I'm a student at DigiPen with some skills in music, art, programming, and particularly writing. I've written a variety of fanfics, usually involving ponies in some form or another.
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It was long after everypony woke up that the Reprisal dropped her cargo hatch, offering passage to anypony that may need it. Applejack stood in the cargo bay with Twilight, scanning the crowd of ponies milling about in the port. Surely somepony could match their rather generous price of four-hundred bits per week?
"Wonder why we ain't gettin' any takers," Applejack said aloud.
"I can't think of it either," Twilight said. "We've got one bunk and compared to a lot of other ships we're offering a pretty good deal. It doesn't usually take more than a week or two to get anywhere in the galaxy unless you're trying to get out into the Verge. As if anypony would want to run that deep into space."
"Yeah. I'm gonna go get things prepped. We gotta leave to meet Trixie at that warehouse in about, oh, six hours. I figure if we can get one pony to take the bunk, we can just keep the bay locked up 'til we get back."
Only immediately after Applejack headed off to her quarters did Twilight spot a potential customer. A middle aged stallion, burly with a military cut, hefted his two bags towards the open door.
"Can I help you, sir?" Twilight offered.
"Huh?" the stallion said. "Oh, nah. My bags are good. I'm just looking for a ship that'll get me to Equinox."
"Well, you're in luck! We've got a passenger getting off there too! I'll radio the captain and let her know we got a taker on our last bunk. The fare is four hundred bits, coin or credits, and we ask for it up front."
The stallion reached into his pocket and produced five blue transparent slips, each roughly the size of a small disc. "Five hundred bits, Millennial creds. Fair?"
"That's a rather generous tip, sir."
"Don't mention it. I'm a generous guy. Mind showing me to my quarters so I can get rid of these bags?"
"Sure thing!" Twilight hit the switch to close the hydraulic doors, happy that they found a taker for their last bunk so quickly. She showed the stranger to his room and with a rather gruff "Thanks" he shut the door. As she made her way back to the cargo bay, she ran into Applejack.
"Great news!" the lavender pony exclaimed. "I found somepony willing to take the bunk! He paid five hundred bits in credits up front."
"Five hundred, eh?" the captain replied. "Well, I ain't much akin to dealin' with Millennial credits, but I'll take 'em if he's goin' past our askin' price. I need you to run below decks and check the engine, make sure everythin's in order in case we need to make a quick getaway."
"But why would.." Twilight began, but Applejack cut her off.
"I didn't ask for questions, I asked for a mechanic. I'm gonna make a quick trip to the bay and make sure everythin's locked down."
Twilight shut her mouth and did as she was told. Applejack always got a little gruff before a job went down, and if they were working for Trixie then she had plenty of reason to be.
Redheart poked her head in the cargo bay and looked around. No pony in sight. She could check on her package now. As quietly as she could, the nurse walked up to the control panel and examined it. Temperature was stable, internal conditions were normal. Everything was perfect. She turned about to walk back to her bunk and locked up when she saw Captain Applejack standing there.
"Whatcha got in that box'a yours?" Applejack said, taking a step towards her.
"Just some precious cargo," she replied. "Why?"
"'Precious cargo,' huh? Mind if I look inside?"
"I don't think that..." Redheart stopped when Applejack drew her gun.
"I wasn't asking. Step aside."
As the captain inched towards the box, she caught the sound of a hammer cocking. Applejack turned to see what she assumed to be the new passenger leveling a pistol at them both.
"Drop the gun!" he ordered. Applejack had half a mind to shoot him, but she'd have to cock the hammer on her revolver and aim first. That'd be plenty of time for the newcomer to shoot. She tossed the heavy pistol aside and raised her hooves.
"What in the hay is goin' on here?" she asked. "First passenger gets a mysterious shiny box and now the next one's startin' a damn mutiny."
"Captain, you're under arrest for aiding the escape of Redheart," the stallion declared as he advanced on the pair of ponies. Applejack bristled when she caught the faint gasp of Fluttershy from the second floor.
"Oh my goodness!" Fluttershy exclaimed. "Please, don't arrest the captain! She didn't know the nurse was a fugitive! None of us knew!"
"I guess that's too bad for you all, then."
"A damn spy," Applejack said. "What you got to gain by arrestin' me?"
"Nothing, but Redheart is wanted for theft of valuable government property."
The spy turned on his heel to look at Big Macintosh, who was entering from the far door of the bay.
"Jackie, what in blazes is goin' on here?" her brother asked. "Who's this, a Silverhead?"
"If we could all just put our guns down and talk this out, maybe it wouldn't be so bad," Fluttershy suggested.
"You shut up!" the agent snapped. "I'm taking you all in for treason!"
"Nopony's takin' anypony in for nothin'," Macintosh stated as he took a step towards the agent. The stallion trained his gun on her brother.
"Not one more step or I will shoot, do you hear me? Not one more step!"
Twilight stepped in through the main door, oblivious to the situation. The agent spun to his right and fired, a look of panic on his face when he realized his gun went off. The lavender pony staggered backwards wearing a surprised expression before crashing to the floor. Macintosh charged at the stallion and knocked him to the ground, kicking his gun away before pinning him to the floor.
"You realize you're all going to prison for this?" the agent said to Big Macintosh. He chuckled at the agent's threat.
"Like I said, nopony's goin' anywhere."
Fluttershy was already on the floor of the cargo bay, her eyes wide as she stood over Twilight. The mechanic clutched at her wound with a hoof, staring up at the powdery yellow pegasus.
"What's wrong, Fluttershy?" she slurred. "Look like you watched somepony get shot."
Applejack picked her gun up and turned to Redheart. "You're a nurse, help my mechanic!"
"Fluttershy, go get Spitfire and the both of you take Twilight to the infirmary."
As the pale yellow pegasus flew to the bridge, Redheart knelt over the injured unicorn.
"She was lucky it didn't hit her heart. Looks like it missed everything vital, but she's bleeding. Captain, what do you have on board for supplies?"
"Fluttershy can tell you what we've got once you get her in the med bay." Applejack turned back to her brother, still holding the federal agent.
"As for you...Mac, take him in to his bunk and tie him down. And you ain't lettin' him outta your sight, are we clear?"
"Aye aye, sis," her brother said as he dragged the complaining spy off into the living area. Applejack followed the doctor to the medical bay where Twilight lay on the bed, flanked by a fretting Fluttershy and a concerned Spitfire.
"Are you gonna be able to fix her, Doc?" Spitfire asked.
"It's a simple fix, I just need everypony to clear out so I can work, okay?"
Fluttershy looked at the doctor, visibly holding back the tears in her worried eyes. "You have to save her! You can't just let her die! She's our friend!"
"Yes, I understand that," said Redheart. "I can save her, but I need you two out, alright?"
Reluctantly, Fluttershy and Spitfire left the bay before Redheart shut the medi-bay doors. The only sound that could be heard was the hum of the Reprisal's engines. It seemed so odd for them to be without their keeper.
"Come on, y'all," Applejack said. "Let's go to the galley and get us a drink, take our minds off this whole thing."
"But, Twilight..." Fluttershy stammered.
"'Shy, it's alright. If she says she'll fix Twilight, she'll do it."
As Spitfire escorted the weeping pegasus to the kitchen, Applejack made her way to the bunks. She had an important date with a Silverhead, and no way would she pass it up.
Untold minutes passed as Applejack and Spitfire stood outside the medical wing doors waiting for Redheart's response. The earth pony looked at her pegasus companion, wondering for the thousandth time how a Wonderbolt, a national celebrity and icon, ended up a soldier in Ponyville's trenches. The rusty creak of the medical bay doors broke the captain's concentration and she looked up to see Redheart running her hooves under the faucet.
"She's stable, Captain," the nurse said. "I've got her under sedation for now, just to kill the pain. She should be out for a few hours."
"is it bad?" Applejack asked.
"I've seen worse."
The rapid approach of hooves on steel grew louder as Rarity stepped into the medibay. The pale unicorn, still in her silk robe, held a hoof over her mouth as she spied her friend on the operating bed.
"I just heard what happened. Is Twilight alright?"
"She's fine," the nurse interjected. "She'll come around, I promise."
"And Applejack," the unicorn continued. "What's this about some sort of agent aboard the ship? I demand to know what going on!"
"I dunno, but it makes a pony wonder what you've got in that box."
Applejack had already started walking to the cargo bay by the time Redheart caught up with her.
"No!" the nurse protested. "Don't touch it!"
As Applejack entered the cargo bay, her elder brother stepped in front of the medical pony, barring her from reaching the captain. She tried to move underneath the heavyset earth pony but soon found herself clenched between Macintosh's forelegs in the equivalent of a chokehold.
"Where's that fed?" Applejack asked as she ran a rope through the handles of the box.
"Safe and sound, like you said. I got Fluttershy to keep an eye on him, but I reckon he won't be coming to for a little while."
"Please, leave it alone!" the nurse said again. Macintosh tightened his grip slightly.
The cowpony took the rope in her mouth and pulled the silver crate away from the wall of the cargo bay before disengaging the locks. A loud hissing erupted from the seal as cold clouds of nitrogen poured from beneath the lid of the box. Nurse Redheart struggled against Macintosh's forelegs, reaching for the box as though her life depended on it. Hoofsteps sounded behind her as Spitfire, Rainbow Dash, and Rarity all stood around the box. Applejack stomped up to the pale earth pony in her brother's grasp.
"You listen to me, Nurse," Applejack growled. "I had one rule on this ship, and you had to go and break it. You've stirred a pretty bit of trouble for me and my crew, and I figure it's only fair if I go and return the favor. So why don't we open up yer precious little shiny box and see what a mare like you would kill for."
Redheart let out a desperate attempt at protesting again as Applejack bucked the top away from the crate. A plume of cold gasses flowed from the open container as the captain peered into the box. A single pink pony sat at the bottom of the crate, curled up in ball with her fur and magenta mane matted from the rapidly condensing stasis fluids. Applejack's eyes shot to the pink pony's flanks as she examined the three balloons that made up the stranger's cutie mark.
Two balloons blue, one yellow.
Applejack looked up at the nurse in confusion, then back to the pony in the box.
"Huh, well what do you know?"