• 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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Duty Calls

"Are you... uh..." Phoenix shifted uncontrollably. "Are you getting any response?"

"I'm not even sure if this thing is working, properly," Zenith grumbled, pacing across from him with the glowing blue shard in telekinetic tow. "Nggh! It's been inactive for too long! If only Crimson had let us use it sooner!"

"Shhh!" Phoenix hissed, glancing fitfully over his shoulder. "Keep it down! I'm not sure I could handle the fireworks if the other ponies were to hear this!"

"Relax, you nitwit," Zenith droned. "They're at least two corridors away. Besides, I'm starting to think this whole thing was for naught."

"R-really?" Phoenix chirped, his eyes lighting up. After receiving a glare, the mustached stallion flinched. "Erm... I-I mean how bad for us, right?"

Zenith sighed, gazing lethargically at the stone. "What it likely needs is a charge to reenchant it."

"A stone like that would require more than two unicorns, though, right?"

Zenith stared at Phoenix.

Phoenix's ears folded. "Well, so much for that."

Zenith shrugged. "The two of us may still be able to do it. We simply need to take turns without the others noticing and—"

A bright flash erupted across the tight chamber, accompanied by a hideous popping sound, like half the oxygen in the room had been consumed by fireworks. Sparks of magic danced against the rocky walls, ultimately settling across the armored shoulders of fourteen fresh new bodies.

Phoenix and Zenith were instantly knocked back from the sheer force of the teleportation spell. They tumbled over each other, quivering on the ground.

"Unnnngh..." Enforcer Josho fell flat on his chest, spasming as his horn shorted out. Standing above him, several heavily armored Ledomaritans stood tall with levitating tasers at the ready. In the center of the group, seemingly unfazed by the rush of fitful translocation, was a one-eyed stallion with a metal prosthetic.

Shell's head pivoted as he glared at the two, sprawling stallions.

Zenith winced. Phoenix glanced up, and his eyes became wide as saucers.

All Shell had to do was motion with his horn.

Six soldiers ran forward. They tackled the two ponies, slamming them chest-first against the ground. In swift order, their front and rear limbs were bound. Hot tasers brimming with electrical fury hovered at their necks—but made no contact.

Panting, Zenith and Phoenix could only watch from their prostrate positions as the glow of their sudden adversaries illuminated the fresh sweat on their muzzles.

Shell paced before the two, staring down at them with a calm eye. He leaned over, telekinetically lifted the sound stone from Zenith's pocket, and held it before his scarred face. After a breath, he glanced quietly over at Josho lying on the ground, then back at the two stallions. "You rang?"

"Please, I-I have a family b-back at home!" Phoenix stammered. "We all have family! Whatever you do, j-just take it out on the pegasus! Sh-she's just two corridors away with the others—"

"Phoenix, shut up!" Zenith hissed.

Shell's metal hoof-brace scraped across the stone floor before them. They both looked up at him.

Shell blinked once at Phoenix, then turned towards Zenith. He leered over. "I take it that you're the smart one."

Zenith clenched his jaw. He said nothing.

Josho was finally standing up at this point, trying in vain to straighten his uniform and haggard mane.

Shell reached down, adjusting the canvas vest on Zenith's body so that he could have a better look at the crest that was on it. "Blades Guild," the prime enforcer said. "Mercenaries. From Franzington, I gather." He stood up straight, his one-eyed gaze a great deal more judging now. "What brings you to Foxtaur, I wonder? Surely there's no campaign that the Council of Ledo would have you engaged in this far south into the wilderness."

"Perhaps they're in league with Xona," Josho slurred.

"I'm doing the interrogation here, Enforcer, thank you," Shell said without looking back at the obese stallion. He juggled the flickering soundstone in his telekinetic grip and paced before the two. "You've already made yourself useful..."

Josho bit his lip, then glanced over as Zenith spoke.

"We are not in league with the Xonans," Zenith said, summoning a nervous glance from Phoenix beside him. "In fact, we've slain many of them in the highland campaign."

"We've all killed Xonans, my little pony," Shell groaned, glaring down at him. "Get to the point where I should care."

"We've been trained by the best militants from Franzington to Ledomare to observe and calculate the strengths and weaknesses of the enemy," Zenith said. "The pegasus which you seek? She's nearby. You can catch her unawares, without mishap." He gulped and bravely added, "If you let us help you."

"And why would I need help from two inept mercenaries?"

"Every time you've tried to capture the pegasus, you've failed." Zenith managed the slightest of smirks. "Horribly." He gestured at Phoenix. "You know she's just a stone throw's away in these caves. Why aren't you trying to tackle her now unless you realize you'd have a pathetic fight on your hooves?"

"With this pegasus, it is always a matter of a pathetically dramatic fight," Shell said.

"Then let us set it up for you!" Zenith remarked, bravely sitting up beneath the taser-glow of his captors. "We can corner her! Get her into a chamber somewhere so that you can slay her!"

"She's been killed already, mercenary," Shell droned. "And yet she has the power to come back. Whether or not she'll admit, the mare has chaos on her side. After all of this struggle, the only true way to acquire her is if we demolish her spirit."

"One thing at a time," Zenith said. "We can get you the mare... if..."

Shell paused to stare at him. Josho squinted from the corner.

Zenith took a breath and finished, "If you give us clemency."

Shell nodded slowly, his eye darting back and forth between the two. "You are both absent without leave, aren't you?"

Phoenix immediately flinched and looked away.

Shell saw it. "On the run from the forces of Ledo all this time, your backs against the wall, with the world's most dangerous pony in their possession. No wonder you're desperate enough to give away your location. Neither of you is the commanding officer, I take it."

"We number in four," Zenith said. "Let us go freely home, and you can have the pegasus."

"Just the pegasus?" Shell asked. "That pony has a lot to fight for. I doubt she will be ambushed so easily. After all, she doesn't seem to care much about her own well-being."

"The other two..." Josho spoke up. "The ponies that were with her in Green Slope Province. The zebra and the mare with the broken horn."

"My associate brings up a valid point," Shell said as he turned towards the two stallions once more. "How about it, mercenary? Surely they must be in good health for the target to remain with your group, buried beneath so many meters of Foxtaur stone and ash."

Phoenix glanced at Zenith.

Zenith stared silently at Shell. He finally spoke, "I've no clue who you're talking about. The pegasus came to us alone."

Biting his lip, Phoenix trembled slightly.

Shell saw it, but said nothing. He stood up, his nostrils flaring. "Well," he eventually uttered. "We seem to be at an impasse. I would very much like to grant your little group clemency, but that's a hard thing to do when there's no reward for me and my fellow soldiers."

"Like I said," Zenith glared. "We can get you the pegasus. We'll even join in on fight."

"Zenith—" Phoenix began.

Zenith nudged him away and spat, "We will join in on the fight! Let me talk to my commanding officer and his subordinate! With the given situation now, we'll gladly do whatever it takes to hoof the pegasus over!"

"And then what?" Shell asked, his eye reflecting the cold tasers brimming around the two. "We simply fly you four via a luxury cruise to Franzington? Give me one good reason why I shouldn't bathe the walls with your cowardly juices?"

"Enforcer..." Josho hissed. He trotted limply forward and spoke over Shell's shoulder. "These aren't just normal fugitives. These are soldiers. The honorable thing to do in this situation is throw their flanks into the brig and bring them back to the Council for trial."

Shell took a calm breath, nodding. "Well put, Enforcer. These are fellow veterans of the Xonan Campaign after all." He levitated the sound stone up to his face. His one eye twitched. "However... they did desert." His iris flared.

With a strobe of magic, Shell spun and launched the sound stone into Zenith's mouth.

The stallion's eyes widened as he gagged on the shard planted between his teeth.

Glaring, Shell fired a pulse of unbridled magic into the stone. It glowed brighter then the sun, then overloaded—taking Zenith's entire cranium with it.

Phoenix rocked backwards, mouth gaping as his face and horn was drenched in his best friend's brain matter.

Josho's jaw dropped. He nearly fell over from the momentum of Shell galloping past him.

"Nnngh!" Shell shoved the bloodied Phoenix up against the cave wall just beside Zenith's limp body. "Now you listen to me, you gutless waste of your father's seed! I am about to give you your last command. You will go back to your group and from there you shall—without fail—assist us in delivering not only the pegasus but her two traitorous companions as well! And if you don't, your death won't be quick and merciful like your soulless companion. I will personally make sure that all of Franzington burns and that you devour the entrails of your entire family before I so much as decide to bring the knife to your throat. Do I make myself clear?"

"I... I-I..." Phoenix quivered, his voice whimpering in a fitful attempt to navigate the scent of his own urine.

"Look at me." Shell snarled, his teeth glinting. He kneed Phoenix in the stomach. "I said look at me!"

Phoenix winced then glanced at Shell with two twitching eyes.

Shell leered and said, "I don't make threats. I make corpses." He spat, "You have a job to do, soldier." With that, he flung Phoenix limply to the bloodsoaked floor and adjusted his uniform. "Now get to it."

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