>Unleash the hobo on the office and THEN go back to the barracks.
I smoulder all the way back up to the top floor.
My guards are waiting for me when I storm into the dingy office. Happy snaps to attention and salutes me, while Golden, having been picking his teeth with his spear, hastily drops his weapon and mimics his partner. I give him a disapproving look.
"Where's the hobo?" I ask.
Happy casually opens the door to the ruined office we entered through. The hobo, slumped against it, falls at my hooves with a yelp. I stand over him as he spits a glob of phlegm onto the carpet, and then looks up at me with another toothless grin.
"Oh, hey again!" he says, cheerfully.
"What's your name?" I ask.
"Fishstink, at your service!"
He flops around on the floor. I think he was trying to stand up and bow.
"...Fishstink," I say slowly. "...Appropriate, I suppose. Listen, Fish, how would you like to make..."
I pull my wallet out of a pouch under my armour, and look around inside.
Fishstink stares at me, jaw hanging open. He looks at me like I promised him the moon. With a burst of joyful energy, he leaps up into the air, screaming.
When he comes down again, he's once more standing on his forehooves, pointing the rotten remnants of his hindquarters in the air.
"Whadda I gotta do?"
I turn my wallet upside down, and empty the six bits I was carrying onto the carpet. He gasps and starts collecting them.
"Me and my comrades are going to leave now. You will not. I am giving you free reign of Town Hall. Wreck this place beyond all repair, and don't stop until you are arrested. As long as you don't mention us three, I'll pay you the other half when I let you out of jail."
Assuming he even does end up in jail. Knowing the Sunheart Company as I do, it's just as likely that Mister Fish will be killed horribly, but hell if I care.
"Y'can count on me!" Fishstink says, saluting.
My two guards stare after him as he waddles off into the office, and I turn my contemptuous glare onto the secretary mare behind her desk. She sweats nervously when I trot up and look down my nose at her.
"Now, in the event that you are questioned as to how Fishstink got in, what do you say?"
"Um..." The mare looks at the floor. "Y-You were never here?"
"No, that's stupid. I just came back from talking with the Mayor. I was seen by half of Town Hall. Of course I was here, you dumb bitch."
She blinks. I sigh and point a hoof to her.
"The correct answer is, you let in Mister Fish, because he asked really, really nicely, and you are a stupid pony with poor judgement who eats shit."
The mare trembles slightly.
"Why are you doing this?" she asks with a squeak.
This triggers my PTSD flashbacks so hard, I have a minor episode on the spot.
I made you some cookies, my little Moonglow!
CELESTIA, MOM, FOR THE LAST TIME, MY NAME IS AGONY NOW!
Oh, I'm sorry! I keep forgetting! Well, I'll just leave these on the side for you here.
I DON'T WANT YOUR STUPID COOKIES, MOM!
I just don't understand... What happened, Agony? You were always such a sweet little colt. Why do you have to be like this?
MOM, GO AWAY! I'M TRYING TO SET THESE ANTS ON FIRE!
I shake my head to snap myself out of it. I think I've been staring into space for the last minute and a half.
"Um... are you alright, sir?" the mare asks.
I growl and lean over her desk, making her shriek and back up against the wall.
"I reiterate!" I shout, frothing at the mouth. "Everything that happens tonight is your fault, because you are a stupid bitch, and I don't want your damn cookies!"
"Okay, okay!" she cries, tears streaming down her face as she hugs the wall. "It's all my fault! I won't give you any cookies!"
I take a deep breath and drop back onto all-fours, attempting to regain my composure.
"Come on, boys. We're leaving."
It takes us longer than it should to escape Town Hall. The building does have a central stairwell that leads all the way to the bottom, but a floor's worth of stairs are missing. Not a problem for me, because again, wings, but my guards take a while to work up the courage to jump. I end up having to push one and threaten the other.
Eventually, however, we reach the bottom floor, and walk out into Town Square. I look upon it and sigh, taking in the sights of the litter strewn across the grass, the dead trees, and the rusty statue in its middle.
I recall the ceremony that ocurred here earlier today, marking the beginning of our term as Dragonfall's new law enforcement. The Mayor gave a speech to a crowd of confused yokels and disinterested mercenaries. Captain Blackheart accepted an unearned medal and a hoofshake, smiling like the smug bastard he is. And I stood up on a podium to be deputised with the other lieutenants, glowering all the way through and making throat-cutting motions at the ones who voted in favour of this awful contract.
That was only a few hours ago, but already night has fallen. The northern wind cuts through me like an icy dagger, and the Mare in the Moon looks down upon the city, no doubt dreaming of shooting down from space and annihilating us all in one big cosmic disaster. I can empathise.
I stride across the green, followed by my guards, until I reach the rusty statue. I saw it earlier during the ceremony, but I never actually went up to look at it. It's probably the only public work of art in Dragonfall still standing, so I'm curious about it.
Up close, I can see that it depicts a snarling dragonness lying on her back. Her head dangles down, and her wings are flared, but they're also full of holes. I belatedly realise that she's meant to be in freefall, literally a dragon falling. In one claw she grasps what looks to be a crown, while with the other she clutches at her chest. On the statue's plinth, I notice a brass plaque displaying a simple cursive quote beneath an image of a golden apple.
"Everything dies eventually."
The quote makes me blink. I won't deny, it's the most fitting motto I ever could've imagined for a city like Dragonfall, but it leaves me at a loss for words. It's like all the gruesome pictures that were hanging in that corridor in Town Hall. It's just weird. Admittedly, I haven't been in this city for long, but the impression I've gotten so far is that the ponies of Dragonfall are morbidly obsessed with their own doom.
Then again, I suppose I can hardly blame them; I'd probably want to kill myself too if Dragonfall was my only home.
I shake my head and turn away from the statue. "Screw this. Let's get out of here."
We return to the northwest barracks to find it in chaos. There are soldiers posted on the gate outside now, but half of my platoon are also outside for no apparent reason, shivering in the cold and talking amongst themselves. Breakspear is among their number, and I shoot him a questioning look as I approach.
"Sir," he says, walking up and saluting.
There's a look in his eyes. Apprehension. Uncertainty. I have to swallow slightly.
"Breakspear... what are you all doing out here?"
"It's uh... well... You had best come and see for yourself."
I dismiss Happy and Golden, and follow Breakspear into the barracks, where the rest of the soldiers are. Most of them are gathered in the mess hall as we enter, but some are in the barracks themselves, clustering around their beds. They all give me hopeful looks as I pass, unaware that I have utterly failed them today.
Breakspear guides me to the corridor leading to the armoury, and the door to the flooded basement halfway down. My jaw hits the floor. Every surface is coated in a slimy green sheen, and three piles of glistening wet bones lie between the basement door and where I stand.
Breakspear rubs his chin. "Yeah... see... after you left, there was... an incident."
I stared at him incredulously. "What kind of incident?"
"Something came out of the basement... Some sort of slime creature. It ate three soldiers, spat out their bones, projectile vomited over the walls, and then disappeared into the depths again."
I try to say something, but all that comes out is a stream of confused spluttering. Breakspear patiently waits for me to finish my crisis, and then wordlessly offers a mint in his hoof. I take it, and try some more deep breaths.
"Ohhhhhhkay..." I say, staring at the ground. "For now, just... just... I don't know, barricade the basement door or something. Put some sandbags here, and assign some guards to watch this corridor, and we'll move the armoury to the kitchen."
Breakspear raises an eyebrow. "Why the kitchen?"
"Have you seen it, Breakspear? We are never using that place to cook anything. We may as well get some use out of it."
"Well, that's great and all, sir, but then how are we feeding the troops?"
"I don't know. We'll think of something. Maybe we can set up some sort of tithe system, and make the locals of the Mining District pay us in food."
"Like feudal lords?"
Breakspear smiles. "I've always wanted to abuse my authority like that."
My heart flutters slightly, and I smile back. It's amazing how alike we are. I really think we're connecting emotionally.
But not in a gay way, though.
I yawn as I wake the next day, my eyes bloodshot and stinging. I got absolutely no sleep the previous night. I never do, because of the nightmares, but they were particularly bad this time. Normally, my nightmares are about my various war crimes, or sometimes about my horrible, horrible mother. This time, I dreamed about being a Dragonfall native, which was way worse.
I climb out of bed, and go over to the wash basin. As the lieutenant in charge of this platoon, I have the honour of my own private room, separate from the main barracks. It's small and cold, and the bed is uncomfortable, but it's less dusty than the other rooms I could've claimed, and it has the bonus of being far, far away from the old armoury.
I look into my mirror above the wash basin, and a tired face stares back at me. Opening my mouth, I run my tongue over my teeth, and test the points of my fangs. I also find the mouth ulcer I felt yesterday, and lament that I have nothing to treat it with. I could go to a doctor, I suppose, but I wouldn't trust any doctor who lives in Dragonfall, and the Sunheart Company's own doctors are... well, their kill-counts eclipse those of every other soldier in the company.
A knocking comes at my door, and I stumble over to answer it. On the other side awaits a silver mare in Sunheart armour, a lock of white mane tumbling down over her face. I vaguely recognise her. I think she's a new recruit. Joined just before we took the Dragonfall job. Talk about bad luck.
"Um, hello, sir," she says, smiling shyly. "Sergeant Breakspear sent me. Your breakfast?"
I look behind her and see a tray balanced on her back, held up by her wings. It's a plate of toast and hay-bacon, a pot of coffee, and a newspaper.
"Huh... where did this come from? I thought we only brought rations with us?"
The mare coughs and looks away.
"He... sent me out to a cafe to get it for you," she mutters.
A slight smile creeps onto my face. "How thoughtful."
I take the tray and put it down on a nearby desk.
"Thank you very much, Private...?"
"Silver, sir," she answers, blushing slightly.
"Thank you, Private Silver. Dismissed."
I close the door and sit down at my desk, grabbing a slice of toast and munching on it as I unfold the newspaper. I stop chewing when I read the headline.
MAYOR STONEWALL MURDERED IN OFFICE. SUSPECT IN CUSTODY.
1. Proceed with the day and deny everything.
2. Go to the jail and talk to the suspect.
3. Find and silence the witnesses.