• 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 Eight: Challenges

Chapter Eight

Captain’s Log Ship’s date April 20, 03-LR (Luna’s Return)

It’s been almost two weeks since Fluttershy and her friends joined me aboard my new ship.

I must say that I am quite surprised at how well they have taken to there new duties. Oh, there are still a few rough edges ta smooth out. Fluttershy needs ta learn ta be a bit more decisive, an Rainbow Dash is still hopeless at firing a cannon, but overall I am extremely proud of all that they have accomplished.

I feel confident that with just a little more tim-

{Knock, Knock}.

“Wha? Who in Equestria be that knockin on me cabin door? It be far too late for any of yea ta still be up. I keep tellin ye that ye needs a good night sleep if ya want ta be able ta handle yer shifts.” Summergale says irritably toward her door.

“Apologies captain,” an unexpected, but all too familiar voice says from the other side. “But I saw that your light was still on, and I decided that now would be a good time to have a discreet word. I can come back tomorrow if that would suit you better.” The voice says.

“Heh, oh no. If there’s one thing I know better than ta do is ta keep the likes of you waiting on the likes of me. Please come inside your majesty.” Summergale replies.

Summergale moves over to the edge of her bed and allows princess Celestia the use of her chair. The princess for her part, takes a moment to take in the decor of the captains private cabin.

“A bit more spartan that I expected” Celestia remarks.

“I always preferred function over fancy. So what brings the great an powerful princess of the sun ta the humble lodgings of a simple sailor.” Summergale inquires with a smirk.

“A ‘simple’ sailor you say, more like former queen of Equestria, if I chose to put a fine point on it.” Celestia banters back.

“Still queen of Equestria if’n ye wanted ta put a VERY fine point on it. If ye recall, I never did abdicate the throne.” Summergale says, her grin becoming predatory.

Celestia’s eyes widen momentarily in shock. “Touche,” she replies in a more subdued tone.

“Ah don’t get yer tiara in a twist, yer grandma was just teasin ye.” Summergale says, much to Celestia’s relief. “I have no interest in going back ta all them fancy ponies at court. Justice can have all o’ that that he wants. But I’m sure ye weren’t here just ta talk decor an politics, have a mug o’ cider an tell me what’s on yer mind Celly?”

“Well, there were a couple of things that I thought we should talk about.” Celestia says, as she settles into her seat, gratefully accepting a mug of the captain’s private stock. “In the first place, the contents of that box that we found in our old castle in the Everfree. I’m assuming it was in fact what we thought it would be?”

“Aye Celly, it was exactly that.” Summergale says uncomfortably.

“And I am assuming that you haven’t discussed this with the rest of your crew? It’s your business either way of course.” Celestia adds, noticing the look of concern on the captain’s face.

“No, I haven’t said a word to ‘em about it. Ye know I consider this a personal matter. It won’t make no never mind ta the rest of me crew no how. As far as they are concerned, this voyage is for treasure an fame an nothing else.” Summergale says glaring at her granddaughter.

“And as I said before, that is entirely your business. I won’t say a word about it. Although it seems to be quite a coincidence that Discord and Fluttershy had those charts waiting for you when you went to see them. It certainly made things easier for you.” Celestia pauses in thought. “You don’t suppose the Gods planned it this way? That they knew we would find that box, and had those charts given to Discord and Fluttershy just for this purpose.”

“Hah! Yer given those two too much credit.” Summergale spat. “I know ta you an the rest o’ these modern ponies that those two are seen as all powerful an all knowin. But ta my family their a couple of bumbling nabobs that are lucky they can find their own tail with all four hooves.”

Suddenly a massive bolt of lightning strikes the ocean just outside her cabin window and an ear splitting crack of thunder follows a moment later.

“Aww stifle it you two, there are ponies tryin ta sleep ya know.” Summergale yells irritably.

“Really grandma, I don’t think it’s healthy baiting the gods like that,” Celestia says, filled with alarm. “Especially not in a wooden boat sitting on the ocean.”

“In the first place it’s a ship. In the second place we are docked. An in the third place, considerin what they did to me, my son, an my daughter, I can’t help but feel that they still owe us quite a bit, an I don’t see a hooffull o’ charts or a bit o’ criticizen as being near payment in full. An if the two o’ them feel otherwise they can come here like civilized ponies an we’ll discuss the fact right now... well?” Summergale asks, facing upwards.

Nothing happens... After a few moments more of nothing continuing to happen, Summergale resumes her conversation.

“So, ye said there were a couple of reasons ye came by, what’s the other?” She asks as if nothing had just happened.

“Well,” Celestia says, gathering her composure, “I also thought I’d mention that I just recently received an interesting message from the Griffin ambassador. It seems that his nephew is the head of the merchant guild for the Griffin Empire.

Apparently he had a rather embarrassing encounter with your son recently. Does this sound at all familiar by any chance?”

“Noooo, can’t say that rings any bells,” Summergale replies evasively. “So I’m guessin the ambassador is makin a claim for some sort of restitution?”

“Surprisingly enough, no,” Celestia remarks. “Apparently he doesn’t really like his nephew. Thinks that he’s an arrogant little chick.”

“Heh, that’s him all right,” interjects Summergale.

Celestia raises an eyebrow.

“Or so I hear,” Summergale adds quickly.

“{Ahem},” Celestia snorts in amusement. “In any event, what the ambassador DID find interesting was the fact that his nephew claimed that the pony kingdom was about to send out it’s first ocean going merchant ship in recorded memory. And THAT set off all kinds of alarm bells all across the Griffin Empire.”

“Oh really?” Summergale says in feigned surprise, failing to hide her smirk. “Can’t image why.”

“Well, it MIGHT have something to do with the empire’s stranglehold on overseas trade which goes back as far as the cataclysm.” Celestia says off-hooffedly. “Apparently there are still some griffins who read their history books, and remember the days when ponies used to dominate trade, and the empire was in a state of anarchy.

To that end the hierarchy have decided to take steps to disabuse us ponies of such silly ideas involving the sailing upon of the big scary ocean.”

“Disabuse us eh? An can I assume that since ye just recently signed a treaty of lasting peace between our kingdoms, that I’m not ta expect a declaration o’ war in the very near future.” Summergale says reading between the lines.

“Correct. After all, we are civilized beings now. Our races are much too mature for such childish things as ‘war’ anymore... at least on the surface.” Celestia adds.

“Oh of course, of course. Griffins bein half dove an half panda, well natchurly they wouldn’t have any warlike tendencies. Not at all like us bloodthirsty pony tribes.” Summergale quips sarcastically.

“Quite.” Celestia responds succinctly. “No, the empire doesn’t plan on challenging us on the battlefield. But they do still plan to send us a rather strong message. Our sources inside the empire tell us that they are sending the flagship of their merchant guild, the ‘Grasping Claw’, to meet up with you and your ship. Giovanni himself is being transferred to her as acting captain. He intends to offer you and your crew a ‘friendly challenge’ as a gesture of goodwill between our races.”

“Oh really,” Summergale replies, her ears perking up. “And what sort o’ friendly challenge will he be offering us?”

“From what I understand, he intends to set up a series of nautical events designed to demonstrate the skills of both ships and their crews. A ‘friendly competition’, in honor of our return to the seas,” the princess says, taking a long pull of cider. “{Cough, cough,} by the gods, that’s... {cough} the good stuff.”

“Aye Celly, ye might want ta go easy on it till the burn dies down.” Summergale says, patting her lightly on the shoulder, as she pours herself a mug and takes a long pull.

“Yer words shouldn’t have come as a surprise ta me, but I guess I’ve not had me mind on the big picture ever since ye gave me that box.” Summergale says shaking her head sadly. “Ye know as well as I do that the griffins intend ta humiliate me an me crew, an by extension all of the ponies in Equestria. If we don’t accept their challenge, they’ll name us cowards ta all the other races. If we accept their challenge, and they walk all over us, then they’ll use that shame ta keep us down, an out o’ their way so they can keep their monopoly on sea trade. Way I see it, we only have one option left to us.” Summergale says moodily.

“And that is?” Celestia asks.

“Oh Celly, ye KNOW what that is.” Summergale says with a grin. “If ye wanted to, ye could’ve had Discord snap up a ship that could magically run rings around those seagulls. Or suddenly fill all their hulls with termites, or any number o’ things. But the fact that ye came ta me about it means that yer thinking the same thing that ye knew I’d be thinking.”

“And that is?” Celestia prompts once more.

“An that IS,” Summergale says dramatically, “that them chicken hawks have had their way around the ocean fer far too long. And that both them an the ponies of Equestria need ta see that we ponies are as good as any o’ them feather brains on land, or air, or sea. An that come time fer them birds ta get here, they’ll find us ready an waiting for ‘em. Oh yes, they ain’t never seen the likes o’ captain Summergale. I don’t care what kind o’ ship those birds are sailin, me an my crew will sail rings around them.” Summergale says, rising to her hooves and pacing the deck before Celestia.

“How much time have I got before they get here?” She asks.

“Given the fact that they have to pick up Giovanni when he reaches Prance, and take him to rendezvous with the ‘Grasping Claw’ at sea, I’d say you have just over four more weeks, before they arrive.” Celestia replies.

“Hmm, that’s tight. I’ll have ta stop cross training the crew. They’ll need ta focus on their main duties and train as hard as they can. Do ye have any idea what sorts of ‘events’ they have in mind for this competition of theirs?”

Celestia wordless passes over a scroll.

“Oh Celly, I don’t know who ye have working in the empire, but ye owe ‘em a whole bushel of apples.” Summergale says as she examines the contents of the scroll.

“Actually she prefers mice. But don’t tell Fluttershy,” Celestia says sternly. “So, what do you think?”

“Well, it seems that the griffins have a pretty decent list of competitions for a sailor. One fer testing the speed and accuracy o’ cannonfire. Speed of riggin for sail. Hmm, a cookin competition fer ships rations. A test o' medical knowledge an practical applications. Repair competitions fer sails an rigging. An o’ course fer the finale, an all out race.

Hmm, on the face of it, it seems above water, but I can’t help but ta feel that them griffins may be tryin ta pull a fast one on us. Still, I aims ta play the hoof I’m dealt. I’ll take ‘em on Celly, fair an square. And I promise yea, I’ll do everything in my power ta make ye proud.” Summergale says, extending her mug.

Celestia raises hers as well and clunks them together wit a deep thud. “You already have grandma. No matter what, I consider it an honor that you’ll be the one representing our species.”

“Aw, thank ye Celly.” Summergale says taking another pull of cider.

“Oh, there is just ONE more thing. Celestia adds, taking a more modest sip of her own. “You really should decide on a name for your ship before they get here.”

“Oh don’t ye worry about THAT little detail.” Summergale says full of fire. “After what ye have been tellin me about them uppity griffins, I can think of only one name ta represent our first twist o’ their beaks in centuries. Celly, ye have the honor o’ sitting in the captain’s cabin of 'The Equine Spirit’.”