• Published 18th Mar 2013
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Siren Song - TheDarkStarCzar

My name is Sea Swirl and I love swimming in the Ocean. That hardly tells you anything about a pony, though. My name is Sea Swirl and my Mother is a thief and a murderer. Maybe. Maybe that tells you too much.

  • ...

In Force

The distinction between a vessel of exploration and one built for war is little but the hoisting of a battle flag and the brandishing of the latter's armaments.

The vessel of exploration, for instance, must be reinforced and armored to survive the travails of the vast unknown, stocked as for a siege and with built in redundancies to account for the unexpected. Armaments can be no more sparse than a genuine ship of the line to defend against encounters of chance. That these are stowed, plugged and retracted is but a matter of moments for a trained crew to remedy.

Exploration, like soldiering, requires a considerable force of warm bodies and facilities to house them at some minimal level of comfort. A garrison or a dormitory depending on whether it's inhabitants take up tools or weapons, equally interchangeable things.

I felt this needed elucidation so that the fact of Princess Celestia sending us a vessel of exploration for our trip to Eagleland's weight is properly understood.

Equestria, it could be said, had no warships.

The Morningstar was a leviathan. Three hundred some yards of gasbag with a frigate sized hull hung pendulously beneath it, it was still surprisingly graceful and elegant. It's paint was of the brightest white enamel and it was all covered in gilt scrolls and flourishes. Numerous square hatches, emblazoned with the sun's image, kept the gundeck's bristling armament benignly sealed away.

Gossamer fins and rudder protruded from the hull to provide guidance and eight magically imbued motors drove the airscrews that would propel it's massive bulk through the sky.

It's enormous gasbag had been some artists grandest canvas and with a serene face, fins and embellishments it had been made up as a placid behemoth, a white whale of mythic proportions saddled with the florid silk sling to which the riggings were anchored.

It hung over Ponyville, casting it's shade across vast swathes of land as it drifted slowly on it's tether, following the gentlest breeze. Outwardly it was imposing and magnificent, humbling even.

As the element bearers gathered to appraise their prospective craft one was not humbled. "It might do, since this is an emergency."

"Might do?" Twilight came back, exasperated, "Rarity, Princess Celestia sent us the flagship of the Equestrian fleet, a cutting edge fusion of magic and engineering and you say it might do?"

"Oh, pish tosh." Rarity considered the gently hovering craft, "I do appreciate the sentiment, and sent by the Princess herself, no less, but it's hardly cutting edge in any real sense, is it? Every scrap of technology on it was well proven centuries ago, excepting for the motors, I suppose. Why from the style of construction and adornment I'd say that this crown jewel of the Equestrian fleet is nothing but a stitched together relic from the sky pirate era."

"Not to denigrate it too harshly, after all, it's impressive enough, but were it not for the expedience with which we must undertake our little junket I'd think a less...obtrusive method of transportation should do much better. A proper liner with the amenities that should, by right, be afforded to a lady of refinement and culture. I rather doubt a craft of this sort even has an onboard spa in which to relax. I certainly do hope that there is, at the very least, a well appointed dining room and we are not made to be served in the galley like common roughnecks."

"Rarity, I think you'd be dern lucky if there's cabins, much less a spa. I expect she's right 'bout it being a might... obtrusive, didja say?" Applejack drawled, head tilted towards the sky, "Treaty with them griffons or not I don't reckon we're going to look all that diplomatic plowin' into their territory with this flyin' fortress. No siree."

"Side from that we ain't gonna have anything like the element of surprise and it seems to me like we might be needin' just that afore this thing's through." She looked sidewise at Twilight, "Y'all sure we shouldn't just hop some freighter and keep all this on the down low?"

"Neither of you have any sense of adventure, do you?" Rainbow teased, "Here we're going to take on a whole nation of carnivorous savages with only ourselves and a crack force of elite super soldiers to steal back the most powerful relics on the face of the planet and you're worried about the element of surprise? We're the underdogs here which gives us the advantage, so don't worry about the element of surprise because the element of awesome is going to see us through!"

Rarity scoffed, but she felt it was insufficient to express her derision and did it again, "Being the underdog, by definition, means you are at a disadvantage no matter what Daring Do might have to say on the matter. Moreover, you should know better than anypony that the griffons are not, in fact, savages, being the one amongst us who has had long dealings with a griffon."

"Also, I don't know where this 'super soldier' nonsense came from. Forty Ponyville reservists, even with a few days of your oh so inarguably 'awesome' training, do not a crack force make."

"No sense of adventure at all." Rainbow Dash repeated. Pinkie Pie nodded her head in sad agreement and rolled her eyes which Rarity chose not to notice.

"I've been in contact with the Princess," Twilight said peevishly, "The griffons already know we're on the way and the ones that need to know already know why. They'll give us any assistance they can once we get there."

"It turns out they're as worried about having something so powerful as the Elements of Harmony in the wrong hooves as we are. They just want them and Sea Breeze out of the country and out of their talons."

"As for the Morningstar, it's the fastest way to get there from here. Simple as that, so we're stuck with it regardless. Looking at the map it seemed like we should be able to moor it on the West coast in with the rugged cliffs and peaks with very little chance of it's arrival being widely known. It'll be good to have it nearby in any case, we can't assume Sea Breeze is alone or unprepared and I for one wouldn't mind the insurance."

"We need to move, though. Standing here debating is just a waste of time and Sea Breeze's trail is already cold enough as it is. It's lucky that we found somepony who'd seen her actually boarding an airship for Eagleland. I for one would prefer not to rely solely on blind luck."

"How do we get up there? I'd like to get a look before I commit to anything." I grumbled. I'd never been on an airship and in truth I wasn't thrilled with the prospect.

"Leave it to me!" Rainbow Dash winked and took off only to return tethered to a rickety two wheeled cart. Fluttershy hitched herself in beside Rainbow Dash and nervously pawed the ground as we boarded. It would only carry two ponies and so took three trips to get all of us up there. I went second, along with Applejack.

I could hear Pinkie call up from the ground as we took flight, "Ooh! I call Captain! Dibs!"

A skeleton crew of six had been provided, Captain included. Pinkie simply chose not to acknowledge this fact and dressed herself in a finely cut blue jacket with over the top gold lame escutcheons and epaulets reminiscent of a marching band uniform. Perched on her head she had a black hat with an odd skull and crossed balloons emblem that, in my opinion, sent mixed signals.

The real captain was a dirty white coated stallion wearing only a blue, visored hat and a pair of binoculars. Compared to Pinkie's ensemble it was a little underwhelming, if somepony were to actually be judging based on such things. His black, square cut beard and hard black eyes gave him all the authority he needed.

Pinkie ignored him and he ignored her while she gave orders and shouted to non-existent ponies with flamboyant names. He nodded to me, and I saluted back, a habit left from my father.

To guide our journey, there were also a pair of navigators, both unicorns with the tools of the trade emblazon on their flanks. A golden brown mare whose bearing told that she was the first officer and a shifty looking yellow mare who was likely the second.

The sixth member of the crew was a carpenter and rigger who was off teaching the arriving reservists the rudimentary skills that they would need so as to serve as an airship's crew. It was a necessity that they be able to serve double duty so as to keep the crew compliment down.

"How soon do we sail?" I asked the Captain, it hadn't been discussed and I still had arrangements to make for Cappy.

"Yarr!" Pinkie exclaimed, "We be weighin' anchor jus' as soon as you scurvy dogs get your sea chests stowed below decks."

The Captain pointed a hoof at her and nodded, indicating that she was correct, "We're ready to go at a moment's notice, I'm just waiting for the rest of your troops to get onboard and get resupplied. Should be several hours if there's not too much dawdling."

"Dammit, I thought we'd have more time than that." I said, saluted and left the bridge to it's two Captains.

Stepping out on deck I was jarringly in the vertiginous open air with only the narrow deck and it's frighteningly short railings keeping me from the long drop to the ground. The deck rolled in the breeze, not unlike an ocean bound ship, but with an irregular rhythm. If it wouldn't require approaching those comically ineffectual looking railings and the certain death that lay just beyond them I would have thrown up. Instead I scrambled and stumbled below decks where the effect was much lessened.

The first deck down was a short one, just barely tall enough to walk in and crammed with cannon, harpoon guns and crossbows.

Rainbow Dash was present, inspecting the artillery and mumbling to her Lieutenant, Keen Edge. The projectiles for the harpoon guns and crossbows were fairly straight forward with a few variants, but the cannon had a whole range of loads available. We were armed with the naval standard of mince pie, which was sticky, durable and kept well, clear up to canister and ball that would tear a ship and crew to shreds should a battle escalate that far.

I climbed down to the next deck, which were the crew quarters and that's where I found the four remaining element bearers. They were arguing about the berthing arrangements.

I could see how it would be a problem. There were enough bunks for half the reservists, the other half, presumably, would be on duty while that half slept.

We, however, had the fortune of having proper berths with thin mattresses at the far aft of the ship, separated by a heavy curtain. It even had it's own head, such as it was, and while that should be the ultimate luxury on a ship, these ponies did not seem used to such spartan trappings.

Let's be honest, I'm not either, but I do not complain about such things, it's against my nature.

By way of redirecting the whining argument I told them what the Captain had said, "We can leave as soon as everypony's on board, a few hours or so. I've got to find someone to take care of my dog while I'm gone, though, so I'm going to take the next troop transport back down and meet you back here as soon as I can."

"We're leaving so soon?" Fluttershy asked, "Oh my, I'll have to make arrangements for my critters right away. Um, excuse me, if that's okay."

With that Fluttershy headed for the stairs and was gone. I wondered that she had some resource to care for, what I've been told, is a considerable number of animals on short notice.

Rarity spoke up, "I'll have to go immediately too, it's hardly enough time to assemble a proper wardrobe and I'll need a few basic necessities besides."

"Rarity, this isn't that sort of trip, you don't need to be all fancied up for this." Applejack grumbled.

"You expect moi to go to Eagleland for the first time, an emissary and a warrior for my nation looking...unkempt? Oh no no no. We may be asked to meet the Queen or a handsome young Duke. I'll need a considerable array of cosmetics and sundries if I am to survive this trip in style. It's bad enough that I have to be stacked like cordwood in this filthy old tub, I simply shall not do so without appropriate attire." Rarity said.

"Rarity, this is an airship, we have to keep the weight down as much as we can." Twilight growled, "You need to keep your baggage down to one trunk." She reconsidered, "A normal size trunk."

"Well I can save some considerable weight then, by not going, because I'm simply not leaving here without a few of my most important accessories and ensembles." Rarity tersely stated. I had a plan, though.

"Twilight's right," I said, "An airship can only carry so much weight and when I come to think of it I can't see why you'd want to bring a bunch of stuff from Equestria that you're just going to have to leave."

Rarity didn't know me well and though she was polite enough it was obvious just how hard she was trying to be so, "Pray tell, why should I have to abandon my essentials?"

"Oh, well I just thought that since you're going to a whole different country, one I've been told is rather cosmopolitan in it's own right, you'd probably want to sample the local fashions, maybe take home some prime examples and fabrics. I hear they're famous for their silks." I set it up.

"I must imagine that's true, but darling, why should it have anything to do with my going in unprepared?"

"Like I said, it's an airship and if you want to bring back the exotic on the way home it'd be best to travel light now." Peachy Sweet had told me about Rarity's desire for all things fashionable and I knew playing up the exotic would bring it home for the kill.

"I suppose." Rarity admitted, "So, one sea chest?"

"One sea chest." Twilight agreed.

"Fine, but I'm going to have Sweetie Belle jump on it and pack it down."

"Agreed." Twilight conceded, clearly happy to get off so easy. Rarity was easily swayed by the visions of new and novel patterns and fabrics and she left to ride the next transport down and begin her preparations.

"Sea Swirl, that was some mighty fine work right there." Applejack slapped me on the back, "I thought we were just keep going around and around about that 'til we all starved to death."

"By the way, why don'tcha just take yer dog to the farm and let my sis and brother look out for 'im?"

"I wouldn't want to put you all out like that, Applejack." I said.

"Shoot, it won't be a bit of trouble on the farm, just a bit of extra chow and Winona can keep him hemmed in if they tell her to."

"That'd be great Applejack, if you're sure you don't mind I'll go get him now." I said and she reiterated that she didn't so I left the ship to collect him and take him out to Sweet Apple Acres for some country hospitality.

After a tearful goodbye, during which Cappy absently watched hogs wallowing in the distance, cows placidly grazing, apples ripening, truthfully anything but me and my histrionics, a little yellow filly took his lead from me. "Don't you worry none Miss Sea Swirl, we'll take good care of old Cappy here."

"Are you sure it's not too much trouble? I could probably get Peachy Sweet to look after him." I sniffed, bringing myself back under control.

"Nope." A large red stallion, who'd been introduced to me as Big Mac, said with a small smile, "Happy to help, won't cause a lick of trouble."

"You don't know Cappy." I chuckled, "Seems like he's nothing but trouble and I never have been able to keep him tied up or in a cage, he just gets loose and wanders off."

"Shucks, that won't be no kinda problem for us, we'll just tell Winona to keep an eye on him and she'll keep him herded in so tight he'll be thinkin' he's a sheep by the time y'all get back." Applebloom bragged on her dog with a confident grin, "I expect she'll enjoy the challenge, maybe even the company."

I couldn't imagine that Winona would find Cappy's company all that stimulating. He's never shown any more interest in dogs than in ponies, but I felt reassured to have him in the Apple family's hooves. They simply oozed reliability and responsibility. Case in point, Applejack had apparently already been and gone in the time it took for me to retrieve Cappy and had headed out to help Fluttershy with her luggage and arrangements.

I thanked them again and left on a similar endeavor.

I have these random fits where I try and pretend I'm a normal pony like everyone else, considerate of others feelings instead of selfishly oblivious. What I generally do to alleviate these feelings is to do a random (usually poorly thought out) good deed and so, taking a cue from Applejack I decided I'd ask if Rarity needed help with her baggage. If she stuffed it in the way she was talking about it could be considerably heavier than she could easily manage by herself and I wouldn't mind grabbing an end.

Many hooves make light work and all.

Walking in I found myself in the middle of a fraught and chaotic situation. Rarity was scrutinizing an identical pair of scarves, hovering them in her magic over an already overstuffed chest. Sweetiebelle, her pastel purple and pink mane flopping, bounced gleefully onto the bulging pile and back to a nearby stool. Her efforts were repeated uncounted times, but the contents of the chest were already compressed as completely as they were likely to go.

Upon my entrance Rarity shifted her gaze to me with a lingering look of desperation. "I was wondering if you might need somepony to lend a hoof getting your baggage onboard."

For a moment she looked confused, "Oh yes, that would be such a dear thing of you to do. But I'm afraid I haven't pared my essentials down to the rather austere level to which I've been relegated. I'm afraid I may have to unpack and start over again."

I knew ponies like Rarity back home and though I knew how fruitless it was and how I would regret asking I asked anyway, "Do you really need all that, then? I mean you've got enough cosmetics to open a spa and truthfully you could just as well go unclothed, couldn't you?"

She gasped, "Oh, but how could I do that? I'm representing my country, my entire race to the griffons. I want to look my most elegant. I'll admit I could probably pick up a considerable number of these items just as well in Eagleland, but who's to say they'll have anything comparable? The griffon physique and sense of style is alien to me and their makeup and toiletries are an utter mystery. I simply must be prepared for any contingency."

She looked disgustedly at the sea chest and the hopping filly, "I don't see how I can refine my wardrobe any further without losing such versatility as to be nearly useless. This may take a while."

I considered the clock on the wall and concluded, "I really don't think that we have anything resembling a while, though. They seemed pretty antsy to get underway."

Rarity flounced herself down on a bench-like couch and held a hoof to her forehead, "Some things simply cannot be done without. What ever am I to do?"

Now it happens I knew what to do and had known from the beginning where this was going.

I had felt myself an interloper and not truly part of the group so I had attempted to minimize my presence and my hoofprint, so to speak. My own supplies were not in a large sea chest, but were instead all contained in my fairly moderate saddlebags. My needs were few and one side was filled with hygiene essentials while the other contained a notebook and pencils along with a generous helping of greenery for the long, dull trip.

That's not to say I wasn't allowed to bring more. Each pony had been allowed one chest and in electing not to bring one I had left room to allow Rarity another, should a pony choose to look at it that way.

It happens she did choose to see it that way. The words explaining this had barely left my lips before Rarity had squealed in delight, produced another chest and proceeded to fill it to capacity. Then she instructed Sweetiebelle to redirect her bouncing, which she joyfully did. Once those ministrations were complete she topped the chest off with some smaller odds and ends, forced it closed and exhaled in satisfaction.

"My, but I'm glad to have that done," Rarity said brightly, "And thank you for volunteering your allotment of space, that was very generous and I'm most grateful."

I mumbled something about how I didn't need it anyway and that she was welcome to it.

"Nonsense," She replied, "I'll have to do something to make it up to you when we return, a trip to the spa perhaps? I can't help but notice that a hooficure wouldn't go much amiss, it never does with me, anyhow."

"A spa trip actually sounds nice." I said. Also I think she was insulting my chipped up hooves, not that I had much I could say in defense of them. They were so rough they snagged bedsheets and I must confess they had gone far too long without care, "Should we head for the ship, then?"

She looked around her shop and sighed, "Yes, I do believe it's about time." She levitated both chests in her magic and ushered Sweetie and I out the door. She gave the shop one final longing look before she shut the door and locked it with an ornate skeleton key which she then tucked away in her saddle bag.

Those chests easily weighed two hundred pounds apiece and she floated them effortlessly. I had mistaken her need for help, she was a considerably stronger magic user than myself. My hypothetical good deeds tend to go this way, then I remember why I mind my own business; It keeps me from feeling foolish in just this way.

She set the chests in a waiting cart manned by two pegasus reservists. I got in with them, Rarity took several moments to bid her sister farewell. It was painfully heartwarming and I had to turn my head and hum to myself to keep my watery eyes from spilling over.

Soon enough we were onboard the Morningstar, luggage and gear stowed and under way.

The engines sent a low throb through the hull and the propellers whooped each time they came around. Within minutes it's steady, white noise nature all but obliterated it from my mind.

I tried to gain my air legs, but it took me a while. I get motion sick and it wasn't until near the end of the first day out that I could get up and wander the deck without feeling queasy.

Up on the deck the wind whipped away most of the sound, but I could hear a faint bleating from far below. Looking over the railing I found that we were over the ocean, land receding fast to our west.

A whale was pacing us, singing out to us and I smiled upon hearing the simple innocence of the whale song. It always made me happy. They sang of fine hunting, brave battles they had fought, family long gone. This one, though, was calling out to the white whale in the sky, emphatically demanding a reply.

"You can understand him." It wasn't a question. Twilight had silently come upon me and must have seen it in my eyes as I concentrated on the whale song.

"Yeah, that's my special talent for what it's worth, I can talk to marine mammals." I admitted solemnly. Not too many ponies knew my special talent, useless as it was it hardly ever came up.

"Fish too?" Twilight wrenched me from thought.

"Bleh!" I scrunched up my nose as if something stank, "Who'd want to talk to fish? Boring, boring creatures."

"Oh, so what's he saying?" She gestured to the whale.

"He's calling up to us, asking how we got clear up here." I chuckled, "He thinks we're a whale too."

"So why don't you tell him what we are?" Twilight asked.

"I could, but it's loud. We'd have to warn the crew." It was loud, too, but that's not why I hadn't returned the whale's queries. It had novelty value, I suppose, but there's usually very little worth communicating across the species gap.

From this high up I'd have to amplify myself considerably to be heard clearly in the water, but Twilight seemed to think it was worthwhile and quickly made the rounds to warn everypony.

As large as it seemed with it's massive gasbag, it was still a small ship.

I cast my amplifying spell and made some guttural noises by way of greeting to the whale beneath us. Amplified, they shook the whole frame of the ship. The whale responded and I started a conversation in moans, whistles, clicks and grunts while the ship reverberated uncomfortably.

I told him that we weren't actually a whale, that this we were in the ship, which is a thing he recognized, of course he wanted to know how that worked.

"Tell him that it's just a big bubble that's buoyant in the air." Twilight said after I'd told her the translation and I responded as much, adding that we were roughly the size of full grown seals.

His reply, which I'm fairly certain was meant to be a joke, compared us to barnacles, but I informed him that the ship itself was not alive and had been built by our kind. That fascinated him and he let force a rapid series of statements and questions that I could scarcely keep track of.

"What did he say?" Twilight sensed it was an atypical response. By this time I'd drawn the attention of the whole crew, the majority of them clustering around me in interest.

"He asked if we're like griffons or seaponies. He's familiar with both species and takes it that our fabrication skills relate us to one or the other." I smirked, "I expect with the two choices we're actually a lot more like griffons."

"Seaponies?" About half the crew asked in unison and began muttering amongst themselves.

"Seaponies." I confirmed. It was just like a landlocked herd of Midwesterners to be unaware of them, I wish I was.

"Those are supposed to be nothing but legends." Twilight gasped.

"Oh, they're real. Really annoying." I rolled my eyes.

"When we have more time you'll have to tell me all you know about them. I'd be fascinated to hear about them!" Twilight said enthusiastically. I chuckled at Twilight's naive request, then replied to the whale that we were much closer to griffons in size and stature but our faces resembled the seaponies more. Then I asked him how he came to be so far out in the ocean.

Honestly it was a ploy to buy time. I'd talked to whales before, their stories were long and repetitive, but they would tell them in great detail with the merest prompting. The whale droned on in clicks and whistles. I turned to Twilight and noticed I had the rest of the crew's rapt attention as well.

"Seaponies," I told them, "Are as real as you or me and they're not so hard to find as to justify their 'legendary' status. If we were home I could take you right to them on a day trip, but I think you have the wrong idea."

"I mean sure, they have a huge undersea kingdom, and from a distance it's impressive as anything, but up close of course it's made of sand, spit and offal, just overblown sandcastles."

Then I looked to Twilight, "There's very little in the way of actual artifacts either. They don't have hooves so they have a tough time making anything finely wrought. Also they lack the written word, all their knowledge is recorded mnemonically in their songs."

"That sounds amazing!" Twilight exclaimed, she still didn't see what I was getting at.

"You would think so, I suppose, but what it means in practice is that they sing. They sing all the time. It's cute for a day, maybe a week, but extended interaction is terribly irritating." I gave a nasty glare over the rail to a section of the sun flecked sea that undoubtedly harbored seaponies, "I think they became legendary because anypony who knows them at all wishes to forget about them and all that singing, so they don't talk about them."

"It's terrible but it gets stuck in your head forever. Seriously, I hate seaponies. I cannot overemphasize how much they get on my nerves."

"How come you know about them at all?" Somepony, Pinkie, maybe, asked.

"Well...." I hesitated. She had me here and I just had to admit to it, "When I was a little filly just learning to surf (I never did learn to very well) I got pulled in a riptide and a school of seaponies happened by and saved me."

"So, they saved you and you still hate them just because they sing? That sounds kind of rotten to me." Pinkie asked quizzically from the crowd of crewmembers.

"Yes, well they didn't just save me. They also showed me their undersea kingdom and sang to me and wanted to be my friend forever and ever. All that jazz, but once they took me home they just kept pestering me all the time, wanting to sing and play, they wouldn't leave me alone."

"It got so bad I stopped going near the ocean for months until they finally gave up on me." It's hard for me to explain aloud without my coming off as an ingrate and a jerk, but I'm an introverted pony and I found their attentions to be creepy, even though I know they were well intended.

It's like knowing your neighbors and having a small yard. You end up being forced into conversation every time you step into your yard when all you wanted was to get the hose from the tool shed. You just end up staying inside, garden all unwatered. Now imagine the whole ocean, that you'd practically been raised in, suddenly rife with overfriendly neighbors.

Oh, and did I mention they sing?

Because they bucking sing.

Pinkie looked at me doubtfully but kept her thoughts to herself. The whale was just coming to his long trek out from the coast and the fishing on the way so I returned my attention there and soon enough his story petered out. Apparently he'd been following us for a while.

I asked him how he knew of the griffons and he told me of their fishing fleet and how he'd seen them swoop in and snatch fish directly from the water. He was clearly impressed by it. His massive bulk made any thought of such maneuvers incredible and unimaginable to him.

The captain came out on deck and gave me a serious look that I knew the meaning of. The deep bass rumblings of my conversation had shaken the ship enough and he wanted me to call it a day. I nodded and told the whale that.

The whale had a surprising response, "He says that it may look big from where we are, but the ocean is crowded and noisy all the time and if he could get a moment of peace like we can he'd cherish it too. Then he asked me a funny thing, he wants to know what it's like living in the air?"

"That's kind of an ambiguous question, but ask him what it's like living in the water, because it must be like that, natural. It's not like we're even aware of it anymore than he must be aware of the water." Twilight prompted and I told him that. It would have taken too long to explain walking about on dry land without making allusions to the bottom feeding creatures of his world.

He replied with an untranslatable phrase that may as well just be, 'Ah. I see.' or somesuch thing. It was unsatisfying for both of us. Then he asked if he could see one of us before we went, so I asked if some pegasus would flit out where he could see them.

"I'll do one better and go down to meet him." Rainbow Dash replied and with that she bound off the ship and dove towards the whale.

He raised his head skyward to get a better vantage. With Rainbow Dash to give perspective I finally realized his true girth. It was amazing. Bigger than the ship, maybe bigger than Canterlot castle. He wasn't just big, he was quite possibly the biggest thing I'd ever seen that didn't qualify as landscape itself.

Rainbow Dash fearlessly landed on his mottled grey skin, just beside his enormous eye. An eye that looked small and beady on him, but would require three ponies sprawled out to span, I noticed. Then she stretched her wings to their full span, flapped them once demonstratively and took off again, headed towards us.

The whale was overjoyed. I could only characterize it as chuckling. He gave us a long look, slapped his fluke in farewell and made to dive but he stopped short. Gesturing with that massive head he indicated that we should look towards the Eastern horizon, then spouted briefly and dove away.

"Did you see me!?" Rainbow Dash laughed.

"You were great! You were all like, zooom!" Pinkie gestured to indicate a dive with a last second pullup, "Then you were all, skree!" She stopped the motion abruptly and took put out her other arm to indicate the whale and landed her hoof on it. "Just when I thought, oh no she isn't, then oh yes you did!"

"I was pretty awesome, wasn't I? I bet noponys ever landed on a whale like that before!" Rainbow finally noticed that Pinkie was the only one paying her any mind, "Um, guys, what are you all looking at?"

"Two griffon airships dead ahead!" The first officer yelled.

"Are we supposed to have an escort?" "Aren't we too far out for them to be meeting us?" "Do you think they're pirates?" "Are they trying to sink us in international waters?" The crew rumbled.

Pinkie had replaced her pirate hat upon her head and was struggling to install a pegleg on one fore hoof. "Avast ye lubbers! Beat to quarters! Load all the cannon with custom load number seven! Keep the hatches battened 'til we can get in close to give 'em a proper broadside! Double time!"

The crew looked to the real captain expectantly. He grimaced but finally nodded his assent, "Do as she says. Don't roll out those guns until you hear the order. My order."

"Be not misled me hearties! Would that they were intent on treating with us in a respectful manner a signal would have been given forthwith! Hoist the Jolly Roger!" Pinkie bellowed and then set to doing so herself, pegleg stuck straight out from the knee, flopping crazily and banging against everything including herself as she tied the flag on with deft hooves and hoisted it into position.

I was going to protest. It's a fact that a pirate flag should only be flown if you mean it and it put us in mortal danger should we be seen with the skull and crossbones flying. But when I saw Pinkie's version of the Jolly Roger I just let it go. It was a hot pink background with a slightly menacing looking cupcake over a crossed pair of balloons. Not even a proper skull like her hat. That should do little more than confuse the incoming griffons. Her friends attempted to contain her enthusiastic battle preparations to no avail.

Pinkie installed herself on the prow of the ship, saber in her mouth and her pegleg on a small blue and pink cannon of her own. Around the hilt of her sword she shouted a garbled battlecry, "For the glory of friendship and the Equestrian empire!"

Author's Note:

In keeping with what is known of Equestrian warfare the Morningstar has mince pie as a projectile for it's cannons. It does not, in fact, contain meat. It's a form of apple pie and if I were using any pie for truly offensive purposes either it or pecan pie would be my choice.

Despite the fact that a previous fic of mine involved the flutterponies I more or less promise that I've no intention of including seaponies, but I thought they needed a mention.
Of course if I were planning to include them I'd probably lie about it anyway.
Maybe Sea Swirl's badmouthing them is foreshadowing for her imprisonment with the sea pony choir?