• Published 5th Nov 2011
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Equestria: Total War - emkajii



War comes to Equestria: with despair, with starvation, with sacrifice and with heroism.

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V. Sweet Apple Acres, Equestria. October, 1251.

V. Sweet Apple Acres, Equestria. October, 1251.

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THE PURPUSE OF AN ARMY IS TO FORCE THE ENEMY PONY it means gryphon TO DO WHAT YOU WANT HIM TO. WHEN YOUR ENEMY RESISTS YOU, THAT IS WAR. WHEN HE CHALLENGES YOU DIRECTLY, THAT IS A BATTEL. THE ART OF WAR IS NOT THE ART OF BATTELS. THE ART OF WAR IS THE ART OF ENSURING THAT YOU CAN GIVE BATTEL AND THAT YOUR ENEMY CANNOT GIVE BATTEL. WHEN THAT IS THE CASE, YOU CAN FORCE HIM TO DO WHAT YOU WANT, AND THAT IS NOT WAR, THAT IS VICTORY.



ARMIES ARE WALKING CITIES. THE POPALATION OF AN INVADING ARMY MAY WELL BE FIFTY THOUSAND PONIES it means gryphons. AND THAT ARMY NEEDS EVERYTHIGN A CITY DOES AND MORE: FOOD, BLANKETS, AND MEDISINE. BUT THAT ARMY CANNOT TRADE OR FARM. AN ARMY MUST EITHER BE SENT WHAT IT NEEDS OR IT MUST TAKE IT FROM PONIES UNFORTUNATE ENOUF TO BE AROUND IT.



THE GOEL OF LANDGUARD WARFARE IS NOT TOO TO DENY THE ENEMY USE OF HIS PONIES it says ponies but its still gryphons i'm not going to write these notes anymore these scrolls are old okay if it says ponies and it means you then that's right if it says ponies and it means them it should be gryphons AS IN CONVENTIONAL WARFARE. IN CONVENTIONAL WARFARE, THE AIM IS TO RENDER ENEMY PONIES still gryphons i know i said i wasn't going to write any more of these but it's really important you understand that ponies means gryphons when its the bad guys INCAPABEL OF OPERATING. THIS CAN BE DONE THROU SLAUTTER BUT ALSO THROU MANEUVER. THE BEST WAY TO WIN A CONVENTIONAL BATTLE IS TO RENDER YOUR ENEMY INCAPABLE OF SUPPLYING HIS MEN AND INCAPABLE OF FIGHTING BACK TO A SUPPLY LINE, FORCING HIM TO SURRENDER OR WATCH HIS PONIES MELT AWAY.



IN LANDGUARD WARFARE YOUR GOEL IS SIMILAR. YOU MUST NOT TRY TO FIGHT THE ENEMY PONIES. RATHER, YOUR MILITIA MUST SHADOW THE ENEMY. WHEN YOU CAN, YOU MUST ATTACK ENEMY SUPPLY TRAINS AND WAGONS, KEEPING HIM FROM FEEDING HIS ARMY. WHEN HE SENDS FORRAGING PARTIES TO TAKE SUPPLIES FROM NEARBY PONIES, YOU MUST AMBUSH AND KILL THE FORRAGERS. THIS WILL HAMPER THE ENEMY FROM FEEDING HIS ARMY. IN ORDER TO DO THIS, YOU MUST REMAIN FASTER THAN THE ENEMY; HE MUST NEVER BE ABLE TO FIND YOU AND IF HE FINDS YOU HE MUST NEVER BE ABLE TO CATCH YOU. BUT THIS WILL BE EASY; HE WILL HAVE TENTS AND SUPPLY WAGONS AND ARTILLERY TO DRAG. YOU WILL HAVE ONLY YOURSELVES.


The grey pony lay on her stomach in front of the book, her left hoof covering her left eye. Derpy chewed on a strand of hay as she read. Then she swallowed it, smacked her lips together, and pulled another out of the mattress. The lamplight flickered across the page, making it hard to tell for sure whether the words were horribly smudged or were simply very badly smudged. They were certainly poorly written, though, and that spelling was embarrassing. And it barely made sense: was her goal the same as in conventional warfare or not? Was "landguard" the same thing as a militia? If this book were a letter she'd have wanted to return it as undeliverable.

She sighed. But she wouldn't have. She could still make out what it said, and the mail must go through, even when some other pony is making you squint until you get a headache just because they're too lazy to write coherently. Besides, some poor ponies had to transcribe a copy of this enormous guide for every town in Equestria. They were probably just tired. She yawned. So was she. She lowered her head, just a bit. Her eyes fluttered.

She rattled her head back and forth. No. No sleep. Back to reading. She had been training her ponies here at Sweet Apple Acres for a week, but she still didn't really have much of an idea as to what she was supposed to do with her militia once she had it. She was okay with teaching them drills; it was a bit hard to explain what the book wanted the ponies to do, but she was getting better at figuring it out. There were stumbles, though. It was really embarrassing--really,really embarrassing--when she had to tell them all that all the drill commands she had taught them on the first day were wrong, but they were mostly understanding about it. Well, most of them were mostly understanding. On the other hand, there were a few who were becoming complainers. She wasn't sure what to do about that. The book didn't say. But she knew that if one pony kept grumbling, then soon two would, then soon four would, and it wouldn't be long until everypony was unhappy.

She looked over at Big Macintosh. There he was, on the other side of the dim barn, asleep on a pile of hay. She made a sad little grunting noise: "Hrrn." She'd understand if ponies were upset if they didn't have food. Nopony liked being hungry. But they had plenty of food. What if they were just becoming upset with her? Maybe they would all decide she was a bad leader. And why wouldn't they? She didn't know how to lead people. She didn't know what she was doing. There's no reason why she should be the leader, and not anypony else. What did she have that made her the Captain? She had a sloppily written book someone gave her, and she could make her voice go really loud. That wasn't leadership. She bit her lip, and cocked her head, still gazing at Mac. Now he. He was a leader. Whenever he talked, ponies paid attention. He didn't have to give fancy speeches. He didn't have to electrify himself like she did. He just said it, and ponies did it. And he always knew the right thing to do.

It had been Mac who had realized that "right, face" must mean for everypony to turn to their own right, not Derpy's. But he hadn't said it aloud. No. He told her quietly, afterwards. And he told her to pretend she had caught the mistake herself.

She looked back at the book. She should start reading again. But the words were so blurry, even though she was still covering her left eye. She tried to make them out: WHEN and the next one was PREPARING and then OF no wait TO no oh no this wasn't working at all. She blinked, and thick tears ran down her cheeks. She nosed the book shut.

She lay her head down, again staring at Mac. His powerful chest swelled and subsided with each steady breath. His face was calm, composed--even in sleep he was in control of himself. He was a stallion in every way. And she? She was an awkward little mailmare, suited to delivering letters and baking muffins for her daughter and oh, Dinky, my God, Dinky, Dinky. If she left now, if she flew as fast as she could, she could catch up to her in a day and a half. Dinky. Dinky. If she had to die, wouldn't it be better to die with her daughter, not a thousand miles away, never knowing if she was even alive to fight for? Wouldn't...oh, Dinky, Dinky. She breathed in sharply. She was crying now, truly crying. She buried her face in her elbow. No. Nopony could hear her cry. Nopony. She wouldn't have any respect left from anypony.

Suddenly, she struck herself in the face, her hoof cracking into her cheekbone. The pain knocked everything else out of her head: the sleep, the remorse, the doubt, everything. She was awake again. Right. Right, Derpy. The book. The Gryphons could come any day, and you need to know what to do when they come. She nosed it open, again, then carefully back to the page she had been on. She just needed to read a few more pages, then she could sleep, and then she could get back to work. She just needed to work. Yeah. Work. If she worked she would be fine. Work was good. Work kept her busy. It was only when she was silent and still that she could be afraid. But she needed sleep if she was going to work. And she couldn't sleep if she didn't know what to do if the gryphons came. And she couldn't read about the gryphons because all she could think about was how completely wrong this was, how wrong that she was the one reading it, how wrong that she was the one responsible for making these decisions, and oh God she was crying again, and not little tears, no she was sobbing and gasping goddamn it Derpy get a fucking hold of yourself Derpy knock it the fuck off Derpy stop acting like a little foal Derpy you are going to ruin everything Derpy stop it stop it stop it stop it captain are you all right?


Wait. That last one wasn't her brain.

She looked up. Big Macintosh was standing next to her, his face tired but concerned. She quickly wiped her face and tried to steady herself. "I'm...ahem. Ahem. I'm--*ss*--fine? I'm fine Mac. *ss-hhuh* Fine. Thanks."

Big Mac held the same expression. "Captain, you've just smeared ink all over your face. You might wanna wash that off before you address us tomorrow in the mornin'. I know bathin' water isn't gonna be easy to come by later on, once we're on the march, but a Captain who's got ink all over her face is a pretty sorry lookin' Captain."

Derpy looked down at her hooves. The ink had indeed worn off the cheap book and all over her hooves and legs. She looked back at the draft pony, her crossed yellow eyes welling again. "I'm sorry. I know. I'm a mess. I shouldn't even be up now. But I can't sleep." She looked away, closing her eyes.

"I...I've got to say this, to somepony. I can't do this, Big Mac. I can't have everypony looking at me for directions all the time. I don't know what I'm doing. About anything. About anything, Mac! Anything! I don't know anything! And ponies are starting to notice, oh, I can't keep up pretending, I can't! I can't...I can't. Please. I can't."

Her voice was a whisper now. "You need to take charge. I can't do this. Please. You have to." She looked back, smiling a bit through the tears. She was looking at him through the left eye, then the right, then the left, trying to figure out which was more convincing. "I can follow you. I can give speeches for you if you want, I know you don't like talking even though everypony always does what you say. I can help. I can give you the book. I can explain the hard parts I've already figured out! Just...you need to. Because I can't. You need to take over."

Mac nodded, frowning.

"I understand, Derpy. Ya know I'll do everythin' I can to help ya. Everythin' I can to make it easy on ya. I'd be Captain tomorrow if it'd help ya." He smiled. Derpy smiled back, uncertainly. "But it won't help ya, so I won't be Captain. A pony I respect a whole load told me recently that ya cain't run from yer fate. That ya either meet it head-on, or it bites ya on th'flank while you're runnin. And when she told me that, she made me believe her. Heck, she made me believe in her. And I know that pony'd tell ya the same thing. Derpy, you're our Captain. We made you our Captain. None o' us woulda bet that woulda happened. Some o' us still cain't believe it happened. But you're our Captain and ya will be 'till, God, I cain't even say till when. And I'll do anythin' ta help ya succeed, because Ponyville needs a Captain, and Ponyville needs that Captain to be you."

He nodded, to himself. And then he turned, and he went back to his bed, and laid down. After a second, he lifted his head, and looked at her. She was still watching him with all her attention. "You'll be fine, Captain," he said. "Now get some sleep already." And he laid down his head, and his eyes closed gently, as if there was nothing in the world to keep them open.

Derpy looked back at her blackened hooves. Mac was right. Like it or not, she was Captain. Mac knew that. And Mac knew how to say it. And, she sighed, that's exactly why Mac should be the Captain. But he wouldn't be. And she knew he wouldn't be. And that...that's another reason why he should be.

She closed the book again, then blew out the light. She didn't even remember laying her head down. She just remembered blowing out the light, and then it was morning.



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Derpy licked her lips, her tongue darting around the quill. So nearly all twenty four hundred thirty rations of hay were accounted for, but only half the seven hundred twenty rations of apples, and none of the hundred fifty rations of carrots. Well, that was why she was starting the rationing while they were still in town and could replenish their stores; now she had a handle on her baseline luxury loss rate. Turns out ponies loved apples and carrots. Who knew? She smiled to herself. Hmm. She'd post a note about the importance of not stealing from the militia in the camp, but some ponies were just thieves. She'd have to start posting full-time guards. She didn't mind if ponies foraged in the fields--that was a good habit to learn, according to the book--but taking from the supply carts would have to be an absolute no-no.

She'd have to find a good guard. Somepony who couldn't be bribed with a carrot or two for herself. Somepony who could not just dissuade, but who could catch a thief, so the thief could be disciplined in front of everypony else. After all, if you punish a filly in front of her sisters, the sisters will know you mean business.

She furrowed her brow, idly perusing the ledgers, checking the figures as she thought. Hm. Big Macintosh would do a good job at that, of course, but she leaned on him to do so much already, and it was better if he did three things wonderfully than five things competently. Anypony could do something competently. Rainbow Dash would be a great security chief, but she had joined the army or something. So had the rest of the celebrity girls. Derpy shook her head. It was nice they were serving, but she wished they had chosen to serve Ponyville. The librarian girl, Twilight--she would make a great aide, especially. Not that Davenport wasn't doing a fine job. But Twilight was special.

Derpy shook her head, and sucked the quill into her mouth. They were all special. All the celebrity girls. And Rainbow Dash was special too. She was one of the few fillies who wasn't mean to Derpy back in Cloudsdale. She wasn't a friend--she barely talked to her--but she wasn't mean, and sometimes she would even tell the others to stop being so mean. Derpy smiled. She liked Rainbow Dash. She was so happy when she learned that Dash had moved to Ponyville, even though she almost never talked to her. Yes. Dash was a special pony. The Nightmare Moon thing. And the Discord thing. And the dragon thing, and the parasprite thing, and the Sonic Rainboom thing, and the Appleoosa thing, and even the Iron Pony thing. She could do anything. Because she was special.

Derpy looked down at her hooves. Grey. Not particularly special. And a spot of ink had fallen on the left one. She should be careful about that. She rolled the quill around in her mouth. A Captain who's got ink on her face is a pretty sorry looking Captain. She sighed, long and soft. She wished Mac were her aide. Then she could have someone to talk to. If only he could write.

With her tongue, she pushed the quill back into writing position. No. Lonely could wait. So could scared. So could sad. They could wait until it was dark and nopony needed her. She looked back to the desk to the right. "Davenport," she said. "Come here."

He immediately trotted over, his mane remaining perfectly undisturbed. "Yes, Derpy? You need something?"

Irritation flashed across her face. "Davenport, do you call your mother Derpy?"

"It's not her name, madam," he replied blandly.

Her face became strict. Unyielding. "No. Davenport. I'm your Captain. I might not always be, but I am now. You need to call me Captain. None of us are used to it right now, but it's important that we all understand that there has to be a difference between me and you. There wasn't two weeks ago, and there won't always be, but right now there is. So it's Captain or ma'am, but nothing else."

"Yes, Captain," he said agreeably. "But surely you understand that it is rather silly that you and you alone have such a title. Why," he drew himself up, "I am aide-de-camp to our commander-in-chief, and yet I am accorded the same title and respect as Mademoiselles Lyra and Bon-Bon, whose chief responsibilities, so far as I can perceive, extend to giggling at orders and ignoring curfew."

Derpy thought for a second. "Yes. Ranks are important. Big Mac needs to be able to tell ponies what to do when I'm not there, and we can't rely forever on the fact that ponies like him."

Davenport made a show of holding his tongue. Derpy thought some more, and continued.

"...I don't really know what the ranks are. I picked Captain because it sounds nice. Let me get back to you, and--"

"--I am quite familiar with all customs of all forms of nobility and social hierarchy," Davenport interjected happily,"including the military. Er, ma'am, that is. If you wish, I could assist you in drawing up a system of ranks corresponding to duties and privileges..."

Derpy nodded. "Fine. But nothing is official until I see it and agree to it. And don't tell anyone, okay?"

Davenport gave a single curt nod.

Derpy went on. "Anyway, I called you here about the food supply figures you drew up. They're accurate, you're sure?"

"I have never presided over an accounting imbalance of a single bit at The Quill and Sofa, Captain."

"All right. I need a list of ponies in camp who would make good guards. Alert ponies. Trustworthy ponies. Strong ponies. We're going to need a lot more soon, so make it a big list. Put the better candidates on top and the okay ones on bottom. Don't put the bad ones on the list..."

Derpy trailed off in thought, then looked over at the circled supply wagons. She screwed up her face.

"And call in the Cakes, will you? We have access to all sorts of nice things here. I think everypony is getting tired of eating hay and apples. You know, I bet we'd all feel happier if we had a nice muffin now and then!"

Davenport agreed with scarcely contained delight. "Yes, Captain!" He slipped away, quietly and efficiently.

Derpy closed her left eye, and dipped her quill in ink, being careful not to spill any. She then brought the pen gently to the open scroll beside her, and began to write in a careful, flowing script.



PROCLAMATION TO THE MILITIA REGARDING OUR SUPPLIES

CAPTAIN DERPY HOOVES

The essence of war is sacrifice--we have begun to learn that, though there shall be many more such lessons to be endured. And in the face of sacrifice, the spirit by which an army lives or dies is the spirit of fellowship, in which each pony agrees that the welfare of one cannot long survive if the welfare of all is unsound. For this is the fundamental truth of war:

She paused, and rolled the words around in her head. Then she continued writing, carefully, intently.

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