• Published 4th Mar 2012
  • 13,638 Views, 959 Comments

Of Steam Gears and Wings - RavensDagger

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

  • ...


What's Apple Bloom doing here!? Pipsqueak’s mind screamed as he twisted within the Vanquisher’s cockpit, desperate to catch sight of the mare of his dreams. Amidst his excitement, he momentarily forgot the Imperial fighters tailing him.

A thick stream of bullets grazed the side of his ship, whistling past with only a hair's breadth to spare. He grimaced, twisting his head once more to glance at the two craft tailing him. I don’t have time for this: Apple Bloom’s going to get hurt!

Tears in his eyes, he pushed down on his throttle and played with his yoke, avoiding the flood of flaming bullets while slowly heading towards a certain cigar-shaped fighter. He ducked his ship below the bulk of the fighting, stray bullets scattering across the sky he had occupied seconds before.

He turned, sinking deeper into his seat as his Vanquisher spun in a tight circle. Above him, the Rebel and Imperial fleets were trading blows, airships from both sides burning as they pivoted and vaulted towards the ground nose-first.

One of the Requisitors on his flank rolled out of the way of a stray volley, placing itself within his sights. Without hesitation, he pulled the trigger, wincing as twin lines of bullets blasted out of his ship and crashed into the biplane.

The explosive shock wave was hardly noticed amongst the rolling tide of the battle, and Pipsqueak ignored the flame-spewing form of the downed craft as he blew past it, his eyes still searching for Apple Bloom.

There she is!

Far ahead of him, hidden beneath the oppressive shadow of the Sol Scorcher, was the Tombstone. The long fighter puffed black smoke, attracting more than one greedy Imperial pilot out for an easy kill.

The nervous earthpony slammed his hoof onto his comm controls. “I’m coming Apple!” he screamed madly as he charged into the battlefield.

Flak blew around him, sparkling in the sky while it rained deadly bits of metal. Stray bolts of magical energy sizzled through the air, messing with the navigational equipment of every ship present. Shields burst and hummed to life as massive blows were traded on both sides, the war zone becoming a cacophonic orchestra of death and defeat.

The Tombstone shivered again, the ricochets of enemy projectiles bouncing off its thick armour. She... she won’t make it.

Pipsqueak cried out in pain and anguish as he watched, helpless, while the Imperial fighters closed in on her ship. No!

Above them, the enormous Sol Scorcher shivered. Its vents quaked before glowing and finally spewing powerful beams of light. The strobes played across the battle, dancing over plane and airship, cleanly slicing through everything it touched.

The gathering of still-formed Imperials met a dire fate as the deadly light burned through them. Pipsqueak’s eyes widened in shock as one of the beams pierced the sky ahead of him before veering off into the distance. The Requisitor that had tailed him was veering off as well, two of its stacked wings singed black from the wandering beams.

The Scorcher bucked, a trail of loud pops sounding out as explosions rocked the ship, spreading across its cannon. Midway through the vessel’s length, they stopped, the ship and battlefield settling into a deep calm.

What’s going on? Did somepony destroy the Scorcher? Nevermind that, now’s my time to find Apple Bloom. He swallowed hard and kept flying through the momentarily peaceful war zone.

The Tombstone was flying on, its side crumpled and armour dented, but the sturdy craft began a steady circling maneuver. The earth pony within moved around the cabin, her large bow wobbling. She’s alive! he thought before pressing his plane into a steep dive, rapidly catching up to the cigar-shaped wreck of a ship.

Quickly, Pipsqueak flicked on his comm. “Apple Bloom. You there, Apple Bloom?”

The line screeched static for a few seconds. “Yeah, I’m here. I came ta save you,” the earth pony said lamely, her accent poking through.

Pipsqueak sobbed in relief, a grin spreading across his face. “I-I.... You’re so stupid. So, so stupid,” he said, not meaning a word as he spun around and coasted alongside her.

She looked through her stained and marred glass, a smile adorning her freckled face. “So, should we, um, go somewhere private?”

Pipsqueak blinked dumbly at her.

“I mean, somewhere where we won’t get shot at?”

“Oh, um.” Of course that’s what she meant. “That sounds like a good idea. Follow me?”

From within her cabin, she nodded at him before he gunned his engine and rocketed forward, keeping a steady pace as they both raced skywards.

They flew around the hulking form of the Sol Scorcher, avoiding the bits of debris that fell from its frame. The capital ship was leaning to one side, yet it was not sinking. Some nearby rebel ships fired a volley at it, their projectives rippling against its still-active shield. Pipsqueak gazed at it in wonder. It just won’t go down.

Along its sides, heavy cannons were swiveling out of their anchored positions and taking aim at the maneuvering Rebel airships. With a series of thundering booms, they fired.

As the sound resonated across the sky, the battle kick-started into high gear.

It’s not over yet, he noted sadly, watching as more ponies died in the merciless battle. His comm crackled to life, snapping him out of his revery.

“Pip, watch out!” Apple Bloom screamed.

He looked ahead and at the grey tarp that was blurring by, the words Conformity scrolling by him.

Those explosions, those beams firing wildly, that eerie quiet. Did they actually do it? Sweetie Belle checked and rechecked her data, her eyes hardly blinking as they scrolled across her machine’s various screens. “They did it!” she said, an inkling of hope trickling into her words. “They did it! The Scorcher’s main cannon is down!”

The white unicorn jumped on the spot, her horn almost tapping the Thunderbolt’s low ceiling. Within seconds Mira was at her side, a beaming smile on her red face as she, too, jumped around in a tight circle.

“So that was it?” the mare asked, her excitement contagious. “The big bad meany ship is a goner?”

The skipping slowed to a halt. “No, not yet.” Sweetie Belle said as she glued herself once more to her computer. “The main cannon is out of order; that’s certain. They won’t get it online anytime soon, either.” She pushed away and beamed at Mira. “I can’t wait to see the footage of that explosion.”

Mira proceeded to make whooshing noises and clamber around the confined space, practically jumping off the walls while Sweetie waved at her to calm down. “Stop that; I need to call Scootaloo. I’m not sure how long it’ll take before the main reactor goes, and that’ll make one heck of a blast.”

The cabin filled with a garbled screech as the unicorn adjusted a few knobs with quick, expert twists. Scootaloo’s distinct voice filled the room, but it wasn’t the elated screams of joy Sweetie was expecting. The mare’s ears perked up and she frowned as her friend’s sobs fizzled out of the speakers.

“Scootaloo? Are you okay?” she asked, almost as if cooing at an injured animal.

Scootaloo sniffled, her hoarse voice responding. “We-we did it. Kami Kaze brought it down. It’s all on fire and there are things coming out.”

Sweetie’s back straightened. “Well, isn’t that good? What’s wrong?”

“Ka-Kami is dead,” Scootaloo barked, her voice breaking mid-word.

“Who? Wait, what happened?” Oh no, not Scootaloo’s friend; she’ll be devastated.

“He... he just flew in, firing and--” She broke off, entering an uncharacteristic silence. For a moment, only the close-bandwidth chatter and screams popped through the line, filling their ears with incomprehensible white noise and babbling.

“There’s more of them coming, Sweetie. I don’t know what to do.”

“More of them coming?” Sweetie Belle typed a quick command on the console and read the data as quickly as she could. “No...”

Mira leaned over to Sweetie’s side, the glee in her expression and voice, replaced by a slight frown and focused eyes. “What is it? What’s going on?”

“That, that signature, it’s the Conformity, and this one, it’s the Adamantium Fury, the prison ship,” she said, pointing at lines of text in turn.

“But... didn’t that mister help us?”

“Yeah.... Scootaloo, get out of there, alright?Just fly back to us for a few minutes.”

Scootaloo breathed into her mic. “Yeah, sure, I guess.”

“Good, see you in a few. We can talk then.” She closed the comm, shifting some knobs as she changed channels.

Mira watched for a few moments, quiet as she contemplated the glowing controls. “Who are you calling? The Princess?”

The glow subsided and Sweetie Belle straightened her back, her chest rising and falling evenly. “No, I’m calling someone who has a lot more explaining to do.” With a shaky forehoof, she tapped a button, compressing it with a soft click.

Nothing happened but a change in the pitch of the static. The white unicorn glared at the screen, her face reddening and her brows furrowing into an angry line.

“—is Imperial Navy ship Conformity. Please state the reason for yo—”

“Give me Captain Darius!” she screamed. Sweetie dragged the microphone down to her mouth.

“Uh, we can’t ju—”


“One moment please.” The line clicked and was then filled with the sounds of a busy airship: hooves tapping on keyboards, the heavy breathing of nervous ponies, the constant hum of cathode ray tubes.

Something clicked and popped, then a deep, exasperated voice said, “This is Captain Darius.”

“Hello, Darius,” Sweetie Belle said, her tone completely neutral. Is it really him? What’s he doing here?

“Miss Belle? I-I was not expecting to talk to you so soon. It’s a pleasure to hear you again, although the circumstances aren’t the best.”

She huffed into the microphone. “What are you doing here, Darius? Are you with the Imperials?”

The line went silent for a few seconds. “You remind me of my daughter, you know that? So smart, such a pretty voice, yet so headstrong.”

Why is he skirting around the question. She glared at the unanswering screen. “Will you answer me, or not?”

He sighed. “All in due time. All in due time. Good bye, Sweetie.”

What, he’s leaving? That double double crossing jerk! She punched her machine, denting the heavy casing.

The line went dead.

Darius clicked the microphone into its slot and let out a small, almost imperceptible sigh. And so I had to lie to her, of all ponies... He glanced at the room around him and the many consoles, all of them operated by a member of his loyal crew. At least, I think they’re loyal. He shook his head. No time to doubt them now; our mission is reaching its end.

Methodically, and without losing his balance on the constantly-shifting floor of the Conformity, Darius made his way back to the glass front of the room, ignoring the quick stares and twisted ears of his crew as he inspected the scene outside.

The battle had stalled, the attention of every ship on the Sol Scorcher just beginning to straighten itself. His eyes quickly jumped onto the rent plates of armour at its fore, the slow moving side-cannons starting to deploy themselves, and the thick plumes of pink-grey fumes spilling out of the main cannon’s mouth. “Do you think it’s over?” he asked, his voice betraying his negative mood.

Preacher sat leaning against the glass, his greying mane smushed against the window. He sighed. “No, the Scorcher still has some fight it in. In fact, that might spur the Imperials into a reckless battle.” Pushing away, the old stallion shook his head remorsefully. “I don’t know what they did, but it was certainly a good kick. Unfortunately, it’s a hornet’s nest down there.”

Darius nodded, blinking as two tiny fighters blurred past the glass, their backwash causing it to vibrate violently. He followed the plane at the rear, a long, cigar shaped thing that should have been retired a decade ago. “But the Rebels still have some fight left, don’t they?”

Preacher sighed again. “If the Imperials had come here without the Scorcher, I would have called it an even fight, a close one at that. The Scorcher gave them an advantage, one that they have used full well up until now. But the damage is already done, and the Rebellion’s chance of winning this is slim, even if that damnable ship were to crash.”

From within a shadowed alcove nearby, Freeze Charge spoke. “I agree. The losses were too great. Still, if they push on, they might make the Imperials think of them as more than just a few brats with cheap old fighters.”

Darius nodded grimly. “And our plan, will it have the desired effect?” It’s getting closer, he noted dully as the Conformity lumbered past the outer layer of the battlefield, bee-lining towards the centre.

Airships fired, filling the sky once more with deadly projectiles as the battle resumed. A new ferocity pushed both sides as the feeling of an imminent climax thickened. The explosive, thundering sound only took a blink to reach them, rocking the Conformity and the larger ship tethered to it. And so it continues. We have to get to work.

“What if the rebels surrendered?” he offered, the edges of his brows twitching as he awaited the obvious answer.

“The Imperials would make demands; the Princess would disappear, as would the bearers of the Elements; some ponies would be arrested; then life would go on, the Imperial hoof as strong as ever,” Preacher replied, his voice a dull monotone filled with a pessimistic despair.

And Sweetie Belle, what would happen to the filly who escaped Tartarus? “I see. And will it work, our plan?” he asked once more.

Freeze Charge answered. “I think it will.”

Preacher nodded. “It would be interesting, to say the least.”

I guess we don’t really have a choice. For Equestria, then! “Helmspony, full speed ahead!”

The tiny tin-can like ship shuddered beneath Bunnyhelm as the popping of artillery guns could be heard through the thick, sound-proof walls. He leaned his head to one side, and grabbed at the straps keeping him in place. Only a few more moments, and it shall be over, he told himself, cringing as his ears popped.

From the seat beside his, Scribeswell spoke. “We’ve reached The Great, sir. We’ll disembark shortly.” The secretary held a thick wad of papers in front of himself, trying to catch the light from the single lamp within the tight cabin of the transport. “We can count ourselves lucky, sir; we got out of the Scorcher with perfect timing.”

Sir, sir... Soon, they will address me as Sire. Bunnyhelm looked across the grey-walled cabin and at his secretary, watching as the pony turned a page over.

His eyes wandered to a single glass of water, the liquid shifting as the ship accelerated. The sounds of the battle became fainter. Yes, he’s right; my timing was impeccable. We hadn't foreseen the rebellion moving this quickly, or this well... It’ll serve to make it believable. One last step, then I can leave this forsaken pit.

A half-wall in front of them split open, and the goggle-clad head of an Imperial pilot poked in. “We’re beginning anchoring maneuvers, sir. Thirty seconds until landing; please hang on.” With a click, the door clasped shut, and the cabin filled with a deeper rumble as the Sparkle Generator kicked on.

The vehicle turned and began moving sideways, the noble pony and his secretary leaning into their seats until a loud ‘clack’ was heard and the ship stopped.

The door opened again, accompanied by some slight hissing as a nearby airlock depressurized. “We’re here, sir. Welcome to Admiral Trixie’s flagship, The Great,” the pilot said, a huge grin plastered on his face as he gave Bunnyhelm a quick salute and retreated.

The seal unhinged itself and dropped down and out of sight, aided by two pairs of thick and burly arms. It turned into a ramp while Scribeswell quickly undid his master’s belt, freeing him to wander out of the cabin.

There, he was greeted by a welcoming sight.

The inside of The Great was familiar to anypony who had ever been within the common airship. Struts and support beams crawled along the outer walls of the vessel, thicker where cannons and gun batteries were placed opposite the reinforced armour. Some fighter planes were hanging onto ramps, poised to take off at a moment’s notice. A long railing extended from one end of the cavernous hangar to the other, hooks and grappling arms prodding out of it and holding onto small ships and cargo.

Bunnyhelm smiled, not at the hangar, but at those there waiting for him.

Two rows of soldiers decorated the ramp leading to the fore, all of them dressed in the sharp red livery of the royal guard with their hooves straight and their backs straighter as they stared ahead, not blinking as they waited upon him. The noble pony hopped out of his transport, knees cracking as they took his weight.

At the end of the row of soldiers, tapping a hoof impatiently, was Trixie. She wore the grey on grey uniform of an Imperial admiral, but with an added purple trim that was adorned with tiny sparkling stars that reflected the artificial light of the hangar. “Trixie has been waiting for you, Lord Bunnyhelm,” she said before giving him the tiniest of bows.

“Ah, hello,” he responded as he began marching towards her. The guards along his sides snapped salutes as he trotted passed them, filling the room with the quick rustling of their garments. “Is everything ready, countess?”

She nodded. “The Great and Powerful Trixie is always ready,” she stated, her hoof tapping the floor indignantly, her true feelings betrayed by the blush creeping along her face.

He smiled. Ah, so the new title is having its effect already? Brilliant, he thought as he stepped by her and to the sliding door beyond. It hissed opened just as the admiral spun around and caught up.

The room beyond was an open-ended corridor that angled upwards and into the ship’s command room, the sounds of tapping and quickly barked commands echoing down the hall and into the receptive ears of the noble pony. The sounds of the end. “Can we prepare to depart immediately?”

“Of course. Trixie had assumed that you would want to remove yourself from here in such a hasty fashion.” She trotted to his side, only half a step behind him as she licked her lips and stared at him, eyes half-lidded. “Trixie always aims to please.”

The fool, anything for a little advancement. I might have to get rid of her as well. “Yes, yes, just run ahead and make sure everything is ready. We should depart within a few minutes.” The control room gasped into silence as he trotted in, the eyes of all sticking to him before shying back to their work.

He marched on, his footing careful and calculated on the ever-moving floor. In the centre of the room was a holo-projector, images of the battle playing across it as tiny replicas of the ships ticked from point to point, mimicking the real things outside. Without willing it, Bunnyhelm’s eyes strayed to the Sol Scorcher, quickly sizing up the still-intact model Something else caught his attention, nagging his trained mind into giving it a modicum of his time. Two airships, both marked as Imperial, were heading towards the Sol Scorcher, breaking through and above the entire formation. Bunnyhelm blinked at them, tracing their trajectory with his mind’s eye.

Nearby, the pony responsible for the image projecting machine sweated profusely beneath his too-tight uniform. “Is something wrong, sir?” he asked.

Bunnyhelm turned towards him, inspecting the room as if he had all the time in the world. They can’t know that I’m nervous. Everything was in order, straight angles marked by the perfect cleanliness that was common in Imperial ships. Yet, there was a distinctly ‘Trixie-like’ vibe about things. The consoles were made of exotic woods whose names could only be pronounced by herbalists. Thick purple carpet covered the steel floor while the forward ports were shaped like stars.

His eyes alighted on a nearby pony working behind an archiving computer. “You, can you tell me who’s in command of those ships?” The noble pony pointed at the tethered vessels.

A few ponies swallowed hard before filling the room with the sound of their hooves tapping on keyboards. “I have it!” one proclaimed. “The ships are the Conformity and the Adamant Fury, both captained by... one Captain Darius.” The tech-pony furrowed his brows at the screen. “The ships are flagged as MIA, sir.”

A slow, cruel smile spread across Bunnyhelm’s face, causing more than one pony to shiver. “Calculate their trajectory.”

More tapping filled the room as a curious Trixie fidgeted near the helm with an expressionless Scribeswell at her side. “If they remain in their current route, their chances of hitting the Sol Scorcher is approximately eighty percent.”

“I see.” Brilliant, Darius. You are a brilliant, brilliant fool. Maybe I underestimated you. “Once they are within a hundred meters, cut out the power to the Scorcher’s main shields.” Bunnyhelm sat, smiling to himself as he watched the figures of ships tick nearer to one another.

Soon, very soon.

Blueblood paced across the floor of the command room, his whiny voice bouncing off the walls. “What do you mean it won’t fire!?” he yelled at the top of his lungs.

The Vice-Admiral cringed for the sixth time, and for the sixth time, he tried to explain. “Sire, the rebels have destroyed our main cannon; we cannot fire it because it’s been blown apart.”

“But how are we going to kill them all!?” he screeched, tossing the cannon’s remote across the well-lit room where it smacked the Vice-Admiral in the face with a sickening thump. “Move us out of here, you dolt! We’re sitting ducks!”

The beaten pony blinked at his Emperor. “Oh, um, yes, sire, that’s an excellent idea.”

Blueblood seethed at him. “Of course it is. You don’t become Emperor with at least a little knowledge of tactics and airships. Now get us up and out of here!”

The Vice-Admiral bowed towards Blueblood with a kindling of admiration in his bright eyes before turning on his heel and spewing orders.

The Emperor rolled his eyes, sighed deeply, and climbed out of his throne, manicured hooves tapping lightly against the carpeted floor as he levitated a glass of wine to his lips. “Fools,” he muttered beneath his breath as he marched to the nearest viewport, eyes giddily scanning the battlefield. Ah, I can watch the rebellion’s last breath. How glorious!

Ships roamed around, blasting at each other as they danced in large circles while bright explosions dotted the sky in what looked to Blueblood like a wonderful parade.

An Imperial ship was heading for his own under his watchful eye. He frowned the Royal Frown at it. It’s coming awfully close, isn’t it? he thought to himself before sighing in relief as the ship named Conformity began to angle upwards. I’ll have to reprimand the captain later; have him punished for idiocy.

The Conformity’s lower hull blew past, struts and ailerons skimming just meters away from the Sol Scorcher’s hull, making the larger ship rumble slightly as the Conformity's engines spun wildly. The larger of the two ship’s shields fizzled lightly at the near contact.

Truly mad, he thought as his eyes were drawn to a loose chain dropping from the back and swinging around towards the Scorcher. He’s so sloppy!

As the Conformity pulled up, a larger, darker ship appeared, a grey-green vessel that was slowly careening downwards, its mass twisting as its propellers spun aimlessly.

It shifted slightly, showing its broadside to the quickly approaching Sol Scorcher.

“No. No, no, no!” Blueblood screamed as the Adamantium Fury, his Adamantium Fury, slid forward effortlessly. “Move this boat! Get us out of here!”

The confused Vice-Admiral turned, blinking at the flustered Blueblood as the monarch waved wildly. “Pardon me, sire?”

“We’re going to die, you incompetent shi--”

A loud boom spread across the ship as it jerked to one side, walls of flame raking around the area where the Adamantium Fury was ramming in, struts and metal bracings crushing into the armour of the larger ship. Everything shifted as the concussive wave traveled through both ships, setting off massive explosions across their bodies as section after section rippled with the blasts.

A pool of yellow liquid formed beneath the Emperor as his legs trembled. Moments after the ship capsized, the royal throne flew into a nearby wall to be crushed, splintering into a million pieces. Everypony in the room followed suit, filling the area with their panicked screams that could hardly be heard over the cacophony that the dying ship made.

The Sol Scorcher bent onto itself where the Adamantium Fury impacted, both ships becoming one as their hulls entwined.

Blueblood lay in crumpled heap on the side wall of his ship, his bloodied head rising as he looked at the mess around him. “It’s not fair!” he screamed at the top of his feeble lungs just as the escalating explosion reached him.

Both fleets reeled.

The Rebel ships scrambled away from the growing ball of flame that was, moments ago, the most powerful vessel in Equestria.

The Imperials split, those still loyal to the Emperor wheeling in large confused circles, calling on every channel for some sort of leadership. Meanwhile, the few focused Rebels fired away, peeling away at Imperial shields and ships. The fighter planes pulled back, siphoning back to their carriers to hide from the newfound bravery of the Rebels. Some Imperials, those who seemed to come out completely unscathed from the battle, pulled up, leaving trails of thick smoke as they snuck behind their allies and spun around, cannons aimed and ready, but not firing.

It was only a minute later that the Sol Scorcher hit the ground, engulfing an small forest in a cascading wall of fire and steel.

Quiet covered the battlefield, only the hum of uncertain fighters and slowing airships filling the skies.

Below, Applejack’s Apple Corp moved in their thick-legged mechanized units, the soldiers within staring in awe and confusion.

Another few minutes passed before the cheering started. Within the Moon, the Rebellion’s flagship, the cheering was loudest.

Seven mares, however, didn’t join in. Instead, their attention focused on the cold logistics of the war: the ponies and vessels lost, the enemy maneuvers, putting together just what had happened over the course of the last hours for the history books.

Ships rallied together and fighter planes looped and flew in wild formations, celebrating the fact that they were alive. Fluttershy’s Empathy Medical airships rolled in and jumped to work, curing both allies and enemies.

Not too far from the battlefield, the Furtif mourned in quiet, slowly coasting towards their accepting allies.

The Conformity stalled above the crashed Scorcher as planes circled around it, probing it with their curious eyes.

Edited by:
-Fred the Saiyan
-Cpl Hooves

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