• Published 6th Mar 2012
  • 1,205 Views, 14 Comments

Pinkie Pie's Wonderful Flying Machine - OmegaPony11



Join an adventure in the skies above as the Mane Six journey past Equestria's borders, across oceans, and into new lands of wonder and technology. Follow their journey in Pinkie Pie's Wonderful Flying Machine!

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The Storm

Chapter 3: The Storm

In the span of a day, the Harmony had flown well over the Equestrian countryside, leaving only surprised ponies in its wake as it sailed overhead. With a pair of binoculars levitating in front of her eyes, Rarity could see the ponies below look up with awe at the airship. Being so high in the sky in a one-of-a-kind airship did make Rarity lightheaded, and not because of the altitude. She’d be the talk of Canterlot when they returned from Mechanon. Everypony was going to want to know what sort daring adventures she had in this new land.

Rarity shared her opera binoculars with Sweetie Belle, who looked down on the world with glee, always asking questions as her big sister did her best to answer them. What at first Rarity thought would be a nuisance bringing Sweetie Belle aboard she now found it was a delight; her sister hung on her every word as if it were law as the two regarded the world around them.

Ponyville was far behind them now, and a few kilometers ahead was the western shoreline. The sun was setting along the horizon, leaving a breathtaking vista of the sun’s glow reflecting off the ocean. The ponies stood in amazement at the sight as Pinkie brought the engines to quarter thrust. To Rarity, there was no more perfect sunset as the one before them.

“It’s sights like this that make this voyage incredible,” Applejack said, “Boy howdy, how I wish Big Macintosh and Granny Smith could see this.”

“Maybe we can bring them along on the next trip?” Applebloom looked up at Applejack, who nodded in reply. They stayed together, as close as Rarity and Sweetie Belle as Pinkie left the ship’s wheel and headed to the passenger decks.

“Come on!” she said with cheer, “We need to celebrate! And the best way to celebrate is...?

“A party!” everypony replied, all laughing and smiling as they followed Pinkie down to the dining room. Rarity gave the abandoned ship’s wheel a look before turning towards Pinkie, who bounded down the stairs with haste. If the captain of the vessel left her post, who was guiding the ship?

“Excuse me dear, I don’t mean to be a bother,” Rarity began, “But is it safe to just leave the wheel unattended?”

“Everything’s fine, Rarity,” Pinkie replied, “If on its lonesome, the Harmony will just cruise along the air nice and easy at the pace its going. Like a rubber duck in a quiet bath tub.”

“Besides, only a really, really strong wind could blow something like this off course,” said Rainbow Dash as she gave a few reassuring pats to Rarity’s shoulder, “I’m talking gale force here, and I checked with the weather ponies on this side of Equestria, and they said there hasn’t been a typhoon in these parts in over a hundred years!”
Oddly enough, Rainbow’s bravado did very little to lessen Rarity’s worries. If there hadn’t been a storm in over a hundred years, maybe this region was due for one. You’re worrying again, Rarity thought as she stepped through the door towards the dining room, but this time you have a reason to. Sweetie Belle is with you and needs you to keep her safe.

They entered the dining room to find that it was already decorated with all the trimmings of a typical Pinkie Pie party. Bright balloons and flowing streamers lined the walls as mounds of food lined the tables. Party games waited to be played while music played from an old phonograph.

Three little fillies gave a loud cheer as they ran about the dining hall and enjoyed themselves with the older ponies in yet another of Pinkie’s celebrations. Despite their crass, haphazard nature, Rarity always found that Pinkie’s parties had the one element no high society soiree ever held: that of fun. Oh, those soirees were enjoyable and befitting a lady such as Rarity, but they never played her favourite games like “Pin the tail on the pony”, or made punch in such a delightful way like Pinkie did.

As Pinkie gobbled down pastry after pastry, Rarity shook her head. A little refinement would have been helpful. Her mind began to wander as she thought of Pinkie being more ladylike and elegant. If Applejack had learned such in Manehattan, surely Pinkie could take on some resemblance of elegance? Then there would be the challenge of Pinkie actually sitting still long enough for Rarity to do any attempt at a makeover...

A challenge for another day, Rarity decided. The party continued into the wee hours of the night, at least as late as it was for children. Applebloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle collapsed in a small pile after all the food was consumed and the party had wound down to a close. Yawns echoed through the room as each pony did their share in cleaning up the dining hall.

“That was delightful,” Rarity said as she and Fluttershy took care of the assortment of dishes, “Though I wonder how many of these parties Pinkie will hold between here and Mechanon. In any event, did you manage to find a caretaker for all your animals?”

“Oh yes,” Fluttershy replied, “I found two colts who wanted to help. One of them even had a snail as a cutie mark. I’m sure they’ll get along fine. I’m not worried at all.”

Oh dear, Snips and Snails, Rarity thought with a quiet chuckle as she washed the dishes with magic, leaving them utterly spotless, Angel Bunny must be having a field day with those two. Still, I’m sure everything will be fine. Ursa Minor not withstanding.

“Oh dear, look at poor Sweetie Belle,” Rarity cooed at the sleeping filly, laying curled up on the floor, “I should bring her to bed. I’ll be with you in a moment, Fluttershy.”

She picked up Sweetie Belle with her magic, leaving with Applejack who carried Applebloom on her back and Rainbow Dash trudging along, a half-asleep Scootaloo behind her. Once she arrived in her room, it took a moment to realize that there was no place for Sweetie Belle to truly sleep. There was just one bed for Rarity.

“Well I certainly won’t be having my little sister sleep on the floor,” she said aloud, remembering what Sweetie Belle had said when she begged for Rarity to take her onto the Harmony, “We’ll share the bed, just like when we were smaller.”

After tucking Sweetie Belle in, Rarity left her quarters and headed towards one of the observation decks. She looked out of one of the portholes to see that the ship had stopped moving. Likely a precaution by Twilight, Rarity decided, it would be far too dangerous to keep travelling when everypony is asleep.

Opening the door to the outer deck, Rarity shivered a moment as the cold ocean air rushed over her. The smell of the salt water filled her nose; it was certainly unique and quite refreshing. The chill was giving her goosebumps under her coat that made her wish she had brought a proper sweater, but her time out on the deck would be brief. Interestingly enough, she was not alone on the deck, as Twilight was standing near the guard rail, eyes up at the night sky above.

Despite having a book, her writing tools, and her telescope, Twilight stood perfectly still as she gazed into the endless night. Rarity followed suit, looking up to see the endless sea of stars overhead. Each was a sparkling diamond in indigo cloth, glittering more beautifully than any precious jewel Rarity had ever seen.

“Breathtaking, isn’t it?” Twilight said, keeping her gaze on the night sky, “You never get to see these many stars in Canterlot or Ponyville with all the lights on. Here it’s just us, the stars, the moon. I asked Pinkie to keep the lights on the Harmony dim so they wouldn’t interfere. I never thought I’d see you out here though, Rarity.”

“I always have an appreciation for beauty, dear,” Rarity replied, “Whether it’s gems from the earth or the stars in the sky. Still, you are right. You don’t see nearly as many stars in Ponyville as you do out here.”

“You do if you go out to Applejack’s farm, though sometimes Applejack gets a bit antsy when ponies wander around her farm at night.” Twilight’s horn began to glow, and with a wisp of her magic, she brought over her book of astronomy.

“Quick lesson,” Twilight began, with Rarity giving her a bored look, “Oh, it’ll be fun, you might learn something!”

“Like how Orion has three stars in his belt and not four?” A day that would live in infamy to Rarity. The image of those particular dresses were still fresh in her mind after so long. Still, she stayed with Twilight, humouring her and her wish to educate.

“This may come in handy someday,” Twilight said, “Look there, those really bright stars. See how they form a sort of spoon? That’s the Big Dipper, or Ursa Major.”

“Will we be needing Trixie to handle this?”

They both laughed for a moment, remembering all too well the incident that had inflicted terror on Ponyville involving the celestial cub. Worse yet, the sheer devastation that braggart had done to Rarity’s mane with her obnoxious magic tricks. Green hair, of all things.

“Anyways, if you follow the edge of the spoon directly across, you’ll find Polaris, the North Star. If you are ever lost, you can use Polaris to find out which way is north. Also, Polaris is part of another constellation, the Little Dipper, or Ursa Minor. Pretty interesting stuff, don’t you think?”

Rarity simply kept her eyes on the stars, imagining the two constellations as giant spoons in the sky. From their dips, she saw rivers of starry milk flow from the spoons, an absurd image yet also appropriate. Then she thought of the Ursa Major and Minor, and as she looked to the stars, the forms of the bears seemed to take shape above.

It was an amusing scene of mother bear and her cub together. The imagery of a nurturing family was forever immortalized in the night sky. It was something right out of a foal’s story book of mothers and their children together. Thinking on the two Ursas reminded Rarity of her own mother and the time she had spent with her when she was a little filly.

“Tomorrow is going to be our first day over the ocean,” Twilight said, snapping Rarity’s attention away from the stars, “More to explore and discover with every square mile of sea. I’m sure there will be something for everypony: Rainbow Dash will fly with the ship, Fluttershy would love to see the aquatic life. We’ll have so much fun, all the way to Mechanon.”

The two stayed together for a while, Twilight doing most of the talking about the stars, observed celestial bodies such as comets and meteors, and other facts compiled by fellow astronomers over the ages. Rarity did find such information interesting, in more of a trivia sort of way, though not in any manner she could find practical. Maybe Sweetie Belle would benefit from Twilight’s educational lectures.

After saying goodnight to Twilight, Rarity returned to her quarters to find Sweetie Belle all curled up under the sheets, murmuring happily of some dream or another. Rarity gave her little sister a quick kiss on her forehead, watching with warmth as Sweetie Belle’s lips curled into a slight smile.

“Good night, Sweetie Belle,” Rarity said as she carefully slipped under the covers, “Tomorrow will be the ocean.”

***
“Good morning!”

Rarity opened her eyes to see Sweetie Belle and her friends at her side of the bed, big smiles on their eager faces. Sitting next to her was a stainless steel tray lined with what Rarity assumed was food. Burnt toast was the least of her worries as shriveled carrots and something that most definitely did not smell like coffee.

She turned a nervous smile towards the fillies, hoping to at least get them out of the room and dispose of “breakfast” quietly. Rarity considered simply tossing it overboard, but that would have been unfair to pollute the ocean. “I certainly appreciate the gesture, girls,” Rarity said as she got out of bed, “I’ll enjoy this fine breakfast after I freshen up. Why don’t you all go down and help the others get a wonderful start, just like me. I’m sure they’ll appreciate the effort put in to the most important meal of the day.”

As she ushered the three out of their rooms and winced at their triumphant “Cutie Mark Crusaders Breakfast Chefs, yay!”, she quickly dashed into the bathroom to begin her morning rituals. A quick hop into the shower, enough mane curlers to get her style just perfect, another brush to do the same with the tail with the aid of her magic and she was one-tenth of the way to her fabulous self. Good progress so far.

When a knock on the door distracted her as she was fixing up her lashes, Rarity huffed as she made her way from the bathroom. Didn’t anypony know this was one of the most critical junctions in looking one’s best and should not be disturbed?

Opening the door, Rarity found that it was Applejack standing before her, looking a bit cross as she stood in the hallway. Interestingly enough, Applejack appeared to be clean: her coat was shining and her mane looked vibrant, rather than dull with sweat and dirt.

“What are you lookin’ at?” Applejack said with a raised eyebrow.

“Just the fact that it appears you have finally applied some care into your appearance.” Rarity beckoned for Applejack to come in, quickly returning to the bathroom to continue her work. “Is there anything I can do for you, dear? As you can see, I am quite busy.”

“Just wanted to talk, is all,” Applejack replied as she went to look out the window, “Seein’ as your sister and my sister both managed to convince Pinkie they should come. Wanted to get your insight and such. Those two fillies can be tougher than a stampeding herd of bovines to wrangle up, I tell you what.”

“Something we both can relate to.” One by one, Rarity pulled the curlers out of her mane, careful to give them just enough “bounce”. “Sweetie Belle and Applebloom, along with Scootaloo, will behave themselves if they want to explore the ship and Mechanon. Although I am surprised to see you on this voyage. What about the farm?”

“Big Macintosh has his buddy Caramel helping out,” Applejack explained, “And Pinkie promised we would be back in time for applebuck season. I figured I may as well head on out with ya’ll. See the world beyond the farm.”

“What about your trip to Manehattan? Wasn’t that the same thing?”

Applejack shook her head. “Was trying to find out who I was. Where my heart was, and that’s at Sweet Apple Acres. This is just for fun, going to far-off places with my friends. That sort of thing. I guess now I add making sure Applebloom doesn’t stir too much of a commotion as well.”

After she was sure her appearance was up to standard, Rarity joined Applejack to wander the halls of the Harmony. “I also came by to make sure you weren’t just going to toss Sweetie Belle my way whenever she gets in your mane. Hard enough to wrangle one sister into sitting still, I didn’t sign on to become a filly sitter for three.”

Applejack was right, as much as Rarity disliked to admit it. It was not fair to leave Sweetie Belle in the care of another. Perhaps she could use this as an opportunity to teach Sweetie Belle the finer things in life before they got to Mechanon. Since they would be the first Equestrians ever to enter a new nation, this was a wonderful chance to teach not just Sweetie Belle, but everypony of proper etiquette and decorum when acting the part of dutiful diplomatic dignitaries.

“Come on now,” Applejack said, “Let’s get ‘er on down to the mess. Our sisters left quite the mess, and leaving Rainbow to take charge probably wasn’t the best idea.”

“Captain to all passengers!” Pinkie’s voice resounded through the brass cones, “If you look out the port windows, you’ll see lots of ocean! Ocean as far as the eye can see! If you look out to starboard, guess what? Same thing! Goes with whats at the fore as well. To the aft, you can see Equestria way off into the distance! Don’t forget to wave to everypony! They can’t see you, but I’m sure they’ll appreciate the gesture!”

Forgetting about going to the mess hall and rescuing Rainbow from the Cutie Mark Crusaders, Rarity and Applejack looked out the windows, marvelling as the ocean was beheld before them. With the sun shining overhead and nary a cloud in the sky, azure skies stretched along with the endless sea into the horizon.

“Well I’ll be,” Applejack said, looking down on the ocean, “Never seen anything like it. Have you?”

“No,” Rarity answered, “We should collect the girls and show them. They’ll love it!”

Rainbow Dash was more than willing to have Rarity and Applejack’s support in dealing with the three fillies, and was eager to see the ocean as well. They decided the best view would be from the command deck, and quickly made their way over, making a quick detour in waking Fluttershy and bringing her along.

Pinkie Pie was at the helm of the ship while Twilight managed the engineering consoles, checking all sorts of dials and lights and readouts that made Rarity’s head spin just by being near. It was impressive that it only took two ponies to manage the flight of the ship; Rarity had thought it would take a full crew.

“Crystal clear water, a bright blue sky, and the warmth of the sun,” Rarity said as she looked out the command deck window with Sweetie Belle, “It would be picturesque if there was a tropical island out in the distance.”

“Can we go down to ocean?” Sweetie Belle asked. Pinkie put a hoof to her chin, deep in thought before a bright smile curled on her lips. She put her hoof to a dial, turning the lever marked “altitude” downwards.

“Great idea!” she announced, “We can have an ocean party! Decreasing altitude! Everypony, wait near the entryway. I think I have a crate in the hold labelled ‘Beach Party Stuff’. Big sand coloured box. I’ll be right there once I get the Harmony lowered and anchored.”

With the fillies giving a loud cheer and dashing off towards the entrance to the main decks, it was hard for everypony else not to maintain their own enthusiasm, each leaving the command deck and following the young ponies towards the entrance. Leave it to Pinkie to already have everything ready for a party at sea, Rarity thought, Sweetie Belle is really going to enjoy herself.

Applejack and Rainbow went down to the cargo hold, coming up quickly with a fair-sized crate the same as Pinkie mentioned. Inside was an assortment of beach toys such as inflatable tubes, lounge chairs, rings, and a grand assortment of coloured balls. Sweetie Belle dove into the trove of toys along with her friends, already laying claim to a giant foam noodle.

There was a slight shift in the ship as everypony was rocked on their hooves, the vibration of the bottom of the main deck touching the surface of the ocean. The sound of turning gears and grinding chains alerted the passengers that the anchors were being slowly dropped, until they heard the large iron mass crash into the water. The chains continued to grind for some time until they ceased, the bridge floating on the water. At that moment Pinkie appeared wearing a bright pink swimming tube, flippers, and a snorkel.

“Who’s ready to party ocean style?” Opening the main door leading to the outside, Pinkie pressed another button, causing a long length of plastic to unfurl from the bottom of the deck. Soon it inflated, with several buoys keeping it somewhat level on the ocean surface. Pinkie bounced across the inflatable bridge before leaping right into the water.

“Come on in,” Pinkie said, floating on the water, “The water is great!”

Sweetie Belle, Applebloom, and Scootaloo all shouted as they galloped across the balloon bridge, jumping into the water and splashing about, having the time of their lives. Laughing, the other mares soon joined them, diving right into the deep blue. Rarity watched tentatively from the edge of the bridge. The ocean breeze was pleasant, but she really did not want to get her mane and coat immersed in salty water.

“I’ll just stay here,” Rarity said, sitting herself on the edge of the bridge, “Sweetie Belle! Don’t swim out too far from the bridge! Come here and put on this lifejacket. Don’t swim too far off from the bridge, and stay within sight of everypony!”

Rarity levitated enough lifejackets for everypony, ignoring Sweetie Belle’s exasperated sighs as the jacket floated over to her and adjusted itself around her torso. Applebloom and Scootaloo giggled at the sigh of their friend in a bulky flotation device, only to find lifejackets being brought over their heads as well. Appleajck nodded approvingly while Rainbow Dash swam around the fillies.

“Aw, do we gotta wear these things?” Applebloom complained, but only got a stern look from her sister. Scootaloo wasn’t happy either; the large lifejacket not having holes for a pegasus’ wings. They quickly forgot about the lifejackets as Rainbow splashed them with a flap of her wings, causing an eruption of laughs and giggles as they struck back with foam noodles and water assaults of their own.

Twilight and Fluttershy put on lifejackets themselves, slipping into the water calmly before joining Pinkie and paddling about the Harmony. Together they began to swim, enjoying the ocean for the first time. Rarity was simply content to stay dry and enjoy herself on the bridge, basking in the warmth of the bright sun overhead.

“Look Rarity,” Fluttershy said a moment later, “I found some ocean fish. Aren’t they pretty?”

Accompanying Fluttershy was a small school of fish of various sizes and colours, many Rarity had never seen before. She had to admit they held incredible colouration and shapes, the likes that already had Rarity’s head spinning with new dress ideas. Twilight paddled by, her horn glowing as she held an open book about ocean life. The book itself was protected from getting wet by a small bubble of shimmering, violet magic.

“Angelfish, clownfish, surgeonfish, and more!” Twilight looked excited as she brought the book over to Fluttershy. “The ocean has the most diverse biosphere in the world. So many different species of life from here to the deepest depths. Too bad Pinkie doesn’t have a submersible in the Harmony. Just think of what we could find.”

“I could build one,” Pinkie said, only to have Twilight shake her head.

“It’s alright,” Twilight responded, moving her book back towards the main deck, “Let’s have some fun! What sort of games do you know, Pinkie?”

As Pinkie and Twilight organized a game with the others, Fluttershy swam to Rarity. “Excuse me,” she said, “But I was hoping to feed my new fish friends, but I didn’t bring them any food. Could you bring some bread from the mess hall? If it’s not too much trouble?”

“Certainly dear,” Rarity replied, “I wanted to get something to drink anyways. Bread all right for the fish?”

Fluttershy nodded, smiling at Rarity as she left the bridge and returned to the Harmony. When Rarity returned to the mess hall and quickly moved her magic about, grabbing a small cup of fresh water and loaf of bread for Fluttershy and her fish. She looked out a port window down to her friends who were playing and splashing about in the water, and she felt a tinge of regret for not joining them immediately. If it were any other pool, she would have joined them in an instant, but the ruinous effects the salt water would have had on her mane and coat would take hours of damage control.

She hummed to herself as she began to cut up the bread into small chunks for the fish, thinking instead to how much fun Sweetie Belle was having. Having her sister with her made Rarity decided that it wasn’t so bad. Her friends were excellent ponies, mares she could trust with anything. While Sweetie Belle was not overly reliable with tasks, she was still Rarity’s little sister, and there was no one Rarity would rather spend time with on a long voyage.

As she bundled the bread into a bag, Rarity turned to the starboard window, squinting a bit as she looked out to the horizon. Large storm clouds appeared to be gathering in the distance, a terrible storm if Rarity had ever seen one. Judging by the distance, it was nowhere near the Harmony, but it was better to bring up the oncoming storm to Pinkie and Rainbow Dash. They would know if they should be worried or not.

Rarity returned to the inflatable bridge, her magic levitating the bag of bread next to her to find her friends still playing about in the ocean. It was then that Rarity spotted a fin break the surface of the water, and it was speeding towards Fluttershy. It didn’t take a pony like Twilight to know that it was a shark. Sharks always broke the water with their fins before attacking helpless pony swimmers in the water. That's what all the nature experts she ever heard or read about said about the predators.

“Fluttershy! Sweetie Belle!” Rarity shouted as she dropped the bag of bed and dove into the water, “Shark! Shark! Get out of the water! Shark!”

“Rarity! Wait!” Fluttershy called, but Rarity would not stop. Poor Fluttershy, she thought, she probably thinks she can reason with a shark like she does with bears and manticores! I know better, I know sharks are wretched, vile predators. I won’t let a shark eat anypony!

The effects of the salt water on her coat and mane were quickly forgotten as she swam as quickly as she could towards Fluttershy. Her heart beat mercilessly as she swam and shouted for everypony to get away from the shark. Although as she swam closer to the shark, Rarity began to think getting closer to the ocean-based predator was actually a fairly insane plan. What was she going to do against a hungry shark? Magic it away? Bop it on the nose?

Just then the water broke, the great aquatic beast jumping from the ocean well over everypony’s heads and into the water on the other side of the bridge. As Rarity stood aghast at being splashed by the fish, she looked again to see that it was no shark at all, but instead a dolphin chattering away. As if mocking her.

“I tried to tell you,” Fluttershy said as she paddled over to Rarity, “That was a dolphin. Their fins are more curved compared to a shark. We don’t have anything to worry about. Dolphins are very friendly.”

I don’t feel very friendly, Rarity fumed as she realized that there was no danger, the dolphin was still squeaking about, and she was immersed in the ocean, and her mane was now completely utterly ruined. Muttering very unladylike words under her breath, Rarity climbed up onto the makeshift dock before storming off towards the ship.

“The nerve of that overgrown fish...” Rarity mumbled.

“Mammal, actually.” Twilight shrunk as Rarity gave her a critical glare, one that spoke that she was not amused in the slightest. The hours of work she was going to have to do get all the salt water scrubbed would be laborious, intensive and completely necessary. This was not how she wanted to spend her vacation.

I’ve gotten dirtier before, Rarity thought, So why am I miserable over some salt water? A shower, soap, and shampoo with bring everything to standard.

Rarity trudged along the halls of the Harmony until she made it to her quarters, opening the door with only a thought until she was readying a quick bath for herself. I was frightened, she told herself, not only of the potential shark but of who the shark was going after. Fluttershy is my best friend. I would have been devastated if anything were to happen to her.

“Rarity?” There was only the faintest of knocks on her door, but Rarity could tell immediately it was Fluttershy. Poor dear probably felt guilty that she left in a huff over the silly incident with a dolphin. It was rather silly, wasn’t it? She would have to make amends to Fluttershy. She was just so sensitive.

“Come in, darling,” Rarity said, “I was just going to have a quick hop in the bath to scrub that salt water off. Make yourself comfortable.”

“I’m really, really sorry.” Fluttershy looked downcast as she entered Rarity’s quarters. “It wasn’t a very nice prank for the dolphin to pull. I hope you’re not too upset. Is there anything I can do to help? I can help wash all the salt from your mane?”

Rarity relented, deciding that it would be nice to have her best friend work on her mane as she simply relaxed. Sitting on her haunches in the tub, Rarity closed her eyes, feeling the cool application of shampoo on her head as Fluttershy began to rub her scalp. If it were anypony else, their hooves would never have made a full furlong to her hair. Fluttershy was different though. She knew Rarity well: all her nuances, habits, and her strict requirements to proper hygiene. Fluttershy also had a very gentle touch, one that made Rarity feel like melting in the tub. She always knew just were to find the right pressure points.

“Mind the horn dear,” Rarity said, though she knew Fluttershy would not go near it. A unicorn’s horn was sensitive, not because of the physical bone but of the focus of a unicorn’s magic at a central point. Whenever she had her horn filed at the spa, the attendants only applied the slightest bit of pressure. Once again, she found herself trusting Fluttershy and her careful nature around ponies as she continued to scrub the salt out of her mane.

“Thank you again,” Fluttershy said as she continued to work, “I know I wasn’t in any real danger, but seeing you jump into the water to fend off a shark was really brave.”

“It was nothing dear,” Rarity replied, “While I won’t make it a habit of jumping into shark-infested waters hoof-first, I would have been completely devastated if anything were to happen to you and all I did was stand by in safety. You are my best friend, after all.”

“Your mane does look good wet,” Fluttershy said. Rarity gave a light laugh.

“Everypony’s manes look good wet,” she replied, “Pour a bucket on your head and they all go gaga. Crude, but effective at attracting attention if you so wish.” Knowing Fluttershy, she was now going to avoid any and all buckets of water.

Once Fluttershy was done washing out of the last of the shampoo, Rarity left the tub and began the process of drying herself and restyling her mane. It was a slow, meticulous process, one that Rarity was familiar with. Thankfully, Fluttershy was the most patient and understanding pony she knew, and simply stood in the room, waiting while Rarity got her mane up to par.

An hour later, Rarity was ready to return to her friends with Fluttershy in tow to see Sweetie Belle and the other fillies running towards the mess hall, discarding wet life jackets in the middle of the hallway. The others were smiling and talking as they took their time, stopping before Rarity and Fluttershy.

“All cleaned up from the scary dolphin attack?” Rainbow Dash mocked her, but Rarity knew her worries were warranted.

“Laugh all you like Rainbow Dash, I believe I was in the right state of mind to be worried.” She then remembered the dark storm clouds on the horizon. While it would be something akin to more pointless worrying, it was better to be safe than sorry, especially since they were too faraway from Equestria to get any help.

“Pinkie Pie dear,” began Rarity, “I saw a terrible storm brewing on the horizon off to the right side of the ship. I do hope it doesn’t effect our journey.”

“We’ll take a look!” Pinkie said, wrapping a foreleg around Rainbow, “Come on, Dashie. Your the weather expert. We’ll take a look at this big bad storm and make sure it won’t crash our party.”

Rainbow Dash sulked as she followed Pinkie towards the command deck, muttering something about not having to work on her vacation. Rarity gave a slight smirk, then turned to join the others for dinner. Tonight was a simple affair of fresh cucumber and daisy sandwiches, and time was spent eating and talking until well after dusk. The Harmony continued on its way towards Mechanon, ascending to the skies back to a proper altitude.

It was then that Pinkie’s voice resounded through the brass speakers that made up the Haromony’s communication system. It sounded like she was trying to act like a siren, and if it were not for the fact that it was Pinkie acting like an alarm, Rarity would have thought the situation silly. A warning, especially from Pinkie in her ship, was not a laughing matter.

“Everypony!” Pinkie announced, “Batten down the hatches! Close the steel shutters! A storm’s a-comin’, and we’re headed right for it! Get to the command deck once everything is shut tight!”

Everypony put down their sandwiches and complied with Pinkie’s orders, moving throughout the ship and lowering the metal shutters in front of the windows. Applejack headed to the lower levels to secure the doors as Twilight rushed immediately to the command deck to check on the Chrysalidas. It was up to Rarity and Fluttershy to take care of the young ones.

“Come girls,” Rarity said, “We’ll be safe with Pinkie. Stay together. Don’t wander off, and absolutely no Cutie Mark Crusader heroics. Leave the rough stuff to the adults.”

When they arrived, Rarity could see that Pinkie was not smiling as she kept the Harmony steady, hooves pressed tightly against the ship’s wheel. Rainbow also held a stern expression as she kept her eyes on the path ahead, which as far as Rarity could tell was the utter darkness of night. Pinkie flipped a switch next to her, causing two massive searchlights to burst into life. Now the path of the ship was shrouded in mist, and it was hard to see anything in front.

“I’m glad you told us about the storm,” Rainbow said to Rarity as she stood next to her, “This is some grade A stuff coming up. I’ve never seen a storm move so fast before. This could be very bad.”

“All of my instruments are reacting,” Twilight reported from the engine console, “This is not a natural weather phenomenon. It’s magical in origin. Maybe it was a failed spell, I don’t know. What I do know is that storm is attracted by the magic running in the ship. The storm is chasing us.”

“What are we going to do?” Rarity felt her heart beat in fear; a false shark was one thing, a massive storm that could sink the Harmony was another. Pinkie’s gaze did not falter as she kept the ship going.

“We keep going,” Pinkie said, “We can’t turn around, or else the storm will chase us. Twilight, do you have a plan?”

“I do,” Twilight answered, “I can eject some of our engine’s energy to the outside using specialized lightning rods. If my hypothesis is correct, all we need to do is manoeuvre the Harmony through the pockets of the storm that have the weakest concentrations of magic. It’s only an educated guess that the storm is not uniform with its magic. It’s also just a guess that the storm will take the magical runoff as sustenance, but it’s the only thing I can think of.”

“I know storms like the back of my hoof,” Rainbow announced, “I’ll be able to find all the easy paths for the ship to take. Just keep the Harmony close by and we’ll be fine. Feed the storm whatever magic it wants and keep close.”

“I certainly hope so, sugarcube,” Applejack said, gasping as she made her way inside the command deck, “The wind is kickin’ up something fierce. Had a hard time sealing the doors.”

“But Rainbow Dash, it looks too dangerous.” Fluttershy sat on her haunches, hiding behind her mane and keeping her eyes away from the storm. “Those winds, the rain. What about lightning!?”

“You’re talking to the best flier in Equestria, Fluttershy,” boasted Rainbow Dash as she turned to head to the outer hatches, “I’ll be fine. Applejack, I’ll need you to keep an eye on the door.”

“Not so fast,” Twilight interjected, “This isn’t a natural storm. I’m coming with you. I’ll hitch a ride on your back and help you find the weakest conduits of magic. If we get too close to the raw energy, they could tear a hole in the ship. Don’t worry Rainbow Dash, I’m not that heavy.”

“Rarity, you are going to have to control the engineering console while I’m out in the storm.” Twilight’s horn glowed bright as she opened a cabinet, lifting a pair of goggles and a vest for herself and Rainbow. “It’s not hard, just watch the meters and adjust them with your magic. Most of all, make sure the gyroscope is in motion.”

“The what now?” Rarity asked, raising an eyebrow. What was Twilight expecting out of her? She was a dressmaker, not a magical engineer!

“The spinning thingy.” Rainbow let out an exasperated sigh of impatience before the three left for the outer hull. Pinkie looked to Fluttershy then pointed at a dial next to her to her. “That controls the spot lights,” Pinkie explained, “We’ll need to keep a light ahead of the Harmony while the other stays on Twilight and Dashie.”

“O-ok,” Fluttershy acknowledged, putting her hooves on the dial. She turned the dials to get a feel for the controls, moving the search lights in all directions. Once she was comfortable, she nodded to Pinkie Pie, who kept her gaze out to the storm-filled skies.

A flash of violet lightning illuminated the sky, causing Fluttershy and the young fillies to squeal in fright. Thunder boomed around them, the very sound vibrating the ship. Rarity’s face became stern, all her focus being brought to the task of keeping the engine purring like Opalesence. Rainbow drifted from the corner of the window with Twilight on her back, a powerful aura of magic enveloping her horn as Fluttershy pointed the spotlight at the pair as they made their way through the torrential winds.

“Let’s do this,” Rarity said, “We’re all ready.”

The Harmony went forward at three-quarters speed, keeping up with Rainbow as she banked to the left. The crack of thunder roared again along at the same time as another bolt of lighting. The ship rocked from shock of magical power striking against it. When Twilight said nothing and focused solely on the magic crystal console, Rarity assumed everything was under control. If Twilight panicked over magical problems, then there was a reason to worry.

Pinkie kept her hooves tight on the ship’s wheel, the strain of turning the wheel being seen as sweat dripped from her forehead. There was no joy or mirth in her face, just deep concern on getting her friends and the Harmony to safety.

“Keep her steady,” Pinkie muttered as she continued to follow Rainbow, “Keep her steady. We can get through this. We’ll be safe and sound before you know it. Then we can have another super duper party for making it through the storm.”

Another bolt of lightning, another crack of thunder, and another round of screams from Fluttershy and the fillies. This one did damage the ship, causing the spot light that showed the way in front of the Harmony to shut off. Sweetie Belle shouldn’t have come, Rarity thought as she looked over to her sister, I knew this was going to be dangerous, but this? What have I done, allowing her on board?

A bolt of magical lightning almost came near striking Twilight, the scholar ducking her head as she held on tight around Rainbow’s neck. Fluttershy cried out as the thunder boomed, only to be silent as the ship rocked once again.

“Applejack to Pinkie!” Pinkie tilted one of the communication tubes upward so she could hear. “Have ourselves a fire problem! I’m doing what I can by tossing buckets of water, but we need to get out this storm right quick.”

To accentuate her fears further, Rarity looked at the console and saw that not only was the gyroscope spinning, but it was moving at a rate it was making her dizzy just by staring. She shook her head in disbelief as she checked the magical readings. There was something about how they fluctuated from diving and spiking that made her panic. “This is bad,” she said as she looked over to Pinkie, “This is very bad! Get Rainbow and Twilight back inside, quickly!”

“Fluttershy! Flip the switch to make it blink! That will tell Rainbow to come back inside!” Rarity followed the order, toggling the switch and watching the spot light flash on and off. Rainbow looked back for a moment before banking to the left.

A moment later a completely drenched and disleveled Rainbow Dash and Twilight entered the command deck with Applejack behind her. “What the hay is going on?” she asked incredulously as Twilight galloped over to her console, “We were doing fine!”

“The storm is contorting in one spot,” Twilight explained as she took in the readings, “It’s acting in the way the Chrysalidas does for the Harmony, like a central focus point. It’s a feral arcane nexus, left completely unchecked by unicorns for years, decades! It wants the engine, and it’s pulling us towards it!”

From the windows they could all see streams of violet lightning converging together, forming a single massive bolt of magical power. The Harmony shifted towards it, and no amount of Pinkie’s arguments to the ship’s controls was going to change its course.

“What are we going to do?” Fluttershy mewled.

“Rarity, I need your magic,” Twilight continued, “Together we can envelope the Harmony in a magical ‘bubble’ that should protect us from the feral nexus. If my calculations are correct, we’ll pass through the nexus and continue right through the storm, and disrupt it enough that it will not follow us. We’ll have to be connected to the magic crystal as we work. I’m not going to lie, the magic we’ll both be feeling will be intense, but it’s the only thing I can think of.”

“And if this plan fails?” Rarity asked. Twilight shook her head and turned to the engineering console.

“I’d rather not think about it.” Twilight pressed a button on the console, causing it to open and reveal a much smaller crystal compared to the one inside the airship’s engine. Twilight’s horn then began to glow as she tapped into the main conduit towards the Chrysalidas, her face calm as she let the magic flow little by little. Rarity followed suit, opening herself to the magic of the engine, but unlike a trained scholar of the arcane arts who was used to such grand levels of power, Rarity felt a sharp pain in her horn. She was not used to magic of this magnitude flowing through her.

“Girls, I sure do hope you know what you’re doing,” Applejack said, “Here comes that big ol’ bolt.”

The Harmony flew ever closer to the feral nexus until the light of the main bolt illuminated the entire command deck with a bright violet glow. Hooves her pressed over eyes as the blinding light enveloped them all. Twilight began the work of covering the ship with her magical bubble, and through the pain Rarity added her magic to the spell, reinforcing the ley lines of the shield that in theory would protect them.

All theories had to be put to test eventually.

The Harmony slammed against the arcane focal point, the vibrations of the impact being felt as everypony was knocked from their hooves. Both unicorns grimaced in pain as the magic crackled against the shield, the migraine from the storm being unbearable.

“We need more power!” Twilight called, but Rarity was at her limits. She was a dressmaker, not a wizard from ages long forgotten. This sort of magical expenditure was completely alien to her.

“Sweetie Belle.” Rarity gasped as her breathing became ragged while she tried to pour every last ounce of her might into the spell, “I’m sorry for putting you in danger. I hope you can forgive me. Fluttershy... everyone... I...”

“Rarity!” Sweetie Belle yelled, galloping to her sister’s side, “I can help you!” Before Rarity could protest, Sweetie Belle’s horn glowed with meagre power.

Her addition to the spell was small, but used in a unique way. She was reinforcing not the actual bubble itself, but channelling her magic to strengthen Rarity’s pillars, strengthening the overall bubble by shaping the bubble in the form of an egg rather than Twilight’s sphere. Against the spell nexus it was enough, as the magic was focused on two strong points.

The shift in the ship itself as it was flung forward at incredible speeds was completely unexpected. The Harmony moved faster than it ever conceivably should have, everything streaking by like light as it hurtled through the sky. Ponies were flung from their hooves and slammed against the walls of the ship and each other. The link to the bubble was broken, and all three unicorns were thrown clear across the room.

Rarity landed hard on her back, the sting of the landing lingering as she tried to keep her eyes open. The pain was immense, the likes of which she never felt before, and it was harder and harder to keep consciousness. Groans were elicited from ponies around her, but her only concern right now was her sister, who lay unmoving right before her.

“Sweetie Belle...” Rarity called out weakly, but there was no response, and soon enough all she could was lay her head low and let the darkness take her.

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