Monday, April 11, 2016

Ponies Unexpected: Chapter Two

Chapter 2:  An Unexpected Voyage of Discovery begins

About three months later, Twilight’s new airship yacht was completed within Ponyville’s grass field airport.  Equestrian ponies from all over their nation have come to see the departure of Princess Twilight, her friends, and the Wonderbolts to Dream Valley.

Made of cut stones, Ponyville’s airport control tower is where Cheerilee and her students are watching the send off festival.  The colorful flag of Ponyville depicting a large heart with two ponies standing on either their side of it, hangs from the tower’s top floor.  Cheerilee turns to face her students, saying, “I hope they have a safe journey and bring back lots of artifacts, such as maps, books, and pictures.”

Three of Cheerilee’s students are members of an afterschool social club known as the Cutie Mark Crusaders.  Their club name reflects the fact that they are still looking to earn their cutie marks, magical symbols on their flanks that show their special talents.  These young fillies watched the spectator ponies buying food from the Apple family treat cart crewed by Big Macintosh and Granny Smith.  Inside the Cake family’s outdoor event tent, music-loving ponies inside are listening to the jazz band 50 Bit before sitting down on wooden review stands.

The three friends were amazed that in ten days the Earth pony carpenters constructed a “U” shaped review stand.  Their classmates told each other that they were amazed that Earth pony carpenters could construct such big things in such a short amount of time.

The young Pegasus mare, Scootaloo points with her hoof at the nearby airship.  “I bet us Cutie Mark Crusaders could have snuck onboard and then earned our cutie marks as explorers or as air sailors or as … I don’t know, as stowaways.”

With a frowning face, the unicorn filly Sweetie Belle replied, “Why would you want a stowaway cutie mark?  Unless we become professional spies, I don’t think that would be a very useful skill.”

A youthful Earth pony named Apple Bloom nudges between her two friends, and then says:  “Professional spies with stowaway cutie marks, that would be … not very spyful would it?”

With an amazed look, Sweetie Belle says: “Spyful?”

Sweetie Belle then said:  “We need to do as much as we can to earn our cutie marks while we are still a team.  Imagine if someday my big sister Rarity gets me to apply to Princess Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns.  If I move to Canterlot, then we wouldn’t be able to see much of each other anymore.”

With a thoughtful face, Apple Bloom said, “Sweetie Belle, now you’re starting to talk like Princess Twilight.  I don’t know much about this voyage to Dream Valley.  What I do know is that the journey to Dream Valley should be for the full-grown ponies.  Who knows who or what is living in Dream Valley now?  If it was a good enough home for the three pony tribes, I’m sure that it would make a good home for other folks that may or may not like ponies.  Am I right or what?”

Sweetie Belle replied, “Yes, you’re right.  I’m sure that my big sister Rarity will come back with all kinds of cool stories and many fashion ideas as well.”  Sweetie puts her hooves together and adds, “I wish that my big sister and her friends always stay Earth pony strong, Pegasus pony swift, and Unicorn pony smart.”

The three pony friends look with wonder on their faces as Twilight’s massive new airship floats out of an even more massive aircraft hanger, constructed to be the home for Twilight’s airship.  Covering most of the balloon above the gondola is a friendship banner with the images of the six friends’ cutie marks.

A six-pointed star with five smaller stars, for the winged unicorn Princess Twilight Sparkle.
A trio of blue diamonds, for the unicorn pony Rarity.
Three red apples, for the Earth pony Applejack.
Three butterflies, for the Pegasus Fluttershy.
Three balloons, for the Earth pony Pinkie Pie.
A white cloud hovering above a colorful lightning bolt for the Pegasus pony Rainbow Dash.

Sweetie Belle, eager to show off her knowledge to her friends said, “Did you know that airship was crafted by pony shipwrights and that the gondola is a wooden ship suspended under the balloon.  An old, yet still useful Equestrian design, if the balloon was ever damaged over water the gondola would float, saving those ponies onboard.  Also, the gondola was built bigger than it needed to be to serve the seven passengers and crew.  After all, it is designed to carry an entire library from Dream Valley to Equestria.”

A much smaller, but still impressive Equestrian flag hangs off a pole at the rear of the gondola.

Four friends were standing on the open deck, while Pinkie pie was bouncing on her hooves and Rainbow Dash was hovering on her wings above the deck.  The Pegasus Spitfire and the five other notable members of the Wonderbolts wearing their Wonderbolts flight uniforms were busy with last minute inspections of the airship before falling into line besides the six friends.  On the deck is a big pile of luggage that sits near a set of double doors leading into the airship.

The airship slowed and then stopped above the grassy airfield within the “U” shaped review stands, where Princess Celestia, Princess Luna, Nurse Redheart, and Mayor Mare are sitting on the top row of seats.  On the seats below these ponies are the brown coated, Earth pony named Time Turner who for some reason was wearing 3-d movie glasses and another Earth pony named Rose along with a gaggle of press ponies.  On the row below them are Sweetie Drops, and Lyra Heartstrings who had agreed to take care of the explorers’ entire collection of pets at Fluttershy’s home.

On the ship’s deck, Rainbow and Rarity are looking up at the colorful banner.  Rainbow says, “Rarity, thank you for making our airship’s banner.  It looks awesome!”

Rarity replies, “You’re welcome, Rainbow Dash.  That banner is one of the largest things I’ve attempted to stitch together with my hoofiwork.”

Twilight steps between them, “Quiet girls, Celestia is about to speak.”

The white winged unicorn, with the sun image cutie mark, spreads her wings wide, stands on her hind legs, and then says, “I christen this airship Comet and may she always bring her passengers and crew home safe and sound.”

The sun princess’s horn glows bright.  The sun princess levitates an oversized bottle the size of a foal, covered with a network of fine cord, with an image of an apple to hover before the airship.  She then shatters the bottle against the ship's keel under the bronze figurehead of a beautiful sea pony.  Of course, Rainbow covered her eyes with her hooves as some of Applejack’s best apple cider runs from the broken bottle into the grass field that is manicured to resemble a checkerboard below the airship.

Celestia continues speaking, “The Comet is powered by four, side mounted friendship engines that dives eight aircraft propellers.  Each engine has one forward and one rear set of propellers.  These engines were designed by none other than our own Princess Twilight.  This is the first time friendship engines have been used anywhere.”

Twilight speaking more to her friends that to the other ponies said, “Our airship is propelled by experimental engines powered by friendship.  The more friendship we have for each other, the more power flows to the engine, and then our airship moves faster.  So, everyone keep happy thoughts for each other.”

Celestia turns her head and then nods at Nurse Redheart, who then says, “I’ve given your team an ample supply of potable water, nutritious foods to eat, dietary supplements, and medical supplies.  You don’t need to worry about your heath during this voyage.”

Twilight replies by saying, “I appreciate with all my heart all the careful assistance you’ve given to my friends and airship crew Nurse Redheart.  Thanks!”

You’re welcome, have a safe journey.”

Celestia speaks once more, “It is with my blessing that Princess Twilight, her friends, and the Wonderbolts embark on a journey to Dream Valley, our ancestral homeland.  Even as long-lived as my sister Luna and I are, even we have not seen Dream Valley.  These brave explorers will retrieve pony knowledge lost to ponykind for generations that will enrich all of our lives.”

Luna then says:  “My friends stay alert.  I have no idea what dangers and opportunities exist so far away from Equestria.”

Twilight replies “Don’t worry about us.  We will return with the lost knowledge in a few weeks to one month at most.  Mayor Mare, did you have something to ask of us?”

The mayor cleared her throat and then said, “I hope you find some ancient pony artifacts for the Ponyville museum and some unknown animals for the Ponyville zoo.”

“Mayor Mare, all that I can promise is that my friends and I will do our best effort.  And, what do Bon Bon and Lyra Heartstrings, two subjects of Equestria wish to speak to me about?”

Bon Bon asked, “In the name of friendship, see if you can rediscover Dream Valley candy recipes.”

Then, Lyra asked, “Please try to find lost pony music for the harp.”

Twilight replies, “All that I can promise is that I’ll make my best effort to find what you two need.”

Looking at the two royal sisters Twilight says, “In addition, I’ll have my assistant and friend Spike send Princess Celestia and Princess Luna daily letters telling you and Luna what we find in Dream Valley.”

Celestia again speaks, “Twilight, I’ll look forward to reading all your letters.  I will now give you my blessing.  I hope that during your travels my sunlight warms your body, illuminating the path before your hooves, while guiding you to friendship and happiness; while my sister Princess Luna guides you to pleasant dreams.  Also, Cheerilee wishes that you have a safe journey and bring back lots of books.”

With cheers from a crowd of well-wishers and the flashes from the cameras of the press ponies; Celestia’s horn glows, releasing the mooring lines that retract into the ship’s hull.  The airship ascends in a slow yet stead rate into the air.

As the airship sails away from the Ponyville airport, Twilight points with her hoof at a mural of Smart Cookie, Clover the Clever and Private Pansy with the windigos circling above them.  The mural is carved into a natural rock wall and then painted in bright colors.  Below and in the center of the mural is a cave entrance.

Twilight tells her friends, “Well everypony, that’s the famous cave where ponies of the three tribes made peace and friendship with each other.  The same cave described in our Hearth's Warming Eve pageant.  Now, we are going to retrace their hoofsteps back to Dream Valley.”

With an unimpressed look, Rainbow said, “I’ve visited that cavern as a young student.  I saw that the cavern has been turned into a tourist attraction.  It is full of young adult ponies hired as tour guides, as well as museum dioramas, a gift shop, a Hay Burger restaurant, an Urgent Care station, and two sets of restrooms - one for tourists and another for the staff.  I really don’t think that the Equestrian immigrants would recognize the cavern where the three tribes became one nation.”

Rarity said, “Well, let’s get settled in for a long trip.  Unlike our Earth pony and Unicorn pony ancestors who walked around the dirty and muddy shores of the Western Ocean, we modern ponies will ride in comfort in this modern airship.  The bottom two decks are for storage, the third deck is for a forward observation lounge in the bow, individual cabins for the passengers and crew, a first aid station, a spacious kitchen, and a mess hall or dining room in the stern.  The deck we are standing on has a forward cabin for steering the airship, and a much larger aft captain’s cabin that is for Princess Twilight and Spike.”

A startled Twilight said, “I don’t think it is right of me to take the Captain’s cabin.  I’d be fine if I bunked in a regular cabin like the rest of you.  Spike and I don’t need all that fancy decorations and large floor space to be comfortable, not at all.”

A surprised Rarity said, “Twilight, that’s nonsense.  As a princess, it is your right and your royal obligation that you should take the airship’s largest cabin.”

While shuffling her hooves and looking down, Twilight says, “I suppose, I will take the Captain’s cabin … if the rest of you agree.”

Twilight looks around and sees her friends, Captain Spitfire, and her crew nodding in agreement.

Twilight sighs and then says, “Come on Spike; let’s move our things into the Captain’s cabin.  I sure hope exploring the unknown is worth our time and effort.”

Rainbow said, “As Daring Do once told me:  ‘We become better ponies, both as individuals and as a species, not from staying away from the unknown, but by exploring the unknown.  When we ponies don’t explore, we become less like ponies and more like our pets.’  With friendship, harmony, and optimism on our side, no matter what we find or what finds us, this journey into the unknown will be worth our time and effort.”

My Little Pony:  Friendship is Magic, Copyright © 2010 Lauren Faust, Hasbro Studios, and DHX Media

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