• Published 16th Nov 2012
  • 4,941 Views, 297 Comments

A Great Endeavor - Rune Soldier Dan

On July 3, 1943, Equestria declared war on the Axis Powers. These are the stories of those times.

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--Snapshot - Gods and Generals

”It is a mistake to equate kindness with weakness. A people do not have to be cruel to be tough.”

-Franklin Delano Roosevelt, US President

Not even Princess Celestia knew what to expect when she joined the ranks of the Allied commanders. It had been a very long time since she led others into battle, and the conflicts she knew bore no resemblance to this war of bombers and blitzkriegs. Nor did she have great insight into the minds of her new peers. Would the human generals throw the lives of her ponies away? Would they be treated like beasts? Either way, she owed it to her subjects to lead them herself. To not sit safe in Canterlot while they bled for their beliefs.

When she announced her intention to lead on the battlefield, Celestia learned that she was not the only one with reservations. Eisenhower met with unanimous opposition when he brought the subject up to his generals. They knew nothing of her. Would she be a strange, demanding goddess? A bully queen? A silly princess? And how could they ask their soldiers to be led by a pony?

A compromise was eventually reached, though the deal heavily favored the humans. It was agreed that she have authority, but would only be the commanding officer of her own people. Equestrians, however, tended to serve specialist roles. As such they were divided among the myriad Allied divisions, putting Celestia in direct command of very little.

A few ponies were furious over the perceived insult, Luna most of all. Ruling Equestria in her sister’s absence, she flew directly to Britain to berate her sister for being sidelined so easily. The two wrote back-and-forth on the subject for months, Celestia’s views well-summarized in the excerpt below:

”It is simpler than you and they are making it out to be. There are two truths about trust: It cannot be forced, and it begins unilaterally. I will be the first. I will accept their leadership and show them my measure. I will be a dutiful soldier, learn all I can, and hope that they come to trust me back.

Perhaps you’re right, and THEY should accept orders from ME. I can believe it is so, argue the point, even stop the sun until they agree. Or, brick by brick, I can tear down the wall between us. I choose harmony.”

A general without an army, Princess Celestia became a frequent sight in Eisenhower’s headquarters. The first thing she learned was that the internal diplomacy hardly started and stopped with her own case. Montgomery and Patton were both skilled, dynamic leaders who had all the answers and everyone else should just shut up and agree with them. And they hated each other, doing much to flare the American-British rivalry. Not unlike Eisenhower, Celestia found herself in the role of diplomat as often as soldier, smoothing out bruised egos and keeping the army from pulling itself apart.

One of the closest friends she made in those years was General Omar Bradley, a sad-eyed man of fifty who led the 1st US Army. Perhaps correctly described by Montgomery as “Polite, dutiful, and dull,” he was not a great general, but he was not a bad one either. Although initially skeptical of an alicorn leading human troops, Bradley came to genuinely like Princess Celestia. The two had similar personalities and a similar opinion of war: war was nasty, ugly business to be concluded with as few losses as possible. Celestia had lived for centuries, and knew full well the “glory” of battle was fleeting. In Bradley she found a human who understood this, and was willing to work with her, listen to her, and even teach her when she was found lacking.

Professionally, Bradley appreciated her perspective. As Eisenhower’s right hand pony, Celestia had a sense of the big picture and what everyone’s role in it was. Personally, he enjoyed her presence for the same reason she enjoyed his: another voice more interested in quiet conversation than loud-hailing one’s own virtues. She was also someone to whom he could safely rant when his frustrations with “those damn prima donnas” [Patton and Montgomery] reached a boiling point.

In post-war years, Eisenhower was asked by a reporter to summarize Celestia’s leadership in one word. He chose “reliable.” Her wings let her go wherever dispatched in moments, taking command of a position, relaying orders from the top, or assessing the situation. She would do these and return, unfailing, ungrumbling, never inventing excuses or claiming glory. Her reports were concise and accurate. When she ordered men, she spoke without flowery words or preamble. And when she led them to failure, she flew back and informed Eisenhower without dispensing blame.

In December of 1944, the Germans launched a winter assault that would later be known as the Battle of the Bulge. During this time, Princess Celestia was briefly entrusted with leadership of the 1st and 9th US Armies and ordered to stem the tide. It was a massive responsibility, and a sure sign that the trust she showed was at long last returned.

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