• 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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48. Natural Disaster

Aboard ANS Nightmane, the most technologically advanced Atlantean-built ship in the world, Harbormaster Nightmane was enjoying himself. He’d coordinated the actual construction of the ship, and he loved seeing his creations come to life. Sure, it was dull when the only thing to do was go out on patrols, but he didn’t care. The sea was calm, no squalls in sight, no natural wind to feel. The destroyer sliced through the waves with ease.

A voice came down from the lookout: “Sir, there’s something screwy to the south. Can you confirm?”

“I’m not sure if we can, lookout,” the talker replied. “What’re you looking at?”

“The horizon. If you look behind us, Summercrest is horizontal. Look forward, and it ain’t.”

A roiling cloud of smoke and ash finally reached a height where the lookout could see it. “Sweet Harmony! That’s a big smoke hat!”

Nightmane eyed the horizon for a moment more, then felt the vibrating ocean reverberate off the iron hull. “Sound General Quarters! Red flare!” he yelled. After it fired: “Two more!”

As the massive, curling wave tore through the sea at incredible speed, Nightmane slammed the bell to “ahead flank” and felt the stern bite down while the wave’s trough rapidly approached. The angle of the deck getting steeper and steeper with each second, he wondered if the beautiful ship would survive. Then the sky was just barely blotted out ahead of him, and the bow plunged into the crest of the tsunami.

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Hundreds of ponies abandoned their posts and ran. Some climbed onto houses, others reached high ground, yet others still tried to outpace the speeding tsunami. All work on the ships was put on hold as a literal wall of water rushed over the shipyard and smashed equipment. Some places, like Town Square, were higher than the rest of the land, and were immediately swamped with refugees.

Middle Road didn’t know how she and Tie Dye made it to the top of the Summercrest police headquarters. All she could wager was that she wasn’t going to drown, unlike whoever was unlucky enough to be still in the shipyard, and that the place was wrecked. Soon, Janelane found her way to the captain and began coordinating rescue operations from the stranded rooftop.

The tsunami itself hadn’t lasted long; it was more of an instant destruction thing. The recovery, on the other hoof, was going to last months if not years. Most of the thirteen newly arrived ships were shoved around after being spun like corkscrews. Some had ended up in the streets, whereas others were turned turtle. Indianapolis, tough as she was with all that steel plating, had been battered remorselessly by the water and Pioneer’s incomplete hull now banged against her port side. Twisted steel and smashed planks were everywhere.

One of the luckiest boats of all time, still floating buoyantly in the debris-strewn water, took survivors off roofs and transported them to dry land. Its crew was soaking wet and exhausted. Their emergency rations were probably all spoiled - in fact, no piece of food seemed edible anymore.

Middle Road whipped her head left to find the Cape Lune Lighthouse. She was horrified by the sight. The masterfully masoned granite had been chipped and in some places demolished, leaving ugly scars and holes in the once-smooth tower. Water dripped from the railing around the large brazier light reflectors. The few ponies who made it up there were easily visible as they picked their way across a slippery floor. Suddenly, with a loud groan, the lighthouse base crumpled from the unexpectedly-wet sand and the whole structure tilted tantalizingly close to ten degrees. Then a block of granite slipped from between the blocks above and below it, and the tower crashed into the sea. Middle Road hoped the screams of terror she heard were just imagined.

“Has anypony seen Nightmane?” Tie Dye asked. Middle Road darted around the roof in fear, hoping to see the small ship, still existent if not afloat. For several long minutes, the two searched and searched the area from their perch.

“There she is!” Janelane cried, pointing south. The two naval officers whirled around to look where she was pointing.

“Oh, Harmony,” Tie Dye breathed.

Nightmane looked like hell. Every single one of her gunports were bashed in, along with her portholes and windows. Her sluggish movement stood testimony to the fact that she was indeed underwater for a brief moment, flooding her to the brink. Even now, ponies bailed as a slow alternative to the knocked-out steam pumps. Both anchors had been torn from their dripping chains. Her deck was covered in wounded and swimmers clambering up the boarding nets. The two majestic funnels had been completely removed from the ship, along with both masts, the ray-dee-oh antenna, crow’s nest, lifeboat davits, the new rowboat launch, and the forward five-inch naval rifle.

On the barely-standing port bridge wing, Harbormaster Nightmane could be seen, waving his left hoof at them. Middle Road returned the favor and relaxed a bit. This was definitely going to be a massive effort, and she needed every experienced pony she could get.

Nightmane’s crew dragged ropes from belowdecks and tied the destroyer to the twisted metal Indianapolis’ complex mast array still standing. The flooded ship slowly floated more buoyantly as bucketfuls of murky water went over the side.

Seagull’s small airplane droned overhead, slowly burning what was left of its fuel as he circled around, searching for a safe place to land. The stallion finally figured out his spot and he spiraled, flared the nose, and splashed down where the bay was expanded. With a whoop of approval from his spectators, Seagull killed the engine and climbed onto the wing, bowing ridiculously low.

“Meeting on Nightmane,” Middle Road said. “As soon as we can.”

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It took half an hour, but Summercrest’s military and civilian leaders were gathered in Nightmane’s wardroom. The discussion quickly transformed into a roar of commotion as speculation bounced off of the walls.

“This is an act of sabotage by the Domination Navy!” one pony loudly proclaimed. Many others agreed with him.

“It was a natural event, one that we knew would happen eventually!” Mr. Nightmane replied, just as vocal and adamant as his opposition.

Eventually, Middle Road had enough. “SILENCE!!!” she roared, standing up and banging her hoof on the wardroom table as she did so. The argument instantly died down. “Thank you.” She quieted herself to an indoor volume. “Look at what we know. A large wave just slammed into Summercrest. Practically everypony who wasn’t on high ground either died or was lucky enough-” she nodded at Governor Physics Psych- “to have been close to our governor’s residence, which was promptly shielded by magic. Now, using your brains, can one of you tell me what causes massive waves like this one?”

Nightmane spoke up. “I have to know the dangers of the ocean as harbormaster. It’s my duty. As such, I can say with confidence that, in history, this specific disaster comes from when the earth shakes far away.” He held a moment of silence for effect. “Or when a volcanic island collapses in on itself. I believe that, with the Celestial Sea’s southern half dotted with volcanic islands, the second option is the most likely.”

“So what do we do?” asked the stallion who’d blamed the Dominion earlier. “We can’t fight nature. It goes against the natural harmony of the world.”

“We adjust.” Middle Road glanced at the seventeen ponies in the wardroom - Tie Dye, Nightmane, Physics Psych, Seagull, Janelane, and Summercrest Police Chief Skittlebug to name a few - and smiled. “We do not come from a line of quitters. Nightmane, your wife is descended from an ancient Equestrian thestral family, while your own forefathers fought alongside Long Haul 300 years ago to free Atlantis. Seagull, you and your siblings are risk-takers, following in the hoofsteps of your persistent, inventive grandfather. Skittlebug, you and your family have always been at the forefront of local public service projects. Governor, your own son is fighting alongside his brethren to protect our freedom. This is not the time to quit. We rebuild Summercrest, from the ground up if we have to. We continue to defend our home from invasion. Because this isn’t just about us. This is about the accomplishments of our ancestors. Were they all for nothing, or can we make them proud?

“Nightmane, I want you to refit Nightmane. Get the steam engines online, get at least one funnel working, rebuild anything that’s broken. Take some stuff from Indianapolis if you need. Seagull, keep that plane rumbling and use some of the stores from Nightmane for fuel. You’re our patrol. Governor, Chief, your job is to coordinate all civilian recovery efforts. Jane, keep the peace. Tie Dye, fix our fleet,” the captain ordered. When she was done, she asked, “All clear?”

“You’ve got it!” came the chorused reply.

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With the help of magic, the floodwaters drained quickly. The wrecked shipyard once again became a beehive of activity as ponies worked to restore it as quickly as they could. Many of the recently-arrived ships had to be dragged back out of the town proper, but most of them would be serviceable again. The streets were clogged with destroyed furniture and household appliances, which were scheduled to be reused wherever they would lessen material requirements. Otherwise, the ruined stuff was just in the way and would land in a temporary landfill.

Communications with Nautinia told them that the capital city was hit as well but not as severely. Food reserves were going out to both Summercrest and the unprepared Haven Cove within the week. The radio shipment arrived without a hitch, which was good news indeed - saltwater corroded the equipment like hell.

After a long week of rushed reconstruction and chaotic recovery, Middle Road sat in Indianapolis’s bridge and sighed, listening to the 24/7 noise that surrounded the shipyard. It would be a long road, especially with the war going on, but they’d make it. Neptune was almost ready to set sail again and get supplies at Manehattan. In fact, she’d been a priority since the recovery began. Now, the converted steam frigate sailed out of the bay into the sunset. After sea trials, Neptune was headed west.

Author's Note:

Sorry this took a while. I have a lot going on. I guess I'm also losing steam on this project, but I'll manage.

Feedback appreciated.

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