Rose - 2014-05-15-18 - Nightmare and a Party

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A windy night in Ponyville. A fine mist of drizzle floats through the air as the rumblings of thunder echo in the distance. Silent hoofalls trample flowers in the garden of a sleeping flower merchant. With a distant flash of lightning, the silhouette of a hooded figure stands looming over Rose through her window as she sleeps soundly in bed...

          Sounds of laughing foals fill the air of the park one pleasant   
          afternoon. Rose stands on the grass smelling a beautiful wild    
          flower as ponies pass by talking and laughing. The sky soon      
          darkens however, and laughter turns to wailing and crying before 
          fading all together. The wind picks up, whipping the mare's mane 
          and tail wildly in the breeze. Looking up, Rose realizes she's   
          alone in the dark field now. Nothing by deep blue and green grass
          as far as her panicked eyes can see. Upon further look, the      
          flower she once admired is now a twisted bramble in a batch of   
          brown and black dirt. With a gasp, the florist jumps back,       
          turning to run, but unable to do so. Her eyes dart back and forth
          before her eyes pick up on a growing buzzing sound making it's   
          way towards her from all sides. The now black skies now show tiny
          dots of green. Pairs of eyes growing closer and closer. The      
          buzzing is now ear piercing. Rose ducks down to cover her head,  
          trying her hardest to shield herself from what comes. She doesn't
          see her attackers. She just feels them drawing from her body.    
          It's painless in the dream, but she knows she should scream. She 
          can't scream. She's too weak. What's happening? Rose's breathing 
          quickens as she starts to sweat more and more until she's sopping
          wet from tip to tail. The chitter of her fears fills her ears    
          until....                                                        

Rose sits up in bed, panic stricken and indeed sopping wet. The window in her bedroom is open and the rain has blown in on her. The window is open...


A small, but very vocal crowd of ponies is gathered around the entrance to the an otherwise nondescript home, on the outskirts of Ponyville, many holding signs in protest: 'We're not food!' 'Changelings go home!' 'Beware changelings!' Many of them have a certain... lethargicness about them - some are even using their signs' handles as canes to lean on, while others lean on each other for support. Between chants, there's a lot of hugging going on, and a few sniffles as the weaker ponies break down into tears. From inside the house, Bubblegum frets, looking out the window. It's got the usual sorts of party munchies set up inside on folding tables--not the sort of lavish production Pinkie Pie would put on, but more than adequate for a housewarming party. But with those angry, hurt ponies outside, it doesn't look like anyone's going to reach them.

Rose is one of the weaker ponies gathered in the crowd - her mane and coat are a matted mess, and tears stream down her face. She holds no sign, but she joins in with a hoarse voice when the chanting starts. "We're not food! We're not f-food!" she cries, her breath hitching for a moment before she breaks down into stifled sobs, moving to lay down on her stomach where she is, covering her face with her forehooves.

Draft Punk had been out for one of his short walks when he comes across this Commotion. He pauses about twenty feet away, staring down at the crowd, and then at the rather nondescript house, and then back once more in bafflement. one ear twitches sideways as he considers his option, long tail dragging a little as he flicks it slowly. "Hrn..."

Dinah comes clip-clopping along to the housewarming, only to find an angry mob. She frowns and draws near, picking a random pony to talk to. Conveniently, it's Rose. She leans in close. "Are you okay there, dearie? I don't think anything is planning on eating you."

Crystal Clear, meanwhile, looks over the crowd of ponies as he passes on his way through. The incredibly sparkily stallion currently in a dress as he heads on through. "Wow, I havn't seen this many ponied angry at something sence the first days of Sombra... of course that anger eventually turned to crushing defeat after the incident, but, eah." he says as he trots on through. Not one to let something like a pony with a blade, several feet of stone, or an angry mob stop him from doing something as he heads on through the front door... of course all the protestors could see him doing this as well.

Clockwork Coil comes across the house wearing a larger pair of saddlebags than usual, having brought a housewarming gift by for Bubblegum and her 'friends'. Seeing the picketing mob, she huffs and puffs her cheeks out, looking quite dissapproving. The usualy cheerful and easy going mare, rearing up to her full size (another oddity), starts to push her way through the crowd. Though she appologises for each bump and shove, her voice is curt and short.

So it is head held high that she emerges from the front of the crowed, and simply knocks on the door. She wasn't hiding what she was doing, quite the opposite she was being rather brazen about it, as well as brazen about disregarding everypony's angry... lethargic.. chanting! Spotting Crystal, and seeing what seems to be a friendly face, she flashes him a cheerful smile and back to her usual demeanor, chirps up. "Hello. Here for the housewarming too?"

Bubblegum brightens as a a couple of ponies brave the angry mob, hurrying over to the door and opening it. "Hi! I'm Bubblegum! Come on in!" It then raises its voice, still speaking at Crystal and Clockwork but pitching its voice at the cheap seats. "I'm showing anyone who wants to come in around the place, as long as they behave!"

A flare of light reveals the arrival of another pony. One who's getting attention to herself as with flared wings the Princess of Ponyville steps forwards from the edge of the crowd of unfriendly ponies. Decked out for the event in full regalia and dress, her tiara at her head, and with her horn aglow with magic, she is -very much- attracting attention.

Draft Punk peers at the crowd, and then at Bubblegums' offer. He looks the door over, to see if he would FIT. He flicks his tail again and starts to clop heavily forwards, not indicating either way which way he felt. A pause at the flash, and he looks over, dipping his head politely to Twilight Sparkle.

Rose lifts her muzzle slightly, as if it takes considerable effort to do so, peeking out from behind her hooves. As she looks up at Dinah, even bleary-eyed, it's clear she's lost a lot of colour. Not just in her fur, but even her eyes - their once brilliant green faded to something very pastel. The expression on her face screams 'I need a hug!', but she simply replies weakly, "It's.. a bit late for that." She pays no mind to those approaching the house itself, but when the door opens and a *very* familiar voice comes out, the mare turns to glare daggers at it, almost leaping to her hooves. "You!" she seethes, though her voice is still so weak it may hardly carry over the crowds.

Dinah immediately bows to the princess upon sight of her. Once that's done, she reacts to the expression on Rose's face, strong forelegs curling around the earth pony in a warm hug. "Bubblegum is a nice pony, Rose. That's all I've ever seen from it."

Crystal Clear looks over toward Clockwork, "I guess so! I was invited to a party, So here I am with plenty of booze!" weither it was a gift or not was still to be determined as he grins, looking toward Bubblegum as he smiles, and once again says, "I brought the booze!" as he lifts up one of his hooves before looking over at the sudden flash of light, "Ohh hey, it's purple! And she's wearing metal... ohh, I'll never understand their fashion sence." he says as he rubbs over the frilly dress he himself is wearing... though he is more than feminine enough to rock it.

Bubblegum gestures Crystal into the house, then makes room for Clockwork and Draft to make their way in as well, even if it gives the latter an odd look for his choice of garb. If it heard Rose's protest, or noticed Twilight's arrival, it gives no sign.

Scarlet Comet arrives later than she hoped, running fast, "Ahh! Clockwork!" she says, rushing toward Clockwork Coil, panting when she finally arrives, "S-soory." she says, smiling, "I-I got... too distracted... painting... forgot time..." she says, speaking in between pants. She then lifts her head and swallows, before looking around, "Has it started yet...?"

Twilight Sparkle offers a smile to those that nod or otherwise bow to her. The Princess' face is showing concerne, but she's doing her best to 'Walk Like Celestia Does'. Not exactly but step by step she gently makes her way between ponies protesting outside the building, before .. against the renewed protests saying that she shouldn't go in .. walks up towards the door of the building.

Clockwork Coil gives a dissapproving look at the crowd of ponies again when bubbelgum addresses them, but doesn't vocalize it. Leastwise not until she spots the librarian Princess making her approach. Between the Princess' stunning gown and Crystal's own choice of attire, she can't help but start to feel decidedly undressed. Smiling to Crystal, she turns to the door and says "Whats wrong with that? Oooh I have to get changed now."

A bronzeglow wraps around her saddlebags, as she moves tos tep inside, saying "Is this the place Bubblegum? Its huge! Here, I brought a housewarming gift." It was a rendition of Queen Chrysalis, wraught in some black metal with jade stone eyes, seated in a noble, dignified fashion. There's a light ticking coming from it, and the regal figurine head continually turns back and forth, as though surveying the room. "I... uhm.. don't have ALOT of experience with.. the subject." she says, offering it out. "I-I hope it's allright.". Mostly, she hopes it can serve to cheer Bubblegum up!

Thats when the sound of someone familiar comes over the crowed. Rearing up to peer, Coil smiles as she spots her roommate, giving a cheerful wave and disregarding the mob with admiral disdain. "Hey Scarlet! You made it. I just got here myself. C'mon."

Bubblegum takes the object from Clockwork, blinks, then smiles. "It's very nice! Thank you!" It puts the... nodding queen toy?... into the main room, leaving the door open, and sets it down on a generic coffee table for now.

Rose shudders slightly, trembling with the rush of adrenaline, but she can't help but lean into the hug, feeling very confused and betrayed as she watches the stream of ponies trickle in. The protesters continue to be vocal, but otherwise peaceful - not impeding anyone from entering even if they disagree with it.

The mare's coat is sticky with long-cooled sweat - she may not have even showered in the past few days. "N-no, you weren't there!" she whines quietly to Dinah, between wracked sobs, "*It* did this to me, I'm sure of it!" The nightmare, the rain, the open window in her room... and an all-too-familiar feeling when she woke up. A feeling she hoped she'd never have to experience again.

Draft Punk was still considering at this, when some of the ponies shouting at him started to get on his nerves. He flicks his ears back, and abruptly lifts a gargantuan hoof. *BOOM*

After the dust started to settle, he rumbled, projecting his musically-practiced voice towards a "Not all creatures can represent all of their kind. THere are good, and there are bad. Just as there are good and bad ponies, so there are good and bad dragons, fish, Changelings and others. Remember that." he turns to stare at them, and then with a luxurious swish of his ground-length mane and tail, turns to thump heavily towards the door, ducking his head to enter.

The crowds stand stunned for a few moments - the chanting stops, and they look at each other nervously while Draft Punk moves to enter the building. That's at least shut them up for now, and they murmur at each other, trying to figure out what to do next.

Dinah pouts as Rose goes on, nuzzling at the mare some. "I..don't know what happened to you. I'm sorry something happened. But..I'm gonna go inside now. Bubblegum is my friend." Another nuzzle and she turns to head that way. She pauses with that thud, but continues on her way after a little while, long ears folding back.

Crystal Clear gives a gleefull smile both to Bubblegum and Clockwork, Seeing as how unless someone knew, they would be unable to tell that he was either a mare or stallion... actually it's like how Bubblegum is structured, without the incredibly thick bowlcut covering his eyes of course. He then looks to Scarlet as he gives a smile, "Ohh, your Clockwork's friend? I'm Crystal Clear!" the crystal pony exclaims.

Bubblegum's eyes widen as Draft Punk strikes the earth, though it's looking in the wrong direction to see what caused everything to shake. It does, however, look in the right direction in time to catch the giant horse's defense, which causes it to smile and wipe its eyes.

Scarlet Comet jumps a bit at Draft Punk's hard hitting on the ground and then his speech, and she blinks, before looking at the crowd. Damn, I hope they don't ruin the night... She adjusts her dress a bit, that she hastily put on, but still managed to look decent in it, but noticed Clockwork has already slipped in. Still outside, Scarlet sighs, before approaching Bubblegum, "Erm... may I come in, please?"

Clockwork Coil steps further into the building, mostly to distance herself from the crowd. Bubblegum gets a polite nod as she sets her saddlebags down and says "I'm glad you like it. Hold on.. I think I need a better dress." There's a flash of bronze light, and the little mare is nowhere to be seen. Only someone payign close attention, or familiar with her would notice the mouse sized mare climbing inside the discarded sacks.

Twilight gives Draft a steady look, as the stallion moves past her to enter the building, the Princess having turned around to look at the gathered ponies. She's not quite sure that such helped. "Please return to your homes. There is no danger to ponies here," she calls out to the crowd, and then turns towards the building again, a smile offered towards Bubblegum.

Rose's muzzle hangs open as she faults, trying to find words. She was *really* enjoying that hug - more than she should have, and then she spots her: The princess! She needs to know, to be warned! The flower mare reaches out towards her with a forehoof, but the words die in her throat as she watches the crowd start to disperse, leaving her alone - so very alone, weak, and vulnerable. All she can do is stand there, trying to formulate some kind of strategy. She has to find a way to get to Twilight, without being caught by the others - this could be very... difficult.

Scarlet Comet notices one of the mares from the dispersing crowd looking quite distraught, and she blinks softly. She frowns a bit, and decides get inside later, but now she moves to approach the sad mare, "Excuse me? Is there anything I can do to help?" she asks softly, tilting her head a bit toward the flower mare.

Dinah continues inside the changeling's home, following after ponies after another backward glance toward Rose, nodding when she sees the mare getting somepony else to help her. She nips a small box from out of her heavy saddlebags, leaving it on a table once inside, the wrapped package containing a book on the history of Equestrian architecture.

Draft Punk flicks his tail one last time at the crowd as he entered carefully, peering around the interior at the others "Ahh. Good evening." he notes, now a bit sheepish after his display. He furls his wings as tightly as he could to keep them out of the way, moving to an outside wall.

Crystal Clear watches as the mare he was addressing walk on away as he crooks his head slightly, "Well you'll have to introduce me to her latter coi- uhm, Coil?" he asks as he looks around for her... before looking down as notices the sack, "Well I'll carry in her stuff, so she won't be missing it!" he exclaims before picking up Coil's sack (with her in it) and bringing it on inside, he dose sit it on the table for a moment to ask, "So Bubblegum, where's all the Changleing (Yes, he says it like that) stuff? I thought it would be all green in here, don't you spit goey stuff to make things with?

As Rose is left alone, by a crowd starting to disperse, the Princess happens to glance back only to catch sight of the one mare who's apparently left alone. Hmm? She turns back, a curious glance given Rose's way.

A few minutes pass, and there's a wiggle from her saddlebags. Its when the bags are settled down that she finally starts to climb out. Another bronze FLASH, and Coil regrows under her saddlebags, literally growing INTO them. A trick she's practiced many times... just... not usually balanced on a table. "Okay ba~aaawaaaaAUGH!" THe unstable footing takes her by surprise, and so in a full flowing, sprocket lined high society dress, she does the most rediculous 'flailing balance dance' on the table, and promptly falls onto either the floor, or anypony unlucky enough to be in her way. x.o

Shoot - she has to be careful now. Her eyes plead as she notices Twilight hesitating and looking at her - yes! She really needs to talk to her, but not in *there*. Resisting the urge to tackle Scarlet Comet and squeeze her like a teddy bear - where did *that* come from? - Rose shakes her head softly, pretending to yawn, "No no, I... I better get going, too," she fibs, offering a weak smile and turning to start walking, slowly, away from the overly-nondescript 'home'. Please don't follow her - please don't follow her... this has to look natural. Of course, the mare is overthinking everything, her steps deliberate, almost plodding as she whistles innocently to herself.

Draft Punk blinks at the bang and his ears flick again. THe loud noise doesnt really bother him anymore as he watches Coil appear out of almost nowhere. He does though, stare a bit at her "How di dyou DO THAT? " he asks with sudden intensity, thumping forwards two steps to be next to her.

Twilight is not the most empathic of ponies. Pinkie would see right through Rose. Twilight, on the other hand, gives a sort of confused nod. She watches the mare seem to retreat, though doesn't turn away. Not yet. She just watches Rose move away from her, a silver-slippered hoof touched to her cheek in thought.

Scarlet Comet blinks softly, and tilts her head, arching one eyebrow, "Wait, hold on." she says. Where Twilight seems to have hesitated, Scarlet presses on, and she hurries her steps to catch up to Rose, "Hey, what's wrong? Nopony gets that distraught for nothing. Soemthing must be bugging you." interesting choice of words, "I just want to try to help you." she says, offering a smile.

Dinah goes wide-eyed at Clockwork Coil's reappearance, moving in as Draft Punk does, offering herself as a more comfortable place to land than the floor, a sturdy grey jenny to land on. "Are you okay there, dearie?'

Crystal Clear looks back toward Clockwork, just missing her reappear, "Ohh hey, there you are! Why are you on a donkey... is this a pony custom I don't know of?" he asks with a smile before pulling a big bottle of what looks like a sparkling, clear liquid out of his saddlebags and sits it on the table. ... litterally, it looks like it's filled with a glitter of some sort.

Rose bites her tongue, her eyes closing briefly as she curses under her breath, stopping in her tracks. She needs an excuse, "I, uh - you know how Ponyville is! I've just been feeling... under the weather," she says, supressing a shudder as flashes of that nightmare resurface - darkness, rain, lightning, and... *them*. Swarms of them, green eyes and all. "I don't even know why I'm here-gottogoyougohavefun-" she rambles, before taking off at a quicker pace, fighting back tears.

Clockwork Coil winces lightly and rubs her head sheepishly, pushing back up to her hooves, with a little help. "S-sorry. Thank you Dinah. Somepony put my saddlebags on a table. I really need to watch where I grow.". She had a light blush slowly fading on her cheeks as she gives a reassuring smile to Dinah, and she takes a moment with hoof and magic alike to get her dress back in order, even down to making sure she hadn't lost any adornments. This was her nicest dress after all! Crystal just gets a wry smirk.. as she thought he was simply being funny.

Her eye glances outside, spotting Twilight and Scarlet both as Rose begins to take off into the sunset. Perhaps itw asn't entirely fair, but she really had little sympathy for the ponies that seemed so opposed to giving things a chance. Trotting over towards the door and sticking her head out, she waves and calls, "Scarlet! Twilight. Aren't you coming in?"

Scarlet Comet blinks as the other mare just takes off again, and she is met with a loss of words, mumbling incoherent words, as she looks at the event, then back at the retreating rose. Said back-and-forth happens a couple more times before she hangs her head in defeat, "I hate my conscience, sometimes..." she grumbles, smacking her forehead with a hoof a couple times, before taking off after Rose, Clockwork's words not reaching Scarlet's ears, unfortunately. "Wait!" Scarlet calls out to Rose, "Calm down, I just want to talk! I just want to help!"

Draft Punk frowns as he gets ignored by Clockwork Coil, and then calls after her " I will ask again later when you are not busy." And then he turns back to the host, dipping his head "And your name, miss? "he asks, assuming Bubblegum was female as he swishes his tail again.

Dinah nods with Coil's words. "No problem, dearie. Just watch where you step, as it were." She offers the mare a warm smile, looking around again.

As Rose runs away, and she's called to from the inside of the house, Twilight makes a note to mention something to Pinkie. That mare is not doing well. She turns away, moving into the house and folding her wings at her side. She doesn't like being all dressy and garbed up, but for tonight - it was needed.

Crystal Clear smirks back toward clockwork... he didn't know why they were smirking toward each other, but it was fun! He also looks over toward Twilight, and waves toward her, "Ohh Purple! Why are you wearing metal?" he asks pretty straitforwardly.

Panicking, Rose takes off at full speed, her mane streaking behind her. "I'mokayreallythankshaveagoodnight!" she calls back without looking, then rounds a corner behind a building, out-of-sight for a brief moment. Desperate, the mare spots the perfect hiding spot - there's a stack of empty cardboard boxes, and one looks just big enough...

And with that, she's gone. Nothing there but a pile of haybales, some boxes, and a few more alleys she could have darted into.

Clockwork Coil smiles as Twilight at least comes back, saying "Hello Twilight. Lovely dress!" in her usual cheery demeanor. She pauses briefly to watch Scarlet head off after Rose, and with a perplexed blink, actually takes a step to go after her. But, she pauses, and glances back at the party, nibbling her lip. Nnmf... it wasn't so much about being at a party, as it was being there for Bubblegum.

One last conflicted double take, and she says "Scarlet will be fine.." to herself, if a little uncertainly. Turning and heading back into the room, she comes up behind, andthen along side twilight, heading for the refreshments table.

Bubblegum has gotten a bit distracted, what with ponies going this way and that, and not had the time to do more than direct someone toward the cookies and punch by the door. (Someone familiar with changeling taste buds will note the sugar at the party is downplayed; present, yes, but in fruit and juice instead of frosting and soda.) "Okay! Grab what you want; we're going downstairs in a minute!" it says, smiling brightly, if harriedly.

Draft Punk frowns, and then looks conflicted. His ears flick back and forth quickly in agitation and confusion as he moves back to the wall, frowning deeply as he did so. He sits, carefully - his hoof falls much gentler now on the floor as the large pony merely watches.

Crystal Clear smiles, "Ohh, will we see the green goop stuff there?" Crystal asks quite blatently as he takes the drink he left on the counter... and upturns it as he gives a few, big gulps!

Scarlet Comet runs after Rose, but after turning a corner... damn. The mare's gone. Scarlet blinks softly, panting a little bit, but she walks in, looking around for a few moments, before sighing. "Lost her..." she grumbles, her head hanging a bit low. "There is something clearly bothering her... scrap." she says, shaking her head before turning around and slowly making her way back toward the event location, her mind now pondering if she should try again to get inside... or just give it up and go home, now.

Dinah perks tall grey ears as she listens to Bubblegum, smiling and nodding. "Downstairs sounds good. It'll tell me if I need to come back for a more formal inspection at least."

Clockwork Coil perks at the mention of going downstairs, and the excited beaming grin starts to creep back. Now THIS was exciting. Almost dancing on her forehooves, she starts levitating a rather... large... assortment of sweets, balancing a tray on her back with her magic. She would almost look like a super fancy waitress, if not for the fact she would be constantly nibbling on things from it.

Hearing the mention of 'green goop', and thinking back to a distant burger joint conversation about changeling hive's, she can barely hold in a squeal. "Eee... I'm so excited. I've never seen a changeling structure before!", she says in a hushed voice, carrrying only to the ponies enarby.

Draft Punk pauses at that and looks up and over at Bubblegum. "Down... stairs? " he suddenly looked VERY uncomfortable. He looked at the staircase in question uncertainly.

Rose does her best to stay still inside the box, peering out from one of the open handle-flaps at Scarlet. She holds her breath, her heart pounding in her ringing ears from the exertion. Exertion she shouldn't be trying when she's already... exhausted. All she can think of is Twilight, and all the other ponies in that building... it must be a trap! The changelings have built this completely normal looking house... *too* normal, too perfect, and invited everypony over for tea and sandwiches *with a side of draining*. No - she's not going to let them get the Princess; she has to warn them, to save them!

Allowing herself quiet breaths from the air trapped in the box with her - Celestia, she *really* needs a shower - Rose stares intently at her pursuer, willing her to leave, to save herself... don't join the others in that building, lady! All the while, in the back of her mind, she begins to formulate a plan. This box could come in very handy, indeed.

Bubblegum gives Dinah an odd look at that. "Uh, I thought you did all that already. Or someone did." Glancing at Crystal, it then calls, "Okay, everyone follow me!" and leads the way toward the back of the house, where the stairs to the basement are.

The change in architectures is stark, shifting from normal wooden pony stairs to constructs of stone and resin. The space is filled with mazelike walls, though it's not a true maze, more a way of making the space look smaller than it actually is, cutting off sight lines. Just heading away from the stairs will get people to the space Bubblegum's set out with more snacks by one of several routes.

Draft Punk watches the others depart downstairs, leaving himself alone upstairs. He fidgets, and walks to the top of the stairs to look down carefully.

Scarlet Comet is walking toward the event place, but when she arrives.. it's empty? "Huh?" she blinks softly, standing still outside, but cannot see a single pony in there, "What the...?" she tilts her head softly, as she peers inside through one of the windows, wondering where everypony went, not yet noticing the only remaining pony, who is in the back rooms, where the stairwell is.

Crystal Clear smiles happily as he continues down, "So, BG! Your an important Changleing now ain't ya... with your new, huge house and your fancy position and all, should I be kissing your hooves or something?" he asks with a giggle as he continues trotting with the rest, occasionally offering the bottle to the ponies nearby.

Dinah passes on offered bottle. She nods with Bubblegum's words, though. "I was here already, yeah. But things have become a lot more green since then, don't you know. You've still been hard at work down here it looks like. If everything looks fine and stable, that's great. If not, I'll be back somtime soon with all my measuring tools."

Clockwork Coil is following along behind the group, relatively quiet if awestruck. It was like a filly from the big city walking through a cave of crystal for the first time. Pure... awe. Even truely insignificant things seem to attract her astonishment. When her mouth wasn't full of food, it was hanging open, and heaven forbid she finds any reflective resin at eye level, she'll be like a bird in a mirror for at least a minute!

Draft Punk turns to head back to the main room after the rest had departed, and pauses, noticing a Pony looking in the window. INtrigued he turns to open the door.

Bubblegum blushes at Crystal's praise. "Awwww. That's so sweet! But I'm only in charge of this project. Oh hi!" it adds, waving to a couple of changelings that are standing near the food like it ain't no thang.

Rose sighs in relief when she's left alone, and crawls out from the box. Now, let's see... grabbing a nearby twig and dipping it in a spot of mud, she does her best to try and mouthwrite on the outside of the box, somewhat messily:

To: Bubblegum Surprise Gift! DO NOT OPEN UNTIL AFTER PARTY

Admiring her handiwork, she touches a forehoof to her chin, twig still in her teeth, then adds: 'FRAGILE. THIS SIDE UP.' "There, this'll totally work," she mumbles to herself, tossing the twig aside and crawling back underneath. The next few moments are predictable - the box shuffles quietly towards the corner, and, making sure the coast is clear, said box makes its way towards the house, pausing to hide behind each and every tree along the way. Once at the doorstep, however, there's a bit of hesitation. "C'mon, Rose - you can do this. You're saving the Princess!" she whispers to herself, and, steeling her nerves, peeks out for a quick second to rap her forehoof on the door, knocking, before diving back into the box to wait, pulling the bottom flaps as closed as possible.

Twilight seems content to keep an eye upon the party, without mingling too much. Awkward princess, after all. She's caught up a few of the treats on a plate to nibble on.

Crystal Clear giggles, "Awww, but you've been working so hard though, and isn't this, like, a really big project?" he asks before looking over toward the Changelings, and gives a wave! The sparkily, delic-err, pretty Crystal pony not seeming to mind being around so many Changelings.

Dinah joins in waving to nearby changelings, offering them a warm smile. "Welcome to Ponyville. Unless you already lived here, I suppose. Well, welcome anyway." She gives a firm nod and turns to keep following, a few snacks snagged along the way for nibbling purposes as she looks around.

Scarlet Comet blinks as apparently there is someone left in the place. "Um... hello?" she says to the tall Draft Punk. Approaching him, she tilts her head and asks, "Is the party over already?" she asks, confused, "Thsi place is... empty." she asks, rubbing the back of her head. Of course, then there's a knock by the door.

Draft Punk opens it carefully and backs up "They all went downstairs. And I uh... can't use stairs." the pony explains sheepishly. He points in that direction "Down there if you wanted to join them." He had closed the door, then blinks, and reopens it at the knocking. "... Yes? Hello? " he looks around, confused, then down at the box. A blink, and then he carefully picks it up and moves it inside, putting it by the table so it would be seen.

Clockwork Coil really is like a filly, giddy just looking, and wandering, around! She certainly doesn't seem troubled being in a place where the halls are twisty and break line of sight all the time, or she's surrounded by chitinous beings some in the town faer. Quite the opposite, she looks absolutely delighted!

Making something of a part circle aroundt he room, she winds up coming along behind Bubblegum, saying with a cookie dangling from her mouth. "Thsh plse lksh hyuge." ~chomp~ "How big issit Bubblegum?"

Bubblegum smiles cheerily at Clockwork. "It's pretty big!" it says. "I can't tell you exactly how big, though. This room here is just to, um... give folks an idea of what the real super awesome fun club is like. But that part's secret."

Scarlet Comet blinks softly at the big pony, "Can't use stairs? How come?" she asks, tilting her head softly, a bit surprised at the admission she just heard, "Is that some phobia...?" she wonders, while watching the guy bring a box inside, "What's in the box?"

Draft Punk errms "Its' a bit of an embarassing thing." he notes to the Mare, then shrugs his wings "I do not know. Its for Bubblegum though. Its rather heavy, and a little bit wobbly. They didnt pack it well." he criticizes "Anyways. I am ahh, disabled."

Thankfully it seems the strongest pony there is the one that *picks her up* - doing the 4-way splits, Rose clings to the sides of the box for dear life so she doesn't fall out of the unsupported bottom. Once set down, she settles back on the floor inside, trembling. That could have gone really, *really* bad. Okay, she's inside - now, where is she? She peers out from the handle-flap again, trying to get a (very limited) view of the room, only to overhear that same voice again. No! You silly mare, you should have gone home!

Wait, what was that? 'What's in the box?' Ohnonono. Please read the labels. Please honour the labels. It says don't open until after! Rose tries not to hyperventilate. Now's also not the time to think about her claustrophobia, nope.

Clockwork Coil nnmphs, nibbling along a kiwifruit as she glances around 'Seeee-kret'. She says as though talking about something tempting, enticing. She'd turned away before that curious gleam in her eye sparkled. She wasn't even really socializing, just.. wandering around and looking. Curious, amazed... she doesn't... entirely watch where she's going. In fact, if nobody stops here, she's liable to wander off somewhere quite aimlessly.

Twilight Sparkle steps over to Bubblegum, a smile lingering on her face. "I think you've done well, actually. The construction seems sturdy. If you end up having any trouble from the Ponyville ponies, please let me know, okay?"

Dinah flicks an ear at that 'secret' word, and a frown crosses her face. She gives the princess a quick look before regarding Bubblegum again. "Secret, you say? That..sounds sort of suspicious, I hope you know."

Scarlet Comet tilts her head softly, inspecting the crate, "Damn. As an artist, this box is really a sore sight." she says, walking around the box and examining the penmanship. "It looks like it was too hastily made. Bleh." she shakes her head, "Anyways, I can bring it to the party pony downstairs, then. You sure you would not like a hoof getting downstairs? I'm pretty sure one of my platforms could support you." she offers to the big pegasus.

"... Platform? " asks the Pegasus "I am quite heavy, heavier than I look. I /would/ like to join, although being Gatekeeper is not bad either." he remarks to Scarlet Comet. "WE could just call back and say there's a package here too." he adds.

The way to get from the first sublevel, the sort of mockup Bubblegum's put together, into the rest of the nest is well hidden. You have to know where it is and perform a specific magical manipulation to reveal it, and the level is constructed so as to simultaneously make it easy to slip off and do so unnoticed and hard to discover the secret by following someone who knows it. But that doesn't mean Clockwork's going to be permitted full rein to absently blunder into it. "Excuse me," one of the changelings buzzes, standing in front of her, "but the party is back that way."

Bubblegum smiles at Twilight, then turns its attention to Dinah, frowning. "Is it? Is it really? Does every pony have to, at all times, tell every other pony exactly what is in every inch of their homes?"

Rose's eyes go wide as she overhears the other ponies planning. She sprawls again to a very unladylike stance inside the box, ready to cling to the sides again if she's lifted. Well. Stairs. Trying to get down the stairs herself *would* be pretty hard. But it's not Bubblegum she's after, it's Twilight... the holes in her plan are becoming apparent, now - just how does she expect to get to Twilight on her own, without anypony else seeing her? What does she do if she's caught? *When* she's caught - no, no, can't think of that. Though she is also lacking an *escape* plan... maybe if she just sits in the box forever, eventually the other guests will leave and Bubblegum's attention will be elsewhere and she can dart out the door...

That sounds appealing alre- no! Bad Rose; you have to warn the Princess and save everypony first! Thankfully nopony is in the dark box with her, or they could watch the myriad of expressions play out on her face as she mentally argues with herself.

Crystal Clear smiles as he lounges on Bubblegum, "Ohhhh, secret? I love secrets! Seeeeeeecrets!" he exclaims as he raises his bottle, "What do you do? Hold secret game touniments, craft resin sculptures, have exclusive underground fighting rings, throw incredible parties, make special food-" It seems that Crystal will go on and on and on.

Scarlet Comet smiles to Draft Punk, "My platforms are pretty sturdy." she says, and she summons one, letting it float in mid-air, at around knee level. "Come on, step on it, let's see if it can hold you up." she says, nodding gently. The platform holds, if Draft steps on it. Meanwhile, she wraps her telekinesis on the box and lifts it off the ground, gently. "I am *really* curious about what's in this box, whoever packed it was in a hurry, and had no finesse whatsoever..."

Dinah sighs, walking over to nuzzle at Bubblegum a moment. "I don't mean any harm, dearie, I promise. Changelings are still new around here, and a lot of ponies are still really nervous. You saw some nervous ponies outside. They won't like hearing about secret rooms."

Clockwork Coil might look odd, if not outright suspicious with how interested she was in everything. It really did come from an innocent place but.. well... it was while she was following a wall, not watching where she was going, that she bumps into a changeling. One evidently intent on directing her back. She blshes bashfully and says "Hmm? Oh! S-sorry!." Rubbing her mane sheepishly she giggles, "I'm kinda scatterbrained. Welcome to the neighborhood tho! This is a really beautiful..." and she was off again. Well leastwise it would be hard to mistake her for ill intentioned, as friendly as she was being.

"I'm sure that it'll be alright. After all, no pony asks me what I've got in my basement. Well, that is, the root cellar of the Library." Twilight knows that putting a good light on this whole affair is going to be essental to making it work. Making the first significant steps towards integration.

Draft Punk watches this and states "I will try the platform then. And ... do you sell those?" he asks hopefully. With some care, he climbed aboard one, the difficulty obvious in how he moved his limbs to do so, ensuring he didnt bump the box either "Perhaps they were late for something urgent."

Bubblegum sighs softly, nuzzling Dinah back, enjoying the attention. (And Crystal's nice and cozy too.) "Sure they will. It saves them the trouble of making up something bad for me to be doing." Ouch. Bitter much?

Rose bites her tongue and clings for dear life again when the box she's in is levitated. One hoof starts to slip, but she recovers, barely, beads of sweat dripping from her brow. Scarlet Comet may notice that this box is pretty heavy, since she's levitating another pony and all. All she can hope is that her magic is focused on the box itself and not into trying to pry into its contents somehow. Maybe there's a storage room, or a bathroom, or *somewhere* out of the way she can be put without being the centre of attention. Well, she might end up in the bowels of the changeling lair and that would totally not be what she wanted at all-ohmysweetCelestia this could get *way, way worse*. Like possible death worse. The mare goes slackjaw, pupils shrinking to pinpricks, as visions of surprised, and *angry* changelings discovering her inadvertently infiltrating their hideout play out in her head.

Meanwhile, the changeling who stopped Clockwork from wandering off continues to stop her from wandering off, somewhat discreetly keeping her within a certain radius of the party room without making it clear which direction, specifically, is the Bad Direction.

Scarlet Comet smiles, "No, I can't sell those. They're part of my magic." she says, nodding once the taller pegasus is atop the platform. "Would you like to sit or lay down? Might make it easier to move the platform." she offers with a smile as she heads toward the stairs, 'box' floating next to her.

Draft Punk pauses to think "... I think I can manage to sit yes." he does so, and ducks his head for the low doorway to wait, looking rather awkward. "And I am sorry you cannot sell them. I would have LOVED one."

Dinah sighs and nuzzles at the pink pony a bit more. "I know, dearie. Things can be hard sometimes. Just..keep trying. Always keep trying. Be as friendly as you can, work hard, and everything will be okay."

Crystal Clear smiles, and moves to hug Bubblegum, "-Where you keep your very special guests, where you hang out and talk to each other in a way that would make our minds explode, Where you polish each other, where your secret illegal moonshine operation is, where-" He keeps going as he keeps trying to guess what's so secret in the secret passages.

Clockwork Coil seems to be somepony that needs a good escort. It takes a good five minutes of being herded around the room before she finally starts to reintegrate with the rest of the party group, and her escort can safely disengage. "... and so I said.. Oh. Hi there! Great party Bubblegum!"

Bubblegum just smiles sunnily, snuggling up to Crystal and giving absolutely nothing away. Whether this is because it's a master of sneakiness or because he doesn't actually shut up long enough for it to confirm or deny any of his guesses... well. Scarlet Comet smiles to the taller pegasus, "They're not a physical object, but part of my magic. My cutie mark, actually." she nods, "I don't think there's anypony else around that could imitate these. Except the princesses, I guess." she shrugs gently, as she starts moving her platform, and the box, gently, down the stairs, but then she stops, and arches one eyebrow, "Sorry, I think the angle may be too steep to bring you down like this..."

Draft Punk was leaning back to avoid sliding off, and looks dissapointed "... Ah well. I will wait up here for them to return. But thank you for the ofer." he slides backwards off the platform and backs up until he was in the main room to wait.

Rose's limbs start to tremble from the exertion of trying not to slide out of the bottom of the levitating box. 'Please put me down, please put me down...' races through her mind, her muscles aching. Why is it always her? If she falls out now, will she have the energy to bolt for the door? Or does she face certain doom if they take her all the way downstairs?

Scarlet Comet walks down the stairs, unaware of the plight of the box' contents, but luckily she sees the pink changeling while still coming down the stairs. "Hey, Bubblegum!" she hoof-waves to the party host, before making her way down toward the pink changeling. Once within earshot, she finally places the box down, "Someone delivered this to you." but the inscriptions on the box have ran over, having been written in mud. Literally. But two of the words do say 'open' and 'party'.

Dinah looks down in confusion at the box offered. "That's..not well-addressed."

Crystal Clear smiles a bit as he continues rambling on, his role currently is to be a nice, snuggily, and love rich loungeing area for Bubblegum, and a constant source of distraction from his constant guesses... at least before he takes another swig from the bottle, "You sure you don't want some, Bubbblegum? It's some good stuff!"

Clockwork Coil continues nomming away at the party food, but finally seems to be done wandering. Internally, she's reminded of... well.. pretty much any time she's visited Canterlot palace. Oh she'll be back.This place's secrets will be hers. She is not one to be distr~Ooh! Appletarts!

Moving merrily along the next snack table, an ear perks at the sound of Scarlet's voice. Cheerfully, she calls "Hey! You made it!", while waving a hoof cheerfully. Rounding the table, she carries a few tarts for herself, and a few for Scarlet, offering one up.

Bubblegum smiles at Scarlet, then looks down at the box. "Thanks!" it says. "Open this, would you?" it adds, since it's kind of got its hooves full with snuggly Crystal and so forth. But it's not asking Scarlet Comet. Changeling Bob looks at Bubblegum, shrugs slightly, and slices the top of the box open with its horn. Inkie Pie is suddenly... there. green and white dust covering her forehooves as she wears this odd, saddlebag like mechanical despencer that seems to be half filled with long, iron rods as she trots over toward Bubblegum. "Section twelve is compleate, I must once again remind you of the dangers if there was ever a flood however." she states in her normal neutral fashion before she looks around at the other ponies, and the changelings on guard. "Ohh... today was your party."

At some point, Princess Twilight seems to have slipped out. She's never been quite the social animal, and her presence was mainly just needed to keep things outside from getting ugly. She may need to make several more appearances over the next few days...

Once she's set down, Rose just about collapses against the bottom of the box. Everything hurts, her muscles burn, she can't breathe in here and- wait, what? Open?! She doesn't get a chance to finish her thought as the sound of the box being cut open seals her fate - her eyes roll back into her head, and she faints right then and there. By the time the box is opened, there lays a very strange gift indeed - a dirty, sweaty, unconscious mare. Hopefully they don't take this as some kind of sick joke... not that they'd actually be able to extract much else out of her if they tried. Plus, playing dead? Totally her best option right now, whether intentional or not.

Scarlet Comet oh's and nods, "Ok." she says, and then steps back to let others handle the matter. When she sees WHAT was inside the box, she blinks, "What the...?" she asks, confused, looking at the passed out Rose. "What's going on? She was running away before I entered..."

Bubblegum blinks. Peers at Rose. Tips its head. Looks all around. "Um."

Dinah leans in, staring into the party box once it's opened. "...uh, Rose?" She pokes the fainted mare with a hoof, then looks around in confusion.

Crystal Clear looks at the pony, "Wowee, somepony reeeeeally got smashed, didn't they? I mean they came in a box and everything... Wow, I don't think I've gotten drunk enough to do something like THAT before!" and that's saying something. Scarlet Comet blinks and tries to poke the passed out mare with her hoof as well, "That's strange. She was running away from this place. I lost her, and when I was about to come down ehre, this box arrived." she tilts her head softly, explaining what she could.

Rose stirs with a groan, "Ugh. Worst... nightmare..." she grumbles, opening her eyes slowly and peering up at the others gathered around and staring at her. Oh. Not a nightmare. Very real... uh... play dumb! "Where...?" She does her best to put on a convincing 'no, really, I was unconscious this whole time in this box'. Ignore the fact that she's sweating profusely, nervously. Gulp.

Bubblegum blinks at Rose. "You're... at the party...?" it says. Not that Rose is liable to notice this, or much of anything else, considering there's an UNDISGUISED CHANGELING STANDING RIGHT NEXT TO THE BOX AND STARING AT HER WITH ITS BUG EYES

Clockwork Coil trots closer to the box, tilting her head, until she was standing overtopit along side the changling who opened the box. Not, of course, that there's any reason Rose should beleive her to be anything but a disguised changeling. Regardless, rubbing her chin, Coil reaches a magic tendril into her saddle bag, and slowly draws out the most dastardly torture impliment ever devised. A.... feather! MOre curious if the poor mare was playing possom or note, Coil starts to tickle that feather at Rose.

It doesn't take long for the act to break, especially when- "OhmyCelestiaaaiiiieeeeee!" Rose screams - an all-too-familiar, ear-piercing shriek - she's either *really* ticklish, or, you know, the changeling eyes spooked her. Probably the eyes- she bolts for the... door? Stairs? There are so many doors, which one did she come from? Rather than run into the changelings guarding one of the forbidden paths, she opts to run around, *in circles*, shrieking her fool head off.

Scarlet Comet winces at the shriek and whimpers, covering her ears with her hooves, "Owowowow my ears!!" she then stands up and uses her telekinesis to lift the 'agitated' mare up in the air a bit, "Oy oy, calm down!" she says, one hoof still rubbing her ears, "My ears will ring until tomorrow..." she says, looking at Rose, "What's wrong?"

Crystal Clear giggles a bit as he watches Rose, "Who is this pony? She's halarious! A little bit loud though." he says as he tilts his head to one side a bit. Clockwork Coil acks and immediately drops to the ground, the feather lightly falling aside, as she covers her ears with her hooves. "ACK! S-she's a-awake...", Coil says with a wince. "T-though I'm not sure thats p-preferable." x.o "W-wait a tick...", Coil continues to nopony in particular. "I-isn't that... one of the protesters?"

Dinah frowns and steps closer, running a hoof over Rose's mane. "Calm down, dearie. Just relax."

"It's okay! It's okay!" Bubblegum hastens to reassure Rose. "You don't have to be here if you don't want to be. Could you, uh, show her to the exit?" it says, talking to Scarlet, then gesturing slightly in the direction of the stairwell. Scarlet Comet glances at Rose, then at Bubblegum, "Yeah, sure." she says, nodding to the pink one, and smiles, "I'll take the opportunity to head home as well. Tonight didn't quite go as planned..." she says, stifling a yawn, but then she smiles again, "Thanks. I'll escort her out." she says, and starts heading out, walking up the stairwell, with Rose still floating next to her thanks to Scarlet's telekinesis.

Rose yipes as she's levitated unceremoniously off the ground, her hooves flailing, running in place for a moment until she gives in. "-Aaiiiiieeee...ee..." she trails off, gasping and panting for breath in mid-air with panic in her eyes. Got to get away! Warn the Princess! Wait, where *is* she anyway? Oh no, they've *already got her!* She's too late! "Princess!" she gasps, "What..where did she go?!" Pleas for her to calm down fall on deaf ears. Quite literally, actually - her own screams still ring in her head for a few moments. At least it sounds like they're going to let her go? "B-but!" Hrk - now she's getting dragged back upstairs... well, this is better than doom.

Bubblegum looks around. "I, uh, I dunno!" it says, blinking. "She musta had important princessy stuff to do." It'll ask Rose questions like 'why were you in a box' and 'why do you taste like a dry sponge' later.

Scarlet Comet pulls Rose all the way up and out of the house, but she keeps the mare still enveloped in her telekinesis as she turns to face Rose, "Ok. So, what was that? First, you run away from this place. Then you try to sneak in. And THEN you scream in panic and try to run away. Again. What is going on with you?" she asks, arching one eyebrow.

Crystal Clear smirks toward Bubblegum as he takes another drink, "Great party Bubbles! It had everything! Well... except for this new age rock music I so enjoy... flashing lights would have been an improvement as well, otherwise, spot on!"

Rose huffs, flailing slightly in Scarlet Comet's telekinetic grip, but now that they're outside and hopefully out of earshot... "You'll never believe me. No one ever believes me!" She lowers her voice, raising her forehooves as if clutching an invisible beachball and almost whispers conspiratorially, a broken, crazed smile on her face,

"Changelings."

"They drained me, a few nights ago! I know it was them becausetherewasthatdreamandthenmywindowwasopenand... and..." she stifles a yawn, "And..."

Scarlet Comet arches one eyebrow at Rose, her expression neutral and unamused. "Yes, we know they were changelings. Heck, there was an undisguised changeling down there." she says, pointing inside the house with her hoof, "But why do you say you were drained?" she asks, arching one eyebrow. "Dream? You dreamed you got drained?" she isn't exactly following this mare.

(Fade-to-black as Rose explains to Scarlet Comet about her horrible dream and waking-up-drained...)