If You Want Peace, Prepare For War

by tranhdxrbntd

First published

Equestria is at war and she needs help. Before his death, Discord enlists the help of several creatures that are all too familiar with the concept.

War. Noun. (1) : a state of armed conflict between different nations or states or different groups within a nation or state.

"Soldiers are always preparing to fight the previous war" is a saying that is common amongst those of military profession. For an unhealthy length of time, Equestria has not seen a war on her own soil in several hundred years. As such, would she be prepared for when such a thing happens? Of course not.

Battling the griffons and the minotaurs has been a challenge due to lack of experience. Fortunately, her armies adapted and started to hold her own. That was, until Tirek returned and aided in the fight to defeat Equestria. To keep his friends safe, Discord successfully defeated Tirek and sealed him away. The cost of fighting Tirek? Dying. Knowing that he would die, Discord summoned several creatures to protect his friends. These creatures, never seen before in Equestria, are very familiar with the concept of war.


Author's Note: I have deployed so updates won't exactly be plentiful. I'll definitely try to put them out but I'm pretty busy.

Author's Note V2: Deployment is done.

Author's Note V3: Gearing up for the next deployment, busy again.

Author's Note V4: Not deploying with unit, got run over by a car while walking

Hopeless, For Now

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Scootaloo was curled up in a ball clutching her ears as the sounds of gunfire rang in her ears. This was supposed to be her 'Grand' adventure, the tale of which she would brag to friends and random strangers til the day she died. Now? She'd be dead within the next few minutes, her tales of awesomeness unheard. Her dream of impressing other ponies would also die with her, having been unfulfilled.

A week and a half out of boot camp, she was immediately sent out to the front lines in war-torn Baltimare. What made it worse was her age; she was fourteen years old, far too young to be fighting in a war. Despite the age disparity, her recruiter hadn't given a second thought about enlistment. Even in boot camp, no one else had taken a second glance either as there were other ponies of similar age along with her.

"Move forward on the right!" The voice's owner was close. Frighteningly close. It wouldn't be long. The fate that had befallen hundreds of thousands of other soldiers would soon be her's too.

The gunfire stopped and the sounds of hoof, foot, and talons approaching started to fill her small ears. They were barely audible but at the moment, they were the loudest sounds she had ever heard; it was all she could think about.

She lifted her head from her knees and looked at the ground in front of her. It was here where her service rifle lay, the one issued to her name.

She got up from her curled up position and leaned her back against the broken pillar she had been using as cover. Picking up the rifle, she cradled it in her lap and examined it. In her hooves, was the Herdier No.1 Mk. 2. It was a bolt action rifle chambered in 6.5mm Stomper, fed from a three-round en bloc clip. Once the last round is chambered, the clip would fall out of the magazine. The design needed improvements but for now, it served its purpose. Well, sort of. It wasn't exactly the best rifle being fielded in this war.

Working the bolt, she looked down into the rifle's magazine. She saw a single solitary bullet. She had no other ammo but this one bullet. Her uniform, something that was amazingly awesome in her eyes, was now useless. The pouches, pockets, and bandoliers adorning her uniform? All empty now, having been expended in an ambush earlier.

Days ago, literally everypony was telling her to save one bullet for herself. Why? There were rumors of torture, hard labor, and being the target of depravity of enemy soldiers. At first, she didn't believe those tales.

Then, she saw her first dead body. It wasn't even the dead body from somepony killed in combat. It was the dead body of a POW that had escaped enemy capture. After successfully escaping from enemy imprisonment, he had died after eating too much. After starving for so long, his body was incapable of handling a large amount of food but nopony knew that at the time. Afterwards, a mortician examined his body. The mortician's findings were quick to be known by everyone in the camp.

Closing the bolt of her rifle, the last round was chambered back into the rifle. "I'm sorry," Scootaloo cried as tears started flowing from her eyes. She brought her rifle up to bear and placed the muzzle of the rifle into her mouth. She felt the rifle's muzzle touching the roof of her mouth, the cold barrel causing her to shiver.

It tasted predictably like iron, with hints of mud.

Tears flowing more freely, memories of her life occupied her mind. Her friends, her family, and her scooter were among the things that flashed through her mind. Good memories, bad memories, and even the boring ones flashed. In an instant, it would all be gone.

Closing her eyes, she slowly moved her hoof towards the trigger. When she felt its familiar shape, she took in a deep breath. Slowly, she let her final breath and savored that last feeling.

She pulled the trigger.

*Click*

Eyes opened wide, she pulled the rifle's muzzle out of her mouth and angrily glared it at. "Stupid fucking piece of junk!" she yelled before quickly throwing her rifle down onto the ground, using all of her strength. Since she was sitting on concrete, it loudly bounced off the ground and quickly clattered on it's side.

Lying down, she curled up into a ball and started crying more heavily.

"Hear that fellas? She sounds young!" Whoever said that sounded like he was within spitting distance.

Somehow, her tears starting flowing even more now. All hope was lost.

After she had been crying for a minute, something hard hit her in the head. "Get up!" Looking up, Scootaloo saw the barrel of a rifle pointed right at her face. Holding the rifle were not hooves but the blue hands of a minotaur. "I said get up!" Clambering up to her hooves, she wiped the tears from her face. "Move."

Sighing, Scootaloo started walking out from behind the pillar that was previously hiding her from the enemies. Looking back, she saw the minotaur pick up her rifle from where she threw it down. As she started walking forward, she saw the rest of the squad that was pursuing her. There were six of them total, including the minotaur that had confronted her. There was one other minotaur while the rest were griffons.

Early on in the war, it was discovered that the minotaurs were exceptionally skilled at waging a war. It was natural for minotaurs to have large statures and bodybuilding was a popular hobby. In a squad, they were generally the one armed with a machine gun or heavy weapon. Either way, they were definitely a major threat.

Griffons, while not having the capability to use magic like a unicorn, were as capable as pegasi. That does include weather manipulation. There were only two real differences between griffons and pegasi. Pegasi were faster and capable of making sharper turns. Griffons, in turn, could support more weight in flight. The second difference? Griffons had talonss, infinitely more useful than hooves (though they would never be as perfect as hands). Also, their hands could also function as knives due to the talons that they grew.

As she moved closer to the enemy squad, she noticed that they all were giving her rather lecherous looks. She shivered as various thoughts filled her mind. One of the griffons in the squad moved closer to her and looked at her left sleeve. Sewn onto it was a small Equestrian flag patch that was sewn onto the left sleeve of her uniform. "You won't be needing that anymore," said the griffon while he sliced it off of her uniform with his talons. The Equestrian flag patch, something that she was proud to wear, laid on the dirty ground. It almost seemed worthless despite her hard efforts in earning it in boot camp.

The other minotaur moved closer to her and looked down at her. "You'll definitely make a great addition," he said while giving her toothy smile. Tears started to well up in her eyes again as she just looked indignantly into the ground. This was it. Laughing, the minotaur picked her up with one hand but quickly dropped her onto the ground. He hadn't meant to drop her. No, he had dropped her because his head had exploded.

There Is Nothing Good In War Except Its Ending

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As Scootaloo dropped to the ground, bits of bone and grey matter showered the general area around the minotaur. The rather explosive display of violence had indeed registered in her mind but she had given something else more notice, along with the rest of the enemy squad. Whatever had caused that minotaur's head to explode, had sounded like artillery. It was also as loud as artillery meaning everyone present was clutching their ears as pain radiated from the sides of their heads.

Well, everyone but Scootaloo. Yes, she did hear the explosion but she didn't care about the pain coming from her ears. She was still staring at the minotaur's headless corpse. More specifically, she was staring at the gear that the corpse still wore. The first thing her eyes had taken note of was the enormous knife that the body was still wearing.

Without a second thought, she dove down on top of the corpse and ripped the blade out of its sheath with both hooves. Jumping back up on her hooves, she got up in time to see that the griffon who had sliced her flag patch off of her uniform had recovered and started raising his rifle. Heart racing, she stabbed forward with the knife. While meant for minotaur hands, it's heft combined with the adrenaline pumping through her veins had given her enough strength to drive the knife into the griffon's chest.

With the knife buried to its hilt in his chest, the griffon fell to the ground. Breathing heavily, Scootaloo looked at the enemy soldier she had killed for a split second which gave the rest of the enemy squad enough time to finally take note of what Scootaloo had started doing.

That was when the second thunderous explosion deafened everyone which was then followed by the other minotaur dropping to the ground. Unlike his compatriot, his head hadn't exploded but his chest turned into a geyser of blood as a gaping hole appeared where his heart had been. This explosion, while just as loud as the previous one, had only caused everyone to flinch.

Scootaloo, who was still looking at the body of the griffon that she had killed, reached down and tried to grab the weapon that he had been armed with. This time, she had tried using her mouth and her luck caused her to miss the griffon's rifle. She still managed to grab something but whatever it was, it didn't feel like a weapon. Whatever was in her mouth not only felt smaller but was hard, metal, and round like a coin except it tasted like iron and seemed to be missing its center.

There was no time to try again. Moving her hooves as fast she could, she started sprinting away from the remains of the enemy squad. Just as the remaining three had started firing, Scootaloo had managed to find cover... Except it was the same broken pillar she was hiding behind earlier.

At first, she didn't notice but when she did, she simply just sat back down and readopted the seated fetal position she was using her. Before she started crying again, she noticed that she still had that round metal object still in her mouth.

Spitting it out in her right hoof, she examined it. Like it felt in her mouth, it was round and metal. In fact, it looked a lot like a steel or iron ring. A very large ring in fact. For some reason, there was a long, flat wire wrapped around it...

Realizing what it was, she covered both of her ears as an explosion rocked the general vicinity. She was still breathing rather heavily but she got back up on her hooves and walked out from behind her cover.

Seeing the bodies of the dead enemy soldiers, she immediately grabbed the nearest firearm among the bodies. To her surprise, the griffon that was clutching the rifle shuffled. Shocked, Scootaloo fell backward on her rump. To her relief, all that the griffon did was shuffle and gurgle. Getting back up, she looked at the griffon and noticed the injuries that he had sustained.

His body was absolutely shredded from the shrapnel that the grenade threw in the explosion. Whatever was left of his uniform had now only served to soak up all of the life essence that his veins were releasing. The once deadly talons that he wielded were now broken and unusable.

When he finally died, Scootaloo picked up the rifle he was clutching. Like her service rifle, it was a bolt action rifle but much, much longer. Bringing it up, she shouldered it. The iron sights were still intact and were a simple V notch and post design. She moved her hoof towards where the trigger should have been and felt something round and hard. Looking at the rifle, she noticed that there was a protective metal guard surrounded the rifle's trigger and unfortunately for her, this guard was preventing her from pulling the trigger with her hoof. Grinding her teeth, she tossed the rifle to the ground and started searching for a better weapon but not before taking two grenades off of the griffon's body.

Looking at the other weapons among the bodies, she noticed that all of them were wielding rifles that all had the same guard around the trigger. Grinding her teeth even more, she walked over to where her service rifle was which was in the ownership of the minotaur who had been shot in the heart. Just as she reached down to pick it up, it went off with the bullet nearly hitting her in the leg.

By now, she was grinding her teeth hard enough to reduce a diamond into very fine powder.

Working the bolt, she expended the cartridge out of her rifle. She paused for a second before leaning down to pick up the casing, stowing it in a pocket.

With time to breathe, she finally relaxed. "Can't believe that really happened" Scootaloo said as she picked up her Equestrian flag patch from where it laid. The patch, once proudly the symbol of her country, was now dirty and damaged from the explosion. She also stowed it, the same place as where she had stowed away that spent casing from earlier.

'What now?' Scootaloo thought. She really didn't know what to do and had no idea where she was. Earlier in the day, she had been on a patrol with her squad but they were ambushed hours after leaving the safety of her home base. She had no map and compass but it didn't really matter as she also had no navigational skills. Even worse, her squad wouldn't check in until three days from now so no search party would be sent. She would have to do this alone.

And to top it all off, her ears were still ringing in pain from the explosion earlier... Wait, what had started all of that from earlier? Bringing her rifle up, she searched the surrounding area. If he or she had been friendly, they would have called out by now. If they were hostile, she'd be dead. Who had done it?

Her rifle, while only loaded with hopes and dreams, was pointed at every destroyed storefront, pillar, dirt mount, and generally anything that could serve as concealment for whoever had helped her out.

*CHK-CLACK*

That was the telltale sound of a bolt action rifle being worked. Turning around, she found herself faced with a minotaur... Only it wasn't a minotaur. Whatever he or she was, it was definitely strange and she lowered her rifle as she stared at it.

This creature was standing on two long legs, while looking like it was natural for it instead of some awkward stance that ponies did. Its shoulders weren't as broad as a minotaur but were still broad enough to be imposing. Attached to the shoulders were a set of arms that ended with hands, just like a minotaur's only his was nowhere near as muscular.

That's where similarities ended. The legs that it stood on looked almost completely straight. There was no curve like a minotaur's or griffon's legs, nor did they have the rearward bend like a pony's rear legs when standing up. At the end of its legs were a set of boots that, for some reason, extended outward into feet.

The creature's head was almost completely featureless; To be fair, a good amount of it was covered. Strapped to its head was a thick helmet and a bluish grey cloth covered its neck. The helmet it wore meant that it had no horns and probably didn't have a set of ears like any normal pony. Whatever mane it had, it was either short or nonexistent. The creature's face was something that she'd never think of as it was completely devoid of fur, except for eyebrows of course. The creature's eyes were definitely a surprise. They were small, thin, and shaped almost like almonds with a set of eyeglasses protecting and assisting them. Centered on its face was a nose, smaller than any she'd ever seen.

The rest of the creature's body was completely covered up. It was definitely wearing a uniform and a strange one at it. It was wearing pants and a coat, both of which were covered in splotches of grey and light tan. In addition to the coat, it was also wearing a vest. This vest was not any normal vest. Like the rest of its uniform, it colored and done in the same pattern. Besides that, it appeared to be heavily padded and had pieces connected to it that covered its groin region and upper arms. Attached to the front and sides of the vest were several pouches, the contents of which being a complete mystery.

And in its gloved hands was an absolutely massive bolt action rifle. The rifle's stock was made of a grey laminated wood stock and was absolutely void of any damage. Then, she noticed the scope mounted to it. It was the largest rifle scope that she had ever seen! It had a few other minor bits like a bipod and a sling but that didn't change how imposing it was.

Then, whatever it was, started walking towards her. Instinctively, she got up on her rear legs and brought her rifle back up with it aimed at the thing. The creature paused before continuing to walk towards her. She tried her best to be threatening but she was the opposite of intimidating. The difficulty of which was further exaggerated with her height, being only a head above his waist.

Slinging her rifle, she went back down to all four legs. What was the point? There wasn't much she could do now and if it had wanted to kill her, it would have by now. It was also likely that it was the one who helped her defeat that enemy squad.

The creature stared at her for a second before it walked over to one of the dead bodies of the griffons. It slung it's rifle over its shoulder and picked up the bolt action rifle of a griffon. Scootaloo watched as the creature went through the motion of chambering a new round, working the bolt to do so. It repeated this many times until the rifle's magazine was empty.

Holding it in one hand, the creature opened up one of the pouches on its vest and pulled out a small block of metal. It unfolded the block of metal to reveal a pair of pliers.

What was it doing?

Then, Scootaloo watched as it used the tool to rip off the curved metal guard that had been protecting the trigger. Now, it turned around and walked back over to her. The two once again face to face, sort of, but this time, the creature held up the rifle that it had modified. "Grab some ammo and let's go" he said in a clearly male voice.

Only The Dead See The End Of War

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Taking the griffon rifle in her hooves, Scootaloo shouldered it and aimed down the sights. She used her firing hoof and moved it towards where the trigger was, this time being able to actually touch it. The trigger felt rather strange, it being a lot smaller than the one on her service rifle. She then dry fired it, finding that the trigger was also a lot lighter than what she was used to.

None of this came to be a surprise to her as this rifle had been made for use with hands.

Looking back to her savior, she found that he was staring at her. "So... What are you?" Scootaloo asked.

He raised an eyebrow and stared back for a second. Finally, he opened his mouth replying with an answer that only served to irritate her. "Does it matter?"

Scootaloo sighed and took in his appearance. Maybe she'd find something that would give her answers. Now that she was closer to him, she noticed a small, rectangular strip of cloth attached to the upper chest portion of the vest that he was wearing. "Tran? What's that?" Scootaloo asked.

"My name." came the reply.

Finally, something helpful! Smiling, Scootaloo quickly said, "What kind of a name is Tran?" The question had actually seemed to confuse the creature but only for a slight moment. When he didn't answer, her smile faded. "So what group are you with?"

"1st Cav."

The 1st Cav? Scootaloo had never heard of that group before. Thinking even more about it, she realized something very important. The only nations that allied themselves with Equestria were the Crystal Empire and the Zebra Republic. Neither of which had a uniform that was even close to what he was wearing. Speaking of uniform, above his name tag was a grey, square patch that had a very familiar symbol on it. It was the rank insignia of a sergeant, three chevrons stacked, but his was pointed up instead of down.

Scootaloo doubted that this was a mistake. Whatever group or nation he was with, Scootaloo knew nothing about. "So what gun is that?"

He didn't respond verbally. Instead, he turned around and started walking away. Frowning, Scootaloo followed after him but stopped after a few seconds. She realized something very important, the rifle that he had given her was still empty and she had no ammo for it. She still needed to scavenge ammo! "Wait!! I still need to grab some bullets!"

-X-X-X-

Scootaloo followed the creature that had saved her, rifle slung over her shoulder. She didn't know who he was or where he was heading but being alone would only be trouble. "Where are we going?" Scootaloo asked.

"Out of the city" came the reply.

Scootaloo started running and got ahead of the creature, stopping in front of him. He stopped walking, staring at the pony obstructing his path. "We can't leave the city!" she exclaimed.

He stared back for a second, giving the statement a thought. "And why not?" he asked.

"Because that's treason!" Scootaloo replied with an exasperated tone.

"For you, it is" he replied with no change in emotion as usual.

Stammering, Scootaloo's thoughts were conflicting with each other. Going alone was a bad idea. That was clearly evident when she was almost captured by the griffons and minotaurs. However, Baltimare was her place of duty and desertion was punishable by firing squad. "But I can't go by myself!" There was no real way to get anything out of this situation.

"And why should I help you?" he asked back. He was right. He had no reason to help her. Whatever he was doing or supposed to be doing, it was more important than protecting or escorting a random soldier of the Equestrian army.

Without any response coming from Scootaloo, he walked past her. Scootaloo didn't bother following him and stared at where he used to stand, listening to his footsteps as he proceeded to leave. "Discord, why'd you have to die?" she asked herself. Discord's sacrifice was important. Tirek had been eliminating Equestria's forces faster than they came. His death was followed by a further escalation of hostilities and Equestrian losses. The most serious being the griffons had managed to finally get an almost-permanent stronghold in Equestria. Three of Equestria's major east coast cities were now in griffon control.

Then, she noticed that the sound of footsteps had died. Turning around, she noticed that the creature was just standing there. He was still facing away from her but was simply standing there. "What did you say about Discord?" he said, still facing away from her. "That was he was dead?"

Scootaloo was surprised. When Discord had died, every single major nation on the planet had known. A god's death, no matter how much of a pain he was, would be world-changing news. "Everypony knows that he died fighting against Tirek."

He turned around to look at her, showing the first real emotion that Scootaloo had seen from him. While only being a very minor change in facial features, she noticed that he was starting to get angry. He had started to grind his teeth subtlety, a few veins on his neck and head had started to bulge out, and his eyes had narrowed. "When?" This wasn't a question. No, he was demanding the answer from her.

"Six months ago" Scootaloo quickly replied. She really did not need to be the target of his anger right now.

He started to grind his teeth more visibly and tightened his grip on his massive rifle. After a few seconds, those signs started to disappear. The tight, crushing grip on his rifle had disappeared, the veins on his neck stopped bulging, and he had closed his eyes. "Where in this city is your group stationed?" he asked as he started walking again. Smiling, Scootaloo followed after him.

-X-X-X-

My eyes shot open. Looking around, I found myself lying down on a cold, hard surface. I shot up into a seated position, finding it a lot harder to do so than I thought. Looking down at myself, I found myself fully clothed and wearing a full set of IOTV body armor (including both main trauma plates, both side plates, the groin protector, lower back protector, throat protectors, neck protector, and both deltoid/arm protectors), an ACH, a war belt, and a full combat uniform (specifically the fire resistant flight uniform). All of it was in the digital ACU uniform.

First off, why in God's name was I wearing a full set of this IOTV bullshit!? With all of the pieces, it is one of the most annoying things that you can ever wear!

Second off, where am I? I was sitting in a blank, concrete room that had no windows and only one door. Strangely enough, there were no visible lights in the room but I could see clear as day. The only other thing in the room was a pelican case, one that was meant for a rifle, sitting to my left. Pulling the case closer to myself, I opened it up.

Much to my surprise, it wasn't a piece of military hardware. Instead, it was a civilian target rifle. What was more surprising was that it was my own personally owned rifle. I wouldn't mistake it for anything else.

I was still sitting down on the ground so I moved the rifle from the case to my lap. Turning it over, I found more evidence that it was my own personal rifle.

The rifle in question was a Savage 112 Magnum Target, a long range target rifle in .338 Lapua. The most noticeable feature about the rifle was her grey laminated wood stock. The second being that the scope on it was the most massive thing in existence. Seriously, it was a 4-50x75mm rifle optic. On a .50 BMG rifle, it would look sensible. On this thing, it overshadowed the rifle. Further complimenting the rifle was a small bipod that could be folded up or extended to be longer. A simple two-point sling was also on the rifle. Said sling also functioned as an ammo bandolier, holding ten extra rounds.

The Savage 112 was a pretty good rifle but improvements could be made. For one thing, it's a single shot rifle. This forces you to savor your shots. Another note, it weighs 12 pounds. This might be due to the fact that it's a target rifle.

Holding my hand over the ejection port, I grabbed the bolt handle and worked it. This resulted in a round jumping out of the rifle and into my hand. Holding it up to my eyes, it's appearance told me that the projectile was 250 grains. The bullet's other features were a nice, sharp point, and an immaculate case. This meant that it was most likely a match round, something more accurate though I could have been wrong. Since that was all I needed from the examination, I loaded the bullet back into the rifle.

Looking back at the pelican case, I found a note.

Dear Tran,
I have recruited you, along with others, to assist the Equestrian nation in her time of need. She is at war and she is losing. While this seems unprecedented and rather forceful, I was forced to do as so upon learning of the possibility of my death. While this seems crazy, you are now on another planet. Upon leaving the room, you shall notice this. I'm sorry that I had to do this but the need to protect my friends is of the utmost importance. Please protect my little ponies.

-Discord

What kind of a joke was this? On another note, how in God's name did they manage to get my hunting rifle from home? Taking the rifle off of my lap, I set it back on the pelican case. Let's see what else was I left with.

The first thing I checked was my IOTV. In addition to having all of the optionally worn pieces, it had a numerous number of pouches to it. There were 3 double magazine pouches, the IFAK pouch, 2 flash bang pouches, two grenade pouches, and two canteen pouches. There was no surprise when I found a canteen in each canteen pouch.

Inside the IFAK (Improved First Aid Kit) was your standard issue medical kit with a few extra items. There were two CAT tourniquets, two Israeli bandages, a roll of gauze, a roll of medical tape, an airway kit, 3 packs of QuikClot gauze, and 4 pairs of medical gloves.

Then, I opened one of the grenade pouches and found an M67 fragmentation grenade. Upon pulling it out of the pouch, I nearly dropped it as my heart started to race. This wasn't a fake grenade. In my company, I was one of the armorers and a certified ammo handler. THIS WAS A REAL GODDAMN GRENADE!!! Hell, it looked like it just came right out of the storage canisters that they came in. Jesus, it even had the safety clip that tightly held the spoon down.

Holding the grenade as tightly as I could, I unscrewed the fuze head off of the grenade. When I saw that the fuze was also real, my heart skipped a beat. It got worse when I saw (and smelled) that the inside of the grenade was indeed filled with Comp B. Opening up the other grenade pouch, I found a second grenade. Upon taking it apart, I found that it was also real.

I reassembled the two and stowed them back in the grenade pouches. I didn't want to be caught carrying them but just leaving them here would be irresponsible.

After that, I opened the two flash bang pouches. There were two revolver speed loaders in each of them. Holding one of them up, I noticed the red tips of the bullets that filled the speed loader. I also noticed that the rounds were in a caliber that was beyond all logical reasoning. What caliber? .50 caliber. Yep. They were .500 S&W Magnum rounds.

Why did I have these?

Then, the double mag pouches were next. The first one held a simple bundle of 550 paracord. The second pouch held a bundle of .338 Lapuas. There was thirty rounds total, held together with a rubber band. The last pouch also held a bundle of .338 Lapuas, also made of thirty rounds held together with a rubber band.

Lastly, was the war belt.

On the left-hand section of the belt? A recipient for the speed loaders. Yep, it was a S&W Model 500 along with two more speed loaders. Drawing the hand cannon, I found it to be the same case as the Savage 112. It was also my personal firearm.

Hitting the cylinder latch, the massive cylinder dropped to the left. This revealed that it was loaded and upon pulling some of the rounds out, I determined that it was real ammo.

Why did I have this as well? Let's say that I actually did have to fight in a war for someone else. I would definitely not choose a .500 S&W! There are a million things wrong with it like the five round capacity, the massive recoil, or its weight.

The revolver itself was as big as you could guess. If someone told me that it wasn't designed for shooting someone but for clubbing people to death, I'd believe them. My personal S&W 500 had a 6.5" barrel and rosewood grips. It was something that I had bought solely for large game hunting. Well, that and watching cocky people attempt to fire it.

On the right side of the war belt was a folding pocket knife (boring but practical), a non-serrated kabar (also boring but practical), four pairs of ear plugs (pretty straightforward), and two more tourniquets (you can never have too many tourniquets!).

Lastly, I went through my uniform's pockets. There wasn't much. The front pockets of my pants yielded two packs of gum (mint flavored and sugarless). In one of my ankle pockets, my wallet. The last item I found was a small notebook that was living in my right cargo pocket. The notebook, it held a bunch of dope cards (imagine a chart stating ballistic corrections).

That was all there was.

Picking up my Savage 112, I walked over to the door. Said door was a meter and a half tall and the door handle was too low for me to grab normally. Crouching down, I grabbed the doorknob. Turning it, I slowly pushed it open.

The scene in front of me absolutely confused me. There, in the open 100 yards away, stood 4 griffons and 2 minotaurs (all six of which were technicolor!). Noticing that all six of them were armed, I tried to take cover back in the room that I had recently exited. When my back hit a solid object, I turned around to see that the door had disappeared. Standing in its place, a brick wall stood.

I was shocked but only for the shortest of seconds. Looking around, I took cover behind some concrete rubble. All six creatures were facing away from me but being safe never hurt anyone.

I set my rifle down on the ground and looked through the optic. With the help of my rifle's absurdly powerful optic, I made out more of their features.

All four griffons wore dark grey uniforms (no helmets) that were covered in a series of pouches. Their weapons all consisted of some form of long guns, possibly bolt action rifles. Size wise, they all seemed to be the size of large dogs with the mastiff coming to mind.

The two minotaurs, they wore dark blue uniforms (also no helmets but that might be due to the horns that they had). Their uniforms were covered in pouches but were also covered in belts of ammunition. Both of them were giant. Their bodies, while covered in cloth, were bulging with muscles. It didn't help that they were double the height of the griffons nor the large machine guns that they were armed with.

It seemed that the six of them were... Shooting at a pillar? You know, it kinda reminds me of... They were assaulting an individual position!

One of the minotaurs walked over to the pillar and seconds later, walked back out. Following the minotaur was a... Small orange horse in a dark brown uniform?

I lifted my head up, rubbed my eyes, and looked back through the scope. Yep. That was indeed a small orange horse in a dark brown uniform.

You know, I don't think this was a prank anymore. That, or I'm dreaming.

Thinking back to the letter, I remember the part where it asked me to protect m'y little ponies'. Well, let's see where this takes me.

I grabbed the bolt handle on my rifle and drew it back, checking for the telltale sign of a loaded round. When I saw the brass, I pushed the bolt forward and chambered that round. Digging through my war belt, I took out a set of earplugs and stuck them in my ears. A .338 Lapua Mag was not quiet.

Looking back through the scope, I centered the reticle on the minotaur's chest. As I started to pull the trigger, the minotaur had picked up the orange horse, pony thing. Before I could stop myself, my rifle fired.

*BOOM*

To my surprise, the minotaur's head had exploded. Huh. I guess my rifle was zeroed for a longer range.

I worked the bolt of my rifle and ejected the spent casing. I almost forgot that my rifle was a single shot rifle. Grabbing a single round, I carefully slid it into the chamber of my rifle. Closing the bolt, I started adjusting the elevation of my rifle's optic. Let's hope it was enough.

Taking aim again, I searched for my next target. I found the second minotaur and placed the reticle on his chest.

*BOOM*

War Does Not Determine Who is Right, Only Who is Left

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Cloudsdale was no longer a pegasi hub for weather control. Shortly after the war had started, it became a giant, mobile airbase. Among the changes that the city experienced was the change in population. No longer was the population all pegasi. Now, the city welcomed earth ponies and unicorns, all of which served or worked with the military.

Inside the city, pegasi milled about in anticipation for the next offensive. One particular cyan pegasus was playing with the gear that she was issued. She was part of the Equestrian Royal Flying Corps and was a member of the Dragon Hunters, a highly esteemed dogfighting group. To be more specific, she was the most experienced dogfighter of the Dragon Hunters.

Dogfighting was a very dangerous art as both sides had an equal capability of killing each other. For both sides, the average aerial dogfighter's life expectancy was 11 days. This specific pegasus had survived the entirety of the war since it had started. Considered a hero among her peers, Rainbow Dash was just as cocky as she ever was. Since she survived seventy times longer than the average pegasus, her boasts weren't lies (most of the time).

One of the benefits of having survived so long was that she could customize her gear as she wanted.

The standard uniform of the Equestrian armed forces was a dark brown jacket with dark brown pants. This uniform was meant for dealing with the cold, nothing else. An optional aviators cap and goggles were also available to be worn, the latter being useful for keeping the wind from attacking your eyes. Over the uniform, ponies would have to wear a set of canvas webbing gear. This webbing composed of multiple pouches and pockets meant for carrying ammunition and gear.

Rainbow Dash's uniform was bright cyan (the same as her coat) instead of the required dark brown. Her webbed gear, also cyan, had half the normal number of pouches and pockets. While this meant she could carry a very limited amount of ammo, she was weighed down far less than anypony else. For her, speed was key.

Her weapons, just as customized as her gear.

Her service rifle wasn't standard Equestrian issue as it was a captured griffon weapon. It was a Harpy Model 06, a magazine-fed semi automatic rifle. A normal Harpy Model 06 was chambered in 7x45mm Talon and held 10 rounds. Rainbow Dash's Harpy was rechambered to fire the standard Equestrian rifle round, 6.5x50mm Stomper, and hers held 15 rounds. Part of the rifle's design was a fixed magazine, meaning it could only be reloaded with stripper clips or loose rounds. There was no way getting around this, the magazine incorporated the feed ramp and held the lower receiver to the upper receiver.

Other than rechambering the rifle, she had to shorten the stock to be able to use it. In its original griffon configuration, the stock was much too long for ponies to use comfortably. Also, the rifle's trigger guard was removed and the trigger replaced with a long lever trigger, one that allowed easy usage with hooves. Other than that, the griffon sling was replaced with a standard issue Equestrian sling.

This was her rifle. There were few like it and this one was hers.

Then, there was her sidearm. Unlike her rifle, her sidearm was standard issue. It was an Equestrian Ordnance Works Model 92 revolver. The Model 92 was a single action or double action revolver chambered in 8x27mm Equestrian Ordnance and like most revolvers, it held 6 rounds. The 8mm Equestrian Ordnance round was, to quote the average Equestrian gunsmith, "a retardedly anemic round". Most ponies would agree with this statement, especially those that have shot at a minotaur with one.

Why would such an experienced dogfighter carry such a sidearm? Well, it and its ammunition didn't weight much. Also, Rainbow Dash carried it solely for the purpose of shooting down other enemy dogfighters. While the Model 92 fired a weak cartridge, any griffon would have trouble flying after being shot no matter the bullet.

There was nothing special about the revolver. It was in a basic flight configuration. It featured a snub nose barrel, parts made of light metal alloys, and a lanyard loop. This lanyard loop connected the revolver to the holster that was strapped to Rainbow's webbing gear so she could never lose it in flight.

Rainbow Dash drew her revolver and aimed it at a lone stray cloud in the sky. This revolver had served with her since the start of the war. It was no longer a simple handgun. It was now a piece of her.

"Rainbow Dash" came a voice from behind her. Surprised, Rainbow Dash turned around while instinctively pointing her revolver at whoever it was. Before she could think, she found herself disarmed and knocked down by an orange maned gold pegasus. "Be careful there," Spitfire said. "You might hurt yourself." Spitfire unloaded the revolver and tossed it back.

Rainbow Dash caught the revolver in one hoof while jumping back up. "You need to stop doing that," came her reply.

Spitfire smiled and gave the ammo back. "And you need to get a better sidearm," Spitfire said while drawing her sidearm. Her sidearm wasn't necessarily a handgun. Instead, she carried a sawed-off double barrel shotgun. "Like this!" There was nothing that could defeat a 12 gauge shotgun loaded with buckshot in a short ranged match.

A shotgun was a rather strange weapon for a dogfighter, but Spitfire wasn't a dogfighter. Well, she used to be a dogfighter. At the start of the war, she was one of the most feared dogfighters. Early on, she earned the nickname of "The Phoenix's Fire" from her aggressiveness in aerial combat. Unfortunately, she was shot out of the sky too many times and could no longer keep up with the average dogfighters' fast flight speeds. Now, she was an infantry pony who just so happens to be able to fly.

Rainbow Dash didn't bat an eye at the sight of the sawed-off shotgun. "What are you here for anyways?"

Spitfire's smile faltered. She let out a sigh before responding. "Just gotta ruin the mood, huh?" Spitfire said. "The higher-ups believe that a griffon offensive is starting in Baltimare."

Rainbow Dash reloaded her revolver and aimed it at the same cloud as earlier. "And? They're always saying that new offensives are starting or happening all the time."

Spitfire hit the unlocking lever on her shotgun, exposing the breach. Loaded in the chambers were brass shotgun shells, 12 gauge 2 3/4 inch buckshot (the standard combat shell). Snapping the shotgun shut, she aimed it at the same cloud that Rainbow Dash was aiming at. "They have proof this time."

Lowing her revolver, Rainbow Dash looked at Spitfire. "What proof?" she asked.

"They've started attacking the 5th Ground Division's main base."

A deafening boom echoed through the skies as a powerful shockwave rocked the foundations of Cloudsdale. Following that, a brilliant growing rainbow ring trailed through the air.

The Sonic Rainboom hadn't even fazed her. Too much exposure to artillery and explosions had desensitized the feeling to her, something that scared her to the core. Looking at the same stray cloud (which miraculously survived the Sonic Rainboom), she continued aiming her shotgun at it. Without blinking, she pulled the trigger and sent a spread of buckshot at the cloud's direction.

What was the importance of this news? Scootaloo was assigned to the 5th Ground Division.

War Isn't Fair, Take Every Advantage

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Scootaloo's ears twitched.

Ever since she was sent to Baltimare to serve in the 5th Ground Division, her ears were constantly bombarded with the sound of gunfire. It seemed like it came from every direction, varying in intensity and distance.

Her unit, the 6th Infantry Regiment, was a major infantry unit of the 5th Ground Division. It's main headquarter's base was stationed in Baltimare. For now, Baltimare was also housing an enormous foreign enemy force.

She'd definitely need to get used to the sound if she was gonna stay here long. Now whether or not it was due to dying, going deaf, or mental resolve was yet to be determined.

Scootaloo looked at her temporary ally. It seemed like he didn't even know that this was a battlefield. Even when there was a distant explosion, he acted like nothing had happened.

In the mind of every young and stupid soldier, being unaffected by the loud noises of war (without going deaf) were the signs of a veteran soldier. Now that she had seen what war really was, she no longer wanted any part of it.

"Tran?" Scootaloo called out.

"Yes?" he responded, still walking and facing forward.

"What are you?" she asked again, hoping that he would answer this time.

"Doesn't matter" he responded again.

Scootaloo snorted. "Why are you such a grump?" she asked him. That was when he stopped walking. At first, she hadn't noticed. Only when she walked into his legs, did she realize. 'What the hell?' Scootaloo tried to say but she had a glove covering her mouth. Looking at the offending appendage, she found that , to no surprise, it belonged to the soldier she was following.

She then watched as he laid into a prone firing position, weapon pointed forward. Catching the hint, she laid down too and pointed her rifle forward. Two hundred meters ahead, the aftermath of a short conflict was in full view. The rotting corpses of the enemy (griffons and minotaurs) and allies (ponies and zebras) laid in the street, surrounded by discarded weapons and spent shell casings.

She gasped when she recognized the bodies of the ponies and zebras. It was her squad! Leaping onto her hooves, she started running towards the scene as quickly as her legs carried her.

"Wait!" she heard the grump call out.

She didn't care. Once she made it to the first pony body, she flipped it over. The face she saw belonged to her squad leader. "Sergeant Windy..." she said, looking at the body's still-open eyes. She reached down and closed his eyes. "May you find peace on the other side."

Looking at her sergeant's body, she checked the body's webbed gear. Most of the ammo pouches on his body were still full. Dropping the griffon rifle she was currently armed with, she took the ammo for herself. She unslung her rifle (the one she was originally issued) and reloaded it.

She definitely enjoyed the feeling of being able to use her service rifle again. The much shorter carbine length rifle was perfect for her small, underaged body. As she dumped the ammo she had scavenged for the griffon rifle, she noticed a handgun pouch attached to her platoon sergeant's right leg.

She opened it up and pulled out a Model 92 revolver. The first smile since coming to Baltimare graced her face. "Just like Rainbow Dash's," she said, savoring the feeling. Unlike Rainbow Dash's personal sidearm, this one was the ground/infantry version. Nothing about it was like Rainbow Dash's Model 92. It had the standard 4 inch barrel, had no lanyard loop, and was entirely made of steel (aside from the wood grips).

Despite that, she still treasured it.

In her stupor, she hadn't noticed someone walking up to her until she heard footsteps. She took a quick glance back and noticed the weird shape of whatever species that Tran was. "Just give me a minute."

"Drop the revolver." It wasn't Tran. When she realized that the voice didn't match Tran's, she froze up. "Drop the gun, now!" She dropped her Model 92 and kicked it away from her. "Now turn around, slowly." Once she obeyed the orders, she found herself facing another of whatever Tran was.

While being the same species, this one didn't look anything like Tran. Tran had clearly been wearing a military uniform, the camouflage was a dead giveaway. This one, however, was wearing black jeans, a dark grey hooded jacket, black leather boots, and a black shirt. On top of the clothes, he was wearing a mismatched set of webbed gear that seemed to be pieced together by a child. The basis of the webbing was black leather straps that went around his waist and over his right shoulder. The strap that went around his body was adorned with several square brown leather pouches while the strap that went across his chest held an easy-to-reach knife.

Like with Tran, she couldn't tell much about his face. The jacket's hood was up, obscuring most of his head's features and the features that were present weren't much different from Tran's face. The more important thing was the handgun in his hand. It was a pistol, something that she had never seen before.

In Equestria, pistols were relatively uncommon. For ponies, revolvers were just easier to use and maintain (what maintenance?). Also, the act of reloading an emptied magazine was rather difficult to do with hooves.

Scootaloo didn't know much about pistols. The only thing that she could say about the sidearm was that it was a pistol and it was painted a tan color.

She could also see that he was armed with a rifle but it was slung over the creature's back so she couldn't say much about it. All she could see was a small section of the rifle's barrel that peeked over his shoulder and the rifle's front iron sight.

"Now you're gonna answer a few of my questions," he said.

*CLICK*

The soft mechanical click came from her left and the sound was unmistakable, it was the hammer of a gun being cocked back. Both Scootaloo and her ambusher turn to face the source of the sound. Much to her happiness, it was Tran not too far away and he was aiming a revolver (on another side note, it was the single largest revolver she had ever seen) up into the air. Why didn't Tran shoot her attacker like when he had saved her earlier?!

"You know, I thought that was your face when I saw you," Tran said, still pointing the small cannon into the air.

The appearance of Tran seemed to confused her attacker. He started blinking rapidly for a few seconds followed by the lowering of his handgun. "Tran? You're here too?"

Scootaloo looked at Tran, then back to her attacker. "You two know each other?" she exclaimed.

Her attacker looked back at her. "You must be really slow if you haven't realized that by now," he said. He completely lowered the pistol and then lifted up the right side of his jacket, revealing a black holster. He then carefully holstered the pistol and unslung his rifle.

The rifle was a bolt action rifle, a very common sight in this war. Nothing about the rifle was special. It had polished wood finish (also very common in this war), an exposed fixed magazine (also very common in this war), a brown leather sling (so common that finding a rifle without one was beyond rare), and a small rifle scope. The fixed scope, in Scootaloo's eyes, was absolutely puny. It had a small diameter and was short overall. To compare this scope to the scope on Tran's rifle would be the difference between a shed and the largest skyscraper in Equestria.

Tran eyed the rifle. "I see you've added a PU scope to your Mosin like you've always wanted," Tran said.

He looked down at his rifle and smiled at the small scope. "Yep," replied the other... Whatever they were.

What were they!? It was killing her! "What are you things?!" Scootaloo screamed, frustrated at not knowing what they were.

"Americans," replied the other... American? What in Celestia's name was an American?

"What?" asked Scootaloo.

"Logan..." Tran said while facepalming.

Finally! It was a name, something that she could refer to him with! The name "Logan" was a name that sounded a lot like a griffon or a minotaur's name. In Equestria, names were directly tied to a pony's role in society or their special talent. A griffon and or a minotaur's name was often made up at birth. It wasn't meant to mean anything like an Equestrian name. Instead it was more for giving someone something to be called with that was entirely unique to that one being.

He smiled in response to Tran's gesture, clearly happy with the results. "So what's with the tiny horse?" Logan asked.

Wait, what?! Was he referring to her? "Hey!"

Tran took his hand off of his face and looked down at her. "Little tyke started following me after I saved her from some attackers, a lot like a stray cat," Tran replied.

Scootaloo glared at Tran. "Hey!"

Tran stared back. "So you're telling me you're not following me like a stray cat?" Tran asked back. Scootaloo opened her mouth to say something witty back but nothing came to mind. The only thing she could really do was to glare even harder in an attempt to guilt him... Much like a cat. "And to answer your question, we're humans. You can also refer to us as people or person. Just think of us as minotaurs that are more monkey than bull."

Scootaloo just continued to glare at him, still irritated at being called a stray and a tyke.

That was when Logan finally noticed the revolver that Tran was armed with. "Jesus! Why do you have that with you?!" Logan exclaimed. "What are you trying to shoot, elephants?" Tran looked at the revolver held in his left hand, stilled aimed at the sky. He lowered it and then shoved it into a holster on his left hip. "And are those fucking wood grips? Did you just want all of the fucking recoil?"

Tran grinned at the comments. "You should shoot it one handed. It's not that hard if you're used to it."

"I know you're used to it but I'm not!" Logan exclaimed.

Scootaloo completely agreed with the statement. It looked like an absolute cannon. It would even look massive in a minotaur's hands! "What does that even shoot?" Speaking of which, Scootaloo walked over to where her recently acquired revolver was and picked it up.

Tran's smile grew upon hearing her question. "Hand me one of the rounds from that revolver."

Scootaloo looked at the revolver. She had only ever fired the Model 92 once. Rainbow Dash had once taken her to go target shooting, a memory which forever held a spot in her mind. From what she remembered, you had to hit a lever and then swing out the cylinder to reload it. After a good amount of fumbling, she finally managed to do as such. The cylinder swung out to the right, revealing 6 spent shell casings.

Frowning, she looked at the body of her sergeant and dug through his ammo pouches for more ammo. After a short search, she found 5 speed loaders for the Model 92. She stowed all but one of them in her webbed gear, handing the last one to Tran. Tran, holding up the speedloader filled with the six 8mm EO rounds, simply started laughing. Logan, after taking one look at the speedloader, also started laughing.

Why were they laughing? "What?" Scootaloo asked.

Tran stopped laughing and held up the speedloader. "See this?" he said, while slightly shaking the small speedloader. Scootaloo nodded. He then opened up a pouch on his vest and pulled out his own speedloader. The only difference? Well, the speedloader's excessive size embarrassed her.

"Oh."

Ask Not What Your Country Can Do for You; Ask What You Can Do for Your Country

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I looked at the speedloader that she had given me. It was puny! With a decent amount of effort and fiddling, I removed one of the rounds off of the speedloader. '8mm EO', it read. An 8mm revolver? As a service weapon? What idiot came up with that?

I took a look at the tiny orange horse, realizing that I didn't know her name. "Hey, are all horses your size?" I asked.

She gave me an irritated glare back. "We're ponies!" she said back to me.

That wasn't what I asked but okay. "So are all ponies as small as you?"

You know, I could actually feel her glare becoming stronger. How'd she do that? Seriously, it'd be the best skill to have as an NCO. "I'm a little smaller than others," she finally confessed. She then pointed at the body of the pony that she had scavenged from. "But others are around that size."

The size of the corpse's body wasn't too much bigger than the orange pony that had been following me. Judging from the dimensions, I'd say these ponies were about the same size as large dogs and were somewhere between a hundred to two hundred pounds in weight. When they stood up on their hind legs (which looks strange might I add), they could have been around my height.

I handed the 8mm rounds back to Scootaloo who in turn, used it to reload her revolver. I took a short look at the other bodies lying on the ground. "So what did they mean to you?" I asked.

In response, she looked back at the body that she had looted from. She closed her eyes and took in a breath. "They were my squad. He was my squad leader."

I placed a hand on her shoulder. "They're in a better place now."

She looked up at me, locking her gaze on my eyes. "Why do they have to send us to fight?" she asked me.

Well that's something you never want to answer. There's no actual right or wrong answer to this question. Sometimes it's for peace (ironically). Other times, it was for religion. In rare cases, there was a necessary evil that needed vanquishing. Really, it made me think about my own past experiences on deployment.

"Because no one else will" I finally replied. She looked away from me and back at the body of her squad leader.

Tears started to drip from her eyes. "We were ambushed a few hours after starting our patrol. We tried to retreat but I got separated and-"

I interrupted her. "Yeah, I saw." I looked at Logan. He no longer had that asshole smile from earlier. It was now replaced with a serious look.

Scootaloo was moving towards the body of her squad leader again. "What are you doing?"

She didn't reply. When she revealed the front left arm of her squad leader, she pulled off a patch from the uniform's sleeve.

I walked over to the body of a different pony and looked at the corpse's left arm sleeve. There was a flag patch in the exact same area. It looked like a flag, albeit a strange one at it. It must have been their version of dog tags.

I looked back at the small orange pony. She had started moving to the next body when I walked over to her and grabbed her shoulder. "Be careful. Where I'm from, the enemy tends to booby trap dead bodies," I warned her.

She nodded and continued on with the duty of collecting the ID tags off of her dead squad mates. She took her time, I didn't blame her. I would have given her the rest of eternity to do this if I were to allow it.

Once she had finished, she walked up to me and held every patch in one hoof. "If I die, I want you to take them and hand them off to anypony else," she said. She then took the time to place them all in a pouch on her webbed gear, making sure I saw. "Mine is in there with them."

Oh. "I can do that." In war, the missing are in a separate count form the dead in hopes that they are found. Unfortunately, they're not always found. That was when I realized the implications of her small size. "Did you lie about your age to enlist?" She nodded. "Christ." I looked at her own left sleeve where her ID patch should have been. It was missing. "What do I call you?"

She blinked. "I never did tell you my name, did I? It's Scootaloo" replied.

Scootaloo? I then smiled. "To quote a little tyke, what kind of a name is Scootaloo?"

A smile appeared on her face but only for the shortest of moments. She still had to face the reality of her situation. "Let's get going. I think I know where to go from here," she said, trying to keep her gaze from the bodies of her squadmates. She took a few steps forward, her eyes letting out a few more tears in the process.

I ran up to her and grabbed her shoulder once again. "Wait!"

She pulled her shoulder away from my hand and glared at me once again. "What?" I looked in the direction that she had started to walk towards. The sound that I had been ignoring this whole time, distant gunfire and explosions, was coming from that direction. To describe it with the word 'intense' would have been the same as describing the sun as 'hot'.

It didn't take her very long to reach the same conclusion as I had. "Oh no," she said before immediately going off in a sprint. I ran off after her, sniper rifle at the ready.

"Oh fucking shit, I hate running!" Logan yelled, running after the two of them.

The Airspace Over Baltimare

Rainbow Dash ran her bayonet into the chest of her target, an enemy griffon dogfighter. She stared into the griffon's eyes. His eyes were young, inexperienced as she would describe it as. The griffon looked down at the bayonet, still stuck in his chest, before looking back into Rainbow Dash's eyes. "What?" he said.

She didn't say anything back. A split second later, her rifle discharged and sent a round through the griffon's chest.

No longer able to fly, gravity took over and the griffon slid off of the bayonet. Weapon at the ready, she swung it around ready for another victim. Finding no one else, she lowered her rifle. She wasn't too far from Baltimare's main base. Once she rendezvoused with the 6th Infantry Regiment, she could get some help finding Scootaloo.

She felt a bullet strike her chest. Luckily, her uniform stopped the bullet (thank Celestia for Rarity's miracle works of art) but the impact knocked the wind out of her lungs. It didn't take very long for her to recover (it wasn't exactly an unfamiliar feeling), deciding to dive to go along with the drop.

Wherever her assailant was, she had to avoid him. Staying airborne was too risky, cover being completely unavailable. Seconds later, she landed and hid in the remains of a destroyed building.

She was only a few kilometers away from her intended destination. It wouldn't be hard getting their by hoof, but she'd definitely have to watch out for griffons and minotaurs.

Rainbow Dash looked down at her rifle, frowning at its appearance. Fresh blood coated its exterior and the bayonet was starting to bend. She pulled back on the rifle's charging handle, ready to catch the expended round. Nothing came out. She looked into the rifle.

It was empty.

Digging through her webbed gear, she found nothing but air in every single pouch. One of the downsides to removing half of the ammo pouches off of her webbed gear? Only being able to carry half the usual load of ammo. Slinging her rifle, she drew her Model 92. Dropping the cylinder, 2 fired and 4 unspent rounds were presented to her.

Teeth grinding, she flicked the cylinder closed. "Fuck me."

Somewhere In Canterlot

There was a chalkboard. It was a normal chalkboard. It had no enchantments and due to the shortages in materials (due to the war), it was shoddily made. For all intents and purposes, it was the single most important chalkboard in Equestria. Scribbled upon its green surface, with easy-to-erase chalk, were the situational details of Equestria's military. This included current and future battle plans, supply routes, manufacturing capabilities, spy networks, and more along the like.

24 hours a day and 7 days a week, the entrances were under the supervision of several platoons of armed soldiers. Nopony without a top-secret clearance could even be within a hundred meters of it, much less see it. The list of those that could see it with unrestricted access was shorter than the list of uncorrupted politicians left in Equestria. And to add, only one pony in the entirety of Equestria (princesses included) could actually write on the chalkboard.

What was the punishment for looking at or writing on the chalkboard without permission? Firing squad. No, really. Unpermitted access to the chalkboard was considered treason and was punishable by death. There would be no jury or trial, violators would instantly go to a firing squad.

In lieu of that, a piece of chalk was currently being scratched across its surface. It's owner, a lavender alicorn, moved the small stick of calcium sulfate with her pinkish-purple hued telekinetic aura. Once she had finished writing a new set of words and numbers across her chalkboard, she carefully checked it for mistakes.

"Oh Twilight!" came the voice belonging to that of an alabaster unicorn. Twilight looked up to see one of her best friends, Rarity. Held in a blue aura was a light brown coat. She instantly recognized it as the standard ground uniform (obviously only the coat portion) of the Equestrian military. Specifically, this was her own personal coat.

Grabbing it with her telekinesis, she wasted no time in putting it on (teleportation spell). "Thank you for fixing my coat, Rarity," she said while giving her friend the best smile that she could muster.

Rarity, whose attitude and demeanor seemingly hadn't been affected by the war, smiled back. "Oh, it was no problem! Anything for one of my friends!" she said back. "And I do want to protect you after all."

She looked down at the coat. "Pardon?"

Much to Twilight's surprise, Rarity grabbed a knife from her mane (there was a little sheath on her neck hidden by her mane) and stabbed her with it. Twilight's heart skipped a beat as she felt the knife impact her chest... But why didn't she feel any pain? She looked down, seeing that the coat had protected her from death's embrace. The tip of the knife had failed at going through the outer layer of the coat.

Rarity still had that same smile as earlier, despite having attempted to stab her. "Enchantments dear. You are important to me." The knife disappeared back in that purple mane. Then, Rarity touched a hoof to Twilight's coat. "That coat is now fireproof, waterproof, and stab proof. And yes darling, I did mean to use proof instead of resistant. It will also stop most lower velocity projectiles, but that only means shrapnel and certain handgun calibers or rifle rounds from extreme range." It wasn't Rarity who had done the enchantments. Her skill with magic was nowhere even close to doing such a thing. That didn't stop her from contacting some ponies that she knew.

Twilight grabbed her chest with a hoof. "Mother of Celestia, I did not think I could get a heart attack!" she exclaimed, ignoring everything that Rarity had said.

Rarity giggled in response. "Oh, but I do have a bit of bad news dear."

Twilight, still clutching her chest, asked "What?"

"Our dear friend, Dashy, has launched herself towards Baltimare," Rarity replied.

Twilight's heart skipped another beat. "WHAT?!"

And that was when Rarity's smiled finally disappeared. "It appears that Scootaloo was stationed there." Twilight stopped clutching her chest, eyes narrowing upon hearing the news. She pulled a revolver out from her coat and popped open the cylinder, checking it's load. "I don't remember putting that in there," Rarity said.

"Magic!" Twilight quickly replied before teleporting off.

Somewhere In Vanhoover

A pink earth pony sat in a chair. In front of her was the desk of the CEO of Equestria's 4th most important steel processing plant. Splayed across the desk were several pictures of the CEO in compromising positions with a pony that clearly wasn't her husband. "Let's make this a win-win situation. Equestrian Ordnance needs that steel and you want to stay married. What will it be?," Pinkie Pie said.

The CEO tried to grab the pictures and succeeded in grabbing only a few of them. "And these are the only copies?" the CEO asked.

"Yepperoni!" Pinkie replied. She then retrieved a large stack of papers from her mane. "Sign here!" The CEO begrudgingly signed the contract where she needed to. Smiling, Pinkie started skipping away.

Now that business was done, she had some time off to herself!

But, that was when a strip of paper started coming out of her rat's nest of a mane. She looked at the paper hanging from her mane, noticing the writing on it. "Baltimare under Griffon offensive? Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo involved? Twilight and Rarity soon coming? Who forgot to invite me!?"

She smiled and reached into her mane. After a solid three minutes of searching, she pulled her hoof out of her mane. "I should really clean out my mane," she said before tilting her head to the side and tapping her head with a free hoof. Following that, random things started to fall out of her mane. Yo-yo's, sticks, building blueprints, more pictures, and various pastries were among the random items that rained out. Then, a large metal tube fell out of her mane.

The tube was hollow with a rectangular metal plate covering one end, leaving the other end open. Three-quarters up the length of the mortar, a bipod was welded onto the tube. Overall, the tube wasn't that big. It was only half a meter in length and the tube was barely wide enough for her to stick a hoof down into it.

'Party Cannon Mk. II', was engraved into the side of the tube. Pinkie picked up the mortar and smiled. "Let's get this party started," she said while her smile grew tenfold.

Somewhere in Ponyville

Fluttershy was sitting on her rump in front of a hospital bed. Sleeping in the bed (with the help of very powerful painkillers), was a stallion. He was completely bound in bandages and several of his limbs were suspended in the air via slings that were attached to the ceiling. The stallion had been one of the recent casualties of this accursed war.

Fluttershy sighed. She no longer cared about where they were from or who they were. He was one of hundreds of thousands.

She looked down at herself. She was wearing a white gown and apron and a white cap. The cap and left sleeve of the uniform bore a red cross, the universal symbol of medical workers in the war. Usually, they could roam about combat zones without issue. Usually.

Another nurse entered the hospital room. She was wearing an identical nurse's outfit but wasn't wearing the cap. "Uh ma'am," the nurse called out.

"Yes?" Fluttershy responded.

"We're needed in Baltimare. They're attempting to take over the full Baltimare sector," the nurse said.

Fluttershy sighed. She held up both of her hooves in front of her face. A pair of surgical gloves and boot combination were covering them. They had been a gift from her friend, Rarity. A very useful gift, given to her towards the beginning of the war. They had been enchanted to forever stay sanitized and would mend themselves when punctured or torn.

Rarely did she take them off now. When the war ended, if it did, she would finally be able to get rid of their weight. "Go gather the other nurses and my gear," Fluttershy told the nurse.

The 5th Ground Division's Main Headquarters

As artillery raked the buildings surrounding the 5th Ground Division's field post, Applejack lit the cigar in her mouth. She was a senior NCO of the Equestrian, nothing would stop her from smoking this. Seriously, this little rolled bundle of tobacco costed her 5 bits.

That doesn't seem like much until you know that the average enlisted private made 10 bits a day. At the beginning of the war, ponies were paid at the beginning and middle of each month but ponies were dying long before they could enjoy their wages. In response to this, ponies could collect their wages daily or let it accumulate before collecting it in sum.

She took a puff from her cigar. Right now, she was going through her "ritual" before going off to fight. Nopony could tell her otherwise, not even the Equestrian Royal Army's generals themselves. She was the personal friend to the ruling heads of the country. This meant she could effectively do anything she wanted.

Another puff. Looking down at herself, she carefully went over her gear. She only ever wore the coat portion of the standard uniform of the Equestrian Army (the pants always got in the way of her bucking).

Being the first of her friends to join the Equestrian Army, Rarity had thought it was a good idea for her to have some armor. The coat's enchantment would only protect from fire, stabs, shrapnel, and small caliber rifle rounds. That was only the cloth portion of the coat. Rarity had also included armored steel plates inside of key sections of the coat, these being able to stop the lower end of rifle rounds. When she first got the coat, she was surprised to learn of the steel plates. Enchantments had been placed on the steel plates, reducing them to half their weight. They definitely cut down on the weight but they'd still hinder movement.

Like every other soldier in the Equestrian military, she wore webbed gearing to carry, well, gear. Her's was the opposite of Rainbow Dash's. Instead of wearing half the number of pouches, she wore double the number of pouches on her gear. These extra pouches allowed her to carry three times the number of grenades, her lasso, and a few apples (to be fair, it's in her name). In addition to the extra pouches, she wore several bandoliers of shotgun ammunition.

The main recipient of the shotgun ammunition was a double barrel. No, it wasn't a sawed-off. This was the full-length version. There wasn't much special about it. It was just a simple hammerless double barrel shotgun with two triggers.

Loving the idea of a shotgun so much, Applejack also carried a sawed-off version as a sidearm. It was the same model as her primary, only sawed-off. You couldn't really argue with her against this choice. Well, you could but it'd be like arguing with a brick wall (she might be a little stubborn).

But a mare of her type would have the occasional need for something that wasn't a shotgun. To remedy this, she carried a Colt Single Action Army in .45 Colt. This was her own personal revolver from home and was a family heirloom. The revolver was single action only (meaning the hammer had to be cocked back before being fired) and had to be reloaded through a side gate on the right side, the process being very slow and tedious. There was another major downside to using such an old revolver, only black powder cartridges could be used with it. This meant that a large cloud of smoke would appear when fired and that the bullets wouldn't be flying very fast (in terms of bullets).

And finally, a small mace. Gifted to her by Princess Luna, it was brutally effective to everything. Hell, it would work on enchanted armor plates too.

Another puff. "Let's get this over with."

In The Streets Of Baltimare

Rainbow Dash tried her best to make it the rest of the way to the 5th Ground Division's main operating post but she had to do this with caution. With only 4 rounds (retardedly anemic rounds at that), she wouldn't be able to defend herself if a squad of enemy soldiers discovered her.

But then she heard the sound of running hoof steps, prompting her to take immediate cover behind a partially destroyed brick wall. She cocked back the hammer of the revolver.

*CLICK*

Peeking around the corner, she saw a small dark-pink maned orange pegasus filly being chased by a grey minotaur five meters away and a black minotaur ten meters away. "Scootaloo!" she screamed out loud. She quickly ran out of cover, revolver aimed at the grey minotaur.

*BANG*

You Can Do Anything but Not Everything

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Rainbow Dash felt pain blossom in her chest. It was the unmistakable feeling of getting shot (again). Her eyes darted around in search of the shooter but a second bullet struck her chest by the time she found him. Neither bullet had succeeded in punching through her coat, though they did succeed in breaking some of the ribs in her chest.

Gasping from pain, she locked eyes with a griffon. He was fifty meters(roughly) away, on the ground, in the opposite direction of Scootaloo. Armed with a carbine, he was still aiming at her. The two of them stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity before the sound of a third gunshot sounded.

*BANG*

A bullet to the neck was definitely something that would end your career in the military and so, the griffon fell to the ground. It wasn't Rainbow who had fired the shot. Once again, she followed the sound and was surprised to discover that it was Scootaloo who had fired the shot! The little orange filly's rifle was pointing at where the griffon used to be and the barrel was clearly smoking.

The little squirt had saved her!

Now, it was her turn. Raising her revolver again, she took aim at the grey dressed minotaur. The minotaur in question would definitely be a difficult target to hit. While he was standing still, being sideways on made his profile much smaller. To add to that, using a handgun at this range would be quite the challenge.

"No!" screamed Scootaloo.

The revolver went off.

-X-X-X-

I watched as the little tyke's shot tore through the neck of a griffon. As he collapsed, my eyes came to focus on a cyan pony. The presence of this pony surprised me, to say. For one thing, he/she was wearing the most brightly colored uniform I had ever seen. There is no way a cyan uniform can blend in with anything here. And what's with the wings? They cannot be real.

But more importantly, he/she was aiming a pistol at me!

"No!" screamed Scootaloo.

And then, a bullet struck me in the upper arm (right one), followed by the sound of a gunshot (a pitiful sounding one by the way). While it barely felt like anything, it was still enough incentive to dive behind rubble for cover. Even with this much armor on, there were still a good amount of body parts exposed to fire. Looking at my arm, I found a small hole present in the arm protector's cover but I doubted the kevlar was damaged.

Logan had also decided that taking cover was a good idea while the little tyke was still standing in the open. "Is she supposed to be shooting at us?" I asked her.

"Stop shooting!" Scootaloo screamed.

"Get over here!" came a female voice where the gunshot came from. Well, at least we now know the horse is a she, not that it affects the situation in any way.

I ejected the round in my rifle and leaned it against my cover, being wary of the massive optic (unlike in video games and movies, these tend to be delicate).

"What are you doing?!" I heard Logan say.

I raised both hands out of cover and started to stand back up. Let's hope that this works.

-X-X-X-

"Get over here!" Rainbow Dash screamed. Why was Scootaloo standing there? Right now, she had every chance to escape from those two minotaurs!

Then, two gloved hands appeared out from the top of where the grey minotaur was hiding. She instantly took aim, ready to shoot again. Three rounds left. Three rounds that were also known to be useless against minotaurs...

Wait, why'd that minotaur take cover when she fired?

Minotaurs were known for being aggressive and relished the idea of this war. It was part of why this war had waged such a long time. Whenever a minotaur came under fire (except from artillery), they would shoot back right away. For them, this wasn't a war but a fun game. On another note, Scootaloo was armed so why didn't she just shoot the two of them?

When he completely stood up out of cover, her hoof tensed. Was he a minotaur? Sure, he was bipedal and had the same general shape of a minotaur but his more minor features told a different story (like the lack of fur). The most disconcerting feature was his uniform. Minotaurs didn't wear uniforms. None whatsoever. They believe that their muscular features were to be on display unless armor was being worn (usually reserved for high-ranking officers). The helmet was another good sign. Their horns made it impossible to wear a helmet (a practical one).

Then he spoke. "Holster your weapon!" he yelled.

She paused at his demand. "And why should I?" she yelled back in response but as those words left her mouth, she realized something very important. Where was the other one? The one dressed in black, where was he hiding? Her head darted around in search for him but had no success.

The whatever-he-was started grinning. "You've realized it, haven't you?"

She scowled as she holstered the revolver. He dropped his hands but they soon came back up, rifle in hand. Upon seeing the massive rifle, her hoof wandered towards her revolver. "They're on our side," Scootaloo said as the two of them started approaching her.

As the two of them closed the distance with her, she watched as the whatever-he-was load a single round into that rifle of his. "So why the hell did you shoot at me?" he demanded.

"Why the hell were you chasing the squirt?" she immediately responded.

Scootaloo groaned. "I'm not a filly anymore!" she exclaimed before she started to point (with her rifle) in the direction they were running towards. "And he wasn't chasing me! Don't you hear the gunfire coming from that direction?!"

"Oh."

Scootaloo facepalmed (hoofed?). "Wait, why didn't you shoot him with your rifle?" she asked.

"..."

"You're out of ammo, aren't you?"

"..."

"..."

"..."

"How did you survive the entirety of this war?" Scootaloo finally said. When there was no response from the cyan pegasus, she reached into her webbed gear and pulled out several en bloc clips and a couple speedloaders.

Rainbow Dash took the ammo and tried to reload her Harpy Model 6 with the three round clips but found that they weren't feeding into her rifle. "Are these the old three round clips?" Scootaloo looked at her with a deadpanned expression. "The Army was supposed to have stopped using these months ago!"

The grey dressed whatever-he-was started laughing. "You think that's how it works?" he said in between laughs. "They still have to get rid of the ones still in inventory!"

Grumbling, Rainbow Dash stripped the rounds from the clips and loaded them into her rifle one-by-one. "So where's your friend hiding?" she asked. To answer her question, she felt a light tap on her shoulder...

-X-X-X-

Applejack rooted through her gear in search of a grenade as gunfire ate away at her cover (a brick wall). "Nothin." She poked her double barrel shotgun out of cover and fired two shots blindly. Now that she thought about it, going off on her own two kilometers outside the base to hunt down enemy soldiers was not the best of plans.

Surprisingly, the gunfire stopped. "What in tarnation?" Applejack said to herself. She peeked out from behind her cover. Every griffon and minotaur that were harassing her now laid in the streets, oozing from multiple gunshot wounds.

"Are you just going to stand there?!" screamed a male voice that she definitely didn't recognize.

Turning to face the speaker, she found herself looking at a... Something. That "something" resembled a minotaur but lacked a lot of their features. What really caught her eye was the uniform it was wearing. No minotaur she'd ever met had ever worn clothing like this one did. Also, it's uniform was in the strangest color she had ever seen.

And it was armed with the strangest rifle she had ever seen. The rifle didn't have an ounce of wood on it (all rifles had wood on it, even griffon and minotaur ones) and had a very long ribbed magazine coming out of it. The rifle's buttstock was an especially strange sight for her eyes. It was hollow!

-X-X-X-

I stopped running. "Hold up!" I yelled out. The two ponies in front of me skidded (literally, not sure how they did that) to a halt.

"What?!" Rainbow Dash demanded. I looked to our left. The sound of gunfire was coming from that direction. "So what?!"

"Do those gunshots sound familiar to you?" I asked her.

"No!" she immediately replied, clearly aggravated. Then, her attitude disappeared as she realized the impact of my words. "Wait, I've never heard of a gunshot like that before!"

"But I have!" I yelled before running off in that direction. It was the sound of an AK74.

I Am a Warrior and a Member of a Team

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"You had to stare at me longer, didn't you?" he said in a condescending voice.

Applejack glared back. So what if she had stared at him for a few extra seconds? It's not like it was the direct cause of the ambush they were dealing with (though it did provide the ambushers with enough time to find them). "Just shoot!" Applejack yelled, trying to get her voice through the auditory shroud of gunshots. A hole appeared in their cover (a brick wall) right beside her head, followed by a loud thunderous gunshot. "Fuck!" she cried as pulverized masonry showered her head. "Luna damned manticore rifles!"

"Manticore rifles?" her new ally said, puzzled at the mention of such an item. He kneeled down and poked his body out of cover (only slightly), firing his rifle at the general direction of their ambushers. "Bound up!"

Applejack stared at him. "What?"

Growling, he brought the entirety of his body back into the safety of cover. "Move up to a different piece of cover when I start firing!" he commanded.

She hated how she was being treated like she was wet behind the ears, but she needed the help. When her ally started firing out of cover (again), she sprinted out from the safety of the brick wall and to a pile of rubble. It was only ten meters, but it gave her an entirely different perspective on her attackers.

There were six of them total, two were minotaurs and the rest were griffons. All but one were armed with various bolt action rifles (pretty standard). The sixth, a minotaur, was armed with a manticore rifle. A manticore rifle (if you haven't guessed it by now) was a rifle designed for taking out manticores. They were typically double barrel rifles chambered in a round much larger than the ones used in normal military rifles.

The covering fire her ally provided had obscured the knowledge of her new position. Here, all six of them were exposed even when they were taking cover. Smiling, Applejack unloaded her shotgun and leaned it against the pile of rubble (her cover). Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes.

A single heartbeat later, her eyes shot open and she drew her Colt Single Action Army. In the time span of a second and a half, she fanned the hammer and emptied the six round cylinder of her Colt Single Action Army. Albeit hip firing, she hadn't missed a single shot.

Naturally, all four griffons succumbed to their gunshots. The minotaurs, on the other hand, barely flinched. "Oh shit" she deadpanned. Diving to cover, she barely made it as both minotaurs open fired. Heart racing, Applejack grabbed her double barrel shotgun and loaded a fresh pair of shells into it.

A stick grenade landed in front of her.

She stared at it for a second before jumping over the pile of rubble that she was hiding behind. Climbing back up to her hooves, she felt a bullet slam into her barrel. One of the steel plates inside her coat stopped the bullet but the impact knocked her to the ground.

"Get to cover!" screamed her ally. He brought up his rifle and pulled the trigger.

*CLICK*

"Well fuck!" he exclaimed. He let the rifle drop flat against his chest before immediately drawing and firing a revolver. The one with the manticore rifle took the round to the chest but barely reacted to the impact. "Fucking die already!" he yelled while firing three more rounds.

Applejack immediately ran back behind the same pile of rubble. She hadn't noticed it earlier but both minotaurs were wearing armor. While they didn't wear helmets, some (usually officers) wore breastplates that protected their torsos. These were capable of stopping most rifle rounds. Both minotaurs started advancing towards her position, ignoring the clouds of buckshot that Applejack had sent towards them.

Her ally fired four more times from his revolver before he ducked down into the safety of his cover. "Fuck me," Applejack said as she exposed the breech of her boomstick. While reloading, two thunderous gunshots washed through her ears. Both were absolutely the single loudest gunshots she had ever heard, louder than the report of a manticore rifle!

She poked out from behind her cover, shotgun ready. "What in Tartarus?" Both minotaurs were dead, lying face first on the ground. From here, she could see two massive holes in their upper backs. A bullet, a big one at that, had punched right through their armor.

Standing behind both of the bodies was another member of whatever species her new ally was. This one was much taller and wore a similar uniform, only his was grey. Oh, and he was armed with an absolute artillery piece of a sidearm. Even from this far away, the revolver's bore diameter was apparent. She thought her .45 caliber Colt Single Action Army was a large caliber handgun but that thing? Well, her sidearm felt incontinent now.

Her new ally was surprised at the sight of his presence. "Tran?!" he exclaimed.

-X-X-X-

I lowered my revolver. "Eric?!" I exclaimed. Eric was my friend, someone that I had met in the Army. Unlike me, he was wearing the OCP version of the Army Combat Uniform (ACU) and his wasn't a flight crew uniform.

He was also not wearing the Improved Outer Tactical Vest (IOTV) body armor, instead wearing the Soldier Plate Carrier System (SPCS). The SPCS was a much lighter alternative to the IOTV because it had a lot less features than the IOTV. The SPCS had no arm/deltoid protectors, groin protector, lower back protector, any kevlar whatsoever, and throat/neck protector. His SPCS had the front and back plate but appeared to be lacking the sideplates. The SPCS was 10 pounds lighter than the IOTV and much easier to move in. If you don't think 10 pounds is much of a difference, you've clearly never done a road march beyond 15 miles.

There was a rifle slung across his chest, most likely a variant of an AKs74 (well there's the source of those gunshots). It looked rather bare as there were no extra attachments on it, other than the polymer furniture and the skeleton side folding stock.

"Is that an AK74?" I asked him.

He holstered his revolver and grabbed it, swapping the current magazine. He chambered a round into the rifle and held it up. "Yeah. Funny thing, it's-"

"Your own personal one from home?" I said, cutting him off.

He gave me a questioning look but then noticed my hand cannon. "You too?" He let the AK fall flat against his chest before drawing a revolver. Both of us dropped the cylinder to our S&W revolvers and replaced the spent rounds. "Got that Smith and Weston R8 like I said."

"Wesson," I corrected. "Smith and Wesson."

"Tomayto, tomahto," he responded. He glanced at my revolver. "Is that the 500?" I smiled and nodded. "Jesus! What are you doing with that?!" I held it up to my eyes and shrugged. "So what else do you have?" I turned slightly to reveal the sniper rifle on my back. ".338 Lapua Mag?"

"Yep."

He holstered his revolver and took hold of his AK. "Okay."

I heard the sound of heavy footsteps approaching. I immediately pointed my revolver at the source. When I saw the orange pony (a stetson, really?), I lowered my handgun. "Hello."

"Hello," the orange pony replied. "Why in Celestia's name do you have that cannon for?!"

If We Don't End War, War Will End Us

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Applejack patted the ammo pouches of her webbed gear. "Look, ah don't got much ammo left," she said before drawing her Peacemaker. Applejack opened up the loading gate of her revolver and gave the cylinder a spin, checking each of chambers.

Rainbow Dash sighed. "I'm in the same boat as you," she said. "We're gonna have to head back to Fort Platinum." She looked at Tran and the two other humans. "The three of you shouldn't follow us."

Scootaloo gasped. "What? They've been helping us this whole time!" she protested.

Tran snorted. "Your little blue friend here shot me, thinking I was one of the enemy. It's not a good idea," he explained.

Scootaloo looked up at the person who had saved her earlier today. "So what will the three of you do now?" she asked.

Tran and Eric exchanged looks while Logan started chuckling. "We're making this shit up as we go along," Logan said.

Tran nodded in agreement while Eric facepalmed. "We'll think of something," Tran said.

And so, the three humans left.

-X-X-X-

All three of us hid in a destroyed apartment building. While it was moderately unsecured, it would have to do for now.

Eric sat down and took off his helmet. A second later, his rifle was on the ground. "So, plan of action?" Eric asked.

Logan scoffed. "What can we do? There's only three of us and I've never served," said Logan. To emphasize the point, he grabbed his hoodie/jacket with a free hand.

I placed my rifle on the ground, unfolding the bipod to do so. "And we aren't exactly set with the best equipment for war," I said while drawing my S&W 500.

Eric pulled the magazines out of his carrier's pouches. "Let's start with how much ammo we're carrying, not already loaded."

"Little bit under 60 rounds for the .338 and a little over 30 for the revolver" I replied.

"5 thirty rounders for the AK and 40 more rounds for the R8," Eric said while drawing his S&W R8.

"100 rounds for the Mosin and 3 mags for the pistol," Logan said.

Eric adopted a puzzled expression. "Pistol?" Eric asked. In response, Logan drew his pistol and held it out for him. ".45?" Logan nodded in response. Eric holstered his revolver and took the tan pistol. "An FNX 45. Not bad." Not bad indeed. Who else can argue with a pistol that holds 15 rounds of .45 ACP? Hell, it's not even stupidly large like most other double stacked .45 pistols. Eric handed the pistol back.

I pulled out one of the grenades from my vest. "I also got a pair of these."

Eric stared at the grenade in my hand. "So we don't have much to work with, eh?" He was right. We were just three people with less than 500 rounds of ammunition between us.

A voice that didn't belong to any of the three of us cut through the air. "Maybe you need some help." All three of us had our sidearms aimed at the source in a heartbeat. Standing there, at the gunpoint of three spooked humans, was Scootaloo. As expected, she jumped at the sight of the guns. "Whoa! Take it easy."

Eric groaned as he lowered my revolver. "Why the hell are you sneaking up on people in a war zone?!" Eric yelled.

A smile grew on my face. "I see that you're still acting like a stray cat," I immediately said. Scootaloo, who was starting to get tired of this shit, adopted a frown once again. "So why did you follow us?"

Scootaloo walked into the room and sat down with us. "I thought the three of you could use the help," she replied.

Eric looked up and down at Scootaloo's small frame. "How old is the minimum enlistment age?" he asked.

Scootaloo, upon hearing the question, started to shift around. "Sixteen," she replied.

Eric folded his arms across his chest. "And how old are you?" he immediately asked.

Scootaloo blinked a few times upon hearing the question before replying with, "Sixteen." Eric raised an eyebrow. "Fourteen, but I can still shoot a rifle!"

I looked at the rifle that she had slung over her back. It was definitely small, especially when compared to Logan's Mosin (comparing it to my rifle would have been absurd). However, it seemed large in her hands (hooves?). The revolver she had scavenged was definitely too large for her to comfortably use (even though it uses an anemically small round). "Yeah and that's pretty much the only thing that you can do," I said.

She scowled at me. "What's that supposed to mean?!" she demanded.

I chuckled at her anger. "Are you gonna carry me to safety if I get shot or take shrapnel in my legs?" I asked her. I knocked on the ceramic plate in my IOTV. "Because I have nothing but cloth covering my legs."

Her scowl disappeared. "N-no," she stammered out.

I scoffed. "So what are you going to do after you run out of ammo? Being a soldier isn't only about shooting a rifle." The circumstances to how we met definitely come to mind.

She looked dead into my eyes and said, "So what?" She took the rifle off of her back and set it down on her lap. "I'll think of something."

I groaned upon hearing her say that. Well, at least there's four of us now.

-X-X-X-

Rainbow Dash filled the cyan pouches of her webbed gear with much-needed ammo. For Rainbow Dash, it wasn't a long process. Her customized webbed gear, light and composed of only a few pouches, made resupplies fast.

But Rainbow Dash would still have to wait for Applejack to finish resupplying herself. "Come on, let's go" Rainbow Dash said. She flared out her wings in irritation, only to fold them back up against her body. Something inside of her was radiating with pain. No doubt it had relation to getting shot, twice.

Applejack paused and glared at her. "I'll slow down if yah need me to, sugar cube," Applejack angrily said.

Rainbow Dash groaned. "Uuuggghhh."

A high-pitched voice cut through the air, clashing heavily with the current attitude of the room. "Hiya, Dashie!" Rainbow Dash found herself lifted into the air and hugged to death by a pink pony.

Rainbow Dash felt pain flare up in her chest again. This time, it was a hundred times worse and a scream of anguish left her mouth. Pinkie Pie, surprised, immediately dropped her. Almost immediately afterward, a loud but still very soft voice chastised her. "Pinkie!"

Fluttershy shot over to Rainbow Dash's side and immediately started to strip the cyan uniform off of her. "You've been shot, twice!" Fluttershy said upon finding two massive bruises and impact patterns. Fluttershy's yellow hooves gently touched one of the bruises causing a gasp to exit Rainbow's mouth.

Rainbow Dash slapped away Fluttershy's hoof. "It's nothing," said Rainbow. Fluttershy gave Rainbow a motherly look, the disappointed kind that could melt steel beams. "Okay, I'm a little hurt."

The disappointed look grew stronger. "You're going to the infirmary!" Fluttershy said while keeping up with the disappointed look. Before Rainbow Dash could protest, a sedative had thoroughly removed any ability to resist.

Applejack chuckled as Rainbow was carried away by two nurses with a stretcher (where those two came from, we may never know). Applejack turned to look at Pinkie Pie who was also chuckling. "So let's go find Scootaloo!" Pinkie Pie cheered.

Still chuckling, Applejack said, "Oh we already found her!"

Pinkie Pie gasped. "Where?!"

Applejack then realized that only the two of them were present. "Motherfucker."

Pinkie Pie graduated from chuckling to laughing. "Looks like she gave you the slip!" Applejack frowned at Pinkie Pie's amusement. Eventually, Pinkie Pie's laughter started to die down. It continued to slow down until tears were the only thing that remained.

But then, the tears kept on coming. Applejack's frown disappeared when she realized that her beloved pink party pony friend was crying for real. "We're using child soldiers, Applejack! We're using them and we're okay with it!" Pinkie said between sobs. Applejack wrapped her hooves around Pinkie Pie and pulled her in close. "This war needs to end."

-X-X-X-

Outside, the artillery assaulting Fort Platinum stopped. That only meant one thing, an immediate assault directly from the front.

Twilight knew this and she was already filled with a sense of dread. No matter the result, there was one absolute truth. For both sides, the casualty list would grow. The only thing that could treat the sense of dread was to try to limit how many Equestria's casualty list would grow and even then, it wouldn't do much.

Rarity knew exactly what Twilight was thinking about. She lifted a hoof and started patting her back. "It'll be alright, darling. Whatever you do, we know that you're acting with the best intentions."

Twilight sighed before hanging her head. Using her magic, she floated a piece of paper in front of Rarity's eyes. After a quick read, Rarity's eyes widened. Rarity's own blue magic surrounded the paper as she read it over and over. "Dear, please tell me the 'and' is meant to be an 'or' in the last sentence."

Twilight shook her head.

Rarity took the paper in her hooves. After a few seconds, she finally said, "Well, this is seems to be a rather unfortunate turn of events." Rarity looked at the paper once more, hoping that she had misread it. "An aerial Jaegar AND a war chief were spotted?" Rarity asked, hoping that she was wrong.

Twilight nodded again.

The Griffon Empire's air force was known for having the most powerful air force (hard to compete with a nation where literally everyone can fly). Most griffon aerial combat fighters were on par with Equestria's dogfighters. Unfortunately, they also had the numbers to dominate most aerial battles.

Experienced griffon aerial combat fighters were known as hunters. Most were simply griffons who were lucky enough to have survived more than a month.

Then, there were the ace hunters. Ace hunters were the aerial combat fighters and they actually knew what they were doing. The reason they survived was skill. The average ace hunter had at least six months of aerial combat experience.

Then, there were the Jaegars. Jaegers were the cream of the crop, the best of the best, and the ones that everyone feared. Each Jaegar had survived the war from start to present, a couple having been aerial combat fighters before the war had started. Out of the entire Griffon Empire, only 17 Jaegars had been identified. They were pretty easy to spot since they wore a red scarf that fluttered when they flew around. No griffon else wore those red scarves

How dangerous are they? One Jaegar was once solo-scouting the Wonderbolts Dogfighting Academy. Since he was deep in Equestrian territory, he was spotted quickly afterwards and three Equestrian dogfighters were dispatched. In the ensuing dogfight, the Jaegar dominated and got away with intel that compromised the Wonderbolts' dogfighting training process.

Who were the three Equestrian dogfighters that were dispatched against that one Jaegar? No one important, just Spitfire, Soarin, and Fleetfoot.

Wait, those three are important. They were three of the top Wonderbolts and dogfighters in the Equestrian air force!

One Jaegar. One lone Jaegar had defeated three of Equestria's best dogfighters in combat.

This defeat was the first time Spitfire had been knocked out of the sky and was the first time she was crippled in the war. It eventually led to the end of her dogfighting career.

Soarin's involvement in the dogfight also led to the end of his dogfighting career. Like Spitfire, he was also crippled but he lost more than his ability to fly fast. His right wing and left arm had to be amputated. The left arm was now just a stub that started at the elbow while the right wing was completely removed.

Fleetfoot's dogfighting career was also finished but she didn't have to worry about being crippled. Currently, she is one of the most famous war heroes of the Equestrian military. Fans who visit love often bring her gifts, like flowers. She can't really do anything with the gifts, they just pile up around her grave.

War chiefs were minotaurs and they were just as dangerous as Jaegars. Before this conflict started, a war chief was a minotaur who led a group of other minotaurs to hunt down various/random monsters. Examples include manticores, hydras, or dragons. In a few rare examples, they would hunt down these monsters by themselves. Now, they fight ponies in a war. Whether it was for fame or fortune, they were to be treated as a very large threat.

They were typically armed with the same equipment that they used when hunting monsters. Their rifles were usually chambered in a large caliber and the actual users themselves were pretty good shots. They were also pretty hard to kill, armor was something they definitely believed in and it was very good armor. While it was an outdated armor design (basic plate armor), it could easily stop the slash or bite from a manticore.

War chiefs were accompanied by the same group of manticores that they hunted monsters with. Their party members were similarly equipped, but they were nowhere as capable.

On his/her own, a war was as capable as a full platoon of troops. A war chief WITH their hunting party (6-20 members) was as dangerous as an entire company of troops. From previous observations, the war party almost always surrendered once their leader was killed, no matter the number of members left in the party.

Unlike Jaegars, war chiefs were more plentiful. At least a hundred distinct war chiefs (and their accompanying parties) had been identified. Each one had their own armor design with the leader wearing a fancier version.

Rarity blinked. Her mouth opened and she uttered a single word. "Fuck."

-X-X-X-

A singular griffon hovered high in the air, watching his fellow brethren assault the Equestrian's beloved fort. This war had lasted a lot longer than it should have. In the two years that he had served, he had personally witnessed the death of thousands of his brothers in arms.

He placed his clawed hand on his red scarf. This war had lasted long enough. No longer did he care about which side would win, only when the war would end.

Two years.

Two years, he had been chasing down pegasi dogfighters and systematically murdering them. Those young faces of those he defeated, he would remember forever. Two years, he wore his coat. Magically enchanted and bullet resistant, the coat protected him. Two years, his rifle and pistol had been barking fire. The loud call for death, always hungry for more victims.

It needs to end.

-X-X-X-

Life was good.

Fort Platinum was being assaulted and his brothers were with him. These ponies had definitely proven themselves to be a challenge, providing a very good hunt. Just how many of them would he get today?

His brothers were ready for battle.

Twelve brothers, he would entrust them with anything. Twelve brothers, clad in armor immune to any puny pony gun. Twelve brothers, armed with weapons good enough to kill manticores. Twelve brothers, ready to die.

The Raider clan will prevail.

The hunt begins.

-X-X-X-

Another battle, another glorious adventure...

Two years ago, he wouldn't have doubted that. Two years ago and his hunting party would also still be alive. When the last member of his party died two months ago and left him alone, it was then that he knew that it was time for him to finally leave this war. Of course, it ain't always that easy.

If he were to quit now and return home, he'd be branded a coward and the deaths of his friends would be blamed on him. If he wanted to leave this war, he'd have to be wounded.

That'll never happen. The only unprotected areas on him are his arms, legs, and face. Can't get shot in the face (if I have to explain why, how you survived this long is the more important question). If he gets hit in the arm or leg, no one will bat an eye. Why not the torso? His armor was too protective. Nothing the ponies were armed with can punch through it.

What's it take for him to go home?

He wanted to finally hang up his armor!

He wanted to pay homage to my fallen comrades!

He wanted to rest!

-X-X-X-

Logan aimed out a window and carefully surveyed the streets of this strange city through the lens of his Mosin Nagant's small optical scope. The PU scope was only a 3.5x optical zoom, but it was a million times better than using simple iron sights (no offense Simo Hayha). Now, it was time to pick out a target.

The twelfth floor of a building was definitely a good vantage point. It was high enough to give him full view of the griffons' and minotaurs' assault on the ponies' fort. A bird's eye view as they say.

Logan wasn't alone. Eric had decided to pair up with the fool and act as his spotter. Turns out, Eric had a pair of binoculars.

"I think we've got something" Eric said.

Logan gave an aside glance at Eric but didn't remove his cheek from it's weld to the buttstock of his rifle. "Where?"

"One up in the air, four away, long coat and red scarf" Eric replied.

Logan found the target. "Eyes on us?"

Eric's darted his eyes around the field in search for anyone. "Nope."

Logan pulled the trigger.

*BANG*

-X-X-X-

I felt something impact my chest. A rifle round judging from how hard the impact was.

My eyes scanned the general area of where it came from just as the sound of the gunshot filled my ears. Easily four hundred yards judging from how long it took the sound of the gunshot took to travel to my ears.

Where?

-X-X-X-

Logan just took his shot. My turn.

Scootaloo and I had chosen a different building from the building that Logan and Eric was posted in and we were on the fourteenth floor. It wasn't too far away from Logan and Eric's building in case we had to meet up again.

Scootaloo didn't have any form of optical device (Eric you lucky bastard) but since she was native to this country, but she could help me identify targets. Scootaloo gasped. "Down in the streets!"

I aimed my rifle down at the streets and saw nothing. "Where?" I asked, still looking through the scope of my rifle.

"Down there, like four blocks away!" Scootaloo answered.

I wanted to facepalm so bad. "Give me a distance."

"I don't know, three hundred meters?" Scootaloo finally said.

There, in the street, was a group of minotaurs. There was thirteen of them in total and every single one of them was covered in very shiny, heavily decorated plate armor. One of them, of the thirteen, had a set of armor that was gilded with gold (Well that's one way to stand out).

"It's a war chief!" Scootaloo said. "Take out their leader!"

"Anyone looking in our direction?" I asked.

"No, just shoot him already!" Scootaloo impatiently said.

I placed the reticle of my scope on their leader's chest. Maybe he should have worn something that was more inconspicuous.

*BANG*

Enemy Soldiers Are Not Always Acting with Evil Intentions

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I am the leader of the Raiders. Unlike the other war chief, my clan has actually survived. Maybe he should have chosen better brethren.

These ponies, how have they lasted two years? I have fought in eight battles against them and we've only traded three of our brethren for a couple hundred of theirs. Their heroic sacrifices will be celebrated!

Then, something struck me on my chest armor. I started laughing as the gunshot was finally heard. Nothing those ponies were armed with could even hope to mar my armor. "Fellow brethren, their attempts to kill me are worthless!" I said while raising my rifle high in the air. All of my brethren, instead of joining me in my jeers, just stared at me. "Brothers?" Why were they staring at me?

"Your chest," one of them said.

What? I looked down at my remarkable armor. There it was. Right there, on the center of my chest, was a hole in my armor. Is that my blood coming out that hole?

I touched a finger to the blood. Yes, it was my blood. I stared at the blood staining my fingers before finally realizing what this meant.

I felt gravity take over as darkness filled my mind.

-X-X-X-

I ejected the spent round of my rifle before manually inserting a new round into the chamber and closing the bolt. Why couldn't I have gotten something other than a single shot rifle?

-X-X-X-

Right there! There he was, the one who shot me! He's in the right general direction and four hundred meters away.

I straightened my wings and dove.

-X-X-X-

I folded up the bipod on my rifle. "Let's go" I said, looking at Scootaloo.

She started screaming while pointing a hoof at past me. I turned around and found the reason why she was screaming. Diving towards us, was a very large griffon wearing a red scarf.

Sighing, I unfolded the bipod on my rifle and gently placed it on the ground. Right as I took up my revolver in my left hand, the griffon tackled me.

Ground fighting, not the best way to fight. Even worse, he was on top of me. Immediately, he raised his claws and stabbed them down at my chest. When they clunked against the ESAPI plate in my vest, I threw my right hand up in an attempt to punch him in the chin. When it landed, he recoiled back in pain.

I brought up my left hand, trying to get my revolver on him. Unfortunately, he recovered in time and grabbed the barrel of my revolver right before it was pointed at his face.

Six quiet gunshots reverberated throughout the room as Scootaloo emptied the cylinder of her Model 92 revolver. Unfortunately, whatever 8mm rounds that landed did absolutely nothing (retardedly anemic indeed). In fact, it looked like he hadn't even noticed getting shot.

I continued my attempts to aim my revolver at his face but he was moving it further and further away. Then, I remember something very important about revolvers.

Smiling, I pulled the trigger even though it was aimed completely away from his head.

Now there is one very special thing about revolvers that make it very dangerous to have your hand past the cylinder when one fires. What's this reason? The cylinder gap! What's the cylinder gap? On a revolver, there is a very small gap between the cylinder and the barrel of the revolver. This small gap expels out an enormous amount of expanding gas when a round is fired. The amount of gas expelled varies between revolvers (but this is a .500 S&W Model 500 we're talking about so I'd say there's a lot). What does this mean?

My opponent screamed as several of his talons were ripped free from his hands. Once again, I punched him in the chin before finally throwing him off of me.

The griffon stood back up and started to charge me but I quickly lined up a shot and fired. He squawked as he took a .500 S&W magnum round to the gut. Surprisingly, he just stood there.

Then he sat down, my finger tense around my revolver's trigger. Despite bleeding to death, he smiled. "No need for that anymore," he said. I kept my revolver trained on him. "Here I was, hoping that I'd see the end of this horrible conflict." Strangely enough, he just started laughing. After he had his laugh, he took off his red scarf.

Scootaloo gasped. "You're a Jaegar!"

He chuckled. "Not anymore, eh?" he said. He held up the scarf to me. "I want you to have this." I didn't budge. He sighed before tossing the red scarf, to which I caught in my right hand.

I took a short glance at the scarf. It was a deep red color and looked like it was made of cotton. Even though the red color was still nice and clean, it was clearly well worn. "Thank you for removing this burden," he said.

By now, his breathing started to grow heavier. "Just one last question," he said. I raised an eyebrow. "Why do you have such a cannon for a sidearm?"

I blinked. "Why not?" I asked back.

He shrugged. "At least it's some form of an answer" he replied before his head dropped down. Shortly afterwards, his chest stopped moving and his body fell forward. I waited a few seconds before lowering my revolver.

Scootaloo moved closer to the griffon's body and poked it with a free hoof. "You actually killed a Jaegar," she said.

I holstered my revolver and looked at the red scarf. "What's a Jaegar?" I asked her.

And then I suddenly found a tiny orange horse in my vision. "You don't know what a Jaegar is?!" she exclaimed. I raised an eyebrow again. "They're the best air to air fighters that the griffons have! How do you not know what a Jaegar is?!"

I shrugged and looked back at the scarf. I didn't want to wear it around my neck so I tied it down to the left side of my belt beside my S&W Model 500. It didn't hang too low (the scarf barely reached my knee) so hopefully, it wouldn't get in the way of anything. "Let's go."

-X-X-X-

Logan watched as the griffon that he had just shot dove towards Tran's position. "Well shit," Logan said.

Eric, with his binoculars, was watching the same griffon. "Shoot him again," Eric said.

But it was too late. The griffon had crashed through the window and tackled Tran. Both of them disappeared from view. A very tense moment later, Tran reappeared in the window. "Looks like I don't need to," Logan said.

Elsewhere

Both Applejack and Pinkie Pie sat behind a brick wall. No, they weren't getting shot at and taking cover in response. They were just simply sitting behind a brick wall. Suddenly, Pinkie Pie's dropped her party cannon (mortar) and jumped into the air as her body shook all over. "We've got a doozy!" Pinkie Pie yelled.

Applejack's face blanched. "Ah hate those. Yah never know if they're good or bad," Applejack said.

Pinkie Pie picked up her party cannon and giggled. "We'll find out later!" Pinkie said before she stuck her hoof into her mane and pulled out a bag of beef jerky.

Applejack's stomach churned at the sight of the beef jerky. "Is that what ah think it is?," she asked. Beef was incredibly rare (cows were an intelligent species). This made beef jerky the griffon version of caviar.

That was when several hundred griffons landed in front of the two of them. If Applejack's face was any paler, she could have convinced somepony that she had white fur.

One of the griffons, an officer judging from his uniform, stepped up to the two of them. "We're surrendering," the griffon said.

Applejack turned and look at Pinkie Pie. "Ah guess it's the good kind of doozy."

"That wasn't it."

-X-X-X-

Rarity, with a pair of binoculars, watched as a massive formation of griffons approached Fort Platinum on foot. There were two things about the formation that really puzzled her. For one thing, they were walking. Griffons hated walking in formation, flying was faster.

The more important detail regarding the formation was that her two dear friends, Pinkie Pie and Applejack, were leading the formation.

"What a rather peculiar sight."

-X-X-X-

Twilight and Rarity stared at the formation that Pinkie Pie and Applejack brought. "All of you are surrendering?," Twilight asked. The same officer from earlier nodded.

This early into the offensive and this many of them are surrendering? That was unheard of! "May I ask why?" Rarity asked, hoping to satiate her curiosity.

The officer sighed. "I'm assuming that your scouts have spotted our three special service soldiers?" the officer asked.

Rarity remembered the report that Twilight had given her. Even though it was confidential information, half the base had already found out about it. "The two war chiefs and the Jaegar?" Rarity responded.

Applejack's eyes widened upon hearing what Rarity had said. "There are what?!" she exclaimed.

The griffon officer nodded. "There were two war chiefs and a Jaegar," the officer explained.

Twilight's ear twitched upon hearing him. "Were?" she asked.

The griffon officer once again nodded. "One of the war chiefs was shot through the chest, the bullet completely ignoring his armor. The Jaegar was found dead from a gunshot wound that went straight through his flight coat. His scarf was missing," explained the officer. "The other war chief is missing."

Applejack nearly dropped her shotgun. "All three of them are dead or missing?," Applejack asked.

Twilight could have died happy then and there. This was the best news possible! Twilight looked at her friend Rarity and smiled. "Looks like we won't lose that many ponies after all!" Rarity smiled at Twilight's happiness.

Applejack looked at Twilight and then back to the griffon officer. "How long do yah think 'fore everypony else finds out about this?" Applejack asked.

Rarity looked at her friends and realized something important. "Well that depends, dear. How long ago did Pinkie disappear?" Rarity asked.

-X-X-X-

Logan ducked down into concealment (there is a difference between cover and concealment) and worked the bolt on his Mosin Nagant. He and Tran had been taking turns taking pot shots. Their targets had been soldiers that appeared to be important. Anyone whose appearance was different from the others were shot, especially those that had an obvious and ostentatious accessory or uniform item.

It was only a coincidence that they had shot a Jaegar and war chief. Lucky for Equestria, huh?

Logan heard the familiar boom of Tran's .338 Lapua. Standing out of concealment, he took aim again. When a bullet whizzed over his head, he ducked back down. "Time to move," Logan said.

Eric, who was at a different window, quickly moved away from his window. They hadn't noticed him yet but waiting for that to happen wasn't necessarily the smartest of ideas. He tucked his binoculars into a small pouch and brought his AK74 to bear.

-X-X-X-

Five hundred eighty-three. That was how many griffons had surrendered. Before, the highest number of enemy soldiers to have surrendered all at once was a little over two hundred. It was barely noon and an entire battalion's worth of soldiers had surrendered.

Twilight sat at her desk and filled out the paperwork (the bane of literally everything's and everyone's existence) to allow someone else to fill out the paperwork (more proof of why paperwork is so horrible) for the paperwork (yep) for the prisoners. As she dipped her quill into an inkwell, she contemplated shooting herself. While she was slightly depressed, it was more because of all of the paperwork that she still had left.

Rarity trotted into the room and dropped off more paperwork, forcing a groan from Twilight. Inside her thoughts, Twilight was fighting a mental battle over the option of setting fire to everything. Rarity suppressed a giggle and sat down on a stack of paperwork. "Perhaps we should hire or appoint somepony to a position solely for filling out paperwork," Rarity said.

Twilight slammed her face down on the current form she was working on. "I don't think I could ever sentence somepony to that type of Tartarus," Twilight said in response to Rarity's idea.

Rarity looked at the stacks of paperwork that Twilight still hadn't finished. "Oh, but I'm sure somepony somewhere has a cutie mark for that," Rarity said. "Anyways, a large section of enemy forces are advancing upon a pair of buildings two kilometers east of us."

Twilight, head still slammed down into a paper form, asked, "Who and what are posted in these buildings?"

"Nopony knows," Rarity answered.

Twilight lifted her head from her desk. "What are the scouts telling us about the building?"

Rarity brought a piece of paper out of the stack of paper she dropped off and read it aloud. "Two companies worth of soldiers currently assaulting two buildings two kilos east of home post. Possible enemy reinforcements. One friendly personnel spotted, unidentified EA soldier with arms. No known assets in buildings. Three unidentified soldiers spotted. Species, unknown. Weapons, rifles. Equipment, unknown."

Rarity set the paper down on Twilight's desk, who had decided to read the report herself. "Send a mortar team there. Have them shell whatever they're sending to attack the building. Make sure they avoid those three unidentified soldiers."

Rarity nodded and walked away.

War Is Delightful for Those Who Haven't Experienced It

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Eric drew back the charging handle of his AK and looked inside the chamber. A brass cased 5.45 round sat there, prepared to send its deadly payload. Eric released the charging handle and reseated the round back in the chamber. He then removed a small knife from his belt and affixed it to the muzzle of his rifle.

Logan looked at the bayonet. "You think you'll actually use that?" Logan asked. Eric shrugged. Logan slung his Mosin Nagant over his back and drew his pistol.

Both of them looked at the closed door in front of them. Earlier, it was made clear that the griffons and minotaurs knew of their position. They had only gone halfway down through the building before they hid in another room.

"So you think they've started flooding into this building?" Logan asked.

The door opened, a stick grenade was tossed in, and then the door closed.

Eric looked at the grenade at his feet and said, "Yes." He picked up the grenade and tossed it out a nearby window before firing at the door with his AK74.

After expending half his magazine, Eric ran forward and kicked the door down. Three griffons and a minotaur were very surprised. The minotaur was more surprised than everyone else as he found the bayonet of an AK74 impaled in his neck.

Logan quickly brought up his pistol and fired. Three rounds of .45 ACP to the chest was enough incentive for one griffon to lie down and never get up. A second griffon decided to give up when he took a few .45 rounds to the chest, just like his comrade.

The last griffon wanted to fire his weapon but found the barrel of a .357 revolver pointed at his face. A split second later, the revolver went off and he too joined the other three On a trip to the afterlife.

"Well that was eventful," Logan said.

Eric withdrew his bayonet from the minotaur's neck and examined the body. He reached down and started to dig through the body's webbing gear. Of the items on the minotaur's body, Eric removed a bread bag filled with stick grenades and a large revolver with some stray rounds.

Logan noticed the sack of grenades. "How many did you find?" Logan asked.

Eric simply ignored Logan and walked over to the nearest stairwell. He then pulled the pin to one of the grenades in the bread bag and tossed the entire sack down the stairwell.

-X-X-X-

At the bottom of the stairwell, a team of minotaurs was preparing to ascend the stairs. They heard several gunshots, all of which sounded unfamiliar.

One of the minotaurs, the OIC (Officer In Charge) of the group withdrew a revolver. "Team one has failed, prepare to move!" the minotaur commanded. The mechanical clicking sound of multiple firearms sounded as every single minotaur checked their weapons.

*THUNK*

Every minotaur looked at the bread bag.

-X-X-X-

Scootaloo clutched her ears upon hearing the explosion, nearly dropping her Model 92 in the process. "What was that?!" she said.

I shrugged. I drew my .500 S&W and shifted the sniper rifle on my back. "Ready to go?" I asked her.

*CLICK*

"I'd drop those revolvers if I were you," came a voice from behind me. I gritted my teeth as I dropped my S&W 500. A second later, I heard the clatter of Scootaloo's Model 92 dropping to the ground. "Now step away."

As the two of us walked away from our sidearms, I silently removed one of my grenades. "Now turn around," he said. When we turned around, I hid the grenade by wrapping my hand completely around it.

There was no surprise when I came to face a minotaur.

Now every minotaur I've seen so far (which wasn't much) was huge. Him? He made them looked small. At two and a half meters tall, I felt short. And, those muscles! The muscles he sported were sporting their own muscles! How did he fit through the doorways in this tiny building?!

Aside from that, everything about him was also different when compared to every other minotaur I've seen so far. Every minotaur I've seen so far had some form of dark blue fur and sported a massive set of sharpened horns. He sported a snow white coat and he had no horns. Strangely enough, he also had no rifle, shotgun, or other forms of primary weapon.

He was wearing a large brown cloak with the front open, showing off the gear that he adorned. On his chest, he wore a very scarred and worn steel breastplate (he probably carried it through hell and back). Strapped to the breastplate were several leather pouches, various grenades, a warhammer (yes, a warhammer like the one in the old medieval days), and a pistol holster.

The pistol holster, currently empty, was probably the home to the revolver that he was currently brandishing. The revolver, like him, was gigantic. It was probably longer than my forearm (hand included) and looked as bulky as my .500 S&W. Like his armor, it looked worn (even more so than his armor).

Everything about it was nothing like a modern revolver. In the space where the ejector/underlug would have been, a loading lever took its place. The cylinder was unfluted and the barrel was held to the frame with a massive wedge. Then, there was the trigger guard. It was made of brass.

It was a percussion cap and ball revolver, a massive one at that. One that was currently pointed at my chest, hammer cocked back.

He raised an eyebrow at me. "I've never seen anything along the likes of you before," said the minotaur. I stuck my thumb in the grenade's safety pin and started to work the pin out. "Do you know what I am?"

I shrugged. "Can't say I do," I replied.

"He's a war chief," Scootaloo answered.

The war chief frowned upon hearing that. "Not anymore," the minotaur said with a sigh. "My party is dead. The last of my brethren gone two moons past." He lowered his revolver and gently eased the hammer down. "And I would now like to surrender," he said while presenting me with the massive revolver.

I took the revolver in my right hand and was surprised at the weight. I honestly thought it would be heavier but it felt just as heavy as my .500 S&W (around four and a half pounds).

Scootaloo picked up her revolver and aimed it at the minotaur. Immediately afterward, the minotaur started laughing. "If you shoot me in the eye with that, I maybe would notice," the minotaur said. "I never understood why you Equestrians would adopt such an underpowered revolver." Speaking of which, I stuck the grenade back in it's home and picked up my sidearm where I dropped it.

The minotaur raised an eye at the sight of my revolver. "Okay, I might notice getting shot with that," said the minotaur. He looked down at his armor and removed a pair pouches and the holster for the revolver that he handed me. "You might need these," he said while holding the items out to me.

I holstered my .500 S&W and stuck the surrendered revolver into its holster. Then, I took the item to attach the items to my war belt before redrawing the revolver that he had surrendered. "May I ask why you chose to surrender to me of all people?" I asked him.

He brought up a hand and tapped his breastplate. "Notice the armor?" he asked. I nodded. "I am among the largest of my kind, sport one of the most unique coat colors, have no horns, and I'm one of the few war chiefs that fight alone. I am easily one of the most recognizable soldiers in this war. If I tried to walk up to a platoon of ponies, they would notice me a kilometer away, and then subsequently shoot on sight."

I shrugged before looking inside of the two pouches that he had given me. One pouch held percussion caps while the other pouch held paper wrapped cartridges. The minotaur solemnly looked at his (well, not anymore) revolver in my hands. "I do hope you take care of it. It has been in my family for five generations," said the minotaur.

I drew back the hammer on it (wow it takes a lot of force to do that on this thing) and looked down the sights. The rear sight was just a simple notch cut into the hammer and the front sight was a small blade. Very simple and very obsolete.

"Ironically enough, it was designed by a pony by the name of Sham Colt," explained the minotaur. "Misses Colt made the revolver for species that walked instead of trotted. The Walker as she named it. Fires a .44 caliber conical bullet pushed with 60 grains of black powder."

Suddenly, a griffon appeared from behind the minotaur. The griffon was just as surprised to see me as I was surprised to see him. I watched as the minotaur instinctively tried to draw his revolver, having forgotten that he had surrendered it. The griffon raised his weapon, a rifle, and would have fired if I had not shot first with the Walker.

The griffon took a bullet to the face and crumpled like a sack of bricks. Much to my surprise, the corpse instantly erupted in a blue inferno originating from where the bullet had struck him. The blue fire, already a strange sight to behold, didn't affect the surrounding area. It was as if the fire was only concerned with burning the griffon. Three seconds later, the flames died off as suddenly as it had started. "It shall no longer be my burden to take the lives of those who fight in this war," said the minotaur. "Especially with such a brutal method."

I looked down at the magic revolver and drew back the hammer once more. "It sets people on fire?" I asked while looking at the Colt Walker's massive cylinder.

"Unfortunately so," replied the minotaur. "I don't know why my great, great, great grandfather would desire such a feature for a hunting implement." I eased the hammer down and holstered it before drawing my own personnel revolver. The minotaur he eyed my .500 S&W. "May I ask why you would choose such a revolver for a sidearm?" he asked while raising an eyebrow.

I shrugged my shoulders. "Why not?"

He Who Doesn't Fight, Has Already Lost

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Three sets of ponies (five each) marched towards their target. In each set, each pony had their role. Three were carrying crates, one was carrying a bipod and a large plate, and the fifth was carrying a mortar tube. No matter what they were carrying, they were all armed with the same rifle, a Herdier No.2 Mk. 1 (literally a Herdier No.1 Mk. 2 but with a five round magazine). A select few between the three sets also had pistols.

This was your standard Royal Equestrian Army (REA) mortar team.

Mortars are one of the many manifestations of artillery. Typically, they're of the smaller and more portable kind of artillery. Because of this, mortars are short ranged and are only capable of lobbing their payloads. However, they're still a very deadly source of indirect fire (shooting at someone without a direct line of sight).

Do you know what you're supposed to do to counter enemy mortar fire? Take cover or run away while hoping that you don't die... What? That's it? Yes. That's pretty much it. Go ahead and try to do something while the world is exploding around you. Even the smallest of mortar shells is several times deadlier than a normal grenade.

As they neared their target location, a trio of airborne griffons spotted them.

-X-X-X-

"Prepare the first salvo!" commanded the Mortar Team OIC (Officer In Charge). Two ponies from each set of the three mortar crews distributed several HE shells to their fellow crew members. Once everypony was ready, the OIC drew his revolver and pointed it in the air.

*BANG*

Each of the mortars and a set of HE shells were sent flying through the air. Each of the crews readied the next shell and waited for the next fire command. When no such command was given, everypony was confused. They all looked at the OIC, only to find that a dead officer with a hole in his head.

All hell broke loose.

Some of them scrambled for weapons, having been set aside for easy mortar operation. The others, they scrambled for cover but there was none. They had all decided on emplacing their mortars in an open street (so that their mortars would have no risk of hitting the buildings in their initial trajectory).

Clearly, it was not the best of ideas.

All of this was happening as bullets were raining down on them. From where, none of the mortar crewmembers knew. It was a turkey shoot and there was no doubt that none of them would be walking away from this. Both the mortar ponies and their assailants knew this.

But then, a pair of small metal canisters was thrown into the fray. A few of the ponies recognized the canisters as grenades, albeit grenades unlike any other. Instead of exploding and spraying deadly shrapnel in every direction indiscriminately, both canisters started billowing smoke from one end.

"Run!" said a voice. A voice, one that none of them recognized. The remaining mortar crewmembers didn't care, they simply ran towards the source of the voice. After the remaining members of the mortar team had sprinted away from their smoke cover, they came to face their savior.

Suffice to say, they were surprised. Their savior wasn't a pony, nor a griffon. Minotaur wasn't it either. Whatever he was, none of them had ever seen anything of the likes that their savior was.

Their savior, like a minotaur, was bipedal. However, he lacked the horns, the muscular stature, and the fur coat that every minotaur had. It had small eyes, a small pointed nose, and small ears. He was taller than the average pony (on all fours), but not by much.

He (they could tell it was a he) sported the strangest uniform that any of them had ever seen. It covered up his entire body, leaving only the head exposed. It was also in the strangest color they had seen, sporting a pattern of grey and tan splotches. On its chest, he wore a heavily padded vest (same pattern as his uniform) that only protected the chest. The vest sported multiple pouches and it probably served as his webbed gear as well as body armor. On his back, he carried a massive backpack that was almost the same size as his torso. Whatever it contained, it was probably important.

Then, there was his rifle...

Was it actually a rifle? If it was one, it was a rifle design that was alien to Equestria. The rifle's short length told them that it was most likely a carbine and the overall structure looked like a child had played with some toy building blocks. The rifle's magazine was small and also blocky while sticking out at an angle from the bottom of the rifle. The barrel itself was puny, as it looked like it only stuck out an inch past the receiver. The rifle's stock was another thing that stood out as it looked like it was made of black plastic, was very short, and looked like it was going to break any second. To top it all off, it had a small optical sight mounted to the rifle in addition to regular iron sights (which were currently folded down). Like the rest of the rifle, both the optic and the iron sights were blocky.

The creature snorted. "Are you gonna keep staring at my KRISS or are you gonna keep moving?" said the creature with a male voice. Seconds later, he turned around and sprinted off in that direction. The remaining ponies sprinted off after him.

-X-X-X-

Wilson was not a happy man. For one thing, he was a medic. What does that have to do being unhappy? Well, you'd be unhappy too if you had to deal with the aftermath of bullshit (worse, Army bullshit) as a profession. Also, he was short (5ft flat) and he hated that fact.

There was also the issue of being in wherever-the-fuck-here-was and the apparent war that was going on between five species of creatures. The only thing he knew was that some asshole (Discord) summoned him to help fight a war and protect some ponies. Why the fuck would he ever fight for a different country? This wasn't his fight.

With him, he had his own personal set of IOTV body armor in UCP with a matching uniform and helmet to go with it. Wilson's IOTV lacked the groin plate, arm protectors, neck protectors, and back plate. Also, the magazine pouches had been replaced with a set of extended pistol magazine pouches. On the body armor, he also had an IFAK, some canteens, a flashlight, a pair of scissors, a multitool, and a pocket knife.

He also had his battle pack with him, something that was a nice sight for sore eyes. What's a battle pack? To put it in simple terms, it was his medic's bag. It was a medium-sized (massive when compared to his small stature) that was filled with everything that a medic needed. With this, he wouldn't let anyone die... Ever.

To top it all off, he was armed with a KRISS Vector. It was his KRISS Vector from his personal collection and it fitted his smaller frame much better than any other gun he had ever seen. For one thing, it was actually the pistol version of the KRISS Vector fitted with an arm brace stock. It was fed from 30 round stick magazines and was chambered in 10mm. Yep, 10mm auto. This thing was a beast. The 10mm auto round was a harder hitting round than most pistol rounds and coupled with an EOTech holographic sight, very accurate. Just in case he didn't want to use the EOTech, there was also a set of folding iron sights to fall back on. Paired up with the KRISS Vector was a stock Glock 20 in the same 10mm auto round. For the KRISS, he had seven magazines including the currently loaded one. For the Glock, he had eight magazines included the currently loaded one. Either way, both guns could interchangeably use each other's magazines.

Here he was, fully geared up and fully armed, in a foreign nation and leading fourteen ponies in a single file line. Where did he go wrong in his life?

"Can we stop!" asked one of the ponies that followed Wilson.

Whilst groaning, Wilson turned around to face the brave soul. "The fuck do you need!? We've only been marching for four fucking minutes!"

One of the ponies, a private, stepped out. "I'm hurt," the pony replied. He pulled open his uniform's coat, revealing a messily applied bandage stained with blood.

Wilson's frown disappeared and he ran over to the pony. Faster than one could yell out 'medic', he had donned a pair of surgical gloves and was treating the pony. After he had finished, he looked to the others.

There was no doubt that there were others. "Who else is injured?" Wilson asked. When five other ponies raised their hands, he frowned again. "Why did none of you mention this earlier?!" He had to work quickly. Otherwise, the same group that ambushed these ponies earlier would find them.

-X-X-X-

Applejack's eyes darted from building to building. She had forgone walking on all four hooves to walking on two hooves so that she could hold her shotgun at-the-ready. Right now, her instincts were telling her that she was being watched and they were never wrong (usually).

As she came onto a cross street, a bullet struck her in the back. Immediately, Applejack darted off towards the nearest cover but seconds before she was safe, another bullet struck her. The bullet, one fired from a rifle, had struck her in the right rear leg. Being completely uncovered, the bullet tore through her leg and she collapsed to the ground with a cry of pain.

Coming directly from her 6 o' clock, she heard the sound of four griffons landing not too far away. She scrambled around to look for where her shotgun landed and found it lying five meters away, having dropped it when she was shot.

"I wouldn't if I were you," said a voice coming from the exact same direction where she had heard the griffons land. Gritting her teeth, she rolled over. She came to face three griffons. All three of them wore the standard Griffon Air Force's uniform. Two were armed with standard bolt action rifles with the third wielding a carbine, all three of which carried a pistol.

"The legendary Cowfilly of the Equestrian Army," said the griffon armed with the carbine. Applejack turned around to look at her shotgun once more as she heard the chuckle of one griffon.

That was when she heard the sound of a dozen unfamiliar gunshots as she found herself in a very familiar situation again.

Turning around once more, she found all three griffons laying in the streets and oozing from multiple gunshot wounds.

"Good job getting shot," said a male voice that she couldn't recognize. She turned to look at the speaker and found another one of those humans (except this one was much shorter). He was wearing an almost identical version of the armor and uniform that Tran had been wearing. The only differences were that his was smaller and lacked the arm protectors, protective yoke, groin plate, back plate, and sported different magazine pouches.

Oh, and he was carrying the strangest rifle that she had ever seen. Stranger than the one that the Eric human had been carrying. Behind him, fourteen ponies stood. Some were armed, some were injured.

The human kneeled behind her and pulled out several pieces of medical equipment that she couldn't identify. As he got to work on her leg, she groaned. "Second time today that one of you human fellers pulled me out of a sticky situation," said Applejack.

Whatever he was doing, he stopped and nothing but immense pain shot through her leg. "Explain why you just said second," he demanded.

There Is Only One Thing Worse Than Fighting with Allies, and That Is Fighting Without Them!

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Twilight frowned upon hearing the news that Rarity had given her. "The mortar team is missing?"

Rarity nodded. "The OIC (Officer In Charge) was confirmed to be dead from a gunshot to the head. He was found with, what is to be assumed, the mortars that the team was sent out with," Rarity explained.

Twilight milled around in her thoughts. "No signs of the mortar team?" Twilight asked.

"Multiple trails of blood were found leading away from the mortars but no other signs of them were found," Rarity answered.

Fourteen ponies were missing; they could have been killed or captured. These two buildings were proving to be more trouble than expected. Why did the minotaurs and griffons send two companies worth of soldiers to kill /capture only three unidentified soldiers of unidentified species of an unidentified military and a singular member of the Equestrian Army. What was the importance of these four?

Twilight ran a hoof through her mane. "Send another team of mortars to perform the same mission but this time, have them escorted by two squads of infantry. Have another two squads ready for a direct assault immediately after the fourth salvo. Keep two squadrons of dogfighters providing cover and air guard. We're eliminating all risks this time."

-X-X-X-

As Wilson neared supposed location of the other supposed "human fellers," the sound of gunfire grew in intensity. What the hell had they gotten themselves into? More importantly, what the hell was he getting himself into?

The group of horses he had saved were, unfortunately, still following him. Seven sported injuries, making matters worse. It severly slowed down his progress having to constantly monitor their condition.

For the millionth time today, he looked at his surroundings for any signs of danger. Paranoia was most definitely a common friend amongst soldiers. After two years in Afghanistan and one year in Iraq, Wilson was definitely accustomed to being friends with paranoia.

"You've seen your fair share of war, haven't you?" asked one random pony.

Wilson just continued moving in the same direction, ignoring the question.

-X-X-X-


Scootaloo popped open the cylinder of her Model 92 and dumped out six spent casings. She looked at Tran and found that he was also reloading his own revolver. Right as she had closed the cylinder a griffon busted through a glass window, brandishing a bayonet-equipped carbine.

Scootaloo shrieked before raising her revolver and worked the trigger as quickly as she could. The first shot missed but only did the first shot miss. While the 8mm Equestrian Ordnance round was "retardedly anemic," getting shot five times was definitely something that you'd notice.

Seconds after the griffon fell back out did Scootaloo notice that she was still working revolver's trigger. Heart racing, she opened up the cylinder to her revolver and started to reload again.

Unfortunately, another griffon appeared in the same window and he was brandishing a similar weapon as the first one. This time, Tran was the one to shoot first. Instead of using his hand cannon (emphasis on cannon), he had used the surrendered Colt Walker. Right as Tran recocked the hammer for a second shot, the griffon had fallen back out of the window (right as his body sprouted a raging blue inferno).

Scootaloo looked at Tran. "Do you ever get used to it?" Scootaloo asked.

Tran lowered the hammer to the Walker and holstered it. "Yes, but don't try to," Tran said. He pulled out a fresh paper cartridge and reloaded the shot that he had used from the Walker.

The minotaur war chief, who was standing around in the background, added in his opinion. "War should not be a part of anyone's life," said the war chief.

-X-X-X-

Outside the building, griffons and minotaurs watched as a griffon fell to the ground; Another griffon (this one bathed in blue flames) followed afterwards. With that, more thoughts of dissent were filling the minds of the lower enlisted soldiers. To them, they were being led to their deaths.

Just what were they dealing with?

-X-X-X-

Eric threw a revolver (one that he had scavenged) at the face of one minotaur before ramming the bayonet of his AK74 into the same minotaur's stomach. He withdrew the bayonet before slamming the AK's buttstock into the minotaur's face/

-X-X-X-

Did they have a chance?

-X-X-X-

The bullet fired from Tran's S&W Model 500 punched right through the chest plate of a minotaur officer's breastplate as if it was never present in the first plate. It then continued through the minotaur's chest, punching through the other side of the breastplate before continuing on through a griffon's chest. Does the .500 S&W round tend to over penetrate? Yes.

-X-X-X-

Should they even try?

-X-X-X-

Three minotaurs approached a different window, reach to surprise their two targets. Right before they dove in, Logan appeared with his FNX 45 in hand. Before the three of them reacted, Logan began firing. Are fifteen rounds of .45 ACP useful? Yes, yes it is.

-X-X-X-

When three more griffons fell to the ground, several of them started to desert. They didn't care about what their punishment would be. Whatever it was, there was no way that it could be worse than facing whatever their targets were.

Right before some of the griffons had taken flight, they heard a sound. It was a sound that every soldier in this war knew. It was also a sound that every soldier in this war had come to fear.

It was a sharp, constant whistle; the telltale sound of incoming artillery fire.

-X-X-X-

Twilight stood up from her desk, stretching out each of her limbs. Once finished, she looked at Rarity. "Let's head off to supervise the battle," Twilight said.

Rarity, who was looking at a battle report, looked up and raised one eyebrow. "You want to go towards the location of two companies worth of enemy soldiers?," Rarity asked in response.

"Yes," Twilight answered.

"Something that we both know is incredibly dangerous?" Rarity asked.

"Yes," Twilight answered.

"And I'm assuming we're just heading off by our lonesome?" Rarity asked.

"Yes," Twilight answered.

"And you do know that the two of us, two high ranking members of Equestria's military and government, are susceptible to being captured and tortured for what we hold in our heads?" Rarity asked.

"Yes," Twilight answered.

Rarity blinked once before crumpling up the report and tossing it in a random direction. "Right, I'll get my coat."

-X-X-X-

Twilight Sparkle and Rarity appeared on the roof of a particularly tall building, fresh from a teleportation. Rarity started to look at her surroundings as Twilight pulled out a pair of binoculars to survey the streets of Baltimare. Rarity groaned as she tapped her friend's shoulder. "Uh, Twilight dear. I believe you teleported us to the wrong rooftop," Rarity said.

Twilight continued to look through her binoculars. "What do you mean? I'm looking at the mortar team right now!" Twilight said. Rarity, instead of saying anything else, grabbed her friend and spun her around to face three griffons. "Oh." All three griffons were currently aiming carbines and rifles at the two of them.

"I'd say the two of you teleported to the right rooftop," said one of the griffons.

Rarity shot Twilight a glance. Twilight glanced back before her horn lit up. The three griffons, noticing the glow from Twilight's horn, immediately started firing. None of their bullets met their marks; they struck a large bubble shield that Twilight had thrown up. Smiling, Twilight grabbed their weapons with her magic and pulled them from out of their hands, tossing them off of the roof.

Dropping the shield, Twilight withdrew a revolver from inside her coat and aimed it at one of the griffons. "It looks I'm the one in charge," Twilight said. One of the griffons then threw something (later identified as a canteen) at Twilight, striking her in the face. Dazed, Twilight spammed the trigger to her revolver as the three griffons charged her.

Twilight felt herself getting thrown to the ground while also being disarmed of her sidearm. Once she had recovered, she found herself looking at the muzzle of her own revolver.

Rarity facehooved at the sight of her friend. "Twilight dear...," Rarity said.

"It appears we're the ones in charge," said the griffon who was holding Twilight's revolver. He looked at his two allies. "Did either of you get shot?"

One of the other two griffons was lying on the ground, clutching his stomach. "She got me but I think I'll be fine. Those ponies' puny pistols piss pitiful projectiles" said the griffon.

Rarity stopped facehoofing and stuck her hoof in her mane. Seeing this, the griffon aimed Twilight's revolver at Rarity's face. "Stop!" he said.

Rarity withdrew a derringer from her mane and aimed it at the griffon, using her magic to pull back the derringer's hammer. "That's empty." The griffon pulled the trigger.

*Click*

"As I said, empty," Rarity said before firing her derringer. The fired bullet struck the griffon in the neck who immediately dropped to the ground. She recocked the hammer to her derringer before taking aim at the other uninjured griffon. Without a second thought, she fired and dropped the second griffon.

Twilight picked up her revolver with her magic. "Thanks, Rarity."

Rarity popped open her derringer and withdrew the two spent cartridges. She took a look at the two cartridges before sticking them in her pocket. Pulling out two fresh rounds, she reloaded her derringer. "Do try to prevent that from happening the next time," Rarity said.

She looked at her derringer and frowned. Upon seeing the slight build up of carbon on the derringer's muzzle, she knew she'd have to clean it later. The oils that she had to use to clean her derringers were a nightmare, especially if any of it got on her fur.

She remembered when she bought this dainty little thing. Upon walking into the gun store, the shop's owner couldn't believe his eyes upon seeing the element of generosity. Why would anypony with such grace, such refineness, would ever need something like a firearm? Why to protect herself, of course.

The derringer had a nickel finish and sported an absolutely beautiful set of scrollwork engravings. The grips, made of ivory, were engraved with a trio of diamonds on each side to signify ownership. The dainty derringer despite it's dinkiness was definitely dangerous. Chambered in .45 Colt, it was something that you didn't want to mess with.

Twilight's revolver was definitely a weird contrast, especially when compared to Rarity's derringer. Twilight's revolver, a Model 73, was an antiquated piece of junk that was chambered in 11.5x17mmR Equestrian Ordnance (the R meaning rimmed). The 11.5x17mmR round was, despite being an 11.5mm caliber bullet, somehow even weaker than the 8x27mm Equestrian Ordnance round. Why in the world would she choose such a sidearm? Sure, the Model 73 was robust, and reliable but so was any other sidearm that Equestria fielded! It also only held six rounds so capacity wasn't good.

Speaking of which, Twilight reloaded her revolver and aimed it at the third griffon, who was still lying on the ground. "So, pitiful huh?" Twilight asked.

Rarity glared at Twilight. "Twilight! Don't be so cruel!" Rarity said. She lit up her horn and shot a bolt of magic at the injured griffon. A second later, the griffon fell asleep. "Teleport him to one of Fort Platinum's POW holding cells" Rarity demanded.

Twilight's horn lit up and the griffon disappeared. Picking her binoculars back up, she looked back down in the streets.

-X-X-X-

Spitfire and the three other platoon of infantryponies prepared themselves. Behind them, a mortar team was busy sending deadly explosive shells towards their target. As soon as this salvo was finished, they would charge.

Captain Spitfire of the Royal Equestrian Army (previously captain of the Equestrian Royal Flying Corps), was in charge of this assault. With every fiber of her being, she hoped that this assault would end up with the same number of ponies that it started with.

But then, a dogfighter landed in front of her. "Ma'am! We have a group of ponies, some injured, being lead to this location by a possible minotaur! They're approaching from our rear and we have fifteen minutes before they arrive" reported the dogfighter.

Spitfire's eyes widened and immediately took to the sky above the ponies she currently commanded. "Possible enemy to the rear! Prepare to defend! Do not fire unless commanded!" Spitfire yelled.

-X-X-X-

Wilson noticed something in the sky. It was only in his vision for the shortest of split seconds but he had noticed it. Whatever it was, it wasn't a griffon. It had a similar form as the ponies but there was no way that they could fly.

But then again, he shouldn't be doubting that they could fly. Even more so when considering the fact that he was in a world where ponies were tiny, pastel, and could speak English. Also, there was also the fact that griffons existed in this world.

Soon enough, Wilson noticed a set of abandoned mortar tubes off in the distance. He immediately stopped moving forward and raised his KRISS Vector. The ponies behind him noticed the same thing and did the same thing.

"What is it?" one pony behind him asked.

"Some abandoned mortar tubes," Wilson replied. "They're not the ones that you idiots abandoned either. These are different."

Wilson heard a loud crashing noise directly from the sky. Looking up, he found a team of ponies (fucking winged ponies) armed with rifles aiming at him. The same crashing noise then came from every direction and Wilson found himself targeted by more than two hundred ponies. "Well fuck me," Wilson said.

One of the ponies in the air, a female pony with a bright yellow coat of fur and an orange/yellow mane, landed on the ground while still aiming her rifle at the intruder. "Drop the weapons!" she demanded.

Wilson looked at his KRISS Vector before unslinging it and gently laying it on the ground. He then repeated it with his Glock.

"Spitfire?" said one of the ponies that had been following Wilson.

"Applejack?" responded the winged pony.

Applejack stepped out of the group that had been following Wilson. "What's goin on?" Applejack asked.

"We're just about to descend upon the location of possibly two companies worth of enemy griffons and minotaurs. They're supposedly assaulting a pair of buildings that are housing three minotaur-like creatures and one pony. Rumor has it, these four are the ones that killed the two war chiefs and Jaegar," Spitfire answered.

Applejack pointed at Wilson. "We're headin there too," Applejack said.

Spitfire looked at Wilson. "And he's with you?" Spitfire asked. Applejack nodded. Spitfire looked at Wilson and at his weird rifle thing. "Go ahead but don't make me regret this decision."

Wilson frowned as he picked up his KRISS and Glock. "So, where are these two buildings?"

-X-X-X-

I looked out of one window at what remained of the minotaurs and griffons after that last salvo of mortar fire. A few of the uninjured ones were holding white flags tied to their rifles. I looked at the war chief, who was also looking at the sight before his eyes. "It appears that we're no longer in danger," said the war chief.

I shrugged before looking back out the window. It was then that I noticed the glare of a lens.

-X-X-X-

Twilight noticed a rather large rifle come into her view from one window, aimed in her direction. Whoever it was, he/she knew that she was there despite being 1100 meters away.

-X-X-X-

I adjusted my sniper rifle's scope to the maximum possible zoom. Whoever was watching me, he/she was accompanied by another person and that they were using only a pair of binoculars.

"What is it?" Scootaloo asked me.

I moved my face away from my rifle. "Two ponies are watching us with a pair of binoculars," I replied.

Scootaloo walked (trotted?) over to me. "Can I see?" Scootaloo asked.

I moved away from my rifle and gestured to the rifle's scope. She understood me and grabbed my rifle before looking to the scope. Seconds later, she gasped. "I know who they are!"

Then, I heard a creak from our rear. I immediately drew my .500 S&W and aimed it at the source.

Standing there was a pink pony holding a small mortar. "Hello!" she happily exclaimed.

"Hello," I said back.

War Is Not an Adventure It Is a Disease It Is like Typhus

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The orange stray (Scootaloo) was amazed at the sight of the newcomer. "Pinkie Pie?" Scootaloo said.

"That's me!" said the smiling mare. "And you're okay!" With that, she immediately started skipping around the room.

The war chief, who was quietly waiting in the corner, was surprised to see Pinkie Pie. "Overwhelming happiness, a rather strange sight to see in such a despairing period of world history," said the war chief.

Suddenly, the pink pronking pony pounced the puny pegasus and hugged her. "I'm glad you're safe, Scootaloo. Everypony is worried sick," said Pinkie Pie. Scootaloo succumbed to the affection and hugged back. Seeing Pinkie Pie, the pink party pony of Ponyville, was a nice moment of respite. Pinkie Pie pulled away from the hug and glared at her. "Why'd you leave Rainbow Dash and Applejack?"

Scootaloo frowned. "I joined to fight, not hide away in safety," she said.

Now it was Pinkie Pie's turn to frown. "You're not even old enough to be fighting. You should be enjoying your childhood," Pinkie Pie said.

Scootaloo's frown was replaced with a face full of irritation. "But there are ponies younger than me fighting," said Scootaloo.

Immediately upon hearing that, Pinkie Pie's mane partially deflated. It still had a poofy look but it was a very noticeable change. "We shouldn't be using kids in the first place!" she yelled. The war chief chuckled once and Pinkie immediately snapped back. "There's nothing funny about this!"

The war chief crossed his arms and grinned. "Back in the motherland, every calf with the ability to walk is trying to enlist," said the war chief.

Pinkie Pie's grip on Scootaloo tightened. Looking over at Tran, she eyed the name patch on his chest. "Tran?" she said.

"Yes," Tran responded.

"Is that your name?" Pinkie Pie asked.

"Yes," Tran answered.

"Were you the one that helped out Rainbow Dash and Applejack?" Pinkie Pie asked.

"Yes," Tran answered once again.

Pinkie Pie looked down at Scootaloo. "Is he telling the truth?" Pinkie Pie said, asking Scootaloo.

"Yes," Scootaloo replied.

Pinkie Pie eyed the red scarf that was hanging off from Tran's belt. "And was he the one that took out the war chief and the jaegar?" Pinkie asked.

"Yes," Scootaloo answered.

Pinkie pointed at the white, hornless minotaur. "And what are you doing here?" she asked.

The war chief shrugged his shoulders. "I surrendered," he replied.

Pinkie Pie looked at Tran and narrowed her eyes. "And you did all of this?"

"With a little help, yes" Tran replied.

The pinky pony pronked her pudgy person over to Tran. "Then we can end this battle with enough time to spare for a party!" She quickly skipped over to Tran and eyed his overall being. "And what kind of a name is Tran, anyways? I've never heard of any other name like that! Was it the one that your parents gave you? Do you like having it as a name? When other ponies look at it, do they ask you about your name? Why don't you change it to something else?"

As Pinkie Pie rambled on, Tran picked up his rifle and quickly walked out of the room. Naturally, Pinkie Pie followed him. Hell or high water, she was gonna befriend him!

The war chief, not sure about what the hell just happened, looked down at Scootaloo. "What just happened?" he asked.

Scootaloo shrugged and walked towards the doorway. "Pinkie Pie just happened. You're just supposed to go with it," replied Scootaloo before she completely walked out of the room.

-X-X-X-

Twilight nearly dropped her binoculars from what she had witnessed. She looked over at her friend, Rarity, and found that she had a similar look of shock. "Was that Pinkie Pie?" Twilight asked.

Rarity nodded.

"And was that Scootaloo?"

Rarity nodded again.

"And was that the Great White Bull?"

Rarity nodded once again.

"And was that a creature of indeterminate species possibly belonging to a foreign nation that we have no quarrel or relations with?"

Rarity nodded for the fourth time.

"Do you think Pinkie will drive him insane before we reach them?"

Rarity didn't even have to respond for Twilight to know what she thought. Twilight immediately jumped off of the roof and started to fly away, leaving Rarity by herself.

Rarity stared at her friend as she realized that she was on the roof of a twenty story building and that she wasn't as fit as she wished. "Shoot," Rarity said.

-X-X-X-

When Spitfire was briefed for her task, she expected that assaulting two companies worth of enemy soldiers would have been a difficult task ladened with many casualties. A platoon's worth of enemy soldiers surrendering while telling her that they were what remained of that enemy force was the reality of her mission. She also didn't expect that she'd have to deal with some weird bipedal creature and the Element of Honesty.

Applejack, Equestria's most hard-headed pony, was demanding to be part of the group to clear the buildings. With something as large as a building, multiple teams of ponies would have to be sent in to clear it and Applejack was absolutely one of the worse ponies to work with.

Like Applejack, Wilson had also demanded to assist the buildings' assault. In every sense of the word, Wilson was an unknown factor. Spitfire knew nothing about what type of soldier he was, if he was capable of clearing a building/room, what his weapons were capable of or whether he could work in a team. Hell, she didn't know if he was actually on their side. All she knew was that he was armed.

And then, Spitfire realized that she had left Applejack and Wilson alone to interview the ponies that Wilson had supposedly saved. When she returned to where they were supposed to be, she found that the two of them were missing.

-X-X-X-

Wilson looked at Applejack who was looking back at Wilson. Both of them were climbing up the steps of one of the buildings. Was this a good idea? Probably not. Did they care? Nope.

While they were barely up the third story of this building, they heard incoming footsteps. Both of them raised their weapons and pointed them in the direction of the noise. As the seconds passed, their bodies produced more and more adrenaline as the possible conflict closed the distance.

But then, Applejack felt something sharp pressed against her neck. "I wouldn't if I were you."

Wilson turned to face the speaker but found himself looking down the barrel of a pistol. The pistol's owner, a human wearing a hoodie, was surprised to see Wilson. From the direction of the footsteps, came another human. This one was wearing a plate carrier in OCP camouflage and armed with a magazine fed rifle.

The human armed with the rifle eyed Wilson's uniform and equipment. "Army?"

"Yes," replied Wilson.

Applejack then recognized the two of them. "Hey, you're those two human fellers ah met earlier."

The man sheathed his knife and lowered his pistol. "How the fuck did we meet again?" asked Logan.

Eric looked at Applejack and facepalmed. "God damn it."

-X-X-X-

Five ponies looked over their gear and weapons as they stood at the opening of one of the buildings. Spitfire, standing in the rear with her rifle ready, held up a hoof and tapped her head.

That signaled meant 'GO!' but all of them froze up when a pink pony skipped out of the door. "Hi!" said Pinkie Pie.

First Contact

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Spitfire immediately grabbed Pinkie Pie and pulled her away from the door. "What are you doing?!" Spitfire demanded. Before Pinkie could answer the question, another pony exited from the same door.

The pony in question was a small orange pegasus dressed in a Royal Equestrian Army uniform and armed with the outdated Herdier No.1 Mk. 2 carbine. Spitfire realized that this pony must have been Scootaloo, Rainbow Dash's superfan. Up until this point, Spitfire had never actually seen the little scamp in question.

Strings tugged at Spitfire's heart. No way that this tiny filly met the enlistment age but here she was, all trussed up and ready to be eaten by war.

Then, another one of those humans walked out of the same door. This one was dressed a lot like the other human except his armor had more pieces to it. He was also a good thirty centimeters taller and had much smaller facial features. In a way, he seemed more dangerous than the other human that she had seen earlier today. It wasn't because he was taller. He just seemed more dangerous and she couldn't tell why.

That scarf.

Spitfire's eyes jumped out of her skull once she saw the scarf hanging off from the human's belt. She'd recognize those scarfs anywhere, as did everypony else that made up the assault team.

Spitfire's heart started trying to fight it's way out of her chest as her first aerial defeat came to mind. On that day, she had nothing but confidence coursing through her veins. After the defeat, that confidence was forever poisoned with pain and humiliation. Her best friend lost a key part of his very being while another one of her friends was gone forever. Those memories, they would stick with her to this day.

Wait, she was hearing something. It sounded like... Words? Spitfire blinked a few times and realized somepony was speaking to her. Following the source of the noise, she discovered that the human was speaking.

"-Lright?" asked the human.

"I'm sorry?" said Spitfire.

The human raised an eyebrow. "Are you alright?" asked the human.

Spitfire pointed at the red scarf. "Where did you get that?" she asked.

The human looked down at what Spitfire was pointing at. "The scarf? This guy I killed gave it to me before he died" replied the human.

Spitfire's mind tried to comprehend the words that came out of his mouth. Only one type of soldier in the world wore those blood red scarves. How in the hell did he kill a Jaeger? There was no way that this human fought a Jaeger in the air and won; He had no wings. Most weapons weren't capable of defeating a Jaeger's coat and they were monsters in hoof-to-hoof combat.

Spitfire glanced at the red scarf again. "How did you kill a Jaeger?' she asked.

The human shrugged. "I shot him." came his reply.

Spitfire saw the barrel of a rifle peeking over his shoulder; He clearly had a rifle. "Would it be safe to assume that you used that rifle that you have?" asked Spitfire.

The human shook his head. "No, I shot him with my sidearm." said the human.

Spitfire raised an eyebrow. "In the head?" asked Spitfire.

The human shook his head. "Amidst a grapple, I shot him in the stomach" said the human.

Those words floated around Spitfire's head for a few seconds. No way would a mere handgun be capable of punching through a Jaeger's coat. "You killed him with a sidearm? Wasn't he wearing his coat, their trademarked armor?" she asked.

The human then immediately drew a revolver from his hip. Spitfire's mouth dropped. "Dear Celestia is that thing unnecessary!" The human looked at his revolver and shrugged. "And next, you're gonna tell me you also managed to capture the minotaur Army's generals or something."

Pinkie Pie jumped in (literally) between the two of them and sported a huge smile. "Does a war chief count?" asked Pinkie Pie.

The human stepped away from the door and everypony looked inside. There, in all of his glory, was the most recognizable soldier in this war. It was the Great White Bull.

Everypony, minus the human and Pinkie, took aim at the minotaur with their rifles. In response, he immediately raised his hands high up in the air. "I was joking!" said Spitfire.

The human glanced at the other ponies' rifles. "I captured him. No need for that." said the human.

Spitfire swung her head to look at a human. "I'm the one in charge of this outfit and we do not need somepony like him being a threat to anypony." she growled.

The human looked around and noticed the other ponies gathered around to provide support for the operation that was supposed to happen. He then looked at the minotaur. "Guess this is goodbye, huh?" said the human.

"I would believe so." said the minotaur. Spitfire dug through her web gear and fished out a pair of minotaur-type shackles. Upon being forced to wear them, the minotaur snorted. "Do you honestly think something of this... Quality could hold a minotaur?"

Spitfire looked at the shackles. To be fair, the chains that bound together the two cuffs looked thin and fragile. In reality, they were enchanted to be stronger. They would also sprout spikes on the insides of the cuffs if the wearer attempted to break out of them. "You may try." said Spitfire.

The minotaur shrugged in response. "I won't. From my past experiences, you ponies tend to enchant everything that seems lacking."

Scootaloo looked up at the human. "What now?" she asked. Life decided to give an answer as a lavender unicorn suddenly appeared (with a very loud purple flash of light) in front of the human. Surprised at the sudden appearance of a purple pastel pony princess, the human had immediately drawn a bead on Twilight's face with his .500 S&W.

Twilight stared down the .50 caliber bore of the revolver. It was only a centimeter away from her face and she could clearly see the bullet meant for her. An instant later, her horn lit up as she attempted to teleport the revolver out of his hands.

Absolutely nothing happened.

Twilight's pupils shrunk to the size of pinheads.

Half of the assault team (including Spitfire) immediately took aim with their rifles. "Drop the weapon!" demanded Spitfire.

Then, everypony present heard the sound of footsteps from a different direction. A voice called out from that direction. "I'd drop yours." Standing there were three humans and the Cowfilly of the Equestrian Army. One of the humans was pointing a pistol at Applejack while the other two were pointing their rifles at the assault team.

The rest of the assault team had no choice but to lower their rifles. Unfortunately, this assault team was in charge of entering in a back entrance so there was nopony else to cover them.

Scootaloo's heart sunk as she looked at Tran. What was he doing? "What are you doing?" Scootaloo softly asked. Had his demeanor, this whole time, been a complete ruse?

Tran kept his revolver aimed at Twilight's face. "Jesus Christ, what was that?!" he demanded.

Twilight's heart sank into her stomach. "What do you mean?" she asked.

Tran lowered the revolver but only slightly so. "You just appeared out of goddamn nowhere!"

Twilight was puzzled for a second before realizing what he meant. "I only teleported in." she said.

He lowered the revolver even more so. "Teleported?" he asked.

Twilight raised an eyebrow. Did he not know what teleportation was? "It was a standard magical spell for instant transportation." explained Twilight.

He lowered his handgun completely. "A magic teleportation spell." he said. "Right. Magic." He holstered the revolver completely and everypony relaxed. "Sorry for the, uh, misconception."

One of the other humans, the one pointing his sidearm at Applejack, spoke up. "We're good?" asked the distant human. Tran nodded. The other three humans lowered their weapons.

Applejack maintained a hard glare at the human that had been pointing a pistol at her head. "Ah guess that was the fucking doozy, wasn't it?" Applejack said.

Pinkie Pie shook her head. "Nope!" she said happily.

That was when everypony heard the sound of rapidly approaching hoofsteps. Everypony aimed their weapons in that direction but lowered them when they saw a white pony in an REA uniform running towards them.

Rarity's lungs heaved as she struggled to breath. Sweat completely drenched her fur, mane, and REA uniform. Whatever makeup that previously decorated her face had been ruined and was now running down her cheeks. No longer did she have the looks of a refined lady. "Twilight! I. Hate. You." said the mare in between breaths. In every sense of the word, she looked awful.

For a few seconds, Pinkie Pie vibrated in place, jumped and floated in the air, deflated and overinflated herself, and finally landed on the ground and stood there. "Nope, that was the doozy," said Pinkie Pie.

Alone We Can Do so Little, Together We Can Do so Much

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Opinions of the humans differed greatly between the scattered ponies. A great majority of the opinions, mostly aimed at Tran, were negative in nature. Whatever they were capable of was pure speculation. However, there was also the fact that one of them had captured a war chief (one of the more infamous ones too) and how the same human had supposedly killed a Jaeger.

The tension was so thick, it was capable of stopping a bullet. "So!" Pinkie Pie said. "What's with the silence? Why's nopony saying anything? We can't just stand here all day!" She attempted to skip on over to Tran but Twilight pulled her back with her magic.

Twilight shot a glance at their various firearms; Some of them were too strange for her to even guess what they were capable of. When one of them shifted slightly, Twilight nearly drew her sidearm out of fear. "So what exactly is your group's mission in Equestria?" Twilight asked.

To her surprise, all four of them shrugged. "Honestly, I have no idea," replied Tran. "I just woke up in a random section of the city. The only thing that gave clues as to why I am here was a letter telling me that I was recruited."

"Same shit with me," said Eric.

"Ditto with the fuckery," said Wilson.

"Same except I don't know why the fuck I was chosen," said Logan. "I'm not even military."

Twilight eyed Logan's gear and weapons. "If you're not military, why are you dressed and armed like you are?"

Logan scoffed. "What kind of military force would ever dress their soldiers in a hoodie, jeans, and a black shirt?"

"And the weapons?" Twilight asked.

"Mine" replied Logan.

Twilight's eyes widened slightly. "You privately possess military grade firearms?"

Applejack shot a look at Twilight. "Uh, Twi? You've seen Granny Smith's gun collection," said Applejack.

-X-X-X-

Somewhere in the skies above Baltimare, five pegasi dogfighters flew in a V formation as they kept guard over their assigned section of Baltimare. All they had to do was to make sure that the ground troops were notified of any incoming griffons. Essentially, fly in a circle and shoot at anything that comes close. "What do you think got the griffons so worked up, sergeant?" asked one of the pegasi, a lower enlisted.

"How should I know?" replied the lead pegasus. "All I know is that we're providing cover."

The three of them made a hard turn as they realized they were close to leaving their designated area. "Yeah, but aren't you curious?" said the enlisted dogfighter. "It has to be something big if they've sent in this many soldiers to assault it!"

The sergeant huffed. "And it still doesn't matter! Just focus on your task and keep your eyes peeled!" Right at that moment, he noticed some movement on the ground. Using a pair of binoculars, he spotted a small platoon of minotaurs. Without looking away from the minotaurs, he said, "Attack formation, we might have trouble!" He turned his head to look at his soldiers but found himself flying by his lonesome. "What?" A white-hot stabbing pain erupted in his back; The same pain shot through his body as he watched a bayonet erupt from his belly.

He wanted to scream but a set of talons ripped apart his throat. The owner of said talons withdrew his bayonet from the pegasus's body and watched the body drop to the ground. "Pathetically easy," said the griffon as he wiped the blood off of his talons onto his red scarf. Looking around, the griffon spotted a strange gathering of enemy soldiers far in the distance.

-X-X-X-

Applejack glanced at Tran's S&W 500. "So yah willingly bought that?" she asked.

Tran shrugged. "Why not?"

Scootaloo giggled subtly upon hearing Tran's answer; It was something she'll probably never get tired of hearing. Pinkie Pie noticed the filly's little outburst of happiness and smiled. "What now?" Pinkie asked.

Twilight looked at her beloved best friend, confused at her question. "What do you mean?"

Pinkie Pie gestured to the humans with her tail, which somehow formed into a glowing broad arrow (I don't even, what?). "We found Scootaloo, found what was attracting the griffons, and even captured a war chief. What do we do now?" Pinkie asked.

Scootaloo looked at Tran. "Are you gonna leave now?" she asked.

Tran shrugged. "Maybe," he answered. "There's not much else to do."

Scootaloo pressed her ears against her head. Of course, Tran had no idea of what that meant but Applejack sure did. "Tell yah what. You should stay with us fer a while til yah figure things out," said Applejack. She looked at her alicorn friend, the one who had more leeway than any other pony in the military. "What do yah think, Twi?"

Twilight looked at Applejack as if she had grown a second stetson. 'Are you crazy?!' was Twilight's expression.

'Come on, Twi!' was Applejack's return expression.

'Do you realize what you're asking?' was Twilight's next expression.

'Yes!' Applejack expressed.

'What the hell is going on?' was what every human was expressing.

Twilight looked at Rarity (who, this whole time, was still recovering from her short bout of exercise) and asked, "Is it feasible?"

Rarity, still heaving, replied with a curt nod. Wilson removed a canteen from a pouch on his body armor, unscrewed the cap, and held it out for her. Rarity graciously grabbed the canteen and drained half of it. After a deep breath, she handed the canteen back to Wilson. "We can bring them back to Fort Platinum," said Rarity, "but they'll need a constant escort and possible guard."

Twilight looked at the human's weapons. "I don't suppose you're willing to surrender your weapons?" she asked hopefully. All four humans said nothing but their faces gave her an answer. She didn't know why she bothered asking. "If you come to Fort Platinum, I expect no trouble."

Eric tightened his grip on his AK. "As long as no one starts it," said Eric.

'Definitely a 24/7 escort,' thought Twilight. Wait, they were recruited with a letter? "Was there a name on the letter?" asked Twilight

Tran answered, "Just Discord." Twilight and Rarity exchanged looks; The four humans noticed this. "I know he's dead but not who he was."

Twilight raised an eyebrow. Who didn't know who Discord was? Discord wasn't exactly a simple creature. "He was the god of chaos in the form of a draconequus" Twilight answered.

"A dracon-a-what?" asked Logan.

"Does it matter?" Tran asked.

Logan shrugged. "So now what?"

Rarity glanced at Twilight and nodded. Twilight smiled and replied with, "Now we head on to Fort Platinum, but you'll need to surrender your weapons once we get there."

All four humans tensed whilst tightening their grips on their various weapons. "And if we're fond of our toys?" asked Logan.

Twilight frowned. "I'm not sure all of yo-" she began to say before being interrupted.
"Oh, I'm sure we can figure something out," Rarity said.

Spitfire eyed the various weapons that the humans possessed. "Are you sure that's a good idea, ma'am?" she asked. Before she got an answer, Tran and Eric raised their weapons. They weren't aiming their weapons at them; Their weapons were raised a foot above their heads. Before Spitfire could turn around to look at what they were aiming at, the sound of gunfire erupted from her 6 O'clock position. Two of the ponies beside her, members from her assault team, had blood erupt from their bodies; They were shot, no doubt about it.

Tran, Wilson, and Eric all screamed, "Get to cover!" Everypony and human scrambled to find cover: The humans were the first ones to find cover. Logan and Wilson had their weapons up and were trying to find the enemy. "Where are they?!" Logan yelled.

Eric, while still firing, immediately replied, "50 yards, twelve, fallen brick building!" The instant he found their aggressors, WIlson immediately started spraying 10mm fire without a trace of accuracy. Logan tried to copy Wilson's action but was limited by the bolt of his Mosin Nagant.

Spitfire, Twilight Sparkle, Rarity, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and the remaining ponies of the building assault team had also taken cover. However, only three of the ponies were returning fire. Applejack looked at everypony else and frowned. "Come on y'all, shoot back!" she yelled. For Celestia's sake, she was wounded and she was shooting back!

Rarity, who was using a bolt action rifle that she had literally just picked up, calmly fired shot after shot. "They're scared, dear," said Rarity. She looked at Twilight, who was hiding behind cover, trying not to get shot. Her lavender friend was shaking like a leaf. Rarity didn't blame her friend for being afraid; This was war.

Spitfire, where she was hiding, was sitting on the ground. Her heart raced and her lungs worked hard. She had come close to death, once again. She really needed to stop getting into situations like this.

Pinkie Pie, usually the happy pink party pony of Ponyville, was silently setting up her mortar. Her hair had gone flat and her coat had gained a slightly grey tinge. This got old a long time ago.

Scootaloo, scared out of her wits, had simply followed Tran. Beside him, she stood on her hind legs with her rifle up against her shoulder. She was actually one of the three ponies who were returning fire despite being the most inexperienced of the group.

Wilson looked around at his fellow humans. "Who's wounded?" he called out.

"Good!" Tran answered.
"All clear!" Eric answered.
"Still shooting!" Logan answered.

Wilson dropped down into cover and started reloading his KRISS Vector. As he seated a fresh magazine into his KRISS, he turned his head to look at the ponies. When he saw the two ponies that had been wounded early on in the ambush, his mind stopped caring about anything unimportant. Right now, the only thing that mattered were those two. "We got wounded!" Wilson yelled out. "Tran, follow me!"

Tran dropped to cover. "Where?!" Tran demanded.

WIlson pointed to the two wounded. "Cover, smoking!" he called out. All three humans popped up from cover and lit up the battleground. As this happened, Wilson pulled out a smoke grenade. "Smoke out!" With that, the grenade flew out and spewed out a temporary field of concealment. Afterwards, the two of them sprinted over to the two wounded. Both ponies were sporting various gunshot injuries throughout their bodies. For now, Tran and Wilson applied tourniquets to whatever limbs were spouting blood. After that, the two of them grabbed a single pony each and ran back to cover. Overall, this took them three-quarters of a minute. The smokescreen was still present and random gunfire could still be heard.

Now that the four of them were back behind cover, Wilson handed Tran his KRISS and got out his battle pack. Opening up his battle pack, he entered his field. He was now god.

The first pony, the one he carried, was bleeding from the torso from multiple sources. Using a pair of trauma shears, he removed the pony's uniform and found the source of the bleeding. From his battle pack, he removed a couple chest seals and applied them as needed. It wasn't the perfect solution but for now, it would work.

The next pony was a similar patient. He was also bleeding from multiple unknown sources from his chest but one of his legs (one that didn't have a tourniquet on), was also bleeding. The leg wasn't bleeding heavily but it was bleeding nonetheless. Digging through his battlepack, he pulled out chest seals and an Israeli bandage. First, he applied the chest seals. Next, was the leg.

"We're good!" Wilson called out.

*Clunk*

A stick grenade landed in front of Wilson. "Grenade!" Wilson called out. Tran picked it up and tossed it over their cover before immediately jumping on top of one of the wounded ponies. Wilson copied what Tran did and covered the other wounded pony with his body.

*BOOM*

Dirt and dust covered the four of them but none of them gained any new wounds. Getting back up, Tran handed Wilson his KRISS and pulled out his S&W 500. "Where did that come from?!" Tran asked.

Wilson gave Tran a hard glare. "The fuck you mean?!" he demanded.

"They're 50 yards away! No one can throw a grenade that far!" Tran said. Both of them immediately looked to the skies. It took them a few seconds but they found their answer. Ten meters above them, a griffon wearing a red scarf was soaring through the air.

"You fucker!" Wilson taunted. He raised his KRISS and sprayed away. Surprisingly, he landed a few hits but were only effective enough to irritate the griffon.

The griffon descended in altitude, giving the two of them a better view of his body. Like every Jaeger, he wore a red scarf around his neck and was equipped with a set of webbed gear outfitted for aerial use. Covering his face was a metal faceplate with a set of slits for the eyes. His beak, something that should have been yellow and made of keratin, had been replaced with a steel analog. "Your weapons are useless!" yelled the griffon. "Surrender and you'll receive a merciful death!"

Wilson and Tran exchanged a look. Tran holstered his .500 S&W and unslung his sniper rifle. In half a second, he took aim and snapped out a shot. The bullet punched right through the Jaeger's armored coat, through his body, and out the other side of his armored coat. He hovered for a few more seconds before immediately dropping straight down. Much to his embarrassment, the Jaeger landed right in front of Wilson. Wilson smirked before immediately kicking the Jaeger in the side of the head.

Tran looked at the Jaeger's equipment and dug through a few of the pouches. After a short search, he removed a pair of stick grenades and the red scarf.

Wilson raised an eyebrow at the sight of the red scarf in Tran's hands. "What's with that?" he asked.

Tran smiled before answering, "They explode and spray shrapnel everywhere."

Wilson frowned. "I meant the fucking scarf, you smartass!"

Tran suppressed a chuckle. "Just thought I'd take it," he said before tying the scarf alongside the other red scarf that he had. He then handed one of the grenades to Wilson before directing his attention back to the battle. "Ready to join in again?" he asked while slinging his rifle and pulling out his S&W 500.

Wilson nodded.

The two of them moved to the edge of their cover, ready to move. "Cover us while we move!" Tran called out.

"Covering!" Eric and Logan called out. The air immediately was filled with the sound of rapid 5.45x39mm and 7.62x54mmR fire. Both Wilson and Tran sprinted back to where they previously were before they went to help the wounded.

Tran looked at Scootaloo, who had been attempting to shoot the minotaurs this whole time. Tran grabbed the collar of her coat and pulled her back behind cover. "Pay attention to what I'm saying to you!" he said. He then held up three fingers. "How many fingers am I holding up?!"

Scootaloo looked at him for a few seconds before realizing what he had asked. "T-three?" she answered.

"Now that you're paying attention, I want you to copy my every action!" Tran said. "Got it!"

Scootaloo nodded. "Copy everything you do, got it!"

Tran handed her a stick grenade. "You're gonna need this. Everything I do, you do but on the right side." Scootaloo pocketed the grenade and nodded. Tran moved over to the left side of this cover while Scootaloo moved over to the right side of the cover.

*THUNK*

A shell from Pinkie's party cannon soared through the air with a sharp whistle before exploding a dozen yards away from its intended target. Frowning, Pinkie Pie adjusted the distance knob on her mortar. "Pinkie, do that again!" Twilight called out.

*THUNK*
*THUNK*

A couple seconds before the shells landed, Twilight hopped up over her cover while bringing up a shield. When the shells landed seconds later (missing the minotaurs by only a few yards), Twilight started advancing towards them. Bullets pinged off of her shield giving her a sense of invincibility. Smiling, the glow from her horn brightened.

The dozen or so minotaurs that were firing on the group were nestled behind cover, taking pot shots at the ponies whenever they could. From there, they were impossible to get a hit on. Naturally, Twilight had the solution; She set their cover on fire. Some of the minotaurs were set on fire but most of them simply stepped backwards away from their cover, still perfectly safe from fire. Clouds suddenly appeared in the air above the minotaurs, taking some of their attention away from the battle. Seconds later, bolts of lightning rained down onto their position. Fortunately for them, none of them landed. Twilight's attention had been so focused on casting magic that she hadn't noticed the sack of grenades that landed in front of her shield.

*BOOM*

Twilight's shield was instantly shattered and her head was filled with the most intense pain that she had ever felt. Most of the pain was centered around the base of her horn and it was now the only thing she could think of. Clutching her head, Twilight could no longer sustain any magic and the clouds above the minotaurs disappeared.

The minotaurs stepped out from behind cover and fired upon her. Most missed but the ones that struck were absorbed by the enchanted armored coat that Twilight wore. However, it definitely wasn't a pleasant feeling. Bruises formed on her body and she felt some bones crack, some even breaking. She quickly collapsed to the ground.

"Twilight!" Rarity cried out. She wanted to run up to her friend and rescue her but she knew that she wouldn't have been able to carry Twilight back. She wasn't a soldier; She was just an advisor.

"Covering fire!" Rarity looked at the source of whoever issued such a command. The one human, Tran, immediately peaked out of cover and aimed the hand cannon that he was so fond of. When it went off, everyone on this field heard the loudest gunshot that anyone of them had ever heard. Two of the other humans and Scootaloo took aim with their weapons and fired indiscriminately with their weapons.

The fourth human (Wilson), sprinted out from the safety from cover and over to the fallen alicorn. He then picked up her friend and sprinted back behind cover. Rarity was surprised. He had been behaving like Twilight had been one of his comrade in arms!

WIlson carried the fallen pony back behind safety and over to Rarity. Using a pair of trauma shears, he removed Twilight's coat. After a short examination, he looked at Rarity. "Bruising and possible internal bleeding. Can't do anything effective here. We just gotta get her out as soon as possible!" he said. "Watch her." Wilson readied his KRISS and sprinted back behind cover. "Good!"

The other three humans and Scootaloo dropped back into cover and reloaded their weapons. "Get ready to bound twice!" Tran called out.

Eric swapped the magazines in his AK74 and then looked for the source of the mortar fire that he had heard earlier. He quickly found the pink pony and the mortar that she had been using. He pointed at her and yelled, "Hey! Pink horse shit thing!"

Pinkie looked up and directed her attention to Eric. "Pink horse shit thing speaking!" she responded.

Eric paused for a second, dwelling on the pink horse shit thing's response. "Did you adjust since the last salvo and do you have more shells!?" Pinkie nodded and held up a crate of extra mortar shells. "Fire for effect, 10!" Pinkie Pie tilted her head and looked at Eric with a puzzled look. Eric groaned. "Drop 10 shells, then stop. Don't care about where they're landing, just go crazy! Only start when I start firing!"

Pinkie Pie shrugged before answering with, "Okie Dokie!" She set the crate of shells on the ground and picked up four, one in each hoof, one with her tail, and one with her mane. "Ready!"

Eric paused at the sight of her prehensile hair before redirecting his attention back to the battle. He could go ask questions later. "Ready!" Eric called out.

Tran looked at Logan who had switched out his Mosin Nagant with his FNX 45. "We're first!" Tran yelled. Logan nodded. He looked down at Scootaloo. "Ready?" Scootaloo nodded. Tran readied his S&W 500. "Cover!" Wilson and Eric popped up and immediately start firing their guns with wild abandon. Pinkie Pie, upon seeing that Eric had started firing his rifle, dropped a shell down into her mortar.

*THUNK*
*THUNK*

Downrange, every minotaur ducked down as bullet started whizzing over their heads. When they heard the whistle of an incoming mortar shell, they dove down to avoid being sprayed by shrapnel.

Tran and Logan jumped out from behind cover and sprinted forward. Scootaloo, trying her best, followed Tran. Logan and Tran sprinted forward for all of three seconds before diving for cover. Scootaloo would have kept on going if Tran had not grabbed her and pulled her behind the safety cover. Once safely behind cover, Tran and Logan popped up (while making sure their bodies were still somewhat protected by their cover) and started firing their handguns with wild abandon. Scootaloo copied Tran and did the same thing but with her sidearm.

*THUNK*
*THUNK*

"Good!"
"Set!"

"Moving!" Wilson and Eric called out. The two of them jumped out from behind cover and sprinted for dear life. A few seconds passed and they ducked behind whatever cover was nearby. They popped up a few seconds later and started firing their rifles.

"Set!"
"Set!"

*THUNK*
*THUNK*

Every time the minotaurs were ready to start firing again, more mortars or enemy gunfire came down on their position. It was either let them advance or die. A few of them tried to fire in between the breaks in mortar fire but were struck down by stray bullets. Never had any of them experienced anything like this before from such a small group.

"Moving!" Tran and Logan called out. Tran, Logan, and Scootaloo jumped out of cover and sprinted forward, doing exactly what they had done earlier in the first bounding iteration. They only sprinted for a few seconds, like last time, before all three of them dove behind cover. This time, Scootaloo ducked behind cover without needing to be pulled down. Somehow, she was the first one to pop back up and start firing.

"Set!" Scootaloo called out while firing off a shot with her Model 92.

Tran looked at her for a split second before popping up and firing a shot. "Set!" Tran called out. Logan popped up a second later and fire a shot, calling out immediately afterward.

*THUNK*
*THUNK*

"Moving!" Eric and Wilson called out. The two of them immediately jumped out from behind cover and then sprinted forward. While the two of them were the only ones between the five of them (Tran, Wilson, Logan, Eric, and Scootaloo) to have a primary arm with a large magazine (30 or more), the three others could definitely provide enough covering fire with their sidearms. It wasn't ideal but it was clearly working, especially since Pinkie was covering their gaps with her mortar. When the two of them dropped back behind cover, they quickly popped back up and started firing.

"Set!"
"Set!"

*THUNK*
*THUNK*

Eric realized that those last two shells were the last two shells that the pink horse shit thing was supposed to drop. "That was the last shell!" he called out.

"We're close enough!" Tran said. True to his words, they had closed a great amount of the distance between them and their attackers. What was once a 50 yard distance was now only a 10 yard distance. To those that couldn't tell, this was dangerously close. When the minotaurs realized that the mortar fire had stopped, they focused on firing back but their accuracy had degraded heavily.

Tran looked back at the others, finding that the others had closed the distance enough for any further action. Holstering his revolver, he pulled out one of the two M67 frag grenades that he was left with by Discord. Scootaloo did the same and pulled out the stick grenade that she was given earlier. "Wilson!" Tran called out. Wilson, instead of answering, looked over at Tran. He noticed the grenade that Tran was holding and pulled out his own stick grenade after sling his KRISS Vector over his back. "Eric, Logan!" Tran called out.

"Yeah!?" Logan called out.
"What?!" Eric called out.

"Throwing grenade, cover!" Tran called out. Upon hearing that, Eric's fire with his AK74 intensified. Logan, despite firing with a pistol, quickly reloaded his pistol before starting a mag dump.

Wilson, Tran, and Scootaloo pulled the pins to their respective grenades and threw them as hard as they could. Much to her dismay, the grenade that Scootaloo threw landed a couple yards short. On the other hand, Wilson and Tran's grenades landed behind the minotaurs. "Get down!" All four humans immediately dropped down into the safety of their cover while Scootaloo stared at her grenade. Tran immediately grabbed her by the coat and pulled her down to safety, right as the first of the grenades exploded.

*BOOM*
*BOOM*
*BOOM*

Silence.

Tran drew his .500 S&W and popped out from cover. Stepping out from behind cover, he slowly walked towards the minotaurs. The four others did the same and advanced on the minotaurs. Upon moving past the rubble of the fallen brick building that their attackers were hiding behind, they found most of them dead. One of the minotaurs saw the humans and drew a sidearm. In an instant, all four humans and the pony open fired.

Scootaloo's heart was trying to break its way out of her chest. Why would the minotaur even make such an attempt. He should have known that it wouldn't have worked.

Logan kept his pistol trained at the minotaur. "Suicide or dumbass?" he asked.

Wilson snorted. "My bet's on dumbass."

Elsewhere

A griffon nearly dropped his binoculars in disbelief. His uniform, gilded with gold and covered in an astounding number of medals, fluttered in the wind. Looking to his advisor, he barked a few commands before looking back to the battlefield.

-X-X-X-

Twilight, despite having the god of all headaches, looked at the two remaining minotaurs. These two sported a matching set of plate armor as did their dead brethren. This was a war party. "Where is your chief?" she asked. Beside her, the four humans stood beside her for security. When neither answered, Twilight drew her Model 73 and aimed it at one.

The minotaur that she was aiming at shied away. "He's dead!" he answered.

Twilight raised an eyebrow. "I thought war parties surrendered once their leaders was killed."

"We just wanted revenge in his honor!" the minotaur answered.

Twilight pointed at the second red scarf that was hanging off of Tran's belt. "And why was a Jaeger assisting your endeavor? They're always lone fighters!"

"He was ordered to!" the minotaur cried out.

Twilight froze. Jaeger's were nearly the highest ranking members of the griffon military. They were the best aerial combatants in the entire world and had answered only to a handful of others. Some of a Jaeger's superiors would be the Griffon Empire's king, any general of the Griffon Empire's Air Force, and elder Jaegers. Twilight doubted that the griffon king was here and that there were other Jaegers so where was the general? Since the Jaeger was here, they were probably being watched.

-X-X-X-

He pulled out one of his many white feathers and dipped it into an inkwell. Withdrawing the quill, he started writing a letter. "Ready for your message, sir," said the griffon messenger.

In front of the messenger stood the extravagantly uniformed griffon. "Send for two more Jaegers and three squads of dogfighters" said the griffon general. He looked to a nearby advisor. "Any additional thoughts?"

"It might be a good idea to have a couple machine guns accompany the dogfighters, sir," said the advisor.

The general looked back to the messenger. "And four machine guns squads."

-X-X-X-

Twilight found him. The white uniform gilded with gold made it easy to find him with a pair of binoculars. He was so close, but so far away. She looked at her available assets. "Pinkie, do think you can hit him with your Party Cannon?" she asked while pointing at the griffon general. Pinkie Pie looked at the griffon general and shook her head.

Rarity trotted over to her friend. "Forget it, darling. He's too far for anything that we have," said Rarity.

Tran looked at the griffon general. "No he's not," he said. He unslung his rifle and got down into a prone position.

Twilight looked at Tran with an incredulous look. "You're going to try to hit him? With a rifle?!" Tran took off his helmet and nodded. "That's impossible!"

Rarity covered her friend's mouth. "Just let him try, dear."

Tran pulled out a small booklet from his vest and flipped through the pages. "Tell me how far he is and it needs to be as close as you can get it."

Rarity pulled out a map and found the building that the general was on. She looked around for the street they were on and found it. "1040 meters."

Tran looked through his dope cards until he found the right range data. "I don't suppose you know the humidity and temperature?"

Rarity's horn lit up as she casted a spell. "52% and 24 degrees" Rarity answered.

Tran had a mental pause. "I'm not gonna ask why you know that."

Rarity suppressed a giggle. With hair like her's, she needed to know when it was too humid or hot to go outside. "A lady has her secrets, darling."

Tran mentally shrugged. "What about wind speed?" he asked.

Rarity shook her head. "That, I do not know," she answered.

Tran looked around with scope and found a flag, one that most likely belonged to the country that he was in. It was barely flowing and it blew to the east. He would just have to make an estimated guess for the windage. He dialed in the calculations for his scope and closed his eyes. After a short cycle of breathing hard, he opened his eyes.

-X-X-X-

Through his binoculars, the griffon general watched. "What is that thing doing?" he asked.

The advisor, with his own set of binoculars, was also watching them. "It appears to be pointing a rifle in our direction, sir."

"I can see that."

"I think he may be firing at us, sir."

The general paused. "There's no chance of hitting anything at this range."

The two of them saw a flash originating from the muzzle of the creature's rifle. "It appears he fired, sir."

A second later, the general felt pain as his left leg was torn off of his body. He grabbed the bleeding stump as he screamed. "Get me a medic and order a retreat!"

-X-X-X-

Tran ejected the spent casing from his rifle before looking at Twilight, whose jaw had dropped to the ground. "Got him."

War Isn't Hell, There Are No Innocent in Hell

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Spitfire looked at her rifle. She was no longer the same hero that the newspaper portrayed her as. Now, she was only a coward, nothing else. Maybe she should just resign her commission and retire.

But could she really retire? Equestria was at war and her citizens had answered the call. If she decided to stop fighting, she would forever be shunned. If she did continue fighting this war, would she be able to survive? She wasn't even close to being half of the mare that she was at the start of the war, physically or mentally. It was the exact reason why she was no longer a dogfighter. The war's toll was simply more than what she was capable of paying.

And what if she survived? What did she have left after all of this? She wouldn't be able to continue as a Wonderbolt; she'd never be able to perform the same stunts from before. Even then, the Wonderbolts were essentially disbanded and half of the original members were either dead or permanently crippled. What life did she have after this war?

"Ma'am?" Spitfire blinked, then looked at whoever addressed her. It was Rainbow Dash's super-fan. "Are you alright?" the filly asked. Spitfire thought back to the firefight. She did nothing but cower in fear behind cover while this filly was doing what she should have been doing. So young.

Even more impressive were the humans. They fought like they came from the depths of Tartarus. During the entire firefight, they performed like a well-oiled machine. Every aspect of that short incursion, from treating the wounded to dealing with the Jaeger, provided no challenge to them. It was if they had done this like they had practiced it a million times over. There was only four of them but then again, four was clearly more than enough!

Wilson, no doubt that he was the group's medic, was the first human that she had met. He had saved and treated members of the Royal Equestrian Army like they were members of his own military. With that strange rifle of his (if it was a rifle), he provided enough suppressive fire to rival that of a squad. Despite being a medic, he was also clearly capable of causing death to anyone he didn't agree with.

Eric, the least unhinged of the four, played a crucial support role. His rifle, one that was just as alien as Wilson's rifle, was a monster. It was clearly chambered in a round that was several times more powerful than whatever Wilson's rifle was firing. Also, it was he who provided the most effective and accurate covering fire, unlike the mess that Wilson had been putting out. Oh, and he somehow managed to command Pinkie Pie. Pinkie Pie, of all ponies!

Logan, the civilian, was just as capable as his allies. Despite being a civilian (so he claims), he wielded his bolt action rifle with more skill than most veteran soldiers. He also had no difficulty in keeping up with the pace of the firefight and was still able to provide covering fire, despite the deficiencies in weaponry. Unlike some of the ponies, the threat of death didn't faze him; he was acting without any change in behavior.

Then, there was Tran. He was easily the scariest of the four. Not only did he capture a war chief but he had killed two Jaegers! There was also the fact that he managed to land a bullet into a target from a kilometer away! Both of his weapons were beyond excessive, as evident from the fact that both seemed to ignore body armor, and he was clearly skilled with them. To be able to control the recoil of that hand cannon and the ability to shoot something from a kilometer away meant unimaginable hours of practice.

If only she could fight with a degree of lethality or fearlessness as any of those four. Countless times throughout the war, her cowardice had cost lives. At the start of this horrible conflict, she was a Wing Commander of an aerial combat company; she eventually shifted to being a commander of an infantry company after she could no longer keep up with the requirements of being a dogfighter. No matter what type of company she commanded, she was responsible for a selection of soldiers.

And every time she had been put in command of new soldiers, they would die. Pointless assaults, raids and battles against a nearly undefeatable enemy lead to more and more casualties. The death toll piled and piled up, a good number of them being the fault of her poor command.

"Stop that."

Spitfire blinked and looked up; the human's medic was standing in front of her. "What?"

The medic repeated himself. "Stop that."

Spitfire frowned. "Stop what?" she asked.

The medic crossed his arms and, despite the short stature, managed to look frighteningly imposing. "I know what you're thinking about, so stop it."

Her frown deepened. "And what are you insinuating?"

"That look of depression and despair. You're thinking about how you're responsible for the deaths of other people because you did or didn't do something." Spitfire went wide-eyed. How did he know what she was thinking? "I've seen that look enough times to recognize it anywhere."

Spitfire averted her gaze from the human. "They died under my command."

The medic's demeanor went from frightening to brotherly, something that she could recognize despite the difference in species. "This is war. People die no matter what you do. No matter how prepared the plan is, it will always go to hell once shit hits the fan." Spitfire kept staring at the ground. How would he know? "I'm a medic. It is literally my job to deal with the aftermath. In the wars I've experienced, I've seen the same thing over and over again."

Spitfire's looked back at the medic, eyes wide. Did he really just say 'wars', as in multiple? "Yes. I said wars, as in multiple," said the medic. Okay, is he reading her mind? "And no, I'm not reading your mind. You're just easier to read than a children's book." Spitfire frowned. No, she wasn't! "Yes, you are that easy to read."

Spitfire's frowned grew. The medic snorted in response before walking away.

-X-X-X-

Twilight kept her eyes on the human. Her subconsciousness kept her in a state of uneasiness at the sight of the human's face. There was no doubt about it, he was supposed to be a predator. It also didn't help that he didn't fit the description of any of the known species of this planet; nor did it help that she didn't know what their goals were.

And his lips were moving. Wait, that means he's speaking. "-Do next?," said the human.

She blinked a few times to regain her thought process. "I'm sorry, could you say that again?" Twilight asked.

The human raised an eyebrow for a second before repeating himself. "I said, you're in charge of this outfit. What do you want to do now?"

Twilight was surprised at what he had said. He was willing to respect her authority? "There's nothing else left to do but rendezvous with the rest of the assault team," Twilight said.

The human's face kept the same blank look on it. "I don't mean this as an insult but are you used to working behind a desk?" he asked. Twilight froze. How'd he know that? "I'll take that as a yes."

This was the moment Spitfire walked up to the pair. "Ma'am, I believe it's time to prepare for the march back." Twilight honestly had no idea what to do. She opened her mouth to speak but closed it a second later, realizing that she had nothing to say.

The human looked at Twilight and then back to Spitfire. "Check on the wounded and determine whether they're in any condition to be moved." Spitfire nodded and ran off. He looked back to Twilight. "Is there any way to contact that assault team that you've mentioned?" Twilight nodded. "How long would it take?"

Twilight lit up her horn as she attempted to cast a spell but a sharp pain filled her head. She instantly stopped accessing her magic as she knew that she would still have to suffer from the aftereffects of having her magic overloaded. "It can be done almost instantly with a spell but I can't cast at the moment. My friend can do it though." Twilight looked around in the general area for Rarity but ended up with nothing. "I'll look for her and have her do that."

He kept the same lack of emotion on his face. Did he ever show emotion? "Good, I'm going to perform a few checks with my fellow soldiers."

-X-X-X-

Wilson was treating various minor injuries on Logan. Being the only one in the group to not have been wearing any real equipment or gear during the ordeal, he had suffered from quite a number of scrapes and scratches. "Fuck, that hurts!" Logan yelled as Wilson yanked a small rock that was embedded in his arm.

Wilson snorted. "Maybe you should be wearing more than just a fucking hoodie and jeans!"

Wilson removed another piece of foreign matter from Logan's arm, causing him to jerk his arm away in pain. "Wasn't my choice!" He presented his arm again.

As the two of them argued, Eric simply smoked a cigarette. Smoke 'em if you got 'em, right? He saw Tran walking towards him and fished out his cigarettes. "Want one?"

Tran looked at the cigarettes and shook his head. "How much ammo did you use up?"

Eric looked down at the mag that was currently seated in his rifle. "So far or in that last firefight?"

"So far."

"For the rifle, all but one mag. For the .357, all but a fourth."

Tran looked over to Wilson and Logan. "How about you two?"

Wilson paused in treating Logan's injuries. "Three fourths," Wilson answered before he continued working on Logan's scrapes.

"Half of the Mosin ammo and and everything for the peashooter." Logan eyed the KRISS Vector and the Glock. "Those fire the same round?"

Wilson nodded. "Uses the same magazines, too."

Logan then realized what caliber of ammunition was loaded in Wilson's magazines. "10mm? Are those the twenty-five round magazines?"

"Thirty," Wilson corrected.

"There are thirty round 10mm magazines?"

Wilson finished up on Logan's treatment, finishing off with a set of bandages to cover the light wounds. "If you use a .45 extension kit on the 10mm glock magazines, yes," Wilson answered. Wilson looked over at Tran. "You?"

Tran tightened his grip on his rifle's sling. "I have a dozen rounds left for the .338, ten for the .500, and-" Tran drew the Colt Walker. "Fourteen for this."

Logan held back a laugh. "Well, if you run out of ammo, that thing would make a good club."

Tran holstered the Colt Walker, keeping the same dead look on his face. He then immediately turned around. Now, he was facing the pony that had been attempting to sneak up on him.

"Hiya!" Pinkie Pie greeted. Balancing on her back was a pair of ammunition cans. Strangely enough, the ammo cans were not the wooden crates that the Equestrian military used; Instead, both of them were metal and green. Somehow, both of them were the same ammo cans that the US military would use. "I have a surprise for you!"

And then, using her tail, she lifted the two ammo cans off of her back and set them down on the ground. Tran kept the same emotionless look on his face. "Okay." Tran kneeled down and opened up one of the cans. Inside was a large amount of handgun ammunition; ammunition meant for the four's sidearms. Hell, there were even some paper cartridges for the Colt Walker.

Wilson walked over to the ammo can and looked inside. "How in the fuck?" he asked as a headache formed.

Eric walked over and grabbed some ammunition. "Pink horse shit thing magic."

Logan walked over and restocked himself with some pistol ammunition. "I'm not gonna complain."

Tran picked up the other ammo can and opened it up. Inside this one was ammunition for the three's rifles (Wilson did not have a rifle and refilled his supply from the other can). The four of them emptied the contents of the two ammo cans, filling whatever magazines/speedloaders/clips while pocketing whatever loose rounds were left. Now, they easily had double the amount of ammunition that they started with.

Wilson looked at the can full of ammunition. "Where the fuck did you get this?" he asked.

Pinkie's smile grew. "A little birdie left it to me to give to you," she answered.

"Was the asshole's name Discord?" Wilson asked in response.

"Maybe."

Wilson looked at Tran. "Can I sedate her?" he asked.

Tran thought about it. "No."

Pinkie Pie, copying Tran, then immediately turned around. Now, she was facing the pony that was walking up to the five of them. "Hi Spitfire!"

"We have good news and we have bad news," Spitfire announced.

"Good news first," Tran said.

"Well, the injured are definitely in a condition to be moved and we were able to get in contact with the assault team that we mentioned," Spitfire said.

"The bad news?" Tran asked.

"Well..."

Wilson ground his teeth. "Out with it, you cunt!"

"The assault team was given rerouting orders so we're on our own."

War Is What Happens When Communication Fails

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Spitfire waited for a response from the humans. Just how badly would they react? Tran shrugged. "It's not the worst possible news." Everyone, from the prisoners to the other humans, stared at Tran.

"Are you fucking insane?" Wilson asked. Tran nodded. "I meant more so than usual!"

Tran shrugged again. "What was the purple desk jockey's take on this?"

The what? "Who?" Spitfire asked.

"The one that thought charging straight towards the enemy was a good idea."

Spitfire thought about it for a second. "You mean Princess Twilight Sparkle?"

Wilson looked at Spitfire. "That's her name?! That is the worse name I've ever heard of.”

"Ahem."

Wilson looked dead into the purple pony princess's pupils. "You have the worst name I've ever heard of."

Spitfire stepped in front of Wilson. "The assault team was given rerouting orders."

Some of Twilight's mane hairs shot up, giving her a frazzled look. "What."

Spitfire cringed. "All able soldiers are being rounded for an immediate offensive against remaining retreating enemy forces."

Twilight ground her teeth together in a painfully calm fashion. "Who put out the orders? I personally put out the orders for this assault team! Nopony has authority over me!" She ran a hoof through her mane while sighing. "I hate bureaucracy."

Tran shrugged. "It comes with the military life. Can you radio in for an escort?"

Twilight rubbed the sides of her head to lessen the pain of her headaches. "If assuming that radio means contact, maybe but I don't think Rarity's trace will be able to get any responses. She technically has no command."

Tran raised an eyebrow. "Trace?"

Twilight looked at the human with an incredulous look. Everypony knew what trace was! Then, she realized that this thing wasn't a pony. "Everypony has a unique magical signature, a trace as we call it. It's impossible to replicate a pony's trace and identifying a trace is relatively fast and simple." And her trace commanded a lot of power. If she was able to get a message through, she could get anything she wanted. However, the pain from her magic's feedback reminded her that this would be a difficult endeavor and could risk an even longer recovery. Hell, she could even fall into a coma.

But screw it, this was an emergency. "You know what? I'll send the message myself, magical feedback or not." She dug through her pockets, pulling out a small roll of paper and a parchment.

Wilson stared at the massive feather. "A quill?"

Twilight nodded. "How else am I gonna write a message?" she asked while fishing out an inkwell from her pocket.

Wilson raised an eyebrow. "So you don't have pens or pencils?"

Twilight snorted. "Of course we do! I just prefer quills."

Wilson frowned. "Nope, I don't need to think about this," he said as he walked away. "My blood pressure is high enough as it is." And he was gone.

Twilight quickly wrote a short message down (Wilson's blood pressure skyrocketed upon seeing the pony write with the quill in her mouth) on the parchment before setting it on the ground. With as much caution as possible, she tapped into her pool of magic. Her horn lit up in its usual lavender glow and seconds later, the paper started to glow. She closed her eyes as sweat started to form on her head. Slowly, the written words vanished from the paper. After holding the spell for what she thought was long enough, the glow from Twilight's horn stopped abruptly.

"So how do we tell if it worked?" asked Eric.

Twilight opened her eyes and looked at the parchment. When she noticed that written words were no longer present on the parchment, she cracked a smile. "It most definitely worked. Otherwise, the parchment would have spontaneously combusted."

"Well, that's one way to notify a failure." Eric rolled up one of his sleeves, revealing a wrist watch. "So how long do you supposed it'll take?"

Twilight picked up the paper and rolled it back up before stowing it back in her pocket. "I honestly have no idea."

A Few Minutes Later

Thousands upon thousands of rifles, carbines, machine guns, and pistols were aimed at the four humans, the captured war chief, two captured minotaurs, and one dead Jaeger. Slowly turning to look at Twilight, Tran maintained the same dead look that he had been giving her since meeting her. "Exactly what did you tell them in that message?"

Twilight let out a sheepish smile. "Nothing too serious."

A Few Minutes Earlier In The 5th Ground Division's Main Communication Center

A simple comms pony received a magically sent message. This wasn't a rare occurrence; a counter-offensive was being prepared so this was expected. However, the comms pony definitely didn't recognize the magical trace of the message's sender. Doing the right thing, the comms pony simply asked a sergeant for help.

Unfortunately, that sergeant wasn't able to recognize the trace either so he asked a nearby officer to check the note. The nearby officer (a captain) recognized the magical trace as belonging to Field Marshal Princess Twilight Sparkle.

Engaged war party and Jaeger. Three injured including self. Captured war chief, two party members, and Jaeger killed. Send help. Coordinates 043.7 by 13.9

The captain instantly noticed that the note was written in the Field Marshal Princess's mouth writing instead of her horn writing. She also noticed that the message wasn't written in the way that the Field Marshal Princess's standard message writing format and deduced that the Field Marshal Princess (such a mouthful) was in such a bad state that she needed help this instant!

That nearby captain also happened to be the OIC (Officer In Charge) of the communication center and instantly brought the message to the attention of every single pony above the rank of major. Within a matter of seconds, the counteroffensive was canceled and every single able-bodied pony was sent to the Field Marshal Princess's location.

-X-X-X-

Tran looked at Twilight. "You're lying, aren't you?"

If War Is the Answer Then We Are Asking the Wrong Question

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With the hundreds of armed escorts, the trip back to Fort Platinum was uneventful. Once the four humans had finally stepped foot inside the fort, ponies had swarmed around them to see what the scourge of the griffon and minotaur army looked like. Who cared about the war party or the war chief that they had captured; these four were far more interesting.

Some thought that they were minotaurs in disguise due to their tall and bipedal nature. The rest were more focused on their weapons. Specifically, they were focused on the fact that they were allowed to have their weapons. If the rumors were true, those four were capable of taking on anything and winning. What's stopping them from taking on the Equestrian Army?

But

They had saved the lives of many ponies, wiped out several of the biggest threats to the Equestrian military, and had taken out one of the griffon's generals. Perhaps they were truly on their side.

For now.

Twilight had then taken over a conference/briefing room (much to the dismay of several officers who were currently using it) and everyone important sat down inside at the table. In terms of Equestrians, Twilight, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, and Spitfire were the only ones in there. Outside of the conference room, on the other hand, hundreds of ponies of varying ranks and positions were quietly listening in. On the human end of the spectrum, Tran, Eric, Wilson, and Logan had made themselves home inside the room. They had removed their helmets and had their rifles sitting on the conference table inside the room.

"I honestly have no idea in the terms of what to do with the four of you," Twilight started. All four of them had essentially poofed into existence and their species was entirely unknown. The four of them couldn't be left to wander on their own. There'd be hell to pay, especially with a war going on. "I doubt this has ever happened before in Equestrian history."

"But we cannot simply leave you on your lonesomes and we'd like to give our thanks," Rarity added in.

All four humans shared looks with each other. "So now what?" Logan asked.

"We'll have to migrate the four of you to a safer town or city. Once there, we'll try to figure out how to deal with your situation," Twilight explained.

The four humans looked amongst each other before looking back to Twilight. "It'll do," Tran said.

Rarity smiled. "Do try to keep out of trouble! While we appreciate the help the four of you have given us, the four of you are still a bit... Alien to everypony."

Tran shrugged. "No promises."

Rarity shrugged in response to Tran's shrug. "Well, at least you tried your best." Rarity's dug through her coat and pulled out several pieces of paper. "I'll start on finding the four of you a barracks room to accommodate you."

Elsewhere in Fort Platinum

A particularly unimportant REA captain sat at his measly desk in a small room in a nondescript building, looking at various field reports and maps. He was simply the commanding officer of a small infantry company. Most of his day involved dealing with paperwork and dancing around bureaucracy. In the grand scheme of things, he didn't play too much of a crucial role.

The door to his office was bucked open and the smallest of small soldiers walked into the office. Both her worn uniform and her slung weapon were covered in grime and lightly damaged, unacceptable in normal situations. The captain immediately recognized her as one of the soldiers under his command, one that had been part of a patrol that had been sent out in the morning of this day. The captain checked his watch and looked back at her. "What are you doing here and where the hell is the rest of your squad?"

Scootaloo suppressed a growl as she dug through a pouch from her gear and pulled out several flag patches. The captain picked up one blood stained flag patch and immediately dropped it back down after he read whose name was stenciled into it. He dug through the other flag patches and recognized the other names among them. He pushed every flag patch to one corner of his desk and closed his eyes. "Dismissed for...I'll send somepony to retrieve you if you're needed."

-X-X-X-

Rainbow Dash shifted in her sleep.

"Wake up you flightless chicken!" yelled a rather lively voice (a barely suppressed giggle followed).

Rainbow shot up from her bed. "Who are you calling a flightless chicken?!" she demanded whilst reaching for her sidearm. When her hoof met nothing, she looked down at herself. Her uniform, her gear, and most importantly, her gun was missing.

Applejack chortled for a short instant. "Ah told yah that'd wake her up." Applejack was currently occupying her own bed. Her right leg, the one that had been hit with a bullet, was currently bound by several rolls of gauze and bandages.

Looking around, Rainbow Dash found herself in an infirmary bed (again) and surrounded by her five best friends. She jumped into the air and attempted to hover in the air. A second later, she face planted into her bed. Apparently, she could no longer feel her wings.

"And ah told yah that'd be the first thing she'd do."

Rarity rolled her eyes at Applejack. "Darling, all of us knew she would try to fly."

Rainbow Dash looked at her feathery appendages. "What's wrong with my wings?!" She tried to flap them with as much effort that she could muster but they stayed against her sides. A yellow hoof appeared in Rainbow Dash's vision and it jabbed her in the side, causing a slight jolt of pain to shoot through her body. "Ow!"

Fluttershy drew her hoof back. "Some of your ribs are broken, Rainbow. I had to administer a paralytic that only affected your wings."

Rainbow Dash froze for a short moment. "What?!"

Fluttershy sighed. "Flying is only gonna slow down the healing process so I had to do it."

"But, wings! Flying!" Everypony present, minus Rainbow Dash, facehoofed.

Twilight was the first to recover. "Anyways, there's an issue that I'd like to address with the two of you."

Rainbow looked at herself. "Two?"

Twilight eyed Applejack. "Both of you keep ignoring orders and running off on your own to do your own thing. And the only reason anypony lets you do this is because I let it." Applejack and Rainbow Dash shared a look. Both of them knew this was gonna be bad. "So now, both of you are being restationed."

"And what's stopping us from just fighting on ahr own?!" Applejack asked.

Rarity and Twilight looked at each other. "Literally, the entire Royal Equestrian Army," Rarity said.

Applejack narrowed her eyes. "Yer gonna do that to us, your best friends?"

Rarity frowned. "Yes, especially to keep our best friends alive."

Applejack looked down at her hoof. "Yah make a good point there. So are we just gonna sit on ahr flanks all day until the war ends?"

Rarity smiled. "Of course not! Both of you will be providing guard duty to some VIPs in Ponyville."

"Who?" Applejack asked.

Rarity and Twilight shared a mischievous look.

-X-X-X-

Rainbow Dash knocked on a door. No answer. Rainbow stepped out of the way as Applejack bucked down the door with her one good hoof. Applejack immediately found a saber on her throat. "How rude," said Prince Blueblood.

You Only See What I Choose to Show You

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Rainbow eyed the sword at her friend's throat and growled. "What are you doing here?" she demanded.

Blueblood harrumphed. "While it's none of your business, I have been instructed to supervise some military VIPs."

Applejack still felt the saber on her throat. "And we were told tah protect some VIPS." She gently pushed the saber away with her right hoof.

Blueblood realized his mistake and pulled the saber away. "Apologies." He returned the saber to its scabbard, the one attached to his side. He reached into his pocket with his telekinesis and opened it up. After a few seconds of perusing it, he stuck it back into the same pocket. "Have either of you been told who your charges are?"

"No," Rainbow Dash replied. "We were just told to meet them here."

Blueblood raised an eye at her statement. He also hadn't been given the description of what the VIPs he had been instructed to supervise. All he knew was that they were given the very room he was standing in. Just who were these VIPs? "I'll be taking my leave now."

He had started making his way towards the door but stopped when he heard hoof steps. Yes, hoof steps. The ones in question were only dropped one hoof at a time, therefore minotaurs. He could tell that there were four of them and oddly enough, their steps were very muffled. Were they wearing horseshoes instead of pads?

He unsheathed his sword and prepared himself. Why were there four minotaurs walking by themselves in this barracks?

"What are you doing now?" Rainbow asked.

"Shhh," Blueblood said.

Rainbow stared at the mad prince and his actions. Her ears twitch when she heard the familiar sound voice of a very strange somepony she had met.

"I think this is the room." Immediately following that, the door to the room was opened. Blueblood immediately threw his saber towards the throat of the newcomer, in a fashion identical to what he had done to Applejack. In an impressive feat of agility, Blueblood's saber was stopped midair when a gloved hand caught the handle.

All four newcomers drew their sidearms and aimed it at the offending stallion. "Nice catch," Eric said.

Applejack looked at Blueblood. Despite having four firearms aimed at him, he kept his composure. "I'm surprised you aren't pissin your pants right now," Applejack commented.

Blueblood snorted. "And why would I be?"

Applejack chuckled and took a glance at his choice of wear. He was wearing a crisp, official-looking dress uniform of the Royal Equestrian Army. It was the type of uniform one would never wear in real combat. Technically, all soldiers were supposed to wear the dress uniform when not in combat but no one upheld the rule. "Just a hunch that yer a mite wet behin the ears."

"Wet behind the ears!?"

Wilson let out an irritated sigh. "You're carrying a fucking sword! Who the fuck uses a sword?!"

Tran looked at the sword that he was still holding and threw it towards Blueblood. "Think fast."

Blueblood's eyes widened and he lit up his horn. A foot before the sword would have struck him, he caught it with his magic. "Are you insane?!"

Tran, without a second thought, replied, "Yes." He holstered his revolver a second later; The other three did the same and holstered their respective sidearms. "And you, should not be running around swinging a sword, willy nilly."

Rainbow Dash snickered. "So, what are you bucks doing here?"

"Your illustrious leader has arranged for us to stay in Equestria as some kind of military VIPs. Apparently, we're assessing whether your nation should be provided with foreign military assistance."

Applejack and Rainbow Dash looked at each other. "Figure they'd do somethin like this," Applejack said.

Blueblood looked at the four humans. "So just who might you four be?"

Tran was gonna answer but he looked to Logan. Logan smiled and looked to Blueblood. "Americans."

Applejack raised an eyebrow. Americans? That was an odd name. "So now what?" Applejack asked.

Rainbow Dash yanked Tran's S&W Model 500 out of its holster. "I want to give this thing a try!"

Tran looked at the daft pegasus for a second before reaching out with a hand to take back his revolver. "Mayhaps."

Blueblood looked aghast. "We can't just run off and shoot guns!"

Logan raised an eyebrow. "We're Americans. That's literally the only thing we do."

-X-X-X-

Immediately upon entering the nearest shooting range, all gunfire stopped. It wasn't an everyday occurrence for four humans to suddenly walk in unannounced, escorted by one of the most famous dogfighters of the war and the cowgirl of the Equestrian Army. A few ponies noticed Prince Blueblood but most of the attention went to the other six.

Elsewhere

Fluttershy looked up from the medical chart she was reading. "Hmm." Her left ear twitched. And then it twitched twice more. "Oh no."

-X-X-X-

Rainbow Dash looked down the sights of Tran's S&W Model 500 in her right hoof. Attached to the revolver was a small trigger mechanism that was designed to be attached to griffon firearms so that ponies could fire said guns; Without any modifications, it was found that it could be attached to human weapons in the same fashion. Despite every humans' attempts to persuade the pegasus, she had insisted on shooting it with just one hoof. Applejack, Prince Blueblood, the four humans, and everypony else at the range watched the mad pegasus as she was about to be taught a very important lesson.

Before she could fire it, a yellow pegasus dropped in from the sky behind her. "Wait!" Fluttershy screamed. Rainbow Dash pulled the trigger to the revolver.

*BANG*

It came as no surprise when the revolver shot out of Rainbow Dash's single hoof from the recoil and straight towards her forehead.

*BAM*

Everypony cringed as the cyan pegasus hit the ground. Rainbow Dash raised her head and looked around. "Did anyone get the license plate of that carriage?" She went unconscious.

Schadenfreude

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In the military, there exists such a place where the hopes and dreams of soldiers disappear upon visiting. This place, it has many names but most call it the armorY. Yes, the armorY. Yes, we are talking about the place where all of the weapons/rifles/pistols/etc. are stored.

If you're wondering how the armorY is the metaphorical "black hole" of positive attitude, well, you're clearly new or have never served a second in the military. Even if you're the armorER (the hermit who works, runs, and lives in this "black hole"), any and all motivation that you've had has been rendered moot. It isn't a fast process either. The snail-like pace that the armorY normally runs at makes it that much more agonizing.

And how does the process of sucking away your happiness work? Well, here's some foresight into it. To check a weapon (let's go with a rifle for this example) out of the armorY, one does not simply go to the armorY and grab their rifle before casually walking away. No, the only person that can enter the armorY is the armorER. So, if you want to check out your rifle for duty, you must follow a certain process.

First, you must wait for the armorY to actually open and for that to happen, the armorER must open the armorY. Even if there is a sign posted that specifically states when the armorY is open or when the armorER is in, you have to show up half an hour to a full hour early to witness this. Otherwise, it may never open. Then there's this little tidbit. Even if the armorY is open or the armorER is in, you may not be able to check out your rifle because there might be certain criteria to actually check out or receive your rifle.

Once the armorY is open and the armorER is in (and you meet any criteria), you may finally receive/check out your rifle! Wait, no. I'm wrong. Why? Well, you have to wait for the armorER to actually find your rifle. That can't take too long, right? Well... Everyone gets issued a rifle, right? There are many like it, but... There are many like it. THERE ARE MANY LIKE IT!!! There's gonna be many copies of the same rifle on the same rifle rack that its on. You can pray that your rifle is on the first position of the first rifle rack but upon doing that, you've jinxed the process. Thus your rifle is on the last position of the last rifle rack that the armorER checks. This process is made even slower by the fact that the only thing that differentiates the rifles is the serial number, to which the armorER has to check one by one. The more weapons the armorY holds, the longer it takes. Once you finally have your rifle, you must sign some paperwork (the bane of literally everyone's existence) and you can march along your merry way.

So now that you have your rifle, what do you do? You can finally leave this forsaken place forever! Oh wait, you have to return later to turn in your rifle...
If you thought checking out your rifle took a long time...

Starting off, you can't turn your rifle back in if it's dirty. There is a standard that has to be kept! If you checked out your rifle and fired it, you're in for a painstakingly long process. Why? Obviously, you have to clean off the carbon that accumulates on it after a round has been fired. Carbon results from the gunpowder discharging and since this is such a violent and instant process, carbon can be found literally anywhere inside of the rifle. No matter the amount of time spent cleaning, the armorER will always find a spot that you've missed.

Eventually, the armorER has deemed that your rifle is clean and you can finally leave! But remember, you're gonna come back eventually (which is tomorrow in most cases).

What does all of this have to do with anything?

Well, the griffon army had launched a massive offensive that was forcefully ended short when too many members of their upper chain-of-command were killed. In the ensuing defense of Baltimare, literally all combat and combat-capable support personnel had fired their weapon at some point in the battle. While most of the combat personnel had to stay on guard/duty/watch in case the griffons launched an additional counter-offensive, the support personnel would have to go back to performing their intended roles.

But to do that, they first have to turn their weapons back into the armorY...

Somewhere in the 5th Ground Division's headquarters, there was an armorY. This armorY was special. Why? Well, it was the largest armorY in Baltimare! It was capable of storing 1000 firearms and could withstand direct artillery fire! Usually, armorIES were assigned two armorERS. In this case, there was only one assigned armorER.

One armorER? For the largest armorY in Baltimare? What kind of idiot decided that this was a good idea?

Well... The Baltimare sector wasn't exactly brimming with extra soldiers, especially after fighting off the griffons. On top of that, being an armorER wasn't a job that you started out immediately with. It was a position, one that required a good amount of extra training. On top of that, many consider it to be one of the most dreadfully boring positions in the military. You had to deal with other ponies's weapons, the paperwork of dealing with other ponies' weapons, and the fact that you'll be spending the rest of your life in a sealed room made of concrete with no ventilation.

Yeah... Volunteering to be an armorER usually didn't happen. Most are forced into the position.

The armorER for the largest armorY in Baltimare was a light blue earth pony with a brown mane and tail. He was a sergeant so he had a decent amount of leeway when it came to doing what he wanted, but he'd have ultimate power once he enters his realm.

This pony was a member of a very rare minority. You see, he actually volunteered to be an armorER! What in the world would compel someone to do such a thing? Mental disparity? Self-hate? Masochism?

Nope, none of that nonsense.

You see, this pony had a very unique talent. His cutie mark was a slightly tilted painting. What special talent would such a cutie mark represent? His special talent, specifically, is finding all of the little nuances and pet peeves that really set people off, just enough, and hitting almost all of them. And then thoroughly enjoying the outcome.

...

His name, Schadenfreude, is rather fitting.

What was he doing right now? Well, Sergeant Schadenfreude was currently sitting at a desk, surrounded by empty weapon racks, cleaning a revolver. By "cleaning a revolver," he was actually just sitting there with the pieces to a revolver on his desk. If someone came by, he could claim he was cleaning it so that he wouldn't have to help someone clean their weapon if they needed help.

In every armorY, there was only one exit. This exit had two doors. One door was a massive vault-like door that could secure the armorY if needed while the other was a door that could be separated in an upper and lower half. The lower half of the door had a board attached to it, making it also usable as a table. If you wanted to get your weapon checked in, you had to approach the door.

Just so happens, a pony came by. He was clearly a member of the Royal Army and he was currently carrying a rifle (bolt action).

Schadenfreude noticed the pony and smiled. "Yes?"

The pony in question set his rifle down on the lower half of the 2nd door. "Do you have any cleaning oil?"

Schadenfreude's smile grew.

He opened up a drawer on his desk and retrieved a small plastic bottle. He tossed it to the pony and then returned his attention to his desk, where he picked up a piece of the disassembled revolver to act like he was doing something.

The soldier caught the bottle and promptly left. Once out of view, Schadenfreude looked up and started to mentally countdown. 'Five. Four. Three. Two. One.'

The soldier had walked back, holding up the small plastic bottle. "This bottle is nearly empty," he said.

Schadenfreude leaned on his desk, both hooves propping up his head. "But is it completely empty?"

"No, but-"

"Then clean your rifle," Schadenfreude said before continuing to 'clean' his revolver.

-X-X-X-

Another pony came up to the door. This pony had a very noticeable distinction between him and the other enlisted ponies, he was an officer. Specifically, he was a lieutenant, 2nd grade. From what Schadenfreude guessed, this officer was new.

Being an officer didn't make him immune. "Yes sir?" Schadenfreude said, addressing him.

The officer unslung a rifle off of his back and drew a revolver, placing both of them on the table/door. "I'd like to turn in my weapons," said the officer.

Schadenfreude stood up. "I'll be right there, sir." Schadenfreude walked right over to the entrance and picked up the revolver. "It's still dirty. I'm afraid I can't accept this, sir."

"You haven't even checked it!" exclaimed the officer.

A smile appeared on Schadenfreude's face as he picked up the rifle and set it down inside the armorY before grabbing the revolver and quickly disassembling it. The cylinder was separated from the frame and the grip plates were separated from the grips. Schadenfreude then picked up the cylinder and pointed it down on the table/door. In the blink of an eye, he slammed it down on the table/door and watched as solidified carbon fell out of the cylinder.

Schadenfreude looked at the solidified carbon and then at the officer. Smiling, Schadenfreude picked up the frame of the revolver and handed it back to the officer. "Right, I'll be on my way then," said the officer. The officer, revolver in hoof, started to walk away.

Schadenfreude's shit-eating grin grew as he looked at the pieces that belonged to the revolver that the officer had forgotten about. "Sir!" Schadenfreude called out.

A few seconds later, the officer returned. "Yes?" the officer responded. Schadenfreude held up the revolver cylinder that the officer had forgotten about. "Oh. Whoops." The officer took the cylinder and went on his way.

Schadenfreude looked at the revolver's grips that he still had possession of. He couldn't call the officer back right away. No, he had to wait until the officer had traveled a decent distance. After the officer had left Schadenfreude's view, he called out again. "Sir!"

The officer returned, revolver still in hoof. "What?" he said, clearly irritated. Schadenfreude held up ONE of the two grip plates in front of the officer to see. "Oh." He took the grip plate and once again, left the vicinity of the armorY.

Schadenfreude looked at the other grip plate that the officer had forgotten about. He waited a few seconds and once again, called out. "Sir!"

A few seconds later, the officer returned. "What did I forget this time?" the officer demanded. Schadenfreude held up the second grip plate. "Oh for fuck's sake. I thought I already grabbed that!"

Schadenfreude removed the smile from his face. It wasn't that his enjoyment was being ruined. It was more so that he could continue without punishment. "They come in pairs, sir," said Schadenfreude.

The officer, whose face was showing the signs of angered frustration, took the grip plate. "Is that everything that I need for my sidearm?" the officer asked.

"Yes sir, that would indeed be everything that belongs to your revolver, sir," said Schadenfreude with as much false politeness that he could muster. The officer stuffed the grip plate in his pocket and walked away from the armorY, for the fourth time today.

Schadenfreude hadn't lied. There was nothing from the officer's revolver that he had forgotten...

Schadenfreude looked at the rifle that the officer had forgotten and smiled again.

-X-X-X-

There was a line of ponies waiting at the only entrance to the armorY.

How did he miss that? That's easy, he was "focused" on "cleaning" a revolver.

Why did no one ask for his help? Well, the ponies in line actually had been calling for his help.

Why didn't Schadenfreude respond? Well, he might have been wearing earplugs.

Oh, but anyone who has ever worn earplugs knows that it only muffles some of the sounds. True, but Schadenfreude might have also been wearing ear muffs in addition to the earplugs and these ear muffs might have been designed for artillery crew members.

Oh but he eventually has to look up, right? Well, he was REALLY “focused” on “cleaning” a revolver.

-X-X-X-

Schadenfreude picked up his daisy sandwich and took a bite out of it. It was his lunch break damn it and he was going to enjoy it! Especially so if ponies were waiting in line at the armorY’s door!

“Come on, we just need our rifles!” yelled one of the ponies in the line.

Schadenfreude took another bite out of his sandwich.

-X-X-X-

Someone approached the door to his armorY. Not somePONY, someONE. When Schadenfreude noticed the person, he almost drew his sidearm. Schadenfreude had nearly mistaken the person for a minotaur but had noticed the small features that made him think otherwise.

From the rumors that were being spread, Schadenfreude guessed that he was probably one of those humans that everypony was talking about. What was he doing here?

Schadenfreude walked up to the door and quickly looked him over. The grey splotchy uniform was definitely something that you’d immediately notice, as with the height. Then, he noticed the massive scoped rifle slung on his back. The titanic revolver/hand cannon strapped to his hip was also another surprise.

What exactly did he need? “Yes?” Schadenfreude asked. The human, at first, ignored Schadenfreude. Instead of paying attention to the pony, the human was just looking at the items that littered and lined the inside of the armorY.

The human snapped out of it and stared directly into Schadenfreude’s eyes. “I’m gonna need a bore brush for a shotgun and a .45 Peacemaker and some cleaning oil”, said the human.

Schadenfreude thought about his options. Should he try to push the human’s buttons? Of course! The question was, how could he go about doing it? This was a creature that he had never seen nor interacted with before. This was going to be a challenge.

Schadenfreude walked over to where he kept his cleaning supplies, grabbing the requested items. Since his name wasn’t charity, he chose the most worn brushes and a nearly empty bottle of cleaning oil (just like earlier). Schadenfreude brought the cleaning supplies to the door and gave them to the human.

After the human left, Schadenfreude started to wait. Any minute now, the human would return. Any minute now. And any minute now. Any minute now...

An hour later, the human returned. Held in his left hand were the cleaning supplies that he been given. Both of the bore brushes looked even more used and for some reason, the bottle of oil was still present. Then, the human said, “Thank you for the brushes, they were very useful.”

Schadenfreude froze for a second. He had been helpful? Since when did that ever happen? “They weren’t too worn for you to use?”

The human drew the titan-of-a-revolver that he carried before dropping the cylinder and exposing its shiny chambers. “The worn state of that shotgun bore brush was perfect for my revolver.”

Schadenfreude stared at the excessively large chambers of the revolver. “And you had no qualms with the amount of oil that I gave you?” Schadenfreude asked.

The human gently closed the cylinder of his revolver and holstered it. “Most people use too much oil when cleaning their guns”, he said.

Schadenfreude blinked. He had one hope left. Schadenfreude walked up to the human and stood up on his hind legs, making him eye level with the human. Leaning forward, he stated one simple word. “Moist.”

Nothing on the human’s face showed that he had even registered what Schadenfreude had said.

*Boop*

Schadenfreude’s nose scrunched when the human’s oily fingers touched his nose. The surprise had caused him to lean backwards leading to Schadenfreude falling over onto his back.

There Never Was a Good War or a Bad Peace

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Ponyville, a small town that played a much bigger role to the war effort than what most would realize. Along with Dodge City, Ponyville was a major meeting hub of supplies and troops before it was shipped off to the frontlines. This made her a recognized target for pretty much everything. Sabotage, theft, gun running, smuggling, things that were normally frowned upon was now commonplace. If Discord was still alive, he would have been proud.

So naturally, all four humans were temporarily relocated there... Because of course!

In reality, it kept the humans away from the frontlines and it was a short train ride away. It also kept them close to the capitol (Canterlot) if they ever needed to go there.

With them, came their protectors. Both Rainbow Dash and Applejack still had to recover from their most recent bout of injuries; If they hadn't been forced to, they easily would have worked themselves to the death. With them, came their supervisor. Prince Blueblood, esteemed prince of Equestria, performed a very important task! He did paperwork and arranged the logistics of keeping the four humans in Equestria. Yes, it's an important job. Yes, I'm being serious.

Blueblood's first challenge upon reaching Ponyville was finding residence for all seven of them. It took him a while but he had eventually commandeered a small single story house in the south eastern sector of Ponyville. It wasn't too big, having four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a kitchen, and a basement but it would suffice for the time being.

Blueblood looked at the humans' protectors. "Do keep watch of them, I have to go authorize funds for our little task at hand."

Rainbow Dash harrumphed in disapproval. "Yeah, yeah, yeah. We know what we're doing," she said.

Blueblood eyed the bandaged gash on Rainbow Dash's forehead from when a it's-not-a-handgun-it's-a-cannon struck her in the face. "Do you really now?" Rainbow Dash frowned in anger upon realizing what Blueblood was staring at. Blueblood didn't attempt to prevent himself from smiling, causing her to march away in anger.

He looked to Applejack. Applejack shrugged. "They'll never leave our sight," Applejack said while looking over at all of the current number of humans in the house... At that exact moment, that number was two.

Wilson and Logan both stared at earth pony. "What?" Wilson asked.

-X-X-X-

Eric and Tran walked down one of Ponyville's streets. Both of them were still wearing their body armor and gear but didn't have their rifles (they had left them with the other two). Eric looked at Tran. "What do you want to do?" Eric asked.

Tran shrugged. "Let's go get some booze."

Eric nodded in approval. Then, he realized something important. "Wait, we don't have any money." Tran stopped walking and started digging through his pockets. After a few seconds, he pulled out a decently sized coin bag and tossed it to Eric. Eric opened it up, revealing hundreds of golden coins. "Where did you get this?"

"I stole it from that weird prince."

Eric closed up the bag and tossed it back. "Well, let's go find some booze."

-X-X-X-

In a diner, a black suit wearing mare was enjoying a strawberry sundae by her lonesome. The mare, without looking paranoid, kept a watchful eye on every possible entrance and all patrons. She was a veteran of the trade, after all.

When two mares(one of which was clad in a very conspicuous grey trench coat) entered the diner, she had to mentally groan. Of course she would wear something like that. Both new patrons found the lone mare and joined the lone mare. "Agent S," greeted the mare wearing the trench coat.

Agent S deeply inhaled. "Do you really have to wear that?" she asked, looking at the trench coat.

The mare in question looked down at her trench coat, causing her sunglasses to slide down her nose.

"Well where else would I hide my gun?" asked the mare in question, loudly enough for everypony in the diner to hear if there had been anypony else other than the three.

The grey mare beside her groaned at her partner's lack of professionalism. "Can we please, get back to our tasking?"

Agent S reached into her mane and pulled out an envelope. "Your assignment is to pull some hooves-on recon on a possible smuggling operation." She slid the envelope over to the two mares, of which the white mare snatched up as quickly as she could manage. Inside the envelope was a picture of what looked like a small pub. "We believe that two-thirds of the contraband that comes from Canterlot goes through there at some point. We're hoping to find where it all stems from so we can snuff it out."

The grey mare snatched the photo from her compatriot's hoof and set it back down on the table. "And it needs to be done as covertly as possible?" she asked.

The head mare nodded. "Right. If anything fudges up the place, their gazpachos might catch onto our attempts to corner them."

The white mare crossed her arms and slunk down into her seat. "Well that's boring."

Both other mares rolled their eyes. "In the off chance that your cover is blown, you will be provided with a few means of fighting back."

The trench coat class professional grew a smile as she realized what this meant. "Is it a machine gun!?"

Her partner face-hooved. "Are you ever going to act with any semblance of tact?"

Without a second thought, she responded with, "Nope!"

Agent S removed a briefcase from under the table. Placing it on the table, she opened it up to reveal a pair of disassembled shotguns and some shells. "The ammunition provided is under-pressured buckshot and low velocity handgun ammo. They're specially loaded to ensure lowered penetration. Since we are in a populated civilian location, we do not need a bullet or pellet punching through multiple walls and causing unnecessary collateral damage."

Both of the shotguns in the case were the same model and were pump action take-down shotguns. This meant that they could be easily broken down into two halves for transport or concealment.

"Even if your cover is blown, make sure intel is gathered. Even if they find out that we're onto them, we can still use whatever we find in identifying where everything is coming from."

"Is that everything?" asked the tactless mare.

"Don't die."

-X-X-X-

Inside a small pub in Ponyville, a bartender polished a glass mug while patrons enjoyed a nice cold beer and or played poker. As he moved onto his next glass, a mare entered the pub. She was wearing an eye-catching grey trench coat and everypony immediately recognized her. Her uniquely highlighted blue mane and accessories (a pair of headphones and purple-tinted sunglasses) made it easy to tell that she was Vinyl Scratch (also known as DJ P0n3), an up and coming DJ.

A very large unicorn bouncer standing at the entrance to the bar immediately stopped the two. "I'm afraid I'm gonna have to scan you for weapons."

Vinyl Scratch looked at the bouncer and shrugged, "Go right ahead, I'm not hiding anything." The bouncer's horn lit up and Vinyl was enveloped in a green glow for a few seconds. After the glow disappeared, the bouncer waved her off.

The bartender looked at the famous DJ. "Now is this the famous DJ P0n3 that I'm speaking to?"

Vinyl smiled and basked in the recognition. "You bet your ass it is! Now I don't know if you know where a gal like me can get something to drink?"

The bartender grabbed a glass and filled it up with a nice foamy beer. "First one's on the house."

Vinyl gladly took the beer and drank from it, taking her time. Whilst drinking, she took a good look at the bartender. He wore a nice immaculate white shirt, a black bowtie, and a black vest. The vest, she took notice to as it had a small lump on the left side of it. Possibly a gun? Off to the left of the bartop, there was a hallway to another room where she could clearly see other ponies milling about. After having downed half the beer, she set the glass back on the table. "Now that's good stuff right there," she said while leaning in towards the bartender. In a whisper, she said, "I don't suppose you know where I can get something that would make performing a little more bearable?"

The bartender crossed his arms. "That depends on what you're willing to pay."

Vinyl reached into her coat and pulled out a bag. "Because being a famous DJ definitely doesn't pay well, obviously." She tossed it to bartender who opened it up, revealing many bits.

The bartender pocketed the bits before removing a small tan tin from behind the counter and placing it in front of vinyl. "Fresh off the front lines."

Using her magic, Vinyl opened up the tin to reveal five hypodermic syringes. Each one was made of glass, filled with a clear liquid, and had a protective cap. "Morphine?"

The bartender nodded. "I'd suggest not taking two within a four hour period if you haven't had any before."

Vinyl picked up the tin of morphine and stuffed it into her trench coat. "Thanks for the fix." She began to leave the bar but stopped after taking one step. "Oh, before I leave do you know where I can get more? I'm gonna be in Canterlot for a gig in a few weeks and I'd appreciate it if you gave me a referral."

"Sure." The bartender reached into his vest and pulled out a business card, throwing it to her.

Vinyl caught the business card in her magic, stuffing it into her trench coat. "Thanks." She turned around and started to leave again but then realized that the bouncer was missing. 'Huh', she thought.

Almost immediately afterwards, the door to the bar was kicked open. The bouncer re-entered the bar with a grey mare in his arms and a cello case held in his magic. "Found a mare scoping out the place." He dropped the cello case and it burst open, revealing a pair of disassembled shotguns and a copious number of shotgun shells. "And lookie what she has."

The bartender reached into his vest and pulled out a revolver. "The Equestrian Secret Service must be getting brave." He took aim at the grey mare.

Before he could fire, five syringes full of morphine had been emptied into his heart. As he collapsed, Vinyl caught his falling gun with her magic and put three rounds into the bouncer (two in the chest and one in the head). Vinyl quickly walked over to where the cello case had fallen to the ground. "You just had to blow it even though," she started, picking up the pieces to one shotgun. "I got proof and found out where in Canterlot I could get more!" She expertly assembled the shotgun and had it loaded before her partner could pick hers up.

Octavia scowled back in response. "What's done is done. Let's just deal with them and go." She attempted to put her shotgun together but just couldn't seem to catch onto the concept. Octavia noticed a trio of ponies coming in from a hallway. "Well, shit."

Vinyl also noticed the three ponies and fired her shotgun at them. While she missed, the ponies took the cue to stop where they were and take cover behind some solid looking metal doors. Vinyl also did the same and ducked behind the bartop, but not before grabbing a couple hoof full of shotgun shells from the ground. "Come on, Octy. We don't have all day!"

Octy(Octavia) frowned at her usage at the nickname but took cover beside her partner, disassembled shotgun in tow. "I'm trying!" The ponies in the hallway fired back at the DJ, missing and hitting the bar top. Vinyl responded by firing her shotgun back at them. Octy (Octavia!) responded by continuing to put together her own shotgun(failing miserably at that mind you).

The ponies in the hallway were joined by three more ponies, significantly increasing the chances against the two Equestrian Secret Service(ESS) agents. Vinyl fire twice more at the ponies in the hallway to keep them pinned down. Ducking back down, she looked at her partner who was still trying to assemble her shotgun. "You have got to be kidding me," Vinyl deadpanned. More bullets hit the bartop, to which she responded back with a blind shot from behind cover.

Octavia fumbled with the shotgun pieces again. "It's harder than it looks!" Vinyl grabbed both halves of the shotgun in Octy's(its Octavia!) hooves while handing her the shotgun that she was using. In a split second, she had the shotgun together and loaded. Ducking back up, she had fired the shotgun and managed to hit a pony that had taken the brief pause to advance. Ducking back down, Vinyl smirked at Octy(I'll give you that one). "Shut up." Octy(but not this one) ducked up to fire the shotgun.

*Click*

Vinyl grabbed her and pulled her down in time to save her from a bullet. "Weren't you counting? I fired five." She stuck just her shotgun out from cover and blindly fired, hitting absolutely nopony.

Octy(stop calling me Octy, it's Octavia for Celestia's sake!) reached for some shells to reload her shotgun when she realized that she hadn't grabbed any from where they had fallen.

Vinyl smiled and reached into her trench coat, pulling out a number of shotgun shells for the grey mare. "Don't you dare diss the trench coat ever again!" Octy(well fuck you!) begrudgingly took the shells and proceeded to reload her shotgun.

Then, the doors to the bar were opened and everything went silent as two... Things came walking in. One was shorter than the other and was wearing clothing(?) that was colored with splotches of various shades of green and brown while the other was wearing clothing(?) that was colored with splotches of grey. "What seems to be the problem?" asked the tall grey one.

Vinyl looked at the two. "We're Equestrian Secret Service investigating a smuggling ring?"

He stared blankly back at the mare. "Okay."

One of the five ponies in the hallway had decided that now was a good time to take a pot shot at the two things. The bullet that he fired from his handgun missed wide and hit the door frame to the left of the two. The tall grey one looked at the pony who fired at him with an irritated look. "Go ahead and fire a second shot." Before the pony could fire a second shot, it had unholstered a behemoth of a revolver.

*BOOM*

In an instant, everypony involved in the gunfight had been rendered temporarily deaf. The bullet was aimed a bit too far to the side and had struck the metal door that the pony was hiding behind. Naturally, the bullet had no trouble going clean through the door and then the pony behind it. One of the dead pony's compatriots noticed the offense and raised his gun to fire. Big mistake.

One blast later and he too was dead. Also, if everypony wasn't deaf yet, they most definitely were now. The three remainders now decided that this was a good time to run. Unfortunately for all three of them, one of them decided that it was a good idea to desperately blind fire backwards while running away. The resulting gunshot was timed at the exact moment that all three of them were in a line and the resulting bullet had no trouble going through all three of them.

The shorter green one looked at his compatriot. "That was a bit much, don't you think?" He didn't respond. He was currently occupied with reloading the three shots that he had fired.

Vinyl tapped her headphones, being thankful that they saved her hearing. "Wow, that was loud." She turned to Octy(I'm going to kill you). "Come on, let's clear the building."

Her partner stared at the trench coat-clad mare, seeing that her lips were moving but hearing nothing. "WHAT?!" she yelled.

Vinyl looked back at the two. "You heard me, right?" Both of them nodded. Vinyl thought about the potential consequences of enlisting the help of a pair of random creatures that had just simply appeared. She immediately decided that you only live once in life so screw it. Octavia had some thoughts on the matter but decided against voicing them, help was help after all.

The four of them quickly cleared the entirety of the bar and found that all other rooms were empty, save for one. One room had a large metal trapdoor that was very clearly locked. Octy(One of these days, Vinyl) looked at the trapdoor. "Now what?" she asked.

Vinyl happily raised her shotgun and fired. The pellets fired from the shotgun did absolutely nothing to the trapdoor's lock and miraculously, no one was injured from the bullet splash that resulted from said bad idea. Vinyl frowned and pumped her shotgun, chambering a fresh round. Before she could fire, the tall one placed his hand on the barrel. Vinyl lowered her shotgun as he raised the same hand cannon that he used before. Immediately, Octy(why are we even friends?) covered her ears.

One gunshot later, and the door was open.

Inside, there were hundreds of wooden crates of what could be presumed was contraband. Also, there was a lone pony in there with a revolver. All four of them took aim at him. He took one look at the four before dropping the gun and raising his arms into the air.

Vinyl looked at her partner. "Well, this has been an interesting mission." She looked over to her two little helpers. "Big thanks to-," she started but stopped when she saw that both of them were drinking from bottles of hard liquor.

"What?" they both asked.

Better to Have and Not Need Than to Need and Not Have

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Blueblood rubbed the sides of his head with the edge of his hooves, slowly digesting what he had been told by a team of Equestrian Secret Service agents. Two of his charges snuck out from his supervision, interrupted an important Equestrian Secret Service investigation, killed five ponies, and stole his coin purse in the time span of an hour and a half... For booze.

Both escapees looked at the prince, the shorter of the pair still clutching a bottle of rye whiskey. "To be fair, those two agents needed the help," Eric said. Blueblood immediately started to rub at his head even harder.

-X-X-X-

Several Equestrian Secret Service(ESS) agents carefully went through the pub's cellar, making sure to take note of what was found. Drugs, guns, explosives, and contraband of the like was present by the metric ton; This was easily the biggest bust in ESS history! Naturally, Vinyl(still wearing her trench coat) was bragging about it to her coworkers while Octavia assisting them in going through the found merchandise.

One pony mused over an important detail from Vinyl's story. "So, wait. You just let the two creatures go?" asked her coworker. Vinyl nodded. "Why didn't you hold them for questioning?!"

Vinyl snorted. "Well, they helped us and I don't think we would have been able to detain the two."

The coworker stared at the mad mare. "But you didn't even try!" he yelled out.

Vinyl shrugged. "Eh, it was fine. They told us where to find them." The coworker balked. Why in the world was she still being fielded by the EAS? She's a mess waiting to happen! "And why aren't you asking why Octy there-," she added while pointing to the cellist. "Why she didn't stop them?"

"Vinyl!" Octavia yelled out.

"Hell, I almost had it in the bag by myself."

"Vinyl!" Octavia yelled, louder this time.

"You should have seen it! I just waltzed in there-" Octavia threw a bucket of water at her partner. Vinyl sputtered for a second before facing her partner. "Alright, I won't embarrass you!"

Octy smiled and drenched Vinyl with another bucket of water to make sure the daft mare was paying attention. "Now that I've caught your focus, I've found something I'd thought you'd like to see." Octy motioned towards a set of four large, identical gun cases stacked on top of each other. Each one was made of metal and had four latches keeping it close while presenting no locks on the outside.

Vinyl reached down and tried to open the case on top of the stack but found herself unable to open any of the latches. "Hey, what gives?"

"Seems like it's magically locked," said Octy with as much smartassness(that's not a word(yes it is)) that she could muster.

Vinyl motioned for one her coworkers to come on over. The coworker in question was a unicorn stallion that sported the image of glimmering padlock as a cutie mark. Three guesses what his special talent was and the first two doesn't count.

His horn lit up and the the top case was enveloped in a light green glow. Seconds later, the glow disappeared and the stallion faced the mares. "Yeah, I can't open this," said the stallion.

Vinyl raised an eyebrow. "And here I thought I was working with the best lockpicker in Equestria?"

The EAS agent frowned. "It's locked with chaos magic."

Vinyl and Octy shared a worried look. "That's impossible, Discord is dead," stated Octavia. He knew that. She knew that. Everypony knew that. It was a fact.

Vinyl looked at the cases again and noticed a small note attached to the side of the case, something that she hadn't noticed before. She tore off the note and everypony crowded against her to see what it said.

Vinyl and Octy shared another look.

-X-X-X-

More knocks were made on the door to the residence that housed Blueblood and Co. When the door was opened revealing more EAS agents, Blueblood entered a new state of irritation. "What is it now?"

Vinyl and Octy pushed pass the prince, the latter of the two carrying four long gun cases in her magic, and into the house. Despite the protests of the angry prince, they found who they were looking for. Sitting around a dining room table were the four humans, all of which were currently drinking.

Eric and Tran immediately recognized the two ponies. "Need something?" Eric asked. Vinyl placed set the cases down onto the ground while Octavia handed him the note that was previously attached to it.

Dear whoever finds this note,

Yes, I know I'm dead. It's entirely possible for me to have placed this here before I died in preparation for the future. I'd like to explain more but we're getting off topic. The more important question to answer is: What's in the box?!?! Sorry, I can't tell you nor can I let you be the one to open it. The only thing capable of opening them are these strange biepdal and tall creatures that I'm sure are the talk of Equestria right now whether they're already dead or not. Either way, you won't be able to open it.

-Discord

"Should we open them?" Eric asked.

*Click*

Everyone in the room looked at Logan who had already grabbed a case and started to unlatch it. "What?" Logan asked as he undid the last latch. He carefully lifted up the lid and peeked inside.

Vinyl frowned, being unable to see it's contents. "Well, what's in it?" she asked with a sense of irritation.

Logan closed the case and looked back at everyone else. "Something awesome," he answered. He opened up the case, making sure to not show everyone what it was, and reach into it. After a bit of fumbling, he pulled out a pump action shotgun. "This is my Remington 870." He reached back into the case, pulled out a strange rectangular foot long tube, and started screwing it onto the end of the shotgun. "And my Salvo 12." After the suppressor was fully attached, he racked back on the pump. "Only holds five rounds but at least the barrel is flush with the magazine tube."

The three ponies in the room looked at the over four foot long shotgun. "That thing is enormous!" Blueblood said.

Octavia eyed the Salvo 12. "Pray tell, what is a Salvo 12?" she asked.

Logan smiled. "Suppressor."

Octavia raised an eyebrow. "Pray tell, what is a suppressor?"

"Makes the gunshot quiet."

Octavia looked at the one foot long tube affixed to the shotgun. "You mean a silencer?"

Logan felt like punching her in the mouth. "Its a suppressor!"

Octavia noticed that he tensed up and took a mental note. "Wait, I thought those were only for .22s and you could only put them on rifles."

"Nope," Logan answered.

Deciding that he had seen enough, Wilson grabbed one of the long cases and unlatched it. Opening it up, it revealed a pump action shotgun... A small pump action shotgun... A really small pump action shotgun. The entire thing looked to be slightly over a foot in length and was rather comical looking considering it was the only thing in the meter and a half long(about five feet) long rifle case. Wilson blinked, unsure of what he was seeing.

Logan, who was finally finished with being smitten with his own shotgun, took one look at Wilson's shotgun and guffawed. "It's perfect for you," Logan commented. Wilson angrily turned to Logan and punched him in the stomach. Clutching his stomach, Logan stopped laughing. "Worth it."

Tran looked at the tiny shotgun. "It still has its uses."

Octavia eyed the short magazine tube. "How many shells does that thing even hold? Three?"

Wilson wanted to ignore the question but it was an honest question asked without any sense of intended irritation. "Two."

Octavia looked at Logan's shotgun and then to his. "Was this one of your own personal weapons?" Octavia pointed to Logan's Remington 870. "Like his?"

"Yes," he answered.

Eric looked at the tiny thing(the shotgun, not Wilson). "Why would you buy that? Like, how much does it hurt to shoot?"

Wilson looked at the shotgun and then to Tran's .500 S&W. "Bad." He pointed at Tran's hand cannon. "But nowhere near as bad as that thing."

Logan smiled and remembered something important about the shotgun. "Someone guess what it's called." Before anyone could answer, he had already spouted out the answer. "The Serbu Super Shorty Shotgun." While Wilson was even more irritated, Logan wasn't wrong. The shotgun itself was indeed a Serbu Super Shorty Shotgun and was actually built off of the same model of shotgun that Logan got. It pretty much existed to be a short 12 gauge shotgun.

Eric eyed the third rifle case, shrugged, and then grabbed it. He quickly unlatched it and opened it up, revealing that the meter and a half long case contained a singular pistol and a half dozen loaded magazines. "I want to say that I'm mad but I'm not." He pulled the pistol out of the case and checked that it wasn't loaded. Happy with the unloaded pistol, he tucked it into his belt while grabbing the magazines.

Vinyl felt offended. "Aren't you gonna tell us what you got?"

Eric looked at the mare. "Competition grade Walther PPQ, 9mm pistol with a seventeen round capacity. Yes, it's mine. Plain and simple," he marely stated.

Vinyl removed her headphones when she realized one very notable fact about what he had said. "Did you say it holds seventeen rounds?"

Eric held up one of the magazines for her to see. He noticed that she still wasn't having it so he started to eject each round slowly for her to see. Indeed, seventeen rounds popped out of the magazine.

Vinyl was incredulous at the literal pile of bullets that came out of the magazine. "Can I have it?" Eric said nothing but the fact that he quickly tucked the pistol back into his belt answered her question.

Everyone in the room, even Blueblood of all ponies, impatiently looked at Tran. "What?" he asked.

"Open yours up!" Vinyl demanded.

Tran shrugged. "Maybe later." Logan grabbed the fourth case and started to unlatch it, only to find that it wasn't opening up for him. Tran really wanted to wait but decided that he was gonna take pity on them. He grabbed the case and opened it up for everyone to see. Inside was another pistol, a half dozen loaded magazines, and a smaller version of Logan's Salvo 12 suppressor. Before anyone could really take notice of any notable features of the pistol, Tran had already picked it up and tucked it into his belt.

Eric suddenly realized how offended Vinyl felt while she felt even more offended. "No! Don't you dare do that too!" Vinyl said, almost yelling.

"1911, 45 caliber pistol. Holds fifteen rounds," Tran answered. It was a Remington R1 enhanced double stack 1911 chambered in .45 ACP and it was set up for a suppressor. This meant that it had raised iron sights and was threaded for the suppresor that came with it. Now if only Tran had told everyone that instead of just thinking about what it was.

"Wait, I thought 1911s hold eight rounds?" Wilson asked.

"Usually," Tran answered.

Before anyone could ask more questions, a loud knock came from the door. Blueblood trotted over to answer the door but it swung open before he reached it. The open door revealed their new guest. The pony standing in the doorway was easily the tallest pony the humans had seen yet. She would have been able to walk through the front door(barely) if her horn hadn't added added a further foot to her height. Every human being noticed that this was the first pony they've met that had both wings and a horn.

Princess Celestia ducked her head down and walked into the building. "I'd like to speak to a Tran if he is present."

War Is Mostly a Catalogue of Blunders

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A griffon calmly read a book as he laid in his hospital bed.

"Sir?"

The griffon didn't answer back and continued on reading his book.

"They're here."

The griffon closed his book and looked up. In front of him, he saw a pair of heavily built griffons. They wore the same style of brown trench coat and red scarf. Both had rifles slung over their back and were carrying a full-faced helmet under one arm. The griffon looked down at the remains of his left leg; The surgeons weren't able to reattach the leg. "You have your orders," he said with a calm but rage-filled voice.

Both griffons nodded and donned their helmets. The instant their helmets were fully on their head, they disappeared in thin air.

-X-X-X-

Spitfire looked at the filly sitting on the train bench in front of her. The little filly was clearly too young for the uniform she was wearing but here she was, wearing it like it wasn't a costume. During the entirety of the train ride, the little orange filly hadn't looked away from the floor nor did she move. "Scootaloo," Spitfire called out. The filly didn't move, acting like she didn't hear the call. Spitfire felt guilt well up in her heart. Children were not supposed to be soldiers. Hell, nopony is supposed to be a soldier. "I'll get you discharged as soon as we get there."

Spitfire got up from her own bench and trotted into the next car down. This car was significantly larger than the one she just came from and was filled a half dozen numerous metal cages, each one holding dozens of griffons. At each cage were a trio of ponies, all armed with shotguns. A few of the guards noticed their new guest and saluted. Spitfire saluted back. Spitfire looked at the prisoners of war(POW) who just calmly sat in their makeshift jails. "So, why are we taking them to Ponyville? I've never been with POWs long enough to know what happens to them," Spitfire asked.

One of the guards looked at the captain and replied with, "They have to be properly processed and documented before they're divided up and sent to a proper penal facility."

Spitfire nodded and decided to go back to the previous car. There was nothing of entertainment here. She trotted over to the exit and went through the door. Before she could enter the next car over, her ears picked up something. It sounded like... A long strip of cloth, fluttering in the wind. The sound a scarf would make when exposed to high velocity winds. She rubbed her ears with a hoof. Impossible. They were three quarters of the way to Ponyville, there'd be no reason for one to be here.

She opened up the door to the next car and sat down, deciding to look at the filly again. Scootaloo finally moved and looked up at the captain. "You heard it too, right?"

Spitfire froze. "I don't know what you're talking about."

Scootaloo narrowed her eyes. "The sound a scarf makes when it flies through the air."

-X-X-X-

Princess Celestia looked at the humans inside the house. Based on what had been described in field reports, all four of them were quite a strange group. From what she had seen so far, it was true. She knew this the instant she saw them.

One was angry. No, he wasn't emotionally angry at the current moment. He was, however, angry with life. He was angry with the hand that life had dealt him. Why did everything that had happened to him have to happen to him? Why did he have to work harder than everyone else? Why did he have to endure more suffering than some pansy who had a silver spoon up his ass?

Another was bored. While it was a bit arrogant of him to assume, he believed that he had experienced enough in the few years (comparatively) of life that he had lived so far. Anything that is thrown to him, he can accomplish. He was here for the ride. No need to plan anything, he can just make things up as he goes along.

The third was unsure of himself. Unlike the other three, everything he did was to be done carefully. He had to be ALWAYS prepared for anything and everything. If there's a surprise, something has gone wrong. If it's his ass on the line, no risks should be taken. While it was not the most excitable life to live, at least he would be alive.

The last one... He was dead inside. She could see it in his eyes. Why? She had no idea. Unphased by anything, he could be shot in the leg and he would try to walk it off. Hell, she wouldn't doubt if it he had done something like that before. What was motivating him to keep on moving? "That would be me," said Tran.

Princess Celestia smiled. "Yes, I've read reports of what you've done to defend our country and I would like to thank you for being a key part in repelling the griffons from Baltimare." She eyed the other three humans. "And I can't forget to thank your friends too. They must have also been instrumental in that battle."

Logan crossed his arms. "Fuck yeah, we were."

Princess Celestia stifled a giggle. "It is everypony's duty to fight for their country but to fight for somepony else's country? That is admirable to the highest degree."

Wilson frowned. "I'll be honest. I don't fucking care about your country and I just want to go home."

Princess Celestia's smile faltered slightly. She had also read about how these four had arrived. A summons by a supposedly dead chaos lord. It wasn't too much of a surprise. "Yes, that's also why I'm here. I'll also be honest. I have no idea how to get you four home and I am arguably one of the most powerful magical beings on this planet."

A vein on Wilson's head momentarily appeared but disappeared shortly afterwards. He understood as did the other three. She wasn't the one who brought him here so it wasn't her duty.

Princess Celestia was quite surprised that they handled the news in such a civilized manner. "I can only see this going about in two ways. I can send you to the western portion of my country, the furtherst from the war that you can go. The other option." She narrowed her eyes. "Is to join up and continue fighting."

The four humans looked at each other. They all knew how this was going to go. They would not have been brought here if the help was not absolutely needed and they were no doubt a major enemy of the griffons for what they had done in Baltimare. Tran was the first to look back at Celestia. "I think you already know what we're going to say."

Celestia raised an eyebrow. "That you'll join up but not without terms and conditions?"All four of them simultanously nodded. "Five times the pay of a starting infantry officer for each of you, and not falling under anypony's authority?" The four humans looked at each other before looking back at the Princess. "Ten times the pay it is."

The four humans shared one final look before nodding. "We'll also need someone to make ammo for our arms, general supplies, and access to otherwise restricted materials like explosives or drugs," said Tran.

Celestia thought about it for a second before lightly nodding. "Done." Celestia had noticed that there were actually other ponies in the room with them and noticed that they were bowing and possibly had been the whole time. "Oh, sorry. You all may rise."

Octavia, Vinyl Scratch, Blueblood, Rainbow Dash, and Applejack all stood up from their extended show of respect.

Blueblood was frankly, pissed. That was not how you speak to royalty! He looked at his great (many times over) aunt and was amazed at how she was still smiling (it was a genuine smile too, not that politician's facade that she usually puts up). "They could not possibly be worth that much." The other four ponies in the room stared at Blueblood. He noticed their disapproval and crossed his arms. "That's easily a thousand bits per pony a month. They could buy a small house every month if they wanted to. Are they really worth it?"

Rainbow Dash looked at Tran. He had taken out not one but two Jaegers. He had killed a war chief and captured another. He had successfully aimed and hit a target from a kilometer away, taking out a general. He had forgiven her for shooting him. He rescued Scootaloo. She gave Blueblood an angry glare. "Yes. Yes they're worth it."

Applejack thought about both of the times she was rescued by them. She owed her hide to both Eric and Wilson. "Cause they're very good at what they do."

Vinyl smirked. "And they're mad crazy!" Octavia smacked her upside the head. Vinyl looked at her partner, seeing her glare and straightened herself up. "They provided much needed assistance to the ESS."

Octy (Celestia damn it) nodded in agreement. "They played a key role in foiling Ponyville's black market."

Princess Celestia looked at each of the four humans. "I'm glad you four have made such an impact so far."

Blueblood, however, was angry. "They stole my coin purse! For alcohol!"

Princess Celestia looked at Logan. "Please return it."

Logan recoiled. "Why did you assume it was me?" He pointed to Tran, who was now presenting the stolen coin purse.

Celestia looked at the stolen coin purse and the person who was holding it. "I apologize. Out of the four, you seemed like the one to do something like that."

Logan smirked. "Yeah," he agreed. He pointed back at Tran. "He beat me to it." Tran tossed the coin purse to Blueblood, happy to finally have his money back.

Celestia dropped her real smile for a politician's smile, a change that was noticed only by Blueblood and Tran. "There is one last thing to discuss." She slowly approached Tran, who instinctively moved his hand towards his sidearm. "I believe you almost shot my fellow princess."

She had read Twilight's personal account of the experience. Supposedly, this human had brandished his sidearm (an enormous hand cannon of a sidearm at that) towards her once-student. Twilight had explained that it was mostly due to the surprise of a teleportation. Nothing too surprising about that. What had really caught Celestia's attention was the fact that Twilight had attempted to teleport away said sidearm and failed. She doubted that Twilight had failed the simple spell which meant a much more interesting conclusion, were they immune to regular magic? If so, it meant one of two things. Either they were magical golems made of a magic absorbing rock or were chaos beings. Both were just as likely.

Celestia adopted a mischievous smile. "Tell me, do you bleed?"

Tran most certainly had his hand on his sidearm, something everyone noticed. His human friends most certainly noticed and had their hands on their sidearms (except Logan who eyed Wilson's KRISS). The ponies in the room responded by doing the same, they had their hooves ready to grab their sidearms (minus Blueblood who wrapped the handle of his sword with his magic). Tran, narrowing his eyes, asked back, "Let's say I do, what then?"

Celestia's horn lit up and grabbed one of the bottles of whiskey that they had 'liberated', slowly bringing it over. As the bottle floated over, she knew what they weren't; They weren't golems. Otherwise, her magic would have been instantly sucked away. "Then, you can get drunk."

Tran, who's left hand was holding the handle of his sidearm, grabbed the bottle out of the air with his right handle. "I suppose that was some kind of test?"

Celestia, who had been staring directly into Tran's eyes this whole time without blinking, smirked. "You could say that."

Tran, who had been keeping up with the staring contest, took his hand off of the sidearm. Everyone did the same, thankful that the situation was de-escalated. "What for?" Tran asked.

Celestia thought about the possibilities. She doubted that they were true chaos beings, a creature born out of the desire for the world to change. They were probably supercharged with chaos magic. Considering they were supposedly brought in from another universe by Discord, who had been a very powerful chaos being, this idea was much more believable. "Just testing your sense of humor," Celestia replied.

Wilson snorted. "Fucked up humor."

While everyone was calming down, It was the exact moment that somepony had teleported in. To everypony's surprise, the same purple princess pony previously from the last teleportation incident was once again the culprit.

Once again, Twilight found a S&W Model 500 pointed at her face. Applejack immediately drew her Colt Single Action Army and aimed it at Tran, hammer cocked back. Wilson responded by drawing his Glock and aimed it at Applejack. Rainbow Dash drew her Model 92 and aimed it Wilson. Eric responded by drawing his S&W Model 8 and aimed it at Rainbow Dash. Octavia responded by drawing a Model 92 and aimed it at Eric. Logan responded by picking up Wilson's KRISS and aimed it at Octavia. Blueblood teleported his sword out of his sheath and at the throat of Logan. Tran drew his Colt Walker with his right hand and aimed it at Blueblood, hammer cocked back. Eric, taking a cue from Tran, drew his Walther PPW and aimed it at Vinyl. Vinyl simply threw her hooves into the air, deciding that had been the best course of action. Wilson, who got the same idea as Eric and Tran, aimed his Serbu Shorty with his free hand at Princess Celestia.

Twilight, like Vinyl, threw her hooves and her wings into the air. Tran let out a frustrated breath. "Again, really?" he asked.

Celestia, not caring at the tiny shotgun pointed at her face, looked at Tran. "I can see why you brandished a firearm at her," she deadpanned. She looked at all of the firearms still up in the air, primed and ready to drop whoever it was aimed at. "This is quite the stand off we're in."

"Yep," Tran deadpanned back. He slowly and carefully holstered his revolvers, soon being followed by everyone else in the room. Tran looked at their new guest, who still had her hooves and wings in the air. "Seriously, again, really?"

Twilight slowly nodded and brought her hooves and wings down. "Sorry," she softly (Fluttershy would have been proud) said.

Tran lightly glared at the purple pastel pony princess. "Please stop doing that." Twilight nodded in agreement. This was the moment that he, as did his other cohorts, noticed something about the princess. "You have wings?"

This was also the moment that an explosion rattled all of Ponyville.

Five Minutes Ago

Spitfire felt their train slowing down. She looked out the window of their train car and was filled with the view of Ponyville's military-only train station. "We're here," she stated. She looked back at the squirt. "Grab your stuff." Scootaloo just stayed frozen in place, still staring at the floor. She scowled and stepped closer to the filly. "Listen, I know you-" She froze. Her ears twitched. She grabbed the squirt and shoved her to the ground, covering the filly's body with her own. A split second later, something from the front of the train exploded. Not long after that, the sound of gunfire filled the air.

-X-X-X-

All four humans immediately grabbed whatever gear and weapons they had. Applejack, having supplied her own weapons to use in the war, grabbed her two double barrel shotguns. Everypony else, minus Princess Celestia, drew revolvers. Hell, even Blueblood had drawn a revolver.

Rainbow Dash looked at Blueblood's sidearm, a Model 73. "You've had a gun this whole time?" she asked.

Wilson was more interested in something much bigger. "Are we just gonna ignore that?" he asked, pointing at Princess Celestia. The princess in question was also armed, but not with a handgun. Held in her hooves was a full on machine gun. Not a light machine gun either, it was a full-sized machine that looked like it was intended for a static emplacement. Where she got this from, the world may never know.

The princess of the sun smirked. "What? Is something wrong with my hair?" While her permanently flowing hair was an interesting sight, she knew he was talking about her Model 14 HotKiss machine gun. The machine gun in question was an air-cooled 25 kilogram machine gun that was meant to be fired from an emplaced tripod (not that she cared). At 450 rounds per minute, it fired the older but more powerful 8x50mm Equestrian Ordnance round instead of the more modern but weaker 6.5x50mm Stomper. To make things even weirder, it was not fed from a flexible ammunition belt nor was it fed from a magazine. Instead, it was fed from a long metallic strip that held 40 rounds that literally stuck out of the right side of the gun. Speaking of which, she wore a saddlebag that was literally filled with more ammunition strips.

Tran looked at the machine gun. "Who cares, it'll be useful." He shoved past everyone and went out the front door. Immediately upon stepping out of the house, he noticed all of the griffons flying through the air. Unfortunately for him, they noticed him. "Out of the frying pan." He raised his rifle and snapped off a shot, hitting one lone griffon and knocking him out of the air. Naturally, they returned fire.

Luckily for the human, Princess Celestia had stepped outside and had thrown up a shield. The shield effortlessly bounced all of the incoming bullets, giving enough time for everyone else to step outside. Everyone raised their weapons. "And into the fire."

In the Midst of Chaos, There Is Opportunity

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Scootaloo ears rang. Scootaloo's eyes shot open. The first thing that she noticed was that Spitfire's body was smothering her's. The next thing she noticed was that her ears hurt and fortunately, they were the only things that were hurting.

She gently shoved Spitfire off of herself and looked around. The cabin that they had been sitting in had been absolutely shredded by the explosion, as did a number of the other cars from this train. Standing back up, she scrambled to where she had been sitting and grabbed a duffel bag. From the duffel bag, she pulled out a revolver. It was her Model 92, the exact one that she found in Baltimore. Was she supposed to have it? Absolutely not. Did she care that she wasn't supposed to have it? Absolutely not. If it hadn't been for her obvious theft of Royal Equestrian Army property, she wouldn't have been able to defend herself from the shotgun armed griffon that had just busted into the train car she was in.

Scootaloo squeaked. The griffon squawked. Both of them raced to shoot first.

*BANG*

When Scootaloo saw that her first shot hadn't dropped the griffon, she kept on firing. Five more shots later and the griffon was down. She knew that her revolver was empty and that she had no other ammo for it so she scrambled forward and picked up the shotgun that the griffon had dropped. She didn't get too much time to do anything with the shotgun because the next thing she knew, it was ripped out of her hooves.

Spitfire looked at the small pegasus. "Better leave that with me." Spitfire held out the revolver that Scootaloo had dropped as well as two speedloaders. Scootaloo nodded and took the revolver. Spitfire looked at the pump shotgun in her hooves. "This was one of the ones those guards were using in the other car." She searched the griffon and found a hoofful of shotgun shells.

Scootaloo reloaded her revolver and stuffed the extra speedloader in her uniform. "What do we do now?"

Spitfire lept out of the train car's window and was immediately tackled down by a griffon. Spitfire growled and immediately kicked the griffon in the groin. This griffon also squawked and was now easily shoved away. The following shotgun blast ended him for good.

Spitfire got back up to her hooves and looked back at the train car. "Let's go." Scootaloo nodded and jumped out too.

Spitfire looked up and around, finding that many more griffons were flying around in the air. Her eyes widened and she dove under what remained of the train to hide from the sky, pulling the squirt along with her. Spitfire looked at the squirt and started checking her over. "Are you hurt?"

Scootaloo pushed Spitfire's hooves away. "No." She looked at the griffon that Spitfire had just dropped. "What are we gonna do now?"

Spitfire pulled out a shotgun shell and loaded it into her shotgun. "We have to get to Sweet Apple Acres, it's Ponyville's rally point in case of emergencies."

-X-X-X-

Princess Celestia's machine gun roared with the anger of the sun, slinging 8mm bullets at a squad of griffons hidden behind a house. While they were pinned down, Tran, Eric, Applejack, and Rainbow Dash moved up towards the house. When Celestia's machine gun finally clicked empty, the griffons ducked out of cover and started firing at her position in an attempt to take her out. Too bad for them, a protective bubble caught ever single bullet that they fired.

A few seconds later, Princess Celestia reloaded her machine gun and continued her stream of bullets at the griffons. The griffons, deciding that death was a bad thing, ducked back behind cover. One of the griffons looked at each other. "Screw this, we can't deal with her!"

Before they could run off, Tran and company flanked around the house and had their firearms trained on them. One griffon tried to bring his rifle on any of them but was immediately dropped by Applejack's Colt Army. When a griffon merely twitched, Rainbow Dash fired a warning shot into the ground from her Model 92.

Tran (brandishing his 1911) and Eric (brandishing his AK) looked over the nine remaining griffons. "Where did all of you come from?" Eric asked. They stayed silent.

Applejack then realized that she recognized a few of them. "Wait a gosh darn minute, ah've seen some of them before!"

Eric looked at the cowpony. "Where?"

Applejack looked at the griffons once more to make sure. "They were part of the griffons that surrendered back in Baltimare!" She trotted up to one of them and examined their uniforms. "Yeah, they're all from the same unit."

Rainbow Dash looked at the nine griffons. "So what do we do with them? We still have other important things at hoof."

Eric gave Tran a look, who nodded. Looking back at the griffons, Eric started executing them. Some tried to get away but failed, Eric couldn't miss at this range.

Rainbow Dash, horrified at what she had just witnessed, flew up to Tran and shoved him. "What was that for?!" she demanded. Tran, barely moved by the blue pegasus, holstered his 1911 and picked up one of the rifles that the griffons had dropped. He began checking if over as Rainbow Dash continued shoving him. "Hey, don't ignore me! Say something!"

Tran turned to face the pegasus and shoved the rifle into her hooves. "Faked a surrender, forfeit your lives. If you have a problem with it, shoot me." Rainbow Dash looked at the rifle and spat at his boots before turning away from him. Tran, ignoring the pegasus, picked up another rifle and tossed it to Applejack.

Applejack caught the rifle and cycled the bolt, noticing that it was an REA rifle and not a griffon one. "There was about six hundred of them." Tran looked at the cowpony, raising an eyebrow. "Six hundred. That's about how many of them had surrendered, all at the same time."

Eric gritted his teeth. "They planned this." Tran nodded.

Wilson and Logan, weapons ready, flanked around the house to join them. Seeing that everything had been dealt with, they lowered their weapons. Soon enough, everyone else (Vinyl Scratch, Octavia, Prince Blueblood, Princess Twilight Sparkle, and Princess Celestia) joined them.

Tran picked up another of the rifles that the griffons were using and handed it to Octavia. Everypony else realized what he was doing and grabbed their own weapons, along with some ammunition. "Gentlemen." Everypony raised an eyebrow at this statement. "It appears that the enemy is conducting a false surrender operation. They're most likely here to destroy or capture something. I just don't know what." Tran turned to address Princess Twilight Sparkle. "Do you have any idea of what might be important enough that they would consider conducting an operation of this scale?"

PRINCESS Twilight Sparkle looked at the human that had seriously asked her that question before realizing that he was in fact serious. She looked at PRINCESS Celestia and PRINCE Blueblood, who both realized the meaning of what he had just asked. Twilight looked back at Tran, not saying anything. At that point, Tran finally realized what she was trying to get at.

"Oh," Tran said. "Well, in any case, we need to find somewhere safe. If they're after you, they will bring hell upon us to capture or kill any of you three."

Applejack's head shot up. "Sweet Apple Acres."

Tran looked back at the cowpony. "What was that?"

Applejack repeated what she had just said. "Sweet Apple Acres. It's Ponyville's gatherin spot for emergencies. It's about eight kilometers west of here on the outskirts of town."

Tran unslung his rifle. "Sweet Apple Acres, here we come."

High Up In The Clouds

Two Jaegers appeared out of thin air as the two of them pulled their helmets off of their heads. They settled themselves on a cloud, ready to strike at any moment. "Everything is coming along."

The other Jaeger looked down from the clouds. "Explosives ready?"

The first Jaeger pulled out a massive bundle of dynamite. "Yep."

The other Jaeger stuck his helmet back one, disappearing from thing air. "What does the target area look like?"

The first Jaeger snorted. "From the name. An apple farm." He too donned his helmet and disappeared from thin air. "Ponies are awful at naming."

The other Jaeger chuckled. "Yeah, what was I thinking. What could a place like 'Sweet Apple Acres' be other than an Apple farm?"

Somewhere In Sweet Apple Acres

Granny Smith gently rocked in her chair on the porch of her beloved family home. Distant gunshots could be heard but for the elderly near-deaf mare, they might as well have been silent.

Out of nowhere, a heavily armed and armored Jaeger appeared from thin air in front of the mare. Granny Smith squinted her eyes at the griffon. "Oh, hello dearie. Are you a friend of Apple Bloom's?"

Fear the Old Man in a Profession Where Most Die Young

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The Jaeger looked at the possibly senile mare and walked past her, going to the front door. Granny Smith, while her eyesight wasn't the best, still noticed this and frowned. "Excuse me? You can just go inta a pony's home like that!" The Jaeger continued to ignore her and went into the house. "Rude!"

The Jaeger found himself inside of a kitchen/dining room. He looked at the dining table and set his helmet down onto it. He removed a sack off of himself and set it down beside his helmet on the table. He looked around the small house, trying to get a good bearing on things.

That was when the Jaeger heard the same elderly mare yell, "Mac, we've got undesirables!" Frowning, he turned around and made his way back towards Granny Smith.

He then stopped in his tracks upon seeing the elderly mare. The senior citizen in question was now armed with what appeared to be the most worn lever action rifle on the planet. He immediately brought up his arms to cover up his face, just as the mare fired. And fired. And fired. And fired. And fired. And fired. And fired. And fired. And fired. And fired. And fired. And fired. And fired. And fired. And fired. And fired. And fired.

By the time she had finished firing (which took about two seconds mind you), the Jaeger felt like his chest had been used as a punching bag. While his armor had managed to stop every shot, it did cause a mite bit of pain. Once the sulfury grey smoke disappeared, he lowered his arms and looked at the grey mare. Much to his surprise, the old mare was trying to reload! His jaw dropped in amazement. The balls on her! He ripped the lever-action rifle out of the mare's hooves and held it away from her. "My Yellowcolt!" Granny Smith yelped. He snorted before pushing the mare down. "My hip!"

He watched as the mare try to stand back up but fail to do so. Smirking, he looked at the rifle in his hands. The thing looked like it had gone to hell and back, being the most worn firearm he had ever seen. Bringing it to his shoulder, he aimed it at the elderly mare. Before he could fire, he was sent flying forward as something akin to a train hit him in the back. When he came to, he found yet another pony armed with yet another lever-action rifle. The only difference was that this pony wasn't an elderly, frail, small mare. This pony was clearly a stallion and a huge red one at that. He was clearly, as some folk would describe it as, built like a brick shithouse. Just like the pony wielding it, the lever-action rifle was also equally larger than the one that he had just previously faced.

The stallion simply said one word. "Eenope." Once again, the Jaeger covered his face with his arms, just as the rifle fired. In addition to being bombarded with a giant cloud of sulfury grey smoke and the sound of a cannon, the Jaeger felt one of the most painful feelings he had ever felt in his chest. The feeling which was akin to being stomped on by a fully-grown dragon. He got knocked back a meter and found himself outside of the house, barely.

Then, the stallion fired again. This time, the bullet struct the Jaeger in one of his arms. The following pain that blossomed told him that his arm was shattered, as was one of his legs because the stallion had fired again! Another two shots fired and the Jaeger found himself thrown off of the porch of the Apple family's beloved home.

Big Mac slowly trotted up to the still conscious, clearly in pain Jaeger and slammed the buttstock of his rifle into the Jaeger's face, knocking the griffon unconscious. "Eeyup." The big stallion walked back into the house and helped his grandmother up.

Granny Smith smiled at her grandson. "Thank you, Mac." Big Mac nodded and handed her the lever-action that the griffon had taken from her. Granny slowly walked out of the house and onto the porch where she could see the Jaeger. "Mac, get mah lasso."

Just as Big Mac walking back into the house, a small filly sprinted out of the door. On her hips, she wore a crossdraw gunbelt with dual revolvers and carried a miniscule lever-action slung on her back. "What's going on! Ah heard shootin!" the filly asked.

Granny looked at her hyperactive granddaughter. "Sorry Apple Bloom. Yah missed the excitement already."

Apple Bloom frowned, dipping her head low. "Consarnit it!"

Granny Smith frowned at her granddaughter. "Language!" Granny Smith looked into the sky in the distance and noticed a bunch of flying creatures. She knew they weren't pegasi. She looked back down at Apple Bloom. "Bloom dearie, ah'm gonna need yah to grab my bag."

-X-X-X-

Applejack collapsed to the ground, clutching her back right leg. "Celestia damn it!" Everyone (Princess Celestia especially) looked at their fallen comrade. "Mah leg is actin up like a buckin mule!"

Wilson walked up to the cowpony and lifted up her pant's sleeve. It revealed a bloodied bundle of bandages covering up a small section of her leg. "Maybe you shouldn't be walking around on a leg that took a bullet yesterday!" Wilson said, examining her leg. "You need time to recover." He removed the old bandages and applied a fresh set, making sure the mule felt every little movement.

Once he was done, Applejack pulled away her leg. "Ah've had worse!"

Wilson looked at the clearly fallen cowpony and then back to the rest of the group. "Someone carry this stubborn jackass."

Tran stepped up and tossed Wilson his sniper rifle. Wilson caught the rifle and then grabbed Applejack's rifle. Hands-free, Tran walked up to the cowpony and hoisted her up onto his shoulders via fireman's carry.

Wilson looked at Tran. "Are you good with the extra weight?" he asked, eyeing Applejack's large body. Tran shifted his shoulder's around slightly and nodded shortly afterward. Wilson then looked at Applejack. "Are you good sitting on him?"

Applejack nodded. "Can't complain too much. Ah'm surprised mah weight ain't bothering yah too much." Tran shrugged slightly. "Ah weigh like ninety something kilos." Tran froze slightly before shrugging slightly again. "Well, at least we ain't too far from mah farm."

-X-X-X-

Spitfire and Scootaloo jumped through the broken window of a house as bullets flew by their bodies. "Horseapples," Spitfire said. Heart thumping, she blindly stuck her shotgun out of the destroyed window and fired. Obviously, she hit nothing but the thought counted.

"Captain," Scootaloo called out.

Spitfire focused on her shotgun, pumping it and firing it again. "What?" Spitfire asked. She turned her attention to the filly and then found that the filly was now holding a bolt action rifle and a pair of grenades.

Scootaloo pointed to something deeper inside of the house. Spitfire looked to where she was pointing at and found the dead body of an REA mare. "Dear Celestia." She looked back at the filly and grabbed one of the grenades. "On three!" Scootaloo nodded in agreement. "One." Both of them readied their grenades in hoof. "Two." Both of them pulled the pins. "Three!" Both of them threw their grenades and ran to the opposite end of the house.

"Grenade!" screamed someone outside of the house.

Once the grenades exploded, Spitfire smashed a window and looked outside. "All clear, go!" She grabbed Scootaloo and tossed her out of the window, just as a griffon entered the house via the same window the two of them had used earlier. The griffon raised a bolt action rifle just as Spitfire jumped out of the house.

*BANG*

Spitfire felt pain blossom in one of her wings. Grinding her teeth, she stood back up in the window's opening and brought her shotgun up as the griffon worked the bolt on the rifle he was using.

*CLICK*

Spitfire's heart froze. The griffon smiled.

*BANG*

The griffon face went blank. He looked down to where he had been shot, finding a hole in his chest where Scootaloo had shot him. Looking back up, he found the filly holding a smoking rifle. He collapsed an instant later, face forever in confusion.

Spitfire looked at the filly. The little tyke's face was frozen in horror. "Don't think about it, we still gotta get to Sweet Apple Acres!" Scootaloo took a few seconds to respond but eventually nodded in response. Spitfire reloaded her shotgun and ran forward, dragging the filly in tow.

-X-X-X-

From an open window, Granny Smith's rifle barked. A second later, a full-speed flying griffon was hit with a bullet. Granny worked the lever of the rifle as she screamed, "Get off mah farm!"

From a separate window, Big Mac worked the lever of his rifle and fired at a tree. Behind the tree, a griffon fell down from the bullet that most certainly did not care about normal cover. Looking up at the sky, he noticed a flock of incoming wings.

Granny, with her ever failing eyesight, aimed her rifle up at them. Big Mac noticed this. "Granny, no." Granny lowered her rifle.

Seconds later, dozens of pegasi landed. One of the pegasi, clearly the leader, stepped up. "Royal Equestrian Air Force, we're here to secure the area!"

Granny Smith smiled at the pegasi. "Finally, some help. Come on in!" she said while opening the door to the house. "We've got one of them tied up in the closet. Big Mac, can yah show them?"

Big Mac nodded and led a few pegasi into the house while the rest of the pegasi spread about the general area of the farm, preparing defenses or pulling guard. Once inside the house, confusion filled his face when all they found in the closet was a bunch of rope. Also missing was the Jaeger's helmet and the rest of the items found on him.

Mac didn't have much time to investigate as he heard his name being called. "Mac!" he heard Granny Smith call out.

Mac, sans pegasi, walked back to the house's entrance where Granny was. He found his grandmother standing outside, on the porch, looking at a large incoming ground-bound group. Strangely enough, the group was made up of two of Equestria's princesses, one of Equestria's princes, four bipedal creatures reminiscent of minotaurs, a pair of random ponies, his sister's best friend, and his sister, of which was being carried by one of the minotaur like creatures. The creature carrying his sister set said pony down who proceeded to limp towards the Apple family home. "Mac, where's mah Winnychester?"

Mac looked up. Applejack looked up. Looking up, she found herself looking at the window of the Apple family home's second story. A couple of seconds later, the window opened and her sister appeared in the window. "Hi Applejack," she greeted while waving at her sister. She ducked out of view and then reappeared, this time holding a normal-sized lever-action rifle. Apple Bloom tossed the rifle out of the window towards her sister. Applejack effortlessly caught it, working the lever and chambering a round into it.

Big Mac eyed the Applejack's bad leg. "I'll stay and defend the house," Applejack said, noticing her brother's stares. Big Mac gave her a deadpanned look, knowing that was most likely untrue. "You stop giving me that look!" Big smirked, of which Applejack noticed. She frowned and just limped into the house.

The rest of the group walked up to the house. Of the group, the two princesses and prince walked into the house. Princess Celestia, before going into the house, gave her Model 14 machine gun (and ammo) to Vinyl and Octavia who immediately took it off to emplace it. Rainbow Dash, her main job being a dogfighter, took to the skies and joined the rest of the other pegasi in guarding the area.

When the four humans got up to the house, Big Mac and Granny stared. The four of them stared back. "Sup," greeted Logan.

Big Mac glanced at their guns, which they all noticed. "We're on your side," said Eric. He looked at the house. "Got any shovels?"

Big Mac nodded. "Eeyup." He pointed over to a shed in a distance.

Wilson and Eric headed over the shed while Tran and Logan stayed over at the house. Logan turned to look at Tran. "What do we need shovels for?"

"IFPs," Tran answered.

Both Big Mac and Logan stared at the man. "What?" Logan asked.

"Infantry Fighting positions, small holes you lay in and shoot from," Tran explained. Tran eyed the second story window and then back to Big Mac. "May I take up a spot up there?"

Granny, nodded. "That's polite of yah tah ask. Go right on ahead!" she said.

Tran walked onto the porch and then stopped to look at Logan. "Once they get back with the shovels. Scope out the area." Logan nodded and walked away from the house.

Tran, inside the house, was stopped by Applejack. "Whatcha doin in here?" she asked.

"Going to the second story," Tran answered.

"Oh, let me show yah the way." Immediately upon getting onto the second floor, both of them heard the sound of a lever-action being cocked. Both of them turned to see where it came from and found themselves looking at a small yellow earth pony filly with a red mane and tail armed with a small lever-action rifle.

"Applejack, watch out!" the filly yelled. The little filly pointed the rifle at Tran, who immediately grabbed the end of the barrel and pointed it away from him. The filly in question tried to pull the rifle back but didn't even succeed from moving it.

Applejack frowned at her little sister. "Apple Bloom, if he ain't on ahr side, why would ah ave been leadin him upstairs?"

Apple Bloom stopped trying to wrench her lever-action rifle back. "Oh," she said, sheepishly. Tran gently let go of the rifle and the filly pointed it up at the ceiling.

"Apologies," demanded Applejack. She turned around and started walking away. "Apple Bloom, stay outta trouble. Ah'm gonna take Granny to the cellar."

The filly flattened her ears against her head. "I'm sorry," she said. Tran shrugged. Apple Bloom eyed the various firearms that Tran was armed with. She took special notice to one rather large particular firearm. "Is that a Colt's Walker?!" Tran looked down at the firearm in question and nodded. "Can ah see it?!"

Applejack stepped in front of the filly. "We ain't got no time fer that, Bloom." She looked back to Tran. "Let me show yah a good spot for dat rifle of yers." The spot that Applejack had shown him was a small bedroom that had windows that overlooked most of the farm. Inside the room, he prepared a platform that he allowed him to stay a couple meters away from the windows but still allowed him to see through them. After the platform was set up, he set up a table with his dope cards and ammo ready to be used.

As Tran continued to improve his shooting platform, the same filly from earlier entered the room. Apple Bloom eyed the large rifle that he was armed with. "Whoa nelly, that's a dandy rifle yah got there," said the youngest Apple sibling. She noticed the ammo that he had laid out. "Yah know, I think you'd like my brother's Winnychester." She waited for a response but didn't get one. "Ah think you'd also get along with mah brother. Yah talk as much as him."

Tran finally looked at the filly in question. Before he could say anything, a distant explosion rocked the farm. Tran immediately grabbed his rifle and used the rifle's scope to look in the direction of the explosion. Not long afterward, gunshots started coming from that direction. Still overlooking that area, Tran watched as a large percentage of the pegasi (Rainbow Dash included) take off towards that direction.

Moving closer to a window, he looked down at the surrounding area of the house. His three comrades had taken cover behind various random items. Moving away from the window, he got down in a good prone shooting position. Seconds passed and the sound of gunfire grew, this time mixed with the sound of Equestrian rifle fire. The pegasi that responded must have found something.

Apple Bloom, who was getting a bit antsy at the anticipation of what could come, looked to Tran for answers, who was calmly watching the distance through his rifle's scope. "What's going on?" Apple Bloom asked. Tran didn't answer. He kept silent as the intensity of the distance gunfire grew.

Then, another distant explosion rocked the area, this one coming from the opposite direction. Once again, a significant portion of pegasi left to respond to the explosion. Tran looked to Apple Bloom. "Can you go outside and grab one of my friends?" he asked. Apple Bloom nodded and ran outside of the room. Not long afterward, Apple Bloom came back upstairs. Seconds later, Logan walked upstairs. He had his rifle slung over his shoulders and hands in his pockets. His face displayed bad news. "What's left?" Tran asked.

Logan leaned against a wall. "A handful," he answered with a grim face. "There's only three of them flying in the sky, circling the house. Other than that, six that are guarding the rear of the house." Logan paused for a moment. "Oh, and there's us four, those two secret service agents, and the farmers including our 'bodyguard'. Everyone else, including a few other civilians that you haven't seen, are in this house's cellar."

Tran stayed silent for a few seconds before finally responding. "Tell the others to prep defenses. IFPs, then foxholes. Civvies should be coming and those griffons might follow them here."

Logan looked out of an open window and stopped leaning against the wall. "Hold up," Logan dipped his head out of the window. A few seconds later, he brought his head back into the house. "The skies are empty."

Apple Bloom nervously brought her lever-action up and worked the lever, ejecting a live round. "Do yah think they just flew off?" she asked.

Logan shrugged. "Probably." Logan then froze. He brought a finger up to his mouth. "Shhh," he shushed. He poked his head out of the window. A few seconds later, he brought his head back into the house. "I still hear the sound of wings flapping."

At that instant, Logan was pulled through the window by an invisible force. He found the upper half of his body dangling outside. "Fuck!" Having reacted quickly, he had kept himself from being completely ripped out of the house by holding onto the window's sill.

Tran ran towards the window and grabbed his friend, starting to pull him back in. He saw nothing but felt something tug back. It was no use, Tran had won the tug of war and pulled his friend back into the room.

Logan, free from his attacker, drew his FNX 45 and fired three rounds at the open window. Surprisingly, all three rounds had hit something as the sounds of bullet impacts filled the air. Tran drew his 1911 and ran towards the window. Aiming the pistol, he saw three flattened bullets floating in the air and heard the sound of wings flapping coming from that same spot. He aimed the pistol where the bullets were floating in the air and fired his pistol. The bullet impacted the same invisible figure resulting in four bullets now floating in the air.

That was when the invisible figure shot back. The bullet struck Tran in the chest, shattering the ceramic plate in his body armor but doing nothing else otherwise. Tran moved out of the window's view and holstered his 1911. He then drew his Colt Walker and cocked the hammer.

The sounds of flapping were still coming from the same source in the same spot outside so Tran blindly aimed his revolver out of the window and fired. Whoever he was aiming at, he managed to land the shot. Outside the window, an invisible griffon was outlined from the blue fire that engulfed his form.

Logan holstered his handgun and got his rifle ready. By now, the griffon had obviously started trying to fly away but it was obviously very easy to track where he was. All you had to do was look for the giant blue floating fireball. He drew a bead on the blue fireball with his Mosin and fired.

Logan missed and then Tran decided to take aim with his Savage 112. By now, the blue fire had died down. It was still pretty easy to guess where the griffon was. After all, the lightly charred black form of a griffon was easy to track through the sky.

Tran fired and the two of them watched the bullet clip one of the griffon's limbs. Both of them heard a loud squawk and then watched as the black figure fly straight into the clouds, easily disappearing from plain sight.

Logan and Tran searched through the skies. "Do you see where he went?" Logan asked. Tran shook his head.

Both of them then heard one of their friends call out. "Hey." Both of them looked down to see Wilson, KRISS ready. "What the fuck was that?" Wilson asked.

"Invisible asshole," Logan replied.

Wilson's eyes darted around. "They're fucking invisible now?!" he yelled out. Eric, who was taking cover behind a water trough, stood up and also started looking around.

Something fell out of the sky and in front of the house. Whatever it was, it was round, dark green with light green spots and the size of a volleyball. Wilson and Eric sprinted away from the object and dove for cover behind the house. Tran and Logan immediately dove deeper into the house.

Seconds later, Vinyl Scratch and Octavia burst into the room that they were in. "What's going on?" Octavia asked.

Logan looked at the pony. "Take cover! They dropped a bomb!" Logan warned.

Octavia raised an eyebrow and ran over to the window, looking outside at the object. "That doesn't look like a bomb." She squinted her eyes at it.

Tran stood up and walked over to the window. Using his rifle's scope, he looked at the object. "It's a... Giant egg?"

The Only Way to Swiftly End a War Is to Lose It

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Vinyl grabbed Tran's rifle and tried to pry it out of his hands with all of the force that she could muster. It didn't budge, not even by a millimeter. She looked at him with pleading eyes. Tran lowered the rifle and held it out for her.

She took it and aimed it at the object in question. "Shit!" she said, upon realizing what it was. She instinctively tried to pull the trigger on the rifle. Too bad for her, the rifle was designed for humans with hands and not ponies with hooves so absolutely nothing happened. She handed the rifle back to Tran. "Shoot it!" she said. Vinyl looked at her partner, Octavia. "Get to the machine gun!" Octavia nodded and ran out of the room.

Tran took aim at the egg again. The egg was no longer there. In its place was a bunch of eggshells arranged in a circle with a large winged lizard standing in its place. The lizard was dark green with a light green underbelly and appeared to be about half a meter in height. It looked at its surroundings with angry looking reptilian eyes, taking note of who was surrounding it. "Is that... A dragon?" Tran asked.

Outside of the House

Eric and Wilson raised their weapons at the dragon and moved slowly closer to it. "What the hell?" Wilson said. Only taking a few more steps towards the dragon, it had spat a large fireball at them. The two men dove out of the fireball's way, barely dodging the attack.

Getting back up, Eric and Wilson raised their weapons. Much to their surprise, instead of a half meter tall dragon, it was now a meter and half tall. "What the fuck?" Wilson commented. In the time that it had taken him to say that, it had grown a few centimeters.

"Hey!" screamed somepony from their rear. Both of them turned around to find themselves looking at Vinyl Scratch, who was standing in the house's second story window. "Kill it before it grows more!" Both of them turned around and aimed their weapons, only to be amazed by how the dragon was now Wilson's height.

The dragon started growling and bearing its teeth upon hearing Vinyl's command. From the gaps in its teeth, both Wilson and Eric could see the beginnings of even more incoming fire (literally). The two of them fired their weapons at the dragon, only to be shocked when their bullets simply splattered against the dragon's hide.

The dragon opened its mouth again, this time creating a massive gout of flame from its mouth. Once again, Eric and Wilson jumped out of the way again. However, the dragon kept the stream of fire up and began to rake the area with flames. Luckily for Eric, the dragon was moving the flames away from him. Unluckily for Wilson, that meant the flames were heading towards him. Wilson tried rolling away and failed to do so, finding that his upper torso was on fire. He immediately hit the quick release on his body armor and his medic's bag, before literally tearing his uniform's coat off.

Picking up his still burning medic's bag, Wilson tried putting out the fire while Eric sprayed bullets with his AK74. The dragon, now two meters tall, sadistically laughed at the two humans.

The dragon's laughter was cut short by the sound of a cannon-like gunshot filling the air. With it, the dragon bowled over in pain as if he had been punched in the gut. Eric turned around, seeing Big Mac standing on the porch with his titanic lever action rifle. Big Mac worked the lever of his rifle, just as Celestia's machine gun came to life.

The dragon felt each and every bullet impact from Celestia's machine gun. It growled in pain, covering its face to protect it. While the bullets failed to penetrate its hide, each impact could be clearly seen as dents were being formed on its scales. Despite the stream of bullets, It began to charge towards the house while it prepared more fire in its mouth.

Mac fired again, striking the dragon in one of its legs. It fell down to one knee, still covering its face. Then, it stood up. Now, it was three meters tall and the bullets from Celestia's machine gun seemed to no longer affect it. Once again, Mac fired. However, the bullet from Mac's lever action clearly didn't do as much damage as it did earlier.

The dragon uncovered its face and spat a fireball at the house. Mac jumped off of the house's porch while Octavia, who was on Celestia's machine gun, ran off deeper into the house. Both ponies successfully dodged the effects of the fireball, which had set fire to the front of the house.

As Mac got back up, he found himself face to face with the dragon. "Eenope," Big Mac said, rearing up. He executed a well place buck, planting both of his hooves in the dragon's gut. The dragon, despite its armored hide, keeled over in pain.

The dragon recovered, now standing four meters tall, and swatted Big Mac. The big red stallion, despite being built like a brick shithouse, was sent flying away. Big Mac didn't get back up.

The dragon turned around, ignoring the machine gun fire, and looked at Wilson and Eric. The two humans, who had been pointlessly shooting at the dragon this whole time, stopped firing. "Shit," said Wilson. The dragon smiled, opening its mouth. Both Wilson and Eric could clearly see fire forming in its mouth. That was their cue to immediately start running in a desperate attempt to avoid being set on fire.

The dragon almost laughed at the attempt had he not felt the most painful feeling so far coupled with the loudest gunshot so far. On the dragon's back, a hole in its hide appeared, oozing red blood. It turned around, following the source of the gunshot.

The dragon, now five meters tall, found it facing another one of the humans, this one standing in the house's second story. Tran quickly loaded another round into his .338 Lapua and fired again. This time, the bullet struck the dragon in the stomach and created another hole in its hide.

The dragon clutched the hole in its stomach and growled. It opened it's moving, revealing that it was starting to create a fresh batch of flames. However, before it could spit out a fireball, Tran had fired again. The bullet flew true and entered the five meter tall dragon's mouth, punching a hole into the roof of his mouth. The dragon, fireball still forming, froze for a second before falling over forward. It twitched once and then stayed still.

Wilson and Eric looked at Tran. Wilson, angry at the damage to his gear was about to start yelling when he realized that Tran was covered in blood. "What the hell happened to you?!" he demanded.

Tran wiped some of the blood off of his head. "I was busy," he calmly replied.

Earlier

Tran took one more look at the dragon and then back at Vinyl. "I'm assuming its dangerous?" he asked.

Vinyl nodded. "Very."

Tran looked back at the dragon and then to Apple Bloom, then Logan. "I want you three in the cellar with those other three royals." Logan raised an eyebrow. Tran pointed at the filly. "She's a child." He pointed to Vinyl and Logan. "And I want you two to guard them in case someone gets to them." Logan and Vinyl looked at each other before shrugging and walking off. Apple Bloom wanted to protest but she had been picked up by Logan.

Tran walked over to his shooting platform and unfolded the bipod on his rifle, gently laying it down on the platform. He then had a sense of deja vu as he was tackled from behind. The two of them wrestled for control. The human, clearly stronger than his opponent, found himself disadvantaged due to having to fight an invisible opponent.

Tran forced himself out of his opponent's grasp, rolling away and drawing both his 1911 in his right hand and S&W Model 500 in his left. He took aim at random areas of the room, possible hiding spots for an invisible opponent. Nothing gave a hint as to where his opponent was. Tran frowned.

A bullet hit Tran in the chest, failing to penetrate his vest. Tran smiled, taking aim at the spot where the bullet came from and fired his 1911. The .45 caliber bullet impacted his invisible opponent, leaving a splattered bullet floating in the air. Before his opponent could do anything, Tran aimed both handguns at the clear target and fired both handguns as quickly as he could. The rounds that he fired from his 1911 did nothing but further splatter against his opponent's armor. However, the armor did nothing against the rounds Tran fired from his S&W Model 500. Once the first .500 S&W round had penetrated, the invisible Jaeger turned visible. When the other four .500 S&W rounds penetrated, the visible Jaeger's chest was reduced to hamburger meat and caused blood to splatter everywhere.

Tran reloaded his 1911, then his S&W Model 500. He then picked up his sniper rifle and began to walk back over to the window, only to stop and walk back to the Jaeger's corpse. He undid the red scarf around the dead Jaeger's neck, tying it to his war belt before going back to the window and taking aim at the dragon, now four meters tall.

Present Time

Tran wiped some of the blood off of his head. "I was busy," he calmly said. Tran then jumped out of the second story window, landing on his feet.

Eric cringed as he landed while Wilson looked in awe. "How'd you do that?" Wilson asked.

Tran looked at his rifle. "Think about it, does your gear feel as heavy as it previously did?" Eric and Wilson stared at their weapons. Tran noticed Big Mac's unconscious form. "Is he okay?" Tran asked, looking at Wilson.

Wilson walked over to the big red pony and then grabbed one side, preparing to turn the giant stallion over. When he did roll the pony over, he used significantly less strength than he thought. It felt like the pony weighed a quarter as much as he should have. "What the hell?"

Tran looked at Wilson. "When I was carrying that pony, I realized she didn't weigh as much as she claimed." Before he could explain further, he realized something horrifying. "Do you still hear gunfire?" The other two froze, realizing that the gunfire sounded like it was coming from the other size house.

Wilson looked at Big Mac and then the direction of the gunfire. "You'll have to go without me," Wilson said. Tran and Eric looked at each other, then simultaneously sprinted off towards the direction of the gunfire.

On the other side of the house, was a big, raging, blood-red dragon. Actually battling it was three pegasi, all of whom were suffering from some form of burns. Surrounding the small battleground were three additional ponies, all of which were severely burned, incapacitated, and lying still. The dragon, having been wreaking havoc this entire time, looked completely undamaged and was six meters tall.

Tran handed Eric his sniper rifle and unholstered his S&W Model 500. He fired a singular round at the dragon's back, immediately catching its attention. The dragon looked at the two humans in curiosity before opening its mouth, fireball already forming up. Eric took aim with Tran's sniper rifle and fired, putting a bullet into the roof of the dragon's mouth. The dragon, like the other one, froze for a second before starting to fall over backward. Once it fell over, the ground shook. The dragon started twitching but all movement completely died out when Tran had fired four rounds from his S&W Model 500 into the creature's mouth.

The three pegasi looked at the two humans in amazement. Tran and Eric looked back at the remaining three pegasi. "What?" Tran asked. He looked back at the house and then to Eric. "Pull security at the front of the house and send Wilson over here when he's done with that farm boy. And, if you can, try to build up defenses. I'm gonna check up on the cellar that they've been talking about."

Eric handed Tran his rifle back and left, leaving Tran with the pegasi. Tran noticed how the pegasi were still looking at his blood splattered body. "Who's the highest rank between the three of you?" Tran asked. Two of the pegasi looked at the third pegasi, who's eyes looked at the other two. Tran took a step towards that pegasus, who flinched in response. "Keep a guard up, I don't want anything surprising us."

The pegasus's eyes darted to the three chevrons on Tran's vest. "Y-Yes sergeant!" said the pony.

Elsewhere

Spitfire and Scootaloo finally reached Sweet Apple Acres. Sure they were on the outskirts of the farm but they had made it. Unfortunately for the two of them, they could clearly hear gunfire coming from three different directions. Most disheartening was the fact that one of the sources of gunfire sounded like it came from the center of the farm. "Shit," Spitfire cursed.

Scootaloo's ear's twitched upon realizing what the gunshots coming from the farm's center sounded like. "Do those gunshots sound familiar to you?" Scootaloo asked.

Spitfire looked at the filly. "What?" she asked.

Scootaloo looked at the direction of the gunshots, the ones coming from the farm's center, and then finally realized why they sounded so familiar. She ran off towards that direction, rifle ready. Spitfire ran after the filly, quickly catching up to her. "What are you doing?!" she demanded.

Scootaloo looked at the direction of the gunfire. "Remember those Americans?" Scootaloo answered.

Spitfire froze, remembering the one that had a cannon for a sidearm. She let go of the squirt and looked in the direction of the gunfire. "Let's go then." But carefully. It seemed that where ever those humans were, the biggest trouble was.

-X-X-X-

Wilson gently covered up the second degree burns of an unconscious pegasus, one of the ones that had battled the dragon. Beside the medic and pegasus was Eric, who was watching the distance.

Eric flipped the safety of his rifle off and aimed it at the distance. A half second later, he flipped the safety back on and lowered his rifle. "Hey, we got a pair of ponies coming up."

Wilson didn't even bother lookin up, still giving all of his attention to his patient. "And?"

Eric realized that the two ponies looked somewhat familiar. "Huh," Eric said.

-X-X-X-

Tran walked out of the Apple family's cellar (which turned out to be more emergency bunker than cellar), Applejack in tow (limping). "Your family is gonna have some cleaning up to do," Tran commented.

Applejack looked at Tran. "And what do you mean by that?" she asked.

Tran didn't answer, instead just opting to walk towards the entrance of the house. Applejack followed and the two made their way to the house's front porch (passing Eric at a window). She immediately noticed the dead dragon. "Ah see what yah mean," Applejack said.

"You should see the bigger one," Tran commented.

Applejack stared at the human. "Bigger one?!" she exclaimed. She was gonna ask more questions but then noticed her brother lying unconscious in front of the house. She sprinted over to her brother's body and pressed her head against his chest. While she was relieved that he was still breathing, she was still worried. "What happened to mah brother?!" she demanded.

Tran didn't answer, having seen a pair of ponies that he recognized. Scootaloo and Spitfire stared back at the human. "So explain to me, how you're different from a stray cat?" The smile that Scootaloo previously sported was now an irritated frown.

Spitfire eyed the red scarf that hung off of Tran's belt. She knew it was recently acquired. A third Jaeger. Three Jaegers, all killed by the same person. She looked at the dead dragon. "Did you do that?" Spitfire asked.

Tran nodded. Tran looked at Spitfire's bleeding wing. "Let's get you patched up."

Applejack punched Tran in the leg. "What about mah brother?!"

Tran let out a sigh before walking over to the stallion's body. He unslung his sniper rifle and held it out to the cowpony. "Hold this." Applejack took Tran's rifle and he hoisted the red stallion upon his shoulders. "I'll take him to the bunker."

While Tran carried the stallion back into the house, Applejack, Spitfire, and Scootaloo took a look at the giant dead dragon. "Why is there a huge dragon out here?" Scootaloo asked.

Spitfire kicked the dragon's corpse. "They're mercenaries. Griffons pay them in gems," Spitfire explained. She noticed a piece of eggshell and picked it up. "Using magic, they turn back into eggs for easy transport. After hatching, they'll grow back to their full size in a few minutes. This one isn't even halfway to full size. "

Scootaloo gulped. "That's not fair," she commented.

Spitfire sighed. All's fair in love and war. She opened her mouth to say something else but froze. She heard it again. The Sound. It was the sound that a scarf makes when its exposed to high winds. That was when Tran collapsed, having taken a bullet to the back where he stood on the porch.

Up in the Clouds

A charred Jaeger carefully attached a suppressor to a sniper rifle and loaded it up with armor-piercing ammunition. He took aim at his target, one of the four humans that he was tasked with hunting. He honestly thought the two dragons would have dealt with them. Obviously, he was wrong.

And what of his brother? He was supposed to rendezvous hereafter the dragons were deployed. His brother's task had been rigging up the house to explode but none of the marked areas had bombs on them.

The human he was currently aiming at had been the same human that had set him on fire. Oh how he was gonna pay for doing that. He was such an easy target right now, too. The human couldn't have been moving any slower, what with him carrying that huge red stallion. He didn't even need to adjust for drop. This was pretty much spitting distance! He did, however, have to adjust for the high winds that came from being up so high in the clouds.

*CRACK*

The griffon smiled as he watched human collapsed from eating an armor piercing bullet. The smile disappeared when the human got back up and sprinted into the house, dragging the stallion with him. "I was using armor piercing ammunition, you unfair shit!" he angrily shouted. He cycled the bolt of his rifle, taking aim again.

-X-X-X-

Tran dragged Big Mac into the house, bringing him into relative safety. Eric, who was keeping guard behind a window, ducked out of the window's open view. "Fucking snipers," Eric growled. Eric looked at Tran. "You hurt?"

Tran checked himself over. Much to his relief, he wasn't bleeding in any away. The ceramic plate in his vest had stopped the bullet, no doubt. "No," Tran replied. "Plate caught the bullet." The plate was no doubt shattered and whether or not it would stop another bullet was a risk he couldn't take. He reached for his sniper rifle... He didn't have his sniper rifle. Applejack was currently holding it.

On the outside of the house, Spitfire, Applejack, and Scootaloo had taken cover behind the dragon's corpse. Scootaloo briefly peeked out from behind cover but found herself pulled back down by Applejack, just as a bullet soared over her head. "Are yah stupid or somethin?!" Applejack yelled. Applejack looked to Spitfire and asked her a question.

Spitfire didn't hear Applejack's question, the sound of her own heartbeat was louder. She just sat there, clenching her shotgun. Applejack shoved the pegasus and she came to. "What?" Spitfire asked.

"Did yah hear where that shot came from?" Applejack asked. Spitfire shook her head. Applejack looked at Scootaloo and the filly also shook her head.

Applejack looked at the rifle in her hooves. "He knows where we are but we don't know where he is." She pulled back on the bolt. "And we only have the one round." Applejack dug through her uniform and pulled out a pony trigger adapter, attaching it to Tran's rifle. "It'll be a helluva shot." She looked over at the house. "Hey!" she yelled out.

"What?!" Eric answered back.

"Do yah think you can distract 'im?" Applejack yelled out.

There was a long pause in the air. Then, Tran answered. "Yeah."

Applejack looked at Tran's absolutely massive sniper rifle. While still being behind cover, she stood up on her hindlegs and practiced taking aim with Tran's rifle. She immediately found out that it was impossible to keep the rifle steady in that stance, especially with her injured leg. She collapsed to the ground and sat up against the dragon's corpse. "Ah can't do it."

Scootaloo grabbed the rifle out of Applejack's hooves. "I'll do it," the filly said.

Spitfire's mouth gaped at the filly's suicidal courage and immediately pulled the rifle out of her hooves. "Absolutely not," the captain said.

The filly glared at the mare. "And why not?!" she demanded.

Spitfire stared off into the distance as she thought about how the filly had saved her life earlier in the day from that griffon. She also remembered when the filly had been horrified by the griffon's look of confusion upon his death. She looked back at the filly. "Can you even hold up the rifle long enough to shoot?" Scootaloo looked at the rifle's massive size and then looked away, done with the argument but still angry.

Spitfire looked at Applejack and readied the rifle. Applejack put a hoof on the rifle. "Yah still don't know where he is."

Spitfire's mind came to focus on The Sound. "Yes I do." Spitfire looked at the house where Tran and Wilson was. "Now!" she yelled, readying the rifle.

-X-X-X-

The Jaeger carefully watched the front of the house. Movement. In one of the windows, something stirred. It had to be one of those two humans. One of them peeked their helmeted heads out of a window, then ducked back down as quickly as he appeared. The Jaeger took aim at the same window.

Then, from an adjacent window, a different helmeted head popped up. It was only there for a fraction of the second, giving no time for a clean shot. He didn't want to plant a bullet in its helmet. If its vest could stop an armor piercing bullet, maybe their helmet could too. He'd have to put a bullet where it wasn't protected.

A few seconds later, the first human peeked again. This time, he popped up a little higher and the Jaeger could make out the protective glasses that it wore. The Jaeger smiled and he fired, putting a bullet between its eyes. There was no blood.

He had been duped. He looked around with his scope and found a mare scanning the skies with a scoped rifle. He took aim again. The mare hadn't fired yet, he still had time.

-X-X-X-

The instant she heard the sound of a bullet impact, she stood out of cover and took aim. She heard no gunshot but she could still hear The Sound. It was clear as day where it came from. She focused the reticle on exactly where The Sound came from and... Her heart stopped.

There he was, just sitting there up in the clouds. His form, charred, highlighted his position against the white background he was in front of. All she had to do was pull the trigger, but she couldn't. She couldn't stand the sight of them, Jaegers. They were why she couldn't fly like she used to.

She closed her eyes. Everything changed at that instant. Her heart went back to its normal rhythm and all she had to focus on was the weight of the rifle in her hooves. She pulled the trigger. The explosion of the rifle discharging deafened her ears and the recoil nearly knocked her down.

She opened her eyes. The Jaeger fell out of the skies, his body going one direction and his head going another. She had won.

-X-X-X-

Spitfire and Tran walked alongside each other, the former armed with a shotgun and the latter armed with his Savage 112. Spitfire glanced at the rifle. "That thing hurts to use," she said. Tran continued walking, staying silent.

The two of them finally found what they were searching for. Lying on the ground was the decapitated body of a Jaeger. Tran bent down beside the griffon's body and examined the stump where the head had been detached. What remained of the griffon's neck was, surprisingly, still wearing the red scarf.

Spitfire noticed the red scarf and her heart skipped a beat. "Fleetfoot," she whispered.

Tran pulled the blood stained scarf off of the corpse and found a small hole in one section of the scarf. "Nice shot," complimented Tran. He noticed Spitfire staring dead at the scarf and held it out to her. "Do you want it?"

Spitfire hadn't hear anything but realized that she was being spoken to. She blinked a few times. "What?" Spitfire asked. Tran repeated his question and Spitfire began staring at the scarf again. Slowly, she reached a hoof out and took it.

The simple red strip of cloth burned in her hoof as if it had been made of lava. What little wind that blew through the air was enough for the scarf to make The Sound. She could almost hear the thing mocking her, telling her that she would be dead soon enough. It didn't matter. She had won.

Spitfire wrapped the scarf around her shotgun's stock. "So why did we search for his body?" she asked.

Tran continued searching the Jaeger's body. "A lone sniper, one from a special corps of soldiers? He's bound to have something on him," Tran answered. He pulled a slightly burnt small scroll from the Jaeger's body. "Like this." Tran opened up the scroll and quickly read through it before rolling it back up.

Spitfire looked at the scroll in Tran's hand. "What did it say?"

Tran stuffed the scroll away. "Just as I thought, the princesses and prince were their target."

Spitfire raised an eyebrow. "Princesses?" she asked.

Tran looked at the Apple Family house in the distance. "They're in the house's cellar." He looked back to the pegasus. "But they were a secondary objective."

"Secondary objective?" Spitfire questioned.

Tran continued searching the Jaeger's body. "Apparently, my three friends and I were their primary objective." He pulled a couple stick grenades off of the griffon's body and then, some ammunition.

Spitfire looked at the bullets that Tran was pulling off of the griffon's corpse. "What do you need the ammo for?" Tran looked up. Spitfire looked to what he was looking at and found a rifle hanging in a tree.

Tran stood up and pulled the unscathed rifle out of the tree. The rifle was clearly a griffon rifle, having a trigger guard designed for usage with hands/talons. The bolt action rifle had some common features, such as having a wood stock and a leather sling. However, it also had a few uncommon features. What Tran had immediately noticed was that it had a scope attached to it with no backup iron sights. Strangely enough, the scope wasn't attached to the top of the rifle like what he was used to but instead, it was attached to the left side of the rifle. The other thing he took note of was that it had a short round suppressor attached to the end of a barrel.

Tran took aim with the rifle, realizing that he hated it. It balanced weirdly, was much lighter than what he felt comfortable with, and had a scope that was designed for right handed use that was fixed at 4x magnification. Tran worked the bolt of the rifle and emptied the rifle of three rounds of ammunition. Considering two rounds were fired, it could be assumed that it held a maximum of five rounds. He looked at one of the rounds. It was a rimless 7.92x57mm round. Interesting.

Tran looked to Spitfire. "Let's get back to the house."

Over at the house, Eric, and a trio of civilians from the house's cellar bunker had dug various foxholes around the house. Tran was actually surprised at the defenses. "How'd you dig them so fast?" he asked. He jumped in one and indeed, it was a properly dug out foxhole that was armpit deep. "It hasn't been half an hour since I went searching for that sniper."

Eric gestured towards the trio of naked civilian ponies beside them. "Something about it being their special talents or something? Hell, they even got ass tattoos about it."

One of the civilian ponies looked at Eric. "Ass Tattoos?" Spitfire questioned. Eric pointed to the pictures that were on his ass. All three of the ponies had a tattoo of a shovel on their ass, the only difference being the shovel type.

"Incoming," Tran said. Spitfire and Eric immediately jumped into one foxhole and got their weapons ready. The ponies also jumped into a foxhole and instead of readying themselves or battle, they ducked down for safety. Off in the sky, both humans could see something incoming.

"What is it?" Eric asked.

Tran lowered his rifle. "They're horses." Spitfire and Eric also lowered their weapons. A short moment later, a couple dozen pegasi landed, Rainbow Dash included. Tran knew these were the pegasi that were supposed to guard the house.

Rainbow Dash looked at the large dragon corpse littering the ground. "Whoa, what happened here?" Rainbow Dash asked, walking towards the foxhole that Tran was in. He climbed out of the foxhole and her eye immediately caught sight of the new red scarf hanging off of his belt. "Jaeger?"

He shoved past her and walked towards the group of pegasi. "Which one of you is in charge of the defending force?"

One of the pegasi stepped up. "Lieuten-," the pegasus started saying. Tran had interrupted his speech by kicking her to the ground and planting one foot on the pegasus's chest.

Some of the pegasi immediately drew their weapons on Tran. "Were you or were you not supposed to defend this location?" Tran asked.

Rainbow Dash shoved Tran with all of her strength in an attempt to get him off of the poor lieutenant, he didn't budge. "What are you doing?!" Rainbow Dash demanded.

Tran turned to look at Rainbow Dash and answered, "asking her a question." He looked at the pony trapped under his boot. "Well?"

She tried to get out from being pinned but Tran put more pressure on her chest, causing immense pain. "We were!" the lieutenant screamed.

Tran let up on the pressure but still enough to hurt. "So why did you leave with more than half the defending force?"

Rainbow Dash decided enough was enough and drew her trusty Model 92 and pressed it against Tran's head. "There were griffons, now let her up," Rainbow Dash demanded.

Tran kept his foot on the lieutenant and looked at Rainbow Dash. "What happened when all of you engaged those griffons?"

Rainbow Dash, cocked the hammer to her revolver. "They tried running away, shooting at us while they ran. Now, get off of her!"

Tran took his foot off of the lieutenant and she tried to scramble away, except Tran had grabbed her tail. "And none of you were hit?"

Rainbow Dash and the other pegasi lowered their weapons. "No," she angrily replied. She froze, realizing what Tran was getting at. "They were distracting us, keeping us away from here."

Tran let go of the lieutenant's tail, who finally ran off into the safety of her platoon. "They fired back to keep interest in the chase and while they were off, I got shot twice, my medic got set on fire, and six of your soldiers burned alive, three of which are dead."

Rainbow Dash flew up to look Tran at eye level. "How were we supposed to know?!" she screamed in his face.

Tran grabbed Rainbow Dash by her uniform's collar. "Tell me what is more important. Running off to fight some griffons off in the distance or protecting the rulers of your country and some civilians?"

*BANG*

*Chk-Chk*

Everyone looked at Spitfire, smoking shotgun pointed in the air. "Enough! We still have a house to defend!"

Tran and Rainbow Dash went back to looking at each other. "Yes we do," Tran said. He shoved the pegasus away from him and walked towards the house, disappearing inside it.

The More You Sweat in Training the Less You Bleed in Combat

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Rarity wrote down the names of the four humans along with a brief description of them. "And you quadruple checked?" she asked.

Twilight, who had been looking over field reports, shook her head. "Yes," she replied. "Even Princess Celestia checked. They're definitely chaos beings."

Rarity paused. "So are they here to replace Discord?"

She eyed a different report, one adorned with Celestia's seal. "They're not true chaos beings. Discord was born from the world's desire to experience change and growth. The four of them were summoned. They're not going to have Discord's discord powers."

Rarity remembered when she first met Discord. While he was a menace, he never really killed anypony, or creature for that matter. What he did, albeit annoying, eventually did something that would benefit everypony in the end. He most certainly made life interesting and if it weren't for his sacrifice, Tirek and the griffons would have been presiding over the continent. "What can they do?"

-X-X-X-

Tran loaded up a full cylinder of some custom ammunition that he had handloaded. These bullets were created with the maximum allowed gunpowder, lead payload, and pressure. One for one, each bullet delivered nearly double the lead on a target than a shotgun shell. Not only that, they flew significantly faster than shotgun pellets or a slug which meant more muzzle energy. Naturally, Tran held the revolver with his right hand, ie the nondominant hand. The instant he pulled the trigger, a bullet came out of the barrel followed by a massive gout of flame and one of the loudest gunshots to grace anyone's ears. Naturally, the revolver tried to jump up and out of the user's grip but it found itself trapped by the steely grip of a demon. It was a well-fought battle but it had lost.

Wilson watched as the .500 S&W barely moved in Tran's right hand. While it sounded like a cannon and looked like a cannon, the recoil that showed made it look like he had been shooting 9mm. "Give me a go," Wilson asked.

Tran shrugged and handed the revolver off to Wilson. Wilson, unlike Tran, gripped the thing with his dominant hand and fired. Once again, the gun fought back. It found itself fighting a weaker opponent and did indeed manage to jump up more than it previously did. However, it still didn't get to jump as much as it liked to. While the gun recoiled more in Wilson's inexperienced grip, it definitely didn't recoil as much as it was supposed to in the hands of normal folk.

He handed it back to Tran. "Wow," Wilson said. "Bad but not nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be."

Tran turned around to find Applejack watching them in the distance. He waved her over and she trotted up to the two of them. "Need mah help?" Applejack asked.

Tran held his revolver out to her. "Shoot this?" he asked.

Applejack looked at the revolver and then back at Tran. She remembered when Rainbow Dash tried to shoot it. "What's the catch?" she asked, eyeing the hand cannon with wary.

"Reference," Tran answered.

Applejack, with steel determination, grabbed the revolver. "If this here gun hits me in the face, I'm killin both of yah in yer sleep."

Wilson snorted. "You'll be doing us a favor."

Applejack stood up on her hind legs and took a nice strong shooting stance, holding onto the gun with both hooves for dear life. She pulled the trigger. For the third time, the gun fought. It found itself fighting an opponent it could easily defeat and rejoiced! It felt resistance but a nonexistant amount compared to the resistance it felt earlier. This was no battle, it was a slaughter! It gleefully jumped out of its opponent's grip and up towards the challenger in an attempt to teach a lesson. Its opponent fought hard and unfortunately succeeded, being kept mere millimeters away from tasting blood. "Dad gum that is a monster!" Applejack yelled. She handed the revolver back to Tran before starting to shake her hoof in an attempt to get rid of the pain that stayed behind.

-X-X-X-

"For one thing, they're stronger," replied Twilight.

Rarity raised an eyebrow. "How much stronger?"

-X-X-X-

Eric ran on a track, lightly sweating in his exercise. He wore sneakers, running shorts, and a t-shirt. Other than that, he was wearing his armor, helmet, and Logan. Well, no he wasn't wearing Logan. He was actually fireman carrying him.

Eric then crossed a finish line where Wilson was waiting with a stopwatch. Eric slowed himself down, bringing himself to a halt while Wilson brought him a water bottle. Eric set Logan down and drank from the bottle. "How'd I do?" he asked.

Wilson looked down at the stopwatch and then back at Eric. "Well, I'd say it was impossible but considering the magical bullshit we're surrounded by, fourteen minutes and thirty five."

Eric raised an eyebrow. "For two miles?" he asked. Wilson nodded. Earlier, he had also been timed while doing pushups and situps. While also wearing his gear and with a person standing on his back, he had managed to perform fifty-seven pushups. While performing situps with a fifty kilogram plate held to his chest, he had managed to achieve sixty-six. "You think it's the magic in the air?"

-X-X-X-

"Anything else?" Rarity asked.

"Possibly a higher metabolism," Twilight answered.

-X-X-X-

Wilson drained the bottle in his hand of its content, beer, before setting it down on the bartop amongst a couple dozen other beer bottles. Sitting next to Wilson was Eric who also had a couple dozen beer bottles sitting in front of him.

-X-X-X-

"But I asked them about it."

"And?" Rarity asked.

-X-X-X-

Wilson stopped drinking from the beer that he had upon hearing the question. "Nah, everyone in our military are just alcoholics", he said.

-X-X-X-

"Not the most reassuring of explanations," Rarity commented.

Twilight nodded in agreement. "There's also-"

-X-X-X-

A beer bottle, held in the glow of a magic field, flew through the air and into Wilson's head. "Get out of our country you bullheaded asses!" yelled one pony. The glass bottle promptly shattered against Wilson's head, shooting daggers of pain radiating into his skull. Wilson clutched his bleeding head and stood up, facing the assailant.

The unicorn in question was smugly sitting at a table with two other ponies, both of which looked equally as heated as their buddy. Wilson picked up his stool and threw it at the ponies, knocking his attacker over. The two other ponies stood up from their seats, as did Eric.

Before anyone could fight, someone and somepony stepped in between both groups. Rainbow Dash, in full military uniform, and Tran, in civilian clothes, stared at both parties. "We're leaving," Tran stated.

Wilson looked at the Tran, then at the ponies, and then back to Tran. "Let's go then," he resigned. The two drunk humans exited the bar with Tran and Rainbow Dash following.

Outside the bar, Tran walked up to Wilson and took a look at his skull where the glass bottle had struck him. "You have an inch long gash that's already starting to scab over."

-X-X-X-

"According to all four of them, it should take hours, even days for some wounds to scab over," Twilight explained.

"Anything else?" Rarity asked.

Twilight shook her head. "No. With the four of them like this, there's something still up in the air."

"Will they stay on our side?"

Update: Still writing

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Plan for What Is Difficult While It Is Easy

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One minute, we were all riding peacefully in a rail car. The next minute, there was an explosion and the train was disabled.

We had been heading directly north to the Crystal Empire for a diplomatic meeting and supposedly, we were going to meet up with yaks(?) to discuss supporting the Equestrian effort. The yaks, despite being a very lightly populated nation, could be an important potential ally due to their nation's resources.

The Day Before

With a light click, the long metal gun case had popped open. It was one of the four that Discord had left behind for the humans and inside it, was nothing. A second after being opened, a KRISS Vector and its magazines were gently placed inside the case. Wilson closed the case and moved it onto the ground where a pile of other equipment had been sitting. Among the pile were his medic's bag and various medical items.

"Yaks?" Wilson asked, raising an eyebrow. "You mean those big hairy things that live on arctic mountain tops?"

Rarity nodded. "Yes, but don't say anything like that near them. Yaks have very big tempers and are prone to outbursts." Rarity's horn lit up and she floated over a medium-sized wood crate. "Here's your armor." She opened up the crate and revealed Wilson's IOTV. The burns the armor had earned in the defense of Ponyville were gone, having been freshly repaired.

Wilson picked up his body armor and opened it up, checking the plates and kevlar. They were still there. 'Good', Wilson thought.

Rarity's magic brought in another wooden crate. This one revealed a pair of two armored plates. "These are for your friend. We weren't able to make a ceramic set as he asked but we made a steel counterpart with enchantments to absorb impact and fragmentation. Hopefully, it'll be an adequate substitute."

Wilson took the plates from her. "He'll probably won't complain too much and I'm pretty sure he'd be gracious that he was able to get a replacement set."

-X-X-X-

Tran sat in front of a large table with a map of Equestria on it. Standing there with him was Princess Twilight with a pointer stick held in her magic. "Yakyakistan, the many millennia old home of the yaks located in the far north," Twilight started. "Early on in the war, they adopted a policy of isolationism in regards to military or economic involvement."

'I don't blame them,' Tran thought. "So why are we going there now?" he asked.

Using the glow of her magic, she highlighted the various mountains that Yakyakistan existed on. "Their nation owns these mountains in the northwest and a few decades ago, these very mountains were found to be inundated with coal and iron ore deposits."

Tran blinked. "Again, why are we going there now? You said they don't want anything to do with the war."

Twilight pointed at Ponyville and Manehattan. "Due to recent military victories, the Yaks have decided that they're interested in a trade-focused alliance. They're also interested in meeting you and your friends."

Tran raised an eyebrow. "Out of curiosity's sake, what exactly does Equestria have that Yaks are interested in?"

"The usual items, gold, gemstones, and machine guns," Twilight answered.

"I can understand the first two but machine guns?"

Twilight pointed at Tran's hand cannon of a sidearm. "Typically, yaks prefer their weapons big and loud but they've taken a liking to Equestria machine guns. Apparently, they're amusing to them. Their king has a personal collection that would rival some state arsenals."

"They can't make their own?"

"They're not known for complicated manufacturing capabilities." Using her magic, Twilight lifted up a large wooden crate and placed it down on the table, covering up half the map. She ripped off the crate's lid, revealing a half dozen machine guns. "You'll be giving them these as gifts."

Twilight removed the crate from the table and highlighted a series of railroad tracks. "The route is secured but you'll be passing within a hundred kilometers of Manehattan, a griffon occupied city."

Tran leaned back in his chair. "And I'm assuming this is when you'll be describing our resources?"

She teleported in a color photo and placed it in front of Tran. The photo pictured the side of a train, one that resembled a porcupine considering the number of gun barrels sticking out of it. "That's the Dauntless, one of seven armored trains in Equestria's arsenal. Eighty millimeters of steel protecting every possible angle, five mortars, eight direct fire cannons, thirty-four machine guns, and a crew of one hundred fifteen ponies. You'll also be accompanied by your bodyguards, Rarity, and Prince Blueblood, Equestria's diplomatic representative."

She brought in another photo, this one picturing the entirety of the train from an aerial view. "Her main coal fired-engine moves her at a max speed of fifty kilometers an hour but if they go out, she has an additional two coal-fired engines that can propel her at half speed if used individually and a lightning-powered engine that can propel her at full speed but only for three hours."

"Did you just say lightning powered?" Tran asked.

"Yes, bottled lightning," Twilight answered.

"Lightning in a bottle, as in the electrical discharges that come from the sky during a storm? A bottle filled with that stuff?" Tran further questioned.

Twilight raised an eyebrow. "I take it, catching lightning in a bottle is not common where you're from?" Tran's deadpan expression was all she needed to answer her question. "Right, I'll make sure the rest of the supplies you need are delivered."

-X-X-X-

The four humans and company stood in front of a massive rolling fortress. "Holy shit," Logan said.

"No kidding," Eric added, eyeing one of its many artillery pieces.

Tran started walking up to the train. "It's impressive, load up. We can admire it from the inside."

-X-X-X-

The Dauntless slowly screeched to a halt with its front main engine on fire. Her pegasi crew members were quick to put the fire out with various nearby clouds. While everyone else was in full alert status and manning their battle stations, Tran and Rarity had gone to find the senior-most engineer of the Dauntless. It wasn't a difficult search, the pony in question wore a completely charcoal stained version of the Royal Equestria Army uniform while also being stained charcoal black.

"Sabotage?" Rarity asked.

The engineer nodded. He reached into one of his coat pockets, pulling out what appeared to be a lump of coal, and tossing it to Tran. "Coal Torpedo. Fake Coal lump filled with explosives," the engineer explained. "Classic sabotage."

Rarity looked at the main engine of the train. "How bad?"

The pony wiped some of the charcoal off of his face. "The trip was supposed to take two days. Now? I'm not sure. The main engine is dead weight and before we fire up either spare, we have to inspect all of the coal."

"Casualties?" Tran asked.

The engineer shook his head. "Luckily the firebox was closed and vented the blast upwards."

Tran turned around and surveyed their surrounding area. They had only traveled for half a day so far and were in a heavily forested area. To make matters worse, clouds plagued the skies. "Good spot for an ambush or artillery barrage."

Rarity nodded and faced the engineer. "Get the lightning engine ready." She walked over and stood beside Tran. "See anything?"

Tran narrowed his eyes. "Not Yet."

-X-X-X-

A distant voice pierced through the cloud cover. "Fix Bayonets."