Chapter One - Wonderbolts to the Rescue
June 3rd, 2170 C.E.
Mindoir, Attican Traverse
The alarms blared through the ship, but Rainbow Prism had long since drowned them out. He had bigger issues to focus on. Top of all of them being the fact that he was about to experience combat for the first time in his life. It was honestly something that he had prayed he would never see.
Sure, the Wonderbolts had become a more functioning part of Equestria's military ever since the sphere had been cracked open almost twenty years ago, but they were still primarily stunt fliers. It just so happened that it was now policy to never leave the planet without their gear when touring, armor and weapons included.
It was supposed to just be a simple trip. After so long dreaming, Prism had finally achieved his greatest dream in life. He was a Wonderbolt! There were only two moments that he held in higher regard. The first was his wedding day. Seeing Firefly walking down the aisle in her dress... it still made his legs go wobbly. The second was the birth of his only daughter. All things considered, Prism was living the dream.
At least he had thought he was, until mid-way through the flight to the Asari homeworld Thessia when the distress call had come through.
"This is the colony planet, Mindoir. We are under attack by raiders. Please, if anyone can hear this, we need help! Oh god, I hope someone is listening."
The message repeated, stuck on a loop. It was a complete miracle that they had even managed to pick it up. The ship the Wonderbolts used to tour the planets was not state of the art. It had once served as a colony transport ship hauling around mid-sized freights to planets on the Traverse. It was cheap and in relatively good working order, which is why the Wonderbolts had purchased it. It was the perfect size to transport them to the few tours that they had begun to schedule across the galaxy.
Prism shuffled his hooves, checking one last time that his battle harness was firmly attached around his barrel. It was. The straps were tight, but not overly so, and the guns were in just the right place to not restrict his wings during flight. His coat itched under the light armor, but there was nothing he could do about it but grin and take it.
Glancing around the room, Prism looked over the Wonderbolts surrounding him. He was by far the newest of the team, having only recently graduated from the academy, but he was beginning to get to know who they all were and where he stood with them. They were a generally fun-loving bunch who trained hard and partied harder. The pranks and games were a part of life, and smiles were the name of the game.
Prism couldn't see any smiles on his teammates faces. A heavy, solemn air had fallen on the converted cargo hold as the Wonderbolts trickled in from their rooms, dressed in their combat armor. They all stood in small groups, speaking in quiet whispers, anxious for the beginning of one of the first military actions they would ever undertake.
"Oh god! Please, someone, anyone! Help us! They're just shooting- Oh god, oh god! Please! This is the colony planet Mindoir. We're under attack-" the transmission cut off to static.
"You all heard the same thing that I did!" Commander Easyglider said as he stepped into the converted cargo hold. By sheer presence alone, everyone went silent as they waited for him to speak. He stood in front of the Wonderbolts, dressed in the same armor as the rest of them. He paced back and forth in front of them, and they all hung to his words with rapt attention. "By all chances, we are the only ship close enough to respond. I know you were all expecting an easy airshow on Thessia, but we're Wonderbolts, and by Celestia we can't just sit back and let a colony get destroyed! We are Wonderbolts, and we are the best that Equestria has to offer! Will we let Celestia down?"
"No!" Prism found himself shouting along with the rest of the Wonderbolts. Their combined cry was loud and fierce.
"Will we let the humans down?" Easyglider asked?
"No!" The cry came louder than before.
Easyglider grinned, dropping his helmet into place. "Now that's what I like to hear!"
"Enter Mindoir's atmosphere in thirty seconds," the ships intercom said, with the tinny sound of bad speakers. "Prepare for drop."
"You heard the stallion!" Easyglider flared his wings, grinning wildly. "Remember to stick with your wingpony and you'll do fine. Make me proud!"
"Wonderbolts, hoaah!" The shout vibrated through Prism, seeming to resonate deeply in his soul. It felt good, and he could feel a confidence welling up in him that hadn't been there moments before.
Stepping up to his wingpony, Prism gave a warm smile to Star Glow. A female pegasus, her butter yellow coat and blue mane were barely visible under the armor she was wearing. She was older than him and had been quick to take him under her wing from the moment that he had graduated through the academy. When they were back on Equestria, she had an open invitation to dinner in the Rainbow household and she and Firefly got along wonderfully. That fact sometimes came around to haunt him, but it was all good in the end.
"Ready, ma'am," Prism said. Familiarity was for when they were off duty.
"That's good, Prism." Star Glow nodded approvingly at Prism. "Just remember, stick with me. We'll get through this if we can stick together."
"Got it." Nodding, Prism took a deep breath. Despite her confidence, Star Glow had never actually seen any action. Mutually reassuring each other was the best thing that they could possibly do. Together, they could get through anything.
"It looks like we've got four ships in atmo." The ships intercom blared again. Together, the Wonderbolts all moved to their assigned spots in the drop hold, which were marked on the floor with four yellow hoof prints telling them where to stand. "Batarian, by the look of them. No fighters, but a few transport ships buzzing about."
"Roger that, Captain." Easyglider spoke into his helmet microphone, already connected to the ships communication. Turning to face the Wonderbolts from his own assigned spot he stretched out his wings. "Synch to the battle-net."
Reaching over, Prism tapped a button on one of the gauntlets on his foreleg. Inside his helmet, his armor and communications synched with the rest of the Wonderbolts, connecting with a quiet chime.
"Drop in five..." The ship started to shake, a violent motion that felt completely different to actually flying through the air on their own wings. "four... three... two... one."
The floor dropped out from under the Wonderbolts and Prism felt the familiar feeling of his stomach dropping as he plummeted to the ground far below.
The Wonderbolt's ship sliced neatly through the atmosphere nearly directly over Mindoir's only colony, New Denver. It was small settlement, with a population only numbering fifty-thousand, the majority of them retired spacers and men and women from the merchant marines.
The bottom of the ship's hold dropped open and the Wonderbolts plummeted out towards the ground below, their wings folded tightly to their sides, hooves held back to make them as aerodynamic as possible.
Prism stuck directly behind and to the left of Star Glow, just like they had taught him in training. Never leave your partner behind. In his helmet, the buildings of New Denver and all of the other Wonderbolts were highlighted by the battle net, making it easier for him to pick out everyone and everything of importance.
As he looked, he couldn't help but stare in horror at the burning buildings and the faint screams that he could hear even over the sound of the air rushing past his ears.
"Highlighting mission priorities," Easyglider chimed in over the battle-net. "On my mark, go into flight pattern delta."
Prism tensed along with the other Wonderbolts, ready to do as their leader commanded.
The ground kept growing closer and closer, and soon enough, Prism could make out the faces of the bodies laying still on the ground. He shuddered, firming himself for what he had to do.
"Mark." Easyglider's simple command came through, his voice confident.
The Wonderbolts broke apart, each team moving to strike a position that the Battle Net had highlighted for them.
Prism and Star Glow rocketed towards what appeared to be a residential area, just past a large park full of large fountains. A raider transport shuttle hovered nearly directly over the area, highlighted by the battle-net.
"Okay, Prism." Star Glow said, her voice coming in nice and clear through Prism's helmet. "Follow me in, close and tight. Let's take that ship out."
"Roger that, Ma'am." Prism nodded, even though she couldn't see it from her position ahead of him. "On your lead."
Star Glow dropped down, her battle harness activating at the subtle hoof movements she made. The guns instantly locked on the target and without any hesitation opened fire. The bullets rip through the relatively unarmored ship with ease.
Prism dropped down after her. He activated his guns and they opened fire on the ship, armor piercing bullets streaking out and tearing through the ship's walls. By chance, he hit something important and the ship's engines died. As it started plummeting to the ground below, it exploded, sending the raiders below scurrying away.
"Good shooting, Prism." Star congratulated with a crow of delight.
"Thank you, ma'am." Prism grinned, adrenaline pumping through his heart.
"Follow me back around," Star ordered, already banking around for another pass. "Let's take these guys out."
"Roger that, ma'am." Prism nodded, following her around. "I'm on your six!'
The two peeled back around, heading back for the Batarians that were firing indiscriminately up into the air at them. Lining up with them, Star and Prism opened fire. Bullets streaked out, tearing the alien raiders apart. They dropped like flies, the battle harnesses accuracy being guided by their battle-net.
The raiders dropped like flies, but not before one of them made a lucky hit.
Crying out in pain, Prism felt a streak of fire rocket through his left wing and he plummeted like a stone as he screamed in pain.
"PRISM!" Star shouted in panic, but he barely heard her through his pain.
He hit the ground hard, sliding across the ground until he came to a stop against a park bench. He laid still, shocked and in pain.
"Prism!" Above him Star Glow banked back around, finishing off the raiders before she started circling above him. "Come on, talk to me!"
With a groan, Prism sat up, fighting through the pain. Looking back at his wing, he found it still attached, but broken, the feathers stripped clean off and bending in ways that did not look natural. He looked away, shutting his eyes to try and push away the nasuea that overtook him. Taking a deep breath, he looked up at Star Glow.
"I'm okay." He reassured her, doing his best to keep the pain out of his voice. "My wing is broken, though, shot through. I'll be alright, but I'm on the ground from here on out."
"Thank Celestia!" Star Glow gave a sigh of relief, and though he couldn't see her face, Prism was sure that she had that dorky smile of hers on her face.
A scream of terror tore through the air. Prism instantly jumped to his hooves, his battle harness activating as he tensed, pointing it in the direction of the scream.
"I'll provide you cover." Star Glow growled over the radio. "Let's go check that out."
"Roger that, ma'am." Prism nodded. He started forward, towards the houses that were quickly turning into burning husks.
Making his way between the buildings, Prism kept his head on a constant swivel. The screaming grew louder with every step that he took, but when it was followed by a series of gunshots, and then silence, he took off running.
"It was coming from in here, ma'am." Rushing forward, Prism ran towards where he last heard the screaming, a large house with a gaping hole blown into its side, a simple prefab building.
"Be careful, Prism." Star sounded angry in his ear. "I can't keep watch over you if you move inside."
"I'll be alright, ma'am." He tried to sound reassuring, but he felt anything but confident. He walked through the hole in the side of the building.
As he stepped into the house, Prism grimaced when he found bloody footprints lining the floor. He swallowed back bile at the sight but continued onwards, his guns active and ready to fire at a moments notice.
Passing through the living room, he found nothing.
"Nothing so far, ma'am," he spoke through the radio. "I'm moving to check the bedrooms."
"Roger that." Star sounded annoyed. He could only guess that she wanted to be on the ground with him, but Wonderbolt tactical procedures were clear. If any team member was grounded and still operational, the other member was too provide air-support.
Prism moved past the living room to a long hallway lined with doors. He checked them one by one, finding two girls rooms, one with a significantly younger tone to it and walls painted bright pink, and a fairly simple master bedroom.
He found no one, but a long streak of blood led out from the youngest looking girls room, and he shifted uneasily at the sight.
"There's a whole lot of blood here, ma'am. It's spooking me out." He ignored the instincts telling him to run as far and as fast from the house as possible, moving ahead through sheer force of will.
"Stay calm, Prism," Star said, her voice quiet and sympathetic. "Fight through it."
He walked past the hallway into a large kitchen and dining area, noting that another room sat just off to the side.
Prism froze and gulped back vomit when he laid his eyes on a pair of bodies. A tall man was curled protectively around a much smaller form, and for a moment he was hopeful that he had found survivors. The large pool of blood they were laying in put that thought to rest.
"I have two bodies," Prism whispered in horror. "No sign of the other residents."
From the other room there was a great shout and sounds of a struggle. With a burst of speed, Prism darted inside to find a woman struggling against a Batarian, trying her hardest to keep him from raising his rifle to her chest.
"Back away from her!" Prism shouted, sounding tougher than he felt.
The batarian ignored him, instead punching the woman in the face. She dropped back with a scream of pain, letting go of his rifle as she fell to the fire. Prism opened fire, but he wasn't quick enough. The Batarian managed to fire three shots before dropping dead to the ground, a bleeding line of bullet holes marching up his body.
Prism rushed to the woman, who lay still on the floor, fighting for each breath. She smiled up at Prism before looking down at her chest and the blood that was quickly pooling and staining her shirt.
"Shit," she swore, breaking into a coughing fit, wiping blood from her mouth.
"Ma'am," Prism said quietly. "Just hang on, I'm sending for help. They can patch you upright."
"I don't have that long-" The woman laughed, but it turned into a deep hacking sound and blood spurted out her mouth. "My daughter..."
"I didn't see any sign of her, ma'am." Prism assumed that she was speaking of the other daughter, and not the child that he had found in the other room. There were two children's rooms after all.
"No," she said firmly. The woman shook her head, pointing towards a small closet. "My daughter, Riley. Please, protect her. She's all that's left."
The woman slumped to the floor, breathing heavily, her eyes going wide.
"I will ma'am." Prism held her gently, not wanting her to be alone in her final moments. "She's safe."
She exhaled one final time, and then fell still. Prism was frozen for a long moment, staring down at her. Someone had died in his hooves. He had killed, and because he wasn't fast enough, someone else had died because of him.
Shaking himself from his thoughts, Prism stood, looking at the closet.
Stepping forward, he opened it, finding a teenage girl huddled on the floor, her hands tight around her ears, eyes clenched shut, her dark red hair tangled and wet with blood clinging to her face.
"Riley," Prism whispered, looking down at the girl worriedly.
She didn't hear him, rocking back and forth as she tried to stifle her sobs. Slowly, Prism reached out a hoof and touched her arm.
Screaming, Riley's eyes shot open. Adrenaline and fear pumping through her she tried to run, but Prism was blocking the door. She froze at the sight of him and her mind struggled to comprehend what she was seeing before her. A pony. Ponies were allies, that's what her father had always told her.
Looking past Prism, Riley saw her mother lying on the floor, dead.
"MOM!" Riley cried.
She lunged forward to her mother's side, pushing Prism out of the way as her tears finally started falling. Prism watched her with compassionate eyes.
"Star, I have one survivor," Prism spoke into his helmet.
"Roger that, Prism," Star responded with a sad voice.
"Heads up, ponies." Easyglider's voice broke out over the battle-net. "We're about to get company. Friendly. Fall back and clear the airspace."
"I'll meet up with you, Star," Prism said, watching Riley carefully. "Go ahead. I've got this covered down here."
Star was silent for a long moment before she responded, her voice hard. "You better not die on me, Prism. I don't want to have to explain that to Firefly."
"You won't have to." Prism shuddered at the thought.
Prism stepped forward and puts a hoof on Riley's shoulder. She leaned back into it, desperate for any form of comfort. Catching the hint, Prism reared up on his hind legs and wrapped her in a hug. She started to sob into his shoulder.
Before Prism could say anything, five earth shattering booms shook the house. Prism felt like his bones were going to shake apart from noise but he didn't let go of Riley, holding tighter as her tears fell harder.
"This is the SSV OLYMPUS." A new voice spoke out over the battle-net. From what his helmet was telling him, Prism realized that it was being broadcast on all available channels. Whoever was doing it was not messing around. "This is the Systems Alliance. Stop all resistance and surrender peacefully."
Prism shuts his eyes in relief. The Alliance had arrived, and they would take it from there.
Four sharp booms echoed out moments later, nowhere near as impressive as the five just moments before. Ships were jumping in and out of FTL in atmosphere, it was the only explanation. The were jumping away.
Riley tired herself out, and soon enough she had no more tears to cry. She slumped against him, falling into unconsciousness, Prism still holding her.
Star Glow flew up to rejoin the other Wonderbolts. She watched with wide eyes at the massive human dreadnought and four cruisers holding position above the colony. The SSV Olympus was a sight to see, as dozens of transport ships emerged from it. They began descending to the surface where they started to unload hundreds of Systems Alliance marines.
"Nice of you to show up." Easyglider broadcasted on all channels, directing it at the Olympus above them. "Thought we were going to have to take care of this mess all by ourselves."
"Who is this?" A harsh voice asked. "This is a restricted channel."
"Commander Easyglider, with the Wonderbolts," Easyglider responded easily.
"Commander!" The voice sounded surprised, but recognized the name. "I didn't know you were preforming on Mindoir."
"We weren't, but we heard the distress call." Easyglider banked around, leading the Wonderbolts back towards their ship which was waiting in orbit half a mile away. "We couldn't help but answer."
"Thanks for the assist, Commander," the voice said warmly.
"Good job, Wonderbolts!" Easyglider congratulated. "You made me proud today."