• Published 9th Jan 2017
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The Atlantean-Dominion War - The Atlantean

Crimson Dawn enlists in the Atlantean Reserve Emergency Army (AREA) to defend Atlantis from the Dominion of Apollo.

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23. The Battle of the Eastern Celestial Sea

Captain Middle Road still had a limp when she walked into the main office for the Summercrest Shipyards. Her exec Tie Dye had relayed a request for her to come in just as the new construction ANS Ember was expected to be finished and ready to be pumped with hovergas.

The office was rather small, given its purpose as an administration building, but it was sufficient for their needs. Checkbooks and captain’s logs lined the shelves along two of the four walls. The wall behind the desk had a window that gave an extraordinarily good view of the harbor, and the last wall had the door. The entire building was made of “swamp oak” wood. The naturally moist wood rotted within a month, causing them to continually use the Governor’s residence during that time.

“What is it this time, Harbormaster Nightmane?” she asked.

“The names just came in for AREA’s latest engagements at Mount Emberforge and the earlier battle at Pacifica,” he said.

“I know.” Middle Road had already seen the list. She knew the harbormaster’s son was on the Pacifica one. It had to be hard on the graying stallion to learn his only son had been killed in action. “I should’ve told you.”

Nightmane looked downcast. He accepted the apology in words, but his heart told a different story. “I heard that Ember should be launched in a couple days,” he said, changing the subject. “The hovergas is ready to be pumped into the tanks. Also, the corvettes Dragonheart and Cape Lune are scheduled for launch at noon tomorrow.”

“I’ll take over here for now. You just go home, sir,” the Captain offered.

“Sure. I need some time off duty anyway, with Lunar Eclipse.” Nightmane stood up and walked out the door with the list of names in his saddlebag.

Middle Road contemplated sitting down. Deciding it was for the better, she did. With nothing else to do, she scrolled through the many messages from High Command. One of them caught her eye; it mentioned a new Artemis frigate. She read it slowly, making sure to not miss a single thing.

Captain [redacted] of the Atlantean Navy, I am giving you the most dangerous mission we have: to go deep into Dominion territory and deliver the Artemis class sailing frigate ANS Pearl to their admirals. They have offered quite the sum of money for both of us. The cargo specified is [redacted] from the [redacted] Project. You will only have one chance to do this. Do not fail me. Do not fail our true ruler Jagged Edge.

Middle Road looked at the date it was sent: just three days ago. If this note was authentic and simply got copied and accidentally sent here, she had no time to lose. “TIE DYE!” she screamed.

Her exec hurried into the room, banging the door open. “Yes, Cap’n?”

“Read this and deploy the fleet. Spread out as far as you can! And tell the metal ship’s crew to be ready for action!”

“Yes, ma’am!” Tie Dye raced outside and burst onto the docks. “Cast off! Deploy a search pattern! Captain’s orders!”

Middle Road went to Indianapolis herself. She boarded, was acknowledged by a hastily made side party, and made her way to the command deck. “I want this ship on the open sea in less than ten minutes! Flood the drydock and make preparations to cast off!”

Alarm bells rang out. One Unicorn, who had finally figured out how to fly the flying machines (by looking reading the manual for three months), climbed into one of them resting on the starboard amidships catapult and flipped some switches. He’d spent his spare time repairing it by salvaging the other one, so he knew it was likely to fly. With help from his friends, he got the engine running. The noise was louder than fifteen roaring manticores, especially since he’d taken the windows off of the cockpit. It smelled kind of like the oil stuff that the engineering ponies always had a shortage of, mixed with the beautiful scent of burning things. The Unicorn used his magic to increase the catapult’s tension, bit by bit, before releasing it.

The flying machine shot forward, plastering the Unicorn on the chair behind him. He looked ahead and yanked the controls with his magic, causing the plane to pull up just before smashing into a storehouse. He banked the plane and flew out to sea.

Middle Road heard the racket and ran to the port bridge wing just in time to see the plane take off. She cheered its crazy pilot on, even though she’d never given him or her authorization to fly it. She was just amazed that it worked. She watched as its noise diminished over the open ocean, going on its first flight in Atlantis.

The “talking box” crackled. “Indianapolis, please respond. This is Seagull, checking the ray-dee-oh.”

Middle road ran to the radio. “Captain Middle Road here. I hear you. Just ask before you fly next time, okay?”

“Yes, ma’am. Should I report everything I see?”

“Go ahead.”

“I see an Artemis-class frigate out to sea. It’s pretty far from land; right now, it’s a speck on the horizon without these cool double-telescopes.”

“Keep an eye on it. We’re headed there as fast as we can.”

“Yes, ma’am. Seagull out.”

Middle Road cast a communication spell to Tie Dye. “Chief, get moving! Possible hostiles are over the horizon. I’m heading out now.”

“See you there, Captain.”

An Earth pony looked up from the ship’s internal radio. “Captain, we’re ready to go. The dock’s been flooded; no leaks so far.”

“Let’s go. All… engines, is it?… reverse?”

The four rumbling propeller shafts began rotating. The massive steel ship slowly backed out of the flooded drydock, steering to point away from land when the bow cleared the dock. The lower hull’s red paint glistened in the beginning overcast sky, reflecting what sunlight came down on top of it. A light gray color scheme for the upper hull glistened less, but still smelled like musty paint. It was more drab than anything, but Middle Road wanted the cruiser to look pristine in the event that its original owners came looking for it.

The cruiser coasted forward for a minute as its propellers switched directions, then went into a pell-mell acceleration out of the harbor. On Sundering Sea, Tie Dye waved as Indianapolis zipped past. A rooster tail ten feet high shot up from the stern, soaking those behind the warship.

“Seagull, what’s it like out there?” Middle Road asked over the radio.

“Just fine, Cap’n,” Seagull replied over some static. “That frigate doesn’t seem to have spotted me. They’re holdin’ course, headed due east.”

“Alright. How’s the weather?”

“Quite a bit of wind, actually. Whoever built this had to’ve been insane to wanna fly! Too bad the clouds ‘round here aren’t controlled like in Equestria.”

“I’ll bet. Any storms on the horizon?”

“No, ma’am. But in this place, a squall can pop out of nowhere, so I’ll stay cautious, if you don’t mind.”

“Go ahead. Captain Road out.” The Unicorn turned to face the pony at the Helm. “Set a course at south-southeast. Full speed ahead.”

“Yes, ma’am.” The pony turned the wheel left, then straightened it after a few seconds. The coast disappeared quickly as gray clouds began to build up.

“Captain, the dinghies are stuck in port! The waves are getting too high. In fact, Sundering Sea is rolling so horribly, they might have to turn back,” somepony called out.

“Tell them to go back, then. We’ll do this alone if we need to. Prove that the oversized guns here are good in this sea.”

The pony acknowledged, already relaying the message through the “talking box.” Middle Road turned her gaze forward. The bow dipped into an unexpected trough, sloshing water over the wooden deck. Rain began pelting the windows relentlessly. The waves ran high for a squall.

Inside, Middle Road was thrilled. She never thought that her second mission in the Navy would be on an high-tech alien ship that could go in any direction, regardless of where the wind blew. The rolling waves and battering winds had no effect on the steel behemoth she sailed. Rain simply washed right over the light gray coat of paint without doing a thing to it.

The spotlights on either side of the bridge activated. The ponies operating them had strapped themselves down to the rail so they couldn’t be washed overboard. They scanned the dark sky amidst the pouring rain and sickening swell, looking for anything that might be of danger to the ship.

“Captain, Seagull reports that the frigate has rounded the southern edge of the squall! He also says his flying machine won’t fly much longer if he doesn’t land and refuel since he only brought a quarter… tank?… with him,” the pony on the “talking box” said.

“Understood. Tell him he’ll have to manage, and keep an eye on that frigate!” Middle Road replied. “Helm, steer to port, forty-five degrees!” When the ship had turned sufficiently, she ordered, “Rudder to amidships!” The ship’s direction straightened out.

The dark sky brightened considerably a few moments later as Indianapolis surged out of the squall. As soon as the pelting rain abruptly ceased, Middle Road could see the rogue frigate. “Signal them. They should have a ray-dee-oh. Tell them to heave to or be fired upon.”

The pony on the radio relayed the message. Meanwhile, the one on radar saw a lot of somethings. “Captain, a buncha blips just popped up! I don’t know why they didn’t earlier, but they’re here now!”

Simultaneously, Seagull called, “Captain, about two hundred of those Dominion ships of the line and fifty frigates just rounded the cape! Be ready to engage!”

“Weapons to port! Hard to starboard! Prepare to repel possible boarders!” Middle Road yelled.

Indianapolis listed hard to port as her rudder angled her to starboard. The massive steel behemoth still sailed effortlessly through the sea, as moderate as it was. Eight-inch guns trained to port, ready to fire on their targets, already chosen by the gunners.

The Dominion ships, in turn, made a beeline for the heavy cruiser. The plan was simple: overwhelm the defenses with enough ships and board. Take the ship by killing or taking the crew prisoner. Given the reloading time for the eight-inch guns, and their inability to hit nearby targets, Middle Road had them target the ships farther out while the five-inch secondaries fired at the ones closing in. Several weird guns with multiple holes in their barrels were carried around and mounted on the port rail as mattresses were draped over the side to protect from shrapnel and enemy longshots. As the Dominion ships of the line edged ever closer, the wind favoring them on an intercept course, the five-inch guns fired.

“Reverse turn! Hard to port!” Middle Road called. She doubted anypony heard her over the pounding weapons. Canvas-tearing shrieks ripped through the air and dissipated as the projectiles moved farther away. Orange fireballs flared up whenever the massive guns went off.
High-explosive naval artillery sent splinters spewing across miles of open sea. The closer wooden-hulled Dominion ships returned fire with their fifty-pounder cannons. White smoke appeared out of the blue as the powder exploded, sending the deadly, heavy balls of iron or copper at Indianapolis.

The cruiser shook from the impacts, all well above the waterline. It was obvious that the Dominion wanted to damage her buoyancy as little as possible, aiming for the main deck and superstructure. Many undershot or overshot into the water, but a considerable amount hit the ship. Middle Road kept herself from falling and raced to the port bridge wing. She watched a second multi-ship volley be sent like a big, smoky Hearth’s Warming present. “Why did I come out alone?” she groaned.

The drone of alien equipment grew louder and Seagull piloted his plane into a dive. He fired the forward-facing machine gun at a Dominion frigate, blasting it to splinters with the rapid-fire ratatatatatatatata. Seagull flew up and came in for another pass, sending a second frigate to the bottom. He whooped as he banked, almost hitting Indianapolis, and the crew cheered him on.

The pony on the radar called for Middle Road. “Captain! New blip, south-southwest! Don’t know what it is, but it’s makin’ a beeline for us!”

“Got it!” she called back. “Ray-dee-oh, try to talk to ‘em!”

“Already on it,” the radiopony grumbled, but visibly acknowledged the Captain anyway. She said the new standard “friend-or-foe” message several times at two-minute intervals. Eventually, a reply came through.

“Unknown vessel, this is the Atlantean caravel ANS Lavender Blue Sea. Identify yourself.”

Lavender Blue Sea, this is the Summercrest Project. We request immediate assistance. I repeat, we require immediate assistance! A swarm of Dominion warships is attempting to board us!”

On the other end of the line, the Atlantean radiopony looked at his captain. “The Summercrest Project? Is that a ship name?”

“No. The Queen specifically told all available captains that the Summercrest Project is an alien vessel being overhauled in Summercrest. They must’ve gotten that same “treachery” letter we did, or they wouldn’t even be out here. Helm, I want an ETA of less than an hour!”

“Sir, that speed is impossible with a sailing ship!”

“Then use magic. Maybe teleport the whole damn ship?”

“What?!” the exec cried. “Teleport the whole motherfucking ship? We don’t have the on-hoof Unicorns to do something of that scale!”


The executive officer hurried off to collect all the Unicorns on Lavender Blue Sea, which amounted to about ten. “Alright, I need you guys to get us to just over the horizon in an ETA of about five minutes. Captain’s orders, and I’m stuck with you until it happens.”

The ten Unicorns had incredulous looks on their faces. “It’s impossible, sir,” nine of them said at once. One had a different view, however, and said, “If Princess Celestia in Equestria can defeat her power-crazed younger sister, we can do this.”

“She had the Elements of Harmony.”

“Okay, so? The point is, she did it. Come on, guys, let’s prove ourselves.”

They shrugged and joined him in giving Lavender Blue Sea a speed boost. Instead of pushing the ship through the water, they pulled the water around the ship. This gave a bit more efficiency in their magic for some reason, but who was to argue? It got the job done faster. The caravel cruised much faster than she was designed to. One of the Unicorns had to stop moving the ship in order to keep her from falling apart. It took longer than the captain hoped, but they still reached the battle quickly.

Middle Road watched helplessly as yet another volley smacked her ship. She looked to the north, expecting reinforcements, but knew they were too far from land to get help from there. Seagull and the plane had left an hour ago, finally too low on fuel to be of much use. So Captain Road ordered Seagull to beeline for the coast; maybe he’d even reach Summercrest. He reluctantly flew away.

Suddenly, shrieks that sounded like Dominion cannons but didn’t come from them shot overhead. One skimmed right over the bow, missing by less than a pony’s height. These shots hit the nearest Dominion ships and splintered the sea. Middle Road looked to starboard and saw a single Atlantean caravel’s bow slice through the choppy waves. Her barnacle-encrusted hull showed no signs of battle, nor much wear and tear. This was an entirely new ship of an ancient design: the Marine class. Fifteen guns a side, she was about three-quarters the size of an Artemis frigate. Her hull was made of a hardwood that took forever to rot, and her masts were cut-down redwood trunks from the Midlands district.

Lavender Blue Sea cut across Indianapolis’ bow, firing her two forward guns into the mass. Then she heeled sharply to port, and when she straightened, fired a small broadside of chain shot, ripping the Dominion sails and knocking many small holes into her targets. Middle Road had stopped to just watch the nimbleness that the Marine class was known for. The caravel tacked, weared, and even spun in circles to present more guns in less time.

The heavy cruiser continued her barrage of the rear lines. The two ships wreaked havoc on the enemy, which hadn’t expected Indianapolis to get help. Even though the cruiser had most of the kills, it was Lavender Blue Sea that halted and drove back the Dominion with sheer surprise.

Captain Middle Road smiled and spun into the bridge. “Helm, take us north. Ray-dee-oh, tell our friend ‘Thanks’ and ask if they want to come with us. We are the tip of the defense, after all.”

The two warships cruised at a much slower pace than either had just gone through, sailing north as the sun was lowered over the horizon and nightfall began.

Author's Note:

Sorry it took so long. Writer's block! Also, a new story. This is my primary focus, though.

I'm hoping Lavender Blue Sea isn't a Deus Ex Machina, but she probably is. Anyway, she'll be in later chapters with Captain Middle Road.

I'm thinking about a new ship class, unofficially named the Bats Nightmane class or something like that by the citizens of Summercrest. What do you think?

Feedback appreciated.

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