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A Chance Encounter [Open Invitation]


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"Yeah..." Eagle sighed, looking around. He started searching every inch of the crib, looking for clues.

Gilded came back in then, a piece of black fabric in his hoof. "Found this stuck on the window. Looks like that was the point of entry."

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"Capable to get in and out, but not good enough to do it spotlessly, their no professional. Still, they were able to take Pastel without her crying being heard as they fled, Silver would have no doubt chased after them if she heard it. Does the cloth give us any details of it origin?" Trax explained before looking at the cloth with an analytical eye.

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Gilded examined it closely. "It looks to be cotton. Not anything special, so they just put on whatever black thing was around. But..." he sniffed it. "It smells like cologne. Either PlayPony or Love Machine, I think. My brother likes both of those, but he'd never be caught dead wearing black cotton."

"I think we can rule your brother out anyway. He doesn't even know you have fillies, right?" Eagle asked, tilting his head. Gilded nodded.

"As far as I know, yes. But he might be able to tell us what cologne this is."

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Eagle and Gilded exchanged a nervous look. Then Gilded sighed and nodded. "Maybe if my mother was alive, she would know. but neither my brother nor my father know about Silver or our girls. They do know I went to work on a farm, and they cut off most contact with me after that. I send them letters every once in a while, and my father gave me this house when I told him I was staying in the barracks, because other wise it would be too shameful." He stopped there, biting his tongue to keep back the bitter tears. Eagle patted his side.

"His dad is rich, but he married far below his class," Eagle explained. "He worked hard to maintain his image, and he saw what Gilded was doing as throwing all his hard work away."

"But I'm happy." Gilded spoke up again. "I wont take it back. Any of it. Except Pastel, when we find her."

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"We can start by asking your Brother about the cologne." Trax began, "Eagle, head to the Castle and report to Stryker and Sun of our whereabouts. Tell Sun to give Seven the task of patrolling the streets for any information." 

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"On it," Eagle said with a quick salute before running out of the room. Soft Spot passed him in the hallway before entering, looking around and trying not to touch anything.

"Is there anything I can do to help?" she asked, "The fillies don't know me that well, and they were starting to get nervous around me..."

 

It only took Eagle ten minutes to get from Gilded's house to the castle. He ran into the east wing and ran for Stryker's office to look for him and Sun.

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Trax nodded to her understanding the situation, "Actually, we could use you, especially where we're going. Is that alright with you?" He turned to ask Gilded, figuring it would be respectful considering they were going to visit his Family.

 

Stryker and Sun were talking over a map of Canterlot, Seven stood by patiently and was the first to notice Eagle come in, "Howdy Partner!" He greeted a little too loudly. Sun looked up, her eyes seem to glimmer as she saw Eagle, "Eagle!" Stryker glanced up but kept his attention on the Map, "Report Soldier." He ordered firmly.

 

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Gilded nodded. Then he thought something over. "Softie," he said slowly, "What if we pretended Pastel was your filly who was stolen?"

Soft Spot blinked and looked confused. "I mean... If that would help, but-"

"Excellent! Then let's get going!" he trotted out of the room then, and Softie glanced over at Trax with a raised eyebrow.

 

"Hi..." Eagle said to Seven before his Captain's voice snapped him to attention. He saluted and said, "Sir! We found a clue on the scene, a scrap of fabric with the smell of cologne on it. Gilded and Trax were going to visit Gilded's twin brother to see if he could help them identify the scent and perhaps bring us closer to finding my niece."

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Trax flew through the doorway and lightly jumped off the walls over Gildeds head and landing in front him, Trax's wings spread out to block his way. "I know it's not my place, but as your Friend, I'm gonna say it. Tell them the truth, if you want their help, they need to know everything." Suddenly Trax's eyes flashed with a mild annoyance, "Another thing too, don't disregard your own filly because of your own selfish Pride, a Parent should do anything to call a foal their own. You should know what that feels like, cause I know, and so does Silver." He added sternly, being orphaned was a sense of being unwanted, forgotten, or even casted out.

 

Stryker nodded in acknowledgment, not moving his eyes off the Map, "Thank you Eagle." He looked up at Sun, "At least it's a lead to follow, taking a filly just to demand that two ponies lay down their badges and give up, there's too much that we don't know." Sun looked down at her hooves, which she fiddled with impatiently, "I hate this! All this standing around... Did my Brother say anything else?" She asked looking to Eagle.

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Gilded frowned at Trax. "I'm doing this to ensure their help. It's nothing to do with pride, that's what their problem is. I wouldn't put it past them to refuse to help if they know it's my 'common-pony' child that was lost. I'm not kidding. Soft Spot is a pretty mare that works for the Princesses, technically that makes her of higher status than them and they're more likely to help. And," his tone grew venomous, "don't you dare accuse me of turning my back on my fillies, any of them. You think I'm not ashamed to have not only let her be taken, but having to act like she isn't even mine? If this were anypony else I would desperately beg them to help me find my daughter. And if they ever see me again after this is over, I'll tell them the truth. I promise." At the last two sentences, his voice grew calmer and he sighed. "I just want to be sure they won't refuse to help."

 

Taking the thank you as an at-ease signal, Eagle relaxed and gave Sun his full attention. "Trax said to have Seven start patrolling for information. I'm guessing that's him?" He pointed a wing at the unfamiliar stallion.

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Trax narrowed his eyes at him for a moment, "I'll hold you to that." He said firmly as he folded his wings, "Soft Spot, you and I are married, and Pastel is our filly." He called to her, still keeping his eyes on Gilded, "Just forewarning, if they disrespect Soft Spot or You in front of me, I will personally make their lives a living Tartarus." He told him darkly before turning around and walking down stairs.

 

Seven perked up with excitement, "Ah am ready Miss Flare, You can count on me!" He exclaimed heroically. Sun looked at him oddly before she waved her hoof, "Get to it then." She said finally, dissming him. Seven dipped his head with a wave of his hat before running off. Sun walked over to Eagle and hugged him tightly, "Why would anypony kidnap a filly? It just doesn't make sense, why Her? Why not just come after Trax and I personally, better us than little Pastel."

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Soft Spot nodded, not even letting herself blush given the situation Gilded almost managed a smile. "I wouldn't mind it. Maybe they'd learn something." He let Soft Spot out ahead of him, then followed her out as well. "They live in a manor house on the edge of Caterlot, close to the train station. If we hurry, they might even still be awake and we won't just get the butler."

 

Eagle hugged Sun back, wrapping his wings around her. "I don't know. Lots of ponies like Gilded, maybe they were hoping to use this against you? Or maybe..." his expression turned grim and he looked away. "Maybe they'll threaten to hurt her if we interfere..."

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"Then I feel sorry for the Butler, cause we'll be speaking to them regardless." Trax said sternly as let Gilded take the lead, every step they took was one more second Pastel had to spend away from her family.

 

Sun shivered at the thought, "Don't say that...." Stryker cleared his throat loudly to get their attention, "Why don't you two help poor Seven search the streets, I could do without the negativity." He looked up, then glanced to the side at them, "Also, your sappy romantic mood is ruining my Old Rusty Vetern vibe." He told them grumpily.

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Gilded led them through town. It didn't take them too long to get there, especially with the few shortcuts Gilded knew, and soon they were galloping past the train station, and straight to the manor that loomed above them. The earth pony ran up to the door and knocked loudly on the door, then waited. After many long seconds, a tall grey pegasus in a suit opened the door. At first he looked almost bored, but when his eyes fell on Gilded, he looked shocked.

"Why, Master Gilded Mane, to what do we owe the surprise?" he asked, and though Gilded Helm looked annoyed at the name, he pushed the door open and forced the butler to move back.

"Hello Feather Back, where is my brother?"

"I shall go and fetch him for you, sir. He and your father were enjoying a dinner party. One moment, please." He bowed and backed away, then turned and went through a side door. Just before it closed behind him, there was the loud sound of many ponies laughing. It was only a few more minutes before the butler returned, a dapper stallion who looked everything like Gilded except for his unicorn horn and better-kept mane following behind him. When the unicorn saw Gilded, however, he grinned and stepped forward.

"Gilded Mane, it is you! I almost didn't believe Feather Brain when he said it! To what do I owe the pleasure?"

"We need your help-" Gilded began, but at the word "we", his brother looked around him and almost seemed to frown.

"Ah, yes, I see... Welcome to my home, dear ponies. And how may I assist you?" he asked, only slightly less than gracious.

 

"Heh, sorry Captain. Come on, Sun." Eagle unwrapped his wings from around her and turned to leave, holding the door open for her. A pair of guards passed by outside, one of them limping slightly due to a cut on his leg as he leaned on his companion. Both of them looked tired.

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Trax frowned, already he knew he wasn't going to like this Stallion, "Our Filly was kidnapped," He began, spreading a wing over Soft Spot, "Our who only clue is a piece of cloth, which carries a strong scent of cologne that on it. Gilded mentioned how familiar you are with cologne, said there was no finer expect than you." He bit back every ounce of annoyance as he spoke. 

 

"What happened to you two?" Sun asked curiously, a hint of concern sounded in her tone, her inner Medic started to come out.

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Gilded glanced at Trax in mild admiration at how he was keeping his cool. "These are my friends, Trax and Soft Spot. Soft works in the Castle for the Princesses, and is desperate to find this baby." At the mention of the Princesses, Golden perked up a bit.

"Oh, I see. I didn't realize the situation. Please, let's see the cologne.." The unicorn looked to his brother and held out a hoof. Gilded handed over the fabric, and Golden sniffed it. "Hm... I would have to say this is Play Pony, Play Pony X to be specific. It's not a very good scent, but some stallions think it makes them seem more appealing. What do you think, miss?" He asked, leaning forward to let Soft smell it. She pulled back, pressing against Trax's side as a fearful look crossed her face.

"U-um... No, it's uh, not good..." She stammered out. Golden nodded as if he felt validated.

 

The two guards jumped at the unfamiliar voice, but they relaxed when they saw Eagle beside her. The uninjured one spoke up. "Hiya Eagle, hello miss. We're uh... Not really sure what happened..."
"I saw somepony sneaking around outside, and I went to stop them," the other one cut in, "But when I yelled at them to halt, they ran past me real close. I don't think they drew a knife or anything, but something on them cut me real good. I didn't get a good look, and Quickling here wasn't about to leave me there alone to chase them down. I tried to make him, but he refused."

"They ran out into the grounds, away from the palace. That made you priority," Quickling huffed.

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Trax barely moved at all, his eyes fixated in Golden, "By 'Some', do you might know a few ponies who wear this cologne? Please, any information you can spare would be greatly appreciated by My Wife and I, Princess Celestia has also voiced her worry." He asked with a smooth father-like voice, making it seem like the Princesses were involved directly.

 

Sun glanced at Eagle, "Thats... strange, ironic coming from Me I know, but still that definitely requires looking into. Come on Eagle." She said hurriedly, grabbing Eagles tail with her magic and running off down the hall, her excitement for something to do had taken hold of her.

 

Meanwhile, Seven trotted out if the Castle grounds and onto the streets of Canterlot, he'd visited a time or two before, so the area wasn't too unknown to him. He decided he patrol the back alleyways first, seeing as how they'd be the most likely avenue of travel this late. Unknown to him, a young tan coated earth pony lay upon the roof of a nearby building, his crimson red eyes watched the strange unicorn with little interest, "Huh...."

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"Well of course I know a few. I know all the high-society ponies around here, and they're the only ones who could really afford it. Not that they'll like being accused of being involved in foal-napping BUT if it will help, then-"

"Golden Crown!" a deep, imposing voice called out. Coming out of the room where the dinner party was being held was a tall black unicorn, with a dark blue mane that looked similar to Stormy Night's in color. He looked down at the scene before him, and Gilded openly flinched at his voice.When the new arrival caught sight of the movement, he noticed his son. "And Gilded Mane... What are you both doing out here?" His eyes flitted to Soft Spot and Trax, and he dipped his head in a bow to them. "Good evening. What seems to be going on here?" Neither of the two white stallions seemed willing to speak up in his presence.

 

"Yeah it suRE WOAH-" He was caught off guard as he was suddenly dragged along by his tail. He looked back at his fellow guardsmen and called back "Bye Quickling, bye Nimble Hoof!" He then did his best to remain upright as he "followed" Sun.

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Trax took his wing off Soft Spot and stepped forward to stand before Gilded's Father, tilting his head just a bit to look into the tall unicorns eyes, dipping his head in greeting. Only noticing both of the brothers seemed to be cowering in their Fathers presence, till after he'd already moved. "Good Evening Sir, apologies to bother your household during an event, but the matter is urgent. Just hours ago, My filly was kidnapped from our home, and the only clue we have is the smell of cologne from cloth torn from the kidnappers clothing. Gilded," Trax gestured to Gilded as he spoke his name, "Suggested we speak with Golden Crown about the origin of the cologne. To our hopes, He knows it, and is willing to help us." Trax again Gesturing to whom he spoke of, "Really, both your Sons have been extremely helpful, and I am forever grateful for it. My Wife, she works closely with the Princesses, will make sure they are both named in My Daughters finding." Trax added that last bit as insurance, a sort cherry to dangle out for bait. He hadn't noticed till he had finished, that he'd slipped into his Thievery days, and started to play his part as a worried father. However, underneath all that emotion, he had cold heart of steel that wanted nothing more than make the kidnapper pay for ever touching Pastel in the first place. 

 

Sun whipped him around, "I'm not gonna sit in this castle while Pastel is away from her mother, we're going to chase down this stranger and find out what they know. Got it?" She told Eagle before she teleported them to the end of the Castle grounds.

 

The young tan coated earth pony lifted his head from resting on his hooves at the movement, his crimson red eyes seemed to glimmer with curiosity, "Now it's interesting...."

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The unicorn listened carefully, unmoving except for a twitch of his ear at certain words. When Trax was finished speaking, he nodded his head thoughtfully. "Very well. We can't let such an injustice stand, now can we? Golden Crown."

"Yes Father?"

"Continue with what you were going to do next to help them. Gilded Mane may stay to aid his friends, and I shall continue to entertain our guests. Feather Back, see to it that they are all well-fed. It won't do to search while hungry."
"Yes sir," the butler said with a bow, then turned to the group. His master then turned and walked back into the party without another word or even change in expression. As the door closed behind him, both brothers relaxed and Gilded let out a sigh of relief. Golden gave a soft "ahem" and spoke up finally.

"Well. I am going to gather some of these stallions, two of whom are here tonight, but there are two others who are not. I shall try to be discreet for my reasonings." He then trotted off, leaving them alone. Feather Back suggested giving them a side room to set up in, then led the way there.

 

"I wasn't suggesting anything about sitting around..." Eagle said as he chased her down. "I want to find her too." He skidded to a stop and started looking around for clues of where the mysterious pony had gone. As luck would have it, there were hoof prints in the mud. Eagle began to follow the ones leading away from the castle.

 

"Um, excuse me, sir?" A young voice called down the alley way to Seven. An older filly stood at the other end, her green eyes blinking at him. "What are you doing?"

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Trax leaned close to Gilded, "It will save us time if we ask if they've been here the past hours, and Golden can confirm that. The two who aren't here, we'll need addresses." 

 

Sun followed after him, glancing up to the surrounding rooftops as she felt an uncomfortable itch, but she saw nothing. She dismissed the thought and kept after Eagle.

 

Seven used his magic to tip his hat as he took a slight bow, "Good evening young lass, I am Seven Shot, I am looking for a young filly much younger than yourself. Have you seen any suspicious looking characters around with a young filly?"

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Gilded nodded, keeping his eyes on the door. After a few more minutes, Golden trotted in with two stallion next him, all laughing loudly. They stopped as they came into the room, wiping fake tears from their eyes. "Here they are, my two colleagues."

Gilded nodded to them. "Good evening sirs. Have you been enjoying the party?" The pair nodded.

"Such good business connections to be made," the one in a suit smiled. The other one, who worse only a collared shirt and tie, nodded in agreement.

 

Eagle followed the hoofprints into the town, where they faded and almost disappeared. But they stopped right in front of a large house with no lights on inside.

 

The filly smiled just a little, still uneasy at the stranger lurking around her home. But she thought about it and nodded. "I heard a baby crying and went to the window to see what was up. Somepony in a black trench coat was running up the street, with the baby in a carrier on his back. I didn't think it was important. I'm sorry..."

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Trax bit back his growing annoyance, "We'll make this quick, and Golden can confirm this for us, Have both of you been here for the past few hours?" He asked simply.

 

"10 bits says we find something in here." Sun giggled as she nudged Eagle.

 

Seven perked up, "Really now? Which direction did they go? That poor filly has been kidnapped!" He asked hurriedly.

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Both of the two ponies looked a bit taken aback, but they both nodded, and Golden nodded too. "Dimitri was a bit late, but both have been here nearly since we began." He gestured to the pony without a suit coat as he said it.

 

"I sure hope so," Eagle said with a sigh. He stepped quietly up to the door and tried the knob. Locked. He stood on his back legs and peered through the window, but it was pitch black.

 

The little pony gasped, looking close to tears. "O-oh no, I'm so sorry. He um... He went that way." She pointed a hoof down the road to the north-east.

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