Deep Blue

by Meluch


Chapter One - The Awakening

The return to consciousness was not immediate for Spitfire. Her head throbbed horribly and every single one of her senses felt sluggish. A deep, uncomfortable thrumming sat just behind her eyes, making it hard for her to think.

As her mind struggled in the place between dreams and reality, a warm scent drifted through to her awareness, unfamiliar, salty and alive in a way that was alien to her. The air of her home in cloudsdale carried little more than cold, and she had long ago grown used to it. This was different. It was the push that she needed to claw her back to wakefulness.

Ever so slowly, she cracked an eye open. It too a long moment for the blurriness of sleep to fade away, and the sight that greeted Spitfire shocked her down to her core.

The ocean.

It stretched out before her endlessly in deep waves of blue and green. A few clouds drifted over the water, and the sun shone down from high in the sky, uncomfortable in its heat. It had to be some type of hallucination. She had finally crashed so badly that she had lost her mind. Gone around the bend. Crazy!

"What the..." Spitfire trailed, rubbing at her eyes with hooves that felt like they had been weighted down with lead. It certainly looked real enough, but there was no way that it possibly could be.

It was more water than Spitfire had ever seen in her entire life. The reservoirs of Cloudsdale were nothing compared to the sight before her. Her mind struggled to comprehend what was happening. The last thing she remembered was waiting for the go order on the cloud with Soarin' and Fleetfoot. Next there was gunshots, fire, chaos, and then... nothing. Nothing to explain how she found herself looking out over the ocean after waking from unconsciousness.

Her day had started out as normal as it possibly could. She woke up a full minute before her alarm clock could go off and ate a simple breakfast of oats. Performing her daily exercises, she had enjoyed the burn of her wing muscles. A weak flyer was a dead flyer after all. With her morning routine over, she had made the short flight to the Academy where the rest of her plans for the day had been thrown for a loop with the arrival of the Royal Guard requesting back up. A changeling hideout had been discovered in Manehatten, and they wanted go in with aerial support.

The Wonderbolts were more than up for the task, complementing the Royal Guard's already substantial pegasus force. When dealing with changelings, they had found that overkill was the name of the game. The disaster of the Royal Wedding had proven that. Having the well-trained Wonderbolts as part of their muscle could only make the situation better.

Spitfire shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts. Somewhere behind her the deep booming of drums and guitars reached her ears, muffled, but each beat made her wince as her headache flared. An answer to how she had found herself floating on an ocean did not come to her and the seeds of panic began to take root in her heart. She took a deep breath before glancing down.

"Stop panicking, Spitfire. Figure out what's happening, get back home, then break down and drink an entire bottle of cider," she said to herself, taking a deep breath.

She found that she was laying on stained wooden boards, a deep brown in color, slotted together perfectly. Glancing over her shoulder answered the largest question that she had, but it also only served to bring up a mass of more that begged her to find their explanation.

"Soarin'? Is this some kind of prank?" Standing, Spitfire tried her best to take the sight before her in. She was on a yacht, and a fairly sizable one from the looks of it, looking to be some sixty feet across or so. She had never stepped hoof on one before, but she had performed above hundreds of them in dock at Horseshoe Bay during a Grand Prix.

Soarin' didn't appear with that silly grin of his, and Spitfire was becoming more and more sure by the moment that this wasn't some sort of prank. This was too far beyond the pie loving stallion. Something else was happening, and it was beyond anything that she had any experience with.

She stretched, trying to work out the kinks in her spine, but the thick straps of a battle harness stopped her. Glancing under her wings, the twin barrels of the standard Wonderbolt issue WB83 rode high on her barrel. From the weight, she had spent almost all of her ammunition. Reaching back, she undid the straps with her mouth, letting the harness drop to the ground with a heavy thunk.

Moving forward, Spitfire stepped up the short flight of stairs to the main deck of the ship, and she couldn't help but notice how out of place she was. Everything from the floorboards to the styling and paint just screamed wealth. She made decent wages as a Captain in the Wonderbolts, but nowhere near as much as other ponies imagined. She had enough bits to rent a decent apartment near the Academy.

She stopped as she realized her hoofs were squelching at each step. Looking down, she found that her hooves were covered in blood. She couldn't remember what had happened, but she had obviously seen battle. However she got here, whomever had brought her, she wanted to give them no further cause to be angered at her by tracking blood across their ship.

Stepping back down the stairs to the dive platform, Spitfire washed her hooves in the ocean, letting the red wash away.

Spitfire took a longer look at the main deck of the ship as she straightened up. Lining the edges of the ship were comfortable but hardy looking sofas, with a long table stretching back nearly all the way to the stairs. Half full drinks in sweating glasses were scattered about, quite a few of them having been knocked over and their contents spilling out, dripping down to the ground. The music was louder here, still muffled, but it hit her like a physical force.

"Hello?" Spitfire called out, hoping for a response. She cursed under her breath as she realized that whoever owned the ship or were present onboard probably didn't speak Cloudsdalian. She called out again, this time in standard Equestrian. "Hello? Is anybody there?"

Walking past the table, she had to step around quite a few chairs that were scattered away from the table, stepping over a broken glass. She passed under the deck above her into the shade.

Large glass windows lined the entrance into the ship, with two glass doors sitting in the middle. Reaching out, she took hold of the silver door handle, turned it and pulled it open, a rush of cool air spilling out over her. The music did as well. The heavy beat of a drum and the harsh whine of a guitar assaulted her ears, angry and primal. She growled as her headache flared with a vengeance in her head, a troop of miners cheerily going to work on her frontal lobe.

Stepping into the ship, she let the door close behind her. The interior of the ship complimented the outside perfectly, painted and decorated in various shades of brown, gold, and silver. Two large leather couches were set lengthwise in the room, facing away from each other, and a bar was set up against the wall. Its counter was some type of dark polished wood with inlaid designs of silver.

"Hello?" Spitfire took a tentative step into the room, marveling at how soft the carpet was underneath her hooves, plush and smooth. Spitfire could barely hear herself over the music, and she doubted that anyone else would either, but she tried anyway. "Hello? Is anybody there?"

Looking around the room, she saw what looked like a control panel behind the bar. She trotted to it, covering her ears as she sat back on her haunches and investigated the panel. It was a touch screen and everything was written in griffionian, which she had never bothered to learn during the lessons in school.

Spitfire figured that it was probably a safe bet that the button with the music symbol on it controlled the sound. Pressing it, she gave a triumphant cry when a volume slider appeared. She immediately dragged it down to zero and slumped against the wall as the room went silent. Relief.

She stayed that way for several minutes, her eyes shut as she tried to will her headache out of existence.

It didn't work and she opened her eyes. Spitfire turned back to the room, seeing that it was in the same state as the outside. It just looked like whoever was there had simply dropped everything and disappeared.

Walking back out from behind the bar, Spitfire stopped at the largest of the couches in the room which was set to face out at the large windows in the back. A book was dropped face-down on its cushions, pages bent up against themselves. Reaching down, she picked it up off of the couch, trying her best to smooth out the pages. She couldn't read a single word printed in the book, but it looked to her as if it was all poetry, broken into stanzas.

Setting the book down on the couch, she turned back towards the hall that led to the rest of the ship. "Hello? Is anybody there?"

There was no reply. The silence that greeted her seemed oppressive, and for just a moment Spitfire thought that the music was preferable to the gloomy quiet. It felt like there were a hundred eyes boring into her, but turning around she found that she was still. Despite that, she could feel the fur on the back of her neck rise up as a shiver passed down her spine, her wings ruffling uncomfortably.

Spitfire stepped further into the ship and into the hall. After several large cabinets flush with the walls, the hall opened up to reveal large spiraling staircase. Peering over the railing, Spitfire saw that it rose the height of the ship.

"Hello?" Spitfire called, using volume gained from training countless cadets. "Is anybody there?"

Stepping onto the staircase, Spitfire took a moment to look up through the clear stairs at the floors above her. She decided that it would probably be the best idea to work her way up from the bottom, systematically looking for any sign of where everyone went. It was standard procedure, and knowing what she had to do was comforting.

At the bottom of the stairs, Spitfire jumped a little in surprise when she found herself face to face with a floor to ceiling painting of a griffin staring heroically into the distance, his wings wrapping around two nubile mares. Her heart racing, she took deep breaths as adrenaline coursed through her, her heart jittering and her limbs shaking.

"Come on, Spits." Spitfire shook her head. If any of her squad had seen her jump at that, she would never hear the end of it. "Get ahold of yourself."

The painting was over the top, a small fixture at the top lighting it evenly. The griffin was done in aggressive blacks and whites, over a deep flat red background. The two mares were dark shades of grey. It was tacky beyond all belief.

Shaking her head, Spitfire turned away from the painting. A hallway stretched out through the ship, the stairway acting as a halfway point. From what she could see, the hall was lined with quite a few doors, rooms she guessed. "Hello? Is anybody there?"

The hall was silent. None of the doors opened.

Bracing herself against the slight rocking of the ship, Spitfire stepped down the hall leading towards the back of the ship.

Uneasily, she stopped at the first door on the right, simply labeled '4'. Spitfire raised her hoof and knocked, waiting a moment for any response. None was forthcoming.

Reaching out, she grabbed the door handle, pausing as a wave of anxiety passed through her. Pushing through it, she opened the door, peeking around to see inside.

The room was elegantly decorated, just a step away from being able to be described as large. A plush, inviting looking bed sat proudly beneath a porthole which offered an astonishing view of the ocean beyond. The bed itself was unmade, its navy blue sheets strewn carelessly across the bed.

Stepping back out into the hallway, Spitfire turned to the door on the opposite side of the hall. She knocked again but didn't wait for a response before opening it. The room was the same as before, the sheets unmade with a slight mess on the floor. There was no sign of life.

She rushed to the next door, not even bothering to knock as she threw the door open. The panic that had been building in her chest was starting to overflow, and as Spitfire was met by another empty room, the dams broke.

Checking the rest of the rooms proved no difference and the cleaning cart left sitting in the middle of the hall was further proof that something abnormal was going on.

"Please?" Spitfire shouted desperately, her panic tinged voice cracking as her vocal chords strained. "Is anybody there?"

Running back to the staircase, Spitfire nearly tripped over herself in her haste to search the other decks. Climbing the stairs, she skipped stopping at the main deck, climbing to next. A quick but thorough exploration proved that it too was as empty as the others. Signs of life were present everywhere, but that is all they were. Signs. There was nopony around.

The top deck of the ship proved to be the bridge. As Spitfire climbed the stairs, she looked over the monitors and consoles that were smartly arrayed before the windows that overlooked the bow of the ship and the ocean beyond.

Stepping onto the bridge, Spitfire was overwhelmed as she looked over the machines before her. Quite a few of the monitors showed what looked to be error screens, while others seemed to be working just as they were supposed to. Nothing seemed to be broken or malfunctioning. No obvious reason to abandon ship in a calm sea.

Puzzled, Spitfire stopped behind the middle chair in front of the consoles. Her gaze landed on a radio hanging from the ceiling and she sighed in relief. Grabbing the microphone from its hook, she checked to make sure the radio was on. Turning the volume up, she pressed the push to talk button. "Hello? Is anybody there? This is Captain Spitfire with the Wonderbolts. I'm stranded on a ship and I can't find anyone. I don't know how I got here."

Letting the button go, Spitfire waited for any response. Static blared from the microphones speaker, but no voices spoke.

"Please," Spitfire said pressing the button again. "My name is Spitfire and I just woke up on this ship. I need help."

Static was the only response.

Slamming the microphone back onto its hook in disgust, Spitfire ran a hoof over her mane, trying her best to resist the urge to punch something. There was no way she would be able to afford to replace any of the machines with her salary.

She let out a deep shuddering breath as panic threatened to send her to the floor. A large part of her just wanted to curl up and pretend that all of this was just a dream. Taking a deep breath, Spitfire closed her eyes. Now wasn't the time to panic. She could do that later. She needed to try and figure out how she had gotten on the ship and where everyone said vessel had disappeared to. She took another deep breath, then exhaled, letting all of her worries go.

Opening her eyes, Spitfire let a moment of calm wash over her. Opening her eyes again, she looked out the windows and froze at what she saw.

A body was sprawled out on the bow of the ship.

Chapter Two - Lightning Strike

Slamming into the railing of the staircase, Spitfire ignored the pain as she glided down the staircase. She exploded onto the main deck, her hooves making contact with the deck as she started galloping at the side door that led to the walkway outside.

Pushing the door open, she was met with the scent of the salty ocean breeze, cool against her face. Spitfire ignored it though as she rushed out to the bow of the ship.

"Hey! You!" Stumbling against the unfamiliar rocking of the ship, Spitfire almost collapsed in her rush to get to the body, but a careful flap of her wings kept her upright. Relief poured through her body as she laid her eyes on the body, a young mare. Even as she ran towards her, the fact that the body was female was obvious, as was the gentle rise and fall of her barrel. She was still alive.

"Hey!" She dropped down next to her, worried at the mare's lack of reaction to her calls. "Are you okay?"

There was no answer.

Spitfire pushed out the stress from her mind, instead trying to remember the first aid classes she had gone through so long ago.

“Hey, you!” She called again.

Sliding to a stop, she dropped to her haunches beside the figure. Reaching out, she rolled the mare over to find that she was a young looking unicorn with a light blue coat and a golden mane. She fell back in shock as the mare let out a gasping breath, shooting up. At the sight of Spitfire, her eyes widened, revealing dark green irises.

They stared at each other, Spitfire afraid, and the unicorn confused and tired. She opened her mouth, never taking her eyes off of Spitfire.

“What…” She stammered. “Who are… Where am I?”

“A ship…” Spitfire studied her a moment longer. “My name is Spitfire. Who are you?”

“Lightning Strike…” the unicorn murmured, pushing herself into a sitting position.

Lightning Strike held out her hoof to Spitfire.

Spitfire stared at it for a moment before taking it and giving it a firm shake. “It’s nice to meet you, Lightning Strike.”

“You too.” Lightning looked just as confused as Spitfire felt.

Lightning Strike stood, and Spitfire held out a hoof to help her up, but she didn't take it. Spitfire just held it there for a moment before awkwardly lowering it back to the ground.

Ignoring the Pegasus, Lightning Strike checked herself over, patting down her saddle-bags, reassuring herself that everything was where it was supposed to be. With a relieved sigh, she pulled out a journal and several folders.

Looking past Spitfire and at the Yacht beyond her, her eyes widened in surprise. “You said... we're the only ones on this ship?”

“Everypony left in a hurry.” Spitfire nodded, frowning. “Everything is right where they left it.”

“Where you part of the…” Lightning asked, unsure if that was even the right question.

Spitfire struggled for a moment to understand what she was asking. Realization quickly dawned on her and she shook her head. "No. I wasn't part of the crew, or a passenger."

"Then..." Lighting Strike eyed her suspiciously. "How did you get here?"

"Same way as you, I would imagine." Spitfire shrugged. "I have absolutely no idea how either of us came to be here."

Lightning Strike studied her for a moment longer before looking out over the sea, then up at the sun. She squinted against the glare, holding a hoof up to shield her eyes. She looked back down at Spitfire. "Show me."

"What?" Spitfire asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Show me," Lighting said, gesturing at the ship.

"Ah." Giving a nod of understanding, Spitfire stood. "Of course."

She led Lightning Strike off the bow of the ship and inside. Lightning paused just inside the doorway, taking in the opulence of the ship with wide eyes before she trotted after Spitfire as she led her down the staircase and into the hallway of the passenger deck.

"They're all empty." Spitfire gestures at all of the doors. "Clothes are right where everyone left them."

Lightning Strike stepped to the nearest door, pushing it open with her hoof and peeking her head inside. The room was indeed empty, and she looked back at Spitfire. "What's going on here?"

"I don't know, the entire ship is like this." Sitting on her haunches, Spitfire shrugged.

Lightning Strike checked the next room. It was the same thing, just like the room after that, and the one after that. She leaned back against the wall, closing her eyes as she tried to stave off the coming headache. "Alright... Have you tried using the radio?"

"Yeah." Spitfire nodded. "No one answered."

"Did you happen to see the GPS?"

"No, I didn't. I saw you before I could explore anymore." Spitfire shook her head.

"Let's see where we are, then." Lightning Strike gestured at the staircase.

Spitfire led Lightning Strike up to the bridge of the ship, stepping aside to let the unicorn take a look around. She slowly walked around, taking a look at every single one of the monitors. half of them were simply showing static, and the other half she couldn't make heads or tails of.

Frowning, she looked back at Spitfire. "Where's the radio?"

"It's there." Spitfire pointed at it, flaring her wings uncomfortably.

Walking over to it, Lightning lifted it off its cradle with her magic, clicking the talk button. "Hello? Is anyone out there?"

Static was the only response.

"I already tried that," Spitfire said, shaking her head. "There wasn't any reply."

"Alright..." Lightning Strike dropped the radio and looked over at the monitors. "The radio isn't working."

"And..." She steps over to look at the monitors. "The GPS is offline. Wonderful."

Sitting down in one of the leather chairs, Lightning Strike started typing on the keyboard. Spitfire stepped forward and watched over her shoulder, watching as she laboriously worked her way through the unfamiliar system.

Lightning gave a small cry of success as she managed to pull up the last known location. Spinning in her chair to look at Spitfire, she had a triumphant smile on her face. "Okay, so we have a vague idea of where we are. The engines aren't running, so we've probably been drifting for awhile, but we shouldn't be too off course. Our best bet is to try and get to Hawaii."

Spitfire listened to her, but she was completely unfamiliar with technology, much less the ocean. Being a native of Cloudsdale did not allow much opportunity to use computers. They tended to be too heavy for the cloud homes of the city.

"We'll have to do this manually. Nothing else seems to be working." Lightning Strike jumped out of her chair, walking up to a map of the ship hanging on the back wall.

"Do you... do you know how to do that?" Spitfire asked.

"Do you?" Lightning Strike looked hopefully at the pegasus.

Regretfully, Spitfire shook her head.

"Well then, we're both going to get a crash course on sailing."

"I've never even been on a rowboat before."

"Really?" Lightning Strike looked at her incredulously.

"No." Spitfire stretched out her wings. "Pegasus. Water isn't really our thing."

"Wonderful." Lightning Strike scoffed as she turned back to the monitors, looking out through the windows at the rolling ocean beyond. "We better get started then!"

They both stood there awkwardly for a few moments.

Cocking her head, Spitfire grinned. "You don't have any clue what you are doing, do you?"

"Not at all." Lightning giggled, ducking her head.

They both looked around the bridge, looking for what, they weren't quite sure.

"Do you see a start button or something?" Lightning asked.

"No." Spitfire shook her head. "Do you?"

"Well... we better get started." Trotting up to the consoles, she started looking them over, searching for any sign of how to start the ship. Spitfire moved to help her.

Looking through the back of the bridge, Spitfire found several large cabinets inset into the wall. Opening them, she found they they were lined with books. Pulling one out, she held it up for Lightning Strike to see.

"Will these help?" Spitfire asked.

Turning, Lightning Strike looked at the book, grinning when she saw its title: Operations Guide, The Polaris. "Yes! Yes they should."

She took it from Spitfire, opening to page one, grimacing when she saw the size of the font. She looked back up at Spitfire. "This could take awhile."

"Can you read griffin?"She asked, looking at Spitfire for a moment, her eyes narrowing.

"I've met a few, but no. I never paid any attention in those classes." Spitfire shook her head.

"Right... that would have been just too easy." Glaring at the book, an idea occurred to her. "Can you cook?"

"Yeah, I can do that." The first year of bootcamp with the Wonderbolts had left her with a deep need to never be forced to eat such filth again. She had immediately taken cooking classes the moment she had free time to herself again.

"We're going to need something to eat. Would you be alright making something for-" She glanced at the ships clock. "-lunch."

"It won't be a problem." Spitfire stepped back out of the bridge and walked down the staircase behind.

The kitchen turned out to be on the main deck of the ship. When Spitfire stepped inside, she let out a low whistle at what she saw. Stainless steel everywhere. Top of the line.  It looked like the kitchen of a five star restaurant, and for all intents and purposes, she had. Whoever owned the ship obviously liked to eat well.

Stepping through the kitchen, she trotted to the two walk in refrigerators at the back. Cracking open what appeared to be the largest of the two, she peered inside. The fridge was filled to near overflowing with food.

Stepping inside, she wedged the door open. She started searching through the racks to find something to make for lunch.

It took a little less than an hour to make a simple meal of a Zebrican peanut soup. She set two bowls on a tray which she expertly placed on her back, balancing it with her wings.

Spitfire walked carefully back up the staircase and onto the bridge, careful not to spill anything. Looking around, she didn't find any sign of Lightning Strike.

With a sigh, Spitfire head back down the staircase and all the way down to the passenger section. Stepping into the hallway, she looked up and down it but she didn't see any immediate sign of the unicorn.

"Lightning Strike, are you there?" Spitfire called.

There wasn't any reply.

With a sigh, Spitfire walked back to the staircase. She looked up it, then down. Climbing back onto the steps, she started walking down, all the way to the lowest deck of the ship.

"Lightning Strike?" Spitfire called.

A moment of silence passed, followed by a muffled curse.

"Buck!" Lightning Strike poked her head out from behind a door. "In here!"

Trotting over, Spitfire stepped into the engine room to find Lightning Strike, or at least her legs, poking out from underneath a bunch of machinery. She poked her head out, annoyance plain on her face, though it was obviously at the machinery, not Spitfire.

"Lunch." She turned so Lightning could see the trays.

"I could use a break," Lightning said gratefully, standing up. She leaned back against the machine she was working on, gratefully taking one of the bowls off of Spitfire's tray with her magic. Pulling the cover off and setting it aside, she took in the wonderful aroma coming from the meal. "It smells wonderful. Is that peanuts?"

"Yeah." Spitfire eased the tray off her back and onto a table opposite the engines. "It's my favorite, a peanut soup."

Lightning Strike took a bite, nodding her head in approval. "It's good."

"Thank you." Taking a bite of her own, Spitfire looked over the engine. "Have you figured out how to turn it on?"

"Sort of." Lightning Strike looked back at the machine, glaring at it. She gestured over at an array of books propped open across from her. "Trying to figure out these instructions is a lot harder than it should be. They weren't written for beginners."

"The book makes sense," Lightning said, patting the engine. "But it's just taking longer than I thought it would."

"I have faith in you."

"Misguided though it may be, thank you." Lightning Strike laughed. She finished eating, and Spitfire held out a hoof for the tray. She handed it to her before laying back down and scooting under the engine. "Thanks."

"It wasn't a problem."

"Back to work..." With a sigh, Lightning tried to figure out the engine.

Taking both of the bowls, Spitfire stepped out of the engine room. She walked back up the staircases, pausing when she saw the living room of the ship. Stepping forward, she walked to the messy tables and set down her tray. She started picking up the dirty glasses up from the table, setting them on the tray.

It didn't take long to fill the entire thing, and she carefully slid it onto her back, walking back to the staircase.

Spitfire stepped into the kitchen. Setting the tray into the sink, she started to clean, setting everything on the counter to dry. She froze when a slight judder passed through the ship. Smiling, she set everything down, trotting out of the kitchen.

Stepping out into the main living room, Spitfire watched as Lightning Strike danced triumphantly up the staircase. She shot the pegasus a big smile and jumped forward to wrap her in a thankful hug.

"I did it!" She crowed.

"That's good news," Spitfire murmured, extracting herself from Lightning's grasp.

"Twelve hours from now, we'll be on a beach in the Silver Islands," Lightning said, trotting to the staircase.

"That sounds wonderful." Spitfire nodded, watching her go.

Lightning Strike trotted up the staircase. Spitfire watched her go until she had disappeared up the next floor before stepping back into the kitchen. The sooner that she could get back to Cloudsdale, the better. Sitting still wasn't doing her any good. If it was just her, she'd fly back to land herself, but as a Wonderbolt she had to keep a watch over civilians. It was her duty to protect them.

Damn her sense of honor.

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