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Kirby Krackle

Golden Age: 2.5 - Art Deco

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The applause was nowhere near thunderous. The crowd was much to small to rock the house like that. But Curtain Call was happy to see the eighty or so ponies that did show up were a lively bunch, and definitely appreciative of his acting troop's efforts. The stallions stomped, the mares whistled and catcalled, and the foals... well, they were either dead quiet and confused or going completely berserk. Both of these were the result of Dam and Sire not teaching the little ones proper etiquette yet. Oh well. Next time.

 

So as Curtain Call took in the faces of the crowd during the final bow; which wasn't easy with the stage lights blinding him; he noticed something off about a pony who was sitting way back in the nosebleed section. It was Princess Morning Glory! And she was wearing many frumpy coats on top of each other in hopes of being incognito. Sure, the disguise (if she could even call it that) did a passable job of hiding that impressive wingspan. But the cost was drawing more attention now that she looked about a hundred pounds heavier. This also did nothing for the fact that she was a full head taller than everypony else and the mint green horn jutting out from her hood looked like an olive and toothpick in reverse.

 

But no, he internally snarked, you look great. Keep it up, sweetheart. Also internally, he made a promise to fashion his friend a better disguise. Poor girl. She tries.

 

Her appearance, as he thought about it, was confusing in another way too. On the one hoof, she's here. Does that mean the city is in peril? Because on the other hoof, it's only her and it's during business hours. So... social call? As the drapes closed and his actors went to the dressing room to disrobe, the troop leader decided to put his money on 'social visit.' Which was fine. He had a favor to ask anyway.

 

About a half hour later was closing time. The guests were long gone. Cast and crew (save two, of course) collected their meager pay and headed home for a good night's rest. This left only Morning Glory, Soliloquy and Curtain Call alone with the leftover popcorn and that hissing in the pipes.

 

Good evening, Princess!”. He stepped from behind the curtains almost in uniform. The tuxedo was on, but not the gear that mattered. Not that she could see, anyway. “Is this for business or pleasure?

 

'Pleasure' was said with a wink.

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Morning Glory was pleased to see the crowd enjoying the efforts of Curtain Call and his troop - it seemed too few ponies for such a grand old theatre and such a grand performance, but perhaps they'd bring word of how wonderful the show was to others.  She'd always loved theatre - it was, like hoofball, a way for ponies to forget their problems for a time, and just enjoy the thrill of the performance.

Do you think we should have bought two tickets?  I feel like we're cheating him.

That would compromise our disguise and our identity, Bravado!  Don't be ridiculous!

That was a joke, Doc.  You understand the concept of a joke, right?

Of course I understand jokes!  Why did the chicken cross the road?

Um ... to get to the other side?

No, you're supposed to ask why!

OK, fine, why did the chicken cross the road?

To get to the centrifuge?

...

Cause the centrifuge separates solutions?

...

Brings them to the other side of the test tube?

Stick with your day job, Doc.

All too soon, the show was over, and Morning Glory was stamping her hooves on the floor with delight along with the rest of the crowd.  Then lingering afterwards so she could say hello.  Slipped up onto the stage, grinning broadly.  He was going to be so surprised when she revealed who she was!

"Good evening, Princess!"

Dangit!

"I'm not a princess!" she retorted hotly, her wings trying to flare out underneath the constricting layers of fabric.  "Ohmigosh, I've already explained that to you three times!"  She closed her eyes and let out a soft sigh, opened them again.  "Aaaanyway.  No, not for business, this is just for pleasure."

 

Awww, yeah.

 

Shut up, Doc, he didn't mean it that way.

 

"Wanted to see you perform, y'know... when we're not out there with everypony else."  She winked and nodded her head back towards the entrance, trying to be a bit circumspect about their heroic identities.  "Not a bad crowd for the matinee - when's the main show?"
 

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Curtain Call has had his suspicions, but tonight's observations have definitely proved them: the Princess is cute cute CUTE when she's mad! The way her cheeks puffed up like a pigeon, how that... impressive wingspan... struggled in an attempt to escape all those frumpy coats, that hotblooded gleam in her eyes. Oh, be still my aching heart, he prayed as he noticed her winking back at him.

 

But wait. Hold on a moment. She winked back. Sweet Celestia, she winked back! O frabjous day! Callooh Callay! In no time at all, Curtain Call's sly grin turned into a beaming one, and his cravat was off in mere seconds, blushing all the while.

 

Pleasure it is, then! If you'll allow me. Morning Glory.” Good manners dictated he take her coat, and the stallion was happy to oblige. Though he did have a bit of trouble seeing over the department store she was wearing on her back. He also said her name, rather than 'Princess', for added emphasis. And because it's wrong to tease on the first date. That happens on the third.

 

And if you wanted to see me-” The blushing got worse. “Ahem -perform, all you had to do was...

 

Not a bad crowd for the matinee – when's the main show?

 

Yes, it is that easy to wound Curtain Call's pride.

 

That was the main show”, he said through clenched teeth. “The matinee was at two in the afternoon.” He was now trying his hardest not to snarl at her. He was also deeply frustrated by the fact that dropping a piano on her head would only result in a ruined piano. “And I happen to think, Princess, that eighty-six tickets sold is pretty good for a Wednesday night, considering!” He continued to mutter at nothing in particular as he ever-so-delicately folded those coats on the piano that would not be used as a weapon tonight.

 

And then he took a deep breath. And then he wasn't mad anymore. And then he unearthed from a secret floorboard a little secret. It was a bottle of Berryshine, a now discontinued line of Pinot Noir he bought during a vacation in Canterlot a few years back. It cost him a worrying fraction of his budget that weekend. It also came home with a promise he made to himself: that he would never open it until the night he brought home that special somepony. Well, tonight was the night!

 

Son”, he could hear his Uncle say in the back of his mind, “You couldn't land yourself a decent mare to safe the theatre.” Oh, you senile old coot, you were about to eat those words!

 

The lovestruck actor could only think of sweet aromas and gentle candlelight as he readied the corkscrew and fetched a pair of glasses... until that hissing got worse, now much more than background noise. One hearty stomp on the ground shut it up for now, but the Earth Pony grumbled, knowing full well it would be back sooner or later.

 

Fine”, he said to himself, with 'disappointment' being nowhere near strong enough a word. “Business before pleasure.

 

The bottle was back in hiding, the glasses were set aside, and his dreams of a date night were crushed. Just as quick as it came off, his cravat was being retied.

 

My dear”, he said like he was on the clock, “If you don't mind putting our night on hold, I'd like to ask a favor of you. Just some heavy lifting on your end. Nothing fancy. But more importantly, I need your utmost discretion. Please. None of our friends can know about this.

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Morning Glory was extremely confused by Curtain Call's reaction to her reference to their hero work ... and it wasn't made any better by Doc's smug amusement in the back of her head.

What aren't you telling me, Doc?

Oh, nothing, Bravado.  I'm sure you'll find out soon enough.  Make sure to keep up our cover!

"I'm sorry, Curtain, I didn't realize Wednesdays were slow nights for the theatre.  With all the seats you have out there ... well, my only experience with theatre is the high school drama club."

She tilted her head back, and let loose with one of the more amusing songs their production had played - though she hadn't played the role herself, the song was fun.  

o/~ o/~ o/~ o/~ o/~
It's just that I am what I am
And I'm me!
When I look at myself
And I see in myself
All the wonderful things that I see!
o/~ o/~ o/~ o/~ o/~


She chuckled softly and shook her head.  "Must seem pretty amateur to you," she said, smiling to take away any sting of self-doubt.  "But I had a lot of fun.  Anyway!  Of course you can depend on me, Curtain.  Whatever you need, just ask, and I'll help to the best of my ability."

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Curiouser and curiouser, cried Curtain Call. The more he discovers about the new Alicorn on the block, the more new questions arise. To be honest, he wasn't entirely sure that Morning Glory could be trusted with this little caper. If word got out? Well, he was already on the business end of a lightning gun once and was in no mood for an encore. But she wouldn't sell him out. Right? Right. She was a canary, not a stool pigeon. Speaking of which, that voice was lovely. A little rough around the edges, but if he got the fair lady to practice...

 

Amateur, nothing. We all started somewhere”, he reassured her. By the Sun, she was cute. “If you like, I could always see if my barbershop quartet needs a new mezzo-soprano... Nevermind. Business first.

 

On went the cloak and mask and, most importantly, the ghastly visage of the Masquerade; with one extra addition. Four rubber work boots went on over his tux, in stark contrast to what the well-dressed stallion usually wears. Though they were quickly obscured as he adjusted the illusion that surrounded him.

 

He lead the minty green bulldozer out back, passed the free popcorn and through the service door.

 

I also hope you won't mind getting a little dirty.

 

The next thing to open was a sewer hole cover, albeit with a little struggle on his part. He was an Earth Pony, not a miracle worker.

 

Ladies first. ...on second thought, no. Let me. It's a doozy down there.

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Morning Glory followed Curtain Call - no, Masquerade - along curiously, unsure exactly what it was he was asking her.  She had the terrible feeling that she was missing part of a conversation.  Ah well, whatever.  As he led her out the back, she followed close behind, determined to be as useful as she - Oooo, popcorn!  She grabbed a huge bucket of the popcorn, burying her muzzle into it as she followed along diligently.  *crunch crunch nom crunch*

"Here, allow me, Ancient One" she said, as he struggled with the sewer hole cover, nudging him gently to the side.  Then, one swift stomp of her foot bounced the cover up into the air, where she caught it easily with one hoof as if it were a waiter's tray, then set it down gently next to the hole.

"You're the one who knows where we're going," she agreed.  Ugh.  Sewers.  Really?  She crumpled up the empty bucket of popcorn and tossed it into the rear dumpster, then followed down after him.

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Curtain Call, seasoned actor that he was, actually broke character! He couldn't help it; accidentally letting a whistle escape his lips as the Princess put on display a fantastically flourished feat of strength. That iron slab, on a normal day, requires a pair of grizzled workhorses to budge. Meanwhile, Morning Glory was tossing around like a college freshman would a Frisbee. How could he not be impressed? Though perhaps he stared for a little too long. But the way her muscles bulged ever so slightly under that coat of velveteen and minty green...

Nevermind.

Ahem!” he coughed out, finally back to reality. “Yes. Well done. Anywho. Allons-y.

The phantom bowed to her grace before vanishing down that noxious portal, completely ignoring the perfectly good ladder bolted to the wall. There was only darkness and silence down that concrete tunnel before Glory heard a sploosh at the bottom some seconds later.

Yep”, he muttered to himself, though excellent acoustics made everything louder. “Just as bad as I remember.

It seems that city hall these days cannot come to solve a problem any more complicated than what to have for lunch that day. And yet the literal bowels of the city puts things in perspective. Thoroughbred's sewer system, an impossible labyrinth of pipes ranging from the colossal to the miniscule, was constructed back in the city's infancy, long before productivity was slowed to a screeching halt by bureaucracy. This was a marvel of social engineering, able to whisk away waste and drain away storms without any pony giving a second thought. It's the literal foundation upon which generations grow up safe and healthy, and accommodating a population the giants that built it could have never predicted. It's a dirty job, but somepony has to do it.

And here was Curtain Call, up to his fetlocks in muck, his special mask allowing him to navigate through this place where no light can reach. He went right to work once certain his formal wear was stain free, though he made sure to stay within line of sight of the entrance. Best his company not get lost down here.

With great care did the Masquerade search the tunnel, examining each and every brick for that one agonizing detail. His diligence should be praised, though it wasn't rewarded, as his first pass yielded no results. So he doubled back to check again. Clearly this was a clue important enough for him to invest hours, if needed. Hours in a sewer.

But he failed to see the bigger picture.

There were three gashes carved into the wall, each one larger than the stallion searching for them. And the three were arranged into an arrow pattern, one that was pointing to another arrow, deeper into the tunnels. This was a trail.

Now, Morning Glory wasn't as seasoned as some of her colleagues when it came to the security, containment and protection against the weird. But she did have a chaos outbreak under her belt, and one half of the Princess was a renowned scientist and a doctor of aetheric studies. She could tell in an instant that these carvings were not natural, made by neither pony or machine. To be honest, it looks to be made by a bullwhip, if the whip were ten times its normal size.

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Morning Glory sincerely hoped these magical outfits dry-cleaned themselves, because there was no way Bravado wanted to have to scrub them out by hoof.  Well, they cleaned themselves of dust, debris, and damage ... a little dooky would probably disappear as well.  The detritus of the city.

Still enough to make her cringe, though.  She fidgeted, trying to think of anything other than where she was standing, as The Masquerade studied the wall intricately.  What was he searching for, that pony?  Some tiny clue, no doubt.  She looked at those gouges in the wall, pondering their meaning.  What strange tool had made them?  And why?  What were they for?  It seemed too rough to be a planned part of the sewers... some later addition by ponies who had to come down too often?  Where did they point?

"Ancient One, I don't mean to interrupt your scrutiny ... but if it wouldn't distract you too much, do you know where these giant arrows point to?"

 

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So immersed in work was the Masquerade that he almost didn't hear his colleague. But the fates are kind; this wraith does tend to find himself in places with excellent acoustics. So while Morning Glory's polite little nudging did little to attract attention, hearing her echo a half dozen times did the trick. His head snapped up in alarm, like that one poor sap on the trolly who sleeps through her stop. What these two ponies have in common is their tenancy to work the graveyard shift.

Hm? Arrows? What arrows? There aren't any arrows, my dear.

But perhaps he protests too much, as he was now scrambling to find whatever it is that the Princess was looking at. His hooves were against the wall to find a new focus. His face was hairs away from the wall, so close that he could smell the decades of collected decay. All the while, muttering every sort of negative qualifier to himself, insisting that he had not yet lost his marbles. So every nook and cranny was examined. Not one brick escaped his watchful eye! And he got nothing for it!

You've clearly taken one too many blows to the head, Princess. There's not a blasted thing here. Look, I'll show you.

He stepped back, now standing exactly as far back as she. He extended a leg to provide himself just the right angle in which to look. So he looked. And looked and looked and looked and-

OH FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!

-and he broke character again.

Swell. Just swell!

And there Curtain Call goes, muttering to himself, stomping off into the darkness following the directions which were apparently meant for him.

I swear to Celestia, it's going to be the Tomatoes that kill me dead. Just you wait! These were supposed to be subtle hints, Silver! I distinctly remember saying the word 'subtle'! But ooh, genius like you wouldn't know subtle if it bit you on the tail!

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"I am NOT a princess!" Morning Glory snapped with exasperation.  "I know, hahaha, very funny, so easy to get a rise out of me!"  She ignored his grumbling for her own grumbling as they made their way through the sewers.  "But I swear, ponies are going to overhear you, and think I'm setting myself up with royal aspirations, and then SOMEpony's going to mention to Celestia that this 'Morning Glory' is trying to set herself up as princess of Thoroughbred City, and is committing treason, and then her highness is going to come down here and ... I don't know!  Exile me or designate a cell at the new Tartarus Holding Facility for me or something!  Hey, are you listening to me?  It's just a joke to you, but treason is serious business!"

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As Morning Glory vented, Curtain Call listened as a good friend would; giving to her all the attention he gives the guests of his theatre as they march out from their seats to complain about volume or stale popcorn or, worst of all, the language being used on stage.

 

Zero. The joke is zero attention given.

 

But years of what is technically costumer service let him fake it excellently. He knew when to nod at appropriate moments. He would repeat key phrases. Adding phrases like “Uh huh” and “I see, good point” were icing on the cake.

 

Hey, are you listening to me?

 

Oh fudge. She caught on.

 

It's just a joke to you, but treason is serious business!

 

The stallion stopped in his tracks, no warning given. She had apparently struck a nerve. He turned to face her, nose to nose, and glared under that mask. Mere mortal that he was, standing up to a physical goddess.

 

First off, do not mistake a sense of humor for ignorance or apathy. I understand the gravity of your situation just fine. Secondly, you know what else is serious business? Breaking and entering, assault, vandalism, grand larceny, corporate sabotage! I would be put away for life for the things I've done since the mask has gone on!

 

And I invite it every night I go out. Because all it would take is a single exorcist to give my house a clean bill of health before cops and mobsters alike come to burn the place down! But guess what keeps them all away?

 

By his will, the ghastly white coat of the Masquerade turned a pitch black. A horn grew from nothing and the red velvet cloak became an intimidating wingspan. His eyes became as emeralds and his mane grew wild and long, twinkling as would a star-filled night sky. A white crescent moon in a blot of violet appeared on his flank. The creature sneered, revealing teeth like gleaming daggers.

 

For all but a moment or two, Princess Morning Glory was face to face with Nightmare Moon. Then, just as quickly as the terror arrived, she vanished, leaving only her friend. Not the Masquerade, but Curtain Call, his disguises discarded for just a moment.

 

Theatricality and deception are powerful agents. You must become more than just a pony in the mind of your opponent. You can have a horn and wings and have more power than a locomotive. By all means. But that won't inspire your allies or strike fear into your enemies.

 

Lecture complete, the simple Earth Pony put his mask back on and turned to continue their expedition. And then he tripped on a rock.

 

I AM SO PEEVED RIGHT NOW”, he screamed as he got to his hooves, wiping as much muck as he could off of his suit. And it was during this emergency cleaning that he took notice of just what kind of rock he stepped on. It had curls and flourishes on one end, and was flat on the other. Rough even. Like it was snapped off of a much larger stone. As he examined, his face turned grim. Terrified, even.

 

In no time at all, he stuffed the piece of rubble into his pocket and went into a full gallop.

 

We have to go, Princess! We have to hurry! We're running out of time!

 

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Morning Glory frowned, bristling a bit, unimpressed with what she knew to be an illusion this time, and unconcerned with his foul language.  She'd heard worse in the locker rooms.  What was it with her new friends giving her speeches on what she was doing wrong?  Princess Celestia herself had given her this job.  Sure, she was a bit clumsy, but she'd like to think she was doing a decent enough job.

 

Though he does have a point, you know.

 

Oh, stop it, Doc.  You've wanted to be a princess from day one.

 

That doesn't make what he's saying wrong.

 

But we're not a princess!  If anything, we're a ... a royal champion or some such!

 

The alicorn galloped after Curtain Call as best she could, wishing she could spread her wings and fly, but there just wasn't the proper clearance in here.  The whole weight of the city above seemed to press in on her, trapping her down here in the dark and filth.  No flight, down from three dimensions to just two.  No, just one:  forward and backward.  Curtain's agitation caught with her, wrapped up with the unfamiliar restrictions of the tiny, pressing-in-upon-her tunnels, sending her heart racing as she charged towards what she could only assume to be danger.

 

Sword's gone... helm or shield... helm or shield...

 

The helm she always wore shone with light, flowed down to her shoulder, where it reformed into the grand Shield of Tyche, emblazoned with her the rising-sun cutie mark of Morning Glory.  She was ready to throw herself between Curtain and danger at any moment.

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Under his mask and under his breath, our intrepid hero was muttering every profanity he knew. Which were a lot, by the way. But Morning Glory could hear, if she really tried, something a little different amidst all that panic.

 

I promised her”, she heard him him say. “I'll never forgive myself”, he said.

 

No complete sentences, mind you. It was quiet the racket as the two of them galloped through fetlock deep water, zigging and zagging through tunnels that carried an echo far too well. It was a miracle she could hear anything. But that's Alicorn magic for you.

 

ARTY, NO!

 

Speaking of echos, the two mystery ponies certainly heard that one; a deep and booming voice paired with what felt like an earthquake. Heck, they could hear it all the way back at the theatre's service entrance. This tantrum was a big one, to the point where even the stagnant water jumped in surprise and the walls themselves began to rumble. But what in the wide world of Equestria was even capable of this?

 

Don't you 'Arty, no' me! For da last time, I'm taking one a' deez statues upstairs and dats final!

 

B-B-B-BUT ARTY! DAY SO PWETTY!

 

Yeah yeah, I heard ya da first time. Look, I'm lettin' ya keep da rest, see? I jus need only one! I was gonna split it witcha! Maybe I get you sometin' nice from Sweet Things or sometin'? Eh? Big ol cake just fer my buddy, Huey? Howzat sound?

 

PWOMISE?

 

Hey, would I lie to you?

 

Curtain Call knew exactly what was capable of that lack of an indoor voice. And he was having absolutely none of it.

 

Morning Glory. We need to go.” No 'Princess' attached. He was serious. So serious in fact that he failed to notice he was backing up into her and going absolutely nowhere for it.

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Morning Glory very nearly bowled The Masquerade over when he stopped dead, and only her training with Captain Nightguard kept her from trampling him underhoof.  The loud voice echoing through the sewers - and by the flame, why sewers? - had him pretty spooked, which had to be something impressive.

"What is it, Ancient One?" she asked lowly.  "What so concerns you that you feel that you cannot outsmart it and I cannot outfight it?  That you are willing to renege upon your word rather than face it?"

 

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Bowled over is an understatement.

 

You cannot be serious”, the actor said, absolutely flabbergasted. There could be no conceivable way that Morning Glor hasn't heard of Huey. Tourists know who he is! Some especially crazy ones take the trip over the bridge just for the chance to see him! Maniacs. So, either the Princess either a) is from Polyneighsia or somewhere equally removed from the goings on of this this town, b) just poofed into existence a couple of months ago, or c) is catastrophically dense.

 

Beyond frustrated with all three of the scenarios he has presented to himself, Curtain Call grabbed her by the ear with one hoof and yanked, while the other was up to his lips to shush the Alicorn before she could protest. Together the two crept just around the next corner, so that Glory could lay eyes upon just what exactly had spooked her friend so.

 

Who she saw failing a negotiation was a small mare, an Earth Pony, and not at all physically impressive. She was orange coated, with a black tip at the end of her shaggy and poorly kept white mane and tail. And she was dressed just as crumby. That suit and tie were fooling nopony. She was definitely below the poverty line. But the top hat was a nice touch. Perhaps it could be saved from future wear and tear if she got it to a hatter in time. Oh, and got out of the sewers.

 

No, stupid. The other one.

 

'The other one', who was still refusing to part ways with even one piece of his collection of life-sized pony statues, was Huey. And Huey was a potato-shaped juggernaut; a cable-car sized baby-thing with enough raw power to topple a skyscraper. A giant gray blob of fat and muscle was he, more than capable of engulfing a full grown pony whole in either a single palm or in that massive underbite. His legs were like tree trunks, capable of stomping a pony into paste. His eyes were beady little things, barely able to be seen under that big stony brow, but ironically had in them that unmistakable gleam of childhood innocence. The fact that worn on his bum was a diaper made of discarded circus tent only cemented the theory.

 

Huey was a Cave Troll; a colossal beast of impossible strength and a nigh-impenetrable rock-like hide. A native of the Everfree and other equally inhospitable locations in Equestria. And he was nothing more than a toddler. And he was living in Equestria's sewers. Looks like the tabloids weren't lying after all.

 

See? Hopeless. Game called on account of tank.

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Morning Glory peeked carefully out past the corner, to see those two lurking in the sewers.  Well, she'd never seen a cave troll before, but it didn't look like much.  She'd beaten bigger things.  Doc wasn't so sure - but Doc also wasn't sure exactly how strong they were.  Of course, if she fought with that thing, those statues would be destroyed - probably stolen from some museum, no doubt what Masquerade and she were here about.

 

A brief reflection on game tactics gave her an answer.

 

"Well, nothing I can't outfight, so which one are you worried you can't outsmart?" she asked wryly, her voice barely a breath in the Masquerade's ear as her form was a warm pressure against his side.  "Three possibilities.  One:  He carries the statue up and she stays here.  I jump her, take the statues, we're gone.  Two:  She somehow carries the statue up and he stays here.  You copycat her and trick him away from the rest, I take the statues, we're gone.  Three:  They both leave, the statues are left alone.  We take the statues, we're gone.  Sound good?"

 

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Red blooded stallion that he was, Curtain Call couldn't help but enjoy the feeling of a pretty mare pressing against him. The hot breath in his ear was a dreadful tease, sending shivers all the way down to his hooves. Goosebumps. Sewers or no, he could stay like this for hours. Perhaps if the two of them survived tonight, he might even get a second chance at that wine.

 

…Focus, loverboy! Business before pleasure! Although he would rather remove one of his legs right now, the Masquerade pulled himself out of Morning Glory's embrace. Woe is he.

 

My dear”, he said to her, still just a whisper. “I do not doubt your strength or your courage. Far from it. But”, he emphasized before the Alicorn got a big head, “even if Huey isn't your equal in raw power, he's pretty darn close.

 

If you fight him here”, and now his voice turned grim, “You'll be putting the whole city at risk. What if during that scrap you knock against a foundation? Or Huey knocks down several? All of downtown would turn to rubble in an instant and take everypony who lives there with it!

 

The wayward spirit took a deep breath, his doomsday prophesying over and done with. There was a small part of him, a shameful one, that would have actually wanted to see that fight too. And another one, less shameful, that would have loved to sell tickets for it.

 

We must find another way”, he pleased. “And we cannot let any harm come to those statues. Under no circumstance. I promised.

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