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Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it. Those who do study history are doomed to watch other people repeat it.

T
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Note: Outside a couple specific chapters, the bloodshed is limited and mostly only spoken of, and the suicide/self harm tag mostly refers to one scene and to a character's ongoing struggle with depression. Links to crisis lines are farther down in the story description and will be in any chapter that deals directly with suicide. Don't struggle alone. You are worth fighting for!


Each of Rarity's friends played a role in the Great War, serving with great honor in ending the tyranny of the Griffon Dominion. But Rarity? Rarity stayed. It wasn't her choice. Her friends insisted. And, in all fairness, they were probably right. Somepony needed to stay, and it made the most sense for it to be her.

Still, it never felt right.

Now the war is over, and scarred veterans are trickling back into their communities, surrounding Rarity with reminders of the price paid by her fellow citizens, and leaving her with a mounting guilt over the un-payable debt. So when Applejack asks Rarity to help get a member of her old unit back on his hooves after the war, the seamstress jumps at the chance to do her part. Corporal Iron 'Shoddy' Shod may be a little ... rough of manners for her tastes, it's true, but he's a hard worker, and Rarity is confident in her ability to help him. But when it becomes apparent that Shoddy has more to overcome than just his lack of decorum, Rarity will learn some deep truths about the price that some pay for freedom, and the wounds that don't stop with the flesh.

For it is often said that the hardest battle a veteran faces is the one he fights at home.


As this story contains graphic imagery of war, depression, and the struggle with suicide in certain chapters, I am placing a link to the Veteran Crisis line here, as well as links to the national suicide prevention hotline and a list of international hotlines. There is no shame in needing help. In truth, it is courageous to ask for it.


This story is set in an alternative universe that picks up after the end of Season 4. Thus, all events that follow Tirek's defeat either didn't happen or happened differently. The specifics will unfold with the story, but for now it suffices to say that the "Princess of Friendship" title became quite intertwined with international diplomacy in this world. Unless otherwise specified, it does not follow the canon of my other works.

Special thanks to MadHotaru for the use the cover image. https://madhotaru.deviantart.com/art/Classic-style-329958227

My Little Pony and its contents are the property of Hasbro, Inc. and its affiliates. Please support the official release.

Chapters (10)
Comments ( 152 )

Aiet, weep for the innocent, hoping for peace yet doomed to fear.

Aiet, curse the hateful, they lust for the blood of others, but will be drowned in their own.

Aiet, honor the dutiful, for sacrifice given in the name of love shall never be forgotten..

A soldier's got to have something to come home to, else they never will come back at all. Someone to be there waiting, and it's alright if they don't quite get it, that's the point.

They don't understand, and that's a very good thing.

Interesting stuff so far. I eagerly (but patiently) await more.

As if the MPs could even find my tunnel network to begin with.

And that existed before the war!

Rainbow interrupts her bickering to fly over. “What do you mean?” she asks. “Twilight’s just inside.”

You little so-and-so.

... Oh.

This story is going to hurt, but it will be a good pain. Looking forward to it. (It helps if I imagine the far-future Cyborg Princess of Friendship.)

That said, I do have to wonder about the threats that came shortly after Tirek. Starlight and the sirens both could go very different with Equestria otherwise occupied... :unsuresweetie:

Holy...that is some intense content. I say well done, even though it's pretty heartwrenching. I got vibes from the assasination of Archduke Ferdinand. Some may object that a bullet could harm an Alicorn as they're pretty strong, but I think its like Wonder Woman. She's very durable, but not bullet-proof like Supes. You really know how to paint a vivid picture my friend. I'm going to enjoy this.

9615778
If you think this story will be a hard read... think about how it is for me to write it. This one pulls a lot from my personal experiences as a civilian interacting with people who have gone through trials that I can only imagine. (And I appreciate how you alluded to what I did without outright saying it).

As I said in the author's note, there will be some end-of-chapter snippets to explain some of the context (or I may just answer some things directly because they didn't come up in the lore). In this world, Tirek may have been the catalyst for the modernization of the military, but wiser voices within the country had been pushing for it for years due to emerging threats over the borders (like the Unified Griffon Dominion). The Hoofenburg incident occurred a few years after Tirek, and in this version Twilight's role as Princess of Friendship meant a lot of foreign diplomacy rather than map quests. At this point I have no plans to include Starlight, simply because there are a lot of moving parts to this story and I think she might pull focus too much from the main plot.

9616300

At this point I have no plans to include Starlight, simply because there are a lot of moving parts to this story and I think she might pull focus too much from the main plot.

Perhaps 'tis simply this, that in these dangerous times Starlight saw greater dangers in foreign lands than in Equestria's irregular society. And so went off to do her part in the military or some such rather than do something that might weaken Equestria. One time period's thug is another's champion, Starlight just needed a productive outlet for her fervor.

9616374
Perhaps. One can certainly hope that she'd take a better path.

I love the accurate descriptions of firearms, though I'm surprised Pinkie favors a Needle rifle with it's characteristic fragility. Glad Twilight is still alive, I wonder what the full extent of her injuries are? Hope we get flashbacks to that day. Another winner of a story.💪

9617123
Glad you're enjoying it. Maybe slap a spoiler bar on that one section. As far as revealing the extent of things, that will be one of those things where little details come up chapter by chapter.

The Needle Rifle is more a novelty trophy than anything else; fun to shoot, and a personal victory to retrieve one when they initially gave the Griffons a huge technological edge.

I don't even have much to say, just, woah. :rainbowderp:
Intense start.

Glad Archduke Twilight is still kicking, or not quite kicking
Also glad AJ really likes zebras now

9622717
Yeah, I had fun with the irony of that. Imagine how that conversation went down.

:pinkiehappy:: "Hey, AJ, remember that time you didn't know Zebras existed and thought Zecora was an evil pony enchantress because she looked different and lived in the spooky woods?"
:ajbemused:: *through gritted teeth* "Pinkie Pie... shut... up."
Arinze: *laughs*
:rainbowlaugh:: "To be fair... we all thought she was an evil enchantress."
:ajbemused:: "Not... helping."
Arinze: *laughs harder*

Now this is a cool AU story! :pinkiehappy:
Great chapter!
Also, may I draw some inspiration from your explanation for why there are firearms in Equestria? I need to it for my story.

9625254
Go right ahead. Thanks for asking first.

If there are Veterans looking for work, and they've problems associating with civilians, then why not undertake to work with other veterans? Equestria has a longstanding tradition of self-employment, it seems to me that an enterprising group might carve out their own niche by dint of industrious work and practiced discipline. Certainly it sounds like something that would attract the crown's favorable attention.

Twilight emits a cackle. “Yes, because hauling a wheelchair-bound sniper around a battlefield wouldn’t have caused any logistical problems. I can’t even begin to count the number of ways that could have gone wrong.”

>The End has entered the chat.

9627288
And that sort of thing is a great fit... if one hears about it. There are companies in the States that do that (Black Rifle Coffee Company for instance), or existing professions that have been wise enough to involve a lot of veterans as well (the show SEAL Team has over half its cast and crew drawn from veterans). However, some of these jobs are geographic dependent or require a particular skillset and, again, one needs to hear about it to take advantage of it.

More critically is the complexity of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs are a vital part of society and one of the most beautiful things about the free market, but these ventures are risky. New businesses fail more than half the time, even in systems which encourage such risk-taking, and entrepreneurs often must try multiple times to get their businesses off the ground. The persistent ones generally succeed eventually, but that may take a few years before they really turn a profit and build a highly successful company. If there's not a group of veterans who took such a risk (and succeeded) in your area, well, you're back to looking for regular work.

In Equestria's case, there certainly are (and will be more) veteran-specific companies and organizations in this canon. However, those still face the same troubles as listed above; on top of which, Equestria hasn't been in a state of total war for centuries. As a country, they just aren't used to having such large numbers of vets coming home from a brutal war, so solutions that seem obvious to us may not seem obvious to them (much like Europe after WWI). The free market certainly has the power to adapt to the need (and, if it's anything like our world, it'll be a heck of a lot more successful than most government programs - even people who work for the VA tend to speak fairly scathingly of its efficiency), but the transition is not instantaneous, and while the transition happens some vets will be stuck like Shoddy.

I don't say any of this to dump on your idea. It's a great one, works well in our world, and would certainly work well and win Crown support in Equestria. They are fortunate enough to have a flexible free market that encourages entrepreneurship and self-employment, both of which lend themselves to a robust and flexible economy with ample opportunities for growing prosperity. I'm just pointing out the challenges inherent to handling large-scale post-war employment under any system, even a strong one.

9627789

Aye, I see what you mean, things are rarely so convenient, or accommodating. Honestly, I was hoping to provoke/inspire such an illuminating response, you are a veritable font of information on these matters.

Rarity could not come to the horror of war, so that horror shall visit her, transported in the mind of one poor soldier. Hopefully she can help him. Hopefully there's something to help.

Also, nice look at the lives the others came back to.

9633641
Like Applejack, I don't believe in lost causes. There's always something to help. Sometimes it's just not clear where that something is or how to help it. Always better to handle such things with help.

And I'm glad you like the look at the others' lives. Honestly, this context of slice-of-life material for the main cast after the war is one of my favorite parts of this story.

That war was a bad 'un wasn't it? Not in the sense that any war is an evil day, it was a bad one, wasn't it?

9656738
Think WWI combat with Global War on Terror ambushes against a tyrannical regime as zealous as the Soviets or the Nazis, and you start to get a picture of the nightmare Shoddy walked through.

His grip is a little too tight, but we’ll work on that. Perhaps he’s just nervous.

I will never understand how ponies grip things. It is one of the show's biggest mysteries. Right up there with whatever Pinkie is classified as. :rainbowhuh:
Also, is this story in the same universe as "Memoirs of My War"? Because I thought Rarity was a logistics expert in that universe.
Great chapter, by the way.

9657588
Separate universe. Memoirs of My War and The Flowers of the Forest are both part of an AU I call War's Generation, which diverts from the canon shortly after Season 3 opens. Homecoming picks up after Season 4's end and at the moment is a standalone story, though I might (emphasis 'might') expand it with other stories at some point.

As for gripping things with hooves, I'm going with a combination of magic and actual science (there are ways to grip things with blunter appendages, and magic would only help).

And Pinkie Pie.... it's best not to ask what Pinkie Pie is. :pinkiecrazy:

9658054
Glad you enjoyed Memoirs. That story was one of my favorites to write. Hope this one lives up to it.

9657722
Thanks for the clarification! I was just confused. :derpytongue2:

...and, after seeing the Castle of Friendship, something about architecture and the dangers of ‘Good Idea Fairies’.

In the Tree of Harmony's defense, it doesn't have eyes.
Though, speaking of the Castle, if the attack happened just after Tirek, then it was made with the assumption that Twilight would have four working legs. That's a lot of stairs for a mare in a wheelchair. Or, given Harmonious precognition, this version of the Castle was made with ramps, which would've only raised more questions at the time.

…which now that I think about it makes a lot of sense given her name…

Ah, nominative determinism. Ponies have it much worse than us in that regard.

I do appreciate Rarity acknowledging that this will be far from a walk in the park. Looking forward to seeing just how rough the journey will be. And what's up with Applejack.

9660150
Twilight: "Hey, why do you suppose the Castle has so many ramps?"
Tree of Harmony: *winces and whistles innocently*

9660150

And what's up with Applejack.

Wadda ya think's up with a perfectly healthy married girl seeing a doctor quiet-like about "mare problems"?

She's getting an eye exam, obviously, she's just embarrassed to admit it.

9660991
:rainbowlaugh: Literally choked laughing

I read this chapter a while ago, but I thought I would comment on this. Arinze's name basically means, "the grace of God." The more you know! :pinkiehappy:

9667114
Huh. Interesting. I actually just named him after a priest that I like, but I didn't know the meaning of the name. Thank you for enlightening me.

More top notch writing. This story hurts so good...
To see Red Heart injured was especially sad.
I'm so glad you're drawing attention to what many veterans have to deal with.

Now really Rarity, I'm surprised at you. If this craggy old lizard can tell what's going on, you have no excuse.

9685523
When one has become accustomed to expecting catastrophe, one might miss the obvious.

9685754

Iron Shod's not the only one who's stuck...

9685773
Indeed. And that's a big part of the theme in this chapter. Now... it wasn't going to be that way originally, but that's the writing process for you. :applejackconfused:

9685875
That's how you know you're doing it right!

Oof. Shoddy's not the only one carrying trauma. Rarity could use a few sessions with a therapist herself. Ah, but everypony else has it so much worse, darling, and there's always so much to do...

Someone may need an intervention at some point. I just hope she exercises some self-care before then.

As for the demographic issues... yeah, in a population of distinct subspecies, the ripples of the war will be felt for generations to come.

9686248
Alternate title for this chapter: The Homefront Was Rough Too.

And... yeah. Populations. That idea only recently occurred to me, but the moment it did I couldn't let it go. Glad people are reading the author's note, because it's actually my favorite part of this chapter.

This chapter is just more gold. The dialogue between Rarity and Dash feels so fitting, so natural. They feel real. I got a bad feeling about AJ. The fact that this is so easy to relate to actual lives and experiences is a combination of painful and compelling. More please.

“Well you see, darling, it seems my brain has fused into an inert blob of useless flesh from the horror of it all.”

Best. Line. Ever. Of all time. :pinkiehappy:

9696368
Thank you. I rather liked it.

Is this a sequel?

9756781
Nope. Homecoming is separate from my other stories and is mostly meant as a vehicle for the reader to journey through the years following a horrific war through the eyes of a non-combatant. I think the homefront (and the often complicated reintegration of veterans after the war) is often overlooked, which is why I deliberately don't have the full context of the war given in another story; I want it to unfold through conversations between Rarity and the others and through the lore excerpts in the author's notes (things which Rarity might read or hear) - this is meant to mirror the experience of civilians trying to understand what the veterans amongst their friends and family went through, while also exploring the unique challenges that come from staying behind.

That was probably a longer explanation than you wanted. :twilightblush:

“Corporal Iron Shod. ‘Shoddy.’

Applejack shrugs. “No idea. His mark’s an iron horseshoe, but he swears up an’ down he ain’t no cobbler or blacksmith. He never told me what his talent is, and if he told any of his buddies it never got back to me.”

Am I to take it from these lines that ponies in this story wear nail-on horseshoes (something I'd support)?

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