• 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 3

“Oh, you mean the proverbial elephant in the room?” I replied a little too sarcastically.

“Now that’s not fair!” Autumn quipped back with anger brimming in her voice. “You don’t know what it’s like to not be able to work like a regular pony!”

“What the fuck?!” I screamed at her in both shock and fury at her audacity. “When you found my sorry ass, I was hoof deep in a fight strangling the life outta some poor bastard! So don’t you EVER tell me I don’t know what it’s like!”

She looked down, embarrassed. “Sorry, Doc. I lost my head.”

“Well no shit! I knew I shoulda tried to do something or said something at dinner!” I caught myself mid-rant. “Oh. Well, it’s fine. I mean, I probably shouldn’t have been snippy about it.” I looked down at my hooves which were suddenly interesting.

We both sat down at the table in silence for what felt like an eternity before Autumn finally broke the silence. “It never really healed.”

“What?” She had caught me off guard.

“Remember that day at the COP? When they lit us up?” I grimaced. How could I not remember that day? Nodding wordlessly, I let her continue, “That bullet left its mark on me. The doctors couldn’t remove all the shrapnel from my chest, so it gets hard to breathe at times.” How did I not notice that before? “When I went down from the first shot, I felt another round hit my back-plate. That was when I got scared. They wanted me dead, not just wounded. Those NLR fuckers wanted me to die.” Autumn stopped for a brief moment, fiddling with the tablecloth. “Guess I’m lucky that the second round didn’t do its job,” she laughed bitterly. “If you can call this ‘lucky.’”

“Explains why you jumped when I came from behind ya,” I stated matter-of-factly.

The auburn mare shrugged “Probably. Just been jumpy since then though.”

“What triggered it again though later?” I asked, trying to figure out how to help my former Sargeant.

“The shortness of breath. Combine that with the darkness and the calm.”

Holy Celestia. “Yeah?”

“Yep. I dread trying to sleep these days, Doc.” She brushed her mane from her eyes, “Its become a fuckin’ chore, one that haunts me on a regular basis.” Her mane flopped down again in front of her eyes. “How do you deal with this kind of shit, Doc?”

I laughed and Autumn glared daggers at me. “Hey now! I ain’t laughin’ at you. Just laughin’ that you thought I dealt with my problems.”

She raised her eyebrows in curiosity, “So then what do you do?”

“Drink.”

“Doc,” began Autumn. “I’m no medical professional, but I’d say that’s probably not the best way to ‘deal with it.’”

I turned to face the view of the sun rising above the palace. “Never asked for your input on the matter, Autumn.” She placed her hoof on mine, making me tense up momentarily.

“Doc, this is the first time I’ve told somepony why I act the way I do. Can’t you trust me the way I trust you?” she pleaded.

I glanced out the window once again, losing myself in the grandeur of the horizon. I heard her sigh heavily and get up from the table. “Either way Coban, if you need somepony to talk to, I got your back” Autumn said quietly before heading back down the hallway. I sighed, just like good ol' Strong.

“I hear her every night” I said calmly. Autumn poked her head from the hallway. It was her turn to be caught off guard.

“What’d you say?”

“I said I hear her every night!” I snapped back at her. Autumn approached me slowly. Sighing, I slouched on my chair. “I can still see those eyes of her’s. Accusing me of failing her.” Tears began to well up in my eyes, I didn’t fucking care now. “And all she tells me is ‘it’s over, it’s over.’” The tears started rolling down my cheeks. “Then she blows her brains all over the place” I spat with pent up anger and frustration. “And I couldn’t do a DAMNED thing!” I was screaming now. “I had a job and I FUCKING FAILED HER!”

I felt a pair of hooves wrap themselves around me, holding me tightly. I hadn’t even noticed Autumn this whole time. I cried bitterly into her shoulder. “I tried to stop her, Autumn! I tried!” I began to whimper. “I tried. Please believe me! I tried!”

“I know you did everything you could” she whispered soothingly. “I believe you, Coban.” I grasped at those words desperately. I believe you, she had said. I struggled to stop my crying, pulling away from her. Wiping my eyes I felt embarrassed that I had shown her, well, whatever this side of me was. My bitch side, I suppose for lack of better term. I fought my emotions back down, why did I think this was a good idea? I never should have told her about any of that! Fuck! I screamed at myself internally. I felt a hoof gently touch my shoulder, “What?” I asked, whirling around and still fighting the years of pent up emotions that had just burst out.

Autumn just gave me a solemn look and nodded, knowing there was no way she could fully understand what was going on inside my head. But it felt good, weirdly enough to tell somepony else about that, it felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. “Hey,” I said “Let’s get ready for that train.”

●●●

“How ya holdin’ up Doc?” Autumn asked.

I rolled my eyes, “Don’t worry, mom. I’m fine”

Autumn put on her best pouting face, “You…you think I’m…old?” And cue the lip quiver. Called it. “How could you!” she squeaked.

Fine, two could play this game. “If only I married my mistress instead of you!” I said a little too loudly.

“How dare you!” Autumn said, feigning anger. “How could you do this to me and your crippled colt! Think about your colt, Caramel!” She said with a sly grin.

Making up names now? “Don’t you lie to me, Candy Mane!” Ugh, Goddess. Candy Mane? “I know all about you and April Showers!” Had to come up with better names next time.

“Well…maybe she gives me what I want!” shouted Autumn back at me.

“What you want?!” I shouted back. “I tell you what you want!”

“Uhm, excuse me you two. But are you going to purchase your tickets or not?” asked a rather flustered pegasus ticket attendant.

“Oh…hehe” began Autumn turning an even brighter red as she looked around, realizing that the whole train station was now looking at us.

“Yup. Two for the eleven fifteen for Ponyville” I said, trying my best not to start laughing. Autumn hurriedly threw down ten bits and nabbed the tickets from the attendant. She began to pull on my leg to get me to move. Heh, priceless.

“Hey! The tickets are only five bits! You overpaid!” cried the attendant.

“Keep the change!” hollered Autumn. “Doc! C’mon!”

“Doc? Who’s Doc?” I inquired. Oh this was too easy.

“Fine…” she grumbled. “Caramel. If you don’t fucking move I swear I will castrate you in your sleep then force feed you your own balls!”

“Right away, then Candy Mane!” I said cheerfully as I trotted down the platform. I could hear her face-hoof behind me. She hurried to catch up to me, glaring daggers at me.

“That was just plain evil, Doc!” she hissed. “Ya could’ve told me other ponies were watchin’ us.”

“I could’ve. But it’s way funnier to watch you get embarrassed.” I chuckled. “Besides, it’s your own fault. I mean, we were in a freakin’ train station of all places.”

“Still” she said, pouting. “And really? Candy Mane? What in the hoof kinda name is that?”

“I’m not good at comin’ up with names on the fly,” I said. “Hell, I could ask you the same thing! Caramel?”

“Hey now! Don’t knock it! I happen to like that name!” Autumn protested.

Now I was curious. “Some sort of special significance to it?” She blushed for the second time that day. “Well, c’mon. Spill!”

“Just somepony I used to know” she said, slyly.

Suddenly, a conductor began to roar above the hustle and bustle of the station “All aboard! Next stop, Ponyville!” Well at least the train was ready to leave, and on time too. Huge change of pace compared to the military transports. Celestia, those were awful. Could be a thirty minute wait, or could be the next day when ya leave, who knows? Ugh.

We shambled onto the train among the crowd of other ponies. I hated crowds. Too many ponies, various high-speed avenues of approach, the list could go on. And from the looks of it, Autumn was having a difficult go of it as well. Her face was scrunched up with disapproval at the amount of ponies entering the cars. I motioned to her with a nod of my head to the windows, get a good view for the trip at least. Promptly, we both sat down, collectively breathing a sigh of relief as ponies around us began to take their seats as well.

“Well, at least that part’s over with” I said optimistically.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a blue pegasus and a purple unicorn enter the train. Where had I seen them before? They started walking towards where we were sitting. “Are these seats taken?” asked the purple unicorn politely, motioning to the seats opposite of us. Both Autumn and I shook our heads in unison. “Thanks!” she said, beaming with excitement.

“I still don’t see why I have to go on this stupid train,” griped the pegasus. “I mean, I could probably fly faster to Ponyville!”
“Dash!” exclaimed the unicorn. “Your wing is in no condition for flight yet! The doctor said you need to rest it for at least a week!” The pegasus groaned excessively loud and slouched in her seat, blankly looking out the window as the train began to depart from the station.

“So, you two headed for Ponyville as well?” asked the unicorn. Guess she was talking to me, seeing as Autumn was focused on trying to control her breathing.

“Ponyville? No shit? Thought we were fuckin’ goin to Appleloosa!” I said dryly only to receive a punch on the shoulder from Autumn who had calmed herself down. The unicorn looked slightly deflated.

“Don’t mind him, he’s just an asshole” Autumn said with a smirk plastered on her face. I was gunna have to get her back for that later.

“Sorry, my humor’s a little dry, miss?” I paused, waiting for her to introduce me to herself and her friend.

“Twilight!” her chipper self appeared to bounce back with relative ease. “Twilight Sparkle. My friend here is…”

“Rainbow Dash!” The pegasus perked up at her being introduced. “Ya heard of me?” Autumn looked at me and shrugged.

“Uh, sorry? Rainbow Dash, was it?” I stumbled with my words, trying to not piss anypony else off today.

“Hey, that’s fine if you haven’t. Just means more fans to win over!” she proclaimed. Okay, then? Interesting pair, these two ponies. Complete polar opposites, Twilight seeming to be the more knowledgeable of the two and Rainbow seeming to be more athletic than anything. “Nice ink, by the way. Goes with your scars!”

And very direct, apparently. Her friend, Twilight gasped in horror. “Rainbow!” she sputtered in disbelief. I started to chuckle while Autumn stifled a snicker.

“What?” protested Rainbow. “They look cool! Not tryin’ to be rude or anything…”

“Coban, name’s Coban. And this little bundle of joy,” I said, prodding Autumn in the ribs with my hoof, “is Autumn.”

“So where’d you get your ink done, Coban?” inquired Rainbow, much to the dismay of Twilight.
I rolled up my shirt sleeve to reveal an intricate tattoo of my own design. A manticore clutching a shield and sword with the words ‘Death Before Dishonor’ beneath. “That’s one of my more hidden ones. Got a few more on my chest and back though. The ponies at Ink Spots out in Canterlot did all of them."

The blue pegasus whistled in awe. “Those are so…awesome!” she squealed with excitement. “Can I see the one on your back?”

“What?” I stammered.

“Your back tat, can I see it?” asked Rainbow Dash as Twilight sighed and rolled her eyes.

“Yeah, Doc. Show her your tats!” giggled Autumn. I glared at her. I turned and lifted the back of my shirt as Rainbow began to read it aloud.

“75th Manticore Rangers, Charlie Company. 2nd Platoon. In memory of the fallen…” her voice trailed off. “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh! I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to, that is…” she fumbled for her words.

I shrugged my shirt back on and gave a casual grin in her direction. “Hey, no big deal” I said.

Twilight spoke up, filling in the silence left by Rainbow Dash who was now fiddling with her multicolored mane to distract herself from what had just transpired. “How do you two know each other?” motioning towards myself and Autumn.

“We both served in the same unit” said Autumn in a flat tone. “75th Manticore Rangers.” I nodded in agreement. Both Twilight and Rainbow looked at each other and then back at us. “What?” asked both Autumn and myself simultaneously.

“You guys were Rangers?” Rainbow Dash asked incredulously. “Then what the hay are you doing here?”

“Turns out, getting shot isn’t what you’d call good for job security, oddly enough” I quipped back. “I ain’t got nothin’ to hide, neither does Autumn over here. You can probably look our records up since we’ve been out of the service for about close to a year now.” Rainbow narrowed her eyes, trying to get a read on me. I sighed. “We’re tellin’ the trust, honest. We got nothing to gain from making things up.”

Rainbow Dash looked at Twilight. “Well?”

“They’re telling the truth,” said Twilight calmly. “That lie detector spell sure does come in handy.”

Autumn shot a look at Twilight, “Wait, so you just like, scanned us or something with your spell to see if we were lying?”

Twilight nodded her head vigorously with excitement, “Yep! Isn’t magic just fascinating?”

“Uh, yeah. Guess it is?” Autumn shook her head in bewilderment. This was going to be an interesting trip.

Author's Note:

The adventure continues.

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