Perspectives in the Sky

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Perspectives in the Sky

Post by Johan Tercel on Thu Apr 25, 2013 2:04 pm

Perspectives 

My pa always said war was a damn waste of time. Pity I never listened to that wise bastard. 

 I was a young, naive fool, the Tsar's patriotic words ringing in my soft head. "Join the army, fight for your family!" he said. Me being a young griffon, I signed to his force of the Kingdoms, and went off to wage the "Equestrian Liberation". Assigned to a "Phalanx" class airship, I was just a weapons engineer; manning the massive metal ballistae lining the ship was my duty. 

Every day was the same routine. Wake up, eat, maintain the bows, menial chores, drill, maintain, eat, and sleep; day in, day out. Over and over, a cycle of "meaningless" labour. I was one of many of the Tsar's servicegriffons, and that meaningless cycle only affirmed that knowledge.

It wasn't until my first engagement that I found out how useful that labour was. It was a day like any other, over northern Equestria. We were escorting a supply convoy, on the R.T.S "Vixen" at noontime. Not a cloud was in the sky, not a  gust of wind, as was par in unnatural Equestria. We didn't think much of the cloud formation in the distance; this was still in the early days of the war, where Equestria's full military prowess was not fully realized. Their navy had airships, like us; but they had a secret weapon. The Cloud Ships. Magical vessels, crewed by all three of the pony races. Pegasi maintained the cloud cover, cloaking their ship from sight, and keeping it afloat. Unicorns brought mighty shield magics to the ship, protecting it from all but the most powerful of ballistae. And Earth ponies kept the ship in working order, keeping the engines and hull working and strong. Together, they made the skies, a place most griffons considered theirs since the beginning of history, into a place most feared to fly.

But the worst of the ships many abilities... was the weather it controlled. Fearsome lightning, accurate and deadly; gusts of wind, able to push would-be borders from the skies; and hissing bolts of magic, fiery and potent. Equestria had us outgunned:

But they did not have us beat in numbers.

Every pony life in Equestria was valued, every single one irreplaceable. No one pony was greater in their value then another, from their lowest soldier to their highest commander. This was a great strength, to be true. But this would also prove to be a deadly weakness on many an occasion...

---Below the Deck of the Vixen---

"To your stations, griffons of the Kingdoms! Equestrian vessel sighted due East, bearing at high speed!"

Dozing off beside my ballista, I was shocked by the words of the officer. An Equestrian vessel, only being detected close enough for it to be considered an emergency, at high noon no less. "How in the Tsar's name did that vessel get so close without us being notified?" I wondered aloud, only my co-engineer hearing. 

The slight, wiry frame of my brother looked to me, and grinned. 

"Seems to me like our lookout was asleep on the job...seem familiar?"

Rolling my eyes at his jibe, I felt myself tense up at the sound of many raised voices crying out in status. 

"Ballista group two, set to fire!"

"Ballista group 7, at the ready!"

"Tsar's marine squads, ready for boarders!"

And so on, a ceaseless barrage of griffonic voices sounded out a dreadful noise of war. During this whole mess of voices, I went to my duty with the heart beating in my breast. 

Our officer came to our ballista, eyes hard and uncompromising, with a demeanour to match.

"At the ready, group three?"

As was rehearsed in our drills, we gave confirmation; a chorus of engineers (myself among them) reported a swift "aye", and the officer nodded in seeming satisfaction. Taking a deep breath, he have a great bellow that made our beaks rattle.

"BALLISTA GROUP THREE, PREPARED TO FIRE!"

As we were the final group to report status, all went silent. Not a creep of wind, not a sound of voice could be heard. Only the breathing of many dozens of soldiers could be heard. 

No one expected the peal of thunder that broke that veil of silence.

"Equestrians have fired a warning shot, cross the bow! Confirmed Cloud Ship, sighted with lethal intent! All claws, prepare to engage!"

Giving a sharp intake of breath, I shuddered unconsciously. I knew of the reputation of Cloud Ships, and their lethal confirmed kill count. 

Opening the port hole for the ballista, I got my first glimpse of Equestrian magic and its finest, and most lethal. The ship resembled some great streamlined creature, sleek, and predatory. With a wooden hull covered by cloud, and the tiny pastel dots of Pegasi flying about it, they had gotten the unofficial nickname of "Rainbow Nests". It crept forward at great speed, greater then any ship the Tsar's fleet could muster, even at full power. 

Looking back at our officer, I managed to catch the hind-most part of the order from above before he transmitted it.

"-ning shots at the enemy vessel!"

Clearing his voice, our officer shouted the orders from the Captain.

"Groups three, fire warning shots at the enemy vessel!"

On autopilot, I got into firing position while my brother aimed. Gripping the release triggers, I felt the cold metal of the ballista against the surprising heat of my claws. My brother announced that our ballista was ready to fire, and I waited for the order to launch. And it came not soon after.

"Fire!"

Pulling the triggers, I felt the massive kick of the weapon push me slightly back, and watched with morbid interest my bolt's flight to the vessel. It was an exercise in futility, for their shields shattered the bolt before it even got close enough to damage, just as it shattered all the other ballista bolts of group three. 

Continuing unfazed, the vessel made a beeline to the Vixen. I heard our officer curse quietly at the sight.

"Prepare to fire with full force!"

Pulling the winch that made the great bow taut, my brother loaded a great "shield breaker" bolt in. It was a heavy, blunt-tipped bolt, designed to cause the most damage to magical shields.

"Fire, on my order..." The officer trailed off, eyes going wide. "...DUCK!"

He dropped to the floor, arm covering his eyes. Looking forward, I saw the Equestrian vessel charging a lightning bolt. Following my officers advice, I ducked as well, a warning in my beak for my brother. It never even got out of my mouth before I was deafened and blinded by the lightning.

Ears ringing, eyes seeing white, I covered my ears fruitlessly, moaning in pain. Blinking rapidly seemed to help; although the sight that greeted my eyes made me wish sight had not returned.

My brother lay dead on the floor, his throat impaled by a splinter of wood from the new hole in the ship. Bright red blood coursed from the hole in his neck, the lifeless eyes staring accusingly outside at the vessel that stole his life. Letting out a sob, I scrabbled to my brother, and held his bloody body to my chest. I did not notice the sensation of the ship dipping, did not care I was the lone survivor of my group due to bling, godforsaken luck. No... I wept, for the lost life of my brother. I did not feel the second bolt strike.

---Equestrian Vessel, 12:00 CMT (Celestial Military Time)---

Captain Tempest cheered with the rest of his crew, the griffon warship torn asunder by the force of lightning. The damnable invaders would learn that Equestrian skies, Equestrian soil, were not theirs! The knowledge of several victories under Celestia's belt worked its way into his confident smile. Looking to the now defenseless supply vessels, he smirked.

"Blow those feathered maniacs from the sky with another volley!"

Those griffons would pay for the massacre of unarmed, innocent pony lives taken at Canterlot... and he would make sure that they would always be beaten back.

"For our families everypony! ATTACK!"

---Fourth Expeditionary fleet, Griffonic Navy---

Commander Ffolger withdrew the binoculars from his eyes, and gave a sigh, as he watched the Cloud Ship fire on the supply convoy. Looking back at the eight Phalanx vessels following his battleship, the "Golden Feather". 

"Prepare to fire on that vessel, transmit to all vessels."

His messenger nodded, withdrawing two signal flags, sending the message to the fleet. The vessels of the Fourth Expeditionary turned, baring their sides to the Equestrian vessel. 

"Broadside."


Authors Note:

This was made as a flight of fancy on a 12 hour bus ride. Enjoy!


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Johan Tercel
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