• 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 3.1 - When Help Means Nothing

Rainbow stared listlessly at the wall opposite of her.

She didn’t really notice when her skin was pierced and blood was taken from her. She didn’t really hear the words being said to her. She didn’t really notice anypony around her. Only when she couldn’t feel the cold needle in her blood did she acknowledge anypony else.

“Think ya got enough?” Rainbow whispered, looking to the floor beside her before staring forward again.

Russet sighed. “Any hope of keeping this project going lies within your blood, Rainbow. And without Goldheart… it could take years. Years we might not have.”

Rainbow wiggled her jaw. “He… he shouldn’t have gone out the way he did. He was a good pony. He deserved more, way more. Especially when I had given up on myself, he gave me something to look forward to.” Rainbow tore her gaze from the wall and to the sky outside. “I just… I’ve never given up on myself like that and he believed in me. Just like my… my f-friends would’ve.”

Russet pursed her lips, putting the syringe and flask down. Walking over to Rainbow, she put a hoof around her and smiled. “Hey, if it could only work once, I’m sure he’d be proud it’s you.”

Sighing, Rainbow turned to look at Russet and gave a small smile back. “Yeah,” Rainbow whispered. Patting Russet on the foreleg, she turned her attention back to the window, before looking down at her hooves. Feeling her ears flicker, though, Rainbow frowned, and she began to hear the nearing voices of Colonel Bellum among others she didn’t recognise. Turning her head to look into the main space out of the medical view box, she glanced at Russet, and they both nodded. Walking out and down the stairs, Rainbow tuned in fully, listening to their voices echo.

Hearing a voice already speaking, one she could almost remember hearing at one time, she flicked her ear. “...I’m probably the most qualified pony in all of Equestria to study this, and that’s putting it modestly. I don’t know what was inside it, what kind of crystal it’s made of, or why it combusted the way it did. Coming to me with more than a dozen pieces of shrapnel and a vague outline just puts the cherry on top.”

“Well, Miss Belle,” a voice Rainbow didn’t recognise said, “Who made it then?”

“Hydra,” Colonel Bellum said immediately. Finally leaving the stairs, Rainbow and Russet could see Colonel Bellum standing beside two well-dressed ponies facing Luster Belle, who was donned with her goggles and covered in soot standing beside the wreckage of the plane Rainbow had crashed. “I’m sure you’ve been reading our briefings.”

The pony beside the Colonel frowned as he turned to him. “I’m on more than one committee, Colonel. Please enlighten me.”

“Hydra is what we believe to be their deep studies division, led by the pony we know as Insomnia. A right hoof to Sombra, but by the looks of things, he has even bigger aspirations.”

Rainbow turned and stared at Russet for a second before remembering she was a pretty top class secret agent and shaking her head. She knew of Insomnia? Hm…

“Hydra is basically a cult. Their followers worship Insomnia. They think he’s higher and mightier than even Sombra, to the point of invincibility.”

Rainbow blinked. Goldheart had told her Insomnia was pretty crazy, but to this level? She was starting to think that maybe all he needed was a friendly conk on the head to readjust. Smiling at that, she continued to listen to the events playing out before her.

“So what are you going to do about it?” the well-dressed stallion said.

Colonel Bellum glanced at him before sighing and turning to Russet. “AIM is being reassigned. Spoke with Princess Celestia through the radios this morning.”

Rainbow watched as Russet blinked. “Colonel?”

“We’re taking the fight straight back to the Crystal Empire,” Bellum said. “Pack your bags. You too, Belle. You’re flying to Rainbow Falls tonight.”

Feeling like something was missing there, Rainbow quickly realised that she wasn’t invited. “Sir?” she tried, “If you’re going after Insomnia, then I’m coming too-”

The Colonel waved a hoof, interrupting Rainbow. “No can do, missy. You’re an experiment. Our one and only super soldier. You’re going to Baltimare.”

Rainbow, flabbergasted, frowned. “But Colonel, the stupid serum worked. And he ordered the hit on Goldheart. If there was anypony more dignified to strike back at him, it would be me!”

Bellum pursed his lips. “You. You’re one of a kind. I asked for an army, and I got a single soldier.” Stamping a hoof down he shook his head. “You are not enough!”

Rainbow could only frown. “...seriously? Are you serious?! Why can’t I do it!? They took Goldheart! I can’t just stand around and do nothing-!”

The pony with the suit put a reassuring hoof on Rainbow, interrupting her. Rainbow stared at the hoof before narrowing one eye at him. “With all due respect to Colonel Bellum, I think we might be missing the point. I’ve seen you in action, Miss Dash, but more importantly, Equestria has seen you in action.” He glanced behind him and said “Paper.” The younger stallion floated a newspaper to him, and the pony grasped it in his magic, showing the front page.

Rainbow read the article title and skimmed it.

The Equestrian Chronicle

Rainbow maned mare saves life of filly, Manehattenites relieved!

Just yesterday morning, an unnamed mare with a striking rainbow mane and tail saved the life of a filly, all the while pursuing the culprit that would dare harm a foal. The mother, along with many bystanders, were incredibly relieved to have somepony so brave and courageous living among them, and many also wonder if the mare is a soldier employed by the government.

Reporter Frantic Script has this to say…

Frowning, Rainbow eyed the pony holding the newspaper. “So?”

“So,” the stallion said, smiling, “You don’t hide something like that, a symbol of the country, in a lab. The enlistment lines have been around since your stunt, and there’s been a noticeable surplus of new recruits, even if it’s only a few digits.”

Rainbow cocked an eyebrow. “So?”

“Would you like to serve Equestria on the most important battlefield of war?”

Of course, Rainbow could only look at him as if he grew a second head. “Heck yeah!”

The smirk on his and his assistant’s face unsettled her.


“Uhhh…” Rainbow looked down at herself before raising an eyebrow at who he she had come to know as the Senator’s Assistant. “I’m not sure this is a good idea.”

Half Write shook his head and smiled. “Nonsense! All you have to do is say a few lines, sell some bonds, bonds support the army, army fights back against the Empire. Bing bang boom, you’re a national hero. Easy as pie.”

Rainbow sighed, pulling over the costume they had given her. “I just didn’t picture this being how I got there.” Shaking her mane, she slipped the flimsy fabric hood over her head. “And who the hay designed this costume?”

“You’ll have to blame the textile workers for that, and for cooking it up so fast too,” Half Write said before patting Rainbow. “And the senator has a lot of pull with the higher ups. You do your part, and you’ll have a platoon in no time. Here, take the shield.”

“Huh?” Rainbow asked. Finding a badge-shaped shield in her hoof, she started to get pushed out by him.

“Your lines are taped on the inside. All ya gotta do is read it, and you’re set.”

“My- whoa!” Rainbow was pushed the rest of the way, half stumbling onto centre stage. Seeing the crowd made Rainbow blink, as this was not her usual way of showing off. Gulping, she glanced behind her at the ensemble she had been given and nodded her affirmation.

She heard music kickstart before the ensemble began to sing to their hearts content. “Who’s here to stay, strong and brave, to save the Equestrian way?”

Rainbow swallowed before glancing at the shield on her leg. “Uh, not everypony is capable of joining the army? Of fighting on the front lines and taking it to the enemy’s doorstep, but there’s still a way you can help. Heh, uh-”

“Who’s vowed to protect, to defend, what is right, night and day?”

Rainbow smiled even wider before reading from the script again. “Dawn Dusk Defence Bonds! Each one you get is a great contributor to the greater good of Equestria!”

As the performance went on, Rainbow’s smile grew ten times wider and she could only soak up the cheers and hollers for her own spectacular presentation. She could get behind this.


Thunder crackled as Rainbow sat on some stairs, staring intentedly at the paper before her. Her show just minutes before had been bolstered by a crowd of actual soldiers, and she could almost understand their sentimentality. For the months she had been touring, she had gained in popularity and found that more and more fans, more than she could have ever dreamed of, had begun to notice and know her… and she really was happy.

It was just… she couldn’t just forget what she had seen. Rainbow Dash still wanted to do more, and to see a group of soldiers fighting for the true Equestrian way just take her down like that was discouraging. All the films and shows she had done did not compare to the guilt and anger she now felt for only being able to do so little. With a deterred and hefty sigh, she slammed the tip of her pencil onto the journal she had been given, breaking the point.

There, she stared at her drawings of two certain fillies she missed, but knew one was surely keeping track of all she was doing. Of course, they were both completely perfect drawings thanks to the clarity of the images she could see in her mind, and before she knew it the pieces was complete and she just sat there, staring at them.

“Are they your sisters?” a voice said as it approached her. Glancing without turning her head, Rainbow closed her eyes.

“They’re a… they’re important to me I guess.”

Russet’s smile was bittersweet. “You’ll get to see her soon enough since this show is one of your last.”

Rainbow could only feel anger and frowned, before taming it right quick. She had been away from Firefly for over two months, and Scootaloo...

She could feel a tear well up before scrunching her muzzle and sniffling. Shaking her head, she turned to Russet. “What are doing you here? Aren’t you needed elsewhere? Not this dump where I’m useless.”

Russet bit her lip before sitting beside Rainbow and smiling reassuringly. “Officially, I’m not here at all, but that was quite an interesting performance.”

Rainbow scoffed and went back to staring at her drawings. “Yeah. Sure.”

“I understand that you’re being made out to be ‘Equestria’s New Hope’?”

“Every city and province I visit has a ten percent bump in bond sales,” Rainbow recited monotonously. Finding herself reliving the memory of when she and the girls had first met together and gotten the Elements of Harmony, she smiled a bittersweet smile and closed her eyes sadly. “Heh, what else is new?”

“Is that Senator Deign I hear?” Russet said.

“At least the guy’s got me doing this. I could be ‘stuck in a lab’ instead, and Bellum wouldn't have batted an eye.”

“So those are your only options, then?” Russet tried to look Rainbow in the eye. “A lab rat or a jester? You were meant for more than this, you know.” Almost immediately, Rainbow sharply breathed in and glared at Russet before closing her eyes and drooping her head. “What?” Russet coaxed.

“I just… I promised Goldheart I would do more. I promised Firefly I would fight on the front lines and let her be only a radio away. I promised myself I would help end this war one way or another, but I can’t believe that this is the way it’s ending up to be. It’s so… frustrating. And with this last show… I don’t know if I can do anymore to begin with.” Sighing, she recalled their haunted and tired faces. “And… they all look like they’ve been to Tartarus and back.”

“Well,” Russet began, “These ponies more than others. Insomnia had led an attack on one of our forces in Breakstall. Over two hundred of our ponies went to fight, and only about fifty returned. What you saw today was what was left of the one-thirty-first.”

Rainbow’s ears flicked, and she slowly turned to Russet, frowning. “The one-thirty-first*?

“What?”

Rainbow pocketed her book and wiggled her jaw before meditating for a split second. A split second was all she needed. Getting on to all fours, she cracked her neck and motioned forward. “Come on!” And so, Rainbow began to trot a brisk pace, while Russet had to canter to keep up. It wasn’t that short of a distance to where they were going, evidently Colonel Bellum’s tent, and soon, Rainbow Dash was marching right up to Bellum’s desk.

Shuffling some papers around, he noticed Rainbow and tilted his head. “Well, if it isn’t the Star-Spangled Rainbow with a Reason. And what exactly is your plan today.”

Setting her jaw, Rainbow narrowed her eyes down at him. “I need to know where the one-thirty-first was captured and taken.”

“You don’t get to give me orders, girl,” the Colonel said almost immediately with authority.

“I just want to know the location,” Rainbow said. “Just the coordinates, or even a map.”

Looking up from his sheets, he finally truly noticed Agent Russet standing by Rainbow’s side. His eyes darted between the two before settling on Russet. “You and I are going to have a talk later that you won’t enjoy in the slightest.”

“Please, just give it to me sir.” Rainbow persisted. “It’s very important.”

“Look,” Bellum said. “I’ve written too many condolence letters today and giving you the location does not help me or the survivors at all.”

“But you’re mounting a rescue mission, right?” Rainbow asked, on the verge of yelling. “These are our ponies who’ve been fighting for our country! You’re going back to save them, right!?”

“You do know that the Hydra base they were taken to is over fourty kilometres behind enemy lines, right? Any hope of getting them out from that is almost zero to none. I’m sorry, Miss Dash, but it’s a lost cause.” Standing up from his desk and tucking some papers into his jacket, he walked past them.

Left standing in front of an empty desk, Rainbow Dash gritted her teeth and growled. Turning her eyes to the map with pins on it, she quickly memorised it before noting the blue pin surrounded by red pins.

“What are you going to do now?” Russet asked, seeing the cogs turning in Rainbow’s head.

Rainbow hardened her gaze and stared at the pin. “What needs to be done. With or without his help. They served loyally to Equestria, it’s time I showed mine.”

With that, Rainbow left the tent, with Russet trailing behind. Rainbow quickly took to the air, still wholly unused to her wings since she had been travelling by train and wagon, and landed at the stage platform. Running in, she glanced at all the helmets with letters on them, before her eyes settled on one with a 'W’.

Smiling, she thought of her title as a wonderbolt, and the stupid ‘E’ stiched into her costume. “As Rarity would say…” Rainbow swiped the helmet and placed it on her head. “‘E’ was so last season.” On her way out, she spotted her shield. Without thinking twice, she grabbed it.

Running out, she ran to the nearest car she could see and ran up to it, ready to figure out how it worked-

“You’ll need some help,” Russet’s voice said as Rainbow put her shield in the backseat.

“I really don’t,” Rainbow said. “Just stay here where it’s safe.”

“I’m not just an agent, I’m a soldier too,” Russet said. “Are you planning on just flying in there? You do know that’s crazy, right?”

Rainbow cast a glare at her. “I got wings. I can fly fast. Good enough for me. Are you just gonna stand around and lecture me?”

“What I’m trying to say is, Rainbow Dash,” Russet said, “You’ll need somepony to help you get inbound. Don’t you think somepony would’ve tried that already? Sombra and especially Insomnia have safeguards and countermeasures for flying pegasi with a magical signature! You’d be blasted out of the air with anti-aviary artillery before you could say ‘boom’!”

Rainbow blinked. “Huh.”

“You’re going to need something that can effectively cover up any sort of mana signature before you go dive-bombing in, Rainbow. Something like a specialised plane.”

Her lips curled down ward in confusion. “Where are we going to find something like that?” Russet could only smile.

“Well, I know a pony who’s got just the thing.”