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War Surplus is Magic

by Georg

War Surplus was magic.

With the defeat of the Storm King and dismantling of his military came a giant question of what to do with the leftovers. Airships could be repurposed into cargo and civil uses, the yeti in the military returned to their lives at the Southern Pole to do… whatever it was that yeti did. Even the Kludges in their desert city turned his watchtowers into clocktowers, although admittedly they never showed quite the correct time.

Skyswirler’s uncle wound up being the caretaker of a munitions dump, although why anygriff would dump any of the fantastic items he had was beyond her young mind. There were things that went whoosh, and things that went pop, and best of all, things that went whooooom. The explosives, bombs, and other weapons were sealed away in stone rooms with lots of locks and wax to keep curious little beaks out of them, but rocket motors and airship booster engines were kept in a large warehouse with an openable door, because certain Very Important Ponies visited every so often to look over the supply and make encouraging noises about how they might be useful for an Equestrian experimental project Sometime Soon But Not Now Due To Budget.

Swirl was fully aware of what a budget was. Every week, her parents gave her far too few bits to purchase what she really wanted from the bookstore and new gadget market. Even pooling her allowance with her friends sometimes could not even buy them one copy of the latest thaumic fiction novel or the Genuine Rocket Launching Kit With Optional Parachute And Cargo.

They had all watched it go up, then flew over to where it landed to find the cricket they had given a ride was quite healthy and eager to escape in case they decided to give it another trip.

That was the end of their budget for the week.

But all of those rocket engines out in the warehouse were just sitting there.

It was completely unfair.

One of the groups of VIPs from distant Canterlot had constructed a rocket test stand, and it had been the most exciting event Swirl had ever seen. All of her friends saw something different in the roar and plume of fire that resulted when the ponies in the bunker threw the switch. Swirl watched the billowing clouds of smoke and could see the future. Boom Boom saw the world’s largest music speaker. Chances determined it was foolish to hide in the bunker when there was only a .004% chance of serious explosion, which would not even reach the fence where they were watching. Eclair was considering how quickly she could bake a cake with that kind of flame.

To be honest, Eclair still was not quite used to being above the water’s surface, and most of her cooking came out burnt anyway, but she was a friend, and they appreciated her.

After a brief meeting and a determination that none of them had gotten their cutie marks yet from watching the test firing of the rocket motor, Swirl made a proposal. She was, after all, the kinda-sorta leader of their bunch, or at least the first one to get into trouble for trying something new. Cloud-sculpting was old, something that had been a hippogriff tradition for centuries before they had descended into the sea to escape the Storm King. All of the colors were traditional, the shapes were traditional, the order in which clouds were selected was traditional, and Skyswirler’s expectations had plummeted when their classes started.

This was an opportunity to make a whole brand new tradition. One cool and dramatic, that everygriff could see.


Swirl’s uncle had always told her it was easier to get forgiveness than permission, and although he probably did not expect that to be applied to his own warehouse, it was good advice. Swirl knew that if they asked, the answer would be no, and locks would appear around all the good pieces of junk that nogriff wanted and that was just sitting there and would be far more useful if it was used for something really cool and awesome.

It took several weeks of intensive exploration of the warehouse to get their plan organized.

Chances found some Honeybee-class one-yeti fighters that had been stripped of their engines and stacked haphazardly in a pile, which seemed terribly inefficient. So they borrowed one, and took some time to get it in operational shape by borrowing parts from some of the others, a little paint out of her uncle’s barn, and took out the wheels because they were not really needed anyway.

At first, she wanted to just stick some of the leftover rocket motors that nogriff wanted on the back and light them off, but Chances proved that the center of gravity would be unstable, and the best that could happen from such a launch would be some really impressive pinwheeling across the sky and a crater somewhere. Thankfully, yeti were much larger than young griffons, so they had lots of space to install cool things like an oxygen system for the pilot and a huge smoke generator where the engine had once been. That still left it without a way of getting up in the air, so they continued to look through the warehouse.

Boom Boom found a thaumic-powered speaker that he said could be converted to provide awesome thrust, but they did not have a place to put the oversized box until Eclair came over to their building area, dragging a huge rudder from an airship behind her.

It was too big. They turned it sideways. It was still too large.

Boom Boom said it was just the right sized for the ‘Wub-engine’

Chances said there was still not enough thrust to get it airborne, even if they welded solid rocket engines all around the Wub-engine.

Eclair had a solution. Everygriff agreed it was genius.

There was a tree on the South Jungle that the natives called boom-fruit, because it developed a volatile chemical compound as it ripened, and when it fell, the resulting explosion scattered the seeds. The juice from the tree was delicious, and an expensive delicacy before the Storm King came along. He decided it made the perfect fuel additive for his airships, particularly since it left a huge black cloud as concealment.

There were two airship engines in the warehouse.

And a few barrels of boom-fruit juice.

There was no airship fuel, but since they ran on a mix of boom-fruit juice, there certainly could be no problem running them all on a combination of boom-fruit juice and some of the other volatile hydrocarbons found in barrels around the warehouse. And using them all up would reduce the fire hazard, which Swirls’ uncle would appreciate.

They had to borrow a welder.

Chances drew up the plans on what got welded where.

Boom Boom did most of the welding while Swirl held pieces in place.

Eclair mixed up their rocket fuel while everygriff held fire extinguishers around her.

And in less time than they expected, the four of them took their places for their first flight.

Fuel - Check
Rainbow Injectors - Check
Wub-engine - Music loaded
Launch path - Clear, no ships
Countdown - Ten, nine, eight, seven…

“You hit Cloudsdale.” Princess Celestia looked down at the four cringing young hippogriffs.

“It didn’t move,” said Swirl. “Besides, it wasn’t supposed to be there, and I only clipped it a little. And I got my cutie mark.”