• Published 19th Oct 2012
  • 9,085 Views, 9,536 Comments

Eljunbyro - Imploding Colon

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

  • ...

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No Hearts

"Ungh!" Bellesmith yelped as she was shoved forward onto the open deck of the Steel Wing.

"Stop it!" Pilate snarled, his muzzle frowning over the bulbous glint of O.A.S.I.S. on his choker. "She c-couldn't hurt you if she tried! Stop being rough with her!"

"Mr. Pilate, your beloved..." Captain Filta spoke as he trotted calmly into view. "...is responsible for leading us on the most expensive, costly chase in Confederacy history. She has a great deal to answer for." The uniformed stallion's eyes narrowed on the zebra as explosions and flak filled the vistas of the air battle beyond him. "You are 'Pilate,' are you not?"

Pilate's nostrils flared. "I didn't know I had gained infamy."

"You should be grateful that you're allowed to so much as stand on board my vessel," Filta said. "I've lost good stallions during Shell's crusade to capture you and your winged friend."

"Then maybe you should take it up with Shell," Pilate said bluntly. "Or—better yet—cease pursuing our 'winged friend' in the first place."

"Pilate..." Belle leaned over to nuzzle him, but was forced apart by armored stallions with reins on her bindings. "Nnngh..." Wincing, she gazed at Filta with a pleading expression. "Captain, please! Stop this mayhem at once! There's no need for more violence! Rainbow Dash—our friend has a long and arduous journey ahead of her! She has no interest in Queen Ledo's affairs!"

"The only reason she's giving your troops so much Spark-forsaken fury is because you've captured the two of us from under her noses!" Pilate growled. "She'll stop at nothing to come rescue us!"

"Oh, we're quite sure of that," Filta said with a calm blink. "As a matter of fact, that's all part of Shell's plan in motion."

"Pl-plan...?" Belle stammered.

Filta calmly turned and glanced over.

Belle and Pilate turned their heads.

His legs in irons, Phoenix was led—stumbling—down from a platform where a transport glider was just cooling down after landing. With just one look flung at the two ponies, he instantly winced and gazed away.

"You..." Belle murmured at first. Then her entire golden face twisted as she lurched forward in a hideous snarl. "What did you d-do?!" her voice cracked into a shriek. "This is all your fault! Rainbow Dash did everything f-for you and your comrades—!"

"Belle," Pilate muttered.

"You didn't just betray her or us!" She writhed as the enforcers had to restrain her, holding her back with musculare forelimbs. "You betrayed them! What were you thinking—?!"

"Belle, he's terrified," Pilate exclaimed. "Can't you sense it?"

"I don't care if he's quivering in his horseshoes! We trusted him!" She turned and spat at him. "We trusted you! And you betrayed us!"

The mustached stallion winced, his ears flicking to the sounds of distant explosions and whining managliders. A single tear rolled down Phoenix's face as he stammered, "I-I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." He gulped. "Th-they killed Zenith! They blew his head up right in fr-front of me! And... and th-they threatened to destroy my entire family!"

"You think that's anything compared to what they're going to do to us now?!" Belle roared. "To what they're going to do to Rainbow Dash?! To what they want to do to the entire machine world?!"

Phoenix's face contorted. "Wh-what?!"

"What do you know?!" Belle howled. "You know nothing! Nothing but fear and doubt and—"

A heavy quartet of hooves landed from a parked managlider.

Belle gasped and stumbled back beside Pilate, trembling.

Shell glared at her, then turned to glance at Phoenix. Calmly, flanked by his fellow soldiers—bruised and battletorn—he marched down the steps from the platform and onto the center deck of the Steel Wing. Cannons fired, briefly interrupting the icy thickness of the moment as he paced down the solid line of enforcers standing at attention.

Pilate clenched his jaw. Phoenix quivered. Captain Filta squinted quizzically, then turned to mutter into Shell's ear. "What... What happened to Enforcer Josho?"

Shell paused in mid-step, his metal prosthetic scraping against the wooden deck. His eye fell to the cannons, blinked, then glanced dully at Filta. "He died as he lived," Shell uttered. "Off-balance."

With another scrape of his hooves, he turned and narrowed his gaze on the couple.

Belle bit her lip, leaning towards Pilate under the shadow of Shell.

The Prime Enforcer paced towards him, casting Phoenix a side-glance, but nothing more. Finally, he came to a stop in front of Belle and gazed down at her, exhaling through a pair of cold nostrils. "You're late to the experiment, good doctor."

Belle gazed down and said nothing.

Shell cocked his head to the side. He raised his hoof and forced Belle to look up at him.

The mare's eyes were brimming with tears.

He muttered, "This is not shame. It can't be. A traitorous husk only knows decay."

She whispered back in a firm tone, "I'm far from becoming a hollow creature like you."

Shell said nothing. He glanced to the side.

Pilate faced towards him, chewing anxiously on his lips. As if feeling Shell's gaze, his ears drooped.

After several seconds, Shell turned and spoke firmly to the nearest group of enforcers. "Open the hold! Bring up the sarcophagus!"

"Aye, sir!"

Crew members flocked every which way, opening a wooden door and raising a platform with a familiar coffin built out of chaos metal.

Pilate's mouth dropped. "That... I-I even smell it..."

Belle gasped and turned towards Shell. "What?! You actually think that you can get her inside that thing again?!"

"No," Shell shook his head without looking. "I know..." His eye swam back to her. "...that you will get her inside it again. However, not from here."


Shell motioned towards a platform where several fresh managliders were being fired up. Their engines hummed over the sound of distant explosions and cannonfire from the flanking vessels.

"In a matter of seconds, you'll be on your way to the Council's Northern Facility, a hundred miles due west of Blue Nova. From there, you will be re-acquainted with the tools of junctioning."

"Junctioning?!" Belle stammered.

"No way..." Pilate hissed. "No way are you putting my beloved through that nightmare again!"

"You speak as if there's a choice to be had in the matter." Shell pivoted about in mid-pace. "The fact is, there are very few unicorns with the innate abilities that she has. Once we've captured the target, it would be most beneficial to everypony involved if the good doctor was to lend her talents to the experiment again." Shell turned and glared at Belle. "And you will... lend your talents again."

"No..." Belle clenched her teeth and shook her head. "I... I-I won't! I refuse!" She stamped her hooves. "With every inch of my spirit, I will fight you! I will not help you siphon Rainbow Dash into a weapon!"

Shell paced over to her, gazing at her sideways. He raised the metal hoof to his chin and scratched it, thinking aloud. "Then, I suppose, the swiftest solution is to remove that which motivates such a stubborn spirit." That said, his prosthetic slapped on Pilate's shoulder.

Belle twitched. Pilate gasped—his hooves being swept out from under him.

With a silent growl, Shell galloped towards the edge of the deck, dragged Pilate along with him, and threw the zebra mercilessly over the side.

"Pilate!" Belle shrieked, collapsing forward in a sobbing lurch.

Phoenix's jaw dropped as his and everypony's ears were filled with the screams of the falling stallion—a horrific sound that was all too swiftly devoured by the continuous thuds of the air battle all around them.

Belle heaved and heaved. She fell to her knees, covering her face in her forelimbs as her voice collapsed into indiscernible wailing.

Several stallions shifted uncomfortably.

Captain Filta blinked but said nothing.

As Belle's fitful sobs filled the air, Shell turned around calmly, adjusted his uniform and marched over towards her. With a telekinetic burst, he lifted the Mare forcefully up by the neck.

She hissed for breath, sputtering as her tear-stained face was filled by his unfeeling scowl.

"You listen to me. You are a tool. You are a weapon, just like the target, just like we all are pieces of this Confederate machine. You have nothing. You love nothing. You are nothing... nothing but a means to an end. You will live for the glory of Ledo, and you will not cease breathing until you are no longer useful. Do I make myself clear?"

"My... m-my beloved..." Belle could only whimper.

"Sob at your heart's content. Soon, you will no longer need a heart." He shoved her viciously to the floor and marched off. "The Queen is your beloved now." He motioned towards Captain Filta. "Prepare the transports. They leave now... long before she arrives." He swiveled about and gave them all a glare. "And she will arrive..."

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