• Published 25th Jun 2018
  • 282 Views, 32 Comments

A Tempest Tossed - LotusTeaDragon

Violet Tempest must stop a violent storm from destroying Equestria!

  • ...

Chapter Three

Chapter Three

Aboard the Equestrian Command Cruiser Mare Nobilium
4:15 PM, Manehattan Time

"Attention, all hooves, this is the Captain: All required hooves to flight quarters. This is not a drill. Repeat: All required hooves to flight quarters. This is not a drill."

A klaxon whooped for several seconds before going silent. Moments later, there was a knock at Violet's cabin door.

Violet sat up on her bed. "Come in," she called.

The door was pushed aside as a pegasus guard in purple armor stepped inside.

"Excuse me, Professor Tempest, but the Captain has called both Princess Twilight and yourself to the bridge. I am to escort you there."

Violet grabbed her notes from the bed, shoved them into her carry-on satchel, and jumped to her hooves. She followed the guard out of her cabin.

She could see Twilight's cabin across the narrow hallway, its door already open and its occupants gone.

"Can I ask what's happening?" she inquired of her escort.

The guard spoke without looking backward. "We are approaching Manehattan airspace, Ma'am."

Violet's heart began to thump just a little harder inside of her chest. "What was it the Captain was saying in his announcement just now?"

The guard turned his head slightly to respond as they began to climb the stairs to the next deck.

"The Captain called for flight quarters. That means they're preparing a pegasi crew to scout current conditions."

Violet frowned. "Isn't that something they should do before we get too close to Manehattan, just in case?"

The royal guard merely shrugged his shoulders as they took the next flight up. "I can't rightly say, Professor, you'll probably have to ask the Captain."

"Well, I-" Violet's response was interrupted as the ship shuddered hard, heeling slightly to the starboard side before righting itself. She found herself being supported by the guard as he braced himself against the railing.

"Good Goddess, what was that?!" she exclaimed getting back to her hooves, a slight blush on her face.

"That was the storm, ma'am."

As they resumed their route to the bridge, Violet felt perturbed by the possibility of what they were getting themselves into.

"We're here." The guard stepped to one side as the bridge door was opened by one of the ship's crew. Violet hesitated a moment, and then stepped inside.

The bridge was a flurry of activity. Crewponies operating stations that lined the curved walls of the room, communications ponies with headsets fueled by magic crystals that allowed them to talk to the pegasus scouts who had just been sent out to patrol the storm that lay ahead of them.

Through the view port at the front of the bridge, Violet could see black clouds near the horizon. A shiver ran down her spine as she realized they were getting closer to it with every second.

The Mare Nobilium was a fast vessel, one of the fastest in the Night Fleet. Princess Luna had commissioned it herself a few years after her return from the Moon. It was designed to be a command cruiser, a battleship, and a scout all in one, which made it an all around solid choice for their mission.

Glancing away from the view port, she saw the Captain, and Twilight, standing at a small table in the center of the bridge just a few lengths behind the helm. Twilight was using her magic to hold a quill as she appeared to scribble details of something on a map.

As she approached them, Violet saw that the map was the same topographical representation of Manehattan she and Twi had pored over earlier that morning in her quarters. Since then, Twilight had crammed the margins with her precise horn writing, clearly coming up with a number of fresh ideas for how to approach the storm.

"Oh, Violet, you're here!"

Violet jumped at the sudden acknowledgment. So caught up was she in the ominous presence of the storm, she hadn't even noticed Twilight sidling up next to her and placing her hoof on Violet's shoulder.

Twilight continued her discussion with the Captain, while Violet's eyes stayed trained on the maelstrom sitting just beyond the horizon. She knew they were getting closer with each passing second.

"...find the core and disperse it with that same wing." Twilight's voice broke into her thoughts.

"Wait, what?" Violet asked the purple mare.

Twilight gave her a confused look, and smiled.

"I was just telling the Captain that once we penetrate the core of the storm, we can dispatch the pegasus teams to break it up."

Violet was silent for a moment.

Twilight fidgeted. "Is there something wrong, Violet?"

Violet, for her own sake, was lost in thought. Something had been nagging her ever since the initial mission had been set in motion. It had bothered her when Princesses Luna and Twilight laid out their plans. It had poked at her subconscious when they had settled aboard ship and began formulating theories behind the origins of the storm.

Now it was pushing hard against the back of her mind.

"Well..." she began.

It made its way to the front.

"I was wondering, Twilight, er, Princess," she began, remembering that they were in mixed company, and formality was a necessity when dealing with the chain of command.

"Go on." Twilight urged after a pause.

Violet continued. "It's probably nothing, and you may have already mentioned it, but if it's so simple that we can disperse it with a pegasi weather team, why didn't the teams based in Manehattan manage to control it? There must have been a dozen teams in the air at any given time."

Twilight furrowed her brow. Violet had raised an excellent point. What had happened to the pegasi weather teams?

Violet glanced at Twilight, who was deep in thought.

"I think I have an idea, Princess," she began.
Twilight glanced up, and focused on the young mare. "What is it, Violet?"

She cleared her throat to remove the wavering quality that always managed to find its way in there when she had to address royalty, even royalty she knew before they were royalty.

Violet continued. "I'm uncertain that it's quite as simple as sending a team of pegasi into the maelstrom."

She ambled over to the map, and pointed a foreleg at an area right above Manehattan's Central Park.

"If you'll notice here, Princess, right below Central Park is a subterranean weather post. It was designed as a forward station in the event we ever experienced another blizzard like the one we saw hit back in 741. Back then, we were still working on snow wrangling to protect the logging camps we had in that neck of the woods."

Twilight nodded. "I remember reading about that in 'The Wild Winter Woes of Wind Wrangler.'

Violet nodded. "Correct, Princess. Well, these days, it's used as an archive for atmospheric data."

Twilight blinked when nothing else was forthcoming.

"Is that all you wanted to say?" she asked.

Violet started. "Oh, sorry Twil-er, Your Highness, I assumed you knew this part of the story, what with your comprehensive grasp of Manehattan's history."

Twilight chuckled. "Well, comprehensive, perhaps, but not quite omniscient."

Violet shrugged. "You could have fooled me."

Twilight rolled her eyes and gave the mare a half smile.

Violet didn't notice the look as she laid out her theory.

"Somewhere in that archive is an old mana crystal that was once used to fuel a series of weather balloons that acted as bulwarks against low level clouds that would drift in from the Celestial Sea. One of those balloons still exists to this day, and it's linked to the crystal."

Twilight nodded. "I'm still following."

Violet grunted in the affirmative. "Once the maelstrom hit, that balloon would have fired off a signal to the crystal, and would have alerted Manehattan, and the surrounding area, that a storm system was inbound."

She tapped the map. "Nopony received that signal."

Twilight frowned. The likelihood of a mana crystal being signal blocked was rather improbable. They acted directly on the transmission of information via natural ley lines.

She looked at Violet. "One of those ley lines runs under Central Park.

Violet nodded.

Twilight frowned. "Do you think it means something is blocking the ley line itself?"

Violet scratched her mane, pondering the question. "No..." she began, "I don't think it blocked the ley line, because if it could we would be facing something even more dangerous than initially thought. Something with enough power to block a ley line would be more powerful than the energy produced by our own Sun."

She scratched at her chin in deep thought, a gesture she had picked up from her sister-in-law.

"No, it would have to be something else. Something..."

She looked at Twilight with a start. "Twi," she said, forgetting all formalities, "remember in the meeting, what Luna said? She said communication in and out of the city was non-existent?"

Twilight nodded. "I remember," she confirmed.

Violet sat on her haunches, using her forelegs to emphasize her point. "What if the reason we're experiencing total silence from Manehattan is because something isn't blocking the ley lines, it's draining them?"

Twilight's expression was one of shock. "Violet, draining a ley line is simply not possible. Ley lines are more than just magical highways, they're thaumic generators. It would take a-"

She was interrupted as the deck lurched downward. Twilight tumbled backward, slamming hard against the helm.

"Twilight!" Violet called out as she stumbled, managing to grab the leg of the map table as the ship began charging and bucking like an angry bull at the Baltimare Red Cape Festival.

The lights dimmed as klaxons began sounding overhead, their wail deafening the ponies on the bridge. In the chaos, she could hear Captain Copperpot yelling orders over the ship's intercom, as crewponies moved swiftly about the bridge.

A loud groaning could be heard echoing from belowdecks as Violet felt the thrum of the ship's quad General Equestrian 90-115B engines gradually become a hard, vibrating shudder. Their collective might straining to keep the vessel upright and level.

The ship bucked once, then twice, and finally on the third drop, a loud rumble echoed throughout the bridge. Violet held tight to the table leg as the ship began to move into a yaw pattern. A screech of metal ran its tendrils up her spine.

"...lost the engines, Captain!" she heard the shout from one crewpony over the din as the ship began to shimmy as the ship began to pitch upward.

Violet took the opportunity of momentum to pull herself to her hooves, still clinging tightly to the map table. From her position, she now had a better view of the bridge. Smoke was everywhere, with tiny fires in sections where mana batteries had exploded.

She turned just in time to get a look outside the bridge viewport, and her blood ran cold. They were right upon the storm. Either they had reached it, or it had reached them, but it didn't matter, because it was here.

Her reflection was short lived, as the ship began to angle downward. Violet's stomach churned as she realized the ship's heliox envelope had been punctured. Severely if they were losing height this rapidly, and that they were going down.

The ship shuddered hard once again as it picked up speed. She noticed immediately that the prow of the ship could be seen edging back above the horizon. Violet looked over to the helm, and saw the helmspony desperately pulling hard on the controls, his face straining from the effort.

A flame of hope erupted in her chest, as she began to feel the ship level out. It lasted exactly two seconds, at which point the lights went out. A second later, the emergency illumination crystals came to life, bathing the bridge in harsh, blood red hues.

The ship once more began to angle downward.

"All hands, brace for impact!" came the voice of the helmspony. In all the confusion, Violet couldn't see the Captain, or Twilight, but she heeded the command and wrapped herself around a nearby support beam, praying to Celestia as the ship began to pick up speed as it made its run for the hard earth below.

She could hear the wind shrieking outside the bridge, as the viewport shattered from the pressure, glass scattering everywhere.

Violet had no time to protect herself as the ship made a final shudder before lurching to starboard, forcing her to lose her grip on the support beam, and leaving her holding nothing but empty air to grip onto. As she felt herself floating backward, she glanced up to see the ground speed towards her.

Somewhere in the back of her mind, she registered the scent of new rain on fresh soil before her vision started going black.