• Published 4th Feb 2018
  • 1,484 Views, 208 Comments

My Little Destroyermen: Walker on Water - The Atlantean



The magic of a sudden squall is all that's needed to send Twilight Sparkle into an alternate world where everything wants to eat her. Along with the similarly displaced crew of USS Walker, she tries to survive the danger as it whittles their numbers.

  • ...
10
 208
 1,484

Chapter 3

Chack Sab-At, one of the runners for the great wings of Salissa Home, sulked his missed chance. Up here, almost a hundred fifty tails above the main deck, he could be alone with his thoughts Of course Selass would use him to get to Saak-Fas. He should’ve known. Both of them had fallen for her ruse, he realized with bitter embarrassment. But he was young and strong, with a wide choice of eligible mates, and a first son as well. He expected to go far, even though his sister Risa was closer to succeed their mother as chief of the forward wing runner clan. When a new Home was built in a season or two, he’d likely become fas chief of the center wing. He was, after all, the best wing runner on Salissa.

But maybe Selass really did dislike him. The hereditary nature of the “nobility” was rarely altered, but it could still happen. Then he’d just stay here on Salissa, while Selass’s father, the High Chief, made his life miserable. After all, High Chiefs could confirm and deny successions, and banish, too.

Keje-Fris-Ar was sovereign and held the power of life and death over all of them. If Keje truly disliked him, life would begin to get a lot more disappointing in the future. But he was a benevolent ruler, Chack knew, and would never carry out some personal vendetta based on his daughter’s whim. But Chack was deep in self-pity and didn’t feel like limiting his misery to some reasonable level. He also couldn’t shake Selass’s soft, moonlight-silver fur and deep green eyes from his mind, which definitely did not help.

He glanced down. Far below, the Body of Home clan was performing its daily chores: slating fish, tending the giant garden under its protective overhangs, cleaning the deck. Normal, fair-weather times left everyday life to these monotonous but valuable tasks. The People were happy regardless of his mood, for there were no threats to anything as large as Home, aside from the rare mountain fish, land and rocky shores, and the Grik, of course.

Mountain fish were only found in the deepest of the Great Seas, where few Homes ventured, and the Sky Priests’ navigational excellence helped them avoid easily spotted land with their mystical instruments and Scrolls. When harsh weather hindered their path, wing-tip watchers like Chack would see danger soon enough for the Body of Home clan to deploy great sweeping fins that could move against all but the most furious of seas. If that failed, they dropped the huge copper feet, two on each end of Home, that secured them to the spot. Not even a strakka could defeat the feet.

The Grik were another matter altogether. The People feared them with superstitious dread, and for good reason. They were the Ancient Enemy that cast the People from their ancestral paradise long ago, far enough in the past that even the Sky Priests didn’t know. But the People had escaped, and the Grik faded into myth and legend, becoming the boogeymen of the present. If they still existed, they were across the Western Sea, where no vessel could pass, until the Grik returned barely a generation ago, shattering beliefs and awakening an instinctual dread.

Grik Homes were ridiculously small and fragile, and Salissa’s lone standoff weapons--great ballistas that could hurl a large spear a hand-span in diameter with enormous accuracy--could easily smash them to splinters. But they always attacked, never surrendered, never fled, using their maneuverable Homes to quickly close the gap and throw their several hundred crew at waiting defenders. In Chack’s first seven seasons, he’d only seen one attack, but the ferocity and thought still haunted him today. Over the next seven seasons, making him a young adult, he saw no less than six more Grik ships that attacked without fail. The damage was always minor; they could kill People and wound Salissa, but nothing more. It was like flasher-fish against gri-kakka. Maybe their dependence on land explained their madness.

Risa watched him from afar with her amber eyes, and when his attention was locked on her, she signaled her disapproval. He looked like a fool. She made jokes often, and knew when one was playing a joke, taking a joke, or becoming one. He blinked acknowledgement and went back to scanning the horizon for enemy ships. In this confined area, danger was increased tenfold, and the People could never be too careful.

Then, along the hazy shore, a puff of dark gray smoke appeared between the small island and its bigger neighbor. The impression of rapid motion and white waves grew. Then he saw it: a small shape advancing impossibly fast. Nothing could move that fast, right? Wait. Of course. He grabbed a line and slid to the deck.

“The Grik come!” he shrieked, hoping his hands didn’t burn from the friction.

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

Twilight stumbled up the ladder to the bridge, where she saw Matt focusing intensely on a hazy shape in the distance. Holding the rail, she asked, “Captain, what's going on?”

“Lookout spotted something in the distance,” he replied. “I've told Mahan to make for our rally point off Alor to the east while we deal with it. It didn't cross my mind to send you over as well--Damn! I guess you'll share our fate.”

“Bridge, lookout,” a voice came over the comm circuit, “that's no Jap battleship if I say so. It's made of wood--repeat, wood,--and it has sails.” He sounded incredulous. “Whatever it is, it's not immediately enemy.”

Matt called up to Lieutenant Garrett on the gun platform: “Hold fire! I repeat, do not shoot! Keep our guns pointed, though, just in case.”

Twilight walked onto the port bridge wing as Walker slowed to two-thirds, and was soon joined by Matt, Sandra, and Bradford. “Sweet Celestia, that’s huge!”

“You said it,” Bradford agreed.

“It’s at least as big as one of our new fleet carriers,” Matt compared. “How did they make that out of wood?”

“I honestly don’t know,” Twilight answered.

“Do you, my dear,” Bradford asked, “know of any large wooden vessels in your world?”

“No. Our biggest ships are galleons.”

“As in Spanish galleons? Perhaps Indiamen?”

“Well, they’re about a hundred fifty feet long and maybe thirty wide. Pretty tall, too.”

“I would guess. Speaking of your ships, why is it that your vessel was carrying much less than its actual capacity? As I recall, you only had ten large crates aboard.”

“Princess Celestia wanted them in Equestria as quick as possible. I was supposed to tell Princess Luna about the magic when I entered port.”

Matt tapped Courtney on the shoulder. “As interesting as that all is, you might want to take a closer look at the other ship.”

The Australian did--and instantly brought out “his” binoculars. “My goodness! They look like the giant lemurs of Madagascar, but with some feline aspects as well! An entirely new species--a sentient one--with an entire civilization, possibly language, and massive merchant vessels! This is the find of the century!”

Twilight motioned for the binoculars, which he dutifully handed over. “They do look like kitties,” she observed, “but I’ll have to trust you on what a lemur looks like, Mr. Bradford.”

Matt waved at them, seemingly out of impulse, when some important-looking cat-monkey creatures stood beside the bulwarks. Across the water, they waved back.

“Goodness! A universal gesture!” Courtney exclaimed. “My theory will certainly be going through some changes now, let me tell you.”

“Mr. Scott, bring the ship about, right full rudder. We’ll go fetch Mahan.”

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

Keje-Fris-Ar, U-Amaki Ay Salissa Home (Captain and essentially King of Salissa), sat on his favorite stool at a small table off to the side of the central hall, which was built around a great Galla tree in the middle that extended from its deep basin of dirt to to ceiling. This was his preference, to accommodate only a modest life, and he sat and ate here whenever he wasn’t required to host guests. He used the big table for that.

Across from him, the Sky Priest Adar finished his breakfast. The two were longtime friends, having known the other since childhood, and Adar knew it amused Keje to see him at this quaint little table. He cleared his throat, then asked, “So, what do you think of them?”
“An interesting species, no doubt. However, it is getting too much for me to encounter alien creatures before my morning meal. I am getting too old for this, brother,” Keje replied. The “king” of Salissa was a great bear of the People, although a bit short, and his fur was beginning to show a few salty hairs for his fortieth-season age. The rest, however, remained a reddish brown, and it covered his massive arms and slightly plump body.

Adar, on the other hand, was a metallic silver, with a long purple robe and embroidered star that matched his coat. He was tall and thin for the People, but his nearly unparalleled wisdom and knowledge of the Sacred Scrolls (at least in his Home) allowed him and his acolytes to navigate Salissa through dangerous waters. “Tail-less mariners that did not attack! One of them even gave the Sign of the Empty Hand! Surely, we’ve missed an opportunity.”

“Whatever the implications, brother, at least they did not try to kill us. That is all I know, and it will suit me thus to know that at least something in this sea is not hostile to the People.”

Adar blinked agreement. It was a good thing indeed, but he’d be giving the beings on the smoky vessel some more thought over the next couple of days.

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

Twilight slept on the bottom bunk of her quarters, with Sandra on the rack above her. Karen was in the wardroom talking with Sergeant Alden about his leg. It had been quite a weird day, especially with the giant wooden ship. Captain Reddy had made an announcement about it, but she still didn’t know what to think of that. Equestrian magic couldn’t hold something that size together for very long, and with this magic-less world, that was made even more impossible. But still, a princess needed her rest.

She was following Sunset Shimmer though the jungle. It was an awfully familiar jungle, like the one that dominated the islands of Menjangan, Bali, and Java. but she wasn’t just following. She was sprinting as fast as her legs could carry her through the thick undergrowth.

She risked a glance behind her. There was a lizard, one of the ones that tried to kill her. No, two. Three. Four! A whole squad of fuzzy lizards with a voracious appetite, going faster than she ever could.

Sunset must have turned to look, too, because she suddenly fell to the ground with a thump. The yellow-skinned, bacon-haired girl scrambled back to her feet and continued running, but there was no chance of escape. The first lizard pounced at her legs and she tripped again, screaming. She was down. They were going to kill her!

A miraculous branch fell onto the lizard that got her. Dazed, it let go. She picked up the stick and swung it in a wide arc, fending the other three back. Her leg was bleeding. With no hope of getting help, Sunset was going to bleed to death, minimum. The first lizard snarled. She swung as hard as she could, and its head snapped to the side at an unnatural angle. It plopped over onto the ground, dead.
One was on her right; one was in the middle; the last was on her left. This wouldn’t turn out well. The ones on the side pounced. Sunset jumped as high as she could and landed on them. They jerked upward, sending her flying into the center one. She fought and kicked and screamed, but to no avail. They had her.

“No! SUNSET!” Twilight cried. But no one could hear her.

The lizards dragged her, still fighting, back the way they came. She followed them, tried to punch one, but her hand went right through it. She was helpless. With an angry series of clacks and snarls, the lizards conversed.

After a dreadfully long walk, the jungle opened to an expansive beach. Twilight’s heart sank when she saw what was beyond it, however. A dozen angry red ships at anchor, each one infested with the lizards, bobbed in the waves. Rowboats plied back and forth, onloading and offloading supplies and lizards. Sunset was knocked unconscious and taken aboard one.

She tripped. Looking at what had tripped her, she saw a bone. A magic-infused bone. Equestrian magic, by the feel of it. The magic of…

She was in a sea of bones. Human bones, pony bones. There was Captain Reddy, with Sandra’s hand holding his. There was Karen and Mr. Letts together for some reason, clutching a small child’s body in their lifeless arms. Chief Gray, heavily muscled, hanging from a burning tree. Mr. McFarlane. Mr. Bradford. Mr. Scott. Mertz, Silva, Lanier, Dowden, Garrett… all dead.

Her heart stopped. A cross of wood stood before her. On it, her hands nailed to the sides and her feet to the bottom, was Princess Celestia as a human. Her pale skin sagged and her multicolored hair covered her face. She seemed dead.

Twilight slammed against the cross with all her might, and it tumbled down. On the verge of panic, she checked her mentor’s pulse. It was almost gone. She held Celestia’s hand to her face and sobbed.

“No. No, no, no, no…” Her eyes rose to the stormy gray clouds above, where a chorus of lizards feasted as the Mare in the Moon smiled cruelly at the earth. Twilight’s expression darkened with pure, bloodred rage.

Suddenly, with a flurry of fingers, Celestia drew her attention back down. “Twilight, I…” She coughed. “I…”

“Princess Celestia, you can’t die! You can’t!”

“I… I’m… I’m sorry.” Her head, tilted with her remaining strength, fell back.

“No. No! NOOOOO!” Twilight shrieked into the dim light. “CELESTIA!

“Twilight, wake up!” Sandra cried. She shook the purple woman like a rag doll. “Twilight!”

The princess shot to a sitting position, ramming her head into the upper rack. She recoiled from the pain, slumping back down into her pillow. “Ahh!”

“Bad dream?” the nurse asked.

She nodded.

Suddenly, Pete Alden burst through the curtain to the hall, pistol in hand. “You two all right?”

“Yes. Twilight just yelled in her sleep.”

“I’ll be damned if that didn’t wake half the ship. Just got around to snoozing, too.”

Matt’s disheveled face appeared after Alden left, with similar concerns. Just like the Marine, Sandra assured him it was fine. Through it all, Twilight visibly forced herself to calm down.

“Now, Twilight,” Sandra began as dawn’s early light trickled through the room’s porthole, “what did you see?”

“Sunset… Sunset was… taken by lizards. Like the ones on Menjangan. Onto ships. Red ships. Then all of you. Dead. Karen and Mr. Letts had a child. Dead. Then… then…” She began to shake uncontrollably.

Sandra considered letting it go, but she had to know what made Twilight scream so. Fortunately, she already had a rough idea of who the next person was. “It was Princess Celestia, wasn’t it?”

Twilight nodded, tears running down her cheeks. “Hanging… from…” She could barely hold back her emotions.

“From what?” Sandra patiently asked.

“A cross of wood.” Twilight started to sob.

“Oh my God, Twilight…” Sandra cried alongside her for a few minutes. “I think you may have gotten a few things from Chief Gray you didn’t mean to get.”

“What do you mean?”

“You saw her crucified. As far as I know, your world has never had such a thing, which means you could’ve only learned of it from us. You accidentally magicked some basic, albeit gruesome, knowledge of Catholicism.” She waited a minute for Twilight to digest this, as well as wipe her tears, before continuing. “Anything else?”

Twilight nodded. “Lizards were eating up in the clouds. And… I saw her… that’s impossible.”

“Saw who?”

“Nightmare Moon.”

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

“You’re telling me,” Matt said as Juan refilled everyone’s half-empty carafes of coffee, “that there’s this evil version of your mentor’s sister that also happens to be a goddess?”

“A crude description, but yes. Nightmare Moon is the darker form of Princess Luna, the younger sister of Princess Celestia,” Twilight replied.

“What is so bad about that?” Shinya asked. “It is common knowledge that your ‘Equestria’ is not this world just as much as it is not our own.”

“Nightmare Moon is not a person as you and I would perceive. She is a… I believe you call it a ‘persona,’ of pure evil rooted in jealousy against Celestia. Her original aim was to cast Equestria in eternal night--and she’s certainly capable of doing that, too! You see, Celestia uses her magic to raise and lower the sun, and Luna does the same with the moon. Nightmare Moon can easily cause eternal night simply by not lowering the moon and banishing Celestia to the sun, which she has done before. As far as I know, the only things that can defeat her are the Elements of Harmony. We’d need all six to even start, and we’d need to be in harmony, too. Needless to say, we have neither.”

“This is way to much wacko for me,” commented Spanky. He rubbed his head. “First a purple pony princess who swapped species--no offense, ma’am--then we lose Marvaney to a bunch of hairy lizards, then a big honkin’ ship made of wood, then we learn that there could be some evil pony goddess running around! That squall sure saved us without a doubt, and even cast us into another world, but it’s weird enough without pony magic.”

Courtney seemed the least estranged by the concept. If anything, he was sucked into the possibility. “Why do you think you saw this Nightmare Moon in your sleep, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Well, the liquid magic under Caldera Island was used by her. It might’ve been just knowing that. But Sunset and Celestia? It doesn’t make sense.”

“For all our sakes, I just hope that’s the case,” Matt said. “A being that can control the sun and moon. Walker can barely stand against her modern counterparts. What if we ran into this Nightmare Moon?” He gestured about as if it were obvious. “We wouldn’t survive.”

Gray cleared his throat. “Skipper, if we do end up on this thing’s bad side, we should be ready. With your permission, sir, we should sound GQ daily, at least. Standard drills, morning and evening. Maybe one around noon. At the very least, we’ll be prepared to put up a fight against this thing.”

“Right. Hopefully we’ll find Mahan before she does, or they’re dead. Any news on that, Mr. Riggs?”

“No, sir, not on that front. The radio’s fine, and we’re transmitting loud and clear. Either Mahan can’t reply, or she doesn’t want to.”

That report deepened the gloom. Then Juan reached Shinya’s carafe. He tried to pour the coffee, but his hand shook with the effort. Suddenly, he slammed his pitcher on the table. Everyone jerked their head to the noise, surprised that Juan would even let it happen.

“I’m sorry, Cap-tan,” the Filipino almost whispered. “I cannot.” He summoned what dignity he could and left the wardroom.

Matt sighed. It was never going to be easy to adapt to the changing world.

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

The next day, Walker reached Alor, where Mahan was supposed to head. She wasn’t there. They should’ve passed her already! Still, they poked around the island for a good bit. The damaged destroyer was nowhere to be found.

“Turn about,” Matt ordered resignedly, “and secure number two. We’ll see if we missed her on the way here.”

Twilight could see the agonizing decision affect the captain. Those men she hadn’t met, but they were still his men. Men he deeply cared about and felt responsible for.

Walker made a wide turn to starboard, finally settling on a western heading. Mournfully, the discrepit destroyer slowed her wind-blowing sprint to a crawl. Her disappointed crew knew what it meant. They hadn't found Mahan. With mournful gray smoke rising from her aft stacks, Walker steamed west under the midday sun.

Author's Note:

A bit shorter than the others, but I found a really nice stopping point. Actually, I found several, but this seemed to be best.

Alor is an island in Indonesia, resting on the southwest edge of the Banda Sea. It's about 1,600-1,700 kilometers east of Menjangan Island, where Walker and Mahan dropped anchor at the beginning of Chapter 1. Just for a little context on where they are. Image for you visual peeps:
A GDoc dedicated to the image cuz I can't get it to upload onto fimfiction straight from the computer for some reason. Oddly enough, the "add image" seems to only like online images.
This is why Mahan wasn't found.