Another week had passed by.
Sitting on a cloud like the pony she was with her lower hooves in, Dash, as her normal blue self, was looking onward to the distance ahead of her. The cloud she was on was floating above Ponyville, with the usual town sounds and various chatter going on below her.
She stared into the distance with a semi-puzzled expression on her face, wondering what was going on.
“What is this…? What am I feeling right now?” she wondered aloud, putting her hoof to her chest. “It feels like something is off-balance, and it’s coming from somewhere over there?”
Indeed, the pegasus felt like something was going to fall from its balance, like one side of a see-saw ride slowly descending towards the ground. Along with this, it also felt like this imbalance was being caused by something in the great distance ahead of her, past the hills and mountains. But where exactly? She wondered.
“Hm, weird… Just why am I feeling this right now?” she said, looking down.
Hearing Twilight’s voice from below, Dash leaned over to the side of the cloud and looked. She saw not only the princess herself, but also the rest of their friends, standing in the middle of an open street of the town.
“Yeah? What’s up, guys?”
“We have to get to Canterlot! Princess Celestia wants to see us immediately!” exclaimed Twilight.
Quickly standing and unfolding her wings, Dash jumped off the cloud, descending and stopping above the group with her wings flapping.
“Did she say why?”
“No, only that it’s urgent,” replied the alicorn. She then began to run off. “Come on! The sooner we get there, the sooner we know.”
With Twilight running off, the group followed her with haste, with Dash flying along.
“…So, if I’m gettin’ this right, we got a bad guy out there stealing magic from ponies and using them to make himself stronger?”
“I’m afraid that’s correct. And with each passing moment, he grows stronger still.”
The group of friends was now standing around a small, turquoise-colored roundtable that was situated in a large room in Canterlot’s castle, standing there with Princess Celestia at the north end of the table and looking at an open book in the center of it. A set of large, closed double doors were seen several feet behind the sun princess herself, with another large open doorway ahead of her that led to an outdoor balcony.
The group had just learned of the escaped centaur Tirek, how he came to Equestria with his brother Scorpan, and how the latter had betrayed him, letting the princesses banish him to Tartarus.
“How did Tirek escape from Tartarus, exactly?” asked Twilight, standing next to Celestia’s right and looking at the book. “Wasn’t there supposed to be a guard dog named Cerberus that was supposed to be keeping an eye on things?”
“As far as we know, Cerberus has not left his post there,” replied Celestia. “Tirek must have escaped without alerting him, somehow.”
“So if he’s out there to steal magic from everypony,” said Applejack. “Then…”
“It’s up to us to stop him,” said Twilight. She then smiled and looked over to Dash, who stood at the south end of the table. “Or rather…”
“It’s up to me to stop him. Right,” Dash nodded, with a semi-firm expression as she looked at the book. She then looked at Twilight. “…Wait, you’re deciding to leave this to me instead of using the Beam of Harmony?”
“Well…” The purple alicorn looked at the book again. “If this Tirek really is stealing magic from everypony for himself, then…”
“It is wiser to leave this up to you, Flame of Harmony,” said Celestia.
“Yeah. So that way, none of us will have to be caught by him if somethin’ goes haywire,” said Applejack, smiling at Dash. “I mean, as your Super self, you’re faster than anyone in Equestria. Faster than your normal self, even. Tirek will have a hard time tryin’ to catch you at that crazy speed.”
“Yeah, and extreeeeeeeeeeeeemely strong, too!” exclaimed Pinkie. “You’ll show him who’s boss in no time!”
The blue pegasus chuckled. “Yeah, okay, good points there. So then, how will I be able to find this guy before he steals all of our magic? Before he comes here, even?”
“I have my scouts searching for him in Equestria as we speak,” said the sun princess. Her eyes then turned downward, looking reluctant. “But I fear that I may have sent them straight towards him, and it may have been fruitless sending them on the search… Hm, if only… If we only had someone who could sense when there’s a magical imbalance, so that when the next time he steals magic, then we could track him down.”
“Magic sense? Oh, right, I forget that unicorns can do that,” said Applejack.
“Yes, but only within a limited radius. For some of us at least,” said Twilight. “And even then, our radius is very short.”
“…Magical imbalance…?” Dash wondered aloud. “…Wait a minute…!”
“Huh? What’s up, Rainbow?” asked Twilight.
“So that’s why I was feeling like something was off-balance earlier? That something was going to fall over? Because of Tirek?”
“…What? You can sense that there’s something wrong?”
“I guess so…!” Dash shrugged. “This weird feeling inside of me only started a few minutes before you came to get me, Twilight. Not only that, but I could also feel where this imbalance was coming from. And I still feel it even now, but… it seems like it’s pointing in a different direction now. Like…”
The pegasus turned around, looking at the balcony doorway.
“…south of here.”
“What? Where exactly south?” asked Celestia, looking a bit surprised.
“I… I don’t know. Just that it’s coming from this direction.”
Hearing her, Twilight and Celestia briefly looked at each other, then at Dash again.
“It must be your Harmonic energy that’s making you sense this!” exclaimed Twilight. “Transform, Rainbow. And try to focus where exactly it’s coming from!”
Hearing her, Dash formed a firm look on her face and nodded.
But before she could tap into her energy…
“I. Do not. Think so…”
“Huh? What…?” Dash looked around, hearing a mysterious, reptilian-sounding voice from out of nowhere.
“…Um, is it just me, or did anypony else hear a creepy-sounding voice just now?” asked Applejack, looking around with the rest of them.
“Was that Tirek?!” wondered Pinkie aloud.
A few feet ahead of Dash, something slowly began to rise up from the ground as they soon saw. Coming into full view and stopping a few feet in the air above, it was the mysterious beige-green sphere that had freed Tirek from his prison earlier.
“…Me? Tirek?” the sphere said. “No, I am not him. Rather, I am merely a friend of his… With such an association, you could see me as your enemy, yes.”
Seeing the sphere, Dash quickly stepped back, gritting her teeth at it.
“A friend, eh? Who are you? And are you the one who helped him escape?” she asked.
“Hm, such irrelevant questions. I will not bother answering them. What is relevant, however, is you there. The one called Rainbow Dash… So… you are the Flame of Harmony, I see. A legendary long-lost being with immense power. The power to restore peace to the world, correct?”
“Yeah, you’re looking at her, alright. Even though she’s not transformed yet, but is about to.”
“I know what your form looks like, thanks to the event of you defeating the Spirit of Chaos. And with that, hm… you’re just like him, I see. Down to the same fur and eye color.”
“Huh? Just like him? Who?”
“Someone who I have been keeping my eye on for many years now, ever since I destroyed his home… But as to the nature of his identity, well, that is irrelevant… Well, then, I see that you’re about to search for Tirek. Confront him and stop him while he is still growing in power. Do you not think that is a little unfair?”
“Sure, it is… to you bad guys, that is,” said Dash. She then lowered her head close to the ground, giving off a bull-like appearance from her. “Now move aside, whoever you are, and let me find him.”
“…As much as you want me to, unfortunately, I cannot.”
The floating, swirling sphere began to glow bright beige-green. Upon seeing this, Dash quickly tapped into her energy, causing her mane and tail to shoot upward.
“For I will not have the opportunity to see what you are truly capable of,” the sphere said.
“What? What do you--- aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh!!!”
Without warning, the glowing sphere suddenly shot out large, multiple bolts of green electricity at Dash, electrocuting her on contact and causing her to scream towards the ceiling with great pain coursing through her shaking body. After three seconds, the bolts stopped, and the pegasus fell over to the side with her eyes closed, seemingly looking unconscious.
“Rainbow!” yelped Twilight, running off to her.
The group and the sun princess swiftly ran over to her and stopped.
“Oh my word! Rainbow, are you alright, dear?!” Rarity called.
“…No, no, no, no, no…!” Twilight exclaimed, looking frantic and worried. “This can’t be…”
“…She’s not… Is she?!” asked Applejack, with a shockingly worried look on her face.
“…If you believe she is dead, she is not. I have merely made her unconscious,” said the now-dimmed sphere. “She will wake in time... and then the test will truly begin.”
The sphere began to float back a few feet, then it stopped there.
“Until then, here is a warning. Do not interfere with Tirek while he is still at insufficient power. Or else I will force you to meet your early end. Let him grow. Let him reach his desired state. Only then will you be allowed to go against him. Even then, I doubt any of you other than Rainbow herself will be able to defeat him… Farewell for now.”
With that last warning, the sphere then descended into the ground, going into it and disappearing afterward.
“…A test? To see what she’s truly capable of?” wondered Twilight aloud, looking at the unconscious Dash. “What did he mean by that?”
“Whoever that guy was, it sounded like he wanted to pit her against Tirek when he’s absorbed all of our magic,” said Applejack.
“Oh dear, so much for catching the brute while he is still weak,” said Rarity, looking very worried. “What are we going to do until she’s awake? Are we… are we just going to let him absorb everypony’s magic?”
“…I’m afraid we have no choice but to let him for now,” said Celestia, with a worried frown. “Sending anypony against him at this point, again, will only lose their magic. And once Tirek has absorbed the magic of all the earth ponies, unicorns, and pegasi, it is likely that he’ll go after our own alicorn magic next, which will make him nearly unstoppable to us. Therefore… I must resort to this.”
“What? What are you going to do, Princess Celestia?” asked Twilight, looking at her mentor.
“I will call upon both Princess Cadence and Princess Luna to gather here. Before Tirek has the chance to steal it from us, we must rid ourselves of our magic.”
Hearing this, everypony gasped at once.
“Say what now?!” asked Applejack, surprised.
“Are you serious?!” asked Rarity.
“B-b-b-b-b-b-but isn’t that the same thing as giving Tirek your magic, which will lead to a world full of hopelessness and stuff?!” asked Pinkie, speaking quickly with her eyes wide open.
“You misunderstand. We cannot just erase it into thin air,” said the sun princess. “To do so would, yes, lead to the same result. Rather, we must keep it in the hooves of somepony else. And that somepony is you, Twilight.”
“…What? But why me?” the purple alicorn asked.
“Unless his new assistant tells him, I do not believe Tirek knows that there’s a fourth alicorn princess in Equestria,” replied the white alicorn, looking at her. “And even if he does eventually know and he arrives here, he will not find you and our magic here, regardless. For you shall be hiding away from him. You, and her.”
She looked down at the unconscious Dash.
“This is what I am asking of you, my faithful student. Until she wakes up and regains her strength, you, her, and the rest of you must be hiding away from Tirek. You must not allow him to reach our magic or her while she is still unconscious, or else Equestria will truly be lost to him.
“Do you understand this, Twilight?” she asked, looking at her.
“Yes... It’s just… I'm only now learning how to control my own alicorn magic,” replied Twilight, her eyes downcast and looking reluctant. “To take on even more…”
“We understand you loud and clear, Princess Celestia. We’ll hide both of them as best as we can,” said Applejack, with a confident smile. She looked at Twilight. “Twilight, before this whole ‘Flame of Harmony’ business started last month, you were the Element of Magic. Have you forgotten about that already? I mean, if there is anypony who can do this, it’s you.”
“I haven’t, Applejack. It’s just that taking on this task will be one of the most difficult things I’ll ever do… But, with the help of my friends here,” Twilight said, looking at each of her friends and smiling. “There’s no doubt I’ll get through this.”
Her friends nodded and smiled at her.
“We’re with you, Twilight,” said the orange pony.
“It’s settled, then,” nodded Celestia. “I will call upon them, and then, we can begin at once.”
Slowly coming out of the darkness she was seemingly briefly in, Dash slowly opened her eyes. Blinking them for a few seconds and with the blur in her sight going away, she began to see what appeared to be a wooden ceiling. Regaining the nerves and sensations of her body at a slow rate, she soon recognized that she was lying her back down on a soft, comforting bed, with a blanket on top of her.
“Oh, man… Talk about almost being shocked to death. Ugh… Where am I?”
She moved her head left and right, trying to see where she was.
Indeed, she was, noticing the book shelves and the wooden walls all around. She was upstairs in Twilight’s own bed, she noticed, noticing the open window to her left.
Dash soon sat up, letting the blanket off of her. She sighed, looking down and brushing her mane with her hoof.
“Whoever that… thing was, he’s gonna get it the next time we meet,” she said. She then looked over at the stairway to her right. “I wonder where everypony is? Hope they’re alright…”
Kicking off the blanket, the pegasus moved off the bed and over to the side, standing on all fours. She walked over to the stairway and began stepping down, groaning as she did with her body still waking up.
Walking down the corridor and exiting it, still on the stairway, the sight of the library’s main room soon came into view. What she saw here had suddenly shocked her, causing her to gasp.
Spread and scattered all over the room were four of her friends, lying on the ground in various positions and appearing to be weak and helpless. Their own cutie marks were missing, and their eyes appeared to be faded.
Seeing them, the blue pegasus swiftly ran down the stairs, going towards Applejack in the center and stopping in front of her.
“Oh… R-Rainbow Dash, you’re awake… finally,” said the orange pony, lying down on her side and looking up at the pegasus with a very tired expression.
“What happened to you guys?! Did Tirek do this to you?!” asked Dash, looking very worried. She then looked around. “And where’s Twilight? Was she here with you?”
“Eeyup... After that thing knocked you out, we were told by Princess Celestia to hide all of us away from Tirek, with Twilight keeping the princesses’ magic safe within her. Twilight decided to hide us here in the library so that he wouldn’t find any of us here. But apparently, Tirek knew we were hiding and he went after us anyway.”
“With you still unconscious,” said Rarity, lying on her front, near the front door. “We decided to distract him away from the library. Twilight didn’t want us to do that, but we had to, just to protect her and you.”
“We couldn’t keep up the distraction for long, though, and so he ended up absorbin’ our magic,” continued the orange pony. “When we barely got back here, well… Twilight decided to take matters into her own hooves and decided to fight Tirek head-on with the magic she’s got. If only to stall for time until you wake up, she said.”
“…I see,” Dash said, looking away with her eyes downcast.
“…Gosh… I feel so tired like this,” said Pinkie, lying on her back, near the bookshelf.
“I never realized how connected we were with our own magic,” said Fluttershy, also lying on her side, near the window. “I feel so… drained like this.”
“…Rainbow… You are now everypony’s last hope,” said Applejack. “Go out there and beat him…! Or else…”
“…Equestria will fall to him. I know,” Dash said, calmly.
Turning towards the open window, she formed a very determined look on her face as she unfolded her wings and lowered herself into a stance.
“I won’t let him do that.”
Dash jumped and took off, flying towards the window and exiting out of the library.
“Finally couldn’t take much more from me, huh? Well, I admit that you caused me quite the pain from your attacks there.”
The purple alicorn, Twilight, was lying there in the middle of an open grassy area that was semi-surrounded by mountains and small trees, lying on her side in the grass with her body looking bruised and battered. Ahead of her stood the smiling centaur Tirek, who had grown to a massive, hulking, muscular size, being the same height as the tower in Ponyville. His white beard, black hair, and top white hair had grown longer, with the white hair being slicked back. His skin color became red, and he grew a pair of massive grey horns from the sides of his head, sloping upward to their sharp tips.
Along with the surrounding rocky destruction around them that was full of landslides and craters, the sky above was a reddish-orange color.
Tirek chuckled. “Seems like the magic of every single earth pony, unicorn, and pegasus that I took from has served me well against you and the alicorn magic that you hold. What a futile attempt trying to stop me with it.”
With his eyes on Twilight, the centaur moved and aimed his right hand towards her. Glowing a yellow outline around him, a great ball of swirling orange and yellow energy appeared in-between his long horns as he tapped into his energy.
“Now, it’s time to get what I came for.”
With his hand aimed at her, the purple alicorn began to glow the same colored outline as him. He then lifted her up into the air and brought her close to his face, floating in a quadrupedal position.
She groaned in pain, with her left eye shut and her teeth gritted. “…ugh… You will never prevail, Tirek.”
“Oh, but I just did, didn’t I?” said Tirek. “This world of yours is already mine to rule. I just have to do this first before securing my rightful place as your supreme lord.”
Closing his eyes, Tirek slowly opened his mouth. The alicorn grunted as he did, feeling that her magic was swiftly being drained from her body. Her horn glowed, and soon, a mixture of white, blue, pink, and purple-colored, raw magic energy was seen exiting from her horn, going straight into the centaur’s mouth.
A second after he closed his mouth and ate the energy, Tirek quickly felt a great surge of energy within him, causing him to grit his teeth with wide open eyes as the energy rushed through his body. Feeling the impulse, he quickly threw Twilight away with the swing of his arm, sending her far away from him.
After flying helplessly in the air for several feet, she soon began to descend towards the ground. Just before she hit the ground, though…
From the alicorn’s right, Dash flew in and caught her with her hooves. Flapping her wings quickly, she slowed herself down and hovered just above the ground.
“I got you, Twilight. Are you… oh no.”
Seeing that the alicorn’s own cutie mark was missing as well as her eyes looking faded, Dash knew in an instant that she was already too late.
“…ugh… Rainbow,” groaned Twilight, looking at her with a very weak look and a wrinkle near her eye. “S-save… Equestria… Please…!”
Hearing Tirek scream from behind, Dash looked back.
Screaming to the sky with his fists clenched, the hulking giant centaur had suddenly grown to a very huge size, now literally towering over the land and causing Dash to look at him with wide open eyes. He continued to glow the yellow outline around him, with black-colored electricity crackling around his body.
Ceasing his scream, the now-humongous Tirek looked down at his own hands that he brought up, feeling his newly-obtained power as well as noticing how huge he had become.
He chuckled and grinned. “Incredible… I can’t believe how much power I have now.”
Lowering his hands, he gazed all over his surroundings, then he looked ahead.
“Little ponies of Equestria!” he shouted, his voice echoing all over the land. “I have now stolen all of the magic that was once yours! Powerless I have made you, you shall now bow down to the will of Lord Tirek! Bow down to your supreme ruler!!”
With a shocked look still on her face, seeing him, Dash then formed a cold look of determination.
“Go get him, Rainbow,” said Twilight.
“Yeah. But what about you, Twilight?” Dash asked, looking at her. “I can’t just leave you here while I fight him.”
“I… still got a tiny bit of energy left within me. It’s a risk, but I will use it to teleport myself back to the library.”
“You think you can make it back there?”
“Like I said, it’s a risk… But I have to try…!”
Tirek chuckled, looking down. “And what better way to reinforce this rule than to destroy everything that you have built!”
Lifting up his upper right hoof, the centaur then proceeded to slam it against the ground with great force. On impact, huge chunks of rock “splashed” out of the ground around the hoof itself, with some of them going high in the air above, and the entire area began to quake wildly. Everything shook to a hard degree, causing some of the mountains to crumble on themselves and causing huge cracks to form and spread all over the landscape.
One of these cracks went straight to the hovering Dash, making her notice it below.
“Yikes!” she exclaimed, surprised at it.
Twilight grunted with her eyes closed, trying to quickly concentrate and reach for the tiny bit of the energy left within her.
“If you’re gonna teleport out of here,” Dash said. “Do it now!”
The crack below them was swiftly spreading itself apart as the pegasus saw, growing wider with each passing second. She then looked back and up, seeing something in the air that was coming straight at her.
At that moment, Twilight’s horn finally began to glow, albeit faintly.
“Got it!” she exclaimed.
In the split-second after, the purple alicorn suddenly “popped” out of existence with a brief bright glow. As its shadow loomed over Dash, a large boulder thrice her size was swiftly nearing her.
Dash noticed that Twilight was now gone, but as she tried to turn around, the large boulder hit and knocked her straight into the wide opening crack below her. A minor explosion of dust had occurred, breaking both the boulder and several parts of the earth from the crack into several smaller pieces that went toward her. The pieces were building up on top of her and continued to pile up until the red-orange sky above became completely obscured from view.
The quakes everywhere had soon ceased. Having been knocked out by the boulder, Dash stayed there several feet underground, her body trapped and squeezed by the sudden cave-in.
Several seconds later, she twitched a bit, and then she suddenly awoke.
“…ah! Ugh… What? I can’t see anything in here!”
The pegasus saw nothing but complete darkness around her. As she then tried to move her body around, she noticed she was completely trapped by the tight rocks around her. She couldn’t move anything but her head, which had some space around.
“Agh…! Am I trapped underground or something? It feels like it! I must get out of here, then!”
Just then, she began to hear Tirek’s roaring voice again.
“Well, isn’t this glorious! Just one footstomp of mine has already crumbled your mountains and decimated your precious landscape… Alright, then, I’ll just keep doing this until nothing of yours is left standing! And only after your destruction will I remake this world in my own image!”
Destruction. Hearing that word, Dash recalled in an instant the moment when she was back in the Lane of Destiny and saw the vision of a ruined Equestria that was condemned to an eternal winter. Could that be the result of not doing anything and letting Tirek continue on? Could Tirek even be the darkness that she was warned about?
…Darkness or not, she thought, she simply couldn’t let it go like this. Not while she was simply still alive, and not while the fire of Harmony was still burning bright within her.
Looking down in this darkness, Dash tried once more to get herself out of this underground trap, trying to pull her upper hooves out of these “shackles.” But again, she couldn’t move anything at all.
Thus, she had no choice in the end but to brighten the fire inside.
Dash lowered her head, closed her eyes, and gritted her teeth.
“…Grrr… stop... destroying… everything… I won’t let you… I will not let you…! Grrrrrrr…!“
As she clenched her teeth more and more, as well as her face becoming more and more angry-looking, her body began to shake at a violent rate.
Then, opening her eyes widely, she screamed with her head going all over the place and then going upward:
“EEAAAGH! I WILL NOT LET YOU DESTROY EQUESTRIAAAAAA!!!!”
With that rageful scream and her eyes disappearing, an army of white particles had exploded out of her, turning her coat to white in an instant with her mane and tail turning into rainbow fire. At the instant of her transformation, she broke out of her trap, disintegrating the rocks into pieces. As she broke out and at the end of her scream, Dash immediately blasted herself upward with her furiously large aura trailing behind her, drilling herself into the earth above. With her rage, she started another scream as she continued to drill her way back up to the surface, going all over the place as she did. Her eyes were wide open and her now-visible, red-irised pupils were shrunk halfway as she continued to scream.
Back on the surface, Tirek began to hear her scream.
Seeing a burst of light coming from the ground ahead of him, the ground then began to burst itself upward. Among the exploding dirt was the angry white pegasus herself, having stopped her scream as she then soared to the sky. Stopping to the same height as Tirek’s neck, she turned around and faced him, floating there in a quadrupedal position with a frowning firm look on her face. Along with her particle aura, her wings were their large size, and her Loyalty necklace was on her.
“Twilight? …Wait, no… Your mark is different,” said Tirek, looking at Dash’s storm grey cutie mark. “And I’ve seen it before… You’re one of her friends, aren’t you? Not to mention… that you seem to have two different appearances…”
“So you’ve seen the stained glass stuff at Canterlot, huh?”
“Yeah, when I came to rob the princesses of their magic, only to find that they’ve cleverly hidden it away within a fourth alicorn princess. But that magic is mine now, as you can see… That mural of you in your current white form there, by the way. That was Discord at the top, was it not? I’ve always looked at him as a legend and as a potential partner, being one with Chaos itself.”
“Yeah, that was him. He was the trigger to me discovering my true destiny. My destiny to become the Flame of Harmony.”
“…’Flame of Harmony.’ Hm, that explains your form here.”
Dash took a “step” back in the air.
“Yeah, I’m friends with Twilight. My name is Rainbow Dash. But in my Flame of Harmony form, you can call me…”
Pulling her right hoof back, she went into a ready stance.
“Super Dash. Super Rainbow Dash.”