She galloped all the harder, broken glass crunching underneath her hooves as she ran, Gem ran down the dark littered, and small roads around the warehouses. ‘Where had it gone wrong?’ She thought as she sped along, Broken potion launcher hanging mangled, scraping the ground behind her with a clickety clack in time with her galloping stride.
“This way, hurry!” Cried voices from afar, their hoofbeats some distance away.
“Gotta get away,” She gasped in panic, She glanced at a side door to an old building before beginning to buck at the lock with all her might, smashing away the door began to buckle, but held fast. amazingly reinforced, the heavy steel door wouldn’t budge. she turned at the sound of scraping boots on asphalt filled her ears, her eyes opening wide with fear as she saw the man hobble towards her, face set in a mask of pain as he ignored his twisted ankle, with one bloody chewed looking arm hanging loosely at his side, he drew his revolver, and Gemstone shut her eyes tightly for what may be the last time. *BLAM*.
“Well, what are you waiting for? Come on.” The man said, hobbling past her into the darkened room. Gem stood dazed for a moment, as she watched the man hobble deeper into the building, his shredded flak jacket bore the initials H.L.F. on the back, partially torn off. Gem hesitated for the moment, before she heard more cries of bloodlust fill the air behind her, that was all that was needed to spur her on to find and follow her enemy.
“Are, are you going to be alright?” She asked worriedly of the man as he grunted in pain, forcing a door open with a shoulder.
“What, you’d think I was hurt by the way you're talkin,” He smirked, before doubling over in pain. “Ha, jus, just a stitch in my sides all, gonna catch my breath for a moment.”
“What, what happened, what did your men do to them!” She said, shakily, not sure whether to be angry or worried for the man in pain.
“I should ask you the same fuckin thing, new tactic for recruiting?” He smirked, letting out a gasp as gem gently touched his rib with a hoof,
“Your, ribs are broken, you shouldn’t even be moving!” She scolded, ears lying flat before returning to worrying, “Will they find us?”
“Don’t worry bout that, they can smell the blood, they’ll be here soon.” He groaned, knocking over filing cabinets behind him with his good arm
“Then why are we here! If you lay on my back I can carry you, we can run away!” She cried, shuffling uneasily underneath the grim faced mans expression.
“Look, these things will run us down till they die of exhaustion. . . I’ve, heard of them before, they won’t ever stop until are heads are smashed open like rotten melons. We have to find someplace to take them on, we have to fight them now before it gets dark. . . they see better in it.
“Allright, but where?!” Gem asked as the first sound of furniture began to crash about.
“AS IT FLOWS!” came the howl from outside, screams of manic laughter began to fill the building as the sound of glass shattering rang out like a chorus.
“No time, closet now!” He screamed beckoning her inside. He hardly waited for her to leap in, door grinding against her flank, she hissed as the door was slammed shut. There they waited, breathing deeply in the partial darkness, the only light coming from her horn before the first arrived pounding on the door in a fit of hysterical rage. Gem began to panic, as her vision went dark, so too did her horn. It was the man who kept her from going out completely.
“I don’t wanna die, I, I was only trying to help. . . they said HLF were hurting ponies here, an, and. . “ She gasped panic flowing through her, the urge to run filled her but there was nowhere to go in the closet that seemed all too small now.
“Your name?” Asked the man, as the pounding on the door increased, pieces splintering off as the door began to buckle under the strain of the attackers.
“G-Gem, an- and yours?” She cringed as more shards of wood broke away from the frame, pelting her hide, and forcing her to turn away as a small hole was beaten through the door.
“Later, I’ll tell you after we get out of here, now Gem. . . listen to me good, I can’t load my gun anymore, I’ll need you to do it, you got that? You're going to have to help me so we can get out of here. You still know how to load a gun right, just slid-,”
“I’m a pony, not a fool,” She said, forgetting a bit of fear in the moment, A large eye gazed through the hole, as more forelegs reached through to widen it, they giggled with glee as the ponies clawed the door open ever more, bloodlust filling their eyes as rictus grins spread across their muzzles, stained red, already drenched in dried remnants of a meal before. They lunged trying to push through the hole, jaws snapping together eagerly at an easy meal.
“Not a fool, huh? How’d you end up here,” He smiled before fanning the trigger back with a thumb, the first blood crazed equine let out a howl of pain as the bullet penetrated his eye. He staggered back and Gem screamed as a few of his own fell on him, ripping him apart in an orgy of violence. Three more quickly taking the place at the hole, eager hooves tearing and kicking at the door, anything to get at the two inside.
“Why are they doing this? Get away, go Get away, get AWAY!” She screamed, as a stallion forced his way partially through, his baby blue coat marred with dried blood, his Cutie mark, a teddy bear now half torn away.
“Gem, GEM, Focus, RELOAD!” Yelled the man, as his gun was enveloped in her magic. Empty brass being exchanged for fresh cartridges. He unloaded into him even as he thrust cracked and broken hooves at Gem. Gem began to sob as the pool of his blood rolled towards them, staining her yellow coat as it continued flowing.
“Please,” She cried “Just make it stop, I, I jus want to go home, I, I didn’t want any of this!” She sobbed as more flung themselves at the doorway, her eyes widened as the hinges began to shake loose. The laughter became more savage as more hoofbeats could be heard pounding along the ground outside. The cries became more savage and unintelligible, as did the health of the ponies who rushed the door, Six shells fell before being replaced, again and again. the man didn’t miss by much, if any. some fell to the floor as the occasional stray sent a pony to the floor in a heap, it did not stop them, Laughing as tears filled their eyes, they dragged themselves to what they hoped would become their meal.
“Stay together, Gem. Listen there monsters now, the only way we live through this is if you. stay. calm!” He yelled, motioning for her to reload, Gem was curled up in the far corner nearly catatonic. “Dammit, STAY WITH ME!” He yelled, two hate filled eyes, filled the hole as the gray mare crawled through, The man yelled one last time before taking the handle of his gun in mouth, rummaging through his pockets, as the crazed mare frothed at the mouth stretching towards them even as jagged corners tore away her hide. “J-em, Mehm, D’ou have to snap out of it!” He yelled, firing the single shell he had loaded, more began to drag the limp body of their companion from the hole, screaming and gurgling pouring forth from their throats, promising a slow death.
“Al, Alright,” Gem said pulling herself up shivering. “I’ don’t want to die, I won’t, I won’t die!” She screamed. Her horn glew, wedging the body in the door firmly.
“Alright, stay calm, you hear me?” The man said, sounding groggy as a line of blood oozed out a corner of his mouth, “Gotta, stay, calm.” He said sluggishly, “My pack, little, needle things,” He mumbled.
“Alright,” She said, rummaging through the little satchel on his back with her mouth, her horn to tied up with barricading the door. Her eyes widened as they settled onto the needles with a opaque syrupy orange color to them.
“W-why do you have, these?” She said shakily, looking up at the man. This time she didn’t cringe as more of the door was broken away, eyes peering through the ever widening hole.
“Just give me one,” He spat, taking it shakily from her, stabbing the hypo into his thigh, his eyes rolling back as he let out a sigh of relief, his taunt pain wracked frame relaxed as the drugs did its work
“This stuff is bad for you,” She glared. somewhere a siren blared, and more gunshots could be heard in the distance.
“Yeah, but it takes the edge off a bit,” He groaned as the medicine numbed his pain, “Would you like to hear something funny?” He smiled at the yellow mare, as the howling horde outside screamed, pulling on the legs of the dead body in the way, tearing off a leg and losing purchase.
“What’s that?” She said, somewhat hopefully.
“I’m out of bullets,” He smiled, spinning the cylinder around a few times.
“BRACE THAT DOOR, NOW!” Howled the man, scared personnel rushed about the room, pushing desks to block the door, as what remained of his forces braced the pounding doors with their bodies.
“Sir, everything is locked down, the back hall has a vending machine wedged between the wall and door, and all the windows are taken care of, we’ve also readied the upstairs in the case the ground floors are breached sir. We have also welded the doors to the loading bay shut, but more of them seem to be coming here.” Reported the man, breathlessly. Pale faced and covered with blood, he looked decidedly worse for wear.
“Get me the radio,” Growled their leader, shoving him away for not moving quick enough.
“It’s in another part of the building sir, we have no long range communication, we’ll have to wait for aid like everyone else.” The pale faced man reasoned.
“Well then, looks like you’ll just have to go and get them then. WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR!” He hissed.
“We don’t have enough men,” He said gesturing to the three able bodied men left, there were five more lying on the floor, one on the table with personnel setting his broken arm, the best they could with what they had on hand.
“Well then, get some ‘volunteers’ and give them weapons, and let’s get that radio,” His stare only deepened as the pale faced man balked.
“Their non combatants, besides it’s suicide to leave the secured area now!”
“LISTEN, I know that, this has to be done though, I shudder to think what those things could do if they manage to leave the compound.
“LISTEN, just do it, this has to be done! He snapped, grabbing the man's arm as he turned to leave. “These things are monstrous, but the building should mostly be secure. Just thank god none of them are pegasi.”
“Fuck. . . I never wanted any of this. . . I’m going to get through it though, it’s what I do. It’s what I always do,” The man muttered to himself, they had given him a rifle. . . he knew that was stupid, the small hallways would just make it useless when they rushed him, never ‘if’, they would. ‘I’m supposed to be a janitor, and now I got to clean up this mess. . . dammit, just. . . calm, deep breaths, gotta keep calm,’ He thought to himself, breathing deeply. He looked over to the other four with him, a stern faced man, larger than him ‘At least he looks like he knows what he’s doing,” He thought, he looked away quickly as the man shot him a dirty look with a grunt, before removing pieces of the bracings on the door. ‘Run and grab the radio, there not in the building yet. Not up this far at least.’
“Hey,” replied a deep voice, a hand clamping down reassuringly on his shoulder from behind. causing the man to jump.
“Y-yeah?” He asked shakily, doing his best not to think. Every moment his stomach sunk lower, hard and cold, clutching his chest as they began to feel like a coil of snakes twisting and turning. He looked as the man smiled at him.
“Don’t worry bout this, hell this is isn’t even half as bad as some of the shit I’ve gone through,” He chuckled.
“How so?” He asked the stupidly grinning man, ‘What’s this guy's deal?’ he thought eyeing his oil stained overalls, ‘This guy isn’t a soldier, he’s a joke. . . just like me.”
“Way I figure it, seeing as we have guns, we have the upper hand,” He smiled, nice and big grasping his gun firmly.
“Yeah, and there's more ponies out there than we have bullets. . . we’re dead,” He said, the soldier unlocking the door sneered at him, as he wrenched away pieces of metal.
“Heh, hey don’t talk about that, we run out just start smackin them with the butt. Like this,” He grunted, smashing the butt of the gun into the door, the soldiers pry bar hit the ground with a clank as the mighty blow forced the door open.
“Alright, when they swarm your ass I’m runnin,” He said, eliciting a snort from the mechanic.‘Well, on the plus side this dude seems strong. . . damned gorilla.”
“Well, let’s go!” He yelled, gaining a smack from the back of the hand of one of the maintenance crew.
“Shut the fuck up, you stupid fuckin moron, and go!” He said, before getting them to move, the soldier glared at him before taking point, moving down the hallway with a steady stride. The jackass bringing up the rear, and the mechanic sticking near the front, too impatient to wait even a moment.
“Hey, see any ponies?” The mechanic whispered to the soldier up front, who only gestured for him to remain silent.
They moved along quickly and quietly for the most part, the building held a chill in the air, and the building remained eerily quiet as they went. *Tappa tappa tappa*.
“What’s that?” Asked the man in back. The soldier froze as he listened intently, it was the greasy mechanic who spoke first.
“Aww, hell. Just some messed up vents, stop acting like scaredy cats and let’s move,” He chuckled as they slowly began to move along the dimly lit hall, floor tiles clean, but cracked with age and abuse.
They hardly made even a whisper of a sound as they moved, but a commotion from outside caused the curious mechanic to look out the window. A man was running at a dead sprint, he tossed his rifle and anything loose on him that hindered him. Ponies, about thirty of them were rushing him as he ran towards the main building. It wasn’t even a contest as they tore into him from behind, knocking him to the ground. Even the stern soldier cringed as the mans cry was carried by the wind. They watched with abject horror as they tore away his helmet, before multiple sets of hooves smashed his head like a pumpkin against the ground. . . there was something wrong with the ponies here, but these, there was something worse about them. They didn’t scream like the rest, no laughter, no cries of blood lust. . . they seemed more organized. The soldier stopped the mechanic as he shouldered his rifle.
“No, he’s dead. No wasting what we haven’t got to waste.” He said, before beckoning them along, “Hurry up, we’re still needed, no telling how long before the ponies get into this part of the building.”
He held her close as the door was nearly torn loose from the hinges, belows of pain and blood lust rising as the door started to wrench free from the frame. ‘Maybe I shoulda taken the easy way out, lord knows I have enough painkillers. . . but not for her. She couldn’t be her could she?’ He thought. “I’ve, I’ve just got to know one thing before we go. . . what was your name, before you turned?” He said, cringing as her head turned underneath his arm, causing a small throb of pain to jolt him to full alertness.
“W-why would you want to know?” She asked slowly.
“I, I had someone I knew once. I heard she. . . she looked a bit like you when she took the plunge,” He said, letting out a low gasp of pain as her warm hide pressed up against him harder.
“I don’t believe so, I’m actually a native Equestrian,” She said, watching the hope in the man's eyes dim. “I’m sorry.”
‘So, it was for nothing in the end after all,’ The man thought, closing his eyes with a soft chuckle, The door lurched forward as it finally began to give out, “Well, if you're going to go out, it’s not so bad dying trying to do the right thing.
The hysterical laughs stopped momentarily, as the sound of two heavy boots strood into the room, there laughter turned to screams of pain soon after, as they were wreathed in hellish flames.
“What, what's happening?” Gem cried, as the man shed a tear.
“Helps here,” He smiled, as the blazing inferno outside the door quickly heated the small space.
*Thump, Thump, THUMP!* The heavy boots sounded as they strode towards the door, as Gem moved her head ever which way to look out the whole, only seeing a large dark figure move towards them, a half alive charred pony struggled to crawl towards him. The man didn’t even bother to stop, stomping the pony’s brains out as he continued forward, single mindedly.
“Are you sure he’s friendly?” She stammered.
“Define ‘friendly’,” He choked, as the door was wrenched open by a set of thickly gloved hands. Hellish light reflected off the lenses of the large man’s full mask. a ventilation tube running behind him towards a pack mounted on his belt. He said nothing as he glared darkly at the two in the closet, to close for his liking.
“U’m hel-hello, my name is Gemstone, an-” Gem stopped as he raised the the tip of his weapon, and pointed it at the two. A rush of gas was heard as he adjusted a nozzle.
“Well. Shit,” The man said hoarsely, clutching Gem.
“One.Two,” The man whispered to himself, holding his knees as he rocked back and forth
*BAM* rang out the door as they rammed it again.
“Three.Four,” He sobbed,
*BAM* the door rang out once more.
“Not much longer now,” He sighed slowly unfurling his legs and staggering to his feet, teetering on the numb limbs, he strode over to his ‘hope’ and began to check it again.
“IT WILL COME SWIFTLY!” Screeched a shrill, somewhat muffled, voice from outside. The man sighed as another rhythmic bang sounded against the door, the fact that it held brought a slight smile to his face.
He looked at the monitor, they were in the surveillance camera. A dark purple mare, with neon green mane stood shouting orders at the others, those who hadn't complied lay smouldering from her lighting. He licked his dry lips before addressing the A.I.
“Show me. . . one last time,” He said dryly. The screen flickered as the video log popped up once again. A well groomed man in a lab coat smiled as he adjusted the camera on himself.
--*Doctor Philistine, We begin testing on the candidates today. A simple re-engineering of the potion may be what we should be looking into. Pulling the Equine out of a convert in theory is as hard as it is turning them into ponies.” The man smiled, beaming at the camera. “A completely harmless proces-.”
“Next, please,” He said, clenching his fist till his unclipped nails drew blood.
--*Doctor Philistine, Initial tests prove. . . fruitless, it’s not that we haven’t the know how, but we lack. something,” The man on screen frowned deeply. “We daren’t risk the safety of our patients though, there is time yet left t-.”
“Please, show me the next one,” He said as all emotion left his face.
--*”Hi paps!” Beamed the dark purple mare, the very one who sat outside now screaming for his still beating heart.
*“Hi sweetie,” Cheered the man wrapping his arms around her neck in a warm embrace, “You sure you want to help your old dad with this?” He smiled shakily.
*”Of course why wouldn’t I? I mean imagine how many people this is going to help, think of it! Every Pony who was turned by PER could become human again!”
“Next one, if you would?” The man said tears running down his cheeks, grim set face, he didn’t bother to wipe them away as they fell onto his tattered lab coat..
-* This is Doctor Thymes, Subjects showing no outward signs, nor any behavioral changes. We beli-.”
“NEXT,” He hissed angrily, ‘He caused this, that smug bastard!’ He thought, before looking back at the screen as the next video rolled.
--*”Dad,” Said the purple mare shaikly, “I’m not feeling too good anymore, and, an the headaches are getting worse.”
*”Don’t worry pumpkin, we’re worki-,”
“Please, I need to see her, I need to see why this happened,” Philistine pleaded to the computer, The A.I. hesitated for a moment before pulling up Thymes file. What did it matter with his transformed corpse lying smouldering outside the door.
--The camera was shaky as it filmed him and his daughter, she looked so thin, and tired.
*”The nightmares don’t stop any more dad,” She didn’t even look at him as he brushed her disheveled mane from her eyes.
*”I know pumpkin, but daddy's going to fix this, I promise. . . no more tests until then okay?” He smiled shakily. She kept looking at the floor, not moving, Philistine was startled as she broke the sudden silence.
*”I see them now. . . whenever I shut my eyes dad, dad, the-, they never stop screaming. It-it feels like my skulls going to burst sometimes, an-and I-I’m scared!” She cried, burying her muzzle into his chest.
“I’m sorry, I’m so so sorry,” Philistine cried as he watched his daughter on the screen sob as a happier him hugged her close.
+Would you like me to roll the next in the file?+ Asked the A.I., monotone voice cutting him to the bone, causing him to jump awake, he smeared snot and tears away with his sleeve before nodding.
-*”We restrained her best we could,” The nurse said to Philistine,
*“How could this have happened. What happened to her, WHO DID THIS?” He asked, too drained to show any real emotion.
*“She did it to herself,” Thymes said, clamping a firm hand on his shoulder. They watched as Phils daughter screamed, smashing her unrestrained head against the gurny over and over again, laughing as a bit of red oozed from the back of her skull.
*“Is, is sh-?”
*“Don’t worry my friend, science solves everything!” Thymes smiled at Phil reassuringly.
*“Will she eve-?” Phil began, face grim set as he watched his daughter mutilate herself.
*“Oh, I know for a fact we’ll improve her condition, beyond all hopes and expectations in time to come,” Thymes grinned, “I’m certain of it.”
“The next one play ‘it’,” He said,looking at the screen with half dried tears, “Play Doctor Thymes ‘Breakthrough’!” He choked, his voice cracking.
--*”Doctor Thymes here, all testing has proven successful,” He grinned smugly at the camera, from the back ground a blood curdling shriek was heard from a nearby cell. “Lot 22-z, Weapon grade ‘potion’ has proven to function beyond expectations,” He smiled. adjusting his lab coat, the young doctor from before came into view behind him, looking decidedly less proper.
*”WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!” He shrieked, “They’re monsters, every last one of them. Cindy, my daughter was one of them, you bastard, you, you MADE MY DAUGHTER A MONSTER!”
*”Oh please, she was one before, all I did was help it show a little more,” He smiled, “Now she’s of some use to us, why once we have them conditioned to only attack non infected ponies we’ll be set on driving this menace back, you should be proud, your daughter did us all a great service.”
*”I’ve informed the higher ups. This isn’t what we we’re supposed to create, we we’re supposed to fix this, THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A WAY BACK!”
*”I’m certain the superiors will be thrilled to hear of my success, wh-. . .” Doctor Thymes eyes opened wide as several armed men filed into the room.
*”Oh they’re happy alright, happy they get to kill you for wasting there time and resources! This was never supposed to be what we we’re doing!” Dr.Philistine shouted as the soldiers moved past him to apprehend the doctor, but stopped as he began to laugh.
*”’Them’ I’m not talking about ‘them’, I’m talking about MY bosses, my death means little, but what we’ve created here will change the world. The world will be ruled by it’s rightful rulers, not some pathetic human or pony governments,” Thymes cackled, Philistine only had moments to react before Thymes dropped a canister on the ground, the nearly black mist swirling through the room. Screams echoed throughout as the mist engulfed them all, Phil ran off screen.
“STOP!” He screamed, panting as another rhythmic blow rang out against the door. He sobbed, placing his head on the desk, he’d wait it out here, till they broke through.
“Dam it,” Dave cursed. trying to unjam his gun. They were all around them, the damned psychopaths on four legs had hit their side hard as could be. “You know what I hate more than psycho ponies?!” He yelled to another man by the window, busy with reloading the weapon he had looted from a soldier who wasn’t as quick on his feet.
“Unicorn psycho ponies!” He yelled back, finally freeing the lodged cartridge from the chamber. He looked down the sights, the rictus grinning loon dashed head first at him, screaming that same dam phrase over and over. Dave grinned as he lined up the sight.
*BAM* Dave’s grin faded as it didn’t even slow him down.
“Blood in her name, blood for their praise, DIeDIEDIEDIEDIE!” The stallion shrieked, loud enough to be heard over the gunfire. He simply shrugged off gunfire, refusing to be brought low, and with a thunderous crash ripped through the barricades as though they were paper machie.
“FUCK,” Dave yelled out, he watched as one of his friends on the ground floor was tackled with the force of a small truck, his limp body left a smeared blood trail as the stallion giddly ripped out his throat.
“WHAT IS THAT THING?!” shrieked one man, nearly dropping his rifle.
“FUCK THIS SHIT, I NEVER SIGNED UP FOR THIS!” Another screamed, he began to run as , he never made it out from between the makeshift fortifications of overturned tables and crates. Dave watched in slow motion as a large man slung about an old ax, striking the man down with the flat of the weapon.
“YOU WILL FIGHT, OR YOU WILL DIE!” He shouted, lifting a shotgun with his free hand, before shredding the crazed buck berserker with three slugs. “YOU WILL NOT! I repeat, WILL.NOT FAIL!”
‘The Major is a scary son ofa bitch,’ Dave thought, as his superior shouted orders. He shook a bit as the majors cold blue eyes met his. He quickly resumed firing on the ponies, at least with them he was certain they’d die when you used conventional weapons, the major. . . not so much.
A man cowering near Dave lept back to his feet with a yelp as the major turned to him and boomed.
“EVERY MOMENT YOU DO NOT FIGHT IS ANOTHER MOMENT YOUR FRIENDS COME CLOSER TO DEATH. IF YOU DO NOT FIGHT WITH EVERYTHING YOU’VE GOT, YOU ARE WITH THE ENEMY!” He thundered, mighty lungs well practiced at yelling, before pointing his shotgun at the downed man “Are you with the enemy?!” He spat harshly. For the coward who ran, those words drowned out even the chanting of the crazed ponies outside, he quickly focused all efforts on pleasing him, lest he decide to execute him on the spot.
“Hu- hello,” Gem spoke slowly to the masked man towering over her and her friend. “I-I’m Gemstone, an-and this is my friend,” She said, trying to smile at the man, ever so hard with her reflection shining back at her, off those terrible black lenses, it looked as though he was staring into her soul. . . judging her very being. Slowly he lowered the primed flamethrower, and unbuckled his mask.
“Well now, HOOOOWDAY!” Grinned the man stupidly. Gem sat dumbfounded, completely stupefied as her companion and savior from earlier began to laugh.
“Randal you prick, you had me going for a bit,” He laughed wiping his tears from his eyes as the fire bug reached into a vest pocket and produced a can, he reached in and happily took a plug of chewing tobacco and placed it between his lips and gums.
“Smokin will kill ya,” He winked at Gemstone, who was now certain she had lost her mind. “So, um. . . what’s wit your pony pal?” He spoke slowly, but with little malice.
“Heh, just consider her my speed loader, ain’t that right,” He said offering a smile towards the shocked yellow mare.
“Bu-but, I . . . I but,” Gem stuttered, looking back and forth, both men gave her an odd look as she raised her foreleg to face and bit.
“Um, watch ya doin there,pardner’?” Randal said scratching his head.
“Ow! Pinching myself. . . Oh I hoped this was just a dream from eating too much chocolate before bed!” Gem cried.
“Heh, well sweetheart, shucks hate to say it, but all this is real as me an you,” Randal said, almost apologetically. It was at this point Gemstone wondered if humans were actually crazy.
“I-I,” Gem just clutched her head between her hooves, “My head hurts.”
“Buster,” Said the man next to her slowly, eliciting an odd look from Gem.
“What?” Gem said confused.
“My name, I said I’d tell you once we made it out of here,” Buster smiled.
“Welp, best be movin along. Need to find some place an hunker down til this whole mess blows over. . . and Buster,” Randal said slowly.
“Find some place to stash your friend, aforin she gets shot, k?” Randal sighed before donning his mask.
It's large cylindrical body sat on top of four outstretched rusted metal legs, a large clamp, fit for grasping the trunks of trees graced it's left side, as a large circular saw graced it's right. It's gears whined and howled in protest as it spun about, knocking a pony to the ground before one of its legs came down with a crunching *Wh-Thump*. It's one large red optic sensor glared, sitting in the center of its heavily armored can shaped torso, flaking orange paint mixing none too well with the viscera and gore as it rampaged through the warehouse, spreading mayhem and destruction as it moved with fierce determination to kill any and all intruders.
"No they shouldn't have fixed it!" Juniper screamed, a thunderous crash rose as a hydraulic clamp tore away at more of the frame, with a roar as its jury rigged engine screamed, it tore through the warehouse, thundering after the scattering ponies. The green mare next to her, Isabelle waved her horn over the cache of potions meant to convert the wretched human form, turning them instead into a deadly corrosive. Juniper screamed at the machine as it grabbed Trigger.
“LET GO, YA PIECE Of- Grrah” Trigger choked out as the machine slowly tightened its grip. carefully moving it’s saw to cut off his left foreleg. The sensor seemed to flare as it watched him begin to bleed to death, before taking mercy and sliced him in two with it’s circular saw blade with a whine, before whirling and with a click as it’s pilot light ignited, burnt Jewel to a crisp.
"Get away from it, NOW! We have to leave!" Screamed Grim Rose firing more vials of re-enchanted potion at the raging machine, it's speakers crackled as the voice sang out again.
*Ain't no rest for the wicked, Money don't grow on trees!* The engine roared as it put on an extra burst of speed, slamming a one of its claws, still dripping with the blood of their comrades and friends into a stack of crates, the voice on the speaker only laughed as a few members of PER proved to be a bit too slow, being instantly crushed or for the unlucky ones, pinned beneath the heavy load.
"Our Intel said it had been disabled, all their security was supposed to be rendered useless!" Juniper spat into her headset, her insides squirmed as the upper half of a green coated stallion landed next to her. She would have been able to shrug it off easily enough and would have kept going if he hadn't tried to speak to her.
"Pl-ea," He croaked weakly, falling silent and moving no more. Juniper screamed in fury as she sent three vials of corrosive potion screaming across the room, one fell short, dissolving part of a crate with ease, and another splattered across the things left leg, Old and tarnished, construction mechs are horrifically robust though, and shrugged off the vile concoction, and the next after that. Juniper paused at it turned towards her now, with sudden interest, whirring it's saw, almost playfully. All she could do was gulp as it light flickered, and screamed across the room with a howl of its engine tossing crates aside.
"Come on, we have to follow Grim, he knows machines better than any pony, COME ON!" Isabelle yelled, her horn flaring as she picked up the earth pony, dragging her out of harm's way.
"DAMN HUMAN MACHINERY, DAMN IT TO HELL!" She yelled, magic simply fizzled and sparked off its armored hide, and any attempts to flip it with unified unicorn magic had proven useless. The only saving grace was it had no guns. It made up for this little fact by hurling bodies, or whatever else it could get it's claw on.
The earth ponies of the group worked steadily working a pry bar in their mouth in an attempt to break open the locks keeping them inside, the machine had already thought to destroy the way they had come in. Howls of bloodlust came from outside, as their tortured brethren sought to tear them to shreds. No place was safe for the ponies, but outside in the open they could run, and might just get away.
“YOU FUCKIN TRAITOR, I SHOULDN’T HAVE TRIED TO HELP YOU!” Buster screamed as he was pinned by both Gemstone’s hooves and magic.
“Hush this is for your own good,” She said somewhat stoically, “You're too hurt to really move around, and this is one of the best things I can do for you. Five minutes and you’ll be, ‘Hey quit squirming like that, That drug you're taking isn’t going to help you move quickly enough!’ He-” She spat as Buster managed to smack her in the face.
“Dammit Buster, I promise this shit will work. Jus be gladn’ that she’s willin’ ta’ share some of this here zebra mumbo jumbo,” Randal said, doing his best to pin his friends shoulders to the floor. “Asides’ I done took away the potion she done had left.”
“YOU DON’T KNOW HOW MUCH THAT SHITS GOING TO HURT, I’M FINE DAMMIT! I SURVIVED BEING NEARLY KICKED TO DEATH BY TEN OF THOSE BASTARDS AND THEN TRAMPLED, FUCK YOU I’M FINE!” Buster howled, the little brown flask shimmered in Gemstones magical grasp, Feathers and bead tied around it with twine. A fresh rich, earthy smell came from it, along with the scent of strong smelling spices.
“Open wide, here comes the airplane,” Gem Cooed.
“FUCK OFF!” Buster spat. “I’m No-” he choked as the neck of the bottle was thrust neatly between his teeth.
“You're forgetting that I’m part of an organization infamous for forcing folks to drink things,” Gem smiled sheepishly. “I mean. . . not that I enjoy doing it. . . it’s just safer than most spells or weapons we could use.”
“See buddy, that weren’t so- Eh Gawd. . . Dammit,” Randal said, cringing as a bit of smoke began to escape from his friends nostrils. . . followed by a sharp succession of snaps and pops, as his fractured bones, broken ribs, and twisted ankle began to regenerate. Busters eyes rolled back into his skull, as more and more smoke poured from his mouth, As suddenly as it had started, it stopped. With lightning speed he rocketed to an upright position and screamed as a symphony of snaps and pops, of his bones knitting back together was heard. Gemstone and Randal could only try there best to cover their ears.
The mechanic froze, along with the soldier. It had been pleasantly uneventful on there trip to the communication center.
“You guys hear that?” Said the Mechanic.
“Yeah, Err Terry,” Said Mikey the Janitor. “Sounded like yellin.”
“Shut the fuck up and try and get the radio working,” Randy spat. slamming his hand against the desk for emphasis. Mikey and Terry exchanged a quick look, before laughing. The soldier face palmed, It wasn’t going to get any better.
“FUCK, YOU THINK THAT SHIT WASN’T GONNA HURT?!” Buster screamed,
“Please calm down, more of them will hear you!”
“LIKE FUCK I’LL CALM DOWN, YOU FORCE FED ME SOME GUNK A CRAZED ZEBRA PROBABLY PISSED IN!”
“Um, Buster, the lil’ ladies right, more of dem’ angry critters,” Randal said, scratching his head in puzzlement, “I got’s to get us going if we’re gonna live.”
Buster groaned as he took Randal’s offered hand pulling himself to his feet with a grunt, his eyes widened as he felt. nothing, the marvel of zebra alchemy had healed every injury, while a bit sore where his ribs had broken. He was no worse for wear besides the shredded flak jacket he wore.
“I need to get back to my friends, they’ve probably found some place safe to hide in by now,” Gem said, walking up to the two. She backed away, her launcher scraping the ground with a clickety clack as Randal suddenly glared at her.
“Now listen missy, I’m well within my rights to flambe your ass,” He said hoisting the flamethrower. “Only reason I’m holdin’ off is cause my pal here don’t seem to mind ya none. You got that, you ain’t going back to your little group, but. . . we ain’t gonna hurt ya either. We’re gettin out of this place and headed to town, then ya can go from there.”
“Why the sudden hostility?” Gemstone asked unnerved by the mans change in temperament as well as the charred bodies of the berserking herd that lay in the room, filling her nostrils with their stench. She stifled the urge to gag as buster spoke.
“Listen, you come in here, shooting the place up with potion and trying to convert people by force. You go-,” His glare hardened as she interrupted him.
“The H.L.F. were hurting ponies, we couldn’t just sit by idly on our plots while they were tortured.” She said, eyes narrowing as she defended her cause.
“Yeah, bet they didn’t tell you the part about the ponies being ex HLF, who volunteered, did they?” Buster said, he didn’t raise his voice he just looked at her with a emotionless face still as granite.
“Wait, but. . . that has to be a lie,” Gem said, “I can believe some of them volunteered but. . . not all of them,” She said, “What were they hoping to accomplish?”
“I haven’t got a clue, but all I know is that we’ve got to leave.” Buster said, before letting loose a low sigh. “ Got any unicorn mumbo jumbo to help us sneak by those little fuckers?”
“I’m afraid not,” Gemstone said, walking about the room, she stooped low suddenly looking at one of the half charred ponies.
“What?” Randal said suddenly.
“Thinking, trying to come up with some sort of idea,” Gem said, as she gazed into the cold dead blue eyes of the buck in front of her. ‘This shouldn’t have happened to you,’ she thought.
“The dead can’t help us here, and I need to get some more bullets for my gun,” Buster said, holding the revolver by the trigger guard, letting the ammunition cylinder swing freely open. “As you can see, I’m out.”
“Sorry man, I don’t reckon I can help ya with that one, but. . . I do have something you can use,” Randal grinned as he reached into one of his deep pockets, and tossed something to Buster, its chrome plated body shimmered, Buster let out a low whistle as he turned the hefty gun over in his hand. “Desert Eagle, don’t see shit like this too often nowadays,” Buster smile dimmed as the thought occurred to him. “You do have ammo for this one right?”
Randal chuckled, tossing him a loose bag full of clips. “There ya go pardner, now don’t be going and usin’ it all in one place,”
“AH HA HA AHHA HAHAH HA HAAAH!” Both the janitor Mikey, and Terry the mechanic laughed, and simply kept laughing hysterically. As the Soldier and Randal sat, dumbfounded listing to the other end. The radio operators sobs and pleas for help were cut short as the sound of the door being telekinetically being ripped from it’s hinges were heard. They could only sit in silence as the only chance for help was snuffed out.
“We’ve got to radio the big man now, tell him help ain’t a comin,” The soldier said, stern faced, he was the type of man to face oblivion with a stiff upper lip indeed.
“ISN’T THAT JUS’ THE GREATEST FUCKIN JOKE YOU EVER DONE HEARD?! Help, help comin for us?!” Mikey cried, in between hysterical laughter.
“What the fuck is wrong with these two?” The soldier said, elbowing Randy in the ribs to get his attention.
“Beats me, these fuckers were already pretty off kilter before, I think there on the edge of jus losing their shit,” He said matter of factly. Glancing sideways at the soldier he began again. “What do we do with’em?”
“We take’em back, we need every able bodied person to fight these things, no point in leaving them to get chewed up later on either,”
The halls were musty, Gem’s nosed crinkled for a moment, before she let out a loud sneeze, elicting a slight glare from both of the men. ‘What’s up with these two, one moment Buster seems to be my friend and then he, isn’t. He isn’t mean, but. . . are all humans like this?’ She thought, trotting along. It felt wrong to her, they had partially disassembled the remains of her launcher, while the removal of the scrapping barrel was welcome. It still bothered her to let them touch it. It bothered her more that they didn’t trust her with the remnants of her ammunition, ‘Are they really that worried she would use it on them?’
“Here’s the plan, we’re going to stick to the alleys around the warehouses, We’ll head out along that way, the more cramped paths will let us hide out more from those berserkers. We’ll head through a few of the old warehouses and t-,” Buster frowned as he was interrupted.
“Then we’re headed towards the bad fencing along the southern half of this place?” Both men frowned at her, Randal shook his head slowly.
“That’s how yall got in wasn’t it, well. . . ifn those guards ain’t dead there in for a heaping load of trouble,” Randal said, continuing along through the office.
‘Not mentioning it but I don’t think they're dead. . . well after Grim kicked that new foal in the face for having the audacity to attack Shimmer I think he did. Lovely looking pegasus now though,” Gemstone thought to herself, falling along the two men silently cursing her inability to move as quietly as them as her hooves let out a gentle clip clop against the tile.
*Crick crack* The door did protest, another buck from Gem nearly jarred it loose, but it was Randal who claimed victory, kicking the door open the rest of the way.
"Move," Buster hissed as they rushed inside they quickly barricaded the door with the aid of Gems magic, and not a moment to soon as hoofbeats and crazed laughter was heard outside, they didn't breath until the hoof beats had passed.
"Looks like there headed towards tha middle of the base," Randal said optimistically.
"Guess there rearin fer a good ol knock down scuffle with the major, crazy bastard."
"What in Equestria's name is wrong with these, things! Ponies do not act like this, I mean some do but not like this," Gem said slowly, the hallway they had entered was dim, but not dark enough to hinder her. The two humans on the other hand were having a slightly harder time at adjusting to the dim light.
"Alright, we just keep on workin our way out of here nice and slowly," Randal said as they began to move once they felt safe.
"Looks like they need to repair some more of these old building and such, Parts of the warehouses were being used as offices and makeshift labs for the folks who were here before. We'll have to be careful, those fuckers left some nasty traps in the older buildings," Buster said, moving slowly at the head of the group.
Gemstones hooves clip clopped quietly against the old tiled floor, her horn was aglow as she shined her multy hued light into each of the darkened rooms, as they headed deeper in the air began to grow musty, and the ambient light became limited to only her horn. 'This is my shot,' She thought 'I could run now, and they wouldn't even see me, how can they shoot what they can't see?' She thought, and she would have bolted if not for the simple fact that the building made her uneasy, the old smell of decaying wood and mildew assaulted her nostrils as she walked. The rooms were empty saved long derelict computers here and there, some of the walls had been torn away to get at the precious copper wire within. Exposed piping dripped from the condensation, the air growing cooler as they went further inside.
"I hate places like this, spooky places give me the creeps," Buster shivered, his breath becoming visible as he continued to lead the group forward into the calm darkness, still and as lifeless .
The still air stirred as the three crept along, silence pressed all around them, welcoming and inviting there eyes played the faintest of tricks at time, the glow of Gems horn caused strange shadows to be cast around the building they crept through.
"Good that we're not outside with them monsters anymore, but. . . can we get out of here soon?" Randal said, he didn't seem frightened but catious.
"Ha, superstious?" Buster chuckled, he kept his eyes peeled open for anything out of the ordenary. The traps were far and few between, but the ones that are left were nasty as can be.
"I don't understand the choice to go with so few windows," Gem said slowly moving along behind Buster, she tripped falling flat on her face, her horn hitting the ground with a soft *Clack* "Ow, wha- AHH!~" she scremed, a firm hand clamped down on her muzzle to silence her. She stood up and staggered to the side retching, she hadn't been prepared for the corpse of the cat at her hooves.
"Yep, unfortunate 'volunteer' for trap hunting," Buster sighed "Not very many people are skilled with trap removal so they figured letting loose a lot of strays would work just as well, look at the trip wire," Buster said pointing out the once taunt line.
"Why didn't you tell her?" Randal said shifting the straps of his flame thrower.
"Yes, why didn't you?" Gem glared.
"Well, it was sort of in plain sight, why didn't you see it?" Buster said back harshly. Gem glared at him for a few more moments before speaking again.
"What killed it?" She said examing the small still form with digust.
"Don't know, first trap we found we scoured high and low for a gun or somethin, but there isn't anything, no one knows what part of these traps kill, they just sort of drop dead."
"Let's get out of ere' this place is giving me the oddest feeling," Randal said urging Buster on, he crept behind Gemstone everyonce and a while his eyes would dart a bit wildly. The air shifted again as a loud rumble was heard from the distance.
"There just fans folks, no boogie men are going to be jumping out at us here," Buster smiled picking up the pace.
"What are they doing," Mikey said slowly peeping out the window as they crept back towards the 'safe' room.
"Those ponies are, freaky. . . freakier," Randy said, looking out the window. A group of ponies was moving about carrying various bits of scrap. They made no sound as they galloped back and forth, they ran in teams a stark contrast to their brethren who passed by in mobs, they worked silently diligently carrying odds and ends, trash and debris to some unseen location.
"This isn't going to end well," Terry said, rubbing the knot on his head. The soldier had clubbed him with the butt of his gun to get him and Mikey to shut up, Donny was rubbing the black eye Terry had given him in turn.
"Fuck'em, let's go, I don't lik-," Randy yelped as with a stutter and shake, the vents grill fell away.
Dust floated through the air, stirred by the threes movement, shadows danced, twisting and turning from the unicorns glowing horn, never one color for long always flowing from one color to the next. The dark, dank, and stale air played tricks on their minds. Out of the corner of their eyes one of the offices looked occupied, a fleeting glimpse of the silhouette of a man, periodically the building would creak causing Gem or Randal to jolt a bit, but the things they were running from were not quiet, they announced themselves.
“This building was going to be used for research at one point, but they kept dicking around with ‘other’ projects, and never managed to fix the place up,” Buster said, his voice breaking the calm.
“What ‘other’ projects are you talking about?” Gem said, looking up, causing shadows to leap about, Randal yelped.
“I. . . don’t much like the dark,” He blushed, speaking slowly with his head down as they both looked at him.
“I’m just a grunt, but I’d say at least one of them has resulted in our ‘happy’ pony party outside,” Buster chuckled grimly. he reached into one of his pouches pulling out a tube. With a snap it began to glow. “Here fraidy cat,” He chuckled, tossing the stick to Randal.
“Fuck you,” Randal said, Gem and Buster chuckled shaking there heads, Randal made sure they weren’t looking slipped the stick into his jackets pocket, and followed.
The vents grill fell, and soon after a pony fell, glittering as it fell. Makeshift armor of scrap covering it's hide. It recovered faster than the men could bring their guns to bear, lunging for Mikey's throat. . . only to meet the butt of Terry's gun, hard.
The pony landed with a thump, scrambling to it's hooves it's howled in bloodlust. The end of Mikeys rifle touched the stallions forehead for a moment, before painting the back of the wall red with gore.
"Should’ve wore a helmet," Mikey deadpanned.
“Shit just gets worse and worse, now there getting armor, what are they going to get next?” Randy spat.
"Dumb fucker, never watched any movies has he?" Mikey spat, freezing for a moment. Out of the corner of his eye he saw her move.
The group was slammed bodily into the far wall by a crashing wave of telekinesis.
"Aw, what wrong, hummies?!" Hissed the mare, grinning. One of her eyes was gouged out, fresh gashes and cuts running along her hide from horn to tail.
"Fuck!" Randy shouted, more pressure as intermingling colors overlaid, more unicorns pinning them against the wall. This is not what alarmed them, what alarmed them were the four soldiers behind them guns at the ready. For a moment Randy thought they were alive, part of the P.E.R. cue, but they weren't, they were all wrong. Eyes glazed over, bits torn away. One man was missing his nose, and they stood there stock still, guns cocked and ready.
"What's wrong with them?" Hissed Mikey, any more force from the five unicorns and it looked like his eyes would pop out of his skull.
"Why, they joined us. Won't you?" She grinned, her horn sparking to a sick glow, a flickering shadows dancing about as though the shadows of a flame.
"Fuck off!" Terry shot back, for his outburst the sick mare on the left began to turn up the light of his horn, slowly Terry's arm began to turn to the breaking point, but even the pony with her mighty magic seemed to be struggling against the man's sure bulk and natural strength. He began to push back, Flesh went flush, cuts opened wider as they turned it up on him, any moment now and the alternating forces would break him.
"ENOUGH!" Hissed their leader, "Bring him to the ground. . ." Terry grunted as gravity and magic flung him to the ground with a thump. "Now now, I never meant you had a choice. Oh a willing participant is 'so' much more useful than my little. . . puppets, but you know as they say," She cooed a wicked grin creeping across her muzzle "More’s the merrier!"
The mare turned to look at him just in time to receive a boot to the face. Mikey had somehow slipped the grip of the three ponies holding him, leaving them with a black eye apiece and one of them a broken snout for their troubles, and was now assaulting them. The meat puppets stared at him with glassy eyes, minds to broken to even consider pulling the trigger without their master's command.
"GET HIM!" She screeched, and her puppets obeyed. Mikey leapt arms stretched out as if for a touchdown as he went after the scattered guns. He was hit hard as one tackled him from the side, dragging him low. He grit his teeth and managed to wrench his way free, his fingertips scrapped the assault rifle as another dead man flopped on top.
Randy wrenched against their grasp, he had to get loose! This was his only shot if he didn't want to end up like her other playthings. The four other unicorns were having none of that though, keeping their attention on the soldier and technician as their leader and her personal minions pinned the man beneath their weight.
"HEADS UP!" Mikey grinned, a pistol clutched in hand that he had wrenched free from one of the men. He leaned out to one side, one arm straight as an arrow, he fired. One of the mares on the side line screeched, rolling on the ground clutching her now shattered horn.
"NO WEAKNESS!" Cried two of the unicorns in unison, bringing their hooves down onto her head with a pulpy *Thwup*.
"What the fuck," Randy mouthed the words, staring in shock as her two 'friends' killed one of their own without hesitation or remorse, in fact they seemed to take great joy in it.
"No weakness," The stallion pinning him grinned, eyes wild and ears straight. Mikey strained against the puppets grasp, and Terry faught against the invisible force which pinned him, but to no avail.
“Mikey, why the fuck didn’t you run for it?!” Randy shouted, struggling against the force that pinned him and the soldier to the wall.
“Hold them still, if they will not join us willingly. We will make you,” The mare smiled before walking between the prone Mikey and Terry, now side by side and pinned by magic and the weight of the puppets. Her horn glowed a flickering and sickly light that sent shivers down the spine of any sane man with the misfortune to see it. Her rictus grin spread wider, and wider still til her face almost seemed as though it would rip, and with a sound between a sob and a laugh she tapped her horn to the forehead of Mikey.
Lights were on in the building, flashlights searching about the darkened interior. Slowly, clutching his head, Mikey shuffled off towards the large ugly building. Thunder rumbled low in the distance.
“I don’t understand what’s going on,” Mikey muttered to himself as he picked up the pace, “I can’t be asleep, can I?”
He made his way slowly to the building, before sitting on a bench underneath the awning of the ugly building, as he clutched his throbbing head to make the world stop spinning. The rain came down in a torrent as the bottom fell out, and for a while Mikey leaned back, enjoying the scent of old oil and fresh rain. ‘Not the first time I’ve dreamt something like this.’
“No it well, do ya son?” Asked the man next to him, Mikey nearly fell out of his seat at the sudden appearance of this stranger.
“The hell?!” Mikey sat in mild shock. Not used to folks getting the drop on him. The old man turned his head to him, and with a gleam in his eye began.
“Where do you think you're at, right now?” He smiled as Mikey straightened himself up.
“I don’t know, looks like a shit hole for me though,”Mikey smirked as the old man began to chuckle.
“Hey, says a lot about you now don’t it?” Grinned the man. In the distance the far off buildings shifted, twisting and turning as what looked like plant life engulfed them, before wrenching them about, twisting and turning the large towers into odd shapes.
“Where is here?” Mikey asked slowly, only somewhat alarmed at the events in the far distance.
“Damn your dense, if you haven’t figured it out by now I don’t think you ever will,” The old man's smile faded, before turning into a hard frown. “You don’t get it do you?”
“Get what, and no I don’t know where ‘here’ is,” Mikey said slowly, the wind and rain began to pick up. Lighting struck the towers and vines, burning them away. Figures could be seen in the distance, men in black clothes marching off towards the towers and veins, guns, torches, anything they could get there hands on that was nice and sturdy or could kill.
“Welcome to this ‘shithole’ as you call it, but this shithole happens to be your psyche,” The old man's smile returned as he looked at Mikey’s confused expression.
“You mean I’m. . . why?” Mikey said puzzled.
“There trying to take your mind for there own,” The old man said, he reached into his pocket pulling out an old beat up hip flask, taking a long draw from it. He smiled as warmly as the whiskey made him feel before offering Mikey a sip.
“No thanks, who are those angry mob fellas, and who the heck are you? Jiminy Cricket?” Mikey folded his arms as he waited for an answer. The old man took another long sip of his flask before screwing the lid on tight.
“Those fellas are the reason you ain’t been engulfed yet, there what ya call Censors and that storm up there is something akin to them, as for me. . . well I’m a bit of an ‘enigma’,” The man smile grew wider as Mikey only became more confused.
“I don’t understand what exactly is going on,” Mikey cringed as another crack of thunder, and flash of lightning lit up the sky.
“Like a cancer there spreading throughout your mind, but you. . . you and that other guys got a bit of a chance with me here,” The man smiled as he reached into his jacket and pulled out a long object, smooth the cobalt blue steel shimmered in the light of the broken parking lot. Mikey grasped the sawn off shotgun with surprise.
“I don’t understand, how are they spreading. Am I going to become one of those puppets?” Mikey said looking worried, as the man got up slowly. He marched out into the parking lot to the faint cadence of drums.
“They grabbed hold of what they could boy, like a cancer you gotta cut’em out,” He smiled at Mikey as he strode towards the light of a bent lamp post. “How much of ‘you’ are you willing to drop, how much flesh will you cut away, let fall into the dust?”
“Wait, DON’T GO!” Mikey said, hopping up, he ignored his headache as the man stepped backwards into the light underneath the lamp post. Lighting flashed, striking the pole, Mikey shielded his eyes, and the man was gone.
“How much are you willing to lose, sacrifice. . . to win,” The voice whispered around him like the wind.
Street lamps shone along the street, poles twisting every which way, some of the lights didn’t shine on the twisted and broken road that Mikey walked down, in crooked window frames images flickered, and faces from Mikey’s path seemed to peer through at him, scowling and snorting. Each step revealed painful memories to the man, better left behind in the dirt where they belonged. Hatred surged through the man as he watched things too painful to mention swam in front of his eyes, as the faces in the window panes laughed and mocked him silently. When the branch of the screaming and twisted tree shaped creature struck him, it was almost a relief. Almost.
“Fuck!” Mikey yelled clutching at his chest, a few broken ribs added to his worries. The twisted beast thundered towards him. From the darkness of one of the buildings burst forth a man out of the darkness. The shadowy tree beast howled as one, two, five of the men rushed it. Familiar tools clutched in their hands, hatchets, knives, drills, wrenches and guns clutched tightly. They began to swarm the beast who shrieked and howled as it threw them off to the side where the burst in a flash of lights and a flitter of sparks. It charged Mikey as he staggered to his feet, only saved by the road splitting in two, a great ravine forming as the buildings rolled back and away.
“I HATE THIS PLACE!” Mikey howled firing shots of rapidly as more things charged out of the woods about him. Shadows, men stitched together with knives jammed in their sockets, a thing of many legs flesh and wood, leaking blood from gouts in its hide and knots in it’s trunk. The thing from before, it seemed to rush him, fused with nightmares it welled up growing larger spreading it’s roots through the ground, the ground itself moved, not the tree. Earth cracked and split as the hellish thing started to take root, Bones hung from it’s branches and bleeding horns slowly plumped, growing and shifting into fruit that burst in a shower of blood.
The sky cracked open and there was light. Thunder boomed, roaring it’s cry of anger as the tree was split. Winds howled as it was torn free from the ground, wrenched free by it’s wretched roots. The vile corruption that it spread slowed, clawed and torn away by more of the men before as they worked with shovels and Picks. They cleared the area as fast as it was taken, but it was only delaying the inevitable. The thing was forcing it’s way into Mikey’s mind.
“It is inevitable, as with all weak minded fools. Defeat is the only option, you will be ours soon,” Croaked a voice from the black ether.
“No, I-,” Mikey choked as darkness closed around him, lights about him winking out of existence one by one. Something shifted about him and he was wrenched free, pulled into a light by something.
“You all right?” Terry asked hesitantly.
“No, I don’t really think so,” Mikey paused clutching his head, for a split second an overwhelming rage boiled in him, urging him to rip and rend. The lights hurt his head, but what had happened to him sickened him. Chains of various links encircled some of his limbs, running through him, there was no pain just a dull ache, a hunger for something.
“What happened?” Terry said, concern flashed across his face as Mikey staggered. With a firm grasp Terry pulled Mikey into underneath the lights as to get a better look at him. Parts were alright about him, looking almost untouched, other parts looked as though they had been swapped with some raggedy man, torn flesh. Gashes and gouges all about the side of his chest, gray fleshed, pale. All around it on the other hand was clean looking, and new.
“I got grabbed, thing sucked me into that. . . darkplace, nothing but screaming and. . . then I brushed up against something.
“Me too,” Terry said. “I was in an old house, the floor swallowed me up,” Reluctantly he turned around with a rattle of chains. The same style of gouges and marks covered his flesh, though around his wounds they looked leathery, and burnt. His fingertips seemed to be burnt to the bone, but his face and neck were unmared. A sicking contrast to the rest of his burnt and slashed look, Mikey had fared far better.
“Bravo,” came the voice of the old man, his face looked more grim this time, though not without that bright spark in his eyes. “Out of everyone I was able to help, you both fucked up the worst.”
“Wait, what the fuck are you talking about, were ok!” Mikey shouted at him, his voice had something to it now, and he shrank back from whatever it was. He felt, wrong.
“I guess you two could be said to be ‘happy’ little accidents. Those things got their teeth into you real good, Hell you rushed right into their damned jaws!” The man sighed,he reached into his jacket, a warm glow appeared in his hand as he lit a cigarette. With a groan of pain and weariness he leaned against the lamp post. “Though, I guess that’s what saved you.”
“Hold up, the floor ate me, I didn’t even know what to do!” Terry bellowed, his wounds seemed to bleed as though cracked open.
“Don’t worry, in your failure you have succeeded in another way, though it has a price. You have been touched by their hate, pieces of yourselves. True selves, torn away, mangled and reshaped. Though, luckily. . . they couldn’t get deep enough due to all the thrashing about you two did. You flopped about like a couple of air drowned fish, and luck would have it. you flopped right back into the water.” The old man sighed, taking a long draught of his flask. as before he offered a drink to Mikey, and then to Terry. ”You’ll have to be smart about it, they believe you are with them. When you wake you’ll have a chance to take them by surprise, but that doesn’t worry me too much. What does is this, keep tabs on your thoughts, those things from before still lurk here, though they are now rooted in the wrong parts, unvital pieces of your mind. . . you both must watch and keep your impulses under control. If you don’t,” The man smiled taking another drink.
“If we don’t, then what?” Mikey sneered, but caught himself. surprised at his own reaction.
“You will wish you will have never been,” The man smiled “One last thing, Terry. I think you can stop hitting her now.”
“Wait,” Terry asked puzzled, that original dumb goofy look overriding the grim mask he had been wearing.
“I SAID I THINK SHES DEAD!” Randy screamed, He and the soldier were both standing far away. something had them spooked, badly.
“What I do-,” Terry stopped, taking in his position. He was atop the main unicorn, straddling her. Something wet and red trickled down across his fingers, tightly clenched into a fist. He couldn’t recognize her face.
“I don’t, just. what's happening?” Mikey said, he looked at his hands. Arms and fists were stained with blood, in a daze he wiped his bloody limbs against the front of his jumpsuit. It occurred to him suddenly that the two terrified men in the corner had their guns trained on them. Mikey stood slowly and shakily, Donny cocked a shotgun, pointing at the weary man.
“Don’t pretend like you don’t fucking know, they held you down. She said she was going to make you into her puppets like them and then. then you just.” Randy shook, “You two woke up, and just started killing everything!”
“I don’t, we don’t remember,” Mikey’s eyes settled on the red ring around Randys neck, strangle marks, fresh.
“What happens now?” Terry said slowly standing with a groan.
“We go back to command, you two fuckers are going to walk in front of us, til we know what the hell happened we’re keeping your guns!” Randy yelled again, Donny nodded in agreement.
Mikey and Terry walked in front of the wairy two, guns trained on them.