DAY 2: 4
Twilight and Pinkamena headed through into the final area available to them. The streets were lined with various restaurants and cafés, and nested among them was the pairs destination, Mr Ed's Theater. The theater in question was a Manehatten landmark, housing at first the famous variety show hosted by Mr Ed, and now more recently the Late Show with Neighvid Letterhorse. It was also in here that Twilight and Pinkamena had to search to find the target Noise.
"So, that's it right? That's where the Noise will be?" Twilight asked. Pinkamena nodded. "Well let's get in there and defeat it. It shouldn't take long right? We've fought enough of the smaller Noise to increase our power, right?"
"It's won't be that simple. See that guy?" Pinkamena pointed to a burly looking stallion standing in front of the door. "He may not be able to see us, but we're not going to be able to open the door with him still there. We need to get him to move."
"You say that like it's going to be a problem. Can't we just use that idea planting stuff we used to get past that last wall?"
"That... hmm. Actually, yes. Why didn't I think of that? I was going to try and make him think there was a ghost or something around and frighten him off."
"Don't we kinda count as ghosts?"
"Ah, so you had the same idea?"
Twilight resisted an urge to facehoof. "So, do we just need him to move, or do we need him to open the door for us?"
Pinkamena looked thoughtful. "I suppose it's better if we don't attract attention, even if we can't be seen. So if we can get him to open the door, that would be best."
"Got it." Twilight activated her skull pin again and focused immediately on the stallion guarding the door. She felt his thoughts going through her mind. Ugh, this job is so boring. I don't even know why they need a bouncer for this place. Oh well, I suppose it beats working in the sewers.
Twilight saw her chance, and implanted a single word into the bouncer's mind. Toilet. The thoughts flowed on naturally from his previous musings on the sewers quite nicely. Man, I could really do with a whiz right now. Eh, no-pony will notice if I nip inside to use the toilet. I'll only be gone a second.
Twilight deactivated her pin and turned to Pinkamena. "That's done it. He's about to head inside. We should be able to... well, ghost in after him."
"Fantastic, we'll have that Noise erased in no time flat. Quick, he's heading in."
The pair hurried into the theatre's foyer, managing to get in just before the door closed behind them. Twilight looked around. "Right, we're in. Now what? Do we still scan for the Noise?"
Pinkamena shook her head. "Something that big? Nah. We just need to find where it's hiding. It'll probably attack us immediately, so be ready." She looked around as well. "So... any ideas where it might be?"
"What? I thought you'd know!"
"Why would you think that? It's not like they reuse the same missions every game. That would just be lazy and uninspired."
"Great. So we're wandering blind then?" sighed Twilight.
"Come on. It's not like it'll take us that long to search the place."
"Maybe not, but every second we waste brings us a second closer to failing this mission. We can't afford that. We need a better plan."
"Well if you have any ideas I'm all ears."
Twilight considered for a moment. "What did the mission say we had to do again? What were the exact words?"
Pinkamena reached into her mane, which while not as puffy as her normal self, was still able to hide a surprising amount of objects in it. She pulled out the scroll she received at the start of the mission. "Let's see... Mission 2: Find and erase the Noise in charge of Mr Ed's Theater. You have 180 minutes. Failure will result in erasure. The Reapers. You think the way they said it is a hint?"
"Well why else would they say it like?" reasoned Twilight. "They could have just 'Erase the Noise here.' So why bother saying 'the Noise in charge' unless it was a clue? And other than telling us it's a boss Noise, it also tells us where we can find it!" She started to talk faster as she explained. "Charge has many meaning. 'In charge' refers to having a position of power, but 'charge' also refers to electrical energy, which as you know has both negative and positive charge. If something has charge, it has something to do with electricity. And in a theatre like this, the best place to find charge would be the lighting desk, which is also has a certain degree of power associated with it, so it brings out both meaning, so the Noise must be there!"
There was silence. Pinkamena stared hard at Twilight. "I understood maybe one in ten words there, but what you're saying is that the Noise is at the lighting desk?"
"Yes, now come on! If this theatre is anything like the ones in Canterlot, the lighting desk will be on the balcony seats."
The pair rushed to the stairs and began climbing. "What floor will it be on?" Pinkie asked, trailing behind Twilight.
"Ummm.... we'll check 'em all!" yelled back Twilight. They had just made it to the second floor, which was occupied by ponies. Twilight took a brief glance at the group of ponies milling about before taking the next flight. "Not this one, this is probably the way to the main seats."
"You know that, but you don't know where the lighting desk is?"
"Deduced actually. You see...."
"You know what, never mind."
The third and fourth floors both proved fruitless, both leading to balconies overlooking the main stage, but not ones with the lighting desk. On the fourth floor balcony Twilight looked up. There was only one other balcony above them. "It has to be the next floor."
"And if you're wrong?"
"Then we keep looking!"
The two of them charged up the stairs. At the top Twilight paused to check her hoof. 42:03 Plenty of time... I hope. They barreled through the doors leading to the balcony, not caring if the act should surprise anypony nearby. "There's the lighting desk!" Twilight activated her skull pin, scanning for Noise. Up here, where there were only two other ponies, Twilight for once didn't have to blot out a deluge of voices, only two, and both were wondering why the door had just slammed open. But Twilight wasn't interested in them. She was more interested in the large blue symbol making rapid progress towards them. "Pinkie!"
"I see it! That's our target!"
The symbol had reached them, a quartet of teardrop shapes, all pointing to a centre. The arrangement was staggered into two pairs, each roughly horizontal. From the centre of the symbol, the rest of Noise began to appear. First a long tube expanded, like a balloon, about as thick as a pony, and as long as four of them standing end to end. Below it, six stick like legs grew out. Finally the creature's head appeared, supporting two bulbous eyes and grasping mouthparts. The Noise gave out a shriek.
"A dragonfly?" Twilight shouted to Pinkamena over the shriek. "We can take this, right?"
"Right!" she shouted back.
The dragonfly zipped toward the two, beginning the transition to the Noise plane. The world appeared to brighten, to the point of almost blinding Twilight. As the light faded, she found herself down on the first balcony, looking down at the stage. She spotted Pinkamena on the theatre's stage, the Noise hovering just out of her reach. Twilight looked around for her copy of the Noise to take on, but couldn't see one anywhere.
"Something's wrong, there's only the one Noise," she yelled down to Pinkamena.
"It's a boss Noise, they work differently! The main one is that there's only one of them!"
"So what do I fight?"
"Brrp." Twilight spun to see a small swarm of Parasprite noise hovering behind her.
Pinkamena sprang sideways as the dragonfly rushed past, barely dodging the attack. She focused on her first pin, the one that let her perform the flurry attack. She began her charge. Because of the way her pin worked, she was forced to stay in one place once the actual attack began, which was a weakness on occasion, as was the case now. As she reared onto her hind legs to begin the attack, the dragonfly moved out of the attack's range, leaving her attacking the air. She finished her futile attack just in time to dodge a sonic blast attack fired from the creature's wings. Okay, if that attack isn't working, time for plan B! She focused on the space just above the dragonfly, preparing for the teleport attack that the other pin used. Just as she felt the attack begin, the Noise moved again, faster than anything that size had any right to move, and her attack once again connected with only the air. She tried again, aiming closer to the head of the creature than before. Once again it had moved out of her attack range before the blow could connect. Before she could recover and prepare for another attempt, the Noise rammed her, sending her flying into one of the invisible walls surrounding the stage. She fell to the ground, winded, but still somehow managed to narrowly dodge the follow-up attack, which shredded the offstage curtains behind her.
"Okay, this really isn't working," Pinkamena muttered to herself. She dodged another sonic blast and called up to Twilight. "Twilight! I can't land a hit on this thing!" She jumped to the side, dodging another charge. "I don't think we can win this battle!"
"What?" Twilight yelled back. "You mean we should... hang on!" Pinkamena cast a glance upwards just in time to see a flare shoot up, illuminating the balcony. "That's should keep them away for a while... So if you can't hit it, what do we do?"
"We need to escape! There's no way I can take this thing down with the psyches I've got!" The Noise made another charge, and Pinkamena dodged towards it, rolling underneath the Noise in the narrow space between it and the ground.
"But if we don't take this Noise out we can't beat the mission! We'll be erased!" The glow of the fire had faded, now replaced with a purple flickering.
"We can't beat the Noise, but some pony else might be able to!" She dodged another sonic blast. "But if we keep fighting we're certain to be erased!"
There was silence from the balcony. Even the purple flickering had stopped. Just as Pinkamena started worrying that something had happened, Twilight called out again. "Okay, so we'll run! Is that even possible?"
"Barely! Just leave it to me!" Pinkamena turned her attention away from the balcony almost too late to see the Noise on a direct collision course with her. At the last second she managed to duck, the Noise flying over her head. With a bit of breathing space, she focused now on the prospect of escape.
Being able to escape from Noise battles was not something that was strictly possible by normal conventions. If you were in a battle, it was meant to end only when one side was erased. But Pinkamena was never a normal pony. In life she had been able to do inexplicable things that even she never really understood. During her first Reaper's Game, she discovered that her abilities seemed to be able to do more stuff in the UG. Escaping from battles was an important one, and she never would have made it past her first day without it. She still didn't fully understand how it worked, but she could make it happen on demand. As she did right now.
Around her, everything seemed to stop, as if time had paused. Even she couldn't move, but unlike those around her, she retained awareness. In this strange paused state, she began to concentrate on the idea of escaping. From seemingly nowhere, a hovering rectangle floated before her mind's eye. On it were two words: "Gotta Bounce." She focused her attention on it, and the next thing she knew she was back on the balcony in front of the lighting desk, Twilight Sparkle beside her, looking confused.
"What just happened?" Before Pinkamena could answer, she was interrupted by a shrill cry from behind them. Both ponies whipped around to see the Noise, still in dragonfly form, and it was angry. The pair exchanged glances.
They burst through the door, leaving the light techs staring at the door in puzzlement for the second time that day. They raced down the stairs, taking four stairs at a time in their haste. Behind them they could still hear the shriek of the boss pursuing them, thankfully slowed by the narrow passage ways.
"So, care to explain what happened there?" Twilight asked as they made it to the ground floor.
"I would if I knew! It shouldn't be able to chase us like this!" They burst out into the street. Unfortunately, in their haste to escape they weren't watching where they were going, and they collided head first with another pair.
"Watch where you're going!" cried a familiar voice from underneath Twilight. "All this rushing about, it's quite undignified!"
"Pinkie?" Rarity struggled out from underneath Twilight. "Oh it is you! And Twilight too. It was Twilight wasn't it? But where's Fluttershy gone?"
Pinkamena felt a weak kick at her ribs. "Oops." She stood up, giving Fluttershy space to breath. "Sorry about that Fluttershy. Anyway, did you manage to find Rainbow Dash and Applejack?"
Rarity beamed. "We certainly did dear! Well, more they found us, but it works out the same in the end. But I notice that you still haven't fulfilled your side of the mission. The clock is still ticking after all."
"The mission?" Pinkamena and Twilight looked at each other. "Umm, it's not just me right? It feels like it's been too quiet for a while now?"
Twilight nodded just as the windows above them shattered, and the dragonfly Noise zoomed into the streets. "Well, as you can see we found our target..."
The dragonfly looked around, searching for them, disorientated by its recent chase. It finally spotted the group of ponies and dived towards them, screeching its horrible scream. Terrified, the ponies huddled together paralysed by the scream. "I guess we're not going to survive this then?" Twilight asked.
Before Pinkamena, or any pony for that matter could frame an answer, they heard another cry cutting through the air. "Like a bolt from the blue, it's time for a flank whopping from me to you!" The Noise swiveled its head slightly, just in time to see what indeed did look like a blue bolt flying towards it at breakneck pace. Too fast to dodge. It collided with the dragonfly, knocking it into the side of another building. The blue bolt on the other hoof had seeming transferred all it's momentum into the dragonfly, and dropped down to land in front of the terrified ponies. "Heh, it's a wonder you guys managed to survive the first day without me!" Rainbow Dash shook her head. "Good thing I'm here now!"
"And here I was hoping that without your wings you might lose the ego..." another voice muttered, approaching from behind. It was familiar, but at the same time there was something strange about it. Rainbow just smirked.
"Well I'm glad you're still the best applebucker around even with that weird accent."
"I told you! It's the Standard Manehatten accent! I don't know why I'm using it, but I just cannot talk normally!"
The group spun around to see it was indeed Applejack. Pinkamena's jaw dropped. "Applejack? Your voice..."
"Isn't it just wonderful!" Rarity squealed. "Our little farm bumpkin, finally talking like a respectable pony!"
"Excuse me? I always talk like a respectable pony!" Applejack countered.
"Hey Pinkie, what's up with your mane? You're not about to start talking to rocks again are you?"
Any further conversation between the reunited friends was cut short by another scream. The dragonfly had recovered from Rainbow Dash's attack, and now it was madder than ever.
"Ugh, really? That last attack should have finished him off," Rainbow complained. "Fine then, I guess he doesn't know when to quit. Ready AJ?"
"Ready when you are partner." The last word sounded weird without Applejack's usual drawl. The two raced off, leaving Twilight and Pinkamena still staring in shock. Pinkamena was the first to recover.
"Well, at least they're taking this well."
Applejack and Rainbow Dash arrived just as the dragonfly began to take off, presumably with the intent to attack again. "Oh no you don't!" cried Rainbow, and leapt at the Noise, with the intent of dragging it down. She managed to catch hold of one of its legs, causing its ascent to slow considerably. Unnoticed by her, it also caused the streets to melt and reform into a battlefield. Applejack on the other hoof, had noticed.
"Rainbow! Try that attack you did before!"
"Huh? You mean the windy thing? I thought it didn't work when we weren't fighting Noise?"
"What do you think we're doing right now?"
Rainbow stared at Applejack, then back at the dragonfly she was still holding onto. "Oh yeah. Hehe." She let go of the leg, dropping to the ground below. She took a deep breath, and as she did a pin on her sash, with a wavy looking design on it, started to glow. Once she landed, she let out her breath all at once. Inexplicably, a large whirlwind appeared in front of the Noise, buffeting it. The dragonfly screeched in pain as it tried to break free of the whirlwind's grip, but couldn't manage.
Finally, the whirlwind died down, Rainbow Dash having run out of breath. Free, the dragonfly tried to flee before another whirlwind could occur. In doing so it crossed the normally uncrossable barrier between the two halves of the battlefield. Applejack smirked. "Looks like you're in my territory now." If the dragonfly understood this, it made no sign, but began charging towards Applejack. Applejack faced it down, unflinchingly. A pin on her sash, with a lasso design on it, began to glow. A matching glow appeared in the air above her head. At the last second, Applejack jumped aside and a cable of barbed wire shot out from the glowing spot, entangling the Noise and bringing it crashing to the ground. Not wasting any time, Applejack deftly removed her hat, holding it in her teeth, and approached the downed beast. She drew her head back, and brought the hat across the Noise in a slapping motion. As the hat made contact, a cut appeared on the Noise, like the hat was a sword. She slapped the Noise with the hat again, although once again the result was more of a slash.
She continued in this manner for about ten seconds, when the wires holding the dragonfly vanished. It hastily took off into the air again, looking worse for wear. It made it's way back towards Rainbow's side of the field, hurrying in case it was trapped by the barbed wire again. It had almost made it through the division when Applejack managed to fire off another entanglement burst, once again bringing it to the ground, this time on Rainbow's side of the field. The cyan mare was on the opposite side of the field, seemingly waiting for the Noise. Upon seeing it was trapped, Dash began to charge towards it, turning the tables. She quickly became a rainbow blur, and another one of her pins, this one with a emblem reminiscent of her cutie mark on its side, started glowing. She quickly closed the distance between them. A second later she collided with the Noise, creating a loud BOOM! This was finally too much for the Noise, and it flashed once, twice, before vanishing in a burst of static. The battle was over. Applejack checked her hoof to find the timer gone. The mission was complete.
MEETINGS AND BATTLES