• Published 28th Oct 2015
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Guardians - PseudoFiction



The headhunters have made it back to Equestria. But will team Flintlock be able to warn Princess Celestia of the looming danger in time?

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"Fuck-me-sideways!"

It was quite surprising what a surge of adrenaline could do for your speed. Take Twilight Sparkle for example. She was a bookish sort of girl, not exactly the most fit pony in the world, and certainly not the fastest runner. But flapping her wings to give her an extra boost of speed while she ran she was able to keep up with the Spartan headhunters’ full gallop at least.

Even on a rush of adrenaline her friends Rarity and Rainbow Dash could barely keep up, and one of those was an airborne streak.

Moments ago they watched a single ship descend from the Covenant battle cruiser. And then, after was a short pause came a swarm of purple dots. Like a plague of flies the swarm of drop ships and banshee interceptors rained down the valley. The largest of the formations descended over Canterlot, flash bombing streets and raining alien troops to the ground.

The rest came screaming down the valley wall and buzzed Ponyville’s airspace. So far there were only banshees milling about the pegasi zipping about to shield the town with dense carpets of cloud and the beams of unicorns taking pot shots at the alien aircraft. But the dozen or so banshees were enough to rain an ungodly tirade of plasma upon them.

The street to Marko’s left exploded, showering him bit bits of rock and dirt, and the smoldering remains of what used to be a lawn. Blinking away the grit he glanced up to see a banshee strafe a pegasus. The bubblegum colored mare screamed and bolted just in time, swinging tight around one of the carpets of cloud cover she’d put up. Somehow the plasma impacted with the jet black cloud like it was a solid object, only instead of penetrating and hitting the mare and the buildings underneath, the cloud broke up and began to evaporate like a single-use shield.

It seemed the ponies had some defenses at least, and were making the most of them for now. The counter offensive wasn’t going so well.

Reaching the train station, Ishmir disappeared onto the platform to check the train while Marko paused to watch Twilight Sparkle skid to a halt. Her wings flared she charged her magic and lit up the sky with a beam of deadly looking pink energy.

The beam crackled with lightning bolt before impacting the side of the banshee. The craft’s shields fizzled, but held and their glow faded by the time it circled around.

“Oh, fuck!” the princess cursed realizing the plasma guns were flashing again as bolts traced up the street towards her.

Rainbow Dash and Rarity caught up just in time, the three fillies darting into the cover of the train station. Plasma pocked the exterior walls, but the structure held until the banshee was forced to end the attack run by pulling up sharply.

The banshee zipped overhead, Marko poking his head out to give it a look. Thankfully it didn’t come back for seconds, rejoining the formation of other fliers to harass the townstead.

Looking back down across the platform he saw there was a train decorated with all the same girly aesthetics of the town that made Marko sick parked along the station. The locomotive seemed pointed in the right direction, leading up the rails sloping up the mountain and towards Canterlot. But there were no passengers, and no crew as far as Marko could see.

He saw a stallion gallop out one of the carriages, wearing a uniform reminiscent of the tram conductors he’d seen before on his homeworld. Chasing the pony out was Ishmir.

“But it’s an emergency!” Ishmir cried, but the conductor was gone already. “Damn. The crew abandoned ship!”

“Fuck. Can you drive a train?”

“Can’t be much harder than a space plane.” Ishmir shrugged, glancing across at where Twilight Sparkle stood by her panting friends.

Rarity in particular looked distressed. She was hopping from hoof to hoof like she’d found a spider in her dress. Rainbow Dash on the other hand looked slightly more collected, like she was ready to pounce. Her eyes were darting between the princess and the sky, like she wanted to zip up there and help the other pegasi lay down cloud barricades, but at the same time wanted to stick by her friends.

“What is going on!?” Rarity squealed.

“It’s war of the worlds, that’s what. Those things are aliens right!?” Rainbow Dash blurted out. “Like the once you told us about in the Everfree Forest? What you call them? Headhunters?”

“No!” Twilight almost screamed. “These things are Covenant. Covenant bad, humans good!” she glanced to Ishmir and Marko and swallowed.

“Warlock, we gotta go!” Marko called, indicating the train.

The comment seemed to confuse Rarity even further. “Warlock? What did he call you? What in Equestria are you going to do?” she stopped Twilight Sparkle in her tracks, staring at her friend pleadingly.

Twilight quickly wrapped her friends in a hug. “I have to go to Canterlot, I need to help the princesses deal with that ship. You should find our friends and gather as many ponies as you can and run into the Everfree Forest.”

“The Everfree Forest?” Rainbow Dash asked, and Twilight nodded.

“Evacuate to the Castle of the Two Sisters. It’s well enough hidden and quite fortified, especially in the basement. It’ll be a good place to hide and the thick forest canopy should give good cover.” Sensing her friends didn’t want to let her go to Canterlot alone, Twilight gave her friends one last hug. “You can do this. I know you can. Now go… go!”

Rarity was still hesitant, but with Rainbow Dash reassuring her they were off, back into the mess that was Ponyville to do as they were asked to.

They have the easy job, Twilight thought to herself as she boarded the train with Marko and Ishmir.

Towards the front of the train they broke into the locomotive to find the fire was well stoked and the dials were all in green zones. Twilight had a whole library of knowledge in her brain, among which were several books on engineering, mainly the workings of trains. Her magic glowed as she turned several dials, threw levers and disengaged the parking brake.

In moments they were chugging up the tracks, sloping up hill and winding along the mountainside. They hissed in and out of tunnels, blurring up the mountain towards the burning city above them.

“So. Your friends seem nice.”

Blinking, Twilight pulled her gaze from the countryside now bathed in acrid smoke to Ishmir. Despite everything, she managed the tiniest of smiles. She was opening her mouth, about to accuse Ishmir of charming her with his concern for her mindset again but she was interrupted by a wail of Covenant anti-gravity engines.

A shadow slid by the windows, and running to look the trio saw a ship hover alongside the Friendship Express. The Covenant phantom’s undercarriage glowed with lines of pale blue light indicating the gravity defying engines that held the vehicle aloft. The sides of the sleek beetle-like vehicle folded downwards, then collapsed in to leave a set of ramps from which the alien passengers leapt to the speeding train.

Hanging out an open window, Marko ignored the whipping of the wind at his fur, spotting several shadowy silhouettes clear the space between them and land on the roof of the rearmost carriage. Company was coming.

Stepping back, Marko immediately whipped his head round to look at Twilight. “Warlock!”

“Yeah?”

“Fuck-me-sideways!”

“What?” The princess gave him a strange look with a cocked head before an expression of realization came over her. “Oh, right! Transformation spell. Got it!”

Twilight quickly gathered her magic, a glow enveloping her horn then spreading down to her eyes. Invisible strings tugged at her mane and tail, lifting the strands of hair high on a non-existent breeze as the magic spread, gently glowing over her whole body before long.

But nothing else seemed to happen.

“Well?” Marko snapped impatiently.

“I’m charging the spell,” Twilight Sparkle explained.

“And how long is that going to take?”

“About… uh… five minutes?”

Marko looked like he was about to scream. “What!? And you couldn’t let us know there’s a five minute charge time before, sparkle-butt!?”

“Well I’ve been a bit distracted, fuck-face!” She poked Ishmir in the ribs a little harder than she intended. “Would you look at him!? He’s fucking dreamy!”

Marko gave an aggravated cry. “Now we gotta fight Covenant in pony form because you’re fucking dreamy!?”

“You are not pinning this on me!” the other headhunter snapped back as he led the way into the next carriage.

Sprinting through the dividing corridors, the Spartans made it two carriages down before Ishmir stopped at the far door. Rearing up he planted his hooves on the door and looked through the circular window into the next carriage.

Almost immediately he ducked back down and waved Marko back.

“Brutes.”

Marko sighed heavily. “Ugh, I hate those guys.”

Leaping up onto a backrest of one of the benches, Ishmir propelled himself into one of the overhead luggage compartments and slid some of the leftover luggage in front of himself. Marko quickly ducked into one of the booths to hide, peeking under the benches in search of targets.

No sooner had they hidden from sight the connecting doors opened and two figures moved into the carriage.

Marko didn’t twitch as a wide, flat alien foot stomped into view quite close to his face. All that stood between him and the improbable offspring of a gorilla and a grizzly bear was a padded bench. An obstacle the hirsute giants could likely tear right through if only they knew the ponified Spartan was hiding there.

Thankfully for them – the brutes that is – they did not know that demons lurked nearby. And when they realized, it was already too late. Ishmir leapt from his high hiding place like a heavy jack-in-the-box, spraying the brutes with luggage.

The blue armored minors recoiled with surprise and tried to bring their weapons to bear, but Ishmir was on them already. He grabbed the one closest to Marko around the head, pulling him down low while he unleashed a powerful kick into the other’s face. The brute span away spraying one of the windows with black blood.

Marko sprang up as the other brute doubled over under Ishmir’s weight. Normally the headhunter would have used his bayonet if only he had fingers to hold it – or a bayonet for that matter. All he had were his pony assets, a powerful kick and a magical horn on his head. Had he the time to practice to the level of skill Twilight Sparkle commanded over the magic Marko likely would have either vaporized the brutes or twisted their heads off their bodies with a telekinetic pull. Unfortunately he couldn’t get a splutter out of the thing.

So he improvised and shivved the brute in the neck. But to be fair, Ishmir did half the work, forcing the brute down onto the sharp body appendage.

Blinking away the brute’s blood, Marko pulled back with a wet ‘shlikk’ and charged the second brute as it recoiled from Ishmir’s kick.

While Ishmir was wrestling the wounded brute to the ground and beating his hooves into the floor through the alien’s face, Marko rushed the other and drove his horn square into the brute’s face. The long tusks in the alien’s mouth scissor dangerously close to his face, but Marko didn’t yield. His horn twisted and rooted around in the howling brute’s eye socket before finding something vital and putting the alien down.

Breathing hard, the blood soaked ponies shared a hoof-bump and a single thought.

Room clear.

Armored boots clattering on the roof drew the Spartans to the front of the train again. It was the thundering of brutes in full run. The ponies jetted after the sound, rushing to link up with Twilight Sparkle again before the worst happened.

They only just made it, breaching back into the lead carriage where they had left Warlock to charge her spell. She stood stunned halfway down at gunpoint of two brutes. One on the left, one on the right. The following course of action was a no-brainer for the headhunters.

Ishmir rushed the brute on the left while Marko fell on the one to the right. The earth-pony fell with his forelegs outstretched and smacked the spike rifle the brute had trained on Twilight out of his hand. The surprised alien turned to catch a hoof in the back of the knee before taking a double-kick to the chest-plate.

The alien was launched off his feet and busted through the nearest window. But even though he shattered the glass and went sprawling into the whipping wind, he didn’t fall all the way, catching his legs on the window frame.

A tree growing close to the rails finished him off, tearing the brute – mostly – from view.

At almost the exact same time he heard Twilight Sparkle cry out over Marko’s grunts of struggling with the other brute. The carriage door slammed as well and Ishmir’s eyes darted, his brain slipping into Spartan-time.

The whole world turned to a blueish haze as time seemed to screech to an agonizing crawl. The blurry mountainous landscape rushing by outside seemed to sharpen. Marko was caught mid-uppercut, catching his brute in the chin and knocking out a few bloody teeth that seemed to hang motionless in the air.

Twilight Sparkle stood with her hooves widely spaced, her expression contorted with focus as the light around her horn intensified and spluttered. One eye was opened to a squint as she directed a beam of light towards Marko. He’d be transformed back into a fully armored human form in a split second.

Unfortunately a split second might not be quick enough, Ishmir realized as he glanced to the carriage door. Framed there where he’d entered a brute major stood levelling a heavy looking grenade rifle on Twilight Sparkle. The barrel let out a burst of flame and a spherical grenade round sailed through the air.

Ishmir planted his hoof on the fallen spike rifle and flung it across to Marko who turned just in time to see it before the magic from Twilight’s horn connected with his face. In a flash of light Marko vanished into a blinding cloud.

Twilight Sparkle opened her eyes and saw the grenade coming. At the same time she felt Ishmir connect with her and tackle her to the ground.

Time screamed back into a pace that Twilight Sparkle could barely comprehend. The grenade round made contact with the door on the opposite side of the carriage and exploded, blowing it off the hinges. An olive green armored hand reached out of the cloud of light and caught the spike rifle before Marko whipped around and emptied the weapon into the brute’s face.

As the major fell, a quick slashing moment drew the curved bayonets on the spike rifle through the final brute’s throat, dropping the alien gagging and gurgling at his feet.

Laughing hysterically, Marko dropped the spent alien weapon and looked down at his hands. “Ten fingers, ten toes and…” his hand planted on his crotch plate. “Well, I wasn’t using that anyway so a full systems check can wait ‘till later.”

As Ishmir and Twilight were finding their hooves, Marko wiggled his fingers at them. “Ishy, check it out! I’m human again.”

“I’m so happy for your,” Ishmir deadpanned a little jealously. “Warlock, can you do me next?”

Twilight smirked and arched her eyebrows suggestively.

“That’s not what I meant.”

“Down girl,” Marko chuckled.

Twilight chuckled too and started charging her horn. “Give me five minutes. It might…”

She interrupted herself, ducking to the ground as a volley of white hot energy splashed the side of the carriage. The force of the impact rocked the entire train causing it to snake on the tracks with a screech of metal on metal. Ishmir covered her again in case a plasma shot got through and hit Marko’s shields.

When the volley passed and the mist of noxious gasses parted the phantom drop ship slid into view on their flank. The troop bays hung open, advertising the mixture of aliens on board along with a grunt behind the plasma gun mounted to the side of the ship.

The gun let out another long burst that raked up the side of the carriage and sprayed the locomotive.

“Could use some guns, Princess Second Base!” Marko cried.

“Way ahead of you, Fuckface!” Twilight retorted as a purple cloud of energy materialized beside Marko and dropped a heavy bag of munitions at his feet.

With Twilight Sparkle resuming the transformation spell, Marko tore open the bag and started loading up what he needed. A pair of M7 submachine guns attached to the magnetic holsters on his thighs and he handled a third for good measure. He didn’t pack any spare ammo, though made sure all guns were loaded and chambered with safeties off. He was about to perform some unsafe maneuvers anyway, safety was the least of his concern.

Finally he grabbed a prepared C12 demo-charge. Essentially, it was a balloon filled with explosive foam, fitted with a remote detonator and magnetic locks for mounting. Locking that on the back of his waist, Marko crawled to the opposite wall of the carriage, then scrambled to his feet before taking a running jump.

Diving forward he smashed through the window and gave one last hard push when one foot caught on the window frame. The wood splintered and the metal frame of the carriage bent out of the shape. Like a human bullet he cleared the space between the train and the Covenant drop ship and smashed headlong into one of the jackals on board.

The beaked lizard fell under Marko’s crushing weight and he put a sustained burst into the alien’s head, spraying jackal brains across the deck. Leaping to his feet Marko had about a second to assess the situation before he was sweeping his SMG and raking rounds through aliens.

There were several jackals and grunts on board, no brutes as far as he could see. They had probably all been deployed in the first wave. Knowing those apes they had probably been eager to claim the first kills, but going by the distressed screams of the surprised grunts, clearly none of the Covenant had expected to face Spartans.

“Demon!” one grunt screeched through its mask before Marko delivered a silencing 5x23mm facial.

His limbs lashed out in every direction delivering punches and kicks that broke faces and snapped limbs in half. All the time his submachine gun roared, peppering the interior of the phantom and tearing through light alien armor.

One of the jackals lit up its shield, a glowing blue film appearing in a circular shape between it and the offending weapon. Rounds splashed into the shield causing ripples of energy dispersed across the surface like ripples in a pond.

The submachine gun clicked and Marko dropped it. He didn’t have time to reload, but he had a hundred-and-twenty more rounds where the first sixty came from, locked, loaded and ready to go on an instant.

His boot made contact with the shield and kicked the barrier aside before Marko grabbed the jackal’s face and slammed it into the ground. His other fist swung around and made contact with the spinal column right between the shoulder blades, and didn’t stop until his knuckle plate met the deck.

Whipping the SMG off his left hip, Marko levelled the weapon on a jackal that charged with a glowing energy dagger in hand and tore the bandit in half.

Sweeping around as he stood, Marko suppressed the aliens still standing and slipping over the deck now slick with gore, and pulled the demolition charge from the back of his belt. It clicked home on the ceiling of the troop bay and the detonator beeped as the headhunter primed it.

“Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you!” Marko traced back and put another sustained burst into a grunt that didn’t quite go down after the first. “Fuck you again!”



Dropping the SMG when the bullets ran out and drawing his last one, Marko stomped a grunt’s head into the deck then leapt out the side of the drop ship. As he soared back to the speeding train the final machine gun roared as he laid rounds into the remaining aliens in case they got any bright ideas and tried to follow or pull off the demo-charge.

On the train, Ishmir watched his buddy framed in the window for a moment before with a howling whoosh the Spartan fell short and vanished from sight.

“Marko!” Ishmir screamed, galloping over and hanging out the shattered window that had been Marko’s exit route.

As he leaned out he looked down and expected to see a crimson smear across the side of the train. Instead there hung an olive green figure, dangling by his bayonet slammed into the side of the carriage, his boots skimming mere millimeters off the gravel speeding by below him.

The smiley expression carved into his visor angled upward and Ishmir heard a single report from Marko.

“Explosives set!”

Spartans in general, not just the threes or the headhunters really, all the Spartans who had ever been trained and deployed by the UNSC were trained to be self-sufficient. That meant no Spartan needed to be carried. They could each do their job with maximum efficacy. They could rely on each other to do what needed to be done to ensure mission success. To ensure that they could win.

Ishmir felt a little silly all of a sudden, doubting Marko’s efficacy for that moment he dropped out of view. Of course Marko’s demise wouldn’t come that easy. The only way he’d pass on to hell was kicking and screaming with his boot down a Covenant elite’s throat. So Ishmir didn’t waste any more time lending the Spartan a hand when he clearly didn’t need it.

As Marko saw to his own safety by beginning to climb up the side of the carriage, Ishmir dashed to their gear and rummaged around among the equipment until he found something. Straightening up with a clacker trapped between his hooves he flipped the safety key then punched the detonator switch twice.

“Fire in the hole!”

One second the Covenant drop ship was there, the troop bay gunners drawing a bead on the train again. A second later it was a ball of flame and a memory – an adrenaline surging memory but a memory all the same.

The burning phantom dropped back and then fell out of sight entirely, its final demise punctuated by a loud boom that rang over the chug of the train’s wheels over the track and the howl of the air rushing past the shattered windows.

Marko took the time to clamber through the broken window and slumped to the deck where he replaced his bayonet in the sheath on his shoulder.

“Hah! Did you see that explosion!?” Marko cheered happily. “I did that you know.”

Ishmir struggled to help him up, and Marko finally found his feet with Twilight Sparkle’s telekinetic glow secured around one arm.

“You boys saving my butt is becoming a habit.” Twilight skootched over to a bewildered looking Spartan pony. “Especially for you, Ishmir,” she added nodding to the grenade damage that could have been her face.

“Can I be changed back to human now?” One might have considered Ishmir’s desperate tone and expression were because of the alien ships flying up and down the mountainside; were it not for the alicorn princess getting very cozy and nuzzling his cheek.

Marko chuckled. “I dunno, Ish. You’re a cute couple like this.”

“… shut up!”

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