• 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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Doom Thyself

Crimson stared quietly into the misty lengths of the starlit forest. His expression hung between two poles, and neither of them all too cheerful.

"I mean it, Crimson," Zenith's voice said from behind him. "We've gotta ditch them."

Crimson's nostrils flared. Turning around, the stallion glared at his two subordinates. "Out of the question."

Phoenix trembled slightly.

Zenith... not quite so much. Gripping the sound stone, he frowned in Crimson's direction. "And just what is part of the equation? Huh? Us getting caught by those flying Queen-humpers and skinned alive for harboring terrorists?"

"They're just three ponies trying to make their way across Ledomare—"

"Crimson, the Enforcers have sent friggin' cannon shells and a bunch of managliders after them!" Zenith hissed. "Look, I know you love your ponykind, but—"

"Do you even remember what we're doing out here to begin with?" Crimson asked.

Zenith sighed, shutting his eyes and trying to remain calm. "We're trying to get our flanks home—"

"We're soldiers tasked with protecting the interests of innocent citizenry."

Zenith reopened his eyes, and when he did so, he was frowning. "No, we're trying to get home, Captain. If I may be so bold, our duty to the citizens of this stinkin' Confederacy ended the very moment we all decided to go AWOL—"

"That doesn't change the fact that we are defenders of peace!" Crimson said, snarling slightly. "It's a doctrine we've held steadfast to since the day we set out from Franzington! It's the reason we disobeyed our commandments in the end!"

"Crimson, it's not like these three are even 'citizens' anymore!" Zenith gestured towards the ruins looming a dilapidated wall or two away. "Spark knows what they've done to deserve the entire friggin' sky armada of Ledo after them—"

"Nor should we care."

"Even when it's something crazy enough for the airforce to level this forest down for?!"

"If that was the case, they would have razed the ground we are standing on as well."

"And who's to say that won't happen yet?! Blast it, Captain..." Zenith took a few steps over and spoke in a lower tone, "You're having an awful lot of faith in these three strangers, especially considering all that they've cost us."

"We still have our lives, our wits, and the majority of our supplies," Crimson said. "If necessary, we'll set up an observation post elsewhere—north instead of west this time."

"Do you even hear yourself?" Zenith's voice murmured hoarsely. "You're going flank over elbow to excuse having them under our watch! What about your faith in us?! We're your soldiers and we think enough is enough!"

Crimson looked at Zenith. Silently, his hard eyes darted over towards Phoenix.

Phoenix bit his mustached lip.

Crimson nodded. "What about you, Phoenix? Do you feel the same way, or is Zenith speaking for you?" He exhaled. "As usual..."

"To be perfectly honest, Captain, I think this whole situation is nuts," Phoenix remarked. "I mean, this whole thing started with that winged blue freak beating the ever-living-crap out of us. I nearly had my very own teeth kicked in, and what happens next? We give them a helping hoof. How are we rewarded? Crap has been flying down over our heads all day. These Enforcers aren't messing around. They want these three ponies and they want them bad. Just how is anypony being helped by our harboring them?"

"It's only a matter of time before these forces from the sky overwhelm us!" Zenith said.

"So what do you propose?" Crimson remarked, frowning and hissing back. "That we betray them? That we hoof them over to the forces of Ledo? That's virtual execution!"

"We'll be lined up against the wall just as much as they will be, Captain," Phoenix added. "But if... y'know... we give them up—"

"We'll still be dead!" Crimson barked. "Have you both lost your minds?! Never mind your hearts—think about this! I'm quite certain you understimate just how vicious and unmerciful the Ledomaritans can be!"

"And I think you—sir—are misunderstanding just how badly the bad guys want these ponies," Zenith retorted. "Face it. There's a hulking battleship out there. Foxtaur doesn't go on forever. At some point or another, our backs will be up against the wall. Then what would you have us do?"

"Fight," Crimson said.

Zenith double backed from that, his mouth hanging open. "It... but... you're joking."

"We're soldiers, Zenith. We sacrifice our lives for the common good—"

"For a bunch of wayward bums with a continental target on their heads?!"

"It doesn't matter—"

"I have a home to get back to, Crimson! Phoenix has a family! You have a wife—"

"First and foremost we have a duty!"

"To what?!" Zenith cackled. "To what, Captain?! Do you see yourself?! Do you see us?! We're outcasts! We can barely find the food to eat each day! What is there to defend anymore when you don't have a home, much less a country?!"

"Shhh!" Phoenix hissed, raising his mace and spinning towards a rustling movement. "Something's coming!"

With the sound of ringing metal, Zenith and Crimson spun towards the forest.

Eagle Eye froze in mid-step, his violet eyes reflecting the trio of nervous soldiers. "I... come in peace?"

Zenith exhaled heavily and sheathed his polearm. "Put a friggin' bell on, princess. Spark knows, you love accessories."

"Hardy har..." Eagle Eye glared as he passed by Zenith, then smiled up at Crimson. "The north and east sides of the ruins are clear. I'm ready to switch shifts with Phoenix."

Crimson opened his mouth to speak, but lingered. His nerves were still shaking from the heated exchange with the others.

Eagle Eye raised an eyebrow. "Sir? Is something amiss?"

Crimson sighed. With a weary smile, he patted Eagle Eye's shoulder. "Good work, soldier. Yours and Phoenix's patrols are done for the night. I'll keepwatch until morning."

"Oh... uhm... very well." Eagle Eye gave a salute. He glanced at the silent mercenaries, fidgeted, and made for the center of Site Beta.

The others stood still as he departed. At the last second, however, he spoke up.

"You will... alert us the first moment Rainbow Dash shows up, right, Captain?" Eagle Eye asked.

Crimson nodded. "I won't hesitate for a second. Get some rest. We have to set up a solid perimeter tomorrow morning."

"Right. I'll be on the upper levels by the supply trunk." Eagle Eye departed.

Crimson ran a hoof through his short mane, shuddering.

Zenith walked into his view. "You cannot protect him forever, Captain. Nor can you protect all of us. Not while you're trying to juggle that and this crazy party that's fallen into our laps."

Crimson said nothing.

"So, what will it be? Huh?"

"For crying out loud, Zenith," Phoenix grumbled. "At least let him think—"

"Shhh!" Zenith hissed over his shoulder. "Well?"

Crimson took a deep breath. He stood up, the full height of his muscular girth, and he stared into Zenith's eyes. "Give me the sound stone." He stretched his hoof out.

Phoenix glanced from Crimson to Zenith.

Zenith blinked. He looked at the glowing blue shard in his grip, then at his superior.

Crimson's brow furrowed darkly.

Zenith gulped. With a soft sigh, he obediently reached out and held the shard in an open hoof.

Crimson telekinetically took it. Without any ceremony, he slipped it into his vest pocket. "When or if the time comes that we have no other options, I will consider your proposal. For that is what this is, Sergeant Zenith, a proposal."

"Sir, I only feel that—"

"You're not feeling anything. You're thinking. And there's nothing wrong with that, Zenith. After all, using your wits is what you're good at." Crimson then loomed over the stallion as he said, "However, you have a thing or two to learn about loyalty. That's why it will be up to me—and not you—to decide whether or not it will be necessary to do something that will damn our souls. Because if there's anything I hope to bring out of this whole mess, it's that we have those—souls, that is—and when we get back, I want them to be inifnitely cleaner than our military records. After all, why else would be live with ourselves after what we've done?"

Zenith and Phoenix were both silent.

Crimson raised a hoof.

Zenith flinched, only to have the captain's limb patting him on the shoulder.

"I meant what I said to Eagle Eye earlier," Crimson muttered. "This patrol is mine. You go rest." He trotted off towards the thicker edges of the forest. "You will need it as much as our guests—and they are our guests. Do not forget that."

The silence of the forest resumed after the muscular leader was gone.

Phoenix and Zenith exchanged glances.

"Well?" Phoenix murmured.

Zenith gulped and muttered back, "We're doomed."

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