• Published 19th May 2013
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Pony Und Panzer! - Diceman



Cutie Mark Crusaders pilot Silly weapons of war.

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Chapter III: Metal Gears, Solid Chickens

Chapter III:Metal Gears, Solid Chickens

Celestia looked at the orange feather she had picked up from the hall, breathing deeply as she set it on the statue pedestal. "Any suggestions on how to deal with our little spies?" Celestia asked Luna, a somber look on her face.

"Dear sister, we may as well tell them and only them what is to come. We cannot simply just throw them in the dungeon for curiosity."

"I know that. I wouldn't even throw an adult in the dungeons for such a thing. A secret the steel titans may be, but not worth destroying a life over. I guess I can leave how to handle them up to you then?"

"Yes, I will still berate them but it wasn't like the whole of Equestria wouldn't hear about it soon anyways. Between your talking in your sleep and our clumsy mail service no-"

"Derpy?" Celestia asked.

"Derpy." Luna replied.

Luna thought for a moment to get back to where she was before being cut off by her sister. "It's a miracle any secret is held within these walls for long."

"Agreed. I leave the curious fillies up to you." Celestia began to walk away when she stopped and looked back at Luna with a pale face. "Speaking of which, what do I say when I'm asleep?"

Luna giggled to herself. "Oh, not much. Only about how amazing rolling around in cake feels."

Celestia faked a grin. "Ummm...yeah, remind me later to get my room sound proofed." Celestia walked off, muttering under her breath about how many other secrets she could of accidentally given away in her sleep.

Luna looked to the hallway and gave a deep sigh. "At least I have an excuse now to ask Scootaloo about her problem last night."

***

Scootaloo and Apple Bloom sneaked down the hall as fast as they could, Scootaloo stopping every so often to distract a patrolling guard with a dirt clod or two that she picked out of the local potted plants.

"Scoots" Apple bloom whispered. "Are you sure you were not a secret agent or somethin in a past life? You seem really good at this."

Scootaloo put her hoof over Apple Blooms mouth just as a guard walked by the statue they were hiding behind. "Follow me and keep quiet, we're almost back to the pool." Scootaloo ducked low to the floor and crawled along, Apple Bloom close behind.

"Yeah, I guess you can say I have a knack for espionage. I might even get a cutie mark for it." Scootaloo whispered as she rounded the last corner back to the pool.

"You know how awesome that would be!" Apple Bloom replied, barely keeping her voice down. "Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon would never make fun of ya ever again. You could even have a spy name like...err" Apple Bloom tapped her head as she thought.

"Like liquid pony or revolver tiger." Scootaloo asked with sly grin on her face.

"I was thinkin more on the lines of solid chicken but those work too I guess."

Scootaloo shot Apple Bloom a mean scowl. "Still using that joke huh?"

Apple Bloom giggled. "Old jokes die hard, I guess."

The two finally made it back into the pool where they watched for a few amusing moments as Sweetie Belle yelled 'marco' with her eyes shut.

"Polo!" Both Apple Bloom and Scootaloo yelled back at the same time. Sweetie Belle turned her head, opened her eyes and pointed.

"Fish out of water!" Sweetie Belle yelled, although the others didn't seem to care, not a one noticing either pony being remotely wet. Sweetie Belle swam up to the edge of the pool and whispered as she held onto the side. "So, what did you guys find out? Celestia's pajama colors? Luna's Favorite video game? Some evil secret pertaining to Prince Blue Blood's dentist?"

Scootaloo and Apple Bloom shook there heads. "Worse, get out of the pool, we will talk about it over there by the food. I'm famished."

"Famished?" Apple Bloom asked.

"Another word for hungry." Sweetie Belle answered.

Scootaloo and Apple Bloom walked along the side of the pool over to the table full of fruit. Sweetie Belle following them in the pool.

"So, This may seem like a weird observation but your ribbon seems to be torn on the one side." Sweetie Belle pointed to Apple Blooms pink ribbon. Apple Bloom pulled it down and looked at it for a moment, indeed it was missing some fabric.

*Gasp*

Scootaloo looked at her small wings and noticed that the feathers were slightly uneven. "I'm missing a feather!"

Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom looked at each other for a moment.

"Scoots, how do ya know? I mean, I can't tell the difference." Sweetie Belle said as she turned her head sideways to see what Scootaloo was talking about.

"Of course you wouldn't notice but, I preen these babies every morning. You know like every proper Pegasus should." Scootaloo turned her head and ruffled around in her other wing, pulling out a single feather in an attempt to balance herself.

"This isn't good Sweetie, If Luna finds out we were spyin on her we might never be invited to anything ever again." Apple Bloom fondled her torn mane ribbon. "Maybe even thrown in the dungeon."

"I don't think they do that anymore, at least not for petty crimes or to fillies. I think we are too young for that." Sweetie Belle said as she pulled herself out of the pool.

"No, but she could just tell Cheerilee. She could give us detention forever." Apple Bloom added.

"No use worrying about it till it happens. I'll tell you what we found out over some water melon." Scootaloo pointed over to the massive fruit buffet on the table not to far from where they were standing, her stomach growling all the while. The group walked over to the table, Scootaloo picking up a plate and putting some water melon and grapes on her plate. Sweetie Belle getting herself some kiwi & limes and Apple bloom predictably getting herself Apples.

"So, first things first. Queen Walarah or whatnot has offered Celestia some kinda non- lethal alternative to settle our kingdoms differences." Scootaloo took a titanic bite out of her water melon, waving at Apple Bloom to continue the story.

"Yeah, she said they were gonna use some kinda abandoned metal things....steel titans I think she called em." Apple Bloom funneled a few grapes from Scootaloo's plate into her mouth greedily, forgoing her own apples in favor of the lighter snack.

"I never heard of those. Did we go over it during history lessons? Should we maybe ask peppermint about them?" Sweetie Belle took a bite out of her kiwi while looking over in Peppermint Twists direction.

"I don't think she's ever heard of it. I don't think anypony outside of Celestia or Luna ever have." Scootaloo set aside her water melon and grabbed herself a banana.

"Why do you say that? Peppermint is almost as big an...of what did Rainbow Dash call it; an egghead, as Twilight."

Apple Bloom finished the last of Scootaloo's grapes and set her plate aside, the apples on it still uneaten. "It's one of those state secret ma-jiggers I think. No pony but the most elite would even know of em."

Scootaloo pointed over to the doorway that they came out of just recently. Princess Luna walked though it quickly followed by two royal guards. Both guards stopped on either side of the door and Luna turned around to speak with them. After a brief exchange Luna nodded and flew over the pool, landing near the fruit table.

"Act cool, act natural, don't make eye contact." Sweetie Belle whispered as she took another bite of her kiwi.

"I take it you three like the fruit bar I set up for everypony, yes?" Luna asked as she walked around lifting a few choice fruits from the table with her magic onto her own plate.

"Y-yes Luna." The crusaders replied together, anxiously.

Luna walked up next to Apple Bloom and sat down, Slowly nibbling on some strawberries from her plate. "So, I found this little piece of torn pink garment in the hall. Do any of you know who it belongs to?"

Apple Bloom nervously tilted her head so the torn part of her bow was partially hidden by her mane.

"Ummm." Scootaloo could feel Luna's piercing glare. Deep inside she knew the futility of trying to lie to her. Even if she could, the guilt of doing it after Luna had helped her with her nightmares on more than one occasion would eat her up inside.

This fact didn't seem to escape Apple Bloom either. Luna was thousands of years old, if she couldn't even fool her older sister, what chance would she have against a much wiser pony. She needed to come clean. "It's part of my bow, Luna." Apple Bloom angled her head to show the spot where part of the pink ribbon had ripped.

"I see, and Scootaloo has something to confess to me as well?"

Scootaloo's heart skipped a beat but, oddly enough Luna didn't seem anywhere near as angry as Scootaloo was expecting. Either Luna is very good controlling her anger, or was very good at faking it. Either way, lying wasn't going to get her out of this mess. "Yeah, I do."

"Don't be hard on just them Princess. I helped cover for them when they went off on their own. I should be punished too. The CMC works together and falls together." Sweetie Belle stood up proudly but quickly sat back down. "But if you would be so nice I would like to finish my meal before you banish us or something." Sweetie Belle gulped down another kiwi. "You know, growing filly and all."

Luna cracked a smile. "I was never angry at you. Curious and maybe a little disappointed but never angry. Please finish your meal, I will talk to you all privately later." Luna's eyes fell upon Scootaloo. "Except you, Scootaloo. I want to have words with you over there if you would be so kind." Luna nodded to the far side of the pool.

Scootaloo nodded back and set her plate on the table and walked along side Luna.

"Can I ask what this is about. You already know me and Apple Bloom were spying on you." Scootaloo said with some concern in her voice.

"Wait until we are out of earshot of the others. I know of the two well off fillies you brought with you. They are known bullies, even here in Canterlot." Luna stopped by the far end of the pool, Scootaloo standing next to her with their backs turned to the rest of the ponies.

"This isn't about the spying. To be frank that information would have gotten out of the castle eventually anyhow. Even if we didn't say anything surely Walarah would have announced to her news network about the steel titans they found. Names aside it doesn't really mean anything till you see them. No, this is more akin to what you dreamed about last night."

Scootaloo scratched the back of her head. "Oh, yeah. That."

"When I first came into your dream I noticed you were staring at the moon. Do you do that often?"

"Well, yeah. At least since you helped me with my nightmare problem. I do it every so often as a kind of respect thing. I mean you put out that night sky every evening and barely anypony is up to appreciate it." Scootaloo didn't know what else to say. She did occasionally like the night sky but couldn't see the relevance between it and her nightmare.

"I just wanted to confirm that the moon itself didn't trigger the nightmare, every so often I get ponies that are actually afraid of the moon and it triggers nightmares sub-consciously." Luna turned away, Scootaloo catching a brief glimpse of her blushing. "I also thank you for taking the time to appreciate my night, it means a lot to me." Luna turned back to Scootaloo; trace amounts of red still in her face.

"I was wondering what that creature was that attacked you. The dream ended before I could get a close look at it."

Scootaloo put her hoof on her chin, trying hard to remember the details. It had...big wings, talons or claws of some kind. Didn't get a very good look at what kind of feathers it had but the sound reminded me of eagle's flapping their wings. It's also had a sharp beak but the body was too big for any bird I have ever seen. It dawned on Scootaloo what the creature was.

"Luna, I think the creature was a griffon of some kind. Or maybe a that other thing that looks like griffons; hippogriffs I think they are called."

"Hmmm" Luna sat down, puzzling for a moment. "Have you ever actually seen a live hippogriff before?"

Scootaloo thought for a moment. "No, I only read about them briefly in school. Something about them being related to griffons."

"I'm not surprised. They live in the zebra lands far to the east. They are very seclusive and rarely venture out of their own communities. I think that alone eliminates the identity of the creature. Tell me, how many griffins have you ever seen?"

Scootaloo thought back. She had actually seen many of them growing up. Most of them attended the Staliongrad flight school but she occasionally saw them in the countryside. "Quite a few of them actually. Most of them from far away but I do remember seeing Rainbow Dash's best friend Gilda up close."

"What do you remember of her?"

"Well she was a lot larger than Rainbow was, she was actually around the size of Apple Blooms brother. She had a sharp beak, vicious talons, giant wings and a flexible lions tail. She also seemed to have very short temper and a mean streak about her too though."

"Well, that's what i needed to know. I needed to make sure your imagination wasn't adding things that were not there. Sometimes imaginative little fillies add things to their nightmares that makes my job all the harder. At least now I know it is a real griffin and not an imaginary one." Luna paused for a moment. "May I ask why you are afraid of griffins all of a sudden?"

"I'm not!" Scootaloo sat back and smiled meekly, noticing she actually raised her voice at Luna. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean that."

"That's alright." Luna said compassionately.

"I...I guess I'm not afraid of griffons but more afraid that some of my friends and family will get hurt in this whole war thing. I mean, what if some of my favorite ponies get drafted and never come back." Scootaloo couldn't help but wipe a tear from her eye. The thought of never seeing Apple Jack, Pinkie Pie or any of her other friends again was actually a scary thought.

"You won't need to worry about that. The Equestrian army has never required a draft for as long as I can remember. We have it on the books as a possibility but we have never have had a reason to use it." Luna put her wing over Scootaloo. "There, there little one. Your loved ones won't be going away and even if Walarah were to declare a violent war on us I assure you Celestia would not rest until victory was assured."

"R-really?"

"I may be the better tactician but if my sister gets truly angry, nothing on this world could stop her. Come, let us finish our snack before I have the talk with the rest of your friends." Luna and Scootaloo walked back to the fruit table. Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom welcoming them back with plates of fresh fruit.

"So Scoots, what did ya talk about with Luna?" Apple Bloom asked.

"Yeah, it must have been exciting. I could see your wings fly up from here." Sweetie Belle added.

"Oh, Uhhh." Scootaloo folded her wings in. "Nothing too exciting."

"Nothing too exciting?" Sweetie Belle stared at Scootaloo for a moment. "I thought when pegasi experience strong emotions they fluff their wings out."

Luna glared at Sweetie Belle, a look that her older sister gave her on many an occasion that practically said "Drop the subject" which she quickly did.

Not too long after they began eating that their other classmates began to come up one by one from the pool and get themselves some food.

"Psst." Luna whispered in Apple Blooms ear but just loud enough for the other crusaders to hear. "I want you all to enjoy yourselves for the next couple hours before I take the rest of your friends home but I need you to promise me that you will not mention the titans to any of them."

"We promise" Apple Bloom, Scootaloo and Sweetie belle said together in unison.

"Good, I'm gonna do a few laps. I need to work off these calories, otherwise it will go right to my flanks." Luna flew into the air and came down into the water with a magnificent double flip dive.

"Wait. I always thought you were supposed to wait thirty minutes to swim after eating." Apple Bloom said while watching Luna swim the length of the pool.

"Yeah, something about cramps or something." Scootaloo added.

"You fillies are silly. If that were true you would get cramps whenever you eat. We are 90 percent water remember?" peppermint Twist loaded her plate with a few bananas before sitting down next to Sweetie Belle. "The myth stems from people getting motion sick while floating in a near weightless environment. If you don't get motion sick on a regular basis then you are completely fine."

"Peppermint?"

"Yeah Sweetie?"

"You're such an egg-head."

Peppermint Twist gave a hearty laugh, almost snorting in the process. "Yeah, I know."

***

The rest of the afternoon went smoothly. Everyone had a few games of Volleyball, water dodge ball and everyponys personal favorite; who sunk the Luna. Dinner was a spicy delicacy that was prepared in front of everypony by a expert chef. Everypony wondering how he juggled vegetable kabobs over an open flame the way he did without so much as scorching his apron.

After dinner everypony had another quick round water tag before Luna called out to the rest of the fillies and colts.

"Will you all come to me. I have something to say." The ponies all swam up to the side of the pool, Princess Luna drying off her ears before talking again. "I would just like to say that it has been one of most fun days I have had in a very long time, however as they say all good things must come to an end. The sun will set in just a few minutes and I did promise your parents that i would have you all home by sundown."

A few unicorn guards walked into the room, each one carrying a small bag that had star glowing all along the straps. "I have prepared for everyone something of a souvenir of our time together. In each bag if have left everyone special chocolate from my personal connection as well as a moonstone. If you are ever having nightmares I want you all to sleep with the moonstone. I will do my best to come to your aid when you do."

The guard lined up next to each pony, their horns aglow ready to take them home. However three guards seemed to not budge from their spots.

Diamond Tiara moved away from the guard standing by her, Silver Spoon close behind.

"Apple Bloom. I just wanna say...thanks for taking me along."

"Ditto for me as well. Also, Luna, thank you for the wonderful time."

The other ponies in the group also thanked Luna one by one. Each walking up to give her a hug in appreciation.

"You are all very welcome. I hope we can do this again sometime, I can't always be about work, work, work all the time now can I?" Luna nodded at the guards and slowly each one of Apple Bloom's, Scootaloo's and Sweetie Belle's classmates disappeared in an electric flash of light.

"Guards, You may leave the bags here and return to your duties. I will escort these three home personally."

The guards set the bags on the table nearby and saluted to Luna before exiting the room. Luna stood there for a few minutes, it almost looked as if her coat had a slight glow to it somehow. A few more minutes passed and the glow became glaringly obvious.

"Luna...yer-"

"Quiet young ones. I must concentrate. Follow me." Luna walked to the far side of the room and opened up a glass door and stepped onto a balcony, the CMC following close behind. Luna looked to her right, on a far adjacent Balcony was princess Celestia, her horn aglow as the sun slowly began to set behind the hills.

After the sun disappeared and only the afterglow of day was visible over the hills did Celestia turn her attention to Luna. "Okay little sis, you remember the deal. You get double shift tomorrow for me taking yours this morning."

Luna merely nodded in her sisters direction, her body glowing ever brighter. Luna spread her wings and lifting her front legs in the air. The moon rose up in front of her, casting it's light on her and making her look something like an avenging angel. Luna quickly lifted off the balcony, her body entirely enveloped in a white glow. Luna moved her front legs to her sides and with a flash of light moon moved high into the sky.

"Why did you have to use the old way. Showoff!" Celestia looked a bit disgruntled as she went inside, her wings a little ruffled in aggravation.

The glow surrounding Luna faded away as she landed on the balcony.

"W-w" Apple Bloom couldn't speak. there were just no words to describe what she just witnessed. No words at all. Her friends were equally as shocked, both of them just staring in awe as Luna turned around to smile at their gaping faces.

"Phew, doing it that way is always exhausting but well worth the resulting shock factor." Luna casually wiped her brow, wiping away the sweat as she walked over to Apple Bloom. "You know If you keep staring at me with your jaw open like that, it will freeze that way."

All three CMC members closed their mouths and followed Luna back into the palace.

"Luna, that was amazing. I mean, we have all seen Celestia raise the sun at the summer sun festival but that was something else entirely." Scootaloo said as the others nodded in agreement.

Luna smiled at Scootaloo and the others. "I'm glad you liked it. A long time ago I would raise and lower the moon that way each morning and afternoon. It is a bit flashy but it's also very draining to do it that way." Luna's stature seemed a bit more sluggish than normal. Her wings were droopy and her normally radiant mane was muted in its brilliant starry night luster.

"Are you okay Luna? You seem a bit tired." Sweetie Belle walked up to the Princesses side, putting a hoof on her wing.

"I'll be fine little one, normally I sleep during the day but today I wanted something special. For you all and for myself." Luna walked over to the pool and dunked her head in, quickly pulling it out and shaking. "I'm only a bit tired, I still need to show you all something very important. Something that everypony will know of soon enough."

Luna beckoned Scootaloo and Apple Bloom to her side. "I suggest you all hold your breath. These mass teleportations can be a bit disorienting." Apple Bloom, Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle did as they were told and held their breath. "Good, now give me a moment." Luna's horn began to glow and hum, sweat rolling down her face as she built up the necessary magic reserves. "Here we go!"

There was a flash of light and within seconds Apple Bloom felt her hooves hit what felt like moist dirt. She looked around to find that the teleport wasn't exactly spot on. Sweetie Belle was up a nearby tree and Scootaloo was tangled in some vines just below her. Apple Bloom looked around, they seemed to be in a swamp of some kind. The hot humid air, the smell of dead things and trees that reminded her of the ones in foggy bottom bog.

"Pffft! gross!"

Apple Bloom watched as Luna pulled herself out of some very murky looking water. Her night blue coat covered in swamp moss, dead leaves and specks of mud.

"I think I swallowed a frog" Luna coughed a few times and indeed a very angry looking frog came from her mouth, landing in the water. Getting his bearings the little frog stared at Luna and shaked his angry webbed front feet at her before hopping away, kicking mud in Luna's face as he did.

"Sorry for accidentally eating you!" Luna called after the frog. "Oh my, looks like I was way off target tonight." Luna untangled Scootaloo from the vines above and levitated Sweetie Belle off the branch she was stuck on.

"Sorry about that, being tired and the magical defenses we put on this location are taking their toll on my accuracy" Luna seemed short of breath. If what Apple Bloom saw of her earlier was Luna tired then this must have been Luna when she was exhausted.

"Luna, I think you need to take rest." Scootaloo suggested.

"I will in a bit, follow me." Luna moved with surprising speed given her condition, the members of the CMC barely able to keep up with her. After a few minutes they came upon a stone wall covered in moss. A single hole in the center was the only visible feature on it. Luna lowered her head and stuck her horn in the hole, sliding it in about half way. The wall began to shake violently, quickly shaking off the overgrown moss on it and revealing a moon and a sun on the upper left and right sides.

Luna removed her horn and the wall began to sink into the ground. After a few tense moments of the earth shaking, lights began to appear in what was pitch black darkness where the wall used to stand. Apple Bloom peered into the darkness to find a set of ancient stairs. Incandescent light bulbs were in electrical sockets some of the way down, although from what Apple Bloom could see, most of them were extinguished and only lit the stairwell maybe halfway down at best.

"Follow me but watch your step. These stairs haven't seen hooves in many centuries." Luna took the first step forward but slipped as one of the bricks in the stairs gave way and tumbled down the black mostly unlit abyss. "See what I mean?"

Luna moved forward, the members of the CMC following behind her timidly.

As Apple Bloom took her first few steps in she noticed that these stairs were really steep and narrow. As she continued further down she found it increasingly harder to keep her balance. "Are you guys having the same problem as I am?" Apple Bloom turned her head to find an amusing sight.

Scootaloo was walking down the stairs sideways and Sweetie Belle was scooting down the stairs on her flanks.

"What? These things are steep." Scootaloo said.

"Narrow too. My behind is killing me."

Apple Bloom wasn't a expert on construction but she knew a thing or two about basic farm upkeep and construction from her sister. Whoever made these stairs did not intend for them to be tread upon by any creature of the four legged variety.

"If you puff your chest out and lead both legs forward at a the same time, you can navigate it easier." Luna Called back, the light from her mane just barely visible in the encroaching dark.

Apple Bloom tried what Luna suggested but found it only made it harder to keep her balance. "I dun think it works Luna." Apple Bloom sat down on the step before she lost her balance completely.

"Hold on, I'm already at the bottom."

Apple bloom, Scootaloo and Sweetie Bell held their breaths in excitement as a blue aura surrounded each of them, lifting each into the air and sending them quickly to the landing at the bottom by Luna.

"Well that was neat, but are you sure you should be using your magic so...co..copi...Sweetie Belle, help me out here."

"Copiously, Apple Bloom" Sweetie Belle corrected.

"I'm not that drained. Here, let me get the lights." Luna fumbled around in the dark, her hooves making clanking sounds on the wall until she managed to hit a switch of some kind, moments later the entire roof began to light up with long white bars of light. Each row turning on in sequence all along the length of the room, although a few of them were flickering or burned out.

"Something of a new technology. It's sparsely used in major cities but apparently whoever made this room invented it long before we did. Come."

On the far side of the room was something that looked like a massive vault door. A vault door that made the one at the Ponyville bank look like an old suitcase by comparison.

"By the nights command, I say open."

Apple Bloom noticed a little glass panel on the right side of the door light up. The colors flashing red and blue with little lines lining up with one another on the surface.

"Voice recognition confirmed. Welcome General." said a squeaky voice from what looked like a stereo speaker in the wall.

The door slowly opened, the lights in the other room coming on as they did. Luna stepped though, with the CMC close behind her into a room full of large white sheets.

"Took us years to figure out how that worked." Luna said with a smile.

"The dangerous weapon is...bed sheets?" Sweetie Belle said as she walked ahead of the group.

Luna laughed. "No, silly pants. It's what is under the sheets."

Scootaloo walked up to one of the smaller sheet covers, grabbed the end with her teeth and gave a heavy pull;ending up on her back covered in a sheet for her efforts.

Apple Bloom couldn't make out what she was staring at. It was some kind of brown, riveted metal monstrosity. There was a flat plate at the front, followed by a steeply angled metal sheet that ended in a box on the top with three rectangular holes. On the left and right were metal sheets that angled backwards and had these strange little cylinder shaped objects in the center with holes in them. The entire thing was help up by what looked like city road pavement but in small rectangular segmented blocks, each of them going all the way around six small wheels on the inside that had some kind of support struts in them. Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle moved in to get a better look, Scootaloo freeing herself from the sheet and following soon after.

On the very top of the metal machine was a weirdly shaped metal box with metal cap cover that looked something like a thick bottle cap. Sticking out of this bottle cap was a long metal rod of some kind.

"So...this is a steel titan? Kind of looks silly to me." Scootaloo said as she inspected the sides. "There's a big white star on the side of this thing too. I wonder what It means."

Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo walked all the way around the odd metal contraption. Pointing out what looked like doors on the back and a hatch on the top.

"Luna, I don't see how this thing is dangerous. I mean i guess if it gets moving it can be a pain to stop , being all made of metal but...I don't see the danger in it."

Luna pointed to something the crusaders had overlooked. A small bronze plaque that was in the stone on the floor in front of the machine. Scootaloo, Apple bloom and Sweetie belle moved in together to inspect the shiny object they had missed.

Apple bloom began to read aloud the small writing on the bronze plaque. "M2 medium tank, originally intended as a stopgap measure during the second world war. 18 M2 tanks were completed but never saw service in combat as they were considered entirely obsolete by the time the tank was put on the field. Slight M2A1 variants were also constructed, none of which saw combat either."

Below the text was a bunch of numbers and words that Apple Bloom kind of understood but, one word stood out in particular; the word gun preceded by 37mm. She knew she had seen the word before, perhaps it was at school.

"Luna, I have seen this word before but, I can't seem to put my hoof on where."

"I think I remember, It was in the history textbook." Sweetie Belle added.

"Yeah, the section about pirates I think it was." Scootaloo said with some excitement.

"You are sort of correct. A gun is a machine used to shoot small bits of metal, normally lead at high speeds, using a gun powder explosion in a strong but hollow tube. They were invented some time after me and my sister came to power but we quickly outlawed them and destroyed any blueprints on how to create them."

"Why?" Scootaloo asked.

"My sister had the good sense to keep technology in check, delaying advances intentionally until everything was known about the consequences. She even had a spell she used from time to time to get images from far in the future. If she had not stopped this particular technology in its tracks the world would have been a very different place. A place of fear and death, a world of constant wars, orphans and daily tragedies."

"But isn't it a better weapon when compared to bows, arrows and the like?" Sweetie Belle asked.

"It is, but it wasn't so much our own kinsfolk that Celestia was worried about. It was enemies of Equestria getting a hold of such technology. The griffin empire was not always our friendly neighbors, a long time ago they were our fiercest enemies. In order to stop a quickly approaching war my sister forged a odd peace accord with the griffins."

"The peace accord of CL 227." Sweetie Belle said.

"Yes, both sides ordered a stand down of any ballista, troops and such at the borders. In exchange the queen of the griffins at the time granted Equestria ownership of the northern fields and Celestia gave up her holding in the arctic gem mines. Both sides burned and melted down all of their defenses and had inspectors check each others countries for years."

"But...we have weapons now, what happened?"

"Many things. The treaty only lasted as long as the life of the griffin queen that signed it. After a hundred years we slowly began to amass a small standing army and the griffins did the same. However both sides honored the commitments to peace and ceased all technological development in weapons. They found that both sides benefited greatly from one another and that cooler heads always prevailed." Luna walked up to a larger sheet and pulled it off.

As the sheet fell to the ground the CMC just sat there in shock. Compared to the one behind them, this steel titan was much larger. It had a very sharp pointed pike like front, nice and smooth, unlike the odd box-like M2 behind them. the top part of the titan was also different, the entire top was well rounded and reminded them of something like an overturned soup bowl. The most scary looking part was the so called 'gun'. It was exceptionally larger and longer than the M2.

"This is an IS-3, it is one of the more lethal steel titans in this bunker. It is equipped with a 122mm D25-t gun. One shot from this gun is enough to kill a dozen or so adult ponies. It can fire it a grand total of twenty-eight times before the machine needs more ammunition."

Apple bloom couldn't believe what she was hearing. She turned her head to see that her friends too; were in shock.

"How can anyone make something so horrible." Apple Blooms ears fell, just the thought of something killing so many ponies made her sad.

"Not only that, these weapons are capable of killing even me and my sister, given enough of them." Luna stared at the machine, just the thought sending chills down her back.

"But, I thought you and Celestia were both, you know, immortal?" Scootaloo asked.

"Celestia was shot by one of these on accident when we first found this place. it was one of the smaller ones in the back I believe but had the same gun as the one in front of me. She told me that she had never felt such pain in her life, that too many hits like that could easily kill her. She even had a very bad welt on her side from it, something even dragons fire could never do."

Scootaloo sat there for a moment, letting what Luna said sink in. There was something out there that could even hurt...or worse, kill Princess Luna?

"Luna, if these ...tank steel titan things are so dangerous then why not destroy all of them?"

Luna paced for a moment. "We have been but in secret, at least until I was banished that is. We found dozens of these hidden in the earth all over Equestria. Originally we thought sealing them up was enough but as we found more and more of them we started to slowly disassemble and destroy them one by one. Sadly we could not trust any outsiders for help, if the plans or ideas of such monstrosities got out of here who knows what kind of damage could be done."

"And this Walarah found one of these?" Sweetie Belle asked.

"We thought we had sealed up all the ones we found in her country but it seemed we may have missed a few. I still do not know how she plans on making combat between these things non-lethal but it wears heavy on my heart what could happen if such things fell into the wrong hooves...or claws."

Luna staggered forward a bit and leaned up against one of the machines, sweat rolling down her face.

The three fillies immediately ran up to her, each one doing their best to hold up the larger Alicorn as they moved her onto one of the dusty sheets on the floor to lie down.

"You look like you really need a nap." Apple Bloom said as patted Luna on the back.

"I'm inclined to agree."

Every pony in the room looked toward the vault door to find Celestia standing there, something of a worried look on her face.

"Celestia! Something is wrong with Luna!" Scootaloo cried.

"I know little one, she has been running herself ragged for the last couple days and nights, something I warned her against. That flashy moon raising earlier was the metaphorical straw that broke the camels back."

Luna didn't seem to have the energy to even talk back, all she seemed to want to do is close her eyes and sleep right there.

"I see it is worse than I thought. Oh well, I guess I'll have to get the moon and sun later tonight." Celestia walked over to Luna and nuzzled her affectionately. "Silly little sister, always trying to one up me." Celestia turned to the rest of the fillies in the room. "If you would please follow me I need to take you all home now."

Celestia stepped a few paces away from Luna and motioned the CMC members under her wings.

"But what about Luna?" Apple bloom and Scootaloo protested.

"She will be fine, she's just tired is all." Celestia motioned with her wings for the two to get under them. Reluctantly Scootaloo and Apple Bloom joined Sweetie Belle under Celestia's wings. "I will be back for you little sister." With a puff of smoke Celestia was gone.

Apple Bloom felt her body lurch for a moment but the feeling quickly faded when she felt her hooves hit the ground. Looking to her side she noticed the other two were nowhere near as disoriented as when Luna teleported them.

"Apple Jack!" Celestia called.

One of the windows by the kitchen opened up, Apple Jack sticking her head out to greet them. "Hiya y'all. How was everything?"

"Everything was wonderful Apple Jack. I'll have these three in bed in a few moments if that's okay with you."

Apple Jack nodded and closed the window, going back to what looked like dinner dishes on the other side.

"What you saw tonight is not to be told to another soul. The knowledge of the existence of such things could very much end the world we live in. Why my younger sister confided this secret in you all I will never know, but I trust her judgement. Maybe she see's something in you three that I did not."

"We promise, Celestia." The three said in unison.

"Then I will hold you to that promise. In any case I must be-"

"Wait!" Sweetie Belle said.

"Is something wrong Sweetie Belle?"

Sweetie thought for a moment, having momentarily forgot what she shouted for. "Oh, Luna gave us...some kinda bag things that were left by the pool."

"I see, a parting gift of some kind. I will have your local mail mare drop them off, although they may get lost for a few days before reaching here."

"Derpy?" Sweetie Belle asked.

"Der-" Celestia giggled. "Deja vu."

Celestia shook her head, laughing. "Yes, Derpy. She has a habit of being...less than fantastic at her job. Anyways I bid you all adieu, I have to get my sister off that cold stone floor before she catches a cold."

"Can Alicorns catch colds?" Apple Bloom asked.

"Let's not find out." Celestia smiled and with a poof of smoke, was gone.

Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo stood there for a moment, the cool summer breeze blowing though their manes.

"So." Scootaloo said.

"So." Sweetie Belle replied.

"Well... I guess this makes us secret keepers then?" Apple Bloom said glumly.

Sweetie Belles eyes widened as she danced in place.

"Why so excited? I mean one slip up and it could spell doom for the entire world." Scootaloo watched as Sweetie Belle danced around energetically. "I mean, that's kind of a really bad idea to leave secrets with little fillies."

"No, I get that part. What if we get our cutie marks if we hold the secret long enough?"

"I get it, we could be the cutie mark crusader, secret keepers." Apple Bloom smiled broadly.

"That sounds awesome! Like getting a cutie mark for being a spy or something." Scootaloo thought for a moment. "What would a secret keeper cutie mark even look like?"

"Hey y'all!" Apple Jack called from the open back door to the house. "It's almost yer bed time. I want you all to brush yer teeth and all that before bed." Apple Jack went back into the house, some of the lights inside dimming.

Apple Bloom looked at the other two. "I guess this means yer all spendin the night?"

"Well, I don't think Apple Jack would have us walk home in the dark." Sweetie Belle said as she looked at the poorly lit path leading to Ponyville.

"Yeah, lets *yawn* get some shuteye." Apple Bloom said as she stretched her forelegs.

"Secrets or no secrets; we got the rest of the summer ahead of us."