• 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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Strong Ponies

The cold door slid shut behind Belle as she sat at the stool before the barren desk. The reason there was no echo was because of the multiple bodies filling the air of the room.

What was once a well-furnished office had been stripped bare of everything except the grand portrait of Queen Ledo. Shell stood behind the desk, levitating a crystal over glass tablets as he "signed" off various documents. Without looking, the scarred war stallion spoke, "Garnet has been relocated. As Prime Enforcer tasked with overseeing the functions of the Blue Shelf facility, I have appropriated his office. In the meantime, he's been relocated to another part of the facility where his managerial skills may be placed to better use."

Belle sat still, twitching from the proximity of the rigid, uniformed ponies on either side of her. Two more flanked the desk. The room felt hot and stuffy from all of the still, unmoving bodies at attention, as if everypony was waiting for a gunshot.

Instead, Shell's voice rose yet again, "Such is the way of Ledomare, after all. Our talents are as important as our bodies, only... our talents can't be moved elsewhere. Our bodies, however, can." He paused and stared up at her with his one good eye. "Garnet had nothing to prove. And what about you?"

Belle bit her lip. She could only stare in pensive silence at the officer.

He blinked at her. Pointing the crystal with a tilt of his magic, he said, "Now you can't possibly be mute again. That elder worker... what's his name? Dalton? He told me that you were capable of speaking. That's why I brought you here, after all." He stood up, his hooves scraping sharply against the concrete floor of the stripped room. "Because if you can speak, then perhaps you can explain things to me. For instance, why—in five long days—has Blue Shelf's most prized sequencer produced absolutely nothing to stand on?"

Gulping, Belle dryly spoke, "I sequenced with the subject. I had a vision. And..."

"Hmmm?"

She bit her lip. She squeaked forth, "It's all gone."

He shuffled to a stop, staring at her. "Gone."

She nodded pensively. "I don't remember anything beyond the first jump. All of the spheres that Dalton claims I sequenced with, I—"

"Dalton claims nothing," Shell said, his voice hard and metallic. "He's a scientist. He collects empirical data and relates it to his colleagues. Correct me if I'm wrong, but that's what you have a learned diploma in, Doctor Bellesmith."

"I know, sir—"

"Then explain to me how you could lose track of an entire week's worth of research," he said. "Is there history of deterioration in the short term memory of ponies who've sequenced with a subject's spheres?"

"I haven't a clue, Enforcer."

"Why not?"

She gazed strongly at him. "Because no unicorn has gone as deeply as I have."

He stared at her for a few prolonged seconds. Inhaling, he paced over to the far side of the office, standing beneath the portrait of the Queen. "I've seen a great deal of conflict in my life, Doctor."

She stared at him, shivering slightly.

"I've killed ponies up close, and from afar," he stated, his good eye lazily drifting towards the edges of the Queen's picture frame. "Xonans, pirates, outlying rogues. In truth, none of those deaths have moved me much. Whether you kill from a distance or you see the life drained from their eyes, they're still the enemy, and I've never been bested by a single stallion in combat. But I do remember one scuffle I had. I came out the victor, but I didn't feel so at the time."

He pivoted his face towards her and pointed at the right side of his face.

"It's how I got this, you see," he said, pointing at the scar. "I had gone on an expedition in the southeast jungles. We were attempting to find a mining facility run by Xonan militants. It turned out to be a wild goose chase, but that didn't stop my company and myself from galloping deep into the sweltering foliage. At one point, our unit got attacked by a pride of manticores. Half of our numbers were wiped out, so I grabbed a managun and I eliminated two of those beasts for every good Ledomaritan slain. That's when the leader of the pack singled me out. He pounced on me. The scuffle seemed to last for minutes. I took his life, and he took half of my face."

Belle flinched as Shell's hooves scuffled towards her.

"It was the most harrowing experience of my life, and I assure you that I remember every damned second of it," he marched icily towards her. His good eye glared. "Because after going through hell, I'd never forgive myself if I willingly chose to forget the one moment in my life that made me strong." He shoved a hoof in her chest as his voice rose, "So now I want you to ask yourself something, Doctor. Are you sure you haven't made yourself forget something you're too weak to handle, or are you just not a very strong scientist?!"

Belle blurted it out immediately; it almost resembled a squeak. "Austraeoh."

Shell's eyebrow raised.

"I was told a word in the first vision," she hissed through chattering teeth. "It's what the symbol means."

Shell grumbled, "What symbol?"

"The one Garnet wanted me to learn more about." She gulped and very bravely added, "Or were you too busy to learn that when you fired him?"

Shell was silent. His nostrils flared, and he glanced up at the soldiers flanking her. All he had to do was nod.

Suddenly, Belle was being hoisted up by glowing telekinesis. She gasped, flailing in a panicked fright as she was being pulled out of the office. "What?! Wh-where are you taking me?!"

"Do you care about your beloved?" Shell asked.

In a jerk, Belle looked up at the Enforcer.

"That zebra," Shell asked, his eye hard and sharp. "Do you love him?"

Her eyes moistened slightly. "Y-yes," she stammered.

"Then you would do best not to ask too many questions." He whistled.

And that's when the bag was placed over Belle's head.

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