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Stiller Jäger, Manos' Kaleun

U-Boat_Anon Oct 18th, 2017 (edited) 538 Never
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  1. To preface, this begins when the war between the Reich and Equestria first begins.
  2.  
  3. >You are Stiller Jäger, an officer in the Reich's "navy" (apparently Manos thought it necessary for a landlocked nation to have a naval branch)
  4. >Before you joined the Black Hands, you were part of Equestria's illustrious navy, serving as a commander aboard one of their finest warships, the Sun Ray
  5. >today, however, you are little more than a uniformed desk ornament, writing up contingencies for a nonexistent navy
  6. >your job has become significantly more significant since the war has begun, however
  7. >with the war, come the prospects of finally gaining access to the ocean
  8. >a few days ago, you managed to overhear some Hand officers talking about taking Vanhoover
  9. >since then, you have been meeting with Honor Bound about all kinds of designs you'd come up with in your downtime
  10. "You see, with this weapon, we could completely destroy the Equestrian merchant navy with only 1/8 of the cost for an equivalent surface force!"
  11. >He may think he hides it well, but you can tell that Honor doesn't take you as seriously as he should...
  12. >"Very well, Stiller, I'll grant you permission to produce a prototype, but you'll have to find somewhere to test it yourself."
  13. >Ah, yes, the testing will be the hardest part. Where are you to find an open body of water in the arctic north?
  14. To preface, this begins when the war between the Reich and Equestria first begins.
  15.  
  16. >Now, with Honors permission and a large shop for your prototype, you set out with your new team to begin work on your first prototype, your team consisting of:
  17. >Strong Bow, a female unicorn from Canterlot, who left for the Reich after being harassed by Royalists for following the teachings of Lord Manos; she had been a naval scientist who specialized in shipbuilding materials.
  18. >Quiet Runner, a male earth pony from Vanhoover who had been working on unconventional means of propulsion for ships. He moved to the Reich for job opportunities when he learned of the Reich's mobile weapons of war, and is now working on adapting the Reich's engines to other platforms, as well as designing new ones.
  19. >and finally, there's First Strike, a female unicorn from Ponyville, who had previously worked for the Royal Navy, for which she had designed weapons.
  20.  
  21. >Your workshop, which sits opposite of Franziska's, has been virtually untouched since the day it was first built. This workshop has always been intended for naval prototypes, but it never had a reason to be used until now.
  22. >You had sent copies of your design to each of your team members several days prior to allow them time to develop ideas before your first meeting, which is today.
  23. >as you all take your seats at a conference table shoved into a small meeting room, Quiet Runner is the first to begin proposing ideas
  24. >"I'm sure you've already though of this Herr Jäger, but this vehicle cannot run on our current engines, as they require oxygen, and this vehicle must be able to operate while submerged.
  25. >you nod
  26. "That's correct, Runner. This particular problem is why you are here; so, what have you come up with?"
  27. >"Well, I'm glad you asked!"
  28. >Runner reaches down into a briefcase he had brought along, and pulls from it several massive papers etched with schematics
  29. >as he flattens one out on the table, he points to what you assume is supposed to be the rear of the ship.
  30. >"My plan is to install two kinds of engines on this vessel. One will provide power while on the surface, when oxygen is available; and the other will provide power when the vessel is submerged, when oxygen is not available."
  31. >"The surface engine will simply be an enlarged version currently employed in the 'tanks', as Manos calls them. The submerged engine will be a completely original design which will run off of rechargeable magic battery cells. While the ship is surfaced, a duo of unicorns will recharge these batteries while the other engines are active."
  32. >moving his hooves away from the schematics at which he had been pointing, Runner sits up, seemingly having finished.
  33. "An ingenious solution, Runner. I'll leave you in charge of producing prototypes of these engines."
  34. >"Thank you, Herr Jäger."
  35.  
  36. >I now turn to face Strong Bow
  37. "Well, what have you come up with?"
  38. >she too pulls out several schematics, this time focusing on the hull of the boat
  39. >"Well, I surmised that this vessel will be required to submerge to a level at which it can pass under most ship's keels,"
  40. >she looks up at me
  41. >"so I've looked over your designs, and found that you have not designed the boat to have enough pressure to handle much depth lower than 40 meters."
  42. >she sits back
  43. >"As such, I've redesigned the outer hull to be stronger, so that the boat should be able to reach 70 meters with ease."
  44. >I give her a crooked smirk
  45. "Less than an hour on the job, and already upstaging your superior?"
  46. >everyone chuckles
  47. "In all honesty, the boat should never need to go deeper than just below the surface, but it's never a bad idea to have greater depth ratings, in case of an emergency."
  48. >Bow nods
  49. >"Exactly, if the boat is damaged and begins to sink, it won't be crushed right away, giving precious time for repairs."
  50. >having finished her part, Bow puts away her papers
  51. "Thank you for the corrections, Bow."
  52. >she smiles
  53. >I now gaze over at First Strike
  54.  
  55. >finally, you address the final member of the team, First Strike
  56. "I hope you've an idea for some kind of armament, because I honestly have no idea."
  57. >Strike grins widely
  58. >"You bet your lucky horseshoes I've got an idea!
  59. >reaching into his satchel, she pulls out now papers, but a metal object
  60. >you glance around, Runner and Bow both look confused and curious
  61. "What is that, Strike?"
  62. >she grins even wider
  63. >"It's a gyroscope!"
  64. >when she sees that you are all still extremely confused, she continues
  65. >"It's to keep the torpedo on course."
  66. >the confused looks don't leave
  67. >she groans and then pulls out a schematic of a long tube-like thing
  68. >"a torpedo is a self-propelled body with an explosive warhead at the front
  69. >she continues to explain
  70. >"it would be launched from the front of the boat, and travel under the water until it hits the enemy ship, at which point it explodes, leaving a large hole."
  71. "And the gyroscope...."
  72. >"Keeps it on target. We'd have to calculate where the ship would be when the torpedo would reach it, and fire the torpedo to that location,"
  73. >as she finishes, the confused looks turn to understanding
  74. "the gyroscope makes sure it doesn't stray from this path."
  75. >Bow is the first to ask the obvious question
  76. >>"How will the torpedo reach the enemy ship? What will move it?"
  77. >Strike holds her hoof up
  78. >"I was about to get to that. The torpedo will be propelled by compressed air, which will be used to turn a small propeller on the back of the weapon."
  79. "A marvelous solution, Strike; when we get some workers transferred from Franziska's department, we'll test your designs first. I can imagine that they'd be useful on other platforms as well."
  80. >Strike bows her head slightly
  81. >"Thank you, Herr Jäger."
  82. >you sit back in your chair
  83. "Now that we all know each other, It's time for us to get to work."
  84. >you turn to address Bow once more
  85. "I want you to begin work on a testable scale model of the boat's hull which will accurately allow us to test depth tolerances."
  86. >you address Runner
  87. "I want you to begin work on your design, I want you to built a device which will show we can actually store magic before we begin mass-production.
  88. >he nods
  89. "And Strike, I want you to work with Bow to make space for a firing station and storage space for your 'torpedoes' on this vessel. Once that is done, get some workers to assist you in building a prototype."
  90. >she grins once more before nodding
  91. >you stand and address the entire group
  92. "Once we have access to a port city, we'll unleash these wonder weapons against those damned  Royalists, and bring this war to a swift end. Without their precious navy, they'll have no way getting help from their allies."
  93.  
  94. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  95.  
  96. >you are First Strike
  97. >for several weeks now, you have been working with over a dozen workers in order to create your first torpedo prototype
  98. >due to time constraints imposed by Herr Jäger, you have had to cut a few corners
  99. >for example, many of the drive components were made of materials inferior to what you envisioned, which will most likely reduce efficiency
  100. >plus, you didn't have enough time to mount an actual warhead in the nose
  101. >to substitute the weight of the warhead, you've simply filled it with the equivalent weight in rocks
  102. >on the flip-side however, you've also improved the design during it's construction
  103. >for example, you discovered that mounting a second, contra-rotating propeller, would increase the weapon's speed significantly
  104. >overall, your first prototype should suffice to impress Herr Jäger.
  105. >for the test, you've had dozens of volunteer Brownshirts dig a long and wide trench outside of the city, which was then flooded with water
  106. >for a target, a simple wooden plank with a target painted on it is placed at the far end of the trench
  107. >just as the target is secured in place, Herr Jäger arrives with his entourage
  108. >you salute him before noticing he has a guest
  109. >Honor Bound steps in front of Herr Jäger
  110. >"It's a pleasure to finally meet one of the bright minds assigned to this project"
  111. "Herr Honor Bound; I wasn't expecting your presence for this demonstration, sir!"
  112. >Honor Bound waves his hoof nonchalantly
  113. >"I'm always eager to see new projects not of my own creation. Besides,"
  114. >he leans in closer to you, and speaks low
  115. >"I and the Reich have invested a great deal into this project, and we expect results..."
  116. >you swallow the lump building in your throat and hold your head high
  117. "You shall have your results!"
  118. >turning away from Honor, you grimace to yourself
  119. >that pompous oaf wants results? he'll get his results...
  120. >walking over to the pit adjacent to the trench, you look down to see your technicians awaiting your orders
  121. >they sit beside a large metal tube, which opens into the trench
  122. >inside this tube is the torpedo, waiting to be fired
  123. "We've got higher-ups here today, so let's give them our best!"
  124. >your technicians salute
  125. >"Heil!"
  126. >you shout over to the group several yards away
  127. "Gather 'round! We're about to start!"
  128. >Jäger, Honor, and the rest of the group move to stance besides the pit as well
  129. "This tube would be only one of four located at the front of the vessel"
  130. >you point across to the other end of the trench
  131. "That target represents an enemy vessel, most likely some kind of merchant ship carrying war supplies"
  132. >you continue
  133. "Unfortunately, we did not have time to mount an explosive in the weapon, so there will not be an explosion, this is merely a test of the weapon's accuracy."
  134. >you signal one of the technicians down in the pit
  135. >he nods and moves to a series of dials
  136. "Target at 0 degrees, stationary!"
  137. >he turns several of the dials
  138. >>"Torpedo set!"
  139. >you look back to Jäger, who gives you a small smile before nodding
  140. "Fire!"
  141. >the second technician pulls a large lever
  142. >a loud hiss is heard as the torpedo leaves the tube at high speeds
  143. >>"Torpedo away!"
  144. >several of Jäger's entourage had jumped at the sound of the hiss, but are now all watching entently
  145. >a trail of white bubbles follow the torpedo as it speeds towards it's target
  146. >after several seconds, the torpedo reaches it's target
  147. CLUNK
  148. >it impacts right on the red dot in the center of the target before sinking to the bottom of the trench
  149. >as you once more turn to face your audience, many of them start clapping
  150. >among them is Herr Jäger, who walks up to you
  151. >"Very impressive, Strike! When can we expect a full demonstration?
  152. >you beam at his praise
  153. "I'd say within two weeks, all that needs to be done is we need to mount a proper warhead and swap out parts for the drive system"
  154. >Honor Bound walks up to you both
  155. >>"Most impressive, Fraulein Strike, but I'm disappointed that we weren't treated to a full demonstration today."
  156. >For the love of Manos, does this pony ever show gratitude?
  157. "As I stated, Honor, we were subjected to time constraints..."
  158. >he waves his hoof
  159. >>"Regardless, I expect a report on the development of this weapon. I shall present said report to Lord Manos himself in three weeks time."
  160. >you give Honor a VERY slight bow
  161. "Of course sir."
  162. >he turns and begins to walk back towards the city
  163. >over time, the entourage of officers take their leave
  164. >eventually your technicians take their leave as well
  165. >all that remains is your team
  166. >you are congratulated once more by Bow and Runner, before Jäger begins to speak
  167.  
  168. >you are Stiller Jäger
  169. >during the demonstration, you noticed that Honor Bound looked very off
  170. >as though he were planning something
  171. >it's official, you no longer trust him
  172. >no time for that now, you begin to speak to your team
  173. "Now that we've proven ourselves to Honor and the military high command, it would seem that we now have more freedom to work free of outside influence
  174. >this seems to especially please Bow and Strike
  175. "I've just been assured by multiple generals that they will make sure that we no longer have any shortages again, be they material or manpower"
  176. >you gesture to Strong Bow
  177. "Bow here had successful tests with her models, and is currently working on a full scale prototype."
  178. >you now question both Strike and Runner
  179. "Will your prototypes be ready to be mounted on this prototype by the end of next month?"
  180. >they both salute you and answer simultaneously
  181. >"of course, Herr Jäger!"
  182. >you turn and gaze off into the horizon, towards Vanhoover, as the sun begins to set, painting the mountains a beautiful orange
  183. "Good. We'll need to be ready..."
  184. >Runner steps forward to stand beside you looking off into the distance
  185. >>"Why is that, Herr Jäger?
  186. >as Bow and Strike join you by your side, you speak to all of them
  187. "Because Lord Manos is going to attack Vanhoover soon..."
  188.  
  189. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  190.  
  191. >you are Stiller Jäger
  192. >after much hard work, the first prototype is ready
  193. >as a team you've decided to name it the 'U-Boat', a shortened version of 'Unseen Boat'
  194. >you and your team are celebrating at a small table which had been moved into a corner of your workshop
  195. >at the moment, you're all discussing the past
  196. >apparently, Honor had been planning steal the credit for your hard work, but he was dismissed from his position as Head of Research and Development on the very same day he planned to present his fabricated files to Lord Manos
  197. >unfortunately, he was promoted to Reichsmarschall, which means he'll still be your boss when you take command of the U-Boats once they're active
  198. >on the flip-side, Franziska is a much better head of R&D, as she doesn't meddle with your work, and overall allows much more creativity
  199. >as Runner talks about his antics during the construction of his batteries, you look over at the massive boat still sitting in the workshop
  200. >the large machine sits upon a custom-build trailer designed to be able to both move it to a port, and release it directly into water
  201. >the poor thing will probably be sitting in here collecting dust for several months...
  202. >from what you've heard, the battle for Vanhoover began almost a week ago, but it sounds like the city is taking heavy damage
  203. >that most likely includes the ports, which will take time to repair
  204. >you sigh as you turn to return to the conversation at hand
  205. >as you do so, the door at the far end of the shop opens, and a brownshirt walks in
  206. >she takes a moment to take in the sight of the boat before continuing towards your table
  207. >when she reaches you, she salutes
  208. >"Herr Jäger, we've received word that Lord Manos has taken to the field in Vanhoover. The port is protected by a shield, and will remain as such until the battle is won by our Lord."
  209.  
  210. >you are Strong Bow
  211. >and you are exhausted
  212. >you and your team have just finished building the prototype, and already you are all heading out to Vanhoover with the U-Boat in tow
  213. >along with the four of you, are seven fresh recruits from the brand new naval school, making your crew total at eleven ponies
  214. >pulling the boat is one of those 'tank' prototypes that were made before the main production variants
  215. >inside the boat, you all get comfortable, as it will be some time before you reach the city
  216. >the interior of the boat is broken up into five sections
  217. >the torpedo room, the officer bunks, the command center, the crew bunks, and the engine room
  218. >above the command center is the bridge, which sits on top of the hull
  219. >currently, you are sitting on your bunk in the officer section, noting how bare the interior of the boat is, since you left before furnishing was completed
  220. >with you are your fellow officers and Herr Jäger, all at their respective bunks
  221. >the awkward silence is only perpetuated occasional bumps in the road as the boat lumbers towards it's destination
  222. >turning your attention from the roof of the boat, you look over to Herr Jäger, who is lying on his back
  223. >you'd never admit it to any of the other officers, but you thought he was handsome
  224. >you notice how he has his cap over his face, but he doesn't breath deeply, letting you know he is in fact awake
  225. >you also note how his grey fur-covered legs are crossed
  226. >having had enough of the silence, you speak
  227. "Herr Jäger?"
  228. >Jäger perks his ears before removing his hat from his face and rolling onto his stomach to look at you
  229. >"Yes Bow?"
  230. >well, you have his attention, no turning back now...
  231. "What does your name mean?"
  232. >your captain raises his eyebrows, apparently surprised by your question
  233. >you quickly glance over to Runner's and Striker's bunks before returning your gaze to Jäger
  234. >apparently they are just as interested in the question as you are, as they have stuck their heads out from their bunks, and are now also looking at the captain
  235. >Jäger notices this as well
  236. >he doesn't build up the moment, and answers plainly
  237. >"my name means 'Silent Hunter'
  238. >he moves to flip over once more, but you stop him
  239. "What did you do before The Reich?"
  240. >Jäger sighs before sitting up and swinging his legs out so the hang over the side of the bunk
  241. >he places his cap on his lap
  242. >"Before I came to the Reich, I was a member of the Royal Navy"
  243. >Runner and Strike begin to murmur to one another
  244. >"I was a commander aboard the Sun Ray, the finest vessel in said Navy."
  245. >he pauses for a moment
  246. >"When my religious loyalty to Lord Manos became known, I was expelled from the vessel and the Navy by the captain of the Sun Ray."
  247. >you gasp
  248. >Jäger cocks a brow at you
  249. >you blush when you notice his gaze as well as Runner's and Strike's gazes
  250. "I came to the Reich because I too was a victim of religious persecution."
  251. >Jäger nods in understanding before continuing
  252. >"Disgraced and stripped of my rank and uniform, I trekked to the Reich in hopes of a better life, one where I could serve my Lord"
  253. >he smiles bit
  254. >"Until we started this project, I was little more than a desk jockey for a nonexistent navy"
  255. >his eyes widen with realization
  256. >"A navy which didn't exist until we finished work on this vessel..."
  257.  
  258. >you are Quiet Runner
  259. >Jäger is telling your group about his origins with the Reich
  260. >you are currently thinking about his statement about this boat being the Reich's first naval vessel when he breaks your train of thought
  261. >"Alright, I've told you all about myself. Runner, tell us about you."
  262. >you weren't prepared for him to address you
  263. "Huh? Oh, tell you guys about me? Ummmm..."
  264. >you try to think of something to say
  265. "Well, uh, I used to do pretty much the same thing back when I was with the Royals.."
  266. >Bow cocks a brow
  267. "What I mean is that I did work with the Royal Navy on finding alternatives means of propulsion, basically something other than wind power."
  268. >you try to avoid looking at Jäger and Strike when you say the next part
  269. "I've never really been a follower of Manos' religion; I came to the Reich mainly for work opportunities after I heard about the powerplant used in Manos' tanks."
  270. >Bow seems angry
  271. >>"What do you mean you're 'not a follower'? How could you no-"
  272. >she is cut off by Jäger
  273. >"I'm sure that Runner is loyal to the Reich nonetheless..."
  274. >he says this with a hint of warning to Bow
  275. >she is quick to correct herself
  276. >>"Of course... sorry about that Runner.."
  277. >you breath a mental sigh of relief
  278. "Uhhh, how about you, Strike? What's your story?"
  279.  
  280. >you are First Strike
  281. >all of the sudden, all attention is on you
  282. >unlike Runner, you've mentally prepared yourself
  283. "Like everyone else here, I used to be a part of the Royal Navy."
  284. >no surprised faces here
  285. "I designed weapons for the Navy, my main achievement being the current broadside cannons that the Combat Fleet is equipped with."
  286. >you see the lingering question in Bow's eyes
  287. "I came to the Reich because I could begin to see the seams holding Equestria together begin to fray."
  288. >Bow leans in
  289. "And I could see the order within the Reich, and heard Manos' promise of a better future."
  290. >Jäger nods before speaking
  291. >"Alright, now that we all know each other's stories, let's get some sle-"
  292. >he is cut off as one of the sailors walks into the room
  293. >>"Herr Jäger, we've reached Vanhoover."
  294.  
  295. >you are Stiller Jäger
  296. >you and your crew are quick to climb the ladder to the bridge, eager to escape the cramped conditions of the U-Boat
  297. >you are the first to reach the top, and quickly open the hatch to the bridge
  298. >as you climb through the small space, you look up to see the barrel of a pistol pointed at your face
  299. >fearing for your life, you look up to see who is holding the gun
  300. >a Black Hand
  301. >a Black Hand is pointing a gun at you...
  302. >angrily, you push the gun away from your face and climb out of the boat
  303. "What in Manos' name do you think you're doing?!"
  304. >the Hand is surprised by your reaction
  305. >"We, uh, we're confiscating your.... whatever, and placing you under arrest."
  306. >you stand to your full height, putting you an inch or two above the offending Hand
  307. "I am Captain Stiller Jäger of the Reichsmarine, and we are here under orders from R&D
  308. >the Hand laughs
  309. >"Marine? what Marine? We haven't any vessels!"
  310. >you hold your head high
  311. "You're standing on the first one, Hand."
  312. >this seems to take the wind out of his sails
  313. >after arguing with the Hand for some time, you are informed that the battle for the city is still raging
  314. >unable to waste time, you instruct the Hand to guard the vessel with your enlisted sailors
  315. >you walk over to your officers
  316. "The city is not yet taken..."
  317. >Strike is the first to speak
  318. >>"What are we to do, then?"
  319. >you smirk at her
  320. "Simple, we help take it"
  321.  
  322. >you are First Strike
  323. >normally, you love violence, but this is ridiculous
  324. >the Captain was quick to instruct you, Bow, and Runner to follow him into the city
  325. >granted, he allowed time to arm yourselves with swords and pistols
  326. >as you walk past the first buildings on the outskirts of the city, you note how little damage they seem to have sustained, some buildings even seeming untouched
  327. >you think aloud
  328. "Repairs shouldn't take too long..."
  329. >Bow decides to add some input
  330. >"Speaking of repairs, have any of you heard anything about how Lord Manos intends to rebuild Ponyville?"
  331. >you flinch slightly
  332. >it's hard to think about your now destroyed home
  333. >nevertheless, you respond
  334. "I've heard rumors that he plans to rebuild it even better than it was before; with a brand new kind of architectural style."
  335. >before anyone else can contribute, a loud crash is heard from the inside of a house as you pass it
  336. >Jäger signals for everyone to stop
  337. >quietly, he whispers
  338. >>"Take cover behind that cart and wait until I return."
  339. >he points to the cart in question before creeping through the open door of the house
  340. >you, Runner and Bow take cover as instructed
  341. >several minutes pass with no noise
  342. >you begin to worry about your captain
  343. >what if he was ambushed?
  344. >your thoughts are interrupted as Bow speaks
  345. >"I'm going in after him."
  346. >before you can tell her no, you all begin to hear yelling from inside the house
  347. >you all stand from behind your cover as a royal guard is thrown out the door
  348. >he impacts hard against the cobblestone street
  349. >from the darkness of the house, Jäger steps out onto the street, sword drawn
  350. >as the guard attempts to scramble to his feet, the captain speaks
  351. >>"Restrain him!"
  352.  
  353. >you are Strong Bow
  354. >you and your fellow officers don't hesitate before rushing over and tackling the guard as he attempt to escape
  355. >as the guard attempts to wriggle himself free, Jäger speaks to you
  356. >"Bow, would you hold him in place for me?"
  357. >you blush
  358. >he asked YOU to hold the guard as opposed to Strike
  359. "Of course sir"
  360. >your horn glows, and the guard stops wriggling
  361. >Runner and Strike removes themselves from him, and step back
  362. >Jäger steps forward and stares down at the now helpless guard
  363. >he stares for a few seconds before reaching into his jacket and pulls out a folded piece of paper
  364. >he unfolds it to reveal a map of the city
  365. >once more reaching into his pocket, he also retrieves a pen
  366. >kneeling down, he holds the pen in front of the guard's mouth
  367. >"Open."
  368. >a simple command, one which the guard hesitates to obey
  369. >"Now."
  370. >the guard does as he is told, and opens his mouth
  371. >Jäger places the pen in the guard's mouth
  372. >he then holds the map in front of the guard's face
  373. >"You are going to use that pen to mark this map"
  374. >confusion crosses through the guard's eyes
  375. >"You are going to mark every house which contains guards just like you."
  376. >the guard's eyes show defiance, but this doesn't faze the captain
  377. >"If you do not, I will personally disembowel you with this,"
  378. >he pats his saber
  379. >"and hang you from that lamppost,"
  380. >he points down the street
  381. >"as an example to all your comrades."
  382. >fear now shines in his eyes
  383. >"However, if you cooperate, you will be taken as a prisoner of war, and no harm will come to you."
  384. >before Jäger can continue, the guard leans his head forward and begins to mark multiple X marks on the paper
  385. >the captain closes his eyes and sighs
  386. >"That wasn't so hard, was it?"
  387. >you can't tell if he's talking to the guard, or to himself
  388.  
  389. >you are First Strike
  390. >once the guard had finished marking the paper, he was taken back to the boat, where he was taken into custody by the Black Hands there
  391. >now, however, you are back in the city with your fellow officers
  392. >Jäger eventually admitted that he's just trying to clear a path to the port
  393. >you have been put in charge of giving directions after the captain gave you a second map of the city
  394. >you're trying your best, but the Vanhoover's layout isn't the best...
  395. "It looks like we'll get there sooner if we cut through the park in the city center"
  396. >while you will occasionally get concerned looks from Runner and Bow, Jäger just keeps his head forward, seemingly completely confident in his decision to give you the map
  397. >he really is an odd character, he doesn't act at all like your previous commander
  398. >they had all been controlling and micro-managing
  399. >but Jäger has only ever given loose orders, trusting his crew's ability to complete tasks at their own discretion
  400. >the fact that his trust has not yet been misplaced bolsters your confidence
  401. "The park is right in front of us, past this treeline."
  402. >as the group is about to pass through the treeline, voices can be heard, causing Jäger to signal for a stop
  403. >as you focus, you can make out what the voices are saying
  404. >"Anonymous."
  405. >huh? Who is 'Anonymous'?
  406. >before you can give it any thought, another voice
  407. >>"Its Manos, Celestia. it has been since I gave my life for the safety of these ponies, and so it will remain."
  408. >your eyes widen, and you stick your face through the bushes, allowing you to see into the park
  409.  
  410. >you are Stiller Jäger
  411. >you can't believe what you're hearing
  412. >like Strike, you stick your face through the bushes, allowing you to see what is transpiring
  413. >Runner and Bow follow suit
  414. >at the center of the park stand two figures
  415. >both tall
  416. >one white
  417. >one black
  418. >you instantly recognize one as your former Princess, and the other as your Führer
  419. >Manos is facing away from you, while you can make out Celestia's face rather well
  420. >she seems distressed
  421. >Manos holds himself like someone who's in charge
  422. >Celestia speaks
  423. >"Anonymous, you pass judgement on others without taking the time to see the consequences of your own actions. You have lied and deceived ponies, some of which I may never share a bond with again."
  424. >her face emotes both anger and sadness at the same time before reverting back to a calm state
  425. >"even so, some of your words have truth in them, perhaps I have made a few mistakes with my ponies."
  426. >Manos is quick to reply
  427. >>"Its a little late for apologi-"
  428. >but he is cut off by a now VERY loud princess
  429. >"This is no apology Anonymous!"
  430. >it is only when they flinch that you notice all the Black Hands and Royal Guards also present in the park
  431. >even Commander Cadence is here!
  432. >as Manos and Celestia continue to talk, she is suddenly attacked by Cadence and one of those new 'operator' ponies
  433. >as she lies on the ground, still pinned by the armored pony, Manos suddenly fires his pistol and speaks
  434. >>"Well Celestia? Your ponies await your decision."
  435. >wait, is what you think is happening, actually happening?
  436. >Celestia hesitates before responding in a defeated tone
  437. >"Anonymous, I surrender myself to you not for myself, but for my ponies."
  438. >you hear Bow inhale sharply next to you, and swiftly cover her mouth with your hoof
  439. >Manos declares, after an uncomfortable pause
  440. >>"You have made the right choice."
  441.  
  442. >you are Quiet Runner
  443. >turns out that Celestia only surrendered herself
  444. >bummer, you were honestly hoping that the war would be over
  445. >as the excitement in the park dies down, Jäger suddenly moves from the bushes and into the park itself
  446. >you whisper loudly at him
  447. "Captain, what are you doing?!"
  448. >he turns back to look at you
  449. >"We're soldiers of the Reich, just like those Black Hands in there; come on!"
  450. >Bow is quick to follow Jäger into the park
  451. >you and Strike share a glance before exiting the bushes at the same time
  452. >as you once more follow your captain, you notice how close your group is to Manos and his entourage
  453. >you can imagine that the captain wishes desperately to worship his Lord, but he doesn't show signs of any such desires
  454. >Bow, on the other hand, is chanting quietly as you near the group
  455. >>"He is Fate, and we are his faithful Hands..."
  456. >she chants this repeatedly
  457. >Manos, who seems about to leave the park, suddenly turns his gaze towards your group
  458. >Jäger stops, and the group does the same
  459. >Manos first takes in the sight of this new group, as if evaluating you
  460. >and then looks directly at you
  461. >more specifically, right into your eyes...
  462.  
  463. >you are Stiller Jäger
  464. >after the Princess surrendered, the enemy retreated from the city
  465. >essentially making the rest of your quest to the port unnecessary, as the shield was lowered shortly afterwards
  466. >so, instead of going to the port first, you've taken your group back to retrieve the U-Boat
  467. >as you exit the city, and the boat comes into view, you take a moment to take in it's image
  468. >as the sun sets, the shiny hull of the vessel reflects what's left of the sun's beams, making it appear almost like a beacon of some sort
  469. >continuing to the boat, you are greeted by the same Hand who had nearly shot you earlier
  470. >"Back already, captain?"
  471. >you don't pay much attention to him, but you do answer
  472. "The battle is over; we're taking the boat to the port."
  473. >he nods
  474. >"My men and I will escort you; you never know how many soldiers will refuse to retreat."
  475. >you thank him before rounding up all of your men back into the boat
  476. >the trip through the city isn't exactly easy, simply navigating the boat around corners is a challenge
  477. >but you eventually make it to the port
  478. >and it is here that you once again come across your Lord
  479.  
  480. >you are still Stiller Jäger
  481. >Manos is with his bodyguards at a pier, where it seems a Royal vessel has just docked
  482. >though there is a significant distance between your boat and the pier in question, you aren't the only one to notice him
  483. >behind you, you can hear low chanting in two different voices
  484. >one voice obviously belongs to Bow, but the other belongs to.....
  485. >you turn your head to look behind you
  486. >Runner?
  487. >with his head bowed, he prays with Bow
  488. >"He is Fate, and we are his faithful Hands."
  489. >odd, but you don't have time to worry about that
  490. >not wanting to disturb Bow and Runner, you turn to Strike
  491. "Prepare to unlatch us from the trailer, once we're turned around, we're going in next to that pier
  492. >you point to the open pier next to the one where Manos is located
  493. "We're going to show our Lord what his faithful hands are capable of building."
  494. >your statement causes Bow to break her prayer and look back over to Manos once more
  495. >she looks like a school-filly who is scared to share a presentation with her class
  496. "We've spent months on this project, it's time to show it off."
  497. >after several minutes of maneuvering, your towing tank has the boat in position next to the Royal ship
  498. >which is apparently called the 'Shining Seapony'
  499. >you grab your cap and secure it on your head before checking to make sure that your uniform is as clean as can be
  500. >you know, given that you've just partaken in one of the biggest battles of the war thusfar
  501. >once you're satisfied with your uniform, you double check everything that needs to be done before you are dumped into the water
  502. >everything checks out
  503. >looking over the edge of the bridge, down to the ground, you wave to the ponies standing by a large crank on the trailer
  504. "We're ready!"
  505. >they nod before beginning to turn the crank
  506. >slowly, the stern of the boat rises higher into the air and does so until the crank stops turning
  507. >you breathe deeply, and exhale before once more yelling down to the ponies
  508. "LAUNCH!"
  509.  
  510. >you are Strong Bow
  511. >"LAUNCH!"
  512. >well, time to see if your design for the hull does it's job...
  513. >one of the ponies on the ground pulls a lever on the boat's trailer
  514. >with a mighty lurch, the boat begins to slide into the water
  515. >it displaces much water and splashes a lot onto the pier itself
  516. >the sudden commotion draws attention from the ponies (and human) on the Shining Seapony
  517. >the bodyguards turn to look at the spectacle
  518. >as does Lord Manos, who had seems to have been about to speak with the captain of the vessel
  519. >your breath catches in your throat
  520. >he first watches as the boat settles into place, before looking at the crew
  521. >and you
  522. >when he sees you, he gives a small nod and the faintest hint of a smile before turning to face the captain of the Seapony once more
  523. >you free breath you had been holding
  524. >after calming yourself, you notice that you are in fact still afloat
  525. >however, looks can be deceiving
  526. >you yell down into the boat through the open hatchway in the floor
  527. "Any flooding down there?"
  528. >>"None! We're completely dry down here!"
  529. >you smile
  530. >as you look up from the hatchway, you are greeted by Captain Jäger, who is holding his right hoof out to you
  531. >"So far, this boat is performing even better than I had expected; congratulations Bow."
  532. >you can feel your face burning, but you hold your head high as you too extend your right hoof and shake his
  533. "Thank you,
  534. >you can't help the sultry tone that slips into what you say next
  535. "Stiller."
  536. >he stops shaking your hoof
  537. >Oh Manos, what have you done?!
  538. >how could you be so stupid as to call him by his first na-
  539. >"You're welcome,"
  540. >he gives you a knowing smirk
  541. >"Strong."
  542.  
  543. >you are Stiller Jäger
  544. >well, that was fun
  545. >you must have really embarrassed Bow, as she was quick to excuse herself down into the hull of the boat after your reply
  546. >noticing that the boat has been in the water for some time now, you move to a metal tube at the front of the bride
  547. >the tube is a primitive means of communication, as you couldn't get your hooves on those crystals that the Black Hand commanders use
  548. >you look up before issuing your orders
  549. >before you is a vast ocean glowing in the dimming light of the setting sun
  550. >you smile
  551. >you may not have realized it before, but your whole life really has been leading up to this moment
  552. >you move your face closer to the tube
  553. "Bridge to Command Center, set heading to 0 degrees"
  554. >after a few seconds, Bow responds
  555. >"Heading set, captain
  556. >she still sounds so embarrased
  557. >cute
  558. >once more, you speak into the tube
  559. "Bridge to Engine Room, ahead slow"
  560. >as with the command center, a few seconds pass before you get a response
  561. >>"Aye Captain."
  562. >several suspenseful seconds go by before the boat slowly begins to move forward
  563. >behind you, you can hear Strike begin to hum a tune
  564. >you recognize it immediately and begin to hum as well
  565. >suddenly, Runner starts singing the lyrics
  566. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_J1sOO5FQY [Embed]
  567. >before long, everyone on the bridge is singing, once more drawing the attention of the soldiers on the Seapony, who seem baffled by the ship moving with no sails
  568. >apparently, the crew inside the ship must have heard you, because you can now hear singing coming through the tube
  569. >as you shoot a glance back over to the Seapony, you can see that everyone on board is watching your crew make a spectacle of themselves
  570. >all except for Lord Manos and the captain, who are staring intently at each other, unmoving
  571. >weird
  572. >turning back, you grip the front of the bridge as you briefly stop singing to issue an order
  573. "Bridge to Engine Room, increase speed to 'ahead full'!
  574.  
  575. >you are Quiet Runner
  576. >the boat has been at sea for several hours now
  577. >you've been working on small fixes in the engine room since you've started your journey
  578. >mainly tightening loose wires and making sure the fuel engine is running properly
  579. >sure enough, it hasn't had any problems thus far
  580. >after checking the engine one last time, you stand and stretch before walking over to the door which leads into the crew quarters
  581. >as you reach your hoof out to turn the door handle, a voice comes through the metal tube next to the door
  582. >"Bridge to Engine Room, we're preparing to dive, stand by for battery tests"
  583. >you sigh before looking at the clock above the door
  584. >11:10
  585. "Engine Room to Bridge, we're ready for battery tests"
  586.  
  587. >you are Strong Bow
  588. >and you are nervous
  589. >not because you're about to make your first dive
  590. >but because Jäger is descending the ladder from the bridge along with Strike and two watch ponies
  591. >you attempt to avoid his attention by sitting at your station and trying to look busy
  592. >alas, it is to no avail
  593. >he walks up behind you and places a hoof on your shoulder
  594. >the now familiar burning sensation returns to your face
  595. >how much fun is he having doing this to you, you wonder
  596. >of course, he does more than just touch your shoulder
  597. >he leans in to speak into your left ear
  598. >"Are we ready to dive, Fraulein Bow?"
  599. >you can tell he has that stupid smirk on his face again
  600. >even if it's obviously fake, you decide to try and put on an air of confidence
  601. "Yes we are, Herr Jäger."
  602. >he leans in even closer and now whispers into your ear
  603. >"Excellent,"
  604. >you hear a snapping noise
  605. >"you may proceed when ready."
  606. >finally, he pulls away and moves to speak with Runner via a communication tube
  607. >you look down
  608. >the pencil you had been holding is now broken in half
  609.  
  610. >you are Stiller Jäger
  611. >you chuckle to yourself as you walk over to the command center's comm. tube
  612. >you feel as though you've thoroughly embarrassed poor Bow
  613. >though to be honest, you can't understand why she'd be interested in you
  614. >she's barely a mare, and probably hasn't been working for more than five years, while you've been a seapony for nearly fifteen years
  615. >perhaps she's attempting to advance her career through you?
  616. >no, she'd be more brazen if that were the case
  617. >you decide that it's probably nothing more than a small crush
  618. >you break the train of thought and speak into the tube
  619. "All hands, prepare to dive."
  620.  
  621. >you are Quiet Runner
  622. >now's your time to shine
  623. >you answer Jäger's order
  624. "Engine Room to Command Center, we're ready in here."
  625. >he is quick to issue a new order
  626. >"Take us down to twenty meters."
  627. >you reply with a smirk
  628. "Gladly, captain."
  629. >turning from the tube, you walk over to a large series of dials, levers, and meters
  630. >after a few seconds of work, you look at the depth meter
  631. >nothing
  632. >the boat is absolutely silent
  633. >impatient, you tap the glass on the meter a few times
  634. >slowly, the hand starts to move
  635. >from 7 to 8
  636. >from 8 to 10
  637. >you smile, and you can hear cheering coming from the command center
  638. >slowly, the boat descends to it's target depth
  639.  
  640. >you are First Strike
  641. >you are celebrating with captain Jäger and Bow
  642. >Jäger announces
  643. >"Just you wait, my friends; soon, we'll have the entire Royal Navy retreating with their tail between their legs!"
  644. >this earns several laughs from his crew members
  645. >however, his face soon turns serious
  646. >"However, we have one more thing left to test...."
  647. >he looks to you
  648. >"Fraulein Strike, I am going to allow you to decide where and on what we test your torpedoes."
  649. >he ushers you over to a small table built into the wall of the U-Boat
  650. >on the table is a map showing every major Equestrian port and trade route
  651. >you contemplate for several minutes before announcing your decision
  652. "Now that we have taken Vanhoover, tha Royalists will probably be massing forces in Los Pegasus for a counterattack."
  653. >you continue
  654. "This would most likely involve dozens of troop ships moving soldiers from Baltimare and Manehattan."
  655. >Captain Jäger contemplates your decision before nodding
  656. >"Yes, this makes sense."
  657. >he moves to a different table with maps of the different oceans
  658. >"In our haste to leave the Reich, I neglected to recruit a dedicated navigator, so I'll have to work with the charts until our next patrol."
  659. >he shrugs his shoulders as he takes a seat at the desk
  660. >"You've got to make mistakes in order to learn from them, as my father used to tell me."
  661.  
  662. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  663.  
  664. >you are Stiller Jäger
  665. >and you are disappointed
  666. >the first full day of your first patrol was completely uneventful
  667. >you had been hoping to come across Equestrian vessels fleeing Vanhoover, but no such luck
  668. >aside from a few large fish, you'd seen nothing all day
  669. >though the sun had set nearly an hour ago, you still stand on the bridge, the lowering temperatures making you occasionally shiver
  670. >with a huff, you drop your gaze from the ocean in front of you and climb into the hatchway leading into the boat
  671. >descending the ladder, you notice that the only sound in the room is the clanking of your hooves against the metal surface of the ladder
  672. >when you reach the bottom, you turn to see why there is no noise
  673. >the room is empty, aside from you and one other pony
  674. "Evening, Bow," you say with a smirk, a facial feature you find you now wear every time you speak to her
  675. >everyone else must already be in their quarters
  676. >you confirm this; both doors leading to the officer and crew quarters are sealed shut
  677. >she was not working when you entered the room
  678. >in fact, she looks as though she were expecting you
  679. >she is sitting in a chair facing you, legs tight together with her hooves atop them
  680. >a perfect image of exaggerated modesty if ever there was one
  681. >you grab a chair on your end of the room and slouch back in it, subtly mocking her posture
  682. >she watches you for a few seconds
  683. >you notice her eyes wander rather low
  684. >it is only now that you notice that her face is bright red
  685. >your smirk grows
  686. "I take it you have some kind of question for me,"
  687. >you lean forward slightly
  688. "Fraulein."
  689. >she still seems absolutely flustered by how you address her
  690. >she opens her mouth to speak
  691. "However,"
  692. >you stop her before she can speak
  693. "You were the one who was asking questions last time;"
  694. >she seems confused
  695. >you straighten yourself in your chair
  696. "Now it's my turn."
  697.  
  698. >you are Strong Bow
  699. >you feel like such a fool
  700. >all you wanted to do was to clear up the situation between you and Jäger, but now he's making you flustered as well as prolonging this exchange
  701. >now that he's sitting forward in his chair, he is close enough that you could touch him if you wanted to
  702. >or vice versa...
  703. >"I have but only one question,"
  704. >oh yeah right
  705. >"and then I'll let you ask one; we'll go back and forth."
  706. >you nod, the burning in your face starting to die down
  707. >"Do you fancy me?"
  708. >aaaand it's back
  709. >this time, however, it's because you're angry
  710. >you grab a pencil behind you and shout
  711. "What the buck do you think?!"
  712. >you throw the pencil at him
  713. >it bounces harmlessly off of his arm and you see that he's trying not to laugh, and doing a poor job of it
  714. >"Shhhh! You'll wake the crew!
  715. >he's mocking you!
  716. >"Jeez, no need to get worked up,"
  717. >he rubs his arm where the pencil had hit
  718. >"you've hurt your dear captain..."
  719. >you are quick to rebut
  720. "Oh shut up, you're fine."
  721. >he smiles smugly
  722. >"Apparently VERY fine, with how you act around me."
  723. >you attempt to get back on track
  724. "Alright, you've had your fun; now it's time for my question."
  725.  
  726. >you are Stiller Jäger
  727. >it seems that Bow has finally had enough of your abuse
  728. >"Alright, you've had your fun, now it's time for my question."
  729. >you place your hooves together and lean back, crossing your legs
  730. "Fire away, Fraulein Bow."
  731. >she takes a few breaths before finally asking her question
  732. >"What's the next step in your master plan?"
  733. >wut?
  734. >your confusion at her question must be evident by your expression, because she elaborates
  735. >"I mean, you've started and conducted this entire operation without orders to do so."
  736. >she continues
  737. >"You've assembled this team, built this boat, and moved it across Equestria."
  738. >she pauses for a moment to make an aside
  739. >"Which makes me wonder why a pony would build a boat before controlling a port."
  740. >she then continues on her main point
  741. >"So, you clearly are acting on your own interests, not the interests of someone above you,"
  742. >she concludes
  743. >"So now that we're out here, on our first patrol, what's the next step?"
  744. >now understanding her question, you lean forward
  745. "My plan is quite simple, Fraulein Bow."
  746. >you stand from you chair and kneel in front of Bow
  747. "Sink their navy, with no surviving vessels once we're done."
  748.  
  749. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  750.  
  751. >you are Quiet Runner
  752. >today is the second full day of your first patrol
  753. >you are planning to see just how fast the boat can safely go today
  754. >you are doing some stretches after getting out of your bunk when you notice something weird
  755. >Captain Jäger and Bow are still asleep, and they both have one arm hanging off the side of their bunks
  756. >and their arms are on the floor, almost touching
  757. >weird; they must have been tossing and turning in their sleep
  758. >anyway, you walk to the command center
  759. >more specifically, to the kitchen, which is really just a corner of the room with a stove and a few cabinets
  760. >you yawn before opening one of the cabinets and retrieving a box of bell peppers
  761. >Sauté Saturday
  762. >you chuckle when you remember how you and Strike decided that each day of the week would have a unique way of preparing food
  763. >as you fire up the stove and oil a large pan, you are greeted by the mare in question
  764. >"Morning Runner."
  765. >she still sounds tired
  766. "Good morning Strike."
  767. >she walks over to your side and watches you slice the peppers
  768. >"Whatcha doin'?"
  769. >huh?
  770. >how tired is she?
  771. "I'm slicing peppers, as you can see."
  772. >she yawns again
  773. >"Sautéing them?"
  774. >you smile
  775. >at least she remembers that
  776. "Yep; care to help me?"
  777.  
  778. >you are First Strike
  779. >though you're still tired, you're always willing to lend a hoof
  780. "Sure, what would you like me to do?"
  781. >Runner nods his head towards the box of bell peppers on the small counter, his focus still on his cutting
  782. >"Grab a few of those and a knife, and cut them into pieces."
  783. >you do as he instructs
  784. >you are holding the knife above a yellow pepper when you realize
  785. "How small should the pieces be?"
  786. >Runner shrugs his shoulders
  787. >"The size at which you'd be comfortable chewing them is always my standard."
  788. >you watch Runner chop a few peppers
  789. >he is amazingly fast with his chopping
  790. >looking back at your own pepper, you tentatively make a slice, cutting off the stem-end of the pepper
  791. >you look back over at Runner
  792. >in the time it took you to make one slice, he's already done with an entire pepper
  793. "How are you so good at this?"
  794. >though he doesn't look at you, you can see his brow furrow
  795. >"Good at what? Cooking?"
  796. >you nod
  797. "Yeah, how are you so good at cooking; you're an engineer, not a chef."
  798. >he chuckles and instructs you to continue chopping before explaining
  799. >"My parents owned a restaurant when I was a child; they still do, in fact."
  800. >he continues
  801. >"My job when I was a child was the same job you're performing right now: ingredient prep."
  802. >you start to notice that your cuts are becoming less sloppy
  803. >"I would spend hours doing nothing but chopping lettuce, mushrooms, tomatoes, and,"
  804. >he gestures to the box with his knife
  805. >"peppers."
  806.  
  807. >he looks over at the pieces you've chopped thus far
  808. >"Not bad; a few more days of helping me with breakfast and you'll be able to take over for me."
  809. >you elbow him him lightly in the ribs, causing him to laugh
  810. "Yeah, you wish."
  811. >Runner looks at his pile of chopped pepper, and then at yours
  812. >"I think we have enough to start cooking."
  813. >he holds his hoof above the pan on the stove
  814. >"And just in time; the pan is ready."
  815. >he dumps his pile into the pan before doing the same with yours
  816. >the peppers sizzle against the oiled pan, creating a cloud of sweet peppery goodness
  817. >you take a moment to enjoy the smell before asking a new question
  818. "So why did you leave the restaurant? I mean, you're clearly a skilled cook."
  819. >he once more shrugs his shoulders
  820. >"What can I say, I felt like I was destined for more than a life in a kitchen."
  821. >he flips the peppers in the pan before adding
  822. >"And now look where I am, co-designer of and officer aboard the most modern vessel in the world."
  823. >your eyes wander around the command center, admiring the hundreds of valves and levers
  824. "Yeah, we've got it pretty good."
  825. >Runner flips the pan again
  826. >"So, what do you plan to do once the war is over?"
  827. >you lean against the counter where you had been cutting your peppers
  828. "Well, I don't know about you, but I plan to travel all across the new Reich once it's all over."
  829. >you look at Runner
  830. "How about you?"
  831.  
  832. >you are Quiet Runner
  833. >what DO you want to do once the war is over?
  834. "Well, I really don't know, to be honest."
  835. >Strike cocks a brow
  836. >"You have NO ideas?"
  837. >you shake your head as you check the peppers
  838. >they're perfect
  839. "No, not really. When I came to the Reich, I really didn't know if it would last,"
  840. >you turn the heat off on the stove
  841. "because I didn't know if Manos would be able to win the war against Equestria."
  842. >you pour the peppers onto a large platter before covering them
  843. >"Has your view on that changed?"
  844. >you look Strike straight in the eyes
  845. "I believe that w-"
  846. >>"Morning!"
  847. >wut?
  848. >surprised by the intrusion, you and Strike look at the hatch to the officers quarters, where the voice came from
  849. >Captain Jäger is stepping through the hatch into the command room
  850. >>"What have you made, Runner? Smells great."
  851. >you discard your conversation with Strike and give the Captain a casual salute
  852. "Sautéed bell peppers, captain; you're just in time, we've just finished cooking them,"
  853. >you reach behind you and place a hoof on Strike's back, pulling her to stand beside you
  854. "Strike and me."
  855.  
  856. >you are Stiller Jäger
  857. >before long, the entire eleven-pony crew is crowded in the command room, eager for more of Runner's cooking
  858. >after giving each pony a small plate, Runner walks around the room with his pan, shoveling peppers onto each plate as he passes them
  859. >"Not trying to spoil anyone's appetites, but we're using up the rest of the cabbage tonight."
  860. >he gets several groans in response
  861. >you smile and shake your head to yourself
  862. >you can imagine that Honor Bound would throw a fit if he found out how informal life is out on sea
  863. >as the crew start talking among themselves, you start eating
  864. >you hadn't even thought of making sure you had a decent cook before leaving Vanhoover; you're lucky that your crew has hidden talents
  865. >you begin to think about just how lucky you are to be here with this crew
  866. >luck..
  867. >you stop eating
  868. >it's not luck
  869. >it's Fate
  870. >Fate has brought you all together
  871. >and Fate shall protect you on your journey together
  872. >you suddenly announce
  873. "I'll be hosting a short session of prayer once breakfast is over."
  874. >the crew stop talking and look over to you
  875. "I'll be doing so every morning until we return to port; if you do not wish to participate, you are free to report to your stations and wait until we are done."
  876. >you look at Runner as you say this
  877. >you move to start eating again, but you notice that the eyes are still on you
  878. "That is all; as you were."
  879. >slowly, the conversations return
  880. >you finish your breakfast and walk to your bunk and fetch your Bible of Manos
  881. >you have a prayer to lead
  882.  
  883. >you are Strong Bow
  884. >you are so excited!
  885. >you haven't been able to properly pray to Manos in some time
  886. >in fact, you haven't said a proper prayer since before you left the Reich
  887. >a wave of shame washes over you
  888. >while you're at it, you'll make sure to ask for forgiveness
  889. >as you prepare to kneel down, you hear something being dragged along the floor behind you
  890. >you turn
  891. >Jäger's face is there to greet you, with that familiar smirk
  892. >he pushes a wooden chair towards you
  893. >"I can't have my favorite officer catching something from this cold floor, can I?"
  894. >you can feel a blush trying to break out, but you manage to contain it and accept the chair
  895. "Thanks..."
  896. >you make yourself comfortable as Jäger walks to the front of the group, which is now seated in rows
  897. >he does a quick headcount
  898. >"All but one, as I was exp-"
  899. >>"Don't start without me; I had to grab something!"
  900. >Runner walks into the room from the officer quarters
  901. >he is wearing a small Hand around his neck
  902. >wait, what?
  903. >he hurries over and sits next to you
  904. "Runner, what are you doing?"
  905. >he looks at you like you're weird
  906. >>"I'm going to pray, duh."
  907. >you roll your eyes
  908. "I can tell; but why is my question. I thought you didn't have faith.."
  909. >a look a realization flashes across his face
  910. >>"I'll explain later."
  911. >before you can further question him, Jäger opens his bible and begins to speak
  912. >"In the beginning, there were The Sisters."
  913.  
  914. >you are Stiller Jäger
  915. >chief designer and captain of the Reich's first naval vessel
  916. >and now it's first chaplain
  917. "In the beginning, there were The Sisters."
  918. >you are reading the preface of the holy book
  919. >as you begin, your crew close their eyes and bow their heads
  920. "In the beginning, there was chaos and disorder, monsters and disasters a common occurrence throughout our lands."
  921. >your mind is drawn back to the day Discord managed to break free from his stone prison
  922. >the ship you had been serving on had nearly sunk after being hit by a chocolate typhoon
  923. "Immediately prior to one of these great disasters, a figure emerged from the mighty Everfree."
  924. >you look up from the book and look at Runner
  925. "He warned of impending destruction and chaos; only a few heeded his words."
  926. >he has his head bowed just as Bow does
  927. "When the whole of Equestria was so near to death at the hands of the Changeling menace, the figure took his followers to the city of Canterlot and swiftly stomped out this menace."
  928. >Perhaps he is just trying to fit in?
  929. "The figure was mortally wounded in battle against the Queen of the Changelings and soon fell dead."
  930. >no, if that were his intent, he wouldn't have mentioned that he's not a follower as he did a few days ago
  931. "However, minutes later, he stood, declaring his intent to remain with his ponies."
  932. >perhaps seeing your Lord in person was enough to encourage him to at least try to believe?
  933. "Together with his faithful ponies, the figure known as Manos built a Reich which shall stand for a thousand years."
  934. >you close the book
  935. "He is Fate,"
  936. >you don't even need to cue the group
  937. >"And we are his faithful Hands."
  938. >you smile
  939. >this must be how high priestess Lyra feels every day
  940. "Now, let us share a moment of silence for those who have been lost along the way."
  941. >as you and your crew bow your heads, a familiar tunes pops in your head
  942. >https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DmGzGIR3hs [Embed]
  943. >while you weren't there yourself, you had many friends at the battle of the Ardennes
  944. >many of whom did not return after the battle...
  945. >as you raise your head, you can feel a slight wetness on your right cheek
  946. >you quickly wipe the lone tear away as your crew raise their heads
  947. >you allow the silence in the room to linger for a little longer before speaking the old mantra
  948. "Our comrades, killed by the Royals,"
  949. >"your spirits still march alongside us."
  950. >you signal for the group to stand
  951. "I want to thank you all for joining me in prayer this morning."
  952. >you continue
  953. "I am thankful to have such a loyal crew, not only to me, but to our Lord."
  954. >you give Bow a smirk before speaking again
  955. "On that note,"
  956. >you bark
  957. "To your stations! We've got ships to sink!"
  958. >the group raise their right forehooves before crying their response
  959. >"Heil!"
  960. >you return the gesture before placing your cap firmly on your head and walking to bridge ladder
  961. >the group disperses as your ponies move to their stations
  962. >you unlatch the metal hatch leading to the bridge and heave it open
  963. >you are greeted by cool air and the smell of salt
  964. >as you pull yourself through the small space, you breath in the air which you have grown up breathing and sigh
  965. "I love my job."
  966.  
  967. >you are Strong Bow
  968. >and you are doing your daily rounds around the ship to make sure everything is in order
  969. >while your design works remarkably well, it's not perfect
  970. >as you walk through the narrow corridor of the vessel, a drop of water will occasionally fall from a loose or cracked pipe
  971. >and today is no different
  972. >it's for this reason that you carry a roll of tape as you do your rounds
  973. >after you've patched your third pipe for the day, you run through your checklist in your head
  974. >the torpedo room, officer quarters, command room, crew quarters, and engine room all checked out for today
  975. "Well, my work is done."
  976. >you smile proudly and hold your head high, though you are alone in the command room
  977. >soon, the smile disappears and you sigh
  978. "Now what should I do?"
  979. >you ponder the question for a few moments
  980. "I guess I'll just find someone who needs help."
  981. >Strike is re-calibrating her torpedoes for the day
  982. >a job with very cramped positions, so your assistance probably wouldn't be appreciated
  983. >and Runner is just sitting in the engine room, waiting for new orders and occasionally recharging what little magic decay there is in his batteries
  984. "That would leave...."
  985. >you look over to the ladder leading to the bridge
  986. "Great..."
  987.  
  988. >you are Stiller Jäger
  989. >and you are determined
  990. >you are determined to find and sink something today
  991. >the sea is calm today, allowing you to see far into the the distance
  992. >you smile
  993. "Nothing is going to get past us."
  994. >as you bring your binoculars up to your eyes, you are interrupted
  995. >"You sound awfully confident,"
  996. >you turn to see Bow stand next to the hatch
  997. >"for only having one watchpony."
  998. >you can see the small crooked smirk on her face
  999. >not one to be outdone, you return the smile and reach into one of your coat pockets
  1000. >you pull out an extra set of binoculars and hold them out for her to take
  1001. "Well, feel free to join me."
  1002. >she now gives you a genuine smile and takes them
  1003. >you scoot over to your right to make room her her at your left
  1004. >she catches the cue and moves to fill the space you've made for her
  1005. >as you both begin to scan the horizon, you reflect on the conversation you had had with her the night before
  1006. >you could tell she wanted to talk about your 'relationship'
  1007. >rather, if it was to remain professional or if it was to move on to something else
  1008. >naturally, you were quick to derail the discussion before it even began so as to get those thoughts out of her head
  1009. >given how she's acting today, you'd say it worked, at least to an extent
  1010. >however
  1011. >just so she wouldn't feel like you were dismissing her feelings
  1012. >right before you both turned in for the night,
  1013. >you promised that you would take her to a restaurant or something like that once you've made landfall
  1014. >you sigh
  1015. >what have you gotten yourself into?
  1016. >pushing the thoughts from your mind, you continue to focus on the horizon
  1017. >after a few sweeps, you spot something
  1018. >a shimmer of light, like a reflection
  1019. >you are quick to tap Bow on her shoulder
  1020. "35 degrees, do you see it?"
  1021. >she looks through her binoculars in the direction
  1022. >she answers after a few seconds
  1023. >"I see it too."
  1024.  
  1025. >you are Quiet Runner
  1026. >and you are bored out of you mind
  1027. >for hours now, you've only been doing occasional maintenance and waiting for orders
  1028. >as you sit upon a small chair, you sigh and let your mind begin to wander
  1029. >you look over at the busy engines as they make their now familiar noise in unison
  1030. >putt putt putt putt putt putt
  1031. >Lord Manos was the one to provide the means to build machines such as these
  1032. >they must have been common where he came from
  1033. >Lord Manos...
  1034. >you think back to that day in Vanhoover
  1035. >how you walked with your group into the park, where He was
  1036. >you remember how he looked over at your group
  1037. >and how he look at you
  1038. >right into your eyes
  1039. >when he looked you in the eyes, you were no longer in the park
  1040. >you were at the foot of a massive golden gate
  1041. >behind it, a paradise you can't even begin to describe
  1042. >you weren't alone
  1043. >He was with you
  1044. >"This is the promise which awaits all fallen warriors, Quiet Runner."
  1045. >He then gestured towards the gate with his hand
  1046. >"Will you be admitted?"
  1047. >before you could think of some kind of response, you were back in the park
  1048. >and He was walking away with his entourage
  1049. >you straighten your back, still seated in your chair
  1050. >you reach to your neck and clutch the Hand necklace still there from this morning's prayer
  1051. "I WILL be admitted to Valhalla!"
  1052. >just then, a voice booms through the comms tube
  1053. >>"Bridge to Engine Room, increase speed to Flank! We've got a ship on the horizon!"
  1054. >you rush over to the tube
  1055. "Aye, Captain!"
  1056. >you hurry to the engine controls and begin your work
  1057. >you're going to prove yourself not only to your captain, but to Lord Manos
  1058.  
  1059. >you are First Strike
  1060. >you are busy re-calibrating the gyroscopes in the torpedoes
  1061. >this is honestly one of the few problems you've had with your torpedoes
  1062. >the fine mechanics of the devices were unfortunately built out of materials inferior to what you were hoping
  1063. >it's a shame that your budgetary constraints were alleviated only after the U-Boat was completed
  1064. >with the proper materials, these gyroscopes would only need to be calibrated once or twice on a patrol, as opposed to every single day
  1065. >as you finish calibrating the last gyroscope, a voice comes over your comms tube, located next to the doorway
  1066. >"Bridge to torpedo room, we've spotted a ship in the distance; be ready for further orders."
  1067. >you smile as you put down your tools and walk over to the tube
  1068. >it's about time you found something
  1069. >you give your reply to your captain's order
  1070. "Understood, Captain."
  1071. >you hesitate before questioning,
  1072. "What kind of target is it?"
  1073. >while you're dying to test your torpedoes, you don't want your first target to be a civilian one
  1074. >"We're not sure yet, we're moving in closer before determining if we're attacking."
  1075. >you let out a sigh of relief before replying once more
  1076. "Understood. I'll be awaiting further orders."
  1077. >when Captain Jäger says nothing more, you move away from the device and towards the tubes at the opposite end of the room
  1078. >inside these tubes are the future of naval warfare
  1079. >you pat one of them with your hoof
  1080. "If that ship out here is a military target, you're going to make history today."
  1081. >you walk back over to the torpedo you had been working on previously
  1082. >with your work on the gyroscope now complete, you place it back inside its housing and seal up the torpedo
  1083. >place your ear against the side of the torpedo and give it a hard knock with your hoof
  1084. >no noises from inside are heard
  1085. "Good, no loose pieces."
  1086. >moving away from the weapon, you seat yourself on a small chair in the cramped corner of the room
  1087. "Just a little longer..."
  1088.  
  1089. >you are Stiller Jäger
  1090. >as you get closer to the shape in the distance, you once more bring your binoculars up to you face
  1091. >it is definitely a military ship, judging from its shape
  1092. >the ship has three masts
  1093. >and a massive Equestrian coat of arms fluttering from its rear
  1094. "Hmmmm, a frigate."
  1095. >you forgot that Bow is still next to you
  1096. >"What was that, Herr Jäger?"
  1097. >while she neglected to call you 'captain' (not that you really care either way), at least she didn't call you 'Stiller', like the last time you two were on the bridge together
  1098. >you point at the shape which you can both now see without binoculars
  1099. "That ship out there is a Royal Navy frigate, and judging by its heading, it fled from Vanhoover and is now trying to reach a safe port."
  1100. >she nods
  1101. >"I'm guessing we're just going to get within range and fire?"
  1102. >you nod, your eyes still on the enemy in the distance
  1103. "Correct."
  1104. >you call down to the engine room
  1105. "Strike, we've identified the target as an Equestrian frigate."
  1106. >a few seconds pass before she responds
  1107. >>"Are we engaging?"
  1108. >you smile
  1109. "Affirmative, once we are in range."
  1110. >you slam your hoof down on the alarm button and all the comms tubes begin blaring a loud siren
  1111. >even from up here, you can hear the other members of your crew scrambling out of their bunks and hurrying to their battlestations
  1112. >after a few minutes, you turn off the alarm and switch the comms tube to reach all corners of the boat
  1113. "We've come across a military target; and we're going to personally escort the crew to Valhalla!"
  1114. >you grip the front of the bridge tightly, the salty wind blowing in your mane as your boat continues to race towards the enemy vessel
  1115. "We're coming for you."
  1116.  
  1117. >you are Quiet Runner
  1118. >and you might be in trouble
  1119. >you weren't expecting Captain Jäger to order the engines set to their max speed
  1120. >you and an assistant mechanic are struggling to maintain the boat's speed
  1121. >the coolant systems on the engines are not yet perfect, so the room is nearing unbearable levels of heat
  1122. >to cope with this issue, you switch between engine and battery power every few minutes, allowing the engines time to cool down
  1123. >this allows the engines engine at least a few minutes of rest
  1124. >of course, there is a significant drop in speed when running on battery power
  1125. >unfortunately, the captain must have noticed
  1126. >"Bridge to engine room; why is our speed alternating?"
  1127. >you run to the comms tube like a madpony
  1128. "Switching between engines and batteries to prevent overheating! Got to go!"
  1129. >you were at the tube for less than five seconds before returning to your frenzied work
  1130.  
  1131. >you are Strong Bow
  1132. >and you are excited
  1133. >the winds are not favoring the enemy frigate, allowing your boat to rapidly close the distance between both vessels
  1134. >you are now close enough to start to make out shapes of ponies on the deck of the frigate
  1135. >they seem to have noticed you
  1136. >you can imagine the confusion that must be prevalent on their ship
  1137. >something catches your attention
  1138. >one of the ponies on the deck is raising a flag below their coat of arms
  1139. >blue and yellow rectangles vertically side by side
  1140. >kilo
  1141. >Jäger, who is watching the crew intently, states the obvious
  1142. >"They wish to communicate..."
  1143. >he nods slightly
  1144. >"Very well."
  1145. >he puts down his binoculars and grabs a hold of the small morse lamp fixed to the bridge
  1146. >he flashes them a friendly opening message
  1147. >'This is Captain Stiller Jäger of the Reichsmarine. We are ordering you to abandon your vessel'.
  1148. >you snicker
  1149. "Eloquently put, captain."
  1150. >he ignores you as they send a response on their own lamp
  1151. >>'Captain Jäger, you are to return to home port. Will not surrender to unarmed vessel'.
  1152. >you and Jäger laugh
  1153. "Indeed. 'Unarmed'."
  1154. >Jäger speaks into the comms tube
  1155. >"Bridge to torpedo room, open tube 1 and set torpedo for -37 degrees."
  1156. >he receives a confirmation from Strike before returning to his lamp
  1157. >'Not unarmed. Will sink your vessel with all hands if you do not comply'.
  1158. >they do not reply, but you swear you can hear laughter from their deck
  1159. >"Very well, have it your way."
  1160. >showtime
  1161.  
  1162. >you are First Strike
  1163. >and you are carrying out the captain's orders
  1164. >you are working with a series of dials attached to torpedo tube #1
  1165. "He said -37 degrees"
  1166. >you turn one dial to '-37'
  1167. >you look over to a different dial with numbers ranging from 1 to 25
  1168. "He didn't tell me a depth..."
  1169. >well, he said it was a frigate
  1170. >you hesitate before turning the hand of the dial to 2.5
  1171. "Might be a bit high, but we can't risk it passing underneath.."
  1172. >now onto the final dial
  1173. >this is a switch dial with three settings
  1174. >Slow, Medium, and Fast
  1175. >the slow setting would allow the torpedo to reach out to 12.5 km at 30 kts (34.5 mph)
  1176. >the medium, 7.5 km at 40 kts (46 mph)
  1177. >and fast, 5 km at 50 kts (57.5 mph)
  1178. "Damn, he didn't tell me the distance either."
  1179. >your hoof hovers over the dial, trying to decide
  1180. "We'll go 'medium, just to be safe."
  1181. >you grab hold of the knob and apply pressure to it
  1182. >it clicks from 'slow' to 'medium'
  1183. "There, all set."
  1184. >you return to your comms tube
  1185. "All set down here, captain!"
  1186. >the captain is quick to reply
  1187. >"Very good, stand by for firing."
  1188.  
  1189. >you are Stiller Jäger
  1190. >and the time has finally come
  1191. >there is only one last thing to do before firing,
  1192. >you speak into your comms tube
  1193. "Bridge to engine room, all stop."
  1194. >when Runner responds, you can hear the relief in his voice
  1195. >"Aye captain."
  1196. >within seconds, the slight vibrations in the deck cease as the engines stop
  1197. >in the time that has passed since you communicated with the enemy frigate, you had closed to well within three kilometers
  1198. >they still haven't started firing upon you yet
  1199. >your lips curl into a sneer
  1200. >those fools won't know what hit them
  1201. >as the boat slows to a stop, you once more call down to the torpedo room
  1202. "Strike, open tube #1 and fire when ready."
  1203.  
  1204. >you are First Strike
  1205. >the time has finally come
  1206. "Yes sir!"
  1207. >you hurry the torpedo tube in question and grab hold of a large wheel next to it
  1208. >turning it, you can hear the groan of the tube opening on the other end
  1209. >with a 'thunk' the wheel stops turning as the door stops, now fully open
  1210. >letting go of the wheel, you turn to face a large lever attached to the tube
  1211. >no turning back now
  1212. >you grip the lever and pull it towards you
  1213. >a deafening hiss comes from inside the tube as the torpedo speeds away from the boat
  1214. "Go get em'."
  1215.  
  1216. >you are Stiller Jäger
  1217. >and you are about to witness history
  1218. >the torpedo successfully left it's tube
  1219. >you can tell from the white trail of bubbles being made as the weapon speeds towards it's target
  1220. >"There it goes!"
  1221. >Bow is excited
  1222. >something you didn't really expect to see on this patrol
  1223. >she wears a smile, and her eyes are full of wonder as she watches the trail grow longer and longer
  1224. >cute
  1225. >you turn your attention back to the enemy ship
  1226. >as the torpedo gets closer and closer to them, a watch must have noticed the anomaly
  1227. >you can see the crew rushing to the port side of their deck to see whatever is in the water
  1228. >you smirk and once more grab a hold of your boat's morse lamp and quickly flash one last message to the doomed vessel
  1229. >'Warned you.'
  1230. >finally, the trail reaches the enemy ship, impacting amidships
  1231. >with a mighty eruption, a wall of water explodes from the ocean and engulfs the entire port side of the enemy ship
  1232. >the ship rolls to its starboard from the explosion
  1233. >many of the ponies on board attempt to balance themselves by gripping onto the side railing, but most topple backwards onto the deck
  1234. >as the wall of water dissipates into a mist, you can see wood from the ship's hull soaring through the air, from splinters to large chunks
  1235. >you smile widely and connect your comms tube with every other one in the boat
  1236. "Success! We blew a massive hole in her hull!"
  1237. >you can hear the cheers of your crew echoing throughout the boat in response
  1238. >the ponies on the stricken vessel begin to panic, many looking down the side of the ship once more, trying to figure out what caused the explosion
  1239. >some look angrily over at your boat
  1240. >one runs over to a cannon mounted on the deck
  1241. >and aims it right at you
  1242. "Uh oh..."
  1243. >you yell into the tube still echoing with cheering
  1244. "Runner! Get us moving at 'ahead full'!"
  1245. >he sounds confused in his response
  1246. >"Aye captain.?."
  1247. >at least he didn't argue with you
  1248. >you grab onto Bow and practically throw her down into the command room before sliding down the ladder and sealing the bridge hatch shut
  1249. >you rush over to the command room's tube
  1250. "Brace yourselves, we're crash diving!"
  1251. >BOOM
  1252. >oh shit
  1253. >you hear a whizzing as a cannonball flies past your boat outside
  1254. >no time to waste
  1255. >as you feel the boat lurch forward, you run to the command room's dive controls
  1256. >Bow moves with you and grabs hold of more controls
  1257. >you both furiously work at the controls
  1258. >after you begin to flood the ballast tanks to neutral buoyancy, you grab hold of the hydroplane controls (two small levers) and push forward
  1259. >you can hear water rushing up the sides of the metal hull as the boat begins to descend rapidly
  1260. >as the water begins to wash over the top of the hull, you can hear another BOOM and a splash
  1261. >they were getting close
  1262. >you look over at a depth gauge mounted on the wall
  1263. >10 meters, 13, 16
  1264. >you keep your hooves locked around the levers
  1265. >as the hand of the gauge hits '30', you let go of them, and they return to their neutral position
  1266. >Bow sighs as she sits back
  1267. >"That was bucking close!"
  1268. >you sit back as well and let out a small laugh
  1269. "You don't say?"
  1270.  
  1271. >you are First Strike
  1272. >after captain Jäger confirmed that the torpedo hit its target, you danced for joy
  1273. >but immediately after, he ordered a crash dive, cutting your celebration short
  1274. >now that the boat is submerged, you walk into the command room, where you are greeted by a tired looking pair
  1275. >both Bow and the captain seem exhausted
  1276. >you notice that there are no other ponies in the room
  1277. "Did you two submerge us on your own?"
  1278. >Bow nods
  1279. >"Yep, they started shooting at us, we had no choice."
  1280. >you nod in understanding
  1281. "Well, I'd shoot too if I were in their position."
  1282. >you now turn to face the captain
  1283. "Was it enough to sink them?"
  1284. >he shrugs
  1285. >>"We had to dive before I could tell if it was enough."
  1286. >as more ponies begin to enter the cramped room, he continues
  1287. >>"We'll have to go to periscope depth to find out."
  1288.  
  1289. >you are Quiet Runner
  1290. >and you are upset
  1291. >captain Jäger decided to begin diving without giving you proper time to prepare
  1292. >your fuel engines nearly flooded with water before you switched over to the electric engines
  1293. >fortunately though, you managed to work fast enough to prevent that from happening
  1294. >now that the boat is safely at 30 meters, you set the electric engines to 'ahead standard' and walk to the command room
  1295. >as you enter the room, you can hear the captain
  1296. >"We'll have to go to periscope depth to find out."
  1297. >great
  1298. >you return to your engine room to await further orders
  1299. >honestly, you can't wait to collapse into your bunk tonight
  1300.  
  1301. >you are Strong Bow
  1302. >everything happened so fast after the torpedo was launched, you honestly can't remember many fine details from the dive
  1303. >there is one thing you remember perfectly however
  1304. >when the enemy frigate was preparing to fire at you, the captain grabbed hold of you and swung you over to the ladder
  1305. >you really hope he didn't notice your blush when he wrapped his forehoof around your midsection
  1306. >but the lingering fact in your mind is that he made sure you were safe before himself
  1307. >was he just being a responsible captain?
  1308. >or was it more?
  1309. >you are pulled away from your thoughts as Jäger speaks
  1310. >"We'll have to go to periscope depth to find out."
  1311. >he looks over to you as he moves to return to the dive controls
  1312. >once more, you follow him and seat yourself beside him
  1313. >"Let's take it up to 9 meters, that should be sufficient."
  1314. >you nod and pull the hydroplane controls toward yourself
  1315. >you feel the boat tile as it begins to ascend
  1316. >Jäger is working with the ship's steering wheel
  1317. >"I'm guessing we've passed underneath them by now, so I'm going to turn us around in case they need another torpedo."
  1318. >he turns the wheel to Port
  1319. >now you can feel the boat both ascending and turning
  1320. >something occurs to you
  1321. "Captain, if the enemy is sunk, that means all systems of this boat have been successful on this patrol."
  1322. >as the boat reaches it's target depth and course, he nods
  1323. >"Indeed; but that won't mean our patrol is over."
  1324. >he stands from his seat and moves to the boat's periscope
  1325. >after flipping a switch, it begins to rise
  1326. >once risen, Jäger leans in to see what is above
  1327.  
  1328. >you are Stiller Jäger
  1329. >and this is the moment of truth
  1330. >the sounds of gears whirring fill the room as the periscope reaches towards the surface
  1331. >with a 'clunk', it stops
  1332. >taking a deep breath, you look through the glass
  1333. >at first, you don't know what your looking at
  1334. >but as you focus more, you can make it out clearly
  1335. >the enemy frigate is a floating inferno
  1336. >flames engulf the deck, and rise high into the sky
  1337. >you can barely make out new flags hoisted from their main mast
  1338. >ones of distress and peril
  1339. >in the water you can see dozens of ponies trying to swim away from the doomed ship
  1340. >you can see even more ponies jumping into the water
  1341. >some are on fire as they leap
  1342. >furthermore, the ship has developed a severe list
  1343. >she won't be afloat for much longer
  1344. >you turn to Bow
  1345. "Take us up."
  1346. >she looks confused
  1347. >"But they'll attack us if we surface."
  1348. >you shake your head
  1349. "I wouldn't be worried about that."
  1350. >she looks at you suspiciously, but does as she is told
  1351. >you decided to not tell her about the state of the ship
  1352. >for some reason, you don't want to risk upsetting her
  1353. >before long, you hear the sound of waves lapping against the side of the boat's hull
  1354. >time to go up
  1355. >you lower the periscope before ascending the ladder to the bridge
  1356. >Bow follows closely behind you
  1357. >you hesitate slightly before opening the hatch and climbing through the small hatchway
  1358. >you almost suspect that Bow knows you're keeping something from her, as she practically shoves you along so that she can get up to the bridge as well
  1359. >as you both stand on the bridge, you take in the sight before you
  1360. >you hear Bow gasp as she sees the state of your target
  1361.  
  1362. >you are Strong Bow
  1363. >and what you are seeing is, well..
  1364. >glorious
  1365. >the enemy ship is in an abysmal state
  1366. >fire covers it's deck
  1367. >and it's seaponies are in the water
  1368. >you smile
  1369. "They didn't heed our warning, and now they're facing the wrath of our Lord."
  1370. >you hear Jäger next to you breathe what sounds like a sigh of relief
  1371. >but you don't pay it any mind
  1372. >what's more interesting is that the ponies in the water seem to have noticed your sudden presence
  1373. >and are now swimming towards your boat
  1374. >uhhhh
  1375. >you turn your head to look at Jäger, who seems to have noticed the same thing
  1376. "What do we do with...."
  1377. >you nod towards the struggling ponies
  1378. "them?"
  1379. >he looks almost disappointed
  1380. >"They only managed to launch a single lifeboat..."
  1381. >he sighs
  1382. >"We're going to tie the lifeboat to our stern and take whatever survivors we can on our deck."
  1383. >you raise a brow
  1384. "What about whoever is left in the water?"
  1385. >he shrugs
  1386. >"I guess we'll just use our emergency rafts and tie them off like the lifeboat."
  1387. >he speaks into the comms tube
  1388. >"Strike, Runner, get up here; and bring the life rafts with you."
  1389.  
  1390. >you are First Strike
  1391. >you and Runner are busy digging through the boat's 'emergency' locker
  1392. >the captain ordered you to get the life rafts
  1393. >clearly, you're not sinking, so he must need them for survivors or something like that
  1394. >one problem though
  1395. >you can't find them!
  1396. "Ugh, why is this locker so bucking cluttered?!"
  1397. >Runner chuckles as he continues to dig through the spare boots and coats
  1398. >"It's almost like it was a rushed design or something."
  1399. >you laugh
  1400. >it really is miraculous that there haven't been technical issues with the boat, given how rushed it was
  1401. "Yeah, something like that.."
  1402. >as you dig deeper into the closet, your hoof touches something rubbery
  1403. >bingo
  1404. >you grab it and yank it through the pile of junk
  1405. "Got it!"
  1406. >the yellow rubber flops about as your shake your hoof in victory
  1407. >Runner cuts your fun short
  1408. >"Alright, come on! I want to see what's up."
  1409. >you hurry after him as he ascends the ladder to the bridge
  1410. >you can hear commotion from above as you climb
  1411. >>"No! I said we're with the Reichsmarine!"
  1412. >>>"What nonsense is this; calling this hunk of scrap metal a ship."
  1413. >sounds like the captain is already going at it with the survivors
  1414.  
  1415. >you are Stiller Jäger
  1416. >and you are about to throw this pony back into the sea
  1417. >"What nonsense is this; calling this hunk of scrap metal a ship."
  1418. >seriously, what happened to make Royal Navy ponies such insolent jerks since you left?
  1419. >you look behind the pony to see the still burning ship make it's final plunge into the ocean
  1420. >oh, right
  1421. "Look, I'll say it once more. I am Captain Stiller Jäger of Lord Manos' Reichsmar-"
  1422. >"AND now that I think about it, we saw this thing sink! How are you here?"
  1423. >ok, that's enough
  1424. >as he continues to run his mouth, you step forward and shove him back
  1425. >he yelps as he loses balance and falls off of the bridge, splashing into the water below
  1426. >you look down on the bow deck where other survivors are gathered
  1427. "He didn't want to talk, which one of you does?"
  1428. >you sweep your gaze across the group
  1429. >they're all young, but not younger than you were when you joined the Royal Navy
  1430. >after a few moments of silence, a young, yet bulky earth pony steps forward
  1431. "At least there's one of you with some guts."
  1432. >you gesture him over to the ladder on the conning tower and help him up
  1433. "Alright, what's your name, son?"
  1434. >he doesn't look 'all there', so to say
  1435. >>"My name?"
  1436. >you roll your eyes and nod
  1437. "Yes, that's a common question in introductions..."
  1438. >he furrows his brow in concentration
  1439. >>"My name is Cider Guzzler, I'm from the Apple family."
  1440. >ah, that would explain his look
  1441. >and the accent
  1442. >.....and the smell
  1443. "What did you do on board your ship, Ci-"
  1444. >he holds a hoof up to your face
  1445. >>"One sec."
  1446. >he then reaches into his coat and pulls out....
  1447. >a glass bottle of cider
  1448. >..............
  1449. >typical Apples
  1450.  
  1451. >you are Cider Guzzler
  1452. >and today has been exciting!
  1453. >this morning, you woke up all cozy in your bunk
  1454. >you drank after you got out of bed
  1455. >then you got ready for the day
  1456. >you drank before heading to your post
  1457. >you took your place atop the tall mast in the crow's nest
  1458. >you managed to sneak a few (five or six) bottles of cider with you
  1459. >your job was easy, apparently they just wanted you to sit up there, so you might as well drink while you're at it
  1460. >next thing you knew, the whole ship was on fire
  1461. >fire is bad, so you jumped from the nest into the water
  1462. >you imagine it would have hurt if you had feeling in your limbs
  1463. >but that water was cold
  1464. >luckily, a nice metal tube thing came and picked you out of the water
  1465. >apparently it's a boat or somethin', because you're talking to it's captain
  1466. >gosh, all this reflecting is hard
  1467. >the captain guy is saying something, but you hold your hoof out to interrupt him
  1468. "One sec."
  1469. >you grab your last bottle of cider and pop it open before taking several gulps of the sweet liquid
  1470. "Ahhhhhhhh,"
  1471. >the captain guy looks aghast
  1472. "What? Want some?"
  1473. >you extend your hoof out out to him, the cider sloshing around inside the bottle as you do so
  1474. >he doesn't take it
  1475. "Come oooon, it's good!"
  1476. >the captain guy sneers
  1477. >"I'm fine..."
  1478. >you shrug
  1479. "Suit yourself!"
  1480. >you tilt the bottle back and chug the rest of it
  1481. "I tell you, being a watchpony is TOUGH work!"
  1482. >the captain guy nods slowly
  1483. >"I see..... you were the watchpony..."
  1484. >suddenly, someone laughs
  1485. >ooohhh, there's a pretty mare next to the captain guy
  1486. >>"No wonder we hit them; their watchpony was wasted!"
  1487. >you throw the now empty bottle behind you and prop yourself against the side of the conning tower
  1488. "Heyyy, I didn't know there were hot mares on this tub."
  1489.  
  1490. >you are Strong Bow
  1491. >what the buck did he just say?
  1492. >you've got half a mind to kick his flank...
  1493. >as the drunken pony waggles his eyebrows at you, Jäger chuckles
  1494. >"You're funny Cider, but I'm sorry to tell you,"
  1495. >he glances over at you
  1496. >and gives you that familiar crooked smirk
  1497. >"that she's already taken."
  1498. >your jaw drops
  1499. >he looks back at Cider
  1500. >"Yep, there's a stallion eagerly waiting for her back in Vanhoover."
  1501. >is he lying or just bending the truth?
  1502. >the night you had spoken with him, he had implied that he would 'humor you' about your,
  1503. >feelings...,
  1504. >once you made landfall...
  1505. >Cider belches and shrugs his shoulders
  1506. >>"Heyyyy, can't blame a guy for tryin'."
  1507. >he once more looks to you
  1508. >>"Sorry 'bout that, miss."
  1509. >as he begins to search his coat for more bottles, you snap back
  1510. "Yeah, I'm sure you are. You'd better watch your tongue from now on, or I'll throw you overboard myself!"
  1511. >he stops leaning against the railing and tries to stand straight
  1512. >>"Look, I think we just got off on the wrong hoof,"
  1513. >he holds out his hoof to you
  1514. >>"Why don't we start over again? The name's Cider Guzzler."
  1515. >at least he's attempting an apology..
  1516. >as you extend your hoof to his, he suddenly collapses forwards
  1517. >the booze must have finally gotten to him
  1518. >the floor of the bridge clangs as he impacts against it
  1519. >but he doesn't wake up
  1520. >instead, he starts to snore
  1521. >Jäger chuckles as Runner and Strike join you on the bridge
  1522. >he notices they have the raft
  1523. >"Get that set up off the stern and throw him,"
  1524. >he gestures to the sleeping pony
  1525. >"in it once you're done."
  1526.  
  1527. >you are Quiet Runner
  1528. >both you and Strike stopped climbing the ladder when you heard the captain push the pony off the bridge
  1529. >now you're both trying desperately to not burst out laughing
  1530. >the captain is trying to talk with a different pony
  1531. >but he's constantly derailing the conversation because he's drunk!
  1532. >you look down at Strike, who is holding onto the ladder below you
  1533. "How long do you think he has until he ends up in the water too?"
  1534. >she laughs quietly
  1535. >"I'd give it ten seconds or so."
  1536. >you both stop laughing as you hear the drunken pony speak
  1537. >>"Heyyy, I didn't know there were hot mares on this tub."
  1538. >you and Strike are just as stunned as the captain and Bow are
  1539. >"Bow's gonna kill him!"
  1540. >you are about to agree with her but the captain speaks, stopping you
  1541. >>>"You're funny Cider, but I'm afraid to tell you that she's already taken."
  1542. >wut
  1543. >are the captain and Bow.....
  1544. >>>"Yep, there's a stallion eagerly waiting for her back in Vanhoover."
  1545. >oh thank Manos
  1546. >for a second, you thought he meant that she was taken by himself
  1547. >you chuckle to yourself as you resume climbing the ladder
  1548. >as you pull yourself through the small hatchway, you can see that the drunk pony is passed out on the deck
  1549. >the captain look over at you, and the raft you and Strike are carrying
  1550. >>>"Get that set up off the stern and throw him in it once you're done."
  1551. >he then steps over the passed out pony and slides down the conning tower ladder before walking over to the group of survivors massed on the deck
  1552. >you look behind you at Strike
  1553. "I think we missed something.."
  1554. >she nods
  1555. >"Yeah no kidding, when did all these ponies get here?"
  1556.  
  1557. >you are Stiller Jäger
  1558. >you are standing in front of the group of survivors on the deck of your boat
  1559. >time to lay down the law
  1560. "Welcome aboard my boat, gentlecolts. I expect you to give me your full attention, because I'll only be explaining this once."
  1561. >when you get no response, you continue, pacing the narrow length of the deck
  1562. "My name is Captain Stiller Jäger, we are with Lord Manos' Reichsmarine."
  1563. >one of the ponies reluctantly raises a hoof
  1564. "What?"
  1565. >"I though the Reich was landlocked..."
  1566. >you chuckle
  1567. "Until a few days ago, we were. You're on the Reich's first naval vessel."
  1568. >you get back on track before he can ask another question
  1569. "We sank your ship. It wasn't some magical or random explosion; we did it with our armament."
  1570. >you glare at the group
  1571. "We ordered you to abandon your ship, but you refused."
  1572. >you think back to your days in the Royal Navy
  1573. "We followed YOUR procedure for merchant targets, despite the fact that you were a military ship; we gave you a chance to leave before we attacked."
  1574. >he resume your pacing
  1575. "Now that you're our guests, there are a few rules I expect to be followed."
  1576. >you stop pacing
  1577. "You will all be spending your days and nights out here until we make landfall; we are on out way back to Vanhoover as we speak."
  1578. >you point towards the stern of the boat
  1579. "There is a raft tied up on the stern of the vessel, you will put your wounded in there."
  1580. >another pony raises a hoof
  1581. >>"What will happen to us when we make it to Vanhoover?"
  1582. >you shake your head
  1583. "I honestly don't know. I suspect you'll be treated like any other prisoners and taken back to the Reich for processing."
  1584. >another question
  1585. >>>"What do you mean 'processing'?"
  1586. >you roll your eyes
  1587. "As in you'll go through an interrogation session and then put with the other prisoners of war."
  1588.  
  1589. >you are a Royal Navy seapony
  1590. >you don't like the sound of being 'processed'
  1591. >but apparently it's just the normal procedure for prisoners of war in the Reich
  1592. >you wonder how long its been since that term has been used in Equestria...
  1593. >centuries, probably
  1594. >you look down at the deck upon which you stand
  1595. >it's metal
  1596. >you think out loud, whispering
  1597. "How unusual..."
  1598. >a fellow seapony next to you looks at you
  1599. >"What? The fact that we were sunk in a matter of minutes by these traitors?"
  1600. >you look up at him
  1601. "What? No, this ship; it's made of metal, yet it is able to float."
  1602. >you furrow your brows
  1603. "And to be fair, they warned us that they were armed; we didn't listen."
  1604. >he raises his voice at you
  1605. "You're starting to sound like one of them! We were sunk because this thing was built with the help of Manos' evil magic."
  1606. >you'd wanted to join the Reich, but your military obligations prevented you from doing so
  1607. >even so, you aren't going to let this oaf badmouth the ponies that saved your lives when they could have left you to drown
  1608. "Lord Manos is a far more competent ruler than Celestia ever was! You heard the report we received this morning; she was incompetent enough to get herself captured!"
  1609. >the pony speaks aggressively now
  1610. >"LORD Manos?"
  1611. >uh oh
  1612. "I mean, well, you know, that's his formal title.."
  1613. >he narrows his eyes at you, but does not reply
  1614. >in time, the group settles down as the sun begins to set
  1615. >in a few days time, you'll finally be able to see the Reich
  1616. >though not under the conditions you were hoping for
  1617.  
  1618. >you are Stiller Jäger
  1619. >and you are exhausted
  1620. >as the sun begins to set, you and your crew descend back into the hull of the boat
  1621. >you are the last to descend the ladder, latching the hatch shut above you
  1622. >you can't risk the survivors coming down and taking over the boat
  1623. >not that they would know how to operate it anyway
  1624. >as your hooves touch the cool metal plating of the command room floor, you are greeted by a familiar sight
  1625. >Bow, sitting in her chair just as she was the previous night
  1626. >you can already tell what she wants to talk about
  1627. >you give her that smirk that you reserve only for her as you grab a chair and sit down yourself
  1628. "What's shakin' Bow?"
  1629. >she rolls her eyes
  1630. >"Oh, I think you know what's 'shakin''"
  1631. >your smirk grows
  1632. "You're wondering why I said there's a pony waiting for you in Vanhoover."
  1633. >she nods
  1634. "Well, I couldn't let that drunkard continue to harass my best officer, could I?"
  1635. >she motions for you to continue
  1636. "And I did promise that I would take you out when we get back to port."
  1637. >she shakes her head
  1638. >"No, you implied it."
  1639. >ah, it seems you're trapped now
  1640. >for some reason, you don't want to look weak or unsure in front of her
  1641. >you shrug
  1642. "Well, it's a promise now."
  1643. >though you're not sure, you swear you caught the slightest hint of a smile on her face when you said that
  1644. >you might be one of the best officers in the Reichsmarine, Bow, but you're still a mare
  1645.  
  1646. >you are First Strike
  1647. >and you are getting ready for bed
  1648. >Runner is doing the same at his bunk across from yours
  1649. >you wonder if today has tired him out as much as it has you
  1650. >as you pull the thin sheets back on your mat, you put a voice to your thoughts
  1651. "Have a rough day Quiet?"
  1652. >sure it's unprofessional to use his first name, but you're both good friends now
  1653. >he moans dramatically in response
  1654. >"That and more!"
  1655. >you chuckle
  1656. "Yeah, well my job isn't exactly a cakewalk either."
  1657. >he sighs
  1658. >"Yeah, I guess we both had it pretty rough today."
  1659. >he grasps the small Hand still around his neck from this morning
  1660. >"We should give thanks for our first successful hit on a target."
  1661. >as he begins to kneel, you cock an eyebrow at him
  1662. "What's the deal? I thought you weren't a believer. I mean, you were at the prayer this morning, but why?"
  1663. >he looks up at you and bites his lip, as if deciding whether he should share a secret
  1664. >"Remember when we were in the park in Vanhoover; you know, where He was?"
  1665. >you nod
  1666. "Yeah, I remember all right; that was my first time seeing him outside of a rally."
  1667. >Runner continues
  1668. >"Well, He looked at me, and well,"
  1669. >he hesitates
  1670. >"He showed me something."
  1671. >you are confused
  1672. "What do you mean?"
  1673. >Runner shakes his head, clearly becoming frustrated
  1674. >"I don't know how to explain it, but he showed me Valhalla."
  1675. >though you're still confused, you speak
  1676. "And this is why you've been praying now? Lord Manos proved the truth of his words to you?"
  1677. >Runner nods slowly
  1678. >"Yes... He is Fate, and we are his Hands."
  1679. >smiling, you kneel next to him and begin praying as well
  1680.  
  1681. >you are Cider Guzzler
  1682. >and you are in agony
  1683. >apparently you had fallen asleep at some point, because you woke up lying in a life raft
  1684. >fortunately, it was tied off to the back of the metal thing
  1685. >but that doesn't matter
  1686. >what matters is that you have absolutely ZERO cider in your system, and are feeling the effects of it
  1687. "Oh buck, my head..."
  1688. >clutching your hoof to your forehead, you climb out of the raft and carefully cross the gap to get onto the metal boat
  1689. "I've gotta find some cider..."
  1690. >you are careful as you work your way over to the conning tower of the boat
  1691. >the moon in the sky shines against the metal surface of the boat, bringing pain to your eyes
  1692. "I need to find some cider right now.."
  1693. >you climb the ladder on the tower and now stand on what you guess is the bridge
  1694. "Where's the door to get inside?"
  1695. >the whole area is similar to the crow's nest you used to sit in
  1696. >you look down
  1697. "Ahah!"
  1698. >there's a metal hatchway in the floor
  1699. >you wrap you hooves around the latch and turn
  1700. >nothing
  1701. "Horseapples, locked."
  1702. >forget stealth, you need cider!
  1703. >you begin banging on the hatch
  1704. "Hey, lemme in!"
  1705. >you hear low murmuring coming from the bow of the boat
  1706. >you stand and look down from the bridge onto the deck
  1707. >the other survivors must have been woken by your noise
  1708. >a few look up and see you on the bridge
  1709. >"What the buck Cider? Get down from there!"
  1710. >>"Are you crazy; their captain will kill you!"
  1711. >you hear the groaning of metal behind you
  1712. >you turn to see the latch to the hatchway being turned from the inside
  1713. >you are reminded of the old saying: 'speak of the devil, and he shall appear'
  1714.  
  1715. >you are Strong Bow
  1716. >and you are going to kill whoever is banging on the bridge hatch
  1717. >Jäger went to bed nearly an hour ago, and you were about to do the same
  1718. >as you climb the ladder to the bridge, you grumble
  1719. "I swear, if it's that stupid drunkard..."
  1720. >pushing the hatch open, your hopes are dashed
  1721. "YOU; what are you doing up here?!"
  1722. >the pony puts his hands over his ears, as though in pain
  1723. >"AAAH, not so loud!"
  1724. >you pull yourself up onto the bridge and stand to your full height
  1725. "You're in no position to give orders, you drunken mess."
  1726. >Cider shakes his head
  1727. >"I'm not drunk."
  1728. >he rubs his head
  1729. >oh, he's hung over
  1730. >you smirk and yell
  1731. "I'm sorry, what was that, Cider?!
  1732. >Cider once more covers his ears
  1733. >"Gaah, please stop!"
  1734. >you take a step towards him
  1735. "If you want me to stop yelling, I suggest you get your flank back to the raft we threw you in!"
  1736. >slowly, Cider turns around and climbs back down the ladder, leaving you alone on the bridge
  1737. >you sigh and climb back down into the command room, making sure to lock the hatch above you
  1738. >as you descend the latter, you mutter to yourself
  1739. "He'd better be acting normal by tomorrow morning..."
  1740. >after confirming everything is done for the night, you enter the officers quarters and collapse on your bunk
  1741. >however, before you can close your eyes and doze off, a voice from the bunk opposite yours grabs your attention
  1742. >>"You know, you really are a loud yeller Bow."
  1743.  
  1744. >you are Stiller Jäger
  1745. >and though Bow did in fact wake you up with her yelling, you're not really upset
  1746. "You know, you really are a loud yeller Bow."
  1747. >you can't see her in the darkened room, but you know she's there
  1748. >through the sounds of Strike and Runner sleeping, you can hear her reaction to your voice
  1749. >a gasp
  1750. >you roll your eyes
  1751. "Loud noises tend to wake sleeping ponies, Fraulein."
  1752. >you can hear her positioning herself underneath her covers
  1753. >"Sorry about that, Jäger; that drunken pony was causing trouble up there."
  1754. >Jäger
  1755. >she's still not using your proper title
  1756. >at this point you wonder if it's intentional
  1757. "Just be glad you didn't wake Strike; I personally wouldn't want to see a weapons officer angry."
  1758. >you hear her chuckle
  1759. >and then an awkward pause
  1760. >Bow suddenly sighs before asking
  1761. >"What do you want to do once this war is over, Jäger?"
  1762. >that's a good question
  1763. >one which you've only given a little thought towards
  1764. "Well, I want to teach ponies how to do our jobs as officers on a u-boat."
  1765. >"You want to be a teacher at a naval academy?"
  1766. >you nod, despite the fact that Bow can't see it
  1767. "Yeah, a job like that will leave me with enough time to finally do all the extra things I've wanted to do my whole life."
  1768. >"Like?"
  1769. "Well, I've always wanted to get a small yacht and sail across the Celestial Sea."
  1770. >Bow snorts
  1771. >"Are you hoping to visit Griffonstone in the process?"
  1772. >you chuckle
  1773. "Of course, I'd turn around just short of it."
  1774. >Bow waits a few moments before asking her next question
  1775. >"Is there anything else you hope to do?"
  1776. >you smirk
  1777. >you wish there was light just so you could see her reaction to your answer
  1778. "Yeah; I've always wanted to start a family."
  1779.  
  1780. >you are Quiet Runner
  1781. >you crack your eyes open
  1782. >through the very small (and thick) window in the roof of the officers quarters, you can tell that the sun is starting to rise
  1783. >ugh, time to get up
  1784. >you pull your covers off of yourself before hopping down from your bunk onto the cold metal floor
  1785. >you grumble to yourself quietly
  1786. "First thing we're changing in the next model u-boat is we're putting carpeting in here.."
  1787. >you reach up and tap Strike, who is still sleeping
  1788. "Wakey wakey, time to make breaky."
  1789. >she rolls to face away from you
  1790. >oh, she isn't getting out of work this morning
  1791. >you rip her covers away from her body
  1792. >she sits up and attempts to reach for her covers, which you hold just out of her reach
  1793. "You ain't sleeping in today, we've got a bunch of ponies to feed."
  1794. >with a huff, Strike jumps down from her bunk and yawns
  1795. >"Alright, but only because there are so many extra ponies on-board."
  1796. >smiling victoriously, you lead the way over to the now familiar stove and oven
  1797. "Today is Sunday, so we'll be making a stew."
  1798. >Strike sighs
  1799. >"Good, something easy."
  1800. >you place two giant pots on the stoves and fill both with water before turning on the heat
  1801. "Alright, now let's get to chopping."
  1802. >you pull out a box similar to the one full of peppers from yesterday, but this one is filled with a mixed assortment of veggies
  1803. "This might take a while."
  1804. >you smirk as Strike moans in frustration before taking a few veggies
  1805. >she'll get used to helping you in the mornings
  1806. >besides, cooking is a lonely job, so it's nice to at least have someone to talk to
  1807.  
  1808. >you are Strong Bow
  1809. >you were awoken by the smell of stewing vegetables
  1810. >you are putting on your officer's jacket when Jäger yawns and speaks
  1811. >"Smells like Runner is making some kind of stew or soup."
  1812. >you chuckle
  1813. "Yeah, let's hope he made enough for us and our.... guests."
  1814. >he climbs out of his bunk and throws his jacket on, buttoning it as he walks towards the hatchway to the command room
  1815. "Gee, you could at least wait for me."
  1816. >you looks back and throws you one of his trademark smirks
  1817. >"I wouldn't dream of leaving a mare like you behind, Bow."
  1818. >you can feel the annoying burning sensation once more taking over your face
  1819. >he then WINKS at you before walking into the command room
  1820. >he's so smug in his ability to affect you so
  1821. >you'll have to think of a way to get back at him
  1822. >the only issue is that he's your commanding officer, and could write you up if you're too..... extreme(lewd)
  1823. >you huff in frustration before following him into the command room
  1824. >luckily, the blush has left your face already
  1825. >as you enter the room, you are greeted by Runner
  1826. >>"Morning Bow!"
  1827. >you give him a half-hearted wave
  1828. "Morning Runner."
  1829. >you look to the other end of the room and see Jäger leaning against the bulkhead
  1830. >still wearing that stupid smirk
  1831. >you sigh before looking down to make sure that your uniform is tidy
  1832. >everything looks goo-
  1833. >wait a second
  1834. >the second button on the left row is loose
  1835. >and looks about ready to fall off
  1836. >you turn to return to your bunk and grab a needle and thread when a thought occurs to you
  1837. >you look back down at the button
  1838. >and smile evilly to yourself
  1839. >you reach up to the loose button and drag your hoof against it, snapping the last thread holding it in place
  1840. >it falls and dings against the metal floor
  1841. >you bring a hoof up to your cheek and put on a worried look
  1842. "Oops, I've lost a button!"
  1843. >you glace behind you to make sure Jäger is still watching you
  1844. "I can't seem to find it, I'll have to look closer."
  1845. >you bend your forward hooves in, bringing the front half of your body to the floor...
  1846. >and leaving your rump high in the air, pointed right at your captain
  1847. >you glance back at Jäger once more
  1848. >his eyes are huge and locked on your rump
  1849. >while trying not to laugh, you give it a little wiggle
  1850. >his mouth drops open at this, and a field of red engulfs his face
  1851. >you can't help it, a small laugh escapes your lips
  1852. >"Something funny Bow?"
  1853. >you look up at Runner, who is eyeing you oddly
  1854. "Oh uh, I'm just happy that, uhhhhh,"
  1855. >you spot the button and quickly snatch it up before standing from the floor
  1856. "I'm just happy that I found my button is all!"
  1857. >you turn to look back at Jäger
  1858. >while he's fixed his open mouth, the blush and eyes are still the same
  1859. >you give him a smug smirk before walking back into the officers quarter to fetch a thread and needle
  1860.  
  1861. >you are Stiller Jäger
  1862. >............
  1863. >WHAT THE BUCK JUST HAPPENED?
  1864. >there's no way in Tartarus that Bow was just looking her a button
  1865. >she wiggled it, for Manos' sake!
  1866. >okay, just calm down; don't let her get the better of you
  1867. >you touch your face with your hoof
  1868. >hot to the touch
  1869. >she's made you blush!
  1870. >as Bow continues to walk away, you narrow your eyes and mumble
  1871. "You're playing with fire, Bow; and you're going to get burned."
  1872. >Runner suddenly shouts
  1873. >"Breakfast is ready!"
  1874. >good, something to end this awkward moment
  1875. >eager to get away from the rest of your crew (lest they see your face), you say a bit too quickly
  1876. "I'll go up and wake the prisoners!"
  1877. >Runner holds a hoof up to stop you
  1878. >"I'll come up with you; I'll bring a pot of stew and bowls up with me!"
  1879. >you reply through clenched teeth
  1880. "Thank you Runner...... the help is much appreciated...."
  1881. >"Sure thing cap'n!"
  1882. >while trying to hide your face, you climb the ladder and unlatch the hatch to the bridge
  1883. >climbing onto the bridge, you revel in the cool sea air blowing in your face
  1884. >every day of grief on this voyage is made worth it by this moment every morning
  1885. >you can feel the blush finally leave your face
  1886. >good
  1887. >you look down on the deck to see a dozen faces looking back up at you
  1888. >instantly, all hell breaks loose
  1889. >>"You've got to do something about him!"
  1890. >>>"He's driving us insane!"
  1891. >>>>"We were so close to throwing him overboard!"
  1892. >>>>>"Just give him a drink so he'll shut up!"
  1893. >in front of the group of ponies, in the fetal position, is Cider Guzzler, rocking back and forth
  1894. "Great...."
  1895. >the group of ponies are still all speaking at once
  1896. >a very annoying noise
  1897. >you raise your hoof above your head and slam it against the conning tower
  1898. "Shut up!"
  1899. >slowly the voices die down until there is silence
  1900. >satisfied with the quiet, you climb down the ladder on the tower down to the deck
  1901. >the ponies make way for you as you walk towards Cider
  1902. >he doesn't seem to notice you, and continues to rock back and forth
  1903. "On your hooves, sailor."
  1904. >he doesn't move to stand
  1905. "I said,"
  1906. >you reach down and grab the back of his mane, pulling his face up to look at you
  1907. "ON YOUR HOOVES!"
  1908. >his eyes are bloodshot and his lip is quivering as he does as ordered
  1909. >his legs are shakey, and he looks nearly ready to collapse
  1910. "Good. Now, follow me; we are going to set you straight."
  1911. >you turn and go back to the ladder with Cider in tow
  1912. >you both climb the ladder and are standing on the bridge
  1913. >you look back to the group of ponies
  1914. "When he comes back out, he'll won't be bothering you anymore. Until then, I suggest you enjoy Runner's cooking."
  1915. >you gesture to Runner, who is still on the bridge with a pot and bowls
  1916. >he nods
  1917. >"That's right! Get it while it's hot!"
  1918. >you turn to face Cider
  1919. "You are going to follow me down there."
  1920. >you point to the still open hatchway
  1921. "Come on."
  1922. >you and Cider descent into the command room
  1923. >Cider doesn't say a word the entire time
  1924. >when he reaches the bottom of the ladder, you reach into your coat and retrieve something
  1925. >a flask
  1926. >without hesitation, you hold it out for Cider to take
  1927. "Drink this, or they will tear you limb from limb."
  1928. >you really meant that YOU would tear him limb from limb
  1929.  
  1930. >you are Quiet Runner
  1931. >it was tough, but you managed to climb down the conning tower ladder while carrying your pot of stew
  1932. >upon being instructed to do so, the ponies on the deck formed an orderly line and one by one began to get their stew
  1933. >as you spoon stew into another bowl, you question the pony in front of you
  1934. "Not trying to offend you or anything; but why do you Royalists detest us so much?"
  1935. >before the pony can answer, you add
  1936. "I mean, all we did was make decisions for ourselves, instead of having the princesses make them for us."
  1937. >the pony leans in and speaks low
  1938. >"I'm afraid that's not really a question I can answer while in a soup line..."
  1939. >you shrug
  1940. "Alright,"
  1941. >you raise your voice
  1942. "Then it will be a group discussion while we eat."
  1943. >after a few minutes, the last pony has his stew
  1944. >you lean back against the conning tower, facing the group of ponies enjoying their meal, yet awaiting what you have to say
  1945. "Alright, I'm going to ask a question, and I'm going to allow each of you the chance to answer it."
  1946. >you pause and let silence reign for a few moments
  1947. "Why is it that we are at war with each other?"
  1948. >while some look ready to give immediate answers, others begin to discuss the question with one another
  1949. >>"I'll tell you why; it's because you're traitors!"
  1950. >>>"Yeah, the Princesses are the rightful sovereigns in these lands!"
  1951. >you hold up a hoof to stop them
  1952. "Celestia left us with little choice but to secede from the Realm. Have you heard what has become of out brothers and sisters in Canterlot?"
  1953. >no one in the group says anything
  1954. "I thought not; Celestia and Luna had been and still are rounding up all who follow Manos' faith within the city, I don't care to go into detail about what happens to them once they're in custody..."
  1955. >you continue
  1956. "Many of us could see that the Princesses would do something like this, so we rallied together to defend ourselves and our Faith."
  1957. >you have a nervous feeling in your gut as you continue to preach to these ponies
  1958. >you speak of the Reich's ponies rallying to fight the oppression of the Princesses
  1959. >yet you journeyed to the Reich for career opportunities
  1960. >of course, you are now a firm believer of Manos and his vision of a better future for Equestria
  1961. >while you are conflicted about what you say on in the inside, the image you present to your 'guests' is one of confidence and intelligence
  1962. "Tell me, what did Celestia tell you would happen if the war ended in her favor?"
  1963. >you cock a brow
  1964. "What would she change to prevent such disunity from ever existing again?"
  1965. >when there are no answers, you stop leaning against the conning tower and begin to pace across the deck
  1966. "I'll tell you what she would have changed: nothing."
  1967. >there is a call from the group
  1968. >"Horseapples!"
  1969. >you look at the pony who made the outburst
  1970. >he's heavyset; not with fat, but with muscle
  1971. >"She'd make sure traitors like you were dealt with before you could rally!"
  1972. >you smirk at the pony
  1973. "Oh yes? If the Princess is so able to create change in Equestria, why is it that your military has yet to make any kind of adaptation to match our style of warfare?"
  1974. >you now sneer at him
  1975. "I doubt she could change all of Equestria if she is not even able to change her own devoted military."
  1976. >you point your hoof out at the ocean in the direction of Vanhoover
  1977. "We've bested you at every engagement because we've changed our military, our ponies, our entire culture!"
  1978. >you stomp your hoof against the hard metal of the deck
  1979. "Is not the deck upon which you stand proof enough of this?"
  1980. >many of the ponies look down, and seem still amazed at the ability to make a functioning vessel out of such a material
  1981. "Your reactions tell me all I need to know."
  1982. >you once more lean back against the tower
  1983. "You know just as well as I how this war will end."
  1984. >you smirk once more
  1985. "With our flags fluttering above every city in Equestria."
  1986.  
  1987. >you are Stiller Jäger
  1988. >and you are currently struggling to push Cider Guzzler up the ladder to the bridge
  1989. "Why the buck did you drink it all at once, you drunkard?"
  1990. >above you, Cider hiccups as you continue to shove against his backside
  1991. >"It was GOOD STUFF, captain guy!"
  1992. >buck this, you'll never get him back outside at this rate
  1993. >you climb down and call up to the drunken pony
  1994. "Get off the ladder."
  1995. >Cider wastes no time in falling off said ladder, impacting loudly against the floor
  1996. >"Owwwwwwie!"
  1997. >you shake your head
  1998. "Idiot..."
  1999. >you climb a few steps up the ladder and then reach down and grab hold of Cider's collar
  2000. "It's a good thing you're not fat, or you'd be stuck down here with us; or rather, vice versa."
  2001. >with a heave, you lift the pony from the ground and slowly begin to climb the ladder
  2002. >straining, you manage to speak through your teeth
  2003. "That doesn't mean you're light though.."
  2004. >after reaching the top of the ladder, you climb through the small hatchway and then lift Cider up onto the bridge
  2005. "Alright; now that you're feeling better, you can rejoin your group."
  2006. >as Cider climbs down the tower ladder, you can hear the groans of his comrades upon seeing him
  2007. >before long, Runner climbs up the same ladder, empty pot and bowls in tow
  2008. >>"Well, they liked the stew."
  2009. >you nod
  2010. "Good."
  2011. >looking out upon the vast ocean in front of you, you continue
  2012. "Now I need you at your post, Runner. We're going to be increasing speed soon."
  2013. >Runner gives you a salute
  2014. >>"Got it."
  2015. >he descends the ladder to the command room, leaving you alone on the bridge
  2016. >you sigh
  2017. "We'll be making port by the end of the day, I should start thinking about what Bow and I are going to do..."
  2018.  
  2019. >you are Strong Bow
  2020. >and today has been a very busy day so far
  2021. >you've been in the command room, compiling all the notes you've taken over the last few days
  2022. >all these notes are going into a crew report which Jäger will present to Reichsmarschall Honor Bound
  2023. >you know Jäger doesn't like the Reichsmarschall
  2024. >and honestly, you can't blame him
  2025. >you only met Honor Bound once, while you were still working on your designs for the u-boat hull
  2026. >he was very dismissive of your efforts and overall seems to view the entire u-boat project with disdain
  2027. >fortunately, he's no longer in charge of its development, just its operational planning, which is practically nonexistent seeing as there's only one
  2028. >as you place more papers into the file, you can hear Jäger descending from the bridge
  2029. >you know it's him because he's the only one who's been keeping watch all day
  2030. >you turn your head towards the ladder behind you
  2031. >sure enough, there he is
  2032. >"We'll be reaching Vanhoover soon."
  2033. >you raise your eyebrows
  2034. "We're making good time then."
  2035. >if you're going to be making port before nightfall, that probably means that tonight will be your 'date' night
  2036. >you look down at your uniform, tidy and neat as it is every day
  2037. >not exactly what you'd prefer to wear on a night out, but it'll do
  2038. >you can imagine that Jäger is thinking the same thing
  2039. "So....."
  2040. >ugh, it's so awkward talking about this
  2041. "What are,"
  2042. >you gesture to him and yourself
  2043. "we going to do in Vanhoover?"
  2044. >he must have been prepared for this question, because he answers immediately
  2045. >"We're going to a restaurant."
  2046. >you roll your eyes
  2047. "Any restaurant in particular?"
  2048. >Jäger nods
  2049. "Care to tell me which one?"
  2050. >he shakes his head
  2051. >"Nope! It'll be a surprise."
  2052. >you sigh
  2053. >he can have it his way
  2054.  
  2055. >you are First Strike
  2056. >from what you've been hearing, you should be at Vanhoover within in only a couple of hours
  2057. >you highly doubt that you'll be encountering any more enemy ships before you dock
  2058. >so you might as well get all of the torpedoes secured before you dock
  2059. >you walk over to one of the large racks holding spare torpedoes
  2060. >you lovingly rub one with your hoof
  2061. "Sorry boys, but it sounds like we're almost home."
  2062. >you begin to open up the weapon
  2063. >the gyroscopes within them are sensitive, so you don't want to leave them inside
  2064. >besides, you should have new and improved ones by the time you have a production model ready to go out on another patrol
  2065. >as you remove the small metal device from the torpedo, you examine it
  2066. "You little guys did better than I expected."
  2067. >indeed, they did
  2068. >you were honestly expecting a miss when you fired at the RN ship
  2069. >partly because the information you had was minimal
  2070. >and partly because, as you've said before, the torpedoes weren't built to the standards you wanted
  2071. "Yep, we'll be making port very soon."
  2072. >making port...
  2073. >what are you going to do once you're in Vanhoover?
  2074. >it's not like you have to write a report or anything, Bow and the Captain have already taken care of that
  2075. "I guess I might as well see if Runner wants to hang out while we're in the city.."
  2076. >Runner is from Vanhoover, so he'd know best what to do there
  2077. "Yeah, that sounds like a plan."
  2078. >you turn you attention back to the torpedo you're working on
  2079. >you have work to do until then
  2080.  
  2081. >you are Stiller Jäger
  2082. >after talking with Bow down in the command room, you resumed your post up on the bridge
  2083. >this time, however, she decided to join you
  2084. >as she stand beside you, scanning the horizon as you are, you reflect on your interactions throughout the patrol
  2085. >at first, your relationship was just as professional as it was with Strike or Runner
  2086. >then, your relationship became one of teasing friendship
  2087. >and now....
  2088. >well, you don't really know how you feel
  2089. >the more you talk about your plans for tonight, the more natural it feels
  2090. >almost like it's a date you WANT to go on, as opposed to one you have to go on
  2091. >is that what's happening?
  2092. >are you honestly looking forward to a date with Bow?
  2093. >out of the corner of your eye, you observe her
  2094. >the sea wind tousles her mane about her face in a manner which you can only describe as attractive
  2095. >her uniform does an excellent job of outlining her well-balanced figure
  2096. >while her body is well-toned, she still holds all the physical traits of a pony that would make a good mother
  2097. >uhhhh
  2098. >you return your focus to the horizon
  2099. >that is an observation you've never made with any other mare you've worked with
  2100. >okay, maybe you ARE looking forward to tonight; so what?
  2101. >suddenly, you feel Bow tap on your shoulder
  2102. "I wasn't doing anything, I swear!"
  2103. >Bow looks confused
  2104. >"uhh, I was just going to say that I can see Vanhoover."
  2105. >your muscles relax
  2106. "Oh,"
  2107. >you look through your binoculars in the direction she's pointing
  2108. "right, Vanhoover."
  2109. >you lower them from your face
  2110. "I guess we'd better start making the final preparations for docking."
  2111. >first thing's first though, you need to law down the law once more
  2112. >you look down at the group of ponies still on the deck
  2113. "Gefangene!"
  2114. >what?
  2115. >Bow looks at you weirdly
  2116. "Errr, prisoners!"
  2117. >they look up at you
  2118. >good, they didn't notice your slip
  2119. "We'll be reaching Vanhoover within the hour, so there are a few rules that you will follow during and after docking!"
  2120. >they remain silent and wait for you to continue
  2121. "Number one: when I give the word, you are to lay flat on the deck and not move until I say so, anyone who tries to jump overboard will be executed on the spot."
  2122. >Cider raises his hoof
  2123. >you sigh
  2124. "What is it, Cider?"
  2125. >"I need to pee!"
  2126. >.....
  2127. "Moving on, number 2: during doc-"
  2128. >"No, I said pee, not number 2!"
  2129. >before you can yell at the drunken fool, he is enveloped by magic and thrown overboard
  2130. >the ponies on the deck erupt with cheering and applause
  2131. >you look at Bow, who's horn is still glowing
  2132. >she shrugs
  2133. >>"Sorry."
  2134. >you sigh again
  2135. "Yeah, I'm sure you are."
  2136. >you return your attention to the group, which is still cheering
  2137. "As I was saying!"
  2138. >the noise dies down until they are silent once more
  2139. "During docking, you will remain absolutely silent unless told otherwise. That is all."
  2140. >you turn your attention back to Bow
  2141. "Did you really have to kill him?"
  2142. >Bow shakes her head
  2143. >>"I didn't."
  2144. >she points back to the stern of the boat
  2145. >there, in the same raft he slept in the night before, is a knocked out Cider Guzzler
  2146. >>"I wouldn't tell the prisoners that, however."
  2147.  
  2148. >you are First Strike
  2149. >and you've finally finished all of your work in the torpedo room
  2150. >might as well join the captain and Bow on the bridge
  2151. >as you ascend the ladder to the bridge, you can hear horns blaring
  2152. >you must be very close to docking
  2153. >you pull yourself through the hatchway and stand beside your fellow officers
  2154. >indeed, the city of Vanhoover is right up in your face
  2155. >Bow greets you
  2156. >"There you are Strike; are you all done with the torpedoes?"
  2157. >you nod
  2158. "Yep, they're all secured for docking."
  2159. >you return your gaze to the port city before you
  2160. "I'm guessing that's not too far out."
  2161. >Jäger chimes in
  2162. >>"We should be docking within the next few minutes, I'm just trying to line up with one of these piers.."
  2163. >you notice that he's intently focused on his steering
  2164. >you can't imagine it's easy to maneuver this boat, it is essentially just a metal tube
  2165. >Bow looks back at you
  2166. >"Come on, I'll need your help to tie off the boat."
  2167. >with that, she begins to climb down the ladder to the deck
  2168. >you follow her down
  2169. >Bow hands you a rope
  2170. >"I'll take the front, you take the rear."
  2171. >you nod
  2172. "Got it."
  2173. >you walk to the stern of the boat, where Cider Guzzler is asleep in his raft
  2174. "Weird, when did he go back to sleep?"
  2175.  
  2176. >you are Bronze Key
  2177. >you are the harbourmaster of Vanhoover's port
  2178. >outside your small office, you can see a crowd gathering on one of the piers
  2179. >you sigh
  2180. >it's probably another Royal Navy vessel unaware of the city's capture
  2181. >you leave your office and walk to the crowd
  2182. "Alright, alright, what's going on here?"
  2183. >a small colt tugs on your coat
  2184. >"Mr. Bronze, what's that thing coming toward the port?"
  2185. >wut?
  2186. >you push your way to the front of the crowd
  2187. >and then you see it
  2188. >some kind of weird grey.... thing is getting close and signalling a desire to dock
  2189. "What the...?
  2190. >>"Ahoy!"
  2191. >the pony on the tower of the thing just called out to you
  2192. "Uhhh, Ahoy?"
  2193. >you notice all the ponies on the front of the... boat, or whatever it is
  2194. >all but one of them are wearing Royal Navy uniforms
  2195. >yet the thing flies the flag of Manos
  2196. "How odd..."
  2197. >one of the ponies on the deck calls out to you now
  2198. >>>"Be ready to catch our lines!"
  2199. >you are too confused to even consider refusing
  2200. "Aye!"
  2201. >as the boat slips next to your pier, you call out
  2202. "Alright, get ready!"
  2203. >the boat is now in position
  2204. "Three, two, one, NOW!"
  2205. >the pony casts her rope out to you
  2206. >you catch it and tie it off on the pier
  2207. >another pony farther down the pier does the same with another rope
  2208. >time to see who these ponies really are
  2209.  
  2210. >you are Stiller Jäger
  2211. >you quickly call down to Runner
  2212. "Alright, we're secured. Shut down the engines."
  2213. >he replies with a quick 'aye captain'
  2214. >you put on a stern face and climb down the ladder to the deck
  2215. >no doubt someone will be skeptical of who you are
  2216. >you walk up to Bow, who is placing a large wooden plank across the gap between the boat and pier
  2217. "Be ready for anything to happen."
  2218. >she nods
  2219. >"I already am."
  2220. >she taps the slight bulge in her left coat pocket
  2221. >a pony wearing a maritime uniform walks up to the plank
  2222. >you immediately recognize it as a harbormasters uniform
  2223. "Ah, harbourmaster, I'm glad you made sure to provide us a welcoming party."
  2224. >you gesture to the large crowd on the pier
  2225. >he decides to ignore your comment
  2226. >>"Who do you serve? You have ponies with Royal Navy uniforms on your deck."
  2227. >you look back at the group of prisoners
  2228. "Oh, them? They're prisoners we picked up from a ship we sank. To answer your question, we're with the Reichsmarine"
  2229. >the harbourmasters jaw drops
  2230. >>"But.... you have no weapons!"
  2231. >you decide not to get too far off topic talking about your boat
  2232. "Anyway, we're docking here and I need you to gather some ponies from the garrison to move these prisoners."
  2233. >the harbourmaster doesn't say anything for a few moments before giving you a salute
  2234. >>"Alright, but don't think that I won't check in with the garrison command to make sure you're supposed to be here."
  2235. >you smile
  2236. "Thank you, harbourmaster."
  2237. >with that, you look back at your crew and the prisoners
  2238. "Pack it up! We're getting off this tub!"
  2239.  
  2240. >you are Quier Runner
  2241. >after suffering long days of unbearable heat in this engine room, you finally get to have your revenge
  2242. >you move over to the master controls for the engines
  2243. >with a smile on your face, you pull the large lever at the center of it all
  2244. >with a final putter, the engine grows quieter and quieter until it finally stops altogether
  2245. "That's for making me lose a pound or two in sweat."
  2246. >you waste no time in leaving the room altogether and climbing up to the bridge
  2247. >from there, you see Jäger talking with what you assume to be the harbourmaster
  2248. >"Pack it up! We're getting off this tub!"
  2249. >aww yiss
  2250. >as you descend down to the deck, you bump into Strike
  2251. "Hard to believe that it's over, isn't it Strike?"
  2252. >Strike looks out at the port
  2253. >"Yeah, honestly I was expecting a lot more to go wrong."
  2254. >you chuckle
  2255. "Well, the engines almost overheated several times; that would have counted as something going wrong."
  2256. >you continue
  2257. "So, what are you planning on doing while we're in Vanhoover?"
  2258. >she shrugs
  2259. >"Honestly, I was going to ask you the same thing; you come from here, so I figured I'd just kind of do whatever you do."
  2260. >you nod
  2261. "Well, I was planning on going around the city tonight to see what all was damaged during the battle; you are of course free to join me."
  2262. >Strike smiles
  2263. >"I'd like that."
  2264. >with that, you both walk off of the boat and on to the pier, where the captain and Bow are already waiting
  2265.  
  2266. >you are Stiller Jäger
  2267. >after Strike and Runner join you and Bow on the pier, you yells to the prisoners still on the deck
  2268. "Alright, now disembark in an orderly fashion."
  2269. >the ponies stand and begin to file onto the plank
  2270. "When you are turned over to the jurisdiction of the Black Hands, I'll make sure to put in a good word about how cooperative you were."
  2271. >this seems to soften the grim looks on the faces of many of the prisoners
  2272. >one however, seems almost happy about the whole situation
  2273. >as he is about to walk past you, you address him
  2274. "I'm glad to see that not everyone is glum."
  2275. >in response, he looks at you
  2276. >"You put me on the first step towards citizenship in the Reich, of course I'm not glum."
  2277. >he continues along with the rest of the group
  2278. >you wonder just how many ponies serving under Luna now feel the same way as him
  2279. >if it's a lot, then this war can't continue for much longer
  2280. >by now, the harbormaster has returned with a small group of Hands, you are gathering together all the prisoners
  2281. >you walk over to the leader of the group, a lieutenant
  2282. "Lieutenant, I just want you to know that these ponies were good guests aboard my boat, please see to it that they are treated well."
  2283. >the Hand nods
  2284. >>"Of course, Captain."
  2285. >you nod and walk back over to your crew
  2286. "Alright, I guess that shore leave begins now."
  2287. >you look up at the sky
  2288. >nightfall is near
  2289. "We'll meet at the town park at 15:00 tomorrow before we return home."
  2290. >Runner salutes
  2291. >>>"Understood. Strike and I are going to inspect the damage caused by the battle."
  2292. >you nod
  2293. "Very well."
  2294. >with that, they walk away together
  2295. >you turn you attention to Bow
  2296. "Well.... ready to go?"
  2297.  
  2298. >you are Strong Bow
  2299. >and Jäger is sticking to his word
  2300. >you were expecting him to, but that doesn't change your surprise at his question
  2301. >"Well.... ready to go?"
  2302. >you look up at him
  2303. "Uhh, sure?"
  2304. >you move to his side and begin to walk with him
  2305. >as you walk off of the pier, Jäger speaks
  2306. >"Would you like to walk about the city first, or would you rather eat now?"
  2307. >at that moment, your stomach growls
  2308. >he smiles
  2309. >"Food now, then."
  2310. >your hooves begin to clack as the ground transitions from wood to stone
  2311. >as you and Jäger pass by buildings, you notice something
  2312. "A lot of these buildings have had recent work done on them."
  2313. >Jäger nods
  2314. >"Indeed they have. I'm guessing a lot of damage was repaired during the last few days."
  2315. >after that, you both stay quiet for a few minutes, just taking in the scenery of the city
  2316. >finally, Jäger speaks again
  2317. >"We'll be getting to the restaurant in a minute or two."
  2318. >you look over at him and sigh dramatically
  2319. "Can you tell me where we're going?"
  2320. >he shrugs his shoulders
  2321. >"Sure, it's a restaurant I overheard Runner talking about."
  2322. >he continues
  2323. >"He's from Vanhoover, it must be one of the best spots in the city if he's randomly talking about it during our patrol."
  2324. >you're actually surprised that he told you
  2325. "Yeah, must be."
  2326.  
  2327. >you are Stiller Jäger
  2328. >you hope the restaurant is close
  2329. >you never actually heard where exactly it was
  2330. >only the name and general location
  2331. >you heard Runner say the name was 'Food for Thought'
  2332. >and you heard that it was near the city park
  2333. "Yep, we should be finding the place any second n-"
  2334. >you spot a lit sign up ahead
  2335. >you squint to make out the words on it
  2336. >'Food for Thought'
  2337. "And there it is."
  2338. >you let out a sigh of relief
  2339. >as you near the front doors of the establishment, Bow comments
  2340. >"I like the old-town feel that the building gives."
  2341. >you agree with her
  2342. "Yeah, it makes you feel like you're in your own home town."
  2343. >you hold the door open for Bow
  2344. >"Oh why thank you, Stiller."
  2345. >you quickly follow after her as she enters the restaurant
  2346. "Stiller..?"
  2347. >you looks back at you and smirks
  2348. >"We're on leave, I can call you by your first name if I like."
  2349. >you guess you can't really argue with that
  2350. >not that you would otherwise
  2351. >Bow stops walking when she reaches a sign that reads 'please wait to be seated'.
  2352. >before long, an older mare walks out from a door leading to what you assume is the kitchen
  2353. >>"Sorry to keep you folks waiting."
  2354. >you wave your hoof
  2355. "Don't be, we just got here."
  2356. >the mare smiles
  2357. >>"I take it that it's just one couple tonight?"
  2358. >you look at Bow and back at the mare
  2359. "Yes, just one... couple tonight."
  2360.  
  2361. >you are Red Pot
  2362. >you are the owner of Food for Thought
  2363. >actually, co-owner would be more accurate
  2364. >your wife, Flour Roller, has just as much authority as you do here
  2365. >as you mix together a batch of potato salad for tomorrow, your she walks through the saloon-style doors into your kitchen
  2366. >"We've got two orders, Red."
  2367. >she looks over at you
  2368. >"Oh Red, you're making the salad? I was supposed to do that."
  2369. >you smile at her
  2370. "What can I say; I don't want you to dirty your pretty hooves with mushy ingredients like these."
  2371. >you put down the tub of salad and walk over to her
  2372. >she looks up at you and smirks
  2373. >"Lines like that might have wooed me 20 years ago,"
  2374. >she plants a chaste kiss on your nose
  2375. >"You just want your kitchen to yourself."
  2376. >you shrug
  2377. "Anyway, what's the order?"
  2378. >she holds a small ticket up
  2379. >"Sauteed bell peppers for two."
  2380. >huh?
  2381. >you grab the ticket and read it just to be sure
  2382. >"It's a couple on a date."
  2383. >you raise your eyebrows
  2384. "I've never had anyone order something so simple.."
  2385. >"Hey, at least they won't have to wait long."
  2386. >with that, she walks back out to the front of the restaurant
  2387. >you walk over to your veggie cooler
  2388. "I'm not going to just cook some peppers and call it good."
  2389. >you begin to grab all kinds of peppers and seasonings
  2390. "I'm going to give them something completely new."
  2391.  
  2392. >you are Red Pot
  2393. >you follow your wife out to the front with the now finished dishes
  2394. >you stop when you see the couple and listen intently
  2395. >"And that stew he made; delicious."
  2396. >stew
  2397. >one of Runner's specialties
  2398. >you lean down and whisper into your wife's ear
  2399. "Yeah, they are talking about him."
  2400. >she nods
  2401. >>"Told you so."
  2402. >you straighten your back and begin to walk over to their table with the food
  2403. "Gooood evening monsieur and madamoiselle."
  2404. >the two ponies are wearing what appear to be naval uniforms
  2405. >Runner said he was working on something navy related for the Reich
  2406. >maybe they're work colleagues of his?
  2407. "Alright, who had the peppers, and who had the peppers?"
  2408. >they smile at your joke, but don't laugh
  2409. "Hehhh, alright, now you two enjoy."
  2410. >you place their plates on the table and quickly return to your wife
  2411. >you both continue to sneakily watch them as they begin to eat
  2412. "If they work with Runner, then I'm afraid he won't have a sense of humor when we see him next."
  2413. >Roller whacks you on the foreleg
  2414. >>"I'm sure they're just trying to enjoy their date; they don't need some old coot throwing bad jokes their way."
  2415. >you grab a washcloth and start to wipe down the counter
  2416. "I'm going to keep listening, we might hear what our little adventurer has been up to."
  2417. >Roller doesn't take her attention away from her counting
  2418. >>"You have fun with that."
  2419.  
  2420. >you are Strong Bow
  2421. >you chuckle as the old stallion walks away
  2422. >"He certainly made sure that we got our money's worth."
  2423. >you see that Jäger is inspecting the peppers
  2424. >they had been hollowed out and cooking with different vegetables filling the empty space
  2425. "Yeah, no kidding; I've never even seen anything like this."
  2426. >you tentatively cut a piece and take a bite
  2427. >he does the same
  2428. >almost simultaneously you both nod
  2429. "Not bad, not bad at all."
  2430. >after taking a few bites, you put your fork down
  2431. >Jäger notices this
  2432. >"Something wrong?"
  2433. >you shake your head
  2434. "No, I just have a question."
  2435. >he tilts his head slightly
  2436. >"Sure, fire away."
  2437. >you lean forward and prop your chin atop one of your hooves
  2438. "You told me that you wanted to become a teacher at a Reich naval academy; why?"
  2439. >he seems a bit exasperated at your question
  2440. >"I though I already gave you a reason; I said that I want a job which will allow me time to start a family."
  2441. >you give him a small smile
  2442. "And why do you want to start a family?"
  2443. >you can feel a slight warmness begin to creep onto your face
  2444. >but you ignore it, there's a question you MUST ask him
  2445.  
  2446. >you are Stiller Jäger
  2447. >and something is happening that has not happened in a very long time
  2448. >you are becoming flustered
  2449. >you've been trying very hard not to talk much about yourself tonight
  2450. >but this mare is backing you into a corner
  2451. >as she continues to smile at you, you begin to feel odd
  2452. >sick, almost
  2453. >there's a nervous tenseness in your gut as you answer her question
  2454. "I.. want to start a family because it is the duty of every pony to ensure that their legacy be passed on."
  2455. >Bow's smile doesn't waver, but you can tell that she knows that's not your real answer
  2456. "And.. because.....,"
  2457. >ok Stiller, you need to word this VERY carefully...
  2458. "I wouldn't mind the company."
  2459. >still, Bow doesn't relent
  2460. >in fact, she leans in closer to you
  2461. >"Aaaand, Herr Kapitän,"
  2462. >oh Manos, she's been practicing her Germane
  2463. >"Have you met anyone you'd consider starting that family with?"
  2464. >you don't even think about your answer before giving it
  2465. "As a matter of fact I.."
  2466. >DING DING
  2467. >you and Bow snap your heads over to the door at the other end of the restaurant
  2468. >standing there, in the doorway, is Quiet Runner
  2469. "Oh buck."
  2470. >>"Hey Mom, hey Pop!"
  2471.  
  2472. >you are Quiet Runner
  2473. >mere seconds after calling out, you are practically tackled by your mother
  2474. >your mother who proceeds to cover your face with kisses
  2475. "Gaaah, okay mom, I get it; you missed me!"
  2476. >you hear a call from inside the kitchen
  2477. >"Is that who I think it is?!"
  2478. >with great effort, you manage to push your mother off of you and stand just in time for your father to tackle you
  2479. "Oof!"
  2480. >your father laughs
  2481. >"I knew it! I just knew you'd come to see us now that the battle is over!"
  2482. >yeah, there's no way you're going to be able to shove him off
  2483.  
  2484. >you are Stiller Jäger
  2485. >and you need to get out of this restaurant
  2486. >NOW
  2487. >if Runner sees you both here, both of your reputations and careers will be over
  2488. >your eyes dart across the room, looking for an escape route
  2489. >finally, they come to rest right above your table
  2490. >near the ceiling is a small window
  2491. >you look back over at Runner
  2492. >he's currently being detained by the owners of the restaurant
  2493. >you don't have time to question why
  2494. >you jump on top of your chair and slide the window open
  2495. >"Wha- we're not going to fit through the-"
  2496. "Sorry, no time!"
  2497. >you reach down and wrap your hoof around Bow's midsection
  2498. >with a grunt, you lift her up to the open window
  2499. >you try your best to sound commanding while still being quiet
  2500. "Go!"
  2501. >Bow wastes no time in squeezing through the small gap
  2502. >she then reaches her hooves through for you
  2503. >you grab onto them and pull yourself through as well
  2504. >right before you close the window behind you, you drop a few bits down onto the table
  2505. >you are now sitting on the sidewalk behind the restaurant
  2506. >you and Bow look and each other
  2507. >and begin to laugh
  2508. >"Did you know that this place was owned by Runner's parent?"
  2509. >you shake your head, still laughing
  2510. "I swear, I had no idea! I just overheard him talking about this place and assumed it must be a good restaurant."
  2511. >slowly, your laughter begins to die down
  2512. >you watch Bow as she attempts to catch her breath
  2513. >her chest rises and sinks at a pace which reminds you of the waves lapping against the hull of the u-boat
  2514. >the u-boat which brought you together
  2515. >you scooch closer to her
  2516. "You know, Bow; you asked me a question which I was not able to answer."
  2517. >you can see the realization and hope in her eyes
  2518. "Would you mind asking me again?"
  2519. >despite the dark conditions, you can still tell she's blushing
  2520. >she takes a few breaths, and then asks
  2521. >"That family you're wanting to start,"
  2522. >she scooches closer to you, so that your thighs are now touching
  2523. >"Have you found anyone you'd consider starting it with?"
  2524. >you smile down at her
  2525. "I do believe that I have; though I wonder if she feels the same way."
  2526. >Bow returns your smile and bites her lip
  2527. >"Oh, I can imagine she does."
  2528. >with that, she leans her head against your shoulder
  2529. >you return the favor and wrap your foreleg around her
  2530. >after a few minutes of just sitting like that, you look down at the mare
  2531. "You know, we won't be able to serve together if we're discovered."
  2532. >you can feel her shoulder shrug against your chest
  2533. >"Then we keep it a secret until we're safe; simple."
  2534. >you smile and shake your head in amusement
  2535. "You sure you'll be able to keep your hooves off of me for that long?"
  2536. >she looks up at you
  2537. >and smirks
  2538. >We'll see..."
  2539.  
  2540.  
  2541. ENDE
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