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One day, Honeydew received an additional letter among her usual mail. Normally, this was an interesting development that warranted her attention, but she had noticed, off-hoof, that it was from her parents. She had deadlines, travel arrangements, and a few interesting rumors in Manehattan to investigate. Reading and responding to a letter from her parents could wait. A few days later, Honeydew returned to her apartment home in Manehattan to discover a distressed mailpony buried underneath a mountain of letters. They were all for her, and they were all from her parents. Unable to ignore a mountain of letters, Honeydew opened one. It read as follows: Dearest Honeydew, It's been one and a half months since you've written us. We're also still disappointed that you spent Hearth's Warming at our beloved farm searching for abominable snowponies. You could've at least invited your uncle to look with you. But that's neither here nor there. The point is we miss you so very, very much. We worry about you being in such a horribly big city all by yourself all the time. Won't you please visit? We want to know all about how you're doing and if you've met any special somepony yet. Surely, it wouldn't hurt to take a little time out of your busy city life to visit the ponies that raised you, cared for you, and nurtured you? Love always, Mommy and Daddy. P.S. Your uncle Cantaloupe says hi. The rest of the letters by her parents read exactly the same. Honeydew suspected something was up immediately. Usually, when her parents just wanted her to visit, they demanded it, down to specifying a date and time. This... this was a request and a guilt trip. That meant her parents didn't just want her to visit. They wanted something. Perhaps they were trying to hook her up with another random stallion they had only just met? It was anypony's guess. The other possibility was that her parents had been replaced by Changelings. This possibility was immediately dismissed upon closely inspecting the stationery and writing. So, there was only one way to find out what her parents wanted. She had to visit. She kept telling herself it was because she was curious and not because she actually felt guilty about anything. Oh no. She didn't feel guilty. At all. Really. When she arrived at the farm in the "Middle of Nowhere, Equestria," she was greeted with quick pecks on both sides of her cheeks, a small explanation, instructions for running her family's melon farm, and packed bags. And then, dust. Honeydew had only been able to utter a loud, indignant, "I don't think so!" before her parents had taken off. Of course, Honeydew could've just done the same thing and leave the farm in her uncle's hooves. She liked and trusted her uncle plenty enough... He could run the farm, and everything would work out great. It didn't take long before her conscience (which was definitely not a guilty one, not at all, really truly) reminded her that her uncle couldn't look after a plastic plant without something disastrous happening to it, let alone an entire farm. But she didn't think SHE could run the farm, either. She hadn't worked on the farm since she was a filly, and it was all such boring, boring work. As much as she hated to admit it, she needed help. Every city and town in the Strand and the neighboring areas would soon find itself flooded in "HELP WANTED" notices that offered bits and board as a reward. Advertisements for unheard-of and non-existent melon products popped up everywhere. Propaganda posters touting the benefits of melons, melon farming, "UNCLE CANTALOUPE WANTS YOU TO FIGHT FOR YOUR MELON RIGHTS" left no building uncovered. The Daily Turnip, unaware that one of its journalists was behind all of this, wrote an article about a potential invasion from sentient melon monsters. And Honeydew waited and hoped and tried to remember what basic farming and melon-raising techniques were.
The Strand (G.E. South) The southern coast of Equestria's main continent is framed by its famous white-sand beaches and dotted with fishing hamlets. Here the great open prairie and breadbasket known as the Saddleveil Plains lies dotted with splendid cities such as Fillydelphia, and Hoofington. Celestia's domain spreads even further south with the various exotic tropical Gallopocus Islands that extend almost to the lands of the Zebras. Cities of the Strand Fillydelphia - Sitting in the middle of the vast Saddleveil Plain, the city is a transport hub between the Heartland of Equestria and the Griffon lands beyond, Fillydelphia is a mid-sized urban area populated by artisans, small business, and light industry workers. With its old fashioned look and feel, Fillydelphia occupies a comfortable middle ground between the big-city bustle of Manehattan and the small-town charm of Ponyville. Baltimare - One of Equestria's preeminent ports, the affluent city of Baltimare is regarded as a major center of trade with Unyasi and the Gallopocus Islands. Tourists come to the city to board luxury cruise liners and see the famous Baltimare Boardtrot. Corralwood Corral - Equestria's ultimate tropical resort, Corralwood Corral is the most significant center of population in the Gallopocus Islands. Famous for its perfect beaches and upscale resorts, Corralwood Corral is well regarded as a prime spot for tourists. Major Natural Features Saddleveil Plains – A vast, rolling temperate grasslands punctuated by small islands of deciduous trees, the Saddleveil Plains stretches the entire length of the Strand. Most of the land is fertile and well watered, making it ideal for agriculture with all manner of farms spouting from the nearly featureless landscape. West of the Manebrush river, the plains become drier and are much better suited for grazing; many buffalo tribe wander this otherwise very sparely populated portion. Gallopocus Islands - A large grouping of islands several miles off the coast of the mainland, the Gallopocus are dominated by mountains, the greatest of which is the now extinct Thunderhoof Volcano. Hardened lava and black sand beaches play host to a wide variety of tropical flora and fauna, while small pony and hippogriff settlements adorn the coast of the various islands, the largest of which is Corralwood Corral, which serves as the central trade hub and tourist playground for the island chain. Mustangia - An open prairie that holds the richest soil in all of Equestria. Here the ponies choose to live simple lives eschewing cities and modern amenities instead deciding to be farmers or simple individuals who live entirely in tune with the wild. Okeanos - An ancient city lost to a devastating storm and submerged beneath the ocean, Okeanos is said to be full of mysteries. Adventurous ponies are known to seek the city out in hopes of unearthing its secrets. Other geographical features The coast of the Strand is punctuated by various bays. The largest of all of Equestria's bays, the Seasaddle, sits just north of the Gallopocus Islands. Known for its abundant warm, clean water and rich fisheries, Seasaddle is also the busiest body of water in all of Equestria. In addition to the largest, Seasaddle, there is also the much quieter Suntrot Bay, as well as the White Cafe Bay, the outwash for the large Manebrush River that services Fillydelphia. One of the most scenic locations in this coastal region is the Bridleback Shore, a vast beach area between Suntrot and Seasaddle that is home to many ancient ruins of mystery and legend. Another famed feature of the region is Mount Fire Foal, unlike its taller cousin, Mount Thunderhooves, Fire Foal is still an active volcano, and offers a spectacle of flaming light and color in both day and night as bright lava regularly spews froth from its fiery crater; fortunately there are no nearby settlements in danger from this cauldron of lava.
<p style="text-align: center"><img src="http://i1200.photobucket.com/albums/bb328/Thunder-Boomer/ThunderBoomerHeader.jpg" /></p> <p><span style="color: #408000">Thunder Boomer strained his wings as he blasted upward at nearly a 90 degree angle with grim determination. Around him, a black torrent raged. His muscles rippled and clenched and he fought against the onslaught of wind that threatened to blow him off course. His pelt stung as fat drops of rain and hail pounded his hide. *CRACK FOOOOM* Lightning was streaking across the sky rapidly in every direction. Thunder Boomer's heart thudded in his chest and adrenaline surged through his body as he instinctively dodged a bolt, narrowly avoiding it, and climbed ever higher. A broad grin broke out across his face. He was enjoying himself. *BOOM CRACKLE* Another bolt shot past him and he appeared to flirt with it as he dodged it with expert precision. Feeling a rush of excitement he allowed himself to roll twice in the air before catching an updraft and giving his screaming wings slight relief as he powered upward. He had been flying for some time and his breathing had become heavy and strained as he sucked in air that was becoming thin from the altitude. The peak of the cumulonimbus had to be close, he could sense an impending pressure change. Flying this high was dangerous, especially in a storm that was on the verge of becoming a supercell. Thunder Boomer gritted his teeth as his vision blurred. He blinked and shook his head. Biting his lip he willed his wings to flap harder<em>. . . just. . . a . . . little . . . further. . .</em> . . . Thunder Boomer burst though the cloud cover into clear sky and dazzling sunlight. Raindrops sprayed off his wings and sparkled like falling diamonds. He had successfully beaten the storm and emerged on the other side. Thunder Boomer performed a quick loop in celebration and landed on the top of the clouds gasping. He folded his wings and closed his eyes, desperate to catch his breath. He wouldn't though, not up here anyway. He rested in an almost-meditative state, relaxing his muscles and at least slowing his breathing slightly. He stayed in calm serenity for two minutes, three minutes. Before rolling, head forward into the cloud and plummeting, eyes still closed, back into the violent storm. He fell. Quickly, gaining speed. He kept his wings tight at his side and his eyes shut as he dropped like a stone through the dark violence surrounding him. Rain smacked his face as he continued blindly downward. Not knowing how close he was to the ground was part of the thrill. He played chicken with the earth and roulette with the lightning. Fwip! Halfway through his decent he flared his wings open as wide as they would go. They were still angled toward the ground and only served to slow his fall. The turbulence of wind off his wings sliced through the storm like a knife. In time, the result of the disturbance would be the eventual separation of the storm into two smaller, milder ones. Weather or not that was Thunder Boomer's intention was unknown. He continued to fall like this, slicing the air for what seemed like decades. Before he finally felt the tug of the impending ground below.<em> Three. . . two . . . one. . .</em> Thunder Boomer's eyes snapped open and he pulled up mere feet from the ground and shot out across the plains. He glided a far distance before angling his wingtips down and slowing his velocity. When he had reached a safe speed, he dropped lower, tucked into a ball and somersaulted across the ground until he reached a stop. Popping up into an upright position he pounded his hooves on the ground.</span> <span style="color: #0000BF">"Wooooo!"</span></p>