• 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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Ram Horns

Ponies trotted up and down the street in quiet shuffles, their eyes glued to the ground. The color was drained from their eyes, and they twitched every now and then while glancing nervously over their shoulder.

Bellesmith glanced at them with squinting eyes as she trotted down the path along with Pilate. "What's gotten into everypony? I know things are tough around here from time to time, but they look absolutely miserable..."

"Things have changed since Enforcer Shell took over Blue Shelf," Pilate explained. He leaned his head towards her as she guided him along. "The very air feels different. A lot of it can be attributed to so many of our neighbors being taken away."

"What, are they afraid that any one of them might be next?" Belle asked. She next whispered, "I know we've never said it much... but I'm sure there are plenty of us who would happily embrace moving elsewhere."

"Ledo takes and Ledo gives," Pilate said. "We always knew that."

"Yes, but..." Belle's jaw clenched. "None of it feels right. Ponies should be happy. They should enjoy... enjoy..." She blinked. "Harmony."

Pilate shuffled to a stop, his ears flicking. "Harmony?"

"Erm..." Belle shifted nervously. "What I mean was...."

Pilate's nostrils flared. "I smell old books."

Belle glanced to her right, observing the front stoop of a large wooden building nestled between the pine trees. "That's because we're here! I do hope Great Stare and Little Breath are in..."

"I'm sure there's no other place they'd rather be," Pilate said as Belle helped him up onto the platform before the entrance. "Being able to work takes a load off the mind, especially as of late. I'm sure we can both relate."

"Yes," Belle said, her voice trailing. "We can..." She staring across the busy street. As several ponies trotted by with wagons and wheelbarrows, she saw a familiar, wooly figure grunting and struggling to heave loads of lumber into a wooden cart. "Say, Pilate?"

"Hmm? Yes, Beloved?"

"I just need to talk with somepony real quick. I shouldn't be long."

"That's fine. I certainly know my way around books," the zebra said with a chuckle as he shuffled forward. "Well, O.A.S.I.S. does, anyway."

"Be with you in a minute." She hopped off the stoop and briskly galloped across the street.

On the far side, Grinder was angrily fussing with a large block of wood, attempting to balance it on his ram horns as he raised it up and into the cart. "Friggin, useless, termite bomb! Get in there or I'll sell your children for kidling!"

A dainty set of hooves balanced it evenly onto his head and helped him lift it into the cart. Belle smiled at him. "Hello, Grinder. Do you need a hoof with the rest of that lumber?"

"Bah!" he shrugged her off, snorted, and lowered his crown towards the next block of wood. "Hooves off, horsie! Go interface your horn with a manawhatsit. I'm busy doing real work!"

"I... uh... I notice..." She said, chewing on her lip. "And, uhm, I can only imagine it pales in comparison to the labor you do in the facility."

"Heaving stuff is heaving stuff," he grunted as he loaded another chunk of splintery logs. "I wouldn't expect a filly like you to know! Nnngh! All you heave is that black and white soft-bray around. Shouldn't have married him, if you ask Grinder. Hmmph. He'd be better off back at the university as somepony else's beloved..."

Bellesmith rolled her eyes and said. "Look, Grinder, I'm sorry for bothering you. But I noticed something—"

"What? That I have horns?! They could butt your tattoo off, lady! Now get! I've got firewood to shove up some Enforcer's—"

"I saw you down there, Grinder," Belle said. "In the depths, where there were noises of sweating, exhausted equines." She gulped. "Where there was also a wall... a tall, shiny, immaculate wall of metal."

Grinder stood in place, petrified. The white of his wool paled in the glittering slivers of sunlight through the pine trees.

"I may work for an Enforcer like Shell, Grinder. But I am no soldier; I am a scientist. I observe things to the best of my ability. Now..." She paced quietly around him and leaned over to peer into his suddenly pensive eyes. "You can't say to my face that you're incapable of observing things yourself. Tell me. What is going on down there? What did they find? Was it a building? A structure? A machine—"

Grinder hissed, his dirty teeth showing beneath his pale eyes. "No. We... We d-don't talk about that..."

Belle gasped. "So it is a machine! What kind of a contraption is it?" She leaned further into him. "How old is it? What does it do?"

"You... You sh-shouldn't be asking me about this, button nose..."

"Why? Because they'll keep you down there longer? Against your will?" She took a deep breath and added, "Like they're doing with Professor Garnet?"

Grinder's eyes twitched towards her.

Her mouth hung open. "Have you talked to him? Has he told you what's going on—"

"Nnngh!" with scuffing hooves, Grinder rammed her head on.

Thankfully, she was nimble enough to take the brunt of the blow to her shoulder. "Unngh!" Belle rolled twice over in the dirt. She sat up, wincing.

"You wanna get fed to the manticores?! You wanna become pelt, soft-bray?!" he hissed down at her. "Know your role and keep quiet, or I'll shut you up for the both of us, chump!"

Belle looked up at him. Her eyes open, flickering from brown to ruby and back. "Who're you calling chump, chump?!" She blurred towards him. "Rrrrgh!" She spun and her hooves flew across his horns.

Grinder fell back, slamming into the cart so hard that his horns made a dent. He merely blinked at her, wide eyed.

She panted and panted. After a few blinks, her features went limp, and she gasped at herself. "Oh dear! By the Spark..." Gulping, she tried trotting towards him with a gentle hoof outstretched. "Grinder... Grinder, I am so sorry—"

"Hey! Bellesmith!"

Belle turned towards the library.

Little Breath stood at the entrance, waving at her with a cloven hoof. "Your beloved has something he wants to show you! Come inside!"

Belle nodded dazedly. She turned back to look at Grinder.

Grinder was gone. A set of wheel tracks led to the wobbly sight of the wooden cart being pulled hastily away. The ram grumbled incoherent words to himself, taking his load of lumber up the mountain path and outside of the town square.

Fidgeting, Belle glanced at the many ponies standing still and staring at her. With her head bowed low, she sighed and trotted limply towards the building across the road.

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