• 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 4.1 - When Comfort Makes Close Calls

It was a deadly battle of skill and wits, and Rainbow Dash wasn’t confident that she was going to win. She could not dare to underestimate her opponent, for one wrong move could mean the end of everything she had planned from the beginning. There was no going back. Narrowing her eyes, she did the only thing she could do, and moved first.

Her plan was completely obliterated, however, when her cover was blown sky high. In the blink of an eye, the cloud she had been hiding in was blown to little puffs with two kicks and she was glomped by a pink filly.

“Tag, you’re it!”

“Ah, you got me!” Rainbow cried, before gasping dramatically with a hoof to her chest. Locking her wings, she began dropping like a rock. “I’m dead!” Firefly let go just as she fell, and watched in confusion as Rainbow approached the ground. Her confusion was unfounded a moment later when Rainbow snapped her wings out and swooped upward, letting her momentum and air guide her back up, straight into the path of Skylark.

“Sky, run!”

Skylark shrieked in terror and began laughing as she tried to outfly Rainbow Dash. They all knew that Rainbow was the fastest and most agile of them, and yet she shot past the swerving filly like a bullet. Stopping in the air, Rainbow snickered as Sky crashed into a cloud while she was watching her.

“You need to watch where you’re going, Sky. Situational awareness is key to survival!”

Sky blew a puff of cloud away from her and giggled. “But we’re playing tag!”

“That we are, Sky, that we are.”

Rainbow grinned as she lazily flapped her wings toward the resting filly and lay beside her, staring at the clear blue skies. “I wish we had more time like this, just to rest.” Firefly joined them in short order, taking her place in the triangle of resting pegasi. Then Rainbow tapped Sky with her hoof. “Tag, you’re it, no tag backs.”

Sky pouted, crossing her hooves and looking at Rainbow. “Aww, that’s not fair!”

Rainbow snorted. “Life isn’t fair. I should know that better than anyone.”

A scolding voice approached them, clucking with a chuckle. “Rainbow, don’t get existential with the fillies.”

Rainbow smiled. “They’ll grow up one day, Ember. You’ll see.”

Ember sighed, stepping onto the cloud. “Just don’t grow up too fast, okay girls?”

“Yes, Dad.”

“Yes, Uncle Ember.”

Ember fluffed his wings and laughed. Glancing down to the ground, he raised an eyebrow and collapsed as well. “So, how’s our Captain doing in her downtime?”

“Having two fillies to deal with is worse than raiding an Empire-controlled griffon bunker.”

“You sure about that?” Ember asked with a grin. “I recall you bouncing that shield of yours down the hallway, taking everypony out with one swing. It was the easiest raid in the history of raids, period.”

“You forgot the part when I had to use my shield to save your sorry flank from a spray of bullets.”

“I don’t think that counts.”

Rainbow shook her head. “Whatever you say, pal.”

“Come on, Dad, Rainbow’s awesome!” Firefly exclaimed.

Ember smirked. “Not as awesome as you.” In one swift motion, he lunged for Firefly and began giving her a noogie, chuckling as Firefly squirmed in his grip.

“Dad, stop! Ahhh!” Firefly cried, torn between giggling and pushing her father away. As they wrestled, Rainbow smiled sadly to herself. She envisioned herself torturing Scootaloo with tickles on a cloud just as they were, and thought back to better times. It felt like an eternity away, even though it was only short of a year since she was sent back in time.

“Hey, Miss Dash, what’s bugging ya?”

Rainbow turned to Sky, who was looking at her with a curious look. “I’ve only ever seen Firefly like that when she thinks about missing her mom and dad.” Taking Rainbow’s silence as affirmation, Sky continued. “Do you miss somepony, miss Rainbow?”

Rainbow closed her eyes and imagined her friends, her family, and Scootaloo. Biting her lip and shutting her eyes tightly, she shook her head. “Yes, Sky. Yes I do miss somepony. I miss many ponies.”

Sky hummed in thought. “Do you think you’ll be able to see them after the war is over? Seeing you sad makes me feel sad.”

Laughing, Rainbow turned to face Sky. “Maybe one of these days, Sky. I might see them again someday.”

In the far, far future, Rainbow thought ruefully as a tear rolled down her cheek. I’ll see when I see you.

“On your left!”

Rainbow grimaced as she spun mid-air, just missing Ember as he launched himself at a soldier. She shot her wings out and pushed the other two soldiers she had been fighting into opposite directions as she landed gracefully. Shaking her mane and wiping her brow, she grinned. “Thanks for the save.”

“Don’t mention it.” Ember cleared the chamber in his gun and loaded a fresh round.

Guffin settled down beside him, chuckling to himself. “Hey, hotshot, leave some for us rookies.”

Deseret walked up to Rainbow and hoofbumped her before taking her own helmet off. “Don’t hurt his ego, Guffin. It’s as precious to him as his collection of lucky dice.”

“Hey, my dice are none of your business!” Ember huffed. “Some of them look really cool, okay?”

“Whatever helps put you to sleep at night, bub,” Puff said with a grin. “Jaydock and I bash heads, and that’s good enough for us.”

Rainbow grinned. “Well, as long as we’re all in agreement that Ember’s a softie, we’re good.”

“Oh yes.”

“Most definitely.”

“Of course, and I have no remorse.”


As they all laughed, a chuckle came through their comms.

You guys murder me.” After a pause, Goldeneye continued. “Oh, and you better hurry in there, they’ve got some reinforcements coming in and I don’t know how long I can hold my nest before I’m found, and Relda is getting restless.

Rainbow nodded and put a hoof up to her radio. “Got it, Goldie. We’ll be out in five.” She then turned to everyone present and raised an eyebrow. “Alright, let’s take everything we can carry and get going. Some of this stuff looks really important and the ponies at AIM probably want to take a look at this stuff.”

“Got it, Cap,” Ember said with a smile. “You’re the boss.”

“Shut up,” Rainbow retorted, but not without a grin. “I’ll get you back you know.”

“I’m waiting for it.”

“You’re on.”

They quickly scattered, spreading different ways in search of material that could prove useful or interesting. Watching her teammates go, Rainbow slowly approached a table that she saw had been hiding between two large circular discs—what looked to be generators. She quietly sifted through the contents before reeling back in shock and disgust.

It was a grenade. The same type of grenade that had crippled her. That had poisoned her until only her life force was keeping it at bay. What had nearly killed her. And one that was now sitting there, harmless. What was it doing here? Why was it here? And her biggest question was: Why didn’t more soldiers use them?

Though she could guess the answer to the last one. She had seen it’s results for herself.

Quietly packing it safely away, she disregarded everything else on the table. Apart from grenade, it was all things she had seen before, and all things that the ponies at AIM were already analysing and reproducing on their own. If anything, she could take it to use for her own team. Ammunition was sometimes hard to come by, especially when they needed it most. Turning her attention to a map, she… wait, what was-?


Rainbow winced as static fed through her radio. Her ears twitched in pain and she grabbed it in her hooves. “Hey, what’s wrong?”

G-guys! Insomnia’s here! Get the hell out of there! Oh buck he’s brought his paratroopers! GET OU-

Rainbow growled, her pulse quickening. Every time they had raided a place, they had been one step ahead of Insomnia. Looks like their luck had finally broken. She yelled into her radio. “EMBER! GET EVERYONE OVER HERE!”

R-og-er Cap, b-ut you’re br-zzzzkt!”

Sliding the radio into place, Rainbow took a deep breath. This wasn’t going to pleasant, and she knew it. There was no telling what this encounter would be like, so she hoped with all her might that she wouldn’t have to encounter him at all. Silently, she left the room behind, glancing to either side of the hallway. Empty.

Strapping her shield closer, she closed her eyes and focused inwards. Flinching at the sudden sensory overload, she scolded herself to use it more before clanging her shield to the ground. A sharp twang echoed and her ears began swivelling. A mental picture quickly began to create itself. She could already feel the assault that Insomnia was making, their forces beginning to pour in from the only two entrances. Her team members were rushing back, but one was missing-


Rainbow’s eyes shot open. She immediately grabbed her radio and collected herself. There was no use panicking now. “Ember. Guffin. Remand my previous order. We’re converging on the front door. Jaydock has been compromised. I repeat, Jaydock has been compromised.”

“...kkzzzzkt-Cap? What was that? Say again?”

Rainbow growled, looking both ways once more before choosing left and running. “Jaydock, he’s been captured! We’re moving to get him back before he comes before Insomnia! I have a bad feeling we’re already too late!”


“I hope all of you else got that, because we’re going in blind.” With that, she shoved her radio into its pocket and began bolting. At some point, Deseret must have joined her in stride because she was surprised by her voice in her focused state.

“Your noble spirit has yet to fail me, Captain,” Deseret said, with a tone that suggested a smile. “Let us hope our friend is not yet slain.”

“I don’t know, Deseret,” Rainbow said. “There’s something that doesn’t feel right, and something I saw is-”

“Troubling you?” Another voice joined their group, though it seemed a bit more harried. Rainbow and Deseret consciously reduced their pace.

“Yes, Guffin, it seems we’re in for a treat.” Deseret paused, almost in anticipation. “If as a treat, it means we were to get beat.”

“Let’s not get our hopes down just yet,” Puff said, the sound of their hooves now thundering down the halls. “Jaydock’s a big guy, I’m sure he’s fine.”

Rainbow threw her shield. The whole group screeched to a stop, completely baffled by the suddenness of her action. Rainbow herself was beginning to breathe heavily, her instincts going into overdrive. When the shield made the sound of hitting something and didn’t come back, she turned to the group. The look she had scared them all.

“He’s here.”

They rounded the bend, and sure enough, Insomnia stood there, his henchponies’ hooves pressed dangerously against both Jaydock and Goldeneye’s throats. Jaydock seemed dazed, as if he had just been hit in the head by something hard. Goldeneye was squirming slightly, but the guns pointed at him and the hoof nearly crushing his windpipe was enough to keep him calm. Her shield like wobbling beside Jaydock.

“So, Captain, we meet again,” Insomnia grinned. Gesturing to the two ponies on the ground in front of him, he tilted his head offeringly. “I present to you a simple choice. We allow you to go free at the cost of one of your friends. I’m sure you wouldn’t mind me simply taking both of them, or killing you all right now. So for your sake, I’m sure we can come to a compromise.”

Rainbow, suffice it to say, was completely shocked. There was no reason for this. And yet here it was, happening. “Where are Relda and the kids?”

Goldeneye made eye-contact with Rainbow, and she managed to gasp out three words. “Safe. Gone. Teleport.” She choked as more pressure was applied. Rainbow growled.

“Ah yes, the fillies and the medic,” Insomnia said. “Now that would have been something else. To choose between our future, or our own mortality. Who needs a healer, when we could accept death as our own? After all, it is a natural part of life.”

“Nothing you’re doing is natural,” Rainbow said. “Your experiments will come to an end, sooner or later. I’ll make sure of it.”

“I’m counting on it, my dear!” He laughed. “But for now, you must make a decision. A decision between life, death, and sacrifice! Who will it be, oh noble, most loyal Captain? The brains, or the brawn? The sharpshooter, or the shield? The muscle or the minx?”

Gritting her teeth, Rainbow shut her eyes, a million different scenarios running through her mind, but each one ending in a casualty. Unacceptable. There had to be a way. A way to get out of this mess without losing anyone. This was it. The moment of truth. What would happen? Her answer came with the slightest tapping, on the other side of the group of soldiers. It had a rhythm, almost like…

Tap, tap, Tap tap tap. Tap, tap tap tap tap. Tap tap tap tap tap. Tap tap tap tap, tap.

Seven, six, five, four…

A countdown.

She turned ever so slightly to Deseret, giving the most imperceptible of nods. Her only acknowledgment was a turn of her head. It was enough.

“Make your choice captain! I will give you no more time! Three…”





An unbridled shout of rage from all the way across the throng of soldiers distracted Insomnia just long enough for Deseret to pounce forward, bouncing off the wall, kicking Jaydock’s attacker straight in the chest and tackling Insomnia to the ground. Rainbow required no such grace and simply shattered Goldeneye’s soldier with a flying corkscrew kick. The sound of bones, however morbid it may have been, was music to Rainbow’s ears. Immediately, Goldeneye rolled away, shuddering as she sucked in well-needed air and rubbed her throat. Jaydock was helped to his feet by Puff. Without delay, Puff tossed Rainbow’s shield to her and she swiped it in the air before slamming it into the nearest soldier.


She could hear Ember’s cry for help above the din of a troop of metal soldiers and smiled. It was only fair to help him when he helped her. With not a second thought, she slugged her shield forward. It slid off and flung true, ricocheting off soldiers successively until it disappeared around the corner, but she could still hear it. Putting it out of mind for the second, she turned to her team and yelled.

“Carve a path out and get those two to safety! Puff, you’re in charge! Guffin, cover fire! Deseret and I will handle them for now!”

With that, she threw herself through a line of soldiers and grabbed Insomnia as he threw Deseret off. Gripping him tightly, she shoved him through his own soldiers before he flapped out of her grip and landed neatly in front of her, in the middle of the whole group of soldiers.

“So, the father came to save the day. I should have been more vigilant! Haha!”

“You threatened to kill my friends for no reason!”

Insomnia smiled. “No! You are very, very wrong. I was teaching you a lesson, my dear Rainbow Dash. Sacrifice is essential when you’re thinking of winning. With no sacrifice, there is no victory. Even the most impenetrable defense will fall if there is no effort to fight back. And fighting means losing.”

“That doesn’t even make sense!”

“Oh, but it does, Rainbow. It does. And you will see, eventually.” His horn glowed a sickly purple looking aura that just felt wrong. “And you will experience it to the fullest degree.”

“Rhyming is for one such as I, demon!” Deseret screamed across the room. “And I think I speak for everyone when I say, begone!”

Rainbow smirked. “What she said.” In that instant, her shield bounced off his horn, hit the ceiling, and returned to her. Sliding it into place on her leg, she grinned wider at Insomnia’s painful shouting. “We won’t experience anything today, pal. Ember! Let’s go!” Slamming her shield into Insomnia, he stumbled backwards, into the waiting arms of his soldiers, who began to rush her.

Ember kicked and flipped until he got a good three seconds of air time. “Got it!” Fighting to make her way to Ember’s side, she barged through a dozen soldiers using her shield as a buffer. They all toppled over, but quickly began to recover. Going back-to-back with Ember, she fluffed her wings.

“How’s that for a save?”

“I saved your sorry asses again, Cap. Don’t steal my thunder.”

Throwing her shield and catching it, Rainbow laughed. “If I didn’t save you, there would’ve been no thunder to steal. So we’re even.”

Ember threw his rifle to the ground and pulled out a pistol. “Fair point. Are we the last ones in here?”

Rainbow looked to where she knew the exit was and saw that the team was almost there. They were having trouble dealing with the soldiers still pouring in from the outside. With a quick decision, she threw her shield, dazing another dozen soldiers. “Deseret, catch!”

The zebra warrior responded in kind, smoothly catching the shield. “Thanks, Captain, you’ll get this back. For now I’ll use it to attack!” And with that, Rainbow turned to Ember.

“Yeah, we should probably get over there too.”

“And Insomnia?”

“That’s why we should hurry.”

Ember nodded, gulping. “Right. Let’s get out of this damn place.”

Rainbow shook her head with a smile. “Good thing the kids aren’t listening in.”

Ember grimaced. “Yes. Good thing they weren’t captured. I don’t know what I would have done if…”

“Think about that later. For now, fight it out.”

“Let’s do it, Cap.”

Feeling good now that she was sure Deseret would manage to get her team out, she fought with fervor alongside Ember, hooves and punches being thrown and taken. Bullets that would have hit her were swiftly dodged, her heightened senses more than enough to predict their flight path. They worked as a team, quickly making it to their exit before a shadow blocked them.

“Here, Captain, your rightful trophy. It does not feel right for such an item to stay with me. Now, let’s retreat to fight another day. I fear anything that may prolong our stay.” Deseret hoofed over the shield and quickly pounced away, her efforts needed in helping the retreat. Rainbow and Ember emerged, impressed to see a majority of the soldiers injured or incapacitated. The rest were standing by, cautious and ready.

“Looks like we’ve got a lot of debriefing to do when we get back.”

Rainbow’s silent gaze lingered for a little too long, before she nodded, hearing the shouts behind her quickly getting louder. “Let’s get out of here.”

As they quickly got lost, Rainbow was certain she could hear the faintest of shouts behind her. And a sick feeling. Like their escape was planned.

And Rainbow thought she knew why.

Author's Note:

A full sized chapter. More to come.