• 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.

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Chapter 4

On the third morning since Mahan’s disappearance, Walker nosed back into her Menjangan anchorage. As suspected, Mahan wasn't there, but the confirmation deepened the gloom.

“Drop anchor. Repairs are priority, but keep the guns manned,” Matt said.

Shinya worked in the machine shop, fixing the traverse gear for the number three gun. Garrett had reported its damage just before Twilight came aboard, but Matt hadn't been willing to lose a gun for the few hours it'd take until learning about Nightmare Moon. Even then, he only gave the green light when they had stopped. Matt respected the Japanese lieutenant, and Gray was openly hostile, but Bernard Sandison actually liked him. Both men loved machines, and a growing friendship had begun to surface. If anyone could thaw the bitter ice between the former opponents, it was the torpedo officer.

Spanky finished repairing the number two boiler and patching the forward fireroom. There was nothing for number one, and besides, he'd cannibalized it to revive two. Eventually, he'd replace it with temporary fuel bunkers until they could rebuild the boiler from scratch. At least they had more scrap to fix other things with now, too.

Twilight practiced using the number one gun with Silva after morning GQ. She wanted to feel useful during a fight, but her magic was so limited that she had to resort to conventional means. Her resolve to prevent whatever her dream showed her was stronger than steel, so she started strength conditioning with Alden after lunch as well.

Gray watched the princess rapidly become a formidable fighter. She was by no means a true warrior, but her quick adaptation to the changing environment still unnerved him, as did her resolve. Not even Matt ever became as serious as she was now, and he'd fought through the kaleidoscope of Amagi’s guns and the frustrations of the Asiatic Fleet. No air cover, malfunctioning torpedoes, and dud rounds were just a few of those frustrations that plagued the Allied defense of the Dutch East Indies. Maybe she was using a spell to help her. That idea was scary enough.

His suspicions were seemingly confirmed that night. Twilight wolfed down a couple sandwiches (not that that wasn’t the norm on this ship) and headed for bed. Gray followed her, but leaned on the bulkhead to give her privacy in her own quarters. Perking his ears, he heard her talking to someone. Odd. Both nurses were in the wardroom behind him.

“Twilight, where are you? Luna tells me that you never reached Manehattan. You're four days late.”

“Princess Celestia, I'm so sorry. I lost nine of the crates. The Friendship sank after a storm a few days ago, and my rescuers were only able to find one before bringing me to their ship.”

“All but one were lost?” Celestia’s face was stern.

“Yes. Nine of the ten are at the bottom of the sea.”

“Who are these rescuers? I must reward them for their service.”

“They are the crew of the United States Navy destroyer Walker. From what I’ve heard, they started in an ‘Asiatic Fleet,’ but were attached to something called ‘ABDAFLOAT’--American, British, Dutch, Australian-- to defend some group of islands around this ‘Java Sea’ until they were whisked to the world I'm now in. They took heavy damage and casualties before finding me, and they've recently lost their sister ship Mahan and its crew as well.”

“All the more reason to reward them well, Twilight Sparkle. They chose to rescue you when they themselves had lost so much.”

“I wish I could, honestly. I just don’t have anything to do it with.”

“I’m sorry for asking, but did you not say Equestria, or even Equus? That is the world, is it not?”

“No, Princess Celestia, it isn’t. The storm that sank the Friendship transported me to another world, one that is different from our own in very fundamental ways.”

“I understand that much. In that case, I shall divert resources towards bringing you home.” Celestia tensed. “Twilight, I can sense the Caldera Island magic in the spell you have cast. Why are you using it and not the magic you have?”

“It is the magic I have.”

“How is that possible? You have your own reserves and ambient magic to use.”

“I poured my reserves into the container. Everything I do now, I do without my reserves.”

“And ambient magic?”

“There is none.”

Silence. Even Gray was shocked by that admission, despite already knowing it. The flat, deadpan statement probably rocked Celestia to her core.

Finally, there was a response. “I-I don't know what to say.”

“Princess Celestia,” Twilight began in a soft tone, “I know you feel responsible for the mess I’m in. But if you let that control you, Equestria could fall apart around you. Since I have to ration what magic I have, this is probably the last time I’ll see you. Please, tell my parents I love them. And my Shining Armor. All my friends and family deserve to know what happened..”

“My dear Twilight…”

“I’ll be fine. My new friends are experts at defending themselves. Sergeant Alden is an elite amphibious soldier from a country well-versed in combat. Captain Reddy is an excellent commander. Lieutenant Tucker is an esteemed healer. Mr. McFarlane is a redneck engineer of sorts, keeping this outdated thirty-year-old rust bucket from sinking. Mr. Gray, the bosun, is a formidable bear of a man! And Mr. Silva could probably defeat an entire city if one of us is in danger. Everyone else is just as qualified for their jobs. I couldn’t ask for a better group of alien friends to protect me.”

“But no magic…”

“Princess Celestia. Please.” Twilight began to tear up. “Just stay strong. Maybe I’ll come home in a storm or something.”

The apparition of Celestia covered her former student in its wings. “I will, for Equestria’s sake. And I will tell your family. I will bring you back home, my” --she smiled-- “former student. Perhaps your own pupil, Sunset Shimmer, may help. I shall ask her what she knows about this Walker you speak of. In the meantime, stay alive. It would be of grave misfortune if we were to bring you home only to find that you had been lost.”

“Don’t worry, Princess. I have Mr. Scott.” She blushed slightly at this, but her recognition was well-founded--he’d saved her life! With a nod from her mentor, she ended the spell. A few moments later, Gray heard her curse softly. “Damn! That knocked it down to ninety-five percent. No more interdimensional communications spells unless it’s absolutely necessary.” That last bit was almost resigned, almost regretted.

Gray stifled a sniff. Twilight had just lost her world completely. Of course, with that weird spell, she had to run out of magic for that to happen, but she’d just resolved to not use it. That had to be a tough call, hence why she hadn’t used it earlier. Then the curtain ruffled and he acted like he was just passing by to avoid an awkward spying moment as best he could.

“Chief Gray. I didn’t expect you down here,” the princess said as she stepped into the hall, nearly walking into him.

“It’s nothing, Miss Twilight. Messing with your magicky stuff?” he replied, trying to sound as amiable as possible. For once, he hoped his condescending tone didn’t betray him. As it was, he only sounded close to berating instead of jumping straight to a fear-inspiring bellow.

“Yes. I remembered a spell that could, theoretically, allow me to talk across dimensions. But it costs so much magic, I was afraid I’d use all I had just trying to cast it. Thankfully, that didn’t happen, but I can’t use it again, not if I want to have some magic at all.”

“So, a final talk with home?”

“Yes.” She paused, gathering her thoughts. “Do you have anyone back home, Mr. Gray?”

“Not really. Maybe the Boy, but I haven’t heard from him since Pearl Harbor. He was in Oklahoma when she capsized after the Japs bombed her.”

“You had a son?”

He nodded grimly. “I did.” His mind raced to think of a different subject, and it latched onto the first thing it could remember. “I might’ve caught a bit of that conversation with your princess by accident. She special?”

“Princess Celestia has been my teacher since I was a little filly. I’ve never let her down, nor has she me. We have sort of a… mother-daughter relationship, if you know what I mean.” Gray nodded. “I promised her I’d get the magic to Princess Luna, but I’ve failed! Now all of Equestria is in jeopardy because I represent the Element of Magic and the other five Elements of Harmony don’t work without Magic and I’m not in Equestria and--”

Gray placed his finger on her mouth in a “be quiet” gesture. “I don’t need to hear it. Just don’t blubber all that in front of Mr. Bradford. It might start a discussion you’ll never leave.” He mentally checked the time. “Evening GQ’s going to sound in a couple minutes. Saw you didn’t have a station this morning.”

“Where should I go? I’ve never been on a dedicated warship during a battle.”

“Head to the bridge first. There’s a spare helmet in the locker near the back. Should be a good fit. Rogers’ head wasn’t all that big. After that, I want you on the number three gun. Silva will show you the ropes, and I’ve cleared it with the Skipper. You’ll be trainer, moving the gun where he tells you.”

Twilight was about to ask why there was a spare helmet for a guy named Rogers, but decided against it. Instead, she said clung to the last thing Gray had said. “You mentioned me being on one of the big guns, correct?” Gray wheeled his hand in a confirming, “keep going” gesture. “Everyone on the guns is big. Why put me in their midst?” Her hidden meaning was clear: Those are the rambunctious guys. You’re putting me in the middle of them. And I know why they look at me.

“I’m swapping some of them onto numbers one and four. Those are the most exposed guns. You should be relatively safe on number three with Silva next to you. He’s arguably the biggest problem out of all them in ordnance, but he’ll behave himself if he doesn’t want in the water--which I can guarantee he doesn’t!” There was a devilish chuckle at that, but it was serious. Any slight against Twilight could be met with extreme prejudice, and even a second in the water was certain death. She was horrified by the consequences, but understood her position. She really couldn’t argue against being under the direction (and therefore, protection) of one of the toughest men on the ship.

“But why must I be on the gun? I’d be better protected if I was in the wardroom with Lieutenant Tucker and Ensign Theimer, or maybe on the auxiliary conn with Lieutenant Dowden.”

“You need to know how to man the guns. Everyone here can do at least a half-decent job at anything on the ship they’re not assigned to, and that’s because that’s what it’s taken to keep this old girl afloat and fighting. Anyone up here can jump down below and run the boilers and vise versa, theoretically. They won’t do it all that well, but they’ll do it. With the wardroom good to go, we need someone who can help us on whatever we need--as long as it’s not indecent.”

“Won’t this scandalize the crew or something? It looks like only males fight in your world.”

“Yes, and that’s mostly true. It scandalizes me, and I’m the one who asked the Skipper for the go-ahead. He doesn’t like it, but he recognizes the necessity. Spanky will, too, after a fashion.” He chuckled at that. The skinny engineering officer was a hardcore traditionalist. “We’re just… not used to women aboard, much less part of the crew, but we’ll get used to it.”

“I understand, Chief--” she began, but was interrupted by the general alarm. Gray’s reaction was simple: he strode up to the deck, where he could abuse his deck division. Twilight stood stunned for a split second afterward, then she sprinted to the pilothouse, grabbed the spare helmet out of the locker, and raced to the number three gun on the amidships deckhouse, just forward of Lanier’s galley. By the time she reached it, her helmet was secured at a jaunty angle and her long hair was tied into a messy bun.

“There you are, you sweet little gunnery princess!” Silva called. “Just stand right there by the training lever.” He gestured to the spot and watched attentively as she lightly stepped into line, completely disregarding his attempt to woo her. “Alright,” he continued as Tom Felts slammed the loaded breech closed, “left, left… good! Up, up, no, too far! Down… good!” He beamed. “You’re picking this stuff up right quick!”

“I learn from the best,” she replied, but Silva paid no attention if he heard it. He was signaling to Garrett that his gun was ready for action.

In the pilothouse, Matt waited as the divisions reported in. After a few minutes, the last division, Sandison’s torpedo men, finished. They were usually at Gray’s disposal since there were only three working torpedoes left (Two more were in the shop. One had a crumpled warhead, while the other didn't have a tag describing its problems).

“All stations manned and ready, Captain,” his talker, young Fred Reynolds, reported.

Matt looked at his watch. Longer than he’d like, but still extremely quick, considering how shorthanded every station was. “Very well. We’ll go to Condition III, manning half the guns--one and four should be fine--in two hours. Until then…” He shrugged.

Half an hour of tense readiness passed before Karen popped her head up the ladder and tentatively pushed a carafe of steaming coffee towards the captain like she was sacrificing it to a bloodthirsty god. When he walked to pick it up, she disappeared down the ladder with an “oh” on her face.

“Coffee’s here,” he muttered. He filled his cup and offered it to the other tired men. Gray was the only one to accept it, and he took one for Garrett on the fire-control platform above. Matt sighed contentedly, sitting back in his chair on the forward-right side of the pilothouse. This coffee was better than Juan’s. Definitely. He looked out on the mesmerizing, moonlit ocean for a few hours, not even noticing the watch change and securing from GQ. He even dozed off about midnight.

Reynolds’ relay from the lookout startled him out of his nap. “Captain, lookout reports surface target bearing one-five-nine! Mr. Garrett ranges it at five thousand yards and is directing guns one, three, and four to point.”

“Acknowledged.” Matt sheepishly hurried to the starboard bridge wing and raised a pair of binoculars, looking aft. The pair’s magnification power turned the miniscule haze on the dim but oranging eastern horizon into… something. What that something could do was beyond him. It looked like a cross between an oversized angel with sooty dark bat wings--kinda like some weird, perverted alteration of Twilight. Unlike the purple princess, however, this one was black with long, starry-night hair that twisted and blended perfectly into the sky behind it. Its turquoise eyes were split by vertical slits, and midnight-blue magic swirled around its hands. How the lookout spotted it was irrelevant, as Matt felt a instinctual, nightmarish chill run down his spine when it looked back at him through his own binoculars.

“Sound general quarters,” he almost whispered.

Author's Note:

Honestly, I'd make it longer, but I can't seem to get that last 700 words of story-enhancing filler. So here I am, ending the chapter at 2600 words. It's a lot shorter than I want it, but I've always liked starting combat at the beginning of a chapter instead of in the middle.

I've always seen Twilight as a pragmatist, so that's the other reason as to she's doing all this training with Alden. It irks her to not do anything and to be helpless.

Lastly, I'll try to answer any questions about the story ASAP, as always, and I'll see you in two weeks when the next update comes out.