The sun rose. For a split second it thought it had risen late that day for the sky was already occupied by a certain somepony who, by some grand schedule of the universe, shouldn’t be awake for another five hours at the very least. Intent on not being outdone by the laziest pony in Equestria, the sun picked up its pace. But not even a giant flaming ball of gas burning in the void could hope to outspeed or, indeed, outshow a sonic rainboom.
Rainbow Dash doubled and tripled her speed, leaving a brilliant rainbow contrail as she zoomed towards their agreed meeting spot. Despite being the fastest pony in Equestria, punctuality had never been her thing. And that morning was no exception. No, that morning she was gonna be early, early enough to spring a surprise ambush on the unsuspecting human. She had even set her alarm clock for once. Her plan was foal-proof.
She slowed down as she inspected her landing spot at the town gate. She bit back a curse as she noticed a telltale black and purple dot waiting patiently by the gate. ‘He’s a whole half hour early?! What kind of loser wakes up that early?!’ She thought heatedly as she swooped down in a silent glide. Deciding some surprise was better than none, she swooped in for the kill, intent on ploughing the snow with his face.
“Gotch-...oof!” She squeaked as his form crumpled like paper mache under her flying tackle, sending her rolling and tumbling in a tangle of trouser legs, shirt sleeves and broken twigs. “H-holy sunbutt! I annihilated him!” She cried in horror as she emerged from the knotted pile of clothes she had ploughed into the ground. “Hay, loser, if you’re gonna lose, you gotta lose properly. Don’t just go and...and do the sissy thing and, y’know, blow up like that!” She cried at the
Element of Modesty underpants beneath her. Oh no, is this how humans die? They just...just get vapourized?! “Hay, s-speak to me! Hay!” She pleaded, wringing the underpants back and forth in the hopes that it might somehow come back to life.
“Oooooooo...Raaaaaainbow Daaaaaaaash.” She heard a voice wail hauntingly in the wind.
“W-wha…?!” Rainbow looked about wildly in fear. “Wh-where are you?!”
“I have ascended into a hiiiiiigher foooorm. Thaaaaank you, for releasing me from my mortal fleeeesh.” The voice howled.
“W-wait! I-I….I really whacked you?!” Rainbow cried in disbelief. Thoughts whirled around her head like a tornado day gone mad. How was she gonna tell Twi she killed her human?! “N-no! W-why d-do you have to be so weak, you weakling?!” Rainbow cried out against the injustice of mortality. “Wh-what...wh-what do I do?” She bowed her head in defeat.
“Taaaaake my undeeeeeerpants and enshrine them for all to sssssee. Let all of ponykind be inspired by the contours of my crooooootch for generations to coooooome. Pun intende-...”
“Like hay I will!” Rainbow catapulted the underpants into a nearby bush. There was a loud slap, to which the bush replied with an empathetic ‘Ow’.
“You just assaulted a naked man in a bush with his own underpants. I hope you’re proud of yourself.” The tall form of Marshal emerged in all his birthday suit glory from the bush. “About time you arrived. Do you know how long I waited in the nudie?”
“So you are alive!” Rainbow barked angrily. “Once I get free, I’m going to correct that!” She declared, fighting to free herself from the tangled clothes still knotted about her wings and rear legs.
“Hey, don’t sound so disappointed at me being ali-...” Marshal dive-rolled out of the way of a shirt-bound Rainbow and her desperate leap attack.
“Aww, c’mon!” Rainbow whined as she struggled to free her wings from the tangled shirt, “How the hay am I supposed to hit you if you move?!”
“Hah, joke’s on you. I have my underpants of +20 evasion equipped.” Marshal pulled out of his roll with his underpants magically equipped. He demonstrated his superior pants-powered evasion technique by rolling out of the way of another flying tackle. “Forget ever hitting me. You can’t even hit puberty,” he taunted.
"How do you keep dodging me?!" Rainbow demanded in between trying to bite the shirt off her wings.
"Time slows down in a circle around me." He explained, casually. "I exist a single step outside of time, you see. It was a side-effect of Twilight screwing her time travelling when she sent me to your timeline from one thousand years into the future. I was sent here to protect you and your foal, the one destined to one day lead the Equestrian resistance against the evil time wizard, Starswirl the Bearded and his chrono-legionnaires.”
“Whoah, really?” Rainbow gaped. “But wait, I don’t have a foal.” She pointed out the glaring threat to Equestria’s future survival.
“Not yet?” He frowned. “I must have arrived earlier than I thought. Oh well, nothing we can’t fix.” He grinned, his claw things making creepy grabby motions. “For Equestria!”
“W-wait, y-you’re screwing w-with me again, right?” Rainbow’s efforts to free herself from the shirt grew twice as desperate. “C-can’t I adopt or something? H-hay!” She squeaked as he stepped closer and closer.
“Nope, not screwing with you.” His grin only grew wider as he reached down towards her. Her ears drooped in horror. “At least not until you finally hit puberty.” He laughed, pulling his shirt and trousers free from her tangled form.
“H-hay!” Rainbow cried, “I’ve totally hit puberty! In fact, I hit pubes for breakfast! And I’m gonna have yours for dessert!” She ambush-tackled him midway through putting his trousers on, sending them both into yet another rolling brawl.
The sun could only silently roll its eyes as it finally caught up. It decided to put five bits on Rainbow. The moon put twenty on Marshal’s pubes.
Rainbow did not enjoy the walk through town in the slightest. It wasn’t all the Hearthswarming decorations that had gone up on display since the last time she showed her face in town. Neither was it the sight of all the snow and frost that had to have been hoofmade for the first time in decades, or even the ponies trotting by with their pets. No, it was all the dirty looks and unsavoury whispers she attracted from ponies she passed by. Most of them were, unsurprisingly, her fellow weather pegasi, who had no doubt had to craft winter from scratch instead of buy it all ready-made from the factory. She had had a feeling she’d tick off one or two, maybe three ponies. She didn’t realize the whole town would be upset. Midway down Mane Street she decided it was better to just keep her ears flat, her eyes cast down on Marshal’s boots in front of her.
To her relief, Marshal took a sudden turn off Mane Street, leading her away from the unfriendly eyes, instead taking a weirdly winding route through the thankfully deserted back streets. The reprieve gave her enough time to shake off the nagging feeling that the dark, judging looks were still following her. Their destination for the day was, at least, positively deserted. It was an old storage barn on the far edge of town, just before the sparse clumps thatch cottages gave way to open snowfields. It was a blushing bright red with spotlessly whitewashed doors and posts, looking the very picture of an idyllic snow-crusted country barn. Which meant it was one of those awkward barns that saw very little practical use outside of being raised as a yearly family team-building effort. You can hardly sing about raising a barn without actually raising one after all.
At the very least this one had found some use in housing the town's community projects. Or at least keep the more embarrassing failures out of the public eye. Such as the one under the a large gray canvas sheet the two found inside. "Tadah!" Marshal whipped the dust cover off with a dramatic flourish.
"What...is that?" Rainbow frowned at the anti-climatic sight before her. "Another crime scene?"
"It says here that it's a sleigh." Marshal said, addressing his clipboard. Though one could almost hear his inner copper accusing the clipboard of not only murdering but also zombifying the truth.
"Something's been slain here alright. I'm not sure what it was but it died painfully." Rainbow muttered, eyeing the thing that could have been a sleigh in a past life or two.
Marshal tapped his pencil on the clipboard. "It's meant to be pulled by a team of pegasi to fly in the presents for the Hearthswarming festival this year."
"Looks like somepony wanted those presents really badly last year." Rainbow said, trotting around the scene of carnage in the middle of the barn. "Dragons and hydras, by the looks of it." She gave it a sniff. "And timberwolves too." She recoiled at the smell. "The only way you're gonna get this to fly is to launch it with one of'em catapult things. Probably how it used to travel before." She waved a forehoof at the twisted wreckage before them.
"You see a problem. I see a challenge." Marshal tossed his clipboard over one shoulder before pulling up his sleeves.
"What? I don't think finishing what the dragon and hydra started is that much of a challenge." Rainbow pointed out. "Oh, right, this is supposed to be punishment. Of course we're fixing it." She sighed at the sight of the toolboxes and buckets of paint.
"Hey, I know what's totally gonna you chompin' at your bit." He grinned, looking through his flashcards. "Guess which team of pegasi will be pulling the sled on Hearthswarming?"
"I dunno, the mailmares? I mean, it does kinda looks like they did the pulling last year." Rainbow shrugged. "Oh Celestia," Horror dawned on Rainbow's face, "No! Please, anything but the mailmares!"
"Nope, the Wonderbolts." He smirked.
"Oooooooooo..." Rainbow trembled like a sleeping volcano smelling coffee. "...ooOOOMIGOSH! OMIGOSH! OMIGOSH!" She zipped up into the air, eyeing the sleigh critically. "No, no no, this won't do! But if we...and we take that...and yes, yes, no, yes!" She flitted about the remains of the sleigh like a hummingbird that wasn't so much humming as she was fangasming. "But yes, no, yes, yes, but no, but yes! YES! YEEEES!"
"Did you just have an orgasm?" Marshal raised an eyebrow. “Wow. Gotta take notes. Mares like pulling sleighs.”
"No time to lose!" Rainbow threw the doors to the barn wide open, letting the fierce light of dawn flood their workspace. "This sleigh needs to be 360 degrees cooler by Hearthswarming!" She declared.
"You realize that means we'd be right back where we started, right?" Marshal pointed out. But Rainbow had long since reached a speed that his voice would never be able to catch up with. "Fine. For today's challenge, we'll split the sleigh in two. Whoever finishes their repairs first wins."
"Heh. Ready? One...two!" Rainbow called back, not dropping an iota of speed.
Marshal could only roll his eyes with a chuckle as he got to work.
The morning flew by in a flurry of activity. While by midday the sleigh still looked like it had been burned by a dragon and chewed on by a timberwolf, at the very least it no longer looked like it had been sat on by a hydra. That was when Rainbow finally decided to put into motion the plan she had been practicing to perfection all night long. Winning was not enough, after all. Rainbow winning Dash must completely, utterly dominate. And to achieve that she must exploit his weaknesses to the fullest to establish just how awesome she truly is!
carefully accidentally tossed her paintbrush underneath the sleigh. It slid right across to the other side where Marshal was busy sanding a board with his back turned to her. Just as planned! She carefully wriggled her way under the sleigh, crawling on her belly, before poking her head out the other side. "Uh, hay, Marshal? Could ya pass me that?" She called out.
"Huh?" Marshall looked around at paint brush on the ground. "How the heck did you manage that? Were you trying to do another chalk outline?" He frowned, picking up the brush. He froze as his eyes landed on the little pony poking out beneath the sleigh. No amount of practice prepared her for his intense stare. She barely remembered to twitch her ears exaggeratedly as Pinkie had demonstrated. The rest of her could only pony-squee sheepishly.
"Rainbow Dash." He cleared his throat as he knelt in front of her. The pained look on his face surprised her; You'd think Discord, Nightmare Moon, Chrysalis, Sombra and Tirek had ganged up to tear Equestria a new one. Either that or his boxers had shrunk in the wash. "The fate of the world, no, the entire universe depends on you." He said, grimly.
"I-it does?" Rainbow was thrown a little off-balance. Just a little.
"There's no time to explain, Rainbow." He said. "Quick! You must let me scratch your ears!" The urgency in his voice left no room for hesitation, casually shooed logic out the door and informed sanity that there were no vacancies.
"O-okay!" Rainbow said before she could stop herself.
One of those claw things of his slowly reached out towards her. Rainbow flinched at its approach. Suddenly this plan didn't seem like such a good idea. She closed her eyes tightly as she braced herself for the sake of the universe.
Something large but warm lightly caressed her mane. She was surprised at how soft and gentle it was despite its size. It was almost comforting. She felt his claws curl to firmly dig into the soft fur right behind her ears. Her heart leapt at the sudden shiver rippling from her mane down to the tips of her hoofsies. 'Waaaaaah, it actually is comforting!' She felt her ears twitch to attention, almost pressing themselves against his touch. 'Yes!' Rainbow gave a mental hoof-pump of victory. 'This really is his weakness! 'Cause I can feel myself draining all his awesome! Hmmm!'
She felt his hand run through her mane, down the crop that grew down the nape of her neck, before tracing slow circles across her neckline and withers. 'Oh, are necks his weakness too?' Rainbow chuckled inwardly. 'Heh, he's practically throwing his weaknesses at me. This is gonna be a snaaaaaap!' She couldn't help but stretch her neck into his touch, flopping her entire body to one side. She purred in delight, revelling in her complete power over his weakness. 'Too easy! Ooooh yeaaaaaaaah!' She cooed inwardly at how effortlessly she was winning
She felt her breath catch as his hand finally left her. She gave a mewl of protest as her eyes fluttered open, seeking out why the awesome suddenly ran dry. "Phew." She heard him breathe a sigh of relief. "And the world is saved. Thanks to you, Rainbow Dash." He smiled the contented smile of the battle weary warrior ready to die happy after completing his duty to the world.
'Good for them! But what about me?!' Rainbow thought, hotly. "Uh, are you sure? Like, shouldn't you make doubly sure the world is properly saved? Triply even?"
"Hmm." He seemed to deeply contemplate her suggestion. "Yeah, this is the fate of the world we're talking about. Let's not leave any room for doubt." He agreed.
'Too easy. Now I'm totally gonna win this, hooves down!' Rainbow chuckled triumphantly to herself. 'Mmmm...maybe in another ten minutes. Oooooh yeaaaaah....maybe twenty.'
“Wow, Rarity, it looks about ready to eat a hydra or something.” Cheerilee gushed as she trotted around the sleigh, admiring it from every angle. “The PTA and the children will love it!”
Rarity gulped as she eyed the beast. It was obviously not moving, and yet the tight angled curves, glittering spark decals and fiery red finish made it look like a blazing meteor rushing towards a date with the dinosaur apocalypse. “Well, if a diet of hydras is what it takes to get the children to love it, so be it.” She smiled a watery little smile.
“I’m still sorry I got you to do this so very last minute, Rarity. Though I honestly didn’t expect you to finish it so early. Or do such a smashing job on it.” Cheerilee said in awe. “What’s your secret?”
“Oh, I only got the fastest pony in Equestria to do it for me.” Rarity chuckled, waving a forehoof towards a pile of hay in a corner of the barn. “As well as our gentlecolt of a Marshal, of course.” Cheerilee followed her gaze to find two figures sprawled out atop the pile of hay, snoring in perfect synchrony.
“Oh, Rainbow and the human helped?” Cheerilee’s smile turned into a little frown. “I didn’t expect…”
“Of course you didn’t.” Rarity interrupted before Cheerilee could complete the thought. “These two are always out to surprise us. Why, I was at loss at how to get the sleigh done in time when these two so very generously offered to help. But when you think about it, I guess they are the Element of Loyalty and our town’s Marshal of the Guard.” Rarity trailed off into a little giggle. “Oh, imagine the excitement when the foals hear the alien and the Element of Harmony built their Hearthswarming sleigh. And just wait until the PTA hear just who the head teacher persuaded to do her hoofwork.” She gave said head teacher a conspiratorial wink.
A little smile quickly grew into a sly grin on Cheerilee’s face as she quickly realized the benefits of being friends with a national hero and the alien giant. “Heehee, I can almost imagine the looks on Spoiled Rich and Filthy Rich’s faces,” she broke into a little giggle. “In fact, why wait for the PTA? It’s cocktail night at Berry’s bar and I think these two have earned themselves a little reward.”
“I’m sure they’d be delighted, darling. I’ll let them know when they wake up.” Rarity smiled the smile of a fishermare reeling in her catch.
“Nine at Berry’s it is then. See you later, Rarity!” Cheerilee gave the fashionista a parting wave before slipping out of the barn.
“One down.” Rarity allowed herself a satisfied nod, giving the giant atop the haystack a little wink. The giant paused his snoring to reply with a thumbs-up.