• Published 7th Sep 2013
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Courage - scion



Evil has come to the Everfree and Ponyville. The Elements must stand against it... but they will not be alone. The mysterious blue-eyed wolf will aid-or hamper- their efforts to bring harmony back to Equestria.

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Adventures in Ponyville: Rainbow Road

Link padded towards the town, his gait a brisk walk.

It had been several days since his last visit to this quaint little town of ponies, and he was more than looking forward to a day of relaxation. His normal home just didn't feel right with all the little ones missing. He had seen them, in the town where they had taken shelter, but for now, he just wanted a soft place to sleep with his favorite companion nearby.

That, and the party that he had been invited to (and which Midna insisted he attend) was tonight. Midna was being strangely stubborn on the subject and insisted that he go. He was not too opposed to the idea; if it was anything like the feasts and festivals that were held in his home village on occasion, he would enjoy it.

Link suddenly stopped. He had seen something. It was a small plant, a clump of small grasses with an oddly shaped tip; it looked almost like a hawk, wings outstretched, taking to the air.

What surprised him was not the shape, but that it was here at all. He had yet to see one of them in this area though.

Link shrugged, sat down, threw back his head, and howled.

---

Rainbow Dash awoke to the sound of howling.

Her first instinct was to kick and groan and turn over on her cloud, ignoring it for the sake of continuing her important nap. She snuggled deeper into the cloud that was serving as her afternoon bed and flicked her ears at the sound.

It didn't go away. Rainbow drowsily roused herself just as the call ended.

"Hey, some ponies are trying to sleep here!" she called out irritably. Why the hay was somepony howling anyways?

Coherent thought caught up with her right as she saw that it was not a pony that was howling, but a wolf. A pony-sized, very distinctive black wolf.

Rainbow burst the cloud beneath her and shot to the ground, landing with a flare of her wings a mere instant before she was about to crash.

Link, that was his name, got to all fours.

So, this is the one who saved our friends in my stead. The one who saved Ponyville when I couldn’t.

“What are you doing here?” she asked bluntly.

Link cocked his head, giving him a rather innocent look. Rainbow wasn’t fooled.

“Don’t give me that innocent look. The last time you came here, half the town got ponynapped. For all we know, you’re the reason they’re here in the first place,” Rainbow said heatedly.

Link’s lips pulled back, showing canines as he let out a short growl. Rainbow wasn’t put off. Years of time with her griffon friend told her it was just a display, for now. Ponies would become timid in the face of a challenge, but predators would stand firm. Fluttershy may know animals far better, but Rainbow had experience in dealing with the predator mindset. She advanced.

“I suppose you did save them. And you did save the Crusaders,” she mentioned nonchalantly. “So I guess you’re alright. For now. But I’ll be watching you, so don’t try any funny business.”

In truth, she was feeling a bit envious, not that she would ever admit it, even to herself. The role of town hero belonged to her and her friends, not some mutt! They could have overcome all those things without him, he just had to swoop in out of nowhere and solve it first, that was all! Right? I mean, there was just no way he could match up to the awesomeness that was Rainbow Dash and her friends, the Elements of Harmony!

Especially not in a race.

It was good he was out of his bandages. She could sympathize with him there, lying useless in a bed was no place for either one of them. Now that he was out of them, she could get a good measure of her competition.

Rainbow slowly trotted around him, examining this ‘Link’ from every angle. He may have been the size of a typical mare, but his head was low and his neck thick, giving Rainbow the impression of strength. A fighter. It was hard to tell beneath the thick layer of fur, but a simple prod of his side with a hoof revealed that he was all muscle. Looking closely, she could find no blemishes in the fur, or scarring indicators; for someone who Epona claimed was a warrior and regularly went into fights, he was remarkably unharmed. Which meant that either that healing potion was really, really good, or he was really, really good.

Outside, Rainbow kept her stoic, judging face, but internally she was nodding in approval. And grinning. He showed all the signs of being fast; not as fast as her, of course, but maybe she could bring herself down a notch and get a good race out of it.

She finished her little circuit around Link and returned to standing in front of him. Then she did her stood in front of him and snickered.

“Applejack said you were fast, but so far, I haven’t seen it. I bet I could beat you with both my wings tied to my flanks,” she goaded. He growled at that, and Rainbow knew her barb had struck home. Bingo.

“Tell you what. Why don’t we settle this, right here, right now. A race,” Rainbow grinned.

“It was from over here!” came a filly’s voice. Applebloom and Applejack followed right after at a dead gallop.

“Rainbow. Link,” Applejack greeted as she slowed to a trot. “Everythin’ alright over here?”

“Nothing wrong. He just woke me from my nap, so I challenged him to a race,” Rainbow replied.

Applejack shook her head. Only Rainbow Dash…

“Can we watch, Applejack? Please?” Applebloom asked.

Applejack shrugged. “Sure, don’ see why not. Gonna need someone makin’ sure all the rules are followed and t’ declare the winner.” She turned to Rainbow and Link. “So what’s the race?”

“Through Whitetail Woods. The Running of the Leaves course,” Rainbow stated. Link turned to look as she gestured in the general direction of the starting line with a hoof.

“What, yer gonna fly the course while he runs?” AJ asked.

“Nah, that wouldn’t be fair. Besides, I bet him I could beat him with both wings tied to my sides. Just like when we ran running of the leaves. Completely even,” Rainbow replied.

“So you wanna lose then.”

“Wha- of course not!” Rainbow protested. “But he doesn’t have wings, so how else am I supposed to make it fair?! Besides, I can beat him on hoof!”

Applejack shot Rainbow a look that clearly conveyed her disbelief of that statement.

“Tell you what, sugarcube. Why don’t you an’ Link have a quick race to that tree over there an’ back, no wings, an’ you tell me whether or not you can beat him in a race then. Sound good?”

Rainbow considered for a moment. “Fine! This’ll be a good warm up anyways,” she justified. Link said nothing as he padded next to the cyan mare. Both crouched, preparing themselves for the sprint.

“Applebloom, ya wanna do the honors?” Applejack asked as she stepped to the side.

“Three… Two…. One…. GO!” Applebloom punctuated the final word with an official start by dropping a raised forehoof to the ground.

Rainbow Dash exploded into action. She was no rodeo pony like AJ, but she kept herself in tip-top conditions for flying, and that meant she had to keep her running muscles in shape too. Flying was a workout for the entire body, not just the wings like some ignorant ponies thought. She was fast on the ground, faster than even Applejack (AJ would snort at that statement, but Rainbow knew she was faster).

This was her best start yet. Even better, the tree was no more than a hundred or so yards away. There and back? Foal’s play. She’d be able to gallop at full speed the whole time. There was no way she could lose!

She was thus very surprised when the wolf exploded off the line even faster than her. Eyes wide, she put it all on the line, every last bit of energy she could scrounge up. Her hooves raced faster than she had ever been before (on the ground, at least), and not only was she not catching up, he was pulling away!

Link ran with long, powerful strides, his head low, mouth open against the exertions. Every so often he would lunge forward in a burst of speed. He was quickly at the tree; with flexibility no pony could match, he planted his feet and pulled a hairpin turn with a small hop, jump starting the way back, passing Rainbow Dash as he did so.

Rainbow was so focused on winning she didn’t even notice her wings flare and beat powerfully as she came up on the half-way point, letting her duplicate his impossible turn.

It did not help. Rainbow galloped past Applejack with the bitter taste of defeat in her mouth, Link having already finished well before her. She dropped to a standstill and panted heavily, trying to get air into her starved lungs.

“Ah told ya he was fast,” came Applejack’s smug voice. “You still wanna race him now?”

“Hay yes!” Rainbow said through pants. “This guy… might be… the first… thing that can… maybe keep up with me!”

“Looked more like the other way ‘round t’ me, Dash.”

“I mean flying!”

“Rainbow, he don’t have wings. NOTHING can keep up with you flying, ‘cept maybe a Wonderbolt.”

“C’mon AJ!” Rainbow said, stamping her hoof. “There’s got to be some way I can race him!”

It would be really, really disappointing if she couldn’t.

Applejack opened her mouth, then stopped. Rainbow recognized the look of hesitation; Applejack had just thought of something.

“What is it?!” she demanded. Applejack scowled at her.

“Wouldn’t quite be the same. But if you really want a race, ah might have an idea.”

---

Rainbow and Link crouched at the starting line, waiting for Applebloom to signal the start of the race.

It was simple, at least for Link. Follow the path through Whitetail Woods, and the finish line would be at the end, a few hundred yards down the way after a winding trail through the woods.

For Rainbow, though, it was slightly more complicated. She was flying now, which put her at a very distinct advantage. To mitigate this, she had to fly the same path, at below tree level. In addition, she was going to run the path twice, flying from end to start and then doing the whole thing over again. Their first race where she had simply flown straight through had been a predictable blowout, but by much more than anypony thought; Link had finished in nearly double her time.

Which meant that, if one doubled her path, then they might actually have a race on their hooves.

Of course, by that point, Link had begun to lose interest in racing. So Rainbow had offered something to sweeten the pot; if he won, she would give him whatever he wanted, within reason. He wanted a trophy? She'd get him one. Cupcake? No problem. Personal caretaker for Epona for a day? Well, if that's what he wanted.

She was really looking forward to this race. Those who knew her very well may have guessed the proper reasons; yes, it was true she was looking for a good challenge, a way to push herself, but the need to beat him- this was a way to prove to herself that she was just as good, if not better, than he was. After all, if she could beat him in a race, she could at least equal his other accomplishments, right?

Right?

"Three... Two... One... GO!"

Applebloom waved the green flag she had gotten somewhere. And then Rainbow was off like a shot, zigzagging between trees at an almost dangerous pace, rainbow mane and tail streaming behind her.

---

Behind her and falling further and further behind every second, Link ran, pounding down the trail after the rainbow haired pegasus.

This race may have been a simple diversion, but it was a fun one. He loved stretching his legs like this, it was both invigorating and rather relaxing. No problems to worry about, no ponies to save, no enemies to fight, just the open path and a competitor who was ahead of him.

Link rounded a slight corner and put on a burst of speed.

---

Rainbow burst out of the treeline, climbed, and turned back to the start line. Below her, she saw Applejack and Applebloom idly chatting at the finish line, but that was all she had time for. Folding her wings, Rainbow dove like a falcon into the starting line and the trees therein.

The speed boost made things dangerous for the first section, but it was nothing she couldn't handle. She continued at a fast pace, the trees whipping by as though she was on a rocket-powered Friendship Express. Her quarry was now ahead of her again, and she knew it.

She began to worry when she neared the end without any sight of him. Had Link already finished? No, he couldn’t have. There’s just no way he could have beat her! Rainbow poured on more speed.

It was the final stretch before she saw him. The edge of the woods were in sight, and with them was a black wolf making a mad dash for the finish line. Rainbow pushed herself even harder, her lungs burning, her wings screaming–

She shot past him in a blur or polychromatic hair, then zoomed to the finish line half a second later. Rainbow laughed as she bled off speed by climbing. She glided down to the finish line, giddy, just as Link crossed it. Both collapsed, panting, on the ground.

“Well. Rainbow Dash, you won by twenty seconds. Good race, too, ah’d say, considerin’ yer both winded the same.”

Rainbow laughed. “Yea, that was a good race. Hey, come back when you’re ready for a rematch. That was the best workout I’ve had all week!”

Author's Note:

I know it's kind of convoluted, but I had to have a race. And if there was going to be a race, there was only one pony who it would be: Rainbow Dash. The rest of this came out of trying to justify that single idea.

Also, kudos to regreme, who can see the future and saw this coming.

Also, video game naming. Anyone who has played Fable likely recognizes the previous chapter title. Anyone who knows MarioKart likely knows this one. I found it an amusing little diversion, trying to name these chapters after such things, but I can't say I succeeded in all of them. Ah well, it was fun.