• Published 4th Mar 2012
  • 13,633 Views, 959 Comments

Of Steam Gears and Wings - RavensDagger

The CMC go against the Empire that is ruling over Equestria. A la Dieselpunk.

  • ...

Grey Meetings, Apple Meetings

“Everypony, please take your seats.”

With a quiet rustling, and the scraping of chairs against marble flooring, the group of ponies around the large maple desk sat, save one.

Bunnyhelm paced around the round table, slowly inspecting the half dozen nobles and militants gathered with him. “You ponies were gathered here for a simple reason,” he said, speaking up as to be heard over the pulsing of the ship’s Sparkle Generator. “We are here to discuss the fall of the Empire.” His eyes scanned the group as they reacted. A gasp escaped many of the ponies, yet most smiled expectantly under thick brows, eyes watching back.

Bunnyhelm continued. “Two days ago the almighty Emperor Blueblood made the first use of this ship's powerful Arkana Cannon, obliterating an arena full of presumably innocent ponies.”

Bunnyhelm had gone full circle, bright sunlight basked his white coat in a warm glow as he stood behind his seat. Twisting, he snapped his hooves together, the sound resonating in the tiny room. “His actions are inexcusable. Not only were they actions against ponykind, they also made many lose faith in the Emperor. And as an added consequence they lose faith in the Empire itself. Blueblood’s crackdown on those six mares has begun... with devastating results. Capturing just one cost us so much...”

One of the gathered rose, pristine hooves clacking against the table as she supported herself on it. “The Great and Powerful Trixie does not see how we can persuade the ignorant commoners of low birth to rekindle their blind faith in Blueblood.”

“Nor do I,” admitted Bunnyhelm. The ponies in the room looked at him quizzically. “The only solution I see... is actually rather simple.” He moved his seat then sat down at the table. “We eliminate Blueblood.”

A few of the gathered stood up in shock. Others just tilted their heads, or arched an eyebrow. Bunnyhelm’s roving eyes picked up all their little movements and twitches. “It is impossible for the Empire to defeat the rebellion in a war of attrition. For every pony we anger we will create a new enemy, and, we must not forget that Luna, the leader of the rebellion, is immortal. She will outlive us all.”

“Nor can we fight against the six mares that stand as towers for the rebellion. Their involvement in Imperial politics run too deep. Blueblood is, at this very moment, destroying their commerce and business using ground troops, shutting down their factories and barricading their stores, all in a vain attempt to capture them all. He will not succeed.”

One of the gathered sighed. “Get to it, Chronos. What do you propose?”

“Why, General Bolt Lock, we let the rebellion kill Blueblood. He is... disposable after all. We let them do it in a fashion that makes it look like a great victory for them, something they can be proud of!”

The general rose from his seat, slamming a hoof against the table. “Are you an absolute fool? Wh-”

“Hush!” Bunnyhelm lifted a hoof. “Think, the rebellion cannot be squashed by hammering them with ships and soldiers. They are too flexible. Members come and go, making it impossible to really destroy them. The bonds that hold them together are very well protected. Not beyond our ability to destroy, but the process of doing such would harm us greatly. No, the rebellion’s greatest weakness is time, time, and their inability to strike. They are not tangible enough to hold their own territories and lands. Disputes over rank and privileges will spring up amongst them if we let them take some ground.”

“What I propose is simple. Soon, Blueblood will lead the greatest Imperial fleet ever assembled. But he has no target. We will give him one, one that is dear to the rebellion. And, as he marches towards that target. On the day of his greatest battle, we will leave him to rot.”

“Ponies rely on us. Some hate us. Some know that we’ve done wrong. But most ponies still count on the Empire. We just need them to count on us more than they do the rebels.”

Everypony nodded solemnly as Bunnyhelm smiled. He had them. Getting up, he walked to the only window in the room, a tiny porthole with hoof thick glass. Beyond the glass were eight Interdiction-Class patrol ships in pairs of two, each flanked the sides of the four huge Obedience-Class Destroyers. The huge ships floated lightly in the air, dwarfing the hundreds of tiny fighters and transports that scuttled around from ship to ship.

And yet, none were as large or as imposing as the Sol Scorcher. “The plan is simple,” he finally said. “Ponyville is owned by the Apple Farming Industries, rebel sympathisers. Their leader, Applejack, was one of the six champions of Equestria during the great war. At the end of it, three full divisions turned down their weapons and began working for her. The place has ample firepower to bring Blueblood down.”

One of the ponies laughed. “Ample firepower? You don’t need much to kill him!”

Bunnyhelm smiled lightly along with him. “You fail to understand. We need to make it look like an overwhelming victory. Blueblood is going to die.” Bunnyhelm touched the heavy wall at his side. “And so shall the Sol Scorcher.”

“What?!” they cried in outrage.

Trixie got up from her chair, star spangled admiral’s cap falling off her head. “Trixie was told that the ship was unsinkable!”

Bunnyhelm lifted a hoof, motioning them to calm down. “It is... mostly. With the army of ships we are gathering it most certainly will become untouchable. But it has weaknesses, weaknesses that can be exploited.” Trotting over to his seat, Bunnyhelm leaned over, grabbing something under the desk. Everypony leaned forward, curious to see what he brought out.

Rising, he threw a letter onto the table. Half a dozen eyes fixated upon it. On the cover of the cleanly folded copy was a simple message. “To Sweetie Belle; from your Sister Rarity.”

“What is it?” one of them finally asked.

“A letter, from Miss Rarity. Nothing too fancy, at first glance. But it’s in code. I’ll let you decipher it on your own,” he said cryptically.

“Does this mean that they know how to destroy the Sol Scorcher?”

“No, but it means they can weaken us greatly. As to how they will discover the means to destroy this ship, I am about to tell them.”

The group looked at him quizzically. He smiled kindly. “Did I not tell you that Blueblood captured a very important rebel? She is on board and she wants to leave. How about I give her a gift before she departs?”

“You’ll free her,with documents about the ship’s weaknesses?”

Bunnyhelm hummed. “No, not quite. I’ll just help her along by giving her some blueprints. They'll have to figure it out on their own. A ship, one tagged as a rebel smuggler was passing nearby. I am certain they’ll relish the opportunity to visit our little installation...” Bunnyhelm rose from his seat, trotting to the sole entrance of the room. “Now, gentlecolts and mare. I shall take my leave. I have an important document to deliver!”

* * *

“Which cell is it?” asked Bunnyhelm to the nearby guard as he trotted into the dimly lit brig. Inky Scribeswell followed him in. The secretary's eyes were rimmed red as he timidly carried a clean brown satchel. It was stuffed full of paper, bulging at the edges.

The guard snapped a salute. “Cell number One-One-Three-Eight, sir! Do you wish for an interrogations team?” Bunnyhelm waved the request away.

“No, no. I just want some privacy with Miss Dash.” Nodding the soldier whistled. The few other ponies patrolling the small brig trotted out of the cell block, saluting Bunnyhelm as they passed.

Calmly, Bunnyhelm trotted forward. His hoofsteps beat in tandem with Inky’s, ringing against the thick walls of the quiet prison. The only source of light and sound was the hum emanating from the prison gates. Glancing up, he looked at the numbers stenciled above the cells, stopping at the one marked ‘one-one-three-eight’. Inside, on a dreary grey cot, was a bright cyan mare, her thinning rainbow mane and tail poking out from beneath the lumpy blanket. The brightness of her body was almost offending to the grey on grey patterns of the Imperial ship.

“Miss Dash?” he asked.

The mare moved under the covers, pulling them around her as she gave him a cold shoulder. “Rainbow Dash,” he began, opening a folder from out of his briefcase. “Best Young Fliers Competition winner. Known to have used the Sonic Rainboom to incredible effect five times in her lifespan. Was scheduled to join the Wonderbolts three weeks before the Great War started. Championed by Celestia herself during the opening months of it instead. Led the first aerial assault division for almost two years before the advent of fighter planes. Retired from the front lines and, with the aid of her friends and fellow champions, created some of the most devastating war machines ever... After the war she became the sole owner of Spectrum Skies, the largest and best producer of fighter aircraft in Equestria...”

Closing the file with a snap, Bunnyhelm looked up. “You have a very impressive resume, Miss Dash.”

The lump on the bed grunted as it turned over, facing him with angry red eyes. “What do you want, Bunnyhelm? To parade me on the streets? Make it known that you’ve won? Use me as a hostage? What-do-you-want?”

Bunnyhelm smiled. “I wanted to give you this.” Turning to Inky, he motioned towards the bag. The secretary meekly grabbed the satchel and deposited it on the edge of the cell. Using his magic, Bunnyhelm shut the magical screen. With a swift kick he slid the bag across the floor to the feet of Rainbow Dash’s cot before turning the magical barrier back on.

Rainbow Dash looked at the bag suspiciously. “Don’t worry, Miss Dash. If I wanted to kill you I would have left the dirty work to the guards. Better yet, I could let Blueblood do as he wishes...” The mare looked at him, fury and fear painted across her face.

“So you know what that is? What Blueblood wants for you and your five little friends?”

A few silent seconds stretched by.

“I’ll assume not. Well, first, he wants his way with you. he always was a perverted twit. Then, when you’re spent, he’ll throw you to the hounds so to speak. That’s not the worst part of course. You see, in his throne room there are six plaques, each with a name and body part. One of them, is labeled ‘Rainbow Dash: Wings’.”

The mare looked at him, uncertainty and fear mixing with her expression of pure loathing.

Bunnyhelm smiled at her reaction. “Don’t worry. you are by far more useful alive than dead... Come Inky, we are leaving.”

Turning, the noble pony began to walk away. Inky stood his ground, giving the mare one last shrug of his slumped shoulders before following Bunnyhelm out of the brig.

“Are you sure this is a good idea?”

“What’s the worst that could happen, Pip?”

Pipsqueak looked around uncertainly, half his body illuminated by the light emanating from the nearby building. “I can think of plenty of things that could go wrong,” he exclaimed in a loud whisper.

Apple Bloom rolled her eyes. “Come on, we’re just going to listen in a little.” With a swift twist and kick, the metal grating that blocked the huge grey building's ventilation system popped free. “It’s now or never Pip.”

The stallion fidgeted, shivering slightly as a cold gust of apple-smelling air blew around him. “I don’t know, Apple Bloom, what if we get stuck?”

The mare huffed at him. “You callin’ me fat?”

Pipsqueak’s eyes widened in panic. “No, no, I’m just trying to say that this will get us in trouble.”

Apple Bloom rounded on him, grabbing his shoulder with her hoof. “Pip, don’t you want to impress the mares?”

The stallion reddened slightly as his brown eyes wandered away from her orange ones. “Yeah, I guess...”

“Well, if ya do this for me, Ah’ll be mighty impressed. Such a stud, sneaking into a rebel base to spy on the going ons of a top secret meetin’.”

“You’d be impressed?” he asked, a glimmer of hope twinkling in his eye.

“Oh, very impressed, you just wait till I tell Scootaloo just how brave you were...”

“Oh,” Pipsqueak looked away. “Right, Scootaloo...”

Apple Bloom smiled sweetly before letting go of his shoulder and turning back to the vent. “Don’t worry Pip, Ah told ya I’d help you with the mares.” She winked at him. “Now help me up.”

Pipsqueak did as he was told, dragging his hooves over to the vent’s side. “Still think this is a bad idea,” he muttered.

Apple Bloom jumped up, grabbing the edge of the vent with her fore-hooves as her back legs scraped against the hard cement surface of the building. Pipsqueak positioned himself behind her, pushing up on her leg to hoist her into the building. Suddenly the mare’s leg slipped, making Apple Bloom fall a few inches. Pipsqueak ‘oomphed’ as his face got smacked by Apple Bloom’s flank.

Finally, the mare caught hold of the top and pulled herself into the shaft. Turning, she extended a hoof to help him up. “Why’re ya blushing like that?” she asked.

Rather than answer the young stallion grabbed her hoof and pulled himself up and into the vent with a grunt.

Inside the vent, the two ponies crawled forward. Apple Bloom leading the way quietly, save for the occasional ding against the metal siding. “I think we’re here,” she eventually whispered, edging around so that she stood on the other side of a small hole in the vent. Through the grating, feeble light poured in, illuminating both Apple Bloom’s and Pipsqueak’s face.

Peaking through, Pipsqueak could see a square room. He could see a makeshift table made of empty apple crates, which were the only piece of furniture in the otherwise barren room. Nopony was there. Inching forward, he leaned against the grating with his head.

“What are ya doing?” whispered Apple Bloom.

“Listening.” The only sound was the far away fans and the occasional creak of the vent as it shifted under their weight.

“Oh... Hey Pip? You remember on the Griffon Chaser?”


“Right before we crashed, you yelled something... What was it?”

Pipsqueak sputtered. “I-I... was talking to Keen Eyes. Yeah, that’s it. I wanted to tell her something.” He coughed, looking away as his face heated up.

“Keen Eyes,” Apple Bloom repeated in a whisper, not noticing how flustered Pipsqueak had become. “I wonder what she’s up to, just leaving us like that...”

“I think she was an Imp,” said Pipsqueak.

Apple Bloom’s face darkened. “Yeah, I guess she was.” The two ponies remained quiet for a while, contemplating, until Pipsqueak’s ears perked up.

“Somepony’s coming,” he said, hushing Apple Bloom. Inching forward, the two crammed their heads together trying to look down into the room below.

The door opened with a rusty squeak as ponies began to walk in. The first was Applejack, who had a caring hoof over the shoulder of the dejected yellow and pink pegasus beside her. The sounds of pitiable cries filled the air as the pegasus clutched her face in her hooves.

“Ah’m so sorry Fluttershy, we’ll do everythin’ we can to help, all right?”

The pegasus nodded slowly, another sob escaping her. “It-it’s okay Applejack, I’ll be fine.” The mare fluttered over to the makeshift table at the centre of the room, sitting on the ground with slumped shoulders. “It’s so unfair.” Suddenly, she looked up, a righteous fury burning in her tear-stained eyes. “How could he do that?!”

“Ah don’t know, Fluttershy. Ah don’t know,” said Applejack, shaking her head as she too took a seat at the table.

Two more ponies walked into the room. One was dressed with a tattered commander’s uniform, still bearing the ranks of a mechanized-division leader. The other wore a large dark trench coat, hood pulled over his head.

“Who are they?” whispered Pipsqueak. Apple Bloom shrugged beside him before shushing him lightly.

“Is she alright?” asked the pony in commander’s grab.

Applejack nodded, giving her a small smile as she patted Fluttershy. “She’ll be fine. She was just really disturbed by what happened. One of her ships was ther--.” Applejack looked a little shaken. Both Pipsqueak and Apple Bloom could see her face clearly in the cheap yellow lighting. Bags had formed under her eyes, and little stress wrinkles were beginning to show along her face.

The pony in the trench coat shifted, an orange hoof poking out from underneath. “Shall we begin?” he asked.

“Yeah, I guess we should.” Applejack turned to the general-looking pony. “Commander Faust, could you brief us please?”

The commander rose from her position at the table, pulling out a thick manuscript from her coat as she did. Placing it on the table she began to read. “Imperial orders from Blueblood sent hours after the Spectrum Skies incident. Imperial troops began gathering into one massive fleet. Shield arrays around Canterlot are up and at full powe-”

Applejack grunted. Grabbing her hat with her hoof, she threw it on the table. “Enough about Canterlot. It ain’t that we’re worried about. Where’s the fleet headin’ to?”

The commander sighed. “We don’t know Miss. We do have preliminary numbers, their main gathering point, and non-military Imperial movements. Miss Fluttershy might be interested in the latter,” she said, looking at Fluttershy.

The shy mare looked up from the table and her eyes met the commander’s. “Um, why would I be interested?”

Commander Faust shuffled the papers around, settling with four separate sheets from the pile. “Rarity’s fashion factories in Manehattan were assaulted and rendered inoperable. Spectrum Skies, as you know it, has been closed down forcefully after the disappearance of Rainbow Dash. The Sparkle Society has lost each and every order for their machines. Counterfeit Sparkle Generators are now on the market. Every legal action attempted to chase down the makers of these fakes has been stalled by the Empire. If all of this is accurate, Miss Fluttershy, Empathy Medical might be next.”

Fluttershy gasped. “But, all those foals and injured ponies, what will happen to them?” Her eyes brimmed with tears once more.

The commander rubbed her elbow, unable to stare at the crying mare. “I-I don’t know Miss Fluttershy.”

“Hmm, Rarity is gonna be mighty angry once she finds out. Still, this does tell us what their plan is.”

“Indeed,” whispered the trench coat wearing pony. “From this evidence, I believe that Blueblood is trying to rid himself of not only the rebellion, but you as well. He wants to get rid of the Champions of Equestria.”

Applejack slammed her hoof on the wooden table, cracking it. “What in tarnation is his problem! We never did anything to him, and now he wants t-to kill us?!”

“That isn’t all Miss Applejack,” said the trench coat pony. “I believe that the Empire’s next target is Ponyville.”

Five ponies gasped.

“Um, wh-why Ponyville?” asked Fluttershy.

The commander placed a hoof under her chin, slowly nodding her head. “It makes sense. His goal is to eliminate you. He knows that the six of you all hold this town dear and that if he threatens it with the Sol Scorcher, you will all retaliate. Not to mention that this town has openly flaunted its hatred for the Empire in the past. It’s no surprise that he dislikes it.”

The room became quiet as the four ponies pondered for a few minutes. Then Applejack spoke, looking at the trench coat wearing pony as she did so. “How will Luna react?”

“She will come to your aid if you request it. Even if you do not, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few rebel ships appearing at the right time. The Sparkle Society will also help, as will Pinkie Pie, and Rarity. So mechanical assistance, clothing, armour and weaponry, as well as ammunition will all be provided for. Unfortunately, with the sudden loss of Rainbow Dash, we cannot be certain if we will be able to secure enough fighter aircraft.”

“And what are our chances?” she asked again.

This time the commander answered. “Decent. We have plenty of ships. Your fleet of Apple-Pickers alone will give them something to think about once they’re equipped by Miss Pie. Of course, Luna’s fleet is quite considerable. The Moon and Sun alone could give Admiral Trixie’s flagships something to think about for a while. Some of our soldiers have been around since the great war. They’re old, but have a lot of experience. The Imperials will be evenly matched. The only oddball is the Sol Scorcher.”

“Ah see. Can you make the necessary calls?”

“Indeed Miss Applejack,” replied commander Faust.

“Good. Then until we have more information, this meeting is adjourned.” Applejack stood up at the table, backing away from it slightly.

The trench coat wearing pony lifted a hoof suddenly. “Wait, Miss Applejack? I was wondering whether it is customary for you to place ponies in the air vents?”

“Ponies in the air-vents? Now why in the hay would I do th--” Applejack looked up, understanding flashing in her eyes. “Horseapples, when I catch those meddling--”

Pipsqueak and Apple Bloom shared a look of desperation. “Move,” she squeaked.

The white-and-brown pony began sliding backwards, shimming along as quickly as he could while Apple Bloom gingerly crawled around the vent opening. Suddenly two orange hooves pierced through the metal, bending it into a dozen rounded wedges not a hoof-length from the tip of his muzzle.

“When I git you, yer going to regret spy’n on us!” yelled a voice from below.

“Um, Apple Bloom, maybe we should, um, talk to them?”

Apple Bloom looked Pipsqueak in the eye. Right there and then the two came to an unspoken agreement.

“Yes, let’s talk about it! No need to kill us... please don’t kill us,” squealed Pipsqueak into one of the holes Applejack had made.

The vent shook as another massive impact hit. Both ponies within cringed as the metal bent, squealing in torture as rivet after rivet popped. Then it stopped. Pipsqueak and Applebloom both sighed in relief.

Applejack bucked it again. With a grinding creak, the square tube ripped apart at the seams, sending the entire thing crashing to the ground below, the wooden table breaking the fall slightly before it too broke apart.

Pipsqueak lay on his stomach in a daze, his mind disorientated and confused by the hard fall and harder landing. He felt something wet and slobbery tugging at his rear hoof. It pulled him, his belly rubbing against the cold metal as he slid out, only to crash on the floor with an ‘omph’.

“Pipsqueak! You’re an Imperial spy? Well I’ll be. The girls will be mighty disappointed to find that out.” Pipsqueak looked up to Applejack, her hat casting a shadow that obscured the better part of her face.

“There’s another Miss Applejack,” said the trench coat wearing pony. He unceremoniously dumped Apple Bloom on the remains of the table.

“Apple Bloom,” shouted Pipsqueak, shoving Applejack out of his way to reach the young mare. Instead of meeting her, the tip of his muzzle met the tip of the trench pony’s gun. Pipsqueak froze, eyes slowly guiding their way up along the orange hoof, across the dark leather-like material and to the pony’s gleaming, merciless, eyes.

“Oh my,” said Fluttershy, approaching the groaning Apple Bloom. The pegasus hovered over the yellow mare, her hooves tenderly touching Apple Bloom, inspecting for injuries. “Oh, you’ll be fine, but you should really go see a doctor.” Fluttershy looked at Applejack, almost as if asking for permission. “Coul-could I go get one of my doctors?”

The trench coat wearing pony cut them off with a raised hoof, lifting his pistol away from Pipsqueak’s snout. “You know these ponies?” He pointed to Pipsqueak and Apple Bloom in turn with the tip of his weapon.

“Yeah,” sighed Applejack. “She’s mah sister, and he’s her friend.” Applejack groaned as she circumvented the trench coat wearing pony to stand by Apple Bloom’s side. “Apple Bloom?” she asked as the young mare began to regain her bearings. “Just how silly are you? First you crash into a building. literally, then you sneak into a meeting like this. Why, I ought to tie you to a tree for the amount of trouble yer causing!”

“Ah, Ah’m sorry sis,” the mare replied feebly.

“Uh-huh. You two mind explaining just what you were doing in there?” asked the cowmare, her eyes shifting from Apple Bloom to Pipsqueak.

Pipsqueak ran forward, placing himself between the two sisters. “It, it was my idea Miss. I wanted to know what was going on, but I was afraid of coming here alone, so I forced Apple Bloom to come with me.” Pipsqueak blushed furiously as the mare scrutinized his face, and his lie. Apple Bloom looked down in shame but didn’t say a word.

Applejack huffed, the edges of her eyes wrinkling sadly as she looked down at the white and brown stallion. She opened her mouth then shut it, uncertain as to what to say.

“Miss Applejack,” said the trench coat wearing pony. “If I may, could I suggest a proper punishment?”

Applejack sighed, turning away from her sister and Pipsqueak. “Sure, go ahead.”

“Well, the rebellion always needs more ponies, and these two look like fine young candidates. Perhaps we could use them to our advantage. I am sure that a life of service would--teach--them a thing or two about obedience.”

Apple Bloom looked at Pipsqueak, her eyes wide with both excitement and fear. Her head moved, making the tiniest of nods as the corners of her mouth twitched upwards. “Yes ma’am, we would gladly serve you and Equestria!” said Pipsqueak, cringing as he felt himself sink deeper and deeper into a cesspool of trouble.

This one was another pain to write. You’d better like it!

Oh and a small heads up, chapters will be a bit smaller from now on. Me being Uber busy does little to help!

Edited by:


Proofread by:


Cpl Hooves

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