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Neighpon. It wasn't all that long ago that Ice Storm had found herself here. Even still, that was roughly a year ago, and on not so legal terms on an island other than this one. One of their operatives had been taken by their enemy, which they had found out had been working in the region. That wasn't the only thing that they discovered, but the main mission at the time was rescuing Pathfinder. She can still remember that rainy night. The rain was good, it covered their tracks well, and made it difficult for enemies to hear them. Still, it wasn't without danger and conflict. Conflict that she wasn't expecting on this trip. That was on the Island of Ryushima, and right now she was on the Island of Horshu, just a ways north of Kyona. The city was great but she really came to Neighpon to take in some of the beauty that it had to offer. Right now she found herself in a small almost village like area that she couldn't pronounce the name of to save her life, but it was quiet, pretty, and the noodles were amazing! She always looked forward to lunch and dinner here.

 

That being said, it was actually right about lunch time and she was already starving. She had skipped breakfast every morning just so that she can get the most noodles that she could. She eagerly sat at the outdoor cafe and and awaited her waiter. Thankfully, they had menu cards that she could fill out because she still wasn't all that great with Neighponese yet. she circled the veggies that she wanted in the noodles and then circled the largest bowl and put the number '2' next to it. She gave the menu back to the waiter and smiled before signalling to wait a second. She had almost forgot to circle her tea, which she liked the red clover tea with strawberries and honey. It was delicious. Once she finished that, she simply awaited for her food to arrive and looked around to the countryside.

 

The weather was a tad bit overcast but nothing that she disliked to be honest. Not that she would ever tell Celestia this directly, but she wasn't a very big fan of the sun. in the mornings and evenings if you even looked in a certain direction you were blinded, and if you needed to look up for a pegasi or anything during the day, you were also blinded. It was an issue that most ponies easily work around, including herself, but she still didn't like being blinded on occassion. Cloud cover prevented those situations. As she looked out, she could see a very, very faint breeze blowing in the distance through the treeline of the forest. She wanted to venture in it, but she had no knowledge of the layout of this land. For all she knew she could get lost in there or worse. She only have a vague idea of what predators could be lurking as well. Nothing really worth the risk of sightseeing. Though she had heard about some tours through the safer parts of the forest. She might look into those. Not that she couldn't defend herself of course, but she was here on vacation. She'd much rather not have to fight some big predatory thing because of a situation she needlessly put herself in.

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The sky was overcast and the weather wasn't exactly dedicated to those who wanted to fly, but that was fine. Rainbow Dash was used to flying inclement weather, helped build wing strength. A nice clear day full of great sight-lines was far more preferable but as she cut through the Neighponese sky she was just happy to get her wings in use for reasons other than flying for the Wonderbolts. She missed the lazy flight routes and easygoing nature of the Equestrian sky. Neighponese sky was a little less forgiving and more wild, but it was still fun to fly in. That little extra resistance and challenge was more fun for her than anything else. She was lucky enough to even be here, and though it wasn't for long Rainbow Dash planned on making the most of it.

The Wonderbolts were in the middle of an International Tour, one of the few they had ever done. Just last night they had played to one of the largest crowds in the history of the organization, a few nights after playing to another top five crowd. She had tried to read up on the language and customs but had given up, They provided translators and while she was going around she had picked enough stuff up to feel comfortable being by herself. Could she live in Neighpon and not make a foal of herself? Not at all, but it got her through the workday. Besides some amazing airshows she spent a great deal of time with fans. She didn't understand much but she understood the language of fandom and she hoped she had made a lot of her Neighponese fans very happy.

She earned this day off. She thought about spending it in the big city but aftershow parties and travel took her through them anyway. Plus while she had no special distaste for the big city she was a small-town filly at heart. She had made her home in Ponyville for a reason. She wanted to see the small towns of this land as well and decided to have a nice stop at a small town not far from the last show, flying through the overcast sky with all the ease that was her birthright. She wasn't in her Wonderbolts outfit but still cut an impressive image in the sky, a rainbow trail behind her. Luckily she wasn't up there for too much longer, and she came down to earth in a swift but gentle slope. She had caught her target in her sights from above and wasn't wasting any time.

It was a noodle shop. She liked noodles. They could be quick eats and enough broth to make for a nice slurp which- well, she liked that too. The shop didn't have doors and was open, and she landed not far from it. She trotted over and was seated, during which saw another Equestrian- was that...Ice Storm, if she remembered correctly? A menu card was offered. She ticked most boxes. She was hungry. The waitress kindly left, and Rainbow stretched out and waved to Ice Storm. “Hey, didn't think I'd see you here!” she said excitedly. Mostly excited because it was so nice to have a day off to just spend, and luckily enough, she didn't have to embarrass herself with bad Neighponese like she did last night at what turned out to be a sumo show. And not, as she had wanted to see, an authentic hot springs sauna.

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Out here in the wilderness Toboe had learned many things. How to mark trees, how to dig holes, how to scent out food, but the most powerful lesson she'd learned was this: The forest is AWFUL. If she had to admit she'd lost touch with her natural wolfishness having been raised by a rich family back in Polohama, she definitely would right now with no shame in her heart whatsoever. She missed the cozy, yet spacious apartment she had. The soft sofas, the hot meals, the family she was raised with, it was all miles away now and because that annoying noodle apparently couldn't just send her back she had to hike all the way back. She insisted to Nensho that she could make it on her own... in part because of her pride, but also because she only knew one disguise and she couldn't be seen like that this far out in the boonies where any old wannabe Yakuza could nab her up and be ransomed off.

 

So, here she was. Walking through the forest trying to make sure she was heading the right way... she might have to swipe a compass soon at this rate. A loud grumble gave her pause. She was hungry again. Attempts to actively hunt for food out in these woods was not the type of pursuits she was used to. She knew the sights and smells of the lively city back home, but here? It was green in almost every direction, her nose was confounded and occasionally irritated by all these new and unfamiliar scents and she always found herself looking over her shoulder with the feeling she might be being watched by something. There had to be some simpler way to get something in her belly. 

 

The her nose twitched. Eyes widened and the wolf lifted up her head, taking several deep sniffs of the air. Noodles! That was a smell she could definitely recognize. She could also recognize the smell of vegetables. If she remembered right more than a few of those scents carried protein. The wolf quickly padded off through the woods in hot pursuit of the tantalizing aroma. Soon enough her nose brought her to the forest's edge... close to a noodle shop! Not many patrons. Seemed to be only two ponies here. Both had the unmistable scent and demeanor of tourists from over the ocean waves. That one with the rainbow pattern mane... she looked sort of familiar. Wherever she saw her from though, it couldn't have been that important. 

The hungry wolf stayed hidden in the shadows of the brush, eyes the patrons carefully. It seemed the blue-- well the mostly blue one had just put down a menu. That means the server would be coming and soon her food would too. A simple plan was formed: Jump on the table when the food comes, take the dish, run away past the front door of the shop. If the owner saw her it meant he might note the tourists incident and given them a free dish on the house. For now... she could only watch though.

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After Ice Storm had turned in her menu, she gave a gentle smile as she heard a familiar voice come from behind her. Not that she had ever directly met the pony that she belonged to, or if she did she couldn't remember and she'd like to think if she had met a pony like Rainbow Dash. Like herself Rainbow Dash was a high profile pony in Equestria, and a lot of ponies knew of her. Of course, Ice wasn't an element bearer at any point in time, well, element of harmony anyways... so she wasn't as known as Rainbow, but she was decently known in the areas she worked in, and throughout pretty much any cold region. She was even known to some extent in Whitescar. Of course, that was mostly because of Sigrin and the Askr clan. She made a note to herself to take time to go up and visit them soon. It would be nice for her to visit Whitescar on vacation for once and not one a mission to rat our one of the foul plans of the Red Jarl. She could still remember him, and how he was One hundred percent Loyal to Sombra and the ways of the old viking that pillaged. Until he was dealt with, he would always be one of her priority targets.

 

That was for another time though. Right now the only thing she needed to be concerned with was the happy face of a Wonderbolt and fellow Equestrian Hero. She gave a happy wave back to her as she saw Rainbow turn in her own menu card that... looked a lot like hers. She couldn't help but giggle when she saw it. "Hey Rainbow!" she smiled as she gestured to the seat across from her, inviting Rainbow to join her. Having a fellow pony that she could talk with and fluently understand was a welcome perk of the morning. When she said that she wouldn't have expected to see her here, she nodded and smiled. "Yeah, I was here once before on less than legal terms. Not this island but the terrain, and the climatology here intrigued me to come back and take a look around. It's no arctic tundra like the Frozen North, but it's very beautiful and temperate. Please come and take a seat! It's not everyday here in Neighpon that I can understand for longer than to get directions!" she added with a smile.

 

Of course, Ice Storm was oblivious to the set of eyes that was watching her from afar. She was so predisposed with the conversation that she was now in the midst of having with Rainbow Dash that she had let her guard down a bit. On top of that, everypony here had been quite nice, though some of the ponies in the city were a bit.... crude, but that was the same in Equestria. Seaddle was bad about that on the beach front, and in the deep downtown. Everypony there seemed to be in a hurry to get where it was they were going and then wait in lines and then hurry some more. She didn't understand it herself why there was such a hustle, but she didn't question it either. She did admit that she liked the quieter places like this more than the bustling cities, Canterlot being the exception. It may have been the capital city of Equestria, but it didn't feel as big as it was. At least not anymore now that she was in with the proper crowd and not the ones that tried to judge her for everything. Of course she was always smug right back at them, quick to notate her own accomplishments to theirs when they ever tried to question her worth. She liked to think of herself as a rare pony. A pony with the wealth of a noble, but without the attitude of one. But she figured that's what happens when you get burned by nobility at a young age like she did.

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Friendly faces were a dime a dozen in Equestria and that was all well and good, but out here in the world they seemed a mite more rare than Rainbow would like to admit. Not that she would imply Equestrians were better or that the Neighponese weren't friendly, but they were friendly in ways that didn't always seem to make sense or touch Rainbow in the ways they were meant to. Maybe with more time some of their more obscure customs would make sense but she doubted it would matter this trip. Maybe next trip?

 

Speaking of trips, Ice offered er a closer seat and Rainbow took it, revealing kinda quickly that she had been here before on less legal visits. What did that even mean? She didn't think of Ice Storm really being the sort of mare who'd run around doing all sorts of illegal things. She seemed nice enough but maybe that was why she made a good criminal? Maybe she wasn't a criminal. Secret adventure pony? Possibly. That would be cool. Rainbow's curiosity was piqued a great deal however. She didn't know about EPIC. Outside of those authorized to know, nopony knew about EPIC. Rainbow Dash was a bit too talkative to be one of those who knew. "What happened? Did you forget your passport or something?" Rainbow asked quizzically, lost as to what she could mean.

 

Rainbow likewise wasn't paying much attention outside from Ice Storm. Not that she focused on more than what was in front of her consciously. The fact was that she learned around the focus and it was one of the reasons why she was such a great flier. It was kind of true o the ground as well, though not to the same levels. She could learn just about anything there was to know while she was flying around, but on the ground she could still pick up a few things. Especially if she felt like she was being watched, which was the sensation she was having as the moments went by. Rainbow started looking around, her eyes not narrowing but more scanning in general. She wasn't concerned or anything- just a bit of something was tickling her feathers a bit.

 

"Yeah this place is pretty...pretty, I guess. A bit too weird for my tastes but I'm sure that'll change. It certainly has charm enough. Hey, Ice," she leaned in, "do you get the feeling we're being watched?" Rainbow asked her fellow Equestrian in private. It wasn't long until the food was set to arrive and she was hungry, but she didn't think it was her slightly audible stomach growl that was setting her very partially on edge.

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Ice Storm was a tad bit surprised that Rainbow Dash hadn't known about the operations going on behind the scenes, but at the same time she wasn't. She rememberes somepony saying that only those authorized is allowed to know what the organization is. She had also heard through a couple of other contacts, thinking back on it that Rainbow was one of those that the agency didn't trust with knowledge of their existance. Not because Rainbow herself would be a threat, but because she had a habit of gossip which made her unreliable in the art of secrets. when she asked if she had forgotten her passport the last time she was here. It gave her a way out, but she was still going to be at least somewhat honest with Rainbow. "Nah, I didn't forget my past port. I'm a special agent. I'm not at liberty to discuss who it is I work for, but let it be known we have Equestria's best interests in mind on every mission we do," she said trying to sweep the manner away quickly with a look that while friendly, was also adamant that she could not discuss the topic more. Although Rainbow would be a huge asset to the team if she wasn't as open-mouthed... she thought to herself. It did strike her as odd that they branded the element of Loyalty as a pony that couldn't maintain the secret, but it wasn't her place to judge. She was just an agent. She was sure the higher ups knew what they were doing.

 

It was about at this point that the food came out. Almost comically actually with how much food they had ordered. it seemed like every waiter that was there was trying to help bring the dishes out. Granted she only ordered two bowls herself, but looking at the waiter come with rainbows order... it brought a smile to her face. When she asked about a feeling of being watched, she instinctively went on hi alert. Were they being watched? They were two High-Profile Equestrians deep within Neighponese lands. She didn't know why she didn't think of it as soon as she saw Rainbow. Of course they were being watched. "Actually, it's highly likely, thinking about it. You're a wonderbolt, and I'm not exactly low-profile either with my studies and franchise. It wouldn't surprise me if there's somepony here that would want to take advantage of that. I don't see it from the villagers, but maybe a higher up disguised as one, possible gathering intel on why we may be here," she said as the voracious amounts of food was placed in front of them. "Yummy! lets eat!"

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Toboe was already salivating at the mere sight of the food as it arrived. Whatever these two tourists were talking about wasn't her concern, all she cared about was the cuisine delivered. Her keen nose twitched as she picked up the scent of noodles, from the smell it had eggs in it too... that meant protein. In the shadows of leaves in the forests's edge her tongue ran a lap over her lips. The wolf's body tensed up, limbs and back poised ready to pounce. Each second that the server's took to set down each plate was like torture to the hungry yokai, if she wasn't hidden from view one might have seen her trembling with anticipation.

 

The moment those waiters left the table, Toboe Grit her teeth and the moment the words "Let's eat!" were spoke she leapt out from the woods. She was impressively nimble for her size. Wood groaned as the large canine landed upon the table, A wolf about the size of a larger pony growling loudly to try and get the two tourists to back away before she jumped to the other end of the table to seize one of the plates. This one was a bowl of noodles it carried the scent of eggs and peanut sauce. Once Toboe had it she would jump down from the table and loops around the one with rainbow mane and dash back for the forest's edge.

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Special agent? Well, that was a bit of a hard pill to swallow, wasn't it? Rainbow Dash thought Ice was smart and brave enough to be one of course, but she didn't even think Equestria even had secret agents. Or need for them. And if Equestria did have them then how in the hay had they been so taken off guard by...well, it seemed like everything? Rainbow didn't think her friend was lying but...well, she guessed stranger things had happened? Regardless though, wasn't that information supposed to be secret? Rainbow looked around, her eyebrows askew as she took in what Ice was telling her. She scratched the back of her head and looked around nervously. “Uhhh...okay. Well, I didn't think that secret agents were necessarily allowed to say that they are..you know...secret agents?” she asked, her voice tinted with both confusion as well as a little disbelief. Less at the claim and more at the revelation in such a public place.

 

Not that she was gonna think about that for long. Her eyes soon were consumed by the mound of noodles approaching her with all of the fixings on them. Her tail swished about excitedly as she watched it approach. She was devastatingly hungry though that could be said of her for most of the time. All she wanted to do was be the best athlete ever but that came with the side effect of having a great appetite. All that energy had to come from somewhere, right? But just as she was waiting fr that, the her wing feathers stood on edge. The pair had discussed being watched but she felt like they certainly were. These suspicious were confirmed as something came up to them.

 

Rainbow was a Wonderbolt; she moved faster than any Equestrian had any right to. In a lightning of a second she grabbed Ice and the two bowls of food, some of it sloshing up and over on her, and stood several feet away with the speed causing the seats to go flying and then bouncing away. “What. Is. THAT!?”

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"Ahh, but there's the loophole," she said in response to Rainbow saying that secret agents weren't allowed to say that they were secret agents. "You're right. Secret Agents, are usually not allowed to talk about what it is that they do at all in lieu of blowing their cover. I am not here on assignment for any reason at the moment for one, and I'm a Special Agent. Which simply means that I have a highly specialized skill set so I get assigned where that skill set is needed most. The fact that who I work for is highly classified is irrelevant and most ponies don't want to know that we exist anyways. but a bit of evidence to prove you can trust what I'm saying. Me, and my organization, is the primary reason Princess Twilight is still alive. I was the pony that carried her out of the collapsing spire a few years ago at the Crystal Faire. As I said before. Who we are matters not. Just know Equestria has a line of defense other than the Elements of Harmony." she explained

 

Not too long after she finished her explanation though, drama struck. It was now apparent that they were in fact being watched by something. However, it wasn't by some government official like she would have guess. Well, that was actually still entirely likely, but at the moment, that was the least of her concern. Right now, there was a creature, almost resembling a wold that had lunged at bother her and Rainbow Dash. Rainbow's reflexes were quick, and Ice Storm's not incredibly far behind her. Still, the remaining two bowls and herself had been pushed back, with broth slopping on the too of them. Great, that's gonna be in there for a week, she thought to herself. Even as fast as she had gotten, still no match for the fastest mares in Equestria.

 

Ice looked back to the table though and watched the creature for the brief moment it was there. It became immediately apparent though that the creature had no ill desires towards them at all. More over, it immediately went for their food and manages to swipe one of the bowls that  she had ordered and made her way back to the edge for the forest. When she heard Rainbow ask what it was, she pondered for a moment. "I'm not entirely sure, but it looked to have characteristics of a wolf. Something is off about it though, as if it was a wolf, it would have gone after us, not the noodles." She watched it for a moment before looked to rainbow. "Let's follow it. If this thing is after food, then there's more going on here than we can hope to understand from this brief encounter," she suggested before eating her entire bowl of noodles pinkie pie style in one gulp before started heading in the direction that the wolf had went. She had only lost one bowl of soup, and while she was still a bit hungry, if this creature was so desperate to steal food in broad daylight from a crowded cafe, then they definitely needed the bowl of noodles a lot more than she did.

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Ha! Like candy from a baby! Really this couldn't have gone better. As Toboe rushed off into the woods again, she made use of some subtle magic to keep the bowl's contents from sloshing while she ran. Soon enough she slowed her mad sprint into a calm stroll, sure she put enough distance between her victims and herself. The wolf soon came to a stop, nostrils flaring as she inhaled the delicious scent wafting from the bowl: a sweet, savory fragrance filling her nose. Indulging in this scent turned out to be a mistake in the long run... not that she noticed as another grumble came from her stomach.

 

The scent of fresh food had managed to distract her from approaching scents. If she had been paying attention she might have sniffed out the ponies following along behind her. Toboe walked over to a large tree and sit down. A content smile curled the corners of her mouth as she settled in with this still warm dish. Steam raised up out of the dish, which was quickly taken in by her inhalations. Her paws came up and clapped together almost like a prayer before speaking up aloud, "Itadakimasu!" Just like that the wolf eagerly dug in, her muzzle thrust into the bowl as she devoured the meal before her. Bits of the flavorings and seasonings fell to the forest floor, leaving a treat for the ants, yet scaring most of them away as her tail rapidly thumped against the ground in her glee.

 

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Listen, Ice Storm was a swell mare. Rainbow liked her. And maybe some of what she was saying was true, but the more she spoke about the difference between secret agents and special agents and touted herself and the organization, the more it struck Rainbow as odd. She had known mares and stallions who she had later found out were part of secretive parts of REIN or other organizations and they had never been so...forward with the information. Usually they were under some obligation to keep associations and knowledge of their work and deeds secret, both to protect themselves and loved ones as well as prevent information otherwise best kept in the loop outside of it. Maybe Ice Storm didn't buy into it but heck, Rainbow had to keep a lot of information about the Wonderbolts secret and that was a flight demonstration team. If she was part of some sort of super secret organization that protected Equestria and wasn't public knowledge, she would assume rather heartily that it wasn't supposed to be talked about somewhat willy nilly like.

All of this to say Rainbow didn't know what to make of Ice Storm's claims, and responded as they stood there as victims of a drive-by food theft with a simple, “Riiiiggghhht...” which had far more of a confused or quizzical tone than it was dripping with accusatory overtones. She'd have to ask Twi or something when she got back to Equestria. For now though they had a much more important topic at hoof, and that was blatant food thievery by some creature taking a bowl of noodles from them. Ice made a good point. Wolves weren't always going to try and eat ponies or other creatures. If they wanted your food they'd just take that instead. But it took noodles. She wasn't sure if wolves even ate noodles! Maybe the wolves did here? Either way, she didn't like being stolen from. She was paying for the meal and they had worked hard on it. She hated to see it all go to waste because of some thief. Maybe there was more to the story, but they wouldn't know until they found the culprit.

“Sounds good. Let's split up. I'll take the search from the skies, you can handle it from the ground,” Rainbow offered...though it was less of an offer and more of a statement of fact. A moment later she was taking flight, moving quickly and consistently above the tree tops, scanning everywhere swiftly for sign of the missing food or the critter that took it.
 

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Before Ice Storm could even blink Rainbow had taken to her idea of following the creature that had taken their food, and by taken, she meant that she was gone almost faster than she could blink. She didn't seem convinced that she was what she said she was, but that wasn't really a bad thing. After all, she couldn't go into any more details than she already had, and even then what she had was pushing it. She wondered if maybe it was Rainbow's way of trying to push for more information, feigning disbelief while really just trying to figure out more about the situation. It was a tactic that she used herself at times. You'd be surprised how much more information ponies will give you to try to prove to you that they they are who they say, or that they did a certain thing, or didn't do a certain thing. With the right amount of pushing and feigning you could gain a lot out of it. For now though, she was glad the conversation had stopped and moved on, less she could have fallen into her own trap. She would have to be more careful in the future. Perhaps she had let her guard down too much. No more. Ice was now focused entirely on the situation at hoof, and this creature and what ever is troubling it to lead it down the path that it is on, was her top priority.

 

Instead of looking to the skies, Ice looked down to the ground. The noodles that had taken were soupy, and the wolf left in a rush. That mean that the bowl would be sloshing around and splashing some of the broth on the ground. Plus the creature was a wolf-like in nature. That meant that the track marks that were left behind from it would not only be accompanied with the broth, but would also be quite distinguishable as well. This was going to make it a lot easier for her to be able to track the creature on the ground. She was immediately able to pick up on them and she followed the tracks out of the cafe and to the tree line. From here it was going to get tricky, but there would still be clues as to what directions that the wolf had went. She looked for any vegetation that had been disturbed recently, paying attention to any that might appear to have been disturbed in haste. She was much better and navigating a tundra than a forest, but she understood the basics.

 

Ice looked around on the outside of the treeline looking for any signs that this could be a sacred or restricted forest. Not seeing any she ventured in. She didn't know what to expect inside of it, but she figured that if she treated it like it was as dangerous as the Everfree Forest back in Equestria, then she should be okay. The basic principle was if it looked dangerous, it probably was. if it looked way too safe, it was likely a trap. As she too a few more steps in, she could hear a rapid thumping in the distance. With extreme caution, and a watchful eye on every step to avoid vegetation, Ice approached the direction of the sound, making every effort to remain unheard. She couldn't really see through the canopy to much, but there was sunlight coming through. She figured that Rainbow would be able to see her if she flew at the right angle, plus she had magic. If there were to be a struggle, Ice could easily shoot a flare of ice into the sky. With a few more steps, she could see the creature from before, making sure to remain as hidden as she could with her blue coat.

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