• Published 18th Oct 2013
  • 1,542 Views, 60 Comments

Wings of Friendship - DemonBrightSpirit

Rainbow Dash is seriously hurt in a competition. Now it falls to her friends to pick up the shattered pieces. Can they do the impossible and get Rainbow Dash back in the sky where she belongs?

  • ...

Gleam and Grime

Applejack let herself into the Carousel Boutique. It didn't take her long to find the fashionista consumed with the seemingly arbitrary task of comparing two fabrics. "Howdy Rarity! Yah wanted me to stop by?"

"Oh, Applejack, darling," Rarity eagerly greeted. "I have wonderful news."

"Go on," Applejack urged.

"Why, just this morning Derpy delivered letters to me from Canterlot and the Crystal Empire," Rarity explained as she set the fabric aside and removed her work glasses.

"Derpy's back in town?"

Rarity considered it a moment with a touch of puzzlement in her expression. "It is odd that she disappears from time to time, isn't it? What makes it so juicy is that 'Doctor' fellow always seems to vanish around the same time. Talk about scandalous!" she gushed about the fresh gossip. Judging from the look on Applejack's face, she wasn't at all interested. Rarity dismissed it with a wave of her hoof. "Anyway, one of the letters I received from Derpy described the perfect material for Rainbow Dash's wing."

"Perfect, huh?" the farmer pony asked as she adjusted her hat. "I think I'll be the judge of that. Like I said before: above all it's gotta be sturdy."

"Applejack, this cloth not only shimmers marvelously, it makes your tarps seem as fragile as a wet tissue," Rarity haughtily claimed. "It's a Crystal Empire exclusive!" she enthused. "Only one pony in all of Equestria makes it. It's called 'crystalline cloth' and it is made from actual gemstones!"

Applejack cast a doubtful gaze at Rarity. "Gemstones? Like the ones yah use in yer dresses? How the hay do yah turn that into fabric? And wouldn't it be heavy 'n' brittle?"

"Well, there are a few issues with it," Rarity admitted. "It is heavy and not very flexible. The letter actually said that it was nearly impossible to work with, but it's not at all brittle. Somehow this weaver makes the crystals into threads and weaves them into nearly-indestructible cloth that shimmers in the light with beautiful reds, and greens, and blues, and yellows…"

"Yeah, yeah. It's pretty, I get that," Applejack dismissed. "It's just…aww, never mind. Yer the expert when it comes to this sort of thing. If you say it's the best material, I believe yah. Now what did yah need from me, sugarcube?"

"That, well…" Rarity started before sighing. "Like I said before, this cloth is exclusive. That means it is not only rare, it is expensive. Since the weaver uses gems to make the cloth, I hope to trade her gemstones for some of the crystalline cloth."

Applejack rolled her eyes. She knew where this was going. "Let me guess, you need somepony to help yah get a bunch of gemstones."

Rarity put on a squeeworthy smile. "It's not for me; it's for Rainbow Dash."

With a sigh and a shake of her head, she assuaged Rarity's trepidation. "I'd give yah a hoof either way. I know yah'd do the same for me…well, so long as it didn't involve yah gettin' dirty," Applejack joked.

"Let's meet on the edge of town in, say, an hour?" Rarity suggested. "I do need time to get ready, and I plan on asking Spikey-Wikey if he could help out as well."

"I'll bring one'a our apple wagons," Applejack offered as she turned to the door. "How big?"

Rarity considered it a moment before offering a sheepish smile. "Your biggest, this trip may get…a bit expensive."

An hour later, Rarity and Spike approached a waiting Applejack and Winona. Of course, Rarity sported a fashionable sunhat as well as a scarf. Spike just followed his not-so-secret crush as he lugged his little wagon behind him. Applejack, on the other hoof, was hitched up to three enormous apple carts. "'Bout time y'all got here! If I could find the gems on my own, Winona and I'd already be out there diggin'm up!"

"You know a lady absolutely has to look her best," Rarity asserted as she struck a pose to show off her accessories.

"Yeah? For who?" Applejack queried. "Ain't gonna be anypony out there to see yah."

Rarity just sighed as she led the way. "You just don't understand at all, do you?"

"Can't say that I do."

A short walk later and Rarity was using her magic to reveal gemstones hidden in the barren hills outside Ponyville. Spike worked with Winona to unearth the gems and load them into Spike's wagon. Using a bit of down home ingenuity, Applejack had lashed Spike's wagon to the last of her apple carts with a bit of rope. Even though they'd been at it for a while, only twice did Rarity stop using her gem finding spell to levitate a full wagon's worth of gems into one of the large apple carts. It didn't even fill the first apple wagon a quarter of the way.

"Does gem huntin' usually take this long?" Applejack asked.

Rarity rolled her eyes at the notion. "It's not like they grow on trees, darling. Though, admittedly, it usually doesn't take quite this long at all. Just one little wagon full is enough to supply me for weeks unless I have some outrageous order to fill.

Applejack sighed as she looked to the seemingly empty carts behind her. "Yah really think you'll need this much?"

"I just hope that it will be enough," Rarity replied as she continued to mark gem locations. "It's not just for the crystalline cloth. I intend to grab whatever fabrics I don't have on hoof at the boutique. Twilight Sparkle's magic seems to have interesting effects on different fabrics. I'm hoping the crystalline cloth will be perfect, but just in case I'm going to make a wing out of everything I can imagine."

The earth pony nodded in response. "I reckon that's a mighty sound idea. A great one, actually."

"I'm planning on going shopping in Canterlot first to see their fabrics and to purchase new sewing equipment," the Rarity voiced her plans. "I will need special ones just to work the crystalline cloth. Then it's off to the Crystal Empire to get the crystalline cloth and see if they have any other unique fabrics there. Oh! I wonder if the other girls would want to accompany me there. The Crystal Empire is just so gorgeous!"

"Yer really goin' all out for Dash, ain't yah?"

"Rainbow Dash would do no less for me," Rarity dismissed. "She did no less…" she added as a somber afterthought.

"Yeah," Applejack muttered. "Let's, uh—" she started before she was cut off by a choking dust eliciting a series of coughs. "Where'd this dang blasted wind come from!?" Applejack complained as she swiped at the dust with her Stetson. Looking through the dusty wind, she found Rarity staring off into the distance with a shocked expression. Following Rarity's gaze, she found a towering, swirling wind. "It's a twister!"

Unhitching herself, Applejack bucked the heavy wagons over onto their sides. "This'll be the best protection we got! Get in!" she ordered. Spike and Winona eagerly hid inside the overturned carts, but Rarity hesitated as she looked to the dirty, dusty shelter.

"You can't possibly expect me to—wah!" Not having time for Rarity's daintiness, Applejack shoved the overly prim-and-proper pony inside before turning the train of carts over one more time, sealing out the dust and wind as well as all the light. With a gentle sound, a blue light illuminated the overturned cart. "You didn't need to be so rough!" Rarity glared at Applejack.

Applejack rolled her eyes in turn. Knocking on the side of the cart, she called out, "You two all right over there!?"

"We're okay!" Spike voice replied accompanied by a bark. "Waah! Not okay! Not okay!"

Suddenly, the cart lifted straight up. Instead of a massive whirlwind, a behemoth of a beast stood there with the cart in its claw. The enormous devil-looking monster seemed to be made entirely of wind and dust. Its arms, legs, horns, torso…all of it seemed to be composed of spinning wind and dust. The only things not made of the whirling sands were two, enormous, glowing and red eyes that pierced the obfuscating dust. It dropped the carts as it bellowed an angry roar.

Applejack quickly stood in front of the cowering Rarity as Spike and Winona also sought shelter behind the hardy earth pony. "I don't know what yah are or what yah want, but I ain't about to let yah hurt nopony!" Spying a few gems that had spilled out, she tossed them into the air before whipping around bucking them at the beast. All of them were just swallowed up by whirling dust, not phasing the beast in the least.

"What is this horrid creature?" Rarity asked as the winds coming from the monster blew her sunhat and scarf away.

"It-it looks like a dust devil!" Spike replied.

"What's that? How do we fight it?" Applejack demanded.

Spike shook his head. "I don't know! You'd have to ask Twilight!"

The enormous, swirling devil turned back to the apple cart train and again lifted it with a single arm. This time, it set the train down on its wheels. Roaring, it pointed to the frightened group, to the cart, then finally towards Ponyville as it roared a warning again.

"I-I think it wants us to leave," Spike guessed.

Applejack nodded. "That's the feelin' I'm gettin', too."

"Well, too bad!" Rarity defied as she stood tall surprising Applejack and Spike.

The dust devil angrily roared at Rarity as it brought its enormous face near to Rarity's. Even though its glowing eye was bigger than Rarity, the unicorn didn't back down. She stayed tall as she stared down the monster. "Look here, you big, dust…thing! You might want us out of your mane and, ugh…we would love to get you out of ours," she grimaced as she ran a hoof through her dirty, frazzled mane. "Fact is: we can't. We need to collect these gems so that we can help our friend! We won't abandon her and we certainly won't be bullied by the likes of you!"

Roaring again, the dust devil rose to full stature once again. It looked over to the cart and the scattered gems that were rapidly being buried by the dusty wind. Giving out a grunt of frustration, it began to spin its entire body. In a matter of seconds it was again a towering funnel of wind, though its eyes still glowed through. They angrily flashed at Rarity before the twister shot away from the group. It approached a nearby, towering cliffside before the stirred dust obscured everypony's vision completely. After several moments the red, piercing eyes reappeared in front of the group. The dust slowly settled enough to reveal the dust devil once more in its anthropomorphic form. Once more it pointed a wispy claw at the train of carts before stepping aside and pointing behind itself.

"Oh my goodness!" Rarity gasped. There in the cliff were countless, enormous gemstones. The dust devil had eroded the solid rock away to reveal them.

The dust devil motioned to the cliff and the cart again before pointing back to Ponyville. The message was clear: take the gems and leave. To drive the point home, it roared again at the ponies.

"Thank you, mister dust devil," Rarity smiled at the monster as Applejack pulled the cart over to the cliffside. "We will go as soon as we gather them up." The dust devil nodded slowly and subtly in turn.

After positioning the carts, Applejack turned her flank to the cliffside. "Here goes somethin'!" she shouted as she apple-bucked the solid stone cliff. The gems loosened under the mighty blow and fell from the cliff into the wagons. Those that missed the wagon were quickly gathered up by Spike and Winona as Applejack moved the carts down alongside the cliff to hit the next spot. Repeating the process just a few times and the carts were overflowing with gems that, not only made Spike drool, but made Rarity's eyes dazzle. A few of the gemstones were nothing short of magnificent—some even as large as Spike.

A growling noise brought the quartet's attention back to the dust devil as it motioned again towards Ponyville. "Thank you, for letting us gather these," Rarity appreciated as they started walking back towards home. The beast made a rumbling sound in return, happy that the intruders were leaving.

Of course, the entire trip back to Ponyville Rarity tried to primp her mane back to its usual glory. She just couldn't get much done at all with the dust and dirt gumming up her follicles. "Applejack, I absolutely must go back to my boutique and fix this…disaster," she fretted with her mane.

"I think we could all use a good, long bath," Applejack agreed.

"Yes, well…after I finish cleaning up I think I shall go to the train station to get tickets," Rarity stated. "Would you care to accompany me to Canterlot and the Crystal Empire?

Applejack raised an inquisitive eyebrow. "Me? I wouldn't mind, I suppose. But yah know that dress shops and all that ain't exactly my idea of a good time."

"We could visit whatever shops you would like to peruse as well," Rarity offered.

"That's mighty kind of yah," Applejack smiled. "I suppose Big Mac could pick up the slack for a day or two—especially if it gives me the opportunity to sell some apples in Canterlot and the Crystal Empire.

"Um…well, actually," the unicorn fumbled. "I was hoping you could continue to carry that," she motioned to the carts full of gems. "It looks rather heavy."

Applejack just sighed as she rolled her eyes.