• Published 4th Feb 2021
  • 11,047 Views, 1,001 Comments

Choice - zelkova48

When the time came, choices needed to be made. Consequences be damned. A series of short vignettes set in the Negotiationverse by Rated Pony

  • ...


The remnants of other races living in Equestria have hijacked ships and are heading to foreign waters. Their hope sinks along with them as they are sunk by Equestrian fire.

The last of the cows had boarded the Ark, a massive cargo vessel, mere moments before it raised anchor and set sail into the horizon, towards freedom from a country slowly failing apart at the seams. It was one of few ships stolen by non-ponies in order to escape Equestria. The complete remnant of Equestria's minority races were all crammed onto those ships. The entirety of the diamond dogs, cows, mules, along with a few scant ponies here and there were all huddled together in shivering masses, chilled by the salty breeze of the ocean air as their escape caught the watchful eyes of the Equestrian 48th Naval Brigade and their warships.

This was defection, plain as day.

Captain Parabola and his small fleet of ships watched with uncertainty as the vessels made its way across the waters. Unbeknownst to the inhabitants of the ships they were still within firing range of the brigade's ballistae. They were already armed and ready to go, all the captain had to do was give the go ahead and let loose the bolt. A single shot to the hull was all that was needed to sink the ships and condemn every passenger aboard to a watery grave.

Orders from up top have made it clear that even the slightest hint of rebellion needed to be nipped in the bud as quickly and as quietly as possible. The entire debacle with Fluttershy, the former Element of Harmony, and the Resistance had put Equestria on a state of high alert. Paranoia, more like. The very idea that your friends or neighbors could be in league with the enemy, or at the very least sympathetic, put ponies on edge and was detrimental to the war effort.

Martial law had since been instated due to their treachery and the country has been paying for it ever since. Nopony was allowed after dark anymore and full transparency needed to be made clear with the local constabulary lest they fall under the purview of the Equestrian secret service. Rumors of ponies disappearing or suddenly changing their tune whenever the secret service were involved were frightfully plentiful.

Each day small signs of resistance were being stamped out left and right. Daily checks within common households were made in order to ensure that members of the populace weren't human sympathizers or anti-war dissenter. Ratting out your neighbors to the authorities was not only encouraged but was often rewarded with a hefty sum of bits from the government as well. This had undoubtedly bred a culture of fear and paranoia that would end up with the vast majority of the pony population being either fully devoted to the Equestrian ideal or cowed into silent submission.

It was this thought that made Captain Parabola hesitant to give the order to sink the defectors, for he himself was a dissenter. He was among the silent minority that were opposed to the war but couldn't speak lest he or his loved one fall prey to the jaws of the secret service. He couldn't in good conscience order the ships destruction.

"Sir?" a voice snapped Parabola out of his thoughts.

"Yes, Sergeant Fling?" Parabola replied turning his gaze to the hefty sergeant.

"I was asking if you would give us the order to fire on the ships," said Sergeant Fling.

"...In a moment, this is a delicate situation. I need to collect my thoughts."

"With all due respect sir, the ships are getting away!" Sergeant Fling raised his voice. "It's full of defectors. Our job is to ensure that another Fluttershy incident never happens again! Are you aware that one slip up in security is the reason this war has turned in the favor of the enemy?!"

"I'm well aware of that fact, sergeant!" Captain Parabola snapped, getting up into Fling's face. "But are you also aware that I am the one in charge of this brigade, not you. I give the orders whether or not we fire!"

"...I knew it," Sergeant Fling chuckled humorlessly. "I knew it."

"Knew what, sergeant?"

"I've always knew that you were a spineless coward," Fling accused. "There were rumors about you, Captain Wait-And-See. The naval captain who took too long making decision to fire. The captain who made excuses for missing his shots. The captain who sympathized with the enemy! You're every bit the incompetent hack command has made you out to be!"

"Are you questioning my loyalty to Equestria, sergeant!" Parabola shouted, raising his neck up to its full height, casting an intimidating shadow over Fling and the rest of the ship's crew.

"I'm questioning your ability to lead, captain," Fling spat the last word. "You're soft!"

"And you're insubordinate!" Parabola retorted. "You do not get to make the decisions. I do! And if I hear another outburst out of you, sergeant, I'll have you cleaning the latrines back at port with your toothbrush for the next month!"

"Ha! At least then you'd have given an actual order, Captain Wait-And-See!"

"That's it. You're relieved of duty, sergeant! When we get back to port I want you immediately scrubbing toilets in the barracks until they sparkle like the moon on Luna's flank. Do you hear me sergeant, sparkl-!" Parabola's tirade was cut short as the sound of snapping rope turn his and the sergeant's attention towards the nearby ballista. The war machine had gone off, sending a heavy bolt the size of a tree trunk sailing through the air and towards the ship. "No..." he breathed, his pupils shrinking to pinpricks. "No, no, no!"

His cries were accompanied by more ballistae going off, having assumed the first shot was the signal to unload on the unfortunate defectors, and the distant sound of crunching wood and splashing water, shortly followed by dim yet recognizable sounds of screams as countless innocents were swallowed up by the crashing waves. There was no way to help them and even if they did get rescued the only thing waiting for them on deck was the receiving end of a spear.

Defection was not tolerated, it was a capital offense.

"Who did that?" Parabola spoke barely above a whisper. "Who the fuck did that?!" He demanded in a voice that caused every pony around him to shrink in terror, even the previously insubordinate sergeant. Turning his gaze over to the ballista itself, he saw one of the new recruits by the weapon, their hoof on the mechanism that triggered the launch. He ran up to the trembling private, clutching his hooves around the poor kid's neck and wringing it out like a wet towel. "Do you have any idea what you've just done?!"

"I did what I had too for the good of Equestria," the recruit, Private Straight Shot, confessed. She was standing before a tribunal at the port, her entire brigade stood behind at attention, watching with intent as the unfortunate recruit was being scrutinized by the hastily assembled panel of arbiters before them, one of whom was none other than Princess Celestia herself.

It had been a few days after the debacle with the defectors. Captain Parabola reported Four Eyes to command to be court martialed for her reckless action, costing the lives of numerous innocents regardless of their treacherous status. Somehow this had caught the attention of Celestia who had inserted herself into the panel at the last minute. Her face was impassive as she maintained an air of regality that clouded her true motives. Eventually, after a few minutes of deliberation with the higher ups, she rose from her seat and gave her verdict.

"Captain Parabola," Princess Celestia started.

"Yes, your majesty?" replied the captain.

"See to it that Private Straight Shot is put in line for a promotion and a medal." The response from the princess caused Parabola's jaw to go slack and Straight Shot's to hit the floor.

"Y-your majesty?" Captain Parabola stuttered lamely. "May I ask why?"

"Private Straight Shot has demonstrated that in times of distress she is capable of making decisions that benefits Equestria. She made the right call in making that shot, even if you yourself did not give the order to. The defectors were getting away and you, captain, were contemplating whether or not you should fire on a group of potential threats to our fair nation," Princess Celestia made sure to emphasize her obvious disdain with the captain's indecisiveness.

"Bu-" Parabola attempted to argue but was cut off.

"Ponies like Private Straight Shot are what we need in these desperate times. She understood what needed to be done in order to prevent another Fluttershy incident. She is to be commended for her actions and heralded as the very picture of the Equestrian ideal." Celestia turned to the rest of the brigade. "I expect all of you to follow in her example. Ponies like her are how we will triumph over the scum of humanity."

"But, your majesty!" Captain Parabola interjected. "The ships! The passengers!"

"Unfortunate victims of enemy action," Celestia replied coolly, feigning sorrow for the lost. "They fled to the seas, hoping to be welcomed with open arms like the traitors did before them, only to be rudely reminded just how horrible the humans truly are at their core."

"I-I," Captain Parabola couldn't believe what he was hearing. Princess Celestia couldn't have been more obvious about it without putting it in writing. She was playing the whole thing off as the result of an enemy attack.

"That is what happened," she declared, sweeping her gaze across the entire brigade. They all silently nodded in acknowledgement. "It is a tragedy, true. But it is all the more reason for us to fight with every fiber of our being! To protect Equestria and to free humanity from the shackles of their own evil! Is that not why you are here!"

"Yes, you majesty!" The 48th naval brigade responded in unison.

"Then you are all dismissed," Princess Celestia concluded. "The war will be over soon, this I swear. I only ask you keep doing what you do."

With that, she departed with the rest of the admirals, returning to more pressing matters. The rest of the 48th naval brigade also dispersed, returning to their bunks to retire for the day, leaving behind Captain Parabola, who could only stand frozen in disbelief. Then, his world came crashing down.

"Captain Parabola," the captain turned to the source of the voice and his heart nearly jumped out of his throat. Three ponies dressed in black suits and sunglasses stood before him, their disposition one of single minded duty. The leader, a light yellow colored pony with purple and pink mane stepped forward to introduce herself.

"My name is agent Sweetie Drops. We're hear to ask you a few questions. Please, come with us."

The captain had no choice but to comply. Stoically he followed along with them, but could make out the crude sneer of one Sergeant Fling from out of the corner of his eyes.

Private Straight Shot was later promoted to the rank of captain and this was the last time anypony ever saw Captain Parabola again.