>Your school, Compass Rose University in Fillydelphia, has assembled a tank combat squadron as one of its sports teams for the very first time this semester.
>You are Tread Softly, or just Treads, cool-headed and perceptive mechanical engineer in-training.
>You and your childhood friend Little Star have signed up for tank battle. You have since been named the commander of the school's tank squadron after you won the first practice battle.
>Your team is yourself (commander), Little Star (driver), Kimono (gunner), Mountain Ash (loader), and Fountain Pen (radio operator). Your team is named Liberators and your tank, a Panzer III Ausf. J, is named Sturmwind
>You stopped a pickpocket and a local news reporter gave you her business card.
>You have agreed to a weekly Monday-evening meeting with your team to discuss Tanksport and make plans for upcoming weeks.
>Several ponies in the squadron have advised you that the squadron needs a strong leader to challenge the bad decisions of Quiet Halls (AKA Halsey), the professor assigned to manage the university's new tanksport squadron. His ignorance of the repair needs of old tanks caused the demonstration of the squadron's Panzer III to be a disaster and his attitude thus far has been largely short-sighed, disinterested, and obstructive. You have chosen to wait for the right moment to confront him.
>Presently, you have three out of twenty squadron members assigned to side-projects.
>When we last left our protagonist, she and Little Star had found and had just finished enjoying some tank ice cream. Treads also discovered an old FT-17 light tank being taken to a junkyard to be melted down for scrap. The junkyard owner, Burnie, agreed to donate the tank in exchange for advertising her business.
Character List and side projects: http://pastebin.com/134pmyVE
Tank List: http://pastebin.com/ZAAKz8tj
>Having come to an agreement with Burnie that you would parade the FT-17 around town to advertise the business, you decided that Pyrodex, Teapot, and Gusty would be the most effective shills, having the loudest voices and/or the most experience with making some noise. You called each one on a pay phone. Pyrodex agreed to come along eagerly, while Teapot was more reluctant. You couldn't get on to Gusty and had to leave a message on her phone. You also left a message with Starry, wanting to call upon his business and negotiation skills to help you out in dealing with Burnie.
>This leaves you with a belly full of ice cream and Pyrodex on the way over to the junkyard. Little Star is standing off to the side giving you a curious look, wondering what he is supposed to do next.
>"Sooo... how did it go?" he wonders out loud. "And... what's next?"
What say you, commander?
Could have went better. Wasn't able to get a hold of Starry but I did get Pyro and Teapot. You might have to talk Star, convince her of the historical importance of the tank. She's a tough customer and would have no qualms with melting it down for a few bits.
>You decide not to sugercoat the results.
"Could have went better," you admit. "Wasn't able to get ahold of Starry, but I did get Pyro and Teapot."
>You tap your hoof, pondering the situation.
"You might have to talk, Star," you decide, much as you can sense the potential problems with this course of action. "Convince her of the historical importance of the tank."
>"Can do!" Star hastily nods, eager to please.
"She's a tough customer," you warn. "And would have no qualms with melting ti down for a few bits."
>"W-well by the time I'm done, she'll understand! Star responds, puffing out his chest and trying not to sound scared.
>For obvious reasons, Star was never good around 'tough' ponies, but for the sake of the tank, he seems quite willing to give it a try.
"Soo... what's she like, other than tough and money-grubbing?" Star asks, out of a mixture of curiosity and concerned. "Also, should we get going right now so she doesn't melt the FT down while you're gone? We can walk and talk..."
How do you respond, commander?
Heh, I don't think she's THAT eager to burn it. She's brash and isn't interested if it doesn't benefit her. But sure, let's go. Maybe you can convince her to not need us to put stickers on our others tanks. Keep them "pure."
>You chuckle a little, trying to reassure Star.
"Well, I don't think she's THAT eager to burn it," you relate. "She's just brash and isn't interested in something if it doesn't benefit her. But sure, let's go! Maybe you can convince her to not need us to put stickers on our other tanks. Keep them 'pure'."
>You proceed to explain about the arrangement... how Burnie's requiring you to have big stickers on the FT and one small sticker on the back of each other tank. Star nods along, and looks a bit resigned to fate. Like it's either this or lose the FT.
>"I'll do my best, Treads," he none-the-less promises, managing a small smile. "I just hope I'm cut out for intense negotiations... aheh..."
>He looks nervous, but never breaks stride, following you diligently as you make your way across town towards the junkyard, stopping only to wait for crossing signals. An awkward silence settles between the two of you.
Anything else you want to talk to Star about along the way, commander?
If we haven't already, congratulate him on getting the ice-cream. More seriously, mention that you could never have gotten as far as you have without his awesome knowledge. And that you're sure the rest of the teams think so too.
>You decide to break the silence with a nice confidence booster. Or try to at least.
"Hey, congratulations on securing the tank ice cream," you smile.
>"Oh, well, the lady was really nice," Star replies modestly. "She said that I was a, 'really polite young stallion' and she'd be glad to make me a special ice cream."
>He's trying to write off his success as no big deal, but you are unmoved...
"Seriously though," you continue. "I could never have gotten as far as I have without your awesome knowledge. I'm sure the rest of the team thinks so too."
>You remember back to how impressed the members of Wind Whistler's team were by Star's little lecture on the virtues and vices of their Covenantor... And how he nearly killed Starry with his extensive knowledge!
>"Y-you think so?" Star responds, blushing as he lowers his head and ears, smiling, but shrinking away in even greater modesty. "Aww, thanks, Treads... But, you're the one who's done all the hard stuff, though. I just read a lot..."
>He looks marginally less nervous now. Although he tries to deny it, it's obvious having your approval is making him smile. You think he'll be a little better able to psych himself to lay down some epic tank law now. You hope...
Will that be all, commander?
Does he want to practice his speech a bit on the way? The person we're dealing with doesn't know anything about tanks and might be a "time is money" kind of person so practicing his approach might be helpful.
>You begin picking up the pace. Even though you don't think Brunie will go back on her agreement, you never can be too careful. Star falls into step easily, quite used to matching any pace you choose to set.
"Do you want to practise your speech a bit on the way?" you question. "The pony we're dealing with doesn't know anything about tanks and seems to be a 'time is money' sort, so practising your approach might be helpful."
>Star gives you a questioning look.
"Try to steer clear of talking about the wars the tank happened to be in," you ponder out loud. "Don't want to go off on tangents with this pony."
>"But I thought you wanted me to talk about its historical importance," Star responds, confused. "Do you just want me to tell her how innovative it was, then?"
What do you think, commander?
The reason I initially suggested >>26045439 was because to much nerdy stuff could cause her to tune out what he's saying and to much unnecessary information could annoy her, possibly even get us kicked out.
>Rather than try to micro-manage Star's speech, you decide you'd rather take the more standard hooves-off approach you generally prefer with him, where you only step in if something is actually going wrong.
"It's alright, just do your thing," you decide, smiling. "I'll reel you back in if you drift from the topic at hand. Just keep in mind it would be good to have an idea of what you're going to say before hand."
>"Ooookay..." Star responds, puzzled, but still willing to do his best.
>He begins muttering under his breath, quietly parsing out what he plans to say while you proceed to the junkyard. It's an uneventful journey, and you arrive to find a somewhat unkempt four wheel drive parked outside and Pyrodex leaning against a wall. He gives you a big wave and a huge smile.
>"Oh no..." Star breaths.
>Like a rampaging bull, he barrels forth and throws his forelegs around the both of you, squeezing your life out... although not QUITE as hard as the last time... Old habits die hard, it would see.
>"Treads! Star!" he declares brightly. "How's tricks?"
Your (wheezing) response, commander?
>The first thing you notice is that Pyro appears to be missing an eyebrow.
"Doing... eek, swell, Pyro," you wheeze, forcing on a smile. "I'm... not sure who... huu... tricks is, but I would like to be... erhh... let down now."
>"Oh! Shit...!" Pyro grimaces, realizing himself and hastily letting the two of you go. Star is quick to flop onto his belly and begin gasping for air.
"I don't know about you, but I like air in my body," you smile awkwardly.
>"Sorry! Sorry!" Pyro hastily apologies.
"Are you missing an eyebrow?" you question, keen to change the subject.
>"Oh! Yeah, no worries..." he replies, waving off your concern. "So where's this tank of yours?"
>You explain about the FT having been dumped amongst the other junk to both of them. Star does his best to not look offended.
>"Right, so what's the plan?" Pyro questions.
>It occurs that you could head into the junkyard to check out the tank first, or start at Burnie's offer to seal the deal before you do anything else. No doubt start would prefer the former.
What will it be, commander?
>Deciding that the current state of the FT will do nothing but make Star said and that it'll still be there after your chat, you lead Star and Pyro towards Burnie's office. One of her works is quick to greet you and usher you inside.
>"I see you brought some friends," Burnie notes as she turns in her chair to face the three of you and taking a pen out from behind her ear, a look of mild intimidation immediately crossing Star's face while Pyro just grins brightly on. "Well, you gonna introduce me, or what?"
>You present Pyrodex as one of the 'megaphone shills' you promised. Burnie looks immediately impressed by his raw size.
>"Wellll, you're a bit frazzled-looking, but you might do..." she notes with a small smile, tapping her chin in thought.
>You then introduce Star as your resident tank expert, here to explain the significance of the tank in her possession.
>"Really now?" Burnie questions, peered at Star and causing him to shrink away. "Alright, well I'm not above history. Try to make it quick, though..."
Who do you want to have 'present' first, commander?
>Starting with what Burnie actually wants to see is the obvious choice. Waving Pyro forwards. He steps up proudly and takes a big breath, ready to put on his best announcers voice to show the junkmare what a stallion of his size can really do.
Give us a roll, commander.
1: Disaster! Pyro swallows a bug as he opens his mouth and starts to choke on it!
2-3: You can tell by Burnie's spittle-flecked face that she is unimpressed.
4-5: Burnie decides that Pyro may have some potential, but it'll need a lot of work before he's passable.
6-7: Burnie believes that with just a little refining, Pyro will be excellent.
8-9: Pyro's powerful lungs impress Burnie immensly.
0: Receive a random event and re-roll.
Not quite, but I hope this event satisfies!
>"Fillies and gentlecooolts!" Pyro announces, Burnie's mane ruffling with the force of his speech. "Announcing a special... one of a lifetime offer! One day only... ermmm, come to Burnie's DISPOSAL! For all your recycling and treasure-finding... needs!"
>Pyrodex coughs awkwardly and Burnie tilts her head to the side.
>"Well... you've got the lungs for it," she concludes after a few moments silence. "Gonna need some training though... maybe we can..."
>You notice an acrid, familiar scent starting to fill the air around the same time Burnie does.
>"Do you smell something burning..."
>"Fire! FIRE!" A worker screams, stumbling into the office. Burnie is on her hooves before you can blink, silently asking for all the information with her eyes.
>"One of the garbage towers..." he explains in-between ragged pants. "It's going up!"
>"Where?" Burnie questions simply.
>"That's where that tank of yours was taken," Burnie says grimly. "Get everypony with hoses on that thing. If we don't hold it off while we wait for the fire brigade we'll lose the whole yard!"
>"I think that weather unicorn's trying to pull in some clouds," the worker adds.
>"Lemme guess... no dice?" Burnie questions.
>"Not yet..." the worker replies.
>"Right. And me with no pegasi on my staff... OK, get back out there, I'll be there in a minute..." Burnie nods, turning back to address you. "You three... Well, I'm not at liberty to ask for your help, but..."
>"Treads, we gotta do something..." Star insists.
>"Let me help. I can lift a hose..." Pyro says, much more serious than you've seen him before.
Time to make a tough call, commander.
>Gee, if only there was a pegasus around... oh, wait!
>Yep, it's time to kick some clouds!
>it also occurs to you that a big enough explosion can also obliterate a fire. You're pretty sure you saw it on TV once. Much as you don't want to blow up the place you're trying to save, it might be a useful fallback position.
"Let's go help!" you decide boldly. "Panzer... vor...!"
>Burnie gives you an odd look at Star just looks nervous, but Pyro grins brightly and takes to his hooves.
"Could your knowledge of explosives be useful," you question as the four of you go galloping out of the building.
>"Sure, if I had time to rig something up," Pyro responds, still sounding uncharacteristically serious. "I'm not sure we've got that long, though!"
>"Explosives!? Are you insane!?" Burnie demands.
>"It's possible to extinguish fires with explosions," Pyro responds. "It's true... I saw it on TV once!"
>"Aye-aye-aye... no explosions... please!" Burnie demands.
>"It's fine... don't have time to rig it up anyway!" Pyro replies, raising a hoof.
>You soon reach the back corner of the junkyard where a huge plume of smoke is rising from the top of one of the garbage heaps. Half the stack seems to be in flames and there are ponies coughing and spluttering as they pour hose water ineffectually into the blaze.
>Without a second thought, you take up into the sky, where you see that any and all nearby cloud is being haphazardly drawn in my unicorn magic. Catching sight of the shimmering source, the origin of the magic becomes quite unmistakeable.
>She doesn't seem to have spotted you, though, concentrating her hardest as she tries to bring the fluffy white motes together into a nice, grey stormcloud. But the clouds refuse to stay together. Any time Gusty pulls one cloud in, another pops free, creating a chaotic scrum of unconnected cloud above the fire. The rising smoke also isn't helping.
What's the plan, commander?
>You call upon your pegasus magic and start trying to push the clouds together properly, but the smoke makes it difficult to focus. The cloud bank is soon more packed-together than Gusty's efforts alone are managing, but you cannot resist the urge to continually cough and splutter. The smoke is particularly acrid as that's any random trash below you that's on fire, making for a very dirty burn, which isn't helping. It's also getting hotter and hotter very quickly.
>You feel your lungs soon starting to struggle. The clouds are right in the middle of the rising smoke and it's very hard to breathe.
You're going to need to do something, commander.
>You give the unstable , burbling mass of clouds a swift kick to try and start at least some water flow. It partially works, but also disrupts your work somewhat, subjecting the fire only to haphazard sprinklings that seem to barely slow it down. The ponies with the hoses are growing visibly more desperate as you pull back for now, glancing hastily around for something to use as a makeshift mask. Gusty is straining even harder, trying not to accidentally undo the rest of your work.
Where will you look for something to filter the smoke, commander?
Fly down and coordinate with Gusty - and see if Burnie and her boys have any gas masks.
We are a pegasus, so we could try to suck up that smoke into a small tornado or something and keep it from effecting everyone else.
Could pegasus magic allow us to use these smoke clouds to add to our cloud and get more rain?
>You circle down, avoiding the crackling flames, jets of water, and smoke. The air is rapidly getting hotter and your fur prickles, making you instinctively fearful of it catching fire. You can't help but shudder as you land. The ponies on the ground have been evading falling debris and trying not to breathe in too much smoke. Even though it's only been about five minutes they already look sooty and haggard. This is what happens when civilians try to do the job of firefighters.
>Star and Pyrodex are working on one hose (or rather, Pyrodex is working on the hose while Star hangs on for grim death), while Burnie and two of her workers tote a hose each. Another is going at the flames with a hoof-held fire extinguisher, for all the good that is doing...
>Deciding you need to co-ordinate the main firefighting effort, you approach the intensely concentrating Gusty. Her eyes widen upon seeing you.
>"You!?" she exclaims, the falter in her concentration allowing the clouds to break apart a little more before redoubling her efforts, sweat visibly dripping from her face... although that might just be the heat... "Gah! Look, you've got wings, just help me put this out!"
>You explain that you can't stay in the smoke long enough to form a stormcloud.
"I could try to suck it up into a small tornado to keep it from effecting everyone," you suggest.
>Adding it to the clouds occurs to you, but smoke isn't known for its water vapour content.
>"That's... possible..." Gusty thinks, straining herself even further to think and do her magic at the same time. "If I use my magic to help you. But, it we're doing this, we gotta do it NOW..."
>You nod, noting well that the fire is in serious danger of consuming the entire pile now (whereupon it will be able to rapidly spread to the rest of the junkyard). You hasten towards Burnie.
"Do you have any gas masks?" you ask her.
>"Just a dust mask," she replies, hoofing you a spare.
>Still better than nothing...
What next, commander?
Now, I'm not sure how much wingpower Softly has in her small frame, especially after wearing ourselves out earlier today, but we need to give it our all. Let Gusty know that we're going to go for it.
>You aren't sure if you'll have enough wingpower for this, but you have to try. Calling out to Gusty that you're going for it, you soar back up into the sky. Donning the dusk mask, you begin rapidly circling around the column of smoke, pumping your wings harder than you can remember doing before. You feel Gusty's mana flicker uncertainly around you as it tries to grip onto the smoke while also holding the clouds together.
>It takes everything you have and more. You are forced to shut your eyes and lower your head, plowing blindly in a circle. Slowly though, very slowly, the smoke begins to turn, rotating around the clouds at the centre. You feel yourself flying faster, carried along as Gusty's mana pours momentum into the smoke. Faster and faster, but you never stop flapping as you need your own magic too to convince the smoke to funnel away.
>It's likely this would have been impossible had you not warned Gusty... As the twister begins to form, you thank your lucky stars that she was even here...
>It's not a real tornado like a junior speedster would understand it. It's wide, slow, sloppy, and frankly amateurish. But it's enough. The smoke is rapidly funneled upwards and away from the garbage pile. It buffets your body as you pull inwards, leaving you black as soot and far, far too warm. You're quick to dive into a cloud before your pinions catch fire. After that, though, you get to work, your mask getting you just steady enough to start hastily packing the clouds together. The clouds soon grow dark, little arcs of lightning flashing along the underside. Once again, it's a terrible job. The cloud is a blobby mess, with big, round chunks sticking out in all directions. It's like modern art of a proper stormcloud.
>But once again, it's enough. It won't stay together after raining like a properly formed cloud should, but function is what's important here, not form. Besides, you can't stay in the smoke for much longer even with your mask and Gusty working to funnel it away.
>With that, then, you lift yourself up a few feet and begin furiously stomping on the newly formed stormcloud. Cheers erupt from below as a torrent of stormwater pours down on the blazing garbage stack. Gusty, freed from needing to help control the cloud, grins and twirls her horn with renewed confidence, sending the deep black smoke that bubbles up from the fire as it chokes whooshing safely away from you on, fittingly enough, a gust.
>You keep stomping, pouring out rain onto every inch of flaming garbage you can see and not stopping until every sign of telltale orange glow is gone. Burnie, Pyro, and the others turns their hoses on a few stubborn spots and they quickly cool off.
>You did it... you won...
>Your final stomp ends with you settling onto the cloud. Standing there, you can observe the entire junkyard, watching the other ponies skittering around far below you, stomping their hooves and jumping up and down in excitement. You feel proud for a few moments... then you feel an intense burning sensation seep rapidly into your legs and wings...
It's time for a stamina roll, commander:
1: You pass out and wake up in hospital, being treated for smoke inhalation.
2-3: You faint dead-away on top of the cloud, but are unharmed.
4-5: You're exhausted and barely able to move.
6-7: You're just winded.
8: You feel fine.
9: All this exertion as totally revitalised you. You feel as if you could take on the world!
0: Receive a random event and re-roll.
Damnit. Sorry for the delay. Chrome crashed and I lost my work...
>With a pitiable groan, you collapse forwards onto the cloud, vision blurred and limbs feeling like jelly. You've clearly over-exerted yourself and now you feel utterly, indescribably exhausted. Worse still, you can feel that the poorly formed cloud you are lying on is rapidly disintegrating.
> A falling leaf spin onto charred garbage full of jagged metal would not be the healthiest way to end your adventure. After catching your breath, then, you manage to force yourself to shimmy over to the edge of the cloud and can quickly pick out Gusty among the ponies on the ground.
"Gusty," you manage to call down, briefly lifting your head. "Bring the cloud down..."
>"What..." Gusty begins to respond. "Wh...?"
>She doesn't protest any further when you flop your head back onto the cloud, almost passing out from the exertion needed just to do that. With one last magical effort from the weather unicorn, then, your feel the cloud begin to hastily float towards the ground, leaving blobs of rapidly dispersing cloud matter in its wake. By the time you reach the ground, there's just a tiny mote about the size of the one you were riding around down on earlier. Right as it reaches ground level, it too disintegrates and you are deposited unceremoniously onto your rear.
>Star, who is filthy with soot, says nothing. Instead, he just throws his forelegs around you while Burnie looks on with one hoof pressed up to her mouth, trying to seem aloof and failing.
>"Errgh, I shouldn't have let you kids help..." she decides.
>"I unno, I thought it was pretty exciting!" Pyrodex smiles, his usual personality already starting to reassert itself. "Everypony's okay... aren't they?"
You can't really feel your legs, but you can still speak. Say something, commander?
>Despite everything, you manage to give Star a little nuzzle, reassuring him that despite how the adventure ended, everything is going to be OK.
"I'm good," you insist weakly. "But very tired. Star, I want to go home now, but... I don't think I can walk."
>"I'll drive you ponies," Pyro offers with a warm, relieved smile.
>You address Burnie next.
"Would you be willing to talk the tank over another day?" you question.
>"Of course, of course!" Burnie nods hastily. "I'm just sorry again you ponies had to get caught up in this."
"Couldn't be helped," you respond with a small smile. "It was an emergency and time was of the essence. You needed every able hoof to keep this from turning into a disaster."
>"Well, thankyou..." she smiles. "Thankyou so, SO much... You may just have saved the livelihoods of everypony in this yard... not to mention that tank you wanted."
>She taps her hoof on the ground musingly.
>"I can leave these ponies to clean up," she offers. "Would you like to see the thing you came here for before you go? I promise I won't melt it down before you come back... it's the least I can do after what you just did for me..."
What do you think, commander?
Do -not- snuggle into the warm, comfortable, gently breathing body that is your childhood friend.
Be dragged to the FT-17. Marvel at it. Name it 'Firebreaker'. Try to sleep in tank. If can not sleep in tank, return home upon our war chariot, Star.
>Well, if nothing else, you at least have a perfect name for the FT-17 now...
"I bed sounds much better right now," you murmur, not entirely coherent. "Tomorrow we visit."
>"Hokay then," Burnie replies with a firm nod. "We'll make sure we have this place straightened out by the time you come back. Swear to it!"
>She gives a very brief salute and grins at you.
>With a relieved sigh and completely unable to help yourself, you snuggle into the warm, plush comfortableness of Little Star's body. Although not a strong pony per unit mass, his size still allows him to easily place you on his back and begin carrying you back to Pyrodex's car.
"Onwards, war chariot!" you playfully declare, happily your childhood friend all the way, both of you heedless as to just how dirty this little escapade has made you.
>"Aheheh..." Star chuckles. "Let's promise never to do that again, okay?"
>You'd be surprised how many of your adventures have concluded with those words, or words to that effect...
>"Well, THAT was a thing, wasn't it!?" Pyro grins, hoofing Star in the side had enough to actually knock the wind out of him just a little.
>He hops into the driver's seat of his four wheel drive and starts the engine noisily. It sounds surprisingly poorly maintained.
>"So, where to?" he asks. "I know you said you were heading to bed, Treads, but you SURE you don't wanna celebrate first? Pretty early and I think this calls for AT LEAST three bottles of Apple Family Cider!"
How do you respond, commander?
>By the time Pyrodex can even open his mouth, you have already dozed off, snoozing peacefully and trying not to have nightmares of burning to death in an enormous garbage fire as your unconscious mind does its best to process what just happened. Even with the bumpy suspension a 4WD offers, you can almost pretend you are safe back at home in your nice warm bed with Star cuddling you the whole way, his plush underbelly making a perfect mattress pillow.
>"Treads...?" you hear a voice question very softly. "Treads?"
>Star is nosing you lovingly. You are half-asleep.
>"Treads... we're at Compass Rose," he explains. "Pyro was wondering if we wanted some help cleaning up before he drives us home. He says he's really good at cleaning scorch marks out of fur..."
Accept the offer, commander?
>Although being a bit dirty with grease and oil is in no way a new state of affairs for you, that's a far cry from whatever potentially toxic stuff was in that garbage pile. Much as it doesn't appeal, then, you force yourself to rise, blearily following Pyro and Star into the campus. They do their best to keep a low profile (as much as a huge, boisterous stallion and a tall, caffeine-fuelled nerd can, at any rate) as they lead you into the student accommodations and up to Pyrodex's room, where Thunder Wing is quick to answer the door.
>"Oh hey Pyro how did it g..."
>His face completely falls when he sees the state you three are in.
>"Oh..." he sighs. "Ooooh..."
>He turns and slowly, sadly slopes away from the door. He places himself down on the couch and slowly buries his face in his talons.
>"You know what?" he questions, shaking his head and visibly resisting the urge to scream. "Just... do whatever you gotta do... I'm not sure I want to know."
>You're a little bit more awake now, but still quite tired. Still, it seems like you could tell Thunder Wing what happened, start on a bath straight away, or delay to do something else, as you're sure Pyro considers his home to be your home at this point. You could also divide ponies between these tasks.
First order(s) of business, commander?
I had a bugger of a morning and my day isn't getting any better. I'm going to have to continue tomorrow. I'll see if what I can do about starting up a bit earlier to make up for it some.
Crunch has survived worse. The battle scars of today shall echo in eternity. This was the day that we found tank shaped ice cream, tank shaped tanks, and tank shaped fires of doom. That last one might be from smoke inhalation, but I'm standing by it.
Not kill, just very lazy...
>Feeling that you can always tell Thunder Wing what happened at any time, you decide to ignore him and his theatrics for now.
"Dibs on the first shower," you hastily declare, trotting heedlessly towards the bathrooms. "Star said you offered to help clean us up, Pyro?"
>"Oh, right!" Pyro grins, following along while Star looks on with mild concern...
>As you expected, the apartments' shower is a pretty small and compact affair. Pyro will likely have to stand outside of the thing while he helps you clean up. The floor will probably get wet from doing so, but that's what mops are for...
>After taking a minute to let the water warm up, you step in and let out an immense sigh as the cleansing fluid caresses your small frame. Already you can feel the soot and grime beginning to wash away, but Pyro soon ups the ante, taking a scouring brush to your back and sides, scrubbing the hard-to-reach places of their filth. It's a bit strange at first, the brush leaving the skin it scrapes over sensitive and tingling, but you get used to it quickly and relax. Once again, you feel the fangs of fatigue bite deeply into you, the rhythmic motion of Pyro's scrubbing also helping to lull you.
>Just... need to rest your eyes... for a second...
"Zzzz..." you softly snore, hilt tilting forwards into a standing sleep.
>As you drift into unconsciousness, you imagine Pyro wrapping those big, strong hooves around you and cuddling you to sleep.
>Big ponies like Star and Pyro give the best hugs...
>But then to you, almost everypony is a big pony.
>"Huh, let's get this dirty scrunchie out of your mane..." you blearily hear Pyro remark.
>Suddenly you are very, VERY awake, and snap to attention.
"Crunch!" you squeak, eyes darting around as you feel your mane spill out across your shoulders.
>The scrunchie is covered in soot, but as you snatch it away from Pyro to examine it yourself, while Pyro himself looks on in befuddlement, it appears thankfully to not be damaged... just very, very dirty... You definitely won't be able to wear it again today.
>You sigh with relief. Not that you should have expected any less. Crunch has survived worse.
"The battle scars of today shall echo in eternity," you murmur, clutching Crunch to your chest in relief. "This was the day that we found tank-shaped ice cream, tank-shaped tanks, and tank-shaped fires of doom!"
>That last one might have been from smoke inhalation, but you're going to stand by it.
>Overall, it was certainly worth wearing your lucky scrunchie today...
>"Errrr, is this something I oughta know about?" Pyro questions, his smile having become lopsided with deep confusion as he tilts his head. You notice he has actually taken a step back to give you space.
What say you, commander?
Compose ourselves. Tell him sorry but this scrunchie is VERY important to us. Thank him for being so kind to us by coming to the junkyard, fighting the fire, and even washing us. You are a good pony Pyrodex.
>You consider refusing to tell Pyro anything, but ultimately can't see a reason to withhold the information from a pony you consider a friend... other than the fact that you're absolutely dead-tired...
"Sentimental value," you respond, blushing somewhat at your outburst. "I'm sorry, but this scrunchie is VERY important to me.
>You place crunch to one side so Pyro can finish helping you get clean.
"Thankyou for being so kind to us," you add, smiling softly. "Coming to the junkyard, fighting the fire... even washing us... You are a good pony, Pyrodex."
>Now it's Pyro's turn to blush. This is probably the first time you've seen you've seen him to so.
>"Aheh. I... try my best?" he questions, rubbing the back of his neck and looking uncertain of what else to say. "Well, ummm... let's finish getting you clean!"
>Almost a little too enthusiastically, Pyro goes back to scrubbing the soot from your fur, bringing a small amount of an acrid smelling "special cleaner" to bear to remove the toughest stains... although you warn him away from using it against the grease stains on the fringes of your mane... Before too long, it's going to be hard to tell you were ever within spitting distance of a fire. Pyro, for his part, seems to be trying his best to avoid eye-contact, an uncertain look on his face.
Anything else you want to talk to Pyro about while you complete your showering, commander?
>You will never clean your waifu tenderly in your shower.
>She will never show you any gratitude for it.
>You can't help but wonder if Pyro and Thunder are (perhaps secretly?) a couple, but things are already awkward enough as they are, and right now you're just a little bit too tired to deal with any more drama. Instead, you do your best to relax and not thing about your exact circumstances too much.
>You don't quite manage to fall asleep again, but you are able to at least shut out your thoughts and focus on something less tangible, more daydreaming about being hugged by big ponies than properly dreaming it. All too soon, though, even this reverie is shattered by way of Pyro announcing that you're done. Glancing in a mirror, you note that you now look pretty darn good for a mare who just went through a fire... albeit wet, your mane stuck to your neck and tail to your leg... You do note, however, that you're still tingling all over from where Pyro took his bristly scrubbing brush to your fur, and moreso where he used his special cleaning solution. You hope it doesn't make your fur fall out...
>Drying off enough not to drip everywhere and trotting back out into the mane room, you see Star and Thunder sitting on the couch. Thunder has his hand resting on his cheek and is looking at the lanky stallion with a mixture of disbelief and bland resignation. It seems Star took the liberty of filling him in on what happened today. Hearing your hooffalls, Star cranes his neck to smile at you.
>"Hey Treads, all d..."
>He freezes, starring in disbelief at how clean you look.
>"Wow, Pyro, you did a good job!" he declares enthusiastically, hopping off the couch and trotting up for a closer look.
>"I told you I was years practiced at this stuff!" Pyro responds, puffing his chest out proudly.
>"My turn next, I guess?" Star questions.
>"Yep, follow me!" Pyro nods, leading Star into the shower.
>"Humph," Thunder sighs once the two of you are alone. "I honestly can't tell whether to be impressed, or lamenting that Pyro's insanity appears to be infectious..."
>He shakes his head, resigning himself to fate once more.
>"Welp, now that you're cleaning, can I offer you anything?" he asks, switching into the 'generic host politeness' mode that ever urbanite eventually develops as they grow up. "A drink? Food? Something to listen to?"
>He notices you yawn and chuckles.
>"A place on the couch...?" he adds.
What's your fancy, commander?
Gah! I'm here, I'm here!
"A drink and a place on the couch sounds like the best thing I've heard all day..." you smile wearily, almost stumbling towards the couch as Thunder Wing hastily rises to gi e you your space. "A juicy box and whatever you think would be a good snack for me."
>"Alright, okay..." Thunder nods, a little bit astounded by how dead-on-your-hooves you actually look.
>He goes about rummaging through the fridge while you get comfortable, just trying to stay awake long enough to eat as you rest your head on a cushion. Calling dad occurs to you, just in case you fall asleep and don't wake up again this evening, but you're a big girl (well, you aren't, but you know what you mean) and it's not unheard of for you to stay at Star's place, although that's less common than the other way around. In any case, you're certain your BPBFF will take care of you...
>"Err... well no juice boxes," Thunder announces. "But there's some leftover carrot juice and half a roll of oat biscuits. No idea what biscuits are doing in the fridge... say it with me... 'you'd have to ask Pyro...'."
>He sighs and brings you what he is offering.
>"I can't be too mad at Pyro this time, I guess," he admits. "It's not like he started the fire or anything... I still think you three are completely mad for agreeing to help fight it, though."
>As your small frame doesn't take up nearly the whole couch, Thunder places himself down at the opposite end with a drink of his own and gives you a curious loo.
>"So, are you crashing here tonight or... what?" he asks.
What say you, commander?
It fucking works!
Sorry Panzer but I get antsy when it's late and I just don't want to miss out.
Tell him we'll be leaving after Star is cleaned up. Drink some juice and just lay down for a while and fall sleep.
Aww, shucks. I appreciate that, anon.
"I plan to be leaving after Star is cleaned up," you reply. "Of course if I accidentally fall asleep I have no choice, but either way I'm not gonna be able to get far without someone to carry me."
>Someone, not somepony, you remind yourself. There is a gryphon in the room, after all...
>You drink some of the juice and, ignoring the biscuits, settle yourself down, unable to resist the urge to sleep.
>"Errmm, fair enough..." Thunder shrugs.
>You quickly dose off again, but a short time thereafter feel yourself being hauled up onto something not quite as comfortable as the couch, but still soft and warm.
>"So, to my place, Commander?" Star whispers tenderly, nuzzling your ear.
"Onward, war chariot. Star vor..." you mumble sleepily, blushing and smiling as you snuggle into your friend's upper back.
>Then you remember.
>"I think this belongs to you..." Star smiles before you can finish the thought, tucking the still-dirty scrunchie under your hooves before starting to head out of the apartment and into the early evening air.
>A steady clip-clop of hooves is broken up only by a rumbling and shuddering as Star rides the bus with your sleepy form. It seems like no time at all (unsurprising with you drifting in and out of conciousness) before Star is trotting up the garden path to his parents' place. A stout stallion about your height answers the door and grins.
>"Heeeey, there's my little stallion!" he beams, voice thick and throaty as he latches his hooves around Star's neck, nearly breaking the lanky stallion's spine in the process like he always does.
>"Akk... hey dad!" Star grimaces. "Treads and I were having an adventure and she's really tired. You mind if I put her to bed?"
>"Sure!" Star's dad replies. "Then you can tell me all about it..."
>You perceive no more as you are deposited onto soft, warm linen and drift off to a proper, deep sleep.
Roll for how long you sleep, commander:
1: You awaken within the hour.
2-3: You awaken mid-to-late evening.
4-6: You awaken around midnight.
7-8: You awaken before dawn and can't get back to sleep.
9: You sleep all evening and night and awaken the next morning, very well-rested if not over-rested.
0: Receive a random event and re-roll.
I actually decided early on that Star and Treads both still live with their parents. Dunno if that was a bad call...
>You must have been more tired out than you thought, as the entire rest of the day slips by you without you realizing. If you awoke at all during the night, it was only long enough to realize you still couldn't be bothered and go straight back to sleep, heedless of what your eyes were telling you about your surroundings. This is how it comes to pass that you finally awake properly at about 8 o'clock the next morning, yawn, rise, then groan and collapsed out of bed with a thump, clutching your belly as you are assaulted by legitimately painful hunger pangs.
>"Treads?" Star questions. "I heard a crash, are you...?"
>His eyes widen and he gallops over to your fallen form.
"Treads!" he exclaims. "Are you alright!?"
Indeed it would. You did make me laugh, though!
"Fooood!" you whine, struggling to rise.
'Before I dieeeee!' you mentally add.
>Your stomach still pangs, but it's bearable now that you're over the initial shock of it.
"Seriously, I'll be right. I just need some breakfast," you breathe, getting to your hooves while your belly gurgles intrusively. "Thankyou for carrying me and all."
>"It's what friends do, right?" Star smiles.
>That's when you notice his eyes are a little bloodshot and his smile seems forced.
>Hmm. He hasn't has his coffee yet...
>You also make a mental note to let Tradewind know what's up as soon as possible. You're supposed to head into the garage for work today and he'd be... disappointed... if you were a no-show...
>Trotting into the lightly furnished, somewhat out-of-date looking kitchen, you see Star's mother trotting around in her trademark fussy style, neatening and straightening everything as she prepares some toast including the tightly wound curlers in her mane. Her eyes widen when she turns around and sees you.
"Ah! Tread Softly!" she squeaks, actually managing to leap back a little at the sight of you. "Y-you aren't TOO hungry, are you?"
>Star just gives you the usual, 'that's my mum!' look. An acknowledging smile and roll of the eyes.
What do you fancy, commander?
"Everything..." you respond simply.
>Her face turns as white as a ghost.
"I'm sorry, but I am VERY hungry," you explain.
>"Very...? VERY hungry!? Ohho... no..."
>The mare's eyes roll over and she proceeds to faint dead-away, collapsing onto the kitchen floor like a sack of potatoes. Sighing, Star steps over his fallen mother's form, opens up a cupboard, passes you an unopened box of cereal, and then begins fanning her mother's unconscious form with a napkin.
>Just another day in the home life of Little Star...
What next, commander?
I would say not to eat Star out of house and home to be courteous, but if slightly-peckish Treads could eat a mountain of food. I don't think hunger-pained Treads would be able to hold back.
>this entire post
Got a name and colors for Star's ma and pa?
That would definitely be interesting. Maybe we can fix up a vehicle and go on a road trip arc.
I think we should eat two bowls, the rest right out of the box, get something on the way home, and a snack from home before we get to work.
I say we should name the FT Starfire.
>this gave me a feel
>for a tank
You know, I actually completely forgot that was one of the things I let you guys decide...
Wow, even got Treads' pelt colour right...
>Without hesitation, you upend the box of cereal and begin sending dozens of innocent bran flakes screaming to their deaths, all while Shining Star awakens just in time to see what your doing and have her curlers threaten to rip themselves free of her cerulean mane. The look on her face is one of indescribable horror as Little Star grabs some huge soup bowls from the cupboard and lines them up on the bench, at which point you stop eating straight from the box just long enough to fill each one with bran, followed up by milk and then yourself, ravenously gorging yourself by shoving your entire mouth in each bowl, your muzzle becoming stained with milk as an entire box of cereal and two thirds of a carton of milk disappears inside of you.
>And you aren't done yet, either, as the toast Mrs. Star was making pops up and Little Star tosses it into your mouth from across the kitchen, headless of the whimpering mess of pink mare on the floor pleading for you both to stop. It is at that point when the ironically named Big Star trots into the room and sees all the commotion... and promptly flops onto his back in a fit of uproarious laughter, brownish-gold hooves kicking in the air.
>Suddenly, Shining Star is on her hooves, eyes and nostrils flaring. By now, all her curlers are standing on end.
"That's QUITE ENOUGH breakfast, young lady!" she bellows, stomping her hoof before turning her attention to Star. "As for you... ermm, stop enabling her! G-go to your room!"
>Little Star just tilts his head while Big Star laughs even harder. It's been years since that actually worked...
>"That's QUITE ENOUGH breakfast, young lady!" she bellows, stomping her hoof before turning her attention to Star. "As for you... ermm, stop enabling her! G-go to your room!"
"Miss Star? No. It isn't."
>As for you, you're still hungry, but you decide you can always grab some more from home before heading in to help your dad at work today. While Big Star makes an awkward joke about the 'breakfast of champions', you consider your itinerary for the rest of the day. You need to decide on a name for that FT-17... Firebreaker and Starfire both seem like good options, but you're still pondering the alternatives... You also need to get in touch with Gusty so you can see if she'll be willing to shill for Burnie's business.
>Come to think of it, you never did find out just what she was doing there in the first place... Your thoughts are interrupted by the feeling of a pony scarcely larger than your size, but quite substantially stronger, throwing his hoof around your shoulder.
>"Ahahaha..." Big chortles good-natured, ribbing you in the side. "Always great to see ya, Treads! So, I hear you and Little have been REAL busy! Tanksport, 'uh? 'UH!? Haha, I'm SOOO proud of you two! Hey, you need advice on how to keep a sport's team in order and shape... just ask!"
>Despite not quite being able to live up to his name on the actual sporting field for obvious reasons, Big has made a little bit of a name for himself coaching other ponies to victory. Although seeing as he mostly coaches high school students, his opinion of his own abilities might be a tad bit over-inflated...
>"Oh, and don't let those 'sponsors' push you around..." he relates. "EVER..."
>In the background, Shining Star is lamenting having to amend her shopping list and fussily trying to get her newly-minted shambles of a kitchen back into ship-shape. In the middle of it all, Little Star is sitting at the table with one hind leg crossed over the other, very slowly knocking back a coffee. He has a victorious look about him.
Any further business to attend to here, commander?
>You remember that you also said you'd come and see the FT-17 in person (and possibly finalize the entire deal with Burnie) sometime today. Seems you have a lot on your plate, but before anything else there's work to be done at the garage. You wait patiently while Star finishes his coffee, then let him know of your itinerary for the day.
>"So you're heading to your dad's garage, then?" Star questions, grinning from ear-to-ear as his morning coffee works its magic. "I was actually thinking I might get some more studying in today. You can always ring me when you're going to the junkyard again, right?"
Sound good, commander?
Sounds good. Hug Star-folks and apologize to the Treadshocked Shining Star that we have destroyed her food yet again. To home and work!
And phone tag afterward, but seriously, home and do your work, kid.
"Sounds good," you reply with a smile.
>You give Star, then each of his parents a hug.
"I'm sorry I destroyed your food... yet again..." you chuckle, having the decency to be at least a little embarrassed.
>"O-oh... that's alright..." Shining replies, putting on a slightly strained smile as you hug. "I know how hungry you can be! Aheh!"
>She's not happy about it at all, but wants to be as goodly to her guest as she can. Big Star, as ever, is unmoved, and pulls you into a crushing hug that sees you become pleasantly light-headed from lack of air before he lets you go. You give them both an enormous smile as you heft up your saddlebag and trot out the door, looking forward to phone tag and seeing the FT-17 later today.
>Before that, though, you realize you have a decision to make. You could stop off at a fast food place or a diner for your second breakfast, or you could eat at home. Alternatively, you could do both, but either way you're certain that box of bran won't tide you over until lunch. You need more, darn it!
What'll it be, commander? Fast food or eat at home?
>You decide to go for some takeaway and begin probing the nearby streets for eateries. The first thing you find is a little corner diner with a sign on the outside that boasts of its soups.
Get some soup (or something else from the little diner) this morning, commander, or keep looking?
You raise a good point about how long it will take to eat Although, perhaps you can convince the ponies at the diner to put it in a flask. What will you do, commander?
In lieu of bumping yet again, let us talk about Treads and The Stars. I sorta see that Miss Star loving us and we possibly latched onto her when we were young, due to the whole 'mom' situation...only for her to be horrified by how much we eat.
Big Star likely helped coach our tiny horse hoofball league along with dad.
Yeah, I can see that. Of course it was nothing compared to her mom but she appreciated the affection nonetheless. Shining is likely the only female figure Treads had growing up. I feel Treads would be fairly close to Shining, though her eating habits is a rough spot.
I wonder if Treads would be much different if her mom was alive, other than being reserved. Like maybe she wouldn't have taken after her father being a mechanic. But I do like that idea of Shining trying her best to be a mother to Treads.
Okay, just to let everybody know, there won't be any posts for Galloping Steel tomorrow as I'm going to Brickvention.
>Although you'll have to eat it in, you figure that if you can knock back a box of cereal as quickly as you did, then a big bowl of soup should be no problem provided it doesn't burn you. Psyching yourself up for the self-imposed challenge, you trot confidently into the diner and approach a listless looking freckled stallion behind the counter.
>"H-hello there..." he says, sounding disinterested. "How can I help you?"
>Looking at the menu on the board behind him, you see that today's special is pumpkin soup, although you can also find a small variety of other flavors.
What's your fancy now, commander?
>The diner is quite lightly populated, but there's at least one pony who might be about your age. Nopony you recognize, though, and you can't tell if they're a college student just by looking at them.
>Regardless, you order some pumpkin soup and take a seat. Soon enough, the bowl of steaming hot orangeish goodness is brought to you. Seems they like their pumpkin soup to be thick and kinda creamy as opposed to watery.
Anything else you want to do hear while/after you eat, commander, or just ingest as hastily as possible?
Puncess Carlostia: 'I
Challengeryou to come up with better ones. Faster too; I can Type 99words per minute. I once worked for a tank manufacturers in France; I was Leclerc. Sometimes you'll find me hanging around downtown Pyongyang; usually near the appropriately phallic Tower of the Juche Idea or near one of the several statues of Chollima the pegasus. You can't miss me, I'm wearing a crop-top, black leaher miniskirt, fishnet stockings & high heels. Yes, that's right: I'm a Pokpung Ho. With said crop-top barely containing my 'attributes', I'm wont to sing ' Tanksfor the Mammaries!'
>You wise remember to blow on the soup before digging in, but once that's done you are quite able to wolf all that rich, creamy goodness down your throat in record time, licking your lips in exaggerated fashion at the rich pumpkiny taste. You dab your face with a napkin to remove the soup that didn't get in your mouth and try to ignore the pony starring at you as you pay and make your way back out onto the street.
>Another bus ride across town later and you hastily canter your way over to your house. Crunch the Scrunch was thoughtfully cleaned for you by Mrs. Star, so you could wear it to work today if you want. Alternatively, you could swap it out for a normal scrunchie while you're grabbing an extra snack.
>For has part, Tradewind seems to have already left for work. You yourself are just on the cusp of being slightly late provided you hurry.
What will you grab for third breakfast before heading out, commander? Also, change our your scrunchie?
>You hastily switch out to your work scrunchies. It's no Crunch the Scrunch, but it's a handsome little number with miniature gear motifs on it. Your ponytail isn't quite as neat as it couldn't be, but you don't have time to do a thorough job. On that same note, you grab a couple of fruits from the bowl and some buttered bread and scarf them down where you stand before cantering back out into the street, just barely remembering to lock the door behind you before rushing over to your dad's place of work.
>You're about ten minutes late when you arrive at the garage, and already you can see a car or two in there being worked on. You dad quickly catches sight of you and waves you in.
>The workplace itself is a spacious line of garages running perpendicular to the main street (giving the lot a relatively narrow facade out onto the road, making it surprisingly easy to miss if not for the enormous sign out front with the massive inflatable wrench dad loves so much) tucked away between a bathroom fittings store and a currently vacant lot that used to be a lumber yard. You're quick to skitter under the cover of the building's shadow where the work is taking place.
>"You're late, Treads," Tradewind notes, easily detecting the haste with which you have rushed over. "What happened?"