• Published 19th Oct 2012
  • 8,995 Views, 9,443 Comments

Eljunbyro - Imploding Colon

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

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Slave Labor

"Bellesmith...?!" Felicity managed with a weak tremble. Several sweaty ponies around her and Placid glanced over with confused expressions.

Belle took a gamble, hopping completely out of the back of the wagon and pressing her back against it. Shivering in the open air of the cacophonous slave pit, she leaned forward and hoarsely exclaimed, "I thought you were sent abroad to other parts of Ledomare! What in Spark's name are you doing here?"

Feilicity's face grimaced as a tear or two sprang from her eyes. "Belle, I don't know how you got in here, but you must leave! Now!"

"If you have the power to sneak in and out, then get back to the surface as swiftly as you can!" Placid added in an intense whisper.

"I hate to interrupt your charming little pony-pony renuion, sweetcakes," Grinder grunted, glancing nervously over his shoulder at the patrolling Enforcers. "But this is hardly the time or the place for a tea break."

"Grinder, please!" Belle wheezed. She turned back to the unicorn couple. "I came here hoping to track down where they took Pilate."

"Oh blessed Spark, they brought him here too?" Felicity whimpered.

"Why him and not you?" Placid stammered.

"Never mind that." Belle leaned forward even more. "Just why are you ponies down here?"

"They told us that we were being relocated to other places within the Confederacy," Placid said, his usually calm face bearing a venomous frown. "All they did was seize our possessions and cart us down here to do grunt work."

"I've never moved so much as a slab of stone in my life!" Felicity exclaimed, panting and tossing back her dirtied mane. "There are ponies who have died here from overwork! They don't care at all about our well-being!"

A distant shriek lit the air, followed by the sound of burning tasers. The line of nearby slaves shivered, their faces paling.

Belle looked at them helplessly. She exclaimed, "Is this what became of everypony from Blue Shelf? You were all brought here?"

"Most of us were," Placid said with a nod. "But the others..." His voice trailed off as a terrible fear seized his facial expressions. Felicity was hiding her tears in her forelimbs.

Belle's face tensed. "I don't get it. There were others? Weren't they brought here as well?"

"At f-first," Placid stammered. He gulped, glancing beyond the nearby lines of workers with paranoia. "But then they were dragged away at random and brought to the elevators The last we saw of them, they ascended to the upper levels of the facility."

"Did any of the Enforcers say to where they ascended?"

"I... erm... that is..." Placid could only fidget.

"Department Blue," murmured a hoarse voice from the sidelines. "It's just below where you typically work, Doctor..."

Belle glanced over, and her chestnut eyes flew wide. "Professor!"

Grinder, Felicity, Placid, and several other nervous equines watched as Bellesmith galloped over and knelt beside an emaciated unicorn's side. The stallion sat, slumped against several other starving souls whose limbs were decaying to the skeletal degree.

Belle had to struggle to keep her lunch in. With a look of pity, she grasped his forelimb in hers and gazed at his face. "Professor Garnet. What... what happened...?"

He wheezed, gazing at her through thin, mucousy eyes. "Enforcer Shell happened. He's taken over this whole facility. He's owned it long before I was even transferred here..." Garnet coughed, hissed, and struggled to say, "Black Level was turned into a slave camp, and I wasn't even told of it. He was granted authority by the Council of Ledo ages ago, and only recently did he arrive here to see the fruits of his undertaking."

"I mean, what happened to you?" Belle stammered, her eyes moistening in pity and horror. "You... You're dying!"

"We've done our best to keep his health up," Placid said from a few paces over. "We've fed him half of our morsels, even at the cost of our own meals." He shuddered. "They've abandoned him since he could no longer heave rocks."

"This... this is terrible!" Belle frowned, glancing back at the others. "I can't believe the Confederacy would allow this sort of atrocity!"

Placid and Felicity hung their heads. Grinder paused in looking over his shoulder to utter, "It's only sunny on the top side of this lousy kingdom, girl. For having such bright eyes, you sure don't use them much, do you?"

Belle's mouth hung open. She clenched her eyes shut, seething. "Pilate... what have I dragged you into...?"

"This cannot last forever," Garnet hoarsely managed.

Belle looked over at him, sniffling. "How do you mean?"

He wheezed and said, "Most ponies here are planning a grand escape. In less than a day's time, as a matter of fact, they plan to rush the shafts to the upper levels."

Belle looked at the others. "Is... Is this true?"

Grinder's nostrils flared. "I was hoping to be topside when they attempt it. It ain't gonna be pretty."

"Anything beats staying here forever," Placid said with a frowning expression. "This has been in the plans for a while."

"So many ponies won't make it," Felicity said in a whimpering tone. Placid nuzzled her placatingly, but she still shuddered. "I still can't believe it's all come to this. Just what is this metal mess they're wanting us to excavate? None of the Enforcers will tell us."

"It matters little," Garnet exclaimed. "The Enforcers are dangerous, but they're spread too thin. They know this too, which is probably why they've shipped three hundred ponies to Department Blue in the last two days alone."

"Three hundred?!" Belle exclaimed whisperingly. "But, I don't understand! Department Blue is just a storage compartment! What kind of slave labor can be done there?! I don't think you can fit that many equines in such a place!"

"It doesn't change the fact that they were sent there," Placid managed. He gulped and added, "Kenna and Baxter were sent just two days ago."

Belle flung him a horrified expression. "Kenna? Baxter?"

"Even Great Stare and Little Breath," Felicity added, stifling a sob. "For some reason, they s-seem to be collecting most of the non-ponies."

"I may not live to see the daylight, Doctor Bellesmith," Garnet exclaimed, squeezing her forelimbs as a shudder ran through his thin body. "But if you're here, then that's a beacon of hope."

"Professor, you don't understand," Belle murmured as the sounds of labor echoed all around her. "I came here to find Pilate. My beloved was taken too. From what I'm hearing, odds are he's in Department Blue as well—"

"I don't think he's where all the other non-ponies are," Garnet murmured. "Enforcer Shell wants to gain access to what's beyond the metal, no matter what or who he has to used." He gulped and leaned forward with jaundice leaking from his eyes. "If you've made it this far, then there's a chance you can get to the upper levels. Maybe you can even do something to help all these ponies who plan to make a riotous escape from Black Level."

"What?! I mean how—"

"Most of the Enforcers are concentrated here; the laboratory levels are a ghost town. I have no doubt you can gain access to the central manabanks and disrupt security—"

"What I meant is: how can I even get up there? Grinder's little ploy can only take me so far!"

"Speaking of which," Grinder hissed as the echoes of nearby guards grew louder, closer. "Now's a good time to make like a turd and get buried, girl."

"Shhh!" Belle hissed and turned towards Garnet. "Professor, how can you expect me to—?"

"Two – Three – Four – Zero," Garnet uttered.

Belle blinked. "What was that?"

"The access codes to the elevators," Garnet managed. He gulped and said, "At least, I can only hope Enforcer Shell lacked the foresight to change them since I navigated such shafts. If they're still in effect, then that will grant you access to the laboratory levels..." He seethed and added, "As well as Department Blue."

"I... I don't know what to say..."

"Just go, Belle!" Felicity squeaked. "The guards are coming, and this place is going to explode sooner than later! The ponies here will start their riot in less than twenty-four hours!"

"Go up there and save Pilate," Placid added. "So long as the two of you make it out of here safely, then that will be an exceedingly good thing."

"Time to kick your hooves, girl," Grinder said, beginning to tug at the wagon.

Belle backtrotted, limply letting go of Garnet's hooves. "Two – Three – Four – Zero?" she murmured.

The unicorn nodded. "Yes. Make like the wind..."

Belle's face paled. "The wind... right..." She gave them all one last, apologetic glance. "I'm... I'm so sorry, everypony." She dove into Grinder's wagon in a blink. "I wish you luck..."

"We will all need it..." And they were gone in the heated haze of the place.

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