By Za Raapini
Chapter One: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
South of Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah
Bowers had never seen so much sunlight. His preferred method of conducting business involved suits, keyboards, pens, paper. Not this messy outside business. He was struggling to pay attention to the presentation. It wasn’t as if he was here for that anyways. His job was to reconcile what appeared to be a phenomenal paperwork error regarding funding for this particular project.
He could tell the doctor was wrapping up, and struggled to focus on what was being said.
“So therefore gentlemen, as you can tell, this portal can help us field a tremendous tactical advantage if we are able to properly exploit whatever world lies beyond. By establishing points throughout the other dimension, tactical insertions of Special Forces teams could take place without the risk of unduly losing any equipment.
“Furthermore, it is more than likely that this world that lies beyond will have a number of natural resources for us to exploit. The overall potential from this is regarded as extremely high. Any questions?” Dr. Cintron, lead developer for the latest
DARPA device said.
“Do we have any idea where this portal leads to?” someone in the audience asked.
“Excellent question. From what we can tell based off of our limited scans, what lies beyond the portal is an Earth-like environment, with oxygen and nitrogen levels comparable to ours. Furthermore, soil samples that we have managed to collect with our Hazardous Materials element have proven conclusive as well,” Cintron explained.
“Conclusive in what way?” the same person said.
Cintron paused for a moment before answering.
“It is nearly an exact match to soil samples in this area. There is one thing, and one thing only that sets it apart.”
Bowers watched the spectacle that Cintron was putting on, and was immediately bored by it. The reps that had been sent out to witness the portal’s demonstration however, were captivated beyond all belief.
Idiots. He heard Cintron start talking again, about soil density this and gradient that and blah-de-fuckity-blah, and magic-
Wait. Did he just say magic?
“-And believe me when I tell you that there is simply no way to describe this otherwise. It is magic, pure and simple. We simply do not have an adequate way to express this without referring to it as such.”
Well. That was interesting. Magic huh? Well, if it had stumped the DARPA guys it was bound to be something pretty high-tech. Bowers was moderately curious now. He had been working for DARPA for years now, seen quite a few demonstrations. He had never heard them use the word 'magic.' But that wasn't his area. He was the numbers and paperwork guy, nothing more, nothing less.
He imagined that his bosses back in Virginia were about to be high-fiving each other when they heard it was a successful test.
It was the damndest thing though. Everyone was tracking that this project was due, but nobody could remember where the funding was supposed to have come from. Nobody’s paperwork was matching right now, and Bowers got a headache just thinking about the mess this was going to be.
He was going to have to go back through seven years’ worth of paperwork and then reconcile everything in one master audit.
This shit is going to take all year. Thank God for computers. Otherwise this would be an environmental disaster.
Bowers looked over at the crowd; it was starting to disperse, but the majority were clamoring around Dr. Cintron. Funny thing about him. Official records indicated he had just joined the project a few months back. Why was he giving the presentation?
Error: //Location Unknown//
“I see the fools have begun their inexorable march towards conflict. They are none the wiser?”
“Oh but of course. Ignorant apes. They still fail to realize what is truly taking place here. The humans haven’t even begun to play their part. Are your pieces ready?”
“Begin phase two.”
Langley, Virginia, one week after demonstration
The halls were filled with people moving from office to office, telephones cried out in anger as they were ignored, and the dull roar of conversation could be heard even from outside the walls.
However, one room could not hear the bustling noises that invaded everyone else’s ears at the Pentagon. This room was one of the most secure areas on the entire East Coast, and few people could realize the collective power sitting inside the room.
Representatives from several countries were there, and many were hoping that this could indicate a leap forward in international relations. While the United States was beginning to get on well with the rest of the world, there was still room for improvement. An advisor in the President’s camp had suggested a multilateral action in an effort to ramp it up.
Anyone who was in the room could soak up the tension with a piece of bread. The wizened old men sat around, talking in quiet tones with each other. Nobody knew what to make of the idea of another world. Nobody even knew where to begin with an idea. Most of them threw out ideas involving quiet reconnaissance, perhaps with Special Forces units. One voice began rising up amongst the others, desperate to be heard.
It was he who suggested that they conduct a recon in force, by deploying as many skilled operators as they could spare to the new area. In doing this, they would be able to gain a critical understanding of what lay beyond the portal, and still have the hardware necessary to fight back hostiles.
The room paused for a moment, unsure what to make of this idea. Then, as if a wave passed through the room, approval registered on everyone’s faces.
They agreed to begin the planning in two months after making the cases to their respective governments.
It was the damndest though. The general who suggested the armed recon in the first place died in a car crash a week after the meeting.
Edwards Air Force Base, Nevada, one year after initial presentation
The stage had been set. The proper authorities had been notified. The ducks were all in a row. And so on, and so on. This was it though.
Gunnery Sergeant Alan Johnson walked along the tarmac at Edwards Air Force Base. It had been a hell of an accomplishment gathering up all these high speed guys for this operation. From so many different nations too! They had reached out to NATO to provide a lot of the air support, and talks with Russia and France had succeeded in yielding some ground forces as well.
Hell of an accomplishment.
Johnson hadn’t bothered with getting all of the particulars on just how they had cobbled this thing together. All he had been focused on for the last four months was the mission.
From what he had been briefed on, the goal was to insert the ground forces and begin conducting an ‘armed recon’ to pave the way for future expeditions.
The limited scans they had been able to pull off suggested a mostly desolate landscape, but there was some imagery containing some truly shocking beasts. Shit outta legends, to be honest.
As such, the mission’s rules of engagement were clear: clear any structure, and if at any point you felt your life was threatened, deadly force was authorized.
Johnson was shaken from his thoughts by the realization that it was time for the final briefing. After that, they would board the helicopters and begin their insertion.
Meanwhile, in Equestria...
Rainbow Dash flew over Ponyville, clearing clouds as she went. With no rainstorms to prepare for a while, a week at least, she wanted to make sure the skies were clear and beautiful, and the air plenty warm for her afternoon naps.
Looping back around, she determined that that was indeed the last of the clouds. Rainbow began heading towards Sweet Apple Acres, looking for a comfy branch to fall asleep on. Looked like it was going to be another good day.
Yep, just gonna lie down, take a nap, maybe see what the gang is up to later, Rainbow thought. Just as she closed her eyes, she felt, and heard, an odd thumping sound.
Never heard anything like that before...bunch of pegasi maybe? Oh no! What if it's the princesses? Or the Wonderbolts! Can't let them see me napping! Rainbow thought with panic. She shot up out of the tree and looked to see where the sound was coming from. The west? What could possibly be causing the noise? She flew closer, determined to get to the bottom of this.
What she saw frightened her more than anything else had in her entire life.
A/N: Salutations! It's a return to writing fanfic for me, and I admit that this may be a little bit clunky. I know what you're all thinking: A My Little Pony fanfic, and yet the MLP universe barely had a nod in this chapter! All in good time friends. I'm open for constructive criticism, and any repairs to the plot machine or the grammar modulator are welcome. A few spanners got thrown loose recently, and the entire Manufactorum in general is suffering from a sad state of disrepair. Alright, enough literary and game references. This is Za Raapini saying, Good night, and good luck.
By Za Raapini
Chapter Two: Hole in the Sky
Rainbow Dash stared slack-jawed at what she saw, and her body rebelled against the foreign feeling that was washing over her. Her brain tried to comprehend what she was witnessing. Three circles of purple light were just...floating, in the sky. Coming out of them were creatures, creatures she had never seen before in her life. The cyan pegasus hovered in the sky, hesitating. What should she do? Moreover, what could she do? Her pulse quickened, and her brain scrambled in a million different directions, trying to come up with an idea.
"Who would know… who would" Rainbow trailed off, and she mentally slapped herself for not coming to the conclusion sooner. Twilight. Of course she would be prepared for this!, With that, the cyan mare turned and sped towards the unicorn's home. The lavender unicorn would have answers for her. She always had the answers. Once she got Twilight on the case they could begin planning.
At least, that was the concept.
"Jesus Christ, you guys see that?" a pilot exclaimed over the net. All twenty five helicopters were now through the breach, rotors whirring and thumping.
“Keep this net clear. All Whirlys, break off and drop off your loads. Pre-designated units, establish your cover patterns after releasing your men,” another voice said.
“This is Overlord. Fixed wing air support is ready when you need it. Establish a tempo, and press the advantage. Remember the ROE, leave no building unsecured. Good luck out there.”
“Solid copy Overlord,” Major Picante, the on-the-ground commander said.
Rainbow finally spotted Twilight's house, and made a beeline for it. She stopped just outside the door and began pounding on it.
Spike came to open the door, and before he could even say anything Rainbow was already brushing through into the house.
“Twilight! Twilight! Twilight!”
"Upstairs!" came Twilight's reply. She started walking down her staircase.
"What's up Rainbow? Why are you out of breath?" Twilight said, concerned for her friend.
"Out... outside, quick, come," Rainbow said.
"Why? What's going on?" Twilight started to say. Then she heard it. Rainbow instinctively flinched.
One of the black things flew right over the house. Then... stayed there. What was happening?
"Rainbow, get inside. Catch your breath. I'll see what I can find out," Twilight said.
"As if! I'm coming with you," Rainbow spat out.
"Rainbow this isn't the time-what are those?" Twilight began, and then stopped as it appeared... rope was dropping out of the beast in the sky.
Twilight turned around and yelled inside to Spike. “Send a letter to Princess Celestia, Spike! Tell her we need help!”
She walked closer towards the horror. The wind was unreal right beneath it. Twilight fought to keep her eyes open against its fury. She craned her neck upwards to try to look at the monster.
That was when Rainbow came out, ready for a fight, and ended up with her mouth agape right next to Twilight. Creatures were dropping down, with bulky bodies, bulbous heads, and sinister looking black things strapped to their backs. They were tan in color, and looked like no being Twilight or Rainbow had ever seen.
Then Twilight finally reacted and shot a beam of magic at the beast, enveloping it, hoping to keep it in place. At least long enough to try to get a good look at it. The creatures continued dropping out, landing about one hundred feet away from where the two ponies were. She could see the monster moving left and right, trying to break free of her grip.
Rainbow, seeing that Twilight had the beast in her grip, flew up, looking to see where she might be able to help out. Seeing more of the creatures in the sky scared her, but she swallowed, determined to put a stop to this. She took off after one, a rainbow trail left in her wake.
Inside the cockpit, CWO4 Perez and CWO3 Collins were a bit curious at what was happening. They tried moving their bird a little, just to see what effect that...unicorn was having on it. Stuck, but not immobile. Rotors were still turning. Total flight time was only seven minutes, so fuel wasn't a concern in case they decided to go to one hundred percent thrust. They tested the various systems. Hydraulics were good. Electrical was good. It was kinda like a tractor beam.
Perez rolled to Delta's radio channel and began speaking.
"Dread Actual, Dread Actual this is Whirly One Five."
"Go ahead One Five."
"Roger, have encountered one of the locals. Has us caught in a tractor beam. Dread One Two is done fast roping, we're going to see if we can power out of this."
"... Say again One Five. It sounded like you said 'tractor beam.'"
"Yeah, that's affirm. We have limited mobility, good altitude, fuel is good, we're going to increase thrust and try to power out of this. We'll be RTB if that works."
"Whirly One Five out."
On the other side of town, another Task Force helicopter happened upon a rather large orchard. Could be the primary food source for the area, and maybe a focal point for resistance if things got hairy. They decided to drop off the squad there to establish dominance.
"You see that clearing in the trees there? About five hundred meters from the farmhouse? We'll drop low, let the guys jump out, give it some throttle, get out of here," one of the pilots said.
"Roger that," the other responded. He switched to the freq the MARSOC guys were on.
"One minute. We're gonna drop down low, you guys disembark, we fly off. Easy day," the pilot said.
Down below they could see movement; some of the livestock and work animals appeared to be loose. Looked like a stallion was running back towards the buildings off in the distance, and another horse was galloping around. It appeared to be... wearing a hat.
"Apple Bloom! Are ya out here?" Applejack shouted. Getting no response she kept running, trying to find her, get her out of here before the monster in the sky could begin hurting them. It appeared to be getting lower every second.
"Apple Bloom!" she shouted again, then with a start remembered that her and her friends had been playing in their clubhouse. She shot off in that direction, then stopped. She would lead this monster right to her little sister and her friends if she did that.
"You ain't hurtin' mah lil' sister," Applejack said to herself as the beast came down near the ground. Then she saw its sides open, and even more monsters got out! Bulky bodies, evil looking things on their backs. They noticed her and began moving slowly in her direction. The big monster, apparently out of little ones to unleash, lifted back off into the sky with a tremendous roar and wind.
"Maybe if I‘m careful, I can take 'em out one at a time," Applejack said to herself. She noticed one of them looking at her, his black stick in his arms. He put it into one, and began waving to her. Not suckered in by its pathetic attempts to ensnare her, Applejack leapt forward, turned around, and kicked it square in the chest. She felt something break when she did so, and while she hated the idea of violence, she couldn't afford to dwell on it. Not when her little sister was at stake.
She dashed away, expecting the others to charge after her to avenge their fallen comrade. To her shock, she noticed them carrying him behind a tree, the others looking around warily while this happened. What was going on?
"Corpsman! Corpsman! Get over here!" Gunny Johnson yelled. He couldn't believe it. Not one minute on the ground and they already had a casualty. He looked down at Pryor. His breathing was labored, and they had all definitely heard his ribs crack when the horse kicked him. It ran off after it did it, and Gunny Johnson was mad.
Mad at himself, and a little mad at Pryor. Mad at himself for not stopping Pryor from waving to the horse. Mad at himself for agreeing to be dropped in at this location. If not here, then where? The farmhouse? Yeah, let's let a bunch of hick motherfuckers with plenty of guns get a good firing position at a helicopter. That'd be genius, Johnson thought to himself. He caught a glimpse of the horse that had kicked Pryor running off.
They'd obviously spooked the poor thing, between their landing, and Pryor waving to it. He couldn't really blame the horse for kicking him. It was obviously terrified of what was going on.
Johnson was interrupted from his thoughts by Doc Richards, who came rushing up to Pryor.
"What happened?" Richards asked as he removed Pryor's gear.
"Got kicked in the chest by a horse. We're pretty sure he got some of his ribs broke," Johnson replied.
"He's having difficulty breathing, and we definitely don't have the capabilities of treating broken bones out here. We need to CASEVAC him," Richards said.
"Figured that. O'Brien! You got that 9-line ready? Get with Doc! We're getting Pryor out of here!"
As the Marines rushed about, preparing to CASEVAC Pryor, Johnson stole a glance at where the horse had run off to. To his shock, it was still there. Looking at them. It was wearing a hat. What kind of farm puts hats on horses? Johnson had never been a fan of this mission; too many unknowns, too many chances for confusion. This didn’t seem like the type of place to try and start a fight. So why the display of power?
One way or another, he'd get answers for his Marines.
Back in Ponyville, Khrutov and his squad were awaiting the order to insert. Craning his neck to look outside, he could see that area was not ideal for an insert. Too many buildings, too many chances to get picked off while conducting a fast-rope. The lack of gunfire in the area however gave him some hope that the mission wouldn’t be too difficult, and they would be able to move on and conduct reconnaissance soon afterward.
His train of thought was broken by the helicopter stopping and the blaring voice in his ear telling him to kick the ropes and drop down. Time to get to work. He glanced at his squad as they dropped down, making sure it was a clean insert. As the last man went down, Khrutov followed suit and took in his surroundings.
With the Spetsnaz on the ground, the pilots in the helicopter gave it some throttle and started flying up and out away from the town. They spotted something heading their way from off in the distance. A chariot? And flying horses? Seriously, what the fuck was going on?
“Overlord, this is Whirly One One.”
“This is Overlord.”
“Roger, we’re seeing some additional flyers in the area. Request you send in fixed wing to help it settle.”
“Roger One One, Havoc Five One and Havoc Five Two are en route.”
“Roger Overlord. One One out.”
Two F-22s outta help the situation here a little bit.
Satisfied that the situation would be resolved, the pilots of One One decided to do a few laps around the town, make sure things were calm enough to leave for a bit.
“Whirly One Five, Whirly One Five this is Dread One Two,” SFC Ramos said. His squad had moved out a bit after fast-roping into the town, and wanted to make sure the pilots were still okay.
“Send it One Two.”
“Roger, we’re about 200 meters away to the northeast, do you need assistance?”
“Negative. That horse looks like it’s getting tired. We’re gonna give it a minute then goose the throttle. Appreciate the concern.”
“Roger. We’ll be nearby. Give the call if you need it.”
“You got it.”
“One Two out.”
Ramos wasn’t sure what to do in this situation. His whole military career had been based around swift and violent assaults. Swiftness wasn’t the issue. Nine minutes on the clock, and already ten of the operator squads had been deployed. Given that they knew absolutely nothing about this area, where the center of gravity was for these guys, terrain, expected times for armed response, this mission was going as smoothly as it could.
Except where the fucking people? All he had seen were horses. Pegasi, unicorns, regular horses; seriously, there was something wrong with this place.
But where were the people? Ramos looked around. There was every indication there was a civilization here. Shaking his head, Ramos looked at his squad and motioned for them to patrol the area. There were buildings nearby that needed to be cleared.
Time to do some digging.
Twilight Sparkle was in hell.
Oh sure, maybe not literal hell, not in the depths of the pit of Tartarus, but close enough. She could feel her will to do anything being sapped out of her by this beast. Every time she thought she had a grip on it, it threatened to break free again. It seemed to have an unlimited amount of power, and there was nothing she could do to stop it.
She risked opening her eyes to see what happened with the things it had dropped out of it. She could see one of them staring at her from a good distance away. She wondered what he was thinking about the situation. Probably more than her. She was a tad occupied at the moment.
Suddenly the beast surged with new found power, and Twilight cursed herself for her momentary lapse in concentration. Gritting her teeth she applied more power to the spell and managed to re-corral the damn thing before it flew up. Gradually she upped the ante, giving it her all to try and bring it down.
Despite everything, it still remained there in the sky, looking down on her, taunting her.
Letting her know how bad the situation was.
“Whirly One One, this is Shadow Two. We have deployed and are beginning our patrol. Request you provide aerial surveillance,” Sgt Khrutov said into his mike. His squad had regrouped after the fast rope insertion, and began taking defensive positions.
“Roger Shadow Two. Be advised, Havoc Five One and Havoc Five Two will be on station in approximately five mikes. Have your controller ready to take charge.”
“Roger. Siege Four Two will be ready to control them once the word is given. Are there any other squads who will be needing their use?”
“Negative, it’s quiet right now.”
“Roger, Shadow Two out.”
“Break break break,” came over the radio. Khrutov felt his breath stop and his heart rate pick up. Quiet? Then what was so urgent?
“Stand by for 9-line CASEVAC.”
“Gentlemen, two teams of five. Begin clearing houses in the immediate area. Detain any people you find. We will begin questioning them on the lack of response,” Khrutov said to the squad. They nodded in the affirmative.
“Move out.” The ten Spetsnatz operators began swiftly moving through the area, all the while hearing the 9-line coming through on the net. Broken ribs. Not quite what Khrutov was expecting. His heart rate slowed back down. Most likely they spooked some farm animal, or perhaps he had fallen out of the helicopter.
Still, it was one less man, and from what Khrutov had seen at Edwards, the Marines that had been selected for this mission were capable and well trained. Which made the assumption of one of them falling out a little off base.
Khrutov shook his head. It would not do well to dwell on thoughts when there was a mission to be accomplished. He spotted a large, ornately decorated building. He could smell baked goods emanating from it. Obviously some type of food shop.
“Dynamic entry, bottom floor, flashbangs through first entrance, weapons on burst,” Khrutov said to his team. They nodded silently, ever the professionals.
“Stack up.” As the team moved in on him, he could see the other detachment doing the same on another building. Ideally there would be minimal bloodshed, and a field headquarters could be established in one of these buildings. Something to provide a spot to plan their next move.
“Breach.” The door was violently kicked in, and two flashbangs flew in the building. They waited a beat, and the grenades went off with a loud blast and blinding light, ideally confusing and disorienting anyone inside with a weapon trained on the doorway. The team rushed in, sweeping the corners and ensuring there were no hostiles inside.
Truth be told, Khrutov was a little disappointed that there was nobody to engage. He paused, the first floor cleared, and gathered himself. Then he heard noises. Crying.
“Children in this domicile Sergeant. Suggestions?” Fetisov, one of his team leaders, said. A level headed individual, he could be counted on to make the right decision in just about every situation. This one included.
“Continue clearing. Soft knocks. Isolate the room with the children and refrain from weapons discharge unless you feel your life is threatened.”
Pinkie Pie was scared. Not good scared like Nightmare Night scared either. When she first felt the vibrations, Pinkie’s thoughts immediately went to some type of party. It was the only explanation for there being so much noise. Then she remembered that she wasn’t throwing a party at the time.
The Cakes immediately went upstairs, and encouraged Pinkie to follow them. Not really wanting to see what would happen, Pinkie did just that.
The roaring noises outside still hadn’t abated, and then two loud bangs were heard downstairs and the sound of things rushing inside.
To make matters worse, Pound and Pumpkin were bawling their eyes out, and really who could blame them? Pinkie was trying to help console them. She gulped, and nervously went to the door. She put an ear next to it, trying to hear what was going on.
Voices. So at least whatever had come to Ponyville could talk. But it was a language that Pinkie had never heard before, a harsh, angry sounding language. Well, that wasn’t very fun.
Then she heard them soften, and realized with a panic they had heard the twins.
“The rest of the building has been cleared Sergeant. This is the room with the children, presumably with the inhabitants of the building as well,” Fetisov said.
“Very good. Careful and considerate approach here gentlemen,” Khrutov said. He walked forward and knocked on the door.
“Hello? Anyone there inside? Military,” Khrutov said, struggling to spout out the words in English. He’d never quite gotten the hang of the language.
“M…military?” he heard coming from the other side of the door.
“Correct. Talk is what want,” Khrutov said, slightly embarrassed at his lack of command of the language. Hopefully they could get some type of information out of these people, and if worst came to worst, detain them and let the Delta guys take care of it. He shuddered at that thought. Delta wasn’t known for their mercy in field interrogations.
He heard footsteps, heavy ones, although it made sense, given the nature of the building they were in. Khrutov allowed himself a small smile. They were getting somewhere. Then he saw the door open.
Pinkie Pie couldn’t believe herself. Here she was walking to the door, more confused than she had ever been, going to talk to some guys that said they were…military? Pinkie had never heard of such a thing. She opened the door to one of the strangest creatures she had ever seen.
Abandoning all pretext of logic and reason, Khrutov and his team stormed into the room, knocking the pink horse (pink horse? Really?) out of their way, weapons trained on everything that moved, and began yelling at them. Unfortunately, Khrutov knew that his English went right out the window when he was in any type of excited or agitated state. Therefore, it came out as Russian, and any hope of this situation calming down was lost.
Pinkie Pie wondered what had upset the thing in front of her. He was shouting at her angrily, with a strange gleam in his eyes. Shouting was never fun, and she wondered what she could do to try to get it to calm down. She ran through a mental checklist of things, but as most of it revolved around jokes or food, she was drawing a blank as to what would work.
Then she saw one of them lean towards the shouting creature, and he stopped all of a sudden. This was strange, but Pinkie wasn’t going to argue with it. She was happy the shouting had stopped, and things calmed down, if ever so slightly.
“Sergeant, shouting at horses will not help us to understand what is happening. We should calm down and try to avoid spooking them further. There is a bed here. Someone has to live here,” Fetisov said smoothly, trying to bring his friend back from the brink of making a poor decision. He saw Khrutov stop shouting, and watched as he closed his eyes for a brief moment.
“Um…can we…can we help you?”
Now even Fetisov was shocked. Did…did one of them just talk?
Mercifully the radio keyed in at that particular moment.
“Siege Four Two, Siege Four Two, this is Havoc Five One, checking in on station. Guns are tweaked, foxes are hot, and we have joker plus four five playtime available.”
At once, Konstantinov, their JTAC, keyed the mike.
“Havoc Five One this is Siege Four Two. Roger. Need you to conduct aerial scan of the town to the west. Call in any targets that you see,” he said.
“Roger. Be advised, there is a flying chariot with a large horse inside it, flanked by six flying horses. Want us to smoke it?”
“No! That’s Princess Celestia! It has to be!” they heard one of the horses shout out.
The five men and five horses sat there in dumbfounded silence for a beat.
“Siege Four Two, copy my last?”
“Affirm. Hold fire for now. Stand by for further tasking. Siege Three Three may have something for you.”
“Roger. Havoc Five One out.”
The men stared at the horses, wondering what exactly they had gotten themselves into.
Johnson looked around. The 9-line had been sent up, and Whirly One One was coming in to pick up Pryor. He looked up to make sure the skies were clear when he noticed some objects up there. Fast movers. Not theirs.
“Hey Gunny! Havoc is on station! Any tasking?” he heard his JTAC, Sgt Yun say.
“Show of force! Get these fuckers off our backs while we get Pryor out!”
“You got it! Havoc Five One, Havoc Five One, this is Siege Three Three. I need you to conduct a Show of Force from northeast to southwest of our position to be marked by air panel, maintaining no more than zero one zero zero meters off the deck, moving as fast as you feel comfortable.”
“Roger, Show of Force at good speed skimming the trees. Stand by gents, it’s about to get noisy down there.”
Celestia was rather taken aback. When she had received the letter from Spike, she had been expecting a report on friendship perhaps. Not that one of her towns was under attack.
She could never have guessed what would be waiting for her as she rounded up the royal guard and some of the Wonderbolts to go assist Ponyville.
Monsters. The likes of which nobody in Equestria had ever seen. She didn’t panic. It wouldn’t do well to panic in this situation. But she was beyond curious as to what was happening. She heard a whooshing sound, and a small smile appeared on her face. Rainbow Dash was flying up to them. Perhaps she could tell them what was going on.
“Princess! It’s not safe up here, you have to get down on the ground!”
Celestia was taken aback by this. Rainbow seemed scared, and in all her encounters with the young pegasus, she had never seemed afraid of anything.
Spitfire, flying with her on her left, looked at Rainbow.
“Whoa, kid, calm down. What’s going on?”
“Spitfire! Everyone! Trust me! You have to get down on the ground right now!”
That was when they heard it. An otherworldly roar crashing through the skies.
“I feel it would be best to follow her advice. Ground. Now,” Celestia said with authority. Immediately they dropped down, Rainbow Dash trailing behind them.
Right as they touched down, they heard a tremendous boom, and saw two flying creatures soar through the sky, looking as menacing as they sounded.
“Havoc Five One, Siege Three Three. Good effect on target, repeat mission.”
“Roger, repeating mission.”
Celestia, her guard, the Wonderbolts, and Rainbow looked up to see the…demons, that was the word that Rainbow had been looking for the whole time. The demons came back around, flying very low, very fast, and very loudly. Rainbow watched in awe as clouds formed around their heads as they breached the sound barrier.
They came roaring overhead with an incredible boom and continued on.
That was when Celestia noticed almost a dozen strange bipedal creatures almost five hundred yards away. She was about to move towards them when an ominous thumping filled the air, and another demon, differently shaped, dropped in between them. She could see some type of activity going on, but was unsure as to what it was.
“Let’s go! Move move move! Get him on board!” Johnson yelled to the stretcher team. Pryor was going to be okay. The bird was here, he was getting loaded on, and there was an Air Force base right on the other side of the portal. Things were going to be okay.
“Havoc Five One, Havoc Five One, good effect on target, good effect on target. Ask that you switch tasking to aerial surveillance,” Yun said.
“Roger, good copy Siege Three Three. We’ve been reduced to joker plus three five mikes on station after the show of force.”
“Roger Havoc Five One.”
To say Fluttershy was terrified would be a bit of an understatement. About to have a nervous breakdown would likely be a more accurate statement. Ever since she had heard the powerful thumping noises she had ushered all of her animals inside her cottage and bolted the door as best she could, in a desperate attempt to keep whatever was entering the town from getting in.
She knew, in the back of her mind, that it wasn’t going to stop them.
She heard one of the monsters coming through the sky and hid under her couch, Angel held close to her. The rabbit was relatively docile for once, and for that Fluttershy was grateful. The last thing she needed right now were his usual antics.
She heard indistinct voices coming from outside and she huddled closer to the ground. Maybe they would come in, see nothing, and move on. Fluttershy kept up this line of hopeful reasoning for a minute or two, right up until the door exploded in a powerful spray of wooden daggers.
Animals Fluttershy had never seen before came charging through the open space, yelling out words and swinging strange sticks around. She kept quiet, hoping that they wouldn’t see her. Unfortunately, Angel saw this as a prime opportunity to be aggressive.
He squirreled his way out of Fluttershy’s grasp and ran up to one of the strange creatures, trying to deliver a kick. Fluttershy let out a small gasp as she watched, then immediately regretted doing such.
“Hey, look at this. You ever seen a rabbit act like this?” she heard one of them say. Maybe they hadn’t heard her?
“Can’t say I have, mate. I’ve also never seen a horse laying down underneath a couch. What a day, huh?” she heard another say.
Oh no! Oh no, no, no, no. They… they saw me! What are they going to do? Fluttershy thought in a panic.
“Is that horse… yellow? Oi, Captain! We got something weird here!” the creature shouted. Whatever this ‘Captain’ was,
Fluttershy didn’t want to meet it. She tried to bolt out and make her escape, but Angel, of all things, got in her way. He was frowning at her and stamping his foot.
“Angel, no! We have to go!” Fluttershy said with as much volume as she could muster. Just then she heard all the creatures stop moving, and she could feel all of their eyes on her.
“You… you talked. Captain, apparently those radio transmissions were not in error. You want me to notify Daredevil Actual?” she heard one say.
“Yeah, go ahead and do that. Oi, horse, what’s your name?” the one who was apparently named Captain said.
“Uhm… Flut… Fluttershy,” she responded. As least they weren’t attacking her. That was a start. Hopefully they would leave and never return soon.
“Interesting name. I’m Captain McCollum. I am a member of the British Special Air Services. We didn’t mean to startle you. Our mission brief didn’t really account for talking horses. We’re going to be on our way now, okay? We’re um… sorry about the door,” the Captain said.
“It’s… it’s okay,” Fluttershy said. They were leaving, and they were sorry about her door? Could she have been wrong about what was happening?
She heard a strange scratching noise fill the room, and noticed one of the creatures touching its head. She could hear something being said, but couldn’t quite make out the words.
“Sir, that was Daredevil Actual. Rally point is the town. Non-hostile environment. Shift mission parameters,” it said. Non-hostile environment? Rally point? What exactly did they mean by all that was said?
“Alright gents, let’s get moving. Again, sorry about the door. Get in touch with us later, bill us for it. Let’s get moving!” the Captain said as the creatures moved out of her cottage.
Fluttershy stood there, bewildered by what had transpired. In the span of a few minutes her door had been obliterated, she had met strange creatures, and they had left. As scared as she was, Fluttershy was also intensely curious as to what had happened today. Taking a deep breath, she made her way out of her cottage, intent on talking to Twilight and asking her what she knew.
Twilight was on her last dregs of energy, the tethering spell taking just about everything she had to keep going, when suddenly the pressure she was feeling in her head dropped considerably, and the winds picked up. She risked opening an eye to see the creature dropping down. What was this?
Exhausted, she finally released the spell, not caring whether the monster did anything to her or not. She was drained of every fiber of her being. She just couldn’t do it anymore. This was the end of Equestria. She had failed everyone. Princess Celestia, her friends, all of Ponyville. She just couldn’t fight them anymore. She resigned herself to her fate, when she noticed that the winds stopped.
The roaring stopped. Then she heard footsteps approach her.
“You alright?” she heard. She was on the verge of unconsciousness, when she felt something splash her. Water.
“Hey. You alive?” Twilight was a bit irritated. Surely they would be able to see the rise and fall of her chest as she breathed in and out.
Groaning weakly, she tried to stand up and face down the creatures. But she literally had nothing left in the proverbial tank, and she collapsed nearly as soon as she went up.
“Hey, easy now, easy now. Rest up. Here, try this,” the creature said to the purple unicorn. She could hear the crinkling of a wrapper, and a delicious aroma filled her nose.
“Wha…” was she could manage.
“It’s granola. It’s good,” was the response she got. She could feel them placing it on her tongue.
“Ta…tasty.” Twilight chewed the snack and swallowed it. It could have been poisoned for all she cared. She was just so tired.
For now, she was content to lay here and rest, letting her magic replenish and her body recuperate. Answers would come.
She was sure of it.
“…and not one minute into it, we’re already down a man! So I’m thinking, you know, shit. We just got here and we already took a casualty? Where’s all the people? You know? Eight years in this shit, and I ain’t never seen nothing like it!”
“F’real man! This shit was fucking outrageous. Can’t wait to get back to Cali, get ready to go do an actual mission. This is not what I joined MARSOC to do!”
Collins looked up as he heard the voices. Must be the MARSOC guys who landed near the farm. In the turmoil of the insertion, he’d forgotten they lost a guy. Broken ribs. He made a mental note to ask them how it happened later.
Major Picante walked up, shaking Collins out of his thoughts. Where the fuck did he come from?
“You don’t get to lead a Special Operations Task Force without being damn good at it yourself. You the boys who got caught by some type of beam earlier?” Picante said, seemingly reading his thoughts.
“Yes sir. No damage to the bird, and when you sent the word to go firm, we decided to land. Why’d you say we’re in a…’decidedly non-hostile environment’ anyways?” Perez asked.
“Well, despite the rather rude manner you came here, I felt it wouldn’t be proper to not at least greet you,” they heard a voice say.
“Gentlemen, meet the big kahuna for this area- Princess Celestia.”
A/N: Can't say I'm happy with the end of this chapter, but I couldn't think of a good way to end it. Movin' on. I realize I toss out a lot of jargon and military specific nomenclature and the like in my writing. If you would like, I can start putting a glossary of terms at the end of each chapter. I'm loathe to do that, for the same reason I loathe writing author's notes: artificially inflated word counts. But, if there's interest in them, so's youse guys can get a better idea of what people's jobs are and glean a better understanding of what in the fuck exactly is going on, I'm down. As always, I hope you enjoyed the writing, and if you have any questions, bitches, moans, complaints, gripes, constructive criticism, flames, admiration's, trollin' to do, hatin' to do, drop me a line. Leave a comment. Send a letter. Shit. This is Za Raapini, wishing you Lady-like Luck tonight.
By Za Raapini
If someone were to walk to Sugarcube Corner for any reason they would have seen a rather shocking sight: nearly one hundred and fifty Special Operators sitting around, along with around twenty five ponies.
If they were to look inside, they would have seen an even more shocking sight: both Royal Sisters together in the same place out in public. With their royal duties leaving little room for dual public appearances, to see them both out of the Palace gave most ponies quite a start. To put the icing on the metaphorical cake, they were talking with several of the strange creatures called ‘humans’ who had just made contact with their world.
Outside, the men were getting bored. They all wracked their brains, trying to figure out ways to pass the time while the meeting was occurring. The Major had ordered them all to stand down; no patrols were to be pushed out, nothing that could be misconstrued as hostility.
Some of them had taken advantage of the time to clean their weapons. Others were huddled up in groups, talking. Jokes were being spit out at a rapid rate from those groups, judging from all the laughs.
The Elements of Harmony sat across the street from where many of the men were sitting. They were still unsure of what to make of the situation, not knowing what was going on inside Sugarcube Corner. The Princesses had expressly forbidden any of them from taking part in the meeting. The Royal Guard flanked the doors to the building, preventing anypony from getting inside.
No one doubted that if the humans wanted to get inside, they could.
Applejack was a bit more uneasy than she would like to admit. When she had kicked one of them, she had never thought that they would be thinking, speaking beings. She looked over at the group she had encountered at her farm. They all had scowls on their faces, and several of them had strange sticks in their mouths which gave off an acrid smell.
Twilight saw Applejack looking over at them and walked over next to her.
“What’s wrong AJ?”
“I feel bad fer what I did. I kicked one of them full on…his chest sorta caved in. I think…I think I hurt ‘im real bad.”
“Well…the least you can do is go over and talk to them. Tell them you’re sorry for kicking one of them. At the very least, they might enjoy the company. All of these guys are starting to look bored. I think one group even made a game out of throwing rocks.”
“I…I guess yer right Twilight. I’ll go over an’ talk to ‘em.”
As soon as Applejack said the words, she noticed one of the men listening intently to something, and then yelling to his friends. They all relaxed somewhat, and small smiles appeared on their faces.
Well, guess I’d better go talk to ‘em. Oh, I got myself in a big mess this time Applejack thought to herself. To be honest, she would rather not be going over at all. She just wanted to go to sleep, wake up, and find out this was all some sort of weird dream. She knew that couldn’t be the case though.
As she walked up to them, she froze. What if they attacked her? Her friends would no doubt help, but if that morning was any indication, there wasn’t much they could do to stop the humans if they decided to get angry.
Plowing through her insecurities, she walked up to the group and began to talk.
“How…howdy y’all,” she said, not knowing how to open up the conversation. All of them turned to look at her.
“Wait a minute…you’re the one who kicked Pryor. What are you doing here?” one of them said.
“I wanted ta apologize for what I did. I was scared…y’all came out of the sky, and I was worried about mah little sister.”
“Takes balls to apologize after doing something like that, kid, but then again brought it on himself by being a dumbass. Raised on a farm, thinks he knows everything about animals; he’ll be okay though. Docs said he’ll be out of commission for about six months or so. Shoulda figured something was up when I saw you wearing a hat. Guess we didn’t really know what to expect here, but shit coulda been a lot worse I guess. Pryor will be fine, and from the looks of it here, losing one man ain’t gonna make too big a difference,” Gunny Johnson said.
“Why do ya say that?”
“Well, normally, in a combat environment, losing one man can make a big goddamn difference. But here, well, looks like we won’t be doing much, if any, direct combat. Which is both good and bad,” Johnson replied.
“Well, how could that be bad? Do you guys like fightin’ or somethin’?”
“We’re, quote unquote, professional warfighters. We get paid to pull triggers and put people down. By us being here, and not in a place where we can do our jobs, bad guys might be succeeding.”
“What are y’all doing here then?”
“Your guess is as good as ours. With the amount of shit they gave us to bring with, along with all the briefs, just about all of us were expecting a hail of gunfire as soon as we crossed through. The brass had a new toy, and we were the guinea pigs. If I were you though, I wouldn’t get used to seeing our faces. This mission is a waste of resources for guys like us.”
Despite herself, the orange earth pony bristled at the last comment. “Now what exactly do ya mean by that? We ain’t worth your time or somethin’?”
“Listen, kid, what you see around you are some of the best trained fighters in the world. The entire reason our teams exist are to gather intelligence and kill people without anyone knowing we were there. There’s some merit to some aspects of this mission, and I’m sure once our policy makers get ahold of this issue, they’ll try to hammer out some type of trade agreement. But like I said, our primary job is to kill people, very efficiently, while collecting as much intelligence as we can. I don’t foresee the first one occurring here, and there are units out there that can do the second part adequately enough.”
Applejack didn’t know how to respond to the last one. The man had said everything so bluntly, and the way he said the words ‘kill people’ so casually slightly chilled her. They didn’t seem like the type of folk that were bad; if that had been the case, Ponyville would likely be a smoking ruin right now. But something about them made Applejack wary being in their presence.
“Anyways kid, thems the breaks. You’re more than welcome to sit here and talk with us. Ain’t like we got shit else going on. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to find three people. Time for some Spades.(1)”
Applejack sat there, more confused than she would like to admit. That hadn’t gone quite as she had expected. Maybe with more yelling, or…something. All their actions indicated that they were utterly bored to tears with the situation, and nothing was going to change that. Not even the pony who kicked one of their friends coming up and apologizing for it.
Applejack sighed and decided to go and try to talk to more of these people. Better than sitting there wondering what was going to happen.
Twilight observed what was happening, and was satisfied. At least that was one area where they likely wouldn’t have any problems. She looked around, trying to find the men who had talked to her earlier. Now that the terror of the morning had passed, and her body had had a chance to recuperate, the analytical part of her mind took over, and it wanted to know everything it could about their machines.
Steeling herself, she got up and walked around, trying to spot the men. It wasn’t that difficult. Theirs was the only machine around the square, and both of them were standing outside of it talking to each other. Shoving her worries and insecurities to the bottom of her consciousness, she walked forward, showing far more confidence than she actually felt.
They called to her first.
“Hey! It’s Star Wars! What’s up? Feeling better?” one of them said, a happy expression on his face.
“…Star Wars?” Twilight responded, bewildered.
“Yeah, Star Wars, you had us in the tractor beam earlier. Like some shit out of Star Wars. Don’t tell me you forgot about that. My name’s Collins, by the way.”
“Mine’s Perez. You got a name? Or will Star Wars suffice?”
“It’s Twilight…Twilight Sparkle.”
“Well that’s a hell of a name. But I digress. What brings you to our humble helicopter?” Collins said.
“I wanted to know more about it. I’m pretty good at using magic, and that tethering spell has worked on a lot of different things. But when I used it on your… helicopter, you called it? I was barely holding on.”
“This right here is a Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. Pretty goddamn good helicopter. Good amount of thrust, can carry a squad, good amount of cargo storage. It’s the workhouse of our unit,” Collins said.
“What unit is that?”
“The 160th Special Operations Airborne Regiment(2). We’re the Nightstalkers,” Perez said.
“Yep. Any time you need an insertion into an area without being noticed, we’re it. You need crazy insane pilots to put you into places you didn’t think were possible with a helicopter, we’re it. There’s no mission we can’t undertake without the highest degree of confidence in success,” Collins said.
“What are you guys doing here?”
“Conducting a reconnaissance in force. About seven months ago we got a call from USNORTHCOM(3): they needed about two dozen crews and birds for a pretty big mission. Not a lot of details at first, and what little we had coming in was revealed to us over about a five month span, in between training sessions; something about a DARPA(4) project that they needed tested. Shoulda dawned on us that there wasn’t anything normal about it, given that we had almost two hundred of the best Special Operators from around the world,” Perez said.
“The only reason we’re telling you this is because, well, we’re here. Not a big fucking secret anymore or anything,” Collins said.
“So…what are you guys going to do now?” Twilight said. Every time they answered a question, it raised a thousand more. She felt like she could spend weeks talking to these people and still not have the slightest inkling of what their culture was like, what their technology was like, what anything about them was like. This was the greatest discovery in the history of anything. And she had interacted with them first!
“For now? Sit on ass and smoke cigarettes. Maybe break out some Monster and some cards. Or throw rocks at the D-Boys,” Perez said.
Not the most enlightening of conversations, Twilight thought to herself.
Sure, it wasn’t like she had accomplished much while interacting with them, but at least they didn’t seem like the violent type. If anything, they seemed to be jovial and carefree.
At the very least, she was beginning to discount them as a threat. They didn’t seem particularly interested in this area.
She sat down on her haunches, determined to learn as much as she could while they were here.
She looked over at one of the squads sitting around. She noticed one of the men listening intently to his…radio, she believed it was called.
I wonder what they’re saying…Twilight thought. Wait a minute, I don’t HAVE to wonder! Magic is so handy…
A glow appeared around her horn, and the enhanced hearing spell was cast. She perked her ears up.
“Daredevil Actual, this is Overlord, say again?”
“Roger, I say again, Power Pony One wants to meet the Havoc pilots.”
“Roger, is there a reason why?”
“Affirm. She wants to know who flew right above the deck over her.”
“…Roger, tell her it’ll take about one zero mikes.”
“Roger. Daredevil Actual out.”
Who’s Power Pony One? Who’s Havoc for that matter? Twilight found herself growing more and more curious about who these people were. It was as if they were speaking in a complicated code all the time. She turned to the pilots.
“What’s up with all the weird words you guys use?”
“What do you mean? We’re speaking the same language are we not?” Collins said.
“No, I mean, Havoc, Daredevil, things like that. Why do you guys use those as names?”
“Oh! They’re call signs over the radio. You never use names while you’re on the net,” Collins said.
“Why not? Wouldn’t it be simpler to just use people’s names?”
“Others may be listening in, plus a shit-ton of people have similar names in the military. Plus, we sound cool,” Perez said.
“Yeah, half the fun of the call signs is getting to pick them!” Collins said.
“Havoc is the call sign for our F-22 support. Five One and Five Two were on station earlier, so they’ll probably be the ones that meet Celestia. Excuse me, Princess Celestia. Why isn’t she a queen?” Perez said.
“I…don’t know actually. I’ve always meant to ask her that but…it never really came up.”
“Well, I’m sure you’ll find out eventually kid. If you want to look around, check out the bird, that’s fine. Just make sure me or Collins is nearby when you do it. Personally, I don’t really give a shit what you see, but others might. We’ll be right here if you got questions, and don’t be afraid to go talk to the D-boys. They look more bored than a two by four.” Twilight giggled at the last comment. These guys weren’t so bad. There was a lot they could learn from them, and they seemed like the entertaining type.
Meanwhile, a certain cyan pegasus was getting antsy. She hated sitting still for so long, but she was still a bit shaken up by what had happened earlier today. She just didn’t have it in her to try and fly. As silly and ignorant as it might be, she was scared that the fast ones would come back and smash into her.
As it was, it made the flier twitch when she heard that ominous thumping again, and watched the black…helicopter, she believed it was called, swoop in over the square and land in a clearing. She saw two people get out, and the bird lifted up off the ground and left, as quickly as it had come in. The two men began walking towards Sugarcube Corner.
What was so special about these two? They weren’t carrying nearly as much stuff as the others were. These guys were smiling too, something that was rare on the others. She was so lost in her thoughts that she didn’t notice them coming up to her.
“Yo, where can we find…Princess Celestia?” one of them asked, while looking at a slip of paper.
“Inside the gingerbread house,” Dash said, with as much snarl as she could muster.
They didn’t appear to be fazed.
“Word. Hey, I remember you! You got some speed kid. You’re the pegasus who was flyin’ in front of us earlier. Glad this all worked out alright. Hey, wait here, we’re gonna be stuck here for a minute after this meeting or whatever. We were hoping to talk to you for a minute. That was some balls-out flying earlier. I appreciate a good pilot, even if her bird is her body.”
“Tom, I say this with the deepest bond of friendship that I can- you’re a fucking idiot.”
“Alls I’m saying is, you talk with the elegance of a sledgehammer. Anyways, my name’s Mike, and this here is Tom. We’re the pilots you had the opportunity to run into earlier. No hard feelings, right? You looked pretty freaked out earlier.”
“Pilots? What are those? How do you know who I am?” Rainbow was bewildered. As far as she could recall, none of these creatures had actually talked to her up until now. And what were these ‘pilots’ they were talking about?
“Remember? We were flying the jets, you got the chariot with the fuck-huge horse down to the ground right as we did a show of force? You were outpacing an F-22 at supercruise(4) speed, kid: that ain’t nothing to sneeze at. I’m damn impressed, actually,” Sauls said.
“F-22…wait, you mean the really fast ones? You guys were FLYING those?”
“Yeah. We’re pilots. It’s what we do.”
“So…you guys are inside the big angry looking ones?”
“Yeah, the Raptor is pretty angry-looking isn’t it? Goddamn I love that bird… hey, we gotta get going. Boss man ain’t looking too pleased,” Daniels said, motioning at Sugarcube Corner. There was indeed a surly-looking individual glaring at the two pilots.
“Hang out here; we’ll catch up after we get done. Shouldn’t be longer than two shakes,” Sauls said, as the two of them started off towards the building.
“Two shakes of what?” Dash called out to them, but they were already out of earshot.
Dash sat down and tried to come to terms with what they had said. Those incredibly fast, loud machines were flown by those people. How did they do it? How did they handle that much raw power surging beneath them?
They were so fast. Dash had been giving it her all, and she had still just barely been ahead of them. She was the fastest flyer in all of Equestria for Celestia’s sake! She should be able to handle two non-pegasus fliers.
The cyan flyer was still shaken. But sitting there, she made a decision. She was going to get over it. So what if they were fast? She was still agile, and she didn’t need a big machine to make her fast! Plus, they seemed like genuinely good people.
Dash smiled to herself for the first time all day. Something good could come out of this.
For months she had been craving something worthy to test her raw speed skills against. Sure, her tricks still left a little bit to be desired, and the cyan pegasus felt like she could improve upon her form for the Sonic Rainboom. But speed?
She was the unquestioned queen of speed. At least, up until now. She had a feeling she hadn’t seen those things giving it quite their all.
No matter. She would just have to train hard, get even better at what she did best. Maybe even wake up early to get some extra sessions in.
Okay, maybe not that far.
Rainbow Dash rubbed her hooves together and laughed to herself.
A/N: Howdy everybody. For all ten of you still reading this, terribly sorry about the stupidly long wait. It’s been a bitch of a time lately, between getting sent out on field ops and desperately trying to get terminal leave approved and get checked out of the Marine Corps. Also, really didn’t know how to handle this chapter. So, if it feels clunky…it probably is and I apologize deeply for it. Just trying to set everything up right now, so bear with me. Suggestions? Comments? Questions? Concerns? Bitches? Gripes? Moans? You know what to do. Also, footnotes to explain or elaborate upon things: good idea, or no? Need more? Less? If these actually helped you kind of understand what was going on lemme know. Otherwise I can drop them.
1Spades is an exceedingly popular card game played by service members. Due to the relative ease of setup, it is not uncommon to see cards taken just about anywhere.
2The 160th S.O.A.R. is the special operations contingent of helicopter pilots for the U.S. Army. They were formed in the aftermath of the abortive attempt to rescue hostages during the 1979 Iranian Hostage Crisis. They have served with distinction after their formation in October of 1981.
3USNORTHCOM is the unified theater command for the North American continent. It was formed in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. It is tasked with providing military support for the contiguous United States, as well as Alaska, Canada, Mexico, and various other areas within 500 nautical miles of the United States.
4Supercruise speed is a term used to denote how fast an attack aircraft can travel with weapons loaded in their hardpoints. Supercruise speed for the F-22 Raptor is rated at approximately 1200mph.
“I’m still confused as to why you moved in with such aggression. Surely a…man, in your position sees the folly of such an act. Do you not realize what our Princesses are capable of? They move the sun and moon themselves! What could your pitiful group possibly hope to bring against such a powerful force?!” Brawny Boulder, the rarely seen, rarely utilized Equestrian Minister of Defense spat out to Major Picante.
“Look bro, I really don’t feel like getting into a dick-swinging contest. I follow orders. Sometimes the orders don’t make a whole lotta sense. My job is to let the guys under my command know what an acceptable course of action is, and what is not. We didn’t know what waited for us when we crossed through. We didn’t really have an opportunity to collect intel before we moved in. If we had had an opportunity, I guaran-fucking-tee you that you would be talking to an ambassador with a pen and a pad, and not one with a rifle,” Picante replied back, exasperated. This same conversation, with slightly different words, had played itself out over and over again. He was getting damn sick of it.
“Minister Boulder, thou hast made thyself quite clear on his feelings. As has this…’Major’. We have much to discuss here, and thy constant interjections are not helping. Now, Major Picante, what have thy superiors granted as far as negotiation powers?” Luna, Princess of the Night said. She too was growing tired of the constant back-and-forth, and was looking forward to actual progression. It was becoming difficult to keep an appropriate voice during the proceedings.
Picante looked up. The darker one had been remarkably quiet the whole time, sipping on tea and observing, while the white one- Celestia, was it?- looked harried trying to keep the meeting from degenerating into all-out anarchy. To hear a new voice was mildly refreshing, and could indicate an advance in the talks.
The major stole a glance to the door. He’d asked his XO(1), Captain Momboquet, to stand there and let him know when the Havoc pilots arrived. Judging from his glowering expression and exaggerated hand movements, they were here.
“Well Your Highness, to be honest…not much. Overlord, my immediate superior, is still trying to get word from our government as to what we’re supposed to be doing here now. Originally our orders were to move in, smash the area, get a good read on things, attack when necessary…basically an all-out assault. Now? We’re not really sure. No organized resistance, clear benevolent overtones, and a general lack of a military response. Given the clandestine nature of the mission, as well as our government officials generally being pants-on-head-retarded, we’ll be doing this dance for a good minute.”
Luna was baffled at what the man had said. Turning around, she noticed everypony had a similar look of bewilderment on their faces. Turning back to face him, she opened her mouth to respond when the doors opened. Not again. Could we please deal with the matter at hand? There is still much to be covered…Luna thought to herself.
“Your Highness! Two…hoomans request permission to enter!” a Royal Guard shouted.
“It’s ‘humans’ bro,” a voice called out from behind them.
“Ah! Are these the pilots?” Celestia said.
“That’s affirm miss. You asked for us?” Daniels said.
“Who are you to show such disregard for proper Royal Etiquette?!” Minister Boulder shouted.
Celestia groaned, and continued the conversation with the human pilots.
“That’s correct. I was just trying to figure out who was flying over us today. You gave some of the best flyers in Equestria quite a fright.”
“Apologies ma’am. To be honest, we hadn’t expected on encountering flying chariots and whatnot. Glad to see everything turned out alright,” Sauls said.
“Yes, we’re all fine here. My dear sister, could we please return to the matter at hand?” Luna snapped. This meeting was going to last all week! It was constantly getting derailed. Either Minister Boulder found some new way to make his muscles flex, or they would get interrupted by something. Luna usually slept during the day, and maintaining a proper air during these proceedings was becoming increasingly difficult as her lack of sleep dulled her senses and ability to think rationally. She desperately wanted this to end to grab some much needed sleep. She couldn’t hold out much longer.
“Oh, yes, of course Luna. Just one second. Major Picante, will these two be staying here with the rest of your group?”
“I hadn’t planned on it. They’re pilots. They kinda need jets to be anywhere near useful,” Picante said with a smirk. He couldn’t resist some good-natured ribbing.
“What’s your top speed again? Smell? Come talk to me when you can do Mach 2 while getting a lock with an AMRAAM.(2) Your Highness's, thanks for the invite. Picante, keep up the good work here. I can see things are going very smoothly. They definitely picked the right man for the job here,” Daniels said with what could only be described as a shit-eating grin on his face as he and Sauls exited the building.
“Diplomatic meeting? Strange new creatures in our principality? Hundreds of them are here? ANY of this ringing a bell?” Luna said, fed up with how things were going. She reserved the right to be snippy. They were on her rest time after all.(3)
“If it pleases the Royal Assemblage, could we take a brief break? I’d like to step outside for a minute,” Picante said, having not heard Luna’s outburst due to an ill-timed radio transmission.
“Oh! I give up! Tia, finish this without me. I am going home, and I am getting some sleep!” Luna shouted as she made to leave. There was a loud *snap* as she teleported out of the building.
“Luna! Luna wait!” Celestia called as she too teleported away.
“So…break approved?” Picante said, unsure what to make of what had transpired.
“Insolent whelp!” Minister Boulder shouted.
“Oh, god damnit.”
The Royal Palace had been abuzz with activity ever since the morning. With the prospect of war upon them for the first time in eons (official government documents recorded the Changeling Affair as a ‘Police Action’), the center of the Equestrian Government was steeling itself for the apparently inevitable fighting that would soon come. These would be dark hours indeed, dark days for them. But with the dual leadership of the Princesses of both Day and Night, none could stand before them. They would expunge this new threat, and rightfully assert themselves as the masters of this domain.
When Princess Luna suddenly arrived in the Palace, via teleportation, observers were aghast. Truly their darkest fears were confirmed. Her angry muttering underneath her breath gave them even more metaphorical ammunition. That is…until they actually heard her.
“Meetings, the most vile, despicable, uncouth, deplorable, hate-filled, miserable, pathetic…” they heard as she thundered in the general direction of her private chambers.
Perhaps…perhaps these were what the creatures were called? But if things were so severe, why was she heading to her private chambers?
Just what was going on in Ponyville?
“There is no time to be lost!” they heard Captain Bow-Tie, the Palace Defense Commander shouted out. They could see him struggling to stand atop a conveniently placed stack of boxes to address them all. Right as he got atop the stack, there was a sharp crack in the air as Princess Celestia herself materialized in the room. Everypony in the area instinctively bowed upon sight.
“The enemy is not at our door Captain Bow-Tie, you can calm down. How are your elocution lessons going?” Celestia said.
“They go well my princess! Are...are you sure about the enemy?” Bow-Tie responded.
“Quite sure.” Clearly they haven’t gotten to the ‘indoors’ voice portion of the class Celestia thought to herself.
“But…but I had a speech and everything. This was to be my day of glory…” Bow-Tie said dejectedly.
“Your day will come, Bow-Tie, I’m sure of it. Did my sister head to her room?”
“Yes she did Your Highness.”
“Very good. Everyone, you can calm down. The meeting with the ‘humans’ as they are called, is going well enough, but it is suffering from diversions constantly. I’m thinking that we may change the venue to here, once they send ambassadors to begin talks as to what they hope to accomplish here. In the event that happens, we will need rooms set up so that our guests will feel properly accommodated. Also, a conference room will need to be set up. Soundproof it as well. Now, if you will excuse me, I must talk to my sister.” With that, Celestia teleported out of the room.
She appeared with a flash and bang inside of Luna’s chambers. Already the violet alicorn was in her bed, pulling the covers up.
“Luna! Hey, what was that back there? Everything alright?” Celestia said with concern. Between the teleportation and the sudden words, Luna gasped with shock.
“Tia! Oh…I am most sorry for what transpired back there. But the constant interruptions! I am so tired, and thy patience for meetings is already thin to begin with,” Luna said with a heavy sigh.
Celestia didn’t blame her. She had had a thousand years to adjust to the new day-to-day operations of the monarchy, and she still either zoned out or doodled during most of the meetings. She couldn’t imagine jumping into such a thing without any preamble.
“But it is not just being tired! Fatigue I have dealt with in the past, but the mental strain is unbelievable! Why does that fool Boulder even have a position in our retinue?” Luna said.
“Well, he’s always been so eager to help out. He realized long ago that his office would probably not be called upon to do anything, but he constantly works to make himself useful around here. I couldn’t just cut him off the staff, and several of the Royal Advisory Board suggested that his title be maintained, just in case.”
“Bah! They are ignorant fools! The colt is…guh, I am far too weary to think up a proper discourteous term for him right now. Tia, I apologize for thy outburst. But between the humans crossing the planes of space we did not know existed and their general lack of ability to do anything other than look menacing and talk confusingly, I am simply unable to cope. Please, do not let thy actions derail the talks even further. Only our ancestors know how things are going now,” Luna said in a rushed, flustered rant.
“Do you think you would feel up for it later in the week Luna? We can always shift around the meeting, maybe wait until they send actual ambassadors?”
“Yes, I do feel actual statesmen would be better than these soldiers. Will they be occupying our land for long?”
“That all remains to be seen Luna. For now, rest up. I’ll travel back to Ponyville and see how things are going there.”
“Thank you Tia. Once again, my deepest apologies.”
“Don’t worry Luna. Things will be alright. You’ll see.”
“Overlord, this is Daredevil Actual.”
“Send it Daredevil.”
“Roger, any update on what Washington is doing about this?”
“Negative, not at this time. Tell your men to go firm, and to post up in buildings if able. We will conduct a resupply of essentials at 0400 Zulu time. Any special requests?”
“Vehicles. There are a number of roads here, and we’ll be able to push out and scout the area better. Send us some actual diplomats too. I’m requesting to scrub the combat mission. There’s nothing here to shoot.”
“If that’s your call Daredevil. Be prepared to be in this thing for the long haul though. Nobody has said anything official yet, but the rumors I’m hearing suggest that Washington is going to want to establish a base there, along with an embassy in the royal city those two sisters mentioned.”
“Roger that. Looks like my weekend is shot.”
“We both know you don’t have a life. Overlord out.”
Son of a bitch just had to get the last word, Picante thought. Still, vehicles would be a good thing to get here. There were a number of roads leading in every direction, and he was excited at the prospect of doing some actual reconnaissance. It wouldn’t be in force, but at least it would be something.
He lit up a cigarette while he waited outside. The minister was going nuts in there, shouting about plans this and attacks that. Picante smiled grimly to himself. If only they knew what humanity was capable of doing. But given the way this mission was turning out, they wouldn’t have to come even close to breaking out the nasty shit. Lord only knew how that would turn out.
Khrutov found himself monumentally bored at that particular moment. They had been sitting here for what seemed hours, and in that time all that had happened was a Blackhawk dropped off two fighter pilots, for whatever reason.
He glanced over at Fetisov, wondering what to talk about. He eventually decided on music. They had already exhausted every avenue of conversation back at Edwards.
Before he could open his mouth, he noticed the pink horse from earlier sitting in front of him. How had she done that? He had just been looking in that direction and had not seen her approaching.
“Hi! Sorry about earlier! It’s just that you guys were SO loud and seemed to be really angry and nobody was smiling and I thought to myself ‘Why aren’t they smiling? That’s SO sad!’ and then I realized that you guys hadn’t even been welcomed to Ponyville or had a party yet or anything so I need your names so I know what to put on the banners for the party later tonight! You guys are showing up right?” she spouted in a wall of speech. Khrutov was momentarily stunned.
“Um…” was all he could respond with at that particular moment. He glanced around to his squad, looking for support. They too had been floored by the verbal assault put out by the horse. Shit. He was still trying to wrap his head around the concept of horses talking.
“Great! So I’ll see you guys tonight at Sugarcube Corner. Do you guys know where it is? Waitaminute, of course you do because you were in there earlier! Do you guys have any more of those pop thingies you were using because they were really loud and really bright and I bet they would make a super awesome party even more super awesome!”
Again with the talking. How this creature managed to talk for so long, so quickly, seemingly without doing basic things like breathing, was beyond Khrutov’s comprehension. Thankfully Fetisov, who had a much better understanding of English than Khrutov could ever hope to attain, put his words in. But Khrutov did not like them. Not one bit.
“Of course we will! You will learn Russian-style party. Tell me, do you have vodka?” Fetisov said.
Of course he mentions vodka. Everyone expects us to bring vodka. Fucking Smirnoff, Khrutov thought to himself.
“What’s vodka? Is it for parties? Ooh! Is it a snack because snacks are great and there will be a lot of things like cupcakes and cake and cherrychangas and maybe some muffins and maybe pie wait definitely pie who wouldn’t want pie at a party because it’ll go great with all the punch we have there!”
“It is drink. Makes happy times happier.”
“Happy times happier?! It’ll be like an explosion of happiness and party! Where do you find it?”
“We can have some brought. Just give us time of party.”
“Well, whenever they get out of Sugarcube Corner I’ll be able to go in and get the party set up and started so probably at least an hour or two from now because they’ve been in there for a long time and I don’t think they’ll be lasting much longer in there.”
“We will have some vodka sent. Thank you for inviting us. What is name again?”
“Oh, I’m Pinkie Pie!”
“Pinkie Pie, my name is Fetisov. These are my friends. The brooding grouch over there is my squad leader Khrutov. He not so good as me at English. Perhaps you could teach him?” Fetisov said with a smirk on his face.
That shit sucker. I’m going to get him back for this, Khrutov thought with as much menace as he could. As if the pure rage he felt would mentally strangle Fetisov until there was no life left in his body. He looked up at this…Pinkie Pie, and tried to mentally prepare himself for the agonies to come.
Back at Edwards Air Force Base….
“Alright gentlemen, thanks for coming in. This’ll be our new meeting point for the next few weeks until we get everything settled. We’ll probably get a no-shit conference room at some point, but this hangar will have to do for now.
“Couple things. According to the men on the ground, we will not, repeat not be conducting any sort of combat operation in the nation-state known as Equestria. This is based off of up-to-the-minute intel regarding the situation there.
“We will more than likely shift to a traditional intelligence gathering and map-making role, in the event that we need to shift gears to legitimate operations, so that we know what’s going on, and our guys will know where they’re at.
“Major Picante has put in a request for vehicles to be sent out to them with the resupply we will conduct. We’ll be sending out two MAT-Vs, and 2 MRAPs. I’m not going to send anything heavier than that to them right now. No need to send tanks when not a single round has been fired. Standard loadout on those vics, and we’ll be sending them two trailers with them as well.
“Eventually we will establish a rotational tempo that we can maintain. I would imagine that eventually regular infantry and support units will be sent in to consolidate gains made, so we better start preparing now. For the foreseeable future, Edwards Air Force Base will be the hub for anything coming or going through into Equestria, since we have the only operational portals in the world.
“If we get the funding and capabilities we will be able to set up checkpoints throughout the country, since we will more than likely hammer out some sort of trade agreement with their government. I’m just spitballing on this, but it’s what we as a people have done before.
“We will be leaving our ground units in Equestria for the time being. It’ll be easier than shuttling them back and forth, and I would like to maintain some type of armed presence there, at least until the dust has settled and we gain a clear picture of what this place is all about. In addition, I will be traveling there tomorrow to personally see to it that some type of base will be established there.
“I will do this for two reasons. One, Major Picante is a good man, but he is not the most accomplished speaker. He prefers to let his actions do the talking. That is an admirable trait in a warrior, but warriors are not what we need right now. We need movers. We need shakers.
“No-shit diplomats will more than likely be here within the week, so we’ll need to establish billeting for them. Also, I put in a request for a mobile fuel farm to be shipped here, so find a place we can put it. It’ll be shipped out to the new base we’ll be establishing. Any questions so far?” General Richards, call sign ‘Overlord’ said.
“I have one General,” Colonel Shipman, head of air operations said.
“By having a mobile fuel farm sent here, I’m assuming you’re going to want to base helicopters on the other side?”
“As well as fixed wing air, yes.”
“What type of fixed wing? This will depend on how long of a runway we will need to build, as well as hangars, landing zones for the helicopters, fuel lines, staging areas, all that.”
“If I can swing it, all twenty five Blackhawks will get stationed there. I’d like for Daredevil to be able to conduct multiple, simultaneous recon missions at once. As for fixed wing, I want there to be U-2 spy planes, KC-135 Stratotankers, and all the fast movers we pulled for this task force. Everything will be shifted to an intelligence gathering role, and I want it done as quickly as possible. The KC-135s will ensure we can conduct aerial refueling to keep the cameras in the sky.”
“Roger that sir. I’ll let engineers know.”
“Anything else? If you can’t think of it now, talk to me later, or send me an email. One last thing. When the media gets ahold of this, it’ll be a goddamned firestorm. This will be the biggest story they’ll have ever covered. Game faces gentlemen. That’s all for tonight.”
As the men got up from the meeting, Richards spotted one of his aides approaching him.
“What is it?” the general said.
“You have a phone call from a…Mr. Bowers, I believe his name was sir.”
“What’s he calling about?”
“He said that he wanted to talk to you in regards to the DARPA project.”
“Very well. I’ll take it in my office.”
Walking towards his office, Richards reflected on the day. Wasn’t the most tragic of his life, that was for damn sure. He had fully expected to be receiving casualties today. None, and they had successfully made contact with the leaders of the indigenous government to boot! This was going smoother than anyone had expected.
Was it bizarre? Absolutely. But everyone was handling it like the professionals they were. Richards was damn proud of all of them.
He entered his office, closed the door, and sat down. Picking up the phone, he opened up his laptop to check his email.
Surely it was blowing up right now.
“This is Richards.”
“Richards, it’s Bowers. Head accountant for DARPA. Listen, don’t have a lot of time. Just wanted to give you a heads up, I’ve launched an official inquiry. Some of your guys might see some investigators rolling around. Something about this project doesn’t seem right, and I’m going to find out. Glad to hear nobody got hurt. Pentagon is absolute chaos right now. I don’t think we’ll be getting some sleep for a while here.”
“Why did you launch an inquiry? What doesn’t seem right about it?”
”Numbers is my life, it’s all I do. And when I don’t see numbers going back seven years for some type of crazy portal project, my wheels start turning. I’ll tell you one more thing, and then I have to go. Heighten security, and tell your guys to be on the lookout for anyone strange.”
“That’s a tall order. Been a strange day.”
“It’s about to get stranger. Keep your eyes open and head on a swivel. I’m out.”
And with that the phone call was over.
Strange was the word of the day it seemed. Richards wondered what that was all about. Shrugging, he made a mental note to let everyone know in the morning.
One thing made him think though. This was one of the most secure facilities in the world. It was the proving grounds for the most advanced fighters and bombers the world had ever seen.
Why would security need to be heightened?
(1) XO: Executive officer. This is generally the more admin-oriented position in the hierarchy of billets. This individual is generally tasked with managing the armory as well as being a logistics kind of guy. He’s also a convenient guy to throw under the bus.
(2) AMRAAM: Advanced Medium Range Air-To-Air Missile. It is a self-guided fire and forget missile.
(3) On her rest time: I added a footnote for this because I imagine it is a phrase not often heard outside of the military. Generally speaking, whenever some type of activity is dragging on, motivation can be found in the words “we’re on your ‘X’ time” where X is something that we tend to hold near and dear to us, like chow or sleep.
A/N: Alright! Fourth chapter! I actually updated! Sorry to anyone who was expecting this earlier. Had a late shift on weapons watch and was basically in a coma for most of the day. Also, had to go out drinking with a bro of mine. He gets out in a few days, and this was the last opportunity I had to hang out with him. Wasn’t really sure how this was working while I was writing it. Seems kinda off to me, and I’m not sure if I nailed Luna or Pinkie Pie or even Celestia for that matter. Any pointers on those guys, lemme know. It would be greatly appreciated.
Also, thanks to everyone who favorited this story, as well as left a comment or added me to their ‘watch’ list. That eye creeps me out by the way. Feels like some 1984 stuff. Alright, I’m dragging on. If you have any of the following: comments, questions, concerns, moans, groans, gripes, bitches or complaints, you know what to do. This is Za Raapini saying to stay classy. Good night, and good luck.
Edit: Fixed up some minor grammar errors, as well as a couple formatting mistakes.
Korengal Valley, Afghanistan
It was just too easy.
While the fighting in Helmand continued to be your traditional type of counter-insurgency warfare, out here in the Korengal it was good old fashioned ‘here’s the enemy- shoot’ type.
And Master-Corporal Williams was loving every minute of it.
Why shouldn’t he? It was what he signed up to do. He sighted in with his Tac-50 and fired another round. One shot, one kill.
Another TB member down for the eternal count.
He and his squad had done this particular routine for the last week. Fly out to a hamlet suspected of being a Taliban stronghold, search, destroy, collect. So far they had confirmed over fifty enemy killed, while suffering none in return. Not only that, but they had also obtained valuable intelligence regarding the overall effort by the Taliban. With the heavy fighting in Sangin, they were determined to step up their campaign in other districts, to try and draw forces away from there.
But if they couldn’t step up their campaign, they couldn’t seek the relief that the Sangin Taliban so desperately wanted.
With the hamlet now cleared, Williams and his team called in for the bird to come and pick them up. Back to Camp Currie for some chow and some rest.
When they arrived at Currie, they noticed the base commander standing near the LZ. Curious. He was rarely seen, always busy with administrative tasks, as well as trying to coordinate efforts with other units in the area. He moved to them and began talking.
“Gentlemen, welcome back. Successful mission I hope?”
“Yes sir. Another hamlet cleared. No casualties,” Williams said.
“Outstanding. Listen, I need all of you to come with me back to my office. There’s something to discuss.”
“Aye, sir.” With that, the men of Team Edge, JTF-2, took their first steps toward a serious shift in how they understood the world.
Meanwhile, Back at the Plot
“So what you’re saying is, you can somehow shatter the visible light spectrum at the same time you break the sound barrier?” Sauls said.
“Yep! It’s called the Sonic Rainboom! It’s pretty much the sum of everything that’s awesome about me.”
“Sounds pretty hardcore. Like some Blue Angels shit,” Daniels said.
“Who are the Blue Angels?” Dash asked.
“It’s the Navy’s flight demonstration team. They fly the F/A-18 Hornet. Another superb aircraft. Then you got the Thunderbirds from our own Air Force. They fly the F-16 Falcon,” Daniels said.
“Wait, what do you guys fly again?”
“The F-22 Raptor,” Sauls said.
“You guys have more types of planes?”
“Oh absolutely. Each plane fills a specific role. You have bombers, which are used to destroy enemy facilities on the ground, fighters, which are used to achieve and maintain air superiority, multi-role aircraft, which can be outfitted for either close air support or air-to-air, depending on the needs of the mission, and then ground-attack vehicles, which are used exclusively for roles like tank-busting,” Daniels explained.
“Tanks are the big ones you guys talked about earlier, right?”
“Yep. You might see some get sent here. But I doubt it. As far as combat goes, this mission is a bust. But you never know,” Sauls said.
“Why do you guys have so many things built to destroy?”
That stopped the pilots for a moment. How best to explain this one? They looked at one another, and Daniels decided to try to tackle it. He was the more eloquent speaker between the two.
“Well, it’s like this: there are a lot of different types of people where we come from. Some are good, some are bad, some are in the middle. For the most part, we really try to get along. We do. It’s just, humanity isn’t really good at that sort of thing. War has been going on, in some way shape or form, since one ape slapped another.
“We build weapons of war so that our people may continue to live in peace. It’s oxymoronic, I know. But the way it works is, sometimes the bad people get worse. They decide that, in the effort to further their cause, whatever it may be, it is necessary for them to take lives. A war. We build these machines, we manufacture these weapons, we develop these vehicles, to stop them from taking lives. People still die, no matter what our efforts are. It’s just the way things work over there.
“The hope is, less people will end up dead at the end of the war if we are able to stop it quickly. That’s why we constantly strive to make new fighters, new bombers, new tanks, new rifles. To let everyone know, ‘we’ve got the best people in the best equipment, so any bullshit you try is going to end. Quickly.’
“It sucks, it does. But it’s a fact of life. If we don’t make a more efficient missile, our enemies might, and more people might end up dead. Most of us will probably move on from this event in our lives, go to someplace new. Some of us will probably end up getting killed.
“But at the end of the day, the anticipation is that the men and women who did die in the line of duty did not do so in vain. They died doing the right thing. They died trying to protect those who were unable to.
“They died as heroes.”
The three figures sat there for a moment, digesting what had transpired. The pilots knew that this question was coming sooner or later. Eventually all of them were going to wonder why exactly they had all this gear specifically designed to crush hostiles.
Daniels and Sauls sat there looking off into the distance. These men were no strangers to war; both had been deployed several times to the Middle East in support of combat operations before being selected as Raptor pilots. Both of them still felt as strongly about the decision to serve as they did the day they joined. Not even seeing a land filled with happiness could convince them there was another way to life. Human nature simply would not allow it.
Rainbow Dash sat there and soaked in what Daniels had said. He sounded so sure of his words, and of the things they felt were necessary. She vaguely recalled history lessons from her school days, talking about the ancient Pegasi military. The battles they had fought before the Harmony that bounded Equestria was forged. Her character in the Hearth’s Warming Eve play wasn’t named ‘Commander’ Hurricane for nothing.
Still, it shook her to hear them talk like that. She had been brought up in an age of peace that had lasted for a thousand years. It rattled her to know that elsewhere, even if she had never been there, even if she hadn’t even heard about it until today, fighting was a constant fact of life.
As she sat there, she wondered what made them decide to join their military. Was it a desire to fly? To see more of their world? To serve their country? All three?
They sat in silence for a long time. No one dared to break it. They were all too busy pondering. They were so busy with their thoughts, they didn’t notice what was going on back at the main square.
At Sugarcube Corner, there was a great commotion. Two loud bangs had been heard recently, and while they sounded like the type generated by teleportation, ponies were still spooked, given what had happened this morning. A third one now sounded and everyone clamored around the door to try and peek inside. The Royal Guardsponies posted at the door tried to maintain order, but the weight of the crowd was becoming too great for them to try to stop. Suddenly, the door swung open, and Princess Celestia ambled out.
The entire congregation immediately bowed, and pricked their ears up. It was time to find out what had been discussed.
“My loyal subjects, today has been a momentous one. Strange new beings have come to our land, in search of new things, new ideas, new cultures.” Kind of hard to come up with material on the spot Celestia thought to herself. Given that nothing, not a single thing, had been accomplished at the meeting, Major Picante suggested that she try what he called an ancient and mystical art- ‘Bullshitting’. It was better than nothing, and she asked how it was done.
“Alright, bullshitting is a wonderful tool used to get yourself out of a sticky situation. Let’s say you’re an employee somewhere, and your boss catches you talking to your buddy instead of doing your job. Rather than take the ass-chewing, you bullshit him.”
“How does one do that?”
“Simple. Let’s roleplay real quick. You be the boss, I’m the employee. You just caught me talking instead of working on that expense report you asked for. You don’t know what I was talking about, but clearly I was up to no good.”
“Alright. Uhm-hmm. Excuse me! I thought I told you that I wanted that report at the end of the day. You don’t appear to be working very hard on it.”
“Oh, me and Jim here were discussing some things that popped up while I was doing the expense report. We figure we might have some ideas that could save some money and increase the profit margin. We were just working out the feasibility of our thoughts.”
“That…that sounds good.”
“That’s bullshitting. For all anyone knows, me and my buddy Jim could have been talking about the Celtics game the night before. But I covered it by spouting out some quick bullshit. And maybe it wasn’t entirely a lie. Work probably did come up at some point. That’s the art. You have to sound like you know what you’re talking about, without forcing it.”
“You’re asking me to lie to my subjects about what we’ve been up to in here.”
“Not lie. Bullshit them. Lies are easily detectable and you can get called out on them quick. But if you’re good at bullshitting, people will more often than not accept it as gospel truth.”
“I suppose it’s better than telling them you and Minister Boulder spent half the time shouting at each other.”
Snapping out of her thoughts, Celestia continued:
”Unfortunately, we were not able to accomplish all that we had wanted to whilst we were in here. However, ambassadors from their race are en route now, and will be here within the week. We will be continuing the conference in the Royal Palace in Canterlot. No sense depriving Ponyville of their favorite confections for any longer than is necessary.
“Major Picante has informed me that he and his men will be staying here for the time being. I ask anypony who has the ability, to shelter them, take them in, learn from them. We have an unprecedented opportunity at hand here.
“Enjoy the rest of your day, and I’m sure I will be back here again soon to see how things are going.”
The crowd tittered amongst themselves. The humans were staying here? In Ponyville? Where would they sleep? Nopony was going to step forward and willingly say that they would let one of these frightening creatures stay with them.
The relative calm was broken by a certain party pony, who leapt at the chance to finally being setting up her welcome party.
The shout could be heard across town.
“Party tonight! You know where!”
Only that crazy pink mare could think of partying at a time like this. While everyone else began to go back home, and the princess and her escort made for their chariot, they heard an unfamiliar voice call out.
“Excuse me! Could I have the attention of the town! For one second!”
It was that man the princess had called Major Picante. He appeared to want to say something. In an effort to be polite, most of the ponies in the area made the effort to appear attentive.
“Look, I know this morning was pretty frightening for a lot of you, and I just want you to know, we mean you no harm. I am in constant communication with my superiors back in my dimension, and they assure me that they are doing everything they can to get people whose job it is to talk politics here as quickly as possible. In the meantime, I ask that you not hold judgment against me or my men.
“It was not our intent to come here and scare such a wonderful group of ponies. Not at all. We know that this is a pretty heavy event to soak in, so we ask that you remain calm, and maybe talk to us. Explain your culture to us. We’ll do our best to do the same. Thank you.” Left unsaid in his speech was that their original intent was to attack whatever possibly hostile forces lay beyond the portal. Better just bury that concept deep. Didn’t want to spread around any rumors.
As everyone began to leave, Spitfire sought out Rainbow Dash. She hadn’t seen the kid since the morning, and wanted to thank her, and see if she was doing alright.
Looking around, she finally spotted that familiar blaze of colors off in the distance, next to two of the humans. Looked like they were just sitting there. Spitfire walked over to them, wondering what she was going to say to the two humans.
As she got closer she could hear them talking. She pricked her ears, trying to make out what they were saying.
“So…have you ever had to kill anyone?”
Whoa. What the hell were they talking about over here? Spitfire walked closer, slightly uneasy.
“That’s…that’s not something I really feel comfortable talking about. Nobody in the military is comfortable talking about that for the most part. Do we all recognize it as a byproduct of our job? Yes. Does that mean we relish the opportunity to take lives? Absolutely not,” she heard one of them say.
“Not only that, at the end of the day, when you kill someone, it’s an irrevocable change. No matter how just your cause was, or his cause, or whether or not he was evil, that was a fellow human being. It’s not something you can just do and walk easily away from,” the other one said.
“But then why do your people do it? Can’t they find other ways to settle things?”
“We try. We try hard. But things don’t always work out. And when they don’t work out, things go to hell in a hand basket faster than you can say ‘what the shit?’”
Spitfire chose this particular moment to make her presence known by loudly clearing her throat. All three turned around to look at the new source of noise.
“Sorry to interrupt. Mind if I borrow Rainbow for a minute?” Spitfire said, determined not to show weakness in front of the humans.
“Go for it bro,” one of them said. Something on his chest said ‘Sauls’.
“That’s a chica you moron, not a bro. Fuck man,” the one with the word ‘Daniels’ on his chest said.
“Oh, since when did you become an expert on the gender of ponies?” Sauls said.
“Since forever. I’m just that much better than you,” Daniels responded.
“Fuck you,” Sauls said.
Spitfire sat there not sure what to make of what just happened. They talked so quickly they could have given that party pony lessons. Still, they seemed to be okay with her talking to Rainbow. She jerked her head in a direction away from the humans and started walking.
When they got far enough away, she turned to face Rainbow.
“You doing alright kid?”
“Yeah. Still a little freaked out by earlier, but it’s nothing major. Remember those really fast ones? Those guys FLY them!”
“Really? Interesting. Anyways, just wanted to say thanks for saving our lives. Again. I don’t want to think how I look splattered across a flying monster.”
“Wasn’t nothing special. The whole morning is still kind of a blur to me. But things are picking up. You guys sticking around?”
“Nah, we have to get back to Canterlot. I’m about to leave actually, we’re part of Celestia’s escort back there. I might come back with some of the ‘Bolts later tonight. I guess that friend of yours is throwing a party.”
“Go figure, right? I swear, she would find a reason to throw a party for just about anything.”
“Good talking to you kid. Thanks again. We’ll see you soon. Take it easy,” Spitfire said as she held out her hoof for a bump. She figured they were at that level of knowing each other by this point.
“Likewise Spitfire. Have a safe flight back to Canterlot,” Dash said as she completed the respect hoof.
Walking back over to the Royal Chariot, Spitfire thought more about what Dash and the humans had been talking about.
She didn’t bring it up during their brief conversation because she didn’t have much time, and wanted to make sure her thanks to Dash was heard.
It frightened her to know that there were professions dedicated to the concept of taking lives. No matter how easy going these men appeared to be, nothing could change the fact that they had been trained to kill other members of their species.
She didn’t imagine it would be that hard for them to shift to ponies.
Korengal Valley, Afghanistan
“So that’s the gist of it anyway. NATO tried to pull some of you guys early on, but operational commitments prevented this. With your rotation back home coming up, they saw an opportunity. You’ll be taking your post-deployment leave as planned, but after you come off it, you’ll be sent down to Edwards Air Force Base in Nevada for an orientation brief.
“NATO, along with Russia and Israel, for some reason, will be sending representatives to a city beyond the portal known as Canterlot. They asked if you could provide the security for the meetings. I said, hell, why not?
“So that’s what’s going on. You’ll be leaving here in the next three days as planned, take your well-earned rest time, and then get ready to go back at it. Any questions?” General Treak, commander of Camp Currie said.
“Are they serious about this whole…pony…thing sir?” Williams asked.
“As a heart attack. Like I said, you’ll be getting an orientation brief at Edwards in a couple weeks. Early reports are suggesting that it is a non-hostile environment, but they still wanted men to provide security. The men who were part of the original insertion group are going to be conducting recon missions throughout the land and will be unavailable. They wanted the best for the security element you see.”
“Aye sir. We’ll be ready.”
“Outstanding. Carry on.” With that, the group broke up, and Team Edge headed back to their hooch.
No rest for the weary it seemed. No matter. Security at a conference attended by ponies couldn’t possibly be that difficult.
A/N: No footnotes this time! Didn’t see any concepts that would be that unfamiliar. For the record, the Tac-50 is a .50 Sniper Rifle. Why was Williams shooting a .50? Because he’s a fucking boss, that’s why.
Hopefully things aren’t moving too slowly for you guys. I had to shift gears slightly when someone brought up how slowly things seemed to be developing. While this will still likely be a multi-parter, some elements have been hacked out in the rough outline I have going for this. Like I said, I’m in the lab with a pen and a pad, trying to get this damn story off.
Hopefully Spitfire’s dialogue and thoughts didn’t come off as too forced. It’s hard to write for a character that has about a billion different interpretations in the fandom. On the plus side, OC’s that are OG’s, like Boulder, will be a blast to write up.
As always, if you have any of the following: comments, questions, concerns, saved rounds, bitches, gripes, moans, groans, complaints, you know what to do. Until next time ladies and germs. This is Za Raapini saying ‘Stay classy.’ Good night, and good luck.
P.S. Two chapters in one day! I’m on fire. I need to get some sleep….
Royal Quarter, Canterlot
Minister Boulder was miffed. Two hundred clearly hostile creatures had invaded their land, and the official royal decree was to open diplomatic channels with them. This was not a time for talking; this was a time for action!
Boulder had been waiting for almost two decades to become useful, and when the opportunity had finally presented itself, he had been shot down in favor of using words instead of weapons. Preposterous!
The humans were up to something. Why had they come here in such a spectacular fashion? They seemed more than willing to fight a war to get what they wanted, and he suspected warfare was the norm back in their world. No one developed items like they had brought with them unless they were intent on using them.
While walking back to his apartment in downtown Canterlot, he decided to stop by one of the bars on the way home. It was a favorite of the Royal Guard and the Palace Defense team, and he had yet to have had an opportunity to discuss the day’s events with them.
Walking up to the door, he looked up and saw the name of the establishment, one that never failed to make him quietly proud to be the Minister of Defense: The Sword and the Shield.
It was jam-packed this evening, and despite the heavy flow of foot-traffic, nobody appeared to be all that drunk. There was a dull rumble of conversation that emanated from the main floor, one that failed to cease upon realizing there was a new patron in the bar. Boulder went up to one of the bartenders and ordered a wheat beer. No sense getting something he couldn’t nurse while talking to people. Hopefully someone would come up to him and begin talking; he hated the idea of barging into a group of ponies while they were enjoying each other’s company.
He didn’t have to wait long. In a matter of moments, Bow-Tie, captain of Palace Defense, had ambled up to him. He hadn’t even changed out of his royal armor. Wasn’t there some sort of ruling against that?
“Evening Minister. Curious day, wasn’t it?” was the opening salvo in the conversation. Despite what a lot of people thought, Captain Bow-Tie was a good pony, sturdy, loyal, dependable. Most importantly to Boulder’s needs, he was malleable.
“One could say that again. Tell me, what was your reaction upon hearing the news?” Boulder said back to him. He had to guide this conversation carefully, because if he acted with haste, there was a very real chance Bow-Tie would not be on board with Boulder’s plans. And Boulder needed everypony he could muster.
“Shock, I guess. I mean, how does one react to startling new creatures suddenly appearing in our realm? In the town that houses the Elements of Harmony no less? And the guidance we received from our leadership wasn’t the most inspiring. Instead of responding with force, we responded with weak-hoofed plans to talk this out. Where is the Princess who responded to the return of Discord with aggression? Where is the Princess whose first inclination during the Changeling Affair was to fight?”
“Yes, I understand what you mean fully. Words will not have an effect on these humans if things begin to get too severe. And I can’t help but wonder if there’s something deeper going on here. I was there, you see. Once we realized the full severity of the crisis, I was called in to help with the proceedings. I tell you, I’ve traveled the land much in my life, and never have I seen such blank, expressionless faces. As if they couldn’t comprehend the idea of excitement. Quite astonishing, really,” Boulder said, taking a swig of his drink. Glancing around the room, he realized something that he hadn’t noticed yet.
Bow-Tie was not the only pony still clad in his armor.
Everypony was still wearing theirs. As if they expected one of the helicopters to swoop overhead at any minute and disgorge the terrible soldiers that had been riding inside.
Seeing the surprised expression on Boulder’s face, Bow-Tie began talking.
“Weird, isn’t it? Seeing this many ponies in their armor. Kinda reminds you of the stories they tell fillies about the days of old, back when the words ‘war’ and ‘battle’ still meant something.”
“What do you mean still?” Boulder asked. He too felt the same way, but was curious to hear Bow-Tie elaborate on the subject.
“Oh come off it Minister. Surely you see it as well as I do. We as a kingdom have been at peace for so long it borders on the ridiculous. Incidents still pop up here and there, but nopony knows how to respond because they’ve never had to deal with anything beyond stubbing their hoof while walking to the damn ice cream parlor. It’s repugnant, and it is things like this that threaten our way of life more than anything else.”
Boulder smiled inwardly, for at that point he realized that there would be no need for molding; Bow-Tie was already on the same page. He took another drink and indicated for him to continue.
“When you hear stories, about the old days, back when Equestria was just getting off the ground, ponies had to fight for their right to survival! There was no talking, there was no quarter, and there was only war. Brutal and hate-filled, but necessary all at the same time. Point is, we’ve gotten soft over the past one thousand years. When bad things happen now, people just expect the Royal Sisters or the Elements to deal with it. With Discord, how many people sat huddled in fear just expecting Princess Celestia and Princess Luna to just magic everything back to normal, or failing that let the Elements deal with it?
“When the Changelings invaded, let me reiterate, invaded Canterlot, what did our kinsponies do when being attacked? Respond with equal measures of violence, trying to incapacitate the foe? No, of course not. Once again, they looked to a small group to solve all their problems. What’s our backup if they fail? What’s the plan ‘b’?” Bow-Tie said. It felt good to have this type of conversation with a pony who cared. He had tried discussing this matter at length with his friends in the Defense team, but when they realized he was being serious they less than politely told him to stop.
Nopony wanted to admit that war was a fundamental part of existence. Just because it hadn’t happened in so long did not mean it wouldn’t ever.
Meanwhile, Boulder was struck at how Bow-Tie was talking. Here was a pony who could be more than a potential foot soldier, this was a pony with ally potential. Boulder decided to test the waters, and play Discord’s advocate for a minute.
“Why would there need to be a plan ‘b’? We have princesses who manipulate the sun and the moon. We have the Elements of Harmony. Why should anypony need to concern themselves with fighting, when it is so painfully obvious that those eight figures will be able to accomplish anything we need them to?”
“You are more than a fool if you really believe that. Wars are not won by an especially small group of skilled warriors. Wars are won and lost by the will of the people to fight. They are won by setting course down an inexorable march towards victory. They are won by trampling the enemy to dust, either through superior numbers, technology, or both. What is the use of a group of fighters so small that they would not make up a single rank in one of the old Legions?” Bow-Tie said.
“But they are the most powerful beings in the land. What chance do normal ponies have if they cannot stop the threat?” Boulder responded in kind.
“Maybe normal ponies wouldn’t stand a chance. Not at first. Maybe not ever. But there is not even enough ponies willing to be guards for the palace, for our Royal Patronages themselves, to form a full battle company. Look around you. This is almost seventy five percent of the total number of ponies we have that have answered the call to serve something greater than themselves. There is no drive anymore, there is no passion for serving the greater good, of being part of something.
“Nopony even wants to fight anymore. Not because fighting has gone away, but because they expect everyone else to deal with their problems. Not once during the fighting that day did anypony other than the Guard even attempt to do something.
And why would they? Even retired Guardsponies stood by idly and let the invasion occur! We cannot continue as a country if this apathetic attitude keeps up!” Bow-Tie finished with a shout.
“Let me let you in on something. There is an old quote floating around, one that never fails to embolden my spirit when I am down and see the sad state that Equestria has fallen into. This was a call and response from the days of the Legions, before the princesses had come about and ushered in the age of peace we know now. It goes like this:
Without the Dark, there can be no Light,
We have purpose
Without the Lie, there can be no Truth,
We have purpose
Without the War, there can be no Victory,
We have purpose
Without the Death, there can be no sacrifice,
We have purpose
Without the Hope there can be no Future,
We have purpose
Without the Loyalty there can be no one Legion,
We have purpose
Without the King, there is nothing,...
And we would have no purpose
You see? The ponies of old knew how things were to be conducted. They knew the purpose of their existence. There were there to fight, and win.”
Boulder was impressed. Bow-Tie always came off to other ponies as a hopeless moron at best, but there was certainly more than met the eye here.
Boulder too knew of that quote. It was the most common call-and-response used by the Legions in the days of the King, before the Royal Sisters had even been born. It served to illustrate the importance of what they were doing, because they were doing more than winning battles. They were forging a nation.
“It is well that we share a common love for studying the past, Bow-Tie. Because I feel we might have to use it to reshape the future. Meet me here next week. I will have something to give to you,” Boulder said. It would be dark days ahead indeed for Equestria, but in their wake would be a glorious future, with a nation that stood above all as the supreme rulers of the world. It would be a nation that would respond to distress and violence with discipline and force. Most importantly, it would be a nation that would be able to properly defend itself against all enemies- foreign, domestic, and inter-dimensional.
“Very well Minister. I am off to enjoy the rest of my night. Take care my friend. The lamps are going out all over Equestria,” Bow-Tie said as he walked way.
Boulder finished his beer and exited the bar. This had been a most enlightening night indeed.
Royal Palace, Canterlot
Celestia crawled into bed, exhausted from the day’s affairs. Luna seemed to have recovered well at least; she was definitely in a much brighter mood than she had been earlier. Sleep was a simply wonderful medicine. The Sun Princess hoped that soon she too would be receiving its powerful remedies.
As she lay in bed, she reflected on the events of the day. She wondered whether or not opening lines of communication with the humans had been a good idea. At the time, seeing what their machines were capable of, she had decided to err on the side of not getting her subjects killed. That they had agreed to talk should be considered at least a minor victory.
She was still mildly off-put by how disinterested Picante had seemed during the meeting. He had appeared to be forcing himself to pay attention, and while he had a sharp tongue, and what seemed to be a genuinely decent personality, she could tell that he had yearned to be someplace else.
Truth be told, the meeting hadn’t really been all that well-thought out. She had just hoped to assuage her subjects’ fears by showing they could talk to these people. While they had acted aggressively, nopony had been killed, so there was that at least.
Looking back on it that was nothing short of a miracle. So many things could have gone wrong. Somepony could have gotten the idea to try to fight them, which, given the Major’s words, would have resulted in them launching a full-scale assault. He had tried to explain to her the concept behind his maneuvers, why they had cleared the houses, why they had relied on what he referred to as ‘shock and awe’ tactics.
He had tried to explain to her these things, and while she heard the words, all that came into her head was the knowledge that the man that sat in front of her had made a living out of killing other members of his species. The concept shouldn’t seem that foreign to her; it was not long after the Legions had finished their work that she had been born.
It was not like Equestria had never had wars; however, they were so far removed from the lives of ponies today that their stories had passed into legend. They had lost all their impact and meaning on the lives of her subjects, and herself.
With a heavy sigh, Celestia got up out of bed. She knew that sleep was now a fleeting memory that would not come back tonight.
It was time to head down to the Royal Library. The stories of the Legions would need to be brushed upon if she would have any hope of properly communicating with such a warlike species.
//Error: Location Unknown//
“It is as you predicted. Trust is nowhere to be found, and suspicion runs rampant amongst the Equestrians.”
“Just as planned.”
A/N: Aaand that makes six. I’ll be honest, this chapter could have gone about nine different directions. Hell, the first three versions featured the party in Ponyville as the main setting. But then I got to thinking, ‘for a MLP fic, there hasn’t been a whole lot of pony.’ So, pony. Hope you guys don’t mind the dialogue; this chapter did not lend itself well to action, and I also hope you guys enjoy Minister Boulder and Captain Bow-Tie. Get used to those two, you’ll be seeing them a lot. Bonus points for anyone who knows where the quote comes from. It’s been slightly edited for context’s sake. As always, if you have any of the following: Comments, questions, concerns, saved rounds, inquiries, bitches, gripes, moans, groans, complaints, hate mail, fan mail, correspondence or a happy thought, you know what to do. This is Za Raapini saying, ‘Stay classy.’ Thought for the day: Knowledge is power; guard it well.
By: Za Raapini
Sugarcube Corner, Ponyville
Pinkie Pie hummed while she set everything up for the party. It had been quite a challenge to find the vodka the scowl-y men had asked for, but everything else was a success. She had even managed to convince Vinyl to come down! Sure, it took a barrage of talking to get the blue-haired mixer to do come DJ, but she was here and that was what counted.
A knock on the door interrupted her revelry preparation, and Pinkie went to go answer it. She opened it and was surprised to see Twilight sitting on the patio.
“Hiya Twilight! What brings you down here? The party doesn’t start for another half hour or so!” she said excitedly.
“I was hoping to talk to you for a minute Pinkie. Mind if I come in?” Twilight said, already moving her way inside. This was one conversation that would not be denied.
“Oh, sure Twilight come in but I won’t be able to talk very long because I’ve still got to set up the party!”
“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about. I’m not so sure a party would be a good idea.”
“You silly filly! It’s always a good time for a party! When is it not time for a party?”
“Great question Pinkie. I don’t know, maybe when two hundred creatures from another world suddenly appear in our town with all kinds of machines that they themselves were purpose built for destruction! Ponies need time to adjust to this Pinkie. We can’t just throw a party to welcome them. There’s still too much we just don’t know about them. It’s too soon.”
“But…but…I worked so hard to get everything set up!” Pinkie said sadly.
Twilight looked around and saw the truth of the statement. Banners were strung up everywhere, most containing the names of the humans who had just come through the portal. A copious amount of snacks and drinks had been put out, and over in the corner Vinyl Scratch was setting up her equipment.
Twilight hated to rain on Pinkie’s parade, especially since this was her preferred method of cheering people up. But she felt it was simply too soon to begin trying to celebrate anything.
“Twilight, can I tell you something?” Pinkie said suddenly.
“Of course Pinkie. You know you can tell me anything,” Twilight responded, curious where this was going.
“I’m still scared. Terrified. The humans scare me a lot, they’re all angry and their machines are loud and they have these weird things they throw that make loud bangs and make a mess of things. But if I throw the party, maybe they won’t be so angry, and they won’t want to hurt us. If they come to a party there’s no way they can be all bad right?”
Twilight thought for a moment. She too had had somewhat favorable impressions of the humans after talking to a few. But she couldn’t dispute Pinkie’s statement in how angry they seemed. And bored. How could you possibly be bored in Equestria? Looking up she could see the party pony waiting expectantly for an answer, and Twilight began to respond.
“Pinkie, I think in time a party would be a great idea. Really, I do. Just not tonight. Not after what happened today. Ponies need to let this sink in, and I’m sure the humans will want to talk to each other about what they did today, and get some rest.”
“So maybe a party tomorrow? But if we have it tomorrow we might not get Vinyl!”
Twilight looked at the blue-haired DJ busying herself with her equipment. It did seem like quite a waste…but the right choice was not always the popular one. The day had simply been too raw for the town to begin having a party about it.
“Pinkie…it’s not the right time. You throw parties better than any pony in Equestria. You’ll know when that is,” Twilight said, unsure of how to proceed. She didn’t want to upset Pinkie, but there was simply no way a party could happen tonight.
“But…” was all Pinkie could get out before another Blackhawk came overhead.
“Oh, now what?” Twilight said exasperatedly. She just couldn’t get used to the feeling and sound produced by those things.
“Maybe they’re all coming by for the party and then they’ll see you wanting to stop the party and they’ll be angry because you want to stop the party…” Pinkie said. Twilight started tuning her out as she walked toward one of the windows. Peering outside, she could see the helicopter landing in the middle of the road with two figures running toward it.
Must be the pilots from earlier, Twilight thought to herself. She supposed it was better that they were gone. Twilight herself had been awed to learn that they had been flying the fast ones from earlier. It seemed there was no shortage of surprises with this group. Looking back to Pinkie, Twilight saw that she was slightly jittery.
“You alright Pinkie? You seem nervous,” Twilight said.
“I’m…I’m fine. Just…don’t like that noise. I don’t like that feeling. I feel like the world is ending every time one of them is coming by,” Pinkie said sadly.
Twilight stopped herself. She had never heard Pinkie talking like this before. Today had gotten to the pink mare more than she would probably like to admit. Twilight thought back to who Pinkie had talked to first…wait. The ones who never cracked a smile. She had met those ones? Even the other humans seemed slightly put off by them.
No wonder Pinkie was so shaken. For a mare so used to making ponies happy and smiling, seeing those…people, with their cold, uncaring faces, must have been quite a shocker.
Twilight could see now why Pinkie wanted to throw the party. To make everyone happy? Absolutely. But also to prove to herself that the cold men could smile, could have fun.
As the lavender unicorn looked around at everything, she noticed Vinyl looking at her, beckoning her to come closer.
“Pinkie, I’m going to go talk to Vinyl real quick, alright? Keep working on setting up the party,” Twilight said as she walked over to the DJ.
“Okie dokie lokie!”
As Twilight got closer, she could see the hint of a grin on Vinyl’s face.
“What’s so funny?” she asked.
“Nothing. I just think it’s interesting to see you think a party is a bad thing,” the DJ responded.
“How is it not? You weren’t here Vinyl, you didn’t feel the terror we did this morning. You didn’t see your perception of reality actively getting crumbled. You didn’t feel the raw power surging from those things,” Twilight said with anger she hadn’t realized she could feel.
“Hey, chill. So what’s a better alternative? Let those guys stay here with no one getting to know them? With everyone constantly suspicious of them? What kind of vibe does that set off?” Vinyl responded.
“Ugh, I don’t even know why I’m having this conversation with you. You’re just a DJ who doesn’t even really live here. You just pop in from time to time whenever it’s convenient for you. You don’t know us; we barely even know you,” Twilight spat out.
“You still didn’t answer my question.”
“You want an answer? Fine. Here’s an answer. This morning two dozen machines called helicopters come into our world from somewhere they still haven’t really explained. Inside of those machines were creatures called humans who speak a language that’s disturbingly exactly like ours. These humans, as they’re called, come around brandishing weapons, kicking in doors, and causing mayhem everywhere they go. Then they bring out even more terrible vehicles that frighten Rainbow Dash half to death and make a run at the Princess.
“And somehow we’re all supposed to all be okay with this. Somehow, we’re supposed to go with it, assume that they’ll be just as happy and carefree as us. We’re supposed to assume that even though they bring weapons of war, they’re here for peace.
“Some of them seem decent. Some of them are funny. The key word there: some. Some of them might not turn out to be all bad. But all it takes is one. And they’re soldiers; they follow orders. So if they get orders to attack us, what do you think they’ll do?
“If it were up to me, I wouldn’t let any of them stay anywhere. I don’t trust them. Not in the slightest. First impressions are hard to break, and they made one hell of a first impression,” Twilight finished.
Vinyl sat there for a moment, and Twilight interpreted this as the sign that she had won. With a triumphant feeling, she turned around to go talk to Pinkie Pie about holding off on the party. That continued to be a struggle, and Pinkie was likely to be unhappy after having just been told to continue with the set-up.
She didn’t get far.
“You didn’t answer my question. Again. All you did was vent. Which was impressive in its own way. But yeah, you didn’t answer my question. How is having these feelings going to change anything about the situation?” Vinyl asked.
“What…what are you talking about?” Twilight sputtered. She hadn’t quite envisioned the DJ to be this insightful.
“I’m saying, why not have a party? At the very least, if people see the Elements of Harmony talking to the humans, getting to know them, seeing what they’re all about, it’ll help people recognize that they’re not going to be a threat. It’ll let them know that everything will be alright. Who knows Twilight. You might even learn something from them. Have the party. I wanna see how these guys get down,” Vinyl finished with a grin.
“You’re simply unbelievable. Simply unbelievable,” Twilight said. Just then there was a light knock at the door.
“I’ll get that Pinkie, just…keep setting up,” Twilight said. She had been defeated and she knew it. Everything was going to blow up tonight, she just knew. Both literally and figuratively.
She opened the door and saw Major Picante standing outside.
“Good evening Ms. Sparkle, do you mind if I come in?” he said.
“Um, sure. Yeah. Come on in,” Twilight responded. She stepped aside to let him through, careful to keep her distance.
“You haven’t happened to see the Mayor, have you? I’m still trying to figure out where a good bed-down location for my guys will be. We’ve been discussing possible locations for a while now, and we wanted to have that taken care of before we set up a watch rotation and started rotating guys through to the party,” Picante said.
“You aren’t going to try and stay indoors? And what do you mean by watch rotation?” Twilight said.
“We don’t want to impose. I imagine today was a bit of a shocker. Plus, we’d like a modicum of privacy for the first few days. As far as the watch rotation, we need to leave guys back to watch the gear, and to make sure everyone gets a chance to come here and enjoy themselves. The men are excited; this’ll be the first chance they’ve had to let off some steam for a while.”
“So…you’re not going to try and stay with anypony?” Twilight said, slightly confused. She hadn’t expected to be quite so…gentle.
“Oh, absolutely not. No, I talked to the detachment commanders. They’re in agreement that we shouldn’t try to do that to you guys. Hell of a day, you know? For both our worlds. Washington is getting lit the fuck up with calls right now. Heh, bout time those bastards had to do some work,” Picante said.
“Well, the party should be starting soon,” Twilight said. She turned and shouted, “Right Pinkie Pie?” and got an enthusiastic head bob from the party pony.
“Alright, well cool. I’ll let the guys know. Know where I can find the Mayor? I really need to find out where an alright spot for us to bed down would be,” Picante said.
“I’m sure it’ll be fine if you and your men set up outside of town. That’s probably where she would tell you to go anyway,” Twilight responded.
“I’m not one to just let things go like that. I’ll get the spot nailed down, and I’ll let my men know to start coming here soon. By the way, we’ll have a special delivery coming in tonight, probably in about two hours,” Picante said.
“Special delivery?” Twilight asked.
“Yep. You’ll just have to wait for the proof,” Picante said with a slight smirk. He turned and walked out of the building.
Confused by the meaning behind the Major’s parting shot, Twilight turned back to see Pinkie Pie looking her usual excitable self, and Vinyl Scratch with the most annoying looking grin on her face.
Gunny Johnson was unsure what to expect to come out of all of this. He couldn’t say that it would be fun; he had never been a particularly big fan of social gatherings. But who was he to pass up free alcohol? Being told to go also may have played a small part in it.
Walking into the building, he noticed small groups of the task force sitting in small groups together, talking quietly amongst themselves. How they could hear each other over the blaring music was beyond him.
As he took in the building’s interior, he noticed he didn’t see too many of the horses in there. Which was good. Johnson was just hoping to have a few drinks and get out of there. He made a beeline for the table with all the drinks on it and picked one up. He sniffed it, seeing if there was alcohol in it. By God, there was.
Smiling to himself, Johnson sat down. It had been too long since he had been able to enjoy a nice drink. Just a few was the mantra that was repeated over and over in his head.
“So, what exactly was this special delivery you were talking about earlier?” Twilight asked Picante.
“You’ll see in about ten minutes. Don’t worry about it,” Picante said dismissively. This was the seventh time the unicorn had asked the question in as many minutes. It was getting on his nerves.
“You’ll have to forgive Twilight, Major. There simply isn’t a question she can’t stand not knowing the answer to,” Rarity said, walking up behind them.
“Well, this is one answer she’ll just have to wait for,” Picante said. He turned away as a transmission went off on his radio.
“Gentlemen, I need five or six to help me offload some things. Finish your drinks and meet me outside,” Picante shouted to the group of men.
“Ladies, if you’ll excuse me. Turns out my little surprise is ahead of schedule. Shocking, to say the least. If you want Twilight, come out with us. You can help us offload too,” Picante said as he started walking out.
“Well, go on Twilight. Don’t let me keep you,” Rarity said.
“You going to be alright in here?” Twilight asked.
“Oh, quite fine. I’m going to try and talk to more of these ‘humans’, since I didn’t get much of a chance to earlier. I promised Pinkie Pie that I would try and be social to them,” Rarity said.
“Alright, well, I’ll be right outside if you need me,” Twilight said, walking out the door.
As Twilight stepped out, she saw the Major and a few others milling about, waiting for something. As she walked over to them, she felt it again. Another helicopter coming in.
Suddenly she tensed, and her pulse quickened. Maybe she had been encouraged to come out so that they could snatch her away!
Don’t be ridiculous Twilight. They just wanted you to come out to help unload. Not to foalnap you, take you back to their world and perform all kinds of experiments on you. Yeah. Just help, she thought to herself.
The helicopter landed, and the humans walked up towards it. She saw one of the doors open to reveal a crate sitting inside.
Wonder what’s in there? She thought.
“Well? You helping or what? This alcohol isn’t going to unload itself!” she heard Picante yell.
Walking up, she finally saw what was in the crate. Bottles with a brown liquid inside of them. Black labels. What was this?
“Is this the surprise?” Twilight asked over the roar of the spinning blades.
“Hell yeah! One hundred and fifty bottles of Jack Daniel’s Whiskey. Eighty proof,” Picante said.
Shrugging, Twilight enveloped the case with magic and lifted it out of the helicopter. She wondered what there was to be so excited about.
Just a few had lost all meaning at least eight drinks ago. Wherever that pink one had found the vodka, Johnson didn’t care. It was doing the trick. The Russians were mean-mugging the hell out of him; probably because out of all the vodka that had been procured, he had drank at least a third of it by himself.
Stumbling, he heard a cheer erupt in the room, and wondered what was going on. He looked to see that purple one, whatever her name was, bringing in a case of…was that more booze? Johnson smiled to himself as he walked over and grabbed a bottle from the case. The Major said something to him, probably telling him to slow down, but Johnson didn’t pay attention. Good, he had a bottle, now he just needed an audience. Those Harmony girls, whatever their names were, they would work.
“Hey, where are those, um, Harmony ones at? I got something to tell you. ‘Mere,” Johnson said out loud. Not bad for being sloshed off my ass Johnson thought to himself.
As the Elements gathered around Johnson, slightly confused as to what he had to tell them, Johnson’s fellow Marines looked on and knew what was going to happen. He was going to tell them The Story.
“So, check it out, cause I’ve heard how some of you have been talking about us, wondering why we’re here, wondering why we have all these guns and shit. It’s for a reason, and I’m going to tell you that reason. I wanna tell you a story about something that happened to me.
“I was sixteen when my country got attacked by a bunch of cowards who had the audacity to fly planes into buildings filled with innocent people. I was furious that day, and every day after I watched on the news how our armed forces invaded the country that harbored the ones who planned it.
“When I was eighteen, I joined the Marine Corps. Infantry, all that trash. I was ready to do my part. Sounds corny, but at the time, I was still a little super-patriot. I got through all the training and was assigned to a unit getting ready to deploy to Iraq, it’s a small, desert filled country. I won’t bore you right now with why we went in. Because I still don’t think we even know why.
“Anyways, I got sent over there. This was my first taste of combat other than video games and training. It was, well, it was a rush. It was exhilarating. It was everything I had hoped it would be.
“We completed a successful deployment, and when we got back we had about a year until our next one. A lot of guys were ready to go again, since the last time was so successful.
“A lot of guys sang a different tune the next time. When we next got sent in, it was to be part of what was called Operation Phantom Fury. We were part of a large unit that was to take back a city. Before I continue, any of you ever lost anyone close to you? That you knew a good bit? Really good friends with? No one?
“Let me tell you, it sucks. It sucks a lot. We spent a month in that city, and every day it seemed I was saying goodbye to another friend. I saw guys get fucked up bad. I watched guys bleed out right in front of me. I had to sit there and lie to my best friend and tell him that everything was going to okay.
“I…I…” Johnson choked out. He was starting to tear up. Goddamn it, I didn’t…I didn’t want to cry. I didn’t even want to tell this story, Johnson thought to himself.
With the tears barely kept in check, Johnson continued:
“I don’t really know exactly what the point I’m trying to make here is. But I do know that if the machines I use, the vehicles I operate, the portal we came through…if it has the slightest chance of making sure my friends in the service don’t die, if people I care about don’t get hurt, I’m going to use it. To the best of both my and its abilities. I’m going to use it before the enemy can.
“I saw a line in a movie, and it said something that’s stuck with me for a while now: there’s two men having a conversation before they go into a city for a fight. And one of them says, ‘you know what I think? Don’t even matter what I think. Once that first bullet goes past your head politics and all that shit just goes right out the window.’ And you know what? He hit the nail on the fucking head.
“Nothing I think matters. Nothing any of the people thinks matters. We just do our job for each other, and for the people back home. We don’t do it to further an agenda. We don’t do it to make others feel bad. We do it because it’s our job.
“I don’t know if what I said means anything to you. Hell, you probably don’t know what I’m talking about. Just know that we ain’t here to fuck up how you guys do things. We ain’t here for none of that. We’re here to make sure that our countries continue to live in safety, because we still don’t know what those portals can do.
“We just don’t know. We’re trying to find out. So just ease up off our shit, alright? We ain’t gonna hurt no one if we can avoid it. I give you my word.
A/N: And that makes seven. Not going to lie, Johnson’s dialogue was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to write. Full disclaimer: I am not a Fallujah veteran. I have served alongside many while I’ve been in, and I can say with full confidence that they are fucking heroes. Every one of them. I have been deployed to Afghanistan twice, however. I’ll be honest, I’m not really sure how this chapter flows. I feel like I was trying to do way too much with it. I dunno. If you have any of the following: comments, questions, concerns, bitches, gripes, moans, groans, complaints, all that shit, you know what to do. This is Za Raapini saying stay classy. Good night, and good luck.
Chapter Eight: What Were You THINKING?
By Za Raapini
Johnson awoke to a fresh breeze, chirping birds and the rays of the sun beating down on his face. He also noticed a foul smell, and his mouth felt cottony. His head felt like there was a buffalo trying to force itself out, and there was a sharp jabbing in his side.
As he slowly cracked open his eyes a shot of sunlight hit them and devoured his eyes with its fury. Crying out, he screwed them and tried to move around. He felt around with his hands, trying to get a bearing on where he was. As he moved about, he felt a large goopy puddle.
I did it again, didn’t I? the Gunny thought to himself. Summoning all of his willpower, he went through a mental checklist. Cottony mouth, check. Sharp pain in the side, check. Puddle of vomit next to him, check.
If all this wasn’t bad enough he had the disturbing sensation that he was being watched. Taking a risk and cracking his eyes open again, he noticed something far worse than sunlight filling them.
General Richards. His eyes were ablaze, and his features were twisted into a look that better men than he had tried to comprehend.
“Come with me Gunnery Sergeant. You and I have some things to discuss,” Richards said.
Hanging his head low, Johnson slowly got up to follow him. He could feel sharp pulses of pain every time he moved, but he didn’t dare show weakness in front of the General. Not that it would do him any good.
He followed him, wondering how long it would be before he was sent back to Edwards.
The fashionista of Ponyville awoke slowly. Her head felt like a train had been rammed through it, and her mouth felt drier than the desert. What had happened last night?
As she shakily began to stand up, she cracked her eyes open and saw an absolute disaster in front of her. Humans and ponies were passed out everywhere, and the interior of Sugarcube Corner would have looked cleaner had a tornado gone through. This… this was something far worse.
She looked at the mess strewn about everywhere, the puddles of spilled liquor, the smashed and crumbled remains of the snacks that had been left out. She had been to many of Pinkie’s parties, and never had the aftermath of them been this outrageous.
Weren’t these humans supposed to be professionals? That was all she could remember them talking about from what she could recall. Professionals. Hmph. She hardly knew any “professionals” who would leave themselves a drunken mess for ponies to observe in the morning.
As she picked her way carefully through the mess her thoughts ran back to that one human… Johnson, she thought his name was. His drunken antics had completely ruined the night, as after he started talking, everyone started telling their own stories.
It had been too much for Rarity to handle. Johnson’s alone was bad enough, but then everyone else opened up after they took the non-response as an invitation for more stories to be told. The whole night was a blur of friends dying, targets being taken out and the cold realization that no matter what actions they took there was always going to be more fighting.
So then why did they do it? If they knew that they would never stop fighting, why start in the first place? Why did they choose to put themselves through such anguish? Why did their whole species have entire industries dedicated to it?
She knew they were just trying to make conversation, but last night had frightened her. Yes, they had gotten quite emotional, but all of them remained dead-set that what they did for a living was not wrong. Rarity simply could not wrap her brain around that mindset. It was just so… vulgar.
Splash. A small squeak escaped her lips as something truly retched made its way onto her coat. The smell was awful, and it almost looked like there was blood in it. Blood. On her coat. On her coat. Rarity felt her breathing pick up, and her pulse began to quicken. Combined with the hangover it was a most unfortunate combination. She began to feel queasy, and fought back the urge to add more to the puddle she was standing in.
This day was turning out to be an absolute disaster.
Sergeant Armand of the COS picked his way into Sugarcube Corner, gingerly avoiding the few ponies that were still inside, and tapping all the operators that were asleep. Overlord and Picante had taken a huge gamble allowing this to happen, and it appeared the gamble had failed.
The men that had been given a pass to drink had done so with gusto, not handling themselves like the professionals they were. Now there were sixty people in no shape to conduct a vehicle recon today, which meant extra duty for the ones who were still sober. Not to mention, between Johnson being a drunken asshole and a majority of those drinking unable to hold their liquor, they had shown their ass in front of some important delegates.
Furious with the situation, Armand almost didn’t notice the white unicorn looking sick right in front of him. Taken aback, he tried to remember what the Major had said in the brief the night before. This was one of the Elements that this dimension was big on. Rarity was her name, he believed.
“Excuse me ma’am. Are you alright?” Armand said. The unicorn wasn’t looking too good. She looked like she was about to vomit, and her breathing was slow.
“N… not at all,” she said with a slur. So she was still drunk then. Just what had gone on here last night? Regardless, Armand felt compelled to get her outside and some medical aid. Combat medicine was markedly lacking in treating for over-consumption of alcohol.
“Let’s get you some fresh air and perhaps a trip to the hospital. Does that sound alright?”
“Wi… will they clean my coat?” was her response. Looking down, he could see that she had stepped in a puddle of vomit on the floor, and her coat was lightly coated with it.
“Of course they will. Let us get moving,” Armand said. He ushered her out of the building, intent on delivering her to the hospital. The last thing that needed to happen while they were here was being responsible for one of these… ‘Elements of Harmony’ dying. It would ruin whatever standing they had, and eliminate any chance for the politicians gaining something out of this.
As he walked out, he motioned to one of his men to continue getting everyone up. General Richards was on deck, and he was furious, to put it mildly.
There was a major shitstorm brewing, and Armand didn’t want to be anywhere near it when it happened. He focused on getting the unicorn aid, and tried not to think about what was coming.
“Do you know what my morning has been like Johnson? Do you? Because I don’t think you appreciate the difficulties I’ve had so far. First I get a report that everyone who got a pass to drink ended up being a jackass about it. I appreciate that by the way, really, I do. I try to give you guys a great chance to unwind, we send you some alcohol, because I thought I was commanding professionals. Not a bunch of goddmaned idiots.
“So that was the first thing I heard about. Then I find out you rambled on to six of their key players in some idiotic attempt to make yourself seem important. Leave the fucking talking to the people who have stars on their collar.
“What were you trying to accomplish? Give some big speech on why we’re here? Just trying to put everyone’s minds at ease? Guess what. You don’t do those things! That’s my job! That’s what politicians are for! That’s what people with more responsibilities than you are for! You have, or rather had, one simple job! Do what you were told!
“And you fucked it up! Fucked it up big! Nobody told you to talk to them! Nobody told you to tell them ‘your story’! It’s not important! You just had to do your job, and everything would have been fine! Now we’ve got damage control going on all over the fucking place! This is the single most frustrating day I have had in my life, and you are the cause!
“Get your shit. You’re going back to Edwards, pending legal actions. Let you screw up while you’re waiting there, too,” General Richards finished.
Gunny Johnson sat there and absorbed the General’s words. The man was understandably angry at him, and Johnson knew that his career was likely over. He left the general’s presence and went to where his gear was located.
He just didn’t understand why he had done it. He hadn’t had an episode in years. Was it him reacting to what had happened yesterday? To finding a new world so vastly different from his own?
Was it the lack of combat?
While Johnson didn’t consider himself a war junkie, he had to admit to himself that the adrenaline rush that was felt was simply unmatched. Not only that, but when he was doing his job, when he was surrounded by his friends, his subordinates, that was the only time Johnson felt happy. Not being able to do his job left an empty hole in his being.
Sighing, Johnson lit a cigarette while he waited for the helicopter to come pick him up. As he waited, he looked around the activity surrounding their bivouac area. Some trucks had been dropped off, and a few squads were getting ready to go out on a recon patrol. Doing their jobs. All I had to do was not be an idiot and get rip roaring drunk. Just goes to show you… Johnson thought to himself.
As he felt the familiar buzz rushing through his body, he thought back to the night before. The horrified looks on the ponies faces hadn’t even registered while he was rambling. He just kept spewing the words. He never enjoyed telling the story, but he had done so with every new group of people he had ever met while drunk. Something compelled him to do it, but he had never bothered to find out what.
The arrival of the bird shook Johnson from his thoughts. Time to face the music. He put his cigarette out, picked up his gear, and got aboard.
“It’s lucky you got her here when you did. Her blood alcohol levels were extraordinarily high. The fact that she was still conscious can only be attributed to her body’s natural magic preventing anything serious from happening quickly. All in all, a close call if I ever saw one,” Nurse Redheart said to Armand.
“She will recover then?” Armand asked.
“Oh yes, she’ll be fine. Thanks to you. I must say, I was a little shocked when I saw one of… your kind, escorting her in.” Redheart looked a little unsure of herself. She had seen many a pony come in the day prior looking for something to calm their nerves after everything had settled down. Truth be told, she was still unnerved from what had happened. It wasn’t just something you could sleep on and be fine with.
“Just because some particular individuals have not handled themselves with the professionalism that is to be expected in a situation such as this, does not mean that we all handle ourselves like such. This pony was in need of help, so I responded. That is the basic premise of what I do. Help others, in a way,” Armand responded.
Redheart listened to his words, but wasn’t sure how much she believed them. They had acted so aggressively the day before, kicking in doors, brandishing weapons, shouting, those terrible flying things soaring overhead… what had prompted this?
“In any event, I’m glad you brought her in. She’ll be here for a day or two, and then hopefully she’ll get released,” Redheart said. The human known as Armand nodded and walked out. She then let out a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding.
She had been terrified he had been going to attack her while he was in the room. She couldn’t shake the feeling that there was more to what they did and why they were here than what they told everypony. She had heard what some of them had talked about. Combat. War. Fighting.
Redheart found herself trembling. She had a feeling she was going to become a lot busier in the days to come.
Error: //Location Unknown//
“You see? It’s not that hard to manipulate things. A little tug there, a little twist here, it’s all so simple. There’s a certain elegance in what I’m doing here.”
“I’m just a bit confused on why all of this is necessary.”
“Oh, but you see, that’s the thing. Both of our plans were too rushed. You must gently massage this, let it grow, let the ideas fester. Pull on the strings when you need to, not being too careless. All we need is for them to set up their little base. Then the fun really starts.”
Adam Bowers was not a happy man. The reconciling of paperwork on the portal project was an absolute disaster. Worse, there were some disturbing indications¬¬: national security breach indications. Bowers didn’t have enough proof yet, but he had a powerful feeling the designs had been leaked by someone via encrypted emails.
He tore through the paperwork, searching for something that would confirm his suspicions. He thought about the implications of it being true meant, and that was enough to keep him pressing on. He simply could not allow anything to happen, not when his investigation could unveil everything they needed to know about the mysteries surrounding this portal.
That was another thing that bothered him. Why was there so much mystery here? It was almost as if something, or someone, was actively working to ensure no one could figure what the hell was going on with it. But it didn’t make any sense. The original project paperwork was all in order.
So why wasn’t anything else?
A/N: Hey guys! Bit short this time, I know. Hopefully some things are becoming a bit more clear now. If you’re just joining us, great! Hope you enjoyed it, and if you have anything to point out, feel free to do so below! If you’ve been following this for a minute, why not go back and read Chapters One, Two, and Three again? Did some heavy editing, and that’s partially why this took so long. Chapter One isn’t even recognizable anymore, and you might notice some changes in how things flow. Don’t worry, the general structure is still there, just made some, what I feel, are marked improvements.
As always bros, if you have any of the following: Comments, questions, concerns, bitches, gripes, moans, groans, complaints, you know what to do.
Hope the Americans amongst the audience had a fantastic Fourth of July! And it’s a bit belated, but Happy Canada Day!
This is Za Raapini, signing off. Stay classy. Good night, and good luck.
If one were to look inside the hallways and offices of the Central Intelligence Agency, they would have seen agents scurrying everywhere, with hushed chatter filling the air from the cafeterias to the restrooms. The Director had received several large assignments from higher, none larger than the one he was currently briefing.
“Alright gentlemen, we’re sending in a team of diplomats to New Mexico tomorrow. You’ll be attached to them, under the guise of being their aides. Your actual mission is to begin investigating the society that lies beyond the portal. Weapons capabilities, threat level, I want everything. I want to know what the abilities of their royals are, the flight capabilities of their pegasi, the general level of magic ability amongst the unicorns,” CIA Director Harold Brumley said. It had been quite the struggle to assemble this team. Several duties had been forced to be shifted around, dozens of phone calls had been placed, and the armory had been frantically gathering the gear necessary for the mission.
“You’ll notice the packets in front of you contain all the information that has been gathered thus far and has been deemed mission essential. Also contained are photos of key structures and personnel, as well as a force disposition chart on what we have on the other side. Any questions, I need to hear them now. You’re headed straight to the airstrip after this,” Brumley said.
“What force is authorized?” one agent asked.
“None. This is strictly intelligence-gathering. If you actually need to discharge a weapon, then things have gone horribly wrong, and we’re enabling a back-up plan that is still in the works at this time,” Brumley said.
“Will General Richards be in overall command?” another asked.
“Negative. Ambassador Hunt will be in overall command, but look to General Richards for tactical command. It is a bit unprecedented for a flag officer to be attending these types of discussions, but the President felt it was necessary to show that our military is also capable of talking. Also gentlemen, be aware that Daredevil will be conducting recon patrols constantly while this conference is going on. I’ll need you to link up with them at their bivouac area in… ‘Ponyville’, as often as you can. The conference will be taking place in… ‘Canterlot’”, Brumley said.
The room was covered in silence. Brumley took this to mean that there were no more questions.
“Alright gentlemen, you have a flight to catch. Good luck and Godspeed.”
“No, no, no. There’s no reason for the numbers to be differing like this sir. None at all. Also, I know this project was being tracked, but why the lax accounting of personnel? Just under a year ago, the lead researcher was replaced, as well as three other assistant researchers. Who does that in the middle of a project?” Bowers said.
“I don’t know what to tell you Adam. Really, I don’t. All I’m telling you is, we need answers on this one, and fast. That email you sent me was troubling, to say the very least,” DARPA Director Chris Scott said.
“Email! That’s another thing. You read what I sent you. Why in the fuck was that facility sending encrypted messages back and forth with Chinese researchers at Shanghai University?” Bowers said.
“It’s troubling Adam, it really is. The thing is, we’re going to need more assets to get to the bottom of this one. We’re going to need to contact the NSA,” Scott said.
“You think they’ll be able to piece it all together sir?” Bowers said.
“I certainly hope so. Or else we might have a serious problem on our hands,” Scott said.
Canterlot Royal Palace, Equestria
“Yes, I understand this is a very delicate situation, and I can assure you that we are doing all we can to smooth this out,” Celestia said to the Royal Assembly at their morning meeting. Reports were coming back from the disastrous party in Ponyville, and the results were not very encouraging. By all accounts the party was a disaster.
“This is an outrage! How can we stand by and let these humans conduct these types of despicable acts with no repercussions?” Minister of the Interior Cradle shouted.
“To provide a counter-point, this party was the idea of one of the Elements of Harmony. Were the actions of the humans at the party questionable? Absolutely. However, they are not entirely at fault,” Minister of Finance Abacus said.
“Was it not their idea to bring a simply absurd amount of alcohol to this gathering? An amount they clearly could not handle, judging from the damages done to the location,” Minister of Affairs Silver Tongue said.
“Please, everypony. We are working this situation as best we can. All of you will be able to provide your input to the diplomats and ambassadors at the conference in two days,” Celestia said.
“I demand justice! I demand we show these humans what kind of forces they are tangling with! Princess, I humbly request that you and your honored sister conduct a demonstration of your power! That will show them not to mess around with our beloved Elements of Harmony!” Cradle shouted, many ponies nodding their heads as he finished.
“I will do no such thing,” Celestia said firmly.
“Princess, if not you, then the magic users of the Royal Guard. We must show them that we are not to be trifled with, and that the pitiful assortment of weapons they have brought cannot stop our might!” Silver Tongue shouted.
“What might? Equestria hasn’t had a proper war since the Unification. We are in an age of unparalleled prosperity and peace. Have you read the reports coming back, regarding the conversations that have been overheard? What they have brought is but a drop in the ocean of their power. There is nothing we can show them that they would be impressed at,” Abacus said.
“The might of our magic! With that we can overcome any obstacle in our path!” Silver Tongue shouted.
Celestia looked around with uncertainty. She had never heard her advisors this agitated, and had certainly never heard this
type of talk from them. She wondered what could have possibly gotten into them…
She had not seen hide nor hair since the impromptu meeting in Ponyville. He had clearly been busy in the intervening period.
She could easily refuse the requests of a display of power. Hers was the highest authority in the land. But she would need their support as Equestria continued to push through this trying time.
Finally opening her mouth, she uttered the words that would kick off everything.
“Fine. I will concede on this point. Gather five of our best magic users and ready them to leave for Ponyville. They will conduct a brief demonstration of their abilities, then return to Canterlot. Nothing more, nothing less. Understood?”
As she looked around the room, she saw solemn faces nodding in the affirmative. With that piece of business finally taken care of, she continued to push through the agenda. They had a lot to cover.
“Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go! We got a bird coming in!” Picante yelled as the portal opened in the sky. Operators ran through the area establishing the perimeter for the landing zone.
“Daredevil Actual, Daredevil Actual, this is Princess One, we’re about one mike out, over,” a pilot said over the radio.
“Good copy Princess One. Light wind coming in from the north, LZ will be marked by smoke,” Picante said.
Ponies in the area looked at the commotion and saw another strange machine flying through the sky. It looked like a strange hybrid of the two flying machines they had used the other day.
“Pop smoke!” Picante bellowed, and he watched as a stream of purple smoke trailed into the sky.
“I see purple smoke, Daredevil. Is that you?” the pilot said.
“Affirm, Princess,” Picante replied.
There was no more radio chatter as the Osprey came in for its landing. Ponies trying to see what was happening shielded their eyes as the tremendous amount of rotor wash kicked up a wall of dust, and the bird landed.
The team of diplomats poured out, along with their aides, and were directed by Picante as to where the bivouac area was.
As the personnel filed out and the Osprey picked up and took off, the diplomats soaked in the area. Brightly lit, curious looking buildings, and a crowd of ponies looking at them off in the distance.
“Gentlemen, welcome to Equestria. Things are little hectic here right now, as I’m sure you might have heard. If you could follow me this way, I’ll show you to your tent. There’s a bird scheduled to pick you up tomorrow morning for the flight to Canterlot, so I wouldn’t get too comfortable. Other than that, just stand by here,” Picante said.
Tomorrow’s gonna be one hell of a day, Picante thought. Things were moving and shaking, and between the insertion, the incidents from the night before, and the fact that the CIA had made footfall, Picante didn’t really know what was going to happen. He just hoped it would all turn out okay.
Manas Transit Base, Kyrgyzstan
“Gentlemen, you’ll be making a covert insertion at 0400 local time tomorrow. You’ll be wheels up here in about an hour, and you’ll fly from here to Edwards Air Force Base, directly through the portal. We’re timing this so that your bird goes through at the same time a resupply drop is being conducted, to cover up the noise. You’ll conduct a HALO jump to establish positions in and around the royal city, known as Canterlot.
“After you’ve hit the deck, we’ll need you to conduct reconnaissance on the area, as well as drawing up a rudimentary map. Once that’s established, set up hides and be guardian angels for the conference. If things get hairy, don’t hesitate to do whatever is necessary to get the diplomats out. Overall command is General Richards, callsign ‘Overlord’. Don’t expect too much contact with him, he’s got his hands full dealing with a hell of a mess right now.
“Any questions?” Colonel Silk, base commander finished.
Team Edge sat there in silence. This was a confirmation brief, and no questions were expected to be asked at this point.
“Very good gentleman. Good luck, and Godspeed.”
The men went back to their hooch in silence and grabbed their gear. This was a mission unlike any other they had ever conducted. They weren’t even sure if there was a victory to be obtained here. But they had their orders.
They would always have their orders.