• Published 20th Jul 2013
  • 3,167 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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Taken

- ANON'S POV -

"Octavia?" you shout as you pick your way through the wreckage of what was once her bedroom. A lamp lies shattered, the contents of the wardrobe have been strewn everywhere and the floor is littered with rubbish. You're used to sights like this – having been to so many parties at the club back in the good old days – but even that can't prepare you for seeing something which chills the very blood in your veins — Octavia's cello, broken clean in half. The instrument, which looks more like a pile of firewood with a few strings attached, lies next to the bed.

"Octy!" Vinyl screeches, the sound of frantic hoofsteps echoing around the house. Eventually she comes into the room, tears streaming down her face. "She's not here, Nonny! Something bad must have happened to her!" You say nothing, simply pointing at the cello. "Oh, no... not her cello." Vinyl turns whiter than normal. "Who could have done this, Nonny?"

You kneel down and place a hand on the cello, immediately drawing it back at the feeling of something damp. Turning the appendage over, you see that it is covered in blood. Wiping it off, you turn to Vinyl. "I'm not sure what happened here," you say, swallowing nervously. "But whatever it was, it would seem that Octavia either went down fighting... or was beaten with her own instrument." You stand up. "Go and get the guards, Vinyl. They'll know what to do."

She nods and rushes out of the room while you sit on the bed and bury your face in your hands, letting out a choked sigh.

Why does this shit always happen to me?

***

Vinyl stands looking dejected, staring blankly at the floor while you relay the evening's events to a pegasus adorned in golden armour. Nearby, a unicorn stallion wearing a white coat is looking at the cello — or, at least, what's left of it.

"So you came back and found the door open, at which point you both went upstairs and found your friend missing?" the guard asks, glancing at a notebook he's holding in his forehoof. You and Vinyl both nod. "All right, thanks. Don't worry, folks, we'll find her."

"I hope so," Vinyl flatly replies, looking up at the pair of you. "I can't bear the thought of anything bad happening to Octy — she's my best friend, for buck sake."

The guard smiles politely and turns to the unicorn, who now has the cello encased in his magical aura. "Haywick!" he shouts. "What's the word on the blood? Any idea who it belongs to?"

Haywick looks up from his work. "I found two different blood spatters on the instrument," he replies. "One, I am sorry to say, belongs to an Earth pony — most likely your friend." He peers closer at the cello. "But the other spatter... is Diamond Dog blood."

Vinyl gasps, covering her mouth with a forehoof. "The Dogs got Tavi?!" she wails. "No, no! It can't be!"

You put your arms around the quivering unicorn. "Don't worry, Vinyl," you say gently. "Octavia is a strong mare, she can take care of herself." You point at the cello, now being put into a bag. "After all, she went down fighting — that's proof enough, right?"

Vinyl smirks, sniffling a little, and looks up at you. "Yeah, it is," she replies. "But the fact is those bastards have got their grubby little paws on her." She turns to the guard and pokes him roughly in the chest. "What are you going to do about this, huh?"

The guard swallows nervously, obviously not used to having his personal space invaded. "We still don't know where the Diamond Dogs are taking the ponies they capture," he says. "We'll ask around and find out whether or not anypony saw or heard anything last night. Perhaps we'll be able to get a few leads... but I'm not promising any miracles."

Vinyl sighs and takes a step backwards, allowing the guard to leave the room. Haywick places the ruined cello in a bag and goes to leave — but stops at the door and turns to face you. "For the record, Anon," he says. "I didn't sign the petition because I believe you when you say you didn't kill Tech Beat." You nod in thanks and he smiles sympathetically before leaving the room.

Vinyl snorts. "Well that's one more ally at least," she says. "Now we just need to convince the other three hundred that you're not as much of a scumbag as they think you are." She sits on her haunches and runs a forehoof along the floor, a few tears gathering. "But first... first we need to find Octy."

You sit down next to her and pull her in for a hug. "Don't worry, Vinyl," you whisper. "The guards will find her. And remember the fact that Octavia is a smart mare — perhaps she left some clues?" Vinyl perks up at this. "Come on, let's take another look around and see if we can find something that the guards—" You pause as something under the bed catches your eye. "—missed."

You lie on your stomach and look closer at what you saw. There, lying on the floor, is Octavia's necktie — or 'cravat', as she called it. You grab a hold of it and pick it up, dangling it in front of Vinyl's nose. She scrunches her face up for a moment, but then gasps and points at it. "There's something on the back of it," she says. "It looks like Octy's hoofwriting."

You turn the cravat over and, sure enough, there is a message scrawled across the back of it. The ink is smudged, but that doesn't stop you from making out what it says.

To Vinyl and Anon,

If you are reading this, then the Diamond Dogs were able to find me. Have no fear, for I know where they will be taking me — as I heard one of the thick-headed swine saying that they were 'expected back at the Gorge.'

Please, pass on this information to the guards and s—

"I'm guessing she was discovered before she could finish writing her message," you muse. "But at least we know where she is. Come on, Vinyl, we've gotta pass this information on."

Vinyl scoffs. "The guards will take days to do anything about this," she replies. "Seriously, Nonny, you and I would be better off taking care of this ourselves. So, come on, let's go."

"I... we... wait, what?!" you shout. "Vinyl, are you seriously suggesting that we sneak into a Diamond Dog prison camp so that we can rescue Octavia?"

"Not just Octy," Vinyl snaps. "We'll free everypony who was taken by those stinkin', no-good scumbags." She rears up and puts her forehooves on your shoulders. "You're wanting to stay in everypony's good books, aren't you?" You nod. "Right, then — what better way to do that than by rescuing all of the prisoners?"

You look into her eyes, which are shining with compassion. You can also see the slightest hint of a smug smile on her lips as well. She's right, and she knows you know it. With a deep sigh, you nod. "Okay then, Vinyl," you reply. "Let's go."

Vinyl hugs you, her smile widening, before she adopts a more serious expression and leaves the room. You follow her dutifully, not knowing what it is you're getting yourself into.

- OCTAVIA'S POV -

You let out a small groan as a tiny shaft of sunlight manages to find its way onto your face. Cracking one eye open, you take stock of your surroundings.

A small stone room, barely big enough to turn around in, appears to be your home for the moment. The bars on the door are made of solid steel, you're lying on a makeshift mattress – an empty coal sack with a mediocre stuffing of hay – and there is a bucket in one corner. You open both eyes and slowly sit up, bringing a forehoof to the stinging sensation on your head.

The events of the last few hours begin to force their way to the front of your mind, and you begin to recall how you ended up in the dismal situation you are now trapped in.

Five hours ago...

You're sitting on the couch, idly flicking through the latest issue of Concerto Monthly, when you hear Vinyl let out a long whistle. Glancing up, you notice that Anon is wearing a suit.

"Lookin' good, Nonny," Vinyl says. "Come on, let's go."

She lights her horn, grabs Anon's arm and drags him past towards the door. On the way past, you realise that he has applied a liberal coating of cologne to himself — which causes you to smirk. He probably knows as much as you do that a nice scent isn't going to make anypony think any less of him, but it's still a nice effort.

As the door slams shut you put the magazine down on the table and get off the sofa, stretching yourself with a series of satisfying pops. You then trot into the kitchen and open the fridge.

"What will I have?" you ask yourself, tapping your chin. "Oh, I know, I'll have the rocket salad and a nice glass of wine."

You take a box of salad out the fridge, pour out some wine and sit down at the table to enjoy your meal.

Two hours later...

The soft resonant sound of your cello fills your bedroom as the bow glides back and forth. You are lost in your art, swaying back and forth as you play whatever comes to mind.

A sudden smash from downstairs causes a jarring chord to fill the room. You chuckle wearily and roll your eyes. "Looks like Anon and Vinyl are back," you mutter. "I guess I'd better—"

"Find the pony!" a gruff voice shouts. "And do it quick, you mongrels, they're expectin' us back at the Gorge!"

You clamp your forehooves over your mouth to stifle a scream. Those are Diamond Dogs, though you can't help but wonder how in Celestia's name they managed to evade the guards.

Knowing that hiding is futile and that escape is impossible, you take your cravat off and quickly write a message to your friends on it. Just as you're about to finish it, your bedroom door flies open — so you quickly shove the cravat under the bed and grab your cello.

Before you stands a Diamond Dog — black fur, a torn ear, wearing scraggy clothing and carrying a club. He turns his head towards the door and shouts out. "She's in here!" he yells, before addressing you. "We know you're alone, missy, so there ain't no use in tryin' to run." He starts advancing towards you.

"You don't frighten me!" you snarl, swinging your cello at his midsection, an attack he manages to dodge. "If you want me, you'll have to make me submit first!"

The Dog grins. "You're a feisty little one, ain't ya?" he says. "Good, because I like mares what are feisty."

With those words, he lunges at you. You scream in fury as you bring your cello into sharp contact with the side of his head, sending him to the ground. His blood stains the wood, but at least you've shown him that you are not to be trifled with.

Two more Dogs enter the room and spot their friend on the ground. They exchange a look with each other, then turn to you and growl with the fierceness of a predator stalking its prey. Both of them then run at you. One grabs your forelegs and holds you while the other grabs your cello — which he then brings down on your head.

Blow after blow is rained down and you soon lose your battle with consciousness — your cravat being the last thing you see before the darkness overtakes you.

Author's Note:

Holy shit, I am so sorry for the delay on this. Please forgive me! :raritydespair:

Also, we're back to POV changes! :yay:

By the way, these are not the same Diamond Dogs as seen in the show — so that's why they talk the way they do, all right?

As for Doctor Haywick... well, let's just say that I'm glad of any opportunity to use my own OC in something other than a Geoverse story. :rainbowlaugh: