Chapter 9: Escape
Inkblot woke up with a bright light shining in his face. At first, he thought it was Celestia's sun, but after further half-asleep investigation, he found out it was a bright overhanging light. He didn't have one of those in his room. The unicorn felt the white covers. They weren't blue, like his bed's covers. This wasn't his bed. This wasn't his room. Where was he?
Another question was why was he hurting so badly. Especially his head. The pony pulled of his covers to show his body covered in scratches and bruises, looking as if somepony had spilled a bag of red hair onto him and some of them stuck. Regardless of how he looked, he still ached all over, and if his head looked the way it felt, it probably wasn't a sight Inkblot wanted to see.
He was clearly in some sort of hospital. Not the Ponyville hospital. Not the Canterlot hospital. He's never seen this hospital before. It was bright, but mostly grey. For instance, the walls and furniture were in greyscale. In fact, for a while, the pony thought he had gone colorblind. The only color in the room could have been his blue eyes. He had no idea where this bland room was. But he saw a sign on a wall outside his room, and it gave him a better idea. It was labeled "HPIRT HEADQUARTERS IN CANTERLOT".
Inkblot started to freak out. They got him! He
was captured! They were going to take away his memory! Fortunately, they hadn't done it yet, and they didn't bother to restrain him. Escape was placed on the top of his list of priorities.
Lucky for the ink-maned pony, his ponynappers made escape easy for him. The door to the outside was wide open. But the hallways were bound to have some kind of surveillance. He couldn't just waltz out. They had him in a stronghold, and they were just holding him until their memory suppressant restocked. Then it was over. They were going to wipe out everything. Or worse. They were going to kill him!
He walked to the doorway as he rubbed his aching head, and searched the room for a window or something. Some way to get out except for walking out into the open. He saw his opportunity right above him. It was an air vent! Here the pony came to his first issue. The ceiling was high off the ground. Not too high, but definitely out of his reach. Inkblot's mind already had an insane plan to remedy this issue. There was a cupboard that he could climb on top of if he used the counter. Maybe if he jumped from up there, he could make it and climb into the vent.
His magic was shaky and somewhat painful since his horn was cut up, but Inkblot managed to precisely unscrew the grate to open the vent. Inkblot slowly let the unhinged grate down with the screws so that he could put it back. Suddenly, he heard a voice. "Oh! Good to see you awake, Inkblot!"
Acting on instinct and without any thought, he used the grate as a weapon, hitting whoever was behind him. A genius was he. His stroke of genious knocked out the innocent doctor who came into the room. Then again, he might not be as innocent since he probably worked for the HPIRT. The doctor had a pale coat like Inkblot, and he had a red mane. Or, at least he used to have a red mane. Now the doctor was bald and his hairpiece layed on the floor next to him. The pony was wearing a white coat, suiting his profession, and his cutie mark was a red cross, nearly identical to Nurse Redheart's.
Well, he got the grate out of the way, now Inkblot had to deal with the unconscious earth pony. He opened the cupboard that he was about to climb to see if there was enough room for the doctor. No. It was full of syringes and jars filled with unknown chemicals and materials.
Maybe he could put him in the bed. That way nopony would notice him at first glance (since he didn't have his wig), and all would seem normal. The longer it takes before they realized he was gone, the better. Inkblot removed his coat and slid the doctor into his bed with his magic, which hurt even more since it was a larger load. It wasn't long before the bald pony was resting snugly in Inkblot's bed.
Inkblot stepped back to appreciate the work he had done. In fact, without his wig, the doctor almost looked like Inkblot except as an earth pony and no black mark around his eye. Suddenly, Inkblot got an idea! The unicorn put on the doctor's coat and hairpiece. It wasn't effective, but for all he knew, everypony could know what he looked like. It would at least deflect some attention in the event that he was ever out in the open.
The room was set. The decoy was asleep in bed. The air vent was open. Inkblot was ready for his escape. He climbed up onto the counter, which was covered in scattered papers. He climbed slowly since his aching legs were slowing him down. Then the pony climbed up to the cupboard, trying to take as little time as possible.
Inkblot surveyed the scenario. Thankfully, the cupboard was fastened to the wall, so it didn't wobble. The disguised unicorn viewed his targeted hole in the ceiling. It wasn't too far away. He could make it if he jumped far enough. He was handicapped by the lightly burning scratches that peppered him. Despite his sore everything, he took the leap.
Soaring through the air, the unicorn's goal was to at least grab the rim of the air vent and climb into it. He threw his front legs into the ceiling's hole, and hoped for the best. It stung for a good while, his forelegs feeling aflame because of all of his cuts, but he bared his teeth and held on, as if for dear life. It took two stinging minutes, but Inkblot finally threw the rest of his body into the shaft. He used his magic to screw the grate back into place, and his work was done. The room looked exactly the same, only with maybe a paper or two out of place and a different pony in the bed.
The pony was in the airshaft. Part One of his improvised plan was complete. Part Two was even more difficult since it included wandering aimlessly through the airshaft hoping that he was going the right way. The air was turned off, so it gave him even less of an idea where to go. His plan would have been to go with the wind, which would hopefully lead outward, but no wind meant no direction. Following his gut was necessary.
Every so often as he walked through the dim and slightly cramped, he would find a grate for him to peek through to get at least some bearing. Through the grates, he would see hallways from the ceiling that were about as interesting as the air shaft. Similar to the hospital room, there was no color in the hallways, given the exception of the occasional pony. In most cases, he couldn't see anything to point him in the right direction, so the pony trekked on.
After about ten minutes of walking down the airshaft, he noticed that the grates were becoming less and less common. After a while, there simply weren't any more grates. The farther in he went, the darker it got. It wasn't before long he couldn't see his hoof in front of his face. Inkblot considered turning around, but then he remembered that he knew a spell that lit up his horn. His horn would hurt, no doubt, but he needed light if he was going to continue navigating the airshaft. Still walking, he closed his eyes to use the painful light spell. The light definitely made his horn burn a little, as if he were lighting his horn on fire for light. He opened his eyes and looked down to see that the floor ended, and his forelegs led him down the vertical shaft.
Inkblot gave a short scream as he fell. The fall was about six feet, so it hurt, but not too much. If anything, it only hurt because of the sores all around his body. The pony grunted as he hit the ground, but recovered quickly. He looked up to assess what happened. There was no way back up, and the path ahead was nothing but darkness. He couldn't get back up, so he figured he'd light up the path ahead. He gave a sigh to highlight the frustration of his situation, and started walking.
Going down a dark air shaft with no sense of direction gave Inkblot a decent amount of time to think about what was going on. His first question: How did he get all these cuts and bruises? Maybe on his way up, they dropped him? Then again, just dropping him wouldn't do this much to him. Maybe they accidentaly dropped him down a rocky cliff? Yeah... accidentally...if Hopkins led the capture, then odds are using the word "accidentally" was inappropriate.
Next: How did they get him up to Canterlot without him waking up? Better question, how did he get all these injurues without waking up? Maybe he was drugged. That would make sense. They knocked him out and then dropped him on the way up to Canterlot. Or they knocked him out then when they dropped him it knocked him out again. Didn't matter, Inkblot got the idea.
There was one question that bothered the captured pony the most. The memory suppressant would restock for another week according to Franklin, so why haven't they killed him. Maybe they never found the laptop and needed to find out. After all, that's what the big deal was about in the first place. Then again, he didn't exactly hide it away. He put it in a drawer. Maybe they had to run out or something since his dad woke up. Maybe they had to escape out of the window. Then they dropped Inkblot. He had no idea, and took his theories with a grain of salt.
After five minutes of walking straight in the dark, the wandering unicorn came to a cramped four way intersection. Down the left air shaft, he saw a light, which he instinctively followed. "Finally," he said to himself, breaking the silence.
The light was another grate, this one was from above him this time, not below. As he approached it, he heard two distant voices. One was definitely feminine, and one was probably a young male. He dimmed his own light and looked above into the light to attempt to get a bearing. Beyond the grate was another grey room. Apparently whoever made the Headquarters forgot paint. The room was unknown, since the vent's exit was under a table. Inkblot couldn't see much, so he listened. The mare's gentle voice was first. "Because you travelled with him for so long."
Inkblot, looking through the hole, saw whatever he could see from under the table. All that he could see was a mare's flank. His heartbeat jackhammered his chest when he saw her cutie mark. It was the sun. He was staring at the flank of Princess Celestia! Awesome!
The next voice sounded familiar. Even though he couldn't see the source, he identified the source as Spike, Twilight's friend. "Well all that time's gone, isn't it? I beg your pardon, your Majesty, but Twilight needs me back home, and i don't think that they can go without me ANOTHER episode. The HPIRT guys said they needed me for this one."
The gentle voice of Celestia began to simmer with her temper. "They can't just tell you what to do! Have they forgotten who the leader of the land is?"
"Well if you stray too far from what they ask, apparently you will. They have their memory syuff by their side and they can use it any time. In fact, they have a special reserve of the memory stuff just for you, remember?"
The princess gave a laugh, except instead of he usual calm laughs, this one seemed somewhat tense. "I'm surprised that the assistant of my greatest student would believe such a threat."
Detecting the tension, Spike spoke softly. "Well, you've seen what some of these people and ponies can do. You heard about what the guy did to find Trixie."
Inkblot's heart raced. They were looking for Trixie? Why? She quit! Did she take something with her that was important? And most importantly, was she safe? "Who didn't hear about that?" the sun princess asked, already knowing the answer. Well whatever it was, it must have been recent, otherwise Inkblot would know too.
"I might still be a baby dragon, but I know that these guys are crazy! This isn't their world! And the show yesterday shows that maybe these ponies are just as crazy."
Celestia stood up, exposing the purple dragon in front of her to the watching unicorn. The simmer in her voice was lessen, but was still present. "I know that. And I have a solution. They've been trying-"
Suddenly, Inkblot heard a loud humming from behind him. Following it seemed to be a fierce gale coming from behind him. The fan had turned on, and it was blowing hard. So hard that he couldn't hear the conversation anymore. That was a problem! He still had so many questions that they could answer! But he found out that unanswered questions were the least of his problems as the hairpiece of his disguise had blown off and slipped through the grate. Inkblot instinctively tried to grab it before it slipped through, but all he did was make a loud clang that would have gotten her attention if the hairpiece didn't.
The snooping unicorn didn't waste a second. He started running toward the fan, away from Celestia and Spike. He didn't know where he was going, but he knew he was escaping, and that was all that mattered at that point. Inkblot's whole body ached as he ran, and setting his horn aglow stung even more, but the adrenaline brushed the thoughts of pain aside, and amplified his senses to make louder the echoes of his hooves against the air vent.
Inkblot kept running, taking a random set of turns, no longer heading for the fan. Right! Left! Left! Straight! Right! Left! Straight! Left! Left! Right! It was more like a blind rush, than a formulated escape plan. One thing was for sure. There was no way anything could follow him. There was also no way he'd be able to find his way back.
After a couple minutes, he slowed down, convinced that he wasn't being followed. In fact, he wondered if he was ever being followed. Or noticed for that matter. Either way, it was better safe than sorry. He continued at normal pace down the vent, where there were grates on the ground every so often, providing enough light for the unicorn deactivate the spell that burned his horn. Underneath, he could see he was back in the hospital. It wasn't his room, since he dropped a floor after his fall. He continued his direction, trying to go the other way this time.
Now that his mind could function properly again, the pale pony proccessed the situation. So Celestia was against the HPIRT. Perfect! It's always good to have Celestia on your side. But then again, they had her treading on thin ice. If she makes one false move, they'd take her memory away. It really made him wonder what she was planning.
Next, were the HPIRT going to overthrow Celestia? It was far-fetched, but considering what he had heard it was completely plausible. They were giving demands to Spike, which is her job, and they were successfully threatening her. Could they possibly overthrow the Equestrian government? No. The Royal Guard would set 'em straight. But then again, he didn't know what weapons the humans had. He set the question aside for whenever his mind wasn't a chaotic mess like it was at that time.
Next question that would bother him endlessly, Trixie. Somepony was looking for her. Somepony did something huge to find her. Was she still safe? With the little information he had, he still couldn't have been sure. Well, if it was a big story, then that meant lots of news coverage, so odds are she got away. But then again, how would they have known if they hadn't caught Trixie?! Maybe it was confirmed but then she-
Inkblot's train of thought crashed as he crashed. He took another painful fall through an incredibly loose grate. His eyes were squeezed shut from pain, as he heard a voice behind him. "Whoa!" along with a sickly cough from somepony else. The runaway pony looked up to find himself seemingly back where he started. In a hospital room. Instead of the unconscious doctor in the bed, it was a human, with a doctor attending to him. The human was Hopkins.
Inkbloy got up to his hooves, ready for anything. "Hopkins!" he shouted to his enemy as the doctor locked up the door without the unicorn noticing. Hopkins wheezed in response to the ink-maned pony's call.
Hopkins looked terrible to say the least. Every other second he was coughing or wheezing. It was almost as if he was dying, but Inkblot didn't care for the bony human's pity. In fact, he kinda liked seeing the jerk like this. Laying in a hospital bed, feeling worse than imaginable. He felt bad about having these feelings, but it was true. He nearly smiled when he saw his hollow, painful face.
The doctor tried to hold back the angered pony, but he knew it was his chance. The human was weak. He had escaped his dreaded clutches. And now, it was time to end this once and for all.
While Inkblot tried to budge forward from the doctor's restraints only moments earlier, one sentence from Hopkins managed to stop him completely. Hopkind had to cough once or twice to ge out, but it eventually came.
"Well, it's good to see you back on the team, Inkblot."