• Published 6th May 2012
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Space Captain Pinkie Pie - terrycloth



Rainbow Dash reveals the little-known fact that pegasi can survive in outer space.

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21: Chasing Rainbows

Rainbow Dash and Derpy swooped down the length of the ramp that led from the Here to Help to the edge of the moon, then up the slight upturn at the mountain range at the end, and off into empty space. Rainbow spread her wings to fall slowly out of habit, although with the lack of wind resistance up here it didn’t really matter how fast she was falling when she messed around with a scrap of paper. “Ramp looks good,” she wrote, “see you tomorrow night!”

Then she turned to face the planet below, and went into a power-dive, wings buzzing like a bumblebee’s as she dared gravity to give her more speed than she could handle. Derpy followed close behind, riding in her wake.

Equestria was so colorful tonight – Canterlot surrounded by a purple dome, Manehattan in green, Cloudsdale in yellow, and the other major cities’ glow visible faintly through the winter cloud-cover. That was probably their fault, although it made her proud to be a pony to see Equestria come up with an anti-moon-cannon defense so quickly. Maybe she was wrong about them sending up the guard right away – if they were focusing on defense…

No, no, there they were. Dozens of them – maybe all of them. They spotted her, too, and shifted formation into a layered intercept cube – a spiky maze of spears and hooves and wing-blades that only an idiot would try to fly through… if they weren’t as awesome as Rainbow Dash. Flying around it would mean losing most of her speed advantage, and more importantly, wouldn’t be nearly as humiliating for the huge, clumsy stallions who thought they could tussle with Equestria’s best flyer in the air.

Just in case, she ducked her head down to fetch the little portable lightning spear Chance had given her, holding it in her mouth, tongue resting on the trigger button. A normal lightning spear would never get through the Royal Guard’s armor, but this one somehow formed a zap two inches from the spear’s tip through some weird moon magic that even Twilight hadn’t understood. She could keep it entirely inside her mouth if she wanted to surprise some pony… she wasn’t doing that, but she could have.

Before she knew it, she was on top of them, and oh my Celestia did those spears and wing blades look sharp! A shiver of fear ran through her – no, no, not fear. Tactical concern. But it was too late to change tactics, all she could do was –

--over in seconds. Behind her, lightning crackled from the tumbling Guards she’d tagged with her lightning-spear in passing, arcing from pony to pony, mostly deflected by the armor but blinding every pony and sending the whole formation into disarray. Rainbow fell, inverted, and waggled one wing, then the other, to reassure herself that she hadn’t lost anything important. Her tail wasn’t important, and she still had the fleshy part. The rest would grow back. And that slash on her side was already freezing over.

Ponyfeathers, that had been a stupid stunt. Awesome, but stupid.

Derpy came tumbling out of the cluster-buck a few seconds later, crackling with lightning like the mother of all thunderclouds, and was she shooting lightning bolts at the guards with punches and kicks from all four hooves, like some sort of kung-fu thunderbird? Yes. Yes she was. That girl was crazy with the lightning. Good to see her using her powers for good for once.

Rainbow waited for Derpy to form up with her, then went back to her power-dive. A few of the guard peeled off to follow them, but a tail-chase was just a race, and no pony out-raced Rainbow Dash!

It looked like the bulk of the enemy were still heading for the moon, though. They were definitely going to arrive before it was time to launch the Here to Help. Could Twilight really hold off the entire Royal Guard? Rainbow grinned. Of course she could. That girl was a monster.

===

Tess grumbled as the screen she was trying to repair still showed static. “It looks like Pinkie’s moon-sculpting managed to knock loose three of our probes, but I’m still getting a signal from the fourth,” she explained, when Pinkie and Twilight looked up from their own work to see what was wrong. “I just can’t get this piece of junk to decode it. It’s like everything that was connected to anything that Derpy touched is permanently broken.”

“She tends to have that effect,” Twilight said, turning back to the tiny bathroom mirror she was trying to remember how to enchant. “Maybe I’ll remember enough of my captromancy class to get this working before you,” she said, levitating the ‘grease pencil’ to write another sequence of runes around the edge of the mirror.

“So they teach how to make those magic mirrors in magic school?” Tess asked. “It’s not a lost art?”

“It’s an obscure art,” Twilight replied, concentrating on the runes. Was it ‘A-C-T-A’ or ‘A-T-C-A’ as the base sequence for the refractory compensation spell?

“Why?” Tess asked. “They seem incredibly useful. A pair of them could let two ponies talk to each other across an arbitrary distance, and they don’t even have to be permanently linked.”

“Modern safety regulations require an enchanted mirror to be completely destroyed no later than twenty four hours after first use,” Twilight recited. “That makes it an expensive hobby.”

Tess poked at something inside the screen she was working on with a screwdriver, and sparks flew out of the access panel. She hissed in slight frustration. “The mirrors in the moon city were still working just fine after thousands of years.”

Twilight laughed. “I think the safety regulations might be a little overzealous.” She frowned, looking at the machine Tess was working on. “Was that lightning?”

“Kind of,” Tess said. “Everything on the ship runs on electricity, which is… you probably know what it is since there’s a word for it. Right?”

“Oh!” Twilight said. “I thought it might have been Derpy’s fault. She’s always been bad with lightning, and if she infected all your little machines with lightning, that could explain why they aren’t working. But if it was supposed to do that, then maybe I was just jumping to conclusions.”

“No, it wasn’t supposed to do that,” Tess said. “If it was infected with lightning, how would I fix it?”

“Well, if it already had lightning – sorry, ‘electricity’ -- inside it, then it’s probably not ‘infected with lightning’ so much as that the electricity was accidentally stabilized for transport, like a pegasus-made cloud is stabilized mist,” Twilight said, considering the problem. “So, the best solution would be to get a pegasus to kick it.”

“We’re kind of out of pegasi,” Tess noted.

“Do you have a cloud-kicking spell?” Pinkie Pie asked, not looking up from her own mirror. She’d been staring into it for a while, as if she could turn it into a magic mirror through sheer force of will. To be fair, she’d had exactly as much success that way as Twilight had had with her magic.

Twilight shrugged, and her horn glowed for a few seconds. With a snap, a purple aura flashed around Tess, then faded. “Try that.”

“Ask next time?” Tess said, staring at her feet and wiggling her toes, then at her hands since the aura had covered her whole body. She looked up at the still static-filled screen, and smacked it firmly on the side. There was a snap, and a blue flash, and she pulled her hand back, hissing in pain, but the screen did clear up, showing a familiar view of the planet below.

“Yay!” Pinkie Pie said.

“Crap,” Tess said, leaning closer, then zoomed in on a small section of the screen. “Are those what I think they are?”

Pinkie Pie and Twilight crowded around her screen. “Do you think they’re a bunch of pigeons?” Pinkie Pie asked. “Because they’re not. See the little spears?”

“It’s the Royal Guard,” Twilight said, eyes wide. “The whole Royal Guard! Or at least, all the pegasi. Oh, I hope Rainbow and Derpy got past them safely.”

Tess stared at them for a few seconds, then shrugged. “I don’t think spears are going to get through the hull. We might be able to just sit tight and ignore them.”

“That many pegasi could carry the Here to Help back to Canterlot with them,” Twilight said. “Or drop it in a volcano!” she added when Pinkie seemed to be considering that option.

“Right. Because hauling weight is easier than lifting it,” Tess said, with a scowl. “And it’s not like they won’t guess where we’re hiding – the ship sticks out like a sore thumb even if it didn’t have a giant ramp pointing to it. Where else would they even look for us?”

“I think I have an idea,” Pinkie Pie said. “But it might need a little help from Twilight.”

===

Sharp Wing strained his aching muscles as he led his guards up past the edge of the moon. They hadn’t been surprised by the moon’s quick motion – they’d mostly matched lateral velocity about an hour ago – but the brief tussle with those two targets had put them off schedule just enough to make the home-stretch a struggle. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw pegasus after pegasus slam into the sloped, dusty plain, unable to keep aloft any longer. Soon enough, it was his turn, and he gave a silent grunt as he tried to keep his feet under him to cushion the impact.

After his bones stopped aching and his ears stopped ringing, he waggled his wings in Modified Military Horse Code, to order the rest of his guard to form up for a roll call. Eighty eight left. That was actually pretty good, considering they’d had to make a twenty four hour flight straight up, then fight a battle against a pair of insane lightning-throwing quasi-pony monsters at the end of it! And he knew at least half of the missing twelve were only absent because they’d turned to chase Rainbow Dash – their first priority was securing the moon cannon, but keeping up the pressure on Twilight’s cohorts was probably worth peeling off a squad, even if, in the chaos, he hadn’t had a chance to actually give the order.

It occurred to him that this was where Shining Armor would give an inspiring speech, but buck that to Tartarus. No pony was going to be inspired by horse code. “Let’s go,” he signaled, “spread out and signal if you see anything suspicious.”

The guards took off, and skimmed the surface of the moon, dodging past the strange statues and dioramas that made up the hidden landscape of Luna’s celestial body. It wasn’t long before one of the scouts near the edge of the flock signaled, and soon most of the guard was gathered around a swirling circle of brilliant lights, like a swarm of fireflies hovering over a random spot near the top of a strangely out-of-place, normal-looking hill sitting innocently amidst the endless statue garden. Sharp Wing ordered one of the rookies to fly into the swarm, and sure enough, he vanished – and reappeared a few seconds later. They’d found the entrance!

Some pony else signaled about a strange building farther up, at the very top of the moon, so Sharp Wing sent a squad to check it out, but it was obvious that this teleport ring was the real prize.

===

-Well, it looks like most of them fell for it,- Chance sent, from his hastily chosen hiding place underneath the ship.

-Where have you been?- Tess demanded.

-I’ve been looking for stuff we want to take with us that was lying around outside, since we’re leaving tomorrow,- he replied.

-Right. Gathering moondust. I should have known. Well, the camera’s still derped, so I guess you can fill in. How bad is it?-

-Looks like six,- he replied. -I could take them all out before they knew what was happening, but the other eighty would notice, and some of them probably know enough about snipers not to glide over slowly in plain view like these idiots.-

-Also, the locals would go ballistic if you started killing ponies.-

-Yeah,- Chance said, -and it would be wrong.- After a pause, he shared a laugh with Tess. -Seriously, what’s the plan?-

-Aren’t you the captain?- Tess asked.

-And here I thought it was Pinkie Pie,- Chance replied. -I thought all of you in there might have an overall plan, since you did that thing with the lights without consulting me.-

- It was kind of spur of the moment,- Tess said. -I think the rest of the plan is to sit tight and hope they give up and go get lost in the moon city. They’re probably not going to get through the hull with spears and hooves, but if they worked together they could screw up our launch.-

-So basically, don’t get caught or call attention to myself. -

-Yeah,- Tess said. -Is that really so much to ask?-

-But it’s boring,- Chance whined.

===

It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair at all! The guards were catching up, and it wasn’t just because she was dragging along Derpy. The spin-vortex she’d created to give her companion more of a boost was a bit of a drag, but even if she’d decided to throw Derpy to the wolves, those overgrown stallions would still have been overtaking her. Her! Rainbow Dash!

It was all space’s fault. The guards’ giant wings gave them extra thrust, and the advantage Rainbow would normally have from her smaller cross section didn’t matter since there was no air resistance. It didn’t help that the Royal Guard was an elite unit that had its pick of the best stallions in Equestria for its ranks, and that these six had probably been selected from among them as the ones to chase down the fastest flier in the universe, but those were fair advantages. The space thing was the cheating part.

There was also the wound in her side, which kept breaking open and bleeding, and was making that wing a little stiff. Also a total cheat – Derpy got through untouched, so one of them must have gotten awfully lucky to lay a wing on Rainbow.

Well, if she couldn’t outrun them, she was going to have to kick some Royal Buttheads, preferably in the face. She could take them, there were only six armed and armored, highly trained soldiers. She had a black belt in kung fu! Did they have black belts? No! They were gold-plated, jewel-encrusted and enchanted armored belts. And the miniature lightning-spear – their spears didn’t have any lightning, just razor-sharp steel tips and an extra three feet of reach.

She also had the little mouth-held ray gun that Chance had forced her to take, but there weren’t any chariots or doors to zap. She considered trying to blast their spears or something, but there was too much risk she’d accidentally hit one of them. She didn’t know what being zapped by a little ray gun would do to a pegasus, but she was pretty sure it would scar her and Derpy for life if they ever found out. So, yeah, that was staying in its holster.

Which left hoof, hoof, hoof, hoof, and lightning-spear. She spread her wings to brake, and flipped to face the guards. “Let’s do this!” she mumbled around her weapon, not that any pony could hear her in space anyway.

The guards spread their own wings, and slowed down, pacing her.

“What’s wrong? Not stallion enough to hit a filly?” she snapped at them, pointlessly, since no pony could hear her.

That was when she noticed that all their eyes had been replaced by little pink hearts. Right. That.

“Good going, Twilight,” Rainbow said to herself. “Way to ruin my fun.”

===

“HA HA HA HA HA! The Great and Powerful Trixie greets her future friends and comrades! With Trixie as your leader, nothing shall stop the power of Harmony!” Fireworks shot into the air, as the starry-cloaked mare reared up dramatically onto her hind legs.

“You have got to be kidding me,” Rarity said to Shining Armor, as Fluttershy cowered behind Applejack.

“You asked if we knew any unicorns whose special talent was magic,” Applejack said, scowling. “You could have mentioned what you were planning to do with ‘em.”

“We need to replace the missing Elements of Harmony,” Shining Armor said to the assembled ponies. “Trixie will stand for the element of magic, and Cherry Berry here will be the new element of laughter.”

The hot pink, yellow-maned earth pony looked a bit overwhelmed by the revelation. “I’m not sure I really want in on the craziness these ponies always get sucked into,” she said. Shining Armor glowered at her. “But it beats getting dragged to the moon in a pegasus-powered death-trap!” she added quickly. “I know some great jokes, don’t worry,” she said to the others. “This mule and this donkey were trapped on a desert island…”

“Later,” Shining Armor said, cutting her off. “And I, of course, will represent Loyalty.”

“Uh huh,” Applejack said. “What exactly are you bein’ loyal too now, by forcing every pony to turn on Twilight?”

“I’m loyal to many things,” Shining Armor said. “My oath and my honor, first of all. The Principality of Equestria. The princesses. And then, my family. We need to stop Twily, but I refuse to see it as a betrayal! The longer this goes on, the worse things will be for her.”

“I notice ‘your friends’ wasn’t very high on that list,” Applejack said. “You do know those trinkets you’re carrying work on friendship, right?”

“Not to mention that… incident with the Changelings,” Rarity said.

“I was mind-controlled!” Shining Armor yelled, stomping a hoof. “That doesn’t count!”

Fluttershy squeaked, and buried her face in one of her wings.

“The Great and Powerful Trixie senses a few neighsayers spreading discord among the new Elements of Harmony!” Trixie proclaimed, interposing herself between Shining Armor and Rarity. “Fear not! For Trixie has studied the writings of the former element of magic, Twilight Sparkle, and concocted a plan.”

“Does this plan involve finding a new element of magic that we don’t already intensely dislike?” Rarity asked. “Perhaps one who can refer to herself in the first person?”

“It does not!” Trixie replied, tossing her mane imperiously. “In order to turn hatred into harmony, there is only one solution. Trixie and her new best friends must have… a sleepover!” Fireworks shot into the air to punctuate her revelation.

Rarity and Applejack looked at each other. “Eh,” Applejack said, “Couldn’t hurt.”