• 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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A Little Liberation

Chapter 30: A Little Liberation

It would only work once. If they failed, Celestia, Luna and the battle—if not the war—would almost certainly be lost. With few exceptions, entry into the palace by magical means, like teleportation, was strictly prohibited. In fact, the only two individuals who could do such a thing were, of course, the princesses themselves. However, that didn't mean that movement within the palace was restricted. The only place that couldn't be magically breeched in the palace's interior was the vault deep in its belly, protected with enchantments set by Celestia.

Thus it was Sparks' plan to have them all teleport to a location outside the bed chambers and near the entrance to the vault. As a unicorn, Sparks knew that such a spell required tremendous amounts of energy and the amount required increased with distance. Sparks didn't know how to do the spell himself, but the princesses did.

The unicorns of their personal guard—there were only four—would help provide the energy needed. Once the spell was cast, they would have to book it from where ever they ended up to the vault as fast as they could while still avoiding capture. Once inside, they should be safe for a while.

Right now, Sparks was going over the battle plan with the two RSTG recruits while the forces outside continued to break through the doors. They were close to succeeding. "Remember to keep your heads low and don't take unnecessary risks. We aren't wearing any body armor and they've got guns out there. Starlight, have you finished familiarizing yourself with that weapon?"

The unicorn levitated a .45 caliber submachine gun. Sparks had heard James call it a 'Tommy Gun' once. 'Tommy' was about to get a work out. "Should be all set to go, sir."

"Outstanding. Stalks, I want you to stick close and out of the way. You can't use projectile weapons, so do not engage unless they come to you."

"Sir, yes, sir."

"Ok, now keep in mind that we aren't going out there to fight. The objective is to reach our destination safely, not neutralize the threat inside the palace. Not yet." Sparks finished his briefing and went over to the princesses who were gathering their energy with the other unicorns for the spell. "Princesses Celestia and Luna, we're ready."

Celestia replied with obvious strain in her voice, "That's good to hear, Commander. Now, the volume of energy required to move all of us is absolutely enormous. That said, I can tell you that I can get us close to the vault entrance, but not in front of it."

"We'll make do with what we can. We always do." Sparks said reassuringly.

"I know, Commander. Thank you, you've always been reliable and an excellent Commanding Officer since James left."

"I strive for the best, ma'am."

Having gathered the required energy, Celestia and Luna were about to cast the spell. Their personal guards gathered in a tight group around them while Sparks and his two recruits got into ready positions next to them. With the will of the princesses, a swirling aura of golden light engulfed them. In a blinding flash, they were gone. Just three seconds later, the chamber doors came crashing down.

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"You know what you're doing now?"

"I— I guess." The unicorn replied with uncertainty.

James looked at the brown, burlap colored Corporal in the driver's seat of the armored vehicle from the small platform that bisected it, between the rows of seats, "We'll just have to run with that then, we're almost out of time."

"What do you want me to do again?"

"Like I said, Corporal Burl. I want you to drive straight at the camp there and swing around like you want to drive back out of town, but not until I stamp my foot three times." He held up three fingers to reinforce the idea. "Then when we pull out into the park; break, throw up a barrier that I can shoot out of with out getting shot and then duck and cover."

The Corporal took a deep breath, "All right, let's do this."

"I like the attitude." James commented, pulling himself up so he was standing halfway through the top hatch. He still didn't know who designed it, but it certainly had some heavy human military influence.

Corporal Burl started up the engine, but kept all the lights off just as he had been instructed. James noted that the whine of the engine seemed to be at a lower pitch, as if it was running out of power. He hoped that wasn't the case and moved to ready the weapon he'd mounted on the top hatch.

It was nothing big or too powerful. Just the M240B he'd found in Sparks' private little store room. James flipped open the top and fed a belt of the 7.62mm in, slammed it shut and cycled the charging lever with a satisfying chick-chack. All set, he pounded the roof and and his driver pulled away. He was a handling it a little skittishly at first, but evened out as he got the hang of it.

The main street of Ponyville loomed ahead and in short time, houses were already racing by them on either side. Some of the attackers from before spotted them and shouted alarm, but they continued to speed past. James flipped the safety and braced. This could be a rough ride.

The fighting vehicle tore into the main square and slid to a stop to the surprise of many of those camped out there. James surveyed the area before him and deep inside him, he was immensely content with what he saw. It was a target rich environment.

Rounds ripped through pony and Lotkin alike as he pulled the trigger and unleashed hell upon them all. One, two, three, four went down before any of them knew what was going on. A couple rounds smacked into the armor plating beneath James, tossing bullet fragments up into his face. He swiveled the gun and cut down a group of Lotkin that had opened up on him.

The belt of ammunition started flapping wildly on the side of the machine gun and James knew he was close to running out. Just as well, more of the warriors around him were bringing their firearms to bear. If they stuck around any longer, he'd be Swiss cheese.

James stomped his boot three times and was relieved when Corporal Burl, all too happy to be leaving, mashed on the throttle and peeled out of the town square. The vehicle sped away and to James' delight, the rest of the hostile fighters began to chase after. As they pulled off, he fired a few more bursts at their pursuers and then quickly reloaded, a difficult task as the vehicle bounced around.

Corporal Burl drove up into the park and stopped the vehicle at the top of a small rise, presenting an irresistible target. The enemies chasing them hadn't caught up yet, but James could see them sprinting towards them in the distance. A few of them took pot shots at him, the slugs pounded into the dirt around the vehicle.

James stuck his head down into the hatch, "Corporal, do it now!"

The unicorn didn't need to be told twice. He opened the door and hopped out, taking cover behind the big armored car. With a great deal of effort and concentration, he summoned the energy for the spell, horn glowing with power, and released it in a flash of light. In front of James, an opaque barrier appeared, shimmering softly in the moonlight.

James waited a little while the Lotkin and stallions that called themselves Renegades closed the gap, firing their weapons as they did so. A few bullets struck the barrier, which flashed and sparked with the impacts, but it held.

They closed in. James hoped the unicorn had done it right and the barrier was only one way. Then with a savagery he only recently had discovered, he let loose another torrent of withering fire from his mount, cutting down all before him. They fought back, but in vain, the barrier protected him. He slaughtered them with impunity, his face an emotionless mask.

Behind the Renegades, a furious cry rose up. A line of Royal Guard stallions galloped with weapons raised for battle. James stopped firing so as not to hit them. The Renegades turned about, those armed with firearms attempting to fire upon them, but to no avail. The Royal Guards charged into their ranks; cutting, slashing and stabbing the invaders until none were left standing.

The Royal Guards loosed a triumphant cry as they stood amongst their fallen captors and enemies. The sergeant who had taken charge sent a detachment back into town to round up any stragglers they might have missed. The guards that remained grouped together and rejoiced in their new freedom.

James didn't join them in their celebration. The fire inside him had no desire to. All it wanted was more blood. However, it would have to wait. Rushing into more fights would do him no good. So he pulled out his flask and took a swig, the liquor burning down his throat and the fire subsided to a dull simmer.

Down in the town, the residents were beginning to emerge, curious about all the noise and subsequent sudden silence followed by the cheering of the guards. The sergeant ordered his stallions to cordon off the main square and the hill in the park, protecting the townsfolk from the gruesome result of war until they cleared the bodies.

While they did that, James slid down into the driver's seat and started the engine back up, it definitely sounded like it was running out of juice now. He drove down into the town and took the road to the Cake's bakery. He was hungry after all the fighting and he was sure they wouldn't want the goods they'd left out to go to waste—he'd leave payment for them in the register anyway.

He was almost halfway there when there was a pounding on the driver's side door accompanied by angry yelling. James slowed to a stop and leaned out the window. What he saw was a very irate chestnut colored unicorn with an aquamarine blue-green mane and matching eyes.

"Hey, what're you doing with my Daisy?" She looked it over and gasped, "Are those bullet strikes!?" She yelled at him.

James took a look around the empty interior of the vehicle, confused, before answering her. "Sorry, no Daisy in here. Go home, it's safer there." He leaned back in and started to pull forward, but stopped when the mare ran out in front, blocking his way. He leaned back out, "Get out the way, I got shit to do!"

"Nuh-uh! I built Daisy with Topher for him and Jackson to use, you can't take her!" She protested loudly, starting to draw attention.

"Topher?" Something clicked in James' head. He didn't know this unicorn, but she claimed she had built the armored vehicle with Mayfield. That would explain the human dominated design, not to mention why the steering wheel was on the starboard side. He got an idea.

"You built it, huh? Tell you what; I'm gonna have to commandeer this for use by the RSTG. It's sounding a little sluggish. Fix it and I'll see you'rre reimbursed." He offered. He hated to have to take it from her, but he had a lot of traveling to do and he'd rather not walk if he could help it.

"No dice." Damn. He might have to do this by force. "I've got a counter offer. The engine runs off the same tech as the RSTG airships and it sounds like it's gettin' low on power. You want to use Daisy, I'm going with. I know what you're trying to do, Mr Demon of Everfree." Shit. There was the kicker. How did she know?

A crowd was starting to form around the strange sight and James wanted to move on before anyone else recognized him. "Fine, get in." He said reluctantly.

The unicorn smirked and went around to the passenger's side and hopped in the seat, slamming the door shut behind her. "My name's Quick Fix by the way. Most my friends just call me Q for short though."

"Q. No shit, how very James Bond-esque."

"Who's James Bond?" Quick Fix asked with apparent ignorance.

"He's a lot like Topher, except way classier." James joked as he pulled away.

"You know Topher?"

"Yeah. How did you know who I was?"

"Easy." Quick Fix said, eager to show off her intelligence. "There have only been three humans in Equestria—"

"Four. There've been four."

"Four? When did the fourth one get here?"

James looked at her with astonishment. How could she not know about that, the man that had launched a massive invasion against her country only four years prior? Did Celestia not tell her subjects? Maybe she had her reasons, but he didn't know them. "A long time ago." He answered, not wanting to reopen that can of worms just yet.

"Huh. So what's the plan?" Quick Fix asked.

James pulled up to Sugarcube Corner. "We're grabbing some food, making a pick up at an friend's place and then it's on to the next event. You're some kind of mechanic, right?"

"The absolute best!" She replied with obvious pride. "I can even make new parts on the spot."

James found that very interesting. She might turn out to be pretty useful. "Any experience with combat? This might get dangerous." He warned.

"No, not really. But I was trying to join the Night Mares anyway. Honesty though, this RSTG stuff looks like it's gonna be a lot more interesting."

They arrived at the bake shop and began loading up all the stuff left in the display case. Hardly a balanced meal, but you made do with what was on hand in these situations. James could supplement his meals with whatever he found on the way anyhow. Before they left, James left a bag of bits in the register containing an amount that he was sure would cover what they took.

From there, they took the road back out of town. They were just about to clear the main street when a small squad from the Royal Guard moved in and blocked their path. James narrowed his eyes as he watched the sergeant from earlier trot up to the driver's side.

"Hey, just wanted to thank you for your help. I didn't know how much more we could've taken in that cage."

"No problem." James replied. Then he thought of a question, "Sergeant, you know exactly what's going on, if anywhere else has been hit?"

"Yeah, we got a messenger almost right before the attack, flew all the way from Canterlot. Seems like they got hit pretty hard, so did everything else from here on to the north. Can't say for the southern towns though, no word."

"Is the messenger still here, can I speak to him?"

The sergeant shifted uncomfortably. "Well, uh. I'm sorry, but he really didn't make it. He was already pretty badly wounded when he arrived."

James sighed, "Ok, thanks."

He was about to take off again when the sergeant stopped him a second time, "Wait, I just want to know, who are you? What you just did for us deserves a positive report."

James looked at him, then started to pull off, "I'm just a ghost, don't worry about it." He said dismissively before driving off past the squad of guards. As he pulled away he heard the sergeant shout, "Be careful if you're leaving, theres more of 'em running around the country side!"

They drove off back to Sparks' place of residence. He had room in the back of the vehicle he was driving, why not fill it up? James' thoughts flicked to the weapons stored there and what he might need, then to his old weapon, his pistol. He actually missed it, the piece of hardware had been with him through a lot of shit over the years. An idea came to mind.

"Quick Fix."

"Yeah?"

"Are you any good a fabrication?"

The look on her face was one of vexation, "Really? That's, like, only my friggin' specialty."

"Is it?"

"Uh, yeah! Check it out. You get me a design and the raw materials, I'll make you the parts you want almost instantly."

"Instantly? How do you pull that off?" It was a legitimate question, but it came out as skepticism.

Quick Fix brushed aside her mane and tapped the horn protruding from her forehead, "Magic, duh."

James pulled the vehicle up to Sparks' place and went back into the small armory. He found a few duffle bags and started loading them up with ammunition, boxes and boxes of it. The bags were extremely heavy, but with his strength, getting them into the flat bed of the vehicle's trunk wasn't a problem. He went back inside and retrieved a few more firearms; some pistols and a few rifles, even a little submachine gun he found in a trunk. Then he grabbed some paper and a pen and got to drawing.

He remembered his old sidearm, he hoped Sparks still had it. But now it was time for a new weapon. He'd design it and Quick Fix would help him make it. It would be a weapon to see this war through. It would be a weapon to deal a deathly blow to his enemies. It would be a weapon to finally end the pain.

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Mayfield was crouched behind a stack of crates, trying to keep out of sight. Not all that hard considering it was late afternoon and the sun still had yet to rise at all. He was scouting the market and it wasn't looking good. The attackers had decided to dig in there. Not just as an occupation of space, but also into the food that the merchants had left out as they fled.

Lotkin and pony alike sat around fires built from the splintered remains of some of the stands, chewing on watermelon, apples and whatever else happened to be available. Problem was, they were absolutely everywhere. It seemed to be the main encampment.

With quiet steps, he backtracked to where the rest of his team was waiting, down a rather putrid alley that smelled as if it were the local garbage dump. Whirl spotted him and waved him over. Quickly, Mayfield ducked into the small garage they had temporarily holed up in. Jackson was there waiting for his report.

"How's it look?"

"Bad."

"How bad?" Jackson asked.

Mayfield considered how to put it, then decided simplicity was best, "Well, the docks aren't too far off and the boats look mostly untouched. That said, the market's full of the buggers, patrols are heavy all down the coast and we're strapped for ammo and manpower. Simply; we're fucked."

"That's no good. So what you thinkin'?"

"Distraction maybe? I dunno, but we need to clear the area out if we wanna get through there alive."

"I might have a solution." Cray put in.

"Yeah, what's that?" Jackson was intrigued.

Cray went and got his kit bag, bringing it back to both Jackson and Mayfield and zipping it open. "This city is newer than most of the others, but it's still old. The market is particularly dated, going back a few hundred years. Also, because of its high amount of traffic, it had to have a good sewer system running underneath." He reached into his bag and pulled out a few bundles of high explosive grenades.

"Now that's cookin' with fire, where'd you get those?"

"I pulled them from the vault when I got a small tour and slipped them into my locker. Put 'em in my bag before rolling out here."

"You know you could really get into trouble for that." Redflare pointed out.

"Doesn't matter now." Mayfield said. "So kid, what do you want to do with those?"

"Easy, install them in the sewer, blow it and collapse the market. Then we slip around in the chaos."

Mayfield laughed and turned to Jackson, "Y'know, I think I actually like 'im."

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