FRIENDSHIP MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE
The loud ringing of the alarm clock woke him up! His taloned hand reached out from under the bed sheets to stop it. He groaned as he slowly stirred to life. It was 7:30 AM, and he had to get up and get ready for his day.
He was Karkovice Drake, a 10 foot tall middle aged dragon with red coloured scales, jet black horns and similarly coloured chest plates that ran from the bottom of his throat all the way down to the tip of his tail. The talons on his hands were also jet black, and he kept them trimmed and dulled down, so he would not damage anything, or harm anyone.
He lived in the same old townhouse in Canterlot he had lived in since he moved to Equestria so very long ago. He became a Quartermaster for The Dragon Army when he was very young. Then he became a Diplomat, and made himself a sort of Friendship Ambassador to Equestria, even though the old Dragon Lord was not too keen on the idea. He made it his own personal life mission to forge peace between the dragons of The Dragon Lands and the ponies of Equestria.
This was where he had decided to move to Canterlot, and he would soon become good friends with The Royal Sisters, Princess Celestia and Princess Luna. There were even rumors that he and Princess Luna were in a relationship, though this was never substantiated. Of all the ponies he had become friends with over the years, he was able to relate to Princess Luna the most; because they were both "aliens in their own worlds". They had that kind of connection!
Then came the day Princess Celestia told him of a particular young filly unicorn in her School For Gifted Unicorns that showed an especially large talent for magic, and she asked Kark if he could tutor the young student, who seemed to show an eagerness to learn. At first, he was not sure if it would work, as all he really knew was dragon lore and history and so called "high strangeness" stories(ghosts, monsters, strange phenomena and such). Princess Celestia said "Then that's what I want you to teach her."
So it came to be that Kark would tutor the young Twilight Sparkle on the subject matter after her regular magic classes. Within the first few tutoring sessions, he soon realized that this young unicorn filly was not only eager to learn, but eager to PLEASE. He had never met a finer student in his life!
He also soon realized that this purple coloured unicorn was ALSO an "alien in her own world" that didn't seem to have any interests outside of her regular studies. He often found her in a small corner of The Canterlot Library reading books on warm sunny days rather than being outside playing, like many ponies her age tended to do; so he took it upon himself to try to teach this young filly how to "let loose, max and relax" as a way to balance her life. He felt he had some SMALL success in that area, and they soon had more than the tutor/student relationship between them, they soon built that intellectual rapport; as Kark, too, liked to learn new things, and Twilight taught HIM a thing or two.
Years went by, and he watched this filly grow into a fine young mare who learned more and more about the ways of friendship as the days and months went by. Then one day, the impossible happened! After completing a complicated spell started by Starswirl The Bearded, her role model in the ways of magic, all those years ago; Princess Celestia rewarded her by changing her into an ALICORN. This came as quite a surprise to Kark. He had always known that Twilight Sparkle would be destined for greatness, but NEVER in his wildest dreams did he think that she would eventually grow a pair of wings!
A short time later, she would then become the official Princess Of Friendship for all of Equestria, and would set up her palace on the outskirts of Ponyville not long after that. Karkovice knew, as everypony else in Equestria knew, that this once obscure bookworm unicorn had fulfilled her destiny!
Then came the day the old Dragon Lord decided to retire, and pass on the leadership of the dragons to somedragon else. Kark had always been loyal to the old Dragon Lord, even though he barely tolerated Kark and his peaceful ways. The leadership of the dragons would eventually be given to his daughter, Princess Ember. At first, Kark wouldn't recognize her authority; but later on, as he got to know the new Dragon Lord, he came to see her as someone to be trusted, and who had good judgment, when it came to the well being of dragons everywhere, despite her young age and inexperience in leadership.
Finally, about a year and a half ago, Princess Twilight Sparkle decided to open up a school where the ways of friendship can be taught. After many trials and tribulations, the School Of Friendship was opened for business, and this attracted beings from all over the world looking to learn about the ways of friendship Twilight Sparkle herself had learned over the years.
Twilight herself had asked Kark to be a Professor at her school, and teach Dragon Lore and History to other young students. Kark didn't hesitate to jump at the chance at being part of this wonderful school Twilight had built with her own blood, sweat and tears. He had asked Twilight if he could teach a "High Strangeness" class. Twilight giggled and said "Sure! Why not?"
This morning, though, Kark was still feeling groggy as he crawled out of bed. Kark would sometimes feel that way, even after a good night's sleep; but it was nothing that a good cup of coffee... and a splash of cold water, wouldn't fix.
He made his way to the bathroom, and turned on the sink faucet. Indoor plumbing is probably the greatest invention since sliced bread! He playfully thought to himself. Canterlot, being a modern city, would carry such amenities in almost every dwelling, as was the case in Kark's townhouse. As soon as he felt the ice cold water on his taloned hands, he splashed a few cupped handfuls to his face, and soon found himself a little bit more invigorated. He then grabbed a nearby towel to dry his face.
When he finally looked in the mirror, he gasped in shock! His normally jet black horns, which he kept polished and sanded smooth, were flashing on and off red! He had never seen this before; however, it looked awfully familiar. He had seen something similar, but on PONIES; so he knew exactly who to see about this...
My little pony, my little pony
AH AH AH AAAAH
My little pony
I used to wonder what friendship could be(my little pony)
Until you all shared its magic with me
Tons of fun
A beautiful heart
Faithful and strong
Sharing kindness, it's an easy feat
And magic makes it all complete, YES!
My little pony
Do you know you are my very best friends!
Without hesitation, he made his way to Ponyville, and to Twilight Sparkle's palace. If there was anyone who could figure out what was causing this to his horns, it would be HER. He got some curious looks from a group of Pegasi ponies he flew by on his way to Ponyville, but he barely noticed. He was too focused on reaching Twilight's palace, and the answer to this strange phenomenon.
He landed in front of the doors of the palace, and gently pushed them open. The large doors were always kept unlocked during the day, and were big enough to allow even the largest dragons to enter. At 10 feet tall, Kark was average sized for a dragon.
He soon found Twilight in the throne room. She was sitting in her own throne reading a book, like she usually does at this time of the day. He noticed that The Cutie Map on the large conference table was on. The Cutie Map was a holographic representation of the world that always switched on whenever there was a so-called friendship mission going on, or about to be undertaken.
"AHEM... uhh... Twilight?" Kark said to get her attention.
"KARK, my old friend! Good morning! What a pleasant surprise." she said without looking up from her book. "What do we owe the..." Twilight was stunned when she finally looked up at Kark, and noticed his flashing red horns, as well as Kark's worried look. "Well, THAT explains everything!" she then said in a knowing tone.
"Excuse me!?" Kark asked in confusion.
"Come here, Kark. There's something you should see." She motioned Kark over to The Cutie Map, and pointed with her hoof to a particular spot on the table.
Kark saw that she was pointing to a scale model of Mount Aris, the recently reclaimed home of the hippogriffs. After the defeat of The Storm King, the hippogriffs(who had been turned into sea ponies by their matriarch, Queen Novo, to escape The Storm King's Army) took back their ancestral home and restored it to its former glory. That is, according to Twilight herself, who went to Mount Aris a little over a year ago with The Cutie Mark Crusaders- three young filly friends of hers – who were sent there by The Cutie Map on their own friendship mission.
Kark noticed something very familiar hovering over Mount Aris, and he recognized it instantly. "Do you recognize that symbol?" Twilight asked.
"Yes!" Kark replied. "That's The Drake Family Crest or Coat Of Arms."
It WAS, in fact, his family crest! It showed a black dragon with white eyes holding a broadsword high in the air in one taloned hand, as well as a shield bearing the Fleur-De-Lys symbol in the other hand against a red background. In ancient times, all the knights of the Drake family beared this symbol on their shields and their armor.
"But what does it mean!?" Kark asked Twilight.
"It MEANS that you've been called on a FRIENDSHIP MISSION!" Twilight replied proudly.
"I HAVE?" Kark said in confusion.
"Mm hmm!" Twilight simply smiled.
"But... I thought only PONIES could be called on missions like that!"
"The Cutie Map is actually free to call upon ANYONE it wants to on a friendship mission, regardless of the species." Twilight shrugged.
"WOW..." Kark said in astonishment. "And that would explain my flashing horns?"
Twilight nodded. "Yes! Since dragons don't have cutie marks, what other visible body part would glow when called upon?
"RIIIIGHT..." Kark slowly said. "And I can't back out of it, can I?"
"Nope!" Twilight shook her head.
In the back of his mind, the question Why me!? Was floating around. Kark finally sighed. "All right, but it seems I won't be going ALONE, will I?" Kark nodded towards the OTHER symbol hovering next to his.
"Apparently NOT." Twilight said. "The Cutie Map always seems to call at least TWO creatures to go on a friendship mission."
"Any idea who that other symbol belongs to?" Kark asked.
"I don't know!" Twilight admitted. "It's definitely NOT a cutie mark." Twilight was pensive. "I'd say that it's another family crest."
"THAT I have yet to figure out..."
"I don't think it belongs to a DRAGON. It doesn't look very dragon like..."
"I agree... I'd daresay that it belonged to a GRIFFIN!"
Twilight was right! The symbol looked very griffin like. It depicted a black griffin or eagle type figure grouping together three distinct runes with his clawed hands against a yellow background.
"WHICH griffin!?" Kark asked.
"I don't know..." Twilight admitted. "But I think we'll soon find out."
Meanwhile, at Twilight's School Of Friendship, Gallus Gruff was stepping out of the dormitory building where he stayed, and made his way towards the main schoolhouse for his morning classes. When he moved to Ponyville to attend the school, he took up a single room at the co ed dorm, and that has been his home for the past year and a half.
Ever since he came to the new school to learn the ways of friendship, he has tried his darnedest to be a top notch student, and he always finished among the top ten of his class.
As he walked into the main schoolhouse, he immediately went to find his friends; and he soon found them in the main hall just hanging out. Classes were scheduled to start in about a half an hour, so there was still some time to shoot the breeze with this diverse group of creatures whom he came to value as dear friends.
"Hey, guys!" He called out to them as he approached.
"Hey, Gallus!" they all replied, almost in unison.
"So what fun filled friendship lesson are we gonna learn today?" Gallus asked casually.
The dragon girl Smolder spoke up. "I hear Professor Pinkie Pie's gonna show us just how much confetti her party cannon Big Bertha can shoot in the air!"
"OOH! I'm SO looking forward to THAT!" the hippogriff girl, Silver Stream, said in her usual excited voice.
"Yona think Professor Pinkie Pie class is BEST CLASS!" the rather large yak girl exclaimed.
"Hey, Gallus! What's wrong with your foot?" Ocellus, a diminutive changeling girl, asked as she looked down.
"My foot?" Gallus lifted up his right hind foot, and was shocked to see that it was flashing on and off red.
"WHOA! What IS it!?" Sandbar, the pony male of group, asked in amazement.
"I... I have no idea..." Gallus admitted. "I've never seen anything like this before..."
"Yona not see this EITHER... even among YAKS..."
"Does it hurt?" Ocellus asked.
"No." Gallus replied. "There's no pain. So whatever it is, it can't be harmful..."
Silver Stream and Smolder were too stunned for words.
"I think you should go see Mistress Twilight Sparkle. SHE'D might know what it is." Sandbar suggested.
"Right! See you all later..." Gallus then quickly headed out of the schoolhouse, and on to Twilight's palace.
He arrived there within minutes and dashed through the front doors. He figured Twilight would be in the throne room, so he immediately made his way towards it. As he walked through the doorway, he noticed that Twilight and Professor Kark were there gazing at a particular spot on the holographic Cutie Map that covered the entire conference table that was set up.
"Uhh... Mistress Twilight?" He began. "I was told that you'd might be able to explain THIS." He showed them his glowing foot.
Both Kark and Twilight blinked knowingly at the each other. "WELL, Kark, it looks like we now know who's going to accompany you on this friendship mission..."
"WHAT!?" Gallus exclaimed. "What are you talking about!?"
"Come here, Gallus. There's something I want to show you." Twilight motioned for Gallus to approach The Cutie Map. As he got beside Twilight, she pointed towards the spot she and Kark were gazing at. "Does that symbol mean anything to you?"
Gallus nodded. "Yeah. That's the Gruff Family Crest."
Twilight smiled. "That settles it. Looks like your BOTH going on this friendship mission!"
"Whoa, whoa! HOLD ON!" Gallus exclaimed. "I want an EXPLANATION! What's a friendship mission? Why me? Why Professor Kark?"
Twilight Sparkle would explain to Gallus that he and Kark were called upon to go to Mount Aris on a friendship mission, and what it entailed.
"But... can The Cutie Map DO that!?" Gallus asked.
"Apparently, it CAN." Kark replied.
"And I can't decline this mission?" Gallus asked.
Twilight smiled and shook her head.
Gallus sighed. "Great..."
"Hey! Look at it THIS way, Galli: It'll be like going on a friendship FIELD TRIP." Kark smiled.
"Okay, now that you two males agreed to this-"
"Well, we don't seem to have a CHOICE, do we?" Gallus asked.
"RIGHT. We'll need to make arrangements for you two to leave for Mount Aris. I'll arrange for the both of you to leave from the Ponyville train station tomorrow, and I'll notify Queen Novo that you'll be arriving there the next day. Of COURSE, you'll both need time off school. I'll give you both a one week leave of absence. THAT should give you enough time to find the friendship problem at Mount Aris, solve it, and then get back here."
"Humpf!" Gallus crossed his forearms with an upset look on his face.
"Aw, don't worry, Galli! It'll be FUN." Kark said as he patted his shoulder.
"I wish I shared YOUR optimism..." Gallus mused.
"Well, we'll just have to WORK on that, won't we?" Kark smiled.
"Okay! I'll see you both off tomorrow. OH, and I guess you can take today off as well to get ready for your journey."
"Okay, Twilight." Kark said. "OH, by the way, how do we make THIS stop?" Kark asked as he pointed to his still blinking horns.
"OH! You have to tell the Cutie Map that you accept the friendship mission you've been given. That's all!"
"Okay... Cutie Map, I accept this mission!" As soon as Kark said that, his horns stopped glowing.
"I accept as well." Gallus said, and his right hind foot stopped glowing, much to his relief.
"Your body parts will start glowing again once you've completed your mission."
Kark nodded. "Understood."
"Meet me here at 8:00 AM tomorrow where I'll take you to the train station."
"Okay, Mistress Twilight." Gallus said.
Both males then left to return home and get ready for the journey they were about to undertake.
The next morning, as previously agreed upon, both males convened at Twilight's palace where she then took them to the train station to see them off. She had already arranged to have the tickets for each of them, and she took advantage of the situation to give them some last minute instructions.
When the train's conductor shouted "ALL ABOARD!", Kark and Gallus knew it was their cue to board the train before it left.
"Good luck you two!" Twilight said to them.
"We won't let you down, Mistress Twilight!" Gallus said.
"We'll do our best. Don't you worry." Kark said calmly as he smiled to the Princess.
"I look forward to your report!" Twilight said as she smiled and waved to them.
The two were quick to find a bench that was large enough for the both of them.
"So what do you plan to do once we get there, Professor Kark?" Gallus asked.
"Well, I plan to go through proper channels. I'll try to seek an audience with Queen Novo, IF that hasn't already been arranged. Twilight sent advanced word that we we're coming."
"How do you think we'll be welcomed?" Gallus asked.
Kark smiled. "We'll see."
The trip itself took almost 16 hours to get there, with several stops along the way. By the time they arrived at the Mount Aris train station, the train was packed full of creatures of all kinds. Kark and Gallus saw not only ponies, but griffons, yaks, a few dragons, changelings... and, oddly enough, HIPPOGRIFFS. Even though their island home was described as a virtual paradise, some of them allowed themselves to travel. They appeared to Kark and Gallus as being quite tall and elegant, a TRULY noble race!
When they finally caught sight of Mount Aris, both males were AWESTRUCK by the sheer size of the mountain itself! It looked to Kark and Gallus to be about a couple of miles high, and maybe four to five miles high. The scale model of The Cutie Map depicted it as only a few inches high. Those creatures who were going there as tourists were snapping away with their cameras. Kark and Gallus didn't bring cameras with them, however; so they couldn't take any pictures.
When they finally arrived at the train station and got off, they could see that it was a REALLY busy place! News of Mount Aris being a virtual paradise seemed to have reached the far corners of the world, as creatures of all kinds were there to experience all that Mount Aris had to offer.
At the far left end of train dock, Kark caught sight of three hippogriff males wearing gold plated armor and carrying long spears. He tapped Gallus on the shoulder and pointed. "I think that's our welcoming committee."
"Are you sure?" Gallus asked.
"Positive!" Kark said, and started to walk towards the hippogriff trio. Gallus followed behind.
The hippogriff trio looked pretty regal in their armor! The one of the left had a reddish brown coat with light blue mane and tail, the middle one was light blue with off white mane and tail, and the one on the right was cream coloured with light green mane and tail, and was a little bit shorter than the other two.
Kark and Gallus slowly approached the trio without saying a word.
The one in the middle, who was the leader, stepped forward. "Are you Karkovice Drake and Gallus Gruff?" he asked.
Kark nodded. " Yes."
The hippogriff male smiled, adopted a booming voice and exclaimed. "WELCOME TO MOUNT ARIS! I am Sky Beak, Captain of Her Majesty Queen Novo's Royal Guard! You are MOST welcome here."
He then placed his fist to his chest and bowed. Kark and Gallus returned the bow, which pleased Sky Beak greatly.
Prior to leaving, Princess Twilight told Kark and Gallus that this grand gesture was the hippogriffs' official salute to honored strangers, and returning the gesture was a sign of respect.
"Queen Novo awaits you atop Mount Aris. If you'll follow us, please?" Sky Beak and the other two guards then took flight headed towards the top of Mount Aris. Kark and Gallus took flight behind them.
Their bird's eye view of Mount Aris was quite remarkable. They saw a winding road that foot travelers could use to get to the top. Kark figured that it would take a ground creature, like an earth pony, about 30 to 40 minutes to get to the top... and get a good workout at the same time. The mountain itself seemed to be on a steep incline. They could see the village at the top of the mountain that was bordered by a protective gate that was probably closed at night. The left and the right side of the mountain looked to be heavily forested.
"So how fares my daughter at Princess Twilight's school nowadays?" Sky Beak asked Kark.
"Silver Stream? Just GREAT!" Kark replied. "She's paying attention in class, is getting good grades, and is learning something new every day!"
"EXCELLENT!" Sky Beak exclaimed proudly.
"And you have a son, too, I believe?" Kark asked.
Sky Beak nodded. "Terramar."
"YES. Princess Twilight told me about him. How's things between you two?"
"NEVER BETTER!" Sky Beak said happily. "Ever since the intervention from those three pony fillies, me and Terramar have gotten along SWIMMINGLY."
"Good!" Kark said. In the back of Kark's mind, however, he was hoping that the relationship between Sky Beak and his son had become strained again, and that he and Gallus were sent to Mount Aris to solve this new friendship problem. So much for THAT lead... Kark thought to himself. "I'd like to meet Terramar." He said.
"Well, he's off visiting his mother in Seaquestria for a few days..." Sky Beak admitted.
"Seaquestria? OH YES! That underwater world your sea pony counterparts live in. Princess Twilight told me about THAT as well."
"YEEEEESSSS. It's another part of what makes this part of the world a virtual PARADISE. If you and your young griffin friend would like to visit, I can arrange it. Of course, you'll both have to be changed into SEA PONIES before you go..."
Gallus' eyes grew wide at the mention of this.
"Well, there's a PROBLEM with that, unfortunately" Kark was quick to admit. "While ponies are able to channel the magical energy contained in the pearl shard you have on your necklaces, dragons and griffins CAN'T, because... were NOT magical beings!" Kark smiled and shrugged.
"Oh. A shame..." Sky Beak said sadly. "Well, if you're both are gonna be here for a few days, he should be back at Mount Aris on Wednesday."
"We're here for as long as there's a friendship problem to solve." Kark smiled.
"Well, as long as you're here, we shall extend you EVERY hospitality we have to offer. There's our landing!" Sky Beak pointed, and started to descend. Kark and Gallus followed their lead.
They landed in the middle of the hippogriff village's town square. Kark noticed that there was a large gathering of hippogriffs, and that he and Gallus were standing at the edge of a red carpet. It led to a set of concrete steps that had an altar at the top. In front of the altar, however, sat Queen Novo Herself on a makeshift throne. She was in her hippogriff form, and there were other hippogriff guards in the same gold plated armor that Sky Beak was wearing, and carrying long spears, standing on either side of the red carpet. Kark imagined that the altar was probably used for some sort of divine worship, under normal circumstances.
Sky Beak motioned for Kark and Gallus to follow him up the red carpet.
"I'll do the talking..." Kark whispered to Gallus.
"Won't argue with you THERE, Professor." Gallus whispered back.
When they arrived at the foot of the steps, they stopped. Sky Beak put his fist to his chest place, and bowed deeply before his matriarch. "YOUR MAJESTY, may I present Karkovice Drake from The Dragon Lands and Gallus Gruff from The Griffon Kingdom!"
Both Kark and Gallus bowed to Queen Novo in the same gesture Sky Beak just did.
Queen Novo spoke. "We welcome thee to Mount Aris. How may we be of service?"
Kark stepped forward, bowed again, and spoke. "Your Majesty, we have been sent here by Princess Twilight Sparkle herself on a FRIENDSHIP MISSION."
Some murmuring could be heard among the crowd of gathered hippogriffs.
Queen Novo raised an eyebrow. "Indeed."
"Have you heard of anyone among your subjects who would have a friendship problem that needs solving?" Kark asked.
"I am sorry, Mr. Drake, but I have not heard of whom among my subjects would have a friendship problem that they would need help in solving; yet one must exist, seeing as you and your young griffin friend are here."
From behind the throne, a young female hippogriff that looked to be about the same age as Silver Stream peeked out. She had a light yellow coat with light blue mane and tail, and an orange beak. She wore a multi coloured seashell necklace that had her pearl shard in the middle, and she had a pink rose in her mane. She gasped as she caught sight of Kark and Gallus.
"Is that a REAL adult dragon and teen aged griffin!?" she exclaimed in excitement.
She immediately flew down to hover in front of them. "I am SOOOO pleased to meet you two! I'm Princess Skystar and... OOH! I have a MILLION BILLION questions I want to ask both of you... I don't know where to BEGIN!" She giggled.
Kark and Gallus were taken aback by this display. The teen aged hippogriff hovered so close to Kark, that he could actually see the freckles on her face.
"SKYSTAR!" Queen Novo called out harshly. Skystar turned to see the stern look on her mother's face. She pointed to the right of the throne as if to say "THIS is your spot, and you're not supposed to move from there!"
"Sorry, mommy!" Skystar sadly flew back to take her place next to her mother.
"You MUST forgive my daughter. She is... INFINITELY curious... especially around creatures she has never seen before, such as yourselves..."
Kark smiled. "No need to apologize, Your Majesty. I've seen firsthand how... EXCITABLE... some of these young 'griffs can be..." He then developed a more serious tone. "But I must ask again if you've heard of ANYONE among your subjects who has a friendship problem that needs solving... even if it's just a rumor?"
Queen Novo shook her head. "I apologize again, Sir Dragon... but I have not personally heard of anything... not even RUMORS..."
Kark looked dissapointed.
"But I have noticed that, when you Equestrians are on a friendship quest, the problem eventually finds YOU." Queen Novo smiled.
Kark took this as a sign of encouragement, and smiled back.
"In the meantime, you and your young companion here are most welcome into my realm, and we shall extend you every courtesy."
"I thank you, Your Majesty." Kark said as he bowed again. Gallus copied Kark. Sky Beak placed his fist to his chest plate again and bowed to his matriarch, then they walked back the way they came.
"Mother, may I attend the evening meal at the communal hall so I can ask my... IMPORTANT questions to the dragon and the griffin?" Princess Skystar have her mother a pleading look.
Queen Novo sighed. "If you must..."
Princess Skystar squealed in delight. "THANK YOU, mommy!" Then she jumped up and hugged her.
"SKYSTAAAAR, not while I'm on the THRONE!" Queen Novo exclaimed as she pushed her daughter away.
"Sorry, mommy... AGAIN..." Skystar said sadly.
Queen Novo groaned. "What AM I going to do with you!?"
As the trio reached the end of the carpet, Sky Beak said "The evening meal is scheduled to be served at the communal hall in about two hours. Until then, you're both free to explore, if you'd like."
Kark smiled. "I think we WILL!"
"May I recommend Harmonizing Heights?"
"Harmonizing...? OH YES! Princess Twilight ALSO spoke to me about that. Yes, I think we'll check it out!"
Sky Beak smiled. "It's over THAT way. You can't miss it!"
"All right. C'mon, Gallus!" Kark motioned for the young griffin to follow him as they made their way towards Harmonizing Heights.
As soon as Kark and Gallus crossed the archway that led to Harmonizing Heights, they were immediately mesmerized by what was probably the best looking scenery they've ever gazed upon! There were beautiful trees with thick foliage everywhere, lush green grass, singing birds of all kinds flying here and there, and a bubbling stream that ran right through the center of the park.
They saw several hippogriffs wandering about, either alone or in pairs; and a few young hippogriff couples were lying underneath some of the trees. It was a virtual "paradise within a paradise"!
"WOW! We have NOTHING like this back home in Griffinstone!" Gallus exclaimed.
"Nor in The Dragon Lands..." Kark admitted.
"But where's that sound coming from!?" Gallus asked.
"I don't know." Kark replied.
There WAS, in fact, a sound radiating all over the park. No matter where they stood, the sound was always the same. Kark compared it to somebody rubbing their wet finger over the rim of a crystal wine glass. Gallus couldn't compare it to anything, for he'd never heard this type of sound before.
Kark turned to face in different directions, hoping that his keen ears could pick up where the sound was coming from. He eventually stopped to face in one particular direction. "This way!" he pointed. Both males headed in that direction.
They soon came upon a rock crystal formation. Both males playfully plugged up certain holes they saw in the formation, and noticed that it either raised or lowered the pitch of the sound. They smiled to each other.
"Well, now we know what's causing that sound. The breeze blows through them, and the sound you hear is what comes out. There are probably SEVERAL of these formations all throughout the park."
Gallus simply chuckled.
They then decided to sit underneath a random tree in the shade, and just chillax. When they felt the evening meal was about to start, they got up and made their way back to the village.
When Kark and Gallus arrived at the town square, there was already a large crowd gathered waiting for the evening meal to begin. On top of the local hippogriff residents, they saw the obvious tourists visiting the place; mostly ponies and yaks.
As soon as they took their place in line, a loud screech could be heard from the front of the line that made them jump. They soon realized that it was Captain Sky Beak, who wanted the crowd's attention. "ATTENTION, EVERYONE! The evening meal is NOW served. Enjoy!" The eager murmurs from the crowd could be heard as everyone started to file into the large communal hall.
When Kark and Gallus finally entered the hall, they saw that the evening meal was served in buffet style: grab what you want, all you can eat! Since the hippogriff diet was based off of fish, there were plenty of fish cakes to be had; but there was also salmon steak, salmon roast, seafood chowder and crab bisk. There was also an assortment of fruits and vegetables, as well as freshly baked pre sliced bread, for the vegetarian guests. Since Kark and Gallus were omnivores, they had a little bit of everything. Then Kark noticed a sign on a keg containing something he had heard of before.
"Hmmm... Salmon juice..."
"What?" Gallus asked.
"Princess Twilight TOLD me about this. Seems it's quite good!" Kark grabbed a nearby mug, and poured himself a measure. He then took a sip. "Mmm! 'TIS good! You should try this, Galli."
"O-okay..." Gallus said as he grabbed his mug and poured his own measure. Kark tried not to smile too much as left the buffet table with his tray full of food.
As they were looking for an empty table, they heard somebody call them from their right. "KARK! GALLUS!" They saw that it was Captain Sky Beak, now out of his gold plated armor, sitting at a table with his those same two guards, ALSO out of their armor, sitting next to him. Kark figured they were his Lieutenants. "Please." He gestured to the two empty seats at their table. Kark and Gallus obligingly joined them.
"So, did you two go see Harmonizing Heights?" Sky Beak asked.
Kark nodded. "We DID! It REALLY is a wonder."
"Any luck finding that friendship problem?"
Kark shook his head. "No, unfortunately..."
"Well, it's like Queen Novo said: eventually the problem WILL find you."
"Well, here's to good luck. Cheers!" Kark took another sip from his salmon juice.
Just before Gallus could take a sip from his, Kark whispered something to Sky Beak, who suppressed laughter, but Gallus didn't notice. He took a gulp from his own mug... and immediately spat it out!
The whole table roared with laughter, with Kark laughing the loudest. "Very funny, Kark!" Gallus exclaimed, realizing the joke was on him.
"I... I'm sorry, Galli, but... y-you should've SEEN your face!" Kark continued laughing, as did the other 'griffs around him.
"Yeah, I'll bet it was a Kodiak moment..." Gallus said angrily.
"Don't worry, Galli! I brought a keg of Sweet Apple Acre's finest cider, and I KNOW you like THAT. Professor Applejack seems to have gotten you hooked on the stuff!" Kark patted him on the back.
Gallus lightened up a bit. "Yeah, that's true. Professor Rainbow Dash seems to be able to drink a TON of that stuff. I don't know how she does it..."
"Me neither." Kark admitted. "So why don't you go throw out that mug and get yourself a fruit punch, or something..." Kark giggled.
Gallus HUMPFed as he left the table.
"You have a GREAT sense of humor, Kark!" Sky Beak said once his laughter died down. "I LIKE you!"
Kark simply smiled. "So your diet's based heavily on FISH?"
Sky Beak nodded. "YES! You didn't see it when you and Gallus first arrived, but there's a HUGE boat dock West of the train station where the fishing 'griffs keep their vessels, and that's how we catch our food! The sea ponies are ALSO a big help to us in catching the fish."
"Of COURSE." Kark took another sip of his salmon juice. "With fish being high in Omega 3s, you probably don't have high incidents of heart disease among your people?"
"Omega...?" Sky Beak looked confused.
"Sorry... Omega 3 is an enzyme found in fish oil that is said to reduce the risk of heart attacks and such coming from a high fat diet."
By this time, Gallus had come back, and jumped into the conversation. "What are you talking about?"
Kark spoke. "I was just telling Sky Beak about how pony Doctors in Equestria have discovered how those who eat a lot of fish, like hippogriffs, have less risk of having heart attacks due to the Omega 3 enzyme found in fish oil."
"Oh." Gallus said. He didn't fully understand the concept himself; but knew it must've been true, since this information came from reputed Equestrian Doctors.
"Well, we DO get the occasional heart attack patient... especially among the elderly... but YES, it is probably rarer than other species..." Sky Beak admitted.
"Well, since there's not a lot of fish to be had in Equestria, the risk among ponies is PROBABLY higher; though they ARE vegetarian. But creatures like me and Gallus may be at HIGHER risk; because, being omnivores, we tend to eat foods that are higher in fat content. I, myself, would be at an even GREATER risk, being middle aged... and "slightly" overweight..."
"Heh! I'd say MORE than slightly..." Gallus teased.
"What was that!?" Kark asked.
"Nothing..." Gallus said innocently.
"Which is why I take Omega 3 supplements, on the recommendation of my own Doctor. Regular exercise is ALSO highly recommended." Kark continued, turning his attention back to Sky Beak.
"Well, every little bit helps, I say." Sky Beak said as he took a sip of his own salmon juice mug.
Their attention was then drawn to a familiar looking hippogriff girl, who approached their table carrying her own tray of food.
"PRINCESS SKYSTAR!" Sky Beak and his Lieutenants immediately stood, as did Kark and Gallus. "You honor us greatly with your presence, Your Highness."
"Is this seat taken?" she asked politely, gesturing to an empty seat at the table.
Sky Beak motioned. "Please!" Everybody sat down just as she sat down. She immediately turned her attention to Kark and Gallus.
"The honor is MINE, actually. Mother gave me permission to attend tonight's meal in order to ask you my... IMPORTANT questions, if you don't mind..."
Kark spoke. "Well, I'm not one to refuse a lady... especially one as... CHARMING as yourself, Your Highness!" He smiled.
Skystar blushed a little.
"All right. ASK AWAY!" Kark invited.
"Thank you." Skystar replied. Although she appeared poised; on the inside, she was squealing with delight.
For the next hour or so, Skystar asked Kark and Gallus all sorts of questions. Questions like "What do you like to eat?" "How often does Gallus preen his feathers?" "Are those scales really as tough as rocks?" "What's life like in Equestria, in Griffinstone, in The Dragon Lands?" Kark and Gallus politely answered each question as honestly as they could.
Sky Beak then called a halt to the proceedings stating that it had grown dark, and that they must retire for the night. Skystar realized that her mother must be anxiously awaiting her return to Seaquestria, where the Royal Palace was. Having satisfied her curiosity, she thanked Kark and Gallus for their time, and immediately flew off to return to her underwater realm.
After saying good night to Sky Beak and his Lieutenants, Kark and Gallus made their way to the hotel where they were put up for their stay at Mount Aris. Since the hippogriffs' dwellings were in the trees, the hotel was as well. They flew up towards the entrance to the main lobby, collected the keys to their room from the front desk clerk, and made their way up to their room. The hotel was also equipped with steps that led up and down for those grounded creatures who would be staying there.
Once they entered their room, they saw that their baggage was already laid out for them. Kark soon found the keg of apple cider he had brought, and broke it out for he and Gallus to share. They stayed up for the next couple of hours drinking a few measures of cider. Gallus immediately felt better from the incident at the communal hall, and forgave Kark for what he did, all while admitting that it was a good prank. Kark admitted that he knew what to expect, having drunk bitter ales most of his life. He knew that the salmon juice would have a sour taste to it, as it was based off of fish oil; and he knew Gallus would be revolted by this, and the spit-take would ensue.
After those two hours of drinking and chatting, the two males felt tiredness soon creep in. It HAD been a long day, after all! They both went to their own twin bed, and were out within minutes.
Both males woke up the next morning at around 8 A.M.. After showering and freshening up, both males headed out to the communal hall again for breakfast. Like the previous night, it was served out buffet style. There were some leftover fish cakes from the night before; but there was also all sorts of cereals, yogurts and fruit smoothies to be had. There was also some more fresh baked sliced bread that can be used to make toast with every kind of jam or marmalade you can imagine, plus the assortment of fruits and vegetables, coffee and tea. FISH OIL tea, probably... Kark thought to himself
After loading their trays with whatever they wanted, Kark and Gallus looked for a table. There were already some 'griffs and obvious tourists there, but they didn't see anybody they already knew; so they found an empty table and sat by themselves.
They came up with the idea to go ask around the village if anyone had heard of the friendship problem they came here to solve, or perhaps EXPERIENCING that friendship problem themselves. They agreed to start asking around after breakfast.
Almost as soon as they walked out of the communal hall, they ran into Captain Sky Beak, who was in his uniform and carrying his long spear, obviously on his way to his morning duties.
"GOOD MORNING, MY FRIENDS!" he said happily. "Sleep well?"
"Well, I slept GOOD." Kark said. "I don't know about Gallus here..."
"Oh, I slept GREAT!" the young griffin admitted. "Probably due to those few mugs of cider I had."
"Cider?" Sky Beak was confused.
Kark smiled. "It's a special drink from Equestria. Kind of like your salmon juice, only it's made from APPLES."
"Hmmm... interesting..." Sky Beak mused. "I think I'd like to try some of this... CIDER... sometime..."
"Well, we have some left over from last night." Kark said. "Maybe you'd like to try it later?"
Sky Beak smiled. "I think I WILL! OH, by the way, General Sea Spray is here on shore leave. Since you're both acquainted with him, perhaps you'd like to see him?"
Kark smiled. "Sure!"
"He should be down by the beach..." Sky Beak pointed. "Well, good day, gentlemales!" He then marched off to his duties.
"Well, Gallus, what say we go say 'hi' to our dear friend Sea Spray?" Kark offered.
Gallus shrugged. "Sure! Got nothin' better to do..."
The two males then took flight, and headed towards the direction of the beach, where Sky Beak said Sea Spray would be. They soon saw the familiar light purple form of the Hippogriff Navy Commander. Kark noticed that he wasn't alone. There was another younger hippogriff with him who looked to be in his mid teens, a little older than Gallus. His coat was turquoise, and his mane and tail were light orange. "There he is!" Kark pointed, and swooped down to land a few feet in front of him with Gallus right behind him.
"General Sea Spray, SIR!" Kark exclaimed in greeting, snapping the best salute he knew how to do.
Sea Spray was taken aback a bit by this, but smiled when he saw who had just landed in front of him. "Karkovice Drake and Gallus Gruff! What a pleasant surprise!" He said in his thick British accent as he shook claws with both males. "What brings you two to Mount Aris?"
Kark explained to Sea Spray the friendship mission they were on.
"Friendship mission? AH YES, I've HEARD about that! Seems you Equestrians can be called upon to undertake such a mission at ANY TIME..."
"That's why we're here!" Kark smiled and shrugged.
"Well, I'm sure that a pair of strapping young lads like yourselves will be able to find this friendship problem quickly, and SOLVE it! But if you need help, all you have to do is ASK."
"Thanks for the offer!" Kark said.
This whole time, though, the younger 'griff stayed in the background, not saying anything. Kark decided to break the ice and meet the teen aged male.
"Aren't you going to introduce us to your young friend?" Kark asked casually.
"OH, of course!" Sea Spray said, then motioned the young male over. He slowly approached. "This is my son, Blue Wave! Blue Wave, these are two friends of mine from Equestria, Karkovice Drake and Gallus Gruff!"
"Hello!" Kark smiled and waived.
"Hey, wassup?" Gallus did the same.
The teen aged male stayed silent, until he got a good look at the two male figures standing before him. He suddenly gasped, brought his claws up in a rectangular frame, and exclaimed. "This is PERFECT!"
"Excuse me!?" Kark asked, taken aback.
"What!?" Gallus asked, equally taken aback.
"I MUST make a painting of you two! Can I have your permission, PLEASE?" Blue Wave asked eagerly.
Sea Spray angrily grabbed him by the shoulder, making him wince. "My apologies! You see, my son loves to PAINT, and... well... it seems he wants to do a painting of you two..."
"That's quite all right." Kark smiled.
Sea Spray then took his son aside so he couldn't be heard, but Kark's keen hearing picked up the conversation.
"This is NOT the time for this!" Sea Spray whispered harshly to his son.
"YES it is!" Blue Wave whispered back. "You can't stop inspiration, dad! I've TOLD you..."
Sea Spray groaned. "STOP THIS NONSENSE!"
"It's NOT nonsense, dad!"
Blue Wave then broke away from his father and came to stand in front of Kark and Gallus. "So do I have your permission?"
Gallus blinked. "You mean we're gonna have to stand still for HOURS while you paint our portrait!?"
Blue Wave immediately brought his claws up. "OH NONONO! I already have the image in my mind of what you two look like. I just need to put it down on canvas." He chuckled. "IF I can get your permission. So do I have it?" Blue Wave got an eager look on his face that was almost pleading.
Kark, seeing this, finally relinquished. "SURE! By all means..."
Blue Wave got this expression of extreme joy on his face. "Oh, thank you! THANKYOUTHANKYOU THANKYOU! YAHOOOOO!" He then did a few flying loops in the air. "This'll be my best painting YET! You won't regret this, I promise you!"
"If you say so..." Gallus said.
Out of the corner of his eye, Kark could see Sea Spray's deep disapproval at how his son behaved. He even brought his claw to his head in a facepalm as soon as Kark told him he could paint he and Gallus' portrait.
Blue Wave turned to his father. "Dad, I'm going home to start work on that painting right away!"
Sea Spray sighed. "If you must... I know when your mind's made up, you CAN'T be stopped..."
"Thanks, dad!" Blue Wave then took flight to head for the village where was his family home, letting out another "YAHOO!" as he went.
"Your son seems quite happy to paint... PASSIONATE, even!" Kark smiled.
"Well, it's pure FOOLISHNESS, if you ask me!" Sea Spray said in a disapproving tone. "In any case, as long as you're here, why don't I show you around? There's lots to see here at Mount Aris."
Kark smiled and nodded. "We'd like that! Lead and we'll follow."
"Very well! I guess we can start with the boat docks. This way, gentlemales!" Sea Spray started walking towards that area of Mount Aris.
Kark stopped Gallus in his tracks, and spoke to him in a tone ensuring that Sea Spray wouldn't hear. "I think we've found our friendship problem..."
Gallus was surprised. "What!? Are you sure?"
Kark rolled his eyes. "Weren't you paying attention!? Didn't you see that exchange between him and his son!? Sea Spray obviously doesn't approve of his son's passion..."
After thinking about it for a moment, Gallus realized that Kark was RIGHT. "... I really should be more observant in the future..."
Kark nodded. "Yes, you SHOULD!"
"Okay. So if Sea Spray and his son are the friendship problem we've been sent here to solve, how DO we solve it?" Gallus asked.
"I'm not sure yet..." Kark admitted. "But I'll think of something."
"KARK! GALLUS! What's the hold up!?" Sea Spray called after them.
"WE'RE COMING!" Kark called back.
Then both males jogged to catch up to Sea Spray.
For the rest of the morning, Sea Spray took Kark and Gallus on a grand tour of the surrounding areas of Mount Aris. He showed them the expansive boat docks with fishing vessels of all sizes coming and going with their catches. Then they saw the fish processing plant where the hippogriffs' food was produced.
They got the opportunity to put their feet in the ocean water. Kark thought the water was quite warm. Gallus seemed hesitant at first, reluctant even; but when Kark coaxed him, he finally stepped into the waves, and said the water was a bit cold, but not too cold.
The three males then went back the way they came down to the other side of the beach where Sea Spray let them in on a future project The Hippogriff Navy was planning.
"Off in the distance there, in a few short months" Sea Spray pointed. "We plan to set up a shipyard where we're going to build a submersible craft..."
"'Submersible craft'!? You mean like a SUBMARINE?" Kark asked.
Sea Spray nodded. "Yes! Since there are many creatures who can't be turned into sea ponies visiting Mount Aris..."
"Like us?" Kark asked.
Sea Spray nodded. "Exactly! Those creatures can be carried down into Seaquestria for a tour using that craft."
"How long is this craft gonna be?" Kark asked.
"The last blueprints done up by our Engineers suggest that this craft will be upwards to 200 feet long, and maybe 40 feet high."
"What will this ship be made of?" Gallus asked.
"We plan to use a mixture of crushed seashells and a super resin capable of withstanding up to 500 feet of underwater barometric pressure." Sea Spray admitted.
"IMPRESSIVE!" Kark smiled.
"Well, I don't know about you males, but I'm starting to get hungry. There's a small fish food place just up here we could go to." Sea Spray pointed.
"Yes, we COULD use a little lunch..." Kark admitted.
Sea Spray smiled. "All right, gentlemales! Follow me."
Kark motioned for Gallus to wait. "I've come up with a plan on how we can try to solve this friendship problem."
"Okay. What is it?" Gallus asked.
"After lunch, I want you to go up to the village, find Blue Wave and try to talk to him; while I work on Sea Spray down here. Sound good?" Kark smiled.
Gallus smiled back and snapped a salute as his way of agreement.
"We make a great team, you and I!" Kark said as they ran to catch up to Sea Spray.
The seaside fast food place was not very big, but big enough to accommodate upwards to 20 guests at the time. They served their own brand of fish cakes, but there was also salmon steak and a seafood chowder that were on the menu, with a large variety of juices to wash it down with, including SALMON juice.
Kark chose the salmon steak, while Gallus and Sea Spray chose the seafood chowder. To drink, Kark chose a lemonade, Gallus a fruit punch, and Sea Spray ordered a tankard of salmon juice.
After lunch, Kark and Gallus immediately put their "divide and conquer" plan into action. Gallus excused himself under the guise of wanting to go up to the village to ask around for any leads as to the friendship problem they were sent to solve. Kark immediately gave him leave, and Gallus did not hesitate to fly up to the village.
Kark asked Sea Spray if they could go for a walk along the beach, to which Sea Spray immediately obliged. As they were walking, Kark decided to broach the subject with Sea Spray.
"Sea Spray, I couldn't help but notice that when your son practically begged us to paint our portrait, you seemed kinda upset, almost as if you didn't approve of his behavior."
Sea Spray just stared straight ahead, saying nothing.
"So you wanna talk about it?" Kark pressed.
Finally, Sea Spray lowered his head and sighed. "... It's a long story..."
"Well, we seem to have plenty of time. We're here to solve a friendship problem, and we can't leave until it's solved. If what's happening between you and your son IS the problem, we need to bring it to the surface...so to speak."
Sea Spray eyed Kark. "You're very perceptive..."
"I tend to be like that." Kark admitted. "So you wanna talk?"
Sea Spray opened up. "For generations, my family has always been in the Navy. My great grandfather, my grandfather, my father, and now ME. When Blue Wave was born, I saw him eventually taking my place in the Navy, and continuing the family tradition.
"I don't know how it was like in YOUR childhood; but almost after Blue Wave had learned to flap his wings, he took to DRAWING."
"Oh, yes! I did the same thing. Eventually, though, I would grow out of it."
"Well, Blue Wave DIDN'T. He started out with just crayons and paper, as any kid his age would do. Then he moved onto PAINT and paper. It was only until he moved onto actual canvas that I realized that it was MORE than just a phase; and no matter how many times I told him to put the paint brush down and go out and play with the other hippogriff boys his age, he just KEPT GOING, even into his teens; and that's what worries me."
"Well, we have a JUNIOR Hippogriff Navy Corps that young hippogriff boys... AND girls... can join once they turn 16. Blue Wave is 15 now, but will turn 16 in a few months; and I plan to enroll him in that Junior Corps as a way to jump start his Navy career."
Kark scratched his temple with his taloned finger. "I don't know if that's such a good idea, Sea Spray. I know I've only met your son for five minutes or so; but to ME, he doesn't seem like the kind of kid who would fit into the military. He would probably be more content to just be an Artist and paint!"
"But if I got him into the Junior Corps, and he saw what it was like, he'd change his mind. No?"
"I disagree!" Kark said sternly.
Sea Spray shot him an angry look. "How can you SAY that!? YOU, who's been a DRAGON WARRIOR for most of your younger life!?"
"And what makes you think that I've ever been a WARRIOR!?"
Sea Spray was taken aback. "I-I thought... ALL dragons were warriors..."
"Well, you're WRONG! DEAD wrong!"
Sea Spray took this in. "B-but I thought you said you were a member of The Dragon Army!"
"I WAS, but NOT as a warrior..."
"If you weren't a warrior... what WERE you?"
"I was a QUARTERMASTER."
"And during the whole time I served in that role, I NEVER ONCE picked up a weapon, OR lashed out at an enemy in anger."
Sea Spray took this in. "... I'm guessing your PARENTS weren't warriors either?"
Kark shook his head. "They were TEACHERS. My father even went on to earn a PhD in Astrophysics."
"He went to Canterlot University for that."
"But coming back to my own story. That wasn't the end of it..."
Sea Spray shook his head. "I came to think that my son had a CONDITION that caused him to be like this. I've even blamed my WIFE for it..."
Kark was shocked. "YOU'RE KIDDING!"
Sea Spray looked sad. "I kid you not! This, of course, has caused tension in our marriage. She's even threatened DIVORCE..."
"Oh GOOD LORD..." Kark shook his head in disbelief.
Sea Spray looked at Kark pleadingly. "What do I DO, Kark? I'm totally at a loss..."
Kark stayed silent for a few moments, then got a brainstorm. "Perhaps it would help resolve the situation if I told you about my OWN conflict with my OWN parents, when the time came for me to choose my own career."
"Oh? You mean... you've had arguments with your OWN parents, too!?"
"Oh yes! MANY times. They wanted me to become a Teacher like them, but I didn't like the idea back then. I just didn't see myself standing in front of a classroom trying to teach something to a bunch of spaced out dragon kids who didn't pay attention to you half the time."
Sea Spray chuckled. "And yet... here you are now... a Professor at Princess Twilight's school..."
"Things are DIFFERENT now, when it comes to teaching. Back then, if you wanted to be a Teacher, they just told you 'okay. You're gonna go teach THIS.' And it could be subject matter that you don't like, or don't particularly know.
"At Twilight's school, though, I got the chance to teach stuff I actually LOVE; and the students in my classes pay attention, and are actually EAGER to learn... not just Silver Stream."
"Heh! Funny..." Sea Spray smiled.
"Anyway, coming back to my parents. We've had MANY arguments about me not wanting to be a teacher back then. They kept asking me 'Why don't you want to be a teacher, son!? It's a great career to have!' I just kept repeating 'I just don't want to be a teacher. I want to do something else.'
"Eventually, we reconciled our difference... and they supported me in the career path I chose."
Sea Spray smiled. "Well, I'm glad for YOU, but what does that have to do with me and my son?"
"I guess what I'm trying to say is: You need to LISTEN to your son! I mean, not just HEAR him, but REALLY LISTEN to what he has to say, just like MY parents eventually listened to ME! He's OBVIOUSLY doing this for a REASON, and you really need to LISTEN to his reason! Makes sense?"
Sea Spray took a few moments to let this sink in, then he nodded. "It DOES. Okay, I'll try."
Kark spread his arms out. "That's ALL I ask!"
He then approached Kark, reached up, and laid his clawed hand on Kark's shoulder. "Kark, I knew from the moment I met you that you were SPECIAL; I just had no idea HOW special you really were!"
Kark smiled and placed his taloned hand on Sea Spray's forearm. "I sometimes don't even know MYSELF!"
This made Sea Spray burst out in laughter. Kark shared in the laughter.
"Now, what's say we go see Blue Wave and try to talk to him?" Kark offered.
"All right, LET'S!" Sea Spray nodded in agreement.
Both males then took flight and headed towards the village.
Meanwhile, Gallus was making his way to the village. He spotted a hippogriff couple that had just exited the front gates of the village. He swooped down to land in front of the couple.
"Excuse me." He said. "But do you know where I can find Blue Wave?"
"OH, you mean Sea Spray's son, the Artist?" the female asked.
"THAT would be him!" Gallus smiled.
"Oh, that's EASY. His home is right over THERE." the male said, pointing towards a particular hut in a particular tree.
"Thank you." he said to the couple as he flew up towards the hut.
He landed on what would be the front porch. He noticed that the front door was open. He figured that, since it was warm, the 'griffs must keep the front doors of their huts opened to air the place out.
"Hellooooooo! Anybody home?" Gallus called out as he entered the home.
Some movement to his right made him turn. He saw Blue Wave's head stick out from a particular room. "GALLUS!" the young 'griff male said in surprise. "What are you doing here?"
Gallus scratched the back of his head. "Well, Professor Kark's hanging out by the beach with your dad, so I thought I'd come up here and ask if I could hang out with YOU." He smiled.
Blue Wave smiled back. "Oh, SURE! Come on in!" He stuck his head back into his room.
Gallus came to the threshold of what would be Blue Wave's bedroom, and saw that the guy had virtually turned his bedroom into a makeshift studio with everything an Artist would need to do his work. There were paint cans and canvases everywhere on the floor! As Gallus walked in, he gingerly took his steps so as not to knock anything over. He could tell that Blue Wave REALLY took his artistic talents seriously, especially when he saw what was hanging on the bedroom walls!
"WOW, these are REALLY GREAT!" Gallus commented.
There were many different paintings of various scenes all throughout Mount Aris, as well as portraits of several different hippogriffs and tourist creatures from all over Equestria. Gallus wasn't much of an art buff, but he was TRULY AMAZED by what he saw!
"Y-you really think so?" Blue Wave asked in a soft voice.
"Are you kidding!? I've never seen anything like it! You really ARE good at this."
"Thanks." Blue Wave smiled slightly, and continued working on the portrait that was on the easel in front of him.
"Wow! THIS is looking good so far..." Gallus said as he looked at what Blue Wave was working on, which turned to be the portrait of he and Kark. He had finished the silhouette of Kark, and he saw that Blue Wave had Kark's colours down to a tee; and that he was about half way through doing him, and Gallus saw that HIS colours were also spot on.
"Well, it's not done yet... OBVIOUSLY..." Blue Wave chuckled. "But once you see the final product, you'll be BLOWN AWAY."
"Can't wait!" Gallus smiled. Then he grew more serious, and decided to put Kark's "divide and conquer" plan into motion. "Uhh, Blue Wave, Professor Kark noticed that... your father didn't really approve of you being an Artist. Is this TRUE?"
Blue Wave immediately stopped painting, as if a brick wall had hit him. He turned to face Gallus. He tried to look angry, but Gallus could see the sadness in his eyes. "What do you know about that!?"
Gallus knew he was getting somewhere. "Well, Professor Kark overheard the argument you and your dad had while you were trying to get our permission to paint our portrait, and your father seemed quite UPSET. Wanna talk about it?"
Blue Wave put his brush and paint palette down, and looked at Gallus again with that mixture of sadness and anger. "You don't know the HALF of it..." He said as he wiped his clawed hands clean with a rag.
Gallus tried to imagine what a good friend would say in this situation, then he remembered some of his lessons at Twilight's school. He took a breath and began his spiel. "Well, I'm here for you, if you REALLY wanna talk. I mean, I can't FORCE you to; but me and Professor Kark are here on a friendship mission, and if the friendship problem IS between you and your dad, then we DO need to bring this out into the open.
"As we speak, Kark is talking to your father RIGHT NOW trying to make him see YOUR side of things! I can understand your 'there ain't no point in talking when there's nobody listening' attitude... but... as a FRIEND, I AM here to LISTEN..."
Blue Wave got up from the stool he sat on to paint, then moved to sit on his bed. He sighed and began his story. "Ever since I was a kid, I've ALWAYS wanted to draw. I guess EVERY kid does that, when they're at that age; but for ME, it was something more. It's as though... there was something inside of me PUSHING me to do this.
"At first, dad thought it was 'cute'. When I showed him my drawings, he said he LIKED them; but... I don't know... it didn't seem SINCERE... I guess dad just PRETENDED to like it just to be a 'good father', y'know...
"But as I got older, things changed. I guess dad expected me to... STOP drawing and... move onto OTHER things a kid my age SHOULD be into... but I just CONTINUED... I just COULDN'T stop!" Blue Wave's lips began to quiver. "Then, a couple of years ago, dad REALLY started getting on my case. He told me several times that this 'art thing' was a waste of time, and that I should start thinking about a MILITARY career. I KNEW dad had plans to get me into the Junior Hippogriff Navy Corps when I'd turn 16, but..." Blue Wave sniffled.
"... but you really didn't want to?" Gallus completed.
Blue Wave shook his head, still sniffling. "And ONE TIME, I accidentally spilled a paint can... RIGHT THERE..." he pointed to a particular spot on the bedroom floor. "And when dad caught it, he... he BEAT me, and... told me to clean it up... and he wouldn't allow me to leave my room until it was, in his own words, 'spic and span'... It took a LONG TIME to clean, too!" Blue Wave was trying to suppress his sobbing at this point.
"Oh my GOODNESS..." Gallus said sadly. He couldn't help but feel this poor hippogriff teen aged boy's sadness.
"Why can't he understand that THIS is what I want to do!?" Blue Wave exclaimed. "I mean... MOM understands me, and she SUPPORTS me... Why can't HE!?" He then put his head down, shut his eyes, and let loose his sobbing. Years' worth of sadness and frustration were finally rising to the surface to be let out.
Gallus couldn't help but be sad himself at the scene. He decided to let poor Blue Wave vent out his sadness through his sobbing. After about five minutes, his sobbing subsided. Gallus reached out and placed his clawed hand on Blue Wave's shoulder. Blue Wave seemed surprised by this, but he didn't resist.
Gallus thought hard about what to say next. "Blue Wave, would it help if I told you that... I know how you feel?"
Blue Wave looked up at Gallus with sad eyes. "Y-you DO!?" He sniffed and wiped the tears from his cheeks. "You mean... you have arguments with YOUR father, too?"
"Not my father, my GRANDfather." Gallus admitted. "Grampa Gruff, everybody calls him. We have arguments ALL THE TIME about LOTS of things, but that doesn't mean that we don't LOVE each other! I'm sure your father loves you a great deal, deep down inside! Do YOU love your dad, Blue Wave?"
"Of COURSE! I love him to DEATH, but..." Blue Wave sighed again. "I just wish he understood..."
"Have you tried talking to him?"
"Yes... MANY times... but he JUST WON'T LISTEN!"
"Well maybe you have to work harder at MAKING him listen! If this is REALLY what you wanna do with you life, if this is your CALLING, you REALLY NEED to make your father LISTEN to your reason!"
Blue Wave looked up at Gallus again, smiled slowly and said. "Thanks for listening. You're a good friend!" He then reached out and hugged Gallus.
Gallus was taken aback by this. He certainly didn't expect it! He then smiled slightly, and laid his clawed hands on Blue Wave's back in a comforting gesture. "So what say we go find your father and try to talk some sense into him?" He asked.
Blue Wave relinquished the hug he had on Gallus and looked at the young griffin with grateful eyes. "Okay." he said softly.
Both young males then walked out of the house, took flight and headed down towards the beach to find Kark and Sea Spray.
Both groups ended up meeting halfway up the mountain. Kark signaled to Gallus that he wants him to land in a forest clearing he saw not far from where they were located. Gallus signaled back to Kark his compliance. Both groups landed in the clearing. It was far enough out of the way so no one could listen in or eavesdrop in this tense moment.
Father and son faced each other for what seemed like an eternity! Kark nudged Sea Spray as if to say "SAY SOMETHING!" Sea Spray cleared his throat and started to speak. "Uhh... Son, I..."
"NO, dad. You need to listen to ME first..." Blue Wave said, cutting him off.
Kark looked at Gallus in shock. Gallus tensed up with an "UH OOOOOH!" look on his face. Both males felt that Blue Wave cutting off his own father like that was a BIG MISTAKE. Sea Spray, meanwhile, was looking sternly at his son. He then relaxed. "I'm listening..." Sea Spray said.
Blue Wave took a deep breath. "Dad, I know how proud you are of what you've become and what you've accomplished, and that all you want is for me to carry on the 'family legacy' like you and granddad did, but... I REALLY don't want to go in the Hippogriff Navy. I don't even wanna go in the JUNIOR Hippogriff Navy.
"I just wanna MAKE ART and PAINT! It's what I've ALWAYS wanted to do!" His lips started to quiver again as he said in a shaky voice. "Why can't you SEE that!? No matter how many times you've told me to put down the paint brushes and canvases for GOOD, it keeps CALLING ME BACK! I feel this is what I HAVE to do! Mom understands me, and she SUPPORTS me. Why can't YOU!?" Blue Wave began to sob again.
Sea Spray's facial expression quickly turned from indifference to sadness. He really HATED to see his son this upset! He slowly approached him... and laid a hand on his shoulder. Blue Wave was genuinely surprised at this, almost as if he was expecting to be FLOGGED rather than have this gentle fatherly touch. This didn't stop his sobbing, however.
"You don't have to worry anymore, son." Sea Spray said in a soft tone. "I'm not gonna enroll you in the Junior Hippogriff Navy..."
Blue Wave looked up at his dad, sniffling and wiping the tears from his eyes. "Y-you're NOT!?"
Sea Spray smiled and shook his head. "I realize now how much this means to you. If you wanna continue down this path... you have my full support. Matter of fact, I'll even BUY you all of those extra art supplies, if ever you need them. I KNOW you've been using your allowance to get those yourself."
Blue Wave's expression changed quickly at this revelation. "Y-you really MEAN that!?"
Sea Spray stood proudly, put his fist to his chest and said "On my honor!"
"OH DAD!" Blue Wave exclaimed as he jumped up and hugged his father tightly. He started sobbing again, but out of JOY.
"It's okay, son. It's okay." Sea Spray said in a soft reassuring tone as he placed comforting clawed hands on his son's back.
"I love you, dad!" Blue Wave said in between sobs.
"I love you too, son." Sea Spray said as his own tear ran down his cheek.
As this emotional exchange was taking place, Kark and Gallus each placed an arm around each other's shoulders and shared a fist bump as their way of saying "We ROCK!"
It was only when Blue Wave finally stopped sobbing that Sea Spray relinquished his hug. He then turned to face Kark... with a shocked expression. "Uhh... Kark... your horns are flashing red..."
"What!?" Kark was confused.
"I'm not kidding, Kark! Your horns ARE flashing red!" Sea Spray repeated.
"It's TRUE, Professor Kark." Gallus confirmed. He then gasped. "And look at my FOOT!" Gallus showed his right hind paw, that was ALSO flashing red. "What do you think it MEANS!?"
Kark smiled slowly. "I think it means... MISSION ACCOMPLISHED..."
Gallus smiled as well. "You mean... We've SOLVED the friendship problem!?"
"It would seem so!" Kark exclaimed.
Both males exclaimed "YYYYYYYYEEEEESSSSSS!" and gave themselves a high five!
It was an absolute moment of ELATION for all four of them! Kark and Gallus' first friendship mission was a resounding success, and Sea Spray and Blue Wave have settled their differences, and reforged that loving father/son relationship they once had!
As Kark's horns and Gallus' foot kept flashing, they became concerned that their body parts would keep flashing like that until they got back to Equestria to tell The Cutie Map that they've succeeded. Finally, though, after about five minutes, the flashing stopped, much to Kark's and Gallus' relief.
Afterwards, all four males decided to head up to the village where Blue Wave would show Kark his many paintings demonstrating his immense artistic talent, as well as what he has done so far for the portrait of he and Gallus.
After the evening meal, Kark and Gallus decided to just hang out in the town square to see who they could meet among the hippogriff townsfolk. They soon drew a crowd of curious children who mainly wanted an up close and personal look of the new creatures they've never seen before.
They brought what was left of the barrel of apple cider they had with them. There was about half of it left, and they figured they'd share it with whoever wanted to sample it, after they poured out their own measure.
Kark soon had a couple of children, a brother and sister, sitting in his lap; while poor Gallus was a bit uncomfortable at being poked and prodded by these "ankle biters". Kark kept reminding him since they've never seen a dragon and a griffin before, they were "simply curious" and that it was "for the kids".
General Sea Spray and Blue Wave had gone home for a bit, but then returned with a female hippogriff Kark and Gallus had not met before. She was introduced as Sea Spray's wife and Blue Wave's mother, and her name was Trade Winds. Kark and Gallus could immediately see where Blue Wave got his looks from, for her coat, mane and tail colours closely matched those of Blue Wave. Kark imagined that if you mixed Sea Spray's purple hues with the colours of his wife, you would end up looking like Blue Wave; but Kark was no genetics expert, so he couldn't say for sure.
Kark and Gallus would then learn that she worked as a Secretary for the fish processing plant they had seen earlier on the far East side of Mount Aris, and that she has been doing that shortly after Blue Wave was born.
Kark asked about Blue Wave's progress with the painting. Blue Wave said that it was almost finished, but that he should be done with it sometime tomorrow, and that he will show it to he and Gallus then.
"Kark! Gallus!" someone called from their right. They turned to see that it was Sky Beak, but he wasn't alone. "My friends, I'd like you to meet my son, TERRAMAR."
"TERRAMAR!" Kark exclaimed as he stuck out his taloned hand to the young 'griff, which Terramar shook. "Such a pleasure to finally meet you! I've heard so much about you... though I imagined you a little... SHORTER..."
Terramar chuckled. "Well, it has been almost two years since I met Princess Twilight Sparkle and her three filly friends, who've helped me solve my friendship problem, and we 'griff kids tend to grow up PRETTY FAST."
"Underline the word 'fast'." Sky Beak chuckled. "At 15, Ter's almost as tall as ME, and STILL growing! He may end being much taller than I am!"
"Fascinating!" Kark said. "I wonder if these two will end up being just as tall..." He gestured towards the two kids sitting in his lap, who had begun to scuffle. "Hey, hey, HEY!" He exclaimed to try to get them to stop. When he saw that wasn't working, he brought a taloned hand to each of their shoulders and started pinching them, to which you could hear the kids screaming "Owowowowow!" almost in unison.
"I call that the Dragon Warrior's Death Grip!" he told them. "If you two don't want me to do it again, you'll BEHAVE yourselves. Capische!?"
"Okay." the kids said in unison. Kark then let relaxed his grip.
As a former member of The Dragon Army, he went through the training program alongside the regular soldiers; and although he never once saw battle, he picked up a few self defense techniques.
Sky Beak chuckled. "You REALLY do have a way with kids! I'm surprised you don't have kids of your own."
"Well... that was a choice I made long ago..." Kark admitted.
"AAAAOOOOOOOWWWWW!" Gallus screamed next to him. Kark turned to see that a young hippogriff boy was biting him on his left ear. "LET GO OF THE EAR!" Gallus cried out as he tried to pull the kid away. When the kid finally released the bite he had on Gallus' ear, he held him at arm's length. "I am NOT a chew toy! GOT THAT!?" Gallus said angrily, to which the kid just giggled and reached out for the "fluffy" griffin again.
"... though I can't really speak for poor Gallus here..." Kark smirked. This made Sky Beak laugh.
"JUNIOR!" A female hippogriff, who was the kid's mother, exclaimed as she came to take her son out of Gallus' clawed hands. "Don't DO that! That's not nice!" she told her kid sternly, who gave her an "I'm sorry, mommy" look.
"OH!" Kark exclaimed as he realized something. "Our cider is just about gone, but we've saved some for you, Sky Beak." He reached to his left and produced a cider filled mug. "You said you wanted to try it?"
"YES, that's right!" Sky Beak smelled the contents of the mug, then took a sip. He then spat it out. "I'm sorry, but that's a little bit too sweet for me." He immediately admitted. "Here!" He handed the mug to Terramar, who took his own sip. "MMM! Not bad!"
"We'll make an Equestrian of you yet, Terramar!" Kark smiled.
Terramar chuckled. "Well, I don't know about THAT. I'm perfectly happy living here at Mount Aris... AND Seaquestria..."
"It's a shame you two can't go to Seaquestria" Sky Beak said. "with you not being magical beings, and not being able to change into sea ponies. It REALLY is a wondrous place."
"Yeah, well, there's ANOTHER reason why I can't go... OOPS!" Gallus started to say, but then covered his mouth as he caught himself.
This didn't get past Kark, however. "There IS!?"
Gallus said nothing, and looked nervous.
"Come on, Galli! Spill the beans..." Kark prompted.
Gallus sighed and muttered something.
"What!? I didn't quite hear..."
Gallus groaned. "I have AQUAPHOBIA! OK!?"
Kark was stunned. "AQUAPHOBIA? You mean you're afraid of the water!?"
"More precisely, afraid of DROWNING..."
Kark smiled slowly. "Well, then I guess we'll just have to do something ABOUT that, won't we!?" He glanced to his right. "Excuse me." He set the kids still in his lap down to the ground, got up and went to talk to General Sea Spray.
"Now what do you think he has in mind?" Gallus asked Terramar.
Terramar shrugged. "Don't ask ME." He took another sip from the cider mug.
Nothing more was said about Gallus' condition that night.
Kark and Gallus would learn that Terramar's seapony mother, Ocean Flow, was a Physiotherapist by trade; and when Terramar was asked what he planned to do in terms of a job, he said that he was seriously thinking of becoming a Royal Guard, like his dad. Unlike the Hippogriff Navy, there was no Junior Royal Guard he could get into prior to the minimum enlistment age; but they did allow boys(AND girls) as young as 17 to join, if they'd like; so Terramar still had a couple of years or so to mull it over.
Eventually, everygriff went home to retire for the night. Once the last 'griffs talking to Kark and Gallus left, the two males made for their hotel room where they would soon fall asleep in their own beds satisfied with how this day had turned out.
The next morning, Kark and Gallus rose at around 8 AM, as usual, and headed down to the communal hall for another round of the breakfast buffet. Since the next train headed back for Ponyville wasn't due to leave Mount Aris until about 6 PM that evening, both males could pretty much do what they wanted during the day.
After breakfast, Kark broke the news to Gallus that he had arranged something with Sea Spray that he felt could help conquer Gallus' aquaphobia. Gallus was genuinely surprised at this! He didn't think that his Professor would go this far to help him conquer his worst fear.
Later that morning, Kark and Gallus landed on the beach in front the expansive boat docks where the hippogriff fishing fleet kept their boats moored when not in use. There weren't many boats present at the docks, seeing as most of them were out to sea on their day of fishing.
"AW MAN! I won't lie to you, Professor, I'm NERVOUS..." Gallus admitted as they stepped onto the dock.
"You have every right to be. You're about to conquer your greatest fear. I'D be nervous, too!"
They were headed towards an area of the dock that was not too deep, but Kark felt was deep enough for their purposes.
About mid way up, Gallus stopped in his tracks. "I can't do this! I CAN'T DO THIS, PROFESSOR!" he whimpered.
Kark literally grabbed him by his clawed hand to pull him along. "It's too late to back out now! We're DOING this!"
"AW MAN..." Gallus whined.
They neared a place where there was a bunch of sea ponies hovering in the water, and some of their closest hippogriff acquaintances and friends were gathered to witness the event.
"AWWWWW... Why does there have to be a CROOOOWD!?" Gallus complained.
"Well, this is an important event in your life! Our closest 'griff friends wanna see you BEAT this. Hello!" he waved to the small crowd of 'griffs as they neared the spot on the dock. Some of them waved back and/or gave cheers of encouragement.
"Besides" Kark continued. "You have all of these sea ponies gathered ready to intervene, in case something goes wrong. Hi!" He waved to the gathered sea ponies, who waved back.
This didn't reassure Gallus any. He was shaking like a leaf!
Still holding Gallus' hand, Kark approached the end of the dock. Gallus was still whimpering.
"Okay! On three, we'll both jump in the water. Ready?"
Gallus had his eyes tightly shut, and tears were streaming down his cheeks. "I don't wanna do this! I DON'T WANNA DO THIS!"
"YES you are!" Kark exclaimed.
"Come on, Gallus! You can do it!" a random hippogriff female shouted from the crowd, while some others applauded their encouragement.
"Okay! On three, we JUMP. One... two... THREE!"
Both males jumped off the dock and splashed into the water.
Kark surfaced first, Gallus second. As soon as he surfaced, he started flailing around and emitted a high pitched scream. He jumped up onto Kark's chest and held on for dear life. Kark immediately brought his arms around his lower back in a sort of light bear hug.
"I can't do this! I CAN'T DO THIS! GetmeoutgetmeoutGETMEOOOOOUT!" Gallus cried.
"It's okay, Gallus! Relax, RELAX! I got you! I got you!" Kark exclaimed reassuringly.
Kark used his wings for buoyancy to keep Gallus above the waterline. He laid them flat across the surface of the water as a sort of makeshift life preserver.
"Your claws are digging into my chest AND IT HURTS!" Kark cried out.
"S-s-sorry." Gallus immediately relaxed his grip, much to the relief of Kark. "I'm just so SCARED..." Gallus said in a voice that was almost gone.
"I know, Gallus, but I'm here for you. RELAX! Now, I'm gonna lower myself down into the water... SLOWLY..."
Kark moved his wings upwards to let himself sink down into the water. Gallus emitted another high pitched scream as he felt the water on the lower part of his body. "It's okay, it's okay! I got you, I got you!" Kark said reassuringly. "Let's go down a little more..." Kark allowed himself to go down a few more inches. Gallus screamed again as he felt the water rise up to his chest. "It's okay. IT'S OKAY! I got you..."
Gallus started to hyperventilate as Kark still held on to the lower part of his back. Both males were up to their chests in water. "It's okay, Galli. RELAX!" Kark said again.
After about thirty seconds, Gallus stopped hyperventilating. He opened up his eyes and looked around. "HEY! This is not so bad..." He finally admitted.
"See!? I TOLD you!" Kark smiled.
"And the water's actually... WARM..." Gallus admitted.
"It IS warm!" Kark agreed. "It's probably like this all year round..."
"It IS!" a random female seapony called out.
"THANK YOU!" Kark replied, bringing laughter from the crowd.
After about two minutes, Gallus said. "Okay, I've had enough. Let's just leave..."
"All right, Galli!" Kard said. He used his wings to push himself backwards towards the dock. When he got close enough, he lifted Gallus up so he can climb up. When Gallus was safely onto the dock, Kark hauled himself up as well.
They were met with applause and cheers from the hippogriffs as they walked away. The sea ponies slapped their front fins on the surface of the water as their own sign of appreciation. Some 'griffs even squawked in appreciation. "Thank you! Thank you!" Kark waved to them as he left.
"Congratulations, Gallus! You DID it!" Kark patted the young griffin on the back.
"You MADE me do it, though." Gallus said.
"Hey, what are friends for?" Kark patted Gallus on the back again.
For the rest of the morning, Kark and Gallus hung out and chillaxed at Harmonizing Heights. They played around with some of the rock crystal formations to see what kind of tones they'd produce. Kark was able to set up a sequence of five notes that he said was pretty "outer spacey"(OOC: The Close Encounters Of The Third Kind song). This made Gallus giggle.
At around midday, they headed back towards the town square. There was a luncheon being served at the communal hall for the Royal Guards. Sky Beak was there, and he invited Kark and Gallus to be his guests at the normally reserved for guards only luncheon. Both males got to meet some other Royal Guards that were some of Sky Beak's closest friends as well.
For the rest of the day, Kark and Gallus hung out at the town square, chatting it up with whoever wanted to talk to them and get to know them better.
By 5 PM, both males had to get ready to leave, for their train back to Ponyville was due to depart an hour or so later. Their baggage were already being brought down to the train station by hotel staff. Sky Beak was supposed to escort them back to the train station, but General Sea Spray showed up saying that he'll escort them back. Since it was the end of Sky Beak's duty shift for the day, he got to spend more time with his son, Terramar. Sky Beak exchanged some final goodbye hugs with Kark and Gallus, and invited them back to visit soon. Then the two males and Sea Spray flew down to the train station.
"I must say: You two have been virtual FRIENDSHIP AMBASSADORS the whole time you were here." Sea Spray said as soon as they landed on the train station's wooden platform.
"That's what we Equestrians do BEST..." Kark smiled.
Sea Spray chuckled.
"KARK! GALLUS!" they heard from their upper right. All three looked up to see Blue Wave swooping down to land next to them, and he was carrying something under his arm.
"I can't believe I almost forgot to show you this!" Blue Wave produced the painting he had promised Kark and Gallus. It showed the two males as he had first met them on the beach that day with Mount Aris in the backdrop and the cloudless blue sky that was prevalent that day. "What do you think?" Blue Wave grinned.
"It's BEAUTIFUL!" Kark was mesmerized.
"AWESOME!" Gallus commented. "Really nice piece of work!"
"WELL DONE, SON!" Sea Spray exclaimed. "That's your best work of art YET." He ruffled his son's mane.
"AWWWW, DAD..." Blue Wave blushed a bit. "I want you to HAVE this!" He handed the painting to Kark.
Kark was a bit taken aback. "Are you SURE, Blue Wave? A painting like this deserves to be up on your bedroom wall, or something..."
"NO!" Blue Wave immediately said. "I WANT you to have it... as my way of thanking you and Gallus for what you've done for me and my dad! Besides, I can always do up ANOTHER one..."
"Thank you. Thank you VERY MUCH!" Kark said as he took the painting.
"ALL ABOARD!" the train's pony conductor called as the locomotive started to rev up its engine.
"Well, I guess that's our cue!" Kark said. "Well, General, Thanks for everything." Kark stuck out his taloned hand for a shake, but Sea Spray surprised him by reaching up and hugging him.
"I should be the one thanking YOU, Kark..." Kark brought his taloned hand to Sea Spray's back. "It's been a pleasure..." Kark said.
"It seems that some of those Equestrian habits have rubbed off on ME!" Sea Spray chuckled as he finally released the hug.
Sea Spray then gave a goodbye hug to Gallus. Kark and Gallus did the same to Blue Wave, inviting him to come visit them in Ponyville. Sea Spray said he'd come by to see them at Twilight's School very soon.
With that, Kark and Gallus boarded the train, and soon found an empty bench that was big enough for both of them. They waved goodbye to Sea Spray and Blue Wave as the train pulled out.
"Well, Gallus, I'd say our first ever friendship mission was a HUGE success!" Kark said proudly.
"I couldn't agree more!" Gallus smiled.
Both males then shared a fist bump.
Kark then placed his arm around Gallus' shoulders. "So if ever you're called upon to go on another friendship mission with ME, would you accept?"
Gallus placed his own arm on Kark's shoulders. "In a HEARTBEAT..."
"I think this is the start of a BEE-YOO-TEE-FUL friendship!" Kark smiled brightly.
Both males laughed heartily as the train crossed the causeway back onto the mainland, and into the sunset.
(end song) "Mission Impossible Theme"