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

A Tempest Tossed - LotusTeaDragon

Violet Tempest must stop a violent storm from destroying Equestria!

  • ...

Chapter Six

Chapter Six

City of Manehattan
Time: Dawn

"I've packed the last of the supplies, have you figured out where you wanted to start searching?" Candela asked as she loaded two canteens into her saddlebags.

Violet hobbled into the anteroom, supporting herself on the short, fat stick Candela had found for her while scrounging together their supplies from the old utility shed attached to the building. She had managed to fasten an old rag around the hilt in order to prevent it from digging into her leg joint.

"Do you really think I need this thing?" she asked Candela, her tone exasperated.

"Yes, and you shouldn't complain. We're going to have to make the best time we can, because I can't promise you we'll find much of anything in this weather." She fastened the latches on her saddlebags, and looked at Violet.

"You were near death when I found you, and I don't want to see it happen. I've already invested good food and clean bandages into you, so I expect some kind of return on that investment. Now," she added, placing a foreleg on their cargo, "you were saying about search plans?"

Violet let a half grin appear on her muzzle as she shifted her weight from one hoof to the other. "I don't really know this area of Manehattan very well, to be honest," she said with a tinge of disappointment in her voice, "but if we follow the classic patterns used in standard search and rescue operations, we're bound to encounter somepony or something that will lead us to the wreck."

The last word came out haltingly. Only now, as they prepared to embark on their rescue mission did she really stop and think about what she expected to find out in the wild wind and rain. Somewhere in the fog and confusion of a maelstrom were the remains of a once proud command ship, and Celestia knows what else.

Candela made her way around the small table upon which her saddlebags had been sitting, and pulled Violet into a hug. Not one second had passed before she felt the sobs start working their way out of her newfound friend.

"It's okay, sweetheart," her voice soothingly soft, and a foreleg stroking the younger mare's withers. "We're going to find your friends, and we're going to find your ship. Okay?"

For a moment there was no response other than the muffled crying, and then she felt the nod against her shoulder. She smiled to herself as she hugged Violet a little tighter.

"Good," Candela said as patted Violet on the top of her head like one would a keening foal. If it had been any one of her friends, she would have been annoyed, but Violet rather liked the kind and gentle gesture. It spoke well of Candela that her immediate response to stressful situations was to comfort those around her.

Violet pulled away from her as gently as possible. She looked at Candela's shoulder and sighed. "I'm sorry," she said to the older mare, "I seem to have stained your fur with my, uh..."

Candela glanced at her right shoulder and chuckled. "It's okay, Violet. I've had much, much worse."

Violet used her left wing to unwrap the rag from her support stick, and dabbed at the stains on Candela's fur.

Candela couldn't help but chuckle inwardly as she watched the pegasus concentrate on drying her fur, mostly because as she focused on the worst of the staining, her tongue would stick out, and it was much too cute to ignore.

Another hoofful of seconds passed, and Violet was done. "Well," she said, "it won't win any awards, but I think we can brave the elements free of incriminating stains."

Candela raised an eyebrow. "You mean the elements like wind and rain?"

Violet nodded. "Yeah... those." She put a hoof against her forehead. "I'm a goof."

Candela laughed hard. Perhaps it was the tension of knowing what they were about to attempt, or just being delighted in the company of so cute a mare, but Candela let out a belly laugh that caught Violet off guard, and whose only response was to blush.

"It wasn't really that funny, was it?" she said, her ears folding down as she pawed at the old, chipped floor with a forehoof.

Candela's laughter died down to a chuckle, and she shook her head. "No, my dear, it probably wasn't," she said with a warm smile, "but I think when it comes to you, exceptions should always be made. I promise I wasn't laughing at you, just at how sweet you are."

That brought on another blush, and Violet broke eye contact with the earth mare, instead choosing to focus on the crudely drawn map she had thought out the night before.

"Okay, down to business then," she stated in an effort to cool the blush and change the subject. "You said that about 200 paces from here is a large concrete bunker?

"Correct," she stated, nodding her head in confirmation. "It was used as a fallout shelter toward the start of the mage wars, during the reign of Discord."

"Back when the royal archmages attempted to seize power?" asked Violet.

"Indeed," came Candela's reply. "By the end, mana bombs had become a grim reality, and ponies had to huddle together in these shelters in order to avoid the worst of the damage."

Violet nodded. "Then we'll start there, and see if anypony found it and decided to use it as a command post, or simply as a rescue shelter until the worst of the storm passed."

The weak overhead lighting chose that moment to wink out, and then back on.

"Whenever that is," Candela said mostly to herself, as she stared at the ceiling.

"Okay, so bunker first. Now," she continued, pointing at the second dot that had been drawn on the map, "we can move from there and make our way over to this location, which is an old general store. You said it had a basement."

Candela leaned over Violet's shoulder and hummed for a moment as she took in the location pinpointed on the map. "Yes, it's an old storage cellar," she said, the breath from her muzzle tickling Violet's ear. She was amused to watch the ear flick back and forth for a moment, its owner too focused to notice.

Candela couldn't help but breathe in Violet's scent. She probably hadn't showered in days, but there was no real odor. Instead, her scent reminded the earth mare of a sunny day on the beach, with the salt tinged air that excited the lungs, and the crisp ocean breeze that lifted the spirit.

She realized she had missed the third location. "I'm sorry, I didn't catch that," she said, her tone apologetic.

Violet looked up and nearly bumped her head into Candela's muzzle.

They both stepped away quickly in order to avoid bruised noggins.

"I was, uh, just saying that our third location is here," she indicated, her voice flustered but her hoof landing squarely on target where the library stood. Once stood? Who knew?

"We can reach the library, and hole up in the receiving area in back. You said the doors to the receiving dock are reinforced?" asked Violet.

Candela nodded. "Yes, we had to install them once ponies started stealing palettes of books."

Violet frowned. "What kind of pony steals books? Wait, what do you mean we?" she asked, her frown lessening into an expression of confusion.

Candela nodded. "Oh, I didn't tell you?" she polished a forehoof before continuing. "My dear, you are looking at the head librarian of the Manehattan Public Library. I have held that position for 11 years, 8 months, three day-, are you drooling?" she asked, as she looked back up at her companion.

Violet had indeed started drooling. Fortunately, she apparently caught herself after a few brief moments and had the good grace to wipe the excess from her muzzle. No hoofshakes with that foreleg, Candela told herself, her inner voice choosing that moment to be cheeky.

"I'm sorry, I've been recovering in the home of the head librarian?!" Violet asked incredulously. "Why didn't you tell me sooner?"

Candela shrugged. "It never came up. I was more concerned with keeping you comfortable and, to be honest, this place doesn't really fit the profile of a head librarian, does it?"

Violet's expression was rueful as she nodded. "I guess it's not as glamorous as I imagined, that's for sure."

Candela grinned. "Oh, this isn't my house, honey, this is an old storage facility. I keep my old things here. A few months ago, the owner started building in basic amenities when he realized he could make more bits by rezoning them as luxury apartments."

Violet blinked.

Candela wriggled her eyebrows.

They both started laughing from the sheer silliness of it.

"Only in Manehattan," Candela added with a shrug of her shoulders, and a twinkle in her eye.

Once the laughter died down, and it did fairly quickly all things considered, Violet folded up the map and slid it into Candela's saddlebags.

"Are you sure you don't want me to carry those?" the pegasus mare asked.

Candela looked at Violet as if she'd grown a 3rd wing. "Are you serious? Your ribs have only started to truly heal, and you require a cane to walk properly."

Violet rolled her eyes. "I know I'm not in top shape, but I can still carry something."

Candela shook her head, her expression resolute. "No way. You're going to put everything you've got into our plan. Only once we're at the library can we use the communications equipment to summon help."

Violet sighed in resignation. "Fine," she said at last, displeasure evident in her voice, "but once we're there, I expect for you to let me help you. I feel like a lazy lump."

Candela smiled. "An adorable lazy lump."

Violet snorted at the compliment, but you could clearly see the blush forming on her cheeks.

"Alright," she said, "enough horsing around. Let's roll."

Candela nodded, her face all business, and she lead them both to a small hallway that lead up to a flight of stairs. She turned to her partner.

"Remember, once I open this door, we're committed, because I doubt I'll be able to get it shut again. Do you think you're ready?"

Violet nodded. "Yeah, I'm ready."

"Good," Candela replied as she pulled a rope from her saddlebags. It had been tied into two loops, with a short length in-between of about one meter.

As she placed the first loop around Violet's right foreleg, pulling it up her elbow and tightening the first loop, she added, "Just remember: 20 paces forward, 100 paces to the right. Try to keep close, but if you get turned around, tug hard on the rope, I'll stop and we'll get coordinated."

She pulled the second loop up above her own elbow, and tightened it. "I don't know how long we'll last in this kind of weather, since I couldn't find any actual protective gear, so the faster we move and find our first stop on the map, the better."

Candela then looked Violet directly into her blue eyes. "One more thing: don't try to be brave, okay? Don't think you can tackle all of this on your own. I know pegasi, and I know you like to take on the world. This storm is different. I've never seen anything like it, and I figure you've never seen anything like it. Just stick with me, and we'll get there alright."

Violet nodded and began psyching herself out. She was a pegasus, weather was in her blood. She could handle a little rain and wind, and she could do it while working with her new friend. They could do it, they could do it, they could do it.

"Go!" came the command a second later. The door was shoved open, and was immediately ripped from its rusting hinges, making the entryway into an archway.

The pair moved forward into the blinding rain and gale force winds, and the shroud enveloped them.