52w, 3dSkyrim Equestria
"FANCYPANTS! WAKE UP!" Twilight screamed as the giant vehicle began to swerve. They currently took up one half of the exit free-way from Manehattan and were threatening the left lane as bits of the barrier separating them crumbled underneath the monstrous wheels. Every now and again the tank would hit the dividing stone barrier and swerve into the right lane wall, which was only half the size of its attacker. Drivers were ditching their carriages and running to avoid being pancaked, the one's with passengers stuck to the far left.
Fortunately, so far, nopony seemed injured. Minus the screams of terror. Twilight and Applejack struggled to keep balance as the collisions kept the tank deflecting between the boundaries. Twilight stumbled slowly towards the snoozing Fancypants, somehow managing to keep upright in his seat, head resting peacefully on the wheel. She fought against the knocks the vehicle was taking and tried to wake up Fancypants.
"FANCYPANTS!" She shook him firmly, too weak to use magic after her stand-off. Applejack was too busy falling over to help, and yelling at others to move over to the side. All three ponies hoods were not protecting their identities, the wind resistance had blown them back. They were up far too high to be recognised though.
Twilight's attempts went unnoticed by the passed out stallion. Calling to her, Applejack raised her voice over the engine's roar. "You drive!" Holding onto the chair she was previously lying on, she attempted to keep her hooves on the ground.
"How would I know how to drive this thing?!" Twilight turned to Applejack while holding on to the driver's chair.
"WHAT? Ah can't hear you!" The orange mare did a small barrel roll as the vehicle hit a speed-bump. At least Twilight hoped it was a speed-bump.
"I SA-..." Twilight stopped. There was no point wasting time, somepony could be injured if they didn't regain control. Removing Fancypants from his seat abruptly, she took over. Twilight had an airship, could this really be that different?
She looked over the controls. The one thing she understood was that there was a steering wheel. The rest was like her dream on the train: flashing buttons, levers, readings that weren't understandable. If this was a spaceship she'd be all set.
Grasping the one thing she knew, the wheel, and fighting against the turns of the... it really needed a name. She'd have to ask Fancypants. When he was awake. The Juggernaut? Fancypants' Fury? Celestia's Taxi? Twilight looked up from the wheel to see a sharp left turn ahead, alerted by Applejack's shout of, "WATCH THE ROAD!"
Plunging the wheel as far down left as she could, she underestimated the 'Juggernaut's' handling ability. The weighty tank had spun a perfect ninety degree turn left and continued accelerating, Twilight had no idea where the brake was. Or the accelerator for that matter. It crushed the pitiful barrier and disrupted the left lane's traffic. All carriages and carts stopped as the leviathan pushed through the second wall, the rock's debris trailing behind them.
Smashing through the wall lead to a much more open area. Apparently, the motorway Twilight had just destroyed acted as a border to Manehattan. The escape lead to a large open green field, expanding for miles and leading to Manehattan's rural zone- scattered farms and trees could be seen. Twilight could see the dirt road she was supposed to take near her. A sign indicating 'Ponyville', 'Fillydelphia' and 'Canterlot' hanging above it. The trail lead straight forward, into the wide landscape. Easy as it would be to follow it, her vehicle wasn't exactly...subtle. They could probably get some of the distance to Ponyville, but eventually they would need to ditch it, lest they be tracked.
"Learning to drive it already, are we?" Fancypants said, alarming Twilight, but not enough to tear her from the wheel. Rubbing his head, he stood up and to get his bearings. "You are a fast learner, Twilight. So what did I miss?"
"Twi demolished a motorway." Applejack answered bluntly. She was able to sit now that the ride had became smoother.
"I didn't demolish the motorway, I just opened a big hole in it." Twilight rebutted. Fancypants looked behind and through the vehicle's smoke to their exit. Catching sight of the breached wall a fair distance away now, he nodded.
"I see. Well, it's going to be a shame to see the Fancy Free go, but what must be done..."
"The Fancy Free? Wait. Go?" Twilight asked with worry.
"Ah, yes, I feared this moment would come." Fancypants moved to where Twilight was sitting. "May I take over?" Twilight stood up and nodded to him. "You see, the Fancy Free was supposed to be the Flim Flam brother's rival in whatever they were planning. I am actually a large investor in Fillydelphian Feats, Equestrian Innovations biggest competitor, and decided to bring forth this vehicle design. It offered a very basic plan of the size, the driving mechanism and it's operating area below where we stand."
Fancypants stomped a hoof on the floor, indicating near to the hatches which must have lead down. "It could be adapted to suit almost any purpose- cider making, large-scale distribution; believe it or not, tours were considered an option. However, we discovered a fatal flaw within it's system which was vital to it's success. By making it this big, we naturally assumed it would have the capacity for anything to be held."
Fancypants looked over his creation with a hint of sadness. "Alas, this was not the case. Currently, this vehicle is unable to conduct or perform any sort of transactions or business. All room that we once had beneath us is filled with the equipment necessary to run the Fancy Free. In short: there is no room for it's purpose, it simply needs too much power to run, which we cannot get without overcompensating it's inner space. Realising this very far into production, we felt that it could still prove a useful demo of the driving capabilities."
"One of our less bright ideas, but efficient I admit, was to equip it with something so that our competitors could never have the chance to get their hooves on it."
Looking at him questioningly, Twilight asked, "What was it?"
"Now, Twilight, promise me you won't overreact here! Your friends tell me you have a tendency to do that..." Fancypants pushed a few buttons on the dashboard, followed by scrolling some small wheels depicting numbers.
"Last time I had to promise something, we ended up having Discord in Pinkie's basement. So I can't promise anything, but go on." Twilight put plainly.
"Unfortunately for you, Twilight, we won't have a choice." Fancypants left the wheel alone, and began taking off his cloak. Looking at his newly-appeared watch, he spoke up. "The Fancy Free will self-destruct in three minutes."
Twilight face-planted the cold, metal floor. Her opinion unseeable. Fancypants continued. "I would suggest preparing, from here we can head to the nearest train station by following the east road out of Manehattan. I'll send the vehicle west, leading away from it." He finished taking off the cloak and stuffed it into a set of bags next to the seat. "Will she be alright, Applejack?"
Twilight lay flat on the ground, but the country mare appeared unfazed by the threat. Was this a typical thing that happened for a Black Hoof member? Or was she just this brave? Looking at Twilight, she trotted closer and nudged her with a hoof. "Er, Sugarcube? Ah don't think lyin' on the explosive thing is gonna hold off the detonation."
Twilight lifted her head. Expressionless, she began taking off the rest of the cloak. She folded the outfit in silence and checked over her saddlebags to see if there was anything missing. Thank Celesta, the blueprints were still there, they hadn't fallen out during the escape. The unicorn walked to the set of rickety ladders that granted her access to the Fancy Free before. She pushed them over the side; they began gliding in the wind. Turning to Applejack and Fancypants, still with a deadpan face, she pointed to the ladders.
"Ah, yes. Erm. Let me just turn away from the road." Fancypants sat back at the wheel, beginning an slow, easy turn left. Applejack headed towards Twilight, tension increasing as her sheepish grin failed to break the awkwardness. Applejack stood next to Twilight, trying to avoid her monotonous glare. When the vehicle had successfully aligned in the opposite direction to the road, Applejack climbed over the side and started her decent down the ladders.
Fancypants followed behind, and stopped at Twilight. He cleared his throat and signified the exit. "Mares first." He offered with a polite smile. Twilight stared at him in silence. He struggled to keep the smile composed as each second passed with her staring at him. Only a fraction of what could be felt in a Flutterstare compared to this. Each passing second of her condemning eyes pierced his soul, eyebrows threatening to form a 'V'. Almost cowering below her, he finally announced. "Yes, I'll just go first then, shan't I?" A nervous laugh followed, as well as Fancypants effectively jumping off the Fancy Free.
Fancypants joined Applejack on the soft, bright green grass. The expanse of luscious green went on for miles, meaning the Fancy Free shouldn't hit a farm. Twilight magically floated herself from the top of the vehicle smoothly, and landed next to them.
All but Twilight looked at the Fancy Free while it was driving into the distance, she headed towards the road opposite it's direction. "Goodbye, old girl." Fancypants muttered to himself. The black-coated powerhouse went off in solitude, the faint vibrations fading as it drove away. The wheels adjusted well to the bumpy, grass terrain, going over hills and ditches with ease.
It did, however, leave huge, brown tire tracks in the mud. Fancypants began summoning a spell, orange rising from his horn and covering a large section of the tracks. It moulded the brown imprints into green. Blending into the grass, it at least disguised some of the tire-marks. There was now a fair gap between the end of the marks and the beginning of the new. Fancypants looked solemnly at the escaping prototype. "Wish I could of gave you that paint job."
"She was a hell-of-a tank, Fancypants." Applejack said, putting a hoof on his shoulder and smiling. "Ah didn't realise you did farming spells."
"I dabble. I enjoy working with my employees on my agricultural businesses, they are much more down-to-earth than Canterlot ponies." Fancypants' smile returned. "But don't tell Rarity I said that, she adores many of them."
Applejack laughed, it was a compliment from Fancypants and almost a jab at Rarity at the same time. "C'mon, ah don't trust Twilight on her own." She pointed a hoof over her shoulder, and they trotted back up to her- Fancypants to her left, Applejack to her right. The road was some distance away. The carriages taking it should have lost sight of them. Even with their size, it would have just been a black dot in the horizon. They had a bit to walk before they hit the road.
The three ponies advanced in the lovely weather. A cloudless sky, the sun was shining gently, which in turn was radiating the grass' vibrant colour. It was a shame Twilight refused to acknowledge anything. Fancypants spoke up after a few moments of silence. "About 30 seconds until detonation." Looking at Twilight's face, she still revealed nothing. More silence ensued.
"So..." Applejack tried to break the ice. "How's Canterlot... Fancypants?" She said slowly, hoping Twilight may rejoin them.
Fancypants did the same. "It's... good. Blueblood hasn't been seen in a while. I can't imagine why..." He looked at Twilight jokingly, but received nothing. "But the whole of Canterlot is fond of his absence."
More terrifying silence.
They didn't want to imagine what could have been going through Twilight's head. She did have a difficult past few days. Suddenly being accepted into this group, discovering an ancient spirit of chaos was living in her friend's pantry, forcing herself to humiliate one of Canterlot's 'finest', sabotaging a world-famous company. And now, blowing up a vehicle the size of her house.
The rumbling returned, but this time through the sound echoing through the air. The Fancy Free was gone. Nopony turned to see the explosion. It was much cooler that way.
When the rumbling ceased, Twilight breathed a massive inhale and exhale, then sighed. "We could get a lift to the train station from the road." Her voice sounded tired, but it was better than nothing. She looked to, not stared at, her friends hopefully.
"Sounds great! My head is still a bit sore from the alcohol, I seriously doubt I could take much more walking." Fancypants chirped up.
"Why were you drunk anyway, Fancypants? Why were you even in Manehattan?" Twilight wondered, her quizzical side overpowering her tiredness. "And Flim and Flam mentioned that Fillydelphian Feats place, you said you have a part in that? They seemed nervous that we were their spies when we got there."
"I came here planning to help you, initially. Flim and Flam have a right to be paranoid, we've always been clashing in these 'company wars' the newspapers have dubbed. With my knowledge of the building, I thought I could slip in and help."
He pulled out a bottle of 'Stalliongrad Vodka' from his saddlebags with his magic. A clear liquid filled half the glass bottle, circled by a red label. "Of course, the drink told me that my entrance need be 'awesome'. I had a new shipment of this for delivery in my Manehattan liquor front, and gave myself the privilege of testing it out." He popped the cork out of the bottle and sniffed above the opening. His muscles relaxed and almost dangled loosely with the feeling of relaxation the vapours alone gave. "Needless to say, it was nice. Very nice."
"You ain't gonna drink anymore of that are ya?" Applejack investigated, peering over Twilight.
"Ah, my dear, that would be the intelligent thing to do. So, no, I'm going to continue drinking. But I am willing to share." He pulled out three small glass cups from his bags, and offered one to Twilight and Applejack.
"No, thanks." Twilight quickly stated, she didn't want getting drunk and lost in the countryside to be on the ever-increasing list of things that happened to her since she joined the Black Hoof.
"Ah'll give it a shot, ah'm bettin' it can't beat Apple Acre's cider though!" Applejack boasted. Fancypants passed her a glass and filled it with the vodka through his magic.
"I'll hold you to that."
Turns out hitch-hiking is hard. Twilight really needed something to waggle on the end of her hoof, else she just looked as though she was pointing to the other side of the road. Countless carriages passed her, the road bustling with traffic, but not enough to slow down the convoy. According to Fancypants the time was two o'clock in the afternoon. They had been travelling up the road as they attempted to catch a ride for quite a while.
The bottled spirit was completely consumed. It was showing through Applejack especially.
"BUCK YOU THEN!" Applejack bellowed to a long one pony-driven carriage as it drove past.
"Applejack! What is wrong with you?!" Twilight said in alarm.
"He slowed down! He was about to pick us up and then just sped off as a joke! Damn foal!" She said with anger.
"No she wasn't, Applejack. She kept going fast, and slowed down slightly to change lanes."
"Ah know what ah saw!"
"You thought she was a stallion."
"Well she was really butch then! Ah dunno! Any luck, Fancypants?" Applejack called behind her. They were positioned so that Twilight was furthest ahead, Applejack in the middle, and Fancypants last, all signalling the passer-bys.
"I think I have somepony!" He said happily as a huge, heavy looking, red carriage slowed and parked next to the road. It was pulled by four bulky stallions. It was a freight carriage, consisting of two parts. The passenger holding, and the cargo holding. The cargo hold had sixteen wheels and took up most of the road behind it. From inside the passenger hold came a brown hoof out the window, ushering them closer.
They joined Fancypants as the two-pony wide passenger door opened. Sitting down with the driver's whip was a large, all-brown earth pony stallion. Wearing only a trucker hat, similar to Applejack's, he spoke loudly with little effort. "Howdy! You ponies need a ride?"
"Yes! Please! We could do with a lift to the nearest train station, if you can?" Twilight said, she didn't want Applejack to speak just yet in her current state.
"Hop in." He said with a friendly, deep voice, and slid over to the other front seat. Luckily, behind him were two more seats. The interior was mainly black, but various ornaments hung from the windows and sides of the door. It was neither spacious nor cramped.
Fancypants and Applejack took the back seats, leaving Twilight next to the driver. It was probably for the best, she hated the thought of Applejack talking about the Black Hoof, or commentating on everything that went on outside the carriage.
Twilight closed the door and the trucker-pony gave the pullers a light whip. "C'mon colts!" Twilight lay her saddlebags next to the door. "So where ya headin' from the train station?"
"Ponyville, it's been a long day. Can't wait to get home." Twilight said. Murmurs of agreement were heard from the back seats. The trucker perked up at this.
"Same here! I'll drive ya there if ya want."
"Oh no! We don't want to be a hassle!" Twilight responded.
"Ah don't mind bein' a hassle, heck, ah'll pull along with them stallions!" Came Applejack's voice.
"I'm not letting you drink-drive, AJ, I'm supposed to be the responsible one, and I say we'll stop at the train station."
"Nonsense, you said it yerself, it's been a long day. Your friends seem a bit boozed anyway."
"At least I'm not shouting at carriages." Fancypants put jestingly.
"Oh, shut up PancyFants!" Applejack moaned.
"I'm also not pronouncing names wrong JackleApp." The blue-haired stallion included.
"Ah'm not p-"
"Both of you! Quiet! Please!" Twilight cut off Applejack and ceased the conversation. She looked at the stallion, "Sorry. She's Applejack, he's Fancypants, I'm Twilight. Pleased to meet you." Twilight held out a hoof.
The stallion joined hooves. "Now don't laugh, but mine's Wide Load." At "don't laugh" Applejack instantly burst out with laughter, followed by even more upon realising his actual name. "I know, I know, my parents must have lost a bet or somethin'." He laughed along with Applejack. "Suit's me well though, I deliver the largest shipments of anything from here to the other side of Equestria." He shifted in his seat slightly. "I 'spose the flank's gettin' kinda big too."
Eventually, Applejack's laughter died down enough to allow Twilight the opportunity to speak. "So, what're you delivering at the moment?"
"Somepony in Ponyville ordered a load of baking ingredients for pies. Apparently they keep runnin' out over there."
"Huh, small world." Said Fancypants to himself, but loudly. Thankfully, the driver didn't seem to catch on.
Several minutes went by in normality. Fancypants and Applejack seemed to be exchanging the most conversation. Until Wide Load brought up a familiar topic. "You ponies hear about them Black Hoof contractors?"
Twilight froze with shock, so much that she forgot to speak. She stumbled around her words for a while before saying, "Nope! Who are they?"
"Really? Ya ain't heard of them? Everypony I know does. Well, the latest I hear is that they just escaped Manehattan after some sort of raid on the Equestrian Innovations building. Not their usual style. They always embarrass people."
"How do you-, er, when was that?" Twilight coughed, failing to cover up any secret she was keeping.
"A few hours ago, just before I left for this run. Really interestin' if ya ask me, they wanna help people by annoying others. I've seen loads of their posters."
"We have posters?" Fancypants thought aloud before Applejack punched him in the face, and kept it their to cover his mouth. Either the brown earth pony didn't hear, or chose to ignore it.
Twilight was desperate to change the conversation's topic, so Applejack screwed it up for her. "Whadda they look like?"
Wide Load scrunched his face up in thought. "I'd say it looks a lot like what you have in them bags of yours, Twilight." Twilight's jaw dropped as she turned to look at her saddlebags. The cloak was hanging limply over the side, crimson and black colour's of their logo showing. "Hit a bump a while back. That's when I saw it."
Twilight, being the only one either sane enough to or conscious enough to, tried to defend herself. "O-oh, no, th-they're not mine! I'm just holding them for a friend!" Wide Load looked at her smugly.
"They're mine!" Applejack said.
Twilight was never good at acting. This was a time it showed. "Oh! No... Applejack! How could you be a member of...?" Wide Load was on the verge of laughing. "Yeah, you're not buying it are you?"
"Relax! Personally, I love what you're doing. I've ran a few shipments for Equestrian Innovations, and they always treat you like dirt. We distributors are the one's getting their junk out to ponies!"
Before passing out, Fancypants spoke. "You tell me if you need a job." Twilight too could have passed out from relief. So they were well known, AND popular?
Wide Load chuckled to himself. "No, I'm good, thanks. But you should try and be a bit more sneaky, y'know? Might not have been me pickin' you up."
"Thank you so much, it's only my second job!" Twilight gushed, finally she would have somepony to complain to. "Does anypony need to sign for those baking ingredients? I'm pretty sure they belong to us."
So, a successful escape from Manehattan, on the way home and met a supporter of the group. The rest of the six hour journey would have been spent in friendly conversation and sleep.
Would have been. Until Applejack suggested singing. Fancypants woke up for this very occasion, and even Wide Load felt the need to annoy Twilight.
Just drop me off at the gate of Tartarus...