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What was he supposed to do?

What in unholy Tartarus was he supposed to do?

His horn dulled. His bloodied, glove covered, utterly useless hooves came to rest on the side of the gurney next to which he sat. He blinked a few times, looking down as the nearby heart monitor blared with a single unending beep that would never again resume its rhythm.

The mare in front of him was dead.

He glanced down to his side at the discarded cuirass she had been wearing. The damned things were tested before being issued. They had survived all manner of strikes from all manner of weapons. Even the most powerful crossbows they had could only penetrate a couple inches, enough to cause some damage but very much survivable. But there had been no way to test them against a weapon they did not have.

The cuirass was riddled with holes. The weapons of the enemy punched through Equestrian armor as if it were barely there. One of their number could carry multiple types of these weapons as well, of varying sizes and engineered to specific roles. Their range, accuracy, and power were ludicrously beyond anything the weapon smiths of Equestria had thought up. It was as if every enemy soldier were doing the equivalent of lugging around a small complement of cannons.

As though the damage that could be done to armor with such weapons was not terrifying enough, the damage they could cause to flesh was absolutely nightmarish. The point of penetration usually was nothing to write home about, but what happened after was unlike anything he or any other medical professional in the kingdom had ever dealt with. The sheer force involved managed to create a miniature sort of explosion inside of a pony's body without need of any sort of combustible materials...and the understated nature of the entry wound was even further contrasted by the complete devastation of the exit wound. Among all the expectations he had harbored for his life, seeing a pony's limb explode off of their body had not been among them.

For that matter he had seen ponies blown completely in half by the larger weaponry, while in full armor no less.

The surgeon unicorn brought his gaze back to the patient that laid there motionless, eyes half open, covered in her own blood. Her killer had caught her at close range with a weapon quite well suited for the circumstance. The blast had gnashed its way through her leg just below the shoulder, amputating it in the messiest way possible. Then in an apparent effort to conserve ammunition she'd been flipped over and stabbed in the gut seven or so times. The slashing and cutting movements that had accompanied each stab left behind wounds so intermingled with one another that it was difficult to get an exact count. He supposed he should be thankful for her sake that she was at least afforded the dignity of not also being partially devoured.

Losing this patient was not overly disconcerting on its own. Tragic, yes, but during his long years of study he had learned that it was a grim eventuality for which one should be emotionally prepared.

But this was the twenty fifth pony he had lost that day.

He had not been at it more than two hours.

He was also one of seven medics at that particular camp who had lost ponies at a similar rate.

For months.

Ponies surviving long enough to be brought to the medical camp was an exception to the norm. Ponies surviving through their trip there was an exception within that exception. In a ludicrous majority of cases being too wounded to continue duty on the battlefield went hoof in hoof with being too wounded to continue living, and there were so, so many of those cases piling up by the day.

First they had run out of time to properly bury the dead. Then they had run out of body bags with which to store them. Then they had run out of sheets to cover them. Now all they could do was try to pile the dead as respectfully as they could manage in a place out of the way such that new guardians coming in would not be greeted by the grisly sight on their way to the front.

It was outside the realm of medicine to save any of them.

He looked back up, and saw that his inactivity had not gone unnoticed. Thankfully the pair of blue eyes that were gazing at him from nearly across the room had been very much trusted for a friendship spanning decades now. The look of utter defeat and hopelessness on the unicorn's face was met with a pained understanding from the pegasus preparing for yet another procedure that was unlikely to have any effect. At the same time though, the brief exchange set the unicorn back to action, a clipboard with hastily scrawled names and attached injuries floating over quickly so that he might continue struggling along with all of his fellow medics until the end of their shift.

------

The nights were terrifying. Their camp never saw even a lick of the unrestrained violence that dominated the area nearer to the front line, but the nights managed to be terrifying all the same. Everypony wandered about in tense silence as the black void beyond the various lanterns and lights surrounded them. Periodically they would stop and gaze intently at the latest chorus of popping noises far off in the distance, all but the most dedicated of their number stopping their task to listen cautiously until it died down again.

They got a little bit closer every night, without fail.

He found it sickly amusing that the weapons making it impossible for him to serve his purpose in life sounded just like party poppers at a distance. The reality of the situation was all too familiar to him though. On previous occasion he had had the misfortune of being close enough to hear the deafening crack that was the true roar of the beast carried by every single one of their number. Every single laughable pop in the distance was a pony being irreparably mutilated.

What was he supposed to do?

What were they even there for?

Was there even a remote chance he had just made the wrong-

"Manny."

The deep voice broke him out of his trance and he looked up to see his amber coated pegasus friend approaching. Judging by the post pony walking away with two envelopes held in his mouth, one bearing a symbol of three flowers and the other a symbol of three butterflies, he had just finished sending some mail.

"Hrm?"

"You okay?" the pegasus asked while taking a seat adjacent.

He pondered lying to him for a split second but they both knew better than to think that would work. "No...you're not either, Lance."

"I don't think any of us are. But that doesn't change things. Ponies are still depending on us to save them, and if..." Lance stopped, attempting to weigh his words carefully for the benefit of his friend but finding no turn of phrase any less callous. "If you're no longer fit for purpose you need to let me know so I can have somepony else switch in while you straighten yourself out."

"..."

"It's not like I don't understand. This is...I never thought I'd ever see anything like this, nopony did. Ponies are still relying on us though. That's the entire reason we're here," Lance added after an uncomfortable silence.

Manny levitated his glasses off, staring at them a moment before wiping a bit of dust off of them with his coat and placing them back onto his muzzle. "I'm not disagreeing with your assessment Lance. But what difference would it really make in the end?"

"Pardon?"

"You've seen the same reports I have. One in maybe twenty ponies that are wounded out there actually live to make it back here. Of those scant few ponies, we save maybe another one in twenty if we're lucky, and I use the word 'save' very loosely here. I don't think it's too far of a stretch to say that most of the ponies we 'save' here would've been better off dying, and I've personally seen two that agreed with that sentiment enough to cut their own throats when they had a private moment rather than live the shattered husk of a life we gave them. I'm no math major Lance, but I'm pretty sure a pony who was would look at those numbers and conclude that we're statistically insignificant."

Manny silently steeled himself to be loudly told off for daring to say such things...but much to his surprise the eventual response sounded...tired.

"What else can we do, Manny?"

He looked back to Lance. There was about as much hope left in the pegasus stallion's face as was left in his own.

"All of us know everything you just said. Our guardians don't have the kind of armor they need to shrug off even the smallest weapons they have, and once they've been hit it's a miracle if they ever get up again. By any practical measure all we do here anymore is make ponies comfortable while they die," Lance confessed, voice sounding just as empty and broken as Manny felt. "But what else can we do but that?"

The unicorn was not the typical arrogant Canterlot unicorn stock. He did not assume his fellow medics were somehow unable to comprehend these very obvious facts. Perhaps then he had been so swallowed in his own despair that it became easier to think himself unique than to ponder all of his friends wallowing in their own, identical pits. Regardless, he knew well that none of them would falter in their grim task, no matter the futility. Somepony had to do it.

But there was something else somepony else had to do...something that would make all this death and suffering actually amount to anything but the death throes of a doomed species.

Manny plucked the medic pin off of his coat collar and gave it a long hard look...then levitated it to Lance, effectively relinquishing his post. "I'm done."

"It's okay...none of us will think even the least bit less of you, and if I find out they are I'm going to skin them alive," Lance assured him as he reluctantly took hold of the pin.

"Remember when Posey got sick?"

"Yeah...it was scary but you pulled us through it and saved her," Lance answered with a weary smile. It had been terrifying to be certain, but it was a far less bitter memory now that he could look back on it with his wife still at his side.

Manny could not help but respond with a bittersweet smile of his own. "And remember when she was driving herself crazy worrying about Fluttershy before our graduation?"

Lance allowed himself a soft chuckle at that one before nodding.

"Nopony had ever been able to see a developing foal in the womb to make sure everything was progressing smoothly before I invented that imaging spell, and nopony else would have been able to save Posey if I hadn't run myself to near death refining it to the point that we finally saw what was wrong with her," he continued to reminisce.

"And by now you've invented at least half of the medical equipment doctors use every day all over Equestria," his friend added with more than a hint of pride.

"I have...I solved impossible problems by inventing equally impossible things to fix them...well, impossible at the time at least." Manny got to his hooves and gave a brief stretch, his horn lighting up to lift some papers that Lance had failed to noticed were lying next to him. "I'm going to do it again too, but I can't do it here."

Lance caught a brief glimpse of the papers. They bore familiar insignia of a crescent moon inside of an eight pointed sunburst design. Every field had been filled out, but the only words that Lance needed to see were 'transfer' and 'research division'.

"Bye Lance. Tell everypony I wish them luck and look forward to meeting them again," Manny said as he began walking away.

"Manny, what are you doing?" Lance called out after him, voice tinged with worry at the implication of that insignia. Though their guardians bore it proudly, no research done under it was ever of the sort that was meant to preserve life.

The unicorn stopped and looked back at his friend over his shoulder. "It's like when Posey got sick, Lance. I'm not going to waste time chasing after symptoms instead of dealing with the root cause anymore."

"And what does that mean, exactly?" Lance asked with narrowed eyes. His conscientious objector status was suddenly butting heads with the implication his best friend was making.

...

"I'm going to kill them, Lance. I'm going to kill every single one of them, and I don't care if the history books remember me as a monster so long as there are ponies left to write them."
Memories not necessarily presented in chronological order.
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:icondamariklaizare:
DamarikLaizare Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
O3o

Kinda lookin' forward to seeing where this is going. Are we looking at a Fallout: Equestria sort of dealie? Cuz...that'd be pretty badass.
Reply
:iconbrony17:
Brony17 Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2017
I'm only going to say you're not correct ...but you're not wrong either. :D
Reply
:icondamariklaizare:
DamarikLaizare Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Good! At least I'm not straying from my average! That's about par for the course for me. :D
Reply
:iconbrony17:
Brony17 Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2017
Oh hey you wrote Darkness Scoots! I never got around to reading that one. (Adds it to the "Chappy should've been a decent guy and read these but he wasn't!" list)
Reply
:icondamariklaizare:
DamarikLaizare Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
That be me, yes. XD

I've improved a great deal since then, however...so I may be going back and rewriting the entire thing from scratch. Basic ideas and all remaining the same, but MUCH more detailed. Who can say, really?
Reply
:iconbrony17:
Brony17 Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2017
Hey at least you finished the thing! Here I am what ...6 years later without finishing Reunion? Don't knock actually finishing something even if it doesn't hold up to your later standards. :P
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:icondamariklaizare:
DamarikLaizare Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh trust me, I know that one all too well. >.>; I've been working on a novel series since I was fourteen that's undergone so many rewrites and revisions that it's not even the same story anymore. Damned if I'll ever finish it...but here's hoping!
Reply
:iconsenningirl:
SenninGirl Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2017
Whoa....

.....

So, in a way, Posey and Lance and Fluttershy got a happier ending than Silent Ponyville....and then the war started. Yowza, what a trade off. This is gonna be a badass story :)
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