• Published 2nd Jan 2013
  • 4,872 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.

  • ...

6: The Cyclops

Chapter 6: The Cyclops

Luna sat in the darkened briefing room in one of the buildings of the RSTG headquarters. Before her, on a desk, was a pile of papers and compiled notes which she shuffled around, reading and re-reading them. The humans were due to arrive anytime now and she had taken it on herself to fill them in on her countries current situation and what was being done about it.

It pained her, re-informing herself about the plight of her subjects. She had hoped that the last large battle would have been the last Equestria's problems, but that hope was soon dashed shortly after. There was still harassment from the Renegades and nightmares among the citizens of her land were becoming more frequent and more intense, for whatever reason.

There was a knock at the door, "Enter." Luna said without looking up.

The door swung open, allowing a dark rusty colored unicorn through. Tiredly, he walked over to the desk where the Princess sat.

"Ma'am," he said in short greeting.

Luna looked up from her work to see Sparks standing in front of her.

"Ah, Commander. Welcome back, your trip went well I trust?"

"Not exactly, ma'am. The girls weren't entirely forthcoming with any information they might have had."

"Not unexpected."

"I just don't understand," Sparks said with a small amount of frustration, "He has to still be alive, if he was dead he wouldn't be that hard to find, only he could pull a disappearing act like that. The girls know something, I'm sure. He had the closest connection with them. I questioned them, I tried to steer the conversations into that direction, sometimes I begged, I even snooped around behind their backs, nothing! I couldn't find anything and they wouldn't tell me anything!"

Luna picked up on his attitude, but suspected that his failure was not the cause, "That's not all, though, is it? Something else troubles you."

"Well... no, not really..."

The Princess gave him a stern, yet un intimidating stare, like one a parent would give to a child that was not being entirely truthful. Sparks tried to bare it for as long as he could, but for all his fierceness and combat experience, the Princess of the Night was still a daunting figure.

"Ok," he sighed, "I'm just a little upset. I mean, he's got to be out there somewhere, but why wouldn't he tell me, tell Flash? Why wouldn't he stay in contact with us, his teammates, his friends?" He spilled out with some anger.

"We can never know why for sure. He is human after all and their race is still largely unknown to us. But I'm sure, given the time, things will work out for the best."

"I hope you're right ma'am."

Just then, there came another knock at the door. This time, one of the clerks working with the RSTG entered and presented himself, "Excuse me Your Highness, sir, the humans are ready."

"Ah!" Luna exhaled, gathering her papers with a waver of her horn and moving to a podium set in front of some seats and beside a large screen, "You may send them in. Commander, will you be joining us?"

"I'm afraid not, ma'am, I have a lot of paper work to catch up on." Sparks replied while making his way out of the room.

"Very well, then."

Sparks left the room just as the two humans filed in, both species giving the other a curious glance as they passed. Jackson gave the unicorn a particularly studious glare. But quickly they both parted and Jackson moved to take a seat by where Mayfield had already sat down by the front.

"Chief Jackson, and Scratch if I remember correctly, welcome to the briefing room. Here I will give you a brief history of Equestria and inform you of its results and consequences." With a flourish of her magic, she bought an image to the screen to her left, a map of Equestria. "This is our land. For hundreds of years, my sister has watched after it in rule and recently, I as well. However, this was not always so. Evidence was discovered of an mold race, a race long forgotten. 'Twas in these very same lands that they dwelled. In times past, a calamity, a famine or drought, forced them from this place to the cursed plains of Tartarus. Some years ago, they broke from that place and sook return, led by a man of cruelty and malice."

"You're talking about John Kraster." Jackson said, remembering his conversation with Sparks.

"The very same." Luna confirmed. "At the Battle of the Western Shore, he was killed and his invading army defeated."

"And that's where you lost track of my friend." Jackson interrupted.

"While you are correct, he is not the subject matter, please wait until I am finished." Luna chastised with authority before continuing. "Kraster's armies were scattered, but some remained. From this we learned that they live in tribes and while savage and battle thirsty, were not so intent on battling us for our lands, merely they just wanted a place of their own to carry out their customs and traditions, the invasion being the machinations of Kraster. Now we have treaties with them. In exchange for colonies to call their own, they keep their war like nature and campaigns of conquest amongst their own tribes. There is but one exception." Luna continued, becoming grave, "A splinter group did not favor this agreement. They split from the main tribes and founded their own. From north to south, east and west, they harass villages and towns, seeking to take more land and subjugate their inhabitants to their twisted will. We call them the Renegade Tribe and for the past few years, it has been the duty of the Royal Special Tasks Group to counter their attacks and thwart their plans. He creature the two of you fought some days ago was one of them."

Both Jackson and Mayfield sat there a moment, processing the information they had just received. They also studied the map on the wall, if they were going to be there for a while, might as well get familiar with the landscape. A question popped into Jackson's head upon seeing the distance from where he assumed he was found and the dot on the small mountain that said 'Canterlot', but Mayfield piped up first.

"So what's all this then? A battle of good and evil, us against them? Bloody sounds just like home." He queried.

"There is no good or evil here. They do what they believe is right, but it wrongs us." Luna replied, "They bring the practice of slavery and destruction to our land and we find it unacceptable to see our citizens in such a plight. Therefore we do what we must to stop them, no matter the costs to our own selves. We do things that nopony ever should have to to ensure others may sleep well at night. This is the legacy that the Commander; your friend, Chief Jackson, left to us."

"And what is it, exactly, that you want us to do?" Jackson asked.

"Simple. While the members of the RSTG are highly trained, many of them lack what you and the few senior leaders have. Experience. All I ask is that you work with them, lend what you know to them." Luna explained.

"And you'll help us with our problem?"


"Good," Mayfield cut in, "'Cause I got a right pretty bird waiting for me to get back and I wouldn't want to keep her waiting long."

"Rest assured, we have our brightest researcher working on the problem."

Jackson leaned forward in his seat, "So what do we do now?"

"Both of you will be assessed in your abilities and placed in the care of a handler."

"Well fuck that!" Mayfield objected, "Last thing I need is for some tosser constantly looking over my shoulder!"

"It's either that or you spend your time restricted to the palace grounds under constant guard." Luna gave in ultimatum.

Jackson thought about it for a moment. While having a babysitter would be extremely annoying, the alternative to him was much worse. There was no way he would be able to accomplish his own objective while locked up like some political prisoner. Because of this, he went with the lesser of the two evils.

"Ok, I agree to your terms. But the two of us stick together." He said, gesturing to Mayfield.

"Load a shite." Mayfield muttered under his breath while crossing his arms.

"I am glad you came to that decision. I apologize for the harshness of this, but we can't trust you until we know more about you." Luna said in a softer tone.

"Well ain't that just peachy," Mayfield complained, "so who's this 'handler' gonna be?"

"I already have a suitable candidate. Lieutenant Commander, you can enter now." Luna called to the door.

The door opened and entered a dark coal coated pegasus with a wonky wing. The two humans turned in their seats and looked over their shoulders to see the newcomer.

"Uff, this guy again." Mayfield scoffed.

"Lieutenant Commander Flash here is an experienced and well respected member of our task group. He will see to it that you are well acclimated to your new home and that you're both where you need to be when you need to be there. That's all for now, the Lieutenant Commander will take it from here." The Midnight Princess finished before politely excusing herself.

The room descended into awkward silence, neither party averting their gaze. After a brief second, the two humans stood up and walked up to the pegasus stallion.

"So I guess we'll be working together for a while." Jackson commented.

"Looks like it. I don't have anything for the two of you right now, so go ahead and relax for the day. Get your rest, we start early tomorrow morning." Flash told them.

"Sounds good, what ya got for us first?" Mayfield asked.

"Unarmed combat."


*Knock Knock Knock Knock*

Jackson sat up in his rack, instantly throwing off his covers and getting up. He looked around the room, confused for a split second as to where he was. Then it all came rushing back to him; being trapped in the cave, finding a way out, being captured, escaping, agreeing to help the Equestrians and winding up in the situation he was currently in. He still felt a little shock at it all, but not as much as before. He went to the door of his quarters and opened it up. Outside stood the pegasus from before, Flash, he remembered.

"Rise and shine!" The sooty colored stallion announced, "Time to get the day started."

"Roger, roger." Jackson said lethargically, "Lemme get my buddy up, we'll be right out."

"I'll be waiting."

Jackson closed the door and walked over to the rack opposite his where Mayfield was sleeping. Gently, he put a hand on the man's shoulder and shook him to consciousness.

"Mmh, five more minutes, mum." The fighting man mumbled, still half asleep.

"We ain't got five minutes, get up!" Jackson said, yanking the sheets off of his friend.

Mayfield sat up straight and looked Jackson angrily in the eyes, "Oi! What gives!?"

"We got shit to do, remember? Coming to Equestria, getting picked up by the magical ponies?"

In his tired state, Mayfield's mind took a second to process, "Oh, right. Share a sink?"

Quickly, Jackson and Mayfield made up their racks before heading to the small sink they shared, brushing their teeth and shaving at the same time with the kits they had been provided with. Once finished, they went to the small wardrobe the room was furnished with and pulled out a set of new uniforms for each of them. The uniforms matched those worn by the members of the RSTG, measurements had been taken the day previous for them. They were identical to the others in color and pattern, but lacked the patches and insignia of the uniforms the ponies wore. After dressing out, the two stepped outside the door to an impatient officer.

"You both finally ready?" Flash asked. "Good, come with me."

Jackson and Mayfield followed the pegasus as he trotted down the hall and down a flight of stairs to the main hallway. Following a brief breakfast in the mess hall, they were then taken out of the building and into the courtyard.

""We fightin' out here?" Mayfield inquired.

"Nope, ain't gonna be that easy for you two." Flash replied, continuing across to an alley.

Jackson and Mayfield shrugged and resumed following the Lieutenant Commander. He led them down the narrow passage to an area near the edge of the cliff that the city of Canterlot sat on. At the end of a rocky trail sat a low built building, modest and devoid of any special decorations. The entrance was Spartan in it's looks, a simple pair of thick wooden double doors. Flash brought them in and made them wait by the door while he retrieved the master of the building, going around an area of ponies practicing the martial arts and disappearing behind a set of dark red curtains.

Inside, a mass of ponies six across and five rows deep practiced a combination of strikes and blocks that played to the strengths of their anatomy in the large dojo, many ending in a hard, devastating, buck of their hind legs. Along one wall was a rack of various weapons, both non-lethal and deadly.

"Are we supposed to be fighting these blokes?" Mayfield asked Jackson.

"How the fuck should I know?"

The two operatives waited only a short moment more. Abruptly, a gong sounded from somewhere unseen, causing Jackson and Mayfield to look around the large room in wonderment. All the ponies practicing their fighting moves halted and quickly moved off to the sides in rehearsed order. Flash soon reappeared, exiting the curtains and standing off to the side. The two humans stood in anticipation, closely watching the fabric that covered the entrance to the back room.

The curtains shifted and a gnarled hand emerged, shoving aside the woven material with authority. Out came a tall two legged figure with dark green and brown mottled skin. At first, Jackson and Mayfield thought it might be another human, bit on closer inspection they saw it was almost similar to the creature they had fought on their arrival to the strange land they were now in. Except this one had some discernable features.

It had a strange and complicated curved symbol branded onto the top of it's left brow. It's left hand was missing the two lower fingers and it was covered in a miss-match of scars across it's body. It's most outstanding feature though, was the pitch black eye patch it wore over it's right eye.

"Hey, it's one of those things that we killed." Mayfield commented.

"I am not a thing and you would be hard pressed to kill me." It said with a gravelly voice.

"And it speaks! Well, whadayaknow...."

Flash began to introduce the two humans to the building's master, "This is our unarmed and melee combat instructor. He's fought in numerous engagements over the years, including the major battle a few years back against the invasion. He will assess you're fighting abilities."

"Nice to meet you," Jackson started, "I'm Jackson and this is my friend, Scratch."

"I am Garth." The large being replied.

"You got a... rank, or military title we can address you by? Or shall we just call you Cyclops?" Mayfield jokingly inquired.

"No. Just Garth." He said with complete seriousness.

"Ah, peachy..."

"Garth has no rank or anything, even though we've tried countless times to give it to him," Flash explained, "but he just keeps refusing."

"Golden thread and shiny metal trinkets hold no value to me, only knowledge and experience in battle." Garth said.

"Ok. So how do we get started?" Jackson asked.

"Step onto the fighting floor and we shall begin." Garth said with authority.

Jackson looked over to Mayfield and gave him a questioning look.

"What? It's all you, mate."

Jackson sighed and started rotating his shoulders while simultaneously removing his uniform top, leaving him in just his pants, boots and undershirt. Warily, he strode to the middle of the floor, cracking his neck and knuckles as he went. Garth's only preparation was to take a few slow lumbering steps forward. They stopped, staring each other down, neither now moving. Then, almost unexpectedly, Garth burst forward with surprising speed, throwing powerful strikes at Jackson's body.

Jackson recognized the covered eye as a disadvantage and dodged to the left whenever he could, forcing Garth to compensate for his blind spot by turning more and offsetting his fighting stance. Garth made another strike at Jackson, half guessing where he was. Jackson dodged it again and saw an opening. With as much speed as he could muster, Jackson landed a flurry of blows against Garth's torso. Garth spun around and shot a leg forward, catching Jackson in the stomach and sending him stumbling back while wringing his now aching hands.

"Damn, his sides are like granite!" He complained.

Garth made a gravelly coughing sound in his throat, like laughter, "Years of good fights!"

"Watch out mate, he's not too bad at this." Mayfield quipped from the corner.

"No shit!" Jackson yelled back, narrowly ducking another high kick.

The fight went on for a few more minutes, Jackson was losing energy fast and he needed to end it soon. He ducked, dodged, dipped and blocked a plethora of incoming strikes, each wearing down his stamina with daunting swiftness. Garth threw a kick-punch combo that nearly knocked the human off his balance, but Jackson remained steadfast. Finally, after spending an eternity on the offensive, Jackson saw an opportunity. The old warrior's left knee wasn't as flexible as the rest of his body, perhaps due to an old injury.

Using this new information, Jackson redoubled his efforts in making the large warrior twist and change his fighting stance. He jumped back out of Garth's range and waited for the fighter to advance. When Garth made a lunge for him, Jackson jumped forward and rolled past Garth's right side. Garth twisted fast to get the man out of his blind spot and over extended his left knee, causing the joint to give and force it to the deck. Jackson reacted quickly and launched himself at the martial arts master. With a mighty leap, he jumped over Garth's head and spun, wrapping his arms around the fierce fighter's neck, jamming his own knee into the small of Garth's back and leaning as far back as he could.

Jackson flexed his biceps as hard as he could, cutting of Garth's air and blood supply. Garth bucked and struggled, trying to throw Jackson off, but to no avail. Before two minutes had passed, Garth reached up and tapped Jackson's shoulder. Still not leaving anything to chance, Jackson released and jumped backwards into another fighting stance. Garth stood up and rubbed his throat while catching his breath.

"Good," he said with an even rougher voice, "you are proficient in combat."

"Uh... thanks?" Jackson replied, still unwilling to lower his guard.

Garth waved Jackson aside, gesturing for him to vacate the fighting space. Warily, the man complied.

"We now know one of you are fit to wear the mantle of the warrior, but what of the other?" Garth said inquisitively as he turned to Mayfield.

Mayfield was leaning against one of the weapons racks where he had watched the whole spectacle. He looked up to see Garth, Flash and Jackson staring at him.

"What? Jackson won, do I really still have to fight?" He asked.

"Yes." Garth stated with some annoyance.

"Oh, all right then." Mayfield said as he pushed off the wall while making a nearly undetectable shoving motion behind his back.

Slowly, Mayfield stepped onto the mat and approached Garth who readied himself into another fighting stance. They stared each other down for a moment. Suddenly, Garth lunged forward as he had done before, only this time, Mayfield stepped out of the way and pulled out a thick wooden stave from where it had been hidden in the back of his pants. With one quick stroke, he brought it down hard and heavy onto the back of Garth's head, knocking the fully grown Lotkin out and sending him sprawling across the mat. Jackson, Flash and the rest of the ponies who had been watching stood staring in shocked silence.

"What?" Said Mayfield, awkwardly shrugging his shoulders and putting on a charming smile, "No such thing as a fair fight, right?"

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