It was a warm summer day in Ponyville. The sun shined brightly as ponies went about their daily business.
Well, most ponies.
One particular pony -- a sky blue unicorn with rainbow colored mane -- laid sprawled out on her back in the dirt, tongue lolling out of the side of her mouth. She could see the buzzards overhead, circling over her slowly as they waited for her to finally succumb to heatstroke. Soon, it would all be over.
"You sure she's okay?" Applejack asked, staring down at the prone Rainbow Burst in front of her.
"She'll be fine," Spike answered. "Like I said, she just pushed herself a little too hard. She needs to cool off and take it easy for few hours, and she'll be back to normal."
"Dad?" Rainbow called out, raising a hoof toward the sky. "Is that you?"
Applejack moved closer and extended one of her wings, giving Rainbow Burst some shade. She then turned her attention back to Spike, raising an eyebrow.
"You mean to tell me that she's done this before?"
"Yeah," Spike answered, rolling his eyes. "At least once a week when she was training with the guards. That mare does not like to admit when she's having a hard time."
"The light is so pretty."
"Okay," Spike stated. "That's different. Maybe she is a little worse than I thought."
"Blast it," Applejack growled out, looking around. "Where in tarnation is Twilight with that cloud?"
"I'm here!" a voice called out. Applejack and Spike looked up, spotting the purple pegasus flying toward them. A large, fluffy white cloud was held in her front hooves, pushed along as she came closer.
"Sorry it took so long," Twilight Comet said as she stopped with the cloud. "The skies are still pretty clear. Had to go nearly all the way across town to find one. Ready?"
With a nod, Applejack pulled her wing away from Rainbow Burst. She and Spike then moved back, making sure to be out from under the cloud. Once the two were clear, Twilight moved above the cloud and started jumping up and down on it. Thick drops of cold water fell from the with each impact, most of them landing on the sprawled out unicorn underneath. After half a minute, the rain finally stopped.
Rainbow spat out a stream of water and rolled over. Once back on her hooves, she shook herself, drying off herself but getting the nearby pony and dragon soaked in the process.
"You alright, sugar cube?" Applejack asked as she took her hat off. After thoroughly wringing it out, she put it back on her head.
"Of course I am," Rainbow answered with a grin. She rubbed one hoof against her chest. "Come on Aj, it's going to take more than a little heat exhaustion to stop me."
"Told you," Spike said to Applejack, elbowing her slightly with a grin.
Before he could say more, a familiar feeling started to develop in his stomach. It quickly made its way up through his chest and into his mouth. With a massive belch, a gout of green flame shot from the young dragon and into the air. A yelp escaped Twilight as she leaped off the cloud just before it was struck.
There was a pop as the flame vanished and a scroll appeared in the air. Reaching out, Spike managed to catch it out of mid-air. With practiced ease, he cut through the royal seal using a claw and unfurled the scroll. After clearing his throat he began to read it aloud.
"'My Dear Rainbow Burst,'" he read, "'you are cordially invited to one of the largest and most prestigious celebratory events in Canterlot.'"
"Oh no," Rainbow groaned out. She flopped backwards, landing in the mud that had been made from the rain. "Spike, please don't tell me that it's--"
"'The Grand Galloping Gala,'" Spike continued. He looked up. "Yep. Looks like it."
Rainbow tossed her head back, rolling her eyes as she let out a growling huff.
"I don't get it," Twilight said as she landed nearby. "Why would you hate to go to the Gala? I would love to go."
"Me too," Applejack agreed. "Seems like it would be a great thing to get invited."
"That's because you guys haven't gone," Rainbow replied. "The Gala and other 'prestigious' parties like it are nothing like the parties here that Pinkie Pie throws. They're boring. It's just a bunch of rich and snobby upper class ponies standing around talking about what they've done with their money. Most of them are there to suck up to Princess Celestia, or to meet her so they can brag to their friends or claim they are 'close, personal friends' with her." She gave a shake of her head. "And the music. After hearing it for just five minutes, I want to fall asleep. After the last one, I swore that nothing would ever get me to go to one again."
"C'mon, Rainbow," Applejack said, moving closer. "It can't be that bad."
"Don't you get to meet famous ponies?" Twilight asked. "Like The Wonderbolts."
"Before this goes much further," Spike interrupted, "there's more to the letter. Can I finish?"
"Fine," Rainbow huffed out.
"'I know you are not fond of formal events,'" Spike continued -- getting a snort from Rainbow Burst in response -- "'but I would greatly appreciate it if you would attend.' Well I guess you're going after all."
"Just finish the letter."
"Fine. 'It would be nice to see you again. Included are two tickets.'" He pulled the tickets out and held them up. "'Please do not hesitate to let me know if you should require anything. Sincerely, your teacher, Princess Celestia.'" He started to roll the scroll back up. "And that's it."
"Great," Rainbow said, still laying there.
"So... are you going?" Applejack asked.
"I guess so." Rainbow moved to sit up, slouching with her ears pulled back. "I mean I still hate the idea, but Princess Celestia did say she wants me to. Hopefully I actually will get to see her."
"You know," Twilight said, "it would probably be a lot more fun if you had a friend with you."
"Hey!" snapped Applejack, turning to face Twilight Comet fully. "I was going to suggest that."
That got Rainbow Burst's attention. Tilting her head, she looked at the two pegasi and raised an eyebrow.
"Wait a second. You mean to tell me that you both want to go?"
"Seems that way," Twilight responded, looking at Applejack from the corner of her eyes.
"Why?" Rainbow asked.
"Well in my case," Applejack jumped in, "it would be a chance to make some sales. All them rich ponies walking around and waiting to get in, probably getting hungry. I bet they would just love to buy some of our apple products. I bet I could make as much there in one night as we normally do in a month. Do you have any idea how much I could to fix up the place?" Her wings began to flap and flutter excitedly. "Why, we could fix up the barn, replace the old plow, maybe even get enough to fix Granny's old hip!"
"Uh..." Rainbow said as she shifted, "you do realize that they have a buffet inside the ballroom, right?"
"I know," Applejack replied, "but there are plenty of ponies waiting outside. They probably get a might hungry after waiting for hours to get in. Could use a snack or beverage while they do."
"I guess that makes sense." Rainbow then turned to Twilight. "What about you?"
"Well if I got to go," Twilight explained, "I would get to see my brother. It's been a long time since we've seen each other face to face. Plus I would get to meet The Wonderbolts." She started to grin. "The best flyers in all of Equestria. Do you know much advice they could give me? The tips they have? I bet with their help, I could even do a Twilight Starburst."
"A what now?" Rainbow asked.
"It's this idea Twi had since flight school," Applejack answered. "You ever hear the story of that Sonic Rainboom?" Rainbow Burst nodded. "Well, Twilight thinks that she can do something like that."
"Well it can't be a Sonic Rainboom," Twilight replied. "You have to be a rainbow pegasus for that. But I leave a starry contrail behind me when I fly. I bet that if I could make it, it would create an effect when I reach the right velocity."
"I bet you can do it," Spike spoke up, "and it will look amazing."
"Thank you," Twilight said, smiling.
With a sigh, Rainbow Burst got back up and stretched out. Her horn lit up with magic as she used her power to wipe the mud from her coat.
"Well as fun as this is," she stated, "I am hungry and exhausted. So if you two will excuse us, we're going to get some grub and then head home." She let out a yawn. "A nap sounds really good right now. Come on, Spike. Catch you two later." She then started walking toward through the orchard, Spike following after her.
"Alright," Applejack called out.
"See you later," Twilight added.
The two pegasi shifted to look at each other.
"Well," Twilight said first, "I should probably get to work. There's supposed to be rain later, and the sky is not as cloudy as it should be by now."
"Yeah," Applejack agreed. "I need to get going too. Have some deliveries to make and such."
The two looked at each other a moment longer before going their separate ways. Twilight took off, heading toward town, while Applejack started toward the barn.