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The Company Party (Chapien, SteelEagle and Phil the Time Wizard)


RarityDash
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Snowfall glanced around somewhat anxiously. This was it, the moment she had long been fearing and anticipating. Since meeting her fillyfriend Pathfinder, she hadn't really had a chance yet to really present her. Their first date happened in the seclusion of Bareback Gulch, where Snowfall was unknown. Their second date, Daringcon, happened in a very busy location full of many ponies who might have had connections, but Snowfall had been in costume, her coat completely painted up and a fake unicorn horn on her head to make her look like a Daring Do character. Now it was time for the third, and here they were in Snowfall's own Stalliongrad.

The occasion was an NSI company party. This wasn't like the elaborate anniversary banquet she had held not too many months ago that had lead to her finding her contacts for the Trans Equestria Railroad Project, it was a more insular and private occasion held to celebrate team solidarity or some such thing that the board had decided upon and that she was pretty sure most there would roll their eyes at. Everyone there was either employed by the company, or there as a guest of somepony who was. Relatively formal dress was expected, but Snowfall was making an effort to keep it from being too stuffy an occasion. There was nothing worse than some mandatory party being forced upon the employees that it was impossible to have fun at. The music was kept light and modern; the food kept equally light and plentiful. They had drinks, but nothing too aggressively strong. The decorations to the hall being used were colorful but not garish. Everything was very safe, and in Snowfall's opinion perhaps a little too so.

This was a good chance to debut with Pathfinder besides her though. It was just her company, so for fear of their job no pony there was going to say anything about her rather unorthodox choice of date. It was formal by Pathfinder's standards, but it wasn't so classy and stuck up itself that she would catch the judging eyes of a bevy of upper crust types just for being Pathfinder. It was small, it was safe, and it was a perfect opportunity; after all, she had no intention of hiding Pathfinder from anypony. She was also rather eager to see the pony in something other than her typical Daring Do costume. She was already picturing it in her head.

Unfortunately, Snow and her date were not able to show up to the event together. Pathfinder had been doing what she did best, adventuring, but Snow had given her the time and address and in her letter Pathfinder had promised she would make it in time. Snowfall just knew that she would make good on that promise too, even if she turned up just slightly late. This was fine. it gave her time to mingle with the rest of her loyal employees.

Set to do just that, Snow's eyes focused in on a single young face. Sparks was his name, and he was a bright young colt. It was hard not to feel good about his case. She had handed him a shining opportunity after stumbling upon him by chance. After training he had spent a little over a month and a half in Manehattan, and according to her top engineer, Vivid Flair, he had been a sterling asset to the team as they worked on the Railroad Project. He had only just got back to Stalliongrad and this was the first time Snow had seen him since. Greetings were definitely in order.

"Hello, Sparks," she said as she approached him. "It's great to see you've returned safely. How was Manehattan?"

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When Sparks had first received his invitation to the party, he had his doubts. He had never been an exactly social pony, and he still had very few friends within the company. He felt dressed out of place, wearing his work uniform (although it was probably the nicest thing he owned), and quickly slunk into the background of the party, hoping not to be too noticeable in his clearly unfamiliar environment. He found himself lurking near the food bar, enjoying the free food and drink (although nothing alcoholic, for obvious reasons). When someone finally approached him and asked for him by name, he couldn't help but feel a little nervous, doubly so when he realized who it was.

"Oh! Hello, Miss Snowfall," he began, clearly trying his hardest to sound polite and overly-formal, "it is good to see you again! Manehatten was nice. It was rather large and crowded, but I learned a lot. Although, I must admit, it is very good to be back home in Stalliongrad."

Sparks smiled politely, although how out of place he felt at the party was extremely obvious.

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Pathfinder was a very frustrated and nervous mare. Out of here element which by itself would be a pleasant experience for an adventuring mare had it been a ruin or cave and her dress not forced to change by her surroundings to something ill suiting. She could hardly handle going without her hat, let alone the whole wardrobe. But for Snowfall, she'd make an exception once or twice. It may have been a bit wiser to parlay those exceptions into more valuable territory, but Pathfinder was not about to look a giftpony in the mouth. Besides, she owed Snowfall for the silliness at Daringcon, or so it seemed. If anything Pathfidner though Snowfall owed Pathfinder for introducing her to teh glory that was Daring Do, but there was little accounting for taste at times.

So she had agreed to placate Snowy's desires and attend some formal gathering of the NSI in Stalliongrad. Fortunate timing, since it was getting warmer and the hidden treasures of the tundra were about to reveal themselves. While it wasn't an area rich in glorious bounty for a mare of her flavor, hidden treasures were sometimes worth the trip itself. Besides, it had been a few weeks since she had seen her marefriend's snout and it was making her all sorts of antsy. On the whole, coming there had been a no-brainer. No, that wasn't the problem.

The problem was any manner of formal dress. How she loathed the very idea. First and foremost, she had to ditch her normal adventure ware, which not only unnerved her tremendously, but allowed her to see just how unseemly she was underneath the clothing. It had taken many letters, some of them almost bickering in nature, before Pathfinder had agreed to wear something perhaps more appropriate for the audience she found herself a part of. Of course, Snowfall had paid for the outfit so she found herself at an increasing disadvantage.

So there she was, washed in a nearby river and dressed to the hilt in a simple newborn foal blue dress with pink, winged dress shoes. Pink dress shoes. Life was awful sometimes. She had flown to the party and been checked in, her nervousness increasing as it became apparent she wouldn't be able to do any adventuring nor prevent herself from feeling...well, just how life was, awful. She thought she looked ugly and as she made her way into the party, not nearly as comfortable in such social situations as those around her. Within moments of entering, she found herself hugging the corner and nervously placing a hoof on an opposite shoulder. Her eyes sunk in and she gazed around, not taking it in as individuals but rather as a whole. Where was Snowfall?

"Sweet Celestia, I need my hat..." She mumbled pathetically to herself, taking a look around for her date and wondering if at the very least some cult would try to kidnap somepony. That would provide some entertainment. She didn't have her hat, however, so she'd be of little help

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Snowfall shook her head at the very apparent awkwardness in the colt's response. It was noticeably forced; a far cry from the strong and assured pony she had first met. "No need for nervousness, Sparks," she assured in a low voice. In her eyes, she had far greater cause for nerves. "Relax. Try and enjoy yourself."

Giving a warm chuckle she then nodded. "But it's good to hear Manehattan went well for you. I've always admired the town. If you stay with NSI long term, you'll end up working either there or here in Stalliongrad... Unless I get bold and decided to open a third lab that is."

It was about then that out of the corner of her eyes, Snowfall saw her. She was hugging the wall and looking more completely out of place than Sparks. This wasn't really a surprise; this was definitely a pony more accustomed to the rugged wilderness than some Stalliongrad banquet hall. What was a surprise was how very cute she looked. Snowfall had ordered this blue dress in Pathfinder's size from a talented Ponyville dressmaker, and in her opinion it really suited the pegasus. The shoes she had forced upon her date on the other hand, were maybe in retrospect an act of cruelty. Something about Pathfinder in pink dress shoes was a little much. Still, the overall impression was nice.

"Excuse me for a second, Sparks," she said with a laugh. "It appears that my date has arrived. Wait here, I'll introduce you!"

With that, Snowfall strode toward the other pegasus. For a moment she became conscious of herself, wondering if the simple and sleek, dark violet dress she had chosen for the occasion suited her well. She became a little anxious. She hadn't seen Pathfinder since Daringcon and here she was forcing her so far out of her element. She hoped Pathfinder was happy to see her despite it all. Nodding, she took the final few steps toward the pegasus.

"Pathfinder!" she called. "You made it! It's been far too long." The pegasus smiled sweetly and nodded. "As different from your usual charming attire as it may be, I'd say you look lovely tonight."

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Sparks nodded, not really listening to what Snowfall was saying. He was still extremely nervous; although he had worked at NSI for a few months already, he still hardly knew anypony and felt very much like the new pony. Snowfall said something about introducing him to someone, and he nodded slightly. The moment she turned her back, Sparks immediately turned around and began to consume more of the free food and drink. He wasn't really hungry, but it certainly helped calm his nerves. It wasn't until moments later that Sparks processed what exactly his boss said.

"Date...?" he questioned to himself, a small cupcake in his half-eaten in his hoof.

He turned back around, looking back at Snowfall, who was now talking to another mare. He finished eating the cupcake and sat down on a near by chair, taking a deep breath. "Huh. Right then. Another important pony to impress..."

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Pathfinder was overjoyed to see Snowfall in all of her casual elegance for a great number of reasons. The first off was she was happy to know somepony in such a social situation as it directed the fluttering of her heart away from this uncommon feeling of nervousness that played tiddly winks with her nerves. Secondly, she looked stunning. This was perhaps the most obvious statement of all, since she had no doubt Snowfall could look gorgeous covered in mud and not having had a shower in a week. One day that would be put to the test and the results would be glorious no matter. Oh yeah, and she loved Snowy.

Pathfinder reacted to the embrace the only way she knew how, with a stark and impolite kiss on the mouth that ended with a loud smack. Light flashed in her eyes as her smile shot to all corners, receiving Snowfall's compliment with all of the grace she could muster. That would be none.

"Awww why thank you Snowy Snow! You did pick it out. Can't say I'm very comfortable in this, but I wore it just like you asked!" She reminded Snowfall with a casual extension of her hoof, the dress and shoe playing well with the sheer leggings. It was as formal as Pathfinder could get without going insane. Sacrifices one made for love. Luckily, she had something to stare at. Pathfinder was sure Snowfall had a whole legion of similar outfits, but had nor made a poor decision this day. It was flattering and wonderful.

"But look at you! You look so beautiful in that dress! I mean, you look beautiful no matter what but wow!" She eloquently blathered as she rubbed her face against one of Snowfall's forelegs, feeling the fabric against her. It was deliciously soft and had the touch of angels about it. In other words, nice to feel but Pathfinder was glad she wasn't tied into it. She pulled back after a few seconds and sighed. Pathfinder wasted not a single breath more as she wrapped her hooves around Snowfall and squeezed in a vice-like hug.

"I'M SO HAPPY TO SEE YOU!"

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"Awww why thank you Snowy Snow! You did pick it out. Can't say I'm very comfortable in this, but I wore it just like you asked!"

Snowfall wasn't surprised as to how things unfolded. She had known these words and the healthy kiss and embrace that came with them were coming, even if nopony else in the general area could. Sure they were stares of surprise from all sorts, but that was to be expected too. With her wealth and influence, tabloid rumors in regards to her love life did happen on occasion, but it wasn't something many were privy to. These were her employees too and with that distinction, they often viewed her as somepony rather unapproachable.

"But look at you! You look so beautiful in that dress! I mean, you look beautiful no matter what but wow! I'M SO HAPPY TO SEE YOU!"

And Pathfinder's lack of restraint somehow only got increasingly less restrained and more lacking. Her voice got louder, her actions more flagrant. She didn't care, she was enjoying it. Even if by now some of the onlookers were probably staring at them with open jaws, wondering just how this had happened, how a pegasus so... spirited... had gotten Snowfall's attention. The thought actually kind of amused her. She was eager to see how her employees would treat a pony like Pathfinder after seeing all of this.

"Yes. It's been too long," Snow said fondly, nuzzling the other pony. "Just the letters will never be enough." She smiled and worked her way gradually out of the far too tight hug. "And thank you. This dress is by a local Stalliongrad designer. It's one of my favorites. Not too showy, but with plenty of class."

"I'm glad you could make it. I hope you aren't too miserable here tonight," she said with a laugh. "There's food and--" Snowfall cut herself off as she looked back toward the table with the food. That's right, she had been talking to Sparks. She had walked away from him rather brusquely too; it hardly felt right, especially when he was somepony here she had a personal connection to, having hired him directly. Not to mention, he was still new to the company and clearly felt a little out of place at the party.

"Ah, this way for a second, Pathfinder. I'd like you to meet my an employee of mine; I believe I mentioned him in a letter? He's the promising young worker who I stumbled upon entirely by chance one night in Rasya while you were off in Aquelia making me miserable with worry," Snow said as she moved toward the colt.

"Sparks, this is my date, Pathfinder," she said as she reached him. "Pathfinder, Sparks," she added, nodding back toward her date.

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Sparks stood up from the chair as he saw Snowfall and her date approach, forcing a nervous smile onto his face. Quick you dunce, think of something clever to say! "Oh, uh, hello." I can do better than that...

He blinked and said, "It's a pleasure to meet you, Miss Pathfinder. Nice dress."

Upon saying that his smile twitched away for just a slight second, before returning. He felt like an immense idiot, particularly over what he had just said. He was clearly failing to impress either his boss or his boss's marefriend, and he was severely beginning to question himself even coming to the party, the thought that he should have simply not come crossing his mind for the fifteenth time that evening. He extended his hoof for a hoofshake to Pathfinder, hoping that his current state of mind was not particularly obvious or noticeable.

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Pathfinder had a sincere love of seeing Snowfall all pretty-like. Of course this likely had as much to do with Snowfall being naturally beautiful mare, but when she went that extra mile, so did Pathfinder's eyes. Stalliongrad may not have been known as a fashion hotspot and Pathfinder wouldn't have known even if it was, but as a judge of many great and wonderful things, she knew something great and wonderful was happening here in Stalliongrad if they could produce both a mare of such taste and clothes of such wonder to toss on her. And she seemed so flippant about them, a sure sign that in her closet were designs of even more grandeur. Pathfinder didn't care for fashion, she cared for the things in life most awesome. And Snowfall in a beautiful dress was awesome.

She wondered if her employees had any knowledge of this romantic entanglement between the CEO of one of Equestria's most important corporations and a gruff and excitable fanfilly adventurer who spent more night sleeping on the ground than in any other way. The sheer scandal of it all would have played wonderfully into any number of Daring Do novels where she entertained the whims of Equestrian high society and dabbled in their internal politics unwillingly to find some closely guarded treasure. Pathfinder doubted that Snowfall was about to reveal that she was a villain or unleash some sort of mind control spell- that would be especially difficult being a pegasus and all- but if she did, Pathfinder was prepared with extensive knowledge of the Doverse.

Snowfall was then stopped midsentence as her attention was grabbed by something particularly fascinating some ways away. After a few seconds, Pathfinder found herself taken for a ride towards the target, a small colt. As they drew near, Pathfinder picked up on some subtle details. He seemed so unsure of himself, meaning he wasn't some snobby high society pony. That meant he was somepony that Snowfall had met through...employment, maybe? Names flooded back to her through their many letters just as Snowfall told her.

An immediate smile, though it had slightly less to do with the adorable colt and more to do with being correct.

"Awwww he's a little cutie! I remember him, you told me in that letter with the griffin, too. You didn't tell me how adorable he was!" Pathfinder said with great excitement, her dear love for fillies, colts, and foals almost overpowering. She proceeded to smash his cheeks together.

"Awww look at his wittle cheeks! My name's Pathfinder, its so nice to meet you! AWW! I want one!

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Sparks blushed heavily, looking away slightly. I'm not -that- young... I'm nearly a stallion!

"U-um, th-thank you, Miss Pathfinder. I'm Gears Clockwise, but, uh, please, call me Sparks. I'm an intern f-for Miss Snowfall's company... I'm an engineer."

He smiled again and looked slightly to the side, at the food table, where a small boxed contraption of his own creation sat on the corner (having set it down when Snowfall had approached him), before looking back at Pathfinder, regaining a bit of his usual, youthful confidence.

"A pretty darn good one, if I do say so myself!"

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Snowfall had to sigh audibly. She had expected a lot from Pathfinder, but to treat her young intern like a much younger colt was not quite what she had anticipated. She hadn't been aware her fillyfriend was such a fan of younger ponies. She supposed it made sense; she herself was nothing if not young at heart, and had the energy and enthusiasm of a young filly. Sparks on the other hand struck her as being nothing but mature for his age; of course what choice does one have when a youth is forced to suffer the harsh streets of Stalliongrad all alone for an extended period with nopony to continually rely on but himself.

As she watched the events unfold, she only hoped her intern's reaction to the other mare's behavior would not be too harsh, even if Pathfinder maybe kind of deserved it here. When Sparks responded with courtesy as well as some clear embarrassment or apprehension, Snowfall was still grateful. She smirked and nodded before deciding to chime in.

"Umm, yes. Sparks here is a promising prospect for the company. With his knowledge of clockwork mechanics and his creative energy, I imagine he will quick become an asset," Snowfall said, at least trying to pretend such words would be an interest to Pathfinder, but finding even that hard. She saw then that the colt was looking at some kind of box shaped thing. She had no clue what it was, but Pathfinder was more likely to be amused by something she could observe than by words alone. She nodded toward the intern.

"What is that you have there, Sparks?" she asked, curious. "Something to demonstrate for us, perhaps?"

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There was a common misconception that was tossed endlessly at adventurers. Come to think of it, not adventurers as a whole, just Pathfinder and even then only by those who knew her 'well'. Even then she knew they were wrong, as most ponies were almost always wrong when they tried to decipher the amazingly complex mind of Pathfinder. That misconception was that they were, by rule, not very good with other ponies or socially unfit. Such blatant lies! She was great with other ponies. She had loads of friends who sometimes returned her letters and greetings and personally knew the lawyers of the author of the Daring Do series! Here she was with her wonderful fillyfriend and there was a darling colt in front of her. She loved colts and fillies! So playful and happy-go lucky, full of energy and joy and games to play and only a few of them were mean to her and more than anything that was a point in all of their favors. So anypony that said Pathfinder or adventurers were social misfits were either liars or the dimmest of bulbs.

Still, even she knew when she perhaps had gone a tad too far in her excitement and deep affection for the younger folk, and this was perhaps one of those times. Sparky seemed a bit put off and Snowy's hesitation told the same tale. Pathfinder pulled back a little and allowed herself a momentary sign of weakness, a hoof rubbing the back of her neck sheepishly as a grin of the same flavor crested her face. She'd pull back and let him act like a big pony, even if his adorable cheeks still needed to squished together a few more times. He reminded her of this one colt from the orphanage who went on to become the very best chimney sweeper Cloudsdale correctional ever had. Dream big!

Her eyes followed the two and she saw the device. Snowy mentioned he was an intelligent engineer and she accepted this straight away as fact, and behold, something to stand as a testament to his work was apparently not far away. They pointed to a box on a table and Pathfinder's mind raced with the fantastical possibilities. Just as quickly as images of ancient knowledge flashed into her head they vanished as she realized this was the work of a colt and likely not some sort of epic family heirloom. Still, she was nothing if not fascinated by shiny things.

"Ooooh! Show me, Sparky!" She bellowed out and trotted over to the package, poking it repeatedly. Sadly, it did not seem to explode.

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Sparks immediately brightened up at the mention of his device, all nervousness washed away from his face in an instant. He picked it up quickly using his horn, and cleared his throat. "This is the PB-5000, or in laypony's terms, a Puzzle Box! It's something I've been working on in my free time. It isn't really useful per say, but it's definitely a lot of fun. I made it to practice and keep my skills sharp. Basically, you're supposed to disassemble it, and if done correctly, you should be able to reassemble it. It requires a bit of skill to pull off, but it is fantastic engineering practice- a good way to stay on top of your abilities!"

He smiled widely, talking quickly while looking at his device, an immense look of pride in his eyes.

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Snowfall stepped toward the box as Sparks showed it off. Puzzle Box? How interesting. She stared at the device inquisitively, trying to figure it out. The tricks of the puzzle seemed to intricate to work out on sight alone however.

"Oh? A puzzle you say?" she started, head tilted as she looked at it. "How wonderfully whimsical."

She gave a small laugh. "NSI has never been in the business of toys or games... but if there's a profit to be made nothing is off the table I always say..."

She glanced toward Pathfinder, wondering what she'd think. Considering how Daring Do books almost inevitably seemed to include at least some sort of puzzle sequence the heroine has to overcome, she probably had some appreciation for them. Back on their first date at that obstacle course, they had solved the rather simple puzzle toward the end together, and that had been kind of fun. Perhaps this little box would provide a nice distraction for them both.

"We'd love to see how it works, right, Pathfinder?" Snowfall started, looking toward her date.

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Ponies had a way of saying so many more words than necessary and it seemed the darling little colt was just like the rest. He should have just said puzzle box and presented it like he was unveiling a circus act or Hearths Warming Eve gift. For the fact of the matter was that in the few seconds that followed, Pathfinder heard nothing as her eyes seemingly rolled into the back of her head in extreme excitement. Puzzles were a valued part of any decent Daring Do work, from their intricacies in one of them to their vast importance to some ancient culture. It was likely that his little puzzle lacked both things, but it still set her heart aflutter.

"YAY!" She bellowed out, attracting some unwanted attention as she gaily galloped towards the device. As with any reasonable device, she smelled it. It most likely was new and not-

Pathfinder pulled back, an embarrassed smile as the color drained from her face. She was supposed to be an upper class pony for an evening and she doubted that they spent much time smelling puzzles. She coughed and put her back straight, nodding towards Snowfall.

"Why, uhh, why yes! I would like to see how this contraption works. Indobededly!" She said, her accent gaining an upper crust flair as the sheer amount of snobbery inherent to the character have her something of a vast overbite.

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Spark couldn't help but giggle very slightly at Pathfinder's behavior, but he quickly cleared his throat and regained his composure. "Right. It's very simple."

He picked up a screwdriver out of his toolbelt, which he had worn to the party despite being told repeatedly that it was unnecessary, and unscrewed a small screw on the top. A small panel on the device popped open, revealing the inner intricities of the device.

"Essentially, it is a basic dissassembly, only without many tools required beyond a screwdriver. You have to figure out which screws to remove and in what order to remove said screws. If you remove the wrong panels or screws, you'll find yourself stuck, unable to advance in the puzzle. To the common onlooker, the puzzle seems impossible or arbitrary, but to a trained mechanic such as myself, one has to simply follow the various cogs and wiring, as well as notice the very specific way the panels are connected, and to disassemble it."

He turned the device around, revealing a stopwatch that was running. "In addition, the moment the first panel is removed, a timer starts in order to time how quickly you can complete the puzzle."

Sparks beamed widely. "My fastest time was two minutes and five seconds!"

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"Interesting," Snowfall said as she listened and observed. NSI produced a lot of products, and often when something new was made she'd be given a demo by somepony on the engineering team. Sparks was just an intern, so he of course hadn't had that pleasure yet, but the feeling of this now was still kind of similar to her. She stared at the device, not wondering how to solve the puzzle but more wondering about the logistics of putting such a thing on market.

"I like it," she said, nodding. "But the common pony looking to amuse or challenge herself isn't going to want to deal with screws and screwdrivers and actual tools. To be practical, it would have to come apart more easily than that..."

"Then again, it is mostly the engineers and technically savvy ponies who deal with our company... so maybe, it would work as is..." Snow said with a small nod. "I can kind of see this in the back pages of our catalog as a novelty item for bored engineers and builders to buy from us with the usual parts as something to keep their hooves busy. I'd have to run tests for potential markets."

"What do you think of it, Pathfinder?" Snow asked, turning to the other mare. She stared at her a moment, her previous statement finally registering. "Indobededly"? Why was Pathfinder trying (and failing) to use such a big word? After acting with absolutely zero restraint previously, did she now intend to actually try to act like she belonged here? If so, Snowfall was kind of curious to see how that would go. How long could a pony like Pathfinder really hold that sort of act up?

She grinned and gave a laugh. "Perhaps you'd like to try and figure it out?"

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Both Gears and Snowfall could be awfully verbose when the answers to questions were usually so simple. Sometimes Pathfinder thought someponies needed to talk to convince themselves of something. Pathfinder didn't need to do that; she knew what the score was at all times and attacked so-called problems with gusto. The same situation presented itself here. There was a puzzle. There was a pattern to the puzzle. Soling it required a screwdriver. She had taken one sentence what took the two of them, well, much more to say. Maybe she was oversimplyfing it but if she had learned anything in life, it was that it was much better to oversimplyfy than overcomplicate. Both Gears and Snowfall were awfully verbose ponies who liked to overcomplicate matters. She still liked them though.

Pathfinder was also excellent at studying the looks she got from other ponies. Well, that was a lie. She was no better than most when it came to most But she did know Snowfall and her looks and the one she shot Pathfinder made the adventurer blush. Maybe Pathfinder had overplayed her fancy schmancy stereotype but it had seemed like the appropriate action at the time. She pulled down from her straight-backed position and she resumed her less formal yet more comfortable, "Crouching Pony, Hidden Pegasus" position as she inspected the puzzle fervently. Did she want to try it? Yes. Did she want to solve it? Yes. Would she find a way to cheat? Most definitely. But for now, it would have to wait. She may not have been comfortable in a social setting but she also knew when it was appropriate and when it was not appropriate to bust out adventuring gear to blow open a puzzle. That might not be allowed.

"YES! Err...I mean, yes, of course I would like to try and solve this super awesome and completely original puzzle using all sorts of explos- err, a screwdriver," Pathfinder said, petting the box as if it were a pet. A few moments of that passed in silence before she realized she was petting a box. Pathfinder turned to Snowy and gave a weak laugh.

"But, uhh, I guess I shouldn't do that right in the middle of this, uhh, wonderful party! What are the events? Is there gonna be a dance or games or what?" She asked with all the excitement of a filly and the attitude to match

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((OOC: Chap wanted me to go first, so post. :)))

"YES! Err...I mean, yes, of course I would like to try and solve this super awesome and completely original puzzle using all sorts of explos- err, a screwdriver."

Snowfall had to laugh at her date's word. She was clearly going to say explosives. Pathfinder liked puzzles, but evidently she liked "practical" solutions more. Well, Snowfall couldn't fault that sort of thinking. Delicate intricacy was important in some situation, but sometimes raw bombast was the way to go. In the world of business, some deals just didn't get made unless you approached them forwardly and aggressively. Though she had to admit that in Pathfinder's profession, when dealing with ancient and often fragile relics, maybe turning first to explosives wasn't entirely wise.

"But, uhh, I guess I shouldn't do that right in the middle of this, uhh, wonderful party! What are the events? Is there gonna be a dance or games or what?"

The snow white pegasus gave a soft laugh. "This really isn't the sort of party one comes to for games," she said, smiling. Snowfall liked playing games herself, but she was pretty sure that her employees would find it rather absurd if the itinerary for the company party included pin the tail on the pony.

"But if you're somehow compelled by the music, just ask. I'd be delighted to join you for a dance," Snow said with a soft smile. Dancing with Pathfinder would be nice, but this seemed somehow unlikely. The DJ for the evening had at his disposal a rather listless set of soft ballads. Snowfall wasn't entirely pleased with this; she would have preferred something with more of a pulse. Apparently middle of road and lifeless was the "safe" way to go according to the board and her event organizers. She could admit that it was at the very least better than the classical sets they used to go with that made the atmosphere just stuffy and formal. Snowfall laughed.

"As for events, I think we're doing a raffle for prizes later... and well..." Snowfall looked around for a moment. "You can enjoy this fine assortment of snacks and refreshments, as well as all the riveting conversation..." she said motioning toward the buffet they had set up nearby, which, while probably the most interesting thing in the room, mostly consisted of rather bland, common fare. It was just safe. As for the conversation, it amounted toward a dull murmur.

Snowfall gave a sigh, realizing that for all intents and purposes her party kinda sucked. She looked back toward Sparks, despnate to save some face. "So, um... Sparks. Maybe you could tell us more about your box there, or show us how it works?"

"Or maybe you could tell us about your time in Manehattan, or anything else interesting that might have happened in your travels..." she added, searching for at least something to provide some spark of interest.

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Sparks couldn't help but grin. It wasn't often that people really cared about his accomplishments, so the sheer amount of attention he was getting from Snowfall and her marefriend honestly excited him.

"Well, I believe I have spoken on just about everything I can in relating to my little box here..." he glanced at the box, still in Pathfinder's hooves, a somewhat worried look on his face, hoping that Pathfinder didn't drop it - or worse.

"But my trip home was... most intriguing! I took an airship. The sensation of flying was very interesting to a Unicorn like me."

He grinned widely. "But not as interesting as the sensation of falling, of course. The ship had a bit of an, uh, accident you could say. Suffice to say, I believe my journey here was far more interesting than this party here."

He chuckled slightly, before realizing exactly what he had just said. Had he really just implied that Snowfall's party was boring? He choked on his own laugh, before coughing, beginning to laugh nervously, a very slight nervous blush on his face.

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Poor Snowfall and her her rising tension as she described her boring old business party. Pathfinder understood the needs of the lame to have lame parties to soothe their fears of excitement, and she could also see how this overwhelming, unstoppable lameness was something Snowfall had no power over. What sort of excitement had been denied her so that she was forced to accept this status quo? Still, just as a priceless relic could be salvaged from the depths of a cave long ago abandoned, so could this party from its resting place atop the altar of boredom. It just required a little push. Failing that she could always just curl on top of Snowfall like a cat and just take a nap until the whole affair passed. That was a solid backup plan.

Of course, Snowfall wasn't about to be rude to one of her employees and shove the adorable little colt who had never experienced a day of terror in his cushy, beautiful, adorable life away when he seemed so out of sort as well. She gave him an opening to perhaps interest them more in the device, which was wholly impossible: Unless it had come from a ruin, nothing could interest Pathfinder more. Well, nothing more than Snowfall dancing but that was an entirely lopsided contest. Look at him light up with excitement! So cute. She wanted to squeeze his little cheeks together again, maybe five more times. She couldn't do such a thing however as her hooves were all over his precious little puzzle. Seeing him briefly eye it, she decided that spinning it like a top was the best decision- it would surely entertain him. She did just that, increasing the speed as she went along. Such fun!

Then he mentioned that he had been in an airship crash and her heart shattered into a dozen or so pieces before reforming as a stream of pity. She dropped the puzzle and lunged towards him, her tail catching the unique puzzle just before it hit the ground. Not a millisecond later, she clutched him tight in a hug.

"AAWWW! Poor little guy had such a baddy waddy day. At least you got out all right, but GASP! The horror! The sadness if such a young little colt's time was cut so tragically short without experiencing life!" She nearly fainted at the thought, dramatically rising as she spoke before placing a hoof on her forehead and falling over. For no discernible;e reason she then appeared on Sparky's other side, placing one leg over him and clutching him tight. She then shook him.

"Egads, look at the poor dear! He looks so nervous! Blushing! Poor guy, he never got to live before almost being eaten BY THE TITAN OF FATE!" She roared dramatically, attracting far too much attention. It didn't matter. She sidled up to Snowfall and stared at her, pleading and sad eye to eye, with no space separating them.

"We need to show this little feller how to live! I'll take you up on that dance offer but by Celestia, he has to dance with us!"

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"Well, I believe I have spoken on just about everything I can in relating to my little box here... But my trip home was... most intriguing! I took an airship. The sensation of flying was very interesting to a Unicorn like me. But not as interesting as the sensation of falling, of course. The ship had a bit of an, uh, accident you could say. Suffice to say, I believe my journey here was far more interesting than this party here."

Snowfall's eyes went wide. She had heard about this incident. An airship crash of this scope, this close to Stalliongrad was quite a big deal. It had been in all the newspapers. Furthermore, it was a bit of an extra headache considering the airship was outfitted primarily with NSI parts. It was the worst sort of publicity, and it was hard to explain that the fault lied in unreported severe storm conditions in the path of the flight. No, the public was infinitely more ready to side with the weather pegasi than they were a company like hers. This crash was a damaging thing, and though no pony was killed, thankfully, it would definitely be a set back for air travel as a viable form of transportation.

Snow knew all about this crash, but still she was surprised. She hadn't heard Sparks was a part of this. It was something of a shock really. Nopony had told her, and she hadn't even considered the possibility of that. It made the matter even more grave to her. She was suddenly even more thankful that the incident hadn't turned out worse. Still, this had to be a delicate matter for Sparks, so it was best to tread delicately and choose her words carefully. She didn't want to say anything foolish here...

"AAWWW! Poor little guy had such a baddy waddy day. At least you got out all right, but GASP! The horror! The sadness if such a young little colt's time was cut so tragically short without experiencing life! Egads, look at the poor dear! He looks so nervous! Blushing! Poor guy, he never got to live before almost being eaten BY THE TITAN OF FATE!"

No, Snowfall had Pathfinder to do that for her. She had no choice but to laugh as she shook her head. Pathfinder could really be a silly pony. Her genuineness was perhaps her greatest draw, but it also meant she had no refinement and practically no filter on what she said or did. She was certainly an eccentric mind. She felt kind of bad for Sparks though. This condescending, brunt, overblown silliness probably wasn't what he wanted to hear. Though who knows, maybe he's find it charming somehow.

"We need to show this little feller how to live! I'll take you up on that dance offer but by Celestia, he has to dance with us!"

Speaking of charming, Pathfinder's dramatics left her face to face, eye to eye, with Snowfall, hardly an inch separating them. Snowfall liked Pathfinder's eyes. They held an intensity in their light purple depths that was irresistible. With Pathfinder that close and that cute it wasn't a hard decision for Snowfall to close the rest of the small gap and place a lingering gentle kiss on her lips before stepping back and laughing, a smile on her face.

"That sounds lovely, my dear, but I'm not quite sure how three ponies would dance together," Snowfall said, still laughing. "Well, at least not at the same time, I suppose..."

She looked back toward Sparks. "I'm sorry to hear you were involved in that unfortunate incident, Sparks. I am happy that you managed to come away from it unharmed," she said with a smile before turning back to the mare.

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Sparks couldn't help but flinch as Pathfinder violated his personal space. He never had been a very touch-friendly, and Pathfinder couldn't seem to stop laying her hooves on him. He couldn't help but flinch and tremble very slightly when she grabbed and sub-sequentially shook him. When Pathfinder moved up to Snowfall, he took the opportunity to slip away from her grasp, heading back to the refreshments table, blindly grabbing a drink with his horn and taking a sip, unwittingly having just drunk a very small amount of the alcoholic variety of Cider. His face contorted a bit and he gagged, quickly spitting the drink back into the glass before dropping it, the glass shattering onto the ground.

When Snowfall turned back to him, he jumped a little, before taking a quick breath and despnately trying (and failing) to regain his composure. "Oh, n-no need to be sorry, Miss Snowfall! R-really, don't worry about me. After all, I'm eternally in gratitude towards you due to how you helped me in my... prior situation."

He smiled weakly, hoping that Snowfall hadn't noticed the rather embarrassing situation with the drink.

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Pathfinder didn't even blush this time when Snowfall laid a cold one on her cheek. It was to be expected. They were both silly, kissy ponies who did a bunch of silly kissing things. She did back away by a few inches if only so she could look at Snowfall';s face in all of its precise perfection from a more reasonable view. Yep, still gorgeous, no change there. Pathfinder returned the kiss with a loud smacker right on the forehead, leaving a somewhat red mark and an echo across the room. They were both silly kissy ponies and she wasn't about to get out-silly kissed. She then looked back just in time to see Sparks take a drink, though her mind was moving at too fast a clip to process his disgust.

Poor little guy had such a horrifying ordeal that he was being driven to drink. He needed a shot of life like she needed a shot of that very same drink- badly. She had her fair share of experiences, most of them shades of terrible, but she at least had sought them out and agreed to let such chance dictate her fate. He had not. He was but a colt on an airship seeking an excellently fun time and instead found danger and despair in the air. So sad and to see him react in such a way was beyond troubling. He needed a shot of life, stat.

"He can dance with us like THIS!" Pathfinder shot out before leaping over to a table. It had a nice, soft cloth underneath that she quickly and shockingly enough cleanly pulled out, the assorted snacks and fine china standing still in place. She then ran over to Sparks and tied one of his hooves to hers. It was an idea that was perhaps never good but seemed to work better in her head.

"He can dance WITH us and LEARN HOW TO DANCE COOL AT THE SAME TIME! MUSCLE MEMORY!" She turned to Sparks and whispered. "Do you have muscles?"

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"Oh, n-no need to be sorry, Miss Snowfall! R-really, don't worry about me. After all, I'm eternally in gratitude towards you due to how you helped me in my... prior situation."

Snowfall giggled at how the colt responded to the situation. He was rightly flustered by Pathfinder's bizarre behavior; going for a drink and even breaking a glass in the process. Show liked Sparks; he was so youthful and earnest, yet quite mature for his age at the same time. Watching Pathfinder get so thoroughly under his skin just made her smile. She just nodded

"It was all my pleasure, Sparks," she said with a soft laugh. "I have nothing but the greatest confidence that I made the right decision in plucking you off the streets. You're sure to be an asset to us."

"He can dance with us like THIS!"

Snowfall's attention was almost immediately then arrested once more by the antics of her date. She watched in awe as Pathfinder jumped toward one of the snack tables, and robbed it of its table cloth. As the mare then tied her hoof to the colt, she just had to laugh. She had to hand it to Pathfinder. Her date really knew how to make a dull, drab business party at least a little more interesting. For better or worse, she was at least pretty sure that Sparks wouldn't be forgetting any of this any time soon.

"He can dance WITH us and LEARN HOW TO DANCE COOL AT THE SAME TIME! MUSCLE MEMORY! Do you have muscles?"

Again Snowfall found herself snickering more than she probably should, her face slightly flush. Pathfinder really did go all out, she had to give her that. She stepped toward the adventuring mare and nodded.

"All right then. Let's dance!" Snowfall started with a laugh. "I'll actually be quite curious to see what kind of dancer you are, my dear..." she said in a softened voice, looking toward Pathfinder. "I wonder if I might be able to teach you a few things as well...?" she added while wearing a keen smirk.

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