In Changelingia (West Equestria), Brie gains the support of a Changeling queen for his endeavors. Spark is doing his best to help an ill Wolf spiritual leader.
In Free Equestria (East Equestria), Iron is trying to intimidate a group of criminal griffin interlopers. Fantasy Play is helping to shut down an Anarchist press. Silver is helping his new household. Amber Sunset is walking through the city, and Dark Star has just finished helping the orphans.
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The light brown earth pony, Technical Private Hazelfront, wordlessly appears from the Town Hall along with Saltlick, walking between the two guards of the 332nd. He speaks with a matter of fact tone when he addresses Silver:
"I was in the bathroom [pause] Sargent" He moves to stand next to Saltlick in line, near the front.
It's a little longer before an earth pony of mixed white and brown coat with green mane appears from the direction of the riverfront along with the cream colored pegasus. The earth pony is almost prancing with how high he moves up his legs as he walks, and the pegasus walks swiftly as well.
"Sorry Sargent. I was just watching the ducks. It.... won't happen again."
He nods at both of their answers, but he focuses on Private Frosted Bark for just a second longer.
"It is okay, Private, you are all due for some rest after our march. Just remember to keep focused once you are on Front, you can not afford to be distracted like that out there."
The unicorn waits for the ponies to join the formation, then marches in front of the soldiers.
"I have inquired with innkeeper in charge of Old Mecc Inn, and there are currently 12 rooms there available for our use, with room enough for two ponies to bunk in each one. In addition, I have learned that most of town's population has fled in advance of Changeling offensive, so there are empty houses we may make use of while we are resting here. So, here is what we are going to do: I want all of you to find bunkmate, then form orderly line in front of me to be assigned to your room. Once we run out of rooms, we will see about occupying empty houses here in town. Understood?"
"Sir, Yes Sir." A few of them start the chant, and the rest join in.
A pink pegasus pony Silver can identify as the assistant leader of A company comes forward.
"Sergeant, may I make a suggestion? Organize the arrangements by unit. A squad and C squad can stay in the in, as 12 rooms will fit exactly that many ponies. Command section can stay in a house, and the same to the weapons section. B squad can sleep by the river. With the ducks."
He can't help but smile at that last part.
The unicorn exaggeratedly scratches his chin in thought, but from the small smile on his face, he seems to have already made his decision.
"Hmm...that *is* good idea."
He addresses the platoon.
"You heard him, ponies. A, C - buddy up and line up in front of me. B - get yourselves set up for duck watching."
A and C squads take a moment to buddy up, but eventually pair off. B squad is disheartened by the choice, with one private saying "Why do we have to sleep outside when there are so many houses?" Amber Grain answers him:
"Settlers coming through this area a century ago would sleep outside on the banks of the Misfortune River before fording it in the morning. Consider it becoming acquainted with history."
A stallion moves aside a mortar tube in the wagon to pull out tents.
Whether Silver intended it or not, Silver can see his choice would have all three rifle squads grouped around the hotel, with B squad in a sort of de facto watch duty, and with the weapons and headquarters sections a little further away.
Silver nods, but is a little concerned about morale in B squad from his decision. He looks over at Lieutenant Brisbuck to gauge his reaction.
Brisbuck is anxious, and volunteers his reason:
"Command back in Wald is going to want us to report in, and give us further instructions."
He puts a hoof on his Lieutenant's shoulder.
"We will take care of it, but I think they can wait long enough for these ponies to put some grub in their stomachs. Fate of this War does not rest upon hour our platoon will spend eating."
His ears pop back up from their half-down position.
“Very well. Let’s see if the 332nd can help us with lunch. I am sure the stallions would like that.”
He moves to speak to Captain Forrester. It seems there are at least two restaurants in town, and parts of the town hall can also be used for cooking or to serve food
Silver looks to his Lieutenant.
"Want to see if restaurants are still active? Even if they have been abandoned, we can still make use of their facilities for our own needs."
Moving down the street, and further in the direction of Wald, Silver comes across the Sagebrush Saloon, a building of wooden planks, perhaps containing a second floor (hard to tell), and appearing like an old western saloon, although the varnish on the wood and smaller details suggest a more recent construction. Silver is told that one street over is a diner.
Silver checks out the Saloon.
The door is locked. Move on, or enter?
Silver decides to check all of his options before breaking and entering.
Perhaps Silver decides to go to another restaurant. Branching off from Old Mecc Trail Road is Main Street, hosting mostly comparatively modern brick buildings, a partly wooden post office located at the branch of the two roads being an exception. There’s a school house with a tall, vaulted roof, the backside of the Courthouse, a police station, and Matilda’s Diner, right next to a clothing store. Matilda’s Diner is glass fronted and made of brick, with a second floor above. A light is on inside, but the door is locked. A coffee shop is unlocked and has lights on, but is unoccupied. It appears that only the post office is occupied, but electricity is still on.
Silver can break down doors with options all the way up to TNT, or see if a less intrusive way to enter locked buildings is available.
Silver checks the coffee shop first to see if they have everything the platoon would need to prepare lunch.
There is no proper kitchen. There are some pastries, which seem to be more or less in good condition. The refrigerator, works, is on, and contains milk which seems to be locally sourced, unpasteurized, and in good condition. Coffee itself is very limited, perhaps unsurprisingly given wartime shortages.
"No doubt some treats would go over well with platoon. But still, no kitchen."
Silver tries Matilda's Diner. He first tries knocking at the door to see if someone is inside.
No pony is inside. The light is over the front counter, and seems to be one used primarily at night.
Silver next looks around the building for an alternate entrance.
There seems to be a side door - opaque wood - but it is also locked
"Hmm. We need to bring pegasus to see if second floor windows are unlocked."
Salt lick volunteers, flying up and unlatching wooden shutters on the windows, but not lifting them up. Saltlick says he can’t open it, though it’s not clear from Silver’s position whether the window is locked inside, or if Saltlick just can’t hover long enough to push it up. Salt lick goes to the roof, which is flat, but reports that there is no rooftop entry. All roofs, except the schoolhouse and the church, have been flat thus far, contrary to the fact that it’s below freezing in this location for a significant portion of the year.
Silver's horn lights to let him reach out with his telekinesis. He tries to open the second floor windows with his magic.
Silver's magic does not extend that far, nor is it likely Silver could feel out the unseen latch if it did.
Silver looks at Brisbuck.
"Know of any troublemakers in platoon? One who can pick locks?"
"We can ask" He answers.
It takes a few minutes, but it is reported an assistant machinegunner in the weapons squad from Manehattan, knows how to do a thing or two. The kind of scrawny looking green earth pony uses a screw driver and a couple other devices used in taking apart weapons, to pick at the lock. After two minutes, it opens.
"Excellent work, soldier! There are pastries in nearby coffee shop. Go ahead and have one."
"Don't gotta order me to take a croissant" he heads off to the coffee shop>>138823No boop the snootendoodle
Amber rushes to the area in question and looks for a lamp on an unoccupied booth table.
Silver meanwhile enters the unlocked diner.
There is indeed a lamp on two of the tables>>138827
Silver opens it to see a counter, a black chalk board detailing, among other things, that sandwiches are 3 bits for a combo, and a number of wooden tables with bench style seats connected to the tables.
Looking in the back, there are a number of larger pots, and food like potatoes (especially), carrots, lettuce (some of this is older), corn, cheese, and alfalfa.
"This is better than coffee shop for equipment. You think this will work, Lieutenant."
“Well, the captain was willing to offer services of cooks at the town hall, but I think this spreads out the work a bit. I think the stallions may appreciate the environment for a while, especially where we are headed.”
"Let us tell platoon of lunch plan, then."
The soldiers are informed, and a few of them volunteer for cook duty, while a few more are volunteered. The pots aren’t quite big enough to serve everyone, requiring food times and servings to be staggered
Silver himself decides to volunteer to cook, in order to help things along.
This is probably for the better, as some of the recruits are clueless when it comes to cooking.
Who eats first is determined largely by pay grade, with the Lieutenant sitting down first. This seems necessary, as his anxiety has not eased.
Silver looks through the ingredients they have on hoof to cook with.
Potatoes stick out as the most abundant of the available cooking ingredients, but there are also decent levels of wheat straw, alfalfa, carrots, a number of fresh apples, onions, celery, peas, green beans, tomato paste, tomatoes (not as many, though), wheat bread (some of this is going stale), corn, and oats.
Silver directs the volunteer cooks to use the tomatos, tomato paste, and wheat bread to make tomato soup and toast. He also looks for some seasonings to make it more flavorful.
These can be made (some basil, cheese, and oregano provide flavoring) though the supplies of tomatoes and tomato paste are quickly exhausted
Silver looks at the supplies of potatoes, and helps the cooks to make some baked potatoes.
Amber grabs the lamp and takes it over to the couple's table.
Amber has the lamp.... where to plug it in, though?>>138839
Pretty straight forward, just boil the potatoes in the big pot. Hopefully there is enough material to go with it.
Silver works with the cooks to hopefully make enough for the platoon.
She's not quite sure why the lamp doesn't turn on, but she's well aware that she's short on time. "Pardon me, but hopefully this will make it up for you.
I'm sure the waiter can help get this to work."
It's a bit of a challenge, but eventually
enough food is made for almost fifty soldiers. It takes several bags and full pots of potatoes though.>>138843
She scrunches at the lamp. But it's Melon Mangrove's problem now
Amber returns to the entrance, hoping to herself that the other customers haven't grown too impatient.
An older stallion in a military uniform takes off his hat, and says:
"Yes, I'm here with the meet up. I'm a little late, so they should already be seated"
>>138846"Oh, of course. They should be in the front here,"
she says, gesturing with a smile.
Silver wipes his brow after baking the last of the potatos, those for himself and the cooks. He thanks and congratulates the other cooks on their hard day's work, and takes his own potato to a table to eat.
It's a simple potato, but it'll do. Butter is almost used up. Silver is joined by Amber Grain, Saltlick, and Firm Heart. Brisbuck is at the table as well, though he has long since finished his tomato soup.>>138847
"Thank's, ma'am." The stallion nods to her, and joins his fellows.
Are the three ponies remaining still there?
Silver licks his lips at the sight of his potato, but instead turns to Brisbuck while he waits for it to cool somewhat.
"I am surprised you are still here. What is up?"
They have yet to go to a different restaurant.>>138851
"Nothing. I had the stallions move the cart off the main road. Nothing new to report otherwise."
"We're together" the mare answers. It's a stallion, a mare, and a colt who is at least old enough for a cutie mark. They aren't dressed fancy
, but they are at least wearing clothing.
>>138854"Certainly, right this way!"
She takes them to a booth/table combination operated by De Sew.
Silver shrugs, and pokes some small holes with his fork in the potato to help it cool faster.
"What about you? You have not talked much about yourself personally."
They take a moment to figure out which side of the table they want to sit on, but they take their menus and sit down.>>138856
Normally, the commissioned officer in a platoon is older than the privates, and sometimes older than the non-commissioned officers. But with this new group, so many of the recruits of higher and diverse ages that Bisbuck isn't much above the median of the group. He begins to answer Silver's question
"Well... an ancestor of mine was a knight, who saved the life of a particular nobleman in battle. So Celestia rewarded him with a grant of land, and a minor noble title, and that is how the Brisbuck family became important in the region of Fillydelphia. Another ancestor sold the lands for royalties on coal mines. One younger brother took his minor share of the inheritance and left to the Dominion, where now the "Brisbuck" name is even more influential, because he used that money to buy up land for sheep farming. Anyways, my father is a councilman in Fillydelphia. He believes in Progressive Harmonism, and has gained fame for challenging the power of the Unions there. I thought I would go to school and become a teacher. You know, teach Equestrian Literature at a high school level. When the Changelings attacked, they started the draft. But I got a deferment because I was in college. But I decided to join the ROTC to become an officer. Then they changed the draft, so I was drafted, and went to Officer Cadet School. I just graduated that, and now I am sent here, to lead a platoon in the 23rd in the Cascadian Front."
Amber breathes in and out. It must be getting late; she certainly is starting to feel the wear of the day and hopes it will conclude soon.
It isn't entirely
over, as a couple more ponies come in for the bar, but the evening is unambiguously winding down. It's at least 9 PM now. The lone stallion in the booth leaves, as does a couple or two, and other patrons Amber can't always recognize.
Silver takes a bite of potato, now that it's cooled somewhat.
"Mmm...I can believe that. You were very intelligent in officer school, from what I heard of you. I also suppose that makes you noble, sort of."
He smiles, one of few times his expression has changed.
"Only Gentlemen or Patrician rank. But owning a coal mine or sheep ranch in more modern times... You could say that is nobility of a sort. Anyways, that is my family."
The air in the room is colder than would be preferred indoors; raised by the the cooking and the presence of so many warm bodies in a room, but no proper heating. At least the wind is closed out. The ceiling above is wooden with exposed wooden rafters and lights attached to ceiling fans. On the wall of the kitchen is a poster to buy war bonds, on the far wall near the bathrooms is a large wooden symbol belonging to what must be some ranch or other local institution. It's of a Buffalo. Hanging from the ceiling by the windows are two fags - the light blue of sun and moon, with two alicorn sisters in the sky surrounded by starts, and a dark blue, white, and green striped flag with a scene of a river, forest, and mountains in a circle in the center.
Amber makes sure to tell them she hopes they have had a good experience and wishes them a safe trip home.
Some just leave, some wave or nod, and some say "Thank you. You too!"
Silver looks at the wall and ceiling decorations while enjoying his potato.
"There is not much to say about my family. We primarily hail from Severyana. My father was Royal Guard quartermaster, and as far as I know most of my family dating back as far as Severyanan Empire has been in military."
“So you’re upholding family tradition?”
He looks down and then back up
“Are you caterer military?”
Now it's just a matter of waiting, though the cold, hunger and constant standing is wearing on her mood a bit.
"More like I felt calling to help Equestria in her greatest time of need. It is my first time in military, but I have seen combat before."
After a maddening 30 minutes, and two more young adult stallions who come in to try be seated at almost exactly the time Amber’s shift is over, Amber is done at 9:32. The restaurant is not closed yet, and the bar is still open.>>138867
“The calling I can understand.” He nods, but then turns his head.
“But... where have you seen combat before?”
He swallows a bite of potato, and looks at Brisbuck.
"I was bit of adventurer and sword-for-hire in my younger days."
Amber almost wishes she could stay around and chat. Almost. She goes to the kitchen and, if they're not too busy, asks if she could have some leftover food.
He has a smile that is almost a wince, showing off his upper row of teeth.
“Why would you fight for hire?”
The zebra colt in the back bites on his lips, then offers a sandwich that was sent back because it was the wrong order.
>>138872"Thank you kindly, but I have hardly had anything to eat all day. May I please have some more?"
She looks practically ashamed to be asking this.
"Heh" He seems to find the scene entertaining, smiling
"You want some soup? We got some soup left over?"
The zebra smiles, and with a spoon carefully empties out what remains of a large pot into a bowl. He takes out some bread and adds it to a plate under the bowl.
"Here ya are, miss."
>>138876"Thank you, you are too kind…"
, she says, gratefully smiling. She finds a place to sit down where she won't be in the way.
He turns his body to show his flank...before realizing that it's covered by his fatigues.
"My cutie mark is of sword. That combined with my desire for adventure as young stallion pretty well determined what I would do with my life."
He smiles back to her.
Presumably, Amber goes out back into the restaurant, finding the bar is still busy (busier, if anything), though ponies are starting to go home.>>138878
He gives an awkward smile
"I have a pen." He says
"Adventure, but a very different type. More... safe
Amber will enjoy this meal at the restaurant before setting off back home.
The cook-colt in the kitchen comes out and looks over at amber from the door frame, viewing a far from over the bar. Salt Mixer converses with a new set of patrons. The two giggling mares that Amber seated at the beginning of the night are still here, now moved into a booth where they cling on to the two pegasus stallions who came in earlier. The two fancily dressed mares have up and left. The large party of a couple families have long gone, and the reunion of veterans is leaving only now. The trio of business ponies is starting to leave. De Sew takes up payments, Melon Mangrove cleans up tables, and Mustard Trim sits down at a table, not evidently doing anything besides reserving time to himself.
A soft tune plays on a phonograph.
Silver gives him a grin.
"You know what they say: pen is mightier than sword."
“Heh. Indeed they do. I hope it holds true...”
Silver finishes his potato, and waits for the others to finish their own meals.
Though they continue talking amongst themselves, they promptly finish eating
Silver looks to Brisbane.
"Unless you have already assigned group to it, last task should be telegraph lines."
“Yes, there is the matter of the telegraph lines...” he answers
"Then I will take small squad and investigate, unless you have need of me here."
“That should do nicely” he says. “Make it happen”
Silver salutes his Lieutenant.
"Sir, yes sir."
The unicorn looks to the three other occupants of the table.
"What of it, soldiers, interested in joining me?"
“I can join. But it may be wise that I see to it the stallions are orderly while they are in town.”
“I can join, no problem.”
“Repairing lines is.. not quite my specialty.”
Silver nods to Saltlick first, then addresses Amber Grain's concern.
"I am certain Lieutenant can keep troops reigned in during our absense."
He then turns to Firm Heart.
"I figured as much, but thought it would still be prudent to ask. I will find another."
“He seems more interested in the 332nd.” He smiles to him. “But... surely he can. Can’t he?”
Firm Heart nods and smiles sheepishly