New York City, USA
"Staff Sergeant! What are you doing?" The captain shouted. Moore ignored him and continued to run. His ally was in danger, and he would stop at nothing to save him. "Staff Sergeant get the..." Moore turned off his radio and kept running. An explosion sent shrapnel and fire blowing past him. The heat burned his skin, and the shrapnel cut deep into his right arm, but we would not fall back. Private Daniels needed to be saved. "Private!" He shouted. Nothing. He dived for cover as the aliens fired a transporter ray at him. Regaining his feet, the Ranger aimed down his sights and fired. The alien dropped dead at his cannon. Breathing heavily, he checked on his arm. It was bleeding very badly, but he still had feeling, so the wound wasn't too bad. Beside him, another Ranger took a bullet to the head. His blood spewed into the face of the Staff Sergeant and stung his eyes.
Moore growled in anger and wiped his eyes clean. "Private Daniels! Where are you?" He shouted. "Staff Sergeant? I'm here! Behind the wrecked humvee!" He heard. He turned to his right and dived over to a destroyed vehicle. Sure enough, there was Daniels, and two other Rangers right next to him. "I thought your orders were to stay on me! What the heck is going on?" He shouted as he pulled the pin from a frag. He used his right arm and threw with all his might, causing a quick shot of pain to his limb. He ducked back down as Daniels reloaded his weapon. "We got cut off by a group of freaks on the way! Radio comms were knocked out!" He shouts as he pops up to fire. Moore turns on his radio right as the captain finishes a cursing storm.
"Captain this is Staff Sergeant John Moore, I have located Private Daniels and three..." A Ranger besides Moore screamed in pain and fell back into a slowly growing blood puddle. "...Make that two other Rangers!" He shouts into his radio. "Are you crazy Staff Sergeant? You put this whole mission at risk! Get back over here before we lose the whole city!" The captain shouted through the transceiver. "Roger that! I'm Oscar Mike!" He shouts as he reloads his weapon. He taps Daniels on the shoulder and shouts for him to follow. "You got it sir! Come on guys we're on the move!" The private yells in reply.
Moore exhales and lets out his war cry. He pulls his trigger and aims down his sights, running like a marathon runner. He ducks as he avoids another laser and throws another frag grenade. He tries to shoot again, but there is just a clicking noise. Further inspection reveals that he is out of ammo. He curses and begins to reload when he sees the aliens aim the transporter at Daniels. "Private look out!" Moore shouts in distress.
Unfortunately, the private cannot hear him over the gunfire. The ray began to charge up and makes a loud humming noise, giving off violent rays of blue light. It was about ready to fire. Desperate, Moore charges to the private and shoves him out of the way. The beam fires and comes into contact with the man's body. Moore begins to twitch violently as he feels his arms and legs loose their cells. "Staff Sergeant!" He hears Daniels shout. Suddenly, a large blast goes off in the sky, shutting down electronics. The beam stops, but Moore is still fading. "EMP! Electronics are down!" Another Ranger shouts. "Staff Sergeant!" Was the last thing Moore heard before he vanished entirely.
Meanwhile... in Equestria
Twilight Sparkle opened the door to the library, a young light green filly stood outside in the darkness. "E-Excuse me... may I please..." She began to say, but Twilight pulled her in before she could finish. She shut the door quickly and held her breath. With caution, she opened the blinds and looked out the window. There was fire, dead bodies, and royal guards fighting off the creatures, but none were interested in the library. Twilight let out a sigh of relief and closed the blinds.
The filly hadn't been spotted. She quickly turned her attention to the frightened pony and talked slowly. "Are you okay sweetheart? Where are your parents?" The filly began to cry and Twilight frowned. "It's okay, you can tell me." She said with kindness in her voice. She smiled and lifted the young pony's face to her own. Her face was red with tears, and snot dripped down her snout, which Twilight washed away with a hankie. "M...M...My daddy...he got... he..." She said trying to hold back tears. Twilight embraced the young child and let her cry into her. "I am so sorry..." She said. the filly just continued to cry.
"Twilight, the food is ready, who should I get it to first?" Spike said as he came out of the kitchen. He saw the crying filly in Twilight's forelegs, and gasped. He tapped her shoulder and the filly turned to face him. "Are you... Star Shine's daughter?" He asked. Twilight let go of the young one and let her answer. "Yes... she... said she... she said she would meet us in town... my dad got killed on the way here." She said. Twilight walked to the side of the child. It was clear she was on the verge of crying again. Spike smiled and said; "Come on! She's in the refugee room! She's okay!" The young filly instantly brightened up and stared at Twilight's assistant. "She is? She's ok?" She said, voice trembling. Spike nodded vigorously and motioned for her to follow. Twilight smiled as her young friend took the filly to her mother.
"We get another one?" She heard from the guest room. She turned to see Applejack walking toward her with a limp. Twilight frowned and eyed her leg. These black creatures had shown up no more that 2 weeks ago, but the results of their savagery felt like years had passed. Applejack saw her friend's worry and tried to comfort her. "Ah'm fine, Ah promise." She said, obviously hiding pain from her leg. Twilight sighed and sat down near the door. Applejack frowned and took a seat next to her once very cheery friend. "That's not it, is it?" She asked. Twilight looked at her with sad eyes and shook her head. "I'm worried about the others. We haven't heard from them in days. What if they're hurt and we're just sitting here?" She said as tears fell from her face.
Applejack wrapped her forelegs around her hurting friend. "They're gonna be fine. Ah'm sure of it. Just like I'm sure Applebloom, Granny Smith, and Big Macintosh are ok." Twilight smiled and returned her friend's hug. She was glad she was with her. She felt better knowing that Applejack was going through the same thing she was. The ponies let go of each other as Twilight walked into the kitchen. "Come on, there are hungry ponies upstairs." She said. Applejack nodded and followed. "Maybe seeing the reunited mother and filly will ease my mind." Twilight thought to herself.
"Twilight... wake up." Twilight turned in her sleep, and moaned. "Come on now sugarcube, it's daylight. We need to get moving." Applejack said. Twilight just rolled over and shook her friend off. She had stayed up all night, she needed sleep. With so much to do, she had volunteered to stay up to take care of the refugees who were staying in the library. It took five hours to get them all settled down enough to sleep. "Next time you have to deal with ten different fillies asking for hundreds of different things, then you can talk to me about getting up." She said with an annoyed tone.
Applejack sighed and left her friend alone. She was the one who volunteered. There was a knock on the door, which made AJ chuckle. Twilight always hated it when ponies knocked on the library door. It was kind of funny to listen to here rant about libraries being "public places" but nopony seemed to care. AJ took the doorknob and twisted it. Instantly, she was overwhelmed with joy, and ran forward to hug her family.
"Applejack, you're ok!" Applebloom shouted as she cried into her big sister's chest. Big Macintosh smiled and held his two sisters close. They had been worried sick about her all night, and had been asking all around if anyone had seen her. The siblings held each other close, with the only noise penetrating the silence being their sobbing. "I was so worried about y'all..." Applejack said with a shaky voice. "So were we. Big Macintosh couldn't sleep without knowin' if you were alright." Her little sister said as the group disbanded. AJ looked up to her big brother and smiled.
"Sorry Applejack, I was a little..." Twilight began as she came out from her room. She paused once she saw the rest of the Apple family. She smiled and walked over. "You're all okay?" She asked as she invited them all in. Big Macintosh nodded and gave out his famous; "Eeyup." The others chuckled and the group sat down in the kitchen. There was a pan containing eggs on the stove, as well as some juice. "I'm preparing breakfast for all the ponies who are staying here, I could use a little help." Twilight said as she took a few daisies from a vase and placed them between two slices of bread. Applejack nodded and helped pour glasses for the ponies, while Big Macintosh and Applebloom got plates.
"I know y'all just got here, but, where's Granny Smith?" AJ asked as she poured another glass. "She's back at the acres, said somepony had to make sure the chores got done." Applebloom said after placing a plate on the table. "I still think she should have let one of the others handle it." She added. Twilight nearly dropped the pan of eggs. The Apples looked at her with concern. "Others?" She asked as he turned around. Applebloom nodded. "Yeah, Rainbow and the others are staying there. Everyone but you and AJ that is." She said. Twilight smiled and began to laugh. "They're okay..." She whispered to herself. This was great news, all her friends had survived! They were still here!
Just then, a bright flash of light shone through the window. The ponies covered their eyes and got down. Big Macintosh instantly brought his younger sisters close to him, and wrapped his protective forelegs around them. "What's goin' on?" Applebloom shouted in panic. "Just stay down!" AJ shouted back. A strong wind began to blow, and the building began to shake. The rumbling knocked over several plates and plants, causing them to shatter. Slowly, the light faded to the point the ponies could get up again. "Everypony alright?" Big Macintosh asked. "Ah'm okay." AJ said. "Me too. But what was that?" She asked again. Twilight went to her window and watched as the light slowly faded back into the Everfree forest.
Moore groaned in pain as he awoke. He knew for sure he was in some sort of alien holding cell. Only time would tell what despicable things the aliens would do to him. He brought his hand to his head. A splitting headache was preventing him from focusing. This was probably another affect of the ray, and no doubt prevent him from putting up a good fight to get out. "Probably the reason no one ever got out..." He thought to himself.
He opened his eyes and was surprised to find himself in a forest. "What the heck?" He thought to himself. Slowly, he stood and checked his surroundings. This was so strange, where was he? He looked down and saw his M4 dangling from it's chord. It was devoid of a clip. "My supplies, better check on what I have." He quickly took off all of his gear and placed it on the ground, unpacking everything. Before him was a radio, a Berretta with 8 clips, his M4 with 19, a bottle of water, 2 M67 fragmentation grenades, a claymore, one pack of food, and his combat knife.
Moore smiled, his supplies were in good shape. for just one man, this would be very easy to live by. The Staff Sergeant began to pack up all of his gear, and placed it back on him. He slid a fresh clip into his assault rifle and hit his helmet. That was also still in good shape. The transportation didn't seem to have damaged his combat attire and Kevlar. He looked back down at the radio that he had placed to his side. There was no need for him to be lost any longer than he needed to be, so he took the radio and began to speak.
"Anyone, this is Staff Sergeant John Moore of the 1st Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment, can anyone hear me?" He took his finger off the transmit button and waited for a response. Nothing. Moore tired again. "Is anyone there? This is Staff Sergeant John Moore, does anyone copy?" He waited for a reply, but he still didn't get one. Behind him, he heard a long growling noise. Startled, he dropped his radio and aimed his rifle. "Hello? Who's there?" He asked with his finger on the trigger.
All there was the sound of twigs snapping, and Moore turned to the direction of the sound. "Who are you? What do you want?" He said with a calm voice. He was a bit nervous, but there was no way he would let this thing know. It was alone, and maybe if the creature thought he had backup, it would leave. While still aiming his rifle at the direction of the sound, he bent over to pick up his radio. He placed it back at his side and carefully brought his hand back to the front grip on his rifle.
"Stand down, identify yourself." He said with a growl in his voice. Whatever this thing was, it would learn not to attack a Ranger. The growling grew louder, and the twig snapping was getting closer. Moore prepared himself, and the trigger on his weapon was just barely not firing. The slightest change in the force he exerted would send bullets flying into this thing. "Stand down! Or I will fire on you!" He shouted, his voice full of fury. That was when the creature attacked. it leaped out at him, a giant lion with the tale of a scorpion and dragon like wings...
Moore dived to the side to avoid the charging creature. On the ground, he watched as it began roared into the air and turned. "What is that thing?" He shouted out loud as he struggled to get up. He tried to aim his rifle, but the creature charged again. Moore once again was able to dodge the strike, but was off balance and tripped. The strange creature ran into a tree, giving the Staff Sergeant enough time to get up.
Shouting in rage, he fired his weapon at the creature, emptying his entire clip into it's legs. But the beast would not falter. Once again it roared into the air and began it's charge. "Oh you have got to be kidding me..." Moore thought to himself as he tried to reload. The creature rammed him against a tree and the Staff Sergeant gave a quick shout of pain.
The creature took his paw, and let loose his claws. Panicking, Moore took his knife and prepared himself. The beast swung his claws at the man, but he was able to stab it with his knife. It let out a roar of anger and dropped him. Moore hit the ground with a thud, and quickly felt the wind knocked out of him. Regaining his breath, he loaded a fresh magazine into his rifle and took off into the trees.
He panted and struggled to avoid the branches as the beast let loose his vocal terror and charged after him. Moore stopped briefly and fired five rounds to the creature's skull. It crashed into a tree, blinded by the metal. "No time to lose." Moore thought to himself. With haste, he once again took off deeper into the woods, curving and changing his path several times to make sure the beast could not track him. He kept running for what felt like a good five minutes, and finally stopped from dehydration. Moore came to a halt at a large tree and bent over, gasping for air.
He quickly took his water, breathing heavily as sweat poured out of his glands. Bringing the bottle to his lips, he turned it and felt the refreshing liquid flow down his throat. Still breathing heavily, he closed the bottle and placed it back. He coughed a few times and turned looked behind him. The creature was smashing down trees in pursuit. Moore took his rifle and aimed.
The beast charged closer, and closer, letting out a deafening cry. Moore closed one eye and aimed for it's head. Just as the monster knocked down the final tree, Moore fired every last round in to the skull of the creature. It went to it's hind legs and let out a whimper of pain. It fell onto it's back and gave a heartbreaking noise from it's throat. Moore's breathing steadied as he took his knife and plunged it into the beast's heart. With one final cry of pain, the beast ceased to breathe.
Moore took his knife and just stood there for a moment. Taking in the scene that lie before him. He looked at the knife in his hand, still freshly coated in the demon's blood. He had just killed an unknown creature, never discovered by anyone on Earth. Where was he? What kind of messed up country was he trapped in. Easing his breathing, he cleaned his knife and placed it back by his side. "I need to figure out what's going on..." Moore thought to himself.
He checked his watch, which was just blinking random numbers. He gave an annoyed growl and looked around. He tried to think of a solution as to why he ended up here. "Think Moore, what happened?" That's when it hit him. The EMP, it must have interfered with the transportation process. Instead of the alien detention facility, he was stuck in some unknown location. He sat down on next to a tree and took off his helmet, running his hand through his hair. He held his helmet and wondered what to do. He looked back down to his radio, he never had finished using it. There had to be some sort of human compound nearby, there was no way there couldn't.
Unclipping the possible lifeline, he pressed the transmit button and once again tried to communicate with anyone out there. "My name is John Moore, I am US Army Ranger, can anyone hear me?" He asked with desperation. Silence was his the only reply. Outraged, he shouted into the speaker. "Hey! Don't just ignore me! Someone had better reply!" Nothing. Sighing, he placed the radio back onto his side and put his helmet back on. He was alone, whether he like it or not.
Several Hours Later...
"Twilight, we've gone this way five times before." Applejack said with fatigue in her voice. Twilight looked back to her friend and frowned. She hung her head and came to realization. They were lost. She had convinced her friend to go with her and discover the cause and source of the mysterious light, but she had failed, and now they were stuck in this forest.
Disappointed with herself, Twilight sat down and looked at the depressing forest. It was getting close to night time, and everypony knew it wasn't safe to be in the Everfree Forest when dark had fallen. "I'm sorry AJ, I'm so horrible. You finally get to see your family, and I just rip you away from them... only to get you lost..." She said with regret. Applejack smiled and walked over to her friend. "Aw it's alright sugarcube. You didn't mean it. Ah'm sure we'll be fine."
Just then, they heard a twig snap. Twilight turned her head and leaped to her hooves. "Applejack, did you..?" "Yeah, I heard it..." The friends stood side by side as they looked from one direction to another. Leaves rustled to the side, making the duo jump. "What was that?" Twilight asked, frightened. Applejack tried to be brave and said; "Ah... Ah'm sure it's nothin'. Probably just our minds playin' tricks on us." She said with a nervous smile. "At the same time?" Twilight asked. Her smile faded.
Twilight looked into the deep forestry and gulped. Sweat began to pour out from her forehead as she walked toward the massive foliage. AJ grabbed her. "What're you doin'?" She asked. "Either we figure out what this thing is, or it finds us and it'll be too late." Her friend replied. Applejack gulped and nodded as she followed her. Just then, a strange creature leapt out from the tree line and pointed some kind of contraption at them. The two ponies froze in fear.
The creature had two strangely shaped limbs carrying the odd device, and two others touching the ground, making it very tall. It had no fur, and wore a camo outfit, with several pouches along it's waist. It wore sunglasses as well. The creature lowered the device and stared at the friends in confusion. "What the heck? Ponies? And a unicorn? What is this place?" It said quietly. "It talks..." Twilight whispered. The creature jumped, shouting and pointing the object back at them. "SON OF A..!" It shouted. Twilight whimpered in fear, while AJ lowered her head and trembled.
Moore aimed the assault rifle at the unicorn and horse. They had just talked! He tried to ease his mind and stop trembling. The orange one lifted the hat it was wearing and looked with fear upon him. "W..W...What are you?" It asked with a shaky, trembling voice. Moore breathed quickly, and loudly as he replied. "I'm... a human... US Army Ranger..." He walked closer and tightened his grip on the weapon. "Who... and what... are you?" He demanded. The purple unicorn whimpered and spoke. "I... I'm Twilight Sparkle... S... Star pupil of Princess Cel... Celestia. I'm a... a... a Unicorn..." It said with a gentle, feminine voice. They were females, probably teen aged or young adults by the sound of it.
He eased the grip on his gun and turned back to the orange one. "You?" He said as he lowered the rifle. The orange horse gulped and lifted her hat. "Applejack... Ah... Ah'm an... Earth... Pony..." She said with fear in her voice. Moore eased his breathing. The two ponies continued to look upon him with fear. He sighed. "I'm sorry I frightened you. I thought you were something else. My name is John Moore." He said with a steady voice. The ponies relaxed and looked at him. This was so strange, what was happening? One minute he's in New York, the next he's in some forest with colored, talking "Earth Ponies" and Unicorns.
Swallowing, he slowly walks closer to the horses and kneels down. One backs behind the other, who raises a hoof and backs her head away. He rubbed the back of his head and tried to explain himself. "Look... my job is protecting people... and... I'm not going to hurt you." He said still staring at the ground.
Twilight cowered behind Applejack as this "human" explained himself. This was so strange, she had never seen a creature like this before. It appeared to be sorry for it's actions. "He." She reminded herself. He wasn't an it, he was a monster with a name. "Look... There was a uh... mishap... in my world, and well... I got sent here..." He said. Twilight walked forward and began to speak herself. "You're in the Everfree Forest, Equestria, to be more exact." The creature rose it's head and looked to the right.
Twilight backed away. Looking back toward her, the human looked into her eyes. "Well, uh.. Twilight Sparkle..." He said, rubbing the back of his head with a... hand. Now she knew what these limbs were. Arms and legs, minotaurs had them. "And... Applejack... it's getting dark out, and we need to get out of the open. "The friends nodded as the man stood up and turned on a device that gave off a beam of light, which was on the side of the first one. "I know you probably don't trust me, but... You'll last the night if you stick with me. I can protect you." He said.
"I don't know Twi, should we go with him?" AJ asked. Twilight looked at the man, and saw a serious, unforgiving face. He looked very dangerous, but for some reason, Twilight felt like she could trust him. "I think so. He may be our only hope of surviving the night. In the morning we'll take him back to Ponyville and see what the Princess has to say about this." She whispered. Applejack nodded and turned to face the man. "Lead the way. Stranger. We're trusting you." She said to the man.
Twilight uncomfortably tried to fall asleep, but was unable to. The sounds of the forest kept causing her to open her eyes. She sighed and looked to her right. Applejack was having no better luck. In her eyes, she saw the same desire she had. Home, with her friends and family. Twilight still hadn't seen or heard from her parents since the attack began. She was concerned, and was hoping they were okay. To the left, the Staff Sergeant stood guard, with the device in his hands. Twilight looked upon him with fascination. She could only imagine how advanced his civilization must be.
"Excuse me... Staff Sergeant?" She called. He turned his head to the side, indicating that he was listening. "Yeah?" He asked. His voice was very deep, she had never heard a pony speak that low. Except maybe Big Macintosh, but that was debatable. "Can I ask you a few questions?" She asked kindly. He turned fully around so that he was looking at her. He was no longer wearing his sunglasses, and his eyes were a light, sensitive blue color. "Such as?" Twilight looked at the ground and played with a leaf. "I'm just, curious about your world. Your species. I've never seen anything so advanced in my life." The man sighed and walked over.
He sat down underneath a tree and took off his helmet. Twilight pondered this creature. His brown mane was very short, only covering the top of his head, and coming down slightly above his forehead. "What do you want to know?" He asked. Twilight eyed his mane, and began there. "Why are human manes like that?" She asked. The man raised his eyebrow asked what she meant. Maybe they weren't called manes in the human world. Applejack cleared up the question for her.
"The fur on top of yer' head. Why's it like that?" The Staff Sergeant looked up to his head, and chuckled. "Well, this is called hair first of all. Second, it's cut this way because I'm a soldier. Soldiers have their hair cut really short so it doesn't get in their eyes, that way they can shoot better." He said. He reached into a pouch and took out a bottle of a liquid. It didn't take Twilight long to realize it was water. "Here. You must be thirsty." He said as he twisted a cap off of the bottle and passed it to them.
AJ took a sip as Twilight asked another question. "What is that thing that you're carrying around? And the other things?" AJ passed the bottle as the Staff Sergeant observed the thing in his hand. He frowned and sighed. "This is a gun. This particular one is called an M4A1. It's and assault rifle, meaning that it is used for attacks on the front lines, whether it's offensive of defensive. It fires 5.56mm rounds at a full auto rate." He said. Twilight passed the water back to him, and he put the cap back on.
He pulled out a small device from his side. It looked like a small version of the other one. "This is a handgun, used for gunning by hand. It fires 9mm rounds, and unlike the M4, only fires one shot when you pull the trigger. you have to pull multiple times to fire multiple shots. It's used for close quarters combat." He put the gun back and took out a spherical object that Twilight had seen him holding an hour earlier. "This is a grenade. It explodes. Pull the pin, and in a few seconds, it blasts fire and shrapnel."
He then pulled out the his knife, which he didn't need to explain, and his claymore, which he explained in good detail. Twilight nodded and asked him why he used this stuff. John, as he was called, hung his head and spoke slowly. "They are weapons of war. They're used to kill other human beings. Ones that are against you. They are specifically created to bring pain and death." Twilight's mouth was agape, why would humans kill their own species? She hadn't realized she asked the question aloud.
"It kind of depends really. Different men have different reasons. But my faction, the Rangers, use them to fight for the innocent. To defend those who can't do it themselves. We fight for justice, and freedom. It's hard sometimes, but in my opinion, liberty is worth fighting for. I would give my life for it." The three just sat there in silence for a while, taking each other in. Finally, Applejack broke the silence by asking him about his home, what it was like.
He spoke of large, beautiful meadows, breathtaking landscapes, and towering cities. As well as extraordinary technological breakthroughs. But he also spoke of poverty, and destruction. Twilight listened with fascination. The soldier began to talk about his home country, called the United States of America, with a bunch of different shortened versions. He told them about famous generals like someone named George Washington, elected leaders called "Presidents", and of the democratic society.
"The laws and foundation of the US support the ideals of Democracy, and equality. No man is better than another, all are entitled to the same freedoms, the same privileges..." Twilight was amazed, the story and history of this world was unbelievable, there were so many things to learn, to discover. The Staff Sergeant got up and put his helmet back on.
"Get some rest you two. You'll need your strength for the morning. I promise I'll answer any other questions you have once I can get you home safely." Twilight yawned and nodded. She was kind of tired now. "One more question." Applejack asked as she laid down on a soft patch of grass. The soldier sighed and asked what it was. "Just outta curiosity, how old are you?" AJ asked as she rested he head on her hooves.
The soldier turned to face the ponies. Twilight wondered what he must have been feeling. with a calm, serious tone, he answered. "29. Now go to sleep." The man walked back over to where he had previously been standing before the ponies had asked him all of the questions. Twilight laid her head on her hooves and smiled. This man fought for freedom, and liberty. Happiness. His methods were questionable, but his heart was in the right place. She slowly drifted off to sleep, feeling safe to know such a soldier was defending her. Maybe things would be okay.
Moore calmly walked beside the two strange ponies, gun in hand. He looked down at the unicorn who was still talking quietly to the other. Despite being curious as to what these mythical creatures could be talking about, he managed to prevent himself from eavesdropping on their conversation. He checked his watch again, only to see that it was still ferociously blinking numbers like it was the day before. He sighed. The ponies had better know where they were going.
"Excuse me, Staff Sergeant?" Twilight called. He turned his head and looked at the small unicorn. "Yes?" "Why did humans start killing one another? I mean, it's just such a cruel act, not even the most evil ponies did such a thing here." She asked. Moore frowned. This was terrible. Why did these ponies care so much? It was his species that did it, not theirs. "What do you care? If you hate it why ask?" He shot back with a harsh tone. Twilight withdrew, but still used her eyes to plead for an answer. He turned away and ignored her. "The less you know about killing and war the better. It's..." The unicorn stepped closer. "It's what?" She asked with a kind tone. He looked into her eyes.
The deep colors of purple stared into his soul, as though she could tell it hurt him to think about the scenes that he had observed. "It... It's horrible... You get so many hard feelings from it... The pictures are enough to wannna make you vomit..." He said as he shook his head. The orange one, Applejack, walked up to him. "If y'all hate it so much, why do you keep doin' it?" She asked. Moore looked at the mare with sadness in his eyes, wishing that they didn't care so much.
"Because we have to. There are bad men in our world, who get pleasure out of seeing people suffer. They fight to please their dark interests, and just kill. We fight to stop them, and save those that would die if we hadn't. But even killing them makes you feel bad." He explained. "Why?" The earth pony asked. "Because even bad people fall in love and get married. You don't know if they had a wife who was hoping they would come back, a son who he had promised to spend time with when he got back... Some don't even want to fight, they're just forced to so they can save their families from being killed. The only thing that makes it easier is knowing that you're fighting for a good cause. But even that fails to calm you sometimes."
Twilight looked at the man with sad eyes. Moore just continued to walk. "Come on. I gotta get you home." He said. Trying to ignore his anger and frustration. Twilight walked along side him. "So you know which way to go?" He asked. The unicorn nodded. "Now that I can use my magic to retrace our steps, getting to Ponyville in a snap." She said with a smile. Moore raised an eyebrow. "A bunch of unicorns, ponies, and pegasai... live in a town called Ponyville?" He asked with confusion. Twilight nodded. "Of course they do." Moore said as he rolled his eyes. Twilight chuckled.
Suddenly, there was a growling from behind the trees. Moore threw his hand down into a halting position. "Wait a second..." He said. The growl turned into a gurgle, followed by a quiet screeching. Twilight backed away, frightened by the noise. AJ came up to her side just as frightened as she was. More of these noises sounded, as if there was more than one source. Moore aimed his rifle in the direction of one of the sounds. "If there's anything you could tell me about this... It would really help out." He said as he turned from noise to noise. Twilight looked up to the soldier with fearful eyes. "It's what we call Chaos Bringers..." She said nervously. "Ok, that doesn't help me." The Staff Sergeant said as he continued to hunt for the source.
"They arrived in Equestria about two weeks ago. We don't know why, but they kill innocent ponies and always attack in a horde. They're fast, have razor sharp claws, and seem to made completely out of darkness. What's worse whenever they show up, a bunch of chaotic stuff starts to happen. Fires, disappearances, collapsing buildings, that sort of thing. Several cities have fallen to them, the few ones that remain are protected by the Royal Guards." Twilight explained as she turned side to side searching for the assailants. "Do regular weapons work on them?" Moore asked. "Yeah, they vanish into a puff of black smoke when they die." The frightened unicorn said. "They seem to always know where ponies are... I'm scared..." She said as tears began to form in her eyes. Moore rotated his head so he could look down at her, still aiming his rifle at the trees. "Don't worry, I told you, I'm making sure you get home safely. I protect the innocent from these kinds of monsters remember?" Twilight nodded and stood behind him.
A black creature leaped from the branches of the trees, shrieking like a banshee. Moore place three rounds into it's chest and watched as it fell to the gorund. More charged out running on arms and legs, roaring in a high pitched whine. He fires and eliminates two more creatures as a third leaps onto him he manages to keep the claws away from him and stabs the creature with his knife. "Get out of here! Run!" He shouts as he dives on another creature and stabs it. Twilight and Applejack panic and run. Moore pulls out his berretta and fires two rounds into another creature. Leaping up, he slashes another creature coming at him and chases after the ponies.
Twilight ran as several of the creatures chased her. panting she tries to use magic to slow them down, but they climb up in the trees and avoid her. She hears loud noises and turns around. John is firing his "M4A1" and the creatures drop. She hears a clicking noise and watches as he checks his clip. He looks up and looks at her like she's an idiot. "What are you doing? Don't stop! Keep moving!" He shouts as a Chaos Bringer leaps onto his back. He flips it onto the ground and brings out his "pistol" and shoots it in it's head. Twilight again tries to run, but trips. AJ quickly picks her up and gets her back on her hooves. "Hurry Twi!" She shouts. Moore turns and gets piled on by six Chaos Bringers, shouting for them to move. Twilight hesitates, but listens to his orders.
The frightened unicorn ran as fast as she could, only to be stopped by another horde of Chaos Bringers. Next to her, and explosion rings out, disorienting her. The creatures tackle her to the ground, knocking her breath out of her. "No you don't you monsters!" She hears Applejack shout as she bucks the creatures off of her. She helps her up to her hooves, and Twilight quickly casts a spell to launch the creatures into the air. Applejack checks on her friend and steadies her. "You alright?" She asks with concern. Twilight nods and the two friends take off, or at least try to.
In no time at all, the Chaos Bringers are once again upon them. Applejack tries to lead the creatures away from Twilight so she can escape, but they don't take the bait. A majority are still after her. "Applejack it didn't work! Help me!" She shouts. Sweating out a waterfall from her glands she runs deep into the forest. "Hold on! I'm coming!" She hears he friend shouts. More creatures surround Twilight, and she uses a spell launches them into the air. With haste, she turns and runs, only to be pounced on by another creature. The creature hisses and slowly raises it's claw into the air. "Twilight!" She hears her friend shout. She's too far away, Applejack won't be able to save her. Twilight closes her eyes and waits for the end...
Suddenly, she felt the creature raised off of her, and opens her eyes. "You leave her alone you demon!" John shouts as he wrestles it to the gorund. It slashes his right arm and he groans in pain. Recuperating, he takes the creature and slams his head into a tree. In an instant, he's surrounded, and is attacked by twelve beasts."John!" Twilight shouts. summoning her courage uses a spell to send the creatures into the air. "Twilight!" Applejack shouts as she embraces her friend. Twilight returns it and looks around, the creatures are gone.
She sighs in relief, until she sees John. His arm is bloodied, and has several slashing wounds. He's panting like he cant breathe, and is steadily getting worse. Despite all this, his first thought is them. "Are... Are... You Two... Okay?" He asks out of breath. he rushes over to him and checks his arm. "Ok hold on, I can fix this." She said. She closes her eyes as her horn begins to glow a white glow.
Moore feels a cooling sensation, and looks down to his arm. Instantly, he gasps. His arm has been healed. No sign of the wounds. He stares at the unicorn, who is smiling happily, breathing heavily. "How... How did you do that?" He asks. She stands and checks his arm one last time. "Magic, I can heal ponies as long as it's not to severe." He smiles back and rubs the top of her head. "Thanks. I guess you are better than humans in some ways." He says. Twilight chuckles. "Don't understate yerself now here, you must have killed nearly all of them! We owe you our lives mister." Applejack said with a smile. Moore chuckles as he stands. "Com on. Let's get you home." He says as he rubs Twilight's mane again. She chuckles again. She smiles. "Thank you for saving me." She says. He smiles back. "You're welcome."
2 Hours Later...
Twilight looked out of the forest, they had finally made it home. "So this is it huh?" Twilight looked behind her at John, who was taking in the village. She nodded, a frown on her face. The dead bodies were being taken away, loved ones weeping as they walked past the foldable beds taking them away to be buried. "We got hit really hard, and the Royal Guards can barely hold them off. We've lost thirty ponies already, and almost 4 times as many have been injured." Applejack said as the group went out of the forest.
Twilight sighed. It was evident that the creatures had attacked again in the night. The large group that they had encountered in the forest was probably the same that had done this. "Twilight!" She heard a familiar voice shout. Turning her head, she saw her friends charging toward her. "Guys!" She motioned to AJ, who began to run to them, as did she. John stayed back. The friends embraced laughing and crying as they collapsed to the ground.
"Darling, we were so worried... We thought that... that..." Rarity began. Rainbow finished it for her, seeing that her fashion crazed couldn't. "We thought the Chaos Bringers got you." She said with a shaky voice. "We were so scared! I couldn't sleep at all, I just kept pacing and pacing and pacing and pacing..." Pinkie began. Twilight chuckled. "We get it Pinkie." The rest of the group laughed, except for Fluttershy, who was cowering behind her friends at something behind them. The others noticed, and looked behind AJ and Twilight. Rainbow charged forward and took to the sky, ready to attack. "Wait!" Twilight shouted. Her pegasus friend stopped abruptly and stared at her. Fluttershy peaked her head out. "W... W... What i..is..t-t-t that thing?" She asked nervously.
Moore sighed and looked away in shame. It was just what was afraid would happen. He was frightening the other ponies. Twilight smiled and introduced him. "He's a human girls, you don't have to be afraid of him. When we were lost last night, he took care of us, and guarded us while we slept." "Oh really?" A rainbow maned pegasus asked eyeing him. She flew within a few inches from his face, causing him to back up slightly. "Just what were you doing in the forest? Hm?" She asked with an angry tone. Moore remained calm, just staring at the pegasus, who became increasingly frustrated at being ignored. "Hey! Answer me!" She shouted. "No." He replied.
"Rainbow cut it out, this man saved our lives! Why if it weren't fer him Twilight and I would be dead inside that there forest!" Applejack shouted. The pegasus turned to her, as did the other three. "Is this true Twilight?" The white unicorn asked. Twilight nodded. "He made sure nothing attacked us. On our way here, we were attacked by a horde of Chaos Bringers." A yellow pegasus gasped and walked closer to her. Twilight smiled and calmed her. "I'm okay Fluttershy, We're okay." She turned to Moore and smiled. "Thanks to him. One leapt on me and was about to kill me, but... he pulled it off and let himself get hurt so I would make it." A pink pony instantly smiled and leapt up to him bouncing all around him. "Thank you so much for saving my friends! I would be so sad if they got hurt and I don't like being sad because being sad makes me feel all bad inside and I..."
Moore sighed as the pony continued her rant, going on and on about how the town wouldn't be the same and everypony would be so sad if they died. "Pinkie easy now. You don't wanna give him a headache do you?" Applejack said with a chuckle. The pink pony smiled and stuck out her hoof. "Hi my name's Pinkie Pie! What's your name?" She asked. Moore had seen jack-o-lanterns with smaller smiles. He chuckled. The upbeat and happy personality of "Pinkie Pie" was something he hardly ever saw anymore. "I'm Staff Sergeant John Moore of the 1st Bt. 75th Ranger Regiment." Pinkie 'oohed and start shooting off questions left and right. The Staff Sergeant couldn't help but hold his head. This pony was giving him a headache. "So is Staff Sergeant John Moore 1st battelions 75th wranger regimen all one name, or are they like, mixed names?" "Well actually, Staff Sergeant is my rank in the military. John Moore is my name, and the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment is my particular military group." Pinkie nodded.
The blue pegasus with the rainbow colored mane sighed. "Sorry, I guess you are pretty nice." She said unenthusiastically. "You have no reason to be sorry. I am something you have never seen before. You had good cause to be suspicious." He said. The pegasus smiled and stuck out her hoof. Moore took it and shook. "Name's Rainbow Dash, best flier in all of Equestria... what's up with your hand?" Moore looked down and saw his hand was trembling. He sighed and held it with his other hand. "PTSD. Seeing a lot of dead innocent people dead triggers it." He said sadly.
The white unicorn walked up and looked at him. There was concern in her eyes, but also curiosity. Why shouldn't they be curious? He was the first human they had ever seen. "How long have you had this disorder?" She asked. He smiled. At least their worlds had the same disorders. "Back when I was just a private. I saw an entire village get slaughtered. The only reason I survived was because a teammate sacrificed himself so I could escape." He said, frowning again. The yellow pegasus came over and held the hand, inspecting it.
"You poor thing, I'm sure that must have been horrible for you." She said with a sad look. He sighed. "It was. What's your name?" He asked. The pegasus cowered away and whimpered. He sighed and looked at the ground full of guilt, he was still scaring them. "Fluttershy..." He looked up and raised an eyebrow at the pegasus. It was so quiet he could barely hear it. "Sorry, what?" He asked kindly. The pony spoke a little louder, so he could hear it. "Um... My name is... Fluttershy." He smiled. They were warming up to him at least. "May I ask your name?" He said turning to the white unicorn. She inspected his battle gear and said; "Rarity. I run the largest fashion shop here in Ponyville. You should stop by. Those rags you are wearing are absolutely filthy." "RARITY!" Twilight shouted. "Well they are.." Moore chuckled. "Are we going to tell the Princess?" "Rainbow Dash" asked. Moore looked to Twilight with questioning eyes. "The ruler of Equestria." She explained. Turning back to her friend, she answered. "The best we can do right now is send a letter, and hope she gets it." Rainbow nodded as "Pinkie Pie" leapt around him and insisted on showing him the town. Moore had to calm her down a bit, but he accepted. "Well come on gang, let's show our new friend here our home." Applejack said as she pointed her hoof to the village.
"Have you ever seen something like that?" Moore heard from out in the crowd of ponies who were staring. He looked down and tried to avoid any kind of eye contact with them. "Mommy, is he going to hurt us too?" He heard a young, fearful voice ask. "I don't know Freedom... I don't know." He heard in response. "Staff Sergeant?" Looking down, he saw Twilight stare up at him. Her eyes contained concern and worry. "Are you okay?" "Uh... Yeah... I'm uh... I'm fine." He looked away, not wanting her to see the obvious proof he was lying, his eyes. He heard a sigh, and continued to look down.
"And this is Sugar Cube Corner. It used to be the best sweets shop in town, but now it serves as a makeshift hospital. Since there are so many injuries, we need as many as we can get. Even if it means sacrificing something we all like." Pinkie said as she pointed at a building, seemingly made of gingerbread and candy. It would be a lot more cheery if plaques carrying names of the dead weren't on the front of the door.
"You. Creature." A low, deep voice said. Moore turned. Before him was a white pegasus, almost as tall as him, covered in golden armor. "What are you doing here?" He said as he eyed the man, distrust in his eyes. Moore just stared at him, not in wonder, but just a plain, blank stare. Being in a line up had taught him how to do that. "Answer me, beast." The pegasus said with a serious, hostile tone. By now, the six others had noticed what was going on. Moore cleared his throat. "I was escorting these ponies home. The purple one and the orange one." He said. The stallion (were pegasus males still called stallions?) squinted at him. "Well, they are home now. Be gone." He said sternly. "Now wait just a minute there! This feller here..." Applejack began, but the pegasus interrupted her. "This is not a matter for your say, this thing must leave. I do not trust these instruments it carries."
"Those are instruments? Do they sound like trumpets?" Pinkie asked as she eyed them. Moore stood his ground. "I saved their lives. You have no reason to make me leave." He said. The stallion whistled, and was instantly joined by ten more pegasai, each with their own golden armor. "We are the defenders of these ponies. Not you. Now be gone." "You call this defending them? Look at those plaques!" Moore shouted back. The stallion stepped forward, but was called off by a authoritative, calm, and still somehow gentle voice. "Commander, stand down." It said. The stallion backed away as a giant, full grown horse, with pegasus wings and a unicorn horn descended from the sky landing a few feet from the Staff Sergeant.
"Princess!" Rarity said with respect as she fell to the ground, bowing. Twilight walked over to her, and Celestia smiled. "Twilight my faithful student, I am glad to see that you are alright." Twilight smiled back and stood by her side. "Princess, I didn't know you were going to stop by." Celestia put a hoof on her student's shoulder. "I am checking in on the remaining villages to check on them. I wanted to help heal anypony I could." The princess looked at the creature, and whispered to her apprentice. "I see you have brought a visitor?" She asked. Twilight nodded and looked at him. "Are you this "Princess Celestia" that these six were talking about?" It asked. It had a masculine voice, even deeper than the commander's. She nodded. "You pig! Show the princess respect!" The commander shouted. "Commander." The princess said sternly. He backed down.
"An honor, I meant no disrespect." The creature said as it god down on one knee and bowed his head. Celestia walked closer him, and said, "At ease." He rose and tried to look away. The princess moved her head so he saw her anyway. "Yesterday, Twilight and Applejack went missing after they tried to discover the source of a mysterious light in the Everfree forest." She walked closer. "Did you help them get home?" She asked. "He did more that that your majesty." Twilight said as she walked back to her side. The Princess continued to smile, raising an eyebrow. "Oh?" "We got attacked by a group of Chaos Bringers, and he fought them off so we could escape. One almost killed me, but he ripped it off and took an injury to himself." She said as she smiled upon the creature.
Princess Celestia walked closer to him, making Moore back up a little. "What are you?" She asked with authority in her voice. Moore stared at the ground, then back to the princess. "I'm uh... a human." "What is your name?" She asked. Moore looked at the dog tags around his neck, and back to the mane of the strange, goddess like pony. How was it blowing without a breeze? He cleared his throat, and spoke as clearly as he could. "I'm John Moore. Staff Sergeant in the US Army Rangers." The princess nodded and backed away slightly. "I thank you Staff Sergeant Moore. So you are a soldier?" Moore looked away. "Are you unsure?" The unicorn/pegasus asked. Alicorn... he thought... that's what these things were called, right? He looked at the Alicorn and pondered what could be going through her mind. "Yes... I'm a soldier." He replied.
The Princess called for Twilight, who instantly responded. "How large was this horde of Chaos Bringers?" She asked. Twilight thought for a minute, she hadn't really thought about how large it had been. "I can't really say, but here had to be at least fifty. He killed a lot of them." The Princess nodded. Twilight wondered what she was thinking. "Staff Sergeant Moore, I thank you again for saving my little ponies. Allow me to ask a question. Would you give your life for anypony here? Even the commander?" She asked.
Moore looked at the stallion, who was still staring at him with distrust. He thought for a moment. Would he give his life for him? He was a lot like his captain back home, and if it meant the mission was a success, he gladly lay down his life for his cranky old captain. He sighed. "If it meant innocent lives could be saved, in a heartbeat." He said. The stallion was taken back by this, seemingly unsure of how to respond. The princess however, let out a satisfactory sigh, pleased. "That's all I needed to know." She said. Turning back to Twilight, she whispered something into her ear, causing Twilight to smile. "Of course." She said while nodding. The princess placed a hoof on Moore's shoulder. "John Moore, of the US Army Rangers, I would like you to be an official guardian for Ponyville, and the rest of Equestria." Moore stared in disbelief. The Alicorn backed away. Observing him carefully, he looked behind him, the other five ponies. They all stood there in shock.
"Well?" The Princess asked, waiting for her answer. The human looked up determination and fire in his eyes. With a solid voice, he replied; "It would be my honor." The commander growled as Twilight, Pinkie, and Applejack cheered, while the other three smiled. The Princess nodded. "Twilight will allow you to take shelter in her home, there is a guest room there that you can set up in. Welcome to Equestria Staff Sergeant." She said as she turned to the commander, motioning toward the sky. He gave a quick bow, and took off taking the others with him. The Princess smiled one last time, and disappeared into the sky. Twilight walked over and motioned to the Staff Sergeant. "Come on. We'll show you to where you're staying." She said with a smile on her face. Moore nodded and told her to lead the way.
Moore ducked to avoid hitting his head. The door to the library was rather small. Maybe it had to do with the fact it was a tree, or that it was made for ponies. "Well, here we are." Twilight said calmly. Pinkie bounced all around shouting about how much fun they were going to have. "Actually, I've had a really long day, I haven't slept in over 48 hours. I just want to go to sleep." He said. The pink pony looked disappointed. "But it's still so early! I was hoping we could..." "Pinkie dear, the man has had no sleep. I can easily tell by the condition of those bags under his eyes. He needs his rest. Especially if he's going to have his strength to fight off the creatures." Rarity said. Looking at him. "Thank you. Now, where's this guest room the princess was talking about?"
"This way." Twilight said. She led him through an archway, where Spike awaited. "Hey Twilight! Glad to see you made it bac..." He grew wide eyed as he stared at John. "Whoa, what is that thing?" Twilight chuckled. "That is a human. His name is John Moore. He's a Staff Sergeant in the US Army Rangers. and he is the newest guardian of Equestria." Spike smiled and had his mouth agape at him. "Cool!" He said. Walking up to him, he sticks out his claw and greets him. "My name's Spike, I'm a dragon." He said with a grin on his face. John took the dragon's hand and shook it.
"Pleasure." Moore said, barely able to keep his eyes open. Twilight walked over to the small dragon and told him to go see the others. He shot out like a rocket when he found out Rarity was out there. Moore scratched his head in confusion, which made Twilight chuckle. "I'll tell you about it when you wake up." She said, leading him into the guest room. The bed was larger that a pony, but he wasn't in the mood to do any questioning right now. He stripped off his gear, reducing himself to a dark green shirt and a light pair of pants. He didn't even bother lifting the covers.
Twilight smiled and shut the door, allowing the soldier the rest he needed. She joined the others in the lobby. Walking over to Spike, she tapped his shoulder. "Where are the refugees?" She asked. "Most went home when the sun rose. The few left are out gathering supplies." He said. Twi nodded as Pinkie leapt around. "This is so exciting! John looks like so much fun! I gotta plan a party, there will be balloons, cake..." She began. Twilight shook her head.
"I don't think he wants a party Pinkie. He doesn't really look like he's the social type." Rainbow said as she grabbed a Daring Do book. "You still haven't read them all?" Rarity asked. Rainbow shrugged. "Haven't had the time." Rarity nodded, saying that was true. It was, ever since the attacks began, nopony had really had enough time to do anything. They had been to busy staying alive and helping others stay safe. This was especially true for Twilight, who turned the library into a refugee center only a few hours after the first attack.
Applejack sat down and looked around. "Well, I'm gonna go see my family, let them know Ah'm okay." The others told her to be careful. She promised she would. The rest of the friends then began to discuss what was on all of their minds. John. "So what do you think of him?" Twilight asked Rarity. Rarity frowned. "I think he has a good heart and all, but that fashion he was wearing? Ugh! Simply disgusting! He must allow me to make him some clothes when he has some free time." Twilight rolled her eyes and chuckled. "What about you Fluttershy? You've been really quiet about this whole thing." The purple unicorn asked. Her shy friend smiled. "He seems like the kind of pony who would give up everything to keep others safe.' She shook her mane away from her eye. "I like ponies... or um... humans... like that." Twilight nodded.
"Pinkie, we already know you like him just because he's new and you can make a new friend." Rainbow said as she began to read, grinning smugly. Pinkie nodded faster that a woodpecker, which mad her voice sound like a blender. "Yeah! I can't wait to hang out with him it's going to be so much fun! I don't even know where to start!" She shouted with glee. Twilight placed her hoof to her mouth. Pinkie mumbled as she tried to continue talking. "Remember Pinkie, he's trying to sleep. Don't wanna wake him up." Pinkie nodded in understanding and Twilight released her mouth.
"So what about you Rainbow Dash? What do you like about him?" Twilight asked as she walked over to a shelf and grabbed a book of her own. Rainbow put down her book and leapt into the air, catching herself in the air. "He looks like the kind of person that'll be an interesting matchup in athletics, I wanna see what he's got." She said with a devilish grin. "I should have figured that you would only interested in the physical capabilities of the man." Rarity said as she shook her head. "Just what is that supposed to mean?" Dash asked as she flew within inches of her face.
"Easy girls, let's not cause more trouble than there is already going on." Spike said as he placed a book on a shelf. The two ponies eyed each other and backed away. "I hardly think we have to ask you why you like him Twilight." She said with a smile. Twilight returned it and nodded. "I just, kind of want to do something for him" She said. "You are. You're giving him a home in a world that's strange to him." Fluttershy reminded her. Twilight smiled. "That's true." She said. She looked back at the door leading to the guest room, where he now took his slumber.
"Well, what do you girls want to do?" She asked closing her book. Rainbow just kept her head in her book. "Guess I know what she wants to do." She thought to herself. "I just wanna be with you guys. I was really scared, I... I couldn't imagine any of you hurt." Fluttershy said. The ponies smiled and gathered for a group hug. Rainbow didn't notice at first, but eventually grew wiser and joined in. Twilight smiled. For the first time in weeks, it seemed like things were going to be okay.
Moore awoke in the bed, for a minute unsure where he was. Then he remembered that he was in Ponyville. He looked out of a window, seeing it was night time. Stretching he grabbed his gear. "John! John!" He hears from the lobby, grabbing his berretta, he puts it to his side and brings his assault rifle to his front. He opens the door, seeing a panic stricken Twilight. "John... there's... it's a..." "Calm down Twilight, what's the matter?" "There's... 5 hordes coming this way!" She said while trying to get ponies in the door. Moore nods and charges out.
Coming from the forest, he sees a swarm of Chaos Bringers charge, how many there are, he can't be sure. But one thing he does know, is that they're not gonna lay a finger on any of the ponies. He won't let them. "Human! Over here!" Moore turns to see a group of what looked like royal guards setting up a blockade. Sliding over, he fires a clip into the horde. "We have a blockade set up, but we don't know if it will hold." He said. Moore reloaded and peaked over the barrier, seeing multiple hostiles. "What are you thinking?" The stallion next to him asked. Turning his head, Moore tells him to grab six other guards, hide in two buildings next to the blockade and wait for a signal. "What will the signal be?" "I'll fire this into the air, when I do, leap from the buildings and ambush them. Got it?" "Certainly." Moore nods and pats him on the back. Popping back up, he places three rounds into the a creature and ducked back down.
"You're going to listen to him?" The Commander shouted at the Sergeant. "Sir, we are out of options, this creature has seen warfare on a scale none of us have, and we've never faced a horde of this size. "I still don't know, can we trust him?" A private asked. The Commander looked at the human, grabbing a young filly that had gotten separated from it's parents. He used his body to shield it, and got it to a pair of crying pegasai. "Ok, I'll admit, he has a strong heart." He thought. Sighing, he answered the Private. "What choice do we have? He's our best shot at getting out of this with no casualties. Men! Three of you hide in this building on the right. Another three on the left." The guards saluted and launched themselves to get to position. "You'd better know what you're doing human..." The commander thought to himself.
Moore released the crying child from his arm to her parents. "Thank you so much stranger!" The father replied embracing his child. Moore dived back over to the barricade, watching as the commander of the guards gave orders. "Please let him listen to me..." He thought. Once again he popped up, firing five rounds into three targets. Flying over to him the Commander asked him what he was trying to accomplish with this tactic. "It's called an ambush, being attacked from seemingly out of nowhere causes the enemy forces to panic, and they don't fight as well." He explained. "If even a single one of my men gets killed in the idea of yours..." "They won't! Now listen, I need you to order a frontal assault with the rest of your troops, I'll accompany you." The commander eyed him and nodded.
Twilight looked out her window, watching as John leaped over the barricade with the commander. "Twilight, we have a pegasus that has serious slashing wounds in his wings. He needs healing!" Spike shouted from behind. Twilight quickly rushed over to attend to the hurting pony. "Please... somepony help me!" He shouted in agony, a light magenta colored pegasus stood crying by his side. Twilight calmed him and told him to stay calm. She began he healing spell and hoped that John could stop any more injuries like this.
"Hostile behind you!" Moore shouted as he fired his weapon. A clicking noise sounded, signaling that he was out of ammo. He dropped the clip in his weapon and reached to reload. "Anytime now human!" The Commander shouted, who was kicking several of the creatures in the face. Moore shouted his war cry and fired his pistol into the air. The ambush began and the six guards rushed out from the buildings. Reactions from the creatures were just as he had hoped, they screeched and roared, not in anger, but fear and confusion.
"NOW! Give em' everything you got!" Moore shouts as he takes a grenade and pulls the pin. Throwing it into the crowd of Chaos Bringers. The shrapnel blasted through them, causing them to burst into dark smoke. Raising his rifle, he fires a clip into them, the stallions continue to bash them. He sees the Commander get surrounded, and rushes over to him. He takes his knife and slashes two. The remaining three leap onto him, one slashing his arm. Kicking it, he stabs one to the right in it's chest and gets back up.
"I've got you Commander, hang on!" He hears. Slowly reopening his eyes, he sees blood staining his white coat, as more slowly pours out. "Give me some cover, the Commander is down!" He hears. Looking up, he sees the human dragging him away, pressing it's hand against a wound on the commander's gut. "Look at me, you're gonna be alright!" He shouts as he raises one arm to fire his large weapon. "Why... are you... doing this..." He asked, out of breath. "Why do think? I'm a guardian, and you're just as much of a pony as anyone else." "Just leave me..." "Don't even think about it! We're in this together!"
Moore dragged the commander to a hospital, placing him on a couch and continuing to hold his wound. "Medic!" He shouts. A white pony comes out and gasps. "Commander! I need a team stat! Move!" Rushing out, Moore sees the stallions forcing the creatures back. "Keep it up!" He shouts as he rushes over. "They're retreating, keep pushing!" A stallion shouts. Moore takes his pistol and aims, firing on the Chaos Bringers. Hearing a cry of pain, he looks to his right. A unicorn is bleeding badly, it's yellow coat is drenched in red. "Hold on, I'm gonna get you some help!" Moore shouts as he lifts the injured pony over his shoulder. "You... you're the... the human... the... guardian..." It says out of clenched teeth. "Not now, save your energy." He says. Carrying the pony into the building Pinkie showed him, he gently sets it down on a soft place and rushes back out.
The creatures are all but gone, and the stallions have almost gotten them back to the forest. With one final war cry, Moore fires and kills every last one. A clicking noise sounds and the Staff Sergeant breathes heavily. The stallions surround and shower him with praise, but he quickly shoves it away. "I'm just doing what I thought was the right thing to do." "But that was the fastest we've ever pushed them out of town, you have to show us more of those tactics!" One shouts. Moore chuckles and promises to do so.
Twilight hears a knocking on the door. She groaned in annoyment. When would ponies learn they could come in whenever they wanted to? It's not like the library was private property. She opened the door and was surprised to see a dirt covered Moore at the door. His arm was bleeding again, so she assumed that he had been attacked there again. He smiled and said; "You can come out now." Twilight was taken aback by this. The creatures had just started their attack, how had they already been pushed back? "What? But... How?" She asked. "Human tactics, apparently they are extremely effective on these monsters." Twilight smiled and nodded. "You know, if you don't mind I would like to study your mind set in the morning." She said.
"By all means." He replied. Looking down at his arm, he chuckled and asked if she had a band-aid. Twilight giggled and closed her eyes, once again her horn illuminated a white glow. The cooling sensation filled his muscles, and the blood vanished, as did the wound. "I saw you carry the Commander and that other unicorn to safety. You really are a hero." Twilight said as she invited him back inside. "I'm just following my heart. Protecting people...or um... ponies is what I live for. To protect those who can't do it themselves." Twilight nodded. John may not have thought so, but Twilight believed that he was a savior.
Royal Guard Headquarters, Canterlot
"This tactic is called the "Feigned Retreat". It tricks the enemy into thinking you're falling back, but in reality, you're leading them into a slaughter." Moore said as he pointed at the battle maps. The guards nodded as they observed the paper. "How exactly does this strategy work?" One asked. Moore took a quill and drew a large rectangle. "Say these are enemy forces. What you do, is you take a small amount of men, and charge to engage them." Drawing a smaller rectangle and arrows show them charging and meeting. "Now, once things get to look bad, you fall back and rush to a set location." He drew an X and surrounded them with long, narrow rectangles. "Once the hostiles get here..." Pointing to the red X, as well as drawing an arrow to it. "You have two friendly groups charge forward, and hit them from the sides. Once that is complete, another unit sneaks around the back, and boxes them in." "Making escape impossible..." A guard says, finishing his sentence. Moore nods. "Precisely."
Just then, a bright white light appears in the middle of the room. Moore covers his eyes, standing up from his chair. He puts on his sunglasses, and investigates the light. "What is that?" He asks. "I don't know, this has never occurred before." A guard says. The light bursts, and Twilight appears, panicked and breathing heavily. Moore put his sunglasses away, and shook his head. This unicorn magic was just freaky, he didn't know how long it would take for him to get used to it. "John! We need your help!" She cried. Her breathing was heavy, and she seemed to be having trouble standing. Moore told her to relax and tell him what was going on slowly, and clearly. "It's Rainbow! She... she went inside the town hall, and the Chaos Bringers showed up!" The guards got up and rushed over. "An attack in the day? That's never happened before!" One shouted. Twilight shook her head. "No, it's not an attack, they set fire to the building, fire fighters are doing the best they can, but it's catching fire too many times, they can't get in!"
"How many ponies are in there?" Moore asked. Twilight began to tear up, her voice growing shaky. "Most got out, but... somepony said that they heard a cry of pain from the third floor. Rainbow didn't come out, I think she's still in there. Please, you have to help!" She shouted, tears strolling down her face. Moore clenched his fist. "Take me there." He said. The unicorn nodded. "We'll discuss more tactics when I get back. Until then, make sure there aren't any Chaos Bringers in this city." He said. The guards nodded and rushed out. "Hold on to me, we have to have physical contact for the transportation to work." She said. Moore took hold of her hoof. A purple glow surrounded him, and the was a tingling sensation. His world briefly faded to white, and he was in front of the town hall. In front of him were several coughing ponies, all with black stains in their fur, as well as firefighters trying to put out the fire.
Applejack turned and saw her friends and rushed over to hug them. "Yah made it!" She shouted. Moore pulled away. "Cut the chatter, what's the situation? Did Rainbow Dash come out while Twilight was getting me?" He asked. AJ shook her head, tears forming in her eyes. Moore grit his teeth and angrily stared at the ablaze building. "I'm going in." He said with fire in his eyes. AJ grabbed hold of him. "It's too dangerous! Even the fire fighters have to stay out because that there smoke is so thick!" "All the more reason to get Rainbow out of there." Moore said shaking off the Earth Pony. He charged through the doors as bystanders shouted if he was crazy.
"Rainbow Dash!" He shouted. The building was illuminated by a red glow, given off by the fire. He moved through, as a crackling noise filled his ears. "Rainbow! Where are you?" He shouted. Nothing. He had to think, Twilight said someone had heard a cry from the third floor, he had to start there. He looked around and saw a quickly crumbling case of stairs. Charging forward, the fragile steps crumbled as he ran up them. Diving, he reached the third floor as the final step fell, shattering into a heap of fiery embers at the bottom of the stairs. "Looks like I'll have to find another way out."
"Rainbow, Where are you?" He shouted again. Instantly he was cut off by a fierce coughing. He hacked and sputtered, throwing saliva and mucus from his throat. He could barely breath. Standing, he held his hand to a wall to support himself, calling out for Rainbow between his coughs. Altogether, he heard a soft weeping. "Rainbow Dash?" He cried before erupting into another fit of coughing. A weak, tearful voice cried out. "Hello?" Moore searched for it's source while trying to maintain his breathing. He hit the ground and crawled below the smoke. "Rainbow! Where are you?" He cried out. All he got in response was more crying. He looked over to a pile of debris, seeing a small piece of cyan fur through the cracks.
He rushed over, and threw the pieces of wood off the cyan pegaus. When the wood was gone, he saw her, bruised, bloodied, and covered in black stains. "Rainbow Dash, look at me!" He shouted. Rainbow managed to turn her head and open her eyes partially. "John..." She whispered. Moore shook her to try and make her more aware of her surroundings. A piece of the ceiling collapsed behind them, cutting off the route he had taken. Rainbow closed her eyes and laid her head down. "Just go... leave me..." She said quietly. Moore growled and shouted; "NO! I'm getting you out of this!" He took the cyan pegasus in his arms, while giving off another frenzy of coughing. Rainbow coughed as well, but it was weak and pathetic. "I can't breath..." She said. He brought her to his chest covering her nose and mouth with a cloth. "Come on stay with me Rainbow!" The Staff Sergeant desperately looked for anything that could be used as an exit.
In the distance, he saw a sign with the words, "Fire Exit". He smiled and shook the pegasus. "Hold on Rainbow Dash, you're gonna make it!" He coughed some more as he kicked in the door. The heat was unbearable, and Moore felt like he was being cooked. He had to get out, now. The fire exit contained two stairways. One had already collapsed, but the other was still intact. "Okay, hold on Rainbow, we're almost there!" Carefully, he walked down the steps as his body poured out sweat. Another coughing storm came, causing him to collapse to his knees. Rainbow coughed softly into his chest, giving off extra, unwanted heat.
He heard a crackling noise, and turned to see the stairs crumbling. "Oh you have got to be kidding me!" He shouts. Rushing to his feet, he runs down the stairs as quickly as he can. Rainbow is still crying very softly, giving Moore the inspiration he needs. Summoning his will power, he sprints as the stairs continue to collapse underneath him. A piece of the ceiling comes crashing down, cutting off access to the rest of the stairs. Moore backs up, now at the mercy of the burning building. He looks off to the side of the stairs, the jump is manageable, but the impact may cause something to come loose and collapse. From his arms, Rainbow whimpers and cringes, as she continues her silent weeping. Moore grits his teeth, angrily glaring downward. This was the last straw.
With haste, he leaps, landing solidly on his feet. Just as he feared though, the impact causes the roof to crumble, sending debris falling their way. Quickly, he runs, kicking open the door, which lead to the main lobby. He coughs up again, almost unable to stop, as does Rainbow Dash in her weakened state. Summoning the last of his adrenaline and strength, he rushed over to the door and kicked it down, where ponies and firefighters stood.
"Medic!" He shouted as he stumbled out of the building, nearly collapsing. Paramedics arrive and take Rainbow from his arms, who is now completely unconscious. "Get her..." Moore is interrupted once more from a coughing fit. Clearing his throat he continues "Get her immediate help... Now, GO!" He shouts. The medics place an oxygen mask on the mare and rush off to get to the hospital. Another group of them run to him and get him an oxygen mask, which he graciously and thankfully accepts.
Three hours after the fire...
Moore sat in the waiting room, awaiting any news on the condition of Rainbow Dash. Around him were the other five, who had heard of what had happened sometime in the last hour. Twilight continued to check on him, despite him telling her he was fine. The coughing fits didn't help, but she did loosen up slightly. Pinkie was her usual ecstatic self, tapping her hoof as she looked from the door to the floor several times. "Was she okay when you got her out?" Rarity asked. "I don't know, she was unconscious, and I couldn't tell if she was breathing." He said regretfully. Fluttershy placed a hoof on the man's shoulder. "You did the best you could." She said tenderly. Moore nodded.
A nurse came out to the lobby, smiling as she looked upon the group. Moore stood, as did the other ponies that surrounded him. He begged, pleaded in his mind that she was okay. "How is she Nurse Redheart?" Twilight asked. The nurse smiled. "She's stable, her breathing has returned to normal. We're going to keep her overnight just to be safe, but everything is looking fine other than a few broken bones." Moore let out a breath of relief, overjoyed that she was okay. The nurse turned to the Staff Sergeant and smiled. "She is taking visits. I recommend you all head on in." Pinkie charged through the door as the others calmly walked down the halls.
Rainbow lay on her hospital bed, oxygen mask on her snout, and a heart rate monitor to the left of her. She still had several cuts and burns along her body, but most were bandaged, and the ones that weren't were not severe. Moore walked over and crouched by the bed. Watching as her chest slowly went up and down. He hung his head, still feeling guilty for what had happened to her. "It wasn't your fault. She would have died if you hadn't come. You saved her." Twilight said with a smile. Moore looked back up to the rainbow colored pegasus and placed a hand on her head, stoking her mane. He frowned and brought his hand back to his side. "I still wish I could have gotten there sooner."
Rainbow slowly awakened to a short beeping noise, which repeated several times. Her eyes tried to adjust to the bright light of the room. "She's waking up!" She heard a familiar, hyper voice shout. She groaned as she sat up in her bed, rubbing her head. She rubbed her eyes and looked around her. Her friends stood lined around her bed. And sitting in a corner, smiling, was John. Her friends instantly asked how she was doing. "I'm a little dizzy, but I'll be okay." She said as she removed the mask from her snout. "Dashie I was SOOOO scared I thought you might never wake up! I would have been so..." "Pinkie." A deep voice said, probably from John. "Not now." Pinkie nodded and backed away. Rainbow looked at the bandages along her and frowned. "Don't worry, the nurse already tol' us that yer wings are fine. You'll be able to fly if that's what yer worried about." Applejack reassured her. She smiled and nodded.
Moore smiled as Rainbow chatted with her friends. He noticed that his thigh seemed to be vibrating. Looking down, he saw that his hand was shaking again. He sighed and held it to try and keep it steady, although it didn't seem to be working. The trauma of the fire and seeing all the injured and scared ponies must have triggered it. "John?" He heard Rainbow call. He lifted his head to look at the young mare. "Hm?" "Can I p;ease see you?" He nodded and walked over to her bed, crouching so he could be on the same eye level. "What is it?" He asked. Rainbow smiled as she placed her head back on her pillow. "I just wanted to thank you for saving me. Nopony's ever done something that extreme for me." Moore smiled and rubbed her mane. "Any time kiddo." Rainbow blinked and continued to smile. The nurse walked in and wished them a good afternoon. She informed the group that Rainbow Dash had broken one bone in her thigh, and had sprained one in her right foreleg, and to take it easy on those areas.
"Thank you ma'am." Moore said. She nodded and left the group alone again. "You know, you never did tell me your ages." Moore said with a edge of curiosity in his voice. "Well I'm 18." Rainbow said. "I'm 16!" Pinkie cried cheerfully. "17." Fluttershy said quietly. "I'm 21." Rarity said. "Applejack and I are both 19 years old." Twilight said as she pointed to her friend. Moore nodded. "I already told Twilight and Applejack how old I was, but the others, I'm 29." Pinkie let out a long gasp. "What?" Moore asked in a confused tone. "You're almost 30!" She shouted with a smile. Moore just stared at her with a blank expression. "Yeah... so?" "Nothing, I just think that's really interesting!" She shouted. The others laughed.
The group stayed and chatted with Rainbow until a doctor came in and said that visiting hours were over. Pinkie let out a long disappointed groan as she walked toward the door. Moore rubbed Rainbow's head one final time and said goodbye. The pegasus turned and closed her eyes to fall asleep. Moore couldn't help but smile. She looked so peaceful. He was glad that she was alive. Thanking the doctor, he walked out in the lobby and awaited the others. Fluttershy asked if he wanted any animals to keep as pets while he was here. "You six are company enough. Thank you though." Was his reply. She nodded and flew home. Twilight nudged his elbow and looked at him. "Come on, I still haven't gotten that studying you promised me." Moore chuckled and told her to lead the way.
"John?" Rarity called. He turned to her. "If you do not mind, tomorrow morning I would like to make you some more clothing. The ones you wear now are so... dirty. And that gear you are wearing is somewhat odd if you ask me." Moore chuckled and agreed to show up first thing in the morning. Rarity smiled and was on her way. AJ just said goodbye, asking if he would like to meet her relatives. He agreed that he would after he was done at the clothing shop with Rarity. Pinkie tried to speak, but he said, "No, I don't want a party, yes, I'll come to visit you at Sugar Cube Corner." The pink pony cheered and giggled, bouncing away happily. Moore smiled. He finally felt accepted in this new world.
Moore awoke in the large guest bed room. He stretched as he hopped out of the bed. He looked to his right, his M4 slanted against the wall, with his gear next to it. After putting it on, he looked in the lobby. Sure enough, Twilight still had head tucked between her hooves, sound asleep. She had grown so tired from asking him her questions about humanity, she just laid down and drifted of to sleep. He smiled. These ponies were so adorable when they were asleep. Opening the door to town, he noticed a large number of ponies walking around, more that the other two days he had been here. Maybe they were starting to feel more safe, possibly due to the more effective methods of the Royal Guards in dealing with the creatures.
Walking through town wasn't exactly a quiet experience, several ponies came up to him and thanked him for what he had done. His response was always the same, "It was my honor." Since there hadn't been any attacks last night, he didn't need to check on anyone. Rainbow would soon be released from the hospital, and he was going to check her out when possible. As he finally reached the door to the dress shop, he paused for a moment. "Am I really going inside somewhere I'll be used as a living mannequin?" He wondered. Clothing wasn't exactly his biggest concern at the moment, not to mention he hated trying on new clothes.
Sighing, he decided to just walk in. He was doing this as a favor for one of the girls, and had promised he would do it. There was no way he wouldn't honor that commitment. Just as he reached out to grab the door knob, he could hear shouting and the sound of breaking objects. A bit confused, he slowly opened the door. He instantly was overcome with confusion and shock. There was stuff knocked over all over the place, with several gems littering the ground. Due to the absolutely ridiculous amount, he guessed they must be pretty common in Equestria.
"Rarity?" He called as he gently shut the door. He heard another crashing, as well as who sounded like Rarity scolding someone. Cautiously, he looked around a large archway, calling for the white unicorn. "Rarity? I came first thing, just like you asked." He said trying to find the source of the noise. "Where the heck is she?" He wondered aloud. He turned just as a yellow blob of fur came flying at him. It knocked him to floor. "Sorry there mister! Didn't... Hey I know you! Yer that feller who's servin' as the new guardian right?" He heard. Muffling, he tried to tell the creature to get off of his face. Whatever it was, it listened and he took a deep inhale of fresh air. Looking forward, he saw a small, yellow coated filly with a red mane and a bow in it. Moore looked at her, eyebrow raised and gave a shrugging motion, non-verbally asking the filly what was going on.
"Me and my friends are having our sleepover, and we just got up, AND really hyper!" She shouted as she leaped into the air and practically danced in it. Moore held his head and groaned. He already had a headache. Just then, two more fillies, one pegasus, and one unicorn, came charging through the and also crashed into him. "Girls! Get off of him right now!" He heard an enraged voice shout. The fillies complied and got off of him. Moore took another deep breath. Bringing himself to his feet, he saw the orange pegasus ask the first one a question. "Who's he?" After rubbing his jaw and spitting a small amount of blood onto the carpet, Moore answered the question himself. "Staff Sergeant John Moore, 1st. Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment.' He said with a growl in his voice. The unicorn leapt into the air cheering, causing Moore to cover his ear. Looking over to Rarity, he gave confused look and motioned toward the young mares. Sighing, Rarity walked up to the girls and spoke to them.
"Girls, aren't you going to introduce yourselves?" She asked with an annoyed tone. The fillies instantly leapt to within inches of his face. "I'm Sweetie Bell, Rarity over there is my big sister!" She shouted at a deafening level. Moore covered his ear and rubbed it. Unfortunately, there were still two introductions to go. The pegasus leapt next to the unicorn in similar fashion, bringing her hoof to her chest while closing her eyes and smiling like a jack-o-lantern. "I'm Scootaloo, awesome fearless adventurer!" She shouts with a slightly less deafening effect. Finally, the little yellow Earth Pony introduced herself. "Ah'm Applebloom, my family owns Sweet Apple Acres." She said. "AND WE'RE THE CUTIE MARK CRUSADERS!" Moore could practically feel his ear drums shatter. Groaning in pain, he checked his jaw again, it was still sore, but it had stopped bleeding. "Okay, two things... First, you girls need to lower you voices... BADLY. Second, what in the bloody heck is a cutie mark?" The fillies gasped. "Ya don't know what a cutie mark is?" Applebloom asked as though he were some sort freak. "Uh, human?" He reminded. Rarity turned to the girls and scolded them. "Honestly you three, he has not had a moment of peace until now, do you really think he would be caught up on how we are?" The fillies hung their heads, but almost instantly perked up. Sweetie Bell rushed up to Moore and bounced all around him.
"A cutie mark is a mark on your flank that symbolizes your special talent!" Scootaloo ran right up behind her, beginning her own rant. "We're on a mission to find them at all costs!" Unsurprisingly, Applebloom came up with her own mini speech. "And we're doing it together!" Moore growled in frustration as he grabbed a glass and filled it with water. Just as he drank, one of the fillies shouted into his ear. "What's your cutie mark?" Moore spit and nearly choked on the water, inhaling deeply. He turned and looked angrily at the young girls. Taking a deep breath, he calmed himself and said; "Don't have one." They all gasped again. "Why? Have you not found your special talent?" Sweetie Bell asked. Moore shook his head and sat down. "That's not why, humans don't have cutie marks. They find what their special at, but they don't have something magically appear on their rump." He said as he took a sip of the water, actually managing to get it down this time. Applebloom gasped and turned to the others, whispering something to them. They instantly got grins on their faces, and stared fiendishly at him. Moore just stared at them blankly. "What?" He asked. In unison, they all shouted; "CRUSADER WRESTLERS!" The fillies got up on their hind legs and prepared to leap, fortunately, Moore caught on to what was happening, and stepped up from his chair. "Trust me, you don't want to do this." The fillies ignored his warning and sprung at him.
"Girls!" Rarity shouted, but it was too late, for them. Moore leaped to the side, causing Scootaloo to crash into the sink. Recuperating, he caught Applebloom and put her into a half-nelson, taking her down to the ground and dropping her, while dodging a leap from Sweetie Bell. Turning, he caught the young unicorn's leg and dangled her in front of his face smiling. She stared wide eyed as she tried to gather on what was happening. "You want to keep trying or do you get the idea?" He asked with a smug grin. Sweetie Bell looked around the room nervously. Moore chuckled and gently set her down on the ground. Walking over to Scootaloo, he got hr up to her feet and asked if she was alright. She nodded, although her eyes, which were literally spiraling, said a different story. Rarity came up to the three girls. Sighing, she said. "I was afraid this would happen. John would you mind waiting here for a minute?" Moore nodded as Rarity told the girls to pack up. As they left, Moore looked around the shop, and decided to clean it up a bit before Rarity got back. It was the least he could do.
"Is this... really... necessary?" Moore said with gritted teeth and clenched eyes. Rarity squeezed the measuring tape tighter around his gut, cutting off more air to his lungs. "Yes John! I need exact measurements! Now please hold still!" She said as she tightened the tape again. Moore let out a groan of pain, this was starting to cause pain to his gut. "Ah! There we go!" Rarity said as she removed the measuring tool. Moore took a deep breath and held his gut, feeling as though a snake had just released it's grip on him. Being shot was more enjoyable than this. Moore went over to put his shit back on, but was stopped by the white unicorn once more. "Not just yet John! I need measurements for your neck!" "Oh dear Lord..." Rarity rolled her eyes and talked slowly. "Don't worry, I won't have to pull as tightly this time." Moore gave a sigh as he walked back over. "Just be quick with it alright? This is not how I want to spend my morning." He said as Rarity gently took the tape once again and began to check on the size of his neck. Moore gave a quick choking noise as it grew tighter, unable to speak. "Oh man up! You want to fit in now don... uh... nevermind." She said. He rolled my eyes and just waited for it to end.
After what felt like hours, she finally released the tape and told him he was free to put his "garments" back on. Moore gave a sigh of relief, overjoyed to be done with the torturous occasion. "Remember, casual. I just want stuff for when I'm off duty. Nothing fancy." He said as he slipped his shirt over his bare chest. Rarity was about to complain, but stopped when Moore glared at her, which caused her to nervously nod. "Of course John, but when the Grand Galloping Gala arrives, you simply must allow me to make you a tuxedo!" She said with a smile. Moore cocked his head to one side. "The what?" He asked as he slipped his kevlar back over his chest. She put on red glasses he hadn't seen before and watched as he placed his gear back around him. "It's a most joyous occasion, it didn't go that well last year, but I am sure it will be better this year. Given that it can be held." Moore rolled his eyes as he put his helmet on and patted it. "I think I'll pass. Parties aren't really my thing. Come to think of it, social gatherings aren't my thing." He said as he checked his rifle, making sure it had a loaded clip.
"Please? Just think about it?" She asked. Moore was about to shout no again, but then he saw her face. Big, pleading eyes with a quivering lip to go with it. Moore sighed, feeling more relaxed at the sight of such an adorable face. "Fine. If this Gala thing does happen, you can make me a tux." Rarity gave a quick cheer and got to work on his new clothes. Moore remembered he had promised Applejack to stop by and visit as well, so he asked if he was okay to leave. "Sure darling, I work better when alone anyway." She said as she used her magic to begin stitching. Moore nodded and walked down the steps, out to the streets below. There was a small pat on his leg, and he looked down. He noticed a small, light red filly who he had rescued in his first battle. "Excuse me mister, I just.. I um... Wanted to thank you for saving me." She said with a touch of nervousness in her voice. Moore smiled and rubbed the young girl's head. "Of course, it was my pleasure." He said. "Honeycomb!" He heard. The filly turned, crying; "I'll be right there mom!" She turned and smiled, thanking Moore one last time before leaving. Moore chuckled.
Sweet Apple Acres...
Moore marveled at the large expansion of the apple orchard he walked through. He had never seen so many in his life. His stomach growled, and he brought his hand to it. How long had it been since he had last eaten? Checking a pouch on his back, he pulled out the last bit of food that he had when he awoke in the forest. Popping it into his mouth he saw Applejack kicking some trees, with apples falling out of them into baskets below. The young mare looked to her right and saw him, waving. Moore waved back as he swallowed. "Howdy there John! Run a little long with Rarity?" She asked. Moore thought back to he experience, and just nodded his head with an annoyed look. AJ chuckled and led him to her home. "I'm really excited to introduce you to mah family, we'll start with my big brother, Big Macintosh." Moore chuckled at slight joke he got out of that. "What?" AJ asked. Moore just shook his head.
Pulling a large cart was a big, red stallion with a piece of wheat in his mouth. "Big Macintosh, I have someone for you ta' meet." AJ said as they came close. The large horse turned to see his sister and Moore. The stallion just smiled and said a single word; "Howdy." Moore nodded and introduced himself. "Well come on Big Macintosh." the large pony rolled his eyes with a smile. "Nice ta meet'cha." He said. "Likewise." Moore said with a smile himself. There was silence for a few minutes before AJ decided she had had enough. The young mare introduced the other members of her family, one named Granny Smith (another interesting pun) and Applebloom, whom he had already met. Moore looked to the sky and saw the sun beat down on the orchard, and asked AJ if she wanted any help on the farm, since he didn't have anything else to really do. "Well sure John, we need all the help we can get, we just reopened, and are really far bahind on where we should be."
After a couple of hours of kicking the trees and carrying back several baskets, Moore was parched. Applejack handed him a bucket of water, which he graciously accepted. He nearly drank half the bucket before AJ told him to slow down. "Sorry, just really thirsty." He said as he returned the bucket and gave the another tree another quick kick. Apples fell and filled the baskets as sweat dripped down the Staff Sergeant's face. He took the six baskets and carried the heavy load back to the barn, exhaling as he went. After a few more hours, Applejack said they could take a break, but Moore said that he needed to head back into town. AJ understood and gave him one last apple before leaving. "For the road." She said with a wink. Moore smiled and bit into the apple.
Moore stopped by pinkie's place (worst migraine ever) and nearly vomited from all the sweets she asked him to try. "If I ever see another cupcake in my life..." He said as he stumbled away from the shop. After that, he stopped by Fluttershy's place to check on her, with her home being so close to the forest. He was about to leave when she asked him a question. "What's your family like?" He paused and stared at the ground. The same question had been asked by Twilight last night, and it hadn't gotten any easier to answer. "Uh..." He said as he looked down in sorrow. "Dead." He said. Sprinting, he ran faster and faster to avoid any more memories of his parent's untimely death...
Moore ran back to the library, shutting the door behind him. Panting, he looked outside, no one had seen him. He sighed and slumped against the wall. Reaching into his pocket, he grabbed the picture of him and his parents at his 16th birthday. He was in the middle, smiling, as his mother hugged him, with his father placing his arm around the both of them. He smiled, one of the last few good memories he had left of them. "John?" He heard. Looking up, he sees Twilight walking up to him, concerned. Placing the picture back, he quickly stood, at a loss for words. "John, what's the matter?" She asked again. Moore just tried to walk away, but she teleported in front of him. "John?" She asked again. Moore sighed as he sat down in a chair, placing his palm to his forehead. "It's... just some bad memories..." He said as he rubbed his forehead. Twilight placed her hoofs tenderly on his lap, looking up into his hurting eyes. "Please... you can tell me." She said with her own eyes pleading.
Moore sighed. "Remember last night, how I told you about 9/11? The time terrorists attacked my home country?" The mare nodded, showing understanding. She backed away as Moore brought his second hand to his head, bitterly reliving that day... "Well... my parents were in the building when it happened." He said, sorrow and pain in his voice. Twilight gasped quietly and brought her hoof to her mouth. Moore looked up, noticing that she had almost the exact same pain he did. Probably because she was sorry for him. Pity, another thing he was sick of. "When firefighters arrived, and started looking for survivors, they found my mom... blown in two..." Moore nearly collapsed to the ground, feeling tears gush out of his eyes, and he made soft sobbing noises. Twilight held him up, tears softly falling from her own eyes. Sniffing, Moore continued. "They did manage to find my dad, and they sent him to a hospital. I met him there when I could. They did the best they could but..."
Twilight watched as he once again almost broke down, composing himself and keeping his tears back, barely. Continuing, his voice once again trembled. "He passed away two days later... I couldn't leave his side for a whole hour... I just couldn't believe they were both gone...I was only 18 years old... and I had no parents..." John finally lost it and sobbed bitterly, quietly, but bitterly. Twilight stood there in shock. He had really lost both his mom and his dad? She couldn't imagine that happening to her, but was fearful that it may be true, she still hadn't seen them. Wiping away a few tears, she walked over and hugged the man. "I'm so sorry... I can't imagine what kind of pain you've been through..." He stopped crying, and just let Twilight hug him for a while. Sniffling, he turned, wiping away his last few tears.
Moore looked back down at Twilight, who was still standing there, looking up at him. "I vowed that day, I would become a member of the Army. And that as long as I had something to say about it, no one, would die at the hands of those kind of men." He said, fire and steadiness returning to his voice. "For them... For all the families who went through what I had..." He said. Twilight smiled. "You're doing a really good job of it. They would be proud." She said, bringing the man to his feet. Moore collected himself and grabbed his rifle. Smiling, he breathed a sigh of relief. "It feels good to get that off my chest after hiding it for so long." He said. Twilight chuckled. "Traumatic events usually aren't very good to keep locked away." She said with a matter of fact voice. "Hippie." Moore said jokingly. Twilight cocked her head to the side in confusion. "Oh right, there were never any hippies here." Moore thought to himself. Chuckling, he told her to forget about it.
Walking back outside, Moore looked around the (currently) peaceful town. He thought about what had been going on here, and could only think of 9/11. At peace for a long time, and suddenly attacked, just like America was at the time. Maybe the worlds weren't so different after all. "John!" He heard a quiet voice call. Turning, he saw what he figured the source was, Fluttershy. "Yes?" Fluttershy stopped in front of him, appearing sad. "I.. I just wanted to say sorry..." She said as she kicked a rock gently. Moore kneeled down and stared at her with caring eyes. "For what?" He asked. The pegasus frowned and had guilt in her eyes. "For making... making you sad and... and upset..." She said, growing quieter by the second. Moore smiled and moved a piece of her mane that was blocking her left eye. "Hey, don't worry about it. I'm just sorry I left like that." He placed a hand on her hoof and smiled. "Can you forgive me?" He asked. Fluttershy gave him her signature shy, adorable smile. "Of course I can." She said. Moore stood and rubbed her mane. "If you're still curious, I'll gladly tell you." Fluttershy nodded, Moore was glad she was back to her old self again.
Moving to the side of the road, Moore described his parents, before they had passed. His mom had been caring, gentle, shy, and loved animals. Moore smiled, chuckling at the realization that hit him. "You remind me of her. You are almost exactly like her." Fluttershy blushed. "As for my dad, I never met a better soldier in all my life. He served in the Rangers, just like I do now. He inspired me to become one. He served for 28 years before retiring. I was 14 at the time, said he did it so he could spend more time with us, and he was out of energy." Moore chuckled. Just like his dad to make a joke. Fluttershy smiled and nodded. Almost instantly followed by a frown. Moore looked at her, concerned. "What is it?" He asked. Fluttershy looked to him and the ground several times before asking. "What happened to them?" She asked, sadness evident in her voice. Moore sighed, once again remembering the events of that day. "They uh... were killed by... some really bad people. They attacked a large building, killing hundreds, if not more innocent people. My parents included." Fluttershy gasped. Moore shook his head. "It's not a day I like to remember." Looking back up, he smiled again. "Being here with you girls has made it easier." Fluttershy once again returned her smile. "I know they would be proud of you." She said. Moore smiled.
Moore walked over to Fluttershy's cottage again. There was some work that she needed help with. Usually she would just ask someone in town, but he was right there, so why not? Besides, Moore still felt like he owed her for leaving so suddenly. "So what is it you need me to do?" He asked. Fluttershy pointed at some large logs. "A storm that the Chaos Bringers caused brought those trees down on the poor bunnies home. I tried lifting it by myself, but I couldn't do it." She said sheepishly. Moore chuckled and told her he would get it done.
He lifted the first log onto his back as Fluttershy attended to various other animals around her home. Several had fled the area once the trees had come down, but most had just cowered away in fear. Hiding in various areas around the cottage. So while Moore worked to get the logs off of the homes of the innocent animals, Fluttershy would be rounding up the animals themselves. Fine by him, he had needed some weight lifting anyway. With a growl, he brought took the log and placed it away from the home of the young mare. Wiping his forehead, he sighed and looked around. Several other trees polluted the landscape, fallen over and destroying all the hard work Fluttershy had put into this.
For some reason, he heard a large thud. Confused, he walked over to the cottage and called her name. "Fluttershy? You okay?" He asked. "We been lookin for you little mare..." He heard in a grizzly, threatening tone. "Wh... What do you want from me?" Moore sped up and looked around the cottage. This had to come from somewhere. He heard another thud and a whimper. "We do the talking stupid pony!" There was a cackling and another thud, sounding like a beating. "Beating Fluttershy? Whoever these guys were, they were dead... " Moore thought to himself. Peaking around the southern corner of the house, he saw what looked like dogs, one holding the timid, terrified pegasus, while others stood and watched.
"HEY! Put her down!" Moore shouted. The dogs turned and stared at him. Moore rose his rifle, once again shouting his demand. "I SAID PUT HER DOWN!" His finger was so itchy, it might as well of had chicken pox. The dogs cackled once more, and just to anger him, hit Fluttershy, right across the face. Outraged, Moore pulled the trigger and pumped lead into the despicable creatures. That was when something from behind hit him. Turning, he took his knife and stabbed it, another dog like creature.
This did no good however, as he was piled on by several other dogs, each slamming him or slashing him with their claws. Moore threw his arms out and hit two square in the jaws. The whimpered and backed away as he kicked the final two, sending them away as well. "Put the pony in a sack! We gotta get outta here!" "SHE'S NOT GOING ANYWHERE!" Moore shouted as he stabbed another dog. There was another slashing wound across his back, taking him to his knees, groaning in pain. Another kicked him in his face, forcing him completely to the ground. "John! Jo-" Fluttershy screamed as she was stuffed into a burlap sack. A dog took a stick and slammed it down on the bag, silencing and rendering the pegasus unable to move. Moore exploded with anger, and took out his Berretta, firing his clip into each dog. Only for them to be replaced by at least twice as many more. He was kicked back, this time out of breath.
"What do we do with this thing?" A dog asked as it kicked him again. Moore groaned in agony. A large dog came up, observing him. He had a devilish smile. "He is of no use, except..." Cackling like a mad man, he threw his arms in the air, proclaiming that he was a genius. "Knock him unconscious! Leave him here bloody and scarred! That'll show the ponies the Chaos Bringers are nothing to mess with!" What? These things were allied with the Chaos Bringers? But why? How could they... Moore was unable to finish his thoughts as the dogs beat him senseless.
Blood spewed from the soldier's mouth, coughing up the sticky red fluid. "Keep hittin' im'!" He heard, followed by another cackling. A dog landed a blow to his gut, causing more blood to come out of his mouth. After about five or so minutes of this, the dogs backed off, cackling with an evil tone. Groaning in pain, Moore tried to get to his feet, but was kicked back down immediately. "So long creature, don't worry, the little one's death will be ALL but quick..." Moore spit blood into the dog's face, cursing at him. The dog wiped the liquid from his face, and the last thing Moore saw before blacking out was a foot falling on his face...
A/N This chapter contains dramatic, frightening, and graphic material that may be disturbing to some readers. Reader Discretion is advised.
"He's waking up..." "Do ya' think he's alright?" Moore could barely hear the voices as the black slowly, and blurrily formed a picture. "John?" A voice asked. Moore groaned in pain, recalling the events that felt like only moments ago. "Fluttershy... they... they took her..." He whispered at an inaudible volume. "Shh, easy John, you'll be alright." The voice said, sounding more and more like Twilight. Moore faded to black for a second, and a blurry room came to focus. Over him, a blob of purple, orange, light blue, white and pink stood. "John? Darling? Are you alright?" He heard. "She... she... She needs... us..." He said, barely audible, out of breath. Once again his vision faded. When it returned, his strength did as well. Looming over him was Twilight, Rainbow, Pinkie, Rarity, and Applejack. Looking to down, he sees that he still has his dark green shirt, and his camo pants. Moore began to panic, and breathes heavily. "Fluttershy?" He nearly shouts. Twilight places a hoof on his chest, trying to calm him. "Get off of me!" He shouts as he tires to get up. He is connected to wires that cause movement to be difficult. "John relax, everything's fine." Applejack says with a calm voice.
"Shut up! They took her! I need to go!" He shouts as he rips the tubes out of his arm. A machine next to him gives one long continuous beep as he rips something else away. "John stop! You need your rest!" Rarity says, a slight hint of panic in her voice. "NO!" Moore shouts as he crawls out of the bed and falls to the floor. "I have to save her!" Getting to his feet, he tries to run out of the door, but collapses to the ground. Giving a quick shout of pain, he covers his gut and rolls to his side. "SON OF A..." He says through grit teeth. He had never experienced so much pain. The mares rushed over to him and try to talk to him. "John calm down! What's going on?" Rainbow asks. With an angry glare, Moore feels a tear fall from his eye. "Fluttershy... they took her..." He says as he again tries to stand. He groans in pain again and nearly falls again, but is caught by the mares. "Who? Who took her?" Twilight asks. Moore turns to the young unicorn. Fear, concern, sorrow, and panic all in one stare. "Dogs..." He said through grit teeth. "The dogs... they took her..."
"Hey... MULE! Wake up!" Fluttershy gave a slight groan as her eyes opened. She felt so nauseous, and dizzy. She moaned as she tried to grab hold of reality. "WAKE UP!" She heard again as she was slapped. She whimpered and shut her eyes, not wanting to see what might lie before her. "Shock her!" In an instant, Fluttershy felt hundreds of volts shoot throughout her body, causing her to scream in pain. "Please..." She cried as tears fell from her eyes. She just wanted the pain to end. The electricity ceases to run as her head falls, causing her to stare at the ground. "Good... you're awake..." She hears a sly, snake like voice say. Trembling, she looks up and opens one eye. In front of her are diamond dogs, seven standing around her, and ten more backed away. The room had two tables on either side, candles on each one. On them, several tools that usually are used for cutting vegetables. Besides them, spikes, with ponies having spears stuck through their rears, all the way through to their heads. Blood dried on the shafts of the spear and it's tip. Confused and frightened, she tries to move her foreleg, but is stopped after a few centimeters.
Looking up, she sees that she has been strapped to a group of wooden planks. Breathing heavily, she struggles to move, whimpering as she goes. "No use with that little girly..." A dog says with a chuckle. Cringing as much as the planks allow she stares into the demonic eyes of the dog. "What... What do you want from me...?" She asks as she tries to adjust her hoof. The dog chuckles. "An interesting question really..." He says slyly. "You know of the Chaos Bringers, correct?" Fluttershy gulps as sweat begins to fall from her forehead. These dogs knew about the Chaos Bringers? How? "Y...Yes..." She answered with a trembling voice. The apparent leader of the dogs gives a satisfactory sigh, walking back to the others. "Do you know... why they hunt you?" He asks, once again giving his deranged chuckle. Fluttershy looks to her right foreleg, which has also been restrained. Fearfully, she shakes her head no. "Your blood, it's their food source..." He said evilly. Her eyes grow wide. "O...Our blood?" She asks. The dog nods. "When they first arrived, all they did was slaughter, not taking anything but what they could." He said as he walked to her side, digging a nail into her flank, right next to her cutie mark. She whimpers.
"Now, we were able to convince them to ally themselves with us... We promised them more blood, in exchange for diamonds... and other jewels." He said as he pushed deeper and deeper into her thigh. Fluttershy felt the intense burn as she softly wept. The dog smiled. "And everyone knows the best way to get blood..." Forcefully, he shoves his nail completely into her flank, causing her to give a quiet shout of pain. The dog came to her ear, teeth dripping saliva. "Slowly... by torture..." He said fiendishly. He pulled his claw out of the pegasus, and she released a exhale, feeling like a anvil had just been lifted from her back. Even so, blood slowly poured out of the wound, staining her fur and causing her thigh to burn intensely. The dog inspected her, as though she were a simple piece meat, waiting to be sliced, diced, and processed. "Hmmm..." He said in thought. Looking back to the wound in her flank, his tongue fell from his mouth, and he groaned in pleasure. "Cut off the marks, that'll surely bring blood from her..." He said, licking his lips. The dogs chuckled and moved closer. Fluttershy closed her eyes, crying as she began to tremble in fear. "John... please be okay..." She whispered to herself.
Back in Ponyville...
Moore slipped on his kevlar, placed a magazine into M4 and Berretta. "John..." "Save the chatter... plenty of time for that when Fluttershy is home safe in bed." He said before Twilight could voice her opinion. Moore put on his helmet and threw open the door. "John, you didn't see yourself when those dogs were done with you..." Twilight said, sadness in her voice. Moore growled, and quickly turned to the unicorn. "Does it matter? She'll be ten times worse if we don't get there in time!" He shouts. Twilight walks up to him and places a hoof on his hand. "John... we need a plan." "THERE'S NO TIME FOR THAT! WE ARE OUT OF OPTIONS! WE NEED TO SAVE HER NOW!" Moore shouts at a deafening level. Twilight rears back, appearing hurt. "She's my friend too John..." She says as her voice shakes, and tears fall from her eyes. Moore slowly loosens his face, dropping his anger. Sighing, he crouches down.
"Listen to me... all of you..." He says. The other mares turn and face him. In Pinkie's face, determination. Rarity's, concern. Applejack's, anger. Rainbow's, courage. Twilight's... sadness. Thinking of his own face, he wondered what it portrayed. "Leadership." Was the only word that came to mind. "I know you're scared, all of you. Not for yourselves, Fluttershy. I am too." Rising, he packs the two mags that Twilight had managed to recreate, thanks to her magic. "There's a mare out there who needs us. If any of you want to opt out... Do it now." He said, pulling his Beretta's top back. Hearing the clip smack back into place, the mares raise their heads... and step forward. Smiling, Moore turns and faces the outside. "Please..." He hears a young filly say. Turning, he sees it's source. A small, light red pegasus, male by the looks of it. "Save her." He says. Moore nods and turns to Twilight. "Have you locked on yet?" He asks. Twilight closes her eyes and her horn glows purple. After a few seconds, she opens her eyes. "That direction, there's a hold that will lead to the dog's den. If we run we can make in 20 minutes at most." Moore nods. "Alright troops... LET'S MOVE OUT!" He shouts as he takes off sprinting. "Hold on Fluttershy... we're coming..." He thinks to himself.
Elsewhere... 4 minutes later...
"No, please..." Fluttershy begged as the dogs continually circled their claws around her thighs, digging and cutting deeper as seconds rolled by. She couldn't stop panting, or crying. "Does it hurt mule? Does it make you want your mommy?" A dog said mockingly, causing the others to laugh hysterically. Fluttershy threw her head down. "Happy place... Happy place..." She thought to herself, wincing at every excruciating twist of a claw. "Wait!" She hears one cry. The dogs back off, and Fluttershy finds the strength to open her eyes, and looks to her flanks.
Her cutie marks are cut halfway off, flopping as the other half tries desperately to clutch to her thighs. She clenches her teeth and lays her head back on the planks, letting more tears come. With an insane cackling, the lead dog come to one side, grabbing the loose part of her cutie marks. "Ta ta..." He says in a girlish tone as he yanks the mark off of her. Fluttershy gives a bloody murder scream, her chest, stomach, and part of her back legs lifting from the planks. Laughing manically, the dog places a bucket under her as blood drips from her exposed flank and drips into it. He walks over to the other side, watching as the mare breathes heavily, trying to cope with the intense pain. Licking the bare piece of flesh, he discards it to the side, onto a table that had been set there. With a grin, he grips the other cutie mark and whispers to her; "Bye bye!" She grips her teeth and closes her eyes, waiting for the inevitable. The rip nearly causes her to scream again, but she manages to suppress it.
The dog waves the piece of flesh around, and places another bucket as blood slowly drips form that leg as well. "Wasn't that fun?" He says fiendishly as he brings his paws together. Fluttershy doesn't respond, she's too busy crying. The dog sees this, laughs, and punches her in the face again. The yellow pegasus spits blood from her mouth and makes a choking noise. The dog slams his fist into her gut, causing her hit her head on the back of the planks. "You wanna answer me now... MULE?" He shouts with a smile. Fluttershy opens her eyes, and shakes her head. The dog falls back from her, and looks over her once more. "Hmmm..." He says in thought again. He takes a wing, and stretches it out, making it flap a few times. Taking a nail, he pushes it slightly into a feather, and cuts it loose. Grabbing it out of the air, he looks from it to Fluttershy's wing, and back to the feather. "I want to go home..." Fluttershy thinks to herself. She closes her eyes and thinks about John, whom she had last seen being beaten by the dogs, bloodied, his gut letting it flow like a waterfall. "Please be safe John... Please..." She says between her tears. "John?" A dog asks. "Is that the creature we left for dead back there?" Fluttershy gasps, resulting in another slap from the lead dog. "Quiet mule!" He shouts. Overcome with shock and trauma, the young mare blacks out. The dog notices this and rolls his eyes. "Another weak one..." He thinks. Walking away, he tosses the feather he had taken, which lands in on the table. "Wait until she wakes up, then cut off the wings. We'll see what I feel like doing after that."
16 Minutes Later...
Moore skids to a halt, breathing slightly heavily as the girls collapsed to the ground from exhaustion. Other than Rainbow Dash, who had been flying ahead. In front of them lie a mass gathering of holes. Question was, which would lead them to Fluttershy? "Well?" He asks as he turns to Twilight. Panting, she rises to her feet, looks around. She squints, trying to distinguish which one could be right. "Uh... I don't know..." She says, out of breath. Just then, they hear a cry of pain, very loud. Moore quickly looks around. Where had it come from? "Did anyone hear which way it came from?" He shouts as he looks down a hole, crying Fluttershy's name. Another scream sounds, and he looks to his right. A hole appears to have been freshly dug, and he moves around a pile of dirt. "Is that it?" He hears Applejack ask, almost instantly refreshed. Moore sees a red fluid, and tastes it, instantly spitting it out. Bitter, disgusting. "Euh, blood..." He says as he stands. "This is it." Staring down into the hole, just black nothingness. The mares walk up next to him, staring into the hole. "This where we'll find her." Rainbow says as she spits into the dirt. Taking the newly made mud, she rubs some under her eyes, and gives a growl. "Well... What are we waiting for?" Moore asks as he leaps. "Let's go!"
Down the Hole...
Fluttershy screams again as the dogs cut into her wings. She feels the bones snap, creating a distinct popping noise. The dogs just continue to laugh like lunatics. "That's it! Bleed you worthless horse! Bleed!" The leader shouts. More blood falls from the areas the wings are being torn, causing Fluttershy constant pain. The leader once again punches her face telling her to shut up. "Hey mule, KNIFE!" A dog shouts as it drives a knife into her wing. She lets out another cry, hanging her head. "I want to go home..." She says as her tears fall. The leader once again punches her, now in her gut. Coughing up blood, she stares sadly as she feels one wing fall to the ground. Blood pours from the large opening, and she cringes. "One down!" A dog shouts. Fluttershy can't deal with this pain much longer. Her vision fades black, flashing between blurs and regular vision. "Aw... She's falling asleep! Rip the last wing off!" The dog shouts. Fluttershy hears a ripping noise, and screams as her body erupts into flames.
Moore busts down the door, raising his rifle. "Get down on the ground!" He shouts at the surprised dog. The dogs stare, as one holds one of Fluttershy's wings. Moore grits his teeth. "I SAID GET DOWN ON THE GROUND!" He shouts. The dogs begin to laugh softly. Then hysterically. "Look! It's mister hero again! Here to save the..." The dog is cut short by the bullets of Moore's rifle. The dogs try to surround him, but are ambushed themselves by the other mares. Moore kicks a dog to the ground and shoots it. Looking around, the mares have successfully put down their dogs. Sighing, he walks over to a group of planks, toward a non moving Fluttershy. "Fluttershy?" He asks quietly. No response. He places his hand to her cheek and rubs it with his thumb as the other mares get closer. "Fluttershy?" He asks again, this time with a shaky voice. A tear falls from his eye as he comes to a horrifying idea. "Were we too late?" Just then, the young pegasus gives a whimper. Moore's heart bounces, and he turns to the others. "She's alive!" He shouts. Quickly taking his knife, he cuts at the leather straps that are holding her to the pieces of wood.
The young mare opens her eyes slightly, breathing slow, heavy breaths. She squints as she observes the Staff Sergeant cutting the leather. "John?" She asks weakly. Moore finishes the last strap and catches her as she falls. Moore places his hand on the back of her head, resting her head against his shoulder. "It's okay Fluttershy... you're gonna be alright." He says as he rubs her mane. Moore looks around the room, seeing her cutie marks, and her wings. "Grab those... we'll need them." He says as he turns Fluttershy's mane away from her face. Her face is bruised slightly, but mostly untouched. She gives a small smile as her eyes flutter weakly. "You came for me..." She says. "Of course I did..." Moore says as a tear leaves his eye. The other mares join around, crying at the discovery of their friend alive.
22 Minutes Later..
"Out of the way!" Moore shouts as he rushes past the ponies. He looked down to the paralyzed pegasus in his arms, who is struggling to breathe. "Hurry!" He shouts to the following mares. "We're trying!" Rainbow shouts as she carry's her friend's wing in a large basket they had found in the caves. Ponies everywhere stare in horror on the young mare, who is giving out very weak signs of life. "Come on stay with me..." Moore says, desperate to hold back tears. His legs were burning, his muscles ached, and he was exhausted. But he would not stop. The doors to the hospital flew open as the doctors looked to him, then the injured pegasus in his arms. "Hurry! Do something!" Moore shouts in desperation at the medical staff. Bringing out a bed, Moore gently places the now trembling pegasus on the soft mattress, eyes seemingly focused on the far wall. The doctors take her away, and the others try to follow, only to be stopped by other doctors. "Let us through!" Moore shouts in anger. He tries to shove them away, but he's too tired. He hears Pinkie cry out for her friend, reaching her hoof out as though to grab her. The others also try breaking through, their own wetworks in tow. Just before the doctors turn away, Moore hears the doctors shouting; "Her body's gone into shock! We need another team down here STAT!"
18 Hours Later...
Moore kept his hands folded, begging that she was alright. He had been this way for two whole hours, and the mares were faring no better. How could they? Fluttershy had just been tortured, and they weren't there to help her. Nurse Redheart walked out of a door next to the front desk, looking somewhat troubled. Moore saw her and stood. "How is she?" He asked. Twilight was the first to notice, and also rose to her hooves. The nurse scratched the back of her head, sighing. "Well... She's stable... and we were able to stick her cutie marks back on." Moore would have sighed in relief, but one thing was still unanswered. "And... her wings?" He asked nervously. Nurse Redheart looked to the ground. Rainbow walked up to the nurse. "Please... just tell us." She said with a quake in her voice. The nurse looked around the room, the eyes of the five mares and one man burned into her soul. "Well... They're not looking good. One was a clean cut, allowing for easy re-attachment. But one was torn off violently, the result was a very complicated wound." Moore bit the bottom of his lip. "Meaning...?" He asked. "We can save them, but we'll have to make very careful measurements. It'll take two weeks at the very least to get them back, until then, she'll feel extreme pain if that area is aggravated."
Twilight looked with concern to John. He was closing his eyes, and had his arm to his mouth. He looked like he was going to cry. "John?" She asked with a shaky voice. He sniffed, placed his hands on his hips and looked at the ground. "Uh... I-I'm fine." He says, with a somewhat forced strong accent. "Thank you nurse." He said. Nurse Redheart also seemed to notice something was wrong, because she asked if there was anything she could do. "No, no I'm fine. Don't worry about me." He said as he walked to the front desk and folded his arms, placing them on the countertop. The nurse sighed and went back through the door. Twilight walked up to John, who picked up a vase and observed it's patterns. Putting it back down, he sighed. "DANG IT!" He suddenly shouts as he throws the vase against the wall.
Moore exploded with fury. He kicked over an empty wheelchair, afterwards stomping on it, causing serious damage. "It should have been me! IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ME!" He shouts as he punches a wall, leaving his fist bruised, and the wall slightly cracked. He cursed as he kicked the desk, before Twilight and the others ran over and held him back. "John stop!" Rainbow shouts as she holds back his fists. "GET OFF ME!" He shouts as he throws the girls all over the room. Turning back to the desk, he takes his knife to stab it, but pauses.
Twilight looks with fear upon the man, who has gone into a full rage frenzy. At least, he had. John drops his knife and collapses to the ground. "Why her..." She hears him whisper in a tearful voice. Standing, she watches as John falls to his hands. "No no no no... why her..." He says again, this time the grief, pain, and sorrow booming in his voice. Twilight walks over to the Staff Sergeant, who is shedding tears, although not sobbing. "It should have been me Twi..." He says as she comes closer. "It should have been me..." Twilight places a hoof on his shoulder, and he places his hand on top of it. "I should have been a better guardian..." Twilight sniffs, what was he saying? He was an amazing guardian. In just a few days, he had already saved her, and three of her best friends. "You are a good guardian dear..." She hears as Rarity walks up to them. "Yeah... if not for you... none of us would be here... you call that a bad guardian?" Rainbow asks as she flies next to the man.
Moore rises back to his knees, wiping tears from his face. Looking around, he sees what he did not expect. Caring, loving, and accepting eyes of the five mares around him. He looks back down. "But... I failed you guys..." Twilight shakes her head. "No, you are our savior John..." The young unicorn says. Sniffing, he smiles as he stands to his feet. "Well, I can definitely say one thing." He says, turning to the mares. "What's that sugarcube?" Applejack asks. Moore smiles as he rubs Twilight's mane. "You guys are the best team a Ranger could ask for." Pinkie screams for joy and leaps onto him, forcing him into a hug. Soon enough, the other mares join them, forming a large group hug. Smiling, Twilight voices the words on all of their minds. "And you're the best friend a mare could ask for." Nurse Redheart walks into the room smiling.
"She has requested to see you all."
Moore stood at the door, unsure of whether to move in or not. Was he ready to see her in that condition? Sighing, he backed away a little. "John, come on." Rainbow said with enthusiasm. Moore looked to the pegasus, full of energy and ready to go. Moore nodded and gently pushed open the door. There, lying on the bed, was Fluttershy. Backed turned, rising and falling slowly in sync with her breathing. "Shhh..." Moore gently shut the door, not wanting to wake her. "I'm already awake." She whispers as she turns to them, smiling. "Hi." She says, still giving the heartwarming smile. Moore smiles and walks over. "How ya' feelin' there sugarcube?" Applejack asks as she places a hoof on Fluttershy's. Fluttershy looks to her midsection, which has been bandaged and contains two large blood marks where her wings should be. "It... It still hurts a little... but I'll be okay." She said as she adjusted her head on the pillow. Smiling, Rainbow walked up to her and spoke. 'You really scared us Fluttershy, we thought you weren't going to make it." Fluttershy gives a quick giggle, and breathes slowly. "I'm still here." She said, which caused the others to chuckle.
Moore once again felt his hand shake, and sighed as he realized what was going on. "Stupid disorder..." He said as he took his hand and held it. The mares seemed to notice this and stared with concern. Looking down, Moore tried to turn their attention away. "It's just a shaky hand, don't worry." The mares seemed unsure, but nodded anyway. "So I guess nopony wants a party celebrating Fluttershy's recovery?" Pinkie asked sheepishly. Moore shook his head, still trying to stop his hand. "Maybe when this is all over we can do that, but for now there's too much to be done." He said. That was enough to give Pinkie a huge smile and a jump of happiness. Fluttershy giggled. Twilight turned to her and asked her something. "M-hm." Was her only response. Moore just shook it off as his hand finally stopped shaking. Sighing, he knelt over the recovering pegasus and frowned. "You want to tell us what happened?" Fluttershy gave a whimper and closed her eyes, pulling the blankets over her mouth. Moore sighed and put a hand on her head, rubbing it. "I understand." He said.
"That bad huh?" Rainbow asked. The others gave her a dirty look, and she withdrew her question. "They... they told me why those things come after us..." Fluttershy said as she trembled. Moore looked back to her, a caring look on his face, and continued rubbing her mane. "What is it darling?" Rarity asked. Fluttershy gave another whimper, and dug her head deeper into her pillow. Moore shushed her, and spoke tenderly. "Hey... it's okay, we're right here. We're not gonna let anything happen to you. Ok? " He said as he looked into her eyes. The mare gave a sniffle and nodded. "O...O...Our blood..." She said, voice shaking greatly. "Our blood?" Pinkie shouted in question. Moore shushed her, but more assertively. The hurting pegasus nodded. "It... It's their food." She said. Moore stopped his rubbing momentarily, and thought for a moment. Blood? Why blood? Let alone what were these kind of things doing in this world? "John?" Fluttershy asked. Moore looked up, and saw her concerned eyes. He shook it off and told her not to worry about it.
"So when do you get out?" He asked. Fluttershy shook her head. "I don't know, the nurse just said she wants me to stay here for a while." She says with a somewhat sad tone. "I'm sorry." "What for? I'm not the one who needs rest." Rainbow chuckled and pointed at his eyes. "You sure about that hotshot?" Moore rose an eyebrow in confusion, and looked to the others, who also had their own smiles. "What?" He asked. "You have some really big bags under your eyes, you should get some sleep." Twilight said. Moore shook his head and stood. "Rangers are used to going without sleep. I once had to stay up four whole days for siege on a hostile village back on my world." Undoing a glove, he sees his scar from his first day as a Sergeant, when a piece of shrapnel blew into it, cutting it. That seemed like such a long time ago, but it had only been three years. Sighing, he put his glove back on. "Besides..." He began. "I have to make sure nothing attacks tonight. I'll get some rest in the morning, I promise." The mares seemed unconvinced, but nodded nonetheless. Turning to Fluttershy he leaned down and placed his hands on her hoof. "Be strong Fluttershy. It'll be alright." She nodded and smiled.
At the library... 3 hours later...
Moore sat as Twilight wrapped a bandage around his arm. The Chaos Bringers had attacked again, and while no Royal Guards suffered anything worse than a minor scratch, the entire right side of his arm had been clawed away. "I don't think this world likes my arm very much." He said jokingly. The unicorn tightened the bandages and Moore gave a quick groan of pain. "Sorry..." She said. Moore just shook it off. "Twilight, you have anything on those creatures? Or anything similar?" He asked as he inspected his arm. Twilight shook her head and frowned. "The princesses looked in every library in Equestria, and they couldn't find anything. Whatever these things are, we have to figure them out as we go." Moore sighed and gave his arm a pat. Looking over to a group of bookshelves, he stood and grabbed one. "Elements of Harmony..." He said as he read the book's title. "What is this?" He wondered to himself. Twilight walked over and saw the book he was carrying. She smiled and took the book, putting it back. "The Elements of Harmony are a special force that holds the bond between peace and harmony." Moore nodded. "Makes sense." "There are six Elements of Harmony. Loyalty, Generosity, Laughter, Kindness, Honesty, and Magic. A long time ago, the princesses used them to save Equestria from eternal chaos. They were lost in time, but we rediscovered them, and now are represented by us." Twilight explained with a smile.
Moore took all of this in, nodding slowly. "So, you and the five others represent the Elements?" Twilight nodded. Moore looked over to Spike, who was carrying a large platter of pitchers containing water. Moore got up and took the platter. "It's okay I got it." The dragon said as he took it back. "You sure?" "Yeah!" Spike walked off and went upstairs, checking on the refugees most likely. Moore walked back over to Twilight. "You think you can treat this injury? It's a lot more severe than the others." Twilight nodded. Closing her eyes, she once again allowed her horn to illuminate a white glow, and Moore felt a cooling sensation. Sighing in pleasure, he removed his bandages, and sure enough, the wound was gone. He chuckled, still amazed by the capabilities of this magic. Looking out the window, he couldn't help but smile. The stars in the sky calmed his nerves, they always had. He grabbed his assault rifle and walked outside, inhaling a breath of fresh air.
He sighed in pleasure as he watched Royal Guards grab young fillies and escort them to their parents. Looking back at the hospital, he thought about what had happened, and how he had been there three times already with injured ponies. The Commander, Rainbow Dash, and now Fluttershy. Sighing, he looked back up to the sky. The stars shone brightly as he breathed in the fresh air. "Things will be alright." He thought to himself. Fighting for peace always had dire consequences, but he would always be willing to pay the price. Looking back over to the library, he saw Twilight speaking with a family of ponies. He smiled. Those creatures wanted pony blood? They would have to stomp on a pile of human remains to get it.
3 Days Later...
Moore checked his ammo again, still just 12 mags. He was starting to run low. Only time would tell how long it would last. "What's our ETA?" He asked as he slid a clip into the rifle. To his right, Twilight looked at Fluttershy, who just gave a smile, although she was obviously in pain. "Can't be sure. I'd say 10, maybe 20 more minutes." Twilight said. Moore nodded and looked out his own window. The plains of the desert rolled by, with very few ponds or signs of vegetation. He looked over to Rainbow Dash, who was still asleep. "Why are we going to Appleloosa again? I thought it was quarantined after the first attacks." Rarity asked as she flipped a page of her magazine. "Princess sent a order. Said I needed to get there ASAP. Thought you guys would be useful since you knew the terrain." Moore said as dismantled his pistol, and putting it back together. Applejack placed her head on her hooves and sighed. "Ah just hope Braeburn's alright." She said gloomily. "Who?" Moore asked as he finished reassembling his gun.
"Applejack's cousin. He kept in touch for about a week after the attacks began, but we haven't heard from him since last Tuesday." Pinkie explained. Moore sighed, even SHE was in a down mood. "How many guards they got there?" He asked checking the window again, seeing a mass group of buffalo. "None, the buffalo and local law enforcement have been holdin' their own. Wanted more of the guards towns that needed 'em." Applejack said, still in a depressed mood. "How bad is it?" Moore asked as he checked his claymore. He had kind of forgotten about the thing, and wasn't exactly sure when he would use it. Fluttershy's ears dipped behind her head and she stuck her head into a pillow. "I see..." Moore said as he looked back down, counting the bullets in a magazine. "21...22...23..."
The train came to a stop, causing Moore and the mares to lift their heads. "Somethin' up?" AJ asked. Moore stood as the lights in the train went up. "Not sure... wait here." taking his rifle, he walked thought the corridors and cars of the train up to the operating area. "Hey what's going on?" He asked the driver. The stallion rubbed the back of his head. "Darn thing's broken down, could take a couple of hours to repair, and even longer to get it moving again." He said as he inspected the controls. "That's fine, we'll just hitchhike from here." Moore said as he walked out of the car. "You sure you wanna do that sonny? It could be a dangerous hike." Moore stopped in the doorway, and turned to the operator. "I've been on worse." He said. Getting back to the mares, he explained the situation and gently shook Rainbow. "Mmmm it's too early... let me sleep." She said as she turned over. Moore frowned and ripped the mattress from under her, causing her to collapse onto the wooden support. She gave a quick shout of pain as she stood and cracked her back. "Alright fine I'll get up... sheesh..." She said with an aggravated tone. Fluttershy giggled.
Moore opened the hatch leading outside of the train, greeted instantly by hot, dry winds. He crouched and hopped out, motioning for the others to follow. "But it's so... dusty..." Rarity said as she rose a hoof. Moore mumbled to himself and grabbed her hoof. "Just do it you cry baby." Rainbow chuckled at this. Rarity groaned and stepped onto the sandy surface. "Come on." He said as he gently picked up Fluttershy, and placed her on the ground. She wobbled a little, do to her injuries to her flanks, but managed to stay up. The other mares took their turns at hopping of the train, with Rainbow almost falling due to still being half-asleep. "So, which direction?" Moore asked as shut the hatch. The metal grinded against itself and gave a loud bang as it collided with the other end. "Just follow the tracks. We'll know it when we see it." Twilight said.
30 Minutes Later (give or take a few seconds)...
Moore walked through desert, the hot sun beating down on his back. Rarity groaned and asked how much longer it would take. "Wait a minute, can't you just teleport us there Twilight?" Moore asked. The other mares turned their attention to her, but she shook her head. "I have to been to an area several times to be able to teleport there. I've only been to Appleoosa once." She explained. Rarity groaned. Moore sighed and rolled his eyes. "There it is y'all!" Applejack shouted as she pointed. Looking up, Moore saw a small settlement, dusty, mostly wooden, and quiet. He felt like he was in a western. Applejack quickly raced ahead, panting due to the intense heat and distance of their walk. "AJ wait!" Twilight called as she ran after her. Rainbow turned to Moore and shrugged, dashing off to catch up to her friends. Moore sighed and began running. He had no idea what he was in for.
"Massacre." That was the only word that came to mind. Ponies lay littered on the ground, dead, blood pouring from the various wounds across their bodies. Moore noticed his hand shake, this was just like the village attack. He heard a sob, turning to Applejack, he saw her bring a hoof to her mouth. She closed her eyes and began to cry. Twilight went to her and comforted her. "Braeburn?" She called. No answer. Instead was just the silence of blowing wind. "Ghost town..." Moore thought. As he looked around, his mind faded white. Back to that day, he groaned and held his head. The bodies... the gore... all returned. The mares continued to walk through town, with AJ and Moore only getting worse. The Earth Pony cried out for her cousin, but there was no answer. Moore looked to his right, more slaughtered bodies.
His vision faded white, and he saw the family getting gunned down. Stumbling, he placed his hand against a pole for balance, moaning in sickness. "John?" Twilight asked. Moore turned, seeing her concerned look. "Uh'm fine..." He mumbled. Once again his mind flashed, and he saw his partner, Cpl. Johnson, get shot. He groaned in pain, falling as he covered his gut. Moore gave a quick shout, and collapsed to his knees. "John?" Twilight asked, frantic and panicked. Moore watched as the ground swirled, looking at his hands, he saw them tremble. No matter what he did, he could not stop them.
"John! Speak to me!" Twilight shouted, clearly distressed. Moore began to breathe heavily as sweat poured from his glands, seeing more and more dead bodies. "The... the..." He tried to say, but he couldn't speak. He collapsed, completely, and fully, shaking. "JOHN!" Moore heard, though it faded. His vision blurred as he watched Taliban soldiers gun down the innocent children and women. His body shook violently, and his breathing doubled. "The PTSD! It's the village! It's like the one that caused it!" Someone shouted, but Moore was too busy suffering to notice. He moaned, and started saying unintelligible things, mumbling on and on about something. "Oh dear, this is not good!" Someone shouted. Moore continued to shake as he faded from conciousness...
Eight Years Ago...
Moore nervously hid behind the cover, eyes wide open, panting.. He placed his head against the wall, breathing quickly and heavily. He covered his wound and looked out from beside the wall. The Sergeant lay there, along with the other members of his squad... Dead. He slumped back down, gunfire in his ears. "Oh this is bad..." He said. Next to him, another child was shot, and he covered his eyes. "No..." He whispered. Please... no more innocents, no more blood... "Private!" He heard. Looking up, he sees that one member of his squad is still alive. Cpl. Johnson. "Sir!" Johnson throws a flashbang and gets Moore to his feet. "Come on let's go! We're running out of time!" Moore stumbles a bit as his feet are unresponsive, but manages to follow his new CO into a building.
"Sir, what's the situation?" Moore asks as he checks his ammo. A full clip. Moore is blown back as a grenade goes off, though it was not near him. A civilian runs screaming, but is gunned down. Moore can only gasp. "On your feet soldier!" Johnson shouts as he grabs him and brings him up. "Get a grip Private! Our weapons still work, and we haven't been wounded, so we can still kick some..." He's interrupted by the door busting open. Instinctively, Johnson takes the hostile and flips him over his shoulder, taking his knife and stabbing him. "How can you be so calm?" Moore says with a quake in his voice. Johnson puts away his knife and rises his head to the Private. "Practice." He says.
Bringing his rifle forward, he motions for Moore to follow. Moore runs outside and slides over to an overturned scooter. Going prone as Taliban soldiers fire on him. Reaching to his side, he takes out a flashbang, and pulls it's pin. "Flash out!" He shouts as he tosses the grenade. He hears a short boom and looks up. Success. "MOVE!" He hears Johnson shout. Moore complies and runs over to him. He ducks and brings his head against a wall as the Corporal fires away. "Ok, now what?" Moore asks. Johnson comes back around and drops an empty clip from his weapon. "We push through! Rangers Lead the Way remember?" He shouts. "Sir that's a suicide mission with just the two of us!" "Then we die like men!" Moore slumps down as he watches a small child hold his neck, choking as blood squirts from it.
"Private I need suppressing fire!" Moore turns to his CO, a bit dazed by what was occurring. Johnson stares at him, and raises an eyebrow. "Uh... Now!" He shouts. Moore jumps slightly, but keeps his bearings. Diving, he lands behind a wrecked car, as bullets collide with the vehicle. Popping up, he looks around and sees several hostile soldiers. Some are firing at them, others are shooting at civilians. Ducking back down, he breathes heavily as the hot desert sun beats down on him. He inhales deeply, and puts his finger on the trigger. He fires for as long as he can, bringing down three hostiles with the single clip.
"RPG-" Is all Moore has time to shout before he is blown back by the explosion. His head bangs against the solid ground, giving a loud 'thwack'. Groaning, all he can hear is a loud buzzing, and his vision is blurred. Beside him, another civilian is shot, although not fatally. Johnson throws a grenade and rushes over to him. "Look at me, you're gonna be alright!" He shouts. Moore begins to shake as he is overwhelmed with pain and shock. "Just leave me..." He whispers. "A good soldier never leaves a man behind!" Johnson shouts as he picks him up and throws him over his shoulders. Moore groans as the gunfire rang in his ear, and pictures blurred together in a mess of sloppy colors.
Moore hears a door burst open, and sees several civilians back away in fear. Looking up, he sees his arms dangling by the side of his ally, before being thrown onto a table. "Moore..." He says to himself. "Medic!" He shouts. The civilians cower away. "Please, he's hurt!" The Corporal shouts as Moore looks over to the people. There is fear in their eyes, but also sympathy. He tries to raise a hand to tell them to stay calm, but it proves to be too much work. "Easy Private, just rest!" Johnson says as he pats his chest. He can see the Corporal looking around, before pausing. "Of course!" He shouts as he reaches to his side. Moore is barely conscious as he watches his CO pull out a red stick. "Flares... thank you God!" Johnson places his hand on Moore shoulder and shakes him. "You hang on just a bit longer!" Moore attempts to nod, but simply lets his head slump against the back of the table.
Johnson charges outside and lights the flare. At least, that's what it looks like through the window. Moore turns his head, once again looking at the civilians. They back away, still showing fears in their eyes. Summoning his strength, Moore slowly raises his hand out as far and high as he can manage. "Please..." He whispers. "Help me..." His voice is raspy, and clearly out of breath. A man looks over to a woman, and she looks back. Two children are also there, although they are cowering. The woman nods, and the man looks back at the injured soldier. Moore is still holding out his hand, but it is falling. "Please..." He whispers again, although quieter. The man walks over and brings out a bottle of water, dumping it on the soldier's face.
"We can't stay here! Come on!" He hears Johnson shout. In no time at all, he's picked back up and on the man's shoulders. "You too! We're getting the heck out of here!" The Corporal shouts. Moore's vision fades white, reliving different moments of that day. At one point, Johnson is carrying him to another village, despite panting hardly. In another, doctors work feverishly to get him back around as a few others and Johnson keep the Taliban occupied. "When will your reinforcements arrive American?" A doctor shouts as he once again shocks the young Private. "They'll be here!" Moore hears Johnson shout. Moore's vision fades to black.
"Private wake up! They made it!" He hears. Moore's eyes flutter open and he sees a helicopter. "What..." He whispers. "Come on!" Johnson shouts as two pilots come over to them. "We got wounded and civilians get them in!" He shouts. "Roger that we got him. Package is secure." A pilot says. Moore groggily rolls over, falling onto the sand. "For crying out loud..." An Iraqi says as he lifts up the soldier back onto the bed. Moore looks back to Johnson, who is still firing at the hostiles, along with two others. "Get him on board." He hears. Moore lets his head fall back down onto the pillow as his mind flashes back to the Sergeant dying. "My fault..." He mumbles.
"Mister Johnson let's go!" A child shouts. Instead of listening, Johnson shouts to the pilots. "There's no more room get that bird in the air!" The pilot flips a couple of dials and twits something. "My fault..." Moore says again. "Mister! Get on!" The child shouts again. "If I get on one of you have to get off! I'm staying here!" Johnson shouts back. As the blades begin to spin, Johnson is shot in the abdomen and falls to the ground. "Sir..." Moore whispers as he reaches out his arm. A man rushes over to him and places an oxygen mask on him. "Stay calm, we'll get you out of here." He says. "No..." He whispers. "GO!" He hears the Corporal say. Looking over to him, he sees he is sitting in an upright position, firing his pistol as blood pours from his gut. "Lifting off." The pilot says as someone closes the hatch. The last thing Moore sees is blood flying from Johnson's head.
Moore awoke with a frightened gasp. Looking around, he found himself in a white, rectangular room. "Where am I?" He wondered. To his right, he sees a heart rate monitor to his right. "The heck?" Groaning, he rises to a sitting position, and looks around some more. The PTSD must have gotten the best of him. He remembered collapsing and shaking. After that, it was just that day being lived once again. Watching Johnson sacrifice himself never got any easier. Someone was calling his name, though he couldn't tell who. "Anyone there? Hello?" He called again as he disconnected the monitor, causing it to give a long continuous beep. He leapt on to the floor, and stumbled. "Whoa..." Shifting his weight, he stopped moving and balanced. Looking down, he once again sees that he has his dark green shirt and camouflage pants. Remaining in that stance, he looked up and looked for a door. He spotted one to the far right. "Ok... Easy..." He thought to himself. Exhaling, he moved, stumbling slightly, but able to keep his balance. Looking to the door, he breathed and picked up his pace.
When he opened the door, he noticed a room to the left of him. Inside was his gear, and his combat attire. He grabbed the door knob and shook it. "Locked." He thought to himself. Looking back down the hallway, he can hear distant chatter, as well as some slight panic. "Hello?" He asks while cocking his head and raising an eyebrow. "JOHN!" A familiar voice shouts as something comes through the door at the end of the hall. "John! You're okay!" Noticing the purple unicorn, he gives a sigh of relief. She leaps and embraces him. Moore throws his arms to his side, unsure of what to do. "I was so scared..." She said, tears in her eyes. Moore sighs and puts her down, afterward placing his hand on her head and rubbing her mane. "Easy, it's alright now." Twilight nods and sniffs. Looking back to the doorway, Moore sees what looks like a male version of Applejack (only a yellow coat instead of orange) walking towards them, along with the rest of the girls.
After what felt like hours of tears and "I was so scared"s, Moore was able to walk out of the hall and ask what was going on. The yellow pony he saw earlier spoke up. "We heard some rucus' happenin' over in town, so we headed on over to help y'all out." He lifted a hoof and maintained his serious look. "Mah name's Braeburn. Second in command of this here establishment." Moore took his hoof and shook it. "Staff Sergeant John Moore. 1st Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment of the US Army Rangers." He introduced. "Ah know who ya are. These mares here made sure of that." The stallion replied.
"So what goes on around here?" Moore asked as he loaded his rifle. There were three more clips than before. Twilight must have been recreating them with her magic while he was out. Braeburn nodded to a stallion with a moustache, and walked up. "We take in refugees from all over. We used to do that in town, but the creatures knew it was there, and attacked. That massacre you saw was from this morning, when we tried to look fer supplies." Moore paused, thinking back to that sight. It was so similar to the one so long ago. Why did it have to haunt his memories like this? He noticed his hand shake, and Fluttershy held it. Her eyes carried concern and fear. He smiled and placed his hand on her hoof. "I'm okay... I promise." She nodded, and lowered her hoof, though she still stared at his strongly shaking hand.
Braeburn walked Moore through the area, giving him detailed summaries of everything there. The mess hall, the recovery rooms(like the one he had been in), armories( for things like boots and such), and other major areas. Moore looked over and saw a candlelit spot. Among it, pictures of various ponies and buffalo. Moore cringed. "Is that..." He tried to ask, but Braeburn answered before he could finish. "Yes... that's where we honor those that died. My sister was claimed in the attacks. That's her up there." He pointed to the picture in the top right corner, showing a yellow mare with sapphire eyes. and an award winning smile, tipping her hat to the camera. Moore took the picture and observed it. Turning to Braeburn, he sees Applejack comforting him, as well as a tear run down his eye. "I'm so sorry bud..." She says. Moore sighs and puts the picture back. Just like Iraq, this was tearing apart families.
Just then, a bright flash went off, causing Moore to cover his eyes. "Everyone get down!" He shouted as he wrapped his arms around the mares. "Not again!" AJ shouted as she covered her eyes. "Just shut up and stay down!" Moore shouts. The other ponies take cover as the building begins to shake, causing various items to fall to the ground, either shattering or making a loud noise. The light intensified, as did the quaking and rumbling. "What's happening?" Someone shouted. Moore wrapped his arms around the mares even tighter, he was not letting them get hurt. After what felt like hours, the light finally dimmed, and the ponies (and man) could finally walk around. "Everyone alright?" Moore asked. Fluttershy was shaking, but Pinkie and Rarity instantly went to comfort her. The other ponies checked to other aspects around the area as Moore watched the light recede to a high hill top. There, he could see what looked like human figures...
"Stay behind me..." Moore says as he raises his rifle. Edging towards the hill, he hears the snapping of a twig and pauses. The mares back away, fearful of what may lay ahead. "Maybe it's more of them Rangers like you?" Applejack offered. "Maybe... But I'm not taking any chances." Moore said. Moore closes one eye, focusing all of his sight ability on the holographic sight of his weapon. He breathed steadily, awaiting for the creatures on the mountain top to show themselves. He hears a clink, and sees a canister burst, bringing forth a screen of smoke. "Star!" Something shouts. "STAR! Or we will fire on you!" Moore comes to realization, drops his weapon, and raises his arms. "Don't shoot! Texas! The code is Texas!" He shouts. There is only silence as Moore's heart beats inside of his chest. "John?" Twilight asks questioningly. Moore shushes her. "Staff Sergeant?" He hears. Moore doesn't even have to think to know who's up there.
"Stand down troops. This is a friendly area." He says reclaiming his weapon. Sure enough, five Rangers come walking out of the smoke, though they pause upon sight of the ponies. "Uh... Question...? What are these?" One soldier asks. Moore recognizes him. "Introduce yourself ladies. And guy." Moore says with a slight smile on his face. Turning back, he sees that they're as scared and confused as when Twilight and Applejack first saw him. Sighing he kneels down. "It's alright, they're Rangers, like me." He says calmly. "This is weirdin' me out." He hears a soldier say. Moore turns and stands. He recognizes the men. Turning back to Twilight, he motions to the soldiers. The unicorn gulps, but puts on a smile. "H... Hello... My name is Twilight Sparkle, star pupil of Princess Celestia." The soldiers briefly step back. "Holy crap... It talks?" One asks. "She." Moore says. The soldier looks at him, who he now recognizes as Daniels. "Should've figured you'd end up here Private." He says jokingly.
Eventually, both the soldiers and ponies calm down to the point where they can properly introduce themselves. The soldiers that came through are Private Daniels, specialized in quick hit and run tactics, Corporal Barns, a heavy weapons specialist, Sergeant Connors, a sniper, Specialist Adams, a demolitions and javelin expert, and Corporal Hans, an assault specialist. The group decided to head back to the building that Moore had found himself in. They gathered in the cafeteria, where they would talk about what had happen. "How'd you get here?" Moore asked as he sat down. "We managed to get our hands on an alien transporter ray. Our first objective was to launch an EMP during a sequence to find you and get you home, as well as gather info on the location with cameras." Hans explained as he unpacked his assault rifle onto the table. "Lot of good those did..." Daniels said as he tossed a wrecked camcorder onto the table.
Twilight looked around at the strange new men. It was a little scary to be surrounded by so many at once, but she knew they had good purpose. "So... you guys all... friends?" She asked. "Friends? More like allies." Connors said as he hit a strange looking device. "Give it up Sergeant. GPS doesn't work here. No satellites." John said as he looked to Twilight. "You aren't friends?" She heard Pinkie ask, who was wide eyed. "Some of us are. I've known Jack since he was in high school." The one called Barns said. "Who?" Rainbow asked. Twilight turned to look at the man, who had brown hair and green eyes. "Jack Adams." He said, motioning to the Specialist.
Moore looked back over to Adams, who he knew was uncomfortable. "Nice to meet you." He said quietly. "He's a little quiet, doesn't talk much." Barns explained as he placed his LMG on the table. Twilight stared at it, seeming to be afraid. "What is... that?" She asked. Barns looked to her, then to Moore. "Have you explained that we ki..." "Yes." Moore said before he could finish his question. There wasn't any point in mentioning it more than needed. Barns nodded and turned back to the frightened unicorn. "You know what a gun is?" He asked. Twilight nodded. "Well, this particular one, is called an M240. It is a light machine gun, or LMG for short. Fires 7.62 mm rounds at a rate of about 750-950 rounds per minute." He explained. Twilight nodded. Looking over to Connors, she asked about the weapon he had. Connors observed his weapon for a while, then set it on the table. "This is called an SR-25. It's what's called a Sniper Rifle, which have an incredibly long range. This weapon fires 7.62x51 mm NATO rounds. Fancy talk for really big bullets." He said as he checked a clip in it. The other ponies asked about the other weapons carried by the soldiers, including the Javelin, SCAR-L, MP5, and an assortment of pistols and machine pistols.
"So where's the captain?" Moore asked. "Back home. He said he needed to stay back in order to lead the troops into battle." Connors said. Moore nods. Looking back to the ponies, he asked them to talk about themselves. Despite a little caution, they comply and talk. For Pinkie, it wasn't that hard, she just rambled on an on about something completely off topic. The others do manage to share when she has to stop to breathe, but Fluttershy still seems hesitant. "Come on Fluttershy. You can do it." Rainbow says encouragingly. "Not like we're gonna bite." Adams says under his breath. Fluttershy lowers her head slightly, cringing. Moore places a hand on her hoof. "It's okay." He says, rubbing her hoof with his thumb. She looks up, her eyes full of fear. Moore smiles, and reassures her. Slowly, she does manage to talk and explain herself. Moore smiles. Things were going to be better.
Braeburn stood and asked them if they wanted anything to eat. "As a matter of fact, yeah. You got any beef? I'm starved." Hans said. The ponies gasped and Moore face palmed. "Oh great..." He thought to himself. As if things couldn't get worse, Barns asked what was wrong with eating meat. Moore slammed his head down on the table as the ponies grew even more shocked. "Why would you want to eat poor little animals?" He could hear Fluttershy ask, with a somewhat quaky voice. "Moore did it." He hears Barns say. "Oh for crying out loud..." Moore says as he raises his head. "We know..." Fluttershy said, turning away. Moore sighed and placed his hand to his head, rubbing it in shame. "So what's the big deal?" Barns asks. "Guys, if horses don't eat meat in our world, what the heck would make you think they eat it here?" Adams says in a somewhat irritated tone. The others stare at him, but he maintains his look. Moore looks up and backs him up. "He's right, they're all vegetarians. They eat fruit and sweets." He explains. Looking back to Fluttershy, he places a hand on her shoulder, and she looks up to him. Moore stares at her with sympathetic eyes, stating his apologies. Fluttershy smiles, and places her hoof on his hand.
A little while later, a gray, wall eyed pegasus crashes through a door, spinning on the ground as she reaches the table they are sitting at. The soldiers just stared in confusion as the mares chuckled. "Hey Derpy." Rainbow said. Moore cocked his head as the others continued to stare. The pegasus got up and gave a chuckle. "Sorry bout the door." She said. "It's fine Derpy." Braeburn responded. "Uh... who is this?" Connors asks. Twilight looks at him and giggles. "This is Derpy Hooves, she's a bit clumsy, but she's the best mail mare you'll ever find." She says. Moore leans back as the pony reaches into a pouch and pulls out an envelope. "I brought you a letter!" She says with a smile, clutching the letter in her mouth. She holds it out to Moore with a smile. Moore slowly takes the letter, still a little concerned with the random appearance of this wall-eyed pegasus. "Uh... thanks... I guess..." He says. "You're welcome." Derpy says with a grin. Moore opens the letter and reads aloud.
Dear my little Ponies (and Staff Sergeant Moore),
We noticed a large white flash come from the east, it was not very bright, but we knew that it must be serious. Last time it happened, it brought us the Staff Sergeant. Now, if this light has brought more humans, I would much appreciate it if you would bring them here, so that I may welcome and greet them personally. I would also like to discuss the possibilities of them becoming guardians as well, more can never hurt. My best of wishes that your travel goes well and you arrive back safely.
Moore stared at the note for a minute before the note for a moment before speaking up. "Come on. We have somewhere to be."
Canterlot, Royal Palace...
Moore stood solidly in place. To his side, his comrades stood equally still, though they knew not the importance of the individual they would soon face. Moore could only wonder how this would go, his allies weren't exactly gentlemen. Other than Adams, but he was always polite, except when someone wasn't using common sense. Moore looked to his left, the ponies were standing there, smiles on their faces. "Remember, this is the ruler of this land, don't be disrespectful." He reminded his men. They nodded. All at once, the doors opened, presenting the alicorn in all her splendor. Next to her was a smaller, black alicorn, probably a relative. Exhaling, Moore walks forward, entering the castle. Banners containing two alicorns revolving the sun and moon are present. A large chandelier hangs from the center of the room, decorating the room in a rainbow like glow.
The princess smiles and welcomes the ponies, as well as the new men. The mares respectfully bow as Moore raises a military salute. The other soldiers do the same, no doubt trying to figure out what to do based on him. "At ease." The princess says, voice like silk. The ponies raise, while Moore places his hand back onto his rifle. The princess inspects the new men, smiling as she goes. "I see we have new arrivals?" She says. "Yes your highness. These Rangers arrived when that white flash you saw went off." Twilight said. Moore nods, stating his agreements. The princess exhales calmly, and introduces herself. "Welcome, US Army Rangers to Equestria. I am Princess Celestia, and this is my sister, Princess Luna." She says. The smaller alicorn nods, greeting the men.
Moore stands tall, breathing in. "Princess, these are members of my squad back on Earth, my home." Celestia smiles and looks to them. "Might I ask your names?" She asks. Luna looks their way too, trying her best to appear happy, although something is clearly wrong. Connors steps forward, giving a slight bow. "I am Sergeant Derek Connors, long range sniper specialist." Stepping back, Barns walks up after him and bows as well. "I am Corporal Frank Barns, heavy weaponry expert." Adams steps up, only bowing his head, but places his fist to his chest. "Specialist Jack Adams, demolitions expert and Javelin marksman." Hans steps forward, also bowing like the first two. "Corporal Jacob Hans, at your service." Finally, Daniels steps forward, getting down on one knee, bowing his head. "Private Hank Daniels, hit and run tactic and scout." Backing up, the soldiers return to their formation.
Princess Celestia smiles and blinks as she steps forward, accompanied by Princess Luna. Coming within a few inches his squad members, the princess smiles and looks upon each one, as if trying to judge their character. Stepping back, the princess looks to her younger sister, who nods. Giving a satisfactory breath, she stands upright, and gives her question Moore knew was coming. "I am going to ask you the same question that I asked Staff Sergeant Moore when he first arrived. Would you give your life for anyopony here?" The soldiers simply salute. "With pride." Connors says. "Then I ask you, will you become guardians, and give your service to the defense of innocent ponies? If you accept, please... step forth." After a moment of silence, the men take one step forward, in unison.
Looking closer, Moore can't help but notice that Luna seems upset about something.
"Is something up?" Moore asks. Princess Celestia looks at him with curiosity, while Luna backs away, appearing to be nervous. Moore repeats his question, this time more specific. "Princess Luna appears to be troubled, is there a problem?" The princesses exchange looks, Luna having frightened, sad eyes, and Celestia having concerned, understanding ones. Luna dips her head, closing her eyes. Celestia sighed and place her head on the top of her cranium, with Luna adjust her head so her neck fit into the gap between her sister's head an neck. "Princess?" He hears Twilight ask. Looking left, he sees the concerned expressions off all the mares, clearly noticing the problem as well. Pulling back, the princesses re open their eyes, and Luna nods. Celestia nods back and turns back to the group before them.
"We have received word on the condition of Fillydelphia. The body count has risen, and the royal guards have been all but defeated. Luna is upset because... because..." Princess Celestia looked at the floor and shook her head, as though unable to finish the sentence. The mares and Moore stepped forward, concerned. Luna closed her eyes, shed a tear, and spoke. "I was the one who assigned all the guards that got killed, and the one that assigned the commander that lost his family in the attack. I just... I just can't help but feel responsible..." She shed a tear and returned her head to her sister's neck. Celestia lowered her head to her sister and comforted her.
"Is another attack about to take place?" Moore asked. Celestia looked over to the Staff Sergeant while still comforting her sister. "Yes, a group of the remaining guards reported seeing a large horde about one hour away... which was thirty minutes ago." She said. Luna's weeping could now be heard, though it was quiet. Moore stood fast, instantly turning to Twilight. "Twilight, how many times have you been to Fillydelphia?" Twilight smiled as she got what he meant. She nodded. Stepping forward, Moore turned to his men. "Well men, sounds like we have a job to do." "SIR YES SIR!" They shouted in reply, saluting. Turning, Moore saw the princesses turn to him, Celestia had a grateful smile, where as Luna still had a sympathetic look. Moore bowed his head and placed his fist to his chest. "Don't worry Princess Luna, we'll make sure that no one else gets hurt." He said. She sniffed and nodded. "Be careful." She said. Moore promised and walked to Twilight. She began to focus and Moore grabbed hold of her. "Grab onto me, or somepony holding on to me, we need physical contact." Twilight said to the others.
Fillydelphia...15 Minutes Later...
"Are we all clear on the plan?" Moore asked, looking around the circle of Royal Guards and Rangers. "I pick 'em off from afar, Adams launches a Javelin rocket to lower their numbers, and the others help you out up front." Connors said, giving his brief summary. Moore nods. Kneeling down, he speaks slowly. "Alright, listen up. There are more of them then us, but we have a cause to fight for." The others nodded, and Daniels lifted his MP5 in the air in agreement. "By the end of this fight, only one of side is coming out alive..." The soldiers leaned in, listening closely to what he said. Moore eyed each soldier, seeing the fire of will and determination in each one. "And we sure as heck are not gonna let it be theirs. We will push them back, hooah?" He shouts as he pumps his fist into the air. "HOOAH!" "That's what I like to hear! Alright, everyone get into position, we need to be ready." Moore broke the group, watching as Twilight, Rainbow, and Pinkie got Connors and Adams to their spots. Moore looked out at the horizon, the sun was beginning to set, and the blockades were being set. This would be a bloody fight, but in his heart, Moore knew he would win. He had to...
Moore looked out on the long road, watching as the Chaos Bringers edged closer, and closer to the city.
"Snipe Team are you in position?" He asked into his radio. A brief silence was his only response for a moment, but Connors did reply.
"Roger Staff Sergeant, I'm up and ready." Moore gave instruction to begin firing on the count of three, when he had a clear shot. Looking back to his side, he sees Barns all set up with his LMG. To his right, Hans is crouched, ready to fire. Breathing slowly, Moore gets down on one knee and points his weapon. These things were here to get the ponies... they weren't gonna touch em.
"Javelin missile waiting on your go." He heard from his radio. Moore didn't alter his vision, he would not stop for an instant. After a few seconds, he hears a loud shot ring out, signaling that Connors has begun to fire.
"Adams, hold your shot, we need to time this right." Moore says as he raises a fist into the air.
"Squad start firing." He says as he clenches his fist. His allies comply and open fire, as does he, which brings down several of the hostiles.
"Daniels! Spring the trap!" He shouts as he begins to reload. Another loud shot rings out. Right after, Connors confirms his kill. Moore slams his clip into his gun and aims back up his sights. Pulling the trigger, he feels the recoil send the weight of his gun into his shoulder.
"Another group just showed up from the west. I count at least twenty inbound. I'll displace to intercept and thin em' out. You're gonna be without sniper support for thirty seconds." Connors says into his radio. He quickly picks up his rifle and slings his backpack over his shoulder.
"Now what?" He hears from his side. Looking down, he sees the orange pony known as Applejack next to him.
"Just shut up and keep up with me." He replies as he takes off to the right. He hears the sound the galloping behind him as he speeds up to reach his spot. Looking up, he spots a large hill, very high, and almost exactly where he spotted the freaks coming in from. He lets out a devilish smile and speeds up. This would prove useful in his operations. He slows as he reaches the hill top. It doesn't feel like there's a breeze, but just to be safe, he licks his finger and sticks it into the air. Sure enough, it is a little colder heading to the east.
"Alright, wind is blowing east, so I'll have to aim to the west slightly for my shots thanks to the distance." He says to the confused pony to his right. Crouching down, he undoes his backpack and places it slightly in front of him as he goes prone. Placing the front of the rifle on top of the pack, he closes one eye and focuses in on the scope.
"I'm out give me some cover!" Barns shouts. Moore takes one of his last two grenades and cooks. With a mighty shout, he tosses it over the barricade. Ducking back down, he motions for Hans to fall back and meet up with Daniels for the ambush. Hans nods and rushes back. Moore quickly pops back up and fires as a Royal Guard runs over a creature and gives it a solid blow to the chin. These ponies had some serious fight in them.
"Staff Sergeant! We are in position! Waiting on your signal!" Moore hears from his radio. There's a clicking noise as he tries to keep shooting. Looking down at his rifle, he pulls out the clip. Empty. He ducks down, and shouts into his radio for the ambush to start. Within a few seconds, the creatures are pushed into a small square, rendering escape to the sides impossible.
"Now! Push forward!" He shouts as he leaps over the barricade. Barns instantly follows suit, hopping over the barricade and hip firing with his weapon, slowly walking forward. Moore still kept his sight up, aiming at each creature, sure to place at least three bullets into each, as he had been trained to do.
"They're retreating! It's time! Adams, take the shot!" Adams closes his eyes and exhales. To his the right, five mare watch with curiosity. Opening one eye, Adams pulls the trigger and watches as the rocket launches high into the sky. From this distance, he can see his allies begin to fall back. He just sits there, watching the rocket launch higher and higher into the air. Suddenly, it dips, and Adams counts backward from three. Upon reaching 0, the rocket lands and blasts a fiery explosion. He smiles, and turns to the mares. The unicorns have their mouths hanging open, and their eyes are stretched to their limit. Fluttershy appears to be frightened, and is breathing heavily. Pinkie is stuck in mid air, gasping, and shaking, as though in shock at the sight. Rainbow has an amazed look.
"That... was... AWESOME!" She shouts as she leaps into the air, replaying the events that had just occurred. Adams chuckled. Pinkie finally falls to the ground and joins Rainbow in her praise, with each babbling on and on about how cool it was.
"Wow... that was... really something..." The one called Twilight says as she continues to stare wide eyed. Fluttershy just smiles nervously. Adams told her not be scared, that it was being used to help them. This seemed to calm her down, and she nodded. Adams smiled.
Two hours later…
Moore looked upon his fellow comrades, and to the mares. They had just agreed that each would be able to take shelter with them. Now it was just a matter of who would go with who.
"Let's answer the golden question, who's willing to go with Rarity?" Rainbow asked. The soldiers either scratched their head, or pretended to be occupied by something else. Rarity looked away in disgust, seeming to be insulted no one wanted to willingly stay with her. Not that Moore was surprised.
"I guess I'll go with her." Barns eventually said, to which Rarity turned excitedly. Before she could say anything, Barns said that he didn't want to be a living mannequin. Despite a little bit of disappointment, Rarity agreed. The next pony on the list was Fluttershy, but it was already decided that she would be the one deciding who would live with her, not any of the soldiers. She looked around a little, studying each soldier with what looked like a keen eye. She backed away and smiled.
"Do you want to stay with me Jack?" She asked to the Specialist. He appeared a bit nervous, but he nodded.
"Have a frog in your throat?" Moore asked jokingly. Adams shook his head, and walked over to the pegasus. The next mare was Rainbow, and Daniels instantly asked for permission from her. Rainbow had a devilish grin when she said yes. Moore noticed this and asked about it.
"This guy's the fastest right? I wanna see what he's got." She said as she rose into the air, flapping her wings quickly. Daniels chuckled and challenged her to a race in a location of her choosing, and she accepted. Moore rolled his eyes. From what he'd seen, Rainbow was really irresponsible, and he knew from experience that Daniels was a bit of a showoff. This would probably result in a few problems. He shook it off and decided to move on to Applejack.
"I guess I'll head with her. She does have the largest area, and I'll need that for target practice." Connors says as he walks over to the mare. AJ tips her hat and smiles. Connors nods and smiles back. Moore looks over to Pinkie and Hans.
"Guess that just leaves you two." He says. Pinkie leaps with excitement and claps her hooves. Hans doesn't seem as excited. He looks to Moore and asks him for a private conversation.
"You sure it's a good idea for anyone to go with her? Don't get me wrong, she seems nice enough, but a bit crazy too." He whispers. Moore nods and looks back at the pink pony, who is still bouncing around in excitement, and talking about how much fun she and Jacob would have.
"You really want to spoil that attitude of hers?" Moore asks as he turns back to him. Hans looks behind him and sighs. "Fine… I'll go with her." He says with a hint of hesitation in his voice. Moore pats him on the back and tells him things will be fine.
Rarity's Fashion Shop
"Come along now Frank! I just know you'll enjoy it here!" Rarity shouts as she opens the door to her home. Barns sighed, had he really just agreed to live with a fashion freak? His sister had always been one, and she annoyed him to death. How different would living with a pony be? As he stepped inside, he instantly saw what he expected. Several fabrics and ribbons littering the area, as well as several sewing machines.
"I'm sorry it's such a mess in here, my sister and her friends are staying here for the whole week! They've made a huge mess out of my home." Rarity said. Barns shrugged as if it couldn't possibly matter. Truth is, it didn't. He was used to babysitting, having four little sisters did that to you. Exhaling, Barns sat down in a chair, and looked at a portrait of what looked like her family. It contained two larger ponies, one mare and stallion, a smaller unicorn, and her.
"Is this your family?" He asked. Rarity turned to the picture and nodded. She began to explain to him what each member was like. Her mom was a cook, although she couldn't teach Sweetie Bell how to do it. Her father was just a farmer, so how she got interested in fashion was a mystery to him. There was no way he would ask, but he still didn't get it.
Adams smiled as the bird landed on his finger. He rose it to his face, getting a better look at the creature. He had always loved animals, but his mother and father refused to let him have any pets. Not because they were allergic, just because they didn't want him to. He gave a short whistle, and the bird repeated it to him. He chuckled and sent it into the air.
"You're really good with animals." He heard. Behind him, Fluttershy had several birds all across her body, and rabbits at her hooves. Adams chuckled.
"Not as good as you seem to be." He said as a bunny clawed at his foot. He smiled and picked it up, petting it gently. It gently tucked itself into his arm, causing him to chuckle. Fluttershy smiled and invited him inside. Adams nodded and set the bunny down, watching as it hopped over to another group of rabbits.
Some Random Field
Daniels slid to a halt and looked above him. The pegasus was still on his tail, so he took off. His breathing increased as he pumped his legs faster and faster.
"That all you got?" He shouts. The pegasus shoots back a remark about just getting started, and instantly he can hear a whoosh of air. He trips and falls to the ground, rolling as he comes to a slow stop. Ahead of him, Rainbow Dash continues to rush forward, now only on her feet. Daniels chuckles and takes off once more. He felt his heart beat against his chest, and channeled his adrenaline into his efforts. His legs were longer that the mare's and he had been running since he was in high school, if he played his cards right, he could win this.
He managed to come up right next to her, the tree marking the end of the race just ahead of them. Summoning his strength, he gave himself a push to win. But so did she, and they passed the tree at the same time.
"I won!" Rainbow shouts. Daniels knew it was a tie, but he just decided to let her think that she did win.
"By less than a hair, we were neck and neck the whole time." He said as he brought his hands to his knees and panted. He was out of breath, and exhausted. The rainbow colored mare was faring no better, as she panted and breathed heavily as well. She stuck out a hoof and congratulated him, saying he was pretty good for something with only two legs. Daniels chuckled and offered a rematch tomorrow. Rainbow graciously accepted.
Sweet Apple Acres
Connors picked an apple from a tree and bit into it, instantly surprised by how much flavor it had. Especially for an apple. Applejack noticed and chuckled, explaining that her family grew apples in a very special way, which resulted in some of the best apples in all of the land.
"You can say that again, this is the best apple I've ever eaten." He said. He quickly took another bite and lifted his rifle to his shoulder. It had been a while since he had gotten to eat any actual fruit, usually it was just packaged, or dried. That was fine and all, but nothing beat a fresh fruit. AJ introduced her family, saying that her little sister, named Applebloom, was hanging out with her friends. Connors couldn't help but chuckle at all of the puns with apples.
"This is where you'll be stayin'. Nothin' fancy, but it's cozy." Applejack said as she led him to an upstairs room. Inside was a bed, which was strangely human sized, a desk, a few chairs, and a closet for anything he needed. Connors walked in and set his sniper on the desk, and looked around the room. He reached down in his pocket, and took out a picture of a sun set that had been sent to him by his mother a year earlier. Smiling, he placed it by the rifle, and placed his backpack in the closet.
Sugar Cube Corner
Hans walked up stairs, groaning as he held his stomach. That was the most nauseating experience he had ever had. All those cupcakes couldn't be healthy. For the third time in a few hours, he felt like he would vomit.
"Feeling any better?" Pinkie asked as she walked up to him casually. A rare occurrence with her. She handed him some medicine, and he gladly accepted. He brought the tablet to his mouth and drank some water. Letting the tablet fall down his throat, he shook his head and gave a quick groan.
"Remind me to never try so much crap at once." He said as he got up and held his head. Pinkie giggled and snorted, causing Hans to look at her with a confused look. He hadn't met many people who snorted when they laughed, but he always thought it was mixture of cute and strange. She leapt over to him and said he was funny, although Hans wasn't trying to be. He sighed and sat down as the pink pony began another one of her rants. He was ignoring her until she mentioned something about creating things.
"What kind of stuff do you mean? Like, machinery?"
"Oh yeah! I love building stuff! It's super fun!"
Hans smiled, maybe he would find a way to bond with this mare after all.
Moore continued to read his book, studying up on the history of the land. This land had a very unique and interesting history, he never seen something quite like it. He flipped the page as he finished reading about the ancient search for an artifact by several adventurers, which now stood in the museum in Canterlot.
"Having fun there?" He heard. Turning to his right, he saw Twilight, levitating a pitcher of water with her magic. He smiled and nodded. Twilight tilted the pitcher and re-filled his cup, which he had finished a few minutes ago.
"Thanks." He said as he rose the cup to his lips. Setting it back down, he began reading about the history behind the events of Hearts Warming Eve.
"So, how do you think the others are doing?" Twilight asked as she grabbed her own book and began to read. Moore shrugged. HE place his hand to his chin in thought, wondering why the ponies had been living in a time of hatred for so long before getting over themselves.
"I guess they're bonding, trying to find things that interest them." He said as he flipped a page. Twilight nodded and looked out her window.
"They really are good guys, aren't they?" She asked as she turned to him. Moore looked to his right, and saw her. She was smiling, and was lying down on a mat she had laid out, no doubt trying to get comfortable. Moore smiled and nodded.
"Yeah, they are."
"You guys really are heroes."
"So you've said. I believe you." Moore smiled. This world really did feel like a second home.
A/N To [The Readers]: Sorry, no. There will not be any Human/Pony romance in this story. There will be special bonds (Father/ Daughter and Big Brother/Little Sister), but no romance. Sorry to disappoint.
Moore awoke, although he couldn't distinguish why he was unable to sleep. Was it his PTSD? No, there was nothing to activate it, that couldn't be it. He felt like something was calling him, though he wasn't sure what. That's when he heard a voice in his head.
Staff Sergeant Moore is it? Please go to the Everfree Forest, I will be waiting for you.
Moore threw his covers off and looked around the room, searching for any source to the noise. He brought his hand to his head, he was sweating. But for what reason? He wasn't hot, tired, or stressed out. There was no reason for this to be occurring. Growling in frustration, he ignored the voice's request and tried to fall back asleep. Unfortunately, it was to no avail. His eyes opened wide once again, leaving him in his aggravated state. Looking to the right, he saw his gear and his rifle. Sighing, he threw his covers off of him and proceeded to put the gear on.
Moore checked the clip in his rifle, sure enough, it was still full. He hoped he wouldn't need it. Looking out his window, he saw that it was still the dead of night, so he packed the flashlight that had originally been attached to his weapon upon first arriving. That he knew he would need. Gently, he opened the door and stepped into the main lobby of the library. Twilight was more than likely in her room, sleeping. Moore hoped that it was true. There was no need to bring her into this. Besides, if what she said was true, that forest was no place for an innocent mare such as herself. Looking to the front door, he paused. Was this really necessary? Could this wait?
"No..." He thought to himself. This needed to be taken care of now. Even if just turned out to be a simple conjuration of his imagination, he had to check it out. For the sake of his men and the ponies. No reason he couldn't be too cautious. He opened the door slightly, still no attacks. The guards were patrolling the streets, but they didn't seem to mind him walking out. No one else was awake, which was fine by him. He looked out to the forest in the distance, wondering what could be waiting for him there...
Moore snuck past Fluttershy's cottage, last thing he wanted was her getting wrapped up in this, not even Adams, he had to face this alone. Looking into the forest, he heard the voice in his head again.
Well, what are you waiting for? Step on in.
Moore backed away slightly, taken aback by the mysterious voice. Why was it bothering him? Especially at this time of the day? Moore shook the idea out of his head and trudged onward, through the dark, murky swamp. The mud caused him to slip and slide, but he managed to avoid falling. Steadying himself, he looked around the forest, still nothing in sight. Maybe this really was just his nerves on edge.
"I can assure you it is not." A voice said. Jumping, Moore turned and aimed his rifle. The light from the flashlight revealed a large blob of floating darkness. Moore raises an eyebrow, and slightly lowers his weapon. What the heck was this thing?
"Now, now, there is no need for this. Allow me to introduce myself." The blob said. Slowly, the blob fell to the ground in a black goo, and bubbled. Moore felt a little queasy at the sight of this, but he kept his sights on it. Suddenly, the goo began to form a physical object, growing larger and gaining color as it did. Two claws formed, and it became blood red. Moore gulped, but kept himself steady. He noticed his sweating increasing, now he really was stressed out. The blob formed a red head, containing no nose, and a blacked out eye. Moore stepped back slightly. Finally, the blob formed what looked like talons for feet, and stood before him, completely formed. He was bald, and had the unforgiving eye of a snake.
"I... am Mercuito." The being said as it gave a slight bow. Moore stepped forward, keeping his weapon trained on the being.
"What do you want? Why did you call me here?" Moore growls. Mercuito raises and holds out a claw in a halting position.
"There is no need to ask me questions Moore. I need to question you." Mercuito said.
"I'm not talking." Was Moore's reply.
Moore stood his ground, staring angrily at the creature, who seemed to be undeterred by him. It rose it's claw, and a dark sphere formed in it's hand, growing larger as seconds ticked by. Moore slightly lowered his weapon, staring in confusion at the item Mercuito was creating in his hand. He noticed this, and gave a fiendish smile. In his hand, a miniature Chaos Bringer formed, causing Moore to bring his rifle back to it's original spot. Mercuito chuckled.
"So you are familiar with my creations?" He asked. Moore grew wide eyed. This was the man(or whatever it was) that was causing the Chaos Bringers to attack those innocent ponies?
"You better give me some good reasons for me to not put bullets into your head." Moore shouted in anger. He took the barrel of his gun and placed it between Mercuito's eyes. He grit his teeth, growled angrily. Mercuito moved the gun away, smiling fiendishly.
"Because you are no better than I." He said. Moore raised an eyebrow in confusion.
"Tell me Moore, when your forefathers founded your land, did they treat the Native Americans well? Or did they slaughter them?" Mercuito said with a smug grin. Moore lowered his rifle and frowned. The Native Americans had been murdered brutally upon the arrival over 200 years ago. What had they done? Exactly what Mercuito was doing. The creature smiled and rose his head.
"That's what I thought." He said, his voice becoming more and more snakelike. Moore rose his eyes to Mercuito's, satisfaction obvious.
"Now, look, I am going to make you this offer once. Join me, my take over has already been delayed by your efforts. Abandon the ponies, honor you forefathers, do as they did! It is your destiny!" Moore looked back up, Mercuito had his claw stuck out, and his eyes were friendly, as was his smile. Moore wasn't deceived. In an instant, he kicked the creatures gut, and punched it to the ground. Before he could respond, Moore pulled out his Berretta and aimed it right between his eyes.
"I'm not my forefathers." He said with a solid voice. Mercuito looked upon him with disappointment, as if he was afraid this was how he would react. Good, now Moore could make his point more clear.
"I'm gonna make you THIS offer once... You stay away from these ponies, never bother them again, and I won't put a bullet between your eyes." Moore said as he growled. With that, Mercuito vanished, back into the black fog that he once was. Moore backed away, thought still determined, and ready for attack.
"You will regret this Moore... that is an promise I WILL keep." With that, the fog vanished, leaving Moore alone in the forest. Looking back to his pistol, he wondered how satisfying it would have been to pull the trigger right then and there. Why hadn't he done that? He growled and shoved it back to his side. Turning around, he looked to the night sky, illuminated by the stars. With fire in his voice, he spoke to the blackness, hoping that his message would get through to the coward.
"I promise that I will be the end of you Mercuito... Don't you forget it..."
Early Next Morning...
Rarity's Fashion Shop
"Wake up! Wake up! You promised you would be up by now!" Barns rolled over, groaning as he tried to fall asleep again. These girls were relentless, it was completely ridiculous how much they were bothering him. They continued their delusional rant as Barns shoved his pillow over his head, trying to block out the noise. This did no good however, as he felt one of them begin to bounce on him.
"Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!" The fillies cried over and over again. Groaning, he throws aside his covers and sits. The girls cheer that he's awake while he rubs his eyes to get himself fully awake. He yawns and stretches as the girls rush over to his front, and instantly bombard him with questions. He ignores them for a minute while he grabs his gear and his rifle. He checks the chamber, and there is a bullet, ready to be fired if need be.
"So whatcha think Frank? Should we go mountain climbin' or scuba divin'?" The yellow filly named Applebloom asks. Barns was pretty sure that this one was Applejack's little sister, just due to the fact she had the same accent the fact she had "apple" in her name. Looking over to them, he sees Scootaloo, Sweetie Bell, and Applebloom lined up in a single line, with the most ridiculous smiles on their faces.
"Neither." He says as he opens the door, walking downstairs.
"Well, then what do you think we should do?" Scootaloo asks, still right behind him. Barns sighs and looks behind him. The fillies still have the smiles on their faces, which seem like they would be too big to fit their small heads. Looking to each one, he sees the same thing, ignorance. But they were just children, so it really wasn't their fault.
"I don't know, now if you'll excuse me, I'm on guard duty."
Adams awakens to something rubbing against his face. He tries to nudge it away, but it persists, and he eventually has to open his eyes. Next to him is a small bunny, who is snuggled up next to his head, asleep. He gives a slight smile and closes his eyes again. This world was so peaceful, a pleasant change from the atmosphere back home. He breathed out in satisfaction, feeling like he accomplished something. Maybe that was another side effect of this world, being more positive, and feeling good all the time. Who knew?
"Ok little guy, it's time for you to wake up." He hears a gentle voice. He feels the small creature stir, and it's warmth vanishes. Opening his eyes, he looked to the right, Fluttershy stood with the tiny creature sitting on her back. She noticed him and smiled.
"You can get up too if you want." She said with kindness in her voice. Adams yawned and stretched slightly before getting up. When he looked back over, Fluttershy was giving the bunny a carrot. He shook his head to get the drowsiness out of his mind, and he couldn't help but notice the bandages around her midsection. What were they doing there? She was a pegasus right? How could she fly like that? He decided to leave it alone for now and just make something to eat. After all, it had been a good 18 hours since he'd eaten anything.
Some Random Field
Daniels quickly pushed himself up, and down again. He had to keep his strength up, 100 push ups wouldn't do themselves. His arms had only just started to get slightly tired, and he was at 69. He breathed evenly and in sync with the pushes, easing his blood flow. Eventually RD came around and stared stretching, she was remarkably flexible.
"Should've been a gymnast, never seen anything bend that much." He joking says as he counts number 81. Rainbow just laughs and continues to stretch. For the last ten push ups, Daniels claps to keep an even better sync to slow his heavy breathing. "97...98...98...99...100!" He thinks in his mind. With a victorious shout, he leaps to his feet and pumps a fist into the air. He gives a quick exhale as he makes a windmill motion with his arms, trying to loosen them up.
"Alright, you ready?" Rainbow asks as she rears down, ready to begin. Daniels smiles fiendishly and prepares to run, lining up right next to her. Yesterday might have been a tie, but she was going down today.
Sweet Apple Acres
"Pull!" Instantly, another flying disc is launched into the air, and Connors aims. With confidence, he pulls the trigger, watching as the disc explodes in the air into hundreds of shards. Looking up from his scope, Connors gives a chuckle and stands. Slinging his backpack over his shoulder, he walks over to the ladder at the side of the barn and climbs down.
"Well howdy do! That was some spectacular marksmanship!" Applejack shouts as she marks something down on a pad of paper. Connors walks over and looks down at the paper. Two columns mark the paper, one is labeled BM and the other is labeled DC. In BM's column, there are six black Xs, and two red Os. However, his column contains nothing but black Xs. He smiles and places his rifle on his shoulder. All in a day's work.
"Eeyup." Is all the large stallion says. Connors sets his gun down and grabs one of the multiple buckets of water that had been brought outside. Bringing the container to his lips, he lets the liquid fall down his parched throat, exhaling in relief when he sets it down. He and Big Macintosh shake hands(and hooves) and congratulate the other on their performance.
"Well, me and Big Macintosh gotta get back to work." Applejack says as she begins to pack up.
"Want any help?" Connors asks as he sets his rifle next to him. The two ponies look at each other and smile. Macintosh nods and AJ turns back to him.
"Sure partner, let me show ya what ya can do." Connors sets his backpack down and begins to follow the young mare. Finally, some actual hard labor, he felt like dead weight around here.
Garage, About 2 Miles from Sugar Cube Corner
Hans watches as the sparks fly from the piece of metal. He slowly adjust the torch so that it begins cutting into a different area, that way the exhaust would be even. He paused momentarily and lifted his mask. Noticing that a few things were too large, especially for something a pony would use, he sighed and flipped his mask back down.
"Something wrong Jakey?" Pinkie asks as she bounces over, hard hat on top. Hans sighs.
"I thought I told you not to call me that."
"Aw come on! Pleaseeeeee?"
"No! You can call me Jacob, but that's as casual as I'm letting it go." Pinkie sighs and looks down at the ground. Hans quickly gets back to work and starts his torch up again. He need to be more careful, one slip could cause him to mess up again. Only this time, he would have to start all over again.
"So what are you working on Jacob?"
"Found some plans for a go-cart, and I decided to try and make a solar powered version."
"OOHH! Can I help?" Looking over and pausing for a moment, Hans sees Pinkie bouncing happily, clearly excited to be spending time with him.
"Yeah sure, grab that blow torch over there and do what I do." He says as he points to a torch, which Pinkie takes enthusiastically. Hans grabs a mask and hands it over to her, which she instantly puts on. Hans draws back slightly, but chuckles. She looked ridiculous with a hard hat AND mask. Nevertheless, he tells her to watch his movements and replicate them. Sparks fly past his face, and he can hear Pinkie humming a song. She actually had a pretty good voice.
Canterlot, Royal Palace
Moore tapped his feet against the marble floor, nervously rubbing his hands. Where was the Princess? He had set up this meeting two hours ago, who knew what was going on? Twilight placed a hoof on his knee, and he looked down to her. Questioning eyes stared back at him. He looked away. This was not something that could be discussed with so many civilians walking by. This was shocking and confusing enough for him alone, who knew how an innocent pony would respond?
The doors to the meeting hall opened, and Moore instantly stood, giving his military salute. Standing there was Princess Luna, and she smiles at him. Moore doesn't move a muscle. Luna gives a slight chuckle.
"At ease Staff Sergeant." She says. Moore brings his arms down.
"Is your sister here? You both need to hear this." He says nervously. The princess nods and leads him and Twilight to the hall, where Celestia sits with that trademark smile of hers. Moore only wished he had a reason to keep that smile around.
"Good morning Staff Sergeant, what do I owe the pleasure?" She asks. Moore sits and gets right to the point.
"The thing responsible for these attacks... it showed itself to me... last night..." He says. He notices that there is more panic in his voice than intended, but it pales in comparison to the Princesses reactions. They are wide eyed, as are the guards standing beside them.
"It... It did?" Luna asks with fear in her voice. Moore nods and looks around the room. The looks are all the same, fear, and uncertainty. Exhaling, he continues.
"It was this red, devil like creature... It had a bald head, blacked out eye, these... lion like claws on it's hands and talons for feet... like some sort of owl." He feels Twilight's grip on his hand tighten, and he places his other hand on her hoof, gently placing it back down. Celestia looks over to Luna, who now carries a sympathetic look. And she nods. Celestia looks back to him, and brings one hoof to the table.
"This thing... Did it refer to itself as Mercuito?" Moore grew wide eyed.
"Y...Yeah... Do you know what this thing is?" He asked, rising in his seat. Twilight backs away and fear, but Moore quickly calms her. The Princess shares a frightened look with her sister, something that just didn't seem fit for them. Celestia stands and grows very serious.
"Come with me. All of you."
Moore ducked into a small chamber, watching as Princess Celestia nods to a guard who is hooded. She briefly speaks to him and he bows, backing away. Moore looks around the chamber, lit only by torches, so it still had the presence of being very dark. Twilight stood terrified by his side, he wasn't faring much better. His heart was beating twice as fast as normal, and he could feel it pulse in his head. He looks back over to the princesses, and there are two guards pulling a stone door open. This was all very medieval, it still had the cheery bright colors of the castle, but it felt like a different building none the less.
"Quickly, come." Celestia said, authority and power booming in her voice. Moore nods and slowly steps forward. Looking at the guards faces, there is only a blank expression. Whoever these guys were, they were good at remaining serious. Looking back to his front, Moore sees the princesses standing in front of a book case. Looking around, he notices that there is several others, though they appear dusty, like they have not been tended to for quite some time. Turning back to them, they ask him to come next to them.
"What is this place?" Moore asks.
"These are the secret archives, they are hidden away from the public due to the graphic, and horrible nature contained inside." Luna says. Moore stops for a moment, just standing there. This world had experienced atrocities before? Why hadn't this been brought up? Turning back to him, the princesses call for him to keep up.
"Were you aware of this?" He asks looking down to Twilight. The frightened mare just shakes her head as she weakly trudges forward. Moore is in a state of confusion when he is told to stop. Looking back to the princesses, he sees them motion to a table in the middle of the room. The room is lined with book shelves, much like the last one. Only, these ones appeared to have been recently read, as several books lie open on the floor.
"Please Staff Sergeant, we must explain." Celestia says with a sympathetic face, though her tone is solid. Moore nods and slowly takes a seat. Next to him, Twilight and the two guards from earlier sit. Celestia walks over to a shelf and grabs a book with her magic. She flips the pages as Luna grabs a book as well and starts searching through that one as well. Moore taps his hands against the table nervously, unprepared for what he may hear next.
The princesses find what they need and place the books on the table. Princess Celestia points to a specific area on a page and Moore begins to read.
Hostilities to the Elements of Harmony #1: Mercuito, Demon of Disharmony and Evil
Mercuito was a despicable being that arose out of Discord's violent acts. Shortly after he was defeated and Princess Celestia and Princess Luna assumed power, a strange creature arrived in Hoofington and slaughtered over twenty ponies, enslaving the rest. Upon discovery, there was a mass panic, and many more villages fell victim to his attacks. It took fourteen months to put a stop to him and he was banished to eternal darkness. But by then, over 2/3 of all the ponies in Equestria had been killed, or horribly wounded. He did not reappear for another 300 years, until Princess Luna was corrupted, and became the fearsome Nightmare Moon. The long imprisonment in darkness had driven him insane, and he had learned how to create creatures of darkness, who feasted on the blood of ponies. Alone, Princess Celestia was forced to set up a more forceful program for royal guards, forcing young stallions to come to service, in order to protect the civilians. It took two years for the Guards to push back his offensives. In the third month of the third year, a mass offensive, consisting of over 15,000 Royal Guards and some 90,000 other forces due to town militias. The death toll was massive, consisting of over half of the guards as well as nearly 1/3 of all the militias. When captured, Mercuito was banished back to the darkness, but this time, was also cursed to know what was happening to him, and unable to become insane, so he would suffer trauma for all time. The effects were long lasting though, over 3/4 of all the ponies in Equestria were killed, with another 1/2 of the survivors being either severely traumatized or mentally unstable. A state of mourning was declared, and lasted for 2 months. This period of mourning occurred every year and would stretch from the day on which the first attack began, and the day Manehatten was rescued from annihilation. 200 years after the second attack began, Princess Celestia noticed a mass state of panic among the citizens. Reluctantly, she erased memories of the events surrounding Mercuito, and ordered all books detailing him removed from public archives. Royal Guards are taught about Mercuito, and are considered one of the few things that they are not allowed to speak of in front of innocent civilians. Mercuito is currently locked away in darkness, as he will remain as long as no chaotic events occur.
Moore stared wide eyed at the page, he couldn't believe that something this horrible could happen to a race this peaceful. Coming out of his trance, he started by asking who Discord was, which was explained in great detail by the princesses. A despicable monster who left Equestria in an eternal state of disharmony and chaos. Regardless, he seemed like a saint compared to this guy.
"But... why is he doing this?" Moore asks. The Princesses shake their heads.
"We do not know, but it is obvious that he wants to control Equestria. As well keeping very few ponies alive to work as slaves." Celestia explained. Luna let her head fall and shed a tear.
"That second attack could have prevented if I had just been more understanding..." She said. She began to weep, and Celestia comforted her. Looking back at the book, Moore thought for a moment. This guy showed up whenever violent, chaotic events occurred, so there had to have been something to trigger it. Turning to Twilight, he tried to ask her, but she was overcome with fear and shock. The guards simply sighed and shook their heads. Thinking again, he thought for a moment...
"What chaotic events have occurred recently?" He asked as he stood. Looking to him, Luna sniffed and stepped forward.
"Well, Discord was revived from his stone prison, and the Elements were briefly corrupted..." She said with a shaky voice. Moore nods, looking back to the guards, who still stand there, seeming troubled.
"But that couldn't have been it... It's been a year since that happened." Twilight said, finally out of her trance, though she still breathed heavily. Moore realized something.
"Because he knew you would still be on alert..." He said out loud. The Princess raised an eyebrow as Moore stood.
"Of course! It's so simple! Mercuito knew you would still be on edge from Discord, so he waited for you to be off guard, that way, he could have the element of surprise when he attacked!" He shouted. The ponies considered this, and agreed. Then Moore began to think again, wondering how this tactician could be beat against his own game, surely his arrival of him had not been expected, but now what?
That's when it hit him. Moore looked around the library, finding a map of the land, and spread it out across the table.
"I need to know some areas that have been taken over." He says as he places books on the edges to keep it unfolded. The princesses stare at him in confusion, but list of a couple of names. Moore writes down the towns named, which include Manehatten, Hoofington, Mareami, Kansas Hay City, and numerous others. Moore grins and observes the map.
"That's just it then... he doesn't expect any offensive strikes... That would be against logic, and he knows it. We need to disturb his logic. Liberate some cities, increase the amount of civilians we can keep protected, probably would get more Royal Guards to help out in the fight too." He said as he drew some battle plans. The Princesses and the guards watch in anticipation, watching as he carefully planned tactic after tactic. Soon they even started helping out.
"Our soldiers will stick out like cats in a dog park, stealth isn't an option." A guard said as he observed a small area representing a town called Baltimare. Moore thinks for a moment, thinking of what to do. He gains a devilish grin, and leans forward.
"Then we just have to kick down the front door." He says. Turning to Princess Celestia, he sees her nod in agreement. Moore draws out a few plans, and points to Baltimare.
"This is the closest city, so that's where we'll start. Princess, with your permission, I would like to lead a battalion of guards and my squad in to liberate the area."
"You have my permission."
"Yes... I agree."
"Then let's get started."
Baltimare... Approximately 15 Hours Later...
"Snipers in position." Moore looks through his binoculars observantly, watching as Chaos Bringers whip, maim, and torture the ponies in town. He couldn't stand this.
"Attention all units, radio check." Moore says as he increases the power of the binoculars. A father is defending a child, and from the looks of it, he isn't holding out too well.
"Bravo-2 Reporting in."
"Alpha-1 Checking in"
"Delta-4 Ready to go."
Moore places his hand to his ear, activating his radio com to the Princess.
"Come in Mother Bird, this is Strike Team, all units have reported in and are ready, waiting on your go."
"Staff Sergeant this is Mother Bird, you're free and clear."
Moore returns his sights to the binoculars and zooms in a group of ponies near what looks like farming fields.
"All units, Operation Equestrian Liberty is a go, now in progress." Looking back to the field, he gives the signal for Alpha to move in.
"Snipe Team, provide cover and overwatch at Alpha's Location."
"Roger, I have a visual. No sight on hostiles yet." Moore looks over to Specialist Adams, who is standing next to him, ready to attack. With Daniels leading Delta, Barns leading Bravo, and Hans leading Alpha, he was left to assist the Strike Team. He appears nervous, but still determined.
"This is Alpha, escorting civies now." He hears.
"Good work Alpha, Delta you're up."
"Hooah." Moore adjusts his sights slightly and tries to spot Delta, but is unable to. After a few seconds of searching, he does manage to find them. In front of them, about forty meters, a group of Chaos Bringers is clawing at the dead body of a pony, slurping it's blood. Moore resists the urge to vomit and warns Delta.
"Snipe Team, do you have a visual?"
"Aye, I can see em'. It's gonna take a minute to get the shot lined up correctly." Moore checks over to the side, Daniels has a halting sign in front of the Royal Guards, and they freeze. Looking back to the Chaos Bringers, Moore checks on the condition of the pony. As if by chance, the pony still shows weak signs of life, eliminating Moore's first thought of thinking he was dead.
"That one's alive! Hurry before they kill him!"
"Say goodnight you monsters..." Within a fraction of a second, Moore sees all three targets drop, and the remaining one is picked off by Daniels. The stallion looks up as a group of guards grab him and pull him to cover. The Chaos Bringers fade away as the Delta proceeds.
"Bravo, this is Strike Team, enter through the back door."
"Roger, en route." Looking back over to Delta, they have reached the target building, and Daniels opens the door rifle first. As he walks in, Moore once again adjusts his sights, now looking upon Bravo, who are sneaking up on a group of hostiles. They take them out silently, and Moore looks away.
"Alpha, move in, plant the explosives."
"How long till' you kick in the front door?"
"That will commence once you get those civies out of there, they are our top priority right now." Looking back through the binoculars, he sees Bravo eliminate a few more hostiles before moving into another farm field. Stealth wasn't an option, but pacing themselves was. He lowers his binoculars and looks over to Adams, and the several guards behind them.
"Just a little longer gentlemen, we have em' right where we want em'." He says. Adams seems impatient, but he nods. Looking back to the town, Moore sees a patrol of Chaos Bringers moving in on Delta's position, who are busy freeing tied up ponies.
"Delta hold your position! I count 15+ enemy foot mobiles near your location, I'll try to contact other teams to help you out." Moore says as he contacts Alpha and Snipe Team.
"Uh... Negative Staff Sergeant, I don't have enough time to take em' all out by myself. "
"With our help you can. Let's get this over with." Moore counts backward from three, and tells them to start shooting. The combined fire from Delta, Alpha, and the Snipe Team overwhelms the hostiles, and they fall.
"Delta you are clear to proceed, nice work teams."
"Strike Team this is Bravo, civies have been successfully lead to the extraction zone, weather balloons are en route to our position."
"Copy that, get to your marked locations, Strike Team is moving in, let's break em' down." Moore puts away his binoculars and brings his rifle to his front. Looking to Adams, he nods. The Specialist smiles and pulls out a remote, which will activate Alpha's explosives. Adams counts backward from three, and Moore tells the Guards to be ready. Upon reaching zero, Adams presses down on the remote.
The shock wave from the explosions shake the foundations of buildings, as well as causing Chaos Bringers to evaporate into the air. Moore gives a vicious shout and charges forward, Guards and Adams right behind him. The Chaos Bringers charge forward, ready to fight. Moore opens fire while still sprinting, as does Adams.
"Now! Bravo, hit em' from behind!" Moore shouts as he drops an empty clip from his gun. Gunfire and battle cries can be heard from behind as the Chaos Bringers erupt into chaos. Moore couldn't help but chuckle at the irony.
"Alpha, move in!" He shouts as he dives behind an overturned wagon. He sees Barns rush out, firing like a mad man. The Guards have equal fighting spirit, as they pounce on creature after creature.
"Delta, hit em' hard!" Moore shouts as he pops back up, firing on the enemy forces. Instantly, Daniels shows up from nowhere, opening fire from the side. Moore rushes forward to him, releasing another empty clip. As he reaches them, he ducks down and tosses his last grenade. It eliminates several hostiles before he moves back to his rifle.
"All squads this is Snipe Team, we got several hostiles retreating to a nearby forest, recommend you send someone in to take care of em'."
"Delta, you can move the most quickly, get it done." Moore says as he fires one final clip into the retreating hostiles. Breathing a sigh of relief, Moore looks around, only a few guards have been injured, and not severely. He smiles as he places his hand to his ear.
"Come in Mother Bird, this is Strike Team."
"Baltimare is secure, send in the recreation team to help re-build."
"Well done Staff Sergeant, I knew you could do it. Weather balloons are ten minutes out, be ready for evacuation for the injured. You did good work today. Thank you." Moore smiles as he checks on the civies, one in particular glares at him.
"Yeah, I have a problem with you..." Moore backs away slightly and raises an eyebrow.
"I just set you free, you're..."
"Set us free? If you even cared you wouldn't have let us get captured in the first place! This just shows how much those stupid princesses care!" A stallion next to him places a hoof on the first one's shoulder, and he shakes him away.
"Never trust a creature with two legs... That I learned from minotaurs." He says as he angrily walks away. Moore sighs. Guess some ponies just weren't on his side.
One Week After the Liberation of Baltimare... Some Random Field...
Moore poked at the fire with a stick, trying to keep it alive. Around him, his fellow soldiers and ponies sat, all conversing with one another. After the liberation of three more towns after Baltimare, the princesses insisted they take a small break, and just enjoy some outdoor time. Moore wanted to object, but his squad mates were exhausted, and he didn't have much energy either. Sighing, he looked around the field. Despite having wide open areas, there were still plenty of trees. Though they were spread apart from each other by quite a distance. The fire emanated a red glow, coating everything in a flickering color. Moore looked to the sky, trying to imagine what the situation must be like back on Earth. Chaotic probably, those aliens had already taken a toll on the planet before he had been transported here. Was New York still standing? Was...
"John!" He hears. Snapping out of his train of thought he looks over to Twilight. The mare is holding out a s'more, smiling away. Moore hesitates, but takes the snack. He isn't really hungry, but it was a campout. Might as well enjoy himself. The marshmallow sticks to his chin as he takes a bite of the treat.
"You know, I think we should talk about our childhoods. After all, that's the best way to know about your friends." Twilight said as she smiled. The ponies instantly agreed, but the soldiers were a bit hesitant. Before anyone else got a chance, Pinkie began talking. She went on and on about how she had been on a rock farm, which eventually was shut down.
"After that, I looked around for anywhere to get some work and live, and I came here! The Cakes had needed some help for a while, and they let me try working in the kitchen. And as my super duper luck would have it, I was good at baking! I loved making the tasty treats! At first we were just friends, but over time we became one big super happy family!" She shouts with glee as she leaps into the air. The ponies chuckle while Hans holds his hand to his head.
"What about you Jakey?" Hans frowned and glared at the party pony, but she maintained her positive face.
"First... Don't call me that... for the tenth time. And yes... I have been counting." He began. Pinkie just laughed, which was quickly followed by a snort. Moore just chuckled and shook his head. He could only imagine what the Corporal had been going through over the past week.
"Second, I had a pretty normal childhood. My parents weren't perfect, but they loved each other. I was the middle child of five, and my dad was a sports nut. My older brother was interested in computers, but I loved to play football and baseball with my old man. Whenever we went outside, my little sister and brother would always follow us and we would have a two on two. My mom would bring out fresh lemonade and cookies when we were done." Hans smiled and chuckled.
"This one time, my parents and I played a prank on my brother. What we did, was we took his bed while he was sleeping, carried out to the front yard, locked the doors, and poured ice cold water on his face. I swear he was shivering for three days straight." He said as he began laughing. The others also chuckled, it was a pretty funny prank. Hans eventually calmed down and told them that he got varsity on his school's football and baseball teams. After college, he signed up for the army. His family was very supportive, and sent him letters and books when he asked for them.
"Well you had something I didn't then. A dad." Connors said as he leaned back on a log. Hans turned to him and asked what he meant. Moore leaned forward, this was interesting.
"I mean my dad walked out on me when I was born. I'm 26 years old, and I've never met my biological father. My dad had seven children, from five different women. He was a jerk according to my mom. Still, even with that information in my head, I still felt like I needed to prove myself. But I never could. There was always some bully who was better than me. The fact that he was better than me didn't bother me. It was the fact that they flaunted it in my face that made me so upset. My mom did her best, but I still felt like there weren't any guys I could talk to. Without a dad, I was a terrible son. I skipped curfews, was a brat, and acted like a jerk towards my mom. That all changed when I was fourteen. The next door neighbor caught me trying to steal some of his groceries. What amazed me is that instead of calling the cops, he pulled me over and asked if I was alright. I was a bit cautious at first, but I relaxed when I noticed he was minister at a nearby church. Turns out he had married one of my dad's other wives. My mom had someone she could relate to, and I met and half-brother Daniel. He wasn't faring much better than I had, and I felt like I had someone I could understand. And most importantly, someone who knew what I was going through. But I still had done a lot of crap in my life, and I created some really bad relationships." Connors sighed and leaned further against fallen tree, tossing a leaf into the fire. It ignited into an inferno as he continued.
"Not having a dad... it scarred me in more ways than I could count." He said as he shook his head. He sighed and slouched against the tree. Moore fumbled with his hands as he took in what his second in command had just shared. He had heard about the fathers that walked out on their children, but he had never known how devastating the effects could be.
"Gee Derek... Ah thought I had it bad when my dad died when I was twelve, but that there story... makes me happy that Ah even had a dad that cared fer me." AJ said as he placed a hoof on his hand. Connors shook his head and looked away.
"At least you had a mom that cared... I came from an abusive home..." Adams said as he stared at the ground. Moore's head darted to the Specialist, who was already rubbing the back of his head. An abusive home? That must have been hell to go through.
"My mom and dad adored my older brother and sister, but they always hated me. I was the odd one out. They loved sports, I liked writing. But... my parents always hated it. They spoiled my siblings, they got anything they wanted, while I just got scraps to live by. They always made fun of me... how I was the runt of the litter. What's worse, I was pegged with all the chores, and if I didn't do it right..." He took his hands and smacked his hands together, causing the ponies to jump back slightly.
"They beat me. I tried several different attitudes to try and avoid getting beaten more than that. I tried being rebellious, but my dad just beat me within an inch of my life. After that I tried for sympathy, but I just got mocked and was loaded with more chores. Finally, I tried respect. That did the trick, and I was almost never beaten. Still, they made fun of me... called me dead weight... said I wasn't capable of doing anything..." Adams began to sniffle, and he brought his hand to his eyes, and began crying softly. Fluttershy comforted him and Moore placed a hand on his shoulder. There was no excuse for doing that to a child... no matter what. Adams sniffed and looked back up, having calmed down.
"When I met Frank, I was on the verge of suicide. I was just about to start when he came in. He invited me to a hangout with his other friends, even though he was a junior and I was only a freshman. I went, and had the best time of my life. The people there asked about my story, and there were even a few who had gone through something similar. I hung out with them every day. They saved my life." He said as he smiled at Barns. Frank just winked and chuckled.
"Well, how about it Frank, what was your childhood like?" Moore asked as he released Jack's shoulder from his grasp. Frank shrugged, saying that his childhood was nothing special. His parents got divorced when he was six, but they eventually reconciled and got back together when he was nine. It was also then that he got his kid sister Emily. He loved and watched over her like a hawk. Other than that, he didn't have much to say. That just left Daniels.
"Well Hank, what was your childhood like?" Rainbow asked. Daniels sighed and sat back.
"Well... It was okay I guess. I had a dad that loved and cared for my mom. And she did the same for him. One day, I told my dad I wanted to be just like him. He just smiled and told me to get some rest. Of course, I was really little, so I hopped out and followed him. I checked his room, and found him praying. He was asking God to let him be a good example for me, and I knew instantly that I had made the right choice. As for my mom, she would always work mid-day to mid-night, so I didn't get to see her much." He smiled.
"So I would always stay up and wait for her to come home. When she did, she would always smile, hug me, and ask me about my day. We would just sit in the living room for hours, talking to each other... asking about our days... dad would sometimes come and join in, as would my little sister Jessica. I loved those nights, we were one big happy family. But..." His smile faded, and he sighed.
"That all changed when my mom was diagnosed with cancer. She became really sick, and couldn't do anything. My dad never left her side, and when me and Jessica got home from school, we were right by her side. She fought the disease for a little over a year, but..." Daniels sighed and placed his head to his hand, and rubbed his forehead.
"The cancer killed her... didn't it?" Moore asked. Daniels shook his head.
"No she survived that cancer, but she had a stroke the very next day. That's what killed her. After that... my dad was never the same. He lived like someone who was already dead. He barely ate, almost never interacted with us, and all he did at night was stare at the wall with tears in his eyes. I never got mad at him, because he was just so heartbroken. I did force him to eat, and I even checked in on him and Jessica every once in a while when I wasn't busy with college. On my mom's birthday, we take him out to his favorite restaurant, and that cheers him up. He says he sees a lot of her in us, and that makes him feel better. I still miss my mom, but Jessica's a lot like her in so many ways. I feel like as long as she's alive, I'll always have a piece of my mom with me." Daniels smiled slightly. Looking to Rainbow, he rubbed her mane and smiled.
"What about you? What's your story?" He said as he took his hand away. Rainbow shrugged.
"I don't really have any sad or heartwarming stories like you guys. My childhood was just... ok. My dad was a big race star, and loved to practice flying with me. I liked it too. Whenever he beat me, which was almost always, he would just smile and say I did well. My mom was pretty cool too, she would always take me to wonderbolts shows, and even bought me a wonderbolts hat once. I still have it, but it's too small now. When I got kicked out of flight school, my dad was a little disappointed, but he still loved me. He even agreed to home school me so I wouldn't fall behind. Still, I was really social, not as social as Pinkie, but I had a good number of friends." She said. Moore nods and looks over to Twilight. Most of her life had just been her parents trying to keep her from becoming a snob like so many ponies in Canterlot. Mission Accomplished. Aside from that, they always made sure she had plenty of books to read. When she showed interest in magic, they set up an audition with Celestia's school. Since becoming her protégée, they always checked up on her and visited every so often, during which they would always sit down, chat, and have a good time. AJ was just a farm girl, raised on the farm, very responsible, loving family, lots of respect, the average farm tale. Rarity was a fashion freak from the start. She always loved designing, which actually started with her just drawing out her ideas. Eventually, she got her chance in a school play, and while her costumes came out pretty good, there was nothing special about them. So she said. When she started using gems to decorate her clothes, she became a hit. Everyone in town was asking her to make them clothes, and she was very popular. That just left Fluttershy.
"What about you Fluttershy?" Moore asked. She looked down sheepishly. Had she had a bad childhood? Moore got up and sat next to her, as Adams put a hand on her shoulder. Once Jack had reassured her, she managed to speak up.
"Well... My dad was a famous racer too, but he was really strict about it. He tried to make me a show pony to, but I was too shy. H-H-He got really angry at me sometimes, and shouted at me. My mom took the worst of it though, and she would always comfort me whenever he had yelled at me. She was the one who introduced me to animals by taking me to zoos. When I got my cutie marks, she was really happy for me. My dad was a different story. He..." The pegasus teared up slightly and whimpered. She hugged Adams as a tear fell from her eye. Adams wrapped his arms around her and stroked her mane. She trembled, and the others quickly got up and comforted her. When she calmed down, the others backed away slightly, although she still held on Jack's hand slightly.
"He disowned me. He kicked me out of the house, and told me never to come back. I guess that was the last straw, because I heard my mom yelling, and she walked out of the house crying. She took my hoof and we flew to Ponyville together. When Rainbow heard about what had happened, she came around would visit me everyday after she was finished with flight school. I still attended, but it took a longer time to get there. Rainbow's dad was like a real dad to me. He would take both our families to racing shows and zoos all the time, and that was when I really felt like I had a family. My mom still lives really close to me, and I visit her a lot." She smiled and looked up to Rainbow, who was also smiling. Moore looked around the campfire, seeing the happy faces of his men and of the ponies. Eventually they asked about his childhood.
"Well, my mom was at work a lot, and my dad was in the army, so I didn't see him too often. When I got home from school, I would be on my own for an hour or two until my mom got home. When that happened, we always talked with each other, and she would always ask how my day went. Sometimes we would watch TV, although she would get confused pretty easily. When my dad was around, he would always treat us to a good meal, some baseball games, and other stuff. He loved my mom and I, and would always try to send cards and letters on valentine's day, our birthdays, Christmas, Easter, and Father's day. I loved my old man, and always spent as much time with him as I could. When he retired, he was always around, and we were a complete family. Those were the best four years of my life. But... then came 9/11..." He said as he looked at the ground. Twilight looked at him and nodded. Sighing, Moore retold the bloody, horrible tale that occurred on that day. When he finished, he brought his hands to his head, and sighed. That story never got any easier to tell.
After a few minutes of silence, the group sprung back to life, sang campfire songs, and made s'mores. Stories were exchanged, smiles made, laughs given. As night fell, Moore laid out under the stars, staring at them with wonder. More people had hard pasts than he thought, guess he wasn't so alone after all.
Two Days Later...
Sweet Apple Acres...
"Are you sure? Seaddle was deemed dangerous and ordered to be quarantined, yah sure that's where yer headed?" Applejack asked. Connors loaded another magazine into his backpack and slung it over his shoulder. Looking down to the orange farm mare, he saw a look of fear, confusion, and concern.
"Positive. The Staff Sergeant was very clear." He says. Connors quickly checks his rifle, sure enough there is a bullet in the chamber. Connors steps out of the door of the guest room and heads downstairs. Applejack follows closely behind, still seeming unsure of this. Connors looks back and sighs.
"Look, John is one of the best tacticians I've ever met, he's sure to have a foolproof plan." He says with certainty. Secretly though, he wasn't too sure. He had dealt with crazies back in Iraq, and every time they lost at least one guy. Hopefully that wouldn't happen this time. With fire in his eyes, he throws open the main door and steps outside.
"Derek, just be careful out there, a group of Royal Guards were sent to that town, but they never came back." Applejack said. Connors froze. That was actually a little intimidating. But hey, he was a soldier, he had been through a lot worse. Or at least he hoped he had...
Rarity's Fashion Shop...
"So... There was no response from any of them?" Barns asked. Rarity shook her head and frowned. Barns slumped in his chair, rubbing his hand through his hair. A battalion of 120 guards... And NONE of them got back home safely? Sighing, he placed his hands together and leaned against the table. The odds just kept getting stacked against them. They were already outnumbered... Now they had evidence to back up the stories? Barns picked up the letter that had been sent and read over it again. Yep, it was definitely Seaddle.
"Frank? Are you ok?" Rarity asked. Looking up, Barns saw her sympathetic face. He shook his head and sighed again as he stood up from his chair. He walked up the stairs and found his LMG. He paused for a moment. This was a suicide mission. He just knew it. Even if he made it out alive, he had a bad feeling that someone wouldn't... What was John getting them into?
Adams walked outside, and paused momentarily. Looking around, he saw the peaceful scenery, which he knew would soon be replaced by battle cries and shouts of pain. He shook his head. He was so sick of war. How did the veterans live with it? All the pain, gore, and loss? He couldn't comprehend it. He hears a small whimper and looks to the side. Chuckling slightly, he watches as Fluttershy tries desperately to hop up to a nest of birds with worms in her mouth. No doubt trying to feed the birds. Walking up, he watches her try to hop up once again, but with no success.
"Up you go." He says as he lifts her up to his shoulders. Fluttershy stumbles slightly, but Adams adjusts to keep her balanced. She looks down to him and gives as much of a smile she can manage. She turns her head back up and drops the worms into the nest, and tries to get the taste out of her mouth once she does. Adams chuckles slightly and kneels down, allowing her to hop down.
"Don't worry, you'll be able to do that by yourself by tomorrow." He said as he gave her mane a quick rub. The doctors said that her wings would be ready for reattachment tomorrow, and she would be ready to fly a few days after that. What had happened to her on that day was horrendous, how could anyone do that to her? She giggles slightly. Her smile is replaced with a frown when she sees him in his uniform as well as his rifle.
"You're going off to fight again?" She asked sadly. Adams sighed and nodded. If it were up to him, he would just stay here, but it wasn't. Orders were orders, no matter how ridiculous they seemed. He had heard the stories of Seaddle from ponies in town, and he was in no rush to get there. Fluttershy asks him to promise to return safely. Adams smiles and says he'll be the first one to see her with her wings back.
Just Outside Rainbow's Cloud Home...
Rainbow watched as Hank slipped on his battle gear, frowning as he went. She could tell that her friend didn't want to do this. But he had no choice. Looking to her right, he sees his helmet sitting on the ground. Gently she takes it in her teeth and flies up to the man. He has just finished placing the pouches along his waist when he looks up to see her. He gives a slight grin and takes the helmet. He stares at it momentarily and shakes his head. Rainbow raises an eyebrow.
"What's wrong?" She asked. Hank looked back up to the flying mare and sighed.
"Just some pre-battle jitters I guess." He says as he places the helmet on his cranium and gives it a quick pat. He looks up to the sky and grins slightly. It must have been nice to live here back when it was peaceful. No worries, no humans to freak you out, must have been nice. Rainbow grins slightly and tells him to get going. He challenges her to a race when he gets back, and she accepts.
Sugar Cube Corner...
Hans quickly paced his ammunition. Checking his belt again, he made sure he had all of the frags and smoke grenades. Sure enough, they were there. He gives his belt a quick pack as he does one last check on his weapons. One SCAR-L assault rifle, one Fiveseven, one claymore, three frag grenades, four smoke grenades, and one combat knife. He gives of a sigh of relief, his supplies were in good order. He begins to pack up when Pinkie comes walking in, carrying the letter he had received this morning. He frowned. He was hoping he could get out of here before she noticed. He sighs and rises to his feet as she walks closer to him. She sets down the note and looks at him sympathetically. Unfortunately, Hans has no time for sympathy. He had to get moving. Right now.
"Jacob... Promise me you'll make it back okay, we still have that last go cart to finish." She says. Hans freezes. There is pain, and more shockingly, a dead seriousness in her voice. She must have been really scared, there was no way she would do that normally. Looking back, he sees that she does indeed carry much fear, as she trembles greatly and tries to hold back tears. Hans nods and walks out the door. Leaving the scared, and confused Earth Pony to her own thoughts.
Moore slowly walked up to the door and froze. He looked down at his hand, which was grasping the door knob with an iron grip. Despite this, his arms felt like pool noodles, and his mind begged for ease, but he would not receive his relief.
"John?" He hears from behind. Looking back, he sees Twilight, levitating a box in the air with her magic. Moore squints at the object, trying to distinguish could be inside it. Twilight walks closer and lets the object fall. She walks up to the box and places a hoof on it before pausing.
"I asked the girls to lend me their necklaces for a little while. This was why." Gently, she removed the top of the box, revealing six badges, each varying in color. Moore kneels down and observes them for a moment, trying to distinguish what they are. His eyes widen when he realizes what they are. They're pieces of the Element necklaces and tiara from the girls. Spotting the purple one, he takes it cautiously and inspects it. It's surrounded by a metal, which had been painted blue, white, and red. The colors of the American flag.
"I thought that these might give you inspiration out there. I know how scary it must be to go there, I heard the initial reports." She says with a grim expression. Moore smiles and looks up to the mare. This was an extraordinary gift. He takes the needle of the purple pendant and sticks it into the sleeve of his uniform, just under the US flag and right above his Staff Sergeant insignia.
"Thank you Twilight. These will definitely rally my men." He places the lid back on the box and stands, carrying it underneath one arm.
"Be careful out there." She says with dread in her voice. Looking back, Moore gives a serious, somewhat forced determined look on his face. He nods and walks out, ready to face the challenge ahead.
Seaddle... 2 Hours Later...
Moore observed the dome that surround the large city. Seaddle was a barren wasteland, inside the dome lay a city in ruin. Buildings lay destroyed, blood littered the ground, though the bodies were nowhere to be seen. This was all very strange.
"Connors, confirm visual on target."
"Roger that Staff Sergeant, I have eyes on." Moore inspects his allies, each has attached the pendant of the pony they were living with. Looking to the guards, they carry good luck charms given to them by their families, each with the hope and intention of bringing them home safely. Moore gives a breath, and brings his hand to his ear.
"Mother Bird, we've arrived. Lower the shield."
"Lowering shield now." From the top, the dome slowly receded. The guards backed away slightly, but Moore threw his arm up to signal them to steady. His own breathing was not in the best shape, but he would manage. The shield gives off a slight hissing noise as it falls slowly to the ground, leaving room for the team to move in.
"No turning back..." He hears Adams say. Moore pats him on the back and moves forward, ordering the others to follow him.
"Mother Bird we're in, moving forward with the plan."
"Roger Staff Sergeant. Be careful, we've already lost this city even with over a hundred guards."
"Don't worry, we'll be careful." Moore reaches a door and holds out his arm. The guards and his men halt, and Moore slowly comes next to the door. He places his rifle forward, barrel first, and opens the door. He turns on his flashlight and looks around. There is a creaking door that is hanging by only one latch, a busted chair and a pool of blood, but no signs of life. He raises his hand and points at Barns, and then points at the hanging doorway.
"Got it, I'll check it out." He says as he brings his LMG forward. He slowly walks forward with ten guards, while Moore orders Adams to follow him while the others stand watch. Adams brings his rifle forward and follows his CO. Down a long hallway is a flight of stairs, though they appear weak, and strained. Moore tests the steps a few times, and though they creak under his weight, they seem safe to walk up on.
"Staff Sergeant this is Connors, there's a black fog heading into your position, recommend you keep at least one light source handy." He hears.
"Copy that Sergeant, we'll be ready for it." Moore places his back to a wall as the stairwell begins to wind, and peeks his head out from the corner.
"Clear." He brings his weapon forward once more, and checks corners of the stair well. The two Rangers reach a door way, and Moore checks the handle. Surely enough, it's unlocked. Moore gives Adams a nod and kicks down the door. He quickly places his back to the wall as his comrade charges in. He waits a few seconds until Adams deems it safe, and he walks in. Inside the room are wrecked paintings, destroyed pieces of furniture, and lifted floor panels. Moore notices a desktop still standing and decides to investigate. On the top of table is a journal, beaten and torn. He cautiously opens the first few pages, revealing a journal entry. Shocker. Moore motions for Adams to come closer and observes the entry.
Friday, August 18th
Today there was another outbreak, seven guards were attacked and absorbed the dark creatures. Three died right away, but the other four lost their sanity and started exhibiting symptoms. This breed of creatures seems to occupy the bodies of ponies and then corrupts them into becoming a hybrid. A vaccine is in the making, but it has been slow. Currently, there are sixty-seven who have become infected, and it does not seem to be communicable from those who carry the disease. Regardless, a cure must be found, or we will lose the town.
Moore is taken back, there were creatures who could corrupt the ponies? He tries to shake it off as he flips to the next page.
Monday, August 21st
It's been three days since my last entry... More have become infected, and the hunt for a vaccine is being abandoned. The creatures have all possessed a pony's body, and there over 2000 in the city. An evacuation by the Princess has been called, but it's too late for me. The creatures are waiting by my door, trying to break it down. If you are reading this, this is my final testimony and will. I pray that you will not suffer my fate.
"Staff Ser... C... he... me?" Moore comes out of his trance at the sound of the static words.
"Hello? Who is this?"
"Staff... Moo... there is too... ference... We... n't..." The signal ends, and Moore is unable to hear who ever was trying to contact him. He tries hitting the radio, but all he gets is bursts of static, then nothing.
"What's wrong sir?" Adams asks. Moore shakes his head.
"Lost communications, we're completely in the dark." After trying to find a few more entries, they give up and head back downstairs. He's just about to leave when Barns calls him over.
"John... you need to see this..." He says. Moore pauses for a moment, wondering what could be so important as to needing his attention. He walks through the doorway, and freezes, his mouth instantly hanging slightly open. It's a pony, but it's eyes have been pulled from it's sockets, leaving blood dropping from empty holes in it's head. It's head is impaled with a large nail, as is it's rear, leaving it suspended on the far wall. It's midsection has been cut open, leaving a pool of dripping blood onto the tile floor. At the end of the blood puddle is a message inscribed in blood. It says but one thing:
Feast on the Blood... Make them Die...
Twenty Minutes Later...
The darkness around Moore felt unnatural, and strange. Communications were still down. Nothing was present, this place was a ghost town.
"Man I got nothing dude... this place is dead..." Hans says as he looks around with his flashlight.
"Hooah." Daniels said in agreement. Just then a thumping noise is heard from a nearby house, and Moore turns to look at it. The wind echoes in his ear as he moves closer. It is dead quiet, but Moore knows that something is there. Raising his hand, and extends one finger in the direction of the door, and his team complies. A moan sounds and Moore steps back slightly. A guard begins to tremble, and Moore has to calm him slightly. Barns slowly opens the door, revealing a slightly open hatch in the middle of the room.
"Okay... THAT's normal..." Barns says sarcastically.
"Cut the chatter, we don't want to alert whatever's down there." Moore says as he opens the hatch. Cobwebs break apart as the door lifts away, revealing a dark, narrow passage way, going downward by stairs. He inspects the area with his flashlight.
"We're going down there are you nuts?" He hears Daniels ask.
"Staff Sergeant, I have to disagree with this." The captain of the guards says. Moore looks up to him.
"For all we know there are innocents down there, and they need our help. Now come on. We have a job to do." Moore lowered himself into the hole, and was soon followed by Adams and Barns, who didn't appear to be panicked by this. With time, the others also made their way down. The team finds themselves in a dark passage way, lit only by a scant few amount of torches on the walls. Moore shook his head. What was this a horror movie?
"Proceed with caution..." He says as he makes his way through the tunnel. He sweeps left and right several times, trying to make sure that nothing is there, but the chatter of his comrades is nerve racking.
"What are we gonna do now man?" Daniels asks.
"I'm freaking out man! I don't..." Hans tries to say.
"Shut up! Get a grip you two! We have the advantage, now stop whining like a bunch of sissies and take point." Moore says. He hears one of them gulp as one leads the way forward. A thump sounds and the young private almost screams, but is blocked by Barns' hand. Checking his right, Moore sees a small door, that is connected to a latch. He pulls up a hand, signaling the troops to stop. There seems to be hushed whispers inside. Moore slowly crouches down and grabs the latch. He pauses for a moment before wrapping his fingers around it. Even with his gloves on, he can feel the strange, almost corpse like coolness fill his hand. He begins to shake slightly, knowing that this affliction is not his PTSD, but fear. Come on, get a grip... He tells himself. Holding his breath, he gives the door a slight push, and it opens. Gun first, he walks in, signaling the others to follow.
"Anyone there?" He asks. Another thump sounds, and he turns to the direction of it. Daniels starts to pant heavily while Hans begins to ask for forgiveness of his sins.
"Will you two knock it off?" Moore says, nearing a shout.
"Hurry! They're getting closer!" He hears in a hushed tone. He turns, trying to find the source.
"Hello? Who's there?" He calls. He raises his gun slightly and tells Adams to take point. He nods and moves. Just then something shouts and pounces on him. Adams manages to flip it over his shoulder and slam it onto the floor. Afterwards pointing his rifle at it.
"Please no! Don't hurt me!" It shouts. Moore tells the Specialist to stand down, and he shines a flashlight, revealing a trembling female pegasus.
"Stand down! It's a civilian." He says. A couple of Guards rush over and help her up, although she's still breathing heavily. She backs away when she sees John and his men, and almost screams.
"Please don't freak out!" Barns nearly shouts. The pegasus stops mid scream and her eyes dart around the room. Barns keeps his hand held out, and the pony eventually shuts her mouth.
"What... What are you?" She asks with a trembling voice. Moore introduces himself and the others, after which another group of ponies reveal themselves, although cautious. The ponies reveal that they are all that's left of the "healthy" population, and the Chaos Bringers corrupted pony bodies, giving them more strength, abilities, and stamina. Moore takes this all in as they ask him to get them out of the city. They say there's only about 80 of them left, so it shouldn't be too hard. Just then, Moore hears a voice.
"You should have listened to the warnings Staff Sergeant." Moore turns his attention, aiming the weapon, but no one is there. His men, the guards, and the civies turn to try and find the source, but no one can find it.
"That him?" Adams asks as he checks behind him.
"Yeah... Mercuito..." He says as he turns back to his right. His palms begin to sweat, causing his gloves to stick to his hands.
"They were right! None leave here alive..." Moore turns back, although he hears an insane cackling in the distance.
"What was that?" Daniels asks with a tremble in his voice. Innocent ponies cower away, trying to protect their loved ones, while Guards stand in front of them. Moore and his men keep their rifles trained on the darkness. The cackling grows louder, and Moore tries to ease his breathing.
"Steady... Whatever comes out of there... Give em' hell..." He says. His hands tremble, and his breathing is uneven. A galloping sound is heard, and he looks to his right. Something, cackling like a maniac is charging at him. Moore takes the initiative and fires. The creature lets out a screech and skids to a halt in front of him. He shines his flashlight on it, revealing a pony. However, darkness swirls in it's eyes, evaporating in front of it, as his teeth drip the darkness like saliva, evaporating once it falls a few inches. Moore backs away in disgust, and the creature vanishes. Moore steps back, trying to keep hold of himself.
"You will pay for your arrogance Moore..." Mercuito says with a cackle in his voice. That's when they hear more cackling and moans. It grows steadily louder, and the group can hear Mercuito's sinister laughter. Moore turns and throws his arm over his one shoulder as he shouts;
"We gotta get out of here now! MOVE!"
Moore slammed his rifle into the face of a Chaos Pony and shoved it to the ground, firing a single round into it's head. Panting, he rises to his feet and throws his arms forward.
"Come on! We need to keep going!" He shouts. He kicks open a door and places his back to the wall as Adams and Hans rush through, checking the area. Another Chaos Pony leaps out, but Barns head butts it and shoots it. Leave it to Barns to risk dying to save others. Moore rushes the ponies out, not wanting to risk them dying. Firing at another Chaos Pony, he orders Daniels to lead the Guards outside along with the civies while he and Barns keep him covered.
"Hostiles incoming!" Barns shouts as he opens fire. Moore turns and pulls his trigger. The guns illuminate the room with their muzzle flash as the insane cackling of the Chaos Ponies ring in Moore's ears. A clicking sounds, and Moore tries desperately to fire off another shot.
"Stupid piece of... I'm out! I need to reload!" He shouts as he drops the empty clip. Just as he slams in the fresh one, he hears another clicking.
"Aw great! I'm out!" Barns shouts as he flips the top off of his LMG and reaches for a new belt. Moore fires and backs up.
"Get out the door! We can't stay here. Barns nods and throws a grenade, afterwards rushing out the door. Moore turns and slams the door behind him, and shoves his body against it. An explosion sounds, and several screeches. Moore still holds the door for a moment, trying to be sure nothing else was coming. He sighs and walks away from the door.
"Too bad you made it out of there Moore, now you face the entire horde." Mercuito says from nowhere. Moore looks around aiming his rifle into the darkness as Barns continues to reload.
"Any idea of how many of these things there are?" He asks as he slams down the top of his weapon. A civilian says that there were once over 2000, but the chances were that number had grown since the Chaos Ponies had probably found dead bodies to inhabit. Moore thinks for a moment, these things behaved a lot like zombies would in a human world, so how was the infection spread?
"How does someone become a Chaos Pony? Do they become one if they're bitten?"
"No, the pony has to be dead for a Chaos Bringer to inhabit it's body. But bites do cause extreme pain, and they make your body a lot weaker, making you an easy target." Moore nods and looks around. All out of nowhere comes static.
"Sta... Sta..." Some thing shouts. Moore hits the side of his radio and waits a few seconds.
"JOHN! Can you... me? This is Connors!" He hears Connors shout. For a moment he's relieved, but he hears more insane cackling.
"JOHN! IF YOU'RE ALIVE PLEASE SAY SOMETHING!"
"I'm here Sergeant! What's going on?"
200 Yards to the East...
Looking through his scope, Connors watched as the strange creatures feasted on a pony, ripping it's legs from it's body and sticking their snouts into the holes created. Back to the right, several crawl out of windows in the buildings, with jack o lantern like smiles on their faces.
"Something's coming at you! I can see em' from the ridge! They're coming for you, dozens of them! You gotta get out of there!" He shouts as he fires a shot. The pony drops dead and evaporates into thin air. Connors adjusts his sights, finding his squad along with what looks like civilians.
"Yeah tell me something I don't know! Can you link us through to the Princess?" He hears Moore shout back. Connors lets out a breath as he fires another shot, another direct hit. He quickly brings his hand to his ear to respond to his CO.
"Sorry sir! No can do! Communications are too badly screwed up! I can reach you but the Princess is too far away!" He shouts. That's when he spots something in the air. Although he can't see it with the scope, he caught it with his peripheral vision. He lifts his head for a second, and freezes.
"You have got to be kidding me..." Connors thinks. Instantly, he warns the Staff Sergeant, and fires another shot as the team begins to run toward him, and the horde...
10 Minutes Later... Now 40 Yards from Connors' position ...
Moore runs further and further away from the house as he fires three rounds into another monster. He slips and falls to the ground. Adams instantly rushes over and helps him up.
"SIR! Look... e skies!" He hears Connors shout. Almost afraid too, Moore looks up and points his rifle, and instantly fires.
"PEGASI!" He shouts. A guard is attacked from behind and pulled into the darkness, screaming as he goes. Moore tries to reach for him, but he's interrupted when he sees a civilian get attacked. He instantly leaps to it's defense and shoots the creatures. The unicorn backs away in fear, and is bitten in the neck by another Chaos Pony. It screams in pain as it's blood squirts out of it's neck, and is dragged away into the darkness. A guard becomes overwhelmed and is piled on by the creatures. Moore kills them, but the guard is already dead. A Chaos Pony tries to attack Adams, but he manages to dodge and stab it with his knife, all while protecting a young child.
"Fall back! We can't win this fight! Men! Get the civilians out of here! Lead them to Connors! We have to get out of here now!" The soldiers nod and signal for the guards to follow them, who instruct the ponies to follow them. Moore begins to run as another guard is carried away by Chaos Ponies. He wants to help, but he has to keep going. He briefly turns and fires, picking off a few infected, giving them a little more time. Moore quickly turns back and runs. The Chaos Ponies have picked off thirty-five guards and ten innocents. They were too close behind them, this called for desperate measures.
"Connors! Tell the Princess to lower the shield!"
"What? You're still in..."
"I KNOW! I'LL GET OUT IN TIME! JUST DO IT!" Moore shouts. Within a few seconds, a pink dome begins to form from the top of the city. Moore begins to sprint. Just then, Daniels is ambushed. Three Chaos Ponies leap out and bite at him, and the Private screams in pain...
Daniels tries to hold off tears as the pain burns through his skull. He hears gunshots, followed by the ponies vanishing. He drops his head against the ground, gritting his teeth as blood falls from his sides and midsection. He is losing blood fast. His vision begins to blur as he sees Moore run over to him.
"Hang in there Hank! I'm gonna get you out of here!" He shouts as he begins to drag him away. Daniels feels around for his SMG, but he has dropped it. Moore is too busy trying to drag him to the outside. Knowing it's their only hope, Daniels fumbles with his hands as he searches for his pistol. When he finally reaches it, his hands shake violently. His vision blurs as he tries to aim down the sights. The sights shake and tremble, and it looks like he's holding two guns. Holding his breath, he fires into the darkness, and his arm is blown far back by the recoil of his weakened state. Six bites... That's how many he counted... So weak... He tries to aim again as an infected rushes toward him. He fires again, hitting it right in it's head. His arm is blown back again, and this time, he is almost unable to lift the gun. With his remaining strength mixed with adrenaline, he watches as his the pistol flies from his hand with his third shot. He then has no choice but to let the blood flow from his wound. The trail is thick, and he knows that he is doomed.
"Almost there! We're gonna make it!" Moore shouts as he lifts him to his shoulders. Daniels sees the shield begin to fall, almost cutting them off. He lets out a groan of pain, and tries to hold his wound, but he accidentally causes another cut. Which causes him to shout in agony. Moore sprints and dives, just barely making it out of the shield in time...
45 Seconds Later ...
"Get more pressure on the wound!" Moore shouts as he press down on the young Private's midsection. Barns is grasping his hand and trying to push down on his side, where Adams presses both palms on his gut. Connors is using a rag to clean up the blood, trying to pinpoint where the injury is most severe, Hans does the same.
"I'm gonna die I'm gonna die..." Daniels says as tears fall from his eyes.
"You are not gonna die!" Moore shouts as he tries to reach into his back pocket for a rag. Connors takes his places and shoves both hands onto his midsection while Moore wipes away blood. Around them, young ponies and their families watch in horror at the sight before them. Moore looks at his rag and sees it stained with blood, and tries to leave to get a fresh one, but Hank's hand stops him. Moore looks back to the young private, who has pain and sorrow in his eyes.
"Please... Don't leave..." He says. Moore nods and tries to hold his wound. Adams frantically looks around, but there's nothing there.
"Stop... We can't save him..." Moore says with a tremble in his voice. His men look at him in shock, excluding Daniels. It wasn't like him to give up, and he knew it. Moore sighs and looks back down. The Private is broken, and letting out tears with pain filled cried.
"What can we do for you?" He asks. Daniels lets out gasp and looks around the circle of soldiers.
"Stay... Don't let me die alone..." He says through his tears. Moore nods as his own tears fall. Hank closes his eyes and lets out forced pants. Around him, his allies share the same emotion he does; pity. Anger. Sorrow. Disappointment. Not in Daniels, but themselves, for letting him get hurt. Daniels grows quiet for a moment, then says;
"Mama? Is that you?" Moore sighs and shakes his head. This was it.
"I wanna go home... I wanna go home..." The Private says. Pain, sadness, and tears define his face, and his chest rises and falls dramatically.
"Mama, Mama, Mama... Maaaamaaa..." Daniels chokes out. With one final exhale, Daniels stops moving all together. Moore takes his fingers and checks his neck. Nothing. Anger, sadness, and guilt wash over him as he takes the red ruby from his shoulder, and walks away. Someone asks if he's alright, but he doesn't answer. He feels his hand begin to tremble, but he deoesn't care. He had just let a kid die... It was his fault... Because of him... Private Hank Daniels...
Just Outside of Ponyville...
Moore groggily walked along. His mind and body both yearned for peace. Soon enough, his body could rest easily, but his mind would continue to be tormented. How could he let Hank die? How could he let so many Guards and civilians die? Was he doing the right thing as leader of the squad? As commander of the liberation effort? Clearly not... He couldn't even free the town from the grasp of the creatures. How could he be trusted? Looking back, he saw the rest of his men carrying the same shame he did. Seeing a kid die in war took the spirit right out of you. It was never easy. Never right, seeing someone so young and full of life fade away. They didn't deserve that. As they reached the town, Moore stayed back and waited for the wagon that was carrying Hank's lifeless body. Moore looked away.
"John!" He heard someone call. Looking to his right, he sees Twilight observing the soldiers and the guards with horror. He sighs and looks down to the ground, this was awful. He hadn't even thought about how he would break the news to the ponies. Especially Rainbow Dash...
"John... What happened?" She asked as she reached him. Moore walked forward, trying to avoid her. This did no good however, as she just teleported in front of him. She asked again, and Moore shook his head.
"It wasn't good... We lost a lot of men... We weren't able to liberate the city..." He said as he rubbed the back of his head.
"Well I gathered that much, but what went wrong?" Twilight asked. Moore sighed and explained everything. The Chaos Ponies, the infection, the ambush, everything.
"He didn't make it... He bled out... He's gone..." Moore sighed and hung his head. It was his job to get him out of there, and what did he do? Lead him right to his death...
"Oh no... Are you sure? Maybe he's still alive?" Moore shook his head. Eventually he managed to proceed onward, with Twilight trying to say comforting words along the way, but it didn't work. He found the soldiers each talking with families of Guards who were killed. The children all ran to each other and their mothers for strength, and while some were strong for them, others were overcome with grief. Moore looked away in shame, this was just as he was afraid it would be. Injured, bitten survivors were taken into the hospitals, where a few ponies had recovered enough to return outside. When the men were done telling the bad news, they just sat around in town, pondering their thoughts.
"Hey John?" When Moore heard this voice, he froze. He recognized it instantly. It was that of Rainbow Dash. How would she respond? She didn't seem like the one to deal with bad news particularly well. He turned slowly, not bothering to hide the grief from his face. To his surprise, Rainbow also had a look of sadness. Almost like she already knew what had happened.
"Hank?" She asked. The way she said... She sounded like a 5 year old who had lost their teddy bear. It was heartbreaking... Moore let a few tears fall from his face as he reached into his back pocket. Slowly, he took Rainbow's hoof and brought it forward.
Rainbow looked to the hand that was coming back from John's back. In it, she saw a small chain, although she wasn't sure what it meant. Gently, he placed his hand on top of her hoof, and gave it a quick pat before taking it away. It revealed the pendant of her Element of Harmony necklace, as well as a tag that read:
It didn't take long for her to realize what John was trying to say. She felt tears well in her eyes as she fought to hold them back. Hank was dead... She clenched her eyes shut, trying to block out the pain she was feeling. But she just couldn't do it. She cried. With sadness guiding her, she reached out to John, and he took her. She cried into him, and he didn't pull away.
"I'm so sorry Dash..."
1 Hour Later... Fluttershy's Cottage...
Adams folded his hands together and brought his chin to them. He stared down at the ground, trying to make sense of what had happened. Seeing John walk away traumatized was one thing, seeing Rainbow Dash cry was another thing entirely. He knew that she was tough as nails, so seeing someone like her cry... devastating. Fluttershy sat to his right, merely trying to ease his mind with her presence.
"So... How are you doing? You don't look too good either." She said. Adams looked over to the mare, who was looking at him with sad eyes. He sighed, and shook his head. He didn't know what to feel. He had to be strong, but what was the balance between being strong and being heartless?
"I guess I'm just in a fog..." He said as he rubbed his hands. He removed his helmet and tossed it to the side. Fluttershy placed a hoof on his back and asked him to keep going.
"Well... I just don't know what's going on... Why this is happening... I just don't know... I hate all this uncertainty..." He said as he placed his head into his hands. He rubbed his face as he tried to sort out his emotions, and Fluttershy wrapped her forelegs around him.
"It'll be alright... I promise."
Rarity's Fashion Shop...
"Frank..." Rarity said as she slipped her hoof to his hand. Barns looked up slightly to see her hoof touching his hand. He sighed and stood, leaving his seat. Rarity looked up to him, and tried to calm him down.
"No, that town was really the best way to go wasn't it?" He asked. He walked over to the countertop in the kitchen and looked out the window. Rarity got up from her chair and walked over to him.
"After all that was the... Patriotic thing to do eh?" Rarity sighed and stood next to him, only for him to walk away again.
"I mean heck, it's not like we failed miserably or anything. And we only lost one of our guys going for it." He said as his fist clenched shut. Rarity backed away slightly, frightened by Frank's behavior. He turned, and she saw his face. Outlined with fury and rage.
"I swear I hope those things are real FREAKING happy knowing that they're causing all this sadness and grief!" He shouts as he punches a wall. Rarity backs away again, watching as he punches a vase, causing his hand to bleed when it shatters.
"BUT THEN AGAIN THEY WOULDN'T FREAKING KNOW WOULD THEY? WOULD THEY?" He shouts as he marches over to her.
"Frank please! Stop! Everything will be alright!" She says with a fearful voice. Upon hearing her, he pauses. Looking down to his hand, he sees it stained with blood. Guess his big brother instincts got the best of him.
"I... I'm sorry... I just need some time alone..."
Sugar Cube Corner...
Hans tossed his weapon onto a table in the center as he walked up to the room upstairs. He closed the door behind him, and sat at the desk in the guest bed room. Looking over to the squad photo taken just four months ago, he sees Daniels, holding out his right hand two fingers pointed upwards. This was meant to represent the sign for victory, and was always encouraging. He had that goofy smile that made him so likeable, so friendly. Looking over to the marker, Hans sighed and grabbed it. He blacked out Hank's face, showing that he was dead. He dropped the marker as someone came into his room. When he looks over, it's Pinkie Pie. Fortunately for him, she seems to understand the seriousness of this situation and simply sits next to him.
"Do you want to talk about it?"
"Where do I begin..."
Sweet Apple Acres...
Connors walked into the farm house and was greeted by Applejack. The others were also there, and he sighed. He'd probably need the company, it was always easier to deal with things when he had someone to talk to. Probably the reason he was so rebellious as a kid.
"Hey AJ..." He said as he set his backpack down by the door. Taking a glass, he turned on a faucet and let the water fill the cup. He sat down at the table and just held the glass for a while. For some reason unable to bring himself to drink it. He just sat there with a depressed look.
"What happened out there?" Applejack asked as she took her seat. Connors looked up.
"Daniels died." He said bluntly. Applejack apparently already knew.
"Rainbow tol' me when Ah ran into her in town. She was mighty upset, and John didn't look like he was holdin' out to well either." She said as she looked him in the eye. Connors sighed and dropped his head. He should have figured John would be having a hard time with this. Whenever something went wrong, we would always blame himself.
"Well... I just can't help but feel partially responsible. I was the overwatch... I should have seen them coming..." He said as he finally took a sip of his water. Truth is, Hank probably would have made it if he had just paid more attention. Applejack placed her hoof on his free hand as Granny Smith shook her head.
"Now, now Sonny, you have no reason to feel that way. You done tried yer best, an' that's all we can ask." She said.
"Eeyup." Big Macintosh said in agreement. Connors sighed.
"So why do I still feel this way?"
"Because Hank was a friend of yers. And you wanted him to make it. So you're putting blame on yerself to try to make sense of what happened." Applejack said. Connors looked over to Applebloom. She was silent, but gave understanding eyes. Like Daniel would so many times in his childhood. Connors just sighed and rubbed the back of his head.
"I wish this bloody war was over..."
One Week After Private Daniels' Death...
Moore drove his knife into the map, trying desperately to devise a plan to turn the tide of battle. The Rangers were now losing the war. Chaos Bringers had gone berserk five days ago, and had recaptured Mareami. There were still civilians in the town when they took over... He needed a plan. But he had no way of getting information on the enemy plans, and it wasn't like he had a scout anymore. He scoffed. He sounded so heartless. Was that another side effect of war? Turning you into some cold, emotionless machine? No... He still cared. That was why he was fighting. But it was so hard... How did generals deal with this much stress? Knowing millions if not more lives counted on the decisions they made?
"John?" He hears from behind. Looking back, he sees Twilight walking over to him with a glass of water. She sets it down beside him and steps back.
"Thanks." Moore lifts the cup to his lips and drinks. Twilight frowns and walks away. Moore took the knife from the table and observed where it had cut. Right between Seaddle and Mareami. He brings his hand to his chin in thought. Looking over the map, he looks over to Baltimare, which was forming a task force to try assisting in the war effort. Barns was over there training them now. Come to think of it, he and Adams were the only ones in town. Hans was helping build armored carriers for the guards in Fillydelphia, and Connors was gathering up local militias to be trained in Baltimare's task force. The loss of Mareami had proven that, while strong, the Rangers and Guards did need help. They were the expected in the fight. What they needed was a quick hit and run team. Hit and run... Moore slammed his fist into the table and gave a victorious shout. A hit and run! That's exactly what they needed!
"Storm Base" Shadow Runner Task Force Training Area... Baltimare...
"Keep going! Don't you quit on me! Don't quit! Keep going!" Barns shouts to the stallion. He pants and gives a groan of exhaustion and determination as he pushes forward. Carrying 140 pounds worth of dumbbells across the field while staying in the air had to be tiring, but the stallion had it in him. Barns was not going to let him quit. The stallion lets out a groan of pain as he slows down slightly.
"IT BURNS!" He shouted.
"THEN LET IT BURN!" Barns shouts back as he gets on his hands and knees. He sidesteps with his hands and keeps in pace with the stallion as the other members of his squad watch in amazement.
"I'm about out of strength!"
"Then you negotiate with your body and you draw out more strength, you are not giving up you hear me? You are finishing this! You can do this! It's all heart from here!" He shouts. Barns shouts for him to keep going as he slams his fist into the ground for effect. Barns looks over to the left, seeing only ten more feet needed to cross the line. He was close.
"Ten more feet! Come on! It's all you! Don't quit!" He shouts again. The stallion shouts in pain, but he continues. Five more feet. Barns shouts loudly and tells him to keep going, the stallion looks like he's giving more than his body can handle, but he isn't stopping. One more. The stallion crosses the line and collapses, while two other stallions remove the weights in the "saddle" bag, the militia man breathes heavily and tries to collect his breath. Barns gives him a quick pat on the back and smiles.
"Told you. You got the heart of a warrior." The stallion chuckled, but instantly gave out a hacking noise once he stopped. Barns laughed and stood. These stallions would make good soldiers.
Adams walked outside, and sat down by the small pond in front of Fluttershy's house. He listened to the birds and the soft waves created by the pond, along with the whistling of the wind. He smiled and gave a satisfactory sigh. Things were looking up. The task force was being built, the Princess had approved a funeral for those that died in Seaddle, and Fluttershy had her wings back. She was still a little uncomfortable with flying, but that could be expected. He watched as the wind blew a leaf through the air, bringing it to his face. He chuckled and blew it away. The wind took it as is swirled through the currents, eventually landing on the water.
"Hey Jack." He heard from behind. Looking behind him, he sees Fluttershy walking towards him, a smile on her face. He smiles as well, inviting her over. She takes a seat and watches the waves recede.
"So how are the wings?" Adams asks. Fluttershy shrugs.
"They're okay. Still a little sore from where they were reattached, but it's good to have them back." She says as she opens them lightly. Adams smiled and gave her a quick pat on the back. Looking back out to the water, the two just sit there for a while, until Fluttershy breaks the silence with a question.
"Do you know how Rainbow is?"
"Yeah. She was a little shaken for the first few days, but Twilight and John helped her through it. She's off training to be in the task force now." Fluttershy gasped. Adams put his hand on her hoof.
"Don't worry, Connors is keeping an eye on her." This seemed to calm her down and she nodded. Adams could understand why she cared for Dash so much. After all, she was like a sister to her. Especially according to their past stories. He stood and looked around. Fluttershy asked if something was wrong, but he shook his head. Nothing was wrong. Well, except for the fact there was a war going on, but still.
"Storm Base" SRTF Training Area...
"That's good hustle Dash." Connors said as he watched the mare slam her hooves into another dummy. She had been training nonstop for three hours, and while she sounded like she was tired, she still showed strong resolve. Her being an athlete definitely helped with determination and persistence, and even helped with accuracy in her blows. The only thing that it hurt was the stealth. Athletes never had to be stealthy in their games, but a Task Force soldier would. They would have to work on that.
"So... How's my time?" The mare asked as she removed her helmet, revealing a soaking wet mane. Connors looked at the stopwatch in his hand, and nodded.
"Faster than last time. 15.7 seconds. A new record." He says. Rainbow pumped her hoof in the air and gave a quick shout in victory. Connors smiled. It was good to see someone so positive. Despite being a newcomer in battle, she was instantly given the rank of Sergeant. Connors chuckled. Sergeant Rainbow Dash. He didn't know why... But it fit. It was strange, but it seemed like it was meant for Rainbow to carry that title.
"Come on. We need to work on your stealth. From what you've told me, you've had experience with that in the past." Dash nodded and followed him through the hallway. Maybe this wouldn't need that much work after all.
Canterlot... Royal Palace...
The Princesses observed the plans, while Celestia seemed unsure, Luna was smiling. Moore held his hands together, waiting patiently for their response. Celestia lowered the map and looked at him. There was a frown on her face. But it quickly changed into a smile. Moore smiled as well.
"I think you have a sure fire way to rescue Mareami again Staff Sergeant." She said with satisfaction. Moore nodded as she placed the map into a dossier and tossed it over to him. Luna nodded and gave her words of agreement.
"Ten militias rising up in ten different towns, the task force striking at the sides of Mareami while Moore and the Guards pushed the front lines. This plan was sure to work. Moore got to work on writing the letters and looked over to Twilight. She was smiling as well, and Moore gave her head a quick rub. The tide of the war was about to turn again.
Mareami... The Next Day...
Rainbow looked out to the large city, where ponies were being whipped and beaten by Chaos Bringers. She shook her head. This was disgusting. How could something be that cruel? These things needed to be destroyed. She placed her SRTF helmet and gave it a quick pat. Unlike the Guard helmets, these ones covered every feature of the face except for the eyes. John said that they looked like knights. Whatever those were, they sounded cool.
Moore kneeled down and looked through his binoculars, seeing the city. The Chaos Bringers were being remarkably crueler than last time, then again, they had gone berserk. Still, they needed to be stopped, and Moore would make sure that happened.
"SRTF, radio check. All teams report in." Moore said into his radio. Looking back, he looks up onto a hilltop, where Adams waits with his Javelin missile, ready to fire when told to. Looking back out, the teams report in, and he sees Rainbow's squad begin to move out. There was a small enemy patrol in front of them, and Moore contacted Connors and Delta.
"Teams Snipe and Delta, Bravo has a enemy patrol directly in front of them, take em' out."
"Roger, I have a shot. Let's do this Delta." Moore hears. Turning his attention back to the Chaos Bringers, he sees one of them drop, and another is pulled into nearby foliage by Hans. The other two panic for a moment until picked off by another two RSTF members.
"All clear." Someone says. Moore nods and gives Bravo the signal to move on. Moore turns his attention to a group of ponies getting tortured by another group. Moore clenches his teeth and growls.
"Charlie, move in, hostages are under attack."
"Roger, moving in." He hears Barns say.
Barns places his back against the wall and peaks around the corner. The hostiles aren't paying attention to them. Turning back to the Task Force members behind him, and brings two fingers to his eyes. He points outward, towards the hostiles, then brings his hand back in a "five" position. The ponies nod and back away slightly. Barns moves closer slightly and checks out the area again. There was definitely five enemies, one stood around darting it's head around while the other four clawed at the hostages. He pulls away and looks back to the ponies. He moves his hand forward in a somewhat chopping like motion, and clenches his fist. The ponies nod and move along the side of the building until they get to a small alley way. Barns brings out his knife and sneaks up on the darting one. Slowly, he brings the knife up, and brings it down on the creature's neck. It lets out a screech, and the others turn. Barns backs away as they begin to advance, but then the Task Force soldiers ambush them.
"Good take down Charlie, plant the claymore and get out of there." Moore says as he adjusts the binoculars. Looking back over, he sees Rainbow's squad in position, priming their claymore at the same time. Moore had detailed how to prepare a claymore, but he still wanted to watch them do it, just to be safe. Rainbow checks around a corner and pulls her head back.
Rainbow held out her hoof, signaling them to halt. She placed her back against the wall, trying to avoid being spotted.
"What's wrong Sergeant?" A stallion asked. Poked her head out again, and even with the helmet limiting her view slightly, she could see the hostage line. Chaos Bringers were in a line, escorting them. Rainbow turned back to her squad and held out a hoof, pointing over to the hostages. Her troops nodded, and moved in closer.
"John, it's Bravo, there's a hostage line coming our way... Can we take em?" She asked into her radio. There was only static for a few seconds, but John replied soon enough.
"Copy Bravo, secure the hostages and finish priming that claymore." Rainbow gave a short hoof pump and pointed to the hostages, then moved her hoof to a halting position. She places her back against the wall, waiting for the enemies to come by. She panted lightly, trying to control her breathing. Battle was a lot more stressful than she thought it would be. Then again, maybe that was just what came with being a leader of a squad. If this was how she was feeling how the heck did John feel? She had to push these thoughts out of her head, the Chaos Bringers were directly in front of them now. Rainbow turned to her group and nodded, charging out. She shot out, slamming her front hooves into the head of a Chaos Bringer, crushing it like a grape. Her squad mates also pounced, eliminating several more enemies. Turning, she drove her right hoof into the face of another Chaos Bringer, and used her wings to gain some elevation. She then slammed her back hooves into it's head. Looking back over to her troops, she sees them finish off the hostiles and begin freeing the hostiles.
"This is Bravo, rescue was successful, finishing the claymore now." Moore heard into his radio. Moore pumped his fist at his side. Rainbow had done a good job, this was better than he could have hoped for. Just then, Moore also receives reports the both Charlie and Delta have finished placing their claymores. All hostages that would have been in danger of the blast have also been evacuated. It was time.
"It's time, all teams, fall back and wait for the Strike Team to move in, after that, it's hit and run time." He says as he holds the switch in his hands. Using his binoculars, he watches as the teams pull out, and extract any remaining hostages, mostly children. Moore looks up to Adams, and gives a thumbs up. He nods and aims. Moore anxiously waits, and keeps his finger on the switch. He hears the rocket launch, as well as panic from the hostiles. He presses down on the switch, and the claymores blow, causing even more confusion. Only moments later, the rocket lands, and Moore gives the signal to charge as the explosion decimates the Chaos Bringers. He lets out his war cry and charges as he signals the teams to begin by firing his Berretta into the air.
"This is Bravo, moving in!"
"Delta coming in hot!"
"Charlie, moving in!" Moore preps a grenade created by Twilight's magic and throws , diving behind cover instantly afterward. Several of his men charge forward and take down hostiles. When he hears the explosion go off, he pops up and fires his rifle. In the distance, he sees a rainbow pick off Chaos Bringers, and he knows that Rainbow is it's source. He dives over to another piece of cover and ducks. Reloading, he tosses Adams a grenade, which he preps. Moore uses his arms to propel himself over the barricade, and Jack throws the grenade. He aims down his sights and fires, signaling the rest of his men to move in. The Chaos Bringers try to run, but Barns and his team cut them off. Rainbow and her team dash along the sides again, picking off more of the hostiles. Moore catches a Chaos Bringer trying to escape and brings out his Berretta, firing at it's head. When he looks back, the gunfire has quieted, and the ponies check the buildings. Within minutes, the town is back under control.
"So that's what it's like to survive a battle?" Moore hears. Turning behind him, he sees Rainbow taking off her helmet, revealing sweat pouring from her forehead. She's panting heavily, but she's smiling. Moore chuckles.
"You did good today Sergeant. You really did." Rainbow smiles and thanks him. Just then, a white flash goes off, coming with a strong wind.
"EVERYBODY GET DOWN!" Moore shouts. Barns tackles Rainbow down and covers her head as the flash gets brighter, and for some reason, Moore can hear jet engines. He reaches for his sunglasses, hoping he still had them handy.
"Staff Sergeant what are you doing? Stay down!" He hears Hans shout. Regardless, he grabs his glasses and places them on his eyes, looking up. What he sees shocks, and astounds him. An A-10 fighter jet, spiraling out of control, just east of the city.
Reposter's Note: Being a member of the Canadian Forces Reserves, and an aspiring pilot, I have to say my pet peeve about this chapter. AN Airman First Class would NEVER fly an A-10, only officers are pilots. However, I believe the author wanted to keep Moore in charge, which is why the pilot was demoted. Also, a Sergeant is never saluted. Of course, as a reposter, not in my place to change the story...
Moore observed the wreckage. Behind him, Barns and Hans had their weapons trained on the plane. No reason not to be too careful. Moore carefully moved forward, gun forward. The glass of the cockpit was cracked, with several holes where the glass should have been. He crouched down and, and put his gun to his side, placing his hands on the cockpit. He feels it a bit, and tries to find the weakest spot. When he finds it, he brings back his fist and gives it a solid punch. The glass shatters, and a gun is put to his face. The barrel smacks into his face, causing a quick shock of pain. He freezes, trying to remain calm. The barrel of the gun is small, a handgun for certain.
"Star..." He hears a weak voice say. It's feminine, so Moore knows that it's a woman piloting the plane. Carefully, he pushes the gun away, giving his countersign. He motions to Adams to help him lift the cockpit. The Specialist rushes over as the ponies watch in confusion. Moore brings his hands underneath the front of the cockpit and looks over to Adams. His arms are similarly underneath the right side of the cockpit. He nods. Moore grits his teeth and begins to lift with all his might, as does Adams. The cockpit moves up a few inches, but doesn't give way. He stops and takes a quick breath, then motions to continue. Despite their effort they are unable to lift the cockpit alone. Rainbow Dash and her squad fly towards the cockpit and begin to assist, as do three other Task Force squads.
"Ok, everyone! Together!' Moore shouts as he lifts once more. The troops comply and try to open it. Finally, it gives way. Inside, lays a pilot, breathing heavily with blood coming from her lower stomach and head. Moore leans in close and checks her pulse.
"No need for that... I'm still alive..." Moore took his finger away, and observed the pilot. She had on an oxygen mask, as was expected of a pilot. She probably wouldn't need it down on the ground. Slowly, he removes the mask and observes the insignia on her shoulder. It was two stripes moving towards a circle, which contained a single star. Moore was unfamiliar with this rank, he had never seen it in the army. Then again, this trooper was probably from the air force.
"What is that?" He hears Rainbow ask. He turns to her.
"Another human. Difference is this one's female." He says in response. Turning back to the pilot, he see her squinting at Rainbow.
"What... What is... that..." She asks, her breath is heavy, and uneven. She's in no condition to just stay here, so Moore orders Barns and Hans to come get her. Barns lifts her out of the cockpit while Hans makes sure she can balance herself between the two. Moore looks back to the jet, the front is completely destroyed, and part of the wing is on fire. From the looks of it, gasoline is leaking out of it, indicating damage to the gas tank, possibly even the engine. It would take a miracle to get it into the air again. Several of the ponies check it out, trying to see what it does, but Moore tells them to help with the pilot.
"Let's get her some medical treatment ASAP." Moore says.
3 Hours Later...
Moore speaks to the nurse for a while before the doctor comes to tell him she's woken up. Moore nods and thanks the nurse, as well as the doctor. He motions over to Twilight, who had recently been told about what had happened. Since she was the brains of the group, as well as being less intimidating as the Princess while still knowing almost everything about this place, Moore figured she'd be the best to help explain everything to pilot. The unicorn nods and gets up, walking with Moore through the hallways. When they reach her room, they find her doing pushups. She had blonde hair that came down to her shoulders, which rose and fell in sync with her movements. Moore chuckled.
"Getting back into gear already?" He asks as he folds his arms. The pilot glares at him with green eyes for a moment before she squints. She walks closer to him, observing his face, causing Moore to back away uneasily. Stepping back, she kneels down and grabs Twilight's horn, pulling her towards her. Twilight gives a quick shout of pain, which makes the pilot jump. Moore smiles.
"I know. Freaked me out when I heard them talk too." He said. The pilot stares wide eyed at Twilight, who rubs her horn to try to get the pain out of her head. The pilot eventually snaps out of her trance, and seems to recognize Moore.
"Staff Sergeant John Moore right? From the Rangers?" She asks. Moore's eyes shoot open, and he looks to Twilight. She is amazed as well, and stares at him. Moore looks back to the pilot, who has her arms crossed, waiting for a response.
"Yes... Who would you be?" He asks. The pilot salutes.
"Jessica Newell, Airman First Class of the US Air Force." Moore raises his hand and motions it in a "at ease" motion. Newell relaxes and places her arm to her side. He has a few questions, but they have to wait.
"Let's start with the basics, you're in Equestria now." Newell squints and pushes her ear forward, trying to make sure she heard him right. Moore nods and explains how the world is shared amongst many, and there is no single dominant species. Newell nods and looks over to Twilight.
"Unicorn right?" She asks. Twilight nods and closes her eyes, smiling.
"I'm Twilight Sparkle, star pupil of Princess Celestia." Twilight says.
"Who?" Newell asks.
"Princess Celestia. She's the ruler of Equestria. She rules with kindness, care, and love. Princess Luna, her sister, rules along side her. Princess Celestia controls the day, while Princess Luna controls the night." Twilight explains. Newell nods and rubs her chin, trying to take this all in. Over the next couple of hours, Moore and Twilight answer questions that Jessica has about the world. And she had plenty. When she had finished, Moore felt the need to ask her his questions.
"Newell, before we go, I have to ask you a few things. First, how did you know who I was?"
"Easy. Ever since you disappeared your story's been spreading like wildfire." She said as she looked around for her gear. Moore sat and nodded.
"How did you get here? Were you blasted by aliens?"
"In a way. We eliminated the enemy anti-air systems a few days ago, so they've been using their transporter as a substitute. When we learned about that, we installed EMP emitters in case we got hit. We still didn't know where they got sent, but we figured it was better to subjecting them to the alien's torture."
"So we're wining?"
"More like a stalemate at this point. We recovered Moscow, and the Russians joined the fight, but the aliens have China under siege." She said as she found her combat gloves. Just then, the door busted open and Spike burst in. He was panting heavily, and sweat was pouring from his brow. Newell stared at the dragon with confusion.
"Dragon. Young one. He's basically Twilight's little brother." Moore explained. Spike gave a loud exhale and raised his hand.
"Twilight... I... have..." A green flame erupted from his mouth, forming a letter. He dropped to the ground from exhaustion as Twilight took the letter and opened it. She inspected it and read as Moore kneeled down to see what it said.
Dear Twilight Sparkle, My most Faithful Student,
I have noticed another flash near Mareami. A report from the front lines has stated that another human has been brought to Equestria. I would much like to meet this soldier, and ask them of serving along side our human defenders. Take your time, I want the soldier to be okay, if not, make sure they get treated.
Sincerely, Princess Celestia.
Moore stood and turned to Newell, who stood with her arms crossed and eyebrow raised. He looked to Twilight, who nodded. Moore turned back to her and stared at her.
"Looks like you just got an invitation to meet the Princess Airman."
Garage... 2 Miles from Sugarcube Corner...
Moore didn't know what to think. This was the first time a female was going to be shown to the princesses. He didn't really expect a greatly different response, but there would defiantly be a few questions. He wasn't able to be present, so Connors was taking his place for the time being. He was needed in the garage that Hans had set up shop in. The Corporal had called him down to the garage to check on several of the vehicles that he had been working on. Moore didn't get why he needed to check on them, but being the commander of the liberation movement sometimes had it's cons. In the garage, several ponies who had marks with something to do with electrics or engineering were working on vehicles, each with detailed blueprints. They needed to be detailed, they had never seen anything like what they were creating.
"John, good to see you." He hears. Turning, he sees Hans with some sort of goggles on. He takes off his goggles and gives a pony a pat on the back. He wipes his hands with a cloth and walks over to Moore. Moore couldn't see how Hans dealt with this heat all the time.
"What is it Hans?"
"Had a few projects we've been working on for a while, wanted you to check them out." Hans said as he finished wiping his hands. He tossed the rag onto a table with several tools laid out. Moore nodded and looked around again. The ponies were hard at work, not yielding for a second.
"You got some dedicated workers here."
"You have no idea, some of these guys have been up for days." Hans says. Moore nods. Hans motions for him to follow and the two get going. They come to a large doorway, to which Hans knocked on. A pony opened the door and let them in. Inside the room was a gigantic carrier, metal lined the outside, creating a claw proof surface, exactly what was needed against the Chaos Bringers. Moore walked over to the carrier and gave it a knock with the back of his hand. He was surprised when a latch opened revealing three ponies working on the inside. After a brief exchange, Moore let them get back to work.
"So this is the carrier?"
"Yep. First one. It's been a pain to make, but it was worth it. It's powered by unicorn magic from the inside, so getting unicorns for this device is essential." Hans explained as he checked one of the wheels. Moore nodded and looked over to a group of ponies who were checking on the armor plating. Slashing and stabbing it with blades to make sure it blocked every blow. Hans led Moore outside and down a few hallways.
"So, how things looking with the pilot?" Hans asked. Moore looked over to him. Hans typically wasn't one to ask about others unless it was a civilian. Something was going on here...
"Fine. She made a full recovery. Right now Connors is escorting her to the Princesses to be admitted into the war effort. Speaking of which, how's the plane coming?"
"Not to great. It'll take a lot of magic and raw labor to get it working again." Hans said as he shook his head. Moore noticed that there was genuine sadness in his voice. He never got that way over a project. What the heck was going on? As time passed, Hans had shown Moore another carrier, two airborne recon drones (powered by cells that turned unicorn magic to electricity), and one unknown item that he had been working on with only the best of engineers. Hans seemed to be pretty excited about this one, so Moore just let him blab on and on about how it was going to change the tide of war. When they reached the hangar that contained it, Hans walked ahead and entered a combination on a lock. This must have been either very serious or very dangerous if Hans was keeping on such high lockdown. Maybe even both. The lock gave a metallic clink as it hit the ground, and Hans opened the door.
"Meet the UGV 7.62 Caliber rounds with 3 cm armor plating, AND grenade launcher." Hans said with pride in his voice. Moore was wide eyed. Before him was a four foot tall tank like vehicle. It contained a turret, much like one you would see on a minigun. Underneath it was another tube, this one was a bit smaller, but clearly fired something special. Moore felt a tap on his shoulder, and he turned to Hans, who was holding out what looked like a RC remote control. In the center was a small screen.
"Built in screen, let's you see where you're controlling it." Hans said. Moore smiled.
"You're definitely getting creative Corporal. Well done." With this tech, they were sure to win the war.
Royal Palace... Canterlot...
Moore observed the maps that had been given to him by the princesses. Each had said that the war was starting to have psychological effects on captured cities. Princess Celestia was worried about enslaved ponies, since Mercuito probably was treating them very badly. However, Luna was concerned about the kids, who couldn't handle living in such a horrible scenario. Moore brought his hand to his chin, trying to consider which city could be next. Neigh York City was filled with enslaved ponies according to tapes from the recon devices Hans had made. But another had also discovered hundreds of traumatized children in Vanhoover. Most of the time, it was woman and children first, but back in the days of the Civil War, slaves were the primary concern. Moore had never had to make this decision, he had never been forced to choose between a child and a slave. Both needed to be rescued, but which one needed it more? Moore leaned back in his chair and rubbed the back of his head.
"Staff Sergeant... We hate to place this decision on your shoulders but... you have more experience with seeing the effects of war on these groups." Princess Celestia said. Moore nodded, trying to observe the layouts of the cities. Neither one had an easy way in, or out. Making stealth a primary concern. However, according to the research gained from the drones, Vanhoover had fewer Chaos Bringers. This may not have a need for a slow op, they could just kick in the front door without too much of a problem. The troops would have to be on alert for civilians, but they had already been trained to the point of perfection in that department.
"Vanhoover has a local militia that's been fighting the Chaos Bringers right? Guards too?" He asked. Princess Celestia looked over to her sister, who nodded.
"Yes, but they are heavily outnumbered, and we believe that they're setting up a desperate "last stand" as we speak." She said with concern in her voice. Moore smiled and reached for his knife. He drove the knife into Vanhoover, letting it shake and stay there for a moment.
"We need to split up our forces."
"Come again?" Princess Luna asked. Moore looked up to face her.
"We have large amounts of troops, and thanks to Hans, a heck of lot of firepower to back them up. Now what I'm recommending will rescue both of the cities, with minimal casualties, if any." He says. The Princesses nod and look over to each other. Luna nods, and Celestia looks over to Shining Armor, the captain of the guard. He also nods. Celestia smiles and looks back to the Staff Sergeant.
"What do you have in mind?" She asked. Moore took a pen and drew a large circle around Vanhoover, pointing to it.
"We need to send a small, heavily armed strike team to Vanhoover, let our allies know we're on our way. We can use the new UGV that Hans created to lay down heavy fire. The strongest warriors among us will lead the charge, we're kicking in the front door here." Moore took the pen and moved it over to Neigh York. He drew several small rectangles along the sides of the city, as well as drawing several small lines going into the city.
"Here, we're sending a massive attack force, but first we pick off slave drivers and rescue the slaves. Once we've rescued about three fourths of the prisoners, we send in the full assault force, and liberate the remaining prisoners from there. We have to make sure not to make any shots too early, or we could give our troops away. Now, you said that Neigh York had a small lake nearby, right?" The Princess nodded.
"Well, we can use that to our advantage. We can use the lake to sneak up behind the enemy and hit them where their most vulnerable first, that way we have less of a problem to deal with later on." Moore said as he drew lines through the water and to the back of the city. The Princesses watch in curiosity, taking in every part of Moore's plan.
"Hans and I will lead the charge in Vanhoover. Newell can use the UGV since she's the most accustomed to commandeering vehicles. Connors will serve as overwatch sniper support in Neigh York, and will be assisted by SRTF teams. Barns will lead the way once the attack is signaled, providing as the strike captain of that operation. As for Adams, he will be in charge of the infiltration and liberation aspects of the job." Moore sat back and set down his pen, sliding it over to the Princesses. Princess Celestia grabbed the map and observed it, joined shortly by Luna and Shining Armor. The group of ponies carefully looked over the plans, until Princess Celestia placed the map on the table and smiled.
"Staff Sergeant, I for one am for your plan. What about you two?"
"Absolutely. I'll assist you in Vanhoover, you're not going in there without somepony the guards know they can trust." Shining Armor said as he placed his helmet on. Moore nodded and looked over to Princess Luna, who was also smiling. She simply nodded. Moore smiled and leaned forward.
"I'll ready my men."
Vanhoover... 12 Hours Later...
Moore watched from the weather balloon, as the guards and militia were pushed farther and farther back into the city. He looked over to Hans, who nodded. All across the skies were weather balloons carrying Royal Guards, waiting for Moore to give the command to attack. In addition, Newell was only about a hundred yards away, but the UGV was just about to arrive. He looked over to Hans one final time, bringing his hand up.
"1...2..3." He says as he throws the rope and slides down.
"GO GO GO!" He shouts to the others. Instantly, guards dive out of the balloons, joining in the fight as Hans follows him closely. Moore comes into contact with the ground and releases the rope. Turning, he brings his rifle to his front and kneels down on one knee, opening fire. The guards from above ambush the Chaos Bringers and cause them to panic.
"This is Newell, the UGV has arrived." Moore hears from his radio. He hears a clicking noise and drops his empty clip as Hans lands on the ground and opens fire.
"Good! Open fire on the northern buildings! I count fifteen plus enemy foot mobiles!" Moore shouts as he slams a fresh clip into his weapon. He pulls the release bolt and aims his weapon at the hostiles.
"Roger that Staff Sergeant." Moore closes one eye and focuses in on the sights of his weapon, firing three bullets per hostile. An explosion goes off, and Moore turns. The UGV is just south of the barricade the militia has set up, who are eyeing him with confused looks.
"What are those things?" One shouts. Shining Armor lands next to the militiaman and knocks over a Chaos Bringer.
"Don't worry soldier, they're on our side, I'll explain later! Just keep fighting!" Shining Armor shouts as he charges forward with his troops. Moore signals Hans and the UGV to move up with Armor's men, all while firing his weapon.
"Hans! Take some men and move over to the right flank! Used the exposed debris for cover!" He shouts as he dives behind an overturned cart. He pops us and fires his weapon, making sure to hit each enemy in a vital area. The UGV rolls along next to him, firing it's load. He reloads his weapon as he brings his hand to his ear.
"Newell, use the UGV to cover the advancing militia! Do not let them get surrounded!" He shouts as he points behind him to the UGV. Moore slams the new clip into his weapon and once again.
"Roger that Staff Sergeant, redirecting towards the militia." Moore hears as he leaps over the cart. He sees Shining Armor flipping a Chaos Bringer onto the ground, along with his other men, and fires at the hostiles ahead.
Rainbow breathed steadily through her scuba equipment. The water pushed on all sides of her body, but it still felt like she was walking on air, she knew. Looking over to Stick Pin, her second in command, she nods.
"Thirty seconds." She says. He holds up his hoof and nods. This movement meant that he read her loud and clear, and was ready to begin. Rainbow slowly ascended to the surface, making sure to keep the ascension steady so her lungs wouldn't give out.
"All teams this is Papa Eagle, I have a clear visual on the town... Dang these things are cruel." She hears Connors say. She gives a puff of air to relax herself, sending air bubbles to the surface of the water. Her head penetrates the thin layer of water, and she hears a subtle splash as she raises her eyes out of the water. Her goggles cloud her vision with drops of water slightly, but she is still able to see the shoreline. There are two Chaos Bringers near the shore, both with backs turned. She looks over to her second in command, and nudges her head towards the hostiles. He nods and begins to move. Rainbow quietly sneaks behind the hostiles and reaches the very edge of the shore, making sure to remain silent. Looking back over to Stick, she looks at him a while, asking with her eyes if he's ready, and he nods. Rainbow mouths numbers backward from three.
"3...2...1..." At one, they reach out of the water and grab the Chaos Bringers, covering their mouths with their hooves. Using their other forelegs, they strangle the demons until they stop moving, and fade away into the water. Rainbow pulls herself onto the shore, confirming that she is clear. She removes her scuba equipment and signals for her troops to come out. They each slowly rise out of the water and climb to the shoreline while she helps Stick out of the water.
"Papa Eagle, this is Bravo team, we've made it to the north shore, what's the status on the others?" She says into her radio.
"Copy Bravo, all other teams are up and ready, the first group of slave drivers are to your west over." She hears. She turns back to her squad and moves her hooves forward. They move towards the wall, making sure not to be spotted.
"This is Alpha team, we got the first group of hostages secure, moving to secure the others." Rainbow hears Adams say as she carefully moves along, avoiding any rocks along the way, that way they won't roll around and create noise. They reach the end of a building, and Rainbow peaks her head out. A group of ponies are being force to mine away at something by Chaos Bringers, and Rainbow grits her teeth. These things were going down. She motions for Stick to lead half the squad around the back, and looks back to the hostiles. They haven't spotted them, and are completely oblivious to their presence. Rainbow waits a few precious minutes, then sees Stick and his troops in position. She nods, and the two teams rush out and ambush the Chaos Bringers. They try to fight back, but there are too many. The ponies quickly have the hostages secured, and Rainbow orders a few of her men to escort them to safety while the others proceed.
Moore primed the grenade, waited a few seconds, then threw. He ducks down behind cover and hears the explosion go off, indicating a successful hit. He leaps over and aims his weapon, firing once again.
"Sir, we got two tangos trying to get the others to fall back to the east!" He hears. With a quick movement, he turns over that direction, and spots the Chaos Bringers fleeing for their lives.
"Newell! We got hostiles moving out! Take care of them!" He shouts as he tries to fire. He hears a clicking noise and turns his gun sideways. He checks the clip, and surely enough, it's empty. Better than a jam, but still aggravating.
"Roger, firing grenades." He hears as he begins to reload. Moore hears three explosions, causing him to look up. The hostiles have been heavily decimated, and are now picked off by Shining Armor and his squad. He smiles and lowers his weapon. Vanhoover is theirs.
"Ok... Not that we aren't grateful or anything... BUT WHO ARE YOU GUYS?" One of the militiaman shouts from behind. Moore turns and sees a badly scarred, orange female Earth Pony. Her squad appears to be inspecting Hans, who is trying to back up and avoid them. Another group is inspecting the UGV, and Moore chuckles.
"It's a long story..."
Barns listens intently, waiting for the call to action. His trigger finger is itch, ready to put that few extra ounces of force to send the bullets from his gun flying.
"Strike team, this is Papa Eagle, we're ready. Move in." He hears he smiles and signals the carriers to move in. An antenna glows a faint white color, and a carrier moves forward. The others soon follow suit, while he charges forward, sprinting as fast as he can with his troops. He lets out his battle cry as he reaches the city, quickly slowing his pace to a walk as he reaches the front lines. He brings his weapon to his hip and pulls the trigger, sending a flurry of bullets into the hostiles.
"I got suppressing fire on the north! All Carriers deploy!" He shouts as he continues to slowly move forward. A carrier next to him opens, and Guards pile out and rush forward to join in the fight. Barns keeps his finger on the trigger as he sees more doors of more carriers begin to become undone, as more and more dark creatures fade away into smoke. He hears a clicking, and instantly begins to load his gun with a new belt. He sees quick dashes of various colors, and knows that the SRTF is picking off the hostiles.
"All units, this is Papa Eagle, we got em' on the run." Barns wasn't satisfied however.
"I got an idea! Don't let them escape! Someone try to capture one so we can take it back to the Princess!" He shouts as he finishes reloading. He lifts his weapon and continues to fire, before he sees Rainbow fly ahead and snatch a hostile. He raises his arm and everyone stops.
"Send a squad to deal with what's left. The rest of you, let's get this creep back to Canterlot." He says. Rainbow flies close and knocks it unconscious, then looks up to Barns with a confused look.
"What exactly are you planning?" She asks. Barns kneels down and observes the creature. It's entire body spiraled, as though it didn't have a definite form, and instead just moved around in various ways.
"We're gonna find out where that Mercuito guy is with this fellow."
Unknown location... Forty Two Hours after the liberations of Vanhoover and Neigh York...
Mercuito laughed as he watched another pony get whipped. This was completely entertaining. He had waited for a very long time to see these nuisances get what they deserved. It was about time.
"Please!" The pony cries as it coughs more blood from it's mouth. Mercuito just laughed and ordered his minions to torture her even more. With another crack of the whip, blood flew like firecrackers from the neck of the unicorn. Mercuito sighed with satisfaction as he leaned back in his chair and nodded. Being enslaved to the darkness for over 700 years had made him crave the blood of more innocent ponies, and he would get it. Even if he had to kill all of those "humans". He knew them well. In his prison of darkness, he had been forced to witness diabolical acts, which he didn't mind at all. Except that he could never reach out and taste the blood of the strange "humans" that he saw get wounded all the time. What a vile, disgusting species they were, just like these infernal ponies. All with their "love and care". It was sickening. Soon enough though, all of those pathetic creatures would bow down to him, as the true ruler of Equestria.
Princess Celestia stared angrily at the creature. This vile gathering of the darkness was responsible for killing her ponies, the ones that she was supposed to protect. She knew that deep down, Luna had these same feelings. Even so, it wasn't it's fault that it was doing this. It was the doing of his evil master, Mercuito. That disgusting creature, his idea of a perfect society was one ruled with an iron hoof, with evil and corruption being it's foundations.
"These things aren't intelligent, I don't see how we're going to break it." John said as he walked around it. He kneeled down and observed it, while it tried to break it's chains and escape.
"Intelligent or not, I will discover where this devil is hiding. He has been eluding for far too long." The Princess said as she glared angrily at the mass of darkness. She squinted and began to focus. She focused all of her energy on the creature, trying to gain access to it's mind. This was a special spell, which was not to be used on anypony but those that were extremely dangerous. This definitely qualified. The Chaos Bringer began to shake violently, and growled as though in pain. The Princess grit her teeth and growled. She had to keep going, otherwise it's mind would be unreachable, and that was something she did not want. The Chaos Bringer continued to shake, and it's own memories began to collect in the mind of Celestia...
Moore watched as the Chaos Bringer continued to have it's strange seizure like episode. He wasn't sure what Celestia was trying to accomplish here, but he knew that she knew what she was doing. Next to him, Luna stared angrily at the black creature, with hatred defining her face. Moore could relate to her feelings. Because of these demons, innocents had died, cities lay in smoldering ruins, and one of his one guys... A friend... Was dead. Hank had not deserved to die. When he put that bullet through Mercuito's head, it was going to be for him. The Chaos Bringer continued to shake until Princess Celestia smiled and her horn stopped glowing. She reared back slightly, and the Chaos Bringer hit the ground with a thud, panting.
"Get what you need?" Moore asked as he pulled out his Berretta. The Princess nodded, and Moore smiled. Aiming his sights, he placed them right on the Chaos Bringer's head and pulled the trigger. The darkness swirled around for a little while before it vanished into the castle air, and the chains hit the ground with a distinct clink sound. Moore spun his Berretta around on his finger for a while before placing it back at his side. The Princess walked up to Moore and smiled.
"Get planning Staff Sergeant. You'll be on your way to Las Pegasus soon."
Ponyville, 3 Days Later
Moore watched as Newell hopped into the newly recreated A-10. Thanks to a bucket load of magic, and what felt like hours of the whole team working on it, it was finally fixed. In addition, Hans had prepared two more UGVs, in addition to three more carriers. He looked to his right, seeing the SRTF running into the carriers, as guards mounted into the weather balloons. He took a deep breath and exhaled, trying to calm himself down before the big fight. All across Equestria, rebels were going to rise up against the Chaos Bringers that had enslaved them, and would fight to the death if need be. All the while, the Rangers and the Task Force were allied with the Royal Guards, throwing a massive attack on Las Pegasus. Looking to his left, Moore sees Rainbow placing her helmet on, and entering the carrier that was designed for them only.
"Hey John." He heard. Turning behind him, he sees Twilight, walking towards him with a smile on her face. He smiles back and kneels down placing his rifle onto his shoulder. In the past few weeks, this unicorn had really become like a daughter to him. He definitely cared about her enough, and he was carrying a pedant made by her into battle. Their bond was very strong.
"Yeah Twilight?" He asked. Twilight brought out a pendant, this one red. Moore recognized it instantly... Hank's pendant. Moore took it in his hands and rotated it between his fingers, observing the colorful stone, that shone in the daylight. He carefully examined it, making sure to take detail of it.
"I figured it could give Rainbow some inspiration out there. Remind her of somepony to fight for." Twilight said. Moore smiled, closing the pendant in his hands. He looked up to the smiling mare and gave her head a quick rub, to which she chuckled.
"Thanks Twilight. This is sure to help." He said. Twilight nodded and gave him a quick hug, which he returned.
"Be careful out there." She said. Moore nodded and pulled away, rubbing her mane one last time. Looking around, he saw his men saying goodbye to the mares that they had come to know and love like family. Fluttershy and Jack hugged, and Fluttershy had tears in her eyes as Jack slowly rubbed her back to calm her down. A little farther up. Pinkie was talking to Jacob, who was laughing at what seemed to be jokes. Moore smiled. Finally, Pinkie held out her hoof, to which Jacob nodded, taking his fist and giving it a solid hit. Connors was giving AJ a quick hug, while Applebloom gave him a large one to his leg. Big Macintosh just gave him a high five. Finally, Frank was rubbing Sweetie Belle's mane, while Rarity seemed to be talking to him about something. Moore smiled, said goodbye to Twilight one last time, and walked into the carrier.
"Took you long enough." Rainbow said jokingly. Moore gave a short chuckle. She asked him what had taken him so long, and he brought out the pendant. Even with the helmet on, Moore could see Rainbow's eyes widen, and grow to an enormous size. She slowly reached her hoof out, and Moore placed the pendant in her hoof. She brought it back to her and observed it.
"Twilight figured it would help." Moore said as he began placing an iron wrist plate on, all while the door to the carrier began to close. Rainbow looked over to him, and while he couldn't actually see it, he knew she was smiling.
He awoke because of disturbed chatter among his subjects. His minions appeared to be frightened and hysterical. Why, he could not be sure, but it was probably something irreverent. Shrugging it off, Mercuito fell back laid his head against the pillow, trying to fall back asleep. Still, his minions would not be silent. He groaned and threw his covers off of his body, and was about to scream at them, until he looked out his window. His month was ajar and his fist clenched. He grit his teeth and growled as he tried to plan on his next actions. The ponies had arrived. Surely due those blasted humans. He should have killed that John fellow when he had the chance. He had seen his capabilities in his world, why hadn't he killed him? What was the name of that Private that died? Damian? It was something like that, not that he really cared. Soon enough, these humans would learn not to mess with him. Even if all five of them had to suffer Damian's fate.
Moore looked back down to his armor, a complete body armor of iron, that would protect him from all attacks. His mobility was now restrained, but he would only need to fire from the hip and use his knife, so it wasn't that big of a problem. If that weren't enough, the tips of his hand iron gloves could come off, revealing razor sharp claw like weapons. Gauntlets, he remembered them being called. Looking over to his right, he saw his M4, locked and loaded. He picked it up and pulled back the release cartridge, bringing the first bullet into the chamber. Looking over to Rainbow, he noticed her duck her head as a large thump rocked the carrier.
"They know we're here." She said through her armor. Moore observed his rifle, which was still in good shape. It had been reliable up to this point, hopefully it would hold out for just a little while longer. Moore looked over to his helmet, which was basically a larger version of Rainbow's. He took it in his hands and observed it, rotating it to see each feature. Another thud rocked the carrier, and Moore placed the helmet onto his head. His vision was restricted slightly, but not by much. A knight with a gun. He thought to himself.
"Staff Sergeant Moore, Sergeant Dash, you're up." Moore heard through his radio. With that, he stood, standing in front of the door of the carrier. Rainbow did the same. Moore looked over to her, and she nodded. He let his fingers move on and off of the gun, he was anxious. The carrier came to a stop, and Moore looked over to Rainbow one last time. She nodded, as did he. Looking back over to the door, he prepared himself.
"This is for Hank." He said as he kicked open the doors.
Moore leaped out of the carrier, instantly greeted by hundreds of Chaos Bringers. He quickly raised his rifle and began firing in short bursts while Rainbow charged them head on.
"Newell! Suppressing fire to the north! Over!" He shouts as he turns and fires three bullets into a large group.
"Roger Staff Sergeant on route." Moore hears as he reloads and slowly walks forward. He drops an empty clip and instantly brings out a fresh one. He hears the loud roar of jet engines, and slams his clip into his weapon as he hears the guns fire. He brings his head back up to the battle and sees the Chaos Bringers evaporate into the air.
"Run was successful, over." He hears from the radio as he presses his trigger again.
"Lock and load." Frank shouts over the several thuds and thumps that shake the carrier. Adams loads his clip into his rifle and looks over to Jacob, who is nodding. Adams breathes out slowly, and his palms begin to sweat.
"This is Papa Eagle, I have visual on the nest. Mercuito is definitely here." Adams hears from his radio. He exhales, trying to control his breathing. The carrier comes to a stop, and Adams stacks up behind Frank. He looks back and gives him questioning eyes, to which Adams pats him on the back. Frank nods and turns back around. A loud hissing is heard, and the doors open.
"Rangers Lead the Way!" Frank shouts as he sprints out the door, quickly followed by Adams and Hans. Adams runs and raises his rifle, firing his weapon. The recoil beats his shoulder as SRTF members rush past them. A Chaos Bringer tries to attack Frank, but Adams brings out his knife and slits it's throat. A thin wisp of darkness spirals out it's neck before it falls back onto the ground and vanishes in a puff of black smoke. Looking to the right, he pulls the trigger again.
Moore turned and fired, eliminating more hostiles. He sees a rainbow colored dash, knowing that it's Rainbow. He turns back to his front and continues to fire. He looks briefly to the left, and sees a group a Chaos Bringers pouring out of a large, castle like lookout area.
"Hostiles in that tower to the west!" He shouts as he reloads once again.
"Roger I have visual, engaging targets." Newell says. Moore slams his fresh clip into his weapon and fires on the horde as one tries to slash his torso, but the armor protects him. He takes the demon in his arms and places it between his hands, jerking suddenly to the left. He hears a slight crack, and the Chaos Bringer vanishes before it hits the ground.
Mercuito scowled as he pulled away from the window. With anger he slammed his fist into a desk he had found in the room. These blasted humans... Interfering with HIS takeover? This was an abomination... He had checked on the status of all the towns he had taken, and militias had risen up. That no good John must have planned this. Even Seaddle! He growled and threw a vase across the room, trying to make sense of the situation. Suddenly, he grinned. He knew exactly how to rid himself of that pesky human...
Adams threw his grenade and dived out of the way, watching as more and more Guards flew down from the weather balloons, pushing the enemy further and further back. A stallion was knocked down, and a Chaos Bringer leaped on him. Adams slid to a halt and fired at the beast, causing it to become a wisp of air. He looked back to his front, seeing the Chaos Bringers bring down another stallion, this one was wounded. Quickly, he rushed over and knocked one off the stallion. and slashing the other two with his knife. He helped him up and gave him a pat on the back.
"Jack!" He hears from the side. Looking over to Frank, he sees him nod his head, and clench his fist. Adams smiles and kneels down. Jacob sees this and rushes over, making sure to defend him. He places his rifle on the ground and brings out a switch, giving a small beeping noise.
"Roger that Specialist, we're bringing it in." He hears. He smiles and gives his fist a pump, afterwards placing the switch back and picking up his rifle. He aims down his sights and fires, as does Jacob. Turning, he sees the carrier slowly making it's way over to him, and tramples a Chaos Bringer in the process. It reaches him and turns, while a hissing noise erupts. Adams quickly rushes over to the carrier and reaches it just as the door finishes opening. Inside is his Javelin, and he gives a fiendish grin as he grabs it. With haste, he rushes back out and looks over to Frank.
"Far side! North west!" He shouts as in between his reload. Adams nods and crouches down, with Jacob once again rushing over to provide cover. The javelin steadily beeps as it begins to lock on, and Adams keeps his finger ready to pull the trigger. Jacob yells at him to hurry up as he sees him drop an empty clip and place a new one in his gun. Adams hears a long continuous beep as the square in the javelin turns green, and he launches. The weapon pushes back into his shoulder as he watches the rocket sail into the air, and Chaos Bringers begin to panic.
Moore threw a Chaos Bringer over his shoulder and stomped on it's head. He looked back to his right, seeing another one charging him. He takes out his knife and holds it out, and the demon runs right into it. He pulls it away as the beast fades away, and places it back where it was. He raises his rifle once again, and pulls the trigger, sending the metal flying into his enemies. Rainbow picks off even more hostiles, and Moore tells her to clear out. She complies and flies high into the sky, she knew what he was planning. He reaches into a pouch along side his waist, and pulls out a metal cylinder. He pulls it's pin, which causes it to emit a blue smoke. Tossing it as hard as he can, he begins to back away from the area as well.
"Copy, I have visual, sending the heat." Newell says. Moore gets a little further away, then throws his arm in front of his face as he hears jet engines. He closes his eyes and braces himself. In the darkness of his closed eyes, he sees an orange light invade it, as well as the sound of explosions. He pulls his head away even further as Newell continues to unleash her missiles onto the Chaos Bringers. When it ends, Moore raises his head and opens his eyes, and smiles. The Chaos Bringers have been wiped out. Grabbing his weapon, he jogs over to the building and reaches to his ear.
"All Units be advised, Tanks have secured the south entrance, what's your status over?" Moore asks as he slips an empty clip out of his weapon. Rainbow flies down to meet him, and nods.
"Tanks be advised, we are facing heavy resistance, but have pushed them back to the main entrance! Over!" He hears Frank say through the radio.
"Roger that, Newell! Provide air support for the front team! Connors, tell those unicorns up there to activate the UGVs, Rainbow and I are moving in!' He shouts as he breaks down the door with a solid kick.
Mercuito stood by the door, arms folded, waiting for the Staff Sergeant. The trap door was ready, and so was he. He would defeat the human and crush their morale, then push them back. Without their precious leader, the ponies would fall into glorious chaos, which would of course give him more strength. He could imagine it now, giant versions of his children. It would be glorious. The door slammed open and the Staff Sergeant appeared, along with that rainbow colored pegasus. He smiled and pulled the lever next to him, causing the floor beneath the human to vanish, while the pegasus reacted exactly how he wanted it to. In shock. He grabbed it and choked it until it became unconscious, then threw it across the room. He would deal with her later, now he had a human infestation to eliminate.
Moore hit the ground with a thud. The iron armor he wore grinded against his body, and the tips of his iron battle gloves came off, revealing the gauntlets. He groaned and rubbed his head as he tried to take to his feet. His rifle had broken during the fall, so it must have been a long drop. He placed one hand on the ground and heard a soft squish. Horrified, he looked down, seeing exactly what he was afraid would be there. A dead body. He gave a quick shout and leaped backwards, stumbling as he almost tripped over something. Looking back, he saw another dead body, and felt his hand begin to shake.
"How does it feel Moore?" He heard. Jumping, he saw Mercuito. Growling, he tried to attack, but an image of Johnson dying flashed in his mind, and he stumbled. This allowed Mercuito to strike. He slammed his fist into his jaw, causing Moore to bleed from his lip. Moore saw more dead bodies, and more images flashed in his mind as he began to shake at his arms now. He breathed heavily as Mercuito slammed his fist into his gut. Moore coughed up a little bit of blood and shoved his right gauntlet into Mercuito's gut. The demon screamed and pulled back. Moore wiped his mouth, his limbs still shaking, and groaned.
"You're not beating me that easily." Moore said as another image flashed in his mind, this one of his Sergeant being shot. He groaned as he tried to push these images out of his mind. Mercuito growled, and launched at him. Moore evaded this strike and slashed him across the face. Mercuito pulled back, screaming in pain. Another image flashed in Moore's head, the one of the RPG explosion. He dropped to his knees, gasping for breath as his vision swirled out of control. He coughed more blood on the ground and pushed himself up. This was a psychological battle now. He had to remain sane long enough to beat this monster.
"I can feel you weakening." Mercuito said with a smug grin. Moore knew what he needed to do. Let him think he won. He stepped forward, then gave a whimper as he collapsed to his knees once more. He breathed heavily as more blood fell from his lip, and he heard Mercuito laugh.
"I knew my plan would work. Now those ponies are as good as mine." He said. Moore carefully pulled out his knife, making sure not to move too quickly. Looking up, he saw Mercuito raising his claws for one final strike.
"Not today..." Moore said as he drove his knife into the demon's abdomen. Mercuito gasped for breath and grasped the knife, trying to pull the knife out of him. Moore's vision was blurred greatly now, and he could barely make out Mercuito's figure. With what felt like every ounce of his energy, Moore grabbed his pistol, and pointed it. The sights slurred together in a mess of sloppy vision as he tried to aim for the villain's head. He growled as he focused all his power into his eyesight, allowing it to clear somewhat for a moment.
"And not ever!" He growled as he pulled the trigger. Moore smiled and let his PTSD take control as he was watching Mercuito drop. He breathed heavily, and the gun swayed in front of him. Moore groaned in sickness as more images flashed in his mind. His grip on the gun loosened, and slipped out of his hand. He collapsed falling onto the ground. He shook and breathed heavily as he desperately tried to control himself. The last thing he remembered before blacking out was hearing someone call his name.
Moore awoke in a hospital bed, and heard a faint beeping to the side of him. He groaned in sickness as he tried to sit up, rubbing his forehead. Looking down, he sees what he has every other time he has awoken in a hospital bed. His army green shirt, and camo pants. There are bandages wrapped around his right thigh, as well as his left arm. He brings his arm in front of him and inspects it.
"Ah, Mr. Moore, you're finally awake! How was your rest?" He hears. Looking to his right, he sees Nurse Redheart smiling and writing something on a clipboard. He looks around the room, trying to regain his sense. The last thing he had remembered was his name being called. After that, he had blacked out. Looking back over to the nurse, he saw her bringing him some food.
"How long was I out?" He asked as she placed the food on a small tray next to his bed. The Nurse shrugged.
"Not entirely sure. The attack force searched around for what they said was hours before they found you." She said. Moore nodded and laid down. He stared at the ceiling, not sure what to think. Mercuito was dead. At least, he remembered seeing him fall dead, but was that just a hallucination? There was no way he could be sure. He sighed and turned his head over to the tray the nurse had given him. On it was two apples and a glass with what looked like orange juice. Cautiously, he grabs an apple and inspects it.
"I know it's not exactly fine dining, but we wanted to make sure you were able to eat any solid foods at all before we gave you anything larger." Nurse Redheart explained as she checked on his heart beat monitor. Moore just held the apple in front of him for a while before he took a bite. He wasn't exactly hungry right now, but he figured he could take a bite of one of the apples just to be polite. The nurse said that there were people here to see him, and if it was alright they be sent in. Moore nodded and placed the apple on the tray as he sat up in the bed. He leaned forward slightly and placed his hands on his knees, looking over to the floor. Carefully, he shifted his weight and placed his feet on the floor. Using his palms, he pushed himself up out of the bed. He stumbled for a second, but managed to keep his balance.
"Hey John. Good to see you're alright." He hears. Looking to the left, he sees Jack standing there with Fluttershy, both of them smiling. Jack walks up and gives him a pat on the shoulder.
"You did it John. You killed him." He says with a smile. Moore smiled as well. So it hadn't been a hallucination. He really had ended that psychopath's life. It was finally over. Mercuito, the demon that had killed millions of ponies over thousands of years, was dead. Equestria was free of his plague forever. He heard the door open, and looked over, seeing the rest of his team and the other ponies walk in. Twilight ran up and gave him a hug, which he returned.
"I'm so glad you're okay." She said. Moore pulled away and stroked her mane as he stood. Each of the ponies took their turns saying how happy they were to see him awake, and his men did the same. Looking over to Newell, he saw her wiping her hands with a rag, which had black stains on it.
"What happened after he was killed? Did the Chaos Bringers retreat?" He asked. Newell chuckled and shook her head.
"They didn't even get the chance. About the second you killed that Mercuito guy, they just vanished. They tried to stay and fight, but they couldn't." She said as she tossed the rag onto the bed he had been resting on.
"Without their leader and creator, they had nothing that could keep them connected to this place. That's why they disappeared. They seemed to be in pain as they started to fade away. It was kind of amusing to watch." Frank said as he gave Rarity's head a quick pat, then stood to face the Staff Sergeant. His face looked scarred, with a severe cut along his eyebrow stretching to the top of his lip. Moore ignored it and considered it nothing more than a scar he had obtained in the battle. Frank came to his front, then smiled.
"Nice work out there sir. Must have been a heck of a fight with all that stuff down there." He said. Moore chuckled, scratching the back of his head.
"You have no idea..." He said as he placed one arm on his hip. Looking over to Rarity, he saw her looking unbelievably excited. Even more so than she should be, some thing else must have been going on for her to be that excited. Moore rose his eyebrow, and asked why she had such a large smile on her face. Frank turned around as well, and crossed his arms as he observed the mare. Rarity, looked around the room, then leaped with excitement as she gave her news. The Gala was on, and she was going to make clothing for everyone. The ponies all talked excitedly, but his men couldn't be more confused.
"The what?" Jacob asked as he looked over to Moore. Moore sighed and placed his hand to his forehead. He knew exactly what Rarity was talking about. That dance she had mentioned not long after he had first arrived. He mumbled under his breath, then crossed his arms as he blew air into the air.
"Hope you boys like dancing."
2 Days Later...
Moore rose his hand to his head in a salute as the casket came down the aisle. Around him, ponies were lined up in rows, each with their particular "mourning" outfits. They mostly consisted of black, and none had bright colors. To his right and left, Frank and Jack each saluted to the casket as well, neither of them happy to be where they were. It was the funeral for the fallen. A while after the attack in Seaddle, it was decided that instead of individual funerals, the dead would all be honored in one ceremony, that would last as long as it needed to. The scent of roses hung in the air as ponies tossed them into the path of the caskets, honoring those that had passed. Moore gave a quick sniff as he tried to control his own emotions. He couldn't help but feel that he was responsible, even though everyone said he did his best.
"With great victory... Comes great sacrifice." He heard Frank whisper to him. Moore gave a slight nod, then turned his attention back to the funeral. Across from him, Jessica, Jacob, and Derek saluted as well, each of them in their respective uniforms. Another casket passed, and the name of the deceased was given, along with requests of old stories that others had with the dead pony. The priest called for anyone that had known the soldier personally, and if they had anything to say. A young light red filly stepped up, along with a mare holding her hoof. Moore recognized the filly as the one that had thanked him for saving her life when he first arrived, and nearly shed a tear. The young one had lost a family member no doubt, but who it was, he couldn't be sure. The young girl placed one brightly colored daffodil on the coffin, along with a picture of her holding the hoof of a larger pony.
"I'll miss you daddy." She said as she said a tear. Moore sighed while ponies around her cooed. He briefly lowered his head, overcome with guilt over watching the child carry so much grief. The filly explained how her father had been inspired to join the SRTF after Seaddle, and how he had given his life to save a younger colt at the battle of Neigh York. She looked up to the casket and kissed her hoof, placing it on the casket.
"I love you." She said as her mother rubbed her mane. The priest went on to say he would not be forgotten, and would always be remembered as a brave soldier. The casket went away, and the family left to see him buried. Moore looked down the aisle, and shed a tear from grief when he saw this one. It was human sized, and only one human had died in Equestria. This was Hank's casket. He looked down to the ground as he felt a surge of guilt run through him, and briefly looked up the aisle, where Rainbow Dash was saluting in a custom made outfit for SRTF veterans. There were tears in her eyes when she saw the casket, and the bottom of her lip quivered. Next to her, Twilight placed a hoof on her friend's shoulder, and looked down at the casket as well.
"You think she'll be alright?" Frank asked in a hushed whisper. Moore sighed and dipped his head, shaking it.
"I don't know..." He said. Frank nodded and gave his CO a quick pat on the back before returning to his position in a salute. The casket came to a halt in front of them, and the priest announced everything.
"Here is Private Hank Daniels. One of our Guardians. He bravely succumbed to several severe bite and slash wounds of Chaos Ponies, even fighting while being extracted by Staff Sergeant Moore. He fought long and hard during his short life, and in times like now... It is important to remember that he knew this could happen. But he risked his life anyway, because he knew that it was the right thing to do." The priest said, his glasses slightly falling from his face. He smiled and placed a hoof on the casket, patting it gently.
"Daniels was a brave man, giving up everything he knew for the sake of others. We commend him for that. His sacrifice will never be forgotten amongst us." The priest continued. He patted the casket once more, nodding as he backed away. Moore lowered his hand and stepped forward. Looking around, he could see the grief stricken faces of many, with some questioning eyes. He focused on the casket, giving it a quick pat, sighing. He reached down toward his hip, and reached for the pistol that Hank had carried while he was alive. It had been recovered after the militia in Seaddle had deemed the area safe. He observed it for a second, then looked back to the casket. He sighed again, and shook his head. Behind him, Frank stepped forward, placing his own hand on the casket. He was quickly followed by Jacob and Derek. All of the men looked to Moore and nodded. Looking back down, Moore thought about that last image of Hank, breathing heavily as blood trailed out of his mouth, while he cried for his dead mother. Moore felt a hand on his shoulder, and looked to his right, seeing Jack with an understanding stare. The Specialist nodded, patting his shoulder. Moore finally took the pistol and lifted it, placing it gently on the casket.
"I'm sorry Hank..." He said as he hung his head, He gave the pistol a quick pat, then withdrew his hand, leaving his other hand on the casket with the others. He heard what sounded life hooves, and looked over. Rainbow had walked up to the casket, her face stained red from tears. She looked down to her chest, and observed the red stone that was incased in her pendant. She gently took it and observed it for a moment, sniffing to hold back more tears. She gently flew up to the top of the casket, placing the pendant just beneath the pistol. Moore smiled and patted the casket, glad to see Rainbow coming to grips. She sighed and flew back down to the ground. After a few minutes, Moore and the men had finished saying their goodbyes to their friend and fell back, returning to their saluting positions as the casket was carried away. Another casket came down the aisle...
One Week After the Funeral...
Moore watched as Frank tried to figure out which way he was supposed to tie his bowtie. The Grand Galloping Gala was only a few hours away, and Rarity had made all the soldiers tuxedos for the evening. With the exception of Jessica, whom she gave a dress.
"How exactly am I supposed to get this thing on?" He heard from behind. Looking back, he watched as Jack fumbled with his bowtie, getting his hand caught in the instrument. He groaned as he pulled his hand out of it, and shook his head as he went at it again. Moore chuckled and shook his head as he finished tying his. He stepped back and placed his hands behind him, observing himself in a mirror. He wore a jet black tuxedo, with a small, snow white collar surrounding his neck. In his right torso pocket was a purple flower, and underneath it was an American flag. He chuckled as he observed his bowtie, which was not in the greatest shape. It was crooked, with one of the sides pointing upwards toward his face. He shook his head and straightened the tie. He looked down to his arm, carried a collar around his wrist, with several black buttons around it. He twisted and observed the palm of his hand, still had marks from where the battle gloves had been.
"Not a bad designer, I'll give her that." He hears from his side. Looking over, he sees Derek, finishing tightening the collars around his wrist. Like Moore, he had a jet black tuxedo with a collar, but he had an orange flower, and the American flag under his was that of the original thirteen colonies. The tuxedos Rarity had made were all slightly different, making each one special for the particular soldier. Moore nodded, observing the mirror once more. Derek came up behind him and shook his head.
"I am not looking forward to this at all." He said with a somewhat exhausted tone, which sounded forced. Moore shook his head.
"Neither am I Sergeant. Neither am I." He said calmly. Derek shrugs and looks over to Jack, chuckling. Moore looks over to him as well, seeing him continue to struggle with his tie. Moore shook his head, telling Derek to meet him outside when the others were ready. Derek nodded and went over to help Jack, while Moore opened the door and walked outside. Looking up to the skies, he could see it's normally blue atmosphere turn to a light shade of orange as twilight descended into dusk. A few stars had already made an appearance, and the moon was just starting to appear over the horizon as the sun began to set. Moore smiled and sat down on a nearby chair as he watched the skies. Peace. Something every soldier longed for... Dreamed of experiencing, where you don't have to worry about anyone getting home safely, because they already are. Finally, he was a part of it. A soldier who fought for liberty and freedom, finally getting the reward that all soldiers wanted deep down. No more fighting, no more watching the endless bloodshed. It almost seemed to good to be true.
"Hey Staff Sergeant." He heard from behind. Looking back, he spotted Jacob walking towards him, casually taking a seat next to him. Moore nodded and looked back to the sky, watching as the sun continued to fall farther down the mountain top, making way for the moon.
"You think it's out there?" He heard Jacob ask. Moore turned to him and raised an eyebrow, asking what he meant.
"Home. Earth. You think it's out there?" He asked again. Moore nodded and shrugged. He hadn't really been thinking about Earth lately. Home seemed so far away. He could only imagine how far away it was, light years probably.
"I think it's out there. I don't know when we'll see it again though." He said. Jacob nodded and laid back in his chair, tracing the stars in the sky with his eyes, as though trying to memorize their patterns. He sighed as he lounged back, trying to get comfortable in his tux. Moore crossed one leg over his lap, watching as the sky began to fade into a light shade of purple, indicating the beginning of the falling night.
"Wonder what's happened back there." Jacob said as his eyes shifted towards his front. Moore looked at him, and noticed him with his chin resting in open hands, covering his mouth and part of his nose. Moore shook his head.
"There's no way we can be sure. But what I do know is that as long as there are men like us, they won't stop fighting. Especially the Captain." Moore said with a slight smile. Jacob chuckled and shook his head.
"Yeah, probably right. Just wish I could know what was happening. You know? With your family and stuff?" He asked. Moore turned away, rubbing his hands uncomfortably, and Jacob looked down.
"Sorry... Forgot..." He said as he rubbed the back of his head. Moore shook his head and told him it was fine. The sun had all but vanished now, and the moon moved higher into the sky, giving a white glow to the stars and the trees, while ponies around them walked around, buying various things, like life had never been different. Moore smiled. It was sights like this that made him proud to be a soldier. Seeing peaceful towns, where civilians didn't have to worry about being attacked in the night, and rest easy.
"We did good work here." Moore said aloud. He looked over to Jacob, and saw him nod, smiling.
"Yeah, we did. We lost one of guys doing it though." He said with a sigh. He shook his head, looking back down to the ground. Moore looked away as well, remembering Hank. The young kid had a lot of life left in him. They all did actually, but he was by far the youngest. 21 at the most. Just a kid. Moore shook his head and looked back to the sky.
"At least he gave his life for what he believed in. What every soldier is trained to do." He heard Jacob say. Moore nodded. Looking back over to Jacob, he saw him playing the collars on his wrists, placing a small pink flower petal there. Moore sighed and looked up, seeing the others walk out the doorway. It was off the Gala now.
A/N Well, it's finally over. Guardians has come to an end. What a ride. Thank you fir all support, and shout outs to:
Crimson Banner for: Name, Rank, and Specialization for Specialist Jack Adams
Sniperspotter123 for: OC Airman 1st Class Jessica Newell
Sgt. Sporky for: Constructive Criticism
ShiningShadow1965: For a review of every single chapter
DJ The Brony for: Insight to your own battle experience.
All of My Readers for: Allowing me to share my story with you.
Moore looked at the castle, shining in the night. A vast array of precious gems had been added to the castle, giving it a spark unlike Moore had ever seen before. He looked to the left, seeing several other ponies smiling in fancy outfits, each chatting excitedly about the gala. He sighed, looking up to the moon. A single moon, just like Earth. He had never really taken the time to notice that. It wasn't that he didn't care, it was just that he never had the time to notice. In front of the door leading to the castle were decorative portraits of each of the soldiers. Underneath each were words thanking each soldier, respectively. He allowed himself a slight smile as he watched Royal Guards, out of uniform, enter the Gala and get swarmed by ponies thanking them. They had earned it. This gala was the very first to have a special purpose: To celebrate the end of the war, and honor the veterans who fought in it. As opposed to the funeral, which honored the fallen. The day of the funeral had become a worldwide holiday. The ponies were going to call it Memorial Day. How ironic. Moore took a deep breath in, and let it go as he tried to calm himself down. Anxiety was building up inside of him, although he couldn't find out why.
"Don't worry John. You'll be fine." He heard from behind. Looking back, he saw Derek with a hand on his shoulder. He smiled and nodded, giving his shoulder a pat. Moore nodded, and looked back to the entrance. With one final exhale, he stepped forward. Instantly there was a faint cheering, which erupted into full blown applause. Ponies everywhere chanted the slogan of the Rangers, showing their thanks. Moore smiled and continued to walk forward, throwing his fist into the air. The ponies cheered even harder, and some began to shout the slogan of the Air Force as Newell stepped in. This was the first time Moore had seen her since the funeral. She had on a blue dress, along with a small tiara of daffodils in her hair. She smiled and waved as several ponies cheered for her as well.
"I feel like a hero right now." He heard Jack say. He chuckles.
"You are one Jack. get used to it." He says with a smile. Jack nods and turns to a group of ponies shouting his name, and waves. Moore looks over to the front of the castle, where a winding staircase ascends to a large glass window, depicting him leading the soldiers to battle. A plane is depicted above them, and n a cloud is Hank, standing and watching over the others. Moore smiles. This was all so much of an honor, and each pony's cheers only made him more humbled. Most would be full of pride right now, but not him. Not of them were. They were grateful for all of this, but they knew that the real heroes were those that were gone. Especially the ponies that had trusted complete strangers and aliens in hope they could save their homes.
As things progressed, each soldier managed to find the pony that they had come to know in Equestria. Moore smiled as he shared a fast embrace with Twilight, who was wearing a remarkable dress. She pulled away and asked what he thought. Moore just smiled and shook his head. He was at a loss for words. This was breathtaking. A large flash of white light began to form at the top of the stairs, and the light bounces off of the chandeliers, giving the entire castle a rainbow like aura.
"Staff Sergeant Moore. Corporal Barns. Specialist Adams. Sergeant Connors. Airman First Class Newell. Corporal Hans." He hears an authoritative voice say. Looking to the top of the stairway, he sees Princess Celestia, and Princess Luna. Both of them are smiling, and staring proudly over the soldiers. Moore gets down onto one knee, bowing his head. His men quickly do the same.
"Princesses." He says. Celestia tells them to rise, and they comply. Moore brings his arms behind his back, and Princess Luna steps forward. The room becomes deathly quiet, and the princess closes her eyes. She gives a satisfactory sigh and observes each of the soldiers. Next to him, Twilight whispers her congratulations, while he notices Jack rubbing Fluttershy's mane. He chuckles and looks back to the Princesses.
"We would like to personally thank each, and every single one of you. For your courage, your determination, and most of all, your sacrifices." The princess began. Moore nods. Ponies around the room give their agreeing statements, and Princess Luna continues.
"You led the charge to free our kingdom, when nopony else could. You endured every painful blow on that battlefield, taking every strike that Mercutio threw at you. Yet, never did you back down. Never did you fall back, instead you led with the heart of a champion. Leading troops into the most hazardous of missions, and putting your lives on the line for the sake of a race that was not your own." She said. Moore nodded and looked behind him. His men carried the same proud smiles, taking in every single word that the Princess said. She smiled and looked over to Celestia, who nodded. Turning back to the soldiers and the crowd, she began again.
"Had it not been for you, we may never have won this war. Your determination and bravery caused hundreds of thousands of ponies to stand and fight against Mercutio's forces. We know you had to endure the tragic loss of one of your own, Private Hank Daniels." She said. Her expression had changed to a frown upon mention of Hank, as the soldiers'. Moore shook his head, and Twilight placed a hoof on his hand.
"It's okay." She said reassuringly. Moore sighed, looking down to the ground. Hank had been so young, and despite what so many said, he had so much potential. Everything was supposed to be okay for him, the kid. An unsung mission of the leaders was to get the youngest home safely, and Moore had failed. But still, he had to remember that he knew the risks. He had know what had been on the line, but fought anyway. Twilight, the Princess, everyone was right. It was going to be okay. Moore nodded and looked back up to the Princess. A smile had returned to her face, and she began once more.
"We cannot thank you enough for everything you have done. But we would like to start by declaring all of you heroes. And honoring this day as one of celebration for what you have done." She said. She was about to continue, but just then, doors burst open, and a stallion, apparently panicked, ran through the doors. He quickly sprinted up to the Princesses, and heaved out a long heavy breath.
"Princess Celestia, Princess Luna! I... It's very bad news! The Manticores have gone insane! They've attacked a camp of innocent civilians! And they're moving in on Fillydelphia!" He shouts. A collected gasp is heard from the crowd as they begin to chatter nervously, and Princess Celestia appears deeply troubled. Moore turns to face his men, and smiles mischievously. They all smile and nod.
2 Hours Later...
Moore strapped his battle glove on, giving it a hard pat as he watched Newell hop into her fighter jet. Beside him, Frank fed a belt into his LMG, placing grenades into his side pouches. Moore smiled and looked over to a group of SRTF soldiers. In the front was Rainbow Dash, placing on her helmet. She looked over to him, and gave a nod. Moore gave a thumbs up and reached down to grab his newly reconstructed M4. Twilight had worked all week, and finally fixed it.
"Be careful out there okay?" He heard Twilight say. Moore turned to face her, still in her dress for the Gala. She was genuinely concerned, and he could understand why. He rubbed her mane and nodded. Stepping forward, he turned to face his men and ponies. They stared at him with anticipation.
"Men, Ponies. There is a town out there being terrorized by beasts ready to kill and maim you without any thought. They are getting closer by the minute, and are going to try to kill innocent ponies. I'm not going to let that happen. Who's with me?" He asked. They all shouted in unison, pumping fists hooves, and weapons into the air. Moore smiled, and ordered the carriers to get moving. One carrier stopped in front of him, and he walked inside. Moore brought his first bullet into the chamber as he prepared to charge into battle one last time.
Reposters Note: I have to mention, the author is writing a sequel. It will go up on fanfiction.net first, and when it's complete, I'll see about getting his permission to repost it here.