a link from past to future,
The sheltering wings of the protector... "
Trottingham AFB, Equestria
April 28th, 2015
Betrayed. Forgotten. Abandoned.
That was how Rainbow Dash often felt these days.
It was another dreary day at Trottingham Air Force Base, except a steady downpour of rain was drenching anypony who was unfortunate enough to be outside. Normally, the ponies could easily stop the storm with a few weather teams. Now however, there was no available Pegasi that ERAF could spare to handle the rouge weather. Dash didn’t really care about the reasons why however, just that she was getting soaked as she crossed the runway that the humans had once used to help get their aircraft in the sky. But now they remained empty, used only to house support vehicles, or some armored transports if the army base had no room for them. Dash sighed, as the runway was just one of the many reminders of the reality that she was living in. After she crossed the damp asphalt of the runway, Dash opened the door to the mid-sized building that was the Officer’s Quarter’s. She entered into the heated room of the lounge, attempting to dry off her mane and uniform. Sitting at one of the tables were two earth ponies, one mare and one Stallion, that seemed to be looking over a report of some kind. Both were wearing standard Army Jackets, but the one on the right was wearing a large hat that was clearly not standard issue.
“And that’s all ya have?” The mare asked. Her companion nodded.
“Yes ma’am,” He replied, regret in his voice. “We lost three more of our scouts in the past couple of days, so we’re not getting in as much information as we’d like.”
“Not enough information that ya’d like?” The mare scoffed. “This isn’t what ah NEED! We’ll going out into the field blind, and that means more lost lives! What do you Intelligence bozos not get about that?” The stallion returned her glare with a look of genuine sadness.
“We do understand Lieutenant,” He said. “But we’re stretched incredibly thin. Every Army, Navy, and Air Force Officer is begging for more and more information, because the lives of their troops are on the line. But we simply don’t have the resources to get what everypony needs, it’s just not possible. We lose more and more agents to the Gryphons every day. I’m sorry Lieutenant, but this is the best we could do.” The stallion gathered his things, and started making his way toward the door. He nodded at Rainbow Dash as he passed her.
“Commander.” He said. She simply grunted in response, moving to the side to let him exit. As the door closed behind the pony, Dash took a seat beside her friend.
“Long day Applejack?” She asked. Applejack rubbed her forehead with her hoof.
“Yep,” She said plainly. “And it just got a whole lot longer for me.”
“Why’s that?” Rainbow asked, taking a look at the report on the table.
“Intelligence was supposed to get me reports on the Gryphon activity in our patrol zone.” She sighed and sat back in the chair. “Unfortunately for me, they got a fat load of nothin’. We’ll be movin’ on our patrol practically blind.” Rainbow nodded, completely understanding her frustration.
“I can sympathize,” She said. “Without the human drones, we have no idea when or where the Gryphon squadrons will strike.” She made no attempt to hide the bitterness in her voice. Applejack looked at her out of the corner of her eye,
“Oh don’t start this again…”
“You can’t tell me that you’re not furious about it!” Applejack groaned and looked Rainbow in the eyes.
“Ya, I’m angry,” She admitted. “But I think they did what they thought was best.”
“What THEY thought was best?!” Rainbow Dash was outraged. “They abandoned us! They pulled out to save their own hides! They don’t care what happens to us so long as they stay nice and safe!”
“Now don’t go around saying things like that,” Applejack replied, feeling slightly annoyed. “Riley promised that they’d be back!”
“That was over a month ago,” Dash shot back “And we haven’t heard a peep from the Federation since! Face it Applejack, the humans left us to burn.” The Earth pony remained quiet, not sure how to respond. Rainbow had a point; the humans had all left Equestria, save a few who refused to abandon the ponies. But other than a handful of exceptions, almost all the humans had just packed up and left, and hadn’t been seen since, despite their promise to return and help their allies. But she couldn’t give up on the hope that they would return, because if they didn’t, Equestria didn’t have a chance of winning the war.
“Ah… Ah’m not gonna give up on them just yet.” Rainbow snorted,
“Why not? They’ve already given up on us.” She shook her head. “Keep your illusions then, Celestia knows I won’t be the one to shatter them.” The pair sat in silence, neither one wanting to start up the argument again. After about five minutes of the uncomfortable silence, a brown Pegasus wearing an Royal Air Force uniform entered the room. He walked up to Rainbow Dash and gave a sharp salute,
“Orders from command Ma’am.” He said, handing her a piece of paper. She nodded in acknowledgement, letting him find his own way out. As she heard the door slam shut, Dash looked at what she had been given.
Rainbow Squadron, report to hangar three for patrol orders.
Rainbow sighed and stood up from the chair,
“Back to work.” She said. Applejack nodded,
“Good luck to ya, Ah’m gonna have to head out before too much longer myself.” She tipped her hat. “Stay safe out there Rainbow.”
“You too AJ.” Rainbow replied, making her way to the door. As the exited the warm lounge, she noticed that the rain had died down some. It would make flying a lot easier on her and her squadron, one of the few blessings she counted these days.
She doubted any more would be coming soon.
City of Coronet, Human Mainland
United Human Federation Command Center
1200 hours, April 28th, 2015
If there was one thing in the world that could put General Davis in a bad mood, it was a lack of coffee. This was one of those days, one of those days when you put your cup to the coffee machine, pressed the button, and nothing happened.
Fortunately for him, the assistants had long ago realized that the General with coffee was a happy General. That was most likely why he found a hot cup of his favorite roast from one of the local stores on his desk. Davis smiled to himself, pleased that he had such dependable staff. As he sipped the hot liquid, he read over the stack of reports on his desk. Nothing new had arrived this morning, status on the armada, Gryphon troop movements within Equestria, and the completion of another squadron of planes being constructed. As he read over the latest scout reports, his intercom buzzed. He pressed the button,
“General, your presence is needed in the war room.” Davis furrowed his brow, he hadn’t been asked to go to the war room in some time now.
“I’m on my way.” He said.
The War Room hadn’t changed much since he had last been in it. It was lined with computers and monitors that spouted out all sorts of Tactical information. Men and Women from every branch of the military; Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines, manned each monitor. Known as “Minutemen”, they would be the first ones to receive any and all military information as it came in, then send it off to their respective commanding officers. One of the Minutemen whom Davis recognized as Major Coats, an Air Force Officer, was standing away from his console, looking at the General. He approached, saluting the superior officer as he did so.
“General,” He said. “A situation has developed that demands your attention.” Davis nodded,
“Show me.” He replied. Coats nodded, and lead him towards the tactical map in the center of the room. It was an interactive holographic image that showed a map of Equestria. The image had become very familiar to Davis, as he had seen it dozens of times. A red color covered over three quarters of Equestria, showing the part of the country that was under Gryphon control. In the south, the green color represented the part that the ponies had managed to hold on to, even though that part was shrinking by the day. Doting the east coast of Equestria, which was under complete Gryphon control, were blinking blue dots, each representing an Advanced Reconnaissance Commando, deep behind enemy lines, sending back every ounce of information they could find to the rest of the Human forces. Coats pressed a few buttons on a nearby console, entering a command. The image zoomed into the Equestrian coast, showing a Gryphon base with an ARC trooper nearby.
“ARC Trooper one-oh-one has discovered a major increase around Rigley Air Base.” Davis thought for a moment.
“Rigley, that’s one of the bases we had to abandon. What’s he found?” Coats handed him a computer tablet,
“He hasn’t gotten us much detail, but it appears that the Gryphons have moved a squadron of bombers to Rigley along with a full escort team.” The General raised a brow, reading over the report more carefully. Bombers were the only Jet-propelled aircraft that was used by both Gryphons and Ponies, since both species could fly unassisted. They were mainly used for heavy ground support or bombardment when machine guns or ground vehicles couldn’t get the job done.
“Rigley is nowhere near the frontline, why would they be moving bombers there?” Coats punched in another series of commands, now the image zoomed into an area that Davis had never seen before. It was a very small outcrop of land off the Equestrian mainland. Even more surprising was that it was green, meaning it was still under Equestrian control.
“What is this?” The General demanded.
“This is Allenfort Air Base, the last Equestrian holdout in the north. We believe that it has remained unknown due to its remote location, but the Gryphons are now planning to take it out.” Coats replied. General Davis rubbed his chin,
“I see,” He said. “This isn’t good, but I fail to see why you needed to bring this to my attention right this moment.” Coats didn’t even blink,
“Sir, Allenfort is the only remaining base in the north, which means they probably have loads of information that we’ll need. If we lose Allenfort, our entire plan for a counter-attack may very well fail.” Davis considered,
“Then we need to make sure Allenfort doesn’t fall,” He said. “Do we have any forces in the area that can deal with this?” Coats nodded, and the image changed again.
“We have an Aircraft Carrier, the F.S.S. Glory, that’s close enough to respond.” Davis studied the image.
“That’s awfully close to the mainland, I thought all Naval forces were recalled back to our borders.” Coats nodded.
“That’s correct sir, but the Glory stayed behind to help pick up a few stranded forces.”
“I see,” The General said. “What’s their compliment?”
“A single squadron of F-16’s.”
“Rogue Squadron sir.”
Just the sound of their name gave Davis a headache.
They were well deserving of their name. Even before the war had began, they were known as a rowdy bunch, known for their wild parties, running late during training operations, and wild maneuvers while in the sky. During the war, they had been almost insubordinate. Ignoring orders to do what they thought was best, attacking targets that had been deemed non-threatening, and refusing to drop bombs in civilian areas for fear of hitting innocents. They were noble, but not practical. The only thing that stopped them from being court-marshaled was the fact that they were one of the few active fighter squadrons within Equestria when the invasion had begun. He actually was surprised that they followed the withdraw order, fully expecting them to go AWOL and keep fighting.
“Are they the only ones within range?”
“Yes sir.” Davis sighed, knowing he was in for a long day.
“Give them the go ahead,” He said. “And get an AWACS in the air; I don’t them flying blind out there.” Coats nodded.
“I’ll send out the orders sir.”
April 28th, 2015
There were many reasons why Cole had joined the Air Force instead of the Navy. For instance, he had always loved the sky, flying through it always made him feel free. Also, the cockpit of a plane offered privacy that was precious to people in the Navy.
But mostly, it was because he got sea sick. Very easily.
Sitting on his bunk, Cole tried to think about other things while his stomach threatened to empty its contents on the deck. As he had his inward struggle, he heard a stifled laugh from his right. Well, at least he thought it was his right. His dizziness was making it hard to tell.
“What’s wrong Commander?” came Dare’s teasing voice. “You’re not going to keel over on us are you?” He glared at her through his swimming vision, using the color of her Blonde hair to pick out her position.
“Not… Funny Dare…” He grumbled. Next to him, his Wingman Justin laughed along with Dare.
“Actually, this is one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a long time,” He said between laughs. “You look even worse than after the party that Pink Pony threw for our arrival at the new base.”
“Yes, well that’s what you get for drinking hot sauce.” Dare chimed in.
“It’s… not my fault they put that bottle next to all the other drinks…” Cole said, remembering the embarrassing moment.
“Man, I remember how you drank at least two gallons of water trying to cool your mouth!” Justin laughed. “You couldn’t stop going to the bathroom for DAYS!” Cole opened his mouth to retort, but the ship’s booming intercom cut him off.
“Attention, all Rogue Squadron pilots, suit up and report to hangar deck for assignment. That is all.”
The announcement ended with a click, leaving all three pilots silent for a moment. Justin was the first to speak.
“Did… Did I hear that right?” He asked, as stunned as his companions. “Did we just get an order to suit up?”
“We did.” Dare said, a smile forming on her face. “They have a mission for us!”
“Then what are we waiting for?” Cole shouted, leaping up. “Let’s get going!”
“You sure you’re feeling up to it?” Dare asked, faking concern. “You were looking pretty sick just a few moments ago.” Cole had already managed to get his flight suit on.
“Are you kidding?! Just the thought of getting off this rust bucket makes me feel two-hundred percent better already!” Zipping up the suit, he bolted out the door. Justin couldn’t help but laugh,
“Ah, our fearless leader…”
The Hangar seemed very empty to Cole, at least compared to other operations he had been a part of. All eight pilots of Rogue Squadron were gathered around one of the ship’s officers, who was giving them a five minute briefing while their planes were finished being armed. Cole had been expecting a simple patrol run, what he got was something else entirely.
“About six minutes ago, one of our Reconnaissance troopers spotted a group of Gryphon bombers and about a dozen escort Gryphons departed from Rigley Air Force base. Long range radar confirms that their target is Allenfort Air base off the coast of Equestria.” Cole recognized the name. He had served with a Pegasus Squadron out of Allenfort, even though he had never been there himself.
“Do we have an exact number on the enemy craft?” Dare asked. The Deck Officer shook his head,
“No, the ARC trooper wasn’t able to get an exact count during their takeoff. We need you to intercept these bombers and take them out before they reach Allenfort.” Cole’s mind started racing.
“Are we… Returning to Equestria?” He asked. Everyone in the hangar knew exactly what he was asking. None of Rouge squadron had wanted to leave the fight, and had almost ignored the order.
“No Commander,” The officer said. “We are not returning to the mainland in force quite yet, but this will be a big step towards the counter-attack.”
Well, that’s a start, Cole thought.
“Do we have any support from the sky?”
“Not from the Ponies, intelligence says that all their units are away at this time.”
“So in other words, they’re a Sitting Duck.” Dare said plainly.
“Basically,” The man replied. “However, we have an AWACS in the sky; by the time you reach Allenfort they should make contact with your squadron.” He looked around to the pilots. “Time is of the essence here Rogues, get to your planes and prepare for immediate takeoff.” The pilots nodded, and headed toward their jets. As he walked past his F-16, Cole ran his hand across the jet, feeling the smooth metal. Climbing into the cockpit, he felt more at home than ever. The familiar buttons and controls were much more comforting to him than any building or ship could offer. He strapped himself in, running through his pre-flight checklist. Once he was satisfied that his plane was combat-ready, he found that he was already on the runway. He looked into the blue sky, already feeling the excitement of flight.
“Rogue one, you are cleared for takeoff.” He heard the control tower radio.
“Got it Tower.” He responded. He kicked in the throttle, hearing the rockets boom behind him, shaking the jet. It shot forward, sending Cole slamming back into his chair. He pulled back on the stick, gaining altitude. The plane’s wheels lifted off of the Aircraft Carrier, now gaining more and more altitude by the second. Below him, the beautiful blue Equestrian Ocean flowed. It was one of the few things that had been left relatively untouched during the war. Cole might not have liked ships, but he loved the beauty of the ocean currents. He admired the view for the few minutes it took for the other pilots to take off. Once his radar showed all eight planes were in the sky, he activated his radio.
“Glory, this is Rogue Leader. All planes are in the sky, and we’re about to commence operation.”
“Copy all Rouge Lead, happy hunting.” He switched to a squadron frequency.
“Rogues, form up. We’ll head east until we make contact with the AWACS.”
“You got it Lead.”
It felt great to fly again. The freedom of the sky was always welcoming, as was the privacy of his own little world that his jet offered. He wished that he could just fly around the world for days. Unfortunately, they still had a war to fight, so his dream would have to wait for now.
“Hey Lead,” His radio crackled. “We’re about fifty miles from Allenfort, but where’s that AWACS at?”
“I don’t know Six,” Cole responded. “But I don’t think they- Hold on.” Another radio signal was cutting through the static.
“…Repeat, Rogue Squadron, do you copy?”
“This is Rogue One, identify.”
“AWACS here, callsign ‘SkyEye’, do you read?”
“We read you loud and clear SkyEye.”
“Roger that, you’ve been transferred under my command now Rogues.”
“Oh goody, a new boss!” Justin said. “I’d like a raise SkyEye!”
“Ya well join the club.” Came the response. “And while we’re dreaming, why not give me a new sports car while you’re at it?”
“Well, I’d also ask for-”
“As much fun as this is,” Dare said, cutting through the channel. “I do believe that we have to, you know, save the world or something?” SkyEye laughed.
“Nothing quite so extreme,” He said. “But you’re about twenty miles from Allenfort right now, so we’d better get to the mission.”
“SkyEye, do you have an exact count on the enemy numbers?”
“Affirmative, short range radar confirms six enemy bombers and a dozen Gryphon escorts, continue east to intercept.”
“I’ll be damned, that ARC got his numbers right after all.” Rogue Eight commented.
“Oh and by the way,” SkyEye added. “Today’s my birthday, so a victory would be nice.”
“Then we’ll be sure to dedicate this one to you SkyEye,” He kicked in the thrusters. “Rogues, accelerate to intercept speed.”
Studying a radar screen was an art. Or at least, that’s what Trail Blazer told himself. As a flight officer 2nd class, he was basically in charge of the radar room. Really, he was a glorified babysitter, but the title sounded nice at least, and he made sure to emphasize it whenever he was away from base. He doubted he would get many Mares if he just told them that he just stared at a computer screen all day. At this moment, the screen was, like usual, blank. Nothing was making a blip, but Trail hadn’t expected anything less. He leaned back, stretching his stiff limbs, making a few popping sounds. He closed his eyes, letting them rest for a moment.
Trail’s eyes snapped open. That couldn’t have happened, he had probably just imagined it.
He sat forward, staring at the screen, hoping that it was just his mind playing tricks on him. He followed the flowing green line, watching it intently. He watched in horror as dots began to form on the radar; five, six, seven- no eight dots showed up in the sweep. His heart started pounding in his chest, fearful of what this meant.
“C-Captain!” he yelled. “We have contacts! About twenty miles out and approaching fast!” He looked over, seeing the color drain from his commander’s face.
“Gryphons?” He demanded, asking the question everypony wanted to know. Trail went back to the radar, looking carefully.
“I...I don’t think so,” He said. “They’re approaching from the East, not the West, and they’re too big to be Gryphons or Pegasi, but too small to be bombers.” The fear left his Captain’s face, replaced by confusion.
“Open up a hailing channel, find out who they are.” The Pegasus ordered. Trail complied, reaching for a nearby headset and activating the radio.
“Incoming aircraft heading eastbound, identify yourself immediately.” He said, speaking with more confidence than he felt. A male voice crackled over the radio in response.
“Allenfort Air Base, this is AWACS unit SkyEye, flying along with Rogue Squadron of the United Human Federation.” Trail sat in stunned silence, not quite believing what he was hearing.
“Who is it Blazer?” He heard his Captain demand.
“It’s… humans…” He said, not quite believing what he was saying himself. The officer returned the answer with his own surprised look.
“Ask them what the buck they’re doing in our airspace; they forfeited the right to free travel long ago!” Trail swallowed, regaining his composure.
“Uh, SkyEye, what-“
“Incoming from the West!” A Unicorn radar operator from the other side of the tower called out. “I’m counting over a dozen contacts! These are definitely Gryphons, with what looks like bombers!” The Captain’s shocked look re-appeared.
“All of our combat units are out on assignment,” He said, almost like he was talking to himself. He whirled around to face Trail. “Tell the humans that we’re under attack, and we need assistance!” Trail nodded, and faced the radio.
“SkyEye, we’re about to fall under air attack from our west, we request assistance from your fighter squadron immediately!” Another voice came over the radio, who Trail could only guess was Rogue Leader.
“Why do you think we’re here Allenfort?” The man asked sarcastically. “Just sit back and watch the fireworks!” Outside the windows, eight human F-16 fighters rocketed past the tower at full speed.
"SkyEye, we have just passed Allenfort, we now have enemy targets on radar. Request permission to engage.” Cole said.
“Roger that, Rogue Squadron, you are cleared to engage enemy bogeys.” Cole smiled under his breath mask,
“Now the fun begins,” He said. “Rouge Five, take your wing and head to the enemy’s ten-o-clock, try to draw away and deal with the escorts. We’ll ambush the bombers.”
“Got it boss.” Dare replied, leading three other fighters into the designated position.
“Two, Four, and Ten; stay in formation. We’re going to gain some altitude here, stay close.” He pulled up, watching his altitude counter increase as he did so. After he pulled through a group of clouds, he leveled the fighter. “Hold here in loose parade formation,” Cole ordered his wing. “Let them come to us.” The four jets began to float around in a circle, waiting. In the distance, he could know see the bombers as blots on the horizon.
“Tally ho on the bogeys,” Dare said over the radio. “Moving to attack position.” On the radar, he watched the four Rogues turn their fighters toward the approaching Gryphons and accelerate.
“Rogue One, we’re picking enemy short range radio transmissions.” SkyEye said. “Patching you in now.” The radio buzzed for a moment, then he heard a Gryphon voice come to his ears.
“…Copy that, stay on course and we’ll be on top of their base within a couple minutes.”
Cole smiled to himself. Thanks to a lot of scouting and intercepting transmissions, the Federation had managed to crack the Gryphon’s encryption, allowing the humans to listen in on their radio signals.
“Grey One, we’re picking up bandits on our ten-o-clock.” Another Gryphon said.
“Affirmative, I see them on radar too.” Another responded. “I count four of them.”
“Only four?” One laughed. “Haha, is that the best the puny ponies could muster? This’ll be even easier than I thought.”
“Cut the chatter Grey Five,” Said another, who Cole assumed was the leader. “They probably have more up ahead. Red group, break off and engage the bandits. Blue group, make a defensive perimeter around the bombers.”
“We’ll take care of them sir.” An arrogant voice responded. On radar, Cole saw six Gryphons break away from the main group towards Dare’s wing of fighters.
“Oh boy, are these bastards in for a surprise.” Justin said over the radio. “They’re expecting a group of Pegasi, what they’ll find will scare them to death. Literally!” Cole didn’t respond, he just watched the radar intently as the two groups moved towards each other. Just a few more seconds, and the jets would be in range.
“Hey Red Four,” One of the Gryphons said. “Do you hear that noise?”
“That’s just the bombers.”
“No… that coming from ahead of-“
“Rogue Five, Fox Two!” Dare yelled. A missile launched from her plane, flying strait toward the enemy formation. Before they could react, an explosion of fire and shrapnel engulfed the lead Gryphon.
“Rouge Nine, Fox Two!”
“Rogue Six, Fox Two!” Two more missiles streaked away from the jets toward the Gryphons. One managed to dodge the missile, but his friend wasn’t so lucky. Know the Jets and Gryphons were on top of one another, getting into a four on four dogfight. The Gryphons tried to whirl on the humans, using the machine guns on their backs to try to shoot down the jets. This strategy worked well against Pegasi, since they were flesh and blood opponents. However, this strategy didn’t work very well, since a rake of gunfire on a jet typically wouldn’t bring it down, while a rake of gunfire from a jet to a Gryphon had much more devastating effects.
“Red group is getting torn apart!” He heard a Gryphon cry. “What the hell is happening over there?!”
“Doesn’t matter,” The leader replied. “We’re ten miles out from the target, open the bomb-bay doors!”
Cole checked his radar again, seeing the bombers were much closer now.
“Now!” He cried, kicking in the accelerator. His fighter responded to his orders with exact precision. He bursts through the clouds, the enemy formation right in front of him. His radar made a beeping noise, affirming that he had a target lock on one of the bombers.
“Rouge One, Fox Two!” He shouted, sending two missiles toward his target. He was rewarded with a fiery explosion as his jet through the enemy formation. He heard the satisfying sound of the rest of his wing confirming missile releases and more explosions.
He whipped the fighter around to re-engage, seeing two bombers and a Gryphon escort falling out of the sky. As he leveled out his aircraft, he saw two Gryphons break off to engage Cole and Justin.
“Rogue Two, take down that bomber.” He ordered his wingman. “I’ll take care of these two.” He rolled the plane away from his friend, flying towards the two bandits. His radar targeted one on the left,
“Radar locked,” He said. “Fox Two!” He pressed the button, launching a missile towards the Gryphon. The two rolled away in opposite directions, sending the missile flying harmlessly past them. He swore under his breath, sending his fighter after the pair.
“Missile shot trashed.” SkyEye commented.
I couldn’t tell, Cole thought. He pushed the accelerator, putting himself right behind one of them. The Gryphon noticed, and tried to pull away, but it was already too late.
“Guns guns guns!” Cole said, squeezing the trigger. The Vulcan machine gun opened fire, raking the Gryphon with bullets. It dropped out of the sky, falling quickly towards the ground. His wingman suddenly decelerated, sending Cole rocketing past him. Cole swore, as the Gryphon was now at his six-o-clock. He pulled his fighter left and right, trying to shake his pursuer off, but the Gryphon stayed with him. The pilot send his fighter into downward spiral, feeling the g-force pushing against his body like a massive weight.
“Rogue One, you are losing altitude fast, pull up!”
“I… Know what I’m… doing SkyEye!” He shouted between gritted teeth. At the last moment, he pulled up on the stick, bringing the fighter into a climb. The pressure was so intense that it would have certainly destroyed any fighter that wasn’t up to milaspec standards. Cole expected the Gryphon to give up the chase, but incredibly, the bandit was still on his tail, firing bullets wildly.
Not bad, He thought. Lucky for me, he’s an even worse shot than a drunk Conscript.
“This is Rogue One, I’ve got one stubborn bogey on my rear,” He said. “Anyone feel like lending a hand?”
“I see you Lead,” One of his friends said. “Hang on.” Cole watched another F-16 moving towards him at high speed. “Rogue Ten, Fox Two!” The human’s missile jetted past Cole, taking out the confident Gryphon with a resounding boom.
“Nice shot Ten.” Cole said, looking back to the skies. He spotted the last two remaining bombers now about four miles from Allenfort. “Looks like our friends are getting uncomfortably close to our pony pals, feel like helping me show them the exit?”
“You bet! I’ve got your wing Lead!” Ten responded, taking his position on Cole’s left. The pair accelerated, using the plane’s powerful engines to quickly catch up with the pair of bombers. Within seconds, his radar confirmed a lock on the enemy plane.
“Fox Two!” He yelled, sending two more missiles toward his target. They both impacted at the same time, splitting the bomber into a showing rain of metal and fire. A quick look from his peripheral vision told him that Rogue Ten had made quick work of the last bomber as well. The Gryphon crewmembers that had survived the explosions were now bailing out of their steel coffins in any openings they could find, fleeing as fast as their wings could carry them back in the direction of the mainland.
“Looks like we’ve got some stragglers,” Rogue Four observed. “Should we engage?”
“Negative, let them go Rogues.” SkyEye answered. “I think they’ve had a bad enough day.”
The second wing of F-16’s had rejoined the rest of the squadron, circling around the downed bombers. Cole glanced at Dare’s cockpit, seeing her middle finger extended toward the retreating Gryphons.
“Ya, try doing THAT with talons you bastards!” She mocked. Looking around the sky, Cole was relieved to see that all eight fighters were still in the sky.
“All planes report damage.” He ordered. A few of them, including his own, had suffered mild bullet damage, but nothing serious. “Alright Rogues, let’s-” A voice came over the radio, the same voice that had greeted them when they had arrived.
“SkyEye, this is Allenfort, we have visual on the downed bombers!” In the background, cheering and hollering could be heard. “Be sure to thank those pilots for us!” Cole smiled, activating the radio.
“Just be sure to have drinks ready next time we stop by and we’ll say it’s even.” He joked.
“That’s a roundup Rogues, all aircraft RTC.” Suddenly, a clicking sound came to Cole’s ears, and the control panel indicated that SkyEye had opened a direct channel to him. “And Rogue One, if you defy my orders again, I’ll have your ass grounded.” Cole smirked, thankful that the control officer couldn’t see his face.
No offence SkyEye, but it didn’t scare me when General Davis said it, it doesn’t scare me when you say it, he thought. But outwardly he simply said,
“Understood SkyEye.” He pulled his plane back into formation, then set a course back to the Glory.
The control tower had now fallen silent, as they all watched the humans depart from the airspace. They had all remained quiet, as they all knew that something important had just happened, but they didn’t know just how important quite yet. After a few minutes, the silence was finally broken.
“Somepony get a message to Princess Celestia,” The Captain said. “She needs to hear about this.” Trail nodded.
Not just them, He thought. Everypony needs to hear what had happened today.
The Humans had returned
City of Manehattan, Equestria
January 15th, 2013
If there was any city within Equestria that showed prowess and ingenuity of Ponies, Manehattan was that city. Unlike the noble atmosphere of Canterlot, or the farming community of Ponyville, Manehattan was much more industrial. Like the capitol city, buildings covered the town, with trees and other vegetation only seen in suburban areas and parks. The streets were filled with honest, hardworking ponies moving back and forth to work, but never too busy to help Somepony who was in need. It was something Celestia loved about the city, another reason she was glad to be visiting. With Luna able to now run the Government by herself from time to time, giving Celestia the time she wanted to get out of Canterlot and connect with her people. At the moment, she was enjoying a meeting with the city’s mayor in his office.
“And production has risen?” Celestia asked, sipping her tea. The mayor nodded, a pleased look on his face.
“Not to an incredible degree, but it will help raise…” He let his sentence drift off, then allowed himself a small laugh. “Forgive me your highness; I know that you didn’t come here to talk economics.” Celestia smiled,
“It’s quite alright,” She said. “That is good news, regardless of my visit. However, I do look forward to meeting everypony I can.” The Mayor nodded,
“Of course Princess,” He said. “I thought we would start at Central Park, it’s lovely this time of year, and-” Suddenly, the door to the Mayor’s office burst open, and a blue Earth Pony entered, clearly out of breath.
“Mr. Mayor, we-” He stopped, bowing after seeing Princess Celestia. “Oh, I’m sorry for interrupting your highness.” Celestia held up a hoof,
“Please, do not mind me,” She said. “I’m sure whatever you have to say to the Mayor is important, so please, continue.” The Pony looked to the Mayor for permission, who nodded.
“What’s wrong?” He asked. The Pony took a deep breath, probably to both gather his thoughts and help his burning lungs.
“I don’t know what exactly,” He said. “But some ponies have spotted ships far off the coast, and they’re not of any design we’ve ever seen.”
“What do you mean?” The Mayor asked. The Pony just shook his head,
“We have no idea, but they’re not of any Pony, Gryphon, Zebra, or anything else we can identify.” The mayor looked slightly alarmed, but he remained calm,
“Have we been able to learn anything about the ships?” He asked.
“Just one thing,” He responded, looking panicked. “From what we can tell, they are Warships.”
Being a Captain of a Federation battleship had its privileges. For instance, he didn’t answer to anybody on his ship but himself. However, these privileges also came with many responsibilities, such as knowing what to do when nobody else does. This was one of those times where Captain Matthews hated his position. Once the fleet had spotted the city on the horizon, no one on the bridge had spoken a single word. Matthews, like most other humans, didn’t really believe that there were any civilizations out there that could match humanity in terms of technology, or even if there was intelligent life outside their borders at all. But here was proof, undeniable proof that there were not just other civilizations, but they had technology that could match those of the Federation. The city he was looking at was very similar to Coronet, with large buildings and a wide dock for ships to conduct trade. Actually, had he not known better, he would have thought that he was back on the human mainland looking at a coastal city. The only real difference he could find was that this city was much more colorful than any town he had visited back home.
“Sir? Sir!” Matthews was snapped out of his observations by Commander Madine, his second in command.
“Y-yes, what is it?” He asked.
“Well, we’ve found another Civilization,” Madine replied, his eyes locked on the city. “Now what?”
“According to orders, we’re supposed to make contact with this civilization,” Matthews responded. “But, this is not how we imagined we would discover another civilization. We can’t use radio, because we don’t know if they have that technology, or if they would even understand our language if they did.”
“Then, do we try a direct approach?”
“No… They might take that as an aggressive action…” Matthew’s said. He felt a headache coming on, as he knew that his actions right now might very well determine the future of his nation. His head began to ache, he just wanted to return to his quarters, sit down, rest for a few hours.
His eyes widened as a sudden realization came to him.
“We do nothing.” He said out loud. He the weight of everyone’s gaze shift to him. Madine cleared his throat,
“We do nothing,” Matthews repeated “At least for now.”
“With all due respect Captain, I don’t think-”
“Do you have a better idea?” The Commanding Officer asked. “All of our options are either doomed to failure or can be perceived as an attack.” He sat down in his chair, now feeling fully in command. “Order all ships to stay at this distance from the city in parade formation. If anybody approaches our ships, do not open fire. We are to not to engage unless we are attacked first, am I clear?”
“Yes sir.” Madine said uncertainly. “But with all due respect, what are you expecting to happen?”
“I’m letting them make the first move,” Matthews responded. “This way, we see how they react to situations, and we don’t look like invading their land.”
“I see,” Madine looked thoughtful. “How long do we wait.”
“And if nothing happens by then?”
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” Matthews said. “But with any luck, we won’t have to worry about that.” The Captain continued to stare out at the city, knowing this would be the longest hour of his life.
The four different monitors showed similar images, each showing pictures of the different ships that were holding off the coast of Manehattan. The images were somewhat blurry, but they showed the ships in clear enough detail. Several of them appeared harmless enough, but the larger ships were clearly manufactured for battle. Large guns covered the steel decks, looking menacing even from this distance. The mayor was almost in a panic, flailing his hoofs around and his eyes darting, as if the answer was lying somewhere in the room.
“Are we under attack?!” He was demanding. “We should scramble the military! They could make landfall at any moment! We have to be ready!” Celestia however, kept as calm as ever, an almost unnerving calm for this situation. She studied the images on the screens carefully, mentally logging every detail. Finally, she spoke.
“No.” She said simply. Everypony in the room turned to look at her.
“I don’t believe we’re facing an attack.” She pointed at one of the monitors that was showing a warship. “Look, their weapons remain silent. And they’re not approaching the city.” She looked thoughtful, “It almost appears as if they’re waiting.”
“Waiting?” The Mayor finally seemed to calm down. “Waiting for what?” Celestia shook her head,
“I cannot know for certain,” She said. “But if I were to hazard a guess, I would say whoever it is, they’re waiting for us to make first contact.”
“Why would they do that?”
“It could be any number of factors. But whatever the reasons, they appear to want us to reach them in some manner.” The Mayor now took on a look of deep concentration.
“Should we… send out a Pegasi as a representative?” He asked. Celestia considered,
“No, we still don’t know what’s out there, and I don’t want to put anypony in danger like that.” She thought for a moment, then an idea formed in her head. “Are there any radios around?” The mayor gave her a confused look,
“One of those old Ham radios that the military uses?” He asked. “I think there might be one in one of the storage rooms.”
“Get it,” She ordered. “I think I may know a way.”
Matthews had read many books which described waiting as seconds passing by like hours, but he had never actually experienced such a thing.
Every heartbeat felt like years passing by, as he stared out at the city, trying to learn more while he was miles away. The bridge remained quiet, mostly because nobody had anything to say. The time trickled by as the sailors waited for something, ANYTHING to happen. After they had reached about a half hour, Matthews had begun to worry that he had been wrong. His mind began to race, trying to think of some way he could salvage the operation. Before he could think up a good contingency plan, the burst of static resounded around the bridge.
“This is the city of Manehattan to outlying ships, please identify.” Everybody stared at the radio, not quite believing what they had just heard. Not only had the city contacted them over the radio-waves, they were speaking the same language as the humans.
“Repeat, this is the city of Manehattan to outlying ships, please identify.” The voice sounded envious, but commanded the respect of one who was in a position of command. Matthews took a deep breath, his heart pounding inside of his chest. He held the microphone to his face, and spoke in the most official voice he could manage.
“City of Manehattan, this is Captain John Matthews of the battleship F.S.S Endurance, flagship of the Federation Expeditionary fleet.” A silence followed his words, and he figured that they were probably equally surprised that he had responded.
“Um, Captain Matthews, repeat your last, where are you hailing from?” The voice asked. Matthews mentally face palmed himself, forgetting that he wasn’t in his home country.
“We hail from a nation known as the United Human Federation, and we’re out searching the world for other civilizations.”
“…We request to know why you would choose this time to explore the world, since we have never heard of your nation before.”
‘I can’t imagine why,’ Matthews thought.
“We are seeking help with a crisis that is plaguing our mainland; we are in need of immediate assistance.”
“What is the nature of the emergency?”
“Something that is far too complicated for me to explain over a radio. We would like to be able to send a representative of government to meet with one of your leaders to discuss the nature of our crisis, nothing more.” A pause, as the being on the other end was probably talking to someone of higher authority. Finally, the voice responded.
“Federation ship, we will allow a representative to arrive our soil, but he must be alone, in a very small, unarmed boat.” Matthews wasn’t in a position to me making demands, but he didn’t like the idea of sending the representative alone in an unknown land.
“We request that a small escort of two men carrying only small arms be allowed to accompany the diplomat ashore.” Another pause, this one longer than the rest, as Matthews held his breath.
“We agree to your terms Captain, we shall meet your delegates when they arrive, Manehattan out.” A small click followed the statement, then static. Matthews put the radio down, then turned to Madine.
“Make the preparations; I want to have that the diplomat in the city within the hour.”
“Dammit, I can’t take it anymore!” Riley shouted, standing up from the table. “What’s so important out there that they don’t want us on deck?!” All the other crewmen in the battleship’s giant mess hall simply rolled their eyes and shook their heads in annoyance at the outburst.
“Settle down Sergeant,” Lieutenant Miller said, aggravated by the soldier’s impatience. “I’m sure we’ll be told what’s going on soon enough.”
“I don’t like it,” Riley said, sitting back down. “I’ve been hearing some of the sailors talk, and I don’t like what I’ve heard.”
“They say a lot of things,” Miller responded, trying to get into a comfortable sitting position himself. “I would take it with a grain of salt.”
“Normally, I’d agree,” Riley said. “But these don’t seem so far off. Several of them have been saying that they saw land before we were ordered to go below deck.”
“So they saw land, someone call the press, it’s something we’ve never seen before.”
“Do you remember why we’re on this damned expedition? Land means another country!”
“Calm down, it doesn’t mean anything.” Miller hissed.
“Really? So you think this is all a coincidence?” Riley demanded. “We see land, and we’re ordered to stay out of sight, and we’ve been this way for the better part of an hour, doing nothing. So tell me, what do you think is going on?” The Lieutenant sighed, shaking his head.
“I don’t know,” He admitted. “But it doesn’t make sense. If we found another country, let’s assume that it’s friendly, since we’re not under attack right now. We would make contact, preferably in person. That would mean that under preferable circumstances, they would send an escort with our representative, but no one has left the mess hall.”
“So, who do you think they would send with the representatives?” Miller shrugged,
“Probably the best troops we have.” As if on cue, Commander Madine stormed into the Mess, eyes locked on the two men.
“Miller! Davis!” He barked. “Get suited up Marines, you’re heading out!” Without another word, the officer spun on his heel, and exited the hall. The pair sat in silence for a few heartbeats, then Riley smiled.
“I guess WE’RE the best!”
Riley never really liked Madine. It wasn’t like he was a bad officer; he was fair to all the men, and wasn’t as uptight as most in the Navy were. But what he hated was his unnerving gaze, something that would make even the toughest of men feel uncomfortable. It didn’t help that he was watching them while they geared up in the ship’s armory.
“So what’s the lowdown sir?” Miller asked, taking stock of his gear.
“I think you both have a pretty general idea,” Madine said. “But here’s the basics. We have completed step one of our Operation, we’ve made contact with an intelligent civilization that looks to have technology that is at least equivalent to ours.” Out of the corner of his eye, Miller saw Riley give him a smug smile. He ignored him,
“So we’re protecting the delegate then?” He asked, guessing that his friend’s other prediction would also be true. Madine nodded,
“Basically. Remember, you’ll be among the first of our people to set foot in this country, so try to make a good impression.” Miller snorted in amusement,
“You want to make a good impression?” He chuckled. “And you’re sending Riley? I think you’ve just sabotaged your own operation.” Riley’s smile fell as he glared at the other Marine. He grunted in annoyance as he reached for his combat gear.
“No.” Madine suddenly said, his eyes locked on Riley.
“…No?” The soldier replied, not understanding.
“No Marine combat gear, you’re going in with Navy uniforms.” Riley looked at Madine, confusion on his face.
“Marine colors have been deemed too intimidating,” Madine answered. “We don’t want them to be too scared of you when you first meet them.” Riley grumbled in protest as he placed the desert colored uniform back in its place, and reached for the digital blue colors of the navy combat uniform. Beside him, Miller loads his gun.
“No rifles either.” Madine said. The Marine’s stared at the Navy Officer, shock on their faces.
“You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“No I’m not. You’re here to make peace, not war.”
“How the hell are we going to be able to protect a delegate if we can’t even bring proper weapons?” Miller demanded. Madine looked to the floor, looking very weary for a moment.
“It’s not an ideal situation, not by a long shot.” He said “But we’re not in control of it, we’re in a foreign land searching for help that we don’t even know exists. Please,” his voice broke slightly, “We have to do this, for our people back home.” The silence that followed weighed heavily on the men in the room, the pressure on them feeling like physical weights on their shoulders. Riley was the first one to move, Strapping on the black body armor over his uniform, placing his pistol in its holster, and completed the outfit with the military cap on his head. Without speaking another word, he walked past the two men out of the armory. Following his friend’s lead, Miller finished readying himself, then left after Riley.
To say the boat they were on was small would have been an understatement. It wasn’t like the Zodiac boats that Riley had used during the amphibious training of Marine boot camp, but it was quite smaller than any patrol boats he had ever seen being used by the Navy. Miller was at the helm, steering the unarmed vessel toward the city harbor. At the front, Riley was trying to keep watch for any danger as they got farther away from the fleet, but he was distracted by the sights of the city in front of him as it grew closer. Behind him, seated in the boat’s passenger area, was Representative Rousey. Riley didn’t know much about the man, except that he had been a high ranking member in the senate before he had volunteered to represent the Federation on the mission. He wasn’t very impressive physically, being short and with mid-sized blonde hair, but he apparently made up for it with a massive intellect that most humans couldn’t even hope to match.
The dock was now within few, and Riley could make out figures gathering where they were going to place the boat. He squinted, trying to get a clearer picture of what they looked like. They were colorful, what some might call fruity, but they had a certain-
Riley’s breath caught in his lungs.
“What the…” What he was looking at, was definitely not human. “Uh, Miller….”
“I see ‘em,” Miller said, his voice just as surprised as Riley. “But I don’t believe it.”
“Interesting,” Rousey said, moving to see what his escorts were looking at. “But there was never a guarantee that we would be meeting another human nation.”
“Maybe not,” Riley responded, observing the four legged creatures. “Still doesn’t make this any less strange.”
“Well, at least TRY not to stare.” Rousey said.
“Why? They have no problem staring at us.” He was right, all of them were staring at the humans, their eyes wide with fear and confusion.
“Well, so much for not scaring them.” Miller commented.
“Indeed,” Rousey said. “Let’s try not to ruin this mission anymore than we already have.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.” Riley retorted. Miller brought the small ship to the dock, then dropped the gangplank onto the wooden structure.
“Ladies first.” He said, making a small bowing motion. Riley snorted,
“Cute.” He gingerly stepped onto the gangplank, looking around at all the ponies watching him, before stepping off onto the land.
‘I’m probably the first human to ever set foot here,’ He thought. ‘Maybe I should write a book about this someday.’
He moved to a standard guard position to the left of the plank as Miller took position on the right. Neither of the men were giving intimidating looks, but both had the standard neutral Marine look on their faces, one that didn’t cause fear, but let others know that they meant business. Rousey was next, having his regal diplomat’s look as he stepped onto the foreign soil. As the three humans walked forward, a path was cleared for them as the ponies stepped aside, some looking quizzically at them, others with fear. They were greeted by four armored ponies who were obviously part of the military, some sort of guards by the looks of it. Riley found it quizzical that the armor they were wearing looked as if it was the top of their capable technology, but their guns told a different story.
“We’ve been ordered to take you to the meeting point,” One of them said, his voice gruff. “Follow us.” Rousey nodded, motioning for the ponies to lead the way. As they continued down the street, other uniformed ponies, who Riley assumed were police officers, dispersing the crowds. He was now getting better looks at the ponies, and could see differences between them. There were ones with wings, who seemed to be able to fly around and about. Others had horns on their foreheads, and he thought he saw glimpses of them glowing and some objects levitating, but he was sure he was just seeing things. Still others seemed to have nothing special about them whatsoever. But in the same way he was observing the ponies, the ponies were obviously observing him as well. Looking him up and down, at his clothes, his eyes, his hair, and everything in between.
As Riley pondered this fact, his tactical sense told him that their escorts were slowing their pace. He looked ahead, seeing a large building that he assumed was town hall.
“We’re here,” One of the other guards said. “We’ll take you inside, but don’t try anything funny.” Riley was hard pressed not to make a retort. Luckily, Rousey answered.
“We understand.” He said. The four guards made a square formation around the humans as they entered. Riley couldn’t quite understand why they had the paranoid security around them since they’d arrived. Humans had obviously never been seen before, and the two marines were carrying weapons, but he got a sense that there was more here than what had been revealed. The guards opened the door to a waiting room, and Riley got his answer. Standing in the room with two other guards was a pony unlike any he had seen while walking through the city. Riley had been almost two feet taller than the other ponies on the streets and the guards, but this one was eye level with him. From what he had observed ponies could only have either wings or a horn, but this one had both, and her flowing mane covered one of her eyes and a crown on her head. From all accounts, this pony was one of very high authority. Rousey bowed respectfully, feeling the same aura of royalty that Riley felt. The two marines were inclined to do the same.
“Welcome to Equestria,” She said, her voice regal. “I am Princess Celestia, ruler of this nation.”
“I am Senator Rousey, representative of the United Human Federation,” He motioned toward the other two humans. “These are my escorts, Lieutenant Joe Miller and Sergeant Riley Davis.” She smiled,
“Charmed.” She said. She nodded her head towards a nearby door, “Now, we should discuss this crisis that your people are facing. However, I must request that your escorts remain outside, security reasons and whatnot.” Miller looked as if he was about to object, but Rousey cut him off.
“Of course your highness,” He said. “We understand completely.” The Lieutenant turned him around.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.” He said. “Our orders are-“
“Your orders are to do as I say,” Rousey countered. “And right now, I’m telling you to stay out here. In case you haven’t noticed, we’re not in a position to be making demands. Besides, if they wanted to kill us, they could have done it dozens of times by now.” Riley sighed in frustration. As much as it frustrated the soldiers, he was right, there was nothing they could do.
“Alright,” Miller growled. “But we’ll be right out here, something goes wrong, just squawk.” Rousey nodded, then turned back to Celestia.
“Let’s not waste any more time. I apologize for my impatience, but our situation is quite dire.” She nodded, and motioned toward the conference room. Rousey entered, followed by the Princess and her two guards, then the doors behind them shut. The two Marines stood on one side of the room at Parade Rest, opposite of them stood the four other guards that had brought them to Town Hall. Now that they had a moment of silence, Riley let his mind wander. This land was strange, so much different than his home. There was a word for it, something they didn’t see in the Federation mainland. It was at the tip of his tongue, but he just couldn’t put his finger on it. Suddenly he was aware of one of the ponies whispering to another, glancing in his direction. It didn’t take a genius to figure out they were talking about him. He felt anger boil up inside him, and his mouth ran away with his brain.
“You got something to say to me?” He growled. “Say it to my face.” The pony looked at him, his face betraying no emotion.
“I was just saying that it’s odd that you humans wear clothes over all of your body except your face.” He said. Riley’s anger quickly gave way to confusion.
“Your clothes. We ponies rarely wear clothes, if at all. Do you humans wear clothes all the time?” Miller, who had suddenly decided to join the conversation, nodded.
“Well, we aren’t covered in fur like your kind; clothes have just become a way of life for us.”
“Your clothes just seem so… cumbersome.” Another pony said. Riley snorted.
“You don’t know the half of it,” He said. “Back in boot camp, they made us where this stuff while carrying over a hundred pounds of gear while we were on a ten mile hike.” The other ponies smiled at that.
“Is that it? We had to carry twice that much while crawling through mud.” That brought a laugh out of Miller,
“Sounds like training sucks no matter what the species.” All six of them were now laughing,
“Boy have I got stories…”
Rousey took a seat at the table opposite of Celestia, folding his hands.
“Before we begin,” Celestia said. “I would like to know more about you and your people.”
“Fair enough,” Rousey replied. “I’ll give you the quick version. For as long as we have existed, humanity has been at constant war with each other. Due to this, we have been confined to our mainland, to worried with one another to focus on the outside world. Fifty years ago, we engaged in the most explosive and bloody war in our history. We called it the Unification war, because after it ended, a council of all the nations formed together under a single banner. Thus, the United Human Federation was created. Since formed, we have kept a strict isolationist policy, which is why you’ve never heard of us, and we’ve never heard of you. Myself and the rest of the Expeditionary Fleet are the first humans to ever set foot outside of our homeland.” Celestia considered.
“And this crisis you are facing drove you to throw your policy aside?” She asked. Rousey nodded,
“Believe me, it was a last resort, but we could see no other option.” Celestia made herself conferrable.
“And what is exactly is so incredibly important that caused your government to seek out help?” The diplomat shifted in his seat; obviously it was a delicate subject.
“Did you witness a meteor shower recently?” He asked. Celestia nodded, remembering the stellar phenomenon that Twilight had written to her about, saying how all of Ponyville had watched the incredible sight. “We did as well,” He continued. “We also wished to learn more about them. We constructed a magnet that would be powerful enough to bring a small meteor down to our mainland for us to study.” Celestia raised a brow, the story sounding very familiar to something that had happened in Equestria long ago. She had a hunch of what the humans were facing, but she determined to keep listening.
“Go on.” She said simply.
“The problem was our scientists made an error,” He continued. “The magnet was powerful, far too powerful. It brought down a far larger meteor than we would have wanted. It caused massive damage in one of our cities, but we didn’t think it went beyond that.” He looked down to the table. “At least until reports of the illness began pouring in.”
“The illness?” Celestia asked.
“It started in the city where the meteor crashed, but then it started spreading across our land. Nothing we have has managed to stop it, no medication, anti-biotics, even quarantine can’t seem to stop it.”
“What are the symptoms of the illness?” Celestia was almost certain she knew what was wrong, but she wanted to be sure.
“Fever, vomiting, illusions, and boils on the skin.” He said. Celestia nodded,
“I know what the problem is.” She said. Rousey perked up,
“Well, not exactly.” The Princess looked thoughtful. “A similar event happened long ago in our land. Much like you humans, we wished to study the space-born objects. We used our magic to bring down a meteor, and the same problem happened to us, hundreds of ponies were infected with the illness.” Rousey looked at her, a confused look on his face. “Is something wrong?”
“I’m sorry,” He said. “I must have heard wrong. Did you say that your subjects used MAGIC to bring down a meteor?” Celestia blinked.
“Why of course, we use magic for many things, do you humans not?” Rousey shook his head.
“We have no magic. In fact we believe it to be nothing but tricks and optical illusions.” Celestia chuckled, then used her magic to hold up a nearby pen.
“I assure you Senator, this is no optical illusion.” She said. Rousey’s eyes widened in surprise.
“Ok, I believe you,” He said. “Mostly.” Celestia looked thoughtful,
“But because you humans don’t have magic, it’ll make curing the illness far more complicated.”
“Why is that?”
“Because the only cure we could find was by using magic.” The senator bit his lower lip,
“That does make things interesting to say the least…”
“However, the spell to cure the illness is quite simple,” Celestia said. “If your government would allow it, I could have an Aid brigade formed with Unicorns who wish to help sent to your land to purge the disease.” Rousey blinked, not quite believing what he was hearing.
“You would do that? I don’t know what we could do in return.” Celestia shook her head.
“There is no need for any repayment, I couldn’t stand by and let others suffer.” She paused. “That is, if your government will accept our help.” Rousey rubbed his chin.
“I’ll be honest, It’ll take some convincing in the Senate,” He admitted. “But I don’t see any other option for us. Allow me to contact the Federation and make arrangements.” The Princess nodded,
“And I shall make preparations for the Aid Brigade.” The two stood up, and proceeded to exit. The moment the doors opened, familiar voices came to their ears.
“…And then the Sailor says, ‘Buddy this is a Navy base, you’ll have to be more specific than that!’” A roar of laughter resounded through the room as the four guards and two marines were laughing hysterically. Then the soldiers spotted their superiors leave the room, and they immediately snapped to attention, trying to act like nothing happened. Celestia smiled,
“Having a good time with your new friends are we?” One of the guards cleared his throat.
“My apologize Princess, we were distracted.”
“Indeed,” Celestia turned toward the two humans. “I congratulate you Sergeant, my guards are nearly impossible to get a reaction out of them.”
“The same can be said about Federation Marines,” Rousey said, eyeing his two escorts. “Most of the time.” He bowed before Princess Celestia. “If you’ll excuse us your highness, we must get back to our fleet to make contact with the Federation.” He motioned for the pair of soldiers to follow him, as they left City Hall. Once they were back on their boat, they broke the silence.
“Care to share what you two agreed on?” Miller asked.
“We haven’t agreed on anything yet,” Rousey replied. “But she says that she can help us, and has offered to do it without compensation.” Riley raised a brow.
“I sense a ‘but’ coming.”
“The catch is that we would have to allow a large number of ponies inside our borders in order to treat those infected.” A shocked silence followed his words.
“….Ponies?” Miller said slowly. “In our borders?”
“No one but humans have been on the mainland, and it’s been that way for… well forever!” Riley exclaimed.
“We don’t have a choice, not this time. At the rate the infection is spreading, the Federation could collapse within a year. If they can cure it, we would be foolish to turn down such help.” They let the words sink in for a moment.
“I just don’t know,” Riley said. “Do you think that our species would even get along?” Rousey chuckled,
“Two Federation Marines and four Royal Equestrian guards, arguably biggest hard-asses that I could think of, and I find them laughing and cracking jokes.” He shook his head. “Oh I think we’ll get along just fine.”
City of Canterlot, Equestria
May 28th, 2013
Four months after first contact
“And so,” Celestia concluded. “The Royal Court has ruled that Anderson Industries has the right to conduct trade within Equestrian borders, so long as said company abides by the laws and regulations that we have set in place. This court is adjured.” The court, a mixed group of ponies and humans, left the throne room, all parties looking satisfied at the result of the hearing. Celestia smiled to herself, happy at the conclusion.
“That was very well done,” A familiar voice said. “Couldn’t have done it better myself.” The Princess looked up to see a very well dressed human, one she knew very well.
“Yes well, you humans have stirred up quite a lot since you’ve arrived on the scene.” She answered. “You’re the President Mr. Rousey, you should be handling this as well.” Her friend chuckled,
“Oh trust me, a lot more ruckus is going on at the mainland, but the good news is, the infection is gone for good.”
As he had predicted, the Federation Senate had been in an uproar over Celestia’s offer. Many had claimed that humanity should stay by itself, keeping the isolationist policy going. Luckily, cooler heads had prevailed in the end, and the Federation had opened its borders to the brigade of Unicorn volunteers. As Celestia had promised, they had cured those with the infection, one by one, until it had vanished completely. Soon after, the President and Vice President had both stepped down to be with their once infected families. Using the new political influence he had gained, Rousey had won in a landslide election to be the new President of the UHF. Most humans were hesitant to get involved with Equestria since they had been in Isolation for so long, but Rousey had largely encouraged private companies to get involved with the newly discovered nation. Trade had spiked, as the two species opened up to each other.
“I can imagine.” Celestia said. “Any problems?”
“Some,” He admitted. “But nothing to major. In fact, many are excited for the new possibilities.”
“I share their excitement,” She paused. “That reminds me, why are you here? I always enjoy our conversations, but as you yourself said, you are very busy. You wouldn’t bring yourself all the way to Canterlot just to make small talk.”
“Right to the point I see,” Rousey said, a smile forming on his face. “You’ve been very gracious and kind to us, much more than we would have ever been. You not only cured the illness, but you opened your ports to trade. You’ve asked for nothing in return.” Celestia waved dismissively.
“Think nothing of it.”
“No, we do.” He took on a serious look. “So allow us to return the favor. I offer you the one thing we humans specialize in. Our military strength.” Celestia blinked, but stayed silent. “Your nation is one of peace and harmony, and we wish to help you keep it that way. We want to be able to help you keep it safe, and our military might can do just that, if you’ll accept it.” It took a moment for the Princess to understand what he was asking.
“Are you…. Proposing an alliance? Between our nations?” She asked. Rousey nodded,
“The senate has already approved it. And I believe it will strengthen both of our nations for generations.” The Princess paused for a moment, considering, then smiled.
“Allow me to get my sister,” She said. “We can all make this new Alliance official.”
May 30th, 2013
Sugercube Corner wasn’t particularly busy today. Many ponies were out and about going on their daily lives, but not Applejack or Rainbow Dash. With Apple bucking season just ending, and the sky clear for the day, the two mares decided to take the day off.
“Thanks again for the cupcakes Pinkie!” AJ called. “Their great as always!” Pinkie, who was behind the counter, smiled.
“No problem! It’s all in the secret ingredient! It’s-“ She was cut off, as the door opened, and a lavender unicorn entered.
“Hey everypony!” Twilight said. “Have you heard the news?” Rainbow raised a brow,
“What news? She asked. Twilight’s horn glowed, and the small television set that sat in the corner of the dining area came to life, showing a news mare.
“… And in breaking news today from Canterlot, Princesses Luna and Celestia of Equestria and President Jacob Rousey of the United Human Federation stood side by side today with their announcement of the Equestrian Human Alliance pact. As part of this agreement, ports in the human mainland such as the Capital city of Coronet are being opened to specific trade to Equestrian private companies, and other trade benefits. Along with commerce provisions, this treaty also has specified the allowance of Federation Military forces to be stationed in Equestria for defense purposes. President Rousey was quoted in saying that this new treaty would not only strengthen the relation between the nations, but draw both species closer together. Tonight, we will be able to have a face to face interview with Princess Luna, who also strongly supported-” Twilight switched off the television. Rainbow leaned back in her chair.
“Well… That’s something.” She said simply. Twilight nodded,
“This is going to have a huge impact on Equestria!” The unicorn looked thoughtful. “I wonder what humans are like…”
“Ah met a few durin’ mah trip to Manehattan a month ago,” Applejack said. “They seemed like decent folk to me.”
“I’d like to meet one of them myself, see how different they are from us.” Twilight said.
“Well, you’re going to get the chance soon.” All four ponies jumped, surprised by the Mayor who had entered without them noticing.
“What do you mean?” Pinkie asked. Twilight wondered whether or not Pinkie actually cared about politics, or if she just wanted to see if humans would enjoy her parties as much as she did. Probably the ladder.
“I just received a phone call from Canterlot,” The Mayor replied. “It turns out, the humans will be putting one of their bases here.” Rainbow raised a brow,
“It won’t be in the city, it’ll be out in the outskirts, but we’ve been given instructions to help build a human Air Force base.” Pinkie’s eyes lit up,
“So more new ponies will be coming to town!” She cried. Twilight shook her head.
“You mean more ‘people’ Pinkie.”
“Well, it looks like we’ve got work to do then.”
“No no no, you’re going the wrong way!” Dare said, rolling her eyes. “Ponyville is THAT way!”
“Dare, I know this is hard to understand,” Cole replied, his voice laced with annoyance. “But I am a pilot in the Federation Air Force, and I am sure that I can find my way to a little town!” Behind the wheel of a military issued jeep, Cole tried to show his female counterpart that he was competent enough to get them to the small town of Ponyville that was right next to their base.
It had been about five hours since Rouge Squadron had landed at the Ponyville Air Force Base, spending the time getting acquainted with their new surroundings and their jets in the hangars. They’d been given the night off, the base commander encouraging them to get to know some of the locals. So Cole, Dare, Justin, and another Rouge pilot nicknamed Blaze had got in a jeep with the town in destination.
“Really? Then why are the city’s lights THAT way?” Dare asked, pointing. Cole cursed under his breath,
“I knew that…” He made a turn back toward the town. As they approached, Cole could make out the small buildings that dotted the town. It looked quiet, peaceful. He had a feeling that he would like it here. The sun had just set, and several ponies were still walking the streets. As expected, the ponies gawked and stared at the approaching humans. They pulled to the side of the street, disembarking.
“Well, this place is pretty nice I suppose.” Justin said.
“What’s the matter city boy?” Dare chuckled. “Have to live in a big town like Coronet?”
“Coronet, that’s your capital city, correct?” The four humans turned to see a lavender unicorn and an orange earth pony behind them.
“Ya, that’s right.” Cole replied. The Unicorn smiled,
“I’ve been studying your people, trying to learn as much as I could. My name is Twilight Sparkle.”
“And ah’m Applejack.” Her companion said. The pilot smiled,
“Pleased to meet you,” He said. “I’m Cole, these are my friends Justin, Dare, and Blaze.”
“We’re Air Force pilots from the base.” Justin chimed in.
“Air Force?” Twilight asked. Dare nodded,
“Rogue Squadron, we fly those F-16’s that were overhead earlier.”
“Ah, those planes,” Twilight smiled. “My friend Rainbow Dash saw them.”
“A Pegasus pony who believes she’s the greatest flier in Equestria.”
“Well, she’s the second best now that I’m here.” Cole said with a smug smile. Applejack rolled her eyes,
“Oh ya, ya’ll will get along just fine.” Out of nowhere, another pony, this one a bright color of pink approached. Once she saw the humans, she stared at them for a moment.
“Uh, hello?” Blaze said nervously. She was quiet for another heartbeat, before she let out a shrill gasp, leaping into the air, before sprinting away in the opposite direction. The four humans watched her for a moment,
“Um,” Justin said. “What just happened?” The two ponies laughed.
“Oh you’ll see soon enough.”
June 3, 2013
To the naked eye, it was a normal jet of the human military, with nothing extraordinary about it. The only markings that make the fighter unique was the ribbon insignia on the tail of the plane. As it’s cockpit opened, the pilot removed the flight helmet.
“So this is Equestria,” The human said, looking around at the surrounding area. “Not bad.”
It was a wide world, and a future that was looking very bright indeed.
Livingwood Army Base, Equestria
February 2nd, 2015
2 years since first contact
“So, run this by me one more time,” Payton said. “How exactly did you piss off the Sergeant?” Kyle sighed, looking over the supply list on his tablet.
“I tried to pull a prank on Patrick, putting in some laxatives in his chili. Unfortunately, the Sarge got there first.” Payton laughed out loud,
“I can’t imagine that he took the joke well.”
“Yes, he took it so well in fact, that I’m working graveyard for the next month!” He shook his head. “And that’s why I’m out here right now and not asleep.”
“Well, It could be a lot worse,” His friend said, looking over the supplies in the warehouse. “Besides, we’re almost done, then we can hit the hay.” Kyle nodded, then looked back at the supplies.
“Everything’s here,” He said, glad to finally be done. “C’mon, lets…” He let the sentence drift off as he saw a crate that he hadn’t noticed before sitting in the corner. He looked down at his tablet, then back at the box. “Hey Payton.”
“Is that box over there on your supply list?” Payton looked down at his own tablet, then shook his head.
“Not on mine,” he replied. “It’s not on yours?”
“Nope.” Kyle approached it, now eyeing it carefully. “Could be a typo?”
“Maybe,” Payton replied. “Should we just ignore it?”
“No, that would be taking a bigger chance then I’d like.” He looked at his friend. “Go get the supply Sergeant, just to be-” He was cut off, as the crate suddenly exploded, sending both men flying backward with shrapnel buried in their bodies. As his vision began to darken, the last thing Kyle saw was a green gas hissing through the room.
Orlando Naval Base, Equestria
February 2nd, 2015
It was something that just never existed on a Navy ship, leaving both sailors and marines to get used to the noise when they were trying to sleep. It was a skill that Riley had learned to master during his time in the Corps, and it was made even better when he had finally earned his promotion to Lieutenant and his own private quarters aboard the ship. Even so, it was far from silent. Which was why he wasn’t surprised when he was awoken earlier than usual by activity aboard the ship. He rolled over, trying to get back to sleep, when the commotion seemed to be getting louder.
“Ugh,” He groaned to himself. “Why are they running drills so early on a Sunday…?” It was his first day of shore leave in a month, and he wanted to at least get more sleep than usual.
The noise continued, and he could make out some voices yelling for marines to get on their feet. Now getting a bad feeling, Riley slowly sat up, still trying to fully wake himself up, until a voice from outside his room called out something that made his blood run cold.
“GAS GAS GAS!!!”
Riley leaped off the bed, now completely alert, as his training kicked in. He immediately reached into his footlocker. He quickly pulled out his gas mask, fastening it too his face. Once it was secured, he grabbed his weapons, fearing that they were under attack, and exited his quarters. Outside, he could see gas-masked marines milling around the halls, unsure what to do.
“Let’s go Marines!” Riley shouted. “We gotta get topside! Move it ladies!” The disciplined soldiers followed the orders, moving to get to the top deck. Green gas was now filling the halls of the battleship, taking down anybody who didn’t have their masks on. He kept moving, barking orders at marines as he passed them. Rounding a final staircase, he exited to the upper deck, getting a good look at the base and the rest of the ships in dock.
“Mother of God…” He whispered. The entire base, and every ship in port was oozing the green chemicals. Hundreds of soldiers and sailors would’ve had time to react to gas, killing them while they were still asleep.
“No really!” Justin said, trying to breathe through his hacking laughter. “I see a lot of tension between you and that bookcase! You should see the base psychologist about it!”
“Oh for the love of all things good,” Dare groaned. “Shut him up!”
“I told Pinkie that it was a bad idea to spike the punch…” Cole said, using all of his self control to stop himself from killing his drunken wingman.
“Actually,” Blaze chimed in. “I think it was Spike who spiked the punch.”
“Wait, the dragon?”
“Spike spiked the drink?”
“Is that legal?”
“Probably not, but I don’t think he-” The remainder of Blaze’s words were drowned out by a civil defense siren that blasted from town square. An announcement followed,
“Attention, attention. All Federation Military personnel, we are at Code Emerald. I repeat, Code Emerald. Once personal safety has been assured, begin assistance of civilian emergency procedures. This is not a drill.”
On the streets, groups of humans of humans who were supposed to be on shore leave were now scrambling to follow the orders. Dare was the first of the Rogues to get moving, pulling the gas masks out of their jeep. She tossed them to her squadron mates.
“What’s going on?” Behind the pilots, the six bearers of the Elements of Harmony had gathered. Cole sealed his mask,
“If that announcement is correct,” He said, his voice slightly muffled. “Then the base has just fallen under chemical attack.” The shock and surprise was evident on all of their faces, both Pony and Human, but the Pilots had been drilled enough to know what to do in the situation by pure reflex. Even Justin in his intoxicated state was performing the actions with precision, a deadly serious look on his face.
“Oh my…” Fluttershy said, panic in her eyes. “Has anyone been hurt?” Cole was almost certain that people had not only been hurt, but most likely had died. But now wasn’t the time to bring that up.
“We don’t know yet.”
“Are you heading back to the base?” Twilight asked.
“Not yet,” Dare replied. “We need to get you six to safety, then help with the rest of the town.”
“Fluttershy, you live on the edge of the Everfree Forest right?” The mare nodded. “Alright, that should be a safe distance from the base. Rainbow Dash, you and Fluttershy get there as fast as you can using your wings, got it?” The two Pegasi did as they were told, Rainbow Dash flying much faster before she remembered Fluttershy. Cole turned to his left.
“We’ll help get any other ponies to a safe area,” She said, motioning to Blaze. “Get them to Fluttershy’s.” Without another word, the pair broke into a run towards the town square. Cole jumped behind the wheel of the vehicle, Justin right beside him.
“Everybody in!” He called to the ponies. The mares looked uncertain, but piled into the jeep. Looking into the distance, Cole could see a green gas approaching the town. “Oh this is not good…”
City of Canterlot, Equestria
February 2nd, 2015
“At five AM this morning, attacks were triggered across Equestria, targeting centers of Human Military activity. Details are still sketchy, but we have determined the attacks were of a chemical or a biological sort, and the casualty rate is estimated in the high thousands-“
Celestia silenced the Television, not wanting to hear anymore. She was sitting in her personal office, preferring the organization of her personal work space to the more public space of the throne room.
To say that the current situation was bad would be the understatement of the millennium. Nothing of this magnitude had occurred since the uprising of Nightmare Moon over a thousand years ago. To make things worse, she hadn’t been able to contact President Rousey all day, his assistance telling her that he was holding an emergency meeting with his military council. And to add to that, she still was lacking the reports she’d wanted regarding all the locations of the attacks and the casualty rate.
A knock on her door brought Celestia out of her thoughts. It wasn’t a buzz on her com, so whoever was knocking was of high enough importance for the guards to let pass.
“Come in.” She called. As expected, Luna entered the office, using her magic to hold a group of documents in mid-air. She looked tired, staying up all night since the news of the attacks first came in.
“Long night Luna?” Celestia asked. Her sister nodded,
“And I have a feeling it’s going to be an even longer day for you Tia.” Luna set the files on Celestia’s desk. “We received the first detailed reports of the attacks.” Celestia felt a little relief, as it was the first good news she’d received all day. She opened the documents and began to study them, even as Luna continued speaking.
“Out of the twenty human bases within Equestria, seventeen have suffered from the chemical attacks.”
“Have any of our military instillations been hit?”
“No, though they have been placed on high alert just in case they’re targeted next.”
“How bad is the damage?”
“We still don’t have an exact count on the human casualties, so many dead or missing, but it looks disastrous.” Luna said.
“I’m almost afraid to ask this,” Celestia took a deep breath. “How many ponies have died?”
“…None.” Celestia blinked.
“None of our subjects have been affected.” Luna said, her voice one of disbelief.
“How is that possible?”
“I don’t know, but even in the areas where our people were exposed to the chemical, nothing happened.”
“Interesting, we’ll have to put more study into it.” Celestia looked at her sister. “Now you should get some rest.” She held up a hoof to forestall her rebuke. “We’re going to have a long few days ahead of us, we need to be at our best. Go get some sleep, I can handle things for now.” Luna bit her lower lip, but nodded.
“If anything else happens-”
“I’ll let you know.” Celestia promised. As Luna exited, her com buzzed.
‘No breaks for me today it seems,’ Celestia thought. She pressed the button,
“You have a priority video call coming in from Coronet.”
“Put it through.” She turned toward the large monitor on the wall. She expected to be met with the face of President Rousey. Instead, she was greeted by a man wearing the uniform of the Federation Air Force. She knew who it was, as she had met him on several occasions.
“General Davis,” She said neutrally. “I was expecting to hear from the President.”
“Get in line,” The man replied. “He’s so busy talking with every department of government that even I can’t see him.” Celestia ignored the quip.
“I assume you’ve received the reports?”
“Even better ones than you’ve got. This is the single worse event in human military history, thousands of my men are dead, and I don’t know if my only son is among them. And yet somehow, your ponies are just fine. Why do you think that is?” His voice held a small hint of accusation. Celestia narrowed her eyes,
“What are you saying?” The two glared at each other for a few heartbeats, then Davis pressed a button, making something that looked scientific.
“This is the analysis of the chemical agent used on all the attacks.”
“I’m still not understanding where you’re going with this….”
“We discovered something interesting. This chemical is unlike anything we’ve ever seen, as it is specifically meant to kill humans.”
“You heard me. These chemicals are tailored to kill those of humanity, just humans. Surely you noticed that your ponies weren’t being affected.” Davis said, acid in his voice. She actually hadn’t known until now, but she wasn’t about to let this human have any victories.
“Why would this agent just target humans?”
“I was just about to ask you the same question.” Realization dawned on Celestia,
“Are you accusing ME of ordering the attacks?” Davis snorted,
“Please, even I know that such action would be more harmful than helpful to you.” He shook his head. “No, I think it was a rogue element in the Equestrian military, or a terrorist group with a grudge against humans. Either way, you know more than you’re letting on.” Celestia felt shocked and appalled, feeling like putting this human in his place.
“Let me be perfectly clear,” She growled. “I have no knowledge of any anti-human groups within my borders, if I did, I would share it immediately, because I actually care for this alliance that we have created.”
“I’m sure,” Davis said, his voice cold. “Just get your act together Princess, or we’ll do it for you.” Anger began to boil over in Celestia.
“Is that a threat General?”
“No your highness, THAT is a promise.” The human ended the call. Celestia sat in silence for a moment, then let her calm demeanor break for a few heartbeats.
“Arrogant Human…” She snarled.
City of Coronet, Human Mainland
February 3rd, 2015
Graveyard shift was among a Minuteman’s worst nightmare. The late atmosphere was always depressing, but now, it felt crushingly so. Coats sipped his coffee, the one thing that was keeping him awake after sixteen hours of work. Manning one of the Air Force’s Minutemen consoles, the Major watched streams of data go by. Nothing important of real note that he needed to pay attention too. The caffeine was wearing off, and his eyes began to feel heavy. He closed them, feeling the peace of sleep closing in-
“This is Kingston Air Force Base, we’re under attack!”
Coat’s eyes snapped open, as he realized it was an emergency call from a Federation base inside Equestria.
‘Oh no,’ He thought. ‘Not another chemical attack!’
He quickly activated his microphone.
“We read you Kingston,” He said. “Decontamination units will be routed to your-“
“NO! SEND THE ARMY DAMMIT!” The voice screamed. Coat’s heart skipped a beat.
“Kingston, repeat your last!”
“We are under a full assault by hostile forces!”
“Say again Kingston, what hostile forces?!”
“It’s the Gryphons, they’ve launched a large-scale invasion. My God, THEY’RE EVERYWHERE!!! We need immediate support NOW Dammit!” The call broke off into static with their final chilling words
City of Coronet, Human Mainland
Federation Command Center
February 3rd, 2015
“How bad is it?” General Davis asked, feeling a migraine coming on.
“Worse than we initially thought,” Coats answered. “The Gryphons have started a blitz across the entire northern Equestria border, meeting very little resistance. The only ones really putting up a fight are the surviving personnel from Kingston Air Base, some of our soldiers who were on leave, and a few militias, but nothing that can stop the advancing enemy. At this rate, Canterlot will be overrun inside a week.”
“What is the Equestrian response?”
“Non-existent so far, they’re just as surprised as we are, and none of their already small military was up north when the invasion began. They haven’t shared their full strategy with us yet, but we’re not sure why.”
‘I know why,’ Davis thought, cursing himself. ‘I accused Celestia of knowing about the chemical attacks before they happened. If the situation was reversed, I’d do the same.’
“What about our forces?” He asked.
“The chemical attacks hit us even harder than we thought. Less than a quarter of our original forces in Equestria are still active since the strikes. Of that, half of those who are combat ready cannot reach their gear due to contamination, so our response is weak at best.”
Davis had to tip his hat to the Griffon commanders at their strategy, as disdainful as it was. It was tactically genius on every scale. They managed to neutralize the main force of Equestria’s defenses, while simultaneously building mistrust between humanity and ponies.
“Has the alert level been raised on the homefront? We can’t afford to have any chemical attacks on our doorstep.”
“Homeland security is already on the job, and N.E.S.T teams have been deployed to every city to make certain nothing slipped past.” Coats responded.
“And our mainland forces?”
“Being rallied as we speak. As I understand, you and the rest of High Command will be planning the counter attack.”
That was the one flaw in the Gryphon battle plan. They had underestimated the raw power of the human military, believing that the main Federation forces were based in Equestria. In reality, the largest part was still on the human mainland and a couple small islands. Trouble was, the forces were spread around, and they would need time to regroup all of their forces, but once they did, they would unleash hell on the arrogant Gryphons who dared to challenge their military superiority.
Oh yes, revenge truly was a revenge best served cold.
And he would enjoy every minute of it.
City of Canterlot, Equestria
February 3rd, 2015
Celestia had ruled Equestria for over two thousand years. During that time, she had mastered the way to keep a royal calm, even in the worst of situations, giving reassurance in even the darkest of times. But now, she was barely holding herself together, not feeling this worried since the Nightmare Rebellion. Luna quickly realized this, and took over the duties of a ruler until Celestia had some time to gather her thoughts. Although Luna was obviously disturbed, she had managed to keep her composure, acting as a competent temporary ruler. Since taking command, she had made an incredible speech to rally the people, issued a joint declaration of war alongside President Rousey, and had visited the old military command center under the castle. Now that she’d had the time to ponder the situation, Celestia felt much calmer. The situation was still beyond disastrous, but she knew that she had to remain strong in the eyes of her people.
“Tia?” Luna’s voice came from behind her. “How are you feeling?” Celestia put on her serine royal face.
“Better,” She said. “It it time?” Luna nodded.
“It is.” Celestia took a deep breath,
“Lead the way then.” The two princesses started down the halls of the secured castle.
“What is the situation in the north?” She asked. Luna gave her a concerned look.
“Are you sure you want to hear that now?” Celestia nodded.
“Yes, I’ve been wanting to know all day.” Her sister sighed.
“It’s a crisis. None of our forces are in the North, and what forces we do have are nowhere near ready for war. They’re more of a danger to themselves than they are to the enemy. We’re starting up recruitment drives and beginning wartime rationing, but it will be a while before we are fully mobilized. As much as I don’t like it, we’ll have to rely on the Federation forces until we get everything fully ready.” Luna looked to the floor. “Unfortunately, the humans are in almost as bad of shape as we are. Most of their forces are in disarray after the chemical strikes, their trying to rally a response unit from what they have left, but the entire Alliance Military is in chaos right now.”
“I’m sure somewhere Discord is laughing at us…” Celestia said, taking in what she had heard. Luna nudged her sister reassuringly,
“We’ve gotten through a lot of bad times, we’ll get through this.” The Solar Princess nodded, then stopped outside of two large doors. The guards bowed,
“They’re waiting for your highness.” One of them said.
“Good luck.” Luna said. Celestia put on her grand serene royal face, then proceeded through the doors. Outside was a massive crowd of ponies, some were holding cameras. Celestia even saw a few humans in the crowd, most likely news reports or merchants who wanted some answers. She stepped up to a podium, facing all those gathered.
“On this day, February third, Two-thousand and thirteen, our great nation of Equestria was suddenly and brutally attacked without warning by the Naval, Air, and Land forces of the Gryphon Kingdom.” She kept her voice calm, but spoke with enough volume to be heard. “As we speak, they are invading our northern territory, pushing to take our great kingdom for themselves. We now have confirmed that they were the ones behind the merciless attacks on our human allies within our borders, showing no restraint in this war. They believe that we will roll over and surrender without a fight, that we will be pushovers in this war, but already, we are proving them wrong. As this is being broadcasted through all of both Equestria and the Human Mainland, know that we are already engaging the invaders. Members of the Federation Military and Pony militias are fighting for Equestria, making the Gryphons pay for every inch of ground. We will fight, and we will win, but war needs ponies to fight it. We have lived for over a thousand years in peace and harmony, and we will have it again, but we must fight for that right. I must ask for you, my loyal subjects, to help fight this war. We will need your help to drive the invaders from our land. It will not be easy by any means, but it is important to remember that we are not alone. Our human allies are standing strong beside us, determined to help us as we helped them. They were struck even before we were, and they are as angry as we are. This will be the first test of our Alliance, and we will prove how we are stronger together than we are apart.”
“Stand Fast. Stand Strong. Stand Together.”
“What do you mean we’re not allowed back on base?!” Cole shouted, not bothering to hide the anger in his voice. “If you haven’t noticed, there’s a war going on! We need to get into the sky ASAP!” The Military Police officer didn’t even blink.
“I’m sorry sir,” The woman’s voice remained neutral. “But the contamination level on the base is still at lethal levels, no one is allowed on base right now except for cleanup crews until it’s declared safe.”
“And how long is that going to take?” Dare asked, just as frustrated as her squadron leader. “They’re going to need us up north!” The MP shrugged,
“It’s hard to say,” She said. “It could be a few days, or more than a week.”
“MORE THAN A WEEK?!” All ten Rouges shouted.
“But they need our help NOW!”
“We can’t just sit here and do nothing!”
“I’m sorry sir, but there’s nothing I can do about it.” The MP saluted, then exited Sugar Cube Corner, which had become a gathering point for Rouge squadron since the Chemical strike.
“So now what?” Justin asked.
“We’ve got no other choice, we just have to wait until the chems have been cleared out.”
“I don’t like it…” Blaze mumbled.
“You got a better idea? I’m all ears.” Cole turned to Rainbow Dash, who’s eyes were glued to the television screen. She had been watching the speeches of both Princesses Luna and Celestia, listening to them over and over again. “You know it’s not going to get better, no matter how many times you watch.” For the first time in an hour, Dash tore her gaze from the TV.
“She says that she needs us ponies to help, a lot of us.” Her voice was distant, missing it’s general cockiness and arrogance. Cole knew what she was thinking, and he immediately shook his head,
“Don’t even think about it Dash.” He said.
“Why? You heard what she said.”
“I heard she needed SOME ponies, not EVERY pony.”
“But I can help!”
“Dash, listen to me,” Cole said. “War is not something to take with a grain of sand, there will be death and madness, and I don’t want you, any of you to be a part of that. Understand?”
“But you guys will be going to war!” Dash protested.
“Because that’s our job, not yours. Plenty of humans and ponies will be going to war, you don’t have to. Do not do something stupid that you’ll regret later, alright?” Dash remained silent, “Dash!”
“Ok ok…” She relented.
“Besides,” Dare said. “I’m sure our forces are holding off the invasion as we speak.”
The Ponies rushed around the small town, many trying to gather belongings. Others were crying out names, yelling to hurry. But most were running away as fast as their legs could take them. A noise came from the north, and as the ponies looked, they realized they hadn’t been fast enough.
The skies began to darken, as the invaders arrived.
A group of Militia ponies tried to slow them down, but it was in vain, as a group of gryphons dive-bombed towards them, machine guns blazing. More and more Gryphons began to land, rounding up ponies and breaking into any buildings that they thought might hold anything of value. They looted every store, taking money and everything else they could get their talons on. Now armored vehicles were moving through the streets, striking fear into the hearts of the ponies, as their armored skin looked invincible. But the worst of all were the bombers, flying high above, raining death upon any living thing that dared challenge the might of the Gryphon Kingdom.
As the fires raged, the smoke rising, it seemed that all hope was being burned away along with all resistance.
City of Canterlot, Equestria
Alliance Command Center
29 hours after invasion began
February 4th, 2015
Luna continued to stare at the map, as if trying to will the red line to fall back towards the Gryphon country. Even now, it was moving forward, ever so slightly. Red blocks covered the line, representing known Gryphon battalions. On the other side, small green triangles dotted the side of the map that wasn’t draped in red, representing areas where Pony militias were believed to be. Occasionally, blue squares could be seen between the militias, showing where groups of human military members were rallied.
Luna was trying to help organize the militias, but the Gryphon strengths were still largely unknown, and none of those who were volunteers had any military experience, so they couldn’t give the information that Luna and the other military commanders were looking for. The human soldiers were able to provide more needed intelligence, but their forces were too few, and many were being overrun faster than they could gather the info.
“Your highness?” Luna was suddenly aware of a human standing beside her. As she looked away from the map, she recognized him as Colonel Garrett, the commanding officer of all remaining Federation forces within Equestia.
“What is it Colonel?” She asked. Luna wasn’t intentionally trying to sound rude, but she had gotten no sleep for two straight days now.
“I’ve just received some news that I think you’ll want to hear.”
“I doubt that,” Luna said, deadpanned. “I actually don’t think I can take any more bad news.” Garrett beamed,
“Well, it’s fortunate that this is good news then.” Luna immediately perked up,
“What?” The human waived her towards a computer console.
“Our surviving forces out of Orlando Naval Base have been rallied, and have managed to reach their gear. At this moment, they’re combat ready.”
“What’s the unit?”
“Third Marine Force Reconnaissance, they’re heading toward the fighting up north as we speak.” The Princess looked skeptical,
“One unit to face an entire invasion?” Garrett chuckled,
“I assure you your highness, they’re supremely qualified.” The human pressed a button, sending a transmission out. Immediately, a response arrived.
“We read you command. This is Captain Miller, acting commander of Warlock battalion.”
“Glad to have you in our corner Captain,” Garrett responded. “What’s your ETA to the combat zone?”
“About four hours, we’ve just departed from the base. Do you have any particular destination in mind for us sir?”
“I do, I’ll send you the mission details as soon as we finish compiling them.”
“Captain Miller, this is Princess Luna,” Her voice was even, but had a hint of worry. “Please help my subjects however you can.”
“Don’t worry your highness,” The Marine’s voice was reassuring. “We’ll do everything possible to make sure all your ponies get out alive. Warlock out.”
33 hours since invasion
Lieutenant Riley Davis
3rd Marine Force Recon
February 4th, 2013
It was deathly quiet in the helicopter, only the sounds of the propellers came to Riley’s ears. Every Marine knew what was coming. It was what they had trained and drilled for, they were among the best humanity had to offer, with the best equipment the military could manufacture.
It still wasn’t much comfort.
It was the first time since the Unification War that soldiers of humanity would be called to action, and they would be the first responders to face the invasion.
There was a fear of death of course, but the hardened soldiers knew there was much more at stake than their lives. They felt more pressure with the knowledge that they would have to stop the invasion anyway they could.
But the deathly calm was plain on every face, as they were ready to do their duty.
Riley sat in an almost meditative state, his eyes closed and his hands going over his rifle.
“This is command to Delta Three, come in Delta Three.” He slowly opened his eyes, bringing his finger to his ear.
“This is Delta Three, I read you loud and clear.”
“Copy all Delta, I’m Colonel Garrett, callsign ‘Overlord’. You’re now under my command.”
“Well then,” Riley said. “Maybe you can tell me what our orders are.”
“It’s pretty straightforward today Lieutenant. The Gryphons are advancing toward a small town called Morningwood, leaving a large number of Militia ponies and Air Force Personnel scattered around the entire area. If we can get them all out of there, they’ll be major source of support for later operations. Warlock Battalion’s objective as a whole will be to hold off the Gryphon forces until the resistance members can be evacuated. Your battalion in particular will be stationed in the city, helping civvies get out. Once you arrive, dig in, the Gryphons won’t be very long, so make sure your men are ready.”
“I don’t mean to sound negative sir, but without any air support, it won’t be much of a battle.”
“Don’t worry about that Three; we’ve got a squadron of F-4’s en-route to your location.” Riley felt his jaw drop,
“F-4’s?!” He demanded. “Are you kidding me?!”
The F-4 Phantom had been outdated for thirty years now, its speed and weaponry were pathetic compared to the vastly superior F-16 Fighting Falcon, the standard fighter for the Federation Military. He was actually surprised that there were any still in service.
“You don’t have a choice in the matter,” Overlord shot back. “It’s the Phantoms or nothing, take your pick.”
‘I suppose beggars can’t be choosers,’ Riley thought.
“Understood sir, Delta Three out.” He deactivated the radio, then turned towards the cockpit. “What’s our ETA?”
“We’re about two mikes out from Morningwood sir!” The pilot shouted back. Riley nodded, then stood up to face the other soldiers in the helicopter.
“Listen up Marines!” He barked. “Here’s the situation. We’re on a secret mission to go get the coffee and donuts. Problem is, the Gryphons drank all the coffee and ate all the donuts, so now we’ve got to go kick their asses!” several hoots and hollers followed that statement. “Once we hit dirt, I want blocking positions set up on street corners and other defensible positions. Keep an eye out for any ponies, we’re here to help keep them safe. Oorah?”
“Lock and load!”
The two dozen marines unbuckled themselves from the crash webbing, then piled up towards the end of the Chinook. The helicopter began it’s decent.
“Green light in three…. Two… One…”
They felt the landing gear impact with the ground, as the rear door lowered.
“GO GO GO!” Riley shouted. A sea of desert-colored humans streamed from the helicopter, moving to follow the orders they had had been given.
It was chaos outside, as three more helicopters; two Black Hawks and another Chinook were landing and deploying the rest of the Delta Company Marines. Ponies were scrambling around them, obviously trying to get out of the city as fast as they could. His soldiers were now grabbing whatever was large enough for them to take cover behind, stacking them on street corners to set up blocking positions. Normally, they would be using barbed wire, but that would have no effect on the Gryphons who could just use their wings to hop over them.
“Hey! Hey human!” Riley looked over to see two rugged looking stallions galloping towards him. “Are you in charge here?” One of them asked. Riley nodded,
“Lieutenant Davis, Federation Marines.”
“I’m Storm Chaser,” The Earth Pony said. He motioned to the unicorn next to him, “This is Dusk Shine.”
“We’re militia volunteers.” Dusk said. “It took some time, but we managed to set a machine gun position down the street using what we salvaged from your base. We can’t use it ourselves since our human liaisons never showed up, but maybe you guys could put it too good use.”
“Thanks, now help get these ponies out of town, we’ll take it from here.” The Ponies did as instructed, moving to help direct the flow of civilians out of the small city. Riley continued down the street that they had indicated, a team of his Marines behind him. As promised, a makeshift pillbox was set up, using a 50. Caliber Machine gun that looked like it had been taken off of a Humvee.
“Ramirez!” He shouted. “Mount that machine gun!” The Marine obliged moving into position in the pillbox. Riley’s radio came alive,
“Overlord to all Warlock units, enemy forces are twenty miles out from Morningwood, stand by to engage.”
“Overlord, we’re sitting ducks out here, where’s our air support?” The Lieutenant of Bravo Company demanded.
"Their almost on location, just bunker down and ready your men.”
“You heard the man!” Riley shouted. “Get your rears in cover and your rifles loaded!” Following his own order, he crouched behind a metal ammunition crate, his rifle steadily aimed toward the horizon. His heart pounded in his chest, the adrenaline coursing through his veins as he saw the gryphons start to appear in the distance.
There were hundreds of them, far outnumbering the humans, and they still kept popping up, staying in one giant mass.
And that was their mistake.
“Steady boys….” He said, his voice drowned out by the blood roaring in his ears. The seconds passed like hours, as the flying gryphons got closer and closer. Then he knew it was time,
The humans opened fire, bullets flying all in front of them towards their targets. Ramirez was squeezing the trigger on the 50. Cal, spraying the heavy rounds through the air. Riley pulled the trigger again, and again, and again, feeling the recoil from the weapon on his shoulder. He couldn’t be certain if he was hitting anything, but it really didn’t matter. The enemy soldiers were dropping out of the sky like flies, flying strait into the bullets. They quickly realized this, trying to perform evasive maneuvers, which were only mildly successful against the Marine riflemen. Riley pulled the trigger again, being answered with a click. Almost mechanically, he pressed the button on his rifle, dropping the magazine from his weapon. As it hit a the ground, he replaced it with a second magazine. As he chambered a round, he heard the unmistakable sound of jets approaching. He turned around, his back to cover, just in time to see a squadron of ten F-4’s flying overhead. He could barely make out a Ribbon insignia on the tail of the lead fighter.
“Warlock Battalion, this is Mobius One. We’ll keep you covered from the sky.”
Riley continued to watch the planes as they moved to engage the Gryphons.
‘I hope you’re a good pilot Flyboy,’ He thought. ‘Or else this is going to be a very short battle.’
He forced himself to concentrate, turning back around to gun down any Gryphon unfortunate enough to be caught in his sights.
This was the pattern that followed for nearly twenty minutes. Whoever this Mobius One was, he was pretty damn good. It hadn’t been long before a whoop from one of his squadron-mates had confirmed that he had reached ace status, and the jets were still continuing to swat any remaining Gryphons from the sky. Realizing that taking to the air would be suicide, the Gryphon commanders tried to go in the old fashion way, marching their forces on the ground toward the well dug in Marines. They fell in droves, by bullets and explosives death came to them.
And still they kept coming.
It wouldn’t be too much longer before Mobius squadron would have to leave to refit, leaving the Marines at the mercy of the Gryphon air forces. They would have to wrap this up fast.
“Overlord, how much longer until the evacuation is complete?”
“We’ve almost got all of the militia out, just hang on a little longer Delta Three.”
‘Easy for you to say,’ He thought.
He popped out of cover, firing off three quick rounds at the invaders. He was forced to duck back under cover quickly as they returned fire.
“They’re pushing hard!” Riley yelled, trying to be heard over the gunfire. “Keep up the pressure!”
“Delta Three, you’ve-” The radio trasmittion was drowned out by a nearby explosion.
“Say again Delta One, I didn’t copy!”
“I said you’ve got an armored division headed straight towards you!” Miller responded. “We’ve spotted at least three armored transports approaching from your left flank!”
“Got it, we’ll deal with them!” He turned toward two nearby Marines.
“Jackson! Allen! Grab the Javelins and follow me!”
“We’ll hold them here sir!” Ramirez shouted. “COVERING FIRE!”
The remaining Marines immediately laid down a shower of bullets, forcing the gryphons to dive for cover as Riley and his team moved away from the firefight.
The three moved through the deserted streets, their exhausted minds functioning only on sheer stubbornness. Jackson was on point, ready to move down a street corner.
“Watch your six Devildog.” Allen warned, bringing up the rear of the trio. They stacked up on a corner of a building, ready for trouble. Jackson carefully peeked around the corner, then immediately jumped back, sending all three marines crashing to the ground. The edges of the wall blew apart, sending rubble crashing to the ground.
“Damn they moved fast.” Jackson cursed.
“I don’t think we’re going to be getting around these guys sir.”
“Oh yes we are,” Riley said. “Overlord, we need an air-strike at coordinates Whiskey, Tango, Omega, Charlie.”
“This is Mobius Eight, coordinates received, coming in hot.” The F-4 came streaking in from the other end of the street. “Bombs away.” The single large object fell from the plane, detonating right in the center of the enemy group. “All those Gryphons are toast, you’re good to go Delta Three.”
“Thanks for the assist Eight!” Riley called. The three Marines continued on, passing by the blast zone.
“Overlord, we’re almost bingo on ammo, we’ll need to bug out soon.”
“Copy that Mobius One, all militia elements have been successfully evacuated. All Warlock callsigns, begin to pull out.”
“Got it,” Riley said. “Third platoon, pull back to the LZ. Second Platoon, move into position to help first platoon once they begin to pull back.”
“Hmm… this strangely reminds me of barbecue.” Allen said, sniffing the air.
“Federation Fried Gryphon?” Jackson chuckled. “Maybe when the war’s over, we’ll open a restaurant.”
“Can it,” Riley said. “Stay focused on the mission, we’ve got to keep an eye out for those armored transports.”
“You mean those over there?” Jackson asked, pointing to a old dirt road where a vehicle bearing the markings of the Gryphon kingdoms.
“Alright, let’s fry these suckers then meet up with the rest of the company.” The pair took the rocket launchers off their backs, setting up to fire.
“Hold up,” Allen said. “More are coming over the hill.”
“You’re right,” Riley observed. “I count four, looks like they wanted to smash our flank.”
“Well, let’s turn the tables and smash them!” Allen said with a smile. “Lock on…. FIRE!”
The two Javelin missiles launched, falling downward before the rockets fired, sending them high in the sky, before they came crashing down right on top of the helpless Transport, destroying it in a shower of flames and shrapnel. The other two drove off the road, trying to find out what had happened two their two comrades. Before they could return fire, the humans had launched their last two rockets two finish off the armored column. Jackson stood up, exhaling slowly.
“That… was satisfying.” He said. Riley was about to make a retort, when his radio blasted in his ear.
“Delta Three, do you copy?”
“I hear you Ramirez, what’s wrong?”
“The Gryphons are pushing again, but there’s a lot more of them this time. I don’t think we’ll be able to hold out for much longer!”
“Alright, pull out of there Ramirez! We’ll meet you at the pickup zone!” He turned to his team. “We’re Oscar Mike, let’s get moving!” Allen nodded, moving ahead of them.
“Right, I’ll take poi-”
A sharp crack echoed through the street, as Allen fell to the ground.
“SNIPER!” Riley shouted, diving for cover alongside Jackson in a bombed-out building.
“Where is he?” Jackson yelled.
“I can’t tell!” He replied, flinching as a round impacted with the front of his cover. He heard a groan, and saw Allen slowly moving on the ground. “STAY DOWN PRIVATE ALLEN!” He screamed. If the sniper noticed that one of his targets was still moving, he might try to finish the job.
“I think I see him!” Jackson yelled, then immediately brought his head down as two more bullets hit where his brain had been just a half a second before. “Oh ya, I saw him.”
“Second story balcony on the building at your eleven O’clock!” Riley poked his head out of cover for a second, just long enough to see where Jackson was telling him. As expected, a Gryphon was sitting on the balcony, a long rifle in his talons. It didn’t provide very good cover, but it did give him a wide range for overwatch.
“Alright, here’s what we’re gonna do,” Riley said. “Pop off a shot to get his attention, then I’ll lay down some covering fire while you get Allen.” The Marine nodded.
“Three….two…one…. Now!” Jackson lifted his rifle over the blown out wall, blind-firing a single shot. The sniper returned fire with two shots of his own. Riley seized the advantage, diving out of cover with his rifle on full auto. The M4’s bullets showered the sniper, sending him falling off the balcony.
“Nice shot sir.” Jackson said. Riley looked over to see him pulling his fellow marine behind cover. He sprinted to his soldier’s side, looking at how bad the damage was.
“Dammit…” He muttered. The sniper’s bullet had tagged Allen in his mid section, right above where his kidneys were. Riley couldn’t see the full extent of the damage, but the marine was losing a lot of blood, and already, Allen’s eyes began to look distance.
“Hey hey, stay with me soldier!” Riley said, snapping his fingers in front of Allen’s eyes. Jackson was already applying pressure to the wound, his face calm, but the fear for his friend was evident in his eyes.
“We’re not going to be able to move him to the RV in this condition sir.” He said.
“I know Sergeant.” Riley replied, activating his radio. “This is Delta Three to all callsigns, we have wounded and are unable to make it to the pickup zone. We need immediate evacuation at location.” After a few heartbeats of silence, the radio buzzed.
“This is Yellow Jacket, we hear you loud and clear Delta Three,” Came the response. “We’re on our way now, ETA, Thirty seconds, standby.” He breathed out a sigh of relief.
“This is Overlord, belay that order Yellow Jacket.” Riley’s breath caught in his lungs. “We’re tracking two enemy mobile AA toward Delta Three’s position, you’ll be swatted right out of the sky.”
“Overlord, the Gryphons are advancing fast, we need to get those men out of there!” Miller protested.
Riley could now see the AA vehicles, coming down the same dirt road as the transport vehicles.
“I’m not going to send a chopper on a suicide mission to save three men,” Overlord shot back. “Delta Three, do you have any more Javelin missiles left?”
“Negative, we used them on the rest of the armored Division.”
“Overlord, this is Yellow Jacket. Enemy Forces are going to be on top of them in less than two minutes, we’re going in to get our marines out, danger or no danger.”
“Negative Yellow Jacket, you are not authorized to-”
Overlord’s words were drowned out as a Jet came careening over the hill at high speeds. The AA vehicles noticed this, and tried to bring their guns around to bare, but the Ribbon Fighter was already within range.
“Mobius One, bombs away.” The last two unguided bombs released from the F4, landing on both of the vehicles with laser precision. “You’re clear Yellow Jacket.” Riley jumped up, letting out a whoop while throwing his fist in the air.
“Alright Mobius One!” He shouted triumphantly. A Black Hawk helicopter landed nearby within a few seconds.
“This is Yellow Jacket, get your asses on board Delta Three.”
The two able-bodied Marines each grabbed their wounded comrade by the shoulders, and quickly moved to their evacuation craft.
“We’re all in!” Riley shouted. “Go go go!”
“Roger that, we’re out of here!” The helicopter quickly lifted off, leaving the town at the mercy of the Gryphons.
‘I sure hope all the ponies were able to get out of there.’ He thought.
Beside him, Allen let out a small groan.
“Ugh… Hey Jackson…”
“I…Thought of a new recipe for our restaurant… It involved Napalm and that Mobius guy…”
Four days since invasion
February 7th, 2015
Riley’s eyes snapped open, his body and mind pressing exhaustion on him.
He had been helping to coordinate troop movements with militia and what little Equestrian military units had been scrambled. Mostly the missions had entailed scuttling or distracting the Gryphons long enough to allow civilians or other military elements to escape. Every battle was ended with a retreat, they were constantly falling back, losing more and more ground to the Gryphons. They had managed to slow their advance, but not stop it.
He hadn’t slept for three days, and now every time he blinked, sleep threatened to overtake him. But he couldn’t sleep, not right now.
He was in the center of a makeshift Command Post, sitting at a small desk with maps and intelligence reports covering it. Marines were all around him, cleaning their weapons, messing with equipment, or grabbing a few minutes of sleep while they could. Ponies were also in the mix, militia members or other volunteers with the war effort.
Moral was crushingly low, as the thought of constant defeat loomed on everyone, human and pony alike. Riley knew he had to do something, he was the company commander, and they were all looking to him for leadership and guidance. Should he make a speech? Would it even matter?
‘No,’ He thought. ‘But I know what will.’
He suddenly dropped his pen and looked up, looking at as many marines as he could.
“My mama can’t you see?” He sang, his voice loud enough to carry to all ears.
“MY MAMA CAN’T YOU SEE?” The Marines repeated involuntarily. They’re eyes widened, as they realized what they had just done, and they looked at their commanding officer.
“What this Corps has done for me!”
“WHAT THIS CORPS HAS DONE FOR ME!” It was a marching cadence, every Marine knew it by heart since it had been drilled into their skulls in basic training.
“Put me in a barber’s chair!”
“PUT ME IN A BARBER’S CHAIR!”
“Snip! Snap! And I had no hair!” Rile was on his feet now, moving through the camp, making eye contact with his soldiers.
“SNIP! SNAP! AND I HAD NO HAIR!”
“And if I die in a combat zone!”
“AND IF I DIE IN A COMBAT ZONE!”
“Box me up and ship me home!”
“BOX ME UP AND SHIP ME HOME!”
“Put me in a set of dress blues!”
“PUT ME IN A SET OF DRESS BLUES!” Ponies were now listening, trying to figure out what their human allies were doing.
“Comb my hair and shine my shoes!”
“COMB MY HAIR AND SHINE MY SHOES!”
“Pin my medals upon my chest!”
“PIN MY MEDALS UPON MY CHEST!”
“Tell my mother I did my best!”
“TELL MY MOTHER I DID MY BEST!”
“My Momma, don’t you cry!”
“MY MOMMA, DON’T YOU CRY!” Riley now moved back to his desk, facing all the soldiers.
“Marine Corps motto is do or die!”
“MARINE CORPS MOTTO IS DO OR DIE!”
Many were now nodding at him, understanding what he was getting at. Within a few seconds, everyone was back to work, a noticeable increase in energy than just a few moments before.
“Excuse me sir.” Riley looked over to see one of his marines standing with a Pegasus next to him. She was different than the other ponies, her outfit and appearance showing someone who had seen a lot, even before the war. Her grayscale mane was partially covered by a hat that looked like it belonged on a safari. Her eyes looked to almost be a pinkish color.
“This mare says that she’s got vital tactical information. Says she’ll only talk to you.”
“That was quite the feat of leadership you just pulled off.” She said. “You gave them something familiar, not a long speech. It held meaning to them, even if it was just words. You just inspired more hope than you think, and it only took you a little over a minute.” Riley raised a brow,
“Well, I try. Who are you exactly?” The mare smiled, and took off her hat.
“Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Daring Do.” She said. The two marine looked at her for a moment, then started laughing uncontrollably. The Daring Do novels were very well known to humanity, and were quite popular. One reason was because it was very similar to a movie series made by the humans before they ever met the ponies.
“Right, YOU’RE Daring Do,” He snickered. “And I’m Indiana Jones, let’s go treasure hunting sometime!” He waved dismissively. “Now please miss, we have legitimate military business to attend too.” The pony’s eyes narrowed, then she took out a piece of paper from her saddlebags, putting it on the table.
“Then I guess you won’t be wanting this then?” She asked. Riley’s eyes widened in shock,
“It’s a map of Gryphon troop movements, with the locations of local enemy command posts, along with estimated troop strengths. I did my best to make them as close as possible, but I’m just one pony.”
“How in the name of Celestia did you get this information?” Riley demanded. Daring smiled,
“You believe me now? I’m Daring Do!”
“You get me information like this, you can claim to be Princess Luna for all I care!” He handed the paper off to the Marine. “Get this to Captain Miller, see if he can’t somehow verify all this, it could be invaluable.” The Marine saluted, then rushed to carry out the order.
“Anything else I can do to help?” Riley looked at the mare,
“Stick around Miss Do, we might just have need of Somepony of your talents.” Daring’s smile grew wider,
“Of course Lieutenant, I’m ready to do or die.”