A Pony Displaced: Another Path

by NoLongerSober


Through the Eyes of a Child [Bonus Chapter 2]

In a cozy little tent, a small filly was awakened by the sounds of her mother rising up beside her. This filly, Wind Whistler, awoke with a slight yawn. “Good morrow, Mother.”

“Oh,” the mare glanced down at her child. Golden rays from the morning sunshine filtered through the linen canvas walls and spilled through the entrance, illuminating her smiling features. “My apologies, dear Wind Whistler. ‘Twas not my intention to wake thee this early.” After giving her child a brief nuzzle, the mare stretched out her legs and wings.

“I do not mind, Mother,” Wind Whistler cheerfully replied. “Shalt we see if the cadets have awakened?” she asked before gleefully hopping onto her mother’s back.

“They should already have awakened if they are worthy of their ranks.” The two then climbed out of their small tent, bringing them into a wide snowy field sparkling in the light of Celestia’s dawn. Close to their tent was the remains of the previous night’s campfire and a small igloo. “Cadets, report!”

At the shout, five ponies quickly rushed out before falling into a line. Their frozen breaths were visible in the crisp air as they sounded out, “Squad 982, reporting for duty, ma’am!” The five then followed up their unified response with a salute.

“At ease, cadets.” The mare gave the small group a quick visual inspection, checking to spot if even the tiniest misplaced hair crossed her eyes. She then stood in front of the squad pony in the middle and sharply looked her in the eyes. “Cadet Swiftsword, dost thou believe thy squad will need to hunt for food before we attempt departure?”

“Nay, Sergeant Fleetfeather!” the unicorn mare responded, throwing out another salute. “Our hunt the previous night was most bountiful. We shall be able to depart shortly.”

At this, Fleetfeather gave a simple nod. “Proceed. I shall disassemble my tent whilst thy squad prepares.” Turning away from the saluting squad, Fleetfeather then faced the filly on her back. “Now, wouldst thou like some bread before we depart, Wind Whistler?” In response, the filly quickly snapped her head back and forth.

“Nay, mother. I am strong. I can handle one morn without food. Also, I recall thou mentioning the Crystal Empire should only be a few hours’ walk from here.”

“Indeed, my dear.” Fleetfeather extended to allow Wind Whistler to slide down into the snow. “Thy memory serves thee well. Now, I ask that thou supervises the cadets whilst I disassemble our tent.”

“I shall, Mother!” she happily responded before giving a small hop and a salute. Fleetfeather simply let out a merry chortle as she went to work on the tent, leaving Wind Whistler to watch as a blue unicorn stallion and a white earth pony mare brought down the igloo with a combination of hoof strikes and magically conjured flames, while the remaining unicorn mare, pegasus stallion and earth pony stallion were burying the remains of their campfire in snow. Several uneventful moments passed as the adults worked before Fleetfeather called out, now carrying her saddlebags and a long sword.

“Come, cadets! If we move swiftly, we should hopefully arrive in the Crystal Empire before noon. Onwards!” At that command, Wind Whistler quickly scampered onto her mother’s back once more while the cadets fell into line and followed behind their sergeant.

***

The seven ponies journeyed on through the wind and snow, trotting forward for the taste of victory and relief from their trek. After the six previous days of walking from Canterlot, the young cadets desperately prayed this seventh day would be the final leg of their long journey. Eventually, the party grew joyous as they gazed upon a sight in the distance: the towering and beautiful spires of the Crystal Empire.

After more trekking forth, the band came to a point that was the clear border of the grand empire, where the snow suddenly stopped. As they approached this line, a group of ponies in turquoise armor came up to the border’s edge.

“Halt!” one of the armored ponies shouted boisterously, “Identify thyselves!”

Fleetfeather turned to the filly she carried, signalling her to jump off. With the filly’s graceful dismount that ended with her getting a face full of snow, her mother stepped forward.

“I am Sergeant Fleetfeather of the Equestrian Royal Guard, of squad eighty-two, service number one-nine-three-seven-six. I have come to deliver these cadets so they may receive the final training they need to complete their long journey to become royal guards. I have also brought my youngest daughter too on this long journey, to stay with me in my assigned quarters.”

The armored guards nodded at her response before stepping aside. “Welcome to the Crystal Empire. Captain Pathway hast been expecting thee. We shall escort thy band to her.”

With a pleased smile, the troupe started to step forward. As they crossed the threshold of the empire’s boundaries, they felt themselves being bathed in a warmth one would find in a spring afternoon. As they walked, Wind Whistler couldn’t help but gape at the marvelous sights of the crystalline towers that dominated the grand city’s skyline, most noticeably the main spire of the Crystal Palace.

“My word… I’ve never seen such beauty,” the filly spoke aloud, nearly wandering off before a blue hoof guided her back towards the marching line.

“Thou shalt most likely have many an opportunity to see the sights of this land on many a greater detail when thy mother is off duty, young one,” Swiftsword spoke as she aided the joyous bundle.


After a few short minutes of travel, the group arrived in a small field, where a red pegasus mare with a chestnut brown mane in a bun, stood. They saw that her cutie mark was a silver arrowhead with a pair of golden wings. From the stern look she was giving, Wind Whistler could not help but gulp from nervousness.

“Wind Whistler,” her mother whispered as they grew closer, “Step away from the cadets. Their inspection shall soon begin.”

At the quiet command, the small filly quickly scampered, catching up much closer to her mother just as the red mare arrived. Fleetfeather and the cadets all turned to face her, quickly tossing up salutes. Wind Whistler mimicked them, fearing how the red mare would react.

“At ease, soldiers,” she called out as she quickly scanned the gathered soldiers, who lowered their raised forelegs. When her eyes fell upon Wind Whistler, still holding her salute, her stern expression quickly shifted into a smile. “Thou hast nothing to fear, little one. I only wish to ensure these recruits are ready to best serve Equestria and her allies.” At that, Wind Whistler’s hoof lowered as she let out a sigh of relief.

“Captain Pathway,” Fleetfeather spoke up, causing the red mare’s expression to return to her previous one, “I have brought squad nine-eight-two for the final leg of their training. I believe that they shall be ready to begin shortly.” She then passed the captain a small scroll.

“I shalt be the judge of that, Sergeant,” Pathway replied before opening the scroll and quickly pouring over its contents. “Ensign Speedy,” she called to an orange crystal unicorn, “Take this to Commander Chocolate Day.” As the unicorn darted off with the message, Pathway once again sized up the five waiting cadets. “What is thy opinion of them, Shoulder Spider?” she asked of seemingly nothing as she looked to her right shoulder. Wind Whistler and Fleetfeather both briefly looked to each other in confusion before Pathway scowled at her shoulder and resumed speaking once more. “I am not eating Cadet Range, he looks more useful than Hairy.”

Verdant nervously swallowed before Fleetfeather spoke up again, drawing the captain’s attention. “Captain, shall we prepare the cadets for their final training?”

“Nay, Sergeant Fleetfeather. All of ye have undertaken a long and difficult journey here. Ensign Locket shall guide them to the mess hall before they settle into the barracks. Come with me, I have some questions for thee. Feel free to bring thy child along.”

The trio headed off one way while the five cadets went another, guided by a pink crystal pegasus. Their journey soon brought them to into a spacious, decorated military office that held several model ships and books upon crystalline shelves. In the middle was a large wooden desk that Pathway took a seat behind while Fleetfeather sat in the chair in front.

“Wouldst thou or thy daughter like a drink?” The pegasus mare inquired as she brought out a piece of parchment and an inkwell.

“I thank thee for thy offer, but I do not require a drink,” Fleetfeather retorted, “Wind Whistler?”

“Oh?” the filly’s attention was drawn away from some of the deeply intricate and detailed models and towards the conversing adults. “Nay. I am fine.”

“Very well, now I have several things I would like to know about this squad thou and Captain Barrier have trained.” Pathway said before plucking a loose feather to use as a quill. As Fleetfeather was met with question after question that she dutifully answered, Wind Whistler let her eyes wander all around the room before finally setting her sights on the large window behind the captain. Quietly going behind the desk and mare, the small filly gazed out at the sights of the empire, from the large training fields, to the many sparkling towers that radiated the light down to the sun-drenched grounds in vibrant colours, and the equally glittering ponies that called this wondrous city home.

This palace looks even more magnificent than the Castle of Two Sisters.

“Wind Whistler, our business is done here,” Fleetfeather called out, snapping the filly from her thoughts.

“Mother, may we see about purchasing a memento now?” the excited child asked as she skipped towards her mother.

“Nay, Wind Whistler,” she replied firmly. “We have too many things to attend to today. Mayhaps tomorrow, we shall be able to browse the shops for a fitting memento.”

“Thank you, Mother,” she begrudgingly accepted, though at least she knew that what she longed for was hopefully a mere day away.

“Chin up, dear. Now we no longer have to survive off field rations and whatever the cadets could scavenge. The mess hall should offer something far more palatable,” Fleetfeather said as she lowered her back for her child to climb aboard.

“It hast greatly improved after our previous chef met a… rather unfortunate accident. Some will miss him, but I prefer to have any chef other than one that even the filthy griffins would call Der Scheißkopf,” Pathway said with a nod, leading the pair out, “I hope thy stay in the empire is a pleasant one. I believe that thy child will enjoy crystal berry juice.”

***

The next morning came sooner than Wind Whistler felt was possible as she was awakened by the morning sun shining in her eyes. As she blearily glanced around the room her mother and her were assigned to, she saw that the mare was occupied with securing her helmet to complete her armor.

“Good morrow, Wind Whistler,” Fleetfeather spoke before giving Wind Whistler a gentle nuzzle.

“Good morrow, Mother,” the child replied with a yawn, “Art thou preparing for something?”

“First, we shall see the cadets one last time before Captain Pathway gives them their final tests. Then we shall proceed to the mess halls for a hearty meal. Shall we see to the cadets together?”

“Yes, Mother!” Wind Whistler jolted up before hopping onto her mother’s back. She wished to see the five she had become so close to over the past week; to see them take their final steps to becoming defenders of Equestria, like her parents and dear uncle before them.

“Very well, let us go to the training field,” Fleetfeather said with a nod as they headed out. A short walk brought them to the field near the barracks, where several soldiers were lined up, including the Squad 982. Captain Pathway stood before them, next to two crystal ponies.

“Welcome, my ponies. Today, we shall see if all of you cadets are ready to enter the illustrious ranks of either the Equestrian Royal Guard or the Crystal Imperial Guard. Based on the reports of thy past efforts and skills, I believe thou shalt not disappoint me. Those who do will-” Pathway’s speech was suddenly drowned out by the sound of a large explosion ringing loudly across the grounds. All the ponies gathered turned towards the source of the sounds before seeing a large, flaming hole and billows of smoke coming from the Crystal Palace.

“Cadets!” Pathway shouted out as she darted forward, “Return to the barracks and await further orders! Chocolate Day, Perish, Fleetfeather, come with me!”

“Wind Whistler,” Fleetfeather grabbed her child from her back before setting her on the ground, “Stay with the cadets. I shall hopefully return shortly.”

“Aye, Mother,” the frightened filly squeaked out before she she darted off with the various cadets towards the barracks, being picked up by Swiftsword to carry her to safety more quickly. The gaggle of cadets went to the windows to monitor the situation while murmuring amongst themselves, wondering what was the cause of all this.

“There there,” Wind Whistler heard as Hat Trick gently patted her on the back, “I am certain that whatever’s the cause of this commotion, the guards will be able to swiftly vanquish it.”

The young filly gave a nervous swallow. “C-c-couldst this be the work of the griffins?” her question causing a new wave of murmurs to spread amongst the cadets.

“Nay, I sincerely doubt this,” a light-blue crystal pegasus spoke up, attempting to take charge of the situation, “The Crystal Empire has some of the world’s greatest scouts, and the Crystal Heart’s barrier wouldst keep the foul beasts out…”

“This brings a rather disturbing prospect to mind, Sweet Pop,” Swiftsword spoke aloud, approaching the pegasus.

“What dost thou mean, your ladyship?” she responded, her question drawing the eyes of all the cadets upon Swiftsword.

“Whatever this threat is, it somehow slipped by the barrier around the empire. This means one of three possibilities. Either someone found a weakness or blind spot in the empire’s defences, that someone or something managed to gain enough power to overwhelm the barrier,” the last part of her hypothesis caused a great deal of mutterings and objections by the crystal ponies present, arguing either the barrier’s strength or that if the barrier had been overwhelmed, the empire would be starting to freeze by now.

Swiftsword raised a hoof, causing silence to eventually fall over the room before she resumed speaking, “If what is happening now is not because of those possibilities, than that narrows things down to one other grim possibility…  that we have a traitor within the empire.”

More harsh mutterings spread through the room, the ponies shaken by the implication of what this all meant. Before somepony could attempt to restore order amongst the gathered guards-to-be, several loud explosions rang out and the ground around them rumbled. Several ponies dashed to the windows, seeing a strange mass that seemed to be a dark cloud-like entity in the sky near the palace, sending out magical volleys that were a strange combination of black, violet and green, blasting away chunks of buildings and ground wherever they struck.

As Wind Whistler looked on, she couldn’t draw attention away from the display before them, spotting several pegasi weaving around and trying dodge the magical strikes and retaliate at the thing before them. Is mother amongst those fighting that… that… thing? Wherever thou art, mother, please be safe… she worryingly thought as she thought she saw a pegasus being struck by one of the dark blasts.

“Incoming pegasus!” a pony with sharper eyes than her called out, spotting a winded pink crystal pegasus rapidly flying towards the barracks. The mare crossed the distance between the dark mass and the barracks in a matter of seconds, slamming the entrance open so hard it nearly broke its hinges. A cacophony rang out from the gathered cadets while the pegasus was gasping for breath. Once she could speak again, she shouted.

“Sombra hast gone mad!” the scream echoed out, silencing all those gathered, “He hast become a being of dark magic and shadows!”

“Ensign Locket,” a crystal cadet approached the winded pegasus, “What are we to do?”

“Before she was struck down, Captain Pathway gave her final order,” Locket spoke again, the cadets waiting on bated breath, “All of thee have been given emergency field commissions and promoted to privates. Thou art to scatter for now and attempt to regroup elsewhere. With Sombra our enemy now, no military installation will be safe. Quickly, flee from here and try to stay alive to fight another day! I shall attempt to send word to Canterlot, the princesses must be informed.” with that, Locket took to the skies, heading south as swiftly as her sore and sparkly wings could carry her.

With the entry way and their orders clear, the cadets started to flood their way out of the barracks, attempting to dodge some of the vollies of dark magic being launched every which way as they fled. Wind Whistler felt herself being grabbed and lifted up at a great speed. Looking behind her, she saw that the one who had grabbed her was Hat Trick.

“I will keep thou safe, Wind Whistler,” he said as he flew low to the ground, pumping his wings harder than he ever had before. As she was carried away, Wind Whistler looked up towards the aerial battle. Pegasi were trying to strike Sombra with lightning to no avail. She managed to see that her mother was among those trying to best the shadowy mass, but then her blood ran cold as a volley struck her mother in the head, sending her spiraling out of the sky.

“Mother, no!” the filly cried, screaming as Hat Trick weaved around panicking ponies and merchant stalls as he carried her into the city proper.

“I am most sorry, Wind Whistler,” he whispered as he climbed up to get a better view, “but we must remain strong and try to survive this,” he then felt his chest start to grow damp as the poor child buried her face into it and cried.

“I…” she quietly spoke between sniffles, “I will try… sir…” Faust… please don’t let my mother be dead… and please send Father, Uncle Barrier, and the princesses to save us… Wind Whistler felt Hat Trick slow down and come closer to the ground, finding an area that seemed to have been abandoned since the attack had begun. He quickly placed Wind Whistler down as he landed near a merchant’s stand that had been pressed against a building’s wall.

“Quickly, try to hide in there. I shall try to find something for additional cover,” he whispered to her before dashing off to find something. Wind Whistler nervously gulped as she was left to try to hide in the middle of was what once a safe haven, now a warzone.

Following Hat Trick’s orders, she quickly scampered into the stand, crouched down so she was hidden behind the stand’s counter, leaving her huddled next to some jars filled with what looked like beads in the shadows. Several moments passed before she heard the sounds of hoofsteps approaching her. Thankfully, the approaching pony turned out to be Hat Trick, who had brought a large board with him. He carefully placed the board on top of the counter to hide both of them from site, now leaving the only source of light being a small hole in the front of the stand. Several moments passed as the two sat there, cloaked in darkness and occasionally hearing the sounds of death and destruction around them.

“W-what shall we do now, Mr. Hat Trick?” Wind Whistler nervously inquired. Hat Trick let out a somewhat nervous and tired sigh.

“For now, it may be best to rest up and try to keep quiet. I believe we should head out after nightfall to try to find some of our comrades. Likely others will have found a safer place to camp than in a merchant's stand,” he whispered as he gave her a gentle pat on the head, “Until then, all we can do is wait.”

***

Wind Whistler awoke to Hat Trick nudging her. Groggily looking through the hole, she saw darkness and stars shimmering in the sky. I fell asleep? When didst that happen? The hours seem to blend together.

“Wind Whistler,” Hat Trick harshly whispered, “we must prepare to leave. Somepony approaches, and I know not if they be friend or foe.” Despite his best efforts to hide it, the young filly could hear the note of fear in the soldier’s voice.

“If...if they be foe?” she uttered with a nervous gulp.

“Then try to stay hidden in the shadows. I shall try to hold them off to the best of my ability,” he quietly spoke as he got into position to toss the board above them away, “On the count of three… Three!” he shouted as the board was shove aside, the two leaping into the open. Thankfully, the ones standing before them were a pair of crystal ponies and a blue unicorn, his horn alight with a fiery orange glow. Recognising their compatriot, the pair rushed over and gave him a warm embrace. “Oh, thank Zacherle. ‘Tis good to see a friendly face once more.”

“I am elated we hast found thee, my friend,” Iron Forge whispered as he returned the hug. Knowing time was of the essence, he quickly pulled back, “Come. We have established a makeshift base. We had best return quickly. There is no telling where Sombra could be.”

“Aye, my friend. Lead the way,” the pegasus stallion responded as the unicorn brought them to a pony hole cover. Shifting the cover aside, the group entered the sewer. With the cover replaced, the only light to the five came from Forge’s horn. Several moments passed as the group travelled through the darkness in silence before the tiniest voice amongst them spoke up.

“Mr. Iron Forge,” the blue pegasus spoke up, drawing the unicorn to a stop, “What hast happened to the others of thy squad?”

The stallion remained silent for a moment before taking a deep breath.

“Swiftsword is at our base, aiding Doctor Harvest in whatever way she can. Verdant went with another group of soldiers to try to find survivors just as we left,” he paused before turning to face Hat Trick, “Just before we left, Winter Gem came in, carrying Corporal Ironhide on her back.” This last statement brought a relieved sigh out of Hat Trick before a small smile graced his face.

“‘Tis good to hear that they have all survived… but… what of my mother?” Wind Whistler drew closer to Forge as they travelled through the dark tunnel. The stallion’s eyes briefly tried to shift away from her before he spoke.

“I am sorry, Wind Whistler, but we have not found Sergeant Fleetfeather yet. We will…” Forge was silenced by the sounds of several hurrying sets of hoofsteps ahead of them, followed by the clank of a pony hole cover being quickly pushed back into place.

“M-Mr. Forge…”

“I believe Verdant’s team hast either sustained an injury… or they found someone in need of medical attention. Quickly, move!” Forge whispered with a somewhat nervous and harsh edge before they scurried further down, coming to a halt by by ladder. “Wait here, I will scout ahead.” The cover moved away in a blazing glow as Forge ascended the rungs.

Quickly glancing around, he detected no signs of enemies and so climbed up to the street. He shot a hoof back down and wave at his compatriots to climb up. Hat Trick grabbed a hold of Wind Whistler’s sides before tossing her up into the air. Trying not to shout from the sudden movement, she soon found herself encompassed by the glow of Forge’s magic before she was placed on the ground in front of him. He then pointed to a set of nearby stairs heading downwards. “Make thy way down those stairs and wait for us by the door. We shall be with thee shortly.

“Right.” She tossed up a small salute before she dashed across the street.

Reaching the top of the stairs, she leapt and glided down to the door, recalling the lessons her parents had taught her about stealth. Within a few seconds, the other ponies were soon beside her. Forge then approached the door and gave three quick and quiet knocks.

“Majesty’s son,” he spoke aloud. A click came from the other side and the door opened, revealing a purple stallion who ushered them in. Once inside, Wind Whistler could see many a pony had filled up what looked like a wine cellar. As they came further in, they saw themselves being approached by two ponies; Winter Gem, who welcomed Hat Trick a strong embrace, and Verdant, who had a fair amount of blood on his back. Spotting his bloodied friend, Hat Trick broke the embrace and approached.

“Verdant, art thou harmed?” he asked as he, Forge and Wind Whistler approached him.

“Nay, Hat Trick. I am well,” he said before spotting Wind Whistler, then letting out a sigh, “The ponies I went were searching for other survivors when we found Sergeant Fleetfeather. She…” he brace himself before continuing, “Wind Whistler… she is rather hurt.” His words seemed to knock the wind out of the filly and bring tears to her eyes, “Doctor Harvest is doing what she can…”

“Please tell me my mother will live, Mr. Verdant…” she interrupted, “that is all I ask… please…”

Verdant bit his lower lip before waving a pegasus nurse over, motioning towards Wind Whistler. “I… I do not know, Wind Whistler. Thy mother is a very strong mare, but she took a magical blast to the face and fell from the sky. I am shocked she hast lived for this long.”

At this, the scared filly collapsed to her knees, crying out from sadness, fear, anger, and exhaustion. She felt several approach her and gently embrace her, but this was not enough to quell the scared child. Her eyes remained tightly shut until she felt a hoof gently tapping her muzzle.

“Please dear, thou must be brave and keep thy strength up. Please, drink this brew. Thou needs it greatly.” Opening her eyes, she saw the pegasus nurse from before, holding up a cup in front of her that had a strange yellow coloured liquid within. Doubting an Equestria doctor would harm her, she brought his lips and started to drink the brew down. She assumed this was likely some sort of medicine, judging by the foul taste. “Good child. Thou should feel the effects of the brew momentarily.”

“Praytell, what wa…” her question was cut off by her letting out a great yawn. Wind Whistler’s eyelids soon felt much heavier, “what was that brew? Was it some kind of medicine?” The nurse gave a somewhat sad nod.

“‘Twas a sleeping draught, dear. Please, get some rest. Hopefully, things will be better in the morning.”

“But, what of my mother?” Wind Whistler inquired as she felt herself start to lower to the floor and her eyelids coming down like lead weights.

“Dr. Harvest will do everything she can to help not only her, but all the other patients. After that…” Nurse Lifeline sighed sadly, “she will be in Faust’s hooves.”

“Mother…” Wind Whistler muttered before her eyes closed and the world to seemed to fade away around her.

***

When Wind Whistler felt wakefulness return to her, she felt that somepony was gently stroking her back. She did not open her eyes though, still tired and groggy from the potion.

“Wind Whistler, wake up,” a voice gently spoke. It sounded so close.

Was that voice a dream? Or was it really?

Wind Whistler’s eyes slowly opened, gasping at the sight before her. She was in a cot with a bruised, bloodied and bandaged blue mare before her that was stroking her back gently. Where her left eye would have been was instead a collection of bandages with a red spot in the center, contrasting with her pink mane. Even with all the clearly visible injuries upon her body, she still gave the filly a warm smile.

“Good morrow, my dear.”

“Mother!” she shouted out before giving Fleetfeather a joyful nuzzle, “You live!”

“Twas close for a while,” a voice behind Wind Whistler spoke out, drawing her eyes to a purple unicorn mare, “However, seems that the Elysium was not ready to receive thy mother quite yet. Save for her destroyed eye, I believe that the sergeant will make a recovery in a matter of weeks, provided she rest up.”

“I am certain my daughter greatly appreciates thy efforts, Dr. Black Harvest,” Fleetfeather spoke as she gave her filly another nuzzle.

“Where is everypony?” Wind Whistler inquired as she glanced around the room, only seeing a few other injured ponies in cots.

“Nearly all the able bodied soldiers all went to attempt to gather supplies and possibly mount some sort of counter attack. Some others are either watching the entrance or preparing some food for us in the kitchen above. If thou will excuse me, Nurse Lifeline and I must tend to our patients.” With that, Dr. Harvest went to tending to some of the others in the room, leaving the mother and daughter alone.

“I am sorry, Wind Whistler.” Fleetfeather drew her daughter’s attention back towards her, “I had not expected things to turn so horribly wrong. Had I expected this to go so horribly, I would have left thee to stay with thy father.”

“No need to apologize, Mother,” the filly gave her mother a happy nuzzle, “I am certain that help is on the way. The Princesses will be coming soon with Father, Uncle Barrier and an army of great warriors to battle Sombra!” Wind Whistler’s happy statement was met with a sad sigh from Fleetfeather.

“Darling, even if somepony managed to get out of the empire to warn Equestria, it will take seven days for them to reach Canterlot, and even longer for reinforcements to arrive.” The sergeant’s statement caused the filly to frown.

“Then what can we do, Mother?” she asked before she was brought into a gentle embrace.

“For now, we must do the only thing we can do under these circumstances, my dear. Survive.”

***

The days went by slowly for Wind Whistler, each day seeming to blur together to the young filly. Hope was starting to dwindle as each excursion into the empire lead to less soldiers either uninjured or alive. Now the injured Fleetfeather was the one commanding the uninjured ponies, which currently consisted of Dr. Black Harvest, Nurse Lifeline, Private Thunder Aegis and the five ponies that made up Squad 982. The remaining twenty-eight injured ponies did their best to try to hold onto life after their injuries, several of which included missing limbs.

Fleetfeather told Wind Whistler to stay away from the doctor that she and the others had started to refer to as The Ghoul. From what she could understand, she had used some sort of dark sorcery to save the injured ponies.

When will help finally arrive? she pondered from beside her mother’s cot. I am uncertain how much longer we can survive against Sombra… I miss thee, Father. I wish I never came here. I wish we could simply return home. The same filly rose up as she heard the entryway being opened. I pray that the empire will be safe enough to allow Swiftsword to sleep again. She hast not slept for days. Even an acting field commander from a noble house needs to rest.

“The Ghoul” then passed the thinking child, headed towards the entryway. Faust, please do not let any of our remaining soldiers fall. If we lose any more… her thoughts were disrupted as Fleetfeather rose from her cot, trying to head to meet with the other.

“I have rested for far too long,” she said and she tried to head forward, only to be stopped by Nurse Lifeline attempting to return her to the warn cot. “I must join my fellow guards.”

“Absolutely not!” the nurse retort, “thy injuries would leave thee an open target! Even a sickly griffin could pick thee off.” Lifeline tried to reason with her, only for the sergeant to give her a shove.

“Dammit, I said I’m fine!” she shouted before her daughter grabbed onto her hind leg to try to halt her.

“Mother, I beg of thee!” she cried out, her and the nurse struggling to stop her without harming her. “Thou art missing thy left eye and are very injured! Please, listen to Nurse Lifeline!”

“Listen to your nurse, Sergeant Fleetfeather,” a stallion’s voice called out, drawing the sergeant’s eye away from her struggle. A tired smile crossed her features as she limped towards the dark coated stallion.

“About time you got here,” she said before meeting him halfway, where he embraced her in a gentle hug. Wind Whistler could not agree with what her mother had said more. He pivoted Fleetfeather around so that she was now leaning against her as he tried to return her to the cot.

“Bedrest, Sergeant.” His tone indicated this was meant as an order.

“Oh for Faust’s sake, I’m fine!” she argued, but didn’t struggle as he returned her to the cot.


“Flash would have my hide if I’d let you do anything looking as rough as you do,” he said as he made sure she was comfortable as she could be in her cot. “What kind of damage does she have, Nu-”

Wind Whistler could not hold back her joy any longer at seeing him, launching herself directly at his face and giving him the strongest hug she could muster, sending him stumbling back.

Now I know everything will turn out for the best, now that Uncle Barrier’s here.