• Published 19th Oct 2012
  • 9,073 Views, 9,535 Comments

Eljunbyro - Imploding Colon

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

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Last Chances

"A single Searonese bandit has stopped you in your tracks?" The centermost equine image remarked. The bright blue projection shimmered within the center of the pitch-black cabin. "We find that hard to believe, especially considering the numbers of Xonans you have taken down single-hoofedly in your illustrious career."

"She had the element of speed and surprise on her side," explained Enforcer Shell. The one-eyed stallion was frozen in a perpetual bow as he spoke towards the glowing figures before him. "Her smoke screen effectively disoriented our managlider pilots in pursuit of the target. If I attempted to intercept the bounty hunter's vessel with artillery rounds, I risked harming my own forces."

"Has the importance of this mission been lost to you, Enforcer?" Another image inquired. "Do you know what is at risk here? What sort of weapon we stand to lose against the Xonan menace?"

Shell took a deep breath, his jaw clenching. He did not raise his gaze. "I am doing what I can to assure the safety of my stallions while keeping a firm pursuit of the target."

"And yet we do not see how any of this is actually helping you catch the target. Prime Enforcer, there is no way for us to be more emphatic about this situation. The capture of the target is more important than your very own life. Perhaps it is high time that you decided what you stand to sacrifice in order to accomplish this goal."

"We have all three ships scanning the forest canopy of Foxtaur," Shell said, more like muttered. "If the bounty hunter attempts to flee, we will see her immediately and—"

"Just like you were able to anticipate the metal mare's interference to begin with?"

Shell's nostrils flared. He didn't say anything for a few seconds, but ultimately growled forth, "Captain Filta is gifted in mana-sensitivity. Like all metal mares, the intruder undoubtedly possesses a central power core. She cannot make off with the target without our tracking her movement—"

"Your list of enemies climb higher and higher. First, there were two ponies associated with the target. Now—a metal mare?"

"I seriously doubt that they are in league with each other, council."

"Whatever the case, you must seize the target at all costs. Do not go on any unnecessary hunts for residual targets. You are at war with one winged mare. Anything standing in the way is forfeit. Do you understand this?"

Shell took a deep breath. "I understand this thoroughly, good council."

"And we have noted your understanding. Should you fail, we can only assume that it is not a matter of incompetence, but treachery. Your career and title are on the line, Prime Enforcer. We expect a report on your progress by the next time we converse."

Bowing his head, the stallion murmured, "In honor of the Queen, I give myself."

"We shall see." And in a wave of static, the projection of the Council disappeared.

Wincing, Shell took several seconds to stand up. The metal, mana-lit brace over his shattered leg was doing little to numb the pain of his injury. A sane pony would have turned himself in at a hospital unit days ago. There was no telling what permanent damage there was to the limb.

Shuffling about on the wooden floorboards, he made for a pair of doors and opened the passage to the main deck of the Steel Wing. There was no blinding light, for night had fallen. Stars gathered overhead as a brisk evening wind kicked through his mane. There were fewer crew members on the deck at this point. A great deal of the ship's stallions were piloting managliders, mounting a thorough search for the wanted pegasus among the trees below.

From the deck's edge, Shell gazed out. He saw the spiraling blue specks of the hovering managliders against the dark, purple sky. Everything was peaceful, calm, and almost dreamlike.

A piece of him shivered, and his face stretched long beneath the scar that had long consumed his eye.

Suddenly, there was a distant noise. Glass and wooden furniture was being shattered. With a pricking ear, Shell glanced to his right.

Near the stern of the ship, the windows to the starboard cabin were flickering with shadowed movement against amber lamplight. Shell heard a grunting voice—followed by a raspy chuckle. He squinted with one good eye to see the shape of an obese stallion standing up as if having just recovered from a horrible pratfall. He leaned up against a wall inside the chamber. Something levitated in his grasp which the neckbearded Enforcer tipped against his lips with a drunken smile.

With a breathy groan, Shell pivoted towards the stern and trotted with his hobbling prosthetic towards the door to Josho's quarters.

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