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It was so nice to get a time for yourself once in the while. Squall wasn't usually a pony who sought vacation often, but it was about time he and Fire got to spent some time together - especially since their wedding was approaching soon, which would be followed by honeymoon in more...exotic locations.

 

Of course he had to convince her first. After appearing in the middle of the Iron pony competition, noblepony was chewed out by his other half for disappearing with barely a word for three months, coming back like it as nothing, and looking like a beggar when he did so. After much repenting on his part on his part, Squall managed to pacify the winged mare with promise of the long delayed vacation. At this point both of them really earned it.

 

And what better place to combine far-away and familiar then Crystal Empire? The two of them didn't had a chance to visit it since the disastrous Crystal Fair during which the northern kingdom got attacked by nefarious alliance of viking caribou (later revealed to be part of separatist faction) and Ex-King Sombra (who seemed to be unkillable like a cockroach),

While Squall - being the billionaire he was - regularly sent aid in both finances and resources, it was about time to see in person how much Empire recovered since then.

 

"You know Dear, relaxing isn't so bad once you put your heart into it." Swift mused while while stretched on the most glorious couch and sipping pineapple juice. While the pair decided to use public transport this time, Swift nearly bottomless wallet meant they could easly afford the First Class tickets.

"Come to think of it...we never really toured the place, didn't we? It was either Festivals or disasters, or something else getting in the way. For once we can go as simple tourists......" unicorn said before pulling out what was Guidebook for their destination. "We will make so many photos, buy so many souvenirs...oh and I heard their cuisine is really unique. It's going to be greeeeeat!" Swift announced, clearly in high spirits. And why would he be? Squall was always looking for new experiences, and Crystal Empire was one of the places that this globetrotting pony didn't scoured top to bottom - due to obvious circumstances.

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"Yeah. Relaxing....", the mare sighed. Thankfully this was less of an sigh of woe, but one from a pony that really needed to relax.
 
She paused to sample few bits of Gorau Glas from her cheese plate. This all felt very good. "And again....I'm sorry for being such a cranky-puss to you Swifty dear.." It had been so long since they had been together.."And for your suit....I know it was very exquisite and all, and while rather durable, but it was no match for my teeth....", after being grouchy, she managed to rip his clothing off. Rather quickly. With her choppers. Maybe it was true about the rumors of her great great grandmother being part-piranha fish. Again, it had been a very long time since she spent time with her stallion. "And the couch. I had Mister Oak Branch ship it over to a friend in Ponyville. Davenport is an absolute artist when it comes to restoring antique sofas. I'm sure he'll even find the right springs to replace all the busted ones." IT WAS THREE MONTHS!
 
"And this....With all the things going on with the Twilight Guard and then Princess Celestia and Princess Luna retiring and hoofing their power to my boss...I might end up moving to Canterlot if Twilight needs me to....." Canterlot was the capitol of Equestria and to rule, one would need to live in the city. She really need to push all this worry out of her head during the vacation. Take it all out. Put it in a box. Lock that box and put that box in a safe. There we go.
 
She pressed her head against the very glorious and not broken couch.."Is good....I won't speak of work...Or drama...Or theatrics....Or even that weird little mission I went with Lady Fluttershy and this.....shadow thing....Looked like Sombra, but was not....Really. The more that I think of it...And Apple Bloom...I swear...When we have a kid, I hope he or she is like that little Apple kid...She's clever and brave and she has a cute little accent. And the Crystal Empire....Yeah, I doubt think I've been there just to bramble about and look at stuff. Usually some craziness going on..."
 
She was very comfortable at the moment. There was light music in the background and it was just the right temperature. And unlike a train, there was no movement below. No shaking or bouncing. Something her old friend Zelda was probably experiencing at the moment.  The black griffon had also made plans to visit the restored empire months before Swift Squall came up with the idea. They had plans to meet up during the last day of their stay.
 
"I can just rest here forever..Knowing you're at my side..", the mare whispered.
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"Well, it isn't that I didn't deserved it...." Swift mused. He had to admit to himself that his obsession with besting Sig...himself get a better at him at times. And when it does, almost all the logic and reason is thrown to the wind. But even then, Fire at least deserved a latter of two didn't she? A simple "I am okay." sent from Long Kong or something. Not that he was IN the Long Kong during those three months, passing through it on the way notwithstanding.....

"Dear we been over this. My 'suit' was already a bunch of rags! Lěngfēng Highlands are really not kind for Equestrian clothing...." this was true. When he appeared in Ponyville Squall looked like a hobo. At least he had a little sense to wash himself before getting itto the competitions, but still. He still recalled mare's shriek when she saw his unkempt beard...Of course she ordered him to shave it post haste....although Swift wondered if the groomed one would look good on him?

"Well I guess we overdid that a little....." noblepony admitted when crimson mare mentioned the ruined furniture. He was banished to the couch for the few days, but since they really missed each other.....

 

"I have to ask her how she is going to do this. She can't exactly tell everypony in Day and Night Guard 'Whelp, you fired.' does she? Is she going to merge them with Twilight Guard? Does that mean there will be three Captains? Are you going to take shifts?" Swift was quick to ask obvious questions.

"But honestly....I don't really believe they 'retiring for good. How can you exactly retire when your life expectancy is measured in geological terms? And Luna wasn't at the job even for a decade since her return! Sure, we might not get to see it, but give it generation or five and they will be back. Their sense of responsibility won't let them lay on their sunbeds forever, no matter how well Sparkle will fare." unicorn mused.

 

Swift however got a wee bit less relaxed when Moto mentioned Sombra.

"What do you mean like him but not him? " stallion asked his voice low. Well, lower. "Is he multiplying? Are they now multitudes of him? How many time you have to slay this bastard?!" he asked in frustration.

 

But if anyone knew how to soothe Squall's nerves quickly Fire Walker. Noblepony quickly abandoned his own coach to join his sweetheart's.

"Awww that's nice...." he expressed as the cuddled. He didn't gave two bits that they were in public sitting area. "....But if we will be like that forever , we won't get anything done, wold we?" Swift pointed out.

"This will be Best. Vacation.Ever!" he annouced, second later however in his eye appeared a glint Fire knew all too well...."And after we get back, I will finally go to Whitescar, so I can finally beat Sig.....!"

<DING-DONG!>

 

<"Attention all Passengers. We just now left Equestria air space, and are currently over territory under jurisdiction of Crystal Empire. Due to difficult weather conditions, we will be following alternate flight-path. We apologize for a delays and inconveniences resulting because of it.....">

 

"Splendid....." Squall groaned, ignoring rest of the announcement. "I should've known better and use one of my own airships for the flight. We could easily flew OVER that bad weather." noblepony whinged.

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This had been the best vacation that Toboe had been on in... ever. In all her time working in Polohama she'd never taken time off. Seeing as her time in her position was reaching its end phase she might actually be able to focus on her other interests. Being a part of that whole Iron Pony even had shown her just how out of shape she'd left herself. Toboe was still stronger than an ox, but her stamina and reflexes were starting to dull. If there was one thing she'd learned: It was she needed to get back into shape. 

 

Though, perhaps there was one more thing. From that incident at the wall climbing event, Toboe concluded she had to start learning more about herself. If a fox could disguise herself so well and produce such incredible displays such as the fire tornado at the cupcake contest... Just what could an okami do with training? Nensho was already all kinds of impressive with what he could do physically alone and speaking of Nensho. 

"Thanks again for talking me into going for this, Nensho-san." Said the kirin as she relaxed in her passenger seat, "If you hadn't dragged me from my desk I'd have probably fused to it." While the Airship's announcement played, Toboe let out a little sigh. Oh well, they  had all the time in the world to relax in first class. Maybe even enjoy the cute talk from that couple two rows ahead of them in the seats. 

 

 

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“Ha! Judging by how hard it was, I thought you already had.” Nensho smiled as he elbowed her playfully. This had been a great trip so far. He may not have won any events, but at least he had had fun with Toboe. Now though, on their way to the next stop on their trip, he had a lot to think about. Especially his talk with that fox... maybe he should let her know how he felt and just deal with the consequences. Where to do it though? This didn’t seem like the best place for it, that much was for sure. 

 

“Well, I’m glad I managed it, I’ve had fun so far, and it looked like you needed it.” He turned back to her, smiling again as he put a leg around her. 

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“Was it?”, she blinked at the silly stallion. “I just had assumed you said that as not to hurt my feelings.”, she fluttered her eyelashes at her special pony before snatching up a bit more cheese. “Thought you were trying out a bit of ‘modern dress’. Never could understand it...”, she chuckled, “A few weeks ago Docket and I attended one of those runway model events in Manehattan....Not sure who the fashion designer was. But it was crazy..Just such odd dresses....One even wore what I was pretty sure was just a long bit of tooth floss..And when she turned , it just went into her...Like 'swoop'", she made the sound affect. "We later found out the 'dress' was going for over ten thousand bits and the entire line had sold out by then....Just hope they didn't sell the one the model had on...Yeck.."
 
She took a sip from her glass, which oddly enough contained only apple juice crossed with cherry juice. During her time in Ponyville, it had became an popular little drink she enjoyed while on the 'clock'. "There's only a few ponies in the 'Twilight Guard' and most had already been in the R.E.A. So it would be a smooth transition back into the fold....But for now, things have been so crazy, I haven't asked Princess Twilight.....As for the Princesses...I have no idea what they're up too...Had hoped if they retired, the whole kingdom would be returned to we mortals, like it used to be, but Twilight? She's a smart girl, but hardly a politician."
 
More talk of Sombra sparked a bit of fire in her eyes.."It's just so bizarre...He did return and from what I've heard, he was outright blown to pieces by our favorite purple princess....Apparently he tried to use her niece as a shield and she did not take too kindly to it...", she shook her head, "We are ponies...Adorable and friendly, but you mess with our family and that's the end of yah.." Oh wait, there was a bit of bourbon in this. No matter she was feeling a bit odd.
 
"I helped find some lost critters with Lady Fluttershy and some farmers...For some reason, a creature who called himself Sombra was there..But he wasn't evil. Just...Erm..", she paused to think of the right word, "More like a gloomy dark  teenaged pony who all the sweet and innocent young mares would fall in love with...In young adult novels. That I have never read..Nope.", she added a chuckle. "If he was evil, Wind Walker's dog, Mr Gumby, who was with me, would have jumped on him....So still trying to figure out what had happened.", she leaned into the cuddle.
 
She smiled before she took another sip....And something he said struck her as odd.. "Sig?", Did he mean Chieftain Sigrun? She had not seen the impressive Caribou in ages. How was she doing? Was it the wedding she last ran into the Chieftain?

Before her question could be answered, a rather annoying voice came in on the intercom. "Oh, fuzzy under cranky keisters....", she had been working on her swearing lately. "I hope they didn't break the Crystal Heart again....I heard the weather went from horrid to abhorrent the last time it happened." ,At leas they had each other...As she pondered life, she spotted some Kirin...What gorgeous creatures...She smiled at the stallion as he did one thing he really should not have done. He cursed the vacation. They were doomed.
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Swift could only roll his eyes when Fire got all coquettish on him. "Like I would lie about that. Besides...." he waved his hoof. "...you of all ponies should know how conservative I am when choosing my clothing." he lampshaded.

Thankfully the conversation shifted from what he was wearing that day, to what ponies were wearing on the catwalk when getting paid.....

"You do wonder why exactly it costs ten grand. Certainly not for materials or coverage, when roll of toilet paper can provide more of both." noblepony shook his head

"I don't see my company ever investing into fashion. Most of the time it walks too close to the edge of madness for my liking."

 

Unicorn shook his head in disagreement when Moto mentioned the possibility of returning to Pre-Princesses system of leadership.

"First of, if crown was abolished, you can bet that the Equestria nobility would size power immediately after. And I don't have to explain how shady oligarchy is when you look at Aquelia and Kastort." Swift mentioned two nations who were examples of just that. "Second...well I am sorry to say it, but most ponies can't face throwing a punch, much less dealing with hard decisions that would affect lives of millions..." noblepony paused to take a deep breath. "And third - for being your boss, you give Sparkle very little credit Moto. She's far more insightful then others assume. Just smart enough not to spill how much she knows when it would be harmful, because she is aware that knowing is half the battle. She's 'cornered rattlesnake' type of leader Dear. At first she will panic and freak out, but after the threshold is passed she shows how truly capable she really is. Also noticed how strong ties she and her friends managed to form with Seaquestria, New Changeling Kingdom, Yakistan and Griffonstone. The last one may be at price of Aquelia getting much colder with us. But then again, you say they aren't much of an ally in a first place, seeing that they didn't lift a talon when Storm King invaded. At least Whitescar has justification of dealing with a civil-war in all but name....." Swift mused, finishing his political rant.

 

"We had similar discussion in the past Dear. The only difference is, it was third time he was 'outright blown to pieces'. I want to believe it sticks this time, but won't be surprised if it doesn't."

Swift could only smirk when crimson mare described their kin. Pretty accurately actually.

" The term denizens of Long Guo would use would be 'Silk Hiding Steel'.......does that mean I am not allowed to teass and snark at your brothers anymore?" he joked.

 

"..........." Swift pondered what Fire said about this another 'Sombra' with troubled expression. but no matter what, he couldn't get an fitting answer besides a rather flimsy theory.

"....Perhaps...he only believes he is Sombra. Dark Magic can do some...disturbing things to you, even if not used with malevolent intent. He could be unicorn that used it so much that he started to look and believe himself to be a tyrant." Swift proposed.

"If he really was him, I am sure he would recognize and acknowledge you, even if just to torment you further. After all you ran into him twice before, which is more then most can say....."

 

While Swift didn't commented on Fire's mention of Crystal Heart, he followed her gaze. Kirin? Quite a distance for their homeland. He would much sooner expect to bump into one in Manhattan or Canterlot than on the way to Empire - especially since it was still relatively new, for an 'attraction'. Not many foreign tourist-guides mentioned it yet.

That aside....as he stared at the two, Swift couldn't help but feel some familiarity with one of the two, the quirin mare. Noblepony tiled his head in contusion.....have they met before?

 

His thoughts were quickly disturbed however, when he saw Fire's serens smile being replaced by wide eyed look of horror.

"What? WHAT? Is that something I sa....." he stopped when he realized what it was.

"Oh come on Dear....Narrative Causality?  This isn't a play we watched last week. Unless Gramps put spell on us thinking it would be funny. Wouldn't put it above him." he said, and as if on command , airship tildes on the side by 30 degrees.....

".....Perhaps he did, seeing that we going to go down, but it's no reason to believe it has relation to what I said earlier....." a 'groan' of metal could be heard from the outside, followed by a loud scrunch and flashing of large shape near the window.

"......or to dismiss it.....See? This was clearly one of the rotors. Clearly a shoddy job, wouldn't have happened if my TEMPEST build this vessel. I mean, how old it is? Ponies these days are trying to cut costs at everything." Swift mumbled before he got up and turned around to addressed the room.

"Attention please. The bad news is that we going to crash. The good news is, Me and My fiancee been through this before - few times in fact - so we will walk you through. The even better news is, nopony is going to die. Unless you are a lawyer. Or tax collector. Or your term of retirement is coming shortly. Also, all of you you probably should put something warm on." stallion said.

 

And then airship was TORN IN HALF, by the rough winds, and Swift fell into unconsciousness.....

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Toboe was only able to get a single word before the ship split in half with a gut churning crack. That word was, "What?" said in a worried, but simultaneously exasperated tone.  She'd been hoping to get the crystal empire for so long. When she heard about that train losing a car on the way to the empire she thought she and Nensho had dodged a bullet. Seems fate had other plans for these two visitors... to be involved in a different crash!

 

When She and Nensho fell from the plane, all she could see was a blur of colors as they plummeted through the air. Before the thin air of this high altitude stole away her waking mind, she could only see a nearly endless expanse of white.

 

Then darkness. 

 

...

 

Then there was a chill in the air. Wherever Toboe landed it was certainly cold. For the moment she didn't quite have the strength to open her eyes. It wouldn't be long until she did but right now she was still trying to get feeling back in her legs to stand back up. She sniffed quickly at the air and recoiled as the biting cold felt as if it was freezing the inside of her nostrils. Bringing up a paw to shield her muzzle she flinched, realizing it was a paw she'd brought up! The impact of stress of the fall and shock of the landing must have knocked her out of her kirin disguise. 

 

Trying to get back in her previous shape would be difficult. Getting it just right required her to be able to see how she looked, at least for such a new shape as "Tokkuri". Trying to go back to her usual look would bring up a couple questions later if she ran into anyone. She couldn't hear any movements nearby so maybe someone might not catch her this exposed. 

 

She couldn't quite tell if anything or anypony was nearby. For now her sight was just a mess of colors, slowly assembling into a fuzzy image of her surrounding. Turning away from the cold wind she sniffed at the ground, trying to get a sense if Nensho or any other passengers were near. This cold air making it harder to catch a singular scent...

 

Spoiler

Feel free to prove her wrong about anyone being nearby!

 

 

Edited by Pretzelparty
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“Really?” Nensho asked incredulously, the only thing he could get out before the plane disappeared and he found himself free-falling. Course, he didn’t stay conscious for long from the combination of the thin air, the cold, and the shock. 

 

One second, all he could hear and feel was the wind rushing past him, and the next all he could feel was cold and everything was dark. He began trying to warm himself with magic, and it just made him feel wetter. He kept going though, knowing he could dry himself off. 

 

Soon enough, a pile of snow near Toboe began steaming and collapsed to reveal something mostly just as white as the snow, aside from the red flame patterns. The wolf got up eventually, shaking himself off before looking around for other survivors. Spotting Toboe, his scarf flared to life, floating above his neck as he ran over and hugged her. 

 

“I’m so glad you’re ok, Toboe.” He said, unwilling to let go just yet. 

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"Yes....And I'm just as bad...", the mare whinnied, "I'm either in my dress uniform, my dress-dress, or my dress armor. All very well and proper...But sometimes you want to be a little risky...", next time she gets her beloved green stallion over to Ponyville, she would need to take him to see Velvet and her little store. If anyone could get an conservative stallion to dress all crazy like, it would be her.
 
She chuckled, "It's not so much the materiel....I believe it was fine Corinthian tissue paper....And it's tor coverage either, it was all about who made it....And as most fashion designers, this one was a bit of a looney....This Whackett Buzzard Stubble had never been seen outside of a small box she lives in...She has ponies who push her box on a wagon about...And she comminutes through birdcalls and box shakings. All very odd. I just hope they had cut holes In her box."
 
Oh bugger. She really needed to not talk politics. Ever. She had heard this all before. "Equestria Nobility?", she sighed, "Not sure there's much left of our old royal family.....I believe Blueblood..Or Bluebelle...is what's left. The others, I'm sure are just sell made millionaires and their hangers on...As for us...Ponies....We've been protected for so long...By heroes...Alicorns....We'll all need to leap into reality one day...Might skin our knees in the process, but we'll have to learn to stand on our own four hooves..", she took a sip from her glass. "I just feel bad for Princess Twilight and her friends....But especially Twilight..Poor girl works so hard....And we're about the same age, and she's never had a date that I know of..Or probably even a day for herself....She was thrust into the toughest school at such an early age and was even given a dragon baby to look after, when she was practically a baby..."
 
She nodded her head as the unicorn spoke of her 'Sombra'. What a weird, weird day that was. "He seemed to be a bit more solid...And I had planned to see if he had a navel...But never could find the time with all the running about.  Maybe the 'Blue Fairy' turned him into a real boy?" As she pondered this all, the intercom sparked back to life with an even worse message. That couldn't be the captain. He was a tad bit silly. Maybe they had been hijacked?
 
This thought quickly ended as the ship decided it had enough and parted.
 
The first thing on the mare's mind was her stallion who already felt the lack of breathable oxygen and quickly went under. Pegasus ponies could handle this sort of thing better, but not for long. This was much higher than they tended to fly. But she needed to save him. At any cost.
 
Fire Walker quickly wrapped her legs around the unconscious pony and spread out her wings. She might not be able to hold him for long....Oh dear...She was already out like a light.
 
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The Pegasus mare woke up. She did not care that she could not see. Nor did she care that her wings were screaming in agony or she felt warm blood on her body. Not a pleasant feeling...What she did care was...."Swift!", she called out. And good gravy, it was cold outside!
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