One Colt Army

by VIRAnimation


Time to hatch an escape plan

DAY 2 – 9:00AM

When Sweetie Belle’s consciousness returned sometime later, she noticed her movement was impeded by the constraints of an uncomfortably taut rope. A number of wires ran along the the ceiling and walls into the serviceable equipment around them.

Apple Bloom and Scootaloo were already conscious on either side of her. Scootaloo, who continued to fight against their captors with all her might, was struggling against their constraints. Apple Bloom, on the other hoof, was meek by comparison. Every now and again, her eyes trailed over to Sweetie Belle. She finally let out a groan of frustration when their captor stepped into view.

“I don’t rightly know why you brought us here, and I don’t care.” The filly shot her another glance, her brow drawn in worry. “If you lay one hoof on any of us, you’ll be sorry!”

“It’s funny.” Dox smacked the service station behind them. “I remember specifically warning you of the consequences of opposing me. I will not allow you to ruin everything for me. Perhaps spending a little bit of time in the mines will teach you naughty fillies a lesson.”

“I’m not going anywhere with the likes of you.” Scootaloo said as she took the rope into her mouth and began chewing it. One of the rungs binding them snapped.

“Then perhaps I shouldn’t wait until then.” The colt took an exposed wire in his hoof and shocked Scootaloo into submission. She cried out in agony, which resulted in the farm filly’s shout in protest. When Dox struck her with the wire, she too bit back in pain as she quieted.

Dox turned to her, and for a moment it appeared as if he was contemplating delivering the same treatment to her. He ran his hoof along her chin instead, which sent shivers down her spine.

Suddenly, the door barged open with a resounding crash.

“What in the bloody hell is going on in down here?” Raden stood resolutely in the doorway. His anger was all but subdued as he approached them. “You’re down here cutting our lines again, aren’t you? We very well need those to be working!”

“Who do you think you’re talking to?” There was no timidness in Dox’s voice although it was almost too quiet to hear. “I can take everything in your life that you hold dear with the clap of my hooves: Your money, your title… I can even take away your crew. And you talk that way to me?”

All of the confidence Raden possessed mere moments before drained away from his face. His shoulders slumped, and he took a tentative step back.

“Do not oversell yourself, Raden. You are nothing but an insignificant pawn in my father’s grand design. There is no reason to fret, however, so long as you do your bidding, and I command you to fix what our little prisoners so wrongfully destroyed in their escape attempt.” Apple Bloom tried to object, but Dox smacked her she could get in a word edgewise.

“Understood.” Raden let out a sigh as he backed down from his confrontation altogether. He stared down at the three fillies forlornly and bowed his head. “I shan’t question your authority any longer. Take them to the mines as punishment, while I fix the bloody mess only they could have made.”

“As if we would waste our time trashing this room instead of-” Scootaloo cried in pain as she was zapped again.

Raden exited the room while Dox unfastened them from the post. He gave a cackle as he readjusted the rope to fully secure them in his grasp. He pulled them into the hallway, where they passed the distraught mercenary leader on his return trip with a bundle of cords wrapped around his shoulder. He murmured a quick apology to them before he disappeared into the maintenance quarters.

Dox took down a series of passageways until they come to an elevator. Once they were inside its interior cabin, Sweetie Belle’s attention was drawn to the panel next to the door. There were buttons, which ranged from zero to ten, arranged along two columns on the console. A danger warning for toxic gas on the lower three floors was inscribed on a label mounted below them.

Her breath hitched when Dox pressed the button for the bottom floor. The expressions on the other girl’s faces when she glanced over to them were mixed. Scootaloo bit her lower lip and clenched her eyes shut, while Apple Bloom shied away from Dox and toward the corner of the cabin, which lurched downward shortly thereafter.

It finally came to a stop when it reached the bottom, where it opened out into a cafe as the door receded. The residual stench of oil fumes wafted through her nose.

She wasn’t able to take stock of the scene as she and the others were dragged. She hesitantly trudged close to the wall as they continued into the naturally forming interior. The walls were grimy to the touch as she ran her hoof along its rough surface.

One of the nearby slaves caught her attention when he screamed out as he stumbled into a hole. His cries died away as the sound of a thud emanated from below.

Sweetie Belle’s ears fell back. she could already tell, even without peering over the edge, that the unfortunate pony had come to an untimely demise. The disinterested looks in the other slaves suggested that they were no strangers to this type of occurrence.

She was forced away from the wall with a firm tug as she assessed the weary state of the ponies around them. She was terror-stricken, and she ground her hooves into the dirt as Dox brought her and the other fillies to a nearby rocky outcrop. Embedded in it were brilliantly shining gems of all shapes and sizes.

“You will harvest these prized gems for my father and I without delay.” The colt untied them before he pointed to some rusted pickaxes which laid haphazardly on the floor around them. “Those are your tools.”

“I refuse to do your bidding,” Scootaloo said with a terse frown adorning her features.

She was promptly shoved into the ground by the colt, who looked less than amused by her disobedience. He glared at Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom. Apple Bloom picked up one of the pickaxes in her teeth and teetered to one side due to its sheer weight. Just as she regained her balance, Dox snickered and kicked her over forward, and the utensil fell from her mouth.

“Oops. I didn’t see you there,” Dox said as he walked over to a relatively suitable spot to oversee their work. A gas mask, encased in magic, hovered over to him from the nearby pile of tools. He placed it over his face and took a deep breath of fresh air.

Sweetie Belle was reminded of the nasty fumes which penetrated her nose, and despite her best efforts, she couldn’t stave off the oncoming cough.

“Hey, what about us?” Apple Bloom said. “Why don’t we get a mask as well?”
“Why should I care for the safety of my toys, who hold no meaning to me other than the satisfaction of watching them break.” A sinister smile played on Dox’s lips. “If you hurry, then you won’t be here long enough to be affected by it much anyways. Now get working, you mules!”

“Did he… just call us mules?” Sweetie Belle asked.

“Let’s just get this over quick and get out here,” Apple Bloom replied with a groan. She hefted the pickaxe in her mouth and walked over to the outcrop next to Scootaloo, who was reluctantly smacking away at the gems.

Sweetie Belle grabbed at her own pickaxe and struggled for a moment. As she joined her friends, her longing to escape this unending nightmare escalated.

DAY 2 – 10:00AM

Their survey as they skirted around the perimeter led them to an area that was somewhat less secure by comparison to the well guarded entrance. Rumble crawled through the bushes and brushed them aside to peer at the facility before them. A control box was mounted along its back wall.

As he backed away and let the brush return to its resting position, he turned to his partner, who returned after a quick endeavor. Sweat matted her hair but otherwise didn’t appear affected.

“There is a small window of entry along the south wall where the cameras aren’t facing,” Rez said. “If we get to that wall, then there’s a chance that we can get inside undetected.”

“I sense a but coming,” Rumble replied.

“But,” she continued. “We have to act fast. There is a patrol walking the perimeter every ten minutes. That doesn’t give us much time to act. And there is still the matter of the patrol guns at the front.”

“I might have a solution to that problem as well.” Rumble crawled back through the bush and pulled it aside to reveal the cable box. “It’s a long shot, but that box might have security overrides to disable those guns.”

“We can’t risk it.” Rez frowned and shook her head in dismay. “If we cut the wrong wires, we could alert them to our presence faster than a gunshot wound. We are also spending what precious time slipping past the patrol. We’ll have to find another way of dismantling those guns. Come this way.”

They quietly approached within viewing distance of the facility at the other end of the copse of bushes. The structure’s entrance was heavily fortified with a metal sheet lining the door. A half dozen turrets were spread around the premises, and they swiveled about freely in constant rotation, ready to engage any uninvited guests.

By the time the turrets completed one full rotation, a patrol consisting of two pegasi stallions came around the bend. Bolt action rifles rested freely upon their shoulders as they marched stolidly and energetically.

When the guards turned away and began receding toward the other end of the facility, Rumble, with Rez close behind him, kept to the bushes and followed after them.

“On my mark, we go together.” Sweat glistened down Rez’s fur as her ears twitched. She shook her head and muttered something incoherent under her breath. “I hope you know what you’re doing.”

“I’ve done it at least a dozen times in training. I could do this blindfolded,” Rumble lied. “We’ll be in and out of that panel lickety-split.”

The truth of the matter was that Rumble wasn’t entirely certain he could. It was no lie that his training covered the basics of circuitry, but it did not extend much beyond that. If it were complicated, his deductive reasoning skills would only take him so far in isolating the power to the turrets.

Rumble watched anxiously as the cameras panned back and forth. A lump formed in his throat as he tried to swallow, and his eyes flickered between them as he waited for Rez’s signal. The seconds prolonged into minutes, and he dug his hooves into the ground.

“Now,” Rez said just loud enough for him to hear.

They broke out into a gallop toward the building. The journey only took seconds, but it felt much longer. One of the cameras nearly spotted them as they closed the gap. When they reached the exterior, they hugged against the wall and hurried over to the panel.

Rumble could see that several cables ran through the panel when he opened it. There was nothing to distinguish the correct cable from the rest; that was what he was afraid of. He pulled out his wire cutters and strained in his attempt to select one. He placed the cutters up next to one, hesitated, and then pulled back to reselect another.

“I’m going keep a watch for the guards while you take care of that,” Rez said suddenly. “I’ll let you know if the turrets shut off.”

Rez peered around the corner once she stepped up to it. She pressed her hooves into the wall, and then she peered over the side for a moment. She then signaled to Rumble that the coast was clear by winking.

Rumble returned his attention to the panel. He flicked a tongue out between his lips and squinted his eyes in concentration. Finally, he clenched his eyes shut and randomly cut one. There were sounds of mechanical structures powering down off in the distance.

“Hey, that did it.” Rez ran over to his side. “The turrets are down. Very nicely done, little one. And not a moment too soon. The guards are just about to round the corner.”

“This way!” Rez grabbed his hoof and pulled him along. As they neared the corner on the other end of the exterior, she gave him a sideways glance. “We can avoid detection if we head in this direction, but we have to hurry.”

Suddenly, he stumbled across a stone. His balance was only momentarily affected, but the action slowed them temporarily. They were spotted before they were able to round the corner, and he could hear one of the guards shouting upon spotting them.

“They’ve spotted us,” Rez cried. “We have no choice but to turn and fight them now, or they’ll alert the others of our presence.”

Rumble stopped mid run to answer her call. The guards were already upon them by the time he turned around, their rifles pointed and ready to fire.

If it were not for Rez’s quick hooves, that might have been the end of him. Well placed hits sent each of their weapons careening a safe distance away. She followed up her assault by flipping over and smacking them with her rear hooves.

The guards were prepared, however, and they caught her appendages before they fully connected. They pulled her back, which caused her to lose balance. A well placed strike from each of them knocked her flat onto her belly, and one of them dug his hoof into her back before she could react.

“Think you can handle one little colt?” The guard standing over Rez teased the other.

“He doesn’t look so tough.” the other guard, with a smirk planted across his face, stepped toward Rumble menacingly. He made an attempt to grab at him, leaning forward and extending his hooves around the colt.

He skirted under the guard and made a mad dash for Rez. He hopped over her and onto the first guard’s back. He wrapped his hooves around the guard’s neck and pulled back, causing the mercenary to release pressure on his companion.

This was all that was needed for Rez to interject their quarrel with successive strikes that sent the stallion teetering to the ground, where he laid writhing in pain.

Rumble finished knocking him out with a kick of his own before he turned his attention to the remaining guard, who was sprinting across the field toward the front entrance.

There was no time to think. If he didn’t act quickly, the mercenaries would be alerted of their presence, and all their effort scoping the fortifications over the course of the last few hours would all go to waste. Rumble rolled across the ground and picked up one of the fallen rifles, aimed, and fired. The guard, shot in his hindquarters, landed on the ground with a resounding thud, and he held himself to stave off the pain.

Rumble dropped the rifle when he was suddenly pulled into an embrace by Rez, who surprised him by tightening her grip on him and planting kisses each of his cheeks.

“My little hero!” Rez stroked his main before releasing him. “I think it’s time we proceed.”

DAY 2 – 12:30PM

Only three hours have passed since the crusaders first entered the cave. The searing heat, in conjunction with the foul gaseous odors, made for abysmal conditions. Sweetie Belle looked over to her left. Apple Bloom looked ready to keel over from exhaustion. For the better part of the last hour, she had been dealing with an oil vein she had unwittingly struck. Sweetie Belle felt sorry for Apple Bloom, who was still trying to pat the oil out of her wet mane, as she turned her attention toward Scootaloo. The orange Pegasus, energetic as always, was still smashing through rock at an alarming rate. It was thanks to her that they had already almost filled up the fifty wagons of gems tasked to them by Dox. Their exhaustion, however, was already borderline overwhelming.

Sweetie Belle wasn't immune to the effects exhaustion was having on her body either. Her hooves were filthy after the long hours of mining for gems. She could practically feel the grim on her poor mane and tail.

“I think you're about done here for today girls.” Dox clapped his hooves.

“So, can we go up for air now?” Apple Bloom said.

“When I say done for today, I do mean yes. Now, follow me to the elevator” The CMC put down their pickaxes and take off their helmets.

There was an eagerness to their step as they trailed behind Dox. They gave a collective sigh of relief once the elevator doors were closed. The putrid gases were almost immediately vented out and replaced by fresh air. The elevator lurched into movement once Dox keyed in the correct floor.

Once they were on the fourth floor, Dox led them into the showers so they could rinse after being in those caves for an indeterminate amount of time. Dox watched them clean off as the girls felt slightly uncomfortable with a stranger colt they only meet early today watching them. Once they got done showering off, Dox then ordered the girls to follow him back to the monitoring station.

When they arrived back into the monitoring station, Dox gave out new orders. “Alright girls, now I want you all to finish writing on those juicy reports on the mercs, and this time, I'll be watching ya.”

The girls realized that they have no choice now since Dox is now gonna be sitting in the room watching them while he's in his own chair.

Sweetie Belle turned back at some of the different channels when she noticed that the same video camera feeds that showed the outdoors are offline.

“Aww, I was hoping you two can write about someone taking their business in the woods. Oh well, there's still a lot of spots to check out girls,” The white colt said in disappointment momentarily before his smile returned.

“Say Dox, we're just writing about ponies you don't care for right, not ponies who are decent?” Apple Bloom responded.

Dox then had a nasty thought in his mind.

“Girls I know exactly who you should write about,” Dox switched the monitors to show two officers in their bland white offices, all of which are having a conversation.

“Hey, mind explaining why you’re not gonna be here tomorrow?” One of the middle ranked officers said to the lower ranked officer.

“It's my daughter’s tenth birthday tomorrow and she's expect.....” The rookie is cut off by the officer.

“Well your daughter is lame and all she thinks about is puppies and clothing! and she's a mule who wears glasses which makes her inferior.”

“Hey!, Don't talk about my girl like that!”

The middle ranked officer bursts out laughing. “You think I give a damn about you? Well now you’re about to get a beaten for wanting to ditch our group! You’re as lazy as Raden!”

“Well at least he didn’t act like…”

The officer cut him off as he ganged up on the guy as he beat the crap out of him until he cried and coughed up blood.

“Looks like supporting Raden and having a daughter keeped you from doing your job!” The officer proceeds to press a button which alerted somebody to go into their room now. Alyx entered the room after hearing the alarm.

“What's going on in here!”

“They beat me for caring about my...my....family…”

Alyx struck the officer’s face and knocked him out. “Looks like this traitor's being demoted to being a slave....forever! Officer, strip him of his uniform and restrain his magic. He's going to the mines.”

They were shocked by what they saw.

“That's terrible!” Scootaloo screamed.

“Why they just do that?” Apple Bloom questioned.

“Write about how funny that guy is or I'll take you back to the mines with him!”

“But...” Apple Bloom pleaded. “I'll do anythin’, we won't escape again. We promise!”

Dox was not buying the idea at first. he then got an idea, however. “Did you say anything?”

“Yes!” The farm filly cried with tears in her eyes.

“Alright, here's the deal. I'll leave you alone in this room if you promise not to escape again. But only if you actually write about losers like him and the other traitors.”

Sweetie Belle said, “What’s in it for us?”

“You do all of that while I'm out of this room for the next 3 hours, and I'll actually play with you three, I'll even give you a break in my bedroom”

Apple Bloom was about to say something when she was suddenly interrupted by Scootaloo. “We accept.”

“Good, I'll be back in about three hours, and there better be plenty for my 1st issues of Gabby Gums.” Dox left the monitoring station while once again locking the door where only mercenaries and Dox can open easily.

“What the hay did you just sign us on?” the farm filly faced Scootaloo and struck the control panel with her hoof.

“Look, I know what you’re thinking, but look don’t worry. We have three hours to find a new plan. We can act like we're continuing to write by the time he gets back, if nothing else.”

“Well.... I guess it can work, as a Temporary Solution” Apple Bloom responded calmly before switching back to anger “But you agreed to us to be in his playroom, if he does anything to us, especially Sweetie Belle, I will kick your flank if we ever escape”

“Girls, please don't worry about me.” the unicorn filly said, “We're doomed to heed his demands. Did you see how much he wanted us to embarrass?” Raden's voice patched through on one of the security cameras before Sweetie Belle could finish. Apple Bloom noticed and began recording the feed.

Raden was sitting at a control terminal striking away on the keyboard.

“Alrighty, time to change the main overwrite password for all the rooms in the base,” Raden said as he starts typing in a password. A voice from the computer announces that the master lock code has been overwritten and that any door or room can be accessed or opened with it. “Good, now to head to ground level. I gotta let the higher ranked guards up there know to tell my boss about the new code”

Apple Bloom pressed a button. The video feed locked on Raden, rotating camera views to maintain focus on him. Raden passed by them, just on the other side of the door, in a manner of minutes. approaching a elevator from within the camera in it, shows him going from Room 4 all the way to Room 10 Ground level, the last camera that works that shows Raden before he goes outside shows him leaving from a hallway to enter a huge room with a center desk in the middle and 2 more rooms at the far left and right. Flipping to the camera on the opposite side shows Raden opening up a huge door which of course shows the lush outdoors as he walks out.

Apple Bloom, having already written the code down somewhere, asked the other fillies in the room. “Girls, we finally have a ticket out of here, but we gotta find out how we can even use this thing.”

Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo looked around the room for clues before eventually finding a small button underneath the hoofprint scanner. Scootaloo presses the button and sure enough, a keypad pops out from the left side of the scanner which allows for a key combination to be used instead of a print scan.

“Hey girls, I brought up this keypad thing but I don't know what it does,” Scootaloo said.

Apple Bloom ran up to her and took a good look at it “Sweetie Belle, mind punching in this code into the keypad?”

“Well, I suppose....” Sweetie Belle punched in the exact code that Apple Bloom has written down, and sure enough, the door unlocked.

Sweetie Belle stuck her head out the door for a while, she can see that the hallway is empty at the moment though this was quickly shortened as she closed the doors immediately when she saw approaching shadows.

“Well it ain't much, but I reckon we're off to a good start so far,” Apple Bloom said. While it’s almost impossible to sneak out without being detected, as guards were still roaming around, they had a better chance if they did it now. “Yea, maybe we could even tell it to anyone who could take us out if they leave” she said. Sliding the keypad back into its spot so it doesn't look like it's been engaged, they go back to the stations to find baddies to write about while also trying to find someone who disagreed with the mercenaries enough to sneak them out.

“Look at here, I think we found our escape plan,” Sweetie Belle pointed to a delivery Pegasus stallion who's carrying a huge case the size of a stallion unpacking a vending machine in the fifth floor, not only that, but looking at the clipboard he's holding, there's a machine that he marked as the last thing to check on that says to take one machine back to his dealership for repair. Sweetie finds the marked machine, “If we can sneak inside of that opened machine, we can make an easy escape, when he gets back to his business, he'll find us, notice that we're missing and report us to Ponyville as being found”

“Sweetie Belle, as silly as this plan of yours sound, I think It just might work” Apple Bloom agrees with Sweetie Belle and writes down the location and time that the pony should be picking the soda machine up for transport.