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Carmine Gumshoe
by on July 31, 2020
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Everything felt like a dream. Floaty. Carmine felt as if his soul was buoyantly floating above his body and kept from soaring away by a rope tied at his neck. The rope was... cold. Metallic. No, his senses were starting to come back. Vision was restoring... he saw a myriad of blurry shapes, moving and squabbling. What were they saying? He was hearing words, but he couldn't understand them. Screams. Pleas for mercy. As his eyes began to wake up, the blurry shapes began to transition to their true form. Things were beginning to make sense.
The two shapes on the left, bound by a similar collar and chain attached to a shackle on the wall... one was smaller. A child. THE child. Her fur was covered in so much grime and mud that he almost didn’t recognize her, the only photo he saw of her she had clean, tan fur. She still wore that tattered beige dress, and it appears that her hair hadn't been cut since her disappearance, as the length of her bangs could easily cover her eyes. Terror shimmered through whatever visible parts of her showed. Not far beyond her was... Valor. Carmine's heart swelled. Conflict stirred within him. For the first time in two months, he finally set eyes on his true love... battered and bruised, but still ruggedly handsome. Wearing his polished golden armor would defeat the purpose of going undercover, and instead wore a simple black hoodie that appeared to be a uniform for the Iron Ijiraq. Even beyond the dirt and grime, Valor's pearl-like coat shone bright in the rusty, grungy room and the mane that Carmine lovingly called “cantaloupe colored” still glowed like the sun, despite the layer of sweat and dirt. Carmine was almost sent back to a daze. It was just nice to see him again.
The other shape stepped in front, making its presence known to the dazed guard with a hefty slap to the cheek. The taste of blood followed after. The heavy smack acted as a soft reset for his brain, his mind began to clear and the figure before him stepped closer to make themselves known... Lamia. She stopped just inches away from him with a crossbow slung over her shoulder. For some unknown reason, she remained unbound and seemingly smiled at the trio. “Wakey wakey!” cried the bat while she placed her armored hoof on his shoulder and gave him a quick shake. Carmine stares at her, mouth agape in shock. Nothing was making sense. “Geez, Gumshoe, I didn’t think I hit you that hard.” His heart, which was previously beating like a snare drum, had stopped on a dime. He didn’t hear that right. It’s not possible that he heard those words. Lamia wouldn’t do this. "You... You hit me?" Carmine repeated her words. The pungent taste of vomit mingled with the copper taste in his mouth. Just saying those words made him sick. "Why?"
The bat cackled, which soon turned into an uproarious laugh. “You really don’t know? For once in your life, you don’t know something?! That’s funny! Come on then, Mr. Hotshot. Or can you not see us since you’re sitting so damn high up on your ivory tower? The three of you are shackled to a wall, while I'm not. I hit you in the back of the head because I...?” It was startlingly obvious by now, the conclusion had already jumped in his head. The words he wanted that tried to jump out burned a hole in his throat, but saying it wasn’t an option. In his panicked mind, it was only true if he said it. "I-- I don't get it. I don't understand," he quietly repeated.
"Carmine," Valor spoke up. He knew that Carmine wouldn’t accept it without help. Even with the hoarseness, it still sounded so regal. “It’s her. She’s the witch behind the set up.”
A set up. Carmine faintly remembered those words being shouted before everything went dark. Everything came flooding back. Once he was allowed to process it, he started replaying everything in his mind. The mission was too simple. A quick in and out with only one patrol? Under normal circumstances, he felt like he’d have seen a twist like this coming from a mile away, but with Valor’s life on the line, he was blinded. Perhaps he was giving himself too much credit. There was something different about the Lamia in front of him- like when an actor is finally able to let go of their role and be themselves. He wasn’t even sure who he was looking at. A lump formed in his throat that he’d soon try to swallow. “Lamia? You work for the I.I.?" Her response was an overblown sputter. "Work for them? They work for me in a sense,” the thestral cheered, and went for a comically corny bow. “Rumpelstiltskin, at your service."
"But why?"
"I have my reasons. Knowing you, you’ll try to figure it out... but it’s not like you'll have long, the boiler's set to blow, among other things. Cleanup duty. We've garnered too much attention, so we’re leaving, but my employer demanded that I get rid of the rats that have been nipping at our heels for a little too long." Her eyes scanned over her prisoners. Sickening glee overtook her slit eyes. Her resolve softened once she made eye contact with the child. A trace of guilt marred her once beaming face. The poor filly had been struck silent this entire time, and only began to squirm when she felt the bat's eyes on her. "I’m sorry for what happened, but we've gotten what we need from you. Orders are orders,” Lamia said with a reluctant tone. "I hope whatever lies beyond this world is more pleasant to you than this one.”
That set the filly off. She screamed into the cloth and started flailing her body around, sending the shrill sound of the metal clanging bouncing off the room. Carmine felt a burning rage beneath his skin. He didn't care how, he wanted Lamia's head. He lunged at her, only to be instantly pulled back by the chain. He coughed, gagged, whatever his body needed to do in order to reset itself. Lamia didn't even flinch. ”You're still trying? I guess you still haven't learned your lesson. If a blazing inferno won't strike fear into you, I honestly don't know what will. You’ve been needing a good humbling for a while now. Maybe I’ll let off some steam before I go.”
Valor stood on his hooves and puffed out his chest. Only now was Carmine able to see the bruises he’s endured. They looked awful. Some parts even looked like they could very well be cracked yet Valor still stood to face the danger. “Villains like you are never satisfied. You just told us that we’re doomed to die, and yet you insist on beating us further? If there’s even a shred of decency within you, you’ll just leave us to our fate. Together.” The bat blinked and let a laugh loose after a brief pause. Nothing tickled her more than his knight-like bravado! "Wow, chill, you sound like a comic book character. You just don’t understand my struggles. Do you know what it’s like to spend day after day with him nagging in my ear? It’s like an annoying little brother that just won’t. Shut. Up.”
Carmine couldn’t even muster up the strength to speak back. He was only just now beginning to comprehend that their time together was fake. All the laughs and jokes they shared were nothing more than a complicated lie. This brought Carmine to a vegetative state of silence. He didn’t even notice Lamia slinking out the door with a sickening grin on her face. The sound of sharp metal grinding against the steel floor brought Carmine back. Lamia pranced back in, now dragging a pick axe behind her. Dark crimson stained the pointed end of the tool. She felt like the belle of the ball! Both stallions had their eyes in the mystery stain, which prompted another laugh. “Can you believe this was just lying around outside? Figured it’d be a waste to just throw it away.”
As Lamia continued her slow, dreadful pursuit, Carmine could only ask himself one thing: Why? Taking it all into account, the animosity directed at him seemed so odd. Irritation- no, hatred, was definitely a motive... but it wasn't entirely for the reasons she said. Everything moved in slow motion. Lamia lifted the pick over her head. One second felt like six. It gave him time to think.
There’s more to this than just irritation. This is hatred. She wants us to suffer, but me most of all. But why? Time's precious. She only has time to hurt me... which is odd. Valor was smuggling intel. Valor was the real rat. She wants me in turmoil... so why not hurt Valor? If she wanted to really hurt me, she’d hurt him, so why do the opposite? Oh.
He didn't even need to finish the sentence in his head. He got on the right track, and soon everything started falling together like a beautifully crafted jigsaw puzzle, piece by piece it created a clearer picture. There was still some time before Lamia swung and brought it down. With desperation in his voice, he shouted, “Hurting me won’t change how you feel!" It seemed to achieve the results he wanted, as the bat had lowered her weapon and looked her captive with an irritated scowl. "What do you mean?" She took the bait. If he had time, he'd heave a sigh of relief, but escaping was the more pressing issue. Silently, he thanked the stars for a couple extra seconds... it was time to make them count. “It didn’t hit me til just now, but I’m certain of it. You’re in love. And I’m in the way.”
"I'm in love?” Lamia laughed, blinking rapidly. “That's why I'm doing this? Ohoho, nonononono, I'm not letting you get in my head. Do you think I'd actually do this-- all of this, for something as basic as love?" While the bat was distracted, he put his back hoof on the wall and leaned. He had to be slow. Very slow, or else she may figure him out. He only had one shot at this. One mistake and they were all dead. “Not all of this— that ain’t what I’m implying. Val's right. You're wastin' your own time to hurt three dead folks. It ain’t just about you not likin' me, it’s jealousy. You wanna get back at me!” Lamia took a quick couple glances at the knight on the floor, before then focusing back on Carmine her eyes were beginning to shake. "Shut up..."
"Oh, it all makes sense now! How you'd always ask to spar with him, or- or how you'd always volunteer the crappy duties when he would. They were all excuses-- excuses to get him to notice you!"
"Shut up!"
"But me-- an annoying little hayseed from the back end of nowhere, managed to snatch up the stallion of your dreams! Funniest thing is, I didn’t even try! He practically threw himself on me from day one!"
"I SAID SHUT UP!"
"And what makes it even worse? Listen up, Sod, this is the real salt in the wounds-- You thought it'd be a quick little fling between he and I, that you'd get your chance. Maybe I'd break his heart and you could swoop in for the rebound! But to find out that he's plannin' on marrying me?! Boy, I bet that just eats you up inside, don't it?!”
The bat's response wasn't a coherent sentence, but more of a guttural screech as she picked up the pickaxe in a rage-fueld windup. This was exactly what Carmine wanted. Once Lamia brought her weight down, he kicked himself off the wall and lunged to the side, adding some necessary tension to the chain. It broke with just one little swing, snapped off right and granted the red stallion just enough time to deliver a strong punch to the bat's face. She stumbled back into the wall behind her and lied motionless on the steel.
Lamia may not have meant to, but she provided the three with the perfect opportunity to escape. It wouldn’t free them from the metal collars around their necks, but it granted them freedoms from the wall. The child sat down in a fetal-like position, now completely stunned with fear. Valor instantly ran to the girl's side and slowly removed the cloth. "Agnes... it's okay," the knight shushed, offering her a comforting smile. "We'll be safe very soon.” The child's wet eyes looked at Valor. Then Carmine. Then the unconscious bat on the ground. She did an off sniffle-laugh before whispering, "Out in one hit... what a weenie."
Her bizarre comment did spark a laugh from the stallions looming above her. The atmosphere, once heavy and oppressive, now felt light. It was a good change. Valor approached Carmine now, which quickly turned into a running hug and a kiss traveled not too far behind. After two months, Carmine felt all of his worries wash away. How he wish they could’ve been connected for longer... soon, Valor broke away with a frown over his lips. “You knew that I was planning to propose?"
Oops. Carmine blinked. That look of disappointment hit harder than any pick axe could. He quickly looked down at the bat on the floor. “Lamia told me! Completely unprompted, too. I had no idea, you know? What a bitch, just stickin’ her nose into someone else’s business. Can you believe that?” A fib. A pretty obvious fib, judging from how he was shifting. Carmine was generally an okay liar, but when it came to Valor, his brain turned to mush. He took one quick glance at the stallion, and wondered if he fell for it. The questioning look on Val’s face suggested he did not. He needed a quick way to remedy the situation. “Did you... uh, did you wanna hear my answer already, though?"
The pegasus rolled his eyes and let loose a little laugh. “Do you really think I’d have bought the ring if I needed to hear your answer? But... sure. Go ahead and tell me.”
“You know it’s a ye—“
Suddenly, the ground beneath them rumbled. An unexpected force from the bowels of the factory shook, jittering the whole building and shaking debris loose from the ceiling. Time was growing short.
“Hey!” Agnes screamed. “You two are cute and all, but we need to go before she wakes up. And before the whole place blows, preferably.” Though they hated to stray away from each other, the kid was right.
Now, they needed to escape... quietly. The rattling of the chains at their necks made it hard to stay completely silent, but it seemed as if everyone had been evacuated. Even the two guards from before had either woken up or been moved by their comrades, as they were completely gone. The three looked up at the vent. In order to escape, they needed to go up. All eyes were on the resident pegasus. “Can you fly us up?” Carmine asked, peering into the duct. “Not all at once,” Valor responded with a sour sigh. “Agnes and I can go up, but I don’t know if I can carry you up. Not now,” he said, looking shamefully at the bruises on his ankles. His right hoof looked like it was one wrong step from snapping entirely. Valor scanned the area for evidence of another path, or maybe something he could use to lift Carmine out. While looking, he noticed a figure lurking in the shadows of the hall. The glint of metal revealed silhouette.
“Look out!” Valor cried, directly to Carmine. Even with his warning, Carmine didn’t move. But Valor did. He leapt in front of this lover, and took the punishment for it. A shining, steel bolt flung from the figure’s form and launched itself directly into Valor’s side, causing him to cry out in pain. Carmine didn’t even know until he turned around and saw the arrow sticking out from Valor’s hip.
Suddenly, they hear a whistle from down the hall, then a metallic twang. A crossbow bolt was now embedded in the metal beam just inches away from Carmine’s head. He looked behind, opposite of the direction that the crossbow traveled, and saw her. Lamia was at the end of the hall, propped up on a pickaxe and wearing a furious scowl. “GET BACK HERE!"
“Go,” Valor wheezed. Already he could feel his lungs getting heavy. His thoughts turned to Carmine... and how to get him out of there. “No, not without you!” cried Gumshoe. He briefly glanced at the attacker and noticed she threw her weapon down. She ran out of bolts, most likely. Carmine sprung into action. He threw Valor’s hooves over his back and ran directly behind them. If he remembered the layout right, then the exit would be there. The front door, to be more specific. A bold exit, but they were running out of options. Once Valor was out, he could deal with Lamia.
Thankfully, the exit wasn't far off. A few turns in the hall, and a brisk travel up the steps brought them to a suspended metal bridge made of loose grates bolted into each other. A strange walkway, which gave full view of the factory line below. Back when this place was functional, the boss probably used this to linger over his workers and fill them with dread. On the other side was the door, nailed shut with wooden planks, and two damaged windows on either side.
Lamia was still lagging behind. Her slow advance gave the guard a chance to sit their injured down. Agnes and Valor were now safely set at the door... but the shrill voice of the enemy echoed through the chamber. “You three aren’t going anywhere,” she seethed through grit teeth. Carmine stood protectively in front of the two. She was running out of options... a desperate animal is rarely an easy one to take down. He met her gaze and began the slow walk toward her. “Agnes. Get the door.” With a breathless gasp and a nervous nod the filly complied and began kicking at the loose boards.
Carmine charged forward with his head lowered, prepared to take a stance against the bat, but she was quicker. There was a reason her infiltration skills were so highly valued. With each swing of his hoof, she managed to evade in a flurry of wing flaps, using her leathery appendages and smaller form to its fullest advantage by making herself seem untargetable. When he was fully overextended, he gave her the perfect opportunity to wind up for a kick that shot the air straight from Gumshoe’s lungs.
As the ground tumbled beneath him, he struggled to catch his breath. Desperately, he tried to crawl away and managed to wheeze out, “You... You’re... evil...!” He could barely get the last word out. His lungs were completely devoid of air. Each word brought a burning in his throat, like fire. His pathetic display was enough to make her laugh, if only she weren't out of breath. “Evil? You think I'm evil?!" She leaned over the soft spot on his belly and delivered a hefty kick. "I’m SURVIVING, Carmine! Do you know how hard it is to live on the streets as a kid!? Didjya know the stall owners hit you harder if they catch you stealing as a kid? They think they're doing you a favor! Adults? Cops? They won't do shit if you're a bat. They called me filthy, they called me disgusting. A child! They called a child that! So, when my boss approached me, fed me, gave me a place to live, all in exchange for a couple ponies disappearing? Hell yeah I took it and I'd do it a hundred times over!"
On the other side of the bridge, Valor removed himself from death's doorstep and clutched at his broken wing. They were so close to the exit. The moonlight was poking through the gaps in the door. Everything was spinning... he looked at the scared child, desperately prying the final board off of the frame. Their exit was right in front of them. When she noticed the shape moving out of the corner of her eye, she abandoned her task and ran to his side. “Glory!” She cried, running to his side. “Glory, you’re okay! I got the planks off, we can just get your man and go, right?" The knight looked down at his wing. He didn’t feel okay. Everything felt fuzzy, like he was swimming in cotton balls. He looked down at his crimson stained side. The tips of his hooves were starting to feel light. Vision was blurry. He didn't care... all he could think about was escaping, but one obstacle stood in their way: Lamia. He could see her looming over the love of his life through his blurred vision. Valor was in no shape to assist Carmine... the bat was over him, spitting, kicking, doing anything she could to keep Carmine down. As long as Lamia was alive, none of them could get out. That was fact. There was only one way to give them a chance of freedom. He remembered an old proverb from his days studying knights, "A true knight never dies within the comfort of their home."
Valor fought back tears as the conclusion became clearer and clearer. They had only just reunited, yet it seemed fate was keen on separating them again. Slowly, he rose to his hooves. With pained grunts being drowned out by the rumbling of the explosion, he got to his hooves yet again. “Agnes... please, take care of him for me,” the pegasus spoke, forcing a thinly-disguised smile.
“What do you mean?” She replied, her voice wavering. She noticed that he was fiddling with the chain still wrapped around his neck. He kept it pulled tightly around his hooves. "There are may things I'd like to tell him... but since time is short, just tell him that I love him. Okay?" The filly was still running it through in her head. What was he planning? She noticed he kept looking at the oblivious Lamia. “N-No... No! Wait, we can do something—“
But it was too late. Despite his broken wing and bruised legs, Valor charged off with the might of a lion. His one good wing flung him toward the assailant. With a piercing war cry, he wrapped his chain around both of his hooves and brought it around Lamia’s neck, then used his weight to topple the both of them off the bridge into the abyss factory line. With their collective screams trailing off the two tumbled off of the bridge and into the abyss below. Not long after, a fireball arose from where the two had fallen. Carmine didn’t even have the chance to scream before he felt something tugging at his neck.
“HE’S GONE! WE HAVE TO GO!”
A loud boom came from the ground below. Flames and smoke kept bellowing from floors down. It was only a matter of time before the rest of the building followed. One explosion launched him completely out the window, through the glass. He wasn’t conscious for the entire fall. The moments between hitting the widow and waking up to a hard slab of concrete... his leg felt broken, but the pain was insurmountable to the emotional turmoil. There was a sharp pain just below his eye... and all over his right side. Still, he remembered the moments before. He quickly scrambled to his hooves. “Val could still be in there!” Carmine screamed. The frame seemed to be mostly intact. Maybe they missed the blast? He ran to the door and screamed Valor's name, but ust as a small flicker of hope lined his heart, one final explosion marked the end of that hope. The whole building came tumbling down after, leaving only scraps of metal in a pit of flames and shooting Carmine even further back. The skeleton of the factory collapsed. The flames continued. Valor was gone. The child ran to Carmine, her hooves pushed at him but he wouldn’t budge. Sirens could be heard in the distance. The child grew panicked and shoved at Carmine’s side.
“Please, we have to go! I can't be seen!” The kid screamed. But Carmine remained still. A sharp ringing protruded his ears, barely muffling out the groaning metal and the cracking flames. His eyes remained focused on the inferno. Agnes ran around to meet Carmine face to face, and tried to tap his cheeks to get his attention. His eyes, draining of color, drifted down to meet her.
“D..’t trust t.. un....rn ...th...the su....s! ... one of ..em! He’s.... self!"
Whatever she was saying, it sounded important. Her muffled warning fell on deaf ears, quite literally so. As soon as she tried to warn him again, his eyes leaned back up to the flames. Before he knew it, the child had run away and blue and red lights surrounded the building. His uncle ran to his side. Argon followed suit, questioning where the child fled to. Carmine didn’t have answer. The rest of the night was a blur... some ponies in white clothes examined him. They put him in the back of a carriage with a warm blanket wrapped around his shoulders. It was a welcome comfort in the moment, but the heat was beginning to get too much, so he slipped it off.
“You know, the glass almost hit your eye,” the paramedic beside him said, trying to smile as he dabbed a cloth in some peroxide. Carmine could hear the sound of the firehoses battling against the flames. “An inch closer. and you would’ve lost it. You’re pretty lucky.”
Carmine didn’t even notice the shard embedded in his cheek. He reached up to touch it, he felt it, but no stinging. Like the rest of him, the wound felt numb.
He didn't feel lucky. Not one bit.
Carmine Gumshoe
this is a big boy, sorry hrrr 3 more planned parts...... i hate writing
Spirit Weaver
LORE GANG
Spirit Weaver
i can't read right now cuz i'm making zucc bread but gang gang
Carmine Gumshoe
i would like some please
Amity Guard
Why do you make me feel
Carmine Gumshoe
because i do not :satisfied:
Amity Guard
I always make you feel bby
Ephemeria Spring
l o r e
Carmine Gumshoe
lore yes
Chiller Sway
Heck this just reminded me I need to resume lore gang work
Carmine Gumshoe
lore with me
Silver Shield
If only I wasn't lazy and sick
Asuka Yakushi
You have Carmine put in an ambulance, and Asuka isn't the responding paramedic? Sad. I kid. All around a great story. Reminds me of the dozens of other lore/blog posts I need to be working on right now.
Carmine Gumshoe
i thought about it but this was six years ago and i had no clue how long she’s been a paramedic and talking to people make me.......... f e a r :(
Lock On
*frantically searches for typu*
Carmine Gumshoe
please find one, set me free
Alexander ‘Crow’ Kingston
horseband
Carmine Gumshoe
only you horseband :satisfied: