• Published 22nd Dec 2019
  • 1,735 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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7- Rally Point

7

December 19th, 2551

Throne room of Royal Palace, Canterlot, Equis

“What,” said Princess Celestia, staring down from her throne at the hologram before her, “is that?”

Applejack stared nervously at the purple-tinged image intently, doing her best to burn it permanently into her memory.

“That,” said the blue, incorporeal form of Terrance Hood, the Vice Admiral of the UNSC, “is a Covenant battleship. A Corvette, to be exact.”

“What is it doing here?” demanded Princess Luna. “We thought you said they had no way of finding us?”

“Ma’am,” said one of the seven SPARTAN-IIs assembled in the room, “with all due respect, we never said they couldn’t find you. We said that if they did, we would do our best to help you save your planet. That’s exactly what we plan on doing.” There was almost no inflection in his voice, other than a calm sense of certainty.

Applejack saw the princess tense for a moment, and for a moment she thought the taller mare would stand and use her Magic on the soldier. Princess Celestia laid a hand on her sister’s shoulder and the look of anger faded from her eyes.

“What exactly should we do?” Twilight asked, twisting her hair.

The mare looked like a wreck. There were dark circles under her violet eyes and her normally straight black and violet-streaked mane stuck out in odd angles. Applejack had seen her like this only a few times before, and each time was when she had been obsessing over something that consumed every moment of her waking hours. Ever since she and Spike had returned from their trip to space, Twilight had been constantly fretting. It was only now that this meeting had been called that Applejack understood why.

In the room were the two princesses, Applejack, Twilight, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Spike, the seven SPARTANs, and an older human woman in a lab coat. Those present in hologram form included Vice Admiral Hood and a couple other UNSC officers that Applejack didn’t know the names of.

“We don’t have the force to take out a whole Covenant Corvette,” offered one of the officers. “Even with seven Spartans, it would be too much for the small amount of troops we have on Equis.”

“How is the Royal Army shaping up?” asked another figure, an elderly woman in what seemed to be a dark uniform.

“We have enough sign-ups to form two battalions as of now,” Princess Luna informed the room. “We have only been recruiting from Canterlot, Ponyville, Appaloosa, and Fillydelphia. Once we open up registration to the rest of the country, we hope volunteers will skyrocket.”

“What about equipment?” asked the same SPARTAN that had spoken before. He had a visor that took up most of his faceplate, and on the forehead area of his helmet there was what looked like something to augment vision. There were two gold stripes on each bicep, and the number 029 on his chest.

“We have sufficient equipment to arm our forces.”

“Space ships?”

“As of now,” Princess Luna said, “there are two Defender-class vessels, a Regenerators, a Transport, and enough of your Longswords and Pelicans to stock each Defender.”

"That was fast," remarked 029.

"Yes, well, Magic has sped up your construction process nicely," Princess Luna explained.

“That . . . could be enough,” Hood mused, one hand stroking his chin. “But it would be foolish to send barely trained soldiers against a Covenant ship. It may be at least a week before troops from our section of space can make it to Equis.”

“A week?” Applejack interjected. “We can’t ‘jus sit here in the meantime! If this thing is as dangerous as y’all say, we gotta act!”

“I’m afraid that young Applejack is correct,” Princess Celestia said. “If death is on our doorstep, then we must be proactive.”

“Maybe we don’t have to yet,” said a different SPARTAN. This one wore a helmet with a rectangular visor and had some sort of short antennae on its right side. There were two white stripes on each bicep and his chest was labeled with the number 039.

All eyes, including Applejack's were trained on him.

“Explain, Spartan,” said the old woman.

“The Corvette has been there for the last four days,” explained SPARTAN-039. “Maybe longer. Nothing has happened. It’s just sitting there. They have to know that we’re here, but they might not know about you Equestrians. If they ran into this planet by accident the same way as we did, they might be conducting recon to determine how best to proceed. That might buy us time to get organized.”

“Yes, but what if they transmit our location to the rest of their army?” Princess Celestia asked.

“Can we jam their ship’s communications without them realizing?” asked Lord Hood.

“We don’t have that kind of technology –” started the hologram of the old woman.

“Actually, I think we might,” interrupted the woman in the lab coat standing beside the SPARTANs.

“Have you come up with some new miracle technology to save us all, Dr. Halsey?”

The woman in the lab coat, Halsey, stepped forward. She was thin, with straight, chin-length gray hair and eyes that roamed the room, taking in every detail.

“Not necessarily,” she said, her voice slow and measured. “I suggest we simply augment our existing equipment with Equestrian Magic.”

“Technology and Magic?” asked Princess Luna, leaning forward in her throne. “Together as one?”

“An interesting concept,” Princess Celestia mused.

Applejack had to agree with her. All this human ‘technology’ mumbo jumbo was a bit much for her to wrap her head around. Hell, even the Unicorns’ Magic was hard for her to comprehend sometimes. She was a simple farm mare. She understood seasons, weather, how to take care of animals, when the time was right to pick apples. Not Magic. Certainly not technology.

“Would such a thing be possible?”

Applejack instinctively turned her eyes to Twilight. Whenever anyone had a question about Magic, they’d turn to her for answers. Which seemed to be exactly what was happening now. All eyes in the room were now trained on the young Unicorn.

“Uh . . .” Twilight seemed to cast around for a moment, as though searching for the right answer, “Possibly . . . All this technology stuff is too new for me or, well, anyone to properly form an opinion or even test how well those two things will go together.”

“I have a few theories,” said Dr. Halsey. “Perhaps we could work together.”

“By all means,” nodded Princess Celestia. “If you believe you may be able to put together some new strategy to save our home, please do so. You have no objections, Twilight?”

“N-no. Of course not.”

Applejack glanced over at her friend. Twilight might not be voicing her concerns, but she clearly had some. She was twisting her mane again and glancing at Dr. Halsey as though she was afraid that the older woman would turn into a Changeling and attack her at any moment. Maybe she was intimidated by Halsey’s commanding presence. Or maybe she was scared that the human would prove to be a better scientist than her. Twilight was one hell of a perfectionist, and Applejack knew that she liked to be the best at whatever she did.

“We should start scouring the planet for any Covenant activity,” Lord Hood said. “Just because there aren’t more ships doesn’t mean that they haven’t already started invading.”

“An invasion?” Rarity gasped. “Oh my goodness!”

“Shh!” Applejack said. She wanted to hear more. An invasion meant an attack on everything she knew in life, and she wanted to hear what they were going to do about it.

“Perhaps,” said one of the UNSC officers Tara didn’t recognize, “we should keep Spartan teams on the planet to help. At least until the danger has passed.”

“That,” said the hologram of the old woman, “would be a gross misallocation of valuable resourc–”

“That may actually be a good idea,” said Lord Hood.

“Wait a minute!” cut in Rainbow Dash. All eyes now turned to her. “We don’t need them here! We can take care of ourselves!”

“Rainbow,” Twilight said, putting a hand on the mare's shoulder, “they just want to help. We don’t know what we’re up against. We might need their help.”

“Don’t you think it’s a bit much that the humans have a consistent military presence on our planet?” Rainbow Dash demanded. “We shouldn’t be relying on them to solve all our problems!”

“Rainbow Dash!” Rarity gasped. “Don’t be so rude!”

“Dashie, what are you talking about?” Pinkie Pie asked, looking uncharacteristically sober.

“Now just whaddaya mean by that?” Applejack demanded. She knew Rainbow Dash didn’t trust the humans and didn’t think they should be such close allies, but to deny help when their world could be on the brink of destruction? That was just crazy.

Rainbow Dash rounded on them. There wasn’t a single trace of doubt or remorse in her face. “You guys seriously, don’t think it’s crazy how quickly these humans have inserted themselves into our lives? Why are we giving them so much trust?”

Lord Hood’s hologram shifted so that it projected closer to Rainbow Dash. “Miss Dash,” he said, “to an extent, I understand your distrust. In your shoes, I suppose I might be feeling some what you are right now. But you have to believe us. We need allies. Now that the Covenant are here, you need allies as well. We have no choice but to trust each other.”

“How do we know you didn’t lead them to our planet when you found us?” Rainbow Dash demanded, pushing back.

Hood glanced around at the other holograms, then looked Dash directly in the eyes. “In all honesty, there’s no way of knowing if we led them to you or not. If we did, then we want to help you to make things right. If we didn’t, then we still want to help you in order to ensure your survival. It’s as simple as that.”

“That doesn’t sound very simple.”

“Ultimately,” interrupted Twilight , stepping between Rainbow Dash and Lord Hood, “it’s the princesses’ decision to make. Your majesties?”

Applejack looked up towards the thrones. Princess Celestia looked as calm as ever, as though she understood all sides of the dilemma and was willing to do whatever she believed to be right. Her sister, on the other hand, looked somewhat more conflicted. Princess Luna was leaning over her crossed legs, one hand holding her chin. Her head was turned away from the conversation, as though she was thinking of something very far away.

“The humans will remain our allies,” Princess Celestia decreed. “Admiral Hood is correct. If they did not lead these enemies to us, then they are simply holding up their end of our partnership. If they did lead them to us, then they will be making amends for their mistake by assisting us in defending our world. Do you agree, sister?”

Princess Luna took a moment to answer. She blinked a few times and glanced at Rainbow Dash. Then at her sister. “Yes,” she said finally, not looking at anyone in particular. “Yes. The humans will stay. We will face this threat as one.”

“It has been decided then,” Princess Celestia decreed. She glanced at Lord Hood. “Which Spartans did you have in mind, Admiral?”

“Perhaps two teams could be assigned to your planet for the moment,” Hood said. “Both teams would be completely at your disposal. Both Spartan teams White and Gold are already there. They should both be enough to suit your needs and deploy how you see fit. We'll see how that works, and then decide if further resources need to be pulled in.”

Applejack glanced at the SPARTANs that were assembled. White team must mean the SPARTANs with two white stripes on each bicep. She studied the numbers on their chests. 039, 030, 047, and 122. The SPARTANs with gold bands on each arm were numbered 029, 010, and 093.

“Good,” Princess Celestia said. “Now that that is settled –”

The sound of the doors at the other end of the hall opening and running feet drew everyone’s attention. Applejack peered over Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy to see three Equestrians dressed in odd uniforms running toward the throne. Each soldier wore a light brown uniform with dull gold battle armor strapped over various vital parts of their bodies. The lead soldier, a Pegasus, had armor over the bones of her wings.

Each soldier wore a different helmet, though they were all the same dull gold as the body armor. One of the soldiers wore a helmet almost identical helmet to those that Queen Regalia’s royal guards normally wore. However, there was a black visor covering only the stallion's eyes and an opening over his forehead that allowed for his horn to poke through.

The Pegasus’ helmet was very minimalist, hugging the skull closely. It looked somewhat like a smaller version of the UNSC marine helmet, with a clear visor again only covering the eyes.

The last soldier’s helmet was the most protective of all. It was the bulkiest helmet; almost all armor, with a black, T-shaped visor masking his entire face. The stallion that wore it was the biggest of the bunch too, with broad shoulders and a stature that made him tower over the other two. He wasn’t as tall as a SPARTAN or the princesses, but he wasn’t far off.

“You’re Majesties,” said the leader, dropping to one knee before the group. The other two followed suit silently.

“Ah,” said Princess Celestia, rising from her throne and stepping forward. “Excellent timing. Everyone, I present to you some of our finest soldiers in our new army. They still have some ways to go in training, but they’re almost ready to be placed in the field. What is it that you have to report, Commander Spitfire?”

“There’s a protest outside the front gates of the palace,” Spitfire informed the room at large.

“A protest?” Rarity asked, looking bewildered. “Good heavens, protest of what?”

Applejack glanced at the SPARTANs. She had a pretty good guess.

“Please, commander,” Princess Luna said, “give us as much detail as you can.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Spitfire nodded. “The three of us were on a patrol around the palace – we’ve been doing that lately to show off our new gear to the public. Anyway, one rotation the gates are totally clear. The next time we come around, there’s a crowd of ponies assembled. They’re still out there as far as I know; shouting, waving signs, and who knows what else. They want the humans gone. They’re saying they don’t trust them and this isn’t their home, so they should leave it. Things haven’t gotten violent yet, but I’m not sure how long before that happens.”

“V-violent?” Applejack heard Fluttershy whisper, shocked.

She couldn’t help but agree with the quiet mare. She had never heard of a huge group of ponies gathering to protest outside of the royal palace. There was no precedent for this at all. Maybe they’d underestimated just how uneasy the presence of humans had made some ponies. Unable to help herself, Tara stole a glance back at Rainbow Dash. The rainbow-haired mare’s expression was unreadable. She stood in silence; her eyes narrowed at the three soldiers. Her mouth was a thin line.

“I must go out and see this at once,” Princess Celestia demanded, sweeping forward through the holograms to stand in front of the three Equestrian soldiers.

“If I may, that may not be such a good idea, Your Majesty,” piped up the Unicorn soldier. “We don’t want you to get hurt. These people could be dangerous.”

“You don’t believe that your princess can control those people out there?” asked the hologram of the old woman.

Even through the digital projection, Applejack didn’t like the way that her eyes seemed to glint when she said that. It was as though they showed some sort of hunger that demanded feeding.

“I – I did not say that!” protested the soldier.

“I must go and see my subjects,” Princess Celestia maintained. “Perhaps I can calm the situation.”

There was a moment of hesitation from Commander Spitfire. Applejack could see that she didn’t want to disobey a direct order from her princess, but she also didn’t want to place her in a situation that was potentially dangerous. Eventually, the chain of command won out.

“Yes, Your Majesty.” Spitfire looked down.

All three soldiers rose and turned back toward the other side of the hall. Princess Celestia marched toward the doors, her head held high. Dr. Halsey immediately made to follow her. Out of the corner of her eye, Applejack saw Twilight dart off after the princess. She followed, wanting to see exactly what was going on outside. Behind her, she heard the sound of her other friends trailing behind.

“I believe that will conclude this meeting,” Princess Luna said. “Do keep in contact if any part of the situation changes.”

“Hold on a moment . . . Your Majesty,” came the voice of the old woman. “There’s something I would like to discuss with you.”

Around them, the SPARTANs began to form a semi-circle around the group. Applejack looked up at the SPARTAN closest to her.

“What are y’all doin’ followin’ us?” she asked.

The SPARTAN looked down at her. On their chest was the number 039.

“We’re going to cover you,” said a male voice. “Gold Team is going to protect your queen. We’re going to protect you and the doctor.”

“They’re protesting humans out there,” Rainbow Dash pointed out. “Don’t you think you being there would be a bad thing?”

“Better to inflame the protesters than to have your princess injured or killed, don’t you think?” answered another SPARTAN: 030.

“Oh, come now,” said Rarity. “No one would dare try to harm Princess Celestia. Things like that just don’t happen here.”

“Hmm.”

Applejack just looked straight ahead. Times sure do change.

As soon as the palace’s front doors opened, Applejack's ears were assaulted by a wall of noise as well as the typical cold winds of winter. It was quite a walk from the doors to the front gate, and the crowd sounded as though it was all around her. In the walk from the palace to the gate, the yells and noise from the crowds that had gathered somehow got louder and louder every step they took.

“Open the gates!” Princess Celestia commanded.

“As you wish, Your Majesty.”

Commander Spitfire and the Unicorn soldier moved to carry out her orders, while the third soldier stayed close to Applejack and the others. As the gates opened, Princess Celestia led the tight group out onto a small raised half-circle just on the other side. The three SPARTANs of Gold Team stayed close behind her.

Applejack studied them.

029 had his hands curled into fists and stood directly behind the queen. 010’s arms were folded and they were surveying the crowd intently. 093 looked completely relaxed; hands at their sides, head down. Applejack wondered what must be going through their heads as they looked out upon the furious crowd.

Amidst the shouting, she caught a few key phrases.

“This is our world!”

“Why should we trust them? Who are they?”

“They’re a threat to us!”

“We don’t want humans here!”

Applejack saw a few ponies had brought signs bearing similar messages. The overall feeling was clear. No one here wanted humans to stay on Equis.

“My subjects!” called the princess, raising her arms to the crowd. “What is the meaning of all this?”

Despite the noise of the crowd, her voice was still carried so that everyone could hear her words.

Near silence fell, despite a few mutterings. The tension in the air was palpable.

Applejack glanced at her friends. Twilight stood just behind the princess, wringing her hands and shifting from hoof to hoof. For whatever reason, Dr. Halsey had on hand on her shoulder. Rarity was poised in front of the gate, her hands covering her mouth. Fluttershy's hands covered her eyes. Pinkie Pie was bouncing up and down on her hooves, her hands clasped tightly together. Finally, Rainbow Dash’s hands were clasped into fists so tightly that Applejack wasn't sure blood was flowing to all her fingers. She was leaning forward slightly, as though she wanted to move but couldn’t. The lone, towering soldier stood right next to Applejack, neither moving nor speaking.

“We want them gone!” called a lone voice from the crowd. “We want peace! They come with their technology and their weapons and try to change us! It’s not right!”

Applejack's eyes darted around the crowd, searching for the speaker, but she could not locate him.

“And those . . . things!” cried another voice, another person that Applejack could not see. “They’re unnatural!”

She felt – rather than saw – the four SPARTANs of White Team shift around her.

“My subjects,” began Princess Celestia. “You must –”

“I’m sorry, Princess,” called yet another voice. “But it is you who must.”

This time, Applejack could see the speaker. One stallion had somehow raised himself above the crowd. His face couldn’t be seen, as he had placed the helmet of an ERA soldier over his head. Where he had acquired it, Applejack had no idea, but he’d painted it a deep crimson color.

“What do you mean?” Princess Celestia demanded, focusing on the speaker.

“You have invited this unknown group to our planet without a thought as to what we, the ponies wanted,” the man called. “But we will not be ignored any longer. We have taken control of Crystal Empire, and we will not be releasing it, its inheritance, or Princess Cadence until our demands are met.”

There was dead silence. Applejack couldn’t believe her ears. Taken control of the Crystal Empire? By force? Only the Dark Lord Sombra had ever done such a thing, and only with powerful Magic.

“He . . . he can’t be serious,” Fluttershy whispered. “That can’t be happening.”

“Who are you?” asked the Princess, her eyes wide with surprise.

We are the Equian Freedom Society,” the lone stallion said. “And we are intent on keeping Equis free of human interference and corruption.”

“Violence against your fellow citizens will not be tolerated,” Princess Celestia said. “I will not stand for such insanity.”

“Then you stand opposed to our freedoms,” said the stallion. “I am truly sorry, your majesty.”

Another member of the crowd closer to the princess stepped up. He also wore a red royal guard helmet and carried – to Applejack's astonishment – what looked like one of the ‘guns’ that UNSC soldiers carried. Sensing the sudden danger, she took a sudden step back, grabbing onto Fluttershy's and Pinkie Pie's jackets to pull them back with her.

In the amount of time it took to blink, SPARTAN-029 leaped in front of Princess Celestia and grabbed the barrel of the gun, forcefully directing it away from the ruler and high into the air. An explosion that popped Applejack’s ears emanated from the gun, along with a small flash from the end pointing in the air.

Fluttershy cried out and covered her ears. Applejack shushed her and pulled all of them further back.

029 wrenched the gun out of the stallion's hands and swung it like a club, catching him on the side of the helmet and sending him sprawling back into the crowd, which swallowed him up like the mouth of some hungry creature. Ponies were screaming now, and running. Applejack saw others rise out of the crowd, all in red helmets and all carrying UNSC guns.

“Fall back,” ordered 029. “Get everyone behind the gates. Don’t kill anyone.”

“Bodily harm okay?” inquired 030, wrenching a rifle from a mare's hands and kicking her away.

“Do what you have to do.”

Applejack found herself and her friends enclosed by the four SPARTANs of White Team, as well as Commander Spitfire and the largest of the three ERA soldiers. Even though the crowd was thinning so that only those with red helmets remained, it seemed as though they were closing in on them. A sea of red and black was all Tara could see.

Angry voices rose from the throng, spouting the same phrases as before, in addition to some new material.

“Get the Princess!”

“Close in on the gate!”

“They’re getting away!”

The SPARTANs and ERA soldiers had corralled everyone back behind the gate. Spitfire and SPARTAN-029 were hurriedly closing it.

Just when it seemed as though the ordeal was over, a small, round object flew over the doors of the front gate and landed between Applejack and Rarity; just five feet away. She could see the sudden terror in the other mare's eyes, as if she knew something terrible was about to happen

“Grenade!” barked 039.

Applejack didn’t even have a chance to react on her own. Instantly, she was tackled by some huge mass and pushed to the ground. She felt the fur of her face pressed against the frigid snow and tasted the metallic tang of fresh blood in her mouth. She couldn’t even scream.

The noise that followed was so loud that it drove every other thought from her mind. A shock wave of energy didn’t just hit her, it passed through her. She felt raw heat wash over her and a pain so intense in her leg that she cried out even though she couldn’t hear her own voice.

And then it was over. Just like that.

The weight over her lifted. Applejack struggled to get onto her hands and knees, but the pain in her leg was too strong. Grunting she rolled onto her back and looked down. Red blood pumped onto the grass from a large gash in her lower leg. She could see small blackened fragments of metal protruding from her flesh at sharp angles.

She sucked in her breath at the sight of her mangled limb. She wondered how long she’d have to take off the farm in order to recover. Time during which she wouldn’t be able to work for her family. She looked around to see how the others were doing. What had just happened?

Applejack tried to prop herself up and look around, but suddenly on of the SPARTANs was hovering over her, one hand on her shoulder to stop her from rising.

“– back.”

Her hearing must be returning. Slowly.

“What?” she asked, not understanding him. “No, let me up. I gotta check on the others.”

“Lie back,” the SPARTAN ordered in a male voice. Applejack glanced at the chest plate. 122. He wore a helmet with a thin visor and what looked like binoculars on top of his head. “No one’s been injured too bad. Except that ERA Unicorn. He was too close.”

Applejack looked over without raising her head. She could just make out the slumped form of the shorter of the two unnamed ERA soldiers. Blackened and unmoving.

“He’s –”

“Dead,” said 122. “But no one else is. Just lie still; I’m going to try and get some of this stuff out of your leg.”

He held up a small white kit with a red plus on it.

“What’s your name?” Applejack asked, struck by sudden curiosity.

“Petty Officer Second Class Spartan one-two-two.”

“That’s your name?”

“It’s Joseph,” the SPARTAN said, giving his head a little shake. He set his medical case on the ground beside her, then opened it and began taking out materials. “You’re Applejack.”

It was a statement, not a question.

“Yeah,” she said. “I –”

She broke off as her gaze drifted past Joseph to the large ERA soldier, who was slowly picking himself off the ground. His helmet had been knocked off in the blast, revealing a head of red fur and a shaggy blond mane. Red fur and a shaggy blond mane that Applejack would recognize anywhere.

“Big Macintosh?” she bellowed, instinctively trying to rise to her feet. “Mac! What’n Tartarus d’you think your doin’ here?”

Joseph pressed against her shoulder, pushing her back to the ground.

“You need to stay still,” he ordered.

“That’s my brother!” Tara shouted, pointing at Big Mac.

Joseph paused, glancing back with Applejack. Mac froze, one hand still reaching for his helmet, which had fallen just beside him. He looked up, making direct eye contact with his sister.

“Uh . . . hey, AJ,” Mac mumbled, breaking eye contact.

Full of fury, Applejack tried to rise again, but Joseph held her down.

“You need to stay still,” he repeated.

“You’re s’pose to be back home!” Tara shouted at Mac. “Whose lookin after the farm?”

“I thought you were,” Big Mac said, grabbing his helmet. “I didn’t know you were gonna be mixed up in all this.”

“’An you didn’t tell me?” Applejack demanded. “Whadda you think yer doin’ playin’ soldier?”

“Can we talk about this later?” Mac asked.

“Yes, can you?” Joseph said. He plucked shrapnel from Applejack's leg, causing a stab of intense pain to shoot up all the way to her thigh.

“What’s going on here?” came a voice. “Big Mac? What’re you doing here?”

Applejack looked up to see Twilight standing over them all, with Dr. Halsey just next to her.

“Your friend has some shrapnel in her calf,” Joseph reported, barely looking up as yanked a second piece of shrapnel out of Applejack's leg, causing her to let out another cry of pain. “I’m working to get it out. Apparently, your friend’s brother didn’t tell her he was looking to be a soldier.”

“A soldier?” Twilight asked, staring at Mac with as much disbelief as Applejack had.

“Can we talk about this later?” Mac repeated, sliding his helmet back over his head, masking his features. “We might not be safe here.”

“No,” Princess Celestia said. She had appeared behind Twilight and Dr. Halsey and was helping a limping Fluttershy along. Her features were the grimmest that Applejack had ever seen her look, and that was counting the time that the Crystal Empire had almost been taken over by Sombra. “I don’t believe we are.”

“Pack it up, everyone,” SPARTAN-039 ordered, motioning for everyone to follow him. “Joseph; carry the girl in. Vinh; take the girl from the princess. Grace, Naomi; watch our backs while we move. We don’t want another grenade to catch us off guard.”

“Now wait a minute –” Applejack began to protest, but Joseph had already scooped her into his arms and lifted her off the ground, causing pain to shoot through her injured leg. She groaned, and saw another SPARTAN – Vinh, she assumed – lift up Fluttershy in a similar fashion.

As the group crossed the grounds towards the palace, the sounds of the angry mob grew fainter; now a low roar instead of a deafening cry.

“This is simply disastrous!” Rarity said. “How can ponies possibly be driven to this sort of barbarity?”

Applejack glanced around to see the mare furtively brushing dust and dirt from her jacket, which was singed and torn in a few places.

“They’re scared,” Dr. Halsey said. “And that makes them dangerous. It happens to people to.”

“What should we do, Your Highness?” Twilight asked, trotting dutifully behind Princess Celestia's heels. “Has anything like this ever happened before?”

“Have I ever been beset upon by a mob of my own subjects before an attempt is made on my life by them?” Princess Celestia asked. “No.”

As they reached the large front doors of the palace, the princess turned and addressed the group at large.

“Things have changed,” she said. There was a steely tone in her voice that Applejack had never heard before. “Spartan zero-three-nine, Spartan zero-two-nine. Isaac, Joshua. Step forward.

The two SPARTANs stepped forward, standing at attention before the princess.

“What do need, ma’am?”

“Isaac,” she said, addressing 039, “you will take your team to the Crystal Empire. If what the rebel said is true, then Princess Cadence and her subjects could be in grave danger. Find out if this is true, and take the city back. Muster any forces you require from the UNSC.”

“What about my brother?” Twilight asked, her eyes wide. “He could be in danger too!”

“If the city has indeed fallen,” Princess Celestia said. “Then he is most certainly in danger.” She turned her attention to SPARTAN-029. “Joshua – you and your team shall remain here and guard both myself, my sister, and the Elements. When the time comes, you shall take our forces to the Covenant Corvette above us and destroy it. Until then, you will remain with me.”

“Yes ma’am,” chorused both soldiers.

A pit seemed to open up in Applejack's stomach. War had come to Equis, and she had a bad feeling that before this was all over, things would get much worse.

Author's Note:

Ah, yes; here comes the violence.

If you're interested in this story and want updates when I'm able, you should follow my account. I'm going to use the Blog to ask questions when I need lore help, give you all updates on new chapters, and answer some questions. Cheers.