Scoot wandered around in a small shed back behind Gilda and Kel’s house with her armor set out on a small table. It had been a while since she’d actually had the chance to take it off. As lightweight as Apple Bloom had crafted it, it was still armor and she was glad to remove it.
“Ugh…there I go again. Getting all homesick again.” She thought begrudgingly as she looked at the control device on her leg, “Still, I hope those two are doing alright without me there. Oh, who am I kidding? I’ll bet they haven’t left our HQ since I went through the portal.” She thought with a small grin. She then glanced back at her cutie mark for a moment. Somehow, a pair of wings with a circle of flame around them seemed appropriate for her, though she thought back to the day she’d got it and how it had seemed insignificant compared to how much she and her two other friends had done trying to get their marks. “Of course, when you lose your home and someone that you really care about, some things stop being important.” A knock at the door suddenly snapped her out of her reminiscence.
“Yeah? Who’s there?” She looked over at the door.
“It’s us, Scoot,” Rainbow’s voice came from the other side, “Could we come in?”
“Yeah, gimme’ a sec’.” Scoot said as she walked over and opened up the door, seeing Rainbow, Gilda, and Applejack standing on the other side, “What? Do you guys want a party or something?”
“That’d be fun, but I think Pinkie might be disappointed I planned a party without her.” Rainbow cracked a grin as the three walked in, “We need to talk about what’s next now.”
“Oh yeah,” Scoot walked over to her pack and began looking through it, “You doing fine now, Rainbow?”
“Yeah. Ready to fly again at anytime.” Rainbow said reassuringly.
“She’s got a hard head, thankfully.” Gilda tapped Rainbow on her forehead, making the pegasus grimace at the gesture. Scoot glanced back and shook her head at their playful banter before she found the stone and yanked it out, slapping it down on the table in the center.
“That thing is the reason behind everything. The reason why I came back, the cause of Ponyville getting destroyed, everything.”
“This hunk o’ rock?” Applejack tapped it with her hoof.
“It’s not just a hunk of rock. It’s called the Stone of Storms. It might not look like much, but this thing is packed with magic. Supposedly, it’s got the ability to amplify a pegasus’ control over weather….the only problem is, it’s incredibly unstable.” Scoot said as she paced around the table like she was presenting the stone to the others.
“Define unstable.” Gilda looked down at the stone.
“I don’t know. All I know is that this thing is super old and that trying to use its power can lead to really bad stuff,” Scoot shrugged, “That’s really all I have for right now.”
“And whoever was in charge of that quarry dig definitely wanted it protected considering all the security.” Rainbow spoke up.
“No kidding. That and they’ve gotta’ be loaded too. You know who those other ponies were? They’re a private security force that call themselves the Checkered Flags. Really skilled, really expensive.” Gilda added.
“How do you know stuff like that?” Rainbow looked over at Gilda.
“I’ve been working as a courier ever since I got back to Equestria. You hear things.” Gilda replied with a smirk while Rainbow simply shrugged and apparently just accepted her friend’s knowledge.
“Alright. So lemme get this straight. This rock here’s the thing that’s gonna’ mess up Ponyville because of how darn powerful it is and somepony wants it real bad, but we don’t know who or why?” Applejack asked while looking very confused at everything that was going on.
“If only we could find out more information about the Stone’s past. That might help shed some light on things,” Scoot sighed before she looked around, “Anypony know somepony else who might be geeky enough to want to pour a lot of time into researching this?” She asked. At the question, both Applejack and Rainbow turned and looked at one another, each of them sporting a wide smirk.
Rarity knocked on the front door of the library as she was greeted by Spike.
“Oh hey, Rarity.” The baby dragon said with a love-struck look in his eyes, obviously very happy to see the image of his affection.
“Good morning, Spike. Is Twilight up and around? I wanted to see her in order to discuss yesterday’s events and see how she is faring.” Rarity said as she walked in.
“Oh yeah. She’s up putting books away. I offered to help, but she had something she wanted to try out I guess.” Spike opened up the door all the way, allowing Rarity to see Twilight floating in the air via a pair of shiny wings Rarity recognized immediately. It was the pair of gossamer wings Twilight had previously created in order to allow Rarity to fly within Cloudsdale when they had all gone there to cheer on Rainbow in the Best Young Fliers competition she had been so nervous about.
“Um…Twilight?” Rarity spoke up, getting the other lavender unicorn’s attention.
Twilight looked back, “Oh! Hey, Rarity!” She descended down from floating in front of the top shelf of the bookcase, “How’s it going?”
“I’m well, Twilight. I stopped by to see how you are doing,” Rarity said with a look of concern, then raised an eyebrow, “Um…what exactly are you doing with those wings?”
“These? Oh, I was just practicing challenging myself with magic by creating the wings. They actually feel nice…oddly natural even.” Twilight looked back and smiled slightly as she flapped the wings.
“Oh my, don’t they? It felt amazing the whole time I had them!” Rarity exclaimed with a bright expression, though it quickly faded as she looked away and her ears drooped with embarrassment, “Erm…even if what happened while I had them wasn’t exactly what I’d call my proudest moment.”
Twilight chuckled, “Stop worrying so much, Rarity. We all forgave you for that, remember?” Her horn shined bright magenta for a moment before the colorful butterfly wings vanished, “Hm, they’re actually fairly handy for seeing books high up on the shelf,” she glanced back to a glaring Spike, “Oh don’t give me that look, Spike. A pair of magic wings is no replacement for a number one assistant.” She said reassuringly.
“Especially considering I’m the only one who knows where anything is in this library.” Spike grumbled as he munched on an apple.
Twilight gave him an eye roll before she walked over and began putting books together, “I’m thinking about asking Rainbow to help me with some flying lessons using both the wings and my telekinesis to help while flying.”
“Speaking of which, that’s why I’m here, Twilight,” Rarity cut in to try and put the topic back on track, “That was a rather nasty fight you had yesterday with her and I wanted to see you how you were doing.”
Twilight sighed, “Oh, I know, Rarity,” she looked down and stopped organizing her books, “I feel awful about it too. Maybe if I hadn’t put together that whole Mare-Do-Well scheme, she wouldn’t have accused me of not trusting her…” Twilight looked at the ground.
“Oh no, no, dear! You are in no way at fault,” Rarity trotted over and put a comforting hoof around Twilight, but she then looked away in thought, "Though in retrospect it was rather mean of us to trick her like that."
"That's what I'm talking about, Rarity! I know Rainbow seemed okay with it after she found out, but what if she was really angry inside and was holding a grudge this whole time? What if this whole thing made her decide she doesn't want to be my friend anymore? What if..."
"Twilight!" Rarity firmly cut in, "You're overreacting and worrying about nothing. I may not know Rainbow as well as Fluttershy or Applejack do, but I can assure you that Rainbow will come around and talk eventually."
“If you say so.” Twilight looked over at Rarity before her eyes suddenly widened, “Oh my gosh! I just remembered! I need to finish getting those books together and then go see if Rainbow wants to talk before they get here!” Twilight scrambled around and began putting books into her saddlebags.
“Until who gets here?” Rarity cocked an eyebrow.
“I got a letter from Princess Celestia this morning asking me to come to Canterlot to assist her with some research and I need to get ready to go, talk to Rainbow, meet the Princess’ chariot and grab a few books,” Twilight paused for a moment to look back at Rarity, “Well…not necessarily all in that order.” She said with a shrug before continuing with her work.
“Urk!” Spike’s cheeks puffed out and he belched up green fire that quickly materialized into a sealed letter.
“Oh? A letter from the Princess?” Twilight said with a confused look. Spike suddenly doubled over and grabbed at his stomach.
“Ohhhhh,” he moaned, “If it was she must’ve sent a sword or something with it…agh…ow ow ow…”
“Spike!” Rarity ran over to him. Twilight followed, but at the same time opened up the letter. She found that it wasn’t from Celestia but rather it turned out to be from….Rainbow Dash? The letter simply stated to “Use the thing I sent you” which brought Twilight’s attention to a small box that had come with the letter.
“Oh? What’s this?” Twilight asked, intrigued.
“Whatever it is, it really hurt!”Spike groaned. Twilight magically opened the box and took out a small purple and black gemstone shaped like a pyramid.
“Oh my, that’s beautiful.” Rarity said in amazement at the floating gem.
“It’s a Projection Jewel,” Twilight glanced over to Rarity, who had her head tilted to one side, “Oh, it’s a magic gemstone designed to act as a communication device over long distances. Why would Rainbow send me one, though?” She touched an indentation on the one of the tips with her hoof. It then opened up and the next thing she knew, an image of Rainbow Dash suddenly projected out with a flash of light.
“Hey, how will I know when this thing’s working?” Rainbow asked to somepony else Twilight wasn’t able to see.
“Trust me, you’ll know! You’ll be able to see her lit up in front of it…at least I think anyway.” A tough female voice replied.
“What do you mean ‘you think’?” Rainbow looked behind her, “G, this is your calling whatever jewel thing!”
“Well, I told you that I’ve never actually used it. I got it from the courier service to use in case of an emergency and I’ve never had to use it at all. Something about how it costs a lot to charge or whatever.” The voice replied.
“Oh lansakes, you two, she’s right there and I think she can hear y’all!” A third voice that sounded like Applejack’s chimed in from an unseen position as well.
“Um…Rainbow?” Twilight asked.
“Twi! Twi, can you hear me? Sweet! This thing is working then!” Rainbow exclaimed enthusiastically.
“Where are you, Rainbow? What’s going on?” Twilight asked concern in her voice.
“Twilight, you’re not going to believe what’s going on.” Rainbow replied.
“Try me.” With that, Rainbow proceeded to explain to the unicorn the entire situation, though making sure to leave out the detail of her death since she knew that would cause Twilight to freak out about the safety of her friend, “Oh my…that’s a pretty intense situation.”
“Right, which is why we need your help, Twilight. We need to know everything we can about the Stone of Storms since we’re basically flying in the dark here.” Rainbow said, her expression looking very worried.
“The Stone of Storms…hm…,” Twilight looked back at the letter she had received from Princess Celestia earlier in the day, “It seems odd. The Princess sent me a letter asking to come to Canterlot to help her research that very same thing.”
“Seriously?!” All of the sudden, Rainbow got shoved to the side slightly as an image of what looked like an orange pony with a purple mane appeared, “What does she know about all this?! Why does she want you there?!” The mare demanded.
“Scoot, move aside, I’m getting to that,” Rainbow growled as she pushed the other pony back and got back into the center of the projection, “So you’re heading to Canterlot? Alright. We’ll meet you there, but don’t wait for us. Start up your research as soon as you can, Twilight.”
“I will,” Twilight nodded, “Make sure you remember to bring the Stone also. I’ll need a visual aid.”
“No problem,” Rainbow saluted, “Good luck with the research, Twi…I trust you.” She said with a more withdrawn look.
Twilight saw the look and responded in kind with a determined expression, “Thank you, Rainbow. I won’t let you down.” With that, the image of Rainbow vanished and the jewel stopped glowing. Twilight put the jewel into her saddlebags and dropped them onto her back, “Rarity, would you mind keeping an eye on things here while I go ask Lyra if she can watch the library while I’m gone?”
“Of course, dear,” Rarity said, a clear look of worry in her blue eyes, “I…apologize for eavesdropping, Twilight, but did I hear correct that Ponyville may be in danger?”
Twilight nodded, “Not to worry. Neither I nor Rainbow Dash are going to let anything bad happen.” Twilight firmly said.
“I’m confident you two won’t,” Rarity’s worry faded slightly, “Good luck in Canterlot, Twilight.”
“Thanks.” Twilight said with a smile as she trotted out of the library, Spike hopping up on her back as she went, having apparently recovered from the discomfort of receiving the letter, though still sporting a very uncomfortable expression.
“I’m REALLY going to need it.” She thought.
“Hey, Scootaloo!” Sweetie Belle called out as both she and Apple Bloom rushed over to their friend and fellow Cutie Mark Crusader just after school had gotten out.
“Heya’, girls,” Scootaloo responded, “What’s up?”
“Sweetie and I were thinkin’ about something…we’ve never asked Granny Smith how she got her cutie mark! We ought to go do that, what do ya’ think?” Apple Bloom said, sounding very excited.
“Hey, that’s a good idea,” Scootaloo nodded with a smile, “Uh…I was gonna’ go find Rainbow Dash first, though. I can catch up with you guys at the farm. Sound good?”
“No problem. I’ve got to ask my parents if I can even go first.” Sweetie Belle responded.
“Rock on, see you girls there!” Scootaloo waved as she hopped up on her scooter, clipped on her helmet, and took off from the school yard. The young pegasus filly, however, was unaware she was being watched from a nearby tree by Storm Stallion, who had dropped his outfit, allowing his gray mane to shine visibly in the sunlight and for his cutie mark of a dark storm cloud with a lightning shooting out of it visible.
“There she is…that filly worships Rainbow and if anyone knows where she is and what she did with the Stone, it’d be that one,” he leaned forward as he looked through a pair of binoculars to try and get a better bead on Scootaloo, only for him to lose his balance and fall forward, flailing his hooves as he landed on his back in a bush at the bottom of the tree, “…ow.” He groaned as he shook his head and stood up, a glare crossing his face at his misfortune.
“Smooth move. You’re a full grown pegasus and you just fell out of a tree like a foal learning how to fly. You’re amazing, Wind.” He shook his head as he took off into the air to follow Scootaloo from above.
Having had no luck being able to find Rainbow in town or even at her home, Scootaloo’s next stop was off to Fluttershy’s cottage close to the edge of the Everfree Forest. She knew Fluttershy and Rainbow were good friends so if anyone knew where she’d be, it’d be the empathetic pegasus for sure. Scootaloo pulled up next to the cottage and hopped off her scooter, placing her helmet up on the handlebars as she galloped up to the door, knocking on it with her small hoof. After a short time of not getting an answer, Scootaloo raised an eyebrow in confusion.
"That's weird. I thought for sure Fluttershy would be here."
“Hello.” A quiet voice came from behind Scootaloo. Though it wasn’t loud, the sudden change of presence caused Scootaloo to jump and whirl around to confront the pony that had come up behind her, only to realize it was Fluttershy, whose warming greeting quickly changed to concern for the startled filly.
“Geez Louise, Fluttershy! You about gave me a heart attack!” Scootaloo caught her breath.
“Oh! I’m so sorry; I didn’t mean to scare you.” Fluttershy said quickly as her ears drooped.
“Forget about it,” Scootaloo waved her hoof, “That’s impressive, though. You could be like a ninja or something with the way you move.”
“Oh…thank you. I’m not sure I’d be all that great, though.” Fluttershy looked back and blushed at the comment.
“Hey, have you seen Rainbow Dash anywhere? I’ve been trying to find her ever since I got out of school.” Scootaloo asked.
“Rainbow? Oh, I haven’t seen her since we were at Nurse Redheart’s yesterday. I really hope that she’s okay wherever she-“
“LIES AND SLANDER!” A voice came from above them, “Well…not really slander, but there are still lies!”
“Where’s that coming from?” Scootaloo looked around.
“Um…hello?” Fluttershy asked as she continued looking around.
“I know very well that you know where Rainbow Dash is and I intend to find out!” The voice came again.
“We still can’t see you, dude!” Scootaloo shouted up as she still continued looking around.
“What?! How can you not? I’m up in this tree as clear as day!”
“Um…we can’t really see you.” Fluttershy looked up in the tree.
“I’m right here!” Fluttershy could see a gray hoof waving from behind a leafy section of the tree.
“Move out from behind those leaves! We still can’t see you!” Scootaloo called out.
“Yes. We can’t see all of you, anyway.” Fluttershy added.
The voice groaned in frustration, “Fine! I shall do as…ah…too far…oh, horsefeathers, ahhhhhh!” The flailing form of Storm Stallion came out of the tree as he fell off the branch he had apparently been perched on, hit several other branches on the way down, and finally landed on his back at the bottom.
“Oh my gosh!” Fluttershy cried, flying over to him with Scootaloo behind her, “Are you okay?” She asked with concern.
“Yeah,” Storm replied, obviously dazed from the fall as his head swayed from side to side in confusion. He attempted to stand up, only to fall over onto his side, “…no.” His eyes rolled into the back of his head and he fell unconscious.
“Oh no! Scootaloo, help me get him inside!” Fluttershy darted over and attempted to help him up, the other young pegasus helping her carry Storm inside.