Spartan A-042 finds himself on a mission gone wrong when he winds up in a land of talking ponies
Spartan A-042 finds himself on a mission gone wrong when he winds up in a land of talking ponies and other magical creatures as he struggles to comprehend how he got there, why he is there and above all, how can he leave.
Oh man, I'm so excited to get started with this. I won't hold you back with a long drone about myself so enjoy!
Prologue: War Is Not A Game, Or Is It?
Heavy boots clanked against metal decking as Spartan A-042 darted between pieces of cover to avoid the constant onslaught of the combined fire-power from three red Spartans as they peppered his position with an MA5D each. They had the high ground and A-042 just knew he needed to reach the nearby man-cannon so he could dispatch them up close with his T1-Energy Sword.
The Spartans had been deployed in another war game shortly after returning from their last successful mission on Hades VI and the effect was showing as everyone’s technique was sloppy from the mission. Everyone's but his. He was currently hidden behind some pillars on the holo-sim arena designated 'Wraparound' and he could hear the gush of the alien launch device as though it were beckoning out to him. While he was pinned the red Spartans decided to have some fun with him.
“You can't camp there forever 42! You have to come out sometime.” The other reds snickered and shot another burst at his position while 16, the original caller, reloaded her Assault Rifle and pulled the bolt back with a satisfying 'clunk'. They would of put some grenades down there but they had wasted them on some earlier targets and were currently just trying to hold down the position for the duration of the match.
“Up yours 16!” 42 called back as he primed a T1 APG-Plasma Grenade and gave it a blind, underarm throw around the cover with his left arm. The Grenade soared through the air and stuck to the barrel of 16's MA5D.
“Shit!” She yelled and dropped the weapon over the edge and into the abyss while her team-mates dove away from her in either direction. 42 took this as a chance to make his move and dashed from cover with a Hard Light Shield projected from his left forearm and his Energy Sword held tight in his right hand. He leaped onto the man-cannon and shot through the air towards the position of his pre-occupied foes. He landed with a heavy 'THUD' and instantly lunged for the first Spartan in his way, who was Spartan E-242. The Spartan dropped to the floor, wordless as he was impaled on the double pronged blade. It wasn't as though they could actually feel the pain though, it was just a virtual reality, hologram simulation. 242's corpse disintegrated as his conscience was transferred into a new holo-shell body to be re-deployed onto the map. 42 wasted no time and rolled forward and plunged the blade into S-171's gut before lifting him into the air and pile driving the corpse to the floor. He spun round to face E-016, only she wasn't there. His intuition kicked in and he spun round with his Hard Light Shield leading the way as he did a one eighty and blocked two shots from 16's Magnum before swinging the blade upwards and cutting the side-arm in half. 16 could only stare at her severed weapon in disbelief as 42 swung his sword through her neck while shouting 'Triple Kill'!
Her head bounced on the floor and the familiar sound of a game coming to an end blurred through the holo-deck's speakers with the sound akin to a foghorn. 42 smiled and picked up 16's head with his left hand as it, himself and everything else around him disintegrated, revealing a large metal room that stretched on for a very long distance in each direction but behind him, as he was standing on the prep-platform where people would wirelessly interface with their holo-doubles. He let his pose droop to a more comfortable stance as he watched everyone around him remove gear and casually talk to each other.
“Hey, 42!” 42 could only mumble under his breath as 16 approached him removing her helmet and flicking her ponytail over her shoulder.
“Anyone there. I thought I said hi 42?” She stopped in front of him and peered inside his visor, scrunching her eyes as though it would give her x-ray vision to see his expression.
“I would prefer it if you called me Aidan, Katherine.” 42 spoke out with a tone devoid of any emotion. She really could grind his gears when she wanted but he kept that a secret as he spoke through grating teeth.
“Oh yeah, sorry. I just wanted to congratulate you on that little stunt you pulled at the end. Won your team the match.”
Aidan looked up at the large screen-display above the bulkhead while pulling off his helmet to reveal healthy, white skin, black hair and auburn eyes. Surely enough there was an almost identical score of 50-49. Had that stunt of his failed then he would of cost his team the match and half of their monthly food rations out on the field as had been agreed by the two teams while preping for the match. Katherine rubbed her neck and pulled a high-protein, nutrient bar out of her tactical soft case.
“Guess I should start paying you off now.”
Aidan took the bar and broke it in two, handing one half to her as he stuffed the other half in his mouth. He nearly choked when he realised it wasn't a protein bar and instead was an incredibly sweet cereal bar she had obviously snuck into the wrapping. She was about to thank him for getting half of it back when she noticed him nearly choking on the stuff.
“Hey 42, you alright?” He gave a rough cough and looked at her.
“Yeah... was just a little surprised to get a cereal bar in my mouth when I was expecting a dry nutrient bar. Where'd you get this stuff?” She gave him a seductive but fake wink before turning around and walking off. Aidan hoped she was joking about the wink at least. The last thing he wanted was getting his ass grinded by the Captain for having a fling on the ship when it was totally her coming onto him. Once she left the room with the rest of her trio some other blue Spartans walked over who he instantly recognised as some ex-ODST's he had served with in his old platoon, '501st Fire Chimps'. They had been good friends but his new career was severely impacting his social routine with them so they had to stay as good buddies rather than best mates. While pretty much every other Spartan on this ship acted as their own platoon, Aidan and a few others were so good in initial testing for the Spartan IV's that they were selected to become lone-wolf, kill teams that would go behind enemy lines, split up and then cause havoc to various critical objectives in covenant hands. This was the reason most of the other Spartans were tired and run down. While they had just come from a light ground engagement he had been up on the ship, on standby for any stealth or infiltration mission they required. His most successful mission was when he had been tasked with destroying a Super-Scarab being built on the planet Tartarus. He hadn't completed the objective conventionally. Sneaking in to the base in which it was being constructed he snuck aboard the vessel and commandeered it. Suffice to say he was promoted after that for not only had he completed his objective but he had also gained the UNSC a large portion of unlocked Covenant tech which was stashed aboard. The Super-Scarab was carted away by ONI spooks but they allowed the team to keep some spares of the new Covenant weapons as a little thank you gift for the bounty of technology. The first of his buddies stepped in front of his and gave him a friendly shake by the shoulder.
“Hey man, nice moves out there. I saw em' on the match replay. Getting' a little bit heavy on the Riot Shield tactics though.” He said as he removed his helmet revealing a stubble covered face with a happy but haggard look on it.
“But if you hadn't of done that I would have had it covered anyway”. Said another blue Spartan stepping forward. “I was on fire with the Rocket Launcher. Almost got a... uhmm. What do you call them again Aidan? Killtrocity, that’s it.” At that moment one of the ensigns stepped through the bulkhead and turned to face Aidan.
“Sir, the Captain has a special mission for you and the other Kill Team members. Suit up and meet them at the drop pod bay, ASAP. Mission details will be on a data pad in your room.” He gave a crisp salute then turn on his heels and walked out. Some other Kill Team members heard this and left the room in the ensigns wake. He nodded at his friends and left the room as they started talking to each other some more.
Arriving in his room which he shared with two other Spartans who weren't here he saw a glowing data pad laid flat on his bed. Picking it up he scanned the contents of the text but there wasn't much to read up on. There was just a brief description of a covenant target that needed 'sorting' on a planet that was marked as 'classified'. There was also a brief outline on the kind of gear he would need to pack. The main point of said segment was basically pack heavy, it was going to be a long mission. They estimated around a week of sneaking across a Covenant controlled planet to reach the target from any feasible landing zone for the pods. They were also to be dropped from slip-space in modified drop pods while the rest of Infinty's crew would be on the way to another mission that had been designated as urgent. Aidan sighed and started attaching parts to his base 'Gen-2 Mjolnir Armour' such as a tactical soft case and some extra pieces of camouflage netting to keep him hidden when not using Actvie-Camo. Opening his fairly large locker he pulled out one of every armour-ability module and put them in his tactical soft case while attaching his own personal Energy Blade which he had pulled from the cold, dead claws of a Zealot he had killed in hand to hand combat. He kept the rest of his suit simple and obstruction free and kept his default, dull blue paint job with a few rough white stripes here and there. Closing the locker he began heading down to the drop bay to get the rest of his weapons from the armoury. The mission didn't surprise him much on the lack of details, for the data was filed as a spook document, that never meant anything good.
So let me know what you think and I will love to read your opinions and improve upon your criticism. On another note... wow, wrote this up in 2 hours, that's pretty quick for me.
It was late at night and the land of Equestria slumbered peacefully throughout all the hills and valleys not a single thing was wrong. No one was being attacked, robbed or disturbed in the slightest of ways. Of course this wasn't odd for a land such as this but nonetheless it was something beautiful to behold. Even the palace, where all the commotion happened was quiet but where were the princesses?
“Oh Princesses I'm glad you could make it.” Twilight said happily as she answered the door to her library to find the two figures of royalty standing there.
“It was my pleasure Twilight, I haven't had a, what do you call it again? A sleepover since I was a small filly.” Celestia practically beamed as she and Luna stepped in to the house while two guards stood watch outside. “It's okay guards you may go and explore the town. We will be fine by ourselves.” The guards snapped a quick salute and walked off quickly while talking to each other.
“Tia, I am still confused as to what thou actually does at a 'Sleepover'.” Luna was still trying to put the pieces together in her head while wearing a look of pure puzzlement. Twilight and Celestia just giggled while Pinkie Pie jumped into Luna's face, scarring the daylights out of her.
“What else would you do at a sleepover other than PAAARTTAAAYY!” Pinkie danced and hopped around the Princess of the night before cartwheeling off towards Rarity and Applejack. Luna could only gather herself as she walked further into the room.
“I see and what exactly shall we do at this 'night party'?”
“I'll handle this one.” Rarity exclaimed as she got up and walked over to Luna. “Well these parties are usually a lot less vibrant than those of Pinkies concoction but we still do fun things such as doing each others hair and talking about people we have crushes on...” Rarity just gave a dreamy sigh as she began to have a small little daydream about said crush.
“Oh you mean like Macintosh, he's pretty stoking for a Stallion.” Rainbow replied only to get a thorough punch to the shoulder from Applejack.
“Ah would appreciate it if you didn't talk about mah brother that way Rainbow.” She said through gritted teeth.
“What? Its not my fault hes got a good body and the charm to match. Not that I like him or anything * cough *.” Rainbow cleared her throat and turned her attention towards Fluttershy, obviously trying to avoid eye contact with AJ. Fluttershy was sitting in the corner talking to Pinkie very softly and jumping in fright every time Pinkie burst out with a loud word or a laugh. Celestia and Luna joined the rest in the middle while Twilight closed the door behind them with a soft 'click'.
“Everypony remember that we're going stargazing tonight as well.” Twilight smiled as she trotted towards the centre of the room to rejoin the others. Pinkie Pie sprang up into the air randomly sending Fluttershy shooting behind a sofa to hide herself.
“Yay, lets get this party started!” And with that everyone began having a massively fun time that night.
'One hour later'
“Oooh, aaaah.” Everyone stated as the night sky played before them like a ballerina reaching the peak of their performance.
“Wow Luna, you did an amazing job tonight with the night sky.” Twilight was over the moon as she was sharing this golden opportunity with her friends.
“I thank thee Twilight. The compliment is most generous of thou.” Luna was enjoying herself very much tonight and she was determined to make the rest of the night just as awe inspiring and beautiful. The stars shined like small flames in a sea of darkness as prominent nebulas made a brilliant kaleidoscope of colours across the large dome that sealed them from the cold, murky depths of space. But Celestia found something bugging her at that moment and Luna could feel it to.
“Is something wrong sister?” Luna asked with a worried expression on her face, turning to face her sister whom had her eyes closed tight in conentration.
“Yes, its just something is making an impact on the local magical energies of the planet and I can't figure out what it is. The effect is weak but everywhere. I doubt anyone else can sense it. Can you Luna?” Celestia replied with a sense of struggling in her voice.
“Yes I can sister but I doubted it was anything important. But if thou deems it worthy of investigation then I shall help thee.” She walked over to her sister and added her magic to Celestia's through her horn and began probing the surrounding wilderness... 'nothing'. They shifted their search to the sky and the signal grew in strength slightly as they stretched their search further and further out towards the edge of the atmosphere. They finally reached the frontier of space and their search instantly homed in on a large but slow beacon of energy seemingly passing by the planet like a ghost. There was actually nothing physically there but they could feel the energy leaking from the point in massive quantities before dissipating into the planets atmosphere. Twilight who had noticed that the Princesses were up to something odd , decided to ask if they needed assistance with whatever they were doing.
“Celestia, Luna, do you need any help?” She asked her voice laced with worry. At that moment the two Princesses broke from their hard concentration and gasped out loud. Twilight became very distressed from this and asked again if they required any assistance. Celestia was the first to re-compose herself and reply.
“No Twilight it is fine but whatever we just detected we altered one or two objects floating around it. There should be no problem at all.” Celestia smiled as she assured herself nothing was, while soothing Twilight's fears as well. But as fate would have it nothing ever went simple.
“Oh this ones a doozy of a doozy.” Pinkie virtually shot ten feet into the air, her whole whole body shaking and convulsing as all her Pinkie's senses tried mangling each other for dominance of the warnings. As she said this a large sonic boom was heard which instantly caught the attention of everyone, especially Rainbow Dash.
“Hey! What’s the big idea with stealing my moves.” She shouted angrily before taking to the skies very quickly before anyone could stop her. Shooting high into the sky she noticed two small orange blips which slowly increased in size as they approached her general direction. Shooting back down she warned the others.
“I don't think any of you are going to believe this.”
'Thirty Minutes prior'
Aboard the UNSC starship 'Infinity' Aidan left his quarters and began making his way down to the tram system with ran along the main dorsal highway of the ship. 'Things were about to get interesting' he thought as he contemplated what kind of mission his first blind/spook operation was going to be like. He already knew it was an assassination but how would the stunt be pulled off? Would they get heavy support once the main objective was complete? What was the chance percentage of success. Aidan banished the more negative thoughts from his mind. Thinking about death before an op was considered a bad omen among the Spartan IV's, just as wearing a red jumpsuit was a bad omen among the ensigns when going to ground. Thankfully the for the ensigns, NacSpecWep actually addressed their concerns and replaced all red jumpsuits with a much friendlier orange. As for Aidan, well you couldn't really suppress someone’s thoughts for their benefit so he just had to keep thinking positive and plan how he would achieve the objective.
His first plan was loadout. He always packed all the available Armour-Abilities with him bar Jetpack and Thrusterpack so there was really no need to narrow them down but what about weapons. He had his trusty Energy Sword, so close quarters was taken care of, besides an Energy Blade took up next to no space at all. He had also decided to pack heavy with the supplies and weaponry seeing as this was a long operation. He would take everything he could, including what he could hold in his hands and stealth was needed so the weapons needed to be silenced or naturally quiet. That meant no rockets or lasers, or any covenant power weapons for that matter. He had arrived at the tram and stepped inside while he pressed the button for the drop bay. The tram groaned and squeaked as it departed from the station and towards the destination which sat .5 kilometres away. Returning to his thoughts, Aidan decided on a suitable loadout. An M6 Magnum, an SM2 Sniper Rifle, a T-55 Storm Rifle (Covenant Manufactured), several Frag and Plasma Grenades and a small crate stocked with ammunition to keep him from running dry on his Human weapons.
With weaponry sorted he let his mind drift towards tactics. His best guess was that he would be dropped in a very remote area of wilderness so hiking would be best kept under the canopy provided by the indigenous trees as most Covenant world's liked to keep a very natural look to them so they may mirror the image of the Halo Rings they venerated for so long before the civil war. The new Covenant wasn't as religious any more, this new formation under the command of the Elites was more of a mutual alliance until Humanity could be wiped from the face of the universe so they could resume their petty squabbles amongst each other without the fear of Humans capitalising upon the scenario. While Aidan had to give the idea some credit, he was extremely pissed about the fact that even after revealing the true purpose of Halo that the Sangheili just went back to their old ways as soon as the old Covenant was dismantled. No one really heard or cared about what happened to the Brutes. Most thought that they just went feral and starting killing each other instead with no supportive leadership to keep them in line. Others believed they were distracted with fighting off the new Covenant as they staged a two front war against Humans and Brutes. It didn't matter to Aidan, he hated the ugly fuckers before and he hated them now.
The tram began slowing down and eventually arrived at the designated location before letting out a low beep and opening the double doors. Aidan stepped out and walked towards the large bulkhead surrounded by yellow warning tape and a big sign saying 'Warning! Do not open Bulkhead when drop bay is unpressurised.' plastered in big red letters on its right. Pushing his hand against a print scanner the device read his fingertips through the thick glove and granted him access before opening the door. Stepping inside he noticed the rest of his Kill Team preping by putting various weapons and supplies in their pods. They were his Kill team because he was the highest rank of them all and the second highest ranked Spartan IV of the entire platoon. The highest was a man named Jun, rumours went around saying that Jun was actually a Spartan III but he didn't believe them. All Spartan IIIs had died in various large field ops straight after being deployed from boot camp. It wasn't their fault that they were put on what were usually suicide missions but it was always a Spartans job to defeat the inevitable and come back victorious, no matter the goal. There were six pre-program test subjects that were released as Spartan IIIs before the official project took place but they all died as well.
Shifting focus away from his thoughts he began sifting through weapons on the nearby racks and shelves, pulling out his desired weapons and enough ammo to last him a very long time. Stuffing the extra ammo into a small crate and the rest into his guns and onto his body plates he then lugged the equipment over to his pod and began shoving the items in every conceivable yet secure space he could find before securing it all with specialised adhesive straps.
“Yo Chief, you lookin' to be a one man army or somethin'.” Aidan turned to see that 12, 34 and 73 were staring at him as he packed his equipment. Identifying the male speaker as 34 he turned to face him.
“Well correct me if I'm wrong but we are Spartans right?” Aidan stated this with a smug look hidden behind his helmet. The other Spartans gave a small chuckle and turned back to packing their own stuff but 34 said one more thing.
“Oh and the Warthog you requested has been loaded up into a vehicle pod.” Aidan looked across the room and noticed that he had in fact been correct and there was a four seater variant of the Warthog sitting in a lone vehicle drop pod. The four seater variant worked by removing the back mounted weapon and sacrificing most the the flat-bed space for two extra passenger seats behind the original two.
“What the hell! I didn't request a Warthog.” Aidan turned towards the others. “Okay... who ordered a Warthog under my name?” Before he could get a response the bays sirens began to play a low moan with a very low volume but gradually increasing, it would soon reach a large blare. This signalled that the pods would be dropped very soon and everyone jumped into their respective pods but 34 closed up the vehicle pod first before jumping in his own. While strapping in, a small countdown timer displayed itself on the dashboard inside Aidan's pod. It began counting down from thirty seconds and Aidan made sure he was comfy so the gut wrenching feeling of falling in a tone of metal and glass wouldn't affect him too much. The countdown eventually hit zero and all the pods began releasing from the clamps one by one down the two rows before it eventually reached Aidan's and his entire being was dragged ahead of his conscience as the metal pod fell through the ejection tube. His and the vehicle's pod were the last two to be dropped and as they entered the void of slip-space from the Infinity. He noticed how far ahead everyone was from him. Or rather behind as they lost speed from the solo travel through the dangerous realm of slip-space. This normally wouldn't have been a problem but something odd was happening. He wasn't slowing down, he was speeding up! Aidan began to lose his edge slightly as he and the vehicle pod were pulled further and further away from the rest of the group and towards the wall of the slip-space tunnel. There was no actual wall to slip-space tunnels but you could definitely make out where the calm tube divided itself from the shit storm that surrounded it and once you touched it you would be ejected out of slip-space and for him most likely in the middle of deep space. What actually happened was both a surprise and a blessing.
Shooting out of slip-space, him and the vehicle pod sped through the upper layers of a planets atmosphere creating a Sonic boom on the way down and a large heat cone formed around each device as they descended. His pod was going faster than any other pod should or has ever went so the impact was likely to kill him but Aidan wasn't going to die without trying everything at his disposal. Activating the retro-thrusters on both the pods he then proceeded to set his armours gel layer to lock up as much as possible without killing him and he just sat back and braced himself for the worst. In the process of slowing down the vehicle pod careened off towards him and smacked into his pod causing the two to shoot off in different directions. The vehicle pod descended upon a forest while he crashed into a small settlement of sorts. His last thoughts before impact were 'At least some Humans will find my corpse'. As the thought finished, the pod smacked into the ground with a crack that could probably be heard for miles and 42 blacked out almost instantly prior to the crash but not before his stomach did a 360 in the location his lungs would normally be.
The group dashed past the Library from the hill they had been sitting upon and continued to approach the town square when the meteorite crashed into the previously stated location mere minutes before they could reach the crash site. They had all observed the two objects crash into each other while descending and the larger of the two shot off into the forest while the smaller one descended upon the poor town of Ponyville which would surely be awakened by such an event. The impacts themselves had created large 'boom' sounds which could probably be heard for miles in every direction. Luna had split off from the group to secure the crash site in the Everfree while the others studied the one in Ponyville.
“What do you think it is?” Said Rainbow Dash as she flew next to the other ponies while they ran across the town, getting looks from the ponies who had been awoken by the loud crash. Fluttershy had fallen behind but she would catch up with them once she made sure her animals were alright and not spooked or anything.
“I think it's just a big space rock Rainbow, nothing else.” Twilight replied between huffs of breath with every step she took. The others looked similarly worn from the run including AJ but Rainbow simply glided along with wings, putting no effort into it at all. Celestia was also running but she seemed to be fairing worse than ponies like Rarity as the lifestyle of a Princess had not conditioned her for such prolonged exercise.
“Rainbow... would you please... secure the site... and keep other ponies away... please.” Celestia stuttered out as she continued to run with the others.
“Sure thing Princess, although why don't you just fly using your wings rather than get tired?” Rainbow replied with a confused look before darting off towards the crash site. Celestia's cheeks flushed red and she took off the ground with her wings but still kept with the others as they made their way to the crash site.
Finally reaching the town square which had been paved over with thousands of small tiles recently, the scene of carnage was not as bad as they had originally expected. The central fountain was destroyed and the crater was only a metre or two wide and a few centimetres deep, almost as if the meteor had slowed down. It was obvious to tell the thing had smashed through the fountain and then embedded itself in the tiles a few metres away but that was just a small detail compared to what they observed before them. As the smoke cleared around the object, it was revealed not to be a large lump of space rock but rather some sort of large metal pod. The entire group gasped as they observed this.
“What... what is it?” AJ asked as Twilight and Celestia stepped towards it slowly.
“I don't know Applejack but it's definitely not natural.” Was all that Twilight could say as she and Celestia closed in on the object. Rainbow Dash had finished her sweep of the perimeter and rejoined the group sitting back, waiting for something to happen from the Princesses and Twilights actions. Finally standing in front of the object it was evidently clear that it was of intelligent design.
“Princess, if you and Luna pulled this thing from space does that mean?”
“Yes, I think it does Twilight”. Celestia replied quickly. Twilight could only gasp as the news was given to her. The pod was completely covered in black soot from the entry into the planet and was still probably hot but one dominant feature stood out. A small red device connected to a cable sat behind a small glass on the side of the metal object. Reaching out with her magic she opened the glass panel and retrieved the red device with it still connected to the pod via the cable.
“Careful Twilight, we don't want to do anything rash.” Celestia gave her a small nudge while saying this and Twilight gulped as she pressed down on the leaver on the side of the small, red, box-like device that was similar to a crossbow leaver. The pod began hissing and small white streams of gas began shooting from the seems that surrounded the front of the device before what was now discovered to be the lid, blew off the pod with a loud 'bang' and flew straight towards Twilight and Celestia who ducked out of the way just in time. The lid hit the floor and skidded an extra two metres before stopping. Everypony turned their attention back to the pod itself as the silhouette of a creature began emerging from the thick cloud of soot and smoke that was given off by the pods interior.
Aidan groggily came to a minute or two after impact as the dashboard stated. The internal systems had survived the crash which meant the landing hadn't been as bad as originally thought and hey, he was still alive. He thanked whichever deity was watching over him and began unbuckling himself from the crash seat. While looking down he saw that the small cabin interior was beginning to fill up with a black and probably poisonous smoke. Activating the air filters in his helmet he finished unstrapping himself and grabbed the closest weapon to him, which happened to be the T55 Storm Rifle in the clamp to his right. Before he could start hitting the detonators for the explosive bolts a sound came from outside and inside the pod. Realising that this meant someone had activated the bolts from the outside Aidan began preping himself to meet with his fellow Humans or gun down any hostile Covenant he encountered. The lid shot off and he took one long breath to let the smoke fog up the local area around the pod. This gave him some cover as he slowly advanced out of the smoke with his weapon loaded and raised, ready to shoot on a moments notice.
He stepped from the smoke and observed his surroundings but he didn't quite register what he was seeing for a moment. Shutting his eyes tight and then re-observing his surrounding environment he quickly picked up on the fact that what he had previously observed was not fake and that stood before him were extremely colourful horses. 'Oh man I'm going to need to see a doctor after this'.
The ponies sat there, motionless for a moment as they registered what was stood before them. Twilight quickly began to note features in her mind. It was a mixture of blue, white and a very dark grey for starters. It also stood on its two hind legs, 'definitely bipedal' she noted as she continued her scan of the creature. It didn't have a face, or at least a conventional face. It had no muzzle or nose but instead a flat, featureless bottom half other than some white striped and a few small indentations in the flat surface. The upper half of its 'face' was a golden orange colour and seemed to be its version of eyes. The rest of its body seemed to follow the pattern or smooth yet detailed surfaces as small ridges popped up here and there and other areas were left exposed from what she assumed was its shell to reveal a very dark (almost black) skin, which was thick in some areas and thin in others. The last feature was a weird violet blue club it seemed to carry like a Royal Guard would with a crossbow, this meant the thing was holding a weapon and everyone else seemed to pick up on this at the same time as her.
“What do you think it wants?” Was all that Twilight could whisper to her mentor as they both stared dumbfounded at the strange creature. Time seemed to slow down as everything in the local areas just sat there motionless, staring at the creature as it stared back.
“I don't think it wants anything, remember? Me and Luna brought it here.” Celestia replied with more fear in her voice than she had felt when Nightmare Moon had revealed herself for the first time. But things didn't stay still for long as Rainbow rocketed over to it and stopped right in front of its face grabbing its attention as it lowered its weapon but they all listened with fear in their hearts as Rainbow Dash really dug into the creature with a verbal assault.
'Colourful horses? Right, its official, I've went completely insane from the stress of being a Spartan.' was all Aidan could think to himself before one flew right into his face and began having a massive go at him.
“Who do you think you are? Just waltzing onto our planet like your hot stuff. I bet I could beat you down right here and now if I wanted to...” The verbal abuse just went on and on as Aidan still tried to process the fact that a horse was talking to him in fluent English while hovering on wings protruding from its back. It started to seriously grate on his nerves after a while as its mouth seemed to of originally been designed as a toilet. He snapped his arm out and grabbed the thing with his left hand before pointing the barrel of his Storm Rifle at its head with his right. He didn't want to kill it, just shut it up for a moment so he could think, although the choking bit probably already did that. The gun part was just adding insult to injury.
“Rainbow Dash!” Twilight and the others shouted out as the thing snatched the blue Pegasus by the throat and pointed its weird crossbow/club at her head. The thing was incredibly fast to snatch Rainbow Dash like that. Celestia was too stunned to act immediately and just watched in horror as the outcome was about to play before her.
The creature squirmed in Aidan's hand and he felt sorry for the thing. It was small, kinda cute and he was about to release it from his strong grip, when its back legs swung forward and kicked him straight across the side of the head. It didn't hurt at all but he thing had just presented itself as hostile and he would address to the situation as such. The thing was a minuscule threat at best but he had to deal with it so he could move onto the others. Pulling the creature to his face so his eyes met what he presumed to be 'hers' through his visor and then gave a low growl to scare her. It did the job and her panicked face was replaced with one of pure fear as he threw her to his right and then gave her a swift kick to the stomach to keep her down. 'That should do it' he thought but before he could even raise his head an invisible force pushed him off to the right at huge speeds and sent him crashing into a wall, leaving a large, Human shaped indentation. When he pushed himself off the wall and looked towards the origin of the force who he had identified as the large white horse, seeing as her 'horn?' was glowing, he decided to charge and take her down.
Twilight watched as the alien threw Rainbow to the floor before kicking her in the stomach. She groaned loudly in pain which meant she was still alive but the alien didn't even have a chance to shift its attention before Celestia threw it halfway across the plaza and into the side of Berry Punch's house.
“I will not allow you to harm my subjects.” Celestia shouted in a commanding tone. “Now stay put and relinquish your weapons.” Twilight didn't expect it to even be conscious from such an impact but the creature had other ideas. Despite Celestia putting a large amount of energy into pinning the alien against the wall it simply pulled itself from the large indentation like it was no effort and then proceeded to charge straight in her direction but she knew it was going for Celestia.
Realising that the restraint was not working as the alien charged, Celestia instead put her energy into a beam to be fired from her still healing horn after the Changeling attack, which had happened only a month ago. She fired the beam but the creature side stepped the attack and carried on at tremendous speeds closing half the distance in three seconds flat. Celestia fired three more beams this time, which spread out but the creature had a trick of its own and summoned what appeared to be a large, magical shield which glowed a dark blue. The beams struck and reduced the magical barrier to vibrant red but the aliens shield still held and it dissipated the shield as it continued the charge with renewed vigour. Just as the alien was half a meter away from Twilight and Celestia it stopped mid-step and then ducked low before lunging at Celestia's main body at a much slower speed. Something clicked in Twilights mind as she observed this move and remembered Rainbow still lying in the crater. This thing wasn't trying to kill them, just incapacitate them, which was understandable seeing as Rainbow had been the first one to be aggressive out of either side. She needed to stop the fight quickly before the creature seriously harmed anyone because it was obvious that it far outmatched any of them at one on one combat.
The thing pounced on top of Celestia like a wolf would with a small filly and raised its left foreleg intending to punch Celestia across the side of her face. It swung and she blocked it with a magical barrier but the barriers wouldn't work for long as each barrier broken meant she was getting weaker as her magic was spent up from prolonged use. The final barrier broke and she could feel the magic in her system completely drained as the monstrous behemoth on top of her raised its fist for one last strike. She closed her eyes expecting the pain to come swiftly but the blow never arrived. Opening her eyes she saw that a lasso had found its way around the creatures neck and it was trying to pull back against the ponies who had thrown the object at him. At the other end of the strong rope stood Applejack, Pinkie Pie and Rarity trying to keep the thing off of the Princess but it wasn't working well as there were only three of them. Instead of trying to loosen the rope the creature instead got up and just pulled the rope with its hulking forelegs. The three ponies shot forward as they clung to the rope for dear life and came crashing down by the creatures oddly shaped hooves.
It looked down at Rarity, Pinkie and Applejack then at Twilight and Rainbow who were still by the pod and finally back down at her. Standing there for a moment it leaned down over her for a moment, as if examining her. Celestia was petrified of what it would do to her but it just continued to look over her as if it was processing something through it head. It then did something quite extraordinary. It reached down gently behind her neck and propped her head up before reaching down to its side and fishing through a small fabricated pouch on its left thigh. Pulling out a small canteen it flicked the lid off with its dew claw or whatever that thing was on the end of its foreleg. It then placed the canteen against her lips and she slowly drank from it. Realising that she had finished drinking, it pulled her to her feet then walked over to and past Twilight before walking into the crater and picking up the injured Rainbow Dash and cradled her in its left foreleg while applying some strange cream it had in its pouch towards the area it had kicked. Walking back over to Celestia, picking up Twilight under its right foreleg on the way and setting them both down next to her it then walked over to its pod again and started grabbing stuff but it took its time and that gave them a chance to talk as Rainbow Dash started recovering from the painful kick she had received.
Aidan felt just awful attacking the poor creatures as he realised how weak they really were. He had observed their flimsy effort they put up to protect each other and he saw a large amount of courage in that. He let the violence flow out of his system as he took a more careful approach to these fragile creatures, he helped them all one by one and then approached his pod to gather his supplies and weapons. His motion tracker would keep and eye on them.
“What do you think it's going to do to us?” Rarity stuttered out feeling fear grip her system.
“I don't think its going to do anything now Rarity.” Twilight said through a calm face, hiding her real emotions beneath. She was cool and calculating but she was still downright petrified.
“But look at it, the thing is absolutely hideous, it must be a monster.” She was beginning to tear up from all the rough housing and Applejack picked up on this and began to comfort her.
“Now, now Rares. Ah think if the alien wanted to hose us down proper good, it would ah done so by now. Ah think it was just defending itself.” Applejack said this as she held Rarity's head over her shoulder and stroked her mane to calm her down. “Ah mean did yah see how strong it was. It had the strength of ten Oxen.” Applejack blurted this last bit out with a starry look in her eyes. “Ah wish ah was that strong. The things ah would do.” Celestia had taken on a different roll to the others and had gotten to her legs so she could walk over and talk to it, hopefully trying a more diplomatic approach this time. As she began to walk across towards the creature Twilight grabbed her left, hind leg.
“Princess no. You experienced how dangerous it was, don't antagonise it again.” Celestia just chuckled in response.
“Relax Twilight, I'm not going to try and attack it again.” Celestia set off but her trusty student followed and stayed close to her side and the others all followed suit, albeit at a safe distance. As they approached the blue creature it pulled another, much longer club that was painted grey, off a clamp inside the pod and set it on its back plate.
“Y'know the blue one shouldn't really be walking around with the injury I put on her.” It just said this with its back facing towards them. 'How did it know we were approaching?' Celestia thought to herself but the thing turned around to face them and then pointed at Rainbow Dash. “Lay down and let the cream fix the bruising, otherwise your going to find it difficult to walk tomorrow.” Then realisation dawned on her as she processed what it was saying in her mind.
“You talk Equestrian.” She inquisitively stated as everyone around her gave similar looks of interest at the creature but it just chuckled.
“I was just as surprised that you speak English quite frankly, although I get to call it seeing as my species is probably much older than yours.” It didn't have a mouth to speak through yet it still made sound. She had figured out from what it said, no what 'he' said as she could now tell from the voice, that their languages were just the same through some cosmic coincidence or a much deeper force at play but that didn't explain how it was talking without a mouth. Twilight also seemed to pick up on this.
“Excuse me Mr Alien, sir.” She said trying to get some answers of her own.
“Please... call me 42.” He cut in with a tone of charm.
“Uhm, okay... 42.” She was obviously a little confused as to why he wanted to be called a number but she pressed on nevertheless. “How are you speaking without a mouth exactly.” he cocked his head slightly as he processed what she asked him before straightening himself up suddenly.
“Ohhhh, no this isn't my body. This is my armour. My body is under this suit and the reason you don't see a face is because I'm wearing a helmet.” He stated with a tone of humour added to his voice.
“Oh, okay then.” She didn't want to press further as she realised she had just made herself look like an idiot in front of an extraequestrial being. 42 turned back towards his pod but a pink blur whizzed in front of his face.
“Oh, oh. Does this mean you're our friend now? I'vealwayswantedanalienforafriendeversinceIwasalittlefillyandnowwecanhaveawelcometoEquestriaparty. Just for you!” Pinkie stood perched on his helmet with her head leaned in front of the faceplate. He struggled to process what she just said but once he did he chuckled again.
“Oh no, I'm sorry, I'm not really the partying type. Although there are some other events I enjoy.” Pinkie seemed crushed by this as her hair fell down and became straight, but realising this wasn't going to change the aliens mind her hair puffed up once again and regained its original, brighter colouring.
“Okie dokie lokie.” She simply replied as she jumped off his head. She then bounced over to her friends again and stood next to them as Celestia stepped forward again.
“Why didn't you kill us despite having the capability to.” Was all she could ask. This issue had to addressed straight away if any more friendly interaction was going to continue.
“Because not all Aliens out there are murderous monsters, I didn't have a valid reason to and I'm not paid to kill civilians”. Was his simple and honest answer. Twilight asked one more question.
“So now that your here, where are you going to stay?” He kneeled down before her and looked into her eyes.
“How do you know I'm not going to leave right now?”
“Because your pod looks like it's only built for landing, not flying. It's completely destroyed from the impact and you wouldn't of left your pod if you could of simply taken off again.” Twilight stated, happy that she could prove her intelligence to 42.
“You're smart kid, I'll give you that. As for where to stay, I guess I'll camp out in the forest over there.” He said jutting his left dew claw over his shoulder and in the general direction of the Everfree forest. Everyone but him gasped out and started to protest at the same time.
“You can't... it's much too dangerous darling... ah won't hear of it.” They all tried talking above each other but he got the general idea.
“Okay, jeez. I'm more worried for the safety of whatever lives in there than my own. Although I could use the meat, all that fighting made me hungry.” The ponies all took a step back after hearing his sentence including the princess.
“Your a carnivore.” Twilight said as she took a step back with everyone else. She was immensely worried for her and the others well being if 42 got very hungry. But he only seemed to laugh again, only this time much harder.
“Oh heavens no, I'm not going to eat you.” he said wiping imaginary tears of mirth away from his faceplate. “Horse meat tastes terrible as it is and also I'm an omnivore, I can eat plants as well.” Everyone calmed but Applejack seemed a little offended at the fact that he just said they taste terrible.
“We're not Horses, we're Ponies.” Applejack stated as the others around her nodded at him. But he just shrugged his shoulders.
“Meh, same difference. You still taste terrible.”
“Hang on, how do you know what Horses taste like?” Rainbow asked with her strength returning. His tone took a more serious approach as he stood up from his kneeling position.
“That's a question I'll answer another time.” He said pointing towards a road where a large mob of ponies seemed to be advancing. “Right now, we have other issues.” The mob didn't seem to be an angry one, just a large collection of ponies spearheaded by the two guards whom Celestia had dismissed earlier.
“You can stay at my house. If that's alright with you?” The purple one said as she looked back over at him. Aidan didn't know their names or anything else about them really other than their looks but he could tell that the tall, white one must have been royalty from the crown upon her head.
“Yeah sure purple, lead the way.” He looked over at the tall one with the pastel white fur and long multicoloured mane that flowed like wind was blowing through it despite there being no breeze whatsoever that night.“ You might want to belay your subjects fears over the matter of my appearance your majesty.” She nodded at him as she approached her subjects.
It wasn't long until everything was smoothed over and no one would try to jump him. The purple one motioned for him to follow and Aidan nodded before picking up his drop pod above his head and began carrying it with him. It was bloody heavy but nothing a Spartan couldn't handle. Everyone starred at him, mouths practically dropping to the floor as he lumbered by with the pod held above his head.
“Well this is going to be interesting.” Aidan mumbled to himself as he followed the still amazed group of ponies through their small town and towards the purple ones home.
Remember to let me know what you think guys, positive and constructive comments are always useful.
Hey, I've tried fixing any grammar mistakes I found on the previous chapters and I've also added one or two more sentences to help clarify things but nothing you will miss out on. One comment stated the rather odd problem of the Elites actually still being sided with the Humans after the Covenant civil war. While I'm not trying to offend said person I am obliged to defend my work. In the book Halo: Glass-lands, a large part of the book is dedicated to the arbiter as he tries to win a political debate on whether Sangheili should side with or turn against the Humans. Most political members believe there is too much bad blood between the two species for an alliance to work whereas a few see the Humans as noble warriors worthy of being an ally. Unfortunately I don't remember the book clarifying at all that Arbiter and his fellow supporters actually won the debate and from the fact that it has been stated by 343 that you fight Elites in Halo 4. I have come to the conclusion that at least a majority of the Elites ended up reforming the Covenant to just deal with the Humans then break up to fight the other client species after. I do still hope that one or two Elites will be working with humans such as the Arbiter but as a species the Sangheili are once again at Humanity's throat for a second war of genocide.
Chapter 2: Speed Demon.
The walk was slow and Aidan's arms were starting to give out slightly from carrying the pod for about five minutes straight but he would not make himself look weak in front of these alien horses, or 'Ponies' as they liked to call themselves. He still couldn't trust him and they probably felt the same unless they were really stupid so conflict was just a spark away. Sticking to the back of the group he lugged the pod above his head like it was a set of extremely heavy weights and the others would only occasionally glance back at him before resuming their chats with each other. He could easily hear what they were talking about from his increased audio sensitivity augment but they weren't talking about anything particularly amazing, just what they thought of him mostly. The stars continued to shine brilliantly overhead as Aidan looked up, the scene was far more majestic than any planet he had previously witnessed space from. Of course nothing beat the scene actually from space and being amongst the nebulas as you soared along in a giant spacecraft. Deciding to spark some conversation between the two groups Aidan began talking to the closest two who were the purple and tall white ones.
“The night sky sure is lovely on this planet isn't it.” The two looked at one another then back at him before smiling and slowing down to walk next to him on either side, the tall one stepped to his left while the small purple one stepped to his right and they walked in pace with each other.
“Yes I suppose it is a lovely sky for a planet, although I really have nothing to compare it to.” The white one said in a very sweat and calm voice.
“What's it like being amongst the stars?” The small purple one asked. Aidan pondered this to himself for a moment with an audible 'hmmmm'.
“Well I guess it's pretty awe inspiring but I don't spend much time looking out a window when I'm in space so I miss most of it. I'm usually busy trying not to get my head blown off or training for the next time I almost get my head blown off.” He sighed at that thought. “Hell, I’m usually on a planet with my ass planted firmly in a ditch or in a piece of cover as plasma whizzes above my head.” The tall white one turned her head towards him with a quizzical yet serious look on her face.
“Whatever do you mean by that.” Aidan looked at her and then took a hand off the pod for a moment to grab his Storm Rifle from its back plate and gave it a light toss towards her. She caught it with her, what Aidan presumed to be magic and began spinning it around to get a look at it from all directions.
“It's an odd crossbow like weapon.” Was her brilliant deduction she came to. Aidan gave a loud groan before telling her to pull the small leaver in the back of the weapon while pointing it at the floor. She did so and jumped back and let out a loud 'Gah' as the weapon shot globules of plasma at the ground. The puddles of plasma quickly burned into the soft soil and left small holes and craters as the plasma evaporated into the air. Everyone had turned around and noticed the weapons actions at this point and eyed it with curiosity before turning back to talk to whoever they were talking with earlier.
“It looks like it launches blue lava.” The purple one stated. Aidan snatched the weapon back and reattached it to his back plate over the left shoulder blade. This was going to take a long time to explain some simple things to these ponies.
“Kind of, if you want to compare it to something that would probably be the best analogy but that’s not what it is at all.” He left it at that and they continued to walk on in silence for a minute when the tall, white one asked him another question.
“You said you spend a lot of time trying to not get your head blown off. Are you implying that your a soldier?” She didn't seem very happy about having to ask something so simple but there was no way of telling with an alien like him unless they asked.
“I am in fact a soldier but not of the conventional kind.”
“So what kind of soldier are you?” The purple one asked when they didn't hear him delve into any further details.
“Well, I can't tell you that much without voluntarily opting for treason and execution but in simple terms I am a super soldier called a 'Spartan' who is genetically augmented to be above the physical and mental capabilities of normal members of my species.” They seemed to be slightly taken aback by what Aidan had said.
“You mean your people messed with your body to make you better at killing other living things.” Said purple with a look of horror that was only matched by the look of miss priss to Aidan's left.
“Well... when you put it that way it sounds horrible but truth be told that's pretty much it. Although you are missing out on some key details.”
“What could possibly justify you killing innocent aliens for a living?!” The Orange one piped in after overhearing the last part of the conversation. The others seemed to of heard it too as they turned to face him with mixed looks between horror and anguish.
“Well for starters none of them are anywhere near innocent, maybe the Huragok but we try not to kill them unless absolutely necessary. Second I don't do it for the money, I do it to protect my species and those I love and care about. Finally I can't delve into many more details legally and will now ask that you don't delve into that subject again until I have thought about my decision on whether to tell you more or not!” His nostrils flared in anger as he finished saying this and they couldn't see his face but they could hear the honesty and anger in his voice. He would be damned if he let a bunch of aliens think he was on the evil side doing the merciless slaughtering. Sure, Humanity had been quite a savage race up until the Covenant war but that event had united them as a single species and almost completely ended squabbling amongst the members of his race. If anything the war had been Humanity's saving grace from self-destruction but it came at a terrible cost. Aidan looked over them as they all tried to evade his gaze with each look around.
“We're sorry about putting you on the spot like that 42 but we can't simply ignore a fact like that on such a peaceful planet. It's not a daily occurrence for ponies to kill each other in conflict on this world.” The white one seemed quite sincere about this as she tried to comfort him and apologise for their rudeness earlier.
“No, no it's fine. I should apologise, whether its for the defence of Humanity or just sport, killing is killing and I've done more than my fair share.” Aidan wasn't in a very good mood from that little endeavour but he felt as though he had broken some barriers between them. Against his better judgement he tried again. “So what about you guys, you seem to have three sub groups of your species but what’s with all the telekinesis stuff you use and the particle beams you shoot from your horns?” They discussed amongst themselves trying to figure out what he was on about.
“Are you questioning our ability to use magic?” The white one said.
“Matter of factly I am. We don't have 'magic', as much as I highly doubt that’s what it is. We just have good old UNSC engineering.” Aidan raised his tone as he boasted the last bit out.
“Well what other explanation do you have for our abilities?” Aidan faced the purple one as she asked this and he shrugged his shoulders, which was an incredibly hard thing to do when your carrying a large metal pod.
“I don't really know to be honest. I've seen other creatures and aliens who could do stuff like that but it was all explained through technology.” He noticed they had stopped outside a large tree that had been carved out so a house could be made from its interior space.
“Well, here we are. Welcome to my humble abode, which is also the local library.” The purple one stated as she walked up to the front door and began pushing the front door open.
“Uh, thanks for letting me stay here purple.”
“Please, call me Twilight.” Twilight said, mimicking 42's charm from one of their earlier discussions. The others all turned around to him and introduced themselves.
“Mah names Applejack, pleasure to meet yah 42.”
“Rarity darling, the pleasure is all mine.”
“My names Pinkie Pie but you can call me Pinkie!”
“Rainbow Dash fastest flier in all of Equestria.”
“And my name is Celestia, Princess and co-ruler of Equestria, the land you currently reside in.” Aidan thanked them for the introduction and settled his pod down next to the library and refocused his attention to the group.
“It's a pleasure to be properly acquainted although I have another little task that needs handling before I stay here for the night.” He jutted his thumb towards the Everfree. “My LRV landed in the forest you designated as Everfree and I need to pick it up. The process would be much quicker if a guide could accompany me.” Celestia was the first one to step forward followed by Twilight and Applejack.
“Thanks for all of you volunteering but one will be enough.” Aidan said this with a gratifying tone and rubbed the back of his neck as he broke the news. The white one still stood forward while the others stepped backwards again.
“I would be glad to accompany you through the Everfree 42. By the way, exactly what is an elarve?” Aidan chuckled at the confused look on her face and turned round while motioning for her to follow.
“First, it's an LRV not an elarve and second, you'll find out when we get there.” She shrugged and followed him.
“Suits me fine, I have to find my sister anyway. She went flying off into the forest to secure the second crash site anyway.”
“She's probably already found it then. I hope she doesn't mess with it too much.” They both laughed and jogged off in the direction of the forest, leaving the rest of the group to discuss what they had just experienced.
“Filthy, just filthy. Someone should really take it upon thyself to sort this abysmal forest into a much tidier location.” Luna grumbled as she untangled herself from the vines that hung from the canopy above. She had been trying to figure out how to open the strange metal container for almost twenty minutes now and every attempt had failed. This particular attempt had launched her back thirty metres into the canopy and she was busy trying to release herself from the mess she had created.
The device in mention was a large metal container which had been painted a horrid shade of green and seemed to be made of various materials encased in the metal shell. It was large and probably contained something important which was why Luna had been so eager to figure out just what lay inside in the first place. Seeing as her and Celestia had pulled it out of whatever realm it had resided in then the thing must be something rare or never before seen on this planet. It looked alien which meant that ponies could reverse engineer this and gain space travel. Luna practically squealed in delight at that thought. She had long dreamed of being able to travel amongst her brilliant stars since she was a little filly no more than a few centimetres high and she still held onto the belief that it was indeed possible, this craft just furthered her proof and provided a way to speed the process up.
Finally falling to the canopy floor with a loud 'thump' after untangling herself, she tried a more gentle approach as she walked up to the craft and began searching for some sort of switch she had missed in her earlier inspection. As luck would have it she found a small panel slightly buried by the dirt as the device had buried itself at a lopsided angle. One side rose into the air slightly while the other was pushed into the ground causing the thing to look like a sinking ship on land. Fully unearthing the panel with her magic she noticed that it was blue with a black border and the blue central part had white lines forming a grid over the blue colour. Sensing her presence the blue panel flared to life and stated in fluent Equestrian, one sentence.
“Please provide hand for scanning.” It spoke in an automated yet slightly feminine voice and Luna was completely gob smacked that it could speak Equestrian at all. Realising it required a hand for scanning which the only creature she knew of who had one was Spike, she simply shrugged and placed her hoof against the small panel. The panel ran a light up and down her hoof before beeping red.
“Incorrect print, please provide hand for scanning”. Luna huffed and tried again but was met with the same result. She tried with her other front hoof but still nothing different happened.
“Why wont thou work, thou infernal device.” It simply repeated what it had said earlier as a response and she let out an almighty roar of frustration as the talking panel continued to elude her of the amazing prize which sat within the container.
Aidan and the Princess had just reached the edge of the Everfree forest when the she pointed over to his left.
“Over there, I believe that is the home of one of Twilight's friends. Please hide somewhere while I tell her to meet the others at the library.” Aidan nodded and ran off into the bushes while fishing around in his tactical soft case for the active camouflage module. He understood why he needed to hide. Answering the door to a Princess and an alien wasn't always the best way to be surprised. He sat at the edge of the forest in a reasonably sized bush and waited as Celestia walked up to the front door of the converted tree and knocked. He activated the module as a small yellow pony opened the door slightly and peered outside before opening the door fully. Using his advanced hearing, Aidan was able to make out most of the conversation and fill the rest of the gaps with his mind.
“Oh Princess, I was just on my way to meet you and the others at the crash site of the meteorite. Is something wrong?” The small yellow one sounded quite timid and Aidan could only give an exasperated sigh as he found this whole planet to be full of rather shy and frail creatures. If he was going to stay here he needed to do some serious beefing to the local populace. Some sort of toughen up course.
“No, no Fluttershy, everything is taken care of now. I was just here to tell you that you should head back to the library while I join Luna at the second crash site.” The yellow pony nodded and walked back inside before walking back outside a few moments later with a bag full of something he couldn't see. The small yellow one waved at Celestia before leaving and Celestia waved back before nodding her head towards him, meaning that the coast was now clear. He stepped out before de-cloaking.
“I didn't know you could turn invisible.” She said in a rather surprised tone. Aidan just chuckled before walking back into the forest with her in a slightly different direction.
“All comes with technology my dear.” He pulled a rather posh tone as he said that last part and sent her into small yet controlled giggles.
“Quite the charmer aren't you 42.” She recovered her more regal formalities and began to trot alongside him at a brisk pace.
“Not really. I could never get further than a small fling whenever I tried getting a girlfriend. All of them said I was too uncooperative for any long term relationship.” He said this with a trace of mirth creeping into his voice. “Wouldn't of mattered anyway. When you sign up for being a Spartan you pretty much sign your life away.”
“Oh how so?” She seemed quite concerned by this little development. Aidan could understand her reaction but maybe she was over thinking it a little.
“Well, when your a Spartan they mess with your body like you figured out earlier. A side effect of one such augmentation made me sterile so family planning flew out the window instantly with that little trait. Also you tend to be sent on mission after mission until you die. That’s not to say there isn't a retirement plan for Spartans. All previous Spartans didn't of course, seeing as they were indoctrinated into the military permanently. My breed of Spartans however started off as normal people so we do have an option to quit after fifty years of service.”
“Fifty seems like a long time. That’s most of a ponies life.” She sounded quite sorry for Aidan but he didn't care to be honest.
“Well unlike your species, Humans live for about 150 years thanks to modern medical technology which slowed down the ageing process by fifty percent. We used to live to be about 100 at a maximum.” Celestia seemed very interested by this.
“Hmm. It seems Humans live a very long time, even naturally. Ponies only live for about 60 years at the most unless you wager something for immortality.” Aidan stopped dead in his tracks at the last part of the sentence.
“Wait, you can become immortal?!” Celestia was happy that she had something they did not in the field of abilities.
“Why yes. You can wager powerful artefacts to a Draconequus for immortality or other amazing boosts to your powers.” Aidan was quite impressed by this. Although despite being Atheist he found it disturbingly similar to ideas about bargaining ones soul to the Devil, he brushed it off as a silly thought and continued the conversation.
“So I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that you did something of the sort.” She looked guiltily at the floor and brushed her left front hoof against the ground, busted.
“Yes although it was a very long time ago and I bargained something I shouldn't have with a certain Draconequus who likes to pop up every now and then.” Aidan didn't want to make the situation any more awkward and so dropped that line of enquiry. They continued on into the forest until they could hear the moans of frustration coming from a feminine voice.
“That would be my sister.” Celestia said. “You better stay here while I break the news to her so she wont freak out and try attacking you.” Aidan nodded to her and activated his active camouflage before Celestia stepped out into the clearing.
“Luna, are you alright?” Aidan watched as the dark blue pony turned to face Celestia as she spoke across the clearing created by his vehicle pod.
“Oh sister, where has thou been. Surely it does not take an eternity to scout a meteorite.” The pony he had now identified as Luna, scanned her sister over with her eyes before turning back towards the pod and back to Celestia again. “It wasn't a meteorite was it.” Celestia closed her eyes and shook her head before pointing to me standing cloaked in the tree line.
“No it was not sister. May I ask you to keep calm as I show you what really crashed into Ponyville.”
Luna didn't quite follow what her sister meant until she noticed a blur slowly emerge from the tree line before making itself visible. Luna could only gasp as she observed the creature stood before her and would of thought things through more if not for the fact that she noticed it had hands. Looking back over at the pod something clicked in her mind and she turned back towards the alien as it approached her slowly.
Aidan wasn't sure how Luna would react to his approach but Celestia guided him onward with reassuring looks. He stepped in front of the blue pony and matched his size up to hers. She was noticeably smaller than her sister but still taller than all the other ponies he had encountered but even then she or Celestia didn't even reach his neck line as he towered above them like a metal giant. Taking a deep and long breath he finally exhaled before saying one simple thing.
“Hi.” That was all he needed to say before she grabbed his arm and pulled him towards the large metal container with a gleaming twinkle in her eyes. Helet her lead as she pressed his hand against the scanner pad and it read his fingertips before beeping out.
“Access granted. The package is at 95% integrity A-042. Please stand by as the container is being pressurised to the outside environment.” Luna leaped in joy as the panel said these words and stared at the main entrance with eager eyes as the contained gave a soft his. The hissing stopped and the front ramp descended, seeing as it was the only one not partially buried. Luna peered inside but was disappointed for some reason.
“What's gotten into you?” Aidan asked as she peered around to look for anything she may have missed earlier.
“It's just a strange chariot.” Was her reply. Aidan sighed at this then clambered into the container and hopped into the drivers seat. Celestia and Luna had joined him inside the container at this point and watched with curiosity as he ran a systems diagnostic to detect for damage in certain areas. The Warthog had lived up to its legend as no internal damage had been caused and all vital systems worked perfectly. The only damage had been to the actual body of the vehicle as small and loose parts had been ripped off in the impact.
“Well, are you getting in or not?” Aidan revved up the engine and it came to life with a majestic, gas guzzling roar. The two Princesses jumped back at the sound. They looked at him then the two seats in the back before clambering inside. To say the seats didn't fit them very well was an understatement. Sitting like they did on the seats would get them thrown out of the hog and killed in a sharp turn so Aidan told them to put on the seatbelts. They did as they were told and he looked back one more time before laughing.
“Oh your going to enjoy this!” He slammed his foot and the accelerator and the Hog lurched forward before jumping off the ramp which extended into the air. The Hog glided for a moment before slamming against the floor with a loud 'crunch' but the suspension handled it pretty well. The vehicle took off again at a speedy pace as it ploughed into the tree line and started nimbly darting between the spaced out trees with the grace of a leopard. Aidan could see the Princesses were terrified by the large mechanical contraption almost as if it were a roller-coaster ride. Then again, everyone said Aidan was the most aggressive driver aboard the Infinity. Ramping over a small tree which had recently collapsed they made their way to the location of the yellow ponies cottage and did a swift turn from there before heading in the direction of Twilight's library.
“So what do you think he looks like?” Twilight couldn't help but wonder this as they waited for the Princesses and 42's return. The group had been sat inside the library for a short while now and Fluttershy had joined them mere minutes ago before they explained the situation to her. She didn't seem to happy about meeting an alien until they managed to convince her it was friendly for now.
“Ah think he's scaly, you can't be that tough without having tough skin. Maybe he has an outer shell instead of bones.” Applejack was rubbing her chin as she said this but Rarity didn't seem impressed by this deduction.
“I doubt it Applejack, he was brutal at first but has shown a kind side. No bug I know of can be that social or friendly.” Rarity never had a thing for bugs and Twilight could only moan and grumble at her prejudice.
“Well forgive me if I'm wrong Rarity but he isn't exactly something we have much experience with.” Twilight stated as she debunked Rarity's theory.
“Maybe he's soft and covered in fur, like us.” Fluttershy said with a barely audible peep.
“I like AJ's idea better.” Spike had been with them since they had entered the library and was now busy day dreaming about how he could become a hero like this alien was.
“I'm more interested about his build.” Rainbow Dash proclaimed. “I mean remember how strong he was and how quickly he moved. He must have arms like tree trunks under that armour.”
“He said something about augmentations to his body so a lot of his strength is probably hidden Rainbow.” Twilight wasn't paying much attention to Rainbow's ideas but she couldn't help but feel like they were missing something from their guess work. Then it hit her.
“42 had hands!” Everypony stared at her after she shouted this out.
“So?” Rainbow replied.
“Don't you get it. He doesn't have hooves like us so he's not equine in nature. He doesn't have paws so he's not feline, no claws means not a reptile or lizard but he has hands so that must mean he's similar to monkeys and apes.” Everypony just pieced the evidence together in their heads before agreeing with her as they nodded their heads at each other.
“But what about his legs then. If those are arms and hands then what are those things sticking from his legs?” Fluttershy couldn't think of anything she knew about that had different sets of body parts between the limbs. In her experience they either had four paws, claws or hands, not two of one thing and two of another. She was about to raise this point when a large 'thrumming' sound could be heard from outside. Peering out the windows, the group watched in awe as a large, green chariot sped its way along the dirt roads of Ponyville without anything pulling it. The chariot got closer and they could see 42 sitting at the front left and the Princesses holding on for dear life in the back.
Aidan pulled hard on the handbrake and skidded the Hog into a nice parking position by the library before stopping the engine and climbing out the drivers seat. He stretched his arms and peered around the side of the vehicle to see Luna and Celestia shakily step out of the vehicle, looking as though they were about to up chuck everywhere.
“Enjoy the ride?” He couldn't help but let a little laugh out as they stumbled around trying to stabilize themselves on the floor. He locked the vehicle down and stepped towards the front door of the library before Rainbow Dash came barrelling out and shot straight into him. There was a loud 'clang' as she impacted head first onto his chest plate and the metal rang slightly as the vibrations died away. Rainbow rubbed her head on the floor before looking up and giving a sheepish grin.
“Heh heh, sorry.” Aidan just shrugged and picked her up from under her forelegs and holding her out in front of him. The others stepped out and walked over to the Warthog. They were impressed by the design, especially Rainbow and twilight, both for separate reasons. Twilight saw it as the future of science so was very eager to figure out how its internal components worked. Rainbow like it on the other hand for the simple fact that it went fast, faster than a normal Warthog because of the reduced weight without the mounted weapon.
“You gotta teach me how to ride it.” Rainbow said with a gleaming smile and eyes as wide as saucers, Aidan found it incredibly creepy.
“Heh, no way in hell squirt.” Rainbow's smile turned sour as she heard the familiar nickname used on her for a change. The others merely laughed at this but Aidan didn't get the joke. The Princesses had stabilized their stomachs at this point and approached the others.
“That was an... interesting experience 42.” Celestia said before walking inside. Luna walked up to him and extended a hoof for him to shake. He stooped over slightly and returned the gesture.
“42. Pleasure to meet you.”
“Luna. Charmed.” Luna gave him one look up and down and the saying something else. “I would like to find some things out 42.” He nodded and stepped inside with her in tow, leaving the Hog and pod by the front entrance.
Gah, writing can be so hard when you have serious writers block. I'm probably going to rewrite this at some point in the future but the current result will do for now. And before any comments are made on the quality, yes I know it's bad and I will fix it at some point. Expect the next chapter to improve.
I took a little more time with this one to think thoroughly about how I wanted to present 42 and the others as individuals. Personalities will match more towards their actual persona from the show and 42 will become more 'Spartan' like. If you want an excuse for previous deviations from character, put it down to stress from the situation. That's all for now people. Thanks for your cooperation and attention to this story. -SuperIntendant
Chapter 3: Humans? Sounds Dangerous.
Twilight observed diligently as she sketched 42 while he twisted and furled a knife between his... eer fingers. The group had been sitting, or standing in 42's case, in the library for about twenty minutes now, where Twilight and Celestia had politely asked him questions for about ten minutes before they realised he would not give any more information on the topics they had pressed on other than what he had told them previously that night and some meagre scraps of information in this room such as his species name, Human. He had also labelled some basic body parts to help them with their confusion on his plentiful digits and such but Twilight had a hard time remembering them all as she attempted to label the sketch she had drawn out. She had no idea what he looked like under the armour so she just sketched him in his combat attire and labelled that instead. Applejack asked him as to why he was so reluctant about giving so much away he explained that his training dictated to never give any info to the unknown and all interaction up to this point had been a gross violation of this artificial instinct. Rainbow still wasn't very comfortable around him, not that any of them were but she was the most aggressive at this point and every time she tried to get in his face he would simply point the knife at her and she would sit back down. Twilight saw this as incredibly rude and dangerous of a creature but then again maybe all Humans interacted with each other violently. Twilight turned to face the Princesses who shared similar looks of perplexity as they tried to think of a way to mingle some explanations out of his mind. Celestia's and Luna's horns lit up as they began to talk to one another telegraphically and twilight soon joined in.
'How do you suppose we got about this?' Celestia called through the spacial void of thought.
'Perhaps it would be best if thou started on a lighter topic.' Luna had worry etched on her face as she realised that 42 was now observing them. While she was sure that he could not read their thoughts he would still see the glowing horns among the trio as a rather odd occurrence and could take it the wrong way. Twilight pitched into the conversation at this point.
'I agree with Luna. We have to build up his comfort around us. One wrong move and we could all end up chocked of life by his rather menacing weapons. His body is also nothing to take lightly. Celestia nodded at Luna who in turn nodded at Twilight. They all turned to face 42 and Celestia spoke up.
Aidan watched with peaked curiosity as the three horned ponies conducted what would be telepathy at a guess. While they may be able to hide their actual words Aidan could always derive the point of the conversation from their body language. That is if Pony body language worked in a similar state to that of a Human. The mind conversation transpired quite quickly and the three ponies turned to face him as the other ponies re-drew their attention after discussing quietly amongst each other. The tall, white one was the first to speak.
“So 42, what of Human culture then?” Aidan wasn't sure what exactly they wanted to know but culture as a whole would be a good way to settle in with these ponies as long as he steered well clear of sensitive areas and things that may frighten them. He would pick his answers carefully.
Twilight was happy to see that 42 had eased up a bit as his stance loosened just a titch and he sheathed his knife to cross his arms.
“My answer depends on what you want to know.” he replied which seemed fairly justified to Twilight. There were some things she probably didn't want to know about a species who could turn one of their members into such an efficient killing machine. Twilight was about to ask something but rarity jumped at the chance to get her questions answered. No doubt it would be fashion related.
“What about fashion darling. I would adore to hear about trends among the stars.” her eyes beamed at 42 as he reaching for a small device on his wrist and tapped it twice before a blue light radiated from it. Rarity seemed to annoyed that he was ignoring her question and when she began to speak again he held up a finger to silence her. She crossed her forelegs with an audible 'hmmph' and 42 continued to tap and drag one of his fingers down the device but none of them could see what he was doing. 42 then reached into his pouch on his left thigh and pulled out a small, brownish cuboid almost identical in looks to one on the small of his back where his tail should be. He tapped the device once more and the circular yellow light on top of the cuboid flashed twice in response. He then tossed it to the ground and pressed the device one final time. The small cuboid on the floor emitted a blue tinted light which grew more and more opaque until it looked almost as though the blue cone of light was solid. The cone was quickly filled with the 3D images of some, what she assumed to be, Human clothing items. They rotated before the group as they admired the handy work of 42's magical cuboid. Rarity 'squeed' with delight and quickly began to jot down the clothes key features in a small design book she had kept on her that night. Twilight was impressed that Humans could do so much 'magical' things with technology but 42 hadn't finished and she listened attentively as he explained the clothing.
“Yeah, so Humans like to keep things relatively simple because flashy is seen as quite tacky amongst us. Also last time I checked before shipping out, navy blue was the 'in' colour.” Rarity finished her jottings with an annoyed tut. If what 42 was saying was true then half her clothes would be looked upon with disgust by those around her should she ever go into space. Twilight used the gap in conversation to put her question forward.
“What about education, how does that work with Humans?” 42 pondered this a second to himself as he picked his words carefully for the answer.
“We do twelve years mandatory from the age of four but you can do much more with other courses which can go on for up to an extra thirty years. Only careers like fusion drive engineers need to go in that long but military counterparts only need to repair them so the course is much shorter. That's all I can say on that topic.” Twilight was impressed at how highly Humans valued education. She supposed it wouldn't be possible to get to where they are now without it though so high education was probably a no brainer. Luna took her turn with a question.
“And what of thou's free time? What does thou do for entertainment?” Pinkie picked up on this question especially and bounced in anticipation as she waited to listen how Human enjoyed themselves and threw parties. If they did throw parties that is.
“Well, plenty of people enjoy video games and sports but I think the night life and music are where it's really at for the time being.” Luna was eager to understand the concept of 'Night Life'. Ponies had a few after dark bars but probably nothing compared to these Humans if it was the big thing going down at the moment. Perhaps Humans were nocturnal. Luna decided to push further with her question.
“What do you mean by 'Night Life' exactly?” 42 didn't see this as a harmful question and went into a large explanation on the whole concept of night clubs and the accompanying music, such as house tracks and Electronica. Pinkie was especially interested in Humanity's ideas on how to throw a proper party. It all seemed rather involved with large amounts of alcohol with ratings so high that a shot would probably kill a pony. Applejack smirked at the last part.
“Well shoot, ah was hoping to see you plastered but if you drink stuff as strong as rubbing alcohol then ah won't get to see a real party animal.” 42 chuckled slightly at this. Twilight was relieved he was starting to open up to them a little, if only a tiny bit, progress was being made. Celestia was fascinated with what music humans could produce with instruments they surely didn't have and she was eager to learn.
“42, you wouldn't happen to have any songs from your species on you?” Celestia was patient on the outside but was looking forward to hearing new styles of music, one of her favourite pass times whenever she could get a chance to have some freedom from the royal Canterlot duties she would attend a concert in disguise as another pony with her magic or would request a song from the palace orchestra. 42 tapped the device on his left wrist again and it lit up once more with a soft glow as he shuffled his fingers over the surface, all the while talking to Celestia.
“Well, I personally am not a massive fan of the modern artists bar a few but I have plenty of songs from the 2000s. Hang on let me play you something a bit more recent first... 'ah' here it is.” He tapped the screen once and music began to build up out of thin air, Celestia guessed he was playing the song through some speakers in his armour. Most likely the ones he talked out of.
“Now this song is a brilliant revitalisation of old classical but adding new aspects to modernise it. Composed by one of my favourites, Martin O'Donnell, 2416-2517.” The song began to pick up as Celestia listened to the classical style she knew taken and twisted into something she had never quite heard and the weird guttural choir voices from the Humans were a nice touch to. The ponies sat there in silence and listened to the 'very' powerful music flowing through the room. What Celestia assumed to be violins picked up and produced a sound so unique and beautiful it would make Octavia blush and become jealous. Celestia observed 42 as he drummed his fingers on his chest plate to the music. It was quite obvious that he loved the particular track because he did not miss a single beat as his fingers tapped the inspiring tune. The music came to a peaceful close and the ponies clapped at the amazing tune they had just heard. They all agreed, Humans could make beautiful music. Twilight was amazed by what Humans could create despite their, so far violent nature, on the outside. Of course if any of them wanted to fully gain his trust and hopefully friendship, then they would have to answer some questions for him. Twilight cleared her throat.
“So 42, we've heard about your culture what would you like to hear about ours?” Twilight pulled several encyclopedias from the book shelf as she said this and hovered them around 42. He observed the front covers before taking the Equestrian Encyclopedia of history. He began lightly flicking through the pages as Twilight continued to talk. “History is always a good start, I could teach you about the Princesses and how they raise the Sun and Moon but I think they would be better suited for that.” Luna beamed at her chance to show off to this foreign creature and present her words of wisdom about the land of Equestria but the creature named 42 had other ideas.
“Woah, woah, woah. Back up a bit. Did you say those two ponies.” He pointed over at Luna and Celestia who shifted their gaze away from him as he scrutinized them. “Those ponies right there... move the Sun and the Moon? I think you may be mistaken for some simple physics there darling.” 42's half stoic attitude faltered there for a second as he stated it like they were blithering idiots. Celestia was the first to reply.
“Whatever do you mean by such a statement.” Celestia could see the annoyance on Luna's face as 42 questioned their ability to perform one of their most vital roles.
“I mean that there is no such thing as a geocentric solar system and what Twilight said there seems to give off the impression of medieval intelligence and understanding of the Universe around you.” He grabbed a piece of paper and a quill from the nearby table and passed them to the group. “Draw me how you think the solar system works.” Celestia and especially Twilight were getting a little agitated at this point by his rather blunt attitude towards them on this subject.
“Thy does not see how you can question thee's ability to raise the Sun and Moon, surely someone does those tasks for thou on thou's planets.” Luna let this out with a snarl as she took the quill from the group and scribbled a quick diagram on how the solar system worked. She passed the paper over to 42 along with the quill, he examined it before flipping the paper over and drawing his own model and pushing it back towards the group. They observed it but Luna and Twilight instantly guffawed at such a model and turned back to him as Celestia continued to examine it in silence.
“How can you draw such an inaccurate model of the solar system? How would the Sun be raised everyday if we orbit it?” Twilight was confused at this new revelation and slightly taken aback that an alien who travelled through space could get something so simple so wrong. Luna spoke up next.
“Surely this is a mockery and thou's version of a practical joke? There is no way thou's idea could work.” 42 crouched down before them in a menacing manner.
“Oh and it's more believable that two ponies move gargantuan objects in space but the more powerful of the two couldn't even pin me to a wall? Answer me that Luna.”
Luna jumped right into Aidan's 'grill' as anger exploded across her face.
“Thou will silence thou's tongue before the true power of an Alicorn is tested on a certain blue object.” This pony meant business and Aidan was willing to meet her half way as he tensed his fists. These ponies were trying to call him out on something so simple to grasp and were treating him like the idiot.
“Bring it bitch. I've faced grunts who are more intimidating than you.” That plucked the last straw and Luna dug her hind legs into the ground to lunge at 42 but before she could so much as move 42 leaped atop of her and brandished his knife in his right hand. He brought it down before anyone could stop him and Luna yelped in surprise expecting to feel the sharp pain of Knife entering her neck but instead felt a cool sensation and the side of the blade brushed against her fur. Turning her head she could see 42 had pinned her to the floor by a large ornate chest piece she had decided to wear today. The knife had went right through the tough metal and into the wooden floor. Luna was amazed if anything that a creature could even do that to a metal such as Deratium (Element found only on the planet of Equis). 42 stood up and Twilight forced a bit of space between the two as Applejack and Rainbow worked on pulling the knife from the floor.
“Pinkie lend me an Rainbow a hand. He wedged it proper into the ground.” Pinkie Pie bounced over to the two ponies and helped them remove the small blade from the ground, it would have been a short-sword by pony standards but for a Human it was quite short in comparison. Twilight scolded 42 in the corner now but he didn't seem to care as he looked over at Celestia. She had jumped from the sudden violent outburst but now continued to observe the diagram as she tried to figure out how both groups could to be right. Celestia doubted that 42 would have a reason to lie about such a thing but then again you couldn't protest with the evidence of her and Luna raising and lowering the massive objects every day and night. She sighed and gave up for the night.
“We all seem to be a bit high strung at the moment as one would expect from such an event. Why don't we rest for the night and consolidate on our thoughts in the morning?” Everyone but 42 nodded at this but she didn't get a no either and all the ponies cleared a space on the floor from 42 to sleep but he went over to the north wall and slumped in the corner, well clear of any of them. Celestia rubbed her temples at the action. He was making it difficult for any sort of peace to take a full effect. The other ponies returned to their various sleeping bags and settled in for the night. Twilight flicked the light switch with her magic but the room still had a faint blue glow emanating from the dim lights over 42's armour. Twilight watched as he pulled purple weapon from his back and cradled it in his arms before leaning his head against the wall and fell into what she assumed to be sleep. She couldn't tell why but his presence oozed am atmosphere of protection despite being an incredibly violent creature, she batted the thoughts away an laid her head on her pillow to catch a good nights sleep.
Dreaming, that was it, dreaming. But why did she still feel so terrified. Luna ran and ran as the large blue monster chased her at a steady pace through the warped and twisted Everfree forest. The creature was a mangled environment of 42 but in place of his helmet was the terrifying face of a soulless and merciless alien warrior as a sinister smile worked across its face. The twisted delusion of her mind seemed to revelling in the chase and was on purposely letting Luna wear herself out so the fight at the end of the chase would be that much easier. It pulled the long metal weapon from its back that Luna hadn't seen in action yet. The tip of the barrel was replaced by the small head of a wolf and the creature pulled the trigger to spout large swaths of flame as the Princess of the Night. She continued to narrowly evade the jets of flame and she felt tears begin to trickle down her cheeks as death harried her from a few metres behind. She was so occupied on dodging the flames that she hadn't noticed the large log the intersected the path. He forelegs tripped on the large piece of wood and she went flying forward before face planting the floor. She tried to get up but a large boot was placed on her back and pushed her back down to the floor.
The new 42 grunted with happiness as he spun her onto her back with his left foot and brought the boot down carefully on her fragile neck as to make sure he didn't break it and end her life so quickly. She watched in terror as he laughed at the tears rolling down her face. He pulled a rusty knife from a sheath on his chest and began bellowing a hearty laugh with slowly morphed into a cackle.
“So weak, just like the rest of them.” Luna winced at these words and this only made 42 laugh harder. He reached his left hand behind his back and pulled a large chain seemingly out of nowhere. It jingled and 'clinked' in the soft breeze and on every loop of the chain sat a rusty hook. Some where caked in dry blood while others held a much more horrifying cargo. The heads of all she held dear swayed in the breeze as they were all impaled upon some of the rusty metal hooks. There was one hook which was actually clean and 42 pointed at it with his knife.
“Guess what's going on there then.” he practically chuckled as he said this. She screamed with all her might as a large hand descended upon her slowly and blocked her vision off completely. She felt cold metal press against her throat and with one swift motion it was yanked against her flesh.
This chapter took way to long for something so short. I actually re-wrote this 3 time and each version was massively different from the other but now I have an idea in how to fill all the little gaps in loop holes in my story so writing will be that much easier. Everything will have a knock on effect, so you know... don't miss something and read the chapters properly.
I must say that I'm mighty impressed with the formal deductions being made about this story, although at the same time your giving me ideas on how to further improve on the story. It was one persons comment which caused a spark in my brain which quickly spawned an answer to a problem I found I had with the story's plot for later. I would like to thank you all for the mostly positive feedback and would like to assure you all that I have no intention of making this like every other 'Halo:HiE'. I'm not saying there aren't good ones. Just a few of them seem to stand to an invisible set of rules about how Celestia and Luna must be the most powerful beings blah blah blah and so on. Things are going to enter a small dull stage with little action but this is just a build up, trust me on that. On another note I am now oddly having dreams about my story. While they do seem fun at first my mind has warped them to stuff you would pee your pants in fear about. Luna's nightmare became my nightmare. LOL. Keep reading and writing people.
Chapter 4: So I Heard You Like Hands.
It was 4a.m in the morning and a light breeze wafted the brilliant smell of apples as the wind carried into town from Sweet Apple Acres. The sun still had quite some time until it needed to be risen from its peaceful slumber and all ponies followed suit as they rested throughout the night in their small beds, one pony was not in her bed. One small, mint green pony should not have even been out and about while the sky was so dark but still she ventured on. Lyra pressed her muzzle against the window of Twilight's house and peered inside. Surely enough she could make out the faint silhouettes of all the ponies she knew well but that wasn't what she was looking for. Scanning the other side of the room she made out her target. Her tongue lolled out of her mouth and began salivating down the window. She pushed her tongue back into her mouth with her right hoof and began looking around for an entrance into the building without alerting anyone. She trotted clockwise around the outside of the building looking some way to gain entrance and quickly found her eyes settling on an open window leading out to a balcony one story above her. Focusing all her magic into her horn she teleported up to the balcony with a soft 'pop' and pulled the window open gently before creeping inside. Looking around the room she discovered that this must have been Twilight's bedroom, thanking Celestia that Twilight wasn't in here she continued on her way through the house.
Aidan sat there in total silence as his mind wrapped all its processing power around the events that had transpired that night. He had slept for little under an hour which wasn't the best amount of sleep to have when you needed to be sharp and alert but his chemically enhanced mind took it well as it drew conclusions on how to deal with it all. The ponies seemed peaceful enough and it would be best to keep it that way. He sat there and watched as the blue Princess pony Luna thrashed and turned in her sleep letting out soft whimpers. She was obviously having nightmares but Aidan thought better of it not to wake her up and interfere with a delicate balance. He mentally reprimanded himself for his actions against her earlier. While she had been quite brash and ignorant of someone who clearly would have a better understanding of space than her, it was him who had went over the top by pinning her to the floor with his knife. He was never brilliant at negotiating and any time he was assigned to field interrogation the subject would often end up dead before any information could be spilled. People said he was too rough but god damn it, he was a Spartan not a diplomat. It was his job to be excessively violent to the opposition not open nice and peaceful talks with them.
He sighed gently and attached the Storm Rifle to its magnet clamps on the left side of his back. He pulled the Magnum side-arm from his right thigh plate and began studying it for damage. Nothing serious had been dealt to the weapon other than a few scratches and Aidan was happy with that. He wouldn't be able to resupply his weapons so every bullet counted. A broken Magnum would mean a third of his ammunition was wasted. He had packed two extra power cells for the Storm Rifle and one cell was equivalent to how much a marine could carry of AR ammo, so he was probably going to be relying on that the most. 'Pop'
Aidan's eyes shot up in an instant as he heard the sound and grew even more edgy as his motion tracker picked up one lone red blip coming from above and behind him. He knew this house worked a bit like a studio apartment so most of the house was connected without walls. He also knew that he had his back placed firmly against the wall which also housed the stairs that ascended above him. His mind came to the logical conclusion that something was trying to get the drop on him. He didn't move and tried to suss out what it was through sound alone. Nothing. He couldn't hear anything, yet the red blip was still there, moving around just enough to be picked up and then 'poof' the red blip was gone. Aidan was about to rise and face the potential threat when a small owl swooped into the room and landed near Twilight and the small purple dragon. Aidan's mind was assuaged by the revelation that it was just an owl. He still hadn't moved a muscle other than swapping weapons and still looked as though he was sleeping so the owl continued to ignore him and nestled in-between Twilights forelegs and sat there.
Satisfied in his knowledge that the commotion was caused by the small bird Aidan closed is eyes and relaxed. He sat there for a few more minutes in pure silence until the micro fibres in his left glove relayed the sensation of warm moisture dripping over his hand. His eyes opened immediately and observed as a thick yet clear liquid ran down from above and drizzled all over his left hand. Slowly but surely Aidan pulled the hammer back on his Magnum in his right hand without the disturbance noticing the change in his position he prepared himself to spin and shoot. The drizzle grew more intense and Aidan took that as his cue to act. Jumping from the floor rather explosively he brought the handgun up and fired a few shots upwards in random trajectories to confuse the creature that had decided to drool all over him. A blur of mint green shot from over the edge and landed right on his helmet but quickly shifted position as it clawed its way down his right arm. Aidan now realised it was another pony and refrained from trying to kill it but he still needed to dislodge it from his arm. He shook like a bucking bronco but the pony held tight and continued edging its way down his arm until it was right in front of his hand. The pony darted its head around the hand to observe it from all angles before pulling a hacksaw out of nowhere.
“Shit!” Aidan yanked it off his arm and threw it across the room, waking all the other ponies up, who had yet to fully awaken, rather violently. They were all groggy and terrified as they saw the pony fly across the room and land with a 'thump' against a bookshelf. It tried to rise but was then buried in an avalanche of books. Celestia was the first to act as she lifted the pile of books off the mint green pony while Twilight levitated the pony in a purple aura. The green pony thrashed and twisted in the aura before pointing over at Aidan.
“No fair, I called dibs on those hands!” The green pony pouted as Aidan pulled his hands behind his back. The small pony was obviously deranged and absolutely stark raving mad. Twilight floated the green pony to her meet her face and talked with a soft tone to appease the green unicorn.
“Lyra, what were you trying to do?” The hacksaw made it painstakingly obvious but Twilight wanted to make sure. Lyra blushed and started twiddling with the hacksaw.
“Uh, y'know... getting some... uh hands.” She finished the last part with a sheepish grin and Twilight just rubbed her temples before walking over to the front door.
“Lyra, now is not the time to be goofing around. I'll talk to you about this tomorrow.” She deposited Lyra outside and she tried to reply but Twilight slammed the door in her face. She walked over to the rest of the group and closed the window which Lyra had originally climbed in from, with her magic. With all entrances closed she settled down.
“Darling, what you did to Lyra there was quite rude!” Rarity didn't seem to understand just quite what had happened and only saw that whole fiasco as unnecessary rough housing.
“Ugh... Rares I'm just not going to bother going through all the explaining it would take to make you understand.” Rarity let out and easily audible 'hmmph' as she laid down again. Twilight turned around to face 42. He didn't seem to disturbed by the random attack from Lyra but she thought that he grasped that she was completely psychotic. He sat down with his smaller 'L' shaped weapon and his knife in hand this time and just sat there rather than trying to sleep. 'Great, we've spooked him', was all Twilight could think as she rested her head against the pillow and faced in his direction. He seemed to be looking around the place with noticeable movement of his head until he settled his vision on Luna who had been staring at him for quite some time now. He waved his hand to gauge her attention as she seemed to be a bit zoned out and she snapped right back before blushing visibly and lying back down but facing away from him. Twilight didn't think anything of it.
Hours passed and Aidan just sat there not moving a muscle as his mind was in a state of conscience limbo. He could observe everything that was going around him and he could snap out at any moment but time flew in this tranquil state. He wasn't taking any more chances with the potential threat of more deranged ponies being nearby. Something rustled in the corner of his vision and he snapped out the trance to identify who was moving. The tall white one known as Celestia got up and stretched before opening her mouth and yawning. She looked over at him and cocked her head as she figured out whether he was sleeping or not. Thinking he was still asleep she set of up the stairs to his left and escalated to the second floor which housed the balcony.
Now she was out of sight, Aidan jumped to his feet and scaled the wall silently and hoisted himself over the edge and onto the second floor which was, what he presumed to be, Twilights bedroom. He stood up and walked behind Celestia like a phantom as she stepped out onto the balcony and began emitting a brilliant, almost blinding glow from her horn and pointed it at the moon which had almost sunk completely over the horizon. She discharge the building energy as a translucent beam which connected with the moon and she tugged her head downwards dragging the moon in her general movement. Aidan's mouth swung open inside his helmet and he had to physically shut himself up before his brain said something stupid. Celestia then pulled her head back up and the sun began making its own ascent across the sky as a yellow tone of light came with the brilliant sunrise. Celestia turned around with a mildly happy smile stretching across her lips. She noticed him standing there and walked up to him.
“Ah, 42. I hadn't realised you were up yet, if I had known you were awake earlier I would have invited you to watch but you seemed to have observed it for yourself. Care to tell me what you think.” Aidan stood there without saying anything for several moments. What he had just observed broke almost every simple law of physics. To hell with it, these ponies in general seemed to be able to break the simplest laws of reality in general.
“I... uh... no... but............... how?!” He stammered out several different questions before cutting them off and finally reaching the one word. Celestia chortled in a very regal manner.
“Oh dear, I seemed to have confused you slightly. No matter, me an Luna meant it when we said we could raise the sun and moon. On another note I think it would be best to wake the other and continue with our introduction to each other. The town must be made fully aware of your presence and adjusted to it so you can walk about without being herded off by an angry mob.” Aidan snapped out of it and mentally reprimanded himself for such a stupid reaction to such a critical matter. It still amazed him though, someone should really get the Pope on the line, asap. Walking down the stairs with Celestia at his side they soon discovered most of the others had awoken now and were going about their own various tasks. Twilight was searching through an encyclopedia on mythical animals. Rainbow Dash ans Applejack were arm wrestling while Pinkie, Fluttershy and Rarity talked quietly in a corner. The only one who wasn't awake was Luna, though she seemed to be rolling in her sleep. Something in her head was definitely rustling her jimmies.
Celestia walked over and started to lightly shake the blue pony with her right fore-hoof. Luna continued to mumble in her sleep and suddenly bolted upright with a shout of terror. She was sweating profusely and Celestia rested a foreleg on Luna's shoulder.
“Sister, are you alright?” Luna shifted her gaze from the floor to Celestia.
“Oh its, ah...” She shifted her gave to Aidan and her eyes visibly widened. “Nothing, nothing really. Just a bad dream.” Celestia wasn't buying it but she left it for now.
“Well then sister we best prepare for another 'interesting' day.” Celestia walked over to her own sleeping bag before pulling four hoof cups, a chest piece and a crown of the floor. She put them on and gave her man a flick to sort lose strands in the right direction. Luna did likewise but with much less grace and Aidan planted his back against the wall while he waited for the group to finish their morning preparations.
“42, would you care to join us for breakfast?” Celestia seemed genuinely interested in having a meat eater like himself at the breakfast table but he had to decline.
“Thanks but no thanks. I need to go and do some 'shopping' as it were, if I want to eat like a Spartan should.” None of them seemed very happy about what he was implying, especially Fluttershy. Aidan made a step for the door but Fluttershy bolted in front of him and stood her ground.
“No I wont let you kill little animals.” Aidan looked down at her and she visibly shrunk under his gaze. “That is if you let me stop you.” Aidan didn't like being told what he could and couldn't eat by this small yellow pony but he would have to suck it up and deal with it for now if he wanted the peacefulness to last between the two groups.
“Ugh, fine I wont hunt any animals this time. But let me past so I can fetch a nutrient stim from my supplies.” She jumped with joy, defying gravity and latched onto my chest plate with a big hug before realising what she was doing and instantly let go. She scurried off towards her friends and Aidan stepped out of the door and into the cool morning air.
Twilight and the others turned around and headed into the kitchen/ dinning room. It was the only part of the house which was walled off from the other areas. They all sat around a particularly high table by pony standards and sat on separate stools. Spike and Owloysius had already prepared the mornings breakfast of oatmeal made of the finest ingredients to satisfy the princesses, refined taste. Large bowls filled with the food was passed to each pony and they happily dug in. Some acting rather civilised in the manner they ate, others... not so much. 42 entered shortly with a small bag in his hands. He took up the last available stool as it groaned under his weight and sat bolt upright. He still towered over them despite sitting down, the only person now level with him was Celestia herself. Twilight was intrigued as to what was in the bag but Rainbow beat her to it.
“Hey 42, what's in the bag?” 42 opened the flap and pulled out several large injection needles with incredibly long prongs. Rainbow Dash freaked out and ducked under the table before slowly rising over the table and letting out a nervous laugh. “Uh, just ignore that happened.” Twilight and the other ponies laughed gently in unison at the comedy which had just ensued and all turned their attention back to 42 as he sifted through them. Some held clear liquids, others had various purples, greens and blues. Picking one with a blue liquid inside he proceeded to tap the device on his wrist again and small sparks erupted from his armour as some sort of invisible energy barrier dissipated around him. 42 reached up to his neck and unbuckled a few clamps. Peeling open a section of his suit around his neck he was revealed to have no fur and rather just a fleshy coloured surface that was probably his skin. Large red and blue veins could be seen lightly under the surface and a jagged scar was visible that stretched down and to the right across his neck, slowly approaching his shoulder blades.
“Uh what are ya doing with that needle?” Applejack stated as she observed him rubbing his skin. “Ah'm just saying it looks a little too big to even...” She was cut off as 42 jammed the needle into his neck and pushed it in deeply. Rainbow and Rarity fainted and fell of their stools while 42 pushed down on the plunger and injected all the liquid into his blood stream. Twilight and the others stared with mouths agape at such a large display of courage. Most people hated needles on this planet and no one would inject themselves but 42 had just done it like it was no big deal with a needle longer than a dagger. “Wow.” Applejack whispered to herself while Twilight looked over at Rainbow and Rarity as they were helped off the floor by Pinkie and Fluttershy. Fluttershy looked very green in the face but had managed to keep the contents of her stomach in its place while she re-cooperated herself. His red veins temporarily turned blue and the blue ones stood out even more but their original colours quickly faded back. 42 didn't seem to give two bucks as he clipped the patch back up and looked down at the others across the table.
“What?” He asked in a confused voice. Twilight and the others all looked away a little before turning back with less stunned faces. Luna was the first to talk.
“Was it necessary for thou to use such a large needle?” 42 shrugged at this.
“Hell if I know, they're supposed to be applied through injection ports in the armour but direct application always works better.” Luna was content with this answer but had lost her appetite as she pushed away the remains of her food with a queasy look on her face. Celestia was the only pony who continued eating after the strange event as all the others including her had done likewise. Twilight had to give her mentor props, she had an iron will, and stomach, when she wanted to. The small device on 42's left wrist beeped twice with a blue light and started talking with a metallic voice.
“Nano serum has completed basic scans. Blood dilation, optimal levels. Poisons in system, zero percent. Ion and nutrient levels, low. It is advised that you take a high nutrient meal immediately to reduce risk of body crash.” 42 tapped the screen and sighed.
“Thanks for stating the obvious tacpad. That was a waste of supplies, oh well.” 42 fished around inside the small pouch once again and pulled out several small bars wrapped in plastic. The plastic was grey and had no images or text on it whatsoever other than a small logo which looked like a pyramid with a circle going around the outside. Twilight was the first to pick up it was food and another small problem.
“Uh 42.” He looked up at her before setting down the bars. “How are you going to eat those exactly?”
“Simple.” He put his hands up to his helmet and clicked several buttons around the rim that met the neck and gave a soft yank as he slowly pulled the helmet off.
Now Aidan would usually be very hesitant towards taking off his helmet in unknown territory but these ponies had proven to be very peaceful, mostly peaceful anyhow, and he was confident that if anything so much as even tried to attack him he could put a bullet through its brain no problem without the reticule on his HUD. He also needed to eat very badly. The physical exertion from the previous night had proven to have took a bigger toll on his body than he previously thought, so nutrition would be a good way at staving off the feeling of shit he would inevitably have to deal with. He reached up to his helmet and undid the clips before slowly yanking it off.
Twilight and the others watched with peaked curiosity as 42 yanked his helmet off and brushed a hand through his short and fuzzy mane. The skin on his face was obviously of identical colour to his neck apart from small areas of red scar tissue as a testament to the battles he had been in and won. His eyes were comically small compared to ponies but then again, he probably thought the other way around with their eyes being to big compared to his. He did bear a slight resemblance to a monkey but most of his features gave of a civilised air. Looking at him gave you the impression of a celestial explorer, not a battle hardened soldier. He had faint red skin over his lip area and when he smiled a small amount of pure white canines would show through. His eyes were a light auburn which mixed well with his black mane which went over the top of his head like any normal ponies but he also had two thin strips of it above each eye as well. Since his muzzle was flat he had this rather strange shape at the bottom of his head which twilight assumed to be his chin, rather similar to a primate in that respect.
He ignored their gazes and opened the wrapping around one of the bars before taking a large bite, enveloping over half the bar with one swift action. He chewed and swallowed before putting the other half in his mouth and threw the wrapper across the room and into the bin.
“Tastes like shit to be honest. But it's exactly what I need.” He devoured another one while everpony else just sat there and watched him devour the small yellow bars. He finished about twenty seconds later and picked up his helmet but before he could snap it back on Rainbow Dash pointed something out.
“Say 42, where did you get that neat scar.” 42 set down the helmet once more and pointed at his face.
“Which one?” Dash leaned closer and pointed to the one which ran all the way across his left cheek but had a gap in the line. “Oh that one, well. I guess you've proved trustworthy enough to be told but I'm not going to go too far into details.” Rainbow looked excited and shifted in her seat to get a more comfortable position while listening to him. “Well it all started on a planet known as Faragon.”
Here's the next chapter enjoy. It was originally going to be longer but due to file corruption, I had to make a shorter and sweeter version. Nothing had actually been cut, plot wise, that is. Instead just a few extra sentences and small occurrences which were in the original write up.
Chapter 4: Blast To The Past
“Faragon?” Twilight was intrigued to learn about a new planet but she could detect no relevance in the name to anything in the dictionary. It was quite odd for something to be named with no specific meaning. Maybe that's just how humans named things. It would explain why 42 has his rather ominous name for starters but that wasn't important at the moment. 42 spoke up again and she listened intently.
“Yes Faragon, my first deployment as a Spartan, the operation didn't go quite as well as we planned.” He shifted in his seat as it seemed that the experience wasn't a happy memory. “I would rather not talk about it but I can show you. Uh, dragon kid, thing. Could you hit the lights and close the curtains.” Spike walked over to the light switch and jumped up to flick it off as the Owloysius closed the curtains using her talons. Twilight and everyone else was confused as to what exactly 42 was doing but he ignored their looks of frustration and confusion as he fidgeted with a small black box attached to the side of his helmet. An small 'click' played out and then a shaft of light beamed from the small black box and travelled across the table before hitting the wall on the other side and displayed a large black square.
“What the!?” Rainbow called out but 42 continued to fidget as he pressed several things on his wrist device. Text began to dart onto the screen and sound started playing. The sounds started as a low hum but quickly evolved into a loud whine similar to the turbines that help generate rainbows in Cloudsdale. The room hushed as they witnessed what appeared to be a moving picture with sound.
~~ City: New Bristol Planet: Faragon Star System: Ramesses Galactic Location: 5,000 light years from Horse Head Nebulae Operation: Cloak And Dagger Campaign: Ramesses Liberation Participating Forces: UNSC, Re-unified Covenant Operative: Spartan A-042 Assigned Squad: Spartan Kill Team Alpha Galactic Calender: 12-March-2554 Local Time (24 H): 13:27
The text faded to black and the image of a metal interior slowly came about. It was a small room but as 42 turned his head he could see the rest of his kill team located near and on the drop ramp as they soared over the crumbled city scape in their D77H-TCI Pelican. The view was not a pretty one. Skyscrapers lay strewn over the super highway that ran through the middle of the city and any building smaller was barely intact and most had been reduced to artificial hills. The only thing still standing, if only barely, was the massive Space Elevator. It rose high into the sky like the planet boasted a mighty horn to be used as a weapon. The Covenant had been using it ferry large vehicles to the ground like Scarab tanks and locust mechs. The UNSC had put up one hell of a counter attack with help from the cities dumb AI 'Vertex' but trying to beat back the Covenant in an all out invasion was still a difficult affair even if the odds had been balanced a little, with humanities progression and the Covenant loss of two vital members. Large platoons of marines supported by Scorpion and Grizzly tanks had pushed down the super highway to gain a reduce the Covenant foothold on the planet. If they could retake the Space Elevator then the Covenant would have the impossible task of trying to carry out the assault using only air traffic. The cities anti-air could deal with a majority of the forces with ease then. The Covenant couldn't resort to their fail safe option very easily either because although humans still had not developed ship wide shielding, pretty much every other aspect of our ships had been beefed up. Our MAC cannons were now so effective that one shot would drop a carriers shields and the second would decimate the ship by gutting it straight down the middle from nose to end. Shiva missiles had been given metal casings specifically designed to take the brunt of a plasma lance attack and 50% of the time they would. This meant that the battles for space superiority were now matched toe to toe as long as the number of ships on both sides were roughly equal.
42 shifted his attention back to his team and observed them as they each prepared for the combat drop in their own way. A-012 was sitting on the seat closest to the drop ramp and was attaching various clips of ammunition for his MA5D Assault Rifle and rocket packs for his M41 MAV/AW Rocket Launcher. A-034 was standing right on the tip of the drop ramp and 42 couldn't help but feel that was a stupid idea as a sharp turn could easily knock him off. 34 was fidgeting with a particularly long combat blade. If it was any longer it would be considered a short sword but he couldn't care less about how brutal his Spartans wanted to be to the Covenant. They were sick and twisted bastards to humans to vice versa was always considered acceptable. You could often find 34 right up in the action with his blade in one hand and his personal brute mauler he had taken during his time as an ODST, in the other. Last but nowhere near the least was A-073. He sat on the joining point between the drop ramp and the actual bay as he tweaked his M363 Sticky Detonator. Finishing his work he popped his helmet back on and stood up to join 12 in the corner. 34 turned around and did likewise. That just left 42 to finish his preparation. He had opted to go in light and stay fast on his feet. His weapons of choice for this op were the M7 Caseless Sub-machine Gun and the S5-AM Sniper Rifle. He usually chose the older SM2 counterpart over the newer S5 model but the S5's higher calibre would greatly assist in the jungle of concrete they were bound to fight through. The M7 had been attached with a holographic sight and an extended barrel for tighter accuracy. Clipping a mag onto the side of the gun, 42 then flipped it to the other side and pulled the cocking leaver back to reveal the first bullet inside the chamber. He let go of the leaver and it slid back into place with a small 'chink'.
Satisfied that all preparations were ready, 42 stood up and walked over to the other by the drop ramp. At that moment a male voice chimed in through the Pelicans on-board speakers.
“Okay Alpha team, you know the objective. Locate, secure and extract Vertex from the city's data hive and be on the look out for keep personnel. The Coveys may know where earth is but ONI will be dammed if they learn the location of every other new colony we've formed. The drop zone is in sight now, prepare for a heated landing zone. Arkhammer out.” With that the coms went quite and the Pelican swooped over the landing zone. It was a small courtyard for a local University and covies were garrisoned inside the building while marines were trying to retake the key asset. Of course the entrance to a data hive would be below a University. What place could be better than the hub of local ingenuity and intelligence. Arkhammer swung the Pelican around so Alpha team were facing away from the large building and the chin mounted rotary chain gun opened up on the purple bastards taking cover behind barriers on the main steps. The Pelican lowered to about two metres off the ground and they all jumped out and landed next to a group of marines taking cover behind a collapsed statue of Wallace Fujikawa. The Pelican bobbed slightly from its lessened weight and the pilot spoke once more before lifting off.
“Once you've secured Vertex, radio me and I'll come and pick you up.” And with that Arkhammer rose into the air and gave a final strafe with the chain gun before turning around and flying off towards the UNSC frigate 'Cobalt', which was resting in atmosphere and dispensing troops for the UNSC counter attack. 42 looked across to the other side of the courtyard and saw another group of marines taking cover behind a similarly collapsed statue of Tobias Fleming Shaw. One such marine was yelling through a com piece and 42 tapped into the communication line.
“This is Sergeant Michael Travis requesting heavy land support to break the stale mate at New Bristol university. I repeat, requesting heavy land support at New Bristol University. Mission objective is critical and must be completed asap to comply with the Cole Protocol. Is anyone reading this!?” 42 chose that moment to chime in.
“Don't worry Sergeant. Spartan team Alpha is here to provide the heavy land support.” the marine shot up from looking at his transmitter and looked across to 42 and the other three Spartans.
“Are you shitting me, they sent Spartans! Looks like our job just got a thousand times easier. Alright Spartan, you lead and my men will follow.” Sergeant Michael cut the com and waved his hands to his squad. They looked at him after getting low in the cover and listened as he explained the situation. The squad on 42's side were given and equal briefing before they all formed up into a more tactical formation and preped to press the assault on the building. 42 turned to the rest of team alpha and gave an intricate dance of hand gestures. Picking up the communication easily the fellow Spartans nodded and went their separate ways to enact the complicated battle plan. 42 mounted the statue slightly and cloaked himself with active camouflage. Levelling his S5 on the head of a Jackal sniper posted by the pillar furthest to the right he tagged it with an icon which flashed a large number one to the rest of alpha, through their HUDs. 73 flashed his green acknowledgement light and lined up a shot on the Jackals head with his M395 DMR from his concealed hiding place along a ditch which had presumably been dug by a stray beam from a Scarab tank. 42 shifted his attention to the centre of the enemy formation and tagged the area with a bright two. 12's acknowledgement light beeped and finally 42 designated a path for 34 to get up close and personal with his combat blade. With the stage set 42 himself lined a shot up on the Elite Ultra whom was commanding the forces from the relative safety of several pillars pulled down to make neat bunker at the top of the stairs. His reticle falling between the eye pieces of the Elite's helmet, easy kill.
42 paused a moment and took a large inhalation of air before squeezing down the trigger. The rifle stock kicked in his shoulder with the force of a donkey buck and the bullet whizzed through the air before burrowing into the skull of the unfortunate Ultra who had no idea what was coming. On cue the rest of his team fired their own weapons as they heard the definable 'crack' of a bullet leaving his gun. 73 popped the snipers head and 12's rocket flew right into the main cluster of enemies. 34 closed the distance quickly through the pre-designated path and unleashed havoc in close quarters. 42 watched as 34 mounted a piece of cover and swiped his leg across the face of a Skirmisher. Demounting his sniper rifle from the statue, 42 hopped down and signalled for the marines and his fellow Spartans to cross the small no man’s land. The various soldiers left their cover and sprinted across open ground, receiving next to no incoming fire thanks to the brilliant distraction 34 was providing. The Marines and Spartans moped up the remaining forces on the outside with ease and proceeded to stack up at various doors and windows. 42 took a place by the front door and swapped to his M7 as Sergeant Michael took a position behind him.
“Hey Sergeant, give me a flash.” 42 motioned his fingers on his left hand pointing it backwards as to indicate for said device to be placed in his open palm. Michael obliged and placed the small metal canister in his hand. Pulling down the priming leaver and pulling the pin, 42 barged the door open with his right shoulder and gave the Flashbang a small underarm toss. Taking cover again 42 quickly heard the primary detonation followed by a cacophony of secondary flash charges setting off. The group of soldiers took this as their chance and rushed in through the main entrance and various smashed windows. 73 was the first to fire as he arced a Sticky Detonator round across the main lobby and onto the face of an unsuspecting Elite. The round detonated followed by the sounds of brain matter and flesh splatting on the walls and floors which surrounded the immediate area. 42 dashed quickly up to a large desk and pulled it over to provide better cover as three Marines followed in his wake. All remaining covey forces had regained a sense of the situation and were now bearing down on them with their remaining might. Needles and radioactive projectiles soared through the air followed by the slower travelling plasma globules. 42 could hear the desk practically melting as the plasma burned a path through on the other side. When it came to cover against plasma fire, anything short of two inches worth of solid concrete did almost nothing. 42 rose and peppered a trio of grunts who had gotten a little cocky. The rounds flinging from the M7 made swift work of their skulls as they collapsed among the other bodies of fellow Covenant and Human civilians who had the misfortune to still be in the university upon the arrival of the Covenant strike force.
The Covenant were starting to fall back as the last Elite in the room fell under the sheer weight of fire power being pumped into his body, effectively turning him into a rather accurate depiction of Swiss cheese. Grunts, Skirmishers and Jackals all bolted up the stairs which ran either side of a large oak door at the other end of the room. They needed to proceed through that door but someone needed to take care of the remaining Covenant in the upper building so none tried to sandwich them. 42 signalled for a squad regroup and motioned at Sergeant Michael to join the group as well.
“Good work so far team. We need to secure the Super Intendant in the sub-levels but we also need someone covering our rear and escape.” 42 pointed to Michael. “Michael, you and your Marines are to secure the upper building. Think you can handle that?” Michael nodded and left the group to round up his men.
“Alright ladies, listen up. Spartan 042 has assigned us with the critical task of securing their backsides. So we're going to show them Marine power and babysit their rears as they advance through the lower tunnels by securing the rest of this building. Is that understood Marines?” His little speech was met with a group howl from the blood thirsty warriors. “Hmmmph, damn right I am.” 'Crack'! Everyone turned to the large set of double doors as they splintered slightly while something battered them from the other side. 'Crack'! The sound reverberated again and 42 already knew what it was.
“HUNTERS! Take cover!” Everyone sprang for various pieces of durable cover as the door exploded outwards and large chunks flew across the room and two hulking blue masses lumbered in through the newly formed cavity. The two Hunters roared and levelled their canons on the most immediate object which happened to be Sergeant Michael. He didn't even have a chance to shout out as he was engulfed in green flames form the impact. 42 looked at where Michael had been standing and only found a charred mark on the floor. Quite literally nothing was left of him. Not even his god damn dog tags. The presence of the Hunters was quickly followed by the emergence of three foes clad in red armour while wielding plasma blades. It was easy to tell that they were Zealots and the one in the middle was evidently the leader as he brandished a metal bar which curved back over his head in a similar fashion to a Roman centurion. The Zealot motioned several things with his hands before the hunters took off after the Marines while the Zealots pounced on 42 and his fellow Spartans. The gap was closed to quickly and the fight quickly became that of hand to hand or blade to hand in this particular case.
The lead Zealot jumped the cover and kicked 42 square in the chest, it didn't do much as Sangheili used their appendages for swiped rather than jabs as they have claws. Being kicked by and Elite was similar to be whacked by the hind leg of a large cat without actually being gutted by the razor sharp claws. While lots of force was being applied it was more of a slow yet powerful pushing motion rather than a quick knock. 42 turned this to his advantage grabbed the leg, severally surprising the Zealot and twisted before it could do anything more. If the Zealot could see 42's face, it would be scarred shitless by the absolutely maniacal grin 42 had plastered over his face at the thought of an easy close up kill, against a Zealot at that! 42 drew his knife as the Zealot fell flat on his face and brought the blade into the air with the intention of skewering the Elite's brain like food on a stick. The Zealot had other plans however and leapt away from 42 as he brought the knife down. The Zealot spun round and brandished his signature Energy Sword. 42 flipped the knife into a forehand position and motioned for the Elite to try it. The Elite obliged with the usual full headedness which encompassed all Elites honour filled minds.
The Elite closed the distance and gave a right hook with its blade in hand. 'Too predictable', 42 thought but as he blocked with his left arm an unexpected move was played by the Elite. As their forearms came into contact the Elite purposefully let go of his blade sending it flying in the general direction of 42's head. The blade was not exactly travelling at tremendous speeds but it buried itself in the side of 42's helmet, piercing his cheek and sending a burning sensation up the entire left side of his face. 42 screamed in pain and kicked the Zealot backwards as he stepped away himself. His tongue burned as it tasted boiling blood filling his mouth. It didn't get very far before the intense heat of the blade cauterised the wound mere seconds afterwards but 42 still had the problem of a burning hot blade sticking from the side of his face. Gripping the handle, 42 proceeded to pull the blade from the wound and roared in pain as each passing microsecond felt like an eternity spent inside a blistering star. The blade eventually came free from his face entirely and 42 stared at the blade and the rather confused Zealot standing behind it in his blurring vision. The once victorious smile on the Zealots face turned sour rather quickly as he realised his gambit had not paid off. 42 looked at the blade then the Elite, then the blade again. He shrugged and tossed it back to the Elite.
The Elite was confused as the Demon deactivated the blade and tossed it through the air back towards the original owner. The Elite was impressed, no other Human had ever shown this level of honour but he would also pay dearly for his level of stupidity. The Elite caught the blade expecting an easy and honourable fight but was quickly cut short of the notion as he realised something bright, blue and sticky had followed behind the blade hilt and now was attached to his chest. Thezar could not even iterate an ancient Sangheili swear before the bright blue orb erupted and vaporised most of his midsection while sending the rest of his remains across the room.
42 quite literally had to suppress the urge to laugh himself to death as the moronic Elite fell for his trap like a gullible rabbit to a poisoned carrot. The hilt of the blade flew back in his direction and he caught it swiftly from the air with one graceful movement before activating the blade. Looks like he got to keep it after all. He spun round and fired at the last remaining Zealot with his SMG in his free hand. One of the other Zealots was already dead from the joint effort of the other three Spartans and the Hunters had been taken care of, quite quickly with sustained focus fire from the Marines. 42 holstered his SMG once more and examined his first addition to his currently empty stockpile of personalised weapons. The hilt was crafted masterfully and the internal battery looked modified: probably for a longer lasting charge. He shrugged and pocketed the item before removing his helmet and quickly nursing his wound while the squads of Marines paid their quick ans final respects to Sergeant Michael.
Next Chapter. Hoooraayy! Guess I don't have much to say this time so enjoy the chapter.
Chapter 6: What's A Four-Runner?
The morning sun beamed brilliantly through the kitchen window of Twilights house and reflected off the varnished surface of the central table. Cupboards lined nearly all the walls and a sink sat at one end of the room. Occupying the central table was a rather odd group of beings. Eight brightly coloured ponies sat in a 'U' shape around the table with another, even more peculiar creature seated at the other end. The creature reached for the small glowing screen on its wrist and tapped a few symbols which proceeded to cut off the feed from his camera/projector that jutted from the side of his helmet.
“Well, now you know how I got the scar.” 42 stated simply as if the scene he observed had not affected him in any way whatsoever. The other creatures which were aptly named ponies were all acting in a rather diverse array of reactions to the gruesome video they had seen. Celestia turned to observe her sister and subjects as they all grappled with what they had saw. Twilight looked queasy but was scribbling notes down furiously with a quill on a scroll of parchment. Luna appeared to be one of the least affected of the group but even then she had edged herself away from the alien guest, only now fully realising the threat is possessed to her and all those around it. Fluttershy finally lost her composure and emptied her breakfast on the floor before apologising to Twilight and tried to clean it up. Twilight on her part had not even noticed and merely mumbled an acknowledgement as she continued to furiously scribble down her thoughts and observations. Rarity hid her horrified expression behind a large cloth she used to cry into while Applejack tried her best to comfort her along with Pinkie Pie. The only ponies who were not completely distressed were herself and the brightly coloured Rainbow Dash. Celestia had never seen something so violent happen so quickly in all her years as ruler of Equestria. Sure she had seen plenty of combat in her early years as princess, but what she had just witnessed in fifteen minutes put over thousands of years of experience to shame.
“THAT. WAS. AWESOME!” Rainbow pounced over the table and floated right in front of 42's face, who seemed completely undisturbed by the close proximity of the cyan coloured Pegasus. Rainbow Dash hovered around the creature before she noticed the weapon that 42 had acquired in his brutal experience. “You've gotta teach me to fight like that.” She proceeded to grab the blade and try to yank it from the aliens blue hip late but it held strong and she retreated before scratching her head and trying again. “What the? It wont come off.” 42 swatted her hooves away and turned to face her as she floated in mid air.
“Of course it wont. I haven't disengaged the magnetic clamps. It would take a grizzly bear to pull it off by sheer force.” 42 sounded very agitated but seemed to refrain from letting it escalate. “I would also appreciate it if you would not touch my personal and incredibly dangerous weapons.” Rainbow Dash understood what he was getting at and sat herself back down immediately. He grunted her a thank you for her compliance and then turned to face the rest of the group. “So does anyone else have any questions about my various scars or did that suffice?” he was met with a symphony of various responses all detailing around the key idea of having enough information and a good idea on how each scar was obtained. 42 stood up and left the room to set about his own tasks while they all attempted to re-cooperate from the harrowing scene they had witnessed. All except for Celestia who stood up and followed 42 out of the room. Moving through the arch-way, Celestia quickly noticed that the blue Spartan had simply vanished into thin air. She looked around the room before stepping further in through the arch.
“42, where did you go?” She took another hesitant step forward as if to test the ground for traps. She knew he was sentient and could think beyond his instinct but Celestia still couldn't shake the fact that he was a predator. The projection hadn't done much to comfort her either when it came to his capabilities. She had already had a run in with him once and had no intention of repeating the scenario. She physically shuddered at the thought. At that moment off time where he was above her with his fists raised. Celestia could remember the sensation of realising she was mere centimetres away from death. He had bested her using superior athletics, skill, and above all, new found abilities which he proclaimed to not be magic and in fact was technology. Celestia could see benefits of technology but she never presumed it would one day reach a point where it would best magic in any way at all. Realising how stupid it all sounded now that she had something to disprove her, she groaned and flopped onto the closest object, which happened to be a fairly large armchair. Letting her face sink into the soft, cushiony goodness, she rested for a moment and thought about what had transpired so far. Not the actual events but rather what she had learned scientifically from this Human.
“Something on your mind?” Celestia shot up and swivelled her head on her neck at a good speed to observe the entire room. Looking around she saw nothing until a slight blur in the air caught her attention. The blur shimmered there for a moment before it began to turn opaque and eventually spat out the images of 42. He was leant against the wall with an oily rag in one hand and his largest grey weapon in the other. Celestia sighed, being alive for thousands of years normally left her with an answer to any situation but this whole scenario left her with no plan and no idea on how to even approach a conclusion. She didn't want to bog down 42 with needless worrying issues.
“Ah, no nothing really.” 42 pushed himself from the wall and threw the oily rag onto the nearby coffee table.
“Y'know I can tell when your lying.” Celestia blushed at his statement as she attempted to hide her shifting eyes. Most ponies could never see through her poker face but this Human, could read her like a book at times. No to mention he had only known them for a few hours. Celestia was about to answer her rebuttal but he held his hands up. “If you don't want to talk about it, that's fine by me.” Celestia immediately closed her mouth before she said something which would reboot the particular topic of discussion. Setting her fears aside she walked over to where 42 had thrown his oil rag and picked a piece of paper up off the small table. It was the diagram that he had drawn for them to show the ponies the proper mechanics of the solar system. She repeatedly tried to wrap her had around it but she couldn’t figure out how the model would work if she was responsible for raising the Sun and Luna, the Moon.
“I believe you mentioned something before about your species having no ability to raise and lower the Sun, or Moon. Isn't that correct?” He walked up next to her and she cringed a little from his close proximity but whether he didn't noticed or he chose to ignore it, she would never know.
“Yeah. Why do you ask?” His voice didn't betray his emotions at all. She imagined his training allowed him to give the air of a soulless killing machine, definitely something to be feared on the battlefield. She moved the diagram closer and scrutinized it as though the closed distance would reveal something she had missed before. He cut in before she could ask another question. “It's probably best you don't question this kind of stuff at the moment. Physics seems to have hauled ass from this solar system a long time ago.” He was probably right; there was no point in questioning this stuff right now. The quizzical agenda could wait until the main issue had been sorted. The main issue was what to do with 42 now that he was supposedly stranded here.
“So 42, what do you think of Equestria so far?” He mauled it over a moment before giving his response.
“I think I've never been to a weirder place in my entire life. Even documentations of Forerunner...” He cut himself off quite quickly and Celestia picked up on this instantly.
“Forerunner?” He tensed a bit and she knew that she had him in a tight spot. He quickly recovered himself and walked away from the table at a brisk pace, talking as he did so.
“Nothing. Don't worry, it doesn't matter.” Celestia cocked an eyebrow at his rather odd behaviour. Then again he was alien. Maybe this was normal for him, but she severely doubted so. It was at this moment that Luna, Twilight and the rest of the group, chose to emerge from the kitchen, having recovered mostly from the rather horrifying adventure they had witnessed. Twilight caught 42 leaving through the front door and called over to him.
“Mr 42. Where are you going?” He closed the door without saying a word and Twilight's ears deflated slightly, he had just left without saying where he was going. Mere seconds went by before 42 walked back in.
“Uh, Celestia. I think we may have a small problem outside.” 42 pointed towards the door with his thumb and cracked it open slightly. Several blinding camera flashes followed shortly through the small crack in the door. “I think your mint green friend tipped them off.” 42 pushed the door closed against the mass of ponies outside. Celestia began to panic a little and 42 turned his head in her direction. “What exactly did you tell them last night?” Celestia stopped pacing after she realised she had crossed to the other side of the room.
“I didn't exactly tell them you were an alien.” 42 nodded slowly and continued to hold the door closed. He gestured for her to go on. “Well I briefly explained to them you were a new prototype magical entity. Nothing but basic animated armour that went a little loopy. They seemed content with the answer and left. Obviously Lyra didn't buy it and now she has all of Ponyville on our doorstep.” Celestia physically calmed herself and turned towards the kitchen as a loud groan could be heard. Luna was just about to check when the two royal guard members entered through the doorway. Celestia let out a sigh of relief which was short lived as one of the two guards pounced at 42. The guardsman landed on 42's chest plate and pushed him against the door even further. Celestia couldn't gauge 42's reaction under his helmet but she would guess that he was easily surprised if one of her royal guards had managed to grapple him without so much as even a reactive strike from 42. 42 quickly recovered his senses as the pony shackled his wrist to the pony's hoof using a handcuff. Growling quite menacingly 42 reached out and snapped the chain connecting the two entities and proceeded to throw the shocked guard across the room. The other guard was about to assist his comrade but was cut off just before the leap by a booming voice emanating from princess Luna.
“Guards! Thou will cease and desist all hostilities towards the creature currently under our protection, AT ONCE!” Both guards replied with a dull 'yes ma'am'. She smiled at her small victory and motioned towards Celestia. “Sister dearest. Would thou care to join me in rectifying the pandemonium which has plagued our little ponies.” Celestia beamed at her sisters ever present calm demeanour to which she responded to everything with; normally. Both sisters walked up to the door and Luna gently nudged 42 out of the way before stepping through the door. Twilight watched 42 as he pressed his helmet up against the door and listened. Twilight, deciding to do likewise, also pressed one of her ears against the door and listened intently. The second Luna had stepped out the crowd had quietened to a deftly whisper. A few screams could be heard from the smaller children and Luna's close proximity to the door made it easy to hear her grumbling under her breath. Some muffled conversation went on for no more than twenty seconds and then there was a tap on the door. 42 took that as his cue to appear and opened the door before stepping into the morning sunlight. Twilight and the other Elements of Harmony, along with Spike, stepped out through the door. The first thing Twilight heard next was Princess Celestia's voice ring out through the air in a raised yet still gentle tone.
“My little ponies. I would like to introduce you to our newest guest in Ponyville.” 42 stepped from behind Celestia and was met with various gasps as the various multicoloured ponies got their first proper look at him. All eyes in the crowd shifted up and down his body in one, swift, tidal motion. Celestia couldn't help but think to herself. 'Well... this is going to be interesting'.
I'm back. While I was away I had a ton of brilliant ideas and I feel completely rejuvenated to write this story. Expect great things from here on out. (Please keep in mind that the first part of this chapter was written up before my holiday, so it may seem slightly duller.)
Chapter 7: You Can have It Any Colour You Want.
The corridors of the UNSC Infinity stretched out to ridiculous lengths along the main dorsal highway but the closer you came to the bridge, the more of a maze it became. Weaving through the aforementioned maze was a certain Spartan, clad in red armour. Navigation officers walked past her in both directions while technicians worked on electrical conduits that ran the length of the corridors inside the ship, hidden by the metal wall panels. Some crew waved to her while others eyed her with suspicion and perhaps a hint of envy. 16 sighed. Becoming a Spartan may have been easier now but they still had that outcast feel around some personnel. She normally wouldn't walk around this part of the ship and would much rather spend her free time training on the holo-deck or crashing out in her room, but the Captain had requested her presence specifically and when the Captain requests your presence, you better show up. That is unless you had a death wish or something.
16 reached the end of the next short corridor and approached a bulkhead which connected to the elevator shaft. She pressed the 'open' button and stepped onto the small elevator platform before punching in the number for the bridge and command deck. The small platform slowly began grinding its way up the dull grey elevator shaft and towards its next destination, which would be the drop off point for 16. She used this brief pause as a chance to remove her helmet and breath the cool, recycled air from the ships filters. It had a slight metallic tang to it but it sure as hell beat the taste and smell of the air when it was pumped through her helmet. With her 'Recon' variant helmet tucked nicely under her arm she used her other hand to fix her hair into a less messy ponytail than the state it was in previously. Helmets and ponytails definitely did not work very well. The dull grey of the elevator shaft slowly turned into a lovely white plating as the lift slowed and a large red '1' was painted onto the back of the shaft. 16 fixed her helmet back in place and stepped out as the door whirred open with a small hiss.
This particular part of the ship seemed to be nowhere near as occupied compared to the lower levels she had just came from but she put that down to the fact that only the bridge crew were only ever needed on the bridge. She walked down the brightly lit area and listened to every footstep make a 'clank' sound as she pressed her feet against the metal floor. It was so quiet you could probably hear a pin drop. Reaching the end of this corridor, she placed her hand against a small scanning device to the left of another small bulkhead. The device sent a thin, blue beam up and down her hand as it scanned through the thick covering on her gloves and chimed a small acknowledgement tone before cracking the door open for her.
Stepping into the bridge, she was reminded of just how massive this vessel really was. Most bridges would be twenty square metres at the very most, but the Infinity's was absolutely massive. Aisles of consoles and computers stretched from one end of the room to the other in quirky and abstract layouts. The room was fifty metres square easy, possibly sixty and had a large ringed balcony above with yet more consoles lined around the ring. Further down the room was a big trapezium shaped alcove with three of the four walls being made of extremely tough glass, able to withstand one or two glancing impacts from plasma lances. The small alcove had a large grey swivel chair set slightly to the right from the centre and a ridiculous amount of thick wire tubing running to and from several machines in the alcove, to the rest of the room. Also standing in the alcove was a single, tall man. He wore a steel coloured naval suit and had greying hair stacked shorty on his head. He was facing out the window, watching the blue ethereal shit storm otherwise known as slip-space. He may have been facing away from her but 16 knew the captain when she saw him, everyone did. Walking forward, she passed a large hologram table that was currently showing the status of the ship in a blue diagram. She stepped up behind the captain and was about to speak when he spoke up first.
“Ah Katherine, right on time.” He turned to face her and she snapped off a quick salute but eased up when he put on a warm yet controlled smile and raised his left hand to indicate her to ease up. “At ease soldier. I need to address you about something serious and I cant keep my thoughts on track when a seven foot, red giant is standing still as a statue in front of me.” Katherine cocked an eyebrow but it remained unnoticed, seeing as she was wearing a helmet, but she decided to go with the friendly atmosphere anyway. She knew why the captain was being so nice, he always acted much nicer when he was setting a task he knew the recipient wouldn't like. So for Spartan IV's and Katherine in particular, it would probably be something very boring. It would also almost definitely be something extremely important though. Otherwise, why send a Spartan rather than Marines?
“Acknowledged sir. I believe you called me here for some sort of task?” The captain smiled as she nailed the issue right on the head.
“Yes. Well I am sure that you are aware of kill-team Alpha's and Bravo's deployment on an ONI spook mission.” Katherine smirked at the mention of a certain blue Spartan's kill-team. He may have been one of the best when it came to combat and intelligence among the Spartans but he was so funny to wind up sometimes. That didn't mean they didn't get along, in fact if anything, the teasing was more of a light friendly kind that Marines and ODSTs would do amongst each other.
“Yes I am well aware of the deployment of kill-teams Alpha and Bravo. Why? Has the op gone FUBAR?” She said the last part with a slightly curious tone but the Captain merely closed his eyes and shook his head slowly.
“No. The op was launched successfully with most of the pods making it to the targeted destination.” Katherine caught the keyword in that sentence instantly and expanded upon it.
“Most, sir?” She didn't like the sound of where this was heading.
“Yes. A mere ten seconds after the pods were launched, two were somehow accelerated and exited slip-space in the wrong location. One pod contained team Alpha's modified light transport hog while the other contained Alpha's team leader, Spartan A-042. While everyone else has been deployed flawlessly and is now exacting the op. We need someone to to retrieve 042 before his pod runs out of oxygen in deep space, or if he's landed on a planet by some miracle, you will need to secure him.” Katherine groaned inside her helmet but did not turn on the external speakers for that particular sound. If there was anything she hated, it was searching for something in space. Finding a lone pod in space would possibly take her weeks, maybe months if they couldn't deploy her close enough.
“What equipment will I have at my disposal and how am I going to do this?” She wanted to know exactly all the variables so she could work out how long this would take her.
“You'll be given a light 'Prowler' class ship with a concealed nuclear battery and air recycle system for long space flights. The ship already contains a complimentary armoury so weaponry won't be a problem. The teams were deployed mere minutes ago, so you should be able to drop off from slip-space with only a day or two travel time to find 042. Once you find him, drop off a beacon and stay close to it. We'll pick you up once we deal with our current task, so you may be in it for the long haul.” Katherine understood the gravity of the situation, but it didn't change the fact that this may be the longest and most boring mission she had ever been on. Although she could see the perks in being able to spend a few weeks away from the UNSC. She smirked under her helmet, this might be a mini-vacation, something she hadn't had in a very long time. She gave the Captain a crisp salute and turned to head toward the hangar.
Blinding. The sheer volume of light which erupted from the crowds cameras could only be described as blinding. Aidan squinted in their general direction before his visor automatically polarized to compensate for the gleaming flashes of light. With his vision sorted he focused on the situation that had quickly erupted. The crowd wasn’t hysterical, which was a good thing, but they did look ready to set off at any moment. Aidan did a quick glance across the whole crowd and tallied a rough count. The surrounding swarm of ponies was easily in the one-hundreds. Aidan grunted in distaste as his eyes settled upon the familiar mint green colour of the pony named Lyra. The situation could have been defused slowly with a more subtle approach but then she had to go and ruin everything by getting the whole town in his face. Something needed to be done about this now before things took a turn for the worst. Aidan gave a quick cough to moisten his throat and said the only thing he could, that wouldn't set everyone off in mass hysterics.
“Hello.” Hook, line and sinker. Most ponies tensed up as they heard his usually gentle voice get churned out with an abrasive quality through his helmet speakers. Some however, seemed to physically relax as they realised his ability to talk and thus must harbour some sort of cognitive thought. They now knew he was no longer the brute they thought he was but they still eyed him with an air of suspicion. Aidan turned to Celestia who was thoroughly rubbing her eyes to return her vision. “They look as though they're ready to strap me down and vivisect me at any moment.” Celestia gave him a worried glance in return. While she was sure her ponies would never do something of the sort, she was worried that they might try something stupid. Her expression turned into a small yet noticeable scowl as her eyes settled upon the mint green unicorn standing next to her cream coloured friend.
“Lyra. Would you come here please.” Celestia watched as Lyra jumped into the air at the mention of her name. Quickly descending from her hovering flight, Lyra slowly made her way across the short gap between the two crowds and bowed her head in front of Celestia. “Now Lyra. I am well aware of you fascination in extraequestrial life and your certainty of their appendages. I have read all your books so far and while I find your speculative thoughts on their society fascinating, I must admit that they are far fetched from what we have seen of this creature so far and I am extremely disappointed that you rallied the whole town to Twilight's doorstep.” Lyra looked utterly defeated and raised her head a little higher to try and look Celestia in the eyes with a puppy-dog, pleading look.
“But princess, surely you can see the ramifications of my actions. I mean look at it!” She pointed her left hoof over towards 42 whom was busy talking to Twilight while watching the crowd at the same time. “An alien. Who would have ever guessed one would land on Equestria and during my lifetime at that! I had to jump on the opportunity.” Celestia tutted and placed a hoof delicately on the side of Lyra's face and turned her head to facer 42. he had stopped talking with Twilight now and was watching Lyra in a stance that could only be described as nervous, impatience. His stance was leaning slightly and his right hand was gently caressing a small white object attached to his right thigh. Lyra instantly recognised it as the device he used last night to try and scare her off. She shuddered at the thought of that weapon being brought to bear on her and backed off slightly. Celestia pipped in again.
“Lyra. I thought it would interest you to know that he in fact did not land here. He crashed here and has no intentions of being here. I want you to think about the position he's in. He's trapped on an alien world with no way to contact his own kind and while he's still trying to settle in, you go and bring half the entire town to harass him. Now I'm not sure what you think of these events but I think you owe him an apology.” Lyra conceded and anxiously walked over to the creature. She stopped a few centimetres short of his boots and looked up. His massive imposing size definitely lived up to its name as she cowered slightly in fear. The blue clad creature shifted his attention downwards and watched Lyra as she quaked in fear. Sucking in her gut, Lyra proceeded to talk.
“Hi. My name's Lyra Heartstrings and I would like to apologise for my crude actions against you both this morning and last night.” Lyra instantly turned her head downwards and closed her eyes. She has no idea how an alien would reply to an apology in his culture. She expected a swift kick to the gut or maybe a slap across the face but definitely not what happened next.
“Okay.” She opened her eyes and looked up.
“Huh?” Was her simple reply. He bent down slightly in front of her.
“I said okay. I forgive you. What did you think I was going to do? Kick you?” Lyra gave a sheepish grin in response. That was kind of what she was half-expecting. He knelt down even further and kept the surprises coming as he scooped her up in his left, upper appendage and held her at a height so they were face to face, albeit at a fair distance as he held her away slightly. He raised what she remembered to be called his right arm and held the hand at the end of it, halfway between the two. It took her moments to figure out he wanted to give her a hoofshake, or handshake, or hand-hoofshake, or whatever you wanted to call it. She gladly returned the gesture and giggled like a school yard filly as she felt the hand tighten around her hoof. She had dreamt of moments like this since she had first started getting into the crazy endeavour of researching extraequestrial life, and look who was the crazy one now. The hand felt weird. It wasn't the cold grasp of a Griffins claw or the flat press of a fellow ponies hoof. It was five soft sensations as his delicate yet firm fingers and thumb wrapped around her hoof tightly and rubbed slightly as they moved their limbs up and down in rhythm. He spoke once more as they were shaking appendages for an extended amount of time. “The name's 42. Pleasure to meet you.” 42 set her down and she continued the hand-hoofshake with a more vigorous approach.
“The pleasure's mine 42.” She stopped shaking his arm and let go. Placing her hoof back on the ground she turned towards the large mob surrounding the library. “Okay everypony. You've seen the alien enough. Go away and give him some space. You can probably come back and ask questions later.” The crowd let out several variations of the sound 'awwww' and began dissipating back into the streets of Ponyville to continue with their daily routines. Lyra was the only one to stay with the group and as the last ponies left she turned back to 42. She looked at his hands once more and fought the urge to salivate all over the ground. Noticing that she had been looking at his general arm area, 42 lifted his hand into the air and observed it.
“What do you find so interesting about my hands?” Lyra was dumbstruck by this question. How could any species take hands for granted.
“What do you mean 'what do you find so interesting about my hands'?! They're hands! Do you have any idea how much I've always wanted those things?” He stepped back a bit, obviously creeped out by her sudden revelation of hand fantasies.
“That's real swell kid and I'm flattered. Really I am, but others may see that as kinda... y'know... creepy.” Lyra was disappointed that even a creature in possession of such appendages would not see the amazing, awesomeness that was 'hands'. Then again. For a creature that spent it's whole life with them, it probably didn't see the excitement any more. She perked up slightly when she came to her answer then an idea struck her like lightning would strike a twenty meter, metal pole.
“Say 42. You wouldn't perhaps be able to get me some hands, would you? I mean you obviously being an advanced civilisation and all.” He stroked his chin with his left hand.
“What. You mean like a robotic prosthetic, cause we have those.” Lyra practically jumped up and down in joy. 'Yes! Now she would finally get some hands of her own!'
“Yes! Real, robotic. I don't care. I just want some haaaannnddss!” He got up and scratched the top of his helmet.
“Uh. I don't think I have any on me... unless?” He turned around and walked over to his large metal, speed wagon and opened up the fairly large compartment at the back. Everyone huddled behind him as he searched through the items. He continued to talk with that half-occupied voice ponies put on when they were really busy trying to find something lost. “Hmm. I know we wouldn't usually pack prosthetics... but the mission was going to be a long one. So maybe... just maybe. Ahah!” He pulled a large grey, plastic container from the compartment and plonked it on the floor. Flicking both the latches he continued to open the lid, but alas, the lid flicked open so that only he could see the contents inside. He rifled through the container and then pulled out two long objects that flailed as he waved them through the air. He turned to face Lyra and pointed the two long objects at her, she now realised that they were robotic reconstructions of his upper limbs. “I don't know if you nervous-system will accept these but hey-ho. Hand or whole arm?” Lyra rocketed into the air so fast that even Pinkie would be impressed, and she was.
“Oh oh. Me next!” Pinkie rocketed into the sky after Lyra in a double whammy of 'fuck you physics'! Lyra landed at roughly the same time as Pinkie and ran right up to 42, glee barely contained on her face.
“Just the hands! And do you think you could paint them mint green?” 42 turned them over in his hands while Lyra begged for them like a dog would beg for for a bone to chew on.
“Well. It may take me some time to configure them and I was never a brilliant surgeon but it's a rather straight forward procedure. Otherwise we wouldn't bother bringing them out onto the field. The main problem comes from setting it up for a pony's nervous system but I'm determined to make a good impression here, so sure, why not. But as for the colour. As the old saying goes. You can have it any colour you want... as long as it's black.”
Phew. I really had fun writing this one and I thought incorporating the robo-prosthetics was a stroke of genius but that brings me onto the next part. I want you lot (my avid readers), to give me your opinions on the matter. Is giving Lyra her hearts desire a step too far or do you think it'll work.
“Crime doesn't pay. Good citizens do their part.” -Super Intendant
Surprise mother fuckers! Super sneaky ninja update is ago.
Chapter 8: There Will Be Another Time.
Katherine approached the heavy duty elevator which led down into the main hangar and keyed the down button. The large metal platform began its slow descent and Katherine had time to contemplate her mission. After several moments of deep though she erupted into a fit of anger.
“Fuck!” There was no other word for it, she was pissed alright. While this may have seemed like a fun little getaway at first. She quickly realised she would most likely be spending her time off, with a corpse. That was perfect, just perfect. She couldn't pin exactly why it was that she was angry about 42 being dead. She was sure in her head that she didn't like, like him. Maybe he was a good friend. Yeah, that was probably it. He was as close a friend as a Spartan could get and she would be damned if anything were to happen to him while she wasn't there to help him. The metal grey tiles of the elevator shaft soon gave way to pristine, white metal sheets as the elevator came to a complete stop in front of a large bulkhead. The bulkhead was painted a bright, bleach bone and had a small red light centred on its front. The small red light flashed twice before turning green and allowing 16 access to the hangar.
The door opened slowly and took its time moving bit by bit. The sound of whirring gears could be heard as the heavy metal was pulled by the inbuilt servos. Some security staff and a few ODSTs, were on the other side waiting for the elevator to grant them entrance to the platform while she was trying get off. Looks of annoyance were plastered across the faces of those who did not frequent the hangar as a destination. After several seconds of impatient waiting, 16 gave up and simply dived through the fairly large opening before coming into a roll and walking on like nothing happened, leaving several stunned security personnel and disgruntled ODSTs. Smirking inside her helmet, she walked further into the hangar, it opened up before her into a grand display of human achievement. Human vehicles and ships lay and hung everywhere. Some, the cutting edge of technology and others, the more robust and humble. This view was quickly cut off as she stumbled into a maze of containers and supply crates. Finding no issue with the various boxes and barrels, she shrugged and continued to proceed out of the other side and stepped up to a particularly sleek ship with a glossy black finish. 16 took a deep breath through her helmets air filters and caught the tang of fresh, chemical paint. It reminded her of home. The ship was large, not by starship standards but definitely large compared to a Spartan. It stood at 37ft tall, 71ft long and 90ft wide. It weighed around 350 tonnes and packed the fire-power of an air-ground longsword with the combined addition of prowler stealth capabilities. It was an impressive sight to behold and cost the military one hell of a pretty penny but damn was it worth it.
Walking around the ship, she came up to the back drop ramp and noticed several engineers still working on the interior mechanics. Yanking off her helmet she shouted up the ramp and heads turned in her direction.
“Hey guys! I thought this ship was done and ready for lift off asap.” She was irritated, definitely. She had kicked her ass into overdrive just to arrive at an unfinished ship... she didn't like waiting. The engineer team quickly wrapped up whatever they were working on and hastened their exit as they dashed towards other ships to continue their work. While members of the marines and ODSTs felt more comfortable around Spartans, the support staff still had their fears.
One engineer grew some balls and walked off the ramp and up to her before snapping off a hasty salute.
“Ma'am, we've added some modifications for longer journeys in space at Captain Lasky's request. She should be up to the task now.” Katherine saw the man's eyes dart nervously around the room as a pressing silence hung between the two. Katherine saw some mechanics in the corner of her vision trying to signal for their buddy to just run, yet he remained stock still. She was impressed.
“Thank you. That will be all.” With his cue given, the tech-head quickly dashed off to rejoin his comrades who consoled him like he had just encountered his worst nightmare.
Looking at the exterior of the ship once more, she noticed a large title in white, block text along the edge of the ship. The text read 'UNSC Cloak n' Dagger'. She smiled once more, surely an apt name for such a swift and brutal ship. Ascending the ramp she hit the door controls and the familiar sound of motors buzzed to life as the ship sealed up. She walked along the deck of the ship and looked down ever short corridor to see a bulkhead at the end of each one with a small symbol sitting above the door to represent what awaited inside. She reached the final bulkhead at the end of the deck and stepped through to reveal the pilots cabin. Two seats were positioned next to each other at the front of the cabin and a large LCD screen hung above the seats, which showed a beautifully detailed version of the new UNSC logo. The cabin had a striking resemblance to the old longsword cabins but with some small changes. The sense of familiarity with the layout made this mission seem all the easier as she realised she wouldn't have to spend ages getting acquainted with this ship. Taking a seat at the main controls she keyed her helmets internal mic into the prowlers systems and contacted hangar control.
“Hangar control, this is Spartan A-016, pilot of UNSC Cloak n' Dagger. Requesting permission to take off. Over.” There was a short break before a cut of static and a males voice came through the other end.
“Cloak n' Dagger. This is hangar control. You have the full go-ahead from the Captain and clearance to match. You are free to exit the hangar.” The static cut off and Katherine keyed her mic once more to reply.
“Much obliged hangar control. Cloak n' Dagger is on its way.” She powered up the engine and increased the vertical climb as the ship rose from the metal decking of the hangar and accelerated out of the shield barrier, which kept the harsh storms of slips-space and unforgiving vacuum of space, out of the hangar and the rest of the ship. The G-force didn't last long as she quickly left the gravity well cause by the UNSC Infinity and she gunned the ship onwards towards its pre-planned destination.
'Hands! Oh god, what was he thinking'. Shortly after the deal had been made, Lyra had bounded off in a mess of uncontrolled glee and hyperventilation, much to the humour of everyone but 42. It hadn't taken him long to realise what he had gotten himself into. As soon as Lyra was out of eyesight, everyone had went back inside and began preparing for the day as though he wasn't even there. They talked, dressed and goofed around like any normal perso... no, pony would. Twilight and Luna had asked him several questions about how the prosthetics actually worked. Even though they did not understand some key details, they got the general gist of how the arms functioned.
“How barbaric. Surely thou could use telepathic technologies to control the arm rather than plugging wires directly into ones nervous system?” Luna seemed a little shocked at how blunt the technology was despite being used for such an elegant task. 42 sighed in his helmet. He was getting tire of the constant prattling on from the midnight mare and her lavender lackey, Twilight.
“Look. I don't expect you understand it, much less right away. So please just take my word for it when I say it has a little more finesse than that.” He ground his teeth in frustration when she replied with an uppity 'hmmph' and turned her head skyward, so that she gave the impression of displeasure. Twilight cut the tense moment with another question of her own, interrupting 42 as he attempted to continue reading the book on pony anatomy, which Twilight had handed to him.
“I still don't see why you would need to carry prosthetic limbs around in the first place. Surely the prospect of losing a limb isn't that high?” 42 gave up on trying to read in peace and slammed the book shut rather unceremoniously. He drew the attention of the rest of the room with suspicions looks but interest quickly reset to the previous tasks of the other ponies as they continued to chat. All but Fluttershy as she walked over to Luna and Twilight, trying not to make herself seen by 42 as much as possible. 42 mimicked pinching the bridge of his nose using the front of his faceplate and sighed. Not a frustrated sigh. But rather the painful sigh of one who has seen many a things happen to those who serve with them.
“When you fight something like the Covenant. Loosing and arm is the least of your worries. God forbid they capture you.” There he went again with the religious sayings. He put it down to the stress of bad memories and left it at that. Fluttershy was the first to break the awkward silence that hung between the three ponies and the tired Spartan.
“It must be so awful being a space soldier fighting those meanies if you're prepared to lose an arm.” 42 was shocked to say the least. As childish as the one named Fluttershy had put it, she was right. She had nailed the experience of a UNSC soldier right on the head. 42's head sunk a little as he continued the conversation.
“She's right you know. It is terrible. The feeling of dread every morning you wake up on the battlefield to find half your squad died on a night op. The knot that forms in your stomach as you watch your best mate blown apart by a Needler. The headaches that form after being pushed across twenty five miles of mountain just to assault a Covenant outpost and lose, while on minimal body nutrition. Yeah it's definitely terrible.” He wasn't exactly blowing things out of proportion. Everything he said was somewhat a summery of his career as an ODST in the 501st Fire Chimps. He had hiked twenty five miles over the Akrid mountains to sneak up on a Covenant outpost only to be forced to retreat by a retaliation strike from an Elite Spec-ops group. He had watched friends in the corps get blown apart by Needler wielding Jackal formations, while they were trying to retake the embattled city of Tennesco on Saides IV. He remembered seeing most of the 501st being sent off to retake a space port on the very same planet one night, only to wake up the next morning and find they had all died. He missed them all, except maybe Dave Leblonsky, that know-it-all ass. His reminiscing of the past was cut off by Twilight as she asked yet another question.
“So why did you become a Spartan?” Her tone seemed to give off the air of worry. Maybe it was for him or maybe it was because she feared his mental stability.
“Good question. I ask myself the same thing sometimes. But you must know that I wasn't always a Spartan. Before that I was an ODST and before that I was a Marine. I worked my way up the chain with determination and skill. As for why I joined. Well, most people join to protect those they love, other to protect humanity, hell, some even fight for the cash, but me. I don't quite really know why but I would say by biggest reason was revenge.” The three ponies looked at each other for a moment before turning back to 42. Luna voiced their concern.
“Why would you sign up for revenge. Surely thou would know of the problems cause by dwelling on negative, past experiences.” She spoke as though she had experienced such an event herself but 42 decided to pry no more into that subject and carried on with his own explanation.
“It was never personal of anything of the sort. I didn't want revenge for lost family, or for friends killed in the war. No. I wanted revenge for every last Human being to die in that god awful war. I joined because I wanted to grind my foes beneath my boot like lowly lickspittles. I wanted every member of the Covenant to regret their decision of ever fucking with Humanity and to watch as they were savagely beaten ten fold for every Human dead. That! Is why I joined. I wasn't an efficient soldier because I wanted to protect but because I wanted to kill.” His answer had obviously scarred the crap out of them as they were now trying to hide behind each other with Fluttershy being forced towards the front. “Oh stop it.” A bit of mirth crept into 42's voice. “I wanted to kill the Covenant for what they had done. Not every alien I encountered. You're perfectly safe around me.” They physically relaxed but minds still seemed to twitch as their thoughts mirrored on the rapid movement of their eyes.
Pinkie, completely oblivious to the conversation that had just transpired, bounced over to 42 and the others and started a new conversation.
“So 42, what do you personally do for fun?” 42 liked that question, it was innocent and a good distraction from the previous topic. Everyone else had joined the group at this point ans stood/sat before him like children waiting to hear a story from their favourite grandparent.
“Well, my favourite ways and what I actually did changed from division to division. Back when I was a civy, I liked to go down to the shooting range and pop a couple of shots off with my dads old bolt action.” They all seemed very confused as to what a shooting range was exactly but they listened intently and did not interrupt nonetheless. “When I joined the marine core there wasn’t much to do there, other than dick around with your buddies of course. And that means mess around before you go thinking I'm gay.” 42 said this last part to cut off a snicker emanating from Rainbow Dash as she interpreted it as a euphemism.
“Things started picking up when I signed on to become an ODST though. I was assigned the platoon known as the 501st Fire Chimps. I quickly learned of their nickname though, which was aptly called the 501st Party Brigade.” Pinkie cut in with a giggle.
“Gee, they sure sound like a fun bunch of party ponies. Oops, I mean people.” Everyone chuckled at her outburst including 42 as he recalled several of their shenanigans.
“Yeah we were a real bunch of party animals but not in the traditional party sense you would know off. We preferred the more 'mature' themes. One time, when we were stationed aboard the ship 'UNSC Oasis' we found ourselves alone on the ship as the Captain, C.O and the entire command crew were ashore for logistical reasons. Finding nothing better to do with out time, we converted the entire hangar into a nice little party for us and the support crew, who ran maintenance. Now, a few ODSTs went and invited some people they knew in the city we were shored in. Those people invited other people and before we knew it, we had had a massive rave going on, right in the bloody hangar of a warship. Now the Captain was a pretty laid back man and when he found us shaking our asses off, he wanted to join in but the C.O would have none of it. While the party was allowed to continue for moral boost reasons, per the Captains request. The C.O had the entire platoon scrubbing the ships latrines for the next month. The Captain was against the punishment but didn't want to get ONI involved and have half the platoon and his own ass kicked out of the job so he left us to it. After that, word quickly spread through the civilian populace of the planet and then onto docking ships with military personnel about our escapades. Soon enough it was known as a large rumour throughout all of the marine core and ODST core that if you wanted a good time in the military, you best pray you get assigned with the 501st Fire Chimps for a mission.” 42's little ditty ended with a mass collapse of ponies as they rolled around the floor in laughter. Even the regal princess sisters allowed a few chuckles of pure mirth through their usually stoic demeanour towards humour. The guards, who had previously sat at the back of the room like statues failed to hide their smiles as they heard the ending of the tale. 42 finished waiting for them to stop laughing and sped up the process by beginning to talk.
“Of course there's my time as a Spartan, but that can wait until another time. Right now I need to relax.” Applejack was the first to recover and stepped forward.
“Say partner. Ah don't know what ah bolt action is, but ah have a range up at the farm for when ah like to use mah crossbow. You said you enjoyed shooting up at the ranges when you were a 'Civy'” 42 was surprised that she had a weapon of any sort. But then again, she did say she ran a farm and any Human farmer worth their salt had some sort of weapon. He was quick to take up the offer.
“Yeah that sounds like some nostalgic fun, and I could use the break. Lead the way.” She tipped her hat and motioned for him to follow. He slowly stood up and followed her towards the front door. Rainbow Dash and Luna followed but everyone else remained where they stood/sat. Raibow Dash called over to the others.
“Hey! Aren't you guys coming?” She was met by a plethora of no. As Celestia and the others all stated their different reasons. Celestia wished to get some research done and required twilight's assistance. Fluttershy had to go and care for her animals as they would probably be missing her right about now. Rarity had to finish an order of dresses she was already falling behind for and Pinkie said something about looking after Pound Cake and Pumpkin Cake. Rainbow dismissed them with a wave of her hoof. “Fine, if you don't want to watch the cool alien, then it's your loss.” She turned around to find that the other three had already started walking off. “Hey!” Rainbow called out as she flew off after them and slammed the door behind herself. The slam sent several books tumbling off a bookshelf and burying Spike as he walked out of the kitchen.
“This happens way too often.” Was all that Spike could say in an extremely aggravated tone beneath the books.
Damn! That took a while to write but if anything this chapter should show that I take my readers comments to heart (and mind in some cases). You know who you are when you read this chapter.
Comment and Discuss.
“Crime doesn't pay. Good citizens do their part.” -Super Intendant
KA-CHUNK! 42 pulled back hard on the crossbows lever, sending a bolt flying straight through the centre of one of the many apples that had been positioned along several fences at different distances from the main shooting point. The apple exploded in vibrant spray of red flesh and juicy innards. Parts flew all over the place and impacted on the surfaces of other apples, jostling them on their positions which they had maintained until that point. Before the remains of the apple could hit the ground with the bolt, 42 had drawn back the bow string and slotted another bolt onto the top of the crossbow.
They had been at this for the best part of two hours and to be honest, 42 was having a wonderful time. Adapting to the awkward pony design for a crossbow was awkward at first but had quickly been remedied by adjusting the position in which he held it slightly. The group had been competing for best shot of the group. While Luna had been fairly accurate with her use of magic and Applejack with her experience of this particular device, 42 and Rainbow Dash had been left at a slight disadvantage. 42's anatomy had left him with a pitiful score towards the beginning of the game but was slowly starting to catch up with Applejack and had already overtaken Luna. Rainbow Dash with he iconic stubbornness, or so Applejack said, refused to give up but was still trailing behind the rest of the group at such a large gap that everyone else agreed to give her double points. She still wasn't very high up on points. 42 stepped down from the shooting area and allowed Dash to take the crossbow from his hands as Luna and Applejack cheered her on.
“C'mon partner you can do it.” Dash snorted at the cheers of encouragement as though they were mocking her. Pushing herself into a bipedal position and steadying herself with her wings, she put the stock of the crossbow to her shoulder, waiting for the right moment to fire. Being a Pegasus, she had an innate feeling for the presence, direction and speed of the wind. While her shooting may have been off, it would never be at the fault of her misjudging the winds effect on the bolt's flight path. Taking a little longer than usual to line up her shot Rainbow just stood there and breathed lightly. Closing her eyes she began to concentrate. Applejack and Luna looked as confused as the other while they observed Dash perform her, odd, method of shooting.
“What in the hay is she doing.” Applejack whispered across to Luna but she stated that her guess was as good as Applejack's. 42 however stood there and impassively watched. He had seen this look before. It was a look any soldier worth his salt with a rifle would pull from time to time. He, himself had done it may times although he never really looked at his own face yet he could feel the world sink around him whenever he whipped the scoped weapon up to his shoulder and put his sight down the cross-hairs. The tiny speck of a grunts head from afar as his breath shallowed and usually stopped outright. This was the look of a trained marksman. It was obvious Dash had managed to find some sort of inner peace and with it the eye of a hawk.
Before Luna or Applejack could interject Dash opened her eyes and snapped the crossbow firmly to her shoulder. In the pull of a lever she sent the bolt flying through not one but two apples as they skewered along the bolt like a kebab stick. The bolt rested in one of the posts used for the farthest fence. Luna and Applejack stared at the feat with jaws slackened. 42 stood there smiling inside his helmet smugly as Rainbow Dash's swagger returned to her and she jovially trotted back to the rest of the group.
“I dare you to beat that Applejack!” And with that Rainbow trotted off with a gleaming smile upon her face. 42's only opinion on the matter was that someone should seriously sort out her superiority complex.
Applejack and Luna, deciding they had been at the range long enough, decided to leave and asked 42 for his company. While reluctant to leave the range he was very interested in learning more about the world he would inevitably be spending more time on, perhaps he would never leave. 42 shook that thought from his head instantly, as picturesque as this world seemed he needed to be back where he belonged, fighting to protect humanity along with the rest of the UNSC. 42 decided his top most priority for adapting to this new environment would be learning the landscape. If he could detail every piece of land off by heart then should things turn awry then he would be able to make a quick getaway, failing that guns were always an option. He must have been thinking longer than he realised because when he paid attention to the outside world again he could see Twilight's library down the road and the rest of his company chatting amongst themselves.
“So what do you think is going on then?” 42 looked down to see Rainbow Dash floating a slight distance form the floor and looking up at him.
“Oh I've been thinking about things. Wasn't paying attention.” 42 mentally face-palmed, out of all the things that a Spartan could do, blanking himself out to the outside world was as stupid as you could get. He blamed this serene world for applying no challenges to keep him on edge and active. Rainbow Dash floated up to his visor and began pointing at various Ponies and other native species of this planet. The addition of Minotaurs, Griffins and Zebras intrigued 42 but that probably wasn't what she was trying to show him. Honing in on specific ponies or creatures he quickly derived a pattern. Everyone appeared hindered and in slight pain. Looking over to Applejack and Luna, even they were clutching their heads slightly from time to time. A most peculiar incident indeed. “Why has everyone got a headache?” 42 asked looking back at Dash.
“Exactly.” Rainbow stated after wincing and holding her head again. “I don't know why everyone is like this but you seem to be the only one not experiencing it. Is there something you're not telling us?” 42 could sense some hostility creep into Rainbow's voice. Nothing major just a mild edge, a perfectly natural reaction to a situation like this.
“I honestly have no idea.” 42 told the truth and Dash seemed to ease up a bit yet still kept a close eye on him. Her large pupils giving an unnerving gaze to any lesser man but a Spartan was better than that. Walking up to the door of Twilight's, he twisted the nob and stepped inside. The first thing that came to his attention was a sheer mountain of books occupying the centre of the library's floor. Sitting around said mountain was Celestia and Twilight as they levitated books in front of their faces, quickly read a line or two, and then swapped to the next book along, sometimes doubling back on themselves. They seemed so entranced in their studies that they either hadn't noticed the group enter or had simply not bothered to acknowledge them.
42 rapped his knuckles on the wall and was in turn greeted by a clatter of books hitting the ground as Twilight and Celestia both shot their heads around. Both winced at the loud sound as did the ponies standing behind him, confirming his suspicions that they had been experiencing similar symptoms to the rest of the town.
“Ah 42 I see you have returned along with the others.” Celestia chimed in but didn’t have her usual charisma or tone. 42 knew something was definitely up at this point and with that training kicked in.
“Ma'am is everything alright?” 42 began slowly treading up to the pair as he peered at the books they were reading. He couldn't make out titles but the silhouette of a human on the front cover of one book told him enough to question further. “What are you reading?” Celestia turned her head to the same book he had been observing and picked it up in her magical aura before passing it over to him. Causing thorough surprise from 42 as he had expected some reluctance towards relinquishing the book.
“It is fine 42.” She said in a pained tone. “I thought I may have heard reference to your species before but this solidifies some sort of connection. Research has just been a tad harder than usual with this headache which seems to have enshrouded everyone’s mind. So Celestia knew about the weird outbreak of headaches then. 42 needed to look into this but was more intrigued by the book which now lay rested in his hands. Opening the pages he began to flick through them as Celestia narrated to him and the rest of the group.
“Our research has lead us to a copy of scrawls originating from the earliest points of pony history. The history of anything civilised in fact seeing as we were the first truly civilised race on this planet as far as records show. The scrawls depict a story considered nothing more than an old ponies tale but may now have some truth in it. The general idea of the story was about two god like races who looked very similar but were very different. One race of gods were known by ponies as Hoikan chu mara, translating from archaic pony dialect to something roughly along the lines of 'those who love and guide us'. They apparently raised us and the other inhabitants of this world from the stage of animals and taught us how to become self sufficient. The other species known simply as Kardem or 'the others' were very mysterious group but were mutually hated among ponies. The Hoikan watched us for untold years before involving themselves in a conflict with the Kardem. No records indicate whether they lost or not but they never returned. The Kardem however did show up to our door steps for the first time. At first ponies were not very smart and did care about the differences in their appearance, seeing it merely as a sign of escalation in physical form but they soon realised their folly”. 42 was quite shocked as to what he was hearing. Being a Spartan on a ship tasked with locating Forerunner installations he had a fair bit of classified knowledge under his belt and some of this 'old ponies tale' was adding up quite nicely with what Humans had uncovered about the ancient history of Humans and one of their foes. What gaps could be filled by this story. It was at this point that Twilight resumed where Celestia had left off.
“The Kardem began to study ponies rather than raise then and would often abduct one or two to never be seen again and this sowed distrust in the pony populace as their brethren went missing and they began to tie the links between their missing gods and these new counterparts. Members of the other native species living upon this planet witnessed similar treatment. Whoever these new gods were they were not the Hoikan and things began to come undone from there. Rebellions began rising throughout the globe but were always thwarted instantly by the gods amazing abilities but ponies were not helpless unlike the other native species as the Hoikan had previously gifted the with what we now call magic and they managed to win a few minor battles against the new enemy but they were ruthless.” Twilight held her head even more as a surge of increased pain shot through here head as did all the others in the room bar 42 himself. She quickly recovered and continued. “Things get a lot more vague from here but what is written is that before natives could secure any real victories a new threat emerged. Something described as the Gargarin deimos or 'great tide of demons' began to emerge. At first ponies and the other member species assumed these monsters had been the doing of the Kardem but those assumptions were quickly put to rest as they themselves also fought the new abomination, and were loosing. Eventually the Kardem left the world to the fate of the Gargarin but thats were things don't make sense. If the Gargarin were much more powerful than ancient ponies... how are we and the other inhabitants still around?” 42 was equally confused as was every other member of the group as they chatted vigorously amongst themselves. “How long has your species been around 42?”
“What do you mean?” He replied in a cool collective tone although he already knew where this conversation was heading. Twilight continued with her train of thought.
“Well the descriptions in these texts of the Hoikan are very accurate to what we have observed of your so far. Are the Hoikan... Humans?” Sirens were going off in 42's head. There was no way he was going to cough up possibly the biggest crunch of classified intel ever to a bunch of curious ponies, Equines be damned.
“We haven’t been around that long I can assure you. Our technology isn't even up to scratch with what the Hoikan were described to have if they gifted you magic.” This quelled her questioning for now but most certainly didn't make her happy with the results. She was about to ask more when a Celestial guard burst into the room.
“Your majesties, troubling news from Canterlot requires your attentions immediately.” He did not notice 42 as he had seen the red dot coming for ages and had began activating his active camouflage accordingly. Celestia and Luna nodded and motioned for the guard to step out of the room for a moment. With the guards leave they instantly turned towards the rest of the group.
“This must be very serious if they require both me and Luna. My little ponies...” She turned to 42 as he de-cloaked. “And 42. I would like you to remain here in Ponyville and remain vigilant in case the trouble finds its way to here. I'm sure anything that might threaten you will be swiftly dealt with by our newest guest to Equestria. I am putting a lot of faith in you to protect my student and her friends 42 I hope you respect this.” 'Respect'? 42 thought she was more of a fool to leave them in the custody of an unknown variable but he relished the chance to solidify relationships between Humans and Ponies ready for Fleetcom intervention. Once they found out that is. Celestia cut his train of thought off by continuing. “However, if I find out that you are related to the trouble or are responsible for it yourself there will be grave consequences for you.” 42 wasn't sure whether she was pulling a bluff or not but sure as hell didn't want to push an already strained situation here and gave her a mild salute instead.
“You can count on me ma'am.”
“Thank you 42.” And with that Celestia and Luna went outside to a waiting chariot and took off. 42 observed this through the window of the library but attributed this phenomenon to magic before getting himself confused. Turning towards the others he grabbed his Sniper Rifle off his back magnetic plate before loading the firing chamber.
“Alright. We're at status yellow. First order of business... terrain.”
Phew. This long already huh. Well to be honest I kinda went off this for a bit, what with being swamped by A-level work and I also wanted to ride it out for Halo 4 in case any plot points could be added, and they did, so it was totally worth it but I digress. Please note that chapters will not be regular for sometime but I will always try working some space in my schedule for this story but nothing is guaranteed. On a good note though, I'm not sure about you guys but I think my writing skill has increased ever since I began taking English A-level.
Merry Christmas (or other non/religious holidays) to all my readers. Personally I don't really celebrate Christmas at all; being a strong atheist but you guys are more than welcome to have my unused cheer and joy. :P
Chapter 10: Out of the Fire
Space flew by at a snail pace compared to the speed of the infinity even if Katherine knew she was moving faster than any land vehicle could even hope to achieve. Stars lazily drifted by without a care in the universe during their near immortal lifespans. Observing this put things in perspective for Katherine; she had even realized a few things. Nodding her helmet-less head from one hand to the other she sighed. Hours had passed since she had left the Infinity and had begun her search and rescue op.
“Space is boring...” She had to admit it. Without any glowing nebulae or stars moving at impossible speeds, it all seemed quite dull. Giving up on her venture of stargazing through the iced over screen of the Cloak 'n' Dagger's cockpit she stood up and walked out of the room looking for something more interesting to do. Walking down the main dorsal corridor of the ship, she began to explore the rooms and facilities available to her. She didn't need to be at the cockpit to find A042. The ship would notify her if it picked anything up.
The first room she came across was a medical bay with a compliment of machines to aid in dire emergencies. Three beds were placed along one side of the room to her left while the right side revealed a large work surface that spanned from one end of the room to the other and contained racks of medical supplies, from syringes to scalpels and a few small tanks of bio-foam. Leaving the room she approached the door directly opposite in the corridor. Opening it she was greeted by a blast of icy wind as she discovered the room was a rather small cryo-bay. The room was around the same size as the medical bay but the large pods and equipment that powered and maintained them used a very large portion of the room. There were six pods in total, an ample amount for her and A042 should all go to plan.
'Funny' she mused to herself. Why did she keep calling him that? She knew his real name yet she almost always referred to him by his official designation. Shaking it off as nothing more than Spartan instinct she left the room to its own and walked down the corridor to the next room. Whacking her fist against the open button on the door's frame it began to whir open at a speed Katherine was not quite happy with. After what seemed to her like an eternity, while being only five seconds, she had access to the ships armoury. Stepping inside and observing her surroundings a large grin slowly spread across her face. Perhaps one of the most maniacal grins she had ever pulled. Katherine had expected a few racks of fire-arms and that would be all. What she was greeted with was a vast assortment of weapons from both UNSC and Covenant manufacturers. True, not all members of the old covenant were against the human race, only a few factions with largest being the 'Storm' were truly opposed to humanities existence. Katherine,s smile soured a moment. No matter how much UNSC and loyalist co-operation had come along in the last few years, she knew there were those who would always have issues, 42 being one of them. To him it didn't matter if you were loyalist or storm. A-042 would rather hold a box of explosives for his local neighborhood Innie rather than work with a squid lip or any other alien.
She put the thought out her mind and looked more acutely at the weapons available to her. All the UNSC weapons models were up to date and she had a large variety from Magnums to Rocket-launchers and even a Spartan-laser. The Covenant side was a tad more outdated in some respects. True, there were weapons from the current Covenant rebellion such as the Storm Rifle that was manufactured by the rebels, but she couldn't see a single updated Beam Rifle or Fuel-rod Gun. However there were quite a few relics among the collection. Brushing her hand along the rack she pulled out two weapons she hadn't seen in years. In her left hand rested as Plasma Rifle with a production date imprinted on the grip that out it close to the end of the Human-Covenant war. In her right hand sat a Plasma Repeater, there was no production date anywhere on the body but it must have been extremely old because the Repeater was discontinued a few weeks before the invasion of Reach and the main blue alloy that coated its surface was beginning to give way to a more dull and grey tone underneath. She put the weapons back to their separate storage clips and began waltzing around the room to pick some weapons more suitable for her taste. Covenant weapons weren't really her style.
After a few minutes of careful choosing she came up with a light yet sufficient load-out. Her chosen tools of destruction were a model BR85HB aka the Battle Rifle, an M7 SMG and finally a titanium nano-fibre blade sheathed to the top right of her breast plate. Giving both guns a silencer and the SMG a red-dot sight she had created what she believed to be a light and stealthy reconnaissance load-out. Stepping towards the end of the armoury she picked through a rack of armour abilities to use. Selecting Active Camouflage and putting an old Armour Lock module in her tactical case she stepped out of the armoury and walked over to the second to last door down the corridor.
She found nothing of major importance to her inside what she now recognised as a minor vehicle depot. The only things in there were some maintenance tools and two mongooses. She was about to turn and leave when she noticed another, slightly larger object residing beneath a large cloth. Stepping over she grasped the edge of the fabric and whipped it off in one swoop of her arm. Underneath where the cloth had been sat something Katherine found very interesting. A Type-32 RAV otherwise known as a Ghost, sat inactive on the ground with a glittering sheen suggesting it was brand-new. The model definitely matched up with the more recent production notes but there were one or two differences here and there. Nothing major except the usual Covenant hieroglyphs were scratched off and instead were replaced with metal replications of the UNSCDF logo which here stuck on in some way Katherine couldn't see. That explains why this door was sightly larger than the others. Leaving the Ghost in the room she stepped out and decided to walk to the end of the corridor despite knowing what was on the other side of the final large door.
On the other side of this door was a relatively large drop bay and had been the one she had entered through upon first boarding the ship. The bay itself had little to no insulation and would be almost as cold as the endless field of space around her. She decided it was best not to open it quite yet and freeze herself to death. Turning away from the door she was about to walk to the small maintenance ladder which would take her down to the engine room when she felt a large rumble through the ship which threw her off balance slightly and caused her to grip the solid cables running the walls for support. The rumble quickly subsided but was followed by a small feeling of inertia as the ship twisted to the right slightly from what Katherine could feel. Taking this as a bad sign she quickly dashed up the corridor to the flight deck and entered the room with great haste. Not bothering to close the door behind her she immediately leapt over the back of the pilots seat and landed on the cushioned pads with a loud 'thwump'.
She observed the display screens which had lowered over the main viewing window and saw no anomalies other than the slightly altered course. Radiation levels and and interior pressure were standard. Star charts of the known area indicated that there should be no objects to hinder her flight path. Perhaps she had passed a stray asteroid and had been shifted slightly on her path by its gravitational pull. Not wanting to be assured on hopes and guesses she quickly flipped the displays up over her head and observed space with her own eyes only to be met with a sight that was both beautiful and rued to her at the same time for different reasons. Before her sat a large planet with swirling clouds and a brilliant blue atmosphere with slight hints of green and sections of wispy green gases seeping off the the planet to create a celestial wave effect. All in all it reminded her a lot of photos of Reach taken from space well before its destruction. What had filled her with rue was that if the ship had turned to the planets presence it meant that it had caught her in its gravitational grasp. Why the ship's displays had not picked this world up she did not know but what she did know was that this was close to A-042's drop off point from slip-space and most likely had him on its surface and she would be damned if she was also going to crash upon this planet and strand them both here.
She pulled the main piloting stick away from the dashboard and began hammering in commands to the engine from the primary console. Jerking back hard on the stick she felt little to no movement from the ships previous path towards the large turquoise marble. She applied more power to the engines for a reverse thrust but still met similar results. She repeated the process in vain for nearly three minutes before the ship rumbled again and she could feel the ship begin to heat up slightly. Looking through the main window she could see that a heat cone was already beginning to form this high up in the atmosphere that she had just begun to enter. An anomaly she would investigate later, given that she would survive this first. She buckled up with every possible form of restraint to keep her in the seat and began a mighty wrestling match with the control stick and the ship's engine. She fought hard and true but could not budge the ship from its unintended path. It was obvious to her at this point that external forces were acting upon her at this point, it had to be Covenant. Most likely the Storm faction seeing as no other hostile force could obtain technology of this standard. Refusing to give in and die, Katherine continued to wrestle with the controls as the cockpit built up to heats almost no human could bear but she was a Spartan and she quickly slipped on her helmet to help her compensate with the unbearable temperatures. Merely around 20 seconds before impact the controls suddenly responded to the engine and the ships movement freed up allowing her as much control as she could muster on this descent. However there was nowhere near enough space to pull up and escape so she flattened out the craft as much as she could and cut some speed with a bit more friction. Of course the added resistance from the underside of the ship caused some panels from the outer hull to simply rip off in a cacophony of screeching metal.
Reaching behind her back she unplugged her Active Camouflage and plugged in her Lock-up module in its steed and prepared for a risky gamble. Seconds away from impact Katherine smashed the controls to the side and activated her Armour Lock-up at overdrive capacity. The ship responded to her actions and suddenly jerked sideways and continued to move in a more curved, swooping angle. The first part of the ship to touch the ground was the right wing which quickly carved large gashed into the landscape beneath her. Trees and other wildlife unfortunate enough to get caught in the ships path were instantly smeared and upturned by the massive hulking wreck of the ship. The rest of the ship soon followed suit with the right wing and bit by bit dug into the dirt. The entire ship was now at this point skidding along the ground at speeds not suitable for the overall integrity of the ships structure. Sizeable chunks flew off behind the ship as it coasted along on its destructive course but Katharine’s gamble had paid off and though the right wing has practically disintegrated at this point; acceptable damage had been done to the cockpit allowing a larger survival chance than if the ship had crashed nose first. The ship continued to skid and Katherine held on until a large object unrecognizable to her in the moment of stress, had flew off the wall and now shot at her forehead at great speeds. The large item would have taken her head off were it not for the Armour Lock-up and served only to smack her across the face and rebounding up over her head. Before the crash could even finish she was subjected to blackness as her limbs went limp in the seat but only stayed in place from the the now solidified energy shielding of the Lock-up effect. Her last thoughts of the moment before fully giving in were of how pissed the Captain was going to be that she wrecked one of his ships.
Elsewhere on the planet a blue figure ran at tremendous speeds over hills and through forests to reach the crash...
42 stood before a large oak table with a map of the local area spread before him. Twilight had been running him through the basics of the local terrain which he had picked up all too quickly and were now onto the marking of tactical defensive and choke points. Twilight didn't know much about conventional Human or even Pony tactics but she provided what help she could. Twilight continued to map points on the parchment and explained him as 42 listened intently.
“Right there is an area known to most Equestrians as Crystal Cave.” She pointed to a small area surrounded by shallow hills to create a bowl effect with forests surrounding those hills. The place looked like it naturally was supposed to deter curious onlookers just from the terrain itself. Twilight continued with her explanation. “The reason for its name and danger is a large abundance of crystal structures that tower into the air. They contain a dark magic no pony, not even Celestia herself has fully grasped and understood yet. The place was garrisoned by the local Ponyville guard until it was overrun with changelings and left for abandon by powers higher up.” Twilight looked up to 42 who was brushing his hand across the faceplate of his Warrior class helmet as if in deep thought. He picked his sniper up from its resting position against the table and slung it across his back along with his storm rifle.
“Sounds like my first port of call then.” He turned to move outside via the front door but was blocked by the other members of the small group. The orange one who he remembered as Applejack stepped forward.
“Sugar-cube, this here is as much our responsibility as it is yours. We're coming with ya.” The other ponies nodded in agreement while the purple dragon gave him the thumbs up.
“Absolutely not. Mission command has given me a direct... request for your safety. I intend to maintain good relations by meeting those parameters.” The ponies stood before him defiant against his declaration for them to remain in the town. Twilight was the first to reply in verbally.
“Unfortunately for you Mr 42, you don't have enough err... hands to keep us all here and we know the way better than you from personal experience. We're going to help you whether you like it or not.” She topped the statement off with a daring and adventurous glare, hoping to boost his confidence in them.
42 was in a tough situation. He couldn't bring them with him for risk of loosing them and destroying all diplomatic progressions made so far. However he couldn't force them to remain without getting violent. “Fine.” He grumbled. “But only on the condition that you follow my directives and commands to the exact letter. I don't want some green horns messing this situation up.” Twilight and Rarity sat there trying to inspect their horns at his comment while the other nodded their heads vigorously in agreement. Pinkie had one more question though.
“What's a green horn?” 42 ignored the question and walked towards the door in small, controlled strides while the ponies followed behind in an eager fashion. 42 couldn't help but feel like this was going to crash and burn in no time.
- - - -
Dust floated in the air of vast metallic corridors as machinery moved and floated around in a quiet whisper. Some machines performed mundane tasks while others guarded the catacombs with brilliant lances of light when the time required. These machines had not seen use in thousands of millennia. Their now moving forms had previously been hibernating until an event occurred. An event so significant, so integral to the great plan that only when that event occurred could they finally fulfil the main priority of their existence. The catacombs traced for miles upon miles and many places were sat in a state of disrepair and neglect as time had worn on these once magnificent constructions. Many devices glided about the place like a swarm of organised and harmonious bees. Moving through the vast spaces and cramped access vents was one device with a task of critical importance. The ancient machines had picked up faint sensory data which could mean many things but the more higher up and intelligent machines concluded that one thing must have happened. The event. And per protocol, appropriate measures must be taken to ensure the great pan was properly conducted.
The small device darted down a side access way, away from its peers and continued on for minutes before reaching a large chamber with a lone device floating in the centre. The device in mention was in deep hibernation and was kept afloat via a small gravity beam.
The other device floated around it fellow machine to check for any damage. Once satisfied with its conclusion of no harm enacted upon the small orb it proceeded to beep its tiny circular, orange coloured eye in a pattern of hundreds of blips in mere moments. The device waited there a few moments before repeating the strange display flashes. This time a dull hum could be heard as the small orb's own eye began to slowly light up into a rich purple. The gravity beam cut out and the small orb floated there on its own accord for a moment. It turned slowly on its axis, observing the chambers around it before settling its singular eye on the other device who had delivered the message. The device played its strange message to the purple one once more. It sat there contemplating the data which had been given to it before it finally did one thing. It burbled in a joyous yet metallic tone. “The time has come. Oh splendid.”
- - - -
The hike towards Crystal Cave had taken much longer than 42 would have liked with these equines in tow, especially the white one. While joyous to help at first she had quickly settled into a routine pattern of complaining about the dirt, weather and generally anything else she found at odds with her personal taste. They had cleared the surrounding forests without incident and were no descending the hill towards the point designated Crystal Cave.
42 could see why it looked so terrifying to most citizens of this world. The area around the large cave entrance was covered in black charred rock as if a volcanic eruption had happened here in the last few years coupled with an earthquake not too long after to send all the rocks at jagged angles from the ground. It reminded him of the surface of any world which had recently taken a glassing back during the war. The thought sent his rage bubbling inside but he suppressed it quickly and turned back to the ponies. “Okay. You said this place was infested with Changelings...” 42 had learned as much as he could from Twilight on the journey about these things but she couldn’t tell him much other than what she had encountered. They were quite a reclusive group for obvious reasons. 42 continued after his short pause for thought. “These things will see us coming if we trek the rest of the way. I want everyone to hug the dirt and follow me.” The ponies gave him confused looks from his idiom. He sighed and rephrased. “It means keep low and keep stealthy.”
Everyone obliged but one. 42 should have seen this 'one' coming. “Are you mad! The dirt will ruin my coat why you would want to 'hug' it is beyond me” The white one complained. 42 had taken enough of her consistent complaining and got right in Rarity's face spooking the daylights out of her.
“Where I come from, the dirt is one of your best friends. If you didn't hug the dirt when you needed to you ended up dead or worse...!” Rarity wasn't sure what was worse than death but she didn't want to find out. She whined slightly but followed his orders and pushed herself closer to the floor while attempting to ignore the massive amount of OCD which was blaring in her head about the filth below. She feigned a small, sheepish smile and motioned him to continue on.
Nodding in response he turned back to face the destination and drew his Magnum for easy use coupled with ranged capabilities on the sloped terrain. The rest of the trek down was rather uneventful and they soon stood before the stretching land of charred black rock. 42 turned towards the others.
“Wait here. Move up when I give you the signal, you'll know what it is when you see it.” The ponies nodded and 42 activated his active camouflage module as he moved into the labyrinth of jutting ledges and rocky spines.
The girls stood around for what seemed like minutes before any of them spoke. Applejack was the first. “What do y'all suppose he wants to know so badly about this place?”
“Beats me Applejack but I know when he needs us to move in we get to show him we're not weak and get to kick some changeling but at the same time.” Rainbow boasted this loudly while miming some air punches in the general direction of the cave entrance which was obscured by the large spires of natural mineral formation. Twilight began to walk backwards and forwards.
“It doesn't make sense. Of all the places to explore, why here. There are thousands of easier to defend, less dangerous locations all around and in Ponyville. He knows something... something he's not telling us.”
“Are you sure Twilight. I don't think he's a very mean pony... I mean person.” Fluttershy interjected in her usual timid tone brought on by the surrounding landscape.
“I'm sure Fluttershy. We just need to find out what it is without him realising.” Twilight's train of thought was cut off as a small rock flew through the air and crashed in front of her hooves coming to a rest between her forelegs. Picking it up with her magic the other girls huddled around the object as she inspected it. Floating it around she eventually spotted and arrow hastily carved into the rock from some sort of blade. She showed this to the girls and they agreed it was the signal they were waiting for. Slowly they began to advance in the direction the rock had flown from.
'What lurkes in the dark isn't always your enemy.' ~ Lord Hood's final words.
War was never a simple thing. It was always changing, evolving. Those who did not adapt died. Humanity knew this fact all too well. After all. War was all humanity knew anymore. The same could be said for one A-042, otherwise known as 42, or Aidan to his friends. War followed him relentlessly through his life. Born during the Human-Covenant war he had never known a time of peace until the Prophets were brought to their knees. By then he was a man, yet as ever the case war had already taken its costly toll.
All soldiers had their own story. A harrowing event which turned them into who they were now. The loss of a friend. Watching a world burn around you from orbital bombardment. Aidan's had been something different alltogether. That wasn't to say the experiences of others weren't scary, just logical. The fear experienced by Aidan and those who survived with him were very much more primal.
The ancient caveman did not wake to fear his world would immolate around him. Nor did he fear the loss of a kin. Such things were the course of nature. What ancient man did fear was what wasn't obvious and what couldn't be seen. Those monsters that lurked in the dark never truly left the human mind and now took many forms buth physical and metaphorical as humanity had blossomed from simple primate to master of the atom and even further. 42 had experienced something which would forever keep his mind open to this woes and fears of barbaric nature. They had saved him many times before yet also haunted him. It was both a blessing and a curse, further enhanced by his Spartan training and augmentation.
At the time of the event, Aidan was nothing more than a simple Corporal of the Marines. Attatched to the fleet known as Einstein's Promise, the current goal was to help drive off a Covenant incursion from the Dejar system which was home to one rock world and a triplet of gas giants. The fleet was to drop Marine and ODST forces onto the rocky planet named Dejar, after the archaic internet langauge taken from the planets home star known as D-3j4r. While the grounds forces secured the surface the fleet would simultaneously engage the Covenant cruisers in orbit.
Dejar was of great importance to the UNSC. It was a world roughly 5% larger than Earth and had an incredibly high metal and mineral deposite across its entire body, one of the most common metals being Iron which attributed to its Mars like appearance before Earth's neighboor was terraformed into the fertile jungle world it is now. There was something both odd and fascinating about this world. The planet rotated on its axis at a pace almost identical to the speed at which it orbited its local star. Seeing as the 378 Earth day orbit was at pace with the rotation, the planet had days much longer than years to an extremem amount even so. One side had been facing the central star since the UNSC had first arrived on this world 82 years ago and was estimated to take 4,017 years to move from midday to midnight. This lead to there being no ecosystem on thw world despite residing within the habital zone of the system. It also meant that the onyl way to liv eon this half cooked, half froozen wastleand of a planet was in vast domes with amazing cities and artificial habitats built within by UNSC contractors. The domes were more or less completely sealed from the outside world and even opted to use advanced lighting systems to emulate day and night within the domes themselves. 23 domes were spread across the day side of this planet and were linked to one another by a large underground train system so supplies and personell may be ferried around. Miners mostly lived on this world though a few other citizen careers were used to help assist the maintanance of the domes.
The invading Covenant fleet was deemed much too small for a target of this much value and they also refused to glass the world below them as was tradition among the alien collective. many ONI officials had concluded at a later date that the Covenant were nothing more than a recon fleet who had stumbled upon this system by chance and upon discovering Forerunner relics - which had been dug up by the miners - then refused to glass anything of potential value to them and also refused to leave the sytem because of their stubborn pride and unwillingness to leave such holy items in the hands of humans.
Einstein's Promise outnumbered the Covenant fleet 6 to 1 initially but faced increasing odds as more Covenant scouts arrived to assist the small alien fleet. Ships continued to arrive one after another within 30 minute intervals for hours but their method of arriving one at a time did little to help. The ensuing battle lasted nearly 3 days of non-stop crossfire with Einstein's promis loosing half their initial fleet and almost completely draining all ammunition reserves. These events had also left the men of the surface of the world without naval support for those 3 days and therefore without transport or reinforcments.
While Covenant troops had been deployed in all 23 domes, they had not the numbers to deal with a full military campaign against them on the red world. Corporal J. Moore was deployed in dome 10 along with the rest of Delta company. Of the 164 brave men and women deployed only 31 remained after dealing with the initial Covenant threat. It wasn't long before they had discovered that the alien fanatics had not forgone the use of a contigency plan. As the final Covenant bastion fell in Ngasaki plaza several hundred fusion cores were detonated across the entirety of dome 10 by the last standing Elite Zealot whos last words were a butchered English sentence.
"I hope she remembers her manners."
The surviving 31 assumed he had attempted to crack the dome and depressaurise the inside, killing all within. Since they were not choking to death it was assumed a failure and all remianing forces pulled back the airlocks for pickup. It wasn't long until the they discovered the Zealot's true use of the explosives.
During the instense firefights of dome 10, it was noticed that the Covenant had an unusually high number of Yanme'e drones to support them. It was chalked up to random troop deployment when in reality the Covenant had deployed much more sinister to the catacombs below dome 10. A hive queen had been dormant below and the vast array of exploding fusion cores caused a small seismic event awakening her. Not only had the explosion awoken a hive of Yanme'e proverbially kicking the hornets nest, it had also crashed the local data frame for the dome's Super Intendant locking all means of escape to the outside world and jamming the dome in a permanent state of darkness. Only 9 soldiers made it out of there alive. With no Covenant overlords to guide them the drones quickly turned feral and the whole ordeal was desribed as nightmare fuel with a splash of aliens the film by one plucky ODST who was lucky enough to survive.
Those hours of freakish tortue had left 42 a stronger person and some may argue that was what allowed him to become a Spartan IV. He wasn't so sure of that though he told many who asked that the only thing that kept him going down there was the steady and rythmic 'thump thump thump' of his 60 bullet mag MA5B. He referred to it as a second heartbeat and always appreciated a chance to fire of an old and outdated model.
This time however 42 had no such luxury. The steady thumping was now replced by something only desribable as spitting electricity. Another green bolt of energy whizzed by his visor as he turned to face his black carapaced foe before melting half of its face with a burst from his Storm Rifle. These 'Changelings' as Twilight had named them were proving to be a real pain in the ass. Their bolts of energy proved to be no more dangerous than a plasma pistol to the blue clad Spartan. The issue was that the same principle applied to the 6 ponies and 1 dragon following him. Pinkie Pie had already taken a blast to her left thigh and was in serious danger of bleeding out. Twilight had erected a small force field to keep them off of her pink friend and the others while Rarity attempted to heal Pinkie Pie with her magic and some aid from 42's bio-foam injector. These bug eyed freaks had nothing of the Yanme'e but were proving to be almost as annoying nonetheless. Beings were going to die if he didn't do something fast.
"42 I don't suppose you have a plan?" Twilight called from across the barrier with sweat pouring down her forehead from the effort of holding the barrier up for such a long time under this onslaught. These changelings were much more viscios than the ones who had stormed Canterlot castle not too long ago. It was possible that these one had lost their minds and had become feral after Queen Chrysalis's banishment from the province via the shock-wave produced by her brother and his wife Princess Cadance. Shifting her attention back to the now she received a grunt from the blue behemoth in front of her as he unleashed another salvo from one of his strange devices into the flying swarms dropping another dozen of them to the ground as they screeched in pain during their death throws from melting limbs and the like.
Twilight wasn't exactly unaware of death. She had read plenty on Equestria's somewhat controversial history and everyone knew of the three pony tribes, yet seeing it in person made her feel sick to her stomach. How Shiny could ever tolerate this as his job she would never understand.
When the changelings had first ambushed them 42 had reacted as though he already knew of their presence mere moments before, as though he had a sixth sense giving him an omniscient presence. Perhaps humans could do that, she would have to ask him later. For now, she needed something to distract her from the growing headache developing above her temples caused by the continuous use of such a strong spell. While Twilight was a very gifted unicorn, she had nowhere near the same level of training in defensive and offensive spells as any royal guard may have had. She kept this one up through brute strength and determination rather than calculated efficiency as those who dabbled in these practices may have had.
Twilight decided to focus on the alien device in 42's claws... err hands. It was weird, even for the alien. While he and his other items all seemed built to be practical and robust, this device was different. It was sleek and curvy in all manner of places rather than a series of jagged edges welded to one another. The goal of this weapon seemed to be maintain efficiency while expressing finesses towards the enemy as they were cut down like blades of grass before a lawnmower. Plenty of, what she could only describe as runes, were engraved into the weapons purple metallic skin and the construction of the weapon put a lot of emphasis on detail down to the tiniest inscription. Why was it purple rather than the blacks and greys she had seen on his other devices. Perhaps it was an item forged by those menacing creatures she had seen on the moving projection 42 had shown them. The handle shape and projectile type seemed to match up though Twilight couldn't really tell for sure.
Unlike the others 42 had opted to stay outside the dome and thin the enemies numbers. Twilight had declined but did not have much choice in the matter as he jumped well out of her operational range before she could activate it. At first she had worried for him and how he was going to survive very numerous and very lethal projectiles emanated from the horde of the changelings though her fears were quickly put to rest as some personalised forcefield wreathed 42 and protected him from the green projectiles.
Bodies had begun to trail behind them as 42 cleared a path deeper into the bowels of the cave. Fluttershy was having a rough time of it as she attempted to hold the contents of her stomach in each time a corpse passed through the mobile forcefield. Applejack had Pinkie strewn over her back as Rarity worked as much magic into her a possible for her limited medical experience. Twilight wished she could heal Pinkie herself but knew Rarity was not even remotely capable of such a forcefield herself. It was the very tough realisation that she would have to risk Pinkie of risk everypony. Difficult to deal with for sure but she knew where her loyalties lay. Rainbow Dash was pressed right up against the front end of the forcefield and making threatening gazes to any changeling who came close. She wanted in on the action outside the dome but Twilight had flat out refused to let her fight. 42 was a trained warrior who no doubt had countless experiences of battle judging from what she had seen. Rainbow. Had none.
"Hey! Big, blue and lanky." Rainbow called through the barrier gaining a margin of 42's attention. "Why're we heading deeper into the cave?" Indeed it was a good question. Twilight yet again gained that feeling that 42 knew something they didn't. This was only fortified in her beliefs when he replied.
"Reclamation and salvation." As he said this the weapon in his hand spluttered and coughed before giving out. Twilight could hear him curse under his breath before slinging the purple machine on his back and pulling out the smaller white and grey device from his hip and began letting off much louder 'bang' sounds instead of the old sizzling that came from the previous device though changeling bodies dropped all the same. Twilight had begun to wonder what this strange riddle meant but before she could ask another sound permeated the dense air of the cave. A strange humming. They were very far underground by this point and Twilight could not even begin to fathom who would sanely live down here. What perplexed her even more was that 42 tensed even more than she though possible and heard him mutter something.
"It's about damn time." He fired off another shot from his device and dropped a small, long cuboid from the handle before inserting a new one and pulling the top part of the device backward and letting go. He took aim at another creatures face but was beaten to the punch as a thin graceful beam of orange energy pierced the changeling's skull and shot out the other end. The humming grew louder and louder with each passing second as more and more orange and sometimes blue beams shot out from hidden locations in the cave walls, each beam hitting their mark and dropping another foul creature.
Before long their assailants began to thin immensely though more always arrived to assist the primary bulk and the ponies saviour or saviours finally revealed themselves. Small metal creatures floated into view and all the ponies bar Pinkie began looking around the cave roof to take in the dozens upon dozens of odd metal insects that wafted through the air above them. One of the new bugs lowered itself to Twilight's level and passed through the forcefield with no trouble at all. Rainbow prepared to strike but was waved of by Twilight with her left hoof. The bug, or rather machine now that she had a closer look, was most definitely a strange sight. It bobbed up and down before her before cocking to the side slightly as though confused. Twilight subconsciously mimicked the action as she too tried to suss the nature of these new beings.
Peering past the machine she spotted 42 walking towards the bubble now that the changeling threat had been subdued. Twilight took this as her cue to drop the forcefield and immediately bolted to Pinkie in order to do all she could to save her. Examining her injured form Twilight discovered that though the attack had been devastating to the pink mare, there were no shrapnel wounds or anything of the sort thanks to the nature of energy based magical projectiles. A simple yet large spell would be all that was required to stabilize Pinkie and it would require a fair sum of concentration. Concentration she did not have as the humming became even more intense as though it were right behind her. Close to breaking point Twilight spun round with fire in her eyes and was about to yell in the face of whatever was so rude as to disrupt her but never got the chance as whatever had been humming cut into her moment with a short and equally perplexing statement for such a simple subject.
Twilight starred at the orb for what seemed like an eternity to her but in truth had been but moments. Comprehension had taken a back seat in her mind as she spluttered about like a fire starved of oxygen.
"I... uh, but... wuh?" Was the best she could manage in these circumstances. The fact that her usually bright and cheery friend was now very calm as she lay bleeding on the floor seemed to have slipped from her mind. It however had not slipped the small metal orb's notice.
"Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear oh dear. It appears one of your cohorts has befallen most grievous injuries. Allow me." The metal orb pushed past her and floated towards Pinkie. Twilight was about to object but was halted by a large blue hand being placed on her shoulder. Turning her head upwards she met face to face, or rather face to helmet, with 42 who's only response was to place a solitary finger against his faceplate. Twilight picked up on the gesture as a symbol of silence due to its similarity with Griffon gestures and pushed her jaw closed. 42 nodded and proceeded to point towards Pinkie and the metal orb. gesturing for Twilight to look in the same direction.
The small metal orb was busy emitting a green aura about itself and took up where Rarity and Twilight had left off. Firing short red bursts from its central eye... thing, the orb slowly began to cauterise Pinkies wounds, each time eliciting a pained gasp from the pink mare. All the areas sealed by the burning effect miraculously began to heal at lightning rates. Something Twilight could only guess was the work of the green aura emitting from this small metal device. The rest of her friends had gathered in a small semi-circle now to witness this rather odd miracle. The object looked as though it was using magic though it was no magic Twilight was familiar with. All its powers were different colours and since when could objects harness their own magic. They only acted as magic storage or boosters... usually. The object cut off the green aura and ceased firing red beams as Pinkie. Turning around it completely ignored her and the others and focused its attention of 42 instead.
"The procedure is complete. I calculate a 99.26429% chance of survival. Though an inefficient 62.36426% of long term tissue and muscle damage. Further treatment may be required at regular intervals to avoid permanent damage." The orb seemed to shine brighter as though mimicking a smile. Twilight thought this a very inappropriate time to be smiling but she was relieved by Pinkie's greatly improved condition. Something irked her though. Why was this thing acting so familiar with 42. Speaking of the blue giant, he had stepped forward from the rest of the group and was now face to face with the strange metal object. The object seemed to have no obligation to this and even shined the tinniest bit brighter at 42's presence.
"I wasn't expecting an Ecumene class monitor." 42 was brief and terse about his words to this device now apparently named a monitor. Twilight's nagging fears that these two somehow knew one another began to grow and what on Equis was an Ecumene?
"Ah Reclaimer. I am delightfully surprised by your understanding of my existence. Has contact been made with other instillations? Or perhaps you have discovered remnants of my creator's empire? Oh how simply exciting!"
"We're aware of several forerunner installations and have made contact with multiple monitors, most notably 049 Abject Testament. I assume you are aware of him?" The orb seemed to dull a bit to this response but quickly perked up once more.
"Alas Reclaimer. While I am indeed a monitor of Ecumene status, I am unfortunately not gifted with the knowledge of my fellow monitors for security reasons as I am sure 049 has told other Reclaimers." Twilight's curiosity was peaked now. She had to figure out what was going on.
"42. What is this... thing?" 42 snapped his head to her and Twilight imagined he was glaring at her as though she interrupted an important occasion but quickly shifted his attention to the monitor who had been looking at her also.
"Monitor. Introduce yourself." 42's tone was gruff and seemed more of an order than a request. This did not deter the monitor in the slightest as he only glowed brighter at his chance communicate more with 42 whom he had labelled a Reclaimer.
"Gladly. Greetings. I am 412 Halting Transgression, monitor of sub-instillation designate 62-alpha. Though you may call me anything more convenient upon yours or the Reclaimer's request." There was that term again.
"Uh... Reclaimer? Ah beg your pardon." It seemed Applejack had beaten her to the punch. The monitor turned towards 42 and produced sounds akin to surprise.
"Reclaimer. I find it surprising that you have yet to tell them of a heritage as rich as yours. Such information is critical for endeavors such as this."
"We haven't exactly known each other very long. This is a first contact scenario which I'm sure you can figure out what that means." 42 holstered his small weapon and took a slightly more casual stance.
"First contact. Oh how wonderful! I shall begin diplomatic subroutines immediately..."
"That wont be necessary." 42 cut in. "All initial procedures have been followed as closely as possible to UNSC standards as possible. You got a problem with that, talk to ONI." The more 42 seemed to be around this Halting Transgression, the more venomous he seemed to become in his tone of voice. If the monitor noticed any of this it certainly didn't show it. "What I want to know now is why there's a Forerunner instillation on this planet and more specifically, why it requires an Ecumene class monitor to operate?"
"That question is simple Reclaimer. Research and development. My masters thought it worth while to study the interesting effects your predecessors had upon this world though the installation was never fully finished before the firing of the array and... Oh. Reclaimer it has just come to my attention that an interstellar ship has entered this installations atmosphere. It seems to be on a steep angle of descent. Possibly from the strong attraction of the installations Dyson core. Signal patterns match your combat skin. I judge assistance may be required." 42 didn't need to hear anymore.
"UNSC!? Here? We're getting to the surface. Monitor your coming with us." 42 seemed in a rush but Twilight's curiosity still had not been fully sedated. 42 knew things he wasn't telling and she needed to know. To tell the Princesses.
"Wait! What about this research an development Transgression was talking about? And why does he seem so interested in you, whats really going on?" 42 spun on his heels and motioned for them to follow.
"There's no time for that! We need to get to the surface ASAP. Form up and follow, I'll carry Pinkie." At this point the monitor had floated in front of 42 again as he went to pick up Pinkie.
"Reclaimer if I may propose. While the installation was not fully constructed, portions of the teleportation grid were finished. May I suggest a rapid transfer to the closest area of the predicted landing site?"
"Fine make it quick!" 42 snapped back. The monitor only seemed to glow brighter at this mild abuse. Twilight would have to have strong words with 42 and the Princesses about 42 and his collection of secrets along with this new developing situation and especially his attitude.
"Splendid. Please remain as still as possible. It increases the efficiency of the teleportation process." Twilight was about to question how such a small orb could teleport all nine of them but was quickly silenced in awe as gold rings began pulsing up her being. Each pulse brought an increased feeling of dizziness until eventually she felt as though she was falling in every direction possible and couldn't see a thing. She was about to assume that Transgression's attempt at teleporting had seriously wounded her until a massive wave of light washed over her eyes, causing them to clamp shut in order to stop the tears. She felt solid ground beneath her and instantly fell to the floor coughing and hacking, taking deep breaths of air between each splutter. He ears picked up that more than one of her friends were doing likewise.
Slowly coming to her senses she peeled open her eyelids and lifted her head so she could look around. Her friends all seemed to be laid on their sides hacking and coughing while 42 was standing tall and watching a large trail of smoke streak across the sky. Whether he had been standing the entire time or had just gotten up she couldn't tell. Shifting back to her friends her mind began to prioritize.
"Is everyone okay?"
"I'll get back to you on that darling." Rarity was the first to reply though she sounded as though she was about to be sick.
"Ah'll live." Applejack seemed to fair the best after her and was already climbing to her hooves. The others all let out small groans except Pinkie whom had her back to the rest of the group. When she made no response Twilight feared the worst and rushed to her side. Shaking her slightly, Pinkie rolled over and greeted Twilight with a loud snore as her tongue rolled out of her mouth and onto the floor.
"Five more minutes." Pinkie said sleepily while squinting her already closed eyes. Twilight felt as though a dozen Manticores had been taken off her shoulders and one of them had stopped pawing around with her heart. Elated she turned back to the other girls and Spike.
"She's going to be okay everypony." She could feel a genuine smile spread over her face and move to all her friends like a virus. 42 still didn't seem to be paying attention though as he quietly conversed with Transgression, the latter doing a rather poor job of keeping quiet.
"I understand the situation now Reclaimer. These files have filled in a lot of lost time! So exciting! Human history is it? Though I am truly sorry for the circumstances your species has found itself within against your fellow galactic neighbors." 42 merely grunted which caused Transgression to edge a little closer. "Reclaimer I assure you that I will do my best to succeed where my fellow monitors have failed. Where protocol was formed in the absence of authority. You're presence overrides such regulations. A procedure the others should have followed. *Tsk* Such a waste of Forerunner technology." Twilight really wanted to understand what was going on now more than ever but was yet again interrupted by Spike belching a waft of green flame, meaning only one thing. Snatching the letter from the air with her magic and promptly bringing it before her face she read as fast as she possibly could.
"Girls! There's an emergency in Canterlot. The Princesses require our attendance right away." 42 shifted around at the mention of this.
"What? I'm not going. I've got to track that ship."
"Good. Because Celestia said specifically not to bring you along. Good luck with your space buddies." Twilight was getting tired with 42's rapidly devolving attitude and decided to get a little snappy with him herself. "Oh and also. When we get back things need to get established because you must think I'm an idiot if I haven't noticed that you seem to know quite a lot but don't seem to be saying much. C'mon girls... and Spike." The others arose and began to walk down the hill with her. Applejack stopping only a moment to help Pinkie up and sling one of her pink legs over her shoulder. After a few moments only 42 and 412 standing/floating atop the hill, watching them walk off.
"Well Reclaimer... that was... unexpected. Shall we continue to track trajectory?" 412 turned around to see 42 already running at breakneck speeds after the trail of smoke which arched closer and closer to the horizon with every passing second. "Oh dear." And with that Halting Transgression floated off after him, whistling a small tune as he went.
Things were not going well, Celestia could tell the instant she had arrived at the castle. Politicians, General and even the castle maids were running about frantically relaying messages back and forth throughout the castle. Luna had questioned the guards as to what the predicament was when they were riding the air chariot, however the guards had told them both that they had been simply sent to pick them up. They were as unaware of the issue as they were though they did know that there had been a rapid influx of ponies, apparently traumatized, from across all of Equestria arriving at the castle and the captain of the Royal Guard, one Shinning Armour had asked specifically for the Princesses to be fetched immediately.
Now she was at the castle, she could tell how bad things really were. Panic seemed to be strewn across everypony's face and everypony whom she had asked on the way to the throne room had replied in hurried and rather incomprehensible babble before dashing off to complete their task. This process repeated until she bumped into one of her top generals Iron Hoof. Unlike the others he seemed to be a bit more calm and collected though this was still strange as Iron Hoof was the closest analogy an earth pony could be to an ice cube. The stallion was a tactical genius. She had heard from the maids that his shiny grey coat and brown main complimented his rugged personality perfectly though she would be inclined to disagree. Back to the task at hand though. Iron was busy picking up some scrolls he had dropped after bumping into her and was busy scooping them up.
"A thousand pardons your Majesties. I did not see you there." Celestia and Luna smiled at this. He was ever the gentlecolt and seemed to be stuck in his old ways of formality, even in times of distress.
"Do not worry Iron. I trust you are in a rush for a reason?" Celestia replied. Iron Hoof's expression momentarily brightened but quickly sunk to his previous dull expression.
"Things are not looking good your Majesties. You best follow me. I shall explain what little we know on the way." He turned around and motioned for the two Princesses to follow. Luna picked the various scrolls up in her telekinetic grip and followed closely behind Iron Hoof along with Celestia. "Things are not looking good your Majesties. Everyone you see here has been redirected into the castle after their massive influx to the city. Messengers have reported similar events happening with Manehatten and Stalliongrad though we lost contact with Stalliongrad no more than two hours ago. All of these refugees are from smaller settlements across the south and east of Equestria's borders. None asked so far seem to have witnessed the cause as they were asked to leave their homes an head here ahead of the whatever is pushing us like this. If you ask me, I think it's a classic textbook invasion. There are however two problems with this theory." At this point Luna, whom is the Royal member in charge of the military, thought it a good time to intervene.
"An invasion! Surely not. Thy, I mean my, scouts and Celestia's diplomats have reported no preparation or mobilization for war from any of our neighboring empires. The Griffons and Minotaurs would dare not attack us and the Zebras have long since been friends."
"That's problem number one Princess, or rather part of it. Not only have we kept close eye on our neighbors, the Griffon and Minotaur kingdoms are reporting similar problems via long range communication. King Black Feather and all the Minotaur Jarls are facing the same problem. They're all loosing territory rapidly to some unknown force. This also links me back to my second point." By this time Celestia, Luna and Iron Hoof had reached the castle war room. Iron Hoof knocked an elaborate tune upon the door and someone from the inside opened it up for them. Stepping inside Iron Hoof walked over to a table in the corner and gestured for Celestia and Luna to look. Peering closer Celestia identified it as a music stone. Channeling magic into it would cause it to record any sound played as the magic was channeled. Channeling magic in the reverse polarity would cause the sound to play back.
"As I was saying before, problem number two. The problem being that no military power in the entire history of Equis has ever advanced this swiftly in such a short space of time on multiple fronts. A majority of coastal regions across our borders have already fallen to this unknown force in a matter of under four hours. No doubt the Minotaurs and Griffons are experiencing similar issues. All scouts scent to investigate have no returned so I have issued the order not to approach too closely. What we have gleaned from a more careful approach is two things. The first report is that wherever this force goes, a large trail of smoke is left behind as they torch everything they find. It seems to be a bizarre twist of the scorched Equis policy initially invented by the Griffons. The second report is these stones. Princess if you may."
Celestia nodded and levitated the stone into the air before drawing the magic from the stone. Shortly afterwards the sound began to play and she put it down upon the table again. Each stone would only play once so she had to be careful to pick out every detail. At first it was difficult to hear anything above the breathing of the Unicorn who had recorded this but slowly and surely minute details began to focus. The sound of cracking could be heard softly which Celestia identified as small explosions going off very far in the distance. The second important sound was much harder to distinguish. At first it sounded like magical lances being fired off but upon closer listening in was missing some key features and had changes in areas. Magical lances always had a charge up time which was louder than the beam itself. There was however no sound of charging to be heard. Another thing was that these beams sounded a lot more... precise as though they were a precision implement rather than an attack of brute magic. The final giveaway was the small metallic chime that went off every time the strange sound was heard. The recording stopped and Iron hoof turned towards Celestia and Luna with a raised eyebrow.
Celestia scrounged her brain and picked it apart in order to try and identify a source. She couldn't think of anything. Anything except one possibility. No. It was absurd. It couldn't be true. Yet it seemed Luna was on the same line of thinking as they made eye contact.
"Sister. You don't possibly think that.." Luna trailed off as Celestia closed her eyes which was indication enough. Luna's horn flashed as she teleported away and Celestia instantly knew where she had teleported to. Following in her sisters footsteps Celestia lighted up her own horn and teleported out of the room, leaving a confused looking Iron Hoof.
"So I take it that you know...?" He said to himself before setting off at a trot to find them once more.
Celestia appeared in her own room to find Luna already pacing around as she usually did when she was angry. Celestia raised her hoof slightly as if to speak but was quickly cut off by an enraged shout from Luna. "I knew it. I knew that... creature wasn't to be trusted!" It was probably just a scouting force for the main invasion."
"Calm down Luna. We cannot know for certain and I would rather avoid starting an actual interstellar war by pointing hooves randomly. A war we would surely loose might I add. We need answers not action right now Luna." Celestia tried her best to remain calm but the nerves were starting to seep in. If what Luna and her were thinking was true, then Equis was most likely already doomed. Luna ceased the lapse in conversation to begin another topic.
"Celestia! What of Twilight Sparkle and her friends!? She is with one of them as we speak. She may be in danger and Ponyville is sure to be next on the list of this human army." Luna practically spat the word human from her mouth as if it were nothing more than grime between her teeth. Celestia was a little worried for her sister. She had not seen her this angry since the... incident and that scared her in a way.
"Relax Lulu. I shall send a message to Twilight and her friends to come to the castle immediately. I shall also specify to leave 42 behind in the case that this is his doing. If it is then Twilight should have garnered enough information from him in order to help us." By this point both sisters had walked out onto the balcony as they spoke allowing the cool air to calm them somewhat. "Besides, as I said before I highly doubt it is the humans doing *BOOM*." Celestia and Luna looked skyward to see a craft descend towards the horizon and in the direction of the of the potential war zone. Details were impossible to make out yet it was obvious the thing had come from space. Luna turned to Celestia as she did likewise. Luna nodded with fury in her eyes and Celestia's face grew into a much more menacing snarl as she began to write the letter. Making the letter brief she zapped it with her horn and it dissipated in a puff of green fire. Celestia looked in the direction of Ponyville with anger in her eyes and venom on her lips as she whispered one last thing before returning indoors.
One quick note before I begin. I have started using FimFiction's software to write this story and of course it's using an American dictionary when I'm English. Please bear with the weird mixture of English and American spellings. :)
Lyra had been hiking for the best part of an hour now and she still had yet to catch up to the blue giant and his entourage. She had come back to Twilight's library a short while ago to receive her new hands but found nothing but a map on the table which had pointed to this general area. Lyra backtracked in her thoughts a moment and giggled. The giggle quickly became ecstatic laughter as she dwelled more and more on the thought. SHE was going to have hands. Lyra Heartstrings, the first pony in history to receive extra limbs. That though dampened her mood slightly. Was receiving extra going to hurt?
She shook her head clear and carried on walking over the large hill and towards the rock fields in the distance. She had barely made it a few meters before a large boom could be heard echoing over the land and over the mountain ranges in the distance. Looking to the sky, Lyra quickly found the source of the noise. A large black object was hurtling towards the planet at speeds well above what Rainbow Dash could travel. Lyra's eyes widened in joy when she realized it must be more of 42's friends. But why was it travelling so fast on descent. She was no space pony but she had experience with aquatic vessels and they were usually supposed to slow down before docking, or landing in this case. Lyra leap in surprise as the ship came roaring overhead and crashed into the valley she had just walked through. She flattened her ears before the impending shock-wave smacked into her, sending her reeling a few steps. Regaining her balance she peered down at the now smoking ruins of what was once a marvelous machine.
"Oh no." Was all Lyra whispered to herself before she galloped down the slope at full speed to help whatever was in there. Alien or not there were lives in danger.
Katherine slowly came to as the smell of smoke penetrated her helmet's filters. Her lungs caused her to lurch violently as she hacked and coughed up all the air she could, she then quickly proceeded to gulp plenty of 'slightly' fresher air which was entering through her filters. Letting her training kick in she began to examine her own body for damage. Seeing nothing of even noteworthy damage she sighed in relief and thanked armour lock for living up to its legendary reputation despite being such an antiqued piece of equipment. She wondered for a moment why the UNSC had discontinued it and then chuckled to herself as she remembered.
"Oh yeah... the radiation". Comfortable in the fact that she already wouldn't have been having kids this lifetime anyway she pushed aside the now shredded harness straps and cautiously stood up. The feeling of vertigo quickly washed over her as she propped her arm against the pilot seat to balance herself. Struggling upright once more she scanned around the room to assess the damage done to the ships more critical components. A thick black smoke was rapidly filling the room from the ventilation ports and what little displays remained, showed her a bleak damage assessment of near critical damage to all primary and most secondary components of the ship. The only thing actually working it seems was the reserve power built in a secure location at the heart of the Prowler class vessel. Taking a air sample of the smoke through her helmet, her on board logistics suite quickly identified the black smoke as nothing toxic but pretty unpleasant to breath nonetheless.
Katherine made the decision to keep her helmet on and quickly stepped over to the bulkhead separating her from the rest of the ship. The door refused to open to her presence and remained stubbornly closed. A quick scan of the general vicinity put the blame on a piece of the internal mechanism being jammed closed by some sheered metal stuck halfway through the door. Rubbing her hands together she placed them on each side of the central slit, which showed where the door opened, and heaved with all her might. The bulkhead barely stood a chance as it flew open and the offending piece of metal quickly fell to the floor with a large clang.
Vibrations quickly flew through the ship as a few secondary systems came back to life and the air began to clear as the extraction fans and filters began working their magic. Katherine yanked off her helmet and took in the now much fresher air. Exhaling in quiet content she continued onward to the back of the ship where the landing ramp could be found. It was a short walk as the familiar and welcome sight of the large metal plate secured firmly to the ships rear sat before her. She stepped up to the accompanying console and hit the open button. Fate gave her the screw once more as the console sparked for a fraction of a second and continued to do nothing. Shrugging her shoulders she reached atop the panel and tore it from the wall before quickly tying two of the now exposed wires together.
Katherine turned her attention to the ramp as she heard a slight thump but was greeted still by no opening ramp. Katherine walked closer to the ramp waiting for it to do something but all she was greeted with was the sound of another but this time she caught what made it interesting. The thump wasn't the ramp attempting to open. Something was attempting to whack it from the other side, with something big. She began timing the sounds. 1, 2, 3 *thump* 1, 2, 3 *thump*. It was too rhythmic for falling rocks or anything else large enough to be making naturally from the other side. Something, or rather someone, was trying to get in. Katherine had to be sure of this and decided the best course of action was to knock back. She hammered a gentle and deliberate rhythm into the metal and placed her head against the plating in order to listen back. Sure enough the thumping had stopped and now there was a tense silence. Mere moments passed before a different sound started playing through the metal. It was no were near as loud as the previous thing but was definitely more precise. Someone was knocking back.
Katherine had all the evidence she needed and quickly backed off from the ramp as more of the gentle knocks played across the metal plating. Something was definitely out there and now she was kicking herself for alerting it to her presence without knowing whether it was friendly or not. She needed to get out there and do something and do it fast before things became hard to control. Going out the cockpit window was a no-go seeing as the screens had been covered in dirt and the ship was at a slight angle indicating that the cockpit was most likely buried in the local soil. Thinking some more, Katherine came to the conclusion that the only way out would be the back ramp but the lowering pistons were shot. To get through she would have to... Katherine stopped and turned to face the door to the armoury down the hall. Realisation struck her like a lightning bolt and she strode swiftly to the armoury bulkhead. Luckily this door faced no technical or physical problems and opened for her albeit at its slow, usual rate.
Stepping into the armoury Katherine quickly pulled an old plasma repeater from one of the many weapon racks and returned to the ramp that continued to sit in its comatose state. Checking the charge was sufficient for the task ahead, Katherine pointed the plasma repeater at the first of the two heavy duty pistons and let off a prolonged assault of the searing blue plasma. While the pistons where massive and impossible to entirely melt through, the plasma did weaken it enough for Katherine to enact phase two of the plan. Bringing up her large red boot, she quickly jabbed her heel through the now glowing section of the metal. A large crack reverberated through the corridor as the piston snapped roughly in twain. Katherine did not pause to celebrate her victory as she turned to the next piston and began repeating the previous task.
Lyra stumbled through the smoke filled air and took care to avoid the various pieces of metal scattered about the place as she had quickly found out a few of them were still very hot as the new burn mark on her left fore-hoof had indicated. Small fires were everywhere and were contributing to the quickly growing smoke that cluttered the air around her causing her eyes to sting and her throat to dry up. Noticing the smoke was getting thicker, she quickly drew magic around her head and created a magical filter to keep the more harmful particles away. She was no prodigy when it came to the use of magic but this sort of spell was simple enough to conjure when concentrating.
She had been following the trail of debris for a short while now and had yet to see any form of life thus far. She supposed that could be considered a good and a bad thing as anything thrown from a ship moving that fast would probably die. Walking past another large piece of metal she soon found the reason for her foray into this hazardous environment.
Sighting the what she assumed to be the back of the large metal behemoth, she galloped up to its surface and reached out to touch it before quickly retracting her hoof. 'Stupid' she thought. If those small pieces were hot then this was going to be near molten levels for her. She needed some way to get inside, try and help whoever was in there but she couldn't touch the surface itself. Looking around she quickly sighted several objects which she could use to her advantage. Plucking them from the ground with her magic she quickly floated them over to her one by one. The first object was roughly wheel shaped and had plenty of notches in it which were similar to a cog but at the same time entirely different as they were positioned within the wheel rather than around. Deeming it too small to be of use she quickly tossed it off to her side were it nestled within the ground thirty odd meters away. The second object was an odd crate looking object that was too tall to be of any real practical use. The inside was also hollowed out and had a weird tube sitting inside which was pulsing an ominous red. Noticing a small amount of text engraved on the side she flipped it over to read what it was. It quickly became apparent to Lyra that despite having near identical talking languages, Human alphabet looked similar but not anywhere near identical enough for her to read accurately. Trying her best to put human spelling to pony talk she began rolling the sounds off of her tongue.
"Fue... fuuuueeezy. Fuezy... chill?" She wasn't sure if that was correct or if humans had some really weird objects but she deemed the object of little use to her anyway. Tossing it aside like the last she turned her attention to the other and final object before a large explosion nearly blew her ear drums. Quickly flattening her ears and squinting her eyes, she turned towards the source of the explosion. Where the odd crate had once been there was now a smoking crater and more fires in the surrounding area. She thanked Celestia that she had tossed the thing aside instead of trying to use it and turned back to the new object with a more cautious eye. The final one seemed like a regular piece of large debris. Whether it was black originally or was charred to that colour she couldn't tell but it didn't seem to be radiating much heat anymore. Putting a more assertive grip around the object she hefted it into the air. It was roughly her size and was fairly heavy but nothing she couldn't handle.
Dragging it up to the ship she searched around for what the humans must use as an entrance and exit. It didn't take long as she found a large metal plate that seemed to be apart from the rest of the surrounding area. Seeing it a place as good as any other to start she began hammering away on the plate in order to try and force it open. Each hit was met with a large clang and a vibration through her magical aura which gave her a headache. Rubbing her head after the first three hits she observed the effect she'd had upon the surface. Nothing more than a few dents stood out to her and even then they were stupidly small. Sighing, she continued to hammer away at the area wishing she could teleport inside but she knew the dangers of teleporting inside somewhere you had no knowledge of, or was hazardous in itself. Wouldn't want to be killed by materialising halfway through a wall. She shuddered at the thought and continued to hammer away at the wreckage, each time wincing slightly as the metal made contact with more metal. She just had to keep this up until someone showed up to help her out. After all, surely half of the planet saw this thing come down.
Continuing to smack away at the metal for another five or so minutes Lyra's mind began to wonder about the place and take in the scene about her in more detail. The sky was beginning to return now as the smoke began to clear around the ship and she could see clearly the many pegasi circling around the site way off in the distance. Curious but still giving it a wide berth in the case that something should happen that required them to escape in a hurry. Lyra merely scoffed at their cowardly nature and renewed her effort to continue whacking away at the metal surface. By this point there was one large dent in the door which assured her she was making progress, albeit slow. Dragging back the large chunk of metal once more, she prepared to give another blow but stumbled as the ship suddenly rumbled to life and threw off her concentration. She could hear a mechanical whirring slowly gather speed before four massive plumes of smoke shot into the sky from the roof of the sky. Someone must have vented the smoke from the inside of the ship. The now rapidly rising plumes drove off the remaining pegasi who hadn't fled upon the ship's waking yawns. The afternoon sun was blotted out once more and Lyra was forced to continue her work in darkness yet again. Raising the large piece of debris once more she began hammering upon the surface yet again. *Thump* 1... 2... 3 *thump* 1... 2... 3 *thump* 1... 2... 3... *knock knock knock*. Lyra perked up her ears and drew closer to the metal plate. That wasn't the machine was it? She pressed her head up against the now cool metal and listened out again for the odd sound. When nothing came again, she raised her hoof to the surface and smacked the metal three times in a timed beat. She listened a few moments more before she could make out what sounded like heavy hoof-steps pulling away from the exit. 'Wait!' she thought to herself. She didn't want this thing to go. She knocked a few more times but still received no response. Something alive was in there and it really was urgent now. She needed someone to help really badly now of all times. No one seemed to be approaching the crash site so she needed to signal them here.
Dashing off to a more clear section of land from debris she built up a magical charge in her horn and kept it building even as drops of sweat began to form on her brow. Holding it but for a few moments longer she quickly discharged it and aimed high into the sky. A large ball of green energy rocketed into the sky before puffing out and dissipating like a flare. She hoped it had the desired effect and swiftly ran back to the area she had once been hammering against. Leaping through debris and darting around corners she quickly found herself back where she began and raised the large piece of metal off the ground and turned towards the plating that still stood firm against her. She approached to strike at it once more and got within metres of it before the plate let off a loud screech which caused her to clutch her already aching head in pain. The plating which was now revealed to be a ramp swiftly tumbled over top end and onto the ash covered, dirt ground. Covering her eyes from the cloud of dust sweeping towards her she took a few more brave steps forward only to fall onto her flank. She felt the cloud about her push onwards as it continued past her and she was left in the relatively clean air once more. Opening her now watering eyes all she saw was red. At first she was confused and went to rub her eyes with here hooves before something clamped around her neck and lifted her high into the air. The appendage clamped onto her felt like it had multiple digits. Each one thoroughly starving her of the life giving oxygen which she needed. Oxygen in her system was already beginning to run low and her tear filled vision still wasn't helping her find out who was attacking her like this. Unconsciousness nearly completely overtook her before something rung out across her ears and seemed to have grabbed the red giants attention thoroughly.
"16! Stand down." The words echoed across the charred ground and rang in 16's ears. Recognising the voice she spun on the spot to face the blue soldier emerging from the wisps of smoke still left in the area. His Magnum was raised and held to firmly with a death grip from both hands. Kat couldn't see his eyes through the visor, but the slight forward tilt of his helmet assured her that he was focused straight down his sight and towards what she assumed to be the right side of her chest judging from the angle of the barrel. She seemed to have taken her time because he repeated himself once more.
"Stand down 16." His tone was slightly softer this time around and she loosened up a bit before noticing him motioning towards her right arm with his Magnum. "Put the alien down Kat." She dumped it without hesitation, leaving it to take ragged breaths on the floor midway through a coughing fit. Judging the alien to now be a minor threat or at least incapacitated she left it where it lay and took a step forward.
"Aidan fancy the odds of finding you this fast. What the fuck has been going on here?" 42 holstered his side-arm but kept an agitated stance about him as though he was going to spring forward and smack her upside the head at any moment, she didn't doubt he could, 42 had always been the better close quarters fighter. Despite her easy tone he didn't seem to be having any of it.
"Cut the crap Kat what the fuck was that right there?" He pointed down towards the slowly recovering creature. 16 had never seen anything quite like it but now wasn't the time to investigate, she had a very peeved Spartan on her hands.
"That was basic training and you know it is 42. Assume all unknowns are hostile until proven otherwise." She had him there and he knew it so 42 sighed and approached what she thought to be her at first but quickly passed her and leant down towards the alien. Scooping it up and cradling it awkwardly in his arms he spoke to it.
"You alright?" The green... horse thing nodded and smiled at him.
"Just peachy." It croaked out before coughing once more. 42 looked back up at 16 and gave an angry click of his tongue.
"You could've broken her neck." 42 called over to her. By this point Kat had removed her helmet to make sure her visor wasn't screwing with her and felt her left eye twitch once or twice.
"It talks... English." Kat couldn't believe what she was seeing or rather hearing. 42 pulled off his helmet quickly before continuing to support the creature with both of his arms.
"What the fuck has been going on here!? Why are there talking horse things?" Kat liked to keep a cool yet joking attitude while on missions but this was just upping the scale of mind fuck from 'usual' to 'FUBAR'.
"Jesus Katherine. They're just aliens. Nothing from the norm." At this point the small mint green pony... thing had recovered substantially and was craning its neck over to look at both her and up at 42. This thing seemed to take a liking to 42 as it nuzzled closer against his chest plating, whether he noticed it or not he did not show any signs heeding what the small creature was doing. Katherine drew her attention back towards 42's face rather than the alien and continued with her game of Q&A.
"How do you know they're not working with the Covenant, something pulled my ship towards the planet. Whoever is responsible for this just wrecked our ride home. Who knows how long this is going to take, even without alien freaks breathing down our necks with Plasma Rifles and Needlers." She gestured to the smouldering and sometimes still burning debris about her.
"Perhaps I may be of assistance reclaimer." Kat spun on her heels at this new voice and scanned the perimeter with vision any bird of prey would be envious of. The source of the voice in question emerged from behind a piece of debris. Kat nearly tripped over herself as a monitor appeared before her eyes. She looked over to 42 who mearly gestured towards the flying tin can with one of his hands before talking.
"16. May I introduce you to 412 Halting Transgression. C'mon lets head inside the ship. I assume the medical bay is still relatively intact for the pony." 16 just didn't know what to say anymore. Throwing her hands up into the air she gestured for them all to follow.
"Should be good for a few supplies but you better start explaining shit 42 and start from the beginning. I don't like dropping into hell without a vacation plan, or at least a brochure."
Twilight wasn't enjoying the mood at all. Her friends were all very tense since they had arrived at the castle. Twilight couldn't blame them, she was just as stressed as they were, if not then more so. Upon they're arrival via sky carriage waiting back at Ponyville they were quickly ushered into Celestia's private chambers which overlooked the city of Canterlot and a large portion of the land beyond. The princesses had been quick to fill them in on what had been occurring in their absence and the conclusion they had drawn, hence why she had asked specifically for 42 to remain in Ponyville. Twilight understood the large smoke plumes now. She had seen them from the sky carriage and now they were starting to rise over the horizon as the mysterious invaders got closer. No one quite knew what was happening to those who were unable to escape in time and they all hoped that mercy was shown upon their spirits. At this point Celestia who had been contemplating with a scowl upon her face, turned to Twilight and raised her head to take on a more authoritative role. Everyone else noticed and drew their attention her way.
"Are you sure this is all the information Twilight? It is very important you tell me everything." Celestia's eyes seemed to burrow deep into Twilight's mind and she couldn't help but shudder and turn away slightly. It was very out of place for Celestia to act so cold, yet again, Twilight realised this wasn't a very normal event. War was descending over this once peaceful land, for all they knew they had already lost.
"Yes Princess. The thing identified itself as 412 Halting Transgression and seemed to be very familiar or at least friendly with 42." Twilight had been quick to fill in their side of the story once Celestia had divulged hers. She had described 42's odd behaviour and odd knowledge of Crystal Cave as though he knew that thing, the Monitor, would be there. This had troubled Celestia deeply and seemed to make Luna more angry than she already was. Celestia paced a little in a circle before coming back round to face them all.
"This is very troubling indeed. If what you're telling me is accurate then it seems that 42 is working with these creatures to conquer our fair land, though it does seem a little mismatched in places. These 'other' installations the device mentioned could be buried all across Equis just as it's installation was, perhaps that is how they are attacking all over the known world." Celestia still seemed to be in doubt about this but Luna's impatience reached a peak at this point as she forced her way into the train of thought.
"Celestia sister. This deduction of information is all well and good but in case thou has forgotten, there is a war going on in our lands as we speak. We say that it is not even a war yet. The vile enemy had encroached upon our territory and we have yet to even send a battalion in response. Speculation can wait, we need answers and action." Celestia turned to Luna with worry in her eyes. Twilight could feel the depression and worry in the air as though she were wading through a pool with the water level well above her head.
"You are right sister, though I worry a false move may only exacerbate the situation. Still, some actions is better than none. What do you have in mind?" Celestia watched as Luna walked inside and motioned for them all to follow her. Slamming the balcony door with her magic as Rainbow entered as the last one, she turned back around to face them and quickly pinged her magic through her horn in a small flash of blue light. Moments later two guards came rushing through the door and stood at resolute attention before her. One was a night guard while the other a standard castle personnel. The night guard in question was Bronze Carapace, Captain of the Equestrian Night Guard. The ying to Shinning Armour's yang. They didn't meet much as they usually worked completely different routines in their duties though joint operations weren't unheard of between the Day and Night guard.
"Captain Bronze Carapace reporting for duty ma'am."
"Steward Deep Pockets at your service your Majesties." Luna didn't have time for formality and quickly dismissed the time consuming trivialities so she may cut straight to the point.
"Mr Pockets I require you to head down to the castle and Canterlot barracks and order on the Princesses' behalf that all our most gifted unicorn soldiers mobilized into small companies ready to hold of these mysterious invaders as much as possible. I want Earth Ponies and the Pegasi to act as support roles and avoid direct combat. Magic is probably our best weapon against this foe. I also want you to relay all these orders to all the cities and towns across Equestria not yet fallen to this onslaught. Report back to me when the task is complete." The steward bowed and looked up at Luna with determination in his eyes.
"I shall inform the couriers at once." And with that he turned and quickly galloped to the door and banked a hard right before continuing down the corridor, his hoof-steps getting more distant with each passing second. Once his hoof-steps had faded completely Luna turned back to Bronze Carapace but also motioned for Celestia heed her as well with her left foreleg.
"Now that he is gone I have a more important task for you Captain and your partner Shining Armour, if Celestia is willing to agree to my plan." Luna turned to Celestia who gestured for her to continue speaking.
"As we are sure you are aware by now Captain, whether from the newspapers or from word of mouth, this land has a visitor of the likes which we have never seen before. His name is 42. Now we believe he may be linked to these attacks upon our empire and require him to be taken into custody immediately for questioning on these events, as for the time being we are fighting a war with blindfolds about our heads like foals set upon a piñata." Luna turned to look at Twilight and her friends before turning back to Carapace.
"According to Twilight Sparkle's account of events, he is heading for a space vessel landing in the general direction of the valleys north of the Crystal Caves. It may be possible that more of his kind are setting up a strategic point there. Whether or not that part is true you must be cautious. From what little we have seen of the humans they are not all as dangerous as him though there are more on equal levels to him in that respect and their standard soldiers are nothing to take lightly. I would prefer lethality to be avoided but you are allowed to retaliate if attacked first. As well as capturing all humans in the area I wish for thou to garner their technology and equipment. We will need our top scientists to help apply these devices to our defence effort..."
"Luna!" Luna swivelled her head and faced Celestia who had a frightened look upon her face and worry in her eyes. "While I am sure you are doing this all for the good of our nation. I find that your tactics sister may be a bit aggressive and I stated I shall not risk this country for simple paranoia. Not matter how convincing this evidence is. I will send Captain Shinning Armour with Bronze Carapace but this must be a purely diplomatic situation. Peace is still an option."
"But sister surely thou realises we are in a time of war now!?"
"Yes and I also realise we are not cruel, vindictive beings Luna. Now enough of this insanity!" Celestia's voice rose to an almost angered tone yet she kept her patience with her sister. The bearers of the elements didn't know where to turn. Rainbow Dash awkwardly gazed about the place while the others attempted to stop Fluttershy from bursting into tears. Pinkie Pie's mane had drooped down to its sullen state as she stared at the floor. Luna looked ready to reply with fire in her eyes, but quickly blinked the rising heat away and sighed deeply before making eye contact once more with her sister.
"You are right Tia. Perhaps we have leapt ahead of ourselves slightly. I will go and arrange the diplomatic mission now. Perhaps the humans will find reason. Come Carapace." Luna turned and trudged out of the door with her head lowered and a sad look in her eyes. Bronze Carapace saluted quickly to Celestia before bolting trotting out the door after Luna. Celestia stared at the empty space in the door frame where Luna had been moments ago. She snapped out of it as she felt a hoof nudge against her side. Looking down to see her faithful student staring up at her with eyes filled with concern she smiled slightly extended a wing over the unicorn to comfort her.
"Princess... is everything going to be alright?" Twilight nuzzled in closer to Celestia's side. Celestia could feel her coat beginning to dampen from Twilight forming tears.
"Worry not my faithful student. Luna has always been a stubborn mare, thinking with her hooves before her head. She will come around. Give her time." Twilight wriggled a bit in Celestia's embrace causing Celestia to loosen her grip around her with her wing. Twilight stepped in front of Celestia, the concern spreading across the rest of her face and tears still running down her cheeks.
"That's not quite what I meant princess." Twilight stepped closer up to the princess's neck and buried her head once more. Celestia craned her neck down while turning to the side to it wrapped around Twilight's as much as possible. From here she could see all of Twilight's friends behind the two of them, saddened looks on their faces, some almost crying themselves. Celestia couldn't bear to look them in the eyes and closed hers while burying her face deeper into Twilight's coat.
"I don't know Twilight. Things might get worse before they get better." Celestia only tightened her embrace further, nearly tearing up herself she soon felt the embrace of more limbs about her. Opening her eyes, she noticed they had all now taken part in the embrace. Some sharing equally in the tears. Other putting on their bravest face as they hugged those around them tighter. She felt as though this moment should never end, but alas she had a country to run and it needed her now more than ever.
"Your majesty!" Bronze Carapace trotted round the corner causing Luna to perk her ears up and turn her head slightly. Carapace fell in sync with her hoof-steps and followed at a steady pace. He was a fairly small pony by military standards but his strength was more than meets the eye. Luna looked down at her right hoof stallion. He was a fairly young guard by Luna's standards. Most of her guards had followed her to the moon and had been kept alive by her powerful magic as she had nothing else to expend it on. As a result most of her guard were in the region of one thousand years old. Bronze Carapace was a mere thirty years of age, just over halfway through a pony's natural life-cycle. This did not deter him at all though. In the short space of time which Luna had known him, he had risen from a standard guard in Celestia's retinue to captain of Luna's night guard. His adept nature at espionage and tactics had attributed to this as every quest and goal he had been set in his short career he had accomplished with the utmost efficiency, yet he did not let his natural success cloud his mind with thoughts of arrogance. He wore the standard colours and armour of a traditional night guard saying himself that he 'preferred to lead his troops, not command'. The only thing about his uniform that distinguished him was a small metal badge in the shape of a crescent moon placed upon his helmet. The stallion was never one to dawdle on points and continued to address his princess.
"Princess. Shall I go and inform the diplomats of foreign affairs that they will be required for an important mission?" Luna smiled. Despite all of his good traits, Bronze Carapace could be a little blind to the obvious sometimes. That, or he was being blind on purpose.
"That shall not be necessary captain. There shall be no need for diplomats in this mission." Luna continued to stride onwards but Carapace stumbled for but a moment before catching up with her once more, a puzzled look upon his face.
"Ma'am?" Luna looked down at him, a small smile creeping over her lips. Luna could see in his eyes that he had an idea of what she meant but he wasn't sure on the accuracy of his assumption. Luna decided to fill him in now that they were some distance away from the royal bedchamber of her sister.
"My sister, Princess Celestia, is a benevolent ruler. Wouldn't you agree?" Bronze Carapace didn't like playing games but he followed along anyway.
"Um... yes ma'am. One of the best." There was a sense of sincerity in his voice but Luna could also hear the doubt escaping from the corners of his lips.
"Fortunately for us all, Celestia, being such the benevolent ruler she is, has kept good if not amazing relations with our neighbouring empires. Relations so effective that there has not been a proper conflict in Equestria in nearly two thousand years. Unless thou counts my insurgency of course." Bronze Carapace had caught on at this point but Luna never wasted the chance to give a good lecture so she pressed onwards. "Would you consider a ruler who has advocated peace all her life to be well versed in the doctrine of all out warfare?"
"Um... no ma'am." They had arrived just outside the door to the castle barracks for the royal guard and Luna had halted prompting for Carapace to stop also. Luna turned around completely to face the stallion who merely tightened up more at he piercing gaze.
"Our sister is a good being Carapace, but her methods will be our downfall if we allow her to try and conduct this 'diplomacy'. Honestly, what does she expect to achieve? They are an empire spanning several planets. We can offer nothing in the exchange for peace upon our land and they have already committed themselves to the invasion. As we speak I can tell you for certain that hundreds of ponies, gryphons and minotaurs are injured or dying at the hands of this menace. I ask you. In the face of evil, do offer it your heart or the edge of your blade?" Bronze Carapace leaned to and fro with a sense of inner conflict before a steel resolution washed over his eyes and he snapped into a crisp salute.
"What would you have me do your majesty?" Luna could feel the determination dripping from his voice as he made direct eye contact with her. The gaze was so intense that she found herself looking away first, though more in a sense of pride than anything else.
"Allow me." Luna pushed open the door to the barracks and stepped through with the captain close behind. The castle barracks was the largest in the country and after rounding several corners they came to the personal room of one Shinning Armour. Without bothering with the usual formality of knocking, Luna burst into the room and instantly regretted it. Bronze Carapace now coming around from behind her, they could both only stand there with large blushes forming on their cheeks as they stared at the scene before them.
"Oh... hey aunty. How are things?" Before Luna and Carapace laid Princess Cadence laying on top of captain Shinning Armour albeit under the covers. Cadence sported a blush that could put both Luna and Bronze Carapce to shame while the stallion beneath her seemed to be sweating profusely and shifting his eyes about as though to find anything to distract the others so he could make a quick escape. Luna eventually placed a wing over her eyes while Bronze Carapace poked his head back out the door and looked down one of the other stone corridors. They quickly heard the rustling of sheets as someone jumped from the bed and Luna felt her niece squeeze past her as she exited and quickly trotted off down the corridor back to her own guest chambers as she was on a visit from the Crystal Empire. The pair heard the sheets rustle once more and waited a few more moments as the sound of clamps went off as Shinning did up his curiass. Finally returning her wing to her side and Carapace placing his head back in the room they were greeted by the sight of a suited yet very nervous Shinning Armour. He stared at Luna with the sweat still pouring down his body and forehead. She gave him an unamused stare before stepping aside for the captain of the night to step in.
"We have a task for thou and captain Bronze Carapace, Shinning Armour. We suggest you listen closely if you want this aversion of guard conduct to remain inconspicuous." Shinning straightened up quickly before dropping into a hasty bow before her hooves.
"Yes your majesty. Sorry your royal highness."
"Stand captain Shinning. I do not need you to grovel, only to listen and follow." Luna raised her head even more to seem even more intimidating. It worked as Shinning darted to all four hooves from the floor and perked his ears up. "You are aware of the alien visitor, correct?"
"Yes your highness."
"You are aware that Equestria is now at war with what we believe to be the allies of this alien, correct?"
He hesitated for a moment but quickly followed through. "Yes ma'am." Luna eased up ever so slightly as she recognised Shinning's disdain for this alien, 42. She could utilise that.
"Well then. I have a task for you." She turned to Bronze Carapace. "Captains. Assemble your best soldiers and meet me in the secondary war room in five minutes. I need to inform you of everything we know about this 42 before his capture and confiscation of technology." They quickly dashed out of the room leaving Luna standing there alone. "Moon and stars know you're going to need it."
Shinning was going to need a shower after this. Maybe even some bleach. He had been crawling along the dirt and ashen ground for the best of part of ten minutes. He wasn't one to gripe, especially about his job, but dammit, Celestia didn't pay him enough for this. His duties were supposed to be protecting the land. Not go on some wild alien hunt. Then again he reasoned that this was technically protecting his country. Sure was an odd way of doing it though.
When Shinning and Bronze Carapace has gathered their six best guards they promptly headed down to the secondary war-room for a brief from Luna. What counted as a brief for Luna was a quick talk on known alien abilities, location and a pat on the back before being whisked off by express chariot to a place that better resembled Tartarus than the outskirts of humble Ponyville. Life sucked sometimes. Swallowing his pride, Shinning remembered the old guard saying from nearly two thousand years ago. 'If we don't do it, who will?'. Those words rang true in his ears now more than ever and with renewed vigour he redoubled his efforts to drag himself along the ground towards the nearest piece of wreckage. Finally reaching his destination, Shinning scrabbled up against the large hunk of metal and placed his back firmly against its wedged form. This 'junk' had been sitting here for hours at least and it still felt warm to the touch. If it was warm now, then it must have been white-hot before. Shinning sat on his haunches and looked to his left to observe his three members of the team pull up behind similar pieces of wreckage. Turning to his right he counted three more guards who were of the lunar variety. Three solar guards and three lunar, but where was Bronze Carapace?
Something immediately dashed out of the shadows and skidded into cover next to him, bringing up a cloud of ash and dirt as it went. Shinning waited for the grime to clear from his vision before coming face to face with none other than Captain of the Lunar guard. Shinning scowled and lightly punched the stallion in the shoulder, causing Bronze to flinch slightly. "Was that really necessary?" Shinning whispered. He wanted to throttle Bronze Carapace for being such a show-off. It was the middle of a mission, even if Bronze did manage to pull it off silently. Bronze merely smiled slightly before drawing a compound crossbow from his back.
"It's called 'dynamic entry'." Shinning merely huffed at the remark before pulling his own crossbow out.
"I'll make sure my hoof makes a dynamic entry to your face in a second, if you don't quiet down." Shinning Armour didn't really hate Bronze Carapace. He just often disagreed with his methods and attitudes towards the job. He liked to keep things professional... usually, and strictly by the book. Carapace was a bit more free spirited in his work. Unorthodox tactics combined with a natural flare to his every move, made him a rather annoying comrade and an even more annoying combatant. Many a time during sparing matches, had Shinning fallen to his feint attack patterns and he hated it. That wasn't to say Bronze didn't take his job seriously, quite the opposite in-fact. Shinning couldn't think of anyone who took their job more seriously than Bronze. The only difference between the two of them was a silly streak a mile wide.
Finishing with their little banter, Shinning reached into his quiver and pulled out one of the many bolts given to him for this mission as did the rest of the guards about him. He wasn't a smart colt, but damn did the egg-heads do a good job on these. Hard to make and extremely rare in the Equestrian military, these magical star-fire bolts were the stuff of legends. Shinning looked down at the magnificent piece of equipment and began to study it further. From what he had learned in the guard academy, Shinning could glean quite a bit from these projectiles. The main shaft of the quarrel was made from rigid and perfectly weighted plastics. Shining remembered that before the invention of plastics in his time they used to be made from magically infused wood. Still, progress had to make sacrifices, though he would rather put his life in the hooves of magic rather than technology any day. Bringing his eyes to the tip he noticed what really made them special. Each star-fire bolt was tipped with a gem, magically infused to be lighter, stronger and explode with a compact yet powerful blast of magic. The brutal little buggers were known to leave small craters in creatures struck by the bolts menacing fire-power. Princess Luna really had pulled out all the stops to make sure this creature was captured. Shinning wasn't one to question a royal's orders but something seemed off about the way his princess acted when briefing him and his team. Almost as though the princess was hiding something. Shinning shrugged it off in the end, coming to the conclusion that orders were orders and he could ask questions once the menace was locked up tightly in a guard interrogation room.
Turning back to Bronze Carapace, Shinning offered the pony a curt nod which he eagerly returned before motioning for his Lunar guards to move up. Shinning responded in kind, sending his own Solar guards scurrying forwards to the next line of cover. Princess Luna had warned them that the vessel would most likely carry more of the aliens species and he was to be prepared for a fight. Having scoured the wreckage thoroughly with telescopes, the elite team of guards had concluded that all the aliens had remained inside the vessel or were already all over the local landscape. Shinning prayed it was the former rather than the latter and ordered his guards to move up once more. The Lunar guards follows in kind, darting from cover to cover with grace, comparing them to the smallest of shadows. Shinning was almost jealous for their advance espionage skills but remembered it would count all for naught when they faced the monster that supposedly had eyes in the back of its head.
One of Luna's main points of the meeting was to discuss battle doctrine, which Shinning found odd at first but soon realised why it was so important and why they were given these crossbows and quarrels in the first place. From what she had seen in the aliens magical moving pictures, Luna had explained that the creature had this device which gave it 360 degree awareness of its surroundings. Not only that but the creature carried devices which Luna had described to spit fire straight from the depths of Tartarus at its foes from incredible distances. Shinning had asked why they simply could not engage it in close quarters then before Luna laughed and explained how the creature had bested both her and her sister who had the magically enhanced strength of ten buffalo and hundreds of years in fighting experience. If ranged combat was risky, melee was outright suicide. Luna's explicit orders after that harrowing information was to bring at least one alien back alive. Any others were fair game, a description Shinning Armour found slightly sickening.
Finally reaching the final line of wreckage, both Shinning and Bronze motioned for their comrades to halt their advances. While the ramp was ajar to what Shinning assumed was the aft of the ship, there was no way they were going to huddle into confined space to be picked off by the creature and any possible allies it had. Getting up close, Shinning could now perfectly understand how large this space boat was. The vessel was easily triple the size of his sisters library home and easily outmatched any Equestrian naval vessel. Shinning supposed that the Gryphon's probably had something large in either their navy or newfangled air navy consisting of giant hot-air balloons but who knew how big this thing was compared to most alien vessels. For all he knew, they could have something the size of Canterlot, maybe even bigger.
Turning his head to the horizon, he saw how large the smoke plumes were getting, sitting just over the crest of the hills in the distance they danced and flickered like young foals, almost taunting him to ditch his current mission and join the hard working mares and colts halting the advance of whatever war-machine these aliens had dumped on this planets surface. The main response teams sent out not too long ago seemed to have halted the invasion's advance. Whether this was because they were winning or simply buying time, Shinning couldn't tell but they hadn't heard word back from them since. Princess Celestia had given them dragon scrolls to courier messages but nothing had arrived by the time they had departed for the Equestrian wilderness. Night was beginning its slow creep up the eastern horizon and the already dust chocked air made this particular area look as though it was already well into the late hours of dusk. No matter, Shinning had a good eye and a keen shot. The aliens would have troubled out shooting him. Turning back towards Bronze who was now with his guards spread out to the right he motioned for his guards to spread out to the left, creating a semi-circle around the opening to the ship. A few moments of silent body language later, Shinning levitated a stone from the floor and took several deep breaths before launching it at the metal surface of the alien's machine. It made a loud thunk which nearly deafened him in his overly aware state and he quickly braced against the cover, practically hugging it for dear life with his back.
42 sat inside the medbay of the Cloak 'n Dagger with a severe migraine developing inside his trans-human brain. It wasn't Katherine, no. She had grasped it all quite a while ago, just Spartans being quick learners he guessed. What had pissed him off was in the time it took the mint green pony known as Lyra to heal, 412 Halting Transgression had not stopped examining both her and him along with Kat while humming a bloody annoying tune to himself which he had not stopped since nearly forty minutes ago. Finally having enough, 42 got up and slapped both his thigh plates before walking off into the main corridor. Exploring briefly along the smooth surfaces of the ships sternum he came across a bulkhead which opened for him, albeit at a slower pace than he would've liked. Finally stepping through, he was greeted by a warm sight. Weapons lined up in racks stretching across the entire room. From the humble Magnum all the way up to an M6 G/GNLR Spartan laser. Sensing the need to swap up his armoury 42 quickly got to work sorting and picking between the various weapons on offer. After a mere minute, 42 had settled on the older M392 variant of the DMR, an M45D Tactical Shotgun and an M6C Magnum. Knowing resupplies would be far between while exploring this installation, he needed the most ammo efficient weapons he could think of.
Finally feeling content with his equipment, 42 went to leave back to the medbay before he remembered something and reached back in to pull out a few spare batteries for his T-1 Energy Sword. This little bugger was way to good to leave uncharged. Walking back down the corridor, 42 had just hit the witch to open the medbay bulkhead when a small 'thunk' echoed through the ship. He wasn't the only one to hear it as Katharine's head bolted up and made contact with his gaze. A silent nod was performed between the two before she got up and made to follow him outside. The familiar buzz of the monitor was heard a he followed close behind the pair. Lyra went to follow the but was stopped by a disproving stare from 42. She sat down again on the medical bed and did her best attempt at twiddling her thumbs, with hooves.
42 pulled his helmet from its magnetic clamp and slapped it back on his head with an audible hiss and click before buzzing 16 on her private comms channel. "How're you taking it?" 16 paused a moment but continued walking forwards now keeping slightly behind 42 rather than level.
"What? The fact that this place is bat shit crazy or the fact that I'm stuck here for god knows how long?"
42 chuckled slightly into the comms before whistling and motioning a small explosion exiting the side of his head, causing 16 to growl slightly through his speakers. 42 was going to say something else but was quickly cut of by 16 edging in her own word or two. "But seriously though. I was one of the teams sent down to help secure Installation 03. This is a cake walk in comparison to that little rodeo. At least I get to put my feet up here y'know." It was at this time a small buzz filled the intercom in both their helmets and a small metallic voice chimed in.
"If it aids you in maintaining protocol reclaimers, I can transfer my aeons of research notes to your personal information suites? Though I may have to compress it first. Scans suggest you do not have the required internal memory to store all relevant information for this course of action."
42 was surprised but 16 beat him to the punch and opened her mic first. "What the hell! Who invited the tin can to the chat!?"
"Apologies reclaimer. I did not realise the basic algorithms of your communications channel was an attempt at security."
"Heyyyy. Was that a wise crack. How'd you like it if I cracked the butt of my gun over your head... thing."
"I assure you reclaimer. No harm was meant by stating the functionality of your secluded communications channel. though I do recommend my inclusion for improved team cohesion."
At this point it was time for 42 to butt in. "The 'tin can' stays. Lets us keep our confidential conversations regarding the installation, actually confidential."
16 grumbled but replied anyway. "Fine. But if that scrap head insults my armour one more time I'm going to introduce him to the wrong end of my Battle Rifle." 42 just brushed it off as friendly banter and finally led the group to the edge of the corridor which dropped down into a ramp which led to the scorched and beaten ground of the Equestrian countryside. Pulling out his DMR, 42 stepped down the ramp with 16 and 412 close behind. Reaching the bottom of the ramp 42 switched on his flash light and took a further step forward before scanning around. Shadows were cast everywhere he looked by the illuminating beam shooting from his helmet. Nothing seemed to be out there but he could of sworn he head something. He nudged 16 with his elbow and motioned for her to move right while he moved left. Not even five steps had been made before the metallic voice of the monitor rang over his comms.
"Reclaimers. I'm detecting slight life signs all around our frontal approach." 42 turned back to look at the monitor but was quickly cut off as a large whooshing sound filled the air. Working on pure instinct, 42 dived out of the way and went into a roll, coming up on his knees and immediately firing on the rough position of the projectiles origin. Glowing bolts of energy began shooting from all in front of him as he masterfully ducked and weaved until he came up behind a small piece of wreckage jutting from the ground. Large shafts of light began crashing against the corners of his cover and looking to his left, he was 16 in a similar state of affairs. Crouching low behind her own piece of cover along with Halting Transgression she shot a look over at 42 through her helmet which he could easily guess the meaning behind. His comm channel buzzed and he opened it up to get an earful right off the bat.
"Yeah. So much for fucking friendly."
"I don't know what's going on. Let me clear this up. They know me, they're probably just scared of you crashing here is all. Watch." 42 stood up from behind his cover and called out over the sound of, what appeared to be magical crossbow bolts. whizzing past him with a distinct hiss. "Hey! We're friendly. Cease fire, cease fire!" The bolts stopped suddenly and 42 breathed a sigh of relief. He stood up even further and started to step out of cover when a bolt crashed into the left side of his helmet and sent him stumbling before regaining his composure and diving back behind his diminutive piece of cover. Checking his shields, the arcane bolt had managed to do a fairly hefty number on it by primitive standards. About an eighth of his shield bar was gone but quickly shot back up as the shield generator did its job. Looking over to 16 she motioned to him for options before pulling back on the charging handle of her Battle Rifle. He slotted a fresh clip into his DMR and pulled his own charging handle before nodding to 16. She began pulling a fragmentation grenade from one of her pouches as 42 leant around his cover again from a different location before calling over to the various ponies clad in armour, now visible all around his frontal view.
"All right! You asked for this! All pony allies are now labelled potential hostiles." And with that he began peppering the area one of the ponies shot him from while 16 lobbed a grenade overhead and towards their general vicinity.
Projectiles and magic alike pinged off of every surface about Shining armour as the combat about him increased in intensity. What must have been about thirty seconds, felt like hours as his body dumped adrenaline into his system, sharpening his senses and sending his fight or flight instincts buzzing. Cherry Twig, one of the night guards, had already been vanquished by the vile alien weaponry. The small orb that had been tossed landed between her hooves, she barely had a moment to move before the device detonated in a wave of hell-fire and debris. There wasn't much left of her except some red mist floating off on the wind. It made Shining want to hurl but he persisted onwards. He would slay the creatures or bring them back to Celestia and Luna himself, he would promise Cherry that much. Any attempts at removing them had thus far been rather ineffective. Their armour must have been centuries ahead as it soaked bolt after bolt and that was only when they hit. The creatures carried a grace about them that was unheard of for animals that size. Luna informed them that they had some hereditary traits similar to that of Equestrian simians but they took the cake as they dove about the place, all the while launching their volleys of death.
Another projectile smashed against Shining's cover and he took that as his chance to return volley. Peaking from cover ever so slightly he released his magically enhanced bolt and quickly sped back into cover as several more projectiles reverberated through the metal plating protecting him. The creatures sure knew how to make sturdy material, it worked in their favour just as much as it did his, but it was only a matter of time before the aliens whittled them down. One by one they would fall as the aliens pressed them against the rocks and rubble. The situation continued to deteriorate as Iron Lance leaned from cover to launch another bolt but met a swift and gruesome end as one of the aliens shot through his left eye, popping it and sending brain-matter flying through the back of his skull. His corpse sunk to the floor slowly as red began to stain his once brilliant white fur. Once more Shining felt his stomach lurch and he had to swallow hard as sweat began to form on his brow. This was the most intense thing he had ever done.
Somewhere off to his right a loud fizzling sound could be heard, quickly met with the agonizing scream of a female batpony. Another one of the Lunar guards had fallen. One minute, three dead guards. The prospects of success continued to remain ever illusive, taunting Shining as it slowly faded into the distance. A dull, yet cheerful hum began to emanate from the vicinity of the last casualty and several heads turned as a small floating orb burbled along, drowning in its own ecstasy. One of the batponies leaped from the shadows, hoof-claws poised to strike but the orb just spun slightly and vaporised the helpless guard in a blinding beam of red light. The orb paid no heed to the falling remains of the charred corpse and simply returned to humming as it floated ever closer towards Shining and the rest of his guards.
“Fall back!” Shouted Shining as he began backing off through various pieces of cover, launching bolt after bolt at the orb all the while, but the orb had stopped paying them any attention by this point. Instead focusing on the sky as the guards slowly pulled back to a better position.
“Reclaimer there appears to be more...” The orb didn't manage to finish its sentence as a another red beam not entirely different for the orbs smashed into the central glowing piece and sent the orb skittering off across the dirt, the bright light in its monocle slowly fading away, leaving a dull, mute grey. Shining had barely a moment to react as a score of beings swooped over head and landed all across the crash site in massive plumes of dirt and ash. Shining and the guards had barely a moment to react before lances of orange and red light began striking them from every direction. In moments the guard had been reduced by a further six ponies, causing the others to scatter into the rubble. As Shining darted through the rubble, towards the hill he couldn't help but realise that he had heard the sound of these weapons before, whatever was attacking them now had to be ones he had heard in the audio stone, but what was attacking them now? Alien reinforcements? Perhaps but they attacked the alien orb, perhaps an opposing faction of aliens, but that didn't help as they seemed to hate ponies just as much as the others did. Shining could begin to feel the ash slowly turn to soil beneath his hooves as he got further and further through the field of debris, toward the hills they had arrived from. His moment of reflection was cut short as a loud squawk emanated from his right. He barely had a moment to turn as a large mass of muscle, feather and metal went careening into him, sending him crashing to the floor.
Trapped beneath the creature, Shining violently lashed out but felt the creature slacken against him as a loud bang could be heard. Finally kicking the creature off of him he could see what had happened. Standing mere metres away from him was the tall blue, giant alien who had its weapon trained directly at what he supposed was his head. Shining could feel his spine go numb with dread as the alien starred him down. The situation remained that way until the alien lowered its weapon, giving a nod before running off towards the sound of battle. Shining, now alone, stared down at the corpse which once trapped him; what greeted him was a very unexpected sight. The unmistakable build of a Gryphon lay mere inches away from him, causing him to claw across the ground and away from the offending avian.
Sitting there for a moment, Shining could hear the familiar trot of another pony approaching turning his head to look down towards the space vessel, he could see Bronze Carapace slowly emerge from behind the rubble, slowly limping as he went. Bronze turned and spotted Shining who meekly waved as his only response. Bronze scurried over as quickly as he could with his limp and stood in front of Shining.
“By Celestia, you're still alive.” Bronze received no response as Shining sat there staring off into the distance. Carapace tried nudging him but received no response. “Come on Shining. Now is no time to develop PTSD on me. We need to go, use your magic.”
“I looked death in the eyes.” Shining slowly whispered out.
“Well he didn't invite you inside so you're good enough for now. Now get up.” Bronze called slowly placing his hooves on Shining's shoulders and rattling him side to side. This continued for several seconds before the sound of battle suddenly became a lot closer, snapping Shining from his trance. Several more Gryphons came vaulting over the rubble, landing on the other end of a corridor of debris housing them and the ponies. One turned and spotted them, hissing and calling to it's comrades to turn as well. The Gryphons brought their weapons up to bear as they stood on their hind legs and began launching a volley of fire at the ponies. Shining reacted faster though and had already grabbed Bronze and the dead Gryphon, linking them into a teleportation spell and sending them off into the ethereal plains before a single energy beam could strike.
42 could feel the heat dissipate over his armour as another energy beam struck him. He refused to flinch however and quickly dropped the last offender with a quick jab of the stock of his rifle, causing the avians head to cave in with a sickening crunch. Bringing his rifle to bear once more he scanned his radar and his surroundings for any more of the new interlopers. Satisfied that he'd killed the last of them he buzzed Katherine on the coms, signalling for her to converge on his position along with their guest. Moments later the red Spartan and mint unicorn emerged from the maze of wreckage and walked over to him.
“Any survivors?” 16 asked as she stepped over the corpse of a previously fallen pony.
“Nothing.” 42 called back, nudging the corpse of the Gryphon with his boot for emphasis, causing Lyra to shudder. “How's transgression?”
16 reached behind her and pulled the monitor from the magnetic clamp on her waist, proceeding to toss him over to 42. “Little bugger is still operational... barely. But I don't think we can fix him. Optics and audio are fried. Processing seems to be a bit inhibited and he seems to have become a bit delusional when I contact him through direct interface, not making and sense about anything.”
“Rampancy?” 42 asked as he spun the heavily damaged construct around in his hands, getting a view from all angels.
“Perhaps, though it's hard to tell with forerunner shit. Hell I don't even know how the damn thing survived two hits like that.” 16 stabbed the barrel of her rifle into the ground and rested her arms upon the stock, using it as a makeshift cane. “What's the plan now then; fortify and repair?”
42 looked off into the distance, towards the smoke plumes in the horizon and the evident source of the avian/mammalian creatures. “No. These things are armed to the teeth with forerunner toys. Sitting in one place is going to just get us swarmed and killed. These weapons were enough to punch right through my shields in two or three bursts. This whole fiasco is getting more cryptic by the minute. We need answers.” 42 finished his speech with a raised arm, pointing in the direction of the smoke plumes.
“What? You want to go where there are more of them? 16 replied. “I've seen a few of these weapons before, on installation 03. Spooks snatched them up for study. I think they called them light and binary rifles.”
“You remember what I told you in the med-bay. This place is a shield world, 100% certain.” We need to get a ride out of here and inform the UNSC of this find and I don't think we're going to be doing that trying to repair a messed up ship in the middle of what appears to be the opening days of an interplanetary war. We move fast and discreet. The bird brains got their weapons from somewhere and I'm sure they'll have some other stuff we could find useful or perhaps even a path deeper into the planet.”
“We're catching a ride from the forerunners?”
“Affirmative. Grab what you can and destroy the rest, place charges along the ship. Make sure we leave nothing for the natives to scavenge. You got thirty minutes while I drop Lyra somewhere out of the way.”
“Wait what...” Was all Lyra managed to stutter before she was knocked over the head by 16, sending her sprawling to the floor unconscious.
“Make it quick.” 16 said as she scooped Lyra up and passed her along to 42. She then turned off and jogged to the ship as 42 began sprinting in the general direction of Ponyville.
Shining Armour could feel the cool air brush against his dirtied fur as he re-emerged from the ethereal plains of teleportation. Never in his entire life had he done such a teleportation, while magically drained and carrying other ponies along to boot. The rush of adrenaline quickly wore off and he collapsed to the floor in a heaving wretch, desperately trying to keep himself from chucking up his guts. This continued for several moments before the dazed coughs of Bronze Carapace caught his attention, causing him to roll onto his back and peer over his stomach towards the nightly individual. It was quite obvious that the teleportation mixed with combat had taken its toll on him too as he hacked and spluttered all over the grass beneath him. A quick jolt of pain sent Bronze Carapace reeling to a standing position as he accidentally turned onto his injured flank. Capitalising on his now standing position, Bronze trudged over to Shining before nudging him in the side with his muzzle.
“Come on. We got to get go.” Bronze tried pulling him up a bit, but Shining was reluctant to return to an upright state. With a little more coaxing he was finally able to rise, albeit on wobbly legs as he adjusted himself over a wider base for better stability.
“Yeah... thanks.” Shining called as Bronze trotted away from him.
“Don’t thank me, you pulled our flanks right out of the fire there. Besides we still have a job to do.” Carapace stood over the corpse of the once hostile Gryphon. Black ichor poured from the open wound – or rather hole – where the creatures ears used to be. The blue giant’s projectile had went straight in one side and out the other; quick and efficient, even if somewhat messy. Shining trotted over and inspected the corpse for himself.
“I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen a Gryphon bleed black before.”
“I don’t think it’s his blood.” Bronze Carapace said. Sure enough, despite the black substance flowing freely, there was still hints of the red life source seeping out in small blotches between the surges of foreign liquid. “Something isn’t right here. I don’t think these are normal Gryphon soldiers.”
“Perhaps… but I still doubt even that. Gryphons may be the most scientifically geared species on the planet but even I don’t think they can do this. Any magic on them?”
Shining ignited his horn with the residual amounts that had returned to him since his rest and swiped it along the deceased warrior. “Nothing. Just normal background magic.”
“That can’t be right” Bronze scoffed.
“Well it is. I mean look at this other stuff!” Shining pointed to the small collection of gadgets both carried on and plugged into the Gryphon. There was a weird frame that ran along it’s spinal cord and down its hind legs, probably what allowed it to stand upright for large lengths of time. It also carried several cubes with jutting red spikes and the unmistakable shape of one of those alien projectile launchers, though this one was far more sleek than the known aliens. Where they favoured black and blocky, this weapon was a light silver and ran smoothly end to end with the occasional pointed jutting, the only thing to break away from this style were the rags tied around several areas of the weapon, most likely for the Gryphon’s comfort and grip. Shining picked up the rifle with his front hooves and leaned back slightly on his hind-legs. “Look at this thing I don’t think it’s gah…!”
As the rifle nestled in his grip it, parts of it began to glow a steady orange and within moments the various parts split apart from one another, floating in the air and hovering mere millimetres from its adjacent parts. The weapon hummed with a steady pulsing sound as the orange lights became more and more intense. Finally the top plate of the weapon shot up at the back end like a lever pump handle and a small cylinder turned upwards to face Shining Armour. Leaning closer in to inspect it, he nearly screamed when a smaller tube shot out from the other and clipped his ear. Dropping the rifle in panic it smacked into the floor and quickly returned to its dormant state, the only clue that it had ever been active was the dull glow of the upper weapon slowly fading.
Shining smiled sheepishly at Bronze who merely shrugged and trotted over to where the tube had landed. Picking it up with his teeth he brought it back over and deposited it by the weapon, allowing Shining to have a closer look at the fruits of his labour.
“I would assume that’s how you load it.” Bronze said. “Regardless, we have recuperated long enough. We need to get back to Canterlot.”
“What!? What about the others down there?” Shining peered down the hillside to the crash site nearly three miles in the distance. “We can’t leave them.”
“To be honest Shining. What with the aliens and the Gryphon’s showing up. I doubt there are any left down there. Besides, it is most crucial that we make haste to the princesses and inform them of the Gryphon Kingdom’s possible treachery. These devices may help us in the long run.” Bronze looked down and picked up the alien weapon once more, which once again whirred to life at his touch. Slinging it in his saddle pack he noticed it powered down again. “Huh. Interesting.”
Shining looked down towards the crash site in the distance once more before sighing and hanging his head low. “Very well. For Equestria we shall prevail.” Shining mumbled as he walked over to Bronze and and hoisted the Gryphon over both of their backs before setting off towards the spire like mountain, home of Canterlot, in the horizon. “We'll stop by Ponyville and requisition a train.”