• Published 14th Aug 2017
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Surviving Sand Island - The 24th Pegasus

An airship wreck leaves Rainbow Dash and Rarity stranded on a deserted island. Together, they must find a way to survive until help comes—if it comes.

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Uninvited Guests

Rarity and Rainbow weren’t the only passengers wondering about the commotion. It seemed like everypony had wandered out of their rooms to see what was going on. The hallways were thick with muttering passengers, and the starboard windows were starting to become crowded. Rainbow Dash didn’t seem to consider stopping at the windows an option, though. She pressed straight for the stairs leading to the top deck, leaving Rarity to struggle to keep up.

“Rainbow!” Rarity yelled at her as she squeezed between an older couple standing in the middle of the hall. “Darling, I can’t fly! Slow down!”

Rainbow reluctantly landed in front of the stairs and turned, waiting for Rarity to navigate the crowd. “C’mon, Rares, we’re missing it! We gotta get room on the top deck before it gets too crowded!”

“The Concordia is huge, Rainbow,” Rarity insisted. She barely got within a foreleg’s reach of Rainbow before the pegasus bolted into the staircase and began flying straight up the middle. “Please! There’s enough deck space for everypony!”

Jetstream’s voice came on the loudspeakers at that moment; it seemed particularly loud in the stairwell, where it echoed off every wall. “Good morning, fillies and gentlecolts! This is your hostess, Jetstream, and I’d like to request that all passengers please stay below decks for the time being. The Concordia is currently responding to an internationally-recognized distress signal from a nearby cargo freighter. Please, do not interfere with the crew as they perform their duties. Thank you!”

Rarity stopped in the middle of the stairs. “Rainbow, darling, did you hear that? Come back!” But instead of Rainbow’s voice, Rarity only heard the doors at the top of the stairs slide open. Groaning, she continued stomping her way up after her friend. She’d be damned if Rainbow ruined the rest of her trip because she couldn’t listen to rules!

Of course, actually dragging Rainbow back down below decks was going to be a problem in itself, what with her restrained magic and everything. By the time she came topside, Rainbow Dash was already halfway down the deck, hovering just above the heads of the few passengers too reluctant to go below decks at Jetstream’s wishes.

Well, so long as they weren’t the only two passengers who weren’t where they were supposed to be…

As she trotted after Rainbow, Rarity turned her eyes to starboard. The clouds she’d seen from Rainbow’s balcony earlier were much more prominent and much thicker to the southeast, like a smothering gray veil descending upon the world. Though the seas under the Concordia were calm, she could see innumerous whitecaps and choppy waters in the distance as the storm worked its way up from the south. But what caught her attention the most was the dark silhouette of a large airship probably a mile or two away.

It was long and low, almost like a flying barge, and its enormous balloon was tethered down in four places instead of the three like the Concordia. Three engines lined the port side, one each in the bow, midship, and stern; Rarity assumed that there were three more on the other side as well. She could vaguely see figures running to and fro on the deck, though she was too far away to make out any details. Behind them, something burned on the deck, billowing smoke into the air.

“Oh, in Celestia’s name, how horrid!” Rarity exclaimed. She made it to Rainbow’s side, and she could tell at once that Rainbow was looking to fly over to the other ship. With a gentle tug on Rainbow’s tail, Rarity at once got the pegasus’ attention and forced her to land. “Darling, please don’t.”

Rainbow’s wings twitched, and for a second, Rarity thought she was going to go airborne again. “But I can just go grab a cloud and bring it over to the ship and—!”

“Rainbow, hush,” Rarity said, placing her hoof over the stunt flier’s lips. “The crews here know what they’re doing. I trust that they’ll be able to handle it.”

But Rainbow still didn’t look convinced. “If that fire gets to the balloon…”

“They have pegasi of their own that should be able to deal with the problem,” Rarity insisted. “All good airship crews have them.”

Though Rainbow bit her lip, she said nothing more, and she and Rarity simply watched as the Concordia puttered closer to the stricken freighter. When they got within maybe a half mile, the Concordia let out two loud blasts from its horn and began to angle to the freighter’s port side. Both friends watched as several pegasi took off from the cargo ship, and a minute later, landed on the decks of the luxury liner.

“Where’s the captain, or a mate, or somepony to talk to?” one of the pegasi said. He and the other sailors from the cargo ship only wore bandanas to keep their manes back and utility belts around their waists, in which were held a number of tools and a length of rope. “Please, this is urgent!”

Another set of wings heralded the arrival of the Concordia’s captain nearby. “Captain High Winds,” he said as he stepped forward, no more than ten feet away from Rainbow and Rarity. “My helmsmare is guiding my ship to your port side, and I’ll have crew offer rescue assistance. What happened?”

The pegasus who’d spoken earlier took off his bandana in a show of respect. “Raiders,” was all he said, earning a startled gasp from a few of the ponies still gathered on the deck—Rarity included. “Attacked earlier in the morning. They just rolled out of the clouds, made it clear they’d shoot if we didn’t surrender.” Sighing, he looked back to his own ship, which was just beginning to put out the fire on decks. “Cleaned us out, then shot at us as they left. Took out our engines and started a fire below decks. That’s when we started broadcasting our SOS.”

High Winds took all this in with a grim face. Then, turning to a mate, he pointed to the Concordia’s bridge. “Relay that to our radio operator and get some scouts in the air. Those raiders might still be nearby, and we have our passengers to protect.” When the mate flew off, he turned back to the sailor. “How many are injured? Do you need medical attention?”

The stallion shook his head. “We have it under control. Thank you for the offer.”

High Winds nodded, and as the Concordia gently maneuvered into position, he turned around to address the passengers who still lingered on decks. “All of you need to go below decks, now,” he said. This is a maritime emergency, and we can’t risk having any interference from the passengers.”

The ponies still gathered on decks nodded and began to turn around, and Rarity started that way too, at least until she saw Rainbow Dash refusing to budge. “Come on, darling, we’re just in the way up here,” she pleaded.

Rainbow remained obstinate, torn between her desire to help and simply heading back below. But while Rarity tried to get Rainbow to move, the sailor turned and watched the crew of his ship fasten hooks to hold the two airships together for the time being. “I’m mighty appreciative of this, Captain,” he said, smiling at High Winds. “Your ship sure is a beauty.”

High Winds turned back to the sailors and returned the smile. “Finest ship in the fleet. We can accommodate anything your captain or your crew needs while you repair your freighter, if necessary.

The sailor chuckled. “A luxury liner, eh? Might just take you up on that offer.”

High Winds opened his mouth to chuckle, but it never came. Instead, the sailor reached down to his belt and drove a screwdriver into High Winds’ neck.

In that instant, chaos exploded across the decks of both ships. Pegasi dropped out of the clouds brandishing swords and primitive firearms, quickly securing the deck of the Concordia. More ponies jumped decks from the freighter to the luxury liner with weapons, screaming and shouting as they subdued the Concordia’s startled crew. And where an Equestria flag once fluttered from the freighter’s balloon, a pegasus took it down and replaced it with a skull and crossbones.

It was a trap, and the Concordia fell right into its snapping jaws.

“Oh my, Celestia!” Rarity screamed, falling to the deck as pirates descended on her and Rainbow, brandishing swords. Several ran past her and down the stairs, and she could hear more screaming from inside as the pirates began seizing control of the ship. More went straight to the bridge, and a desperate revving of the ship’s engines fell silent a moment later. The prize was theirs.

Rainbow Dash snapped her wings open to take flight and perhaps do something stupid like try to fight off the pirates, but before she could, a red magical aura enveloped her and slammed her back into the deck. Dazed, Rainbow tried to stand, but a burgundy hoof stepped on her wing, pinning her to the ground.

Rarity looked up from where she huddled on the ground and gasped. Standing over Rainbow was a large, nearly crimson unicorn, with a shaggy coat and wearing an old tricorn hat. A pair of swords and a quartet of flintlocks hung from the unicorn’s flanks and chest, and her face was covered in old scars. Gray eyes and a naturally gray mane completed the raider’s sneering appearance, but after a moment, that turned into a predatory smile.

“My name is Captain Squall,” she said with a wicked grin. “Welcome to my new ship.”

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