• Published 29th Jul 2013
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Homefront - Pyramusandthisbe117



A soldier from the frontlines of the Equestrian Civil War returns home to uncertain peace

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Chapter 9

Author's Note:

Knocked out a big chapter for y'all this time around. Will be busy with prepping for an academy interview over the next week or so. I may be able to squeeze out another chapter this week but it's looking like it will be later next week. Enjoy.

The party went pretty much as expected. Pinkie Pie was her normal Pinkie Pie self and had successfully managed to blackout midway through the party (which apparently was a first) with Fluttershy attempting to help her while also being somewhat inebriated.

As for myself, I had the remainder of them gathered around while drunkenly telling stories. As to why they were listening to me, the fuck was my guess. But I didn’t mind, kept my thoughts off of what happened earlier in the day.

“So then what happened?” inquired Twilight, who seemed way too interested in the story itself.

“Yeah! C’mon! Tell us, sugarcube!” cried out Applejack, while Rainbow struggled to support Rarity who was relatively gone and resting on her shoulder.

“So there we were…” I continued on with my story, “And Top says ‘Nah, we can’t stop the convoy just so you can shit, Strong.’ You see, so…like, uh…so Strong goes, he goes, uhm. ‘You know, you know what Top. That’s cool. It’s all good, because I don’t need to go outside to shit.’ Then he says to me, ‘STRONG! Get me, an ammo can.’ I give him one, right? Next thing I knew, he takes a shit…in the ammo can, while we’re in the armored vehicle. And Top, Top smells this and it smells foul and he goes ‘Celestia, Strong! Did you just shit?’ And he, he goes. ‘Just following orders, Top!’”

I began laughing uncontrollably at my story along with Applejack and Rainbow. It was nice to see someponies here shared a taste for foul humor every now and then.

Twilight on the other hoof was completely lost. “But, what’s the punchline?”

“What?” I asked mid-laugh as I snorted.

“The punchline? I remember reading in a book about jokes that they’re supposed to have a central punchline that the story or joke builds up to and…”

“Oh loosen up Twi!” teased Applejack. “Not everything goes by the book so to speak.”

“Ugh, such foul language” stammered Rarity as she struggled to her hooves. “How could you speak like that with a lady present?” I fought back the urge to tell her it wasn’t exactly lady-like to get shitfaced on cider neither. But hey, whatever. “Where’s Spikey-Wikey?” she inquired, “He’s such a gentlecolt!”

As Rarity stumbled off, Rainbow and I began snickering at her. “I heard that!” she called out to us.

Applejack and Twilight continued arguing about the sociological and practical aspects of telling a joke which was becoming surprisingly heated. I looked over to Rainbow, slightly concerned. She shook her head, “Nah, it’s good. It usually ends with Twilight going to the bookshelf, proving her point with facts then the two of them apologizing.”

“Wow…really?”

“Yep. Have yet to see that change” laughed Rainbow as Applejack and Twilight stormed off to the bookshelves elsewhere. Rainbow shifted closer toward me with a strange look about her. Goddess she looked really good. “Why don’t we go somewhere, a little more…private?” she said with a sultry tone.

What’s going on? “Yeah sure.” Good job, drunk me. This is a horrible idea, don’t do it! My brain was screaming at my body which was doing its own thing at this stage.

Rainbow led me to the calmer portion of the library where we both collapsed into respective heaps on the couch. “Ah, I gotta say this was a good party. Thanks for inviting me, Rainbow” I said as I further sank into the couch. Holy shit, this might be the comfiest thing I ever sat in.

Then I noticed that Rainbow was staring at me. The hell? “No worries Coban. I’m glad you came” she said, resting her hoof on my leg. My body began to react without even thinking as I pulled her closer. This was crazy, was this really happening I asked myself. Rainbow couldn’t wait another moment; grasping my mane, she closed the gap between our lips in one swift movement. And suddenly there was no longer a need to be subtle. As if the unspoken question had been answered before it ever got to be asked.

An explosion of total peace and serenity overwhelmed me as she pulled away. Never before had I been so overcome with tranquility as a small smile crept upon Rainbow’s face. I struggled to speak again. “Wow,” I said lamely as my brain tried to resume its normal functions.

As Rainbow giggled at my kiss-induced stupor, I saw the beauty and innocence in her eyes. Something I no longer saw in my own. Fear began to creep into my thoughts, knowing what pain I could potentially cause her, yet I couldn’t; no, I didn’t want to let her go.

“I’m glad I met you on that train that day” she purred.

“I am too, Rainbow. I am too.”

●●●

The next morning I woke up with a start. I remembered, kissing Rainbow? Nah, that couldn’t be right. I felt a weight on my chest and saw Rainbow resting her head on my chest. Okay, nothing super crazy happened right? Right? Oh goddess, I’m freaking out. No! Calm down. Rainbow’s faint snoring began to soothe me. Heh, she was pretty damn cute. A light suddenly blinded me along with a chorus of aw’s and how cute’s. Who the fuck else was here?

“Oh my GOSH!” screeched Pinkie Pie. “You two are soooo CUTE TOGETHER!”

“Pinkie!” I cried out, “Quieter please. Got a bit of a headache right now.”

I felt Rainbow pick her head up off my chest, “Huh? What’s goin’ on?” she asked half asleep.

“Apparently your friends like to stare at us while we sleep?” I said cautiously to Rainbow as she yawned.

“What?!” she blurted out in shock. Both of us turned toward the group that stood before us as they all (with the exception of Pinkie) seemed a bit embarrassed. “Girls! Really?”

“Sorry!” stammered Twilight. “Pinkie stumbled on you two this morning.”

“That doesn’t explain why you were all viewing this like some sort of exhibit” Rainbow flatly stated.

“Well, it’s…or…uhm…”

“Wait,” I interrupted. “What time is it?”

Thankful for the change of subject, Twilight responded, “Nine fifteen, why?”

“Oh fuck! I’m late to work!” I exclaimed. Hurriedly I grabbed the few items I had from yesterday. “Bye Rainbow! I’ll swing by later, sound good? Great!” Quickly I trotted over to where Rainbow sat and gave her a quick peck on the cheek before hauling out of the library. Holy shit did she turn beet red, totally worth it.

●●●

Autumn awoke late that morning, she had barely gotten any sleep the previous night. She needed to talk to Doc. That whole situation from yesterday left a horrible taste in her mouth. No way did she want to lose him as a friend. Autumn groaned as she struggled to get out of bed and looked around. No Doc still. Well wherever he was she hoped that he had an equally terrible night of sleep.

Half asleep, Autumn struggled to brush her mane when she heard a door open and slam shut. “Doc?”

“Hey, Autumn!” came the reply as if nothing had happened. As she made her way to the kitchen, she saw Coban wolfing down a quick breakfast and looking particularly well rested.

“Doc. I…I need to apologize to you about yesterday, and this whole situation really.”

●●●

I choked on my food when I heard Autumn say that. “Uh…”

“Now hear me out!” she insisted. Alright, not going to interrupt ya. “I never meant for it to go down the way it did. I felt…I felt like you needed a friend more than anything when I found you. Yes, Strong wanted me to just get you back so we could knock out this op sooner. But you needed help.” She sighed and lowered her gaze.

“I should have told you sooner, I know. And I wouldn’t blame you if you have a hard time trusting me, but I wanted the best for you. I wanted you to be happy, and I hope you can find it to forgive me.”

My jaw hung open at the apology. Holy crap, I made her feel like shit. I coughed nervously, “Autumn, I said some stupid shit the other day. You’ll always be my friend and I’ll have your back regardless. So uh…”

“Did, we” began Autumn “just have an apology standoff?”

“I think we just did?”

“Friends?” asked Autumn, holding out her hoof.

“Yeah,” I grinned. “Friends.”

●●●

“Doc, Autumn. I appreciate you coming today” said Strong as he welcomed us into his office. “It’s safe to assume that both of y’all solved any differences?” We nodded in unison. “Good,” he flatly replied, “Because we have an operation to conduct. The two of you will be working with Deacon and Chaser” Strong said as two other ponies opened the office door behind us.

“Sorry we’re late, boss” said the mare.

“No worries,” Strong brushed it off. “Deacon, Chaser. Meet your new team members, Doc and Autumn.”

“No offense boss, but we normally work with intel ponies. Not your average fuckin’ meathead” said the stallion. I was already starting to get a bad taste for both of them. Fuck ‘em.

“Stow your shit, Chaser” exclaimed Strong. “Both of you; you’re going to need these two for this op. They’re qualified enough. You already know their backgrounds, so lock it up.” Both ponies shifted awkwardly while the mare named Deacon shot a nasty glare at Autumn. Guess there was a rivalry here already? Good, what the fuck could possibly go wrong here?

“I want you two to split up your little clique” continued Strong while motioning towards Chaser and Deacon. “Pick a new partner from these two. And whoever picks Doc, show him to the armory and get him his gear.”

“So what’s the plan boss?” asked Chaser.

“The brief is waiting for you all in the staff room, any further questions can be directed there” Strong said, while getting up with a briefcase. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m late for a meeting at Canterlot. Take care” he said as he trotted out the door.

The moment Strong left, Chaser and Deacon both turned their very unwanted attention towards us. “Fuck,” muttered Autumn under her breath.

“Listen you knuckle-draggers,” Chaser hissed at us. “It’s a fuckin’ honor to tag along with us. So do as we say, when we say it.” He prodded my chest to deliver his point. Wrong move, you dick. I snorted in annoyance. He laughed, bringing his face close to mine “Aw, you mad you’re second best to us intel ponies?”

That was the last straw, quickly I brought my right hoof to his face and knocked him flat on his side. Bringing my body weight down on top of him, I grasped his mane and slammed his head into the ground twice for good measure.

“Celestia! Coban!” cried out Autumn. Deacon stood there in shock at what had just transpired.

Getting up, I gave Deacon one last good kick in the gut. “Don’t patronize me, you asshole” I spat out in anger at the pony lying on the ground.

To my surprise he started laughing. The hell? He just got his ass kicked. Coughing, he stammered “Holy shit. Doc, is it? Not bad, looks like you still remember how to fight.”

I nodded slowly, where was this headed? Autumn spoke up, “Look, let’s just go to the brief and draw from the armory, alright? Nopony else needs to get their head smashed today.” Such the diplomat.

“Nah, I ain’t gonna fight,” said Chaser. “Doc here proved he could handle himself. I like you. Hopefully you’re just as good with a gun.”

Deacon finally managed to close her open mouth, “Hey Doc, you’re with me. Autumn, go with Chaser.”

I looked at Autumn apprehensively. She nodded and motioned for me to go with Deacon who lit up a smoke. “Let’s go, Doc” said Deacon, bad guys aren’t exactly known for waiting in one location for too long.

●●●

“Evening ma’am. Looking very sharp if I might say so myself” said Strong as he sat down at the conference table.

“Enough with the pleasantries Mr. Strong, let’s just get right down to business” commanded Princess Celestia. Her once beautiful mane now dull from the stress of the decisions being made during war-time. “We’ve already seen the capabilities of the NLR and I have no intention of letting this happen again. The very idea that they were even able to infiltrate this deep into our territory! It troubles me greatly.”

“Yes ma’am, I understand that the situation has…escalated.”

“Indeed. Mr. Strong, I am authorizing you to take full control of the situation, so there will be no need to do any of your sales pitch. Whatever resources you need, I’ll get them for you. We need to stop this threat at all costs.”

“I understand. Oh, and ma’am?” began Strong, pulling paperwork from his briefcase.

“Yes, Mr. Strong? What is it?”

“There’s something I’ll need that you’re going to have to authorize.” He slammed his hoof down onto the conference table, underneath his hoof, a form. “I need you to authorize New Dawn Protocol for this operation to take place.” Strong slid the paper over to the Princess who looked upon it incredulously.

“You realize that what you’re asking me is something that is in violation of multiple ethical codes currently in place here in Empire” she threatened.

“Do you want to win this or not, Princess? You know as much as I do that we need a quick and certain victory against the NLR. The Empire’s intelligence teams are in no condition to handle the situation in a timely manner. Hell, even the Rangers will take too long to mobilize. We can’t afford to wait before getting these ponies behind the attacks. We need something to show the ponies here on the home-front that we in fact CAN defend ourselves and won’t stand for such brazen atrocities.”

“I’m not sure I like the idea. I could have you imprisoned for this.”

“Lock me away and you lose this war, Princess. We both know that! So what will it be?”

The disheveled Princess sighed heavily, “So you’re sure about this so-called ‘wedding, Mr. Strong?’” she inquired.

“Yes ma’am, it’s been pinging for months. The passports have expired, no attempts to leave the Empire. They just sort of…” began Strong as he presented the known information on the target.

“You’re telling me nopony knows where they’re at now?”

“We have one pony who might know something. Our local asset mentioned some HVT’s up somewhere in the mountains by the Badlands” he continued.

“And you’re to shake this…asset…down?”

“That’s what my ponies are here for; they’ll be on site within the hour.”

●●●

“Celestia, Deacon. Turn that shit off.” I exclaimed, switching off the power to the truck’s radio. While these vehicles didn’t offer as much protection as the old armored vehicles I remember from the Rangers, it did provide some protection in the sense of a low profile. And fuck, a low profile meant staying alive at this point and loud old school hip-hop was not the way to go.

“Hey!” cried Deacon in protest, “I was listening to that!” I ignored her pleas, her music was awful stuff.

The comms cackled to life as Chaser’s voice came through. “About to get a little bumpy ahead, y’all good?” The truck slammed down as the road became hellish. Whoa fuck, keep it on the road, I kicked myself mentally. Slow and steady, slow and steady. The wheel yanked in every which direction.

“Yeah, we’re good” I replied. Not really, fuck this road. “Except Deacon and her shitty music is driving me up a damn wall.”

“It’s not shitty!”

“Nopony listens to that old school stuff anymore, Deacon” said Autumn. Deacon began to pout and slouched down in her seat. I chuckled; it was good to have Autumn back. I sighed with relief as the pass smoothed out again. Not having to fight the steering was so much nicer.

“One Six Actual, this is Hammer One Actual. Just passed through RP Blue, over” stated Chaser through the comms.

For a brief moment, there was nothing but static. Signal could be bouncing, after all there were fucking mountains everywhere out here. “Hammer One Actual, this is One Six Actual. New Dawn, say again New Dawn. You’re on your own from here.” Oh good, no backup? Celestia, what the hell was I doing back in the game? Nervously, I began packing some tobacco in an effort to keep my cool.

“Roger One Six. Hammer One copies all, out.”

As we continued driving through the narrow mountain pass road, I noticed the night sky above. Out here without light pollution, everything was so clear and strangely beautiful. My mind went back to my old post in Helmare Province.

My reverie was broken by Deacon’s voice. “These the ponies?”

Looking further down the road I could see the start of the village and several silhouettes of ponies. A bead of sweat began rolling down my forehead. This was it, officially back in the game. Low profile, low profile.

“Nah. Ember has a safehouse further up in the village. These are her loyalists, we’re cool. They’ll be giving us her location. Still, eyes open” said Chaser.

As Chaser brought his truck to a complete stop, I followed suit; keeping a good four lengths back just in case these ponies decided to pick a fight with us. As one of them began talking to Autumn and Chaser, another walked over to us.

“Howdy” the stallion said with a thick drawl.

“Hey, they know we’re here?” I asked.

“Shoot, son. NLR left two days ago.”

“Nothing should surprise us out here?” pressed Deacon

“Naw. We’re good here. Y’all wanna smoke?”

“Hell yeah!” replied Deacon with too much enthusiasm

Damnit, shut up Deacon I thought. “ Nah, we’re cool. Thanks”

As the stallion sauntered off back into the night, Deacon stared me down. “Can’t listen to music, can’t bum a smoke. What are you, Doc? My mom?”

I scoffed, “Listen, those embers from the smoke will be a dead give-away at this time of night. So I think for our own safety no we probably shouldn’t light up. And plus, you really want to bum a smoke off this shady pony in the Badlands at night?” Deacon rolled her eyes and continued to keep watch the roofs of the village. Making sure there were no sudden surprises when we would roll in.

Fuck, I probably should cut her some slack. I like my tobacco too and knew how depressing it was when you either ran out of smokes or chew. “Hey, Deacon” I bumped her forehoof.

“What?!” she snapped back, not removing her eyes from the rooftops.

“I got some dip if you want. Still get the tobacco high, minus the smoke or light signature.” Cautiously, she looked over at me as I waggled the chew can in front of her. “It’s miiiiint” I teased.

“Fine!” she said, snatching the can from my hoof and jamming a massive wad of chew into her cheek. Fuck even I don’t start with that much. I looked at her in surprise while she spat out of the window.

“Wow, it does taste like mint. I’m going to have to buy some when we get back.” She handed me back my can.

Looking at it, there was a sufficient amount gone. Damnit, I just got this one too. Glaring at Deacon, I growled out, “You owe me a new tin.”

“Fine, but just because this flavor is damn good” came the reply.

The radio cackled, “We got Ember’s location. Move out, twenty meter spacing. Take point Doc.” I pulled around Autumn and Chaser’s truck and took the lead. Nothing sucked much more than this. Every turn we made further in this little podunk mountain village had all of us on edge. My heart was racing as every second seemed to turn into hours.

Rounding one corner particularly quickly, I slammed on the brakes nearly hitting a goat. “Shit!” cried out a caught-off guard Deacon.

“Hold up” I called over the comms, as a herd of them began being shepherded across the road by a lone stallion and his dog. “Fucking farmers. Hey Deacon, deal with it.”

“Hey!” she called out to the stallion who stared at her in surprise as if he didn’t somehow see us. Frustrated with his lack of understanding, Deacon angrily shouted, “Move!”

The surprised farmer hurriedly ushered his goats across all while giving both me and Deacon the stink-eye.

“Smooth,” I said to Deacon. “Way to win hearts and minds out here.”

She ignored my jab at her expense as we continued on our way through the village. “Looks like everypony left” stated Deacon as we drove further. All the lights were out and other than the one farmer, there had been nopony else for the past several minutes. Shit was a ghost town and it was starting to have me worried.

“Regardless, hooves on the triggers” came the reply from Chaser’s truck.

“Hey Chaser,” I asked over the comms. “We sure this, Ember, has the intel?”

“Boss seems to think so, along with the spooks out in Canterlot. This mare knows something. Wouldn’t make sense to send us out this way, right?”

Autumn laughed and quipped back, “The spooks have been wrong in the past you know.”

“Fifty fifty shot here, I’m bettin’ we find her” said Deacon.

Making another left turn, I was greeted with a sight I had been dreading for the past several minutes. “Oh shit, five. No make that seven probables ahead, eighty meters and closing.”

“Who are these ponies?” asked Deacon. “Nopony was supposed to be out this way.”

Autumn’s voice came through the comms, “Roof, twelve o’clock, one target. Ten o’clock windows, second floor. Two targets.”

“Unknown vehicle approaching from our six” called out Chaser.

“Copy”

Deacon muttered under her breath as the unknown ponies drew closer, “Fuck, NLR shock troops.” As I slowed down the truck, several of them blocked the pass ahead while another two walked over to our respective doors. Oh shit, not good.

Quickly doing a visual scan, these guys were pretty well armed; a few saddlebags here and there, a few more accurate modern rifles along with lots of rockets. This shit wasn’t looking good for us. “Deacon,” I whispered under my breath. “Follow my lead.”

“Roger” she whispered.

“Hey! Step out of the vehicle. We’re going to need to see identification!” called out the closest NLR trooper to me. Yeah, like hell that was going to happen. “Hey! You fuckin’ hear me? Get out now!” he shouted again, this time bringing his rifle to bear. That was all I needed.

Quickly drawing my personal defense rifle, I loosed hell into the trooper as Deacon followed suit. Slamming my foot down onto the gas, I drove straight into the troopers blocking the pass.

“Shit!” cried out Deacon as several rounds slammed into the truck’s windows, showering us with glass.

In the panic, my sense of direction went to hell. Suddenly I had no idea where the fuck I was. “Dead end!” I shouted, slamming a hoof down on the steering wheel in frustration. Screeching to a halt, the truck came to a stop before hitting the wall. The incoming fire began to grow as Deacon and myself climbed out of the truck and scrambled for cover. How many of these bastards were there? And more importantly, didn’t that fuck near the entrance of the village say the NLR had left?

“Autumn, Chaser! You up? One-one, you there?” I screamed into my radio. A rocket slammed into the truck’s bed, thankfully not detonating. Gotta love those duds, I grimaced. “Deacon, get up! We gotta move, now!”

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