"What will it be Rainbow Dash? Save some of your friends and condemn the others to death, or all die together as heroes?" Nightmare Moon mocked, her dark laughter filling the chamber and boring a hole into the ponies hearts.
Before Rainbow Dash could answer Nightmare's cruel choice, Fluttershy's soft voice cut through the air. "Rainbow I... I want you to know something before... before you choose." Everypony watched her, seemingly frozen, as the Pegasus continued on with a shaky breath. "I forgive you. Whatever happens, whatever you already blame yourself for, and whatever you've actually done... I forgive you."
Rainbow couldn't speak, couldn't breathe, as she stared at her lifelong friend. The pony who had been with her since the beginning, who had been hurt so much by Rainbow's actions, who Rainbow considered more as a sister than just a friend... was forgiving her.
Even when she was going to choosing between killing everyone or being a coward, Fluttershy was still willing to forgive her. That was more than Dash had thought possible, it was just so so...
The floor was glowing.
The dust that coated the ancient room was floating gently as the air stirred from the ponies' movements, but a certain cluster of it was flowing with a bit more force and radiating a soft pink light.
Rainbow Dash stared at the dust that no one else seemed to have noticed. "The elements can't be destroyed..." The words came out on their own accord, riding Rainbow's breath on something less than a whisper.
"Now this has been touching." Nightmare Moon spoke again, a cruel smile on her lips, "But I believe Rainbow Dash has a decision to make. What do you say, Dash? Are you ready to swear your loyalty to me once again? Or will you die a pointless hero?"
Rainbow stood up straighter, she looked Nightmare dead in the eye, and, as if the Pegasus had Celestia by her side, she smirked confidently at the demon who had destroyed her life.
"Neither," Rainbow spat, "I'm going to stick to the original plan and kick your flank!"
Nightmare’s eyes narrowed dangerously. "You insolent pest,” she hissed. “You haven't a prayer against me. The Elements are destroyed."
Rainbow laughed, an action which caused everypony in the room, friend and foe, to take a confused step back, and shook her head. "That's where you're wrong, Nightmare Moon. The Elements can't be destroyed. They're an idea, a... a force! You can destroy them just as easily as you could destroy the wind." She spread her wings despite the ache it caused and now had a full on grin brightening her face. "And just like the wind, I can direct it into what I need. Fluttershy," Her gaze softened as she regarded her friend. "You forgave me. Even though you had no reason to, even though I don't deserve it, you still did it. Because you knew that’s what I needed to hear. You wanted to give me peace above all else and that was a shining example of Kindness."
The floor surged. Everypony stared, transfixed, at the pink dust as it rose around Fluttershy. The glow brushed against Nightmare's wing and the Alicorn jerked back with a pained hiss, releasing Fluttershy in the process. But the Pegasus didn't move away, instead, she seemed to float contently in the swirling cloud around her.
"Oh my..." Fluttershy mumbled, absentmindedly brushing her hoof through the air, "It's so... warm."
The farmer jumped and wrenched her eyes away from Fluttershy over to Dash. The Pegasus was pointing a hoof at her dramatically and grinning like an idiot.
"On the train, you chose to trust your cousin with the truth, instead of attacking him. You always seemed to follow your heart despite everyone telling you to do otherwise. You represent Honesty."
"Whoa nelly," Applejack cried as an orange cloud rose up and surrounded her.
Rainbow Dash spun to point at the other Earth Pony in the room. "Pinkie Pie."
"Stop this at once!" Nightmare Moon shrieked, sending a beam of raw energy at Pinkie. The Earth Pony flinched back, but it was unneeded as the blue cloud rose up and dispelled the magic before it could reach her.
Rainbow spared only a glance at Nightmare Moon’s shocked expression before picking up her speech. “Pinkie, you made the bucking billion-year-old spirit of chaos laugh. Plus, you almost always have a positive attitude even though you definitely don’t have any reason to. Boom. Laughter.”
Pinkie gasped in excitement as she was gently lifted into the air. “We’re doing it Dashie! You’re doing it!”
Rainbow felt like her face would split if her smile got any wider. “Rarity!”
“Silence!” The Nightmare screamed desperately, changing her tactics and firing a beam straight at Rainbow’s head.
Dash flapped her wings and easily soared above the magic. It was odd, she could have sworn she had strained her wings to their limits tonight, but now she felt lighter and more graceful than when she was a foal. She continued her speech mid air, twisting around the crazed attacks Nightmare Moon threw at her.
“Rarity, you gave up so much. You gave your freedom for your family, your job for my dumb ideas, and your family for us. You, are Generosity.”
Rarity gave her a pained, but sincere smile before she was obscured from view by a purple vortex.
Rainbow faltered slightly as she realized the attacks were no longer coming and her wings were still at her side. A light red haze filled her vision. A dark weight filled her heart.
“I’m Loyalty…” She choked, forcing each word out, “I’ve betrayed my kingdom, betrayed my morals, and failed everyone who ever counted on me. But I am Loyalty because I don’t give up. I will never give up fighting for my loved ones. Even if I mess up, even if I doom the world, I’ll always try. I am Loyalty.”
There was a break in the storm around her, and Rainbow could once again see the room clearly. Five colorful clouds whirled around her and her friends. Nightmare Moon was still screaming, or maybe sobbing. Either way, she seemed to have exhausted all her magic, or at least the will to fight the inevitable. In the eye of the storm, surrounded by little more than violet mist, was Twilight Sparkle.
The Time Traveling Alicorn.
And accompanying her friend’s proud, tear filled smile, Dash could have sworn she saw wings on her back and a backpack wearing dragon by her side.
“Twilight’s Magic,” Rainbow finished, and the illusion was gone. Now it was just Twilight. Her dorky, wicked scary, crazy new friend. “She’s magic because she brought us all together, she kept us bound and she kept us sane. She’s our bond in this adventure.”
Rainbow smirked as Twilight too was engulfed by the dust. “Not to mention she can throw one wicked fireball.”
The light surged out and around, joining the six ponies and converging all of the power on a single dark point.
And Rainbow’s last thought before she drifted into unconsciousness was how funny it was that a messed up group of rebels firing a laser at a demon could bring her such peace and warmth.