The lazy floating clouds of Equestria floated over the small village of Ponyville, and a cool morning breeze swept past the sleepy ponies rising from their beds. From an elegant cloud house on the outskirts came a blur of colors, a blue Pegasus knocking apart clouds as she made her way to the outskirts of town. Her mane flew in the wind, her eyes scanning the streets beneath her as she went.
After little more than a minute she spotted a young filly with a purple mane, a good friend of hers. The filly was playing with two of her friends, a white unicorn and cream earth pony filly. They were all playing, tossing a ball back and forth, albeit missing most of their passes. Rainbow Dash could only shake her head and chuckle, pleased at how innocent they were, how great it was to live in Equestria.
She circled a few times before landing nearby, a cocky smile on her face. “Heya kiddo! How you doing?” The little pegasus gasped and charged over with a hug.
“Rainbow Dash!” she cheered, grasping her hero tight in her forelegs.
“Hey Scoots,” she said, stroking the little filly’s mane. She glanced over and spotted the ball they had been tossing around. “You fillies playing hoofball?”
Applebloom trotted forward, sighing slightly. “Yeah, but we ain’t too good at it.”
Sweetie Bell sighed. “We can’t catch, and we can’t pass.”
Scootaloo also looked down. “We were starting to wonder if maybe we should just try something else.”
Dash looked at their disappointed faces, trying to think of a way to cheer them up. Her eyes drifted back to the ball, and a light bulb went off in her head. She leaned in and smiled at them. “Y’know, I used to play hoofball back in the old day. I could show you all a few tricks!”
Their eyes brightened up immediately, and Dash got to work. She started tossing the ball to them, catching every ball they threw to her and running amazing plays down the field. The fillies gave happy cheers and whoops in response to each amazing spectacle. She was just glad to be hanging out with the girls, cheering them up and inspiring them to do their best.
There was nothing like an easy Equestrian morning.
The Equestrian Guard flew as fast as their wings could carry them. The princesses had placed all their faith in them, and they had to move. There was trouble on the horizon and they had been tasked to stop it. There was no time to rest or stop; there wasn’t even any time to think about what awaited them or make plans. Their mission was clear. Ponyville was their objective, and more specifically, the bearers of the elements of harmony.
Celestia and Luna help them if they fail.
Dash trotted alongside the giggling fillies, content in the knowledge that she brought those smiles to their faces. Loyalty and love often intercrossed, not that she’d willingly admit it; she did have an image to maintain, and acting sappy wouldn’t make her any cooler. The schoolhouse came into view, the tall red building striking a stark contrast against the nature around it. She stopped and turned to the fillies. “All right, you guys have fun at school. We’ll hang out later, kay?”
Applebloom and Sweetie Bell smiled and thanked her before heading out. Scootaloo hung out for an extra second, pausing to give the mare a hug. “You’re the best, Rainbow Dash.”
Dash blushed. “Thanks kiddo. Now come on, you gotta get to class.”
The filly nodded and chased after her friends. “I’ll see you later Dash!” she shouted back.
Dash was quiet, watching them turn and leave with a smile on her face. Yep, nothing like a beautiful Equestrian morning. She took to the skies, gaining altitude and looking at the town from the air. Everypony was out and about, attending to their business and socializing as usual. There were no catastrophes, accidents, troubles, problems, or mental breakdowns today, just peaceful ponies doing peaceful things.
She floated along lazily, occasionally bucking a stray cloud or testing a branch as a pleasant resting place. She was almost at town square when something caught her eye. Flying in the distance were a number of chariots, white and gold and loaded with ponies in similar armor. Dash stared at it, more than a little confused; normally the guard would only come to town when there was some big event or crisis happening, and there wasn’t anything planned for today.
She looked the other way, scanning the distant hills and trees. Sure enough there didn’t seem to be anything wrong, at least not on the surface. She floated slightly higher, trying to get a better vantage point to see from. There were dots beneath the trees, running fast through the undergrowth with furious abandon. As they came closer the broke through the canopy and Dash froze.
Changelings; shapeshifters who fed on love and wrecked panic and hatred wherever they went. Rainbow couldn’t believe that they had come to Ponyville. She watched carefully for a second, trying to figure out where they would attack first. Much to her horror, it looked like it was the school house. She bolted into action, hooking onto a chariot and flying full speed towards the schoolhouse. She wouldn’t let any colts or fillies get hurt, not if she could help it.
She pulled up and saw the Cutie Mark Crusaders running away, a handful of other ponies behind them. They were horrified, tears streaking down their faces as they ran. The school house itself was a horrible sight; something had caught fire and spread throughout the building, and all around it were the changeling shock troops. Ponies lay helpless and incapacitated at their hooves, not moving, struggling… breathing. They weren’t breathing, and their eyes were wide and still,
Dash herded the young ponies into the chariot and took off towards town. They needed to get someplace safe; someplace the changelings wouldn’t be able to hurt any of them. She made a bolt for the town library, home to the most powerful unicorn in all of Equestria. Unfortunately, the changelings reached the town along with her.
The royal guards had set up defensive positions and were trying their hardest to fend off the hoards of changelings, but already the casualties were evident. Dash made a beeline for the library, unloading the children inside before following to see Twilight Sparkle.
Upon entering Dash was able to spot not only Twilight, but Fluttershy, Rarity, Applejack, and Pinkie Pie all running about, some tending to wounded guards and others fortifying and checking supplies. The arrival of the ponies from the school caused a slight ruckus as they all spoke over one another to say what happened and question why things had begun to go wrong.
“Rainbow Dash! I’m so glad you’re alright!” Twilight pulled Dash into a hug as she spoke. “We were all so worried; none of us had seen you this morning, and then out of nowhere the changelings started attacking!”
“I know Twi.” Dash sat down and sighed. “This is… this is not cool at all. I can’t believe how bad this is.” Somewhere in the distance there was the sound of a building collapsing, causing the fillies to scream in fear. “Sweet Celestia, what do we do?”
Twilight’s horn glowed and a list floated over towards the two of them. “I’ve actually made up a list- stop giving me that look Dash. Now listen; Applejack is going to keep reinforcing the civilian buildings, keeping everypony we can safe indoors. Rarity and Fluttershy are hard at work bandaging and healing the wounded and fatigued, and Pinkie Pie has using her Pinkie Sense to get around town and relay messages to everypony we can reach.”
Dash nodded, glad to see that there was a plan. “Okay, so what are we doing?”
Twilight looked away, casting a glance back to the Pegasus. “I’ve been hard at work keeping everypony organized, and most likely I’ll be needed to set up a counter offensive.” She stopped, looking around at the ponies gathered and levitated several sets of sacks over. “Dash, we’ll need you to take the young ones and run.” There were tears in her eyes as she spoke. “We’re loading them up now, along with some more supplies. In order to keep them all safe and away from this… war, we need you to take them as deep into the Everfree Forest as you can.”
Rainbow was shocked, eyes wide and jaw low. “No way.”
“No way. You’re kidding. No!” Anger and confusion showed plainly on her face, and she shouted at Twilight, “I can’t leave Ponyville behind! I won’t!”
“Rainbow, we need you to keep them safe! You’re the only one we can trust with this!”
“I won’t abandon my homes! I don’t care if I have to fight a million changelings; I’m not leaving my home behind!”
A burst of magic crossed Dash’s face, slapping her to awareness. She looked to Twilight and saw the sorrow and despair on the Unicorn’s face. “Do you think telling you this is easy? Do you think that I just decided this to torture you? We have a good reason for this plan. Dash, you’re the most loyal and courageous of all of us; if anypony can be trusted to keep them safe, it’s you.”
Dash’s gaze fell to the floor, and tears blurred her vision as Twilight continued. “The others, all of them agreed and set everything up. You might need to scavenge a little, but the general necessities are covered. Once things have quieted down we’ll come out and find you. I promise.”
Dash looked up, trying her best to keep from weeping. “Pinkie Pie swear?”
Twilight gave a weak smile. “Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye.”
They pulled each other into a hug. Not another word was said, not even when Dash hitched herself up to the covered carriage that held the youth and pulled away from the town. She didn’t notice the weight or hear the noise of the passengers in the back. The only sounds that reached her ears were of her town at war.
Only once did she look back, while standing at the edge of the forest. There were more changelings swarming in, more plumes of smoke from houses going up in flames, more signs of destruction. Her hooves trembled beneath her and her teeth clenched tight, grinding against each other as she stared at the devastation. She finally let out a scream of pain and anguish the likes of which hadn’t been heard in Equestria since the age of Discord. Her cries crossed the land and touched the ears and hearts of everypony who could hear.
Her hooves and wings pulled her farther and farther away from Ponyville, pushing her until she was drenched in sweat and burned with every movement. Only then did she collapse to the ground. Everything that had happened weighed heavily on her mind and she could only imagine how horrified the fillies and colts in the back were. She groaned as she stood up and moved to let them out, putting on her best face as they came out.
First were the Cutie Mark Crusaders, huddling close to each other as they exited. Next came Snips and Snails, the two colts who had once brought an Ursa Minor to town. To Rainbow’s surprise, next out was a very shaky looking Spike. She hadn’t known the baby dragon had been in there, but was more than accepting anyways. After him came Featherweight, Dinky Doo, Pipsqueak, and finally Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon.
Dash looked at their faces, disheartened at the unhappiness that pulled them down; it burned her to see what the changelings had done to them, the worry those monsters had heaped onto them. Every ounce of her being wanted nothing more than to leave and fight changelings for committing such a crime, but she knew deep down that she couldn’t. Most of the little ones in front of her had lived in Ponyville their entire lives.
Whatever she was feeling, she was certain it couldn’t come close to the emotions within them. She had to stay, to take care of them. It was her duty, her promise, and she intended to carry it out with her final breath.
Celestia as her witness, these children wouldn’t have to face the horrors of this war as long as she drew breath.
Hey everyone. Sorry I'm so late in uploading anything. Not going to burden you down with any long speeches, just hope you like this. Comments, Criticism, Questions, Concerns, and Suggestions are all welcome and accepted. Thank you for your time.