• Published 28th Dec 2014
  • 709 Views, 35 Comments

Unexpected Turbulence, Remain Calm and Don't Murder Anypony - HapHazred

Octavia and Vinyl find themselves travelling by airship to Trottingham, only to discover that the engineer has been murdered on board. With Vinyl the prime suspect, it's up to them to find the real killer before he strikes again.

  • ...

Chapter One: The Airship Takes Off

Octavia was on the precipice of boredom when it was finally time to leave. Whilst she wouldn't have traded being early with anything, waiting around an airship harbour wasn't exactly riveting. The shops selling drinks and perfume were only entertaining for so long, and the restaurants weren't exiting either. She had found herself so bored, in fact, that even reading her book, a wonderful little light-hearted romance novel, felt like a chore.

Her flanks ached from having sat down for so long. She slung her over sized cello case over her back, accustomed to the weight, and trotted to her gate.

“I can’t wait to arrive in Trottingham…” she muttered to herself. “I think I’ll get a long, relaxing bath…”

The music festival was an honour to be invited to. Trottingham, and in fact the whole of Braytain was a cultural hub for art and music. Octavia was truly glad to be on her way there, it was just she wished it wasn't so far away.

“Everypony here heading to Trottingham?” called a tall, stern looking stallion in a blue uniform. Obviously he was in charge of scheduling the flights. He was standing next to a brilliantly polished brass rail that separated him from a long fall to the air strip.

And behind him was the airship itself. A huge craft indeed, but still small compared to some of the others that Octavia could see. It’s bloated frame took up most of the horizon, and the tiny compartment underneath looked like it had been added there simply as an afterthought.

“Will you look at that shape, brother?” Octavia heard one of the other passengers say.



“Of course not. It’s obviously metallic!”

Octavia decided to ignore their chatter, and instead focused on finding her papers. It didn't take long: they were stored neatly in the folds of her mane, like they always were.

She almost dropped them when some other pony jostled her. She spun around, ready to provide stern words to the clumsy pony.

Her jaw dropped when she saw who had bumped into her.

“Vinyl? What on earth are you doing here?”

The pristine white unicorn was easily recognizable due to her massive, uncontrollable blue mane and trademark glasses. When the DJ realized who it was she had bumped into, she gasped as well.

“Oh, jeez! What, are you… you’re going to the festival too?”

Octavia hadn't expected to find her friend, and room-mate, on the same flight as her. Both ponies had declared that they were going on last minute trips, but it occurred to Octavia that she hadn't mentioned where she was going, and what for.

“Well, yes. I got an invite.”

Vinyl ran a hoof through her mane, amazed. “Some coincidence, huh? And to think we could have just travelled together.”

Octavia stopped, puzzled. “Hang on a second… you took a different train than me. You said yours left an hour and a half later.”

Vinyl nodded. “Yeah, that’s right. The flight is at four thirty, so…”

Octavia groaned. “You’re supposed to get there two hours early! In case something goes wrong!”

“No way. I'm not sitting around here for hours on end. This place sucks. It’s so boring.”

Octavia had to concede that point, at least. “Well, it’s no good arguing about it now… and frankly, I'm glad you’re here. It will give me somepony to talk to.”

Vinyl nodded. “Yeah, that sounds great. You seen that crowd over there? I've got no clue how so many weird ponies all got on the same flight.”

“I don’t tend to spy on other ponies, Vinyl,” Octavia replied.

“Pfft. What’re they going to do about it? It’s a public place, I can look at whoever I want. Anyway, it’s not spying. It’s like a game.”

Octavia raised her eyebrow. The queue she was in began to move forwards, slowly, as each of the passengers got on board.

“How is spying on ponies like a game?” she asked.

“Well, take a look at that guy,” Vinyl said. “Older guy, well dressed… he’s obviously a banker on business.”

Octavia snorted. “Can you tell that from the stethoscope in his hand luggage?”

Vinyl frowned. “Stethoscope?”

“Yes. There’s a stethoscope hanging out of his bag. I’d think that’s a very strange item for a banker to have.”

Octavia pointed out the pony in question, and gestured towards the bag slung over his shoulder.

Vinyl grumbled. “Well, okay, maybe I was wrong about him. Let’s have a look at this one over here… yeah, yeah, she’s an easy one.”

The DJ pointed at a mare, in excellent shape, with a long dark mane. Octavia couldn't help but feel a little jealous: she always found her own mane to be a bit dull.

“She’s a fitness instructor.”

Octavia hesitated. Sure, the mare looked fit, but a fitness instructor? It felt like a bit of a leap.

“Maybe we’ll find out on our trip. It’ll take all night, so we’ll have plenty of time to find out.”

Finally, it was their turn to present their papers. Octavia handed hers quickly and efficiently. It took Vinyl a little longer, searching the contents of her bag in a panic. She looked quite relieved when she found them.

“Thank you, ladies. Please step aboard,” the official grumbled, annoyed at having been made to wait.

“One day, Vinyl… I’ll teach you about organization,” Octavia said, shaking her head in exasperation.

The interior of the airship was very spacious and luxurious. Whilst Vinyl was cackling excitedly and exploring, Octavia suppressed a shiver. The metal floor and walls made the whole place rather chilly, and she found the open windows caused far too much of a drought.

“Are your teeth chattering? Seriously?” Vinyl asked, amazed. Octavia shot her a glare.

“I'm far more used to a warmer environment. Canterlot is the city of the sun, after all,” she replied. “Thank heavens I have a scarf in my suitcase…”

“Oh, suck it up,” Vinyl retorted playfully. “It’s not that bad…”

“It’s winter, for Celestia’s sake!”

“And a very cloudy winter indeed… yes, very cloudy.”

Both Octavia and Vinyl turned towards the pony who had spoken: a rather dreary looking Pegasus, staring outside with half closed eyes. His mane, which looked like it hadn't been tended to in days, made him look halfway like a homeless pony, and halfway like a rugged, even handsome adventurer. He didn't bother glancing back at the two mares, and instead kept staring into space.

“Indeed,” Octavia replied, a little cautious of this newcomer. “And you are?”

“They call me Sly. I’m a weather pony. It’s my job to look at clouds… hmm. No, this will not do, won’t clear up for hours.”

Vinyl tugged at Octavia’s mane.

“Come on, let’s leave the creepy pony to stare at clouds, huh?” she whispered. Octavia agreed, although she was still curious about the weather pony’s strange mannerisms. She'd never admit it to Vinyl, but she found she rather enjoyed their little deduction game.

“We’d better get our luggage to our cabins,” Octavia said. “We’re bound to take off soon.”

“Sure thing. I'm in cabin 9.”

“I'm in number 3. Tell you what, how about we reconvene at the on board restaurant? Have something to drink whilst we travel.”

Vinyl nodded. “Yeah, sounds great. I’d just kill for a cider.”

Octavia trotted towards her cabin, located on the port side of the airship. She was still having a hard time keeping warm, and she couldn't wait for the ship to take off, when the engines and heating would begin to warm up.

“The airship is experiencing mild technical difficulties. We apologize for the wait, and will begin our journey momentarily.”

Octavia huffed impatiently. Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted a pony wearing dark blue overalls, trotting towards her. A technician or engineer, perhaps?

“Excuse me… can you tell me when we’ll be leaving?” she asked. The engineer continued straight past her, deep in thought. “Excuse me!”

Suddenly, the engineer snapped around, startled. “Sweet spigots, girl! Don’t panic a stallion like that! What is it?”

“I was wondering when we’ll be taking off.”

The engineer shrugged. “Soon, soon, don't get your gears in a twist. I have things to do.”

Then he trotted off, still as preoccupied as before. Octavia harrumphed.

“How impolite.”

“He was rather, wasn't he?” came another stallion’s voice. Octavia recognized him from when they were boarding: he was the doctor Vinyl had mistaken for a banker.

“I suppose he’s very busy. I'm Octavia, how do you do?”

The older pony smiled kindly. “Doc’ Schwartz. Nice to meet you.”

“Likewise. I don’t suppose you know what’s going on?”

“The wait is rather puzzling, isn't it?” he said, tapping his chin. “Maybe those crackpot brothers might know, but I sure as hay don’t.”

Octavia raised her eyebrow. “Crackpot brothers?”

“Yeah, you must have heard them as you came on board. Lousy pair. Some kind of big-shot inventors. Crazy as crackers, let me tell you.”

Octavia remembered the pair vaguely, but couldn't recall their faces. She shrugged. “I'm sure they’ll be harmless.”

“Hrmph,” Doctor Schwartz replied. “I suppose. Still, they should have their heads examined, if you want my opinion.”

Octavia found that the stallion’s manner was a little too gruff for her. She gestured towards her cello case and luggage. “I’m off to unpack. Nice meeting you.”

“Nice meeting you too, young lady,” the doctor replied. “Sorry I couldn't help you more.”

The doctor then turned and faced the window, examining the countryside beyond. Suddenly, the whole airship lurched. Octavia steadied herself just in time.

“It looks like that delay is over with,” the doctor commented. Octavia smiled.

“Then maybe it’ll warm up in here.”

Octavia fumbled for her keys, and then entered her cabin: it wasn't large, but it was spacious enough. It looked both comfortable and elegant. A brass chandelier hung from the ceiling, hovering just above her head. It swung gently as gravity shifted below her.

“Just perfect,” she said, admiring the organization of the room.

Remembering to rendezvous with Vinyl at the restaurant, she placed her suitcase on the bed and her cello-case near her bedside cabinet, making sure that it wouldn't fall over in flight. Her instrument was very precious to her.

It occurred to her that she wanted to get a good view as they gained altitude, and there were no windows in the cabins. It would be a magnificent sight, she reckoned. Grabbing a scarf, she trotted outside, and rushed past the doctor, still admiring the sights. There had to be a better view that the small window he was looking through, Octavia thought. She’d just have to find it once she met up with Vinyl.

As she trotted through the corridors, her hooves clattering against the wooden floor, she suddenly realized how much her stomach churned when flying. Now she had two reasons to find a balcony or a window…

She trotted into the restaurant, located at the end of the corridor. Most of the other passengers were already beginning to enjoy a drink. The barpony looked quite busy. Vinyl was still nowhere to be found.

“Rats. Where could she have gotten to?” Octavia muttered to herself. “Probably adjusting that ridiculous mane of hers…”

As the ship continued the rise, Octavia became impatient. Eventually, Vinyl exploded into the restaurant.

“Hey, ‘Tavi! Sorry, I got distracted by the view,” she said. Octavia rolled her eyes.

“Well come on, then! We can get a much better one from the balcony.”

Vinyl grinned. “You got it. I hardly ever fly: this is so exiting.”

Octavia lurched to the side, her stomach heaving. “You seem accustomed enough to it.”

“I guess. Not sure what there is to get used to, to be honest.”

Octavia jealously pouted as she and her friend stepped outside. It was early afternoon, and clouds covered the sky like a blanket. It wasn't the clouds that interested her, however: it was the ground. The airship continued its ascent, and the tiny buildings and trees looked like ants from this altitude. Despite being grey due to the weather, it was still remarkable.

If only she didn't feel quite so sick.

“Wow, this is cool,” Vinyl commented, and turned to her friend. “Uh, you okay there?”

“I’m sure it’s nothing serious. Just a little… airsick.”

Vinyl chuckled at Octavia’s misery. The grumpy earth pony shot her an angry glare.

“It’s not funny.”

“It is a little.”

“In what universe is somepony’s misfortune funny?” Octavia asked.

“The sort of universe where it reminds me of that time you had too many bloody mareys at the New Year.”

Octavia grumbled. “We agreed to never speak of that again.”

Vinyl was about to reply, but she was interrupted by a voice over the speakers. It had to be the pilot.

“Good afternoon. This is your captain speaking. My name is Gasbag, and I'm in charge of this flight. We apologize for the delay, we were suffering from some minor engineering issues in maintenance. We hope you enjoy your flight. We serve drinks and food in the restaurant and it will be open all night. We will arrive at our destination in approximately twenty two hours.”

Octavia groaned. “I hope this sickness clears up soon… I'm not sure I can take a whole day of this.”

Vinyl shook her head. “First you’re too cold, now you’re sick? Seriously, you are just one big mess of problems,” she said, before patting her friend on the back. “C’mon, let’s get you some water or something. It’ll do you good.”

The pair were now sitting down at their table. Octavia was gently sipping at a glass of water. She was slowly beginning to feel a bit better.

"You know, this airship makes the craziest noises," Vinyl said. "Humming, drumming, and even this weird screeching sound from time to time. It's crazy. You don't see machines like this in Canterlot."

"Well, just wait!" exclaimed a skinny looking unicorn at the table just next to them. "One day, flying machines will be all the rage!"

Octavia was not in the mood for talking to more crazy ponies. First that cloud obsessed Sly, then the rude engineer... she was feeling far to sick to deal with any more of their eccentric behaviour.

"What makes you say that?" Vinyl asked before Octavia could stop her.

"Well, we're inventors, you see..."

"The name is Flim. This here is Flam."

"And we're—"

"...crazy..." Octavia muttered, taking another sip of water.

"...the greatest engineers in the world!"

Both unicorns beamed. Vinyl hesitated.

"...are you sure?" she asked. Flim (or was it Flam?) nodded enthusiastically.

"Why yes! Only the finest of tinkerers could design and manufacture a flying device using the brand new, high performance... Flim core!"

"Flam core," his brother corrected. "You did the structural design, but the Flam core is my own invention."

"Nonsense! I think I'd remember that!"

"A flying machine? How does it work?" asked Sly, who turned away from his window. "Can it navigate clouds?"

Flim and Flam both nodded. "It can fly through anything."

"Clouds aren't like normal sky. It's too cloudly. Too cloudy. Makes metal rust."

Octavia and Vinyl both turned back towards their respective drinks.

"Do you think that there's anypony normal on this blimp?" Vinyl asked. Octavia looked around.

"Maybe the... uh..." Octavia began, gesturing towards a rather fat pony with a thick black moustache. "...generously built pony over there?"

"Ooh la la! Mais qu'est ce que ce vol me rend malade! Oh, mais je jure!" he exclaimed. Octavia's face fell.

"Oh, never mind. He's from Prance."

Vinyl chuckled. "So we have two crackpot brothers, a crazy weather pony, and monsieur Lala over there. Quite a cast. And who says we can't meet interesting people?"

"Well, I for one can't wait to get to Trottingham," Octavia said. "I think my stomach is finally calming down."

"Enough to order food?" Vinyl asked.

"Perhaps," Octavia replied.

She glanced at the menu, drowning out the noise surrounding her. They did have a rather large selection of food, she noticed. She wondered if she'd perhaps take the seaweed salad?

There was a loud noise behind her, like a door being slammed open, but she didn't pay attention: all she noticed was the fit mare from earlier storming in looking confused. It was when Vinyl tapped her hoof that she finally looked up.

"What, what?"

Vinyl looked at her, her face even paler than usual. "Something's wrong. One of the passengers has found a body."

Octavia got to her hooves, cursing her lack of attention. Her stomach lurched. She shouldn't have stood quite so quickly.


She looked over at the source of commotion. The fit looking mare who Vinyl had guessed was a fitness instructor was panicking.

"There's blood everywhere! Quick, is anypony a doctor?" she cried. Doctor Schwartz got to his hooves.

"I'm a doctor. Take me to him."

"He's in room ten! Hurry!"

Octavia's curiosity was piqued. "An accident?"

"Probably," Vinyl replied. "Who'd want to hurt anypony?"

Octavia had no idea. The idea of foul play seemed ludicrous. Still, Octavia couldn't help but be worried. "I don't know, but what if somepony really did try to kill somepony? We should check it out."

Vinyl hesitated. "I'm not really sure we should get involved... isn't this the captain's business?"

The barpony finally spoke up. "Now, now! Everypony remain calm. I'm sure that there's nothing to be worried about."

Octavia couldn't help herself. Her curiosity was piqued. Vinyl saw her face, and sighed.

"You want to go see, don't you?"

"I have to know. Every time I fight my curiosity it just gets worse."

Vinyl groaned. "Okay, well, I'm coming too. Just try not to cause a commotion."

The barpony shook his head, distraught at the chaos. "Everypony remain calm. I'll go alert the captain."

Octavia grabbed Vinyl by the hoof and trotted out towards room ten. Already a few ponies had gathered there: the doctor, Schwartz, the 'fitness instructor', and the pony from Prance. Octavia peered over the doctor's shoulder. She regretted the decision instantly.

She recognized the engineer who had bustled past her earlier, and somehow that made it worse. One thing was for sure, though: this was no accident. Octavia was almost frightened by the speed she had been drawn to the injury on the back of his head. She backed away.

Vinyl nudged her, drawing her out of her stupor.

"Are you okay?" she asked. Octavia swallowed.

"I'm feeling a bit airsick again, actually," she lied.

Vinyl tipped her glasses down, eyeing Octavia carefully. "I'd sit down if I were you."

Doctor Schwartz shook his head, disappointed. "Yup, he's gone. For at least two hours... must have happened just after we took off."

"But we were all in the restaurant when we took off, weren't we?" the fitness instructor asked. Vinyl bit her lip.

"Actually, I was with Doctor Schwartz on the port side," Octavia said. Schwartz turned towards Vinyl.

"You, on the other hoof..."

Octavia's jaw dropped. "I'm sorry, are you suspecting Vinyl of murder? She doesn't even know this pony."

Schwartz sighed. "Listen, I'm no detective, I'm just pointing out that we saw her arrive in the restaurant only after we were well in the air."

Octavia snorted. "That's ridiculous. Any number of us could have made our way from the restaurant unseen. After all, how many of us were paying attention?"

"Yeah!" Vinyl exclaimed.

All four ponies went silent as they reflected on what happened. Eventually, the barpony arrived, shaking his head, as if to clear his thoughts. He coughed twice before speaking up.

"Okay, mares and gentlecolts. Unfortunately due to traffic back at Canterlot, we have been instructed to continue to Trottingham. I'm in charge of keeping everypony calm."

Schwartz nodded. "Good to see somepony take charge. Although I'd feel better if we knew who the killer was."

"At this point, I think it would be best to remain in pairs, and if possible remain in the restaurant," he said. The fitness mare raised her eyebrow.

"How will that help catch the killer?"

"Well... it won't, but it will keep everypony safe."

"Not much of a guarantee!"

"Listen," the barpony continued, "Our number one priority is making sure we make it to Trottingham safe and sound."

"Shouldn't we lock up any suspects?" she asked persistently. "Like this unicorn, for example!" she added, gesturing at Vinyl. The DJ backed away, horrified.

"This again? I told you, it wasn't..."

"Well, actually, your room is next to room number ten," the barpony pointed out. It's a bit of a coincidence."

Octavia decided to speak up. She wasn't about to let her friend take the blame for something she didn't do.

"Well, who's room is number ten?"

"Nopony's," the bartender explained, "It's an empty cabin."

"Well, how could Vinyl know that it was empty?" Octavia asked. The barpony shrugged.

"Well, I'm not sure, but it wouldn't be too difficult to figure out. It's the only one that's unlocked during flight, since nopony claimed it. And besides, can you guarantee that she hasn't been the slightest bit suspicious on this flight?"

Octavia hesitated. It did seem strange that Vinyl would omit to tell her what flight she had been on before they met up... it was an awfully suspicious coincidence. Against her better judgement, Octavia pursued that line of thought to a rather unsettling conclusion: Vinyl could have been covering her tracks, and hiding her involvement from her. Could she had selected the flight, and then attempted to do away with the engineer whilst trying to hide where she was from her friends in case she was interrogated later?

"I... can't guarantee that," Octavia admitted. "But you're all missing a vital piece of evidence: I know Vinyl, and she'd never kill anypony. Unless it was with sheer volume, of course."

Vinyl smiled wanly. "Thanks, 'Tavi, but I think their minds are made up."

The barpony sighed. "Listen, I just can't take any chances. I'm going to lock you up in storage: I'll make sure you have plenty of food and drink. There's just too many coincidences surrounding you."

Octavia shook her head, unimpressed. "You're just afraid! I'm telling you—"

Vinyl put her hoof on Octavia's shoulder reassuringly. "Look, I'll be fine. I'm more worried about you right now."

Octavia harrumphed. "My airsickness isn't that bad."

"I meant that there's a killer on this ship, and it's not me."

Octavia paled. "I hadn't thought of that."

"Yeah, well maybe you should think about yourself for once. Everypony on this ship could be in danger for all we know."

Octavia narrowed her eyes. "I find that highly unlikely. Either somepony had a specific grudge against the engineer... ahem, what was his name?"

"Cogs," supplied the barpony. "I'm Stronghoof."

"Very well. Either somepony had a grudge against him, or this was a spur of the moment decision. In either case, it seems infeasible that all of us will become targets by this mystery killer."

Vinyl grinned. "Well, I think you'd better get to trying to figure out who the killer really is."

Octavia shook her head, shocked. Vinyl couldn't possibly expect her to locate a murderer?

"That's insane, Vinyl."

"Yeah, maybe, but who else is going to keep us safe?" Vinyl asked. "We're sitting ducks unless we figure this out, and you're the smartest pony I know."

Stronghoof nodded. "Well, if you want to help the investigation, that couldn't hurt, could it? I mean... I'm still going to lock Vinyl up, but realistically, we need to cover our bases. Captain Gasbag can't interfere: he has to fly the ship."

"That's fair," Octavia said. "Well, let's start by rounding up the passengers. The restaurant should be adequate, I imagine."

"What for?" asked Stronghoof. Schwartz and the other pony looked intrigued.

"I'd like to ask them why they're on this ship."

Vinyl turned to the barpony. "If it's not too much trouble, could I ask you for a diagram of the ship?"

Stronghoof shook his head. "No, I don't want to take that risk. You're still the most likely suspect."

Octavia sighed. "I suppose it is a bit too much to ask... what did you want it for?"

"To see where the killer could have come from. You know, routes and that sort of thing," Vinyl said. "I'm not a total doofus myself, you know."

Octavia nodded apprehensively. It was a good idea, and it could impact her investigation significantly. But of course, she couldn't get a diagram for Vinyl with everypony afraid of her... she'd just have to do it herself.

"All right. Stronghoof, could you ask the captain to get everypony to remain in the restaurant area? It's vital we keep an eye on everypony."

"Of course, of course, but first I have to escort your friend to storage where we can contain her."

Octavia nodded. "Of course," she said. To Vinyl, she added, "I'll sort this out. I promise."

Vinyl chuckled nervously. "I'll hold you to that."