This was weird. Well, maybe not weird, considering where the dragon was right now, but it was odd. There were clouds under his feet, his scales were touching them, and they felt plush, like a thick, wooly carpet. He’d never stood on one before, and probably wouldn’t again, so he tried to enjoy it, at least for the moment. That moment was of course, very short, considering the speed of his hostess, who was flitting back and forth across the home that was hers, speaking so quickly that the dragon couldn’t follow her half the time, but since he knew what she was saying, as she’d said it a dozen times before, it didn’t matter too much.
“And then you’ve got to give Sweet Apple Acres a good shower, otherwise those trees are just gonna rot, and then Pinkie Pie’s place needs to be kept clear, I think Ditzy is gonna move some clouds over her house again, when they should be pushed out towards Everfree Forest, and then…” the list of things to do just kept getting longer, as the rainbow colored pegasus just kept moving, grabbing things, and stuffing them into her saddle bag. Oddly, she seemed to be laying them right back down again as she kept moving, showing how nervous she was.
“Dash, I’ve got this, I really do. You don’t have to worry about anything,” said the dragon, his long, lithe body, so different from the more western dragons Rainbow Dash was used to dealing with, moving like a serpent over the cloudy floor, grabbing her to stop her mad rush, and forcing her to settle down, at least for a moment.
“You’re sure? I mean, I know that glowy guy said you could handle this, but he also said I could be gone awhile, like weeks, are you sure you can play me to my friends and everyone while I’m gone?” she asked, her breath coming out in ragged gasps, even her stamina, quite high for a winged horse, drained, as she’d been dashing too and fro all night long, and this morning seemed to kick it into overdrive.
“That ‘glowy guy’ is quite good at picking replacements so the original can join his little band of merry….whatevers, and help stop the end of dreams, nightmares, and all that other good stuff. I can handle this. Heck, you should see some of the things I’ve played over the years. I was once a lord of the seas, a big white bird thing. I even went on a date in that form, and I looked darn good in that dress,” said the obviously male dragon, striking a pose that implied femininity, and then fluttering his eyes a bit, making Rainbow Dash chuckle a bit, an obviously needed bit of tension relief, as she now gently went around, and loaded the rest of her pack.
“Well, if you’re sure,” she said, the tone of her voice showing she still wasn’t positive about all this. Leaving Ponyville was a big thing, but then, she’d seen something that the others had apparently all forgotten about, a monster thing, something that looked like the Glowy Guy, two legs and everything, but worse. He glowed too, but where the Glowy Guy glowed warmly, like the sun, or a smile, the other glowy guy…he glowed like the light of a furnace, or a forge, like he would burn you, take everything you are into himself, and then make you into what he wanted. Discord, he was bad, so was Nightmare Moon, and all the monsters her and her friends had faced, but this guy, he was different. He was power given form, and she had to help stop him, if she could.
“I’m sure, and look, the Little God even gave me a new suit to wear,” he said, holding up something that might have been creepy in another context. It was a skin, or at least, it looked like a skin, but it wasn’t. It was a suit, like the ones he himself crafted from time to time, but more than the suits he’d ever made. This one looked like Rainbow Dash, down to the smallest detail. Every hair, follicle, and eyelash was designed to be Dash. Heck, it would even change his voice to sound like hers, as the pair had found out last night, when, as a gag, he’d taken out her mirror, and then stood where it was, until she’d walked past. Mind, he’d only kept the gag going for a moment, but it had been one heck of a funny moment.
The Pegasus nodded, looking through her saddle bag one last time, before walking to the door, and then opening it with her mouth. She stopped just as she got to the edge of her cloud home though. She looked down at everyone. All her friends, Fluttershy, Twilight, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and heck, even Rarity and the precocious Spike. She was going this to protect them all. She knew that could end badly, that she might not return, the Glowy Guy had admitted as much, but he’d also said her speed and dexterity would be an asset in stopping the other guy, and she needed him stopped. His kind of Order was worse than Chaos, and she would fight him.
“Well, take care of everyone, and remember, don’t give Pinkie Pie any ideas. She had some kind of bad dream the other day, and she’s scared I’m going to leave her forever, and I don’t want her to think I really did,” she told him, before taking off, launching off the cloud in a rainbow streak, and then vanishing just after she left. No portal or beam or anything, one minute she was there, and the next, not. Such was the power of the beings she was going to help, Gods, Authors, and others, but hopefully, she could help them. Smiling, the dragon made his way back into the house.
It was, like Dash, a place of speed. Everything was organized, in a way, shoved against the walls, and it would take the dragon a while to learn which wall held which stuff against it, but then, that was part of the fun of being what he was, a replacement. His job, he’d been told, was important too. His Author wasn’t one of the warriors, wasn’t a fighter, and so the dreams he dreamt, like Draco, weren’t fighters either. Draco did have a talent though, given by his Dreamer, and he intended to make the best use of it that he could, and so he walked over to where the Rainbow Dash suit lay, and began to climb inside.
It was here that he found his first difference between suits he made himself, and those others made for him. His suits felt warm to the touch, like they were part of him, and in a way, they were, but this one, it felt…alive. Not warm per say, just like it was made of real skin, and as he touched it, it seemed to latch onto him, hugging tight against him, like a small child, looking for a parent’s embrace. It was different, but in a good way, and without a second though, Draco found the hole in the suit’s spine, and began to put it on.
Even that felt odd though. His skin, once it touched the suit, had a numb quality to it, like he wasn’t in his own body anymore, and it almost made him panic, before he realized why it felt like that. The instant he touched the suit’s interior, he felt himself no longer, and instead, he felt the suit’s skin, it’s fur standing on end in excitement as it covered him, and it’s fur flowing gently in the small breeze that was passing through Rainbow Dash’s house. Smiling, he dove into the suit at that point, thinking that it was like a pool, and it would feel great, after he was all the way in.
He was right too, his head and body, slithering in like a serpent, found the suit, though seemingly small, the perfect fit for him, as every part of his skin made contact with the pony’s body, and replaced his own. It wasn’t like the second skins he wore. He could still feel himself when he was inside one of them. No, this was less that, and more becoming someone different. He didn’t feel that sensation of something between him and the world, as soon as he was fully inside the suit, the suit was him, his whole being, and it was awesome.
Energy coursed through him, his feathery wings flapping a bit to test their muscles, and his hooves, flat, but powerful, clopping on the cloud floor, which felt stable now, like a solid floor, though one that seemed to shift a bit if he put too much weight on it. Then there were the eyes. For a moment, after his head dived inside, he saw nothing. It wasn’t just darkness, he knew darkness, this was blindness, like his eyes had been plucked out, but with a startling clarity, he was suddenly seeing what the eyes of the Rainbow Dash suit saw, everything tinged slightly with brighter colors than before, showing him a world that seemed to be constantly moving, as the bright colors shifted a bit, showing him just why Rainbow was as speedy as she was, she had to keep up with the world she saw.
“Neat,” said a voice, and as the night before, Draco was surprised. His suits, while neat, were still just suits, and he was still him beneath them, but this suit…wasn’t a suit. He was Rainbow Dash, from the way she saw the world, to her voice, which sounded awesome coming out of his…her own mouth, making him giggle like a little filly, before taking into the air, flapping her wings a few times to get airborne, and then just fluttering a bit about her room. Before he could get used to flying though, he felt his wings lose their power of flight, and he fell towards the floor, landing heavily, and making an impression in the clouds.
Turning her head….Draco Dash looked between the wings to see that hold into which a dragon had climbed to become a pony. It was weird. She could see the skin beneath, and the fur of the dragon’s back, but it was like it was someone else, and with a shrug, she started to bring the two parts of the whole together, the skin between her wings linking up, and the seam just vanishing. There wasn’t a single gap now. This body was hers, though deep in her mind, she knew she had another within. That didn’t matter though, as she flapped her wings again, and with a shout of joy, rocketed out of the cloud house, and made her way into the sky.
“Are you sure about this Twi? I mean, Rainbow Dash is supposed to be here any minute,” said the cowgirl pony, looking to the purple unicorn, who had a book floating in front of her.
“Well, you said you just needed water right, and I found this spell that draws water out of the ground and then-“ The unicorn was cut off as the Earth Pony with a the cowgirl hat smiled at her, seeing the flaw in Twilight Sparkle’s plan without needing much effort. Sometimes, Twilight, probably the most book smart of all her friends, could be rather silly.
“And Twi, just where do I need the water to help my apple trees grow?” said the orange, apple farmer pony.
“Well, it needs to be in the gro…oh, well, that just stinks. I spent all day researching this one,” she said, putting her face in her book and then sighing. When she’d first gotten to Ponyville, such a set back, her magic not being able to fix everyone’s problem, would have upset Twilight to no end, but now, after the Parasprites, the whole thing with Zecora, and the incident during Winter Wrap Up. After all that, she’d learned to put up with disappointment, and Applejack, with a smirk, walked over and put her hoof on the other girl’s shoulder in a sign of support, making the two of them smile.
“Let’s just wait for Rainbow Dash…which, speak of the pony, I think that’s her,” she said, pointing to a streak in the sky, that was quickly moving among the clouds, bouncing off them like they were trampolines, and laughing loudly enough to be heard down on the farm.
“Well, she seems to be having a good time up there. Hey Dash!” shouted up Applejack, waving her hoof, above, Draco Dash saw her, and still laughing, shot down, enjoying her mobility, as she moved at nearly the speed of sound, and then, with only the slightest effort, stopped right in front of Applejack.
“Rainbow Dash, reporting for-OW!” she said, giving a salute, only to whack herself in the head with her hoof pretty hard, making the others look at her a bit weird. It had looked to them like she’d forgotten how hard her own hoof was, with the way she’d moved, and Twilight got closer, looking at a fairly good bump already forming on the pegasus’ head.
“Are you okay Rainbow?” she asked, searching her memory for healing spells, but remembering only ones for the more serious maladies, like disease, or burns.
“I’m fine, I just have to remember that I don’t have ha….er, I mean, I have to move the clouds over Sweet Apple Acres so that Applejacks trees get a good soaking. I’m on it!” she shouted the last, and took off into the sky again, leaving the other two to stare after her.
“You think she hit herself on the head or sumpthan?” asked Applejack, as the Pegasus, never enthusiastic about her job, was hooping and hollarin like a pig in a fresh mud patch. Twilight, for her part, found the behavior odd, but nothing too different from what Rainbow Dash normally did. At least this time she’d hadn’t pulled out that homemade Wonder Bolt Costume she had hidden away, and started flying with it on.
“Maybe she just finally woke up on the right side of the bed. Or maybe Spitfire is coming into town again,” she said, remembering when Spitfire had visited earlier that month, one of the Wonder Bolts that Rainbow respected, and the Pegasus had run herself ragged keeping the skies clear, or rainy, or whatever was needed the whole time she was in town, so much so that she’d only spent a few minutes with her before she’d gone back to Canterlot to do something for Celestia.
“I don’t know, she just doesn’t seem like herself today,” said Applejack. In the meantime, Draco Dash had been gathering the clouds over the farm, forming a pretty large bank of them over the apple orchard. Then she started to hop up and down on them, giggling like Pinkie Pie at a party, and causing a downpour to start, making Twilight shout out, and cover her book with her body, as she dashed towards the farm house, quickly followed by Applejack, who noticed that Rainbow, who was rather lax at her jobs at most times, had seemingly been a bit too eager this time, the clouds looking like they would pour all afternoon, and maybe even into the morning.
“See, this is what I’m talking about,” she said.
“Well, she does seem to be into her work today. Is that such a bad thing though? Weren’t you saying yesterday how she’d missed a drizzle or two last week?” responded Twilight.
“Yeah, and this’ll certainly make up for that bit o’ laziness, but I don’t think flooding the farm’s gonna do much better than letting it turn into a desert,” said Applejack as the two reached the farm, and then stood beneath an overhang, looking out at the orchard. Despite what she’d said, the trees seemed to be enjoying the rain, their branches really looking like they were greener, and the apples looking even juicer that usual.
“So, what do you think? Not bad for my first day on the job?” asked Draco Dash, as she descended from the heavens in a pillar of light, a hold in the clouds allowing her to do so without being drenched.
“What in tarnation are you blabbin’ about? You’ve been the Weather Warden for Ponyville since you were a filly,” asked the cowgirl, looking at her ‘friend’ with an upraised eyebrow, and Draco inwardly cursed. She was usually better about playing the Role she was given than she was being today, but Rainbow Dash was such a fun role, with the flying, and weather control, and all her friends to look forward to getting to know.
“Well, I uh, I mean, this is the first day of the rest of my career. Maybe I want to start being better at it than I was before,” she said, smiling a bit nervously.
“Hmm….I’ll buy it, for now, but you better make sure this storm stops before you erode the ground under my trees. Won’t do them no good if the whole orchard gets washed away,” said Applejack, rubbing her chin with her hoof, and Draco Dash, saluting again, this time a bit more carefully, zoomed back up into the clouds.
“Nothin about that seemed weird to ya’ll?” asked Applejack again, as the hole overhead closed up, and the rains began to slack off a little, showing that above, Draco Dash was moving a few clouds away from the storm.
“Well, you’re right, Rainbow isn’t normally that good about doing her job, but I’m not gonna say no, when she starts doing everything she’s supposed to do,” commented Twilight, smiling as the storm moved away from the farm, and allowed her to march down the road towards Ponyville, and home. Applejack, looking up at the Pegasus, as she streaked across the sky, could do nothing but shy, shake her head, and wonder, not for the first time, if maybe she thought a little too hard about things, before she went off to check on another field, the daisy crop being neglected again because of the apples, and needing her attention to keep the flowers from withering.