• Published 6th Dec 2012
  • 1,947 Views, 85 Comments

On the Side - DocDelray

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The Redemption of Feltan

The sun had begun its usual trek across the horizon, pushing the last vestiges of night away. So few on this world realized, though, that this was the first time the celestial bodies had moved on their own in centuries. No longer under the control of supposed deities, nature had begun to retake stewardship of this planet. Life-giving rays of light reached their grip out over the harsh and uncaring desert landscape as they draped themselves over one of the few settlements that called this place home. Beams of light began to trickle in through the windows of the tavern’s upper rooms and slink their way across the wooden floor towards the occupied bed in the far corner. Several emptied bottles that littered the floor began to catch and distort the light, sending beams in random directions.

Trickles of light began to brush across the face of the man calling this room home for the time being. Aged into his early thirties, his face told the story of a man who had fought hard to gain whatever he had in life. His raven hair was ringed with a line of grey, giving his age away even further. A number of scars littering his chest and arms were proudly displayed on his fit body, trophies from the battles he’d survived.

His face scrunched in annoyance as the light nagged at him to awaken; with a tired grunt, he refused its call and turned over on his side. Upon doing so, his senses were bombarded with several new sensations: a warm softness brushing against his face, the slightly faded scent of shampoo and perfume; finally was the weighted presence beside him and the numbness in one of his arms. With some reluctance, the man’s dark brown eyes began to crack open, finding a mass of tangled orange hair and one cream colored ear lazily laying against it. Glancing over it, he noticed the feminine curve and shape it possessed, as well as how she laid on her side over his arm.

The being lying beside him began to stir as she sensed him awaken. Her head tilted slightly to glance back at him with one tired, green eye. A smile came across her face as she laid back down and scooted herself back into his body, “Mornin’…” She muttered in a tired sigh.

He glanced over her and the mess of his room. A number of discarded, empty bottles littered the floor. His armor and gear was left in a haphazard pile in the far corner. Turning his attention back to the alien woman beside him, he chose to simply enjoy the strange turn of events. His other arm draped over her body and was quickly held tightly by her forelimbs, “Yeah… Morning,” he grumbled out as he let his eyes slide shut.

As relaxing as his current state affairs were, he still had one question, how did he get here? His mind began backtracking to find the answers, jumping from one event to the next as the jumbled mess began to shift and slide into place until things began to make more sense. The crash, the long trek through the desert, the small town in the middle of nowhere and all the trouble he had to go through to get one lousy drink.

An uncaring sun burnt down on the sands and rocks of the desolate landscape at the edges of Equestria’s territory. Though for one man, it felt as though it was focused more on him than anything else. The singular figure of Lieutenant Shariad Feltan trudged his way through the wastes toward the ever-beckoning splotch on the horizon.

From behind his visor, he cast a rueful glare at the burning orb in the sky above him as he tried to will it out of existence. Despite his armor’s climate control systems, he could still feel the blistering heat that pounded down on him from above. He could feel beads of sweat soaking his body through and through beneath his armor and underlay. Muttering a few more curses under his breath, he continued to trek forward towards the town on the horizon.

It had been several hours since he’d awoken and found himself stranded on this alien planet. During this time, he had begun a quiet reflection on his situation, the events and choices that led to this moment in time. It all came down to one man in particular, that idiot who fired on that freighter. If not for that one misfire, he would still be second in command aboard his ship; they would have joined the great offensive against the Neo Protectors and struck the first blow of the civil war. Rather than reveling in glory, here he was: walking across the burnt, jagged landscape of some backwater planet.

These distractions served him well, as he barely noticed when he finally arrived in the town. The only thing he could notice right now was the ever-growing pain and discomfort his body was bombarding him with. Every muscle demanded he find a place to at least sit for a spell. In his tired haze, he barely regarded the locals, who all seemed to stare in shock and disbelief as he marched up the center of town.

His eyes fell upon a building towards the center of town. The sounds of music and happy chatter, which thankfully was in basic, could be heard even from the streets. A quiet thank-you was muttered to the forces at work for making whatever was inside speak a language he could understand. Pushing his way past the saloon doors, he was greeted with a sea of bewildered eyes.

From behind his visor, Feltan began to assess the room, his mind quickly recalling the briefing they had all received from Teth’s report. Equestrians: the strange, quadruped race that lived on this world. He was told they were friendly, but timid for the most part towards things outside their norm. Judging from what he remembered in the report, the room looked to be populated with the Earth breed types, no wings and no horns. He then remembered the blaster at his side as well as the number of weapons built into his armor, and was quickly flooded with confidence. Lumbering his way across the wooden floor towards the bar, he found himself no longer the center of attention as the occupants returned to their conversations and friends.

A tall, lanky creature moved up to the strange alien that had taken up residence at the far end of his bar. With a forced, plastic smile he leaned in, “Howdy stranger, welcome to the Salt Lick Saloon. What can I get ya?”

Reaching up, Feltan disengaged his environmental seals with a dull hiss before pulling his helmet off, setting it on the bar next to him. The sweat and dried blood that caked his face caused the bartender to visibly recoil a bit, bringing a grin to the warrior’s face, “What’s your strongest stuff?”

The barkeep quickly regained his composure and nodded happily, “Ah, well, just got a batch of Buffalo Fire Water in the other day. Stuff’ll put just about anypony on his flank.”

Reaching into a pouch hooked to his belt, the tired and broken warrior produced a few credits and laid them on the bar, “This buy me a glass?”

The currency was given a good scrutinizing, “Personally I prefer taking Equestrian Bits, but bein’ this far out in the territories ya can’t be picky, I always say. Yeah, this looks like it’ll get ya a glass.”

Several more credits joined the ones already on the counter top, “Bring me the bottle.”

His companion eyed the small pile of strange coins with a hint of joy and greed glimmering in his eyes. His hoof came up and scooped the credits off the bar and quickly placed them off to the side, “Of course sir, right away!”

The warrior waited patiently for his drink to arrive while doing what he could to not draw any attention to himself. The unfortunate thing was, being from a whole other planet meant that he was never going to accomplish this feat. Proven to him by the presence he felt brush against his arm. Drawing his gaze to the side, he found a female. Mares, they were called, if he recalled correctly, leaning on the bar beside him. Her coat was a cream color, well-maintained mane and tail of furious, bright orange and perfectly green eyes all brought together in a tightly compact form, not unpleasant to look at by any race’s standards.

“Howdy sugah, you look like you could use a little company,” Her voice was pleasant, soft and silken with a strange accent Feltan couldn’t place with anything he knew.

She spoke of company, but her half lidded eyes and hungry smile told him to keep an eye on his credits, “Just looking for a drink, ma’am.”

“Please sug, no need for formalities.” She insisted with a teasing giggle, “Jus’ call me Scarlet, Summer Scarlet if ya please.”

Feltan withheld the urge to roll his eyes at this declaration. He’d been to more than a few cantinas in his time and had seen her kind on more than a few worlds. A pretty face and honeyed voice, tasked with getting you to loosen your purse strings and spend every last credit you have in their bar. Tricks better suited for use on a younger man still led around by his libido, in his opinion. Still, no reason to act rude; he gave the mare a nod and a smile as he waited for his bottle to show up.

He felt her lean a bit more into his side, “So, what do Ah call you, stranger?”

“Stranger sounds fine for now.”

Scarlet couldn’t help but giggle at this fleeting dodge of her question, “Mysterious type, ain’t ya? Ah like that.”

“Just looking to keep a low profile,” He answered her curtly.

Behind his back, the warrior had no idea of the latest visitors to the establishment or the fact that the entire room had not just become quiet but the majority of the occupants had left. A mismatched quartet of creatures had entered the bar, causing so many to make for the exits. One was a lumbering canine with arms that seemed to stretch the full length of its body, a scar hinted at the violent loss of his left eye, hidden behind a small, round hat that tilted to one side. The other was a strange half-breed between avian and feline, the well-defined muscles and large size stated it was male, and the chipped beak and ragged wings said he could give as good as he got. Number three was another of the large, brown, bulky creatures he had encountered at the crash site. His horns were chipped from clearly heavy use, and one had been broken halfway down. Finally, at the head of the pack stood a mare with a dark blue coat and lime green tresses; atop her head rested a wide-brimmed hat that tilted awkwardly forward.

The leader of this ragged bunch zeroed in on the strange creature sitting at the bar and motioned for her comrades to follow suit. She cut a straight path towards him while her companions fanned out across the room. With a teasing grin, she leaned herself against the bar, “Well well well, what in Equestria have we got here, fellas?”

“No idea boss,” The bird creature in her company chirped, “Looks like some sort’a metal plated monkey.” He stated happily as he received the jovial laughs he’d been hoping for.

Feltan’s new companion quickly moved away from his side as the rough group began to close in, though the warrior however stood his ground. This wasn’t the first time he’d been hassled on some back-water world; people see the armor and think they can take you. They think if they kill a Mandalorian, it’ll make them a local legend or maybe even rich for selling the gear off his corpse. He cast an annoyed eye at the barkeep, who nervously tried to keep his distance until he reluctantly forced himself forward to drop off the requested bottle.

The human reached out for the bottle only to find a hoof pin his forearm down. Glaring daggers at the limb, he traveled it to the source to find the mare’s smiling face, “Hey now mister, why don’cha fill us in, huh? Ain’t never seen one’a your like ‘round here. See, my boys an’ Ah are right curious types.”

Feltan looked longingly at the bottle, so close yet so far away. All he wanted was to get drunk and forget about the past couple of days. He felt her hoof move slowly up his arm to his shoulder till she had herself using him to keep herself standing on her hind legs, “C’mon now sweetie, ain’t no reason ta be so unfriendly,” She cooed to him, “Ya look the rough type ta me stranger; always lookin’ fer new talent.”

It was time to play along. His arm moved from the counter top to slide around her midsection. He could feel her friends moving around behind him but forced his gaze to stay locked with her, “And just type of talent are you looking for?”

A coy smile slid over her muzzle as she leaned in a bit closer, “Somepony who ain’t ‘fraid ta get his… “Mitts” dirty.”

He glanced around the room with a chuckle, “So, I take it you four are some type of gang then,” Feltan mused aloud. With a relaxed grin, he looked about the room at his would-be assailants as they moved into position, “Judging from how everyone went and hauled sheb to get out of here, you’ve all got a reputation around these parts,” He continued his banter, “That usually means someone somewhere put up a bounty for you four.”

The mare raised a brow as she allowed him to continue his thoughts, “Even if you were right ‘bout that sweetie, there’s four’a us an’ only one’a you. ‘Sides, things can be so much more fun if ya come along with us.”

To her surprise Feltan leaned forward and breathed in deeply along her neck line, selfishly drawing in her scent. He smirked as he felt her body stiffen in surprise against him, “Gar klesir laandur, aruetii,” The warrior whispered teasingly into her ear.

She leaned back to smirk into his face, “My my, quite forward ain’t ya? Ah like that in a stallion.” The mare cooed to him breathlessly.

Feltan couldn’t help but chuckle at her reaction, “You know what the best part about all of this is? You have no idea what I just said to you.”

Before she could utter a response the reinforced layers of his gauntlets began to hum to life. The mare leaning into him found herself bombarded by a wave of electricity when his fist suddenly slammed into her stomach. The force of the blow sent her toppling backwards into several of the tables, sending splintering wood skittering across the floor. With this act, the room exploded into a scene of beautiful chaos with Feltan at the center of it all.

The remaining three quickly darted in for the kill in retaliation to his attack, exactly what the former Deathwatch Lieutenant had been hoping to get. Grabbing his helmet from the counter, he tossed it with all the strength and dead weight his arms could afford him. The armor-turned-projectile rocketed through the air and connected with the front of the canine’s face. A satisfying crack, followed by a pained yelp filled the air as he toppled into a table, holding his face as blood trickled from between his claws.

A loud roar drew his attention quickly to the fast-moving avian half-breed that launched itself into him. Fletan found himself pushed onto the defensive while his assailant slashed franticly at him with his long, sharp talons. The sharpened nails dug harmlessly into his armor, but the Mandalorian knew he didn’t have the constitution or the strength to keep weathering this onslaught.

His opponent was fast, but he didn’t need speed, just a good opening. Delving into his training as a shock boxer, Feltan began to duck and weave with the attacks, making them even less effective. Seeing this only made his enemy angrier as his strikes became more rampant and random. Finally there it was: a wide, over-exaggerated swing. Smirking in triumph, his sparking gauntlet flew through the gap that had opened up and smashed into the bird-cat’s chest. Bolts of energy leapt about his body as a defeated squawk escaped his beak before his form crashed into the wooden floor.

There was little time to rest as what felt like a speeder strapped to the front of a tank tied to a crashing freighter slammed into his side. Feltan had no time to retaliate, and very little to fight back with as he found himself forced roughly into the bar with such force the entirety of the building shook. He could feel his ribs cracking beneath his armored shell as his legs began to give out, and the air was ripped out of his lungs. Grabbing the counter for leverage, he found himself face to face with the brown, hulking monstrosity.

Over the behemoths back Feltan could see the sluggish grey one and the mare getting back to their feet, and looking none too happy with him. Her eyes glared murderously at the human, “Hold ‘im down, Bill,” She snarled as she grabbed a broken bottle off the ground, “I’m gonna cut that tongue right out’a his head. Ah wanna see jus’ how silver it really is.”

From the corner of his eye, though, he saw something that made his spirits fall that much farther. The bottle, fresh and unopened, the seal still tightly attached, had been knocked off balance. Feltan’s eyes went wide with horror as he watched it dance in uncertainty for a moment before choosing one direction to fall over the other. All he could do was watch as his precious drink toppled off the counter top just out of his reach, and shattered upon the floor. The sounds of breaking glass mimicked his own breaking heart and the wafting scent of strong, hardy spirits filled the air.

The human turned his rage filled eyes towards the hulk currently crushing him into the bar, “I just bought that you blasted di’kut!” He roared at the top of his lungs.

Outside of the saloon, the entire town had gathered to see the ruckus that had started; this only brought a frown to Sheriff Silver Star’s face as it would only make things more difficult. The aging, light brown coated stallion gave a tired sigh as he approached the building. From the reports he had been given, mainly the townsponies running and screaming in panic, a particular group of outlaws had wandered into town and were inside the local saloon. Silver Star wished to Celestia that he had at least a posse to take care of this situation, especially considering who he heard they might be.

As he got closer, he could hear the sounds of glass breaking and somepony causing all-around havoc. Through the throngs of ponies gathered thickly around the building, it was more or less impossible to get a good look inside. The hushed talk amongst the residence spoke of a strange creature standing up to the outlaws, and judging from the sounds, the fight was getting pretty heated.

Snarling under his breath, the Sheriff pushed his way through the crowd and forced them to back away and disperse. Finally reaching the front door, he steeled himself for what he was about to walk into. For all he knew, the stranger the other ponies had mentioned was nothing but a smear across the saloon floor by now. Taking a deep breath, he pushed himself through the swinging doors, only to stop dead in his tracks at what he saw inside.

An armored figure sat on top a felled bison, whose broken and tattered face showed he had received quite a beating. Around the room amidst the clutter and wreckage, laid the forms of those he’d come to intercept to begin with. The body of a Diamond Dog was tangled with the wreckage of what was, at one point, a rather sturdy-looking table. In the far corner of the room, a Gryphon laid in a heap, the broken remains of a bottle were scattered around his head. An unconscious mare was left where she fell, somewhat embedded into the side of the bar.

The armored form took in tired, labored breaths as its shoulders sat slumped forward like it was about to fall over at any second. Silver Star cautiously entered the saloon as he looked the damage over before coming to a stop at the foot of the biped’s newly-claimed buffalo throne.

Feltan turned his ragged gaze towards the Earth pony. In his hazed state he noticed two things right off the bat. Firstly was bright, shining star he wore on both a vest and his hat, what he assumed to be a symbol of authority. Second was the rather impressive mustache hanging from his face; he was admittedly surprised these creatures could grow facial hair properly. Impressed or not, there was business to conduct, “You the law around here?” He grumbled out.

The Sheriff was a bit surprised that this savage-looking creature could speak, “That’d be me; Sheriff Silver Star at yer service,” He gave the damage another once over, “Y’all must be the stranger folks’re goin’ on about. Land sakes boy, can’t believe ya took down Jackie Knife an’ ‘er whole gang alone like ya did.” Silver Star commented with no shortage of praise in his voice.

With a tired grunt, Feltan forced himself to his feet and dismounted his fuzzy seat. Standing now in front of the Sheriff, he practically towered over the “lawman”, “Speaking of that, time we discussed a bit of business.”

A quizzical brow was raised at the mention of business, “An’ just what business is that?”

Feltan motioned to his handy work, “I believe there was a bounty out on all four of these heads, correct? I’m collecting on them.”

Silver Star felt his throat go dry as a slight panic wormed its way down his spine. It wasn’t fear of this creature standing over him, or the violence he was clearly capable of. It was the fact that he knew Appleloosa didn’t have that kind of money on hoof. Those bounties were posted by the Equestrian Marshals, “Now, I need ya to understand, it’ll take some time ta get the money for ya,” He stated carefully as he held up his hooves, “But Ah’m sure we can work somethin’ out in the meantime.”

The rest of his thoughts became nothing but a jumbled mess. From what little he could recall about the rest of the night, the townsfolk had gone out of their way to show him their thanks. All the details of those events, however, were a blurry haze of booze. His sense had cleared now, and the biggest mystery was solved. As for how things led to his current situation, the former Deathwatch Lieutenant couldn’t care less.

Feltan slid his hand free of Scarlet’s grasp and began to run it along her outline. The warrior enjoyed the way her body shivered slightly and pressed back against him the more he explored her body. This brought a content smile to his face. He begrudgingly had to admit that she gave him a peaceful feeling, even if this moment was more than likely a fleeting one. A voice in the back of his head pointed out that once he left this small town, it was fated that they’d more than likely never cross paths again; at that point it would only be a matter of time before they both became distant memories of each other. The galaxy can be a cruel mistress, sometimes.

This brief slice of heaven, though, was shattered with the sound of a hoof rapping at the door. He grunted in annoyance as he looked between his companion and the door. With a defeated sigh, he lumbered out of the bed, “Cool your jets, I’m coming!” He snarled at the presence still knocking at the door.

The aches and pains that lingered in his bones yelled at him to lay back down, as did other urges. He swiftly collected a pair of undergarments and his blaster pistol before walking towards the door. Glancing back at the confused mare in his bed, he motioned for her to keep quiet as he placed the muzzle of the weapon against the door before cracking it open. Standing outside was the Sheriff, whom he greeted with a tired grin, “Sheriff Star, what can I do for you?”

Silver Star looked from the human to the form tangled in the sheets behind him before letting a wry grin escape, “Didn’t mean ta intrude son, but a feller from the Marshals is here an’ lookin’ to talk to ya.”

Feltan glanced over his shoulder at the suddenly bashful-looking Scarlet before nodding to the Sheriff, “Tell him I’ll be down soon.”

The infamous Jackie Knife and her gang taken down in one ill-fated bar fight; it spoke volumes to Marshal Swift Breeze. An aged Pegasus, his coat was a fading dark brown; his mane and tail were at one time solid black, these days, however, shades of grey had taken their toll on him. His form was clad in the standard duster and wide-brimmed hat that all members of the Marshals were issued with a bright badge of authority, proudly pinned to his chest. In all his years though, he couldn’t think of any sight like the one playing out before him. However, he was able to easily recall each and every crime of the offenders committed as they were loaded onto the armored carriage.

The Diamond Dog Crunch, as stupid as he is violent and best known for having beaten six ponies to death in one night with his bare paws. Next was the Buffalo simply known as Bill, originally all he was known for was a few petty crimes here and there, until he got somepony killed when he trampled them, from there it was a downward spiral into Jackie’s waiting arms. Yorick Brogue, formerly a soldier from the Gryphon fatherland, after falling out with his superiors, he found he could make quite a lot of bits with his talents. Finally, the queen bee of the hive, Jackie Knife; they could write books on everything this mare had done. There were a lot of people in the frontiers that were going to sleep soundly tonight.

Heavy footfalls drew his attention to the armored biped coming to a stop behind him. Swift Breeze found himself staring at his own reflection in the empty, black glare of the being’s T-visor. Despite the more than intimidating appearance of this creature, he kept himself cold and professional, “You the colt who brought these folks down?”

“Depends, you got the money I earned bringing them down?” Feltan growled at him.

Breeze chuckled at the rough response he received, “Yeah, I got your money, bounty hunter,” He assured him, “But I wonder if I might have a moment of your time, first?”

Behind his visor Feltan rolled his eyes, he somehow knew what was coming, “Fine, just make it quick.”

The Pegasus Marshal grinned happily at the chance, “I won’t lie, friend, to bring down these four you’ve got to have some obvious skills. And skills are something I’m always looking for,” He informed him.

The warrior gave a hearty chuckle at this praise, “You offering me a job or something, lawman?”

Breeze glanced back at the angered and downtrodden looks on his captive’s faces, “It just so happens that the Marshals have a history of hiring just about anypony with the skills, talent and the sense of justice needed to keep the frontier lands safe. You gotta have at least two of those covered to have taken down all four of those rats.”

Feltan leaned in close in an attempt to break the lawstallion’s iron will, “And just what makes you think I care to enforce your idea of justice?”

A knowing smirk came to Breeze’s muzzle before he gave his answer, “Because you got the look of a “lawman” about you.” The Marshal gave him a once over as he circled the human, “I like to think I’m a good judge of character, and you seem alright to me. I reckon you could’ve killed them if you wanted to, but instead you went out of your way to just knock them out.”

“Bounties are always more valuable alive, common knowledge.” Feltan snorted in reply.

Swift tried his best to stifle a chuckle as he continued his examination, “That is true, a pulse helps pad the number of bits you’d receive, but most bounty hunters don’t care if they involve civilians or not.”

“Lucky break for them is all,” The Mandalorian retorted, “They ran for the hills before the fight even started.”

The grin on the Marshal’s face only seemed to grow the more he tried to make excuses, “Yeah well, you can deny it all you want friend, but I’d say you were born to wear the star.”

Feltan gave his offer a once over in his mind. While it would be a considerable step down for him to go from military officer to beat cop, it wouldn’t be that far of a stretch for him. Before being head-hunted by Deathwatch, he had worked as a Journeyman Protector. Feltan knew a thing or two about frontier justice. Besides that, he knew full well the bounty he just earned wouldn’t support him forever, “On two conditions: one, I’m still collecting the bounty I earned and two, I ain’t wearing one of those stupid hats.”

Breeze laughed at the warrior’s demands but consented to them, “Fine, fine, it’d look stupid on top of the helmet anyways. So, I gotta put a name on the report and recruitment form,”

Feltan smirked from behind his visor, “Briggs, Salazar Briggs.” He stated with an offer of his hand.

With a smile the Marshal placed his hoof in the open palm, “Swift Breeze. Welcome to the Equestrian Marshals.”