• Published 20th Sep 2018
  • 1,904 Views, 309 Comments

Fifty Shades of Neigh - GaPJaxie

A collection of short stories, based on fifty prompts given to me by FiMFiction.

  • ...

Get Rekt Scrub

A request by Thought Prism:

A new chapter of Ponies Playing Video Games, in which the game played is a terrible one.

General Twilight stood in the bombed-out remains of the old steel refinery, gazing at the field before her. The refinery administration building had once stood five stories tall, of which barely three remained, and the third in precarious condition. But despite the danger of the building’s imminent collapse, Twilight had climbed the shattered brickwork in search of a vantage point.

She found it. From what used to be somepony’s office window, she had a wide, expansive view of the countryside. She could see the fields, the forests, and the distant bridge. Spike, standing next to her, observed it with his binoculars. Twilight preferred to use the unaided eye.

“Battle,” Twilight said, “is the most magnificent competition in which a pony can indulge. It brings out all that is best; it removes all that is base. All mares are afraid in battle. The coward is the one who lets her fear overcome her sense of duty. Duty is the essence of character, and the means by which weakness is overcome.”

Spike lowered his binoculars half an inch so he could shoot Twilight a pointed stare. She laughed, her voice stiff. “General Ponyton said it.”

“It’s not like you to get this much into wargames.” He lifted his binoculars back to his eyes, peering with sudden intensity at something in the distance.

“Well, this one is special. How many ponies get to go to war but know that nopony is actually being hurt? It’s the experience of a lifetime with none of the horror.” Her tone was light, but a defensive note ran under it. “The House of Enchanted Comics is great like that.”

“You’re sure you’re not just mad Rarity crushed you at Stellaris?”

“She got absurdly lucky. If that battle had gone any other way, she would have been flattened.”

“If you say so.” Spike reached a claw up to his binoculars to adjust the focus. “Well, there she is. I see one of her scouts.”

Twilight leaned out to squint where Spike was looking. “Where? Is it a squad of panzergrenadiers? A kubelwagon?”

“Sniper,” Spike said.

Then Twilight’s head exploded.

“Oh my goodness, look at these uniforms!” Rarity levitated one of the plastic miniatures out of the game box. “They’re exquisite. Elegantly minimalist, grey background with a brilliant use of color…” She squinted. “They even have the most darling little skulls on their caps.”

“Rarity, that’s the SS.”

“Oh, are they a playable side?” Her ears perked up. “If so, I do believe I’m calling dibs.”

“They’re…” Twilight sighed and hung her head. “Yes. They’re a playable side.” Looking away, she mumbled under her breath, “Though you’re not supposed to be this enthusiastic about playing them.”

Rarity wasn’t the only one rooting through the box. All of Twilight’s friends were pulling out miniature ponies, plastic tanks, packets of funny dice, and collections of cards. Rainbow admired a little pegasus “bomber” with a dozen grenades strapped to her uniform, while Applejack cooed at a figurine of a unicorn pyromancer that could shoot little illusory flames from its horn.

When all the miniatures were gone, Twilight was left with the rulebook.

“So!” she abruptly clapped her hooves down on the table. Everypony jumped in place and quickly turned to look at her. “This is Company of Heroes, Second Edition. It’s a wargame set in a fictional alternate universe where the three tribes' wars for dominance persisted into the modern age. Specifically, it pits the forces of Harmony,” she hefted a ball of miniatures, “these factions, against the evil Neighzi’s.”

Rainbow rolled her eyes. “Wow, way to read the front of the box there.”

“It’s a strategy game,” Twilight went on undeterred. “A lot like Stellaris but more visceral.”

“Um…” Fluttershy raised a hand. “These rules look complicated. How do we start?”

“Well first, everypony picks a faction and then we split into two teams of three. It sounds like Rarity has already—”

“Dibs on Rainbow Dash,” Rarity spoke quickly. After a moment's hesitation, she added: “I need her ah… pegasus battle instincts!”

“‘Battle instincts,’ huh?” Rainbow buffed a hoof against her coat. “I guess I could be persuaded. Applejack, you in too?”

“Well, alright.” Applejack picked up a few of the little black-uniformed miniatures. “How do you pronounce, uh… ‘Wehrmacht’?”

Twilight sighed through her teeth. “Fine. That makes the forces of Harmony me, Fluttershy, and Pinkie Pie. Though I should warn you, ‘pegasus battle instincts’ won’t help much. Like I said, this is a strategy game. It’s an intellectual game, and the key to winning is patient, careful planning.”

“General Twilight!” A messenger saluted. “Message from the enemy. They wish to discuss terms of surrender.”

In her second match, Twilight had the good sense to stay down in the trenches with her soldiers. Ponies in helmets and webbing clustered all around her as they awaited the enemy, rifles leaned against the trench wall beside them. She took the rolled up message, and carefully opened it.

“Flank flank I’M A TANK,” it read. “Love, General Rainbow Dash.”

Something rumbled nearby. The ground around Twilight began to shake. Her soldiers rose out of the trench and fired their rifles, shouting at each other in alarm.

“It’s fine.” Twilight said quickly. “It’s fine. That’s what we have anti-tank grenades for. Okay everypony, on three! One,” she pulled out her own grenade. “Two. Three!”

Twilight rose out of the trench, and the rest of her squad moved with her. She had half a second to spot the incoming Panzer IV, and then she had to act. The pin flew out of the grenade, and she hurled it with all her might, scoring a perfect hit on the tank’s forward grill. Two of her squaddies also managed perfect hits, landing their grenades on the tanks side and front armor respectively.

All three grenades exploded. When the smoke cleared, the tank’s armor was severely dented.

“Oh.” Twilight frowned as the turret swung around. “Well that’s clearly underpower-”

Then she exploded.

“Okay! I see the problem. War is tricky. But, that’s the point, isn’t it? You learn something about yourself?” Twilight gestured wildly as she spoke. “The problem is we’re not being aggressive enough.”

Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie didn’t look like they were entirely following, or for that matter, entirely happy to be there. “Twilight…” Fluttershy frowned. “We can play a different game.”

“Oh, come on. Just because we’re down a few matches is no reason to give up.”

“Um…” Pinkie Pie raised a hoof. “We’re down 5-0. We could at least scramble the teams.”

“No. I’ve got this. The problem is we keep advancing to the middle and letting them come to us. We’re giving up the strategic initiative! We need to combine our forces and push them off the map. Attack them at their weak point.”

“Okay…” Fluttershy frowned. “How do we do that?”

“Applejack is the key. I haven’t seen her deploy a tank yet. All she ever builds is basic infantry and engineers. She’s their weak point. And once we break her, we’ll have Rarity and Rainbow Dash flanked, and we can wrap the whole thing up.”

“Hey, Twilight!” Applejack called. “Check it out. I’m a lead farmer!”

The distinctive roar of an MG-42 split the air. It was so close, Twilight could see the orange of Applejack’s coat through the pillbox gunslit. Tracer rounds flew through the air like angry wasps. The pony in front of Twilight abruptly twisted and fell. A spray of blood darkened her uniform.

“Ground!” Twilight screamed, through her soldiers had already reacted. Her, Fluttershy, and Pinkie Pie’s forces were all bunched together on the narrow road. Bullets blew clear through ponies to hit the soldiers behind them. Ten squads peeled off the road, diving into the ditches beside it for cover.

“We’re pinned down!” a stallion screamed. “We’ve got to retreat!”

“No no. We can do this. We can still do this!” Twilight slowly crawled forward, head low. She retrieved a grenade from her pack, gripping it in her teeth as the focused on the sound of the machine gun ahead. The air smelled like ashes and tar, and somewhere nearby, a pony was screaming.

In the distance, there was a strange whine. “That’s rocket artillery!”

“We can still do this!” Twilight pulled the pin from the grenade, lifted her head for half a second, and threw. Applejack reacted at once. The grenade was still sailing through the air when she let go of the machine gun and turned to sprint out of her bunker. She was halfway to the door when it landed, and fleeing to the rear when it exploded.

The mare escaped, but the gun fell silent.

“That’s it. We’re through.” Twilight rose to her hooves. “Forward. Forward!” She charged ahead, leading her forces past the pillbox.

Beneath her hooves, a landmine clicked.

Twilight sat alone at her table with the box in front of her. She pushed the little miniatures around with her hooves making “Boom” and “Fwoosh” sounds.

“Oh nooo,” she mumbled under her breath. “It’s the good guys here to save the day our evil regime is doomed. Aaagh. I exploded.”

Wow,” Starlight said, from roughly six inches behind Twilight’s left ear.

Twilight screamed, attempted to leap to her hooves, and upon failing, fell out of her chair. “Starlight!” she shouted. “I was, uh…” Her mind raced for a solution. “Not doing that thing you think you saw.”

“Master of deception you are.” Without bothering to help Twilight up, Starlight took her own seat at the table. “Spike told me you were feeling sad. What’s up?”

“Nothing’s up.” Twilight pulled herself back to her hooves. “The girls came over for some gaming this evening, and I’m not sure they had fun, that’s all. We’ll do a different game next week.”

“Really? Because it sounded like Rarity had a ton of fun.” Starlight tapped her nose. “She gets pretty into these games.”

“Yeah. Yeah.” Twilight folded her hooves and rested her head on the table. “She’s, you know, good at them.”

Starlight stared at Twilight and frowned. She let the silence hang between them for several seconds, mulling over what she’d say next. Finally, she said: “Twilight? Do you want to win the game, or do you want to prove you’re smarter than Rarity?”

“What?” Twilight lifted her head. “No, it’s not like that, it’s—”

“Because you are. Smarter than Rarity I mean. Everybody knows it. She knows it. She wouldn’t be offended if you used those words in front of her.” Starlight shrugged. “You’re a brilliant scholar and she’s a dressmaker.”

“No! I mean, yes. I mean, I’d never say that. It’s not a contest. That…” Twilight signed. “She’s a clever dressmaker.”

“That she is. But she doesn’t keep beating you at strategy games because she’s cleverer than you.”

“Applejack and Rainbow Dash beat me too.”

“No, Rarity beat you. Applejack and Rainbow Dash were her weapons. And you do you know how I know that?” Starlight stared at Twilight, and waited until Twilight met her gaze. “I know that because after you two, they’re the two most skilled players in the group, and Spike told me she immediately grabbed them both for her team. She stacked the deck before the first game started.”

Twilight looked off into the corner and mumbled, “She didn’t grab AJ.”

“Maybe. But once she had her, she didn’t offer to scramble teams.” Starlight leaned down, staring at Twilight. “Rarity keeps beating you because Rarity wants to win. You want to prove you’re clever. She’s fighting like an officer. You’re fighting like an intellectual with a wounded ego.”

“I didn’t like how she beat me at Stellaris.”

“I wouldn’t like it either in your place. She’s humiliated you.” Starlight flicked Twilight’s ear. “But today you let her humiliate you again. You see where I’m going with this?”

“Fine.” Twilight sighed. “So I should just give up?”

“You can keep losing, you can give up, or you can play to win. Those are your three options.” Starlight rested a hoof on Twilight’s shoulder.

After a moment, Twilight looked up.

“Do you want to win, Twilight?” Starlight asked. “Do you really want to win?”

“Yeah.” Twilight nodded. Then she nodded again more firmly. “Yeah! I do want to win. That’s it. I’m going to go round up Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie, get a strategy guide on how to play the British, and—”

Starlight’s hoof slammed into the table.

“No British.” She leaned down until she was muzzle to muzzle with Twilight’s stunned face. “Winners play Soviet.”

“Not one step backwards, comrades!” Starlight shouted, taking cover behind the burning wreckage of a T-34. Tracer rounds and high-velocity shells criss-crossed the field in front of her in both directions, as the unstoppable Neighzi war machine met the unending hordes of the worker’s state.

Rockets flew through the air in both directions. Incendiary rounds set whole forests ablaze. Rarity commanded her side of the battle from her King Tiger, but the invulnerable beast’s armor was becoming noticeably pitted. Shell after shell slammed into its side. She screamed into her radio to be heard over the whine of the Katyusha rockets.

Rainbow Dash’s tank push had bogged down. There was no great battle or decisive victory, just landmines, tank traps, and the end of mobile warfare. Applejack’s bunker had exploded. Twilight didn’t see it -- the feat was accomplished with artillery from miles away. And soon, Rarity’s center would fail, and the entire line would collapse.

As Twilight watched Starlight push up the field, she realized she was winning.

And it was terrible.