• 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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A Rising Tide

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Rainbow Dash struggled fiercely, trying to bat the pony—fish—thing away. But where her movements were sluggish and clumsy under the water, the creature’s were lithe and nimble. What’s more, it had help.

Even as one of them was pulling her down by her tail, another attacked from above to shove her down into the depths. Even more soon joined in yanking on her limbs and forcing her down. Looking around, she saw that the others were being pulled down as well.

Frustrated Rainbow tried to either let out a scream or bite at one of her attackers—only to be rewarded with a long semi-prehensile tail being wrapped around her muzzle for her trouble.

Her lungs burned for air and she reflexively tried to open her mouth, desperate to fill her lungs, only to find that the tail around her muzzle had constricted further. Rainbow looked up at the surface pleadingly, grateful in the knowledge that no pony would even notice her crying. She didn’t want to die! This wasn’t how this was supposed to go—she was Rainbow Dash! She belonged in the air, not at the bottom of a river.

Strangely enough though, that wasn’t even her biggest regret. Her biggest regret was that she had failed Celestia. Failed Shining Armor. Failed Ditzy Doo and her daughter. Failed Equestria. Worse, she had dragged Twilight, Applejack, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, and even Zecora with her on this doomed trip. Her fault. ‘If only I’d been more firm! I told them they should’ve stayed in Ponyville!’ She closed her eyes. ‘Guys…I’m so sorry.’

Her hooves hit the riverbed. Rainbow’s vision swam—ironic, some tiny corner of her mind mused—from lack of air. She looked up to see a whole swarm, or school she supposed, of the creatures circling around her and her friends. They were swimming faster and faster. Rainbow Dash blacked out for a minute. When she came to, she was laying on the cold, hard ground at the bottom of the river.

Reflexively she opened her mouth to take a deep breathe. It wasn’t until a few seconds later that her brain had booted up enough to realize that she should’ve been choking on water, but wasn’t. The fish…pony…*things* were gone. And that wasn’t the only thing. There was no water!

“What the hay?!” Dash exclaimed as she got up and took a breath. She wrinkled her nose. It smelled fishy and moldy and cold…but it was still air. Her mane and tail was still dripping wet…as was her coat, which she corrected by shaking herself out. Looking around, she saw a giant bubble shimmering around her. Outside it she saw the water and the creatures curiously circling around it. Experimentally, she gently pushed her hoof at the edge. It wobbled but held firm. “Weird…”

A groan alerted her attention to her friends as they stirred themselves. Rainbow darted over. “Everypony alright? Zecora?”

The mystic zebra spat out a mouthful of water. “My thanks for your concern, but if I have injuries, they cannot be discerned.” Her Mohawk drooped slightly but somehow managed to more-or-less maintain its shape.

Rarity shuddered, cold and wet and appalled at her mane. “My hair!” She moaned, tugging Applejack’s borrowed hat over her eyes. “Don’t look at me!”

“Oh for the love of…” Applejack shook herself dry, showering her companions with droplets of water. “Yer fine.”

Fluttershy daintily sneezed. “Oh my! It’s so cold down here.” She looked around at the river held just beyond their bubble of air. “Wow…I could spend time with so many animals if I could stay here!”

“Maybe we should have an underwater party!” Pinkie Pie jumped up. “Shoot! I forgot my swimsuit!”

“Pinkie?” Twilight looked confused. “Why would you even—” she saw the look everypony else was giving her. “I shouldn’t even be questioning this, should I?”

“No.” Came the unanimous reply.

Rainbow Dash shrugged her wings, shaking the water out of her feathers. “Okay, enough sight seeing. We need to figure out a way out of here!”

“Easier said than done sugarcube.” Applejack looked up. “Even if we swam straight up I don’t know if we could reach the surface in time and that’s not counting those fishy things trying to pull us down again.”

Fluttershy raised her hoof. “Um, excuse me…”

“Twilight, how about you poofing us to the surface?”

“Poofing?” The lavender unicorn repeated incredulously. “That’s what you’re calling it now?”

“Um…I’m sorry but…” Fluttershy tried again.

“Can you do it or not?” Rainbow Dash demanded of Twilight, not even hearing Fluttershy.

“I don’t know…I’ve never tried teleporting this many ponies through that much water…I don’t know how that could affect the—

“Waaaait!” Fluttershy yelled, barely reaching a normal volume. It still managed to draw the attention of everypony and zebra present. “Oh! Sorry! But um, the—um, seaponies—are watching us.” She said in a hushed tone. “I—I think they’re waiting for something.”

Rainbow Dash snorted. “Oh they are, huh?” She marched up to the barrier and looked out at the ogling creatures. Not struggling for life and breath made it easier for her to take a good look at them. They had the head of a typical pony or other equine, if you missed the gills on either side of the neck. They would close tight, then slit outwards, then close again in a steady rhythm. Their eyes were slightly bulging and as they opened their mouths, Rainbow saw rows of tiny, sharp teeth. The rest of their body was oddly curved, jutting back, then forward, then ending in an eel-like tail. “What do you want?” Dash demanded. “Can you even talk?”

The pony head pushed forward until it breached the barrier between river and air. Rainbow jerked back, half expecting the river to pour in through the bubble. Instead, the seapony looked at her with blinking, bulgy eyes. “We…talk.” It gurgled and slurred in a somewhat feminine voice. “I…Wave—dan—cer.” It burbled. Then it quickly darted its head back into the river, only to re-emerge a second later.

“Did you do this?” Twilight stepped forward, indicating the air bubble with her horn. “Did you make it so we could breathe down here?”

“Yesss.” Hissed Wavedancer. “Not want…shore ponies drown. Yet.” She added as an afterthought.

Rainbow extended her wings. “What’s that supposed to mean?” She demanded. “You drowned us so you could save us only so you could drown us later? What is your problem?!”

The seapony retreated back into the water and began to confer with one of its fellows. From behind the bubble they heard a rushing flow of burbling sounds. The second one barked in a harsh laughter as Wavedancer poked her head back into the bubble. “Not…all drown.” She explained, narrowing her eyes. “You wreck tree.”

“The willow tree?” Rainbow was incredulous. “What about it? What’s the big deal?”

This was apparently the wrong thing to say as it sent Wavedancer’s fins flapping in agitation as she darted back out and in again. “Seaponies migrate each year. Shoreponies block rivers…dam streams…make it harder to reach spawning grounds—other seas—other sea ponies!” She retreated back into the water again. “Tree been here many a migration…schools of seaponies played under it…and you wreck to make new dam!”

“So you’re just gonna drown us over a tree?” Rainbow Dash snorted.

Wavedancer nodded. “Pony who knocked over tree…must pay price. Others can go. Tell us who did it.”

“Nopony did it!” Rainbow lied breezily. “We found the tree lying on the bank and decided to use it for a boat. We just wanted to get to the other side, not dam the river!”

“Ponies lie.” Wavedancer burbled, somehow conveying skepticism. “We hear thumps…pony kicked tree down. Tell who…or all drown.”

Rainbow reared up and took a swing at Wavedancer who ducked back into the water at the last moment. “No way!”

Wavedancer wriggled her way up and poked her head back in near the top of the bubble. “Seaponies control water…we can hold it back for a while. Not forever. Tell us or bubble break and ponies all trapped!”

Rainbow Dash took a breath. “Is that so? Well—”

“It was me!” Everypony turned to see Applejack raising her head as she headed for the barrier. “Ah did it. Ah knocked over yer tree and ah’m powerful sorry. Let mah friends go.”

“Applejack, shut up!” Rainbow Dash hissed angrily, only to have the farmpony ignore her.

The seapony looked…confused. At least that’s what everypony observing thought. She ducked back into the water to burble and cackle at the other seaponies before reemerging at eye level. “You…knock over tree?”

“Yes ma’am.” AJ nodded.

“Why confess? Why not blame other pony?” Asked the seapony.

Applejack straightened herself and looked her right in the eye. “Ah was raised not to tell fibs or to let some other pony take the blame for mah mistakes. If it means you’ll let mah friends go, then do what you want with me. Ah did it, and ah did it alone.”

Wavedancer said nothing. After ducking back into the water again, she stared at the orange earth pony. “You…not liar.”

“No, ah ain’t.” AJ flicked her tail. “What Rainbow Dash said about us not wanting to dam the river was true. We only wanted to cross the river to get to the old palace so we could stop an evil pony from making it night forever. You must’ve noticed that the sun should be up by now.”

Wavedancer hesitated. “…This true.” Her flippers shook in agitation. “Tides all wrong. Moon not supposed to be like this.” She bit her lip. “If…IF we let ponies go…you fix?”

“Yes ma’am.” Applejack said again. “Ah promise you that. We’ll fix this whole forever night thing…and I’ll plant some new trees by the river. Y’all like apples?”

The seapony tilted her head, considering this. “What you swear by?” Wavedancer asked.

AJ took a breath. “By my heart, hoof and my bone. By my family and my home. By all the apple trees I’ve planted and mah kin have planted for generations out of mind—we will make everything right, and ah DO mean everything.” She gave a wane smile. “And if it means you’ll let mah friends go, ah’ll agree to come back and let you…do whatever you want with me.”

“AJ!” Rainbow Dash tugged on her tail with her teeth. “STOP!”

“Let go Rainbow!” She flicked her tail free and gently whapped the cyan pegasus’ muzzle with it. “This is the way it has t’be.”

Rainbow Dash leaped and tackled Applejack to the muddy ground beneath them. “No chance! I’m not going to let you throw your life away!”

Applejack struggled, pulling the pegasus into the mud with her. “Dangit Rainbow!” The two ponies wrestled each other as everypony—sea or shore—present looked on. Finally their struggle was interrupted by a font of water spraying the two battling ponies apart. As they coughed and spat, they looked up to see Wavedancer, a dribble of water leaking from her lip.

“Enough!” She barked. “Seaponies decided!” Everypony waited in tense anticipation. “We let all ponies go. All go free.” The seaponies in the river clapped their flippers and dove in circles, expressing their joy. “We help you go down river…if you stop the night and replant tree…then all is forgiven.”

Pinkie cheered. “Hooray! Thank you! You’re the best seaponies ever!” She reached out and managed to hug Wavedancer through the bubble. The confused seapony struggle until she relented, patting Pinkie’s back with her flippers.

“Shoreponies much strange…but good.” Was her final verdict. “You stand together...like real school of seaponies. Come, each shorepony. Grab seapony. We take you to surface. Get ride down river.”

Rainbow Dash was more hesitant than the others in accepting the good word of the ponies that had been threatening to drown them a few minutes earlier, but soon she found herself standing at the edge of the bubble with the others. Each one of them found themselves paired with a seapony, all with nautical sounding names like Surfdancer, Billow, or Waverider. They turned around to let the ponies gently wrap their hooves around the seaponies’ slender necks and after making sure the shoreponies had taken a deep breath, shot up towards the surface! Behind them the air bubble collapsed, the air bubbling upwards and helping push them to the surface.

They breached the water, still clinging to their seapony companions. “So…” coughed Twilight. “Are you going to swim us to the other side?”

Wavedancer, who was unattached and leading the school of seaponies, shook her head. “No. We know faster way to old palace. Another will give you all ride.”

“Somepony else?” Rarity asked, pushing her bedraggled mane out of her face.

“Never said pony.” Chortled Wavedancer. She barked a chirping, bubbling call that echoed over the water. The answer was not long in coming.

A serpentine purple form rose out of the water, circling around the ponies with its long body. A head soon emerged, resplendent with a lionish orange mane of hair cascading down from its head. From its giant form came the most…unique voice the ponies could have expected.

“Oooh heavens! Such delightful little ponies! Oooh I just love the accessories on the striped one! How fan-TAS-tic!” He practically cooed.

Rainbow Dash facehooved. “You’ve got to be kidding.”

“All aboard!” Came the amiable serpent’s call. The seaponies deposited their passengers right alongside the serpent so they could climb aboard. Even Rainbow, though she groaned all the while. The sea serpent half-swam, half-slithered across the water, with the ponies and Zecora clinging onto his back. The seaponies were apparently heading in the same direction, for they followed on either side.

Rainbow Dash turned to the pony sitting behind her, which was Applejack. “Applejack?”

“Yeah sugarcube?”

“AJ—what you did back there…what you were willing to do for us. That was—awesome. Just awesome.”

“Haw, shucks.” Applejack winked. “And you thought ah was a just purty face didn’t you?”

Rainbow smirked. “I never thought you were a ‘purty’ face period, so no.” The two shared a chuckle before Dash turned serious again. “You…you were willing to—”

“You don’t need to say it.” Applejack said quietly. “Ah’m just as soon glad that ah didn’t have to.”

A nod. “You’re not the only one.” There was a pregnant pause. Rainbow Dash licked her lips before asking. “Why step forward like that?”

“Because it was the truth.” The answer was simple, but firm. “Ah was the one who bucked their tree over, so it was mah job to come forward. Ah couldn’t let y’all pay the price for something ah did.”

“But,” Rainbow Dash protested. “You didn’t have to! They could’ve been bluffing! There was no way they heard you bucking the tree down from that deep in the river.”

AJ shrugged. “Mebe. Mebe not. Either way, ah couldn’t take that chance. Not when mah action put other ponies at risk. Besides, it was the truth. Mah Granny allus said that honesty was the best policy. Not jest cuz it’s the right thing—when you show folks that you’re honest, it makes ‘em more liable to be honest with you or at least respect you. Once you got their respect, things tend t’go a lot smoother.”

Rainbow exhaled. “Telling the truth could’ve gotten you killed.”

“Yeah…ah reckon so.” AJ agreed. “Allus figured my mouth would be the end of me. But, seems to me that we’re on the way to stop the wickedest evil there is. If we want to stop her, then ah figure we had to be better than good, that we couldn’t resort to Nightmare Moon’s bag of tricks: lying, cheating, stealing and what not. If we beat her using her own methods, then well, what’s the point? Leastaways, that’s how it seems to me. Make sense, honey?”

“Eh.” Rainbow Dash shrugged. “I guess.”

“Not a deep thinker ah reckon?” Applejack teased.

“Oh and you are?” Rainbow stuck her tongue out at Applejack, who laughed. “I’m more of a deep ACTION pony.”

Applejack pointed at something in front of Rainbow Dash. “What d’you think she’s up to?”

Rainbow turned just in time to see Zecora, riding on the head of the sea serpent, reach a hoof into her bag of tricks and take out a hoofull of powder. She cast it behind her in a wide arc, letting the wind and the motion carry it back to the six ponies behind her. “Raxa Corico Falla Patorius. Raxa Corico Falla Patorius.” She muttered in some forgotten tongue.

Pinkie blinked. “Oooh pretty words! I wanna try! Ahem! Frick a frack a firecracker shish boom bah!” She waved her hooves in the air wildly, only to suddenly let out a wide yawn. “Ooooah! Guess I’m a sleepy Pinkie…” She mumbled as she curled up on their scaly boat and nestled her head down. “’night everypony!”

“Oh my…I’m feeling tired too.” Fluttershy yawned, prompting Rarity and Twilight to do the same.

Rainbow Dash fought the urge to sleep, fidgeting restlessly. “You awake Applejack?”

“Eeyup.” The earthpony fought back a yawn. “Ah ain’t a pony to fall down napping on the job.”

“Yeah? Well neither am I!” Rainbow boasted. “Bet you fall asleep before I do!”

“Yer on!”

Their competition didn’t last long before Zecora started softly swaying and singing something in her native tongue. Even though they didn’t know a word of it, everypony who heard it understood. It was a song of hope and longing, of a far away home and of a deep loneliness. Around the sea serpent, the seaponies swam, softly humming their shoo be doos. Soon it had become the backdrop for a seapony song that somehow perfectly complimented Zecora’s, even matching the tune.

Sleep well tonight and may the waterclock
Just float you to a land of happy dreaming
Sail you to port and past the golden dock
Out where the streams are free to do their steaming
Pillow deep and listen to the soft drip drops
Gentle rains that patter on the chimney tops
Hush now the clock is chiming sweet lullabys
Each waterfall is rhyming
It's tiiiime…to close your eyes.

And that’s exactly what Rainbow Dash and Applejack found themselves doing, their eyelids inexorably drawing closed.

“Pretty song.” AJ rumbled in a trance.

“Sure is…” Rainbow Dash agreed. After a moment she mumbled, “Applejack?”

After a moment she heard the earth pony’s soft answer. “Yeah?”

“If I ever suddenly break out into a song…” Rainbow Dash said. “Punch me. HARD.”

“Heh, you got it sugarcube.” Chuckled Applejack sleepily. “G’night sugarcube.”

“Night.”

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