15 September 2017 18:20 hours.
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN THEY DIDN'T FIND HIM?" Shouted Glory.
"I mean just that. The Navy found the wreckage but not him", Tex replied.
"Dammit Discord's minions must have got to him first", Ice yelled, throwing a bottle against the wall.
"It's all my fault" Glory said again. The bickering continued until Maverick spoke up.
"That is enough. All of you." Everypony quieted down.
"Yelling and blaming isn't going to get him back any quicker. And if you keep feeling that way you'll be the next to get shot down. We've still got a job to do."
His words seemed to calm them down. After a moment, Glory broke the silence.
"Guess i'm your wingmare now. I won't let you out of my site".
Tex then spoke up
"OK ponies. Let's get out of our suits. Our princess will be addressing the nation at twenty hundred hours. We can watch it while we eat".
Thorinia, New Lunar Republic
The capital of the Republic was abuzz with activity. Hundreds of ponies ran through the streets to the assembly area in front of Luna's palace. Overhead the Shadowbolts, without their planes, performed stunts and fireworks were set off. Soon Luna flew out of the palace and landed on top of a large rock that she used as her podium. The crowd roared with cheers. She then spoke.
"Citizens of the Republic! I come before you with good news. As you know the Solar Empire made an attempt to capture the city of Hollow Shades. Thanks to the overwhelming power of our military my sister's army has been pushed back across the border!" The crowd roared with cheers and applause. Then she continued.
"This victory only strengthens our resolve to end this war and bring peace, unity, and freedom to Equestria". More cheering erupted.
"We cannot forget about our other battle though. Discord poses a threat not only to Equestria, but to the entire world. If we can force my sister to end hostilities, we can focus the full power of our military on him. We've seen what he's done to the three other countries under his control. That will NOT happen here!"
Luna continued talking for another ten minutes, with a flyover of the F-22's of the 1st Tactical Fighter Squadron. The Shadows were the top squadron in the NLR Air Force.
Inside the planes, the pilots listened to the speech over the radio.
"Guardian one to Shadow squadron the flyover is complete. Return to base."
"Roger Guardian", replied Shadow One. Shadow Two then contacted her.
"Hey Viper. You think this victory will be a turning point in the war?"
"No. It'll take something major to do that. All we did was push them back this time".
"So what do you think it will take?"
"We have to strike hard. Do something that cripples their war machine". Dash's voice changed.
"I'm worried about this superweapon intelligence has been mumbling about."
"What do you think it is?"
"I don't know. It can't be one of mass destruction because it would cause too many civilian casualties. It has to be something tactical."
Shadow 3 chimed in.
"I hope it's just a rumor. We can't afford much more losses".
"I hear that". Dash replied. And the planes returned to Thorinia Air Force Base.
Canterlot, Solar Empire Equestria
Shortly after Luna finished her speach, Celestia made one of her own from the castle over the state TV station.
"As you know we failed to take back Hollow Shades from the Republic, but rest assured. Even if we gain no ground from them, they will gain no more ground from us either. Likewise the Legion of Discord will capture no more of our territory either. We now have plans in place to enforce this.
And we will watch as the NLR forces are slowly crushed by Discord. And just when they are about to fall, we will step in and finish him off once and for all. And then force my sister to accept our terms of surrender."
At Mareimar Air Force Base just outside Canterlot, the members of SEAF squadron VF-10 watched the broadcast. One member of the squadron turned to the leader and said: "Oh my. This isn't good".
The squadron leader replied.
"Don't sweat it. It's not like we lost any ground. I just hope this plan of hers is the answer. All I've heard is speculation about it. Discord is a far bigger threat than the Republic. And I wish she would realize that."
"I just want this war to be over. I miss my friends who are on the other side. Especially a certain one."
"We all do." she replied.
Crystal City, Gracemareia.
Capital of the Legion of Discord.
Discord watched the speeches of both princesses with his second in command.
"Look at them. They both think they can defeat us alone. They will soon find out otherwise." Discord then asked him about something.
"How is our little project coming along?"
"Good your highness. We've encountered some problems but have either fixed them or are working on them. If all goes well it will be ready within two weeks".
"Excellent." He then turned back towards the TV.
"Your time is almost up Celestia and Luna".
Meanwhile back at Whitemare the base mess hall was full of chatter about the speech.
"Well at least it was good news", said Angel.
"I was hoping to hear Celestia surrendered", replied Ice. "Then I can visit my family in Manehattan again".
Though the mainland was under NLR control, the island of Manehattan remained a Solar Empire stronghold. Attacks on the island had been limited due to the high risk of civilian casualties.
"Your parents live there?" asked Maverick.
"Nearly my entire family tree lives there".
Maverick's voice changed. "I know how you feel. I'm looking forward to the day Discord is defeated so I can return to my country."
"Is your family still there?" Glory asked.
"I like to think so. They got caught up in the mess in the capital. I've heard stories about what the LoD did to ponies and others who resisted the change".
Dahlia put her hoof on him. "Don't think about it. For every story like that I hear I hear one about resistance forces in all three countries."
Tex yawned. "Well guys let's get to sleep. We might have a fun mission tomorrow".
16 September 2017 08:00 hours.
Ok everypony. Like I thought this is a good one. And for the first time, joining us via the new video phone to describe it is Moonstone herself". And she appeared on the monitor that hung on the wall at the rear of the long table.
"Greetings everypony. I will brief you on missions from now on to save Tex some breath".
"Why bother he has plenty of hot wind", cracked Angel and everypony giggled.
"Aaanyway this is the mission. The LoD is using these canyons South of Dunlap in the former Changeling Kingdom for weapons storage. The bunkers are built into the walls of the canyon so the only way to destroy them is to fire a missile or rocket into the doors, which means you'll have to fly about 50 feet above the ground and use a slow approach. To make matters worse, they have a substantial anti aircraft network over the canyon. You will have to stay below the canyon rim or you'll have more missiles and shells coming at you than you can handle. There's some Hind helicopters to deal with and fighter coverage is almost certain. If you encounter fighters with look down shoot down radar just get out of there".
"Oh and I thought this was going to be a hard mission", Angel said sarcasticly.
"Why do you think we picked you for the job? You have the planes and skill to do it."
"How thoughtful", Dahlia said looking a little pale.
"Oh and the Solar Empire has been trying to destroy it so you might meet some of their aircraft also".
"Wow Dahlia. I didn't know you could change color", snapped Sunfire.
"Well hopefully if some do show up it will distract the LoD fighters", replied Maverick.
"That's all I've got. Your turn Tex".
"OK for armament you'll have the Kh-29T. On your TV screen, set the door as the target and fire. It's the only weapon we have to effectively go through the bunker doors. You'll only have a few seconds to do it. You each get 4 and there's only 10 bunkers so feel free to hit other targets once those are gone, or if you come across an anti air threat. Maverick you're getting one fuel air bomb do drop on the HQ on your way in, which is located at the confluence of the two rivers".
"Lucky you", said Sunfire.
"OK pilots that is all. Good luck." And Moonstone's video feed ended.
"Same here guys", said Tex. And the group headed for the flight line.
S. of Dunlap, Changeling Kingdom
The squadron had arrived at the mouth to the West end of the canyons when Sentry 2 came on.
"Sentry 2 to all planes, drop below one thousand feet. Stay below that or or it'll be SAM city for you."
"You're above one thousand feet", Angel cracked.
"Yeah but I'm not over the canyon", replied Carrot Top. Maverick interrupted them before it went any further.
"Let's go pilots", and they descended.
It wasn't long before the nap of the earth flying started getting to Dahlia.
"I just came close enough to that rock to count the lizards on it. Can we pull up now?"
"You can, but I hope you've entered the cheat code for unlimited flares and chaff on your plane", replied Ice.
"Nngggh", replied Dahlia. Not long after that they got a radar spike warning.
"Lunar 1 Where is it coming from?" Glory asked.
"I've got it. It's a ZSU." Maverick fired one of his missiles and took it out before they got within range of it's guns.
"Needless to say they know we're coming now", Ice said.
Soon alarms were going off at the command center and in the bunkers. Griffins and Changelings were scrambling around to prepare.
"Contact air command. Tell them to get fighters in here now!" one Griffin yelled. The LoD air command contacted the nearest squadron, which was over 50 miles away.
"Galt squadron this is air command. We have enemy aircraft in Windigo canyon. Intercept them".
"Roger command. Let's go fellas!" And the squadron hit the afterburners and headed for the canyon.
Meanwhile the group had arrived at the fork in the canyon where the headquarters was.
"OK. after I get the command center split into two groups. Glory, Angel, come with me. Ice take the others".
Maverick dived on the headquarters and released his bomb, dodging flak on the way down.
"Get out!" the base commander yelled.
The bomb completely leveled the base, which had the added bonus of disrupting the air defense systems.
"Now you're talking!" yelled Sunfire as the two groups split off. Soon Maverick's group was approaching the first two bunkers, located across from each other pointing at an angle out to the canyon.
"Chopper", yelled Maverick.
"I've got it", replied Angel. One missile took care of it.
"OK Glory get ready". To hit the bunkers both pilots would have to fly on opposite sides of the canyon, one slightly ahead of the other , then when it was time, turn towards each other and fire at the bunkers on the opposite sides, crossing in front of each other. The third pilot would stay in the center to handle any threats.
"One. Two. Three!" Maverick and Glory performed the move, passing within 100 feet of each other and scoring hits on both bunkers.
"Two bunkers down", Maverick announced.
"You have no idea how cool that was from back here", replied Angel.
Soon Ice and Sunfire performed the same move on another pair of bunkers. As they pulled out of the move a shoulder fired SAM locked onto Ice.
"Sorry." Ice kicked out flares and pulled up, almost flying above the thousand foot limit. Dahlia fired her cannon at where it came from.
"I think I got them", she said.
Maverick's group flew around one oxbow, taking out another bunker and another Hind. They came around just in time to see the bunker Ice hit explode, leaving a huge hole in the side of the canyon.
"Holly shit!" Yelled Angel.
"Must have been the bunker for large bombs", replied Glory.
In short order all of the choppers had been shot down, and there was only 3 bunkers left when Sentry got on.
"Sentry 2 to all planes, we have 6 bandits entering the canyon from the East".
"Roger Sentry. Let us know where they are since our radars can't go through canyon walls", Maverick replied. "Get ready everypony".
"The Galt squadron leader contacted her wingmates.
"Galt 1 to all planes. These ponies are dorking up our canyon. Let's take them out".
Angel scored another hit on a bunker when she laid eyes on the enemy planes.
"J-11's, look out" She fired a missile but it missed due to the altitude difference of the planes.
"Damn I missed".
"Don't shoot at them head on unless they're near the same altitude", replied Maverick.
"So what do we do?" Sunfire asked.
" Try and stay at 900 feet and get on their tails" he replied. Soon they were chasing the LoD aircraft in circles around the canyons. Ice got the first kill. Then Glory called for support.
"Cover me I'm going after the last 2 bunkers", which were both on the same side.
"We're coming", replied Maverick. No sooner than they got close to Glory a Galt plane got behind her , and another behind Angel.
"Shit", she yelled as she dropped flares to avoid a missile. Meanwhile Maverick got the one off Glory's tail just as she attacked the bunkers. Maverick slowed and let angel pass under her, then pulled a Cobra right in front of the LoD plane.
"AAAH!" the pilot yelled and turned to avoid him, straight into the canyon wall.
"You're crazy you know that?" Angel said to him.
Sunfire got the next kill, and then Maverick got on the tail of Galt 1.
"Damn he's good", she cursed as she tried to shake him. Despite her best efforts he got off a gun shot, crippling the plane and forcing her to eject just before it hit the canyon wall.
"Stupid dweeb!" She yelled as he passed.
Then the group got on the tail of the last plane as it tried to exit the canyon to the West. Mav was getting ready to fire when the plane blew up in front of them.
"Huh?" Glory said. Soon 4 Solar Empire MIG-29's came around the corner and almost hit them. Instead of turning to fight, the group continued to leave the canyon.
"Oh hell i'd love to see the looks on their faces when they see we took out everything", Sunfire said with glee.
"Lunar one to Sentry, all targets destroyed. Returning to base".
"Roger on that. Nice job!"
"Well did you keep your breakfast down Dahlia? asked Ice.
"Barely. No more of that for awhile OK?"
"Hey it's not up to us now is it?" The radio remained silent.
On the way back they encountered an LoD patrol of three fighters, but quickly took care of them. Three hours later they were home.