Pounds For Pumpkins
Pale trotted over through the dead-silent bar, passing the four ponies their drinks. Even Pipsqueak, as smashed as he was, could understand the significance of what was happening.
“We're... we're really going to war, huh?” he asked, taking a swig of-
“Pleh, water?! Asshole...”
Pound silently sipped on his drink, feeling the rum slowly run it's course through him. He knew everypony had a different reaction to liquor, whether it be a sudden loss of care, a new sense of confidence, or something along the lines of Pipsqueak and his hyperactive spaz attacks. Pound, however, felt something else. He felt a fire inside of him being kindled, a warmth through his body. He didn't feel aggression, but he felt fiercer. Not in the intimidating way or what not, but... it was a unique feeling. He felt more at peace, even with the cheap alcohol in his system.
Such was the joy of drinking.
“That... kind of put a damper on the mood,” Pumpkin murmured as she drank her iced tea slowly, not even bothering to add any sweetener to it. She preferred it plain, anyways.
“No shit,” Dinky said tactlessly, downing her glass in one swift motion.
“How long until you think dad will hear about this?” Pumpkin asked Pound.
“If it makes tomorrow's paper, which it probably will, then... tomorrow morning.”
Pound and Pumpkin sat in silence, thinking hard on what had just happened, how things would change now that they lived in a country at war.
“Do you think they'll start up a draft?” Dinky asked. Pound cocked his head.
“You know, make all of the colts old enough to serve enlist, maybe even drag back a couple of veterans.”
Pound and Pumpkin exchanged worried looks.
“I... think we need to go,” Pumpkin said as she practically pulled Pound along with her. They both had the same thing on their minds.
Pumpkin wrapped the two of them in her magic and, with a quick POP! They flashed out.
A sudden pulse of energy and light saw the two of them reappearing outside of their house, Pumpkin panting heavily. She was shaking from using such a powerful spell so suddenly.
“You shouldn't have done that, Pumpkin,” Pound said as he rubbed Pumpkin's back, “You aren't supposed to be exerting yourself.”
“Shut up- *pant* find dad- *pant* go!” she huffed.
Pound instead opted to behave in a much less dramatic fashion, choosing to grab his mare by her barrel and helping her inside, resting her in a chair at the table before heading further into the building to find his father.
“Dad!” Pound called as he climbed the stairs.
Carrot Cake appeared at the door to his bedroom, scowling. Pound only then realized it was rather late at night.
“What is it, Pound?” Carrot grumbled, rubbing his ill-lost sleep from his eyes.
“Dad, Equestria is at war!”
Pound then paused, realizing how crazy that might have seemed to his dad. He rethought how he should say it briefly before trying at it again.
“Dad, we just saw the news. Equestria just declared war on the Zebras. Dad, does that- Dinky said something about a draft- could it-”
Carrot Cake shushed his son by with a wave of his hoof.
“War? We were on great terms with the Zebras, why would we suddenly be at war with them?”
“I don't know, dad!” Pound practically yelled at his father.
Carrot Cake snapped to attention at that. Pound wasn't a loud pony; he only yelled when he was truly distraught, emotionally or what not. If this had him that worked up... then it had to have been serious. Carrot tried to take a step towards Pound but stopped short as his back spasmed suddenly, his hind legs locking up. It was an old battle wound from his days in the guard, and what had ended up getting him out.
“When... when did you hear about this, son?” Carrot Cake asked Pound as he tried to catch his breath.
“Less than ten minutes ago, at the bar,” he said.
He took her to a bar? Carrot Cake thought absentmindedly before shaking his head. As much as he wanted to reprimand his son for doing something like that, he was sure that Pound hadn't done anything stupid, like knock up his sister there or anything.
… Okay, maybe this needed to be addressed.
“You took your pregnant sister to a bar?!” Carrot Cake yelped.
“She didn't drink!” Pound retorted, growing even more frightened. Why was his dad yelling at him, the country was at war!
“That's not the point!” Carrot Cake shouted back.
“Then what is?” Pound hollered. Carrot Cake opened his mouth to respond but was interrupted by a knocking on the front door.
“WHAT?!?” both stallions barked before realizing the door was downstairs. Passing the still-drowsy Pumpkin, Carrot Cake threw open the door to reveal-
“Former Sergeant Carrot Cake?” asked the royal guard. Carrot Cake immediately recognized the fatigues as a member of the Canterlot Guard, staff sergeant.
“Yes,” Carrot huffed, “now what do you want?”
Should I play dumb to what Pound told me, or not?
“As a former soldier of the Equestrian Guard, you are hereby re-instated to active duty, sir,” she staff sergeant saluted.
Carrot Cake refused to return it.
“No, I'm not.”
“Ex-excuse me, sir?”
“I'm retired, staff sergeant. Wounded. I have a pregnant daughter halfway through her term, I run a business here, I can't leave for war!”
“But... sir...” the guard tried to reason, realizing immediately just how stubborn Carrot Cake was going to be. “I have orders that one able-bodied male from every third house of every major town in Equestria-”
“Well there's your problem, sonny. Every third house. Skip on to the next one, you miscounted,” Carrot Cake said while trying to close the door.
The guard was now frustrated. He had a job, damnit.
Sticking a hoof in the gap, he held the door open.
“Sir, now is not the time for jokes. Equestria is at war, and we barely have enough of a standing army to defend against a rampaging hydra. We need more soldiers, sir.” With this, the guard-pony held up a decree signed by the Princess Celestia herself, the one requesting one-third of the major population provide the guard with one recruit. It wasn't a full-on draft, but it was close enough.
“Well you aren't getting any from this house,” Carrot said, a determined look set in his eyes.
The guard huffed, almost deciding to give up right then and there. Almost.
But as luck would have it, Pound had decided to peek over his father's shoulder. And the guard had seen him.
“You there, son! Front and center!”
The guard gave Carrot Cake a hard glare while pushing the door open, holding the decree in front of him like a warrant. It was as good as any warrant in this case.
“Son, how old are you to this date?”
“S-Sixteen, sir!” Pound squeaked. This was really frightening. Why was the guard-pony
“Then if your father is unable to serve,” the guard said while staring straight at Carrot, no expression to be read on the guard's face, “you have now been drafted into the Equestrian Guard. All new recruits must board a train for New Hope at seven o'clock tomorrow morning.”
The guard took a step back, eyes still locked with Carrot's.
“I'm sorry, but this is how it must be,” the guard said with a sad nod. The guard wasn't trying to be a prick or anything of the sort; he was just trying to do his job in a rather confusing time.
“Good night, sir,” the guard said before leaving, heading to yet another house.
Carrot Cake fell back on his haunches. Everything was happening so fast. Equestria was at war, Pound had just been drafted- he grabbed at his temples, moaning. Everything was happening way too fast.
“D-dad?” Pound asked, approaching his father. “W-what happened?”
Carrot Cake allowed a single tear to fill his eye as his days in the Guard filled his eyes. Back in Equestria, there was little actual violence. But in the service...
He could feel the heat from the dragon raids, the smell of blood from the close-quarters combat with griffons. He still woke up from time to time reaching out for a knife only to find himself being awoke from his wife turning over in his sleep, and it terrified him.
War was no place for a child.
And now his son was going to have to face it.
Carrot Cake looked at his son. His innocent son. He had so much to live for, a foal on the way. So much, and...
Carrot Cake ushered his son towards him. As soon as Pound had taken a few tentative steps closer to his father, Carrot pulled him close and did something Pound had never seen his father do before.
Carrot cried into his son's shoulder.
If Carrot Cake had been able to make the decision, he would have told Pound to wait. He wasn't against Pound joining the military, but... he wanted it to be Pound's choice, a choice he might have made when he was older. Not when he was still practically a child, not a choice made for him due to the consequences of war.
Not like this.