• 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. 4 - Departure

Tiberium stepped out of his Phantom and into the passenger seat of the crimson Revanant assault vehicle. While not as imposing as the larger Wraith, it was faster and still sported a menacing mortar that could still kill most living things with a near miss. The Revenant's driver, a minor Jiralhanae who's name he couldn't place, lowered his head in respect. Tiberium just nodded forward, indicating his wanting to get moving.

A quarter of his remaining forces had landed on the planet. It was dark but the full moon cast a brilliant glow on the landscape. He could see for miles. The ground was relatively flat. There were sparse outcroppings of trees here and there. Some mountains far in the distance. Tiberium sniffed the air. He could smell no humans nor anything smelling that resembled Celestia. He cursed his soldiers' slowness to muster themselves before going down to the planet. It had taken them a full hour before he could mobilize his few remaining assets.

Some sort of strange energy in the atmosphere had scrambled the tracking system that had been installed in every Covenant vessel, a safeguard implemented should a ship be captured by enemy forces. Grace Through Fortitude's scanners had been working perfectly fine, tracking the stolen Phantom's movements until it breached the planet's atmosphere, where it then completely disappeared. This perplexed Tiberium as much as it had infuriated him. Now, he potentially had to scour the planet for five measly humans and the one who had mangled his ship, Celestia. He would grind her limbs into dust, but keep her alive, as per the Prophet's instructions. She had made them the fool, and he would rectify that mistake.

Two Ghosts flanked his Revenant on either side. Tiberium never liked an escort. He thought it was dishonorable for a warrior to have backup of any kind, especially if there was no kind of threat at hand, and at the moment, they were completely alone out here. There was nothing but flat wilderness. Tiberium gazed up at the moon once again and noticed a flash of red fly across it. He blinked and thought he must be imagining things. His Revenant was suddenly flying in the air and Tiberium found himself staring up at the night sky again, but this time from the discomfort of the ground. He staggered to his feet, wondering what had happened when a mighty roar rattled his head. A challenge...good. He picked up his gravity hammer and turned to face his enemy. Regardless of what it may be, one thing was certain. The night was turning interesting, after all.

~ ~ ~

Buck had to admit that Dutch was right. Cupcakes were the best thing ever. That top honor had once gone to moa burgers but boy, oh boy, were these cupcakes fantastic. They had each gotten about three cupcakes a piece before Twilight was able to get Pinkie Pie's attention for four seconds, enough time to explain what had happened and why Fluttershy was unconscious. Buck guessed she just thought the yellow pegasus had been napping.

Strangely, the pink pony's mane deflated...there was no other word for it. It suddenly went from being very curly and puffy to straight and flat. The energetic pony was unusually sad from the short time Buck had spent with her, which wasn't saying much; they'd only arrived at this pastry shop named Sugar Cube Corner five minutes prior, and the pink pony had been going nonstop about cupcakes, why it was night time during daytime hours, and why Buck and his ODSTs walked on two legs instead of four. Now, it was eerily silent in the shop. Most of the ODSTs stopped eating when the silence came, save Dutch. He really loved the cupcakes.

Pinkie Pie, her name finally unveiled as Twilight had spoken it repeatedly trying to get the pink pony's attention, moved into the kitchen and emerged holding a frying pan over her head. Most of his men had started conversing between themselves and finishing off their muffins. Buck saw a mixture of sadness and animosity on Pinkie's face. Buck had seen that look and stance before on Veronica's face when he had returned to her drunk one evening, though it had been a portable fan instead of a frying pan. He remembered how much the fan had hurt and couldn't imagine the frying pan to hurt any less. In fact, he was actually worried for Romeo's well being, who's back was to Pinkie Pie.

When she began the upswing, the Rookie reached for his magnum but Buck shook his head and simply said "Watch your head, Romeo." Romeo turned his head just in time, ducking the blow which bounced off his shoulder pad and knocking him off his stool. The rest of the ODSTs jumped up from the table, further startling the other ponies.

"Pinkie! Stop it!" Twilight's horn glowed pink as did the frying pan. She lifted it away from Pinkie Pie who had started to tear up. Romeo had fallen to the floor and was holding his hand up to parry another blow which came in the form of a pie to the face. Where she had gotten the pie Buck would never know, but her aim was spot on. Some excess pie had hit the others but only the Rookie escaped the mess; he had put on his helmet immediately after eating. Dutch began to chuckle as Romeo removed the pie pan from his face.

"You've got something on your face, there, sweetheart." He began to laugh harder.

"Save me the cherry!" Mickey's comment made them both wail. They grabbed each other in the ensuing hilarity and threw their heads back. Buck noted that Twilight and even the mistrusting Rainbow Dash had cracked a smile at the recent interaction between Pinkie Pie and Romeo. When Romeo finally removed the pie pan, he wiped his face off and spit out a cherry, just as Mickey had asked, Mickey and Dutch joined Romeo on the floor. They were roaring now. The usually silent Rookie even started to laugh a little, and if he did, Buck felt he could too. Pinkie Pie dried her eyes with her hoof and went straight up to Romeo and put her hoof on his chest.

"Don't you ever make Fluttershy cry again, you got me? I might just make cupcakes out of you." Romeo cocked a whipped cream coated eyebrow in disbelief. She had a sly look on her face and Romeo wasn't sure if she was joking or not and he found that very unnerving.

"Oh, Pinkie Pie, your such a jokester." Rainbow Dash walked over to her and put a hoof around her shoulder. Pinkie Pie's hair suddenly inflated and a smile graced her face again.

"So, do we have a deal?" She was still addressing Romeo, who's doubt of her grizzly threat, joking or not, had been abated by the reanimation of her hair. He took her hoof in his hand and grasped it firmly.

"Deal. Now, do you have somewhere I can wash up?" Pinkie Pie thought for a moment and motioned him upstairs.

"There's a sink and tub upstairs. Feel free to clean yourself off up there." Romeo turned to Buck who nodded. He went upstairs as the other ODSTs regained their composure. Mickey and Dutch had slowed their breathing but had tears in their eyes from laughing so hard.

"Pinkie Pie, was it? Thank you for clearing the air. We aren't used to complacency where we come from. We should have listened to Twilight during that manticore business. We're sorry about our impression on you all and most especially Fluttershy."

"Oh, its alright. Most animals in the Everfree Forest are very scary. My knee usually gets pinchy whenever we go in there." Buck cocked his head.

"Pinchy?" Buck looked at Mickey, Dutch and the Rookie, all of whom shrugged. He looked at Twilight.

"Its her Pinkie Sense. She can predict things by certain bodily reactions."

"Ooookay..." Buck just accepted it. Stranger things had happened recently, this should be no surprise. Pinkie Pie started to roll one of her shoulders.

"Uh oh, my shoulder's achy," Pinkie said in a cheerful voice. The other ponies began to try and restrain smiles.

"What does that mean?" Romeo wailed upstairs and a slew of crashes could be heard from the floor above. "Romeo! You alright?"

"There's an alligator in the tub! It tried to bite me but..." Buck, clearly interested, prodded.

"But what?"

"Its got no teeth..."

Mickey and Dutch looked at each other and immediately started laughing again, as did the ponies. Buck just looked up at the ceiling and rolled his shoulders back as if to say 'the things I put up with.' The Rookie's head was down and it was shaking back and forth; Buck didn't know whether he was laughing or was annoyed with the whole situation.

A bell rang as the door to the entrance of Sugar Cube Corner opened. Two ponies came through, a white skinned unicorn with a gorgeously styled purple mane and an orange pony with a blonde mane and cowboy hat let themselves in. The Rookie stood up and Mickey and Dutch stifled their laughter. Buck turned towards the two newcomers then to Twilight. The white pony spoke up first.

"Twilight, who are these...tall fellows? Friends of yours?" Buck marveled at her accent. There was something very high class about it. He had often heard actresses of the early twentieth century speak in such an accent on the silver screen but had never actually heard anyone talk like that in person, and being an ODST, he got around. He was further delighted when the blonde pony commented on him and his squad.

"Yeah, Twilight. First time ah ever seen anything like em. They're even standin' on two hooves, well...legs, anyway. What're they doin' here?" A southern accent. Wow. That's something.

"Well, its a long story, guys. I'll fill you in on the way to Canterlot. The bottom line is that Equestria's in trouble and these guys are here to help us, even if they're rough around the edges."

"Rough all over if you ask me..."

"Rainbow Dash, I thought we had finally accepted them. Don't be like that. They apologized for what they did..." Twilight caught Rarity's gaze go up to the ceiling and realized she was looking towards the staircase.

"Oh, here comes another one." The group turned towards Romeo and all but the two new ponies were startled at the scene before them. Fluttershy had awoken sometime within the past minute and was now looking up at Romeo. Romeo hadn't expected to see the yellow pegasus when he came back down from his fright with the harmless alligator, but he thought he might as well get this over with. He took a knee in front of Fluttershy and extended his hand. Fluttershy shrunk to the ground in fear but slowly raised her gaze to meet his. She looked at his face and then his hand.

"I'm sorry if that creature was a friend of yours. I just reacted without thinking. I thought it was going to kill my squad mates so I killed it first. I'll understand if you'll never forgive me but I can live with that. I'll still fight the Covenant on this planet and try to protect all of you the best I can, but no promises, okay?"

Fluttershy rose up to her full height, and she was just barely at eye level with the kneeling Romeo. She flapped her wings to rise above him and he rose to his feet, hand still extended. She sighed and put out her hoof, but instead of shaking his hand as Pinkie had done before, she gently pushed it down.

"I don't think I'll ever be able to forgive you for what you did...but if my friends can accept you, then I guess I can try, too." Romeo balled his hand into a fist and pulled it to his chest. He looked at it briefly, touched by the pony's gentle words. He dropped his hand to his side and walked past her and retrieved his helmet from the table. He looked around at his fellow ODSTs and the colorful array of ponies in the room. He nodded as he put his helmet on.

"Well, what do you say we get to work?" He immediately noticed strange circles scrawled on his VISR. Everyone and everypony in the room had a hand or hoof to his or her mouth and were trying to contain their laughter. He reached up and scraped some of the substance off his VISR with his index finger and examined it. Looked like...frosting. He turned to Fluttershy, a small smile creeping over her previously sullen face. "Quite the comedians you've got here in Ponyville..."

Fluttershy trotted past Romeo to the table and picked up a spatula that still had some icing on it. She flew back to Romeo and gave him a curly mustache to complement the eyes on his helmet. She let out an almost inaudible giggle. "We sure do." Laughter filled the room now, and even Romeo joined in. The burning bridge had been extinguished, it seemed, and he, for one, was content that his firefighting days had come to an end.

~ ~ ~

The Rookie was on point, and the merry band of near a dozen ponies, ODSTs, and a baby dragon marched towards Canterlot for an audience with Princess Luna. They had collected Spike the dragon because Twilight Sparkle had told them he could send correspondence to Canterlot via burning a magical scroll. That definitely would come in handy. Unfortunately, the Rookie was still worried.

The Rookie had two things on his mind, neither of which was comforting. The first was that he and his squad had no idea where the weapon pods Fast and Loose had jettisoned had landed. Something in Equestria's atmosphere was interfering with their tracking systems. Their VISRs worked fine highlighting the terrain and their friendly forces, but the beacons that would normally be displayed as waypoints on their HUD flickered rapidly, changing locations several times a second. It was dizzying if you left it on, but the Rookie diligently check every so often just in case the interference had decided to stop. The second thing that had him worried was the very nature of the new companions he and his squad were traveling with.

The fact that it had been dark since they had landed in Equestria had given them a tactical advantage with their VISRs. On Earth during the Battle of New Mombasa, their VISRs had been invaluable. The Rookie had ambushed dozens of squads of Covenant in the early morning hours after his drop pod had crashed in the city with the help of his VISR's advanced targeting technology, but it'd be a level playing field due to the ponies' bright colors. They could be seen for kilometers by the untrained eye. White, cyan, purple, pink, yellow and orange? They might as well have waved a flag saying "Here We Are!" and save the Covies the trouble of looking for them. It had taken the squad nearly an hour to convince the ponies to talk in anything above a hushed whisper. The Rookie preferred no talking at all due to the circumstances.

He perceived that even if Celestia had killed most of the Covies on that battle cruiser that they'd still have to contend with at least a hundred enemy soldiers during the upcoming fight, if not more. He didn't want anything giving away their position, but he had conceded to himself that if the ponies were bright beacons on this dark night then talking couldn't be any worse of a give away. The Rookie could see Canterlot in the distance. It reminded him of something out of an old Tolkien novel...the great White City of Minas Tirith came to mind. It was hardly inconspicuous. Anyone could just look up and see it. He had hoped that maybe the Covenant had landed on some other part of Equestria, far away from here, and would have to search them out or that somehow this Princess Luna could locate the enemy and that the ODSTs could strike first. Either way, he was worried.

The Squad came over a hill and the Rookie turned his head sharply right. He motioned with the palm of his free hand to stop, then raised it slightly slightly, angled it parallel to the ground, and lowered his hand slowly. The ODSTs went to the ground at pace with the Rookie's hand and the ponies followed suit, albeit after regarding the ODSTs. They obviously were slow on the uptake, but the Rookie was somewhat relieved that they mirrored the ODSTs actions so quickly. Maybe they wouldn't be such a liability after all. He looked over his shoulder at Romeo and put his index finger to his thumb, forming a circle with his hand, and put this finger formation up to his helmet, miming a scope. Romeo unslung his sniper rifle and passed it among his squad mates until it reached the Rookie's grasp.

The Rookie crawled forward a few feet and looked through the scope of the rifle. What he saw filled him with equal parts shock and awe. The moon hung low in the sky, and even in its brilliance it didn't fully illuminate the field the Rookie was spying on. Still, blue and green plasma bolts shot in the air like some sort of fireworks display. It was apparent the Covenant were having a battle, but with what? No sooner had he thought this a monstrous form flew across the moon, something with an enormous wingspan and a long, snakelike body. The Covie's plasma fire followed the monstrosity but it was simply too fast. The Rookie couldn't see much of the ground which the creature was assaulting; the treeline obstructed the view and he realized he needed a better vantage point. He turned to his companions and got an idea.

The Rookie pointed to the two pegasi of the group, then at himself, then to the top of a nearby tree. It was a good fifty feet high and he'd have a time climbing, so, given the circumstances, he needed the help.

"The tree? What about it?" Rainbow Dash whispered. The Rookie pointed towards the two pegasi again, then made a thumbs up hand sign, and thrust it up towards the tree.

"Oh, he wants us to take him up into the tree." Fluttershy was a mare of few words, so she was very good with nonverbal communication. Rainbow Dash just grunted.

"Well, why didn't he say so?" Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash grabbed the Rookie under his arms and hoisted him up to the top of the tree.

The Rookie tested a branch with his foot then nodded to the two winged ponies who let him go. He leaned against the trunk and put out his left leg out on the branch and propped the sniper rifle's long barrel on top of it. He peered through the scope again and what he saw was a warzone. Purple and blue gas gushed out of several wrecked vehicles, some Ghosts and a Revenant, it appeared. Suddenly there was a large explosion in the sky, one that the Rookie had seen many times before. Phantoms always looked the same when their reactors went critical, and this instance was no exception.

Small groups of grunts and jackals scattered from the falling wreckage. They had formed circles and were closing in on themselves. Every five seconds or so, the winged creature would land within one of these circles and begin to thrash about, killing the Covenant by twos and threes. It bellowed flame which ignited the grunt's methane tanks, sending the short and stocky rockets in every direction.

One of these rocketing grunts, by chance, crashed into the monster's face, embedding in its eye. It shortly exploded and the creature shrieked in pain. Its roar could be heard clearly, even from this distance. The Rookie guessed they were ten kilometers away but the dragon sounded as if it was within spitting distance. The Rookie saw a loan figure bounding towards the towering creature. A shimmering ball of energy appeared on the ground in front of the figure and it was suddenly and rapidly launched towards the creature. The figure seemed to be holding a long staff of some sort with something large on the end of it. A gravity hammer...that's what it was. It had to be a brute, probably a Chieftain.

To the Rookie's horror, the Chieftain brought down the gravity hammer squarely on the thrashing creature's head. Another shimmering formation came from the gravity hammer's business end, and the creature with rigid for a moment then slumped to the ground. The Chieftain had knocked it out! Or knocked it unconscious. Either way, the fight was over. The Chieftain walked away from the fallen creature and the remaining Covenant forces encircled the fallen monster. Glowing blue spheres formed around the creature and suddenly they all flew in an arch towards it. The Rookie looked up from the scope and saw minute blue flashes coming from the field. If it wasn't dead before, it certainly was, now.

The Rookie looked down at Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy and jerked his head from their direction to him. They flew up and brought him down. His Gunnery Sergeant approached him.

"Covies?" The Rookie nodded. Buck looked back at his new traveling companions then slowly to the Rookie. "Ponies?" Twilight stepped forward, her eyes anxious. The Rookie shook his head. "What then?" The Rookie thought about this a moment. What had a long, snakelike body, breathed fire, and had wings...oh, hell.

"Dragon." Fluttershy immediately yelped and dove behind the other ponies. Spike harumphed. Although Spike didn't look anything like the thing he had seen, common sense of ancient mythology told him it couldn't be anything else. The Rookie walked past Buck and handed Romeo back his rifle.

"Any dead Covies?" There was an audible inhale amongst the ponies while they waited for the quiet ODST's response. Surely these aliens were wiped out by the dragon. They had seen dragons before and they were without a doubt the most fearsome things that the ponies had ever seen.

"Some," the Rookie said coldly. "Dragon's dead." Buck looked down, as if disappointed, then towards the ponies. Not a one had their mouth closed. They were all gaping in disbelief. Judging by their reaction, the dying dragon had driven home the fact that they were dealing with something way over their heads. They began murmuring quietly amongst themselves, making Buck uneasy.

"A dragon? Rookie, you serious?" Dutch inquired. The Rookie simply shrugged.

"Did anything positive come out of their confrontation Rookie? Was that a Phantom we saw explode?" The Rookie nodded. Buck sighed. "Well, that's some good news. They'll probably have to regroup which will give us time to get to Canterlot. Saddle up, men." Buck was quickly struck with the absurdity of what he just said. He looked at the ponies, all except Fluttershy, who was still shaking after the mention of the word 'dragon,' looked at him quizzically.

"Scuse me?" Applejack had cocked an eyebrow. "Mister, if you think yer gonna saddle us then you got another thing comin'." Romeo turned to Buck and snorted.

"Smooth..." Buck shook his head.

"Sorry, girls. Figure of speech. Anyway, let's get moving."

The Rookie went back to the front of the group and they all started walking. Canterlot awaited them. Soon they would speak with one of the rulers of Equestria. Hopefully she could locate their munitions and gear. If the dragon was any indication, the leader of this band of Covenant had to be tough. The Rookie sighed. At least the dragon had taken a few Covies with it. They had a real fight ahead of them, that was for sure.

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