• Published 23rd Apr 2013
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That Others May Live - CptBrony

Two USAF Pararescuemen must search through an unknown land to find their charge and make it back home alive.

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Frost and Duke ran from the village as fast as their feet would carry them. With all the rattle they were wearing, it was a tough run.

They stopped at a point about five hundred meters from the village, behind a large boulder. “What do we do now, boss?” Frost asked. He held out the lighter. “We have plenty of reason to think he may be here, but how should we proceed?” He flicked the lighter open, but didn't light it. No need to give away their position.

“We probably can’t just waltz in. Too risky.” Duke replied. They sat in silence. “Here’s the plan. We go back to the house, look for intel or a basement, then try to get out. If we don’t find anything, we’ll have to use interrogation tactics.” Frost frowned.

“We aren’t trained for that.” he replied.

Duke shrugged. “We’ll just do it the way they do on TV and movies. Should be simple enough.” Frost sighed, but relented on it.

They rested behind the boulder for the day, taking shifts on who went to sleep just in case they were about to be uncovered. Once it was night again, they moved back into the village.

The Pararescuemen made a beeline for the main house, careful not to get too close to any other buildings on the way there. They made sure to stick to the shadows as they closed in. “We’re going in through the front.” Duke ordered. If they didn't find what they wanted, then they would go for the horse guy.

“Roger.” Frost moved forward, ahead of Duke, and got right up to the doorway. But it wasn’t a door, it was just a curtain. “Guess there’s no breach and clear.” Frost commented, moving aside the curtain. There was no man or horse inside. Duke came up behind. “Clear.” Frost said very quietly. They moved in.

Both men had their weapons aimed forward as they cleared each room in the house in their search. Each room was clear; the owners must have been in bed already. Frost keyed his radio. “Boss, I got-” There was a loud thumping from upstairs. Frost sighed in the kitchen. “Boss, we got thump-thump.”

Duke went silent. “Thump-thump?” he asked in seriousness.

Frost nodded. “Thump-thump.” More silence.

“Alright, we’ll check for a basement now.” Frost nodded to himself and went back the way he came. There was no basement.

He met back up with Duke. “You find a basement?” Duke shook his head slowly. Both men sighed. “Alright.” Duke looked at the his weapon, the only thing in his hands. “You find any intel?” he asked. Frost shook his head. Both men sighed again. “Alright. Upstairs we go.” They moved toward the staircase that they remembered led to the kids’ room, then found the other and moved up. Slowly and silently, they moved up. “Stack up.” Frost got behind Duke and prepared for the breach.

“GO!” They stormed into the room, taking either side. The stallion’s and mare’s heads shot to the side to find out who was bursting into the room. Before they could respond, Frost ran up and socked the stallion in the side of his head with his HK416, knocking back on the bed. The mare started screaming, but was quickly shut up when Duke pointed his MP7 at her and said in a low, menacing voice, “Shut it.” She went silent. he walked over to her. “You will remain silent.” He turned; Frost was standing on the side of the stallion, keeping him on the floor where he fell to after being bashed in the face. They nodded to each other.

“Alright.” Frost said. The stallion struggled very weakly under his boot. “Do you speak English?” The stallion looked up at him.

“It not English; it Equish.”

Frost blinked, then looked to Duke. He shrugged. Turning his attention back to the stallion, Frost put more weight on his foot. “Fine. Whatever.” He motioned for Duke to give him the picture, and when it was tossed to him, he snatched it up and put it before the stallion. “Where is this man?” The stallion studied the photo for a moment, then narrowed his eyes. “You took the camera.” Frost nodded. “Where is he?”

The stallion snorted. “He is not here.” he stated. “We never took him, if that is what you imply.” Frost put more weight down.

“Then why do you have this camera?” Duke tossed him the camera, which Frost put right into the stallion’s face.

Again, he snorted. “He gave it as payment for helping.”

Frost looked to Duke, who narrowed his eyes in thought. Frost took the moment to let him think. “Explain it.” The stallion cleared his throat before starting.

“He said he landed here, not a place that he was supposed to land in. He asked how to get back to America, wherever that is. We told him we help, and he offered the camera as payment.”

Frost pulled out the lighter. “And this?” The stallion looked at it.

“I don’t know what that item is.” Frost lit a flame.

“Ah. That must be what he used to smoke.” So he was a smoker. “Please get off. I will help you find him.” Frost looked back to Duke. He nodded, and Frost got off.

Frost moved back alongside Duke, both being right next to the window if things went wrong. The stallion stood, then looked to the mare. “Wait downstairs. Make tea.” The mare nodded and walked away, looking frightfully to Duke and Frost. Horses are flight animals, after all. “This ‘man’ you are looking for was here. Now he is not. We sent him to our leaders for help.”

Duke looked outside. “I thought you were the leader of the village.” The stallion nodded.

“Yes. But not of the country.” He looked to both men, then continued. “Our leaders can show him a way home, we believe. If not them, others, maybe. Either way, he is gone.”

Duke stepped forward. “Alright.” He looked to Frost, then back. “Take us to your leaders.”

Frost started cracking up, but the stallion clearly didn't understand why. “What is funny?” he asked.

Frost waved a dismissive hand up. “Nothing, nothing. You were telling us..?” The stallion gave him an unsure look, then turned to Duke, who was still serious.

“We will take you there in the morning. But if I may ask,” He waited for confirmation. When there was no response, he continued. “Why are you looking for him?” Duke looked to Frost, who shrugged. Your call boss.

“He’s a buddy of ours, and some friends want him to come home.” The stallion looked fairly unconvinced.

“I thought he might be a criminal, with how you treated me and my wife.” Neither man made any motion to apologize. “But I suppose I will take your word for it.”

He walked over to the staircase. “Come.” he ordered. Frost and Duke walked on, wary of the potential for a hostile situation. They broke into this guy’s house and assaulted him and his wife. He might be really into honor fighting, or something. “My wife makes tea.” They exited the room.

They went downstairs and through all of the rooms to the kitchen. Through each room, the two men were scanning to check for the wife, in case she decided to attack. They heard her in the kitchen. “هو الشاي جاهز؟” he asked his wife as they all entered. She replied by bringing a tray of tea and cups with biscuits to the table. “شكرا لك.” The stallion turned to them. “Do you mind if she is with us?” The men shook their heads and sat. “Thank you.” The mare sat. “Might I ask why you have so very many things with you?” the stallion asked.

The men looked at each other. “Gear. For our jobs.” The short answer was all the stallion needed to hear.

“Ah. I see. And what are your names?” Frost sipped his tea.


“Duke.” the stallion nodded. “How about yours?” He looked to the two men, one at a time, as if gauging how he should respond. “Afaf.” The men nodded, glad to at least know the name of their apparent host.

They all sat there silently after exchanging names, sipping their tea cautiously, watching each other. Frost decided to try to break the awkward silence with a simple conversation. “How is it that you have electricity, but no way of generating electricity?” Afaf looked at him with a raised eyebrow for a moment, but his expression seemed to become understanding rapidly.

“Ah. The other man wondered this. We have magic.” Frost and Duke blinked, looked at each other, and blinked again.

“What?” Afaf repeated himself. “I thought I heard you right.” Afaf took the last sip from his tea.

“The other man had the same reaction. We cannot explain; it just is. You do not have magic?” Duke and Frost shook their heads. Afaf nodded slowly, like he was trying to puzzle together some great conundrum. “Ah. I see. Then how do you have your things?”

Duke set his cup down. “We use technology and innovation.” Afaf nodded again.

They sat in silence once again, neither party thinking of any way for them to talk without ultimately ending up in silence again. “The other man said he worked for the CIA.” Afaf’s wife suddenly stated. “Do you work for Princess Celestia of Equestria?”

Duke cocked his eyebrow and leaned back in his chair, folding his arms. “No, we don’t.” He leaned back forward. “Who is Celestia?” The mare blinked twice, then looked to her husband, who seemed to give the all clear for her to explain.

“Well, she and her sister Luna are the rulers of Equestria, a nation to the west. We share a long border with them, and do much business with them.” She went on to explain the government, economy, and society of this neighboring state. “And a long time ago, they assisted us in our troubles against the Griffon insurgents.”

Frost’s ears perked up. “Insurgents? In Saddle Arabia?” The mare nodded, not sure why it was so significant. “Boss, this world might be more like ours than one would think.”

Duke nodded and shut his eyes for a moment. “Yep.”

Duke decided that it was time to stop hoping for the conversation to take a new turn. “So, this man, he said that he’s CIA?” Afaf and his wife nodded. “And can you tell us anything about him?”

Afaf looked to his wife, who shrugged at him. “Well,” he began. “He was a very good guest. Polite. Smoked outside. Great with our little ones. He said that he dropped into some place called Pakistan to find insurgents. We just assumed that that was his name for Saddle Arabia.”

Duke put his elbows on the table. “I can tell you now, it isn’t. Pakistan is a country that is far away from here.”

Afaf nodded, and continued with his explanation. “Ah. Okay. Well, anyhow, we thought that he would help us with our current insurgent problem. The Griffons have returned to cause trouble. Equestria helps as much as it can, but we fear that that may not be enough. When your friend said he was CIA, we thought that meant Celestial Intervention Agency. Celestia’s secret group of spies and whatnot. We sent him to our leader, King Sauri. We thought that he would help with the troubles.”

Duke and Frost took this all in with grim faces. They were hoping to simply locate OGA, nab him, and get out. They weren’t expecting to end up in some other world and having to avoid getting involved with their terrorist problems. “Is something troubling you?” Afaf’s wife asked.

“No, we’re fine.” Frost lied. He leaned into Duke’s ear. “Boss, we might have to keep our jobs a secret. If they find out about them, this could end badly.”

Duke nodded. “I know.” They refocused on the horses on front of them. “Alright. In the morning, when we go to see this King Sauri, we’ll ask him about our friend.” Afaf nodded. “Good. Now that that is done, let us all get some rest.” He stood up. “You may sleep anywhere on this level. Good night.” The Pararescuemen nodded as Afaf and his wife walked away and went upstairs.

A few minutes after the master of the house left, Frost and Duke got up and walked around slowly, looking for a relatively comfortable place to sleep. “Boss, I don’t like this.” Frost commented. Duke nodded grimly. “If they have him, or know where he is, we might be forced to take him back by force. For one reason or another.”

Duke sighed. “I know.” he replied. This was all getting too weird for him. “Let’s just try to get some rest for now. We’ll be moving out early, I’ll bet.” They went into what looked like a living room with a couch and a nice carpet. Duke took the couch and Frost took the floor.

“Why do you get the couch?” Frost asked in mock resentment.

“Because I’m the officer.”

Frost lay down and looked up at the ceiling, to the light with no electricity. “How did you become an officer?” he asked. Duke shifted on the couch and looked up as well.

“I went to the Air Force Academy.” He sat up and tossed off his parachute, prompting Frost to do the same. “I boxed there. It’s how I got the name Duke.” Frost thought about his own past while he listened. “I had been planning on flying an F-22, but unfortunately, they weren’t accepting any more pilots into that program. The F-35 was available, but I just failed the initial test to get into one. Probably would have failed the F-22 test too. So I looked into the programs that favored people who were extremely physically fit, and I saw Pararescue. So that’s how I got here.”

Frost nodded. “Cool.” He was quiet for a moment. “What did your family think of it?”

Duke breathed in deep. “My dad was proud, but my mom was afraid. Still, they supported me. We stay in touch.” Duke’s head rolled over and his eyes lazily drifted over. “How about you?”

Frost scratched his chin. “Well, I went to college. But not with any help from my family.” Duke looked over and raised an eyebrow. “My dad was a jerk, and my mother was a drunk. I don’t think I was on purpose.” He sat up to make it easier to talk. “My dad was always trying to smack me around, saying that I thought I was better than him.” He smirked. “Even if it was true.” Duke chuckled.

“I got good grades and was decent at running. Using that, I was able to get a scholarship to Fordham University. That was like a slap to the teeth for my father, who never even completed High School.” Frost pulled out the lighter and flicked it open and closed. Clink. Clink. “He hated me for that. So I just kept on doing well, and I didn’t go home for summers. I would still mail my parents my transcripts, though. Just to screw with them.” Duke was actually laughing now. He had no idea why it was so funny. “My father said that I would still never amount to anything. In response, I went to enlist in the Air Force, you know, get out of contact with him. The recruiter told me about Pararescue, so I signed up. Be the best, just to spite my father.” Clink.

“But it wound up being about more than that afterward. Before I shipped off to training, I kept seeing images of people being injured and dying around the world. I thought, ‘This world may have given me my father, but it gave me a lot to make up for it. Time to even the debt.’ So, I decided that I would do it for the people.”

He flicked open the lighter and this time, he lit a flame. He closed it quickly. “But the best moment of all was when my mother contacted me for the last time. I expected her to be calling me to ask for money or just her being in a drunken fit. But she was sober.” he turned around. “You know what she said?” Duke shook his head slowly.

“Bad things?”

Frost laughed. “No. She said how proud she was of me. How sorry she was that she hadn’t been there. At first, I thought she was lying to get me on her good side. But then,” He took in a deep, rattly breath. “She told me that she wanted me to go out and save the world. Be the man my father never could be. And that if I never came home, as long as I was saving people, it was fine. Just so long as I kept making her proud to be MY mother.” His voice got a little shaky, and his eyes watered a little. “I don’t have anyone else back home, really. She’s the only one who cared about me. And I’ll probably never see her again for a long time.”

Duke sat up, and looked to his partner. “You know, we may be new to each other, but I care for you, like you care for me. You’ll always have someone at your back.”

Frost looked over. “We might die,” Duke began their personal variation of the Pararescuemen’s motto.

“so That others may live.” Both men smiled. “Good night.” Frost said. They both laid down.

“And don’t let the creepers bite.” Duke chuckled as he heard Frost scrambling around on the ground.

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