• Published 19th Mar 2015
  • 5,312 Views, 301 Comments

Light of Harmony - GjallarFox

The Traveler has felt the victory of its Guardians at the Black Garden. With this decisive victory comes a new decision: take the fight to the Darkness. With a set of six Ghosts sent to the far reaches of the Sol system, what is it expecting to find?

  • ...

The LAX Cosmodrome

"Alright, so here's the plan!" Amuro shouted over the noise inside the stolen Cabal Harvester. "I'm going to drop you guys off on the west end of the cosmodrome. I'll be hovering over the drop site until you guys get inside. If the Fallen decide to ambush you outside, I'll wipe 'em out for you with the Harvester's gun."

"Once we're inside," J-Ami continued, "we Ghosts will use the cosmodrome's sensory array to find any remaining ships. From there, we'll head towards those ships and pray that the Fallen haven't picked them clean."

"The Fallen are sneaky, and they're ruthless. They don't go for capture. If you can, avoid being in close quarters to Captains or sword-bearing Vandals," Amuro finished. "Once your Ghosts send me the sign that you're in, I'll be headed out."

The air was tense within the ship. Pinkie was somehow back to being Pinkie, but she was still too quiet for anyone to consider her back to normal. But even then, there was the daunting task ahead, which, if done right, would involve the use of their new weaponry to kill things. Never before had any of them even thought about fatally harming another creature, let alone a sentient one of any kind. Even when fighting off the changeling invasion, none of them had caused too serious an injury to the invading ponies. This, however, was different. Twilight remembered that this was a war, and that every war has ended lives as a toll. It was a harsh truth to swallow, but she was a soldier now. She had weapons and armor like any other pony in the military. And now, she would fight like any other soldier.

"Drop in thirty seconds," Amuro called. "Ready up."

The ponies turned their attention to the main door of the ship, steeling themselves for what lay ahead. No, they were different from soldiers. They carried more with them. They weren't just some squadron of marines thrown together arbitrarily, expected to work together as though they knew each other. They were friends, best friends, closely linked through the magic of the Elements of Harmony. They had been through dozens of crazy adventures together, defeated threats to not only them, but their country and even their world. All of them were more than capable of being the heroes that Celestia and Luna told them they were destined to be.

The doors began to open. Rabbid wind rushed into the main belly of the ship. The dull hum of the engines soon became a near deafening roar, and the dim inside of the ship was soon flooded with the harsh glare of sunlight. Once the door was fully opened, the six rushed out of the ship landing on the hard ground. Everyone held their weapons tightly, and looked around. The landscape was sun-drenched. The frames of cars were rusted and sun-bleached, some barely held together by small tendrils of oxidized metal. The roads they lay stranded upon were riddled with cracks and arc fire scores. Chips of concrete and rusted steel littered the ground, and lichen grew on it, slowly reclaiming the material to become soil for the local flora. Tall grasses and a few flowering plants and vines dared grow from the cracks in the pavement, soaking up sunlight, not knowing or perhaps not caring that they weren't supposed to grow in those spots.

Directly ahead of them was a massive building with immense walls of concrete and steel. Rust had stained the surface of the concrete anywhere the iron rebar was exposed, and streaked down due to rain. Behind the wall was a tower with three spheres aligned vertically, likely the same size as the room with the masked man in the tower. In a pattern of tri-radial symmetry, three objects somewhat resembling the ships in the Tower hangar were attached to the tower. There was a hole in the wall the same width as the road they stood on, and about as tall as two of the ponies standing on each other's shoulders. This, they presumed, was the entrance to the cosmodrome.

"Each of your helmets comes with a heads-up-display. It'll show you what you need to know without distracting you from watching what's going on around of you," Amuro's voice said into the ears of all of the ponies. "The top left corner has an active radar. Unidentified targets will fill up whichever zone they're in relative to you, with the top section being forwards and the center being your immediate arm's-reach surroundings. In the bottom left, you can see how much ammo you've got in your weapon, in case you lose count of how many shots you've fired. Just above that you can see if you've got a grenade ready. Your Ghosts can actively make them from scrap material around you, but it takes time."

"Gotcha," Rainbow affirmed for the group.

"Also, you can't see it now, but there's a small bar in the top center of your heads-up. That's your armor's shielding. If the bar turns red, that means the shields are gone and the actual armor is taking damage. Try to avoid that as much as possible. Good news is, your Ghosts can repair your armor and regenerate the shields if you stay out of enemy fire for a bit. When in doubt, get to cover and wait a bit," Amuro advised. "Get moving. There's no Fallen around yet, so move quickly. If you're quick enough, you can slip out from beneath their noses without having to kill any."

"Let's go, girls. Let's make this quick," Twilight sighed, moving forwards towards the cosmodrome.

And so they moved forth, Amuro hovering where he'd dropped them off. True to his word, he hovered there until they reached the entrance to the cosmodrome. As soon as they were in the shadow of the wall, Amuro bade them farewell and turned the ship around, flying away towards the setting sun. Now back to just their own little group, the ponies progressed into the massive hallway in the wall. Vehicles were slightly better preserved here, but they weren't in much better shape than the ones outside. Most of their bodies were intact, but their entirety was covered in a thick layer of rust. Inside, skeletons lay bare of any flesh, jaws agape as though they died screaming.

"There, to the left. That door with sandbags," J-Ami said to the group, pointing a beam of light towards what she was referring to. It was a large door, not unlike those in the Canterlot palace, but it wasn't really a door so much as a glorified chain gate. Thin strands of steel wire were woven into a cross-hatched pattern, and looked to be designed to be pulled upwards to open. Next to it was a little metal box with twelve buttons and a tiny screen that still looked to be active, judging on the light coming from said screen. "The mainframe should be through that door. Let me take a look at it."

Twilight approached the door with her friends behind her, and watched J-Ami go to work. Concentrated beams of light shot forth from the Ghost towards the control panel of the door. A few seconds later, and the door's motor hummed to life, pulling it up and rolling it up around an axle. So they stepped forth into the dark halls of the cosmodrome's terminals.

Power hadn't been on for many decades in the LAX Cosmodrome. But it was clear that time had passed. The ponies walked up a flight of rusted metal stairs, guided by the light their Ghosts projected, up through a door that had been shot off its hinges by something that fired extremely hot projectiles. Twilight knew just by looking that the projectiles fired didn't completely break the hinges, but the heat of them melted whatever remained into a small puddle, which rested at the bottom of the doorway. Once through the doorway, there was at least some ambient light. The windows along the wall directly in front of them, was made of glass, allowing light from the outside in. Or at least, it was supposed to be. The now setting sunlight outside sparkled in from the shattered shards of shrapnel and glass. A few panels of the massive glass window remained intact, but those were few and far between. Rows of chairs and benches were overturned and riddled with holes and scorch marks and scorch marks on the metal bits. But above them was a sign that somehow remained untouched by time and war, that said, "TERMINAL 6."

"Terminal 6 specialized in flights to Mars. Specifically, a city called Clovis Bray," Z-Lda said. "It was the go-to destination for scientists and engineers and inventors wanting to make a name for themselves. They'd be given a lab and materials for free. All they had to do was pay for the flight, and sign a contract."

"Shame that's not a thing anymore. I'd have had a hayday with that," Twilight mused. "Then again, my research would have been beneficial almost exclusively to ponykind."

"Figure yourself a scientist, eh?" J-Ami asked her Guardian as she stepped over a piece of twisted shrapnel.

"I was the leader of a research team in Stalliongrad for research on why multiple layers of magical energy manifested around a unicorn's horn, and why only five could ever be achieved," she said as she looked around the dim terminal. "I was indeed a scientist."

"The terminal control room should be by Gate 12," K-Ayd informed. Looking around, they found an overturned sign saying they were currently walking past Gate 5. And it was a slow walk through the abandoned terminal. Every step was carefully placed so as to not disturb any of the skeletons laying around, or make unnecessary noise that could attract unwanted attention. "From the looks of it, we're the first ones in through Terminal 6 since the Collapse."

"I wonder what sort of relics are left of the Golden Age in here," O-Ron mused.

The ponies ignored him, focusing instead on the ever nearing sign that almost certainly read, "Gate 12." There were quite a few extra bones laying around nearby it. And as they got closer, they saw a number of objects that looked much like their weapons. Far more carefully they stepped as to not disturb the dead. Far more quietly they breathed to listen for any sign of movement. Far more wary they became near those murdered by the enemy still lurking nearby.

"That door," J-Ami said, pointing her light at the intended door, which, for the most part, was undamaged. It was spotted with singe marks, but it was neither rusted, nor off its hinges. And like the previous door, there was a small control panel directly beside it. "I got this."

The Ghost floated over to the panel and began firing small, concentrated beams of light at it, a faint dink echoing with each shot. It took a few minutes, but the door opened, the lock audibly slamming itself into its unlocked position.

"I'll pull it open, you guys go in, weapons up," Twilight whispered as she took a position in front of the door, ready to pull it open. As soon as the others lined up, she opened the door that hadn't been moved in a very long time.

The hallway within was narrow and dark. But that soon changed as the overhead lights started to flicker to life, illuminating the dull gray walls and metallic floor. The little corridor extended into the wall for about ten meters before turning right and up a flight of stairs. And as they planned, they went in with weapons raised. Rainbow went in first, both hands tightly gripping her small firearm. Applejack followed, watching the ceiling in case any enemies had indeed made it into this passageway and were now trying to hide by not being in the easiest view. Fluttershy was followed in by Twilight, who pulled the door closed behind them, the lock slamming back into its locked position. When they turned the corner to ascend the stairs, a chill ran up Rainbow's spine as she saw one light flickering just five or six meters above them at the top of the stairway. But up she went anyway with a grudging gulp and a deep breath for courage.

A panel in the wall at the top of the stairwell popped open with no warning as soon as Rainbow set foot on the first step. It whined with charged energy, an impressive gun pointed towards the ponies. An automated voice filled the cramped corridor, "SECURITY BREACH T6-G12. AUTHORIZING LIVE FIRE ON TARGETS."

Rainbow fired her hand cannon once at the little turret, the little weapon kicking back far more than she had anticipated with a loud bang, which their helmets dampened to a tolerable level. But her aim was true with that one little bullet, and it slammed into the barrel of the automated defense, rendering it unable to fire. Now useless, the little turret retreated into the wall, leaving it virtually seamless once more.

All of the ponies released their breaths. This was the first time any of them had shot a firearm before, and it was far more startling than any of them had anticipated. The threat of being shot at did not lighten the situation in the least. But they moved forward, now much more mentally prepared for whatever the enemy, or the cosmodrome, had in store for them. At the top of the stairs, there was a little room, with a few machines bolted and welded to the floor. It was big enough for about twelve people to have personal space, machinery included. To the right of the door, at the front of the room, was a massive monitor. Aside from the lights, none of the other equipment was receiving power.

"Looks like the lights and that turret were on their own power grid," K-Ayd observed. "I'll see if I can't get this stuff back up and running."

And so they waited, sitting down on the metal floor as the Ghost did his work. It was in this unused time that Twilight and Fluttershy seemed to relax if only for that moment. They found the soft noise of the Ghost at work oddly comforting, as though there was a kind of magic from back home in that sound. It felt familiar and reminded them of home, and some of the adventures they had shared there. Sure, now they were millions, maybe billions of miles away, on a planet almost like home, with a sun that seemed to rise and set of its own accord, with a moon sharing a similar autonomy to the sun. But in that small room, filled only with the sounds of their breathing and the Ghost at work, there was a sliver of comfort that they didn't quite know how to describe, other than it feeling just a little like home.

Twilight closed her eyes, and took Fluttershy's hand in her own, knowing how comforting the gesture was to her, and herself. The two intertwined their fingers, giving each other light squeezes as though to remind each other that they were still there. The others didn't notice, or maybe they did but didn't care. Or perhaps they knew something that others, outsiders trying to look in, wouldn't, or maybe couldn't understand. It could be speculated that the two were involved with each other beyond mere friendship, but that may not have been the case. They could very well have loved each other, but in a way that humanity hadn't seen before; a love that only needed strong companionship and gestures of comfort and affection.

There was a small click, and a whir of machinery returning to life from an age-old stasis. Words were not needed to confirm the success of the Ghost in restoring power to the room's machinery. Screens began to flicker with light, their ancient programming now being called upon after being sealed away and abandoned.

"Alright, it looks like there should still be a set of seven ships in Hangar 1, on the south side of the grounds. Looks like they're equipped with warp drives too," K-Ayd informed the group as he floated back to Rainbow.

Remembering that the door behind them was sealed with no way to open it from the inside, they looked around for any other doors. There was one other door with a little lit sign saying, "EXIT," on the opposite side of the room they entered from. When they re-entered the terminal, the lights were on, casting harsh white light from the ceiling to the floor and spilling out into the darkening twilight outside.

"Fastest way to the hangars is across the tarmac. We should get a move on before the Fallen come to look at the lights," O-Ron suggested for the group to hear.

"Don't worry about falling. All boots sold to Guardians must be fall-protective to thirty meters," K-Rah informed.

So the ponies leapt from the terminal floor to the tarmac below and began running towards the hangars on the south side of the cosmodrome. A few sections of the high-grip surface were destroyed and torn up by explosive munitions fire, and now various forms of vegetation were growing in the holes, since the dirt was exposed. But aside from dust, not much rubble was on the majority of the tarmac.

They were about halfway to the hangars when a dull screech began to crescendo into existence. And as it got louder, the ponies sprinted faster, hoping to get to the hangars before whatever was chasing them could catch them. They made it to the edge of Hangar 3 by the time the screeching was at its loudest. Above them and a few meters ahead, a ship about the size of the one they stole was hovering in front of the blast doors of Hangar 3. Ducking behind a wall, Twilight dared poke her head out to watch what their enemy was doing. In response, a mounted gun at the front of the ship fired a blue bolt of crackling energy towards her. She pulled back, and the shot flew past where her head had been just a second earlier. Feral howls soon screamed battle cries from the direction of the enemy ship.

Weapons fire soon began flying past the wall of the hangar the ponies were hiding behind. At first, they dared not pop out from their cover, as the ship hovering above their enemy was far too heavily armored to destroy or disable with their current weaponry. But as soon as the ship turned tail and flew off, Rainbow Dash leapt into the air with her great wings, and began returning fire to the enemies. The hand cannon barked loudly, and recoiled with each pull of the trigger, causing sharp vibrations to shoot through her arms almost up to her shoulders. But her aim was true, her shots hitting the red-masked creatures.

When Rainbow hit the ground once more, the others filed out from cover and began firing their own weapons. Twilight barely noticed anything about their enemies. They all seemed to be wearing red-markings, those with four arms wearing red capes and those with only two wearing red masks. As she fired her rifle at the enemy, she assessed that the smaller ones had stubs wrapped in bandages beneath their arms, leading her to believe that they were not a coalition of two species, but the same species with amputees in their forces. But that was something she would research later. For now, all that mattered was taking them down so they could finish their mission.

The small squadron of enemy troops was dispatched relatively easily. But they were not the only troops in the area. Another squadron of Fallen with long blades burst forth from the doors of Hangar 3, charging recklessly towards the group in hopes of taking down at least one of the ponies. Twilight, quick on her feet, brought her rifle to bear and let loose a blizzard of lead on the incoming enemies. But her fire was not enough alone to bring down the Vandals. Fluttershy was first to add her fire on the approaching sword-bearers, her pulse rifle bringing down one of the Vandals with the first burst. But there were too many of them to kill with just the two of them firing, so the two of them jumped back to avoid the first slashes from the quickest of the sword-bearers. "Rainbow, heads up!"

The pegasus sidestepped just in time to narrowly miss a vertical slash from a Vandal, then brought her hand cannon to bear on the poor thing. But where a loud bang should have kicked in her hand, there was a dull click instead. "Gotta reload. Cover me!"

"I gotcha," AJ replied, spraying the Vandal assaulting Rainbow with her auto rifle, several shots piercing its armor and spraying blue blood back towards AJ in response.

A Vandal in glossy stealth, nearly invisible to the unaided eye, stalked closer towards Applejack, using the chaos of its visible comrades to cover its own approach. It raised its blades, preparing to use them like a pair of scissors on the farm pony. But Rarity saw the thing's footprints in the dust, and plucked it from the ground in her magic. It screamed in confusion as it lost control of its own body, and then was slammed into one of its comrades, sending both of them tumbling in a mass of surprised noises and sharp objects. She then brought her scout rifle to bear on the pair of them, dispatching each with a pair of shots. And with no less elegance, she dropped the empty magazine from her rifle and switched it out with a new one, putting the old one back into the pouch on her chestplate.

With the Vandals out of the way, the group quickly made their way towards Hangar 1, making it there without further incursions from the Fallen. But the House of Devils had far more in store for them. For when the ponies made it to the Hangar, they heard the sound of Fallen skiffs approaching. And to top it off, the door to the Hangar had six different locking mechanisms.

"We'll handle the locks, you keep the Fallen off of us," J-Sly said, suddenly appearing with all of the other Ghosts, floating to the locks and beginning their work.

When the three skiffs arrived, they fired their frontal support cannons just like the first they'd seen. Predicting this, Twilight raised her palm and cast a shielding spell in front of the group, the arc bolts bouncing off and slamming back into the fronts of the skiffs. That damage seemed to do wonders, as the skiffs destabilized, the one on the left crashing into the middle, dragging both of them down onto the tarmac in a gleaming metal fireball. The one on the right, however, destabilized in a far different direction. It leaned forward, and crashed into the ground, skidding towards the group.

"Stand back!" Twilight ordered as she raised both of her palms to concentrate her magic. She grit her teeth and growled in an almost feral manner, pushing against the incoming skiff, stopping the thing just a foot away from her.

"They lived!" Pinkie warned, drawing attention from the downed skiff in front of them to the enemies now jumping out of it. As soon as she fired, all of the others joined her.

Pinkie and Rainbow took down the smaller, two-armed Fallen combatants with their hand cannons, alternating their fire so that they could cover each other's reloads. Twilight and Applejack focused on the sword-bearing Vandals who got anywhere near the group. Fluttershy covered the sides of the group, ensuring that any attempts at flanking them would fail miserably, and Rarity picked off the far-off Vandals trying to get a good sniper spot.

But then they heard a mighty roar and a bigger creature pulled itself from the wreckage of the skiffs. It wore fine red banners from its shoulders. In its bottom pair of arms were the finest swords among the small battalion of Fallen troops, and in its top pair it held a large weapon with a flaming muzzle and four barrels. It looked at the group of startled ponies and let loose a terrifying battle cry and trudged towards them, bringing the weapon to bear on them.