Twilight was not happy. She mentally hit herself for forgetting that ponies. Could. Not. Use. Human. EQUIPMENT.
Sighing, she looked up. And blanked out for a moment. The first thing she saw was how... BIG they were. A human was a little less than twice the size of a regular pony but still considered gargantuan by their standards, and there were some tanks that were twice the size of a human! There were enough to beat the enemy to their borders and past it.
But then she looked closer. They were all destroyed. Not one even looked vaguely usable. The worst was an unidentifiable lump of slag. The best was a 70 year old tank that might run.
"What in the hay is this?" Applejack said, still gawking at their sheer size.
"This... This is the "Help" they send us?" Rainbow Dash's spirits fell, "Some help..." she muttered as she flew away to see what else the human had sent them.
"We should be grateful that he even listened to us. At least-EEP!" Fluttershy squeaked as Princess Luna fell on her, too exhausted to stand.
After helping the guards getting the princess off of Fluttershy and into a tent, the six mares made their way through the empty hulls.
Tom blinked the sleep out of his eyes. Realizing that the sky was brighter than when he had gone to sleep, he concluded in panic that a whole night had passed. He shot up in fear of a severe reprimanding from his superiors.
Looking around, his eyes saw not sand and plateaus, but the most beautiful rolling hills in the background with the greenest forest he had ever laid his eyes upon to his left. Tom slowly stepped off of his dozer. He stared, his eyes blank as he tried to make sense of his current location.
Two magenta eyes followed the human as he surveyed his surroundings. The cyan blur silently flew above him, camouflaged against the similarly colored sky.
Tom looked towards the source of the voice. The pegasus dived and stopped mere inches from his face.
"What's your problem huh? You promised us help! Not junk! You've got some nerve showing up here!"
He stared with confusion at the winged pony. She continued.
"Do you know that you just doomed our country? We have a war going on and you decide that it's a good idea to give us fake hope! Just how in the hay are you a general?"
"I'd like to be a general." Tom said.
Rainbow face showed surprise as she paused comically in an angered pose, "...You aren't a general?"
"You aren't the one who sent all of... this?" she motioned towards the scrapyard.
"No. But I do work for him."
"Oh... Heh, sorry." she sheepishly grinned and rubbed her foreleg unconsciously, "But then why are you here?"
"I must've gotten sucked in with whatever brought these wrecks here." Rainbow showed a look of disbelief, it was then his turn to rub his head in embarrassment, "And I may have napped on the job."
At this, she laughed, "It's okay, I do it all the time. Oh! By the way, name's Rainbow Dash. You know, fastest pegasus, Sonic Rainboom, all that." she said in a tone as if they were trivial.
"Tom. Dozer driver. Been around for a couple years, built a few bases during the war against the GLA, currently working under Ironside."
They bumped fists/hooves.
"You know, you're not half bad."
"I can't believe he would do such a thing! The princess won't be able to use this spell again for a while. Ooh, Princess Celestia's not going to be happy about this..." Twilight walked slowly past a still smoking Overlord, deep in her thoughts.
Pinkie had somehow gotten herself into a Marauder tank, and was currently messing around with the controls. She found what looked like to be a bent pipe coming from above. Looking inside, she discovered that a periscope hung from the ceiling. Waving to her friends through the scope, she yelled, "HEY EVERYPONY! TWILIGHT! I CAN SEE YOU! TWILIGHT? Applejack?" As she brought her hoof down in disappointment, she didn't notice the red lever being nudged.
The five mares jumped. None of them had heard such a loud noise. Rainbow's Sonic Rainboom was the closest they had heard, and even then only from a distance. Fluttershy didn't move, stunned by the loud crack of the gun. Applejack slowly reached for her hat that had been blown off by the blast.
"Heh heh heh. Sorry everypony!" Pinkie said nervously as she emerged from the hatch. "Nopony hurt?"
Twilight suddenly let out a breath she had been unconsciously holding, "Pinkie. Do. Not. Do. That."
"Everypony okay?" called out Rainbow Dash as she glided down.
"We're all fine an' dandy Rainbow" Applejack assured while adjusting her hat, still a bit shaken, "Just a lil' bump in the road that's all."
"Oh good. By the way, there's a human... I think that's what he's called... here!" the pegasus said.
"A human...?" Twilight muttered, wondering if maybe..."You mean the general?"
"Naw, but he says he could still help us."
Twilight looked around, "So where is he?"
"Right there." Rainbow said, pointing her hoof towards a pile about two tanks high.
As they all stared, they could feel a slight rumbling in the ground. Then a loud grinding sound as the tank that rested upside down on the top of the pile rolled off and a grey and blue bulldozer emerged from the other side. As the dozer slowed to a halt, the door to the cab opened.
Luna stirred, blinking in the bright afternoon sun that shone through the flaps of the tent that had been hastily erected for her. She felt as if she had run a marathon while dragging the royal carriage with broken wheels while her sister sat inside. Celestia and her cakes...
"Is your Majesty feeling feeling well?" the guard quietly asked.
Coughing, she replied, "I am fine. What of the equipment sent to us?"
The guard was nervously silent, "Well..."
The princess looked out of the tent. Immediately outside was the other guard, his dark armor and bat wings indicating his place as a lunar guard. Past him was a campfire with the Elements and a human talking about his time under Ironside. Past them was something that resembled a scrap yard.
As she made her way out of the tent and towards the group, she could hear the new human telling stories of his world.
"Uh huh... And then?" Twilight was as usual, busy writing everything down about this new arrival.
"Well, then Ironside decided it was a good time to charge the enemy base." Tom said, reminiscing about an event a few years previously. "Man, you should've seen it! Bastards couldn't even rally their troops."
"Wait." Rainbow said suddenly, "If you drive a dozer, and you were back at the base, how did you see it happening?"
"Well I was done building, so I took a three hour lunch break and watched the live feed coming from the UAV." The ponies all looked confused at this.
"How can ya see something that's far away?" Applejack asked slowly.
"Hm... technology." Tom replied simply.
Applejack put on a unamused face, "That's yer answer for everything we ask huh?"
"It'll probably take too much time to explain. I could show you all later." Tom said.
Luna walked slowly towards the group, "Hello everypony, I hope I did not miss much."
"Ah princess! Did you sleep well?" Twilight said as she walked towards the lunar princess in concern.
"Yes I did, thank you." Luna replied, "And I see that we have a guest." gesturing towards the only human present.
"Yup! Princess, this is Tom. Tom, this is Princess Luna, one of the rulers of Equestria." Twilight said as she introduced the two.
Tom nodded and saluted, "Princess."
As Luna sat down she asked in a more suspicious voice, "Why are there rusting war machines instead of the equipment we were promised?"
Tom shrugged, "I think Ironside took your request as a prank. These wrecks look very similar to the ones our boys were blowing up."
"A prank." The princess was looking veeeery similar to an IED he once found on the side of a road.
"Yep. We used to do some pretty elaborate pranks to him. Sure we might get a court martial or doody duty for a week, but usually he took it well." Tom joked. He resumed in a slightly quieter voice, "Seriously though, sorry if it cost you your country."
It suddenly turned quiet as his words soaked in. Luna calmed down, knowing that he wasn't to blame.
"So you're going to help us?" Twilight asked finally, breaking the silence.
Tom looked around, "Well I don't know...Do you see anyone else that can?"
"Very funny. What can you do?"
"I can build military buildings. Barracks, War Factories, and if you have the money, super weapons."
"What do you mean, if we have money?" the princess asked, fearful that this strange creature, also their only hope, was no more than a mercenary.
"Do you see that thing?" Tom pointed to his dozer, "That thing runs on money. I'm not actually sure how it does that, or where the materials come from, but if you have the money you could have a base up in a week or so."
"Excuse me for a moment," Rarity cut in, "But don't we use different kinds of currency? I mean we use bits and you use... well whatever you use."
"Yeah..." Tom thought for a moment. Would it even work? His face lit up as he realized that it would work. "But it should work. I mean we have oil derricks that pump out pure cash instead of, you know, oil. None of our vehicles seem to use any fuel, and supply crates only have money in them. Not food, not even ammunition. Just cash. So if it's worth something, it should be good. Come to think of it, I don't think we ever ran out of ammunition while in a fight either..."
"Unfortunately, our treasury is dangerously close to empty. All available funds are used towards keeping the ponies alive, and we are barely managing that..." Luna said with a sigh, their last chance at fighting gone.
"Well I have enough stored for a barracks and some soldiers. But we need more if you want even a chance at fighting back."
"Very well. Let us return to camp. Leave your... dozer here. It is too wide for the forest." she stood up, defeated. The rest of the group followed, their heads down in disappointment.
As they walked back, Tom asked, "Can any... pony fill me in on this war?"
"The war started when a combined force of griffons and dragons attacked small towns on the northern borders. Vanhoover and Trottinghom were the first. In fact, we would not have even heard of this had a wounded pegasus escaped and spread the news. When each town was empty, the diamond dogs-"
"Hold on." Tom interrupted, "Diamond dogs? Seriously?"
Luna sighed, "Yes Tom, they dig for gems in elaborate underground tunnels. Now may I please continue?"
"Ah. Right. Sorry."
"-the diamond dogs moved in to keep them. By the time we had heard of this event, they had entrenched themselves into those towns. The Royal Guard was sent to retake what they have conquered, but the invaders proved to be too numerous and coordinated for a few dozen guards to defeat. A few days later they made a bold move into Stalliongrad. The constant bombardment of rocks and the dogs digging under the defenses eventually toppled the city walls. It was then that my sister issued an evacuation of all populated areas. They were to meet at Canterlot, our capital, or here in the Everfree Forest. Most made it to Canterlot. While this was going on, all of the major cites fell. The camp here is now home to a few hundred ponies. All are hungry and cold, and I don't know how much longer we can take."
"Ah. So I'm guessing that asking for our assistance was a last resort."
"Yes. But with the way that turned out..." Luna quietly muttered, "No offense."
"It's all good." Tom assured her.
Luna smiled for the first time in a long time, "Thank you for helping us. Or at least promising to."
"Thank me when I actually accomplished something."
"Very well." she said. The group finally reached the camp, "And here is our humble home."
The camp was fairly large mass of crudely erected tents and some lean-to's tied to trees. In fact, it looked like a hobo's family reunion hosted on the underside of an urban bridge. That said, it was actually very organized. Supplies go here, waste goes here, sleep here, etc. By the looks of the well beaten paths, this camp seemed to have existed for some time.
Tom's arrival did not go unnoticed. Ponies came out of their tents to have a peek at this new creature. Eventually a crowd formed around him. Then one colt broke the silence.
"Are you the hyooman that the princess was talking about?" He said in a quiet voice.
"Apparently I am." Tom replied.
Then the dam broke, and all of the ponies started talking.
"What are you going to do?"
"Those dogs took...took my husband!"
"Has anypony seen my filly?"
"Did the dogs take her too?"
One orange stallion with a megaphone mark seemed to understand the flow of emotions. His words took the stage.
"Let's beat their flanks out of our country!"
At this the crowd roared. They had an ally, an objective, and the will to do it. What could stop them now?
The rallying continued into the night, and Tom sneaked out.
"Should we tell them now?"
"It would be too harsh."
"It's going to be worse if they find out they've been following a lost cause."
"What do we do... What do you think Tom?...Tom?"
Tom was staring off into space. When Rainbow Dash waved a hoof in front of his face, he slowly brought his head up and said only one word, "Astana."
Twilight asked in a confused tone, "What's Astana?"
"Before that, the dogs."
"What about them?"
"They dig mines and usually have gems in their possession right?"
"Yes..." Twilight replied, unsure of where this was going.
"Good... Good... Anyways Astana is the capital of Kazakhstan. A few years ago the GLA started riots and mobs to try and raid the city to fund their war efforts."
"NO!" Twilight yelled, seeing where this had went, "We will not raid and pillage like... like... pirates! Princess please we can't-"
Luna held up a hoof to stop the mare, "We cannot do much else. And should we do so, Twilight you know this, it would be completely allowed under terms of war. And if anything, we can free the captured ponies that are most likely being worked to death."
Twilight stopped. She had forgotten about the prisoners in her haste to stop the raid, "Prisoners..."
Tom suddenly opened his pack. Inside were the plans both issued and salvaged, and a manual not only for his dozer, but for the buildings he could build. As Twilight took a look as she was immediately entranced by the various blueprints, instructions, and information that she had never seen before.
Minutes passed as Tom looked into a book that he had not opened for years. Rainbow Dash had grown bored within the first minute and was currently playing with a stick. Applejack was trying to sleep, and the rest were talking, trying to keep from being bored.
"I have good news, and I have bad news." Tom said suddenly looking up, "which one does everyone want first?"
"The bad news then." Luna sighed and braced herself for more disappointment.
"The bad news is we won't have enough soldiers."
"We know that. What's the good?" Rainbow said as she waved a stick around.
"The good news is that we can get equipment. Guns, rations, explosives, whatever. Turns out that most of the money goes towards the soldier's training and insurance. What that means for us is that equipment is cheap. We can get some soldiers to lead the ponies while we arm them!" Tom explained, satisfied with his logic.
"Well..." Luna pondered for a moment. Then she nodded and determination came to her eyes. "I shall contact Celestia about this plan." she suddenly yawned, "Time to rest everypony. We shall talk more in the morning."
After bidding their princess good night, the mares went towards their designated spot in the camp. Tom followed and waited until each had settled in. Finding an empty spot, he used his pack as a makeshift pillow.
He was asleep in an instant.