• 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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43. The Battle of Haven Cove Part 1

General Moonshine Silvercrest waved her short sword in a circle high in the air, yelling for her soldiers to charge. Her usually dazzling white coat was dirty, scratched, and covered in grime. Her cloud-gray eyes scanned the horizon for sudden enemy movement. She rose from her entrenchment and ran at full gallop, followed by the regiment she lead.

AREA was not at its best. Half the army, lead by Sarge, was stuck near the Whispering Mountain Pass into Griffonstone, their backs to the wild winds and freezing blizzards of the mountains. Meanwhile, she and the other half defended Haven Cove from a Dom army that was close to wiping them out. They’d already been pushed back nearly to the town proper. This line was literally the last one before it became an urban fight. If she couldn’t take back the trench in front of her, or at least gain a foothold to drove the Doms away from, she and the six thousand effectives, not to mention twenty thousand incapable of combat in the hospitals, her Medical division, artillery, and logistics would surely be killed.

The charge, however, gallant, didn’t seem successful at first. Then the Atlanteans reached the Dominion line, starting the fight. It became a ripple. The Doms fought furiously, but the Atlanteans even more so. As control over the trench grew increasingly disputed, more AREA regiments poured in, fueled by the growing distraction. Eventually, the Doms were taken out, one by one.

“I’ve never seen them this fanatical,” Silvercrest gasped, leaning on her sword as she took in huge lungfuls of air.

“Neither have I, ma’am,” a soldier said. He too tried to catch his breath. Changing the subject, he said, “Damn, this air is wet. You can smell it.”

“Yes, indeed it is seemingly more humid than the ocean itself.” the General looked around. All around her, weary ponies either gasped for air or stayed still, not breathing at all. A Dom counterattack was unlikely for now; the humidity was hell on the enemy soldiers, who were used to the desert-dry air and occasional large storm in the Dominion. Here in Haven Cove, a squall blew in every other day, with an extra thunderstorm thrown in here and there. She could see today’s rain building up to the southeast now, along with a black pillar to the northeast. Probably a new volcano, she thought.

The air was so humid, in fact, that most of her casualties so far were because of heat stroke, even in midwinter. Their sweat just wouldn’t evaporate into the saturated atmosphere and cool them off, instead sticking to their fur like all insanity. On top of that, it was a nearly constant eighty-eight degrees Marenheit year-round. Silvercrest wondered how the locals could stand it.

Haven Cove was situated a full day’s sail westward of Nautinia going six knots, so almost a hundred fifty nautical miles. The decently sized town was also close to sixty miles south of the Atlantean capital, on the ninety-mile strip of land called the Mega Peninsula. Being closer to the equatorial line, Haven Cove received much hotter temperatures and more storms than other coastal cities like Summercrest, Nautinia, and Cape Heron. The land was practically a mangrove swamp, a massively extensive delta formed from the Harmony Run after its several-hundred-mile descent from the Whispering Mountains. The place was full of mosquitos and smelled of nature at its finest.

Almost everything here was built from fired red clay brick to prevent rotting, even the floors and roofs. Age-old cement held the bricks together, replaced on a regular semi-annual basis. A lone bell tower rang out the time, chiming four times per hour. The newest buildings were made from stone transported from the nearest quarries, as was the Haven Canal, probably the most horribly-named canal in history. If anything, it was not a haven. The tides had a habit of raising and lowering at unpredictable times, causing unlucky sailors to be marooned until they rose again. But it was at the thinnest stretch of land all the Mega Peninsula had to offer, so it had that. It saved at least ten hours of transit time. If only it was slightly farther north, SIlvercrest would like it. This place was a storm magnet, if the weather-worn bricks had anything to say about it.

“Ma’am, we have the numbers,” a Colonel said. “Almost three hundred dead and twice that wounded - from the battle. Another sixty-four got heat stroke.”

“Damn. I hoped it’d be better.” Silvercrest took a long drink from her canteen. The water was warm. She stopped drinking and sighed. “We seriously need more cold water, or ice if we can afford it. Send that down to Logistics.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Silvercrest stared east again. Rumor had it that Atlanta was trying to bring them reinforcements, link them back up with the Second Coastal Regiment. That wouldn’t matter if the humidity killed them all less than three weeks after Hearth’s Warming. Maybe that was the Dom plan: kill them with the liquid of life and walk in.

The volcanic-looking smoke was just barely slightly closer now. That meant it was moving. Moving towards Haven Cove. “Where’s HQ?” Silvercrest asked.

“In the town, ma’am,” another colonel answered.

“Take over here, Colonel. I have something for the guys there to know.”

“We could send a messenger.”

“Nah. I’ll do it. Besides, I need a break from the front lines.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Silvercrest walked to her headquarters building, which happened to be the town hall. It, like the rest of Haven Cove, was made of red bricks and held together with cement. A rich blue Atlantean flag with the AREA seal embroidered on it was draped over the entrance, the bottom about five feet above her head. She nodded to it and walked in.

Inside, it was a much different story than the sun-dried brick out the doors. Everything was lit with dim, flickering candlelight and the few windows had the curtains drawn. The place smelled of candle-smoke and sweat. Everyone here was serious and grim-faced. Altogether, it was depressing compared to the other options they had. But Town Hall was the biggest, most defensible building, not to mention in Haven Cove’s epicenter. It was also not being currently used for much at the time.

Silvercrest ascended the stairwell and walked through the second-floor balcony overlooking the harbor, directly opposite the way she came in. She sighed, feeling the breeze in her mane and the salty aroma in her nostrils, the smallest of ocean spray seemingly washing away the dirt and grime that covered her. After a long day amidst a long siege, the fresh air that blew in from the sea was welcome.

Her reprieve was interrupted by the colonel she put in charge of HQ. “General, is there a reason for your presence?”

“There should be unless I truly don’t have one,” she replied, a bit irritated. “That much is obvious.” Silvercrest gestured to the northwest, where the town’s infrastructure allowed them to see as far as they did. “You see that cloud there? It looks like a volcano’s.”

The Earth pony squinted through his overly big glasses. Colonel “Curiosity” Artifact, known mostly for his ability to find the tiniest details in everything, was insanely nearsighted, which made him perfect for a desk job. Sure, he didn’t know how to lead trained soldiers into battle, but his competence helped him climb the ladder and end up where he was. His task before Silvercrest came to Haven Cove was recruiting; he’d been the CO of the district. His dusty brown coat had virtually no scars, maybe except for the time he accidentally lost his glasses and tumbled down four flights of stairs. He also loved to tell stories about his foalhood, his comrades’ fan favorite being called the “Apple Story,” where he threw a curveball apple at a snotty filly teasing his sister for being a “blank flank.” Everyone had thought the apple would miss, but it instead grazed her across the face, breaking her nose. He got in serious trouble with the teachers, but that filly never made fun of his sister again.

“I see it, ma’am, if a tad fuzzy.”

“That thing was farther away fifteen minutes ago. I don’t know what it is. Do you?”

“Well, it would appear to be coal smoke,” Artifact said, “but we don’t have anything on the high seas that would require coal, now, do we? Coal smoke does imply steam power, so perhaps our Queen has begun turning trains to ships that can go much faster than what we have. Or maybe the Summercrest Project has come to help us.”

“It isn’t the latter. Last I heard, it was still being worked on.”

“Ah. So, therefore, we can assume that Queen Atlanta has begun using the principles found within in order to make advanced warships capable of almost anything.”

“Let’s hope that is the case, then.”

----------------------------------

The ship producing the pillar of dark smoke became visible over the horizon even though the evening was in full swing by then. It was metal and it was flying across the water! As it closed the gap between it and Haven Cove, its sharp, knifelike bow was unlike anything Silvercrest had ever seen. The stern crouched low as whatever was beneath it kicked up a six-foot rooster tail. A searchlight tower between the two above-deck sections, but on the rear half, announced the ship’s presence for miles around with its powerful beam of light. The sun’s rays reflected off the bronze upper hull like a bright brownish-orange box of sunlight.

The ship slowed significantly as it neared the harbor entrance, the rooster tail and the wide, frothy wake dying down. A sea-green Atlantean naval jack flew off the foremast (the taller of the two), clearly visible from Silvercrest’s new viewpoint at the naval dock. She hove to and came to a complete stop less than ten feet from the wooden pier. Ponies from both the yard and ship tossed and caught lines to drag the ship closer and lower the gangplank. Quickly and efficiently they worked, securing the lines in a minute. Soon, the standard supply swap was underway and the ship’s commander came out onto the starboard bridge wing. She saluted the general below and signaled that she was coming ashore. A minute later, the two stood facing each other for the first time.

“General Silvercrest, I am Captain Middle Road of the Atlantean Navy.”

“Captain,” Silvercrest said. “I see you’re already familiar with me. Did the Queen fill you in?”

“Yes. She also said that Sarge is coming down from the Whispering Mountains as fast as he can. They should arrive in four days, but they’ll be worn out to hell. What they need is for you to clear a path for them to just barge on through so that they’ll end their journey in friendly lines.”

“What of the Second Coastal?”

“As far as I know, they’re at Whitecap Point.”

Whitecap Point? “How old is this information?”

“About a week or so. Treetop is trying to take back the area nearest Summercrest. It’s a little hard since all the rail lines are controlled by Dominion ‘bandits’ and all communications spells are blocked.”

“That explains a lot. How’d you figure that out?”

“He did a lot of assuming and then found that the regiment trying to take over for him was Dom. It went quite smoothly from there.”

Silvercrest harrumphed. “Of course it did. Treetop is a fine officer.”

“Indeed he is.” Both of them smiled at their agreement.

“So, what ship is this?” Silvercrest asked, turning her attention to the metal vessel riding the waves.

“This, General, is ANS Bats Nightmane, DD-01. She’s the first - and hopefully not last - of the Nightmane class destroyers.”

“Did you just say ‘Bats Nightmane’? As in, Batrocious Nightmane, in the Second Coastal before being killed at Pacifica?” Silvercrest completely ignored the fact that she had no idea what the hell a destroyer even was.

“Yes, ma’am. Harbormaster Nightmane was hit really hard with it, and also amazed at what his son did to protect others, so the boys down in the yards decided to honor the kid. We launched her not two weeks ago.”

“Jeez. that’s a new ship.”

Middle Road chuckled. “Sea trials happened right after she was fitted, which took the full day and a half, ‘round the clock, after her launch. We’re all extremely proud of her.”

“You rushed her fitting?”

“No. Most of it was done while she was still in drydock since she wasn’t going anywhere. Essentially, Nightmane launched with almost everything she needed. The fitting was really the finishing touches we couldn’t get to until she did launch, which wasn’t too much.” Middle Road gestured around. “Looks like you’ve been in more than a pickle.”

“Two of them. Come to HQ with me; I’ve got a ton of things that could use an outsider’s perspective.”

Author's Note:

After Haven Cove, I'll have a chapter where Sarge explains his holdup in the Whispering Mountains, which he will refer to as the Whispering Highlands from time to time. In fact, I might do that too. Just remember that those two are the same thing.

Haven Cove's climate was inspired by the ridiculous humidity New Orleans has to offer.

Feedback appreciated.

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