In the darkness, three silhouettes stood, their shadows framed against the wall by shimmering moonlight that shone through cracked glass. The smell of smoke, a lingering scent that never truly departed whatever it touched, hovered in the air, masking the spoor of the ponies that huddled in the darkness. Waiting in the dead of the night had its drawbacks; for all the good it did at hiding them from unwanted eyes, so too did it bring a chill to the heart. The darkness was not where ponies should exist, for they were made to play in the light.
Suddenly, as if by some unspoken command, one of the ponies moved forward and fumbled with something upon a wizened wooden bench, worn smooth by ages of use. A light flared and lit the interior of the house, revealing the devastation that had befallen it. The roofing beams were cracked and burnt, with a third of the roof completely torn away. The door sat precariously in its frame; the hinges were busted and ruined, shattered beyond repair. When the light fell on the ponies themselves, they cringed and looked away, a reaction beyond that of unaccustomed eyes.
The pony that had lit the lamp turned to face the other two. Cool blue eyes stared out from a dark grey face, their depths hard and unfathomable. In the corner one of the others, a pale green pegasus, trembled nervously before giving a hoarse whisper, in a voice that was surprisingly high for a stallion.
"Where is she? She was supposed to be back by now... Oh Celestia, something's gone wrong hasn't it? I knew we shouldn't have sent her, it was too unpredictable..."
"Shut your trap, Fletch," the other, a rusty brown unicorn, snapped, though he too had eyes that betrayed an unsettled apprehension. Tossing black hair back, he turned away from the shaking pegasus and back at the blue-eyed earth pony. "Just gotta wait a bit longer. She'd better bloody get here, or we'll have to move on. Then what will her chances be of finding us?"
The earth pony was silent for a moment, studying his comrades. Fletch Wing was always nervous, so his fears were most likely unfounded. But the other, Drill Bit... Well, it was a bit unusual to see the wavering in his expression. Therefore, when he spoke, it was with care to keep the atmosphere.
"I don't know. All I can say is, she's the best we've got. The only unicorn for the job. Drill, you couldn't have gone. She would never have listened to somepony she didn't know, and you aren't strong enough to keep up the spell. So for better or for worse, she's gone and we have to wait."
"Fine, fine. But blazes, at least turn that damn light out before we get caught!" Drill snorted, turning back towards the wall. The earth pony reached behind him and turned the nozzle on the lamp, plunging the house into darkness once again.