by That 1 Guy

Chapter 32: Planning

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Given the current situation of the war, more specifically, his nation’s short list of military victories as opposed to a long string of failures, Greystone had very little reason to be a happy dog. Today however, he had a single, most impressive reason to smile, and it currently occupied the glass-roofed pit he stood upon.

Despite the depth at which the testing facility had been constructed, the low booms of cannon fire was easily detectable. The Siege of Stalliongrad was fully underway, and given the fact that he was at a near zero risk of death, he had plenty of time to focus on the task at paw.

Fifteen paw-picked scientists had slaved over this project ever since the failed changeling invasion of Canterlot. In all that time, the brilliant minds he had selected had succeeded in creating only a single functioning specimen. Oh, but what a specimen it was. It had been tested mercilessly, but today would be the day that it could finally exhibit its full potential.

“Lassie, dear, come over here for a moment.”

In moments, a young dog of light bespeckled fur was at Greystone’s side, desperately trying to keep a hefty stack of papers from falling out of her grasp. Regardless, she stood at attention.

“How may I be of use, High Chairman?” she asked swiftly, her voice a bit like tin.

Greystone smiled. “Intelligence report, if you will.”

Lassie coughed as she shuffled through her papers, pushing up her glasses while doing so. Greystone preferred the young one’s company to many of the other scientists he had under his command. She never tried to impress him, not actively anyway. The moment Lassie had joined the Consortium’s branch of Science, she had caught the High Chairman’s attention with her tenacity and devotion to whatever project she was assigned to. Her dissertation on the usage of Amethyst as an emergency replacement for channeling low to moderate amounts of magical energy was both passionate and thorough.

She was one of his favorites, all the more reason for her to do better.

“Well, my lord, word is beginning to trickle in from our soldiers taking part in the siege. The city’s shield is close to failure, though opposition has been heavy. Permafrost has made gaining ground difficult, and because of the uncert-”

“Internal intelligence, please. I do believe Rex can handle the fighting outside.” Greystone interrupted her, gently waving a paw in her direction.

The blonde dog looked at Greystone quizzically before fishing out the files on the intelligence gathered from ‘internal investigators’.

“We still don’t how the buffalo crippled the griffon’s Warfather.” Lassie replied, sounding uncertain about presenting bad news. “The only survivors of the battle were Alliance personnel, and all we have to go off of is an old paleo-pony text about flying bu-”

Greystone raised his paw again, snapping his fingers. “What about our contacts inside the pony military.”

“Oh!” Lassie exhaled, sounding relieved. “The General sends her regards, and has assured both us and our allies that she has foreseen no issues in making sure that the current distribution of spies is stable.”

Greystone laughed lightly. “Of course she has! She is stationed in the northern half of the country, is she not?”

“She is.” Lassie replied swiftly. “As is the Vice-Admiral, for he is currently asking how much of the crystal he has obtained from the mines in the so-called Empire is to be ‘lost’ near the border.”

“Then she can afford it. That mare is worse than griffon nobility when it comes to talking of great things from high roosts. But she is a good ally. Send her my congratulations for managing to snag that promotion.” He paused, looking up at the various catwalks above him. They too was made of glass, though constructed with a hefty amount of steel garters to ensure that none traversing the clear walkways risked death by uncontrolled rapid descent. “As for what that idiot pegasus is asking, alert the griffons to shoot him down when he gets close enough. He’s been spying on us as well, under orders from the Crystal Empire no less. Now, what of our friend below?”

“We’ve already planted enough beacons within the city to direct it to tunnel close to the center, closely followed by our own soldiers. Luckily, this specimen is controllable, to an extent.” Lassie replied, almost automatically, after jotting down Greystone’s orders. “It is ready to be unleashed at you command..”

Greystone, looking down at the thing in the pit, sighed. “My own son, Seastone, brought the idea for this monstrosity to me for approval. I am unsure whether or not his passion, as well as the approval of this project, was a good idea. It will be interesting to see how well it does in battle, hmm?”

Lassie tensed at the hint of sadness in her leader’s words. “If it is any consolation, sir, I believe that this unit will perform exceptionally well.”

“It is a very special specimen. Took us a year to determine the proper armor configuration, another month to bond it to the creature itself. Extreme tolerance to sustained small arms fire and sudden variations in temperatures beyond our own survivable range. Not even considering the importance of the compounds in the geo-occultic systems that make up the armor. But of course, it’s all under control. We wouldn’t want it attacking our own troops now, would we? ”

“Uh, sir?” Lassie coughed lightly, “I am honored by your appreciation, but you need not remind me of its capabilities. I assisted your son in sketching out the blueprints for the cooling arrays myself.”

Greystone, looking at Lassie, let out a wheezing sort of sigh. “Ah, forgive me. It is my age, you understand. Perhaps I have one lost one son too many. The question is, dear, who is to rule after me?”

The blonde dog didn’t have a proper answer prepared for that question, hell, she probably couldn’t get an answered prepared if she had a day or so to make one up for a peer review. Then again, her undergrad was politics, here’s hoping that it paid off. “Permission to speak freely, sir?”


“Your youngest, Seastone, was a prime example of loyalty and dedication of the cause, but he was too violent-minded. Your eldest, Rex, seems better suited for leading the nation’s military rather than the nation itself, and your middle son, Gravelbeard, is a pariah amongst the community, so I wouldn’t recommend him for the position either. Your three nephews were delinquents, and I can’t imagine them rising past being your personal bodyguards which they already are. If I had to choose, sir, I would eliminate the powers the shareholders hold over the government itself and create a separate series of positions regarding the actual governing of the people, as opposed to leaving it to elders, who know nothing beyond warm meals and carts full of gems at their doorstep.”

Greystone blinked. Lassie was a little half his own age, though nearly as smart. Sometimes he forgot that.

“Oh, is that all? I was under the impression that it would have been as simple as killing everyone who has ever looked at a political rag and going back to the age of stone tools and packs.” Pausing, he waved a paw mockingly across the room, voice tinged with humor. “I could spend a few moments looking over a classless Consortium, smiling fondly at the destruction of all I have accomplished in my fifty years of being a stabilizing influence of my nation before being skinned by a lynch mob and watch the statues of our greatest be toppled over by a horde of unwashed brutes in search for pocketfuls of jewels.”

Lassie shook her head, a bit of a smile on her face now. “The current way we do things is somewhat pony-influenced, sir. I have walked the streets of Manehatten; I have seen the places where stocks are traded. When the current government was founded, it was under the impression that pony interaction would give us bounty. We believed it was better than the old days of pack lords and lone stalkers in the great underground. We were wrong, though. We sacrificed so much to do that, and we can do better.”

Greystone sighed lightly, turning away from the younger dog to look at the thing in the pit. “In the old days, Lassie, you would already have a few children and bound to some savage’s control, unless you were the savage yourself.” Greystone replied. “I never took you for a romanticist, especially given your eyesight. You understand what happened to dogs with poor sight in the old days, right?”

Lassie shivered but continued to speak clearly. ”I simply believe that we could look elsewhere for inspiration. As opposed to a system ruled by the rich, I would suggest a system that promotes the power of the individual. The old Hoovite nation held a similar stance, and it worked well until it was absorbed into the Equestrian nation. While both examples are indeed pony founded, the Hoovites of old employed thousands of hard-working diamond dogs in high positions because of our adaptability to their regime, and at one point half of the ruling party controlling it was doggish. All ancient history of course, but I believe that history is the best source for the future at this point in time.”

Greystone looked evenly at the young scientist at his left and rolled his shoulders. “Perhaps, after this, would you be interested in having dinner with me in the capital? Or, if all goes well, in the Red Square of the very city we are sieging? I can remove the Director of Sociology’s little ditty from the schedule for you to have some time to prop up your soapbox.”

Lassie blinked before looking once more into the pit, pushing her glasses up the bridge of her nose.

“I would be honored, sir.”

With Celestia’s rising of the dawn sun, the city of Stalliongrad was under siege. From Clockwork’s current point of view atop the city wall, all was horrifically clear.

The city’s shield was holding, but only just. It flickered between existence and non multiple times in a matter of seconds, allowing the scant hostile projectile to land with explosive force somewhere within the city. Outside the shield, it looked like an ocean of zeppelins, all serving under the griffon flag, were roaring towards the city.

“Scuzzy bastards.” Long Shot chided his enemy. “Didn’t think they’d actually try it.” after looking around his immediate enemy and finding no signs of enemies that he could snipe or allies he could assist, the nocturni pressed a hoof to his radio. “Crew of the Szary, Meteor, anypony report!”

“Sir!” an elderly voice cried through the device. “Nimbus here.”

“And Switcher-7 as well!” a different voice added. “It is good to hear that you are alive and well, sir!”

“Likewise, though I’m not sure how long it’ll stay that way. What’s the situation up there?”

“Szary’s fully stocked and ready to go. Her shield’s at maximum and hull integrity at a hundred percent. All vital crew accounted for and then some.” Nimbus reported. “Looks like twenty or more enemy zeppelins heading towards the city. We’re ready for action, just give us the word”

“Not yet, but you’ll get your chance. Stalliongrad’s shields are the second strongest in the entire Alliance. What could’ve weakened ‘em so quickly?” Long Shot inquired calmly but with devoted intent.

“A few of the crew saw the whole thing. A ship, defunct griffon dreadnaught probably, teleported in somehow and rammed the barrier top speed. It must’ve been filled with explosives or something because the second it hit, the thing went off like a stick of dynamite and nearly overloaded the shield. We barely had time to register what was going on, let alone react. Seems like the Empire learned a little something from what you pulled back at Valor Point, eh Clock?”

Clockwork froze at the mention of his actions. To think that the enemy had used his own improvised tactic against his allies was-

“Irrelevant.” Long Shot retook the helm. “What matters now is keeping the city up and running. Switcher, what’s the city got that the Supremacy doesn’t?”

“This two most notable installations this city has are the Behemoth Engine and Mithril Factory. They are nearly irreplaceable, and the damage to the war effort will be catastrophic should either one fall to the enemy. We must act quickly. From our viewpoint, it appears that the city has yet to organize any sort of cohesive defensive effort. I would give no less than thirty minutes before the enemy is upon us.”

“Understood. Switcher, call an emergency war council, drop the phrase ‘Tartarus is open’ if they want to know who they’re speaking to. I want every last high ranking officer in the city assembled in the Behemoth Engine’s boardroom in five minutes. Get Meteor in there too.”

“Will there be anything else, sir?”

“Send out a radio broadcast telling all available forces to mass at the Behemoth Engine, and all civilians to return to their homes and barricade every possible entrance. Once everypony’s where they’re supposed to be, we’ll be able organize a proper resistance. Sound good?”

“Yes sir!”

It was often said that, when several great minds were brought together under sudden and desperate circumstances, they could think of and accomplish anything. The reasons for this meeting were indeed desperate, the call had been sent out suddenly, but in Clockwork’s eyes, the officers that had answered the call, two generals, an admiral, and a dozen or so equines of various ranks, were not great minds

They were pathetic, elderly cowards who had rested far too long on soft cushions and in warm showers, never knowing the kick of a rifle round or the overwhelming scent of gunpowder. Only a few looked like they were even familiar with the room they were sitting in. Their panicked chattering only further confirmed Clockwork’s displeasure, and the only calm officers in the room were Long Shot and the pair of donkeys. The pegasus let a tiny smirk briefly escape his downturned lips out of respect, but unfortunately, as opposed to the nearly all-unicorn high command, said donkeys wore tags that identified them as the folks in charge of the behemoth engine in its entirety, hardly a position worthy of note to those that held a high military rank.

“What are we going to do? What are we going to do?!” clearly the oldest of the high command present, a general by the name of Frosted Night, half-wailed, pausing every few moments to take a deep breath in an attempt to calm himself. It clearly wasn’t working, and if he tried any harder he would likely pass out. “A bunch of. . . savages, with wings and beaks! Consorters with chimeras and minotaurs and walking dogs!” the general silenced himself by taking a sip of the tea set in front of him, apparently attempting to drown himself with a few ounces of hot water.

Clockwork was astonished by the things he was hearing. Some of the ponies at the table weren’t even bothering with the pretences of pretending to think that they had a chance, and were discussing how to flee the city.

“Our shields can’t repel firepower of that magnitude!” the other general, a slightly younger officer by the name of Iron Wind, continued to drivel about for far too long. “The city guard only has a proper rifle for every three defenders, and half of them are donkeys! There’s no way we could beat the Supremacy down with such worthless creatures no matter how many!”

Clockwork, eyes widening, spared a glance at the two donkeys at the other side of the table. Their stance reminded him of the royal guard at Canterlot, standing still and unflappable.

“Why, there’s only so many good ponies to go around, and there’s not nearly enough to command their lessers on the front, and with so many of th-”

It was then that Clockwork remember that next to anything could be silenced with a hearty punch to the general face area, and that’s exactly what he performed on the sniveling general before being called out on it.

“CLOCKWORK! STAND DOWN!” Long Shot utilized his magic to project his voice so that his orders echoed over the sound of artillery shells impacting the city’s shield and into every fiber of his being. After watching the defeated officer stand and retreat as far away from the pegasus as he could, Clockwork made his way to the far back of the room.

“While my teammate is out of line in displaying his dissatisfaction, I must say that I agree with him wholeheartedly.” Long Shot took the helm of the conversation, slamming his hooves on the small conference table in the center of the room. “I honestly can’t believe you people! Two generals, an admiral, and a dozen other enlisted, and all you can do is whine! While we certainly don’t have the leeway to relax right now, we’re behind a shield guarding the second most heavily defended city in Equestria! Pull yourselves together for ten fucking minutes and maybe we can push back the enemy before they lay a talon on the behemoth engine!”

“Pfft!” Iron Wind spat reddish, doing an impressive job at looking offended with half his face blood-spattered. “Even for a pony of your stature, you are still naive! We don’t have ten minutes! The shield won’t hold for half that long!”

“I’m over a thousand years old. What do you know that I don’t?”

“Hmph!” the general spoke no more, his efforts focused on wiping the blood from his mouth. “Basic logistics, apparently!”

One of the donkeys stepped forward. “Stalliongrad’s shield, while strong indeed, was never meant to protect its citizens from external assault. This is a city that has suffered it’s fair amount of battle, but the walls are credited for being truly unbreakable. The shield though, that’s a different story entirely. It exists to protect outsiders from suffering the aftereffects of the behemoth engine’s meltdown should it ever occur, to avoid the complete devastation of northwestern Equestria.”

“What?!” all members of the squad exclaimed.

“It’s true nature is meant to be classified, but it seems that the secret needs to be let out. At the assault’s current rate, we have roughly half an hour at best before the shield completely falls to the Supremacy’s barrage. That’s not nearly enough time to organize any sort of proper resistance, evacuate civilians, or even-”

“No!” Clockwork screamed. “Shut up! Just SHUT! UP!” the fire ruby embedded in his prosthetic burned with a terrible crimson glow. “My squad’s known for taking impossible odds and making them our personal bitches! I want to hear nothing out of ANY of you lest it be a plan to help defend this city or completely annihilate every last enemy assaulting us!”

Suddenly, one of the officers spoke up, a colonel judging by the emblem pinned to each of her sleeves’ shoulders. Her dark mane contrasted almost painfully so with her bright hued coat, and she looked almost too young for her status. Clockwork suddenly realized that, from her nametag, she was the pony who granted Charger permission to join Meteor: Colonel Charnel

“Your squad is just that, a small team of soldiers! This isn’t one of your comic books where a plucky little band of heroes saves the world! You may supposedly be the best and brightest of Equestria, able to slay a dozen griffons left and right, but guess what? In the long run, what you do barely matters. If you go outside right now, you may very well be shot and killed, and the same goes with every other soldier in this city. I assure you, I knew ponies who have been killed within the hour of battle that I trusted with my life. But you, you little one-winged smog breather? I wouldn’t trust you to guard a box of rocks.”

Clockwork heard Charger make a small noise in the back of her throat. It sounded like a whimper. It took Clockwork a few moments to realize he was making the same noise, but he quickly drowned himself out. “ Listen up bitch. If you have a death wish, I will be pleased to grant it.”

The Colonel continued, voice cutting the air like a knife. To Clockwork’s surprise, she actually smiled at his threat. “On the grand scale of things, you’re only here because the princess took pity on you, a little birdy whose mommy got caught in the smoke and thus born with only one wing.”

The mare laughed at him, and it felt like a slap to the face.

“I mean look at you! You’re not even twenty, and here you are, standing before your betters and spewing the most ridiculous shit I’ve ever heard come from the mouth of a sapient being! Do you want to know something? Nothing you have done will matter in two months maximum, because you are not an army. You are a single pony. You cannot instigate a wave of troops to charge or the entire crew of an airship to surrender, because you are a pony, not a Celestia-damned regiment nor the leader of one! Fuck, the last time I heard some twit your age talk about how he was the best of the best and could kill anyone in his way? He was a little griffon drake, one who wore the red sash. Guess what? He didn’t feel so hot after I froze his talons until they turned black! I wonder how well you could say stupid things if you had nails jammed up through your hooves!”

“I wonder the same about YOU!” Clockwork leapt forward with all his might, but was caught in a field of arcane energy as he was rendered incapable of forward propulsion. He quickly realized that it was none other than Long Shot’s magic that held him aloft.

Charnel slammed a hoof on the table, getting the attention of the few in the room who weren't already watching or listening. Clockwork noticed what looked like, morbidly, to be small indent on the top of her hoof, like a scar. “If you think you have the ability to tell your superiors what to do because you’ve managed to survive a few suicide missions, you are wrong. Now, sit down and shut up and comprehend that this is where your orders come from. If I really fuckin’ wanted to, I could have you discharged from the military this instant. I could make you a civilian right here and now and conscript you five seconds later and send you to the front like any other solder, where you would die and bleed like any other pony, because you are not special. Your commander couldn’t stop me from doing it, your father couldn’t stop me either. Tartarus, Shining Armor himself would have to take his sweet time to reverse the order, and by then all that would be left of you is memories and an unmarked grave. But I won’t do that. Because I know what I’m doing, unlike you, and I don’t have the time to fill out the paperwork, because I have a kingdom to protect.”

The room took on an eerie silence, unbroken by the faint twinkling of Long Shot’s magic restraining his subordinate, the echoes of rounds impacting the shield, or even the slightest breath. The colonel exited the room in a huff, taking her papers and leaving behind both stunned officials and Meteor Squad members alike. Clockwork felt a bit of dread regarding where she could be heading, and Charger just watched her former leader go.

Unfazed, one of the donkey’s stood a little bit straighter and cleared his throat. “I see no method to properly defend the city without significant allied casualties, but perhaps there is one thing that can be done to accomplish the latter.”

Long Shot spoke up, throat sounding dry. “I’m listening. Intently.”

“We deliberately overload the behemoth, and then run, likely screaming.” the donkey deadpanned.

Again, an exclamation of equal parts terror, confusion, and sorrow tore through the air, this time emanating from a single pony; Haywire. “How on Celestia’s green earth could the most powerful machine known to exist be intentionally triggered to cause a meltdown!?”

“Simple.” the second donkey in the room interjected, a jenny. “We let the shield fall, and that alone would put a significant amount of stress on the behemoth. Given the aggression and size of the force that the Supremacy has procured for this invasion, it is likely that they intend to detonate the engine rather than capture it, but that is also a likely course that they may want to take this city for themselves. Either way, they will rain down pain and destruction on the city at large, undoubtedly hitting some mechanical weak points, which would trigger the behemoth to outright shut down as a safety precaution. The two generals here and the three top ponies in charge of the behemoth have parts of the code that would cause it to do so. From there, it’s a mad dash to whatever bunkers are left standing, locking the doors, and praying for survival. There are underground bunkers scattered around the city that are shielded to prevent magical fallout getting through.”

Clockwork hated to admit it, but the desperate net zero scorched earth plan made sense to him. Destroy the city and all of its assets, and the supremacy loses a massive amount of personnel, aircraft, and fail to acquire the very thing they were sent for. Then again, the lack of a shield, which would atomize the rest of the enemy fleet, would undoubtedly cause some negative repercussions for the kingdom at large. What kind of smoke would that level of explosion emit? Heat? Arcane radiation? Did the pros really outweigh the cons?

“. . .no.”

Every head in the room came to focus on Long Shot, who stood tall, proud, and with quiet fury. “It won’t come to that.” he looked to the female donkey. “Ma’am, you said that the scuzzies may wish to actually take this city rather than destroy it?”

The officer nodded. “In my mind it is one of only three possible major outcomes to this invasion. Either the invasion force is repelled, the city is destroyed by us in a suicide defense or by a remote griffon team, or the griffons captures the city, resulting in them obtaining both the factories and the most potent engine in the known world.”

“Well then that’s the chance occurrence I’ll bet on.” the nocturni took a deep breath. “Under Equestrian Military Code section eight article fifty three, I hereby utilize my position as head of Meteor Squad and chief long range combat specialist of the lunar royal guard, to force the emergency temporary resignation of generals Iron Wing and Frosted Night due to emotional compromise and reassign their command to the two donkeys that stand before me. Henceforth, they are allowed to reorganize the enlisted officers as they see fit.”

Frosted Night stammered out a bewildered response, greasy grey fur catching the light harshly. “Canterlot will hear from this! I will have you standing before the high command to explain this. . . idiotic farce! You will be sent back to your lightless hovel in Tramplelvania in chains, nightspawn! If you have lived for a thousand years in armor, may you live another thousand in shame!”

Slowly but surely, the other enlisted officers in the room raised their opinions as well, for once all on the same side; against Long Shot. Several were talking about contacting other’s in the military to have ‘words’ about this, while a few others were quietly whispering ‘traitor’.

Then, Long Shot shot a blast of magic across the room.

The room became quiet yet again. Fifteen equines looked to the nocturni in shock. Two donkeys looked at him with approval.

“Meteor Squad, dismissed.”

The squad did so, Clockwork failing to notice that his teammates deliberately kept their distance from him. Their commander spoke once more. “Clockwork, Haywire, Wetwork. You three are assigned to ensure that any and all civilians you can bodily reach are safely barricaded in their homes or evacuated to zeppelin pad seven, the same one Szary’s docked at. I hardly expect you three to be able to reach every civilian in this city in under twenty minutes, but I know you’ll do you best. Got it?”


"Charger, Mganga, Switcher. You two try to organize what militia we've got. I'll meet you after escorting these folks to a secure bunker." Long Shot began to gather the remaining officers, signalling for the two donkeys to stay where they were.

"B-but-but-" Iron Wind stammered, looking at him with honest despair tinging his voice. "What about the mithril facility? And all the factories in this city?"

"If we lose those, it won't end up in the total incineration of this city and everything in it. What's broken can be fixed. We all have our orders, now move!"

In all his time with the military, albeit short, Clockwork thought that he had seen the absolute worst war had to offer. Yet again, he had been proven wrong as he and his companions rushed through the streets of Stalliongrad. It was an unnerving situation to say the least, and most likely outright disturbing others.

Even as Clockwork, Wetwork, and Haywire did their best to scream at the various dazed citizens of the city to get inside or run as fast as they could to pad seven, it all seemed to be swallowed up in a panicking sea of quiet. As volley after horrible volley crashed upon the city’s rapidly crumbling shield, it was made apparent by a river worried mutterings that none of the civilians, even those in the militia, had imagined that the supremacy would actually try to invade the city.

Clockwork was torn from his musings by the sound of an explosion, followed by a wave of crackling. The pegasus and all those scattered around him gazed skyward to watch as Stalliongrad’s shield, its most fantastic defense, fall with one last barrage. Dirt and dust from outside the city walls rocketed skyward, turning the sky a brownish red, almost like the scarlet water of life mixed with wet earth.

Clockwork’s radio emitted a short burst of static, followed by Wyatt’s voice.

“Nimbus! You alright?”

“Yes, Commander. Requesting permission to engage any and all targets.”

“You have my permission to royally fuck up every last scuzzy’s shit.”

“Sweeter words never rang so clear.”

Clockwork directed his attention to Szary, a large oval of gleaming silver against a matte field of brown. With an audible rocket of steam and the sharp unhinging of cables, the zeppelin took to the sky of its own power. Moments later, the vessel began firing thin slabs of metal towards enemies unseen, Clockwork knowing that, with each javelin that hit its intended target, said target would plummet to the ground in a fantastic ball of flames and warped scrap metal. The words of a red unicorn rang heavily in his ears, and he couldn’t help but shiver when he saw a broken pastel body fall out of the sky.

The pegasus removed his focus from his squad’s ship and placed it back on the task at hoof. Luckily for him and his allies, there were no citizens within their fields of view. Hopefully they had scattered and either found a suitable improvised shelter or were making their way to pad seven. The trio hurried onwards, towards the same apartment block Gearbox and Quick Fix lived in, stopping for a few seconds to inform errant individuals of their two best options for survival and then directing them to whichever one suited them best. As they reached a familiar section of the apartment complex, Haywire mentioned something regarding making actual progress in the safety of citizens, but whatever it was she specifically said was lost of history as Clockwork’s attention was brought back skyward. Nimbus had shouted five words nopony ever wanted to here when in the middle of an airship battle.

“Incoming rounds! All hooves brace!”

Were it not for Szary’s hull being constructed almost entirely of mithril, it was quite likely that she would've fell from the sky right then and there. An impossibly accurate streak of light appeared out of nowhere and impacted the ship in a devastating broadside, the only thing keeping Szary aloft with a hole that big being a countless number of arcane redundancies.

“Holy shit!” Long Shot’s voice screamed over Clockwork’s radio. “Nimbus! You still there?!”

“Alive and pissed off!" the elderly voice replied. “What the hell just hit us?! Szary’s tough but I don’t think she can take another one of those!”

A terrible pause followed, ended by two words that none wished to here. “Oh no.”

“Commander?” every member of Meteor asked at once.

“Nimbus! Relocate and engage at will but do not take any unnecessary risks! We might have a familiar face!”

“What?!” Clockwork exclaimed. For a moment, the pegasus was glad that he couldn’t see what had the commander so scared.

“The Fury’s here, and by the looks of it, she’s got a fancy new gun. Looks kinda like the one we blew up back in Appleloosa.”

Clockwork’s heart skipped several beats at the mention of Warfather’s personal dreadnaught. “Sir, it may be his ship but that doesn’t mean that monster's alive.”

“Never underestimate a one-eyed griffon with the power of a god at his disposal.”

“But it is just an airship, commander.” Mganga cut in. “Who is to say that the Fury does not have a new commander, a non unkillable one?”

“No chances with that scuzzy bastard. Everyone, maintain current mission objectives. Keep an eye out for Warfather, his cronies, or anything else we can’t handle on our own. No telling what the Supremacy will try.”

The radio cut to static, followed by the sounds of iron horseshoes on cobblestone as Clockwork and his companions furiously rushed to every door to check for civilians. They were just about to knock on Gearbox’s door when something caught Clockwork’s eye.

A civilian, a male unicorn judging by the silhouette, was standing out in the open like he wasn’t aware that a war was going on around him. Clockwork made his way closer, enough to get within earshot. “Hey! Get out of the open and somewhere sa-!”

A large storage house behind the unicorn turned to splinters as some kind of unholy creature appeared from within it, something like a diamond dog but more wolf then hound, let out a deathly metallic screech as it snatched up the pony in its grasp. The unicorn didn’t get the chance to scream or cry out, as in an instant flesh was made stone, and then stone to gravel, and then gravel to dust.

Clockwork’s jaw dropped as he fumbled for his pistol. In an instant, rubble from beneath the monsters hiding place fell upon him, and blackness engulfed all.

Next Chapter: Retaliation Estimated time remaining: 1 Hour, 32 Minutes
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