• Published 1st Mar 2012
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Rainbow Dash and Her Marvelous Mechanical Wings - Dalkrin-the-Wanderer



There are no Unicorns or Pegasai, only Earth Ponies. one decides She's gonna fly. She's Rainbow Dash

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Chapter 5: Recovery (rewrite)

Author's Note:

A retooling of the original chapter 5. A few additional details and a complete reworking of the wording. a better pace is a achieved I believe

Chapter 5: Recovery

Rainbow Dash grunted under the weight of the Princess. She could still hear the sound of the massive dirigible burning in the distance, and the clash of steel on steel. She felt blessed that no one up there had noticed her dragging an alicorn across open fields, because she was sure that after the beating she had taken at the talons of that gryphon earlier, she wouldn't last two seconds against another. That's not even mentioning the state of her one advantage, the wings. They were completely wrecked! Just minutes after their first successful flight too.

She hadn't realized while she was flying, but moving through the air, she ate up a lot of distance in a very short time. When she needed to get to the ship that was all well and good, but now that the fight was over, her energy was flagging fast, and there was no way she was going to be able to get the Princess to Ponyville before her legs gave out. Casting about for something to hide under, she spotted a small copse of trees growing apart from the forests to her rear. Doggedly, she dragged the Princess towards them and secreted her away in the underbrush. With that done, she promptly fell to the ground, exhausted.

As she lay there, her mind began to wander. She got to thinking about her friends out in Ponyville. She knew that the fight was easily seen from the town and Pinkie was probably up the walls with worry. She thought about how it had felt to fly through the air with that contraption on her back, and how it had felt to clobber some of those featherbrained Gryphons for attacking the Princess.

She smiled a bit at that. She'd helped to save the Princess. Who could ever say that? Looking up through the concealing leaves, she saw a large shadow pass overhead from the direction of Ponyville. She could hear ponies shouting in the near distance. With a heave of effort, she pulled herself to her hooves. That would be the rescue brigade coming to see to survivors. As she stumbled from the cover of the trees to meet them, she thought to herself...

"All in all, today was a good day."

---


Canterlot was still alive with a rare energy when Sepia Tock stepped out of Sprocket Tooth's Fine Time Pieces, the eponymous stallion bidding him a good evening as he unpacked the bags of precision machined gears and escapements that Sepia had delivered. The evening was still young as he wound through the packed streets, dodging hockers and showponies attempting to catch his attention (or at least his bits). Looking at the Fair's schedule, he saw that if he hurried, he could see the Harmony from the port on her maiden voyage and then make his way to the Ponyville Direct line with enough time to find a nice window seat.

Quickly, he found his way to the aerodrome where Her Royal Majesty's Skytower moored the Harmony. He was a bit late in coming, but with a bit of work, he shuffled his way to the middle of the gathered ponies. Only press and political figures were permitted in the tower itself so the on- lookers were forced to gather around it's base. The Harmony floated beside the tower far overhead, and Sepia took a moment to just take it all in. This was probably the defining moment of aeronautical design, he thought. The single largest lighter than air vessel was mere ponylengths away from him.

Quite lost in his thoughts, he was startled when Luna's voice began to blare over the Audiophone system erected at the base of the tower. Her words held a tinny undercurrent as they issued from the brass horns, but to the common folk, it was like the princess was speaking to them directly. After the short speech drew to a close, the prince, Blueblood, took the stage and said some short words as well. Before long, the fanfare was blasting as the massive dirigible was pulling away from the Aerodrome amidst wild cheers, to which Sepia could not resist adding his own. His chest swelled with pride as he watched the marvel of modern science drift into the distance. Equestrian hooves had toiled at the creation of that wonderful machine.

With a spring in his step, Sepia headed for the Ponyville Direct. The throng of ponies headed for the little burg was quite large by his reckoning. The Fair was winding to a close, all the headline events had already passed and now, the citizens were on their way home to continue their lives. He swiped his travel pass at the turnstile and was quickly boarded. He moved to his preferred seat, amidships on the port side, and sat gazing out of the window. He couldn't see it right then, but the Harmony would be in view for the entirety of the trip and he couldn't get enough of seeing that marvelous machine soaring through the sky.

As the engines roared to life, the doors slid shut and locked with a whir of gears. Over the on-board Audiophone the captain gave her usual, pre-flight spiel.

"Trans Equestria Skylines thanks you for choosing us for your transport today, I'm your captain, Sea Sands, and we'll be departing momentarily for Ponyville. This is the Direct line, no stops in lower Canterlot. Our estimated travel time is a half hour. We have a decent tail wind and no turbulence is expected. Please Fasten your safety harness until we reach cruising altitude. Thank you, and enjoy your ride!"

Sepia pulled his harness across his chest and fastened himself down for the ride. The engines picked up steam and the rotors outside began to turn, pushing the ship skyward. As the ship lifted, the rotors tilted forward and began driving the ship forward. The hum comforted him as the engines worked to move him through the air. It reminded him of why he became a clocksmith.

His father, Steady Tick was a clocksmith too, but not just any clocksmith. He was the best, not just in Sepia's humble opinion, but in the opinions of all those that mattered. A clocksmith was invaluable in the field of aeromechanation. So many moving parts had to be planned, placed and calibrated, and Steady was the one everypony wanted on their team. Sepia often spent his days after primary school watching his father work, be it in the workshop, at home, or down in the shipyards in Lower Canterlot. His father would often work late, and Sepia would stick by his side, learning the trade until eventually the droning hum of the engines being tested would lull him to sleep.

Before long, Sepia's reminiscing began to do the same. His eye lids were becoming heavy with sleep and slowly he was succumbing to the stress of the day. This was all forgotten as the ship turned onto it's flight path and the Harmony came in view. It's massive balloon easily seen against the darkening blue backdrop of the sky. From around the cabin, ponies were remarking about how beautiful the ship looked and how lucky those ponies were to be aboard the vessel.

Sepia stared, again transfixed by the sight when the first flash of red light caught his attention. Not sure what to make of it, he leaned forward, peering through the glass at the ship. More flashes, and some of the light didn't go out. Murmurs from the other passengers confirmed what he was seeing.

The Harmony was catching fire. No; it was under attack!

The fire was spreading across the balloon cover, eating away the supposedly fire-proofed tarpaulin that protected the precious gas that held the ship aloft. Sepia was horror stricken as it occurred to him that aboard that ship was Princess Luna. She was in grave danger and there was nothing to be done but watch as that great feat of engineering crashed and burned with her aboard. The other ponies were nearly panic stricken and the stewardesses were hurriedly attempting to calm the passengers. A mare near the rear screamed as the Harmony went aground and somewhere aboard, a foal cried in fright. Sepia felt like he could break down in tears as well.

Minutes passed and the stewardesses got the bedlam aboard the ship under some form of control. Sepia sat, shell-shocked by the development. Who would attack the Harmony? Who would attack the Princess? Was she okay? What about the other ponies aboard that ship? So many questions were buzzing in his head that he almost didn't notice the bright blue flash from the direction of Canterlot. The rear windows gave a clear view of the mass of blue that was rushing across the terrain, approaching impossibly fast. What had taken the airship minutes to travel, this wall of energy was clearing in seconds.

Sepia braced as it neared the ship and squeezed his eyes tight shut. The ship pitched forward heavily, slamming him into his seat and then against his harness in rapid succession. Panicked screams rent the air and a shuddering groan marked the death of one of the two propellers that powered the ship. The stewardess and several of the other passengers who had unbuckled their harnesses were haphazardly sprawled across the seats and isles and the ship, with it's one remaining rotor turned lazy circles over the Equestrian countryside.

Stricken, the ship sat suspended in the air for nearly an hour before the Air-Rescue teams were able to get a tow out to them. Sepia sat in silence the whole time, a deeply worried frown across his face as he watched Air-Rescue sweep the crash site of the Harmony, searching for wounded and dead alike. Ground teams roamed the fields down below, Electric Lamps casting light in the early night. The Airship eventually was pulled into the Ponyville Aerodrome but as the passengers were preparing to disembark, a royal guard stallion marched through the door.

"Ladies and Gentlecolts," he said, blocking the doorway with ease. "Before you return home, you will please submit to questioning in regards to the incident with the Harmony."

This was met with much grumbling, but everypony present queued up and were one by one interviewed by the guards. Sepia's turn was some time in coming but he eventually found himself face to face with a guardmare with a bored expression and a pen gripped between her teeth.

"Name?" she asked, sounding as bored as she looked.

"Sepia Tock," He replied, getting set for the long haul.

"Occupation?"

"Clocksmith."

"Please Describe what you saw in regards to the incident with the Harmony, Mr. Tock," Here she readied her pen. As sepia described the events, her pen flashed across the parchment and she gave little grunts of acknowledgement as he spoke. Before long, she had taken his statement and Sepia was getting ready to go when she stopped him.

"One last question, if you don't mind, Mr. Tock," she said, but made it sound like she knew that he didn't mind and that he would find this out very soon. "Did you, at any time during your visit to Canterlot, see any Gryphons acting in a suspicious manner?"

This gave Sepia pause. What an odd thing to ask. Why Gryphons? After a beat he told her he had not. She nodded and allowed him to leave. He departed as swiftly as his tired legs would take him and made a b-line for Fillyton Street and his Clockshop. His head was hurting and he was hungry and he just wanted to go home and sleep until the next World's Fair came around. The streets of Ponyville were deserted, but that was to be expected. They were likely all either gathered around town hall or out with Air-Rescue attempting to save everypony on the harmony.

He arrived at his shop and fumbled the door open, only to be nearly floored as Colgate slammed into him with tears in her eyes.

"Oh-my-Luna! Tock, you're okay! I was so worried!"

Sepia was taken aback by her sudden change in demeanor. Usually, she would give him lip about being late, and ride him about all the orders that came in while he was gone, or go on a tangent about how he was always extending credit when the shop was suffering. Here though, she was nearly hysterical with worry for his safety. He could only pat her on the shoulder feebly, confused by the whole thing.

"I'm so sorry! I've been horrible to you these last few weeks. The stress was getting to me and I wasn't thinking about it, but when I heard that airships were being attacked, I thought... I... I'm just glad you weren't hurt!"

"I'm fine Col'," he said, when she finally let him get a word in. "Just a little bruised from the harness when that weird blue light hit us. Knocked the ship around a bit and killed one of the engines. Air-Rescue had to tow us into port, then we were questioned by the guard before we could leave." He gave her a squeeze then pulled away. "I think we may have bigger worries though."

"What do you mean?" Colgate asked, wiping the tears from her eyes. "What happened?"

"I think something could have happened to the Princess. She was on the Harmony when it was attacked."

"What? Attacked!? What happened?"
Sepia described what he had seen, and what the guard had asked him before he was released. When he finished, Colgate was silent for a long moment before she spoke again.

"I would say 'Luna help us', but I think she may be a bit busy right now..."

---

Twilight sat on the plush cushions of the Royal Airship turning the words of the Princess over and over in hear head. So much that she thought she knew about the Princess was suddenly cast in a whole new light. That infallible facade that she once saw when she looked at her mentor had suddenly faltered, and beneath it was something that Twilight was not sure she ever wanted to see.

Before, the truth was the only option in Twilight's mind but for the first time in her entire life, she longed for the bliss of ignorance. The truth behind Magic Fall was so very different from what she had expected and she found it difficult to reconcile this new information with the reality she had believed to be true. Little more than an hour ago and her world was normal, totally understood and completely under control but now? Now her idol had revealed that she was just as capable of failure as Twilight was.

Even still, she loved and respected Luna, just as much as any Equestrian if not even more for the unique position she had found herself in since fillyhood. She wouldn't let this new revelation sour her relationship with her mentor, but it would take some time for her to come to grips with it, and as well it should. After all, what sane pony could have their entire world view upended and come out fine mere hours later?

The airship touched down on the Ponyville Aerodrome and Twilight disembarked. She circled around the platform and looked towards the distant form of the Harmony. As soon as she laid eyes on the ship, she knew something was terribly wrong. Flames licked the sides of the vessel and it was loosing altitude quickly. Her heart skipped a beat when the ship crashed into the forest. Seconds later, the sound of the frame fracturing echoed across the plains.

Without a second's hesitation, she turned tail and sprinted down the spiral stairs and out of the tower. Quickly she galloped to the Guard outpost. With little more than a thought, she burst through the door, eyes wide and searching. They focused on the Captain as he rushed into the room from the back.

"What's The meaning of this!? Ms. Sparkle? I'm sure you have a good reason for damaging property of the crown," he said, gesturing at the door which was now only attached by it's top hinge.

"Captain! Thank goodness. Quick, muster the Air-Rescue team! There's been a crash. The Harmony's down and the princess was aboard!"

The Captain's eyes widened. This was the Princess's personal protege. Sure she sometimes overreacted but she was in a position to be aware of such things.

"Where?!" he demanded, looking her dead in the eye.

Twilight told him what she saw. His expression became grave as he hurried through a side door.

"Silver!" he bellowed. "Silver, get out here! We got a situation."

A gray coated stallion followed the captain through the door looking rather harassed. It looked like he was preparing to leave for the day as the captain gathered him. He had saddlebags across his back and a driving cap on his head, the keys to his auto-carriage still hanging from his mouth.

"Round up the crew and fuel up three Pegasus Class ships. There's been an incident."

Silver gave a quick salute and hurried into the back of the post. Moments later, he came galloping through with his guard armor draped over him unfastened and a clipboard in his mouth. He was out the door in a trice and out of sight.

"I'm coming too," Twilight said as the Captain made for the door as well.

"You most certainly are not," he replied, stopping and looking her in the eye.

"Why not? The Princess is in danger, she may need my help!"

"Precisely why you can't come with us," He said, turning to face her fully. "I have a squad of seventeen fully trained Soldiers and fifty Air-Rescue volunteers all of which have taken the six month course. I have everything I need to get this job done right and what I don't need is a civilian who wouldn't know a splint from a splinter getting in everypony's way."

Twilight looked hurt at his words. The Captain's gaze softened and he patted her on the shoulder. "I do appreciate your drive and I'll be sure to have you informed as soon as we're finished so that you can see to the Princess."

"Thank you." She said, still a little put out by his refusal. Before she could dwell on it however, she spotted a bright blue light in the corner of her eye. She turned and was nearly bowled over by what felt like a wall of force. The Captain looked as surprised as she felt at what had just occurred. Looking out the door, the wall of blue energy carried onwards unimpeded. "What in Luna's mane was that?"

The Captian did not respond right away. His mouth hung open as he watched the strange even fade from view. When it was gone he shook his head as if coming to from a trance. "Strange as that was, I have bigger worries right now. I'll leave sussing that out to the scholars like yourself." With that he snorted and galloped from the room leaving Twilight slightly befuddled by the entire thing.

---

With little else to do, Twilight left the Guard-post and made her way to the Ponyville general hospital. It would be some time before the crews began transporting injured ponies, but Twilight decided to take it upon herself to see to preparations for the Princess, should the need arise.

The staff was very accommodating and before too long, a double room was cleared out and the one Alicorn sized bed they had in storage was brought out. While usually they would have cleared out a whole floor, there would soon be too many patients for that to be possible so the Princess was only separated from the others by a single room on all sides.

Twilight sat and waited for what seemed like hours before a doctor finally came into the room, informing her that the Princess was on her way to the hospital. Relief flooded Twilight followed suddenly by panic. Before she could voice a question however, the doctor cut her off good-naturedly.

"Relax, Miss Sparkle. The Medics on sight said she suffered little more than a bump on the head and some scrapes and bruises. She was discovered when a miss Rainbow Dash came crawling out of a thicket of trees. Apparently she had dragged the princess to safety and then flagged down the Air-Rescue teams. They're both being admitted now, but Miss Dash is a bit worse for wear than the Princess."

"Rainbow Dash was there?" She asked, incredulous. What would she be doing that far from town and what were the odds that she would be close enough to the crash to do anything about it?

"Indeed, and according to Miss Pie, she flew there." The doctor shook his head with a wry smile and Twilight gave a little laugh. Just like pinkie, making her laugh even when she wasn't around. "Be that as it may, the Princess is on her way here now and we've put Miss Dash in room c-153." Just then, the door swung open again and three orderlies led in a gurney with the Princess laying atop. A few deft moves later, and she was deposited onto the bed.

"Thank you Doctor," Twilight said as she moved over to the Princess' side. For a while, the Doctor simply hooked the Princess up to the vaious monitors around her bed. Before leaving, he turned to Twilight, a slightly worried look on his face.

"Now that the Princess is settled in for the night, I have to ask, pony to pony. What on Equuis is going on here?"

"You know as much as I do at this point Doctor. I'm hoping the Princess can shed some light on the situation when she wakes up."

The Doctor left on that note and Twilight sat on the stool by the bed and waited.


---

Luna awoke slowly. The light hurt her eyes as she tried to open them and her head pounded fiercely, centered just below her horn. With a groan, she forced her eyes open and gazed about her. The room she found herself in was stark white and very clean. On her left were several machines, each silently reading off her vital signs. Immediately she knew she was in a hospital. Looking about a bit more, she spotted Twilight leaned against the bed, snoring softly, one hoof inches from her own. With a smile on her face, Luna gently placed her hoof atop Twilight's.

Upon contact, Twilight started awake, blinking blearily. Her gaze alighted on the Princess and her face cracked into a beatific smile.

"Princess! You're awake! Sorry, I must have fallen asleep, do you need anything? I think the nurse said the call button was around here somewhere..."

"Twilight, calm down," The Princess said calming the mounting frenzy that her student was working herself up into. "It's fine. I hardly expect you to be awake all the time. Everypony needs sleep now and then." She smiled as Twilight visibly relaxed. "Now then, do you know if Rainbow Dash is okay? It was thanks to her that I was able to get out of that little ruckus."

Twilight shared what the Doctor had said, hoping to get a laugh from the Princess for Pinkie's antics, but instead, the Princess just nodded. Twilight was taken aback.

"Um, you seem rather unsurprised by the fact that Pinkie seems to be under the impression that Rainbow Dash can fly. I mean, I know she's proud of her pegasus heritage, but that's a bit much, don't you think?"

Luna just looked thoughtful for a moment, tapping her chin with a hoof tip, she briefly glanced down, noting the absence of her regalia before shrugging it off. "I don't know about that, but perhaps you should ask her yourself when you go to see her."

Twilight nodded, and the two of them lapsed into silence, just enjoying the company for the time. Before long though, the strange occurrence at the guard post sprang to Twilight's mind.

"Um... Princess, there was actually something I wanted to ask you about," She said, looking up at the alicorn who was currently massaging her forehead at the base of her horn. She glanced up at Twilight in askance, not ceasing her ministrations and wincing slightly.

"After the, um... the Incident, there was a strange phenomenon. I don't really know how to describe it. Best I can come up with is it was a massive wall of energy. When it hit me I stumbled but it passed through walls and objects with no effect. It happened without warning and didn't make a sound. Just a bright blue light and it washed over everything." For a moment she paused. The Princess had stopped rubbing her head and instead was looking very thoughtful. After a lull had passed, Twilight decided to prompt. "Do you have any idea what it was?"

"An idea, but nothing more. I will look into it, but please put it out of your mind. It will do you no good to dwell on it until we can gather more information." Luna glanced over to her bedside table. There stood a metal pitcher of water and a glass. She reached but it was just out of her grasp. Without a thought, she reached out with her magic and enveloped the pitcher. Suddenly and with no preamble the steel container crumpled as if it were made of paper, spraying water everywhere.

Luna just sat there, staring at the tiny crumpled ball of metal, completely nonplussed, water soaking her mane. Twilight was Likewise agape. Luna released her magic grip and the ball fell to the table with a solid thunk, their eyes following it as it rolled from the table and fell to the floor.

"Princess?"

"I... I don't know, Twilight." Slowly, she channeled magic into her horn again and reached for the ball. Gently as she could, she lifted it. It suddenly shot upwards and left a massive dent in the ceiling and Luna dropped it again with a surprised yelp. "Now... Isn't that something..." She looked over to Twilight who stared transfixed at the gouge in the ceiling. Luna could hear the gears turning in her head, see the ideas and theories shooting hither and yon. She drew a breath to speak when suddenly, she felt very lightheaded. Her vision began to fade slowly and she slumped back onto the pillow, still conscious, but only just. "I think I need some rest, Twilight. Why don't you go and see to your friends? I'll keep for the night."

"But... But Princess! What about the Pitcher?"

"I'll have the orderlies bring me a new one."

"You know what I mean," Twilight huffed.

"Yes. I do. I also know that without vigorous testing and numerous experiments, we won't know what we're dealing with. Go see your Friends. We'll crack this egg over breakfast." Luna's vision was beginning to clear as Twilight wrestled with her own curiosity. She looked over at the lavender mare and smiled. "It really is quite a tale that Rainbow will no doubt be bursting to share."

"Alright, but I'll be back first thing tomorrow, and you can bet your bottom bit that we're going to figure this out." Twilight stood and before she could stop herself, she wrapped her hooves around the Princess in a hug. "I'm glad you're okay Princess."

She pulled away and smiled. Luna flashed a smile of her own and Twilight departed leaving the princess alone in the room. As soon as the door snapped shut, she immediately turned her attention back to the little ball of metal on the floor. "How very peculiar... it's almost as if... No. It couldn't be." As she attempted to ponder on the possibilities, her head began to throb once more. Before long it was too much to think through and she simply shut her eyes and let herself drift off to sleep.

---

"And WOOSH! There I was! The stupid birdbrains didn't even know what hit them!" Rainbow Dash had come to soon after arriving in the Hospital and not long after, she was suddenly accosted by her friends. Pinkie Pie was, obviously, first and completely panic stricken when she arrived. She had brought along Fluttershy and Applejack, the former seeming to have been asleep moments before.

Now Dash was telling them the story of how she had single hoofedly dispatched a whole squad of gryphon Wing Knights.

"Man, Pinks! You should have seen me! These babies let me fly circles around those chumps!" She patted the mangled remains of her Mechanical Wings. A few stray pieces fell out and clinked to the ground which caused Rainbow's ears to fall back. "Sorry I got them all busted up..."

"Oh! It's okay Dashie! I can always make more and now that I know they work, you can tell me how they can be better and I can make them better and then you can fly better and everything will just be better! It's gonna be the Best!"

Rainbow smiled broadly and wrapped a bandaged hoof around Pinkie's withers. "You bet! And now that we know they work, I bet we get funding to build more and pay of your debt to Sepia if we ask Twilight!"

"Ask me what?" Twilight said, stepping into the room. "Actually, first, I need to ask you something. Why does everypony seem to think you can fly all of a sudden?"

Pinkie Chirped up at that with a broad smile. "Well that's Cause she can, silly! Why else?"

Twilight just shook her head. Typical Pinkie.

"That's right Twilight!" Rainbow declared, pulling the junked remains of the wings onto her lap. "Just like a pegasus, and it's all thanks to this!"

"It looks like a scrap heap in miniature..."

"Oh yeah?" Rainbow fiddled with the sides and pulled out the arms of the device. Suddenly Twilight's impression of the thing changed. Not a pile of junk, no. Rather it was an elegantly crafted, if heavily abused set of fully articulated wings. As the thing unfolded, her brain began piecing together the mechanics behind it.

She was on it in a trice, poking and pulling and inspecting every available inch, all the while loosing a barrage of questions. "How did you make this Dash? I was under the impression that you were mechanically illiterate, but this is genius level work here! I mean, if you were capable of building these, then what was I always fixing your old appliances for you?"

"Well, for starters, it wasn't me, It was Pinkie. She's the Egghead when it comes to machines."

If anything, this surprised Twilight even more. She stopped her inspections to look at Pinkie in wonder. "Well," Pinkie began. "None of my inventions ever sold but I do have over a dozen patents. The Party cannon, that has yet to be returned to me, might-I-add, was an invention of mine."

"What else don't I know about you Pinkie?"

Pinkie just shrugged.

"Sorry to butt in," Applejack said, moving forward and extending a hoof. "I don't think we've been prop'ly introduced. Name's Applejack, Co-Owner of Sweet Apple Acres."

"Oh! Right!" Twilight returned the hoofshake as she introduced herself as well. "Twilight Sparkle, Golden Oaks Librarian and Protege to the Princess. Come to think of it, We have met before. You sold me a bushel of apples on my first day here."

"Sorry Sugarcube. Ah sell a lot of apples, but Ah'll be glad to sell you some more if you ever want some."

Twilight looked past Applejack and spotted the last occupant of the room. Sitting with her back to the wall, Fluttershy cowered slightly when she noticed Twilight's attention had been drawn to her. "And you are?" Twilight asked receiving only a barely audible squeak from the shy yellow mare. "I'm sorry?"

"My name's Fluttershy, it's nice to make your acquaintance." She said again, louder this time, but still only just above a whisper.

Twilight turned to Applejack, wondering if she had done something wrong. Applejack just smiled. "Don't fret none. Fluttershy's just... well... Shy. She'll warm up to ya eventually. Ah mean, if she can be best friends with a mare like Rainbow..." Applejack let the statement hand and glanced over at Rainbow, who just stuck out her tongue.

After that, conversation began in earnest. Rainbow recounted her story for Twilight's benefit. She was still completely gobsmacked at the prospect of a personal flying device but she listened intently. Afterwards, she picked Pinkie's brain about the design, a mistake on all counts by her reckoning as it soon devolved into a discussion about baking.

Rarity entered just as Applejack had told everypony about how she had beaten Rainbow in the 'Ponyville Iron Pony Competition' and Rainbow was up, muzzle to muzzle with the cowpony, issuing one on one challenges.

"Am I interrupting? I can come back." Rarity said, a wry smirk on her face. Her eyes lit up as she spotted Fluttershy. "Oh! I didn't expect to see you here dear! How have you been?" Fluttershy trotted over to the alabaster mare, a smile on her face and her previously shy demeanor greatly reduced.

"Oh, I'm fine, thank you. I'm actually glad to see you just now. I need to push our get together back a few hours on Wednesday. Angle Bunny's quite ill and I need to take him down to the Veterinary clinic to get some prescription medicine for him." The two of them chatted for a moment before Twilight came up to them, causing Fluttershy to retreat back behind her mane, though not as deeply as before.

"Rarity, what are you doing here? It's two in the morning," Twilight asked her friend, noting the slight bags under her eyes.

"Oh, I know. I must look a fright, but I simply had to visit my dear brave Blueblood. He was aboard the Harmony too, and from what the guards tell me, he made a decent account of himself, though he'll never admit it. Anyway, I had heard that you were here visiting your friend Rainbow and I decided I would drop by and say hello, though I never expected our circles to overlap so completely." She paused for a moment before adding. "Though I suppose Pinkie doesn't count. She's everypony's friend."

Pinkie smiled and nodded vigorously, her hair bounding wildly about.

"But I digress. I also hear that we have Dear Rainbow Dash to thank for our princess' timely escape. You'll be a celebrity in no time, darling. I would expect you'll be needing a wardrobe for public appearances. Just stop by my shop and we can talk about fashion!" Rarity set a business card on the bedside table and turned to take her leave. "Oh! Twilight, after all of this stress, you should take a day for yourself. You're welcome to join Fluttershy and myself at the Spa. Aloe and Lotus are simply the best. Consider it won't you? Ta ta!"

---

After Rarity's brief visit, the group began to tire and soon everypony was taking their leave. Twilight was the last out, and she thanked Rainbow for saving the Princess. With a hug and a promise of further visits, she took her leave as well and trotted towards the library. It occurred to her that she had not been home in nearly a week and a half. She was looking forward to curling up in her bed so that she could wake up tomorrow and meet up with the Princess.

Her musings were brought up short when she spied the lights were on upstairs. Nopony was allowed upstairs, Booksmart knew that. She'd entrusted him with watching over the Library while she was away and one of the only rules outside of keeping up the library was to not go upstairs. Maybe some colt or filly sneaked up there and left the light on by mistake.

With an irritated huff, she trotted through the door and let it snap shut behind her. She was unpacking her bag when the sound of a hoof on wood caught her attention. She froze in place. This was Ponyville. It hadn't even occurred to her that it could be an intruder. Thinking as quickly as she could, she grabbed the stylized bust on the center table and creeped towards the stairs. More thumps and her heart was in her throat. At the top of the stairs, the hall split in two directions. Picking the left, Twilight began creeping along, the statue held aloft in one hoof.

Behind her, somepony spoke.

"I'm sorry to disturb you at this late hour, My Faithful Student, but I'm afraid something very odd has happened." Twilight turned and there stood Celestia, Her rose eyes locked onto hers.

Twilight Screamed.