• 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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Meeting the Team

Meeting the Team

The men awoke easily enough, though neither was looking forward to this day. As they got up, they stretched themselves out and did some minor exercises; push-ups, curl-ups, squats. It felt good to the men to warm up for the day.

While they did that, Amel was still sleeping peacefully in her little zone. Frost glanced over to her, then looked outside to the bright, rising sun.

“It’s wakeup time,” he said with a grin. He hop-squatted over to the border between the men’s area and hers and squatted down low. Duke watched, confused but interested, wondering what kind of spectacle this would turn out to be.

Frost leapt up into the air like a frog and got his hands up on top of the shade. Duke was impressed by the jump; he knew that he probably couldn’t get quite that high off of nothing. Frost’s impressive display didn’t last, though. Before he could get his leg over the wall, he came crashing down on it, groin first, letting out a pained grunt as his full body weight went down on the wooden frame of the shade.

The shade completely collapsed and sent Frost rolling several feet away from it. With all the noise, Amel shot upright in her bed, which confused Duke, and she hurriedly scanned her surroundings. When she saw Frost on the floor, clearly in pain, she rushed out of bed and ran to him.

“Are you okay?” she asked, helping him up. At first, Frost didn’t answer, just groaned. “سيد Frost?” she asked. Frost nodded his answer and smiled at her.

“Thank you.” he said as he gently pushed her away so he could stand on his own. “I’m good.” His voice was strained and a bit higher than usual.

Duke started clapping, getting both his companions to look over at him. “Truly an amazing display of acrobatics there, Frost. You should have gone to the Olympics for it. Really.” Frost looked at him dryly, seemingly unamused, but he couldn’t hide the tiny smirk on his face.

Frost went and sat down on his bed, regaining his composure, and tried to forget his failed attempt at waking Amel in his own way. “So, boss,” he began. “We have to fight for these guys now.”

Duke went over to the pile and pulled his weapon out of it. “Yeah. We do.” They were both silent for a moment. “We’ll still be discussing our terms, though. We don’t have to all out fight for them. Our main concern is OGA; so that’s always our primary objective.”

Frost nodded. “Yeah.” He looked at Amel, who was just sitting silently on her hind end, listening. “You understand any of this?” he asked.

Amel looked to her savior, startled, then said, “No, I no understand.” she said, almost with a shameful tone. “Is that good?”

Frost shrugged. “I suppose. It doesn’t matter so much to me; you’d have to ask the boss.”

Amel turned to Duke, who was checking various parts of his MP7, and questioned him with her eyes. “What?” he asked. She just looked at him. “I don’t care. Once we’re done, it won’t matter any more. Probably.” He watched Amel’s face become a little bit happier, and he couldn’t help but wonder if he should try to keep the whole thing out of her head. But that was something to think about later.

They finished talking, and now, it was about half past seven. Any minute, there would probably be a guard delivering food to them. They could have just left, but they weren’t sure if Sauri had yet told his men to let them wander. He had said that he would inform the guard, but that could mean anything. It could mean that they were told the night before, or it could mean they would be told when a deal was met.

A series of knocks on the door answered the question. Duke set his weapon down and walked over and opened the door a little bit, just enough to get a look at the guard’s face. One can’t be too careful.

“Yes?” he asked. “What brings you here?”

The guard’s eyes widened just a little bit when he saw Duke. Duke didn’t recognize him. “Umm, I was told to tell you that you’re free to move about the palace now, sir.” Duke raised his eyebrow at being called sir, unsure of exactly why he was just called ‘sir’. “King Sauri figured that you would want to eat breakfast in the dining room.”

Duke nodded. “Thank you.” he replied. “We’ll be there shortly to get some food. We can find our own way.” The guard nodded quickly, then turned and walked away.

Duke shut the door and turned back to Frost, who now had Amel next to him. He sounded like he was trying to teach her better English. “Alright!” he said as he clapped his hands together. Frost looked up, but Amel kept her eyes down. “Time for chow. Let’s move.” Frost got up to follow Duke, but Amel remained where she was.

Duke looked straight at her. “You coming?” he asked. Amel looked up at him, an expression of horror on her face. “Are you coming?” he asked again, much slower.

She blinked twice, trying to respond. “A peasant is not allowed in the palace! Definitely not the guest’s dining hall!” she shouted.

Duke covered his left ear and replied, “Well, I don’t think that they’ll mind. If they want our help, anyway. Right Frost?”

Frost nodded. “Yeah, you’ll be fine. Just come on- we’re gonna be late for food!” He turned around and walked off. Duke turned, but looked at Amel one last time before leaving. She took that as the cue to come along, and ran up behind Duke.

“Just stick with us.” he said, setting his hand on the back of her neck. “God knows we’ll want as many friends present as possible for this.”

They walked into the dining room unsure of what to expect. They thought that, because this room was for guests, that it would be less decorated than the rest of the palace. Instead, they found themselves in a massive chamber with an eyeful of bright, shiny, lavishly unnecessary dining utensils. All of them were silver, from the looks of it, and the goblets and cups all had some sorts of jewels in them. The table itself looked like it was made of jade, and the cushions where the horses and ponies sat were all a very dark shade of purple with gold embroidery and lining.

The men had been expecting to see King Sauri, maybe, or some of his higher ranking stallions. They had assumed that this was where the discussion would take place. It was not at all that. There was no sign of the King or any officials while they walked in.

“I wonder where the king’s at?” Frost said aloud to no one. Duke looked around, curious as well as to the whereabouts of the king.

A guard trotted over to them. “Hello, humans.” he greeted stoically. His voice took a turn south, though. “And friend of humans.” He was looking straight at Amel, who cowered behind Frost, and who in turn moved to be between her and the guard.

“Hello,” Duke replied. “You got anything to tell us about today?” he asked.

The guard nodded. “Yes. The King shall see you some time after you have eaten breakfast and seen some of the palace. He wishes for you to have time to enjoy yourselves before discussing your business.” He turned around and went to leave the room. “You will be allowed to go where you will, within reason, and you may come here to eat any time.” With that, he left.

Duke watched the guard as he exited the room, partly suspicious of the king and partially thankful for the spare time. When he turned around, Frost and Amel were already sitting down at the table getting food. Frost had to order for Amel, since the servants in the palace refused to serve her directly. Duke ignored the small display of overt arrogance and sat down to order his own food.

They all ate in relative silence, Frost and Duke thinking about their terms and Amel simply being tired. Frost wondered about what this war would be like. “They don’t exactly have guns.” he thought. “So fighting these griffons can’t be that hard. But,” he looked at Amel. “if they’re going after civilians, that could make things more complicated.”

What conditions should I give Sauri?” he wondered. “I have to make sure that Amel sticks with us. Speaking their language, she might be helpful. She’ll also help carry our stuff around.” He decided that he would have to be sure to mention her in his terms. “I’m sure that Duke can take care of operational talk.”

And he planned to. Duke thought hard about that while he ate. “Our primary goal is to find OGA. We don’t care about anything else. We fight in their war, they help us to find him. But what will fighting entail?” He considered this. “We might have to actually fight, which is almost out of the question. We aren’t exactly infantry, so we’ll have to point that out somehow.

Before him was a cut of meat, which he sliced into slowly and chewed slowly as he continued thinking. “Just gotta be careful on that one.” he figured. “Part of the deal could be that we’ll provide first aid on missions, though we don’t know equine anatomy. That makes things tougher. Maybe we’ll just go on special operations or something? Seems like a possibility.

Both men gave their thoughts a bit more time before finishing with them, as well as with their food. Once they were finished, they were about to get up when Amel said, “Wait!” The two men looked at her and, with a sheepish expression, she asked, “Can I have some more time to eat?”

Duke looked at Frost, and Frost at Duke. Frost shrugged and waved for Duke to head on out. He would wait for her to finish. Duke nodded curtly and exited the room.

He turned right as soon as he was out of the doorway and decided that he would explore. He had been given permission to go through the palace areas, within reason, so he decided that he would do just that. Unfortunately, he and Frost had left their comms back up in their room, so if one needed the other, it would be hard to find them. Deciding that it wasn’t too important at the moment, Duke went on his merry way.

He figured that he would actually just go back to the garden; it seemed like a peaceful enough place for the moment. After everything that had been going on, Duke was looking for a nice place to just sit down and relax for a moment. Being stressed out, mentally or physically, never helps anything.

The walk to the garden was short, and he needed directions a couple of times, but once he was there, he finally felt himself relax a bit. Earlier, he had spotted a bench that looked like something he could sit on, so he walked around looking for it. After a few minutes, he found it next to the fountain and sat down.

“Ahhh,” he released as he leaned back. He remembered learning at the Air Force how preexisting stress can adversely affect flight skills. Duke always figured that it applied to all things, especially Special Operations, so he always kept it in mind and did his best to remain relaxed. As of yet, he had never once lost his cool in battle.

His brief respite was short-lived, though. He heard the hoofsteps of a guard wearing metal horseshoes approaching. “What are you doing here, human?” Duke turned around to face the distinctly male voice. The stallion who had approached him from behind the fountain was huge; one could see the muscles rippling through his body. The armor he wore was different from the others, too; it was clearly metal, but there was a slight difference between it and silver.

Duke sat back up. “So much for any relaxing.” he thought. “I’m sitting. What are you doing?” he asked.

“I’m making sure no one tresspasses in the royal palace.” he answered gruffly. “And you’re doing just that. You have to leave.”

Duke stood up a little bit, remaining totally calm. “I understand that you’re just doing your job, but I assure you that I’m allowed here. The king said that he told the guards about our status.”

The guard frowned. “Well, I was never told. Nor would I care. You aren’t any kind of noble; you aren’t allowed in the palace. Now, you have to leave.”

Duke was starting to get annoyed, but reined himself in and kept it under control. “Actually, I don’t. But I will if it means avoiding conflict with potential allies.” He turned around. “I’m going to go meet my partner and bring him to our room where we’ll wait for the king to call for us.”

The guard snickered. “Yeah, I’m sure that you and your ‘partner’ are gonna be fine waiting up there on your own.” Duke ignored the comment and walked off.

He walked back to the room in haste, not wanting to run into any other guards like that one. If he did, he wouldn’t be surprised if it escalated and became a fight. No doubt he would have the upper hand, but he couldn’t risk getting hurt. Or hurting any of them.

He got back quickly and entered hurriedly, shutting the door behind him as he entered. “‘Sup boss?” came an unexpected greeting from Frost inside the room. Duke turned and saw him and Amel sitting on the bed, seemingly going over letters on a piece of paper. “What made you hurry so much?”

Duke walked over to his bed and sat down, releasing a very slightly frustrated sigh as he sat. “I ran into a guard who was too aggressive for his own good. I just left him, though. Can’t risk starting something.” Frost nodded at this and turned back to Amel.

The following hour was spent by Frost teaching Amel the different letters. She picked up quickly, already having some understanding of English, and she was getting the hang of English grammar. Frost had to spend extra time explaining the whole thing with two t’s and why it was necessary, as well as with some other letters, like r and l. It was going well enough.

Duke sat off to the side listening to the lessons, occasionally interjecting his own tidbits of information. Mostly, though, he just sat and thought about the meeting with Sauri. He wondered about how large this conflict really was, and how severe involvement might get. If it was too big, He and Frost would have to just find OGA and get out; to risk extended time in an all out war-zone is a dangerous endeavor for any soldier.

Three knocks sounded at the door. Allowing Frost to continue with Amel, Duke stood up and walked over to open the door. “Yes?” he asked as he opened it.

Outside the door was a young looking guard, if Duke had any ability to guess age here. He looked pretty nervous, but still somehow sure of himself. “The King is ready to see you in the War Room.” When Duke just looked at him, the guard continued. “The room behind the throne room.”

Duke nodded. “Alright. We’ll be there soon. Tell him we thank him for sending someone for us.” The young guard smiled and nodded, then trotted off to deliver Duke’s message. “Alright, Frost!” he shouted. Frost stood up at the ready. “Let’s go. You,” He pointed at Amel. “Come along.” Amel hopped up, confused, but followed her orders and went along.

The men ignored the looks that their little group was getting through the halls, but Amel was clearly uncomfortable. While Duke and Frost were standing up straight, Amel had her head sunk down, looking at the floor. Some of the guards looked displeased with the humans as they walked through the halls, but most were silently watching in a state of semi-awe. The trip was awkward to say the least.

They entered the throne room and walked right through unopposed, and then went behind the throne. One of the guards stopped Amel. “You cannot go past here, peasant.” he said. “Only the humans.”

Frost turned around and looked at Amel’s terrified expression. “We need her present.” he explained. “She’s going to be a part of this.” The guard looked back at Frost, his stance unchanged. “If you don’t let her come with us, we don’t have to stay.” Reluctantly, the guard allowed for Amel to pass, and they all made their way to the War Room.

Inside the war room, the King awaited with a group of other stallions, all wearing dark gray armor. As the men entered, he saw them and announced, “أنها قد وصلت!” He turned to the stallions. “هذه هي البشر التي سوف تعمل مع.” They all nodded and looked at the humans and mare, faces stoic and stark.

Duke approached the king and extended his hand. “Glad to see you, King Sauri.” he greeted. Sauri took his hand and shook. “I trust that we can talk without any interruption?”

Sauri nodded. “Of course. I don’t think that this will take too long, though. My terms, at least, are quite simple.”

Duke smiled and nodded. “I hope that ours are too.”

Sauri released Duke’s hand and pointed to two cushions on the ground. “Shall we?”


King Sauri sat down opposite of the two cushions and clapped his hooves together. In the next moment, several cups of tea, more than three, were brought out. When one was offered to Duke and then Frost, both men accepted and drank as they sat. Amel set herself down behind them.

“Alright. Who goes first?” Frost asked. He didn’t want to sound impatient, but this needed to get done soon.

Sauri sipped his tea and spoke. “I shall, I suppose.”

Duke nodded. “Alright. What are your terms, exactly?” he asked, gently holding his cup of tea in his hands and bringing it to his mouth.

“Well,” Sauri began. “My terms, as I said, are simple; you help us to fight these enemies, and we shall help you find your friend. OGA, was he?” Duke and Frost nodded. “Good. You would have to fight in our war to find him anyway, so why not kill two griffons with one stone?”

Duke and Frost ignored the analogy as the king continued. “You will fight alongside us, and if need be, you will help our stallions to prepare for battle with some training if necessary. Looking at you and the items you brought, you don’t come across as normal soldiers.”

He sipped his tea while he gauged the reactions of the men. There was no reaction. The king went on. “I do not know enough to say what exactly you might do, but I can tell that you aren’t normal. Whatever you typically do, that will be your main job in the fighting.”

Duke looked to Frost, who nodded. “Alright,” Frost began. “What we do is Combat Search and Rescue. We go in quietly to rescue people from combat zones if they’re injured, soldiers or civilians. We also go in with special teams when they think they might need a medical specialist.”

Sauri nodded, apparently interested in the unique specialization. “Good, good. We will give you your roles according to that.” He finished his tea and looked at the men, then Amel, who shrunk down. “I also believe that you will want to talk about your little friend. I have heard about the encounters that some of my guards have had with you about her.”

Duke remained still, but Frost looked back at Amel, almost like he was making sure she was still there. “It is not normal that we allow peasants here, I can assure you. It makes me feel... uncomfortable. But I will allow it for you if it will help us to be friends.”

Frost looked to Duke, a little surprised at the king’s words, then back to the king. “Yes, that will be acceptable.” He looked to Duke again, who nodded. “We find your terms adequate.”

Duke leaned forward. “Now we’ll name ours?” The king nodded. “Alright. Our first term, since we already took care of Amel, is that we will only help you until we get OGA or find him dead. And if he leaves your nation, we will follow him and make an agreement with whatever other nation we come across.”

Sauri frowned very slightly, barely enough to notice. He didn’t look overly excited about that. “Hmmm...” He considered it carefully. “Well, I suppose that your words make sense. It will be sad, though, to lose your help. It is acceptable.”

Duke nodded. “Second. Frost and I operate in a pair. We’ll work with your men, but we never get separated unless we say so.” The king nodded. “Good. Also, your men are to NEVER touch our things unless we give the okay. They’re dangerous items, and-”

Sauri chuckled. “Believe me, I have heard about such weapons. I don’t think my stallions will handle them.”

“Umm... good.” The men were just as happy to hear that. “Well, one left. If we deem a mission too dangerous or risky, we don’t go. We have enough experience to know suicide missions when we see them.”

The king considered it for a moment, then nodded. “Very well. It will save my stallions from harm, I suppose.” He breathed in deep and asked, “Are we in agreement?”

The men both nodded after exchanging glances. “Very good!” the king shouted. he had been holding in his breath. “Now, I am sure that you would like to meet the stallions that you should be working with the most.”

The King stood up and spun around to his stallions in gray armor. “في الأمام والوسط!” he shouted, and they all rushed forward. Duke and Frost stood up and walked forward, an incredibly intimidated Amel following right behind.

King Sauri stood off to the side. “These are my best soldiers.” he said. He started from the closest to him, all the way to the left of the men. “This is Abud, then Abir, Akin, Kashif, Nasr, and the captain, Nedal Nibamaso.”

Duke looked at each one, but stopped when he saw the captain. “He can’t be.” he thought. Upon closer inspection, he could and would, in fact, be. “We meet again.” Duke said as he stepped up to the captain.

Nedal was the same guard that had been such a nuisance to him earlier. “We do.” He sneered at Duke. “It appears that we will be working together.”

Duke shook his head. “Not together.” he said. “We’ll be in the shadows while you do your thing. We won’t be together for any time that counts.” Now, it was Duke’s turn to sneer as the guard captain let out a frustrated growl.

“Calm yourself, Nedal.” Sauri ordered. Like a military dog, he instantly hushed himself up, but still could not hide his displeasement. “You will go alongside these stallions for your missions, but your goals will be different.” He turned to his men. “These men are our allies. Do not detriment them in any way. And listen to what they have to say; it might be of value to you.”

King Sauri walked over to the table. “Come. We already have a mission planned.” He made a motion with his foreleg encouraging his stallions to join him, and everyone was around the table. Frost had to keep his hand on Amel’s shoulder to get her to move along.

“This valley is permeated with the Griffon menace.” Sauri began for the men. Evidently, the others had already gotten the intel. “They have my subjects hostage, which I don’t appreciate. They are mine; not theirs. These stallions will attack from the front and sides to take the town.” He pointed at a map on the table of the AO, indicating where each group would go. “You will need to enter from behind quietly to free my subjects.”

Duke halted it. “And what relevance does this have to OGA?” he asked. “He’s our main concern.”

Sauri nodded. “My spies, who have unfortunately been found out and killed, before they died, sent me information on a strange being that was held here. It was what drew my attention in the first place, and why I had to push back our meeting. It might be your OGA.”

Duke nodded, and behind him, Frost breathed in deep and slow as he took in the information. If all went well, they could be home pretty soon. “Sounds good.” Frost said from behind. “What’s the opposition look like?” he asked.

Sauri went back to the map. “Well, we know that the enemy force is significant, but with your weapons, they will be no detriment to you. My stallions here will have small trouble, but nothing they can’t handle. It isn’t exactly a fortified base of theirs.”

Duke nodded and stepped back from the table, over to where Frost stood. “Sounds fine to me. We’ll go on this mission.”

Sauri smiled widely and held his head high. “رائع!” he exclaimed. “Ready yourselves. You will leave tomorrow morning, and will likely arrive at nightfall. That is when you must strike.” He turned to his men. “So please, rest yourselves, and prepare for the journey.”

The men nodded and left for their room with Amel. Once there, the men set about preparing themselves for their mission.

Inside, Amel went over to her zone and sat down, fidgeting about. Frost noticed this and walked over to her. “Something on your mind?” he asked.

She looked up at him with fearful eyes. “You will be gone tomorrow.” she stated matter-of-factly. “While you are gone, who will keep me here? I have nothing to prove that I am to be here...”

Frost sat before her. “No worries. You’ll be fine. They can’t make you leave, King Sauri said that he’s fine with you being here. You won’t leave.” He looked at Duke, who was preparing his things. “Remain in the room if possible. Whenever you have to leave, take the beds and set them perpendicular to the wall.” She was lost on that word. “Ummm, set them so that the pillows go against the wall. Whenever you come back, reset them to the way they are now.”

Amel was confused. “I do not get it. Why will that help?” she asked.

“If they make you leave when you aren’t in this room, and you aren’t here when we return, the beds will tell us. If they’re perpendicular, we’ll know that you were sent away. If not, we’ll know that you’re still here. And we’ll find you, either way.”

With Frost’s reassuring words, Amel gave him a soft smile and shut her eyes. “Thank you.” she said.

Frost ruffled her mane, making it messier than it already was. “Don’t mention it.” he said. When he removed his hand, it felt odd, so he sniffed it. “Whoah.” he said, sending his hand away. “No offense, but if you ever get a chance to take a bath here, please, do.” Amel blushed a little and giggled.

Frost stood up and went back to preparing his gear for the op. “Yo, boss.” he called. “You ready to fight these griffons, which only the ancient Greeks claim to have fought?”

Duke slid a magazine into his MP7 without chambering a round. “I wish.”

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