• 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 1.6 - A Withering Blow

Rainbow Dash had fought many monsters in her lifetime.

I mean, seriously! Manticores? Easy. Evil twisted power-hungry alicorns? Piece of cake. Shadow ponies capable of enslaving entire nations? Not a problem!

But ponies having to fight against each other, and watching magic and instruments of war decimate the scenery and ponies around them? She couldn’t have been less prepared. Archaic colours of all kinds painted the clouds below her, some even threatening to attack her as they broke the cloud cover. Just peeking over the edge nearly made Rainbow nauseous, as sickly glowing combat spells were shot all across the battlefield.

What she wouldn’t give to have Twilight or Starlight at that moment. Maybe even Rarity.

Catapults and trebuchets lined both sides, and each were firing at a slow but steady rate. Some ponies even rode large armored carriages that seemed to run on some form of electricity, and powerful burst of mana shot from their uncharacteristically large turrets. She didn’t know what was scarier; the fact that they even had this kind of weaponry available in Equestria or that some of the crystal ponies were willingly fighting for Sombra.

It all scared her to death more than Rainbow Dash could ever truly admit. She could see most of those on the other side were wearing powered glowing armour, their movements sluggish as if they were moving against their will, and they were. To make other ponies fight like this was sick, and Rainbow knew it. She knew everything about this was wrong. Everything.

And with that thought, she couldn’t take it anymore. Defeated and torn between wanting to help and JUST wanting to be alone, Rainbow began to hover away. Just as she left her cloud, however, her sub-conscoous kicked in and she sideflipped in mid air, narrowly missing fiery red artillery. With eyes wide and hidden, she breathed heavily, looking down.

Somepony was tracking her.

She had stayed in the same place too long, and it cost her her cover. Cursing silently to herself, Rainbow quickly began to dodge all combat mana that was thrown at her. With a quick glance to something jutting out of thr cannon the crystal pony was using, she saw a glowing crystal, and she realized that, of course, everything they used was powered with crystal.

With her target in sight, she blazed her way through the air, blurring into a rainbow contrail. Moving too fast for the cannon pony to keep up, she came down with an iron hoof, punching the pony upside and causing them to go flying from the machine. Saying a silent prayer in her heart that the pony she had punched out was being mind-controlled and not dead, she jammed the power crystal. The machine sputtered out.

Upon closer inspection, Rainbow realized that even the machinery itself was made of crystal. Sleek, black, and metallic, it looked just like the crystals she had seen grow in the Crystal Empire. Shuddering from the thought and not wanting to stay any longer for fear of her own safety, she began to flap away.

“Fall back! Retreat! They’ve outgunned us and outsmarted us, let’s live to fight another day! Move, move, move!”

Rainbow froze in mid-air as she turned to find where the source of the voice came from. Somepony was in trouble? Of course they were, they were in a battlefield! But still… Rainbow looked up at the clouds. It would be so easy just to fly away… forget about these ponies who she never would’ve known and probably still won’t since they belonged in the past…

She couldn’t. Rainbow Dash could not abandon her fellow ponies like that. She was the Element of Loyalty! She couldn’t do that. Even if she had never known any of them. Even if she didn’t owe them anything. Even if she didn’t belong. Resigned, head dropping with a sigh, Rainbow found them. A battalion of stallions all rushing away from a group about half their size and yet with the clear advantage.

She was shocked to see ponies falling, the life leaving their eyes before they even hit the ground. The small squadron that was now retreating slowly began to be picked off one by one, and Rainbow stood in horror. With her mind set and most thoughts of silent escape forgotten, Rainbow steeled herself.

She burst off faster than she had ever started before. In an instant, a rainbow wave of energy caused everypony to stop and look at what was happening. All the crystal ponies would ever see was a flashing polychromatic blur that quickly moved through their ranks. Punch, kick, wham! Rainbow hit every surface she could see that belonged to a pony on the other side, and made sure all of them were crippling in a way. Blindsided by a tackle from her left, she grunted.

Falling to the ground, she could see the rainbow contrail she had made and the rainboom explosion dissipating, and she wheezed for air. With a narrowing of her eyes, she ignored her lack of air and flared her wings, bursting off the ground and smashing into the armored pony in front of her. Falling to the ground as well, she tried her best to regain her wind.

A kick to the wing made her shout in pain.

The armored pony now stood above Rainbow’s prone form, and Rainbow glared back with a heavy breath. Her goggles began to crack even more, spider-webbing all across her left eye. With no real response from the pony hiding behind his suit, Rainbow waited. The stallion brought down his hoof… and Rainbow tripped him. Quickly sliding out of the way, Rainbow had the higher ground once more.

Several flashes of light around her caused her to turn her attention to her surroundings. The small group of ponies she had saved that had become isolated from the main battle was and had been defending her since she had taken out half of their forces single-hoofedly. Even with the help, their numbers still fell, and only Rainbow’s sharp instincts and the inflections each spell committed onto the air helped her stay alive. And yet it wasn’t enough.

As she dodged one more spell, the pony she had pinned to the ground seized hold of her foreleg, before a sick yellow light began to pulse from his armour. “You… will… die… with me!” he announced, and Rainbow immediately felt something off.

The flora beneath the crystal pony began to blacken and wither, their luscious greens and vibrant petals falling and dying. The spread of influence grew and the pony himself shrivelled up, causing Rainbow to widen her eyes. Just then, the dark magic drew back into itself, and Rainbow realized.

She pushed off of the pony with all her might, breaking the suit’s contact with her and she flew upward, but it was too late. The suicide spell or whatever it was imploded, and subsequently exploded a spore of gas violently outwards. Gas that was nothing like gas at all. She tried to outrace it, she tried to flap her wings faster, she prayed for another rainboom… but nothing.

The shroud of dark mana caught up to her.

She quickly burst out of the confines of the poisonous substance, but the damage was done. She could already feel herself begin to weaken unnaturally, and Rainbow felt herself begin to wither. She glanced down and found a gruesome sight… the pony that had taken himself out had taken a portion of his own soldiers and Equestria’s, and those that were affected seemed to be empty husks…

And yet Rainbow still persisted. She could feel her wings becoming like lead. Her breathing became ragged. Her suit began to hang limply as her own body began to cannibalize itself. But with all this, Rainbow was still alive. On the verge of oblivion, but alive.

Crying with effort and screaming with a voice now hoarse, she burst forward in one last explosive flap of her wings. Her rainbow carried with it a shadowy substance, crackling and devouring the colours as it remained further and further in the sky, eventually dying out.

The rainboom she had just performed restored some of her energy, but she could feel the wither-spell fighting back already. It’s own magicks seemed strong enough to last even through something as purifying as a rainboom. And that scared Rainbow. A terrifying inescapable feeling that she had made a grave mistake.

Rainbow did not dare to look back.

Author's Note:

I feel this chapter may have been a bit rushed and/or a little too illogical...

Please tell me what you think :twilightsmile:

Also tell me if anything doesn't make sense or if Rainbow's characterization is OOC. Thanks!