• 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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Spark's Sake

Belle's hooves crunched over errant leaves and pine needles littering the path. Her trot was a serpentine one, weighted by hunger and exhaustion as she limped left and right during her sluggish ascent. It hadn't occurred to her how little she had eaten, how little she had drank during her frequent bouts of collapse. Even opening her eyes was a difficult feat; the sun stabbed at her vision through the trees as she stumbled her way home.

Nevertheless, she kept her lids open. She had to stay focused, had to keep eying the forests, the ridges, the shapes of Blue Shelf for a single sign. She looked for black stripes, for twitching ears, for a handsome, smiling face. She saw nothing but blurred color hung between empty cottages as silent and cold as gravestones. If someone told her she was the last pony in Ledomare, Belle wouldn't have doubted it. Roads that were once full of travellers and yards that were once brimming with residents were empty now. An eerie silence hung over the community; it weighed on her like an ocean, and she was suffocating with each hoof step.

She knew she was home by its smell, not from the sight of its entrance. She stumbled through the gate, tripping once. For several minutes, she sat on the stoop before her house, not wanting to get up. If dreaming was something like death, then perhaps she might meet her beloved there.

There weren't enough memories to go by, nor were there any walls to silence her tears. She pulled herself up—a whimpering task—and more or less threw herself into the house.

She collapsed against the kitchen counter, and immediately lost her breath. A mana lantern was brimming right in front of her. She wasn't alone.

"Pilate...?" Her lips trembled. Shuffling about, she spun on her hooves and stood straight up with a pale, sickly smile. "Pilate!" She galloped into the study. "Pilate, you're—" She skidded to a stop, panting, her chestnut eyes wide.

Enforcer Shell looked up from a dusty book that was floating in his magical grip. He gave her one glance, calmly slapped the tome shut, and murmured in monotone, "I am not your beloved."

Bellesmith gulped.

His good eye gazed at her. Slowly, he shuffled through the windowlight and pulled two more books from a shelf. "The archives in and above the facility is lacking as of late. This is all property of the Confederacy anyways. I do hope you will not protest my acquisition of them."

"No... I..." Belle swallowed again and leaned in the office doorway. "I d-do not protest, Enforcer Shell..."

"Good," he said, lethargically flipping through the pages of another book. "I doubt you would have much strength to do so." He inhaled and formed a stack with the canvas-bound items. "Word is, you haven't been up to much, lately. You seem to be encumbered quite a bit with the continual side effects of your sequencing. One wonders if you ever sleep to rest anymore..."

"How..." Belle's eyes tiredly narrowed. "H-how did you...?"

"It is my business to know everything I can," he said matter-of-factly, not even looking at her. "That's why I took over the experiment from the Council of Ledo, after all. I had a problem to solve, and you were the key."

"I... I tried... tr-tried to..."

"What matters is you brought me halfway. For a moment there, it seemed as though I would be empty-hoofed," he muttered, squinting through a final manuscript. "Albeit, I am a soldier, and more than anything I know how to adapt and survive." He gazed uper at her, his one eye sharply glinting. "That's something you're sorely in need of learning yourself, Doctor."

"Enforcer... Enforcer Sh-Shell, sir..." She dryly coughed and trotted towards him, trying to stand as upright as possible. Nervertheless, her chin and neck trembled as she said, "Please. Take me back. Let me return to the facility so that I can do more sequencing."

"How noble of you," he droned. "But exactly what would that accomplish?"

"I... I can get more information—"

"That you would only reveal in spurts after a prolonged period of catatonic silence? I hardly doubt that—"

"Look, I can get you what you're looking for!" she suddenly shrieked, her eyes flaring. "I can get you Rainbow Dash! Austraeoh! Eljunbyro! Whatever! Just let me connect back with her! For real, this time! W-with the machines and-and-and Dalton as supervisor and the entire facility providing—"

"Doctor Bellesmith, the facility has provided all it could," Shell said unemotionally. "You were given every resource when Professor Garnet was supervising, and I certainly have given you all I could and more. But when you underdeliver, you underdeliver. I came here to get a mission accomplished, and quite frankly, Doctor, you do not have what it takes to get the job done." He slapped the last book onto the stack with a loud thud. "Consider yourself discharged."

"Then why do you keep me here?!" she shouted, rushing up to him. Shaking. "Why take away so many ponies, so many gifted and talented equines, and leave m-me in this place like some infected th-thorn?! It makes no sense! If you really need me, th-then let me be of use! Bring me back into the facility again!"

"Doctor—"

"I want out of here!" she shrieked. Tears streamed down her cheeks. After two heaves, she blurted again, "I want out of Blue Shelf! I will do everything I can to earn it! I have to get out of here! I have..." She bit her lip, grimaced, and hid her face in her hooves. "I-I need to find him. I need to track down my beloved. I've... I've failed him..." She sniffled, then sobbed. "I don't know how or why, but I w-wasn't enough for him. We l-loved each other so much. It just doesn't make sense... it doesn't..."

Shell gazed down at her quietly. He raised a hoof... and brushed her aside. Levitating the books, he trotted slowly into the kitchen on heavy haunches. "A lot of things don't make sense, Doctor. Some of us, however, know the fine art of patience. Maybe someday, you too will learn it. I, at least, have faith in you in that regards. That is why you're still here. The experiment must go on."

She slowly calmed her breaths, gazing up at him. Through her tears, she squinted at what he was carrying. With a furrowed brow, Bellesmith murmured, "What... Those are Pilate's books." She sniffled and stared at him squarely. "What do you need them for?"

He made for the doorway. "Not all of us are so hopeless, Doctor. We had what we need now. Stay here until further instructed."

Her mouth hung open. As Shell left the cottage, and the door slammed shut, her ears didn't twitch. She stood up straighter, murmuring aloud, "Why would you need me, unless I still had answers to give? But I had no answers. Just words... just symbols..." Her eyes twitched. With a gasp, she glanced into the kitchen, eyeing the glowing light of the lantern that resembled a floating manasphere. Just then, she clenched her teeth. "He left... on a zeppelin?!"

Her breath turn into a hiss, and that hiss turned into a snarl. With a ghostly burst of strength, Belle jumped onto her hooves and thundered out of the cottage. The door flew open and dirt kicked up beneath her legs as she rocketed towards the Enforcer.

Shell was turning around at the last second.

"You!" Belle shrieked and flung her forelimbs into him. It was like flower petals slamming against a gray stone. Shell held her back with one hoof, and yet she snarled and spat at him. "Where is he?! Where did you take him?!"

"You're weak and exhausted, Doctor," he said in an icy tone. "I think you should lie down—"

"No! No more sleeping!" she shouted. "No more sequencing, no more searching. All you want is answers! All you want is a solution to the puzzle! Is that why you took him?! Is that why you stole my beloved away from me?!"

"This proves nothing except that you are as hysterical as you are delusional—"

"He doesn't know anything!" she said, her voice degenerating into a sob. "He's a scholar and a researcher, yes! But he knows nothing! He hasn't seen what I've seen, or felt what I felt!" She hissed and shoved ineffectually at the stallion. "He has nothing that you want!"

"Nothing but a new series of clues," Shell retorted, his eye narrowing, slicing her panicked expression in two. "A living lexicon that can and will open the door that you are blind to."

"Let me see him!" Belle growled.

"And unlike you, he answers to persuasion—"

"Let me see him!" she shrieked. "I'll unlock your damn door! I'll tell you all about the pegasus! Just let me—"

"You have not flown all the paths she has flown," a thunderous voice rang in her ears. "You do not have her wind."

Belle's eyes widened. In a fit of dizziness, she tilted her muzzle towards the heavens. "No!"

"She is the key, the spark for this world, and for you..."

"No, not now!" she fell on her leg joints and heaved. The mountains spun around her. "Please, for Spark's sake! Not right now!" she sobbed.

"You can ask and you can beg but you cannot even help yourself," Shell's voice said as his blob of a shadow wandered off into the tempests. "And a Ledomaritan with no worth does not deserve a beloved..."

She clenched her teeth as her eyes flickered red and rolled back. "Don't... don't leave me..."

"Shhhhh..."

In a cloud of dust, Belle fell to the dirt below. "Pilate..."

"Listen to the wind, my child, and it shall save you."

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