Rainbow Dash forcefully bucked an unwanted cloud, sending the water vapor in all directions. It shimmered in the midday sun for a moment, and then got carried away by the powerful wind, not a sign of it left. It was her first day in her work and she was flying over the Everfree Forest, collecting dark clouds suitable for merging into a larger raincloud. The Pegasi in the Department scheduled a storm for the night, and now it was up to the Weather Team to make it happen. She spotted a quite big dark cloud, flew behind it, and pushed it towards Ponyville, where the rest of her team was. The raincloud they were about to create would tightly cover the sky above the village for the whole night.
While pushing the cloud, she involuntarily looked at the Sweet Apple Acres. The wind swished between the thick branches of the countless apple trees, making them sway back and forth, leaves rustling. She pondered on what to say to her former lover when she finally encountered her. That she is sorry? That seemed way too simple and trivial for Rainbow Dash to say, it was obvious that she was sorry. That she hopes that she is not mad?
Of course she is mad! I-I just left her there, I didn’t go to her when I had the chance, and now she probably hates me. Rainbow Dash, above anything else, wanted to just forget about the weather and fly straight to the farmhouse, it still might be not too late for that, such Rainbow hoped. Dash would do that right then and there, if not for the fear that Applejack wouldn’t want to talk with her. She feared that the farm pony would just throw her out, and say that she doesn’t want to see her again. She once went through a friendship breakdown with Gilda, and she desperately didn’t want it to happen again.
When the cyan mare made it over Ponyville, she noticed that the wind there was stronger, and that the air had a certain chill to it. A thick layer of clouds hovered over the village, covering it like a shroud, with only a few holes here and there. She clogged one of the holes with the cloud she was pushing, and looked around. The Weather team was scattered all over the sky, performing various tasks given to them by Rainbow. Some of them were collecting clouds from the area that surrounded the village and passing them to ponies that were clogging them in the few holes that remained. When she looked at the sun she noticed with satisfaction that they are on time with the work.
She idly started flying in a random direction, overlooking the work done by her subordinates. After a few minutes, Cloudchaser approached Dash to report.
“Captain Rainbow Dash, I report that the whole of Ponyville is covered,” she announced with small salute.
Dash took a look around and saw for herself that the village was tightly covered, not a single hole visible. “Good,” Dash responded. She flew a couple of meters into the air and observed as all of the Weather Team was collecting before her, waiting to be dismissed.
“OK, you all did a wonderful job today, this cloud is really great,” she praised, quieter than usual. “I need a few ponies to commence the rain at sundown.” The rain wouldn’t start all by itself: it needed to be commenced by a small group of Pegasi. When a cloud was full with water only waiting to be released, a swift and skilled buck could release all of the liquid. The effect was wide ranged, and if done neatly, could trigger a chain reaction, leading to all of the clouds releasing their water. Only the most experienced Pegasi were able to do it decently.
“OK, I want Cloudkicker...” She pointed her hoof at her. ”Cloudchaser and... let’s say we will give Thunderlane a chance to prove himself.” Hearing this put a small blush and a smile to Cloudchaser’s face. “The rest of the group is dismissed for today,” she concluded, waving her hoof in the air.
All of the Pegasi saluted, some carelessly, while others with devotion. After that all of them one after another flew right through the cloud that they finished creating just moments ago, heading for their homes in Ponyville.
Rainbow Dash sighed and squinted one last time at the sun. After a moment of contemplation, she dove for the cloud cover below her, going through it without a problem. When she went through it got significantly colder and darker, little to no sun rays made it there, due to the clouds. Dash shivered slightly in the strong wind and hastily started the long descent towards Ponyville and her home. When she descended to an altitude from which the village could be clearly seen, she noticed that very little ponies were wandering the streets. If she spotted somepony, he was already running to his house, scared by the vision of being caught in the rain.
She absentmindedly flew through the air over ponyville, her thoughts once again drifting to the subject of her and her ex-marefriend.
Would Applejack even consider being with me again?
She was scared of the answer to this question, yet this was everything that occupied her mind right then. Her flight slowed down considerably, the Pegasus no longer paying attention to where she was going. She started descending and finally touched the ground. The cyan mare shook her head violently, in attempt to banish all of the nagging questions from her head.
This helped only partially. The thoughts and visions of her friendship shattered tended to constantly linger somewhere in her mind, despite the mare’s effort to eradicate them. The Pegasus looked around and found herself standing right on the beginning of the lone road leading to Sweet Apple Acres. The farmhouse lonely towered over the orchard in the distance, its sight surfacing even more doubt in the mare. She wasn’t so close to the farm since her terrible argument with Applejack, and it made her nervous.
No, it certainly isn’t a good time to go and see AJ, the rain is about to start and all... With that thought she turned around and took off into the air, but landed in the same spot a second later. Something caught her attention, something in the bush next to the road. She slowly approached something that looked like a piece of brown cloth sticking out from the bush. It looked strangely familiar to the Pegasus, she was almost attracted by it. When she approached, she took the material into her mouth to pull it out.
She recoiled slightly when she managed to pull the thing out. It was Applejack’s stetson, the one she always wore. Dash looked at the hat, now lying on the dirt in front of her. The sight of the hat made memories resurface, memories that Dash preferred to be buried in the vast bowels of her mind.
Suddenly, she was in a sunny field, kissing with Applejack again, the hot passion of love buzzing in her brain and coursing through her veins. When their lips parted, Rainbow gazed upon the most magnificent pair of eyes in Equestria, getting engulfed in the vast deep greens, as if nothing mattered to her anymore. She slowly moved in closer to Applejack’s ear, running her nuzzle through her fragrant mane, and whispering softly, “I love yo-
“Argghh!” Rainbow fiercely shook her head with a piercing shriek, stomping her hoof on the ground. She slowly opened her eyes and panted slightly, trying to regain composure. She removed her mane that stuck to her forehead from the sweat that had formed, despite the cold.
She looked at the hat again. There it was laying, like nothing happened. Rainbow was attracted to the hat by an unknown invisible force, way stronger than her will was. No matter how hard she tried to just fly away, she failed. She just stared at it for a while, knowing that she couldn’t leave it there. No matter how hard she wanted to, she just couldn’t.
The cyan mare quickly grabbed the stetson in her mouth and kicked up in the air. She headed to her cloudhome, as fast as her wings could carry her. Her heartbeat skyrocketed as adrenaline coursed through her veins, while her brain kept sending visions of her and Applejack expressing their love for each other. The hat in the Pegasus’ mouth only made them more vivid, the strong emotion in those visions nearly tangible.
The speedy pegasus slammed right through the door of her cloudhome, not bothering to open the door normally. She flashed through her living room and kitchen at a breakneck speed, and landed in her bedroom. She tossed the hat on the bed, and watched it carefully for a few moments. After that she slowly opened her safe in the wall and placed the hat there, slamming the small door behind it.
Only now the emotions controlling her not moments ago, started to subside, making place for rational thinking. She breathed heavily for a few seconds, taking her time to regain composure.
Applejack couldn’t sleep. She was laying motionless in her bed for what felt like a long time, minutes seemingly passing by like grains in a hourglass, blended and blurred into one, no longer recognizable as separate. Applejack couldn’t tell for how long exactly she was laying there, but it felt like an eternity to the mare. The rhythmic sound of the rain hitting the window, and the occasional bang of thunder, didn’t help.
All of the other family members were already sound asleep for hours, unaware of Applejack’s insomnia. Her thoughts were revolving around Rainbow Dash and her disappearance. She couldn’t believe that her friend could have possibly abandoned her like that. She tried to think about anything else, but her brain never let her, always reverting her thoughts back to her love.
There were too many pent up emotions in her mind. She needed to release them, for her own sake. The farmer then remembered that there was a place she in the forest that she used to go after her mother died, giving birth to Apple Bloom. She rarely talked about it to anypony. It was a cozy clearing, right near the valley that the mane six crossed when going to the Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters, to defeat Nightmare Moon.
In the clearing there was a place under a tree, from which one could see the magnificent sight of the valley, and the river that raged in the very bottom, in all its glory.
Applejack couldn’t stand laying in her bed anymore, she was sick of it. She really wanted to go to her place, she needed it to soothe her mind, let her think coherently about the situation.
Applejack slowly got up from the bed, and to her hooves, throwing the quilt aside. She carefully stepped outside of her room and stopped to listen. The farmer easily heard the snoring of her family members, reassuring her that she was safe.
The orange mare descended the stairs, skipping the squeaking step and continued to the main door, through the kitchen. She carelessly opened the main door. The wind instantly rushed in with all its force, raining mayhem on the hall, and slightly surprising the mare. She slammed the door shut again, muffling the sound of the raging storm. She sighed, hoping that her family members were not awaken by the outburst.
She decided to try again. She really needed to go there, and was determined to do so. She wasn’t the one to back up easily. She opened the door, throwing the hall into the state of chaos yet again. The stubborn mare hastily made it outside and closed the door behind her.
The branches of apple trees swayed back and forth in the powerful wind blowing between their branches, their leaves rusting and falling off to their doom. Applejack’s coat was instantly soaked by the downpour, her mane drooping over her eyes, obscuring the view. When she swept it aside, she started running towards the entrance to the Everfree forest, her hooves sloshing in the mud.
She ran for a long time, the rhythmic sloshing of her hooves in mud hypnotizing her. She barely noticed that she made it to the forest entrance, near Fluttershy’s cottage.
The forest soughed menacingly, the trees towering over Applejack, overwhelming her. The farm pony gulped, but entered into the bowels of the dangerous forest. The sound of the storm was partly replaced by the swoosh of the wind between the old and gnarled branches of the Everfree forest.
The mare quickly broke into a run, wanting to get to her place as fast as she could. After a moment she noticed that the storm was significantly worse in there. The downpour was bigger than on the farm, despite the trees shielding the ground. The sound of rain was occasionally accompanied by a sonorous thunder, lightening the otherwise dark forest for a split second.
The constant lightnings made the mare run faster. She hardly saw where she was going from the rain pouring oh her mane and eyes. She was scared, but she pressed on. Soon she was panting from the exertion, her legs begging for a break. Despite the hot pain the mare felt, she continued, somehow knowing that she was close to her goal.
Applejack heard the distant sound of flowing water, a sign that she was close. She jumped on a small path between the trees, turned right, and saw her goal on the end of it. The lone tree on the edge of the cliff, no further than two hundred meters before her. She ran even faster, the clatter of her hooves in mud accompanied by the roaring thunder.
When she was no closer than meters from the tree, she noticed that there was a muddy patch that stretched from the edge of the cliff to the tree and forth. Applejack screamed and started to skid to a stop, digging her hooves deep in the mud. Despite her effort, the tree and the edge of the cliff were approaching dangerously. When she was passing the tree, she grabbed one low branch in her hooves, gritting her teeth from the strain.
While grabbing the branch with her fore hooves, her back hooves stumbled over a root that was sticking out from the mud. The branch snapped with a crack, sending Applejack tumbling towards the edge. She slid on her stomach, desperately trying to grab something with her hooves, but the only thing that she managed to grab was more mud.
Her chest slowly slid over the edge, her hooves fiercely trying to reach something. Applejack shrieked as she slipped over the edge, the water menacingly roaring beneath her. She was falling down, vehemently waving her hooves in search of something to support her.
The farm pony groaned from the strain when she managed to get hold of a root that was sticking from the wall of the cliff. She grabbed the root with both her hooves, the root creaking ominously. She looked down in time to see the branch she held previously getting blown into splinters when hitting the cliff wall, and landing in the water, good hundred meters below her.
She hung there for a few seconds, collecting strength. After a moment she desperately tried to pull up on the root, but it was creaking loudly, so she stopped. She tried again but the root was creaking with her every move, so she was forced to stay still. She started panting from the exertion, her hooves barely managing to hold the wet, slippery root.
“HEEEELP” Applejack yelled, using all of the energy that was left in her, “HELP ME!” she shouted again, but the sound of rain and thunder muffled her screams.
Rainbow Dash awoke with a deep inhale, sitting up on her cloud bed. She was panting heavily and was covered in sweat, her mane stuck to her forehead. When she looked down she noticed that she was holding the slightly damp Applejack’s hat in both her front hooves. She held it close to her face, the mild fragrance of apples immediately hitting her. She slowly closed her eyes and pressed the hat closer to her chest, instantly thinking about being with Applejack on a sunny field, kissing.
After a moment she opened her eyes again and released a breath she didn’t know she was holding. She looked at the hat again and run her hoof on the rough material. After that, she set the hat on the bed and averted her gaze to the window. The storm was raging with all its force outside, sending a cold chill into the Pegasus’ house.
She gritted her teeth in determination and stood on all fours. No more hesitation. The Pegasus kicked into the air and through the window. She was immediately thrown off by the strong wind, and her mane and coat soaked by the water. She shivered from the cold, but managed to level her flight. The mare looked around, localized Sweet Apple Acres after a second and headed there with a breakneck speed, sending droplets of water in every direction.
The rain was hitting her face, but she didn’t care. The farmhouse grew closer and closer. There was something menacing in the way; the apple trees were swaying in the wind, their leaves rustling loudly. She landed near the house and skidded to a stop before the porch, kicking water and mud into the air. She noticed that all of the lights were off. Everypony was probably asleep.
The mare ran up to the main door, carrying water and mud on the porch. She slammed her hooves on the rough surface of the wood several times and pushed the door handle. The Pegasus stumbled into the house and yelled the name of her love with all of her might, her voice attended by thunder.
She ran up the stairs leading to the roms of the residents, her hooves clopping loudly on the wood. One of the doors on the corridor quickly opened, revealing the red face of Big Macintosh. He hollered “What the hay is goin’ on?!” before noticing Rainbow Dash, who barely paid any attention to the red stallion. She ran up to the door to Applejack’s room, opened it and ran inside, Big Mac following right behind her.
They both stopped in their tracks when they noticed the bed. It was empty, the quilt partly on the floor, it looked like somepony left in haste.
Rainbow’s eyes widened when she saw what was going on. “Where is she?!” she yelled, at first into space before her, then at Big Mac, looking right at him.
“Ah don’t know, she was here when we went to sleep...” Big Mac replied, genuinely flabbergasted. Hoof steps could be heard from the corridor and soon Apple Bloom joined the two ponies in the room. She looked at the empty bed and then at the ponies present. “Where’s AJ?” she asked, concerned. When no response came, she asked again, louder.
“I don’t know!” Dash responded, looking at Applejack’s siblings. “We need to find her. I need to talk to her, now.”
Big Mac held his hoof to his temple, thinking. “Let’s go downstairs and look for her, it’s dangerous outside and she is probably one out.” With that he headed out of the room and down stairs. Rainbow followed, but was stopped by Apple Bloom.
“Did you come back to say sorry to mah sis?” she asked, with a gentle voice.
Dash didn’t respond right away, but when she did, the response was “Yes.” She left the room, heading to the kitchen.
They all sat at the kitchen table, all deep in thought. All except Dash, she couldn’t concentrate on anything, she longed to confront Applejack already, the passion she felt minutes ago still pulsing in her brain.
“C’mon! Let’s go out and search for her instead of sitting here and doing nothing! She probably just went to Ponyville for something or... something like that!” After that no response came, her words still echoing in her skull.
“There is a place...” Big Mac said after a moment, and exhaled. “There is a place in the woods that Applejack went to when our mother died, when she gave birth to Apple Bloom.” He said that, looking down with love on his sister that was sitting next to him. “She went there every day, for nearly two weeks. I still remember where that place is, I was there with her. It is a place under a tree, somewhere near to the edge of the cliff in the Everfree Forest. Under normal circumstances there would be no danger. AJ is a responsible pony and she knows when to stop. But now, given the storm, Ah’m concerned for her...” He let the sentence hang in the air for a while, its meaning slowly sinking into Dash’s mind.
“What?!” she exclaimed in response, flying up into the air, her chair stumbling back behind her. ”We need to go and find her NOW! Show the way!”
“Dash, come down. It will be faster if Ah tell you where it is, you can fly there.”
“OK, but hurry up!” she responded, anxiety and concern audible in her voice.
“You just need to find the valley in the Everfree and fly alongside it. You should notice a small clearing and a lone tree in the center, right beside the edge of the cliff,” he explained in his ever calm voice.
When she heard that, she flashed through the kitchen and flew out of the house, nearly blowing the main door off its hinges, leaving two concerned ponies in her wake.
When she was gone Apple Bloom looked at her brother with a pout, threatening to tear up. “Will Applejack be okay?” she asked in a quiet voice. Big Mac looked down at her and embraced her.
“I’m sure she will be alright, she isn’t reckless, or anythin’...” he responded, trying to reassure his young sister. “I will go to Ponyville and ask her friends, maybe she stopped somewhere there.”
Rainbow Dash ascended over the farm house and located the Everfree forest. In this weather, it was a enormous sea of darkness, shifting as the trees swayed in the wind. The mare shuddered, and headed towards the black mass at top speed. After a few seconds of flight, she made it over the forest. She started scanning it, in search of the valley. She skimmed over the forest, straining her sight, searching for the lone tree.
After a minute she spotted a pitch black gash on the face of the forest, bleeding darkness. She descended and flew over it, looking for the clearing, the water furiously raging beneath her. The mare scanned the rims of the cliff, on both sides, but found nothing after flying under a bridge and reaching the far end.
Flying from one end to the other was a considerable feat to perform, even for somepony as athletic as Dash. Soon she was panting from the exertion, her wings aching. She gritted her teeth in frustration, but she wouldn’t give up so easily. The Pegasus ignored her pains, swooped to a u-turn, and started flying over the cliff again. This time she paid closer attention to the edges, flying slower alongside them.
The root Applejack was hanging on started to creak ominously, threatening to snap any second. Her forehooves were shaking uncontrollably from the strain, the mare gritting her teeth in pain. She gave up on shouting after a few minutes of hanging. She understood that nopony was here to help her in night time. Her only hope was her family members noticing her disappearance.
She adjusted her position, trying to make it more comfortable. When she shifted the branch let out a very long creak, making Applejack freeze. The sound didn’t stop, despite Applejack not moving an inch. Soon it transformed into a barely audible snapping noise, smaller fibres in the root breaking.
“HEEEELP!” Applejack screamed, absolutely terrified. She looked down, desperately looking for something else to support her, but everything she saw was the rocky wall of the cliff, leading straight into the oblivion of the river below her. The snapping noise got louder and the root started to bend, making it harder for Applejack to hold on.
She groaned from the effort, as she tried to pull up on the root. She wanted to stand on it and jump to the edge of the cliff. But as she pulled up to level her face with the root, it let out its last creak and snapped loudly. Applejack shrieked, pure terror in her eyes as she felt gravity working its ways on her.
Shriek. Dash heard a piercing bloodcurdling shriek, and her heart skipped a beat when she recognized the owner. She didn’t take another second to think as she sped towards the source of the sound, whipping her wings like never before in her life. She descended and saw a form of a pony falling down into the monstrous river below, hooves thrashing around in vain effort to grab something.
Rainbow Dash flashed towards the falling pony and tried to grab her. She clasped the mare in her midsection, yelling from the strain. Hot pain coursed through her wings as they protested against the additional load. Applejack grasped the cyan mare with both her hooves, petrified.
Dash’s wings were flapping ferociously, each flap taking its terrible toll on the Pegasus. She started panting heavily, her grip loosening. Applejack started to slip out of her grasp, threatening to fall down. She acted on impulse, nearly no thought behind her action. Her embrace on the cyan Pegasus tightened as she pulled her face to Dash’s, looking her in the eyes. She saw pure terror there, fear of losing somepony important. Fear of losing Applejack.
She closed her eyes and leaned closer to the cyan mare. Applejack parted her lips and connected them with Dash’s. Her eyes widened at the sudden sensation, but soon she calmed down, the long lost feeling of love once again overtaking her body and mind.
When their lips parted, the pain in Dash’s wings was gone. The kiss gave the mare new strength and the will to fight. She started flapping her wings with new resolve, dedicating all of the energy she had left to this one and only task. Dash yelled, as the unbelievable strain took its toll.
The fall of the two mares started to slow, due to Dash’s effort. Soon they started ascending, no closer than twenty meters to the deadly river. With every flap of the Pegasus’ wings they were getting closer to safety of the cliff edge. They reached the root that Applejack was grabbing for her life not minutes ago and passed it. Dash used any remaining energy to dash over the edge of the cliff, dropping Applejack on safe land near it, and falling to the ground a few meters further.
Applejack’s heart was beating furiously, as she scrambled to get up in panic, all covered in mud. She ran up to Dash. The cyan mare was laying in the mud, rain rinsing her still body.
“Rainbow Dash!” Applejack yelled right at the Pegasus’ ear, but no response came. The farm pony observed that her chest was moving up and down, yet very faintly. She leaned and nuzzled at Dash’s snout and face, trying to wake her up, but to no avail. Tears started streaming down her face as she set her front hooves on the mare’s shoulders and started jerking them gently, in further attempt at waking Dash up.
“Dash?” Applejack managed to sob out as she dug her head under the Pegasus’ body. She rolled Dash on her own back and turned to face the dark forest. She could barely stand, her forehooves still strained from earlier, screaming with pain from the additional load.
The orange mare gritted her teeth in determination and slowly entered the forest. She was flooded by a cascade of animal sounds, coming from between the trees surrounding her. She heard rustling somewhere near, so she picked up the pace. She felt Rainbow Dash bouncing on her back to the rhythm of her run, still in a coma.
The earth pony pumped every last bit of strength and resilience she had left in to her legs, when she saw light faintly shimmering between the trees, on the far horizon.
Rainbow Dash slowly opened her eyes, and groaned at the pain she felt in her wings. She looked around to discover that she was laying in a hospital bed, covered with a quilt up to her chest, the steady beeping of the heart monitor resounding in the small room. Dim light shone through one small window, covered with a translucent roller-blind, rain pattering on the glass. A small cord ran from her extended foreleg up to an IV standing next to the bed.
She shifted on the rough sheet, adjusting to a more comfortable position. She looked to the window. She could discern the water droplets hitting the glass and sliding down, on the other side. After a moment of staring at the window, she could see the first rays of dawn shining through the roller-blind, tinging the whole room in a soft pink.
She shifted to lay on her other side, and a genuine smile crept on her face. She was looking at the most magnificent pair of green orbs she ever saw, looking back at her. The whole of Applejack’s face was tinged slight pink from the first rays of sunlight, her muzzle forming a wonderful smile, her mane falling in cascades of gold.
A lone tear of happiness escaped her eye as she ran up to the Pegasus and embraced her in a tight hug. They both looked in each other's eyes and leaned closer. As their lips connected, Rainbow Dash once again got lost in the passion of love she longed for so much, her embrace on Applejack strengthening, blood boiling. She ran her hoof through her fragrant mane and coat, her pulse skyrocketing.
When their lips parted, they once again looked in each other's watery eyes, getting lost in the vibrant colors.
“I love you,” Dash managed, through sobs of happiness.
“Ah love you too, darlin’,” Applejack responded and dove in for another kiss.