• Published 14th Feb 2012
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Halo: ODSP - GySgt Buck



Orbital Drop Shock Ponies...Need I say more?

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Ch. 3 - Wildlife

Humans. Real humans. Luna could hardly believe her eyes when read Twilight Sparkle's report. She knew her sister had fallen into some sort of trouble dealing with the invaders but bringing actual humans, five of them, no less, to Equestria? Had Discord broken free and possessed Celestia? What was she thinking? Luna was far too young to remember humans personally but she had heard of them from her sister; a barbarous species that had nearly hunted her kind to extinction. Sentient ponykind was well rid of them.

But according to Twilight Sparkle, they had saved Celestia. That didn't make any sense...Celestia had always spoken so negatively of them. Surely they weren't capable of compassion? Had they changed in two thousand years? She was sure they had found new ways to destroy themselves...but maybe this new threat, this Covenant would bring out their best, possibly even redeem their species. Luna could only guess at such things. Celestia was always the better judge of character. Luna had been away for so very long with the malice that was Nightmare Moon. She wasn't confident in her abilities to trust others whose regard was so ill favored by her sister, Celestia, but time would tell. She wouldn't have long to ponder such things.

A direct confrontation with the humans was coming. After Twilight Sparkle's communique, Luna had the Wonderbolts bring Celestia to Canterlot. She then told Twilight to gather the Bearers of the Elements of Harmony and to escort the humans to Canterlot, as well. She would hold an audience with them in her sister's stead. They would become allies of her and her subjects or she would deal with them the same way that Celestia had dealt with the Covenant. She hoped it would not come to that. A handful of humans couldn't cause that much damage, after all. Could they?

~ ~ ~

Unicorns, Pegusi, and now giant lion-scopion-things that wanted to eat your face off. What next, Big Foot? They had met a purple sea serpent with a very stylish pompadour and moustache (MOO STAAAHSH, he called it) but for being so big he was incredibly civil. He had even helped them cross the river. But these things, manticores, Twilight called them, were dead set on deadening the lot of them. Buck couldn't blame them, though. Dutch had jumped the gun, rather his finger had jumped the trigger. He had fired his grenade launcher when one of the two manticores had turned and growled at their sextet. His aim was straight and true, but the distance was the problem. The grenade hadn't had time to arm itself. It had only traveled four meters before bouncing off the manticore's head where it then exploded in midair between the two groups.

Needless to say it was none too happy. Its partner, mate, whatever type of relationship the two beasts had between each other, became infuriated, as well. It dove on Dutch, pinning him to the ground under a single massive paw. Buck somehow found this sight amusing for the briefest of moments. A few hours earlier he had been in a similar position with a pegasus pony, now known as Rainbow Dash, and at the time she had been fairly intimidating. How could he have thought that then, he now wondered. This thing was literally the size of a garbage truck and it was about to eat one of his men. He would later tell Dutch about his humorous epiphany and thanked the chain of command for saving himself the trouble of getting a broken jaw from the big man who's ethics didn't allow him to hit a superior.

The sound of razor sharp teeth clanging against metal snapped Buck out of his flashback and into action. Dutch had managed to lodge his grenade launcher in between the manticore's jaws...vertically. The scary thing was that the grenade launcher hadn't pried the manticore's mouth entirely open; Buck guessed its maw was capable being ajar a few more inches. His ODSTs had already spread out and taken up defensive positions behind rocks and shrubberies and the like. The two ponies accompanying the squad were still in shock at the sight of the manticores. Or were they?

Rainbow Dash groaned. "Oh, jeez, manticores? Really? Can this day get any more interesting?"

Gunfire soon drowned her out as battle rifles and SMGs spat out death at 900 rounds per minute. Death was being generous. The bullets might as well have been bees...gnat-sized bees. They didn't quite bounce off the manticores but dug into their thick fur. After a three second salvo Dutch had wriggled free from the manticore's grasp and had regrouped with his fellow ODSTs. "Thanks, Gunny. It had me for a second..." His face (unbeknownst to the Squad and the ponies due to his helmet and polarized VISR) became a sheet when the manticores shook themselves off, much the same way a dog does, but instead of drops of water dozens of bullets fell to the ground and made soft thunks in the loose soil.

"Umm, Twilight, can they do that?" Buck desperately wanted a favorable answer but he could guess he wouldn't get the one he wanted.

"I'm sorry, but Manticores have incredibly dense fur. They don't really have a weakness that I've read about..."

Well, at least we're batting a thousand... ODSTs were taught to 'fight' when the 'fight or flight' instinct kicked in, to push hard regardless of the situation, but then bus-sized mythological creatures weren't in the field manual. "Boys, time to leave! You, too, ladies!" Buck motioned with his index and middle finger to his squad. The ODSTs were soon retreating, ponies following close behind, but Buck hadn't realized that being the size of a garbage truck gave you the agility of a garbage truck.

One of the manticores bounded up and over the seven companions in a single leap, a good twenty meters. It knocked Buck and Mickey, the forerunners of the group, to the ground before it landed. They landed hard, Mickey's air was driven out of him. The manticore had plenty of air in it, however, and it reared up and let loose a mighty roar. Mickey and Buck rolled over grasped at each other and pulled each other close, knowing they were about to become red jelly. A hushed and soothing voice broke through the loud bellow.

"STOOOOOP!!!"

The deafening bang of the 99D-S2 Anti-Matériel Sniper Rifle's 14.5x114mm bullet ripped through the air and out the back of the manticore's head. Apparently all mouths were soft, squishy portals that were susceptible to bullets. It let out a soft moan despite the gaping hole in the back of its head and began to collapse. Mickey and Buck pushed off each other and rolled away from the falling beast. It made a mighty thud and shook the ground. The other manticore bounded over to its companion, ignoring the ponies and the ODSTs. Its intimidating scorpion tail was curled between its hind legs and it started to weep. It was actually weeping. Romeo didn't admire his handiwork long. The owner of the soft voice, a pink maned yellow pegasus, had descended to the pair of manticores, one now dead by human hands, with tears in her eyes.

"Why did this happen? Why? Twilight...please, make it go away...Rainbow Dash...help me..." She was sobbing now. She was a tenth the size of the manticores but she was unafraid. She was heartbroken. She nudged the fallen creature but only sunk to the ground when her attempts failed to wake it. Romeo, the most sarcastic ODST, or human being, Buck had ever met, felt truly horrible. He generally made the ladies cry, hence his nickname, but this incident had truly struck a cord on his heartstrings. He slung his sniper rifle on his back. Rainbow Dash's magenta eyes were soon staring a hole into Romeo's VISR. She spoke extremely soft so as not to alert Fluttershy.

"Why did you do that? Huh? Fluttershy was going to handle the situation! I've never seen her this upset before. You humans are the worst. I don't know why Princess Celestia wants your help, but you're not welcome!" Still hovering in front of Romeo, Rainbow Dash shoved him backwards, causing him to fall. He fell on his rump, stealing a glance at Fluttershy. It was as if she knew the manticore, but how could such a sweet little thing like that care about such a monster? "HEY! Don't even look at her!" Rainbow Dash didn't keep her voice lowered. Everyone in the area heard her this time. Her words weren't her only violent action as she pounced on Romeo and started to pound on him with her hooves. The Squad ran into help but Romeo waved them off. Tears soon fell on Romeo's VISR as he saw the rainbow maned pegasus had begun to cry, as well.

"No one...makes Fluttershy cry! You got that! You got that?!" Romeo noticed her blows didn't have much power behind them so he laid there and took it. He felt he deserved some punishment for what he did, even though he was only trying to protect his teammates. A yellow hoof caught Rainbow's hoof mid swing, and none other than Fluttershy was now staring into the wet eyes of Rainbow Dash, with teary eyes of her own.

"Please, no more fighting, Rainbow..." Fluttershy broke down again, sobbing into Rainbow's chest. Rainbow Dash glared at Romeo briefly before putting a hoof around her friend and consoling her. The two pegasus ponies walked away from the manticores and the ODSTs, leaving Twilight to make peace with the humans, a task she wasn't thrilled with given the circumstances.

"You...you five are despicable. Hurting and killing an innocent animal like that! How could you? Are you really that violent? Why did you even bother saving the Princess? Should we be worried that you're here in Equestria? Because I'm starting to think that you're no better than those aliens Princess Celestia was talking about!" Twilight had begun to tear up, too, but kept her composure. She went to join her two pony friends.

Dutch had sure made a mess of things. If he weren't so jumpy their shaky bridge with the Equestrians might not be on fire right now. No, that wasn't fair. All of them were to blame. Had they asked for Twilight's advice before they started shooting this could have been avoided. Their training had taken over. In the near three decades that the war had been going on, the old adage rang true: Shoot first and ask questions later.

They were going to have to fight the Covenant but it was getting harder and harder to make the people...ponies they were fighting for see that they were the good guys. Buck hoped that the ponies wouldn't get dragged into the fighting, that he and his ODSTs would be able to fend off the Covenant with zero casualties to the Equestrian population. If this incident was any indication, ALL life on Equestria was sacred, and ODSTs had struck first, not the Covenant.

"Nuts..." Buck muttered to no one in particular.

~ ~ ~

The Rookie admired the little town when they arrived. The yellow one, Fluttershy, had cried until she had exhausted herself into a deep sleep. She now rode on the back of Rainbow Dash. The town was small and rustic, almost something out of a fairy tale. There were lights on in the town; most of the small shops and cottages still appeared open despite the darkness. One of the things the Rookie had found most strange was the night had lasted for more than twelve hours. It was dark when they had landed and was still dark now. The stars and moon hadn't moved, either. It was a most curious thing, and something he had decided, in loo of their last incident, to not ask the ponies about quite yet. He had overheard Twilight answering a question from Rainbow Dash, though. Something about how Celestia raised the sun everyday and due to her injury she wouldn't be able to. He stopped looking around when Twilight turned and faced his squad.

"We're entering Ponyville, now. Put away your weapons. There's no reason to have them out. There are no wild animals to attack you, got it? Please..." She turned back at Rainbow Dash and the unconscious Fluttershy. "I don't want to cause her anymore stress. Looking back, we were in the manticore's territory. It would have probably attacked us anyway. We've had a brush with one before but it turned out just to be hurt and it was lashing out at everything. Still...You didn't need to kill it." The Rookie had noticed Romeo was rubbing the back of his helmet, as if to mime he was sorry. Their Gunnery Sergeant spoke up.

"Look,Twilight Sparkle, we're soldiers. We ascertained the situation as a hostile one. On earth we don't have anything dangerous that's that size. Sure, there are lions, tigers, and bears, but they're generally kept in captivity, and when we do encounter them in the wild, well, its usually lethal. Me and my boys," Buck turned towards his Squad. "We're trained to kill. The last twenty five years we've been fighting the Covenant. They've destroyed dozens of worlds, killed BILLIONS of humans." Buck removed his helmet and fixed his eyes with Twilight's. "Do you understand, Twilight? Billions."

Twilight's eyes were large with disbelief. "No...that can't be. How can there be that many of you? I'm no expert but I can't imagine Equestria to have more than a few million ponies, and yet you say that there were billions of humans killed in your war? And did you say planets? How..." Buck held his hand up to quiet the inquisitive pony.

"Let's save the history lesson for later. The bottom line is that the war made us hard. Humans were generally a violent bunch before, but this war forced us to be the most violent we've ever been in response to a genocidal enemy." Twilight cocked her head at the word genocidal. "The Covenant thought it was their holy duty to wipe the human race from the face of existence. The incident with that thing earlier..."

"Manticore." Rainbow Dash interjected, still furrowing her brow.

"Manticore. It roared, we attacked, it attacked back. Nothing else could be done at that point. Granted if Dutch here hadn't been so trigger happy..." He glanced at the ODST with a lower jaw bone painted on the bottom of his helmet.

"I'm really sorry, Miss Twilight. I just acted. I've never seen anything so terrifying in my life, and believe me, we've seen our share."

"That's still no excuse." Rainbow Dash stepped towards Dutch, who tensed up but didn't shy away. "You're in a new place, a peaceful place. We have nothing compared the weapons you have and haven't had many life threatening things happen in a thousand years! What gives you the right to come here now and start shooting up the place?"

Mickey came to Dutch's aid. "It was a stupid thing we did, but the Gunny and me would have been dead if not for what Romeo did." Romeo, currently off the verbal chopping block even though he had actually killed the manitcore, cocked his head at Mickey, silently chiding him for saying his name. "We stirred up a hornet's nest, no doubt, but if that were the Covenant instead of the manticore, we all might not be standing here right now."

Romeo approached Rainbow Dash, still carrying Fluttershy who was still sleeping. Rainbow promptly growled at him. Romeo put his hands up in defense. "I'd be lying if I said I was sorry for what I did. As I see it, I saved my teammates' lives. I am sorry for making your friend..."

"Fluttershy..." Rainbow said through bared teeth.

"Fluttershy..." Romeo continued. "I'm sorry I made her cry. I can tell she's really shaken up. I can tell you this much, though." He looked back at the rest of his fellow ODSTs. "When the Covenant show up, and they will show up, your way of life will change. If you stand with us, and I honestly hope you don't, for your own sakes, most of you will die."

Rainbow Dash began to chuckle a little. "Pfft. Please. How tough and scary can they be? Princess Celestia was caught off guard, that's all. I'm sure you distracted her, somehow. That would never happen to..." The Rookie dove forward, drawing his magnum, slid under Rainbow Dash, and pointed the magnum inches from the mare's chin. "me..." Rainbow Dash finished.

"What are you..." Twilight began to shout but Buck held up his hand, once again, to silence her.

"Wha...what's the big idea? Point that thing someplace else!" The Rookie holstered his magnum and picked himself up off the ground. He didn't dust himself off as he walked back towards the squad. As he passed Romeo, he shook his head. He obviously meant that the ponies couldn't help them in the upcoming fight.

Romeo shrugged. "Yeah, you got that right." Rainbow was fuming.

"What's that supposed to mean? I can fight! I'm the fastest flier around! And I rung the bell of Sergeant what's-his-name earlier when I pulled him out of that ship he was in!" The pony had a point. Buck's back could attest to that.

"A split second is all it takes." Buck said. "If this had been a real fight, you'd be dead now." Rainbow Dash looked at the ground, anger and embarrassment growing on her features. Rainbow Dash was grasping for anything she could use in her defense.

"Well, what about you? I saved your life when you were falling! You could have died, too!"

Buck laughed. "True, enough. I could have died. I've almost died more times than I can remember, but be it an ally pushing me out of the way or saving me from plummeting to my death," he pointed at Rainbow Dash. "I've always managed to come out alive. Had you been on your toes...hooves, you would have tried to avoid the Rookie's attack. You didn't. The difference is that I have experience fighting the Covenant. I know what to expect. You obviously don't. We won't ask for your help unless we absolutely need it. When we get to this other Princess of yours, we'll know more about how we'll deal with the Covies on your planet."

Rainbow Dash was clearly upset but had been humbled. She turned and started to walk into Ponyville, Fluttershy in tow. Twilight sighed. She had to admit it that Buck was right. "I'm sorry I was so brazen with my comments, earlier, Gunnery Sergeant. We have nothing in our history that compares to the hardships you and your fellow humans have experienced. If these Covenant creatures are as fearsome as you say, then I'm sure Princess Luna will support your fighting them. I still don't like your being here, though, but you did save Princess Celestia, and for that you have my thanks. Now, come along. We should eat before we make our trip to Canterlot. How do you like cupcakes?"

Buck suddenly got the most quizzical look on his face. Before he could answer, Dutch spoke up. "I love em!" He said with far too much enthusiasm. Buck turned and spread his arms in a 'did-you-really-just-say-that' gesture. "What? I like cupcakes. A lot. My mom used to make em when I was little. They're fantastic." Buck looked around to the rest of the Squad. Some nodded, others shrugged.

"I guess we'll take you up on that offer, Twilight." Buck put on his helmet and the Squad followed Twlight Sparkle into Ponyville. Cupcakes, Buck thought. Well, at least they had similar food and nothing as exotic to eat as they had other animal life. Buck didn't know what to expect. A warm welcome, a hostile one? Time would tell. They seemed to have won Twilight's trust, maybe they'd be able to win over all the ponies. As the last twenty four hours was any indication, anything could happen.

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