• Published 22nd Dec 2019
  • 1,787 Views, 69 Comments

Halo Equestria: The Long War - Demon_Imp_Spartan



In late 2551, humanity discovers the planet Equis and the Equestrians. So do the Covenant. With no choice, the humans and Equestrians must band together in order to survive.

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11- Rocky Holiday

11

December 25th, 2551

Golden Oaks Library, Ponyville, Equis

“Happy Hearth's Warming Day!”

The interior of Twilight’s library had been completely transformed. A large, brightly decorated tree stood to one side of the main room. Lights hung over the windows, door, and railing on the stairs. Candles sat on every windowsill. There was even a small table set out in the sitting room with snacks and drinks set out.

She was having a small party that night – planned, of course, by Pinkie Pie– and had invited all her close friends over. Pinkie, Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Fluttershy, Rarity, and Spike were all there. Rarity and Applejack’s younger sisters, Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom, were also there, as well as Scootaloo, the young filly that followed Rainbow Dash around constantly. Shinging Armor had stopped by, given the fact that his home was currently under siege, and Big Macintosh was also there, though that was making things a little tense.

She and Rainbow Dash had returned to Ponyville the previous day by the UNSC. They had really only needed her and Dash there to help map out the area, and as soon as she'd seen that they had rescued her brother and Princess Cadence, Twilight had been adamant that they had needed to leave as soon as possible. The further away from the Equestrian Freedom Society, the better. Besides, she'd see enough combat to last her for a long time.

They had all been told to keep silent about where they had been and what they had been doing, as it wasn't exactly public knowledge that the UNSC had decided to step in to place an entire Equestrian city under siege, even if it was occupied by a violent rebel group. She and Rainbow Dash hadn't talked about it at all, and she couldn't tell what the obstinate mare was feeling, though that wasn't true for everypony in the room.

From where she sat in an armchair by the warm, lit fireplace, sipping at a glass of cider, Twilight watched the dissonant coldness between Applejack and Big Mac. They were sitting on the couch – each on an opposite end. Not looking at one another.

Twilight knew Applejack was angry with her brother, but she wasn’t sure what to do. She and Shining had never had a falling out like this, and she’d never had to repair any rift like this. Not to mention that it was Hearth's Warming Eve. This was supposed to be a happy time that brought family and friends together. Not one where they were kept apart.

“They’ve been like this all night,” muttered a voice.

Twilight glanced up to see Fluttershy leaning over the top of the chair, staring at the feuding siblings with her big, sad eyes.

“I know,” Twilight sighed, shifting to continue her conversation with the butterscotch-coated mare. “But I’m not sure what to do about it.”

“I’m better with animals,” Fluttershy admitted. “But I can read ponies pretty well, too. I know that if they don’t reconcile soon, this might leave lasting scars.”

“Do you think I should try and intervene?” Twilight asked.

Fluttershy’s mouth twisted, as though she were thinking. “I . . . don’t know . . . Applejack’s too proud to say anything at this point . . . and Mac’s not exactly a big talker. Maybe you should. It’s better than doing nothing.”

Twilight turned her attention back to the two siblings. Sighing, she set her drink on a small table beside her and stood.

She cleared her throat. “Um, guys?”

“Yes?”

“Mm?”

“Is there anything you . . . wanna discuss?” she continued.

“Yeah, c’mon guys,” said Pinkie Pie, suddenly appearing at Twilight’s shoulder. “It’s Hearth's Warming Day! We’re supposed to be merry and all that. Not angry and sad. That’s for some other day.”

Applejack glanced over. She was sitting on the side of the couch further away, while Big Mac was closer to Twilight and the others. “There ain’t much to discuss. ‘Specially since Mac’s been avoiding me for days on end and only showed up here because Twilight invited him. I think it’s mighty clear he ain’t up for discussin’ anythin’.”

“AJ,” Mac said, his deep voice soft. “Ya know that ain’t true.”

Applejack wheeled around to face him, her face contorted in anger. “How could ya do this to the family? To me? Ya lied, Mac. I thought you were away doin’ work for Braeburn, an’ then it turns out ya’ve gone an’ joined up with the military! And ya’ve been gone ever since I found out. I didn’t even know ya were back til ya showed up here!”

Twilight bit her lip, glancing nervously around the room. She had hoped this would be a little talk that could be resolved without making a scene at the party, but apparently that just wouldn’t do. She looked to see how the others were responding.

Spike was frozen; peering in from the main area, a pile of books that he had been about to put back were stacked in his claws and his eyes were wide and glued to the scene. Shining Armor stood near him, arms folded a looking strangely uncomfortable. Rarity was standing by the fireplace had a glass of cider in one hand and had her slightly agape mouth covered with the other, staring as well. Sweetie Belle stood beside her, clutching Rarity's upper arm and looking on in an almost frightened manner. Fluttershy was still leaning over the chair Twilight had vacated, one fist in her mouth. Her wings were rigid and held just beyond her back. Pinkie Pie still stood beside Silvia; her mouth hung in an uncharacteristic frown. Apple Bloom was seated on her knees next to the couch on Mac’s side, her head resting on her arms, staring blankly at Applejack. Rainbow Dash was leaning against the entry way, staring almost expectantly at Applejack, while Scootaloo sat on the step down into the living room, her knees held close to her chest.

It was certainly too late to stop a scene being created, but perhaps that was a good thing. Things could be worked out here and now with the pressure of many onlookers.

“Uh,” Twilight started, casting about for some way to continue the conversation. “Clearly there’s some issues going on here . . . What – uh – what better time to take care of them than now?”

“Yeah, c’mon guys,” Apple Bloom said, giving both of them big puppy-dog eyes. “I don’t like it when you’re fightin’.”

Mac looked between her and Applejack, who had once again turned away from him, her arms folded tightly across her chest.

“AJ?”

“Fine,” she muttered. “I’ll give ya your shot.”

Twilight let out a small breath. This was a start at least. She glanced around the room. Rarity was probably the best with delicate situations like this. Catching her eye, she raised her eyebrows and jerked her head toward the couch. Taking the hint, she quickly swept over to the couch and sat in between Applejack and Big Mac. Glancing back and forth, she haphazardly smoothed the folds in her long blue dress.

“So,” she said. “Applejack, I believe you have already aired your grievances. Big Macintosh . . . what is your side of the story?”

Mac, who was hunched over slightly, staring at the floor, looked up at her. “I’m the oldest. I need to do what I think is right to protect my family. Right now, that meant joinin’ up with the REA. I can tell these are strange times. Dangerous times. We don’t know everythin’ about the world. I need to know that I can protect those close to me, an’ if that means becomin’ a soldier, then so be it.

"Mac," Applejack said, still not looking at him, "I can understand that you wanted to try an' do somethin' to protect us. But soldierin'? Is this some kinda boyhood flight of fancy? Not enough adventure in your life?"

"How can you think that?" Mac shot back. "The job ain't no cake walk. I'm no fool. I know there's plenty 'a risk involved. I've already seen just how ugly things can get! But if this is what I have to do to make sure you 'an Apple Bloom 'an Granny never have to experience it, then I'd do it ten times over!"

"But you lied about it!" Applejack said.

Mac fell silent for a moment. When he spoke again, his voice was much quieter. "I . . . I know I shouldn’t have lied to ya, but . . . well, I was scared you’d think I was abandoning ya for some other cause. But that I ain’t true. I did what I did to stay true to the only cause that means anythin’ to me: my family. I hope ya can at least forgive me for that.”

Twilight found herself somewhat stunned; that was the longest she’d ever heard Mac speak in one sitting. Applejack had looked up. Almost all the traces of anger had left her face. She looked at Mac, mouth slightly open. He looked back.

“That,” interrupted a loud voice next to Twilight’s ear, causing her to jump, “was so sweet!”

Pinkie Pie leaned on her for support, her eyes flooded with tears.

“P-Pinkie!” she protested, stumbling a bit. “Now’s not the time!”

“Mac,” Applejack said, ignoring Pinkie Pie’s outburst, “I ain't gonna pretend that I’m not still mad at ya. But . . . I do understand why ya did what ya did. Though, in your shoes, I don’t think I’d do the same. You’re consistently in danger now, an’ I don’t like it. I know I’ve been in some situations in the past, but not voluntarily and not all the time.”

“I know,” Big Mac said, glancing away. “But I . . . I just felt like I had to do somethin’.If somethin’ is placing everyone here in danger, I wanna help fight it.”

Applejack sighed and shook her head ruefully. “I know, I know. But just ‘cause there’s a fire, it doesn’t mean ya gotta run towards it.”

A slow smile spread across Mac’s face. “Well . . . I always was a slow learner.”

“Ya big idiot.”

Next thing Twilight knew, both siblings had stood and embraced one another. They stood there for a long moment, not speaking, not moving.

“Ahhh . . .” Pinkie Pie sighed wistfully. “A true Hearth's Warming moment.”

Applejack pulled away, frowning a little. “This don’t mean you ain’t on thin ice. No more lyin’. I won’t stand for it,” she warned Mac.

“Yes, ma’am,” Mac said. Silvia noticed his tail flick slightly, almost as though he were nervous.

“Can we exchange presents now?” Apple Bloom asked.

“Sure thing, sugar cube,” Applejack laughed. “Let’s get back to business.”

_ _ _

Under the cover of darkness, Andrew watched the picturesque scene unfold inside the library. His visor was mere inches from the glass as he watched the twelve Equestrians exchange gifts, laugh, and smile warmly at each other.

Delta-seven had been pulled out of the Crystal Empire only yesterday, having raided a total of twenty different hostage locations in three days. As far as he knew, the city was mostly retaken, but several UNSC and REA squads – including White Team – were sweeping the city, rooting out the last few pockets of resistance.

When Andrew had flown them back to friendly territory, Big Mac had requested to be dropped off in this town. Andrew, being curious, had decided to follow him. That led him to this library – or house – built into a large tree near the center of town. He’d stood there, just watching, for the last hour or so. He’d seen and heard the whole exchange between Mac and his sister, Applejack. He recognized everyone in the room, as they were all considered citizens of note and had files in the UNSC database. He’d even started a few of those files himself a few weeks ago at that gala.

Just then, standing there, looking in through the window as the snow fell on and around him, Andrew felt something he hadn’t for as long as he could remember.

He felt lonely.

Author's Note:

Here's a little character-building/pause in the action. Next chapter, the UNSC and REA assault the Covenant Corvette!