• Published 3rd Nov 2019
  • 1,042 Views, 24 Comments

Our Day in Disdain - Rainb0w Dashie



Rainbow Dash is forced to confront the ghosts of her past and the life she left behind. Lest the one she built for herself crumbles in her hooves.

  • ...
7
 24
 1,042

Chapter Two: A Poorly-fitted Mask

The ember-red leaves of autumn burnt slowly as Ponyville made it’s preparations for the coming winter. Apples swollen from the summer’s intermittent rains were chosen for Sweet Apple Acres’ cider season while the rest were left to dangle on the branches for a few more weeks before the final harvest.

The deadwood was cut away to stock the town’s hearths and the sheep were sheared so their wool could fasten the cloaks, scarves, and boots the citizens would wrap around themselves just like the season of fall had wrapped itself around their little town.

Most importantly of all, the townsfolk were preparing themselves for their yearly trip to The Grand Galloping Gala; the annual royal ball held in Canterlot on the eve of the autumnal equinox.

Buying perfumes and colognes imported from out of town, buying the best jewellery they could afford, and, most, if not all of the town would be buying their night’s attire entirely from the town’s dress maker, who was currently hoof deep into her latest project.

“The Grand Galloping Gala is less than a month away! Visit Rarity at Carousel Boutique for all of your Gala fashion needs!”

That was the first thing Sweetie Belle saw as she entered the town; wild postings with that statement all throughout Ponyville. They all wore that same phrase at the top in a fancy horn-caligraphy and were posted everywhere from Sugarcube Corner to the hoardings around the construction sites of soon-to-be houses. A pony couldn’t go a block without seeing one of Rarity’s signs at least a hundred times. and this was her plan.

The Grand Galloping Gala is the greatest social event in Equestria. More importantly, the gala is the greatest source of revenue for Rarity's boutique; and Sweetie Belle knew this. Since most of her sister’s usual orders came from out-of-town ritzy areas that Sweetie Belle had never been to, Rarity had to do a great deal of local advertising.

She’d be up for days, quill gripped in her magic, writing the headline on page after page “a personal touch just like the dresses themselves” she would say to sweetie belle who was often drafted into helping. Each poster was hoof crafted, just like each one of her dresses, and the only similarity between them, besides them paper they were printed on, was the ink stamped silhouette of carousel boutique on the center of each page.

It was a tiresome labor. But just like the first appearance of autumn's leaves told the citizens of Ponyville that summer was ending, Rarity's signs reminded them that the gala was close around the corner.

Sweetie belle made a face at the sign, remembering her sister talking about how hard she had tro work during the fall season, taking on fifteen to twenty orders a week, sometimes even ignoring her own health, just so Rarity could close the boutique for the winter and spend the season with her.

Sweetie Belle readjusted her saddlebag as she crossed the bridge into Ponyville Proper. One of the pouches hung heavy from the added weight of Rarity's coin-purse, knocking into her abdomen with every step she took. She had to adjust it several times already, unable to find a comfortable way to wear it. Either she'd tie the straps too tight, or it would lean too far to one side or the other. She attempted to change her gait to compensate, but she eventually just let the bag swing off of her right side.

"I deserve this," Sweetie belle sighed as the straps dug into her back. "Rarity's working herself to exhaustion just to spend time with me and I can't even do a simple favor for her without complaining."

She entered the town square feeling ashamed. Thinking about how disheveled Rarity looked back at the boutique. The guilt hung just as heavy as the bag on her back, and she decided to use at least some of the money her sister had given her to buy a gift in appreciation for all of her hard work, but mostly to serve as an apology for her previous defiance.

The small filly trotted absentmindedly through the square with thoughts of gift ideas churning around excitedly in her head.

“Maybe I could get her a new jewelry box,” She said to herself as she looked inside the antique store’s window, pressing her muzzle against the glass. “Or a fancy antique lamp or a music box. There are plenty of things I can buy in here for less than twenty bits!”

She was about to enter into the store to get a first-hoof look instead of one from behind a foggy window, but was stopped as she reached for the door by the sound of harsh laughter and the pounding of hooves from the alley just ahead of the shop. As she trotted closer to investigate, the hoofsteps ceased and were replaced by the sounds of bottle glass scraping across the pavement. Rounding the corner, Sweetie Belle looked into the alley and saw several adult-sized ponies standing around something in the middle of the alley.

Each pony had their faces and cutie marks covered. Some reminded Sweetie Belle of the guillotine henchmen she’d read about in the fairytale books she had back at home; but the ponies in those books were stong, hooded in black, and served a king. The ponies in front of Sweetie Belle had crudely made hoods like scarecrows. Some wore ski masks and others had burlap sacks over their heads, like they were in a hurry to find anything they could to cover their faces. There were five, maybe six of them, but they moved in and out of the shadows so frequently that Sweetie Belle couldn’t get a good idea.

“It’s in my eye!” A mare in a white, hooded robe stumbled away from the group. “There’s glass in my eye!”

The mare was clutching her hooves to her left eye, and Sweetie Belle could see a stream of blood flowing between them, steadily flowing through what little of the pony’s cerise body hair that was showing through her disguise.

Another pony stepped out of the shadows to tend to the wounded mare and revealed the object of the groups attention: a young mare, about Rarity’s age and size, with no Cutie Mark and a cerulean coat. Or light blue. Maybe grey. Sweetie Belle couldn’t tell since the mare was covered in the dirt and grime of the alley floor.

One of the ponies was holding her down while another kicked the broken bottle out of her hoof. The rest spoke harsh, frightened words at her. Some threw stones and cursed at her. Some of them even spat on her.

“You shouldn’t have come back, Dashie.” a pony said, throwing a rock that caught the mare just below her ribcage.

“She told you to never come back,” Another said. “You should’ve listened to her.”

Sweetie Belle couldn’t understand what she was seeing. Something about the whole scene didn’t completely register with her. She knew what was being done to this mare wasn’t right and she wanted to say or do something to make it stop; but something about what the group was saying dumbfounded her. Who is Dashie? Is it the mare on the ground? Isn’t Dashie Rainbow Dash’s nickname? Is that Rainbow Dash on the ground then? Why would they hurt Rainbow Dash? Did Rainbow Dash do something wrong? It can’t be Rainbow Dash, she hasn’t been in town for weeks. Then who is that mare on the ground?

Her brain was running on loop like a short-circuiting wire, so she could only remain frozen in place. Unable to move. Unable to speak.

“...She blinded me!” The wounded mare shouted as she pushed past the group and swung a vicious kick at Dashie’s head. Dashie tried to move out of the way after struggling to free herself from the group, but she was too slow. The mare’s kick caught her in the side of the head and sent her sprawling across the ground.

“Look at what you did to me, you blinded me!” The mare howled above Dashie. Another kick caught her in the stomach and rolled her over onto her back. “I said look at me!”

A few drops of blood fell onto Dashie’s face, causing her to move her head to the side. The mare pulled her hoof back again, and Dashie tried to put her hooves up to protect herself, but the mare’s kick caught her in the face again. The mare kicked at Dashie again and again and again, hitting her in the face, stomach, and ribs. She vomited weakly onto the cobblestones in between the kicks and eventually laid unresponsive to the mare’s violence; practically unconscious except for the occasional groan.

The rest of the group stood motionless, stunned by the mare’s display. They exchanged surprised and worried glances and weren’t sure weather to join in or intervene. All they wanted to do was scare Dashie and make her leave town. They never intended for her to get hurt. As they looked at her, brutalized, unconscious, and in a pool of her own vomit, they stood frozen themselves, similar to Sweetie Belle; who was still standing unnoticed in the mouth of the alley.

Suddenly, Sweetie Belle heard a noise and craned her neck. It was the bell chime to the Antique Store.

She took a step back and could see the store owner maneuvering through the rows of antiques and disappearing somewhere in the back of the store and In an instant she remembered something Cheerilee had taught her at school: “If you’re ever being bullied, find an adult you trust. They can help.”

The filly felt her hooves move on their own. She didn’t want to leave, she wanted to stay and try to help the mare, but she soon found herself inside the antique store, looking for the owner…

“Be with you in just a moment!” Came a cheerful voice from the back of the shop.

Sweetie Belle looked around, trying to find the source of the voice but her eyes only fell upon antiques and furniture covered in a fine layer of dust, shelves lined with old vases, baubles, and dozens of tiny knick-knacks made of old metal and faded leather. None of them could help Sweetie Belle though. She was practically dancing with distress.

“So what can I help you with?” a grandfatherly-grey stallion emerged from around a shelf. He was elderly and stooped over a cane, but he smiled warmly at Sweetie Belle through his wrinkles “looking for a gift for your grandmare?”

Sweetie Belle looked up, her eyes frantic. “Help Mister, something's going on in the alley. I think somepony is getting hurt!”

The old stallion looked puzzled, as if he couldn’t decide whether the tiny filly in his shop was telling the truth or playing some kind of prank on him. He studied her face, and after seeing the fear painted across her face he felt the skepticism slowly spill out of him.

“Well we can’t have that,” the old stallion said heading for the door “now can we?”

Sweetie Belle didn’t follow the stallion as he exited the shop and disappeared around the corner. Instead she stood in place, her small body shaking from adrenaline. She took a moment to calm down; as she did she let her attention wander around the shop. It seemed different now that she wasn’t frantic: The side by side, ancient-looking furniture and old-fashioned china. The ruffled pink glasses and souvenir spoons. The smell of varnished wood and old memories…

This shop was a safe place, a refuge of sorts for Sweetie Belle. So much so that she had almost forgotten about the ordeal she had just witnessed outside in the alley if it wasn't for another round of shouting she could hear from outside.

“Yeah that’s right, run!” the old stallion yelled as the ponies galloped down the alley and disappeared around a corner. "And I don't ever want to see you lot in my store. I'll remember your faces!"

Dashie remained on the ground, even after the hoofbeats of the fleeing ponies faded into silence. She just laid motionless, clutching her stomach with her hooves and groaning softly. The stallion knelt down to try and help her up just as Sweetie Belle came outside.

After a while, Dashie rolled over and stood on her hooves, taking a few shaky steps to test her balance as Sweetie Belle came slowly into the alley.

“Are you hurt?” The shop owner asked, reaching out to Dashie. “Do you want me to take you to the hospital?”

Dashie jerked away, almost falling.

“No!” Dashie meant to shout but it came out as a soft croak. ”Don’t touch me.”

Sweetie Belle couldn’t tell if Dashie was angry or afraid. Her voice was shaking and she had to lean on the wall for support after staggering a few steps away.

“I’ve got somewhere I need to be” Her voice cracks as she reached the corner. She tried to hurry away as fast as she could, but the edges of her vision were growing darker with each step. She tried to continue forward but fell to her knees and blacked out in another alley.

***

Scootaloo and Applebloom shared a table at Sugarcube Corner, picking idly at a plate of cupcakes as they waited for their friend to join them. The cafe was filled with the low murmur of conversation, punctuated occasionally by laughter of the clink of a plate, yet the fillies themselves did not partake in any conversation.

Scootaloo was sitting quietly across from Applebloom, looking out the window and watching the stream of ponies pass by on their ways though the market, but the short fuse of her patience soon burnt out and she began pointing out different fillies in the marketplace.

“Hey, Is that Sweetie Belle?” Scootaloo asked with a mouth half-full of cupcake.

“For tha third time no,” Applebloom replied annoyed. “That’s Tootsie Flute.”

“What about that one?”

“That one ain’t even a unicorn.”

Scootaloo put her hoof down, and for a moment the two fillies sat in silence again as they looked out the window. Eventually, Applebloom pushed her chair back and came to her hooves.

“A’h think we should meet her at school tomorra’, she’s already an hour late.” Applebloom began to trot away from the table when Scootaloo noticed something in the marketplace and pointed out the window again.

“No wait, she’s over there!”

Applebloom looked through the window and saw a filly standing next to a collections box.

“That’s just one of them Foal Scouts.” She said dismissively.

“No, not by the vegetable stands,” Scootaloo said pressing her hoof to the window “over there. The one with the green saddlebag going past the bridle shop.”

When Applebloom spotted the pony Scootaloo was pointing at, they both rushed out of the cafe and into the crowd.

The fillies ran after their friend, their tiny hooves clopping against the rough cobbled streets and splashing through puddles. They almost slammed into Sweetie Belle at a dead gallop if it wasn’t for a wagon pulled by a grey stallion that had come between them and interrupted their run.

Sweetie Belle was on her way back from the gem store, heading to Carousel Boutique. Her head was trained to the ground, the events from earlier banging around inside of her mind like an angry hornet. Everything else was a blur to her as she replayed the events over and over again, and she didn’t even notice that her friends were now right beside her, prying for her attention.

“Huh?” Sweetie Belle said looking up from the ground. “Oh, hey guys...”

“What’samatter, Sweetie Belle” Applebloom asked, noticing the unease on her friend’s face as if it were a poorly-fitted mask.

“Yeah, what’s wrong? You completely trotted past Sugarcube Corner.” Scootaloo added. “And you're an hour late.”

“Really? I’m sorry, I didn’t do it on purpose... “ Sweetie Belle said dolefully. “I’m just, a little confused about something.”

“About what?” Scootaloo asked.

“It’s nothing just… just forget it.” Sweetie Belle said evasively. “Let’s just go to Sugarcube Corner.”

The three friends headed towards the cafe, Scootaloo and Applebloom taking up the front and Sweetie Belle pulling up the rear; looking past them with a thousand-yard stare that went unnoticed as they returned to their table. Applebloom and Scootaloo ordered another round of cupcakes for the table and made friendly conversation with each other about things that preoccupy the minds of school-fillies, but Sweetie Belle was far away from them; staring off into space in the direction of two mares at the next table over.

“You know you shouldn’t boil your vegetables?” One of the mares said to her friend. “I was talking to somepony in the market who said that boiling them destroys all the nutrients; she said you should roast your vegetables instead.”

“I’m not roasting my vegetables.” the other mare said hotly. “I’d rather eat two-day old oast than roasted vegetables.”

“But boiling them leaches all the nutrients into the water that you pour down the drain.” The first mare said back. “Roasting is obviously better, there’s so much more flavor and it doesn’t turn them to mush.”

The second mare wasn’t hearing any of it, and sweetie belle wasn’t hearing it either. She didn’t hear much of anything at the moment, in fact, but she didn’t notice that either. She didn’t even notice that she had been staring for quite some time at these two mares.

Her mind was blank. The gears in her head were stuck.

Just as the two mares Sweetie Belle had been dissociatively watching entered into a rather spirited debate about the proper way to prepare their vegetables, Mrs. Cake had stepped in between the two tables to drop off the fillies’ food order, and Sweetie Belle turned her head just in time to see Scootaloo take too big of a bite of a raspberry cupcake and recoil as a stream of red goo shot into her face.

“Aww man, it got in my eye!” Scootaloo exclaimed as her hoof shot up to her eye.

Sweetie Belle, seeing the of warm warm pasty filling stream down Scootaloo’s hoof, began to softly hyperventilate. Her tiny chest was tight, and her rapid breathing went unnoticed by Scootaloo until Applebloomn pointed it out to her.

“Whoa…” Scootaloo didn’t what to say. “What’s happening?”

“Yeah, what’s tha matter Sweetie Belle?” Applebloom said, leaning in.

Sweetie Belle took a shaky breath and described what she had witnessed earlier in the alley. The ponies in their make-shift disguises, the young mare on the alley floor being brutalized by an older, half-blind mare. Things that mothers try to shelter their foals from and things that Sweetie Belle was too young to even understand.

“And they kept calling her Dashie.” Sweetie Belle said, her voice quivering softly.” Have you girls ever heard of a mare called Dashie?”

“Don’t ya’ mean Rainbow Dash?” Applebloom cocked her head.

“It couldn’t have been Rainbow Dash.” Scootaloo corrected. “She’s been in cloudsdale ever since she got accepted into The Wonderbolts last week.”

“Are ya’ sure it wasn’t Rainbow Dash?” Applebloom frowned “What did this mare even look like?”

“Well she was c-covered in dirt so I couldn’t tell if her coat was blue or grey,“ Sweetie Belle said “But she had colorful hair like Rainbow Dash... But I’m pretty sure it wasn’t her.”

“Colorful hair? Blue coat? It’s gotta be Rainbow Dash!” Scootaloo said. “She’s the only pony in Ponyville with that kind of look. I wouldn’t be surprised if she trademarked it!”

Sweetie Belle shook her head. “It wasn’t Rainbow Dash. This mare didn’t have a Cutie Mark.”

"Are ya' sure you just didn’t see one?" Applebloom asked. "You did say she was on the ground.”

Sweetie Belle shook her head again. " I'm sure, I even stood next to her and saw. Her flank was as blank as a piece of paper."

"I've never heard of an adult pony not having a Cutie Mark." Scootaloo looked worried for a moment."You don't think that could happen to us, do you?"

Applebloom gave scootaloo a friendly smack with her hoof and pointed to their flanks.

"Oh yeah, we already got ours.” scootaloo said rubbing the back of her head. “Sorry, force of habit.”

"Now that I think of it, " Sweetie Belle said. "why would Rainbow Dash be attacked anyway? Everypony in town loves her, or at least nopony hates her enough to want to hurt her..."

“Well maybe we could ask an adult about this Dashie pony.” Applebloom looked thoughtful “Somepony like Applejack.”

“Or Rarity.” Scootaloo interjected.

“Well I do have to bring these gems back to Rarity.” Sweetie Belle motioned to her saddlebag. “Maybe she’ll know more about this...”

Sweetie Belle was about to get up, but was stopped when Scootaloo reminded them about the bill. Sweetie Belle remarked about how Rarioty had actually given her enough money to treat them to lunch but after checking her saddlebag che swiftly put her knead in her hooves.

“Actually can you girls spot me?” Sweetie Belle said through her hooves. “I accidentally spent all my money.”

***

It was late in the afternoon by the time Sweetie Belle had returned to Carousel Boutique. Pale and uneasy, she came up the stairs and into the dress room, her green saddlebag still on her back.

Rarity had already finished Pinkie Pie’s dress long before Sweetie Belle had returned and just needed the emeralds, so the two of them were waiting in the common room; making small-talk as they waited for the filly to return with the gemstones.

“Working the boutique in the winter is no great chore, since there aren’t many customers,” Rarity said as Sweetie Belle entered the room. “Most of the time I’ve spent just trying to find ways to amuse myself before I decided to just close the business entirely for the season and spend time with Sweetie Belle... I think this year I’ll take her to the Crystal Empire, she's been asking to go for quite some time now and the empire is just beautiful in the winter-"

Rarity looked over when she heard the door close behind Sweetie Belle. “Speaking of, I think our gemstones arrived!” She said with a flourish as she turned to greet her Sweetie, but her expression became anxious as she too noticed the cloud of uneasiness hanging over her sister’s head.

“Merciful Celestia, What happened to you?” Rarity asked Sweetie Belle, her expression grave. “You’re as pale as a newborn foal!”

“Do you know who Dashie is?” Sweetie Belle asked.

Silence filled the room like a cold sweat. Upon hearing that name, Pinkie Pie’s shoulders sagged and she raised a hoof to her head, averting her eyes as if pretending she wasn’t there. Rarity, on the other hoof, stared aghast at her sister and made wordless, startled sounds. Their reactions almost like a nervous twitch.

“Where did you hear that name?” Rarity asked softly.

“Why?” Sweetie Belle asked confused. “Who is she?”

“Where did you hear that name?!” Rarity repeated herself, almost yelling.

“I-I saw a mare being attacked in an alley earlier. “ Sweetie Belle dropped her ears and took a step back.. “They k-kept calling her Dashie...”

Rarity’s head was bowed slightly, as if a great weight had just settled onto her. “I want you to forget you heard that name, Sweetie Belle,” Rarity said, a numb anger in her voice. “Forget what you saw in the alley...”

“But why?” Sweetie Belle pleaded, confused by the sudden shift in her sister’s emotions “Who is this mare? Why was she being attacked-”

“Please Sweetie Belle, listen to your sister and just forget about it.”

“-and why did they keep calling her Dashie?”

“Listen to your sis-”

“Isn’t ‘Dashie’ Rainbow Dash’s nick-?”

Rarity’s anger exploded. “Don’t you ever call Rainbow Dash that, don’t even ask her about it! Just listen to your big sister and forget you ever heard that name.”

Sweetie Belle’s breath stopped when saw her sister’s face. The dressmaker’s countenance was like a shattered mask. Underneath, Rarity’s expression was haunted, her eyes half in this world and half in another; remembering something that may or may not have happened.

“Why are you yelling at me? I didn’t do anything wrong” Sweetie Belle asked, close to tears. “I just wanted to know why ponies would attack another mare like that.”

The room became ultimately silent again. For a long moment, only the sounds of the pre-autumn breeze rapping against the room’s windows kept the silence at bay. Soon, Rarity sighed out a long breath.

“I’m sorry Sweetie Belle,” Rarity said as she put her mask back on and regained her composure. “You’re right, you’ve done nothing wrong. I shouldn’t have yelled at you.”

“But why were you so angry?“ Sweetie Belle asked. “Why did you start yelling at me once I asked about Rainbow Dash?”

Rarity thought about how to answer her sister as best as she could.

“I wouldn’t expect you to understand, Sweetie Belle. You’re just a child.” Rarity sighed again. “A filly like you shouldn’t ever have to worry about something like this; you should be worrying about playing with your friends, or completing your homework on time... Not something this painful.”

Sweetie Belle was silent, and looked at her sister with an expression of quiet perplexity.

“Dashie’s a bad mare.” Rarity said “A bad mare who has done awful things to hurt your big sister and all her friends. The last thing I ever want is for her to hurt you as well.”

Author's Note:

Musical Inspiration:

The Bones of Baby Dolls - Acid Bath


____________
There used to be an interlude between chapter 1 and 2 that was removed because it'sd weird having an interlude after the first chapter, but below is what happens between chapter 1 and chapter 2. I didn't want to scrap it entirely because it's a nice section

Outside Carousel Boutique the weather was warm and dry, and Sweetie Belle could smell the approaching autumn on the breeze that was softly whispering through the trees. The wind had come straight in from the sea, and had brought with it various aromas from all corners of Equestria:

Sweetie Belle could smell the Apple family’s farm, Sweet Apple Acres, where pomace from the cider presses sent a fragrance of seasoned spice wafting into the wind. Behind that, she could smell the perfume of goldenrods from the pastures and fields outside Ponyville. She could smell the paint from the shaky pasture fences, the sun-warmed hides of the grazing animals, the coolness from the stone roads that lead into Canterlot, and - if she focused hard enough- she could even smell some of the fouler odors coming from the more industrialized cities like Manehattan and Baltimare; the urine, the sweat, the coal smoke, and tar; And, just for the briefest of fleeting moments, she could even pick up the faintest hints of Appleloosan sand.

Every touch of wind against Sweetie Belle’s face was a caress; like a quick, sweet kiss that reminded her ever so gently that autumn was coming.

As the filly continued to trot down the road, she heard a commotion, and found herself looking up into the branches of a grand old oak tree. The breeze tussled the yellow leaves and sent them spinning down like gold coins, and the branches bent and swayed and appeared to be waving at Sweetie Belle like she were an old friend it hadn’t seen in a long time. And there near the top of the tree was the cause of the commotion; a pair of songbirds hopping from branch to branch, chirping loudly at one another.

Sweetie Belle wondered if the songbirds were singing to each other, or discussing when would be the appropriate time to leave their nests for the winter, or if they were simply just surprised and curious about the presence of the tiny pony at the base of their tree; but before too long another gust sighed through the branches and the two birds caught the wind and flew off into the great sky, far out of sight of the small filly below.