• Published 6th Jul 2012
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Legacy of the Pegasi - secret89

An ancient pegasi myth has returned. It will take three special pegasi to turn back the storm.

  • ...

Ch. 24: Ancient Cities and Relic Hunters

Legacy of the Pegasi:

Ch. 24: Ancient Cities and Relic Hunters

Cloudsdale slowly came into view as Soarin', Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo flew across the sky. Originally a border post for the Skythan Empire, the city had grown from its time as a military outpost into a massive metropolis that was home to hundreds of thousands of pegasi. Countless cloud towers reached into the sky from the center of the city, known as the Old Keep, and were emblazoned with banners and pennants of the pegasus city. Beneath the towers the Keep spread outward into several rings of curtain walls, each intermittently topped with their own smaller towers. Within these walls were housed the Senate, military headquarters and other government bureaucracies. Beyond the Keep the city departed from it's military origins, growing further into massive cloud layers that anchored the many districts that made up the majority of Cloudsdale. Despite the more civilian structure of the city, various statues of warrior pegasi on towering pedestals were scattered throughout the city, seemingly keeping watch over the citizens below. Within it all were thousands upon thousands of pegasi, who looked as if a blur, traveling from district to district in the high speed skylanes that crisscrossed Cloudsdale.

Soarin' felt himself relax slightly at the sight of his home. Good to be back. Too bad it's not under the best circumstances.

“So where exactly is the first relic?” Rainbow asked.

“I have a pretty good idea. Cloudsdale was originally a military outpost, so we need to head to the oldest part of the city. Lightning Streak's relic should be there.”

Rainbow rolled her eyes. “And that place would be...?”

Soarin' chuckled. “I thought you'd have figured it out by now Rainbow, what with your obsession with the Wonderbolts and all.”

“Hey, I'm not some egghead like you! I don't get a kick out of studying maps of Cloudsdale or whatever it is you're talking about. And besides, what does me wanting to be a Wonderbolt have to do with it?”

“Well, not exactly anything to do with you wanting to be a Wonderbolt, it has more to do with the history of the 'Bolts,” Soarin' said. He could practically feel the frustration oozing from Rainbow. He had to admit it was fun teasing her. “I guess I figured you would have picked it up at some point.”

Rainbow stared daggers at Soarin', as the stallion barely suppressed a smile. “You gonna tell me or what?” She demanded.

Just a bit more, Soarin' thought. The Wonderbolt flipped upside down, resting his hooves behind his head as he lazily flew backward. “Guess that's another point for the Daring Do Soarin' team-up. Better luck next time Rainbow,” Soarin' said glibly, winking at her.

“Spill it flyboy!” Rainbow commanded.

Soarin' laughed, righting himself next to the mare. “Okay, okay. Let me explain. Like I said, Cloudsdale was once an old military outpost. The Legacy Guard was stationed here. Eventually they became the Wonderbolts. The city grew, but the Wonderbolts never left their original garrison. Which means...”

Soarin' could see the realization on Rainbow's face as she put the pieces together. “Which means that the Wonderbolt headquarters...”

“Are the original barracks from ancient Cloudsdale.” Soarin' grinned. “I'm willing to bet my paycheck that the relic is somewhere in Wonder HQ.”

“Wow. If it is there, it'll be surprising no one ever found it.”

Soarin' shrugged. “Probably 'cause nopegasi was actually looking for it before. I'm counting on our new gift to help out on that part.”

Rainbow nodded. “Let's hope so. The less time we spend hunting relics is more time to lay the beat down on those Tempest Guard goons.”

Soarin' could feel the resolve in Rainbow's words and in her aura. The undercurrent of her power flowed freely to his, subtlety strengthening his, and in turn his own to hers. Almost like each knew what lay ahead for both pegasi.

Yet even with this assurance, something felt off. Soarin' frowned focusing more of his attention to the ethereal power. No, not off. Missing, he thought.

Soarin' looked to Scootaloo. She hadn't said a word since the trio had departed Pegasi Peak. She stared ahead blankly, her aura nearly as silent as she was. Soarin' was barely able to make out the small ripples from her ethereal signature, even as he focused. The cold from it had all but disappeared, but it was still withdrawn. Whether intentional or not, Scootaloo kept her aura apart from Soarin' and Rainbow.

Soarin' sighed. This could be a problem. We have to rely on our connection.

Scootaloo was still grieving for her parents. Something that did not heal quickly. Soarin' knew all too well. But what was he to do? Especially when up until recently he had thought he had come to terms with his own parents' death's.

Nightmare images of his parents in hooded cloaks leering over his wounded body flashed through his mind. His aura jolted abruptly, threatening to surge out of control a second time.

Soarin' shook his head, clearing away the nightmare. The chill at his hooves and the static at his wings faded.

We'll figure something out... he thought, though it didn't make him feel any better.

Looking to Rainbow, Soarin' could tell she was of the same mind, concern on her face as she looked to Scootaloo.

The trio neared the sky-scape above the city. By now the masses of pegasi were much more distinct, both on the cloud city proper and the high speed sky-lanes that crisscrossed the massive city. Soarin' directed the other two to follow him, opting to descend below the crowded sky-lanes, skimming just above the open market district on the main level.

Soarin' slowed, coasting above the market at a leisurely pace.

Rainbow shot past, then wheeled around before the stallion.

“Hey Soarin', what gives? Why are we slowing down?”

“We don't need to draw attention to ourselves by tearing across Cloudsdale. Better to take it slow.”

Rainbow settled next to Soarin'. She looked confused. “Why?”

“Something I heard from the Archon in the Everfree before I blacked out. Something about heading toward the 'outpost in exile'.”

Rainbow was silent for a moment. “Cloudsdale. He was talking about Cloudsdale wasn't he?”

Soarin' nodded.

“Those guys are here?” Scootaloo spoke up for the first time.

Soarin' looked to Scootaloo. Her blank expression was gone, a more intent gaze on her face. There was no trace of fear, Soarin' noted. Instead he felt Scootaloo's aura circle around himself and Rainbow, almost as if to make sure they were still there.

“We think so,” Soarin' replied.

“Don't worry Scoots,” Rainbow started to say, “all we gotta do is stick toge-”

“I need you both to stay with me then,” Scootaloo said abruptly.

Soarin' blinked. It wasn't the younger mare asking for two adults to watch over her. Rather, the opposite.

“Uh, yeah,” Rainbow said awkwardly. “Just what I was saying.”

Scootaloo's aura remained stretched around Soarin' and Rainbow.

Soarin' filed Scootaloo's continued odd behavior to the back of his mind, instead refocusing ahead. His eyes scanned almost without thought about the skyscape around them, military training taking over.

All clear for now, he thought. Though the masses of pegasi beneath him left him feeling exposed. Just act casual, and we'll get there without a problem.

The trio flew deeper and deeper into the market district. Soon the three were bathed in the ambient noise of the bustling city, masses of pegasi all contributing to the buzz. Soarin' guided them above one of the many crowded cloud streets that were common in the districts, offering those who wished a more leisurely trot to the speed of the skylanes. In the market district these walkways were lined with shops and restaurants on the main level, while smaller outlets hovered on singular clouds just below the skylanes. In keeping with the design of the Old Keep and the rest of the city, the market district bore the same grooved columns and stylized patterns that had become synonymous with pegasus culture. This is turn was complimented by the very visible presence of the Cloudsdale Standard, displayed in a range of flags, banners, pennants and other patriotic emblems that seemed to saturate the city. There was scarcely a column, doorway or mantle that did not bear the city's colors.

Crowds began to build in the air space above the heart of the market district. An uneasy feeling formed in the pit of Soarin's stomach as the three approached. He could practically make a checklist for all the tactical blunders and hazards he was flying into, if the mental sirens in his head were anything to go by.

Limited visibility, close quarters flying, no easy escape routes, practically sitting ducks in the open... he listed off. Once again his military training took over. Just treat it like your behind enemy lines. Blend in with the crowd. Stay alert, but don't draw attention. Act like you belong here.

Soarin' took a deep breath. He unconsciously clenched his jaw, his eyes scanning about. “Stay close you two,” he said, leading the two into the steadily growing crowd.

“Whoa,” Scootaloo said. She fluttered awkwardly forward as she craned her head about.

“Never been to Cloudsdale before?” Soarin' asked absently over the din of the market.

“It's so big; I've never seen so many pegasi in one place before.”

“Yeah, it can have that affect on you. When this is all over, I'll have to give you the grand tour.”

Soarin' continued to lead the three through the crowd. Excited shouts from loudspeakers filled the air, followed by intermittent waves of cheers and clapping hooves. As the three flew further along, Soarin' was able to make out the source.

A large crowd was assembled in the main forum, the juncture for all the districts on the current level. They were circular in design, each of the main roads feeding into a large circle. A large skylane traveled the circumference of the forum, scores of pegasi entering and exiting districts. More than just a crossroads between the districts, in interior of the Cloudsdale forums were a place for a quick breakfast run, a meeting place and most importantly, where to get the most up to date news in the city.

Today's news must have been particularly important. The forum was filled to the brim. The forum itself was practically covered flags, pennants, streamers and other symbols of Cloudsdale. A trio of massive statues of Commander Hurricane, Lightning Streak and Ice Wing stood stalwart in the center of the venue. It was no coincidence that the statues rotated with the moving city, so that they were always facing Canterlot.

Soarin' guided the trio lower from the increasing crowds of the skylanes. Distinct words reached his ears from the loud speakers.

“We have finally broken from the shackles of the Royals!” A very animated pegasus at a podium proclaimed. “Celestia and her sister Luna will restrain the pegasi spirit no longer!”

Cheers filled the air.

Hm. Never seen such a large crowd for one of these rallies, Soarin' thought.

Soarin' continued to guide his companions past. Nevertheless, Soarin' could tell that Rainbow and Scootaloo were glued to the speaker's words.

“Because they know they cannot keep us down! This is what our ancestors had envisioned for us, to embrace the pegasus spirit, to stand apart from the rest of Equestria! No longer shall we exist beneath the Sun and Moon! It was our ancestors, the Skythan Pegasi who first tamed the heavens! Our chosen, winged race of the stars! We are once again a nation all our own, unrestricted by those simpleton mud mongrels and those rimor calvas magic users!”

Greater, louder cheers filled the air.

“Hey!” Rainbow exclaimed. “What gives that guy the right to talk like that?!”

“Yeah,” Scootaloo said. “That was pretty harsh. Is Cloudsdale always like this?”

“It sure as heck wasn't when I was here!” Rainbow huffed, staring daggers at the boisterous pegasus below.

Soarin' cringed. “Independence rallies aren't uncommon, but they're not normally so... aggressive. Normally it's only a smaller portion of the population. Never seen this many pegasi on board with it before though...” Soarin' trailed off, gazing at the assembled pegasi below.

There was no hesitation from any of the pegasi in the crowd. Each and everyone were enraptured with the speaker's words. Even those in passing would stop for a moment to nod in approval, others rending a reverent wing salute to the statues. In fact, now that he was paying more attention, Soarin' noted that the three of them actually stood out from their lack of involvement.

His aura could only brush against the collective pegasi in the city, but it gave him a clear enough picture. Nearly all the pegasi in Cloudsdale were completely lost in a patriotic fervor that pulsed through the city. I'm surprised I didn't pick up on it before. Yet something still bothered him. There was no malice in his fellow pegasi's patriotism, but something still felt off. Like something was hiding in the undercurrent.

“I'd guess it has something to do with Cloudsdale being independent now,” Soarin' said. He hadn't lied, but it didn't feel like the truth either.

“Well it stinks,” Rainbow spat. “It's one thing to be kicking the pegasus pride around, I mean, I do it everyday just being here.”

Soarin' rolled his eyes.

“But talking about earth ponies and unicorns like that,” Rainbow continued, “and the Princesses?” She shook her head. “I just don't get it. It's so... so...”

“Xenophobic?” Scootaloo offered.

Rainbow stared blankly at Scootaloo for a moment. “Uh, yeah. That.”

“You didn't grow up here, Rainbow,” Soarin' said, making sure to avoid Rainbow's eyes. He could feel her looking at him. “Things have been like this for a while; I told you Cloudsdale wasn't on the best of terms with the Royals,” he said. He grimaced. It was the truth, so why did he feel like he was confessing?

The faster we get away from here, the better, he thought.

The crowds began to thin as the trio flew farther from the forum, the Old Keep coming into view.

Rainbow flew closer alongside Soarin'. He didn't look back, and she hadn't said a word, but he knew the question before it came.

“And what about the Wonderbolts? What about you?”

Scootaloo and Rainbow had Soarin' cornered, their eyes like spears. There was no malice in Rainbow's question, but it felt like it all the same.

Soarin' continued to stare ahead. “I..., we, don't like the Royals,” he said curtly. “As for earth ponies and unicorns, I'm not so... xenophobic.

Rainbow seemed satisfied enough, silence settling between the three as the Old Keep towered before them. Even so, he could still feel her uncertain eyes upon him; her aura mimicked the sensation as well.

Soarin' mentally frowned. Great. Now Rainbow thinks I'm some kind of pegasi supremacist. Guess there goes that date. He shook his head. Com'on, get your head in the game. No time to worry over your non-existent love life. Who knows, maybe she'll forget about it.

“What's rimor calvas?” Scootaloo asked abruptly.

Soarin' groaned. Well so much for that.

“It means split-skull,” he said.

Soarin' counted the seconds.

“Okay...” Scootaloo said. “But that doesn't really answer my question.”

“In ancient times the pegasi warred with the other races, including unicorns,” Soarin' started flatly. “As I'm sure you can imagine, weaponized magic is nasty business. Wings ripped clean off, pegasi set on fire, spontaneous combustion, you get the picture.”

“Uh,... wow. That's kinda messed up,” Scootaloo replied.

“Yeah, the Skythan pegasi thought the same,” Soarin' droned. “Except they actually did something about it. Quick and efficient too. Aim for the horn with a spear, and split it down through the skull. No more magic.”

Scootaloo shivered, rubbing the top of her head absently. “That's horrible!”

“That's war,” Soarin' countered. “Anyway, split-skull, rimor calva. Eventually it became a slur for unicorns.”

“The Archon used that word back in the Everfree Forest,” Rainbow said. She looked to Soarin'.

This time Soarin' turned to Rainbow. There was fear in her eyes and her aura, but not for them.

“He's going to try kill them isn't he? Earth ponies and unicorns? We can't let that happen!”

“All the more reason for us to stop him,” Soarin' replied.

Rainbow nodded, her determination flowing through her aura. Nevertheless Soarin' felt uneasy. We have to stop him. Or we're looking at a war where rimor calva is more than a slur.

Rainbow walked slowly through the main hall of 112th Legacy Guard Headquarters, better known as Wonderbolts HQ. The building lived up to its heritage; the structure was ancient. Towering grooved columns lined the walls, creating the grand scale of the hall that seemed to stretch on forever up to the ceiling above. Windows flanked the columns, reaching into the rafters, allowing golden rays of light into the hall. Tapestries with the Wonderbolt crest hung upon the columns, while larger ones lined the ceiling in formation, hanging down in two pairs along either side of the hall. Statues of nameless pegasi warriors of old stood between the columns, each in various poses of battle. As Rainbow's eyes followed further along the walls, the statues were replaced with paintings, portraits of uniform clad Wonderbolts. With each passing portrait the uniform changed, the last of which bore the Wonderbolt flight suit in it's current incarnation.

However, these pieces paled in comparison to the presence that dominated the hall. Or, rather, three presences.

Suspended in the air in the very center of the hall was a gigantic statue of Commander Hurricane, flanked on his left and right by Lightning Streak and Ice Wing.

Rainbow craned her neck up at the statue. No. Not statue, she thought. Statue doesn't do this justice.

Commander Hurricane was depicted in flight, wings at full extension, his body angled at a forty-five degree angle toward the entrance with a bladed hoof outstretched. Anyone entering the hall was immediately the target of the deadly strike, greeted with the dual bladed dagger. If the visitor was able to tear their eyes away from the blades, they would immediately find themselves in the Wonderbolt's steely gaze, complete with bared teeth and all protected under a menacing helm.

Rainbow only lingered on Commander Hurricane for a moment. Not bad. But what about Lightning Streak?

Lightning Streak was to the left of her Commander, suspended upright. Rainbow recognized the position of her wings; she was flying backwards. Lightning Streak held her bladed hooves in a ready stance, one slightly in front of the other.

Rainbow could feel a smirk pulling at her mouth, but then, maybe it was just her imagination? Maybe something do with her connection to Lightning Streak? And yet, it almost looked like those blades were goading, baiting, someone to attack. But then again she'd been wrong before.

Rainbow looked up at the face of her ancestor. A massive grin spread across her face. Guess I wasn't wrong.

Lightning Streak bore a cocksure grin; there was no mistaking it. Rainbow could see the eager and excited confidence behind the stone eyes that rested just below her angular helm. This pegasi had thrived in battle, craved it, tempted it, dared it. All at the breadth of a bladed hoof.

“If this youth is of my blood, well then they must be as incredible as myself.” Lightning Streak's words echoed in Rainbows mind. She grinned broader. You got that right!


Rainbow blinked, lost from her reverie. She looked over her shoulder.

Scootaloo looked up at the statue of Ice Wing, the mare guarding the right side of Commander Hurricane, her bladed hooves crossed in a defensive stance.

“Yeah, I hear that,” Rainbow replied. “I mean, I knew Wonder HQ had to be awesome, but this is a whole 'nother level of cool!”

“Yeah...” Soarin' replied absently. He stood just beneath Commander Hurricane, meeting the statue's eyes intently.

Rainbow regarded the Wonderbolt for a moment. For someone who likely was in and out of Wonder HQ on a daily basis, Soarin' looked as if he were seeing the statue before him for the first time. But unlike the excitement Rainbow felt, Soarin' seemed subdued, difficult to read. His face reminded her of when he watched Hurricane under the onslaught from the Tempest Guard at Pegasi Peak.

She frowned. “You good Soarin'?”

Soarin' held his gaze at the statue a moment longer. “Yeah,” he said dismissively, walking toward Rainbow. “I'm fine.”

Rainbow leveled a knowing frown at the stallion.

“Really, I'm fine. It's here that's wrong; we haven't run into a single Wonderbolt. Even the front gate wasn't manned.”

“Um, yeah now that you mention it,” Scootaloo said, scanning around the hall. “Where is everypony?”

Soarin' had a point. It was practically a ghost town inside the headquarters. That alone was cause for worry. But Rainbow still hadn't forgotten the look on Soarin's face from before. There was something he wasn't telling. She didn't need her aura to tell her that. Not now. Maybe when we have a little more time.

“Doesn't the Contingency thing have something to do with it?” Rainbow asked.

“Partly,” Soarin' said, guiding the three through the hall and into the administrative level. A large open room with desks and tack boards covered in maps filled the room. Upended chairs and stray feathers lay on the floor. Larger offices were on either side of the room.

This doesn't look good, Dash thought. There didn't appear to be any signs of struggle. But whoever had been here had left in a hurry.

Soarin' walked up toward one of the desks. He sniffed at a mug. “Coffee from this morning.”

Abruptly, Soarin' hovered into the air, flying toward a small balcony at the opposite end of the room.

“What is it Soarin'?” Rainbow asked., joining him in the air. Scootaloo's wings sounded behind her.

“Just follow me.”

The trio landed on the balcony. Above the doorway etched in bold letters in the cloud-stone were the words 'COMMAND GROUP'.

Inside was a massive office, similar to the room below, though specifically made for one. A large executive desk sat in the middle. Light peered down in rays from a large domed skylight overhead. In addition to maps, statues and other military decorations, the office also had crystal monitors along either side of the room. A series of small green lights marked the top of each monitor, some kind of security feature Dash guessed. Much like the room below, the office was abandoned.

Rainbow saw Soarin's frown deepen. He trotted up to the desk. Rainbow noted the name plate that rested on the desk, 'LTC PRIMUS PILUS'.

Soarin' moved quickly to one of the monitors. Unlike the others, all the lights above this monitor flashed an angry red.

“Soarin', what is it?” Rainbow asked.

“The commander is gone and the headquarters is abandoned,” Soarin' said flatly gesturing toward the other monitors. “And the arms room has been completely emptied,” he added, looking to the flashing monitor.

“What does that mean exactly?” Scootaloo asked. Rainbow could see the apprehension on the younger pegasus' face.

“The Tempest Guard?” Rainbow guessed.

Soarin' nodded. “It's a safe bet. They didn't fight here, but Colonel Pilus must've gotten word of something that he felt he needed to leave the garrison armed.” Soarin' looked to Scootaloo. “If anything, it means we need to find the relic ASAP. It's not safe here.”

“Right,” Rainbow said. “Any ideas?”

Soarin' shrugged. “Well it's obviously not out in the open. I've been across every inch of this place; there isn't any ancient armor lying around.”

“Right, so it's hidden somewhere.” Rainbow tapped into her aura, reaching out. “This should only take a minute.” She closed her eyes, focusing for a sign of Lightning Streak's signature. Only seconds had passed, but Rainbow was suddenly overtaken with an odd, familiar sensation. It had become entirely too still. She opened her eyes.

Soarin' and Scootaloo were gone. The world around her was plunged into the dark of night.

Rainbow half yelped, her eyes darting around for any sign of Soarin' and Scootaloo. She was about to call out for them, when the nagging feeling that she had witnessed this before stopped.

“Wait, hold on Rainbow,” she said to herself. She began to pace the room, moving in and out of the moonlight as she racked her brains. “This happened last time. At Twilight's library, when I was looking at the book and heard that voice...” she trailed off. Rainbow's eyes lit up as she dashed for the balcony, her aura spiking.

A ghostly pegasus trotted casually toward her, between the rows of desks below. The image of the ghost was hazy, features indistinct. However, there was no mistaking Lightning Streak's armor.

“Lightning Streak!” Rainbow called out.

The ghost either didn't hear her, or chose to ignore her, continuing to walk deeper into the facility.

Rainbow didn't wait. She dropped off the balcony, gliding to the floor. Her eyes caught the ethereal trail from Lightning Streak's tail disappear through the doorway just as she touched down.

Not wasting any time, Rainbow galloped after the ghost. Skidding through the doorway, she found herself at the intersection of a hallway, pathways straight ahead, left and right. The distinctive Cloudsdale pillars marked the walls, with paintings and portraits between them.

Rainbow spun around. There was no sign of Lightning Streak.

Rainbow summoned her aura. The immediate tug at her body was all she needed. Left!

Rainbow took off down the hallway, keeping her aura projected ahead of her. Every so often she would send a pulse through it, continuing to track down the illusive Lightning Streak as she led Rainbow through a maze of hallways and stairwells, deeper and deeper into the facility.

Rainbow rounded a dark corner at high speed, nearly toppling a bust atop a pedestal. She had nearly caught up to the ghost pegasus at the corner, only for Lightning Streak vanish and reappear halfway down the passageway. “How does she even do that?” Rainbow huffed aloud.

She took off once again after the ghost. As she dashed down the hallway, Rainbow noted the barren walls and lack of decoration, or anything for that matter. Rainbow wasn't an expert in cloud architecture, she would rather be busting clouds than crafting them, but she could tell she was in a very, very old part of the Wonderbolt Headquarters. Instead of the crystal fixtures along the walls that lighted facility, here there were only the rusted remnants of what had once held wooden torches. I'm sure if Soarin' were here he'd be nerding out about the history of this place or something... Despite the grin on her face at the Wonderbolt's expense, Rainbow gave pause. She frowned, thinking back. Something the stallion had said before. Soarin' said this place was the original barracks for the Lightning Streak and those guys. She grimaced. Guess you're up two on the Daring Do team up Soarin', she thought. Too bad I'm going to be the one to find Lightning's armor!

A task easier said than done. Rainbow reached the end of the hall, which descended into a narrow and uneven stairway. What little light there was this deep in the Wonderbolt Headquarters was gone; the passage ahead was engulfed in darkness after the first step.

Rainbow hesitated at the tops of the stairs. “Lightning is down there?” She asked, eyeing the passage before her, cringing. In a bout of certain irony, her aura confirmed the question brightly, pulling at her toward the descent. “Hey, hey hey!” Rainbow skittered back several steps. “Not so fast!” Slowly she re-approached the top of the stairs. She peered into the darkness. It filled the descent like a liquid, wafting in shadows at her hooves.

Rainbow groaned, staring up at the ceiling. Why does this have to remind me of that one time Daring had to go down into the pitch black tomb with all those spiders... She peeked her head down the stairway again. Abruptly she exaggeratedly shook all over, shaking phantom spiders from herself. “Come one Rainbow, get a grip! It's just the dark! You're not a some wimp who's afraid of the dark! And no way am I going to let Soarin' beat me. I'm going to find that armor.”

She also supposed that she could never live with herself if Soarin' saw her like this. How mortified she'd be. She only supposed of course, she would never allow herself to be controlled by silly things like how a supposed attractive stallion would react if he saw her acting like a foal.

Supposedly, of course.

Ugh, now of all times? Rainbow shook her head, swatting the confusing thoughts away. No more thinking. Go!

With a deep breath, she plunged into the darkness.

Rainbow kept her pace steady. One hoof after the other. She kept her wings slightly ajar, letting her primary feathers trace the walls beside her. Just in case, just in case... she thought. Spiders didn't exist on cloud structures, but that didn't rule out the possibility of traps. No telling in an ancient spooky cloud fort. Strangely enough, Rainbow felt calm as she slowly descended, even if she couldn't see her own hooves in front of her.

“Sure is taking a whi-!”

Rainbow nearly stumbled, unprepared for landing that rose up to her hooves.

Rainbow looked around. Darkness still filled the expanse around her. For all she knew she could have been in a massive hall or a dungeon cell, were it not for the tiny glow that peered through the outline of a door several hooves opposite of her. It shimmered a similar hue to the ghost pegasus' form.

She checked her aura again. It replied excitedly. The chase was over. Lightning Streak, and with a bit of luck, her armor, were just on the other side of the door.

Rainbow wasted no time, trotting quickly toward the door, swinging it open. As soon as she did, she was greeted by a sudden blast of light, blinding her.

Rainbow stumbled, covering her eyes with her hoof. “Gah!” She exclaimed as she steadied herself in the doorway. Rainbow tensed, waiting for anything, but there was only the crackling sound of fire around her. She shielded herself with her wing as she waited for her eyes to adjust.

Almost there, almost there. Rainbow repeated in her mind. Her vision returned, she refolded her wing at her side.

The room before her was wrong. Out of place. Fiery torches adorned the small room. Racks lined the walls, filled with ancient spears and swords. A large, circular stone fastened to a pedaled seat sat in one corner beside a blackened anvil. There was a large table that ran the length of the center of the room complimented by a collection of wooden tankards and chairs. A faded, canvas map hung over the edge, pinned by a knife near the center. Wooden bunk beds protruded from the walls into the room. Between each was a wooden stand that held the distinctive ancient armor.

No, not out of place, Dash reasoned. Out of time.

Lightning Streak stood to her right, between the first and second bunks, facing the stand which now bore her armor. Unlike her initial appearance, Lightning Streak was solid, the same as she had been back at Pegasi Peak. For the first time Dash saw the crimson aural cloud around Lightning's chest, wafting about lazily. Despite all of this, the pegasus was still, still acting as if Rainbow wasn't there.

Rainbow slowly walked toward Lightning Streak, feeling eerily like some kind of assassin or thief as the ghost remained still. She's gonna give it to me right? But then why didn't she before? And why all the running around? Another thought crossed her mind. Aw ponyfeathers. Am I gonna have to steal Lightning Streak's armor?

Rainbow slowed her steps as she sided up alongside Lightning Streak. Not a breath escaped her, it was like she was physically frozen. Lightning Streak's hoof rested upon her chest plate, her eyes locked upon the piece of armor.

Rainbow eyed the pegasus warily. Absently her eyes drifted to the ghost's mark.

A trio of side by side lightning bolts, one red, the second blue and the last yellow, were emblazoned upon her flank.

“Guess I really am your descendant,” Rainbow remarked. She turned back to Lightning Streak. “Um, hello?”

The ghost made no reply.

Maybe this will be easier than I thought, Rainbow smirked. She inched her way in front of the ghost, waving her hoof in front of the Lightning's eyes.

Lightning didn't even blink.

“Right. Guess I don't feel so bad about taking this,” Rainbow said, turning toward the armor. “You guys practically told us to go get the legacies anyway, so there better not be some stupid test or curse if I take it.”

Rainbow paused for a moment, swallowing. She looked over her shoulder at Lightning.

The ghost still stared ahead, unfeeling.

Rainbow shivered. Weird. Just get the armor and get outta here.

Rainbow studied the armor. Now that she could look at it up close, it seemed rather plain. No different than any of the others that lined the walls. Well, guess there's only one way to find out.

Rainbow reached for Lightning's armor, grasping just under each pauldron with her hooves. She started to lift the relic, but quickly ran into trouble. The armor would not budge.

"What?!" Rainbow exclaimed in confusion.

She pulled harder, but Lightning's armor didn't move an inch.

Undeterred, Rainbow pushed and pulled at the armor, attacking it from a various different angles. This went on for several minutes. However, try as she might, she could not lift the armor from its stand.

Huffing and panting, Rainbow dropped to her hooves. "You've got to be kidding me!" She turned to Lightning Streak, shooting the ghost a scowl. "This is your fault!" She accused, thrusting her hoof at the comatose spectre. "Why bring me all this way, just to keep me from getting the one thing we need to save the world? I'm beginning to think you guys don't want us to get these legacy things at all!"

Lightning Streak remained unchanged.

"Ponyfeathers!" Rainbow exclaimed, seating herself roughly on the ground. She roughly crossed her forehooves, staring daggers at the armor.

There has to be more to it than this, she thought. Her eyes drifted from the relic to Lightning's hoof.

A crystal bulb went off in Rainbow's head. It is her fault... Lightning's protecting it, holding it here! But how do I let her know its me?

Rainbow walked up alongside the ghost, studying her hoof. "If brute force didn't work..." Rainbow thought aloud. She focused her aura on Lightning.

The light red haze of Lightning's aura began to glow around her chest, extending along her hoof and gathering around her armor. It bathed the armor in a protective layer.

Okay, that's good, I think, Rainbow thought. She glanced at Lightning Streak.

No reaction.

Rainbow frowned. What else?

Her eyes drifted once more to Lightning's hoof. It was offset, resting on the right breast of the chest plate.

Rainbow sauntered slowly toward the armor, gazing intently at it. “Almost as if...”

Rainbow placed her hoof beside Lightning's, mimicking the other mare. She closed her eyes, and let her aura stretch forth.

The crimson haze appeared around her chest, billowing and pulsing. With faint electric pulses it move down along her hoof to Lightning's armor.

Immediately Rainbow could feel her aura mix Lightning Streak's, but the latter still seemed distant and dormant. Rainbow focused harder, pressing her aura against Lightning. She sent wave after wave, rousing her aura into a flurry and shocks, conjuring the equivalent of a mental racket, anything she could think of that might let Lightning Streak know that she was there.

Minutes passed, as Rainbow continued to bombard Lightning's aura. She gritted her teeth. Grrr... come on! I don't have time for this! Rainbow mentally bellowed, thrashing out with a particularly vicious wave of her aura. Lightning Streak! I'm done playing games! Ponies are going to die! Give me your armor!

A spark echoed against Rainbow's aura.

So, you can use telepathy now. Good work.

Rainbow's eyes shot open. She looked to Lightning Streak.

Lightning Streak's ghostly gaze looked back, nose to nose with Rainbow. She smirked.

“Sweet Celestia!” Rainbow exclaimed, leaping into the air with lightning reflexes.

“You mind cutting out the noise?” Lightning said, looking particularly annoyed at Rainbow. “I'm starting to get a migraine.”

Rainbow stared for a moment at the ghost, still processing what had just happened. I did it! Now I can-

Yeah, great job there, Lightning Streak's voice cut in Rainbow's mind with no small amount of snark. Now, about that noise...

Rainbow blanched, her eyes tracing her aura toward Lightning Streak. The ghost below her flinched as Rainbow's aura pulsed again, sending another wave against Lightning.

Rainbow abruptly cut off her aura as she hovered to the ground. “Heh heh, sorry about that. But to be fair you didn't really give me a choice.”

“Well, if I remember correctly,” Lightning started to say as she walked toward the table, “that was kind of the point.”


Lightning seated herself at the table, grabbing one of the tankards in her hoof. She raised it to her lips, but frowned, turning the dry tankard upside down with a sigh. “Drat.” She swung around, resting her head on her hoof as she leaned on the table. “Yeah, you didn't think I'd just let you take it before you were ready did you?”

“So I guess I passed then,” Rainbow grinned at her accomplishment. “What exactly did I do?”

“You proved to me that you really are my descendant. Only someone of our bloodline would have the tenacity and determination to continue. Only your aura could have reached me, I made sure of that. You're better now than you were before, at least enough to wear my armor. Which by the way, don't go scuffing it up,” Lightning pointed at Rainbow casually, “I took good care of it, and I don't need some rookie, foal feathered pegasus wrecking it, legacy-prophecy thing or not.”

“You're dead.”

“Yeah, and?”

Rainbow sighed. “Never mind. You said better now? What's that supposed to mean?”

Lightning Streak jumped from her seat. She smirked, her distinctive cocky grin on her face.

“You may be pretty awesome Rainbow Dash, you're my descendant after all, but you've still got a ways to go. Telepathy was another hurdle.”

“Ugh, seriously! I don't have time for all this sagely, 'yes master I am but the apprentice and must find myself nonsense!' Ponies are going to die! I-, we need to be ready now!”

Lightning Streak squared up on Rainbow, her face stony. Her eyes glowed. “Maybe some. I'd wager some have already paid the price.”

Scootaloo's parents flashed through Rainbow's mind.

“But everypegasi,” Lightning Streak continued, circling around Rainbow, “and everypony will die, if you go in there, after Typhonis like a green-wing into a rabble of Gryphon barbarians. That's a fact.”

“Yeah, you're right,” Rainbow said darkly. Anger, pure anger, one that rarely burned within her, raged. “Ponies have died. And we couldn't do a damn thing about it!” Rainbow stamped her hoof angrily into the ground, cracking the stone. She squared up at Lightning Streak, moving to only a few paces in front of the ghost. “If I'm going to be this Legacy Bearer, then I owe each and every pony in Equestria my loyalty. I'll do everything, even if its stupid, to save them. Even if it means I'm some green-wing, without all your so called help,” Rainbow thrust a hoof at Lightning, “that's been a real pain in the flank to get!”

Lightning didn't speak, studying Rainbow impassively.

Rainbow took a moment to calm herself. “Sorry,” she said quietly.

“No, don't be,” Lightning replied. “Hold onto that fire within you Rainbow. I know that kind of determination,” she said wistfully. “With the powers of a Legacy Bearer at your command, you could move mountains.”

“Fine,” Rainbow said, a little harsher than she meant. Lightning Streak's admission was refreshing, but she didn't have time for tact. “What do I need to be ready? If it's more than just finding these pieces of armor, we need to know. You guys haven't really been up front about what it is we need to be doing to save Equestria.”

Lightning Streak cringed. “Yeah, about that...”

“You can't be serious?!”

Lightning Streak didn't immediately reply, but Rainbow could see Lightning was frustrated with herself. The ghost took a seat once more, peering over the map of Equestria.

Lightning sighed. For the first time since Rainbow had met her, Lightning suddenly appeared completely bereft of her confident visage. If she could best describe it, the ghost before her was tired. Tired and defeated. Helpless.

Lightning hung her head. “We thought this was the only way. A way to endure after death, to prepare our ancestors for Typhonis' inevitable return.” She stared ahead, abruptly grasping the knife from the table in her hooves. She balanced it between her hooves, running the edge along her hoof.

Anger marked Lightning's features. Rainbow grew increasingly wary as she watched Lightning play with the blade.

“But it wasn't how I thought it would be,” she spat. “I was to be an eternal warrior, called upon with Hurricane and Ice Wing to defeat Typhonis!” Lightning declared triumphantly. She flicked the blade from her hooves, catching it in her wing as she jumped atop the table. “We would've been heroes to the pegasi for all time,” Lightning said proudly, facing Rainbow, “and would have saved everypegasi from our failures.”

“Um...,” Rainbow started to say.

Abruptly Lightning vaulted into a backward flip with a snarl, twisting sideways at the height of her jump. Wielding the blade in her wing, she flung it across the room with the momentum of her flip. The dagger flew across the room and in between the visor of one of the helms, embedded itself in the wooden stand beneath.

Lightning landed a split second after the blade did. She looked down at Rainbow. All anger was gone from the pegasus' face; there was only a blank, hard stare. “But that's the funny thing about the praefractus,” she said, jumping from the table and seating herself in front of Rainbow.

“Soul splintering...” Rainbow said.

Lightning nodded. “You endure, much like I thought I would, but at a price: stuck between life and death, only a fragment of what you once were. Unable to affect the world around you, condemned to watch, with only hazy memories and the trickle of the Legacy Stream to sustain you.” Lightning laughed lightly. “I almost knew there was something Ice Wing wasn't telling me about the praefractus before we did it. I think she knew I wouldn't go through with it otherwise.”

Lightning shook her head, as if to clear her thoughts. “Sorry. There's no time for this kind of thing.”

It wasn't a lie. But Rainbow didn't say anything. She could see the pains that Lightning Streak was saddled with. A mare so very much like herself, who valued action, grounded and forced to watch time pass in front of her. And there was nothing Lightning could do about it. I'd go insane, Rainbow thought.

Oh, I did. Once or twice. Lightning's snarky voice came to Rainbow's mind again.

“Would you stop doing that!” Rainbow shouted. She shot an alarmed look at Lightning, still not used to the mental intrusion. She unconsciously brought a hoof to shield herself as Lightning grinned madly back at her.

“But enough of the sob story. I'll tell what I know, if it's all I can do anymore to get back at Typhonis,” Lightning said, her cocky demeanor returned. She walked back toward the table, Rainbow joining her opposite of the map.

“We found the map at Pegasi Peak, and your powers,” Rainbow said, pointing toward the map. “But we can't control them-”

“The armor,” Lightning interrupted, gesturing toward her chest piece. “It will focus our powers, allow you to channel them properly. But you still have to learn how to use them. They are only tools.”

“Okay, so how do we do that?”

Lightning Streak was quiet for a moment, concentrating. “Stercore,” Lightning hissed under her breath. Rainbow still didn't recognize the speech, but her aura seemed to indicate a less than savory, and somewhat colorful vocabulary.

“You don't remember, do you?” Rainbow guessed.

“I don't care if we're already dead, if I ever see Ice Wing again I'll kill her,” Lightning quipped.

Rainbow groaned. At this rate all of Equestria would fall to Typhonis, and all because Rainbow, Soarin' and Scootaloo didn't know how to use their powers. “You guys really did make this as complicated as possible, you know that?” Rainbow said, annoyed.

“Tell me something I don't know. But don't count me out yet Rainbow Dash,” Lightning said. “Open your aura to me. Call it a hunch, but there's something I want to see.”

Rainbow cocked a brow at Lightning. While her ancestor was clearly on her side, Rainbow wasn't so sure allowing somepegaus to poke around her aura was a good idea when their sanity was in question.

Hey! I'm plenty sane, you little green wing! Show some respect for your elders! Lightning snapped, sending a mental slap to Rainbow's head.

“Um, ow?” Rainbow shot a glare at Lightning. She rubbed her head, feeling a headache coming on.

“Get over it. I may not remember much, but you're going to have to be ready for more than just physical attacks. As an Archon, Typhonis' prowess will extend the to the mental realm. Learn to guard your aura.”

“Noted,” Rainbow replied, a little more harshly than she meant. It had been a while since she had been the student.

Rainbow tapped into her aura, letting it flow openly. After a moment she could feel Lightning's aura mix with hers. It was nearly identical in its signature, marked with the ghost pegasus' own cocky brand. Despite the similarities, Lightning's aura was severely diminished. Faded even, as if there were entire sections missing. From what Rainbow's aura could tell, they seemed to have been forcibly ripped from Lightning. From the soul splintering? Rainbow wondered.

Without warning, Rainbow felt Lightning Streak's aura reach deep within her mind. Her eyes clenched shut as images flashed through her mind. With them they carried an old pain. She was a filly, clutching the cloud at her home as she helplessly watched her parents engulfed in the storm. Trapped in her younger body, she was forced to watch the replay from the memory. Why this? Rainbow thought, straining against the mental barrage. The pain throbbed like a re-opened wound, pounding against her consciousness.

More memories. A dream, flying across a blue sky. No... Rainbow squirmed in her head as she tried to wrench her body from the replay. Not a dream, she thought, terrified. Nightmare. She was on her back, wounds along her chest and face while two figures loomed above her, brandishing blades. Her ruined statue was behind. She could see the two figures draw nearer, their faces coming into view from under their hoods. It was playing out just like before.

The pain raced from the wound through her aura like lightning.


She heard Lightning's voice trying to reach her. She felt the ghost's aura rush toward her, racing to save her.

“Rainbow!” Lightning's voice echoed again, closer this time.

The hooded figures drew closer. There was only one part left to the nightmare.

Rainbow Dash closed her eyes, as the one of the pegasi raised their blade above her. The hood around Rainbow's father fell.

“RAINBOW DASH!" Lightning's voice bellowed above the storm in the nightmare, her aura converging on Rainbow.

Rainbow gasped, opening her eyes.

Lightning Streak was nose to nose with her. Her eyes were intent with worry as she looked Rainbow in the eye. “Are you okay?”

Rainbow took several deep breaths. “Y-yeah,” she replied shakily, wiping the cold sweat from her brow. “Why did you do that?”

“I found what I was looking for. A wound, or scar, if you want to think of it that way, in your aura. When my aura felt around it, your mind was suddenly frantic. Your aura went into a frenzy,” Lightning said. She looked at Rainbow, still concerned. “What happened?”

Rainbow slowed her breathing. So she didn't see, she thought. She waited for Lightning to mentally jump in, but the ghost's voice was absent, something Rainbow was thankful for.

“Old memories. And...,” Rainbow hesitated, shuffling her hooves awkwardly, “a nightmare.”

“I see. Well, whatever it triggered in your mind, it's directly linked to the fracture in you aura. It's not allowing you to channel the Legacy Bearer power properly.”

But what does Mom and Dad dying have to do with that? Why am I having nightmares about them? Rainbow wondered. She took a seat, rubbing her temple with her hooves. “None of this makes sense. And I don't have time for it!”

Lightning seated herself in front of Rainbow. “Well, don't kill the messenger, cause there's more.”

Rainbow groaned. She dragged her hoof exaggeratedly down her face, staring daggers at Lightning. "It's a good thing you're already dead."

“Shut up, you need to hear this,” Lightning ordered. “When I was moving through your aura, I noticed something, even though it doesn't make sense. You bear the mantle of the legacy, but your aura is immature.”

“Yeah, yeah I get it, I'm some green-wing,” Rainbow said sourly.

“Not like that,” Lightning shot back sternly. “Your aura hasn't developed to handle the load of the Legacy Bearers power. The fact that you've done as much as you've already is incredible. When I received the mantle, my aura was matured.”

Rainbow threw her hooves into the air, shaking her head. “Ugh, so what, now I'm defective? What the hay is going on?” She sighed. “What's causing it, how do I fix it? Is it also why Soarin' and Scootaloo are having the same problems?”

Lightning shook her head. “A lot of questions Rainbow. Unfortunately, I only have a guess. Ice Wing was the expert on the Legacy Stream and pegasi auras, not I. And even if I did know at one time, the praefractus may have taken it from me.”

“Right. So what is it. Your guess.”

“The scar, whatever it is exactly, may have stunted your aura,” Lightning said, walking toward her armor. Rainbow followed behind her. “Though it would have to be truly damaging to do such a thing.”

It was, Rainbow thought pensively.

“Nothing I've ever witnessed,” Lightning continued, “And believe me, I've been through some nasty stuff. Of course that's only a guess, there never was such a thing during my time.” She stopped to examine the chest plate. “But the Legacy Stream has waned, the connections to pegasi are all but lost.” She lifted a hoof, letting her aura extend from it to the armor, engulfing it in her crimson glow. “As far as how you would fix such a thing, I have no idea.”

“So I'm still stuck at square one,” Rainbow said. “Anything else?”

Lightning Streak did not immediately reply. Instead she lifted the chest plate from its stand, turning to face Rainbow.

She looked intently at Rainbow. “There is one thing that I know. Something Ice Wing and Hurricane always said of a Legacy Bearer. Their spirit, your spirit, must be whole. I think its safe to say your aura is not. But,” Lightning smirked, “I don't think you're about to let that stop you.”

Rainbow grinned. The situation really couldn't have been any worse, and yet Lightning's words seemed to spark a kindred camaraderie between herself and the ghost. “A demi-god pegasus and the end of the world. No pressure right?”

Lightning Streak flashed a cocky smile. “If you're anything like me, which I think you are, you live for it. But,” she handed her armor to Rainbow, “it doesn't hurt to have some help.”

Rainbow took the chest plate from Lightning, feeling the weight of the steel in her hooves. Now that she held it, she was better able to study its surface. While still plain, there was a small crest on the center, a winged vertical lightning bolt flanked by curved olive branches. Just above the crest was lightly inscribed 'defensores caelum'.

“Hey that's looks like the Wonderbolts crest. And I'm pretty sure that's their motto too.”

“Well actually it was the Legacy Guard crest and motto first, but yes essentially. Which reminds me, I need you to do me a favor.”

Rainbow looked confused for a moment. What could she do for a ghost? “Uh, yeah sure. What is it?”

“I wouldn't be much of a Legacy Guard if I didn't keep a look out for the junior members, even if they do go by as Wonderbolts these days. Keep an eye out for Captain Spitfire. I've watched her come up the ranks. She's stubborn, proud and headstrong. Outside you three she's got the most potent aura I've seen. Would've made a heck of a flier in my time.”

“Heh, easier said than done,” Rainbow replied. “Even Soarin' has a hard time- wait, how do you know about Spit-”

The room began to shimmer. Rainbow could feel a tug at her aura, the familiar sensation of Soarin' and Scootaloo's own auras reaching for her.

“Looks like times about up Rainbow,” Lightning said, her own form beginning to fade with the world around her.

“Is there anything else I need to know? Anything at all that can help us stop the Archon?” Rainbow said quickly.

Lightning seated herself on the ground, thinking for a moment, even as the she continued to fade. She looked up to Rainbow. “You have to rely on each other. That was always our greatest strength, with my friends. Your link to the others is your greatest ally. And...” Lightning paused. She seemed conflicted.


“And I'm sorry Rainbow. Sorry for everything.”

Rainbow's eyes widened. She didn't know what to say. But she could feel the sincerity of Lightning Streak's words, her aura rippling throughout the room.

“No matter how far across time you and I may be, you're family. And I've put you in danger. But,” Lightning's trademark smirk pulled at her mouth, “I wouldn't have anypegasus else to stand in my hooves. I'm proud to call you my a part of my family.”

“Thanks, I mean, thank you,” Rainbow corrected. She grinned confidently at the ghost. “I won't let you down.”

The room shimmered more violently. Lightning was nearly gone.

Lightning Streak stood up, rigid to attention, rendering a quick wing salute. “Defensores caelum!” Lightning declared proudly. Her face softened. “Stars watch over you Rainbow Dash, and clear skies.”

Rainbow barely had time to salute back before Lightning Streak disappeared from view. But she could still feel the ghost's aura around her.

And one more thing, Lightning's voice echoed in her head. She could almost feel the cocky grin of the ghost. Buck 'em up.

The world was enveloped in a bright white light, just as Rainbow felt Soarin' and Scootaloo's aura's reach her.

The light faded. Rainbow lowered her wing from her eyes. Her eyes had still not adjusted, but she could tell that she was no longer within the twilight that filled Lightning's world. Several seconds later she scanned the room around her.

“What the?” Rainbow remarked, gaping around her. “Where am I?”

The room looked nothing like it had before. Instead of an ancient barracks in the depths of the citadel, she was in another office. In fact it seemed as if she were in one of the citadel's towers, if the view from the windows were anything to go by. Gone were the bunks and racks of ancient weaponry. In their place were paintings, numerous awards and decorations that lined the walls. A desk was on one side of the room. A nameplate with 'CPT SPITFIRE' etched on it rested on the desk.

“Spitfire's office? How did I get here?”

A moment of panic hit upon Rainbow as she looked for any of the armor stands that were noticeably absent from the office. But the weight upon her back quelled her fears.

Soarin' and Scootaloo burst into the office.

“Rainbow, there you are!” Soarin' exclaimed, panting.

“Yeah,” Scootaloo added. “What in the hay happened?”

Rainbow stared at the two for a moment, trying to think of a way to explain what had occurred. “Uh, well, I think I got sucked into Lightning Streak's ghost aura dimension. Or something.”

She had to admit, it was amusing to see the slow confusion on Scootaloo and Soarin's face's.

“Um, what?” Scootaloo said.

“You seemed like you were in a trance Rainbow,” Soarin' said. “One moment you were really, really still in LTC Pilus' office, and then you just took off like you were chasing something.”

“Well I was,” Rainbow said as a matter of fact. She proceeded to explain her meeting with Lightning Streak.

“And then I got her chest piece, see?” Rainbow held the piece of armor in front of herself proudly. “Sorry Soarin', I win this round,” she said sticking her tongue out at the Wonderbolt.

“Well I think it's safe to say you had an unfair advantage by way of a ghost.”

Scootaloo snickered. “He's got a point.”

Rainbow's face contorted into a visage of disbelief like somepegasus had cheaply stolen away her victory. “Now wait a min-”

“At any rate I'm glad you found the armor quickly,” Soarin' cut her off, “because we've got trouble.

All playfulness left the mare. “The Tempest Guard?” Rainbow guessed. She started to shoulder the armor. It wouldn't stay easily on her back so she began to undue the straps at the sides. “Here Scoots, help me out with this.”

“Yes, but there's more. While we were trying to keep up with you I caught a glimpse of some of the Tempest Guards just strolling right up to the Senate like they owned the place.”

Rainbow fed her forehooves through the chest place, feeling the padded interior fit snugly against her chest. The back portion of the armor rested midway down her back and around her barrel, tightening as Scootaloo pulled at the straps between the front and back.

Rainbow had expected to feel some kind of surge in her aura, but instead there was only a gentle simmer, and the faint echo of Lightning's presence. The only thing that seemed to stand out was the armor's incredible lightness.

“That's not good...” Rainbow trailed off, “do you think the Archon's there?”

“If I were him, the Senate would be my first target,” Soarin' stated. “But its gets worse. I found out what happened to the rest of the Wonderbolts.”

Oh no, Rainbow thought. Please don't let them be dead. Please.

“They're not dead Rainbow,” Scootaloo said dryly.

“But they could be soon,” Soarin' added darkly. “I saw several tactical squads shadowing the Tempest Guard from the rooftops. From what I could tell it looked like a hoof picked hit team.”

Rainbow's eyes widened. “They're going to try to take out the Archon at the Senate?” On instinct her wings shot open, lifting her into air. “We've got to stop them!”

“Follow me,” Soarin' said quickly, darting for the window. He thrust the window doors open, and leaped into the air.

Rainbow shot through the window, Scootaloo speeding alongside her. “Scootaloo, whatever you do stick cl-”

“You guys are supposed to stay close to me, remember?”

Rainbow was about to retort, but the echo of Lightning's words cut her off.

“You have to rely on each other. That was always our greatest strength, with my friends. Your link to the others is your greatest ally.”

Rainbow smirked, feeling Lightning's echo through her armor. “How about we stick close to each other?”

Scootaloo seemed to think for a moment, then nodded.

Rainbow breathed a little bit easier. But they weren't out of the squall yet. Rather they seemed to be heading toward it.

The large and imposing Cloudsdale Senate chamber loomed ahead. Rainbow set her jaw, doing her best to mentally prepare herself.

I hope we're not too late.

Author's Note:

Hello all!

It has been quite a while, I'm sad to say. But I'm back with another chapter. Once again I severely underestimated how much I would end up writing for only a few bullet notes, so I didn't get nearly as far as I wanted and left you guys on a cliff hanger. Aren't I awesome?

I was really happy to finally flesh out the Cloudsdale pegasi. Up till now we've only had the Wonderbolts and Tempest Guard to show the distrust of the Royals, but now we finally get to see it on a grand scale. And I always love my world building, even if it does more than likely drag things out a bit (read: a lot).

Next chapter is going to be a rumble. Think Palpatine vs. Yoda in the Senate Chamber.

As always, please feel free to leave any critiques, I'm always trying to improve. And thanks for reading.

Until next chapter,