Chapter 7: Trouble Below Deck
It was a cause for celebration on the Golden Alicorn that evening, not only because the Cutie Mark Crusaders finally got their Cutie marks, but also because news from the ship’s navigator indicated that they were only one week away from their destination give or take a day or two. Hearing this, the whole crew decided to throw a small party that night which easily turned into a huge bash thanks to Pinkie Pie. In a matter of hours every pony and Diamond Dog was dancing to jolly music and downing huge quantities of Cider and Rum, they knew that they would get a massive hangover the following morning but they didn't care, they were just so happy that the real fun will soon be beginning. Even Blackhorn seemed to be enjoying himself, however he preferred to sit by himself in his quarters while the rest of the crew partied on deck. As the celebrations continued, Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy sat right by the door to the gun deck watching Spike attempt to do the tango with Rarity with comedic results, however Pinkie Pie also noticed that Fluttershy seemed to be nervous about something.
"What's the matter Shaky?" Pinkie Pie giggled. "It's a party, we should be having fun."
"I know," Fluttershy said quietly "I just don't feel like celebrating at the moment because…well I just have a bad feeling about some of the crewmembers here, that's all."
"What are you talking about? These pirates are a hoot." Pinkie Pie laughed. "Sure a couple are Diamond Dogs but even they are super-duper fun. You should have seen T-Cog when he tried to use his hook to ski off the back of the ship, he ended up falling off at the first try and had to fly over to catch up with us."
"Granted half of these pirates do seem to be quite nice," Fluttershy said. "But there are a few of them I just don't feel right about."
"Hey who's the one with the Pinkie-sense here?" Pinkie Pie asked. "If any one of these pirates was going to do something to us I would know about it in a second."
"Well I still feel a little strange about some members of this crew, I… I feel like their always watching us, just waiting to pounce."
"Oh that's just a figment of your imagination."
But before Fluttershy could come up with an answer for that, she was met with a terrifying surprise. Before she could even open her mouth both she and Pinkie Pie were suddenly snuck up from behind, gagged and put into dirty brown sacks by three unseen figures and rushed into the gun deck before anyone saw them.#
"THIS is a figment of my imagination!?!" Fluttershy snapped with teary eyes.
As it turns out, three of the crewmembers managed to sneak away from the festivities on deck and rush Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie below deck into what looked like an unused torture chamber but in reality it was T-Cog's workshop where he would make most of the gadgets in his hook. While Fluttershy laid helplessly tied to a filthy wooden table, Pinkie Pie was bound to what looked like a rusty old rack. Their captors were three skinny looking earth ponies all murky blue in colour and baring the same cutie mark of a jagged knife, judging by their appearance it was obvious that they were in fact triplets, two of which were stallions and one of them a mare which happened to be the leader of the three. Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy had already met these three before but only on rare occasions when they gave them their food. Normally these three were crewmembers who worked as deckhands with Rainbow Dash and Applejack, however now they were being as threatening as possible to their captives. As the leader of the Triplets edged her way towards Pinkie Pie on the rack, she gazed at her with her blood-red eyes, she then licked her lips in delight as she begin to imagine what she was about to do.
"Okay ladies, I suppose you are wondering why you have been brought down here," she said in a cold slithery voice. "Well as it turns out you two have information that me and my brothers require. So either you tell us where the dear old Captain has hidden the Elements of Harmony…. OR WE'LL TEAR YOU LIMB FROM LIMB!!!"
But Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy couldn't answer her even if they wanted too, for they didn't know where Jack Silver has kept the Elements of Harmony either, not once while they were on board did he even bother to share that information with them. Clearly these three triplets were wrong in their knowledge of the matter. However both Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy knew that if they told them the truth, there was no way they would simply let them go. So naturally Pinkie Pie decided to play along.
"Never!" she pronounced. "Fluttershy and I will never tell!"
"Whoa, whoa wait!" Fluttershy shrieked in a panicked tone. "Maybe we can compromise…m…maybe you'd like a hug instead?"
"HA! In your dreams!" one of the stallions spat.
"Do it Razor!" screamed the mare. "Do it!"
Acting upon his sister's word the other stallion laughed manically and began to turn the crank on the rack, as the machine stretched Pinkie Pie's legs like rubber, she found herself getting longer and longer with every turn, but to everyone's surprise, she didn't seem to be in pain in fact she seemed to be enjoying the whole experience.
"Wow!" she giggled. "Look at this! I'm taller! Now I don't have to use my stilts anymore!"
As they all listened to Pinkie Pie's cheerful laughter in shock, the leader of the triplets suddenly flew into a terrible rage.
"What the heck are you!?!" she screamed in anger. “Cleaver! Burn the Pegasus's wings off!"
"WHAT!?!" Fluttershy tearfully squealed in fear as the stallion took a sword from the nearby furnace where T-Cog and Dripfang forged new cutlasses. "NO! NO! Please don't!"
But Fluttershy's tearful pleas only made the triplets laugh even louder, even Pinkie Pie began to fear for her friends life at this point.
"Hey!" she screamed. "You get away from her!!!"
"Oh I don't think so giggles," the mare said with an evil grin on her face. "I'm afraid this shall be the last day that this Pegasus will ever to fly again."
At those words Fluttershy screamed even louder, the fear alone would have been enough to drive even the bravest ponies insane however while they didn’t know it yet, there was shimmer of hope for the captive ponies running towards the screams. The white-hot blade had barely touched the joint where her wing was attached to the side of her body and the pain was unbelievable, just being able to describe it would have been challenge enough without having to go through it. Luckily the stallion didn't even get a chance to dig the blade into Fluttershy's flesh since he was interrupted by a thunderous bang coming from behind him. Instantly reacting to the noise the stallion removed the blade from Fluttershy's wing and turned his head towards the noise along with everyone else and saw Big Rummy standing in the knocked down doorway, only he didn't look as giddy as he normally did, in fact he looked like he was about to explode with fury.
"Rummy," the mare said nervously. "Listen… this is not what it looks like."
But Big Rummy didn't even hear her, he was too horrified and angry at the sight of Fluttershy's bleeding wing and the burning hot sword in the stallion's mouth. Eyes burning with fury, Rummy slammed his hoof against the floor like a bull and like a locomotive he ploughed into the triplets with full force and began to use his gigantic hooves to beat them to a pulp, by the time he was done, their painful screams were still echoing in his ears. Luckily for them, Big Rummy never intended to kill them.
"I think he shattered my ribs," one of the Stallions groaned, although it was hard to tell since he sound like he had a collapsed lung.
"I think my legs are broken," the other stallion added.
Ignoring the painful groans of the triplets laying in a bloody heap on the floor, Big Rummy quickly made his way towards Fluttershy and untied her bonds, luckily the blade of the sword only made a slight gash in her wing, but that didn't stop her from shaking and crying her eyes out.
"Are…are…you alright?" Big Rummy asked her nervously.
But Fluttershy didn't even answer him, instead she just wrapped herself around him in a tearful hug, never in her life had she been so scared.#
It wasn't too long before the news of Fluttershy and Pinkie's capture reached the ears of those who were on deck partying, in a matter of moments the party ended and a small group of pirates rushed below deck to apprehend the triplets, thanks to Big Rummy's beating it was an easy job. Now bound and gagged, the triplets sat there on deck in front of every pony while Big Rummy and Pinkie Pie explained what happened to Jack Silver, as it turns out Big Rummy spotted Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie's capture and was able to follow the triplets below deck. After they finished their story, Jack's face changed from concerned to furious, almost vengeful, he was so angry his horn was beginning to pulsate with magic. Knowing what was going to happen, Shimmer looked to the crew.
"Hit the deck!!!" she screamed.
Instantly reacting to the order, every Pony and Diamond Dog ducked as low as they could while Jack in a fit of rage screamed in fury as lightning literally erupted from his horn into the night sky. Never before had any crew member seen Jack this upset, as he edged his way towards the leader of the triplets and put his horn to her throat, the clear sign of fear filled her eyes.
"You have no idea how hard it is not to drive this into your air pipe," he growled. "I may be a merciful pony but I can never forgive anything like this and I'm quite sure no pony else can either. SLASH! DRIPFANG! T-COG! Lock these three pieces off filth in the brig!"
"With pleasure," Slash growled, cracking his knuckles in anger.
"On your hooves scum!" Dripfang added.
The three then shoved the triplets to make them stand and rushed them below deck to the brig, leaving Jack alone with the rest of the crew.
"What are you all staring at!?!" Jack snapped, seeing the fearful look in everyone's face. "Get below deck now, all of you! Come on, the party's over let's go!!!"
Not wanting to push Jack even further over the edge than he already was, everyone fearfully scuffled across the deck and tried to make their way below. However one pony was chosen to stay behind.
"Miss Sparkle!" Jack called. "Could I see you in my cabin please!?!"
Not knowing what to expect, Twilight did what she was told and followed the Captain into his cabin, however when she closed the door she was met with a bizarre sight, Jack Silver slumped on the floor trying to hold back tears.
"I… am… so… sorry," he chocked. "To think what those three almost did to your friend, something like that shouldn't have to happen to such a nice pony, why… why did I let scum like that on board my ship!?!"
"Captain…" Twilight began, trying to find the right words to say. "…please…I… oh boy, look…"
"No Twilight this is MY fault," Jack interrupted her. "I promised that you all wouldn't be harmed and THIS is what happened, you must be furious…"
"Jack! I'm furious with them, not you!" Twilight snapped. "Judging from that little outburst you had out on deck I'd say you had nothing to do with it!"
"Be that as it may your friends had come to harm by three of my crewmembers," Jack said with a stern face. "Now I don't know who to trust anymore, any one of them could be plotting to do the same thing."
At those words Twilight sighed heavily and walked to Jack with a stern look on her face.
"Look Jack…" she said in a serious tone. “I may not have known you or your crew for very long, but I know a good heart when I see it and you certainly have one and so does a good few members of your crew, Big Rummy for instance, if it weren't for him Fluttershy would have… I… I can't even say it."
But that sentence alone was enough to get Jack's face light up a little bit.
"You're…you're right Miss Sparkle," he said. "It’s no wonder you were chosen to be royalty back home. You can rest assured, I WILL get to the bottom of this, I promise you that."
But before Twilight could come up with an answer for that, the door of the Captains' cabin swung open to reveal Blackhorn standing in the doorway.
"Captain!" he said gasping for air. "I just heard what happened, what's going on?"
"I'll tell you in a minute Blackhorn," Jack answered him. "You better get below deck with the others Miss Sparkle, Shimmer probably has the ship's doctor looking at Fluttershy right now."
While Twilight wanted to continue speaking with Jack about what he planned to do, she knew that she couldn't ignore her friend so doing what she's told she saluted the captain and exited the cabin, leaving Jack and Blackhorn alone.
"So what is going on?" Black asked angrily.
"Apparently the Blade Triplets were under the impression that Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie knew where I hid the Elements of Harmony" Jack explained. "I don't know why but for some reason they took it upon themselves to torture them into revealing that information."
"But the only pony who knows where they are hidden is you," Blackhorn said. "You said that if any pony else knew then every pony on board would be trying to get them."
"Of course they didn't know," Jack snapped. "And like an old fool I was stupid enough to believe that I could trust every pony on this ship that they would leave the newcomers alone knowing that, now there are only a few ponies on board that I certainly CAN trust, one of which is you old friend."
"So what do you plan on doing with the triplets?" Blackhorn asked.
"Rummy has already given them a bloody good beating," Jack answered. "But tomorrow morning I plan to go down to the brig and interrogate each and every one of them."
"They would most likely feed you nothing but lies sir, there would be no point." Blackhorn said. "Besides, you and I both know that this is the result of what I was telling you in the first place… the lack of discipline on board this ship."
"Well what do you suggest Blackhorn?" Jack snapped.
"Well sir…" Blackhorn said with a smile on his face. "...I do have a few ideas…"#
While the Cutie Mark Crusaders slept in their hammocks later that night, the Mane Six stayed up with Fluttershy who was being tend to by the ship's doctor, he was an old, scruffy looking Diamond Dog who wore think circular glasses and carried a satchel of medical equipment and a small red parrot on his shoulder.
"You are one lucky pony," he said in high pitched, raspy voice as he finished off sowing the stitches in Fluttershy's wound. "Luckily for you the blade didn't hit anything vital, only managed to take a deep gash out of the skin. Don't worry you'll fly again in a week or two."
"Thanks doc," Applejack said.
Needless to say, the way this Diamond Dog spoke indicated that he was a lot smarter than the ones Rarity encountered a while back, some would even say he sounded more like a shaman than anything else.
"Now the stitches are dissolvable so I won't have to take them out again but you're going to have to make sure she puts this on the wound every evening to stop any infection and to ease the pain." The doctor said as he took a small tub full of green paste out of his bag and passed it to Twilight. "Rub this on the wound before going to sleep and there should be nothing to worry about."
The doctor then put all of his equipment back in his satchel and stood up to leave, but not before his parrot gave the Mane Six a small remark.
"Dead mares tell no tales," it squawked.
Needless to say, that remark made every pony uneasy
"W…what did the bird say?" Spike asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Never mind the bird spike,” Twilight said trying to keep the attention focused on Fluttershy
"Plus I think the better question is what are we going to do now?" Rainbow Dash snapped. "Because I don't know about the rest of you but I’m not going to just stand by and let those pirates get away with this!"
"Rainbow Dash keep it down, you'll wake the girls." Rarity said trying to shush her.
"So what?" Rainbow Dash barked. "I don't care if the whole ship hears me because not only has Fluttershy been tortured but this is also a violation of our trust, how do we know the whole crew isn’t on this!"
"The whole crew isn't in on it Dash!" Twilight growled.
"And how could you possibly know that?" Rarity asked.
"Because if they were then Big Rummy wouldn't have saved Fluttershy!" Twilight replied. "I think that proves that he isn't a monster like those triplets."
"And Slash may be a little psychotic but he's no killer," Spike added.
"Even Dripfang doesn't seem the type." Applejack said. "I know y'all are upset Dash, heck we all are but Twilight's right, I don't think all the pirates are like those triplets."
"Glad to hear you zink zat" said an unseen voice.
Everyone suddenly turned their heads to see Gem La Stone coming down the stairs, followed by Slash, Big Rummy, Shimmer, Dripfang and T-Cog.
"It's nice to know that recent events haven't changed your opinion about us," Shimmer said as she sat down next to Twilight. "How's she doing?"
"She had to have a few stitches but the doctor said that she'll be fine," Twilight explained.
"Has she said anything?" T-Cog asked.
"Poor girl hasn't spoken a word since Rummy brought her above deck," Rarity answered. "The whole ordeal was too much for her."
"The poor mare," Slash said rubbing his head in frustration. "To think something like this happening on board this ship, it's just not right."
"Who were those three anyway?" Spike asked. "And why would such horrible ponies be on this ship?"
At those words Shimmer couldn't help but sigh.
"They are the Blade Triplets," she explained. "The two stallions are Razor Blade and Cleaver Blade and the mare's Pocket Blade, and to be honest they didn't seem to be much of a threat when they first came on board. As far as we know they were just a small family of knife throwers from some circus in Brayzil, after the circus was closed down they took to the sea where my father took them in after their ship went down. Clearly there was some kind of evil in their hearts that they managed to hide from everyone else."
"Well that's an understatement if I ever heard one." Rainbow Dash growled. "You guys may not be like those triplets but now I feel that any one of the other crewmembers is going to kill us when our backs are turned."
"Trust me we know what you mean," Dripfang said turning his head to look behind to make sure no pony was listening. "As a matter of fact I have a few suspicions about a few members myself, Blackhorn being one of them."
"Blackhorn?" Twilight asked. "The quartermaster?"
"Not this again Dripfang." Shimmer moaned.
"Come on Shimmer you know I'm right about this," Dripfang snapped. "Why don't you tell them his backstory, after all they already know most of ours."
Seeing the curious look on everyone's faces, Shimmer knew she had to tell them, even Fluttershy seemed to be edging closer so she could hear.
"Alright, alright, I suppose there no harm in telling you, though I don't feel right about doing it behind some pony else’s back." Shimmer said as she edged in closer so everyone could hear her without attracting any attention. "It was twenty years ago and as far as I know, at the time Blackhorn was one of the most powerful Unicorns that ever sailed the seas, only he wasn't a pirate but a Navy officer."
"Blackhorn was a Navy officer?" Twilight asked.
"Admiral from what I heard," T-Cog answered.
"He had it all," Shimmer continued. "A position of great power, a family that loved him, even his own ship but that all changed when his ship was attacked. As you probably guessed not all pirates are as nice as we are, however these pirates were far worse, that reputation father has… the pirates that attacked Blackhorn's ship had the same one, only they focused their lives on making it a reality."
"What do you mean?" Applejack asked.
"It all started on what Blackhorn considered a wonderful day," Shimmer said. "He was on his way to meet with some royal family who lived in the north on behalf of his queen, he and his wife and foal were half way there when the ship was attacked by another, a monstrous vessel known as the Black Death. The pirates killed every crewmember in sight leaving Blackhorn and his family for last, it was at that moment his life made a turn for the worst. The Captain of the Black Death, a griffin from what I heard, fought against Blackhorn, though his magic was powerful, the griffin played dirty and held his wife and foal hostage."
"But zat was only ze least of it," Gem added.
"Indeed," Shimmer continued. "Because after Blackhorn stood down from the fight to try and save his family, the griffin did the worst possible thing you could do to a Unicorn, have you ever wondered why his horn is broken? That's because the griffin sliced it off with his talons and worst of all to add a final blow, the griffin took the horn and plunged it into the throats of his wife and foal."
Hearing this, the Mane Six gasped in horror.
"That…that's the most horrible thing I ever heard," Rarity said.
"Agreed," Shimmer said. "While most of the crewmembers on board this ship had suffered greatly in their past Blackhorn seemed to be the one that has suffered the most, not only did he loose his most powerful weapon that day but the griffin used it to take away everything else he held dear. Needless the say the griffin took great pleasure in seeing Blackhorn squirm in his misery and wanted to make it last, so instead of killing him there and then he took him prisoner on board his ship, though eventually he grew bored of him. After that the pirates marooned Blackhorn on an island and left him to die, but not before he went mad with the heat and heartbreak. By the time the Golden Alicorn sailed by the island Blackhorn had already gone insane, at the time I was still very young and had only just became First Mate, when father found him lying on that beach he took pity on him, tried to bring back some of his sanity. Overtime Blackhorn got better but he never forgot that terrible event, every day he would get angrier and angrier until one day he finally snapped and jumped ship when we were sailing off the coast of Neighsia."
"We didn't see the guy for a whole year after that," Slash said.
"So what happened to him?" Rainbow Dash asked.
"About a month after I was recruited into the crew, Blackhorn came back." Dripfang answered.
"Found us while we were unloading loot in Trottuga," Gem added. "He told us zat he was finally at peace."
"Which meant either the lad finally decided to move on with his life…" T-Cog explained. "Or worse…"
"…he found and killed the griffin who murdered his family." Shimmer finished.
At those words, every pony felt even more uneasy, knowing what they know now only made them more terrified than ever.
"Needless to say, Father decided to keep a close eye on Blackhorn after that," Shimmer continued. "After giving him the position of quartermaster he had Blackhorn stay as close to him as he would me, so far he hasn't shown any signs of cracking and he's as close to the Captain as the rest of us, so I don't want any more accusations about him Dripfang."
"Look all I'm saying is that we should just keep an eye on him," Dripfang explained. "I may not be the best one to say it given my own past but if Blackhorn has killed before who's to say he won't do it again?"
"The Captain trusts him and that's good enough for me!" Shimmer snapped. "Now I don't want to hear any more of this understood?"
While he still didn't want to say he was wrong, Dripfang reluctantly nodded his head.
"Good," Shimmer said with a stern look. "Look guys, I know tonight has been terrible for you, especially you Fluttershy, but we all just came back from the Captain's cabin and he told us that we were to stay close to you all so that this doesn't happen again, and you can rest assured because we don't intend to fail."
Shimmer meant well but even that bit of news wasn't exactly comforting given the circumstances.
"Granted it's a nice gesture but I'm not so sure about it," Rainbow Dash said.
"I'm afraid you don't have a choice lass," T-Cog said. "The Captain's given us these orders because we're some of the only few crewmembers he trusts at this point and he expects us to carry these orders out. Besides you're going to need our protection after tomorrow morning."
"What do you mean?" Pinkie Pie asked.
"Well I'm afraid it's going to get a little stricter up on deck until we reach our destination and no doubt the crew is going to blame you guys for it." Shimmer explained. "Father is now under the impression that the lack of discipline on deck is what kept us blind to the triplet's attack."
"What? That's just silly" Pinkie Pie scoffed.
"Silly or not that's the Captain's orders." Slash explained. "Look we better hit the sack, gotta be up early tomorrow morning."
"No arguments zere," Gem said as she made her way to her hammock.
As everyone scuffled into their hammocks for the night, Fluttershy suddenly tapped Rummy on the shoulder before he could leave.
"Um…Rummy?" she whimpered. "Could you…um…help me with this, the doctor said I need to put it on my wing before I go to sleep."
Big Rummy looked down at the tub of green paste in Fluttershy's hooves then back to her face, he has slightly taken aback by her request.
"I…I…don't think I should," he said nervously. "…might make it worse…I…I…sometimes…break things."
"Oh please Rummy?" Fluttershy pleaded. "My wing really hurts and the doctor said that this paste will make the pain go away. Help me please."
Big Rummy may not have been the brightest bulb on the chandelier, but he knew he couldn't just refuse Fluttershy's plea. Tipping a small amount of paste in his hoof, Big Rummy gently dabbed it onto Fluttershy's stitches, or at least as gentle as he could, given the size of his hooves.
"By the way…" Fluttershy said as the pain began to fade. "…thank you for saving my life, it was so brave of you."
"You're…um…you're welcome," Big Rummy said. "But I'm not brave, I'm just a stupid earth pony who can't even cook."
"Don't say that Rummy you're a wonderful cook," Fluttershy said. "And you are most definitely not stupid."
"You…you really think so?" Rummy asked with a smile on his face.
"Absolutely," Fluttershy replied.
At those words, Big Rummy couldn't help but giggle as he finished applying the paste.
"So kind," he chuckled to himself. "So beautiful and kind."
However suddenly realising what he had just said and knowing that Fluttershy could hear him, Big Rummy suddenly felt embarrassed.
"You…you think I'm beautiful?" Fluttershy asked turning her head towards him.
"Uh…well…um," Big Rummy stuttered, trying difficultly to find the right words. "You do have uh…a pretty mane and lovely eyes…oh boy…well it's just that um…"
But Before Big Rummy could even finish his sentence he was met with a surprise as Fluttershy suddenly gave him a small kiss on the cheek.
"Goodnight Rummy," she whispered as she turned and made her way to her hammock.
As Fluttershy blew out the lantern and the room was covered in darkness, Big Rummy couldn't help but smile, never in his life had he been so happy. Clambering into his reinforced hammock Big Rummy couldn't get what happened out of his mind, in fact he didn't even want to. As Slash looked down at the happy smile on Big Rummy's face from his own hammock, he felt a tinge of joy for his friend and whispered.
"Way to go big guy,"