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[fanfic] Sanatorium (Draft 2, pre-readers wanted!)


ocalhoun
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Four ponies escape a Canterlot mental institution. Hilarity may or may not ensue.

-Adventure/Comedy

~10k words.

-Suitable for all ages

-All-OC cast

 

I'm (desperately) looking for pre-readers! Please read and tell me what you think, in as much detail as possible. In this one in particular, I'd love love love it if anyone pointed out opportunities to add in humor that I missed.

 

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Chapter One

For Want of a Bucket

 

Agent Z prodded the carrot slices around on her plate, the flimsy plastic spork in her magical grip not even clinking against it. Eight months had passed by since her failed mission to expose Celestia, and the thought of her failure still burned inside.

 

Worse was the punishment she received for her failure. She didn't get the interrogator's harsh questioning. She didn't get a quick and honorable execution. She was stuck here: The Canterlot Institute For The Psychologically Disturbed. The faded floral print wallpaper, the plastic decorative trees in the corner, the long grey tables, and even the cheerfully helpful staff all grated on her. This was not befitting of the highest-ranked spy in Equestria's most-secret agency!

 

She glared around in suspicious disdain at the institutes's cafeteria. Most of the patients had already finished their lunches, and had already left. Only a few ponies remained, beside the kitchen worker cleaning up. Most conspicuous of them was Golden Word. He was still standing at the head of a now-empty table, white wings spread wide, still preaching fire and brimstone to his long-gone audience. His lunch neglected in favor of his imaginary parishioners, it still sat untouched in front of him.

 

At the next table over sat the elderly earth pony who called himself 'Silver Lance'. He, at least, was quiet: slowly finishing his lunch and making a grandiose show of savoring every morsel. The only other fellow patient in the room Bluebeard. He often just sat and glowered in a corner... much as he was doing now, staring into the room and dribbling his twelfth cup of grape juice into his – frankly disgusting – beard, as if he was drowning out some kind of sorrow.

 

Agent Z sighed and propped her head up on her hoof, idly scanning the room yet again: years of training couldn't be forgotten that easily. The kitchen pony was heading for the back door now, softly whistling some happy little tune, her mane swaying back and forth, bucket in her mouth, and a set of keys held aloft with her magic. Set of keys! Though she didn't move at all, Agent Z brought herself up to full alert. This could be it! As she watched, barely daring to believe what she was seeing, the kitchen pony stepped up to the facility's back door, unlocked it, propped it open, and stepped out, still carrying the sloshing bucket.

 

Even her extensive training couldn't hide her reaction to something like that! Her eyes widened, and she glanced quickly around the at the other patients in the room. They glanced at her. Everypony glanced back to the door. Everypony glanced back at each other...

 

Without a word, without a sound, all four ponies rushed out through the door.

 

Agent Z blinked in the bright sunlight, getting her first taste of freedom in months... only to find herself face-to-face with her foe, the kitchen pony. The bucket dropped as she opened her mouth in shock, splashing mop water all over Agent Z. It was a quick-thinking move. This pony would not be easy to escape. Master spy that she was, though, she didn't let that slow her down in the slightest. She kicked the bucket into the other unicorn's legs – sure to trip her up – and took off galloping away.

 

The other three ponies weren't far behind. Good. They would provide great distractions for her pursuers. Agent Z risked a glanced backward. Excellent. The cleaning pony was satisfyingly far behind, and no other pursuit was visible yet.

 

She wove her way through the elite crowd in Canterlot's streets, zipping through with consummate skill. Spotting an opportunity, she took a quick moment to topple a vendor's cart into the narrow street, giving her pursuers an obstacle.

 

A distraught cry of “My Cabbages!” and the sound of ponies tripping to the ground behind her let her know that her ploy had been successful.

 

She skidded around a tight corner, her intimate knowledge of Canterlot's back streets letting her know exactly where to go. To her surprise, all three of the other escaped patients were still with her... and to her great satisfaction, the pursuing kitchen pony was not.

 

Agent Z felt herself tiring from the chase, but she knew that her destination was close now, and she knew her pursuers were far behind. Her lungs burned from the exertion, but the Canterlot airship docks were already coming into view.

 

She skidded to a halt in front of the nearest airship: a large, but sleek one, with a raised upper deck and with blue-green decoration. It would suffice. She began sizing up its captain, a pale yellow pegasus mare, figuring out what kind of deception she would need in order to commandeer it.

 

Before she could even begin, though, the bearded pony from the institute appeared, squarely in between her and the ship's captain. “Aye! Now this be to my liking!” he said. He shouted up to the ship, “Avast! We be taking your ship now!”

 

“Oh good!” The ship's captain perked up. “It's been much too long since I've had a charter! How long are you planning to be out?”

 

“We be out for as long as we need; never ye mind, ye scalawag! Prepare yeself to be–”

 

“There! Stop!” The bearded pony's speech was cut short by a shout from the crowd. Agent Z instantly recognized her opponent, the kitchen pony from the institute... and apparently so did the other escaped patients. Indeed this pony was a challenge to escape... but Agent Z's plan was already in motion.

 

“No time!” Bluebeard shouted as he rushed up the gangplank, “We be casting off now!” As Agent Z set foot on the meticulously polished deck, she saw that blue-bearded pegasus didn't waste time. He had already unfastened the lines tying the airship to the dock, and the ship was already beginning to drift free in the breeze. The other two escaped patients were barely able to get on board before the gangplank fell away, down off of the sheer mountain face the dock overhung.

 

With satisfaction, Agent Z watched the kitchen pony and the rest of Canterlot slowly recede into the distance. This was it! She had finally made it out, and now her mission could finally be salvaged. This was a good day!

 

* * *

 

Chapter 2

Not in Kansas Anymore

 

“What are you doing!?” Stern Breeze was growing more and more frantic as the safety of Canterlot's docks grew further and further away. “The rest of my crew is still in Canterlot on shore leave! We can't leave without them!”

 

“You'll be having no further need of a crew, lassie.” Barely visible behind the pony's bushy blue beard, a manic smile grew.

 

Breeze truly began to panic now. “Who are you ponies?”

 

“I be Bluebeard, renowned scourge of the seven skies!” The pony's pride manifested itself as loudness, apparently. “And this be me new first mate, Silver Lance!” He pointed roughly at the old, lime-green earth pony next to him.

 

“As a desert flower welcomes the rain, so I, too, welcome the opportunity to be of service.” The ancient pony made a deep bow, despite his trembling legs.

 

“And I,” Another pony cut in before Bluebeard could continue. “I am Golden Word.” He shook his yellow mane and spread his white wings out on full display. “I am come, sent from the father above so that thou might know the light and be saved!” He bowed his head, “Come, let us pray.”

 

Before he could do so though, the white pegasus was shoved aside by yet another pony, a unicorn with a purple coat and dark grey hair. “And you can call me 'Slick'.” she said. “Everypony does. It isn't my real name, but that's classified, so it'll do.”

 

Stern Breeze just sat, dumbfounded. Her meticulous and orderly world had just been turned upside-down. Here she was, still drifting away from Canterlot, her crew, and everything familiar, while these four strange ponies continued to make her life far more interesting that she generally liked. Still, at least it couldn't get–

 

“Aha! And Slick, me fair mysterious wench!” Stern Breeze's thoughts were shattered by another outburst from the bearded pony. “How about ye come see me in the captain's quarters and ye can be me second mate? If ye catch me drift...

 

Breeze silently promised to herself never to think 'It couldn't get worse' again.

 

“With you?” The unicorn replied.

 

“Aye.”

 

“With a foul-mouthed, foul-minded, foul-bearded...”

 

“Aye, that be me!”

 

Pink stallion? ... I think not!”

 

With that, Bluebeard let out a roar that sent Stern Breeze cowering behind the railing. “Ye be having a problem with a stallion being pink do ye?”

 

The unicorn didn't seem fazed by this at all. “Just that in my experience, pink stallions have been, hm... too interested in their own kind to be bothered with mares...”

 

Bluebeard now looked like hew was in serious danger of spontaneously exploding on the spot. “Are ye calling me a colt cuddler, wench?! I'll have ye know pink be the most masculine color there is!”

 

“I'm just saying–”

 

Slick didn't get to finish, as Bluebeard did explode. “Aargh! Have at ye, wench!” He began chasing the unicorn around the deck. “I'll tear out ye black heart and feed it to me dogs! I'll pickle ye liver! I'll chop ye tail clean off an' wear it for a hat!”

 

Stern Breeze was hardly a courageous pony, but there were some lines she just would not allow to be crossed. “Stop right there, mister,” she said, stepping in front of Bluebeard and blocking his path. “I will not allow violence to take place on my ship.”

 

The big pink pegasus loomed over her, his beard bristling, but she did not back down. She stared him (and his beard) down, and it even seemed to be working... for a moment, anyway.

 

Your ship, be it?” He laughed, shaking his beard. “Not anymore! This be my ship now, lassie!”

 

“But... but...” Stern Breeze's momentary control over the situation seemed to be slipping badly. “You can't just take–”

 

“I can and I did.”

 

Stern Breeze's prized canary chose an inopportune moment to fly up from below decks. Unbelievably, it flitted right onto Bluebeard's back.

 

“And I be taking yer parrot, too!” He flashed what must have been his idea of a winsome smile. “Parrots like me.”

 

“But you can't!” Breeze felt desperation begin to claw at her; this couldn't be happening! “You can't do that!”

 

“I be a pirate. Didn't I mention that?” He leaned in close. “That be what pirates do.”

 

“But... but...”

 

“Have ye any further objections, or can we move along now?” Bluebeard seemed to be losing patience... which probably wasn't good.

 

“But...” Breeze couldn't just let him do this! But what could she do? What would she say? “But that isn't even a parrot! That's my canary!” She winced a little... she had been meaning to say something a little more definitive.

 

“It be close enough.” He stood up straight and began shouting, “Silver Lance! Ye go man the jib! Golden Word, ye be on lookout duty!” He turned, pointing a hoof directly at Slick. “Wench! Take the former captain to the brig!”

Slick just stood there, pointedly ignoring him.

 

“But this ship doesn't even have a brig!” Stern Breeze objected.

 

“Then take her to the laundry room, which from now on will be referred to as the brig!”

 

Still, Slick made no move to obey, even though the other two ponies had already gone off to their own assignments.

 

Bluebeard didn't seem to notice. He stepped up to the helm and began steering the airship.

 

He stood up straight and he bellowed from his new position of power, “Lance, Wench, rig for descent: we have a supply run to make!”

 

“Right away, sir!” Silver Lance called out. Slick still did nothing but glower at Bluebeard.

 

As the ship began to settle into her new course, Bluebeard pulled an eye patch out from behind the helm and put it on, despite seeming to have two perfectly good eyes.

 

What?” Breeze couldn't handle much more strangeness today. “Where did that come from?”

 

“There be eye patches stashed all over Equestria.” Bluebeard didn't seem to notice or care that she wasn't in the 'brig' yet. “In case of eye patch emergency, though I know not how or why.”

 

That explanation hardly satisfied Breeze's now deeply injured sense of normalcy, but she didn't get a chance to object: Bluebeard started speaking again, almost immediately.

 

His voice wasn't quieter – Stern Breeze had never heard this pony use any voice that could be described as 'quiet' – but it wasn't the bellow he had be using to issue commands. With a twinge of absolute horror, she realized that he was going to attempt an inspirational speech!

 

“As we make our way to gather our most essential supplies, I be wanting to say a few words.” The canary hopped from his back to the top of his head; he didn't seem to mind. “We be embarking upon that most noble of pursuits: piracy across the seven skies! No storm will be able to stop us, no plunder will escape our grasp, no royal guards can catch us, and no law can touch us! We – we very ponies – we be the very heart of what it is to be free! Who be with me?”

 

All of the ponies, Stern Breeze included now stared at Bluebeard in awe. The old lime-green earth pony was the first to respond.

 

“I shall lend you my strength, my liege!” The old pony's legs shook merely from the effort of standing on the gently swaying deck. “As a knight of the realm, it is my solemn duty to win the unwinnable fights, to right the unrightable wrong, to help the unhelpable ponies! He pointed to his cutie mark: a pair of pears. “This lance and shield represents my dedication to this noble cause! I shall not relinquish it!”

 

Stern Breeze was sure of it now: her ship had become overrun with raving lunatics.

 

The yellow and white pegasus spoke up next. Breeze wondered what kind of psychosis he would add into the mix.

 

“Rejoice, my brethren ponies! The time of prophesy is upon us! Soon, by our very efforts, the world of the heathen will fall, and the true light shall be known to everypony! For I am The Word. Golden Word. And The Word was with The Light, and The Word was The Light! You see, verily, I walk among you, in the world yet not of the world, so that everypony might see The True Light in all His majesty. Rejoice! For it will be in our days that the heretic sisters shall fall! Rejoice! For purity comes once more at last!”

 

* * *

 

Chapter 3

Barn Razing

 

Stern Breeze sat, dumbfounded once more. Each pony was crazier than the last! Quiet descended upon the deck at last, as the three ponies now looked at Slick, expectancy all over their faces.

 

Slick looked back, expressionless.

 

Their expectancy grew.

 

Slick still said nothing. Her eyes narrowed.

 

The pressure mounted. Now even Stern Breeze herself watched the purple unicorn with anticipation... and more than a little dread.

 

Still, Slick said nothing. She did start glancing around at all the other ponies though. With a slight nod and a blink, she began to speak. “First of all, I must swear you all to absolute secrecy. This mission did not happen. You never heard me say this. You never even met me. Got it?”

 

“You have my word.”

 

“Aye!”

 

“By the guiding Light above.”

 

...

 

“You, too, former captain!” The unicorn paused for a moment. “What was your name, anyway?”

 

“I... Um... I'm Stern Breeze.”

 

And?”

 

Breeze glanced around nervously. “Oh... and uh... I guess I'll keep it a secret, too.”

 

Good, because I'd hate to have to kill you.” Slick turned back to the others, addressing everypony again.

 

As they all paid attention to Slick, Breeze happened to notice a rather large green dragon flying in from the starboard side.

 

“It has been known to my agency for some time now that the ponies we know as 'Celestia' and 'Luna' are, in fact, changelings in disguise.”

 

Gasps of astonishment came in return, except from Stern Breeze, who was more concerned about a more immediate threat. “Everypony! There's a dragon incoming at three o' clock low!”

 

Nopony seemed to pay her the slightest attention though, and Slick continued. “Our mission – should we choose to accept it – is to take them down and expose them.”

 

Hey!” Breeze shouted, “Incoming dragon!” Still, nopony seemed to notice.

 

“Now, according to my intel, the royal airship should currently be making its return to Canterlot after this year's Summer Sun Celebration in Fillydelphia. It will be vulnerable for a nine-hour period as it approaches the city. During this period, there is one – and only one – shift change of the guards. This is when we must strike!”

 

“The dragon is still coming, ponies!” Stern Breeze was growing a little frantic.

 

“Shall we have the opportunity to smite the heretic goddesses?”

 

“Be there any loot to be had?”

 

“Shall we be able to defeat this undefeatable foe?”

 

“Yes, Yes, and Yes,” Slick said with confidence. “Excellent. Now that we've all agreed, we need to–”

 

WHY is nopony listening to me!?” Stern Breeze shouted as loudly as she could.

 

Slick gave an exasperated sigh. “What is it you feel you must keep interrupting about?”

 

“Dra-gon!” Breeze replied tersely. She pointed her hoof at the still-approaching reptile, hoping to finally get through to these ponies. It was very close now; how could they still not see it?

 

Finally, somepony noticed it. Silver Lance leaped up to the nearest railing crying, “Stand back, fair maiden, I shall vanquish the beast and clear the sky at your behest!” He rushed to the airship's stern, stopping at the flagpole. To Breeze's surprise and dismay, he kicked the pole over and tore the Equestrian flag off of it. How could that frail old pony even do that?

 

Sliver Lance wasn't finished yet, apparently. He grabbed the fallen pole in his hoof like a lance. Just as the dragon approached the ship – without the slightest hesitation – the old earth pony jumped right off the side.

 

Breeze stared in shock as Silver Lance dove overboard towards the dragon, towards the ground, and towards his doubly certain demise.

 

In a display of airborne prowess not commonly found in earth ponies, Silver Lance actually managed to hit the approaching dragon, poking it squarely in the nose with the flagpole's rounded tip.

 

Before Silver Lance could continue falling to his doom, the dragon grabbed him out of the air. It pulled him up to its face and growled, “Ow! What did you do that for?”

 

Silver Lance squirmed in the dragon's grip, his 'lance' pinned uselessly next to him. “I am Sliver Lance, knight of the realm and doer of renowned deeds! I shall slay thee, and save yon fair maiden from your treachery!” His hooves pinned, he paused his speech for a moment in order to ineffectively bite at a green-scaled talon.

 

“But... I... I just wanted to ask directions... I was trying to get to the Whitetail Wood, but I think I got a little lost... I–”

 

“Guile me not with your honeyed words, beast!” Silver lance stopped biting, but redoubled his efforts to free himself. “Let me free, so that I may slay thee properly! Let me go and fight me nobly and fairly!”

 

The dragon still hovered next to Breeze's airship and made no move to release Silver Lance. “Oh my no, I don't want to fight. Me and my therapist have been putting a lot of effort into correcting my anger issues.”

 

“Free me!” Silver Lance was apparently still in full combat mode. “Free me, so that I may feel the satisfaction of my lance piercing your black heart!”

 

With an enormous sigh, the dragon did release him, dropping him gently back onto the deck of the ship.

 

Silver Lance didn't waste a moment. He swept up his flagpole and managed to strike the dragon's claw before the dragon could even draw it back.

 

“Ouch! Stop it!” The dragon retreated to a safe distance. “That's it! I'm going to go ask for directions from some other ponies who aren't so mean!” With that, the dragon began to fly away, returning back in the direction it came from.

 

“Huzzah! Another great and heroic feat!” Silver Lance posed proudly on the deck. “The vile beast is in full retreat, vanquished by the great Silver Lance!”

 

Once again, Stern Breeze questioned these ponies' grip on reality as the white pegasus and the bearded one converged on Silver Lance to congratulate him.

 

The one they called 'Slick', though, didn't. “Explain yourself!” she shouted.

 

Everypony on deck, Breeze included, looked at her quzzically.

 

“That was completely unacceptable!” The unicorn stalked toward Silver with fury in her eyes. “How dare you risk compromising the mission?”

 

“'Tis a knight's solemn duty to vanquish dragons, milady!” Silver wasn't budging an inch.

 

“Duty? Duty? ... Your duty is to ensure the success of our mission! Everything else,” she swept her hoof around widely, at the whole sky around them, “is of secondary importance, got it?”

 

“I cannot stand idly by while–”

 

Silver's reply was cut off before he could complete it. “You can, and you will. We must focus entirely on the mission at hand! No distractions, no side-quests, and definitely no dragon-vanquishing!”

 

“Far be it from me to–”

 

“Then don't.” Slick said with a scowl.

 

“...argue with a lady of such distinction, but madame, I cannot condone the wasting of an opportunity for valorous rescue!”

 

“And I,” Slick spat back, “will not allow any–”

 

“Hold it right there!” Both ponies froze as Bluebeard stepped in between them, both his voice and his physical presence imposing. “I be the captain here, and I'll be the one ta settle things!” He turned to Silver Lance. “Ye did well vanquishing that dragon laddie. Don't be doing it again. And ye...” He turned to Slick. “Ye be right that our mission comes first, but don't ye forget who be in charge 'ere!” He stepped back up to the helm. “An' speaking of our mission, while ye be lallygagging about, me an' Golden Word 'ere 'ave been sailing the ship! An' we be very nearly at our first stop – where we be gathering essential adventuring supplies!”

 

“Where are we going?” Everypony stopped and stared at Breeze as if they had forgotten she existed. “...Well?”

 

“We be going to a little farm, outside of a place called Ponyville.” He grinned from behind his beard again.

 

“A farm?” Breeze found herself even more confused than usual. “What are you going to buy at a farm?”

 

“No time to explain! There it be!” Bluebeard bellowed.

 

Stern Breeze turned to the bow, and indeed, there was a big red barn, surrounded by an orchard, directly in their line of descent... a little too directly. “You need to pull up a little,” she advised, “we're going to crash right into it.”

 

“That be the idea,” Bluebeard said with a gleam in his eye.

 

What!?” Breeze cringed at the thought of her precious airship crashing. “Why?”

 

“Because the prize we be after be locked up tight inside.”

 

“You're stealing it!?” Stern Breeze couldn't believe it. “But–”

 

“Brace for impact!” His voice boomed out.

 

A moment later, and unfortunately, before Breeze could follow Bluebeard's instructions, the impact came. She flew forward, and as the airship came to a crunching, shuddering halt, Breeze flew through the remnants of the barn wall, leaving a nicely pegasus-shaped hole in her wake.

 

“Good work, Breezy!” Bluebeard shouted from the airship, which was now mostly inside the barn, “The rest of ye scalawags get te work like 'er an' load those barrels!”

 

Once Stern Breeze shook the stars from her eyes, she found the barrels he had mentioned. She had landed on top of a stack of them, after all. Before she could even fully come to her senses, ponies rushed from the ship to carry back barrels, even Bluebeard himself. Breeze, though – once she regained her senses – made her way back to the ship without a barrel in her hooves... she didn't want to be seen as an accomplice in any thefts!

 

After the ponies had made only a couple trips back and forth, an orange earth pony became visible through the gaping hole in the barn wall. “Hey! Mah cider!” The pony came galloping toward the barn. “Y'all come back here right now!”

 

“That be out cue to leave!” Bluebeard called out. “Get yerselves back on the ship! “Weigh anchor! Maximum lift!”

 

As the ponies rushed back onto the ship, she rose, tearing an even wider hole in the barn's roof with her balloon as she lifted through. The orange mare was left standing outside the ruins of the barn, still shouting at the sky in futility.

 

* * *

 

Chapter 4

Bombs Away!

 

As the sun edged towards the horizon, Golden Word knocked the last bit of barn roof from the ship's balloon, completing the task Bluebeard had given him. The airship hovered far above the little town of Ponyville now, at such a height as to make even a pegasus dizzy. As he often did, Word thanked The Light's providence that he had been blessed with wings and need not fear any fall.

 

He glided down and around the balloon, landing back on the upper deck, only to find a scene of great evil and horror before him. Those barrels were full of alcohol and these ponies were drinking it!

 

He rushed up to Bluebeard; no time to lose. “In the name of all things holy, you must stop this! Now!”

 

“Hurr, what now?” Bluebeard looked more than a little confused, or was it just due to the empty barrel next to him? “Stop what?”

 

“We must stop the crew from imbibing this demonic substance immediately! The Light demands it!”

 

“Stop 'em drinking!?” Bluebeard stared down at Golden Word, incredulity covering his face almost as much as his hair did. “I'd sooner be eating me own beard! Whatta ye be thinking we stole it all for?”

 

“But you must stop this debauchery! We must put an end to this at once!”

 

Bluebeard paused for a moment to take another heavy swig from his mug, only a little cider escaping to further stain his beard. “Eh... what? Stop what now?”

 

Golden Word placed his hoof upon his forehead in the scripturally ordained gesture for coping with failure and stupidity. “We have to stop the drinking!”

 

“Come now foolish laddie, why would we do that?” Bluebeard let out an even heartier-than-usual laugh.

 

Seething in frustration, Word turned his back on the pirate captain and headed down to the main deck. If the captain didn't stop this, Word would have to stop it himself.

 

On the steps down to the deck, lounging against them, Word found Stern Breeze and Slick.

 

“Hey! Look 'oo sfinally came to join ush.” Slick threw her front hooves high in the air for emphasis. “Gitcherself a mug an' haff a sheat!”

 

“Yeah!” Stern Breeze giggled an patted the step next to her. “Right here!”

 

“I must insist you two ladies stop this immediately!” Word pleaded, “The scriptures forbid it!

 

“Aw...” Slick pressed her own well-used mug towards him. “You should looshen upf a liddle. Here, try shome!”

 

Stern Breeze just sat there, looking at Word with a disturbingly appraising look in her eye.

 

“I will NOT!” Golden Word's righteous indignation inflamed even more now.

 

“Are you shure?” Slick pushed the sloshing mug even closer, spilling a little on Golden Word. “Ish really good shtuff!”

 

“No! I said No!” Writing off yet another crewmember's soul, Word turned to Stern Breeze instead. “You're a proud airship captain! Surely you can see that this is beneath all of you! Come, help me put a stop to this.” He held out a hoof, hoping she would accept it.

 

Stern Breeze took his proffered hoof and stood up. His hopes rose. “Say, Goldie...” she whispered, “did I ever mention that out of all the crazy ponies who took over my ship, you're the hottest?”

 

“Oh... uh, thank you.” Not to be put off, Word continued his crusade. “Now, if we can get Silver Lance on our side as well, I think we may be able to–”

 

She stopped him by pulling on his hoof, pulling him off balance. He ended up right next to her, face to face. Her eyes lidded halfway, she whispered into his hear, “Let's do something else instead.” She giggled a little, and he could smell the cider on her breath. “You know, nopony has followed the command to take me to the laundry-brig yet... You should take me down there... just the two of us, below decks... anything might happen.”

 

Golden Word's eyes widened in sudden realization, and he recoiled back. “In The Light's holy name, madam, you're a captain! Compose yourself!”

 

“Not anymore, I'm not.” She gave him a saucy look. “My ship got taken, remember?” Slow and sultry... and a little wobbly, she paced towards him, until they were face to face again. “Take me, too,” she whispered, planting a kiss right on his lips before he could object.

 

He shoved her back forcefully, shocked and offended at the loss of his purity. “Get thee back, harlot! I am Golden Word, one and only emissary of The Light! I cannot fornicate with the likes of you! I am wedded to The Holy Light!” Before the harlot former captain could tempt him further, Golden Word flew to the bow of the ship, where he could see Silver Lance slowly nursing his own mug. So far, Word had failed to save any of the crew from their own sins... If only he could at least save one... Perhaps he could if he instead tried gentle persuasion?

 

“Hail, friend!” Silver called out as soon as he noticed Golden Word approaching. “Come, take a seat and a flagon, and let us share tales of heroism, and valor!”

 

Word flitted down next to the old earth pony, but didn't take the proffered mug. “No thanks,” he demurred, “let's just talk.”

 

“Then talk we shall!” Silver Lance threw a hoof around him and brought him in close. “Talk of damsels rescued, dragons slain, kingdoms defended, and justice brought! Tales of–”

 

“Actually,” Word interrupted, “I wanted to ask something.”

 

Anything.” Silver drew Word in even closer, and swept his free hoof in an all-encompassing gesture. “You know, we've known each other for a long time, you and me. I just want to to know. I think of you as my closest comrade in arms.”

 

“That's nice.” Golden Word tried to pry himself out of the old pony's grip a little, to no avail.

 

“I love you, brother.” Silver Lance squeezed him even closer.

 

“Right...” Word leaned back as far as he could. “So, do you think – for me – that you could put down the cider, and maybe even help get the rest of the crew off of it?”

 

“Aw...” Silver Lance patted him on the head. “As your best friend, I can't let you go on like this. You've got it all wrong. This stuff is the best cider in all of Equestria! It cannot be evil.” Once again, a mug of cider was shoved towards Word's face.

 

Despite himself, Golden Word licked his lips. He could taste the delicious cider on them, still lingering from Breeze's stolen kiss... NO! Word shook himself, ashamed that he had given a moment's thought to temptation... even if it was so very tasty... NO! Golden Word pried himself away from Silver Lance – easy to do now that the old pony had passed out – and escaped. He fled back to the top of the airship's balloon. There, he could be free of the vile temptation. There, he could repent.

 

* * *

 

All was silent now, all still and quiet... but Golden Word hadn't slept at all, not even though the night was nearly done. No, he had spent the night in repentance, and in communion with The Light. And The Light had spoken to him. And he knew what he must do to earn his forgiveness.

 

And he knew that now was the time to do it.

 

Softer than an angel's whisper, he glided back down to the deck. Everypony was asleep now, nopony on watch: all due to the evils of this drink... and there it lurked. Half a dozen full barrels still sat on the deck: an affront to all things holy. Thanks to divine providence though, Golden Word knew just what to do with the abomination.

 

* * *

 

Rainbow Dash yawned again, struggling to wake up. She hated this part of being a weather pony, but the the weather was an all-hours-of-the-day job. She trudged her way through the door, still upset a little about again not getting any of the fresh cider this season. Why did she have to be doomed never to get any? ...And all because Applejack just had to promise all those barrels to some special 'royal order'. She looked out across the still-dark landscape. Ponyville was further away than usual... her cloud-house must have been drifting in the breeze again. Oh well, she could fix that later. For now, there was an early-morning drizzle to be arranged.

 

As she prepared for takeoff, she paused. Did she just hear something falling? Yes, definitely, something was coming... Before she could even look up, a barrel slammed down into the cloud next to her, sticking there. By the time she got over her shock, another landed next to it.

 

Fast as lightning, she darted back inside, now watching the barrels raining down from the relative safety of her house. Four more came in quick succession before the strange rain of barrels stopped.

 

Once the sky returned to normal for a while, Rainbow's curiosity overcame her caution. She slowly crept out to see what it was that had smashed into her doorstep.

 

Rainbow's jaw dropped when she read the stenciled-on labels: Sweet Apple Acres / Apple Cider / Grade A.

 

The morning rain could wait. Now Rainbow had entirely different plans!

 

* * *

 

Chapter 5

A Canary Named Lazarus

 

Bluebeard – slowly – awoke to the sound of cannon fire. BOOM. It thundered again, echoing inside his head. He looked around his newly-acquired cabin slowly, so as not to upset his already-raging headache. BOOM. Why was somepony firing the ship's cannons at so early an hour? BOOM. The sound seemed to be getting louder. BOOM. Wincing, he slowly stumbled his way to the door. BOOM. He opened the door to his cabin, and found Slick there, her hoof raised as if to knock on the door.

 

Now with somepony around to ask, he put forth his most burning question. “What scurvy dog be blasting the ships cannons at this unholy hour?”

 

Slick's eyebrow slowly rose before she responded. “First, this ship doesn't have cannons, and second, this isn't an 'unholy hour', it's nearly noon.”

 

“Eh?” Bluebeard took a long moment to ponder these new revelations. “Then what be that awful noise?”

 

“Well, I was just knocking on your door a moment ago...”

 

“It be ye!?” Bluebeard winced at the sound of his own voice echoing against his painful head. “Well, I hereby order ye to never do that again...” He paused for a moment, considering what else he wanted. “And I order ye to bring me more o' that cider.”

 

“There might be a problem with that last part.”

 

“What?” Bluebeard didn't know how much more of this insubordination he could handle. “Why?”

 

“Maybe you'd just better come to the deck and see for yourself...”

 

With resigned, heavy (and painful!) steps, Bluebeard followed Slick to the deck.

 

Even in the shade of the airship's balloon, the noontime sunlight burned Bluebeard's eyes and baked his skull. His headache redoubled.

 

He looked to where he had stacked the remaining cider barrels, hoping to find some relief... but what he saw there only tripled his headache. His precious cider was gone!

 

“Why is all the cider gone?” he asked plaintively to his assembled crew.

 

“I have purified the ship of all unclean things!” Golden Word stepped forward proudly.

 

“But why is all the cider gone?” Bluebeard asked.

 

“He threw it overboard, you big oaf.” Slick still wasn't helping Bluebeard to feel any better.

 

“Quiet, wench,” he said reflexively. Slowly, though, her words sunk in... “HE be the one who did it!?”

 

“As I said, I–”

 

A wordless scream of rage from Bluebeard squashed Golden Word's affirmation. “Slick! Get the rope! Silver! Prepare the prisoner to be hanged!”

 

Bluebeard.”

 

“WHAT!?” Bluebeard was in no mood for any more of Slick's interruptions.

 

“He's a pegasus. He'll just fly there at the end of the rope.”

 

Something about that struck Bluebeard as important. Probably the part where the accursed traitorous zealot wouldn't die. “Then fetch ye the rope anyway. We'll keelhaul the thrice damned scoundrel!”

 

Bluebeard.”

 

WHAAAT!?” His beard bristled and he could feel the veins popping out on his face. Bluebeard was far beyond losing patience now.

 

“This is an airship.” Slick's matter-of-fact tone was beginning to dangerously irritate Bluebeard. “He'll just dangle there.”

 

Enough!” Bluebeard couldn't wait for a proper execution anymore. His aches had been replaced by rage, and it needed an outlet. Now. “I be doing it myself!”

 

He rushed toward the offending white-and-yellow pegasus, only to stop short, Silver Lance blocking his path with the ship's flagpole.

 

Stop! This is neither chivalrous nor noble to assault an unarmed non-combatant. I cannot allow it to be done! Think of your honor, Bluebeard!”

 

Bluebeard, though, was in no mood to be stopped. “Pirates are NOT honorable!” he yelled. He ripped the pole from Silver Lance's hooves and threw it like a spear straight for the soft spot between Golden Word's eyes.

 

Due to the unfortunate condition of Bluebeard's head, though, his aim left much to be desired. The flagpole lance flew straight and true, but not into the cider-tossing traitor's head. No, it careened right past him, directly into Bluebeard's beloved parrot!

 

“NOOO!” he screamed, as the lance struck, but it was too late to change anything. The poor bird was pinned against the forward mast, letting out a startled squeak as it was crushed. Bluebeard rushed to the bird's rescue, but he could soon see that it was no use. The little parrot was much flatter than usual, and quite dead. Quietly, Bluebeard fell to his knees, overcome with grief and frustration at the cruelty of fate. First, the cider, then his head, and now this! Truly, this was destined to be the blackest day of his life! Holding the crushed bird reverently in his hooves, he slowly began to weep. It was just so unfair. By his own hooves he–

 

What? Bluebeard felt a hoof on his shoulder. He looked up to see Golden Word standing there: the very last pony he wanted to see right now. The white pegasus held out his hooves, as if asking for something... Bluebeard wasn't thinking very clearly. His head still hurt, and he had just lost so much... Reacting reflexively to the gesture, he handed his parrot's remains over to Golden Word. Only after he did so did he realize what he had done.

 

“What...? Wait! Give 'im back!” Bluebeard desperately wanted to regain some control over the situation.

 

Golden Word, wretched pegasus that he was, didn't obey – of course. Instead, he began intoning some weird prayer over the parrot's body.

 

Bluebeard was in no mood to humor Golden Word's strange religion. “Avast! What ye be doing to me parrot? Put 'im down right now, or so help me, I'll–”

 

Words left him, though, when something strange – and altogether uncanny – began to happen. Beginning softly, but rapidly growing in intensity, the bird's body began to glow. As Golden Word continued to pray, the pure white glow grew brighter and brighter until Bluebeard couldn't stand to look at it anymore. He shut his eyes against the glare.

 

Abruptly, Golden Word stopped his prayer, and the glow – still visible through Bluebeard's eyelids – vanished at the same moment. As Bluebeard opened his eyes, blinking away the dazzling afterimage, he felt a familiar, impossible weight on his back. In shock, he scooped up the little yellow parrot, holding it in front of him in his hooves. His jaw dropped and his eyes went wide. The bird was as good as new, not a scratch on him! Idly, it pecked at Bluebeard's hoof, looking for a treat.

 

Eyes still wide in shock, Bluebeard looked up to Golden Word, who was now looking his most angelic, hovering above the deck on his white wings.

 

“You...” Bluebeard still couldn't believe what he saw in front of him. “You brought me parrot–”

 

“Canary!” Stern Breeze reflexively corrected.

 

Parrot.” Bluebeard insisted, “back to life!” He stared a little more. “But... how?”

 

“Forget not, my children,” Golden Word said, still hovering above the deck, “the blessings of The Light are manifest and many. Rejoice.”

 

Everypony on deck – especially Bluebeard – stared at the pegasus in awe... Could that pony be... real?

 

* * *

 

Chapter 6

Torches and Pitchforks

 

“And how long shall it be now, 'till the villains appear?” Silver Lance couldn't wait for the chance to complete this grandest of all quests.

 

The yellow pegasus in front of him didn't seem so enthusiastic though. “How should I know?”

 

“You are the captain of the airship! Your cutie mark is a compass rose! You should know!”

 

Former captain,” Stern Breeze pointed out, her tone acidic, “My navigational duties have been relieved by captain Bluebeard over there.” She nodded her head towards the helm, where Bluebeard still stood, piloting the airship.

 

“But we have been sailing for such a long time now, surely our goal draws near?” Getting only silence in reply, Lance decided more persuasion would be required. “Please humor this gallant knight, who knows but little of the airship's art. Bluebeard tells me nothing, and I must know. Please, would you but grant me this small boon?”

 

She shook her head. “Ugh! I don't know!” With that, she stalked off, leaving Silver Lance nothing left to do but watch the scenery below drift by.

 

...Which turned out to be fortuitous. Far below, Lance could make out a horrible monster. Some kind of dreadful giant, it stood nigh three times as tall as a house, and it loomed just outside the lake it must have crawled out of. For now, it just stood there, threatening a nearby town with its four thrashing arms... but Lance knew this would be a problem... one that could only be solved by the legendary knight: Sir Silver Lance!

 

With haste, he gathered his lance from where it had lain ever since Bluebeard slew the parrot. His lance in his hoof, he pressed on to face the threat. Landing the airship would take too much time. He would need to take a faster way down. He leaped off from the deck's railing, plummeting down towards the monster. As he fell, he thanked Lady Luck that such a lake had been available to land on. Had only hard ground been available, even a pony so legendary as he might have suffered some small injury. Lance grinned into the forceful oncoming wind of his descent. He knew that his mane and tail were flying behind him in as epic a fashion as could be wished for. He knew the other ponies would be watching from above. This dive alone would be legendary!

 

With a bone-shuddering splash, he crashed down into the lake, pressing far beneath the surface. He caught his lance in his teeth and began swimming upward and toward the shore as quickly as possible: the monster would have seen the splash. Time was of the essence!

 

* * *

 

“Hard to port! Reduce lift! Pitch down by ten degrees! Shake a leg ye sluggards!”

 

For once, Stern Breeze didn't mind Bluebeard's shouting. She even followed the orders, pulling on a release rope to reduce the ship's lift as she stared below at where Silver Lance had fallen.

 

Guilt twisted a knife in her side as she saw the splash. Sure, she had never really liked the boastful old geezer... but she never wanted this! She should have known better! These ponies were all very unstable... she should have known there could be a suicide risk. And had she caused it? Ruefully, she thought back to how she brushed him off after everypony else had ignored him... how could she have failed to see this coming?

 

She stared at the now still water below, fighting back a tear and silently promising never to take another pony's feelings lightly again... but then, miraculously, a pony emerged from the shallows... it was Silver Lance! He was alive! Her tears escaped now, tears of joy and relief. Silver Lance was alive and well, and even still carrying his lance! Why, look at him run! She squinted down, a little confused now. What was he doing, anyway? He seemed to be charging full-gallop, lance at the ready, toward... a windmill?

 

* * *

 

Silver Lance let the momentum of his charge build. This was going to be magnificent! Legendary knight versus epic monstrosity! It would be inspiring poems and songs for ages to come!

 

The creature towered over him now, but he slackened not his pace. Not a trace of fear crossed his mind. This is what he lived for! He raised his lance higher, accommodating the beast's huge frame, and braced himself for the coming impact.

 

With surprising agility, the giant grabbed the tip of his lance, picking Silver up high into the air, still clinging to his weapon. The monster swung Silver Lance around in a wide arc – nothing a legendary hero couldn't handle, but still quite a setback. This battle would not be easy... but Silver Lance had known that from the beginning. It would not make for a satisfyingly epic tale if he vanquished the beast with but little effort, after all.

 

Clinging for his life and for his honor, Silver Lance began clawing his way up the lance's shaft. He would have to free it from the monster's grip if he was to ever finish this fight. This monster was utterly, incredibly strong... but seemed to be simple-minded – that would be its weakness. It failed to see the threat Silver Lance posed: it only kept swinging the lance around, trying in vain to dislodge him. Finally, he made it to the tip of his lance. Biting into the beast's tough hide with his teeth, he began to free his lance from the monster's grip.

 

Silver Lance freed his weapon with relative ease: a testament to his highly trained strength.

 

That left him dangling from one of the monster's arms by his teeth... not a particularly tenable situation for a pony. He still had one option left though. He could exploit a weakness in the beast's armor he had noticed from the very beginning: its one enormous eye. Aiming carefully, and with perfect timing, Silver hurled his lance into the huge eye. It penetrated easily, disappearing entirely inside, and immediately, Silver Lance knew his ploy had been successful. Strange and very unhealthy noises arose from deep withing the monster, making it sound nearly as horrible as it looked. It sounded almost like grinding gears. Suddenly, the beast's arm froze in place, nearly jolting Silver Lance off of it, and the noises inside changed to a loud and urgent groaning.

 

Silver Lance cheered: the beast was dying! Its moan grew to a crescendo, and with little warning, the beast's arms burst off entirely, launching Silver Lance into the air.

 

For the second time today, Lance found himself splashing down into the lake. But it have been worthwhile: the beast's arms were scattered, and it stood motionless, gouts of smoke pouring from its eye. Silver Lance had vanquished it!

 

* * *

 

As the airship touched down, Stern Breeze looked on in horror at what Silver Lance had done. The windmill was ransacked; all four blades had been blasted off, and smoke was billowing out of the single big upper-story window.

 

“What have you done!?” she shouted out, despite already knowing the answer.

 

“I have vanquished this loathsome creature, milady!” He certainly didn't seem ashamed of himself.

 

From the nearby village ponies were already pouring out towards the windmill. They didn't look pleased with what they saw.

 

“And here come my adoring fans now!” Silver Lance didn't seem able to see that these ponies were anything but adoring. 'Murderous' may have been a more fitting term.

 

“Get ye back on the ship ye lug! There be no time for ye to be signing autographs!”

 

Bluebeard's command didn't seem to have much effect on the old earth pony.

 

“HARK!” Everypony, even the approaching mob, turned to look at Golden Word after his shockingly loud exclamation. He pointed a hoof into the sky. “The heathen sisters approach!”

 

* * *

 

Chapter 7

I Just Don't Know What Went Wrong

 

Bluebeard looked up at where Golden Word pointed, and there it was. The royal airship was sailing by overhead... while Bluebeard and his crew lallygagged on the ground!

 

“Get ye back to the ship, ye dog! The chase is on, and there be not any time for lallygagging!” He immediately began preparations for takeoff. It didn't matter if Silver Lance got on board or not, they had to catch that airship! “Weigh anchor! Raise the lift! Move!” He watched the gleaming gold airship above intently. Soon, it would be his!

 

Silver Lance barely scrambled aboard before the airship took off. He made it just ahead of the mob of ponies pursuing him. The only pony had to content himself with blowing kisses at the ponies, who were shaking their torches and pitchforks at him from the ground.

 

As the airship rapidly rose, Bluebeard called out to the main deck, “Wench! Where be ye?”

 

A tap on his shoulder surprised him. There was the spy, right behind him. “Avast ye eldrich wench! How do ye bloody do that?”

 

“Wouldn't you like to know.” She smirked. “Now why are you yelling again?”

 

“I'd be having yer advice on how to take that ship.” He pointed up at the royal airship, now starting to draw closer.

 

You want my advice?” She scrutinized him suspiciously. “Me, the lowly wench?” Sarcasm dripped from her voice.

 

Keeping a steady hoof on the helm, Bluebeard glanced over to her with his good eye. Her expression wasn't exactly warm and inviting. “Wench ye may be. I'll grant ye that...”

 

Her scowl deepened.

 

“But ye also be a good tactician... at times... maybe.”

 

“Your respect flatters me.” she deadpanned.

 

“Aargh! Shove off, will ye! Ye be wanting that royal airship as much as I, so make with the planning!”

 

She rolled her eyes, but the scowl vanished. “What we have is the element of surprise... and I think I can arrange for a bit of a distraction... I think we should put those to use.”

 

“Aye, I be listening.”

 

She raised an eyebrow. “Well...” As she filled him in on her plan, the wicked smile behind his beard grew and grew.

 

* * *

 

Princess Celestia relaxed on her dais on the stern of the royal airship, watching the scenery below slowly slide by. Other than a small fire at a mill, everything looked so peaceful and tranquil from this altitude. Even the weather was better than the forecast had predicted, with none of the expected morning drizzle and cloud cover. She glanced over to her sister beside her, truly grateful now that Luna had revived the old tradition of taking the royal airship out to the Summer Sun Celebration. It was so relaxing to have a couple days off, away from the palace, and with only an absolute minimum of servants and courtesans. Why had she ever stopped this tradition in the first place?

 

Luna must have noticed her looking. “What is the matter, sister?”

 

“Oh, nothing.” She made another of her (in)famous little unreadable grins. “I'm just grateful that I could once again share this old tradition with you... Everything is just so perfect and relaxing.”

 

Princess Luna's face blossomed into a sweet smile – but then faded into a confused frown as her eyes darted elsewhere.

 

“What's wrong, sister?” Celestia knew her sister could be moody at times – ever since a certain unfortunate incident – but this was abnormal, even for her.

 

“Well, that perhaps.” Luna pointed a hoof behind Celestia.

 

Princess Celestia turned to see what it was, and groaned inwardly. It was a white pegasus with a yellow mane and tail... a familiar white pegasus. It had to be Golden Word. She had ordered him committed after one very memorable royal audience... but it seemed that her solution to this little pony's problem hadn't been as permanent as she had originally hoped.

 

“Golden Word...” she muttered.

 

“You know this pony?” Luna asked, hope rising on her face.

 

“Unfortunately, yes. Prepare yourself, sister.” Celestia suppressed a shudder. “This is not going to be a pleasant conversation... Let's go meet him on the railing, so at least hopefully he won't land on the ship.”

 

Princess Celestia gathered all the composure she could (which was considerable), and with Luna in tow, headed for the deck railing. She regretted having this sick pony put away, but there was no telling what he might do... it had been unavoidable.

 

As she stepped up to the edge, most of her royal guards, all pegasi, were already there, on high alert. Soon, the intruder was within screaming range, and the tirade began.

 

“Behold! I come before thee once more, Great Blasphemers! No more can thine sins remain hidden in shadow! No more can thee lead ponies astray from the true path! For I am come! The true bearer of The Light has come that the blinded masses may be free from thy debauched tyranny. Come forth, Heretic Sisters, that I might confront thee, and cast thee down into thine justly deserved punishment, as foretold by the great prophets of old! Come forth! I summon thee to thine judgement and thine fate, for gone is the...”

 

Princess Celestia brought her hoof up to her face. When she had first sent this pony off for professional psychological help, his tirade had gone on for five hours... and it seemed even worse this time.

 

“You know this pony, Sister?” Luna gave her a questioning look.

 

“Unfortunately, yes.” Celestia sighed. She knew this was bound to be an ordeal, no matter how things turned out. “We've met once before.”

 

Luna was beginning to cringe. “What is wrong with him?”

 

“The very best psychologists in Canterlot have been trying to figure that out for seven years now...” Slowly, she shook her head in frustration. “I wonder how he managed to get out?”

 

“Why do you not simply have him arrested?” Luna asked. “Every guard on the ship now stands at the rail, waiting to.”

 

Looking to her right and left, Celestia saw this was true... the side of the ship was lined with royal pegasus guards, all primed and ready to take on the threat.

 

“Patience, Sister.” In truth, Celestia wanted to order that as well, but things just weren't done that way anymore. Sometimes she missed the good old days... “We should at least attempt to reason with him first.”

 

“...and THY sins shall not be forgiven, for THEE are the Great Temptresses, destined for...”

 

Celestia winced as the pony's shrill sermon reached a high point... Perhaps Luna was right about this one.

 

* * *

 

With his one good eye, Bluebeard stared at the slowly approaching airship. His whole ship sailed in silence; even the parrot on his back made nary a squawk. In this attack, stealth would be crucial, after all. He glanced at the wench next to him for a brief moment. Her plan had better work, or they would all be in for the fight of their lives: a shipload of royal guards – not to mention the princesses themselves – were nothing to sneer at.

 

Silently, his airship edged ever closer. He made small adjustments in course, making sure they stayed on target. The former captain was tied up below decks and gagged, despite her protests. Everypony had agreed that they couldn't trust her not to shout a warning at the wrong time.

 

Bluebeard grinned maniacally as his target closed in, the gilded airship's decorations glinting in the sun. It wouldn't be long now! He gave the hoof signal for everypony to gather at the bow. This was it!

 

A tremendous crash rang out as Bluebeard's ship rammed the royal airship's broadside head-on. The incredible impact sent Bluebeard and his crew tumbling onto the royal airships deck – and more importantly, it sent the royal airship's passengers and crew flying overboard. He skidded to a halt on the now-empty deck and searched for any survivors. He found only one: the royal airship's captain, still desperately clutching the ship's wheel. Quickly, Bluebeard shouted his orders. “Wench! Drop all ballast! Silver! Lift to maximum! Golden Word! Get ye arse on board! Now!” The captain, Bluebeard would deal with himself. He approached the helm, and the pegasus behind it. The royal ship's captain was an impressive stallion, every bit as burly as Bluebeard himself, and sporting a big red mustache. He even wore a captain's hat matching his white fur that made Bluebeard – despite his fine eye patch – burn with envy. “I be the dread pirate, Bluebeard!” he called out, “I be taking ye ship. Surrender now!”

 

The royal airship's captain gave him an unimpressed sneer. “And...?”

 

And I be taking that hat,” Bluebeard challenged, a gleam in his eye.

 

At that, the captain did seem to take offense. He recoiled, and his eyes widened, “I am Captain Cumulus of the Royal Navy. I do not surrender!”

 

Bluebeard's face broke into a feral grin. This would be a swashbuckling to remember! He swiped to golden swords from the ceremonial coat of arms on the ship's deck, and tossed one to his opponent. Roaring, “Then have at ye!” he rushed up the steps as Cumulus took a defensive stance at the top.

 

Blades clashed as the two captains met. Bluebeard snarled at his opponent through their crossed swords. Cumulus shoved him back – the disadvantage of an uphill battle – but Bluebeard was back at it in no time. He could tell that this mustachioed captain was no swordspony, and slowly but steadily, he forced the royal airship's captain back.

 

Cumulus slashed at Bluebeard with furious strength, almost gaining back ground, but Bluebeard continued countering expertly. This Royal Navy captain might have strength, but he lacked Bluebeard's skill.

 

Finally, Bluebeard forced his opponent against the aft railing. “Had ye enough?” Bluebeard taunted, “Be ye ready te give up?”

 

“Never!” Captain Cumulus launched into a savage slashing attack, straight at Bluebeard's throat.

 

The airship was rising rapidly now, the stern facing downward at a steep angle, and Bluebeard saw his chance. Rather than blocking the incoming blow, he ducked, dodging beneath it. He then shot back up, aiming a decisive thrust at the now off-balance captain.

 

Bluebeard's blade plunged into the captain's chest... but being as it was a ceremonial blade, the dulled point didn't penetrate... but being as it was a gold ceremonial sword, its weight was more than enough to send the captain flying overboard.

 

With a fierce pride in his heart, Bluebeard watched his enemy fall away. He picked up the magnificent captain's hat from the deck where it had fallen, and whispered, “Fare ye well, bold Cumulus. Ye were a worthy foe.” By the time he turned around, his crew had gathered back on the deck. They all watched him expectantly. Rising to the august occasion, he shouted, “Level her off! Set course for Galiponi! Today, we sail the ship of the gods! Today, we be the masters of our fate! Nothing can stop us now!

 

* * *

 

From the shore of a small lake Princess Celestia used her magic to carefully control and slow the fall of her airship's captain: the last crewmember in need of rescue. Now, everypony was accounted for and she could breathe a sigh of relief. Above, the pirate airship slowly circled downward and her own sped away, faster than any pegasus could fly.

 

Sitting on the grassy beach next to her, Luna finally found her voice again. “Sister?”

 

“Yes, Luna?”

 

“Did what I think just happened... just happen?” Luna looked as if she had just seen purple striped bananas marching through her bedroom. If not for the distraction of saving the falling crew, Celestia herself would probably be in a similar state of bewilderment.

 

“I think it did...” She looked up into the sky again; the evidence was irrefutable. “I think it did.”

 

“What shall we do about it?” Her younger sister seemed to be recovering from the shock, at least a little.

 

Celestia pondered it for just a moment. “Find me a scroll and a quill. I have a letter to write... to Twilight Sparkle.”

 

 

 

The End?

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MORE PLEASE! I NEED MORE OF THIS INSANITY!

There Are No Mistakes.

I Found It Easy To Follow, And Even At A Time Where It Seamed A Bit Un-Flowy, I Could Excuse It Because...

 

 

... THE PONIES ARE INSANE!!!!!! :D So Fun!

Please Write More.

 

 

 

 

~Your Mate, DarkDarsi

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Finished reading the first chapter, and it looks promising. Exciting and well-written. Who knows, the other patients may not actually be mad, either...

Only weird thing is, who would make a mental hospital's cafeteria (where patients gather) right next to outside, with only one single door instead of at least a secure corridor?

 

Will read more as soon as I can, so I'm Following it in the meantime. ^_^

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Four ponies escape a Canterlot mental institution. Hilarity may or may not ensue.

-Adventure/Comedy

~10k words.

-Suitable for all ages

-All-OC cast

 

I'm (desperately) looking for pre-readers! Please read and tell me what you think, in as much detail as possible. In this one in particular, I'd love love love it if anyone pointed out opportunities to add in humor that I missed.

 

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Chapter One

For Want of a Bucket

 

* * *

I've read the first chapter and got to say, you're success in getting my curiosity. You use a good amount of active voice, which is very good because it's much more reliable, strong, and brief than passive voice. Your setting is good enough, but still need some improvement. Don't hesitate to write a paragraph just to describe about the place where the scene takes place. Well, since most scenes are fast scenes, I don't think that you need to give more details. It's good already. ;)

 

I also want to remind you of the art of "Show, don't just tell". Maybe this will help. I've explained many things about writing here :

 

http://mlpforums.com/topic/43854-need-a-friendly-proof-reader-want-some-writing-tips-or-want-to-share-yours/

 

Good luck bro. I'm not a big fan of spy, but I will keep my eyes on this.

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Yay! Comments!

starstruck.jpg

Finished reading the first chapter, and it looks promising. Exciting and well-written.

^.^

Who knows, the other patients may not actually be mad, either...

We're all mad here.

pinkamena.jpg

Only weird thing is, who would make a mental hospital's cafeteria (where patients gather) right next to outside, with only one single door instead of at least a secure corridor?

shrug_fluttershy.jpg

Will read more as soon as I can, so I'm Following it in the meantime. ^_^

Mkay. I'll be looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the whole thing.

 

 

I've read the first chapter and got to say, you're success in getting my curiosity.

Nice. ^.^

You use a good amount of active voice, which is very good because it's much more reliable, strong, and brief than passive voice.

I've done a good bit of studying about how to write fiction, and that's one part I've got pretty well figured out. ^.^

Your setting is good enough, but still need some improvement. Don't hesitate to write a paragraph just to describe about the place where the scene takes place. Well, since most scenes are fast scenes, I don't think that you need to give more details. It's good already. ;)

considering_pinkie.jpg

So I do need more detail in setting description... or I don't...

 

Agh! The choices!

cover_pinkie.jpg

 

...I think I will try to add a bit more detail in the setting... just because I also noticed my settings were a bit sparse.

I also want to remind you of the art of "Show, don't just tell".

conflicted_rainbow.jpg

I was telling!?

 

Damn... I'll have to try and find where/how I was doing that... Completely unacceptable.

Good luck bro. I'm not a big fan of spy, but I will keep my eyes on this.

Don't worry, the spy is only one part of the story. She has much less 'screentime' in the later chapters.

(In fact, she'll never again be the POV character. -- Each chapter (for the most part) uses a different pony as the point of view character.)

 

MORE PLEASE! I NEED MORE OF THIS INSANITY!

Don't worry. I've already done the first step of writing the sequel to this.

I really enjoyed writing this one, so I'll be sure to make Sanatorium II happen.

(Twilight and her friends will be given the task of tracking down and recapturing the crazy ponies. Hilarity will ensue.)

There Are No Mistakes.

Oh yes there are, you flatterer, you.

My usual proofreader has found a couple dozen at least, all of which are still in the version you read.

I Found It Easy To Follow,

Good! ^.^

And Even At A Time Where It Seamed A Bit Un-Flowy,

Please please PLEASE tell me exactly where that was.

I Could Excuse It Because...

 

 

... THE PONIES ARE INSANE!!!!!! :D So Fun!

Please Write More.

Oh I will. I will.

A sequel to this one, two already-existing fics, another one in the revision stage, two more being written, and over a dozen ideas alraedy brainstormed out and ready to write.

(Now that I've got a job where I can take time to write, I'm getting really prolific. ^.^)

  • Brohoof 1
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To be honest, I'm starting to find the "show, don't tell" quote extremely generic. There's also an irony here, or hypocrisy, in telling someone this without showing how.

Here's a post that actually provides examples.

Yeah... I entirely know how to do that... and know that I should.

But knowing and doing are two different things, of course.

Sometimes it's hard to notice when you're doing it.

  • Brohoof 1
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To be honest, I'm starting to find the "show, don't tell" quote extremely generic. There's also an irony here, or hypocrisy, in telling someone this without showing how.

Here's a post that actually provides examples.

I said "Want to remind". Of course I can explain this art in a very detailed way, but since I knew that he already know about it, I didn't want to make any long post, and like what he says here :

 

Yeah... I entirely know how to do that... and know that I should.

But knowing and doing are two different things, of course.

Sometimes it's hard to notice when you're doing it.

This. ;)

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