Rainbow Dash stopped staring at the ground, and the first thing she saw was Pinkie Pie's bright blue eyes. A breath escaped her lips as she saw her friend waving towards her from the front entrance to Sugarcube Corner. More bright colors joined the fray, with Rarity winking and Twilight giggling and Fluttershy and Applejack strolling around the bend.
Pinkie Pie cupped her hooves around her mouth and hollered something before motioning Rainbow Dash dramatically towards the group.
With a bright smile, Rainbow wasted no time. She blurred over the rooftops of Ponyville on sapphiric wings. Touching down in a billowing cloud of dust, she struck a heroic pose... only to blink confusedly at what she saw.
Pinkie Pie was making a strange face. Twilight Sparkle was squinting. Fluttershy and Rarity flinched in disgust while Applejack marched up and pointed worrisomely at Rainbow's face.
Rainbow Dash was confused. She turned to look in the windows of Sugarcube Corner. Her reflection glossed over. In a blink, her eyes morphed into red-on-yellow phantoms of their usual ruby luster. Before she had a chance to react to this, a lock of her mane fell limply from her head.
She fell on her haunches and raised two hooves in time to catch the limp hairs. When they fell in her grasp, they lost all of their color, turning to a pallid gray... along with the rest of her coat. She gasped, glancing at her limbs, trying to find where her bright blue hues had disappeared to. She heard a whimpering sound.
Spinning, Rainbow Dash glanced towards her friends, but they were gone. Sugarcube Corner had also vanished, and in its place was a dense wall of green foliage. Rainbow hyperventilated, finding herself surrounded by a labyrinth of emerald hedges. She flexed her wing muscles, but all her feathers were suddenly gone. Just as she felt the urge to scream, she heard the whimper again, only this time it was directly overhead.
She tried looking straight up, but her neck was being weighed down by a golden pendant. After much sweat and aching, she finally gazed skyward, only to be flooded with a wall of ash.