by Nagmeister


Jeb checked, rechecked, and triple-checked each system of the lander. Any failures during this flight would probably be fatal, so he wanted to make sure nothing out of the ordinary happened. Bill and Bob testing the rover, spinning the wheels and making sure no tires were damaged. Satisfied, they started unloading the lander and shoving the supplies onto the rover. Jeb hit a button to open a door on the side of the lander, and Bill started removing boxes, which he passed to Bob, who put them on the back of the rover. With the rover stacked four meters high with various boxes, the lander emptied, and all the systems checked, they began their short journey.
The roads in the Everfree were not very well paved. Every few meters, Bill and Bob would hit a large bump, almost sending them and the boxes flying off the chassis. They drove down the dirt path at almost sixty miles an hour, slowing down only for the curves. The rover's electric motors whined as they were pushed to their limits, moving much faster with a much heavier load than they were designed to do. They continued driving, however, until they came out of the forest. And there, only about two hundred meters ahead, was a town.
With no other road to take, and unable to drive onto the grass due to the low traction, high load, and uneven terrain, they just had to drive through looking as inconspicuous as possible. Of course, this plan was slightly flawed.

Twilight heard the motors' whining halfway across town. Walking to her window, she looked in the general direction it was coming from and saw a strange whitish blob. She went downstairs and left the treehouse to walk to the source.
There was already a small crowd of ponies around. They were slowly moving down the street as the rover inched forward. Its batteries were already running down, and it needed to get to an open space to deploy the solar array and recharge. This was definitely not an open space. Both Bill and Bob realized the trouble they were in, and knew there was only one way to get out. Bill revved the motors, and ponies jumped out of the way as the car sped down the road.
“That was close,” said Bob as he swerved to avoid the ponies, stalls, and fountains on the road.
Slowly, the sound of the motors died down until it stopped. Bill tried to restart the motors, but to no avail. The batteries were dead. The rover slowly lost speed until it came to a stop at a street corner. With no way to get the rover where it needed to go, all Bob could say was, “Well, crap.”
The ponies started to get back towards the rover, slowly approaching it from all sides. Bob hit the rover in frustration; the motors gave a satisfying purr for a few seconds before dying down. The crowd was getting closer, so, with nothing else to do, Bob tried to extend a solar panel.
The blue blade gently and slowly whirred out of its casing and expanded to one side. The ponies in its path moved aside and let it go out. Unfortunately, the solar panel had deployed directly into the shadow of a building, so that plan was to no avail.
Bob sighed as he left the seat, motioning Bill to do the same. They got behind the rover and began to push, again to no avail, when a voice called out to them.
“Need any help over there?” said a vaguely familiar voice.
“Who... Oh, it's you.” said Bill, looking in the direction the voice came from.
The ponies in the way moved aside as Twilight walked down the street, heading straight for the rover. “What is this thing?” she asked as she thoroughly examined it and its components. She looked at the seats, cargo straps, motors, batteries, and wheels, but she still couldn't tell what it did.
“This is our rover; don't touch anything or else you might break it.”
“But what's it for? It looks like a cart, but there's no way to pull it.”
“It moves itself, but it ran out of power.”
Twilight looked somewhat confused until she noticed something lodged in between the seats. She picked it up and looked at it; it was a booklet, with “ROVER MK4 INSTRUCTION MANUAL” printed on the top in big, bold letters.
“This might come in handy,” she said as she opened it.
Meanwhile, Jebediah was still doing the preflight checks on the lander, using Horizon as a sort of mission control center to make sure he wasn't missing anything.
“Turbopumps?” asked Alsted.
“Pumping.” replied Jeb.
“Exhaust valves?”
“Life support?”
“Well, that's everything on the list. She should be ready to fly.”
“Starting launch now.”
A deep rumbling filled the spacecraft as the three engines slowly roared to life. The brush and leaves underneath the nozzles were instantly set afire and vaporized as the engines gained strength. Eventually, the lander lifted up in a column of smoke and fire. “Flight nominal, beginning pitch maneuver,” Jebediah relayed to Horizon. The lander's nose slowly dropped lower towards the horizon until the lander was pitched relatively low. The lander accelerated, going ten, twenty, thirty meters per second before reaching a stable speed of about seventy. Jebediah kept the engines on rather low thrust as he sat back and watched the landscape below him. Some farms, an oddly placed tree in the middle of a town, and a few hills passed by under him until the ping of the proximity radar interrupted his observation. “One contact. Relative heading:227.4 degrees. Distance 347m and closing.” Looking to the left and slightly behind, Jeb saw the same blue pony that had observed Bill before. Not wanting to let it get away this time, he kept the lander going steady. As he predicted, it was approaching the lander. It made contact with the top and tried to steady itself. Then, Jeb activated the external camera.

Rainbow Dash saw the little thing poke out of the side of the metal bottle-shaped thing. She approached it and, seeing it as her only option, poked it. It didn't respond, so she poked it again. This time, it moved its head-like tip upwards towards her face. She gave it a quizzical stare before continuing forwards across the thing. The camera continued to track her as she passed, and she noticed that it appeared to be staring at her flank. In fact, it looked like it was... studying her cutie mark. She passed it off as some sort of strange little bug and continued on her way forwards.
When she reached the front, she saw what looked like windows and a door. She pressed on the door, and it opened. She went inside and saw a green... thing sitting in a chair. The thing looked at her with a grin on her face before hitting a button. The door closed, and there was a hissing as some sort of gas filled the room. “It's just air, don't worry,” she though she heard it say. Great, only a few seconds in here and I'm already insane, she thought to herself. However, she realized that it might actually be real when he asked, “Are you okay? You seem rather uncomfortable.”
“Are you real?” she asked, a look of disbelief on her face.
It sighed for a bit, then replied, “As real as the stars are bright.”
She looked around the room. It seemed rather spacious; there were even three beds in the back. Suddenly the creature piped up again. “Would you mind moving? You're sitting on a very important button.” She obliged, and as soon as she was clear he hit the big red button. Suddenly, the sound of guitar, drums, and something shouting filled the room as the creature put on what looked like a pair of sunglasses. She felt rather uncomfortable, as if this was something that was completely strange. “So, um... You from around here?” she asked nervously.
“Me? Nah, I come from somewhere up there,” he said, pointing up. “I only arrived here about two weeks ago, and apparently you haven't heard of me from anyone.”
Rainbow Dash nodded uncomfortably. She still didn't know if this was a good or bad thing; usually, being abducted by creatures that fly out of the Everfree Forest in metal cans that shoot fire out of the back would be frowned upon. “Anyway,” he said, “my name is Jebediah. Pleasure to meet you, miss...?”
“Rainbow Dash. You can call me Rainbow Dash,” she said.
“Pleasure to meet you,” he replied.
The two sat in relative silence for the rest of the flight. Jebediah monitored the flight systems for any anomalies while Rainbow Dash stared out of a window. She felt somewhat uncomfortable, but surprised herself by not wanting even the slightest bit to leave.. Eventually, the white marble towers and houses of Canterlot became visible in the main view window. The lander flew over the city, looking for a suitable spot to land, until suddenly Rainbow felt herself being thrown against a wall as the lander pitched back up to vertical.

In the Canterlot Royal Guard headquarters' top floor, a general was busy filling out paperwork when he heard the rumbling. Looking out the window, he couldn't see anything out of the ordinary, except for a thin trail of smoke. Thinking nothing of it, he returned to his work, but the incessant rumbling wouldn't stop. Suddenly, there was a large thud, and small particles of dust and stone rained from the ceiling. There was a creaking noise, and then the sounds of supports cracking. The rumbling fired up again, and the general barely had time to get under his desk as the roof caved in.

Leaving the once-pointy roof behind, Jeb searched for a new location to land. Eventually, he found a relatively flat spot on the roof of the largest building in town. He set the lander down, and this time no roofs were destroyed. However, there was a sound of surprise from the room below.

Luna was busy napping when the large thud reverberated through the castle. It felt like something had hit just on top of the roof, and she shrieked in surprise. Slightly groggy, she opened a window and flew up onto the ceiling. She saw the large, grey metal cylinder and thought to herself, “That moonshine that guy gave me last night must still be affecting me.” Suddenly, a hatch on the side of the top opened. First, she saw Rainbow Dash peeking her head out. As soon as she saw Luna, she ducked back inside. Then, a ladder lowered from under the open hole. Assuming it was meant for her, Luna started walking towards it. Suddenly, she saw a creature clad in white poke its head out. The head was large, abnormally so, and had two red striped as well as what looked like lights. The rest of the body appeared bipedal in nature, like a shorter, stumpier, less chaotic-looking Discord. She then realized who this was. As she approached, it removed its helmet, turned its head towards her, and said, “Hello, Princess.”

Jeb decided that making his entrance as dramatic as possible was a good idea. Jeb decided wrong. Within the hour, he found himself being grilled by Celestia. One of her first questions was why Rainbow Dash had been found sitting on a bunk inside the lander. “Well, she looked like she wanted to come in, so I let her in and closed the door like a gentleman. Also, I had to repressurize the cabin.”
Unsatisfied with this explanation, Celestia sought out Rainbow Dash to find out what had really happened. Much to her surprise, Jeb's explanation appeared to be true. Celestia returned to the throne room and asked another question to which Jeb had no answer; where were the other two?

Twilight stood in the middle of the street. The shock from the strange cart with the strange creatures riding it had subsided rather quickly, only taking about three hours to appear normal. She had re-read the manual fifteen times straight, and had a fairly good grasp of how the vehicle worked. She knew what was wrong with the rover, and had an idea on how to fix it.
Twilight already knew some spells to create lightning. She had known for a while that lightning may be able to power things, and she was pleased to find out that the electricity that drove the rover was essentially continuous lightning. She had been given warnings by the Kerbs that if she used too much power and put in too much electricity, she would probably fry the rover. So, she read and found the maximum amperage that the rover could sustain was only about four amps. So, she prepared some four-amp bursts of lightning. She focused her brain and slowly, a spark of electricity went from her horn to the test circuit. The lightbulb lit up while her magic was flowing, but stopped as soon as she stopped the flow of charge. She then proceeded to try the same thing on the lander.

One of the first things she noticed is that recharging is slow. In about thirty minutes of charging, the batteries were only charged about ten percent. And, of course, after those thirty minutes a royal guard appeared with a message from Celestia. “She wants to know what I'm doing, and where the 'Kerbals' are?” she asked herself. “Very well then, I'll prepare a response at once.” she said, abandoning the rover project. Bill and Bob shrugged and, knowing that the power could carry them for the seventy meters needed to reach the edge of town, hopped onboard and drove away.
They wasted almost the rest of the entire day just charging the batteries on the road outside Ponyville. With the solar arrays deployed, all they had to do was sit and wait. Of course, the rover wasn't made to have its batteries fully charged, discharged, and recharged in one day, so it took almost six hours to charge the batteries enough to make it the next sixty kilometers. Bill silently prayed to all the Kerbal deities that somewhere they would find an EV charging station, however unlikely and useless that would be in this nation. The batteries eventually charged, however, and they went on their merry way.

Jeb sat in a rather large room on one of the castle spires. He had been given free roam of this section of the castle, known as the Commons Section, but he decided to stay in here for a bit to recuperate his thoughts as well as find out where the hell Bill and Bob were. Unfortunately, he couldn't go looking, for the Princes had taken his lander of f the roof and put it in the courtyard, and everyone knew that launching a rocket in a castle courtyard was a bad idea.
As he wondered about Bill and Bob, he remembered something else; Hanald was still stuck thousands of kilometers to the north. He wondered what was going on in
his mind.

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Log 217, Day 290
Hanald Kerman
Today I tried making ice cream out of dried cream, dried redberries, and snow. Did not work too well; going to try different recipe tomorrow.
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Shining Armor stood in front of a pile of paperwork and a line of concerned crystal ponies. Cadence was, unfortunately, out on vacation in Manehatten, so he was left with all the busy work of managing the Crystal Empire. The line of ponies stretched from around a street corner, down the main plaza, and into the throne room, a full five hundred meters of ponies waiting to have their concerns answered. Almost all of them had the same question, and got the same answer.
“What was that fireball that came down nearby?”
“We don't know, but we're dispatching guards to find out.”
Of course, none of the guards volunteered to go. That is, until it was mentioned that Princess Twilight may possibly have a connection to this. Suddenly, about four ponies raised their hooves; three who were known to have secret crushes on the princess, and a fourth called Flash Sentry who everyone also thought was part of the group. Sighing at the fact that these were the only ponies who would volunteer for the mission, he gave them a basic plan of what to do.
The group of guards trekked through the snowy wilderness for hours before stopping to make camp. They lit a large bonfire and set up tents before raising the flag of Equestria.

Alsted was sitting in the plane's crew cabin, listening to some music that he had downloaded from the Horizon database, when he saw the camp off in the distance. Civilization! Finally! he thought to himself as he prepared his flare gun. He loaded a standard red flare, opened the plane's hatch, and fired.

The one guard who was assigned sentry duty immediately sounded the alarm. “Wake up, everypony! Whatever is there isn't done making fireballs yet!” The four guards instantly rose up out of bed and donned their uniforms before sprinting to the source of the arcing light.
The cold wind bit at their faces as they ran across the frozen wastes. By now, the flare had died down, but they continued to run in the direction it came from. There was a hill in their path, and as they crested it, they saw lights in the snow. It appeared that whatever had made the fireball had started here, for their were some patches of melted snow. There was also some sort of metal behemoth. As large as at least ten ponies or more front-to-back, it somehow supported itself on three spindly-looking legs. However, when one of the guards kicked it, they found it was made of solid steel. There were also three interesting features on the back; some sort of bell, and two volcano-looking things. They noticed a glass window near what could only be presumed as the front; inside, there was light. However, they decided that it was time to make camp for the night, so they followed procedure set earlier. Soon, the camp was set up and the tents prepared, and the group prepared for their rest. The last thing they heard before dropping off to sleep was something that sounded vaguely similar to a war horn.