“Money and power…”
“P-pardon?” A yellow earth pony stallion with chestnut mane and tail as well as a short-trimmed beard framing his muzzle shifted nervously in place watching the large, golden brown griffin sitting on the other side of the desk. He quickly straightened up, though, putting a hoof to his head in salute.
“Money and power.” The griffin inspected the golden Bit between his claws for a moment, then placed it neatly on top of the small stack of coins on his desk. “Those are the two most important things in this world. As Marine Captain, I have more than anyone else on this island of both.” He looked up, his predatory eyes piercing the poor stallion. “I noticed that the tributes seem to be… decreasing, lately.”
The marine nodded, sweating a bit. “Ah, about that… The citizens are having their, uhm, financial problems as well. They don’t have as much money to pay in tribute anymore.”
The Marine Lieutenant of the 153rd base, 'Execution at Dawn' Roter Morgan, narrowed his eyes. “Those tributes secure my position and status on this island and in this whole sea. It’s not financial problems… the problem is that they don’t respect me as they should.”
“L-Lieutenant, you can’t-“
“Uncle!” The door banged open and Diamond Tiara stormed in, a large bruise under her right eye.
Morgan barely reacted, only glancing over at her. “What’s the matter, Diamond?”
Diamond glared at the Marine stallion before pushing past him, grimacing in rage towards her uncle. “Some mare from town punched me! I demand that you have her executed, right now!”
“So, what’s up?”
Rainbow gave Pinkie a flat look, her eye twitching a bit at the large grin that was far too close to her own face in her opinion. “Are you serious?”
“No, I’m Pinkie Pie. I was here earlier today and asked you to join my crew, remember?” Pinkie’s grin didn’t budge, though she did pull back a few inches to a more reasonable distance.
Rainbow groaned, straining a bit against her ropes just from the urge to facehoof as she muttered, “I can’t believe this…” She looked up again, frowning. “Listen, nutter. I don’t know what you want from me, but I don’t need your help and I don’t want it either.”
Pinkie’s grin slipped a bit and she tilted her head. “Come on, don’t be like that. I bet there’s some way I can help you.” Her ears perked up and she bounced up and down. “Oh, oh, I know! I heard you’re a swordsmare, right? I’ll just go and get your sword for you and then we’ll be best friends forever. Where are they?” She looked around, trotting in a small circle before looking down and turning over a small pebble to look under it.
Rainbow cringed. “Oh for Spirits’ sake… Listen, just leave and find somepony else to annoy. The marines took my blades, so there’s nothing you can do anyway.” She gestured over to the large building of the marine base with her head.
Pinkie stood up straight, looking at the building before she moved a hoof up to readjust her hat. “Alright, then I know where to go. And when I got your sword you’ll have to join my crew if you want it back.” She grinned, galloping off past Rainbow Dash and towards the building.
“Wait, what? You’re seriously going to blackmail me?! Come back here you pink psychopath!”
Pinkie ignored the shout, already too far away to make out what the mare wanted as she arrived in front of the multi-story building. “Oooh, fancy. Welp, I guess I’ll just walk up to the front door and knock.”
She pranced past the tall flagpole bearing the flag of the marine, then turned straight around and back past the other side of the flagpole, giggling. “Well, that would be silly. I’m breaking in, I don’t want them to know that.” She walked a couple ponylengths back, then turned around again and looked up at the tip of the flagpole, aiming for a window through her hooves. Then she threw her forelegs forward, grabbing the tip of the flagpole. “And Gummy Gummy…”
There was a metallic twang and her forelegs retracted rapidly, pulling the flagpole with them and bending it down until the tip was almost directly above her. She blinked and stared at it, a bead of sweat slowly running down her neck. “G-gee… that wasn’t supposed to ha-“
“That mare hit me, uncle! Why won’t you execute her?!” Diamond Tiara stomped her hoof, huffing angrily.
The large griffin looked down at her with a stony expression, rubbing the talons of his left arm over the back of the large and heavy steel axe that had long ago replaced his right talons and part of his lower arm. “Do you know why I never hit you?”
Diamond paused looking slightly confused as she looked up at him. “It’s because I’m your niece, right?”
“It’s because even hitting you wouldn’t be worth my time!” Morgan raised his left arm, slamming the side of his talons into the filly and flinging her away with one strike.
“Why do I have to clean up your mess?” He sat back down again, looking bored. “I’m not even your uncle, your father is barely related to me at all. But he is my superior and you always follow your superior’s orders without question.” He looked over the other marines gathered on the roof of the building, giving some pointed glares. “I don’t care what you do as long as you don’t get yourself killed. I only punish those who oppose me.”
Lifting his left arm, he gestured across the roof to the huge marble statue being pulled into a standing position by over a dozen ponies in marine garb. It was a statue of himself, easily five times as tall as the already large griffin it represented; standing in its final position it would stand on its hind legs, wings spread and brandishing both the sharp talons of its left arm and the massive axe of the right arm. “This statue is a symbol of my power and wealth! Standing at the highest point of the base it will strike fear into the hearts of all criminals and demand respect of everyone else who sees it. A statue that has finally been finished today after years of work.”
There was a loud scraping sound, making everypony flinch as they watched the left wing of the statue scrape along the small observation tower housing the stairs into the building proper. The yellow stallion from earlier grimaced around the rope between his teeth, looking up nervously as the Lieutenant loomed over him. “S-sorry, Lieutenant. I was being careless.”
Morgan leaned in, glaring. “This statue represents me and my reputation. Damaging it is equal to an attack on me and an act of insubordination.”
He raised his right arm, the blade of his axe glinting in the sun. “I don’t allow traitors in my base!”
Everypony, including Morgan, froze and turned their heads to stare up at the pink blur shooting past the roof and into the sky. Pinkie was flailing a bit to keep her balance, grabbing the head of the statue just as it was almost fully upright.
“Oh boy, that was close. I almost would have flown all the way back into town. Uhm…” Pinkie hung in the air for a moment, looking down at the gathered Marines while the statue lifted a few inches off the roof as if in slow motion. Then the first of the ropes snapped and it began to topple over, falling backwards with Pinkie Pie still clinging to the head.
Everyone watched in shock as the marble statue crashed onto the edge of the roof and broke clean in half, the top half breaking clean off at the barrel and falling down off the building. They rushed over to look down, staring at the broken pieces of marble and the still intact head of the statue, the beak burrowed deep into the ground.
“Who was that?”
“Did she get crushed under the rubble?”
“Open your eyes, idiots!” Morgan pushed past them, glowering down at the remains of his statue. “See those glass shards between the rubble? They must’ve gone through one of the windows… and that means they’re in the base now!”
“U-uncle! That mare was the one I told you about earlier, the one who hit me!” Diamond staggered to her hooves, trembling in indignation. “Will you finally go and kill her now?!”
Morgan glared at her for a second, then turned to the assembled marines and pointed at about half of them. “You, get moving and capture that pony! The rest of you, after me!” He turned back to look down the roof, but further away to the execution site. “Take your weapons. There’s someone down there with the pirate hunter, and I will not tolerate any more traitors today.”
Pinkie’s hooves beat on the tiled floors of the Marine base as she ran down the hallway, looking from door to door. “Oh come on! I don’t have time to look through every room, don’t they have a storage room somewhere? Or at least a map of the building for fire drills?”
“Hey you! Pirate!”
Pinkie skidded to a halt, turning around to look at the pony stepping out of a side hallway. “Eh? Oh, it’s you. What do you want?”
“U-uhm… Miss monster, I-I mean Miss Rainbow Dash? D-do you need any help?”
“What, more of you? Are you with that pink weirdo?” Rainbow Dash raised her head to look at Fluttershy, who flinched back and tried to hide behind her mane at the attention. She paused, then looked past the nervous pegasus at the little filly trailing after her. “What the hay, squirt! I told you not to come back here, didn’t I?!”
Scootaloo flinched, but then straightened up and rushed past Fluttershy towards Rainbow Dash, starting to fumble with the ropes. “I don’t care what you said! I came here to free you, and since you’re tied up you can’t stop me.”
Rainbow frowned, looking down at her. "You're just as stubborn as I was when I was your age you know? Doesn't always make what you do the right thing, or the smart thing."
Fluttershy nodded, nervously coming over to them. “But Scootaloo’s right, Rainbow Dash. That filly, Diamond Tiara said that-“
“Aaaah!” Fluttershy screamed and fell down as the bullet grazed her, holding her bleeding shoulder and whimpering on the ground.
“Did you think I would just let you walk into my base and do as you please?” Morgan locked the rifle he was holding and shoved it back into the hooves of the Marine ensign he had taken it from. “I don’t tolerate ponies trampling all over my reputation like this. Men, shoot all three of them!”
“What?!” Rainbow yelled, straining against her ropes. “You liar, you said you’d let me free if I survive a month out here!”
“You’re really as dumb as you look, aren’t you?” Diamond stepped out from between the marines, smirking. “Did you really think that deal was for real? What kind of idiot are you?”
Rainbow growled, glaring at her, but couldn’t move more than half an inch against the ropes. Diamond just laughed it off, stepping back to watch.
“Lieutenant, one of those ponies is a little filly.” One of the ensigns spoke up nervously, clutching his rifle against his chest as he stood on his hindlegs with the others to aim. “Are you sure we should kyaaargh!”
Morgan’s axe hit the ground and burrowed into it, leaving a large gash across the ensign’s chest as the stallion collapsed. “I am the highest ranking in this town. You have no rights to go against my orders. Anyone else who wants to act up?”
“N-no Sir!” The rest of the Marines quickly raised their rifles and aimed.
“Rainbow Dash… I have heard your name a lot over the past months, but don’t underestimate me. Before my great strength and resources you are nothing but garbage.” Morgan raised his axe to point at them. “On my mark!”
Rainbow’s pupils shrunk to pinpricks as she stared at the rifles aimed at her. 'N-no… I can’t just die here.'
She watched as Fluttershy stood up again, trembling but nonetheless moving her own body in front of Scootaloo.
'I… I’m sorry… dad.'
“Just so you know, I’ll tell everypony you held me hostage.”
Pinkie tilted her head, looking down at her companion as she fumbled a bit to secure everything to her barrel. “What do you mean?”
“W-what? I mean all this here! Leading a pirate through the base? I’ll make sure everypony knows you forced me to do that!”
Pinkie looked at her for a moment, then giggled. “Of course everypony will know that you only did this because I forced you to. I’m a pirate, after all.” She hummed and smiled, looking over to a large double window in the wall and taking a few steps back from it. “Hey, can you open that window for me?”
Small clouds of smoke exploded from the Marines’ rifles as they all fired at once, a dozen weapons all aimed at Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy and Scootaloo. There was a pink blur and all bullets impacted in the pony that had thrown herself between them.
Everypony froze, staring at the pink pony who had shot right into the line of fire, standing on her hind legs with her forelegs stretched out wide and skidding marks in the ground in front of her hooves. A dozen spots in her arms and barrel were stretching several feet behind her, implying the bullets that had shot right through her and now seemed frozen in the air, stopped by her rubber body. One of them had hit straight through the string around her barrel, causing it to snap and the sword scabbard as well as the two long, partitioned blades to clatter to the ground.
Pinkie stayed in that pose for a few seconds, grinning and holding her head low before she suddenly tensed, sending the bullets flying back out in the direction they had come from.