• 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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Loyalty's Reward

The door to the sequencing chamber opened with a cold swish. Dalton stood in the entrance, gazing in with a nervous shiver. Once he felt the coast was clear, he made a motion with his forelimb. Belle came in with Pilate hobbling beside her. Grinder took up the rear, and as soon as he stepped into the place, his wooly face paled.

"What in the brown, fly-swirling crap is this?!" he uttered over the sound of the door shutting behind him.

"Dalton...?" Belle remarked, staring wide-eyed.

"What is it?" Pilate stammered, wincing. "What's wrong?"

"I was afraid of this," Dalton murmured, marching up to a thick wall of black metal. A barricade stretched halfway down the room, cutting the length of the room in half. "It's been weeks since we've last had to strap you to the sequencing chair, darling." He glanced over his shoulder at the gold-coated mare. "Garnet never resorted to this, but ever since Shell took over, he's activated security overrides. This door is meant to prevent access to the sequencing equipment and sarcophagus platform."

"Then un-prevent the access!" Grinder growled.

"I'll attempt to," Dalton said, trotting over towards a console built into the wall. "I've yet to test out the limits Shell may or may not have imposed upon my security clearance."

"Something tells me you've yet to test out a ton of things, neckbeard."

Dalton licked his mustached lip, fiddling with the controls. After twisting several crystal knobs in a specific order, a blue glow filled that half of the room. A loud hum of mana resonated, then met with a buzzing sound. The black barricade shifted down the center, but refused to buzz.

"What in the hay was that?" Pilate asked, his striped face grimacing.

"Nnngh..." Dalton gritted his teeth. "It seems I've been locked out of some liberties I used to possess."

"Like what?" Grinder asked.

"I can't open the door entirely. Obviously, when Shell got rid of Professor Garnet, he threw mechanical prowess out the window as well. The mana rewiring here is a grunt's job; I'm able to unlock the door still, but that's about it."

"Then how do we get it open?"

"I'll show you how!" Grinder slammed his horns against the middle of the barricade. "Hnnnnngh!"

"Grinder!" Belle gasped. "Don't—"

"No, you!" Grinder growled. With a shout of major machismo, he pried the door open with his horns and stuck his upper body in. Slowly, the thinnest of passages was formed, exposing the far end of the sequencing chamber. "Grrrrrrr—How about this, ya numb bucks?!"

"Dalton!" Belle exclaimed. "I can see the pedestal, but the sarcophagus isn't there!"

"It will only rise once the sequencing process has been activated!" Dalton replied, still fiddling with the console. "One of us will have to get in the chair and pretend to be accessing the subject's spheres!"

"Can you help me, then?"

"I'm afraid to go in there and leave this console unattended!" Dalton replied. "The mana circuits are attempting to re-activate the door locks to the barricade! Bellesmith, darling, you'll have to bring the subject up to this level!"

"But if I'm sitting in the chair, how can I get to Rainbow Dash?"

"I don't know..." Dalton grit his teeth, sweating as he fought with the mana crystals. "I doubt very much the subject will trot out on her own..."

"Well, better think of something!" Grinder hissed, sweat dripping off his wool as he quivered between both halves of the door. "I kind of like my spine, and none of you are h-helping it here!"

"I can get her out."

Everypony looked at Pilate.

"Beloved..."

"I can do it." He looked up, smiling as he brought a hoof up to the orb dangling off his choker. "O.A.S.I.S. will guide me."

"But you're in no condition to—"

"To what? Help my beloved in her time of need? Are we or are we not Eljunbyro?"

Belle's lips quivered. "We... We..."

"I don't think we have any other option, darling," Dalton said.

"Friggin' go already before I kick you in the plots!" Grinder growled.

"You heard him, love," Pilate said.

Belle took a deep breath, grabbed the zebra, and threaded them both through the tiny gap. "Here goes..."

"Knock three times when you're ready to come out!" Grinder wheezed.

"Huh?"

The door slammed shut behind them with a resonating thud.

Belle and Pilate were cast into total darkness.

"Oh..." Belle droned. "That's not good."

"Allow me. Ahem. O.A.S.I.S. Illuminate."

A dim glow of silver pulsed in the center of the room. A series of stripes outlined Pilate's bruised muzzle and neck. His face tilted around as he breathed in Belle's direction.

"Does this help at all?"

"Yes, a little," she replied.

"Tell me where to point it, honey."

She gulped and shuffled forward. "Just follow my voice."

He hobbled behind her, aiming the floating sphere in the direction of her panting breath. Soon, a glint of metal shone in Belle's eyes, and she held a hoof out to stop him.

"Right here. Hold it."

"What is it?"

"It can only be one thing..." Belle walked up to the pedestal, atop of which was a porous metal cube. She squinted her chestnut eyes, attempting to see the precious item that lay within. "This box..." She gasped it in two hooves, lifted, and held the thing in the air before her. "There... there doesn't seem to be a lid or a latch or anything."

"Having trouble opening it?"

"There has to be some means of doing so, if only I knew how..."

"I can think of one way." Suddenly, Pilate reached across the silver glow of his orb, grabbed the box, and held it over his mane.

"B-beloved!" Belle gasped.

"Shhh." He smirked. "Don't panic." With one swift throw, he smashed the thing across the hard floor of the sequencing room.

Belle winced, then stamped her hoof with a red-faced expression of anger. "You could have warned me at least!"

"Hey..." He chuckled at her, wincing slightly. "Just following your lead."

"I'm not that impulsive," she muttered, shifting her hoof through a pool of metal shards. "Not yet at least..."

"Did it do the trick?"

She was silent.

"Belle?"

Belle's hoof lifted up, and when it did, an immaculate collar of gold hung from her grip. In the pale light, a fire-red lightning bolt dangled in infinite brilliance.

"It's... it's hers," she murmured, a glittering pattern cascading across her eyes. "It's just like I remembered..." She bit her lip. "Like she remembered. A piece of her..." She ran her hoof across its shiny surface. "It's perfect, Pilate. Not a single scratch on it. It's like it's from another world. Just feel it..."

Pilate raised a hoof up, and Belle guided it until it touched the center of the Element. His breath left him, and a touch of moisture collected along the edges of his gray sockets. "I feel... I feel..."

"Yes?" Belle breathed.

He gulped. "Warm," he said. "There's something... wholesome about it..."

"Harmony in its purest state," Belle uttered, clutching the item to her chest like a long lost lamb. "There's not much in this world that's more wholesome." She gulped and stammered, "Pilate, we're so close. I can feel it..."

There was a thudding sound from the other side, followed by Grinder's muffled shouts: "What's taking you honeymooners so long in there?! Dalton's sweating up an ocean here! Hurry up!"

Belle took a deep breath. "Right. I have to activate the sequencing process."

"And I should just open the sarcophagus when it comes?" Pilate asked.

"You... You have to do more than that, beloved." She thrusted the pendant into his grip.

He stumbled back, juggling it in nervous clutches. "Huh?"

"She needs this, Pilate. If we're to take her anywhere... if she's to be safe... then this needs to be around her neck."

"Her neck?" Pilate gulped. "If she needs it so much, then how's she been able to last so long without it?"

"I don't know, but I suspect we'll eventually find out." Belle galloped over to the chair and practically dove into it. She threw several switches and twisted an array of knobs before attaching a plethora of red wires to her stubby horn. "I have this set at half power. I won't sequence with her completely, so I should be concious enough to guide you along the way verbally, Pilate."

"Alright. I'm sure O.A.S.I.S. will do the rest."

"Just be careful." Belle paused to gulp, then added, "Whatever's inside that sarcophagus, it... it may not be what either of us is expecting."

"What does that mean?!"

"Just get the necklace on her, Pilate, and everything else will be fine. Trust me."

"I do trust you, beloved," Pilate said, though there was a nervous tremble to his bruised limbs as he pivoted away from the chair. The light of O.A.S.I.S. dimmed as a scanning field replaced the illumination screen. The sphere floated before him, ready to sense whatever would rise from the floor. "Just let me know what to do, and I'll get the job done."

"There's the zebra I fell in love with." She took one last breath, her body twitching slightly as bolts of mana surged through the red wires. She winced once, grimaced even, but meditated into a steady state of concentration. Soon, a glow of light pulsed into the floor, swallowed up in darkness. After a few seconds, a deep humming sound emanated from below.

With a resounding hiss, a panel slid open in the floor. Pilate stood his ground and stammered over his shoulder, "I think something's coming up! O.A.S.I.S. is going crazy!"

"Can you d-describe the shape of the object?" Belle managed to say, dripping in and out of sequencing.

"It... It's a large, cylindrical body. Polished metal, with a seam running vertically down the center."

"Good. Get a little closer, Pilate. Up close, O.A.S.I.S. should be able to locate the opening mechanism!"

"Alright..." He stepped towards it, the ruby pendant dangling in his grasp. He reached a hoof out blindly until it made contact with the smooth, curved surface of the locker. "This metal... there's something off about it. O.A.S.I.S. is sending me conflicting information."

"Like how so?"

"It's... It's almost wanting to tell me that the structure is actually organic, and not really metal. Closest thing I can recall from my runic memory is the texture of petrified bone."

"Petrified bone..." Belle's brow furrowed as more sparks of light danced along the wires attached to her horn. Her lips parted. "Chaos strips..."

"What was that?"

"I think I know how Rainbow Dash has remained alive for so long, but how Shell got ahold of it..."

"Care to fill me in?"

Belle cleared her throat. "One thing at a time! You have to open that up!"

"Okay..."

"Halfway up the height of it, along the seam, there should be a part where the structural reinforcement is doubled."

"Scanning... Scanning..." Pilate bit his lip as the sphere shone a steady beam of energy all along the front of the sarcophagus. "Right here, Belle! I sense what feels to be a pivoting hatch along the inside of the lids!"

"It's heat sensitive, wired to mana batteries." She tilted up from the bed, struggling to keep her voice straight. "Place your hooves on either side of the seam and rotate them counter-clockwise. The latch should follow your movement, like a magnet."

"Alright. Here goes." Pilate gripped the edge of the pendant in his teeth, sat on his haunches, and reached his forelimbs up. He placed his hooves on either side of the vertical seam, waited a few seconds, and twisted. With a victorious click, the entire sarcophagus began humming. Soon, there was a loud hiss, and the entire locker split open.

If Pilate's eyes had been blinking at the time, they probably would have frozen shut. A veritable arctic blast pelted his figured. He nearly fell back from the wave of frigid air. The pendant fell from his gasping lips, rattling to the floor.

"Pilate!" Belle exclaimed. "Are you alright?"

"Nnngh—Yeah! Just..." He coughed, wheezed, and picked up the pendant in thrice-shivering hooves. "Just wasn't prepared for the North Pole to say 'hello' to me."

"Is she in there?!" Belle exclaimed.

"Uhhh..." Pilate stirred nervously. O.A.S.I.S. floated in front of him, performing a full scan. As it did so, the zebra's ears drooped. "Uhm...."

"Pilate?"

"I'll... I'll get back to you."

"Huh?"

"Be patient, beloved." With a hoof, he slapped the sphere back onto his neck choker. Pilate took several deep breaths. Finally, he leaned up, up, and up. With slow precision, he inched the pendant forward in a pair of shaking forelimbs. His hooves brushed against sharp bristles, moist feathers, and pointed talons. He gritted his teeth and stood up on his rear hooves. His panting reached a fever pitched as he bumped hooves with a pair of gnarled branches. With one hoof, he felt down the jagged stalks until he sensed a wooly skull, a long snout, and a fanged muzzle. Once his limbs had found a slender neck, he held his breath, plunged into the forest of sharp objects, and clasped the necklace swiftly around the throat.

Pilate fell back in a slump, hyperventilating, for a blast of warmth had instantly melted the aura of cold upon the pendant's application. He winced as a strong pulse of information was cycled from the dangling sphere and into his metal plate. The runes on his skull flickered in an alternating pattern as his ears filled with the sound of rattling, clattering objects.

"Pilate?" Belle murmured from the table. "Did you... is she...?"

"Don't m-move from the chair, Belle!" he exclaimed, his head tilted towards the sarcophagus. He listened as more and more things rattled against the sequencing room's floor. He felt what could best be described as a carpet of fuzz blanketing his lower legs, along with several plumes of stray feathers. Finall, there were two thuds, and one of the branches settled to a stop, its sharp ends poking against him.

With a gulp, Pilate stood back up. On wobbly legs, he shuffled once more towards the sarcophagus. He slipped once, cursing under his breath, but caught his balance. A fine layer of shed fur and fibrous hairs had blanketed the floor. When he reached the open locker, he felt the same warmth, only now it was resonating in a pulsing fashion. He reached up—pensively—and felt a lithe torso with a silky-smoothe coat. He brushed his hooves up the slender shoulders, neck, muzzle, and was greeted with a normal mane atop a decidedly normal scalp.

Daringly, the zebra stood up, hugged the body tightly, and gave it a major tug. He heard several snapping noises as the canvas harnesses anchoring the subject to the inside of the sarcophagus broke loose. He tumbled back, surprised at how light the body was. Pivoting, he managed a hoarse cry in Belle's direction. "Now, beloved! I got her!"

Belle didn't waste any time. She ripped the wires from her horn and jumped out of her chair. Galloping across the darkness, she knelt beside Pilate and felt along his body. The two blindly shared the weight of the equine figure and hobbled their way to the door. Once there, Belle slapped her hoof against the barricade three times.

"We have her! You can let us through now!"

A hum of mana resonated through the barrier, and a bright slit of light appeared, along with Grinder's straining face.

"Took you long enough! Slide on through!"

"You first, Pilate!"

"If you insist." Pilate fumbled through the tiny passageway. Grinder gave him a frustrated slap against his flank, and the zebra slid through, yelping.

Next was Belle's turn, and she did it with more or less grace, clutching the body to herself and gliding out on her spine. "Nnngh!"

"They're out!" Grinder hissed and jumped out of the doorway. Once more, the front end of the sequencing chamber echoed with thunder.

The noise blurred Belle's vision. She sat up, wincing as she cradled the petite body in her lap. She gazed down, and when the world refocused, it was full of color. All breath left her lungs. Belle blinked, and yet she didn't blink back.

Rainbow Dash's eyes were shut, and yet the lids kept fluttering, as if something was desperate to be born beneath the surface of her living exterior. And she was very much alive: her chest expanding and contracting, her tail flickering ever so slightly. There wasn't a part of her that somehow did not have an immaculate sheen, as if she was carved out of the very gemstones that had constructed the perfect pendant clinging to her neck. Her lips hung open, as if frozen in eternal speech, giving a plea to the fading lights of the world that Belle knew all too well.

"It's as I thought," Dalton said, leaning back from the console with a smile of relief. He wiped the sweat from his brow and uttered, "She is still unconscious. What mortal could have endured what she has and still come out of it in one piece?"

"Heh, some mortal," Grinder muttered, squinting. "A pony with wings. Never thought I'd see the day."

"How is she, Belle?" Pilate asked between steadying breaths. He slid over and sat at her side. "What does she look like?"

Belle gulped and stammered, "She's b-beautiful, Pilate." She smiled sweetly, her eyes moistening. "Smaller than I imagined, and yet like a piece of the sky that was carved out on a clear morning." She sniffled as she ran a hoof through her prismatic tresses, then gently coiled one of Rainbow's wings to her side in a motherly gesture. "I never thought I would be..." She winced slightly. "She... She never thought she'd be with friends again." Belle choked on a happy laugh as a tear rolled down her cheek. "But I think she is." She nodded. "I think she is."

Pilate leaned in and nuzzled Belle's cheek before leaning his muzzle on her shoulder. He said quietly but firmly, "Friends or not, we got her this far. It's now time that we got her out of here."

"Yes, I know." Belle took a deep breath and nuzzled him back. "I just wish she didn't have to come here under these circumstances... after having gone through so much..." Her moist eyes narrowed as she brushed a hoof across Rainbow's forehead, observing as two spots of blood disappeared. "The metal that encased her... it must have stabilized the chaos energy that infected her. That's how she recovered from all her wounds; the curse actually healed her from the wounds that Axan inflicted."

"Axan?" Dalton made a face.

"Who?" Grinder made an even uglier one.

"What did Shell want with her...?" Belle murmured. "It couldn't have just been for the door alone..."

"Belle, beloved," Pilate spoke softly, kissing her tenderly and speaking into her ear. "We have to get going."

"Yes." Belle nodded firmly. "Yes, we do. Grinder?" She looked at the ram.

He walked over and helped her with Rainbow Dash. The two hoisted the pegasus until she was lying, draped over Belle's spine. Belle stood up straight, surprised that she could even do so.

"By the Spark... she's so light..."

"Could be malnourishment," Dalton said.

"Could be that half of her is friggin' feathers," Grinder added. "Should we wait for the bird pony thingy to wake up?"

"No." Belle shook her head. "No more waiting. We go. Dalton, give Pilate a hoof. He's still having trouble with walking."

"Sure thing, darling."

"Grinder, you and your horns lead the way."

"Heh, yes ma'am."

"It's time we said good bye to Blue Shelf."

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