• 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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3 - Twilight Isn't the Only One Who Reads

A few minutes later, Luna groaned and stirred. “Did somepony catch the number of that train? I feel like I was just hit by one. Are you alright, sister?” She ducked down into the cart and spotted Celestia knocked out against the idling cart’s controls. Luna quickly levitated Celestia away from the controls and set her outside, to rest on a large, flat rock nearby. On her way back to the vehicle she spotted her tiara, only slightly crushed under one of the trees. ‘I must have lost it when we hit the trees.’ She took the rest of both Celestia’s and her own regalia off and stowed them inside the top half of the cart.

‘Tia, I hope you’re okay.’ She made Celestia comfortable before exploring the vehicle’s interior thoroughly. In their haste to escape, their coffee mugs, the carafe, and the coffee within all three had wound up on the floor. She grabbed the mugs and carafe and magically repaired them, setting them next to the coffeemaker. Affixing a glare at the large puddles of brown liquid on the floor she thought, ‘What a waste of good coffee.’ She looked about the vehicle, found a few rags stowed away near Celestia’s seat, and cleaned up the spilled coffee with them as best she could. After cleaning the mess, she found a nearby stream and wrung out the towels. Afterward, she set the wet towels on the hot grate on the vehicle’s rear.

The large channel was actually the barrel of some kind of advanced cannon that was loaded from the inside. She supposed the cannonballs that the cannon required were stored in the top half’s rear, in the protected box. When she peered inside, they didn’t look like any cannonballs she’d ever seen, but wasn’t about to test them out with Celestia still unconscious. She noticed some kind of writing all over the vehicle, but it wasn’t in a language she could understand, further cementing the fact they were a long way from home. She tried a translation spell on a few of them, but they didn’t translate into anything useful, mostly providing what appeared to be shorthand notation of a control, switch, or lever. She checked on Celestia again, just to see if she’d regained consciousness.

Luna then checked all the cubby holes and storage racks nearby, and found a manual. Magically translating its cover page showed that it was for the vehicle’s cannon and ammunition near the other seat in the top half. In the driver’s area, next to where Celestia had lain, she found several books, including a manual on how to drive the vehicle and maintain its associated parts. She checked on Celestia one last time, before she studied the diagrams for a few minutes before sitting down where Celestia had, and turned its engine off. She took the rest of the books with her to look over later.

Next to where she had been sitting the whole ride out to the clearing, she found another, larger manual. Translating its cover page bore the vehicle’s full name: M1A1 ‘Abrams’ Main Battle Tank. Smirking, she cast another translation spell over the vehicle, and opened the book up. She matched the notation she found on the vehicle to the charts in the book, taking note of all the little safeties and amenities the vehicle had inside it.

After noting what everything did and where it was, she explored the outside, memorizing where all the little gizmos and gadgets were located, and assessed the vehicle for any damage. As best she could tell, it had nothing worse than scratched paint. While waiting for Celestia to wake up, Luna headed back down the path they’d created and fixed up what Celestia had run over. Many a bush and sapling had to be replanted.

Afterward, she settled down next to Celestia and looked over the other books. Which, to Luna’s surprise, were for the boxes in the other building. ‘Well, there is nothing else to read around here. I might as well.’ She looked at the box on each cover before grabbing the first one. ‘Ammunition, Cannons, and You, An Introduction. Well, that sounds dry, if informative. Let us see…’ A few minutes of perusing the book’s pages brought more questions than answers. ‘Why is the word heat capitalized like that?’ Luna seethed at the manual’s callousness. ‘That is no way to talk about the estrus cycle of a mare!’ She flipped the page and her disgust died away. ‘Oh. It is an acronym. High Explosive… Anti-Tank. There are other acronyms here too. APFSDS-T?’ Luna’s face took on a queer expression, as confused as she was. ‘Armor-Piercing Fin-Stabilized Discarding-Sabot… Tracer? What in tartarus does all that mean? I understand the armor-piercing part and the tracer part, but what is a sabot, and why is it discarded?’ Luna put a hoof to her temple as she groaned aloud. ‘This will be a difficult read. I can just tell…’ she thought as she settled in for the long haul.

An hour later, Celestia groaned as a crack resounded from the tank. Luna, having heard Celestia, popped her head up to check on her sister. Unaware of Luna, Celestia felt her head with a hoof before she sat upright suddenly. Luna rushed over. “Sister, you hit your head when we hit those trees. Be careful and take it easy.”

Celestia groaned again before motioning for Luna to help her up. “Let’s get me to the cart, its heat will likely soothe the headache I’ve got.” Luna helped support some of Celestia's weight as they made their way over to the vehicle. Celestia laid down, resting her head against its rear, the soothing heat doing wonders for abating her headache.

“Sister?” Luna asked. Celestia looked up at her sister. “While you were unconscious, I took the liberty to inspect the vehicle, and found several manuals. One for the weapon, which is actually a really-advanced cannon, one on how to drive the vehicle, and the last gave me its name. It is called the M1A1 ‘Abrams’ Main Battle Tank. I would think the word Abrams is just its nickname. According to one of the manuals, it is one of the most advanced pieces of technology this world has to offer. There was a tracking device on it, so if one is lost or stolen, it can be recovered. I have already deactivated it.”

Celestia shot a disbelieving look. Ears pinning back, Luna continued, “Alright, I crushed it. I can show you the controls and such when you feel up to it.” Luna looked thoughtful for a moment. “I also thought that if we managed to find a way to return to Equestria soon, we should return it if we can. It must have been quite expensive to construct, and would probably be missed.”

Celestia hummed, relieved. “That sounds like a good idea, Lulu. And thank you for finding all this for the vehicle. I’m sure this will be helpful, if for no other reason than keeping it in good shape to return later.”

Luna’s face lit up in a wide smile. “Thank you, ‘Tia. It means a lot to hear that from you.” Celestia smiled back, just as widely. “I did find several other manuals for the winged boxes. They call them airplanes.” Celestia looked surprised at her sister’s continuation.

“Oh? What did you find out about them?”

“I found one that I would like to borrow for myself, if you do not mind.” She levitated over a manual to Celestia, the picture on the front matching the plane suspended in the air from the previous night.

Shooting a remorseful look at her sister, Celestia spoke, “I don’t feel right about taking a second vehicle. We really shouldn’t have even taken this first one.” Celestia looked down regretfully, her ears folding back against her skull.

Luna nuzzled under her sister’s chin. “I know that we should not have taken the… tank, but what is done is done. We know it was an accident because we got spooked, but I feel like we should have a second vehicle, if for no other reason than to keep from being one target if we are caught unaware by a threat. They do have something called ‘High Explosive Anti-Tank’ ammunition for their cannons. The book made it sound like it could defeat any armor, even the armor on this tank.” Luna pulled back and softly spoke again, “I just want us to have the best chance of getting home alive, ‘Tia.”

“Are you sure, Luna? I would imagine after this one’s theft they would tighten up security, especially over their weapons and vehicles in general. We may not be able to get it and leave without a fight.”

“I know sister. I do not like the idea of stealing another vehicle any more than you do, either. Given the circumstances, we do not have much choice. While I would normally propose that we go after it tonight, under the guise of an invisibility spell... that might be a bad idea,” Luna responded. Celestia, her headache all but gone, stood up and shook the twigs and leaves from her coat. Luna helped her with any stubborn twigs and leaves as she continued, “This tank has something akin to night-vision. Apparently anypony inside this tank can see outside at night nearly as well as during the daytime, at short to medium distances.” Luna turned her head away. Celestia noted the look in Luna’s eyes. It was one she hadn’t seen since her return, fear. Luna was scared of something, and didn’t want to worry her. Still turned away, Luna managed to squeak out, “That said, I may have a plan to acquire it.”

“What exactly are you proposing, sister, that required me to know that it can see in the dar…” Celestia’s mind supplied her with exactly the memory Luna didn’t want to explain.

Before Celestia banished Nightmare Moon, one of their confrontations was in a near pitch-black underground dungeon in the Everfree Castle. Nightmare had no problems seeing in the darkness, but Celestia was nearly blind their whole fight, and had to rely on her other senses to detect Nightmare. If Celestia hadn’t brought part of the ceiling down in the dungeon accidentally, she would have lost the fight, and her life shortly after. After the collapse, Celestia had turned the tides and forced Nightmare to retreat, once she could see where her attacker came from.

Celestia returned from her flashback and shuddered violently. “Oh. Now I see. We might want to acquire that during the day, then.” Luna winced before nodding, tears forming in the corners of her eyes.

“I may never say it enough, ‘Tia, but I truly am sorry for what I did.” Celestia walked over to Luna and pulled her into a rib-crushing hug.

“Hush, Lulu. We’ve been over this. I know you're sorry, and I’ve forgiven you. You need to stop beating yourself up over it. I want you to know this, Luna, look at me.” They leaned back and Celestia stared into her sister's eyes. “If you ever feel anything like you did back then again, I want you to come to me. We will deal with it together, sister. I love you too much to lose you like that again.” She tightened her grip on Luna, and both sisters wept softly.

Author's Note:

Dat ending. Seriously. I still tear up reading it.