Night hid the bodies in Scholar’s room. One in his previous hiding spot of under the bed, and the other in the wardrobe that the griffon had trashed. Night tried his best not to let the blood seep out of the cracks of the wardrobe. He contemplated on getting back the darts from his ambush earlier, but then decided the blood will probably hinder the firing mechanism. He wasn’t that sure of the firing mechanism, but it was better to be safe than sorry.
With the mobile firing device still attached to both of his wings, he wondered how he’ll be able to bring the crossbow away from Scholar’s house. Night knew the griffons were capable of abusing Scholar’s technology, so he had to get it away as fast as he could. The commander might come back looking for his two other griffons, who Night suspected, were privates. Night peeked out the door, praying to Celestia that the coast was clear. The streets were clear, for now. Night shifted his gaze skyward. A couple of griffons were flying in the opposite direction of Scholar’s house.
Night retreated back inside and looked around for anything to carry the crossbow with. He went back into Scholar’s room and found a saddlebag among the clothes. He clipped it on and put the crossbow in. He trotted over to the kitchen and checked the boxes that had kept the weapons. There were still several drums of darts for the crossbow in its box, and a belt of bullets for the mobile firing device.
Scholar’s design of the mobile firing device had two different ways to feed in ammunition. One was via belt, the other via magazines, which would be inserted through the top of the mobile firing device. He took drums and put them in his saddlebag before reloading his mobile firing device with the belt of darts.
Night peeked back out, and this time the skies were clear as well. He glanced in every direction, hoping to guess where the commander had brought his brother. His brother was the only one that could wield the crossbow at the moment without a problem. Somewhere in the distance, plumes of black smoke were barreling into the sky. Night knew he had to get out of the area before anypony, or anygriffon, found him. He was just about to take off when he heard a voice nearby. He froze in his tracks, wondering if this would be the second time today that he’d have to use his mobile firing device.
“Keep calm. You wouldn’t want to panic in a situation like this wouldn’t you? Too much at risk.”
Night turned around to see a unicorn, with a mane of dark blue and white and a coat of sky blue. She had a fresh wound over her cheek, which Night guessed was from a short scuffle with the griffons. She held up a double barreled shotgun, which made Night guess that she was in the police force. She had seen the mare a couple of times while he was in Ponyville, but he never really wondered where she went to or what she did. The mare’s eyes were fixated on Night as she spoke. “We should keep moving. Before anything else happens.”
Night didn’t say anything for a moment, and stood there staring at the mare, who stared back with equal silence. Five seconds rolled by like five minutes, and the risk of being caught by the griffons increased those few seconds.
Night spoke, not shifting his gaze. “And who are you working for? And you can set that down. I’m not hostile unless provoked.”
The unicorn lowered the shotgun, but didn’t move her eyes as she spoke. “It doesn’t matter who I work for. You’re one of the few ponies that I can find out of all this chaos going on, and I would appreciate a little cooperation.”
Night shrugged. Nothing he could say to that. “You said keep moving. You have a temporary facility somewhere?”
The mare nodded. “It’s best if you just followed me, and make it quick.” The mare broke off the eyeing to glance around. The griffons that had been flying away from the direction of Scholar’s house were now flying back. Night noticed this too, and nodded.
The unicorn asked, “What’s the bloody hooves?”
“I killed a couple of griffons, now get going before the others catch us.”
The mare ducked into the storm drain outside Scholar’s house. Night didn’t ask. He leapt in as well. And right in the nick of time too.
As he and the mare disappeared deeper into the storm drain, the two griffons that had been flying landed outside Scholar’s house, hoping to find their two missing colleagues. Unless they checked Scholar’s room, they’ll never find the bodies ever again.
Night had never been through a storm drain pipe before, and hadn’t imagined it to be wide enough to fit a pony, or a stallion. He guessed the diameter was around ten feet, which was more or less correct. Come rainy season, all the water from the rain would be redirected into the sea via these huge storm drain pipes. Night and the mare were threading through two inches of water, which wasn’t as threatening as staying outside with the griffons patrolling the area. Night could feel the blood of the griffon he killed earlier wash away.
The mare led the way through the maze of pipes that seemed to recline as they progressed. The mare lit her horn as the light from the surface world diminished. She had her shotgun aimed in front of her, which Night took to mean she was cautious, or just paranoid. The water flowed down the inclined pipe as the two ponies threaded their way down. It was Night who started a conversation, which wasn’t common.
“So where are we headed? You seem to know your way around here.”
The mare kept moving, not glancing back to answer, “If we’re on the right track we should be reaching a larger area. Easier navigation from there on out. We just have to exit the pipe and follow the hints.”
Night said nothing after that. The silence continued for a couple of minutes before they reached the end of the pipe. Colgate leapt out of the pipe and glanced around. Night got out after her. The water continued flowing out of the pipe into another drain in the middle of the larger area. Water from other pipes joined in the flow as the water flowed south, toward the sea. The mare went in the opposite direction. Night followed close behind. And then the mare spoke.
“Since we’ll be going through all this together, why not introduce ourselves? I’m Colgate, local dentist in Ponyville.” She didn’t turn around as she introduced herself, only kept moving forward as she went through. A few sewers rats scampered off as she rounded a corner.
Night shrugged, not that he expected Colgate to see it anyway, and introduced himself. “My name’s Night Crescent. I’m a planner and I live with my brother near the edges of the town.” The mare stopped in her tracks upon hearing the words ‘planner.’ , startling Night as he stopped himself from bumping into Colgate’s rump. The mare turned around to face Night, who backed up a couple of steps as the blinding light from Colgate’s horn blinded him. Colgate realized this and dimmed down her horn.
Night rubbed his eyes as Colgate spoke, “A planner, eh? You might be useful here. Where’s your brother?”
Night explained what had happened earlier, and elaborated further on his ambush on the two griffons. Colgate nodded. “A couple of them. That’s not bad. I only had to get through one to get this shotgun,” She lifted it up through telekinesis, “and by get through, I mean really get through. With a dentist’s drill.” She turned around, and continued trotting. The whole trip there was silent as neither of them spoke.
Soon enough, they came upon an opening, which led to an even bigger area, about the size of town hall, though much wider. There were several ponies going around as whispers were exchanged among one another as Colgate and Night made their way through, now trotting onto the wooden boards that was set as a bridge between the sewer pipe system and the floating plateau that was their facility. The plateau was surrounded by water that was carried in by the sewage pipes, but was then flowed out through a couple of huge pipes that led out into the sea. Several tables, a few crates of weapons, tools, both mechanical and mystical, and provisions were among the few items on the floating plateau. A couple of ponies were installing what seemed to Night as an antenna. Or it could have been a beacon.
Light streamed in through several openings in the ceiling. Sunlight poured through at random intervals as the clouds outside temporary block the sun before moving on. Though the sunlight was sufficient enough light to illuminate the area, there was an oil lantern, lit, on a table with a map of Ponyville. Colgate asked Night to wait by the table while she went to check on a few things. Night obliged.
As Colgate went off, Night sat at the table, studying the map. The map showed multiple landmarks across ponyville. There was a red circle over Ponyville’s Town Hall, another on the General Hospital. A red square over the Ponyville Police Department and a blue rectangle over Sweet Apple Acres, with the words ‘urgent’ written underneath the rectangle. He studied the geography of the rest of Ponyville, hoping to find a spot where he could hole up besides the sewer system.
Colgate joined Night at the table. “Transmitter is almost up. Hopefully we can listen to whatever the hell the griffons might be relaying. Hopefully it’s not propaganda. The town’s in shambles enough.” Night merely shrugged.
“What’s with all these symbols over certain areas in Ponyville?” He pointed to the General Hospital.
“Retaliation targets. We plan to take control of these parts of the city in less than 12 hours. A lightning assault. The griffons wouldn’t expect such a thing so soon.” Colgate beamed.
Night tried analyzing Colgate’s plans, and then turned to the map, hoping to find the compatibility between the two. It all depends on where we make our first strike.
The resistance group had planned to attack around evening, but by that time, Ponyville would be so tightly secured that any chance of retaliating would be useless. Colgate knew this. After setting up what seems to be a receiver and a transmitter to receive radio transmissions, the two ponies strode over to the table Night and the others were around. Night could only recognize one. Even through all the chaos earlier, the pony still had his collar and tie on. His spiky brown mane remained untouched by all the sweat from the transmitter installation and the chaos from avoiding the griffon onslaught earlier.
The other pony, however, a pegasus, seemed the direct opposite. Her aqua-coloured mane was a bit messy and unkempt. Her teal-coloured pupils were filled with fear, either from the sudden invasion, or for fear of something else. Whatever that something else was, Night couldn’t tell. She was panting, like she had just run a marathon, or helped in the generation of a water spout. Sweat ran down her forehead as she looked on.
Colgate looked up from the map on the table at Night, who was studying the two new members of the table. Feeling that it was an appropriate time to introduce some other members of the group, Colgate did so.
“I’m not sure how many ponies here you recognize here Night, but I believe I should introduce them to you.” Upon hearing that, Night nodded. As if on cue, the collared earth pony nodded as well as he started introducing himself. “I’m Dr Whooves, a doctor and physician at the Ponyville General Hospital. I’m among a few other ponies here in charge of health and, quite possibly, mental stability.” Upon saying those last few words, Dr Whooves snickered. He forced a cough when nobody shared his humour, before continuing. “Anyway, I came here after Ponyville General Hospital got attacked, with a minority of the patients trying to fight back or resist, only to be killed.” He shook his head. “I’m guessing the griffons would want the ponies in their wards to stay there. They’ve already done enough damage by getting inside the hospital. Who knows how many of them have medical experience. I can’t imagine the torture they might give.”
Doctor Hooves stopped there. He glanced over to the light-yellow Pegasus next to him, and nodded. The Pegasus stopped panting, cleared her throat, and started introducing herself. “Raindrops. I came all the way from Cloudsdale to inform this small group of ours of the impending invasion. Have you noticed someponies in town that you usually see aren’t there?” Night nodded. Well that explains why or where Scholar might be. “Well chances are the majority of them are a part of this group. After Cloudsdale fell, a few of us were hunted down, with only me, Cloudchaser and Flitters making it here while the rest either got killed or captured.” Raindrops coughed, her pants returning. She continued to speak, “I’m from the Weather Factory team, and quite possibly the only one left. One of the elements of harmony was in the team as well, but I’m not sure of her condition for the time being.” Raindrops shook her head, and continued coughing, signalling she was done talking.
Colgate nodded and turned to Night, who then introduced himself. When he was done, the two new members of the table nodded. Night asked a question, “Do we have any technicians, inventors or anything here?”
Doctor Whooves nodded, to which Night smiled and took the crossbow out of his bag and set it on the table. The doctor eyed the crossbow. He looked back up to Night, who wore a blank expression where his smile had been a few seconds earlier.
“Might I ask where this came from?”
“I found this in a friend’s house while I was visiting. He wasn’t around. I left behind two dead griffons should he come back.” Night shrugged before continuing, “I’m sure he won’t be back though. He left me and my brother a note, but only I got to read the note before my brother got taken.” Night flapped his wings, loosening the straps on his mobile firing device. Colgate got the message and took it off for him, and laid it on the table next to the crossbow, carefully laying the belt of darts.
“He left these two things behind. The mobile firing device based on my brother’s design was modified.” Night took his saddlebag off, and laid it on the ground. He took out several of the magazines for the crossbow, and laid it on the table. “You think you can replicate them? Could be useful for whatever you guys are planning.”
Colgate looked confused, “We’re all going to plan this together. The technicians and arms experts might be able to replicate these, but for now we have to plan, which is where you come in.”
Now it was Night’s turn to look confused. But I just arrived here. How am I supposed to plan against something that I don’t even know jack about? Sensing the confusion clouding Night’s eyes, Colgate spoke. “What we’re planning right now, is to liberate Sweet Apple Acres. Half of the griffon attack force from earlier are stationed there to control provisions. Intel tells us that they have several crates of weapons with them, which we might be able to use for our cause.”
That was when something struck Night. “Wait, what is our cause in the first place?”
The other three exchanged glances, as if expecting Night to know what they were doing in the first place.
“Why Night,” Raindrops spoke. “We’re the Freedom Fighters of Equestria.”
Night sat down on a nearby crate, slowly taking in what was just said. This morning he was just a planner, visiting a friend with his brother, and now he was helping a resistance group plan their attacks. Well this is just swell. He hadn’t expected this, but then again, he wasn’t expecting to lose his brother, a friend and kill two griffons either. And I know shit’s gonna come back soon. It’s just left me idle for now.
“Night.” Night looked up, meetup Colgate’s gaze. Her dark blue eyes piercing his, she spoke, “We need you for this. We’ve all lost a loved one, a friend or our own families because of this. And now we need to get them back. And the sooner we we strike back, the better. If we just leave this or even delay the plans a little bit, it might be a little too late.” Night just stared back. He didn’t want to say anything. What Colgate was saying was true. My brother’s missing. You think I wouldn’t know that shit?
Night sighed. “Listen, I know that what we’re doing is right and all, but with what little forces we have at the moment, I think your idea would be too ambitious. The Sweet Apple Acres liberation idea is good, but with so many griffons, half you said? There’s gonna be a very risky gamble.”
Colgate’s eyes remain fixated, however, her voice changed from a demanding harsh one to a much soft, tender voice. “That’s why we need you here, Night. If we need anypony to plan for us, I’m sure you can help us out as well. Strategists are what we need for now. We may have small numbers, but with a good strategy we can get through just fine.”
Night just shrugged. He didn’t care anymore. Let’s just get this shit over with. I want my brother back. “Fine, but for starters, we would do well if we struck from the skies. Even in broad daylight, pegasi that are fast enough can’t be spotted. Anypony or griffon with quick eyes may spot one, but there isn’t a chance that they could do anything since fast pegasi can dodge things quite easily.”
Night flashed back to a time when he was out-flying his brother’s explosive heat-seeking darts. The darts had only a thousandth of a gram of gunpowder mixed with some other stuff. A dart had struck him and blew a scar in his wing about a couple of centimetres across. It wasn’t that severe, but in large numbers, the darts were threatening.
That test had been for fun. Night had wanted to see how fast he could go, Luke wanted to see how well his darts could go. With a range of around three hundred meters, it was very effective for long range firing. However, if used against pegasi, the darts were pretty much useless, considering how most pegasi can travel a hundred meters in under 3 seconds. It could be used for unsuspecting targets, but that was pretty much it. Luke was a marksman, he knew how to use the darts, and how to use them to their maximum potential.
“However, since we’re up against griffons, you might be expecting a dogfight soon. In which case, unless you have more weapons like the mobile firing device, which I doubt so, we’re in for some trouble.”
Doctor Whooves and Raindrops nodded, fully understanding the dangers of a dogfight. Casualties. The darts would go all over the place. The stray darts would strike griffons yes, but there was a very big chance the darts would go through buildings, potentially killing any innocent civilians. Collateral damage. Night wanted to avoid that. Colgate merely shrugged.
“Originally we planned to strike in the evening, but seeing as to how that might be a little too late, it would be best if we strike in the afternoon.” She pointed a hoof into the holes at the ceiling. The sunlight pouring in was traveling a straight line into the waters around the plateau. It was noon. 12pm.
Night nodded. He quickly put together a plan in his head. A couple of minutes was all he needed, as he continued sitting on the crate, staring at nothing in particular. Night tended to stare at nothing whenever he had his head full.
Striking in the afternoon, Night would want to be attacking in the direction facing away from the sun. That way any griffons looking directly in the sun’s direction would not notice anypony due to the glare of the sunlight. That was one part of his plan he wanted to stay. Then a thought materialized in his head.
“Hey Colgate, how well can you fire a crossbow?:
“That depends, the one you brought looks different. Normally we’d have use a bowstring for a crossbow, but yours is a much different thing entirely.”
Night explained everything he knew about the shotgun, including the gas canister, how the rounds worked and why a unicorn could use it better than any other type of pony or creature. Colgate didn’t question why it was heavier, luckily for Night.
“If anything goes well I can fire a crossbow about two hundred or maybe three hundred yards. And that’s if there’s no wind hindering my firing.”
Night grinned. He was satisfied. At least he had a marksman to work with now. He needed more help. He knew that. Many hooves make light work. But if many of those hooves suck at working, then he shouldn’t even bother. Now he needed to find experts he could work with. A marksman, a strategist, a doctor, and a weather control pegasus. There were others around, sure, but the introductions were going to have to wait. They needed to make haste. Strike while the iron was still hot. But he needed to make sure that casualties would be minimum.
“Did your Intel inform you how many griffons there were? Exact number, please. I need to know how many we’re gonna be up against.”
Colgate looked out a corner of her eye, tongue sticking out slightly as she tried to estimate just exactly how many griffons there were. She counted it as half because it was more or less true. Around 13 or 14 griffons.
“Around 13 or 14. If the two that went patrolling earlier count, I’d say at most 16 griffons.”
Night nodded. In the afternoon, most ponies would stay indoors to escape the heat from outside. Griffons might do the same, considering how they aren’t used to Equestrian heat. He guessed a couple outside. They’d have to be inside the main barn where they run their packing and processing of apples. The place was big enough to accommodate about 60 of Ponyville’s civilians. A couple outside the barn. A few around the trees. Maybe two on top of the barm to scout. The rest should be inside.
Night was running estimations through. If he and Colgate went, it would be no problem if none of the griffons were together. In large numbers, Night would have to use the mobile firing device. Colgate’s shotgun would notify others of their presence. She could use the crossbow which was although silent, useless against large numbers unless she could pull the trigger quickly. That’s not impossible, just very difficult. The best she could do was take three or four down on her own, but if there’s more, then she would be in trouble. Night wanted to try his best to avoid using his mobile firing device. Collateral damage.
With all that planned out, the afternoon assault was planned. Only a strategist, and a marksman. But as soon as the plan got out of his mouth, the ponies around the table disagreed. They didn’t want to go ahead with such a risky operation.
“Numbers that small, you can’t possibly take the place. Chances of you and her controlling the place is slim to none!” The doctor exclaimed.
Raindrops nodded, not wanting to add to the argument. Night explained what he thought would be great, until only the doctor was the only pony left arguing. “Even if the plan works out, there is no guarantee that you’ll be able to control the place long enough before they attempt a counter-attack!”
The doctor was practically shouting. Night had to resist extending a hoof and bitch-slapping the face of the doctor. Ponies from around the plateau were glancing over, seeing what the commotion was. Night trotted over to the table from the crate he was sitting on. Night didn’t bitch-slap the doctor, but rather just shoved a hoof into his mouth a glared at him.
“I would suggest using a fucking megaphone if you wanted everypony here to know. I’m sure you guys would have a couple of those down here.” He took his hoof out, to which the doctor turned and spat saliva. Doctor Whooves could swear he tasted some blood there, but then again that could be just him. “One, with just two ponies, there would be minimal loss, even if you guys lose a strategist and a leader. Two, with such a small number, we can get around easily. Imagine a whole group of us attacking. We’d be bumping into each other so often, any griffon could just kill two ponies without having to waste that many bullets. Three, reinforcements. That. Is. All.” Night said the last three words with a sour, deep voice. One that was dead serious. One that seemed enough to convince everypony that his plan was foolproof.
And with that the doctor was silenced. He didn’t say anything. Thought over any other possibilities that could happen, but in the end he just nodded, finally agreeing with Night’s plan. The doctor trotted over to the weapons crate, and took a crowbar from behind the crate in his mouth. Before Night or any of the other ponies could as, the doctor slammed the crowbar into the weapons crate, breaking the wooden cover in half. Smacking the wooden cover to the side, the doctor set his crowbar down.
From inside the box, the doctor took out a couple of receivers. As the doctor took the receivers out, Night could see a few other weapons inside the crate. He took them out as well. Night has never gone into battle, much less armed to the teeth. The doctor laid the receivers on the table before turning around and diving his head into the box one more time. This time he took out a couple of combat knives. The handles of the knives had been modified to follow the hoof of a normal pony. The description on the box noted that the weapon was meant for griffons, but that was the combat knife with a handle. The modification made wielding the knife easier for ponies that couldn’t rely on magic.
The doctor set the knives on the table, right next to the receivers. He flexed his neck a couple of times before finally speaking. “With the new transmitter and receiver up and running, we can at least communicate should you guys go into battle. The receivers are not guaranteed waterproof though. Now the knives would be useful for close quarter combat, much like Colgate’s shotgun. But only use it as a last resort. You can hide it in beneath your wing, which makes it all the more easier to carry around. Colgate would be bringing the saddlebag containing the crossbow should she need to use it. But give us enough time, we can make another replica before the afternoon.”
Night glanced at Colgate, who was at the same time glancing over at him, and they both shrugged. Then Night turned his gaze to Doctor Whooves. “Make haste you shall then. Me and Colgate will discuss further on the plan while the technicians and the rest start the replication process.”
Doctor Whooves nodded, picked up the crossbow and a few magazines and left, Raindrops following close behind.
Night sighed. He went over to another crate beside the one he had sat on earlier, and sat on it. Once more he flipped his plan over and over in his head, hoping to find a loophole. A weakness. Even if there wasn’t a weakness in his plan, how am I to say that it’ll go flawlessly? Night shifted to the right a bit as Colgate joined him on the crate.
“Nobody’s ever done that before.” She whispered.
Night glanced over at Colgate, who now had her stern gaze back, the eyes of a leader. What does she mean by that?
“I mean, rebutted whatever the doctor came up with. He’s argued with some of us over some of the tactical stuff and designs and stuff. He’s the one who wanted to build the transmission tower because he thought that listening to the radio would keep them more informed compared to going out on the surface.”
Night merely shrugged. He often argued with his own brother, with him being mostly the victor. Age doesn’t prove anything if it’s only used against somepony. Colgate and Night then began discussing their plan before the doctor could come back with the duplicate of the crossbow for Colgate to use.
Colgate and Night were silently staring forward. Staring at nothing in particular. Night was thinking, but he wasn’t sure what Colgate was having in her mind. He had talked to her over the possibilities of civilian casualties occurring during the liberation. What if there were civilians being taken around by the griffons? What if the rounds that penetrate the barn walls injure the ponies inside? What would happen should the civilian casualty rate be higher than our initial assumption? The thoughts went through Night’s mind like torrential rain on a sunday night. He didn’t notice when Colgate turned to gaze at Night, planning to ask him a question, when the doctor came back, carrying two crossbows on his back. The way the crossbow seemed, it was almost as if the doctor had bought another similar model, ready made from wherever he could get such models. Not that any other shop around here would sell crossbows and such anyway.
The doctor set the crossbows on the table before challenging Night to find the difference. Night walked around the table, eyeing every minor detail in both of the crossbows. He found one difference between the two. He looked up to the doctor and gave a grin. A grin that told the doctor ‘I found what you screwed up terribly.’ The doctor smiled back as if saying ‘Don’t tell anypony I screwed up’.
He picked the original crossbow up, and pointed to a single dark blue strand of mane hair, caught between the magazine slot and the magazine. “You used the replication spell didn’t you?” The doctor nodded, and answered, “The only thing ponies cannot replicate is the DNA of other ponies, so your strand of mane couldn’t be replicated. But other than that the other crossbow should work perfectly.” He picked the replicated crossbow and held it in front of Colgate. “Want to give it a test?”
Colgate took the crossbow via levitation, and aimed skyward. The sunlight pouring in was tilted to an angle, indicating it was already afternoon. She paused for a moment and fixated her aim on one of the holes in the ceiling. She took a deep breath, and fired. The dart sailed through the air, the force of the air propelling the dart forward forced a recoil into Colgate’s levitation spell, threatening to break the spell and making Colgate drop the crossbow. The dart exited through the hole in the ceiling above, right where Colgate was aiming.
“Well this is rather good, to say the least I guess.” Doctor Whooves beamed at the comment, even though he didn’t do anything but hand it over to a few unicorns to duplicate.
“If there’s anything else, please, let me know.”
Night nodded. He was going to ask for a few medical supplies, but contemplated and decided against it. Extra equipment, though essential, might hinder his progress. He glanced over to Colgate and nodded. Colgate took Night’s saddlebag and secured it on. She set the saddlebag on and levitated her shotgun and several shells into it. Double checking to make sure the shotgun was cocked, she levitated the two receivers earlier. Fixed one in her ear, and fixed the other one on Night.
The doctor waved at two ponies at the transmission tower, which was roughly six feet tall, and nodded. The two ponies nodded back, and turned the transmitter on. The red light at the top flashed at five second intervals as the sound of beeps reverberate around a small radius before being inaudible.
“Try saying something.” One of the ponies at the transmission tower picked up the microphone hooked up to the transmission tower and spoke a simple line. Today we will take back what’s ours. The signals were received by the receivers and Colgate nodded. With a quick wave, the two made their way through the pipes one more time.
As they went through the pipes, Night put his mobile firing device back on carefully securing it on before feeding the belt into his weapon. He kept the combat knife under his wing should he need it. He knows that the knife won’t affect his flying, but a saddlebag would. So keeping the knife under his wing was probably the best choice. Colgate once more led the way, being in Ponyville long enough to know every single route. Night, under any circumstance, would find a mare going through sewage pipes disturbing. But things were different now. This wasn’t just any circumstance.
“If this route is correct, we should be getting out of a storm drain near the farm. If we do get out, we stick with your plan. Walk in the direction facing away from the sun, but try not to block the sun. Blinding the griffons with light would be as important as taking one down.” Colgate whispered. Her voice seemed to reverberate across the metal pipes. Night merely shrugged. They continued straight for a spell, before they banked right, walking over to one of the openings that led out into the open world.
Colgate poked her head out to first look at the skies, hoping to see that the skies were clear of any griffons. The huge barn used for processing and packaging of apples was being staked out, a couple of griffons outside, just as Night had predicted. And another prediction of his was true, there was a griffon at the top of the huge barn, looking down over the land, though he was sure he couldn’t see Colgate as she peeked out.
“Okay, I’m going to start.” Without waiting for a response, Colgate set the crossbow down, her body still in the storm drain. She was looking out of the drain as if she were in a trench. Colgate raised the angle of trajectory and aimed at the griffon sitting on the roof. She took in deep breath, and tried her best to count the distance. Between the storm drain and the griffon on top of the barn, Colgate estimated roughly two hundred metres at an incline of about fifty degrees.
“Aim a bit higher.” Night whispered. Colgate looked back at Night. Night just nodded. Colgate didn’t say anything, but complied. The angle being fifty degrees, it made a lot of sense to aim a bit higher. Taking into the thought of gravity and air resistance acting on the dart, it would be better to aim higher and hit the griffon instead of aim at the right angle but have gravity bring it lower.
Colgate took in a deep breath, and squeezed the trigger. The sound of the dart exiting the the barrel of the crossbow was muffled by the soft dirt around the crossbow. Because it was fired using gas, it didn’t make a very audible sound, unlike the ammunition fired out of guns with the help of gunpowder or black powder. The dart was influenced by gravity the moment it left the barrel. It was going fast enough to not get affected that much, but with the speed in which the dart was cutting through the air, Colgate didn’t have to worry. The dart was accurate, as Night had known it would, as it smashed into the griffon’s head with enough force to propel him back a few feet before the body landed. Though Colgate didn’t see what happened to the griffon, she guessed the force was enough to break its neck even before he hit the roof. 1 down, 15 still standing.
The two sentries in front of the barn didn’t notice their friend’s demise and continued guarding the door. Colgate took this time to move from the storm drain to a tree that almost had the two griffons in a straight line. Colgate started thinking if this dart would travel quick enough to take a griffon out, it would be travelling fast enough to go through the griffon and travel into the other sentry. Literally killing two birds with one stone. But Colgate wasn’t that sure. Even Night couldn’t guarantee such odds. Colgate would have to fire two rounds. One for the first griffon and one more for the other after the first one goes down.
Provided the first one doesn’t fall sideways and catch the second dart, Colgate wanted to put an extra dart in for extra measure. She laid down in the dirt, with Night covering her back, and aimed the crossbow upwards. She chose her angle properly. She was going to fire multiple shots, so she aimed a little downwards, towards the torso. She knew that if she fired multiple shots, the muzzle of the crossbow would nudge upwards after every consecutive shot. She fired all three shots at once.
The three shots sailed through the air, the first one smacking the griffon in the neck. The griffon didn’t fly, but the second bullet caught up with him as the dart penetrated his eye and went straight through his brain before coming to a complete stop at the end of the griffon’s skull. The griffon crumpled and the second one craned his neck look at what was going on before the third dart ripped through his neck and went straight through. A throaty, muffled scream of pain could be heard, but it was lost in the sound of a bloody gurgle before the griffon collapsed. 3 down, 13 still standing.
Colgate and Night waited a couple of minutes, just in case a griffon or two might come out to investigate. Nothing happened. Night nodded and took the skies, providing cover from the air as Colgate made her way through the apple orchard to the side of the barn. Night landed on top of the barn, just shy of the dead griffon. The griffon sported a crossbow, albeit the regular ones used by sniper griffons. It had a bowstring and a trigger that Night could use. The griffon only had one magazine on his corpse, but Night took it anyway. He picked up the crossbow and flew back down to Colgate.
Colgate whispered, “The rest are either in the barn, or somewhere else for the time being. Let’s just hope that there aren’t that many griffons in the barn.” Colgate kept her crossbow and took her shotgun out. “I might need this.” Night gave Colgate the griffon’s crossbow and magazine and she kept it as well.
Night whispered two words to remind Colgate that the griffons might not be the only creatures inside the barn. “Collateral damage.”
Colgate rounded the corner and peeked in through one of the windows and came to face-to-face with a griffon, who was peeking out of the window. Before the griffon could react, Colgate lifted the shotgun and emptied a round into his face. Blood sprayed out in all directions as the griffon fell back. Behind the griffon, a couple more stared in disbelief before raising their guns. Colgate ducked in time to avoid a barrage of bullets. She levitated the muzzle of her shotgun to the window again and fired two shots blindly. The bullet barrage continued. She turned her head and signalled Night to go on. The sounds of guns discharging were echoing inside the barn.
Night crawled slowly past Colgate, approaching the closed barn doors. Night had to step over the a sentry’s dead body before he could get to the doors. Colgate fired another couple of rounds before lowering her shotgun. She reloaded as the bullet storm ceased. Night took this as his chance and bucked the doors open. The doors exploded inward with a shower of splinters as Night’s rearhooves retracted from bucking. The doors crashed onto the floor as he flew past the dust clouds.
The griffons that were suppressing Colgate halted their fire and trained their weapons onto Night. They fired a storm of bullets, a large majority of their bullets impacting the roof as Night avoided the rounds. He hid behind a support beam, hearing the bullets impact the beam. The bullets ceased, and Night took this opportunity to strike. He knew that since the griffons were armed, he couldn’t aim and fire. He had to keep moving. He took his combat knife out and flew out from behind his hiding spot. He swerved around, even though the griffons hadn’t started firing yet.
The first griffon was replacing his gun with a pistol glove when the blade of Night’s combat knife ran across his throat, cutting through his feathers, skin and carotid artery. The griffon clutched at his throat as blood spurted out as the second griffon raised his gun and started firing. Night jumped back as the bullets embedded themselves into the wooden floorboards. Night took off into the air as the griffon put his pistol glove on and gave chase. Night flew past the door frames that once held the barn doors as the griffon chased behind him.
Night flew around to avoid trees as he tried to lose his dogfight opponent among the trees. He thought of flying back to the barn, hoping that maybe Colgate could get an accurate shot on the griffon when he suddenly realized his mistake. He was flying toward the Apple family’s residence, and right there were four griffons outside the house and the Apple family huddled up on the first floor in a room. The Apple family seemed to be restrained. In the room were a couple of griffons Night took to be interrogating the Apples. He flew skyward, hoping that the griffons in front would not notice him, and at the same time hoping to make a loop-de-loop and chase his pursuer from behind.
He curved in the air, making a full three hundred sixty degree turn which put him behind his pursuer. The griffon was banking left to try and lose Night, but Night knew that he didn’t have that chance. Night banked left right after the griffon and flapped his wings to their limit and was 3 metres behind the griffon within five seconds. He still had the combat knife in his mouth, but a midair execution using a combat knife would be close to impossible. But if Night used his mobile firing device, things would get complicated as the griffons at the Apple family residence would hear the sound of weapons discharging.
The two had been banking left for a short moment before the griffon decided to fly straight. They were flying back to the barn, and away from the Apple family residence. From that point on, Night didn’t hesitate. The grip and trigger for his mobile firing device was flapping in the wind due to all the air blasting him as he maintained his flight behind the griffon. And the the griffon stopped and turned around.
Night barely had time to avoid his fist as it swung through the air, narrowly avoiding a bullet through his head as the pistol glove went through the position his head was in a second ago. He swung his rearhoof upward, impacting the griffon’s lower jaw. The griffon’s head arched upwards, opening up a section of the griffon that Night knew would end the chase. With the griffon’s neck exposed, Night plunged the blade into the dazed griffon’s neck, not even bothering to just slit his throat. The blood sprayed across his face. He withdrew the blade before plunging it again as the pain started registering into the griffon. The griffon swung his fist blindly as he tried to halt any further penetration with his other claw even though he knew that the damage was done. The griffon missed.
Instead he swung his fist in the similar style of a hook which missed again and impacted his own right wing. Night withdrew the knife and kicked off the griffon as the griffon struggled to keep aloft. Night flew back to the barn, glad that he didn’t need to waste any of his darts. As he flew, he heard the sound of the griffon landing on top of a tree with a crunch. 6 down, another 9 to go.
Colgate was outside the barn, trying to break the lock on a cellar in front of the barn. There were sound coming from the cellar. She lit her horn and a ray shot out of her horn, breaking the lock. Immediately the doors swung open, narrowly hitting Colgate as an earth pony with a long goldenrod mane and a brown coat emerged, hugging Colgate as if thanking her for getting her out. As she released her grip, a few more ponies emerged from the cellar, all members of the Apple family. She looked up to see Night overlooking her and the cellar, a smile on his bloody face. He landed next to Colgate and asked Colgate to keep moving before Colgate could ask about the blood all over his face.
Night kept the combat knife under his wing.
“It would be best not to ask about the blood all over my face. I ran into a complication and was lucky enough to have the griffon lead me back to the barn.”
“And why be that?”
“Because if I used my mobile firing device, the sounds of the firing would attract more attention, and the rest of the Apple family are in the houses. We should keep moving.”
Colgate nodded and trotted after Night as he ran. Night was laughing as he ran.
“What’s so funny?” Colgate asked between pants as they ran.
“We never used our transmitters yet.”
Colgate would have facehoofed had she not been running after Night. They slowed down as they got closer to the target location. Colgate took out her crossbow again and took cover behind a tree. Night pointed out where the two griffons were in the room that had the Apple family. Colgate repeated the same thing she had earlier, but was careful not to make sure the other griffons outside the house didn’t notice. The glass window would definitely attract attention, but there was nothing else Colgate could do. Night hid behind a tree, his mobile firing device at the ready. The moment Colgate fired a burst shot of four darts that shattered the glass window, Night charged at the griffons outside the house.
The griffons weren’t expecting the ambush. Night pulled on the trigger until he felt no more darts exiting from both of the muzzles on the base of his wings. The four griffons had no chance to scramble before the darts rained all over them. The four were riddled with holes even before either of them could raise a single weapon. With twelve dead griffons, Night started to tense up. The last three were going to be difficult to handle.
Colgate stayed in place and kept her aim on the window should there be any other griffon wanting to end the lives of the Apple family. Night picked up a crossbow from the claws of a dead griffon and broke through the front door of the Apple family’s house. He strode into the living room, which was dark.
A griffon rushed down the stairs, a crossbow in his claws.. Night fired a bolt into the torso of the griffon. The griffon staggered back a few steps before Night went up and smashed the crossbow into his face. The griffon crumpled. Night took an extra precaution and fired another bolt into the griffon’s skull. Night turned the lights on, illuminating the living room. The living room was bare of any life. Night snuck up the stairs, hooves at the side of the steps as he didn’t want the boards to creak under his weight.
On the second floor landing, Night could see a room off to his left that had sunlight pouring through. He assumed it was the room in which the Apple family was in. The second floor landing had three rooms. Night knew which one had the Apple family in, so he chose the other two doors. He bucked a door down and leapt inside, but the room was empty. It was one of those rooms that used to be used for storing furniture and other stuff.
A couple of bolts sailed past the top of his head as he turned around. The last two griffons emptied their magazines as they fired bolts all across the room, hoping to injure Night at the very least. And that they did.
Night howled in pain as a bolt went through his left wing, narrowly damaging his mobile firing device. He fired a bolt from his crossbow into the head of the first griffon and flung the crossbow at the second griffon. The first griffon fell easily, but Night was more focused on the second griffon. He was trying to swing his crossbow into Night’s head. Night moved his head back and swung a hoof at the griffon. The griffon avoided the blow easily and swung the crossbow one more time. The crossbow smashed into a wall as Night once more avoided the crossbow. Night wanted to end this quick. He leapt forward and grabbed the griffon by his head and slammed it into the wooden wall. Night didn’t stop there. He slammed the griffon’s head into the wall four times before letting the griffon fall. Even after the griffon had died from the head trauma, Night wanted to make sure the griffon really was dead. He raised his forehooves for the second time that day, and stomped down on the griffon’s head.
With the fifteen griffons neutralized, Night went out into the second floor landing hallway. The other room had its door open, but it was empty. Night assumed it was the room the other two griffons were hiding in. Night grunted in pain as he felt the bolt wound in his wing burn. He stepped through the door and was his eyes stung from the sunlight, albeit not as much as his eyes had stung earlier.
The eyes of Applejack, her brother Big Macintosh, her little sister Applebloom and their cousin Apple Fritters widened as Night took his bloody combat knife. They had their mouths taped and their hooves were bound with rope. The blood had dried, and the little part left of the knife that wasn’t coated in blood glinted in the sunlight. He looked out the window. Colgate got up and waved at him. Night waved back.
Then he started to undo cut through the ropes with his combat knife. Colgate looked on from the outside as she smiled to herself. He’s done pretty well for a first-timer. She used her transmitter to relay a message over to the resistance base before turning around to head back to the barn, shotgun still levitated in case there were more griffons.
Author's note : This chapter was a bit rushed. By far the longest I've ever wrote in a fic though. I'd appreciate a little feedback on this chapter because I think I left out a few important parts.