• Published 4th Jun 2012
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Rainbooms and Royalty - Trinary



Alternate Universe: Filly Rainbow Dash has just performed her Sonic Rainboom when she gets a visitor

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The Plan

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The walk back was largely a quiet one. Rainbow Dash’s efforts to engage Zecora were largely fruitless as the zebra refused to say anything on the question of Nightmare Moon until they reached Ponyville. Aside from an occasional warning or instruction to change direction to avoid the perils of the Everfree, Zecora was silent.

Rainbow kept an eye on the skies for any sign of the Shadowbolts but either they had been tossed pretty darn far or were keeping their distance from Zecora. The trees thinned out and the two travelers soon found themselves on the outskirts of Ponyville.

There wasn’t anypony out. Every door was shut and locked, every window barred with blinds drawn. It didn’t even look like there were any lights on. For all she knew, everypony in town could’ve upped and left. Dash looked around.

“It’s like a ghost town.”

“For me this is nothing new, it is like this every time I come through.” Zecora replied, her tone empty of any trace of emotion: be it bitterness, sadness, or even mild annoyance.

“Sorry.” Rainbow Dash muttered, feeling oddly guilty and embarrassed on behalf of Ponyville. “I guess they just aren't used to seeing zebras out here. Small town and stuff.” Zecora inclined her head in acknowledgment but said nothing more. Dash coughed. “The library is up ahead. The lights are on so I guess everypony’s still there.”

She went up and knocked on the door. There was a clip clop of hooves on the wooden floor right before the door opened wide revealing Twilight in the doorway.

“Rainbow Dash!” She smiled. “You made it, you’re back!”

“Hey, yeah! Did you guys find anything?”

Twilight frowned and shook her head. “We didn’t even know where to start so we just picked every book we could think of that had to do with Nightmare Night and ancient legends but found nothing. What about you? Did you—” She was suddenly shoved aside by Applejack’s hoof.

“--Didja find that creepy Zecora?” She asked, shoving her snout in Rainbow Dash’s face. “Did she do any of that creep voodoo on y—”

“Applejack…” Rainbow coughed, tilting her head behind her. AJ looked and saw Zecora give a small wave with her hoof.

“…Oh.” The orange farmpony’s face turned red as Twilight and Rainbow Dash both glared at her.

Twilight stepped forward hesitantly. “We’re really sorry, you’ll have to excuse Applejack. It’s just been a…rough night. We appreciate that you came all the way here.” She gave a small, shy smile. “My name is Twilight Sparkle.”

Zecora smiled gently. “Ah, a lovely name for the time between day and night. Appropriate too, considering the evil we must fight.”

Twilight flushed and stepped back to let Rainbow Dash and Zecora in. “So…was it a good trip?” She asked Rainbow Dash, eager to take the attention off her.

The pegasus shrugged. “Eh, ran into a little interference from those ‘Shadowbolts’ but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle.” She said breezily, ignoring the look Zecora gave her until she pointedly coughed. Quickly Dash, added “Plus Zecora here? Now she was awesome! Took care of those guys like it was nothing!”

“Why’d she even need to if it wasn’t anything you couldn’t handle?” Applejack asked with a grin. Rainbow appeared flustered as she mumbled some inconsistent explanations until Rarity stepped forward.

“Really, where are your manners? Must I introduce myself?” She gave Rainbow and Applejack a jaundiced look before addressing Zecora. “I am Rarity.” She gave a prim nod.

Zecora inclined her head. “I am Zecora, as you already know. Such wonderful manners, a fine breeding it shows.”

“Why, THANK you!” Rarity tossed her hair. “And I must say I love what you’ve done with your coat! Such an avant-garde look!”

“RARITY...” Rainbow snorted. “First off, she’s a zebra. All their coats are like that, it’s what they’re born with. Secondly, not now. Or preferably, ever.”

The white unicorn sniffed. “Well, just because SOME of us cannot appreciate the importance of a good appearance doesn’t mean that we all must show such disregard. I for one would welcome the chance to design an outfit for Zecora in place of that tatty, old cloak of hers. Perhaps—”

“A splendid thought and one most appreciated.” Zecora chimed in, heading her off. “Though perhaps when I come to town, you should not act like your store has been vacated.” Rarity gave a strangled sounding cough and stepped back.

Pinkie Pie, who had been in the kitchen, hopped in. “Aww, we’re sorry Zecora…how about if we make it up to you with a big PAR—mph!”

“Shhh!” Applejack hushed her as she removed her hoof from the party pony’s mouth. “Fluttershy’s putting Dinky to bed, remember?”

That made Rainbow Dash grimace. “Zecora…those Shadowbolts we fought? Well, they used to be ponies…my friends. Their leader has a daughter and—”

“I understand my friend.” Zecora said softly. “They can be saved, on this you can depend.”

Rainbow’s face lit up. “Then you mean you have some wicked spell that can change them back to normal or something?”

“Ah, that I’m afraid I cannot.” The zebra frowned. “Nightmare Moon’s magic changed them, and unless we defeat her, it will all be for naught. To save your friends we must end her blight, only then can everything be set right.”

Twilight her curiosity overriding her nervousness, stepped forward. “That’s why Rainbow Dash went to find you. We need your help to stop Nightmare Moon.”

“Yeah! So do you know any spells that’ll, I dunno, freeze Nightmare Moon in time or banish her into a volcano or something?” Dash asked, flying around Zecora.

The zebra shook her head. “My abilities can not stop those of Nightmare Moon. You must find another way, and soon.”

Rainbow screeched to a halt in midair, suddenly zooming down to stare Zecora down. “You mean I went all the way out to the Everfree Forest to find you and you can’t even help?! Was that stuff you did with the Shadowbolts all you can do? Are you some kind of one-trick pony?”

“Do not get your tail in a twist, I am no conjurer of cheap tricks!” Zecora snorted, raising her voice. “But it will take an older and deeper magic than I posses. So kindly keep quiet if you want to achieve success.” Twilight gently tugged Rainbow Dash away from Zecora with her magic.

Applejack just looked flummoxed. “Why do y’all talk so strange?”

“Determining who is normal and who is strange is a task that’s harder. Wouldn’t y’all say pardner?” Zecora asked, stretching her mouth in an attempt to imitate Applejack’s accent.

Dash let out a bark of laughter. Pinkie giggled. “It’s funny because you talk silly too!” She laughed. Applejack looked remarkably put out which just made the two laugh even harder.

Their laughter was soon interrupted by the pitter patter of tiny hooves as a gray blur darted down the stairs. “Rainbow Dash!”

“Dinky?” She barely had time to get out before the tiny lavender-gray filly tackle hugged her.

“Where’ve you been? Did you find mom?” She asked hopefully, staring up with wide pleading eyes. Fluttershy crept down the stairs after her.

“Oh my, I’m so sorry. She heard the commotion and wanted to come down and—eep!” She froze when she saw Zecora.

“I see my reputation has spread far and near. I assure you, you have nothing to fear.” She smiled kindly at Fluttershy who responded by blushing and hiding her face in her mane.

Dinky wriggled out of Rainbow’s grasp and trotted over to Zecora. “Wow…who’re you?”

“I am Zecora, no one to fear.” She smiled, kneeling down. “What is yours my dear?”

“My name’s Dinky…” The little filly said. “Why’s your coat so funny?”

Zecora smiled, un-offended as she rubbed Dinky’s head. “I am a zebra from a far-away place. All my kind are striped, from our flanks to our face.” She flicked her tail for emphasis.

Dinky giggled. “You’re funny.” She rubbed her head against Zecora’s leg, always a friendly filly. “I heard you talking…can you help my momma?”

Zecora took one look at Dinky’s bright golden eyes and enveloped her in a tight embrace. “Do not worry little one. We shall bring back your mother…and the sun.”

Relieved, Dinky fiercely hugged her back. Rainbow Dash stepped forward. “So are you finally going to tell us HOW?”

“So impatient.” Zecora mused as she set Dinky down. “But yes, I relent. There is one power that can stop the evil one—a force with which the day can be won.” She looked around. Everypony’s attention was on her. “The Elements of Harmony: the most powerful magic known. Against the darkness of Nightmare Moon, their powers shone. They trapped her in her lunar jail. If you obtain them, you will not fail.”

“Sounds good!” Rainbow Dash pumped a hoof in the air. “So, just tell me where they are and I’ll go zap that evil hag!”

“Hold on!” Twilight raised a hoof. “Just what ARE the Elements?”

“Ah, here the legends are vague.” Zecora turned around and started walking around the library. “Some say they are six stones, bright and colorful and lovely to own.” Rarity bit down on her lip to prevent herself from squealing. “However…” Zecora drew everypony’s attention back. “Others are less sure. They say the elements are the six traits of ponykind—strong and pure.”

Confusion reigned as everypony looked at one another as if making sure they weren’t the only ones who had heard her. “So either these things are magic glowy rocks…or they’re nothing at all? Just characteristics?” Rainbow Dash asked, her voice pure deadpan.

“Your analogy is simplistic…but not unrealistic.” Zecora admitted.

Rainbow facehooved. “Hnnng….Great, any other good news for us? Let me guess, were they lost a thousand years ago after a titanic battle and the only way to find them is to take a long perilous journey through an uncharted land full of unknown dangers?” Zecora wiggled her hoof in a so-so gesture. Dash smiled. “Sounds like fun. When do we leave?”

“Soon as we find somepony t’look after Dinky here,” Applejack nodded. “we’ll be on our way.”

“Uh…excuse me?” Rainbow Dash looked at her. “When I said ‘we’ I meant me and Zecora.”

“Zecora and I.” Corrected Twilight.

“No I just meant ME and Zecora.” Rainbow emphasized, missing the grammatical point. “This is my job, my fight. You guys are staying here.”

Applejack butted her head against Rainbow Dash’s. “Oh yeah?”

“Yeah!”

“Try an’ make me!” The earth pony took a step forward, pressing against Dash’s head.

The pegasus flapped her wings, pressing her own head back just as hard. “Maybe I will!”

“Girls!” There was a flash and suddenly Rainbow Dash and Applejack found themselves teleported to opposite sides of the library. Twilight’s horn continued to glow, as if warning that she’d use it again. “This isn’t helping.” She looked pleadingly to her friend. “Rainbow Dash, be reasonable! You can’t expect to find the Elements of Harmony and stop Nightmare Moon all on your own, can you?”

Rainbow jerked as if stung. She’d have thought of all the ponies—and zebra—present, Twilight would trust her abilities enough. “Why not? You saying I’m not good enough?” She shot back.

Startled, Twilight took a half-step back. “What? No, of course not! That isn’t it!”

“Then what is it?” Rainbow Dash all-but snarled. “I’m Princess Celestia’s student…I’m the last pony who saw her before she d-d…” She shook her head, fighting off the memories. “I’m the one she said could stop Nightmare Moon. So that’s just what I’m going to do!”

“I offer no disrespect, but are you sure that is what she meant?” Rainbow had almost forgotten Zecora was still there until she spoke up. “You are remarkably skilled, this I have no doubt. But is this what, in the end, this is all about?”

Applejack nodded, surprised to finding herself in agreement with the mysterious zebra. “She’s right Rainbow and ifn you’ve got a lick of sense in yer head, you’ll listen! Just cause you’re the Princess’ student doesn’t make you better than us!”

Rainbow Dash just stood there and LOOKED at Applejack as if noticing her for the first time. Then she threw back her head and laughed. Loudly. “Are you nuts?! You think that’s what this is? I don’t think I’m better than you for being Celestia’s student! Hay, I have to prove why I AM her student day after day!”

“And is that what you’re doing now? Trying to prove that the Princess’ trust in you is justified?” Rarity spoke up. “Darling, I have every confidence in your abilities and the Princess’ judgment. But our town, our families, our world is at stake!” The fashionable unicorn held a hoof to her face. “The best way to validate the Princess’ trust is to put your pride aside and let us help you. We’re your friends.”

Rainbow Dash tossed her head, furious at herself as she felt hot tears building in the corners of her eyes. “Ditzy Doo is my friend! Shining Armor is my friend!” Rainbow stamped her hoof. “You guys are just…I JUST met you ponies!” She looked around, pleading for them to understand. “I-I like you guys, I think you’re great…all of you. But...how can I know that you’re up to this?” She looked to each one of them, one by one. “When I was out there looking for Zecora, those Shadowbolts—they’re not playing around! They were wearing blades on their wings and doing their best to clip mine. Do you get it? If you go with me you could get hurt. You could even…” She exhaled, almost panting. “I—I just lost two of my best friends tonight. I don’t want to lose anymore.” She mumbled.

“Rainbow Dash…” Applejack began, but Dash just shook her head.

“No, AJ! This is just…this is beyond all of you. I’ve done the impossible before…have you?” Rainbow Dash raised her head. For a moment, there was nothing. The silence was overbearing, even as Dash gasped for breath, more tired than after a day of stunt flying.

Then there was the gentlest of coughs. Every head turned to the meekest pony of them all as Fluttershy stepped forward. “I have.” She said softly as she walked over to her old friend. “I used to be a scared, weak flier…too shy and timid to ever do anything on my own.” She looked at Rainbow, who saw there were tears in her large teal eyes. “Then I met the most amazing, impossible pony ever…she showed me how to be stronger even as she always stood up for me.” She nuzzled Rainbow’s face. “Now I have my own home in a new town, with lots of animal friends…and even some new pony ones. And—and I’m not going to abandon my oldest friend ever. If—if I can do that…then the others can too. We’re not going to hold you back Rainbow Dash…we’re going to hold you up.”

“Fluttershy…” Rainbow Dash shook her head, speechless.

“We’re coming Rainbow Dash. All of us.” She said. “And I’m not taking no for an answer.” The canary pegasus let out a startled eep as Rainbow Dash swept her up into a tight embrace. Then it was Rainbow’s turn as Twilight, Rarity, Applejack and Pinkie Pie all hugged her. Zecora gave a faint smile as she gave into the impulse and gave Dinky a hug.

“Now, we are ready.” She whispered.

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