• Published 4th Aug 2015
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Before the Storm: The Rise of Firefly - Firesight

Before the Wonderbolts, there were the Bolt Knights. And before Rainbow Dash, there was Firefly. The story of Rainbow Dash's ancestor, the origin of the Wonderbolts, and the coming of the Great Pony/Gryphon War.

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Appendix A: Equestrian Order of Battle

The Equestrian Order of Battle
on the Eve of the Gryphon War

Equestrian Armed Forces:

Total peacetime strength: ~60,000 ponies split between the following service branches, though only a fraction of that strength is normally available at any given point.

I. Royal Guard

The Royal Guard defends Canterlot and provides security, intelligence and training services for the rest of the Equestrian military. Primary responsibility is the security of the capital and princess, but can be deployed as needed.

1. Intelligence/Plainclothes Security Division

Disguised as ordinary ponies, maids or other castle staff, the PSD is responsible for providing undercover security for Canterlot, Celestia and various high-ranking figures/other nobles. The Equestrian Intelligence Service is run out of this branch and will also launch infiltration or intelligence gathering missions as needed. Almost all mares, but takes unicorns, pegasi and earth ponies. Well-trained and drills frequently, but rarely sees real action as they’re mostly there to stop spies and assassins.

Strength: ~5,000 ponies, stationed mostly in Canterlot but a few attached to outlying towns and bases.

2. Armored Guard

At the time of Firefly’s enlistment, an elite division consisting of separate regiments of earth ponies, pegasi, and unicorns. The only all-stallion unit in the Equestrian military, and the only true combat unit that stallions have.

Given the need to keep male breeding numbers up in the mare-heavy Equestrian society, only stallions that have sired at least one male offspring are allowed to join. Primarily garrisons and provides security for Canterlot and Celestia, though the latter doesn’t truly need it.

The best-trained and equipped unit of the Equestrian Armed Forces, training is brutal and only a quarter of those who attempt it make it through. But those who do proudly wear the armor of the Royal Guard. The self-proclaimed ‘spearhead’ of the Equestrian military, they would only be used for critical attacks or defense.

Strength: three regiments, ~1,000 stallions each for ~3,000 total.

II. Equestrian Aerial Corps

Best regular unit of the Equestrian armed forces. Staffed by pegasi and some very few thestrals, who are still in disfavor with greater Equestria after their perceived alliance with Nightmare Moon. Sees the most action of the entire Equestrian military fighting border skirmishes with the gryphons and other races, so their readiness is generally excellent.

Mostly mares, but a few stallions, whom are not usually allowed to fight. Primarily responsible for patrolling Equestria’s borders and keeping airborne species like gryphons and dragons in check. Well-trained and able to wield weather as a weapon but sometimes stretched thin. Combat veterans get the coveted “Wing Warrior” Badge.

Strength: five air divisions, each responsible for a particular area of Equestria and in peacetime mustering around 2500 pegasi each.

III. Equestrian Army

Primarily earth pony and unicorn mares with some stallions, mostly in support roles. Garrisons border towns and bases, providing local protection; they occasionally see action against Diamond Dog and Gryphon raids. Earth ponies are for close combat and rely on their strength, stamina and resistance to magic, while unicorns tend to fight from a distance using longbows and ranged magical attacks.

Strength: ten divisions with a peacetime strength of around 2,500 ponies each, spread thin throughout Equestria. Unicorns and earth ponies tend to be in separate units. Decently trained and can operate independently given the earth pony ability to grow food anywhere. Earth ponies can also use heavy siege equipment, though there is little in the way of it to start. Also, their training tends to be subordinate to tending their crops, so force readiness often suffers around the harvest and sowing seasons.

IV. Royal Navy

Equestria maintains a small fleet of armored dirigible airships which are mostly to ‘show the flag’, but they can move ground troops around quickly and provide fire support from magical ballistae if necessary. Crewed mostly by unicorns, but also have a pegasus air wing assigned for close defense and launching the equivalent of air strikes. Earth ponies aren’t big on flying so you won’t generally see them on ships, but they’re often assigned to the ground crews that are supposed to keep them flight-worthy.

At one time, the Royal Navy was the signature service of Princess Luna—“If the Guard is Equestria’s shield, the Navy is its sword,” Luna herself once said. But after the War of the Celestial Sisters in which most of the Navy sided with Luna, the service was reduced to a shadow of its former self and its former role has been split between the Guard and Aerial Corps. As such, this once-proud arm of the Equestrian military has been neglected and reduced to a mostly ceremonial branch of the armed forces, little more than a glorified ferry service Celestia only keeps around out of love and remembrance of her lost sister.

Strength: 12 airships of various size and classes, each crewed by anywhere from 50-200 unicorns and, for the larger ships, having an attached air wing of 50 to 200 pegasi. At any given point there’s only enough naval troops available to crew a few, however, and they’re typically only brought out for shows or diplomatic affairs. Rarely to never sees action, and tends to be used by nobles and royals just to say they’ve had military service. Also around ~200 smaller craft which are used to ferry troop detachments and supplies for the other services.

V. Auxiliary Units

1) Pegasus Militia - Unique to Cloudsdale. Troops are generally decent given pegasus warrior heritage, but not up to the level of the Equestrian Aerial Corps. ~5,000 ponies

2) Earth Pony Militia - Each town and city tends to have its own, though training levels vary widely. Troop quality ranges from poor to barely adequate. ~10,000 ponies

3) Equestrian Intelligence Service - Civilian-run adjunct of the Royal Guard, responsible for detecting external and internal threats. Exact numbers classified.

4) Black Lances - Highly-trained special operations battalion of the Equestrian Aerial Corps. Often performs intelligence gathering and covert operations in close cooperation with the EIS. Their tasks include spying, sabotage... and when called for, assassination. One of the few pony units the Gryphons genuinely respect and fear. ~200 pegasi

5) Office of Magical Research - Secretive independent division of the EIS, mostly involved with discovering new forms of ‘defensive magic’, though a watchful observer might wonder why there seems to be a lot of research into elemental abilities of late. Activities and numbers are heavily classified.

6) Princess Celestia - Despite her peaceful nature and aversion to conflict, Celestia has fought several wars in the past, including a very brutal one with her own sister that still haunts her to this day. She is quite capable of combat and her alicorn-level magic and control of the sun makes her, if she so desires, a living Weapon of Mass Destruction that could lay entire armies and cities to waste. Though she cannot be everywhere and does not generally involve herself over minor raids and skirmishes, she would deal with any existential threat against her ponies personally and any attack contemplated on Equestria would have to account for her presence.


Earth Ponies - spears and foreleg-mounted crossbows they can work with their teeth; some wield blades or snares with their mouths. Can wear heavy armor with ease, though there’s not enough of it to go around.

Unicorns - wield longbows with enchanted arrows of various effects, and can launch magical attacks/project shields. Wears enchanted armor to defend against curses and other magic—the Gryphons do have some mages.

Pegasi - harness-mounted wingblades and hoofstrikers, some few crossbows. With the exception of the Armored Guard pegasi, which can handle heavier loads, wear light armor only.

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