began to disperse. His brow wrinkled slightly as he gazed at the approaching stallion, a slight gleam in his eye. He wondered who exactly he thought he was to scare away all the other volunteers; if they were going to be dealing with a Manticore, they needed all the help they could get.

A slight nod in Candy’s direction indicated that Will was listening, but his attention stayed fixed on the new arrival. Adjusting one shin guard, he lifted his head, causing a faint reflection of the engravings to dance across the ground by his feet. Something about the approaching pony made him slightly uneasy, and he hardly noticed as the other pegasi he had been flying with landed near him. He waited for the stranger’s answer as Candy spoke, quite interested to hear the stallion’s story.

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Dunder landed close behind Candy. He was breathing heavily when he caught up with the mare, he tapped her on the shoulder, "Hah! You're it now." He said with a chuckle and bumper her with his own before taking a seat on his rump.

He glanced around, the other ponies who were there were now leaving, why were they leaving? He looked around at the other faces surprised, but then one unicorn caught his eye. The familiar unicorn stallion with his orange coat trotted up. He jumped up on all fours happily, "Swift!" He almost cried out happily before galloping over and hugging the pony. "It's been a while since I've seen you too!" He said happily. He kept a hoof around swift as he faced Candy, "Candy, this is Swift Squall, one of my friends and fellow swordstallion. Even though I am better" He teased and then turned to Swift, "Swift, this is Candy Catch-em. Another one of my friends, a critter wrangler."

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Gambit flew after the others, until he saw the lead mare landing, and promptly followed, circling in for a graceful landing, and folding his wings away neatly, fluffing the feathers into a comfortable position on his back as he looked around, rather impressed with the sky yacht. He flicked an ear as the mare spoke to him and one of the other fellows, and looked at her, smiling a little as he was informed of her name and the name of the ship.

He was about to enquire about when they were getting under-way with this 'mission' when another pony walked up and spoke in a tone that could only be described as sinister. Wild tilted his head slightly, and backed up a step or two, so as not to interfere with someone else's business. However, he was still subtly listening, just in case there was trouble... because he was fairly good at reading ponies from his gambling days... and this one read like he had something serious to say.

As Wild waited for this new pony to continue, his gaze travelled slowly around the area, taking in the sight what appeared to be the captain and crew of the yacht, and the yacht itself... he was eager to ask questions about it, but he sensed that now was not the moment, and kept his quiet for now, waiting to see what the serious sounding newcomer wanted. He couldn't help but smile a bit though as the big male, Dunder, seemed thrilled to see this serious newcomer... perhaps it wasn't as sinister as Wild had initially read the situation as being, and he relaxed slightly, but kept listening.

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"D-Dunder?! What are you doing h..." Swift was caught completly off guard. Here he was standing, ready to berate this mare when suddenly one of his few friends appeared - from Squall's perspective, literally out of nowhere - and hugged him interrupting his speech. He hesitated for the moment, Swift wasn't accustomed to such things. But second later he returned the brotherly hug with slight smile.

"You and the jokes of yours..." he answered at the teasing.

But now that Blust showed himself up and revealed that he was friend of Candy turned situation around. He will need to be more...gentle.

"Help me? Well I don't think so." Swift answered when he finaly freed himself from Dunder's thight squeeze. "In fact it is I who will help you." unicorn said in calm voice.

He pointed at yacht with his hoof.

"Let's start with this ship. A fine vessel it is indeed, grace, luxury....but it is totally not adjusted to type of mission you require from it. Over Everfree are two types of threats a flyer needs to be wary off - air pirates and unpredictable weather. This airship can take on neither. It's too slow to escape corsairs, and any - even smallest - storm will snap this ship in two like a twig. It was just build that way." he paused for the moment to take a breath.

"I not gonna ask why you selected this ship Mrs. Candy. I assume that you didn't chose it at all. It was only sky ship available isn't it? It's nice to know that some things change but Royal Canterlot Financial Department attitude remains the same be it REA or RCZS when it comes to lending some bits." Squall said in sarcastic tone. No one liked Royal Canterlot Financial Department. It was thing as constant as earth and sky.

He gave her a an inquiring look. After that he glance the two other stallion pegasi.

"Seeing that crowd that was standing there just a while ago I was prepared to give you a lecture about assorting the crew...but it seems I misjudged you in that regard. Not only you are a friend of Dunder - one of few I would entrust my life too - but this two..." unicorn pointed at Gambit and Willow "...looks promising enough."

He stopped for the moment and adjusted his sunglasses and duster.

" That said...supplies on the ship are not sufficient. And I see no reson to transport such...creature..." Swifts voice gave slight angry overtone in word 'creature' "...in the first place. But I am not the one who would argue with member of Royal Canterlot Zoological Society."

He stopped there and sighted.

" But as I stated...being friends with Dunder imply you will do it despite anything I say, don't you Mrs. Candy? Even as unpropable as it is right? Fine. Swift straightened up.

" In that case I volunteer as well. In regards of my qualifications - I was sky ship escort for nine months in my sell sword days, I even survived a crash landing..." he gave Dunder a amused look. It was funny when both of them finded that they had a mutual experience "... I have also full REA and Honor Guard training, proficiency in material arts, first aid, hiking, star navigation and many more. I was in Everfree seven times and spent two years in Unyasi which is very much alike." he paused for a moment and leaned towards the mare. "And if you will give me six hours I can get all the equipment and supplies you need and more - free of charge."

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Candy Catch-em looked from Dunder to Swift Squall, and back again. with eyes wide in surprise.

The unicorn's demeanor changed somehow and she was sure Dunder was the reason somehow.

She nickered and swished her tail in thought as the stallion laid out his concerns and a promise to have anything she needed in 6 hours.

Candy nodded "a customer is letting me use this yacht so my main concern was storms. I think the shape of the bag should cut through the weather easier so I Okayed it, but I was not expecting air pirates... They arent'... griffons, are they?"

She unconsiously rubs her wing where brighter bands on her feathers outline healed injuries, before shaking her head and taking on a determined look. "And yes, I am determined to do this anyway. so your help is welcome if you deliver on these supplies. Just no more chasing off everypony, okay? ...By the way, What can be done to prepare for pirates?"

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Dunder took a few steps back and sat on the floor briefly after him and Swift broke the hug. He was still too happy to have gotten to see two old friends today. Good, because otherwise he might have Taken Swift's comments about Candy's expedition as a little rude or being too concerned about it. He listened to Swift talk, some of the points were completely valid, but some of them were a little out of place. "We're just going to be transporting a manticore. Candy has done stuff like this before, just go, drop it off, come back. No pirates will attack... anyway, ships don't fight off pirates, ponies do." He said with a small grin. But, Swift was still significantly older than Dunder, so he should know what he was talking about.

When Candy asked her concerns, Dunder wrapped a wing around her comfortingly and spoke confidently. "Well, we won't need to worry about pirates. I've flown over the everfree many times and I know I have't seen any pirates. Anyway, they would go for a fancier looking airboat." He unwrapped his wing around her, "And don't worry. We just need to load up the supplies for us who are going and the manticore. A pirate attack is too unlikely to stress over."

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Willow lightened up a little as he saw Dunder embrace the unicorn, but his stance remained at attention as he listened to the stallion’s speech. Though there were several well-made points, it seemed to Will that the unicorn was overreacting quite a bit. Sky pirates? Though he knew they existed, it was extremely rare to see them over the Everfree forest. Will had patrolled the skies above the forest many times, and had never gotten so much as a glimpse of a pirate vessel. He glanced over at Candy and opened his mouth for the first time in awhile. His voice was quiet and relaxed, quite the opposite of his body language.

“I would have to agree with Dunder here. I’ve flown above and around the Everfree quite a lot, and have never had any trouble with pirates or large storms. I’m sure everything will go fine, though I don’t think any of us would turn down extra supplies and help.” He dipped his head in the unicorn’s direction, trying to recall if he had heard a name. “It’ll be good to have someone so qualified on the mission, considering Manticores’…dispositions. I’m Willow Wing, pleased to meet you.” A small smile lit up Will’s face, making the previous second’s serious manner vanish in the blink of an eye.

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They arent'... griffons, are they?"

"Actually, many are. Pirates come from all kindes of places...except nobility altrought there was some exceptions in history. Griffons...are common on pirate ships..." Swift answered when first Dunder and the other pegasus stallion who introduced himself as Willow Wing dissmised his warnings.

"And I am Swift Squall, and I can tell the same." he gave his name. This armored stallion looked like the one who could take care of himself...his movements did not showed any hints of official training trought. Interesting. His attention shifted back at Dunder after he examined.

"Ok lets go with you reasoning Dunder. If they wouldn't bother with this ship why they would bother with lone pegasi? There are no skyship which can catch up with pegasus...yet. Besides they can attack as for the spare parts alone, it issn't like they can walk to shop and buy them, right? And airships needs much maintenance. " Squall said and looked aroud as if he was looking for something. And he found, his horn glowed when unicorn picked simple twig from the ground and started drawing something in the dirt.

"I done some...research about methods of this criminals. I would like to share it with all of you." Swift said, putting emphasis on the word research. He was sure that only Dunder got the allusion of his crusade agains crime.

"Sky pirates of Everfree don't patrol the sky like one's outside the forest because it wouldn't made sense." he continued "Reason? Wind currents...or rather lack of stabe wind currents over the Forests. I belive that you - as the pegasi - are familiar with the problem. There are no maps of Wind Routes of Everfree cose it's changes constanly. And so do trails of this few tradeships who fly over Everfree. As reasult corsairs can't fly along the currens, expecting trade vessels like - for example, pirates of the Frontier do - to come into their arms." he finished drawing and troted back to evaluate it.

" Flying aimlessly would be waste of the fuel. On the other hoof before they would gain necessery high they prey would be long gone. To counter this air pirates use this." he pointed at the drawing. It showed simplified intersection of some mechanical device situated in some hole.

" This is the Catapult. They build them terrain depressions, preferably between hills. This way it is hidden by both the trees and shadows. It's practicaly invisible from air. The airship rests on the platform which proceedes to lunch it, giving meaningful quick rise in altitude. The time to prepare the Catapult for another use is the reason why it was dissmised for public use. But for them? It's perfect." he finished and paused for the moment.

"I belive that would be enought for now. The pirates themself prefer to lurk at edges of the forest, where skyships are more often. I belive we wouldn't need to worry about them in the center. But unlikeness of the danger donsn't mean we can't prepare for it...just in case." Squall said and smilied slightly.

"And besides...you know what Blusty?" he 'asked' and jokingly tousled Dunders mane with his hoof.

"I am only three years older then you and I already learned that one in a million chances happen nine times out of ten."

By the way, What can be done to prepare for pirates?"

"Leave that to me as well. I know where to buy some stuff usefull for dealing with both corsairs and...unwelcoming denizens of the Everfree. Any specifict tactics we can discuss later." Swift answeared with confidence "You coming Dunder? You don't expect to carry all stuff alone huh?" he asked in playeful tone...but in truth he wanted to discuss some things with his pal...privately.

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Wild listened quietly to the pony as he talked in some considerable detail about the threats over Everfree. The pegasus was not so much concerned about what was said, as he was curious... what length and detail these pirates had gone to to perfect their methods! And how well learned this unicorn was about said methods, it was all so interesting, this pony must surely be extremely good at his job if he knew his enemies so well. He would most certainly be an interesting fellow to make conversation with... someone who knew so much would surely have some wonderful stories to tell! Wild would have to try and engage him in conversation on the matter if he was to accompany them on their mission.

Gambit kept mostly quiet through the unicorn's speech, listening closely, his ears moving slightly as he did so, but not being so bold as to interrupt. The time would come for him to introduce himself, but all things considered, he was a little cautious to do so to this soldier type... he seemed decent and intelligent, but Wild had had trouble with these types before... they tended to distrust ponies of his... origin whether they were pegasi, unicorn or earth pony. He was not by any means AFRAID of introducing himself formally, but neither was he eager to do so. However, as the unicorn started to call Dunder to go and help him, Wild realised his window of opportunity was closing, and if he did not step up to introduce himself now, he would not exactly come across as the upstanding and reliable fellow that he was trying to become.

Clearing his throat softly and politely, he stepped forward slightly and gave a small bow, “I am sorry I did not introduce myself before,” he said, “I simply did not wish to interrupt. My name is Wild Gambit, but please, do not take that as an indication of my character, I am actually quite reliable.” He gave a small smile and then stepped back into his place again, hoping that his long silence had not offended the unicorn, who seemed now to be so set on helping them so much!

Wild was not thrilled at the prospect of waiting so long to get under way, but he would accept it, if the mare he had accepted as the leader of them did so... for as long as he was on her pay-roll, Gambit would do as Candy Catch-em said.

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Candy frowned thoughtfully as she absently rubbed her wing, streaked with new growth over the past year as she heard about the tactics of the air pirates. The regrowth appears about the shape of a griffon's talons.

"I see... Perhaps you can advise the captain and myself on a reasonably safe route when you return. While "Tiny" would be a nasty surprise to any boarders, I would rather not risk him getting loose at all until we get to this little box canyon south of Dragon's Peak."

Candy nodded to the hangar bay near the ship "For those staying here with me until Swift Squall returns, would you like to meet Tiny?"

She looks to Swift Squall "If we can wrap up the other preparations before you return, we will be dining at the Phoenix Feather down the street here."

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Willow listened carefully to Swift’s second little speech, resisting the urge to butt in here and there. Though he was still a little skeptical about some of the unicorn’s supposed facts, his mindset was better to be safe than sorry, and sky pirates were something he would much rather be safe about. After all, Swift seemed extremely confident and competent and his reasoning was sound, so there was no reason not to trust his judgment.

Looking over at the other pegasi as Wild began to speak, Will saw Candy touching her wing and his brows immediately furrowed. It was obvious what had happened; somepony as proficient as herself would not be so skittish about griffons unless there was some very specific reason. The marks on her wing were clearly carved there by talons, creating a nasty scar and mental trauma just as debilitating as the wound itself. Will couldn’t imagine having his wing mutilated like that…it would be ages before he could fly, and that would be awful. Resolving not to ask the mare about the incident to avoid causing her discomfort, Will pushed his curiosity to the back of his mind and focused on Candy’s words, waiting until she had apparently finished before talking quietly.

“I’m guessing ‘Tiny’ is the Manticore? That seems to be a…fitting name.” Will chuckled softly, a smile twitching the corners of his lips. “I would love to see him; I think non-pony creatures are quite fascinating.” He glanced at the other ponies around him, hoping he wasn’t making himself look like an idiot in front of all of them. A sudden strong breeze ruffled his wings and he looked up, a shadow flitting across his features. Large thunderheads, which had seemingly sprung up out of nowhere, were perched on the horizon, hovering ominously over the land. “But we'd better hurry. It looks like rain, though I didn’t think we were supposed to have any today…” Slightly puzzled, Willow took a few steps closer to the airship before looking back at the others once again, waiting for some sign that his idea was a good one in the form of a guide or agreeing word.

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