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Idris

Adventure A Horn Handled Gun - 4.5k words

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I finally got the audio book finished for this one :)

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=l-H_VfpNvKA

It has Obabscribbler, TheLostNarrator, Goombasa, Ilya Leonov, Neightrator Pony, Thonquill, Wuten & QuillnLead. Which makes it by the craziest, hardest project I've ever done !

The story is the prequel to "Tigger's Tank". I wanted to know where Tigger's cursed and virtually indestructible tank came from, so I sat down and figured it out. I would add that both stories were written for YouTube as audio books, so it runs a bit quick in text form below. I also tried something new for the begining to get the charectors filled out and rolling.

 

 

The Crews Bio;

 

Donald's Hope (Unicorn Stallion Mechanic) (Voiced By Wuten)

 

1. To own a nice set of ratchet spanners.

2. To be home for winter.

3. Hoping warm socks will arrive soon.

4. And a warm hat!

 

Margo's Law (Unicorn Mare Gunner) (Voiced by *******)

1. One eye on the target is better than none.

2. If it's too rough to drink, it might be gun cleaning fluid.

3. Never leave Teddy in the tank alone.

4. If at first you don't succeed, re-load.

 

Teddy's Bucket List (Unicorn Young Stallion Radio op) (Thornquill Audio )

1. Own the full set of playing-cards; "cards against equestrian".

2. See Mount Rushmare.

3. To become such a great pony that being left in the tank alone isn't an issue anymore!

 

Tigger's Wish List (Earth Pony Celestial-Engineers) (Voiced by Losty)

1. Rise through the ranks to become a gunner.

2. To eat five hay burgers in a row!

3. To work in a tank park that isn't a sea of thick mud.

 

Ginger's Goals (Unicorn Stallion Tank Captain) (Voiced by ******)

1. Don't let my friends down.

2. Don't disgrace my family.

3. Keep my crew alive.

4. Live long enough to claim a war pension.

5. Avoid drinking anything distilled by Margo.

 

 

A Horn Handled Gun (prequel to Tigger Tank)

 

Celestia studied the map in front of her with furrowed brow. There had been many enemies of Equestria over the hundreds of years of her rule. Foes included everything from magical beasts to simple land disputes, but they had always managed to squeak through somehow. Looking back she couldn't help feel pride at what her ponies had achieved. Now it seemed like a new age was upon her and the map showed they were losing.

 

The enemy making headway into her territory was completely different to those of the past. This time it was a methodical mechanised army that appeared to be in no hurry. If it had any doubt in its ability it wasn't showing it in the devastation it created. What she needed now was a wonder weapon that would push them back across her border without turning half of Equestria to dust. Pulling another group of heroes out of the hat was going to be harder than ever!

 

Far away on the edge of her territory ponies were waking up in a war zone. Tents replaced houses while broken stumps replaced trees. Green meadow lay ripped up by the wheels of war and the sword was now replaced by a huge gun on four tracks. This was the tool of choice against the mechanised horses of the opposing force and an ambitious stallion had just received his new heavy weight war machine....

 

Ginger entered the command centre to receive his new orders, taking extra care to keep out of everyponies way. As his eyes grew accustomed to the dark he noticed a shape slumped on the floor, backlit by the flickering info panels.

 

"Who's that?" he whispered to a pony tech nearby.

 

"Nopony knows, he is everywhere that there is a war and apparently it has always has been that way. It sounded like a fairy tail until I saw him. Then you feel that pressure in your head and you know it's for real."

 

A startled expression fell onto Gingers face, "What the hell, that's actually death sat there?"

 

The tech pony grinned back, "No, not death. It sits there and warns us to stop, but it never does any good. Not even Celestia can stop this hate. I swear that until everyone is sick of it or the die-hards are dead the battle will simply roll on.

 

A sharp intake of breath could be heard around him as the ancient pony slowly turned around. It studied him carefully before looking him directly in the eye and adding, "Everything dies, but not like this." Ginger stepped back, horn glowing in anticipation for a fight.

 

Flicking its ragged cape to either side the creature of dust and matted hair stood up. "Your destiny can be yours!" it challenged. "Take what rightfully belongs to you by magic and change a bleak future into a prosperous one for all. Do it for yourself and do it for your friends."

 

Just as suddenly it flopped back onto the floor and resumed its stare at the many panels. Ginger backed up further with a desperate need to escape. leaping into the light through the open door he took a huge gulp of air and resisted the desire to throw up. He stood in the sunshine panting.

 

His commanding officer followed him out. "They say it was present at every war that there ever was. Celestia knows how it became immortal and wound up here. You can ask it about the first battles ever fought and it will happily tell you. But it only ever speaks in the language of that time period and nopony speaks in the tongue of the early tribes. It won't teach anyone, so all that knowledge is trapped in its mind. It's messed up!"

 

"As nopony at official level will admit it exists it goes anywhere it pleases simply because it can. I'm not intending upsetting it and everypony here is told to ignore it, which is a good idea. I don't think it would ever harm, but I'm certain it can. One thing is for sure. You're in a hell of a lot of trouble if it shows an interest in you. Good luck to you, because now you're clearly in need of it!"

 

In a daze Ginger staggered back into the tank park, gaining a suspicious look from his engineer Donald. This old war pony had seen a fair bit of army life from his tool box. Recently he had seen plough shares turned to swords and the rise of these machines. What they achieved astounded the dark grey stallion, but there was still plenty or room for the old fashioned horror. He popped the wrench back in the tool box with a flick of magic and called to Margo.

 

"Hey Margo, we've got a problem out here."

 

Turquoise ears appeared through the top hatch followed by a look of concern. "What have you done to him now?"

 

Donald scowled back. "It weren't me, he arrived like that. I think his cider count is below par."

 

Close behind Ginger came a galloping Teddy. The short brown pony had more fur than was reasonable and he was ill equipped for speed. Panting hard he relayed, "He's the chosen one, death spoke to him!"

 

Margo huffed at the report. "Ridiculous! Utter horse tale, he eats, he poops, he talks. Thats no more death than I am. It might be one seriously cursed pony young Teddy, but this isn't a daft fairy tail. Go inside and fiddle with your knobs."

 

Teddy slunk into the rear hatch with ears down and tail dragging. Most of the time his enthusiasm got the better of him and he yearned for the respect of the older unicorns. The fact that he had 'aced' the communications course hadn't made up for saying the wrong thing at the precisely the wrong time nearly every the time.

 

Sitting down at his radio station he leant his hooves on the little note desk and flicked the dials this way and that with the tip of a horn. As his bright green eyes scanned the info panel he knew as well as anypony that being a team would keep them alive. If only there was a way to keep them safe from the mayhem that chattered through the air waves and into his head phones.

 

Donald and Margo sat Ginger down and fetched him a brew with sugar and something extra. Ginger drank it down, but continued to stare into the distance. Now he had a bigger destiny than just getting his new tank and new crew to the front.

 

Donald was first to speak, drawing himself up to full height with some discomfort.

 

"Come on lad captain, what did he say to you?"

 

"That we're in a hell of a fix," Ginger replied, looking Donald directly in the eye. "That we can get through this if we make it our own fight, but I have no idea how we do that? I mean, you've seen them, they don't miss often and what they hit usually goes down."

 

Margo Scoffed, "If the rumours are true I would suggest our future is very much dependant on the gunner on the other side of the field. But unless you know some brilliant way to make a quad-track tank indestructible I don't see what monumental difference we'll make?"

 

Tigger appeared at that moment pulling the heavy pressure washer cart through the mud. It was her task to keep the hardware side of their tank going while they were at the base. She was dark brown and barely taller than Teddy. What set her apart was the hint of stripe in her coat from some long forgotten zebra ancestor. It distorted her cutie mark to the point it was nearly illegible. This was of no concern to Tigger, who was the 'can do' earth pony who could get out of any scrape. She had sneaked onboard for a few missions to the front.

 

"He doesn't look so good," said Tigger eyeing up Ginger. "What did the archive pony say to him?"

 

Ginger seemed to snap out of his shocked state. "We need to do something special or we're screwed, I think?"

 

That evening the five ponies sat around a table full of empty glasses. Their sad eyes looked at the dregs of a somber evening. Teddy twitched as though some crazy idea was about to spring forth. Margo decided to get in first.

 

"So we have to win the war?" she asked half joking. "We've been around a bit. Or at least, me and Donald have. We go somewhere, we shoot at stuff and we come back for more. There isn't a spell that makes that a safe proposition. That's why boxes of supplies come in and boxes of ponies go out."

 

Donald glared at her, "Nice!"

 

"We need to magic the hull," blurted out Teddy as Tigger made to ram a hoof in his mouth before he could say more.

 

"Dude, messing with a tank like that will get you on a charge. Saying that out loud will get you a bad reputation. These rules aren't made up for fun. You don't want to be the one associated with sabotage even if you think you're helping. I'm going before somepony hears you!" She stood up and weaved her way through the crowd to the exit.

 

Now that it was a party of four Donald chimed in with a thoughtful expression on his muzzle, "How? But first, lets continue this debate down at the park in the quiet."

 

Once sat in the Quad-track they laid down a muffling spell and looked from one another to see who would start.

 

"I have the most to lose," said Ginger. "You can't be a tank captain and claim all matter of fact that you didn't know how it just happened to disintegrate on your watch. Also, what can we add to it that hasn't already been done by the best in Equestria?"

 

The self propelled rail gun they sat in was a sizeable machine. Aside from the battery packs at the rear it was really just a large diameter tube around a big magnetic rail gun. Some fairly impressive and secret magic had been applied to it already by the factory unicorns, who were ponies who knew what they were doing. Even with enchantments it couldn't survive a well placed artillery shell.

 

Margo was first to go. "We can't exactly fit it with a re-set button now can we?" All eyes fell upon her in the gloom. "Okay, I guess we can then?" She asked.

 

"Well," added Donald, "We could time-lock it in an 'as-new' condition. Every time it got a hit it would automatically return to how it is now."

 

Ginger rubbed a hoof on his chin. "As sure as Luna watches our dreams I don't think we'll get away with that. And it can't be a long term solution? Surely at some point it's going to receive so much damage that time itself will get annoyed and gobble it up. That's one hell of a paradox to maintain. I mean, great for keeping your silverware bright and shiny, but a whole tank?"

 

Teddy looked a bit startled at the last statement. "When mums best chalice collapsed we all thought it was pretty funny. But I wasn't inside the chalice when it went off! There was red wine everywhere." He looked down at his hooves with drooped ears.

 

Margo put a hoof on his shoulder and smiled gently, "We have a chance this way. That's not some bunch of ponies or griffins out there. That's a mech army and they don't seem to miss very often. My friend just came back from the front and her stories scared the hay out of me. It's time for us to fight sideways."

 

The next day they continued to prep their PT4 Quad-track tank ready for combat. Part of the set up included some night trials and target practice. It was the ideal time to sneak off to a remote location and do some extra magical homework. After a few hours work Ginger left to collect the direct order to test with live fire. He set off deep in thought.

 

At headquarters he was greeted by his commanding officer. The mare was tall and definitely commanding, but also fair. She eyed him suspiciously before passing over a sealed envelope. Then she pointed a hoof at the info screen that showed the current front line.

 

"Things are bad," she said looking him in the eye. "If we don't get a break soon we'll be looking at using the bad stuff. We need to win and save our land, as opposed to; win and have no where to live. Just one piece of luck to throw them off would do. Just an act to hold them back. I hear a rumour chattering about the unit and it frightens me. Whatever you're planning, try to keep Teddy out of it. He's young and maybe he's that one pony out of all of us with a long life ahead of him?"

 

Ginger nodded and returned to the tank park. He had been foolish to think keeping secrets would work around here and now he was between a rock and hard place. Ten minutes ago his only goal was to make a large mechanical machine bomb proof. It might work and it might not have. Now he carried the weight of everyponies' hope on his back. Now it really had to work and be a game changer!

 

The mood in the crew was still subdued on his return. There really wasn't much to be said anyway. Everypony took their position and called out their status. Hooves started bringing the many systems to life as various guns and missile lights glimmered in the dim light of the interior. Ginger checked around them before sounding the siren and moving the machine toward the firing range.

 

The tracks and gears whined in the background as they arrived at firing point one. Ginger checked the info panel to verify the rail gun was ready and that the main battery was full. Taking a sight he dialled in the target and sent it to Margo. She in turn touched a few buttons to start dumping energy into the rail guns capacitors.

 

"Practice shell, fire on 75% charge," she called out.

 

Ginger replied, "Fire on 75%, I have the trigger on auto, gun shows green, target is clear."

 

The new tank was state of the art and was soon up to the required charge. The main battery unhooked itself with a re-assuring clunk just before the rail gun capacitors dumped their charge into the coils. A noise like a huge elastic band snapping sucked all the air out of the tank for a split second while throwing it backwards a pace or two.

 

"Wow, " said Donald. "This thing likes to live on the edge. If you want to try 100% I'll be outside hiding behind a tree." Margo turned to look at him with a huge grin.

 

They navigated successfully through the rest of the targets with ease. The tank worked great and everypony agreed that it was a shame to start tinkering with it. But practice targets didn't shoot back and now it was time to either improve it or be arrested. Half an hour later they were all stood around the PT4 sizing up the enormity of the task.

 

"Shame Tigger isn't with us to see this," said Teddy, lighting his horn and feeling the structure. "Just the hull and nothing else?" There had been no hope of leaving him behind when it was his idea.

 

"Yes Teddy," replied Donald. "If we time lock the batteries they won't work and if we lock the tracks they won't turn. Just the shell of the hull and don't forget to breath."

 

The spell was hard enough to afflict on small objects and this object was house sized. They positioned themselves at each corner so that the track sets might offer some protection if it blew up.

 

Teddy swallowed hard. "I've only read about this, I've never done it," he said cautiously.

 

"That's why I'm giving you an order to do it," said Ginger. "I'm it's captain and I'll say you all did it unwillingly. They won't believe those two, but you have a clean sheet."

 

Horns glowed as they felt the extremity of the hull down to its rivets. The metal felt cold with a slight twitch from its factory spells. After five minutes or so it began to hum steadily as they sought out every edge and corner. Once they had a grip on it all they began to reach further and began to sense it age ever so slightly.

 

Margo was first to speak. "Right then, this is what we need to do. Reach into it and feel how it moves and grows imperceptibly older with every heart beat. We need to force it back on itself. It must be in a loop so that it feels to have aged a bit, but then becomes young again."

 

Before they could finish She felt their magic weaken and a new force push into her mind. She startled and stepped back to stare at the others in the darkness. Ginger was was just visible standing next to an ominous black shape. She wondered if they had been busted and strained her ears to the whispers.

 

"It'll take five of us at least," said Ginger. "The archive pony will help us perform the spell. We are to do as we just did, but give it everything we have."

 

They let their minds creep back into the structure and again felt its limits. This time they felt much stronger and the hull responded quickly with a soft purple glow. Now they could feel each others magic and sense the natural pulse of the tank as it became a mere blink older before snapping back to a set point. Once it harmonised into a never ending loop they pulled back.

 

Donald broke the silence. "We'll give it half an hour. If it doesn't disintegrate by then I say we drive it back and get some sleep." He looked around to thank the ancient pony, but it had already left.

 

A few days later nopony was any the wiser. A new tank was supposed to be clean, so the fact that dirt couldn't physically stick to theirs interested no one. Ginger now felt optimistic about the modification as they buzzed along at speed. The new tank drove well and responded quickly to his hoof inputs. It would have been a nice day out if their orders weren't front line fire support. At least it wasn't a full on battle charge.

 

Arriving last they found some suitable flat ground and waited as Margo dialled in the compensations for wind and gravity. Motors whined as the suspension lifted the front of the tank up on its tracks. The machine rode on four sets of tracks, held on by spindly looking arms that made it appear more like an insect than an armoured cart. The arrangement of struts and swivels let the tank tracks move independently to climb over rough ground and to steer. It looked delicate to say the least.

 

Teddy received the order to fire over the radio and relayed it to Ginger. He relayed it to Margo who began charging the gun capacitors, just as they had in practice. This time she loaded a gemstone projectile and eyed a far off distant target. Ginger confirmed the distance.

 

"Thirty thousand steps, 50 steps compensation. The target is a command tank approaching on our flank."

 

Margo came up to the command station and put the periscope cross hairs on the target. The opposing armour was moving slowly so she added in a tiny bit of delay. Eying the charge indicator she set for 90% and waited.

 

"Here we go," she said quietly. "Firing in three, two, one, brace!"

 

Their lives moved back a few feet as the projectile was spat like lightening across the battle field. Off in the far distance the opposing forces heavy tracked vehicle stopped abruptly and began to smoke.

 

"Yes!" Shouted Ginger and Margo in Unison.

 

Donald added, "Chalk one up to the Unicorn horn handled gun!"

 

Margo turned to him with a scowl, "We are not writing that down the side of our war chariot."

 

As soon as they had fired their main gun the enemy took a greater interest in them. Realising that Gingers crew was a pretty good shot induced them to hand out some special treatment. Most incoming fire was now theirs and in short order it found them. Their PT4 lit up like a star as the large shell detonated on the hull. Inside everything seemed to warp and twist before springing back into shape. Ginger decided it was too hot for comfort and raced backward until they were out of reach of the opposing guns.

 

"We should be dead," shouted Margo.

 

Ginger responded, "After what we did we still might be? There's a price to pay for magic like this, just look at the archive pony. Who knows how he got like that but I bet it started with a bad idea over a round of cider. Load her back up!"

 

Taking another sighting they threw another shell across the battle field. A shower of sparks suggested they had hit a power cell. The unicorn tank was now the only thing of interest on the battle field and every shot required a re-position to avoid a rain of death. They continued to fire until empty as more targets burnt with a trail of thick black smoke. A retreat could be seen underway off in the distance.

 

"It's time to go," called out Ginger as he watched the mayhem. "Save some rockets for the trip home just in case." Spinning the command station rearward he kicked the drive stirrups to 'rapid travel'. There was no point loitering with low power and no main gun ammunition. They were soon speeding past reinforcements heading the other way to finish the job off.

 

Soon they were back at the tank park thinking about re-loading when Tigger bought them an envelope with new orders. "Hand delivery only," she shrugged as ginger opened the distinctly 'official' looking document with some caution.

 

"We've new orders to go to Canterlot," he mused rubbing his chin with a hoof. We're either hero's or in a hell of a lot of trouble. Maybe even both? Either way up we leave now, no debate."

 

They barely had their belongings together as a royal crested transport arrived. They threw their kit bags aboard and launched Teddy in through the open door before leaving in a flurry of hooves all waving goodbye. The whoops and waves from other crews suggested they were the heroes of the tank park if nothing else.

 

Everypony was somewhat surprised at their departure, but nothing took it worse than Gingers Tank. Tigger swept the interior clean ready for another crew, but was quickly ordered out as it was becoming really unstable. The static charge it now gave off left no chance of anyone driving it anywhere. For everyponies' safety another tank managed to push it into a small hanger on the edge of the park. Tigger watched sadly as the doors were shut behind it before dragging her water cart to clean some more heavies.

 

A week later there were plenty of rumours flying around about the fate of Gingers unicorn crew. Fighting had slowed up and that meant time to stand around and idly guess their new posting. The most plausible answer was that they were stationed at the secret tank factory.

 

As the sun shone down it wasn't long before maintenance compressors were inflating hoofballs for something to do. Ponies from all over the base were claiming all sorts of objects were goal posts. One ball was given such a good buck-kick it landed on top of the small hanger. Several large stallions promptly grabbed a protesting Tigger and threw her onto the roof of a side building so she could retrieve it.

 

She was soon on top and raised a leg to 'hoof' it off when there was a bit of a creek. The noise was followed by a "flump" as Tigger disappeared from view. Shaking off the dust she found herself on top of Gingers tank which had calmed down a bit. She wondered if it would run?

 

There was now some serious concern outside. Nopony thought that the drop would cause the young mare any permanent issues, but it's contents might? Ears back and nostrils flaring they made careful steps towards the building.

 

They were starting to get really brave and were pretty close as a whirring noise came from inside. Making a run for it with flailing tails the noise was followed by an almighty crash as the tank exited through the end wall. Bricks and planks showered across the ground before the machine came to an abrupt halt in front of them. A head appeared through the hatch with a big smile.

 

"Who wants a ride in Tigger's Tank?"

 

All she needed now was a hat and a crew!

 

 

The End

 

Team Idris

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