• Published 14th Apr 2012
  • 7,512 Views, 340 Comments

Daring Do and the Secret of the Fourth Wall - Ultra-the-HedgeToaster



Thrust into the world of her favorite book-series, Rainbow Dash finds herself dragged along for the ride of Daring Do's latest adventure. However, for Rainbow Dash, breaking the fourth wall may very well prove to be a learning experience.

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Chapter 1 - Welcome to the jungle


DARING DO AND THE SECRET OF
THE FOURTH WALL


This story is also available as a "synthesized" audio book. MP3-downloads are available on chapter-release.

> [click here] - Chapter 1, no background music
> [click here] - Chapter 1, with ambient music loop

> [overview of all chapters]

DISCLAIMER:
This story was conceived long before the episodes "Daring Don't" and "Power Ponies".

For the sake of this story, Daring Do remains a fictional character. Also, there is no such thing as a store selling "enchanted" comic-books. Chronologically, this story takes place in the middle of season 3.


Rainbow Dash groaned, rubbing the back of her head. What exactly had just happened?

Her whole skull was throbbing something fierce, as if she'd crashed headfirst into a brick-wall at rainboom-speeds.

The last thing she could remember was flying into Sugar Cube Corner to get the new book back from Pinkie Pie. Then there had been a shout – something about a cake, maybe – but anything after that was a blank.

Since when was Pinkie into Daring Do's adventures, anyway?

With a grunt, Dash brought a hoof to her left ear. The headache was bad enough, and the ringing in her ears made it hard to understand what the other pony was saying.

She opened her eyes, only to shut them again immediately. Why were there paper and squiggly lines everywhere?

“Hello? Are you alright?” The voice sounded familiar, though she couldn't quite place it.

“Yeah, uh, I think I hit my head on something,” Dash replied intelligently.

She sat up, steadying herself on muddy ground.

“Wait, what's this dirt doing on the floor of Sugar Cube Corner?” Dash blearily opened her eyes. Her sight still blurry, she could just barely make out the colorful shape of a pony in front of her, but the dancing squiggly lines were gone.

“Sugar cube – what?” the pony in front of her asked.

All she could recognize for the time being was an outstretched gold-yellow hoof.

“Pinkie Pie's hooves aren't yellow,” was the first thought her thoroughly rattled brain cobbled together, swiftly succeeded by the realization of “that's not Mister Cake”.

Only then, the actual words the pony had said registered. “What do you mean, 'Sugar Cube what'?”

Finally, her sight cleared. The other mare was indeed of a golden hue, and a pair of wings sticking out the sides of a leaf-green jacket identified her as a pegasus. Seemingly out of place in the moderate climate of Central Equestria, she wore a tropical helmet.

The other pony's most distinct feature however, were her mane and tail – five different shades of gray, and a streak of dark black. Dash recognized her immediately.

“DARING DO!?” she blurted out.

Dash just gaped.

What she saw was impossible.

She had read every book from start to finish dozens of times, including the editorials and back-covers to get a glimpse on future installments of the series.

Not only that, but she was also a proud subscriber of the “Daring Daily”, going so far as to borrow Twilight's old copies for reading material in-between book-releases.

She had practically devoured the fifteen-page article “Daring to Do the impossible”, describing how the anonymous author had come to write “Daring Do” in the first place.

Anything there was to know about the series, she knew it. First and foremost, the most important fact: Daring Do wasn't real!

And yet here she was – her favorite fictional character, the protagonist of sixteen adventures and counting, in the flesh and very real indeed.
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The cerulean pegasus was now just staring at her as if she had seen a ghost.

Granted, Daring Do was a bit spooked herself. The similarities in appearance were eery!

The twisted rainbow-reflection of her own mane taken aside, they shared the same athletic body-type, even the same facial structure. Stars above, for all she knew, this could be her long-lost twin-sister!

The pony seemingly had appeared out of thin air – a few meters to the left, and the mare would've dropped straight on her head. She'd not even seen her coming! This couldn't have been a coincidence.

Her first suspicions were confirmed when the pony stopped talking nonsense about “sugar cubes” and revealed that she knew the adventurer's name.

Eyes narrowed, she pointed an accusing hoof at the mare. “Okay, now I'd really like to know. Who in Celestia's name are you?”

For a few moments longer, the other pegasus gaped at her, jaw hanging open in a comical expression. When she snapped out of it, her next words made even less sense.

“This isn't possible! How can you be Daring Do!? You don't exist! And I should know! I'm your biggest fan!”

Daring was taken aback by the distraught mare's nonsensical ramblings. Her eyes seemed to flash through a spectrum of emotions even more colorful than her rainbow-mane, all in the blink of an eye. There was disbelief, excitement, confusion, adoration, amazement, disorientation, fear.

Sure, she knew her reputation had become somewhat of a “legend” among certain circles, but statements like “you don't exist” and “I'm your biggest fan” generally excluded each other.

Well, didn't seem likely she worked for Ahuizotl, at any rate.

Seeing the pony smack a hoof across her own face, Daring Do shook her head. Walking over to the mare, Daring placed a hoof on her right shoulder. The pegasus looked up, while still mumbling something that vaguely sounded like ”I don't feel asleep” and “this can't be real”.

“Look, I don't know what you've heard about me, but let me assure you, reports of me being a 'legend' have been greatly exaggerated.” She put a hoof to her chin, pondering for a bit. “Or just not been recorded very accurately.”

“I've read all your books!” The mare shot back her response.

“My... books?” Daring Do raised an eyebrow. Sure, she had published quite a number of articles for archaeologist magazines – but a whole book? Not so much. Adventuring was a full-time job, writing a book would only get in the way of that.

Was the mare referring to her articles? But if so, how could she have doubts about her existence?

“Yeah, totally! 'Daring Do and the Quest for the Sapphire Stone' and 'Daring Do and the Griffon's Goblet' were my first ones.” The pegasus' mood suddenly shifted completely, as she practically squealed: “That was sooo awesome!”

Now it was Daring's turn to gape in shocked disbelief.

Within a split-second, Daring Do was up in the other pony's face, glaring her right in the eye. “How do you know of the Goblet? Who told you? Who else knows?”

The pegasus sunk back on her hindquarters, blinking a couple of times. It was only now she seemed to realize she had said something wrong.

“Uh... I read your books?” she hesitantly repeated her previous statement, giving an awkward smile and shuffling her hooves on the ground uncomfortably.

“Fine, whatever.” Daring gave an audible sigh. She wasn't gonna get any reasonable response from this oddball, at least not right away. She resigned not to press the issue further and to keep an eye on her for the time being.

“So, just who are you anyway?”

At this, the rainbow-maned pegasus visibly brightened as she leapt a few feet in the air, flying a quick loop before striking a pose.

“I'm Rainbow Dash.” She grinned, then leaned back casually against empty air. “Only, you know, the fastest young flyer in Equestria.”

Daring Do cocked an eyebrow. “Okay, Rainbow Dash – and what are you doing here, so far from home?”

Dash dropped her confident pose.

“What.”

Then she looked around, taking in her surroundings, as if only just noticing them for the first time, before stating the obvious with not a single trace of sarcasm.

“We're in a jungle.”

This time, both of Daring's eyebrows shot up.

She had been following a trail deep into the heart of the Mareican jungle for weeks now. There was no civilization to be found for miles. There was no way this pony could just have crash-landed in the middle of the jungle without ever glancing down at it during flight.

Turning back was definitely not an option. She was just about to make a breakthrough, she could feel it! Even by flight, getting this “Rainbow Dash” someplace safe wasn't gonna happen until she got her hooves on the artifact.

Daring Do gave a reluctant sigh.

If anything, the company of this pony was going to be... interesting.
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Dash silently cursed to herself. The entire absurdity of the situation totally had made her lose her cool. And in front of Daring Do, of all ponies!

Okay, it still made no sense she was even having a conversation with her in the first place, but if she got to introduce herself to her favorite fictional character, she darn-well wanted to make a good first impression!

Obviously, she had failed spectacularly.

Regardless, the adventurer had let her come along, on grounds of “I don't have time to get you back to wherever you came from”. It was absolutely embarrassing, and Dash had to grit her teeth just thinking about it.

Following Daring Do's lead through the thick underbrush, she took a closer look at her surroundings.

In the past, she and her friends had ventured into the dangerous grounds of the Everfree Forest near Ponyville a number of times. As such, she had at least some experience with the wild.

Still, this was different.

Huge leaves brushing against her sides, she was trotting on uneven ground, roots stretching all over the soil like veins. Unfamiliar animal noises could be heard in the distance, exotic birds calling out nearby. She found herself surrounded by massive trees that easily dwarfed Ponyville's Golden Oak Library, and some enormous plants which surprisingly enough resembled giant mushrooms.

The treetops blocked out the sky almost completely. Slivers of sunlight shined through the thicket of leaves, bathing everything in an eery green-brown-ish aura. This made the whole scene even more surreal than it already was.

It certainly didn't help her settle in with her new surroundings that the air was dripping with heat, staining her coat with sweat. Or perhaps that was due to the increased humidity. Probably both.

Once again, her thoughts ran wild. How did she get here? How could this be possible? Where had Daring Do come from? How could she be real? Was this really happening?

A nasty thought struck Rainbow Dash.

She faltered, nearly stumbling over another tree-root, barely catching herself in time. Perhaps she really had hit her head on something. Hit it hard. Really hard. Perhaps she was imagining the whole thing, and back in reality, her body lay unconscious in Ponyville Hospital with her friends worrying their own little heads off for her well-being.

Dash shuddered – it was a frightening thought.

If she was actually in a really really deep sleep and couldn't tell fantasy from reality, then how could she be sure she would ever –

“Ouch!”

Her left front-hoof instantly snapped to the back of her neck, where the stinging sensation had come from. As she pulled it back, she saw a red-brown mush and the sorry remains of a squashed insect.

“Okay, now I'm imagining myself getting shaken out of my thoughts about imagining the whole thing by an imaginary mosquito,” Dash mumbled to herself. Admittedly, that seemed off. If this was a dream, it was certainly the darn-most realistic one she'd ever had in her life.

Her train of thought was interrupted yet again when Daring Do turned to address her.

“Alright, this is where we'll stay for the night.”

Nightfall came quick in the jungle. Dash couldn't tell for certain how long she had been out cold, but she was pretty sure that it hadn't been an entire day. Her internal clock thrown off and her mind still ablaze with questions, sleep would not come easy.

Alright. She had accepted that this was for real. Daring Do was fast asleep right next to her in the cave.

So, Daring Do was real. Wow... That was quite something to wrap your head around!

Next issue – she was in a jungle. According to Daring Do, she wasn't even in Equestria anymore. Mareican jungle – never heard of that. Couldn't recall seeing it on any maps either. The name sounded familiar, though.

How she had gotten here? No clue. How to get back? Equally clueless. Lots and lots of flying until she got back to Ponyville. Or at least some of the outer settlements in Equestria, then hitch a train-ride back home.

She'd have to ask Daring Do for a map or something tomorrow.

Idly, she rubbed her neck with a hoof.

Hold on – why was she thinking about going home?

This was an opportunity! Daring Do had offered her to come along – admittedly not on the best terms imaginable – but it wasn't like she'd ditch the once-in-a-lifetime-chance to team-up with the mare of adventure herself!

But her grin slid right off her face once more as her thoughts drifted back to her friends. They must have been worried sick, with no clue of where she had suddenly disappeared to.

Dash sighed. She'd at the very least have to send them a message, somehow. Then, in good conscience, she could go on her adventure with Daring Do and find her way back to Ponyville afterwards.

As soothing moonshine pierced its way into the cave, Dash realized how late it had gotten. Involuntarily, she yawned, as she looked up at the lunar orb above.

And then her entire world came crashing down.

The Mare in the Moon was back.
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Author's Note:

Thanks to Litho and DCLeadboot for help with editing. :pinkiesmile:

Chapter 1 revision performed: December 2015. Only major difference narrative-wise being the reveal in the last line happening early.