As Steel, Dotted, and Ms. Harshwhinny made their way out onto the boat deck, Steel's eyes grew wide at what he saw. Comparing this ship to his old one was like comparing a small house to a castle. Everything was bigger in scale. Glancing up, his mouth went agape at the sight of just how big the four funnels were.
"This is incredible." He said while looking around as Dotted led the way to the bridge. "I never thought I'd see anything like this."
"I can certainly agree with that." Ms. Harshwhinny replied. "This is quite an amazing vessel in terms of looks."
"Thank you, ma'am." Dotted said. "I was hoping you would like her."
"But looks won't matter if she can't pass these tests." The earth pony continued. "And my expectations are quite high considering the amount of bits you've invested into her."
"I'm confident that she will pass." Dotted replied before the group reached the bridge. "And it is here that I will let Captain Blade take over and run the tests."
"What?!" Steel exclaimed in surprise. This unexpected outburst made both ponies turn to look at him. Upon viewing their gazes, Steel just let out a sheepish chuckle before clearing his throat. "I mean uh... yes sir." He said before walking into the bridge.
"Trial by fire." He hears Ms. Harshwhinny say to Dotted as he walks over to the side of the ship where the mooring lines were being released.
"Don't screw this up." He said in his head. "Don't mess up. Don't mess up. Don't mess up." Soon, he could feel himself beginning to shake as the pressure slowly started getting to him.
"Captain Blade." Dotted said, breaking Steel's moment of panic. "A word in private, please."
"Sure." He replied before the two ponies made their way into a small cabin behind the bridge.
"Now Steel..." Dotted began to say after closing the door behind them. "I know you must be nervous right now. And that is very understandable."
"Nervous is an understatement, sir." He replied. "Are you completely sure about this?"
"Steel. I wouldn't have done this if I wasn't sure. I know you're nervous and I know that I just placed a large amount of weight on you. But I know you can do it. I've seen your record from the Academy. You're the top of your class. I believe in you, Steel."
"But what if I fail?"
"But-" Steel's response was quickly cut off by Dotted placing his hoof on his back.
"You won't fail." He repeated. "Now I wasn't going to show you this until after today's tests, but the room we're standing in will be your cabin."
"My.... cabin?" Steel asked before giving the room a more thorough look. A large bed, much bigger than his old one on the Celestia, sat in the middle along the back wall. On both sides along the wall were nightstands with lamps mounted on both. A small table sat beside one of the windows with two padded chairs, one of them for him most likely. Along the right wall was a door that, when Steel opened it, revealed a private bathroom with his own bathtub.
"Now you're free to add or remove anything in here to make it more comfortable for you." Dotted said as Steel turned around to look at him. "And I know this isn't your full uniform....." He continued before he opened one of the drawers of the nightstands with his magic and levitated a Captain's hat out. "But at least now your crew will know who's in charge." This made Steel smile a little bit before he took hold of the hat with his blue magic and placed it on his head. "Not a bad look." Dotted said, prompting Steel to laugh for a moment. He then turned and walked back over to the door leading onto the bridge. "Are you ready to get this started?"
Steel glanced upward at the bill of his hat before he breathed in heavily. He then slowly exhaled before feeling a new sense of confidence flow through him. "Yes." He replied. "Yes I am."
"Good." Dotted said before opening the door. "Let's get started then." Steel nodded before following his boss out onto the bridge. Once the two reemerged, Steel calmly walked over and propped his front hooves up on the railing of the starboard bridge wing and saw that all mooring lines have been released. He then proceeded over to the port bridge wing and found all of the tugs waiting with their lines attached.
"They're waiting on you, Captain." Ms. Harshwhinny said, making Steel look back at her. "Signal them to take us out."
"Right." He replied before going back onto the bridge. Looking around, he soon found what he was looking for. "This should do it." He thought before taking hold of Mareitania's whistle lever with his magic. Soon, he pulled down on it, sending a long blast from her whistle across the city. Once he let go, each of the tugs responded with a toot from their own horn before they all began pulling the large liner away from the dock. "Excellent."
"What are your orders, Captain?" A voice from behind asked, making Steel turn around. A green unicorn stallion with a black mane and tail wearing a black Officer's uniform stood before him.
"Who exactly are you?"
"My name is Port Side." He replied. "I am your First Officer."
"Nice to meet you." Steel said. "I am Steel Blade."
"It's good to meet you as well, Cap." The green unicorn replied.
"As for my orders...." Steel said before seeing that the tugs have pulled the ship completely away from the pier and the bow is now facing down the Hoofson River. "How about we give the tugs some help."
"Dead slow ahead then?"
"Yes." He replied. "Dead slow ahead."
"Aye sir." Port replied before enveloping each engine telegraph lever with his green magic. Steel looked on as each handle moved to the 'Dead Slow Ahead' position. A minute later, he could feel the turbine engines begin to slowly turn the four bronze propellers. He then turned to the pony who was at the helm. "Keep us toward the middle of the river." He said.
"Yes Captain." The pony replied.
"So." Port said as Steel looked back at him. "First day as a Captain, eh?"
"Where were you before this?"
"Fourth Officer on the Celestia."
"Quite the promotion." Port replied in an impressed tone. "You must have something special about you."
"Perhaps." Steel replied. "But I'm not sure."
"Hmm..." He said. "Well it looks like Mareitania isn't the only thing being tested today then." This made Steel look at him with a puzzled expression. "Seems like you're being put to the test as well." As the two ponies conversed, Dotted made his way onto the bridge.
"Ah. Good. I see you've met your First Officer." He said. "I'm hoping that the two of you will work well together."
"I'm sure we will, sir." Port replied.
"How are we doing on speed?"
"Lets see...." Steel replied. "Looks like she's doing about five knots right now."
"Good." Dotted said. "The tugs will release us as soon as we enter the mouth of the Hoofson. From there, we will navigate to the testing area just off the coast."
"Yes sir." Steel replied.
As the large liner made her way down the Hoofson River accompanied by her flotilla of tugboats, Steel looked on as crowds of ponies gathered on both sides of the river. He could see various camera flashes along with many ponies waving as the ship passed by. Seeing this made him smile as he had never seen anything like this before.
Before long, the liner had reached the mouth of the Hoofson River. Steel noticed this and grabbed a megaphone from inside the bridge.
"Release the tugs!" He shouted to the ponies on the forecastle. The ponies replied with a quick salute before going to work on removing the towing lines. As they did this, the crew members stationed on the stern did the same as well. Now for the first time, Mareitania was sailing all on her own.
"So where is the testing area?" Steel asked before Port grabbed a map with his magic.
"Not far." He replied. "Just a few miles to the southeast."
"Right then." Steel said before looking over at the pony behind the helm. "Ten degrees starboard. Course 120."
"Ten degrees starboard. Course 120." He repeated before turning the wheel to the right until the rudder indicator was at the position Steel requested. Soon enough, the liner began turning to starboard.
"Engines at Half Ahead." Steel requested.
"Half Ahead. Aye sir." Port replied before moving the levers into position. As Steel was finding his rhythm and comfort in commanding the liner, Dotted Line and Ms. Harshwhinny looked on as the ship began to pick up speed.
"He seems to be doing well so far." Ms. Harshwhinny stated as she watched him. "I'm impressed."
"I knew he was up to the task." Dotted replied. "I can tell that he'll make a fine Captain."
"We shall see." She said before looking at her watch.
Roughly 30 minutes passed until Mareitania reached the testing area. The area was a wide open space with several buoys positioned in a straight line at intervals of 100 yards.
"Alright Captain." Ms. Harshwhinny said as she looked at Steel. "Bring us up to maximum speed."
Steel nodded his head in response before looking over and grabbing each engine telegraph lever with his magic. He then moved each of them down to 'Full Ahead'. Soon, he could feel the vibrations of the engines as they sped up, driving the massive liner faster through the water.
"What's our speed?" Dotted asked after a few minutes.
"20 knots and rising." Steel replied. This response made Dotted smile.
"The fastest ship in Equestria could only do 20 knots!" He said in thought. "And we're still going faster!" He stayed like this for several minutes as Steel kept calling out the speed until it eventually stopped at 24 knots. This speed made Mareitania the fastest ship in all of Equestria now.
"Now that we are at full speed." Ms. Harshwhinny said. "I want you to perform a series of hard turns in both directions to see how she handles."
"Yes ma'am." Steel replied. He then turned to the helmspony. "Starboard 45 degrees!" He called out.
"Starboard 45 degrees." The pony replied before quickly spinning the wheel to the right until he could no longer turn it. Mareitania quickly responded to this by slowly rolling toward her port side as she went through her turn.
"Port 45 degrees!" Steel called out.
"Port 45 degrees!" The pony repeated before spinning the wheel to the left until he no longer couldn't. As the ship came out of the turn, Steel felt her straighten up before rolling toward her starboard side as she started turning to the left.
"Very nice reaction times." Ms. Harshwhinny replied. "Not exactly turning on a bit, but it's still better than most of the other liners. Now I want to see how fast she can go from full speed to a complete stop. Bring us to the beginning of the line of buoys."
"Yes ma'am." Steel replied. After a few minutes, Mareitania soon approached the line on a parallel course. As they approached the first buoy, Steel made his way over to the port side bridge wing. "Wait for it..... Wait for it......" He said in his head until the bow passed the first buoy. "Now! Full Speed Astern!" He called out, making Harshwhinny begin her timer. Port Side quickly moved each lever from 'Full Ahead' to 'Full Astern' before he joined Steel and Harshwhinny out on the bridge wing. Moments after, Mareitania's propellers stopped before her two inboard propellers began to churn in the opposite direction.
All ponies aboard looked on as the large liner began slowing down, passing buoy after buoy along the way. Time began to slow along with her as each second passed.
"Come on. Come on." Steel thought as the almost 32,000 ton liner slowed down until her bow had stopped just behind one of the buoys. Once she came to a stop, Port moved the levers to 'All Stop' before joining Steel, Dotted, and Ms. Harshwhinny on the bridge wing.
"How did she do, Ms. Harshwhinny?" Dotted asked.
"850 yards." She replied before looking at both Steel and Dotted. "Well done. That is quite acceptable." Steel and Port each looked at each other and smiled.
"That's fantastic!" Dotted exclaimed.
"Indeed." She said. "Now take us back to Manehattan and we will perform more tests tomorrow. If all goes well, then this ship will be ready for her maiden voyage."