• Published 20th Jul 2013
  • 3,202 Views, 61 Comments

Bottom Of The Ladder - GeodesicDragon



Sequel to Top Of The Charts. Freshly released from jail, Anon has returned to Ponyville. The townsponies don't want him back — but there is another, far more pressing, issue to contend with.

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Rockpaw's Revelation

You whistle a tune as you walk through the pit, the clanging of several pickaxes adding their own melody to the mix, while casting glances at the slaves working away. Some of them shy away from your gaze, though others glare at you with all the ferocity of a dying sun. You ignore them and carry on, returning the various high fives, thumbs up and middle fingers you get from the guards.

A few weeks have passed since you started 'working' for the Dogs, and you've been very busy during that time. You have helped gather up several more 'volunteers' for the workforce, including Blossomforth, Flitter, Cloudchaser, Thunderlane, Berry Punch and even that Haywick guy, who found you in a bush watching a couple of mares whom you were planning on taking; you had no choice but to tell him everything, and he responded by first telling you that both the mares you had your sights on were pregnant, and then by suggesting that you take him back instead.

Never mind steel, that stallion's balls are made of titanium.

I hope they're not working him too hard...

He'll be fine; they've stopped beating the prisoners, remember?

You catch sight of Haywick digging away at the imposing rock walls which loom menacingly above the pit; he keeps stopping to rub his jaw, obviously not used to holding things with his mouth for so long, but he doesn't seem too bothered. He nods at you, a gesture you return, then carries on working.

"Oi, Anon." you turn around to see Slasher approaching. "The boss sent me; he wants to talk to you, right now."

"Sure thing, Slasher," you reply. "All good, I hope?"

Slasher grins. "They must be all right," he says. "Cuz if they weren't, I'd be forcing you to dig your grave right now."

You chuckle warily; Slasher's sense of humour was something which you've always... intimidating, to say the least.

Leaving the pit, you head down the hall towards Rockpaw's office, the pickaxe overture fading to nothing behind you. Dicer and Crusher unlock the door as you approach, and you enter the lavishly decorated room where Rockpaw sits at his desk; he stands up as you approach and you salute him.

"I'm glad you're here, Anonymous." Rockpaw's eyes are practically shining with excitement. "Sit down, I've got a lot to tell you."

You sit. "Is everything okay, Overseer?"

Rockpaw chuckles. "It couldn't be better!" he exclaims. "The fresh slaves have really helped move things along, and your little idea about how to punish them has worked wonders." He leans forwards. "You see, Anon, now that the beatings have stopped, the prisoners are under the impression that anypony who does anything wrong will simply be killed." He leans back and flashes you an unsettling grin, complete with gold tooth. "This fear has made them work harder than ever before. We are much closer to our goal now, and it's all thanks to you. I trust you, Anon, so I've decided that I'm gonna tell you exactly what we're looking for."

Hell, it's about time.

Shut it; you know I have to be chewing on a cigar first, in order for that line to have maximum impact.

"Thank you, Overseer," you say. "I am honoured that you find me worthy of being made privy to this kind of information."

"You can kiss my ass later, Anon," Rockpaw retorts. "In the meantime, shut up and listen. Now, some time ago, my clan found ancient pony texts in the ruins of an old castle."

"The Castle of the Two Sisters?"

"Yeah, that one; we looked through 'em, and – quite honestly – we were about to burn them, when we found a reference to this place. It seems, Anon, that Ghastly Gorge hides an ancient treasure: the hoard of a dragon, holding enough loot to last a thousand lifetimes. That hoard, Anon, is why we killed all those stupid eels and took over; as for the ponies... well, they're here for another reason."

You tap your chin. "A dragon hoard, huh? Neat. But, what do you mean when you say the ponies are here for 'another reason?'"

"I ain't stupid, Anon," Rockpaw says. "I know that dragons can live for a very long time, and that they don't take too kindly to folk trying to steal from them. So, if the dragon this hoard belongs to is still alive – and he might very well be – then the first thing he's gonna see when he wakes up is a bunch of ponies with digging tools." He flashes you another grin; this one is wider than the last, and you even make out a diamond on a back molar. "You've got one guess as to what that dragon does next."

You don't even need to think. "He blames Equestria for 'stealing' from him and then proceeds to burn the place to the ground."

Rockpaw claps his paws together and cackles. "Exactly!" he says gleefully. "While he's doing that, we're stealing the loot and getting away before he realises what's happening. He'll most likely think that it was another dragon who stole from him; while he looks for a thief who doesn't exist, we stroll into Equestria and conquer anypony and anything that is still standing."

Ho-
-ly
SHIT.

To say that you are horrified by this would be the biggest understatement of the millennium. Rockpaw takes advantage of the stunned expression on your face to carry on talking.

"This bad boy..." he slaps the top of his head. "Can fit so many brilliant ideas." He leans back and folds his arms. "Clever, or what?"

You blink a couple of times to process what you've just heard and then, with all the grace of a coked-up howler monkey, let out the loudest and – you hope – most convincing manic laugh you've ever mustered. You keep it up for a good fifteen seconds before stopping and wiping your eyes with a finger.

"That, boss, is the most amazing idea I've ever heard," you finally say. "Truly, you are the smartest of all Diamond Dogs."

Rockpaw smirks. "Thanks, Anon," he replies. "Anyway, it's only a matter of time before we find the treasure; get back to the pit and help the rest of my boys to keep an eye on the slaves."

"What about more prisoners?" you ask. "Should I get some?"

Rockpaw shakes his head. "No, don't," he says. "My scouts report that the Royal Guard are beginning to receive additional troops from the Crystal Empire." He scoffs. "They honestly think they can even find us, let alone attack us? Wait until those disgusting little quadrupeds get a load of what I have in store for them."

"They'll sing songs of the impending slaughter for centuries to come." you stand up. "I'm proud to be a part of this, Boss, and I hope I can continue working for you when you conquer Equestria."

"Keep it up, Anon, and you'll be well rewarded in my new empire." Rockpaw waves you away. "Dismissed."

You salute and leave, ignoring Dicer and Crusher and heading straight for the pit. The pickaxe concerto starts getting louder, but you tune it out as you reach the pit and climb down into it; once inside, you pick a random direction and start 'patrolling.'

After twenty minutes, you catch sight of Vinyl and Octavia; they are both standing at a wall, chipping away at it like there's no tomorrow. Realising they need to be told what's happening, you walk over and address the guard who is watching them.

"Oi, you." you thumb in the direction you came from. "Clear off an' get some food, will ya? I'll watch these two."

"Sure thing, Anon, I was famished anyway." the guard walks away; once he's out of sight, Vinyl grabs you with her forehooves, pulls you down and smashes her lips against yours. You suck face for a good thirty seconds before a lack of oxygen forces you apart.

"I am so glad to see you, Nonny!" Vinyl says. "It's been hell down here, though I'm glad they stopped kicking the shit out of us."

"I'm happy to see you as well, Anonymous," Octavia adds. "But, I also know you wouldn't be talking to us if it wasn't important."

Vinyl perks up at this. "You found something out?" she asks.

You nod solemnly. "I did, but you're not gonna like it..."

With that, you tell them everything that's happened in the last few weeks. You explain what the Overseer asked of you, and how you gained his trust by duping several ponies into following you, but the most important thing is what you learned from him regarding his plan. By the time you finish, the colour has drained from Octavia's face, and Vinyl is looking even whiter than normal.

"A-a dragon?!" Octavia hisses. "By all that is sacred, they're going to kill us all just to get their filthy paws on some treasure?"

You nod. "That's what the Overseer told me," you reply. "But don't worry, because we're getting out of here."

"You, me and Tavi?" Vinyl asks, to which you shake your head.

"When I say 'we,' I mean 'everypony.'" your eyes flash with determination and you reach out to put a hand on Vinyl and Octavia's shoulders. "Girls..." They look back at you, and you grin.

"Let's blow this joint."

Author's Note:

This marks the beginning of the end, folks; a few more chapters, and this thing is done.