by bahatumay

Going Underground

Lyra looked around as Bon Bon trotted purposefully forward. When they’d boarded the train, Bon Bon had chosen a seat in the rear corner that let her see both ends of the car, and she had put on her sunglasses and had sat at attention, looking around with her ears pricked up the entire ride until the train had stopped. 

Now, they were trotting through Las Pegasus, and Lyra was feeling awkward and out of place. It wasn't that she didn't like crowds; after all, she was originally from the big city of Canterlot. It was just this kind of crowd seemed so different. She was out of her element, and it definitely showed. 

“Don’t look around,” Bon Bon hissed. “Head straight, eyes ahead. Ears up. You know where you're going and you've got someplace important to go. If you look confident-”

“Hey, darling!” A seedy-looking thin stallion leaned out at Lyra. “You’ve got the body of a dancer~! I'm offering you three hundred bits a night! Whadaya say, hot flanks?”

Lyra stammered and blushed; she hadn’t been talked at like that ever before, not even at school. “Well, I-”

Bon Bon pushed her way in between the two. “And if you look confident, you’ll probably avoid creeps like that,” Bon Bon finished.

“Creep?” The stallion gasped. “I am a legitimate businessman offering opportunities for underprivileged-”

Bon Bon nudged him in the ribs with her knee, as if she were checking to see if a friend had gotten a bad joke. Lyra would swear that that was all she had done.

But the stallion suddenly stopped short, choking, unable to breathe. He collapsed to the ground, writhing in pain and trying to gasp for air. 

And suddenly, Bon Bon was all friendly. She looped his foreleg around her neck. “You ok? Here!” She helped him over to the sidewalk and waved over one of the bouncers. “I think he has a kidney stone or something,” she said. “Pain in the lower back, came outta nowhere! Or maybe it was something he ate, I don’t know. I'm no doctor.”

The bouncer stallion hesitated. He was not a doctor, either. Intimidation? Not a problem. Kicking ponies out? Any day of the week. Medical care? Definitely not his cutie mark. Overwhelmed at his new responsibility, he looked around and waved his partner over, hoping she knew something. She came over, but the look on her face showed she was clearly out of her depths as well. She looked around, as if hoping somepony with a medical cutie mark would appear nearby.

And while this was happening, the mare with the three candies cutie mark vanished into the crowd.


Lyra looked around. The casino was bright and loud, just like all the others they'd passed, and Bon Bon had apparently chosen it at random. She wasn't sure what made this place different. They were all very loud, very noisy, and very crowded. Young mares in slinky dresses and tight saddles carried trays of drinks to ponies playing cards. A few rows away, a mare won a jackpot at a slot machine, and her shrieks of excitement nearly drowned out the metallic clangs of her winnings dropping noisily into the tray below. 

Lyra dodged a distracted stallion and darted forward to come next to Bon Bon again. “What did you do to him?” she asked. 

“Nothing,” Bon Bon said innocently. “He’ll be fine. He, uh, may be peeing blood for a while, but he’ll be fine.” She paused. “Eventually,” she amended with a weak attempt at sympathy. She made her way through the crowd, walked into an empty elevator, and waited for the door to shut.

“Do you have a penthouse here or something?” Lyra asked with a nervous giggle.

“Or something,” Bon Bon answered cryptically. She held down the door close button, even though the doors were already closed. Then she reached up with her other hoof, closed her eyes as if to recall something she had long since forgotten, and began to press a few other buttons in a specific order. She grimaced as she hit the wrong button, and she had to release the door close button and try again. 

Midway through her second attempt, the doors opened, and two very drunken mares tried to stumble in. Lyra squinted. They were clearly friendly with one another, something that the smell of alcohol that rolled off their bodies in waves surely enhanced.

“Hey, can you, like, push the floor fifteen button?”

“We’re meeting somepony.”

“Somepony important.”

“Somepony with a really, really big-”

“Now’s really not the time,” Bon Bon said, clearly irritated. “Wait for the next one, would you?”

The mare closest to her took this as an invitation. She leaned in close to her. “Are you sure?” she asked, violating all of her personal space. “Because you’re kinda hot, too.”

“Really?” Bon Bon asked, blinking sultrily. 

“Yeah, really. We could totally bring you up. If you wanted to.”

“I bet he'd be just fine with that.”

“Yeah. You wanna join us?” 

And then Lyra stared in abject, horrified fascination as Bon Bon reached up and grabbed her head… and started kissing her. Really kissing her. Sloppily, messily, and with much more tongue than strictly necessary. The mare closed her eyes and returned the kiss… if you could call slobbering all over her face a kiss.

Bon Bon reached up and hit the door open button with her rear hoof, and pulled back. “Oh, hey, here’s your floor!” she said, bumping them out of the door with her hips. “Wait for me! I need to get a drink first!”

“We will!” The mares waved goodbye, swaying and leaning precariously on each other as the door shut again.

Bon Bon quickly placed her hooves back on the buttons and punched the code in as quickly as she could. The elevator began to descend, and she straightened up and spat, and roughly wiped her mouth off. “Ugh,” she grumbled, spitting distastefully. “Whoever they’re seeing is a cheap loser. Can’t even spring for the good stuff.”

Lyra, feeling very uncomfortable with what she had just seen, elected to remain silent.

The floor counter dial dropped backwards from three (the ground floor) to two, then one… then went even further backwards, disappearing from sight. Lyra froze. “Bon Bon?” she said shakily.

“It’s supposed to do that,” Bon Bon said, not really paying attention.

Finally, the elevator stopped, and the door slid open to reveal… an empty basement made of cinderblocks. Burnt scraps of paper littered the floor, broken chairs were scattered around haphazardly, and a splintered desk sat crumbled and dusty in a corner. 

“They did destroy everything,” Lyra whispered, recalling that fateful conversation as she looked around at the room.

“Probably not,” Bon Bon said as she left the elevator. “They probably repurposed some of the equipment as a new agency or wrote it off as ‘destroyed and disposed of’. Maybe it ‘got lost in transit’ and there’s still some shreds of SEMHA left. I'm hoping, anyway.” She reached the far wall, then turned around to face her tail towards the wall and grinned. “Only one way to find out,” she said, raising a hind hoof and hitting a random block.

But apparently it wasn’t random; it echoed oddly, and a rope dropped from some hidden place in the ceiling. Bon Bon motioned Lyra forward so she was standing next to her, and Lyra looked up.

“Going up?” She tried to crack a joke. 

“Not quite.” Bon Bon pulled the rope, and it retracted. The creaking sound of spring-assisted gears came from the other side of the wall. The bottom section retracted, revealing a passageway just tall enough for a crouching pony. Bon Bon squeezed and wriggled her way inside. She grunted as she managed to pull her flanks through.

Lyra followed, hoping the blush on her cheeks wasn’t noticeable.

Bon Bon reached for something on the wall and lifted a flashlight, but it gave a very dim glow when she turned it on. She tapped it sharply against her hoof, trying a little percussive maintenance to get it to work.

Something cracked inside it, and what little light there was went out.

She tossed it irritably down and turned back to Lyra. “Can I borrow your horn?”

Lyra cracked a smile and cast a lighting spell. The short platform in front of her-

“Eep!” Lyra jumped as the little door shut behind her, nearly trapping her tail in the process. 

Bon Bon cracked a smile. “There’s a reason my tail was short when we first met,” she said comfortingly.

“I like it long,” Lyra said, her heart still racing. “Looks nice.”

“Thanks,” Bon Bon said with a smile. “Just keep watching your tail. There are pinch points on the railing.”

“Railing?” Lyra pulsed her magic harder, and her light glowed brighter. The platform fell away to reveal a long, winding, grated staircase, with a rusty, cracked metal bannister that looked as though it had seen better days. 

Lyra gulped. She’d never been good with heights. She reached out and placed a hoof on Bon Bon’s flank. Bon Bon looked back and understood instantly. She gave her a comforting nod, and slowly began to walk down the stairs, her iron horseshoes clinking against the metal, and Lyra followed close behind. 


The stairway was dark and their hoofsteps were echoey, and water dripped from sources unknown above their heads. They were far away from any of the noise and bustle of the casino above. Lyra held protectively onto Bon Bon, and soon they arrived at a rusted door. The faded, peeling sign read 'maintenance tunnel, authorized ponies only'. 

Lyra squeezed Bon Bon's flank. “I'm guessing we're authorized?” she said, trying again to crack a joke in the damp darkness. 

“I used to be,” Bon Bon answered, reaching up for her sunglasses. “Let's find out if I still am.” She twisted the frame apart, revealing that one of the earpieces was actually an oddly-shaped key. Not even looking at the keyhole, she counted a few spaces over and stuck the key into an inconspicuous gash in the door. With a ‘click’, the door slid open a couple inches, and Bon Bon slowly pushed her way inside, remaining low. “Follow me, but stay low,” she warned. 

Lyra ducked her head and followed.

Their progress was halted at two steps as the barrel of a blowgun suddenly emerged from the wall. Lyra shrieked and dove behind Bon Bon’s tail.

“Whoa! Whoa!” Bon Bon held a foreleg across her face protectively. “Zulu! Alpha! Cookie! Hotel! Echo!”

“Rodeo Lima Echo,” came the reply, and the barrel retracted.

Lyra’s heart was pounding in her chest. She looked over at Bon Bon, who seemed more annoyed than anything else.
“I recognize that voice… Misty Evening!” she called as she rounded the corner.

Lyra followed, and stopped. She was in a large room, bigger than she’d expected from the old door. It appeared to be a boardroom of some kind. In the middle was a long table, but it only had a few chairs around it. It was angled and slightly off center in the room, as if somepony had tried to move it before giving up and leaving it where it was. A few electronic consoles were against the wall, some with circle screens for soundwave readings, others with little bulbs, still others with lights on scissor arms and magnifying lenses. Pictures of ponies were all along the wall, all with notes written underneath. Some pictures were crossed out, some were circled, one had a mustache drawn on in green marker, and most were faded and peeling off the wall.

She jumped as a light pink pegasus in a small wheelchair pushed herself back into sight. Lyra couldn’t suppress a gasp; her hind legs looked as though they had been mangled by a bear and hadn’t healed right, and her right wing was little more than a little stub. “Sweetie Drops,” she responded, a wide smile on her face. “Good to see you again.”

Bon Bon walked over. “How did I know you’d be here?”

Misty exhaled and gestured limply at her wheelchair. “Because there’s no ramp out of this place. I literally couldn’t leave, Sweetie Drops. I’ve been here for ten years, living off rats and what scraps I could get from the casino.”

Lyra’s jaw dropped. 

There was a brief pause, and then Misty burst out in laughter. “Oh, the look on your face!” she guffawed. 

Bon Bon rolled her eyes. “That wasn't funny the first time,” she grumbled. “Lyra, there’s a ramp that folds down.” She tapped a mess of twisted metal by the staircase, and Lyra could see that it would unfold into something that would vaguely resemble a docking plate for the wheelchair.

Lyra scowled.

Misty chuckled. “Oh, I’m sorry. You know I can’t resist playing it on a new pony. Gotta have some fun in a wheelchair, right?”

“She’s not just a new pony; she’s my best friend,” Bon Bon said, descending the steps, “so play nice.”

Misty threw her hooves up. “Never any fun with Sweetie Drops around,” she grumbled. “Just like it always was.” She looked over at Lyra. “Is she still by-the-book follow-the-rules uptight?”

“She’s… mellowed out a bit,” Lyra said helpfully.

“How long have you really been down here?” Bon Bon asked.

Misty Evening threw her hooves up. “And right back down to business, I see,” she said. “No, ‘hey, Misty, how’s work going in the civilian sector?’ or ‘Hey, Misty, try my new chocolates! They're delicious!’ or even ‘Hey, Misty, do your back legs still ache and can I get you some painkillers?’”

Bon Bon exhaled, but decided to humor her. “Hey, Misty, do you need painkillers?” she asked flatly. 

Misty brightened and clapped her hooves together. “Yes, please!” she said. “Extract of the blue flowers of Upper Zanzebra would be best.”

“Aren’t those really illegal?” Lyra asked quietly.

“Class one restricted,” Bon Bon confirmed. “But they’re Equestria’s most effective painkillers if delivered to the body slowly by IM. It’s when you try to put it in straight through a vein that you have a problem with those little floaty side-effects.”
Misty Evening placed her hooves together and smiled.

“You’re not making me go get some before we talk,” Bon Bon said flatly.

Lyra looked back up the stairs and winced. She’d probably rather stay here than risk that climb.

The two ex-SEMHA agents stared at each other in a battle of wills… but Misty was the first to crack. “No,” she admitted, dropping her eyes. “Not with this mess going on. But if you find any, ple- he- hease!” She looked up and whimpered pitifully. “It just never stops! And I took my whole stash with me when I left here the first time and I didn't bring any with me this time!”

Bon Bon sighed. “Fine, I’ll knock some off a two-bit dealer on a corner somewhere for you. First, though, talk to me. How long have you been down here?”

“A couple of days,” Misty said. “Somepony came into my apartment and tried to smother me with a pillow. Probably didn’t expect a cripple to put up much of a fight.”

“What happened to him?” Lyra had to ask.

“Her, actually,” Misty said with a wide smile. “She died of acute steel poisoning.” She tapped her wheelchair, and something popped up from an innocuous piece of the frame. She pulled it out to reveal a long, curved dagger. At Lyra’s stunned expression, she giggled and winked.

Lyra leaned down to Bon Bon’s ear. “Bon Bon, you have very strange friends,” she whispered.

“Tell me about it,” Bon Bon whispered back. She turned back to Misty. “Who else is around?”

“I don’t know,” Misty said, returning her knife to its sheath and turning back to the dashboard of lights. Lyra noticed that all of them were off. “I mean, I’ve been monitoring the security system, but it’s pretty old and everything running on magic capacitors has run out of juice by now. But if I'm right—and I'm afraid I am—none of the other safehouses have had any activity in a long time.”

“And that’s… bad?” Lyra guessed. 

“I'd say so. On our team, M and S are the last alphabetically, aside from Vanilla Swirl. We've been attacked. My best guess, somepony’s systematically hunting down the old team and crossing them off.”

Bon Bon grimaced. 

Misty exhaled slowly and finished. “And it looks like you and me might be the only ones left.”