The Lost Tribe
By Mike Dugan
"Uh!" Applejack grunted as she spiked the volleyball with her front hoof. It sailed over the net, only to be met with a strong headbutt from Rainbow Dash and sent hurtling back. Applejack pivoted on her front hooves, bucked the ball back with her hind legs, and the two athletic ponies continued their one-on-one game of beach volleyball.
Rarity stretched out on her plush beach chair, sighing contentedly. "Oh what a lovely day to be at the beach!" she proclaimed.
Spike gazed lovingly at the white unicorn, gripping her umbrella in his claws. "It certainly is..." he said distantly.
Rarity peered over her shades and tilted her large sunhat out of the way. "Hm. Spike, be a dear and move just a teeny bit to the right, will you?" she asked. Spike, still grinning dimly, did so.
Nearby, a small group of hermit crabs scuttled toward a newly created sandcastle, just as Fluttershy finished molding the last tower. "There you go, little hermit crabs. Now you have a proper home to live in," she said.
As Twilight Sparkle kept her snout in a book, conveniently titled, How To Have Fun at the Beach, Pinkie Pie waddled up to her. She was wearing flippers on all four hooves, a mask and snorkel sat atop her head, and a large yellow inner-tube encircled her body.
"Boy, Twilight! It sure was lucky you were able to get us passes to Canter Cove!" Pinkie exclaimed. Her buffoonish gait from the flippers caused her to accidentally kick up a bit of sand onto Twilight's book.
Twilight flinched, and shook the sand from her book, giving the party pony a slightly irritated look. "Y-y-yeah, it was," she replied. Twilight turned her gaze to the sunny vista around her and her friends. Canter Cove was one of the municipal beaches of Canterlot, and one of the most luxurious vacation spots in Equestria. Twilight smiled at the sight of her friends enjoying themselves. "I just figured we could use a little vacation after all the excitement lately," she said.
No sooner did Twilight finish her sentence, when Applejack suddenly called out from down the beach, "Whoa nelly! Heads up!" The volleyball she and Rainbow Dash had been batting back and forth careened away from the playing area, smushing Fluttershy's sandcastle. Fluttershy yelped as she shielded herself from the sandy spray. The hermit crabs crept away unharmed, but the castle was no more. Fluttershy sighed forlornly at the mound of sand that was once the home to the small creatures she was trying to help.
Applejack and Rainbow Dash cringed at the result of the incident. Applejack could only stammer out an apology. "Er, sorry 'bout that, sugarcube," she said with a guilty grin.
"Oh, it's okay," Fluttershy replied. "I can always make another one." She began to dig her front hooves in the sand once again, making another attempt at a sandcastle home.
Rainbow Dash piped up after a moment. "Uh, maybe that's enough volleyball for now," she said. "Hey! Who's up for a swim?" Rainbow was met with enthusiastic cheers from her friends.
The six ponies galloped happily into the water, splashing around and giggling. After a long bout of frolicking in the shallows, Rainbow Dash glided up to Twilight. "Hey Twilight! I just had an awesome idea!" she said. The purple unicorn leaned over, as Rainbow Dash whispered in her ear.
Twilight was taken aback by the request. "What? Gosh, Rainbow Dash, do you think that's safe?"
"Trust me! It'll be the coolest thing ever!" the blue pegasus exclaimed.
Twilight thought for a moment, then shrugged. "Well, okay, Rainbow," she said. "As long as you know what you're doing."
Squealing with excitement, Rainbow Dash flew up to some of the lower clouds in the sky above the water. Twilight retreated to the water's edge, readying herself to participate in Rainbow Dash's new plan.
As the other ponies made their way out of the water, Twilight's horn began to glow. Furrowing her brow in concentration, she swayed her head back and forth. As she did so, the water before her started to dip and rise. At first, it was only a few small ripples in the surf, but soon, the waves grew larger and reached further out into the sea. After a while, Twilight's spell had stirred up large, impressive waves that crashed back and forth across almost the entire length of the beach. It was not long before many of the other ponies visiting the vacation spot had their attention drawn to the scene. It was just how Rainbow Dash liked it.
High above the water, Rainbow Dash perched herself on the edge of a narrow cloud. She peered intensely at the roiling waves below her, judging the best opportunity to make her move. Her eyes focused onto a large wave rolling away beneath her, and she readied herself.
"And now!" she announced. "Rainbow Dash will perform her greatest display of stunts ever!" With that, she bounced a few times on the edge of her cloudy perch, not unlike a diver atop a diving board, then zoomed down toward the churning sea.
After a short free-fall, Rainbow Dash's wings flapped open and she shot forward. Zigzagging between the crests of the waves, she kicked her hooves into the foamy white tips. As the sunlight hit the watery spray from Rainbow Dash's kicks, a long, winding rainbow appeared behind the speeding pegasus as she darted along. Delighted by the display, the ponies along the edge of the beach began cheering and chanting Rainbow Dash's name. Beaming with pride, Rainbow Dash turned her head to the beach far below her, grinning at the crowd and relishing the cheers.
It all happened at once.
Amidst the cheers and whistles of the ponies on the sandy beach, Twilight cried out, "Rainbow Dash, look out!"
Turning her head a moment too late, Rainbow Dash could only let out a gasp as an enormous wave came crashing down on her. The watery cascade slammed her down into the water, pushing her far below the surface and out of sight. Shouting in horror, the other ponies galloped into the water, frantically searching for their missing pegasus friend.
Rainbow Dash floated numbly in a dark blue void. After a few moments, the stunned pegasus slowly regained her senses. Luckily, she had managed to hold her breath, despite the powerful blast of water that struck her. Rainbow Dash peered blearily into the water, trying to get bearings. Just as she did so, a pair of bright green eyes suddenly appeared before her.
At first, Rainbow Dash felt a sense of relief at the sight of a stallion in the water with her. But as she gained a better view of the pony, the full sight galvanized her. The pony was shaped like any other, but where his hind legs should have been, a long, fish-like tail extended.
Uttering a muffled cry of shock, Rainbow Dash rocketed toward the surface. At the shoreline, Twilight and the other ponies dodged out of the way of the screaming pegasus as she shot out of the water and crashed onto the beach, leaving a deep groove in the sand. The ponies trotted up to where Rainbow Dash had made her landing, her back end protruding comically from the large mound that she had become embedded in. Twilight dug at the sand, trying to help her friend out of her landing site and make sure was all right. "Rainbow Dash? Are you okay? Are you hurt?" she called out.
Rainbow Dash burst forth from the sand, sitting upright. Wiping the grit from her eyes, she stared intensely at the sea. "A pony... in the water..." she said blankly.
Twilight and the others all looked perplexed. Before they could say anything, Rainbow Dash leaped from the mound and galloped past them into the water. Her friends followed, voicing their concerns.
"There's a pony in the water!" Rainbow Dash cried out. She splashed around the shallow surf, her head flew from side to side as she looked around desperately for some sign of the creature she had glimpsed.
Twilight rushed to Rainbow Dash's side and placed her front hoof on her friend's shoulder. "Rainbow Dash, what's going on?" she asked.
Rainbow Dash turned to Twilight with a bewildered expression, completely lost for words. She looked back to the sea, quivering with disbelief at what she had seen.
That evening, at the Canterlot library, Rainbow Dash was pacing back and forth, countless thoughts racing through her mind. She, Twilight, and the others had all gathered at the library to discuss Rainbow's bizarre sighting. Twilight was scouring the upper level of the library, while the others watched an agitated Rainbow Dash trot from one end of the room to the other.
"Uh, Rainbow Dash? Are you sure you saw what you saw? I mean, y'all hit the water mighty hard," Applejack said cautiously.
Rainbow Dash shot her a hard look. "I know what I saw!" she said. "I'm telling you, he was down there!"
The four ponies exchanged skeptical glances. Rarity finally spoke. "Rainbow, dear, are you positive you didn't just see a dolphin or some such creature?"
Rainbow Dash snorted angrily. "Dolphins don't have hooves, Rarity!" she snapped.
Rarity cocked her head, startled by Rainbow Dash's sharp reply. Calming herself, Rainbow Dash put a hoof to her face, and sighed. "I'm sorry," she said. "Look, I know how it sounds. I almost can't believe it myself. But I'm telling you, I saw a pony in the water, and he had the tail of a fish!" She sighed heavily and continued pacing.
Fluttershy peered at her lifelong friend. "Goodness, Rainbow Dash," she said, "whatever it was, if it has you so worked up, then maybe... maybe there is something down there."
"Y'think she's on to somethin'?" Applejack asked.
Then, from the upper level of the library, Twilight's voice chimed in. "Actually, it's possible she is." In a bright purple flash, Twilight teleported to the ground floor. A large, dusty book hovered before her in her magical grip. Opening the ancient looking tome, Twilight flipped through the dry old pages, until she arrived at the appropriate entry. "Take a look at this, everypony," she said.
The friends gathered around Twilight as she described the passage before them. "This is one of the oldest books I have about pre-Equestrian history," she explained. "It tells of the three tribes and their journeys before the founding of Equestria. It also mentions the tales of other creatures, like donkeys and even zebras."
Twilight flipped a few more pages, arriving at a series of primitive looking illustrations. "See these drawings?" she said. "These are old carvings and murals of ponies who were said to have dwelt in the sea. They broke off from the other ponies long ago to form their own kingdom. A lost tribe." The ponies murmured in fascination.
"No way, that's it!" Rainbow Dash burst out, pointing her hoof at one of the images in the book. It was of a pony seeming to gallop amidst simply drawn water patterns. It had two forelegs outstretched, while a fish-like tail protruded from its hind end. "That's what I saw!"
The others gasped. "Rainbow Dash," Twilight said in an urgent tone, "you've never looked through this book before, have you?"
Rainbow Dash cocked an eyebrow. Twilight giggled and rolled her eyes. "Right, just wanted to make sure."
"Well golly," Applejack proclaimed, "that can't be just some coincidence! I think you might have somethin' there, Rainbow Dash!"
Rainbow Dash flitted up into the air with excitement. "Then let's check it out!" she exclaimed. Hovering closer to the floor, she extended her front hoof toward her friends. "Who's with me?"
The other five ponies looked to each other, then back to Rainbow Dash. Twilight spoke first. "Gosh, if there's any truth to this, it could be a big discovery! Count me in!" She reached her hoof out and touched Rainbow Dash's.
"Same here!" Applejack announced. "Whatever's goin' on down there, y'all ain't facin' it without me!" She touched her hoof with Rainbow and Twilight's.
Rarity's white hoof gracefully joined the others. "And I as well!" she said. Immediately after, Pinkie Pie's hoof shot in, clacking against the others' as she blurted out an enthusiastic, "Woo-hoo!"
The five friends turned their heads to the gentle yellow pegasus nearby. Fluttershy recoiled slightly, then smiled. "You know what? Me too!" she said, and placed her hoof in the circle with the others.
The next day, far out at sea, a small fishing boat chugged to a stop, and bobbed steadily in the water. Aboard the 'Orca,' Rainbow Dash and her friends stood on the deck, readying themselves for their new adventure.
"Thanks for the boat ride, Mr. Squint!" Twilight said to the gruff earth pony stallion operating the boat.
The old salt tipped his pale gray cap. "Not at all, Miss Twilight," he said. He shut down the engine, and set to tending his vessel, humming an old shanty to himself.
Twilight turned to her friends, as she briefly perused a scroll she brought with her. "Okay girls," she said, "now this spell is pretty complicated, but it should do the trick."
Rarity looked uneasy. "Uh, ahem, what exactly will this spell of yours do, Twilight?" she asked apprehensively.
Twilight began her explanation. "Well, in order for us to give an extensive search underwater, we need to be able to stay below for a long time. This 'breathing bubble' spell will allow ponies to stay underwater indefinitely."
Rolling up the scroll and setting it aside, Twilight continued her speech. "I've already spoken to Princess Celestia herself about all of this, and she's very interested in hearing about what, if anything, we discover. If we don't find anything, it's fine. But, if we do find anything, any evidence of these creatures at all, she wants to hear about it. This is very important to all of pony-kind."
The others nodded.
"We have three days to conduct our search until the princess expects to hear back from us." Twilight leaned toward her friends, pointing a hoof at them to emphasize her point. "Got that? Three days."
Rainbow Dash swished her tail. "That's all I need!" she exclaimed. "So let's do this!"
Twilight nodded, and her horn began to glow as she cast her spell. Soon, a small purple bubble emanated from the tip of her horn, and slowly expanded in size until it was larger than a pony's head. Twilight nudged the bubble in Rainbow Dash's direction. Rainbow winced as the ethereal blob wafted toward her and enveloped her head. With a few slight shifts and distortions, the bubble gently conformed to Rainbow Dash's head and mane, and the purple hue faded to complete transparency. Rainbow poked at the delicate clear surface around her head. She gave a slight chuckle at the strangeness of the situation.
"Now, be careful, all of you," Twilight warned. "These bubbles are tougher than regular soap suds, but they can still break with enough force."
Rarity and Fluttershy gave each other worried looks, then turned to Twilight. "And you're sure this is safe?" Rarity asked.
Twilight thought for a moment, then said, "Well, safe enough. I think." Rarity and Fluttershy gulped. Twilight readied her horn for the spell again. "So, who's up next?" she asked cheerfully.
After a few minutes, each pony had her own magic breathing bubble formed around her head. Pinkie Pie prodded at hers with childlike glee, and giggled at the wobbling magical substance around her head. "Cool!" she chortled.
Rainbow Dash smirked. "Pinkie Pie, I've got so many bubble head jokes I could making right now, I can't decide on just one!" Pinkie Pie responded with a wide grin.
Then, before any of the other ponies knew it, Rainbow Dash was up on the edge of the stern. "Look out, sea ponies!" she exclaimed. "Here I come!" With a cry of exhilaration, she dove headfirst into the rippling water. The others looked on with disbelief.
Applejack chuckled as she climbed up the stern to where Rainbow Dash had jumped from. "Never did learn to look before you leap, huh sugarcube," she said. "Geronimo!" Soon, she too was over the edge of the boat and splashing down into the water.
Giggling with excitement, Pinkie Pie then careened over the edge in a cheerful bounce, and Twilight followed her. Rarity and Fluttershy clambered up the boat's edge with distressed looks on their faces. Clutching each other and uttering a wail of dismay, they hurled themselves into the strange blue world their friends had just disappeared into.
Deep below the surface, Rarity and Fluttershy sank down to the seabed where their friends had arrived. The two ponies were still clinging to each other as they settled onto the sandy floor, cringing at the bizarre situation. After a moment, Rarity dared to open one of her eyes to peer at her strange surroundings. Gasping with delight, she shook Fluttershy gently, urging her to finally look as well. Reluctantly, Fluttershy finally opened her eyes. As soon as she saw the sight around her, she too joined her friends in the joyful gaze at the new world around them.
In the vibrant blue water, rippling sandbars crested with brilliantly colored corals and sea plants stretched out as far as they could see. Sparkling schools of fish of every color, shape and size wove in and around the scenery before them.
"Whoa..." Rainbow Dash said distantly. "Even I didn't think there were this many colors!"
"O-o-h, neither did I!" Rarity giggled. "Oh this is giving me all sorts of new ideas for my next fashion line!" Soon, the white unicorn had thrown herself ahead of the group, frantically paddling toward the amazing scenery. Tittering with glee, she zipped from reef to reef, perusing all the exotic shapes and colors of the seaweeds and corals.
Rainbow Dash gave a half-smile. "Okay ladies," she said, "now let's remember why we're all down—" She stopped when she saw that her friends had all lost their focus and were thoroughly enchanted with their wonderful new discoveries.
By some miracle, Twilight had managed to keep a quill and parchment at the ready, despite her watery surroundings. She diligently jotted down notes and sketches of all the new things she observed. "Wow! I can't wait to document this back home!" she said excitedly.
Applejack stepped to Twilight's side, looking bewildered at her note-taking friend. "How're you doin' that?" she asked. Twilight simply responded with a puzzled look, as if surprised by the question.
Nearby, Fluttershy was greeted by a school of small fish. They meandered gently around her, drawing a quiet giggle from the visiting pegasus. "Hello, new friends!" she cooed. "Oh I can't wait to meet more creatures like you!"
Meanwhile, Pinkie Pie had discovered a school of brightly colored seahorses. Giggling, she pointed at the familiar looking creatures and called out, "Hey Rainbow Dash! Maybe we should ask these little guys if they know anything!" The tiny fish swarmed around the pink pony, prompting a fit of laughter from her.
With a dejected sigh, Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes, then gave a sharp whistle. "Guys!" she shouted. The others snapped to attention. "We really need to focus here!"
Twilight cleared her throat, and swam to Rainbow Dash's side. "You're right, Rainbow Dash," she said. "We only have a limited time down here, so we should make sure we know what we're doing."
Applejack was soon at Rainbow Dash's side as well. "So, what exactly are we lookin' for?" she asked.
"Anything that looks strange, I guess," Rainbow Dash answered.
The ponies were all together, striding along the sandy ocean floor and scanning the scenery around them. Soon the group came to a ledge looking over a vast chasm. Bright spires of coral and rock reached high above them. Long, waving plants swayed in the currents, and countless sea creatures cruised about in slow, deliberate courses among the watery jungle. Down below, an eerie dark trench stretched down into an unknown abyss. The six friends all gazed at the vast alien landscape before them.
"Trouble is, everything down here looks like something strange," Rainbow Dash mused.
The friends were so absorbed in the scenery, none of them had noticed the huge shadow looming over them.
Pinkie Pie suddenly sensed the presence lurking above them. Turning her head, her face filled with shock and horror at the sight. "Uh, g-g-guys?"
The ponies turned their heads, seeing the gaping maw of the enormous shark that was upon them. A collective gasp emitted from the six friends.
"Scatter!" Rainbow Dash shouted.
Screaming, the ponies shot through the water in random directions, narrowly avoiding the clashing array of teeth. Each pony made a break for a hiding place, trying to evade the marauding predator. Applejack hastily shoved a bewildered Rarity behind a rocky spire and out of the shark's sight. Fluttershy tried to take cover in a patch of waving seagrass, but was soon spotted by the beast. Just as the shark was about to make a move for her, Twilight used her magic to pull Fluttershy to safety.
Trembling, Pinkie Pie peeked out from beneath the huge snail shell she hid herself in. Suddenly, she sprang out of her hiding place with a loud yelp of pain. Rubbing her backside, she glared at the large hermit crab that had nipped her flanks.
"That wasn't very nice!" she scolded. She spun around indignantly, only to find herself snout-to-snout with the hulking shark. She giggled nervously. "H-h-hey! Uh, I b-b-bet you've got a terrific smile!" she babbled.
Pinkie's attempt at flattery was met with a lunge from the shark. The enormous jaws smashed shut around the party pony's neck, then pulled away. In a strange, comic fashion, Pinkie Pie's head popped back into place, having pulled itself deep between her shoulders at the last possible second. Before the shark could retaliate, Pinkie was scrambling backwards to a nearby rocky crevasse, squealing with terror. Tucking herself into the tiny gap, the pink pony was soon cornered by the shark.
Using her wings to propel herself in the water, Rainbow Dash pulled herself to the scene. The shark twisted and thrashed its body as it tried to cram its large head into the tiny space where Pinkie Pie was trapped. Pinkie pressed herself against the back wall of her hiding place, which was starting to crumble under the shark's assault.
"Help! Somepony help!" Pinkie Pie wailed. The chomping maw was only inches away. Just as the crumbling rock was about to give way, the shark felt a strong tug from behind.
"Get away from her you big goon!" Rainbow Dash shouted. She had wrapped her front legs around the base of the shark's tale and flapped her wings furiously, trying to pull the monster away from her friend. With one last tug, Rainbow Dash managed to yank the huge fish hard enough to pull it away from its intended meal. The beast turned its attention on Rainbow Dash, and lunged toward her. With the same deftness that aided her in her aerial stunts, Rainbow Dash rolled out of the path of the shark's lethal maw. The razor-sharp teeth missed her, but the beast's powerful tail did not. The shark struck Rainbow Dash with its thick and heavy rudder with incredible force as it swam past her. The strong blow ruptured the magic air bubble surrounding Rainbow Dash's head with a loud pop, and sent the blue pegasus careening toward the rim of the nearby trench.
Unable to gain control of her trajectory, Rainbow Dash slammed into the rocky edge. The sudden impact jolted the last bit of air from her lungs and rendered the pegasus unconscious. With a dull moan, Rainbow Dash's limp form sank into the dark recesses of the undersea canyon, a stream of bubbles trickling from her mouth.
At last, the shark swam away, searching for easier prey. It had decided these creatures were not worth the effort. Nearby, the other ponies had regrouped, and struggled through the water to reach the trench their friend had disappeared into. Gathering at the edge, they desperately called out her name.
"Rainbow Dash! Rainbow!" Twilight cried out. The friends stared into the inky depths, trying to catch any sign of the fallen blue pegasus, but nothing could be seen. The five ponies felt their hearts sink. Twilight's eyes welled. "Rainbow..."
Then, a mysterious form surged through the water before them, plummeting down into the trench. Twilight and the others blinked in confusion.
"Was... was that a tail?" Twilight wondered aloud.
At the bottom of the dark trench, the stunned Rainbow Dash slowly settled on the slimy seabed, blackness all around her. Her lungs completely empty and her senses barely returning to her, she had no strength left to struggle for the surface. She was fading fast.
Suddenly, Rainbow Dash felt the impossible sensation of the forelegs of a pony wrapping around her torso. Barely comprehending the situation, she then felt herself being pulled through the water with tremendous speed. Faster and faster she went, the water rushing over her with increasing intensity. Rainbow Dash squinted hard, trying to keep the tangy salt water out of her eyes and making it impossible for her to see what was happening. There was a loud splash, a flash of sunlight, and the next thing Rainbow Dash knew, she was bursting through the surface.
Rainbow Dash threw her head back as she gasped in the blessed air. Panting and coughing, she gradually caught her breath, and tried to wipe the salty water from her eyes. She could still feel the forelegs of a pony around her, but her mane had become matted over her face from the seawater, preventing her from seeing her rescuer. As she tried to shake her multicolored hair out of her vision, she felt a hoof help clear the colorful strands from her line of sight. Her view finally cleared, Rainbow Dash's eyes slowly began to focus. Finally able to see the creature who had saved her life, a quiet gasp escaped her.
Rainbow Dash was looking into the bright green eyes of the stallion she had witnessed the other day. His coat was dark blue, and a bristled black mane ran along the top of his head. Just behind him, Rainbow Dash could see the fluke of his fish-like tail splash the surface of the water. It was the sea pony.
Still embracing Rainbow Dash in his forelegs, the sea pony looked at the panting pegasus with concern. Then, he spoke.
"Are you all right? Can you breathe up here?"
Rainbow Dash said nothing at first. She stared at the stallion holding her, eyes wide with amazement. Soon, her shock subsided, and a gentle smile crossed her face. "It's you..." Her voice was barely above a whisper.
The sea pony, relieved that his new friend was safe, smiled back. "Hey, you."
To Be Continued
The Lost Tribe
By Mike Dugan
In the middle of the shimmering blue ocean, two ponies bobbed in the water. Rainbow Dash was still in the sturdy embrace of the mysterious sea pony stallion who had saved her life moments ago.
"Oh my gosh..." she said softly. "Thank you..."
The sea pony gave a bashful half-smile.
"Oh my gosh, I can't believe you're real!" the pegasus blurted out. "I can't wait for you to meet my friends!" Rainbow Dash pressed herself closer to her savior. "I'm Rainbow Dash! What's your name?"
The sea pony blinked, and his smile faded. He seemed strangely unnerved by Rainbow Dash's words. "I... uh..."
Suddenly, a series of splashes caught both his and Rainbow's attention. A few feet away, Twilight Sparkle and the rest of her friends had arrived at the surface. Catching sight of Rainbow Dash, the five ponies began jabbering all at once, bombarding their friend with questions like, "Are you okay?" and, "Oh my gosh! What happened?"
The yammering ponies suddenly gasped in unison as they saw the blue stallion cradling Rainbow Dash. Twilight Sparkle's eyes shot back and forth from her pegasus friend to the strange pony with her. She tried to speak, but could only stammer in bewilderment. "R-r-rainbow? Is that a... I mean, is he a... ?"
Rainbow Dash smiled upon seeing her friends. "I'm fine, guys, I–" Suddenly, she and the sea pony exchanged startled glances as they both realized they were still draped in each others' arms. The two leaped from each other, smiling awkwardly.
Rainbow Dash scratched the side of her head. "Whoa, heh... I guess I had somepony looking out for me, huh," she said.
The sea pony pursed his lips. He looked around himself, meeting the eyes of each of the mares fixated on him. There was a look of mild dismay on his face, as if he had been caught in some wrongdoing. Smiling sheepishly, he finally introduced himself. "Breaker," he said. "They call me Breaker."
After her magic air bubble had been restored by Twilight, Rainbow Dash had returned with her friends to the undersea realm with Breaker the sea pony.
Deep below the surface, seven ponies gathered atop the rippled sandbars. Breaker floated close to the sea bottom, allowing his land-based friends to stride along next to him. He moved in a slow undulation, propelling himself along with his tail and occasionally pushing his two front hooves into the sand.
The sea pony scratched the side of his head. He went to speak, but soon found himself crowded by excited mares from all sides.
"Oh my gosh! We have to throw you a party! A 'Found the Lost Tribe' party!" Pinkie squealed.
"I've heard that pearls can be found by the bushel down here! You simply must show me where to find some!" Rarity crooned.
"How fast can you swim? What does breathing water feel like? Oh! Are you able to keep books down here?" Twilight asked.
Applejack stamped her hoof. "Land sakes!" the scowling earth pony interjected. "Did y'all leave your manners back ashore or somethin'? Let's at least show a little gratitude afore we start grillin' the poor guy!"
Looking rather embarrassed, the other ponies collected themselves and resumed their stroll.
"You're right, Applejack," Twilight said. She turned back to Breaker. "Please excuse our behavior. We're all very grateful for what you did. It was very brave of you!"
Breaker shrugged. "Hey, it was, um, nothing," he said.
"Hogwash! Who knows what woulda happened if you hadn't come along!" Applejack added. "Speakin' of, how's the head, Rainbow Dash?" Applejack waited for Rainbow Dash to respond, but received no reply. "Rainbow Dash?" Applejack turned toward the blue pegasus.
Rainbow Dash had not even heard Applejack's voice. Her focus was entirely on Breaker. She was staring at the dark blue pony as she sauntered along next to him, oblivious to the fact that her friend was speaking to her. Applejack picked up her voice. "Rainbow!"
As if snapping out of a trance, Rainbow Dash blinked and shook her head. "Wha– huh?" She glanced around herself, looking as though she had just then noticed her friends were with her. "Oh, uh, well I guess I–" Suddenly, Rainbow Dash uttered a frantic squawk as she toppled forward and landed face-first in the sand. She had caught her front hoof on a rock.
Breaker flinched. "Are you okay?"
Rainbow Dash popped back up, waving her forelegs to dissipate the cloud of sand she had stirred up. "Uh, I-I'm fine!" she said. She chuckled and gave a toothy grin, trying to maintain her composure.
Pinkie Pie suddenly sprang up next to Rainbow, looking very concerned. "Rainbow Dash, you should watch where you're going! If you keep staring at Breaker like that, you could get hurt!"
Rainbow Dash's cheeks flushed. She shot Pinkie a sharp look, and the others began giggling. Breaker smiled slightly, relieved that the attention was away from him for a moment. His own cheeks had turned red as well.
"So, Breaker!" Twilight said, "You've got to tell us about your kind! What do sea ponies do?"
Breaker suddenly looked mortified. His eyes darted from side to side as he stammered for a few seconds. "Uh... Hey, how about you tell me about your kind instead!" he said finally.
Twilight and her friends were puzzled by Breaker's response. "Oh! Sure!" Twilight replied. "I guess you've all been down here by yourselves for so long, you probably aren't familiar with us either!" She cleared her throat as she began her speech. "Well, we do things like study magic, science and history!"
Fluttershy then spoke up. "We also take care of all the animals and keep the weather."
"And we throw the best parties!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed.
Applejack stepped in. "That's right! And we grow some mighty fine apples up top too! Heavens to Betsy, you probably never even heard of apples down here! You'll have to try some once you get a chance to visit!"
Breaker pursed his lips in response to Applejack's words. "Uh... Y-y-yeah..." he said slowly.
Rarity slinked over to Breaker's side. "And what of you, dear?"
"That's right, fair's fair!" Applejack added. "Tell us a little somethin' about yourself!"
Twilight hopped toward Breaker excitedly. "Yes! Please, you've got to tell us!" she said. "I have so many questions!"
Again, Breaker looked distressed, as if struggling to think of what to say next. "Uh... well..." Then, his face brightened. "You know what? We do just those sorts of things too! Just underwater! Nothing special at all!"
Twilight's expression wilted. "Huh?"
"Yup! We're just like all of you! Except we swim! A-a-and we don't have those apple things! But other than that, we're just plain ponies! So that's it!" Breaker smiled awkwardly.
The six friends were dumbfounded. They all looked at each other, muttering in confusion.
Seeing the opportunity, Breaker started to swim away from the other ponies. "Well, uh, it's been really fun meeting all of you!" he said. "But it's getting a bit late, so I should probably get going. Lots of sea pony things to do and all!"
The six mares looked at Breaker with shocked expressions.
"What?" Twilight exclaimed. "But... but there are so many things we need to learn! You've got to come with us to the surface and tell us about your kind! All of Equestria will want to know about you! After all these years! Breaker, you're a huge discovery!"
Breaker's face filled with dismay. "Look, I'm really sorry," he said. "I am. But I've got to get going!" He began to swim away.
"Wait just a minute!" Rainbow Dash shot through the water and in front of Breaker, halting him. "You saved my life, and now you're just gonna take off? Just like that?" She folded her forelegs and glared at the sea pony.
Twilight and Applejack pulled themselves up through the water alongside Rainbow, further impeding the sea pony's escape. Behind him, the others had also risen up in the water, surrounding him.
Breaker glanced around himself, looking as though he was about to panic.
Rainbow Dash inched closer to the sea pony. "What are you hiding, Breaker?" she pressed.
Breaker rubbed the back of his head. He looked more worried than ever. "I... I..." Suddenly, the sea pony's eyes widened. He looked out to the depths, his ears twitching.
Rainbow Dash peered at Breaker. "What is it?"
Breaker turned back to the pegasus with a terrified expression. "Hide. Now," he whispered. Rainbow Dash tilted her head. "Go!" Breaker hissed through clenched teeth.
Taking the hint, Rainbow Dash shot back down to the sea floor with her friends, and the six ponies took shelter as best they could among the rocks and plants. Rainbow Dash peeked out from beneath the large flaps of seaweed she concealed herself beneath. In the open water, she could see Breaker, swimming back and forth, as if on the lookout for some sort of danger. Rainbow Dash wondered if another shark was about to attack.
Breaker nervously scanned his surroundings, hoping intensely he was mistaken about what he had sensed. For a moment, he felt the danger had passed. But then, two shadowy forms rose up before him.
Breaker gulped upon seeing the creatures who had appeared before him, then forced a smile. "Hey guys!" he said cheerfully.
Two burly sea pony stallions clad in body armor and helmets leered at Breaker. Still wearing his fake smile, Breaker continued to speak. "So how are things in law enforcement?" Neither of the armored stallions reacted. Breaker chuckled. "Hey, come on, you guys aren't still sore about that trespassing thing from a while back, are you?"
Breaker's smile weakened as he cleared his throat. "Well! It's been nice seeing you gentlecolts again!" he said. He began swimming backward, away from the two warriors. "Hope you have a nice day, and that we can do this again real–" Breaker suddenly bumped into an obstacle that had risen up behind him. The blue sea pony turned, his smile completely gone. "… soon..."
Floating before Breaker was an enormous sea pony stallion, even larger than the two brutes nearby. He was adorned in an ornate variation of the armor his companions wore, and a huge trident was strapped to his back. His thick forelegs were folded across his broad chest, and he glared at the young stallion.
Breaker's face suddenly lit up. "Riptide!" he exclaimed joyfully. "How's my favorite captain of the guard?"
Riptide snorted, sending a stream of tiny bubbles from his nostrils. "Oh, not well, lad," he grunted. "I'm afraid I'm not doing well at all."
Still trying to pass himself off as cheerful, Breaker replied to the beastly guard, "Gee, that's a shame. Well, you know what always lifts my spirits? A nice, relaxing nap by the thermal vents. Cures all! Now, if I were you, I would–"
"I've been hearing stories about you, Breaker," Riptide interrupted. "Stories about you going near the shoreline. Again." Riptide pushed himself toward Breaker as he spoke, and Breaker hastily paddled backward as he did so. "Stories about you getting much too close to land ponies, Breaker. Much too close to breaking Sacred Law." Riptide continued to advance on the terrified Breaker until he bumped into the two stoic thugs behind him, cornering him.
Riptide leaned forward. His voice had taken on an even harsher tone. "Stories that make the elders very unhappy, Breaker. And if the elders are unhappy, I am unhappy. And when I am unhappy..."
Breaker swallowed. "Hey, come on... It's me, remember?"
Riptide suddenly jerked his head forward, jamming his muzzle against Breaker's. He smiled menacingly, and snorted another stream of bubbles into Breaker's face. "Keep your snout clean, lad," he grunted. Finally, the hulking guard moved away from Breaker. He gestured to his troops with one of his forelegs, and swam off into the depths. The two enforcers followed, and soon the three were out of sight.
Breaker watched Riptide fade away into the deep ocean. He remained motionless, wanting to make certain the monstrous guards were far enough away before he dropped his act. Exhaling shakily, Breaker slowly sank down to the seabed. He sat back on his tail and stared at the ground, his face filled with horror. Putting his hooves to his temples, he slowly rocked back and forth. "Oh, no..." he muttered. "Oh, no, no, no..." He repeated himself several more times, before he saw the light blue hooves of a mare standing before him.
Breaker looked up to see Rainbow Dash and her friends gathered around him. They all looked at their sea pony friend, eyes wide with concern.
Fluttershy had barely emerged from her hiding place, still shaken by the sight of the armored warriors. "Wh-wh-who where those guys?" she whimpered.
"'Sacred Law?'" a perplexed Twilight asked.
"'Too close to land ponies?'" Applejack looked insulted.
Breaker lifted himself off the seabed and floated in place, wringing his forelegs. Rainbow Dash stepped closer to him. "Breaker?" He could not even look the pegasus in the eye. Reaching up with one of her forelegs, Rainbow Dash touched the sea pony on his chest. "Breaker, what's going on?"
Realizing he could keep his secret no longer, Breaker finally met Rainbow Dash's gaze. "I guess it's time I explained a few things, huh..."
It was nearly sundown, and the bustling metropolis of Canterlot was preparing for nightfall. The industrious goings-on of the day were winding down, and the sparkling nightlife of the big city was starting up. Well-to-do ponies trotted about, excited for the day's end and the fun that followed. But at one side-street cafe, spirits were low as five forlorn ponies convened at an outdoor table.
Twilight Sparkle and her friends glanced at each other with sullen faces, and the purple unicorn sighed heavily. "Complete isolation," she said flatly.
Applejack shook her head slowly. "The whole mess of 'em, never to come anywhere near other ponies. Ever," she said.
"Or suffer terrible punishment..." Rarity breathed.
A distraught Pinkie Pie suddenly blurted out, "It's just so sad! All those new ponies, and none of them are allowed to be friends with us!"
Twilight sighed again, and went to sip her drink. She was so lost in the dilemma, she nearly jumped out of her skin when the nasal voice of the waitress pony suddenly chimed in from her side.
"Freshen your carrot juice?" the yellow unicorn mare asked.
Pinkie Pie clapped her front hooves over her mouth, silencing herself.
"Uh, no thank you," Twilight replied. She waited until the server departed, then the five ponies leaned in closer to each other, trying to keep their voices low.
"What're we gonna do, y'all?" Applejack said. "The princess expects us to report to her in just a few days! We can't lie to her!"
Fluttershy's ears drooped. "But if we tell the truth..."
"Who knows what will happen to Breaker..." Twilight finished.
Pinkie Pie slumped in her seat and pouted. "As Granny Pie would say, 'bummer...'"
Twilight tapped her hoof on the table. "One thing's for sure, we've got to keep the discovery of the sea ponies to ourselves until we figure out how to handle all this," she said. "I don't know what we'll do yet, but at least Rainbow Dash volunteered to stay behind to see if she can learn a few things from Breaker. That way, maybe we can get a little more information that will help solve this."
Applejack nodded. "Mighty strange, though," she said thoughtfully. "Rainbow isn't usually into all that academic stuff. I wonder what's gotten into her."
"'Sky ponies?'" an amused Rainbow Dash said. "Is that really what you guys call us?"
"Well, yeah," Breaker replied matter-of-factly. "Isn't that what you are?"
Rainbow Dash flapped her wings and put her front hooves to her hips. "I beg your pardon, mister," she said in a tone of mock-indignation, "but I'm a pegasus."
"O-o-h, well please pardon me!" Breaker bowed. "Am I forgiven?"
Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes. "Well, I suppose," she giggled. "This time."
The two ponies laughed and continued to swim about the Equestrian sea. Rainbow Dash eyed the sea pony for a moment, trying to think of what to say next.
"Say," she finally said, "what is it with you and those guards exactly? I got the feeling there's some history there."
Breaker grinned. "Yeah, kind of," he said. "We've had a few run-ins. I don't follow the rules that much."
Rainbow Dash glanced at the image of a cresting wave along Breaker's side. "Oh, so your cutie mark, and your name, they must mean–"
"Breaker by name, breaker by nature," the sea pony explained. "It's just how I am." He puffed his chest out slightly, smiling broadly. "I've never been the fit in and play nice type, you know?" Rainbow Dash cocked an eyebrow. Breaker cleared his throat, his attempt at posturing dimmed.
"Well, don't get me wrong," Breaker continued, "I don't try to hurt anypony, it's just little things. Like the time I sneaked into the Coralseum to watch the games. Man, what a scene..." The sea pony chuckled to himself, as if remembering something fondly.
Rainbow Dash's eyes widened with increasing interest. "Games?"
"Sure, you know, like racing and stunt swimming," Breaker responded. "Actually, I'll tell you, I used to do try-outs myself, back in the day. But..."
Rainbow Dash looked perplexed. "But you stopped? How come?" Now it was Breaker's turn to raise an eyebrow. Rainbow Dash smirked and rolled her eyes. "Oh, right, Breaker by name," she said. "Gosh, that's too bad though."
Breaker just shrugged. "It's okay. Hey, it's still fun trying to get away from the guards all the time. Gotta be quick!" With that, Breaker burst through the water, circling Rainbow in a display of flips and twists. "Know what I mean?"
Rainbow Dash responded in kind. She bolted toward Breaker and swam around him rapidly, spinning the sea pony, then returned to form. "Yeah, you could say that," she quipped.
Breaker steadied himself and shook off the dizziness. "Whoa, Rainbow Dash, you're a real torpedo!" he remarked. He swam up to the pegasus eagerly. "Hey, where'd you learn to swim like that?"
Rainbow Dash beamed. "Who, me?" she said. "Swimming's not too different from flying, y'know. And you're talking to one of the best fliers in Equestria!"
Breaker looked intrigued. "Wow, that's kind of awesome," he said. He thought for a moment. "Hey... wanna show me what else you can do?"
Rainbow Dash blinked. "Well, wait a second, my friends are expecting me to learn a bunch of stuff from you. I can't spend all this time just playing around," she protested.
Breaker smirked. "Hey come on, show me what you got! You swim pretty good, for a mare!"
Rainbow Dash's eyes narrowed. "You're on!"
Soon, the two ponies took off through the water. They raced, tested each others' speed, and created stunts and tricks. Soon, they had made their way to the surface, giving Rainbow Dash a chance to show off her flying talents. She zoomed along the surface, while Breaker breached the water and started to combine his own unique tricks with Rainbow's aerial stunts. The two ponies laughed and cheered, their impromptu competition turning into a dance in the golden rays of the setting sun.
Time passed, and the sun disappeared over the horizon. Rainbow Dash and Breaker had settled down on a sandbar, relaxing after their athletic array. The two gazed out at the undersea landscape. The depths had grown dimmer now that the sun had set, and the moon sent silver shafts of light through the water.
Neither pony spoke for a long time, but soon Rainbow Dash broke the silence. "Hey," she said softly, "Can I ask you something?"
Breaker turned to the pegasus. "Sure, Rainbow. What is it?"
"Why did you do it?" Rainbow Dash asked. Breaker looked confused, and Rainbow continued. "When I was in danger... why did you risk so much for me? I mean, all that Sacred Law stuff, you said it was wrong for your kind to even come near us."
Breaker looked to the ground. "Well, you know, like I said before, I... break the rules. That's all," he said hesitantly.
Rainbow Dash shook her head. "It's more than that," she said.
Breaker prodded the sand for a moment, lost in thought. "Gosh, it's kind of hard to say," he said. "We were always told that the other ponies hated each other, which is why our ancestors cut themselves off so long ago. Ever since, we've kept to ourselves, and tried to avoid all the strife and distrust. Go with the flow, not get involved, that's how we've always been." Breaker rested his chin on his hoof. "But, me being me, I couldn't help being a little curious."
The sea pony sighed, many thoughts crossing his mind. "But I never, ever took it this far... I never meant to break the biggest law we have." The sea pony looked pensive for a moment. Then, his eyes brightened as he recalled the events from earlier in the day. "But, when I saw you and your friends together, all different ponies, all helping each other... Gosh, Rainbow, you tackled a shark! Where I come from, only the bravest ponies would do something like that! And all for the sake of another pony who didn't even have wings? Well, I thought that meant things were different. So I guess that's why I did what I did."
Rainbow furrowed her brow. "Has anypony ever broken the law before?"
Breaker shook his head.
Rainbow Dash leaned toward her sea pony friend. "Breaker," she said worriedly, "how bad is it if you get caught breaking that law?"
Breaker frowned. "Bad," he said. "Real bad."
Rainbow Dash's ears drooped. "If you had the chance, would you do things differently?"
Breaker looked deep into Rainbow Dash's eyes. "No. Never. Not in a hundred years," he said. Rainbow Dash smiled.
Breaker suddenly chuckled. "I mean, after a hundred years, yeah I'd probably just take off, but other than that!"
Rainbow Dash scoffed as she swatted Breaker on the shoulder, and the two ponies burst out laughing.
After a moment, Rainbow Dash spoke. "Y'know, things are different up above," she said. "Maybe they can be down here too?"
Breaker inched closer to Rainbow Dash. "I'd like things to be different."
Neither pony said anything. They held a comfortable silence as they smiled at each other.
"And some things never change," a bold voice cut through the water. Breaker gasped, his face contorted with shock and horror. Wheeling around, Breaker saw the source of of the voice. The mighty Riptide and his two cronies had reappeared.
The enormous warrior stallion glowered at the two horrified ponies before him. "Oh Breaker," he sighed, "What have you done, lad?" Breaker said nothing. He simply gawked at the huge warrior with terrified eyes.
Riptide floated closer to his prey. An exasperated look was spread across his face as he parodied an expression of sorrow. "It's only one law, lad. One simple law," he said. Breaker and Rainbow Dash slowly crept away from the advancing guard. Riptide's voice went flat as he spoke again. "I'm very, very disappointed, Breaker." Riptide's expression hardened. He shot Rainbow Dash a contemptuous sneer, then turned his angry eyes back to Breaker. "Take him."
At the command, the two armored guards quickly moved toward Breaker. Breaker turned to his pegasus friend. "Rainbow Dash, get out of here!" He pushed her away, urging her to make her escape.
"I'm not leaving without you!" Rainbow Dash exclaimed. The two ponies began to make a desperate attempt to evade the marauding guards, when the tough fibers of a net suddenly lashed out and wrapped around the base of Breaker's tail. He snapped back, and was quickly reeled in by his captors. Rainbow Dash turned to see her friend being restrained by the two gormless bruisers.
The guards held Breaker by his forelegs as he thrashed desperately. "Rainbow, run!" he shouted. In a swift move that defied his tremendous size, Riptide swung his huge trident and aimed the lethal points at his captive. A fierce red glow emanated from the weapon, and violent blast of crimson bolts surged into the struggling stallion. Breaker howled in pain as the crackling energy enveloped him, then he slumped in the grip of the guards.
"Breaker!" Rainbow Dash shrieked.
The two sea pony guards began to swim away into the deep, dragging the stunned Breaker along with them. In a rage, Rainbow Dash threw herself at one of the soldiers, battering him with her hooves. "No! Let him go!"
The sturdy handle of Riptide's trident struck Rainbow Dash, knocking her away. She slammed into the sea floor, yelping from the painful blow. Trembling, Rainbow slowly began to pick herself up, only to find herself being loomed over by Riptide.
"This matter does not concern you, sky pony!" the guard captain thundered. Rainbow Dash recoiled from the bellowing sea pony. "Now, leave this place," he snarled. "Never return." Riptide heaved his massive bulk away from the defeated pegasus, and he and his minions swam away, with Breaker in their custody.
Breaker looked up weakly as he was taken away, meeting Rainbow Dash's horrified eyes. The stricken pegasus could only watch helplessly as her friend was dragged into the depths.
To Be Continued...