Spitfire looked at her rifle. She was no longer the same hero that the newspaper portrayed her as. Now, she was only a coward, nothing else. Maybe she should just resign her commission and retire.
But could she really retire? Equestria was at war and her citizens had answered the call. If she decided to stop fighting, she would forever be shunned. If she did continue fighting this war, would she be able to survive? She wasn't even close to being half of the mare that she was at the start of the war, physically or mentally. It was the exact reason why she was no longer a dogfighter. The war's toll was simply more than what she was capable of paying.
And what if she survived? What did she have left after all of this? She wouldn't be able to continue as a Wonderbolt; she'd never be able to perform the same stunts from before. Even then, the Wonderbolts were essentially disbanded and half of the original members were either dead or permanently crippled. What life did she have after this war?
"Ma'am?" Spitfire blinked, then looked at whoever addressed her. It was Rainbow Dash's super-fan. "Are you alright?" the filly asked. Spitfire thought back to the firefight. She did nothing but cower in fear behind cover while this filly was doing what she should have been doing. So young.
Even more impressive were the humans. They fought like they came from the depths of Tartarus. During the entire firefight, they performed like a well-oiled machine. Every aspect of that short incursion, from treating the wounded to dealing with the Jaeger, provided no challenge to them. It was if they had done this like they had practiced it a million times over. There was only four of them but then again, four was clearly more than enough!
Wilson, no doubt that he was the group's medic, was the first human that she had met. He had saved and treated members of the Royal Equestrian Army like they were members of his own military. With that strange rifle of his (if it was a rifle), he provided enough suppressive fire to rival that of a squad. Despite being a medic, he was also clearly capable of causing death to anyone he didn't agree with.
Eric, the least unhinged of the four, played a crucial support role. His rifle, one that was just as alien as Wilson's rifle, was a monster. It was clearly chambered in a round that was several times more powerful than whatever Wilson's rifle was firing. Also, it was he who provided the most effective and accurate covering fire, unlike the mess that Wilson had been putting out. Oh, and he somehow managed to command Pinkie Pie. Pinkie Pie, of all ponies!
Logan, the civilian, was just as capable as his allies. Despite being a civilian (so he claims), he wielded his bolt action rifle with more skill than most veteran soldiers. He also had no difficulty in keeping up with the pace of the firefight and was still able to provide covering fire, despite the deficiencies in weaponry. Unlike some of the ponies, the threat of death didn't faze him; he was acting without any change in behavior.
Then, there was Tran. He was easily the scariest of the four. Not only did he capture a war chief but he had killed two Jaegers! There was also the fact that he managed to land a bullet into a target from a kilometer away! Both of his weapons were beyond excessive, as evident from the fact that both seemed to ignore body armor, and he was clearly skilled with them. To be able to control the recoil of that hand cannon and the ability to shoot something from a kilometer away meant unimaginable hours of practice.
If only she could fight with a degree of lethality or fearlessness as any of those four. Countless times throughout the war, her cowardice had cost lives. At the start of this horrible conflict, she was a Wing Commander of an aerial combat company; she eventually shifted to being a commander of an infantry company after she could no longer keep up with the requirements of being a dogfighter. No matter what type of company she commanded, she was responsible for a selection of soldiers.
And every time she had been put in command of new soldiers, they would die. Pointless assaults, raids and battles against a nearly undefeatable enemy lead to more and more casualties. The death toll piled and piled up, a good number of them being the fault of her poor command.
Spitfire blinked and looked up; the human's medic was standing in front of her. "What?"
The medic repeated himself. "Stop that."
Spitfire frowned. "Stop what?" she asked.
The medic crossed his arms and, despite the short stature, managed to look frighteningly imposing. "I know what you're thinking about, so stop it."
Her frown deepened. "And what are you insinuating?"
"That look of depression and despair. You're thinking about how you're responsible for the deaths of other people because you did or didn't do something." Spitfire went wide-eyed. How did he know what she was thinking? "I've seen that look enough times to recognize it anywhere."
Spitfire averted her gaze from the human. "They died under my command."
The medic's demeanor went from frightening to brotherly, something that she could recognize despite the difference in species. "This is war. People die no matter what you do. No matter how prepared the plan is, it will always go to hell once shit hits the fan." Spitfire kept staring at the ground. How would he know? "I'm a medic. It is literally my job to deal with the aftermath. In the wars I've experienced, I've seen the same thing over and over again."
Spitfire's looked back at the medic, eyes wide. Did he really just say 'wars', as in multiple? "Yes. I said wars, as in multiple," said the medic. Okay, is he reading her mind? "And no, I'm not reading your mind. You're just easier to read than a children's book." Spitfire frowned. No, she wasn't! "Yes, you are that easy to read."
Spitfire's frowned grew. The medic snorted in response before walking away.
Twilight kept her eyes on the human. Her subconsciousness kept her in a state of uneasiness at the sight of the human's face. There was no doubt about it, he was supposed to be a predator. It also didn't help that he didn't fit the description of any of the known species of this planet; nor did it help that she didn't know what their goals were.
And his lips were moving. Wait, that means he's speaking. "-Do next?," said the human.
She blinked a few times to regain her thought process. "I'm sorry, could you say that again?" Twilight asked.
The human raised an eyebrow for a second before repeating himself. "I said, you're in charge of this outfit. What do you want to do now?"
Twilight was surprised at what he had said. He was willing to respect her authority? "There's nothing else left to do but rendezvous with the rest of the assault team," Twilight said.
The human's face kept the same blank look on it. "I don't mean this as an insult but are you used to working behind a desk?" he asked. Twilight froze. How'd he know that? "I'll take that as a yes."
This was the moment Spitfire walked up to the pair. "Ma'am, I believe it's time to prepare for the march back." Twilight honestly had no idea what to do. She opened her mouth to speak but closed it a second later, realizing that she had nothing to say.
The human looked at Twilight and then back to Spitfire. "Check on the wounded and determine whether they're in any condition to be moved." Spitfire nodded and ran off. He looked back to Twilight. "Is there any way to contact that assault team that you've mentioned?" Twilight nodded. "How long would it take?"
Twilight lit up her horn as she attempted to cast a spell but a sharp pain filled her head. She instantly stopped accessing her magic as she knew that she would still have to suffer from the aftereffects of having her magic overloaded. "It can be done almost instantly with a spell but I can't cast at the moment. My friend can do it though." Twilight looked around in the general area for Rarity but ended up with nothing. "I'll look for her and have her do that."
He kept the same lack of emotion on his face. Did he ever show emotion? "Good, I'm going to perform a few checks with my fellow soldiers."
Wilson was treating various minor injuries on Logan. Being the only one in the group to not have been wearing any real equipment or gear during the ordeal, he had suffered from quite a number of scrapes and scratches. "Fuck, that hurts!" Logan yelled as Wilson yanked a small rock that was embedded in his arm.
Wilson snorted. "Maybe you should be wearing more than just a fucking hoodie and jeans!"
Wilson removed another piece of foreign matter from Logan's arm, causing him to jerk his arm away in pain. "Wasn't my choice!" He presented his arm again.
As the two of them argued, Eric simply smoked a cigarette. Smoke 'em if you got 'em, right? He saw Tran walking towards him and fished out his cigarettes. "Want one?"
Tran looked at the cigarettes and shook his head. "How much ammo did you use up?"
Eric looked down at the mag that was currently seated in his rifle. "So far or in that last firefight?"
"For the rifle, all but one mag. For the .357, all but a fourth."
Tran looked over to Wilson and Logan. "How about you two?"
Wilson paused in treating Logan's injuries. "Three fourths," Wilson answered before he continued working on Logan's scrapes.
"Half of the Mosin ammo and and everything for the peashooter." Logan eyed the KRISS Vector and the Glock. "Those fire the same round?"
Wilson nodded. "Uses the same magazines, too."
Logan then realized what caliber of ammunition was loaded in Wilson's magazines. "10mm? Are those the twenty-five round magazines?"
"Thirty," Wilson corrected.
"There are thirty round 10mm magazines?"
Wilson finished up on Logan's treatment, finishing off with a set of bandages to cover the light wounds. "If you use a .45 extension kit on the 10mm glock magazines, yes," Wilson answered. Wilson looked over at Tran. "You?"
Tran tightened his grip on his rifle's sling. "I have a dozen rounds left for the .338, ten for the .500, and-" Tran drew the Colt Walker. "Fourteen for this."
Logan held back a laugh. "Well, if you run out of ammo, that thing would make a good club."
Tran holstered the Colt Walker, keeping the same dead look on his face. He then immediately turned around. Now, he was facing the pony that had been attempting to sneak up on him.
"Hiya!" Pinkie Pie greeted. Balancing on her back was a pair of ammunition cans. Strangely enough, the ammo cans were not the wooden crates that the Equestrian military used; Instead, both of them were metal and green. Somehow, both of them were the same ammo cans that the US military would use. "I have a surprise for you!"
And then, using her tail, she lifted the two ammo cans off of her back and set them down on the ground. Tran kept the same emotionless look on his face. "Okay." Tran kneeled down and opened up one of the cans. Inside was a large amount of handgun ammunition; ammunition meant for the four's sidearms. Hell, there were even some paper cartridges for the Colt Walker.
Wilson walked over to the ammo can and looked inside. "How in the fuck?" he asked as a headache formed.
Eric walked over and grabbed some ammunition. "Pink horse shit thing magic."
Logan walked over and restocked himself with some pistol ammunition. "I'm not gonna complain."
Tran picked up the other ammo can and opened it up. Inside this one was ammunition for the three's rifles (Wilson did not have a rifle and refilled his supply from the other can). The four of them emptied the contents of the two ammo cans, filling whatever magazines/speedloaders/clips while pocketing whatever loose rounds were left. Now, they easily had double the amount of ammunition that they started with.
Wilson looked at the can full of ammunition. "Where the fuck did you get this?" he asked.
Pinkie's smile grew. "A little birdie left it to me to give to you," she answered.
"Was the asshole's name Discord?" Wilson asked in response.
Wilson looked at Tran. "Can I sedate her?" he asked.
Tran thought about it. "No."
Pinkie Pie, copying Tran, then immediately turned around. Now, she was facing the pony that was walking up to the five of them. "Hi Spitfire!"
"We have good news and we have bad news," Spitfire announced.
"Good news first," Tran said.
"Well, the injured are definitely in a condition to be moved and we were able to get in contact with the assault team that we mentioned," Spitfire said.
"The bad news?" Tran asked.
Wilson ground his teeth. "Out with it, you cunt!"
"The assault team was given rerouting orders so we're on our own."