• Published 9th Jan 2017
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The Atlantean-Dominion War - The Atlantean

Crimson Dawn enlists in the Atlantean Reserve Emergency Army (AREA) to defend Atlantis from the Dominion of Apollo.

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2. Leaving Home

Crimson walked through the front door of his family home, closing the oak door behind him. “I’m home!” he yelled.

Crystal Shard bounded down the stairs. She was the most excited one when it came to her brother’s exploits. When she saw the dark blue uniform of the Atlantean enlisted, she stopped cold. Just yesterday, the Dominion had officially declared war on Atlantis. Now, her brother was headed to the fight. “Crimson, why?”

“I need to do this. Get out of this town for a while. Actually do something productive with my life. Besides, it might be fun. Platinum and Bats are going too. We’re in the same regiment!”

Just then, their mother, Shooting Star, walked down the steps. She took one look at her son and paled, if that was even possible for her white-hot coat. She was followed by the rest of the family. They were shocked in turn, but proud that the late bloomer had finally decided what to do.

Crimson’s father, Physics Psych, teared up. “At least you’ve decided. Wherever you go, I will support you. Just don’t go to the other side.”

“I’ll try not to, Dad.”

“When do you leave, Crimson?” Shooting Star asked.

“The train to the drill grounds leaves tomorrow at oh eight hundred. This is my last night before headin’ off, I’m afraid.”

The next morning, Crimson finished his last-minute packing and ate one final meal with his family. It was a somber affair, but Crimson’s parents had cooked up his favorite breakfast foods: pancakes, maple syrup, and waffles. He ate heartily. Somepony had told him the army food tasted like burned cardboard or something along those lines, so good food was to be relished.

“Crimson, wait! I packed you a lunch!” Shooting Star cried as her son walked to the bronze gates separating the house from the woods. He turned around with a goofy smile on his face, shaking his head in exasperation. She gave it to him and he opened it.

“Changeling-style cheese sandwich? You shouldn’t’ve, Mom!”

“You might as well have it. You’re the only one that likes it anyway.” She patted him with her right hoof. “Be careful, son.”

“I will. You worry too much!” With that, Crimson turned again and headed to the train station.

Summercrest Station was much more crowded than any local pony could ever be used to. Families wished their to-be soldiers farewell while others just stood there, a mixture of fear and pride plastered on their faces. Many of the teenage colts were leaving; almost half the town’s workforce had signed up. Ponies watched as the recruits boarded and left the lives they knew behind.

Two long, hollow, somber notes blew from the engine’s whistle. The wheels slipped briefly, then caught the stiff iron rails and pulled the train forward. Dark coal smoke blasted from the funnel followed by white steam as the engine worked. Slowly, the train pulled out of the station and picked up speed.

Crimson stared out the window. In this compartment sat Bats, Platinum, and two others. It was a lonely day for all of them, but they were determined to make sure it was the last.

“So, who are you guys?” Platinum asked the two others, Unicorns, in the compartment.

One of them looked up. “Northern Lights. He’s my brother, Southern Lights. We joined because our father said so. You?”

“Platinum Starlight. The bozo next to you is Bats. the guys staring out the window… we all know.”

“Crimson Dawn? The third-eldest son of Shooting Star and Physics Psych? I thought he was an adventurer.”

“We’re all leaving home, some with more legitimate reasons than others. Some of us think it’s a game, like Bats and Platinum. Other ponies see an adventure to tell their children when they come home and settle down. Still others believe it’s the right thing to do. I don’t know where I stand, exactly, but I plan on finding out.” Crimson said in a monotone to rival Maud Pie.

“Good point,” Northern Lights commented.

What came next was a surprise. Crimson started singing softly:

Sometimes even shooting stars
Find wishes that miss their marks.
But we travel on
Like the trail isn’t lost

When the night gets too dark
And the road home seems too far
We travel on
Like the trail isn’t lost

We are the Dawn of Ponykind
We travel on
We keep the trail
Our home may be behind us
But our hearts stay on the trail

Nothing we can do
Prevents war, famine, loss
But there’s a way we can postpone it
By using the Elements
As our light
Like the trail isn’t lost

The light to shine so bright
Is friendship, tried and true.
The green hills, the rolling plains
All in harmony
We keep it as a symbol
Of un-i-ty
Like the trail isn’t lost

We are the Dawn of Ponykind
We travel on
We keep the trail
Our home may be behind us
But our hearts stay on the trail

Our homes may be behind us
But our hearts stay on the trail
But our hearts stay on the trail.

Everypony else had hushed, expectantly listening. When he finished, they applauded.

“Red, I didn’t know you could sing!” Bats said excitedly.

“Neither did I!” Southern Lights agreed, speaking for the first time.

“That was goooood. Admit it.”

Crimson looked at the others. “I didn’t write that. My sister did. I just have a copy of the lyrics and do my best.”

“You know what,” Platinum said. “That should be our regimental anthem. We’ll stand out! I mean, nopony else has an anthem for their regiment!”

“Agreed!” everyone but Crimson practically shouted.

“Wait, what’s it called?” Northern Lights inquired.

“Crystal calls it ‘But Our Hearts Stay On the Trail.’” Crimson replied.

“Well, we got nothin’ else to do. You could teach us.”

They spent the rest of the trip learning the soft song that seemed to inspire them to win.

Author's Note:

Feedback appreciated.

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