• Published 2nd Jan 2012
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Once More unto the Breach - Wheller

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Chapter 1

Once More unto the Breach
Chapter 1

There was certainly nothing quite like it. What everypony was watching was not something that could not ordinarily be found in Equestria, because the pony it was happening to would was not usually put into this situation. Applejack was leaning over the railings of the ship, vomiting profusely, while Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie held onto her so that she wouldn’t fall into the water.

‘You know Dashie?’ Pinkie Pie asked. ‘We probably should have seen this coming’.

Rainbow Dash nodded her head in agreement.

‘Shuddup and keep holdin’ me!’ Applejack managed between rounds of vomiting. Thirty minutes later, and more than a hundred rounds of vomiting later, Applejack had finally emptied her stomach and Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie pulled her back over the railing. ‘Ah shouldn’t have eaten tha’ big breakfast’, Applejack mumbled as Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash set her down on the deck.

Rainbow Dash looked up into the air, the Equestrian steamship had already cleared the Fillydelphia harbour, and they were out in the open sea. The air was filled with the lapping of the giant paddle wheel at the stern of the ship. Looking up, the ship’s single, tall smoke stack was billowing a dark cloud of thick black smoke into the air. The deck was bustling with sailor ponies, going about their business. A few Pegasus ponies were in the process of hoisting the ship’s sails, intending to use the eastern wind for a little extra speed as the ship turned southeast, headed for port in Swan City, South Island. A journey that was due to take about twenty two days, not counting the scheduled stopover in Kaapstad, Zhosa-Borwa.

Rainbow Dash was a little disappointed that the trip was going to take that long, she liked going fast, and she could probably fly there in half that, maybe even less. Ships were hardly the fastest form of travel in the world, but there were some ships that were faster than others. That was what Rainbow Dash had liked about HMSIS Dash, the South Island corvette that had ferried Rainbow Dash and her friends, along with Fusilier Benjamin Willoughby to Trotterdam, though Rainbow Dash figured that they also weren’t going quite as far then, which is why that trip had only taken four days.

The ship that they were one now, the Canterlot, was an Equestrian registered steamship, normally ferrying cargo and things between ports, they had already been headed for South Island when Princess Luna had requested that they come along. Captain Farragut could hardly say no, and the steamship had taken on passengers.

Applejack was lying on her back on a chair trying not to look out at the open ocean; Rainbow Dash couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow in confusion.

‘Hey, AJ? What’s the matter? I didn’t think you were afraid of water or anything’.

‘It ain’t tha water, tha water’s fine, i’s tha lack o’ land fer hundred o’ kilometres’, Applejack said.

‘Hundreds? AJ, you’ve got no sense of scale. It’ll be thousands!’ Rainbow Dash said. She realised instantly that probably wasn’t going to help.

‘Th... thousands?’ Applejack said as she sat up, she looked out at the ocean, the Equestrian coast line was already behind the horizon and no longer visible. Applejack became incredibly dizzy and passed out on the deck chair.

Rainbow Dash couldn’t help but feel guilty about it and left Applejack alone. Rainbow Dash had already screwed things up between her friends enough.

Rarity and Fluttershy had taken to sitting on the forward deck watching as the Canterlot cut through the water, Fluttershy however, quickly became distracted and turned her head towards the smoke stack, becoming concerned that the smoke from the smoke stack wasn’t helping the environment, and likely would have entered a full on panic had Rarity not reminded her that, if anything, the carbon dioxide that the smoke stack was pumping out would be recycled into oxygen by the world’s population of trees. Fluttershy’s panic quickly subsided and she became adamant that she would plant several trees when getting home.

Pinkie Pie had taken a place on the aft deck, wishing that Twilight Sparkle were here to join them. Twilight had always talked about how she wanted to go to South Island one day, and here they were, bound for Swan City to meet up with Vinyl Scratch, Surprise, and Whirlwind. Pinkie Pie couldn’t help but feel sad, she wished Twilight was here.

Pinkie Pie’s mane and tail had still yet to return to its normal curly mess. Her mane and tail were still straighter than straight since that night Twilight had hit her. Pinkie Pie had seen what had happened to Twilight first-hoof. They needed to save her from the Tome of Alhazred and the sooner the better. Pinkie Pie couldn’t help but wonder what if they couldn’t save her? What if Twilight would never be able to go back to normal?

Pinkie Pie shook those thoughts from her head, she needed to stay positive... stay positive... stay positive... staying positive had never been so hard for the pink party pony. Pinkie Pie couldn’t get Twilight Sparkle out of her mind, and she hoped that Twilight would be okay.

Things got easier for Applejack after four days into the journey. She was able to look out onto the horizon without getting seasick.

And on the fifth day, it began to rain.

‘Ohhh... I say! Whose idea was it to schedule a storm in our path while we’re sailing!?’ Rarity cried out in frustration as she scampered about the deck holding her comically large sunhat down with her magic, lest it get blown off by the wind.

‘Weather doesn’t get managed this far out, we’ll just have to keep on trucking and ride it out!’ one of the Pegasus sailors, a white coated, grey maned Pegasus named Fairfeathers said as he and some of the other sailors pulled down the sails. The sails of the Canterlot were successfully stowed, and the crew and her passengers scampered down into the lower decks into the crew quarters at the forefront of the ship.

It was about this time when Pinkie Pie noticed, they were missing one, Rainbow Dash was nowhere to be found, Pinkie Pie attached an umbrella to her back and trotted back up to the deck. Low and behold, she discovered Rainbow Dash was sitting on the forward deck.

Pinkie Pie trotted over to her and extended the umbrella over her friend’s head. ‘Dashie? What are you doing up here?! Aren’t you cold?’ Pinkie Pie asked.

Rainbow Dash turned to Pinkie Pie and shook her head in the negative. ‘No, I’m fine! Really! I... just... I’ve just been thinking that’s all’.

Pinkie Pie sat down next to Rainbow Dash and adjusted the umbrella in a vain attempt to keep the both of them dry, eventually, Pinkie Pie gave up and did away with the umbrella all together. ‘What’s going on Dashie?’

‘It’s... about what happened with me and Twilight’, Rainbow Dash said.

‘Dashie! It wasn’t your fault! The book tricked you! You didn’t cheat on Twilight’, Pinkie Pie said, putting her hoof around her friend. ‘Stop beating yourself up! It’s not your fault!’

‘It is though Pinkie!’ Rainbow Dash said. ‘Don’t you get it? Yeah, it wasn’t real, but I would have done the exact same thing if it had been real. That book used how I felt about Whirlwind against me... and now Twilight... Twilight’s gone, it’s still my fault’.

Pinkie Pie couldn’t help but frown. ‘Dashie...’

‘So I’ve been thinking, even when... if... we save Twilight from that book, I’m pretty sure she and I are done’, Rainbow Dash said with a frown, Pinkie Pie could tell that Rainbow Dash was beginning to cry, despite the fact that rain water was splashing against her face. ‘I... Pinkie, I know how you feel about Twilight, so when we get her back... if you want to go for her, I won’t mind. You’ll be good to her, I know you will, you’ll be what she needs’.

‘Dashie! Don’t say that! You still have a chance, once she knows the truth about what happened... she’ll take you back! I know she will’ Pinkie Pie exclaimed.

Rainbow Dash turned and looked Pinkie Pie right in the eyes and frowned. ‘I don’t want her to take me back Pinkie... here’s the thing, let’s say that roles were reversed, you were Twilight’s marefriend, and you cheated on her. I wouldn’t have been able to be there for her like you were, I couldn’t have been. I’m... I’m not cut out for that kind of thing Pinkie; I wouldn’t know what to do... When me and Twilight first got together, I wasn’t looking for a relationship, neither was she, it just sort of fell onto us, and I can’t be the one she needs in that situation... so Pinkie Pie, I need you to take good care of Twilight when we get her back... okay?’

Pinkie Pie didn’t get a chance to respond, the entire ship leached, they hit something, and it sent the ship rocking. Pinkie Pie lost her balance and slid along the deck of the ship and tumbled over the railing and head first into the dark water.

‘Pinkie!’ Rainbow Dash cried out. ‘Pinkie!’ she called again. Rainbow Dash couldn’t see her, it was too dark. Then, out of the corner of her eye, she saw something pink bobbing in the water. Pinkie Pie surfaced and was struggling to keep her head above the rough water. ‘Hang on Pinkie! I’m coming!’

Rainbow Dash spread her wings and leapt over the side of the ship, making her way to Pinkie Pie’s struggling figure in the dark water. That was when Rainbow Dash saw what they had hit. It was an iceberg; the head of it just barely sticking out of the water, there was no way that any of them would have been able to see it before. It had torn a gash into the starboard side of the ship. Rainbow Dash reached Pinkie Pie and grabbed her with her forelegs.

‘Dashie!’ Pinkie Pie cried out.

‘Pinkie Pie! On three, I need you to kick as hard as you can, you hear me?’ Rainbow Dash cried out. Pinkie Pie nodded in affirmation. ‘On three... one... two... three!’ Rainbow Dash began to flap her wings as hard as she could, and Pinkie Pie kicked her legs as hard as she could, the two mares rocketed out of the water and into the air. Rainbow Dash set them down on the deck, when they noticed that the ship was listing.

‘We’re sinking!’ Rainbow Dash cried out. ‘Come on! We have to get everypony out of the lower decks!’

The two mares raced over to the access port for the lower decks and threw open the doors. Much to their dismay, the compartment below had already filled up with water.

The Canterlot had three compartments, the forward compartment was crew quarters, the middle was cargo and deck access, the aft was the engine room. The middle compartment was flooded with water, and they had no way of getting the trapped crew and their friends out.

‘We’ve got to do something!’ Rainbow Dash cried out and raced back to the forward deck of the ship and started pounding on the deck, hoping to break through, but getting nowhere at the same time.

Pinkie Pie began to smile. ‘Dashie! Stop! Wait right there!’ She cried out and scampered off to the aft end of the ship, returning only a moment later with a leather briefcase.

‘Pinkie Pie... this is no time to screw around!’ Rainbow Dash cried out at her. Pinkie Pie opened up the brief case to reveal what looked to be dynamite in the shape of bricks. ‘Pinkie Pie!? What are you doing with those!?’

‘Hey?! What was I supposed to do if I needed to throw an impromptu party on this trip!?’ Pinkie Pie reasoned. Rainbow Dash merely facehoofed.

‘Pinkie Pie! I applaud you for your thinking, but it’s pouring down rain out here! You can’t light a fuse for that dynamite here!’ Rainbow Dash said.

‘You’re right!’ Pinkie Pie said cheerfully. ‘But this isn’t dynamite! This is something I like to call, Composition B!’ Pinkie Pie took two bricks of the stuff and began to flatten it onto the deck in a wide enough pattern to blow open a whole.

‘Pinkie Pie!?’ Rainbow Dash cried out. ‘Is that safe?!’ Rainbow Dash cried out.

‘Sure is!’ Pinkie Pie said. ‘It’s totally safe; it won’t blow up until it gets charged with electricity! Then we can save everypony!’ Pinkie Pie cried out with enthusiasm. Her plan was solid, she was going to save everypony below deck and she knew it. Pinkie Pie’s mane and tail poofed back into their normal shape. Pinkie Pie felt it and smiled brightly.

‘Okay... but where are we going to get electricity to blow it up!?’ Rainbow Dash asked.

‘I... don’t know’, Pinkie Pie admitted nervously. A bolt of lightning cracked through the sky, followed by a quick burst of thunder, the two mares looked at each other and began to grin brightly. They had an idea. Pinkie Pie dug through the case with her explosives and brought out a spool of wire and stuck one end in the explosive that she’d stuck to the deck and gave the spool to Rainbow Dash. ‘Take this up to the top of the smoke stack and make sure the metal bits are touching metal. We can use the smoke stack as a giant lightning rod!’

‘I’m on it!’ Rainbow Dash cried out as she flew up to the top of the smoke stack. She got to the end of the spool and bit off the rubber coating at the end of the wires and began to wrap it to one of the smoke stack’s rivets. She weaved to Pinkie Pie that she had gotten it set up, Pinkie Pie waved back in acknowledgement that Rainbow Dash could come down.

No sooner than that did Lightning strike the smoke stack. The plan worked, the electric current travelled down through the wiring and blew open a hole in the deck. Pinkie Pie smiled brightly, but that was when her tail began to twitch. Something was falling from the sky.

Pinkie Pie looked up to see that Rainbow Dash was falling, she must have been too close to the hit when it happened and sent her tumbling. Pinkie Pie leapt into action, literally leaping into the air and catching Rainbow Dash on her back.

‘Pinkie!’ Rainbow Dash cried out in a sigh of relief. ‘You saved me!’

‘Uh huh!’ Pinkie Pie said brightly. ‘Now let’s save everypony!’

The two mares trotted back over to the hole that they opened up and looked inside, the entire crew, along with Rarity, Applejack, Fluttershy, Spike, and Princess Luna were all standing in the centre of the room, which was knee deep in water.

‘Come on everypony! The ship’s sinking! Let’s get to the lifeboats!’ Pinkie Pie called out.

They needed no encouragement, one at a time they all filed out of the room and onto the deck, the crew rushed to get the lifeboats ready for launch. Rarity and Fluttershy leapt at Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash for saving them, giving them tight hugs.

‘Quickly! To the lifeboats!’ Fairfeathers cried out.

Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, and the rest of their friends quickly piled into one lifeboat as the crew lowered it into the water. Princess Luna and Rarity took the oars in their magic and began to row away from the sinking Canterlot. They could only watch in horror as the ship continued to sink, eventually slipping under the water completely, never to be seen again.

‘Do you see any of the other lifeboats!?’ Rarity cried out.

‘Nope! Not a one!’ Applejack cried out as she looked around.

They all huddled together, holding onto each other as if their lives depended on it. Soon enough, the storm subsided, and the boat of ponies began to drift away into the night.