The prompt: Write an adventure story in which Daring Do teams up with one of the Mane Six to go on a rescue mission to save Rainbow Dash.
Full disclosure: I totally didn't read the prompt right, and so failed to write an adventure story. Have some drama instead.
“You.” She glared at the Pegasus across from her, anger flaring in her chest. She wanted to yell, wanted to scream, but she couldn’t. Not here, and not now. That wouldn’t be cool. It would ruin her image, and maybe more importantly – maybe – it would make a bad impression on her adoring public. Instead, she kept her voice level and her expression calm. “What are you doing here?”
She figured that keeping calm didn’t have to mean being nice. And she only had so much self-restraint.
A hush hung over the crowd, kids and grown ups – most of whom were pretending to be parents, and some of whom might actually be parents – staring on in silence as the scene unfolded. The kids probably say her confronting some diabolical doer of dastardly deeds. She hoped. She really hoped they didn’t see their hero calling out a terrified yellow mare who hadn’t done anything but say hello. That’d be really, really tough to explain – she could do it, of course. She could do anything. But she didn’t want to.
As for the adults…ugh. Most of them probably didn’t have a clue. But some of them, without doubt, were gazing up at her and thinking things like ‘Oooooh, she’s in love! She totally wants to have her babies!’ That made her angry. It made her furious. Because, if she was perfectly honest with herself, it was true. But they couldn’t know that. They weren’t allowed to know that. She never failed. She was a hero.
“I…I just…you said…” The Pegasus whimpered, and she was pretty sure any chance of her being considered a ‘diabolical evildoer’ flew out the window as she did. If it hadn’t been for the crowd, she might have groaned. Instead she stood, forelegs folded over her chest and leaning on the podium. Her voice, when she spoke, was one of practised disdain.
“Oh, I know what I said. But that was before I knew you were a spy sent to beguile me by…” Think fast. Think fast. Not fast enough. “The Pink Paradox!” Internally, she groaned. What kind of name was that? She couldn’t change it now, though. “And after all the good times we had, you run off with…” Oops “The… diamond heart of…Discord…and leave me for dead!?”
The other mare blinked her adorable traitor eyes, clearly confused. She tilted her head slightly, opened her mouth. Closed it again. Blinked a few more times and then, very very slowly, turned to look out over the crowd of ponies assembled before the stage. Dozens and dozens of them, all staring straight at her. A moment before Fluttershy froze, Daring Do realised her mistake.
Even as the petrified Pegasus began to emit a low whining sound, Daring raised a hoof, signalling for the curtains to drop. She watched, in slow motion, as the mare she loved – had loved – spun on a hoof and tried to bolt away. And she felt the collision as she landed in front of the panicking pony, wrapping her forelegs around her and hugging her gently. “Relax, Fluttershy. It’s okay. I’ve got you.”
Even to her own ears, her normally booming voice sounded quiet, dull and empty.
“You…why did you….Discord…there were…”
“Yeah, I know. There were ponies.”
“I…I trusted –“
“Yeah, I trusted you too. Difference is, I didn’t betray that trust.” She felt the other pony shrink, just a little, in her arms and felt a little surge of joy. It was petty. Beyond petty. But she had learned to take the little victories, even when they hurt. Didn’t mean she didn’t hate herself for it.
“You…you did! You made me look like….like a monster in front of…”
“In front of all the little kids who came out to see their hero? Yeah, I guess I kinda did. Thing is, Shy, you’re a moron.” That felt good. If slightly sickening. “You know I don’t take surprises well. You knew I was gonna flip out when I saw you. And you still decided to walk up onto the stage in the middle of a press conference and say ‘Hello, Daring Do. Um, if it’s not too much trouble will you melt like butter and do exactly what I want you to because I’m gorgeous and you’re stupid?’”
“That’s not what I said!”
“No! Really? Ugh.”
Fluttershy pushed away from her – hard – and Daring Do found herself lying on her back, blinking up at the Pegasus, who stared down at her with wet, hurt eyes. “I’m sorry.” She whispered, “I’m so sorry. For everything.” It wasn’t the first time Daring had heard those words, and even now they still rung hollow. Fluttershy wasn’t sorry. That wasn’t the kind of thing you did to ponies if you were just going to be sorry.
She didn’t say it, though. Not for any sentimental reason – when she opened her mouth the Pegasus started rambling again, and she had no choice but to listen.
“I…I thought if I came in public you’d…have to be nice. You wouldn’t be able to yell. I know that was wrong – you have every right to be angry, and I don’t really have any right at all to ask you for anything. Especially not without…not without listening to what you have to say, first.”
Every right to be angry, huh? Yeah. She did. She knew it. It wasn’t her fault. It had never been her fault. She was Daring Do – she didn’t betray ponies.
And yet…she wasn’t angry. Well, that was a lie. But she wasn’t angry at Fluttershy. She hadn’t been for a long time. She stood, as she spoke, her voice like daggers. “I only have one thing to say. One question for you.”
Her heart fluttered a little as Fluttershy’s eyes met hers – she looked so afraid. Of her. But she nodded anyway. She’d always been braver than Daring.
“Was it worth it?” Celestia, she sounded so pathetic. She shouldn’t care. She shouldn’t want so badly for Fluttershy to be happy. But she did. “Was she worth it? Does she treat you good?” Okay, that was totally three questions. But she was allowed three questions, if she wanted them.
Her heart stopped in her chest when Fluttershy tore her eyes away, casting her eyes down. She knew the answer before she even heard it. “She doesn’t know.” It was only a whisper, but it echoed like…like…a big bell or something. “I never…I couldn’t….”
I couldn’t tell her, Daring Do. I had no trouble at all asking you out. Telling you I loved you. I had no trouble holding you and telling you that you were the best pony in the world. Because it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter if I lost you – you didn’t matter. I just didn’t know it yet.
Daring stomped a hoof, and rolled her eyes, spinning away from the other pony. The stinging in her eyes meant she couldn’t look at her. Wouldn’t look at her. Nopony got to see Daring Do cry. “Then what are you here for? Shouldn’t you be declaring your love and having smooches with Rainbow Dancer or whatever her name is!?” It was Rainbow Dash, of course. She knew it as well as she knew her own. And she hated it. The name, and the pony it belonged to.
“…Rainbow Dash. She um…Oh…” There was a hitch in the Pegasus voice, and it caught Daring’s attention “She’s hurt. Badly. She um…she could die.”
Good. The thought echoed up from deep within her and she hated herself for it. In an instant, it was gone. “Let me guess, then. You and your little friends, you’re a big deal – Elements of Harmony and all that. If there was a magic relic that could fix it, you’d be all over it in a hoofbeat and you and her’d be making out on a cloud somewhere.” She bit down on her tongue as the other Pegasus whimpered. She might have to take her brother up on those etiquette lessons, one day. “And that means one of two things. Either your friends don’t believe there’s a chance, and you don’t seem like the quitting types to me. Or you’ve found yourself a little miracle cure relic, and it’s….I dunno, split into pieces I guess? So you need me to get one of them. About right?”
“Oh…uhm…kind of.” There was hesitation, in that beautiful voice. But also determination like Daring had never heard. “You see…Twilight has to stay with Rainbow Dash. To…” To keep her alive “And um… Rarity, Applejack and Pinkie Pie went off to search for a cure – they came to Canterlot, to talk to the Princess. But…Twilight mentioned this…other possibility. And yes, it’s a relic – heavily guarded, in a temple not too far from here. She didn’t want to risk losing the chance for an actual cure.”
Daring heard a long, shuddering sigh and fought the urge to hug Fluttershy very, very tightly.
“And um…I knew you were in Canterlot so I…” A swallow “I know if anypony can help me find it, if it’s real, it’s you. Please. I can’t let her die. I have to tell her.”
Daring snorted, “I could’ve told you that a few years ago, idiot.” She turned to face the Pegasus and looked her in the eye. “Tell you what – promise me you’ll tell her, as soon as she’s up outta that bed, and we’ll go get whatever doodad you’re after.”
“Promise. If she’s worth saving, if she’s worth feeling this way about, she’s damn well worth telling.”
“Good. Lets go save your stupid little friend.”
As Fluttershy launched herself forward, throwing her forelegs around Daring’s neck, Daring felt a little better. Not a lot. But maybe saving this Rainbow Dash would make her a better pony. A pony who deserved a pony as wonderful as Fluttershy. If not…at least it might be fun. And maybe they’d be friends again, by the end of it.