Grimstar, Gracelove, and the girls fought off the ninjas, while Darlynn and Killthrust fought with each other.
“You foolish oaf!” the elf shouted, “You gave away our position!”
The barbarian began a pithy response, but was drowned out by a sudden, strange noise, like a cracking hiss. The ninjas around them all dropped like rag dolls.
“What in blazes was that?” said Killthrust, looking fruitlessly for the source of the sound.
Grimstar prodded one of their fallen foes. “Arrows…” he said, “But from where…?”
Wind rushed around them, stirring up the cherry blossoms into a swirling mass. The source of the wind drifted downwards through the clouds above. At first, all that was visible was a rope ladder with a single figure in a leather aviator jacket hanging from the end. She removed her goggles and pushed aside her bright pink scarf, revealing a familiar face.
“Looks like I’m late to the party.” said Zinnadiana, “That’s a first for me!” The auto-crossbow in her hands hissed with released steam. “Hope you don’t mind, but I invited some friends along.”
With this the clouds parted, and the gleaming sliver and brass bulk of the bard’s personal airship became visible. The zeppelin was built in a surrealistic art-deco style, covered in complex hatches and mechanical details, the purpose of which were not entirely clear on first viewing. Copper pipes stuck out at odd angles from its gondola, powering six colossal prop engines. Inscribed on its side in large gothic script was the name ‘Pinkitania’.
“We get to ride a blimp?” Sweetie Belle said gleefully.
“What happened to ‘thematically accurate’?” Scootaloo smirked.
“Blimps don’t count.” said Sweetie Belle, not taking her eyes off the airship, “They’re too cool!”
Zinnadiana jumped the last few feet to the ground, directing the airship’s pilot to circle around and dock at the cliff. It was surprisingly agile for such a large and cumbersome craft.
“What about my mission?” said Darlynn, “The mystery of the Silver Pagoda lies yet unsolved…”
“Aw, that silly old pagoda will still be there later!” Zinnadiana said, patting the elf on the back a little too roughly, “You won’t want to miss this. I’m hunting sky-pirates!”
“Pirates? I am SO there!” said Scootaloo as she and her friends rushed across the gangplank and into the airship. The other heroes followed, slightly hesitantly.
The interior of the ship was, if anything, even more complex than its exterior. Glass and metal tubing ran throughout the cabin, connecting various command stations. These were manned by a group of clockwork men, who moved jerkily about on rails set in the floor. One of them gave an erratic salute, steam whistling from its joints, as they boarded.
“Welcome – aboard – Captain – Lyreplucker – and – guests!” it said, mechanically.
“At ease, Ensign Clanky,” Zinnadiana said, jauntily returning the robot’s salute. “Turn up the engines to full power, and ready the artillery. Set us a course, Lieutenant Dwarferson!”
“Wait, what am I doing here?” said Dwarfy Dwarferson, looking around in confusion.
“I never said I was playing, Pinkie.” balked Applejack.
“Well, I can’t take off without my first mate, can I?” Pinkie Pie said encouragingly.
“Yeah, play with us, sis!” said Applebloom.
“Okay, fine…” Applejack sighed.
The Pinkitania took off through the clouds, crossing the sea and heading toward the mainland.
“Are the steam-torpedoes fully charged, Commander Dwarferson?” said Zinnadiana.
“Uh… sure.” said the dwarf, tapping uncertainly at a gauge, “But aren’t I supposed to be a lieutenant?”
“I promoted you, just now!” Zinnadiana turned to the girls. “Applebloom, Scootaloo, I need you to man the fore and aft cannons. Sweetie Belle, you can work the tesla coil!” Not needing any further encouragement, the girls rushed to their stations.
“What do you want us to do?” asked Gracelove, nervously.
"Just hang on!” the bard replied with a mischievous grin. The airship rocked as a shell exploded near the starboard hull. A fleet of enemy airships broke through the cloud cover below and began their attack. The Pinkitania banked hard as the clockwork crew took evasive action. Zinnadiana took her place as captain and began barking orders. “Battle stations, everyone! It’s my arch-nemesis, Captain Top-hat and his Mechano-Mercenaries!”
The girls wasted no time and returned fire. “Pew pew pew! Pew pew pew pew!” Sweetie Belle shouted ecstatically as electricity crackled from the gun barrel she controlled.
“Avast, me hearties!” Zinnadiana shouted as she led her crew into the dogfight, “Blast those scurvy dogs out of the sky!”
“Wait, are we the pirates now?” asked Applebloom, turning from the cannon’s controls, “That’s cool and all, I just want to…”
“Look out!” interrupted Zinnadiana, pointing to a buzzing cloud off the port side, “It’s a swarm of mecha-monkeybees! Rear Admiral Dwarferson, release the heli-bunnies!”
“What the heck are…?” started Dwarfy.
A hatch opened in the side of the airship, and dozens of rabbits leaped out, wearing flight goggles and carrying harpoon guns. Their helicopter-backpacks buzzed into life as they took off.
“Oh. I guess they’re just what they sound like.” said Dwarfy, blinking.
The ship pitched wildly as a cannonball ripped through the Pinkitania’s hydrogen tank. Orange flames burst from the side of the craft as it quickly lost altitude and plunged through the clouds, leaving a trail of black smoke in its wake.
“Curse you, Captain Top-hat!” Zinnadiana shook her fist at the sky, “I swear, one day your awesome hat will be mine!”
“FWOOOM! PSHOOOOO! AOOOOGA, AOOOOGA! AAAGGHH, WE’RE GOIN’ DOWN!” Pinkie Pie collapsed in a giggling heap, sending dice and graph paper flying.
“That was certainly interesting.” said Twilight, still wringing out her mane.
Pinkie sat up, still giggling, “Okay, your turn, Applejack!”
“What?” said Applejack in surprise.
“She has a point, Applejack.” said Rarity, finally managing to disentangle herself from Dash, “We’ve all had a turn, so you may as well try it.”
“Go on, I bet you’ll be great!” Applebloom enthused.
“It’s actually pretty fun.” Fluttershy said with a slight blush.
“Yeah, do it!” said Pinkie, “You know you wanna!”
“Okay, okay, whatever.” Applejack gave in, “If it’ll shut ya’ll up, I’ll do it.”