• Published 23rd Nov 2013
  • 4,148 Views, 190 Comments

A Kingdom Divided - Samey90

For many years, Elements of Harmony were responsible for keeping peace in Equestria. But sometimes, magic of friendship is not enough...

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3. Rainbow Dash

We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.
Winston Churchill

There was only one thing Vinyl Scratch and Rainbow Dash currently had in common: they couldn’t fall asleep thinking about war. And while the DJ was currently shivering in her bed, the cyan pegasus was walking around her headquarters, excited, checking every single piece of her newly acquired equipment.

When she saw the armours for the first time, Rarity and Applejack almost had to drag her away from them. The suits consisted of three main elements. The first one was an ordinary flying suit, just like the one Wonderbolts used. Its main purpose was to keep the pegasi warm and protect their bodies from being rubbed by the plates of the armour.

The plates themselves were the state of the art in armour designing. Covering most of the user’s body, they were capable of stopping even the 20 mm bullets, but only if they were fired from a large distance. Of course, as Rainbow Dash and her brothers and sisters in arms were constantly told, it wasn’t the best idea to trust them completely – the energy of the bullet still could bruise them, or even break their bones.

The armours weren’t slowing down the pegasi wearing them too much, and had many practical straps and pockets allowing to mount various equipment on it including, among the others, a battle saddle, or two small bombs for ground-attack missions. Most of the ponies in Rainbow Dash’s squadron chose a 20 mm cannon to be mounted in the battle saddle. It wasn’t very practical against small targets, such as bat ponies, but it was ideal to shoot down the airships.

As their backup weapon, most of them chose the standard assault rifle of the Equestrian Army. Wielded in hooves, they were lighter and more manoeuvrable than the cannons. At close range, the 7.62 mm bullets could pierce the bat ponies’ armour (a bit older model than the one Rainbow Dash and her squadron received).
The sole exception was Flitter: instead of a rifle she wielded a slightly tuned pump-action shotgun, even though Rainbow Dash told her that, with a small rate of fire and almost no possibility of reloading it in mid-air, it didn’t make any sense in aerial combat.

“Why not?” she asked. “When we meet bat ponies, we’ll have to shoot at the unarmoured parts of the body, like wings. It’s easier to hit ‘em with buckshot, I think.”

Dash only shrugged although it was worrying her too. It was impossible to put any sort of armour on the wings, making them the most vulnerable hit area. High speed and good agility were vital, and not everypony in her squadron possessed those abilities.

As a squadron leader, she could choose anypony except the Wonderbolts (who formed their own squadron) to fight alongside her. Flitter and Cloudchaser, who had taken a prominent role in protecting Cloudsdale from being captured by Luna’s followers, were her first choice. Then Thunderlane and Snowflake joined them, the latter being an issue, when Applejack found out that there was no armour in his size in the whole armoury. Rarity eventually solved it by stitching the parts of two suits together and adding more straps to allow him to carry additional armament: although his flying skills were rather average, he was able to lift many more bombs than any other pony in the squadron.

Another two ponies who joined the squadron were Cloudchaser and Flitter’s cousin, Cloud Kicker, and then there was a stallion named Star Hunter, whom, as Rainbow Dash remembered, lived in Ponyville, and had participated in creating a tornado to lift the water to Cloudsdale. Even though he wasn’t a skilled marksman, with his impressive wingpower, he was able to approach the enemy and disappear quick enough to avoid being shot in process.

There was, however, one problem left: there were seven ponies in the squadron, and Rainbow Dash still had no pair. This changed the second day after they were moved to the Canterlot Airfield to do some training before being sent to action.

They just came back from the “afternoon” training (they still called it “afternoon”, but their biological clocks were already going a bit crazy from living in a constant dusk - Nurse Redheart, who was responsible for keeping them healthy, still complained about its influence), when Rainbow Dash spotted a familiar, amber-maned mare standing near the gate leading to the airstrip.

“Lightning Dust? What are you doing here?” she asked, landing near her.

“Hello, Dash. I heard you were looking for some pegasi that can fly and are reckless enough to make themselves a target for bullets,” said Lightning Dust, smiling.

“Yeah, but I’m also looking for somepony who’s not a danger to anypony around.”

“More dangerous than a bat pony carrying a ton of guns with him? Please. You’re overestimating my ability to create havoc.” Lightning Dust laughed. “Besides, where will you find a wingpony who can fly as fast as you?”

Dash thought for a minute.

“Fine,” she said eventually, “but one crazy stunt, and you’re out.”

“Yes, ma’am!” Lightning Dust saluted mockingly.


Today was the day. The sky was almost cloudless - most of the pegasi were now in the army, and the Weather Factory in Cloudsdale was, according to Cloudchaser, “temporarily defunct” so the weather was sometimes a bit random, with sudden temperature changes and rainstorms out of nowhere. There was almost no wind, and when Rainbow Dash went out of the building and headed to the briefing room, she could see both Ponyville and Cloudsdale in the distance. She met other members of her squadron in front of the meeting building, chewing the remains of breakfast quickly, almost not talking to each other.

They waited for the Wonderbolts to come, and both squadrons entered the briefing room, where Twilight Sparkle was awaiting them.

“Good morning, everypony,” she said. “As you may know, our intelligence spotted three enemy airships from Manehattan flying toward us, escorted by at least thirty bat ponies. They’ll be here in an hour. We have to intercept them before that. Spitfire’s squadron will fight with the escort, while Rainbow’s squadron will try to shoot the airships down.”

Rainbow Dash nodded. Every evening, after the training, they were studying the blueprints of the zeppelins produced in Manehattan.

Most of them were rigid airships, large machines with a crew consisting of ten ponies: two pilots, bombardier, mechanic/stoker, and six gunners: four waist gunners (two near the pilots’ cabin and two in the back, near the engines), tail gunner, and one sitting in the ball turret below the gondola. Older airships were powered by steam turbines, while the newer ones had two rotary engines (which sometimes tended to spontaneously lose cylinders in mid-air). Although they were slow and not very agile, they were also very durable: they could fly even after losing a quarter of their gas, and it wasn’t so easy to set them on fire. They also carried an impressive amount of bombs.
The briefing was over, and all the pegasi went to the changing rooms to put on their armours and weapons.

“Remember guys,” Rainbow Dash said, putting on her goggles. Rarity said that they can withstand a point-blank shot, but nopony in the squadron dared to check that yet. “Don’t fly too close to them, change directions often, attack while you have the sun behind your back, and try not to down them at all cost.”

“Why not?” Cloud Kicker asked. She was now checking belts with ammo fastened to her armour.

“We’d use all our ammo on one airship, while the rest would fly safely,” Rainbow Dash explained, “Besides, if they send the airships here and none of them come back, it will teach them nothing,” she lowered her voice, “No matter what Twilight and Princess Celestia say, aim at the crew – if they come back to Manehattan with the dead gunners, and pilots spitting their guts out, they’ll think twice before sending another batch here.”


Vinyl Scratch unbuttoned her uniform and wiped sweat of off her face.

“Remind me, Roo, why we were given this old piece of junk?” she asked the tail gunner, a brown pegasus with red mane and a crocodile in a crosshair as his cutie mark, trying to speak louder than two steam turbines working just behind the thin wall.

“It’s simple – we’re all expendable volunteers, so they gave us the oldest airship they had to minimize losses when we eventually crash it, hopefully against Princess Celestia’s palace or some important factory or airport. And it’ll be easier to explain if we accidentally destroy some place inhabited by civilians.”

“It’s a bit unfair, don’t you think?”

“Putting somepony who learned how to properly mount a belt in a machine gun just yesterday in something that has a stove next to the balloon with hydrogen? No, totally not,” a black earth pony called Black Cat, who was left waist gunner deadpanned.

“Not to mention that this gal, who’s a pilot, flew only blimps so far…” said Roo.

“Great. Can’t we talk about something more uplifting?” Vinyl asked. “Like, get to know each other a bit, before we die?”

“Good idea,” said Roo. “My name’s Roo, Ah’m 35, and since Ah was a little colt Ah was hunting crocodiles in a place where everything tries to kill ya. Then, Princess Celestia forbade hunting, so Ah travelled to Manehattan, Ah met some nice mare, we drank a bit too much–” he smiled sheepishly and took a photo out of his pocket, “–and this is the result.”

“Don’t show us that photo!” Black Cat shouted with panic in his voice.

“Why not?”

“It brings bad luck – when a soldiah shows a photo of his family to anothah soldiah, he dies!”

“Oh, now Ah know who you are, Kitty. You’re this guy who refused to learn to shoot the machine gun, because the stars’ position wasn’t appropriate. I’m not superstitious,” he gave Vinyl a photo, which depicted a filly about 15-years-old. She was also brown, like her father, with a pink mane and smiled impishly at the camera.

“Her name is Babs.”

“Tell me, Roo,” Vinyl said, “If you have a family, why did you enlist?”

Roo’s proud smile quickly faded.

“My wife left me, and took Babs with her. Ah lost everything Ah had in mah life, so Ah thought ‘why not’?“

“That sucks, dude,” said Vinyl, not even trying to fake any emotions, “And how about you, Kitty?”

“My name’s Black Cat if you don’t remembah. I’m a clairvoyant, and I joined the army because the cards told me to do so.”

“Well, that’s as good a reason as any othah… other, I mean,” said Vinyl, raising her brow.

“A clairvoyant, huh?” Roo smiled again. “Good addition to a former hunter and a DJ… We gonna kill them with laughter… By the way, what are your predictions regarding our fate?”

“Well, I’d have to know your exact birth date, and...”

“Enemy ahead!” shouted one of the pilots through the intercom.

“Guess we’ll have to talk about it later,” said Roo, crawling into the rear turret, placed between the engines. It was even hotter than in the back of the gondola there. Vinyl stood in her position, behind the right waist machine gun, and Black Cat stood behind her, operating the left gun.


The escort was dragged away by the Wonderbolts, who attacked the bat ponies from above, having the Sun behind their backs, and thus surprising them completely.

Meanwhile, Rainbow Dash’s squadron, using the sparse clouds as a cover, approached the three airships unseen.

“Dust and I will take the leader, together with Kicker and Hunter,” said Rainbow Dash. “Lane and Snow will take care of the one on the right, and Flitter and ‘Chaser will attack that guy on the left.” she pointed at the airship which was a bit slower than the other two, and had a balloon consisting mostly of patches. “As we’re approaching from the front, don’t fly too low – a second pilot has, like, four guns to play. Use a balloon as your cover.”

Her fellow soldiers saluted, and they dove, intercepting the airships. Rainbow Dash, spreading her wings like an attacking eagle, opened fire at the balloon of the leading one, soon followed by three other ponies. A burst of tracer rounds tore several holes in the fabric, but the crew seemed not to worry about that.

“Dive and shoot the engines!” Dash ordered in the middle of a somersault. Behind her, Star Hunter simply landed on the top of the balloon, and, being in the gunners’ blind spot, started to methodically empty the magazines of his cannon into the rudders. The airship suddenly entered the left turn, despite its pilot’s best attempts to keep the previous tack.

Lighting Dust overtook Rainbow, closing her wings for a moment to avoid a stream of bullets from the tail gun. She recovered quickly, and aimed at the engine gondola with surgical precision, tearing the fuselage open and cutting off one of the blades of the propeller. Soon, the unbalanced prop fell apart, its remnants almost severing Rainbow Dash’s tail.

“Watch out!” Dash yelled to the microphone.

Meanwhile, on the deck of the left airship, Vinyl Scratch couldn’t believe her eyes. Their leader, a new airship with internal combustion engines in separate gondolas, was in trouble, while their vehicle was standing still against the attacks. She noticed a pony destroying the rudders and, pointing the gun upwards to its mount’s limits, tried to aim at him.

“Cloud Kicker! Where’s your wingpony?” Rainbow Dash shouted when they met briefly, circling the damaged airship.

“No idea! I–” Suddenly two tracer bullets from the other zeppelin hit her with a sickening crunch, fortunately not piercing the armour, but throwing her out of balance.

Struggling to catch her breath, she was unable to recover, so Rainbow Dash darted forward to catch her.


“Nice shot, Vinyl!” Black Cat, who turned his head back for a moment commented.

“Nice shot, my ass,” Vinyl muttered to herself, trying to figure out what was worse: her aiming skills or the crosshair of her gun.

Suddenly, they both heard a series of blasts. Vinyl quickly ducked, when a sudden explosion changed a massive timber supporting the gondola into a cloud of splinters. She caught a glimpse of a blue pony passing behind the window and pointing a gun at her. Then something warm and sticky sprayed all over her, and she fell to the ground, closing her eyes.

Behind her airship, at a safe distance from the tail gunner shooting at them furiously, Flitter and Cloudchaser met.

“My gunner is dead,” said Cloudchaser emotionlessly. “How about you, sis?”

“I screwed up.” Flitter blushed. “My cannon jammed, so I used a shotgun, but it only scratched the surface.”

“Don’t worry. Next time, we’ll finish them off,” said Cloudchaser, checking her guns.


“Vinyl! Black Cat! Are you okay?”

All she heard was hissing of a steam, which was filling the whole room.

“How are your sphincters, Vinyl?”

“Okay, I hope,” she finally said. “I think I have Black Cat’s brain in my mane.” The calmness in her voice surprised her.

“Can you see him?” Roo asked.

“No, there’s steam everywhere!”

“The pipe was hit and our engines stopped working. We must close the valve and open the one on a backup pipe!”

“Where’s that fucking valve?” Vinyl asked. She had been shown the interior and mechanisms of the airship back in Manehattan, but Roo was a much better observer than her.

“Yellow one on the floor! The pipe runs through the middle of the gondola.”

Vinyl started to crawl on the floor of the gondola, slippery from Black Cat’s blood.

Adrenaline rushed through her veins, her senses sharper than they ever were before. She couldn’t see anything, but finally she scrabbled the valve and turned it. The steam stopped flowing from the hole in the pipe, and slowly started to dissipate.

“What now?” she shouted in Roo’s general direction.

“There’s a backup pipe on the ceiling. The valve should be directly above you.”

Vinyl stood on her hind legs, and found the copper pipe.

“Watch out! They’re coming back!” Roo screamed. She quickly turned the valve and fell into the puddle of Black Cat’s blood, hearing the bullets whistle few inches above her head. A piece of board hit her back, followed by some fragments of allegedly bulletproof glass, and suddenly everything became silent again.

“Luna damn it, I think I shot one of them,” said Roo. “And I think our engines are working again!”

“Yeah… great…” said Vinyl, suddenly void of all her strength. She sat on her haunches, feeling dizzy, and threw up some bile on her already ruined uniform.

“We’re flying home!” exclaimed Roo happily, when their damaged airship entered a quick turn.


“Thunderlane said that the rest got rid of their bombs and are running away!” Rainbow Dash shouted to Lightning Dust. They were now chasing the last airship, which, although crippled, was still able to change direction and head to Ponyville.

“How are they?” her wingmare asked.

“Lane and Snow are ok, Kicker probably has broken ribs, and I need to seriously talk with her and Hunter after we get home, and Cloudchaser was shot in the leg.”

The airship they were following had only one engine left, and it was losing gas, flying so low that its gear was almost brushing the trees. The tail gunner’s innards were sprayed all over his turret, waist gunners were also either severely wounded or dead, but the pilot was still determined to attack – if not the capital, then at least the town the Elements of Harmony were living in.

Rainbow Dash and Lightning Dust aimed carefully at the remaining engine, and pulled the triggers. All they heard were four clicks.

“Oh, come on!” Lightning Dust groaned. “What should we do now?”

“Get our knives and try to board?” Rainbow Dash proposed, her voice dripping with sarcasm. “There are only six or seven of them, so…”

“Wait! I have an idea! An airship is basically a big bucking balloon, huh?”

“Wow, Dust, you just discovered Zebrica,” Dash smirked.

“Remember the Academy?”

“Yes… no!” Rainbow Dash grabbed her wingmare’s arm. “Do you want to kill them?”

“It’s strange to hear that question from Rainbow “aim at the crew” Dash.” Lightning Dust grinned maliciously. “Besides, they’re flying to Ponyville, remember? And the kids from Ponyville are to be evacuated tomorrow…”

“We’ll do it,” said Rainbow Dash in a defeated tone. They sped up their flight, catching up with the damaged airship, and started to circle around it. For a moment she caught a glimpse of the pilot, a purple unicorn with an orange mane, watching their manoeuvres with his mouth hanging low. They were flying faster and faster, amber and rainbow-coloured trails mixing together. The air around them started forming the tornado.

A gust of wind hit the airship, spinning it around. The aircraft’s rear part started to lift, and soon it was flying almost vertically. Rainbow Dash and Lightning Dust flew away, deciding that it’d be better to watch from a safe distance.

With a terrible sound of tearing fabric, an engine gondola fell off and got thrown at them by the tornado, missing them by only a few yards. Stunned, Rainbow Dash saw a pony trying to parachute himself, but he also got sucked by the cyclone they created and hit the trees with an audible crunch. Eventually, the main gondola and remains of the balloon, now a messy mix of shattered wood and fabric, crashed against the ground.

“Party’s over, time to go home,” said Lightning Dust.

“Maybe we should help…”

“Help who? You saw that guy, no one could survive that.”


Rainbow Dash couldn’t sleep. She was lying in her bed, hearing Lightning Dust’s steady breath, afraid to close her eyes.

All of her nightmares were similar. She was flying behind the airship, seeing a tail gunner in his turret aim at her with a focused expression. She quickly bolted to the left to avoid his bullets and shoot back, only to see that Scootaloo was now sitting behind the gun. She darted forward, chasing the bullets, trying to stop them, and then seeing how they pierce through the glass, changing filly’s body into a small lump of feathers, bones, and gore.

There was also another dream. Scootaloo, jumping from the airship, spinning in a vicious tornado, spreading her wings to fight the wind, but failing. She was trying to catch her, but the filly’s last, desperate flap of the wings caused her to change direction slightly, and instead of landing safely in Rainbow’s arms, she hit the tree and fell to the ground. When Dash landed, she saw Scootaloo, her limbs bent in weird angles, and her face stiffened in an expression of pure hatred.

She took a glass from her nightstand and poured herself some water from the jug. Drinking, she looked through the window at the moon hanging above the airstrip.

“Luna, if that’s your work, I’m gonna find you and kick your immortal flank,” she said.

“It’s not us, it’s you, Rainbow Dash.” She froze upon hearing those words. “And only you can stop that. You’re not a bad pony. Stop helping our sister and go back home, to that filly who needs you…”


“Dash?” Lightning Dust said groggily. Rainbow Dash felt pain, and saw that she had crushed a glass in her hoof. She wiped out the blood, and decided to fly to the hospital wing, to have the pieces of glass removed.

The only ponies there were Cloud Kicker and Cloudchaser, both of them sleeping, and Nurse Redheart, looking after them.

“Hi,” said Rainbow Dash. “Is Fluttershy here?”

“No, she now works in the field hospital in Ponyville,” said Nurse Redheart. “What happened with your hoof?”

“I had a little accident. Can you take a look?”

“I’m a bit worried,” said Nurse Redheart when she removed the last piece of glass from Rainbow Dash’s hoof. “I heard that the Moon Army is quite close to Ponyville, and they can soon capture it. Then they’d have a clear road to Canterlot.”

“Don’t worry, we won’t let them pass. Tomorrow we’re going to bomb them. Or maybe it’s today? I’m a bit lost.”

“It’s 2 AM,” said Nurse Redheart. “Do you have trouble falling asleep?”

“Yeah… but it’s nothing,” Rainbow Dash replied. “It’s just the Sun.”

“Someone needs to talk to Princess Celestia about that. Sleep deprivation, indigestion, somepony can soon get crazy…”

“Don’t worry, Nurse.” Rainbow Dash smiled faintly, but soon winced when Nurse Redheart started to stitch her wounds. “I’ll keep an eye on the guys…”


Flying with shrapnel bombs attached to her armour was harder than Rainbow Dash thought. She left her cannon at home, hoping that they wouldn’t meet any airships on their way. Lightning Dust was flying by her side, four other ponies behind them.

“Ok, remember the rules of dive bombing?” Rainbow Dash asked. “Position yourself vertically, and make only slight wing movements to correct your aim. Drop the bombs at the altitude of 1600 feet, and fly like Tartarus before they’ll be able to shoot. And remember to arm the bombs before dropping them.”

When they were flying above the place where they had downed the airship yesterday, she carefully avoided looking at the ground. They quickly reached Ponyville and flew further, to where a large group of Sun Army soldiers were waiting in the trenches for the Moon’s Army to come. Luna’s soldiers, however, weren’t eager to attack, and instead they were hidden in their own trenches, shooting only occasionally.

“I wonder what they’re waiting for…” said Flitter, who was now flying as Star Hunter’s wingpony.

“Artillery, probably,” Thunderlane replied.

“Ok, we’re approaching them. Stop talking and dive!” Rainbow Dash ordered. She took a deep breath, focusing completely on her target – a group of tents behind the trenches’ line, masked with tree branches. She folded her wings almost completely, falling to the ground. Her vision started to blur when the g-force drove her blood out of her head. The weight of her armour and bombs was making it hard for her to breathe. She spread the wings to slow down - a sudden blackout and she’d change into a red smudge on the ground.

Suddenly she heard shots, and a tracer bullet whistled near her.

“Shit!” she screamed. “They have flak!”


She saw a dark blue silhouette falling to the ground in an absolutely uncontrolled way. Star Hunter hit the bottom of the trench, the ponies inside running away from him. Then the bombs attached to his body exploded, killing and injuring many of them with a torrent of shrapnel.

Dash dodged bullets instinctively, but suddenly she felt a pain in her chest. Once again she thanked Rarity and Applejack for the armours – a nasty bruise was nothing, compared to the gaping hole in the lung. Deciding not to tempt fate, she dropped her bombs at a bit higher altitude, and turned sharply.

“Dust, get the buck outta here! Dust?” she saw that her wingmare wasn’t at her side. She quickly looked around, and saw Lightning Dust flying away awkwardly, at dangerously low altitude. She flapped her wings harder, and caught up with her.

“Dust, are you… oh crap,” she cursed, seeing a large hole, surrounded with the bits of skin and damaged feathers in Lightning’s right wing. Some pieces of bone were protruding from torn muscles, and it was painfully clear that she wouldn’t be able to fly like this for long, even with the tourniquet she’d taken from her first aid kit to stop the bleeding.

“I… can… make it,” Lightning Dust muttered through gritted teeth.

“Do you have your morphine?”

“Already… injected…”

“Here, have mine,” said Rainbow Dash, reaching to her pocket. She gave the syringe to Lightning Dust, who gave herself another dose of an anaesthetic, and began flapping her wings a bit faster.

They were now above the road between Ponyville and Canterlot, when Rainbow Dash, who was still telling Lightning Dust to carry on, noticed something.

“Why are you still carry your bombs?” she asked Lightning Dust.

“What… Ah, yes…” she armed her bombs and pulled the strap connecting them with her armour. With an ear-piercing whistle, they fell to the ground, and one of them exploded among the trees near the road.

“Hey, it was an emergency drop, why did you arm them?”

“Some… kid… could… find… them…” Lightning Dust panted, being at the verge of passing out. The second bomb exploded, throwing some yellowed leaves and pieces of wood up in the air.

“Right. Let me help you, there’s a field hospital nearby…” said Rainbow Dash and grabbed her injured wingpony, flying with her to the large clearing with some tents where Fluttershy and other volunteers were waiting to help any wounded pony.

She landed on a clearing, carefully lying Lightning Dust on the ground.

“Fluttershy!” she cried. “Anypony help me!”

She sighed with relief, seeing her friend running out of the biggest tent in the middle of the clearing, followed by Doctor Stable.

“Dashie! Are you ok?” Fluttershy asked.

“Yes… It’s Dust.”

Doctor Stable cursed, seeing Lightning Dust’s wound. He quickly levitated her on a stretcher, and rushed to the tent with her.

“Umm… I have to go,” said Fluttershy. “We’ll talk later, ok?”

“Ok. Tell the doc that she already had two shots of morphine.” Rainbow Dash nodded, and watched her friend going back to the provisional operating theatre. The surroundings were calm again as some birds sang in the background, and a light breeze flowed through her mane.

For a moment she was waiting for someone to come out and tell her how was Lightning Dust doing, but then she remembered about the other members of her squadron, so she took off to fly back to Canterlot. She waited until she was far from the clearing, and then started to cry loudly, yelling insults at the Princesses, soldiers, and the whole world.

Author's Note:

So, after 3 chapters of a war fic, we finally have war. Also, when you're checking the weight of Oerlikon FF cannon (circa 26 kg) in the middle of the night, you should know that your research went too far.
If I ever overcome my laziness and write any side stories, Spitfire will be first.