• 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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Leaving the Nest

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The morning sun found Rainbow Dash in the middle of the Palace labyrinth. It wasn’t the first time she’d snuck out to spend the night by herself and probably wouldn’t be the last. She shivered as she stirred, wishing she had the presence of mind to grab a cloud to sleep on last night. Stretching, she flew off into the morning air. Time for a little morning exercise.

Within moments she encountered a patrol of royal pegasus guards—no doubt with orders to keep an eye out for her. “Hey you guys!” She waved. “What’s up?”

“Rainbow Dash!” The leader of the patrol said in his best Royal Guard I-am-serious-and-you-will-obey voice. “You are ordered to return to Canterlot Castle immediately!”

She pretended to think about it. “Sure!” Rainbow Dash smiled. “No problem! But you know the rules…You have to catch me first!”

“Get back here!” The familiar cry was music to her ears. The pegasus flew between the towers of Canterlot castle as the squad of guards chased after her in pursuit.

Rainbow Dash turned her head back and grinned cheekily. “Sorry guys, you gotta earn it!” She performed a barrel roll and ended doing a slow backstroke in the sky, taunting the guards. Dash let them get so close that the tip of her tail tickled their snouts…only to then put on a sudden burst of speed that left them all blinded by her rainbow trail.

By the time they finished blinking and rubbing their eyes, Rainbow Dash was nowhere to be seen. Looking up from the castle courtyard, the captain of the royal guard shook his head. “Every time…” Then he closed his eyes and started counting. “Three…two…one…”

Tap tap! He felt a hoof gently rapping on his helmet. Right on time, he thought in bemusement. Even before he finished turning around he sighed and said, “Hello Rainbow Dash.”

“Hey Shiny!” She gave a cheeky wave and a grin. “What’s up, besides me, of course?”

“Rainbow Dash…” Shining Armor gave a rueful groan, unable to completely hide his knowing smile. “What is this, the third time this week? Give the poor pegasus guards a break! They have better things to do than to chase you around Canterlot.”

“Eh, not much of a chase. Chase implies that they had a chance of catching me. Which they didn’t!” She buffed her hoof on her chest.

Shining Armor chuckled. They’d had this little game going for years. “Yes, yes, I know. You’re awesome.” He rolled his eyes.

“Darn right!” Rainbow Dash flexed. “So what’s going on?”

“Just doing my job and checking up on my favorite flier.” He put his hoof on her shoulder, gently easing her to the ground. “So what’s going on with you?”

Rainbow Dash colored a bit as Shining Armor touched her. “N-nothing! Nothing’s going on!” She gave her widest, most confident looking smile that utterly failed to convince anypony.

Shining resisted the urge to laugh. He’d known Rainbow Dash practically since he’d joined the Royal Guard, not long after she’d been brought to Canterlot. He quickly became aware of Princess Celestia’s mischievous student by the series of pranks she liked to play on the royal guard, such as putting itching powder in his armor on his first day when he was guarding Princess Celestia. That was the longest guard shift, EVER.

The Royal Guard was alternatively aggravated and amused by the prankster pegasus and unofficially adopted her as the guard’s mascot. In fact, her pranks became part of the initiation for new members. Shining Armor supposed that the guard command figured that if the guards could put up with Rainbow Dash’s practical jokes, they could put up with anything. That and guards who weren’t paying their utmost attention had a higher risk of ending up the butt of one of her pranks. Shining Armor learned that the hard way.

It wasn’t long however before he quickly became her favorite target: hiding his armor, stealing his alarm clock, putting hot sauce in his breakfast, the works. It annoyed him to no end, practically driving him to distraction. It was only with time that he realized that the little pegasus filly had developed a crush on him. It was…sweet, if more than a bit annoying at times. Especially when it resulted with him showing up to escort nobles and guests of the Princess with his armor painted bright pink or had childish limericks scrawled on the side.

Shining Armor never let on that he was aware of her childhood crush and instead decided to treat her like his little sister—that is, if his little sister was a mischievous, cocky speed demon with a penchant for getting herself into trouble and needed him to bail her out whenever she got in over her head.

Still, from time to time Rainbow Dash’s crush on him could come in handy. Shining Armor knew just how to put her off guard and fluster her. Aside from being cute to make the normally brash and unreserved pegasus blush, it was a useful interrogation technique.

“Are you sure?” Shining Armor let a smile tug at the corner of his mouth. “As much as you like leading the guards on a merry chase around the city, you usually don’t do it more than twice a week. So tell me, what’s up?”

Rainbow Dash looked down, scuffing at the pavement. She really didn't want to talk about last night. “I guess I’m just feeling kinda…bored.”

“Bored?” Shining Armor raised a skeptical eyebrow. Rainbow Dash nodded in confirmation. “Dashie…” The pegasus flushed at the childish nickname. “You seriously mean to tell me that you’re bored in the royal city? Everything any pony could think of can be found here. Just what is it that you’re looking for?”

“I…don’t even know.” She looked away.

“Do you know just how lucky you are?” Shining Armor questioned. “You’re Princess Celestia’s own personal student, her protégé! My little sister Twiley would give her right hoof for that sort of opportunity!”

Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes. “Oh yeah, your famous sister. The one you’re always talking about but I never actually see. I’m starting to wonder if she even exists.”

Shining Armor grunted. He’d tried to lure his sister out of her room and the library to make friends with Dash. Celestia knew they both needed some. And if the brash and reckless Rainbow Dash and the nerdish, reclusive Twilight Sparkle could balance each other out, so much the better.

But Twilight had drawn into a shell following her near-disastrous entrance exam at Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns and refused to come out of it. Shaking that thought aside, Shining Armor pushed on. “Anyway, what do you mean when you say you’re bored?”

“Just what it sounds like!” Rainbow Dash stomped her hoof. “Princess Celestia is great and all but Canterlot is so BORING! With these snobby nobles and all their rules about which fork to use and their boring music and their even more boring conversations! Ugh and don’t get me started on the fancy parties and the frou-frou outfits they make me wear! I don’t even know why the princess makes me go to them!” She made a gagging motion. “I’ve had my fill of it! I want to race! I want to fly fast! I feel trapped!” She looked up at him, almost begging him to understand. “What’s the point in having wings if you never get to stretch them?”

“…this is about the Sonic Rainboom, isn’t it?” Shining asked softly. Rainbow Dash lowered her head and looked away. He sighed. “I’m sorry. I know how hard you’ve been trying to do it again. But these things take time…”

“Time?!” Rainbow Dash’s head snapped up, tears of anger and frustration building in her eyes. “It’s been AGES! I haven’t been able to even come close to pulling of a Sonic Rainboom since the first time! Princess Celestia said she’d teach me--help me ‘master my gifts’ but nothing’s happened! I bet I could’ve done it by now if she didn’t keep wasting my time and bringing me to all those boring dinners and reading all that boring stuff…” She deflated and added with a low mumble. “…and maybe everypony would see whatever it is Princess Celestia sees in me.”

He had to resist the urge to reach over and hug the younger filly. But she didn’t need him to feel sorry for her; it wouldn’t change anything. Princess Celestia had told him that in the moment in which Rainbow Dash had performed the Sonic Rainboom, a magical connection had been formed; binding Rainbow Dash’s fate to those of several other ponies scattered about Equestria. She had decided to bring Rainbow Dash to Canterlot to keep an eye on her and to study this magical connection and who the ponies were that she was bound to. If Celestia ever discovered anything, she had not confided it with her captain.

Instead, Shining Armor snorted. “Oh that’s just nonsense talk!” He tossed his head, indicating the place where she had just lost her pursuers. “You’re the most naturally talented flier I’ve ever seen! Your speed and agility is incredible and it’s only gotten better.”

“Still not good enough for the Wonderbolts. Still can’t perform the Sonic Rainboom again.” She crossed her legs across her chest in a pout. “Last time I went back to Cloudsdale none of the other pegasi believed that I could have ever performed a Sonic Rainboom. They just called it an old mare’s tale and said that I didn’t have the skill to pull it off.”

The older unicorn gently draped a hoof over her back. “That’s why you’re Princess Celestia’s student and they’re not. You’re a dreamer Dash, and you dream big. Just like the old pegasus saying. Aim for the heavens…”

“Even if you miss you'll land among the stars.” Rainbow Dash finished. “I know.” She looked up as if trying to see those stars, despite the sun being out. “They just seem so far away…and I’m not getting any closer.”

A quirked eyebrow was Shining Armor’s response. “Hm. I never took you for a quitter Rainbow Dash.”

She flinched as if stung, whirling on him. “I’m no quitter!”

“Well all this moping about and complaining. It seems kinda…” Shining gave a small cherubic grin calculated to drive anypony nuts. The sight of Rainbow Dash’s rose colored eyes narrowing told him that it was working.

“Don’t. You. Dare.” She ground out.

“…Lame.” Shining Armor smirked then quickly moved to the side as Rainbow Dash came within an inch of tackling him to the ground.

“I’ll show you lame!” She snarled, turning around. “I’m gonna kick your flank so hard they’ll have to change your name to Dented Armor!”

Shining Armor chuckled. “You’ll have to catch me first!” With a burst of light and a low ‘pop!’ he vanished in a magical teleport. Rainbow Dash fumed and took off, searching all over the palace for the captain of the royal guard.

From her balcony, Princess Celestia watched the whole scene with a small smile gracing her royal visage. Celestia closed her eyes as she let herself drift back to that fateful day. She’d left Canterlot to follow a bright rainbow, only to find an even brighter one at the end.

She sighed to herself. When she had asked Rainbow Dash to be her personal student she told the young filly that she would have to work hard. What the princess had discovered was that she had to work just as hard. Rainbow Dash was a project, make no mistake. It was like being a sculptor: having to chip and smooth and polish the statue that lay hidden beneath the rock. It required a lot of effort on both their parts.

And to her credit, Rainbow Dash had worked hard. But much to her discomfort, Celestia didn’t simply teach her how to strengthen her body and fly; she had taught her history, science, literature, mathematics and other pursuits that Rainbow Dash considered to be the province of ‘eggheads.’ Celestia had tried to teach her some of the proper manners to make her stay in Canterlot easier, but those had never caught on. Even the princess and mover of the sun knew a lost cause when she saw it. Instead, she redoubled her efforts to train Rainbow Dash in mind and body and spirit. While often complaining to anypony willing to listen how ‘lame’ they were, Rainbow Dash put up with them all for the chance of becoming a better athlete and flier.

But Rainbow Dash could never keep her muzzle out of trouble. It wasn’t long before she became bored with her studies, frustrated with her lack of progress and ultimately, restless. And a restless Rainbow Dash was a dangerous thing indeed.

It wasn’t long before she started getting into trouble in Canterlot. Zooming through the streets at low altitudes, leading the guards on merry chases through the skies of the city, playing her practical jokes on the guards, the servants, the palace staff…even the Princess herself once or twice!

As rambunctious as she was, Princess Celestia only had to put her hoof down once or twice for Rainbow Dash to learn where the line was. Even the most foolhardy would think twice before risking Celestia’s anger. From then on Rainbow Dash would always skirt the line, seeing just how far she could push the limits, but never crossing it.

However, Celestia did not want to crush Rainbow Dash’s free spirit. Privately, she hadn’t had this much fun in Canterlot since her sister…well, that was another story. Still, the corridors of the palace had never been so loud with the sounds of laughter and the skies of the city have never been brighter.

She wondered sometimes if making Dash her personal student had been fair to her. Rainbow Dash had never managed to form strong connections with any of the other young ponies in Canterlot, who tended to be mostly unicorns, the children of merchants, traders or nobleponies. There was little common ground between them and the brash, adventurous pegasus (literally). Rainbow Dash’s pride and her impatience tended to grate on many of her peers just as much as their snobbiness and persnickety nature grated on her. Last night’s blow up, as regrettable as it was, was perhaps…inevitable. Celestia sighed. But perhaps she was just being selfish. She’d seen Rainbow Dash grow increasingly frustrated and restless in Canterlot. It was simply too small to contain her, and she wasn’t talking about size.

Rainbow Dash bolted to the last place she saw a flash of purple, atop one of the spires of Canterlot Castle. “Gotcha!” She crowed as she bared down on Shining Armor. At the last second he teleported out, leaving Dash with a face full of tower. “Ow.”

Rubbing her snout ruefully, she cast around to catch a glimpse of her quarry. As she did, the sprawling valley below the mountains that held Canterlot aloft seemed to open up beneath her. She could practically see forever! All the other towns and villages of Equestria looked so close that Rainbow Dash felt like she only needed to stretch out her hoof and grab them!

That was when a burst of inspiration struck her. Why not go check them out? Her eyes lit up. It was a great idea! After last night she’d *definitely* had enough of the Canterlot scene for a while…and she had to admit, she wanted to put a little distance between herself and Celestia until they could cool down. They’ve fought before and Rainbow knew the worst thing the do would be to try to talk the Princess before they were both ready. Besides, the Princess would be swamped with preparing for the Summer Sun Celebration in a few days she probably wouldn’t even miss her. Then when everything was done and they’d both had some time to themselves, Rainbow Dash would go and apologize. Plus it would be a great prank to imagine Shining Armor teleporting all over town before realizing that she wasn’t chasing him anymore. Classic!

With a determined grin she threw herself off the tower, letting gravity pull her low until she was right at treetop level. Then she pulled up with a spectacular twirl and set herself against the crystal blue sky; letting herself go wherever the wind may take her.

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