• Published 22nd Dec 2019
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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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3- Just Getting Started

3

November 26th, 2551

Canterlot, Equestria, Equis

Two Pelican dropships alighted before the front gates of the royal city. The ‘Princess Celestia’ had taken Li, Staff Sergeant Stacker, the marines, and the girls they had met to the city that surrounded the royal palace, where they had all stayed the night. It was very strange to say the least. Li didn’t think he had ever stayed in a nicer place in all his time in the UNSC. Comfort was something a soldier knew little of.

Overnight, Vice Admiral Whitcomb had made contact with another UNSC ship that was relatively close and had decided to wait until they showed up to make an appearance and open negotiations. Now that they were here, things could get underway.

The two Pelicans landed. Out of one stepped Whitcomb and a pair of marines. Out of the other stepped three SPARTANs, all with two orange stripes on their biceps. On their chest plates, Li could make out the bold white numbers that distinguished them. 018, 043, and 137. His team.

As the group approached, SPARTAN-137 – Carris – raised one hand in front of her visor and extended two fingers. It was the SPARTAN gesture for ‘smile.’ As they drew even with Li and the others, SPARTAN-043 – Will – clapped Li on the shoulder.

“Glad to see you’re still alive,” he said. “We weren’t sure what happened after we got separated at Concord.”

“I had to board the Pony Express or I would’ve been overrun,” Li explained. “When we were in space, we executed a random jump and found ourselves here by accident.”

“Well, the jump seems to have paid off,” remarked SPARTAN-018 – Kirk. "We did the same. Ended up in empty space not too far from here."

“Your Majesty.”

Li turned and saw Vice Admiral Whitcomb giving the princess a sharp bow. Evidently, he had been told of the land’s customs. Behind him, both marines gave quick salutes.

“Vice Admiral.” Just behind Celestia, flanking her, was Twilight Sparkle and another tall woman. She was just an inch or two shorter than Celestia, and darker in almost every aspect. While Regalia’s hair was filled with different, light colors, the other woman’s was a deep, sparkling blue. While Celestia's fur was white, the other woman's was dark. While Celestia maintained a kind, open expression, the other woman did not smile and kept her eyes fixed on either the SPARTANs or Danforth at all times, as though she were sizing them up.

Li had yet to be introduced to her, but he already respected her. Analyzing possible opponents was always better than gearing up and starting a fight right off the bat, like Celestia had. He understood that the situation had been confusing and that she was only trying to protect her people, but all the same, he had ended up having to best eight soldiers in order to get her to listen to them. In his book, that didn’t necessarily bode well to negotiations.

He hoped he was wrong.

“Did you recover the body of the marine in the woods?” Li asked.

Kirk nodded. “Just before we flew over. The Pelican is taking him back to the Pony Express now.”

Meanwhile, introductions were being made.

“I take it you’ve met Staff Sergeant Stacker and Spartan zero-zero-eight already,” Danforth said. “I’ve brought with me three more Spartans; zero-one-eight, zero-four-three, and one-three-seven. Together, they’re called Spartan Orange Team. They were separated on our last assignment and I thought it best to bring them back together before too long.”

“Understandable,” Celestia nodded. “I must admit, these Spartans are rather impressive. I’ve never met anyone taller than myself before.” She gestured to Twilight and the other woman behind her. “This is Twilight Sparkle, my finest pupil. And this is my sister, Princess Luna. She and I are the rulers of Equestria - the land on which you now stand.”

“Good to meet both of you.” Danforth gave two more bows before straightening and looking back up at Celestia. “Shall we get to negotiations then? Is there some place you have in mind where we should conduct them?”

“The Royal Palace will do. On the way there through the city we can fill each other in on our respective peoples. I do have some questions, and I imagine you do as well.”

“Yes, ma’am. I do. Lead the way.”

Celestia snapped her fingers and the gates to the city behind her began to slowly open. Li could see soldiers resplendent in golden armor opening the entrance using a crank. Other soldiers were waiting, presumably to escort the group to the castle. They were all unarmed, as was Li and the other UNSC soldiers, as per orders from Danforth and requests from Celestia.

That was fine. Li had already demonstrated that he could take on an entire squad of Equestrian soldiers in unarmed combat. Four SPARTANs could probably take on an army and come out without a scratch.

“Follow me, please," Celestia said, walking back past the city walls.

A few guards detached from the lineup to escort her, and everyone standing outside the gate followed suit – Twilight, her friends, Princess Luna, Stacker, Whitcomb, the Spartans, and the two marines.

Li glanced around at the tall, elegantly carved buildings all around them. This certainly was an affluent area. Everything was made of some solid white material that might have been marble or something like it, with some buildings even having a gold trim. Every now and then he would catch someone in a window staring out at them, and passers by on the street gawked as they walked by. They certainly were making an entrance.

He and the other members of Orange Team fell into step behind the Vice Admiral and the princesses, still able to hear their conversation.

“Why don’t you start?” Whitcomb asked, clasping his hands behind his back and striding forth in a typical military step. “This is your host planet, after all.”

“I suppose that’s fair,” Celestia nodded, thinking. “Equis is home to many creatures, both light and dark. There are us, the griffin clans, the changelings, the dragons, and many more. Most other species respect the ruling of my sister and I. Equestrians have also evolved to have different strengths as well. Normal citizens are generally physically strong, Unicorns have the ability to tap into Magic and cast spells, and Pegasi have wings on their backs that allow them to fly. Some, such as my sister and I, are Alicorns, having both wings and horns, though that only happens to the royal bloodline or by special means.”

“Interesting,” Whitcomb said. “Why is it that you describe your species in, er, horse terminology?"

"Horse?"

"Nevermind. Humans aren’t anything like that. No wings, no . . . uh . . . magic . . . and anyone can be weak or strong. I guess you could say we use technology to compensate for that. We’re advanced enough to have the ability to make ships able to travel through space.”

Off to Li’s right, he saw Kirk give an almost imperceptible flick of his index finger by his helmet. He recognized it instantly as the SPARTAN’s signal to switch to a private communications channel. All the SPARTANs' helmets were sealed, so each had the ability to turn off the external speakers in their helmets and communicate exclusively to others over the radios in their helmets. Li switched off his own speakers and joined his team’s personal voice channel.

Kirk’s voice came in over Li’s helmet comm. “What’s your take on these people, Li?”

“They seem more normal of an alien species than I would’ve guessed,” Li admitted. “One of the girls, Rarity, healed a marine’s broken arm just by touching it for a few seconds. It was strange to watch.”

“Look at the people,” Carris said, nodding to those who were passing them on the streets. “They’re staring.”

“Wouldn’t you?” Will asked. “I certainly am. I’ve never seen anything like this before. At least not until after its been ruined by plasma, explosions, and Covenant.”

Li glanced around. Indeed, it seemed as though anyone currently on the street had stopped and was simply staring at the procession, open mouthed. Some looked on in awe, others in fear. Li saw a few small children cowering behind their mother. Well, public relations were off to a good start.

The group rounded a corner and Li could immediately see their destination.

“Damn,” Kirk remarked, looking up.

The palace clung to the side of the mountain further than the rest of the city, its white towers nearly grazing the snowy peak. It was some of the finest architecture Li had ever seen, and he’d been to human planets all over the galaxy. The sprawling structure must’ve been able to hold hundreds of residents.

“This,” Celestia said, looking over her shoulder at everyone as they passed through a second gate onto the palace grounds, “it the Royal Palace. I believe it would be best to hold our negotiations in the throne room. Come along.”

The group passed down a stone path leading through a finely trimmed garden. On either side, Li saw blooming flowers and verger, as well as hedges taller than himself and some that were even sculpted into various shapes. He recognized various birds, griffins, and a few soldiers holding spears. There were even a few shapes Li couldn’t identify.

At the end of the path, they climbed a short flight of stone steps and ended up in front of a pair of grand double doors. After a second, the doors opened, pulled by a pair of guards from the inside, and admitted the group into the entrance hall. Li didn’t have time to look around before they were shepherded through a series of long passages. Eventually, they ended up in a long room with the ceiling high above their heads. Every ten feet or so, marble pillars flanked a pristine red carpet, leading all the way down to the end of the room, where two elegant thrones sat. Thin, floor-to-ceiling windows also lined the wall, letting an impressive amount of sunlight into the room.

The group crossed to the end of the room and the two queens ascended a small platform before sitting upon the two thrones. Celestia on the right, Luna on the left. Li and the other humans lined up in front of the thrones, and the other Equestrians assembled around the two princesses.

“So,” Vice Admiral Whitcomb said. “Where do we start?”

Princess Luna, who had been silent until that point, leaned forward in her seat. “We would very much like to know why a military outfit was the one to find our planet, if – as you say – you are peaceful and only found us on accident.”

Stacker and Whitcomb shared a quick glance. Li could tell that this was a subject that they had wanted to avoid discussing until the last possible second. But that second was now.

“Have any of you ever heard of ‘the Covenant?’” Danforth asked.

Both princesses shook their heads, as did the other Equestrians. Celestia steepled her fingers and placed her chin against them.

“The Covenant is a collective of alien species looking to spread their religion and control across the entire galaxy. Twenty-six years ago, they offered humanity the chance to join. We said no.”

“Is that why your military is exploring the stars?” Celestia asked. “You’re being defensive because these alien races scared you?”

“Scared?” Stacker scoffed. “We’re damn right to be scared. When we turned the bastards down – pardon my language – and they declared war on us right then and there. Nothing would make them happier than to see all of humanity exterminated. And they’re pretty good at it too. They’ve destroyed entire worlds full of people. Killed millions. Probably more.”

“Oh my.” Rarity covered her mouth with one hand.

“So you are at war,” Luna said, leaning back in her throne, a look of what seemed to be satisfaction on her face. “And if we join you, we will be sucked into it.”

“All due respect, your highness,” Vice Admiral Whitcomb said, stepping forward. “The Covenant is searching for worlds that humans inhabit. If they find this world and discover you and decide you're just as much of an affront to their religion as us, they will try to destroy you. And if they defeat us and have even more control over the galaxy, you will have no chance of fighting back.

“The Covenant is looking to destroy any race that stands up to them. And if you do not want to be ruled by someone other than yourselves, then you will want to resist them too. You’re already in the war. Right now, they do not know your planet exists; your safe. But that might change in the future. We can help each other.”

“How do you believe you can help us?” Celestia questioned.

Under his visor, Li frowned. He knew that the two princesses were questioning them because they wanted to make the best decision for their people, but it was frustrating that they were hesitant to ally with them against the Covenant. They had no idea what they could potentially be up against.

Whitcomb, however, kept his cool. “We have space-faring technology. We can help advance your civilization at a faster rate than you would reach normally. We can offer you greater protection and help bolstering your own military as well as our own. If trade and economic relations work out, both our economies will rise.”

“Uh, your highnesses,” Twilight interjected. “If I may . . .”

“Certainly, Miss Sparkle,” Celestia allowed. “Your council is always welcome.”

“I think we should ally with them,” the girl said. Behind her, Li saw one of the two pegasi - a girl with rainbow colored hair and light blue fur - roll her eyes. “They seem willing to be peaceful with us, and if what they are saying is true, we’ll need all the help we can get.”

There was silence for a long moment. The two rulers shared a look between them. It seemed as though each was silently asking the other to make a decision. After what seemed like an age, Princess Luna was the one to speak.

“We accept your willingness to ally.”

Li thought he saw some small amount of tension leave Vice Admiral Whitcomb’s shoulders.

“Excellent,” he said. “What should we continue to discuss?”

“I believe those are matters we can discuss privately,” Celestia said. “I do not believe we must take up everyone’s time with dull affairs like negotiation. Perhaps my student and her friends may take your sergeant and Spartans on a tour of our capital city. Your guards and mine may stand at the doors while we discuss things.”

Li glanced at his squad. It would be a good way to learn about this new culture and planet that they had seemingly just allied themselves with, not that they would necessarily see much of it given that there was a war to fight elsewhere.

“Yes, ma’am,” Whitcomb said, turning to address Li’s team. “Consider this leave time, soldiers. Let the ladies escort you around the city. Pick up a few things while you’re here. I’ll radio when negotiations have concluded.” He then rounded on Sergeant Stacker. “Staff Sergeant; you head back to the ship and start getting things squared away with the brass. I bet some of our people will want to visit this planet sooner rather than later.”

Each soldier saluted. “Yes, sir,” they chorused in one voice.

“Alright then,” Twilight muttered, stepping forward. “Uh, follow me then, I suppose.”

She began walking back out of the throne room, her friends in tow. Li and the others followed close behind, though the two marines Danforth had brought only tailed them to the doors before stopping and taking up position on either side of it as guards. Two Equestrian guards did the same.

As Li stepped out of the throne room and the doors swung shut behind him, his helmet picked up the first words Celestia said to Whitcomb.

“So, what exactly are those ‘Spartans?’”

_ _ _

Kirk-018 stared out through the visor of his base MJOLNIR Mark IV Operator helmet, almost unable to believe what he was seeing. This city truly was like nothing he nor any of the other SPARTANs had experienced before. Perhaps only Emerald Cove had been this picturesque. But it had been years since he had last seen that place and this was here and now.

Kirk, and his team followed the six girls back off the palace grounds and into the main city.

The girl, Twilight, turned and regarded everyone. “Okay, um, everyone. This is . . . the city center –”

“Come on, Twilight!” interrupted one of the other girls, this one with a dark pink mane and a stocky build. “You’re going to bore everyone to death. Here, let me take over!”

“Okay. Sure, Pinkie.” Twilight's shoulders relaxed noticeably, and she let the other girl, Pinkie, take her spot as she stepped back towards her friends.

“Hello, everyone!” The girl practically bounced as she spoke. “I’m Pinkie Pie: your new tour guide! I get that most of you are new here, but don’t you worry; I’m gonna make you all right at home here in our capital city. Just follow me and we’ll get started.”

Kirk exchanged a sidelong look with Will as the group followed Olivia into the square outside of the palace. Though he couldn’t see the other man’s expression behind his Grenadier helmet, he knew he was grinning.

“This’ll be an interesting trip,” he quipped.

“Should we really be parading ourselves in front of everyone in the city?” Carris asked of the group at large. “Won’t people get nervous? They’ve already seen us once and everyone looked scared.”

“I’m sure people will come around once the princesses formally introduce you and everything,” Pinkie Pie said. “Most people just get nervous around new things; and you all certainly stand out as ‘new.’ Oh; no offense.”

Kirk waved off her apology. “Non taken, ma’am.”

He glanced around at the buildings all around them, noting the stares they were attracting from both passersby and those peeking out from windows or doorways. He felt a sudden urge to itch his back. He tightened his fists in order to keep himself from trying to reach up, even though he knew he wouldn’t be able to scratch himself through the armor.

When Kirk was fourteen, he and all the other SPARTAN trainees underwent numerous medical procedures in order to enhance their physical and mental abilities. Kirk was one of the twelve trainees that ‘washed out.’ The procedures had left him floating inert in a gel buoyancy tank, his bone structure damaged beyond belief. He would’ve spent the rest of his life like that tank if not for cutting edge medical treatments developed by Dr. Catherine Halsey that reversed the negative affects of the program and allowed him to return to active duty, along with some of the other injured SPARTAN trainees.

That didn’t mean there weren’t lingering side-effects, though. His bones ached at night sometimes, and the scars that crisscrossed his body prickled and itched often. The itch always seemed come up in tense situations, and the feeling was so intense that despite Kirk’s discipline, it was always a struggle not to give in.

“You know,” Will said, “it’s kinda funny that we were all a secret to the rest of the galaxy for years, but as soon as we come to this new world, everyone on the planet is gonna know about us.”

“That reminds me,” Twilight said, turning and regarding the four SPARTANs as they walked. “What exactly are you all? You don’t look like the other humans. Are you different?”

“That’s putting it mildly,” Will remarked. He glanced over at Kirk.

Will was a talker; a fairly unusual trait among SPARTANs. Kirk knew he was being looked to in order to decide could and couldn’t be said. Given that they were interacting with an entirely new race of people, He wasn’t sure where the line of red tape should be drawn. They could at least tell them what the human public knew; they’d probably be told that much soon enough anyway.

He nodded.

“Well, if we’re going to get into that, we should probably find a place to sit down,” Carris said, looking around the market square they had just arrived in. All around them were stores, restaurants, and other business bustling with people. Eating, buying, talking, and generally just going about their daily lives.

“Ooh! I know just the place,” Pinkie Pie piped up, pointing across the street a way. “There’s a bakery just over there with outdoor seating. C’mon let’s go!”

With that, she darted across the square. By the time Kirk and the others caught up with her, she was already arranging the iron tables and chairs so that everyone had a seat available and they were all sitting in a circle. The girls sat down.

“Well, do have a seat,” Rarity told the SPARTANs, none of whom had made a move to sit.

They all shared glances.

“We’re too heavy for the seats,” Li said. “The armor weighs almost a ton.”

“Oh my.”

“Hold on a second,” Twilight said. She knitted her eyebrows together and pointed a hand toward one of the chairs. Her horn glowed purple and a similarly colored mist flowed from her fingertips, causing the chair to glow for a moment. “There. That chair should hold your weight now.”

Tentatively, Will lowered himself into the modified chair. It was a tight fit, and Kirk could hear the chair creaking as the SPARTAN put his full weight on it, but nothing happened. Twilight cast the same spell on the three remaining chairs and Kirk, Li, and Carris all took their seats.

“Hello, may I take you ord . . .” Kirk looked up to see a young Unicorn waiter had approached them. He had trailed off as he took in the sight of the four hulking soldiers sitting at the table as well. He paled slightly.

“Oh, yes,” Pinkie Pie said, grabbing the boy’s attention. “We’ll take a coffee for each of us, and a dozen of whatever is on the menu today; surprise me!”

“Y-yes miss,” the boy scribbled on his notepad and quickly retreated into the bakery, looking as though he were about to break into a sweat.

Kirk peered in through the floor to ceiling windows to the interior of the building and saw that many of the patrons – sitting at tables, waiting in line, standing around – had all stopped to stare out at them. He didn’t like attracting this much attention, but what else was there to do? Vice Admiral Whitcomb had told them to head into the city, so here they were.

“So,” Twilight said, leaning forward, “what exactly are you all? And tell us more about this ‘Covenant’ that you’ve been fighting for so long.”

“Well,” Kirk reached up and popped the seals on his helmet, before removing it and setting it on the table. “We’re human, for a start.”

He saw a look of shock pass over all the girl’s faces, perhaps from the numerous scars that lined his pale face, particularly around his jaw, eyes, and nose, where most of the bone reorganization had been done.

Following his example, Li, Will, and Carris removed their helmets as well. Each had a few marks and scars of their own, though none had as many as Kirk.

“If ya’ll are just like other humans, what’s with the armor an’ height an’ all that?” asked the blonde girl with what sounded like a Southern American accent, Applejack.

“We’re genetically enhanced,” Carris explained, her own blonde hair falling from the confines of her CQC helmet to frame her green eyes. Kirk watched her gesture to herself and her squad mates; always one to speak expressively with her hands. “We were put into a special program, trained, and then modified through surgery and other procedures so that we could fight greater threats to humanity. We didn’t expect the Covenant, but now we’re the best hope of stopping them from destroying us.”

“What procedures are you talking about?” Twilight asked.

“That’s classified,” Li said, his lips pressed tight and his narrow eyes stern.

"Classified? Why?" Demanded the Pegasus with rainbow colored hair, looking suspicious.

“Suffice to say were stronger, taller, faster, and more tactically brilliant than any of you will ever be,” Will said with a wink, deflecting the girl's question.

“Hmph.” she scowled, not looking at them. Kirk could tell that she was representative of whatever percent of the population wasn’t going to welcome the humans with open arms. For whatever reason, she distrusted them, and it was going to be hard to change her mind.

“How many of you were, uh, created?” Twilight asked, frowning at her word choice.

“Thirty-three.” Kirk neglected to mention the other thirty that had been outright killed by the surgeries, as well as the twelve that had been ‘permanently’ crippled. He knew that he and a few others had been saved, but he didn’t know for sure how many.

“You’ve been at war for a long time. How many of you are alive?”

SPARTANs didn’t die. They just went missing in action.

“That’s classified.”

Author's Note:

It's Christmas Eve and I'm feeling generous, so you get a new chapter. I hope I'm not boring anyone - this is meant to be more of a slow burn type story. If you know Halo, you know there will be plenty of death and destruction in 2552. Don't worry, it's not going to take that long for things to get violent, but things do need to build for a bit first.