• Published 11th May 2013
  • 8,472 Views, 1,090 Comments

Denuo Fortuna - Firecaller



She was a unicorn on the run. She needed somewhere to hide, somewhere quiet and boring. The tourist pamphlet was out of date but the place sounded ideal... Ponyville

  • ...
28
 1,090
 8,472

PreviousChapters Next
Chapter 15 - Preparations

Chapter 15 - Preparations

The dark green unicorn stallion sat in one of the three low chairs in the corridor as he waited. Staring at the oak paneling on the wall, he tried to discern patterns in the wood to distract himself from the oak door that was at the end of the passageway.

That door opening brought him back to here-and-now with a jolt, as a scrawny, tan colored earth pony trotted out from around it.

“The minister will see you now.”

He gave the pony a brief nod before standing up. Walking past the pony and through the door, he entered into the office beyond. The office itself was a modest affair, with a desk on the left and two sets of green filing cabinets on the right. The door facing, however, dominated the room. Lined in light green velvet and studded in a diamond pattern, it was the final barrier between him and the Minister of Strategic Affairs, arguably the most influential pony on the council. He waited for the secretary to close the outer door and walk past him to the other door. A brief knock with a hoof and then the earth pony opened it, gesturing him to go through.

With a deep breath, he steeled himself and went into the minister's office.

The office inside was huge, all walls and the ceiling were oak-paneled but in a much higher quality to the corridor. The floor was carpeted in a deep red shag pile, muffling his steps towards the desk. The desk, like the paneling, was a deep oak color. In fact, the only thing that looked out of place was the minister himself. An overweight, pale blue unicorn with a white muzzle from age. His horn was illuminated with a dark blue glow, as was a quill that was writing into a file on the desk.

Glancing up he acknowledged the others presence.

“At ease Captain. Please, sit down.” The minister gestured to the chair before looking back down to the yellow file.

Looking around briefly, he sat in the chair opposite the minister.

Finishing writing, the quill was laid down, the folder closed and was levitated into a wire tray on the left of the desk. Looking up at the Captain the minister smiled and pulled a yellow file over a stack on his right. Opening it he looked down, studying it for a second before making eye contact with the Captain.

“Good afternoon Captain Sharp Fang. Let’s see, with the designation of ‘Fang’ that means you were with the ‘03’ intake, correct?”

The minister observed the Captain tense at the statement. Before a brief nod.

‘I suppose any mention of Fang does usually end up with ‘that’ question being asked. Worry not Captain, not today.’

“I also see that you have been in command of the strike squad for two months now.” The minister looked to be reading the file for the first time, where in fact he knew it all off by heart now.

“So far a perfect success rate, several minor missions and one major. The major one being an incursion to retire a large brigand group. Thirty-three confirmed kills, with four foals and two pregnant mares recruited, all with no casualties. Excellent work if I may say so Captain.”

“Thank you minister.” Was the flat reply. “They had no real magic users, plus...” He tapped the amulet around his neck. “Even with only a five-minute charge, channeling magic means we outclass anypony else on the battlefield. It wasn’t a fight.”

“You disapprove?.”

“Of course not, I am a soldier. I can and will take any advantages I can. There is no such thing as an honorable second place in combat.”

Smiling, the minister pushed the open folder to the left before pulling a much thicker one over from the pile. Opening it, he levitated up the first sheet of paper for within it.

“Well this might be of interest to you as it is, potentially, your next mission. Three days ago we got a letter from within Equestria, addressed to us specifically.”

The Captain blinked. “Addresses to us?”

“Fortunately one of our assets was able to intercept it before it caused too much... undue comment. It does make for interesting reading though.”

The minister watched the Captain adopt a blank expression.

‘Thinking this is going to be just another search and destroy mission eh? I think you are in for quite a shock Captain.’

“It describes a... ‘dark green unicorn, with a white back, who is adept in ice magic’. Now, Captain, does that sound like anyone we know?”

Looking back at the Captain, the minister noted with amusement that the Captain was now leaning forward, eyes sparkling.

“Ice Fang!”

“Indeed Captain, I thought you might like to know.”

“Where is she? The Captain looked ready to leap up and dash off there and then.

“Steady now Captain, this letter is from a non-reputable source. We are not going to be deploying any major assets based solely off this.”

The Captain deflated. “Yes sir.”

“Your eagerness is understandable though. Anypony in the clan would jump at even the smallest chance to return her. You, however, really should try and contain yourself, especially at your rank.”

“Of course sir. Sorry sir.”

“Now, while the sender is not reputable, the information supplied is accurate enough, relative to what we know, to warrant further investigation.”

Pushing the thick folder forward on the desk, he pulled another folder from the stack. Opening the folder the minister addressed the Captain without looking up.

“I am activating this asset to assess the situation. A valuable, yet expendable, asset. She is based in Canterlot Castle, and to forestall you next question Captain, it is totally safe. The poor dear thinks she’s working for some ‘unicorn supremacy group’ so it’s totally safe if she’s discovered. Well, for us anyway.”

The Captain noted a distinct smirk on the minister's face at the last remark.

The minister’s views on such groups were well known. Any attempt to form such a ‘supremacy’ group within the clan would result in retirement for all involved. Once ascended, all were clan. There were no other distinctions.

Pushing the folder diagonally forward to a corner of the desk, he pulled the Captain's file back in front of him. The minister levitated a white envelope out of the folder and over to the Captain. Watching the minister, Sharp Fang was reminded of a chess master moving pieces around the board, all seemingly random movements, right up until the point where you realized you’d lost.

“Please bear in mind that this mission is still very speculative, but inside are your written orders Captain, if her presence is confirmed that is. If I may summarize. You and your team are to enter Equestria, locate and retrieve one potentially hostile agent, viz Ice Fang, and return her. You are to expend all reasonable resources to ensure that said agent is returned alive. The envelope contains: the original letter; the analysis of it; potential threats and locations. I expect a plan of action on my desk for my approval within three days. The asset will confirm or deny the presence of Ice Fang within four.”

The minister locked his eyes onto the Captain.

“We are fully aware of your relationship to Ice Fang. In fact, that is why I have chosen you.”

Sharp Fang remained motionless, but the minister was able to spot the tensing of the jaw muscles in the Captain.

“We know she is your snake sister in relation to intake year. We also know that she is your blood sister from before the intake.”

The minister waved the comment Sharp Fang was going to say before he had a chance to make it.

“Oh come now Captain. Breaking blood bonds is hard enough when all contact is severed. But still being with each other, having to go through recruitment together, ascending together. We are not blind nor stupid enough to think that sort of bond is going to just go away. That is why I have chosen you, as you will expend all possible resources to return her alive, and then some.”

Sharp Fang just nodded, they had tried to be so careful to hide the relationship when younger.

The minister nodded back. His tone turning cold.

“You understand why we want her alive. Why this is so important, to all of us. The whole thing that happened.” He shook his head. “A stain on all of us, that such a thing could happen... unthinkable. Every day she is out there that stain grows deeper, the knife plunges deeper.” The minister spat out the last words like they were a bad taste in his mouth.

Sharp Fang leaned back, the minister was renowned for being reserved. To be showing such emotion was unheard of.

“Alive Captain. Alive. Much rejoicing throughout the clan will ensue when you return her alive Captain.”

The minister was silent for a moment, regaining his composure. He moved the Captain's file forward to the other corner of his desk. He pulled Ice Fang's file back in front of him.

“Two more things Captain and I’m sorry to be the one that breaks this to you. The analysis goes into it in more detail, but given her length of time alone, and if the letter is correct in her behavior patterns...” The minister took a breath. “You can expect her mental state to have deteriorated from the point of when you last met her.”

The minister locked eye contact with a now bristling Sharp Fang.

“Understand Captain, since leaving she had been involved with three main groups. The first one, a small bandit group, which mysteriously disappeared leaving her the only survivor. We can’t work out exactly what happened but the presence of a Zebra Shaman is listed as the probable cause. The second was a mercenary group, which my predecessor thought would be a good idea to attack to try and find her. Pity she was in the support caravan and escaped while both sides were busy inflicting heavy casualties on each other. The third was another small bandit group. They were attacked by an enthusiastic local law enforcement group. Again she escaped, but she has been alone from then on, alone Captain, for two years. Any group she tried to be with got wiped out, that is bound to have had an effect Captain. I am telling you this so you so can get a grasp on her current mentality. I expect you to factor this into your plan of action.”

“Yes sir, and the other point you wanted to make.” Sharp Fang stiffly replied.

“Oh good, you hadn't missed that I hadn't mentioned it. The town itself. Now here I have to give the filly a round of applause for the choice. We would not have looked for her there. It was only by chance that a failed rite-of-passage recruit had fled there, for a completely unrelated reason I might add. Upon seeing ‘The Lost One’, as he calls her, he decided to try and contact us, in the hopes that we will give him another chance.”

“Sir? I thought we retired all recruits that failed the rite-of-passage?”

The minister looked irritated by the interruption.

“Some do escape, obviously, we don't advertise this. While we do try to find and retire failures, we don’t chase them. Unnecessary waste of resources frankly. They usually end up retiring themselves, or pulling some stunt that gets them retired.” The minister levitated up the original letter again. “This one had thoughts of retiring an Element of Harmony no less, to try and buy his way back in. Kindness I believe. Of course, you only get one chance at the rite. If he returns, well, at least he will be retired honorably.”

This time the minister slid a red file in front of him after moving Ice Fang’s file back to original position.

“The town is Ponyville Captain.”

Sharp Fang blanched. “You’re kidding, sir.”

“No I am not, Ponyville Captain! Home of the Elements of Harmony and thus home of the personal prodigy of Celestia herself. Not to mention said prodigy being a Princess now. Now Ice Fang was unlikely to know about the Princess thing, but locating herself next to the Elements of Harmony was a clever move. Either that or she was just incredibly unlucky. Whichever way, locating herself so close to the Princesses in Canterlot... she has guts I’ll give her that, an inspired move.” The minister tilted his head in thought. “I approve.”

“Sir, any attempt to extract Ice Fang forcibly from Ponyville would not end... well. Even with our amulets, to go up against the Elements while they are backed up with a Princess..." The Captain shook his head leaving the sentence unfinished. "Not to mention that the Day and Night Princesses might intervene as well, being so close. They are a tad protective of them.”

Another red file was moved, along the edge of the desk, but not opened. The Captain watched it intently. The timberwolves in front of you were dangerous. The timberwolf that leaps out at you from the side, previously unseen or dismissed... those were the ones that killed you.

Looking at the files spread out on the minister's desk Sharp Fang got the distinct impression that he was being maneuvered. They were chess pieces in the minister's mind, and he had lost several moves ago.

“Ah, Captain. That is why I am activating the asset in Canterlot Castle. If she does confirm the presence of Ice Fang, she can go to phase two.” He nodded towards the unopened red file. “Neutralization of the Princesses and hopefully the Elements as well. At the very least we’ll put the Day and Night Princesses out of commission long enough for you to complete the extraction. The Elements, plus Princess Sparkle, should be... otherwise engaged because of it, if they themselves are not affected.”

Another red file was pulled out, placed in front of the minister and opened. He stared into it for a few seconds.

“I think... The Grand Galloping Gala would be an ideal time, enough for you to reach Ponyville and be in position. Well then Captain, please bear in mind as I said, that this is speculative. If my asset cannot confirm the presence of Ice Fang the mission will be scrubbed. Understood?”

“Yes sir.”

“Well Captain, I guess you better get going, plans to form and all that.”

Sharp Fang looked at the Minister and then at the desk, at all the folders arrayed against him.

‘Checkmate, I believe that is the term you are looking for.’

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Azure Dawn looked around the bustling marketplace. She had arrived in Ponyville last night and had decided that the best place to start looking for her target would be the market. Everypony ended up going to the market at some point so sitting at the coffee shop table offered a great view and a good reason to pony-watch. Levitating up the coffee she observed the mainly earth pony market. Being early, the air was still cool but the day promised much heat later.

Looking around she noted that an orange earth pony, with a stetson hat, walking across the market like she owned it.

‘ Applejack!’ With extreme force of will she prevented her lip curling back in a snarl.

‘That an earth pony should be an Element Bearer, disgusting!’ Azure took a deep breath. ‘Calm yourself filly, you have a mission to complete.’

Shaking her head she tried to clear her thoughts

After the second coffee, she was preparing to move when she saw her target. Walking around the edge of the market was a dark green unicorn with a white back. A cyan pegasus with a multicolored mane flew next to her.

‘Well with that mane it could only be the Element Bearer Rainbow Dash.’

Watching them, she noted that Rainbow Dash looked to be doing all the talking, with lots of gestures, most towards the sky. The unicorn just continued to trot around the edge of the market with an occasional shake of her head. Finally the pegasus flew in front of the unicorn and jabbed a foreleg at her. The unicorn sat down before jabbing a foreleg back at the pegasus herself.

‘An argument?’

Rainbow flew back a bit at whatever was said before a sly grin crossed her face, the grin being obvious to Azure, even from this distance. Again with the gesture towards the sky, this time followed with a sweeping gesture covering all the ponies at the market. She then flew up a bit and took a deep breath, looking like she was preparing to shout something. A white glow surrounded her and dragged her back down. The unicorn, looking shaken, jabbed a hoof again at the pegasus, but without much conviction this time.

Rainbow crossed her forelegs with a smirk. Azure watched the unicorn’s head fall towards the ground, raise a hoof and wave it in defeat.

The pegasus backflipped with a whoop, punched the air and flew off half the length of the marketplace before flying back to the unicorn and pointing off to field outside Ponyville. Without looking up the unicorn nodded and turned to walk towards the field, while the pegasus flew off towards the Everfree Forest.

‘Well, my mission is complete. Suppose I should observe the target some more, see what they are up to. Not like I have much else to do in this backwater, next train isn't for a couple of hours.’

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

‘Poomf’ was the only way Azure could describe the sound. The white beam had lasted only a second, but still left after images that left her blinking. Looking around the bush, trying to ignore the afterimages, Azure Dawn tried to work out what had happened.

Rainbow Dash was sitting on the ground with a stunned expression, covered in what looked like bits of cloud. The unicorn was sitting there as well, with an unmistakable ‘I told you so’ look on her face.

Azure watched Rainbow shake off any cloud remnants before flying up. Glaring at the unicorn, she made a ‘stay here’ motion with her hoof and flew back off towards the Everfree. The unicorn watched the pegasus fly off before looking around with a bored expression.

‘What are they up to?’

A few minutes later Rainbow returned, pushing a small cloud. It was one from the Everfree and the only word Azure could think of to describe it was ‘wild’.

A comment from the unicorn caused the rainbow maned pegasus to stop and nod. She then grabbed the cloud with her forehooves and hugged it tight, squeezing it, before flying back down to the ground and slapping the unicorn on the back of the neck.

This brought a glower from the unicorn, which the pegasus laughed off.

Aiming her horn at the cloud the unicorn sent a very diffuse white beam at the cloud, nowhere near a intense as the one from earlier.

The cloud grew darker as the beam was played over it. After a minute the beam cut off and the now tired looking unicorn waved a hoof in the direction of pegasus. With a smile, the pegasus took to the air and landed on the cloud. Leaning down she sniffed it, nodded to the unicorn, then jumped up and down on the cloud.

‘Snow? They made a snow cloud?’

The pegasus looked jubilant, back flips, punching the air, putting on veritable whole stunt show. The pegasus flew down to the unicorn and talked to her, pointing back to Ponyville. With a nod, the unicorn set off. Watching her depart Rainbow flew up into the air before placing a hoof in her mouth and letting loose an ear piercing whistle. After a minute several other pegasi flew up to Rainbow. With excited gestures, she pointed into the Everfree. Some winced, most just nodded. Azure could pick up on the air of desperation that hovered around the entire group even from her hiding spot. They all flew towards the Everfree en mass.

Azure watched them go before following the unicorn back to Ponyville.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

‘A town meeting of earth ponies, what joy.’

Azure Dawn looked around.

‘Looks like everypony from this dump is here. Now, what’s the mayor blabbing on about? Something about the weather?’

When the mayor stood to one side and Rainbow Dash took to the stand, an air of irritation become noticeable to Azure. Holding her hooves up Rainbow addressed the crowd.

“Okay, okay. The weather team did screw up to begin with. But it's the stiff-necks now causing the holdup. They have decided that rather than adjust the schedule, it's just going to be simplest to continue with the original one. That means we go without rain until we are next scheduled for it, so no clouds for us.” An angry murmur ran through the crowd. “However, I’m not going to leave Ponyville hangin’. A definite smirk there. “We have come up with a plan. We are moving a cloud from the Everfree over to Ponyville as we speak.”

An earth pony shouted up. “That’s great darlin’ but us farmers know that clouds from the Everfree don’t act like the made ones from Cloudsdale. They don’t just rain unless they want to. Even with pegasus persuasion. ”

Rainbow smiled. “We have ourselves a secret weapon. We’re gonna soften them up first” With a flap, she flew up and darted over to the unicorn. Wrapping her forelegs around her and lifted up the surprised unicorn. “Sunbeam is gonna chill the cloud first, then we’re going to make it snow. Which will be just as good.”

Azure could see the unicorn’s look of surprise at being scooped up. The look quickly changed into a scowl at all the attention she was now getting. Those were definitely not complementary words being directed at Rainbow.

A shadow fell over the meeting as a team of weather ponies pushed a large cloud over them.

Rainbow set the unicorn down and started calling out instructions to the flying pegasus. The unicorn just looked up at the cloud and gulped. A pink earth pony bounced over and hugged her as the pegasus began to compress the cloud.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As the unicorn played her white beam over the cloud, the pegasus broke bits off and flew off with them, certain groups earth ponies following each one when they left.

A lavender unicorn sat watching the unicorn more that the cloud. With a start Azure Dawn realized it was no unicorn, it was Princess Twilight.

‘Why is she was interested in my target? Suppose I need to report this as well, ugh, more paperwork.’

The unicorn’s beam cut off and she lay down panting. A yellow pegasus trotted over and spread a wing over the unicorn. Applejack took to the stand.

“K, you’ll listen up. Looks like ol’ Sunbeam here is done here for the time bein’. We’ll all be stopping now until she feels ready again. No sooner, y’ah all hear.”

Only a few disappointed sounds were heard. They were quickly silenced by a glare from Applejack.

“You’ll be gettin' your water soon enough, without her you wouldn’t gettin’ any. Now give the girl some time to recover.”

Azure Dawn shrugged.

‘I have all the information I need, more even. Time to get out of ground-pounder central and back to civilization.’

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Rainbow landed next to the exhausted Sunbeam with a flurry of wings. "How ya doing champ?"

A grunt was all the response she got.

"Just to let you know, almost all the farms around Ponyville have enough water to last to the scheduled rain now."

Another grunt. With her eyes closed and head laying between her stretched out forelegs, it really did put Rainbow in mind of a sleeping dog.

Rainbow leaned in to whisper into the collapsed mare's ear. "I'll keep my end of the bargain, you helped us all out and I don't tell everypony about what I heard."

Sunbeam's ears flicked towards Rainbow.

"I know what I heard when you were under that waterfall. You forgot I practice out there, didn't you?"

Sunbeam's irritated tail flick a good enough response for Rainbow, with a smile she leaned in closer.

"You have a awesome singing voice Sunbeam." Rainbow playfully prodded the unicorn. "Surprised it's not your cutie mark."

Rainbow walked away with a annoyed expression. 'Why did she flinch at that? It was supposed to be a compliment. She made it look like I kicked her.'

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The minister watched Captain Sharp Fang sit down.

“Well, I have been through your plan of action Captain. Before I approve it, I seek clarification on two points.”

The Captain nodded, he knew exactly which two points the minister was going to bring up.

“Lets start with the minor one first. Your preferred, initial approach to Ice Fang.”

“Well, I will need to do an on-site evaluation of course, but you would have to admit it would be best case scenario for all. That is why I will take one pony with me, only if they agree, will I enact it.”

The minister nodded. “It would indeed be the least troublesome, but walking up and...”

The Captain cut in. “She’s my sister, I know that walking up to her, nuzzling her and saying in a gentle tone...”

‘Time to go home little sister. You don't have to hide anymore, come be part of a family.’

“... will work, even if her mental state is...” The Captain sneered the next word. “'Compromised'. I know her minister, spending that long alone, she’ll be hurting, she’ll want to be accepted, She’ll just need a nudge in the right direction and she’ll be back with us... willingly."

'And close observation initially of course, to prevent any desperate moves.' He added mentally.

"However, as fate like to mess with us, that is why I have listed several other contingency options in my plan of action.”

“I am inclined to agree Captain, I just wanted your reasoning. Now the second. Why do you want take...him?”

The smile that grew on the Captain's face gave even the hardened minister a chill.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Azure Dawn came back into her room and out of habit checked a small wooden box. Usually empty, this time it contained two rubies. Levitating the brighter one up to her eye she could see her instructions within it.

To: ROSEBUSH
From: ACORN

Enact protocol: SPILL
Timeframe: INDIGO

Extra 1 of 2: Confirm receipt of instructions
Extra 2 of 2: Confirm enactment of instructions on second message crystal

Response level 2... END

Happy it was a valid message, Azure levitated the ruby over to touch her horn. Running magic through it she added beneath the original message:

ROSEBUSH, Confirm receipt. Commence Spill (3-4-8) Timeframe Indigo (1-4-8).
Second message to ACORN on completion of instructions.

With a final push of magic into the stone she activated the return spell. The ruby it glowed red before vanishing.

‘Oh yes, our time is at hoof.’

She looked over to the cabinet. The means to this end were hidden in a secret compartment within.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The cell door slammed open.

“Prisoner two-one-one-seven with rise.” Yelled one of the two guards that had entered the cell.

“Hang on to your mules lads, I’m a gettin up.” The older brown unicorn, with deliberate slowness got off the bed. Just slow enough to annoy the guards but fast enough not to warrant getting ‘help’ from them.

“Now, whatcha want. Getting my beauty sleep here.” Annoying the guards entertained him.

A dark green unicorn stepped in between the two guards.

“Get the prisoner ready for transport.”

“Now hang on, where I’m a going?”

“Prisoner two-one-one-seven will be quiet!”

The unicorn placed a hoof on the screaming guard.

“He’s quite at liberty to ask.” Turning to address the prisoner the unicorn continued. “You have been selected to assist in a high priority mission for the entire clan.”

“Ha, listen lad, I’m no soldier, so I ain’t going to be helping.”

The unicorn just turned and walked to the doorway as the two guards grabbed the prisoner and placed cuffs on his legs.

“Look, I ain’t going to be any use to ya.”

The unicorn turned his head over his shoulder.

“Oh you underestimate your usefulness prisoner two-one-one-seven. You are an extremely important part of the plan.”

The smile that grew on the unicorn held no warmth.

“You will be the bait... Mr Listed Scrolls.”

Author's Note:

There it is, in all its unedited glory, see any obvious errors let me know and I'll correct them.

Looking for second pre-reader as current one is unavailable atm.

Reading the above should give you an idea of what you will be letting yourself in for. I think its okay, but I freely admit my opinion is biased on the fact. PM if interested.

Other than that hope you enjoyed it. The wheels are starting to turn.

PreviousChapters Next