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35w, 2dA breif appology for the lack of promised updates. 2 comments · 66 views
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Dreams of Loyalty Chapter 1
In which Rainbow Dash has a nightmare, and Pinkie Pie acts far too self-aware.
“Thanks again fer help’n me with these here apples, Twilight,” Applejack said as the two of them carried the last of that days harvest in from orchard. Accompanying the two ponies was the ever-present Spike, facing backwards while riding atop his caretakers back as usual.
“It was no problem at all, A.J.” Twilight replied, smiling back as Spike continued to mutter to himself while he “sorted” though the apples in her saddle bags.
Celestia’s sun hung high in the early afternoon sky, warming land below while a cool breeze carried with it the smell of freshly turned soil from Big Macintosh’s plow, and sawdust from Applebloom’s latest construction project. It was a beautiful day all things considered, though somehow it all seemed so…
“Say Twilight,” Applejack suddenly asked, slowing down and furrowing her brow as she looked out over the vast fields of her beloved apple trees. “Does this all seem a migh’ bit… familiar to you?”
“Now that you mention it I am getting a strong feeling of Déjà vu,” Twilight agreed as she glanced back at her fireproof assistant. Spike paused in his digging to look back at her in confusion.
“Day jar what now?” Applejack asked, coming to a stop to stare at her.
“Déjà vu,” Twilight repeated, also coming to a stop. “It means the feeling that this moment has happened before, and you’re right, this does feel an awful lot like the day we got our tickets to the Gala last year.” Spike’s face dawned with comprehension before he and Twilight both gave small shudders as they remembered the terrible mess that day had become after the arrival of said tickets.
“Let’s hope we don’t have to go through that again,” Spike added as he went back to his rummaging. “No…. Nope… Na ah…”
“It does seem an awful lot like tha’ day don’ it?” Applejack’s gaze again drifted to the tops of her family’s prized orchard as they resumed walking.
“An if Ah remember correctly, there was a certain lazy blue weather mare nap’n in mah…” The farmer’s words were interrupted as a disgruntled moan came from one of the lower branches of a nearby tree. The three friends looked up and there, sure enough, was a familiar cyan pegasus with a rainbow colored mane and tail, sleeping on her back along one of the thicker limbs of the apple tree, complete with fluffy white pillow and pink blanket.
“Cosh’ tarn it, Rainbow,” Applejack swore as she slid off her heavy saddle bags and stomped over to the tree her feathered friend was currently occupying. “How many times have ah told you not to go nap’n in mah appletrees!” She was just about to give the tree a good buck to shake the unconscious pegasus from her perch when Twilight stopped her.
“Applejack, wait!” the unicorn called out in a heavy whisper, putting up at the tree branch.
“Don’ worry none, Twilight. Ah’ll make sure to catch her ‘fore she hits the ground. Ah’ve done this plenty of times,” the farm pony assured her. “Though you would think she’d of gotten the hint by now…” She mumbled, rearing up on to her front legs to give the tree a well practiced kick.
“No, look!” Twilight interrupted again, pointing at Dash worriedly. The blue speedster was tossing her head back and forth on the pillow, her breath coming in heavy gasps and her wings furling and unfurling over the sides of the tree limb. Deciding that knocking the pegasus out of a tree might not be the best way to wake her obviously troubled friend, Applejack let Twilight levitate down the sleeping mare, along with her pillow and blanket.
“Rainbow?” Applejack asked as she shook her friend by the shoulder. Dash only tossed her head and continued to moan. Spike slid off of Twilight’s back as she moved closer and began gently prodding the pegasus as well. It only seemed to make things worse however, as Dash began kicking her legs under her blanket and tossed her head more violently. Her breathing became faster and her face contorted in pain.
“Dash? Dash, please wake up!” Twilight almost begged as she grabbed the pony by both shoulders.
“NO!” Rainbow screamed as she bolted upright with a start, nearly cracking skulls with the unicorn as she did so. Half awake, or perhaps just disoriented, the mare looked around in a panic as tears fell freely from her rose colored eyes.
“Easy there, sugar cube,” A.J. said carefully as she reached out a hoof to rub Dash’s back. Twilight also reached to steady the trembling mare. Dash continued to blink and look around until she seemed to recognize her friends. She looked at both of them for only before she suddenly reached out with both hoof and wing to pull them into a tight hug. Stunned, the unicorn and earth pony sat down beside her and wrapped their forelegs around their friend, cradling the tomboyish pony as she gasped and tried to fight back the tears leaking from her clenched eyes. They glanced at each other trading looks of concern and confusion. Neither of them had ever seen the fearless Rainbow Dash so scared and vulnerable before, even counting the hours prior to the best young flyers competition.
“I-it’s ah’ll right Rainbow. It was just a dream. Come on now, shh. It’s ah’ll right,” Applejack continued, trying to comfort her friend by rubbing her back and giving her a gentle squeeze.
Spike meanwhile stared uselessly at the trio. Rainbow Dash, one of the bravest and coolest ponies he knew was practically sobbing as she clung to two of her best friends like a scared filly. It just didn’t seem real. It was like if Rarity had suddenly decided to work in a garbage dump, or if Pinkie Pie began to make sense. He just didn’t know what to do.
Some movement off to his right caught his attention. Looking over he saw a large red stallion and a small yellow filly galloping up from the farm house, no doubt coming to investigate Dash’s earlier scream upon waking up. That wasn’t good. Dash prided herself on her reputation as fearless top flyer of Equestria, and while Big Mac might keep his mouth shut, little Applebloom…
Damage control! That’s what he could do. He’d be doing something helpful and it would get him away from this… this scene.
While the little dragon took off to intercept the Apple family, Rainbow Dash was beginning to collect herself. Twilight and Applejack felt their friend's wings begin to slowly slide away as her breathing started to relax and resume a normal rhythm. The two glanced at one another again before cautiously removing themselves from the cyan pegasus, watching carefully as she quickly wiped her eyes and stood up, her expression stern and almost… angry?
“Easy there, Nelly,” Applejack cautioned as she put out a hoof to steady Dash by the shoulder as the mare stumbled slightly, her legs still weak from her sudden emotional collapse.
“I’m fine,” Dash spat as she glared down at her wobbly limbs. The earth pony ignored her and kept her hoof where it was. The pegasus closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Tossing her head so her rainbow pattern mane could loosen itself from where it had stuck to her sweat drenched face and neck, Dash let the movement carry down to the rest of her body, trying to shake loose her feathers and getting rid of the trembling in her legs, as well as forcing the earth pony to remove her hoof.
“Rainbow, you are not fine,” Twilight argued as Dash continued to violently twist this way and that. “Whatever that nightmare was it had you scared to death!”
“I said I’m fine!” Dash snapped as she stopped twisting to glare up at the unicorn.
“Rainbow Dash! Wha’ in the hay has gotten into you?” Dash jumped as Applejack rounded on her. “First ya wake screaming like Nigh’mare Moon ‘ad come back ta gobble yer flank, then ya bite our heads off for tryin’ to help you!” Rose colored eyes met emerald green and for a moment Dash wondered if the cowpony had been taking staring lessons from Fluttershy. They held the glare for only a moment, then the farmer’s eyes softened into a look of concern. The earth pony's tone also became more sincere as well, almost big sisterly. “We’re yer friends, Dash. We're worried about ya, so please just tell us what’s wrong?”
After holding Applejack’s gaze for another second, the pegasus blinked and turned her head to look away.
“It’s nothing,” She said quietly, her eyes fixed on the ground. “It’s just a stupid dream. I’ll be fine.”
“Rainbow please,” Twilight began, but Dash cut her off, although her voice was still quiet.
“Really, it’s okay. Look, thanks for… ya know… helping me, but it’s fine, really, I got this under control.” As Dash began gathering up her blanket and pillow, Applejack and Twilight watched her dubiously. Bedding securely in her mouth Dash looked back at her friends before sighing and dropping belongings back on the ground again. “Honestly guys I’m fine! Look!” Dash took to the air, rising well above the tree line before she began doing a series of flips and turns to demonstrate she was still in possession of her “mad skills.”
“See?” she said landing gracefully in front of her audience with her trademark grin. “I’m totally cool. Nothing wrong.” Twilight and Applejack looked at each other. Dash certainly seemed to be back to her usual self, but still…
“Well… ah’ll right then,” Applejack said, still not entirely convinced, “If yer sure yer okay,”
“Positive,” The pegasus confirmed as she began to gather up her bedding again. “An do’n werwy.” She mumbled though a mouthful of pillow. Putting it under a foreleg she continued. “I’m totally okay now. But… thanks again for… ya know.”
“Any time,” Twilight said, moving forward and giving Dash a quick hug before she could take off again. The pegasus blushed, but returned the hug all the same. Then she picked up her blanket and took off.
“Oh, one other thing,” The speedster added, stopping in a hover to look down at the two terrestrial bound ponies. “Could you guys not mention this to anypony, especially Fluttershy or Pinkie Pie? I mean, Fluttershy will just worry and Pinkie'll probably try to throw me a party to cheer me up or something.”
“Don’t worry,” Twilight said. “But if you do have any more problems promise you’ll come by the library, okay?”
“I already did,” Dash called back, and with that she sped off for home leaving a rainbow trail in her wake. Twilight blinked in confusion as she and Applejack stared after the retreating pegasus.
“Ya’ really think she’s gonna be okay?”
“Maybe. She seemed alright once she had shaken off… whatever it was she dreamed about. I read somewhere that nightmares can sometimes be caused by stress or bad food. Maybe she just ate some bad hay or something?”
“Maybe…” Applejack trailed off, watching Dash disappear into her cloud crafted home in the distance. “But what did she mean, ‘Ah already did?”
“I don’t know…” Twilight said, frowning. “Wait…” She looked up at the sky and tapped a hoof on her chin as if trying to remember something. Then her eyes lit up. “Oh! Last week she came into the library and checked out a book on dreams!”
“Wait, last week?” Applejack asked, a look of disbelief slowly coming over her.
“Yes!” The librarian replied cheerfully. “At first I thought it was weird that she was actually checking out a book, I mean that pony is always more interested in racing then reading, but I was so happy she was looking to expand her horizons that I…” Her cheerful expression died as she realized the implications of what she was saying.
“You mean that Nelly’s been having those nigh’mares since last week?”
“Well… ohm… I only know that she checked out the book last Monday.”
“It’s WEDNESDAY!” the Earth Pony yelled in horror.
“Oh! Does that mean it’s time for a middle of the week party?” Pinkie Pie asked bouncing up and down next to Twilight.
"No Pinkie it does not-" Twilight stopped mid sentence and jumped slightly upon realizing they had been joined rather suddenly by Equestria's greatest living mystery.
“Consarnit, Pinkie,” Applejack muttered jumping slightly as well at Pinkie's surprise appearance. “Ah swear ah’m gonna tie ah bell ‘round you one ah these days.”
“Oooh! Can it be a twinkly kind of bell? I just love twinkly bells! Although knowing you you’ll probably use a great big thunky cow bell, which I guess would be fine too. I mean, we gotta have more cow bell.”
“Pinkie Pie!” Twilight yelled, snapping the sugar charged earth pony out of her rambling. “What are you doing here?”
“Oh! Well I was on my way over to the joke shop cause I thought of this totally awesome idea for a new kind of party prank using a rubber chicken, some confetti, and a bit of fireworks stuff, when all of a sudden my tail started a twitch-a-twitch’n like crazy! Before I knew it, my whole body started twitch’n too! It was another doozy and it was coming from right here at Sweet Apple Acres! So I ran over here as fast as I could, but before I could figure out what it was, it stopped.
“At first I felt really bad cause I missed it, but then I saw Rainbow Dash doing some of her super awesome tricks and I thought that maybe she knew something about the doozy, but then she did look pretty tired so maybe she didn’t, but then I hadn’t seen her for a few days so I thought I should probably go see her anyways, but then I saw her leaving with her pillow and the pink blanket I gave her so I figured she must be going to get some sleep and she looked like she really needed it so I thought I shouldn’t bother her, but then I saw you and Applejack and Applejack looked really freaked out and you looked really happy until you looked really freaked out too and then Applejack said it was ‘WEDNESDAY’ and so I said, ‘Oh! Does that mean it’s time for a middle of the week party? Pinkie asked bouncing up and down next to Twilight.’ Oh… no wait I only said the first part of that, sorry. Anyway, so have you two seen a doozy anywhere?”
Pinkie smiled pleasantly at her friends as they blinked back at her and tried to process the waterfall of words that had just poured out of her mouth.
“…You gave Dash ah blanket?” Applejack asked finally.
“Well duh! Who else would give Dashie a pink blanket?”
“Well… Ah reckon tha’ does make sense…”
“…Anyway,” Twilight said, trying to get back on track, or as on track as one could be when dealing with Pinkie Pie, “So there’s going to be another doozy sometime soon?”
“No. I told you, it already happened,” the mare replied, looking a little put out. “I came over as fast as I could but it still took me a whole five minutes! I guess I really do need to cut back on the cupcakes…” she sighed, looking back at her flank with a glare of distaste. “It’s so hard living in a bakery sometimes…”
Ignoring for the moment that Pinkie had apparently traveled the hour’s walk from Ponyville central plaza to Sweet Apple Acres in roughly a twelfth of the time, and still considered that slow, Twilight thought back to the last doozy Pinkie had predicted. How had she described it again? Something’s about to happen that you least expect?
“Something you never expect to happen is about to happen,” Pinkie said, startling Twilight out of her thoughts. “That’s what this doozy felt like. It was just like the last one, and since the last doozy had to do with you, I was worried that this one might also have to do with another one of my friends, especially since it was at Sweet Apple Acres. So have you two seen anything recently? I mean it just happened a few minutes ago.”
Twilight and Applejack glanced at one another. Something you never expect to happen. Rainbow Dash suddenly waking up in tears in the middle of Sweet Apple Acres certainly seemed to fit that description. But Dash had asked them to promise not to tell anypony about it, Pinkie especially, and telling a secret was the fastest way to lose a friend.
“Forever!” Pinkie yelled, startling Twilight out of her thoughts for a second time. “It’s going to take forever to work off those silly cupcakes!” She continued glaring at her flank. Twilight blinked at her. Sometimes Pinkie’s randomness seemed to bit too… well planned.
“Well, I’d say ya’ll were predictin’ Dash’s nigh’mare,” Applejack answered, her eyes looking off at the pegasus’s levitating home. Twilight facehoofed. Leave it to the element of honesty…
“Ohm, Applejack. Didn’t Dash just ask you not to tell Pinkie Pie about that?” the unicorn whispered.
The earth pony blinked. “Oh… yeah. Ohm… forget I said anything, Pinks.”
Applejack’s poor excuse at a recovery fell on deaf ears however. Pinkie Pie’s gaze had fallen to her hoofs and her expression had changed from her usual bright and energetic smile to a frown that looked strangely like guilt. An emotion which was echoed in her voice as she said,
“So she is still having those dreams…”
Rainbow yawned as she drug her hooves through the doorway of her cloud crafted mansion. 'Well that was a complete disaster,' she thought as she closed the door. Not only did she still have that horrible dream again, but now her friends knew about it. Well, two more of them did, but considering one of those two was the living embodiment of honesty, and she thought she’d seen a familiar pink blur rushing towards Sweet Apple Acres as she had left, it probably wouldn’t be long before half of Ponyville knew about her little… problem. Her weather team was already suspicious after she had taken her fourth sick day, though they probably thought she was taking some down time to recover after a failed stunt. It wouldn’t be the first time she had skipped work for that reason.
Her wings felt heavy as she flew up to the second floor of her “house.” There were no stairs in the levitating estate. Who needed them when you could fly? After all, it wasn’t like any unicorns or earth ponies had ever stopped by for a visit. Well, one had. Rainbow smiled sleepily as she thought back to the day Pinkie Pie had shown up to deliver a singing telegram inviting her to gummy's birthday party. She could only gape in shock at finding the earth pony on her door step. Of course she had been in a balloon at the time, but still, only Pinkie Pie.
As she entered her bedroom, Dash let her pillow and blanket slide off her back and onto the soft rainbow patterned carpet. Using enchanted carpets was a lot cheaper than having to enchant every piece of furniture and knick-knack to keep it from falling through the floor. The carpets were woven with a few pegasus mane or tail hairs, usually the pegasus who made the order, and then given a simple enchantment to spread the hair’s cloud resistant properties and color throughout the rest of the fabric. She had to hoof it to the unicorns for coming up with that one.
As she made her way over to her desk she tried to focus her eyes on the print of the book that lay open there. She had tried almost everything it had suggested for getting rid of nightmares. Warm milk before bed, playing music, flooding the room with pleasant smells, changing her surroundings, but nothing had worked. She had tried sleeping in the trees of Sweet Apple Acres as a last ditch effort to combine all of those. The warm spots of sun shine peeking through the rustling leaves of the tree, the song of Fluttershy’s birds, the smell of A.J.’s delicious apples, but in the end it had all backfired on her. The nightmare had been worse than ever.
She sighed and began rereading the chapter in front of her for what felt like the hundredth time; hoping against hope that she had missed something, some miracle cure that might allow her to get at least a few hours undisturbed rest. As she read through pages she came across a passage she had purposefully skipped over before.
“Sleeping with a trusted partner has also been found to help calm bouts of night terrors. The partner should be someone the patient trusts and feels safe with. In many cases just the presence of the partner in the same room has had a positive effect, however best results were reported with the partner held or ‘spooned’ the patient or engaged in other,”
Rainbow closed the book. None of that mushy nonsense would help her now. The only way she would be rid of this stupid dream was if she did it on her own, she was sure of it. Besides, it wasn’t like she couldn’t face her friends now. Not after they had…
She gave her head a little shake. No, that had been in the dream. Her friends hadn’t done anything to her. They were still her friends, and they would always be there for her, no matter what any stupid dream said. Still, she would rather they hate her, then be forced to watch them…
She shuddered, trying to block out the memory. Best not to think about it, she thought to herself as she retrieved her blanket and pillow from the doorway and tossed them onto the bed before trotting into the adjoining bathroom.
After a quick shower to rinse off the sweat and try to relax herself, Dash crawled onto her soft cloud crafted bed and pulled the pink cloth over her exhausted body. She sighed deeply, closing her eyes and inhaling the faint sugary scent that still accompanied the blanket after almost a year of being in her possession. It was a comforting smell, one that made her think of pranking and laughter, and of the mare responsible for those laughs. Smiling, she tried to keep her mind focused on those memories as she said a quick prayer to Luna that she might finally get at least a few hours undisturbed rest. Ever prayer to Celestia on the matter had gone unanswered. Her smile faded quickly when, even before she had fallen completely unconscious, her memories of mirthful giggles were drowned out by the roar of the crowds. She shuddered, tried to bring herself out of her fall into darkness, but it was already too late.