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Nothing Ever Goes As Planned

by CrossroadsPony

Section I: Close Encounters of a Gay Kind | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7
Section II: Rebel with a Cause | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13
Section III: No Rubber, Lots of Road | Chapter 14 | Chapter 15 | Chapter 16 | Chapter 17 | Chapter 18 | Chapter 19 | Chapter 20
Section IV: Take the Fork in the Road | Chapter 21 | Chapter 22 | Chapter 23

Chapter 1: Lightning Crashes

"I dunno, Simmons. They're Blue. Do they need a reason to be weird?"

The maroon-furred chupadore shot a sour look over his shoulder before glancing back down at the partially-dissembled assault rifle in his lap. "I guess. That doesn't really explain why the one with the bell is playing poker with a squirrel." Private First Class Richard Simmons grumbled and searched around himself with his free hand while peering across the sandy expanse to watch the distant but very assuredly bizarre antics of the rival soldier.

"Oh, do you mean...uh...what's his name...Caboose? Why didn't you say so." The other chupadore paused, using a single claw to flip the page of the magazine he held against his reclined leg armor. "There is something severely wrong with that guy. I mean, beyond being a dirty, stinking Blue, as your fearless captain would say." The paunchy soldier tilted his head slightly at the dust-covered centerfold, Private Dexter Grif easily ignoring the additional dirty look from his companion.

"Okay, first of all, Grif, he's a sergeant, not a captain." Simmons dropped the battle rifle into his lap and then twisted at the torso to jab a claw in the other chupa's direction." And second, he's OUR sergeant, not just mine. He probably wouldn't hate you so much if you actually showed him the respect he deserves. And last, will you hand me the needle-nose so I can finally fix this thing?" He gestured impatiently with an open palm while grabbing the rifle again to prop it against his chest.

"Sarge doesn't need my respect. He's got yours. And your dignity. And your balls." Grif lazily reached into the toolbox at his side, fishing around blindly as he added, "Also, you didn't say the magic word, Simmons. You know that common courtesy is the only thing that separates us from those damn, dirty Blues."

Simmons rolled his eyes before dropping his head and sighing loudly. "Grif, will you PLEASE give me the pliers."

"See, that wasn't so hard, was it?" Grif slapped a metal tool into Simmons's hand before flicking the page of his magazine again.

Simmons grumbled again before reaching into the exposed chamber with the pliers...only to realize he was uselessly jamming a pair of calipers into the debris-filled space. "God...DAMMIT, Grif! I said I needed the NEEDLE-NOSE PLIERS, not a--"

A sudden crackle filled the air, effectively cutting off the chupadore's rant. The hot canyon atmosphere seemed to dim for a moment before an eerie green light spilled over the two soldiers. Grif slowly lowered the worn issue of Tits & Tails, eyes widening as a oval-shaped ring fizzled into reality. "Uh...Simmons...what did you do..."

Simmons was already scrambling to his feet, struggling to shove a clip into the half-assembled battle rifle. "Grif! Pick up your fucking gun! What if it's the Blues?" His voice came out strangled as he fumbled to load the first round, only for the shell to jam in the still-dirtied chamber. "Shit!"

"YOU have my gun, Simmons," Grif replied churlishly even as he tossed the magazine aside and nervously shifted to bring his legs beneath himself. Kneeling, he grabbed the other battle rifle propped against the low concrete wall before staring up stupidly as a voice pierced through the swirling vortex of energy. Both chupadores leveled their rifles, Simmons gritting his teeth tensely while Grif glanced over his shoulder as if already desperately planning a swan-dive from the top of the base.

"--don't wanna hear your horseshit about coordinates." A slender leg emerged from the viridescent portal, covered in a tattered beige fabric that ended a few inches above a – is that a hoof? Simmons blinked stupidly as the rest of the figure strode out, immediately confused by what he saw before him. A stained overcoat hung loosely around a frame that could only be described as equine, but certainly not any variety of chupadore species. "Your one goddamn job is picking somewhere that doesn't have a fucking pack of armed goons chasing us and--"

Simmons's voice cracked as he yelled with what authority he could muster, interrupting the horse-like creature. "What...what the fuck ARE you??"

A pair of cool silver eyes shifted to the maroon chupadore before settling on the battle rifle leveled at his chest. He reached behind his ear for a bent cigarette, brushing back a messy mane of deep blue hair before placing the thin cylinder in his maw. "And you drop us right in the middle of a fucking army base?"

"A-are you Blue? Don't move!" Simmons shouted, thrusting the tip of the assault rifle forward.

"Well, Simmons, his fur is blue, so I'd say, he's a fucking Blue!" Grif retorted sarcastically, though his shift to a full upright stance did plenty to reveal his nervousness. But before Simmons could screech a response, the second figure slipped out from the crackling ring before it dissipated behind the newcomer's enormous frame.

While the first creature stood at maybe five feet tall, its companion's height towered somewhere above eight feet, and had virtual no similarities in its appearance compared to the horse-like male standing before it. Its head was reptilian, its appearance vaguely like that of some mythical dragon; it was complete with a scaled maw lined with spikes along the lower jaw. Its amber irises bore down into the two soldiers with a mostly tired expression as a long tail flicked irritably behind it. The last few feet of the long appendage split into halves, each ending in a long, cruel spine. The masculine beast wore a battered three-piece suit and a pair of pinstriped pants that had been torn unceremoniously at the bottom above its large clawed feet.

Apparently undeterred by the twitching rifles pointed in their direction, the gigantic reptile rubbed at one of the four thick spikes curving out from behind its skull. "Now look here, YOU were the furious little spitfire that shouted so rudely to go as – and allow me to recreate this moment properly – 'as fucking far as fucking possible' from our acquaintances from the west."

Both Simmons and Grif blinked in confusion as the tiny equine stomped a hoof and jabbed his unlit cigarette at the reptile's chest. "Listen, Dusey, I just open the goddamn door, you're the fucking navigator and you should KNOW better than to take me at --"

"Goddammit, I asked who the hell you guys are!" Simmons all-but-screamed, taking a step forward with his rifle as he slipped a claw instinctively into the trigger ring. The smaller of the two alien creatures narrowed his eyes and reached for the front of his coat, which prompted Simmons to immediately yank back on the trigger.

The partially-dissembled rifle only clacked once, emitting a dusty puff from the chamber before a spring exploded from the side of the gun that was followed closely by several more unsecured pieces. "Shit!" Simmons cried out as Grif turned toward him with an insult ready to fly, shifting his own gun away from the two strangers.

The horse-like creature's eyes flashed as he thrust his free hand into his overcoat and spun toward Simmons, producing a gleaming handgun in a blur of movement. Simmons's eyes widened in shock as the first deafening blast cut through the dry canyon air, stumbling back from the impact against his chest. For a moment, only muted silence filled their ears until the echo of the shot rolled back over the roof of the base to wash across them a second time.

"S-Simmons?" Grif stammered, expressing genuine concern for a moment as he stared at his blanched companion's face. Simmons’s horrified eyes slowly shifted down to his dented chest armor, his battle rifle clattering to the cement as he clutched at himself...only to stupidly pull his hand back with a crumpled bullet clutched between his trembling claws.

"Well, shit," the short stranger remarked with a scowl, putting the cigarette back into his maw before strafing the smoking tip of the scuffed handgun to the side, proceeding to unload the rest of his magazine into Simmons's chest plate over the terrified shouts of the chupadore. Each round struck him like a prizefighter's punch, forcing him to stumble back until he tripped over his own paws and crashed onto his back with a gasping wheeze.

After six more shots, the pistol finally fell silent with its slide locked in the open position. An uneasy hush filled the air once more as the equine wrinkled his muzzle before finally producing a dented metal lighter to flick into life against the tip of his cigarette. "What a mature and level-headed response, little one. It would appear that their armor is superior to your ammunition," the reptile commented dryly, earning a dark glare from its smaller cohort. "But surely I am just an ignorant jackass, as you are so fond of reminding me. Why, I am absolutely positive that if you were to try again, at least one shot would hit something."

Grif could only stare dumbly between his groaning companion and the two strangers, licking his lips once before blurting, "Um, Simmons, are you dead?"

Simmons grit his teeth as he rolled his head back and then hissed, "No...I'm not about you SHOOT them, Grif??"

"Oh. Right." Grif cleared his throat as the alien pair regarded him mildly. "You guys are dicks, kinda like the Blues. So I guess that makes you Blues. So now I'm gonna shoot you." The horse-like creature frowned darkly even as he drew deeply on the glowing cigarette. His reptilian companion tensed and took a step forward, prompting Grif to twitch and jerk the rifle toward it before yanking back on the trigger on wild instinct.

The resulting dry snick made the scaled beast flinch, while its tiny partner only cocked his head slightly. Grif's eyes widened stupidly as he pulled the trigger several more times, each one making the battle rifle click uselessly. The equine barked out a laugh, nearly losing his cigarette as he lunged forward and snatched the gun from the chupadore's hands with little resistance.

Grif watched blankly as the slender creature turned the weapon over in his nimble hands – he had four fingers and a thumb, but he had no visible claws on any of the digits – before successfully finding the magazine release. He plucked the clip out deftly and glanced at it before snorting in amusement. "You meatball, this isn't even loaded!"

From the ground, Simmons groaned loudly as he slapped his forehead. " only!?"

Grif idly put both hands in the air with a shrug. "I really wish you'd let me know when you give me new jobs. It's hard to ignore them when you don't." He turned his attention back to the smaller of the two strangers, who was still examining the rifle closely. "You know, you probably should have aimed for Simmons's head."

He earned a scowl from the short one while the reptile rolled its eyes and crossed its arms, apparently no longer concerned about an attack from the two soldiers. "Fuck you, Grif," Simmons wheezed from his sprawled out position on the concrete. "This hurts like a bitch..."

"Yeah, well. You got shot like a bitch," Grif supplied, only to wince and lean back slightly when his own rifle was pointed back at him. "Look, whatever you guys want...uh, you picked like. The worst possible place to get it. This base sucks. This canyon sucks. Everything here sucks."

The equine exhaled a plume of smoke to the side before he suddenly paled, his stony exterior faltering. His eyes bulged and he took an unsteady step forward with the empty battle rifle held out before him. The towering reptile grabbed it wordlessly, then sighed and slid backward smoothly as the horse-like creature stumbled past him to retch violently over the side of the base roof.

"Motherfucker, that's gross!" Grif exclaimed, immediately scooting backward. Simmons grimaced and looked away but otherwise remained on his back as he regarded the glowering lizard standing over them both. "Is he gonna...get us sick or something?" Grif asked, paling slightly and staring down at his grounded companion. "Simmons, you're a nerd – are we gonna get alien flu or some shit??"

Simmons groaned but couldn't muster a response over his own confusion, covering his eyes with a hand and mumbling incoherently. The reptile observed the two soldiers for a moment before shifting his gaze to the panting equine. "We are not...visitors from space, if that is what you imply."

"Not so sure about that, Dusey," Graceful interrupted, tilting his head back as he stared up, taking notice of the strip of blue-and-green earth that stretched into the sky to arc past his visual horizon. "This ain't Kansas. Or even a goddamn planet like ours..."

"--Nor will you contract any sort of sickness from this foul-mouthed cretin, at least not of the variety you imagine," the draconic creature continued dryly. "Graceful Melody, I warned you not to fill your lungs with that toxin after transportation. You are not yet suited to initiate such a lengthy jump, your body requires recovery."

Graceful Melody rolled his eyes, sitting back on his knees and wiping his muzzle. But his response was cut short as a concerned voice called up ahead of the sound of trotting claws. "Guys, I heard shots! Are you oka-- OH MY GOSH!"

Graceful found himself staring at a gasping face looking up at him from the sloping ramp that led to the open roof. The two regarded each other for a moment as a nauseated Graceful Melody attempting to register what he saw before him. A tangle of blond bangs and spikes atop a light-red hide met his blank expression and he leaned back slightly. "Oooh, what are you!? You are just so adorable, like a cute little horse, I could just hop on you and ride you all day! Look at all the pretty piercings you have, your ears and your mouth are so shiny!"

The equine blinked slowly, studying the newcomer for a moment. He was slender, almost feminine in his stature, his hands on his hips as his long tail flicked behind him. The same blond-colored hair upon his head formed a tuft at the end of the appendage...although, by far, the most eye-catching part of this soldier was his armor. The other two were covered in the same shade of deep red but this one's was... "Pink." It was the only word Graceful could form with his numb muzzle.

The lithe male wrinkled his muzzle and stomped a clawed paw in protest. "It's lightish-red! And it just happens to accentuate my coat perfectly!"

"Donut...have you even SEEN the giant lizard thing?" Grif finally sputtered, gesturing wildly at the looming reptile. The aforementioned giant lizard thing idly shifted Grif's battle rifle into a ready position with one hand before resting it against his shoulder, watching with mild amusement as Private Frank Donut slowly drew his eyes over the imposing figure. His jaw dropped and, apparently uninterested in using the pistol holstered at his side, the less-than-red soldier opted to instead release a high-pitched scream before whipping around and racing back down the ramp to disappear into the base.

Simmons and Grif both blinked stupidly and the former groaned as he crossed his arms over his face. "Goddammit, Donut...we're all gonna fucking die!"

"Oh, would you ease up?" Graceful snapped, giving the two soldiers a sour look as they leaned away from him and back toward the somehow-less-imposing reptile. "We ain't here to kill you. But try not to make it so goddamn tempting! If I wanted ya dead, it wouldn't be no goddamn debate!"

Simmons scowled, jabbing at his dented chest armor. "You...SHOT me! Like six times! You could have killed me!"

"Seven times," Graceful Melody responded mildly before standing up slowly and brushing off his tattered coat. "One in the chamber. Unlike your piece, which had none in the chamber. Dumbass." He picked up his still-smoldering cigarette from the concrete, brushing at it absently before poking it back into his muzzle and motioning to his lizard-like companion. "Gimme that. And watch your ass, Red. Ain't got no armor on that pretty face of yours and I know not to aim for the chest anymore."

Grif cleared his throat loudly as Simmons spluttered and paled slightly. " you ARE Blue?"

"I believe my egregious little friend calls this shade 'periwinkle'," the reptilian creature replied, handing the rifle back to Graceful. "Much as I would personally call you 'maroon', or perhaps 'burgundy.'"

"Oh, yes, Burgundy suits you much better, Simmons, Grif quickly added, grinning toothily. "I think we'll call you Burgundy from now on."

"Shut up, Grif." Simmons looked warily at the equine once more as he finally sat up, poking again at the deep crease in his chest plate. "If you aren't Red, and if you aren't Blue, then either you're a weird damn Freelancer or some...kind of secret House experiment. Unless..." He trailed off as the two strangers fixed him with rocky but somewhat curious expressions. "'re really not from...uh..." Simmons gestured around himself, ignoring Grif's eye-roll as he finished awkwardly, "from...from"

"That's very perceptive of you, pal. No, we ain't...Blue, and we definitely ain't no lab rats, neither." Graceful snorted. "Clearly we went further than I expected. Thanks to this numbskull who apparently couldn't follow a goddamn map if it stripped down and drew an arrow pointin' at its gut-wrench."

The masculine reptile blushed slightly despite his best efforts. "There is not exactly a map that can assist with navigating the various folds of space and time!" he snapped. "Perhaps YOU put too much energy into your channeling? Overcompensating, as you do with ALL things?" The two glared at each other dangerously, Graceful's fingers gripping tightly into the synthetic body of the battle rifle before the equine finally gnashed his teeth together and thrust the weapon toward Grif.

He awkwardly accepted it into his claws, holding it almost gingerly as he direly wanted to avoid triggering a reaction that would lead to his own impacted chest armor. But Graceful Melody only turned away to gaze across the sandy box canyon, smoking silently for a moment. Grif and Simmons glanced between themselves before Simmons carefully knelt and then pushed himself to his paws. "So...uh...who the hell are you guys?"

Graceful tapped the ash from his cigarette, swaying slightly on his hooves and allowing the silence to drift out between the four. As the two soldiers exchanged another confused look, the equine finally shrugged and waved absently toward his companion. "Amdusias, try not to put them to sleep."

Amdusias sighed dramatically. "I am not some paid narrator who can be summoned to provide exposition at the drop of a hat." When this earned a dark glare from his partner, Amdusias pursed his lips and then turned toward the confused chupadores. "This will be difficult to explain, mostly because I do not yet know the extent of your world's...knowledge. To be honest, at this juncture, I am not even certain if our origin and your home share the same dimensional reference points." He paused, looking somewhat sour as Grif lazily raised a hand. "What is it?"

"Is this gonna take long? Because this seems like it's gonna take long. And I need to not stand here in the sun because that sucks enough doing it every day with this guy." He jerked a thumb at Simmons, who rolled his eyes and then apparently felt confident enough to begin picking up all the scattered pieces of the rifle he'd been cleaning.

"Oh, very well, boorish cretins," Amdusias grumbled. "The three of us--"

"Three?!" Simmons yelped as he stumbled back to flop unceremoniously on his haunches. "There are MORE of you?"

Graceful snickered to himself as Amdusias groaned. "I have completely forgotten about Riffraff. Graceful Melody, you cannot leave him in the rift forever. He will begin to degrade. Eventually. I...think."

"Oh, blow it out your ass, Dusey." The equine turned back to the chupadores, tossing the smoldering cigarette down and grinding it out with a chipped hoof. "That asshole had it coming. Besides, I'm sure our new friends will find him. They seem unexpectedly competent." As Simmons opened his muzzle with what was no doubt another horrified inquiry, Graceful cut him off. "Shut it. I'm talkin'. Look, your fat friend ain't wrong, it's hot and I'm already sweatin' like a whore in church. Here's the long and short of it. Yes, I'm a horse. Pony, whatever. He's a demon."

"Fallen angel," Amdusias interjected shortly, crossing his arms as his tail flicked irritably.

"Who became a fucking demon," Graceful retorted. "Our acquaintance who you ain't currently seein' here is also a horse like me."

"Pony," Amdusias mumbled.

"Fuck off. I'm tired, these guys clearly ain't seen horses on two legs and they probably ain't ever seen a demon, so no point picking through the goddamn silt! I'm Graceful Melody – give me shit about it, I'll knock your teeth out – and the demon is Amdusias." He paused, closing his eyes for a moment before calmly brushing his deep-blue mane back and dropping to his knees to vomit over the edge of the roof again.

The muscular reptile abandoned all semblance of a cold exterior as he quickly approached the hunched pony, placing a hand supportively on his back. "Graceful Melody, you require rest..."

The two chupadores shifted uncomfortably, glancing at each other again. "Uh, Simmons? Maybe we should. Run away and lock ourselves inside while they're distracted? And maybe they'll just disappear into a green magic circle thingy again?" Grif whispered loudly.

Simmons looked torn, obviously curious about the two now that they were no longer attempting to pump bullets into him. The strangers were exchanging a few low whispers as Graceful attempted to shove the fallen angel away. Now that their backs were exposed, Simmons noted several more curved spikes jutting through the reptile's clothing. Demon really does seem to be a more appropriate term...never seen anything like him before...

"Well, maybe they...aren't so bad, Grif. I mean, they're not Blue, and they aren't trying to kill us, so maybe we should go call Sarge and let him know and then maybe see if they'll help us out if we let them rest. It's not you can deny how interesting it would be to get to know ACTUAL visitors from, or...dimension, even?"

An increasingly excited Simmons looked at Grif to gauge his response...only to scowl grumpily as he realized his orange companion had already disappeared from the roof. "Goddammit, Grif." He licked his lips and fidgeted on his paws for a moment before finally sighing and making his way to the ramp as well. He gave one more glance over his shoulder to the strangers, but they were still hunched together with little regard to the world around them. "Guess I'll call Sarge..."

Amdusias helped Graceful stand up after he'd gotten the worst out of his system, keeping a firm but comforting hand on the pony's slender shoulder. "Where'd the two fuzzy things go?" he mumbled. "And why am I this goddamn blown, Dusey? Ain't ever been this bad after a jump..."

"They appear to have retreated into the reinforced abode below. I am having a difficult time reading them, although I suppose this should not be a surprise. I believe we have inadvertently crossed a dimensional barrier." He automatically leaned back to avoid a weak slap from Graceful, grabbing his wrist gently. "Calm yourself. We were in a mild state of panic at the moment of the jump, despite preparation. We both made a mistake. However, we are not dead, nor have we yet been slaughtered by the local fauna."

"Not for lack of trying," Graceful responded dryly with a grimace. "Still. Guess you ain't wrong. Don't make me feel much better. Any readings on this world? And if Riff's alive?" A note of concern slipped into the pony's words at the last inquiry, though Amdusias dutifully ignored it.

"This is...a strange world. It appears to be a giant...well. Ring." Graceful tilted his head up again to gaze in dizzy wonder at the unnatural shape of the planet...if it can even be called that...that they'd dropped into. A nauseous expression crossed his features and Amdusias immediately grimaced and pulled the equine's muzzle back down. "You are still not well enough to fill your meager cranial space with the geometry of this odd place," the demon murmured, though his condescending words were betrayed with a caring undertone. "Fear not. Riffraff is fine. I suppose I must applaud your perception, regardless of whether or not you actually sensed it. The signatures of those abominable lupines have crossed with that of your hapless...chippie."

Graceful Melody snorted laughter despite himself, immediately regretting it with a wheeze. "Shaddup, Dusey. That boy's just a glutton for punishment, is all. Can't count the number of times I told him to fuck off..."

"About as many times as you have stumbled into his home, bleeding or inebriated and demanding unspeakable acts of intimacy," Amdusias replied, almost kindly. "Come now. We need to coerce our way into this alien structure so you might rest and adjust to this reality." He sniffed the air for a moment. "Your mortal body is likely in need of acclimation. The quality of the atmosphere is surprisingly better than that of our previous location."

"Fantastic. So they haven't fucked themselves over by destroying their own planet yet. How fortunate indeed," the pony growled as he allowed himself to be led to the ramp to descend from the hot concrete roof. "Gonna be real pissed if we landed not only in a war zone, but one where my iron don't mean shit. Ain't used to that, Dusey. Don't like it when I can't shoot a motherfucker and watch him go down."

"I know, little one," the reptile murmured reassuringly, though not without a hint of wry amusement. "I am quite sure if it was not for that infernal armored plating, you absolutely would have...what is the parlance you prefer? 'Murdered the shit out of him'?"

"Yeah, close enough," Graceful Melody chuckled as they came to the bottom of the ramp, turning around to examine the cylindrical structure from the ground level. It appeared perfectly round, at least from this vantage point. The pony noted what appeared to be an unguarded entrance into the inner area, which had neither door nor any kind of visible barrier at all, really. Weird, if this is actually some kind of base or outpost... The dull, grey concrete building was situated at the far end of a box canyon with a flooring consisting of mostly sand and cracked clay, though green vegetation sprouted through the dry soil to form small patches of grass dotted by the occasional shrub, tree and bunch of wildflowers. In the distance, Graceful was pretty certain he could identify another squat cylindrical building, which made him wonder if it that was the home of the "Blues" they'd been initially labeled as. His tired gaze also noted a denser glen of leafy trees and brush along one long side of the natural depression.

"Enough surveying the land," Amdusias chided softly as he held one hand out to the sour-faced equine. "It would appear this...'base' truly has no means of preventing entry. I do not sense anything invisible to the eye, either. It would seem that one could simply...stroll in. How queer."

"Queer indeed. Ain't in the mood to argue, so yeah, go. Stick your ugly face in, see if anyone tries to blow it off. If you die, I'm gonna go drag my ass to the shade and either pass out or join you in whatever makes for an afterlife around here." Graceful half-dropped, half-leaned against the warm concrete surface while waving an arm out ahead of himself.

"Take off that ridiculous coat, that may help with the heat," Amdusias suggested mildly. "Do not wander off and do not perish. I will be extremely disappointed." Graceful only grunted in response, crossing his arms and dropping his chin against his chest. "Yes, yes, childish cricket. I will attempt to secure lodging. And sustenance. I tend to forget your kind requires this." Graceful glanced up long enough to gesture rudely with one hand, which was enough to earn a slight smile from the demon before he took a slow breath and wandered into the concrete structure.

"...dammit, he's not answering..." Simmons grit his teeth and began to punch in the contact number a third time.

"Didn't you say he was on his way here, anyway? And besides, what about Sarge makes you think he'd do anything to make this any better?" Grif sat across fromS Simmons in the war room, straddling a chair backward with his arms resting along the back. "Sarge is like you, but worse. He's less of a nerd, and more of a 'shoot first, shoot now, shoot later, shoot the questions' kind of guy. And I dunno about you, but I don't wanna get shot again."

"You didn't GET shot, Grif! I did!" Simmons tapped a claw impatiently against the wall as the video communication feed crackled static yet again.

"Uh, so...did that dragon eat that cute pony?" Donut asked as he clutched nervously into a teacup. "Did you summon them with your Dungeon S&M book? Are they gone now?"

"Donut. I don't...even want to. Just shut up," Simmons grumbled, rolling his eyes as Grif grinned behind him. "And stop talking about Sarge like that, there's a reason he's our leader."

"Yeah, they sent the most useless sergeant to the most useless outpost. That's no mystery."

"Goddammit, Grif! I--" Simmons broke off as a bored face filled the communication screen, a drab red chupadore answering in monotone.

"This is Red Command. What is it, Timae Outpost?"

", nothing! Just trying to reach our CO, Red Command!"

"Is there some kind of emergency?" the operator asked drolly. "This line is for dispatching orders and reporting emergencies. And I would gather by the fact you are the only outpost in the Timae region that you cannot have much of an emergency."

"That's...correct! Of course, and we are so sorry to bother you! We'll get right back to our posts, no need to report any of this to anyone, I--" The screen fizzled out, the operator breaking the feed with an indifferent shrug before Simmons could finish. He sighed and tapped the END button resignedly, turning around with a mopey expression.

"Aw, don't cry, Burgundy. You shoulda just told Command all about your problems, I bet they would totally understand, and maybe they'd even send you a special helper to get you on your way!" Grif flashed a toothy smirk.

"Eat a dick, Grif," the maroon chupadore muttered. "Look, I don't think it would be in our best interest to go spouting about...aliens or something like that to Command. It's not like the last Freelancer was any help. She was...scary. I don't want them sending another one..."

"Oh no, no, please not another one, she was dreadful!" Donut exclaimed after a sip from his tea before setting down the cup to hug himself for a moment. " you think they're gone? Maybe we should go look?"

"I sure as shit ain't doin' it. Burgundy is the ranking officer, he should go see, that would be the responsible thing to do. Sarge might even give you a medal!"

Simmons scowled. "Stop calling me that, asshole. Look, maybe they'll just...go away or something. Besides, I..."

"THE DRAGON!" Donut suddenly squealed, taking a step back as Amdusias's tall frame stooped into the entrance of the war room. The demon frowned slightly and raised a hand to interrupt, but Grif shouted frantically before he could speak.

"Donut, he's here for your tea, SHOOT HIM!"

Amdusias blinked stupidly as Donut widened his eyes and, in an unexpectedly dexterous show of reaction, yanked the pistol from his hip to jerk it into a ready position. "No wait--!" Simmons yelled, lunging toward the feminine chupadore as his thumb clicked off the safety with a surprising familiarity before Donut unloaded three quick shots of the magnum at the demon's center of mass.

The deafening reports crashed through the concrete-walled room as all three soldiers flinched and yelled incoherently while the reptile only snarled and instinctively threw his hands up. A fourth sharp sound filled the base as a faint amber energy gleamed in front of the supernatural entity. His clawed hands flexed slightly and, as Simmons struggled to regain his composure, he could see three intact slugs hovering in front on the demon. They were covered with the same pale yellow glow, trembling slightly in the translucent grip of the creature's powers before they clinked softly to the floor..

The chupadores' jaws all dropped as Amdusias gasped and then immediately clutched the doorway for support as his entire body slumped. "Please refrain from shooting me. My companion is going to be very upset by that. And I am only here to request...a very brief...sojourn..." The reptile's words trailed off, his arm hanging limp.

"Holy shit, Donut. I think you killed him," Grif remarked dumbly as the demon cursed weakly, only for his eyes to roll back into his head before his muscular frame crashed to the ground with a dull thud. "That little pony-thing is gonna murder you!"

Red vs Blue © Rooster Teeth. Halo © 343 Industries. Concept by Myshu, assisted by The Department of Chupapology.

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