• Published 9th Nov 2013
  • 3,145 Views, 157 Comments

Unbound Skies - Luminary



Equestria isn't what it should be. Fear, smoke and an invisible, ever-growing menace rule the day. A pink toymaker, a noblemare, and an airship captain and her crew are thrown together by peril, and set out to rescue the soul of Equestria

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Chapter Six: The Filly and the Foalnapper

From the warm, cramped underbelly of the ship lurched a sight that hadn’t been seen on deck for a few days. It walked to to the edge of the ship, looked down, and then promptly stepped away.

“Always forget you can’t see much from this high…” Lyra took a deep breath through her nose. “Still, nice to be get some fresh air at last.”

A white hoof rimmed with a thick red sleeve entered Lyra’s field of vision to playfully tousle her mane. “We’ve been out on the frontier too long. Can be easy to forget that there just aren’t enough pegasi to keep the skies clear after Cloudsdale took off.”

Surprise’s head lowered into view, placing a little peck of a kiss atop Lyra’s muzzle. “Nice to see you up and about, sweetie. And not naked this time, either.”

Lyra’s attire wasn’t exactly classy. A weathered brown scarf was draped around her neck, one that was probably too long for her. On her head was a tatty old apple cap tilted towards her right side so her left ear was still perked up (and nippable by Surprise). The rest of her ensemble came in the form of an unassuming brown jacket and a white shirt tucked underneath, the collar reaching around her neck and spreading out.

She pouted. “I thought you liked me naked?”

“Uh-huh. But I don’t want to share. It took a long time to get you just the way I wanted you. Why should everyone else benefit from my hard work?” The pegasus hovered closer to the deck, and was about as close to it as she was willing to get. “Speaking of that, where’d you find all those clothes? I have it on good authority that all of your drab stuff went mysteriously missing for reasons that surely don’t involve me. We need to match, missy.”

No one else on the ship managed to quite reach Surprise’s level of… fashion. She favored bright, primary colours, like her shockingly red coat, or the blue shirt and trousers below it. Every day was some new assault on the crew’s eyes.

Lyra rolled her eyes and tugged on her jacket. “You know I don’t like wearing those silly dresses you always want me in. I don’t see how anypony can take me seriously, when I’m in them.”

Surprise irritatingly patted Lyra between the ears, flattening her hat. “Sweetie, I love you, I really do, but nopony really takes you seriously now. You’re just our cute little underdog minstrel who’s saddled with a hilariously terrible ‘real’ job. You should dress in what I gave you, because it makes you look more like a proper little bard. That’s what ponies should love you for.” She flew to one side of Lyra, then the other. “Do you have your lyre with you, by the way? For all the clouds, it’s clear flying. Boring with a capital ‘Bore’.”

“I’ll save the music for later tonight.” Lyra scratched under the pegasus’s chin. “I’ll serenade you under the stars, hm? Wouldn’t that be much better?”

Surprise grinned, giving her lover a quick nuzzle. “You’re such a sap. Yeah, that sounds wonderful. Doesn’t help me now though, does it? In fact, s’going to have me sitting here daydreaming about it all day. The time’s going to crawl.” She jabbed Lyra in the side with a hoof. “So cruel to me, after I took care of you and everything.”

“Oh, so that’s how it is. If that’s how you see things, well…”

Lyra waltzed over to the side of the ship, hopped up onto her rear legs, and leaned dangerously over the edge. She looked over her shoulder at her marefriend and gave her a wistful, longing look. She then closed her eyes, spread her forelegs out, and bowed her head, seemingly in resignation. She leaned further forward against the railing, just moments from toppling over it. By the time Surprise had flown over, Lyra had already swung back around and planted her lips on those of the pegasus. It was the perfect bait for a perfect trap.

Just to make it all the more victorious a moment for Lyra, Surprise’s wings locked from the— well, surprise—when attacked with that kiss. She dropped onto the deck on her rump. Several of the surrounding crewponies snickered and laughed. Surprise’s head turned to level each of them with a killing glare that had them all wearing innocent expressions and finding their work incredibly interesting. Lyra was next in line for that look, but Surprise’s expression softened, and her eyes narrowed playfully instead. “Oh are you ever going to get it.”

“Later,” Lyra smugly replied, patting those white cheeks. The blush burning in Surprise’s ears rather ruined the effect of her glaring. It was just too hard for Lyra to take her seriously. “I’ve only just gotten up and about again. Give me at least a day before you break my legs. I still need to meet those new ponies.”

Surprise’s wings beat in long, purposeful strokes, lifting herself off the deck in her best impression of a hunting griffon. She floated toward Lyra with slow menace. “Oh-ho! Shouldn’t mention things like that. We pegasi can sense weakness, you know. Comes with being a proud warrior race. Oh, and the pretty, prissy one is up on the forecastle, but you’ll never make it to her.”

“You know me inside and out; it wouldn’t be a contest.” Lyra stepped forward and pecked Surprise’s cheeks, then leaned up towards her ear. “Tonight, okay?” she whispered. “It’ll be a night to remember, promise.”

“I’ll hold you to it.” In standard Surprise fashion, she wasted no time in going about her business. No sooner had she nodded her agreement than she was was winging off to do whatever it was that a First Mate did.

Shaking her head, Lyra walked down the deck. In hindsight, kissing Surprise had been a mistake; she was obviously tense, and the intimacy had just broken down a barrier. Despite having private quarters, managing to secure private time as a couple was actually quite difficult. Messes were always happening that had to be cleaned up. The last time they actually made love was… Lyra couldn’t even remember. Given how aggressive and pent up Surprise was, she assumed it had been a while.

This was confirmed after Lyra had taken a few steps toward the forecastle, vulnerably deep in thought. Something struck her from behind, and—tellingly—on top. Ivory and red legs wrapped around her, cushioning her fall, despite the banged knees it earned Surprise herself.

“Surprising Surprise and expecting to get away with vague promises and kissing? Tsk. You must still be feverish,” Surprise said. She scoldingly nipped at Lyra’s exposed ear. “Very un-Lyra-like, too. Could this be the big hero Lyra who saved me and Cloudy?”

The minty mare sighed. “Surprise, hun, I can practically smell the horny coming off you right now.” Berry always did say being blunt was the best way. “I know you want some loving, but you know that we can’t just go at it like bunnies.” Lyra’s legs quivered beneath Surprise’s weight, even though pegasi weren’t exactly heavy.

Surprise forcefully bumped Lyra with her muzzle, letting out an annoyed huff. Her ears flicked. “What is with everyone these days? Everypony’s so serious and gloomy. Even you. The most cheerful pony is the one who got shot in the the throat.” She actually managed something akin to a scowl, an expression that looked incredibly alien on her sunny face. “I’m not chasing your tail, Lyra. I just want to have a little fun with the mare I love.”

“Yeah, but…” Lyra collapsed to the floor with a grunt. “I’m pretty sure this is the ‘Congress of the Lotus Branch’ position from that book with the pictures, just without the toys.” She uselessly wiggled her limbs. “And I’m not a toy either, sweetie. I need to talk to the new ponies, make a good first impression, and show them I’m more than just your silly filly. I know you don’t think I’m capable on my own, but...”

“The silly filly’s the one I fell in love with. The one who plays songs for the crew, drinks too much wine when they pass it around, and grins despite ponies giving her a hard time. And yeah, the one who really can’t manage to make a daisy sandwich on her own, which is fine, ‘cause I like doing things for her.” Surprise beat her wings, lifting off Lyra with a sigh. “But fine, be serious Hero-Lyra for a while, if it makes you happy.” Without giving the minty mare a chance to respond, she flew upward in an arc across the deck, probably to sulk.

Lyra sighed and rubbed her head. Doubts began to plague her while she watched Surprise fly off. Maybe she should’ve indulged her pegasus, just a bit. It would’ve prevented her from feeling any worse, at least. She blew a kiss towards her mare, even if Surprise couldn’t see it, then headed towards the prissy pony who had been mentioned.

Lyra blinked when she got a good look at her. Maybe that was why Surprise had been so reluctant to leave Lyra alone? Jealousy was a tempting vice, and few ponies wouldn’t have been jealous of the pretty pony before her.

The mare, just as snowy-white as Surprise herself, was looking out along the course the ship flew with a distant, longing expression. It was like something from a romance novel. It didn’t help that the rich blue gown, which pooled around her hooves and probably cost more than Lyra made in a year, was a little worse for wear. The tattering and tears made her look just vulnerable enough to make Lyra want to wrap her up in her forelegs and tell her that everything would be okay.

Lyra then realized she was standing there, gawking at this mare she had never spoken to, and her mouth went running off without her brain. “Er… um…”

One ear, decorated with a glimmering diamond and silver stud, swivelled toward Lyra. That dreamy expression faded—unfortunately—and was replaced by a warm, welcoming smile. “Oh, hello. Am I in your way? Or did you wish to join me?”

Since her mouth and brain weren’t cooperating at the moment, Lyra opted to just stare at the open space in front of Rarity.

Thankfully, the noblemare seemed content to fill the void in the greeting. She followed Lyra’s gaze out toward the sea of rolling white clouds they flew over. “Mmm, it is beautiful, isn’t it? A different sort of ocean. We don’t have ships like this where I’m from. Pity that such loveliness is reserved for our winged cousins, is it not?”

“I guess, but…” Lyra shrugged. “Magic.”

“I suppose, but not all of us are as skilled as your Captain Trixie. You were at that rather disastrous meeting, weren’t you? With the first mate? We didn’t get the chance to be introduced.” She raised one perfectly filed hoof to her chest. “I am Rarity.”

“Lyra,” the minty unicorn replied, tipping her hat politely. “And yeah, I was at the meeting. But I couldn’t exactly do much, given that I had a cold and a very attached pegasus around me.” She couldn’t help but turn her head slightly to see if her beloved mare was right behind her. Sadly, she was still on the aftercastle.

“It seems that none of us were at our best that night,” Rarity said, ruefully. “It couldn’t have gone much worse. Hopefully it’ll turn out better the second time around. So, what do you do on the ship? I haven’t seen many unicorns. I imagine magical talent is rather at a premium.”

Lyra bit her lip, shifting on her hooves. “Er, nothing like that at all. Sorry to disappoint. I’m basically just the janitor here. I can get into the little spaces that most other ponies can’t reach, but that are too dangerous for fillies or colts.” After a beat, she added, “Blossomforth could probably manage. She’s nearly as flexible as I am, maybe more. Not too sure. I’m smaller though, and she’s higher rank, and—yeah.”

“Ahh. Well, I understand. A ship is a strictly run place, I’m led to believe. It needs to be well-maintained. I imagine it’s an important job.” Rarity inclined her head. “And really, in a way, I find it refreshing. In Equestria, unicorns are often far too convinced of their own inborn superiority. It’s nice to see one who’s not afraid to roll up her proverbial sleeves, like back home.”

“It’s not too different from what I was doing before. Just with a nicer environment and better ponies. For the most part, anyway.” Lyra snorted. “I think the captain could use a bit of… correction, sometimes. But she lets me hang around, so I suppose she’s not bad.”

Rarity stifled a little titter behind a hoof. She even laughed prettily, her blue eyes glittering with amusement. “Oh, yes. She’s quite the… interesting character, that one.” She leaned in a little closer to Lyra. Her nearness carried the sweet, floral scent of her perfume. “I think she almost had a fit when she tried to apologize to me. But I suppose I shouldn’t gossip about my host. Where did you live before?”

Lyra snorted, delightfully imagining the image of an exploding Trixie for just a few seconds. “Heh. Boom.” She blinked, then snapped back to reality. “Oh, right. I’m a Canterlot mare. Was. Whatever. You only need to take a look at me to guess what that was like.”

Rarity’s piercing eyes looked Lyra over, searching for some clue. “Oh? I’m afraid I can’t be sure. A lovely young mare, but one who worked for a living. If you lived in Upper Canterlot… a servant, perhaps? I’d have adored having a hoofmaiden like yourself. From Lower? You could have done anything.”

“If only I could’ve been so lucky as to have a mistress like yourself,” Lyra said, a charming grin accompanying her words. “But no, I was in the Lower parts. Chimney sweep. Got sent up dirty ol’ chimneys and cleaned them. Partially, at least; I could never get them completely clean. It was an impossible job, but I took comfort in the knowledge that if I was doing it, a child didn’t have to.”

“Ahh,” Rarity said, seemingly at a loss. How could a noblemare like her relate to that sort of thing? “One does what one must, in a place like Lower Canterlot. I needn’t tell you how that often turns out for some mares. So, how did you end up on a ship of fortune, then?”

Lyra giggled like a school mare. “Well, you’ll laugh, but… it happened so suddenly. One moment I’m poking my head out of a chimney, doing the usual business, and the next this random pegasus suddenly has me in her hooves and is carrying me off to her ship. She didn’t even tell the crew beforehoof, just dumped me in a bath, cleaned me up, and assigned me quarters. Didn’t even let me go when I asked nicely, so eventually, I just gave up. Nopony else seemed to mind.”

Rarity blinked, numbly. “You were foalnapped?” she finally asked, after a few moments of shock. “Onto this ship?”

Lyra suddenly clamped her hooves onto her mouth, eyes wide. “No! It’s not like—okay, so maybe it’s technically foalnapping, but...” She held up a hoof and started pacing around. “... hear me out! The life I have now is better than any I could’ve imagined while I was stuck in those chimneys. I prefer to think of this as… an opportunity. No, more than that. It saved my life.”

Her panicked expression relaxed, and was replaced by a deep frown. She went to the tip of the forecastle, rested her forelegs against the edge, and stared out at the horizon. “I’m not sure if Surprise even knows, but working in the chimneys? It’ll kill you. I didn’t work in them as long as some ponies have, but it was long enough to do some damage. That’s why you saw me all sick; it wasn’t the first time I’ve been laid up in bed coughing like that. I just can’t take the air in Canterlot anymore. It only makes things worse.”

Rarity all but stomped toward her, her expression intent. “Well, this will not stand. Regardless of whether or not you’re better off with these… brigands, you have no reason to stay. And I won’t countenance you being held against your will. You can rightfully claim to have worked with complex machinery. There are plenty of frontier settlements that would kill for a chance to get somepony with your expertise.”

Lyra whipped around in a burst of speed and placed her hooves on Rarity’s shoulders. “No! You can’t do that! Okay, it didn’t start off in the most conventional way, I know, but I’m in love with Surprise. She gave me so much that I can never really repay her. She opened my eyes, in a way. So I’ll always be hers, because I want to be.”

“How ghastly!” Rarity turned her head to glare at the pegasus across the deck. “Such things should be reserved for the more… scandalous novels. You aren’t some dog to be kept, who loves her master for giving her scraps. You have no need to ‘repay’ some frightful mare for snatching you from the streets. A crime where things incidentally turn out well is still a crime.”

“Haven’t you ever been in love?” Lyra asked, staring so fiercely into Rarity’s eyes it was almost a full-on glare. “Have you ever experienced the feeling where you know, deep in your heart, that you’d die for another pony? Even though you know it’s completely irrational? Even if others would say it was a bad idea?”

“I’m… prone to infatuation.” The noblemare admitted, carefully. “But love is something too wonderful to attribute to obligation. There’s a difference between being grateful and genuinely loving someone.” She stomped a hoof in frustration. “I simply don’t understand. These are foalnappers we're talking about. They abducted a filly off the streets to shove her into an engine. I can’t believe I was beginning to buy into the idea of them as plucky rebels fighting a noble fight. It’s insidious. They’ve tricked us both.”

In a sudden display of strength, Lyra rammed Rarity up against the side of the ship, pure rage brimming in her amber eyes. The noble unicorn yelped.

“Don’t you ever question my love for Surprise again,” Lyra hissed.

In a single blink, the anger vanished from her eyes. “Sorry. I’m sorry,” she muttered, hastily backing off. “But I really don’t like it when ponies doubt my love. It’s one of the few things I actually have. Hay, my last name is ‘Heartstrings’ for a reason.”

It took a moment for the shock to fade, but when it did, Rarity straightened up with as much dignity as she could salvage. Her tone of voice was scathing, and her eyes were hard. “I can see you fit in with this crew far better than I thought. Such is the product of making one’s trade in violence.” Rarity delicately brushed her mane back, then started toward the stairs leading from the forecastle. “If you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go find Pinkie, and make certain she hasn’t run similarly afoul of the crew. I shudder to think what that would do to such a gentle mare.”

“Wait! Wait a second!” Lyra galloped after Rarity, walking alongside her even though the noble-turned-spy wasn’t even giving her the presence of mind. “You don’t get it. The whole crew… it’s kind of a family. A really dysfunctional one, sure, but it’s still a family. There’s a lot of love here, it just gets shown in weird ways. I guess you don’t see it, since you’re out of the loop, but all the things I heard you’ve been claiming… do you really think we’re all just gonna accept that? I’ve seen it; everypony’s gotten way too tense since you arrived.”

Rarity didn’t so much as look at Lyra; she just stared straight ahead and kept walking. “Kindly stop following me. I’ve nothing further to say to you. I thank you for your warning, but if you’re implying I need to worry that this crew is the sort to carry out Trixie’s threats, well… your actions were enough to convince me of that as it is. If that were to happen, I promise that you would all pay dearly for trying to hurt myself or Pinkie Pie.”

“Look, I’m not—” Lyra cut herself off before any more breath could be wasted. Rarity was already gone, the hatch slamming shut behind her with an aura of blue magic.

Chipping the floor with a hoof, Lyra dragged herself all the way back to the aftercastle, back to Surprise. She’d sulked her way up the aft stairs when she nearly walked into a faceful of blue silk and ruffles. Octavia glared down at her imperiously.

Lyra shrank back, chuckling nervously. “Uh… this looks bad, doesn’t it? But! I had the best of intentions…?”

Octavia breathed a sigh and brushed past Lyra, heading into the bowels of the ship.

=====☼=====

Rarity’s legs shook. She couldn’t for the life of her decide if it was a matter of fear or anger. That poor, misguided filly hadn’t invoked nearly the sort of fear for her life that Rarity had experienced the previous night. But the implication of that brutishness was horrible enough. If even the most innocent of the crew was prone to such barbarism, what did that say about the rest?

“Lady Belle.”

Rarity nearly jumped out of her skin. She spun around, her magic already instinctively reaching out for the enchanted pockets hidden in her gown. She let the spell dissipate when she saw a grey coat and dark fabric.

“M-Miss Philharmonica!”

“A moment, if you would be so kind?” Octavia asked gently.

Rarity was tempted to just continue onward, but all her instincts told her that such a polite and proper request deserved better. And, she had to admit, she didn’t really wish to give Octavia a poor opinion of her. She stopped, taking a moment to gather herself before turning around, if just to erase the lingering scowl she felt clinging to her lips. “Very well.”

Octavia took a few steps forward. Though she might have hated herself for her weakness, Rarity’s eyes naturally flowed down to the earth pony’s legs. To watch that flowing, delightfully unusual walk as it went, each hoof daintily in front of the other. She forced her eyes back up when Octavia sat on her haunches in front of her. Her purple eyes were glimmering with a wry, knowing amusement. Rarity felt her cheeks heating and cursed her pale complexion, as she did whenever that happened.

By all the infinite mercies of the Sisters, Octavia spoke with enough abruptness to interrupt Rarity’s downward spiral of mortification. “Captain Trixie gave up wealth and estate, and the Regent’s offer of matrimony, after Surprise led her on a chase through all the shameful, broken parts of Equestria. She took in a stowaway, who she by all rights should have cast from the ship, and educates and cares for her like a daughter.”

Rarity blinked. “I don’t see—”

A grey hoof rose to interrupt, and Octavia continued on. “Commander Surprise had a promising career as an airship designer until the deaths in Cloudsdale made her sink all her funds into the creation of a ship. This ship. I believe that a lady such as yourself understands the value of discretion, so I would ask for it now. Surprise, who is as free-flying a pegasus as you would ever meet, has been trying to work up the courage to ask for Lyra’s hoof in marriage for months.”

When Octavia again paused, Rarity decided to keep her silence. It earned her a small nod from the earth mare.

“Berry Punch is brash, uncouth, and often dour. She struggles with drink and, I think, with her pains. In just the time that I have been here, she has been shot no less than twelve times, Miss Belle. She throws herself into the fray in the stead of her family.” Octavia inclined her head gravely. “I have no doubt her life will be a short one. And, I wager, neither does she. Yet she does it anyway.”

Thankfully, that somber expression brightened. “Lyra Heartstrings, the mare you had the altercation with, is oft belittled for her position, and for her beginnings. Yet, as the months have gone by, that criticism has gained a note of fondness. She is the spirit of our crew. Our mascot, if you will. The underdog, who never falters or loses cheer. She is no important officer or mare of great skill, but… she plays for the crew, and is beloved for it. She gives us light, and hope.”

Octavia rose and took a step forward, standing nearly muzzle to muzzle with the unicorn. Rarity held her breath. Her traitorous knees felt weak. Thankfully, although Octavia dropped her voice, it wasn’t to the husky, enticing pitch that Rarity’s most shameful inner self longed to hear. “And she gives me hope, too. I would ask you never to repeat it, but… she teaches me. Teaches me to play. In secret, which is no small difficulty on a ship like this. I weep, Lady Belle, after those sessions. How can I not, when my soul flies free during those moments, and only ever then?”

There was a rustle of fabric as Octavia lifted a hoof, pressing it to the center of Rarity’s chest. Her eyes searched Rarity’s own. “Do you understand what I’m trying to tell you, Lady Belle?”

Not trusting herself to speak, Rarity nodded.

Octavia answered the gesture with a nod of her own and turned, beginning to walk back to her duties on deck.

“What about you?” Rarity found herself asking, her mouth seeming to work without her permission. “You spoke for the virtue of everypony else, but not yourself.”

The earth mare stopped and glanced over her shoulder. “There is little to say, Lady Belle. The others are here for principle, or for love. I follow simply from loyalty, blind and amoral. My family are poets, philosophers, and musicians, workers of beauty and conscience. I, on the other hoof, am but a sword.”

She resumed that prowling walk, but Rarity couldn’t bring herself to stare this time. Once the earth pony had climbed the stairs, the noblemare leaned against the wall and exhaled a long-held breath. “No, Rarity,” she murmured to herself. “Don’t you dare fall for the intense one with the tragic backstory. Life is not a romance novel. It will not go well.”

Resigned to the fact that her latest round of self-scolding would likely have no more luck than any other one, she sighed and pushed herself away from the wall to resume her hunt for Pinkie Pie.

=====☼=====

Scootaloo’s wings buzzed loudly enough to sound like tearing sailcloth, making the faceless ponies around her look up toward the Unbound Skies’s envelope in alarm, expecting to see it splitting open. But it was worth it; she made another inch of headway against what felt like tree sap clinging to her limbs. Pride swelled in her chest, giving her the confidence to take a moment to look back over her shoulder.

It was a few inches closer than the last time she looked. The filly’s eyes widened in horror. Her limbs seized up, as she was unable to tear her gaze away from what inexorably pursued her. It didn’t care about her moment of panic; it just crept closer. The imagined chill of its presence against her hindquarters was just too much.

Scootaloo’s legs flailed, trying to run in mid-air, for all the good it did. Somewhere along the way she remembered she was a pegasus, even if half the crew probably thought she was a lousy one. She’d overcome the challenge. She had to. There just wasn’t any other option. Anything else was unthinkable. Her little wings unfurled from where terror had pinned them to her side, though the lack of flapping caused no loss in altitude. She beat them as hard as she could, harder than she ever had before.

She struggled another hair forward. Sweat poured from her. Her wings burned from the strain. But she won another hoof-length. Another whole body length. She felt the thing that held her start to slip. For the first time ever, maybe she would escape from the coming nightmare. A grin snuck onto her lips. She’d finally get free this time. She just k—

The cold came, as it always did. Suddenly. Bitingly. Burrowing in through her skin, all the way to her bones. Scootaloo shrieked.

Trixie applauded, tapping her hooves against the deck as the shivering, sodden Scootaloo was lowered to the ground by her magic. Water dripped from the miserable filly, courtesy of the levitated orb of cold water that had exploded to cover her the second it touched her tail.

“Bravo!” Trixie cheered, despite Scootaloo’s hateful glaring. To the pegasus filly’s horror, sparks and exploding stars of many colours danced around her, attracting the attention of the rest of the crew. “The best performance yet! Trixie’s magic could barely hold onto your hooves.”

The shivering somewhat lessened the effect of Scootaloo’s angry stare. “B-But you still s-soaked me!” She looked around at her crewmates, who were drawing near. “S-Somepony pass me a towel?”

A sky-blue hoof reached out, lightly tapping against Scootaloo’s muzzletip. “Do you think Trixie started by hiding whole ships? Greatness has to be fought for.” Pink magic dropped a towel over Scootaloo’s back. “You improved over last time. You’ll be even better next time. Then Trixie will need to think of new, even more brilliant training.”

“You’ll just keep me going through hoops,” Scootaloo muttered, wrapping herself with the towel. “Literally. Telling me to fly through flaming hoops.”

Trixie thoughtfully tapped her hoof against her chin. “A good idea. Crew morale is important. And that would be hilarious.”

White legs scooped Scootaloo up off the ground with little warning. Surprise hugged the towel-wrapped filly close to her chest and gave her purple mane a nuzzle. “Oh, don’t listen to Trixie. She just missed her calling as a circus performer. Once you get up to speed, us pegasi will take over your training. You just have a bit of catching up to do, strength-wise.”

Scootaloo’s cheeks flared red, the filly averting her eyes from the snickering crew, including an outright chuckling Berry. “Surpriiise… I keep telling you, I’m not a foal. I can handle myself.”

“I know. You’re a fierce pirate filly,” Surprise conceded, placing Scootaloo back down on her hooves. “But you’re just cute as a button, too. And since I’m your superior officer, you can’t contradict me on that.”

“Seriously?” Scootaloo rolled her eyes. “You’re drawing the ‘I’m your officer’ card again?”

“It’s the card that always wins. So yes.” Seemingly aware that the attention was embarrassing the filly, Surprise looked around the crowd, and picked out the worst offender. “Speaking of cute as a button ponies who can’t say a thing against me...”

Surprise flung her forelegs out wide and advanced on Berry, hovering menacingly closer. “You’re looking much better! I’m so glad.”

“Yeah, well…” Berry scoffed, brushing her chest with a hoof. “You can never keep me down for long. It’s one step back, two steps forwa—”

Berry’s words were cut off by a face full of bright red cloth.

The quartermaster sighed. Her was voice muffled when she spoke. “Surprise, stop hugging my damned face.”

Condescendingly petting Berry’s mane with a hoof, Surprise crooned, “What, don’t like the crew snickering at’cha?”

“No. You just smell like Lyra.”

Scootaloo huffed, making her escape from all the odd adults crowding the place. How could they be so weird and yet so boring at the same time? Weaving and crawling through the mass of legs that had gathered around Trixie, she bumped into a particularly colourful pair.

“Hi Scootaloo!” Pinkie chirped, giving her a bright smile. “I just saw what you did there and I just wanted to say. Totally. Awesome! I wish I could fly as well as you can!”

“Thanks,” Scoots replied, giving Pinkie an unusually coy smile. “But, er, you’re not a pegasus. You can’t fly at all.”

“Exactly! And that’s why I’ll always envy you just a teeny bit!” Pinkie bent down, picked Scootaloo up, and threw her into the air.

The pegasus shouted, somehow doing a perfect forward flip in the air before miraculously landing on Pinkie’s back. She blinked a few times before a grin split her muzzle. Even though she had no idea what had just happened, it was awesome. “Yeah, exactly! I did do pretty well there, didn’t I?”

Pinkie nodded approvingly. “Yep! So how about we find some treats to celebrate?”

“Well, duh,” Scootaloo replied, ruffling the only cool adult’s mane. “And then can we work on that secret hoofshake you promised me we’d make?”

“Of course! A Pinkie Promise is a promise kept,” the earth mare solemnly swore, turning away from the crowd and heading towards the depths of the ship.



Another meeting?” Pinkie grumbled, opening a door and stepping through. “But the last one was so messy. The bad vibes haven’t even gone away yet.”

“Look, I don’t make the meetings. I just make the table look nice. Which Berry usually ruins anyway with her booze,” Scootaloo muttered, snorting defiantly.

“Hmm… I’ll go to it, but I’m bringing a deck of cards, and we can play them while everypony else gets all bother-y and mad.” Pinkie stopped to look at her passenger. “You can play poker, right?”

Scootaloo gave her a blunt look. “I’m a filly.” She was met with a blink. “Of course I know how to play poker.”

“Goodie! So we’ll eat some treats, start making our secret hoofsake, and then we’ll get the cards and chips for the game all hopefully in time before that crummy meeting!” Pinkie picked up the pace, going at a hasty trot. “I’m guessing we don’t have a lot of time, so let’s gooooo!!” She sped off at a full gallop, almost crashing into the ship’s walls, the young flier on her back smiling all the way.

=====☼=====

Scootaloo’s face was mushed into her hoof, resting on her stool. Her thoughts were all cantankerous, concentrating on the cruelly confiscating Captain who had carried their cards away. Yawning, she watched with dull interest as the dull crew only talked about the letters on the table, rather than doing what a normal pony would with letters: open them.

The temptation to let out a very long groan was extremely strong. Sure, it would’ve annoyed the Captain and nearly everypony else, but at least it was something eventful, if only barely. Thankfully, she never needed to moan.

“Guuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh…” Pinkie wailed, lying on her back. “Can’t you guys just get to the good part already? If there is a good part? Are there, like, snacks or something at least?”

The conversation, which was about if the Regent was crazy or something, came to a dead stop. Finally. Scootaloo knew the answer to that one without all the endless talking; yes, all big scary villains were crazy. That’s what made them big scary villains.

Trixie put on disapproving scowl number two. Scootaloo was most familiar with that one. It was the one that said ‘be more boring’. “There’s tea. Scootaloo made cucumber and daisy sandwiches. Eat them. So we were ta—”

Pinkie interrupted, “I tried the tea. It’s got no sugar which is a crime. And the sandwiches are nice—she did a pretty good job on them ‘n’ all—but they’re not snacky enough. Snacks aren’t healthy. Well, the good ones aren’t anyways.”

“The sugar is three hooves from your muzzle. Trixie doesn’t like sugar in her tea, so we all add it after. Use it.” The pink glow of levitation shot the sugar bowl across the table. It stopped abruptly enough that sugar spilled across Pinkie’s plate and untouched sandwiches. “Scootaloo, go get something sweet for her.” The captain turned back to the rest of her crew. “As Trixie was saying, the letters spoke of the Regent making some sort of preparations in some ruins, and providing more soldiers. It doesn’t quite come out sounding like a command, but it isn’t really a request, either. That’s certainly—”

Scootaloo didn’t hear the rest of the Trixie’s sentence, but she knew it would’ve been waffling. Feeling daring (spurred on by boredom), she left the room and entered Surprise’s private quarters. It was a well known fact to her that the first mate had a special cookie jar. The Captain ordered her to get something sweet. Cookies were extremely sweet and so logic dictated that she wouldn’t get in trouble for this.

The location of the jar wasn’t very well hidden. In a cruel twist of fate that Scootaloo swore had been intended for her, it was sitting very obviously on top of the wardrobe. It nearly touched the ceiling.

Growling quietly, she climbed onto the bed and measured her target. “Maybe if—hm…” There was one advantage to being unable to fly. All that bound up enthusiasm had been transferred to her galloping and balancing ability. If there was one thing Scootaloo excelled at, it was being amazingly agile.

She jumped, just managing to land a hindleg on one of the wardrobe’s door knobs. The feel of it under her hoof prompted her to vault off of it, her forelegs outstretched. She could swear she felt the brass knob bend, but hopefully nopony would notice. She grabbed the top of the wardrobe, her little legs scurrying as they tried to climb up the rest of the way.

Thankfully the task was no match for the energy of a pegasus filly. Victoriously claiming her prize, she leapt down with the jar and trotted proudly back into the meeting room.

“Ooo!” Pinkie snatched the jar from Scootaloo, opened it with hungry vigor, then started sharing the spoils with her small companion.

At least the cookies gave her something to focus on, because it seemed like nothing interesting had happened in the meeting.

“Fine. So maybe the Regent believes in foalhood boogeymares. So what? That’s what I’m still not getting.” Surprise tossed her hooves up in exasperation. “If we out him as an idiot, Manehatten will still be sitting under martial law. Cloudsdale will still barely be in Equestria, since the clouds will still be poison. There’ll still be soldiers everywhere, doing whatever they want and being supported by the Regent’s bullycolt tax collectors. What does it buy us? We should be trying to cripple him. Not make him blush.”

Octavia was the one who answered. She was posh, but the even posher mare (Scootaloo couldn’t believe that was even a thing) got a really stupid dumb look on her face. Like she’d just seen a chocolate fountain or something. Scootaloo was well aware what was up; Octavia was kind of cool, in the way a tiger or something was, but she couldn’t see why anypony’d want to get all kissy-faced over her.

“It’s never been about killing soldiers, Ma’am. Not since Captain Trixie took over. There’ll always be too many mares at arms arrayed against us. The goal is a victory of propaganda. Making the Lord Regent seem ineffective. He rules through a sense of legitimacy, and through the racial pride of the unicorns as much as anything else. Make him a laughingstock in Canterlot, and he’ll not long survive.”

“Exactly,” the snobby new unicorn said. Agreeing with the mare she was all gross over. How shocking. “I can most assuredly vouch for how predatory things are in the court. It’s always ever a search for a turned back to place a knife. And each one wants the Regent’s chair, I’ve no doubt.” Scootaloo held back a laugh. Obviously the best plan was to plant a whoopie cushion on the chair. The Regent would be embarrassed and then nopony would want it. “The whole nest of snakes will turn on itself within a week, should the Regent expire. Even those that still believe in properly electing a stallion or mare to it. Just because they would never risk their rivals grabbing the power.”

“And what about after?” Berry asked.

After is something we can barely worry about now.” Trixie waved a hoof dismissively. “We’ll take it as it comes. We’ll have leeway, as the plucky heroes, to sway things. Our reputation is still good outside of Canterlot. Where they can still wrap their little pony minds around the fact that the Regent is a monster.”

A pink hoof prodded Trixie’s side. Repeatedly. Scootaloo hide her smirk by stuffing another cookie in her mouth. The Captain’s face gradually grew more annoyed with each poke.

She tried to ignore it, obviously. Scootaloo could tell by how red the Captain was getting that it wasn’t going to work.

“What?!” Trixie yelled, after, like, the hundredth poke.

“Are we gonna set down and actually see these places? The ship’s nice enough, but it gets kinda boring seeing the same browns all the time, and I already answered the question of what clouds taste like.” Pinkie frowned with bitter disappointment. “Nothing. They taste like nothing.”

Fuming, Trixie stalked over to the back of the stateroom. She grabbed a sheet covering her cool globe thing with her teeth. Which was really a good thing, since magic and Trixie being angry didn’t mix at all. She yanked it down.

“Oh! Hey! You really do have one of my Funducational Geo-Spheres!”

Scootaloo’s wings buzzed. Pinkie really had made it? That made sense. It was the coolest thing Trixie owned. It was a big brass globe of the world, almost the size of a pony. And it even had cool little mountains and castles and towns and stuff on the surface, all in different metals. It was all covered in gears and wires, dials and levers. And apparently all the rings around it let you measure distances super-well. Though it involved all sorts of numbers that made Scootaloo die a little inside every time Trixie tried to teach her.

Trixie pushed and poked a few things, and the whole globe spun around with a cool humming whirr. The sharp point of Canterlot came into view, but the globe kept spinning south, until the rough patch that represented a forest swung into view. It was threaded through with a double-scored line that represented railroad tracks. They never quite made it out of the other side of the forest. Near the end of that line, however, was a tiny figure that look like a ruined castle.

“Aww, that’s the old model. The new one has all these sparkly lights and makes dingy noises when you press the buttons on the cities!” Pinkie exclaimed.

“I think I much prefer this one.” Trixie haughtily answered. She tapped her hoof against the lens, if lightly. She treated the globe like her foal, and almost never let Scootaloo play with it. “So, that’s where we’re going, my impatient engineer. The Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters. Those letters may not give names, but they say, and I quote; ‘The ruins prove to be a redoubt immune to many of the dangers of the forest. But nearly every day the patrols lose soldiers. And the supply of powder remains critically short after the train’s disappearance.’ There seems to be only one possibility.”

“Are ya sure? Becauuuuse…” Pinkie spun the globe, it spinning around faster than anypony had ever seen it go before. Trixie paled. A simple pink hoof brought it to an immediate stop. “‘Cause I heard stories of some underwater ruins, and they gotta have reefs, and I also heard that reefs are like underwater forests!”

“Or Blackhoof Castle! That’s a big ruin. And it’s all haunted, too, by the ghost of Blackhoof’s bride, imprisoned forever,” Surprise supplied.

“Could try the Captain’s house,” Scootaloo heard Berry mutter. “Heard that’s pretty crappy.”

Trixie put a hoof to the base of her horn, closing her eyes. “Kill Trixie now, world.” She sighed and opened her eyes. She pointed at Pinkie. “Mermares aren’t real. And neither is their lost kingdom.” The hoof levelled on Surprise. “Blackhoof Castle is in a swamp, not a forest. Ghosts are also not real. And Blackhoof was a coltcuddler. I’ve read his memoirs.” Next came Berry. “Buck you. Trixie’s hearing is as excellent as anything else about her.”

Berry only responded with a dismissive hoof-wave. Lyra, however, raised her hoof. “Actually, er, they’re called seaponies.” She shuffled rhythmically in her seat. “Shoo be doop, shoo shoo be doop…”

“Seaponies don’t have forelegs. They have flippers. Mermares do. They’re taxonomically different. Leave the tale-telling to the professionals.”

“So the Great and Powerful Trixie has a mermare fetish?” The traces of a smirk appeared in the corner of Berry’s mouth. “You learn something new everyday.”

Surprise cuffed Berry behind the ear with a hoof. “Stop trying to cause a fight.”

Scootaloo sighed, gesturing for Pinkie to follow her to the corner of the room. The tinkerer obliged, obliviously bouncing through the developing screaming match. It wasn’t much quieter in the corner, but at least it was out of the way.

“What’s up?” Pinkie asked.

“Nothing. It’s just that meetings usually end up like this. The first time I was actually pretty worried, but now…” Stuffing a cookie in her mouth, the filly just shrugged.

“Oh. Right.” Pinkie’s brow deepened as she gazed at the quarreling ponies. “Somepony should really sort them out. But in the meantime…” She reached behind Scootaloo’s ear and somehow revealed the stolen cards.

Scootaloo did a double take. “W-What?”

Pinkie giggled mischievously. “You really think that Trixie could keep anything from The Great and Powerful Pinkie? Silly Scoots. Oh-so innocent.” Scootaloo rolled her eyes for that one. “You’ll learn.”

“Whatever. You shuffle the deck and we’ll start playing.”

“Gotcha!” Her hooves a blur, Pinkie shuffled in seconds and started dealing the cards. Between the cookies and the cards, Scootaloo couldn’t have thought of any better result.

Well, maybe a try of Berry’s wine could’ve been cool too.

=====☼=====

The best dreams were always interrupted.

Scootaloo’s eyes flickered, the image of her soaring through the air, joined by an ensemble of airships, vanished in her head. Something was rubbing against her head. Going by it’s complete ignorance of personal space, she had a pretty good idea who had woken her.

Instead of giving the pony any proper response, she merely grumbled and rolled over.

Surprise’s soft laughter confirmed things quite handily. “Wakey wakey. Meeting’s over.”

“For real?” Scootaloo asked, still not turning over.

“For real. Went pretty long. Can’t blame you for dozing. But once Berry and Trixie got to the glaring stage, it went okay.” Feathers brushed up against Scoots’ side. “C’mon now. I’m not a unicorn. Need your help to carry you to bed.”

“M’kay…” Scootaloo agreed, getting up to her hooves. More sleep was definitely a good thing, considering how often she was ordered about. “Hey, where’s Pinkie?”

Surprise knelt down on her forelegs, and extended a wing under the groggy Scootaloo, scooping her up and lifting her onto her back. “Dunno. She left with Rarity.”

“Oh, right.” Her ears twitched when they left the room. Close by, the sound of lyre strings being plucked, coming through the walls. “Eugh. Lyra’s playing that boring thing again?”

“It’s not boring. I think it’s beautiful.” Surprise looked back over her shoulder, lowering her voice and whispering conspiratorially. “It’s her cutie mark, you know. Don’t tell her I said so. It’s the lyre, I mean. It isn’t some dusty chimney or something. She’s finally doing what she should be doing. And I think that’s worth something, right?”

Scootaloo moved around, ending up lying against Surprise’s mane. “Yeah… kinda sucks that she isn’t getting paid for it though. Captain doesn’t like her much.”

“The Captain’s always worse with unicorns.” Surprise gave a shrug, if one subtle enough not to dislodge Scootaloo. She took to the air then, as usual. “But really, I think she’s just still grumpy ‘cause I didn’t ask her before bringing Lyra on. All that navy authority brainwashing at work, probably. It’s what happens when you whip ponies for things. They get strange ideas stuck in their head. Bet you’ve seen Trixie’s back legs by now. She got it bad.”

“I’ve heard you whipping Lyra before, so that makes a lot of sense now,” Scootaloo said.

Surprise’s steady wingbeats faltered. She had to extend a hoof to the ground to keep from slamming into the deck. “T-that’s different!” she stammered. “You’ll understand when you’re older. Just file it under ‘Adults are weird’ and please never think of it ever again. Or mention it to Trixie.”

“Yeah yeah, I’ll just add it to the ever-growing list of things I apparently won’t get ‘cause I’m still just a filly.” The child huffed.

“Remember when Trixie got mad at you for looking at that black book with the weird writing on it that she keeps in her very locked hooflocker? It’s like that. There are some things Ponies Are Not Meant to Know.” Surprise alighted back onto the ground, with more grace this time, and pushed open the door to Scootaloo’s cabin.

It was tiny, probably little more than a repurposed closet. But it was near to the Captain’s Cabin and was entirely for Scootaloo alone. A rare luxury on any ship. Scotaloo hopped off Surprise’s back and landed on her bed, which was little more than a repurposed crate with a few blankets piled inside. Given her size, it served her well.

Surprise peered inside, scrunching up her muzzle. “I don’t get how you can stand spaces that small. I’d have a fit. The hallways are bad enough. Pegasi aren’t meant to be cooped up like chickens.”

“It’s cozy, but yeah, I never stay here for long. I’m used to it anyway,” Scootaloo said, making herself comfortable. “Hey, you never told me what we’re doing next. Did something actually good come out of the meeting this time?”

“Went great. Eventually. Berry and Trixie just need to shut up and fu—” Surprise coughed. “—figure out their differences, already. But once they settled down, we got things squared away.” A roguish smirk tugged at her lips. “Looks like we’re going to be storming a castle.”

Author's Note:

The usual shout-outs to our pre-readers, Dusk Watch, 621Chopsuey, and Web of Hope. Thanks to my proofer, Pale Horse, who we didn't give nearly enough time to, due to Mother's Day and such. Sorry! All errors are my Jake's fault.

Finally back to the action next chapter! I never thought I'd crave it over character interaction.
The grass is always greener...

Comments ( 44 )

DAMMIT! We have LyraPrise, and now you're slamming me with some RariTavia goodness?

Lumie, you better quit while you're ahead, or I won't have any love left for yous. :heart:

4379521
I can't stop. It's a compulsion. I have to ship all the things.

I think I have a problem. :fluttershbad:

4379587 No, I ship everything with everything too. Is k. Dashing Diamonds 5ever

"And the supplies of powder remains critically"
That ought to be either
"And the supply of powder remains critically"
or
"And the supplies of powder remain critically"

Another delightful chapter. :)

4379587

IO actually like this development. We don't get too many triangles in this community and in this we get a bunch of characters atracted to each other but with no certain attachments yet and it appears they are all positive characters so there are no clear winners yet. I like the idea of having several optoins in a world such as this since it gives opportunity to see characters in a light without all the baggage (good baggage in this case but baggage all the same) of strict cannon gives us.

Rarity Pinkie is one angle. Rarity Octavia could be another. Pinkie and X could give us another angle. I will just go and enjoy the ride.

More words, please.:trixieshiftleft:

4379587
Perhaps. Careful with that.

“Went great. Eventually. Berry and Trixie just need to shut up and fu—” Surprise coughed. “—figure out their differences, already.

:rainbowlaugh:

“Shoo be doop, shoo shoo be doop…”

Pirate finds the timing of this reference appropriate and enjoyable, :moustache:

Pegasi aren’t meant to be cooped up like chickens.

This was Ginger's doing, wasn't it? :rainbowlaugh::facehoof:

4379521
Don't forget TrixiePunch/BerryLulamoon.

4379998
Thanks for the catch! S'what I get for making last-second changes when exhausted.

4380410
S'my biases showing through. I love love triangles (or squares. Or dodecahedrons). Though I'm less the fan of all the miscommunications and more immature dramas sometimes associated with it. So we'll see if we can avoid falling back on all of that.

4380547
There's no way to avoid it in a story tagged 'Romance', alas. But the plan isn't really to let the relationship drama take over too much, even if it is present. We'll be getting into a few more action-oriented chapters now. In case the lesbian horse content is getting a bit too high for your preferences. :twilightsmile:

4381576

This was Ginger's doing, wasn't it? :rainbowlaugh::facehoof:

Noooo. I snuck it in when Jake wasn't looking.:twilightblush:

4382828

In case the lesbian horse content is getting a bit too high for your preferences.

The lesbians can never be too damn high. :rainbowdetermined2:

4382828
Oh, good. Action is always fun, especially when it involves airships. :pinkiehappy::pinkiehappy::pinkiehappy:

4383355
Yes they can and the enthusiasm for them is always TOO DAMN HIGH!

[rant]
*insert standard argument about ridiculous rate of incidence of certain kinds of relations in MLP fanfiction and the ridiculous assumption that male ponies don't exist, exist in smaller numbers, or that heterosexual relationships don't exist because the author says so.*
[/rant]

Okay, proceed. :trollestia:

4383914
Male ponies are a myth.

Female ponies multiply by mitosis.

Relationships are really just for fun and provide no particular physical purpose.

4382828

One thing I think you will not fall into is making one character the clear favorite by making the other a real jerk. I would see that in Digimon fan fiction all the time where you would read a story that was Davis/Kari and in order to make it work in their mind best they would make TK (the other common male partner for Kari) into a jerk (very OOC).

Since you do not have a real vested interest in a particular pairing in this case you can let it grow more organically.

4385711
It rather helps to actually like all the characters. :trollestia:

And both RariPie and RariTavia are honestly ships that I would never really do, left to my own devices. As fun as they may prove to be to write. So, yes, no clear biases there.

Jakey, of course, worships Pinkie like a crazy party goddess. So who knows on that front!

4385735

I love seeing Pinkie getting shipped so what ever strikes your fancy I will read for sure. Granted I have my favorites (Pinkie/Dash, Twinkie, Pinkie/Mac in that order) but it is nice to see other ones too. I also would probably not have shipped Rarity with Pinkie if left on my own but that doesn't mean it cannot be interesting and fun especially in a story like this one where the characters are in a whole new universe.

YES! Action next chapter, this has been building up for quite awhile. Let. It. Begin :rainbowdetermined2:

4388158

Funny thing is I dubbed the working title for chapter 7: 'It Begins. Even Though it Already Begun.'

4389634 Haha...thats pretty neat :twilightsmile: Answers that little question nobody dares to ask...that "When does it begin?" sorta feeling.

“You were foalnapped?”

Silly billy, I prefer "surprise adoption".

Okay, so I'm reading this on my cellphone, which is not logged in to this site. (just to let you know) I'm up to chapter 5 somewhere in there.

So, from what I got so far is Celestia took off with a third of the population and set up shop somewhere in the lands beyond Equestria.

Sunset Shimmer is Celestia's pupil

Fluttershy's pet Angel is a dog instead of a bunny.

Gummy is a robot

Nightmaremoon, Celestia's (currently?) evil sister has returned.

What I expect:

1)This story to take anywhere from 30-50 chapters to complete. Why? It feels very complex with room to grow the world and characters. Thus 30-50 chapters would be needed to bring the story to a finish and provide the world + character building required.

2) That Twilight, Fluttershy, Pinkie, Rarity, Apple Jack, and Rainbowdash will meet up on the ship...eventually and unite to bla bla bla

3) Trixie will NOT be the element of magic. I don't care how strong she is.

4) Bonbon, Ditzy Doo.....ect will show up.

If not I'm going to probably continue reading this, but leave angry comments especially if you decide to ignore #3. I mean come on Trixie?! An element of Harmony?! Pushwalgol
Besides you can do better with her character then that. The main 6's duty is to wield the elements of harmony, Trixie's character shouldn't be limited to that.

4438440
Your facts seem correct. Except for Sunset Shimmer, who, as far as I know, doesn't have a fear of snakes.

1)This story to take anywhere from 30-50 chapters to complete.

No clue! Maybe. It'll be done when it's finished!

2) That Twilight, Fluttershy, Pinkie, Rarity, Apple Jack, and Rainbowdash will meet up on the ship...eventually and unite to bla bla bla

Seems unlikely, for simple geographic reasons alone. But we will be seeing at least two more in the next few chapters.

3) Trixie will NOT be the element of magic. I don't care how strong she is.

Trixie, as we can see at the moment, would indeed be pretty pathetic at uniting everyone. Which is essentially the real qualification of Magic.

4) Bonbon, Ditzy Doo.....ect will show up.

Bons will appear briefly.
No plans for Derpy at the moment.

main 6's duty is to wield the elements of harmony

Destiny ain't what it used to be. :applejackunsure:

4446523

Yeah, destiny ain't what it used to be. Still it just doesn't feel right if they don't get a chance of being united. Also imagine Rainbow Dash having to take orders from Trixie comedy gold.

I also see this as an epic, something between One Peice and the Odyssey.

I also see Bonbon running an apothecary.

4487562
There's no escaping the lavish quantities of character interaction. :raritydespair:

The next chapter starts with even more of it, with Rarity doing her crush thang.

Really glad to hear you're enjoying it though!

Still loving this story. Especially Rarity's dialogue is always a delight.

The meeting from Scootaloo's perspective was a nice touch.

Finally got caught up to date. This has been in my read later for awhile and, as with literally every story that I ever put on there, once I read it I question why I didn't a whole lot sooner. I guess I just hate starting things. It's so much commitment, all those words :raritydespair:

But no, yeah, this fic is just excellent! Every single one of the characters is masterfully captured, which I find to be a rarity with pinkie... no content-related pun intended. All the canonically characterized ponies sound entirely believable, and the bg ponies are all very quickly given a very strong and thought-out character. The setting is really interesting, but I can say that about just about anything steampunk, so I should say that the notable difference here is the whole deal with Celestia, which leaves room for a lot of possibilities and further exploration, which is wonderful. Ahhh, I just really really enjoy this fic :rainbowkiss:

You don't even have that many (and, as uncharacteristic of me as it is, I won't go and fine-comb my way through the chapters to look for them) technical errors for me to list... your proofer is very good :moustache:

4812131

your proofer is very good :moustache:

It helps to have a proofer that is both a better writer than oneself and is actually whip-crack trained in the halls of academia. :yay:

He's living proof of the fact that actually going through the horrific slog of getting an English degree is very much worth it, if one desires to be a writer.

And Dusk Watch makes for an excellent Off-tank proofer, in addition to a pre-reader. So many comma errors caught! (Soooo, so many.)

which I find to be a rarity with pinkie

Jake is definitely amazing with Pinks. (The obsession probably helps :trollestia:) That's pretty much his realm of operation, and his specialty, which you'd never guess by looking at his user page.

I'd never be able to do half of what he manages with her.

Ahhh, I just really really enjoy this fic :rainbowkiss:

Glad to hear it!

Thanks for the author-food. :heart:

BAM

MORE TAVI AND RARITY

Pinkie being back and a bunch of Scooty Shenanigans felt like big highlights. Realized I'm really starting to like Lyra about halfway through this chapter, too. The trick is to look at her like Surprise does, and she has a pretty nice fit with the crew dynamic.

I'm actually a pretty big fan of conversations between like four+ speakers, because if no one person is leading it, you get just the raw day-to-day of how these people know each other, by virtue of being in the same boat for months.

I am still utterly delighted by Trixies being really really good with kids. Keep playing her strengths, because it's awesome seeing his good she can be.

It's interesting to find out that Trixie was offered the Regent's hand in marriage. Being turned down for that for going pirate must have really ground his gears. No wonder she's the most wanted pony in Equestria.

Of course, she doesn't seem interested in stallions.

And whippings in the Navy? No wonder she has anger issues.

4985095
Trixie's (natural) magic is pink. In both Magic Duel and Boast Busters.

It's red when she uses the alicorn amulet. :twilightsmile:

Just out of curiosity (and you don't have to answer) but what made it hard to get into, at the start? Too dense? Too much exposition? Didn't move fast enough? Character issues?

4985145
Surprise is always right. And she'll pull rank if you don't agree. But she does know Trixie better than most anyone on the ship.

4985192
Yus. Leaned a bit more heavily on that era's idea of naval discipline, without Celestia to provide proper 'sunshine and rainbows' level morality. And, well... can one imagine a contrary mare like Trixie not frequently getting disciplined for things like insubordination?

Being Just-That-Damned-Good, as Equestria's premiere magical powerhouse, will only get one so far.

4985713
You know it's hard to put my finger on. I think it has to do with a combination of little description and multiple long sentences in quick succession. Some of the sentences are also awkward. Let's look at the opening paragraph:

The colt and his mother looked on as Pinkie Pie, who was behind the counter, fiddled with a clockwork contraption. A seal toy with cymbals on its flippers, which would clash together when prompted. It also doubled as a bubble blower.

What do the mother and child visiting Pinkie even look like? It's not here or in the next paragraph or the next or the next. The most I find out, eventually, is that the mother's dress is grey. "A seal toy with cymbals on its flippers, which would clash together when prompted" manages to be fairly long without being a complete sentence.
Next paragraph:

The mare adjusted the green-lensed goggles on her face, getting out a screwdriver from beneath the counter. Carefully, she held it in her hoof, and slowly turned one of the bronze gears inside the seal. After that, she lathered the inner mechanisms with oil then shut the compartment. The last step was the most important.

Every one of the first three sentences here is a long one with something-comma-something.

I don't know. There's not one big problem I can point at exactly, but a lot of little fiddly bits. It gets easier to follow when the customers leave (maybe because some things get described) and easier again when Rarity shows up but I can't tell how much of that is just gradually increasing immersion on my part.

By the time it's dialogue scenes on the ship it's excellent.

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I imagine there's a certain amount of stylistic clash. Jake and I are very, very different writers.

In the later chapters, we handed things back and forth a lot more, which was awesome. In the first two chapters I handled most of the bulk prose. Jake mostly stayed 'close' to Pinkie, until we both got more comfortable. And as we went, so too did we more and more we felt free to poke and prod and infuse a bit of our own stuff in the other's. At the start, not as much (Though I think some of the best parts in the first two chapters are when we did).

The first few paragraphs are one of the few oases of pure Jake, which is possibly why there's a sense of dissonance. Jake is a bit less of a descriptive and 'feelsy' writer, but he's far, far better than moi at pushing things forward, infusing a bit of sanity, and conveying personality.

Maybe you're just more on my side of the fence, preference-wise. I too tend to like prose you can immerse yourself and soak in for a while.

Thanks for the feedback! And I am glad to hear that it got hammered out a bit as we went, so it's useful to know it's something to continue to watch out for.

The mare, just as snowy-white as Surprise herself, was looking out along the course the ship flew with a distant, longing expression. It was like something from a romance novel.

So perfectly Rarity :raritystarry:

“No, Rarity,” she murmured to herself. “Don’t you dare fall for the intense one with the tragic backstory. Life is not a romance novel. It will not go well.”

Pssh. Live a little, Rares :rainbowdetermined2:

Scootaloo gave her a blunt look. “I’m a filly.” She was met with a blink. “Of course I know how to play poker.”

Sailor swears aren't the only thing she's learning here! Duh! :rainbowlaugh:

Scootaloo’s face was mushed into her hoof, resting on her stool. Her thoughts were all cantankerous, concentrating on the cruelly confiscating Captain who had carried their cards away.

Boooooooo Trixie! :pinkiegasp:

Scootaloo held back a laugh. Obviously the best plan was to plant a whoopie cushion on the chair. The Regent would be embarrassed and then nopony would want it.

Brilliant! Now tell Pinkie, and we got a real adventure going! :pinkiehappy:

“and I already answered the question of what clouds taste like.” Pinkie frowned with bitter disappointment. “Nothing. They taste like nothing.”

Awww. That's disappointing! Needs moar Discord.

Surprise peered inside, scrunching up her muzzle. “I don’t get how you can stand spaces that small. I’d have a fit. The hallways are bad enough. Pegasi aren’t meant to be cooped up like chickens.”

I see what you did there :trixieshiftright:

Remarks and corrections:
> It walked to to the edge of the ship
double 'to'
> “Still, nice to be get some fresh air at last.”
The "be" shouldn't be there.
> “Another meeting?” Pinkie grumbled
I think you need a section separator before that...
> Scotaloo hopped off Surprise’s back and landed on her bed
misspelled "Scootaloo".

I'm still following this closely...I hope it doesn't go On Hiatus or get cancelled like some other great stories :pinkiesad2:

Interesting plot and original mix of characters. Great stuff. I certainly hope you continue this story.

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Now look what you've done! :raritydespair:

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Both writers are still around FimFiction. Maybe they just need a 49 week break...I mean, it's not like it's...actually, I better not say :rainbowlaugh: :twilightsheepish:

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Continuance would seem unlikely. :facehoof:

I don't really write anymore. I used to have a job with long, quiet hours. Ever since I got a promotion, I don't really have that sort of time and peace any longer.

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Well, I get you have to prioritise, but if you ever find the time to update this, please do. I'll be still waiting...
[Don't you dare change it to Cancelled XD Please...]

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Honestly, Unbound Skies is probably the least likely of my stories to update. :applejackunsure: Since it relies both on me getting back into the zone, and to do so when Jakey is around and likewise zoned in.

But then again, who knows what the future holds, I guess. This story (Or rather, Jakey poking me to write it with him) are what got me back into writing after all the medical woes and trauma and lamentation. I guess it's possible it could do it again.

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You have my support either way :twilightsmile:
Though in honestly I think I'm sorta biased, definitely happier in one of the ways we both can guess :rainbowlaugh:

And that's your other opus read.:pinkiehappy:

As with Crucible, even if this never goes any farther, it's an intriguing AU and a fascinating mix of characters. My only regret is never seeing if Trixie and Berry make up, and for all I can tell their usual relationship may not have been that much less tense anyway.

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