51w, 5dSkyrim Equestria
The sounds of smashing and clattering outside the library brought Twilight out of her concentration. She gazed up from her book and began trotting towards the door where the noise was coming from.
Since arriving back in Ponyville, two days had gone, and she was waiting patiently for the analysis on the new Super Speedy Cider Squeezy. There was still, at most, three days until the new prototype came to Ponyville, and Twilight had been either reading or pacing in anxiety for the results to come back. The element of doubt in her skills still lingered in her mind, had somepony figured her out? Other than the trucker? Was this the police outside her door? Probably not. You never know! She constantly reminded.
It then occurred to her that this was most likely the analysis for the prototype's weakness. Fancypants had taken the blueprints back to Canterlot, and said that he would deliver the report as soon as possible. However, it didn't explain the clattering outside. But then, who was the residential mail-pony that had a knack for destruction?
Twilight opened the door to see a grey, pegasus mare lodged INSIDE her mailbox. The mailbox was leaning to one side, the stand cracked and about to snap. There were a few letters on the floor, and more steadily dropping out of the mailmare's mailbag hanging from her flank out of one hole of the mailbox. The other hole had Derpy's smiling, cross-eyed face trying to pick up a letter from the floor under her using her mouth. "Oh, er, hi Twilight! This is exactly what it looks like." She admitted once she looked up. "Little help?"
Twilight gave a sympathetic smile and went to help the pegasus. She then paused as she tried to figure out exactly how she would help. She used her telekinesis to bend the metal edges of the box upwards. Once Derpy had sufficient space to squeeze out of, she flapped her wings and pulled her head through backwards. She shook her head and her eyes returned to normal. "Sorry about that, eye messed up again, but I've got a letter for you!"
The blond-maned pegasus went back to the letter she was trying to grab earlier and grabbed it between her teeth; she gave it to Twilight and began collecting up the other dropped letters. "Thanks, Derpy, do you need any help with that?" Twilight asked.
Derpy finished gathering the letters and stuffed them into the mailbags. "Nope, I got 'em. Sorry about the..." Derpy indicated to the mailbox, which then snapped off its stand and planted itself into the ground.
"It's fine!" Twilight said sincerely. "Not a day goes by in Ponyville without me being on the receiving end of property damage one way or another. It's easy to fix, anyway. See you soon!"
"Bye, Twilight!" Derpy flew off as Twilight re-entered her library. Eager to read the letter, Twilight found a spot on the floor and opened the envelope. Out fell two orange train-tickets and a small, wrapped cylinder. Lying down, she pulled out the white paper, unfolded it and placed it neatly on the floor.
I am happy to announce that we have found the weakness of the new Flim Flam brother's project. However, it of course, is not the easiest one. We have discovered that, very much like the Fancy Free, everything vital to it's operation is found inside what appears to be the living quarters. This 'Ultra Agile Cider Smasher 9000', as it is so eloquently put, contains a small room with access to the engineering equipment inside. This is where you will need to be to disable it.
Now I know you don't like explosions, you demonstrated your resentment for them quite well on our little adventure, but it is absolutely necessary here. There is so much compact equipment that it is almost impossible to designate a proper target, so you will need to destroy a large section at once. It will be a relatively contained blast, not at all like the self-destruct on the Fancy Free. Enclosed should be the device. Do not open it until you are there, I know how curiosity gets the better of you. It is activated by pressing the two ends together, so handle it carefully.
This should be the last challenge to overcome, you will be set on a train to a heavy-duty fuel depot. This depot houses some of the most powerful and special vehicles in Equestria- we believe it is where the prototype is being held. Your task is to get in, undetected, if possible, plant the device and get the hay out. The tickets enclosed will get you on the three o'clock Wednesday train. As for the way out, you'll need to board another. Whether you pay or not is up to you and the circumstances you may find yourself in.
Hopefully, you can enjoy a break after this. I'm dreadfully sorry for the pressure that is being put on you to complete this, but I am thankful that the job is in a capable pair of hooves. Also, could you please inform Applejack of this? My supply of first-class post stamps has depleted.
Good luck. Yours faithfully,
"More explosions." Twilight muttered to herself. "Great." She said sarcastically. Wednesday was today, the letter seemed to arrive just in time, it was currently around twelve. This was good for Twilight, as she need not procrastinate to distract her from possible failure. It was time to finally end this assignment.
Previously, she made a visit to the Black Hoof base, and now Twilight had brought back and started to pack the necessary equipment at home. Under a certain bookshelf was the 'Clairifier', an assortment of tots and pies were kept in the storage closet, and a lone cider screen bomb rested in a hollowed-out book.
It was doubtful anypony would pick up on such clues, but after Wide Load saw her cloak, she didn't want to take any chances. Strangely enough, her cloak was kept in the most obvious place, her wardrobe. She went into her room, snuck past a napping Spike, and retrieved her outfit.
She had also picked up a special type of tater tot. Three of them. They contained the same knock-out gas that the cider screen bomb had, just adapted for individual targets. Supposedly, it was easy to re-purpose.
Next was to get Applejack, board the train at three, and sneak into this fuelling depot.
The train moved steadily through the vacant, dark fields of green grass. With nary a tree in sight, the open expanses of green countryside melted into the dimming orange horizon. Twilight hoped they wouldn't spot the metallic carcass of the Fancy Free out here. It was around six o'clock, she and Applejack were sitting in another private cabin, and getting closer to 'Arcadia Station'- the closest stop to the fuelling depot, and named after it.
"Can I open it yet?"
"No." Applejack had confiscated the packaged explosive from Twilight. Fancypants was right: she was far too meddlesome with the device. It was best left covered until they were actually inside.
That would be the next challenge. Neither of the mares knew what to expect upon approach to Arcadia, apart from it to be most likely big. It was probably under guard to hold any famous designs of vehicles. As Fancypants wanted it done stealthily, so did Twilight, it would be much simpler.
A voice started travelling through the train. "Approaching Arcadia Station, please remember to remove all luggage as you leave the train. The next stop will be Outer Haven Station. Thank you for travelling with Midlands Metro."
"Time to rock, Twi, let's go." Applejack and Twilight stopped gazing through the window into the quickly diminishing outside light to gather their things.
By the time they had exited the train, the sun had disappeared early. This only made it more ominous as they spotted two silos rise up into the sky from the ground. Following the silos down lead to a sign on a chain-linked fence labelled 'Arcadia Fuelling Depot'. So the target destination was a little more than close to the train station, it was basically across the street.
Neighbouring the silos were multiple other buildings, but they were indistinct due to the darkness of the night. There were rows and rows of active carriages carrying coal around the site. They were transporting it between different warehouses which must have contained different vehicles. They just had to find out which one held Flim and Flam's.
"Let's get to the station bathroom, we can change there." Applejack suggested. Twilight followed her into the deserted, dim station and a few minutes later they returned, outfitted. They were fortunate there was nopony currently around, but still decided to stick to the back route off the platform.
The mares found a secluded spot around the platform, where the rectangular building could be easily hid behind. They observed the target entrance. It was a long wooden arm that raised upwards to allow carriages entry after inspection from two guards flanking either side of the arm. Further inside the chain fence were more roaming guards passing between warehouses. Some signposts were scattered inside the compound, but their writings were illegible from this distance. Spotlight towers could be seen sweeping the area inside.
"Are we raiding the royal guard? Why do we never actually have plans for these jobs?!" Twilight questioned loudly in anger.
"Quiet down, Twi!" Applejack shushed. "Let's just get this over with, first we need to get past them two entrance guards." She said pointing a cloaked hoof at the first checkpoint.
Twilight put a hoof to her temple and thought. "Is there another way around? Or we could distract them?"
"Ah don't really think they look the type to be distracted." The security looked much more professional than the guards at Equestrian Innovations. They had black vests with a special logo on signifying their allegiance with Arcadia Fuelling- it was apparently much bigger than a fuel outpost. It was a business in itself. "What about the 'cider tots'?"
"I was really hoping to save them." Twilight responded, two to take down these guards only left her with one crucial explosive left.
"Ah don't really see another option, the other way around will be just as well guarded. We load the cider tots into our Clairifier's, take 'em both out at the same time, and hide 'em somewhere. See that little ditch in the ground? We can hide in that."
"But-" Twilight tried to protest.
"Twilight, please. You ain't the only one suffering in this contract. I need to get back to Sweet Apple Acres, so can we please just finish this?"
Twilight heard the tiredness in her voice, and would probably see the darkness under her eyes if they weren't covered so well by the bandana's shadow. Even the orange in her cloak was covered well by the night. "Alright, as soon as we hit them, we run to get the bodies back here."
"Get to that ditch first, it'll be a good spot to hit 'em from." Applejack pointed to it. A slight decrease in elevation, hardly a ditch, but it was better than standing out in the open. "We're gonna have to crawl there though or they'll spot us."
Applejack lead the way. She flattened herself to the floor, began swimming through the air and wormed her way slowly to the ditch ahead. "Do you have any idea how silly you look?" Twilight said quietly. The mare did not reply, but instead just regularly grunt with each progression of force forwards.
Twilight sighed and reluctantly joined. She struggled against the floor, feeling embarrassed because of the animals that must have been laughing at her. She scooted along the dirt until she eventually reached Applejack, who was crouching behind the slight incline.
They were quite close to the security now, if not for the dark night or black cloaks they would surely be spotted. The only thing that separated them was a lit-up road and some distance of grass. "You ready?" Applejack asked.
"No." Twilight took out the Clairifier anyway, leading Applejack to do the same. They loaded an éclair each from the storages inside the outfits and Twilight handed Applejack a cider tot. Once the éclairs were ready, the two mares readied their aims.
Applejack was kneeling to the right of her, and therefore, "Ah got the one on the right." Twilight aimed at the remaining guard. "When ah say mark, fire and then race to bring 'em back here."
"Or I could just use magic to pull them over here." Twilight said smartly.
Applejack turned to Twilight. "Oh. Yeah. Do that. But don't make it obvious." She turned back to her aim. "Ready?"
Before Twilight could respond with "No", Applejack started the countdown. "Three."
Twilight inhaled and held it. "Two." She made sure to aim for the guard's face, he was too close to aim for range compensation. "One." She swore she saw him squinting at her. She began exhaling slowly. "Mark!"
The éclairs spun gracefully through the air, losing bits of cream and chocolate mid-flight. Almost as soon as they had fired, both guards were knocked out with stained faces. Twilight focused on snatching up the fallen ponies while still keeping the give-away light from the magical grasp low. She poured in all her energy into dragging them across the road and into the ditch with them. They bounced along the floor randomly as Twilight lost focus in some parts. Apart from a few bruises on the guards heads, it was a successful take-down.
"Smooth." Applejack jested as she moved the unconscious bodies into positions with as little visibility as possible. "We gotta get in there before their friends notice they're gone."
The only safe place so far that could be seen was the first warehouse of a column heading deeper into the base. The warehouse's wall facing the two mares would hide them from the spotlight and guards further into the base. All they had to do was run for the cover and figure out where to go next.
Waiting until the spotlight circled in the opposite direction, the mares began a sprint to the entrance. They adjusted well to the change in terrain from grass to dirt and then stone pathways. They made it to the wooden arm that was lowered. While Twilight slid under it, Applejack jumped the entire thing and continued to the first warehouse. The country mare made it to safety first, and Twilight, already out of breath, made a final leap to cover after her.
"Phew." Applejack said relieved. "Nice work, Twi." Twilight was too busy panting to acknowledge. "Ok, next..." The powerful pony checked around the corner of the warehouse wall. She returned with a look of slight horror. "We ain't going that way. Transport carts are really close," she said whispering. "we'll need to go around." She pointed past Twilight, leading to a narrow path around the outskirts of the base.
They walked fast to the end of the warehouse. The occasional noise of talking between workers and guards kept Twilight on edge. Applejack was much more composed, protecting their backs as Twilight reached the end of the warehouse wall vertical-wise.
Twilight poked her head around a corner to see the very narrow back passage along the warehouse column. There were some workers placing boxes outside one of the storage buildings. The path ahead would not be a passable route for long, every so often another guard or worker would pass through the back of a storehouse and into Twilight's vision. However, the back entrance to the warehouse Twilight was hiding behind was open.
"AJ!" Twilight said quietly, bringing the mare's attention to her. "We can go around and get inside this warehouse." Twilight touched the wall adjacent with a hoof. Applejack just nodded silently.
Twilight once again peeped around the corner. This time she was met with a worker carrying a cardboard box. Fortunately, he was not looking in her direction. Twilight waved a cautioning hoof behind her to Applejack, making her stop. The worker placed the cardboard box down and went back into the storehouse, presumably to collect another. This was her chance.
Twilight followed the stallion around the corner and gave a brief thanks to Celestia that there was nopony else inside. The entire warehouse was almost pitch-black and empty, they must have been preparing for a new influx of equipment.
Twilight had a sleeping spell that she was planning to use ready, however, it was slow-acting. A silent burst of magic touched the stallion's head and Twilight receded into the shadows, covered in blackness by her cloak. Without a source of light the Black Hoof logo was invisible.
Twilight watched through the small gap between her bandana and hood. The stallion picked up another cardboard box, but began slumping and yawning. After a few seconds of carrying, right next to Twilight, he placed down the box and rested his head on it. His arms cushioned his head along with the box and he began snoring.
Applejack entered shortly after, holding a large cardboard box on top of her back. "And just what exactly are you planning to do with that?" Twilight asked. She needn't worry about waking the worker, the spell put ponies into a heavy sleep.
"Promise to bear with me here?" Applejack said in a hushed tone. There were probably still nearby employees. After receiving a cocked head for a response, Applejack continued. It wasn't like Twilight enjoyed any of the plans they made when they actually made them. "We hide... in this box." The silliness of the idea reflected in her tone of voice, almost giggling.
Twilight didn't need to show her face to give her a recognizable blank stare. "A box? Then what? We just sit in a box?"
"No. It's big enough fer us both, so we move around in it to get close to Flim and Flam's storehouse. We can stop an' jus act like a box if someone spots us."
"'Act like a box'? We don't even know where Flim and Flam's storehouse is!"
"Then we check each of these warehouses until we find the Ultra Agile Cider Smasher. It'll be impossible to miss! An' ah don't suppose you have a faster way..." Applejack challenged. Twilight thought about all the times Applejack was constantly right.
Think. Think. Think. Must beat AJ with idea. Must redeem self-confidence.
Twilight looked over the worker for any hint. From his pocket came a slightly torn, folded piece of paper. She scanned it and determined it was a map of the compound. It had circled this particular stallion's job location and conveniently named each individual warehouse. Some, like this warehouse, had been scribbled out in red writing, but three warehouses ahead was marked 'Equestrian Innovations'.
"It isn't another idea, but it's a bit faster." Twilight gave Applejack the map.
"Great, but I still get to go in Boxxy, right?" Applejack wondered.
"Boxxy? You named the box?"
"Ah grew up with box forts and trees, Twi, and now Boxxy here is gonna help us sneak illegally around a guarded base to destroy priceless equipment. Show some gratitude to the boxes of Equestria, it could save our lives."
"I can't even tell if you're joking anymore! Just get in the damn box."