• Published 9th Jan 2015
  • 4,791 Views, 342 Comments

Hold Your Color - Quillery

The fate of colors in Equestria are in Dash's hooves as an ancient artifact tied to her family is stolen. Old enemies are rising from the darkness, vying for her life, and time is running out.

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Top of the World

Hold Your Color
by Quillery

Suggestions, Editing and Pre-Reading by :
Siyray, Willsons, Izraill Z, BabySkittleMonster, Legion222, Dreamshadow, edensbane, amacita

Chapter One
Top of the World

Few things could build up adrenaline better for Rainbow Dash than a good natured wager. There was rarely a time she would turn down a challenge, and when there was cider on the line, her determination to win had no limit. She shot through the sky like a spear, lancing through clouds that hung over the Ponyville swimming hole.

She grit her teeth, throwing her weight into each strike as the pesky clouds exploded into bursts of water. She glanced briefly at the crowds gathered around the edge of the pond, cheering her on as she went. Her eyes found a single pony within the crowd. She was staring up at Dash in the sky, a smug grin on her face as she held a watch in one hoof, and a stein in the other. She shook her head and shouted, “Yer runnin’ outta time, Dash! You’d better hurry if ya want this cider!”

Dash smirked as she popped three more clouds with a single thrust of her wings. “Don’t you worry, Applejack! I’ll be drinking that cider in no time, just you watch!”

She cackled with glee as she snapped her wings to her side and barrelled down towards the final set of clouds just above the pond. She could hear her name being chanted by the onlookers below, and that only drove her further, faster. The clouds grew as she rapidly approached them. In an instant, her mind plotted the most ideal route to their demise.

She swung out her forelegs and sent her body into a spin. The world rotated around her, but her path was perfectly centered on the clouds. She spun faster and faster, like a cyclone bearing down from the sky towards the ground. At the last second, just before impact, she thrust her wings open.

The air around her whirled into a violent torrent. It lashed at the clouds as she passed through them. They detonated and sprinkled their watery contents into the sky from the turbulent wind emanating from Dash.

She laughed and flared her wings as she came out the other side of what used to be a tightly packed bundle of clouds, and was now nothing but a spray of mist in the air. She glanced towards the crowd. “Like I said, Applejack!” she shouted. “Easy peasy.”

She blinked a moment later, as she noticed the crowd, including Applejack, were upside down. They were shouting, but not with excitement, but worry. She craned her neck back to her trajectory, and saw a rapidly approaching pond just in front of her.

“Oh, ponyfeath—”

There was a tremendous splash as Dash struck the surface of the water. She felt the sting of the water against her open wings. It was a feeling akin to slamming into a stone wall, and the ache set in immediately. After that, she felt the torrents of water closing in all around her, tossing her around like a ragdoll.

After a while, the water calmed and Dash was able to find her balance again. She floated under the surface a moment, waiting for her head to clear. She stared upwards through the water at the ponies standing at the water’s edge. Rays of sunlight poured into the depths of the water, illuminating the smiling faces of all Rainbow Dash could see. Her thoughts, however, were clouded, as in spite of the joy she witnessed, worry gripped at her. Her vision might have been blurred by the water, but that should not have affected her ability to see color. Under the water, all she could see was grey, cold and lifeless, in all the ponies looking down into the depths at her.

She shook her head as she felt her lungs gasping in her chest for fresh air. She kicked her legs and broke the surface, gasping in a huge gulp of air. After a moment of heavy breathing, she opened her eyes, staring into the sky, bright and blue; color had returned. She turned around to find the crowd on the beach, dripping wet, staring in awe at her. Applejack was busy wringing out her hat and brushing away her soaking mane from her eyes.

Dash blinked as a stomping noise started from the crowd. It was a gradual sound at first, a it slowly overtook every pony in attendance as they started to cheer and shout Rainbow Dash’s name. In that moment of praise, the strange feeling that struck Dash’s core had faded. She shook it off. Nothing but adrenaline, she thought.

“Yeehaw!” Apple Bloom said, appearing by her sister’s side. She sported a bright red inner tube around her waist and a pair of diving goggles on her forehead. “The swimmin’ hole’s open!” The little filly darted towards the beach and took to the air with a great leap. She curled herself into a ball and crashed into the water, not far from where Dash was floating.

Dash shrugged to avoid the splash, but it wasn’t long until other ponies began diving into the water. She kicked her legs furiously, weaving through the cannon balls that assaulted her and doused her repeatedly with more water. By the time she made it to the beach, she was only able to crawl from the churning surf. Her wings were sore, her lungs were burning, and her legs felt like rubber. She could barely lift her head as she tried to walk away, only to bump into something.

She struggled to look up, and just barely made out Applejack’s face, looking down at her with a smirk. “Havin’ yer fun in the sun yet, Dash?”

Dash let out a wheeze. “Whew! Do you have any idea how hard it is to swim with wet feathers? I might as well weigh as much as Big Mac.”

Applejack raised an eyebrow. “Are you implyin’ my brother’s fat?”

Dash rolled her eyes and screwed up her nose at Applejack. She tightened her voice into a drawl. “I ain’t implyin’ nothin’. Now where’s that cider ya’ll promised me?”

Applejack guffawed. She lifted the watch. Its hands were perfectly lined up on the twelve, except for the second hand, which stopped five seconds past. Dash’s heart sank. “I… I lost the bet?”

Applejack nodded grimly. “Eeyup. Looks like this cider’s stayin’ with me.”

Dash collapsed to her haunches. “B-but… my cider…”

Applejack started laughing. Dash looked up and saw her withdrawing the stein and placing it on the ground in front of her. “Oh here, ya big galoot. I was gonna give it you ya anyways.”

Dash raised an eyebrow. “But...I lost. You bet me I couldn’t clear all the clouds around the pond in ten seconds flat, and I didn’t.”

“Well, to be honest, I didn’t think you’d be able to clear all of it in twenty. That had to have been a full acre or two of clouds to break!”

“It was more like three. Don’t forget the vertical height.”

Applejack blinked. She nodded her head once, slowly. “Right… What I meant was, it was way easier to bet you that you can’t, than to ask you if you can. That way, somethin’ actually got done.” She glanced out over the pond with a smile. “An’ look what good it did.”

Dash turned around. Dozens of ponies were splashing about in the water behind her, smiling, laughing, playing. Just down the road, she could also see dozens more coming in from town, looking to beat the summer heat, carrying umbrellas, coolers and beach chairs.

She turned back to Applejack. “You used my own competitiveness against me?” Dash smirked. “You’re an evil pony, Applejack.”

Applejack smirked back. “So long as I use my evil for good, I think it balances out. Mayhap I could get you to do anythin’, so long as I bet you you couldn’t.”

Dash stood up, taking the cider stein in her hoof. She downed it all in one quick gulp, savoring the tangy cider on her tongue. A shiver raced down her spine as she licked the last few drops and tossed the mug into the air.

Applejack fell onto her hind legs as it fell towards her; she reached out to grab it and fumbled it in her hooves. When she finally had a grip on it, she glared at Dash, who returned a grin. “I’m on to your games, Applejack,” she said. “It’s gonna take more than a bet to get me to work.”

Applejack rolled her eyes. She placed the mug on the ground, with the rest of her and Apple Bloom’s things, and started towards the water. “Well, than at least join me fer some fun. After bringin’ out the sun, the least you can do is take a load off.”

Dash shook her head. “Nah, I can’t stay.”

Applejack paused. She turned back and raised an eyebrow. “And why the hay not?”

Dash smirked. “Because I’ve got a beautiful marefriend at home who wants to spend a quiet afternoon with yours truly.”

Applejack sighed. “I figured somethin’ was up when Twi didn’t show up fer this. Ya sure she ain’t too princessy fer a little dip in the sun?”

Dash flicked her hoof. “Being a princess doesn’t have anything to do with it. Our anniversary is coming up, and she wanted us to spend some quiet time together. I even got Fluttershy to take care of Tank and Cloud Kicker to take over the weather office for the weekend just so its the two of us.”

Applejack puckered her lips. “Aw, don’t be goin’ all lovey dovey on me, wing-girl. Ain’t gonna be nothin’ but saps in the bunch if you go all Rarity on us.”

Dash chuckled and nudged Applejack. “Well, maybe you should get working on finding your own special somepony. If I could do it, shouldn’t be too hard—whoa.”

Dash’s vision suddenly spun and blurred as she lost focus on Applejack beside her. Her head was turning like a tornado as the balance swayed out of her legs.

“Dash!” Applejack said, worried. “You alright?”

Dash shook her head, and the spinning slowed. She glanced at Applejack, and for an instant, she could swear the green in her eyes was dull and empty, like a stone.

She wheezed out another ragged breath, and shook her hoof dismissively. “Y-yeah. I’m fine. Just exhausted I guess. I better get going.”

Applejack raised an eyebrow. “Are you sure? Ain’t like you to get tuckered out from so little flyin’. Maybe you should take a load off after all.”

Dash declined with another shake of her head. “I’m fine, Applejack, really. I’m just gonna head over to Twilight’s. I can rest there. Promise.”

Applejack exhaled slowly and shifted her jaw. She rolled her eyes and turned back to the pond. “Suit yerself. Just take care not to pass out on your way there. We’ll be havin’ some words if you go and push yourself too hard again.”

Dash smirked, and with a quick goodbye, pumped her wings and took off into the sky. She was still sore from her landing in the pond, but Twilight’s wasn’t far, and a quick wing sprint went a long way to softening up muscles. She did a few practiced turns to to make sure everything still worked, and she let out a shout of victory as she was, as usual, proven right.

Still, the lingering doubts tugged at her mind. Applejack was right. She never got so tired so fast from something so simple. A few measly clouds? Easy. She had trained herself to reduce dizziness from flying and spinning years ago and yet she felt almost foalish in her sudden weakness. She shook her head. Easy Dash, she thought. Everypony can have an off day. Just get to Twi’s. I’ve just been working too hard lately to get this time off to spend with her.

Less than a minute later, she found herself landing on the Golden Oaks balcony. It only took her a year of dating Twilight Sparkle to learn how to not crash in unannounced and Dash gave herself a mental pat on the back for getting it right eventually.

She crept up to the window and peeked inside. She smiled as she saw Twilight Sparkle, her marefriend of nearly a full year, sitting on a small cushion in the middle of her bedroom. Dash wasn’t surprised to see her surrounded by piles of books, all placed in neat stacks. She smiled as Twilight pressed her nose deeper into the book she was reading, and her wings seemed to be flapping from excitement alone. Dash shrugged her head and knocked on the window.

Twilight jumped at the noise and looked up to the window. She smiled when she met Dash’s gaze, and got up to open the door. As she swung it open with her magic, she opened her mouth to say hello, only for Dash to speak first. “Hey, Twi, I’m all wet. Can I come in?”

Twilight froze. Her eyes twitched, and her face started burning a bright scarlet. “D-Dash!” she blurted. She stepped to the edge of the balcony and scanned the road below with darting eyes. “Don’t say things like that! Ponies might hear you!”

Dash kept smirking. “Aw, you know you love it.” She glanced around the balcony. “And I don’t see anypony else up here except a pair of lovebirds.”

Twilight twisted her lips and shot a flat look at Dash. “You’re awful, you know that?”

Dash blinked, and her smile deepened. “Uh oh, we got a grumpy princess on our hooves. Luckily, I know exactly how to fix that.” Dash quickly leaned in and nuzzled Twilight just under her ear. She grinned as she felt Twilight’s fur bristle and shudder at her touch. She pulled away, admiring the fruits of her labor.

Twilight’s blush deepened, and was biting her lip while her wings were twitching of their own accord. “I...I really shouldn’t have showed you that…” she breathed.

Dash kneeled and pouted her lip up at Twilight. “But then how else can I show you my undying affection for you, my princess?” She tried to hold the pose, but the sight of Twilight’s immediate deadpan glare was too much. Dash broke out into a laugh, wiping tears from her eyes.

Twilight rolled her eyes and sighed. “Har, har, Dash. Do you want to come in or not?”

Dash sucked in a breath to slow her laughs, letting out a last few snickers. She stood from her bow and trotted past Twilight into her loft. “I’m sorry, Twi. But sometimes it’s too easy to rile you up. You’re too adorable when you’re mad.”

Twilight shut the door and glanced back at Dash with a thin smile. “I guess it’s my fault that I let you get to me so easily.”

Dash turned. She lifted a hoof to Twilight’s chin. She leaned forward and kissed Twilight gently on the cheek. “You know I’ll stop the second you ask.”

Twilight pushed Dash’s hoof away. Dash blinked a moment, when Twilight leaned in and gave Dash her own kiss. She felt a hoof on the back of her head that held her there as they shared a moment alone in the room. Dash always remarked a special spark that crossed between them when they kissed, and she loved every second of it. Her wings tingled as the feeling of happiness and bliss shot through her, and the way Twilight pushed back was enough for her to know she felt the same.

After a while they separated, and basked in a moment of staring into each other’s eyes, smiling. Dash shuddered and shook her head after a while, bringing herself back to reality. “So, what did you want to do for our anniversary? You said something about spending some time together, but you weren’t very clear about it.”

A sly smile spread across Twilight’s lips. “Oh, wouldn’t you like to know?” She turned towards her bookshelf. She made a point of brushing her tail across Dash’s nose as she walked away. Dash blinked, and felt her face starting to heat up. She caught herself staring as Twilight took slow, methodical steps as she swayed her hips.

Twilight stopped at the shelf and glanced back at Dash. She smiled as she noted her open mouth and wide eyed expression. She turned back to the shelf and pulled out a book. “I just got this book, and I was thinking about reading it together.” She batted her eyes. “What do you say… Dashie?”

Dash couldn’t stop blinking. “Uh...I...You… wha…?” she stammered.

Twilight started laughing. She fell to her haunches and rubbed her eyes. “You...you should see the look on your face!”

Dash frowned. “Okay, what gives?”

Twilight snorted one last time as she stood back up. “I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist,” she said, with a coy grin. “You aren’t the only one who can be lewd, Dash. And you’re just as easy to rile up.”

Dash stared. Afterwards, she started chuckling. “Oh, ok. You got me, Twi.” She walked towards Twilight. “So, is that really a new book, or have you been pilfering those cheesy romances Rarity keeps ordering again?”

Dash glanced at the cover once she was close enough, and immediately felt like falling over again. Her mouth fell open as she tried to read the title aloud. “D-Daring Do and the Celestial P-Prism?!” She turned to Twilight. “That’s not supposed to be out for months!”

Twilight grinned. “True. But I ended up running into Ms. Talonmark when I was in Canterlot last week over tea. She wanted us to have an advanced copy as a gift.”

“R-really? So we have it before anypony else?”

Twilight nodded. “In the world.”

Dash slapped her hooves to her cheeks. “Best. Anniversary. Gift. Ever!”

Twilight planted another kiss on Dash’s cheek. “Only the best for my Dashie.”

Dash’s blush was more subdued the second time, but she couldn’t help but give Twilight a bashful grin. “Twilight, you’re too good to me, you know that?”

Twilight smiled. “You’d do the same for me. Now let’s get up to the bed and start reading, shall we?”

Dash nodded. “Okay, after you—whoa…” Dash’s head started to spin. The ache in her limbs seemed to double in intensity as she wobbled on her legs. Twilight gasped and rushed to her side to keep her from falling over.

“Dash! Are you okay?” she said, concerned.

Dash blinked away a blur in her vision and shook her head. The world cleared and her balance trickled back. “Y-yeah. I’m fine.” She let out an exhausted sigh. “Whew! I must be more tired than I thought from earlier.”

Twilight raised an eyebrow. “Were you working out this morning?”

“Nah. Applejack got me to clear out some clouds over the swimming pond so the town could have a sunny day.” She shrugged her shoulders and stretched her wings with a grunt. “Those pesky Everfree clouds are getting annoying.”

“Well, let’s get you to bed then. We can just relax for the rest of the day. You’ve earned it.”

They climbed the stairs together and climbed into the bed. Dash rubbed her head to quell the headache that gnawed at her, which prompted another worried look from Twilight. “Are you sure you’re okay, Dash? Do you want me to get a nurse to look at you?”

Dash shook her head. Instead, she curled up under the blankets and shuffled closer to Twilight. “I’m sure, Twi. As long as I’m here with you, nothing could be better. Life is good.”

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