On the Peak of Aris

by milesprower06

The Storm

Two more weeks had gone by, and Captain Fizzlepop was thrilled with how Hippogriffia looked from the air. Homes were rebuilt, streets were being repaved, and even the gorgeous arches in front of the castle were beginning to take shape. But as always, she had the rope in hoof on the starboard side of the Eclipse ready to jump out at the main gate.

"Captain," Lieutenant Rivet began, coming up to her side. "I don't understand why you're letting Queen Novo treat you like this."

"I thought it was a bit obvious that Queen Novo and I have history, Lieutenant." Fizzlepop replied. "I led the attack on this city six months ago, just like I did Canterlot. They are absolutely within their right to question my every statement and deed. If I have to camp out here and keep watch for the rest of the month to improve Equestria's relations with them, then that is what I am going to do. See you in the morning."

With that, Fizzlepop vaulted over the edge of the Eclipse, and slid down the rope with practiced ease. When her hooves hit the ground, she looked up at her campsite and saw that Skystar was already waiting for her. This latest trip had taken a bit longer than most, the sun having set nearly twenty minutes ago. They greeted each other with a wave as she approached her tent. Skystar already had a fire going.

"Good evening, Captain Stratus." Fizzlepop greeted as she approached the Princess.

"Evening, Captain." Stratus replied. In the past two weeks, he had at least grown to be cordial with his guest outside the gates.

"What have you got tonight, Princess?" Fizzlepop asked, coming up to the fire that had been stoked. Princess Skystar's nightly visits had quickly become her favorite part of the day. A new friend with conversation, and meals that had been ten times better than her rations.

"One of your favorites, with a twist." Skystar replied. Fizzlepop took a seat, and the Princess offered her what seemed like a small, round loaf of bread, but quickly saw that the center had been cut out to create an edible bowl, and inside, more of that delectable broccoli cheddar soup.

"A bread bowl?" Fizzle asked, taking her first spoonful of soup.

"Yep. Rivet finally got power restored to the main square, so now the ovens in our bakery work again." Skystar replied.

"That's great news." Fizzle said with a smile.

"Yeah, we're actually ahead of schedule in there."

Fizzlepop was about to take a second bite of soup when she heard a low, bellowing horn trumpet out from the Eclipse that was still slowly passing over the gate above them.

"Stormship! Stormship to the south!" She heard Capper call out from the crow's nest, and dread began to creep up Fizzlepop's chest as she recalled her attack on Hippogriffia months ago.

She heard a bang echo through the walls of the city and stood up just in time to see a projectile smash into the left monolith of the main gate. She dove towards Princess Skystar, tackling her out of the way before a chunk of rock from the monolith landed on the fire, sending embers into the wind. Stratus rushed up to them.

"Princess Skystar, are you alright?" He asked hurriedly.

"Yeah," Skystar immediately replied, getting up along with Fizzlepop. "Thanks to her." She nodded at the mare.

Fizzlepop glanced up at the Eclipse which had begun to fire it's chaser gun out to the south.

"Captain, permission to board the Eclipse over city limits." She requested to the hippogriff currently looking Princess Skystar over for injuries, picking up her aetherial staff. Stratus glanced through the main gates, up to the Eclipse and back down to Fizzlepop, who anxiously awaited an answer.

"Granted, but how will you get up there? I have to stay and defend the gates in case they come from the north." Stratus replied.

"I've got something in mind. Princess Skystar, if you please?" Fizzlepop asked the royal hippogriff, holding her staff horizontally above her head. Skystar immediately got the hint, and took to the air.

"You got it. Hang on!" Skystar warned, swooping down and took Fizzlepop's staff in her claws, beating her wings furiously and taking the Captain to the sky as she hung on to the far sides of the staff with her hooves.

As they cleared what remained of the left monolith, Fizzlepop's eyes widened when she saw the ship as it was lit up by the lightning flashes of the storm clouds it was coming out of, and the muzzle flashes of its broadside cannons, which besides the gate monolith, fortunately hadn't hit anything but the side of the mountain so far.

"That's my ship..." Captain Fizzlepop said as the pair ascended the along the side of the Eclipse.

As soon as they were over the main deck, Skystar released her hold on Fizzlepop's staff before turning and swooping back down into Hippogriffia, and Fizzlepop dropped and rolled onto the planks of the main deck. She saw numerous hippogriff guards take to the sky with spears and crossbows.

"Glad you're here, Captain," Celaeno said, turning the wheel as the chaser gun fired bolts of energy at the raiding stormship, to little effect. "What can you tell us?"

"That's the Typhoon. It must be Thunderhead. He was one of my bodyguards. He's not the brightest of the bunch, but he's tough as nails- Ahh!"

Another cannonball smashed into the Eclipse's current load of basalt blocks, nearly disintegrating the entire pile, showering the main deck and city streets below with bits of rock, before coming out the other side and reducing a section of railing to splinters. The next thing she heard was wood smashing as the ship jolted from another hit.

"Shields!" Rivet shouted down to the main square that they were currently hovering over. Moments later, three bright pink energy beams soared skyward before splitting off above the Eclipse and spreading a glowing energy shield dome over it and the entire city.

Queen Novo watched with her daughter and Major Speartip as the pink energy shield enveloped the city entirely. As the broadside cannons of the Stormship now impacted against the shield, sending ripples throughout it, but otherwise causing no further damage, the hippogriff monarch turned to the Major.

"An adequate defense, for now. Will it hold?"

"I've only seen this spell once before, Your Majesty. Captain Shining Armor performed something similar in Canterlot during a Changeling attack. It'll buy us time, but it will not hold forever." Speartip warned.

Cirrus Drift came up to his queen.

"Our guards are holding the Storm Creatures at the cliffs for now, but we don't have the means to hold off that Stormship. Should we use the Pearl, Your Majesty?" He asked.

"I appreciate the haste, Commander, but I'm not going to retreat underwater just yet. We don't have the means, but they might," She said, pointing up to the Eclipse, whose stolen thrusters were keeping them in a hover 100 feet above the main square.

"In the meantime, get the fledglings to the castle. If they fail, Hippogriffia may be lost."

Fizzlepop's mind was going through the possibilities as she watched the Stormship slow in it's assault on the shield.

"Ah, parrot puke! That last hit dislodged the rudder chain. We're dead in the air." Celaeno said, as she rotated the thrusters upward to put the ship into a hover above the main square.

"Options?" Rivet asked.

Captain Fizzlepop turned towards the poop deck, where Celaeno released the now-useless wheel.

"Right now the only thing that shield bought us is time." Celaeno said. "Once it goes down, nothing is stopping that Stormship from resuming it's bombardment. We're not angled for a broadside, and any more hits may put us right down on top of the main square. I don't like this."

"Storm Guards won't fight without the leader. We take out Thunderhead, they'll scatter." Fizzlepop offered.

"And how do you propose we do that? Last I checked, I don't have a gangplank five hundred feet long." The parrot captain shot back.

The situation was indeed dire. Fizzlepop scanned the main deck, checking for any options that might hold water.

Her eyes settled on the crane.

"Captain Celaeno, if you put the starboard thruster full forward, what would that do?" She asked, walking over to the crane.

"Pretty much make us spin in place." Celaeno said, glancing over at the levers next to the wheel that controlled the thrusters.

"Exactly what I was hoping for. Rivet, I'll need you at the controls." Fizzlepop said, taking hold of the hook at the end of the crane's chain.

"For what purpose, Captain?" Rivet asked.

"Celaeno, if you get this ship spinning fast enough with the crane extended, with me at the end, I could slingshot over to the deck of the Typhoon."

Celaeno and Rivet exchanged glances.

"Are you insane?" The parrot asked.

"I don't see another way of catching them by surprise and dealing with Thunderhead. We're on borrowed time here." Fizzlepop said, firmly grabbing hold of the chain, placing her back left hoof in the curve of the hook. "Rivet, extend the boom as far out as you can."

"Uh, Captain Fizzlepop, last I checked, cats have nine lives, not ponies." Capper said as Rivet climbed into the controller's seat of the crane.

"Yeah, well I suggest you hold on to something up there if you want to keep however many you've got left." She yelled up at him as Rivet began to extend the boom out beyond the starboard side of the ship. As soon as it was far enough out, Celaeno put a claw on the lever for the starboard thruster.

"Anyone who can't hold on to something, get below deck." She warned, and with that, pulled the right lever back, which rotated the starboard thruster to forward at full burn. Sure enough, seconds later, the Eclipse started to rotate to the left. Slow at first, it slowly picked up speed, and Rivet watched as his captain was slowly pulled away from the edge of the ship as the end of the crane swung out. He extended the boom out further, as far as he believed safe for the integrity of the ship, and locked it in place, grabbing hold of the support bars to avoid falling out of the seat as the ship's rate of rotation continued to increase. After thirty seconds, the Stormship resumed firing on the shield, alarmed at whatever the Eclipse might be doing.

Fizzlepop held the crane's chain with an iron grip as the wind whipped at her face. She was going to have to nail this. If she didn't she was going to either smash herself against the hull, or be very wet, and Hippogriffia would be doomed.

"I think that's as fast as we're gonna get, Captain! Whenever you're ready!!!" Celaeno screamed up at her. The chain the mare hung onto was nearly horizontal now.

Hugging her staff close to her body, Fizzlepop mentally counted down, then when the Typhoon came into view again, she let go of the chain, and she was flung forward into the air towards the stormship. At the right exact moment, she cast a spell through the staff that passed her through the dome shield, and she continued to arc towards the main deck of the stormship.

She was expecting she'd have to skid to a halt. She wasn't expecting to collide with a Storm Guard on the main deck, sending her tumbling end over end, and knocking the guard over the edge, sending him a few thousand feet down into the water. As she rolled across the deck from starboard side to port, her helmet came loose, and bounced off the opposite side of the ship. She herself collided with the railing, and groaning in pain, got to her feet, realizing what had happened to her helmet.

"Traitor!!!" Came a deep, gravelly voice. Fizzlepop looked over to the wheel, and a hulking Storm Guard jumped down onto the main deck, wielding an iron war hammer. The orchid streak going down his otherwise white fur on his head confirmed his identity. Thunderhead.

Fizzlepop grabbed her staff and held it in a defensive position. Thunderhead rushed forward with a horizontal swing of his hammer, which she expertly dodged, bucking him in the thigh, and jumped up to the wheel, spinning it to the right, and the ship lurched as it turned, and the broadsides were no longer lined up. Thunderhead quickly recovered, and leapt up for an overhead strike. Fizzle took a deft leap back, then up and somersaulting over back onto the main deck as the swing came crashing down, smashing the wheel to pieces. When she landed back on the deck, she realized what had happened; the silk headdress containing her conduit came off, and was immediately lost to the gusts of wind that the storm cloud was producing.

Now she had no choice.

She fired up her horn, and unpredictable arcs of lightning shot forward in all directions. Some bounced a few times, and others shot right off the edges of the ship, before exploding in pyrotechnic displays. All the while, the gem of aetherium began to react to the unstable magic, glowing brighter and brighter as it tried and failed to control and contain the magic flowing from her broken horn.

Turning around from the remains of the wheel, Thunderhead slammed his magical hammer down on the deck, and a shockwave surged towards Fizzlepop. It connected, and it knocked her off her feet, slamming her into the main support for the hydrogen balloon above. He took another leap up, bringing his hammer up over his head again, and as he brought the hammer down, the only thing the mare had time to do was angle the tip of her glowing staff towards the hammer's path. The last thing she saw was it smashing into the prongs at the end of the staff.

From the now-stabilized deck of the Eclipse, Celaeno, her crew, and all of Hippogriffia had a front row seat to Captain Fizzlepop's flying unicorn stunt, and the rather unexpected fireworks display that followed as the hull of the Typhoon began to buckle. Then, barely five seconds later, there was an enormous shockwave that nearly knocked them off their feet, and the stormship split completely in two, right through the keel.

As it began to lose altitude, the arcs of lightning sparked the ship's now-exposed fuel supply, and the entire aft of the ship disintegrated in a spectacular explosion. It sent the bow of the ship lurching downward, accelerating it's rate of descent to the South Luna Ocean.

"Captain!!!" Rivet cried out, leaping out of the crane and galloping to the bow of the Eclipse.

Lastly, the flames reached the vast balloon overhead, filled to the brim with hydrogen, and it too disappeared behind a wall of flames. The bow of the ship crashed into the water as flaming pieces of debris fell all around it as it slowly sank into the depths.

Major Speartip, Stratus, and Cirrus were the first to dive off the back cliffs into the water. If Fizzlepop somehow survived that, she didn't have more than a few moments. Princess Skystar leapt up into the sky and flew down the north face of Mount Aris, over the steps and down to the shore where the city's dinghies were docked. She grabbed the rear of the lightest one with her claws, and flew as fast as her wings would carry her around the west side of the towering island, water spraying up in the boat's wake.

When she got around to the site of the wreckage, nearly all of the flames had died down, but the black smoke generated by the hydrogen burning off had completely obscured the moonlight. Luckily, she saw a mote of light in the water, and as she got closer, she saw that Major Speartip had the foresight to light the tip of his horn as a signal. She pushed the boat up next to him, and helped him pull a sopping wet and limp Fizzlepop into the boat. He climbed in after, and immediately went about unbuckling her armor's chest plate. He tossed it to the other end of the boat, and immediately started giving her chest compressions.

"Come on, Captain. Come on back... Come on back, Captain..."