Flight of the Navigator

by Blueshift

Chapter 1

Load Full Story Next Chapter

The stars in the night sky shone their distant light down upon the sleepy town of Ponyville. Wisps of smoke rose from several chimneys, and the crisp cool air was full of the chirpings of cicadas. Throughout the town, ponies were settling down for a long cosy evening in front of the fire.

All apart from three small fillies who sat upon a nearby hill, hunched over a rusting telescope.

“No no no! This isn’t right, it’s broken!” Scootaloo glared suspiciously through the telescope’s lens for a moment before peering at a tattered astrology book that lay open on the damp grass, one hoof angrily leafing through the tome until it stopped on a page that displayed an ornate diagram of a lion imposed over a cluster of stars. “I can’t see any of these constellations! There aren’t any lions or elephants or big dippers up there, just a load of stars!” She squinted her eyes at her friends. “This telescope of yours is broken, Sweetie Belle, we’ll never get our constellation cutie marks at this rate!”

Sweetie Belle scrunched her face up as she peered more carefully at the book for a moment. “I don’t think there’s literally supposed to be lions up there, Scootaloo…” she carefully replied. “It’s just that the stars look a bit like lions. Let me–”

Sweetie Belle reached for the telescope but Scootaloo stood firm, the little orange pegasus staring harder into the eyepiece as if the effort alone would make the stars burst into pretty pictures like in the books. “It would help if you kept still, Apple Bloom!”

The telescope shifted slightly, tied securely with a pink ribbon onto the rather disgruntled head of Apple Bloom, who sat slumped in the grass with a scowl on her face. “Ah get a go next! Sweetie Belle can be the tripod, seein’ as she forgot it!” she grumbled, forehooves folded.

Scootaloo was about to respond when she let out another annoyed sigh. “And now there’s a firefly on the lens! It’s getting in the way!” She leaned forwards to swipe her hooves at the end of the telescope, leaving the eyepiece unguarded for Sweetie Belle to peer in, against Apple Bloom’s helpless protestations.

“That’s not a firefly!” Sweetie Belle chirped excitedly as her eyes focussed on the tiny moving speck of flame that could be seen dimly through the telescope’s glass. “It’s a comet!”

“A comet?” Scootaloo skidded back into her previous place, knocking Sweetie Belle out of the way in order to take a good look at the heavenly object. “No way! I’ve discovered a comet! I’m gonna call it the ‘Scootaloo is Awesome!’”

“Hey, I discovered it!” Sweetie Belle snapped back, trying unsuccessfully to push Scootaloo away from the prized scientific equipment. “You thought it was a bug! I should get to name it!”

“It was mah turn to look!” came Apple Bloom’s voice from beneath the telescope, the apparatus wobbling on her head as she spoke, “so technically ah discovered it!”

“Well…” Scootaloo pondered, keeping a tight grip with one hoof on the telescope as if this gave her the final authority on the matter, staring again at the infinitesimally small speck that slowly made its way across the sky far above them. “…I guess we all discovered it, so we can call it–”

“THE CUTIE MARK CRUSADER COMET!” The three chorused out loud, their voices echoing across the silent night air. They clapped their hooves to their mouths as one, afraid of making a disturbance.

“Oh, oh!” Scootaloo squeaked out with a burst of realisation. “And it means I get to make a wish! I wish…” She squeezed her eyes tight in concentration. “I wish that I could learn to fly! Right away!” She slowly opened her eyes and flapped a wing experimentally. Nothing happened.

“You ain’t supposed to say wishes out loud!” Apple Bloom’s mouth hung open in shock. “Then they’ll never come true!”

“What?” Scootaloo clutched her hooves to her head in a sudden panic, feeling chilling waves of fear burst up through her chest. “Then I wish I could never fly,” she shouted out. “Never ever ever!” She then winked at her two friends. “Clever, eh? Now that won’t come true!”

Sweetie Belle looked up at the sky for a few moments and then back down to Scootaloo, creasing her brow. “You can’t wish on comets!” she finally said. “You wish on shooting stars. If you make a wish on a non-wish thing, it won’t come true.”

Scootaloo’s eyes glazed over slightly as she tried to process this new information. “But I… and then… do I…?” She shook her head in confusion, giving her little wings another experimental flap. “Which way do I need to wish?”

As her friend tried to work out important philosophical issues in the way that only a small filly could, Apple Bloom extracted the telescope from her ribbon, and balanced it on an unsuspecting Sweetie Belle’s head, peering into the night sky. “Hey!” she exclaimed with a hint of frustration. “It ain’t there! There ain’t no comet!”

The night sky was silent as the three friends stared up together momentarily. The stars twinkled in their patterns as they had done since the beginning of time. Of the comet, there was no sign.


News of the vanishing comet soon began to spread over Ponyville. What was at first laughed off as the overactive imaginations of a trio of silly little fillies was quickly confirmed as, the next night, several amateur astrologers pointed their own more advanced telescopes skyward to catch a glimpse of the unscheduled comet. Astonished as they were to discover that it was real despite not having been properly timetabled in the official Canterlot Stargazers’ Gazette, they were even more surprised to note that it completely vanished into thin air after a few seconds.

Puzzled letters to the Princess of the Moon regarding anomalies in the night sky were met with polite but dismissive responses. Princess Luna officially denied all knowledge of any comet. And yet there it was; for the brief moments that it slowly wound across the sky, at least.

The mysteries of the heavens and the fickle nature of princesses were well known though. After a few nights it just became another enigmatic feature of the night sky, the comet-that-was-not-a-comet blinking in and out of existence, tumbling its way through the ether on its distant and fiery journey. After a week, barely any pony with a telescope paid it special heed. If they had, they would have noticed that it was slowly getting brighter.

But they didn’t.

After all, the lives of ordinary ponies never intersected with that of the stars.


“Don’t do it! Get ba–”

The rest of the words were indecipherable, replaced by the sudden roaring of explosive decompression as the hatchway leading out of the small cabin burst open and the navigator leapt out, clutching her precious cargo to her chest.

Five hundred miles up in the sky, a pony fell into the world.

She tried to cry out but couldn’t; the shock of being torn from the safe, controlled environment of the ship and hurled out into the whirling maelstrom about her was far more violent than she had anticipated. The air around her was dizzying. Winds tore at her armour; she could feel the heat from the ship’s shell scorching her sides. Thankfully her full-body suit protected her from the worst excesses, as long as it stayed functional. As she spun, buffeted in the air, she risked a look back at the craft as it continued to shudder and shriek, cutting a path across the sky like a ball of fire until with a flash it was gone.

There was an explosion as the spherical craft vanished, a pounding wave of energy following in its wake that radiated outwards with the rumble of a miniature hurricane. The navigator was hit square in the chest as she continued to free-fall head over hooves, smashed away like a fly being lazily swatted on a hot summers day. The force of the ethereal blow was too much and with a cry of horror she found her grip on her cargo instantly gone as her hooves splayed out, sending the box she had been holding with all her might spinning into the blackness below.

Sharp rivulets of pain shot up her right forehoof as it broke from the shockwave; the display inside her helmet lit up with panicked warning messages. Her eyes strained to see where the box had fallen, her good forehoof stretched out towards it, but she found herself spinning as she fell, the ground below and the stars above whirling round in an impossibly fast kaleidoscope.

“No no no! Come on!” Gritting her teeth she swatted her broken hoof at her controls, trying desperately to activate her flight system. The neon strips which ran down the side of her black-suited limbs started to flicker and spark, slowly dimming. Inwardly she cursed – she hadn’t realised the explosion from the departing craft would have been so powerful; the thaumic battery which contained her suit’s magical energy must have been breached.

The ground beneath her was pitch black as she fell like a lead balloon, only her all-encompassing suit protecting her from the ravages of the wind. The glow from the suit continued to fade as the energy dissipated into the cool night sky like trailing fairy dust.

“Come on!” She could feel warm tears pricking at her cheeks as she mashed her broken hoof against the buttons without success. In a bitter moment of self-doubt she wondered whether this was divine punishment for her actions. The box was gone, snatched from her grasp to be dashed against the ground below, and soon she would join it. Perhaps it would be easier this way. She shook all such thoughts out of her head and gave one last jab at the broken control panel.

With a protesting hum her suit spluttered into life, strips of violet light encasing her black-clad hooves as the last of the suit’s rapidly diminishing energy was rerouted to the flight systems. Almost immediately the whistling of the wind around her quietened as her descent slowed and she could finally take in the scene below her.

Equestria was shrouded in darkness. In the distance she could see the bright lights of what could only be Canterlot; closer to her she saw scattered spots of light from a small town. With a great deal of pain, she pushed her hooves away from the lights below, the flight controls embedded in the tips of the suit’s legs directing her controlled fall to a more secluded spot. She couldn’t risk being discovered, not just yet.

As she was finally hoping that everything that could go wrong had gone wrong, her suit gave one last splutter and went completely black, the magical batteries finally spent. It was as if the floor had been whipped away from her, and with a sudden jerk she fell hard. The specks of light beneath her indicated that the ground was still a long way off; their gentle glow would be the last thing she ever saw before–

Any such musings were quickly cut short as the air was once more knocked from her lungs by the force of landing on something soft, almost like a stack of mattresses had been placed beneath her. She lay on her back for what seemed like an eternity, staring up at the stars as the painful throbbing from her battered and bruised body caught up with her. She had fallen so impossibly far and was still alive, but there was much to do.

Slowly and painfully, she twisted her head and gave a short, sharp laugh. She was surrounded by white fluff. Her good forehoof experimentally scraped up a chunk of it and she peered with an almost filly-like curiosity. It was cloud. She had fallen onto a cloud!

Hooves shaking from the pain, she slowly rose upright, clambering out of the indentation she had made in the cloud. Squinting into the darkness she could barely make out the shape of trees far below. Her suit was entirely out of magic, and without it she was unable to fly the distance to the ground. What would have been a minor task for a pegasus or skilled unicorn was almost insurmountable for her, trapped alone on a cloud high in the night sky.

Licking her lips, she made a decision and got straight to work, kicking off a chunk of the cloud. It rocked gently, before sinking a few inches. She knocked another lump of cloud away, causing her ride to bob down a bit further. Breaking down the cloud might take all night, but she knew she had to get down to the ground and find a hiding place before daybreak.

After all, she was the most dangerous pony in all Equestria.


The morning sunlight dappled down amongst the treetops as the quiet serenity of the woods was disrupted by a squeaking, grunting noise.

Sweetie Belle gasped out, pausing for a moment as she spat out the large tripod that had been gripped firmly in her mouth, the legs of the object scratched and caked in dirt from its undignified journey through the woods. Mopping her little forehead, Sweetie Belle narrowed her eyes in determination and latched onto the device again, yanking it further into the foliage leaving a deep furrow in the earth as she went.

She had finally discovered the telescope’s tripod being used as a hat stand by her big sister Rarity. After cleverly removing the hats and burying them in the garden to remove all evidence that they were ever there, she had decided to take the tripod to the clubhouse she and her friends shared in the woods. Despite not receiving any comet-related cutie mark, Scootaloo had been convinced that the three were on the right path with the stargazing project; perhaps once they had proper equipment to rest the telescope on rather than Apple Bloom’s head they would finally become accredited astronomers with the requisite cutie marks to match.

Stopping at the base of the large tree that supported the weight of the wooden clubhouse, Sweetie Belle stared up at the rickety wooden ladder, and then back at the large, ungainly telescope tripod. “Hrm,” she mumbled, rubbing her chin and inadvertently smearing mud over her face. The problem of getting the stand into the tree house hadn’t occurred to her before.

Squeezing her eyes shut, she scrunched up her face in concentration as she pointed her horn at the tripod. A tiny shimmer of light enveloped her horn, and the stand shifted slightly in the mud before slumping back down. Sweetie Belle sighed, and started to clamber up the wooden slats towards the tree house.

“Apple Bloom? Scootaloo? You there?” Sweetie Belle frowned as she reached the entrance of the clubhouse. The wooden door was cracked, hanging off only one hinge. She gently tapped it with a hoof and the door slowly creaked open to reveal muddy scuff-marks leading across the floor.

“Hello? I found the tripod but need help dragging it up. Girls?” She trotted into the little tree house with wide eyes, expecting any moment to see a muddy Scootaloo apologising for making a mess of the door.

She froze. From the corner of the room came a ragged hissing breathing noise. Mouth hanging open, and resisting the voice in her head that told her to run, she stepped forwards and slowly opened a curtain to let more light into the room.

Whatever it was, it was definitely not Scootaloo.

Sweetie Belle leaned outside the window and snapped off a nearby branch in her mouth, slowly approaching the creature in the corner. It looked like an adult pony but was covered from head to hoof in a strange thick black fabric that was inset with tubes and bits of metal cut into strange geometric shapes. Even the tail was completely covered – it was like an old suit of armour from the story books, but sleeker.

Plucking up her courage, she crept closer and gave it a gentle poke with the stick. The creature didn’t respond; it simply continued to breathe in growling fits, its side moving up and down as it lay against the wooden wall of the hut.

“Hello?” Sweetie half-whispered towards the creature as if unsure that she wanted it to actually hear her. “My name’s Sweetie Belle, are you a monster?”

She would have been convinced it was a pony recovering from one of Pinkie Pie’s fancy dress parties, if it wasn’t for the strange breathing noise. And of course, the creature’s head. It was wearing a large bulky black helmet the like of which she had never seen before. The sides were covered in pipes and a large grill from where the breathing noise was coming out. Instead of a face there was just a large, curved mirrored surface. Judging that the creature seemed to be asleep, Sweetie peered forwards at the mirror which reflected her face back in a strange distorted fish bowl effect. She shielded her eyes with a hoof and pressed her face up against the helmet, hoping to catch a glimpse through the mirror of whatever lay beneath – even if it was the face of a horrible monster.

Looking as hard as she could through the mirrored surface, Sweetie Belle could faintly make out a pair of closed eyelids.

They flashed open. Sweetie instantly launched across the room as the creature stirred into life. “Don’t eat me!” Sweetie squealed, throwing her hooves in front of her face. “I’m a master unicorn wizard, you’ll be sorry!” When the creature made no move to leap across the room and devour her, she slowly put her hooves down.

Its breath was still ragged. It was rocking back and forth as if to try to stand up but kept yelping as one of its front forehooves twitched when it touched the ground. Sweetie Belle peered out of the open doorway next to her. She could easily run away to freedom.

Instead she moved closer again.

“Are you okay?” She drew herself up to the hoof and examined it. It seemed bent at an odd angle, as if broken. “Is your hoof hurt or do all monsters hooves look like that?” she queried innocently, resisting the impulse to pick up her branch and give it a prod.

“Sweetie Belle.” The creature turned its visored face towards her with what sounded like a painful effort. It’s voice was unlike anything Sweetie had heard before, distorted and muffled, coming out of one of the grilles on its helmet like the scratchy interference from one of Rarity’s gramophone records. “You have to trust me Sweetie Belle. I’m not a monster; I’m a pony like you.”

“Oh.” Sweetie Belle’s mouth curled into a perfect ‘o’ shape. “Oh!” She ran towards the far corner of the room and returned momentarily with a soft cushion that she offered to the pony. It shouldn’t have mattered whether it was a monster or a pony, but she felt a bit safer knowing that it wasn’t about to eat her. The pony tried to protest but eventually relented and collapsed into the cushion.

Sweetie Belle stared at the front of the pony’s outfit. As it shifted its position, it revealed white words that were stencilled across it’s chest. “Is that your name?” she questioned, struggling to read the text. “Nav – navi–”

“Navigator.” The pony finished for her in its strange filtered voice. “Yes, yes, that’s my name. Navigator.” Navigator’s head turned directly towards Sweetie Belle, reflecting the little filly in its curved visor. “This is very important, Sweetie Belle. You can’t tell anyone I’m here, got it? Nopony at all. I need somewhere to hide and get better.”

Sweetie Belle clapped a scandalised hoof to her mouth. “I can’t tell lies!” she squeaked out. “And you need a doctor!”

“Trust me. You don’t need to tell lies, just… not tell the truth.” The black-clad pony gave a grunt as it swiped a hoof at the back of its suit without much obvious success. “There’s a small cylinder on the back of my suit. Can you unclip it for me?”

Nervously Sweetie Belle placed a hoof on the pony’s side and hoisted herself up. The back of the suit was made of the same strange material – fabric that felt like rubber, metal that felt warm to the touch. She absentmindedly thought that Rarity would love to have a look at it, but then remembered what Navigator had asked her. The only obvious cylinder seemed to be held in place by a large clip. She gripped her mouth around it, and with a hard yank it came free.

“What is it?” Sweetie Belle put the cylinder on the ground in front of her. It was made of the same black metal that covered the pony, with a silver cap on each end. She gave it an experimental prod. Nothing happened.

“It’s a thaumic battery. It stores the magic that powers the suit I wear, but it’s run out.” Navigator pushed the battery towards Sweetie Belle. “If it can be recharged then I can use it to make myself better.”

Sweetie Belle looked at the battery suspiciously, and then up at the pony. “But you’re not a unicorn!” she squeaked. There was no room for any horn to be hidden under the pony’s helmet. “How can you use magic?”

“I can’t. The suit does. It was damaged when I fell, but I think enough of it will still work.”

Sweetie slowly processed this information. “Did you fall out of a tree?” she spluttered. “Climbing trees is dangerous if you’re not a pegasus or don’t have a rope. My sister Rarity says tha–”

“No, I didn’t fall out of a tree.” Navigator’s head slowly turned towards the window, through which the morning sun was now streaming. “I fell from a far greater height, Sweetie Belle. I come from a place far, far away, and fell out of a ball of fire in the sky.”

“The comet!” Sweetie almost collapsed in giddy joy, dashing over to pick up the telescope that was lying discarded in the corner of the room. “We discovered the comet, are you from the comet?” She started to run around in circled. “Are you a star pony? I didn’t know ponies lived in the stars! What’s it like, is it hot? I can’t wait till I tell Apple Bloom and Scootaloo–”

“No!” Navigator tried to struggle upright but collapsed again with a groan. The pony’s helmeted face turned towards Sweetie Belle and she could swear that there was a slight tremor of panic in its voice. “You can’t tell anypony, Sweetie Belle. It’s too dangerous, I can’t risk being discovered. You’re a good pony, Sweetie Belle, you have to promise to hide me while I get better.”

Sweetie Belle twitched. She knew that lying and secrets were bad, but she felt special that out of every single pony in all of Equestria, the star pony had come to her for help. It seemed nice enough and hadn’t eaten her, which was a good start. She had always been told to help anypony who asked nicely. “I promise!” she finally blurted out. And then slightly quieter, she whispered. “C-can I see what a star pony looks like, under your helmet?”

Navigator’s head slowly shook. “No, Sweetie Belle, you can’t. You have to trust me.”

Sweetie Belle swallowed hard. Perhaps she had made a mistake. Perhaps under the helmet there was the face of a horrible monster. Who knew what star ponies looked like?

“Now,” Navigator’s voice was slow and steady as it grated out from beneath its helmet. “When I fell, I had something. A box. I dropped the box. It’s very important I get it back, Sweetie Belle, and until I can walk again, you need to search for it for me.”

“Okay,” Sweetie Belle found herself saying. “What’s in the box?”

Navigator paused for a moment.


Next Chapter: Chapter 2 Estimated time remaining: 20 Minutes
Return to Story Description


Login with