The Voyage of the Mareitania

by Harms Way

First published

The EMS Mareitania, Equestria's newest and biggest ocean liner, sets off on her maiden voyage across the Equestrian Ocean. But unfortunately for all aboard, things may not go as expected.

The Equestrian Ocean has seen many types of ships over the years. From the time of large sailing vessels relying on their pegasus crew members for power to the age of the paddle wheel steamships. Nowadays, ships are driven by powerful steam turbines. One such ship is the recently completed flagship of one of Equestria's top shipping companies, the EMS Mareitania.

Leading her on her maiden voyage is Steel Blade, a young Captain who was just promoted weeks prior. But he will have his hooves full as threats of a possible attack by changelings linger over this historic event. With this in the back of his mind, he must move forward if he wants to make his company proud. But once out on the open ocean, anything can happen.

Will Steel and Mareitania complete their first voyage? Or will the threats of attack turn into reality?

(Currently being rewritten. Set after Season 6 finale.)

Chapter One

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"I always do hate coming here." Steel thought to himself as he stood on a sidewalk across from the main office of the Red Apple Line, one of Equestria's most successful shipping companies. "This city isn't like Des Mane at all. At least the ponies there treated each other like neighbors." As soon as he said that in his head, a pony wearing strangely shaped sunglasses bumped into him.

"Watch where you're going, you fool!" The pony said before walking away. Steel would've said something back, but he chose not to this time due to more important matters. He then sighed to himself before using his magic to levitate a paper out of his satchel.

"What exactly does Dotted Line want that required me to come to HQ?" He asked in thought as he read the message again.

To Steel Blade,

I know that you've only been with the Red Apple Line for a short period of time. But I would like for you to come to RAL Headquarters in Manehattan to discuss something that would be better for a face-to-face discussion rather than being written. Come as soon as you receive this letter. I look forward to speaking with you.

Dotted Line
Red Apple Line Chairpony

"Well..." Steel said to himself as he straightened up his clothes and put the paper back in his satchel. "Lets get this over with." With that said, he began making his way across the street, being careful to stay out of the path of any oncoming carriage. Once across, he looked up at the main entrance to the building and gulped before slowly making his way up the steps to the twin glass doors. He then used his magic to open up one of them before stepping inside.

"Welcome to the Red Apple Line Main Office." A unicorn mare said while sitting behind her desk. "How may I help you?"

"Uhh.... hi." Steel replied as he slowly made his way over to the desk. "I have a meeting with Dotted Line."

"I see." She replied before looking down at some papers on her desk. "And can I get your name?"

"Steel Blade."

"Ah." She said. "Mr. Line has been expecting you. His office is just down the hall. Last door on the left."

"Ok." Steel replied. "Thank you." With that said, he started making his way down the hall, thinking of what exactly this meeting would be about. "What if I did something wrong and he wanted me to come here just so he could see my face when he fires me?" He thought as the door to Dotted Line's office drew closer. "Come on Steel. Keep it together. You've done nothing wrong. At least as far as you know."

Soon, Steel stopped directly in front of the door to Dotted Line's office. He breathed in a large amount of air before slowly exhaling as he tapped on the door with his front right hoof three times.

"Who is it?" A voice asked from inside the room.

"Dotted Line?" Steel asked in a nervous tone. "It's... Steel Blade. You sent me a letter to come and speak with you here?"

"Yes." Dotted's voice replied. "Please come in. This is a very important meeting that needs to be taken care of right away." Steel did as he was told and slowly opened the door and stepped inside before closing it behind him. He then looked over toward his boss, a white colored unicorn stallion with a light blue mane, who was sitting behind a desk with several different colored binders stacked on one side.

"So what exactly did you need sir?" Steel asked as he made his way over to a chair in front of Dotted's desk. "Did I do something wrong?"

"You think I'd bring you here if you did something wrong?"

"Good point."

"Exactly." Dotted said. "You needn't worry about anything Steel. You've done nothing wrong during your time here."

"That's a relief." Steel thought as Dotted levitated a red colored binder, almost the same color as Steel's coat, from the stack of binders.

"I'm sure that you're aware of our newest company flagship being completed just a few days ago. Right?"

"The Mareitania?" Steel asked. "Yeah I heard about that before I came here."

"Good." Dotted said before opening the binder. "Now the reason I've asked you to come here is because I've been looking at potential candidates for who will be in command of her when she embarks on her maiden voyage." Steel's pupils shrank as he heard this. "Bear in mind that there were quite a few who would be great Captains." He continued. "But however, I'm looking for one who I know will be with her for many years."

"Many years? Where exactly is this going?" Steel thought as Dotted flipped through a few pages in the binder.

"So a few days ago, I just so happened to come across your file and decided to give it a look." Dotted continued. "And I must say that I was impressed by what I saw." Steel raised an eyebrow as the white unicorn continued flipping through pages. "Graduated at the top of your class from the Equestrian Merchant Marine Academy. Skilled in sword fighting. Good vision and hearing. And according to your former teachers, very mature despite being so young."

"Woah." Steel said in his mind. "I didn't think I left that good of a reputation there."

"That brings me to where we are now." The white unicorn said. "I understand that you're currently the Fourth Officer of the Celestia."


"So you have at least some experience out at sea."

"I suppose you could say that." Steel said while rubbing his hoof against the back of his head. "But I'm not so sure that what experience I have qualifies me as even a potential candidate for the Mareitania. I've only been with the Celestia for about 6 months now."

"Well under normal circumstances, we here at the Red Apple Line would have our most experienced Captain take a brand new ship out on her maiden voyage." Dotted replied as he put Steel's binder on top of the stack. "But he's due for retirement next week, so we'd then have to find another pony to succeed him. So this time, I wanted to find somepony who would be with her for quite a long time." After saying that, Dotted got up from his chair and proceeded to look out a window that was behind his desk. "That is why I've decided to name you as Captain."

"What?!" Steel exclaimed in shock. "Me?! Captain?!"

"I know it sounds ridiculous." Dotted said as he looked back toward the surprised stallion. "An employee who's only been with us for not even a year is now Captain of our newest liner. But I'm sure you'll do fine."

"I uh....." Steel said, still stunned by his new rank. "I don't know what to say. You really think I'm the best one for this job?"

Dotted simply nodded his head. "Now if you'll come with me..." He said before walking over to the door. "We have a ship to take out on her sea trials."

"Yes sir." Steel said before getting out of his chair to follow his boss.

The carriage ride from Red Apple Line HQ to the harbor didn't last long, only about fifteen or twenty minutes. On the way there, Dotted was telling Steel all about the specs of his new liner, her length, beam, draft, tonnage, etc. Steel was amazed by what his boss was saying. If what he was saying was true, the Mareitania was going to be the largest and fastest ship on the trans-equestrian route.

"So we'll be testing her maneuverability and speed today as well as how quickly she can go from full speed to a stop." Dotted said. "These tests will take a few days to complete. But if she passes, her maiden voyage will be in a couple of weeks."

"But what if she doesn't pass?"

"Then we'll have to see what needs to be done to make sure that she will pass." He replied. "But I'm quite confident that the scenario you're thinking of won't happen."

"Lets hope not." Steel thought as the carriage came to a stop outside the main gates to the Red Apple Line's largest pier.

"Take a look out the window." Dotted instructed as he slowly pointed his hoof toward the glass. Steel did as he was told and turned his head only for his eyes to widen and his jaw to drop at what was out there for him to see.

"Sweet.... mother of Luna...." He said as he just stared at the vessel that was currently tied up at the pier.

"Captain Blade...." Dotted said before opening the door of the carriage, allowing Steel to step out before he joined him. "Allow me to introduce you to your new ship. I present to you...." He then slowly raised one of his front hooves to point at the ship. "The EMS Mareitania." All Steel did in response was just stare. The first thing that caught his attention were the four giant red and black funnels. It was certainly a change of pace from the Celestia, which only had one. "Step lively now, Steel." Dotted said, snapping the red unicorn out of his self induced trance. "We're on a very tight schedule."

"Yes sir." He replied before following his boss toward a strange metal arch with some kind of green field of magic inside. Standing on each side of this thing was a pony from Manehattan's local police force. "Uh.... Dotted?" He asked before the chairpony went through the arch. "What in Equestria is this?"

"It's a changeling detector." One of the police ponies, a unicorn mare, replied. "In order to prevent changelings from disguising as passengers or crew ponies, the scientists at the research facility up in Canterlot created a way for us to detect any disguised changelings. Now anypony entering in or exiting through the harbor must pass through one of these checkpoints."

"Does it work?"

"Well, we haven't caught any yet." Another one replied. "But the scientists said that if a changeling tried passing through, the field of green magic would turn red. Now please move through if you're wanting to enter."

Dotted nodded his head before walking through the arch, passing right through the green magic like it wasn't even there. Once through, the police mare on the left waved her hoof to signal Steel that it was his turn. He nodded in response before slowly making his way through the wall of magic.

"Have a good day now." She said after Steel emerged on the other side. Both unicorns nodded in response before turning their respective attentions back to the ocean liner that was tied to the dock. It looked enormous from the pier as they gazed directly up the side. As they did this, Steel noticed smoke rising out of the four massive funnels.

"The tugs should be here any moment to take us out for the trials." Dotted said before he turned and started walking toward a gangway leading onto the ship.

"And the Maritime Safety Inspector?" Steel asked as he followed.

"She should be here anytime now."

"Alright then."

As both of them walked aboard, Steel's jaw dropped once again. Only this time, it was because of the luxurious interior. From highly decorated wood paneling to beautiful paintings, everything he saw could rival the finest hotels in all of Manehattan.

"Pretty nice, eh?" Dotted asked after noticing his companion's expression.

"How much.... did all of this cost?"

"Quite a lot of bits." He replied. "So please be extra careful with her."

"Y-yes sir."

"Good afternoon, gentlecolts." A mare's voice said from behind them, making both stallions turn around. Standing before them was an earth pony mare who was wearing a dark purple business outfit. "I am Ms. Harshwhinny, the Maritime Safety Inspector assigned to this ship."

"I know you." Steel said, making her raise an eyebrow. "Aren't you the Games Inspector for the Equestria Games?"

"I am a mare of many hats." She replied as she looked at Steel. "And who exactly would you be? This activity is restricted to crew and company ponies only. No passengers allowed."

"He may not look like it." Dotted said. "But this is actually the stallion who will be in command of this liner."

"Is that so?" She asked in an unimpressed tone before looking at the red unicorn. "Well if he's the Captain, then why isn't he in uniform?"

"He uhh.... just got promoted." Dotted replied sheepishly. "He'll be sure to be in uniform by the maiden voyage."

"Putting quite a lot of faith and trust in somepony so.... inexperienced." She said before looking at her watch. "Well even though I'm having a wonderful time chatting, we do have tests to conduct. That being said, the tugs should be arriving right.... about.... now." As soon as she finished speaking, a chorus of small whistles erupted from outside. "Right then. Now let us make our way to the bridge so the tests can begin."

"Of course." The white stallion replied. "Follow me everypony." With that said, Dotted began walking down the corridor toward the bow with both Ms. Harshwhinny and Steel in tow.

Chapter Two

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As Steel, Dotted, and Ms. Harshwhinny made their way out onto the boat deck, Steel's eyes grew wide at what he saw. Comparing this ship to his old one was like comparing a small house to a castle. Everything was bigger in scale. Glancing up, his mouth went agape at the sight of just how big the four funnels were.

"This is incredible." He said while looking around as Dotted led the way to the bridge. "I never thought I'd see anything like this."

"I can certainly agree with that." Ms. Harshwhinny replied. "This is quite an amazing vessel in terms of looks."

"Thank you, ma'am." Dotted said. "I was hoping you would like her."

"But looks won't matter if she can't pass these tests." The earth pony continued. "And my expectations are quite high considering the amount of bits you've invested into her."

"I'm confident that she will pass." Dotted replied before the group reached the bridge. "And it is here that I will let Captain Blade take over and run the tests."

"What?!" Steel exclaimed in surprise. This unexpected outburst made both ponies turn to look at him. Upon viewing their gazes, Steel just let out a sheepish chuckle before clearing his throat. "I mean uh... yes sir." He said before walking into the bridge.

"Trial by fire." He hears Ms. Harshwhinny say to Dotted as he walks over to the side of the ship where the mooring lines were being released.

"Don't screw this up." He said in his head. "Don't mess up. Don't mess up. Don't mess up." Soon, he could feel himself beginning to shake as the pressure slowly started getting to him.

"Captain Blade." Dotted said, breaking Steel's moment of panic. "A word in private, please."

"Sure." He replied before the two ponies made their way into a small cabin behind the bridge.

"Now Steel..." Dotted began to say after closing the door behind them. "I know you must be nervous right now. And that is very understandable."

"Nervous is an understatement, sir." He replied. "Are you completely sure about this?"

"Steel. I wouldn't have done this if I wasn't sure. I know you're nervous and I know that I just placed a large amount of weight on you. But I know you can do it. I've seen your record from the Academy. You're the top of your class. I believe in you, Steel."

"But what if I fail?"

"You won't."

"But-" Steel's response was quickly cut off by Dotted placing his hoof on his back.

"You won't fail." He repeated. "Now I wasn't going to show you this until after today's tests, but the room we're standing in will be your cabin."

"My.... cabin?" Steel asked before giving the room a more thorough look. A large bed, much bigger than his old one on the Celestia, sat in the middle along the back wall. On both sides along the wall were nightstands with lamps mounted on both. A small table sat beside one of the windows with two padded chairs, one of them for him most likely. Along the right wall was a door that, when Steel opened it, revealed a private bathroom with his own bathtub.

"Now you're free to add or remove anything in here to make it more comfortable for you." Dotted said as Steel turned around to look at him. "And I know this isn't your full uniform....." He continued before he opened one of the drawers of the nightstands with his magic and levitated a Captain's hat out. "But at least now your crew will know who's in charge." This made Steel smile a little bit before he took hold of the hat with his blue magic and placed it on his head. "Not a bad look." Dotted said, prompting Steel to laugh for a moment. He then turned and walked back over to the door leading onto the bridge. "Are you ready to get this started?"

Steel glanced upward at the bill of his hat before he breathed in heavily. He then slowly exhaled before feeling a new sense of confidence flow through him. "Yes." He replied. "Yes I am."

"Good." Dotted said before opening the door. "Let's get started then." Steel nodded before following his boss out onto the bridge. Once the two reemerged, Steel calmly walked over and propped his front hooves up on the railing of the starboard bridge wing and saw that all mooring lines have been released. He then proceeded over to the port bridge wing and found all of the tugs waiting with their lines attached.

"They're waiting on you, Captain." Ms. Harshwhinny said, making Steel look back at her. "Signal them to take us out."

"Right." He replied before going back onto the bridge. Looking around, he soon found what he was looking for. "This should do it." He thought before taking hold of Mareitania's whistle lever with his magic. Soon, he pulled down on it, sending a long blast from her whistle across the city. Once he let go, each of the tugs responded with a toot from their own horn before they all began pulling the large liner away from the dock. "Excellent."

"What are your orders, Captain?" A voice from behind asked, making Steel turn around. A green unicorn stallion with a black mane and tail wearing a black Officer's uniform stood before him.

"Who exactly are you?"

"My name is Port Side." He replied. "I am your First Officer."

"Nice to meet you." Steel said. "I am Steel Blade."

"It's good to meet you as well, Cap." The green unicorn replied.

"As for my orders...." Steel said before seeing that the tugs have pulled the ship completely away from the pier and the bow is now facing down the Hoofson River. "How about we give the tugs some help."

"Dead slow ahead then?"

"Yes." He replied. "Dead slow ahead."

"Aye sir." Port replied before enveloping each engine telegraph lever with his green magic. Steel looked on as each handle moved to the 'Dead Slow Ahead' position. A minute later, he could feel the turbine engines begin to slowly turn the four bronze propellers. He then turned to the pony who was at the helm. "Keep us toward the middle of the river." He said.

"Yes Captain." The pony replied.

"So." Port said as Steel looked back at him. "First day as a Captain, eh?"


"Where were you before this?"

"Fourth Officer on the Celestia."

"Quite the promotion." Port replied in an impressed tone. "You must have something special about you."

"Perhaps." Steel replied. "But I'm not sure."

"Hmm..." He said. "Well it looks like Mareitania isn't the only thing being tested today then." This made Steel look at him with a puzzled expression. "Seems like you're being put to the test as well." As the two ponies conversed, Dotted made his way onto the bridge.

"Ah. Good. I see you've met your First Officer." He said. "I'm hoping that the two of you will work well together."

"I'm sure we will, sir." Port replied.

"How are we doing on speed?"

"Lets see...." Steel replied. "Looks like she's doing about five knots right now."

"Good." Dotted said. "The tugs will release us as soon as we enter the mouth of the Hoofson. From there, we will navigate to the testing area just off the coast."

"Yes sir." Steel replied.

As the large liner made her way down the Hoofson River accompanied by her flotilla of tugboats, Steel looked on as crowds of ponies gathered on both sides of the river. He could see various camera flashes along with many ponies waving as the ship passed by. Seeing this made him smile as he had never seen anything like this before.

Before long, the liner had reached the mouth of the Hoofson River. Steel noticed this and grabbed a megaphone from inside the bridge.

"Release the tugs!" He shouted to the ponies on the forecastle. The ponies replied with a quick salute before going to work on removing the towing lines. As they did this, the crew members stationed on the stern did the same as well. Now for the first time, Mareitania was sailing all on her own.

"So where is the testing area?" Steel asked before Port grabbed a map with his magic.

"Not far." He replied. "Just a few miles to the southeast."

"Right then." Steel said before looking over at the pony behind the helm. "Ten degrees starboard. Course 120."

"Ten degrees starboard. Course 120." He repeated before turning the wheel to the right until the rudder indicator was at the position Steel requested. Soon enough, the liner began turning to starboard.

"Engines at Half Ahead." Steel requested.

"Half Ahead. Aye sir." Port replied before moving the levers into position. As Steel was finding his rhythm and comfort in commanding the liner, Dotted Line and Ms. Harshwhinny looked on as the ship began to pick up speed.

"He seems to be doing well so far." Ms. Harshwhinny stated as she watched him. "I'm impressed."

"I knew he was up to the task." Dotted replied. "I can tell that he'll make a fine Captain."

"We shall see." She said before looking at her watch.

Roughly 30 minutes passed until Mareitania reached the testing area. The area was a wide open space with several buoys positioned in a straight line at intervals of 100 yards.

"Alright Captain." Ms. Harshwhinny said as she looked at Steel. "Bring us up to maximum speed."

Steel nodded his head in response before looking over and grabbing each engine telegraph lever with his magic. He then moved each of them down to 'Full Ahead'. Soon, he could feel the vibrations of the engines as they sped up, driving the massive liner faster through the water.

"What's our speed?" Dotted asked after a few minutes.

"20 knots and rising." Steel replied. This response made Dotted smile.

"The fastest ship in Equestria could only do 20 knots!" He said in thought. "And we're still going faster!" He stayed like this for several minutes as Steel kept calling out the speed until it eventually stopped at 24 knots. This speed made Mareitania the fastest ship in all of Equestria now.

"Now that we are at full speed." Ms. Harshwhinny said. "I want you to perform a series of hard turns in both directions to see how she handles."

"Yes ma'am." Steel replied. He then turned to the helmspony. "Starboard 45 degrees!" He called out.

"Starboard 45 degrees." The pony replied before quickly spinning the wheel to the right until he could no longer turn it. Mareitania quickly responded to this by slowly rolling toward her port side as she went through her turn.

"Port 45 degrees!" Steel called out.

"Port 45 degrees!" The pony repeated before spinning the wheel to the left until he no longer couldn't. As the ship came out of the turn, Steel felt her straighten up before rolling toward her starboard side as she started turning to the left.

"Very nice reaction times." Ms. Harshwhinny replied. "Not exactly turning on a bit, but it's still better than most of the other liners. Now I want to see how fast she can go from full speed to a complete stop. Bring us to the beginning of the line of buoys."

"Yes ma'am." Steel replied. After a few minutes, Mareitania soon approached the line on a parallel course. As they approached the first buoy, Steel made his way over to the port side bridge wing. "Wait for it..... Wait for it......" He said in his head until the bow passed the first buoy. "Now! Full Speed Astern!" He called out, making Harshwhinny begin her timer. Port Side quickly moved each lever from 'Full Ahead' to 'Full Astern' before he joined Steel and Harshwhinny out on the bridge wing. Moments after, Mareitania's propellers stopped before her two inboard propellers began to churn in the opposite direction.

All ponies aboard looked on as the large liner began slowing down, passing buoy after buoy along the way. Time began to slow along with her as each second passed.

"Come on. Come on." Steel thought as the almost 32,000 ton liner slowed down until her bow had stopped just behind one of the buoys. Once she came to a stop, Port moved the levers to 'All Stop' before joining Steel, Dotted, and Ms. Harshwhinny on the bridge wing.

"How did she do, Ms. Harshwhinny?" Dotted asked.

"850 yards." She replied before looking at both Steel and Dotted. "Well done. That is quite acceptable." Steel and Port each looked at each other and smiled.

"That's fantastic!" Dotted exclaimed.

"Indeed." She said. "Now take us back to Manehattan and we will perform more tests tomorrow. If all goes well, then this ship will be ready for her maiden voyage."

Chapter Three

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Two weeks had passed since the Mareitania completed and passed her sea trials. Ponies had been working round the clock to get the ship ready for her maiden voyage to Mareseilles, Prance. Chairs, beds, paintings, and crates containing various foods and drinks were brought aboard in preparation until the day finally came.

11:30 am (Manehattan)

The air was filled with excitement as hundreds of ponies gathered at the docks to catch a glimpse of the Mareitania before she departed on her maiden voyage. Ponies that already boarded were lining her rails, waving goodbye to their friends or family below. A band stationed by the main gangway leading on board was playing a joyful tune. Cranes were busy loading the last of the cargo into the holds and the sound of tug boats standing by for the scheduled noon departure just added to the excitement.

As all of this was happening, Steel sat in his cabin behind the bridge, reading a newspaper that was brought to him earlier in the day. While it contained mostly stuff that didn't really interest him, one article did catch his attention. It was an article about Princess Twilight Sparkle and her friends taking a two week vacation on board the royal clipper, Solar Wind. While it would have been nice to have them on board the Mareitania for her maiden voyage, he guessed that they probably didn't want to take the spotlight away from him or his ship.

After folding up the paper and putting it on his bed, he stepped out onto the bridge before walking out onto the starboard bridge wing. The brass buttons on his new white uniform shined in the light of the sun, which made him smile whenever he looked at it. Shifting his attention down toward the pier, he could see crowds of ponies lining the dock, with various camera flashes coming from reporters and newsponies documenting this historic day.

"Captain." Port's voice said from behind him, making him turn around to see his First Officer standing a couple of feet away with a clipboard being held in his green colored magic. "My check of the preparations is complete. She's ready for departure."

"Excellent." Steel replied. "Then all that's left is waiting for our departure time." He then levitated a pocket watch out of his jacket. "Which is in less than half an hour."

"Is there any other tasks for me to complete?"

"I want you to oversee the last of our cargo being loaded on board." He said. "Make sure nothing is damaged. We wouldn't want our maiden voyage to be tarnished by some passenger's belongings being destroyed."

"Yes sir." Port replied before saluting, earning one from Steel in return before he walked away to follow the order given to him. Alone once again, Steel turned to look back down the side of his ship toward the dock below just as a carriage pulled up. However, unlike the numerous other occurrences of this type of event happening, this carriage was swarming with members of the Royal Guard. This made Steel look on in curiosity as the door of the wagon opened and a white hoof could be seen extending out.

"Well would you look at that." Steel thought as he saw Princess Celestia, the ruler of all of Equestria, step out of the carriage. But she was not alone. Soon enough, seven other ponies and a little dragon stepped out before stopping beside the Princess of the Sun. Steel recognized six of the ponies as the bearers of the Elements of Harmony: Princess Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, and Rarity. However, the identities of the light purple unicorn with the purple and cyan mane and the young dragon eluded him. But seeing them with the others made him shrug it off as just being their friends.

"Maybe they changed their minds and decided to come be a part of Mareitania's maiden voyage after all." Steel thought as he looked down at them. But then a memory of what the guards at the gate leading onto the pier flowed into his mind. "Or maybe....." He continued in thought while rubbing a hoof under his muzzle. "Nah. Come on, Steel. There's no way that they could be changelings. The detector would've gone off if they were."

He was still looking down at the ponies when the sound of hooves approaching made him look up and turn around to find Dotted standing in front of him with a big smile on his face.

"I'm glad to see that your uniform is fitting you nicely, Captain." He said. "I can tell that this is going to be a glorious day for the Red Apple Line."

"Yes it is, sir." Steel replied. "I will do my best to make sure that neither I nor this ship disappoints you or the company."

"I'm sure you will."

"And it looks like we've attracted some rather interesting passengers." He continued before motioning for him to look down. Dotted did as instructed and looked over the side before his mouth went agape at what he saw.

"Sweet Celestia!" The white unicorn exclaimed, making Steel quietly chuckle for a moment before acting normal when his boss looked back up. "This is so exciting!" He said in a joyful tone. "Never in our company's history have we had any member of royalty travel on one of our liners."

"First time for everything, sir." Steel said as the chairpony of the Red Apple Line danced around on the bridge wing like a young colt who just got an extra cupcake for dessert. This spectacle made the red unicorn chuckle softly again as Dotted quickly rushed off to most likely greet the special passengers. After losing sight of the chairpony, Steel levitated his watch back out of his coat pocket. "Twenty minutes til departure." He thought before making his way into the bridge. Once in, he noted how much the sunlight made the polished brass instruments shine. A feeling of pride began swelling up inside him as he looked around.

"I still can't believe that this is actually happening." He thought while placing a hoof on the helm. "Captain of the largest ship in all of Equestria."

"Captain.... Blade!" Dotted's voice said in an exhausted tone from behind. Steel turned around to find his boss panting heavily and sweating profusely in the doorway leading into the bridge, almost like he sprinted all the way from the pier to the bridge. "The Princess.... would like to meet you..... before we depart."

"Uh.... which one?"

"Celestia!" This response made Steel's pupils shrink. Never in his life had he ever seen the Princess of the Sun in public until today.

"P-Princess Celestia wants to m-meet m-me?" He stuttered. Dotted just nodded in response before quickly motioning with his hoof to follow him. Steel obliged and the two unicorns set off toward the main boarding lobby where the Princess and the bearers of the Elements of Harmony were presumably waiting. Along the way, Steel couldn't help but be extremely nervous. This would be the first time he would be conversing with royalty and thus wanted to make a good first impression.

"If their experience on this voyage goes well, who knows how much the Red Apple Line could benefit from it." Dotted said excitedly as the two rushed through a corridor. "We could be the most prestigious line on the Equestrian Ocean!"

"That would be very nice, sir." Steel replied just before they went down a stairway. "But let's focus on right now instead of the future."

Dotted's cheeks turned slightly red when he heard that. "Yes." He said before clearing his throat. "I uh... suppose that is the proper thing to do." After saying that, the two turned a corner before entering the hallway leading into the main boarding lobby. Even from where they were, Steel could make out the unique mane of Princess Celestia. He gulped a bit as they approached.

"Just play it cool, Steel." He thought as they entered the room. "She's just another passenger. No different than anypony else."

"Princess Celestia." Dotted said, gaining the alicorn's attention along with the respective attentions of Twilight and the others. "I'd like for you to meet the stallion who is in command of this glorious vessel, Captain Steel Blade." Celestia's eyes fixated themselves on Steel, who shook slightly. All around the room, ponies gazed on as she held out her hoof.

"It is an honor to meet you, Captain." She said in her calm and soothing toned voice. "I must say that you have a beautiful ship here."

"T-Thank you, your highness." Steel replied before shaking her hoof. "But the honor is all mine. To have you all here is a pleasure."

"Quite so." Dotted added.

"And I must say." Steel continued before looking over at Twilight and her friends. "It certainly was a surprise to see you all here. I guess you decided to cancel your planned vacation to come be a part of this historic voyage instead. Hmm?"

"What?" Twilight asked as a confused look appeared on her face. "Oh! Yeah. We uh... definitely thought that this was a much better way to relax than what we had planned." She then looked toward her friends with a sheepish smile. "Right?" Each one of them quickly nodded their heads while agreeing with the lavender alicorn. But the look of nervousness plastered on each of their faces caught Steel by surprise. Before he could do or say anything though, Dotted cleared his throat.

"Well it is a delight to have you on board." He said before pulling a watch out of his coat pocket. "Now if you'll excuse us, we must be on our way. The beginning of our company's flagship's maiden voyage is just minutes away." With that said, Dotted turned and walked away. "Come along, Steel."

"Yes, sir." He replied before turning to follow. But as he walked away, he could faintly hear whispers coming from behind. "Is there anything else you needed?" He asked before looking back toward the group of ponies who were still smiling at him.

"Nothing that I can think of." Twilight quickly replied. "We'll just uh.... be on our way now. It was nice to meet you, Captain." Soon, they all turned and walked away. Steel did the same, but occasionally looked back at them before he had to turn a corner to get back up to the boat deck. As he walked, he couldn't help but think about the reaction they displayed when he mentioned their planned vacation. It was certainly one that he was not expecting. Almost like they didn't even know what he was talking about.

Once back on the boat deck, Steel made his way over to the port side bridge wing just as members of the crew were tying up the tow lines from the tugs. Pulling out his watch again, he saw that the time had come for departure.

"Port." He called out, gaining his friend's attention.

"Yes Cap?"

"Sound the whistle. It's time to make some history."

"Aye aye, sir." He replied before grabbing the whistle lever with his green colored magic. He then pulled the lever down, sending a long blast from Mareitania's whistle across the city. Once done, the sound of the tugs' whistles tooting in response could be heard before they started pulling the massive liner away from the dock. The crowd of ponies on the pier cheered and waved at the ponies up on main deck as the liner was slowly pulled backward into the Hoofson River.

"Looks like the tugs may need our help again." Steel said before grabbing the engine telegraph levers with his magic. Soon, he pulled them back into the 'dead slow astern' position. Down below, the engineers soon brought the turbine engines to life as two of the bronze propellers began churning in reverse to aid the tugs.

"45 degrees to port." Steel calmly ordered to the helmspony.

"45 degrees to port." He repeated before turning the helm counter-clockwise until he couldn't turn it any longer. After a minute or so, the bow of the ship was facing down river.

"Straighten out the rudder." Steel said. "And dead slow ahead."

"Dead slow ahead. Aye sir." Port replied while pushing the telegraph levers forward with his magic.

"Rudder at 0 degrees." The helmspony added.

After hearing that and sensing the engines go from astern to ahead, Steel took hold of the whistle lever in his magical grip before pulling down on it, sending another long blast from the massive whistles across Manehattan. Soon after, the large vessel slowly started to move as now all four propellers were slowly rotating, pushing the massive liner forward.

"Mareitania is under way." Port said as he joined Steel on the port bridge wing. As the two looked out at the crowd of ponies lining the shore, both of them waved as they passed by. Looking down at the boat deck, Steel could see Princess Celestia and Princess Twilight along with the rest of her friends as they all waved toward the ponies on shore. They all seemed delighted as the ship moved down the river. Seeing this made him remember the conversation he had with them. Upon making a mental note to keep an eye on them whenever he could, he turned his attention back toward the waving ponies and waved at them again.

"Let's hope that everything goes according to plan." He thought before glancing down the river as the mouth approached. From there, it was nothing but open ocean for five days until Mareitania would arrive at Mareseilles, Prance.

Chapter Four

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With nothing but open ocean out in front of them, Mareitania was soon brought up to her cruising speed of 24 knots. As the wind blew across his face, Steel stood on the starboard bridge wing with both Port and Dotted alongside him. All three ponies were smiling with pride as their ship sliced through the water.

"Well. I'd say that was a pretty smooth start to this voyage." Dotted said before patting Steel on the back. "Excellent work."

"Thank you, sir." He replied before turning to look at his boss who just smiled at him. "I'm glad that you're happy with how things are going."

"Why wouldn't I be?" He asked. "We're on the largest, fastest, and most luxurious ocean liner in all of Equestria. I can tell that leaving her under your command will be a decision that I won't regret."

"I'm sure it won't be either, sir." Port replied before giving Steel a playful nudge. "He'll be fine. Especially when he's got me here as well."

"Splendid." Dotted replied. He then turned around and proceeded to walk toward the stairs leading down to the boat deck. "Now if you'll excuse me, I shall go and see how our guests are enjoying things thus far. Keep up the good work, you two."

"Yes sir." Both Steel and Port said simultaneously while saluting their boss. As Dotted disappeared down the steps, both of them turned to look back out at the ocean ahead of them.

"I'm glad to see that we've attracted quite the list of passengers." Port said as he leaned up on the railing. "The Princess of the Sun, the Princess of Friendship, and the rest of the bearers of the Elements of Harmony. That alone will only add to the spectacle of our first voyage."

"I suppose." Steel replied. Hearing this, Port looked at his friend with a raised eyebrow. Surely Steel should've been excited about having such famed passengers on his ship. But from the tone in his voice, he wasn't happy at all.

"Something on your mind, Cap?" He asked.

"It's nothing."

"Doesn't sound like nothing to me." He replied. "Come on. Say what's on your mind."

"I'm..... just a bit confused. That's all."

"About what?"

"Give me a second." Steel replied before walking onto the bridge and entering his cabin. A minute passed before he emerged with the newspaper he had read earlier. "Take a look at the article on the second page." He said before giving Port the paper. Once secured in his magical grip, Port opened the paper and looked at the article Steel had mentioned.

"Huh." He said as he read what was printed. "That does seem a bit odd." He then folded the paper before looking at the date at the top of the front page. "But then again, this paper was printed yesterday. Maybe they changed their minds and quickly rushed up to Manehattan from Mareami to join us."

"Maybe." Steel replied.

"Well the only other explanation is that they're changelings. And that can't be true because the detectors would've gone off when they passed through."

"Yeah. I suppose you're right." Steel replied. "Maybe I'm just worrying over nothing. This whole experience has been stressing me out beyond anything else. Including the academy."

"Hey." Port said before putting a hoof on Steel's back. "I get that you're under a ton of pressure right now. I'm sure I'd be doing the same thing if I was in your position. But I just want you to know that if you ever need help or wanna talk to somepony about anything on your mind, I'm here for you."

"Thanks Port." He replied before sighing slightly. "That means a lot to me right now."

"Anytime Cap." Port said before the two looked back out at the ocean ahead of them.

As the hours passed by, the smoother things became for everypony on board. The ship was on course and at full cruising speed. No mechanical problems had been reported. And supper time was rapidly approaching as the sun started to dip beneath the horizon behind them. Choosing to take advantage of the calm, Steel decided to do something productive and was busy polishing the steel of his sword in his cabin. The metal shined brightly in the light of the lamp on his nightstand, making him smile with pride before putting it back in the scabbard and securing the strap around his body.

"There you go." He said to himself before three knocks on his cabin door made him look toward it. "Enter." He called out, prompting the pony on the other side to open it. Once open, Steel saw Dotted looking happier than he normally was. "Ah. Hello Dotted. Is there anything you need?"

"I was just wondering if I could speak with you for a moment." He replied before stepping in and closing the door behind him.

"Of course." Steel said before sitting down at the small table by his window. Dotted sat down in the other seat and was about to say something before the sound of his stomach growling cut him off. "Hungry sir?" He asked before chuckling slightly.

"Yes. As a matter of fact, I am." He replied. "But I was hoping to ask you what your plans for dinner were."

"I was thinking about just having something brought up here." Steel replied. "That way if I'm needed on the bridge, I wouldn't be far."

"Nonsense." Dotted replied. "You can't just sit in here throughout the entire voyage. Another part of being Captain is being social with your passengers."

"I uh...."

"Which is why I would like for you to join me, Princess Celestia, Princess Twilight, and the rest of her friends for dinner." This made Steel's pupils shrink once he heard what Dotted said. "We'll be having carrot dogs, hayburgers, and for dessert, we'll be having delicious chocolate cake."

"Huh. I was expecting something fancier."

"Well for the first dinner of the maiden voyage, I think that this was a good choice." He replied. "Simple, easy and quick to make, and it would remind anypony of home."

"Well when you put it like that, I guess it makes sense." Steel said before his own stomach growled. He then sighed before looking back up at Dotted. "But eating dinner with Celestia, Twilight, and her friends makes me feel nervous. What if I say something inappropriate? What if something happens and I have to come back up here?"

"I'm sure Port can handle things for a few hours while we dine."

Steel breathed in heavily and slowly exhaled. "Alright." He said before a smile appeared on Dotted's face. "Let's get going then, shall we?"

"Yes." The white unicorn replied. "I'm quite famished." With that said, the two ponies got out of their chairs and exited the small cabin. Once on the bridge, Steel looked over at the pony at the helm. A dark blue colored earth pony with a black mane.

"What is your name, sailor?" He asked, gaining the pony's attention.

"Huh?" He asked. "Oh! Uh... My name is North Star, Captain."

"Well then, North." Steel replied. "Mr. Line and I will be away from the bridge for a few hours. First Officer Port Side will be in charge until I get back. Understood?"

"Y-Yes sir." North quickly replied.

"Excellent." He replied before giving the pony a quick salute. Once done, he and Dotted stepped out onto the bridge wing where Port was standing. "Port." He said, gaining the green unicorn's attention. "You're in charge until I get back from dinner."

"Aye Captain." He replied as Steel and Dotted made their way down the small staircase to the boat deck. While they walked along the deck, Steel looked up and was amazed by how beautiful the stars looked in the night sky.

"Pretty calm night. Wouldn't you agree, Steel?" Dotted asked, making Steel look at him.

"Yeah." He replied. "The stars are beautiful right now."

"I'd think that it's a good sign for things to come." He said as the two turned and walked inside. Once in, Steel noticed many ponies conversing with one another over different topics. But once their eyes saw him, they'd turn and smile before giving him a small wave. Steel just smiled back and waved in response. Once he and Dotted walked by and were away from the groups, he sighed slightly and looked a bit down toward the floor.

"I never had to socialize with the passengers back when I was on the Celestia." He thought as they approached an elevator. "This is gonna be a lot harder than I thought."

The dining hall was filled with many ponies as they conversed about various topics. Everywhere you looked, there were ponies sitting at tables, giving their food orders to their waiters, and sipping their drinks. At the 'Captain's Table', Steel sat between Dotted and Princess Celestia. The look on his face was one of discomfort as his eyes looked back and forth across the room at all of the ponies. Every now and then, he'd take a sip of his tea before looking over at Twilight and her friends. They were chatting among themselves just like everypony else was doing.

"Maybe Port was right." He thought while looking at them. "Maybe I am just imagining things." After thinking that, he looked down and saw that the food on their plates were left untouched. "Are they not hungry or something?" He thought just as the sound of something being hit against a glass repeatedly made him look over to find Dotted propped up on the table with his fork tapping against his glass.

"May I have everypony's attention please?" He called out. Soon after saying that, the room became silent as each pony turned to look at him. "Greetings everypony. My name is Dotted Line. I am the Chairpony for the Red Apple Line. Firstly, I would like to express my thanks to each and every one of you for joining us on this historic voyage. I have had the pleasure of seeing many fantastic ships cross this ocean. But this crossing by far will most likely be the most memorable one. And I have each and every one of you to thank for it." After saying that, the ponies in the room cheered and hollered. "And now." He continued after the crowd quieted down. "I would like to introduce you all to the pony who is in command of this luxurious liner. He is one of the Equestrian Merchant Marine Academy's best graduates and we at the Red Apple Line are proud to have him. Fillies and gentlecolts. I give you Captain Steel Blade!"

The room once again became filled with applause as Dotted motioned for him to stand up. With a sheepish smile on his face, Steel did as instructed and stood up before propping himself on the table as Dotted sat back down in his chair.

"Thank you." He said over the roar of the crowd. "Thank you. You all are too kind."

"Speech!" A pony called out from the crowd. Soon enough, several ponies were chanting the same thing.

"Speech! Speech! Speech!"

Steel kept his sheepish grin shown as the ponies in the room kept repeating themselves over and over. He knew that the only way out was to do something he never liked doing. That of course being made to speak in front of large crowds. He looked down toward his plate, closed his eyes, and breathed in deeply before sighing heavily, making sure not to groan as that would send the wrong message.

"Alright. Alright." He replied after looking back up toward the ponies in front of him, earning another cheer from the room. Once the room went quiet again, he cleared his throat while looking out at the crowd. "Well. As Dotted Line said before. Thank you all for joining us on this maiden voyage. This is actually my first crossing as a Captain. But I promise to do the best I possibly can to ensure a smooth voyage." He then turned toward Celestia and Twilight. "And I would especially like to thank Princess Celestia, Princess Twilight, and the rest of her friends for joining us on this voyage as well. I'm sure you all were in quite the rush to get up to Manehattan from Mareami to be with us on this crossing."

"Huh? Oh! Y-Yes!" Twilight quickly replied. "We certainly didn't want to miss this special event." Once again, Steel found himself surprised by how she responded. The rest of her friends quickly nodded their heads in agreement. Steel looked at all of them as they smiled at him before looking toward Princess Celestia. She just seemed to be calm and relaxed as she sipped some of her tea.

"Anyways." He continued before looking back out to the crowd. "Right now, we are currently travelling at a speed of 24 knots. With that said, I'm proud to announce that we are not just on the largest ship in all of Equestria. We're also on the fastest as well." The room erupted in cheers once again, cutting off what Steel was going to say. Instead of continuing to speak, he waited until they became silent once more. "At this speed, we should be arriving in Mareseilles in roughly four to five days. I hope that each of you enjoy yourselves until then. And thank you all once more for being a part of this historic voyage." After saying that, he sat back down as the room gave one more round of applause before going back to their respective conversations.

"That was a very excellent speech, Captain." The calming voice of Princess Celestia said. This made Steel's pupils shrink as soon as he heard that as he turned to find the ruler of all of Equestria looking at him with a warm smile.

"I-It was?"

"Yes." She replied. "I have a feeling that you will be a fine leader."

"T-Thank you, Princess." He stuttered in response, visibly surprised by what she said. "Coming from you, that means a lot to me."

"You're welcome." She replies as the doors leading into the kitchen open to reveal many unicorn waiters carrying plates of chocolate cake in their respective magical grips.

"Ah. Good." Steel said as the ponies began distributing the plates to each table in the room. "It's time for dessert." He then turned to look at Twilight's friend, Pinkie Pie. "I hope you enjoy this dessert, Pinkie Pie." He said. "I know how much you love cake."

"Y-Yes I do." She replied just as a plate was placed in front of her. "I just love eating cake."

"Well then enjoy." Steel said before the rest of his table were given plates of chocolate cake. As he began eating, he made sure to glance over toward Pinkie as she looked at the cake. Soon, she leaned forward and took a bite out of the cake. He looked on as she chewed it for a few seconds before swallowing. After that, a smile formed on her face until her whole face turned green. "What the buck?" He thought just as Pinkie raced out of the room.

This predictably made a few ponies scream while others spat out their cake.

"The chef's trying to poison our protectors!" One of them cried out as Twilight and the rest of her friends rushed out of the room in the same direction that Pinkie Pie did.

"Calm down, everypony." Dotted called out. "Please. Remain calm." He then stood up and walked over toward the door leading into the kitchen. "I will have a word with the chef. Just please. Remain calm. There's no need to panic." With that said, he opened the door and walked in. As he did this, Steel looked down at his slice of cake. It was absolutely delicious. Probably one of the best slices of cake he ever had. He then looked over at Princess Celestia who hadn't touched her slice of cake yet.

"I'm so sorry about this, Princess." He said. "I'm sure that there's some explanation for this."

"I'm sure there is as well." She replied before getting up. "If you'll excuse me. I'm going to go check on how Pinkie Pie is doing."

"Of course." He said as she walked away. After she disappeared through the doors leading out of the dining room, Steel got up and walked over to where Pinkie's plate was. He then used his magic to pick up a fork before taking a chunk out of the uneaten portion of the cake. After examining it closely, he put it in his mouth. Much to his surprise, it tasted exactly like his slice. "There's nothing wrong with the cake." He thought as he chewed and swallowed before looking to see that the crowd was watching him.

"Captain?" One of them asked. "Are you alright?"

"Yes." He replied. "I'm perfectly fine. There's nothing wrong with the cake at all."

"B-But then why would that pony have a reaction like that?"

"I'm not sure." He said. "But I can assure you that the cake is not poisoned. Please. Continue on with your meal." After saying that, he heard multiple sighs of relief. "I better go see how Dotted and the chef are doing." He thought before he started making his way toward the kitchen. With each step he took, he could hear pans falling to the floor, plates shattering, and the distinct sound of the chef arguing with Dotted. Stopping just outside the door, Steel breathed heavily before gently pushing the door open. "Uh... hello?" He asked while poking his head into the room to find Dotted in front of him arguing with the head chef.

"How dare you accuse me of trying to poison somepony!" The chef yelled. "You insult my honor and integrity as a chef!"

"Well how else do you explain her having that kind of reaction?" Dotted yelled back.

"Uh... guys?" Steel said just as the chef picked up a pan that contained a whole cake covered in chocolate frosting.

"Would you like to try some for yourself?" The chef asked. "Here!" After saying that, he immediately threw the pan in Dotted's direction. But the white unicorn ducked out of the way, allowing the cake pan to smack Steel directly in the face. The sound of Dotted gasping was soon heard as the pan slid down his face until the edge of it caught the tip of his horn.

"Steel!" Dotted said before using his magic to get the pan off of his friend's face. "Are you alright?"

"I'm.... fine." Steel grunted in response before his eyes opened up and glared at the chef who threw the pan.

"Captain Blade!" The chef said. "I'm so sorry! I did not intend to hit you with that pan."

"What's your name, chef?"

"Michelin." He replied.

"Well then. Chef Michelin." He said. "I wanted you to know that your cake is not at fault for what happened."

"See?!" Michelin called out as he looked toward Dotted. "I told you it wasn't my cooking!"

"Then what could've caused Ms. Pinkie Pie to have such a reaction?"

"I'm not sure." Steel replied. "But I tried some of her cake. It was exactly like mine."

"I see." He said before turning back toward Michelin. "Well. It would seem as though I owe you an apology then, Chef. I'm terribly sorry for accusing you."

"Apology accepted." Michelin replied. "Now if you don't mind. I have a mess to clean up."

"Indeed." Dotted said before turning to look at Steel. "Well. I suppose we should be on our way then."

"Agreed." He replied before grabbing a rag and wiping off the remnants of the chocolate cake on his face. "If you need me, I'll be on the bridge."


"If you would like, Captain." Michelin said as he started to pick up the pans on the floor. "Allow me to bring you some freshly made tea as a token of apology for what happened."

"Sounds good." Steel replied before turning and walking out the door with Dotted close behind.

"Well..." He said. "I certainly hope that this unfortunate incident doesn't paint the company in a bad light."

"I'm sure it won't, Dotted." Steel replied as the two ponies got onto an elevator to go up to the boat deck. But as the elevator began to go up, Steel couldn't stop thinking about what would cause a pony to react the way Pinkie Pie did to eating a piece of chocolate cake.

Chapter Five

View Online

The light from Luna's moon filled the sky as Steel appeared on the boat deck. The smell of the fresh air made him breathe a calming sigh as he looked around. Even though his new ship was beautiful in the daytime, it was just as beautiful in the night. Many lights illuminated the four red and black funnels, making them stand out in the darkness and the deck was lit up in a warm glow as he started making his way toward the bridge.

As he walked, the sound of somepony throwing up caught his attention. Looking behind him in the direction of the sound, he found Pinkie Pie slumped over the railing with the rest of her friends around her. Her loud sounds made him feel uneasy as he continued on.

"I still don't know why this is happening." He thought to himself before he reached the staircase leading up to the bridge wing. "Her cake was perfectly fine. Nothing at all was wrong with it." As he started to climb though, the sounds of his hooves on the metal steps alerted the pony on the wing to his presence.

"Hey Cap." Port said as he turned in time to see him get up the steps. "How was dinner?"

"Eh. It was alright until it was time for dessert." He replied. This response surprisingly made Port chuckle for a moment.

"I bet." He said before pointing at Steel's uniform. "Looks like you got in a fight with some cake and lost."

"Huh?" Steel asked before looking down to find chocolate stains on his white uniform. He then groaned while lightly smacking his muzzle. "Not really the reason why though."

"Well what happened?" Port asked as Steel propped himself up on the railing.

"You know Princess Sparkle's friend, Pinkie Pie. Right?"

"Who doesn't?"

"And you know she likes cake."

"I'd say more love than like." Port replied as the two stared out at the open ocean in front of them. "Why?" Steel simply replied by pointing his hoof back toward the deck. Port looked back to find Pinkie Pie still vomiting as her body was halfway over the railing with Twilight and Princess Celestia patting her back with their hooves. "What's her problem?" He asked as he kept looking.

"Beats me." Steel replied. "Her cake had nothing wrong with it. I tried it myself. And you don't see me vomiting my dinner overboard."

"Weird." He said. "Maybe she's seasick or something."

"It's possible."

"Anything else happen?"

"Chef Michelin and Dotted got into an argument after Dotted accused him of trying to poison everypony. I kinda got caught in the crossfire."

"Ah. So that explains the stains on your uniform."

"Yep." He said before he yawned heavily. "Well. I guess it's getting to be that time."

"Gonna head for bed?" Port asked as Steel yawned again.

"Yeah." He replied. "Gonna have to be up early for the day watch." After saying that, he turned and started walking toward the bridge. "Good night, Port. See you in the morning."

"Good night, Cap." Port replied as Steel walked inside the bridge toward his cabin. Once inside, he looked at North who was still at the helm.

"Good night, North." He said, making the pony look at him. "Your relief should be here soon."

"Yes sir." He replied. "And good night to you too." After hearing that, Steel made his way into his cabin before closing the door behind him. When he heard the latch click shut, he let out a sigh of relief before undoing the strap that kept his sword strapped to his body. He then looked at the scabbard for a bit before he levitated it up to the mounting hooks above the door. He was glad to have some time before the voyage to install them himself. Once the sword was placed, he removed his uniform before bringing the white jacket up to his face. As he did this, he could see the chocolate stains that Port had mentioned.

"Good thing I have more than one of these." Steel said in his mind before he looked at his dresser. He then tossed the dirty uniform into a hamper before he walked over to his bed. After a long day, he eagerly looked forward to getting some sleep. As he got closer, a long yawn escaped from him before he hopped up and laid down onto the comfy mattress. Once his head hit the pillow, his eyes drifted closed as he used his magic to pull the blanket over him. "Good night, Mareitania." He said in a soft tone before yawning again. With the gentle rolling of the ship from side to side with the waves, he soon found himself on the path to his dreams.

The next morning, Steel awoke to a beautiful sunrise on the horizon. The clear sky and calm sea made him grow confident that this was going to be a good day. After rolling himself to the edge of his bed, he sat up and stretched out his forehooves before getting out of bed and going to his personal bathroom. Just as he closed his door behind him, he heard three knocks coming from the door leading into his cabin.

"Who is it?" He called out.

"It's Port, Cap. Just checking to make sure you were up. You got some visitors here that want to speak with you."

Steel rolled his eyes after hearing that as he looked in the mirror above the sink. After last night's incident, socializing with the passengers was the last thing he wanted to do. He then sighed quietly to himself, realizing that turning passengers away when they wanted to speak with him wouldn't look good either.

"Fine." He replied. "Just give me a few minutes."

"Understood." Port replied.

After a minute in the bathroom, Steel emerged from it and quickly put on a clean uniform before walking over to the door that led onto the bridge. Just before opening it though, he gave himself a quick check to make sure he was presentable. Nodding to himself afterwards, he proceeded to open the door to find Princess Celestia, Princess Twilight, and Pinkie Pie standing in front of him.

"Ah. Good morning to you all." He said before bowing. "Is there anything that you need from me?"

"Not at the moment." Celestia replied. "Though I'm sure Pinkie Pie here has something that she'd like to say." She then looked down at the pink mare, who looked up at her with an odd expression. One that a filly would give their parent if they were told to do something that they didn't want to do. "Isn't that right? Pinkie?"

Pinkie's eyes then shifted over to Twilight.

"Well don't look at me!" The purple alicorn said, surprising Steel as he never thought he'd hear the Princess of Friendship say something like that. "You're the one that got sick and made a scene." The stallion's eyes went back and forth between Twilight and Pinkie before she sighed and turned to look at him.

"I'm... sorry that I ruined dinner last night." She said while looking down and rubbing one of her forelegs with the other. "Can you... forgive me?"

"Sure... I guess." Steel replied, unsure of how to properly respond to what was going on. "Just uhh.... try not to do it again."

"Oh you don't have to worry about that." Celestia said, making Steel look up at her. "I'll be sure to watch what she eats from now til the end of this voyage. And do excuse the way my student is behaving. She's never really been in this position before. I'll be sure to talk to her about this in private once we're done here." Twilight's eyes shot open after hearing that before she turned and looked at Celestia with a frightened expression.

"Very uh.. well then. Is there... anything else you need?" Steel asked.

"No. That is all that we came here to accomplish." Celestia replied. "We'll be on our way now. Have a good day, Captain Blade."

"Thank you. Same to you as well." He said before the three of them walked away. Steel followed them outside and watched them until they disappeared inside. "Well..." He thought before turning to walk back onto the bridge. "That was... interesting."

As Steel began to take charge of the bridge, Dotted Line walked through a corridor in the First Class section of the ship. A few beads of sweat could be seen on his forehead as he moved along.

"I hope everything is alright." He said to himself as he looked down at a paper in his magical grasp. It was a passenger manifest containing the names of all the passengers on board and which room they were staying in. As he walked, he glanced between the paper and the numbers on each door he passed until he stopped in front of a door. "Room A5: Princess Celestia + 8." He said in his mind before putting the list back and knocking on the door.

He could hear a few whispers behind the door before he heard hoofsteps approaching from the other side.

"Password?" A mare asked on the other side.

"Password?" Dotted asked. "I'm sorry. I don't have time for games. I am Dotted Line, Chairpony of the Red Apple Line and owner of this liner. I wish to come in and speak with Princess Celestia." A few more whispers could be heard before he heard somepony undoing the lock before opening it. In the doorway stood a light purple colored unicorn mare with a purple and cyan streaked mane.

"Sorry." She said. "But uh... Princess Celestia isn't here at the moment. I'm sure she'll be back in a bit though."

"Oh." Dotted replied as he looked at the mare, who seemed nervous as she stood in front of him. "Well. Would you mind if I come in and wait for her then? It's important that I speak with her."

"Uhh.... sure. I guess." She replied before stepping aside and allowing him to enter. Once inside, Dotted heard the mare close and lock the door behind him. "Right this way." She said as she walked in front of him down a small hallway. "Uhh... girls? We have a visitor so make sure you're presentable!" A few more whispers could be heard as the two of them stopped in front of a closed door that Dotted knew led into the parlour room of the large cabin.

"So how long will it be before Princess Celestia returns?" He asked.

"Shouldn't be too long." She replied before opening the door. "I think they just went to go speak with the Captain." Dotted nodded as he walked inside to find Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Rarity, and Applejack lounging around on the various chairs and couches in the room.

"Uh... Starlight? What's he doing here?" Rainbow asked as she looked at the mare. Dotted recognized that name from the various newspapers he read before looking at the mare.

"He's just gonna wait here until Princess Celestia returns. Apparently he needs to speak with her."

"Oh. Uh... alright then."

"So..." Dotted said as he took a seat next to Fluttershy on the couch she was on. The butter yellow pegasus quickly scooted to the far side of the couch in response. "Are you all enjoying the voyage so far?"

"Oh I'd say it is wonderful so far, darling." Rarity replied. "Except for what happened last night."

"Yeah." Applejack added. "I uh... didn't expect Pinkie Pie to throw up her meal."

"I don't think anypony did." Dotted replied. "How is she by the way?"

"She's doing alright, I suppose." Starlight said. "She's with Celestia and Twilight." After she said that, the room fell into an awkward silence as each of the mares kept glancing between the lone stallion and each other. Dotted himself was growing a bit uncomfortable by this. But he needed to stay and speak with Celestia.

As he opened his mouth to speak again though, the sound of the door leading into the room opening cut him off.

"Oh Chrysalis!" An unexpected voice said. "This pony food is not sitting well for me." Each of the mares immediately looked at the door with frightened expressions as the door swung open far enough for Dotted to find a changeling standing in it. His eyes shrank in horror as Starlight hit the changeling in his head with her hoof.

"Scythe! You idiot!" She called out.

"What'd I do?" He asked as he rubbed his head before looking at Dotted. "Oh..."

"Ch-ch-changeling!" Dotted cried out in horror before he was suddenly tackled to the floor by Fluttershy. Dotted struggled as she stood over him, trying to get up. But she had the leverage to keep him down. "What... in Equestria is going on here?" He grunted while still trying to get up.

"Well... So much for keeping a low profile." He heard Starlight say before seeing green magical flames engulfing each mare in the room, revealing a room full of changelings. Dotted looked on in horror as they all circled around him before one of them spat some green gunk on his horn. He tried using his magic, but found that whatever that stuff on his horn was, it nullified his magic. "Help! Somepony help me! Changelings!" He cried out at the top of his lungs, hoping somepony nearby would come to his rescue.

"Scream all you want, pony. No one can hear you." The one holding down his limbs said. "Our brilliant Queen has soundproofed this room."

"Wh- what are you doing here? What do you want?"

"We'll let our Queen answer that." Another one replied before they lifted him onto the couch. Once done, one of them continued sitting on him to make sure he wasn't able to escape. Dotted continued struggling to get up, but the weight of the changeling on him proved too much to overcome. Eventually, he stopped struggling and just silently observed as the various changelings conversed with each other about what to do with him.

After a few minutes, he heard three knocks on the door leading into the cabin. The changelings all looked at each other before one of them transformed into Starlight Glimmer and left to go answer it. Each changeling froze in place, some visibly shaking while others gulped audibly as the sound of the door closing could be heard.

"What do you mean we have a problem?" A loud voice called out before the changeling disguised as Starlight got thrown into the room. Soon after that, Dotted's eyes grew wide as he watched Chrysalis, former supreme leader of the changelings, enter the room.

"I'm sorry!" He said in her voice as he quickly crawled before groveling in front of her. "It just sort of happened and I didn't know what to do."

"Drop the disguise." Chrysalis bluntly ordered. "I can't take you seriously in that."

"Yes! Of course!" He replied in Starlight's voice before shifting back to his true form, still trembling in front of her as two other changelings flanked her sides.

"And you two..." She growled before hurling both of them to the ground beside the trembling one. "I should've known better than to have you two come with me to speak with the Captain. Especially you!" She continued before pointing at one of them, who just curled up into a trembling ball. "You better hope that he doesn't know Twilight that well. Otherwise this whole plan could be ruined!" She then looked up at the others who were shaking before narrowing her gaze at Dotted. "And who was it that created this whole mess?"

"Scythe!" The one who was on top of Dotted replied. "He's the one that came in here without being in disguise."

"Aw, come on! I didn't hear that he was here. And you all know I don't like having to pretend to be that little dragon!" Scythe protested before a growl from Chrysalis silenced him. Chrysalis then approached him while the others made sure to be away from him.

"Well then. How about I stuff a rag down your throat, tie a rope around your wings and hooves, and throw you overboard in the middle of the night! Would you like that?"

"N-no!" He stuttered.

"Then prove to me that you deserve another chance."

"H-how can I do that?"

"Simple..." She replied before pointing toward Dotted. "By taking his place."


"And you'd better make sure not to draw any suspicion and blow your cover again. Because if you do, I will personally give you a beating like you've never experienced before!"

"Y-yes, my Queen!" He quickly replied before transforming into an exact duplicate of Dotted.

"Now get out of here before somepony notices that he's gone."

"Of course!" Scythe replied in Dotted's voice before racing out of the room.

Chrysalis chuckled softly, amused at how quickly he rushed out before turning her attention to her new prisoner. She proceeded to walk over and sit down beside the couch before gently running a hoof through his mane. This made him shiver with fear, which brought a smirk to her face.

"And what am I to do with you?" She asked rhetorically. "You're not the pony I'm here for. But I can't let you leave this room now that you know our little secret."

"Wh-why are you here then?" Dotted asked. "Who are you here for?"

"Well..." She replied. "I suppose there's no harm in telling you the plan. Especially since you're not going anywhere." She then cleared her throat. "I'm sure you're aware of what happened at the hive, right?"

"You getting your kingdom taken from you by Starlight and her friends? Yeah. I heard about that." This response made Chrysalis growl and glare at him.

"Yes." She said through gritted teeth. "My number of loyal followers decreased dramatically after that. To where I hardly have any competent soldiers left." This made each changeling shiver in fear. "So in order for me to reclaim my throne and exact revenge on Starlight Glimmer and the rest of those ponies she calls friends, I need an army. Not one like I had before. No. A much better army. And somepony to rule beside me as King of the changelings. Somepony who, with the right amount of training and guidance from me, could make a most feared and ruthless leader."

"And... wh-who are you after?" This made Chrysalis chuckle for a moment before looking Dotted right in his eyes.

"I'm here... for your Captain."

"Steel?!" Dotted exclaimed in surprise. "Forget it! He'd never join you!" After hearing his response, Chrysalis merely smirked before patting the restrained stallion on his head before getting up and going over to the window, looking out at the calm waters.

"Oh. I'm sure I can persuade him to join me." She replied before turning back to look at him. "After all. It'd be such a shame to see this ship that he loves so much being sent to the bottom of the Equestrian Ocean." This only made Dotted's pupils twitch in fear as Chrysalis began to laugh in a maniacal fashion.