Rainbow Dash slumped out of her cramped hammock onto the concrete floor of the alleyway she called home.
She slipped her wings through the holes of her dusty brown bomber jacket, stretched her achy bones, a mix between a growl and a sad groan coming out of the pegasus’ lips as she stretched and ached, that hammock having done a number on her body these last few years.
Rainbow tapped a hoof against the rusty pole that held up the rain canopy above the hammocks, and then again on the pole that held up the canopy above the television, and both responded with a satisfying ‘clink clink’ sound, instead of the creaky death knell Rainbow was expecting.
She looked up, and the canopies were still standing too, and Rainbow allowed herself a smile at her handiwork. She wasn’t sure they’d hold up, but the ugly green and orange sheets she made into makeshift rain shields kept her and her partner dry through last night’s rainfall.
And more importantly—Rainbow clicked the knob on the television, and a bright smile erupted onto her face when the thing turned on with no problem. The TV was her and her partner’s pride and joy, they’d dug it out of somepony’s trash and it was a miracle the dang thing worked; if a little measly rain was enough to do the thing in, Rainbow had half a mind to kill herse—
Well, she wouldn’t be happy.
Speaking of Rainbow’s partner though; Rainbow peeked up at the hammock above hers and it was empty. Made sense, it was Pinkie Pie’s turn to scavenge food money today, which meant Rainbow was free to do whatever she wanted.
Which meant… time to go to the library. Again. Just like her last day off, and the one before that, and… the one before…
Skulking through Dodge City’s dusty streets was a chore on the best of days, but the biting winter weather meant this day could hardly be considered the best at anything, other than being frustrating and cold.
There weren’t many ponies on the streets—who other than the homeless Rainbow Dash would want to be walking the streets in this weather?—and even though Rainbow was notably smaller than most of the ponies who were out and about, Rainbow radiated big ‘don’t mess with me’ energy and nopony thought twice about staying out of her way.
Rainbow paused as she caught something out of her awesome peripherals in a nearby alley, though it wasn’t super easy to make out since the alley was already drenched in shadow and it wasn’t helped by the dreary gray clouds in the sky.
That said, Rainbow knew a fight when she saw one.
Two girls; one was lying bloodied on the ground, the other stood over her with a sneering grin. The grounded girl had a cream-colored coat and looked like an earth pony, and a pretty small one at that; she had blood coming from her lip and bleeding scratches on her body.
The other girl was a griffon, with brown feathers covering most of her body but stark white feathers on her head, but Rainbow’s eyes were pointedly drawn to the blood all over her talons.
It didn’t take a genius to see what was going on here.
“Hey,” Rainbow’s voice was as cold as the chill in the air as she walked into the alley, and she scraped a hoof along the concrete for good measure. “Should’ve thought twice before roughing up somepony on my turf.”
“Who asked you?” the griffon girl spoke with a gruff, smug voice. “You tryin’ to start somethin’?”
Rainbow clicked her tongue; didn’t look like the griffon was taking Rainbow seriously, but her annoyance at that was quickly snuffed by her eagerness to bloody the griffon’s face, and she let out a single wheezy chuckle.
“If you got somethin’ to say, try—”
Before the griffon could even finish her lousy taunt, she was already sucking air thanks to Rainbow’s hoof colliding with the top of her head at freakin’ light speed. The griffon spread her wings and jumped back, coughing up a bit of blood and wiping it off on her cheek.
“Not bad, but it’ll—”
That girl needed to talk less, and Rainbow was more than happy to teach her that lesson with a firm kick to the side of her head that sent her to the ground.
“So,” Rainbow stood over the griffon and sported a huge grin as she flicked her feathers in the griffon’s face, “you wanna stick around and see me get serious?”
Dense as the griffon obviously was, even she got the point and didn’t say another word; all she could muster was a pitiful show of defiance by spitting blood at Rainbow’s feet before she made a break for it, flying away from the alley with her tail between her legs.
The bloodied pony, who Rainbow had nearly forgotten was even there, stumbled to her hooves but tried to play it cool with a cocky grin. “Hey, thanks a lot! That was—”
“Don’t sweat it,” Rainbow cut the girl off with a shrug. She looked her over to make sure the woman’s injuries didn’t need a hospital, but Rainbow was pretty sure the woman would be fine on her own, so she just got ready to bounce.
“I owe you one!” she called as Rainbow walked away from the alley, and Rainbow raised a hoof to acknowledge her, just hoping the earth pony didn’t see Rainbow flinch at the undeserved praise.
As Rainbow got back onto the sidewalk and away from the alley, she grunted in frustration and slapped her forehead.
“Dang it,” she huffed, “I should’ve tried to snatch the griffon’s wallet or something.”
True it was Pinkie’s turn to gather lunch money today, but that wasn’t an excuse for Rainbow not to pull her own weight. And the way Rainbow saw it, beating up other creatures was the only thing she was good at.