• Published 19th Oct 2012
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Eljunbyro - Imploding Colon



Bellesmith must perform experimental tasks in order to keep herself and her beloved safe.

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Balancing Scales

"Urp!" The rotund stallion lurched over the edge of the Steel Wing one more time before wiping his bearded chin and shuddering. "Someone stop the friggin' world; I wanna get off. Unnngh..."

"Enforcer Josho..."

"Buzz off!" He grunted, his teeth clenched as he a brought a hoof up to his fluctuating horn. "Can't you see my head is giving birth to an elephant?"

"Suffer with dignity, soldier."

"Ughhh..." Josho spun, snarling. "And just what kind of big bag of hot wind are you—?" He froze upon staring into a scarred face. "Holy crabshells!" He straightened his already crooked uniform and pivoted his beret, trembling. "Prime Enforcer, sir!"

Shell merely glared at him.

"I was just... er... surveying the last vestiges of Green Slope, sir! I'm more than capable of serving for duty—"

"As you were," Shell mumbled.

Josho squinted at him. He shrugged. "Suit yourself." His cheeks exploded as he spun about, lurched over the edge again, and retched with a disgusting gag noise.

Shell closed his eye, took a deep breath of courage, and trotted over to stand by the stallion's quivering side. "Captain Filta is ready to send his stallions towards the destination. The plan is to have the gliders flush the subject and her allies out of the Foxtaur Forest so that we can intercept them with the slower but more powerful Steel Wings."

"Aye..." Josho sputtered. "Sounds like a darn good idea, Prime Enforcer. Especially if you thought of it—"

"We need to know for certain that the subject is heading into Foxtaur, and, if so, exactly where in the forest they may be intending to make their sojourn."

"Yeah. I guess that would help."

"Then do it," Shell droned.

Josho gazed sideways at him. "Huh?"

"Help us." Shell pointed at Josho's strobing skull. "While you are still in the condition to do so."

"Unngh..." Josho clenched his eyes shut, rubbing a hoof over his lit horn. "It's... It's sketchy. I keep hearing words—almost like whispers—entering my brain. I think I'm hearing some of their conversations. But then they pass over me like wet dreams that fail to get to the good part. You remember having those when you were a colt? Heh, I bet you do—"

"Any details would be exceedingly helpful, Enforcer," Shell said with a hint of a growl.

"Oh... Uhm..." Josho concentrated hard, his eyelids fluttering. "A map. A sloping valley. Midnight conversations. The taste of apples. Green eyes..."

Shell raised an eyebrow over his one good eye.

"Mmmmm... Crystals. Recharging. Recharging the device... th-the magic device for the blind zebra..." Josho's eyes widened as he thought aloud. "Mana crystals. A hole in the ground—no, a cavern!"

"Doctor Bellesmith's beloved," Shell said. "They are likely in need of recharging his seeing device. It's been so long."

"Wherever they're headed to, it's someplace deep in the earth, and all glowly and crud," Josho said. "I'm sure of this."

"I see." Shell interrupted a passing crewman. "Go fetch Captain Filta."

"Aye, sir." The stallion scampered away.

"They'll be in a vulnerable moment!" Josho said with a hint of a smile. "It's like catching them taking a squat in the field, only there are more crystals and less corncobs involved—"

"Thank you, Enforcer, you've helped adequately."

"I only wish I could help more, y'know," Josho said, stifling another burp. He stood up straight in spite of his rotund self. "I've heard of all of the daring campaigns you made against those tattooed bastards along the southeastern front. You slew a buttload of Xonans in the name of Ledo. What I wouldn't give to have served with your brigade in such a time."

"Right..."

"I mean, it's a real damn honor, sir. It's been ages since I've seen any action—or done anything worthwhile for the Queen besides guarding a lousy town full of hicks. So this is a real opportunity for me to do something useful—"

"That remains to be seen," Shell muttered. Captain Filta strolled up, and the soldier asked him, "Where along the western edge of Foxtaur might there be naturally occurring manacrystal caves?"

Filta squinted in thought, then said, "Forty miles south of the northern edge, due east of the jagged summit of the Brown Mountains. Why do you ask?"

Shell motioned towards Josho and said, "We have reason to believe that our targets may be taking a proverbial dip in the magical womb of the world. I think we now have a place to send our gliders."

"Very well. When, sir?"

"Now would be a prudent time, Captain," Shell said. "Order your fliers to push the fugitives north. We'll chase them into range of the Steel Wing's cannon, and then the subject will have no choice but to surrender to us or die."

"Aye. A splendid plan." Filta spun about, blew a whistle hanging from his neck, and shouted towards the far ends of the Steel Wing. "Fliers! Here are your orders! Fly southeast and penetrate Foxtaur east of the Brown Mountains...!"

Filta flung commands to every uniformed stallion within earshot. The pilots scrambled to their mana-driven gliders. Bells rung as crewmen rushed to the steam controls of the vessel and pivoted it southeast. The two large airships escorting the Steel Wing adjusted to match the course.

"This is just perfect," Josho said, weathering his pain long enough to brandish a glistening smile. "Taking wing like friggin' dragons! We'll have that bright blue buzzard roasted in no-time!"

"Enforcer Josho," Shell droned, "It was a large, matronly dragon of epic size that deposited our subject—in her battered state—upon the western edge of the Queen's Territory to begin with."

Josho blinked. "What are ya tryin' to tell me?"

"Simply that she's obviously had her chance at combatting dragons, and even that wasn't enough to kill her. It was something I should have taken into consideration when I battled her in the heart of a machine world." He turned and glared at Josho. "And it's something you were too ignorant to know when—in a fit of drunken rage—you destroyed half a village in your vain attempt to slight her."

"Hey, I was only—"

"Understand this, Enforcer," Shell hissed, taking a metal step forward with his heavy prosthetic. "You are a beacon, a compass, a means to an end and nothing more. You stopped being a useful soldier the day you stopped having the common courtesy to march in a straight line, sober. The very reason you were assigned to a backwater trading post in the festering buttocks of Green Slope was because that's the most your legacy has ever afforded you. You say that you're honored to serve with me?" His one good eye narrowed. "I've lost over four dozen good officers in the debacle at Blue Shelf. They gave their lives for the sake of assuring Ledomare would acquire this fleeting source of power, and I failed them. Now I am chasing the key to a vast underworld of promise yet again, and I will know no honor until I have balanced the scales with the loss that has earned it. Until I give my everything—including myself—for the sake of this necessary victory, I can claim no right to honor. Now tell me, what can you claim?"

Josho's mouth hung open, about to stammer something, anything. He had no breath to give.

Shell's nostrils flared. "As soon as we have the subject—dead or alive—I do not want to be within the same province as you. I do think my reputation smells enough of failure." He trotted off, limping.

Josho watched him silently. In the meantime, the gliders took off—one by one—sending shrill screams of blaring rockets into the air as the three aircraft veered towards the southeast, and lit up with mana-powered energy. The Steel Wing pierced the winds after them like a hovering mountain.

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