• Published 21st Jan 2017
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The First Wonderbolt - Essay Jay

When an unnatural phenomenon sends Rainbow Dash back in time, she must adapt to an Equestria at war while all the while looking for a way to get back home.

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Issue 2.5 - A Change of Pace [Revised]

“Miss… Paper Weight?” a gentle stallion asked as he approached the desk, looking at the tag.

Paper Weight only smiled and nodded. “Yes, that would be me. What can I do for you, sir?”

The stallion smiled warmly. “Miss Paper Weight, you have already done enough to brighten my day with your smile.” At the comment, Paper Weight began to blush. He continued. “But if you wouldn’t mind me asking, just who was it in this hospital was recorded with a… ‘Class M’ injury?”

Paper Weight blinked, before checking her records and any pre-prepared notes on whether she was allowed to say. “I’m not sure whether I’m authorized to tell you anything, so if you would just wait a moment.”

Seeing the mare shuffling about, he widened his eyes in remembrance.“Ah! Yes. Here are my credentials and pardon papers, to make things easier.” Paper Weight glanced up from her rummaging and smiled primly, quite relieved. Taking them in her hoof, she looked them over, and her eyes were drawn to one particular symbol.

“The… Manehatten-”

“Yes, Miss Weight,” the stallion nodded. “It would be best if you were not to mention such aloud.”

“But of course,” Paper Weight acknowledged, hoofing the papers back. “Two floors up, Doctor. Rainbow Dash, attending physician Radial Art and Nurse Greywall. Room 319. You can’t miss it.”

“Thank you, my dear,” he murmured warmly. “Enjoy the rest of your afternoon.”

Paper Weight beamed. “Thank you, Doctor. Not many ponies are as appreciative as you.”

Tipping his hat to her, he smiled. With nothing else holding him down, he made his way to the stairs. Climbing the flights, his thoughts turned to who this pony might just be. Who could be reckless enough… crazy enough… and careless enough to let something happen to them? Surely, it would be somepony with nothing to lose… or else it would be an unfortunate soul.

Mind lost in thought, he nearly tripped when two little fillies ran into him, knocking him a few feet back in surprise. The two giggled at each other before looking up in sudden realization. Seeing their expressions turn to grimaces and apologies, he quickly stepped forward to remedy the situation. With an open expression speaking of forgiveness and mirth, he smiled.

“Ah, two adventurous souls running into an old shnitzel like me! What could possibly bring a gaggle of young madchen to such a confining space of the afflicted?”

The pink and blue one’s face instantly shone with pride and happiness, as did the filly beside her. “Well, me and Sky were just checking up on the greatest pegasus- er- sister in the whole world!”

“She saved us and everything just before we got her here too!” the filly named ‘Sky’ said. “I think I respect her just as much as Firefly does now!”

Firefly nodded her head vigorously.

Crouching low, almost as if he was ready to pounce, he stretched his lips in jovial accord. “So, you admire a mare that is capable of incredible feats of bravery to stand up for two amazing little fillies?”

“Hey, I’m not little!” the one named ‘Firefly’ accused.

“Yeah!” Sky pouted. Both pegasi began to flutter their wings, which he found outright adorable.
Grinning, he backed away slightly, waving a hoof. “Oh, but of course! You are such dashing grown ups to be here in a hospital with scary needles and blades, visiting a good relative.”

“Rainbow Dash isn’t good, she’s great! Yup yup!” Firefly agreed. “We just came from her finally walking again after only, like, five days!”

He raised an eyebrow at her before looking at Sky. Sky bobbed her head in agreement. “You should’ve seen her, all tired and sick, but she still began to walk in front of us!”

Hearing that, he was impressed inside. Only a pony with resilience and steadfastness would be able to attempt such a feat. With a mental smirk, he smiled once more. “But of course, you must be amazing yourselves to be visiting her.”

“That they, are,” a yellow mare said, approaching from behind the fillies. “Hello there, mister…?”

The stallion nodded, obliging. “Ah, but of course. Introductions are all but necessary, yes?” Stretching out a hoof, he smiled as she took it and shook. “Goldheart, usually affixed with the title ‘doctor’, but such titles are unnecessary in these instances, hm?”

She smiled at him with tired, understanding eyes. “As one attached to such a prefix, I can understand. Terra Cell, doctor, aunt, and friend.”

“Doctor Cell?” Goldheart asked, pulling the name from his head. “Co-inventor of many First-Aid practices several years before the war?”

Wincing, Terra sighed. “As you can see, the name brings with it accomplishments.”

“I am sorry, Fraulein, I did not mean to bring up any unwanted attention,” Goldheart apologized. “But it is most interesting to find you here in the wings of a hospital.”

“If only the same could be said, Goldheart,” Terra murmured. “I have to get these girls home before bedtime, so it was very nice meeting you. Thanks for humoring -erm- my little fillies after their rude collision with you.

“Think nothing of it, Fraulein,” Goldheart bowed, “I live to bring the best out of ponies and other kinds alike.”

“I’m certain you do, Doctor,” Terra smiled, already pulling Firefly and Sky along as she began to trot forward.. “You seem decent enough. It was nice meeting you.” They proceeded to begin to walk past him.

“And you as well, madame.” Tipping his hat as they passed, he sighed softly, holding the hat to his chest and looking forward with trepidation, and a soft, gentle smile.

“Rainbow Dash… interesting,” he murmured.

Rainbow Dash felt the smile cling to her face before it began to fade away, whatever her physician or nurse was saying was lost to her.

She stared at the open doorway with mixed feelings, wondering what in Equestria she was going to do. Who she might become for Firefly. Would she be a surrogate sister? Would she become a close friend? A role-model?

She couldn’t help but wonder, her eyes darting to her fiddling, shrivelled hooves.

“...and make sure to get lots of water, as I always remind you after our sessions,” Radial droned.

“...I’ll be sure to take care of her, Doctor Art,” Nurse Greywall smiled. With a nod, Radial Art smiled at Rainbow Dash and turned to leave the room. As he left, he passed a hatted stallion, who smiled and tipped his hat. Nodding back, Radial Art left, and Goldheart stood at the doorway to 319.

“How are you doing, Rainbow Dash?”

Rainbow Dash didn’t reply.

As Greywall fidgeted, she heard a knock at the door. Seeing Goldheart, the nurse furrowed her brows. “Hello, Fraulein,” Goldheart greeted, “I’m here to see Miss Rainbow Dash.”

“Are you a family member or close family friend?” she asked, stepping away from her patient. Rainbow Dash’s ears flicked.

“Quite the opposite,” Goldheart smiled warmly, “But I wish to remedy such a situation. I’m to be expected, of this I am sure.”

Raising an eyebrow, she looked at the visitor's roster and pursed her lips. “Doctor Goldheart?”

“Der einzig wahre.” Goldheart nodded, holding his hat to his chest and bowing slightly.

Smiling nervously, the nurse nodded back and placed the clipboard down. Turning to Rainbow Dash, she said “You’ve got another visitor, Rainbow. He’s a doctor, like Radial, so he’ll be good company!”

Rainbow Dash stayed silent.

Biting her lip, Nurse Greywall sighed and nodded to Goldheart again before trotting out of the room. This left the remaining two occupants to settle in the imposed silence.

As Goldheart looked Rainbow Dash over, he couldn’t help but pity her. Everything about her told him she was sick. The way her wings and feathers drooped. How her mane lay limp. Her coat was a shade greyer and her frame seemed emaciated and unhealthily thin. Goldheart could tell from one look that at another time, she had been beautiful. Dashing and athletic, even. Alas, his eyes pitied the mare in front of her.

Pulling a chair up from the wall, he positioned himself by the foot of Rainbow’s bed and joined her in looking out the window at the cityscape before them.

Rainbow Dash tore herself away from her introspection as she looked the suited pony up and down. His somewhat ill-fitting suit, his tie, and his hat. The spectacles he wore were round and small, perfectly fitting on the middle of his muzzle.

“When I was a child, cities like this fascinated me,” Goldheart whispered, his eyes twinkling. “How other ponies built their house, instead of carving or growing them from the crystals blessed to us by the earth.”

Rainbow watched him with squinted eyes. Goldheart noticed this, and shook his head slightly.

“You have nothing to fear from me, mein freund,” Goldheart murmured. “I wish only to talk.”

Wiggling her jaw with a degree of annoyance, Rainbow turned to look out the window.

He continued. “When I grew up, I knew I wanted to move away from our kingdom’s citadel and find a place in the world. Make a difference, and… and make everyone’s lives, pony or otherwise, better.”

Rainbow silently listened, if only because she was tired of her own musings.

“And then the war started, of this I’m sure you know. It started two years ago, and with it rose the mighty King Sombra. Small at first, ja? Nothing to warrant attention… until late into last summer when things started to kick up.”

Talk of the Crystal War now brought Rainbow’s full attention to him.

“I… I can sense it within you, Fraulein,” Goldheart said. “The will to do good. The strength to overcome trials. A heart of gold… as it were.”

Rainbow sighed, her eyes drooping to her reflection in the window once more. “Fat load that does me. Now I’m sitting in a dank hospital with nothing but my… m-my reflection to keep me company.”

“You were injured, ja?” Goldheart asked. “Saving those fillies I bumped into in the hall?”

Rainbow pursed her lips. “Mm…” she hummed quietly.

“A brave gesture, considering what came of it.”

Rainbow shot her eyes at Goldheart. “I didn’t get this from that,” Rainbow croaked. “I… I tried to save some ponies on a… on a b-battlefield… this small bomb or something stuck into the ground and exploded some weird black dust in the air… and… everything started to die. E-everything…”

It was Goldheart’s turn to watch Rainbow as she bore her gaze into the window once more. He could see the twinge of confusion and fear in her eyes. The way they glinted almost… differently. Looking at his files in hoof, he shuffled a couple pages to the forefront and pored over them once more, looking over the results from all the testing that had been done on Rainbow Dash.

It was the most curious thing to him. He could see the mare in front of him struggling to breathe, and yet, something was sustaining her. Goldheart believed one great factor was sheer willpower, a kind he had seen far and few in between ponies, but also a desperation that pushed her forward. The more medical and practical explanation, however… it was many times more interesting.

A wither-bomber should have killed her. It should have corrupted her very life essence and damned it to oblivion. It should’ve been her end. And yet, by these reports, he saw something remarkably different. The doctors at the hospital, this hospital, however good they were, didn’t understand what they saw, but Goldheart certainly did.

Something was combating the disease. The dark magic that leeched and fed on the good of the world and the life that it sustains. A swirl of energies, an amalgam of magic that was so beautifully complex even Goldheart had trouble understanding it, but it was something. In truth, Rainbow was and would likely be the first and last pony to survive the use of such a spell. He knew what it did. And he finally found a pony who could help him.

“Fraulein, if I may,” Goldheart started, watching as Rainbow paid no mind to him, “There is a way I can help you. A way for you to be whole again. Restored. And, in the most likely of cases, even enhanced.”

Rainbow’s ears flicked at the notion, this time slowly turning her head to look at the doctor. Her baffled expression was a novelty to Goldheart. She said “Did I hear you just right, egghead? Did you say you can fix this-” she motioned to herself weakly “and even make me better? Have you been hit in the head too hard?”

Goldheart let a light chuckle escape his lips. “Ah, yes, snark away my dear. It is good to know you are still alive.” Leaning in a bit more conspiratorially, he began putting his files back into his folder. “Yes, it is possible. Granted, this is experimental, as you are such a unique case, so I cannot guarantee your survival…”

Rainbow found herself saying “What about me makes me so unique?” Surprised at herself, she wondered if she too was going crazy, as if she wasn’t the first pony to pull a rainboom and wasn’t an Element of Harmony.

“Well,” Goldheart said, “Let us put it this way. You are alive because there is something special about you. Do you not know that no mortal, save a few special cases (namely the Two Sisters and certain dragons), has survived what you have? The Wither, as you have described it, is just that. It withers everything it touches. It kills the light around it and thus suffocates the life it sustains. But you, you were able to beat it back. Something happened, ja? I believe, something extraordinary?”

Rainbow paused for a moment before nodding. “I, I guess, yeah. I pulled a sonic rainboom. It’s something that’s supposed to be legendary, and every time I pull it off it releases a lot of magic.”

“A ‘sonic rainboom’?” Goldheart mused with a soft smile. “Well, that certainly helps narrow it down. Mein freund, if you were to accept my offer, not only would I be able to help you, but you may very well give Equestria a fighting chance in this war. Does that not sound like a fair deal?”

“And how exactly would I help when I’m like this?” Rainbow snapped. “Right now, the wind could push me over and I’d snap like a twig. How could I help you?”

“That is for me to know, and you to find out.” Goldheart smiled. “But there are certain hurdles I am unable to dismiss even with my status. There is a war camp just outside of here you must enlist in before I allow you to take part in my little project. I am very sure, however, that even if you are not chosen, I would be able to pull some strings.”

“So is that all?” Rainbow asked. “I’ll be some sort of lab rat? An experiment? I’ve been in a lab way too many times because of my friend Twilight. No thanks.”

“No, no,” Goldheart assured. “You will not be experimented on like that.” With a grin, he added “I promise there won’t be needles either.”

Rainbow shivered. “You better make good on that promise, doctor.”

“I will do my best,” Goldheart admitted. “Just… remember that what is coming, should you choose to accept, will be gruelling, burdening, and I would not be able to guarantee your survival. It will be a challenge in and of itself.”

“So you’re saying I could die?”

Goldheart, expecting the direct translation, bowed his head a little with hesitancy. “That is correct, mein freund.”

As a pregnant silence filled the air, Goldheart looked up to see Rainbow Dash lost in deep thought. No doubt coming to terms with all that had just been discussed, and processing everything that was said. He could definitely see the contemplation in her eyes as she stared into her own reflection, an unknown question filling her eyes.

Finally, after some time, Rainbow whispered something. “Pardon? Goldheart asked.

“I’m… gonna become a soldier?”

Goldheart nodded. “Yes, but not just a soldier. A super soldier.”

Rainbow pondered the conundrum presented to her. On one hoof, she had promised her newly named sisters-in-all-but-blood that she would be there for them, but at what cost? Going to a camp, going through war drills, being ordered around, gone for months on end… What kind of Element of Loyalty would she be if she abandoned Firefly and Sky just after she said she would stay with them? But then, what kind of Element of Loyalty would she be if she also let monstrosities like the one she was battling get let loose on Equestria as a whole?

Feeling a headache coming, she closed her eyes and focused inwards. She’d been doing a lot of that lately. And it seemed to help focus her. She tried to gather her thoughts, but they scattered like dust in the wind, like the life that withered away, like her own body. Would it be right to let Equestria fall, to even maintain the idea that she could’ve helped save Equestria but let it fall to a mad tyrant like Sombra? But was it alright to leave behind fillies who were already suffering loss, abandonment?

To maintain the future, or live in the past?

Or maybe she could do both.

Taking a deep breath, she stared Goldheart in the eyes. “Will it... will it help me help everyone? Will it help me keep my promises?”

Goldheart was taken somewhat aback by this question, but he nodded earnestly, an amused smile quickly growing. “Don't worry, it is sure to make you the best große schwester you can be."

“And there won’t be needles?”

“I’ll do my best.”

"Firefly likes soldiers..." A beat. "Scootaloo digged soldiers..." A sigh later, she nodded her head. “Alright. Yeah. Whatever. I’m in.” Goldheart beamed. Just as he was about to say something else, however, he was interrupted by Rainbow Dash.

“But seriously dude, I know a hoof-ful of crystal ponies and none of them sound like they're from Germaney.”

Goldheart did a double take.

“What’s your deal, dude?” Rainbow asked, tiredly raising an eyebrow.

Goldheart blinked. “Er, I… studied abroad for a long time. I picked up a few things in my travels, Fraulein. Heh, I suppose it is somewhat strange-"

Rainbow waved a hoof. “Y’know what? I know a lot of ponies with accents. Not all that strange, actually. As long as we can trust each other, yeah?"

Goldheart chuckled softly.

“Loud and clear, mein kleines pony.”

Author's Note:

Edit: Some small details for flow.

Edit 2: Better revisions in the second half of the chapter.