• 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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Observations and Observatories

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Rainbow Dash hovered around the observatory ceiling, Zecora and Twilight having finally reached the top of the stairs. That left the two of them standing on a ramp that jutted out from the walls about fifty feet up from the floor. Twilight looked down and promptly regretted it.

“You okay?” Rainbow asked, fluttering in front of her.

“S-sure. No problem.” Twilight smiled nervously. She looked up at hole at the very top of the dome. “I was hoping the stairs would lead up to the opening. Do you think you could take a look outside and—”

“On it! Hang on!” Rainbow Dash wrapped her hooves around Twilight’s middle and started flapping hard.

Twilight yelped as her hooves suddenly left the ground. “Rainbow Dash!” Her eyes widened as the floor started getting further and further away. “This isn’t what I meant!”

“Aww, relax.” The confident pegasus said as they flew up out of the observatory and into the night sky. “You wanted to take a look right? Well, here you go!”

“Oh look you’re right there’s nothing here you can put me down now!” Twilight said quickly after the most minimal of glances, scrunching her eyes closed.

Rainbow snorted. “No way! Come on Twi, it’s not that bad. I promise, I would never let you fall.”

Twilight took a deep shuddering breath. “O-okay.” She opened her eyes. “Wow…” Dash gently spun in a circle, giving Twilight a panoramic view of the Everfree Forest, the old palace of the Royal Pony Sisters, and beyond. “I can see Canterlot from here!” The unicorn smiled. Somehow seeing the lights on in the mountainside city, shining all the brighter against the dark night, made her feel better. The city was a beacon, in more ways than one.

“Toldja it was awesome.” Rainbow Dash smirked. “Pay up purple pinto!”

Twilight pouted. “It wasn’t a bet and I’m NOT a pinto!”

“Whatever. But more importantly, no sign of Nightmare Moon, her lame Shadowbolts or anypony or anything else. I think we’re good. Next stop: the castle.”

Twilight nodded, then found her gaze distracted by something. “Hey Rainbow look.” She pointed a hoof up at the full moon. “The Mare in the Moon is missing.”

Turning to look, Rainbow saw what Twilight meant. The typical shadow cast over the moon in the shape of a mare’s face was gone. “I guess Nightmare Moon really was banished INTO the moon. With her here, she can’t be up there.” Dash reasoned.

Her flightless friend nodded. “It’s strange…in spite of everything bad that happened—the moon somehow looks better for Nightmare Moon not being there.”

“Yeah I guess…but I think Equestria will look even better than that once Nightmare Moon is gone.” Rainbow countered. “Let’s get going.”

Zecora waited patiently as Rainbow Dash and Twilight came in for a landing. “The coast, is it clear? Nothing in our path we need to fear?”

“Clear as the full moon!” Rainbow announced. “So let’s get the others and get those Elements!”

Twilight looked down and frowned when she saw the rest of their friends. “Huh, I wonder why they’re all standing still like that.”

Rainbow Dash flew up to get a better look, only to wince. “Gah!” Twilight turned to her.

“What’s wrong?”

“It’s nothing.” Rainbow rubbed her eye with a hoof. “Just caught a gleam off one of those stupid mirrors.” She grumbled, observing the now cleaned up observatory. “Who would design an observatory full of mirrors and ugly statues?”

Zecora felt a prickling sensation down her spine. “It cannot be…” She looked up through the open ceiling, the full moon almost directly over head. Then she looked at the mirrors on the floor and the shiny fountain in the dead center of the observatory…right below the open roof. “Oh I should have seen!” She stomped her hoof. “Hurry, we must flee! Otherwise this place will become a bad dream!” Zecora galloped down the stairs a confused Twilight and Rainbow Dash following.

“What are you talking about?” Rainbow Dash called.

It was Twilight who answered. “The statues! Look at the statues!” Rainbow looked. Where the creepy statues dotting the alcoves once face straight outwards, now they were turned to the side…as if facing the three mares running down the steps. “That’s impossible!” Twilight protested.

Rainbow Dash couldn’t help commenting. “You know, if you’re gonna start pointing out all the impossible things we’ve seen, we’re gonna be here all night.”

Zecora was in no mood. “There isn’t much time! We must be gone from here before the moon is high!”

Raising her voice, Rainbow called. “C’mon guys, shake a leg! Zecora says we gotta go!”

With a strain in her voice, Applejack shouted back without budging. “Easier said than done sugarcube! If we take our eyes off these here statues, they’ll come and grab ya!”

“And they’re all around us!” Fluttershy whimpered as she looked around the round structure.

“So what are we—” Twilight started when three things happened. First, the full moon moved directly over the perfectly shaped hole in the ceiling. Next, the moonlight shined down into the empty fountain, which in fact wasn’t a fountain at all. With its shiny interior and its curved structure, the moon light was reflected from the base to the arced mirrors lining the floor. That in turn lit up the whole interior in a bright flash of moonlight that left everypony temporarily blinded by the flash.

Of course, that wasn’t all. As their vision returned, the six ponies and one zebra saw the statues start to shake and crack as the moonlight touched them. With an all-mighty roar the statues flexed, shattering their stone exterior and revealing the horror within.

“What in the sam hill are they?!” Applejack whinnied, rearing on her hind legs. They had been creepy enough as statues, but now that they could (literally) see them in the flesh, they looked all the more horrifying. Their wing membranes stretched and strained as they spread their wings, ears swiveling this way and that. Their eyes glowed white and they hissed, exposing white sharp teeth that were emphatically NOT used for eating grass and hay.

Zecora’s face furrowed. “They are gargoyles, the ancient defenders of the night. When Nightmare Moon rose, their loyalty led them to her side in the fight.”

Rainbow pawed the ground, her wings flaring out. “That’s all I needed to hear.”

Applejack nodded, snorting challengingly as Twilight and Rarity lowered their heads and readied their horns. Pinkie Pie somehow let out a barking noise more similar to a dog and growled. Zecora raised her hood and twirled her staff. Fluttershy let out a small meep and stood shaking next to her friends. “Um…maybe we should…”

At that moment the gargoyles—over a hundred of them—bellowed and started to charge the pony intruders. Rainbow Dash used her wings to give her some forward momentum as she threw herself into the oncoming horde, her outstretched hooves roughly connecting with several unhappy faces. “Ha!” She flew upwards, out of their reach. “You’re even uglier now than you were before!”

“Look out!” Rarity cried as several of the gargoyles from the upper levels leaped from their alcoves, wings outstretched as they flew towards Rainbow Dash.

The rainbow pegasus just grinned. “All right, let’s see what you’ve got.” She zoomed upwards, daring them to follow.
Back on the ground, Applejack powerful hind legs bucked a gargoyle—more daring or less sensible than its fellows, who had gotten too close. Twilight was using her magic to toss the gargoyles aside and even Rarity was bucking the occasional attacker. Pinkie Pie, meanwhile, had somehow gotten on the back of one of the gargoyles in the air who was now trying furiously to throw her off. “Yee ha!” Pinkie giggled as she wrapped her legs around him tightly and refused to be thrown. “Is this how you do it Applejack?”

The cowpony looked up and let out a laugh. “You bet your granny it is! Ride that bucking bronco, cowpony!”

Zecora was chanting softly under her breath. Not a spell so much as a meditation to keep her focus, even as she batted aside attacker after attacker with her eyes closed. Literally.

Fluttershy, to her chagrin, was currently sitting inside the empty bowl of the not-fountain and covering herself with her wings. She let out a shriek as she felt something tap her rump. Whirling around, she saw a diminutive gargoyle, about half the size of the others. She squeaked in fear. “W-why are you doing this?” The gargoyle looked at her quizzically.

Rainbow Dash meanwhile was putting her pursuers through their paces. She quickly realized that the gargoyles couldn’t match her. Dash led them on a merry chase, always keeping just out of reach. She darted from place to place, doubling back only to circle around and end up chasing THEM.

The confused creatures ended up crashing into one another as they tried to follow her ridiculous stunts or by simply trying to just stay out of her way. And her ground-based friends were holding up rather well too. But in the end, their sheer number of their foes would eventually win out.

Even now they had them backed up in a ring around the bowl in the center of the floor, pressed on all sides by the gargoyle horde. Fluttershy and her gargoyle companion were left unnoticed. “Please….we don’t need to fight.” She urged softly. “Won’t you talk to us? I-I know you’re intelligent. Please—talk to me.”

The small gargoyle clucked its tongue. “You…invaded our rookery.” It said, the first words that had been spoken to the ponies. Its voice was male, at least, that’s how Fluttershy thought of it.

“We didn’t mean to!” Fluttershy insisted. “We were just trying to—LOOK OUT!” She yelped as she tugged him down, just as a stray blast of magic nearly took his head off. Fluttershy had unconsciously extended her wings, shielding the gargoyle with her body.

The bat-winged creature looked at her with wide eyes. “Y-you saved me.” It whispered. “Why?”

“Because I don’t like seeing anypony—or anyone—getting hurt.” Fluttershy said softly, looking down. Then she raised her head. “That’s why I’m going to stop this fight, right now!” With as forceful a flap of her wings as she could manage, Fluttershy rose above the din and gave an all-mighty cry of “stop.”

Of course, being Fluttershy, her version of an all-mighty cry was the equivalent of a loud whisper. So she tried again. This time her volume was somewhere between a startled yelp and an obnoxious guy who talks during the movies. However, being a bright canary yellow pegasus hovering in mid-air wasn’t something that was going to be easily missed in the middle of a fight. A trio of gargoyles flew her way, hooves outstretched. She let out a startled shriek.

“FLUTTERSHY!” Rainbow Dash shouted, seeing the danger. She tucked her wings back and dropped, dive-bombing two of them right out of the sky. The third gargoyle was right within striking distance when the small gargoyle suddenly popped up, interposing himself between Fluttershy and her would-be assaulter.

“Wait!” He cried, waving his hands. “STOP!”

Where Fluttershy couldn’t make herself heard, the gargoyle did. Everypony, zebra and gargoyle stopped to watch and listen. Timidly, Fluttershy flew up next to her defender and coughed meekly. “Um, excuse me but…what are we fighting about?”

“You trespassed in our clan rookery.” Grumbled one of the gargoyles.

“Oh yeah?” Rainbow Dash shouted back. “Well you work for that creep Nightmare Moon!”

That caused some angry hissing from the clan of gargoyles. “She is the Princess of the moon, our angel of the night.” Replied one of the larger ones. “We have sworn to protect her night since time out of mind.”

“The only thing out of their minds is you.” Applejack snorted. “That there pony is EVIL! Nopony follows her, so why should you?”

There was an angry flapping of wings. “She defended us! Thousands of years ago, she decreed that none shall lift a hoof or claw against a gargoyle as we are in our stone sleep in the day. In gratitude we protected ponykind as it slumbered in the night, unappreciative of our Princess’ hard work and kindness.”

“That must’ve been before she became Nightmare Moon.” Twilight mused to herself.

Fluttershy took a deep breath and landed in front of her friends. “I-if you want to protect ponies, then why didn’t you give us a chance to explain? Why help Nightmare Moon?”

The lead gargoyle narrowed his eyes. “After our lady’s banishment, we were subject to distrust and attack by ponies. This place was built by our Princess to be our sanctuary…only when we all came we ended up being frozen in our stone slumber for a thousand years! Were it not for the moonlight of the full, unblemished moon, we would still be asleep. Our Lady of the night is the only pony we trust now.”

“Is that so?” Rainbow Dash said challengingly. “Then why didn’t she come wake you up? If you’re her ‘protectors of the night’ or whatever, how come she resorted to turning ordinary ponies into her minions?”

“You lie!” Growled the gargoyle.

“No way! Nightmare Moon turned a friend of mine, a mother, into a mindless minion—complete with gargoyle wings! Obviously she wanted to get an improved model.” Dash snorted. “That’s who Nightmare Moon is…she left a little filly motherless so she could have herself a new army.”

Fluttershy nodded, mustering her courage and steeling herself. “S-she’s telling the truth!” She stared at the gargoyles, meeting their gaze. Hard. “It was Rarity who cleaned the observatory! If it weren’t for her the mirrors wouldn’t have caught the moonlight and woken you up. The only thing Nightmare Moon cares about is ruling Equestria…not taking care of anypony or creature. If she makes it nighttime forever, then that means you’ll never sleep again, right? Because you sleep in the day? How is that good for you?” She perched her hooves on her hips, looking down at them sternly. “You should be ashamed of yourselves! Attacking ponies who didn’t even know they were doing anything wrong.”

The gargoyles shuffled their hooves, cringing away from her disappointed look. Fluttershy took another breath, nervous at public speaking, especially in front of her friends and a hundred scary gargoyles. “Nightmare Moon isn’t the same pony as the one who protected you all those years ago. She doesn’t care about you…” she waited, seeing that wash over the stunned gargoyles. None of them could look at the soft teal eyes of Fluttershy and find a shred of deception or guile in her. They wilted in on themselves, knowing themselves abandoned and betrayed by the one pony they thought they could always count on. Fluttershy took a deep breath. “But I do.” They all looked up at her.

“I’ve worked with creatures other ponies find scary: bats and owls and snakes and others. But all creatures, be they ponies or gargoyles, deserve to be shown a little kindness and compassion.” She slowly walked up and gently rubbed patted the open hand of one of the gargoyles with her hoof. “I know that someponies didn’t understand you and I’m sorry for that. We don’t want to use you or to hurt you. We’d like to be your friends, if you’d let us.”
The gargoyles looked down at Fluttershy’s wide pleading eyes, shimmering ever so slightly as she shyly patted the big one’s hand. They didn’t stand a chance.

“Very well.” Rumbled the leader. “We…apologize. You may pass through.” He folded his wings against himself and bowed elegantly. “You have given us much to think about. If what you say of Nightmare Moon is true, then our oath to the night princess will be…reconsidered.”

At a nod, the gargoyles parted ranks leaving a path open to the far exit. Slowly, the seven equines backed their way towards the exit. They had just reached the exit when they heard a soft “Wait.” Fluttershy and the others turned just in time to see the lead gargoyle and the smaller one Fluttershy befriended kneeling on one knee, bowing their heads to her. The rest of the clan soon followed suit until every gargoyle was kneeling and bowing to HER. To Fluttershy.

She colored a bright pink and squeaked shyly, giving a tiny nod before her nerves failed her and she darted out of the observatory, followed closely by her friends. None of them seemed any more capable of speech than her. Rainbow Dash, typically, recovered first.

“Fluttershy! That. Was. AWESOME!” She swirled around exuberantly in midair. “I can’t believe it!”

“Neither can I.” The demure pegasus shuddered.

“The way you told them off and got them to back down—” Dash gushed. “Fluttershy, you are a champ!”

She blushed. “It was nothing really. I think really they just needed to be shown a little compassion It really goes a long way.”

“So now WE can go a long way!” Rainbow Dash grinned as she zipped ahead. “It’s smooth flying all the way to—aaaah!” She found herself being roughly tossed backwards, her body surrounded with a glow of magical energy. Applejack and Zecora caught her. “What the hay?” Everypony looked up.

Standing directly in their path, with the old palace directly behind him, was a large dark unicorn standing in the shadows. When he stepped forward they saw a dark coated stallion wearing dark purple armor. The only identifying mark on him was a dragon-like eye on the front of his armor. His grin was anything but friendly.

“Hello Twiley, Dashie.” He smirked, his voice at once familiar and foreign.

Twilight gasped. “Shining Armor…”