Chapter 25: Generosity
“See? I told you two mares can shower together platonically.”
We step out of the shower and Rarity levitates some towels over to us. She uses one to rub the fur on my back. “Well, first time for everything I guess.”
I shrug then grab a towel and dry Rarity’s legs for her, “Eh, not quite my first time. Applejack and I showered together back on the farm a few times. I mean, as an Earth pony, the only way she even has a chance of cleaning herself is if I go in there with her.”
Rarity carefully pats the side of my wings dry. “Really? You two never did anything? Don’t take this the wrong way Dash, but I figure you and AJ would be more than just platonic friends.” She smirks. “The hard working farm hand and the tomboy? Sounds like a page out a romance novel.”
I scoff, “Jack and I are childhood friends, I’ve known that mare for decades.” I bite my lip and try to rephrase. “Well, I mean, she wasn’t a mare before. Well, okay so she was a mare like twenty five years ago, but... Gah this is always hard to explain!”
Rarity giggles. “I gotcha. When you were living as humans, you were childhood friends with AJ.”
I nod. “Yes, that. We met in highschool and have been best friends ever since.”
Rarity moves to dry my other side. “Well that’s nice. I wish my guy friends could have joined me as a mare.” She looks up at me. “I’m correct in assuming AJ was a male as a human?”
I sigh. “Yep, and she won’t let you forget it.”
Rarity pauses for a moment. “Strange how so many of us, but not all of us, ended up changing genders when we came here.”
I shrug. “Well, I suppose that’s Discord for you. He wants to cause the chaos by changing who we are, but doesn’t want to change everyone like that because that’s not random enough.”
We finish drying each other’s coats for the most part, and then we hear my phone beep in the other room. Rarity drops the towels she was holding and trots towards the noise. “That’s probably them, I’ll get it.” I can’t help but notice her nude flanks as she trots into the next room, she left her underwear in here. Seeing naked ponies is really nothing new to me, out on the farm everyone except Flutters is naked all day long. But still, Rarity left her underwear in here. I look down at them, and a slow smile spreads across my face.
“Dash, darling, that was Shining and Twilight. They said they were on the hotel grounds. I gave them the room number, they should be here in--.”
“Oh, darling, that’s just splendid!” I trot into the room mimicking her mannerisms, and purposefully rocking my hips back and forth and swishing my tail.
“RAINBOW DASH!” Rarity exclaims, half yelling, half whispering.
"Oh? Do you like the new look?” I twirl around, showing Rarity my backside. I’m wearing her socks, garter belt, and black lace panties.
She leaps towards me and starts pulling the garments off with her magic. “Dash! Girls don’t share underwear!”
I laugh, biting my lip as I feel her pull her underwear off me using magic. I’ll admit, that feels really strange. “Oh, they don’t? Are you sure?” She shakes her head at me, then puts the garments back on her body. I grin mischievously. “I warmed them all up for you.”
Rarity rolls her eyes. “Great, just great.” She pauses and looks up at me, blushing slightly. “You know, these did actually look really good on you. Something to be said for black lace highlighted by that rainbow tail of yours.”
I take a step back. “Oh no, don’t you even think about it Rarity. You keep all that frilly lady dress stuff to yourself. I was just wearing them back there to make fun of you.”
“Mmhmm” she hums, tilting her head and smiling at me. “One of these days I’ll get you to wear something fitting for your gender.”
“Dream on, Rarity.” I look over at the unicorn mare, her coy smile going along perfectly with her wet mane. I can’t help but stare for a moment and raise my eyebrows. As much as I’m not attracted to girls anymore, I know she looks drop dead attractive right now. I give one more small sigh for my lost manhood, and I actually feel a little jealous of Shining. “Rarity, I gotta say, your colt friend is the luckiest guy on the planet.”
She blushes and looks at the ground for a moment, but before she can form a reply there is a knock on the door. The muffled voice of Twilight comes through. “It’s us, open up please!”
I glance at Rarity. “Speak of the devil.” I trot forwards, but before I get anywhere I see the doorknob glow blue by Rarity’s magic. I smile as Rarity opens the door with telekinesis, and I shake my head for a moment. “Pfft, show off.”
“Oh please Dash, you have no standing to use that phrase against someone else.” Rarity says, amused.
I turn back and stick my tongue out at her. “Takes one to know one!”
She returns the juvenile gesture. “Takes one to know, that it takes one to know one”
I laugh, “That doesn’t even make sense!”
Rarity opens her mouth to say something, but then I see her eyes go wide as she glances past me. “Oh... hello.”
I turn back around and see Shining and Twilight standing in the doorway, watching the two of us. Twilight raises an eyebrow. “You two are certainly getting along very well. What did I miss?”
Rarity ignores her completely. “Shining! You’re back!” She trots forward to the stallion, and he closes the remaining distance.
The two embrace in an equine hug. “I’ve missed you so much Rarity. I was so worried about you.”
She smiles, and glances over at me. “I was safe, Rainbow Dash was protecting me.”
Shining’s ears drop slightly and he looks over at me. I awkwardly rub the back of my neck with a hoof. “Well, come on Rarity, I only managed to save you because Shining here managed to escape that cell and he found me and told me what to do to save you. So really, he’s the one that saved you not me.”
“Well, all that matters is you’re safe.” Shining smiles as he looks back at Rarity and they kiss.
Twilight, standing just a foot away from the kissing couple, smacks her lips in boredom. “That’s nice. So, now what’s the plan? We’re all here, and we’re all safe, what do we do?”
I strech. “Like I said before, we head for Iowa to meet up with the rest of the mane six. It’s also much safer there, and we have food and medicine stockpiled.”
Shining breaks his kiss with Rarity and glances over at me. “Yeah, well we have no way of getting there.”
I look out the window. “First things first, we need a way out of the city. To do that we’re going to--.”
Twilight waves a hoof and cuts me off. “Before we start making plans, where is Pinkie? All this splitting up is driving me crazy. Can we get Pinkie in here, and then just stick together from here on out?”
I nod. “Good idea, she’s in room 226.” Rarity tilts her head and stares at me, but I ignore her and walk over to my bag, find the key, and toss it with my mouth towards Twilight. “That’s the key for her room, 226 is just down the hall.”
“Dash?” Rarity stares at me and gestures towards the key I threw to Twilight.
“Hmm?” I play innocent.
“You had the key to Pinkie’s room this entire time?”
I smile. “Of course, she gave it to me when we got here in case you or I didn’t want to sleep in this room.”
The white unicorn smiles. “Back then you said you weren’t expecting me in your room, and you lamented the fact that we had to share one.”
“I never said that.” I laugh softly. “I didn’t expect you here, but once you showed up, I figured it would be a good time for us to bond.”
Rarity gives me a soft smile, but Shining cuts off our conversation. He steps forward, his eyebrows creased and his ears slanted forwards. “What’s this about you and Rarity sharing a hotel bed?”
Rarity playfully waves a hoof at him. “Oh relax Shining, it’s just girls here. And we didn’t share a bed, we shared a double room.”
I look at Shining and smirk. “Yeah Shining, we’re just girls here, relax buddy no one is stealing your mare.”
Twilight shakes her head and turns to leave the room to go get Pinkie. “You ponies are crazy.”
“Well Shining, I’m plum tuckered out of ideas,” Pinkie says to me. I’m not really paying attention though.
“Shining Armor, darling, are you okay? You look distracted?” Rarity nuzzles my side.
I smile at her. “I’m just thinking things through Rarity, I’m fine.”
Rainbow Dash rolls her eyes. “Well, mind sharing your thoughts with us over here? We’re kinda low on ideas on how to get out of this city.”
I scoff and turn away. Dash is starting to get on my nerves, she’s really acting like she owns the place, and Twilight, Pinkie, and Rarity are treating her like she’s part of the gang. She’s not though! Tom, Harry, my sister, and I have been friends for years before this whole thing started. Dash just barges in here and thinks she can be close with everyone, and then has the gall to try and lead us?
Rarity looks up at me again. “Shining, you’re grinding your teeth.”
I stand up and stretch my neck, putting aside my thoughts for now. “Okay, so, about our escape plan. So far we all agree on the basics, we wait for nightfall, then escape the city on hoof. Once off the grid we head east, somehow.”
Pinkie Pie nods happily. “That much is certain!”
Dash nods and starts tapping on her phone using a stylus from her wrist band thing. “Right, as far as heading east looks, here is the plan. Looks like the Amtrak line from Vancouver to Seattle runs past the city at 11pm.” She pauses for a second and does a few more taps on her phone. “We're at Bellingham, in between those two cities. If we hop on that train as it passes us, it will take us south past Everett; we can then change tracks and hitch a ride on a freight line running east through Montana...”
I give her a confused look. I know she traveled up here using the train lines, and with her wings she was able to hide on the roofs of the train cars, and then fly up to the clouds to hide when the trains stopped at checkpoints. And that was great and all, but she did realize we weren’t all pegasus right? Playing stowaway won’t really work, there are five of us, we need something more, well, roomy.
She continued on, “Then, past Salt Lake, we’re going to have to find a mountain rail line running south--”
I cut her off, “Dash, question.”
“What’s up chief?”
I smirk, wanting to make her feel stupid in front of everyone. “How come you made the trip up here by yourself?”
“Well, Flutters really didn’t want to, and AJ and Mac didn’t have wings so they couldn’t do all the train stuff. In the end we decided I was the only one who could really make the trip like this.”
“Mmhmm.” I nod.
Dash turns back to her phone. “Okay, so once we are out of Utah we can--”
“Dash.” I cut her off again.
“What?” She snaps, annoyed at the continued interruptions.
“There are five ponies here that have to make the trip.”
“Yeah, I know, I can count.” She rolls her eyes.
I grit my teeth, “Dash, there are five ponies, two with wings and three without.”
Dash claps her hooves sarcastically. “Very good Shining! Now, can you tell me what color is a firetruck?”
I snap, “Damnit Dash, you’re stupid train idea won’t work! Three of us can’t fly! Celestia damn it, you’re thick.”
Defeat falls across Dash’s face and her ears drop as she realizes her plan sucks. But before I can take satisfaction in my win, Rarity jabs me in the side. “Shining! Cool your ego. You could have politely told Dash that fact at the start instead of throwing insults around and raising your voice.”
Before I could apologize to Rarity, I hear Dash beat me to it. “The fault was mine Rarity, I’m sorry.”
I glance over at Dash, her ears flat and her head submissive and down before Rarity. I glance back at my mare friend, smiling sympathetically at Dash. Wait, what the hell is going on here? Dash and I argue, and Rarity defends Dash? And then Dash bows and apologizes to Rarity before I have the chance to do so? What, no, Rarity and I are together, how did this pegasus get between us?
I take a step back, “I don’t like this...”
“Don’t like what darling?” Rarity looks up at me and gives me a calm look. I was about to stammer some sort of question, but an incoming phone call distracts us. Rarity’s ears perk up and she trots over to the bed stand. “My personal cell!”
I trot behind her, quite surprised by the phone call and totally forgetting about the current events with her and Dash. “Who is it?”
Rarity glances at the screen and tilts her head curiously. “It’s my parents... my parents never call me.” She magically lifts a nearby stylus and accepts the phone call before bringing the phone to her ear. “Hello?” I want to stop her and inform her answering the phone as Rarity is a terrible idea, but hey, they were her parents.
There’s a brief pause of silence, then my large pony ears pick up a voices from the phone’s speaker. “Oh, I’m sorry lady, I think this is the wrong number...”
Rarity stammers, “What? Mom, please wait! It’s me. Rarity.” There’s a slight pause before she quickly corrects herself, “I mean Tom, I’m T--.”
*click* The line gets closed from the other side.
Rarity’s ears slowly drop and she lowers the phone. Twilight speaks up from behind me. “If they call back, don’t pick it up.”
I sigh with understanding and put a hoof on the white mare’s shoulder. “Rarity, your voice has totally changed. You can’t call your parents.”
She nods slowly, “Yeah, I know. But they never call unless it’s an emergency. I really wanted to talk to them.” She sighs again and stares at the phone.
Pinkie waves a hoof in the air, “Just text them and ask what’s up!”
Rarity says nothing but magically grabs the phone stylus and gets to work tapping out a message.
I look back waiting for Dash to make a witty remark about the situation, but she remains quiet and stares at the ground for a while before speaking. “Rarity can text them for now, but what about tomorrow. Or a week from tomorrow. Or next month. Or next year...” She looks around and sighs before stating what was on our minds. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m adapting to the fact that I’m a pony right now. But the more days that pass, the more I realize how much of our humanity we really lost, and how many things we can never get back.”
I bite my lip and look around, noticing everyone looking quite somber. I make eye contact with Pinkie and gesture with my eyebrows: Come on woman, this is why you’re here, brighten the mood!
Pinkie nods and puts a smile on. “Cheer up, Rarity! Once this settles we can find a way to change you back!”
Dash gives Pinkie a look and shakes her head no. Twilight joins in, “That’s probably not going to happen, Pinkie.”
Pinkie nods. “Well, that’s okay! Um, well, once this settles maybe you can just go to your parents as a pony and live with them like that!”
Rarity continues to tap at her phone and waits a few seconds before replying in a dead tone. “My father used to ride horses for sport, but he stopped when he met mother because she loathes animals.” She pauses to sigh. “And half of my childhood memories of my father are him telling me how much he loved having a son, and chauvinistically telling me how much he wants me to become a real man when I grow up.” She sighs again and taps her phone a few more times before hitting send and putting it back on the table. “So, no, I’m not going back to them as a mare.”
I see Dash take a few steps towards the depressed mare, but then Dash pauses, looks over at me, and gestures with her neck to tell me to go to Rarity. I nod and approach the mare I love, bringing my body alongside her’s and letting her head rest on my shoulder. “We’ll think of something, Rarity.”
“Yeah, sure we will.” She says half-heartedly, then leans harder into me as a tear falls down her cheek. “I’m just so glad you’re here with me Shining. I’m glad all of you are with me. I couldn’t do this by myself, I just couldn’t.”
“We’ll get through this.” I pat her with my hoof, my eyes moving back to her phone as it buzzes from an incoming text message. “What did your message to them say by the way?”
“I said I was at a party and a girl grabbed my phone, and I can’t call back because of loud music right now.” Rarity lights up her horn to pick up her phone. “I don’t know how much longer I can keep lying to my parents like this, but I guess it’s the only choice we really have right now.”
Pinkie appears at our side, smiling. “Well that’s okay, ‘grandfather say it never rain everyday’ so you should be getting some good news from them next and--”
Rarity cuts her off by reading the next message her parents just sent her. “The FBI contacted my parents and said my credit card was being used to provide hotel rooms to terrorists. FBI said it was probably identity theft, so my parents cancelled all my credit cards thinking my wallet was stolen.”
Pinkie awkwardly attempts to stay smiling, “Well, hey, at least we already paid for the hotel, right? That’s good news!”
I furrow my brow. Wait, so the FBI found the hotel room keys, tracked them to the old motel room, checked to see who paid for those two rooms, figured out it was Tom’s card, and then flagged her credit cards? That means they probably are looking at the other purchases she made, and she paid for the hotel room we are in! Shit! The fur on my neck stands up. “Guys, we have to leave this place, now!”
The other ponies all turn to look at me and start asking questions.
Pinkie whines, “But we just got here!”
Twilight sighs, “Here we go again.”
Rarity frowns, “But we have nowhere else to go.”
Dash just nods and salutes, “Fully understood Shining, I’ll fly to the roof and check out the perimeter, can you start evacuating the girls?”
Slightly taken aback from the pegasus’s offer, I just nod. “Yeah that would be great actually. See if the path to that park is clear, it’s two blocks away.”
Before I even finish my sentence, there is a cyan colored blur and she leaps out the open window and takes to the air. I raise my eyebrows but turn back to the other ponies. “Rarity paid for this hotel. If Rarity’s card was flagged, the FBI are already on the way.”
Twilight paces in a circle. “But if the train idea doesn’t work, how do we get to Iowa? We can’t steal a car and drive it 2000 miles without getting caught. Even more importantly, how do we get out of this city during the middle of the day? The plan was to wait until nightfall in order to leave.”
Pinkie scratches her chin with a hoof. “I can call Starbreezer, but he went back to Seattle, so he’s like two hours away.”
Twilight shakes her head. “Even if he was here, we can’t ask him to drive us halfway across the country. And even if he wanted to, five ponies would not fit in one car.”
I start picking up things we unpacked in the room, “So, we need something to get us out of the city, and then something to get us over the Rocky Mountains.”
Pinkie shrugs. “Well, could we just walk there? We’re not exactly in a rush to get there, right?”
Twilight laughs softly, “Pinkie, it’s 2000 miles and it’s over mountains. Walking in a group of five, we could realistically only manage 20-30 miles per day. It would be autumn by the time we got there.”
I see Rarity chew on her lip for a second, then pick up her phone. I turn back to my sister. “First things first, how do we get out of here in broad daylight when the cops are on the way?”
Pinkie shrugs, “Call a taxi?”
Twilight dismisses it with a hoof wave, “Cab companies work closely with the police. Not to mention five ponies wouldn’t fit in one taxi, and taking two taxis would double our chances of getting caught.”
I raise an eyebrow as I see Rarity start dialing a number on her phone. I turn back to Twilight. “And we have no way of paying for a taxi. Most around here only take cash, and all we have are a few low-spending limit credit cards that Twilight and I have.”
Twilight nods, “We might be in trouble here, I guess we just hoof through the city in broad daylight and hope for the best.”
Rarity speaks into her phone. “Why hello, if I purchase your service, do you include executive transport to your location?”
I tilt my head at Rarity, and hear the person on the other end of the phone reply. “Of course ma’am, we have complementary drivers standing by in the city at all times.”
Rarity smiles. “Fantastic, my acquaintances and I are ready for immediate pick up. As soon as we arrive at your location we will be purchasing your A1 product line, distance 2000 miles.” Rarity gives the woman on the phone her address. “Oh, and my acquaintances and I are very strict on privacy and confidentiality. I imagine this won’t be a problem for a company as respectable as yours?”
“Client privacy is our number one goal ma’am. A driver is on his way, he will be there to take you and your bags in approximately ten minutes.”
“Splendid.” Rarity ends the call and looks over at us. “Well, that’s taken care of, I got us transport.”
I nod happily, “Transport away from this hotel, or transport to Iowa?”
The wind blows through my full spectrum mane as I patrol the roof, checking all the streets for signs of approaching police. So far it looks pretty quiet, and this is a great vantage point too. I can see the highway exit that leads here, that gives us a good five minute warning if the police really are coming.
I sit my plot down and watch the streets, reflecting on things. I’m not sure what to think about Shining. He really likes Rarity, which I fully understand, but I’m starting to get the feeling that he doesn’t like me being here. Maybe before I was here, he was always in charge, and now I’m taking that from him? Gah, we have enough drama going on without a pissing contest over who is more qualified to lead the mares to Iowa. Granted, that’s not even up to debate really, it’s obviously me. I mean, I’m the most physically fit pony here, and I know the most about what’s going on. Not to mention, hello, I’m freakin Rainbow Dash. Pretty sure I get to lead just by nature of being best pon--.
My thoughts are interrupted by a purple flash behind me. I spin around and see Shining standing a few feet away. He nods his head. “See anything yet?”
I sigh, I bet he came up here to try and assert his dominance and show me that he’s in charge of things. Whatever, this vantage point thing was all my idea.
I wave a hoof to the north. “A cop car came to a stop about one block away from here, and it’s just waiting for something.”
Shining nods, “It’s probably the first car on the scene. Standard protocol for stuff like this is for him to wait for backup before he approaches the target.” Shining pauses and sighs. “The cavalry won’t be far behind.”
I lower my ears, I do actually feel bad about that whole thing. “Sorry about all that by the way, this is all my fault. If I didn’t fly like I did and alarm the military, none of this terrorist threat stuff would be here making things difficult for us.”
Shining gently nudges my shoulder. “Oh come on, my friends and I were the ones who blew up the bookstore and started all this mess. Besides, I’m the one that told you to fly like that.” He flashes me a gentle smile. “A flight, which by the way, was pretty badass. I didn’t think anything could move that fast that didn’t have a jet engine attached to it.”
I blush slightly, finally, someone here actually appreciates my awesome flight prowess. Kind of funny how Shining of all ponies is the one to bring it up. I paw a hoof at the ground. “Heh, yeah, I’m pretty awesome.”
Shining laughs. “ My god, that narcissism. You really are Rainbow Dash, you know that?”
I smile. “Hey, come on, I don’t love myself because of my ego. I just love myself because I’ve always loved Rainbow Dash. Then, well, I sorta became her.”
He sits down next to me and looks out onto the streets below. “Well, you did sort of luck out here, becoming the pony you always liked. This whole nightmare is probably a dream come true for you. Lucky...”
I sit down against him, maybe I was wrong about Shining. Sure we have our differences, but he seems like a pretty cool stallion. I affectionately rest my head on his shoulder. “I wouldn’t say it’s a dream come true, but sure, some parts of it have been pretty nice. Come on though, you lucked out more than I did. Believe it or not, I was a guy before all this.” I pause and nod slowly. “But now, I’m completely female, both inside and out. You got to keep your gender, and you’re together with Rarity. I mean wow, you won the jackpot among us.”
Shining blushes. “Rarity and I were old friends back when we were humans. But you’re wrong about avoiding the gender roulette. This unicorn stallion used to be a svelte little girl.”
I eye his muscles up and down, “Really? Wow, well you came out nice. How you enjoying the new gender?”
He looks at me and raises an eyebrow. “It got me Rarity.”
I bite my tongue and smile. “Yeah, yeah, rub it in why don’t you. You have the manhood I no longer have, and you nabbed the second most attractive mare here.”
Shining looks at me and smirks, “Oh? And who’s number one? Twilight?”
“Pfft, please.” I toss my mane back. “Purple smart has nothing on this body of mine.” I look back at my flanks and sigh softly. “It’s sort of sad my own body doesn’t turn me on anymore, but I guess that was bound to happen once my mind starting to really think of it as my own body. But hey, I have memories of before...” I wave a foreleg across my flank. “And my past self will confirm, this body is as attractive as it gets.”
Shining erupts into laughter. “Keep telling yourself that honey. I’d rank you above most other ponies, but Rarity still holds the very top spot.”
I stammer as I realize that this large, handsome stallion just told me that, in his eyes, I look better than most other ponies. I feel myself blush deep red and I turn my head away from his. “Uh, thanks, you’re up there too Shining...”
A short silence falls upon us, and then the stallion gives out a soft, nervous chuckle. “You know, the night before this all really happened, I was looking around for some clop and I found this video were Shining and Rainbow Dash...” The unicorn stops talking and gives out an awkward, forced cough.
I facehoof, the side of my vision telling me that Shining is blushing just as hard as I am. “Yes, I know the video. And no, let’s never talk about that video again, are you trying to make things awkward here?”
Shining lets out an uncharacteristic giggle, “Hey, you started it all with your ‘check out my amazing flanks’.”
I laugh with him then rest my head on his shoulder. “Oh shush, not like you weren’t looking at my curves when we first met.”
Shining blows the mane out of his eyes. “Not my fault. I’m used to mares wearing underwear around here, you sort of have everything on full display. I can’t help but look! You were a guy once, you surely remember that tendency?”
“Remind me to not walk in front of you.” I blush again. “I don’t want Rarity thinking that I’m trying to steal you away from her.”
Shining tilts his head and pauses for a second. “Wait... are you?”
I spot movement down the street and stand up. “Vehicle approaching the hotel.”
“It’s fine, that’s our ride.” Shining quickly dismisses my attempt to change the subject. “Dash, what did you mean by that wording back there?”
I laugh, “I’m just teasing dude.”
He smirks. “Ah, so you were playing coy with me, I know that game, I spent a long time a girl.”
I laugh. “Well then I think this is more than fair. I had to live twenty five years of girls tormenting me like this.” I watch as the vehicle comes to a stop in front of the hotel. “Well, the ride’s here, we should go.”
I take a step forward, but Shining holds out a hoof to stop me. “Dash, while you’re here, did you and Rarity do anything last night? You two seem to have gotten really close after just one night.”
I roll my eyes. “Trust me, as much as I would love to sleep with that gem, my body wants nothing to do with females anymore. Rarity is yours, don’t worry about me. ”
He smiles reassuringly. “Alright, good to hear soldier. Keep in mind that I order you to tell me if anything does happen between you two.”
I know he's just kidding, but I can't laugh in his face. “Wait, order me? Please, you literally have no standing. I came up here to protect my friends, not because I’m your scout to order around.”
Shining creases his eyebrows in a sudden display of seriousness. “Dash, this is my show to run. I’m the leader here.”
“Not a chance, sorry.”
He sighs. “I’m the Captain of the Guard, therefore I’m in charge.”
I sit back and cross my forelegs. “And I’m a Captain of the Wonderbolts.”
Shining scoffs, “My sister is an alicorn!”
“So? I’m an Element of Harmony. Mane six for life!” I try to make a gang sign, but then I remember that I don't have fingers.
Shining rolls his eyes. “Dash, come on, I'm the stallion here. I'm the alpha male, so I should be the one in charge.”
I stand back up and grin. “You’re right, you are the guy... in a pure matriarchal society. Mares are the leaders among ponies, sorry Shining.” He opens his mouth, but then stops and bites his tongue. I pat him on the shoulder, “It’s okay Shining, I need a good number two.”
“Dream on sister.”
I peer off the roof and spot the ponies emerge from the bushes and head towards our waiting ride. “Come on captain, our ride is waiting.”
I hop off the roof and glide down to land next to the mares. Rarity gives me a look. “Where is Shining? You guys were all alone up there for quite a while.”
I shake my head innocently. “Rarity, do you really take me for the type of pony who goes around sleeping with everyone she sees?”
She gives me a suspicious glare and a smile, but says nothing. A second later Shining teleports beside her. “Hey girls, this is our ride?”
Twilight nods. “It’s what Rarity ordered for us, still not sure why she choose a limo.”
I eye the luxurious, executive stretch limo before us. “Damn, I haven’t ridden in one of these since Prom.”
Rarity makes her way to the driver’s side door. “We can’t really trust a taxi to slip past the police, but no one expects a limo to be carrying fugitives. Besides, it came at no charge as part of the service I bought us.”
I tilt my head. “What service?”
Rarity trots towards the driver’s door and waves a hoof at the window. A moment later the window rolls down and a well dressed guy pokes his head out to stare at her. “Umm, hello?”
Rarity bows. “Why yes, hello! I am Ms. Rarity and these are my acquaintances. I believe you are here to pick us up?”
The driver’s brain freezes as he attempts to process the fact that his pick up customer is a small, talking unicorn. Not only that, she is more polite than any of the normal executives he picks up. He steps out of the car and looks down at her, then back at the other ponies. “I, umm. I’m here for a Rarity, party of five, but you’re...” Confused, his brain just falls back on his training. “Hello ma’am, thank you for selecting Bellingham Aviation Services: Your gateway to the Pacific Northwest. My name is Mark, and I will be your driver today. Do you have any luggage you need help with?”
The driver slowly goes to the passenger door and holds it open for Rarity, a confused look still plastered across his face. Rarity bows slightly and takes him up on his offer. “Why yes, thank you kindly Mark. Our bags are all over there, next to my dear friend Twilight.” Rarity waves a hoof behind her. “She is the purple one with the wings.”
Rarity steps into the limo and I slowly trot towards the open door as well. To say this was a strange encounter would be an understatement, though I daresay it is a hundred fold more awkward for the driver. I enter the limo and give a small nod to him, attempting to mimic Rarity’s professionalism. “Thanks for coming on time Mark, always appreciated.”
“Of course, customer service is our highest priority.” He nods, staring at my tail as I hop into the luxurious transport.
Mark moves to get the bags as the other other ponies hop into the limo. Even with five equines in here, the stretch limo has plenty of room. Oh and hey, there are even little bags of peanuts and M&Ms back here! “Don’t mind if I do,” I mutter as I grab a handful of snacks and stuff them into my saddle bag.
Rarity beats me in that regard, as a second later I hear the popping of a cork. I glance over at her to see her magically holding a bottle of champagne she took from the mini fridge. A series of champagne flutes join the bottle in the air, and she starts pouring drinks.
Pinkie rocks back and forth in her seat, tapping her hooves on the mahogany trim. “Woohoo, I’ve never ridden in a super fancy car like this before!”
Twilight eyes Pinkie and nods. “Yeah, this is quite a treat.” Twilight pauses as Rarity magicly passes a glass of champagne over to her. “Certainly beats running through forests on hoof, that’s for sure.”
I’m in the middle of devouring a packet of pretzels when Mark gets back in the driver’s seat and looks over his shoulder at us ponies. He clears his throat, “So, um, are any other colored horses coming, or shall we be on our way?”
Rarity sips her champagne and smiles. “We are ponies my dear, and yes, this is our full party. Take us to the destination please.”
He gives us all one more look, and I eagerly wave my hoof at him. “Hey Mark, thanks for the snacks by the way.”
He nods, but is too addled to reply, so he just faces forward and starts the engine. Rarity lets out a sigh and takes another swig of champagne. “Girls, help yourself to all the snacks, they are all already paid for.”
Twilight picks up a single bag of peanuts and eyes the white mare. “Rarity, how did you pay for all this? Your credit card was canceled. An executive limo? I mean, good thinking this should get us safely out of the city, but don’t these cost hundreds of dollars?”
Rarity says nothing and pours herself more champagne. I raise an eyebrow and ask her more questions. “And where are we going? The guy said he works for aviation services? You don’t seriously think we can get through airport security and fly coach back to Iowa.”
Rarity downs her second glass of champagne and licks her lips. “Who said anything about flying coach?”
“A Gulfstream G650!?” My jaw drops open and I stare at Rarity. The limo drove straight out onto the airport tarmac and pulled up alongside a sleek private jet.
“Ooh, that plane is super shiney.” Pinkie claps her hooves together. “Will there be more snacks on board Rarity?”
I wave a hoof at the most expensive private jet in the world. “Of course it has snacks! It’s a Gulfstream 6! It has a full kitchen, beds, satellite TV, a wet bar, probably a personal chef too!”
Twilight looks at me, and then out the window at the jet. “It’s really that luxurious?”
“Well, I think we know how we are getting to Iowa.” Shining joins her in staring out the window at the jet.
Our driver opens our door, then moves to start unloading our luggage. I turn to Rarity. “You’re serious about this? You chartered a premium private jet?”
She nods slowly, “It’s the least I could do, I owe so much to all of you.”
I rub the back of my neck with a hoof. “Yeah, but, won’t your parents be really upset that you just spent god knows how much of their money to charter a personal jet and fly across the country in it?”
Rarity stands up and makes for the door. “Oh, don’t worry about my parents.”
I tilt my head and want to ask her what she means, but she’s already out on the tarmac. I pause to allow Twilight and Pinkie to leave after her, then I turn to Shining. “Hey, ‘Captain’, are you worried any of these humans will report us?”
He nods slowly. “I think we should be okay. I mean, how much do you think this plane charter costs?”
“Probably more than you make in a year.” I glance back at the plane again. “Or two.”
Shining winces. “Well, I suppose that’s good. Companies that deal with rich clientele are generally very, very protective of their customers.”
Over the whine of the idling jet engines, I hear the Gulfstream's door open and the stairs unfold. “Right, let’s get going.”
Shining and I leave the limo and pay our thanks to the driver as he drops off our bags. He looks at us one last time before shaking his head and getting back in the limo. Meanwhile, a stewardess climbs down the the plane’s stairs and greets us in a surprisingly calm manner. “Hello, Ms. Rarity and her party. My name is Vicki and I will be your cabin attendant today. The jet is all fueled and ready for you, is your destination still Iowa City?”
I exchange glances with Shining and Twilight, all of us really confused at how well this stewardess is taking an encounter with talking, colorful ponies.
Rarity remains unphased. “Yes, thank you Vicki, our destination is Iowa City. Well, actually, hold on one moment.” She turns back to me. “Rainbow Dash, my dear, are there any other airports closer to your farm? You said your town was a few hours drive from Iowa City?”
I nod, thinking back to my hometown. “Well, yeah, there is the Muscatine Municipal Airport. That’s a pretty small, podunk airstrip though.”
Vicki smiles and nods. “I’ll inform the captains and they will find out if we can land there. You may enter the plane now if you wish, I’ll get your bags.”
The soft whine of the jet engines hums in the background as I sip a cocktail, watching Vicki make her way around the cabin with a train of hot food. We are about five hours into the flight, and apparently that made it time for dinner or something. In any case, this cabin attendant hasn’t skipped a beat, she even made us the all the vegetarian option without even asking. Clearly, flight attendant school taught her well. I smile to myself as I imagine how such a day in lecture could work ‘Remember, when you’re on a plane, if your customers are small horses, be sure to realize that they will all be herbivores, and change the dinner menu accordingly!’
I laugh at my thoughts and look up to see her bringing a tray of something towards me. Vicki was a touch apprehensive at the start of the flight, and understandably so. But now she is really is full of confidence and doesn’t seem at all scared to talk to us. She brings over a plate of food for me. “Hello, would you like a bruschetta and melted asiago pastry... um, Miss?” Vicki tilts her head slightly as she tries to guess my gender.
I grab a pastry with my hooves, giggling slightly from my alcohol buzz. “Yes. And yes, I am a Miss. The name is Rainbow Dash.”
Vicki smiles politely, “Of course, I should have known.”
I munch on the bread. “Mmhmm, the mane gives it away.” I watch as Vicki turns to head back to the kitchen area. I pause for a second, then finally decide to go for it. “Vicki! Wait one second.”
Shining, sitting on a luxurious sofa across from me with Rarity at his side, looks up at me as I motion with a hoof for the cabin attendant to come back. Vicki walks back, still smiling politely like she always does. “Yes, Rainbow Dash?”
I chuckle, then set my tasty pastry down. “Vicki, it’s really, really awesome that you’re treating us like normal customers. Honestly, super awesome job there--.”
“It is actually very refreshing.” Shining adds from behind her.
I continue, “But, um, elephant in the room here, the flight is almost over, how are you not at all shocked or curious by the fact that your plane is occupied by small, colorful, talking ponies?”
Vicki’s face flushes red and she purses her lips for a moment before nervously looking in both directions. Then she lowers her voice. “I have no idea what’s going on, but this is my first week on the job. I don’t know if this is some kind of test from the company, or...”
Twilight, sitting a ways to my side, answers for me. “Yeah, sure, maybe that’s it.” She nods at the human. “You’re doing great Vicki.”
I wait a moment for the human to head back to the kitchen before turning to Twilight. “Sorry for bringing up the question, but, come on, I had to ask.”
The mare nods. “I understand, I was quite curious myself. I almost thought she was medically blind or something.”
“As good a guess as any, I suppose.” I sigh with content and lean back into the cushions, patting my full belly with a hoof.
Shining nods before sipping at his champagne. “Now this is the best way to fly.”
I lazily wave a hoof in his general direction. “No, flying with your own wings, hopping around on fluffy clouds, and having total freedom of movement. That is the best way to fly.” I pause to take another bite of this delicious pastry. “But this, this is a very close second.”
“I’m just glad we all got out of the city in one piece, and we’re all on the way to meet the other ponies,” says Rarity. She looks surprisingly somber, and she taps the call button for the flight attendant.
“Hear hear, cheers for Rarity! Finding a way to bring friends together.” Shining and I raise our glasses to her, and Rarity just shrugs and smiles softly.
Our toast is interrupted by Vicki, coming to answer Rarity’s page. The unicorn looks up at the human as she approaches. “Vicki, how long until we land?”
“We got clearance to land at Muscatine’s airport, and we should have wheels touch down in fifteen minutes. There is a complimentary limo waiting for your party on the tarmac, and he has instructions to take you to whatever destination you have in the area.”
Rarity nods, “That’s most excellent Vicki, you have been fantastic. I’ll take the bill now, if you have it.”
The cabin steward heads to the back, and Shining gets up and stretches. “Landing in fifteen minutes? Well heck, I gotta pee first.” He glances at me. “Dashie, where are the bathrooms on this thing?”
I roll my eyes, only Pinkie can call me that name. “They’re in the back.” I wave a hoof towards them. “But Celestia knows how you’re going to manage to use an airplane lavatory as a stallion.”
Rarity chuckles. “Yeah, best of luck with that darling.”
Shining scoffs at us, then heads to the back. A moment later Vicki returns with a clipboard and thick stack of papers. “Mrs. Rarity, the bill.”
Rarity nods and magics the clipboard out of Vicki’s hands, eliciting a confused look from the human as she sees her papers and pens just float away from her. Rarity scans the bill. “And the final total is where?”
Vicki walks around behind the mare and points at the page. “This is the amount, included is a 5% gratuity. We accept any corporate lines of credit, offshore bank accounts, as well as American Express and--.”
At the back of the plane, Pinkie starts telling a joke to Twilight, and I hear Shining stop by them and roar with laughter. I try to ignore them and continue to eavesdrop on Rarity paying the bill. Her credit cards were all cancelled, how on Earth could she possibly afford to...
My pupils go wide as I see her pull something out of her bag, then she takes the pen in her magic, signs, and hands the payment over to Vicki. My mouth drops open. “Rarity...”
The unicorn glances up at me as Vicki says her thanks and makes her way to the back of the jet to prepare for landing. Rarity lets out a soft sigh and puts her things away. “Don’t look at me like that Dash.”
“You paid for it all.”
She breaks eye contact and turns to looks out the window. “It was nothing. Dash, my parents are rich, right?”
I tilt my head and lean closer to her. “Rarity, you signed a personal check. That wasn’t your parent’s money. It was yours.”
She bites her tongue and stares straight ahead. The silence is interrupted by the ‘fasten seatbelt’ tone as the plane begins its final approach into Muscatine. A few seconds pass and Rarity nods slowly. “Twenty five years. Twenty of them spent working. Lemonade stands, mowing the grass, shoveling snow, cleaning tables in restaurants, spending countless weekends working a cash register, and then graduating college and working full time in the graphic arts.” She swallows a lump in her throat. “I had some money saved up Dash.”
My heart drops. “Rarity... your life savings.”
She glances at me, her eyes wet, but a smile on her face. “I’m glad I could use it for something as important as this.” Her smile grows a little wider. “Six best friends, being reunited after twenty five years. I think that’s worth the price, right?”
I feel my facial expression match hers as I nod. “It’s priceless Rarity.”