• Published 2nd Jan 2013
  • 4,835 Views, 741 Comments

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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4: Escape

Chapter 4: Escape

Jackson floated there stewing in his own anger. He didn't know what was going on, but everything was out of whack. He didn't know how he was being suspended above the floor, maybe some kind of wire system. And these guards, they were ponies, ponies, of all things! It was a situation he wasn't sure how to handle, but he knew one thing, he had to get out of there. Mayfield was still out there. He need to meet up with him and find a way back to base.

Something still bothered him though. The pony, the one with the horn, a unicorn, if that was what it really was, had asked about Kaughn. How the hell would it know about him? He was sure they had taken the photo from his pocket, but he hadn't written any names down on it. Besides, there were five of them in that photo, so even if they knew that he'd known Kaughn, they'd still have to know what he looked like. Whatever was going on, he was gonna try to get some answers before he escaped.

The door across from him opened again, hinges squeaking. The horned pony, the unicorn, from before entered and shut the door behind him. Jackson and the unicorn stared at each other. Each wary of the other. Finally, Jackson spoke.

"So you guys lettin' me go, or not?"

"I don't know. Do you intend to bring harm to our country, or not?" The unicorn replied.

"Motherfucker, I don't even know where I am! But apparently, this ain't Earth, seeing as how I'm suddenly surrounded by a bunch of talking ponies."

"I'll tell you where you are, but I need you to tell me something."

"How about you tell me something," Jackson countered, "how the fuck do you know Kaughn?"

The unicorn stared at him for a moment, not moving or even seeming to breathe. Then, "Ok. I'll tell you."

"Just like that?" Jackson asked skeptically.

"Just like that. James came to us almost three years ago. Nopony is entirely sure how he got here or where he came from."

"Hold up, hold up. Three years ago? Naw, that's some bullshit, he's been missing for almost seven years!"

"Seven? Hm... interesting. Anyway, after he spent some time acclimating and adjusting to the new culture and environment here, our ruler, Princess Celestia, enlisted him in her service to help combat a new threat to our land. A threat that wasn't fully realized until it was almost too late. She commissioned him to train some of her guards for a special task force. I was one of those he hand picked."

"That's a pretty good story. How long it take you to come up with that?" Jackson mocked.

"Ok. How about this then?"

The unicorn flared his magic, his horn taking on a wavering light blue aura. A similar aura appeared on an holster strapped to his side. Jackson watched with baffled interest as a pistol was pulled from the holster and made to float in front of his face. At first he thought nothing of it, maybe an intimidation tactic. But then he took a closer look at the weapon in front of him. All the scratches, the lines of wear on it, the style of the grip and the knock off brand model. It was an old M1911, one he had seen many times before.

"Where the hell did you get this?" Jackson asked with astonishment.

"He gave it to me. It was the last time I saw him. It was about two years ago." The unicorn explained.

"Who, Kaughn?"

"The very same."

"So he gave you his favorite weapon, just like that? Who the hell are you?"

"Well, he didn't just give it to me. It was more like a loan, I needed a sidearm and he gave me his. I was going to give it back to him, but I never saw him again."

"What do you mean you never saw him again?" Jackson asked, eyes narrowing.

"It's kind of a long story. You might not like it."

"Tell me."

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



Celestia lay resting on her bed, forelegs tucked comfortably under her, a relaxing book levitating in front of her by the warm golden glow of her magic. It had been a frustrating day and she needed all the recreation and rest she could get, even if for only a few hours before she had to sleep, wake up and do it all over again.

There was a soft knock at her chamber door.

"Who is it?" She asked without looking up from her book.

"Tia, it's me." Came the voice of her younger sister from the other side, "Are you busy?"

Celestia sighed. All she wanted to do was relax and forget about here day, if even for a moment. But it was her little sister and she would always have time for her, "Come in, Luna." She beckoned, placing her book to the side for now.

The chamber door swung open, admitting the moonlight princess into the bedroom before swinging shut again. She looked quite troubled, even though she had only been on her shift for a few hours now.

"What is it, Luna?" Celestia asked. "You look worried about something."

"It's the human Flash and his team captured. He isn't being very co-operative. He's very coarse, even insulting!" She complained.

"Now Luna, you knew what you were asking when you requested to take control of the RSTG and their activities." Celestia chided.

"I know, sister, I just wanted to take some of the weight off your back. You already do so much, especially with the tribes to deal with now."

"Oh yes, the tribes..." Celestia said with exhaustion.

"You had a meeting with their counsel today, how did that go?" Luna asked her sister.

"The same bickering as before. All of them want more land to stage their conquests against one another on, but there isn't any more I can give them. And on top of all that, the Renegade tribe is causing trouble for both us and them. I wish sometimes that we had not lost James. He might know a solution. His peoples' cultures and that of the Lotkin had many parallels."

"Hm hm, maybe he would knock a few heads together." Luna giggled.

"Hm, yes, that I'm sure he would." Celestia agreed

"As it so happens, we may have a solution, Tia." Luna offered.

"Really? How so?"

"The human we have in custody. It seems he might have been a friend of his."

"Is that so?" Celestia asked with interest.

"Yes."

"A Solution this may be indeed."

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



Jackson sat at a table now. Still in the same room, but as less of a prisoner. Even the guards that had been resolutely standing inside the cell on watch had been dismissed. Across from him was the unicorn he now knew was named Sparks. A Commander and the Director of the Royal Special Tasks Group. A special operations organization that was apparently founded, trained and run by his former teammate. Jackson had to admit that it was a lot to take in and he wasn't sure he even believed all of it.

"So this is where he's been, huh? 'Equestria', you called it."

"Correct." Sparks replied.

"So where is he now?"

"We don't know." The unicorn shrugged.

"What do you mean 'you don't know'? He was here, right? Where'd he go?" Jackson asked, getting angry again.

"There was another human. John Kraster. He organized an invasion force with the intention of taking over the country. Thanks to your friend, he was stopped, but in the process, we lost him."

"How?"

"He and another member of our team assaulted a flying fortress, a bomber Kraster's forces constructed to destroy us. They succeeded in destroying it. While they were still on board. Kraster was confirmed dead after we sifted through the wreckage looking for your friend, but as for James himself, he was never found." Sparks finished explaining.

"So he's still out there. He has to be."

"Well we just don't know that. We never found a body and it's been so long."

"Yeah, he pulled the same shit on us, but he was here instead. He's got to be alive." Jackson said stubbornly.

"*sigh*, I really hope so. He was a good friend to me, too."

"So we find him."

"It's not that easy."

"Bullshit, it ain't that easy. You get a team, we go out there, and we find him." Jackson told the unicorn, his voice rising, "If you were such a good friend, you'd do that."

"You don't think we've tried!?" Sparks replied, his temper now raising as well, "We searched for months out there, the sea, the mountains, the cities, we couldn't find a damn thing!"

"Well I've been searching for years!" Jackson shouted back, "I traveled all over the place, visiting all sorts of hellholes just hoping I'd find something, ANYTHING, that would tell me that my best friend, my brother, was still alive somewhere! And now I get to this fucked up little reality and find out he was here, only for you to tell me to give up, he's gone? Nuh-uh, no. You said you didn't find a body, well neither did we and looked how that turned out. He's still here, and I'm gonna find him." Jackson finished with fiery determination.

"Oh? And what do you suggest we do? We've tried everything." Sparks scoffed.

"Think about it, were you his only friend here?"

"Of course not! There was Flash, Garth, Myst... Feather.... Alister," Sparks listed, his voice taking a somber tone at the last two, "and don't even get me started on Ponyville, that whole town was friendly with him. Ms. Sparkle and her friends were even the first ones to...." Sparks drifted off, his eyes going blank as something connected in his mind.

"What, what is it?" Jackson asked, noticing the unicorn's blank expression.

"The girls..."

"The girls? What girls?"

"Nothing!" Sparks exclaimed, quickly getting up from his seat and making for the door. "I have to go check on something. Be good and we'll let you out, see if we can send you back home somehow, bye!" He quickly spit out.

"Naw, you don't just say something like that and leave, come back here! Sparks! Sparks!" Jackson shouted after him, but it was for naught.

Sparks exited the room and slammed the door shut behind him, the locks clicking back in place. Jackson sat there, dumbfounded at the sudden turn of events.

"Fuck this shit, I'm gettin' outta here."

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



Luna walked down the corridor with renewed purpose. She had another task to complete. If they didn't have James, the first human to have helped them out and rallied the fighting spirit of Equestria for its defense, maybe they could have the next best thing; one of his friends. All she had to do was talk to the man and persuade him to work for the court, like his friend did before. If everything went well, her sister might even trust her with more tasks, like helping with the squabble of politics among the world's nations and crushing the Renegade Tribe that still threatened the stability and well being of their subjects.

The thought of finally being included in the rule and workings of her country for so long put a little extra pep in her step. She felt lively and content, like the light of the stars were shining through her and nothing could stop her. As she neared the corner she would turn to reach the derelict passage that led down to the depths of the castle, the frantic sound of hooves rapidly galloping across the stone floor reached her ears.

A second later, a unicorn stallion with a silvery coat that held a natural sheen came barreling around the corner. Luna recognized him as one of Lieutenant Commander Flash's subordinates, a member of his team. His name was Sylver Lyne, she recalled His gray eyes were wide and his breath came ragged. The unicorn spotted the princess and tried to stop, hooves sliding across the floor.

"Your Majesty!" He cried through pants of breath. "We have a problem!"

"What is it?" Luna asked, a patch of coldness growing in her chest.

"It's the human, he escaped!"

The cold patch in Luna's chest suddenly solidified into a solid lump and dropped to her gut.

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



Jackson darted through the passageways of the palace he found himself in, dodging staff and guard alike, all of them ponies. The whole experience was still threatening to fry his brain, but he needed to stay focused. Getting out was easy enough. He smashed the table in his cell and salvaged a strip of metal from it. Then he used the strip to pry off the back plate of one of the locks on the door and knocked it out of the frame. The hard part was when the guards stationed outside his cell noticed this happening and like the good sentries they were, attempted to put a stop to it via barging in and kicking his ass.

Fortunately, they weren't entirely aware of exactly who they were fucking with. As soon as one of them dropped their guard, Jackson seized the opportunity took them by surprise. After everything was said and done, Jackson was leaving the room alone, two unconscious guards on the floor behind him.

Now all he had to do was escape the palace while remaining undetected, figure just where he was at in relation to where he was picked up somehow and then find Mayfield, where ever he was. It certainly was a daunting to-do list, but he didn't see any other options. At the moment, he was slinking down a wide hall way with a tall ceiling. One side was covered with a row of ornate windows, the other was lined with tall arches that led out into a moon lit garden.

From the intersecting passage down the way, Jackson heard the sound of hooves. Thinking quick, he ducked through an arch and dashed out into the garden. As fast as he could without making noise, he entered the brush and trees, threading his way through to the other side. After going some distance, he abruptly hit a wall. The wall was about ten feet tall and extremely well made, he couldn't spot any hand holds or cracks he could use to scale it. The landscaping need a little work, though, a little further down he saw the limb of a tree that extended from the trunk planted in the garden over the wall that he needed to get by.

Treading softly to the tree, Jackson jumped up to a low branch, gripping it with his powerful hands. He pulled himself up and balanced out onto the limb, being careful not to fall until he was at least over the wall. He made it across and looked past the wall, cursing at what he saw. The wall ended and the top of a short, but steep and rocky slope began. Gingerly, he lowered himself down onto the wall and then onto the beginning of the slope from there. Then with as much grace as he could muster, Jackson descended the treacherous rocky slope as quietly as he could.

With some luck and a little flourish, Jackson reached the bottom intact and undiscovered. He looked around to make sure nobody was around and continued on to his next obstacle. Before him now was another, larger, garden. Part of it veered off and appeared to turn into some kind of hedge maze, the other way had less cover and sported a variety of statues rising from the ground among the grass and brush. Jackson didn't have time to get lost in a maze, so he went the route of the statues.

Passing through medley of chiseled stone structures, Jackson couldn't help but to look at a few of them as he snuck by. Some were pretty straight forward, like the one with a pony standing triumphantly atop a hill aside a flag with three diamonds. Others went beyond his scope of understanding, the one that appeared to be a mix-match potpourri of several different animals especially threw him off. One in particular, however, caught his attention and forced him to pause in his flight.

It was a wide pedestal with a few different figures on it. Firstly, there were three different ponies; horned, winged and normal, all standing stoutly and armed in grim resolve. Next to them to their left was a gnarled looking creature, similar to the one Jackson and Mayfield had run into and fought upon arrival in this strange land, and a griffon. There was one more part to this statue, one that caught Jackson's attention most of all.

To the right side of the group was a faceless two legged figure that was clearly a man. He was armed with a marksman rifle and a long wicked knife strapped to his vest. The figure share almost all the same features as the rest, from the uniform they wore down to the defensive pose they held, except for one detail. Around the man's neck hung a bright silver-white medal. It rested on his chest just below the neck and was in the shape of an eight point star, four of the eight points half as long as the others, like a compass. The medal was not chiseled from stone, but a military decoration that had been placed around the man's neck after the statue's completion. Jackson stared at it for a awhile, his mind focused on nothing else but that stone formation and the story he had been told about his friend and former teammate.

"It was his, you know..." a wise motherly voice commented.

Jackson spun around at the comment, hands flying up into a defensive pose, body adopting a combat posture. Instead of an attacker he was met with another pony. This one was the same as the midnight blue one that had interrogated him earlier, except she was larger with a white coat and her hair was streaked with three different flowing pastel colors.

"Sorry, but I ain't going back to that little incarceration operation you got goin' on back there. I don't wanna hurt none of ya, so please just back off and let me go." Jackson warned.

"I'm sure it won't come to that," the large pony said, "but while we're out here, wouldn't you like to know a little more about your friend?" She asked.

"My friend? You mean Kaughn?" Jackson asked with curiosity, his guard relaxing just a little.

"Of course. That statue is of him and some of the warriors he fought along side with. That medal around his neck was an award I was going to present him with a long time ago. Unfortunately, we never got around to it." She said, gazing at the statue.

"Why's that?" Jackson inquired, his interest growing.

"Oh, a mixture of time constraints, scheduling conflicts and unfortunate events. Not to mention he wasn't all that fond of the attention."

"Yeah. That sounds like him. What's the medal and the statue for?"

"The medal is the Equestrian Star, the highest honor or country can bestow upon somepony that has done a great service to the land and it's peoples. This one I was awarding him with because of his involvement in finding and rescuing a number of our citizens that had been kidnapped and put to work as slave laborers for a horrible task. The statue itself though is a representation of sacrifice. It's a monument to all the brave warriors who put their best forward to defend us all and tragically lost everything they had in the process." She explained with some sorrow.

"He didn't die, right?" Jackson asked in an almost pleading tone, "that one guy in there said he might still be alive."

"It may be a possibility, but a slim one." The large horned and winged mare said with a slight knowing smile, "After the battle that inspired this statue, he was never seen again."

"A slim possibility is still a possibility." Jackson said stubbornly, "And I'll follow it until I find either him or his grave."

"Hm... maybe we could help each other."

"Yeah? How's that?" Jackson asked with suspicion.

"You want to search your friend. Equestria is a big place, doing so will be no easy task. I can provide you the means and equipment to help you."

"And what's the catch?"

"These services wouldn't be free, of course. What I want from you is your help."

"My help? My help with what?"

"While our country is safe for now, there is still unrest. Your friend, James, possessed skills that were useful in resolving many of the matters that plague us. When he left, he left a hole that so far none of my ponies could fill. However, you worked with him and you possess many of the same skills as he. All I ask is that you assist us, aid us in our plight and I will provide you with all that you need." She explained to him.

Jackson stood there, head bowed, one hand resting on his chin and considered everything she had just said. He needed to get home, he needed to report in, but he also needed to find his friend and he might not ever get another chance. With some reasoning, he made a decision.

"Ok, I'll do it." He announced, looking the mare straight in the eye. "I just need one more thing right now."

"And what is that?"

"I ain't the only guy that came here, I need to go find my other teammate."

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