• Published 20th Jun 2012
  • 3,613 Views, 95 Comments

N7 - Operation: HARMONIZER - Useless Machine

Six N7 marines find themselves in Equestria post Battle for Earth. Hilarity(?) ensues.

  • ...

Castle Crashers

The crash site was quiet for some while, little more than sparking electronics and smoke leaking out of the crashlanded Kodiak as it sat in front of an old castle. The vehicle, despite its re-entry, looked mostly pristine – the entire shuttle was smoking from the hull heat caused by re-entry, and the edges of the shuttle were a little “charred beyond recognition”, but despite the massive internal damage, the Kodiak itself was looking pretty good. Everything, from the maneuvering thruster “legs” to the mass accelerator cannon was still in one piece – if not damaged beyond repair.

The occupants were still alive, too – having managed to avoid death through their crash, the inertial dampeners having held for one last ride before finally giving out. Though strewn about and in various states of unconsciousness, all of them were alive and mostly in one piece.
The first one to wake from the crash was a human being – clad in full-body armor that would have made him almost indistinguishable from an asari, were it not for the fact he was male and asari had female proportions. He rolled over onto his side and curled up in pain before he realized exactly what had happened to cause it.

Pushing himself as far as he could, he stood, stepped on the body of one of his fellow squadmates – a geth – and slipped and fell, bashing his head against the door of the shuttlecraft. No noise came – he was too tired and too defeated to even make a moan or groan of pain in response to the event. Waiting a few seconds for the crippling hurt to clear, he pulled himself clear of the geth and pushed himself to his feet again. Bracing both hands against the door, he pushed.

The door refused to budge.

Making the first sound he had in a long time – a growl of anger – he pushed harder, a blue field appearing around his body.

The door refused to budge.

The human relented, stepping back for a moment.

“…when I say open… I mean OPEN!

Colonel Samuel Harrison brought his fist back. His entire right arm charged with element zero, giving it an almost unholy dark blue glow before he laid into the door with all the might of an anvil falling.

The door budged.

With a massive metal shriek, the door finally gave away, being torn clean off its hinges and flying a good five metres away before hitting the floor with a subdued thud. The light that Sam expected to be there, wasn’t. It was almost disappointing until he realized that he could actually see out of the wreck without going blind.

Stepping out of the crashed shuttle, Sam’s leg immediately sank up to the knee in loose dirt, and it was only through frantically clawing ahead that he managed to crawl out of the furrow of dirt the Kodiak pushed up. Trying to stand up, he merely fell to his knees. Figuring that so long as he was at least half upright, he was good, Sam’s head swiveled around, taking in where he’d landed.

Dark, thick jungle. He took a good glance at a tree, and quickly corrected himself; forest. Surprisingly, no jungle trees – yet the canopy was still thick enough to deny most sunlight, bathing the place in near-perpetual darkness. Finally finding the strength to stand, he pushed himself to his feet, turned around, and his eyes fell upon the last thing he expected to see; a castle.

It was overgrown. Decrepit. It seemed to have been there longer than humanity had known what gunpowder was. It spoke of age – of war, even. For a moment, he stood, capitivated.

Then it kicked in that they had crashed, and Sam’s head shot back to the Kodiak just in time to see another form – almost armorless, wearing only a skinsuit, blue-faced with hair crests – push out of the Kodiak and fall into the dirt.

Sam rushed on over, grasping at the hand as it shot out of the dirt, and heaving, pulled Yelena Nasari out of the mound and into life. Yelena coughed, doubling over and placing a fist over her chest as Sam smacked her on the back to help out. That seemed to do the trick, the coughing stopping as Yelena contorted into a sitting position and took a look around.

Sam kept his eyes trained on her, watching to see if she was any worse off than he was – and she looked up to him. “Thank you,” she croaked, with the sort of voice you’d normally expect of someone who just woke up.

“Need a hand getting up?”

Yelena shook her head. “No. I just need a second to recover my strength. The crash was… taxing.”

Sam nodded. “It was. On all of us, really.”

He looked back out to the forest. “I just hope everyone else is safe.”

There was a massive whump, and the two turned to see Barx had shoved himself into the dirt, and the Kodiak a foot away from him, somehow. After a few seconds, the krogan warrior roared, and erupted out of the mound. Yelena raised a hand to shield herself, while Sam stared, a ball of dirt impacting his helmet, as Barx burst out of the furrow, clearing most of it for those who would follow. His Claymore shotgun was raised, and he quickly took point, checking for targets.

Sam watched, amused under the helmet, as Yelena wiped the dirt off of her arm. “Any hostiles, Barx?”

Barx took a moment, before his massive head turned to face Sam, his body half-rotating to follow. “None. Looks like whatever’s in this damn place – if there’s anything – is going to stay the fuck back.”

“Good. Now stow the shotgun. I don’t think there’s any nearby hostiles.”

Barx lowered the Claymore, and eventually placed it onto the small of his back, the massive shotgun folding up. “If you say so.”

“My judgement hasn’t failed us so far.”

There was a snort as a three-fingered hand pulled forwards a body clad in armor so alienly proportioned it was obviously turian. Martilus Hinfax fell onto the ground, not even bothering to look. “Sam, I’m half-delirious from bashing my head against starship-grade armor and even I can tell you’re full of shit.”

Sam’s head turned down towards the turian, who had seemed to stop bothering with even moving. “Do you want to get kicked in the face? Because if you keep that up I’ll kick you in the face.”

Martilus looked up, the T-shaped visor of his helmet presenting an alluring target. “Try me, ape.”

Sam slowly moved his foot forwards, and tapped Mart’s helmet with it. “That hurt me a lot more than it hurt you, spikes.”

Martilus slowly started to get to his feet. “Funny thing is, that’s probably true. Considering how we are right now.” He stopped on one knee, taking a look at those awake. “Any injuries?”

“None.” “Like that’ll stop me.” “I am unharmed.”

Martilus blinked. “Well. Looks like the spirits granted us a bit of their luck, then. I just hope the other two are okay.”

Yelena nodded, getting up and extending a hand to Martilus. The turian gratefully took it, and the asari pulled him to his feet. “Indeed,” Yelena continued. “I sincerely hope Dari’Nava has not punctured her environmental suit.”

“No sharp objects,” came the sharply-accented quarian voice. “And I hardened my envirosuit over time to adapt to the conditions of a battlefield.” Dari had seemed to take it the best out of all of them – standing in the shuttle’s open entryway, she didn’t look any worse for wear. The white shells of her twin Geth Plasma SMGs were caked in dust, and yet still somehow managed to gleam as she dropped to the ground and walked up the mound of dirt Barx had blasted through the ground to join the rest of the squad. “And judging by how you’re all standing, nobody else is hurt. Except maybe you, Barx, but you bleed as easily as rock.”

Barx let out a hearty laugh at that.

“How’s Hitman?” inquired Sam.

“Not sure,” replied Dari. “I haven’t gotten the time to run a diagnostic on him. Not since he shut down after we left the Ottawa.”

“I hope he’s okay,” muttered Martilus. “Ol’ Flashlight’s grown on me.”

Dari did not comment. Martilus thought it an improvement on what her thoughts on the geth usually entailed. She hadn’t been their biggest fan until Shepard had ended the war. Even then, as much as she knew the geth were no longer a threat, she was still constantly wary about and around Hitman – who did not seem to care all that much.

Martilus didn’t blame her. Old habits died hard – especially prejudices.

Sam, in the meanwhile, decided to immediately take action regarding his old friend. “Dari. Take a second to get your wits about you and let the throbbing in your head die down. As soon as you’re able, get back in there and start doing a diagnost-“

“No diagnostics will be necessary. I am operating at 90% efficiency.” Hitman effortlessly vaulted the distance from the Kodiak to the group.

“…ic,” finished Sam.

“Well!” Martilus clasped Hitman on the shoulder, an action the geth repeated in a manner resembling its nature a moment later. “It’s nice to see you’re alive. I thought you’d died when you turned off back there.”

“Negative.” Hitman’s single eye, unflinching, focused on Martilus. “I received a maximum priority message from Commander Shepard, stating that we were to shut down immediately or be destroyed by the Crucible when it fired. No further explanation was given.”

Dari stared. The tiny white dots that represented her eyes grew larger for a moment. “…So you shut down, acting on blind faith?”

Hitman turned to Dari. “Yes,” it said. “Shepard has not failed us before. In fact, we owe her for our continued existence. It was a logical decision to place trust in the Commander’s words.”

“Still can’t get used to hearing a geth refer to itself as “I”,” muttered Barx.

“It is who I am, Barx-Soldier. Where once I was fractious, I now am whole.”

Sam quietly watched his team get their wits about them, before he cleared his throat. Every man, woman, asari, and geth turned to face the human. “Alright. I’m relieved to be alive. You’re all relieved, and you’re chatting. It doesn't look like there's anything around. But we need to get back into the swing of things. Form a perimeter. Search for hostiles, even if there are none. It'll keep your mind sharp.”

Aleph Squad filed into action, each member drawing mid-ranged weapons and checking sixty degrees around the Kodiak. Barx drew a Striker, Dari her twin Plasma SMGs, Yelena her Locust, Hitman his Geth Pulse Rifle, Martilus his Revenant, and Sam his Paladin, and the six of them quickly scouted for possible targets.

Six “Clear!” notifications later, attention immediately turned to the massive fortification looming over them.

“Is that…?” began Martilus.

“A castle?” finished Dari.

Hitman attempted to reach out to the extranet to confirm it, but found nothing. Not nothing on a castle; nothing. No geth. No extranet. Just the cosmic background for company. “…Error. No Extranet connection detected.”

That sent a pang of fear into everyone’s hearts. If there was no way to get to the extranet here, then they were a lot farther away from home than they really had any right to be. Any idle conversation about the castle quickly went quiet.

Sam thought carefully. If they were stranded on some sort of alien planet then he needed to consider his options. The worst thought was that Dari and Martilus were dextro-amino – so either they were going to have critically low rations, or the rest of them were. He’d need to bank on there being rescue before it came down to that particular wire.

“Alright. Hitman, perform a scouting run. See where we are – I think there might be a ravine over there. You’re our eyes. Dari, come with me, we’re gonna do inventory on the Kodiak and see if we can’t send for help. The rest of you – keep up the perimeter. If it tries to attack, gun it down.”

With five affirmatives, Hitman jogged away, and Sam and Dari left their positions to re-enter the Kodiak.

About an hour had passed before the team found themselves with little else to do. With no real sign of hostiles, the team had started taking the perimeter in shifts. Some did calisthenics, others fiddled around with their omni-tools. Still others took their time inspecting the castle, awed at its size and age. Boredom was still beginning to set in, though.

Five minutes after Dari and Sam had re-entered the Kodiak to see what could be salvaged, Hitman had returned, with grim news; they were indeed stuck. The Kodiak had skipped over a ravine. What looked like an old wooden bridge might have been usable to cross the ravine, were it not for the fact that the rope had broken on the end they were currently on – crossing was essentially impossible. The only way out, it seemed, was through the castle.

Grimmer news still awaited them from Dari. The Kodiak had managed to stay alive just long enough to keep them alive; but after it crashed, the mass effect core finally failed. Anything electronic in the shuttle was running on backup power – which they only had one full week of. Fortunately, long-range communications were still functional.

It was a hotly debated topic whether or not they even should call for help – after all, they had no proof the Crucible even worked. But eventually they reasoned the Crucible had to have fired – Hitman shut down in preparation for it, and it was likely the source of why they had landed here, though how was another question entirely.

Not that it mattered in the end, though.

Sam looked over to Dari. Even through the helmet the veteran quarian could tell he was strained, and that he was at the end of his limit. “No response?” she asked.

“Negative. Wherever we are, we’re far from anyone of import, it seems.”

Dari nodded. “Save your voice. I’ll set up an automated distress beacon.

Sam nodded in return, and headed back outside as Dari deftly wired the communications system to repeat a single message.

“This is Colonel Samuel Harrison, of N7 Squad Aleph. If anyone is hearing this, we have crash-landed on an unknown planet. Supplies are low, and our squad is of mixed biology. Mayday. Mayday.”

With the message set to repeat, Dari set the Kodiak to enter a power conservation mode so the mayday could spread as far as it possibly could, then dropped out of the Kodiak and returned to where the rest of the squad had gathered.

“Alright.” Sam looked over the faces he would be leading in the next few… days? Weeks? Years? No. Don’t think of that. “I’m not going to mince words; we’re stranded far away from any form of civilization. Dari has set the distress beacon in the Kodiak online and is looping a message – we’ll know if we get a response, at least while it still has power. Until then, it seems like that castle is our only point of interest right now. So that’s where we’re going. Yelena, on me. Barx, Dari, you two form up, watch each other’s backs. Hitman, Martilus, set up a firing position near the castle. Keep watch for anything. There’s clearly wildlife out here, and I’m not willing to chance that it’s not predatory, and let any of you die. Not until we’re home and safe, then I’ll toss you into the varren pits. Are my orders clear?”

“Crystal, sir!” came from every member.

“Good. You all know what to do. Let’s get it done and go home.”

Aleph Squad drew weapons and turned towards the castle.

Princess Twilight Sparkle stood at the edge of the Everfree Forest, with the distinct feeling in the back of her head that she was going to be making history. Whatever that brick was, it was clearly of extraequestrial origin, and whether or not it was just a brick of steel or a carriage of some sort containing real aliens, it was too important to not go undiscovered. Regardless of whether or not it contained alien life of some sort, she was going to need to uphold the title of Princess of Friendship, and act with dignity, grace, and hopefully not too much interest into alien technology. For all she knew, she would end up being the first representative of Equestria to humanity, and above all else she knew she could put the best possible hoof forwards.

“Ooh! Ooh! I hope they like to PARTY!”

Twilight raised a hoof to cover her face. Well, if my friends don’t mess it up for me.

She took a moment to look back at the motley crew she had gathered. Twilight had informed her friends of the flaming brick that had shot through the skies, and whether through loyalty to her or through some sort of feeling that what they were going to do was momentous, they all agreed to follow without hesitation. They were five types of ponies so utterly different from each other that, had they not multiple times bashed evil’s face until it crumpled in on itself, would likely never had become friends.

There was her, obviously. A self-admitted bookworm and nerd, an alicorn (though not at all by choice), and somepony who had… well, a little too many checklists, maybe. It could just be that she didn’t have enough checklists.

Pinkie Pie, who had one second ago loudly exclaimed her hope for aliens being party ponies like none other, was pinker than anypony else she had ever seen. She had a sweet tooth that never seemed to be sated, an absolutely inexplicable ability to predict events and appear in places that would otherwise be physically impossible for a pony to reach (Twilight recalled one time where she appeared in a mirror, then came out of it; she also recalled that Pinkie had known something momentous was going to happen, though her Pinkie Sense hadn’t known what exactly), and a party cannon that currently wasn’t on her person (not that Twilight knew, for all she knew Pinkie was carrying it with her and would pull it out of the Aether when she felt like it). Nevertheless, she was always there with a joke. And who knew? A well timed one might save the world.

“Hm, yes, I do believe that is an aspiration we all share, Pinkie Pie… but I hope those aliens have class.” Enter Rarity; fashionista, drama queen. Rarity worked down at Carousel Boutique, where she made clothes that, even to Twilight (who had, well, most of the fashion sense of a blind cockatrice) were simply stunning. Not even Rainbow Dash could deny it – though that didn’t exactly stop the pegasus from trying to. She also considered herself of class – while she was still surprisingly down-to-earth for somepony you’d expect to be an aristocrat, she still held herself to a higher standard than most. Which probably explained why she was hoping the aliens were gentlemares. Or gentlecolts. Or gentle… whatevers. What was also unmistakable about Rarity was her generosity – oftentimes, the aforemented clothes were made for free. Perhaps the aliens would leave with trinkets?

Her eyes swept over Rainbow Dash, who was currently flying as she was always wont to do. Twilight suspected that if pegasi had no real need for legs, Rainbow Dash would gladly get rid of hers just so she could go faster. The fast and the awesome was where it lied with her; a tomcolt through and through, she looked downright excited. “I hope those aliens have some cool stuff with ‘em! Like – like laser guns! Or moving things with their mind!”

Twilight snorted..“Rainbow Dash, I can do that. And so can Rarity, as a matter of fact.”

Dash blinked for a second. “Oh. Right.” Of course, Rainbow Dash wasn’t exactly stupid. Forgetful? Sometimes (though considering the amount of times she smashed into things Twilight was the exact opposite of surprised). She just learned things differently. She was also fiercely loyal – Rainbow Dash would probably face Celestia and Luna alone if it meant saving her friends, and she had no doubt that if any of the aliens were hostile, Dash would be able to subdue them. You couldn’t hit what you couldn’t catch.

“Now, simmer down, Rainbow. So long’s they’re nice, I don’t see a single problem with aliens. Though maybe if they liked apples…” Applejack and Rainbow Dash were best friends. Of a sort. They were the type of friends who could just as easily be found bickering and competing as they were lazing about with a pint of cider. They were the perfect foil; where Dash was fast, Applejack was strong. She routinely bucked apples out of trees in single hits. She was as honest as she was strong, too; if you were doing stupid shit you could damn well expect Applejack to call you out on it. Of course, she was also stubborn. So hopefully that wouldn’t interfere too much.

Fluttershy’s voice came in slightly louder than usual. “Um, Applejack… I hate to burst your bubble, but even if there are aliens, their biology might be completely different from ours. They may not even be able to eat apples!” Fluttershy worked with animals. Fluttershy also lived with animals. Twilight wondered how she was able to sleep at night, though the animals she was with seemed somewhat docile most of the time. When they first met, Fluttershy had been a near-total doormat. Of course, as they spent time together they grew stronger as ponies, and Fluttershy was no exception – she was still far more cowardly than the rest of her friends, but she was still far more assertive than she was when they had met a year ago. Fluttershy, above all, was kindness personified; she was known to not hurt the hairs on flies if she could afford to.

“Not eating apples?” Applejack laughed, and the denial in her voice was as clear as Celestia’s sunlight. “Fluttershy, ya’ll’re speakin’ nonsense!”

Fluttershy seemed to shrink back a bit, though she didn’t move. “Um… if you say so, I guess…”

“She does have a point,” intervened Twilight. “Aliens could be familiar “little green ponies”, or they could be so alien as to be entirely incomprehensible. Though you never know – they may see apples as objects of value. And that might get you even more money than selling them as food.”

Applejack bit her lip. “Good point. But I think we all should wait ‘til we’re there to see, huh?”

“Speaking of which,” continued Twilight, as she turned her attention to the Everfree, “there’s a crash site we need to get to. Come on, girls – let’s go.” Twilight put one hoof in front of the other, and the Elements of Harmony headed into the Everfree Forest.

The trip through the Everfree was, surprisingly, uneventful. Usually they’d find at least one potential attacker, but as they travelled through the forest where weather moved by itself and things weren’t orchestrated by equines, they found things to be far quieter than usual. Almost deathly so.

It had merely made all of them edgier (Fluttershy more than most). A trip through the Everfree was never this easy unless it was to Zecora’s. And they’d only heard animals keeping away. Twilight knew that as the sounds of wildlife died down, they could only grow closer to where the brick had landed.

“Hey, look!” Rainbow Dash’s voice rose above the din as she pointed with a forehoof to indicate where only half a tree stood. The tree base was charred black, and everything above two pony lengths was just gone. In the path in front of them, a dip; a dip caused by what appeared to be a massive crashing object. An object that could only have been the brick.

After that, the trip got easier; now that they knew what they were looking for, it was trivially easy to just follow the path, the dead trees, and the dents in the earth, until they stumbled across something very familiar to them, yet at the same time, alien.

The Twin Sisters’ Castle. And directly in front of it, smoking from waste and in front of a furrow of dirt it undoubtedly pushed up slowing down, the brick.

With an open door.

"So there are aliens!" shouted Pinkie, pointing at the open door. "Ha! I was right!"

"Um, girls?" Unfortunately, Fluttershy's attempt to get them to pay attention was entirely in vain at the moment. And she knew how these things usually tended to end.

She built up resolve, and took a deep breath in.

"...if they're mean, I'll give 'em the ol' one-two, KA-POW!"

"Just think of the new fashion they'll introduce!"

"Girls, we need to stay calm and-"

Fluttershy screamed. "Girls!"

Really, it was more of a "shout", but it got the same effect, as they turned around - and immediately noted the manticore standing directly behind them.

"A manticore was following us for the past two minutes.”

For a moment, the Elements of Harmony and the manticore traded stupefied glances.

“Oh,” said Twilight.

Then the manticore roared.

“The hell are these things?” Urdnot Barx lowered his Claymore and quietly poked the brown thing. It seemed to have some sort of alien writing on the side, a golden contrast to the hazel cover. It felt like tanned hide as Barx stared at it. Dari’Nava seemed equally transfixed, though less on the individual and more on the several hundred that adorned the shelf in front of them.

Dari leaned in close. “I… I think it’s a book.”

“A book?” Barx looked over to Dari. “You mean one of those things that’s like a holobook, but physical?”

“Yes. You had to lift and turn the page.”

Barx laughed. “And we just found an entire shelf of them! This is like finding an armory full of… Idunno, swords!”

“Well,” sighed Dari’Nava, “we certainly didn’t find anything useful. All of these are written in an alien script, and with no Extranet connection I can’t translate or get copies of these. If copies even exist.”

“Probably not,” supplied Barx. He turned to stare, sniffing the air. “Eeh. Musty. I wonder how the other two are doing.”

Dari immediately tapped into her communications network. “Hey, Sam, Yelena, how are you two doing?”

“Still haven’t found anything of note,” replied Sam. “All we’ve found is a lot of hallways. I think I’m getting the hang of where we are, though-“

“He means to say that we are hopelessly lost,” interjected Yelena.

A full moment of silence passed, before Dari could no longer resist heckling her commander. “’Infallible leadership’ my ass, you stupid bosh’tet.”

“I’d like to see you try to find your way around these,” bristled Sam. “Even so… their construction is immaculate. Whoever built this built it for both form and function. It’s really damn old, but if nothing else, there definitely were aliens on this planet.”

“Were?” Barx snorted. “There probably still are.”

“Barx, if I were to interrupt,” began Yelena, “this castle is at minimum several hundred years old. You would think this would be a tourist site if its constructors were still around.”

Martilus joined the conversation, surprisingly enough. “She’s got a point, Barx. This castle would be occupied in some way or another if its constructors were still around.”

“You guys are doing work, right?” asked Sam. “Because right now I don’t mind the com chatter, but at least keep searching if you’re going to jam the airwaves.”

“Copy that, Aleph Actual,” replied Dari, with only the barest hint of sincerity audible under the thick layer of sarcasm. “Returning to reconnaissance. Hypocrite.”

Sam took in mild comfort from hearing Barx and Yelena debate over whether or not aliens still existed as they combed the catacombs. He also took comfort from Dari'Nava's insult, because it meant that she was focused on him and not her fate. Within short order of Dari’s declaration, they managed to find a way out.

“Hey, Yel. Stairs.”

Yelena sighed. “Thank the Goddesses. I was worried we’d have to blast our way out of here. Now, this time I lead, alright?”

Sam nodded. “If it’ll get you off my back, then sure. Take point.” The two of them progressed up the staircase. Yelena opened her comms to resume the conversation, then stopped, her jaw dropping. She advanced up ahead, spurring Sam’s curiosity and prompting him to follow. What he saw stunned him.

It was a throne room. Old, decrepit, with broken stained glass windows, a massive scorch mark in the middle of the floor, and massive wooden doors that looked like they’d need five krogan to open. The sight of it was breathtaking, and Sam forgot the mission entirely until Yelena slugged him in the shoulder.

“…this is Sam. We… We found a throne room. It looks huge. Whoever made this clearly spared no expense.”

“There is a scorch mark in the middle of the floor,” continued Yelena. “There must have been some form of altercation in here. Though, why a scorch mark?”

“Maybe it was magic,” snickered Barx.

“Constructive,” deadpanned Sam. “Doesn’t seem to have anything of importance in it, though. Are you two-“

“This is Martilus, me and Hitman are laying low.”

Sam shifted tracks immediately. “Mart. Give me the sitch, bud.”

“Turns out Barx was right. The constructors must still have been around, because there’s six of them. Quadrupedal, looks like some are capable of flight, and I saw at least one with a horn.” There was quiet for a second. “…And they know we’re here. Then again, I think we must have made it pretty obvious, crashing in from the sky like that.”

“Let’s try not to fuck their civilization up too much, then. If they start approaching any closer than the shuttle, fall back into the castle. Otherwise, keep your distance, and for the love of all that is holy-“

Sam’s last command was drowned out by a roar. Complete radio silence ensued for one second.

“…looks like they brought a friend, and he doesn’t seem too happy with them,” reported Martilus.

“She’s got a point, Barx. This castle would be occupied in some way or another if its constructors were still around.”

“You guys are doing work, right?” asked Sam. “Because right now I don’t mind the com chatter, but at least keep searching if you’re going to jam the airwaves.”

With that, Martilus Hinfax closed his communications channel and resumed holding down a firing position. Martilus believed himself to be a somewhat good turian. Mostly because he had to be: in the Reaper War, orders that led to suicide were common. The Milky Way did not seem to gain any ground against the extragalactic invaders; the Reapers just took and took and took. If you gave an inch they’d take your entire planet.

Even so, a firing perimeter was boring. He found himself wishing that something were to happen, but quickly quashed it. As boring as boredom was, he had orders and a job to do – and usually, when it rained, it poured.

So after a full hour of perimeter holding, he decided to open his communications network and see if he could chat with Hitman. The geth was a machine of as few words as possible (that tended to come with the territory of efficiency), but it was always up for a conversation, perhaps because the collective it was with wanted to learn how to interact with squishies like him better.

Scanning the forest for threats for the millionth time that day, he began speaking. “Hitman. How’re you holding up?”

“All systems are nominal,” responded Hitman. “There is still no connection with the Geth collective, or the extranet. I have repeated once every ten minutes, to no avail.”

“No need, I don’t think. Wherever we are, we’re far from home.” And with that, the knowledge truly sank in for Martilus; they were stranded on an alien planet with little food. Either he and Dari were going to be dead, or the rest of the team was. If no help was coming, their fate was a slow and painful death by starvation.

He considered, for the first time in his life, putting his handgun to his head and firing, but decided that he’d at least stay alive long enough to help his squad out beforehand. So long as he wasn’t incapable of movement, he was still useful, and he wasn’t going to give up just because there was no longer any hope on the horizon. He was going to go out like every turian dreamed of – guns blazing, fighting for every breath.

It was at that moment that he saw his future salvation – and oh, how it poured.

“Hitman, down!” Martilus dropped under the crenel he was using as a firing point, bringing his Revenant down with him. A second later, he heard a clipped, artificial “In cover.”

Martilus leaned up, just enough for one eye to look out, and caught something he hadn’t expected; color. Bright color. Lots of color. He forced down the urge to spring up and observed, quietly, as six quadruped aliens came out of the underbrush. Sam came over his earpiece saying he’d found a throne room, but he ignored it just to watch. As he did, the pink one pointed at the shuttle. He lowered himself, and got back on the comnet.

“This is Martilus, me and Hitman are laying low.”

“Mart. Give me the sitch, bud.”

Martilus took a second to lean out and make sure he was actually believing what he was seeing, then began speaking. “Turns out Barx was right. The constructors must still have been around, because there’s six of them. Quadrupedal, looks like some are capable of flight, and I saw at least one with a horn.” He paused, taking in the fact that they were clearly focusing on the shuttlecraft. “…And they know we’re here. Then again, I think we must have made it pretty obvious, crashing in from the sky like that.”

“Let’s try not to fuck their civilization up too much, then. If they start approaching any closer than the shuttle, fall back into the castle. Otherwise, keep your distance, and for the love of all that is holy-“

He’d seen the… thing creeping up behind them, but it appeared only the yellow one actually knew they were being followed. Sam’s order (that he probably could have guessed anyways) was drowned out by the monster’s roar.

“Land on an alien world, probably gonna have to save its inhabitants with my superior technology… why do I feel a sense of déjà vu?” He reopened the comnet.

“Looks like they brought a friend, and he doesn’t seem too happy with them.”

Author's Note:

Getting called scum on the internet for a dumb move you pulled three years ago turns out to be quite a motivator, it seemed. Cranked this out in three days, about 2k words each (with the exception of this one, because the chapter ended).

I also made minor edits to the prologue's Equestrian part, mostly to reflect on the fact that Twilight is the main character and Hasbro is giving her all the cool toys.

I'm going to try and write more for this, but honestly, I wouldn't doubt you if you guys don't trust me, mostly because I've been gone for three years. Gate Hunters Wanted is not going to progress any further for the time being, because I don't really want to work on it right now - my prime focus is gonna be refinishing this. Consider it my apology, provided I ever get it done.

If there's any errors, feel free to inform me. I'm pretty sure I now have no betareaders. But I was gone three years, so y'know - understandable.