• Published 2nd Jan 2013
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Slipping Through A Sideways Door - hornethead



A man accidently follows his friend, who was believed to be dead, to a strange and colorful land mired in conflict.

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In Exchange For Services

Chapter 13: In Exchange For Services

Jackson wasn't able to start his hunt when he wanted to. Then next day, Flash announced to him and Mayfield that they'd been called back to Canterlot for an Op. They all left only a few hours later, this time taking the train instead of flying there. Flash assured them that it would only take a couple of hours longer and it would give them time to sleep before they went to work. Apparently, they would be leaving again shortly after arriving in the capitol city.

The train ride was pleasant, but as soon as they arrived, a squad of guards received them at the station and immediately ushered them into a carriage to be whisked away up to the palace. Whatever they were needed for, it must have been urgent.

On arrival at the palace itself, a pair of RSTG members escorted them to a windowless room on one of the upper floors. Waiting for them there was Princess Luna. In shadow of a corner behind her, a strange silhouette leaned against the wall. Jackson didn't like being rushed into situations like this, it usually meant he was about to be asked to do something he really wouldn't enjoy.

As soon as they filed in and the doors closed, Luna started speaking, "You're all here, wonderful."

"Yes ma'am, what can we do for you?" Flash replied.

"Ah, your eagerness heartens me. I have received more information on the activities of our enemies and needless to say, in order to continue, certain skills are needed. Skills that are unfortunately in short supply among our own." She explained.

"What exactly do you need us to do?" Jackson asked bluntly.

"A simple snatch job really, but it requires a certain level of. . . stealth and finesse."

"That all?" Mayfield grinned, "I don't know if you know, but that's kind of our thing."

"Yes, but this requires a bit more than simple recon. We need full access. Unfortunately, it will come at a price." Luna looked over her shoulder to the corner, "Miss Paws, if you will?"

The shape in the corner glided forward, shadow sliding off it like a satin veil. A Diamond Dog emerged, stepping purposefully up to the table. Gray fur covered her body, except where it was hidden by a loose fitting shirt and shorts. A single white spot surrounded her eye which was an icy blue, different from the other that was a rich brown. The only other noticeable attribute was a pair of black tipped ears.

Upon seeing her, Flash immediately stiffened, "Miss Paws? You don't mean Miss Paws as in Swift Paws, do you? She's a wanted criminal!"

"Criminal." The Diamond Dog spat in a husky voice. "Nothing is criminal about surviving."


Luna cleared her throat, "Miss Paws has actually been helping us for quite some time now, passing on information she has come across in her. . . profession. She has agreed to lend us her expertise full time for something in return."

Flash narrowed his eyes, "That being?"

"Freedom." Swift Paws said without prompting. "Freedom from the scum which even now oppresses my clan."

"Miss Paws' family currently resides in Manehatten." Luna filled in for her. "As you well know, Lieutenant Commander, even with the best efforts of the Royal Guard Corps., crime is still very hard to combat, especially organized crime. A certain syndicate based in Manehatten is particularly difficult to deal with."

"So in exchange for us getting rid of them, she'll 'help' us?" Flash guessed.

"Precisely." Luna answered. "What do you say?"

Flash thought about it for a moment. He was adverse to associating with any kind of criminal, no matter what the reason. Thoughts of a lost friend who had suffered under the yoke of a gang of thugs buzzed through his mind, he didn't know if this Diamond Dog was any different. After some consideration, he opened his mouth to voice his decision, but someone else beat him to it.

"Well, I don't know about Flashy here, but a nice trip to the city is too good to pass up. I'm game." Mayfield said enthusiastically. "When do we leave?"

==============================================================



Mayfield walked calmly along the street in his best civilian clothing, occasionally checking his wrist watch. It should happen anytime now, he'd done enough to draw the necessary attention, though it hadn't been easy. A conventional approach produced only marginal results at best, so now they were improvising.

Info on the gang they had targeted was a lot harder to come by than they had anticipated. They kept almost no records of their business and left barely any evidence of their crimes behind. True professionals that demanded a modicum of respect by his standards. Still, their activities were very distasteful, ranging from extortion to the occasional firebombing. He'd be glad to rid the streets of these scum bags.

Because of their elusive nature, Mayfield had had to resort to more blunt tactics. He'd gone around to any business or area in the secluded borough suspected of even the tiniest affiliation with his target and did the stupidest thing any investigator with half a mind could have done. He'd gone and openly asked a ton of detailed and intrusive questions. Surely his nosiness would catch the wrong kind of attention.

Suddenly, he was aware of a couple of the ponies that made up the usual traffic in the crowded street were following him a little more closely than he felt comfortable. Mayfield checked his watch again, so far everything was going as expected. Moving on with the next part of the plan, he made another stupid mistake, he suddenly turned into a deserted alley, obviously attempting to lose his followers in some manner.

He smiled when he only made it about half way down when the end of the passage was suddenly blocked by a pair of large earth stallions. Glancing over his shoulder, he saw that his followers were now blocking the only other way out, back into the street, putting him between a rock and a hard place. He turned back to the earth stallions with a grin, they were now much closer than before.

This was certainly not the best situation to be in, but the human felt that everything would be all right. After all, everything was going as planned so far. Unfortunately, the next thing he felt was a sharp pain on the back of his head as something solid impacted it with great force.

==============================================================



Mayfield came to sometime later, how much later he wasn't sure. When he opened his eyes, he found his vision obscured by a rough cloth sack, burlap, he guessed. He knew he was in a chair, as he was sitting upright with his feet solidly on the ground. He tried to move his arms, only to find that they were securely fastened behind his back.

"Hey, he's awake, I saw him move." Said an unfamiliar voice from off to the side.

"Finally, I was starting to get bored!" Said another.

The sack over Mayfield's head was pulled roughly away, revealing a dim, cramped room. He didn't know where he was, the only windows were boarded up. In front of him stood one of the stallions from before, his face held a dull expression. To his right, a unicorn circled around from the rear.

"Good to see you're finally up." The unicorn started. "You're a human, right? Now what is one of your kind doing here so far away from home I wonder."

"Dunno, mate, I'm just a lost tourist." Mayfield replied calmly.

"Tourist!" The unicorn laughed haughtily. "Tourist my flank! Not with the kinds of questions you've been asking. You know, it's very dangerous for your health, what you've been doing."

"I don't know nothing about no questions. Just got a bit lost is all."

"Sure ya did, pal. And my grandmother was a griffon. Why don't you tell me why you're really here? I promise it'll be a lot less painful."

"Honestly, I haven't the slightest."

"Ok then," the unicorn shrugged, "if that's the way you wanna go." He nodded to the large earth stallion.

The stallion walked up and with a smile struck Mayfield hard across the jaw. The human reeled back from the hit, but remained silent.

The unicorn shook his head. "Come on, pal. Nopony asks those kinds of questions without some kind of agenda. Who are you working for, the Guard?"

"I already told you, I was just sightseeing."

"Fine, if this is the way you wanna go. . ." The unicorn shrugged, "give him another one, Barney."

The stallion drew back a foreleg and struck Mayfield on the other side of his face. However, Mayfield just spit out a glob of blood onto the cold concrete that made up the floor, "Who taught you how to punch, your husband?" he said mockingly to his attacker. Angrily, the stallion added a few more strikes, finishing with a punch to the gut for good measure.

"Tsk, tsk, tsk. . ." The unicorn said, "Barney don't take to kindly to that kinda talk. Why don't you just make this easy for the both of us and just come clean?"

"Sorry, but I really don't have anythin' to come clean about."

"Ok then," the unicorn sighed, "have it your way. Barney?"

Mayfield braced as the stallion gave him a few more hits before backing off again.

"You're really making this too hard on yourself. I just need a few bits of information and then maybe we'll let you go." The unicorn offered.

"How about these words? Jog off, ya big fat cunt!"

The unicorn sighed, "You might wanna reconsider your tone, buddy. Otherwise you might end up in a dumpster. Barney, hit him again." He said with boredom.

The earth stallion again began delivering blows, the expression on his face belying the enjoyment he was getting from beating up an opponent that couldn't fight back. The expression changed to a confused one when Mayfield's reaction was to laugh, spittle mixed with blood flying from his mouth, "Then you'd better just kill me!"

"Oh darn," the unicorn said almost forlornly, "I was hoping this wouldn't have to get any messier, but you give me no choice. Anything else to say, while you can still talk?"

Mayfield noticed a shadow flicker in the thin beams of light that struggled passed the boards on one of the windows, "Yeah, just one thing, mate. Could you just take a peek outside there, tell me what you see?"

"Oh I suppose, seeing as it is very likely your last request." The unicorn said while rolling his eyes. The unicorn trotted over to the window like he was doing the human a huge favor. He peered through one of the tiny cracks between the boards, "Hm, it's really nice and sunny out. Shame you won't get to—"

The unicorn was abruptly interrupted as a large metal ram smashed through the wood and into the pony's face. It was immediately followed by a huge muscled man who swung down into the room from above. The large earth stallion flinched and covered his face at the sudden intrusion, but quickly rallied himself and charged the intruder.

The large man calmly raised an M9 equipped with a suppressor and fired three rounds into the charging stallion's chest. Fortunately for the attacker, instead of a spray of blood, his hide just rippled as he was struck by rubber bullets. He fell to the floor in agony where the man quickly put him in restraints. The man repeated the action with the unicorn, except he also injected him with a drug that would prevent the use of any magic. Once he was finished, he strode over to Mayfield and sliced off his restraints with a knife.

"'Bout damn time you finally showed up Jackie Boy." Mayfield said, rubbing his sore wrists.

"Hey, just be glad that little beacon they gave you worked." Jackson chuckled lightly.

"You got my gear, mate?"

"Right here," Jackson took a small pack off his shoulders and tossed it over to Mayfield who caught it and opened it up. He pulled out his pistol and web belt with ammo, along with a headset radio and an armored vest. "Careful with that vest, man, it's stab proof, but the only pistol round it'll stop is a .22."

"S'ok, we're just dealing with wannabe mafia punks." Mayfield said, donning the equipment.

On the floor by the smashed in window, the unicorn spat out some teeth, "Wha th', wha th' hay ith happenthing!?" He shouted past a broken mouth.

Looked up at the unicorn as he loaded his weapon, "Sorry about the face, but y' really should be nicer to your guests."

"You- you thson of a bucking nag!" The unicorn squinted his eyes and strained, a faint aura around his horn pitifully flickering, but ultimately failing.

Jackson laughed, "Yeah, keep tryin' buddy, you almost got it! Naw man, you shit outta luck." He keyed his own headset, "Flash, I'm in on the south side, sixth floor. Two charlies down and restrained and the rabbit's got his teeth back."

"Sounds great, shock and awe settin' up at the back door, on your go."

Jackson turned to his partner, who was finishing up threading a suppressor onto his own pistol, "You good to go?" He asked, eyeing the blood trickling out of the corner of his mouth.

"No worries, little twig bastard can't throw a proper punch. Let's get this shit done so we can get back to our real job. We leavin' these two wankers here?"

Jackson looked at the two ponies lying on the ground, their legs all tied up. The unicorn was still struggling to cast some kind of spell, but the drug wouldn't wear off for hours. The earth stallion was wheezing on the ground, gasping for a full breath after being struck in the chest with non-lethals. "They ain't going anywhere."

With a nod, the two humans readied their weapons and went to a door in the corner of the room. It opened into poorly lit hallway with peeling paint and a musty smell. It was hard to believe that given the reputation of this gang that their headquarters would be so abysmal. The fact that they'd taken a prisoner of unknown abilities and connections straight to their base of operations for questioning showed just how rookie they really were.

The two humans stalked the building finding a lot of empty rooms on the level they were at. So they descended at a set of stairs they found, poking their heads into the hallways at each floor, listening for activity. On the second, they hit the jackpot, it was bustling with activity. They waited until the hallway cleared for a moment, then moved across to a room. They surprised a trio of stallions inside, a pegasus and two unicorns, counting money at a table.

The ponies didn't have much time to react, Jackson closed the door behind him while Mayfield pumped a couple of rounds into each of their chests, knocking them to the floor before they could utter a word. The two men swiftly moved to restrain and gag the ponies before they could raise the alarm. The pegasus was especially troublesome as he kept flapping his wings wildly while they tried to tie them down.

Once finished, Jackson went back to his headset, "Flash, we're now on the second floor. We're in one of the rooms across from the stairs, three more charlies down. The second floor seems to hold most of their operation."

"You want us to help clear it out?"

"Please."

"Wait one. . ."

Jackson and Mayfield waited calmly while the other team got ready. The three stallions writhed against their restraints in the corner, but to no avail. Finally, the building shook, followed by the bang of a controlled explosion. The entire structure went silent as all activity within stopped dead. Then all at once there was a flurry of hooves on cement floors as the gang members rushed out to combat whatever threat they were faced with. Gunshots soon followed as fighting broke out.

Mayfield gave Jackson one look, then together they burst into the hall, pistols up. There were only a few ponies left, stragglers that were slow to get to the action. The humans made short work of them, dropping them with non-lethals and then restraining them. Then it was a simple matter of clearing the rooms and repeating the process with all that they found.

The building shook again as yet another assault team blasted their way in from the roof, they would work their way down and take out any hostiles still hiding out above. finishing with their own specific task, the humans moved to head down the stairs and catch the main force of the gang from behind. When they reached the door to the first floor, Jackson stopped, hearing a sound he didn't like, the sound of a weapon he knew none of the teams were using.

"You hear that," he asked Mayfield, "what does that sound like to you?"

Mayfield listened, filtering through the chaos on the other side of the door, "Sounds like a large calibre pistol. Shit, we didn't here nothin' about them having guns."

"Yeah, try not to get shot. On three. . ."

"Fuck that, three!"

Mayfield kicked the door open, Jackson shook his head and followed. The other side was pure pandemonium. The main floor was divided into two levels. A lower level opened out to the street, a wave of Guards mixed with RSTG members poured in from a back entrance somewhere, engaging the gang members in hoof to hoof combat. Above them, where the two men had come out to, was a mezzanine. Along the balcony in front of them was a squad of unicorns firing spells into the crowd below, hitting their own as well as the Guards. At the end was another unicorn, this one firing a snub nosed .44 magnum.

The two operatives immediately got to it, and even though they were using non-lethal rounds, their superb aim dropped each of the unicorns to the ground, effectively stunning them. The one with the pistol noticed it happening from the corner of his eye and wheeled around, discharging his weapon haphazardly. Mayfield's shoulder suddenly blew back, Jackson cursed and ducked around a corner, trying to drag his partner with him.

Mayfield shoved him away though and got back up, firing one handed with his good arm and striding angrily forward, cursing all the way, "You fucking cunt! Goddamn buggerer of boys, you bloody twat, I'll turn your arse into glue!"

The room suddenly went silent and Jackson wasted no time in restraining the unicorns and administering the drug. Down below, the tide had turned when the spells stopped showering down from above, allowing the Guards to over power the gang members and clap them in irons. Jackson ran over to his partner, who was standing over the twitching body of the unicorn that shot him, blood already soaked his right side, running down the now useless arm and dripping onto the floor.

The unicorn was much worse off. The Englishman may have only been using rubber bullets, but they could still cause a lot of painful and irreversible damage if they struck the right places. Jackson looked at the injured pony and saw that one of his eyes had been shot out, the orb reduced to a pulped mess. He picked up the pistol and examined it. It looked new and un-used, like the owner had fired it for the first time today. He took out the remaining rounds and pocketed everything for the Intel guys to look at later.

Then he went to check on Mayfield. "Hey man, you all right? That shoulder looks pretty nasty."

"I'll be fine, it was a through and through."

"Yeah, though your collar bone, brother. You need to get that looked at, c'mon."

Jackson led Mayfield down to the street level floor where the Guard was busy leading trussed up gang members outside to waiting jail carts. Flash was down there as well, talking to Swift Paws the Diamond Dog who had insisted on coming along on the operation, even if it was just to watch. Jackson passed a begrudging Mayfield off to a medic and went over to the RSTG officer.

". . . Yes, I am most pleased. These scum may have been but a trifle to the city, but to my clan they were a torture. Now they may peacefully live."

"And you'll be applying your skills for us then?"

"Yes, all. There is no more need to steal for my clan now that they can live for themselves."

"Good."

"Hey Flash!" Jackson called out.

The pegasus turned around, "Yes, what is it?"

Jackson pulled out the snub nose and showed it to him, "We got a problem. Pulled this off one of the gangbangers. Looks new."

"Horseapples, that will complicate things. Oh well. Thanks for the help there and Topher did an absolutely excellent job as bait. Now we can move on to the next part."

"What's the next part?"

"Now with Swift Paws' help, Princess Luna has given me the info on our next Op. It'll take some time though, so we're getting a few days rest."

"Good." Jackson said. "Mayfield's gonna need it, he took one to the shoulder."

Flash cursed, "Ugh, I'll notify the healers to give him extra attention. I need you both in your prime, you guys got some swimming to do."

Author's Note:

OC Swift Paws created by: Danish Adonis

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