Princess Luna looked to the massive red steel container with a wary, yet curious, eye. Her sister, the Regal Princess Celestia, stood beside her with a grin.
“I’m still amazed they actually did it.”
“Did what?” Luna asked, brow raised and ears pointing in her direction.
“I… had a run in with a local. It was a grand time with his motley crew, but eventually I was brought back to the task at hoof.”
“Political and diplomatic meetings?”
“That does not explain the massive container before us.”
“Well, yesterday as we were saying our goodbyes before I returned home this morning, the very nice President and I had a talk about my… run in.”
“And pray tell, sister, you did nothing foolish We hope?”
“I deserted my guards and went for a walk.”
“Of course you did.” Luna rolled her eyes, hoof twitching as she held back a facehoof.
“Anyway, the local that struck me-”
“They struck thee?”
“An accident, I was at fault, not familiar with the ways of the land.”
This time she did facehoof, but allowed Celestia to continue with a wave of her wing.
“So I mentioned how novel a thing like a minivan was, and that it was much more of an enjoyable ride than their other vehicles.”
“One of their self powered motorized chariots.”
“Ah, yes, We remember word of those.”
“So, I mentioned how you would fancy such a thing too. That nice man smiled at me, and said he’d look into it.”
Both sisters looked back to the massive container. One with glee, the other with concern.
“We do hope this did not cost Us anything.”
“No, Luna, it was a gift I was assured. No way, shape, or form was this any political bribe to have us favor their nation over the countless others.”
“Riiiiiiight. So, now what?” Luna pointed at the container.
“What else? We open our present!” Celestia’s horn glowed, and the front doors opened, revealing… something.
“What is that?
“What else, a minivan. Oh, it’s even white, like me!” Then, something else caught Celestia’s attention. “OH! And there appears to be a blue one behind it!”
The container was brought to a barren field of short grass, near the base of Mount Canterhorn.
Inside, once all the straps were removed, wheel chocks unbolted, and through the open windows shifted into Neutral (as instructed by the attached letter), the minivans were removed. Both royal sisters stared at the two new gifts with the utter most curiosity.
“How amazing,” Celestia started, “these appear much newer than Thomas’ van was.”
Luna was looking over a piece of paper stuck to one of the glass windows.
“Oh, yes, we should probably translate those.” Celestia’s magic glowed, and the two vehicles followed suit.
Luna watched as all the strange characters and letters shifted and changed into their native language, although it was all still as confusing as ever.
“Two thousand eighteen Dodge Grand Caravan?” Luna read the tag on the blue van.
“Oh, how quaint! Mine is a two thousand eighteen Chrysler Town and Country! I wonder what the difference is?”
Luna looked between the two.
“There are subtle changes, but over all their shape remains the same. They are probably of the same blood, but different breed.”
Celestia smiled. “Astute observation. Now, the letter also said to first open the glove box and read through the instruction books before we do anything else.
“Of course, since I already have some experience, I shall lead by example.”
“You call being struck by one of these to be experience?” Luna asked, a grin on her muzzle.
“I also helped change one of the wheels, thank you.”
Luna opened the passenger door with her magic, and upon Celestia’s pointing opened the glove box.
“Oh, how convenient, it’s not stuffed with papers or napkins so the book is easier to find,” Celestia noted with a smile.
Luna’s magic brought out a black cloth sleeve. Inside that was a thick book with very thin pages.
“Operator's Manual,” Luna stated, brow raised. “They expect us to read this whole thing before operation?”
“These can be dangerous if misused. I’d experienced it first hoof.”
Luna nodded at her sister’s sage advice, and began reading. Celestia retrieved her own, and the two mares laid in the grass to enjoy a little light reading out in the early morning sun.
A few hours later, a half dozen guards arrived along with a couple servers to bring about lunch. This gave the two mares a chance to take a break, Celestia removing her reading glasses to rub her eyes.
“I never knew these were so complicated,” she sighed.
“Aye, but it would make sense to Us.” Luna stood, stretching.
“Is that so?” Celestia asked.
“Verily. All that is important is to be careful, exercise caution, and keep up on general maintenance. Other than that, these minivans appear to be quite self explanatory.”
“Really now?” Celestia floated over one of the small sandwiches brought to her. “Care to demonstrate for me?”
Luna walked to her blue Dodge, entering to the dinging of the key in the ignition. She attempted to sit in the driver's seat, but with her height it was made difficult. Fighting to get any bit comfortable, she gave up comfort in favor of simply moving along.
The safety belt was the next obstacle, but luckily it was only annoying.
With her hoof, she pressed the wider pedal, the brake, and turned the key with her magic. There was no roar, no massive rumble or shake. It was a quiet little puff and then it was just on, and cool air began to blow through the vents.
Luna smiled. Surely, this will be easy.
The shifter was along the dashboard, between the radio (useless) slash climate control (set to blue, because it was her favorite color) and the cluster, which would tell the driver current information, such as status of specific vehicle components
Battery, temperature (both vehicle and outside, it was a pleasant 78 degrees), fuel (full), and dominating the gauges speed (she’d changed it to KM/H because she liked the bigger numbers) and revolutions per minute.
Firmly in her magic, she moved it downward, the small screen on the cluster telling her what gear she was in as it cycled from Park, Reverse, Neutral, and lastly Drive.
The front two windows were already down, so Luna leaned over to shout out the passenger side.
“See, dear Sister, nothing to-”
Her hoof slipped from the brake to the gas, and the front wheels dug into the lush green grass. Traction control kicked in, and she lurched forward several feet before she came to a crashing stop.
A massive white pillow blew up in her face, and after several blinks she shoved it out of her vision. She realized the hazard lights were on and the short hood was bent.
She’d also rammed into the nose of Celestia’s white van.
She had punctured her radiator. Luna looked through her owners manual again to make sure of its purpose. Instead of those found in her citizen’s homes to heat and warm them for the winter days, this one drew in air to cool a liquid of some kind and keep the engine running smoothly.
Now that all the fluid was in a puddle of mudd, she realized they did not, in fact, have any spare of this strange, sweet smelling fluid.
Celestia had warned her not to taste it. It was most foul, Thomas had told her.
So she did the next best thing. Cast a cold spell upon the motor. First it was too cold, and it did not want to start, so she adjusted it. Then it started to billow smoke once it got warm. She eventually decided the best action was instead to place a temperment spell upon it, so it was always at a specific temperature.
According to her abacus, the number she wanted was roughly 210 degrees, give or take 10.
Celestia’s van faired much better, only cosmetic damage to the plastic bumper and steel hood. With a little bit of magic, both were mended to the best they could.
Luna flicked a chunk of peeled paint from her hood, frowning. She’d also cut out the white pillow from the steering wheel, because even when she tried to stick it back in, it still wanted to escape.
“Well, now that they’re officially broken in, what says we don’t make them more comfortable, no?” Celestia asked.
Luna agreed silently with a nod.
First thing to go were the drivers side front seats, in both vans.
They were not as convenient to remove as the rear seats were to stow away, but once the hardware had been located under the interior rug their magic did the trick to remove them, as well as the wires connecting to the seatbelt.
Then a little red light came on, and wouldn’t stop donging at them.
Luna realized it was the seatbelt, so reconnected the lower part’s wires.
It still donged at them.
Then she cut the shoulder strap, placed the small metal bit in, and shoved the whole damn thing under the carpet.
That shut it up quickly.
With the seat now gone, and Celestia’s middle row stowed away, they could sit in Luna’s case, or lay for Celestia’s, quite comfortably. Gravity spells helped keep them from rolling around or being tossed in hard turns.
Luna found great joy in using her forehooves to control the brake and gas pedals, while teeth dug into the foam steering wheel, assisted by her magic for sharper turns.
Celestia’s steering wheel was leather, and she didn’t want to ruin the deceased animal’s sacrifice, so opted to use her magic on the pedals and steer with her hooves.
Both ways gave way to varying degrees of success.
And then Celestia T-boned Luna’s right quarter panel.
Celestia lost a headlight. Luna lost the back right glass window, and more of those white pillows had blown up in the back.
The headlight was simple enough to fix. Celestia casted a mend spell on the bulb filament, and thanks to their guards resourcefulness, they placed clear packaging tape over the lense. The book said the Daytime Running Lights were a safety feature, and they wanted to make sure to keep things safe.
Luna commented on their fix to the seatbelts, and Celestia countered that she knew they’d be safe, because they were nigh immortal alicorns. Luna saw reason and dropped the subject.
Thomas had taught her well in the art of zip ties, and they were able to mount the light close enough to new as they could get.
Luna’s back window was another problem. They could fix it, and replace it, but then it could just break again. Celestia cast barrier spells upon all her glass to add another layer of defense. She liked having the natural light inside, although wished she could remove the tint out of them. Luna went another route instead, busting all of the glass out, replacing the back areas with random sheets of plate mail from the smithy, and left the entire front windshield out in favor of the wind in her mane.
Then they discovered that, like the two front doors, the two on the sliding doors could also slide down into the doors with the switches provided.
They felt a little silly about this, but let it be for now.
Once they’d done their improvements to the minivans, they went on some more test drives. Playing with a lever they discovered the parking brake could make for some spectacular maneuvers that the normal brakes wouldn’t allow.
By this time, they’d also started to rip up most of the grass in the field, and were running guards ragged as they tried to keep curious ponies from getting too close to the action. Before long, they’d made a dirt like track that crossed in the center, and were “racing” in the sense of who could push who off course.
That was when Luna’s van tapped the left rear corner of Celestia’s in a curve, and made the white minivan go into a tumble and roll.
They had placed bleachers for ponies to watch, and a barrier wall around that area of the track so nopony got hurt.
Celestia’s sun roof was no more. Amazingly the glass didn’t shatter, but the whole piece just came out around her third roll. Now a piece of sheet metal was installed, taking a page from Luna’s book, to cover the inside in case it rained.
Some kind pegasi had made sure to keep the sky cleared, however, so they could play.
Luna also had managed to make some tubular bumper guards for the front and rear. This hindered the rear gate opening, but she didn’t need it anyway, so ignored it. Celestia was quick to follow, but also wrapped hers around the corners so her wheels were protected.
Pouting, Luna looked to her improvised spear heads expertly attached to the center hubs of each wheel, now moot because of the added security to her sister’s wheels. The plastic coverings tossed aside as two were already cracked and fractured from going over some large stones.
The rims seemed to leak out compressed air, so she fixed that by taking the smithy’s hammer and bashing them back into shape. Celestia’s wheels were shiney and of a different metal, and when they’d tried to strike one to fix it the crack grew and got worse.
Her one and only spare was now on the back, and Luna donated her spare to the other back, just in case. They were sisters, not rivals, after all.
So the races continued, ponies standing around and cheering, rooting for their favorite princess. Even the guard was in on the action, both mares enlisting two guards each to stand in the open rear doors to act as spotters, and occasionally throwing up protective shields to deflect bumps or possible spin outs.
By the end of the evening, there was no clear winner, and everypony went home. The vans were left out there on the track to rest, and Celestia made a note to ask for some more fuel once they figured out their worlds currency exchange rate that evening.
The next morning, the two alicorns brought with them the other two alicorns, Princess Twilight Sparkle and Princess Mi Amore Cadenza.
They were shocked, however, to find some earth pony artist out painting murals on the van’s sides and rear hatch. Luna held back a grin as Celestia fumed over the works of “art”.
Really, they were childish pictations of themselves on the opposite's van.
Upon Luna’s van, was Celestia with massive flanks, her cutie marks replaced with “Sun Butt”. Luna’s visage on the white van was of resemblance to Nightmare Moon, only wearing a clown wig and her cutie marks replaced with “Moon Butt.”
The artist apologized, but thought it made for good motivation.
Cadence and Twilight agreed, although with lots of giggling.
So while the two new princesses read the owners manuals (Luna’s was a little singed, for some reason) the older alicorns went back out to play. Nothing significant occurred, save for last night’s rain making the track slick and spraying mudd down the sides and into the wheel wells. Also the normal addition of small dents and scratches.
When it came time for Twilight and Cadence’s turns, it was to no surprise the newest alicorn wanted to drive the white one. Cadence happily took Luna’s, and with one final instruction from both mentors, took their spots in the mostly open interiors.
Celestia’s had lots of holes in the headliner from her horn, and the visors had been removed, although if intentional or not was Twilight’s guess.
Going slow at first, Cadence was quick to pick up the vehicle’s movements, and favored Celestia’s methods of driving.
Twilight put Celestia’s van into reverse and gunned it, nearly taking out a crowd of ponies watching.
Thankfully, both older alicorns put a wall up to stop it, and Celestia agreed to sit in with her to help instruct further, and keep Twilight calmed down.
Luna took this as a sign that her sister was trying to favor one over the other, so joined Cadence.
And then they were off, the first major stunt being Cadance and Luna causing Celestia’s van to roll again.
When John Elkann, Chairman of Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles got the letter from the United States President, that they had gifted these two alien co-rulers two of his minivans, he had to see for himself what they’d done. There was very little doubt in his mind that they’d already pulled the vans apart, piece by piece, to examine them. Learn from them, to better future their own world using his technology.
His, in the sense that he ran the company, but still felt like it was his. He wanted to make sure anything they did was with the knowledge that it was trademarked and copyright protected.
Stepping through the portal, he was accompanied by a few other officials carrying red cans full of gasoline. The Princesses had agreed to his visit, he just needed to bring some more gas. He found that odd, but maybe they were endurance testing one, to see the limitations of their economy and exhaust gasses on their ecosystem.
He was only partially correct. They were endurance testing them alright.
John stood there, jaw nearly dropped at what he saw. Two of his minivans were racing around a dirt figure 8 track, battered beyond all recognition, with scratched and scarred murals of the Equestrian leaders upon them.
Stranger yet, he found both rulers sitting in lawn chairs, sunglasses and sun hats on, watching their vans go about the destruction derby, smiling and sipping tall glasses with little umbrellas in them.
Celestia was first to take notice.
“Oh, greetings! You must be Mister Elkann!”
The man stood there, still dumbfounded.
“Sister! They brought us more petrol!”
“Oh, how grand! They’re almost out. We tried to substitute the fuel at one point with liquid rainbows, but too many curious fillies and colts kept trying to lick the exhaust pipes.”
“It did smell quite good, We admit.”
John pointed to the two vans, the blue one, for the fourth time, putting the white one into a Pit Maneuver.
“W-what did you do?”
The Princesses followed his pointing, outstretched arm. They watched as Twilight slowly regained control, and started to go along again, a noticeable dog tracking going on from the rear of the van.
“We are playing with our presents,” Celestia said casually.
“Aye, tis a fun time We have had. We wanted to share it with our fellow Princesses, Twilight Sparkle and Mi Amore Cadenza.”
This time, John watched as the white van snuck in a side swipe to the opposite direction blue one, clearly playing chicken in the center of the track.
“Hardy things, my friend Thomas’ minivan was quite old from what he told me. These should last us quite a while, wouldn’t you say?”
John continued to watch, stunned.
“Sister, We think he is shocked at how we have used our new toys.”
“I think you are correct.” She turned from her sister. “Mister Elkann, would you like a seat?”
“And a drink?” Luna added, floating her glass with a little shake.
The human looked to the two equine princesses, back to what were two brand new family sized minivans, then said screw it and took a seat beside Princess Celestia. Luna floated him over a drink, just in time to watch Luna’s van smash into the left rear corner of Celestia’s, sending that rear wheel flying off.
Luna let out a triumphant “HUZZAH!”, clearly pointing out the fact that the wheel covers were her sister’s downfall.
That was when John realized the roaring crowd behind them, cheering on their respective favorite co-ruler.
“I wonder, do your minivans also come in purple and pink? Or do they have to be custom ordered?” Celestia asked, glancing to John with a coy smile.
John simply nodded his head. He took a sip of his drink. It was a Pina Calada.