The Sisters Doo

by Ponky

14 - You Should Like Your Friends

Chapter Fourteen
You Should Like Your Friends


The blur of four golden hooves tumbled over the railing as a pith helmet clattered to the ground. Bystanders gasped and covered their mouths, frozen with shock and confusion. Only one pegasus leapt forward and dove over the airship’s edge, plummeting toward the distant ocean with wings clasped tightly at her sides.

She caught up with the floppy archaeologist within seconds, catching her around the middle and stopping her fall. With a roll of her ruby eyes, Rainbow Dash heaved the giggling mess of hiccups and noodly hooves through the air. She kept her eyes on the ship overhead, mumbling curses under her breath.

The faces of several concerned passengers poked over the main deck’s railing. They backed away as Rainbow heaved her uncooperative partner into their midst. Daring landed hard on the smooth wooden planks and sprawled in every direction, slurring a long string of barely comprehensible instructions aimed at nopony in particular.

Ditzy’s eyes were wide and very nearly aligned, her lips pursed into a nervous squiggly line. She breathed out a sigh of relief when Rainbow Dash picked up the pith helmet and tossed it carelessly over Daring’s face.

“Rainbow!” she said, trotting past the ogling crowd and catching the blue mare’s attention. “Wh-what happened?”

The Element of Loyalty gave Ditzy a sharp look and jabbed a hoof in her flattened sister’s direction.

“Can’t you tell? She won,” Rainbow answered curtly, stomping away from a jaw-dropped Ditzy.

{-D earlier D-}

“Where’s Daring?” Rainbow Dash yelled across the counter. The noise in the bar hadn’t died down at all since she and Ditzy left.

“Sorry, who?” the unicorn bartender asked.

“Daring Do!” Rainbow said louder. “The yellow pegasus who was right here, like, two hours ago!”

The bartender laughed and raised an eyebrow. “I’m not sure how I would know that, Miss. Can I get you a drink?”

“Heck no!” Rainbow spun around and faced the crowded room, hovering as high as she could in the squat, dim chamber. She spotted a few yellow-coated ponies, but they were all broad stallions with brightly colored manes. Her jaw clenched impatiently as her eyes swept back and forth. If she didn’t find the adventuress soon, Rainbow decided, she would just go to back bed and let Daring fend for herself. It had been a really long day.

Fortunately—or perhaps unfortunately—a tan pith helmet was suddenly in the center of Rainbow’s vision. She snaked between haphazardly arranged tables and their patrons to a corner of the bar where the familiar headgear sat discarded on a wooden stool. Rainbow picked it up and frowned at it briefly, lifting her eyes to scan the surrounding area.

From that angle, Daring was not hard to spot. A number of thick wooden pillars held up the tavern’s ceiling, and in the low light they were difficult to point out. Rainbow hadn’t even noticed the column that sprouted in that section of the room, blocking the corner from general view. It was in this obscured nook that Daring Do stood on her hind legs, pressing her front hooves against the ribs of Azure Crest, pinning him against the wall as they kissed with eager passion.

Every muscle in Rainbow’s body froze… except for her jaw, which dropped halfway to the floor. Her eye twitched with every smothered noise that came from the couple, her ears flattening tighter against her head with every twist and turn of Daring’s. She only realized she had stopped breathing when her peripherals blackened. With a sharp intake of breath, Rainbow lurched at them and screamed, “What in Tartarus are you doing!?”

Daring froze in place and rotated her body, keeping her lips locked with the violet stallion’s while focusing her left eye on Rainbow’s fiery glare. A smile pulled at the corners of her mouth for several seconds before she finally released with a loud smack. Azure grinned stupidly and shuddered.

“Kid!” Daring blurted in a pitch higher than her own. “Heh-heeey, kid! You came back!” She dropped her hooves from the stallion’s chest and landed unevenly, trotting a zig-zag pattern in Rainbow’s direction. “I -HIC- I wuz wunderin’ when you’d get back down here, kid. I thought, -HIC- maybe she’s… nnnever comin’ back, bu’ then I was like, ‘Noooo, she has to come back, ‘cause… where else would she go? She – we’re on a boat. WE’RE ON A BOAT!”

Rainbow’s nostrils flared faster as Daring snatched her helmet from the stool and dropped it carelessly over her head. Rainbow took a quick look at the drooling stallion slumped in the corner, snorted heavily, and grabbed Daring by the back of her mane.

“OW!” the adventuress yelped. “Hey, kkkkid, what’s’a madder?”

“We’re leaving, Daring,” Rainbow growled. “Now.”

“Bu’ I wuz jusss—”

Rainbow tugged hard, increasing Daring’s volume. Whimpering, the yellow pony trotted unsteadily behind Rainbow Dash as the fuming mare dragged them toward the tavern’s only exit.

“This has gotta be some kinda fire hazard,” Rainbow grumbled under the her breath, yanking on Daring’s greyscale mane to pick up her pace.

“AAaaugh! Shhhhtop it!” Daring moaned.

“Let’s get you some air,” Rainbow said over her shoulder, guiding her up the next several levels in teeth-gnashing silence.

Daring was not so silent. “Nnnyyaaaa, I wanna go back. I wanna go back, kid! Dere’s a -HIC- reeeealllly expensine drink I wanna try. Nopony else can afford it. I’m gonna look so cooool!” She giggled. “The stallions er gonna llllove me.” She gasped suddenly, opening her eyes wide. “Oh, wait… I already did that, kid! I already -HIC- did that! Ha haaa!” She stomped her hooves delightedly up the next long flight of stairs. “All o’ those shtallions were so, like… into me. Oah, kid, I’m so hot.” She shook her head proudly. “I am seriously so hawt.”

Rainbow passed only four or five ponies on her way up to the top, hoping it would be empty enough to reprimand Daring in peace. When they emerged into the cool night air colored with the distant sound of gently crashing waves, she wasn’t disappointed. The ivory Moon hanging low in the sky cast an eerie light over the enormous, vacant deck.

A dozen ponylengths from the wall of doors that led to the lower levels, Rainbow finally let go of Daring’s mane. As the inebriated pegasus began to back away, Rainbow grabbed her face tightly between her hooves. Bulging fuchsia eyes met a very frightened pair.

“How many drinks did you have, Daring?” Rainbow asked.

“I’unno,” the adventuress slurred as her eyes slowly crossed. “A lot.”

Rainbow groaned and dropped her partner’s face. “I can’t believe this, Daring! Why would you do that to yourself?” Agitated, she trotted back and forth in front of the swaying mare with quick hooves. “We’re on a mission, Daring, a very important mission. How could you just… nng, what makes you think it’s okay to get drunk when we have baby foals to save?”

“Hey, kid, caaaalm doooown,” Daring urged, sifting her hooves through air. “You’ve gotta see, here, see? I, I didn’t do nothin’... mmbaaad, really. The trip’s, like, two days. S’not like I’m gon’be drunk fer ttttwo days!” She laughed at that, rubbing the sides of her head beneath her ears.

“We coulda…” Rainbow snorted and stomped a hoof, refusing to look at Daring. “We coulda planned or brainstormed or… or you coulda told me more about Haissan, more about how we’re going to find those foalnappers you let get away—”

“Nooo!” Daring yelled, lashing out a hoof that very nearly clipped Rainbow’s snout. “No no no, I didn’t let those foalgetters nap away.” Her eyes narrowed icily. “Yyyyyou did!”

Rainbow guffawed. “Me?”

“Yeah! Yoo!” Daring cackled. “Yoooou messed up, and yoooou coulda went and got the basketball from the thhhhnappers…” Her cheeks bulged momentarily and she clutched her stomach. “Oh. Ooohhhhh… I don’ feel, like… that…”

Both mares grimaced as Rainbow flew backward a few yards. “You gonna hurl?”

Daring’s brow lowered and she looked offended. “What? No! I don’ get ssseasick. I’m Daring Do!”

“Seasick?” Rainbow repeated, her eyelids drooping. “Daring, you’re super drunk. I’d be surprised if you didn’t throw up.”

“Uuugghhh…” The yellow mare dropped to her side and hugged herself. “I haven’t had cider in, like… I’unno, years or somethin’.”

“Well, maybe now you’ll remember why you quit,” Rainbow grumbled. She flapped her wings a few times and landed behind Daring, tucking her forelegs under the mare’s shoulders and carrying her body to the edge of the dock.

“Wha! Wha’re we…”

“If you’re gonna barf, do it over the railing,” Rainbow said, gently setting Daring with her forelegs draped on the rail. Almost immediately, Daring complied. Rainbow leapt back and coughed in the air. “Auughh, Daring! Warn a gal, will ya?”

The drunk pony groaned. “Sorry, Rainbow.”

Rainbow plugged her nose between her hooves. “It’s fine, just—” She froze, staying airborne with only a few mechanical flaps. Her eyes darted to the goldenrod pony leaning over the edge. “Did you just… say my name?”

Daring looked back. “Huh? I… I’unno, prob’ly.” Her eyes bulged and her head disappeared over the rail.

Even under those circumstances, Rainbow couldn’t help but smile a little. “You’re an idiot, Daring Do,” she chuckled.

Daring turned around and sat on her haunches, leaning her back against the thin white border that surrounded the dock’s main level. Wiping her mouth, she managed a wry grin. “But I’m an awesome idiot, right, kid?”

Rainbow landed in front of her, shaking her helmetless head. “You have your moments, I guess.” Her grin became a sad one. “You’re nothing like I thought you’d be, though.”

Daring shrugged and clicked her tongue. “Life’s full of disappointments, I guess.”

“Yeah. Guess so.”

The ponies sat in silence for a while without looking at each other. Both fidgeted and cleared their throats, but neither found the gall to leave.

“It’s really not a big deal, y’know,” Daring said. “You didn’t have to pull me away. I wasn’t drinking anymore.”

“Yeah, well, your new pastime wasn’t exactly a step up.”

“Heheh… that’s prob’ly true.” Daring coughed and got to her hooves, sniffing heavily and eyeing the Moon. “Still, I don’t see why you care. I can get drunk if I wanna. It’ll be forever b‘fore we land in Stirrope.”

Rainbow frowned. “You ought to have your wits about you, anyway. Drinking that much alcohol is bad for you, Daring, especially at your age.”

Daring gaped. “Hey! I’m not that old.”

“You’re old enough to keep calling me kid,” Rainbow teased with a wink.

Daring chuckled. “I call you ‘kid’ because you don’t know anything.”

“I know a lot!” Rainbow said, hovering again.

“About what, Daring Do trivia?” The adventuress smirked. “The magic of friendship? That team you were talkin’ about, the Wonderfolk?”

“Wonderbolts,” Rainbow corrected, crossing her forelimbs. “You did that on purpose. And yeah, I know about all those things. I also know how to help ponies when they’re in trouble, and how to say ‘no’ to big temptations, and how to do a sonic rainboom, and how to win any competition you throw at me, and…”

“Any competition I throw atcha, eh?” Daring asked, lifting a hoof to her snout.

Rainbow rolled her eyes. “Not that you throw at me, Daring. It’s an expression.”

“Well, my competition is still a competition,” Daring said, “and I’ve got one for ya right here.”

Rainbow quirked an eyebrow. “Huh?”

“Let’s race, kid,” Daring said, stretching out her wings. “I’ll prove to you that I can handle myself, my way, tipsy or not!”

A harsh laughed bubbled from Rainbow’s throat. “Race? Me? Haha! Daring, you might be good at digging up old artifacts and making tons of money, but you don’t stand a chance against me when it comes to speed.”

“Oh-ho-ho! Is that so, Little Miss Loyalty?”

Rainbow grinned again. “You remember that, too?”

Daring’s wings drooped. “What, you think I just block you out all the time or something?”

Rainbow smile weakened. “Uh… well…”

“All right, here’s the course,” Daring continued, bouncing between her front and back hooves.

“You can’t be serious! Daring, you’re drunk. You wouldn’t be able to keep up if you were injected with dragon blood, let alone right now!”

“First mare to fly around the balloon,” she said, pointing a yellow hoof upward, “and land back here, wins.”

Rainbow glanced up at the massive zeppelin. “Really?” She gave Daring a questioning look. “Is that allowed?”

“Prob’ly not,” Daring said, assuming a springy stance with a determined leer. “One, two, three, go!”

She jumped into the empty night, swerving toward the oblong balloon. Rainbow watched her fly to its base, just more than a hundred feet overhead, with a disbelieving squint. When the yellow dot that was Daring started to follow the vertical barrel of the zeppelin, Rainbow shrugged, wiggled her rump, and took off like a rocket.

The balloon was even larger than Rainbow had expected, but that made little difference to her. Grinning at the rush of wind that pushed back her prismatic mane, Rainbow curved around the left side of the floating oval, licking its rough fabric with the tip of her wing. She sucked a deep breath through her teeth and pumped her feathered appendages, pushing her higher and higher and higher into the air. Soon she was far from the ship and high above its zeppelin, both eyes locked on the endless starscape scattered like shy jewels all across the inky dome encompassing her world. With nothing but the blackened sky embracing her entire vision, Rainbow suddenly gasped at its beauty and relaxed her wings—open—at her sides.

Something was wrong, or perhaps very right, and Rainbow couldn’t put her hoof on it. As her momentum continued to lift her up without another flap, she effortlessly rotated her head in the glowing Moon’s direction. It shone near the horizon, surrounded by adoring stars, casting off its precious light to bathe the endless ocean.

With the ship directly below her and outside her line of sight, every drop of breath in Rainbow’s lungs vanished as she drank in that most harrowing of scenes: the ebon sky and glassy ocean meeting equidistantly at a line that curved with the most pleasant and natural of graces; the glorious Moon rising bravely through its stars like a griffon tearing through a dense flock of doves; the reflection of that great white orb, scattered and distorted on the ocean’s razor waves; all of it completely silent, all of it divinely slow.

Rainbow’s ascent came to its peak. Suspended in the air, caught between momentum and gravity’s allure, she dared not breathe or flap or blink. The moment was so suddenly surreal, so unexpectedly astonishing, that she hardly made the decision to fold in her wings and freefall through the night.

Her body stayed there at the crest, relaxed and unmoving, for what seemed like hours—no, eons—before her old foe took its eternal toll. She closed her eyes and allowed that image of the Moon, the sky, and the sea to sink into her eyelids and fill the crevices of her mind. She fell, backwards and blind, for three... four... five whole seconds before slamming into the top of the zeppelin. It was far from a soft landing, but it didn’t hurt much either. Her eyelids flew open and she beamed at the stars, wishing for the first time in her life that Twilight was there to share her knowledge of them.

“Wow,” she whispered to herself, folding her hooves over her belly. “Now that was awesome.”

She gazed at those ethereal pricks of impossibly distant light until the sound of labored panting made her ears twitch to the side. Four unsteady hooves landed on the big balloon and sent ripples of hollow sound through its surface, vibrating in Rainbow’s body.

“Have a nice flight?” she asked loudly from her comfortable recline.

“Holy... horseapples... kid,” Daring wheezed, stumbling closer to her. “I mean... phew... Luna’s nipple... you are frickin’ fast!”

Rainbow chuckled. “I told ya.”

“How in the... name of... Tartarus... did you... huughh!” She gave up, faceplanting two ponylengths to the right of Rainbow Dash.

“It’s natural, I guess,” Rainbow said, wiggling her flank. “My special talent, y’know?”

“Celestia, I would hope so,” Daring said, rolling over to stretch every muscle in her body. Without looking at her, Rainbow could tell from the tremors in the balloon’s fabric that Daring was lying with her head nearer to Rainbow’s hooves. “You’re not even... breathing hard....”

“Nope,” Rainbow gloated, focused on the sky. “I do that stuff in my sleep.”

“Then... why on Equus... didn’t you just... catch the freakin’... foalnappers... when we had the chance....”

Rainbow scowled. “Uh, I did, thank you very much. You gave ‘em back, and I didn’t know how to find them without you.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Rainbow saw a yellow hoof lift and wiggle at the bottom of her vision. “It’s my fault, boo hoo. Stupid, selfish Daring Do just likes causing problems.”

“Oh, good, we’re on the same page,” Rainbow said in a snarky tone.

“Ha ha.”


Silence greeted them again, this time like an old friend dropping by for a fireside visit. They watched the stars with varying fascination, two pairs of scarlet eyes absorbing the art of an open sky untainted by the hoofmade lights in cities large and small.

“It’s really...” Rainbow tried to say, darting her eyes from star to star. “It’s just so...”

“Sublime,” Daring stated matter-of-factly.

Rainbow Dash snorted. “That hardly does it justice.”

“‘Sublime is the name given to that which is absolutely great,’” Daring said in a hushed, honest tone. “‘That is sublime in comparison with which all else is small,’ ‘the mere capacity of thinking which evidences a faculty of mind transcending every standard of sense’.”

Rainbow was dumbstruck. “Whoa... what?”

“Ipponyuel Kanter,” Daring replied. “He was a, uh... philosopher, or something.”

Rainbow lifted herself onto an elbow and eyed the tired pegasus. “That was really cool, Daring.”

She shrugged. “You’ve got to read a lot to write a lot. Unless you’re some kinda god of fiction.”

“Heheh... I guess that makes sense.” She laid her head back down and tucked her hooves beneath it. “Still, that was, y’know... impressive. You should do that more often.”

“Do what?”

“Show how smart you are. It’s cool.”

Daring gave her a skeptical glance that Rainbow never saw. After thinking for a moment, Daring pointed at the wonder of the dark enjewelled sky. “You know any constellations?”

“No,” Rainbow admitted. “My friend Twilight loves ‘em. I was just wishing she was here.”

“That unicorn I met?” Daring clarified.

“The purple one, yeah.”

“She seemed a’ight. Sorta brainy.”

“Ha! Yeah, she’s a total egghead. She knows her stuff, though, and she’s crazy good at magic. I like her a lot.”

“Good. You should like your friends.” Daring pointed again. “See those three bright stars that sort of line up at an angle? Middle of the sky right now.”

Daring blinked and narrowed her eyes. “Yeah, I think I see ‘em.”

“That’s Orion’s belt, one of the more famous constellations. You should know that one.”

“Hey, I’ve heard Twilight talk about that! She wanted it on a dress one time.” She yanked a hoof from behind her head to scratch a spot on her ribcage. “Y’know, I’m pretty sure it’s her dad’s name, too.”

A snicker came from Daring. “What, ‘Orion’s Belt’?”

“Just Orion. Can’t remember the second part.” She cleared her throat and traced a circle on the balloon with her free hoof. “I, uh... I know about your dad. I mean, Ditzy told me about him.”

Daring was quiet.

Already feeling a twinge of regret, Rainbow continued. “That must have been really tough, seein’ him... you know... wither away like that.”

Still, the archaeologist was silent as stone.

“Look, Daring... I didn’t mean to bring it up if it’s something you’re not comfortable with, but...” She blew a hot breath through her nose and threw caution to the wind. “Ditzy said you didn’t really—”

She stopped mid-sentence as something in her brain clicked. She sat up straight and looked at the green locks of her mane hanging in front of her shoulder. For several seconds, they didn’t move at all. She unfolded her wings and squinted at the feathers; they didn’t flutter, either.

“Horseapples, that guy wasn’t kidding,” she said, licking her hoof and thrusting it above her head. “There is absolutely zero wind out here.”

“Huh?” Daring stirred and glanced in her direction. “Oh, right.” She yawned and stretched her hind legs along her greyscale tail. “Yeah, Alula sorta quit on the ocean winds after Ditzy up and left.”

“After she what?” Rainbow asked.

Daring didn’t answer, turning to her side, pulling her helmet from her head and using it as a pillow. “You were sayin’ somethin’ about, uh... Twilight’s dad?”

“No, your dad.”

Daring jolted and lifted the top half of her body from the balloon, aiming her shrunken pupils at Rainbow Dash. “What? What about my dad?”

“Ditzy told me all about him!” Rainbow repeated testily.

“Ah, that stupid...” Daring smacked her hoof against her forehead. “Well, whatever she told you is probably not true. I didn’t hate my dad, no matter how much she says I did.”

One of Rainbow’s bottom eyelids twitched. “She didn’t say anything like that.”

“... Oh.”

More silence.

“But... I’d like to hear about that,” Rainbow said, “if you’re, you know... willing to talk about it.”

“Are you joking with me, kid? Why the hay would you wanna know about that?”

Rainbow shrugged. “I dunno, it’s interesting! A couple days ago, Daring Do was just an awesome character in a book, and Ditzy was my goofy mailmare. Now I’m your partner and she’s talkin’ about how you two tried to find a bunch of magic thingamajigs to save your dad from an ancient unicorn curse!” She laughed at herself, less from humor than shock. “That sure wasn’t it any of the books.”

“Nyeh, I left it out. Readers don’t care about that kind of stuff.”

“Whatever! I totally care!”

Daring clicked her tongue. “Why?”

“Because... well...” She bit her lip and tugged at one of her wings. “I, uh... well, if you did hate your dad, then... I dunno, I’d be okay with that.” She rolled her eyes. “Well, not okay with it, really, but... I’d understand.”


“Yeah.” Rainbow gulped away a sudden stress in her throat. “My dad was a, uh... he was an earth pony. Big guy, good with his hooves. He was a sculptor, made a lot of statues and stuff for parks in, like... Manehattan, I think. Maybe it was Baltimare.”

“You talk about him like he’s dead,” Daring said bluntly, “but you told me your parents live in Los Pegasus.”

Rainbow grunted. “Yeah, they do. He’s not dead... yet.”

“Whoa. You got plans?”

“No, but his liver does.”

“Aaaahhh...” Daring nodded from where she lay. “He’s an alcoholic.”


“And that’s why you don’t want me drinking.”

“Well....” Her upper lip twitched as she struggled for words. “Not just that, Daring. It’s bad for you. It messes up your body and weakens your mind, so you do things you’d never do if—”

“Did he beat you as a foal or something?”

“What? Ugh, no!” Rainbow rasped out a heavy sigh. “Why does everypony think that alcoholics are inherently abusive? He didn’t get angry when he drank—just mean and dumb. And he hated pegasi.”

Hates pegasi. Your past tense is messing with my literary brain.”

“Okay, fine. He hates pegasi.”

Daring sat up briefly. “Wait... but you’re a pegasus.”

Rainbow gave her a blank stare.

“No, no, I mean... doesn’t that mean he married a pegasus?”

“Did you not pass, like, second grade? It’s called genetics, Daring. If you must know, both of his parents were pegasi and he was an earth pony. Obviously that was a bit of a problem.” Her eyes locked on a plane of clouds hovering over the distant shore of Equestria on the horizon. “They had to move to the ground ‘cause he couldn’t live in Cloudsdale. He was probably jealous and mad at his parents or something, I never really talked to him about it. Anyway, he married another earth pony, and they had me.”

“Circle of life,” Daring hummed.

“Something like that.” She sighed again. “My mom and I were pretty close, but he... he was always so mean to me. Called me ‘buzzard’ and ‘featherbrain’ all the time, sent me to Flight Camp every summer just so he didn’t have to see me around the house. It was good for me in the end, I guess: I’m the best flier to come out of Junior Speedsters in decades, just because I went there practically every summer since I was foaled.

“The rest of the year was even worse. Mom was a dental hygienist at an orthodontist’s office on the other side of town, so Dad got to take care of me whenever I was home. Er... well, actually, I got to take care of Dad. I can remember four, maybe five times total when he didn’t get so drunk during the day he could barely stand. I had to make sure he ate, clean it up when he puked, help him around the house, read the paper for him... heh. Well, I guess when I say it like that it doesn’t sound all that bad. Could have been a lot worse. I mean, like I said, it’s not like he ever hit me... with his hoof. All day, every day, he told me how lazy I was and how slow I was, that I was just a buzzard who needed to pick up the pace and stop asking to go outside!”

She gulped and ground her back teeth, reigning in her emotions with a shaky sigh. “He never told me he loved me, never took me to school, never let me go to a Wonderbolts show—never even took the time to get to know me. I was just there to make sure he didn’t drown in his liquor, nothing more than a necessary inconvenience. He hated me for no good reason, so... I hated him back.” Her brow furrowed. “I hate him back.” She winced in Daring’s direction. “So if you hated your dad, too, or even just got mad at him for something, I’d like to know about it. Just ‘cause, y’know... I can relate.”

She stopped and waited for Daring to respond. When she didn’t, Rainbow flexed her wings and rolled onto her hooves. Sure enough, Daring was curled into a ball, head rested on her hat, and her side was rising and falling with her steady, soundless breaths.

“Heh... that was quick,” Rainbow said aloud. “How much did you drink?”

Carefully, Rainbow lifted the sleeping pony and draped her over her back just behind her wingjoints. She picked up the pith helmet and pressed it over her colorful mane and, flapping as gently as possible, carried both of them back to the deck and landed near the wall of doors.

Daring opened one eye and looked around blearily. “Whuh... where am the som...”

“Come on, Daring,” Rainbow whispered, dropping to her haunches for the adventuress to balance on her own hooves. “Let’s go find our room.”

Daring grimaced. “Ew...” she mumbled, beginning to topple to her right. Rainbow sped to her side and braced her, wrapping her left wing around the goldenrod mare’s body.

“Let’s go, you big idiot,” Rainbow said with a smile, guiding them through the middlemost doorway.

By the time they reached their hall in the second level, Daring was more than three-quarters asleep, pressing her face against Rainbow’s neck and humming into her coat. “Yer such a great partner,” she mumbled in a low voice. “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

Rainbow laughed. “Yeah, well, I do what I can.”

They reached the doorway and Rainbow panicked, realizing she didn’t have a key. Trying the knob between her hooves, she found it unlocked and sighed with relief. “Let’s get you to bed,” she whispered to Daring.

The pegasus nuzzled the base of Rainbow’s neck, sending involuntary shivers down her spine. “Eugh...” Rainbow said, trying to lean away from her “hero”.

“I love you, Ditzy,” Daring cooed.

Rainbow Dash blinked. A smile tugged at her lips as she caved, accepting the whole-hearted nuzzle from the drunken ghost of Daring Do.

They trotted through the open doorway; Ditzy was sprawled over her cot, snoring rather loudly. The remnants of at least two more muffins were sprinkled around her face and hooves. As one of her hind hooves twitched, Rainbow helped Daring into the empty cot and patted the side of her head.

“Yeah,” she said quietly. “She loves you, too.”


“What the hay are you doing in the corner?” Ditzy asked.

Rainbow barely opened one eye. “Bwuah?”

“Why didn’t you take the bed?” the grey mare asked, pointing the empty cot devoid of muffin crumbs.

Rainbow wobbled to her hooves, cracking her back in a cat-like arch. “Neeuughh... ‘cause Daring was sleeping there...”


“I put Daring in the—”

Their eyes met and snapped open at the same time.

“Ponyfeathers!” Rainbow yelped, scrambling for the door. “She better not be down in the—”

A group of ponies galloped through the hallway just as Rainbow pulled the door open. She leaned back instinctively but quickly called after them when all had passed. “Hey, what’s goin’ on?”

“Some pegasus is doing tricks on the deck!” a dark brown colt yelled back. “It’s awesome!”

Rainbow heard Ditzy facehoof behind her. She turned around held a blue hoof in her direction. “Stay here, I got it.”

Ditzy chuckled. “Uh, she’s my sister, Rainbow Dash.”

Rainbow sighed and bowed her head. “But she’s my partner now,” she said, “and my responsibility.”

Surprised, Ditzy just stared at the pony as she used her wings to dash into the hall. Blowing harshly through the side of her mouth, Ditzy said, “My bubbly plot, she is!” and briskly followed suit.

On the deck, with the Sun several hours into the sky, close to a hundred ponies had gathered to watch as Daring Do soared, spun, and flipped, pausing every now and then to swig from the mug in her hoof. Their laughter and cheering were suddenly dwarfed by a raspy, thundering voice.

“Quit it, Daring!”

The mustard mare froze upside down and glanced in Rainbow’s direction. “Hey, kid! You made it!” She tossed her empty mug aside—it landed over an onlooker’s horn—and dove to hover right in front of her flushed partner. “I was wondering when you were gonna show up.”

“Dang it, Daring!” Rainbow said, stomping a furious hoof. “I thought you weren’t gonna drink again. What about our talk last night?”

“Uh, I never said anything about that,” Daring said, shining a carefree smirk at Rainbow, “and we hardly ‘talked’ at all.”

“How many of those have you had this morning?” Rainbow asked, pointing in the unfortunate unicorn’s direction.

“Enough to remind me,” Daring said, getting in Rainbow’s face, “that you owe me a rematch.”

Rainbow reeled. “Excuuuse me?”

“You heard me! That race last night? Not even fair. I wasn’t motivated! No one was watching me!” She flapped harder, raising ten feet higher and throwing her forelegs out to her sides. “All I need is an audience, kid! You don’t stand a chance against the real Daring Do!”

The ponies in earshot screamed their approval, stomping their hooves against the wood of the deck.

Rainbow groaned. “Daring, you can’t be serious! I’m not racing you again, especially not in front of all these ponies.”

“Why not? Don’t wanna be embarrassed?”

The ponies in her audience jeered.

“Exactly the opposite, actually,” Rainbow mumbled, glaring knives at Daring’s stupid grin.

“Fillies and gentlecolts!” Daring announced, rotating in the air for her voice to carry all across the growing crowd. “This mare is an Equestrian legend, the only pony alive to has successfully performed a sonic rainboom!”

Sounds of wonderment bubbled from the crowd.

Daring bore a wild grin. “How would you all like to see me beat her in a race?”

Rainbow rolled her eyes as the ponies around her exploded. “Daring...”

“So come on, Sonic!” Daring twirled a hoof invitingly. “Same course as last time! Think you’re up to it?”

“Daring, this is a really bad idea...”

“Gotta go fast!” Daring swept down, planted a hind hoof on Rainbow’s snout, and pushed off as hard as she could to begin her rapid climb.

“Not cool, Daring!” Rainbow yelled, joining her in the air. The cheering of the audience served as a sort of guilty fuel and she quickly caught up with the yellow flier.

“Good start, kid!” Daring said, smiling.

“Stop right now, Daring. I don’t wanna do this!”

“And what about what I wanna do, huh?” Her eyes flashed, accompanied by a hard beat of her wings. The wind from the flap threw Rainbow off balance for a moment; when she looked up, Daring was already circling the balloon.

“Whoa!” Rainbow exclaimed, genuinely shocked at her opponent’s speed. Steeling herself, Rainbow did what she was born to do, pumping her sky blue wings with enough vivacity to break an anemometer. She whooshed past Daring and kept close to the balloon’s white fabric, squinting her right eye to block out its glare from the sun. Soon she was grazing a flat stretch of the zeppelin’s side—and something yellow and green was emerging in her peripheral. She whirled her head to the side and gaped at Daring’s rapid flapping.

“Ha haaa!” Daring cackled triumphantly. “I told you, kid! All I need’s an audience!” She waved down at the ant-like ponies and, with an added burst of speed, pulled in front of Rainbow.

“Oh, heck no,” Rainbow growled. She tensed the muscles between her wings and flapped twice as often, keeping neck and neck with Daring as they tore over the spot where they had gazed at Luna’s stars. Seconds later came the descent, but neither racer slowed her flapping.

“You doin’ okay, Sonic?” Daring yelled over their wind. “You look like you could use some water! I see a whole lot down there for ya!” She laughed and did a barrel roll in Rainbow’s direction, causing the weathermare to veer and lose some ground.

“Dang it, Daring, stop it!” she screamed. “If we go any faster I’ll—”

“I don’t think you have to worry about that, featherbrain!” Daring called over her shoulder.

Rainbow’s jaw thrust forward. “You did not just...”

“Come on, slowpoke!” Daring said, spinning around to face Rainbow and flapping backward. “I need you to keep up! What if I puke again, huh?” Her smile widened wickedly. “Whose gonna be there to clean it all up?”

Raaaauuugh!” Rainbow shot downward and grabbed Daring by her wingjoints. The drunken pegasus laughed in her face; the strong smell of alcohol reminded Rainbow of her inebriated state. Of course she didn’t mean those things; in her right mind, she wouldn’t dare use Rainbow’s confessions to taunt her... she wouldn’t dare be so cruel...

Then again, she was rather Daring.

“Shut up!” Rainbow yelled, tugging at Daring’s wings as they plummeted toward the ship. “I didn’t tell you about my dad so you could make fun of me!”

“And I didn’t tell you about my dad at all!” Daring yelled back. “So don’t bring him up anymore!”

“You could have just asked me, you know!”

“You could have just left me alone!”

Rainbow was flapping harder and harder as the ship grew at the top of her gaze. A cone began to form around the fuming pair of pegasi.

“You brought me on this mission for a reason, Daring! I’m here to help you!”

“You’re here because my stupid sister was too stupid to do me a stupid favor!”

“Too stupid, or too aware of who you really are?”



The cone grew narrower, sharper. Daring’s mane flapped around Rainbow’s face as her eyes began to water.

Daring’s helmet suddenly flew off her head, smacking Rainbow between the eyes. The pegasus shouted and let go of Daring, reversing the direction of her flaps and clutching her bruised forehead. Daring snatched the helmet out of the air and tried to slow her brief descent, slamming into the edge of the deck and sending splinters of wood in all directions. The watching ponies gasped and backed away as Daring struggled to her hooves, stumbling to the white railing and moaning against it.

Rainbow did a few twisting maneuvers and landed next to the crater. “There,” she spat, “you beat me. Feel better now?”

Daring’s eyes were full of fire when she looked at Rainbow. “No!” she rasped. “No, I don’t feel any better! You and Ditzy are always telling me who I am and who I’m not, trying to get to me to do this and do that and be who you think I should be... just like Dad always was! Well, you know what? I’m sick of it!” She lifted her helmet above her head. “I’m so frickin’ sick of it! So you can all just shut up and find those stupid foals all by yourselves, because I quit!”

She threw the helmet at hard as she could, lost what little balance she had, and tumbled over the railing.

Daring!” Ditzy shouted from among the crowd, stepping forward to help. Bystanders gasped and covered their mouths, frozen with confusion and shock. Only one pegasus leapt forward and dove over the airship’s edge, plummeting toward the distant ocean with wings clasped tightly at her sides.

A tense silence fell over the deck. The faces of several concerned passengers poked over the main deck’s railing, only to back away as Rainbow heaved her uncooperative partner into their midst. Daring landed hard on the smooth wooden planks and sprawled in every direction, slurring a long string of barely comprehensible instructions aimed at nopony in particular.

Ditzy’s eyes were wide and very nearly aligned, her lips pursed into a nervous squiggly line. She breathed out a sigh of relief when Rainbow Dash picked up the pith helmet and tossed it carelessly over Daring’s face.

“Rainbow!” she said, trotting past the ogling crowd and catching the blue mare’s attention. “Wh-what happened?”

The Element of Loyalty gave Ditzy a sharp look and jabbed a hoof in her flattened sister’s direction.

“Can’t you tell? She won.”


Pinkie Pie stared at the clouds from the window of Sugarcube Corner’s front room, her childish mind finding shapes among their formless, fluffy whiteness: she saw a dog chasing a butterfly, a baby foal blowing big bubbles, a snake getting crushed by a rock. Her lip quivered when one of them resembled a frizzy-maned pony slamming another pony’s face into a mirror.

“Ng’ooooh,” Pinkie moaned, pressing her face against the windowpane. “Maybe I was trying too hard, and Twilight just wasn’t curious enough.” Her lips pushed forward in a pout and she watched the clouds swirl on.

She was momentarily distracted by four fillies under a tree across the street. They leapt into the air, clapped their hooves together, and rode off in a wagon attached to a scooter.

“Hmm... I wonder what the Crusaders are up to,” Pinkie said with a sad sigh. “Probably having tons of fun showing their friends new things without hurting their feelings... and faces.”

A cold chill suddenly ran up her spine while a hooded pony exited Sugarcube Corner, followed by a peculiar warmth and firm determination. “You know what?” she said to herself. “I don’t care if the clouds are mean or if the CMC got a new member or if all I can smell right now are cheese strings. I’m gonna go find Twilight and apologize to her right now!”

Pinkie rushed for the front door and smacked into Twilight Sparkle. Both of them tumbled to the ground, eyes swirling in their sockets.

“Oh, Twilight! I found you!” Pinkie chirped, suddenly on her hooves and helping Twilight to her own.

“Pinkie Pie, I came by to apologize,” Twilight said immediately. “It was rude of me to leave so quickly last night before you even had a chance to explain yourself.”

Pinkie gasped. “I was totally on my way to apologize to you, too!” Her forelegs wrapped around Twilight’s neck and she squeezed her friend lovingly. “It was silly of me to think you could possibly have been curious enough already! I should have waited until we were both sure. I’m sorry, Twilight!”

“Curious... enough for... what?” Twilight wheezed through her constricted throat.

Pinkie loosened her grip and slumped against Twilight’s side. “Maybe you’ll find out someday, Twilight. I guess Bluish Carol can’t make everypony as curious as me.”

Twilight snorted. “Pinkie Pie, you’re a lot of things, but curious is hardly one of them.”

Pinkie guffawed. “I am too curious!” she said, putting a hoof to her chest proudly. “Why, I’m the most curiousest mare in Equestria! I’m the only one who knows about the Wabe!”

“The what?” Twilight asked.

Pinkie winced and covered her mouth. “The, uh, the... the waaay!” She smiled weakly and pulled Gummy from somewhere behind Twilight. “The way Gummy likes to be scratched under his chin to make him fall asleep!” She demonstrated, causing the tiny gator’s limbs to go limp and his eyes to close.

The unicorn shook her head. “Pinkie, I heard you. You said ‘wabe’, not ‘way’. What is a ‘wabe’, Pinkie Pie?”

Pinkie rolled her eyes. “Not a wabe, Twilight. The Wabe!”

Twilight rotated her hoof. “Yes? Well, go on!”

“The Wabe is...” Pinkie sat on her haunches, stroking the snoring Gummy’s back while she scanned the ceiling thoughtfully. “The Wabe is... well it’s, uh...” She made an exasperated cough and flung Gummy over her shoulder. “I dunno, Twilight! I can’t explain it, you just have to see it!”

“Well, then, let me see it,” Twilight said, taking a step closer.

“I tried, Twilight, but you weren’t curious enough.” Pinkie shrugged sadly.

“You mean...” Twilight gulped and leaned close to Pinkie, whispering, “With the mirror?”

“Yeah! That’s where the Wabe is!” she said as if it was obvious, pushing her hoof to the side as if breaking through an invisible barrier.

Twilight tilted her head. “Behind the mirror?”

“Not behind the mirror,” she said with an excited gleam in her eyes. “Through the mirror!”

Twilight dropped her head. “Pinkie Pie... you can’t go through a mirror. That’s impossible.”

“Only to ponies like you, Twilight,” Pinkie said with a smile.

Twilight narrowed her eyes. “What is that supposed to mean?”

“It meeeeaans,” Pinkie said, skipping toward the staircase, “that you’re not curious enough to find the Wabe, that’s all.”

“I... I’m curious!” Twilight defended, hurrying after Pinkie. “I’m a scientist. We have to be curious!”

“Remember what you said when you came over last night?” Pinkie asked without turning around, heading straight for her room. “About reading Bluish Carol’s book?”


“You said that you read enough to make you curious,” Pinkie quoted, grinning from ear to ear as Twilight followed her into her room.

“Sure, I remember that,” Twilight said.

“What made you curious, Twilight?” she nearly whispered, planting herself next to the tall, rectangular mirror on her wall.

Twilight eyed the glass nervously. “Um... I was... I don’t understand how he could have known about the creatures in Tartarus.”

“Great!” Pinkie said, squeezing her hooves together beneath her chin. “That’s perfect! Now, I want you to wonder about that—reeeeaally wonder—and just be super curious about how he could possibly know that. Okay?”

Twilight gulped. “Okay...”

“And then, when you’re super-duper-extra-ultra-extreeeemely curious,” she said, rising to balance on one hoof, “do this!”

And she cartwheeled through the mirror.

Twilight screamed and scrambled backward, bumping into the far wall. Her heart was racing, her breathing quick. She stared at the perfectly normal-looking pane of glass for nearly twenty seconds before shuffling toward it.

“Pinkie Pie? Are you all right up there?” Mr. Cake’s voice called from downstairs.

“Er, um...” Twilight blinked and gathered herself, shouting back, “We’re fine, Mister Cake! Thank you!” She winced, hoping he wouldn’t come upstairs. She had some serious investigating to do.

“All right, then,” Mr. Cake’s voice wafted. No hoofsteps were heard.

Twilight sighed, clenched her teeth, and approached the mirror at a snail’s pace. She ran her hooves along its frame, timidly poked the glass itself, and even removed it from the wall. Nothing unusual stood out to her. She couldn’t even sense any magic in the room.

“This is bizarre,” she muttered to herself, setting the mirror up exactly as it was. “I don’t... it can’t... it’s impossible!” She squinted hard at her own reflection. “How did Pinkie...”

A familiar pink face replaced her own. “Hi!”

“Gaah!” Twilight slipped and landed on her back.

“Oops! Sorry...” said Pinkie’s head, smiling innocently.

“H-h-how are you...?” Twilight stuttered.

Pinkie giggled, a hoof appearing over her mouth. “Oh, Twilight. You’re so close! You’re asking all the right questions... just be curiouser, and jump in!” She disappeared, leaving only Twilight’s shocked expression in the shiny glass.

Shivering, Twilight heaved herself up and inched closer to the mirror. “C-c... curiouser?”

She froze with her muzzle only a hoof’s width from the glass. A pale pony in the mirror gazed at her, eyes pleading for sensibility. She closed those violet orbs, remembering the disbelief she felt when reading Carol’s words. She focused on that feeling of shock whenever Pinkie did... well, anything, really. She bit her lip, repeating in her mind, “I am curious. I am curious. Curiosity is key.

When she opened her eyes, she was strangely delighted to see a certain glow about them in her reflection: a genuine look of curiosity.

She gulped, revved up the muscles in her hind legs, and jumped forward.

A sensation like passing through bubble solution licked through Twilight’s fur. She clenched her eyelids shut once more, shivering from the brand new feeling, and listened to Pinkie Pie’s uncontrollable giggling.

“You did it! Oh, Twilight, you really did it! I knew you would be the one, I just knew it! Nopony else is curious enough, or smart enough, or imaginative enough, or even fun enough, for that matter! Oh my goodness, I can’t believe it! Well, yes I can, because here you are, right in front of me, in the Wabe! Heehee!” Twilight heard the unmistakable springy noise that accompanied Pinkie’s bouncing. “Oh-ho-ho-ho, there’s another pony in the Wabe! There’s another pony in the Wabe! I wonder how long it’s been since there were two modern ponies in the Wabe? Hmmm...”

Twilight had opened her eyes, but she was staring at the ground. If it said anything about the rest of “the Wabe”, she wasn’t sure she wanted to look up... because it was checkered. The ground beneath her hooves was like a sheet of polished marble, decorated with strangely natural, alternating black and white squares.

“Pinkie Pie...” she breathed, swallowing again, “where are we?”

“Oh, Twilight,” Pinkie cooed as the unicorn lifted her swelling eyes to a world beyond imagination. “That’s a loooonng story.