Another Life

by Ironwolves21

Chapter Twenty

Riot stood shoulder to shoulder with several other officers; all while waiting and watching as the few higher ups of the hospital ran around trying to ensure that everything was in order. Just as it started to seem that they would have a few moments before the princesses’s arrival, a pair of lunar guards trotted through the front doors. The pair glanced around for a moment, before nodding in unison.

With quick movements, the pair pulled open the pair of heavy doors, and none other than Princess Luna trotted through.

“Atten Hut!”

The sound of twenty or so pairs of combat booted hooves stamping into the floor as the line of officers went to attention was nearly deafening in the small space. The princess held a neutral face as she trotted to the front of the line. Riot kept his form stock straight and his eyes forward, but he could see Dr. Stuart trot up to Luna and salute out of his peripheral.

“Princess Luna, the compound is ready for your inspection.”

The tall midnight alicorn nodded, and started trotting down the line, staring at each officer individually. She seemed to rush her inspection; only marginally scanning the ponies. She passed over Riot without a second glance. At the end, she looked at Dr Stuart and spoke with a hushed tone.

“Doctor Stuart, are our ponies ready?”

The doctor held up a hoof for a moment and turned to face the officers. “Officers, stand easy! You’re all dismissed.” As the officers stood easy and started filing out to where they needed to be, Riot couldn’t help but watch the doctor and Princess Luna, as they walked down a hall and talked together. He could only pick up bits of the conversation as heavy boots filed past him.

“We may be out of time Mirian-”

The doctor seemed to adopt a grim face. “You mean...”

“I fear-” Vinyl trotted up next to Riot, but stayed quiet when he held up a hoof. “-plans have been discovered.”

Riot frowned, and focused on Vinyl when the pair of night guard trotted past him. He could still hear Luna over them though. “The inspection and our talk with Captain Riot will have to be quick, I’m still trying to hide- -from Celestia. She would never- -HavenHammer.”

The word ‘HavenHammer’ and the mention of his name caused Riot to cock a worried eyebrow, but before he could eavesdrop more, Vinyl placed a hoof on his chest. “Come on, we haven’t finished unpacking.” She smiled happily, oblivious to what he had heard.

The stallion shook his head. “Just hold on for a moment. I need some answers.” Vinyl pulled back, looking worried and fearful.

The mare nodded, letting her grip on his hoof fall loose. “I’ll be here Tiger.”

Letting out a calming breath, Riot trotted forward, towards the lunar diarch and Doctor Mirian. As he grew closer, a pair of lunar guard slipped out of the shadows and blocked his path. Riot stopped, and spoke loudly enough to be heard by the pair.

“I need to speak with our Majesty and the good doctor.”

The guard shook his head. “I’m sorry sir, but-” He paused abruptly when a midnight blue hoof rested on his shoulder. The guard looked up, then immediately bowed his head in respect. Riot quickly followed suite.

Princess Luna regarded Riot with even eyes, even when the tall stallion bowed. “You may stand, Captain Venture.”

Standing to his full height, Riots eyes flicked over both the princess and the doctor. The world seemed strangely quiet. Riot cleared his throat. “Princess Luna, you honour me. I mean no disrespect, but I came here looking for answers. And I feel as though both yourself and Mirian here have them, and have abstained from telling me.”

The lunar diarch smiled coyly as the doctor slouched a bit. Luna lifted a hoof, pointing towards Mirians office. “We wished to speak with you, Captain. If you would please follow us, we shall attempt to make our motives clearer.” Riot nodded quickly, and followed the pair into the now small office. Princess Luna turned towards Mirian and Riot, a small smile crossing her lips. “We may speak freely here. Nopony will hear us without my consent.”

Riot cocked his head, giving the alicorn a steady gaze. “Without your consent eh? So that conversation in the hallway was just to get my attention quietly then.”

The alicorn nodded once. “Exactly that.”

Riot chuckled. “Smart.” He shook his head, his features flattening. “Alright, I need answers. To be honest, I shouldn’t be here, and I want to know why I am.”

A small amused huff escaped Mirian. “Straight to the point as per usual. Captain, you’re here because we need somepony with your specific set of skill and experience. We’re on the cusp of a new age, and it’s threatening to rip Equestria apart. We face a threats from within and without.”

Luna pulled out a small folder from a dimensional pocket. She placed it on the desk, allowing its contents to sort themselves. “This hospital is much, much more than a simple civil service building. It will serve as aBastion, command bunker, armoury, and barracks for our ponies. It will also serve as a home base for the special until I’ve created..”

“All under the guise of being a charity hospital.” Riot cracked a grin.

Mirian nodded, pointing at a picture. “Canterlot is a city of beauty, and socialites. It is not meant for war, or siege. It’s defence depends solely on the ponies within, and the past has shown that they are not infallible. This bastion is meant to solve that problem.”

Rubbing his nose with a hoof, Riot nodded again. “Okay, that much I can understand, and sympathise. There’s two things that I don’t understand though. One, why reinstate me of all ponies, and why am I your go-to?”

The doctor rolled a hoof, trying to find the appropriate words; fortunately, Luna found them for him. “You’re one of the last ponies we could find. The others are dead, or worse. Out of your covert operations unit alone, there’s you, and one other pony who has survived.” She frowned. “Simply put, we need a pony who isn’t afraid to save a nation with whatever tactic necessary, and you’re one of the few who fit that bill.”

Riot sighed, nodding. “What about the elements?”

“The elements protect us from evil, but they do nothing against civil agitators and dictators.” Luna simply stared at him as she spoke, watching his movements and reactions.

The stallion slumped into one of the chairs, his hoof pressing into the bridge of his nose. “You need a cleaner.” He huffed quietly. “I don’t do that kind of work anymore. I certainly don’t want to do it again either.”

Mirian huffed in return. “You’re not being hired as an assassin Riot. We need you here because not only can we keep you safe, but you can keep other ponies safe, along with Equestria itself.”

Riot frowned. “What if I say no?”

The doctor shot a flat glare at him. “I’ve been keeping a certain Usineighn away from you and your family. Maybe her demands to interrogate you should be let through.”

Riot grimaced. “Alright, fine. If you’ll keep that witch away from me and my family, I’ll be your honey badger.”

Princess Luna smiled, and brought out another document. “This is a royal pardon, for any and all crimes committed. If you agree, I shall sign it, and you will be an innocent pony again. After that, we’ll discuss the duties of your new position as Chief of Security.” She smiled softly. “Of course, that will have to wait. I’m keeping this facilites true purpose a secret from Celestia, as she would immediately disapprove of ‘using our wounded as a shield’.” She nickered disapprovingly before muttering something quietly.

Letting out a humoured chuckle, Riot slowly lifted from the chair. “A wounded rat fights the hardest.” He closed his eyes before speaking. “I’ll join on one extra condition.”

Mirian smirked, and rolled his hoof. “Go on.”

“I want a scholarship fund for my son. A big one. Give him a future.” Riot leveled his gaze with the pair.

Her interest piqued, Luna turned her head towards the stallion. “I believe the royal treasury could handle that. He’ll have access to any school of thought he could desire.”

Riot smiled, his eyes falling. “Thank you Princess. I’ll do my best to help you and Equestria. If I’m still breathing, I’m your pony.”

The princess’s smile flattened as she straightened up. “Kneel before me, Iron Venture.” The stallion did so, his eyes remaining closed. “Do you solemnly swear, to uphold all that is good within Equestria, and fight for freedom, and justice for the average pony?”

“I, Iron Venture, do solemnly swear, to uphold all that is good within Equestria, and fight for freedom, and justice for the average pony.”

Luna’s eyes began to glow, the temperature of the office dropping several degrees as she rested a hoof on Riots shoulder. He felt a static shock spread through his system; a sharp pain lancing inside his head. He kept his pain silent however. The princess removed her hoof from his shoulder, and the air in the room became warm again. “You may rise, Iron Venture.”

Mirian snorted, rolling his eyes. “Captain, you’re dismissed.”

Riot nodded, and opened the door with his magic. “I’ll just be unpacking some of my things. If either of you need me, just look for the mare with the electric blue mane, she’ll be stuck on me half the time.” He nodded to Mirian, and bowed his head to Luna. “I won’t let you down ma’am.” At that, he ducked out of the office, and waved down Vinyl. His head pounded, feeling like somepony had crammed a knife between the lobes.

The mare smiled. “A personal sit in with Princess Luna? It must have been an honour…” Vinyl nuzzled the stallion. “Come on, you can tell me all about it when we unpack.”

As he reached for the handle, red lights filled the lobby and surrounding hallways. Riot stopped dead in his tracks. He looked up, seeing the emergency lights spinning away, just as a low klaxon sounded.

In the distance, there was a deep Ka-rump, akin to explosive ordnance going off in a tight space.


Riot blinked. “No. No, this isn’t-”

The intercom system cut him off with a loud crackle. “ALL HOOVE ALL HOOVES, PREPARE FOR LOCKDOWN STATE, CANTERLOT IS UNDER ATTACK!” Riot whirled around to see heavy ballistic riot shutters rattle down over every window.

Vinyl hugged against his side. “Riot? What’s going on?” Her voice shook with fear. A dozen or so ponies scrambled in one direction, passing a pair of stallions in light flak with a heavy machine gun in tow. Riot blinked, his muzzle twitching erratically. Dr Stuart galloped up to him after shouting orders. The doctor shook Riot roughly.


Riot shuddered, and his attention snapped to the shorter stallion. “What do you need me to do?”

The doctor managed a weak smile. “We’re under lockdown, Canterlot is under attack. Please, come with me, it’s time to earn your keep.”

Riot looked over at Vinyl, who was still clamped firmly to his side. “Come on, let’s go!”

The pair followed the doctor down a hall, but stopped abruptly as the doctor came to a skidding halt before heavy doors. A group of soldiers; all bandaged and toting obvious wounds galloped out, clad in armour and packing rifles and ammunition.

“Lock down all the entrances! I want rifles in every fire point! Like we trained ponies!” A grizzled sergeant barked out his order, before giving a hasty salute to the doctor and Riot. “Gentleman! The compound is in lockdown as per plan Echo, all entrances are locked and scanner talismans are running at one hundred percent! roughly eighty percent of combat capable ponies are armed and armoured, and civilians have been moved to the vault.” The stallion saluted again, just as the building shook. “I have to go! Good luck and Faust speed!”

Doctor Stuart turned to Riot as the sergeant galloped past. “Captain! I know we didn’t get any of this in writing, but I NEED to know... Are you ready to bear arms again in defence of your country? Your Capital?”

Riot looked over at Vinyl, then back at the doctor. He nodded once, his features set in stone. “Yes.”

The doctor frowned sadly. “Good.” He pushed open the pair of doors. ‘Get yourself kitted out! I can take Miss Scratch to the vault!”

Scratch shook her head quickly and squeezed Riot tightly. “Please Riot! Don’t go!” She blinked away tears while she spoke. Weapons fire filled the building for a moment, then died down to random shots.

Riot closed his eyes and swore quietly under his breath. When he opened his eyes, he took Vinyls hooves in his. “Vinyl, please... I need to know that you’re safe. I can’t let you get hurt.” He clenched his jaw for a moment before speaking again. “But I need to help the ponies out there. I can’t not do anything. This is who I am.” Riot hugged the mare tightly against his chest; kissing her forehead lightly. “I love you.”

Vinyl hugged him as tightly as she could, her tears staining his cleanly pressed uniform. “I... I love you too Riot....”

Riot broke the hug; kissing Vinyl as if it were the last thing he would ever do as a pony. “My name is Ashfall. Ashfall Venture. I am a soldier.” Riot smiled weakly as Doctor Stuart took Vinyl by the hoof and led her away. Riot wiped his cheek with a hoof, then followed after a small group of soldiers. His hooves carried him into a large room, and he slowed to a stop soon after entering.

The room was an armoury fit to arm a battalion.

Princess Luna of all ponies stood by one of the armour racks, a large set of combat armour being slung over her by her own magic, and her guards. “AND THEY ATTACK NOW OF ALL TIMES! WHEN THE NOBLES DEMAND AN ARMISTICE! FOOLS! IDIOTS!” She fumed, her voice echoing off the thick concrete. She shuddered, her rage manifesting as best it could. The princess turned, locking onto the stallion. “Captain Riot, our castle is under attack. You must gather a squad and head there, post haste! I fear this bastion may not be enough if we fail there.” She shook her head. “GUARDS! PREPARE FOR BATTLE!” The guards gathered around her, assuming combat stances. The alicorns horn lit up, and the entire group flashed away before Riots eyes. The stallion lowered his hoof, and turned to the task at hoof.

Riot stood for a split second, transfixed by the racks upon racks of harnesses and various firearms that would attach to them. Box upon box of ammunition sat stack nearby, along with racks of armour.

Riot went to work immediately.

A surprisingly light plate carrier that incorporated hard ceramic plate, supporting hardened steel overlays with kevlar covers and bindings went over Riots uniform. It was followed by a bandoleer of special shotgun ammunition and several large drum magazines . The last bit of gear was a shiny new drum fed automatic shotgun with a spiffy looking bayonet; three concussion grenades, and three magic laced HE grenades. A flak helmet and a pair of tinted goggles completed the ensemble after a redistribution of his personal effects.

“Rarity, eat your heart out.” Riot managed a grim smirk as he galloped out if the armoury and past several other ponies who were outfitting themselves. The armed and armoured stallion galloped towards the main lobby, where the machine gun crews were chattering away at targets that Riot couldn’t see. What he could see however, was the civilians who were desperately trying to make it up the steps to the door as black carapaced attackers zipped by overhead. Cursing loudly, Riot galloped out the door and up to the small group. As tracers rounds snapped by overhead, Riot tromped down the steps as fast as he could. Seeing a wounded stallion being supported by a younger colt and an older mare, Riot threw up a light blue shield around them and lifted the stallion onto his back.

“Come on! Inside! GO!” Riot hefted the stallion and pushed the other two forward, despite their best intentions. As he passed through the doors, Riot felt a round punch through his shield and smack into his side, causing him to wheeze form the impact. He galloped past the sandbag emplacements that had been hastily erected and placed the coughing stallion on the ground. Before Riot could think for a moment, a pair of ponies clad in armour and white helmets practically jumped on the stallion, dragging him back to the relative safety of one of the offset rooms. The other two ponies who had been with him were quick to follow.


Riot lifted his head in time to see another group headed towards the doors. Just as they passed through, there was a flash of light, and two of the ponies were pushed back. The window gunners swiveled, and sprayed the pair liberally. Riots jaw dropped for a moment as the frontmost pony was blown to pieces under the heavy fire. Riot was about to jump on the crews, when the survivors fur shed away, leaving black carapace and hate filled eyes. The surviving changeling collapsed under the fire, his body blowing to pieces under the assault.


Riot turned his gaze towards the voice. It was Doctor Stuart, clad in ballistic plate, just as he was. “Captain Riot, I’m glad I found you again!”

The armoured stallion nickered. “I need a squad of ponies to hit Canterlot Castle!”

Dr. Stuart ducked behind a wall, just as a trio of shots punched through one of the riot shutters. “I already have a squad of volunteers!! The royal guard were disarmed earlier today, so the princesses have only themselves for protection, and the national guard are an hour out!”

Riot swore. “Fuck! What are we waiting for then?!”

“Follow me! We’re heading for the back entrance!” The doctor spun around, and started galloping away. Riot spat, and quickly followed. They passed fire port after fire port; various injured soldiers firing out, while doctors and nurses took care of any who were injured. For as many ponies who spat angry death out of the armoured slits, there were just as many, if not more ammunition runners. Ponies who galloped by with bandoleer over bandolier of ammunition and heavy cartridges ducked around the corners, their hooves clattering across the linoleum.

Riot weaved past a gun crew who were manning a M2 machine gun. There was a loud KA-RUMP, and the wall cracked in several places. “Take out that changeling! He’s got our number!” Riot shook off the layers of dust that had fallen on him from the roofing just as the crew focused their fire. The doctor was well ahead of him, motioning for him to follow.

Galloping to catch up, Riot found himself out in the courtyard. To his surprise, the courtyard was bathed in flickering multi-coloured light. Looking over, Riot saw several unicorns huddled in a sandbagged foxhole, and a radio like machine that they were all pumping magic into. The machines light had the entire compound surrounded by a shield that could, and did, repel any and all attacks made on it. A pair of anti-air guns were positioned around in the event of a failure. Riot tore his attention away from the group of shielders, and to the eleven or so armed soldiers who stood at the ready. As Riot galloped up, he could see that the unit contained ponies from seemingly every branch of the equestrian military, and they all, more or less, had been patients at the hospital. To his relief, he saw several Mareines in the group. The unit snapped to attention as he approached, a fast salute going up before he could order them to stand easy.

“Stand easy! Doc, gimme a sitrep!”

The doctor pointed at a pair of thick steel doors that were being protected by a pair of heavy machine guns. “Take that gate out into the market district!, from there you’ll move up through the noble quarter and into the royal grounds! It’s imperative that the princesses be kept from harm! Civilians are secondary!” The doctor saluted. “I need to stay here and make sure that we stay secure! Any civilians or royal guardsponies you find, send here!” At that, the doctor about faced and galloped away.

Riot shut his eyes and let out a slow breath. “ALRIGHT! Saddle up Hell Hounds!!” He cantered up to the gate, his goggles sliding down over his eyes.“You lads know your objectives! Everypony, eyes on and safeties off!!”

The sound of twelve sets of rifles, machine guns, and shotguns being racked and chambered filled his ears. Riot cracked a smile, and point a hoof towards the gate. “Move it! We don’t stop until these bastards are DEAD!” Things seemed to be going well as they charged past the gate.

That is, until they left the compound and the safety of the shield.

As they entered contested ground, multiple rifle shots sounded out, and the dirt around them kicked up. “Take cover!” Riot roared as the gate machine guns opened fire on the attackers.

A flight of changelings surfaced above them, intent of taking down the group as they traversed the market. They weren’t expecting the returning fire from the twelve armed soldiers. Riots squad had their weapons pointed over the edges of the stalls and overturned carts, and were firing on any carapaced flyer that got too close for comfort.

The air was thick with smoke and dust, obscuring everyponies vision. Taking the brief chance, Riot looked out over the sprawling mountain city. Many of the once proud buildings were aflame, and several looked as though they had been bombed. Riot wondered if the changelings had ordnance, but found his questions answered when a trio of changeling dive bombers plowed through a four story building and plugged the street before his squad.



Riot turned his shotgun towards the insectoid invaders, his eyes narrowing as the trigger pulled. The shotgun belched its atonal music as it ripped into the changelings; sundering chitten and flesh with ease. Flicking out his bayonet, Riot ran one of the survivors through, and threw it roughly to the ground. “KEEP MOVING!” He roared over the din of gunfire and droning wings.

The Captain hadn’t even crossed the street when another trio of dive bombing squads crashed down; one of which plowed through a tall clock tower. A thunderous crack filled the air, and the tower gave way. The heavy construct plummeted downwards, and smashed into the space between Riot and his squad. The ground buckled, and the stallion found himself tumbling downwards into the black.

“Ho-holy shit! Captain! Hold on, I’ll g-get this thing o-off you!” Riot groaned as if a great weight were being lifted off his chest. Light streamed in, causing the stallion to cover his face with a hoof.

Somepony shook his shoulder. “Captain! Are y-you alright?”

You won’t steal this from me by being weak! Get up!
Riot rolled over, ignoring the biting pain of broken glass in his flank as he got to his hooves. “I’m fine... Gimme a sitrep.” The pony before him was eerily quiet. Riot growled in return. “Sitrep. NOW.”

“S-sir… We took four casualties, and some of the squad got split off from us. We expect to regroup with them shortly, sir.”

Riot grunted in acknowledgement. “At least it isn’t winter.” He straightened up, using his magic to brush the broken shards of glass from his coat and pluck the remainders from his flesh. He let out a breath as he looked about. Beyond himself, there was only the one other armoured form crouched inside the broken maintenance tunnel where they apparently had fallen. Riot looked over at the pony whom had pulled the bit of wreckage away. “Name and rank soldier.”

The pony blinked, and stumbled over his own words. “Co-corporal May, S-sir!” The stallion- no, the colt saluted. May looked barely over eighteen.

“What unit did you serve with before May?”

“23rd Artillery, Sir!”

Riot cocked an eyebrow. “Artillery?”

“I volunt-teered for this mission sir. W-we all did.”

The captain nodded, taking in the information as best he could. Thirty percent casualties.... “Where are the others?”

Corporal May perked up. “Sergeant Poll has us holding here for the moment while we patch ourselves up. I came down looking for any stray gear. Lucky I found you, we don’t know what to do...”

Riot nodded as he stretched out his limbs and checked his gear. “Lead me too ‘em. We’ve got a mission to complete.”


Corporal May led Riot up a small maintenance shaft, and through the remains of a broken record studio. Riot couldn’t help but think that Vinyl would have been more than at home in a place like this. As he let out a muted sigh, Riot saw a flash of yellow out of the corner of his eye. Turning his head, he found nothing but destroyed merchandise. The corporal led him forward, up to the second floor. “Passcode Victory!”

“Come on up Corporal!”

The Corporal nodded at Riot, then pushed forward. Riot trotted after him, and found the squad huddled down in the remains of a recording studio. The other three soldiers looked up, and immediately scrambled to salute. Riot scowled and motioned for them to get down. “Never salute an officer in the field, unless you want them dead.” He pointed at the windows. “Snipers look for that.”

“Snipers sir? Do you think the changelings would do that?” One of the soldiers spoke; a burnt orange mare.

Riot chuckled. “It’s what I would do.” He shook his head slowly before sitting down amongst the squad survivors. “Alright lads, who does what and what do we have.”

A gruff looking stallion with a rifle battlesaddle held up his hoof. “Sergeant Poll, Royal Rifles. Looks like I’m your XO sir.”

The orange mare held up her hoof and she rocked slowly back and forth, a SMAW launcher cradled gently in her hooves. “Private Bitterleek. Demolitions.”

The teal pegasi peering out the window spoke as she ducked back. “Private first class Dust. Recon.”

Corporal May smiled weakly. “You already know me sir.”

Riot nodded slowly, glancing over equipment. “Alright, for those of you who don’t know, I’m Captain Venture. 221st Mobile Infantry, ex-special forces.” He took off his helmet for a moment and pushed out a small dent with his magic. “Now, Sergeant, come over here and chat for a moment. The rest of you, as you were.”

The sergeant clambered over, his ears perking at every shot and blast. “Sir.”

Riot nodded to the other stallion as he pulled out a small tourists map of canterlot. “Now, the hospital is about here.” Riot scribbled on the map with a pencil. “We made it about a click and a half before the tower fell” Another scribble. “That means we’re...” The sergeant pointed his hoof at the map.

“Here sir. The Newline Market is only a couple blocks east.” Sergeant Poll sat back down, his rifle hugging his side tightly.

Riot looked over the map for a moment, then drew out a path. “Alright, squad, gather ‘round.”
As the other ponies gathered around, Riot laid the map down, allowing them all a good look. “We, are here. Objective Castle Echo is here. We’ll travel up through the merchant quarter, and enter on the west side. The royal guard barracks is on the other side if memory serves, so we should be able to move around any serious fighting. Our original plan to move through the noble quarter is shot to hell, seeing as we don’t have the ponies to push that far ahead.”

Private Bitterleek held up her hoof. “Sir, what do we do when we get to the princesses?”

“We protect them with our lives.” Riots answer caused the mares jaw to clamp shut audibly. “No matter the cost.” Riot glanced over Bitterleeks gear again. “Where’s your rifle?”

Bitterleek frowned. “I lost it when the tower came down...” Riot unclipped his service pistol and passed it gingerly to her. Riot brought his trench gun to bear and checked the load. The mare looked over the pistol, but simply nodded. “Thank you sir.”

Riot cracked his neck and rolled his shoulders. “You kids ready to roll?”

The sergeant nodded; looking over the survivors. “Yes sir.”

A helmeted head peered around the corner, taking in the street and its surrounding buildings. A grey hoof waved, and four ponies sped across the street. They were quickly followed by the last figure. The sounds of the invasion filled the air, amongst other things. The squad ran into civilians intermittently, and they always pointed them towards the hospitals direction.

Riot leaned against the alley wall, sweat clinging to his fur and armour. He let out a breath and peered around the corner. Somepony screamed in terror.

Down the street, one of Riots Mareines galloped toward them, with a group of armed changelings in tow. A shot rang out, and the soldier went down hard. Riot held his hoof up. “Everypony down!” Peeking back over, he saw a massive horde of the creatures further down the street; and the market, which had apparently become their staging area. The group of changelings started working on the screaming pony, tearing his armour off in sections as they pinned him to the ground.

“Sir, we have to help him!” Private Dust stared at Riot with high hopes in his answer.

The stallion kept a neutral face as he spoke. “There’s too many of them to take quietly, or safely. If we fire on them, we give ourselves away to the main force.” Riot closed his eyes for a moment. “Cross the street, one at a time. While they’re distracted.”

His squad obviously had a disliking for his plan, but they stayed quiet. Private Dust mumbled something under her breath, but followed the order. Quickly and quietly, just as before, they crossed the street with the changeling none the wiser as they slowly tortured the screaming mareine to death.

Moving cautiously through the streets, Riot did his best to keep his bearings with the castle in the distance. Despite the rumblings in the distance and the fighting all around them, they could easily tell that the fight wasn’t going well for equine kind. It was a miracle that the squad hadn’t been spotted by the flitting forms that filled the sky. As they passed the edge of the market district; Riot could could see the castle grounds growing closer. They had a few high society homes to pass, then they were would be at the objective.

The sound of wing beats filled the air, and Riot jabbed a hoof towards a blown out shop. “Move!” He ordered, scampering off the cobblestone. The rest of the squad was ahead of him, and thankfully, they were protected from sight within the shop as a squad of changelings dropped a royal guardsmare into the cobble. The mare yelled, kicking at the changelings. Riot scanned the area, gauging the distance they had put between themselves and the main horde. “Poll, Dust, rifles on them. I’ll hit em, you take care of the stragglers.”

The pair nodded, bringing their rifles to bear. Dust muttered something under her breath as she checked the sights on her rifle. When she looked back, she could just barely make out the spear like form of an ovipositor sliding out of its abdomen. Dust recoiled, and hissed towards Riot. “Sir! It’s an Ovi! We-” She looked over, and to her surprise, the stallion wasn’t there.”

Squirming and fighting as best she could, the royal guardsmares eyes went wide in terror as the ovipositor slid out, and leveled itself with her chest. She sucked in her last breath, and clamped her eyes shut. When the killing blow didn’t come, she cracked an eye open. Just in time to see a stallion appear seemingly out of thin air, and the breeding changelings chest get vaporized by an automatic shotgun. Rifle shots cracked out, the rounds taking down more changelings. The stallions shotgun roared again, and all of her attackers lay dead on the cobble. The mare sucked in a ragged breath as her adrenaline coursed through her veins. Before she could protest, she was dragged back to an empty shop.

Riot looked over the mare, before looking back out at the street. May scooted forward, his hooves shaking lightly. “I-I have first aid training, I’ll take a look at those for you.” He lifted up a ragged looking first aid kit, and started going over the shaking guardsmares wounds. During the downtime, Riot reloaded the drum on his shotgun, and Poll slid up to speak to his squad leader.

“Sir, permission to speak freely.”

Riot wiped a bit of blood from his goggles before speaking. “Go ahead Poll.”

The stallion nodded, reloading his rifle. “Sir, I think if we cut down through the back alleys, we’ll save ourselves time and ammo. The main streets are just too dangerous.” He looks back at the squad. “It’s your call though. We’d save more civilians this way.”

“We’ll take the back alleys, but we need to pick up the pace. Time is wasting.” Riot turned to the squad. “Saddle up ponies we’re out of here.” He glanced over at the still shaking mare. “Can you make it to the veteran hospital on your own?” When the mare nodded, he managed a smile. “Good. Keep low, and don’t pick fights you can’t win. Stay away from the market district.” The mare nodded, saluting quickly before galloping away. “Okay, let’s move it ponies.


As they came to a halt at the end of another back alley street, Riot called for a halt. “Hold up, Poll, check that street there.” Riot glanced about, but one shop in particular caught his attention. In one of the upper windows, a yellow figure had just ducked down, out of sight. Riot scrunched up his muzzle. “We’ll take cover in that shop over there.”

Sergeant Poll looked back from the pair of binoculars that Dust had lent him. “Sir?”

Riot held up his hoof. “Just trust me. Poll, is the street clear?”

The stallion nodded, hoofing the binoculars back to Dust. “Yes sir.”

Riot nodded. “Good, Dust, you first, then if we don’t get shot at, Corporal May goes with Bitterleek.” Riot rolled his shoulders. “Sergeant, you’re with me.”

Private Dust let out a long breath as she tightened the straps on her helmet. “I’m gonna get shot.” She bolted out past the corner of the building, and in through the broken shop window across the street. After a moment, the mare popped back into view and waved. The coast was clear.

Riot held his breath as May and Bitterleek ran across the street. He felt his heart stop for a moment as May hit the ground and skittered across the cobblestone. Riot ground his teeth in anger. To his surprise, the small stallion scrambled up after a second and dove through the window.

“He stumbled... He fuckin’ stumbled.” Riot shook his head as he got the wave. “Ready Sergeant?”

The stallion didn’t answer.

Riot turned to face the younger pony. “Poll, what’s the holdup?” Poll didn’t answer, instead he stared blankly out at the sky. Riot shook the stallion roughly. “Poll!” Riot slapped the pony across the muzzle, finally registering a response.

Sergeant Poll nodded; dragging his eyes away from the sky. “Sir.”

Riot scowled inwardly. “Alright, on the count of three. Three, two, one, Now!” Riot bolted from his cover, just as Poll did the same. Riots hooves covered the distance in what seemed to be a second. The old cobblestone was so worn it was practically flat. Turning his attention to the stallion who had lagged in his running, Riot called out.

“Poll, hurry it-”


The sergeant jerked mid stride, his face frozen in pain as he hit the ground and slid to a stop. The spray of the bullet spattered the ground as the round tore through his neck. The stallion convulsed on the cobblestone, his hooves outstretched towards the four ponies huddled in the shop. Private Dust screamed his name, and made a move to run out and grab the stallion. Riots hooves wrapped around her; putting an end to her attempt. The mare thrashed against him as she tried to get to the downed pony.

“Let me go you piece of shit!” She fought roughly against Riots hold.

“If you go out there, you’re both dead!” Riot tightened his grip as Poll tried to crawl towards them. Dust was sobbing as Riot held her in place.

“NO! FUCKING LET ME GO! POLL!!” She held out her hoof to the stallion who laid on the road, no longer moving or breathing as he leaked out onto the cobblestone. She collapsed against Riot, her hooves beating weakly against his armoured hooves. “You...You fucking piece of shit...” Dust pulled away from Riot, falling to the ground. She pounded a hoof against the ground. “I...”

Riot stood up, and did his best to avoid looking at the bloody corpse and the sobbing mare. He didn’t say anything as Bitterleek laid a supportive hoof on her shoulder, or when Dust clamped her into a hug. Riot looked about the buildings interior, only seeing a wrecked storefront and a small staircase leading up.

Something hit the floor upstairs.
Riot readied his shotgun, and stalked towards the stairwell. His eyes narrowed as he passed the first corner; the barrel of his trench gun raising to compensate for the stairs. Moving as silently as he could, Riot tredded up the stairwell and onto the second floor. His ears perked at the sound of voices coming from down the hall.

“-elp us, we-”

“You will stay here! That’s an order soldier!”

“Shush both of you! We’ll all die if-”

“Gentlecolts, I shall investigate the noise.”

“You’ll stay put dammit!”

“Military police asshole. I don’t take orders from you.”

Riot frowned, unsure as to what he was about to walk in on. Trotting forward, he raised his shotgun and pressed forward. One of the hall doors swung open, and Riot swung the barrel of his weapon over to meet the new threat. A dapper looking stallion stood in the door, a shocked expression frozen on his face as he found himself muzzle to muzzle with twelve gauge death. The stallions monocle fell away, and he fought for words.

Riot lowered his shotgun and motioned for the civilian to move out of the way. The stallion bowed, and backed up into the room. A royal guardspony panicked as Riot entered, lifting a menacing looking pistol up to Riots head.

“Stay right there!”The stallion took a shaky step forward. His expression set flat, Riot turned to face the stallion, who shook in his tarnished golden armour. The guard took a step closer, his voice raising. “Stay the-” The guards words died in his throat as he finally took notice of the shotgun that was now level with his chin.

“Sit down.”

The guardscolt dropped the pistol, and sat down against the wall. Riot kicked the pistol away and looked about the room. A tough looking earth pony holding an M240G smirked, and went back to trying to change out the melted barrel in his gun. He kept working for a moment, before his head snapped up. “Riot!?”

Said stallion perked up at his name being called. An honest smile spread across his face when he recognized the earth pony as none other than Sled.

“Sled! You’re alive!” Riot laughed clopping the stallion on the shoulder. “Shit, I was worried you’d taken a desk job!” Riot cocked his head as the rest of his squad trotted in through the door, each one taking in the room. He chuckled mirthfully, his happiness draining away quickly. He noticed that Dust wasn’t among the group. He motioned to May to go back downstairs, and thankfully, the stallion understood.

The large Earth Pony stepped forward slowly, staring at Riot in disbelief. “Captain Venture? I thought you retired…what the heck are you doing in Canterlot? I thought you were through with the city life?”

Riot chuckled, his eyes darting out to the window. “I’m on a secret mission to save Equestria. Wanna help?” He smirked, looking back over towards Sled and the civilians. “It’ll be like that time in Fell Hoof.”

Sled grinned at the Riot. “Fell Hoof? So you mean that we’re all likely to die in a most horrible fashion?” The stallion chuckled, shaking his head. “Sure, got nothing better to do sir. Just let me get this barrel switched out.”

“Sounds good Sergeant, talk with my squad here when you have the chance.” He turned, counting heads.

“Mr. Riot, what brings you to our quaint city?”

Riots attention was drawn to a grey mare with a light purple bow-tie. He smiled weakly. “Hey Octavia, fancy meeting you here.” He chuckled lightly. “Like I said to Sled here, secret mission to save Equestria.”

Octavia chuckled as well, then shrugged. “Oh I imagined such.”

One of the civilians stood up from the huddled group. “Are...Are you the rescue team?” When Riot shook his head, the mare sank back down to the floor. “We’re...We’re doomed...”

Octavia turned to face the stallion who had spoken. “Shush now, Riot is one of the best at his job. And his job is protecting ponies. Isn’t that right, Captain?” She smiled at him, before trotting back over to where she had been sitting.

Thanks for the vote of confidence Octavia.

The royal guard member stood up; looking perturbed. Riot looked back at the group he had found, and couldn’t help but shake his head. “How many of you have military training?”

Out of the ten or so ponies whom he had found, only two lifted their hooves. Sled lifted his hoof for a moment, as did the stallion in the suit with the monocle. The guardscolt refused to answer. Riot cursed under his breath. “Alright, listen up. We’re headed for the castle to try and support the princesses.” Taking a breath, Riot leaned against the wall as he spoke. “Anyone who is either unwilling or unable to fight will be directed to our safezone near the merchant quarter.”

The guardscolt stood up, veins on his forehead and neck bulging dramatically. “YOU LISTEN HERE! I’M THE RANKING OFFICER HERE! I ISSUE THE ORDERS, AND MY ORDER IS TO STAY PUT!” The stallion shook with anger, his eyes locked onto Riot.

Riot paused, his eyes growing unfocused for a split second, before he grabbed the stallion by the collar; slamming him into the wall. A surprised yell sounded out from the civilians, and the stallion. Riot drew close, snarling at the pony. “You’re not the ranking officer here anymore! I won’t let your cowardice kill anypony!” Riots horn lit up, and tore the bars from the guards collar, before pushing him down.

The guardscolt shifted in his spot, but quickly halted his actions when Riot plugged his shotgun against Skies head. “Not a fucking muscle.” He regarded the surprised ponies before him. “This is Do or Die. I won’t think less of anypony here who decides to fall back.”

Sled finally slapped the new barrel into place on his 240. “Not a chance I’d miss this shit sir. I’m with you until the end, as always.”

The unicorn held his hoof up and cleared his throat. “I may not be a stallion of uniform, but I have received formal officer training. My name is Fancy Pants, and I would be honoured to follow you into battle, captain.”

Riot nodded, and tossed the pins at Sled. “Congrats on the promotion Second Lieutenant.” Looking over at Fancy Pants, Riot spoke again. “Welcome to the 221st, Conscript Fancy Pants. Survive this and you may become a soldier yet.” He looked over at Bitterleek and motioned towards the stairwell. “Get the others up here. Now, I need a sitrep and I needed it ten minutes ago.”

Sled nodded, his eyes locked on the bars in his hoof. “Well, at least they’re not captains bars this time…” He shook his head before looking at Riot, never once looking toward the guardscolt on the floor. “It was a blitzkrieg sir, they either hit the guard’s main armory first, or they had ponies inside before this kicked off. Granted this is all an educated guess, but all that I’ve seen these critters using is our own damn ordnance against us. The palace guards had nothing more than ceremonial spears to hold them back was a slaughter...those brave bastards held their ground though, to the last it looked like.” He slowly began pinning the gold bars to his collar, wincing as each bar snapped into place. “It looks like a majority of their initial assault was focused on the palace, but they’ve spread all over the city since then, leaving a relatively small force to hold the palace gates, with their main staging areas being located to the south and east.” He frowned, looking towards the window. “If that gorram sniper wasn’t out there, we could just keep moving along these back alleys and come at the palace from the west side.”

Nodding, Riot peeked out the window and down the street. “You know where that sniper is?”

Fancy Pants nodded. “As a matter of fact, yes.”

Riot smiled darkly. “Good.” He turned, taking in the group. “How many civilians are here?”

Octavia perked up, looking over the other ponies, who had stayed quiet for the most part. “Six or so Riot. I don’t know how we’re going to get them out of here though, or to the safe zone you mentioned earlier.”

Admittedly, Riot didn’t know either. He hadn’t been anticipating such heavy losses, and he hadn’t expected having groups of civilians that needed escort back the way he came with less than the optimal amount of soldiers at his command. Riot rubbed the bridge of his nose with a hoof. He could split his forces, sending the civilians and a good portion of his troops to the hospital, or he could leave the civilians to their own devices. Leaving the objective behind wasn’t an option.

“Riot?” Octavia stared at him, silently begging for an answer.

Riot let out a breath. “I need a volunteer.”

Bitterleek held up her hoof as she stood next to a despondent Dust. “Sir, I’m your pony.”

Smiling, Riot nodded to her. His smile disappeared when he regarded the guardscolt. “Get up.”

The stallion snorted, and slowly got to his hooves. “What.” He snarled.

“I’m giving you one chance. The Private here is your squad leader. You will follow her orders to the letter, and you will give your life in necessary to protect these civilians. If you don’t.” Riot leaned in a bit closer, and kept his voice low. “I will find you, and I will correct the mistake. Do I make myself clear?” His voice quaked, as if something were pushing it.

The guard sneered, his gaze dropping. “Yes sir.”

Riot nodded, and pressed the guards pistol into back to him. “Good.” He turned, regarding Octavia. “Vinyl’s in the vault beneath our safety zone. She’ll be happy to see you safe.”

The mare smiled happily; surprise in her eyes. “She’s here? Oh dear…” Octavia trailed off, looking out the window as Riot regarded Fancy Pants.

“Conscript Pants. Show me where that Sniper is. The rest of you, wait till it’s clear before moving.”

Riot led his three pony squad forward through the buildings, doing his best to avoid the main street. Private Dust, Conscript Pants, and Second Lieutenant Sled followed closely behind him. Edging forward, Riot finally spotted the sniper's roost.

Letting out a breath, Riot looked down to where Polls body sat. Looking back, he motioned for the other three ponies to come up. Once they were within earshot, he spoke. “Stay here and make sure that bastard doesn’t bail out.” His eyes went back to Polls collapsed body, then to Dust. She grimaced as she looked away from him, then nodded. Focusing on the building and the wrought iron fence that would surely get in his way if he didn’t do things exactly right, Riot tensed.

He’s going to paaaaay.

Bolting out from cover, Riot sped towards the building.


The shot ricocheted off the ground next to Riot, kicking up clumps of rock and dirt. With a loud grunt, Riot plowed through the door shoulder first. The door broke off its hinges; the wood and metal clattering loudly on the floor. Upstairs, Riot could hear the sniper scrambling for the window, before a succession of shots sent it back in.

Moving towards the stairs, Riot brought his shotgun up and moved as silently as he could.


As he set hoof on the third step, a wild burst of low calibre rounds sprayed through the stairwell, sending him down.


Hugging the stairs for cover, Riot heard the deadbuck’s click coming from the SMG, and a resounding thud as the sniper burst out of his roost. Bolting , Riot bounded upwards three steps at a time. The sniper was galloping down the hall, towards a side window in the building. It turned its head towards him and sneered.

Riot retorted with his shotgun.


The 00 buckshot burst out of the shotguns barrel and covered the distance faster than Riot ever could have hoped to. Tearing the carapace away and blowing the flesh below into fat chunks, the changeling hit the floor and bounced. It screeched in pain as it tried to pump its pellet riddled wings and kick with the leg that hung unnaturally by sinew and scrap muscle.

Collapsing to the floor, the creature back pedaled as Riot drew closer.

The sound of Riot tossing the weapon to the ground caused the changeling to look up in pained surprise, then in terror.

Pressing his hoof onto the changelings forehead, he forced its head back, and plunged his knife into its chest. Pulling out the 8” blade, he stabbed again, and again, and again, until the creature could only gurgle out its breaths. Riot huffed in anger, his bayonet sticky with gore. letting the changelings head go, he watched as it fell to the floor, bleeding and sputtering out its breaths. Whipping the blade off on the changelings tattered wings; Riot wrapped the bloody wreck in his magic and started towards the sniper roost.

Riot growled, his lips pulling back in a sneer. ”Come here you little SHIT.”

Fancy Pants did his best to stay low, lest he earn the wrath of the many changelings that flitted through the air overhead. Running a hoof through his now dirty mane, he looked over at Second Lieutenant Sled.

“Worried Lieutenant?”

Sled pursed his lips in thought. “It’s too damn quiet, maybe there was more than just a sniper up there. I should go take a look and see if he’s ok-”


The sound of shattering glass drew both their attentions back to the building that Riot had charged into just in time to see a carapaced figure plunge down and land flat on the wrought iron fence; impaling itself with such force that its throat tore open and its head lolled back like a broken toy as thick viscous blood spurted out.

Looking upwards in abject horror, they saw the captain standing in a smashed out bay window.

“It’s clear! I’ll scout ahead, the rest of you, through that alley!” He called out to them before disappearing.

Fancy Pants looked over at Sled and tried to force a smile. “I... I do believe he’s done this before.”

To which Sled nodded. “You have no idea…” The black and white stallion muttered quietly.

As they cantered towards the alleyway, Dust broke off from the group long enough to spit on the mangled corpse.

Treading carefully through the broken shells of several expensive condos, Riot did his best to scan for hostiles, before they could find his squad. Most of the buildings had suffered damage from dive bombers and gunfire. Passing through every empty home caused a feeling of unease to settle on the air. All those homes… Just… empty. Not even any bodies.

Riot shook his head, ignoring the creeping concern in the back of his mind.

Passing over a pile of broken glass, Riot heard something that caused him to freeze solid. He swiveled his ears, trying to catch the noise again.

There it was.

It was somepony… Crying? They had to be close. Riot frowned, and stalked closer to the noise, his weapon at the ready.

Doctor Usineighn cried out again in agony as she tried in vain to free her hind leg from the fallen debris. As she pulled, there was a sickening pop, and she collapsed, howling in agony.

“Oh… F-Faust… Please, send help!” She sobbed, the dust caking on with her tears. As she attempted to push at the debris again with shaky hooves, she froze. The feeling of another being in the room caused her mane to stand on end, even through the pain.

”Doctor Usineighn MP, PhD.”

The mare looked up in surprise, before recoiling in fear. “I-Iron Venture…” She gasped in pain, her blood slowly pooling around her leg. “Please… Please, you have to help me…” She begged; her limbs shaking violently.

The stallion regarded her coldly, his eyes flickering in the low light. Riot closed his eyes, shutting out the argument in his head. “And why should I do that? So you can hound me? Interrogate me? Threaten my family?” He glared at her, causing her to shrink.

“Please… I was just doing my job!” She sobbed again, before looking back at the rubble.

“So was I.” Riot growled. He closed his eyes for a minute. When he opened, the room had gained two in its population.

Mumbles crouched next to the mare, looking over the wound and the rubble. “This is bad Riot. I doubt we’d be able to lift this. The leg will probably have to come off.”

”I’ve got a better idea.” Shiv slid up beside Riot, and brought his attention back to Usineighn. ”Savour this. She threatened everything we had, and now she’s begging for mercy.” Shiv smiled broadly, showing off his rows of razor sharp teeth. ”She deserves to suffer~”

The lemony stallion stood, shaking his head. “No, no she doesn’t. Riot, helping her makes you the better pony! What would you want Hunter to do?”

Riot shook his head, before covering his eyes. “Just shut up for a moment. Let me think.” Shiv and Mumbles ignored him; getting in each others muzzles.

Shaking like a bleeding leaf, Usineighn cried out. “PLEASE! You have to-”

“EVERYPONY SHUT THE FUCK UP!” Riot roared as Mumbles and Shiv started arguing with each other. The moment he yelled, they both clammed up. Riot shook his head as he shuddered in anger. “Just shut the fuck up! I need to think! I need to-” He stopped mid sentence.

Usineighn lay in a puddle of her own blood; half her head missing. A twelve gauge shell sat in the now growing pool of blood. Riot backed up, his mouth moving up and down, despite the lack words being spoken.

Nicely done

Riot shook his head, and cantered to the next building, eager to leave the scene behind.

The squad had nearly jumped out of their coats when Riot had appeared next to them in a small shop overlooking the castle gardens. Thankfully, none of them fired on him, or alerted the changelings. With the castle in reach, Riot called for a short break to plan out their attack.

Huddled in a ritzy building that bordered the edge of the gardens, all that stood between them and the castle was a large gate and roughly ten changeling soldiers. From their vantage, Riot could see that the battle was most definitely NOT going in favour for the equine side. Long shafts of smoke filled the air, and one could easily hear the magical blasts coming from within the castle over the standard explosives used in the city.

It had only been eighty minutes since the invasion had started.

Riot stretched his limbs as he leaned against the wall. He had emptied the shotgun, and was now was loading in an alternating load of 00 buckshot and solid slugs. Sled had his M240G cradled against his body like it was his child.

Riot rubbed his ear, before snapping towards the window. He seemed to relax a bit, but not by much.

Sled furrowed his brow; watching the older stallion fidget. “Sir? You alright?”

Riot nodded. “I’m fine! Just… Think that sniper blew out one of my ear drums...” He stopped his sentence after a blur of grey and red passed by his vision and out the window. “Can it.” Turning, he peeked out the window.

Twenty or so castle staff and royal guards ponies had been rounded up and paraded out front of the gardens. A changeling with a megaphone fluttered above them.


At the end of his short speech, the civilians were forced to stop before the castle wall.

Riot growled savagely. “TAKE THEM DOWN.”

Several changelings with cylindric backpacks trotted up as the ponies were herded into a tight group, then penned in by hazy green magic. Riot scowled and scrambled for his PSG-1, just as the flamethrowers opened up on the group before anypony could react. The ponies on the receiving end screamed in horror and terror as the flames licked over them, burning away fur and melting flesh away like cheap plastic.

Riot let out a enraged roar and sighted up the first of the flamethrowers.

KRAK-KRAKKRAKKRAKKRAK-Click Firing until he was dry, Riot tossed the rifle to the side as he snorted in rage. He pulled out his shotgun and dove from the window.

Sled and the rest of the team scrambled into firing positions; opening up on anything that moved. The flamethrowers had exploded, turning their operators and squad members into flaming pyrs. The changelings tried to focus fire on the small shop, but any who poked out of cover were quickly given more unnatural holes.

Crossing the street in a moment, Riot dove on the survivors. One of the surviving changelings ducked out of cover to fire at the building, but only received a face full of steel for his efforts. Riot twisted his shoulders, sending the changeling down so he could blow its face off with a burst of buckshot. With a savage roar, he leveled the weapon on the survivors and held down the trigger.

The survivors jerked and twisted as they were ripped apart, but one lucky bug managed to break away as his comrades were shredded.

One of the changelings had broken into a full run in an effort to presumably warn others. Riot took notice of the megaphone that dangled off a lanyard. With his shotgun raised, Riot fired.

The slug sailed true, and buried itself deep into the changelings back, sending it down and skidding across the once clean castle grounds. As the changeling screamed and pain and crawled forward on its front hooves, Riot brought his weapon up, and then smashed it down on the bugs face. He brought it back up, then down; again, and again, and again. He finally stopped when the Changelings skull caved inwards.

As the rest of his squad regrouped on him, Riot racked the slide on the shotgun after loading his last magazine in. Turning his head to them, they balked for a moment. Riot growled out his order. “Secure the princesses at any cost.”

Turning his back on them, Riot broke into a gallop towards the western castle doors.

The castle was in complete disarray; various ab-hoc defences were blown apart, and blood stained many of the walls and expensive pieces of art work. Seldom they would come across several guard bodies, all of which were savaged in the worst ways possible. each sight would cause Riot to scowl even further. His squad reacted uniquely, but the captain hardly even noticed their presence at that point.

They often ran across solitary changelings, or small patrols. Riot ensured that they were taken down quickly, and savagely.

Bringing his bayonet down into the bugs throat, Riot twisted to the side, sending it down into the marble floor. He gave it a kick for good measure.

Sled watched Riot, a knowing look on his face. “Sir...maybe you should hold up for a minute? Catch your breath?”

Riot shook his head, before wiping a bit of blood off his muzzle. “I’m fine Sled. we need to keep moving.”

Sled shook his head as he walked up to Riot. “You’re not fine...don’t try and tell me you are, I’m one of the few ponies you can’t lie to.” He put his hoof on the stallion’s shoulder. “You can stay here if you’d like Captain, provide rear’ve done enough for Equestria…” He leaned in for the last bit, whispering so that only Riot could hear him.

Riot turned his head towards the other stallion, his eyes boring holes into Sleds. He leaned in close, his whisper barely covering a snarl. “I will NOT fall back, we don’t stop ‘til it’s over.” He turned away, and trotted ahead. The rest of the squad cantered up, giving Sled a worried look.

As they approached another set of doors, the sound of magical battle grew louder and louder. Riot steeled himself as they came up to a large pair of ornate doors, and another set of dead bodies. Turning to his squad, Riot set his jaw.

A Thousand years…

“Ready up.”

A thousand years trapped because of THEM.

Fancy Pants stared at him for a moment before swallowing. He looked over his unarmoured form and frowned. “Excuse me dear sir, but I fear I am... ill suited for combat.”

“Feed ammo for Sled. Stay down.” Riot breathed outwards and straightened his back. “Steel yourselves. It’s about to get nasty.”

With a burst of adrenaline, Riot pushed the door open, and entered the throne room.

Flashes of light periodically lit up the massive room, and one could easily pick out the reason why. A tall changeling was firing bolts of energy at a heavy shield, which was being held up by none other than Twilight and Celestia. Riot could see Princess Luna blasting at Changeling soldiers. One could also see that the battle was going poorly.

“CHRYSALIS! YOU STAND NO CHANCE AGAINST THE POWER OF HARMONY!” Somepony yelled out as Riot sent his squad into cover behind a fallen pillar. He watched as Twilight repulsed shot after shot while the rest of the elements stood behind her.

The changeling who had been identified as Chrysalis cackled with glee. “And what makes you say that worm? Your elements have failed! Your princesses have fallen!” She laughed loudly as her soldiers started surrounding the shield. “Canterlot is mine! REVENGE IS MINE!”

Riot looked over at Sled and Fancy Pants as they finished setting up the machine gun. His sneer turned upright; becoming uncanny and incredibly unnerving. “Kill em’ all.

I will finally have my revenge.

The blurry yellow figment frowned and shook its head. It was soon replaced by Shiv, who grinned manically.

“I’m sorry.”

Sled turned his head and looked at the captain. “Sir?”

Riot bounded over the fallen pillar and broke into a dead run for the tall changeling as he roared.


Sled’s machine chattered to life, spraying hot death over the changeling soldiers, while Dusts grenades blew clumps of them to pieces. The changeling queen severed her attention from gloating to eradicating the new attackers.

Riots hooves pounded over the smooth stone floor as he charged the twisted queen with his bayonet. He fired twice; the buckshot flattening against her armour, and the solid slug being deflected by a directional shield. The queen span toward him, her eyes glowing along with a strange red amulet that hung off her neck. Riot roared his defiance as her horn flashed, and a magical bolt slammed into his head. The impact caused the stallion to lose traction, while the sheer force sent him into a pirouette straight to the ground.


The smell of burning meat filled the air as smoke rose from the captains head. Chrysalis chuckled out loud as the ponies behind the shield cried out in horror. Celestia closed her eyes for a moment as she recognized the grey stallion who now lay dead and charred on the throne room floor.

Chrysalis cast her gaze at the other ponies, and with a flash of her horn, Dust was blown through one of the stained glass windows, while Fancy Pants and Sled were knocked out of the room by an ethereal sledgehammer.


Chrysalis laugh to herself as she gazed into Celestias saddened eyes. “You see? Even the heroic cannot stand before me. All of your defences are mine to toy with.” She chuckled ruefully. “A pathetic display Celestia. I expected better.”


Princess Luna’s bellowing only caused Chrysalis to laugh harder. She went so far as to wipe a tear from her smooth face. “Yell all you want princess, for it was you who damned your ponies! We found your plans, and we turned them against you!” She cackled at her own joke as her magical assault began to force Twilight to her knees.

Everything hurt.

Riot grunted silently as he forced his eye open. The other wouldn’t respond at all, and all he could smell was burning flesh. The twisted queen stood barely three meters away. He lazily looked over at his trench gun, but if the twisted barrel were any indication, he wouldn’t be using it. Forcing himself to his knees, Riot coughed out a globule of deep crimson blood. Everything felt like it was broken or breaking, and something warm and gel-like was running down the left side of his face.

“I.. I can’t…”

Shiv roared in his face. NO! YOU WILL GET UP, AND YOU WILL FINISH THIS!

Riot sputtered blood as he spoke. “I’m... I’m sorry Shiv…”

The uncanny stallion stopped yelling, his smile flattening. If you won’t finish this-

Riots features jerked, his body cracking unnaturally. His muscles tensed, and thickened to the likes of braided steel cable. His wounds snapped shut, and his teeth groaned as they jutted outwards like knives. ”I’ll finish it myself.” Wisps of blood curled up around Shivs body, and it consumed them readily. The uncanny stallion smiled broadly again, finally having a chance to stretch his hooves after twenty eight years of being locked inside Riots head after their initial bargain.

Looking up, Shiv caught Celestias gaze. The royal alicorn shut her eyes, unable to look at him or the destruction around him. Breathing out, Shiv pushed himself up, and the bayonet floated to his side. With a unnatural snarling roar, he charged the changeling queen.

Chrysalis turned to look at the sudden movement to her side, but before she could cast a spell, or redirect her shield, the snarling stallion was upon her, and a knife was being crammed into her chest. “TWENTY EIGHT YEARS!” He roared, his voice echoing across the royal hall. “I WON’T LET YOU RUIN TWENTY EIGHT YEARS OF PLANNING AND TRAINING!” The stallion roared as he ripped one of her limbs from her body with his bare hooves. Chrysalis attempted to scream for her subjects, but was halted when Shiv ripped her throat out with his razor sharp teeth.

Throwing the now lifeless body of the changeling queen to the ground, Shiv shuddered as he stood.

The royal shield dropped, and the princesses approached, with the elements in tow. Luna smiled grimly. “Captain Venture, we knew you were the right pony for-”

The stallion looked back over at them, causing the group to stop in its tracks. Shiv laughed a wheezing, sickly laugh, before turning to them completely, showing the extent of the damage done to him.

Celestia held a hoof before Luna. “That is not Captain Riot.”

Hovering above the rest of the group, Rainbow Dash jabbed a hoof at the stallion. “Then who is it?”

The princesses nodded, and took another step closer. Celestia narrowed her eyes slightly. “Yes creature, what are you, and why have you taken my pony?”

Shiv snarled, glaring at both princesses with all of his soul consuming hatred. ”MY NAME, IS CHIVALROUS BLADE.”

Celestia frowned. “I don’t know you Chivalrous, please answer my-”

YOU BETRAYED ME; TRAPPED MY SOUL INSIDE A MASK FOR A THOUSAND YEARS! THE ONLY REASON I’M STILL NOT THERE IS BECAUSE YOU SENT SOME SCARED FOAL WHO COULDN’T EVEN READ TO A MEAT GRINDER!” Shiv snarled, causing the group to back up, as Riots old squad took up positions behind him. ”He isn’t your pony anymore Celestia. He hasn’t been yours for twenty eight years. I SAVED HIS LIFE, I GAVE HIM PURPOSE!”

Luna stepped forward, rage etched on her features. “What do you desire demon? Speak, or we’ll destroy you completely.” She stomped a hoof, adding weight to her statement.

The stallion shuddered again, his sneer turning into another smile. ”I WANT REVENGE.”

Celestias eyes began to glow, as did the elements of harmony. “Release our subject Chivalrous, or suffer the consequences.”

Shiv made a move to attack, but was cut short by a pained spasm. Shiv snarled something inequine, but was cut short by Riots voice. “Celestia! I-I’m sorry-” Riot gasped in pain, his blood beginning to leak again. “I’m trying to-” He shuddered, and Shiv returned. ”I’LL SHOW YOU HOW IT FEELS TO BE TWISTED BY THE OLD ONES!” He launched at Celestia, his horn sparking with dark magic. The princess tried to block him, but her magic proved useless against him. Luna and Sled yelled out, each unable to stop the horror before them.

As Shivs bayonet came down, a blindingly bright beam struck him in the chest. The stallion screamed loudly, before disappearing.

The Elements of Harmony slowly lowered to the ground, their eyes discontinuing the glow. They each looked around, pleased that they’d rid a friend of such a malignant beast. When they looked back over, they were shocked to see nothing but dead changelings and royal guards.

Twilight approached her mentor, who seemed visibly shaken. “Celestia? Are you alright?” She looked over at the squad of military ponies who starred forward in mute shock. “Where did he go?”

Celestia shook her head. “I don’t believe I am able to answer either of those questions in one conversation my dear Twilight.”

The purple mare shook her head. “What was that?”

The princess closed her eyes, before looking out at her city. “An old scar come back to haunt me…”

As the reinforcements from the national guard arrived on the scene, Luna trotted over to the spot where Shiv had stood. “May Faust watch over you, Ashfall Venture. And may you defeat your inner demon.” She closed her eyes, and her horn flared. “We’ll keep our end of the bargain.”