My Little Pony Monthly Issue 46 (January 1, 2001)
My Little Pony Monthly
Established June 1997
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1. The Dream Quest Part Two (by Moon Lightning)
2. Clever Clover vs. the Flatlands: Epilogue (by Clever Clover)
3. The Outrageous Big End-Of-Year Story (by Barnacle, Tabby, and Clever Clover)
4. Ginseng and Sassafras Tea Chapters 19 & 20 (by Sugarberry)
5. Puss in Boots (by Sugarberry)
6. New Beginnings (by Sugarberry)
To new and old subscribers alike: don’t forget to send in your submissions to My Little Pony Monthly! You are, after all, what keeps this newsletter going; and all of us here who work on it would love to see your compositions regardless of length. If you have something you think would be appropriate for MLP Monthly, send it on to TabbyMLP@aol.com
Happy New Year!
The Dream Quest
by Moon Lightning (email@example.com)
“Oh! Oh, my!” Orbit cried, realizing that she was not presentable in front of the queen. Thinking quickly, she tried to bring the attention away from herself. “Where is Princess Midnight Star?”
Misty Moon wondered why anyone, much less Orbit, would look up to that particular vain pony. Never mind the fact that Midnight Star was a princess, but that did not matter anyway because she would be vain and snooty with or without her title. Perhaps it’s her looks, Misty Moon thought. She is rather pretty. Too bad her attitude makes her horrible.
Before Queen Starica could answer Orbit’s question, Prim Rose pointed to a pavilion covered in flowers. There, sitting on a large satin pillow, was the princess. She looked out over the on-going party with little interest, and it almost looked as if she were annoyed by it.
After excusing herself, Orbit went to add her pies to the long table already covered with cakes and other sweet stuff. There was even a caramel pie there made by Candy Sweet that brought a smile to Misty Moon’s face. Prim Rose left Misty Moon to join up with the younger members of the partygoers who were playing Nick Nack Stone, a game where the children threw small polished stones up into the air and tried to catch them in their tail while turning around in circles three times. Fancy Lace and Dainty Bow, Prim Rose’s best friends, joined her in the silly game.
“It’s a really great party,” Misty Moon said politely to Queen Starica.
“Yes, it is!” agreed the delighted queen.
As she and the queen talked, Misty Moon looked for her friend Orbit who had disappeared after dropping off her pies. I wonder if she is visiting with that princess, she thought as she scanned the crowd. Sure enough, there was Orbit, totally enraptured by the princess’ charm. Midnight Star is graceful, dainty, and indeed beautiful... thought Misty Moon, frowning as she added to herself, Midnight Star is stuck-up! All she does is sit there not having fun or anything! And this is her party, too!...
“Misty? Misty! Dear, are you quite all right?” the queen’s words snapped Misty Moon out of her thoughts.
“Yes, I am fine,” answered Misty Moon, embarrassed that she had been caught mind-drifting in front of the queen. She shook off her animosity toward Midnight Star and tried to have a good time. She found Night’s Dream and Wind Chimes dancing to the music on the dance floor, and went to join them.
After dancing through several songs and tripping over everyone’s hooves-- not to mention her own-- she decided to take a breather. “You leaving already?” Wind Chimes asked when Misty Moon stepped off the floor. Smiling, she nodded and quickly rode off before anyone else stopped her.
It took Misty Moon a little while to get to her “treasure chest” at the bottom of the tree in the woods, but her effort was rewarded because she found a little family of Doninears, small deer-like rabbit, on her way to the tree. After taking a few snapshots, she left the family to graze.
Picking her way back to the party, she took rolls and rolls of film of things that happened there. She even caught Midnight Star turning down yet another suitor. The stallion, Diamond Gem, was not too pleased by this; and he wasn’t alone, for there were other stallions lined up to greet the princess. Misty Moon took pictures of the dance floor and of the foals playing.
Snapping a picture as Night’s Dream tripped over her dance partner, Misty Moon laughed as the two tried to get themselves off the floor, and getting their legs tangled up in a jumble instead.
After two hours of picture snapping and watching, Misty Moon put her camera back in her hiding spot. On her way back to the party, she saw something glisten in the distance. Pricking her ears, she went to investigate.
“What is this?” she asked as she came across a small group of old houses and buildings. One dwelling looked as if it would fall over the edge of the cliff; but when Misty Moon crept around to see it in more detail, she was amazed again at another sight. “What the...? Why, the whole building is supported on the other side as well.” And what a building it was, too. It looked like a spiral with a loft cut out on all sides, like a door with rounded ledge-like balconies.
Smiling, Misty Moon thought it looked like a flower, and she felt like an ant peering up at it. The side facing the cliff had a door-ledge as well facing the valley. Carefully creeping to the edge of the cliff, she could see the party going on at the valley floor. “Well, while I am here I might as well look around.” The pathways were all terribly overgrown; Misty Moon thought with a smile that Leaf Whirl would love to scold whoever had let this place get like this.
Strange bowl-like objects littered the ground, and with a start Misty Moon realized the ground was suddenly hard. What is going on?! Misty Moon thought. I see my reflection on the ground, but that is impossible! Only ice acts like this, but this is not ice. It’s all wrong. Creeping around the overgrown bushes and sometimes having to cut through the vines with her horn, Misty Moon realized that to further explore this place she would need equipment and her camera to document everything.
Turning, she ran past the “Giant Flower” and some smaller outlying buildings that were falling apart too badly to risk going inside. “I will come back!” she whispered to the ruins as if they could hear her. As she ran back to the party, her thoughts seemed to echo throughout the ruins. I PROMISE... I pro-mise... I-p-r-o-m-i-s-e... until the stillness claimed them once again. What Misty Moon did not realize was that a pair of fierce but beautiful eyes were watching and waiting. The owner’s face was crisscrossed by the shadows of the outlying leaves and branches concealing him.
* * *
The party lasted well into the night, so Champion Starr carried little Prim Rose home upon his back. The sleeping filly’s head bobbed on her sire’s back, and it made Misty Moon wonder if that alone would wake her. But the party had been too much excitement for this little cherub of a filly, and Misty Moon followed also in a sleepy bliss, but not exactly asleep.
As they walked back to their soddie, Champion Starr pointed to a distant tower. “Do you see that tower?” he asked.
Misty Moon only nodded, but her thoughts rang out, Yes! Yes! I was there! The ruins! However, she held it inside hoping that this particular conversation would levitate the drama and questions that ate at her all day.
“When I was a youngster, they built that place. Beautiful! Too bad that it was... never mind; anyway, inside it is a big pink crystal.”
“What’s it for?” Misty Moon asked when she finally found her voice.
Champion Starr paused and gave her a look that told her to be quiet before he went on. “No one knows for sure what the crystal does or what its purpose is. Some say it is the source of all ponies’ dreams and wishes. Others think that it is like a large lamp to help guide home night fliers because of the way the sun charges it. I was too little at the time to remember what it was really for.” He smiled back at his gaping daughter. He knew she was deep in thought over the purpose of the Sun Gem. What he did not know is that she had already been there and gone past it to the other buildings. Misty Moon hoped to keep in the dark about it, anyway.
“Really?” said a sleepy voice on Champion Starr’s back. Both sire and young mare looked at each other and smiled because neither of them knew that the little filly had been listening. However, before Champion Starr could answer his little girl, she fell back into a dreamy bliss.
That night in bed, after Misty Moon tucked Prim Rose in, she thought about the Sun Gem. Could it be that it could answer dreams and wishes? Misty Moon always wanted to see the world which was unheard of here in this pony valley. There were stories about the ponies of Dream Valley traveling to far-out worlds and destinations. But that then was a myth. Or was it? She did not know!
Rolling over in her bed, Misty Moon looked at the horizon, where she could see a faint pink glow, now visible because the purple night mists had disappeared early this night.
“Please, if you are really a wishing crystal, then please consider my wish and grant it. I wish...” Misty Moon whispered until she fell into a dreamy bliss like the rest of her family.
In the distance, the Sun Gem twinkled brightly, as if hearing Misty Moon’s unspoken wish.
Clever Clover vs. the Flatlands
by Clever Clover (Swordrat@aol.com)
“I GOT NIDORAN!” Clever Clover cried triumphantly as he caught the PokéBall in his hoof.
“Rattatta!” his Rattatta replied.
“Good work, little buddy; return.” The purple rat Pokémon disappeared into its PokéBall in a flash of light. “Now, I wonder if there are any more wild Pokémon around,” the pony mussed.
Clever Clover had gone to the Flatlands to investigate a mysterious dream he had. He discovered a plot by his long-time nemesis, Bic the imp. He also discovered that he was a prince, the son of the king of an island nation that had been cursed by the devious imp. Clever Clover had managed to break the curse and free his people. Now he was on his way back to Friendship Gardens and was hunting Pokémon along the way.
“A Weedle! Come out, Farfetch’d! Use leak slap, fast!” But it was too late; the hairy bug Pokémon disappeared into a hole in the tree. “Stay away from the tree hole, Farfetch’d! It’ll eat you!”
“Fetch-far-far?” the wild duck Pokémon quacked in confusion.
“Never mind,” Clever Clover sighed. “We don’t have time to be digging for Weedles right now. We should be heading for home.”
The pony and his Pokémon strode calmly through the woods toward home. After all that had happened in the last weeks, Clever Clover was glad to be able to relax for awhile. Once he got home, he’d have to get back to his job. He wished that for once he could have a vacation that didn’t turn into an adventure.
As the pair passed along the base of a rocky hillside, a strange sound reached the pony’s ears. It was a faint whimper coming from a bramble-filled ravine. “Farfetch’d, go check it out. And be careful.”
“Far-fetch-fetch-far,” the Pokémon replied as it waddled into the bramble, using its leek as a machete to clear a path. Clever Clover followed at a short distance. Soon they came into the view of the source of the sound. A Vulpix had apparently stumbled and fell into the ravine. Clever Clover couldn’t see if it was injured, but its tails were tangled in the brambles. When the fire fox Pokémon saw the newcomers, it growled weakly and bared its teeth.
“Keep your distance, Farfetch’d; it looks weak but it could still be dangerous. Digger, come out and give us a hand. See how close you can get to it, but be ready to go underground at a moment’s notice.”
“Dig dig,” said the mole Pokémon with a nod. It slowly approached the injured Pokémon.
“Vullll,” the Vulpix hissed threateningly.
“Digglet, dig dig!” the Digglet said in near panic, trying to calm the fire Pokémon. “Dig dig digglet dig!”
“Vul vullll vul, pix,” the Vulpix replied sadly.
“Digglet!” answered the mole, cheerfully. He turned to Clever Clover and smiled. “Digglet dig dig!”
“I hope that means what I think it does,” mumbled the pony as he got out another PokéBall. “Rattatta, help our new friend here get untangled.”
The purple rat cautiously approached the Vulpix and began gnawing at the brambles to free its tails. The Vulpix stumbled forward and collapsed with a faint, “Vul.”
Clever Clover carefully picked up the injured Pokémon and carried it out of the ravine to a clearing. He gently began to remove the last bits of bramble from the Vulpix’s tails. “Hm, she’s only got five tails; she shouldn’t be on her own yet. I wonder where the mother is?” He finished removing the brambles and examining the Vulpix. One of her hind legs had apparently been struck by a rock. It didn’t appear to be broken, but it was bleeding. Clever Clover washed the wounds and bandaged them. By this time, the Vulpix was awake. Clever Clover got out an empty PokéBall. “Alright little fella, I think you should go into the PokéBall. It’ll be safer. I’ll let you out when I find your mother or when I get to a Pokémon Center where you can get some proper care.”
The Vulpix nodded. “Vul pix.”
* * *
With all his Pokémon, and the injured Vulpix, now in their PokéBalls, Clever Clover continued on his way. But something was not right. There were no animals around. Even the bird songs had ceased. Suddenly, the pony came upon a most unusual sight. In a clearing was a circle of burn marks. All the vegetation in the area had been trampled. A pair of caterpillar tracks led away from the clearing.
“I was hoping to be done with adventures for the time being, but I can’t just walk away from this.”
The tracks led through the woods into a large cave. Clever Clover slowly advanced into the cavern. Surprisingly, it got brighter as he advanced rather than darker. Before reaching the source of the unnatural light, the purple pony found his progress blocked by an enormous metal gate. There was a platform above the gate where two humans stood.
“I don’t know what you’re doing here,” said one of the humans, a woman with orange hair in two tails.
“But you’d better prepare for trouble,” said the other, a blue haired man with a gruff voice.
“And you’d better make it double,” the woman continued.
“To infect the world with devastation!” said the man in turn.
“To blight all peoples within every nation!”
“To denounce the goodness of truth and love...”
“To extend our wrath to the stars above!”
“Team Rocket, circling Earth all day and night!”
“Surrender to us now or you’ll surely lose the fight!”
Clever Clover stared at the two humans, Butch and Cassidy, as they stood posed dramatically. After a moment of silence the pony replied, “Hey! I know you guys; Tabby told me about you. But as she described you, your hair was better; and where’s your Meowth?”
“Meowth?” rasped Butch.
“You must have us confused with those losers, Jessie and James,” said Cassidy. “That is an insult we cannot forgive. Ratticate, get him!” She hurled a PokéBall that released the large rat Pokémon ten feet in front of the pony prince.
The pony grinned. “Get ‘im,” he said softly. Suddenly, the ground beneath the Ratticate began to shake and gave way, dropping the Pokémon into a deep pit. Clever Clover’s Digglet poked his head out of the ground at his master’s feet. “Now, you didn’t think I’d walk in here without backup, did you?”
“He’s good,” mumbled Butch.
“Maybe, but not good enough,” Cassidy scowled. “Drowzee, go!” This time she released the Pokémon on the raised platform, out of reach of the mole Pokémon.
“Drowzee,” said the psy Pokémon as its fingers and hips began swaying in rhythm. Digger turned toward Clever Clover with an evil look in his eyes. The entire cavern began to shake around the pony.
Clever Clover produced a large axe from his pack; it had belonged to his ancestors and was given to him by Raven, regent of Isle of the Lake. The princely purple pony hurled the axe toward the Drowzee. The heavy blade cleaved the platform, rattling the Drowzee’s concentration. His control broken, Digger was free to turn his attention back to the villains of Team Rocket. The cave shifted, rending the gate asunder. Butch, Cassidy, and their Drowzee tumbled from their perch into the depths of the cavern. The axe fell to the ground at Clever Clover’s feet.
“Good work, Digger,” said the pony as he retrieved his ancestral cleaver. “Now, let’s see what those two were up to.” Clever Clover climbed through the ruins of the gate; Digger just tunneled under. Beyond was a chamber filled with cage upon cage of Pokémon. They seemed underfed and miserable. “I’d be willing to bet that Vulpix’s mother is in here somewhere. Farfetch’d, Rattatta, help get all these cages open, before those Rocket clowns come back.” The pony and his Pokémon set to work, but before they could get far a low rumbling emanated from the depths of the cavern. A massive clawed construction riding on twin caterpillar tracks came rolling into the chamber.
“You won’t beat us that easily!” cried Cassidy from atop the machine.
“This Pokémon collector is entirely Poké-proof,” boasted Butch, as the dastardly duo ducked into the machine’s control room.
“This does not look good,” mumbled Clever Clover. “Everybody! Get out of here! Now!”
The massive claws lashed out and began to gather up the fleeing Pokémon. Clever Clover hurled his axe once again, but it merely glanced off the armored hull of the contraption. “This does NOT look good,” said the frustrated pony. The axe, when it landed, struck one of the cages, knocking the door off its hinges.
A Vulpix poked its head out of the cage and let loose a massive burst of flame upon the massive machine, but to no avail. “Vuuuul,” the Vulpix moaned in disbelief. One of the PokéBalls in Clever Clover’s pack began to rattle, the one in which the injured Vulpix rested. A flash of red light burst forth from the PokéBall.
The young Vulpix stood defiantly on shaky paws before the metal monstrosity. “Vuuuul-pix!” it cried.
“Vuuulpix,” the Vulpix in the cage replied.
“Hey, it’s that little one that got away!” cried Butch, peering out through a narrow view slit.
“Ha! We should thank that pony for catching it for us,” said Cassidy evilly.
The little Vulpix’s eyes began to glow. Soon the fiery glow surrounded the entire Pokémon. A slender finger of flame shot out from the fox’s mouth. The flame shot through Butch’s view-port and exploded, turning the control room into an inferno. The roof hatch blew off, firing Butch and Cassidy clear through the roof of the cave.
“Wow,” was all Clever Clover could say. Then he looked to the Vulpix who had vanquished Team Rocket. The little fox Pokémon had collapsed from the exhaustion of its concentrated fire blast. Clever Clover rushed to the side of the fallen Pokémon, as did the Vulpix from the cage. “It looks like she’s alright, just exhausted,” said Clever Clover. “So, you must be this little one’s mother.”
“Vul,” said the Vulpix with a nod.
Clever Clover rummaged around in his pack for a Pokémon potion. “This should make her feel better,” said the pony as he administered it to the young Vulpix. The mother Vulpix, who had been examining the child’s bandaged leg, nuzzled her child lovingly. “That kid of yours is something else.”
Clever Clover and his Pokémon returned to the task of releasing the wild Pokémon. After they had finished, Clever Clover said to Digger the Digglet, “Once everyone is out of here, I want you to use your earthquake attack to destroy this cave and bury that contraption forever.”
“Diiiiiig let,” the Pokémon replied.
By this time, the young Vulpix had recovered some of its strength and was standing with her mother. “Well, you two, it’s about time for us to be out of here.”
The mother Vulpix turned to her daughter. “Vul vul pix vul.”
“Vul?” the young Vulpix replied.
“Vul, vulpix,” the mother insisted, as she gestured toward Clever Clover.
“Pix,” the little one replied and walked over to Clever Clover and sat next to his hoof. “Vul pix,” she said, looking up at the pony.
“Huh?” Clever Clover said. “Hey, Digger, do you know what they’re sayin’ “
”Digglet!” said the Digglet.
“Well, that makes one of us.”
“Vul vul pix pix vul,” the mother tried to explain.
“Dig dig, digglet dig,” the Digglet tried to translate.
“That was sure helpful. But I think I’ve got an idea what you’re sayin’. You want me to take care of your kid?”
“Vulpix!” cried the mother in delight.
“Well, if it’s okay with you, it’s okay with me. Now, let’s get out of here.”
* * *
On his way to Friendship Gardens, Clever Clover stopped by the Dream Valley Pokémon Center to have his new Pokémon checked out. “Hey, Tabitha, what’s up?”
“That’s Tabby, Cleve Clove,” the pink nurse pony huffed, then noticing the young Vulpix, who wasn’t in a PokéBall. “Oh, I see you’ve got a new Pokémon. What a cute peacock tail!”
Clever Clover scowled. “She’s got five fox tails, no peacock tails. And I’ve got two others in PokéBalls, a Digglet and a Nidoran.”
“Eww, a corndog,” said Tabby.
“Are you going to check out my Pokémon or insult them?”
“Don’t worry, I’m a professional. Chansey, would you take care of these Pokémon for me.”
“So, now that that’s taken care of, how was your trip? Did you find me any eighties toys?”
* * *
“And so I’m a prince from an island kingdom and Bic is finally out of my life for good, I hope,” Clever Clover finished recounting the tale of his adventures.
“Narfy,” Tabby replied.
“Chansey!” the nurse Pokémon announced.
“Oh, your Pokémon are ready.”
“Cool, I’ve got to be going now,” Clever Clover said as he gathered up his PokéBalls and turned to leave, with Vulpix right behind. “Yeah, and about this prince thing, I’d rather not have it public knowledge just yet, okay?”
“Oh, sure,” said Tabby as she dialed Sugarberry’s number on the phone. “Hey, Sugarberry, guess who’s a prince...”
The Outrageous Big End-Of-Year Story
by Barnacle and Tabby (KrzdRaptor@aol.com and TabbyMLP@aol.com)
with the Epona scenes by Clever Clover (Swordrat@aol.com)
and with miscellaneous assistance from Sugarberry, Spike, and Friendly
It was a late December morning in the dark forest and a bitter wind blew through the trees kicking up a little of the dry snow laying about. Most people would prefer to avoid this type of weather as much as possible, but two individuals standing there in the expansive wilderness didn’t seem to notice.
One of them was Dreamcatcher, the Native Pony who made her home in those parts. It was not at all uncommon to see her about in the forest attending to her many duties and chores in all kinds of weather, so her presence there on that day was not too far out of line with her normal routine.
Her companion, however, was not the sort who would be seen anywhere around there. She was a human but her dashing garb would have set her apart from the few others that lived in Ponyland. The wind caught her long black cloak and her blue hair and tossed them about, but she did not seem to mind. She was focused on nothing in particular, but it consumed all of her thought none the less.
Finally the woman spoke, but she did not even turn to face her friend when she said, “This is gong to be bad.”
Dreamcatcher merely nodded in silent reply.
* * *
The flame-maned unicorn with a coat of gold stood atop a mountain overlooking Dream Valley, a look of worry upon her face. She was Epona, a mysterious pony who watched over the Little Ponies and offered guidance in times of darkness. She was worried now, though, because she saw a great crisis on the horizon. But this time she feared she would not be able to guide them. She longed to gallop down the mountain to warn Brightblade, the warrior she had been grooming as her champion, but something had changed. She was no longer sure what danger lurked beyond the present. New signs had arisen; old ones had faded away. Most recently she had received a message calling her away from Ponyland. The sender was a mystery, but he insisted that the outcome of the coming events could be dependant on her immediate presence at Stonehenge. As guardian of Ponyland, she could not simply ignore the message.
Epona winked from the mountaintop, hoping she would be able to return in time. She appeared at Stonehenge in human guise. It was cold and dark; no one else was around. The flame-haired woman pulled her coat tightly about her to ward off the frigid winter mist. Whoever had summoned her obviously did not feel the meeting was as urgent as his message had suggested. “Hello!” she called into the night. “If you can hear me, I haven’t got time to waste!”
“Oh, you’ve got all the time in the world,” replied a devilish voice from behind her.
Epona turned to see an impish figure sitting atop one of the massive stone trilithons. “Bic!” she spat in disgust. “What is this treachery?”
The imp grinned. “Oh, I’m just doing a favor for an old acquaintance.”
“But you are forbidden to interfere with the ponies! Or in any affairs within Ponyland!”
“That is why you were lured here. Fortunately for me, you’re not really a pony. And outside your protectorate, your power is nothing compared to mine.”
“What do you want from me?” the guardian demanded.
“I have no interest in you or in the action you sought to prevent. I was simply asked to hold you here until events have played out; then you’ll be free to return to Ponyland-- or at least what’s left of it.”
Epona was aghast. She tried to wink away but could not. “What witchcraft is this?”
“These ancient places have great power,” the Imp explained. “If you know how to tap into that power, you can do great things. Too bad for you the powers recognize only one master; and for now, that master is me.”
“You cad! Only one so vile as you would willingly play pawn to such a dark power!”
“Ah, good guardian, your judgement assumes such things as ‘good’ and ‘evil’ exist. The powers I choose to serve are neither. To demonstrate my ‘neutrality’ in this affair, I will be generous and let you watch as the events transpire.”
“You are too kind,” the flame-haired guardian bit out spitefully.
The imp hopped down from his perch and spat in a pool of water and stirred it with his toe. As the water settled, a scene unfolded before the captive guardian.
* * *
“Say, what did Barnacle have to say on the Skeleton King when you told him about it?”
“Remember when we saw him in the Dark Forest, and he mentioned a pirate?”
“Barnacle in the Dark Forest?”
“No, the Skeleton King.”
“Oh, that. I thought you were going to tell him. What did he say?”
“Are you sure you didn’t say anything? I thought that’s what you were talking about after the meal on Christmas.”
“Oh, no. That’s when we were discussing with Spike what to do with that 12" Speeder Bike, the Target exclusive. Spike couldn’t sell it, y’see, so Barnacle offered to buy it off him because it had stopped shipping and all and he thought that Spike shouldn’t just return it and– oh! No, I didn’t bring up the Skeleton King.”
“I suppose he’s back in Port Scurvy by now.”
“Uh-huh. Well, Barnacle is, not the Skeleton King. If it’s that important I guess you’ll have to call him.”
“Does he have a phone?”
“Hmm, good point. Then we’ll just have to visit him personally.”
* * *
And so that was why Tabby and Thomas, on a fine late December day, took a ferry out to Calimidad Island to consult with Barnacle whether the world was in danger again or not.
Even though Calimidad Island was a haven for pirates and the like, it remained popular with the public– especially in these winter months– because of its warm, tropical climate. Many ponies took advantage of the ferry rides to get a little bit of sun during this frigid season. But the sun wasn’t all they went for, in some cases... like in that of the Xtreme Ponies.
The group of six had also booked a ride on this same ferry, unknown to Tabby and Thomas; but they would not be in the dark for long. Catching sight of the couple on the opposite side of the deck, Jet quickly went to work. “Dude! Like, dude!” he exclaimed, running over to meet them. “Dude!”
“Hey, Jet!” Thomas greeted, looking up. “I wasn’t expecting to see you.”
“Hi!” Tabby said brightly, waving.
“Dude!” Jet agreed. “Like, what’re you guys doing?”
“We’re going to see Barnacle,” Tabby answered in a low tone. “We think he may be somehow involved in yet another attempt to destroy the world.”
“Duuude,” Jet breathed. “I didn’t know Barnacle had turned bad!”
By this point the other five Xtreme Ponies had gravitated over to the area and joined in the conversation. “Yeah, the waves are really good over there this time of year,” Cliff explained their reason for being there.
“We’re going surf-ing!” Bungee cried joyously.
“And you said you were going to see Barnacle?” Luge asked curiously.
“Yeah, what’s all this about destroying the world?” Cliff added.
And so, Tabby went on to explain in detail how they had been out in the Dark Forest catching Pokemon when they had heard the sound of an approaching voice; and shortly they found out that the voice did in fact belong to the renowned Skeleton King that Tabby and her friends had had the pleasure or displeasure of encountering several times in the past; this time he had been accompanied by a scraggly little Bushwoolie.
By this point, however, the ferry had reached Calimidad Island, and everyone disembarked. The Xtreme Ponies all grabbed their surfboards, and said their goodbyes to Tabby and Thomas; but Cliff and Luge changed their minds at the last moment.
“Hey, mind if we come along with you to see Barnacle?” Cliff asked, catching up to them.
“We would like to know more about all this and if we can help in any way,” Luge added.
“I don’t see a problem with it,” Thomas stated, and looked to Tabby for her thoughts on the matter.
Tabby’s mind, though, had wandered off elsewhere. “I wonder if there are any thrift stores here...” she murmured, staring at the bustling town.
* * *
After a short walk through the rain forest-like jungle, the foursome came to Barnacle’s unique home, which consisted of many platforms strung together in several large trees. No one appeared to be at home at first glance; but then, looking down towards the shore, they saw that Barnacle and all of his crew were indeed still in the area.
Everyone was there– Barnacle, of course, the pirate pony captain; the two Bushwoolie brothers, Davey and Jones; Kracken, the human first mate; Pierre, the French lizard; Malteeze, the warrior-cat seeking enlightenment; and Protius, the wise old parrot who was Malteeze’s instructor. All of them were gathered around a brand new shining ship sitting on the waves, with Barnacle presiding over the ceremony.
There were also two additional ponies there whom Thomas knew– Equinox and Solstice, twins who worked for International Geography. Equinox was a photographer, and Solstice was the actual reporter. As of now, Solstice was standing back interviewing the crew members while Equinox was snapping pictures from all different angles, almost getting in the way but never actually disturbing anyone.
Barnacle was waving a bottle of champagne high in the air, facing his crew members. “ARR, it’s been a long and tiresome year, but we’ve finally got our ship finished.. Now’s the time for the fun to begin. We’ll finally be able to go plunderin’ and treasure huntin’ once again like a real pirate should be doin’!” Kracken, Pierre, Davey, and Jones all let out a cheer, while Malteeze seemed more or less unmoved by the speech. “I hereby christen this ship... um, did we ever decide on a name for this thing?”
“Weren’t we going to go with the Sea Wraith?” Kracken asked.
But Pierre quickly intoned, “Non! I am afraid you are mistaken, my dear first mate. Ve had decided to go with Valeur Bateau!”
Malteeze cleared his throat and said bluntly, “Both of those ideas were thrown out long ago.”
Kracken turned around to face him. “Okay, so what did we decide on then?”
“I don’t recall,” Malteeze replied. “But why can’t you just call it the Lucas II?” This, however, got nothing but scoffs from all concerned.
Protius finally spoke-up. “I believe we hadn’t decided on anything, since none of you could agree on one thing.”
“Are you certain? I’m positive it was Valeur Bateau,” Pierre vouched.
“Yeah, yeah!” Davey nodded.
“Valeur Bateau, yeah, mon!” Jones agreed.
“No, it was the Sea Wraith!” Kracken insisted.
“Yeah, the Sea Wraith! Yeah!” Davey suddenly changed his mind.
“Yeah, mon! That’s the ticket!” Jones added.
“Barnacle, Barnacle!” Tabby cried out. “Hellooooooo! Why don’t you call it Springtime Splendor?”
Everyone present suddenly stopped in their argument and turned slowly towards the pink unicorn. “ARR! An idea that stupid could only have come from Tabby!” Barnacle declared.
“Well, if it isn’t the Fairfaxes!” Kracken exclaimed. “What brings you to our picturesque island retreat?”
“We’re here on business,” Tabby said solemnly.
“And apparently Barnacle is somehow involved with it,” Thomas agreed gravely.
“Ooh, sounds serious,” Solstice expressed, peering at the pair intently with notepad readily at hoof.
Equinox ran over and began snapping pictures. “Hey, Thomas, what’s happening?”
“The world is, like, totally in danger again!” Tabby elaborated.
“ARR, what you be doin’ this time, Tabby? Run over another cat, did yah?” Barnacle asked.
“That was Tamara’s fault,” Tabby bristled.
“No, Callie didn’t get run over.”
“Then perhaps you could tell us what the problem is?” Protius suggested.
Tabby took a deep breath. “The Skeleton King! In the Dark Forest with a strange Bushwoolie and ranting about this weird island and it sounds like they’re planning something!”
“What’s a Skeleton King?” Kracken asked.
“He’s a king, or was a king, but now he’s a Skeleton King and he’s in the Dark Forest or maybe he’s not anymore because he went off with that strange Bushwoolie!” Tabby rambled on.
“Strange Bushwoolie,” Jones said. “That really can’t be good.”
“Yeah, yeah, mon. Strange Bushwoolies never good,” Davey agreed.
“Hmm.” The towering cat man looked down at the two Bushwoolies. “If strange Bushwoolies are not good, then we have a problem here all the time.”
“Yep-yep!” they both agreed, with big, broad smiles.
“Wait a second! What kind of strange Bushwoolie are you talking about?” Kracken asked more seriously.
“ARR, yes,” Barnacle agreed. “What kind are yah talkin’ about?”
“Skinny, with flies, and a stick–!”
Barnacle and Kracken suddenly became grim and turned to one another. Slowly, and with an odd sense of dread, Kracken looked back at Tabby and asked, “This strange Bushwoolie– his name wasn’t Tiny by any chance, was it?”
“He didn’t say.”
“ARR, it probably doesn’t matter. How many skinny flea-infested Bushwoolies have you seen in your life?”
“Umm... just one,” Kracken responded. “And I was kinda hoping I wouldn’t ever see him again.”
“So you know this Bushwoolie?” Tabby queried.
“Unfortunately,” Kracken grieved.
“You guys sure seem to be taking this seriously, just for one little Bushwoolie,” Solstice commented.
“ARR, if you knew him like we do, you’d be takin’ it seriously, too,” Barnacle expressed. “ARR, you said something about an island?”
“An island?” Tabby blinked. “Did I say something about an island?”
“Yes, there was an island mentioned.” Thomas recalled. “They said they were headed for some place called Phalanx Island.”
“That’s right!” Tabby exclaimed brightly. “They did.”
“Phalanx Island? I’ve never heard of the place,” Barnacle noted.
“Me either,” Kracken commented.
“Nor I,” Pierre agreed.
“Hmm... I’ve never heard of a Phalanx Island,” Protius said, “but if my memory serves me correctly, I do believe I read some ancient Atlantean texts once which mentioned a place called Phalanx Base. However, I don’t really remember much more about them than that.”
“Atlantean? You mean, just like the outpost we’re documenting here on Calimidad Island?” Equinox asked.
“Exactly like,” Protius replied.
“Maybe the map we found there could show us where Phalanx Island is,” Solstice suggested.
“It’s worth a try,” Protius discerned. “Unfortunately, my Atlantean isn’t what it once was.”
“I’ve seen this map as well,” Malteeze vouched. “And even if you were still proficient in Atlantean, master, the text is so badly worn I doubt we would be able to read it.”
“So what does it all mean?” Tabby deplored, wide-eyed.
“Quite possibly, the end of the world,” Kracken said in all seriousness.
Tabby promptly let out a small shriek and cowered. “Oh dear. Maybe I should have remembered to talk to you guys at Christmas.”
“ARR, we don’t got time to worry about that now!” Barnacle snapped. “We have to do somethin’ about this right away!”
“Do something about what? I don’t get it. What’s the big deal about a skinny Bushwoolie and Phalanx Island?” Cliff, who had been hanging back with Luge, finally asked.
“ARR, that skinny Bushwoolie is a demonic entity hell-bent on destroying the entire world, and he’s only one of four!” Barnacle explained.
“And don’t forget about the fact that we left them buried under a mountain on Doomsday Island along with their masters, the four Ponies of the Apocalypse!” Kracken voiced dramatically.
“The four Ponies of the Apocalypse?” Luge asked.
“Is this another one of your jokes?” Malteeze asked of Kracken.
“I would hope not,” Protius spoke. “Because I have read other texts about these four Ponies of the Apocalypse, and if what they are saying is true, this would definitely not be a laughing matter.”
“ARR, it’s the truth all right, and we’ve got to do somethin’ about it,” Barnacle prompted seriously.
“Tabby, doesn’t your father know a lot about Atlantis?” Thomas pointed out. “Maybe he could help us.”
“Why, you’re right!” Tabby agreed. “And Cleve Clove, too!”
“They both live in Dream Valley, don’t they?” Kracken inquired.
“Well, Dad’s in Dream Valley, and Clever Clover lives in Friendship Gardens, but ironically I think Cleve Clove was going to stop in and talk to Dad about his recent digs today,” Tabby enlightened.
“ARR, that’s a long way to go; but I don’t think we be havin’ a choice. There aren’t any historians or archeologists on Calimidad Island,” Barnacle said.
“None? How can you be so sure?” Luge queried.
“This is Calimidad Island! All we have here is pirates and ruffians.”
“And tourists,” Pierre added.
“Well, in that case, we’d better get moving!” Kracken urged. “Shall I ready the... um... what’re we gonna call it?”
“ARR, never mind that now, just get the ship ready!”
“Tabby and Thomas, you are going to be ze first two guests zat get to sail with us on our new ship!” Pierre informed.
“And don’t forget about us!” Solstice interjected.
“Yeah, we’re comin’, too,” Equinox agreed. “We’re not going to miss out on this story.”
“You can count me in, too,” Cliff said. “This sounds like one wicked wild adventure.”
“Yes, it sounds like it might even be better than surfing the legendary Calimidad waves!” Luge agreed. “I’m coming, too.”
“ARR, in that case, all of ye get yer land-lubbin’ behinds on the ship!” Barnacle instructed. “We set sail immediately!”
“It’s so exciting!!!!” Tabby shrieked. “Hooray!”