• 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 VII: Disaster Prone

Chapter VII: Disaster Prone

"Wait up sis!" Apple Bloom yelled as she fidgeted with her saddlebags. "I need to pack one more book!"

Apple Jack shook her head. "We already have all the engineering books we could possibly ever need. Quit being pokey and lets get on with it, we don't want to be late to the test range."

Apple Bloom puffed up her face in a pout. "I don't want to hear you complain if the hydraulics go out and I don't have hydraulics 101 to know how to fix em." Apple Bloom managed to get the last book stuffed in her saddle back and tossed it over her back.

"See no problem." The weight of the book slowly made Apple Bloom tilt to the right until she fell on her side.

Apple Bloom struggled against the weight but quickly gave up. "Uhhh...Little help sis?" Apple Bloom asked, blushing.

Apple Jack picked up her younger sister and brushed the dirt from her side before unbuckling one of her saddlebags and adding it to her own.

"Alright y'all, we will be meeting Rarity in the south field before headin to the test range. I want you all to stay together and stay off the test range field unless you have an adult or you are in the vehicle itself. Do I make myself clear?" Apple Jack said sternly.

The CMC members all said yes automatically, in a drone like voice.

"Alrighty then, let's move it." Apple Jack started down the road to the south field in a fast and confident stride, making the younger team members nearly run to keep up.

"So Babs, how long you gonna be in Ponyville for?" Apple Bloom asked as she ran alongside her cousin, Babs Seed.

"Looks like the whole summer. My parents are off on business on the other side of the world, they won't be back till late august when school starts back up." Babs replied cheerfully.

"Why didn't you stay there? I mean no parents would have been awesome." Sweetie Belle added.

"Wouldn't work. There's a saying about the apple family, no matter where you are; you're no more than a mile away from another apple. That and Apple Jack is a way cooker baby sitter than auntie Orange." Babs picked up her pace to catch up to Scootaloo

"So I hear that you are in charge of tweaking the weapons eh?" Babs asked Scootaloo.

"Yeah but I really haven't read up much on them yet. I mean from what I could tell the 75 millimeter gun should be adequate but there's a chance we may have to upgrade to that experimental 90 millimeter cannon." Scootaloo arched her head back to think. "I guess I'll have to wait until I see it in action to get an idea of what it needs."

"I hear ya. I got armor duty, Sweetie got engine and transmission...whatever those are and I got suspension duty too." Babs said while smiling. "We were gonna give that to Big Mac but he's not exactly very good at math."

"Wait, Apple Jack suspended you already Babs? What did you do wrong? And Big Mac got suspended too? Isn't he too old for that?" Sweetie Belle asked.

"No, suspension means...wheels, Babs is in charge of the wheels." Scootaloo glanced sideways at Sweetie Belle, rolling her eyes.

"But, it doesn't have any wheels. Seems like a silly thing to be in charge of if you ask me."

The group rounded another hill and began to slow down. Spotting a blanket on the grass and a sun umbrella above it. Rarity was laying down drinking what looked like lemonade, a book open below her as she casually sipped at her beverage.

"Bonjour!" Rarity got up and waved at Apple Jack and the others as the group came up to her.

"Rarity, whats with all the extra stuff?" Apple Jack asked as she pointed to a basket of various scraps of cloth and thread.

"I wanted to make sure that after we do all this testing non-sense that we can spruce the old girl up a bit. I was thinking maybe some leopard spots on the side and a few tinsel ribbons here and there couldn't hurt." Rarity picked up a silver thread and tied it in a bow with her magic. "See a couple of these and it will look fabulous."

Apple Jack opened her mouth as if to berate Rarity but bit her lip instead. "Sure, fine. You ready to go then?"

"Why of course, as soon as I finish my lemonade and another chapter." Rarity laid back down on the blanket and opened up her book "Fashion in War" to her previous bookmark and began to read.

Apple Jack looked furious but shook her head and nodded for the others as she took off running in the direction of the testing grounds.

"Wait, where are you going? The chapter is only a hour hour read, if that." Rarity shouted after the group.

Apple Jack turned around and yelled back. "I'll meet you there when yer finished."

Apple Jack nodded to the rest of the group. The rest of them following her lead as she ran down the hill and toward the testing grounds.

"Sis, do you think it was a good idea to have Rarity on the team? I mean she does know this is serious right?" Apple Bloom asked.

"I reckon it wasn't but it was advised to have a unicorn on each team as a backup fuel source in case of engine failure. Aside from that I don't expect much out of her, this isn't exactly her cup of tea to begin with." Apple jack replied.

The group finally got to the top of the last hill. What they saw nearly made their jaws drop. In the open field in front of them were tanks of all shapes and sizes. Some of them much larger and imposing than their little M3 Lee could ever hope to be. Some ponies had already begun to try out maneuvers on the driving range and a few others had already tried firing shots off in the gun range further down the road.

"Sis, why do I get the feeling that we got the short end of the stick...then they took the stick and gave us a raspberry?" Apple Bloom asked.

Apple Jack was silent as she watched the field like a hawk. "Well shucks. I didn't think this was gonna be easy but this is ridiculous. Some of dem tanks are easily three times the size of ours."

"Kinda wish it was like boxing on the tele, at least they have weight classes." Babs said.

"Well, no use loafin around thinking about what ifs and feelin sorry for ourselves, we got a machine to tune up!" Apple Jack reared up on her back legs and charged down the hill full speed, the rest of the Apple Family following close behind. As Apple Jack headed to the main gate one of the guards held out his hoof and blew a whistle.

"Halt civilian! Make yourselves ready for inspections." The guard shouted.

A pair of royal air guards flew down to meet the Apples, landing just in front of Apple Jack.

"Can I ask what's all the hub-bub about?" Apple Jack asked sternly.

"Nothing personal. We are here to search your saddle bags for illegal contraband. The griffon camp reported that some were trying to sneak in sugar coated rocks in as ammunition and while the sugar wouldn't hurt anypony."

"The rock most certainly would." The other guard interjected. "Some of these cannons would blow the sugar coating off of them from sheer velocity, leaving only the dense stone to do the damage. You can imagine what a rock flying at the speed of sound would do to another pony." The guard ran his hoof across his neck, making a small slicing sound with his lips.

"As Celestia and Luna have decreed safety first, all ponies and griffons are being inspected to make sure nothing lethal is smuggled in." The guard put his hoof out, motioning at Apple Jacks saddlebags.

"I get it, everyone toss him yer saddle bags."

"Wait Ma'am, not all at-" Before the guard could react his entire body was covered in saddlebags, some of them weighing as much as a filly or young colt.

"I told him to say one at a time first, this is the third time today this has happened." The guard began removing the bags from the top of the pile. "While we look though the bags you go over and talk to the entry guard. He will point you to your garage and set you up with the correct safety spells."

Apple Jack and the group walked up to the guard that shouted for them to stop earlier.

"Name please." The guard demanded.

"Apple Jack, of team Apple." Apple Jack stated proudly.

The guard picked up a clipboard behind him and started flipping the pages. "Oh I see, you are the unlucky ones to get the last picks yesterday. We have you setup in garage twenty-seven, please step on the safety circle before proceeding to the garage." The guard jumped in front of the group before they could move. "one at a time if you will."

Scootaloo managed to get to the front of the pack. "Whats the circle do?"

"It casts a protection spell on you to prevent injury from anything with sugar in it." The guard stated.

"Why do we need that? Not like we are firing anything at each other." Babs said.

The guard pointed to a wreck on the far end of the driving range, surrounded by caution tape. It was smaller vehicle, about the same size as the M3 lee but not as tall. A yellow Pegasus was busy scooping out large quantities of cake from the inside of it as well as removing shattered boards.

"Is that Fluttershy?" Sweetie Belle asked.

"Only one way to find out. Hey Fluttershy!" Apple Jack yelled at the yellow Pegasus, waving her hoof. The yellow Pegasus shook her head, knocking some of the cake out of her hair to reveal a bright pink shine and waved back eagerly. "Yep that's her. Wonder what shes doing out here or why she's covered in cake."

"We had an accident earlier. Some wall eyed mare miss-aimed her 152 millimeter cake cannon on her KV-2 and obliterated that poor vehicle. Thankfully everyone inside was protected by the spell but if they weren't...well lets just say the hospital would take weeks to pull all the splinters out." The guard pointed at the circle on the ground. "For your own safety."

Each member of team Apple Stepped onto the circle one by one, a green and pink aura temporarily surrounding them as they stepped off.

"Okay, everything seems to be in order. I must however briefly explain the rules. Each garage has a token in it with your team number, these will eventually be switched out with team logos but for now they will do. If you want to use the gun range you must deposit the token with the range safety officer to use it. After one hour your token will be placed back in your garage. Same goes for the driving range, which is allowed four vehicles in separate lanes at one time." The guard pointed three tanks performing maneuvers, the fourth lane being occupied by Fluttershy's broken down machine.

"No pony is to go out into the firing range or the driving range for any reason. If your vehicle breaks down there is a flare gun nestled with three charges in the emergency kit next to the med-kit in each vehicle. If your vehicle breaks down please fire the flare into the air. A tow vehicle will be with you shortly to tow you back to your garage."

"Then why hasn't Fluttershy been towed back already?" Scootaloo said while watching Fluttershy remove more bits of cake from the interior of her vehicle.

"That shot she took blew her tracks to smithereens, we had to call in a Pegasus carry team for it. I swear why did they give a cross eyes pony a tank with such an amazing weapon if she can't hit anything with it but her allies?" The guard sighed. "Anyways you can find your garage along with the others on the field opposite the gun range."

"Question, we own a large plot of land not too far from here, can we use it for drive testing?" Big Mac asked.

The guard scratched his chin. "I don't see why not but you will probably have to submit it for inspection when you bring it back."

Big Mac looked irritated at even the accusation of possible cheating, his stare making the guard back away cautiously.

"Hey now big fella, I didn't insinuate that you would do such a thing. I'm just doing my job is all." The guard looked like he was sweating under the collar.

Apple Jack stepped in front of Big Mac. "Calm down Big Mac, he didn't know that was a sensitive spot." Big Mac's face went back to its usual relaxed and far off staring state. "You will have to excuse him, the only thing that gets him mad is accusations of unfair play. You could call our mother a lazy slacker and it wouldn't get him as riled up as accusin him of cheatin."

The guard nodded and pointed the group toward the garage. "Please move on, I have other registrations to deal with if you would be so kind." The guard looked to the pegasus behind the group and waved his hoof which they returned with a wave back.

"Everything's in the clear. These ponies are really serious about this, they got all kinds of books for this kinda thing." The guards hovered over to team apple and distributed their bags to the owners. "We will you the best of luck." The guard saluted and flew off in the direction of the next group of ponies behind them.

"So Apple Jack, what should we do first? Drive testing? Armor work? Maybe some gun play." Scootaloo seemed eager to get the day started.

Apple Jack had other plans. She couldn't seem to keep her eyes off of Fluttershy, whom was still busy removing a wedding's cake worth of ammunition from her destroyed vehicle. "Nah, let's help Fluttershy first."

The group moved over to the fence, Apple Jack raising a hoof to keep the fillies back and motioning Big Mac to follow her over the safety fence. "Fluttershy, ya need help with that?" Apple Jack asked as she approached the wreck.

Fluttershy sat up, quickly brushing cake from her nose. "Yes please, If you wouldn't mind."

Apple Jack looked out of the driving test range, only a small rainbow colored vehicle was moving in the lane furthest from the wreck. "Okay y'all, hop on over and get to work." The rest of the group hopped over the fence and began to pull chunks of cake out of the interior of the vehicle.

"Fluttershy, why isn't whoever did this helping you at least clean up the mess? Apple Jacked asked.

"Oh she offered but I had a better job for her. You see Angel, mister Bear and mister Jay are all late today for some reason, so I had her fly to my cottage to see what the holdup was." Fluttershy moved something that looked like a large wooden arm out of the way.

"I didn't know there were ponies in town named bear and jay, are they new to town?" Sweetie Belle asked.

"I think she means an actual bear and an actual blue jay." Apple Bloom said.

"Is that even legal? I thought it was ponies only for our teams." Scootaloo asked as she helped Apple Jack move another wooden arm out of the way.

"It's only legal for me. I had Celestia make the exception yesterday since I can talk with animals and no pony wanted to be on my team...at least not anypony that wasn't already on a team." Fluttershy kicked the ground somberly.

"I thought they were supposed to match you up with members if you didn't register as a team." Big Mac said as she checked the tracks on the vehicle. "I mean it's nice and all that they let you register non-ponies but still."

"Long story short there wasn't enough ponies, so I signed the animals up with me instead." Fluttershy tossed the last bit of cake out the side of the vehicle. "So Big Mac, how does it look down there?"

"Well, the tracks are ruined but this things seems to have emergency road wheels on the underside that I can't get to. Seems like an odd place to put em. How much does this thing actually weigh?"

"The booklet said about four tons but I removed most of the armor and weapons, except the 75 millimeter howitzer on the front, whatever that's supposed to mean." Fluttershy pointed to a short barreled gun on the front left of the vehicle.

"What model is this?" I haven't seen any other vehicles today with this open top deal." Scootaloo poked at the sides, cracking the thin wood with ease. "The armor doesn't seem very thick either, no wonder that other tank obliterated you."

"Now Scootaloo I'm sure she just got the short end of the stick like we did." Apple Jack said as she inspected the fractured side armor. She quickly noticed that there were patches where square holes used to be. "What model was this again?"

"It's a heavily modified T40 tank destroyer. The manual said it's based on the M3 Lee tank but I've yet to see one of those out here today. It's been all this really big vehicles like that T29 Twilight was helping earlier or that really slow Su-14 I saw Pinkie Pie driving."

"Hey, Flutters!" Rainbow Dash popped the hatch off the rainbow colored vehicle on the end of the test range and flew up into the sky, waving at her companions to move along without her. "I didn't see you there!" She shouted as she flew toward Fluttershy's wreck.

"Whoa, what happened here?" Rainbow Dash said as she poked the wreck while in the air.

"Guard said some wall eyed pony accidentally hit Fluttershy with a big shot from her KV-2." Apple Jack explained.

"Derpy?" Rainbow Dash asked.

"Derpy." Fluttershy replied somberly.

"Wait that was you in that little race car of a tank?" Apple Jack said as she watched the rainbow colored tank do doughnut turns in its lane.

"Yep, Picked it myself. I's an AMX 13 90, one of the fastest tanks they had in stock." Fluttershy said proudly. "I picked her myself."

"Who's driving it?" Scootaloo asked, mesmerized by the tanks speed and agility.

"Probably one of the cloud sisters, kicker or chaser, dunno which right now." Rainbow Dash replied.

The tank did another doughnut maneuver before heading back to the start point and off the track entirely.

"It's nowhere near as fast as me but you know, few things are." Rainbow dash gloated.

"Yeah but I bet it can't take a hit with being so quick." Big Mac said while tossing a broken piece of tread aside.

"Pfft who needs armor when you will never get hit to begin with. I saw some of the ponies in the firing range. Not a single one of the earth pony gunners could hit the broad side of your barn." Rainbow Dash bragged while nudging Apple Jack in the side.

"Comparatively speaking Pegasi would make better drivers, gunners but not exactly commanders, engineers, radio operators or loaders." Sweetie Belle said in a matter of factly tone.

"Uhhh, Sweetie, is this gonna be another science lesson?" Apple Jack asked nervously.

"Yep!" Sweetie Belle replied excitedly.

Apple Jack groaned. "Better get a comfortable seat, this is gonna take awhile."

Sweetie Belles cleared her throat. "I was reading up last night on the jobs a tank crew has and remembered something from biology class about differences in ponies. For example Pegasi have better spatial awareness and sharper panoramic vision than Unicorns or Earth ponies. That's why Rainbow Dash is better at a driving or gunnery role; she can feel the road better and has less margin of error when hitting her targets."

"Aww yeah, Pegasus for the win baby!" Rainbow Dash did a cartwheel in mid air in celebration before sitting back down.

"That said, Pegasus also have some drawbacks. Comparatively speaking they are short tempered and brash-"

"I am not short tempered!" Rainbow Dash said angrily.

"Way to prove her point for her Rainbow." Apple Jack said snidely.

Rainbow Dash opened her mouth to argue back but quickly settled back down when she realized that Sweetie Belle had her dead to rights on her brashness.

"This makes them less viable in a command scenario as they tend to take too many unnecessary risks or panic when things go wrong. They are still reliable for radio operators and loaders but not exactly anything engineering related which means someone else has to be in the tank."

The group seemed perplexed, some of the Apple family members had worried looks on their faces.

"Are you tellin me out team is unbalanced or somethin? I mean with all the local Apple family members being earth ponies and all." Apple Jack was.

"I didn't say that, anypony can do any job as long as they have the skills for it. It's just some ponies have advantages that others don't. Earth ponies have advantages over Pegasi in some areas." Sweetie Belle said confidently.

"Advantages like wut?" Apple Bloom asked.

"For starters Earth ponies have a massive stamina advantage, they can go longer periods of time without rest. Also they have better hearing and are fairly even tempered for most of them. Big Mac for example has been in situation that would frighten most ponies but he always kept his cool. While Pegasus may be amazing at a couple roles, Earth ponies are the jack of all trades." Sweetie Belle stood up and stretched her legs. "I guess that just leaves the single unicorn in the group."

"I think you already proved what unicorns are good at earlier. I barely understood what you was talkin about yesterday at Sugar Cube Corner." Apple Jack said nervously.

"Oh, I want to hear more if you don't mind that is." Fluttershy was on the grass with her back legs spread out, seeming enamored by Sweetie Belles little biology lesson.

"Well, Unicorns have better memories. Even ones that have below average magical talent like say my sister, have to learn and memorize hundreds of different spells."

"I do not have below average magical talent!" Rarity snorted as the guard looked through her belongings. "The nerve, talking about your older sister like that."

Sweetie Belle blushed, putting her hoof to her lips to try and find a witty retort. "Compared to Twilight you are!"

"Ah, tah!" Rarity was momentarily speechless. "Comparing moi to Twilight is silly, she even makes Celestia look like an amateur on some spells. It's an unfair comparison I say!" Rarity picked up her bag as the guard dropped it on the ground, saluting her as she trotted briskly to the rest of the group.

"I say Fluttershy, what happened to you? "You're covered in cake and all...sticky." Rarity began to rummage through her bag, pulling out what looked like a box of Kleenex. "Here darling, it may not be a nice bath but these alcohol wipes will at least get some of that out of your fur."

Fluttershy took the box from rarity and began to pull the wipes from the box one by one, cleaning off her legs, wings and snout. "Thank you Rarity, though I don't like the idea of smelling like booze the rest of the day."

"Why's that dear" Rarity asked as Fluttershy returned the box to her.

"Oh, I just don't like the smell, it reminds me too much of that one night with Berry Punch." Fluttershy kicked the ground while blushing.

"Oh...That. Well darling we all do silly things when wasted, kissing mares is probably been one of them."

Sweetie Belle raised her hoof to continue what she was saying when she felt an ominous rumbling below her. "Does anypony else feel that?" The pebbles on the ground were jumping around as if a ursa major was barreling toward them.

"S-sweetie...whoa...." Scootaloo's mouth hung open as a massive tank rolled onto the test range. Scootaloo wasn't the only pony awestruck. The other ponies gathered by Fluttershy's wreck, including the guards had their mouths hanging open.

"That thing is huge." Apple Jack said.

Rolling across the test range as a slow pace was a boxy looking vehicle with what looked like a cannon large enough to fire Rainbow Dashes vehicle out the end of it. The tracks alone were larger than their own vehicle by far. As it rolled by the top hatch popped open and Twilight Sparkle emerged from the vehicle.

"Hey ladies and Big Mac!" Twilight yelled while waving. "What do you think of my tank destroyer?"

"What in blazes is that thing, it's huge!" Apple Jack yelled back.

Twilight looked down into the vehicle. "You girls finish the maneuvers, I'll join you later to test this big gun." Twilight stood up on top of the tank and with a flash of purple light teleported herself right next to Applejack. "So what do you think?"

"I dunno Twi, you trying to shoot other vehicles or shoot down a couple of airships with that thing." The ground began to rumble as the tank destroyer slowly lumbered across the test range, the vibrations fading as it passed by. "Also how heavy is that thing to be makin the ground shake like that?"

"Well to answer that you need to know what I'm the commander of; the Jagd Panzer E-100." Twilight stood there proudly for a moment until she noticed the confused stares of her friends. "Let me explain, Celestia told me that this this if made of metal weighs in at about a hundred and forty tons. This wooden one only weighs in around fifty-five."

"Fifty-five!?" Apple Bloom said.

"Tons!?" Sweetie Belle added, wide eyed in surprise.

"Yep, she's a big fatty. It's like trying to turn a house in that thing. Anyways she is equipped with eight hundred horse power engine, one hundred and sixty millimeters of solid oak armor before any of our candy armor improvements and lastly a one hundred and seventy millimeter cannon." Twilight smiled. "So, you like?"

"Twilight, can you have Spike send a letter about weight classes or sumthin. This is ridiculous, the vehicle we picked is nowhere near the size of that thing or has anywhere near the fire power. I mean it's in an entire class of its own. We really need weight classes in order to compete." Babs Seed said as she watched the behemoth turn around and head back to the starting area.

"What tank did you guys get anyways?" Twilight asked.

Apple Jack lowered her voice. "The M3 Lee."

"Sorry AJ, I didn't hear you."

"She said the M3 Lee." Apple Bloom said, patting Apple Jack on the side.

Twilight tapped her chin for a moment, her eyes off to the side of her head as she tried to think. "Oh, I remember reading about that thing." She said as she smiled. " It's a giant hulking target dummy!"

Apple Jack stood there silent for a moment. "Way to soften the blow there Twilight."

Twilight patted Apple Jack on the shoulder. "It's not that bad, every one of these vehicles has something wrong with them. The one I picked turns like a cow in a grocery cart, a horribly underpowered engine for its size, can be spotted from the moon and makes so much noise that it couldn't even sneak up on granny smith."

"Wait, you said it was a tank destroyer. Aren't tank destroyers supposed to be stealthy?" Sweetie Belle asked.

"Theoretically speaking yes, as per the armor guide Equestrian engineers have provided but there is always more to a war than just proper equipment; psychology. Imagine for a moment I was spotted hugging the side of a hill in this thing and you had a platoon of three or four vehicles lined up around the corner. That gun is enough to demolish anything it hits and possibly even things in the next city. Your comrades would be drawing straws to see who loses their vehicle to get the chance to flank and destroy me. Fear would keep you away from me until backup arrives." Twilight pointed to the gun on the front of the Jagdpanzer e-100. "Scary, isn't it."

Apple Bloom watched as Apple Jack lowered her hat, a move she only did when she was embarrassed or begrudgingly conceded defeat.

"It was nice seein y'all but we got stuff to do in our own garage. Com'on everypony we got work to do." Apple Jack tipped her stetson respectfully and headed off in the direction of their garage. The rest of the group slowly tailed after her but Twilight stopped Apple Bloom before she could leave.

"What's up with Apple Jack? She seemed to be moody today." She asked as she watched Apple Jack round a building on the far end of the test range.

"Sorry Twi. She got held up at the tank selection yesterday and got left with a dud. After seeing all the better options she missed yesterday she's not too happy with herself. I reckon she thinks we can't win."

"I see. If she needs my help I'll gladly share my notes with her." Twilight said energetically. "We could even be study buddies!"

"I thank yee kindly for the offer Twilight but you know my sister, stubborn as a mule." Apple Bloom looked to her side at a mule waiting in line to get his bags checked. "No offense."

"None taken." The mule replied.

Apple Bloom smiled at Twilight and ran off to catch up to the rest of the group but as she made her way to the garage all she could hear was words she never fathomed to hear coming from her sisters mouth.

"Bullpoop! Female dog in heat! Celestia damned stallion fish suckers!"

Apple Bloom walked into the garage to watch her sister biting her own hat in rage, a wrecked heap of wood in front of her.

"What's wrong sis?" Apple Bloom asked.

"Better leave her be Apple Bloom, she needs time to herself. Iffin ya want to know what happened read the note on the doorway." Big mac pointed out a piece of parchment taped the the side of the doorway.

Apple Bloom stared at it, trying to make out the terrible writing, writing that would make her own chicken scratch look like a professional authors.

"Dear team Apple, we sorta, accidentally dropped you vehicle from about a hundred feet up while trying to lower it into your garage though the sky roof opening. We are terribly sorry about the mess we made and have contacted Luna to grant you additional free materials to rebuild your busted tank. If you have any questions please feel free to contact the quartermaster in the last garage on the left before the open grounds."

"Wait so that heap of wood is-"

"What's left of our tank." Babs Seed picked up what used to be the front plate of the M3 Lee an set it aside. "Most of this stuff is in shambles. Wood doesn't take impacts too well, only a few side plates survived. The entire frame is either cracked or warped in spots if not broken completely."

Sweetie Belle lifted up the back plate the reveal the engine a interesting half wood, half carbon fiber monstrosity. "I found the engine and it looks like the transmission is next to it."

"Please tell me at least that works, at least we have a staring point from that." Apple Jack pleaded.

"Give me a moment." Sweetie Belle pulled a book out of her back pack and set it on some of the rubble. She opened it and quickly flipped though the pages with her magic, stopping about half way through. "Lets see...Remove the intake manifold first..." Sweetie Belle removed the bolts holding the intake manifold down and set it aside, she then pulled the manifold off and set it in a pile next to her. She peered in to examine the pistons, shaking her head while doing so. "The pistons look well...borked. It looks like only three of the eight we had are going to work."

Sweetie Belle lifted up the engine with her magic, shaking off a shattered drive shaft attached to it and inspected the transmission. "No good here either, that shattered shaft is going to be a nightmare to remove and we have a whole bunch of gears stripped off inside that I have to remove."

"In English Sweetie iffin you would be so kind." Apple asked politely.

"It's salvageable but I need a good forty bits to order the replacement parts, assuming we don't have any in the garage. The cheaper option is also the most time consuming. I'm not sure If Big Mac and Apple Bloom are to do that much fabrication."

"That's what I'm here for, big sis can help too." Apple Bloom beamed at her big sister Apple Jack, but she didn't return the favor.

"How much is it to fabricate versus just buyin them plain out?" Apple Jack asked.

"Why you askin her? I'm the experienced bean counter here." Granny smith protested. "I reckon counting in wastage factor from Apple Bloom's inexperience it shouldn't cost no more than three bits tops in wood but we have to sugar infuse every single part as per the rules. That's another twelve bits per barrel, assuming the price hasn't inflated to the moon by now."

"You know this could be a blessing in disguise." Scootaloo said excitedly, much to the dismal looks she was getting from other ponies in the garage. "No, no, hear me out. I want each of us to name off something horribly wrong with the old tank."

The other ponies in the garage began to think, some of them putting their hooves on their chins and others just staring blankly at the floor.

"Well, from what I read the M3 used spring loaded suspension. From what I read it has some advantages but takes up a lot of space in the interior. It also has poor ground pressure meaning it gets stuck easy, I dunno why though. I haven't read into it enough." Babs Seed said.

"Sweetie?" Scootaloo said.

Sweetie Belle set down the engine block. "Engine's underpowered, drive shaft is weak and the transmission is garbage. We should probably change the fuel from liquid magic gas to liquid injection. Upping the cylinder count to twelve for more power wouldn't hurt either." Sweetie Belle picked up the transmission and shook it, listening to the rattling of the broken parts inside. "Could use some more gears and an automatic system too."

"The armor could use some upgrades too." Apple Bloom chimed in.

"And lastly the gun is centered weird and it doesn't have anywhere near competitive firepower. We could modify this thing to actually function instead of being a big target. Modifying the original design is within the rules right Apple Jack?" Scootaloo asked.

"I dunno. The rules said you could modify your vehicle however you like but I'm not sure changing everything counts as modification. Seems more like you're rebuilding the whole darn thing from the tracks up. I'll need to check with the quartermaster or Twilight about that. In the meantime I suggest we clean up and salvage what we can of this disaster."

The fillies nodded and began to sort through the debris for anything of value. It didn't take them much to to realize however that the only thing not mangled were the parts that had give way in them. The carbon fiber gas pouches were punctured but usable, most of the gun components on the main front cannon were still usable and a few spare gaskets and springs here and there.

It didn't take long for Apple Jack to realize she needed to clarify what rules they could bend. "I'll be back y'all. I need to have talk about the quartermaster about the rules and to chew him out for this catastrophe of a delivery." Apple Jack walked out the back garage door, leaving the rest of the group to finish up the cleanup and inventory. It didn't take long for the group to toss out the last bits of damaged equipment and access what they had left.

"Granny. Can you take a inventory of what we have to work with in the garage?" Apple Bloom asked.

*Snort* huh wha- oh. Inventory. Right." Granny Smith reached into her saddle bags and pulled out a notebook and pen and began to circle the room, stopping every so often to write things down.

"You gals want to help me with this engine at least. We won't know for awhile if we can modify the vehicle too much but at least we can fix something while we wait." Sweetie Belle held up what was left of the engine, a sad look on her face.

"Sure, why not." The fillies answered in unison.

The group of fillies all gathered around the broken engine, exchanging ideas about how to fix it.

"Granny, would ya look at that." Big Mac said, motioning granny Smith over to his side.

"See what-oh."

"Think we should replace the transmission gears with redwood instead of oak?" Babs Seed suggested.

"We could do that but isn't redwood really expensive? Like out of our budget expensive?" Sweetie Belle replied.

Granny Smith watched on as each pony shot out ideas in turn, the other ponies in the huddle either confirming or giving reasons for disagreement. "I'll be darned, even when not trying to hunt down a cutie mark they still know how to work together and get along."

Granny Smiths compliment did not take long to be disproved however, as the collaboration between the fillies quickly turned into an argument.

"What do you mean beach would would make a bad gearbox material?" Sweetie bell said, huffing.

"It has too much give in it Sweetie, rubber would make a much better material." Babs Seed explained.

"Babs we can't use rubber, there's no way to make it safe in case it goes flyin around after a hit. We would get our tank suspended from the competition if they found out we were using unsafe materials." Apple Bloom stated adamantly.

"Getting hit by rubber? You are seriously worried about being hit by rubber? I didn't take you for a wuss Apple Bloom." Scootaloo teased.

"Well I didn't take you fer a...a flightless turkey!" Apple Bloom retorted.

"Wait, I thought the joke was flightless chicken?" Sweetie Belle butted in.

"And that will be enough of that." Apple Jack walked into the garage, a sour look on her face. "Iffin y'all want to fight amongst each other then fine but do it on yer own time." The fillies in the room bowed their heads in shame. "Or not at all if ya can help it."

"Sorry, Apple Jack." The group quarreling fillies said together.

"Don't say sorry to me, say sorry to those you insulted." Apple Jack said as she pointed to each and every filly in the room. "We can't be bickering like that, its gonna be a war zone out there soon and we need everypony to get along, most of all the mechanical team."

"Sis, what did the quartermaster say about the modifications?" Apple Bloom asked meekly.

"Well I have good news, bad news and even better news that defeats the point of the bad news." Apple Jack said triumphantly. "The good news is they are not only giving us all the replacement parts for the broken M3 lee, they should be delivered tomorrow morning."

"Yes!" Sweetie Belle said as she pumped her hoof up and down in front of her excitedly. "No rebuilding this junk box of an engine or cleaning out the transmission."

"Or fabricatin new pistons, gears and a drive shaft." Apple Bloom added.

"Or shaping and cutting new frame parts and armor." Babs also added.

"Now hold on y'all. The bad news is the rules state that tank selection means whatever you modify has to fit on the original frame, meaning while the final product can look however it wants it has to be able to fit within the frame's weight limit." Apple Jack interjected.

"Oh." The fillies said glumly.

"But...the quartermaster made made a rule exemption for us. The frame has to stay the same but since the original frame was entirely destroyed he removed that limitation and he added a thousand bit credit to our account. Only problem is the vehicle has to at least look like it was once an M3 lee now. He could only bend the rules so much for us." Apple Jack said.

"By the way AJ I finished the inventory. While the kids were busy tryin to fix that engine I found a box with a whole bunch of spare parts behind some wood planks. We should be able to get the frame built today and the engine and such installed. Maybe if we are fast enough take her out for a spin." Granny Smith turned the page on her notebook. "Assuming we all get to work within the next hour or so."

"Then what are we standin around for!" Granny Smith pulled a bandanna out of her saddle bag and tied it around her head. "Let's pump up the volume!"

The other ponies in the room just stood there, staring at her in shocked silence.

"What?" Granny Smith asked.

"You were saving that headband just for this kinda occasion, wasn't you?" Scootaloo asked.

"Yep. I brought montage music too." Granny pulled a boom box out of her saddle bag, set it on the floor and pressed the play button.

"That's my mare, it ain't fair, so what the buck?" Played over the radio.

"Country music...really granny?" Scootaloo asked.

"Yeah I know, it's not akey brakey heart but it will have to do." Granny Smith replied.

Scootaloo hoof faced herself and many others in the room followed.

"Granny, let me show you real montage music." Scootaloo walked up and began to adjust the radio station dial, not noticing she bumped the AM switch as she messed with it the dials. "There 105 fm, rock-house."

The radio played static for a few moments and then started to play. "Can, we build it? Yes we can!"

"Oh horse-feathers..." Scootaloo cursed under her breath.

***

Despite Scootaloo's dubious choice of music and her and granny Smith constantly having a tug of war on with the stations on the boom box the group managed not only to get the frame fixed; by the drive shaft and engine fixed as well. It almost seemed like the entire team worked like lightning the more work that had to be done.

"Just a little more to the left...no, my left. Sweetie Belle said as she waved her arms, conducting Apple Jack and Big Mac to load the still damaged transmission she had been working on over the past hour into place. "Little lower."

"Sweetie, couldn't you just lift this up with yer magic like ya did earlier?" Apple Jack grunted, trying to talk out of the side of her mouth.

"Little to the left and lower it, slowly now." The transmission slowly landed on the new floor board they had installed on the frame, just in front of the fixed engine. "Good, I can do the rest from here." Sweetie Belle grabbed a bag of tools from across the room with her magic, magic that flickered in and out as the bag settled in front of her. "Oh, and for your info my magic is almost dry. I'm not used to using it this much."

"Sorry Sweetie, I don't know much about unicorn magic. Too fancy for my tastes." Apple Jack said apologetically. "Babs, how is them armor plates comin?"

Babs Seed turned from her work, a dismal look on her face. "Slow, I wanted to try a layered effect but don't have the equipment for that yet. These ones I'm workin on are just basic mockups to add weight until I can figure out a better layout. I was thinking maybe make the armor on the front steeper, the original armor was too flat. It's gonna be awhile before I can settle on a design but first I gotta come up with a proper suspension as well."

"I almost have the drive controls finished though, sis." Apple Bloom held up a pair of levers and a gas pedal with a rope attached. "We can probably at least test her out."

"Eeeyup." Big Mac added.

Apple Jack turned her attention to Scootaloo, whom was busy fixing a broken loader breach. "We won't be firing this any time soon. The cannon is fine but the breach will need to be replaced and there is a cork further up that is stuck in there too."

"I figured as much. Not a thing is goin right today it seems. Do ya have any idea what ammunition we could fire?" Apple Jack asked.

Scootaloo looked down the barrel and muttered to herself. "I was thinking maybe we fire something with a lot of potential penetration like say, solid apples but the seventy-five millimeter cannon only has a maximum listed penetration of about a hundred or so. Not only that but any shot over a couple hundred yards loses most of it's potential energy."

"What do you think we should use?" Apple Jack asked.

"High Velocity oranges of course!" Scootaloo grinned squeamishly as she watched Apple Jack's face turn red with anger. "Calm down it was only a joke. Maybe pies or if we can get that experimental ninety millimeter cannon and maybe fire small kegs of cider. May not be able to penetrate but if they use armor that's weak to liquids it could soften them up or even remove their ammo if we soak them."

"Hnnnmmm you know since I'm not really doin much outside keepin an eye on everypony for safety reasons and helping Apple Bloom with the fabricatin, I guess I can head home and find a way to weaponize Apple's." Apple Jack said.

"What we need is...err...what did yer one smart friend call it. The one with the purple-ish coat?" Granny Smith asked.

"Twilight and her coat is lavender, not purple." Sweetie Belle corrected.

"Sue me, I'm a little shade blind. Anywho we need err..what's that D word again, Means colletin information." Granny Smith rubbed her mane absentmindedly.

"Errr....Deoxys?" Scootaloo answered.

"Isn't Deoxy's a yugimon monster?" Apple Blood asked.

"I think the word she was looking for is data, and no not the commander variant." Sweetie Belle said.

Scootaloo and Apple Bloom stared at Sweetie Belle for a moment, a perplexed look on their faces.

"What? That android is awesome and you both know it."

"That's the word I'm lookin for, data. Thank you Sweetie Belle. Personally I like first officer Riker though, he's got dreamy facial hair." Granny Smith swooned and pirouetted in the air before settling back down. "Fictional characters aside we need to collect some data about ammo used. The best way to do that is to watch how they all affect the targets they hit. Since an adult has to be in here to keep a look out for you youngins, me and Big Mac will head out and write some stuff down. That okay with you AJ?"

Apple Jack looked up at the clock and shook her head. "No point, it's almost dinner time and most ponies are probably packin up for the day. I guess if we get up early in the morning we can get to snoopin what others are firing but gettin everyone up and ready takes time. Not counting the massive hold up for checkin in."

Granny Smith smiled. "That's not a problem, there's a mechanics quarters behind that door over there." Granny Smith pointed to a unmarked green door. "I found it when I was taking inventory. It has about six bunks in there and a small pantry that seems pre-stocked with canned goods."

"Well I hope you don't think I'm sleeping in that place, I have my own bed to go home to." Rarity set down her paper and stood up, flicking her hair to the side.

"When did she get here?" Scootaloo asked.

"She was here the entire time Scoots...doing nothing." Sweetie Belle said as she gave her older sister a stare that would burn a hole in the sun.

"What? You expect moi to do dirty, dirty shop labor? And I DID do something. I-" Rarity looked around the room. " I passed Scootaloo that screwdriver!" Rarity pointed to a very polished and clean screwdriver on the floor by Scootaloo's back legs.

"Oh yeah I do vaguely remember you sitting in the corner and polishing that single screwdriver for hours on end, thank you graciously for making our tools clean." Scootaloo said sarcastically.

"Any time dear." Rarity replied while smiling, missing Scootaloo's sarcasm entirely. "No point in the shop being dirty AND the tools, I say."

"Well, Rarity is out of the question fer watchin y'all and we need somepony at the farm to do the morning chores before comin out here."

Big Mac raised his hoof enthusiastically. "I can watch em for ya sis, we can rotate in the morning after yer chores so I can get mine done."

"Then it's settled. Y'all okay with spendin the night here?" Apple Jack asked.

The fillies got into a little huddle, whispering among each other. They broke the huddle a few moments later, all with enthusiastic nods.

"It's settled then, I'll go tell the guards yer stayin here for the night." Apple Jack walked out of the garage with Rarity and Granny Smith close behind.

"So, anypony for refreshments?" Big Mac asked.

All the fillies except Scootaloo followed Big Mac into the mechanics quarters. She sat there, staring at what they had built in such a short time and how they turned a disaster into something better than what they had before. "Everything went better than expected." She said to herself before walking into the mechanics quarters for some much needed R&R.

***Elsewhere***

A creature in a dark cloak stood at the top of the Apple Families tallest hill looking over Ponyville. In its beak was a green bag that seemed to have some kind of white fluff hanging out the top. The wind began to pick up and whipped the creatures cloak, prompting it to open the bag and toss it high into the air, spreading small white fuzzy objects all over the hill and floating on the wind toward Ponyville.

*Kssssk* "Are you done with the operation over target P yet?" A garbled voice came over a receiver in the collar of the dark cloak.

"Yes, operation successful. We should be seeing a breakout at this location within the next few days." The Pony replied.

"Good, take the rest and spread it over Cloudsdale, the more Pegasi and Unicorns we take out of action the better." The garbled voice said.

"Agreed. Agent twelve out." The creature stood on the hill for a moment and watched his work drift into the town below.

"These ponies won't know what hit them."