Castle of Friendship
Present time, 10 pm
The surrounding wilderness swayed and rustled lightly under Luna’s lambent moon. Animals scurried here and there, finding an ideal den to build. Late night dew lightly clung onto fall’s green and orange leaves from nearby trees. All was at peace within the wild. That is, until a low, rhythmic thumping began to shake the trees adjacent to the castle. These thumps were, in fact, being emitted from the refracting Castle of Friendship.
From within the castle, loud music shockwaved through the halls. Large groups of ponies dotted the castle’s enormous ballroom with the center being the dance floor. Much of Ponyville’s population jumped on the opportunity to further their welcome to the ones the party was for. Upon a balcony, the town’s best disc jockey DJ Pon3 was blasting EDM music at a high volume, emitting the ruckus as heard from the forest. Many ponies danced, some drank, some ate, but nopony was doing nothing.
The Mane 6 were in full attendance. Pinkie Pie, being the ringleader of the party, needed to attend to ensure the Achievement Hunters’ gained full merriment. Michael, Gavin, and Ray all grouped to the dance floor. They were joined by Rainbow, Rarity, and Pinkie. Although the Hunters weren't the best dancers, their mediocre movements were enough to pull even the shyest ponies off the wall and on the floor by the sight of raw fun. Ryan and Jack were in a corner playing darts with Applejack, Big Mac, and a crowd of ponies. Many ponies had taken a particular liking to Ryan since the other night. Lastly, Geoff spent his night nearest to the drink and food tables accompanied by Fluttershy and Twilight, who were all looking for a night as simple as it could get in their current setting.
“Isn't there food that isn't all sugar?” Geoff said in annoyance, holding a piece of cake on his fork. Twilight stifled a laugh.
“If a party doesn't have a potentially deadly amount of sweets, then it isn't a Pinkie party.” Twilight said, taking another small bite of cake. Geoff scoffed and lifted a small tankard to his lips. Once done with his third drink, he placed the tankard down with the other two tankards.
“Umm.. I don't want to be rude and uh.. tell you what to do,” Fluttershy spoke for the first time that night, “but, don't you think you've had.. enough?” Geoff only had the three tankards and the apple buckers from earlier. The tankards were smaller than they should be back on Earth, so the drinks hardly did anything to him.
“Trust me, Fluttershy,” Geoff said standing up, “I can handle way more than those little mugs.” Geoff sauntered back to the drinks table. He picked up another tankard and returned to the table. “And why don't you have one?” Geoff smirked at Fluttershy. The yellow winged pony only flushed and hid herself behind her hair. Geoff chuckled and took another drink. “I'm guessing you're a calm that hides a storm.”
“More like hiding a hurricane!” Rainbow yelled over the music from right behind Geoff. Fluttershy hid herself even more if she even could. Rainbow reached out with her hoof at Geoff’s drink. “Can I?” Geoff motioned his hand, allowing her permittance to have his drink. He felt content anyways. “Thanks, man. Dancing with your friends over there really works up a thirst.” Rainbow slowly drank the entire tankard in one go, then slammed it back onto the table. She then flew back to the dance floor to continue her merrymaking. Geoff leaned over the table towards Twilight to say something.
“So you said she's from a town that's in the sky?” Geoff thumbed in the direction Rainbow flew off to. Twilight stopped another piece of cake from entering her mouth.
“Indeed.” Twilight placed the cake back down onto the plate, “She and Fluttershy come from Cloudsdale.” Fluttershy began to reveal her face once more from behind her pink curtain. “They went to flight school together. That's how they met.” Geoff nodded his head slowly. He turned to Fluttershy, who was still a bit recluse behind her hair about the drinking. “Well, I'd like to go there sometime. Sounds interesting. It's not every day that you see a city of clouds.”
“And in your world,” Twilight asked, “there are no cities like Cloudsdale?” Geoff laughed.
“If you mean cities that fly, you'll be very disappointed to know that all of our cities are on the ground.” Twilight gave an inquisitive ‘hmm’ as she poked at her chin.
“Could you give us some examples of big cities where your from?”
“If you say so.” Geoff said beginning to think, “There's Austin, where my friends and I are from. New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Las Vegas, Miam-” Geoff was cut off by Twilight and Fluttershy snickering. He could see it, but couldn't hear it due to the music. “What's so funny?”
“Well,” Fluttershy said, “‘Las Vegas’ sounds like a funny name to give to a city. It's because we have a city called Las Pegasus and that sounds more normal than Las Vegas.” She continued to snicker.
“You're serious?” Geoff laughed, “Las fucking Pegasus. Now that's ridiculous. It sounds like a name my daughter would give to a make-belief town while playing with her toys. The closest humans got to naming something on Earth as a pun was the Isle of Man.”
“Okay, when you put it like that,” Twilight said, still snickering, “our worlds seem to have quite the differences yet somehow share similarities. Your Isle of Man is kind of like our Isle of Mare.”
The table continued thinking of cities and towns they believed to be amusing to each other. In the meantime, the party raged on. The ponies all seemed to gravitate to their new human friends. For another couple hours, ponies danced, talked, drank, and so on. Once the party had concluded, the ponies left almost en masse. Once gone, the Mane 6 and the Crew were all that remained. They all sat around the table Twilight, Fluttershy, and Geoff had been conversing at. Confetti, streamers, various sweets and drinks were strewn about the ballroom. Jack felt a little bit bad.
“I guess we should start cleaning up?” Jack said aloud.
“Yeah, good idea,” Ryan agreed, “Hey Twilight, where is your cleaning stuff?” Twilight opened her mouth to say something but was cut off by a blaring Pinkie Pie.
“Oh don't worry your pretty little heads about it,” Pinkie jumped to the middle of the ballroom. “I threw the party, so I clean the mess!” Pinkie brought out box from her curled locks and set it on the floor.
“Isn't this a lot to clean up for-” Jack said before Pinkie pressed a lone button on the top of the box. It flung open and a hose shot itself out. It began to pull in streamers, confetti, food, and pretty much everything else party related. It pulled things into its small opening that would be way too small for a normal hose. Once about five seconds of the hose’s cleaning, it receded back into the box and the box closed. The ballroom was as clean as it was when the decorating began. Pinkie wiped a bead of sweat from her forehead.
“Whew, that took longer than it should have.” She took the box and stuffed it back into her messy hair and hopped back to the table. The Crew, except Michael, were in awe at what they had just witnessed. The Mane 6 were amused to see newcomers be astounded by Pinkie's unorthodox methods. Ryan was the first to break their silence.
“Dude,” Michael said leaned on the back two legs of his chair and his feet on the table, “don't even ask.”
“I couldn't have said it better.” Twilight said, laughing with the other girls at the Crew’s still dumbfounded expressions.
“Where'd you get one of those, Pinkie?” Gavin said jokingly, “Think I need one o’ them for my desk.”
“Oh silly,” Pinkie said shaking her head, “I can't just tell you. What fun would that be?”
“Bollocks. That could have been helpful, eh Geoff?” Gavin said to his right where Geoff sat hunched over.
“Your desk?” Geoff began, “Fuck you, what about the rest of the building?”
“To be fair, the whole building is a shit show as it is so I think it'd suck up literally everything.” Michael said, putting emphasis into the final word of the sentence. The Crew laughed a bit at Michael's inside joke. At least, it was an inside one to the Mane 6 as they sat in silence while the men had their chuckles. Once the laughing subsided, Rainbow spoke next.
“Hey, what are we going to do in the meantime while the princesses look for that spell or whatever it is.”
“It’s a rune.” Twilight corrected, “And the library within the castle at Cantorlot is not exactly small. So for the time being, we just have to wait.”
“What if Sombra tries something?” Fluttershy said softly, “I mean, he was able to escape Tartarus without being seen. What if he looks for the elements?”
“If he does attack,” Twilight said with assurance in her voice to comfort the group, “I'm sure we're all more than ready to handle it. The rune can be put on hold, but Sombra cannot.” Geoff still feels frustration that him and the guys getting home is not the priority. Although, he always shoots down his own argument when he remembers that going home before they destroy the threat will not solve anything. Sombra will still go on to destroy everything because…?
“Twilight?” Geoff inquired, sitting up.
“Yes, Geoff?” Twilight responded.
“What’s his deal anyways?”
“Sombra?” Geoff nodded. The rest of the Crew were immediately drawn to the question as they hadn’t even considered Sombra’s intentions. “Well, it's quite a tale really. Before my and all current mortals of Equestria’s births, Sombra ruled the Crystal Empire. According to historic texts and personal accounts of Celestia and Luna themselves, he was actually an excellent ruler. He cared for his subjects first and himself last, something Celestia and Luna didn't understand at the time. He would eliminate large scale problems while in front of his troops, not from behind them. Cadence, being born near the end of his natural life, would succeed his position of royalty. Sombra, although, believed otherwise and pleaded for the Royal Sisters to give him time to find a way for him to hold his rightful position.
“So he set out looking for magical means of extending his life and, in his mind, immortality. In his search over three decades, he had found what he was looking for. He had gained immortality from a sentient, magical force from what he called a ‘fountain of youth.’ This fountain had been an incredibly dark force that couldn't be contained any further. Sombra bargained with the entity, trading his own body as a vessel for it while regaining his youth forever. Returning to the Crystal Empire, he was shunned by its people for using such dark means to extend his life. The Sisters attempted to subdue him, but hatred for them had already took hold of his heart. He lashed out and nearly killed them both. Before re-usurping his place as King, Cadence stepped forth to stop him.
“Using the Crystal Heart, she had removed as much strength from him as the heart could contain. Surprised by his survival, Cadence banished him to the Frozen North, never to return. From this act, Cadence was transformed into the alicorn we see today.”
The Crew remained silent. Evil had corrupted such a pure mind and heart. They began to wonder if that same loving king still resided within. Again, they only thought of home. Their families and friends’ faces passed through their heads one by one. Seeing innocence in each face only encouraged them to destroy such a threat by any means necessary. If they cannot stop Sombra, then they are unsure if anyone else will.
“Oooh,” Pinkie cooed with popcorn in between her hooves, “I always love that story! It's so sad, but it's always a hoot to hear Twilight tell one of those old stories!”
“I mean, the story could use more action, maybe?” Rainbow groaned in boredom.
“Yes, darling. The story seemed fairly umm… bleak?” Rarity winced on the last word of her sentence.
“It's not a story!” Twilight announced, frustrated, “It was a historical event that we're now paying for.”
“But wait,” Michael interrupted, “you said you banished him to Tartarus before, right?” The Mane 6 nodded in near unison. “Well I'm pretty sure you all sent him there ‘cause he was that big of a problem, right?” All but Twilight nodded agreed out loud again as she began thinking about the whole ordeal. Then she lightly gasped at understanding. Michael smirked, knowing she would understand first.
“He's not as weak as we thought!” Twilight began to worry. “And if Tartarus couldn't hold him, then he may be more of a problem than when we initially dealt with his schemes.”
“Well then we just gotta not underestimate him.” Ray spoke up. “Have the guards and nobles of the other cities to report to you or Celestia if shit goes down.”
“Hmm,” Twilight pondered, “I'll have to discuss this with the princesses in person. Until we know Sombra’s plan for sure, we need to keep all of this talk between each other and in private only. We don't need to scare anypony. Not only will it cause panic, but Sombra may capitalize. Understood, everypony?”
The Mane 6 and the Crew all conversed in agreement. Applejack was the first to take leave as her farm would need tending in the morning. The rest of the ponies dispersed to their own homes and Twilight to her room. With the party long over and the ballroom dead silent the Crew were all that remained. None of them felt fatigued or sleepy in any way. Geoff felt the nape of his neck begin to tighten. To relieve it from the heavy lack of noise, he spoke to his friends.
“Hey, guys.” They all looked in his direction, “Let’s not worry about all that. If all we do is worry and be scared, we won't be able to help when it's needed.” The Crew remained silent for several seconds. The pain continued to grow on Geoff’s neck and he was about ready to get up and leave to his room to, hopefully, sleep off all that they had talked about. Also to sleep on what Applejack had said to him earlier. She gave Geoff some much needed assurance. Then Ryan chuckled, followed by laughter.
“Wot’s so funny, Ryan?” Gavin said, his solemn visage giving way to a smile due to Ryan's contagious laughter. His laughter began to die down.
“Did you guys see when the big, red, guy pony?” Ryan snapped his fingers in Michael’s direction, “What’s his name? Big something?” Gavin giggled to himself childishly.
“The only one with a Big Somethin here is yours truly.” Gavin said standing up and gesturing to his crotch. Jack scanned Gavin from head to toe quickly with his eyes.
“A big nose, yeah.” Jack confirmed. They all laughed until Michael was able to control himself enough to answer.
“Big Macintosh is his name, Ryan.” Michael rubbed the light tears that were forming in his eyes from the laughter.
“Yeah, Big Mac, or whatever.” Ryan acknowledged, letting his own laughter die down.
“Bet Jack could go for ten ‘o them right about now.” A pouting, but grinning, Gavin said sitting down again.
“So he threw one of the darts at the dart board.” Ryan continued his story, “But I guess he was so totalled from the drinks that he was seeing two dart boards or some shit. When he threw it, the fucking thing nailed some other pony in the ass. They started yelling and screaming.” The Crew rose back into giggles at Ryan’s reenactment of the story, but he put a finger up. “That's not the funny part. Jack knows what I'm talking about. It's when he said ‘Did I get it, sis?’ that Jack and I lost it.” The Crew only remained at the chuckle they started with, other than Jack who recalled the event. “Ah it's one of those things you gotta have been there for.”
The Crew felt like the weight had been lifted. They talked about the night and their interactions with the ponies at different points of the night. Once the stories had run dry, they decided to head off to bed for some much needed rest.
Three weeks later
The Crew had thoroughly settled into the small town within a the week. The ponies all knew them better and they knew most of the ponies. Each Hunter took it upon themselves to find something to do as they waited for Canterlot’s response to the spell or for Sombra to make a move. Gavin had gone to volunteer assistance with Cheerilee in the school. Since most of the colts and fillies didn't see the Hunters at the induction ceremony, most were in shock. But it all turned to excitement sooner rather than later. The Crusaders were especially excited.
Ray decided to join Geoff on Sweet Apple Acres. Instead of bucking the apples off the branches like the rest of the Apple family, they instead used their new abilities to retrieve apples in better quality. With intense speed and accuracy, Geoff and Ray could work an entire field on their own. They learned to bail the hay, when and how to feed the many animals on the farm, and even bottling their own apple buckers for later.
Michael spent his time at Fluttershy’s cottage, helping her take care of the critters that found their way there for assistance. The animals were wary of Michael at the start, but eased their defensive nature after the first week. Obedience within the cottage was a cinch. With Fluttershy’s Stare and Michael’s ability to raise his voice when needed, they made the best team when they'd get a rowdy bunch of animals.
Finally, Ryan and Jack heavy lifted and baked sweets at Sugarcube Corner with Pinkie Pie. She would host one birthday party for Pipsqueak within this time. Ryan and Jack did most of the heavy lifting when it came to deliveries of ingredients and party supplies. During the parties, Ryan and Jack would mostly sit behind the counter with Mr. Cake for any customers wanting to buy sweets.
Everything went on without a hitch. Then one work day when all parties were well busy, Twilight had Rainbow to quickly notify the Crew and remaining Mane 6 to rally at her castle with haste. Once grouped in front of the castle where the Crew first set foot in Ponyville, everyone wondered what was wrong.
“What’s wrong, Twilight?” Michael said, slowing his run to a stop in front of her. Fluttershy followed behind and was out of breath. “Sorry we're late. We were in Everfree with Zecora getting medicine for the animals.”
“No foolin’” Rainbow said, “you could've left a note or something on the door.” Michael only shrugged. Before anything else could be said, Twilight spoke.
“I'm glad you all could make it this late in the day. But I have good news and bad news. I'll start with bad news first. Sombra is making quite the move.”
“Wow, so soon?” Ryan said, surprised.
“I thought it was quick as well.” Twilight agreed, “He seems to be moving a large force in the direction of Manehattan from the north.”
“How big is the force?” Geoff added seriously.
“I'm not sure,” Twilight grimaced, “but it is large enough to be heard from outside the city. The force was first detected when they turned Fillydelphia upside down. An alert pegasus survived the attack and informed Celestia and Luna. With that, they ordered me to gather you all here for a chariots arrival to Canterlot.”
“Wait,” Fluttershy inquired quietly, “do you mean ‘survived’ as in Sombra's…” Twilight nodded her head.
“Yes. He's not messing around this time. He's actually killing ponies.” The Mane 6 contained expressions of shock. In contrast, the Crew seemed a bit indifferent about the killing, but worried about the ponies there at Manehattan.
“So why aren't we cuttin' them off at Manehattan, then?” Gavin questioned.
“Yeah, I think I'm with Gavin on this one too.” Jack said with a thumb stuck out in Gavin’s direction.
“I'm not sure.” Twilight mused, wondering that same thought as well, “But we shouldn't doubt the princesses orders.” She opened the case harboring the Elements of Harmony and placed each necklace and crown on their respectful pony. A chariot, much like the first used to bring the Crew to Ponyville, came speeding from the clouds above and landed gracefully behind the Crew and Mane 6. “I'm pretty sure they will explain everything once we arrive.”
After mounting the chariot, the pegasi pulling the chariot sped off towards Canterlot. On the way, Michael perked up and spoke in Twilight’s direction.
“Twilight, you said there was also good news?”
“Oh, right!” Twilight scolded herself for forgetting, “the guards at Canterlot have found the book containing the rune to potentially send you all home.” She and the Mane 6 smiled, hoping to get an excited reaction from the Crew. They remained focused and unmoved. Twilight and her friends smiles melted. “What’s wrong, you guys? Aren't you guys happy they found it?”
“Don't let us fool you,” Jack said monotonously, “we're glad they found it. But what's the point of going home if it's still in danger of being destroyed?” The Mane 6 felt gloom overcome them. Before it could fully engulf them, Jack spoke once more. “But if we can help it, we will. We're not just gonna let some guy stomp on our world or yours.” He widely smiled.
Contagious of it, the Mane 6 returned their smiles to him. Gavin groaned teasingly.
“Could you make it any more cheesy, Jack?”
Canterlot Castle Throne Room
Twenty minutes later
“Do you all understand what must be done?” Celestia finished. The Royal Sisters had taken on the act of equipping full armor from their hooves up to their necks. The Crew had grown anxious these past few weeks. They wanted a crack at Sombra and his plans. The Mane 6, on the other hand, had not been too excited about facing Sombra, especially so soon.
“So where are these airships you two promised?” Geoff questioned.
“They are being prepped for combat as we speak.” Luna added, “They were repurposed and used only for parade purposes since Tempest Shadow had used them to dock in Canterlot six moons ago.” Michael racked his brain for the name Tempest. It seemed like a name he could remember easily, but didn't sound at all familiar. “Although they have been decommissioned, they retain their attack capabilities. Air superiority is of utmost importance.” She stamped her hoof with authority.
“Because I can trust no other,” Celestia spoke again, “and she is by far the best strategist of all of my generals, Luna will accompany you in your defense of Manehattan.” Luna seemed to stand taller at her sister’s flattering words. “She will oversee all combat operations. Because you six have now become citizens of Equestria, her word is law to you. I pray you will heed her orders.”
“We will.” Geoff said sternly. The Crew oozed with confidence and determination. Their first encounter with Sombra could probably be their only one. Meaning they either rip his atoms and magical presence apart, or die trying.
“Excellent.” Celestia nodded, “Now, sister, guide them to the docks to board the airships. Take only the Nightingale, Restless, Dreamwalker, and the skiffs provided. The rest remains here for Canterlot’s defense. I'm sorry I could not spare more. Make due with what you have.”
“That is more than enough, sister.” Luna smirked, sure of herself and her sister. She stepped down from the thrones and waved the Mane 6 and Crew along. “Come. We mustn't dawdle.”
Luna lead the twelve at a running pace through the halls of Canterlot. Once outdoors and crossing a high rise bridge, they could see the docks. Large platforms suspended by curved supports attached to the same mountain that cradled Canterlot itself.
Three airships of near identical indigo and white design floated in their respective ports. On one side of each hollow blimp was painted the seal of the Royal Sisters. Each blimp measured about five hundred feet in length and about two hundred and fifty feet in width. The blimps looked as if they were carrying a large galleon beneath it. On the sterns of the ships, thrusters could be seen warming up for greater acceleration and velocity. Moored to the dock, the airships had ponies of all three races moving glowing ammunition crates and turrets onto the floating fortresses.
They hurried down a tower’s spiral staircase at the end of the bridge to reach the dock’s ground level. Once on the dock, they slowed to a brisk walk. Luna began to give orders.
“Twilight, take the Elements to the Dreamwalker. That ship will remain in the rear of the leading two. We mustn’t lose the Elements, so you must protect them at all costs. Knight Geoff?” Geoff was startled by being called “knight.” Regardless, he responded.
“You take your colleagues to the Restless. Do not engage in ground combat until we… err I, and only I, give the order.” Luna corrected her old ponish. “There will be a green flare, that is your signal. Once then, jump overboard and seek Sombra. Once you have found him, use this.” She levitated a small flare gun with an abnormally large trigger obviously for a pony’s hoof. It landed softly in Geoff’s palm. “Use it only if Sombra is present. Understood?”
“Crystal.” Geoff placed the gun to his waist on a hook.
“Now then, I will take my place on the Nightingale. My sister has sent word to the Crystal Empire to spare their one airship if possible. We may be receiving support in the midst of battle, so do not be alarmed by a fourth airship. Are there any questions?” The twelve remained silent looking amongst each other for wandering concerns. None seemed present. “Then, to your ships. We will disembark in ten minutes.”
With that, the large group dispersed. When the Mane 6 mounted their ship, they all noticed the large device in the center of the deck. The device is reminiscent of a Tesla tower on Earth.Twilight didn't give much attention to it, already knowing it's function. She did, however explain to her obviously confused friends its purpose.
“That device is called a Foreign Projectile Wave Disruptor, or FopWad for short. It's meant to shield points of importance from, well, foreign projectiles. The larger the object is it’s protecting, the longer the wavelengths of mana. This means smaller objects, like ponies, can pass through. But larger objects and all magical attacks can be swallowed as energy by the FopWad.”
“Riiiight,” Rainbow said, uninterested, “So I'm assuming it's here to protect us from anything big, right?”
“That,” Twilight added more to Rainbow's assumption, “and if things go south, this'll protect the ship as we escape.”
At that moment, a white flare ejected from the center Nightingale’s bow away from the mountain. The mooring ropes were tossed and the airships were set free to mobilize. Nightingale lead with Restless lagging behind at Nightingale’s portside. The thrusters fired up with amethyst flames from the two galleons and they advanced. Once they gained a four hundred yard head start, the Dreamwalker began its own propulsion.
The three ships moved into formation with the Restless and Nightingale forward and the Dreamwalker behind as planned. The turrets and large anti air cannons were still being fastened and connected to the feed system of the ship. By the time they would reach Manehattan, all final preparations would be long over.
Five miles outside Manehattan
Two hours after disembarkment
Defenses on all three airships had been set. The airship crew members took their battle stations. Luna had informed each ship with a comms pegasus to be on guard as they passed over Fillydelphia as straggling umbrums may have stayed behind to occupy it. The ships began to drift over what was left of Fillydelphia. The city was silent. Only abandoned buildings and wildfires dotted the once bustling city. Spears of dark mana could be found in many places throughout the streets and buildings. Pinned with some of the spears were bystanders and the occasional royal guard.
It was a scene that all of the ponies, except Luna, had to begin getting used to. It sickened everypony to see this being done. The Crew only winced at the sights when they were most brutal. It’s like the city reeked of iron. Once passed over the ghost town, Manehattan’s skyline came into view over the barren grasslands. Before the city, was a dark cloud. A pitch black shadow blanketed the ground underneath the cloud. As they neared the slow moving cloud, its shape became apparently clear. This cloud just so happened to be a swarm of changelings. The shadow they casted ended up being around a battalion or two of umbrums.
“That's a lot of shit for just three airships.” Geoff worried, leaning over the railing with his closest friends. One of the ship’s lieutenants looked over Geoff’s shoulder to view the myriad of changelings and umbrums. He scoffed.
“Bah. The Restless alone could easily handle rabble like that.” Geoff hadn't realized until he turned his head to catch a glimpse of the stallion behind him that the stallion had surpassed him in height. Although Geoff appeared to be unphased by the robust bronco’s size, he almost gasped at the size difference.
“And how do you know that?” Geoff questioned. Geoff knew these ponies hadn't seen real, deadly combat in hundreds of years. He was simply curious of the stallion’s response.
“I may be unsure of the capabilities of the ship itself, but I am completely aware of the firepower aboard. From every turret to every sword, I am confident I've trained these ponies well enough where I wouldn't mind charging into battle with them.”
Geoff admired the lieutenant’s faith in his own men and nodded to the lieutenant in approval. Even if he hasn't seen them fight a real fight, he couldn't argue. He looked down the line of his own friends in front of him who were also leaning over the railing. Who would be the first to crack? Gavin? Jack? Michael? Himself? Geoff was pretty sure the same thing clouded the lieutenant pony’s mind under his confident appearance.
Geoff startled awake from his thoughts at the sound of the Nightingale. A red flare fired from its bow in the direction of the swarms of changelings and umbrums. The airships began to descend from above cloud level to become visible to the dark force. Geoff had turned to see behind himself. Not only was the lieutenant gone and giving orders to his scrambling soldiers, but a forcefield had engulfed the Dreamwalker and began to slow itself to remain out of immediate combat.
From the changelings and umbrums perspective, they could begin to hear the pounding of high caliber magical armaments being discharged at slow rates. Mana blasts began to carpet the grassland the umbrums walked. Large plumes of cartoonishly purple smoke dotted the airspace around the Restless and Nightingale from the anti-air weapons armed on each ship.
Changelings fell from the sky one by one. Umbrums scattered on the grounds as to not bunch up. The changelings, although, were not defenseless. Between their wings was a device strapped with barrel-like tubes jutting from their sides. Using batteries charged with unstable mana, these devices acted as a small arms repeater. More effective against troops and not airships, the changelings began targeting the crews of both ships.
The Crew had ducked behind the railing as soon as the changelings began firing on the airships crew members. Jack decided to take initiative and summoned his shield, creating a barrier opposite of the railing to nearly cover them entirely.
“Alright, we're covered!” Jack said loudly over the the sounds of gunfire emitting from the ship and the changelings’ weapons. “Now what?!” Geoff looked over Jack’s shoulder. Some changelings began to land onto the deck. The short barrels of the devices on their backs retracted and was replaced by a long, gnarled blade of an obsidian color in place of each barrel. Some of the crew noticed this and picked up spears, swords, hammers, and anything they could find to defend against the pests. The two sides clashed violently.
“I guess until the signal,” Geoff said loud enough so all of his friends could hear, “we should probably keep those assholes off the ship!”
“Do we kill them?!” Ryan asked, barely able to top the loud turrets along the rails. Geoff let his eyes wander over the deck. Few crew members laid mutilated, dead, and/or dying across the wooden floor. Geoff returned to his awaiting friends.
“Yeah. They're not playing nice, so neither should we. Help in any way you can, even if it means jumping on one of those guns we got. But when that signal for us goes off, we meet back here, cool?!” His friends all nodded once, bravery filling their pupils as they each split off into groups of two as they trained. Ray and Gavin split to the bow end, Ryan and Michael to the stern, all with their weapons drawn.
Geoff remained with Jack. Both drew their own weapons as Jack lowered the energy from the shield.
“Jack, you and I are going to help pull the injured below deck. Got it?” Geoff yelled, advancing quickly.
“Got it.” Jack said, keeping to Geoff’s back.
Geoff could see the Nightingale fared no better than the Restless. Changelings boarding the airship, the faint image of Luna fighting them off as best she could with her elite crew passed Geoff’s eyes. All he could do was hope the signal would come soon, and that his boys would stay safe.