by DannyJ

Chapter 7: Nothing Can Stop the Smooze

>Call a retreat to the kitchen/armoury, and pray for a miracle.

Over the course of my long career as a mercenary, I've been in some shitty situations. There was that time I was shipwrecked on a desert island, and waited three weeks for rescue, only for the island's owner to roll up in his yacht and shoot me for trespassing. There was that mutiny after I first became a sergeant, when my squad stuffed me into a barrel with around thirty cobras, set the barrel on fire, and then pushed me off a cliff in it. And of course, I could never forget the siege of Uzkushu, where an army of six hundred pissed-off jackals were camped outside my shitty fort, and I had to hold it with only twenty soldiers, a dozen scarecrows, and no food besides the plague rats that they kept throwing over our walls.

It's funny, the things you miss.

"WHY, AGONYYYY... WHYYYYYY...." the slime-ponies moan in unison as they lumber towards me.

Green sludge still leaks from the walls, pooling on the floor. The puddle covers half the mess hall, and is only growing larger. I can still fly over it to reach the far door, but there's no guarantee that it won't just reach up and grab me. If the slime can form four-legged constructs that actually walk, then it can probably make a simple tentacle.

"Uhhhh, sir?!" Yellowbelly screams, climbing onto our breakfast table. "What do we do?!"

Breakspear and Coldsteel stand back-to-back, weapons drawn, for all the good that will do. The other troops who were eating in the mess hall are backing up towards us, occasionally looking over their shoulders to shoot me wide-eyed, fearful looks. The slime-ponies nearest to the edge of the spreading puddle reach out their hooves to the soldiers, and let out wet, gurgling noises that sound like they're drowning.

"I seem to have been caught at a tactical disadvantage here," I mumble.

This plays against all my strengths as a commander. Give me an enemy that I can attack first and take by surprise, and I could guarantee victory, no matter who they are or how large their force is. But take me by surprise, and I'll stumble. Especially when the enemy is slime monsters. I cannot emphasise enough how unprepared I am for a situation like this.

While the monsters continue to moan my name, I spin to face the back of the mess hall. There's a tiny door there, and a big open window with a counter top and a sneeze guard where meals would have once been served. Both lead into the old kitchen, the one which I ordered to be converted into an armoury, and they appear to be the only other way out of the room... Only I don't remember if there's actually an exit through there. And if there isn't, then all we'd be doing is boxing ourselves in.

Well, it's not like we have a lot of options...

"...Okay! Everypony fall back! Get the hell away from this thing!"

My sergeants are the closest to the kitchen door, so they fight each other to be the first ones through. I'm right behind them, and shove them all out of the way. The four of us burst through together and fall into the old kitchen in a heap. Our entrance kicks up dust, and we're coughing as we climb to our hooves and step aside for the other soldiers.

The kitchen is a big room, with stoves and cupboards lined up in rows in the centre, as well as along the walls. All the counters have weapons and armour strewn over them haphazardly, everything from polearms, to crossbows, to chain and plate mail. On one rusty oven in the corner of the room, curiously, is a vase of flowers and a scroll, beneath a black and white photograph of me that's pinned on the wall. Despite the situation, I gallop over to look at it closer.

Oh Celestia, it's a memorial.

The scroll has the word "AGONY" written in the middle, surrounded by messages in dozens of different hoof-writing styles. Most of them, I am annoyed to note, are derogatory.

"Rest in piss – You won't be missed."

"He had a nice ass – Shame about his personality!"

"I hope it was painful."

The only remotely positive message is one that says "10/10 - Gave good head." I wish I knew who wrote it, but it could be from anyone.

"What kind of shit memorial is this?" I shout, turning back to my sergeants and the soldiers still pouring through the door.

"Sir, is this really the time?!" Yellowbelly screams, as a slime monster leans across counter and tries to climb over the sneeze-guard.


"It is absolutely the time!"

There's some turny-handle-thingy on the wall next to the counter. I rush over and grab it, forcing it as hard as I can without snapping it off. There's a creak, and a screech of scraping metal, before a shutter crashes down on the counter and decapitates the creature. A bubbling glob of green spills on the floor and sits there. Meanwhile, the final few soldiers make it through the door, and the last one slams it closed behind him and uses his back to brace it against the tide of sludge.

"I demand to know why I was not properly mourned!"

"Because you're a psychopath who worries about his own ego while the rest of us are dying!" says the soldier holding the kitchen door closed.

"Insubordination!" I shout, pointing a hoof at him. "Latrine duty for a year!"

The slime leaks through the cracks in the doorway. The soldier screams as his flesh melts and sloughs off, leaving only a skeleton, which crumples to the floor and is sucked into the mass. More slime creatures immediately begin forming from the puddle.

"...By which I mean you'll be in the latrine, apparently!" I laugh at my own joke. "Ha! They told me to rest in piss, but at least I'm not resting in a slime monster! You dumb idiot!"

"Sir!" another soldier shouts, tears welling in his eyes. "A stallion just died! Show some respect!"


The slime creatures, now fully formed, continue their advance, most of them turning course to move straight towards me.


I don't think they're even calling my name at this point. I'm pretty sure these creatures just exist in a state of constant suffering, and want me to know it.

I fly to the other side of a row of ovens to avoid the ones coming towards me, as the rest of my troops run for the back of the kitchen.

"Damn it!" I yell. "Soldiers, if there's no exit back there, then grab whatever's closest and smash the back wall until you make one!"

I grab a bag of flour off a nearby counter and throw it at the closest slime-pony, hoping that dry things will slow its advance. Not so, it seems. The flour just sinks into it, and it keeps moving. I grab a halberd and toss that at it next, but it just consumes that as well. Giving up, I flee towards the back of the kitchen, where everypony is crowding around one particular corner.

"Did you find something?" I call, flying over the top of the crowd.

"Yeah – a door!" a strained voice replies. "But it won't... open...! Nyerrhhh!"

I shove my way to the front of the crowd, and find a pegasus stallion pulling at a rusted lock. I stare incredulously at him for a moment, before slapping him across the face, and pointing a hoof at the nearest earth pony. The earth stallion gets the idea, and bucks the door down in a single strike.

Releasing thousands upon thousands of rats.


I scream like a little filly. I'm not ashamed to admit it. So does Yellowbelly, and Coldsteel, and Breakspear, and about a dozen other trained, hardened killers. The rats swarm over us in their hundreds, blocking out all light and sound. They crawl over our bodies, scratching our skin and squealing hellishly. As darkness consumes me, I know that the Age of Ponies is over, and that the Time of the Rat has come.

Fortunately, the prophesied Rat-Tide passes as quickly as it came, leaving only a gaggle of scarred, terrified stallions in its wake. I grab the open door with both hooves and haul myself up, a few stray rats still scurrying beneath me, and stumble forward into the darkness. The rest of my soldiers follow me. Behind us, I hear sloshing liquid and panicked, haunting squeaks.

I barely make it more than three steps before I hit a wall. The soldier behind walks into me and stumbles back, and my troops all fall over again, knocked down like dominoes. Being a thestral, my eyes don't take long to adjust to the light, and I stare at the wall in front of me, still swaying in my dazed and disoriented state.

"It's a... It's a ladder, I think..." I slur, before shaking my head and focusing myself. "We got a ladder! Winged ponies first! Fly directly up the.... whatever the hell this is! Non-fliers, line up for the ladder, alternating between unicorns and earth ponies! Unicorns, we need light for the climb! And hurry! The creature will run out of rats to eat sooner or later!"

I don't stop to oversee the organisation. I just fly directly up into the darkness. The slime monster is right behind us, and if I can get away from it alive, then I will. As for everypony else, well... I told them what they need to do to live. Now their survival is on them.

As I rise, I look around. The walls here are pretty tight, forming a narrow shaft with room enough for the ladder and one body. My wings brush the walls with every stroke. I have no idea what the hell this is, or why it's here, but I'm just thankful for small mercies right now.

I hear beating wings beneath me; it seems my platoon aren't completely stupid.

"Keep going!" I yell to them. "Fast as you can! We need to clear room for the climbers!"

I keep ascending until my head bumps into the ceiling, and then fly forward into a narrow tunnel with a wooden door at the end.

"We've reached the top! Watch out for the ceiling!"

The fliers behind me still bump their heads, despite my warning. I ignore them and run forward to open the door, emerging into... some kind of dusty store room.

"...Where the hell are we now?"

There's nothing in here except for a few crates and barrels, and some metal shelves full of shriveled black things. It's pretty small, too. Given no other choice, I go to the only other door in the room and try to force it open, only to find it locked.

"Damn it, no!" I cry, smacking my head against it.

Now I have to wait for the earth ponies to get here. Great.

"Um... sir?" says one of the pegasi behind me.

"What?" I sigh, turning around.

He points a hoof over to a corner of the ceiling. Green slime is leaking through.

"Shit!" I slam against the door with as much force as I can muster, but it doesn't budge. "It can't end like this! I can't die in a storeroom with a bunch of menials! Celestia, save me! Second, save me! I'd take the Nightmare if she's listening, just please somebody help me!"

Just as I'm about to give up hope, an earth pony finally arrives, hauling himself up from the ladder and crawling into the store room. Unfortunately, it's Yellowbelly.

I sink to my knees and cry, head in my hooves.

"I don't deserve this," I sob. "I did literally nothing wrong!"

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAGONYYYYYYY..." the monster cries, its voice reverberating off the walls.

Conveniently, at that exact moment, the walls all around the door crumble to pieces, leaving only piles of dust and bricks. I blink in surprise.

Then my platoon tramples me as they stampede through, each taking the time to step on my head as they go.

"Ow! Argh! Oof! Damn! Shit! You're all on latrine duty! Arghh!"

A hoof grabs me and hauls me up. Breakspear is beside me, and he yanks me through the hole. I limp behind him as we run along a corridor behind the rest of our troops. The wall to our right, the side the store room was on, is bleeding green everywhere.

"We're not gonna make it..." I gasp.

"None of that quitter talk, sir," says Breakspear, giving me a stern look. "We're both gonna—"

Ahead of us, another wall explodes, and a tidal wave of green sludge washes out and drowns all the soldiers who'd tramped me, Yellowbelly included. My pupils shrink to the size of pinpricks, and my mouth hangs open. Then the green crap comes flooding down the corridor.

Breakspear's horn lights, and he shoots a shield spell ahead of us. The slime crashes through it as if it wasn't there. We both turn and run, screaming at the top of our lungs. The soldiers who were behind us are already running in the other direction.

Then, more slime bursts out of the floor and consumes them, too.

"Can't I get even one break?!" I scream.

No, say the gods.

The cracks from where the floor shattered spread rapidly. Breakspear and I run right into them, and our weight collapses the floor. We scream as we tumble down, crashing into some kind of disused armoury. A wooden table shatters underneath us, and slime drips towards the edges of the hole and begins pouring down. Breakspear and I just barely dodge out of the way, barrelling through another door into yet another corridor.

There are Sunhearts in this corridor, weapons in hoof as more slime leaks from the walls. I separate from Breakspear, and we both gallop for the far end as fast as we can.

"This whole barracks situation is bullshit!" I scream. "Damn you, Blackheart! I hope you burn in hell, you motherfucker!"

Another wall comes down ahead, bringing an entire storeroom with it. Only this time, a miracle! Daylight pours through! Not very bright daylight, and it's accompanied by rain, but I feel the open air on my skin, and the feeling is so wonderful I break out into a huge grin.

I lower my head and charge full-tilt towards the oncoming slime.

"Sir!" Breakspear calls, still following me.

When we get close enough, I rear up and twirl around as I skid backwards towards the slime. I grab Breakspear's hoof with my own and toss him straight over my head. He screams, sailing over the slime and out through the hole in the wall. I grin, and take a backwards leap out after him. The slime pours outside as well, trying to follow us, but it's too late now. We're in freefall over the burned forest.

I spread my wings, and swoop down.

Breakspear flails his limbs as he falls, wide-eyed and screaming. He tries to reach for me. No need to. I dive, flying down faster than he can fall, and sweep up underneath to catch him in my forelegs. He grabs ahold of me, tight enough to restrict airflow, and I can feel his heart thumping against my chest.

I try to slow our drop, but by this point we're already pretty close to the ground, so the best I can do is crash us into a big pile of mud.

I stay there in the mud heap for a while, half-submerged and groaning in pain. I probably have several new bruises, and my multiple stab wounds are aching again as well. Breakspear, already out of the mud, lies against a tree and hyperventilates after his near-death experience.

"Well..." I rasp, coughing up earth. "That... could've gone better..."

Breakspear gives me a look, but says nothing, just nodding his head rapidly while still struggling to breathe correctly.

I pull myself out of the mud as well, leaning against another tree, and turn my gaze back to Dragonfall's western wall. Cracks have formed on the exterior, and I can still see the slime leaking through them, as well as various holes like the one we fell through.

"Celestia, just look at it..." I mutter. "What the hell just tried to kill us?"

Breakspear tries to mime something, but quickly gives up, instead stumbling a little way and then emptying his stomach over the forest floor.

"...Yeah, pretty much my feelings right now, too."

I look up at the sky, which rumbles with distant thunder. The rain is still pouring on us. I hadn't even noticed it until now, but it's picking up. On top of being shocked, injured, and filthy, I'm about to be very wet as well.


With the way today's been going, there's a certain set of words I want to say. I wouldn't normally dare, but considering how bad things already are, I'm just curious what will happen.

"...At least it can't get any worse!" I yell to the sky.

There's a monstrously loud crunch. I slowly turn my head back towards the western wall. Where once there were many leaking cracks, now one giant crack has formed. Then there's another crunching noise, and it grows even bigger. And then a huge chunk falls out, as the entire western wall begins collapsing.

I don't know whether to laugh or cry, so I do both.

Dragonfall never disappoints.

1. Search for survivors in the ruins of the northwest barracks.
2. Reunite with the other Sunheart lieutenants.
3. Live in the woods with Breakspear for a while.