The trials and tribulations of managing your own personal pony village.
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!F9CBa509ak 2017-06-05 07:35:46 No. 30242574

> Have to be careful now, Thunderlane.
> Convincing Anonymous when he's in a mood like this is only mildly less dangerous than flying through a thunderstorm at night.
> One wrong wingbeat, and not only would it get away from you but leave you bruised and aching as well.
"An- Master, give me a chance to work on them. I know they're not going to be cooperative right to start, but if it's me or the whip... and we've already got their names; it's not like they can go anywhere. What's a day or two more waiting?"
> The flat look that Anonymous gives you suggests that he doesn't quite believe they're going to give you anything less than bile and fury.
"Then at least let me be there with you! I - I can offer them an out, when you're -"
> It takes a moment to find the right words.
"- pressing them; they'll see it as better than giving in to you. And, I can-"
> "You can keep me from going berserk on them if they don't give in to me, is what you're really saying."
> Swallowing hard, you look away.
> Anonymous had cut to the heart of the matter, saying everything that you'd been dancing around admitting.
> His hand flexes, curling in and out of a fist several times before he seems to deflate.
> "Alright. You're in, and if they don't crack you can go talk to them on your own time too."
"Thank you, Sir."
> "There's no need for me to let go on them now. This is just an interrogation, after all. There'll be time for a proper sentence to be carried out on them later."
> The way he says that sends an unwelcome prickling through your coat.
> "And for that matter, Thunderlane... if I do start going overboard, step in and stop me. That's an order."
> You hadn't been expecting that command, and it clearly shows in your expression.
> Anonymous shoots you a bitter smirk.
> "Hey, maybe it'll make you a more palatable negotiating partner to them. That's what you want, isn't it?"
> Yes, but not like that.

!F9CBa509ak 2017-06-05 07:36:51 No. 30242583

> Nonetheless you remain silent as he continues the rest of the way down, pausing collect a plastic bucket along the way, consumed by your own thoughts.
> Surprisingly, rather than Autumn Frost he instead turns to the other cell.
> "None of the files say anything about these ponies having family or anyone else close. Maybe that's why they moved together. Either way, we'll heave to break them apart from each other."
"I understand."
> Comet Tail turns out to be an older unicorn stallion with a bright yellow coat - that had unfortunately already become smeared with dirt.
> Compared to your take-down, he must have fought viciously:
> In addition to the heavy restricter on his horn a harsh, tight bridle, muzzle, and bit had been fastened around his face; you could see the furrows in his coat where their straps dug into his flesh.
> Furthermore, his shackles had been used not merely to hobble him but had been attached to the wall bolt with a far-too-short chain, leaving Comet Tail sprawled on his back unable to lower his legs.
> From the moment Anonymous enters Comet Tail keeps his eyes fixed on the man - leaving you relatively unseen.
> His flicking ears, though, betray his awareness of your presence as well.
> "Comet Tail..."
> The bucket Anonymous had collected is set down behind his tail, leaving him unable to see what is in it.
> You can, though, and your blood runs cold at the collection of implements of misery stacked in that bucket.
> He'd promised...
> ...this had to be part of the bluff.
> You had to believe that.
> Squatting down by Comet Tail's side, Anonymous reaches out to brush a few strands of his mane back.
> Comet angrily flicks his muzzle away, but cannot do anything more.
> "You're in a pretty bad spot, aren't you?"
> An angry snort, and the stallion pulls on his chains.

!F9CBa509ak 2017-06-05 07:38:28 No. 30242595

> "You've managed to piss me off in perhaps one of the worst ways possible. Now that you're in here - well, I'm not expecting a sudden rising-up to break you out of here, y'know? After all, it was those ponies who gave you up to me."
> This does provoke a rather angrier snarl; this time, Comet actually tries to heave himself upright in his chains to face Anonymous directly.
> Instead he falls back to the cold concrete floor, air driven from his lungs by the boot Anonymous had planted in his chest.
> You wince, but that wasn't too far... yet.
> Still holding him down, Anonymous leans in - fury dancing in his eyes.
> "You've been given up by everyone, Comet. No other pony here cares about you. None of them came to your rescue when the guards came. They've left you out to hang. You might hate me, but I'm literally your only hope right now."
> For a moment Comet actually seems to be pondering this.
> Then he turns his head and - around the bit - spits against Anonymous' boot.
> "Fu' off."
> Being unable to properly open his mouth distorts his words, but the meaning remains clear.
> "Y'gonna 'orture me, jus' do i'. No games. 'm done."
> Despite the brave face being put on, you can smell the rank fear rolling off the stallion - a bitter, stinging scent that betrays just how terrified he is.
> He knows what happened to Corona.
> He saw the bucket Anonymous brought in, even if not what was in it.
> And he's perfectly aware of what lays in the future for him.
"We don't want to torture you, Comet Tail."
> Head snapping around, Comet fixes you with an equally hateful glare.
> "Y'wan' wha'ever 'elps you, traitor."
> "You should listen to Thunderlane, Comet Tail. He's about the only reason I didn't just walk in here and start in on you."
> Sorting in both anger and disbelief, the stallion swings his head back around to look at Anonymous.
> "Why? M'not goin' t'beg."

!F9CBa509ak 2017-06-05 07:40:26 No. 30242613

> "You should. You think the rest of your little group is going to spare you? If you hold out, you're just going to find yourself at the back of the line."
> "...liar..."
> Comet's voice wavers with uncertainty, though.
"He isn't. You think you're the most popular pony around? Remember that you got sold out to us. I break one of you, the rest of you are sunk. It's a first-or-not-at-all deal."
> "I..."
> "Look, Comet."
> Anonymous' face twists into a very unpleasant grin.
> "Right now I'd be much, much rather putting a cattle prod into your balls. And we both know you're not staying here."
> Comet Tail seizes up.
> "Not - no' stayin'?"
> Shrugging, Anonymous chuckles.
> "Of course not. What, did you think I'd have my fun torturing you and then let you back out?"
> Comet twists in place, and you have to wonder if that was exactly what he'd been expecting.
> That was, after all, what had happened to Cadance and Corona.
> "There's three futures for you, Comet Tail: One, you get sold off on the open market tagged as violent and hostile. Two, the same... but with your horn's nerves cut."
> Both yourself and Comet stiffen at that; a unicorn with no horn would only be wanted for the simplest, hardest labor and have little hope.
> A pegasus' clipped feathers could grow back, but the horn's nerves...
> "...three?"
> "Euthanasia."
> Comet blanches, his already-pale yellow coat losing even more color.
> Anonymous only grins wider - an ugly, unpleasant grin.
> "I have my fun with you, then make the case you're still a completely unsalvageable threat. Too dangerous for any work. Only solution is to have you destroyed."
> "Y'can' do tha'. Not jus' b'cause I beat your house whore."
> A smarter stallion would have known not to use those words.
> Seen the warning signs of barely-held-back fury in Anonymous' posture and expression.
> Comet did not.
> Driving a boot into his stomach hard enough to leave the stallion curled and gasping in pain,

!F9CBa509ak 2017-06-05 07:42:59 No. 30242633

> "Alright, suit yourself. Thunderlane, I'll be right back."
> The cell door slams shut, leaving alone with the moaning stallion.
"...Comet Tail, please. He's telling the truth. I can try to hold him back a while, but I can't stop him. You've put him on the warpath. He will have you killed!"
> Despite the desperation in your voice, the other stallion only laughs - a pained, wheezing sob of a laugh.
> "Liar. Y'say tha', bu' you've been on 'is side since y'joined th'guards. You jus' want another pat on th'head from him."
"Damn it, Comet! I'm not lying! I can't save you entirely, but you don't have to get yourself killed or dehorned!"
> He laughs bitterly still, but there's a new element in it now.
> Fear, terror, the kind of awesome horror you cannot stand up to but only laugh at or break.
> "Keep lyin', Thunderlane. Lie t'me, lie t'your brother, lie t'yourself..."
> Laughter breaks down to real crying.
> In the distance, you can hear water running.
> "...maybe we shoulda gone after y'runt brother as well as tha' house whore."
> Your mind immediately snaps to the two missing ponies.
"You wouldn't dare."
> "Why wouldn' we? He was a good pony once. Helped us, then turned tail after y'got flogged. Woul' send a message t'all you traitors. We were watchin' him."
> Before you can answer, Anonymous returns - now struggling with a full bucket, water spilling over the sides.
> This bucket is set beside Comet Tail's head.
> Comet stares up at Anonymous from his spot inverted on the floor as the man kneels, a knee to either side of his head locking it in place and a black cloth spread out over the stallion's face.
> Barely a squeal emerges from the stallion before the bucket is tipped, water splashing out onto his face and rendering it a muted, gurgling scream instead.
> He twitches and writhes, suspended hooves heaving and pulling as his chest spasms.

!F9CBa509ak 2017-06-05 07:44:11 No. 30242646

But his head is firmly locked between Anonymous' knees, and there's no escape from the stream of water pouring over his covered face.
> should stop this.
> It was what you'd come here to do - even what Anonymous had asked you to do.
> But he'd threatened Rumble.
> And you had to keep your little brother safe too.
> If those ponies weren't found, if they hurt him...

What do we do? Stop Anonymous as we promised, or is this too much?

!F9CBa509ak 2017-06-07 10:55:53 No. 30260231

> You stare at Comet Tail, ears laid flat against your skull as if to block out the gurgling screams even having petered out, reduced to gurgling, retching heaves.
"He's drowning!"
> "No."
> Anonymous' tone is bizarrely flat given the struggling stallion trapped beneath him.
> "He just feels like he is because of the cloth. It'll be fine as soon as I let him up."
> That depends very much, you think, on the definition of 'fine'.
> But still you don't move, limbs frozen by Comet Tail's words echoing around your ears.
> Would they attack Rumble - or worse, threaten him to try and escape?
> It wouldn't end well, but they would be just desperate enough...
> Unbidden, your eyes stray from the spectacle to the other bucket Anonymous had brought in.
> Its nightmarish contents are enough to make your stomach twist:
> The thick, heavy whip laid coiled against one wall was the least of it; next to it rested an upright cattle prod, while a small gas torch and several metal handles leaned on the opposite side.
> A powerful shears, its long and heavy arms hinting at the great force that would be used to close its hooked jaws, hung half-over a third side.
> In between them all sat a pair of metal contraptions you didn't even recognize - or particularly want to - but whose spiked arms and screw-tightened hinges were enough to plant plenty of suggestions.
> At last Anonymous sets the bucket down, ripping the rag away and letting a gasping and spluttering Comet Tail catch his breath.
> It takes him a few moments - his eyes initially rolling in wild fear until the sensations of drowning fade.
"Celestia help me..."
> Your muttered oath goes unnoticed.
> You should stop this.
> But...
> Was it any different than when you'd turned over the ringleaders?
> You knew what would happen to them.
> Wasn't your soul already damned by that?
> Protecting Rumble had been enough reason then; wasn't it now?

!F9CBa509ak 2017-06-07 10:57:29 No. 30260241

> "That was fifteen seconds at most, pony. I've heard of this going for two, three hours... and we're not exactly going to run out of water."
> Comet Tail's breath catches again at the threat.
> Yet it still is not enough to move him to speak.
> "Well, suit yourself. After we're done with this we can try something else."
> For a moment Comet Tail looks pleadingly to you, but you cannot muster up a response in time.
> The rag is thrown down over his face again, masking the desperate expression.
> Even with the knowledge of what is coming, the stallion is soon screaming, then gurgling, then simply writhing again.
> can't watch this.
> Despite promising - it's just too much.
> To just know about it in a distant, abstract way is one thing; to be right there as it happens is another.
> It's all you can do to keep from galloping from the room.
> Instead you go to the next cell down.
> Autumn Frost looks up as you open the door, having shifted herself over just far enough to rest on the cell's thin, hard mattress.
> Initially she says nothing, meeting you with the same wordless resignation that she had when you'd arrested her.
> Instead you begin the exchange.
"Chrysocolla and Windy Winters."
> Her face tightens; clearly Autumn had been hoping that she was the only one known.
"They managed to avoid us. We need to know where they are."
> "Go rut yourself."
> The three words are spoken in a surprisingly soft tone - cool, distant rage rather than hot and immediate.
"We have to know, Autumn, or Anonymous is only going to get worse."
> Nothing comes but a small shake of her head.
> In contrast, your anger only rises.
"Damn you, Autumn - he's going to get all of you anyhow! He'll break one of you - or just turn the entire camp upside-down to find them. You heard how angry he is!"
> This finally seems to shock her into actually speaking:
> "What do you mean, one of-"
> Her ear cocks, head twisting on the mattress at a half-heard distant gasp.

!F9CBa509ak 2017-06-07 10:59:08 No. 30260253

> When it is immediately followed up by another muted scream, Autumn's expression tightens.
> "Who is that?"
> From her tone she has guessed already anyhow, but you confirm it:
"Comet Tail."
> Autumn's ears go flat as well, she lays her head back down on mattress.
"How are you so calm?! Do you have any idea what he's doing to Comet?"
> "No."
> After a second's thought, she adds:
> "Expect I'll find out soon, though."
"You'll find out-"
> For several moments, you remain glaring at her - the silence occasionally broken by Comet Tail's distant struggles.
> "He wants us to grovel. No grovelling, he beats us until we do. I don't grovel."
> It's the most words you've gotten out of her yet.
> And enough to make your exasperation boil over; stepping forward, you reach out with your teeth to grab her mane in a twisted reversal of how she'd tried to attack you.
> Unlike then, however, you have plenty of leverage to lift her up.
> Spitting out her mane, you growl softly:
"This doesn't have to happen. He's not just taking his anger out on Comet, he's looking for something. You give him that something, it /will/ stop."
> Staring soundlessly at you, Autumn simply shakes her head.
> "Nothing. I say nothing."
> In the distance, Comet Tail's voice raises to an open scream - a howl of pain.
> Anonymous had, apparently, moved on.
"He's not just going to hurt him, Autumn! He's talking about having Comet's horn cut if those two aren't found. He might cut your wing tendons too!"
> This finally earns a real reaction from the mare, her stoicism breaking under the thought of that.
> As she thinks it over, another agonized scream issues from Comet Tail's cell.
> Swearing furiously, you spin and gallop from the cell.
> Pausing only to kick the door shut with an earsplitting bang, you charge back into the first cell - and shrink back at what you see.
> Two clearly-recognizable boot marks were already imprinted in Comet Tail's belly, black dirt marring his light yellow coat.

!F9CBa509ak 2017-06-07 11:00:38 No. 30260261

> The soaked rag had been left in place over his muzzle - barely enough to muffle his yells.
> Even as you watch, Anonymous - a hand pulling one of Comet's hindlegs apart - draws his foot back and lets it slam forward squarely in between-
> Comet Tail spasms, back arching wildly as he screams.
> Flinching in sympathy as your own hindlegs instinctively close protectively, you snap your wings open and take a hard step forward.
"Anonymous, that's enough!"
> His head snaps up to glare at you.
> Gone is his cool and dispassionate anger from before, replaced with a hot-burning fury ready to be unleashed.
> But you meet your owner's gaze head on and refuse to back down.
"You ordered me."
> "...yeah. Right. I'll - be outside."
> Letting him go isn't what you have planned though; instead you follow him out, only speaking when out of earshot.
"What happened."
> "He opened his fucking mouth, that's what happened."
> One hand rising to rub his forhead, Anonymous sighs.
> "Maybe even deliberately provoked me. I don't know."
"You need to go and calm down somewhere."
> "Yeah. I do..."
> He sounds so... drained.
> Lost, maybe.
"There's no need to rush. We can get the names. A day or two, and it'll mean you won't do... this."
> "You're right. Thanks, Thunderlane."
> Surprisingly, he doesn't sound too sorry to admit you're right.
> Had he actually been expecting you to control him...?
> You wait until Anonymous is entirely out of sight - just to be sure - before turning back into the cell.
> Comet Tail is still moaning and curled into as tight a ball as his shackles will allow - twin fresh lines of wetness trailing from his eyes.
> It's quite a while from when you pull the soaked rag from his face that he is coherent enough to speak.
> And even then only with a breathless, pained voice.
> "You... you made him stop."
"I shouldn't have left in the first place."

!F9CBa509ak 2017-06-07 11:06:07 No. 30260295

> Dropping onto your haunches, you belatedly remember the filthy floor was still soaked - not nearly all of the water having gone down the drain.
> "Why?"
"Because I told you the Tartarus-damned truth, Comet Tail! I don't - I don't want you to suffer! Even after you threatened my brother, I really don't!"
> "Why should I-"
> Comet tries to shift, but gives up a second later - gasping in sudden pain at a misjudged movement.
> Instead he settles for rolling his head over to stare at you with bloodshot eyes.
> "-should I care what you want?"
"Because I'm a pony trying to help you!"
> "You're a traitor, just like that whore we kicked up. Just trying to make yourself look good. Save your sorry own rear..."
"...then if you don't think about me, think about the others! Autumn Frost is in the cell right next to yours; do you want her to be tortured too?"
> Comet Tail's reaction is quite unlike hers.
> In contrast to her quiet look of anger, a look of horror and despair creeps over his face.
> "...she'll never talk. She barely talked to us. I, I talk to much. She won't say a word."
"He'll go even harder on her. You think this is bad? I can't be around to stop him forever, Comet. He'll break her. If he's willing to take your horn, he might take her flight! You have to talk - for her sake, if not for yours or mine!"
> Leaping up onto your hooves, you circle around him and kick over the bucket filled with hideous implements of torment - letting them scatter across the floor in full view of the other stallion.
> "All of these - he'll go through every one on her!"
> "If I talk, he'll spare me and cripple her."
"No. You can negotiate. I can negotiate!"
> Laughing an agonized, wheezing noise, Comet Tail shakes his head.
> "You can't force him, and you can't force me."
> A second later, he has stopped laughing - staring with eyes wide at the electrical prod gripped in your jaws.
> "'re bluffing. You said you don't want me to be tortured. You wouldn't."

!F9CBa509ak 2017-06-07 11:11:26 No. 30260337

> All the certainty and cockyness that he's spoken with a moment earlier was gone, though.
> Speaking around the handle gripped in your jaws is hard, but you're still mostly understandable.
> And even if not, your growled tone says plenty.
"You have no idea what I would do to protect my brother."
> "...c'mon, Thunderlane, it's not me that's putting him in danger. You doing - this! That's what it is!"
"You threatened him. Before, I didn't - but I've got a reason to want you to talk now too."
> "N-No way. I don't believe you!"
> With the control switch where it was, finding it with your tongue was relatively easy.
> ...but is this right?
> It's one thing to let Anonymous do the torturing.
> Even to turn other ponies over to him for it.
> To actually hold the implement of torture in your own jaws, make use of it yourself...

Do we do this? Or is actually torturing him to far?
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