• 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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61. Early Warning

Queen Atlanta absent-mindedly brushed her hoof through her mane as she waited. Diplomacy always made her nervous, even more so than war. Her crown was situated on her at a tired angle, and bags hung from her eyes. Despite her weariness, she sat tall and regal, her stance imposing rightful authority on her simple but elegant throne. Stained glass windows shimmered various hues onto the floor, which was covered in a simple red carpet. Very few things in Atlanta’s throne room were highly decorated, but existed out of tradition.

The throne itself was made from a rich polished ebony wood and accentuated with bright cherry highlights. Intricate designs were carved into the throne that detailed the story of Atlantis’ revolution from Dominion control and won independence. It rested at the top of a stepped pedestal and was surrounded by matching mage torches, which were always lit with a mystical blue flame. Atlanta thought it ironic that the most ponies in the Dominion still considered Atlantis part of their empire, yet the war for independence had been fought three centuries ago. Even now, when she waited for the annual Dominion dignitaries to arrive, they always considered her a lesser citizen, a subject of the Dominion will.

“Are they outside?” she asked a guard in polished bronze armor.

“Yes, my Queen. They arrived a few minutes ago. We’ve been checking for weapons.”

“By all means, let them in! I can take care of myself should one of them be an assassin.”

The guard signaled to another by the great polished oak doors that connected the throne room to the hallway outside. He opened the doors and admitted the group of dignitaries. “His Excellency Splinted Shield, plenipotentiary of the Dominion of Apollo.”

“You forgot most of my titles,” Shield grumped.

“I honestly don’t know them.”

“Hmm.” Shield strode to the beginning of the steps. “You know exactly what we wish for, Queen Atlanta.” His ironic stress on her ruling title was not lost on the queen.

“And you know exactly what my answer will be. Atlantis will not surrender unless your armies march upon my door and trample my floors, until the great fortresses that guard our harbors have fallen, until you have utterly crushed the hope that we will one day be free. Until the day comes that Jagged Edge sits upon my throne and holds me by the chain, I will never submit. And if I submit, my ponies will know the fiery rage and burning fury that I fought with, and they will not see me as the one who left them to suffer, but who defended them until I myself was overwhelmed. There will be no concessions.”

Shield took a deep breath and slowly released it. “Then we have no more business here. I shall wait aboard my ship if you change your mind in the next few days.”

As the main dignitary left, a younger stallion with a shadow-gray coat stepped forward. “If you please, your highness, I request a private audience. I bear a message from Crown Prince Flawless Ice to you.”

Atlanta was taken aback by his attitude. “Of course. Who are you?”

“Lost Legacy, ma’am.”

“Well, if you have a message from your crown prince for me to hear, then it must be important enough for you to breach protocol. Is this message confidential?”

“Yes.”

She looked up to where Splintered Shield stood shocked at Lost Legacy’s breach. “I will send for you if my decision changes, Mr. Shield. You may go.”

When the doors closed behind Shield, Lost unfolded a crumpled note from his pocket. He gave it to a guard, who then handed it to Atlanta. She scanned it for the main points, and her eyes widened. “Are you sure about this, Mr. Legacy?”

“Yes, your highness. I saw it myself when we left port in Amyfalone. They’ve been heading south for several days now, hugging the coast. They’ll reach your naval hub in Summercrest and flatten it with their cannons.”

“This was a very dangerous thing for you to do, possibly treasonous to your country.” Her response cut short for a minute as she used a scrying spell to find the fleet in the note. Returning to the present, she nodded. “It is indeed coming this way, not four days from Whitecap Point. You have my most profound gratitude, Mr. Legacy, both you and Prince Flawless Ice.”

“There was another thing that wasn’t in the note,” he said. “Flawless said that he found a princess named Blossom, and that she’d been taken from her home in southwestern Atlantis. She was a Changeling. He currently has the King thinking she will make an excellent heir should the need arise, and is sheltering her in Buckingham Palace as an adoptive sister.”

Familiarity glinted in her eyes. “Yes, I know of her. Queen Echo is going to be very relieved to hear that her daughter is found.”

“I don't recommend rescuing her, though. Not yet.”

“Of course. Upon your return, please relay my gratitude, and also inform Princess Blossom that a plan is in the works, but we may need several years to execute. Breaking her out of the Dominion capital will not be an easy task.”

“I will. Now, if you have no further requests, I take my leave.” Atlanta shook her head, so Lost Legacy bowed, then turned and left.

---------------------

Indianapolis was met with cheers as her massive steel bulk slid into place and dropped anchor at the newly built refueling pier in Haven Cove. The Mega Peninsula, thanks to the swampy delta to the north, was the perfect place for a fuel refinery. Raw petroleum, used to tar the stays on sailing rigs, bubbled up from the ground and was therefore extremely easy to access compare to other areas such as Summercrest.

In a rookie-like fashion, the yard ponies handed the fuel lines to their shipboard counterparts, who in turn set them up to fill the tanks with practiced ease. Shore pumps rumbled to life, and the cruiser’s lifeblood flowed to fill her grumbling bunkers once more.

Nightmane sighed contentedly. It was good to have fuel, supplies, and ammunition again. Haven Cove would be producing everything Indianapolis required due to its central location on the Atlantean coast, as well as ship said items to Summercrest, Nautinia, and other naval bases. But for the next few months, they'd have to come here while the supply ships were built.

And what a grand sight those are, he thought as he watched the shipyard on the south side of the harbor. A dozen were currently in drydock, in varying stages of construction, with a further fifteen planned. Three test ships were approaching now, utilizing their wide bottoms to support two cranes and a heavy load of black-powder explosive shells. Their bronze penetrators could go through any wooden hull the Dom threw at them, and their contact fuses were the same ones used in Atlantean artillery for structural damage. During a defensive war, few opportunities to use them would present themselves on land, but they didn't need to preserve the structural integrity of an enemy frigate, did they?

He was leaning against the bridgewing rail, watching the transfer, when Lieutenant Commander Autumn Sparklewood tapped on his shoulder. “Lupus, I've been trying to get your attention for the last five minutes.”

“Problem?”

“Yes, sir, but not out here. The Queen is in the conference room right now.”

“WHAT?” he exclaimed. “She’s here? No warning?”

“That's what I said.”

“Harmony! Take me.”

As she lead him through the winding companionways, he smoothed his mane and brushed his coat. Despite all his attempts to stay tidy, Indianapolis’s facilities just weren't enough, as they were built for tall bipeds with little fur. But by the time he reached the conference room, or rather, the resident admiral’s flag quarters, he was somewhat more presentable. One more smoothing of his mane, and he pulled the hatch open.

“Mr. Nightmane,” Atlanta said as he entered. She nodded in his direction. He took a moment to admire her dress: orange sunsteel armor with gold-plated hoofguards. A diamond-encrusted gold diadem rested atop her head, keeping her ocean-green mane out her face. “There has been a change in plan.”

“Is the war ending? Maybe it's the shipyards. I never did get around to expanding the drydocks…”

“I wish the end was near, but no such luck adorns our futures. No, we are in even graver danger than ever, and I have come to personally give you this directive.”

“That implies something truly dangerous, if you aren't willing to risk a communications failure.”

“Indeed, Mr. Nightmane.” She stood and lit her horn, causing the conference table to grow a map. “A Dominion fleet is approaching Summercrest, and will arrive in a few days’ time. You must sail there as quickly as your ship will allow. A flat-top designed to carry aircraft based on the ones we've recovered from this vessel has already departed from Nautinia. They will certainly be less capable, being made of wood, but their engines are sound and their weapons bear true.”

“Weapons? Like explosives?”

“Yes, but some will carry variants of our standard rifle, built to accommodate large amounts of bullets and fire them quickly. If we can make them, so can the Dominion, and I will not risk losing Pacifica to such a threat even if it does not yet exist. We have spent two years building her, learning everything from scratch. Perhaps a fleet of her class will rise in the future, but as it is, we can barely crew her with enough ponies to fly her entire fleet of aircraft with decent fliers.”

“Forgive me, but I do not understand. We have a carrier of aircraft. How?”

“The very technology Indianapolis has provided us has made it possible. Never before has anypony in the world built such a ship! Soon, though, we will have the ability to land them on cleared ground, but I doubt the war will give us the chance to actually do it. Materiel and ponies are hard to come by. It is also just as likely that our assets will sink, and our accomplishments with them.”

“We can't let a chance like this to slide, then. This will test our designs, but it will expose them to utter destruction.”

“Trial by fire, Mr. Nightmane. Trial by fire.” With that, Queen Atlanta disappeared in a flash of light. She'd teleported back to Nautinia, now that her objective was complete. That didn't mean it was over--far from it. He sent for his officers and filled them in once everyone arrived. The general consensus among them was that this new “carrier” was indispensable. They also agreed that the two catapults unloaded just days before at Nautinia were most decidedly not on Pacifica, since she'd likely lower aircraft into the water, and the pilots would go from there.

“Make all preparations for getting underway. We head out at sixteen hundred hours,” Nightmane finally ordered. “I want all supplies aboard and secure by then. Autumn, inform the harbormaster of our intentions, and have all ships able to fight make for Summercrest. Commander Violet--”

“Yes, sir,” his XO said. “Triple-check all incoming supplies, round up the crew, and don't forget to look for saboteurs.”

Read my mind. He smiled. “That's it.”

-----------------

Nightmane watched as mooring lines were cast off, splashing into the peaceful channel between Indianapolis and the pier. Even as the last stragglers bounded across the gangway, cranes lowered supplies to the cruiser’s deck. Beyond the rapidly expanding Haven Cove industrial district, the orange sun had nearly reached the horizon, its soft golden tendrils wrapping around towers and trees. A full moon rose in the east, behind him, ready to guide fifteen ships to the line of battle.

He took a moment to watch the hastily organized fleet. Most were large seaweed fishers fitted with cannon, but there were a couple frigates. All flew the Atlantean naval jack. Their hulls were creaky and old, but stout and streamlined. On a good wind, these fifteen-year-old ships could make ten or twelve knots--with a calm sea, upwards of fifteen. They had to, to ride the squalls that came in from the south. If anything in the Navy was a constant, it was that all ships had to be able to sail eight knots minimum and fight in a heavy squall--at the same time.

Seaweed trawlers were probably tougher than actual naval vessels. Their hulls were three planks deep, which made them wider, but they compensated with a longer shape and diagonal cross-bracing. The wood used was a mix between Summercrest’s swamp oaks, strong and light, with the Cove’s own rot-resistant birches and disease-resistant spruces from the Whispering Mountain northern taiga forests. Some had cross-breeds between the three trees, which somehow worked fantastically well. Their masts only stood three-quarters as tall as a frigate’s, but their yards hung wider and there were three. Their cargo capacity was impressive, as was their ability to easily accept heavy modification. They were stable gun platforms and made good escorts.

He finally looked back at the pony working the Helm. “All engines ahead full,” he ordered. “Hold course at a bearing of eighty-five degrees absolute.” As Indianapolis began its leisurely turn to port, out of the center of the bay, he said, “We’ll make it in time.”

“I hope.”

Author's Note:

I'm back! I have the next few chapters planned (generally), but it could still take a while for each to go up. In the meantime, this is the update that took a couple months of on-off writing to make.

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