Standard disclaimer: This is a not for profit fan work. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is copyright Hasbro, Inc. I make no claim to any copyrighted material mentioned herein.
Chapter 1: The Meet
The unicorn colt cut through the water of the swimming pool, his four legs working in tandem. With practiced and powerful strokes, he propelled himself down the lane. Years of practice told him he was nearing the edge of the pool. He reached out with his right foreleg, feeling the hoof contact the concrete lip of the pool.
One more kick with his hind legs, and he placed his left foreleg on the edge of the pool. He lifted his body out of the pool, resting his barrel on the edge, gasping for breath. Before he pulled himself completely out of the water, he put a hoof to his horn and peeled off the accursed horn blocker. Sensing magic using only his body was akin to trying to see in a thick fog, and he hated the sensation. While he understood the need to guard against using magic to cheat, that didn’t mean he wanted to spend one additional second without the use of his horn.
The colt lifted his hind legs out of the water and stood up. Water dripped from his pale silver coat, and he used a hoof to push his gold and green mane away from his eyes. He looked at the clock, and then looked at the clocks over the other lanes. He smiled.
He beat his target by a full five seconds. He qualified. It wasn’t enough to know his special talent was swimming. The colt wanted to prove himself on the biggest stage, this year’s Equestria Games in Baltimare, and qualifying for the regional competition in Fillydelphia was the first step.
“All right! Way to go, Blue Seas!”
“Thanks, Coach,” Blue Seas replied, shaking the orange mare’s hoof. Scootaloo was just a volunteer coach for pretty much everything in Ponyville, but her encouragement and tips for facing a competition were invaluable for young Blue Seas.
Blue Seas scanned the crowd, quickly finding his family. They had all taken time away from the farm to cheer him on. He trotted over to his family, wanting to embrace his parents. But a small blue ball of energy beat him to it, nearly knocking him off his hooves as she collided with him.
“You did it, big brother!” the filly said.
“Thanks, Cirrus,” Blue Seas told her. The youngest of five foals, Cirrus didn't have her cutie mark, but if hers didn’t have something to do with flying, Blue Seas would be shocked.
“I’m proud of you, son,” his mother said, embracing him.
“Ever since the day I first took you to the swimming hole, I knew you’d make it,” his father added.
“Thanks for being there for me, even when it meant I couldn’t do my chores,” Blue Seas said.
“You come back with a medal, I won’t even ask you to make up your missed chores,” his father replied.
Blue Seas shared hugs and hoofshakes with his three other siblings. Juniper and Junebug, his brother and sister, were three years younger than him, twin earth ponies with reversed coloration, he with a forest green coat and reddish brown mane, she with the green mane and brown coat. Red Streak was a red pegasus colt five years younger than him, but in recent months he had been trying to be the mature one. Where he would once cheer loudly for Blue Seas, he now offered a serious nod and a hoofshake.
“Thanks, guys,” Blue Seas said. “But there’s somepony else I want to share this moment with.”
Cirrus smirked and made kissing noises.
“Oh, can it, Cirrus.”
Blue Seas had asked his marefriend to meet him under the bleachers after the swim meet was over. He had been drawn to Pumpkin Cake, even though she was two years older than him, because of their similar background, being unicorns raised in earth pony homes. That, and she was easy on the eyes.
The colt picked up his saddlebags from his locker and headed behind the bleachers. Peering through the wood and metal framework, he spotted Pumpkin Cake. They walked to meet each other and embraced.
“That was some really good swimming!” Pumpkin Cake said.
“So why did you want to meet here? Normally, when a colt asks a filly here, it’s because he wants a secluded place to smooch. But none of our parents mind,” she said.
“It’s, well... I want your help to cast a spell.” Blue Seas pulled a spellbook out of his saddlebags and opened it to the page marked by a silk bookmark. “I can’t do it myself.”
“A heritage spell? Are you sure?” Pumpkin Cake asked.
“Yes. I want to know who my mother is... my birth mother.”
“If you use this spell, there’s no going back. Again, is this what you want?”
“Mom and Dad were always honest about me being adopted. From when I was old enough to ask why I had a horn and they didn’t, they told me they chose to make me part of their family. But they don’t know anything more about my birth mother, and the one pony who does isn’t talking.”
“Why me? I’m sure there are more skilled unicorns in town,” Pumpkin Cake said.
“Because you’ve worked with this kind of magic before.”
“Now, why would you think that?”
“This is a library book, and it doesn’t get checked out a lot,” Blue Seas said. He opened the front cover, where the paperboard glued to it listed a small number of names. Pumpkin Cake recognized her own signature from when she checked out the book a year prior.
“Were you wondering about your father?” Blue Seas asked quietly. Pumpkin Cake stayed silent. “Your father is a great stallion, no matter what some spell says. And Pumpkin Cake, I’m the last pony that could criticize you for wanting to know.”
“The spell confirmed he is my natural father. My parents needed to use fertility magic, and I’ve read that it makes a foal more likely to be a different type than her parents. But I still feel bad for doubting.”
Blue Seas hugged Pumpkin Cake. “Don’t feel bad. You love your parents, and that’s what’s most important. Now, do you think you can help me?”
Pumpkin Cake pored over the spell. “This is not an easy spell. Not like the one I cast, which just analyzed the similarities between my hair and my father’s. Are you sure you don’t want someone more qualified to attempt it? Like the Princess?”
“Princess Twilight Sparkle is the pony who knows who my mother is. Apparently, she’s a distant relative of hers. I’ve asked her to tell me more, but she refuses. So no, I can’t ask her.”
Pumpkin Cake read over the spell a third time, though more to give her time to think. “I’ll try,” she said. She calmed her breathing, focused, and started shaping the arcane patterns of the spell. Her horn glowed brightly, finally culminating in a shimmering glow appearing in front of her. She kept concentrating, focusing on the image, but nothing changed. Finally, she released the magic, gasping.
“The spell didn’t work,” Pumpkin Cake said.
“What does that mean? Is my mother dead?” Blue Seas asked.
“No. The spell should still have presented an image of her cutie mark. That wouldn’t change if your mother has already passed.”
“Then what does it mean?”
“I think it means I’m not a strong enough spellcaster.” She hugged her coltfriend. “Sorry, Blue Seas.”
“Thanks for trying, sweetie.”
It is said that Ponyville is an earth pony town. But the town’s proportions pale in comparison to the presence of earth ponies in a high level athletic competition. In the air, pegasi practice their own competitions. But on the ground, almost all the athletes are earth ponies.
That wasn’t going to stop Blue Seas from competing in the regional competition. The pool here in Fillydelphia was just as long as the one in Ponyville. The races were the same length. The styles of swimming were the same. He was just going to be racing against ponies older and stronger than him. The prospect was daunting. Fortunately, he just needed to be in the top three of the much smaller contingent of swimmers from Ponyville.
Blue Seas surveyed the athletic field, feeling nerves even though he wouldn’t be competing until tomorrow. He wandered through the large crowd. A volunteer found him, and helped Blue Seas register and sign up for a time to practice. He chose to practice early. After changing and dropping off his belongings in a locker, he headed to the pool.
In an unfamiliar pool, he found familiarity in his standard practice routine. Five laps, with no particular stroke, to loosen up. Then ten laps with each standard stroke, followed by five more laps to cool down. From there, he mentally reviewed his performance, deciding which part of his repertoire needed additional work in his remaining practice time. He went back to the backstroke, focusing carefully on his form.
Blue Seas felt like he was being watched as he left the pool. As he looked around, he heard somepony shout, “Hey, rookie!” He looked, and found a group of four stallions, three unicorns and one earth pony. They appeared a few years older than him, and while they didn’t look related to each other, each of them had a mane with two colors blended together.
He had never met another pony with a mane like his own. And now, there were four others.
“Uh, hello,” Blue Seas said. “Is it that obvious?”
“Pretty much,” one of the unicorns said. “I’m Wave Crasher, from Fillydelphia. My teammates, Azure Spark and Roller,” he continued, motioning to one of the other unicorns and the earth pony. “And that’s Sea Star. He’s from Baltimare, but we don’t hold it against him.”
“Blue Seas. Um, from Ponyville.”
“Ponyville? Isn’t that kind of far?” Wave Crasher asked.
“The train ride wasn’t that bad, I guess,” Blue Seas said.
An announcer barked the names of Sea Star and Azure Spark. “Sorry, two of us have to go, and I’m scheduled to practice right after them. I can’t wait to see your moves tomorrow,” Wave Crasher said.
“Likewise,” Blue Seas replied.
Blue Seas took a seat in the stands, and watched the two unicorns swim. He found himself impressed. They had a clear affinity for the water. Ponies had told him he was a natural, but this was his first chance to watch another gifted swimmer.
And after watching all four stallions practice, Blue Seas figured he would need a lot more practice to have a shot of winning a medal in the Equestrian Games.
Blue Seas didn’t have much time to think about his fellow swimmers. He found himself being herded around after practice, first to a meet and greet, then to dinner, then a meeting discussing the next day’s schedule. He was grouped in with the rest of the athletes from Ponyville, and each city’s ponies were encouraged to stick together by their respective coordinators. He wished that Scootaloo had made the trip; the mare wouldn’t tolerate being cooped up like that.
The next day found Blue Seas rising at his normal early hour. He started with calisthenics, and swam laps in one of the practice pools. At ten o’clock, he proceeded to the pool for the trials. Blue Seas was in the first group for the first event, the sprint. He secured his mane in a swim cap and donned his horn blocker.
The whistle sounded. Everything but the water in his lane disappeared as Blue Seas focused on the race. His legs kicked, perfect strokes propelling him through the water. His mental count told him the wall was approaching before he noticed the subtle difference in the water. He touched the wall, twisted, and kicked off. Three more laps followed before he pulled himself out of the water.
Anticipation helped keep up the quick pace of his heart as he waited for the official times. He smiled when his time was revealed. It was close to his best, and hopefully fast enough to qualify for the Ponyville team.
Blue Seas paced nervously in the stands as the other swimmers raced. The competition here was so much stronger than back home. The stallions from the previous day were particularly good. He held his breath as the result of each trial involving one of his Ponyville competitors was revealed.
He breathed a sigh of relief as the final trial finished. He would be going to the Equestrian Games in at least one event. But realistically, he knew he’d need a few more years of practice, and growth, to compete on this level.
The second race was announced. Blue Seas headed back to the pool. “Just four more events,” he told himself.
“Hey, rookie! You didn’t disappoint.”
Blue Seas was sharing dinner with a group of Ponyville athletes when he heard Wave Crasher call to him. He looked up; Wave Crasher wasn’t with his other friends this time. “Thanks, Wave Crasher. But I really don’t have a chance, do I?”
Wave Crasher slapped him on the withers. “Don’t get yourself down, kid. You’re what, fifteen? You’re only going to get better. You don’t have to worry that you’ve peaked, like I do.”
“Peaked? I’d be kind of surprised if you didn’t medal,” Blue Seas replied.
“The competition’s really strong this year,” Wave Crasher responded. “But I didn’t come to talk about that. How would you feel about a real race?”
“What do you mean?”
“An ocean swim. Open water. No requirements on strokes. No restrictions on magic. Just ponies, swimming to the best of all of their abilities.”
“I don’t know,” Blue Seas replied. He wanted to do it, but this sounded like hazing... or worse.
“I’ll be there to keep you safe, kid. And I also want to see what you’ve got.” Blue Seas looked up to see an older earth pony stallion, violet with a more normal two-tone blue and green mane. “Name’s Open Water. You have my word, kid.”
“It’s an honor, sir,” Blue Seas said nervously. Open Water was a legend in the swimming world; he earned dozens of medals as a swimmer and was the coach for a number of champion swimmers over the last ten years.
“I’ll be taking Wave Crasher and the others to Sandy Point; it’s less than half a mile from here,” Open Water said. “And we all want to see you there.”
“I’ll do it,” Blue Seas said.
An hour after dinner, Open Water led the five ponies to the beach. The setting sun reflected off the choppy ocean waters, oranges and reds highlighting the greenish water. Off in the distance, a small island, little more than a sandbar, caught Blue Seas’ attention. The island was perhaps a half mile away. As the other ponies stretched on the damp sand, they also watched the island.
Open Water departed, and soon returned with a rowboat balanced on his back. He shrugged, dropping the craft into the shallow water near the shore, placing one hoof on it to keep it from drifting off. “I know most of you have heard this before, but pay attention,” he said. He waited until everypony was looking at him.
“Okay. Let’s go over the safety procedures,” Open Water announced. He picked up a bulky orange vest, draping it over a foreleg. “This is a life jacket. You’re going to be in the open ocean. On your swim today, you shouldn’t have to worry about riptides, but the ocean is always unpredictable. If you are in any trouble, cross your forelegs over your head. I will take the boat to you and give you a life jacket. Nopony will think less of you for wanting to live to see tomorrow.”
He then held up a thin cylinder. “This is a signal flare. It will float on the water. When it’s lit, you can’t miss its light. If you see it, you start swimming back to shore immediately. No exceptions. Understood?” Everypony nodded.
“Good. I’ll be taking the boat out to the midpoint. When I give the signal, swim to that island.”
Open Water pushed the boat into the water and hopped in. As he rowed, the five swimmers walked out until the ocean water was up to their barrels.
The coach stopped rowing and turned the boat. Once it came to a stop, he held up his foreleg. He dropped it. The ponies surged into the ocean.
Blue Seas kicked his legs, his horn glowing. His magic flowed through his body and into the water around him. It could best be thought of as willing the water to work with him. He always felt his magic was particularly attuned to the water, a connection he sadly couldn’t explore in the realm of competitive swimming. But in this race, he could. It was as if his body and spirit were perfectly formed to swim.
With the full use of his magic, Blue Seas knew he was swimming far faster than his normal speed. His hind legs worked in perfect synchronization, propelling him along the surface of the ocean. His forelegs felt like they were commanding the ocean currents.
Yet it still wasn’t enough. The others were in their element as well. Wave Crasher was far ahead of him, with Azure Spark close behind him. Sea Star and Roller lagged them. As they approached the island, Blue Seas noticed Roller beginning to fade. He hoped he could beat at least one of the other swimmers. Blue Seas reached into himself, willing all his physical and magical energy to come forward.
In the end, the race turned out to be just a bit too short. Blue Seas had almost closed the gap with Roller, but the earth pony placed his forehoof on the sandbar just seconds before Blue Seas. Roller pulled himself onto shore. Blue Seas did the same, only to stop when he saw something very unusual. Roller’s hind legs were gone, replaced by a giant fish tail. He flipped onto his back, stretching his hindquarters. Yes, definitely a fish tail.
He looked around. All the others had fish tails, too. Blue Seas realized he was staring, his mouth agape. He shook his head and looked away. There would be time to ask questions. He finished pulling himself onto the shore. Or, rather, he tried to. His hind legs weren’t working. This wasn’t normal exhaustion. It was like his legs weren’t responding to his commands.
He looked down, and saw his own fish tail.
“One of us! One of us!” the other ponies chorused.
Blue Seas screamed.
They looked at him oddly. “What’s wrong?” Azure Spark asked.
“What did you do to me?” Blue Seas yelled.
“Huh?” they all said. Roller pulled himself closer to Blue Seas.
“Get away from me!” Blue Seas screamed.
“You heard him,” Open Water said. The coach rowed his boat until it beached itself on the sandbar. “I’ll talk to Blue Seas. The rest of you, swim back to shore.”
The others, still looking confused, listened to the coach. Blue Seas watched with morbid fascination as the four ponies’ fish halves twisted, pushing themselves into the water.
Open Water hopped out of the rowboat and sat in the sand next to Blue Seas. “What’s wrong?” he asked the young swimmer?”
“What happened to me?” Blue Seas asked. The fear in his voice worried Open Water.
“Is there something wrong with your seapony magic?”
“I’m not a seapony,” Blue Seas stated.
“I know; you’re half-seapony,” Open Water said. There was a look of disbelief in the young pony’s eyes. “Didn’t your mother or father teach you how to transform?”
“I’m adopted,” Blue Seas said. “I just thought I was a unicorn.”
“Well, ah... hmmm. That’s a new one for me.” Open Water paused. “I’m just an earth pony, but I’ve met a lot of half-seaponies in my years of competitive swimming. They have a natural affinity for the water, as you might guess. And they all can take seapony form, just like you did tonight, even the ones without unicorn or narwhal heritage. If I had to guess, your desire to swim as fast as possible tapped into your seapony magic and triggered this power.”
“How do I change back?”
“I think you just will it. Are you feeling okay? Do you want a ride back, Blue Seas?”
“Let me swim back. I think I need the time to clear my mind.”
With Open Water paddling behind him, Blue Seas slowly swam back. He focused on the movements of his seapony form. It was obviously designed to swim, but after a lifetime of swimming like a pony, it felt strange to use a giant, muscular tail to swim.
Blue Seas was physically fine, but mentally exhausted, when he reached shore. Open Water rested a hoof on his withers. “I’ll go explain to the others,” he said quietly.
Blue Seas didn’t know how long Open Water talked to the others. He was too busy trying to change back into his normal form. It took some time before he felt a feeling akin to stretching his hind legs during squats. There was a flash of light and a brief warm sensation, and he felt the ocean breeze again tickling the hairs of his hind legs.
Walking back to the camp on four legs now felt weird.
Blue Seas stood on the platform, waiting for the train home. The Fillydelphia train station was packed with athletes, many of them excited about their recent successes. Even those who ended the trials disappointed were supporting their friends and fellow athletes.
He saw Wave Crasher pick his way through the crowd. He stood by Blue Seas, shuffling his hooves awkwardly. “I just wanted to say, we’re all sorry for the way we acted the other night,” he said. “There aren’t many half-seaponies, and we got so excited to meet another that we never thought it possible that you, well....”
“That I was totally clueless?” Blue Seas offered
“Yeah. I mean, we were clueless too. When you said you were from Ponyville, we should have known. We live on the coast, so we can visit with both sides of our families, so with you living in the heart of Equestria, we really should have known.” He pulled an envelope out of his bag. “Here are all of our addresses. If you have any questions about swimming, or seaponies, or anything, write us.”
“Thanks,” Blue Seas said. He quickly rummaged through his own bag, finding a piece of paper and a quill, and scrawled his contact information on it. “And here’s my address.”
“I’m looking forward to swimming with you again, whether in Baltimare at the Games or in the ocean.”
“Me too. And one day, I’ll be as fast as you.”
Wave Crasher smiled. “Of that, I have no doubt.”
A train’s whistle sounded. “All aboard for Canterlot, Ponyville, and Dodge Junction!” the conductor called.
“That’s my train,” Blue Seas said. “Take care.”
Blue Seas boarded the train, taking a seat by the window. As the train started to roll, he stared blankly, his mind focused on the events of the week. He had learned something surprising about his heritage. But it was incomplete. He still wanted to know more about his mother.