• Published 18th May 2014
  • 1,390 Views, 29 Comments

Apples, Tanks, N' Badflanks - ultra1437

Celestia and Luna go on an unexpected adventure after a drinking contest gone awry. Let’s follow them, and see what kind of trouble and adventure our drunken princesses can manage to find!

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5 - This Ain't a Training Montage, Folks

A few minutes after Celestia walked off, she ran across a small stream and drank heartily from it. She then filled the two coffee mugs and the carafe with water as she thought, ‘Hmm, maybe there’s something edible upstream. If nothing else, I can always come back.

Nodding to herself, she followed it to a small pond. She found several bushes huddled in the tree cover’s only large gap. As she approached, two squirrels scurried out from underneath the bushes, chattering away. As they ran off, seeming to ignore her presence, Celestia looked the bushes over. ‘Are those?’ The berries appeared to be ripe, and after she tried one, she picked the bushes veritably clean after a few seconds. ‘Huckleberries! My favorite! They may look slightly different, but their flavor is just as delicious as back home. I wonder if there are any raspberry or blackberry bushes around, Luna’s always loved those.

She looked around the clearing’s outskirts, but only found more huckleberries in a dozen more bushes. Gathering her findings, Celestia cleaned the berries in the river and returned to their camp. She stored the berries in a basket before settling down with the largest of the Abrams’ manuals. ‘Alright, let’s see how this tank ticks.


Luna groaned as she sat up. Her stomach rumbled again angrily, before she made her way up and out of the tank. As she stepped onto its top, she looked up at the sky. ‘Hmm, if this world shares the same amount of time per day as ours, it appears I slept for roughly two hours. I wonder if ‘Tia is back yet.’ She looked about the clearing and couldn’t find hide nor hair of her sister. “‘Tia, sister? Are you there?” she called out.

“Over here, Lulu!” Celestia yelled back, shortly before the mare walked around the plane. “I found some huckleberries, and read two of the tank’s manuals with the rest of the time you were asleep.” Luna hopped down as Celestia levitated the berry basket over to her, along with a mug full of water.

As Luna ate her fill, Celestia explained what she’d read. “I have never seen anything quite like it, Luna. Its weapon is at least an order of magnitude more powerful than anything back home!” Celestia turned back to the vehicle, grimacing. “I doubt anything outside an experienced battlemage or ourselves could hope to damage this vehicle, let alone destroy it.”

Luna swallowed what she was chewing and voiced a thought, “I thought we already had established that.” She immediately winced at the tone she took. Celestia looked incredulously at her sister. “I am sorry, I did not mean to say it that way, ‘Tia. I merely meant to state that I had surmised as much before we left to get the plane.”

Celestia nodded, accepting Luna’s apology. “I know you did not mean to, Lulu. I didn’t know you came to the same conclusion earlier.” Celestia looked to the plane. “Though, I did read the plane’s manual. This one is called–” She cut herself off, blinking once. “Right. You suggested this one. You already know what it’s called.”

Luna walked over to her sister and nudged her shoulder. “Yes, I know it is called the A-10 Thunderbolt, and that wasn’t the reason I chose this one. I chose this plane because it was the only one available.” Luna hummed for a second before continuing, “Though, I would have still chosen this one, had I the choice of every other one in that building.”

Celestia laid down, a wing bringing Luna with her. “And I can guess why. It’s the other part, the weapon from before, isn’t it? I read in the manual that it was the only weapon to have a frame built just for it. That interested you, and you had to have it for yourself, didn’t you?” She leveled a knowing smirk at Luna.

Luna blushed and nodded. “I know we’re sisters, but that was just creepy. But yes, you are correct. Though, that was not the only reason. When I saw the other one take off, it didn’t match the other planes’ speeds, so I presume it might have some other strength to keep it flying in combat. It probably has much thicker and tougher armor, much like the Abrams, compared to the other planes.”

“Well, we should at least try it out. If you want to fly it and if I can keep up, I will fly alongside,” Celestia offered, her wing hugging Luna tighter for a second.

“I think I will be fine on my own, ‘Tia. You still have to get used to your tank, as well. But first we should find an area in which to practice. I saw a clearing on the far side of the lake. The only problem I can see is it’s on the camp's far side,” Luna mused. Celestia considered looking the area over, but dismissed the thought when Luna continued, “Though, with two of their weapons stolen, they’ll no doubt tighten security. If either of these vehicles are spotted, they will likely attempt to recover them, or failing that, destroy them.”

“I agree. If you do go out and fly, with or without the plane, you should try to stay low. I will try to get used to driving the tank in the forest.” Celestia withdrew her wing and stood up. “Are you sure you're going to be alright alone?” Luna nodded once as she stood.

Celestia sighed before making her way over to the Abrams. Luna hopped up onto one of the Thunderbolt's wings, trying to figure out a way into the cockpit before an idea struck her. Celestia hopped into the Abrams’ turret, climbed down inside and fired up the engine.


Celestia popped her head back out of the tank, as she remembered to grab the towels off the engine grate. She grabbed the towels and looked over to the plane, noticing Luna standing only on her hind-legs. Her eyes were closed, striking a reared-up, surfing pose on the Thunderbolt's midsection. Storing the towels away, Celestia laughed to herself as she magically grabbed the tank’s controls.

Oh Lulu, never change. Now, let's see if I can learn to drive this thing with magic.’ She faced forward and eased pressure down on the accelerator. The tank lurched forward, nearly throwing her skull into the hatch. ‘Oh horsefeathers! I must’ve used too much pressure. That pedal is really sensitive…’ She eased up and the tank stopped accelerating as fast.

She maneuvered her way out of their little camp, making her way deeper into the forest. As she went deeper into the forest, the trees surrounding her seemed to grow larger and thicker. At some point, it got dark enough that she flipped on the tank’s outside lights just to continue driving. Celestia admired the scenery she drove past. A beautiful waterfall fed into a large pond, with a stream running down, back the way she came.

Alright, let's get some maneuvering training in. What better way than navigating a forest at high-speed?’ She challenged herself and the tank by accelerating as she went deeper. More than once she didn't quite make a turn all the way and the tank gained another gray scratch from a boulder, or she bounced off a multiple-century old tree, taking a small chunk out of its trunk. From her perspective, the ride was relatively smooth, the tank’s well-cared-for suspension smoothing out all the little dips and dives in the terrain.

All of a sudden, Celestia noticed the forest's ambient noise had died away. Fearing something ahead, Celestia brought her vehicle to a stop, listening carefully. ‘What’s going on?’ Her head and ears swivelled around before a dull roar, nearly mimicking her own vehicle’s rumbling sounds off in the distance behind her. ‘Whatever it is, it’s getting closer. I've got to hide. But where can I hide this tank?’ she thought, looking around for large rocks or caves to hide away in. Spotting nothing, she gave up that line of thought, ‘Nothing big enough to hide behind, I can only hope whatever it is passes me by. I should arm the cannon, just in case.

She ducked down into the tank and unlocked the turret. Getting into the gunner's seat, she turned the turret toward where she heard the sound, now easily heard inside the tank itself. ‘I wonder what they might have sent to destroy this tank if sounds that powerful…’ She looks at the cannon’s manual as she opened the ammunition storage box.

Place the shell into the breech, the charge behind it. Forcefully ram the shell and charge into the barrel. Keep hooves clear when breech closes, or hoof injury or loss may occur... Why would anyone want to use this weapon if just arming it could cause the operator any harm?’ Following the instructions, she selected a shell and a charge at random. She looked down at her hoof as she set the shell and charge into the groove. Her hoof was too wide to ram the shell in, so she just telekinetically moved the two pieces into position and the breech closed, along with the ammunition box’s door.

Now that it's armed, I have to be careful. I still have no idea what kind of destruction this weapon is capable of.’ From the bushes right in front of the cannon a vehicle emerged, its weapon trained squarely on her own tank. As it skidded to an abrupt halt, it fired its weapon, missing due to momentum.

What was that? It sounded like thunder…’ Her head popped up out of the tank for a second, noticing the other vehicle with its smoking barrel. ‘It is! They’ve found me!’ She ducked back inside as the other vehicle’s cannon to trained right on her. She quickly got back into the gunner’s seat, and grabbed the manual. The other vehicle fired again, striking her own vehicle. Unfortunately for the other tank, where it struck did nothing more than scratch the paint and ricochet off into a nearby tree, sending it toppling to the ground.

Celestia, meanwhile, was recovering from the ringing in her ears. ‘Alright, look down the sights, match up the target’s size to the rangefinder… skip that at this distance. Track target if moving, verify permission to fire, turn off safety switch, and fire. Seems simple enough, in theory.’ She quickly looked down the sight and aimed at the other tank. A pang of regret filled her as she looked at the vehicle and flipped off her cannon’s safety. ‘All I have to do is hit the trigger. Then it’ll go away. Surely it will.’ She stared at the other vehicle down the sight, it was much smaller than hers, much more smoothly shaped, and its cannon wasn’t as long or as thick. ‘I… I can’t. I can’t hit the trigger. Even with it trying to kill me, I can’t.’ It fired again, but its shell bounced once more, a sharp ringing filled her ears once more. Reflexively, she winced and shifted away from the noise, a hoof bumping right into the trigger.

Thunder sounded, even louder than the other vehicle’s cannon, and it seemed to come from everywhere to Celestia. She fell on her back in surprise as her tank lurched back. Quickly returning to her hooves, she peeked out the commander’s hatch to see what had happened. The other vehicle was now in two major pieces, the turret was sitting on its top next to the hull, and both were on fire, with a clean semicircle punched into both parts, where the turret and hull would’ve met as one.

Celestia’s mouth dropped open in shock at the sight. ‘I… I did that, didn’t I? I just killed who or whatever was in that machine.’ Before she could break down crying, a clank sounded inside the Abrams, next to Celestia. Snapping back into focus, she dropped back inside the tank. A brass cylinder lay on the floor behind the breech. ‘Must be what wasn’t used when the cannon fired.’ Morosely, she lifted the still-smoking piece of brass and set it off to the side, next to the gunner’s seat. ‘It… it has been centuries since I’ve taken a life, even accidentally.’ She flopped down in the chair, staring at the piece of brass, mentally replaying the past minute in her head. As she caught up to the present her head bowed low. “I-I’m so sorry. I never meant to kill anyone,” she managed to choke out, before laying down on the floor and weeping.

A few minutes later, a sound broke Celestia from her grief. A plane was nearby and getting closer, if the sound it let off was any indication. ‘It must be looking for the ponies I killed. I probably should get out of here before more of them arrive.’ Forcing herself to calm down, she sat up and climbed back into the commander’s seat. She turned the turret forward again and locked it before driving off, back to their campsite.


As Celestia had driven off deep into the forest, Luna got some training in of her own. ‘I know I can fly well enough on my own, but this plane should let me protect ‘Tia better. We both know that she’s gotten much weaker since I was banished. If I am to protect her, I must master this plane.’ A sudden image floated to the top in her mind. Flying along, striking a pose high in the sky as Celestia, and oddly enough Twilight, cheered her on. Luna giggled for a few seconds at that thought. “Perhaps, one day,” she spoke aloud to herself.

Falling back down on all hooves, she made her way forward to the Thunderbolt’s cockpit and opened the canopy. She surveyed all the switches, dials, and gauges that were arrayed in front of the pilot’s seat, and was completely overwhelmed. She blankly stared at them for a minute before her mind reset itself and she grabbed the Thunderbolt’s manual.

She stepped down into the pilot’s seat before trying to memorize its controls. ‘Alright, throttle off to the left, near the altimeter.’ She absentmindedly pointed to the throttle lever, memorizing its location. ‘Hoof-pedals control yaw. Stick in the middle controls the flaps on the wings. Forward on stick is down, back is up.’ She bumped the stick a few times, testing its range of motion. ‘Ground-brakes on the right, next to the landing gear. Weapon safety switch on the left, above the throttle. It unlocks the trigger and button on the stick. The trigger fires the ‘Avenger’, while the button fires a wing-mounted weapon.’ She looked back to the wings on each side behind her, noticing nothing on them that could be a weapon. ‘Guess I will not be using that one then.

Satisfied with the controls, she nods to herself once. Eager to fly, she combs the manual to find the ignition. “Aha! There it is!” She spots a lone button off to the right and it’s quickly pushed. There’s suddenly a grating sound and the engines behind her started spinning. She pushes the throttle forward slightly and the grating sound gets slightly louder and higher-pitched. As they spin faster, the grating sound gave way to a high-pitched whine.

Ah, that may be an issue,’ she thought, looking ahead. There happened to be only a few dozen feet between the Thunderbolt and the tree line. Setting the brakes, she hopped out of the plane and surveyed the tree line. ‘I might be able to move some of these trees to let me get enough distance…’ As she looked around at the nearby boulders, another idea strikes. ‘Or, I could just build a ramp!

Putting her haphazard plan into motion, Luna gathers a dozen huge boulders and a veritable mountain of dirt. “A few boulders here and there for stability–” several crashes sound nearby “–and one there too.” The largest boulder rests at her hooves. “Alright, now with the foundation laid, I need to make it tall and smooth.” Luna was like a well-oiled machine, excavating large mounds, dumping them over the boulders with little care. As literal tons of dirt were moved to make the ramp, she looked back over to the Thunderbolt. She quickly made her way back to it and hopped back into the pilot’s seat.

After ten minutes, the surrounding area looked more like a quarry than she’d like, but the ramp was finished. ‘Let us see if this works. Here goes everything!’ She hit the throttle, pushing it to full power and the whining behind her grows to near unbearable levels. Shutting the canopy, she also released the brakes. The Thunderbolt trundled forward, quickly gaining momentum. It starts up the ramp and Luna feared the worst. She quickly remembered a statement from the manual, ‘When the plane reaches sufficient velocity, begin pulling back on the flight stick to ease it into the sky.

The Thunderbolt cruised right off the ramp’s end, and its nose dipped down toward the trees. “Up. Up, Tartarus-spawn, UP!” Luna roared, pulling back on the stick as hard as she could without fearing breaking it. The plane’s fall is quickly arrested and it barely clears the tree line, clipping the first few trees’ tops as it climbed. She leveled off after a few more seconds of climbing and pulled back on the throttle to the position marked ‘idle.’ As she flew along, she checked her gauges and makes sure that nothing would fail on her in the immediate future.

Luna retracted the landing gear and smirked. ‘Alright, let us put this Thunderbolt through its paces. First up, how fast will this plane go?’ She punched the throttle, and the Thunderbolt quickly accelerated. Trees speed past underneath her faster and faster. Banking left, Luna made a wide u-turn to keep up her speed. ‘Wow, it is much faster than I had thought. Most pegasi would not even be able to keep up! Now, let us see how agile it is…’ She backed off the throttle and as it slowed down, she pulled back on the stick, grabbing some sky. Luna maneuvered the plane into short, shallow turns followed by loops and rolls. ‘Definitely not as responsive as I would like, but not bad. Now for the final test, its weapon.’ She looks about the ground, trying to find something to use as a target.

A few minutes go by as she looks, and she spotted what looks like landfill a little distance away, but for smaller carts. At a glance, they looked rusted and beaten up, with some in even in pieces. ‘Alright, I have my target, now I have to see how much damage this weapon can cause…’ Banking again, she dove toward the target and flipped off the safety switch. “Oh!” she cried out as a number appeared in her vision on a corner of a screen between her and the canopy. Directly in the screen’s center, a white circle and a ‘w’ filled in as well, and the number connects to the circle.

She kept an eye on the number, and it keeps ticking down rapidly. ‘5000? 4850? 4600 what?’ As it ticks down to 3000, she heard a click, the circle turned yellow, and an indicator ‘In Range’ appeared underneath the number. Another number, 1600, and the words ‘Ammunition Count’ displayed in the opposite corner. ‘Oh! It is a rangefinder, that is most helpful!’ She presses down on the trigger slightly, and the whole plane begins to vibrate slightly. She presses it down completely and the whole plane begins to vibrate harder, and stops accelerating. A sound, not unlike a dragon roaring loudly filled the cockpit, overpowering the whining behind her, and Luna winced. From the rumbling underneath her, the plane’s weapon fired, spitting what looks like white hot metal by the hundreds at the big rusty box she’d chosen.

After a second, she released the trigger and the rumbling immediately stopped. ‘Wow, that was intense! I have never seen a weapon that could do something like that.’ She pulled up and banked away from where she'd just fired. The cart, and everything near it, were riddled with little holes, and resembled something that had been speared every lance in the entire Royal Guard's armory at once.

With this Thunderbolt, ‘Tia is as good as safe.’ She looked over the screen, as soon as she’d pulled back into the sky, the circle went back to white, and the ‘w’ was trying to catch up to the circle. ‘In Range’ and the number with it had disappeared, but the 1600 below it was now at 1296. “I expended that much ammunition in two seconds‽” ‘Maybe I thought too soon. I should see if I can enchant it to replenish its ammunition magically.

Luna soared back toward the campsite, and realized her next problem. ‘Alright, how do I land in the campsite?’ A column of smoke in the distance interrupted her thought. ‘’Tia went off in that direction, I hope she is alright…’ She banked and passed over the column upside-down. She looked into the forest, and saw what looked like a tank in two pieces aflame for a split second. ‘That vehicle did not belong to ‘Tia, that is a big relief.’ She rolled back upright and made her way back to the camp. She started circling the clearing, looking for a flat enough strip of land to set the Thunderbolt down on. The clearing they were in looked long enough to land in, but there were several large boulders left over sitting in the way.

“Alright, let us see if I can fly and use magic at the same time,” Luna spoke to herself. Her horn lit up and she held her posture, so the Thunderbolt would circle the area. After a few tries, she managed to knock one of the two boulders out of the way, and the second followed suit shortly after. A clear path made, she quickly lined up for an approach. Luna lowered the landing gear and eased back on the throttle. The plane slowly started to lose speed and altitude. As she cleared the last of the trees, a vehicle came out into the clearing, right in her path!

Horsefeathers!’ She quickly punched the throttle and the speed she’d lost was quickly made up, and she regained altitude, circling around for another try. An alabaster head with pastel hair popped up out of the vehicle's top as she passed overhead. ‘It is ‘Tia! She is alright!’ Luna’s horn lit up, and her magic probed at Celestia for a second. Celestia’s horn lit and a mental link was established.

Luna, is that you?” Celestia asked quickly, her voice pained.

Yes it is, 'Tia. I am glad to see you are safe,” Luna’s mental ‘voice’ was overjoyed to hear her sister again.

I am… glad to be safe too, but is there something you need?” Celestia sounded odd, almost pained.

Yes I do, sister. I was landing the Thunderbolt as you came into the clearing. You are kind of sitting right in the way,” Luna stated flatly.

Oh! I'm sorry Lulu, where can I go to be out of your way?” Celestia sounded embarrassed as she asked the question.

You see the two large boulders? If you can go over to their far side, you will be out of the way.” Luna watched her sister’s head turn about looking for the boulders.

Alright, I’ll head over there, see you when you land, Lulu.” Celestia’s tank quickly moved out of her way, toward the boulders.

See you in a minute, ‘Tia,” Luna replied before letting her spell fade.

Luna made her way back and started a second approach, with no other vehicles in the way, she landed easily. The dirt didn’t give much in the way of traction, so when the Thunderbolt’s tires touched down, they dug small furrows in it. She cut the engines and hit both the air and ground brakes to help slow it down.

Celestia noticed Luna’s plane wasn't slowing down fast enough as it approached the tree line. She jumped out of her tank and her horn lit up as she braced herself. Using her magic, she grabbed onto Luna’s Thunderbolt and pulled as it screamed past her. The 15 ton plane quickly slowed down and came to a stop as its momentum bled off into Celestia’s magic. Celestia, from the force of stopping the plane with her telekinesis, had been pulled in the Thunderbolt’s direction a dozen feet, but the plane was still in one piece. Its nose was just touching a tree, and Luna shakily popped open the canopy, hopped out and ran over to Celestia.

“‘Tia! Are you alright?” Luna asked, looking over her sister's form. Celestia sat down, hooves shaking.

“I’m fine, Lulu. I just need a minute to calm down,” Celestia replied, laying down. Luna followed, laying next to her. “Though, I wouldn’t turn down some water.” Luna nodded and stood back up. “There should be some in the Abrams.”

As Luna retrieved a mug of water for her sister, Celestia’s thoughts drifted back to the other vehicle, and its occupants, that she’d killed. As tears welled in her eyes, she shook her head fitfully. ‘No, I can’t break down now. I must be strong for Luna. I can cry all I need to when we get back to Equestria.

Celestia looked up in time to see her sister return, but not with water. A pair of mugs and an empty carafe were floating in Luna’s magic. Luna looked cautiously to her older sister. “‘Tia, what happened? I found all three of these broken inside the Abrams?”

“I’m sorry, Lulu. I forgot that they were in it when I was practicing. The Abrams and I must’ve bounced off of a boulder hard enough for them to shatter.” Celestia looked down dejectedly, forcing herself not to meet her sister’s gaze as she not-quite lied. Truthfully, a rock did probably cause them to break, but she didn’t want to explain to Luna that she’d been attacked.

“Celestia, sister.” Luna laid down next to Celestia, draping a wing over her. “I saw another vehicle. I spotted some smoke from above the trees and investigated, fearing it was you who was in trouble.” Luna nuzzled her sister’s face as her sister’s tears began to fall. “Tell me, ‘Tia. Was that you that caused such damage?”

Celestia nodded once, still refusing to meet Luna’s eyes. “It was. It came out of nowhere, and attacked me first. While I did hear it before I was attacked, it struck just as I finished arming the cannon.”

Luna nuzzled her again and drew her wing tighter, determined to be strong for her sister. “Go on, ‘Tia. I know there’s more.”

Celestia relished in Luna’s presence for a minute before continuing, “There is. I hopped up to look out and find what had hit it. It aimed its cannon at me, Luna. Not at the vehicle. Me.” A solitary tear fell down her cheek. “After I noticed it, I dropped back into the Abrams before it could shoot again. Finally, I followed the manual to aim and prepare to fire. It shot at the tank a second time, interrupting me in the middle of that.”

Luna was at a loss. ‘If it attacked her, why is she so pained about defending herself… I wish there was more I could do to help soothe her pain.

“As I stared down the cannon’s sight, I froze up. All I needed to do was to hit the trigger, and the attacker would go away. It fired a third time and I jumped. I bumped the trigger and the cannon fired. If I can be brutally honest here, the Abrams’ cannon scares me. From inside it sounded like a dozen thunderbolts striking the same place at once.” Luna imagined such a sound as Celestia took a minute to calm down. “Just the one shot caused what you saw. I… It has been centuries since I had to defend myself like that, that I found myself in a truly life or death situation. Centuries since… I’ve taken a life.” Celestia looked away painfully.

Suddenly, it all made sense to Luna. Celestia had gone so long without any kind of major conflict, that she’d lost her edge. ‘Even after Nightmare possessed me and we were then imprisoned in the moon, we kept training, for what little good it did. ‘Tia didn't, and she fared far worse in the end…

“Hush, sister. Even though you do not think so, you did the right thing.” With a hoof, she turned Celestia's head to look her in the eyes. “If it was not out to kill you, would you have done the same thing and, even inadvertently, destroyed it utterly?” Celestia shook her head slightly. “There, see? You're not as bad as you think you are.” Luna's tone turned firm, “You not becoming a monster, Celestia. If anything, it was the monster, willing to attack and kill you for no apparent reason other than theft.”

Her eyes still shimmering with unspent tears, Celestia perked up a bit. “Thank you Lulu. It feels good to hear you say that, even if I don't fully believe it myself.”

“Anytime, sister. If I can help you feel better, I will.” Luna was the one nuzzled this time. “Come, after such an ordeal, you should rest.” Celestia nodded and stood. Luna rose and followed her to the Abrams. “Rest, sister. I shall keep watch over you.”

Sullenly, Celestia replied, “Alright Lulu. Don't stay up too long though. We need to stay somewhat together.” She climbed up and into the Abrams, settling down on the floor.

“I do not plan on staying up much longer. It looks to be about time for the rotation. I shall try a few things to find our home, then I will join you,” Luna explained, looking down into the tank at her sister. As she pulled her head away, she noticed the brass canister resting off to the side. ‘She must have kept it as a reminder. When this is all over, I will need to speak with her again about it. I fear that it may not be the only reminder she'll have by the time we return.

Luna quietly left her sister to rest. Making her way off the Abrams, she looked up into the clear sky. ‘Let us see if I can see any of my constellations tonight, maybe we weren’t moved too far across the universe.’ Her horn lit up and projected herself to the moon, looking away from the planet to find her constellations. ‘I think I see one, but from this perspective it is too distorted to be sure.’ She spent the next ten minutes looking for others, with no luck. Tiredly, she returned back to her body and climbed into the Abrams, settling down next to Celestia. Sleep came to her easily, despite the approaching night.

Author's Note:

This one took the longest to write, truthfully. It sat around for a month and a half, closer to two months, with just the first scene written. In a week, I’d tried a few different paths here, before finally settling on this one. I must’ve put an extra six thousand words into those paths collectively before I’d realized how each was going to turn out, and it wasn’t the way I wanted.

Also, the Abrams and Thunderbolt controls and their positions outlined in this story probably aren’t even close to correct, but they’re based on my knowledge pulled from other vehicles, games, and a little creative imagination.