• Published 23rd Feb 2015
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Daughters of the Sea - Mister E

Summergale. Former Captain of the Maiden’s Fancy. Former Queen of Equestria. Mother of Harmony and Discord. Saved from certain death by Twilight Sparkle and her husband, the Doctor, she must now make a new life for herself in modern day Equestria.

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Chapter Seven- Getting the Crew Shipshape

Chapter Seven
Getting the Crew Shipshape

“Twilight you seem quite surprised, to see me here before your eyes.” Zecora says as she enters the room.

“Oh, I’m sorry Zecora, I was actually expecting somepony else. Actually, I’m really glad it’s you.” Twilight says in relief.

“When Summergale told me of her quest, I happily wanted to join the rest, I wish to see what may be found, of the original zebra’s ancestral ground.” Zecora said by way of explanation.

“Aye, and a welcome member of the crew you are.” Summergale says with a smile. “Now that we have all come to an agreement, I’d like ye ta take the next few days ta make any arrangements ya need ta be makin, an meet me back here Monday morning, right at dawn. Then me son can take us all to my ship and we can begin getting everypony acquainted with what they’ll need ta be doin. Does that sound alright with everypony?” Everyone nods in agreement, and after saying their goodbyes, they all make their way to their respective homes.

The time seemed to fly by as each pony made arrangements to be gone for an extended period of time. Discord agreed to help Twilight in case any emergencies came up, while he took over the duties of taking care of all of his wife’s animals. Coco Pommel agreed to watch Rarity’s boutique for her while she was away, and Cheese Sandwich had taken the next train back to Ponyville to manage Pinkie’s duties while she would be gone. Rainbow reluctantly allowed Derpy to assume her duties with the weather bureau, while Apple Bloom reluctantly took over Applejack’s share of the chores. Fortunately for her, Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle volunteered to help her out as well.

Finally the time had come as everypony met up at Twilight’s castle. Discord and Summergale were their to greet them and he wasted no time at all in teleporting them all to Summergale’s ship.

“So this here’s what were gonna be sailin on?” Applejack says, trotting up the gangplank. “I gotta admit, it’s the biggest boat I ever saw.”

“Ship Applejack, not a boat, an believe me after a few months it’ll seem all too small.” Summergale replies.

Spike begins to make his way slowly up the gangplank behind Applejack. His young dragon arms straining under the load of all their luggage.

“C’mon slowpoke,” Rainbow taunts, “Let’s get the show on the road. I’m ready to find that treasure!”

The ponies all stop and stare as Summergale doubles over with laughter.

“Hey, what’s so funny?” Rainbow asks. “Something on my flank?”

“Y-you really think we are about to put out to sea? Today? BWAHAHAAA” Summergale says, trailing off red facedly into a new gale of laughter.

“Well, aren’t we?” Fluttershy asks, trying to head off any hard feelings Rainbow would have from being laughed at.

“Oh goddess no!” Summergale says, regaining her composure. “None of ye know the first thing about sailing a ship. It’d be suicidally insane for us to just up and weigh anchor without ye knowing port from starboard.”

“I’m sorry darling, I suppose we all just assumed that you would teach us as we go.” Rarity says.

“Oh no, we’ll be having none of that.” Summergale says flatly. “For the next few weeks no pony will leave the ship, and the ship wont leave the dock, until I am satisfied that each of ye can handle yer assigned duties. Then, for the first few weeks out at sea, we’ll cross train ye until each of ye is passable at doing any other job on my ship. This is in case any of ye got sick, or hurt. After all, it’s a great big ocean, an anything can happen out there. I won’t risk taking her out into it until I am sure me crew is able to take good care of her.” Summergale says rubbing a hoof gently across the railing.

“You treat your ship as a cherished pet, with which you’ll loose on a sea not tame, but no pony has yet to let me know, just what is this vessel’s name.” Zecora says, as she sets her baggage down on the deck.

“Ah Zecora, you’ve touched on a bit of a sore spot there. I must confess I’ve run a dozen names though me mind, but have yet ta settle upon one that sits well with me.” Summergale says, pacing the deck. “It needs ta be something grand, but not tacky. Something ponies can look up to, and be proud of, an yet not come off as pompous. Ah well, we’ll come up with something before we start our journey. Plenty o’ time left before then. Now I want ye all ta get settled into your bunks an stow yer gear, then come back an meet me on the deck for crew assignments.”

“Aye aye captain!” Pinkie Pie says with a salute, before heading down below decks.

After a moment the rest of the ponies pick up their luggage and move to join her. Last is Fluttershy, struggling to manage several cases, and one oblong zippered bag.

“Let me give ye a hoof there Flutters”, Summergale says reaching down and attempting to lift the final bag off of the deck. “By the sky stallion, what have ye got in there lass? I can’t even lift it off the deck!”

By now Fluttershy has gotten the rest of her luggage balanced on her back, and moves to grasp the bag handles in her mouth.

“Oh, nothing much, just some things from home,” She says, as she effortlessly lifts the bag, and trots off after the others.

Summergale rubs her head in confusion for a moment, and is about to comment when Twilight and Discord approach her.

“We are about to head back to Ponyville, but before I go I wanted to give you something for your trip.” Twilight says. She levitates a long narrow package wrapped in paper and twine up before Summergale.

“Aw Twilight, now ye know it wasn’t necessary ta be doing all that.” She says as her hooves busily open the package before her. “Oh Sweet Zacherle! I-is this... can it be?”

“Oh it is,” Twilight replies, grinning hugely. “It took us a little while to find it, but it’s yours alright.”

“Me cutlass!” Summergale says, swinging it in the air before her. “It really is me cutlass! But how? Last I saw of this was right before the island exploded. It would have rusted away in the sea by now.”

“Oh well, Discord thought you’d like to have it for your trip, and he said that you wouldn’t settle for just a duplicate, so we used his viewer to find it on the day the island exploded. We followed it’s trajectory, and right before it hit the water, Paradox popped back and snatched it up.”

“But I thought we weren’t able to time travel to the past? You said ye tried before, and wasn’t able to.” Summergale says looking up at her son.

“Oh I can’t. And I imagine none of the rest of us could either. Discord replies. “But you have to remember, Paradox is special. Half time lord, and half alicorn. Her time magic seems to be able to break all the rules of both science and sorcery. As for the time stream, I checked with the Doctor before we tried this little stunt. He said that it already was supposed to have happened when we decide to finally do it.”

“Son, was that last sentence supposed ta make sense? I’m only askin since you are the lord o’ chaos an all.” Summergale says raising a hoof to forestall an angry protest.

Instead Discord merely chuckles to himself. “Believe me, most conversations I have with Twilight’s husband end up sounding like that. Half the time even I end up walking away with a headache. To use a term I haven’t in a long time, it was ‘totally pony’, that we went and got it.

“Ach, kids an their slang. But seriously, I can’t thank you enough for this,” She says raising the sword high.

“Oh no problem! It gave me a chance to try out several spells.” Twilight says excitedly.

“Spells?” Summergale says, a frown beginning to form. “What spells are ye referring to exactly?”

“Well, I used a preservation spell to keep your sword sharp and rust free, no matter what happens to it. And I used one to make it unbreakable, because I knew how important to you it was. Oh, and the last one was so you could never lose it again. As soon as you took possession of it, it imprinted on you. If you ever lose it for an reason you can summon it to hoof by just thinking about it.” Twilight says smiling proudly.

Summergale is silent for a moment. “An that’s it? That’s all you did?” She asks finally.

“Yes, that’s all. Why? Did you want something else added?” I mean I can teleport back for my spell books-” Twilight begins.

“Nay lass, you got it wrong. I was about ta get upset, thinking you enchanted me sword ta make me some kind of unbeatable fighter, or have it throw lightning or fireballs or some such. I’d have lost me temper, on account o’ that would be a cheat. Same as we talked about yesterday. But keepin her sharp, an keeping her from breaking? No problem with that, I treasure this as more than just a weapon. As for the last, well that might give me a slight edge in certain combat situations, but ta be honest I’ve yet ta see the being, pony or otherwise, that could disarm me in combat, so I don’t see it as fudgin the rules too much.”

“Well, I’m relieved to hear that,” Twilight says, some of the wind taken out of her sails. “I honestly hadn’t considered the possibility that you would be upset by my little contributions. I’m glad you aren’t.” She says looking somewhat contrite.

Summergale plants her cutlass point first into the deck, and crushes Twilight to her chest in a tight hug. “Oh lass, ignore a crusty old captain an her ways. What ye done for me is one of the kindest, most thoughtful things any pony has done in a long time.” She reaches out a hoof and snags her son by the neck, drawing him into the same crushing hug with Twilight. “An that goes for you too son. I know it’s not fair ta ask ye ta stay behind again. But I promise, after we get back, I’m taking the whole family on a cruise. We’ll find some nice tropical island an make a vacation of it! On that ye have me word. Cross me heart an hope ta fly, stick a cupcake in me eye! As you kids say it nowadays.”

“Oh now you’ve done it mom,” Discord says as they finally are let up for air. “You just made a Pinkie promise. And no pony breaks a Pinkie promise. If you do, you have to deal with her.” Discord says pointing a claw over his shoulder toward Pinkie Pie, who is currently busy examining the largest of ships few cannons with a critical eye.

Pinkie raises a hoof to shield her eyes as she looks far out into the bay. There, barely visible, a piece of driftwood, half the size of a pony, can barely be seen bobbing up and down on the waves. Without pause Pinkie primes the fuse on the cannon, sparks it with a tinder box, and just before the fuse ignites the powder, she gives it a slight kick with her forehoof, changing the trajectory slightly. Summergale, Discord, and Twilight watch in awe as the sudden thunder of the cannon expels a fast receding ball of iron out into the distance, which unerring destroys the piece of driftwood a moment later.

Pinkie Pie strokes the barrel of the huge cannon affectionately. “I shall call you Mons Maud.” She says with a smile.

“I-I see.” Summergale says, shaking her head in wonder. “Well, no sense asking which of your friends is our cannoneer.” She adds absently.

A short while later after Twilight and Discord said their final goodbyes, Summergale’s new crew stood on deck, waiting for the captain to emerge from her cabin. In a matter of moments, she did.

Captain Summergale once again strode the deck of a ship. Her ship. And her garb was once again that of a proud captain. Her captain’s hat sat atop her curly red locks as if it had never left. She wore a ruffled white blouse, and dark breeches with knee high boots on her rear hooves. About her waist was a wide leather belt holding her scabbarded sword off to one side, (her sword’s frog keeping it even with her body while she was on all fours,) and a belt pouch on the other side, holding her sextant.

She trotted up to the assembled ponies, and began to speak.

“I can’t begin ta tell ye how happy I am that you all are willing to take time from your lives to help an old sailor with her lifelong dream. I’ll tell ye right up front, this voyage isn’t going to be easy on you, you’ve never sailed the wild seas. And the world has changed since the last time I’ve set sail, there’s no tellin what may be in store for us. But from what I’ve heard, the six of you are some of the bravest, most courageous ponies alive today, and what we begin here today will inspire ponies for ages to come.

I’m confident that if we all pull together that we will succeed in our quest, and return home with the greatest horde of treasure in pony history. Now, are ye ready mates?” Summergale asks.

“Aye,aye captain.” Five ponies, a zebra, and a dragon chorus together.

“I can’t here you!” Summergale taunts.

“AYE, AYE CAPTAIN!” They all shout once again.

“Oooooh, who lives in a pineapple under the sea?” Pinkie begins to sing, while playing her accordion.

The rest of them all look at her oddly.

“Oh, sorry. For some reason I felt a song coming on.” She says sheepishly.

“Plenty o’ time for that later cannoneer Pinks.” Summergale says patting her on the shoulder with a hoof. “Now as for the rest of ye. Ta start with, as most of ye already know, Fluttershy will be me first mate. I want ye all ta treat anything she tells ye to do as if it came from me own muzzle. I’ll be training her ta run this ship just as good as I can, an I want ye all ta treat her with respect. Aside from meself, as long as you are on this ship, SHE is the pony in charge.”

Fluttershy looks at all of her friends and gives them a small bashful smile. “I’ll do my best not to let it go to my head,” she says in a near whisper, her cheeks turning red from all the attention.

“Pinkie Pie,” Summergale continues, “will be our ships cannoneer.” At this Pinkie stands upright and gives Summergale a smart salute. “As she has already demonstrated her mastery of the ships cannon, she will be instructing the rest of you in it’s proper use and maintenance, just as soon as you finish your duties each day. These lessons will continue until Pinkie is satisfied that any of you can pony the guns in an emergency.”

“But why do we need to learn how to fire a cannon?” Rainbow complains. “It’s not like we’re at war with anypony.”

“OS Dash, I am shocked.” Pinkie says pacing back and forth in front of Rainbow Dash. “Absolutely shocked. What we face OS Dash is the unknown.” She says in a stern commanding tone. “Anything could be out there. Monsters, pirates, zombies... Zombie pirate monsters... anything!” She says, gesturing wildly with her hooves.

(Unseen by the others, Fluttershy begins to cringe).

“And all that may stand in the way of us and a watery doom one day is you, being able to fire... that... cannon. Now it’s MY job to make sure you can do that, and as sure as cupcakes need extra sprinkles, (but not the green ones... never the green ones, they look like little caterpillars.) that is the job I’m going to do. Ya get me OS Dash?” Pinkie says jabbing a hoof in her chest.

“Sir yes ma’am! No green sprinkles! Ma’am!” Rainbow says confusedly.

Pinkie steps back to her place in line, but not before raising a hoof to her eyes, and quickly pointing it back and forth between her eyes and Rainbow Dash’s. (Rainbow for her part is making a mental note to ask the captain later just what the heck an OS is.)

“Well said Cannoneer Pinks,” Summergale says. “Alright then, next pony’s assignment will be Rainbow Dash.”

Rainbow trots forward, ignoring Pinkies hoof movements as best she can. “Aye, aye captain.”

“Dash, you’ll be our ships lookout. You’ll be stationed in the crows nest for your main shift. And will alternate between keeping watch, and flying scouting missions. Also, you may be called upon to help with the weather as needed. I’ve been told that you are known as the fastest flyer in Equestria. As such, in your off hours, I want ye to get some practice with the ‘Ponies Perch’.” Summergale says, as she points to a small platform with railing stationed behind the middle of the mainsail.

“Yes captain. I won’t let down captain. Um, just one question captain,” Rainbow asks sheepishly. “Uh, what exactly is a ‘Ponies Perch’?”

“I’m glad you asked OS Dash.” Summergale says with a grin. “You and Fluttershy fly up there with me, and I’ll explain.” She says as she flutters up to the perch. Moments later the other two have joined her. Captain Summergale raises her voice so that she can be heard by the ponies below as well.

“Now this is what’s known as a ‘Ponies Perch’. It’s mainly only used by Flutterponies, but it can be used in a pinch by very strong pegasi. Fluttershy, if you would land on the perch and hold the rail?” Summergale asks.

Once Fluttershy is in place, Summergale begins to speak once more. “Now there will be times out at sea, when you’ll have no current, and they’ll be times when you’ll have no wind. Worst of all is the times when you wont have either. Now that used ta mean being stuck, sometimes for weeks, until the winds finally filled your sails, or ye drifted into a current again. But back in my day some clever Flutterpony rigged up one of these. Fluttershy? Please flap your wings as hard as ye can.”

Fluttershy began to flap with all her might. The mainsail before her billows out briefly, and the ship begins to rock gently.

“Very good Fluttershy. It might take awhile, but if you had to, you could manage to get us out of a becalmed sea. You’re up next Rainbow Dash.”

Rainbow settles into the perch, and grips the guard rail tightly in her hooves. Suddenly she begins to flap her wings. Faster and faster she goes. The sail billows outward, filled with the wind Rainbow is creating. The ship begins to rock back and forth, straining against the mooring.

“Excellent Rainbow Dash. You’ll do a fine job, if we ever get becalmed.” Summergale says, as she starts to fly back to the deck.

“Wait, wait, wait.” Rainbow says, shaking a hoof. “You’ve got to see what we can do... What about the captain? I mean, you ARE the one with the most experience here, maybe you should show us the PROPER way to do it.” Rainbow says, with a smirk on her muzzle.

“Oh aye.” The captain says, continuing to fly toward the deck. “I was just going to do that. I just need to lower the sails first.” She says as she begins to do so.

“Lower the sails? But why? And how are we going to tell how well you are doing without a sail?” Rainbow asks in confusion.

Summergale flies back up and lands in the ‘Ponies Perch’. Without a word she turns and grips the railing. Then she unleashes her ‘Utter Flutter’. The ship lurches violently, and the ponies all gasp as the main mast itself strains forward nearly to the point of breaking. The ship rocks dangerously and water splashes up on deck as the ship strains against it’s moorings as winds of hurricane intensity cause the ship to groan. Then Summergale stops.

“As ye can see, I took the mainsail down so it wouldn’t rip itself ta shreds since we are moored to the docks. If the mast had let go, I’dve had stern words with me son, I’ve told him time an time again that ironwood oak is the only thing strong enough ta be used as a mainmast on one of me ships. Looks like the colt has finally learned ta listen. Not so much as a crack on her.” Summergale says as she flutters around and checks the mast.

Meanwhile Rainbow had lowered herself to the deck, eyes wide. Without a word she returns to her place in the line, but inside her head, her thoughts are racing a mile a minute.

Fluttershy and Summergale return to the deck, and Summergale begins to speak once more.

“An that brings us to Rarity.” She says, as the fashionista steps forward. “Rarity, your job is one of the most important on the ship. It’ll be up to you ta keep our sails in good repair. Once a day I want ye ta go up and inspect all of our sails and rigging. Any rope that is frayed is a danger on a ship, any rip in the sails can cost us time. I’ll be depending on you ta keep us runnin smoothly. Now, how is yer knowledge of ropes?” she asks.

“Twisted, single braid, double braid, or Plaited?” Rarity asks in return.

Summergale grins widely. “Never mind. How about knots?”

“Well, I suppose I know the ones every pony knows,” Rarity responds. “Carrick bend, Double carrick bend, Double coin knot, Ten accord knot, Bosun's knot, Basketweave knot, Coltnese knot, Josephine knot, Whistle lanyard, Sailor's breastplate knot, Sailors knot, Pretzel knot, Wake knot...”

“Okay, I get the idea.” Summergale says, trying hard not to laugh out loud. “You’ll do just fine. Applejack yer next.” She says, as the orange mare trots forward. “Applejack, your main job will be as ships carpenter. you’ll be taking care of repairing any damage that the ship sustains while out at sea. Now if we’re really lucky, and can avoid trouble, then you won’t have much ta do. So your other duty will be as ships cook. In that capacity, it’ll be your job ta turn our provisions inta edible food that we won’t get tired of eating weeks on end. I’m assuming you know more than a few recipes for apples.

Applejack favors her with a grin. “Oh, you could say I know a few... thousand.” She finishes.

“Excellent. Dried apples as ye know can keep for a long time, and if we end up with long stretches between bein able ta resupply, then we may be eating quite a lot of them.” Summergale adds.

“Zecora, yer up next. Now I don’t want any of ye ta think fer a minute that Zecora is here as Twilight’s replacement. Ta be honest, I had already spoken to her before Twilight turned us down. I planned ta have Twilight along ta handle any magical emergencies. And in that regard, both Zecora an Rarity can step up as needed. But Zecora, yer main job will be ta act as ships doctor.

Being a doctor on a ship is a big responsibility. If a pony has an accident, you may be the only thing that stands between life and death for a thousand leagues around us. An ye also have ta make sure that nothing spreads ta the rest of the crew if some pony gets sick. It’d be a disaster if every pony got the flu and we were a thousand miles from nowhere.”

“A weighty burden on my hooves, it’s no small thing that you have asked, although some healing I do know, I wonder if I am up to the task,” Zecora says solemnly.

“I can understand how ye feel. We had to switch doctors on the Maiden’s Fancy, when our original one retired. The new young fella was green as could be, an not just his coat. I’ve had me son poof up copies of all the medical books we had on the Maiden’s Fancy. But before ye start doing any reading, I’d like ye ta spend the next two weeks helping out Nurse Redheart, an Dr. Hut MD, back in Ponyville. I’m sure they can teach you a broad outline o’ what to expect while we are at sea.”

“This advice is good to hear, I’ll happily lend a hoof and ear.” Zecora replies.

“Alright, and that just leaves Spike.” She says, as Spike steps forward. “Spike, I know ye don’t want ta here this. But your job is going ta be the toughest of all. Do ye know the story of when I joined me first ship?” Spike shakes his head no.

“Well it’s like this. Me an me best friend Boot’s were about yer age, and we were running loose around the dock. Ye know those three young fillies that run around Ponyville? The Cutie Mark Crusaders, they call themselves? Well, we were like that. So one day, like I said, we were running loose around the docks, watchin ‘em load an unload ships. So one of us, can’t recall which, dared the other ta sneak aboard one o’ them big merchant ships. Well, the other of us naturally brings out the ‘double dare’, an the next thing we know, we’re hiding in an apple barrel being hauled aboard. Well, we decides ta wait until dark an sneak back off, an then have a grand time tellin all our friends the next day about it. Ah, thing was, that that ship set sail before dusk, an by the time we snuck back on deck we were out ta sea. Well, as you can imagine, the captain was none to pleased with us. He was days late setting sail as it was, and he knew if he turned us around, he’d be stuck in port having ta deal with who knows what all paperwork from the port guards for dealin with stowaways. So instead he made us cabin ponies right there on the spot. He sent word back by pigeon what had happened so our parents wouldn’t worry, and promised them by the time we got back that we would have worked off our passenger fee and then some.

Well, he was sure right about that. Me an Boots never worked so hard in our lives. Halfway to our destination an the both of us were plannin our escape at the next island we came to. Sure enough as soon as we made port, we waited until dark an snuck off. We found a corner inside a dockside warehouse and hid behind some crates until we fell asleep. Next morning when we woke up we were back in our quarters on board ship. A grinning captain passed us our morning bowls of porridge, before putting us right back to work. Three more times we tried ta sneak off, but no matter where we went or where we hid, we’d always find ourselves back on board when we woke up. Finally after the last try, we just gave up trying, and did the best we could ta make the best of our situation.

After that things got easier for us. The rest of the crew started showing us easier ways ta do our job, and where we could an could not cut corners. By the time we started our return voyage, the crew had accepted us as their own. We’d laugh together, an tell jokes an tall tales. We’d play pranks, an sing sea shanties, it was some o’ the most fun me an Boots ever had.

Well, finally we made it back ta port. Our folks were waiting for us on the dock. I’ve never seen four ponies so perfectly balanced between love an rage as I did that day. Anyways, after all the fireworks died down, me an Boots got ta talking. We had somethin special back on that ship. The song of the sea was thrumming it’s chords thru our veins. Ye can’t unscramble an egg, or so they say, even with magic, so the next day we both had a long talk with our folks. Then the day after than we went an had a long talk with the captain. An we were signed on as official cabin ponies for his next voyage. An neither of us had looked back ever since.

Now Spike, I know I’m askin a lot of ye, but would ya be willin ta take on the duties of cabin pony? It’s a lot o’ scut work, I won’t lie. All I can offer is that unlike me first crew, all of us will be willin ta lend ya a hoof whenever we can.”

Spike looks over at Applejack, and then at the rest of his friends, before turning and facing Summergale once more. “Captain, all of my friends are here to help you, because they WANT to. And I am no exception. I promise I’ll do my very best as your cabin pony...er, dragon. I won’t let you down.”

“Aye Spike. I know ye won’t. I can tell what a strong heart ye have, you’ll do us all proud.” Summergale says, clapping a hoof to his shoulder.

All right everypony... an zebra... an dragon... let’s just go with everyone. I want ye all ta get settled into yer bunks an get a good nights rest. Trainin begins first thing in the morning.”

“Aye, aye captain!” They all chorus.

Summergale makes her way back to the captains cabin. On the nightstand next to her bed are several small pictures in frames, one is of her best friend Boot’s that her son had made for her from an image on his viewing crystal. She picks it up as she sits on the edge of her bed. “Aye Boots, I got a good feeling about ‘em. I only wish ye could be here with me. This’ll be me last voyage, but it’ll be one heck of an adventure.” She says, smiling, as she strokes the edge of the frame with her hoof.

The next morning the crew mustered out bright and early. Applejack was up before dawn and had made a delicious breakfast of apple pancakes, fruit and cereal. After eating, Summergale contacted Discord by crystal and had him conjure a portal for Zecora, so that she could begin her training under Dr. Hut and Nurse Redheart.

As Applejack and Spike began clearing away the dishes, Summergale began to instruct her crew on their duties for the day.

“Alright, since Rainbow Dash, and Applejack wont have any normal duties ta speak of until we are out ta sea, I want ye both ta take lessons under Pinkie Pie for the day. Now I don’t expect ye to be able ta clip the left wing off a fly at a half a mile, but I would like ye both ta be able ta hit the broadside of a barn before nightfall. I’ll have a few barrels set out ta sea for target practice. If ye can each hit just one barrel, I’ll consider it good enough.”

“Shoot, hittin a barrel with a cannonball can’t be near as hard as lassoing a wild critter on the hoof. I reckon I’ll be done before time to cook lunch.” Applejack boasts.

“Oh yeah?” taunts Rainbow, “Well lassoing a critter isn’t half as hard as doing a triple inverted somersault through three floating rings. I’m sure I can shoot a slow moving barrel in at least half the time as Applejack.”

“That’s the spirit girls. Nothin like a little healthy competition ta bring out the best in me crew.” Summergale says as she moves away from the bickering mares. “Cannoneer Pinks,” She says addressing Pinkie Pie. “Don’t be goin easy on those two. I want ye ta show ‘em just what it means ta be a cannoneer.”

“You can count on me captain!” Pinkie says, offering a salute.

Summergale turns to Rarity, who is still seated, sipping her tea. “Rarity, today your duties will be to inspect every piece of rope and sailcloth on the ship for defects. I don’t expect you will find any yet since it’s all new, but it will be good practice for you in learning the fastest most efficient ways to check them out.”

“Of course captain.” Rarity responds. “You can count on me to do a thorough job.”

“An that just leaves you an me Fluttershy.” Summergale says, putting a hoof on her shoulder. “I want ye ta stick by my side today. I plan on teachin ye everything ya needs ta know about running a ship.”

“O-okay,” Fluttershy replies. “I’ll do my very best to make you proud.”

“Excellent. Now the first order of business for you is to instruct our cabin pony in his chores for the day. Here is a short list I’ve drawn up. Now I want ye ta give this ta Spike,” Summergale says, drawing a rolled up scroll from her belt pouch, “and explain ta him that I expect him ta have this list completed by sundown.” She says handing the list to Fluttershy.

“By sundown,” Fluttershy repeats. “Aye, aye captain,” she says as she unrolls the scroll and begins to read. After several minutes, she finishes examining the list. “Oh dear,” she says to herself. “This seems like an awful lot to do in just one day.”

“Is there a problem first mate Flutters?” Summergale asks, right by Fluttershy’s ear.

“Eep! Um, I mean, no problem captain.” Fluttershy says, trying to calm down her heart.

“Good Flutters, good. Because as me first mate, the performance of the crew under ye is your responsibility. If there are any problems with a crew member, it’ll be on your head.” Summergale says with a less than savory grin. “I’ll just leave everything in yer capable hooves, while I go check on how the others are doing.” And with that, Summergale strides out of the cabin, leaving Fluttershy alone with a very long list of chores.

Moments later Spike returns. “Has everypony already left? I just finished the morning dishes, does the captain have anything for me to do today?” Spike asks Fluttershy eagerly.

“Um, yes Spike. The captain has instructed me to give you a list of duties for the day. She... um, wanted me to tell you that she expects them to be done before sundown. She uh, also told me that if there were any problems, that it would... reflect poorly on me since I am the pony in charge.”

“Wow, no pressure eh?” Spike says. “Well you don’t have to worry Fluttershy. I would never let you get in trouble on my account. Heck after having to do Twilight’s list of chores every day, this will probably be a breeze.”

“Well, if you say so Spike,” Fluttershy says, as she passes him the list.

Spike unrolls the scroll and begins to read. “Wash the breakfast dishes. Hah, already done. Check. Swab the deck, okay, not so bad. Check the hull for barnacles, hmm, what’s a barnacle? Wash the dinner dishes. Clean the latrines. Swab the lower decks...” Spike continues to read for a few more minutes. “Fluttershy?” he asks, apprehension creeping into his voice. “I-I don’t think I can finish this list before sundown. As a matter of fact, I don’t think the entire crew could finish this list before sundown. I know Summergale said that being a cabin pony was going to be tough, and I don’t want to let her down, but... I just don’t see how it can be done.”

“I-I know Spike.” Fluttershy says. “And Captain Summergale said this was a ‘short’ list. So that means she would be really disappointed in us if you can’t finish the whole thing in time.”

She looks down at Spike who is looking back up at her with a worried expression on his face.

“Okay Spike, I just want you to do your best. Don’t worry about what you can’t finish in time. Just try to do as many of the things on the list as you can, and I’ll try to sneak away and help you as soon as I can.” Fluttershy says in a comforting voice.

“Thanks Fluttershy. I promise I’’ll do my best.” Spike says, hurrying off to start his day.

Captain Summergale returns a moment later. “Well, I just passed Spike as I came in. Ye must have done a good job o’ motivating him, seein as how quickly he was moving. Good job Flutters. I can tell yer goin ta be a natural at this.” Summergale says, as she leads Fluttershy back onto the deck. Pretending not to notice how worried the pegasus is looking.

Meanwhile back in Ponyville, Zecora has exited her portal and has made her way to Dr. Hut’s office. Nurse Redheart is there to meet her as she trots into the lobby.

“Zecora, it’s so good of you to offer to help us out for a few weeks. Springtime is one of our busiest seasons.” Nurse Redheart says, as she escort Zecora into the office.

“The pleasure is mine I assure, I’m anxious to learn new ways to cure.” Zecora replies warmly.

Well, you’ve certainly come at the right time. The Doctor is with his first patient of the day, and I’m sure he would be happy to have you’re assistance. Oh, and you might want to take this, seeing as how it’s your first day.” The nurse says, proffering a large metal bucket.

Zecora adopts a wry expression before responding. “What this is for, I can guess, but let me put your mind at rest, There’s not a lot I haven’t seen, so I doubt this job will turn my muzzle green.”

“Well, if you say so, but it’ll be right here in case you change your mind.” Nurse Redheart replies.

Without preamble the two make their way back into the examination room, where Dr. Hut is speaking to a middle aged cow. Zecora and the nurse wash their hooves and don scrubs and gloves as the doctor continues to berate his patient.

“I warned you about getting this taken care of Daisy Jo,” Dr. Hut says in an irritated voice.

“I know Doctor.” Daisy replies, “but I’ve just been so busy dont’cha know.”

“You can never be too busy to take care of your health,” the doctor snaps back. “Ah, you must be my new assistant Zecora.”

“Indeed good sir, how do you do, how may I be of assistance to you?” Zecora says.

“Well, as luck would have it, we have a very simple problem, with a very simple solution.” The doctor says, gesturing at the patient. “Daisy Jo here has a goiter, and has put off having it removed for far too long. Now since this is such a simple procedure, I want YOU to perform it. Now don’t worry, I will talk you through it step by step.” He says, noticing Zecora’s look of alarm.

“Uh, Doctor, I don’t know if I feel comfortable having a novice do this.” Daisy Jo says, looking worried.

“Nonsense!” Dr. Hut replies. “This is so simple a foal can do it. As a matter of fact I let the Cutie Mark Crusaders have a go at it last week, and aside from some rather pointed letters from their families, everything turned out quite well. (Although I haven't seen them around since then). Regardless, I give you my word as an MD that you will be absolutely fine." He says waving a hoof in the air absently.

"Alright Zecora, are you ready?”

“As I’ll ever be I suppose, just guide me well in how it goes.” Zecora says, trying to remain confident.

“It’s really very simple. First take your hoof and... [content censored for ickyness]. Okay good. Now maintain... [more ickyness]. That’s it, your doing fine, now all you have to do is... [trust me, you really DON’T want to know]. And there you have it. All done,” the doctor says, cheerfully. “You can just put that into the tray beside the table Zecora... Ah, are you okay?”

“Nurse Redheart? Please go and fetch that bucket, because my morning meal?, I’m... about to...‘chuck... it...” Zecora says, as her stomach lurches, and her face turns an unbecoming shade of green.

Meanwhile back on the ship...

“Oh, so THAT’S what barnacles are!” Spike exclaims, as he follows the captain’s pointing hoof toward the bottom of the dock.

“Aye Spike, those little critters attach themselves ta anything below the water line. An when ye get too many on a hull, it’ll slow yer ship down something fierce. Now I don’t expect ‘em ta be a problem just yet, but checkin the hull now will be good practice fer later.”

“Understood captain. Uh, how should I go about getting down there? Do you have a rope ladder, or do you want me to lower the gangplank back down...” Spike trails off noticing a wicked gleam in the captain’s eye.

“Well that all depends cabin pony Spike. Lemme ask ye a TOTALLY unrelated question. How good are ye at swimming?” Summergale asks, nonchalantly.

“Oh, I’m an excellent swimmer. Twilight thinks I may be part sea dragon! And I can hold my breath longer than any pony in Ponyville!” Spike declares proudly.

“Well now, it seems we have our answer then,” Summergale says, pushing gently forward with her hoof.

“Wah? AAAIEEEE!” {splash}. {Cough, cough,}, that question wasn’t unrelated at all!” Spike yells upwards at the retreating and snickering form of Summergale.

Still elsewhere on the ship...

“No, no, no!” Pinkie says in frustration. “Honestly Rainbow Dash, I thought you of all ponies knew how to deal with windage.”

“Well I can, when it comes to myself.” Rainbow says defensively. “But a tiny cannonball, and that much distance? How in Equestria am I supposed to figure where to point the darn thing to make it hit that tiny floating barrel?”

“Oh Rainbow, it’s just so simple, here... look,” Pinkie says, as she pulls out a small blackboard and a piece of chalk from her mane, and without preamble, begins to write.

“Because you can always break motion in two dimensions, into x and y components, and because gravity acts only in the y component, your job is easy. All you have to do is break the initial velocity into x and y components: vxi=vi cos0 and vi=vy sine0.

These velocity components are independent, and gravity acts only in the y direction, which means that vx is constant; only vy changes with time, using the following equation: vy = vyi + at, or vy=vi sine0-gt.

If you want to know the x and y positions of the cannonball at any time, you can easily find them. You know that x is: x=vxt=(vi cos0)t.

And because gravity accelerates the cannonball vertically, here’s what y looks like (the t2 here is what gives the cannonball’s trajectory in the figure its parabolic shape): y=vyit-1/2gt squared.

You figure out the time it takes a cannonball to hit the ground when shot straight up (ignoring air resistance) like this: vf=vi+at, 0=vi-gt, (at maximum height vf=0; a=-g=-9.8m/s squared), t(top)=vi over g (solving for time), t(bottom)= 2vy over g (double the time to account for full trajectory).

Knowing the time allows you to find the range of the cannon in the x direction: s=vxt(bottom)=2vxvy over g=2vj squared sine0 cos0 over g.

So there you have it! Now you can figure out the range of the cannon given the speed of the cannonball and the angle at which it was shot. See? Easy peasy.” Pinkie says setting the chalkboard down in front of Rainbow.

“I... you... but..." Rainbow says, whipping her head back and forth between Pinkie, the chalkboard, and the cannon. “GAHH! Think box... no... sparky spark...” she says finally, before fainting onto the deck.

“Aww, now you’ve gone an done it Pinkie. You done broke Rainbow Dash.” Applejack says, shaking her head.

“Well, since she’s taking a break, I guess that means you’re next,” Pinkie says with a smile.

{Sigh}, “I can tell right now, that this is going to be a loooong row to hoe...” Applejack says, as she takes her place behind the cannon.

And on another part the ship...

“Captain, I have finished inspecting all the rope, sailcloth, and canvases in the ships hold. All are in good repair.” Rarity says brightly to Summergale, as the trot across the deck.

“Excellent work Rarity.” The captain replies. “Now all that’s left for ye to do is inspect the ropes and sails running to and from the masts.” She says pointing a hoof upwards.

Rarity turns her head following along where the captain is pointing. “Oh my, those masts are certainly... tall.”Rarity says gazing upwards. “And those crossbeams are ever so narrow. Uh, captain, just for my own curiosity, if I were to fall off...” Rarity says, leaving the question hanging.

The smile leaves Captain Summergale’s muzzle. She looks somberly at Rarity before she replies. “If that were to happen... I’d do my best to try to fall into the sea.” Summergale says as she taps a hoof on the deck. “Considering the height, and the fact that we have no doctor on board... well Miss Rarity, just try to hit the water... try REALLY hard.” She says, before trotting away leaving a suddenly very unsure fashionista in her wake.

Later, elsewhere on the ship...

“I really appreciate all your help Fluttershy,” Spike says, as the both continue to swab the lower deck. The young dragon had been working nonstop since the morning and as yet had not managed to finish half of the list Fluttershy had given him. But still he drove himself harder and harder.

Fluttershy looked down at her friend with a worry filled expression. “Spike, you really need to stop. At least take a break, you look exhausted.”

“No time Fluttershy. It’ll be sundown in a few hours, and if the list isn’t finished, Summergale will get mad at you.” Spike says, his voice filled with concern. “Don’t worry, I’ll be alright. I-I’ll take a break just as soo-” But Spike never finished what he was saying, as exhaustion finally claimed him, and he fell forward in a swoon.

Fluttershy managed to dart forward and catch the young dragon before he hit the deck. She carried him gently to his bunk, and put a cool cloth on his head.

“Just rest Spike. You’ve done more than enough.” Fluttershy says, as her expression darkens into a scowl. “I think it’s time that I went and had a talk with the captain.”

Meanwhile, back on deck...

“Okay Rarity, you can do this,” The alabaster unicorn mutters to herself as she climbs the rigging. “Just one hoof in front of the other.” She had already checked everything she could from the deck, and was now almost to the first yardarm which was fitted with the top of the lower mainsail.

Carefully she set her hooves down on the narrow yardarm, and began inching her way across. “There now, this isn’t so hard,” she said as she began to examine both rigging and sail. Suddenly there was a loud boom from the cannon, and the ship rocked violently.

Rarity immediately lost her balance and started to plunge toward the deck below. Acting on sheer instinct she used her magic on the nearest rigging causing a thick strand of rope to shoot out to her, and wrap itself around her forehoof. She dangled there for a moment, still unseen by any pony else, before drawing in a breath and magically lifting herself back onto the yardarm with the rigging rope. She stood there for several minutes, letting her heart rate return to normal. Then, still determined, she made her way forward once more, only this time with a span of rope held tight in her magic.

Unseen by Rarity, Captain Summergale emerged back on deck from where she was hiding in the doorway. She was still looking up toward Rarity, who was moving across the yardarm with more confidence. “Nice work Rarity,” she says to herself, then suddenly she feels a hoof tap on her shoulder. Turning around she feigns surprise as she sees a very angry looking Fluttershy standing before her.

“Ah, there’s me first mate. What’s wrong Flutters? Ye look upset about something.” Summergale says with concern.

“Yes captain, I AM upset.” Fluttershy replies, her normally quite voice rising an octave.

“Well? Out with it then. We have a lot ta finish before sundown.” Summergale says gruffly.

“Captain Summergale,” Fluttershy begins again. “I’ve just come from visiting our cabin pony. Spike has been working nonstop since breakfast, trying to fulfill all the duties you gave him this morning.”

“Aye, I wondered why I haven’t seen him about. Surely he must be finished by now? Twas only a short list I gave him.” Summergale taunts.

“Finished? FINISHED?!?” Fluttershy says, her voice rising even higher. “Oh he’s finished alright captain. The poor little dragon passed out even as he was speaking to me. I’ve carried him back to his bunk, and put him to bed.”

Summergale raises a questioning eyebrow, as her features begin to darken.

“I’m sorry captain, I know it’s my job to make sure the crew obeys your rules. But I cannot, and will not, stand by while you work my friends to death! That list you had me give Spike was completely unfair. There is no way anypony, let alone a young dragon, could ever do all those chores in one day. And furthermore, it was wrong of you to ask me to try to make him.” Fluttershy says as she takes out the unfinished list, and gives it back to Summergale.

“First mate Fluttershy,” Summergale begins, her tone growing dark and serious. “I told ye this morning that you are responsible fer the actions of the crew. Now ye come ta me with an unfinished list, and a crew member put ta bed an it isn’t even dark yet. Add ta that, ye be questionin me judgement, an puttin yerself between my orders an the crew. Now I ask ya Flutters, an this is official, do ye have anything else ta say ta me?” Summergale says, as she slowly begins to draw her cutlass. The rasp of the blade as it slides free of the scabbard can clearly be heard by the two ponies.

“C-captain. I may not be a good first mate. And I know I’m responsible for Spike and my friends. But being responsible means looking out for them, and protecting them from harm. S-So... officially speaking... You are WRONG captain. You were completely unfair to Spike. N-now if you have to f-fire me, or... or make me walk the plank, or whatever, well... then just go ahead and do it!” Fluttershy says, crossing her hooves and staring defiantly at Captain Summergale.

Summergale glares at Fluttershy, her muzzle contorted in rage. She raises her sword high, the sunlight gleams off the blade. She begins to bring the blade back, and then forward in a dangerous arch, which ends as she calmly slides it back in it’s sheath, her expression softening. She reaches out her hooves and pulls Fluttershy into a tight hug.

“Good job Flutters,” She says in her ear, still hugging Fluttershy tightly. “Oh, ye had me worried at first, but sure as Celestia, ye stayed true in the end. I’m very proud of ye.”

“I-I don’t understand,” Fluttershy says as Summergale finally breaks the hug. “You aren’t mad at me?”

“Mad?” Summergale says, letting loose a long laugh. “Not at all Flutters, ye did exactly what I was hoping ye would.” Noticing Fluttershy’s continued bewilderment, Summergale explains. “See Flutters, I knew that list I had ye give Spike was impossible for him ta do. It was a test ya see. A test ta see if Spike had the heart an the drive ta keep going, even though it was impossible. But more importantly, it was a test ta see what you would do about it.

Ya see, some mates might o’ worked poor Spike ta death trying ta make him finish. Those that would, would’a been off my ship head first inta the drink. Some mates might’a tried ta help him on the sly. I gave ye plenty o’ time away from me, and ta start with ye did just that. I was worried that was they type ye were, if so I could’a never trusted ye ta see my orders carried out. But then, ye got good an mad. You saw that I was in the wrong, and ye trotted up ta me, without fear, and ye put me in my place. Now maybe that’d get ye tossed off some other ship, but that’s the kind of first mate Captain Summergale wants on her crew!”

“Really?” Fluttershy says incredulously.

“Aye Flutters, aye.” Summergale says, clapping her on the shoulder, causing Fluttershy to stumble. “Me best friend Boots was me first mate for many, many years. She was never afraid ta tell me if I was in the wrong. And I knew that if she questioned me orders that there had ta be a good reason fer it. I’m not a goddess Flutters. I will make mistakes. Part of yer job is take keep me from making too many of ‘em. I WANT ye ta stand up ta me, anytime ya feel ye have to. Can I trust ye ta do that first mate?”

“Aye aye captain.” Fluttershy says smiling warmly.

“Good. Now let me have a look at this list... Well see, I AM impressed. Little Spike has done over half of it, an in less than one day! Flutters, my next order ta ye is ta tell Spike, when he wakes up, that he can have tomorrow off ta do whatever he likes. Tell him the captain is VERY proud of all that he’s accomplished.”

“Aye aye, captain,” Fluttershy repeats once more.

“Oh, and one other thing. About this list? This is actually a list of his entire weeks worth o’ chores. And since he’s already done half a weeks worth of work in one day, I’d imagine finishing the rest before Sunday won’t pose too much of a problem for him. I’ll leave it ta ye, on whatever schedule ye want ta make up for him, ta handle the rest of the list.” Summergale says, passing Fluttershy back the duty list.

“O-of course captain. You can count on me to make sure everything is finished on time.” Fluttershy says, giving Summergale a salute worthy of Pinkie Pie.

“I know Flutters,” Summergale replies proudly. “There was never a doubt in me mind.”

Later that evening, five ponies, a recently returned zebra, and a young dragon made their way wearily to their beds.

“Ouch! Fluttershy dear, please put your bag out from underhoof.” Rarity says tiredly. “I’ve managed to avoid falling all afternoon, and I’d hate to break my perfect record, not to mention my hoof, right before bed.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry Rarity,” the Pegasus replies. “I thought I’d have more time to tidy up.

“No problem my dear, allow me.” Rarity says enveloping Fluttershy’s bag with her magic. “Oh dear, how embarrassing, I must be more exhausted than I thought, I can’t seem to move it an inch.”

“Oh, please don’t strain yourself,” Fluttershy says, hurrying over. “I’ll take care of it,” she says taking the handles between her teeth and carrying the bag to the other side of her bunk.

Meanwhile Applejack slides into the bunk beneath Rainbow Dash. Rainbow is already sleeping fitfully.

“Zzzz... Pinkie... zzzz... brain!... zzzz... Pinkie... zzzz... brain?... zzzz... genius?... zzzz... in-sane!” Rainbow mutters to herself aloud.

Applejack frowns in consternation before kicking the underside of Rainbow’s bunk. “Rainbow Dash!”

“Zzzz.. huh, wazzat? Applejack?” Rainbow calls out confusedly.

“Wake up and go to sleep!” Applejack says crossly.

“Huh, oh... okay...” Rainbow groggily replies, as she starts to lie back down. “Wait... what?”

Elsewhere in the cabin, Zecora lies down trying to dislodge the images the day has burned into her mind.

“So, how did your first day go?” Pinkie asks, leaning her head over the edge of the top bunk, and causing Zecora’s eyes to go wide in startlement.

“Pinkie please don’t cause me fright, my tummy is far from all right! Although the doctors ways work without fail, today’s most useful tool has been a pail.” The zebra responds rubbing her temples with her hooves.

Meanwhile in the captain’s cabin, Summergale is also preparing for bed, but first she must complete one final duty for the day.

Opening a newly made leather bound book, she dips a quill in ink, and begins to write.

Captains Log. Ship’s date April 8, 03-LR (Luna’s Return)

Today begins a new log, for a new ship, and a new crew.

On the surface it could be said that I have never been in charge of a more different or diverse group of ponies, dragons and zebras. One would expect that they could not make it through one day without them all losing their tempers and causing a ruckas.

But in that you would be mistaken. All day long I’ve watched them all work hard, learning their new and unfamiliar duties. I’ve watched them pull together and help each other. I’ve watched them learn and grow together.

Now make no mistake, this bunch is as green as they come. But I have a good feeling about them. I’m confident that with a little training that they will end up being one of the finest crews I’ve ever been in charge of. These are good beings, one and all.

I can only hope that one day they will forgive me for deceiving them...

Captain Summergale

Author's Note:

By the way, although I have a few ideas for the name of the ship, I'm willing to hear what anyone else comes up with before I officially name her. Let me know what you think it should be, if it's better than my own... well, that's how Paradox got named. :raritywink: