• 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 3.5 - When The Shield Shines

Rainbow woke with a start, inhaling sharply as she sat straight up in her bed. Frowning quickly, she took in her surroundings, blinking at their familiarity to her. She looked left and right, finding nopony else in the hospital hallways with her. Staring down one length, she stared down the other way and felt her heart jump as she saw Spitfire with bandages across her head.

Rainbow blinked, and blinked again. There before her was the Wonderbolts Captain herself, injured and shallowly breathing. This couldn’t possibly be real. She was stuck in the past! Rainbow was stuck in the past and there was no possible way any of this was real. Reaching a hoof out to poke Spitfire, she barely prodded her when-

Spitfire grabbed Rainbow’s foreleg tightly wrapping it with one hoof. Rainbow jerked away but found the grip as solid as iron, and watched with incredulity as Spitfire stared Rainbow in the eyes.

“Why didn’t you do more to save me, Rainbow?” Spitfire rasped, “Why… didn’t you…”

Rainbow felt her eyes go wide as Spitfire’s limb went limp, her eyes glossing over and the foreleg falling to the bedside. Rainbow slid off her bed in an instant rushed to Spitfire’s side fully, checking her once, twice, three times.

“Captain? Captain! Spitfire!?” Rainbow shouted, shaking the unresponsive body. “S-Spitfire?”

Just then, the world around her began warping and twisting, as if reality itself was bending out of whack. Rainbow watched in horror as a portal she had hoped she would never see again tore open the walls facing the outside world just a few hospital beds down… before feeling the ground beneath her split.

Rainbow looked down and released Spitfire as she saw another portal opening up beneath hear. As she began to hyperventilate, she attempted to spread her wings and gust herself away from the portal but found her wings tightly secured around her and rubble trapped her in one spot.

Rainbow shook her head as panic crossed through her features and she screamed, her wings uselessly tightening and wiggling under her restraints before the portal grew big enough to swallow her whole. She fell helplessly, flailing her legs as she began to cry in fear and terror while her wings remained useless. The ground loomed closer. The whistling grew louder.

Closing her eyes, Rainbow accepted her fate and felt the sharp pain of the ground shoot across her body…


She jolted awake, finding herself in a pristine crystal room. One she had woken up in all too often when performing dangerous stunts in Ponyville that ended up injuring her. Wiping her forehead which was drenched in sweat, she only ended up soaking her foreleg with the liquid. Shaking her head, she grabbed a towel nearby and wiped herself dry, throwing the towel to the side. She didn’t need this right now. She was in Twilight’s castle and she couldn’t remember why she was there.

Or… she did… but it seemed like all a joke. A portal that could shove her a thousand years into the past? Being enhanced to superequine heights to the point of physical pony perfection? Meeting the founder of the Wonderbolts as a child and taking her in like she did Scootaloo? Insanity.

But… the thought of the little filly with bright blue hair and blazing magenta fur bore into her mind like the summer sun, a beacon of reality. It had to be real. These… she was recalling memories that couldn’t possibly have been imagined by her imagination. Rainbow was never that creative. At least, not until the serum…

In a flash, with naught a way to explain the transition, Rainbow found herself strapped to the same machine she had been in when the serum had been injected. Struggling against the restraints, she resolved to wait and understand why and how she got there. Seeing nopony else but herself, Rainbow tried to peek around the machine, but was startled by the touch of a hoof on her chest.

Expecting to find Goldheart, Rainbow Dash stared blankly at Twilight Sparkle, who trotted away muttering something unintelligible. Rainbow continued to watch her with concerned sadness, glancing between her and the machinery.

“T-Twilight?” Rainbow whispered, “Is that… is that you?”

“Stay still, Rainbow Dash,” Twilight said sharply, “You’re going to disturb the experiment. We have to preserve all the steps and precise procedures or else we’ll lose it all forever!”

“Twilight, it’s me, Rainbow!” Rainbow said, “I… you have to help me, Twilight. Forget the experiment! Something’s happening and I don’t know what! I-I-I need you, Twilight, I need the girls… please!”

“QUIET!” Discord boomed, storming up to Rainbow with chaotic fury. “You really don’t care about your friends, do you? You abandoned them, you betrayed them, you left them to fend for themselves at a time where Equestria is considered weak!

“No,” Rainbow hissed, straining against her restraints. “No! I’d never betray my friends! Never!”

“Oh, but what about when I was still a chaotic beast wanting nothing more then to see you suffer?” Discord smirked, sneering down on Rainbow. “You left your friends to in the maze to help your precious cloud city-”

No!” Rainbow shrieked, breaking one foreleg away and hitting Discord in the face with a loud crack, and he fell. In that instant, an explosion blew the machine behind her away and caused her to stumble to the ground in front of… Doctor Goldheart, multiple bullet wounds bleeding profusely.

With fire raining around her, Rainbow stared at her hoof and the body of Goldheart, who was somehow still breathing. How could she… what? Crawling to Goldheart’s side, she felt tears beginning to resurface as she remembered clearly how he died in her arms.

“Goldheart?!” Rainbow said, clutching the doctor tightly. “Goldheart! I won’t let you die again! Please, I can’t… all my friends are gone, I don’t know what’s happening to me and… and… I need you with me! You were so good to me even when I wasn’t to myself… don’t...”

“But… why?” Goldheart rasped, turning his head to look into Rainbow’s soul. “This… all of this is your… your f-fault… I blame you, Rainbow Dash…”

Rainbow stared at one of the only beacons she had latched onto in her pain of being stranded in the past with a parted jaw. Her vision blurred as she sniffled and began crying, tears pouring all over Goldheart and burning her eyes with rage. She would find whoever did this. Who hurt her this way. Who hurt her friends. Who thought turning her own mind against her would work. Rainbow snarled. A guttural noise began to hum in the back of her throat…

Hugging Goldheart’s body tightly as the world around her burned, Rainbow screamed. Her voice cracked and broke as machinery and panels exploded around her and she cried, her anger, her sadness, her loneliness, all being released in one raw utterance.

With tears streaming down her face, Rainbow looked at Goldheart’s face one more time as the world closed in around her.

“I’m sorry.”

Coming to in a room that blinded her and gave her a slight headache, Rainbow shut her eyes hard. The vivid memory of her nightmare still fresh in her mind, the last scene pained her to no end. Rainbow could feel her breathing growing heavy and her ears flattening as the corners of her eyes began to grow wet.

She shook her head. Taking in quick deep breaths, she growled a little as she sniffled and shook her head a little more. She needed to get grip on her emotions. With a quivering frown, Rainbow eased her eyes open, rubbing life into them with her hooves. Slowly, gradually, and much longer than she remembered, the light faded to something manageable.

She struggled to sit up properly as she still couldn’t see forward without blinding herself. What she could see though, she took in. It seemed apparent to her that this was a hospital room all on its own, separate instead of a tent or hall filled to the brim with the wounded.

It was luxurious, too. This was quite possibly the best bed she’d ever lain on that wasn’t a cloud bed. Clouds still trumped anything the fabric industry could make, but she gave props for it’s comfiness. Apart from herself however, much of the room was a pristine white, looking clean as a fiddle.

Looking to her right, Rainbow found her tattered uniform laying as neatly as it could, frayed as it was. Right next to it was her pair of goggles, cleaned of any grime it had, and still scratched up. However, when Rainbow went to pick them up to inspect them, she found that the glass in her left lens, no, the glass in both her lenses were reflecting perfectly. The crack in her goggles’ left lens had completely replaced. Gingerly holding the goggles up to her eyes confirmed her suspicion.

Putting them back down, Rainbow swung her hindlegs off the bed and lingered on the edge. Staring at the ground, she shook her head. Where was she? This wasn’t just any normal hospital. It couldn’t have been. It was too much for Equestria to ever risk spending on unless other institutions request the same costly upgrades. Trotting up to the window that, until then, had been blinding, she squinted until her eyes adjusted.

Staring back at her was a view unlike anything she had seen in Equestria, and certainly nowhere near similar to the savannah’s of Zebrica. There were luscious green trees and forestry, being held at bay by the impressive architecture and buildings of those that lived there. If she hadn’t seen zebras going about their own business, she would have believed herself to have been captured by a technologically advanced race.

It was as if she had suddenly jumped into the future.

A knock on the door broke her away from her sightseeing. “...Come in?” Rainbow said, the door opening to reveal a zebra decorated in two colours of bands, red and purple, where rings should have, or would have been. Clearing her throat, the zebra spoke to her.

“MissRainbow Dash, how are you feeling?”

Rainbow glanced outside for a second before turning to face her. “I’m... I’m feeling good, if that’s what you’re wondering. Just… had some… disturbing nightmares.”

The nurse, or at least, she assumed her to be one, looked at Rainbow with a flash of worry and concern. “Disturbing indeed.” The cryptic response left Rainbow wanting more, but before she could ask, the doctor spoke again. “Your friends would like to see you, Miss Dash. They have been quite worried about you while you have been incapacitated.”

Rainbow flicked her ears as she caught how the zebra had worded her sentence. Before she could ask her, for the second time, she was left hanging as the doctor retreated, leaving Rainbow alone. Frowning at the disappearance, she quickly realised why the doctor had done so when she re-appeared with a several familiar faces in tow.

“Mother of Celestia, Rainbow!” Ember Wing shouted, the first one to rush up to her. “You had us all worried! Not even a super soldier like you is invincible, Rainbow, you need to take better care of yourself! Even Firefly and Skylark are worried sick!”

As everypony filed in, they murmured in agreement, all looking at Rainbow with varying degrees of concern. The most intense of which, was Ember’s. Rainbow shook her head, sighing. “I’m fine now, guys, really. See? Not a scratch.”

“Not a scratch my ass,” Goldeneye said, “I spotted you pass out from across the battlefield before all of Hydra’s forces retreated. Never seen anything like it. If I hadn’t known any better, I’d have said that colourful stunt of yours scared them off.”

“And the looks on everyone’s faces when you pulled… whatever it was you pulled on the field… that was insane,” Puff exclaimed.

“That explosion was something else, Rainbow,” Ember said. “I had no idea what you were up to when you disappeared into the clouds like that, but… where did you learn to do that?”

Rainbow shook her head. “It’s called a ‘sonic rainboom’. As far as I know, I’m the only pony who’s been able to do it, all because I wanted to prove the legends true.”


“Yeah, legends about the sonic rainboom. You’ve heard of them, haven’t you? You’re a pegasus, so you should know.”

Ember shook his head, and Rainbow frowned slightly. That was odd. All pegasi knew of how powerful a sonic rainboom was, and knew just how mythical they were too. Not so much after so many had seen Rainbow do it multiple times, but myth all the same.

“But after the fight ended,” Guffin spoke up, “It was almost quiet, quiet as it could be on the battlefield, granted…”

“And then we heard you, Cap,” Jaydock said, “Heard you shouting something fierce.”

“Relda here was the one who came to your side first,” Goldeneye said, motioning to the mare with the curved horn. “She cast some spell on you that calmed you down in your sleep. Must’ve been some nightmare.”

That statement nearly caught Rainbow off guard, her gaze falling on the mare she had finally learned the name of. Nodding with gratitude, Rainbow let a gracious smile form. “Thank you, Relda.”

Relda smiled softly and nodded back, looking away again without a single word. Pursing her lips at that, it brought Rainbow to her most pressing question. Even though she wanted to know how long she had been out, this was the cherry on top.

“Where’s Deseret?” Rainbow asked. “She should be here with you seeing me. Where is she?” Everypony was silent for a moment before Rainbow’s terse stare began to bore into them.

“I’m serious,” Rainbow said, “We’re a team. We don’t abandon anyone. Where is Deseret?”

After another moment of silence, Goldeneye said “After we, er, calmed you down… the Wakandans came out and started helping us. They especially came for you, they saw your shield and just… they told us that we were welcome to stay in Wakanda until we recovered from the battle.”

“But when they saw Deseret, Rainbow,” Puff said, “They just looked at her funny. And… I stepped in between her and them, Rainbow. I wouldn’t let them touch her… until these two zebras in armour and one zebra in a suit or something came around.

“There were only three of them, but… when Deseret saw them, she was… she was shaking, Cap. When the suited zebra took off her mask and looked past me at Deseret, I was ready to knock her lights out… but Deseret…”

“She went with them, Rainbow,” Ember said. “She said sorry and that was it.”

Rainbow let her face relax as her mind raced to figure things out. Why would Deseret just go with them so willingly? Did she really know them that well? And if so, what was her relation to them? Family? Criminal? Outcast?

But then one key detail stood out to Rainbow. Something she’d noticed with the doctor. Something with Deseret. Something with Zecora, even.

Deseret rhymed her speech. The doctor that had come in did not. Deseret wore gold bands on her neck and right leg, Deseret having fewer than Zecora did and looking more worn, while the doctor only had coloured bands.

Would that mean that Deseret wasn’t a normal zebra? Because… it would make sense. Nobody, pony or zebra, would actively go out of their way to rhyme their speech unless it was… to differentiate themselves from others. The bands were just extra confirmation.

Unless Deseret and Zecora were convicted outcasts that were specially marked and forced to make themselves noticeably different.

Rainbow tossed that thought into the trash.

As the world sped up to normal once more, Rainbow could hear hoofsteps coming closer to the room’s entrance before her doctor came in with a slightly impressed look.

“The chieftess and her family would like to see you, Captain Dash. She would like to thank you personally for helping Wakanda in a time of need.”

With a glance to her friends, Rainbow stared at her. The zebra cleared her throat, bowing her head. “Your close teammates are welcome as well, and one of the chieftess’ escorts will come along shortly.” As an afterthought, the doctor stepped forward and gestured towards Rainbow’s uniform. “If I may, I would suggest wearing your special attire to the meeting. It would be most appropriate.”

As she bowed once more to Rainbow and her team, the doctor stopped at the door. “It is truly a great honour to meet the chieftess personally. May Bast bless you with long life and good fortune.”

Just like that, the doctor left, leaving Rainbow and her team to stare at the door, unsure what to make of her words.

That was... “





Rainbow shook her head, heading over to the bedside table. “Just get ready. Where we’re going, we need to be.”

They followed the escort in careful trepidation as they moved through the streets of Wakanda. Zebras left and right stared at them, some going as far as to whisper with suspicion and fear, while others rushed into their homes and shops, closing them off. The irony was not lost on Rainbow, her situation mirroring Zecora’s first encounter with Ponyville.

The thought of Zecora brought a smile to Rainbow’s face, the thought of the friendly mystic bringing up fond memories to her forefront. She was always kind to Rainbow and her friends, even when they broke into her home and accused her of a stupid curse that wasn’t even real.

With that thought, she began to observe the different sets of bands that zebras in Wakanda wore. Many wore different combinations of different colours of the spectrum, many shopkeepers wearing at least one similar colour and others wearing red similar to her doctor. Very rarely did she see any metal type of ring band, and most were bronze or silver. Those she did see wearing gold, didn’t have the number of bands to compare to Deseret or Zecora.

Rainbow sighed, wondering how she went from an impulsive, brash, stupid, arrogant and naive pegasus to somepony who was serious, analytic, patient, and contemplative. She missed her friends. Rainbow found that her train of thought couldn’t stop, so she resigned to let it flow.

She missed Pinkie’s humour and messing around with other ponies for fun. She missed Rarity and trying to hide that fact that Rainbow went to the spa herself. She missed reading Daring Do in Twilight’s castle, and discussing the many nuances of the series itself, somehow out-geeking Twilight. She missed her competitions with Applejack and relaxing with a mug of cider after. She missed Fluttershy’s gentle grace and enthusiasm about her animals.

Most of all, she missed their adventures together. Their arguments. Their slumber parties and Pinkie Pie throwing random parties just to put a smile on pony’s faces. Clenching her jaw to hold back the wave that was threatening to break, Rainbow blinked the mist from her eyes away. This wasn’t the time.

Rainbow had been so caught up in her musings, she had allowed for her body to go on autopilot and she found herself standing beside her troop in front of the majestic doors to what she would’ve guessed to be the throne room. It was an uncharacteristically shiny silver look, made of a metal that couldn’t have possibly been steel as it would be monstrously heavy if it were. Now that she was paying attention, she looked around and saw that the walls and floor were also laced with this shiny metal, and if she really put her mind to it, she swore the metal was vibrating.

The escort nodded at the two guards who were decked out in armour that she considered twice as menacing as Celestia’s own royal guards. Watching them closely as they moved to open the doors, the doors swung with as much ease as Canterlot Castle’s throne room doors, even they they were comprised of a metal that should’ve been incredibly heavy. It didn’t even look like the guards were straining. Just taking their time. Frowning in curiosity and bafflement, Rainbow shook her head and followed the escort inside.

“...but I love you more than anything. You are precious to me and your father, and that is all that matters.” Rainbow began to hear, seeing a familiar face looking forward and shaking.

“I am so very sorry, Deseret,” another zebra said beside who Rainbow assumed to the chieftess and chieftain of Wakanda. “It was not my place to yell at you… yet…” she then looked up from Deseret and gulped, looking towards her parents.

Rainbow Dash watched as the rulers of Wakanda looked up and Deseret turned around to see them. Rainbow could see Deseret’s face brighten with happiness at seeing her alive and well, before smiling graciously at the rest of the troop. Tears were streaming down Deseret’s face, and when Rainbow looked up at the two rulers and who she could only think of to be the daughter, they were just as teary-eyed. The daughter moreso.

“Welcome, honoured guests,” the chieftess said with elegant authority, motioning for the guards to close the doors and the escort to leave them be. “I am Queen Zokara, Chieftess of Wakanda, Mantle of the Black Panthers.” Motioning to the zebra stallion standing beside her, she continued “This is my husband, Lomayan, who helps guide me in all that I do” -she motioned to the filly standing opposite of Lomayan- “And my youngest, Mthobeli.

“And of course,” Zokara smiled, “My eldest, Deseret.”

“Are you okay, Deseret?” Puff blurted out, his hoof hesitating forward before coming back down.

Deseret looked towards Puff before looking up at her mother, awaiting her approval. The Queen smiled and nodded, allowing for Deseret to run up to him. Hugging back, Puff patted the zebra before shaking his head and pushing away.

“I took care of ya, kid,” Puff said, “You never told me you were some sorta royalty.”

Deseret merely looked at him, an apologetic look plastered on her face. “I couldn’t, Puff, I couldn’t. At the time, I’d already done enough to, to… to muddle my family’s name, I couldn’t.”

“What did you do in the first place?” Guffin asked, motioning to the royalty watching them. “Did you steal some bread or something?”

Staring at Guffin for a second, Deseret broke into a smile and giggled. “No, Guffin my friend, not bread. It was something much more important and dire instead. I… I was a fool who thought it would be courtful of me to reveal to this one stallion where metal was as common as a tree.”

“And… it was somepony from the Crystal Empire, wasn’t it?” Ember thought aloud. “And your parents got angry, and-”

“We were pressed to exile our daughter Deseret, you must understand,” Queen Zokara whispered, “If we had the choice, it would not have happened, and Deseret would never have ran.”

“But why are you good now if you had beef before?” Goldeneye inquired thoughtfully.

“I love my sister!” Mthobeli snapped, surprising everyone there. As she realised her folly, she glanced to her parents and bowed her head before biting her lip. “I… even if we were bitter about her betrayal, we will never betray her.”

Rainbow smiled wistfully at her loyalty, thinking back to her own friends. It was such a small thing to Rainbow, but it made her smile. Mthobeli noticed it and looked at Rainbow oddly before realising her expression to be one of appreciation. Smiling awkwardly herself, Mthobeli studied Rainbow carefully before looking away shyly.

“As my youngest put, we should not betray our family even if our family betrays us. For you to come and battle through hell to help save our nation with Deseret, it must’ve been a fuss.” Queen Zokara stated, smiling, gratefully at Rainbow Dash. Bowing her head in respect, Rainbow shot the Queen a questioning look. She merely kept smiling.

“I thank you in behalf of Wakanda, Captain Dash, Wonderbolt, and your entire company. For your help and in bringing our daughter back to her home, there is something I want you to see.” Zokara motioned to Mthobeli, who brightened with excitement and ran to the throne that was situated near the back of the room. As Rainbow noticed she grabbed something from behind the throne itself, she noticed Deseret herself seemed to realise what was happening and a look of awe crossed her face.

Rainbow Dash watched as her gaze jumped from her sister to Rainbow and her sister again before blinking and looking to her mother, who only nodded with a knowing smile. She watched as Deseret gave Zokara a raised eyebrow in response before nodding and stepping away from Rainbow. The troop of friends that surrounded Rainbow sensed the same thing, stepping away from her as Mthobeli approached, something propped precariously on her back.

“As you fought for us with the noblest of causes and naught even a weapon, we saw you use your shield to protect our people and our nation.”

Mthobeli sat in front of Rainbow, bowing low to the ground as she presented a wrapped object, circular in nature. Looking at it for a second as it was presented to her before looking up at Queen Zokara and pointing at it, the Queen smiled again.

“Thus, to replace the damage you suffered in protecting our land, we gift you this in return, made from the most precious metal anywhere to be found.”

Rainbow took the wrapped object in her hooves, surprised by it’s loftiness. Gingerly unwrapping it, she almost dropped it from how shiny it was to her. Gleaming from the sleekness of how well polished and forged it was, Rainbow held it in front of her, examining it from all sides.

A straps were present on it’s concave side for her to hold with her forelegs. A perfect convex shape was on the other side, several rings laid inside the metal that could be painted into any colour she wanted, and a flawless circle in the middle. Breathlessly examining it and blinking unbelievingly, Rainbow looked up at the Queen of Wakanda with words she had no way to say.

Queen Zokara bowed to Rainbow, and everyone followed suit. Rainbow felt her expression growing misty as the Queen met her eyes one last time.

“A shield, for you to always protect, and for you to know you’ll always have our respect.”