UNTITLED (Soarin) by Trente-Neuf

Dec 17th, 2016
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  1. >A loose piece of paper tumbles across the pavement.
  2. >For one second, it is the sole thing you focus on.
  3. >Not the oppressively dense fog.
  4. >Not the line of filthy people, yourself included, waiting for the line to move, if only just a tiny bit.
  5. >Not the heavily-armed, armored police keeping watch of the crowd gathered in front of the ration depot.
  6. >It's cold, being late fall, and your shabby jacket has no chance of keeping out the wind.
  7. >The surgical mask over your face has no chance of keeping out the sickness, either.
  8. >You try to quell a shiver, and burrow your hands a little deeper into your pockets.
  9. >You take a deep breath, and attempt to keep your thoughts away from the fact that they might run out of food before you even reach the entrance.
  10. >They have before.
  11. >You feel a tap on your shoulder.
  12. >"The line is moving ahead, keep going,"
  13. >The guard to your left addresses you in an irritated tone.
  14. >You don't need to see the expression behind his gas mask know that he's losing his patience.
  15. >You begin to take the few steps that mark the advancement of the line.
  16. >Then things start to go fuzzy.
  17. >"Hey!"
  18. >"Come on, wake up!"
  19. >Wait what?
  20. >"Wake up, we're here!"
  21. >Your eyes snap open as your dream of a time long past dissolves around you.
  22. >The plagues are over, and there's enough food that everyone can get by.
  23. >What more concerns you now is getting yourself a slave.
  24. >"Fell asleep on the bus, now did ya?"
  25. >That you did.
  26. "Great. Are we at the auction house already?"
  27. >You rub your eyes and step into the aisle.
  28. >"Yep,"
  29. >The guy sitting next to you hands you your coat, which you left on the seat.
  30. >The bus door squeaks open and you exit the vehicle.
  31. >You enter the local civic center where the auction is taking place.
  32. >Most towns host them like this, they're a decent source of funding.
  33. >With the war over, and so much of the population lost, enslavement of the ponies actually got enough support to pass through congress.
  34. >With a little bit of corporate nudging, mind you.
  35. >The man at the desk approves your papers, and you enter into the correct room.
  36. >You eye the ponies on display.
  37. >They all look kind of scared, but you have to suppress a chuckle at how terrified that yellow one looks.
  38. >Blue, rainbow-hair one looks like a bitch.
  39. >Mint-green unicorn? Maybe...
  40. >The big red earth pony doesn't look like he'd be good for anything other than farmwork.
  41. >Hmm...
  42. >You take a look at the others, too, but can't seem to make up your mind.
  43. >More people file in as the bidding begins.
  44. >First up is some earth pony mare, fetching an alright price.
  45. >You decide not to bid that time, and instead examine the ones in line to be sold.
  46. >Still don't have much of an idea as to which one you want.
  47. >They pull out the yellow pegasus you saw earlier.
  48. >You'd bid, but she seems timid as fuck.
  49. >Not the type of slave that belongs with you.
  50. >"Going once... Going twice... Sold to the man in the back corner!"
  51. >She's dragged away in tears.
  52. >Next up is a purple unicorn.
  53. >You bid twice, but stop after the price gets to be more than $1500.
  54. >It's a shame, telekinesis would have been handy for the job were looking to fill.
  55. >Looking back to the ponies in line, a light blue pegasus stallion with a darker mane catches your attention.
  56. >Might just be who you're looking for.
  57. >You're sure he's strong enough to move equipment around the boat.
  58. >Doesn't look too fucking dense, either.
  59. >You'll go for him.
  60. >He is led up after a couple more purchases, giving a weary look into the crowd with his green eyes.
  61. >You've got just about $3000 in your wallet, and you'll damn well spend it all to get the pone you want.
  62. >Bids start at $500.
  63. >One clueless fuck dooms himself to losing by wanting the same thing that you do.
  64. >"I'll go 500!"
  65. >Some other shitwad raises it to 600.
  66. >The first guy retorts:
  67. >"Six-fifty!"
  68. >You watch as they slowly raise the bid.
  69. >"Seven-eighty-five!"
  70. >"Eight hundred!"
  71. >"830!"
  72. >You decide to butt in.
  73. "One thousand!"
  74. >One of the two guys gives up, probably out of money.
  75. >But this other motherfucker...
  76. >"Fifteen-hundred!"
  77. >Oh no you don't.
  78. "Seventeen-fifty!"
  79. >He hesitates for a second.
  80. >"$2000,"
  81. >He looks desperate, $2000 must be close to all he has.
  82. "Twenty-two-fifty,"
  83. >"Going once..."
  84. >You smirk.
  85. >"Going twice..."
  86. >You're getting your pony.
  87. >That's right.
  88. >"$2500, that's all I can offer,"
  89. >Then he isn't getting the goddamn pegasus.
  90. "Three thousand!"
  91. >The auctioneer says his thing, this time uninterrupted.
  92. >"Sold to the guy in the third row, left side, in the black coat!"
  93. >Fuck yes.
  94. >You walk up to the side of the room where a desk is set up.
  95. >You receive his registration, miscellaneous documents you don't care about, and a shock collar.
  96. >One of the guys brings the pony over while the next, the big red guy, is dragged into place.
  97. >The stallion stares at the ground dejectedly as the man hands you his lead.
  98. >"Good choice sir, have a nice day,"
  99. >You look at the pegasus you've just purchased.
  100. >Depressed-looking, but overall not bad for the price you paid.
  101. >You're sure he'll be fine after a while.
  102. "Thank you,"
  103. >You leave the auction house, the pony only lagging slightly behind you.
  104. >He must be just about as tired as you are.
  105. >Stepping onto the curb, you find the bus idling a short distance away.
  106. "So..."
  107. >He slowly raises his head, his eyes dull.
  108. >Damn, he looks sad.
  109. >You forgot what you were going to say.
  110. >Instead, you take a look at one of the sheets of paper the auctioneer gave you.
  111. >It's a basic profile.
  112. >Name: Soarin'
  113. >At least you know his name, now.
  114. >Former Occupation: EUP reservist/show flier
  115. >Interesting...
  116. >Capture: Trottingham, eastern Equestria, by Senegalese Army.
  117. >You never really worked with them, you were on the other front.
  118. >You didn't really get why they put you, partially fluent in French, on the other side of the continent, with a bunch of Brazilians.
  119. >Anyway...
  120. >You continue reading.
  121. >Notes: Slight depression issue.
  122. >Fucking seriously?
  123. >*Slight* depression issue?
  124. >They think they can downplay *that*?
  125. >You look over at Soarin, who is staring sadly at the ground.
  126. >You also realize you've been standing out in the cold for five minutes.
  127. "Hey, you wanna wait on the bus? It's actually got a heater,"
  128. >He glances at you with a weary expression.
  129. >"I guess so,"
  130. >He replies in a gravelly, apathetic voice.
  131. >Yeah, put depression on your list of things you need taken care of.
  133. >Your squad and the Brazilians you are attached with are sitting around a bonfire, getting drunk as fuck.
  134. >Suspended over the fire by a spit is the skinned, sizzling corpse of a royal guard, a unicorn mare.
  135. >You don't care how immoral what you're about to do is, you haven't eaten anything other than meager, heavily processed rations for four years.
  136. >Just the thought of something fresh makes you salivate.
  137. >People saw meat off its body with combat knives in a fashion as orderly as 35 wasted soldiers can muster.
  138. >You get some leg meat and stumble back to the log you were sitting on, taking a bite of the morsel.
  139. >Tastes decent...
  140. >The 20-odd POWs, guarded by a few sober group members, are completely mortified, some crying or retching at what they see.
  141. >The leader of the Brazilian platoon removes the roasted guard's horn with his machete, and gives it to your sergeant.
  142. >A fine souvenir from your time in the Amazon, if you do say so yourself.
  144. >When you open your eyes, you are no longer in the rainforest.
  145. >Nope, you're in bed, at home, and you've put those times behind you.
  146. >People did crazy shit during the war...
  147. >You pull on some decent clothes while thinking about what to make for breakfast.
  148. >Wonder what Soarin would eat?
  149. >You'll just go with cereal.
  150. >Hard to go wrong with that.
  151. >Before you make breakfast, though, you take the tarnished royal guard helmet off your mantle and hide it.
  152. >Don't need Soarin seeing that.
  153. >You also put another picture in front of the one that shows you and your buddies dancing on the ashes of Canterlot.
  154. >You go over to the guest room, now occupied by your pony.
  155. >You locked the door last night, but in his state, you don't think he'll try anything.
  156. >Still, just to be safe, you unlock it as silently as possible, stand to the side of the door, and quickly pry it open.
  157. >He's just sitting there, casually flipping through a magazine.
  158. >No, not *that* kind of magazine, Anons.
  159. >You guys really do have dirty minds.
  160. "Good morning, Soarin,"
  161. >He looks like he's wondering how you know his name, but he rolls with it.
  162. >"Uh, good morning?"
  163. >Yes, he actually says it like there's a question mark at the end of the sentence.
  164. "Feel free to make yourself at home or something. What'd you like for breakfast?"
  165. >He looks at you unsurely and scratches his unkempt mane idly with a hoof.
  166. >"Uh... Well, I guess- uh... What do you have?"
  167. >What do you have?
  168. >Hmm...
  169. >"Let's see... Oatmeal, cereal, toast, maybe some fruit, yogurt, or bagels, if you want,"
  170. >His eyes brighten up slightly at the prospect of real, good-quality food.
  171. >"Toast sounds fine,"
  172. >He does a bad job hiding the slight smile forming on his face.
  173. "Alright, find something to keep yourself occupied, I'll go make breakfast,"
  174. >"Thank you, uh..."
  175. "Anon. My name's Anon,"
  176. >"Yeah, well thanks,"
  177. >He's genuinely happy.
  178. >You walk into your small kitchen.
  179. >It is time for master chef Anon to shine.
  180. >There's a loaf of bread in that drawer... Or so you thought.
  181. >You spend a solid minute searching for the goddamned bread, finally finding it behind the microwave.
  182. >How the fuck it got there, you haven't the slightest clue.
  183. >With your culinary prowess, you burn the toast like it's Ponyville after the firebombings, then manage to completely mangle it while trying to scrape off the burnt parts.
  184. >Comme un artiste.
  185. >While putting it on a plate, you realize you forgot to ask Soarin what he wanted on his toast.
  186. >Ah, fuck it. You're too lazy to ask, so you just go with butter.
  187. >Who doesn't like butter on toast?
  188. >You find Soarin in the living room.
  189. >He doesn't notice you, he's just kind of standing around, looking at the photos on the far wall.
  190. >There are a few ones with family that he glances at, but what catches his attention is one of you in a dress uniform, walking off the ramp of a C-130.
  191. >You still remember that day, finally returning home was nice.
  192. >He turns back to look at you.
  193. "Well, I've got breakfast. Go ahead, take a seat,"
  194. >"Alright,"
  195. >Good to distract him from that subject, you're sure he has bad memories of the war.
  196. >You can talk to him about those later.
  197. >Soarin complies and plops himself down in an armchair.
  198. >You hand him the plate, and he wastes no time digging in.
  199. >Shit, was this pony starved or something?
  200. >Yep, probably.
  201. >He finishes the first piece, and attacks the second one with zeal.
  202. >When he's done, he still looks hungry.
  203. "Yeesh, want something more? I've got more food,"
  204. >He looks up at you, eyes wide.
  205. >"I can have more food?"
  206. >Yep, those slavers sure do a shit job of feeding their ponies.
  207. >You nod.
  208. "Yeah. Want more toast, or something else?"
  209. >He takes a second, absorbing what he's hearing.
  210. >"M-more toast... Would be nice,"
  211. >The way he's tearing up about the prospect of getting a third piece of toast reminds you of when you first were drafted into the army:
  212. >After almost dying of starvation, your mind was fucking blown when you realized the military had enough MREs to provide *two* meals a day, not just one.
  213. >Shit, you felt guilty for being a damn glutton because of those two measly packs of shit-tier food you received daily.
  214. >Same thing is happening with Soarin here.
  215. >He looks like everything he's ever known was blown away just because you said he could have a second serving.
  216. >Tears well in his eyes as he embraces you with his forehooves.
  217. >"Thank you, Anon. Thank you,"
  218. >Even though the pegasus is weak with starvation, his hug still forces air out of you.
  219. >You have some understanding of where he's coming from, but you still can't help but pity him.
  220. >Those papers said he was, what? 19 years old?
  221. >You were only a bit older than that when you were drafted, but, I mean, you did win the war (and get a decent therapist afterwards).
  222. >And even though awful shit happened, you were the one doing it, not having it happen to you.
  223. >Soarin here has seen his entire adult life ruined by a conflict he probably never knew would start.
  224. >Sucks for him.
  225. >Either way, you should probably go make more food, Soarin wanted some and you haven't eaten yet.
  226. >And this whole hug thing is getting awkward, fast.
  227. "Okay, Soarin, uh, I get this 'undying gratitude' stuff, but if you want more food, I kinda have to go make it,"
  228. >He lets go finally, a sheepish grin on his face.
  229. >"Y-yeah, sorry..."
  230. >He sucks at hiding the flush on his cheeks.
  231. >You laugh it off and enter the kitchen.
  232. >This time, the toast isn't half as badly butchered, and you make some for yourself, too.
  233. >You head back into the living room with two heaping plates of toast.
  234. >Courtesy of Master Chef Anon.
  235. >You both begin to eat your food.
  236. >Neither of you talk, consumed by eating.
  237. >You look up at the photo on the wall, chastising yourself for not hiding it.
  238. >You don't care if he finds out you were in the army.
  239. >So many people served, it's only natural that there was a chance you fought in the war.
  240. >What you really cared about was little filly that was in your backpack at the time.
  241. >You wanted to make sure he'd never hear about her.
  243. >You are private first class Anon Y. Mous.
  244. >And you've found what was making the noises.
  245. >A small white filly, sprawled on the ground, a shattered horn poking through her pink-and-purple hair.
  246. >Where one of her back legs should be, there is only a ragged, gory stump that ends before the first joint.
  247. >Blood and ash are spattered all over her coat.
  248. >In between sobs, she cries, with labored breaths, for help.
  249. >She looks up to you, her tear-moistened green eyes desperate, almost pleading.
  250. >"P-please... It hurts, h-help,"
  251. >She begs in a voice laden with pain.
  252. >"I-it hurts s-so much,"
  253. >Does she care that you're the enemy?
  254. >"P-please,"
  255. >Of course not, she's a scared, hurt child who just wants comfort.
  256. >A corporal from your squad, who is going by, nudges you on the shoulder.
  257. >"She's yours, 'Mous, get it done and get moving,"
  258. >You sigh.
  259. "Yes, sir,"
  260. >Two conflicted, staccato words.
  261. >He runs off to catch the rest of the group.
  262. >You know very well what a "She's yours" means.
  263. >You ask for forgiveness.
  264. >You remove your pistol from the holster on your vest.
  265. >And pause.
  266. >Distant screams can be heard over the thunder of artillery and the pops of rifle fire.
  267. >The burning buildings can be seen, even through the thick cloud of smoke forming over the village.
  268. >And at your feet lies a terrified, broken filly, now fervently begging for her life at the sight of your weapon.
  269. >What a night.
  270. >You line up the sights on her head.
  271. >At least you'll make it quick.
  272. >You switch off the safety.
  273. >She's only a child...
  274. >The child of an enemy.
  275. >You move your finger to the trigger...
  277. >The hoof shaking your back brings you back to awareness.
  278. >You're breathing raggedly, cold sweat stinging your skin.
  279. >Your eyes begin to refocus, bringing the living room back into view.
  280. >Fuck...
  281. >Reminiscing a little too vividly on the old war days, now were you?
  282. >You look down to your right, where you're pretty sure Soarin must be.
  283. >The concerned look wipes off his face as he shrinks back from your gaze.
  284. >Does he really think you're enough of a dick to hit a pony because they were concerned about you?
  285. >Are you?
  286. >Dick enough to mess with the poor guy, that's for sure.
  288. >You yell with unnecessary volume.
  289. >Soarin looks fucking mortified. He quickly tries to stutter out a response:
  290. >"Uh, well, n-no... B-but you w-weren't responding, I wanted to-"
  291. "BUT DID I ASK?! HUH?!"
  292. >He's looking like he's regretting his life choices at this point.
  293. >He shrinks away even further, clenching his eyes shut.
  294. >"Please! I j-just wanted to help!"
  295. >Too far, Anon, too far.
  296. >The joke is over.
  297. "Shit, man, calm down! I was just fuckin' with you!"
  298. >Soarin whimpers from the corner he's backed into.
  299. >"Huh?"
  300. >You sigh.
  301. "It was supposed to be a joke,"
  302. >He looks up at you and visibly calms down.
  303. >"A joke?"
  304. >Mmhm.
  305. "Yeah. I will say I was glad to see you were actually concerned for my wellbeing,"
  306. >The look of confusion still evident on his face, he responds.
  307. >"Uh, thanks,"
  308. >While you were spaced out, he could have easily left you there, broken a window, and made a run for it.
  309. >Hell, he could have even killed you.
  310. >But he didn't.
  311. >This pony is actually starting to gain your respect.
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