• Published 24th Jan 2013
  • 1,181 Views, 38 Comments

Dog and Pony Show: Aftermath - KaraC

Having been forced to deplete their territory of gems by Rarity, Rover, Fido and Spot must find a new way to offer Tribute to the Alphas of all Dogs.

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2 - Bared Teeth

The Alphas were always a sight to behold. Their immaculately groomed seemed to shine even in the pitch darkness of the Den and their physiques were very imposing. Fido and Spot kept their eyes averted from their leaders as they placed the covered Tribute wagon in front of the low ledge the Alphas sat upon.

“Presenting the Diamond Pack, Alpha Fido and Beta Spot.” One of the Alpha bitch-guards announced, the spinel in her white Collar displaying her rank proudly. The announcement brought many quizzical looks from almost all the Dogs in the room save for the Alpha and his mate. All the bitch-guards bore expressions of sad understanding.

“What has become of Alpha Rover for you to wear his Collar and Tag?” The Alpha Bitch asked, though it was obvious that she knew.

Fido straightened his body from its submissive hunch and lifted his head to meet their eyes. “Alpha Steelfang,” He first addressed the Alpha Dog before turning to the Alpha Bitch. “Alpha Widepaw. In order to meet our Tribute requirement, Alpha Rover surrendered his Collar and Tag to me before going to retrieve a Dragon Egg. His last order was that should he not return, I was to take his place. He has not returned, so I stand here and meet your eyes as the new Alpha of the Diamond Dogs.”

“We hear and acknowledge you Diamond Dog Alpha Fido. Now to address your Tribute; what do you bring?” Alpha Steelfang asked. Fido took a step toward the wagon and removed the cover, revealing two cows with broken necks and a unicorn still wrapped in its burial shroud. “Ah, a Tribute of Flesh.” He and Widepaw exchanged a glance. “We are pleased Alpha Fido, ask what you will.”

Hope filled Fido and Spot’s eyes. “I ask for a new territory as ours is now …”

Fido was interrupted as the fur across the shoulders of every Dog and Bitch lifted when a sudden wave of heat and magic rolled inexplicably through the First Den. It was a precursor to the sudden arrival of a being that had the entire Pack narrowing eyes, flattening ears, lifting lips and showing teeth. Princess Celestia was nonchalant as a few bitch-guards growled and snapped their jaws at her long legs in an attempt to provoke a reaction. Alpha Widepaw was visibly struggling to hold herself back from lunging and Alpha Steelfangs ears all but vanished against his skull. Fido and Spot scampered away from their unfortunate position between Celestia and their Alphas.

“All Packs are dismissed, return home. Alpha Fido of the Diamond Dogs, my mate and I grant your territory request.” Though he was addressing the dogs and bitches in the Den, his contempt-filled eyes never left the alabaster alicorn.

The tension in the room was thick as all the dogs and bitches, save for the Alphas and their guard, evacuated the area. Widepaw rose from her seated position and met Celestia’s eyes with her own, narrowed bright copper orbs and tail arched aggressively high.

“You are trespassing,” She declared surprisingly clearly in the pony language. “on the day of Tribute no less!”

Steelfang cleared his throat. “My beloved mate makes a valid point; I believe I speak for us both when I say your timing is poor and disruptive.” Widepaw nodded and a nasty smile parted her jowls.

“One must wonder if that was intentional. After all, there is a reason one of our bitch-guards lives beneath your castle, and it is not by her choice.”

A hard glint appeared in Celestia’s eyes, a glint that would have sent her student running for cover. Neither Alpha even flinched. “The treaty has been broken by one of your packs.”

“Hah!” Widepaw barked.

“If there has been a breach of the treaty, it is on your part. One thousand years ago you agreed this quarry would belong to us. Two hundred years ago, when the earth pony town was founded and built, you assured us there would be no interference from them.” Now Steelfangs eyes narrowed. “Fourteen years ago a magic foal came here and has been stealing gems ever since. Fourteen years ago, we sent you a message about the trespass and you have done nothing! Five days ago, that very same magic mare tortured the Diamonds into digging their mines barren!” He slammed his paw into the floor.

“Now you come into our Den uninvited on one of our most sacred days and make false claims! It was not enough you stole what was ours three thousand years ago! No, you mmmph…!” Widepaw’s escalating rant was abruptly cut off by the forepaw of her mate holding her muzzle shut.

“Your memory may be long, but ours is longer and more accurate.” Steelfang snarled. “You are not welcome here thief, you will never be welcome here. As of this moment, all dogs, bitches, bitch-guards and grunts of all packs will be told of our new ‘kill-on-sight’ rule concerning all trespassers.”

“That means you as well.” Widepaw snapped as she took a step toward Celestia.

“Have you finished expressing your grievances Alpha Steelfang, Alpha Widepaw?” Celestia asked, seemingly unperturbed at the accusations thrown. The expressions of both Alphas settled on aggressive and angry, but they nodded reluctantly. “I apologize for interrupting your ceremony, but there is still the matter at hoof. It would benefit us both for the peace between us to continue, no matter how tenuous. As such I have personally spoken to the ponies of Ponyville, they understand that the quarry is yours. Regarding the various trespasses over the years; I would like to offer a repayment for what was taken five days ago.”

The silence in the Den was heavy as the Alphas and the bitch-guards regarded Celestia in bald-faced surprise. It was as if they didn’t recognize the ruler before them. A range of emotions crossed Steelfang’s and Widepaw’s faces as they looked at each other. Surprise, disbelief, suspicion, wonder and the briefest flash of hope before they turned back to Celestia; their suspicion was given voice first.

“The last time you came to our Den,” Steelfang cautiously began. “you were as lava; flowing through tunnels and devouring all in your path.”

Widepaw’s lips hiked even higher over her long canines. “Thirty one Dogs and eight Bitches taken for the single pony they took.”

“I will not deny… overreacting to the predation of one of my subjects,” The raised lips of Widepaw and all the bitch-guards dropped marginally at the admission. “and I will not deny your right to defend your territory to the extreme you have declared; however I ask that you post signs in equestrian that mark the edges of your borders.” Celestia received a skeptical eye followed by reluctant nods from both Alphas and the full relaxation of raised lips, covering the multitude of exposed teeth pointed in her direction. “However,” She motioned toward the three carcasses. “This is unacceptable.”

Widepaw flew off the handle at that; snapping and snarling incoherently as she lunged for Celestia’s throat, only to be caught in a golden telekinetic field. Now that she was restrained she began thrashing violently, eyes rolling wildly and beginning to foam at the mouth.

“You go too far! Release her and leave our Den! Bitch-guards!” Alpha Steelfang barked. The guards leapt into action, surrounding Celestia. Four of them positioned themselves under their flailing Alpha Bitch, ready to catch and restrain her if necessary.

“No, Alpha Steelfang; I’m afraid it is you and your Packs who have overstepped your bounds. Expect to receive a message from me in the next few days.” Lowering the nearly rabid Alpha into the paws of the guards, she released her and teleported in the same heartbeat.

“How …! How dare she!” Widepaw howled as all the fury started to drain out of her. “All we’ve lost, we’ve lost because of her! Thief! Pup-Killer! Genocidal tyrant!” She roared before she collapsed, emotionally exhausted. Steelfang wrapped his forearms around her thickly muscled neck and hugged his mate as his expression turned dark.

“Shhh. She won’t get away with this, not again. I promise you that. Let’s go to bed, a good sleep will bring clearer minds.” He helped her to her paws and, forearm still draped over her shoulders, led her to an adjacent cave.

Inside the surprisingly snug sleeping quarters of the Alphas, there was a simple bed of grass covered by two bear pelts that had seen better days. A ledge of worn stone jutting out from the wall made an adequate desk and a low boulder with a flat top sitting in front of it became a chair. But this stone furniture was ignored for the bed that Steelfang manually fluffed before leading Widepaw onto the softest part. Once she was settled, he spooned her from behind and they both drifted off to sleep.

In a dark corner of the Den, a shadow moved and revealed Spot; eyes wide with astonishment. Each step from his hiding spot was slow and deliberate to muffle the sounds from his paw-falls. In this manner he left the Alphas Den and slunk into a side tunnel.

On the other side of the Den, lounging in a high, hidden alcove, a lone bitch-guard with spinel studding her Collar gave the retreating Diamond Dog a contemplative look.

“Fido!” Spot hissed as he shoved the shoulder of the large blue Alpha. “Fido wake up! I got something important to tell you!”

Groaning, Fido forced open one eye and grunted. “If the cave isn’t collapsing, I don’t want to hear it. Where’ve you been anyway?” He yawned as his eye closed again and he turned so his back was facing the small dog.

“I was at the First Den and you wouldn’t believe what I found out!”

“Uh huh…” Fido muttered sleepily before his eyes shot open and he surged to a sitting position, now wide awake. “Wait, what?! Spot, we were all told to leave! Are you telling me you disobeyed the Alphas?!

Spot blinked before averting his eyes. “Uh, well when you put it that way…” He started to fidget.
“You little fool! You never disobey the Alphas!” He grabbed the shoulders of the smaller dog in his enormous hampaws and gave him a shake. “Just because you’re not an adult yet doesn’t mean they won’t punish you! By the First Alphas, tell me you weren’t seen!”

“Relax! I wasn’t seen! That’s why I took so long to get back; I waited ‘til the Den was empty.” Spot reassured. Fido’s entire frame slumped in relief.

“Thank the First Alphas.” He sighed. “You can’t take risks like that Spot; you and I, we’re the last of the Diamond Pack. I don’t want to even consider what would happen if I was suddenly alone, especially so soon after Rover.”

Spot’s body language began to scream remorse. “M’sorry Fido. We hear all these stories ‘bout the White Alpha and until today nodog had ever actually seen her.”

“Alright, you saw her, you eavesdropped, what happened after everydog left?”
The small dog’s expression lit up and he began to tell Fido everything he saw and heard.

At the same time Spot and Fido were talking, another dog was awake and working.

One sleepy copper eye opened as a new sound filled the cave.

The other eye opened now and their gaze wandered to a figure hunched over the desk and busily scribbling away with a pressed coal pencil over some documents. One of the ears of the figure twitched in the direction of the bed as the pencil was quietly placed in an indent at the back of the desk.

“I woke you?”

“Mmmyes.” Widepaw yawned widely, exposing her long canines and bone-crunching teeth. “What are you doing?”

“I dreamt about the confrontation with the White Alpha. Something I said keeps nipping at my tail.” He told her as he stood up from the chair and walked into an adjacent cave. Widepaw followed him in and watched as he scanned the multitude of shelved scrolls.

“You said a lot of things; most of which was recorded on stone before we started using paper. What are you looking for?” She asked as she looked through old maps, the most recent one being almost 300 years old.

“I…I’m not sure. But I’ll know it when I see it!” He declared as he turned to face her. “What have you got there?”

“Our most recent map, we did promise new territory to the Diamonds for their Tribute.” She answered as she traced territorial boundaries with her eyes. Steelfang nodded.

“That we did.” He turned his gaze to the map and furrowed his brow after a minute of examining it. “There doesn’t seem to be anywhere for them to go unfortunately.”

“We could expand our boundaries south and southwest, unless we’re going to try moving into the Everfree.” She told him while her claw carefully traced out her proposed expansion. As she lifted her paw from the paper her eyes widened and she froze. Steelfang didn’t notice; he was too busy studying the map himself.

“The Everfree’s not a bad idea. It has a few good mountains that would probably bear lots of gems and metals. All the Packs could hunt in there. The only problem would be the other predators, the manticores especially.” At the lack of response, he looked up from his musing and looked across the map to his mate. “Widepaw? What’s wrong?”

Slowly, she turned his eyes at him and her face split into a grin that was downright feral. “I know how to get at the White Alpha’s throat.”

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