• 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?

  • ...

Super Power: Fist of Havoc

A massive metallic clunk hit the ears of the ponies, dampened only slightly by distance and the massive hangar doors. All of the ponies drew their weapons, as well as checking their new side arms. Satisfied that they were ready for battle, they bolted out onto the tarmac. The harsh sunlight glared off of the metal and glass of crashed ships. But their helmets helped polarize that light, keeping it from blinding them. About a hundred meters away, the ponies saw the largest and most immediate threat. A massive metal insectoid behemoth stood on six armored legs, its six armored legs thicker than one of them could hug around. On its back was an enormous gun, the barrel of which extended a few meters past the head of the beast. Beside that gun was a set of four rockets in a small square pod. The mouth of the machine was another gun, probably manned from the inside of the thing. And on the very back of the metal beast was a small nest with a Vandal in House of Kings colors manning a swivel-turret.

Nopony said a word, opting instead to shoot a glare at Rainbow, who smirked nervously and scratched at the back of her neck. Turning back to the metal monstrosity, they noticed that it was standing perpendicular to what it had been deployed to defend: a large tube-like machine that was drilling into the ground for glimmer. With the frontal gun lacking the range of motion to turn and shoot them, and the Vandal on the rear turret not noticing their presence, Twilight started plotting the demise of the massive mobile artillery unit. "I'll take out the guy on the rear turret. Once that happens, Pinkie will throw a grenade at the frontal gun, and Rarity will throw one at the rockets."

"And after that?" Rainbow asked.

"Attack the big thing. Only fight the small fries when they get too close," the unicorn replied, slinging her auto rifle to her back and bringing up her new sniper rifle. "Ready?"

Taking aim down the scope, Twilight let out her breath, listening to her heartbeat slow down a little. She lined up the crosshairs of her weapon's scope with the head of the Vandal's head and waited for it to stop swiveling. The instant it stopped at the edge of its range of motion, she squeezed the trigger, making the rifle yelp and kick. But her aim was true, and the bullet pierced the head of the Vandal and probably kept going, the enemy's head exploding like a watermelon filled with compressed air.

As soon as that happened, all of the foot-soldiers raised their weapons and started looking around, searching for the source of their comrade's death. They shrieked a battle cry as Pinkie bounced towards them, holding a grenade in her left hand, and her hand cannon in her right. As the Walker turned to locate its targets for its frontal turret to eliminate, Pinkie shot a few of the Dregs that got just a bit too close to stabbing distance. The Walker made a mechanical screech and fired a burst of powerful arc shots from the frontal turret, which missed Pinkie by a few inches. She tossed the grenade down directly under the turret. As soon as it exploded, Pinkie handsprung back a few times to rejoin her friends.

Rarity then threw her grenade, the purple sphere sticking to its intended target, and exploding in a purple flash. The rocket launcher fell off of the Walker, hitting the ground with a loud metallic banging noise, the loaded rockets in it becoming useless without the firing mechanism in the main body of the Walker. As though angered by the systematic destruction of its support weaponry, the Walker's main gun turned to the ponies' position. "Scatter!"

Every single one of them jumped back as far as they could, just in time to avoid a shell that exploded right where they had been but a few seconds earlier. "Go for the legs! If you damage them enough, it will expose the reactor core!" one of the Ghosts told the Guardians. With this information, Applejack switched to her auto rifle, letting loose a stream of fire on the behemoth's front left leg. Upon seeing which leg Applejack had begun to fire on, the others joined her, assaulting that particular leg with everything they had. Rainbow, upon needing to reload her hand cannon, tossed a grenade at the leg of the Walker. The explosion, combined with the damage done by weapons fire, was enough to blow the plating off the Walker's leg and make the metal beast stumble. The head of the machine pulled away from the main body, exposing a glowing hot piece of machinery that distorted the air around it. "There! Shoot that!"

Twilight aimed her sniper at the exposed core and fired, sending a bullet as big as her eye into the machine. She pulled back the bolt of the sniper and chambered another round, letting that one loose as well. Pinkie pulled out her brand new fusion rifle, wanting to test it in battle, and began charging it. Rainbow fired a full magazine of her hand cannon into the core, hoping the massive rounds would be enough to destroy it quickly. But upon Pinkie letting loose one shot of her fusion rifle into the reactor, the beast pulled back, its core disappearing back inside the thick armor of the beast. Rainbow cursed, "Damn it! Time to blow up another leg!"

"Girls, reinforcements are here!" Rarity whined.

"Luna damn it all," Applejack cursed as she turned to face the incoming formation of Fallen skiffs. The ships fired a few support shots to distract the ponies, and a few grenades were tossed out of the craft to clear the drop zone. As soon as Applejack could bring her rifle to bear on the reinforcements, the Walker had her in its sights again, and she was forced to leap back a few meters to avoid the shell that it decided she alone was deserving of. "That main gun's gonna be the death of all of us if we can't blow it up!"

"The only things that can blow that gun up are artillery rounds," Z-Lda replied. "We just have to work around it."

"Fuck it all!" she screamed in frustration. Turning to a freshly dropped Dreg, she punched the poor thing square in the face, sending it flying back into a Vandal. The resulting mass of flailing arms and screaming rolled under the leg of the Walker just as it brought it down, crushing both of them beneath it. The Captain, furious at Applejack for killing two of his underlings with a single fist, let loose a hailstorm of fire from his shrapnel launcher, multiple flaming pieces of metal flying towards her. Seeing it coming, she ducked beneath them and rolled forward, the Captain caught off guard by the maneuver. As soon as she came out of the roll, she sprung up on her powerful legs, sending a flying uppercut into the Fallen's jaw. But it didn't send the enemy flying like she'd hoped. So right when the Captain recovered from the surprise fist, he returned the favor with one of his own, knocking her back about a meter. With that, Applejack slung her rifle across her back and put up her fists, the Captain recognizing it as a challenge to a fist fight and doing the same with his shrapnel launcher.

Meanwhile, Rarity was locked in a duel of her own for the role of dominant sniper. A Vandal with a wire rifle was playing cat and mouse with her, popping in and out of cover in a few different spots, both hoping that their random crack shots would hit and end the standoff. But that would not be the case for either of them, as they were evenly matched in marksmanship, missing by minuscule margins due to uncontrollable factors like wind and the shaking of the ground due to the Fallen's drill.

Fluttershy found herself locked in a constant flurry of movement, seeming to dance with Death. Every time she twirled him, a Fallen died by her weapons. But she was still a novice fighter at best. Every so often a few rounds of enemy fire would break her shields, but she would go long enough without taking more fire that her shields could recover while she kept killing the Dregs and Vandals that kept coming her way. And then a Captain joined her in the dance, slashing at her and forcing her to begin fighting defensively.

With all of the distractions, the ponies forgot that the Walker was still around. The metal beast opened a hatch on its body and let out a tiny robot about the size of one's torso. On the back two corners were a pair of propulsion engines that kept the tiny machine airborne. On the front end was a tiny camera that allowed it to see where it was flying. The little machine turned around and began inspecting the busted leg of the Walker before the small mounted gun on the bottom of it switched out for a welding torch. About five seconds into repairing the behemoth, the flying drone was shot down with a single shot from Rainbow's hand cannon. "It's trying to repair itself! Focus on the Walker!"

Applejack hollered back, "I'm a mite busy over here!" Rainbow sighed and shot at the Captain she'd been fist fighting with, hitting it in the back with two of the shots. The sudden muscle spasms the pain of getting shot gave the Titan ample opportunity to land a highly frustrated punch on the Captain's face, which shattered his helmet and sent him flying about five meters where he suffocated from lack of ether. "Thanks, Dash."

"Just shoot the Walker," the pegasus replied as she threw a grenade at the Walker's legs. The little sphere flew through the air and connected with the middle left leg and stuck there as arc energy began building up inside it. In a second, it exploded and tore a hole in the armor plating of the leg, which the rest of the ponies focused their fire on. As soon as it exploded and sent its damaged armor flying, the core exposed itself again, steaming and distorting the air around it.

Pinkie bounced up and pulled the Golden Gun from above her as she had when things were looking desperate against the Archon, a loud snap echoing across the tarmac. Without falling, she aimed the fiery weapon at the Walker's core and fired the three shots of solar light within it, all three sending streams of sparks flying like fireworks displays. And once the Golden Gun burned up, she fell back down to the ground and pulled out her regular hand cannon once more.

The core was pulled back into the behemoth's main body, sealed behind the impenetrable body plates once more. With the Walker still operational, Applejack cursed again, feeling frustrated that they couldn't take the metal beast down even with Pinkie's best weapon. "How many bullets can this thing take‽"

"Doesn't matter, just keep shooting it!" Twilight answered as she fired a round from her sniper at the Walker's back left leg. The instant it hit, the mechanical beast turned its main cannon towards her, making her squeal and jump sideways to avoid the incoming shell. However, the crew inside the beast, if there was one, kept the barrel moving as it fired. The tank shell missed Twilight's body by a mere inch, but exploded close enough behind her to send shards of shrapnel into her back and throw her like a rag doll a few meters. "Fuuuck!"

"Twi's hit! Cover her!" Applejack barked to the others as she felt a very righteous rage wash over her. Reminded of a time when she had to defend her little sister, she leapt forward and jumped onto the Walker, hooking her foot into a handle on the main body above the leg that was likely meant to be for carrying foot soldiers. She then gripped the armor plate of the leg and started pulling at it with sharp jerks. With a loud screech, the plate began to loosen. A bolt popped out of place. The plate bent slightly. Another bolt snapped under the tension. Another one of the small flying repair drones appeared from a hatch to her left, which she grabbed with both hands and bashed against the loosened plate of the Walker's leg until it was but a pile of scraps. She then ripped the leg's loosened armor off, and jumped down with it in her hands. Once on the ground, she swung the hunk of metal at the exposed frame of the leg, near busting the joint, and cutting an important looking bundle of small wires. The leg collapsed and the core of the machine exposed itself for the third time. "Shoot the core!"

With Twilight back to fighting condition, everyone was able to partake in the vicious attack on the core. Everyone fired everything they had at the machine's weakest point, hoping and praying that this would be enough to destroy it once and for all. Fanfares of gunshots hailed the flying lead like the beginning of a jousting match. A grenade flew from Pinkie's hand, but failed to make it to the core before it retreated into the behemoth's body once again. The tiny golden sphere bounced uselessly off the left side of the metallic beast, exploding near nothing worth blowing up.

The Walker's main gun turned to face the group of ponies once more and fired, hitting all of the scattering ponies with at least the concussion wave. Shrapnel from the shell itself burrowed deep into the backs of Twilight and Fluttershy, and sliced through Rainbow's left wing. All of them screamed in pain, falling to the ground. A shard of metal from the downed fighter that the shell made contact with flew through the air spinning like helicopter blades. That fifteen inch shard then impaled Rarity through the back and sticking out through her belly. The unicorn couldn't even scream in pain, the shock of the feeling numbing it. She froze in place, feeling with her left hand at the wound, feeling warm moisture and a sharp sliver of metal. When she brought her hand up to look at what the moisture was, she screamed and looked down at her belly. More incoherent shrieking followed as she realized what had just happened.

Applejack screamed out as though she herself had been hit, though she'd only been knocked over by the concussion wave. But somehow, there was a feeling deep within her that could understand the pain of all of her friends. She could feel the shrapnel everywhere each of her friends had been hit. The three four inch shards in Twilight's trapezoidal muscles, and the five three inch shards in Fluttershy's lower back. She could feel the blood dripping from Rainbow's wings, even though she herself did not have wings. And most of all, she could feel the fifteen inch steel shard in Rarity's belly. The pain put that of her heat cycle cramps to shame.

That much pain, concentrated into one being can change them. It can either break them; grind them down until there is no longer a mote of will to go on; shatter their mind until all that remains is a shadow of what they had been. Or, it can forge them. It can shape the perceptions of limitations of that being, bending 'Fuck, this hurts,' into 'Bring it, I've had worse.' It sets the frame for all future experiences, expanding the threshold for pain, boosting tolerance, and sets the stage for improvement. What doesn't kill will boost strength in at least one capacity. Applejack didn't die then there, nor did any of her friends. But that pain was enough for her to realize that she was furious. Not just at the Walker for inflicting such wounds on her friends, and not just at the Fallen for attempting to murder them on multiple occasions. She was entirely enraged by the entirety of their situation. Their Ghosts had lied to them. Their home was dead. They were not in their own bodies. They were now killing things they didn't understand instead of investigating them or attempting peace negotiations. Now they were fighting for the survival of a race they had never met before. They were soldiers now, and she hated every part of it. She was a farmer, not a fighter. She ran an orchard, not a boot camp. She made cider, not caskets.

All of this anger felt like too much to just keep inside for much longer. She'd bottled it up since they'd first arrived at the Tower, and every little thing had only added a little more pressure behind the cork. But there was another feeling alongside, perhaps ingrained into, that fury. At first she thought it to be pain, but it was different from that. It felt like the soreness after Apple Bucking Season, when she'd buck down half of the orchard alone. She'd always associated that feeling with how strong she was, and how proud of that strength she was. Strength. Once she realized that she felt strength in her fury, she turned to the Walker, glaring daggers at it. She stood tall, watching unflinching as a horde of Dregs charged towards her to try to bring her down. With a savage scream, she leapt forward, lifting both hands together over her head while she was still in the air.

The ground shattered like glass. She opened herself to her anger and let it free, slamming it down onto the tarmac just a few meters from the Walker. A tidal wave of arc energy exploded from her fists, wiping away all of the Dregs charging her and all the Vandals behind them. At first, it looked as though they had only been sent flying, but after a moment, they all fizzled out of existence. The wave did not stop at the foot soldiers, though. It kept expanding outwards, the meteors of her fists having more than enough energy to devastate a city block. And when that wave crashed against the Walker's metal hide, it kept pushing forward. What force got redirected was sent upwards, barreling up into the underbelly of the machine. It took only the blink of an eye to send the Walker flying upwards, spinning like a rolling barrel of cider. If there was a crew inside the walking metal behemoth, they were undoubtedly praying to whatever god they had if they weren't panicking.

The Walker landed on the ground with a dull metallic thunk, much like it had when it was first dropped onto the tarmac. Its main gun was still facing the left side of its body, and it didn't look like it had taken much substantial damage. However, the Walker was no longer the greatest threat on the battlefield, as it had been flipped onto its back, and its main gun had been bent when it landed, rendering it incapable of firing. In addition to being unable to fire, the mechanism that allowed the gun to swivel was broken by the landing, leaving the gun incapable of moving or being used to tip the Walker back onto its feet. And to top it all off, it had crushed the glimmer extraction drill that they had been tasked with destroying. The only things that could flip it back over were the Fallen's skiffs, and Applejack herself. And as the dust settled, the remaining three legs violently exploded, sending shrapnel flying high into the air and outwards. A Captain that had watched with all four eyes wide in disbelief cringed just before one of the Walker's leg plates slammed into him from the explosions.

But even in the face of such transgressions as attempted murder, she had seen the honor that the Fallen wished to display when Pinkie had killed the Archon from the House of Devils. She had witnessed that murderous being, that so called marauder, shake hands with the adversary who bested him in battle. She had seen most Vandals bearing swords instead of firearms, denying the protection of stealth. Perhaps that was because they were not deemed worthy to bear a stealth cloak, or perhaps this was their way of claiming honor, going up against a foe with more traditional manners in a more traditional, honor-bound way. And she had challenged a Captain to a fist fight and had it accepted. She could not let this Captain, this Fallen, this creature with thoughts and feelings that she could possibly understand, be slaughtered without question.

She stepped in front of the Captain just before the leg plate slammed into him, and threw a mighty punch at it. The plate slammed into her fist at such a high velocity that it crumpled and molded itself to her arm, becoming a three inch thick gauntlet that kept her arm from bending. Applejack grunted slightly, the force making her slide back until she was caught and stopped by the Captain behind her. When she looked back, she saw the massive Fallen nod at her, as though giving some grudging respect. When he let go of her, he set down his shrapnel launcher and raised his arms in what looked to be surrender, his four hands held open to show no weapons. Applejack's Ghost appeared over her shoulder, and dematerialized the metal that encased her arm, rematerializing it a foot or so away, letting it fall to the ground with an obnoxious clunk. In return, the Fallen reached its lower left hand to its chest, unfastening a clasp that held its bright yellow cape up. When it fell to the ground, Applejack bowed to the mighty creature, who bowed back. And when she offered him an outstretched hand, he accepted with his bottom right hand. Off in the background, the Walker exploded from being unable to allow its main core to cool. Neither of them flinched.

"I think we just made a friend," Applejack called over to the rest of her friends, who had since recovered from their wounds thanks to their Ghosts. As Rarity approached, Applejack turned to her and gave her a tight hug, overjoyed that she had made it through this fight. Though she would never admit it to anyone, beneath her helmet she wept. For the first time in a very long time, she let herself cry in front of her friends, if only because of the helmet's protection from their gaze. After all, she was a very proud pony.

"How the hay are we going to get him back to the Tower?" Twilight asked the farmer who'd earned the respect of the Fallen.

"I guess I can fit him in my ship," she replied with a shrug. "I've got enough space, and I figure this fella won't try to kill me."

"Alright, but you're taking center this time," her Warlock friend conceded. "Let's go see what was in that chest."

It took all but a minute to return to Hangar 1, where they had been investigating the mysterious Stranger who'd taken the seventh ship. In that time, Applejack had tried to get the Fallen to speak, even in his native tongue. With her Ghost attempting to translate for her to what little of their language the Ghosts knew, but a continuous lack of success, she figured that perhaps the Fallen was in shock from her flipping the Walker.

"Respect," a throaty growl said, slightly muffled by a mask.

Applejack looked at the Captain curiously, and asked, "What do you mean?"

"You. Strong," he said to her, taking care to enunciate everything, as though its native tongue required very careful pronunciation and he wanted to make sure he said the words properly. "You. Protect. Friend. Before. Self. I... Respect. You."

"I respect you too," Applejack replied slowly, taking care to ensure that the Fallen could understand her. "Do you have a name? My name is Applejack."

"I. Am, called, Shirska," the Captain answered. "Now, we, friend."