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The Secret Rally (Sign-up in OOC Thread)


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Strange at it would have seemed to the changeling, Merlot still didn’t recognize who the bug pony was. The drone was repulsive in the eyes of the cultured gentlecolt, who reflexively flinched backwards once he saw who the other really was. Judging by the cryptic clues provided by the changeling, Merlot surmised that he must have somehow performed at Snowfall’s wedding of all places. Which would explain why Merlot wouldn’t remember the singer; the unicorn would have been too much of a foul mood concerning that vermin Pathfinder to pay attention to something so trivial as an undisguised changeling. Struggling to come up with something to say, all Merlot could cough up was a hesitant; “It’s uhhh... a pleasure to remake your acquaintance then.”

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Equine eyes were not the only things keeping watch over the Secret Rally.

“Number Two!” Seemingly out of nowhere came an out-of-breath pony dressed in the drab trench coat and cap of a WRAITH officer, obviously bearing an important message for Revenant; so important that an uniformed officer broke protocol by coming out into the open. Making sure to keep the voice level down, the officer reported; “The Scryer-on-Watch reports a life sign disturbance on the upper level of Warehouse 13 next door. Shall we deploy a squad to investigate?”

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AH-HA-HA-HA. Internal screaming!

 

Was it wrong to take so much pleasure from Dog's never-ending antics? If it was, Revenant didn't care to be right - and not that he did that, anyways, but blimey was it entertaining. The Unicorn almost wished the Diamond Dog would go through with his threats, if only to see how their guest would react. But no, that would mean a right bodging of the entire rally, for several reasons. One, because squishing inquisitive supporters of the greatest movement ever known to ponykind was a barking way to go about the recruiting bit, and two -

 

Two, because Revenant wasn't quite ready to lose Dog yet. And he had no doubt that Dog would lose.

 

Because there was something right dodgy about this particular guest, something Revenant couldn't put his hoof on but could feel in his body like a chill in the night. It was the confident way he spoke, not a shred of self-doubt or hesitation in his stance. It was the way Revenant would feel the tiniest jolt of surprise whenever he glanced towards the rooftops and then back to the doorway, as if he'd forgotten the other stallion was standing there. It was the way he silkily offered his services in tracking down an intruder, when he was - supposed to be - a complete stranger to the going-ons around them and out of his depth and wanting to play it safe because he had no exact idea what he'd be shoeing in on. 

 

And yeah, did he mention the dodgy bit, there?

 

All these thoughts, however, Revenant kept close to his chest, silently ticking them off in his head even as he kept his eyes trained on the guest. "Good dog!" the Unicorn praised, not bothering to lower his voice now that the other stallion had presented the correct passphrase. Any watching eyes would witness the cloaked stranger enter the warehouse anyways, no point in hiding the fact that the stallion had gotten it correct. "You keep this up, there might be some shiny new toys for you to play Find the Sneak Pony with." Said toys were, in fact, in the works, a set of diamond-embedded knuckles that would probably prove more effective than the chain wraps Dog favored. At the moment, they were in the fine-tuning stage - despite its fame as the hardest material known to ponykind, diamond was a bloody tricky mineral to finagle with. The smallest impurities in its cut and shaping could cause it to crack like a rock under a Diamond Dog's paw.

 

With the right cuts, though...well. Dog would probably have a field day with 'em.

 

Speaking of which, he'd probably ignored the other stallion just long enough, prompting Revenant to turn his attention back other the cloaked stranger - only to pick up faint breathing that, for a moment, seemed to be coming from the hooded stallion. It seemed such a stark contradiction to the otherwise cool demeanor that Revenant instinctively tensed, ready to obliterate the intruder - and relaxed in nearly the same instant, blood red eyes affecting a bored look as an officer suddenly came pelting up to him, obviously out of breath and winded. Revenant kept an air of nonchalance as the officer spoke in low tones, even as his eyes stayed trained on the other stallion in order to keep track of him. 

 

He hadn't forgotten that innocuous offer of aid, after all.

 

Revenant showed no signs of moving from his position, not even a twitch as he seemed to consider the whispered information for a while, before cocking up one eyebrow. "Appreciate the offer, mate" the grey stallion spoke up abruptly, tone friendly as he completely ignored the officer to instead address the guest who had been waiting outside for quite some time now, "but you needn't concern yourself with it. This, right," he gestured rather extravagantly at the building he was leaning against, "this is for you. Go on in, ay? Get settled, meet some of the blokes. Enjoy the show." The last was said with a toothy smile hidden by his face mask and shadowed by the hood he'd kept up this entire time, and the Unicorn accompanied it with a toss of his head towards the doorway and a significant glance towards Dog. The officer may might have not even existed, for all the attention Revenant showed him as he kept his eyes fixed straight on the bloody stallion.

 

...Hah! Bloody stallion. In more ways than one!

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Ah, the delicate nature of social untruths.  The good Doctor Merlot was most certainly not pleased to re-make Kahz's acquaintance, and Kahz himself was well-trained enough in equine inter-ponyial skills to recognize this fact.  But still, even here, in the heart of a rebellion against Celestia herself, the niceties must be upheld.  Oh, what a delightful little comedy of manners this was turning into!

The changeling briefly considered calling out Merlot on his deception, but he wasn't here to stir up antagonism, no matter how much it would benefit his personal policy.  No, his duty was towards the Queen, and his own interests must come second.  Already, he was getting some invaluable information about the social dynamics of potential recruits.  *They certainly aren't rebelling against their royals out of love for their enemies.  Not that it would be fair to expect them to, but it's worth noting.*  Aloud, he replied, "Oh, certainly!  Though, if you don't mind, I'll probably be flitting about the place to quickly to have a real conversation with you.  The plenipotentiary's duties weigh hard upon one's sociability..."

This was itself very much a social untruth.  It was not politics that was pulling Kahz from Merlot's side, but the fact that he had just seen Revenant take his leave of the pretty Qi'lin in the corner, and that was not an opportunity he was going to pass up!  Taking his leave with a nod and a wave, Kahz buzzed over towards Yù.  This was going to be a tricky prospect, as the small, bent changeling was by no means as easy on the eyes as her last conversation partner.  But what he lacked in looks, hopefully he could make up for with charm and disarming humor!
"
Hello, stranger!"  He greeted her in a warm, upbeat tone.   "Go ahead, recoil and scream, I'm used to it by now, and it's important to do first things first.

 

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As the Qilin smiled and listened to this senior WRAITH member talk, she couldn't help but to wonder. How much of his bravado and confidence was true, and how much was just a mask like the one he wore? Really that was none of her business, but work never rests in the mind. "Oh I believe it, honey. I believe it." she replied as she gave the stallion a once over again.

Though it would appear that the cute ones are always busy, and shortly after his arrival, he soon sauntered away. Yù sighed and frowned a little as the handsome masked stallion departed. It was a shame to see him go, but boy was it fun to watch him leave. Her silent admiration of the stallion however was cut short as a faint buzzing and the arrival of another attendee to her corner of solitude came. She couldn't help but to tilt her head, she hadn't ever seen a changeling before, only ever heard of them in hearsay.

And while it was true that he certainly wasn't as much of a looker as the last one had been, his self-deprecating humour elicited a chuckle from Yù. "Oh? Well if we're exchanging stereotypical reactions, I'll recoil in fear if you'll ask if my horns are real and if you can touch them, how does that sound?" she said with a smile. It wasn't her place to judge the looks of anypony, she was just as much of a strange sight in a strange land.

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"Dog will crush stupid sneak pony! Dog will grind his bones to DUST!"

 

Red's metaphorical ears perked when they heard a shout. Seems they'd been noticed. There must have been a magical field over the gate below, they decided. Red's auric sensing wasn't the finest or sharpest, but they reached out nonetheless, gingerly feeling around for strands of magic that might help them find out how-there! They were definitely being watched or sensed. Red couldn't tell how many ponies knew of their presence or how many spells had found them, but they could tell they were no longer fully a secret.

The decision came quickly, then. Red secured the rope to their side of the broken window and cast across the way for an unlocked window. There were a few, obviously traps. Red found a cluster of locked windows, quickly undid one and slid it open without leaving their position. They then extracted the pepper bomb, primed it, and telekinetically 'threw' it over the other building. When it detonated, it quickly filled the entire alley with a cloud of powdered cayenne. Red extended the rope from their window to the now open one and secured the grappling hook to the cross-bar holding the glass to the frame.

Rather than shimmying across it, though, Red dropped to street level and waited inside the cloud of pepper, but outside the Alley, assuming every agent worth his...well, pepper, would be rushing into the alley. They readied the recording device, intending to stroll up once there was an opening and use the pre-recorded "You cannot kill that which is already dead." to assuage the guard dog once he was alone...
Edited by Windwright
corrected a couple of mistakes from typing too fast.
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"You keep this up, there might be some shiny new toys for you to play Find the Sneak Pony with."

Dog's face was only a fang-filled grin. Despite his heavy-handed nature, like any other dog he loved getting a new toy to play with. His strength just allowed him to have the bigger or more interesting toys. More amazing than his strength probably had to be how quickly he jumped emotions. Over the course of five minutes he went from content, to blind rage, and now to malicious excitement. Whoever this sneaky pony was, he hoped they would show their face soon. Just thinking about got Dog to start pounding his fist into his palm.

"Dog gonna flatten sneak pony... Use sneak pony as punching bag..." all kinds of terrible, murderous things would have been uttered by the guard, until he was put back on alert.

His ears perked as he heard the pop of a smoke canister from nearby, the scent of pepper faintly tickling his nostrils. "Uhh... UHHG... UGHCHNOOO!" the force of it practically slammed him back against the door his was guarding, Dog dragging his beefy arm over his face to wipe his nose. With an intruder running about, this put into effect the second part of his orders, the guard again just punching his open paw and keeping an eye out.

In the event of an attack on the perimeter, under no circumstances are you to abandon your post. All comers, guests or otherwise, must be pat down and searched after providing the passphrase and before entering the rally. Confiscate all weapons and possible recording devices. Refusals are to be treated as hostile. In the event of catastrophic breakdown of the perimeter, await further instructions.

Failure will not be tolerated.

"Failure not be tolerated..." he mumbled to himself.

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Rule number one of engaging in conversation with attractive females: she laughs, you live.

So far, so good then!  Yù was smiling and chuckling at least, which only enhanced her exotic beauty in the changeling's eyes.  It was perhaps to be expected that the two 'foreign' species would be more tolerant of each other's deviations from the Equine norm, but Kahz just wouldn't be Kahz if he didn't have the gumption to take that one extra bold step...
"
May I, actually?"  He inquired after the Qi'lin's own self-referential remark.  Already, his hoof was extended to give one of her horns a gentle caress; he fancied he could feel the magic tingling under his touch.  Of course, considering that the magic of her kind was in their breath, and not their horns, that was most likely a delusion on his part.  "I hope you don't think me forward, but this is the first time I've ever met someone like you.  Very possibly, the first time our species ever met face-to-face!  Just goes to show what kind of organization this is, eh?"

That last innocent-sounding question was a hook set and baited for information.  If this mission was to succeed, Kahz needed to get a good picture of the viability of WRAITH, as well as its potential points of attraction for new members and adherents.  How much potential success there lay in front of it depended upon its appeal to the masses, and the changeling was by no means convinced of this quite yet...

 

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Right brilliant. And this is where it all went belly up, was it?

 

Whatever they were, however, WRAITH grunts were well trained. Only a small scattering of alarmed shouts sounded, more from the shock of surprise rather than the surprise itself, and Revenant knew, from experience, a small group would already be heading to the disturbance even as the Unicorn remained in his languid position. The lookouts, though momentarily distracted, would remain in their positions and keep eyes on their assigned areas, and Dog -

 

Well, Dog was going to follow orders without making a dog's breakfast out of the whole thing, because that's what good dogs did.

"Seems like someone's having a bubble, eh?" the grey colored stallion chortled, as if a - looked like a smoke bomb? - going off in the alleyway directly adjacent to their meeting warehouse was absolutely no cause for concern. "Best get inside, mate, while our friend here's feeling so inclined." The last was said with a condescending pat to one of Dog's beefy arms as Revenant continued leaning on the side of the building next to the Diamond Dog, and didn't bother hiding the upward tilts of his visible eyes above his mask that signified a rather wide smile as the other stallion made his way inside. 

 

Three counts...two beats, and a skip and a step, to be sure their newest guest was inside the thick walls over the warehouse and Dog was back in position in front of the entrance, and - 

 

The officer was on the ground before he could open his blighted mouth a second time, with one of Revenant's metal-clad hooves exerting just enough pressure on the cap of his hind leg to border on the painful. "Bit daft, you are," the Unicorn stated conversationally, tone nonchalant and careless as if he were simply enjoying a refreshing talk with an old friend, even as he applied a bit more pressure to the hind leg, "you a new one?" He was being rhetorical, naturally - the officer's uniform gave it away, even if Revenant could scarcely tell them apart at times. "You say my number in front of bucking variables like these unknown guests again, you'll beg to hoof yourself over to the REA." Another press on the officer's hind leg, hard enough that Revenant could feel something groan through his boots - 

 

- and as abruptly as it had started, it stopped. 

 

Revenant didn't bother helping the officer up, nor did he return to his lounging position next to Dog. After all, he had something of a job, to do. 

 

"Stay," the Unicorn ordered unnecessarily, with another rough pat to the Diamond Dog's muscular arm, "and keep the riff raff at bay, would you? Oh and, you - " he added, just barely turning his head to put the officer back in his line of sight, " - I see you limping on that thing, you're losing it." That was really all the playtime he had to spare, which just left work, and Revenant left his two pallies behind to make his way towards the alleyway.

 

Which, was really not far at all, considering. Dog was easily visible as the Unicorn sauntered up to the beginning of the alley, where the mysterious substance - smelled like pepper - was beginning to seep out onto the street. There had been no screams or sounds of a struggle before the detonation, meaning this attack had taken a lookout by surprise...or not at all. A diversion? Hoping to distract the lookouts and sneak past? Bloody well and good, with that. Their scouts were too well-trained to get all starry-eyed over a sudden disturbance. 

 

If this was an infiltration job, they were bodging it up right nicely, planned pepper bomb or no. Sneaking past was well out of the question now, not with every single lookout on hyper alert. And if their plan had been all along to be noticed, well - bloody mission accomplished. Some jobs, it was important to make a statement, make it known that WRAITH had been behind it - but for infiltration, subtly was the key, a quick in and out without raising any suspicions. After all, the longer it took to discover the deception, the more time they had to make away and cover their tracks. 

 

So what the bloody Taurtarus was this?

 

Sounds were coming from inside the alleyway, murmurs and coughs and shuffling hooves, but Revenant deigned to join in, instead opting to lean against the corner of the warehouse, away enough from the spreading mist. He kept turned away from Dog, standing a bit aways guarding the entrance, a loyal and thoughtless brute at his back, while he himself kept eyes on the alleyway entrance - and on the building across from him, the one the intruder had bungled into in the first place The sweep crew would clear out the alleyway soon enough, magically or otherwise, and a grunt would emerge to tell him all what he needed to know. 

 

He didn't mind waiting. 

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Daedalus frowned.  So many formalities.  He supposed it wouldn’t be proper for a host to put their guests to work right away, but it would mean a shift in tactics would be needed.

“Of course.  I suppose I’ll show myself inside then,” he sighed.

Even as he trotted inside, Daedalus kept eyes and ears peeled.  The simpletons milling about inside probably had no idea what was going on in the background.  Careful observation dispelled that notion quickly, however.  The other pony at the door slinked away as Daedalus entered, but his conversation with the mook was still audible.  Daedalus purposely slowed his gait, remaining in earshot just long enough to catch the conversation.

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“Number Two!” Seemingly out of nowhere came an out-of-breath pony dressed in the drab trench coat and cap of a WRAITH officer, obviously bearing an important message for Revenant; so important that an uniformed officer broke protocol by coming out into the open. Making sure to keep the voice level down, the officer reported; “The Scryer-on-Watch reports a life sign disturbance on the upper level of Warehouse 13 next door. Shall we deploy a squad to investigate?”

Number Two?  Now it got interesting.  Daedalus did not have a good look at the stallion at the door; the mask made facial identification difficult, but the saunter and accent was very distinctive.  Mental notes were taken for research back at the Keep.  This one was high on the chain, after all why have a “number two” without a “number one”?  It also begged the question: was this the entire upper echelon of the organization or was this merely one cell of many?

The mook was also something new.  While the trenchcoat was nothing unusual, Daedalus’ eyes were immediately drawn to the emblem on the stallion’s garrison cap: the mark of the kraken.  Daedalus’s eyes narrowed.  The fact that a formal uniform even existed meant that whatever this organization was, it was bigger than what was being shown.   As Daedalus stepped inside the warehouse proper, the kraken motif became even more apparent.  How had this gone without notice?  Daedalus filed the thoughts away for later review at the Keep.

There were more immediate matters to address.  The officer had reported a disturbance in the warehouse next door and the presence of a scryer.  Any scryer worth their salt would have set up alarm fields at possible entrances.  Since the intruder hadn’t already been carted out and there were no sounds of fighting or obvious distress, the alarms would not have been on doors.  There must have been other passages that were not immediately obvious.

A quick look around suggested that no one was watching; the perception filters would assist with that.  Daedalus took a deep breath and discharged another low-powered scrying pulse.  In order to prevent detection, he necessarily kept the range limited, but he was in luck.  The pulse made visible to Daedalus disturbances in the aether itself.  Lines of ley energy flowed through the warehouse like a spider’s web; and like a spider’s web they converged on one point.  The organization’s scryer had set up his spell architecture with a master spell node near the back of the warehouse.  It was understandable; with so many watch points to keep track of, it was easier to check signatures after an alarm had been tripped rather than simultaneously keeping track of every single alarm node individually.  However, this also made it easy to “hack” for someone well versed in spellcraft.

His objective decided, Daedalus slowly made his way through the gathered gaggle toward the back of the warehouse...

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It was with great sadness that Dr. Merlot’s chit-chat with the changeling ended... actually, there wasn’t any sadness within Merlot to begin with. The gentlecolt did find it curious however that the apparent wedding musician immediately gravitated towards a qilin mare; one of Merlot’s therapists in fact. Yù Xīn’s craft was the experimental practice of dream therapy, and she operated out of Canterlot. On those infrequent occasions where Merlot had business in Stalliongrad, he’d sought out the qilin’s services for relief from his agony over all Pathfinder related frustration.

And oddly enough, it wasn’t until the gentlecolt started indulging in dream therapy when he started finding the willpower to take a more... forceful approach against all those who’ve wronged him. Funny how such things worked out.

More and more ponies and other beings were filling the chamber now. Along with the attendees, it seemed as if more hired goons of the guard dog's caliber were lingering around the edges, keeping a close eye on the audience. Not seeing anypony else of note, Merlot kept on waiting for the rally to begin.

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The officer had the good sense to wait for Number Two to head out of eyesight before limping back to the security station, accessible via hidden means. Number Two did not provide any commands to rely, but the prime directive of Number One remained clear; take no chances. In the lower access tunnels beneath Warehouse 13, a squad of WRAITH operatives stood by for the moment to strike. Wearing enchanted masks that enhanced nocturnal vision, they would take the trespasser by surprise should Number Two require additional backup. For now, the squad commander kept a hoof on a portable crystal ball, awaiting further orders.....

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Yù laughed once more as she tilted down her head. "Go right ahead." she wondered to herself if all changelings were so forward and inquisitive. At the very least this one was, and he was being polite about it, which was already painting them in an interesting light. The feel of her antlers would likely remind the changeling of that of a deer, had he ever met one. And felt their antlers, of course.

"Hm! You may very well be right. I suppose in that case we would be making history huh?" a fanciful thought that. He was right though. If WRATIH was bringing together so many individuals of all walks...then maybe what they were doing actually had a chance. "I'm likely not the first to admit this, but I was rather skeptical of this whole...thing at first." she shakes a hoof for emphasis. "But so far tonight has been showing me that it has the potential to really be something big." the thought scared Yù a little, though she wouldn't let it show. Sure she bent the rules sometimes, but wouldn't WRAITH just throw everything into total Anarchy?...That just remained to be seen.

Shaking her head softly the Qulin smile once more and leaned against the wall. "Oh heavens, how rude of me. Distracted me with your charming little humour and I forgot to give my name. I'm Yù Xīn, a pleasure to meet you."

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Red waited in the pepper cloud, creeping along as it expanded further into the street and proud of the padding on their hooves that rendered their steps silent, especially with the chaos in the alley.

They knew that soon enough their pursuers would find the rope and open window. Hopefully the chaos and the presence of so many inside the building would lead them to draw the conclusion that they were already inside. In the meantime, Red had to be careful. They'd heard a quiet exchange at what they assumed was the gate, but without their eavesdropping spell active they didn't know what was said. What they did know is that somepony had moved to the corner and stopped, and until the cloud obscured the observer's view of the street beyond, there was little chance the thief could claim ignorance of the alleyway.

So Red Herring, master thief, engaged in the largest part of any good heist. Waiting patiently for an opportunity to move. They also silently removed a document from the hidden lining of their document tube and replaced the seam. They had a feeling the next portion of this was going to require proof, forged or not.
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It was one of the key rules of infiltration: never let personal desires get in the way of the mission.  Nevertheless, it had to be said that most changeling field agents took a very... liberal interpretation of that guideline.  After all, the Hive depended upon gaining the love of others, and one couldn't help but enjoy that, obviously.  There were so many lovely things and people in Equestria, even in dark spaces like this!

And if anyling had been watching Kahz's conversation with Yu, they might have entertained doubts upon his commitments to his mission.  The changeling's attention seemed quite taken with his female companion.  "My name's Kahz, pleased to meet you!"  He kept his charming smile, stationing himself against the same wall as the Qu'lin.  "And I'm certainly willing to go along with any movement that'll bring the likes of you and me together."  That sentence, along with the accompanying wink, might have been a step too far.  Still, everything had been going smoothly up until now, so why not go further?

Despite all appearances, however, Chrysalis' agent had not forgotten his mission.  He'd deemed it best to stay in the background for now, and Yu had given him the perfect reason to do so, though it was clear to him that she didn't have much information on what the whole organization's aims really were.  Thus, he directed his attention to the other goings-on within his sight.  There seemed to be some security kerfuffle, but nothing overt yet.  Well, that made sense.  An organization like this must attract spies and infiltrators like nopony's business.  

But there was something else, too.  Something tugging at certain, specialized parts of his mind.  As a changeling, Kahz had an inherent affinity with disguise magic of all kinds, and he felt... something.  Not quite like a changeling's glamour, but a deceptive appearance for all that.  It wouldn't have stuck out so much, except that pretty much everyone else here were wearing their real faces (which in and of itself was an interesting piece of information).  Kahz tried to locate the anomaly, but it was surprisingly difficult to trace.  At one point, he was staring right in Daedalus' direction, though his brain didn't register his presence, even though all his instincts were screaming that something was there...

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Now this was getting bloody interesting. 

 

Revenant didn't let it show, however, instead keeping his expression a mix between nonchalance and outright boredom as the grunt in front of him staring fidgeting, obviously unable to ascertain whether his superior was pleased with the report or not. In truth, the Unicorn was neither, and content to leave the hapless grunt guessing for a solid moment or two, before he abruptly grinned underneath his mask and hood. 

 

"Keep sweeping the area, right?" he ordered, with a genial pat to the stallion's shoulder, and pretty much felt the waves of relief coming off the grunt,  "out towards Boardwalk Lane and between." The other stallion nodded eagerly in response, and with a quick salute had soon vanished back into the pepper cloud, which was now beginning to thin out and disperse. Boardwalk Lane was only a warehouse or two away from the Rally and already covered by the rooftop scouts, but a few ground troops snooping around on hoof wouldn't go amiss, either. 

Not that Revenant believed they'd be finding anything, right.

 

But the ground floor was really the only base they didn't have very well covered, and if the grunt's report was accurate - which it was - then ground floor was what they should keep an eye on. Barmy as this attempt to infiltrate was, their little sneak thief hadn't made his way across the rope before the pepper bomb had gone off - the eyes on the rooftops would've spotted him in an instant. And while it was possible he'd crossed over inside the cover of the cloud, a fair few of their scouts were Unicorns with all sorts of useful little spells tucked away in their arsenal. Revenant had a right miserable time believing that none of them had caught the faintest whiff of anyone scurrying cross the rope, especially since the attention of the nearest lookouts had been immediately drawn to the commotion. 

 

There was, perhaps, the possibility of their guest retreating into he warehouse he'd crawled up out of, in which case a sweep might be required...but not necessarily productive. By now, the Scryer-on-Watch would have pinpointed exactly which maintenance grate had been disturbed, and a group of operatives would be stationing themselves to look over the area. But they simply lacked the required pony power to comb through every tunnel and building in search of a slippery eel. Diverting resources into sweeping a building would remove them from the streets and the main building. 

 

And really, when it came right down to it, the meeting warehouse was what mattered, right. Everything else would fall in place 'round it.

With a whirl that was probably a bit more dramatic than needed, Revenant abruptly spun away from the corner of the warehouse he'd been leaning against, this time heading towards the next building over, the one the rope had been attached to. While sending teams of operatives to clean through every nearby warehouse was a gross misuse of resources, a cursory glance over by a highly skilled operative would be much more efficient - and luckily, there was one such available to lend a hoof. In only a few steps, the dark grey Unicorn was in front of the warehouse and slipping through the front door like a wraith in the night. 

 

Mmm...how apt. 

 

Nothing immediately stuck out at him, no, but that didn't stop the Unicorn from casting a Detection spell around himself, the telltale aura of his spell casting both physically and magically dampened by his ever-so-trusty ring. The edges of his vision darkened as faint lights sprung up, from above and around him. Those would be the lookouts positioned on the roof, and the grunts still combing the alleyway outside for clues - ah! And some below him, a small cluster. The operatives, no doubt. Unless there was a whole team of infiltrators working together...in which case they'd be bloody daft to huddle together down in the tunnels. 

 

...Still. Better safe than sorry, and Revenant pulled out his portable crystal ball with one hoof. "Report," he commanded, not bothering to pull down his face mask as the squad commander confirmed their position beneath his hooves. "Take two ponies to the upper levels of the warehouse," the Unicorn continued, and his tone of voice brokered no question as to which warehouse he meant, "and get sights on a hooded stallion. Crimson." 

 

... 

 

"...Well-mannered, all too eager to lend a helping hoof." Buck all, Revenant was annoyed. He'd been sure as all Tautarus that he'd taken better stock of the dodgy fellow before the pepper bomb had gone off, but for the life of him, whatever observations he'd gathered had slipped through his hooves like water. And that more than anything set off the figurative alarm bells, because he hadn't risen through the ranks of first the REIN, than WRAITH, by forgetting details and faces and information. Something right barking was going on, and if that stallion wasn't involved, Revenant would eat his own horn.

 

Well, perhaps not. He was rather fond of it, after all. 

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Red heard the stallion's departure and mentally nodded to themselves. Now was the proper time. After the door to their warehouse opened and closed again, Red telekinetically pulled some of the pepper powder into their uniform where it settled into the fabric, ready to be jostled loose if they needed it to. Red then stepped out from the far side of the cloud and gingerly picked their way around it, as if it had just been in their path and they were avoiding it on their way to the rally.

Red approached the door and manually pulled the document out of its tube, unrolled it, and presented it to the doorman. It was not the original WRAITH letter, but was rather a deciphered copy of the letter on the letterhead of the First Stalliongrad National Bank, at the bottom of which "You cannot kill that which is already dead" was underlined, as well as the warehouse address. Red hoped they wouldn't be asked to remove their helmet, just for anonymity's sake, even though they knew their dye was still in place, but just in case they would be, they were using their magic to tug and pull the mane into an elaborate up-do their alter-ego wouldn't be caught dead in, grateful once again that they'd thought to make their helmet conceal their horn and its associated aura while it was on. They couldn't openly manipulate objects outside of themself, but as long as it was their mane, which was also under the helmet? Nopony would be the wiser, and certainly no diamond dog.

They just hoped Dog could read.
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Dog did as he was told. 

He stayed.

But he was very antsy about staying. He wanted to hit something. Really wanted to hit something. For now he had to make do with just beating against his meaty palm, huffing as he kept a lookout. He watched Revenant wander off, and actually felt kinda bad about being left alone again. He liked Revenant. More than most ponies. If Dog had to choose any pony in the rally to not crush... It would probably be Number 1. But Revenant would be a close second.

Okay, if Dog had to pick two ponies to not crush...
Actually that Qilin wasn't so bad either. Short and sweet, and technically not a pony... right?

If he had to pick THREE-

"Ugh... UH-UGCHNOOO!" he sneezed again, "GRAH!" came the short, frustrated roar afterwards. Stupid pepper, stupid sneezing! He hated sneezing! 
But then he noticed the new guest in front of him, where the scent came from. The doorman just glared at the suspicious pony, swiping the paper away from them aggressively. It wan't even so much the pepper scent that really got his bells ringing, but the pony was completely concealed, appeared after a supposed attack... But he supposed anypony could've shown up after that, and nothing really happened, per se...

Dog looked over the paper and squinted at it. He thought he had to read the whole thing. He recognized 'Stalliongrad' and 'Bank' right away, as he had been to the city and had robbed a couple of banks since joining this little club... He did notice the passphrase underlined at the bottom of the paper, but this only seemed to confuse him more, actually making the dog scratch his head. Was the passphrase supposed to be spoken? His orders didn't actually specify... He didn't feel like reading the whole thing, so he did something rare. He made a decision!

"Dog need to search pony completely..." and he figured he could kill two birds with one stone, looking over his shoulder and calling back:
"Revenant! Dog need help reading this!" 

He could totally read it, he just... didn't want to! Yeah.

Looking back to the guest, he continued business as usual. "Does pony...con-sent... to search...?" He had to remember that one. His vocabulary wasn't all that developed.

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“For your safety and everyone else’s, please keep these on your horns until the event is over.” Back in the warehouse, a comely unicorn was coming up to all unicorn attendees providing them each with an enchanted magic restrainer to lock onto their horns. Its purpose: to prevent unicorns from being able to cast magic. Shadowmane’s safety was too important to allow a potential enemy to fire a harmful spell at the leader of WRAITH. As the organization had plenty of these laying around for use on unicorn prisoners, it was a trivial matter to smuggle a number into Stalliongrad.

Dr. Merlot absently nodded and asked no questions as the lackey telekinetically locked the magic restrainer onto his horn. The gentlecolt would no longer be able to wield spells for the duration of the Rally, but then again, it wasn’t like he was using magic anyway. And only the treacherous hearted would offer resistance to this security measure.....

-----------

“Bogey heading to Main Gate, over!” Relying on the observations of Alpha Team’s two scouts, the rest of the unit redeployed under a sewer opening not far from the Rally’s front entrance. Once topside, Alpha Team would hide in the shadows until called for. Should the trespasser break free from Dog (and Number Two) and try making a run for it, they’ll be waiting to cut off his escape.....

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Oi, really now. Twice in as many minutes?

 

Though - alright, bit of a special case, he supposed. Subordinates were only suppose to address their superiors by rank and number, but doing so in front of unknown variables like inquisitive but not yet committed rally goers was questionable. Fine for headquarters, good for a messy and confusing battlefield where opposing REA would get little to no information about a supposed Number Two through the haze of a fight, but not in front of lackadaisical guests who could or could not turn out to be Golds in disguise. But then, he didn't exactly want ponies going around calling him by his name in front of said guests, now did he? This whole rally was just a bloody dodgy business, and he supposed his number would have been the lesser of two evils...

 

But really. A succinct 'sir' would have sufficed. 

 

Bit of too late for that one, though, and the dark colored Unicorn felt his eyes rolling upwards on their own accord as he swiveled back around towards the door, poking his head out to take stock of one Dog still playing guard duty like he was suppose to. HIs brutish companion, however, appeared to be stumped, what looked like a piece of paper clutched in one meaty paw as the Diamond Dog loomed rather menacingly over a newcomer. Similarly to the ever-so-helpful chap from earlier, this one seemed entirely suspicious, covered so far up that he might as well have screamed Dodgy! and get well and done over with. 

 

...Then again, there were probably quite a few guests who had taken great pains to cover themselves up, less in an attempt to stealth their way inside and more out of extreme caution and fear of being caught associating with their current crowd. 

 

Either or, dodgy as buck all, and Revenant raised one eyebrow as he snatched the paper from Dog's grip, red eyes roving over the words even as they occasionally flicked upwards towards the newcomer. This...was not the original letter that had been sent out to prospective sympathizers. It more looked like a letter someone had written up after they'd figured out what was required of them for admittance, if the underlines passphrase at the bottom of the letter was anything to go by. Though, why the bloke had apparently only presented this letter to Dog instead of saying the required phrase was barmy...couldn't speak?

 

Or...didn't want to? 

 

"Right!" Revenant decided after a moment, flicking the letter back out - and pausing, as a shift in wind suddenly introduced the smell of pepper to his nostrils, threatening a sneeze. The Unicorn was able to reign it in, though he was unable to stop a sharp cough, causing him to wrinkle his snout. Blimey, was the bloke rolling around in the stuff? It had to be coming from the guest, and unless he'd sat down and bloody marinated in the pepper cloud from the alleyway, it shouldn't have clung so miserably to a quick passer-by.

 

...

 

"...Right, sorry," the grey Unicorn repeated with another cough, though his lips were stretched into a friendly grin underneath his mask as he held the letter back out towards the newcomer, "been coughing up my lungs all night. Bit of a bug going 'round, I think." Revenant glanced down towards the letter, eyes widening a bit in beguiled curiosity as if he found the piece of paper in his grasp a rather innocent oversight. "Anyways...this isn't a school turnout, mate, you don't need a note from the professor to get by. Just say what you need, yeah?" The words were light and joking, humor in his voice as Revenant raised his other hoof to brush away a stray bug from the side of his hood with a brief and near indiscernible twirling motion. 

 

Dog in front. Him between the guest and the warehouse he'd exited from. Whatever eyes that were watching positioning themselves based on his signal. 

 

And one guest, who would hopefully consent to the body search after giving Dog the passphrase. Because really, the night was too young to be cracking skulls. He'd like for the Rally to at least start before needing to pull Dog off of unsuspecting and subsequently pulverized ponies, thanks. 

 

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Red half-frowned for a moment. They'd caught the subtle pause and the repositioning. They'd followed this...Revenant's reappearance. Someone the Diamond Dog took orders from, most likely. The one who'd stayed behind. Red was caught and they knew it. There were still contingencies in play though, so they weren't worried. But the security around this event was far and away above what they'd been expecting. Wards, scrying spells, sentries? Whatever was going on in this warehouse was far, far out of the depth they were projecting. The last place Red had seen this much security was a known mafia stronghold.

Well, that and the bank they stole the letterhead from. The letter, too, but they had left that in their workshop on the other end of Stalliongrad. While they were considering and calculating their next moves, Red tapped their throat and made a negating gesture. In truth it was the strap holding the helmet in place that kept their jaw held shut and therefore prevented speech, but that was a fair sight harder to communicate in charades. Besides which, Red didn't want to take the helmet off, and without any obvious buckles or catches it would be a rather difficult prospect to get it off of them by force without serious damage to the pony herself. Which, frankly, was half the point of the design. Usually. Red had a suspicion that it might be a liability in a moment.

They tilted their head to the side for a moment, then made a show of looking around the street. They really didn't want to be searched in the open, and indicated as such by nodding toward the warehouse door.
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Oh, good! Revenant came back! He happily handed off the paper to him so he could continue interacting with the potential guest. He pawed it over. The decision was no longer his responsibility. Good. But he still had to search this new pony. Returning his attention to the suited guest, his head tilted as he watched their hoof movements. The gears were definitely turning in the guard's head. 

Were they signaling that they have no throat? They couldn't breathe? Were they choking? 

Eventually he put two and two together, though it took a troubling amount of time to come to the most reasonable conclusion. Revenant asked for words, and they got the equivalent of 'I can't'. "Stupid mutes..." he grumbled. Everything he didn't understand or had a distaste for seemed to be stupid. Stupid mutes, stupid changelings, stupid magic, stupid ponies, stupid stupid STUPID!

He popped his knuckles again, wiggling his fingers. Fine motor control wasn't one of his strengths, and one certainly needed it to search somepony. "No, pony no go in. Must search here." Dog insisted sternly, attempting to convey a 'you have no choice' tone of voice. Dog was very aware of potential trickery! Well... Okay, he wasn't. But he was following orders. Absolutely no entry without a search. Bringing a pony inside to search for potential dangerous or unauthorized items just kind of defeated the purpose for searching at the door in the first place, didn't it?

He had to search for weapons and recording devices. "Dog need search full body. Take off helmet, or Dog take it off for you!" The latter was likely a far more... undesirable option. Even if he tried to be gentle. Either way, the bulky helmet seemed the most logical place for some kind of recording device, microphone, camera, whatever to be hidden. Why not start there?

 

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More disparaging murmurs of Stupid! from Dog, eh? Not enough to be an overall record, but for most times in as many minutes?

 

Getting pretty high up, there.

 

Unlike those with actual brain cells to call their very own, however, the Diamond Dog's labeling of what was stupid tended to, more often than not, coincide with whatever he didn't, or couldn't, understand, rather than any actual contemplation on the validity of said whatever. Poor brute. He'd probably tear off his own tail for lack of understanding the appendage, if he even thought about it for all of two seconds. 

 

Still, that mind-numbingly lack of intelligence had its uses. Case in point? The knuckle-popping, threatening impasse thing the callous thug was doing right at that moment. Someone else might have accepted the apparent muteness as an excuse to accept the written password - not Dog. Bloody brainless oaf he was meant there was no reasoning, no persuading, and absolutely no convincing him of anything but his orders, and that - that was just brilliant. Because Revenant was far more interested in this enigma of an infiltrator than concerned over the potential loss of a new WRAITH asset. Their organization had thieves and scientists and mindless drones to spare, ones that could be controlled far easier than a potentially mute...whatever he was. 

 

"I'd recommend the former," Revenant said breezily, still the picture of casual interest as his red gaze swept over the infiltrator again, "Dog means well, but those big hands of his...delicate work's not exactly his forte, see." The option to turn around and walk away wasn't given, even in a hypothetically-pitched scenario - one way or another, this guest would be giving up his secrets. 

 

Just be a mite easier to make sure he wasn't hiding any more bloody pepper up his sleeves, beforehoof. 

 

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Naturally, not one single WRAITH member, pony or otherwise, thought it worth their while to explain the whole hullabaloo to those prospective members waiting in the warehouse.  No, Kahz was left with a pretty Qi'lin, a dampening ring around his horn, and the echoes surrounding the wide-open room.  Which was fine by him; he was more interested in the pretty female than in the security problems of an organization which might not be all that useful an ally anyway.  The dampening ring was... a bit of an inconvenience, yes.  But maybe it only worked on unicorns.  He certainly didn't feel any different...

"Now, what do you suppose that is all about?"  He remarked conversationally to Yu, as he surreptitiously strained his ears to parse the echoes.  Growing up in a cave system brought some useful skills with it... So, this Revenant was 'number 2,' was he?  Good to know.  He'd have to talk to him later, in an official capacity.  The interloper near the door... well!  That certainly wasn't suspicious at all, no siree!  It seemed like the guard and the executive had it handled between them, so a sign of competence there...

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"My my, quite the flatterer aren't you?" Yù said with a wink of her own. "But I suppose it's true. If a group can bring such a motley band of creatures into its fold, well it must be doing something right, no?" Truth be told however if it were up to Yù, she'd not be in this situation. Things like that made her wish she had never left home. But it was far too late for pity parties, she had gotten herself into this mess and as far as she could see it was for the long haul.

With ears perked and eyebrow quirked, Yù leaned her head towards the direction of the entrance. "Hmm. I'm not certain. It sounds like there's been some kind of ruckus outside. Perhaps that's why Revenant wandered off earlier. Charming fellow that he is, he doesn't seem the time to worry about getting his hooves dirty either. She quietly hoped that whatever was going on, the guard wouldn't get too handsy. For everyone's sake. Those were some big hands!

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Daedalus wove his way through the crowd virtually unseen, a wraith that registered only at the edge of perception, vanishing the moment any member of the gathered audience attempted to lay eyes on him.  He was confident in his ability to slip tails, but the sudden uptick in activity had put him on edge.  It looked like it was nearing time for curtain up.

 

Quote

“For your safety and everyone else’s, please keep these on your horns until the event is over.” Back in the warehouse, a comely unicorn was coming up to all unicorn attendees providing them each with an enchanted magic restrainer to lock onto their horns. Its purpose: to prevent unicorns from being able to cast magic. Shadowmane’s safety was too important to allow a potential enemy to fire a harmful spell at the leader of WRAITH. As the organization had plenty of these laying around for use on unicorn prisoners, it was a trivial matter to smuggle a number into Stalliongrad.

 

“Safety my flank,” he muttered to himself.  As if having Twilight meddle with my horn wasn’t bad enough.

 

The attendant was eye candy with too much makeup and a skirt emphasizing her legs.  If there was one thing these guys knew how to do, it was to put their pawns in place to catch unsuspecting ponies with an interest in such things.  Despite his usual interest in such things, Daedalus was focused on his current task.  A pity he couldn’t spare more effort.  A subtle flick of his horn set movement at the edge of the attendant’s sight, sending her trotting off after what may well have been Daedalus’ shadow.  He refused to accept a magic inhibitor when he needed to be on top of his game.

 

Now near the ley hub, Daedalus tapped into one of the invisible lines of magic leading into it.  The subversion would have to be subtle, slow, and meticulous, lest the scryer determine that his operation had been compromised.  Daedalus assembled the spell commands and pushed them along the ley line with tiny nudges of magical force.

 

There.  The trojan was in place.  Now to wait for the scryer to compromise his own security.  Daedalus’ ear twitched at the commotion coming from the front.  Dog appeared to have started yet another altercation.  If the scryer stuck to standard operating procedure, he would surely be on high alert by now.  And that was all it would take to get him in...

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The expert thief frowned again and mentally repeated a few phrases not meant for polite ears, then put a hoof to one side of their helmet. This was entirely for show, but they telekinetically undid the strap from its interior catch anyway and let it fall loose as they took a half step closer to the unicorn. In a low tone, a half an octave below their alter-ego's true voice, and in a Staliongradi accent so thick it was clearly false, they said "You are a stallion who appreciates need for privacy. I will be search, but do not want to have my face seen by every pair of eyes in Stalliongrad, da?"
They made another gesture encompassing the street at this last, and glanced around again furtively. In truth, they were using the gestures and motions to disguise the final steps they were taking to conceal their identity, breaking the seal on the suit's emergency dye cache would convert their whole pelt to red, though the quick-drying variant would take much longer to wash out at the end of this heist and covered their cutie mark to boot, and the head movements would let their mane expand into the proper shape once they took off the helmet. Still, failing negotiation, they had one final ace in the hole.
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