• Published 25th May 2018
  • 2,221 Views, 969 Comments

Little Consequences - Skijarama

Princess Rainbow Dash and her friends have found themselves in the newly restored Crystal Empire, and now struggle against the forces of Queen Chrysalis and the enigmatic King Sombra in an effort to reclaim Canterlot and save Equestria.

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A Cold Wind Stirs

Soon, everypony was gathered in the war room with only a few notable exceptions. Twilight scanned the room from her side of the table, taking stock of each of the assembled ponies. Rarity and Fluttershy were talking amongst themselves on their end, with Wind Whisper and Spike anxiously standing next to them and keeping quiet. Applejack and Pinkie Pie were similarly gathered off to the left, with Applejack looking thoughtful and Pinkie Pie quietly bobbing up and down where she stood.

Rainbow Dash and Starlight Glimmer were still both missing. The former was, presumably, off in the archives grabbing whatever it is she had said she needed, while Starlight… Twilight had been unable to find her when she looked, and she cringed when she remembered the unicorn’s earlier outburst. “What if she ran off…?” she thought to herself.

Any further ruminations on the subject were abruptly cut short when the entrance to the room was thrown open with a loud slam, and Rainbow Dash came rocketing in to hover in the air over the table. Her abrupt and loud entrance drew various exclamations of surprise from those gathered, but she didn’t miss a beat. She had her forelegs held out in front of her, carefully balancing a large stack of scrolls, which she then carefully set down on the table before touching down gracefully next to Twilight. She scanned the room once before giving Twilight a questioning glance. “Yo, Twilight. Where’s Starlight?”

Twilight’s ears drooped slightly, and she shook her head. “I’m sorry, Rainbow. I looked, but I couldn’t find her,” she apologized before looking at the stack of scrolls. “What’s all of this?”

Rainbow frowned in disappointment on learning of Starlight's absence but didn’t let it get her down. Instead, she turned around to face everyone else. They all looked back at her expectantly, and for the briefest of moments, she looked like she was about to turn tail and run. Twilight saw her posture tense and gave her a reassuring nudge with her elbow, which seemed to be enough to help her get her focus back. Rainbow cleared her throat and began. “Everypony… girls… I know I’ve let you all down a lot recently. Leading you all to Manehattan on a wild goose chase, the incident on the train, and the whole thing with Sombra... No amount of apologizing can really make up for the stuff I’ve done wrong, can it?”

Applejack spoke up, adjusting her hat on her head and leveling a hard look at Rainbow. “Bein’ sorry is well and good, but it don’t fix nothin’ if you don’t act on it. That’s what Ah believe, anyhow,” she stated plainly, and Rarity nodded along in agreement.

“Yes, while I wouldn’t word it quite like that, the sentiment holds true in any circumstance. You need to be willing to make up for your mistakes,” she echoed with an encouraging look of her own.

Pinkie Pie bounced in place a few times, a big grin spreading on her face. “And I just know you’ll make it up to us! You’re Rainbow Dash! You’re the pony who represents loyalty, and I don’t think it would have picked you if you were gonna let them down!”

“Mhmm. We all believe in you, Rainbow Dash,” Fluttershy added in with a smile of her own. “And I know you’ll make us all proud.”

Spike then pulled himself up onto the surface of the table and strolled around past the small mountain of scrolls. Coming to a stop in front of Rainbow Dash, he looked into her eyes for a moment before playfully punching her in the shoulder. “You’re made of tough stuff, Rainbow. Stop being pouty and start being awesome again! We’re waiting on ya, here!”

Wind Whisper, for her part, chose to remain quiet and shift closer to Fluttershy. She relaxed somewhat when the yellow pegasus draped a wing over her shoulders and wrapped one of her hooves around Fluttershy’s for security.

Rainbow looked at all of her friends that had just vouched for her, and took as much comfort and motivation as she could. Despite those lingering whispers of doubt and hopelessness in the back of her mind, she put on a big grin and pressed forward. “Well, if you all believe I can do something to make it up to you, then I don’t plan to disappoint! Not this time!” with a flourish, she pulled out the longest and largest of the scrolls from the pile and unrolled it. Spike got out of her way as she did so, hopping down from the table to stand next to Twilight and give her an enormous grin.

“What did you say to her?” he asked in a happy whisper.

Twilight smiled down at him before giving him a nuzzle on the top of his head. Then her eyes shifted to look into the back of Rainbow’s head. “I reminded her of a lesson she taught me one… a long time ago...” was her similarly hushed response, lined with nostalgia and fondness.

In short order, Rainbow finished unrolling the scroll to reveal it was a massive and very detailed map of the Crystal Empire and the outlying hills and farmlands. She stared down at it for a moment, then back up at her friends. “Queen Chrysalis and the Changelings are coming for us. They have numbers, power, coordination and trickery on their side. Looking at how things are set up, we don’t stand a chance of winning as we are now,” she began in a serious voice, like a military commander speaking to their troops. “So we aren’t going to try to eek out a victory, per se.”

“We’re not?!” Applejack asked incredulously slapping a hoof on the table. “RD, Ah thought you had a plan!

“I do,” Rainbow shot back with her nostrils flaring. “Lemme finish, cowgirl.”

Applejack retracted her hoof with an apologetic, but still skeptical look on her face. Rainbow then glanced around at everypony else to see if she would be interrupted again.

Satisfied that she wouldn’t, she continued. “Now look; we can’t win like we are. But we aren’t the only ones fighting here, remember? The Wonderbolts, their reserves, a large detachment of soldiers from Cloudsdale, Manehattan and other cities, not to mention the Royal Guard Reservists in those cities, are being sent into Canterlot to rescue the princesses and get the Elements of Harmony back. Thorax and Pharynx are gonna be linking up with them to help speed things along. We have King Sombra hanging out in the snowy wastelands outside the Empire, and he’ll be slowing the Changelings down a LOT. But he won’t be able to stop Chrysalis, I have a feeling. We need to prepare to defend ourselves, but we shouldn’t focus on trying to defeat the changelings. Instead, we’re going to slow them down, hold them back, and keep them from reaching us for as long as possible.”

Fluttershy shrunk back slightly, clearly distraught by Rainbow’s tone. “Uhm… how are we going to do that?” she asked quietly.

Rainbow smirked confidently and tapped her hoof on a spot of the map where snow was visible. “By using the snow against them.”

Twilight’s eyes widened as she realized just what Rainbow was suggesting. “Snow!” she exclaimed, springing up to Rainbow’s side to look at the map as well. “Snow is made up of frozen water! Melting water creates steam,”

“Which creates clouds,” Rainbow affirmed, her smirk growing. “They’ll be pushing through the Frozen North, a big and dangerous primal zone, to get here. Well, we’re going to make sure that the cold wind doesn’t stop at the edges of the empire. I’m thinking dense, thick storm clouds full of lightning and snow, rain and hail, all ready to be set free on the swarm at a moment's notice and peppered throughout the city like landmines. I’m thinking of a thick mist over and inside the city to hinder visibility and coordination. Plus, we’ll need Twilight and Starlight to conjure a barrier to hold them back.”

Rarity coughed into her hoof, interrupting Rainbow’s explanations to ask a question. “Pardon me, Rainbow, but didn’t you say that Chrysalis could punch right through the barrier? You dismissed the idea because it might get them… er… hurt.”

“It might kill them,” Rainbow clarified grimly, glancing over at Twilight with a flicker of dread in her eyes. She saw the steely resolve in Twilight’s own eyes, and took what comfort she could from that before continuing. “...But Starlight said that that is the worst case scenario, and we gotta try, at least. Who knows? Maybe Sombra will weaken her enough that the barrier can actually stall her. We’re fighting for time here and every second counts.”

Twilight’s brow furrowed as her eyes studied the map, taking into account all of the homes in the snowflake-patterned streets. “Well, in the event that she or her drones manage to penetrate the shield, we’d need to find a way to keep the civilian population safe. They still have amnesia and won’t be able to defend themselves very well.”

“We could bring them all inside,” Pinkie Pie suggested, trotting up to look at the map as well. “Ooh! We could make it into a giant ‘Find the Crystal Heart Sleepover’ party!”

Spike glanced at Pinkie curiously from Twilight’s side. “Uh… but the Crystal Heart’s off the table, isn’t it?” he asked, glancing up at Rainbow Dash.

The pegasus in question visibly winced, her ears splaying back at the memory. “Y-yeah… for us, at least. But I was signing on behalf of Equestria, not the Empire. It’s possible the contract doesn’t extend to them.”

“It’s worth a shot, if nothin’ else,” Applejack chipped in, also studying the map. She shifted her hat a bit and glanced up at Rainbow Dash again. “So… What do we do if Chrysalis manages to get inside? Ah assume ya have a plan?”

Rainbow stiffened and fell silent, her blood running colds. All eyes were on her, making her painfully aware of just how much she stood to lose… but also how much she stood to defend. She took a deep breath to calm her nerves before she finally spoke up. “W-well… kinda.”

“Kinda?” Twilight parroted, turning to face Rainbow directly. “What does that mean? Did you not think this all the way through?”

Rainbow sighed, closing her eyes. “Look… none of us are fighters with the exceptions of you, Starlight and I,” she replied solemnly before opening her eyes. “Most of us are just common ponies who happen to have the special power to shoot instant win rainbow lasers from pretty accessories. But until said accessories get here, we’re gonna be sitting ducks in a straight fight.”

Fluttershy’s eyes snapped wide open, and a hoof flew up to cover her mouth. The sound of her horrified gasp drew the attention of everypony present. With a wince, she swallowed down the lump in her throat. “Rainbow Dash... You’re not suggesting that you three fight her, are you?”

Now with that possibility looming over them, all eyes again turned to look at Rainbow Dash expectantly. She lowered her head and shook her head again. “...No. Twilight and Starlight have to focus on the spell… It’s gonna have to be only me.”

Collectively, everypony present spoke up with a shout. “WHAT?!”

“NO!” Twilight all but screamed, stepping right up to Rainbow Dash and jabbing her in the chest with a hoof. “No, you don’t! You are not going to face her all on your own! She’ll kill you!”

“No, she won’t!” Rainbow rebuffed, trying to sound strong and brave despite the regret and terror burning in the core of her chest. “She can’t afford to and she knows it! She’s trying to capture us. She can’t make much use of a harvest if she kills the crops before they can feed her, right? She’ll stick me in a cocoon at worst.”

“It’s stupid,” Applejack chipped in, circling around closer to Rainbow as well with a hard glare of disapproval. “Whether or not she kills ya don’t matter if she still takes ya out of the picture! We can’t use the elements without all six of us!”

“Well, when Celestia, Luna, and the Elements get here, by all means, set me free,” Rainbow countered with her wings flaring open. Applejack took a step back at the display, making Rainbow wince and fold her wings back up to her side. After a moment, she continued. “I can fly faster than the speed of sound, you guys, and I’m an athlete. If I have the cover of a thick mist and a bunch of well-placed cloud traps, I might be able to hold her off long enough to make sure the elements can get here on time.”

“No, no, I won’t let you!” Twilight denied fiercely with another shake of her head. Tears were in her eyes. “It’s too dangerous! I’m not losing you!”

Rainbow withered on seeing a tear roll down Twilight’s cheek. She reached out and slowly drew the other mare into a tight embrace, one which she weakly returned. As the two shared each other’s presence, Rainbow looked past her at all of the others. “Look… I know it’s not really a good plan, but it’s all we can do. We’re fighting for time, and this is the best way to get more of it.”

Pinkie Pie stepped forward, her own ears drooping. “Dashie… are you sure?” she asked in a shockingly calm and solemn tone, her mane deflating just a little bit.

Rainbow nodded. “Positive. I have to keep you all safe. I’m the last Princess standing, and It’s my job to protect Equestria and its ponies no matter the cost,” she replied simply before gingerly prying Twilight off of her. “I couldn’t live with myself if I let you get hurt…” she whispered once they were looking into each other’s eyes.

Whether or not she was talking to Twilight or the whole room, it didn’t really matter.

Her mind was made up.

Several seconds passed in a heavy silence before, without warning, Wind Whisper hopped up onto the table from Fluttershy’s side. “What do you want us to do?” she asked, surprising everyone.

Spike looked over at Wind Whisper again with a raised eyebrow. “Uh, Wind, I think you and I are probably just gonna sit this one out. Not much we can do.”

“Don’t sell yourself short, kids,” Rainbow commented with a small grin appearing on her face. She gave Twilight one last reassuring pat on the shoulder before she stood tall and approached the table. “We’re all gonna have a part to play. Pinkie Pie, I need you and Applejack to get as many Crystal Ponies as possible to help us gather up snow and bring it into the Empire. We’re gonna need a lot if we’re gonna make a storm worth anything.”

“If we make it a contest to see who can get the most, they’ll work extra hard to get as much as possible!” Pinkie Pie chirped, some of her enthusiasm, slipping back into her voice. Applejack nodded in slight agreement with that but chose to remain quiet.

Rainbow turned to face Spike. “Spike, you and Twilight are going to keep things organized and on-task. Do a checklist if you gotta,” as she said those words, she could just feel Twilight managing to crack a smile behind her. “And you can use your fire breath to melt the snow down into steam.”

“What about me?” Fluttershy asked, shifting slightly on her hooves. “I want to help, too…”

“You’re on first aid duty,” Rainbow instructed with a nod. “This is gonna be kinda labor intensive. If there are any accidents, any whatsoever, and somepony gets hurt, I need you to treat them.”

“And me?” Wind asked eagerly, taking a few steps forward. “Thorax is doing his part, I wanna do mine! Give me a job!”

Rainbow chuckled quietly, finding Wind’s enthusiasm not only adorable but contagious. “You can help Fluttershy with first aid work. You can be her assistant.”

Wind glanced over at Fluttershy, who gave a warm smile and nod. With that decided, the green thestral jumped back over to stand by her side and gave Rainbow a big smile. “I won’t let you down!”

“I know you won’t, squirt,” Rainbow acknowledged before turning to Rarity. “As for you, Rares, you can use your magic to direct the steam into something we can use to store it. I’ll condense it all down into clouds and mist, but then I’ll need Starlight or Twilight to help me add the properties we’ll need. Electricity, ice, snow, etcetera.”

“Not exactly the most ladylike of jobs…” Rarity commented with a pout before standing tall and holding her head up high. “But desperate times call for desperate measures. I won’t let you down, Rainbow Dash, you have my word.”

“Okay… is there anything else?” Twilight asked, her voice still sounding uneasy at the prospect of Rainbow facing Chrysalis alone. “Anything at all?”

Rainbow shook her head, turning to Twilight and draping a comforting wing over her back. “Nope, not really. That’s what I got.”

Applejack managed a confident smile of her own. “Well, it sounds like a good enough plan for now. When do we get started?”

Rainbow looked at the farmer and smirked. “Right now. The swarm is coming and we’ve got no time to lose! Let’s do this thing, ponies!” she announced loudly, drawing cheers from everypony else. They were about to turn and head out when they all caught sight of something they hadn’t noticed during the briefing.

Starlight Glimmer stood in the open doorway, watching them all with an unreadable expression. Everything fell into a tense silence, and the tension only grew when Rainbow and Starlight locked gazes. Feeling her mouth suddenly go dry, Rainbow licked her lips and shuffled around the table until she was right in front of her. “...Starlight,” she greeted quietly.

“Rainbow,” Starlight responded in a cold, unfeeling voice. Several more seconds passed them by before Starlight stepped forward and brushed past Rainbow to look at the map. She studied in for a little while before letting a resigned sigh slip past her lips. “I gotta hand it to you, you’re putting in a lot of effort to put things right…” she mused before flashing a more solemn look in Rainbow’s direction. “...I really don’t know what to make of you. You do horrible things, try to make them better, but on the way you make more mistakes...”

Rainbow twitched and let her eyes fall to look at the floor. After a moment, though, she puffed herself back up and looked squarely into Starlight’s eyes. “I don’t need you to like me, Starlight.”

Starlight’s expression changed into one of surprise. “Huh?”

“I don’t need you to agree with my decisions,” Rainbow continued, unphased by her surprise. She slowly stepped forward until she was eye-to-eye with the lilac unicorn she had once been so afraid of. “All I need you to do, Starlight, is your part. Help us win this. When all of this is done, you can go home and never have to see me or my friends again. But right now...” she lifted a hoof and gently rested it on Starlight’s shoulder. “Right now, we need to work together. All of us.”

Starlight let those words sink in for a moment. She looked down at the floor, her shifting eyes betraying the chaos in her mind. She screwed her eyes shut and took a deep breath before her expression hardened. She opened her eyes and looked back into Rainbow’s again. “Alright… fine. I signed on to help you anyways,” she relented, briefly looking in Twilight’s direction. “Might as well see it through?”

Rainbow grinned. “Right…” she then looked up past Starlight at all of her other friends. With a quick flap of her wings, she lifted into the air and looked on at all of them. “What are we waiting around for?! We’ve got a storm to make!”

With those words, the cheers from before sprang up again, and this time, Starlight joined in the chorus. As one, the group of eight ponies and one dragon galloped (or flew) out of the war room and for the exit of the Crystal Palace.

Queen Chrysalis eyed the seemingly endless expanse of snow that stretched out before her with a critical eye, analyzing the barren, near lifeless terrain for any signs of King Sombra. Her swarm was amassed behind her, some standing on and smothering the slopes of the mountain, while yet other darkened the skies overhead. The deep buzzing sound of their insect-like wings pummeling the air was so intense that any creatures unfortunate enough to be nearby could feel the vibrations in their chest.

As she studied the frozen north, Chrysalis caught sight of something. Far, far in the distance to the north, she could see a mass of wild snow clouds crawling across the sky towards her and her drones. She could already feel the cold wind from the coming storm biting at her chitin, rushing through the holes in her legs and whistling through her wings. She briefly shivered against the cold, before she saw something else.

Even farther away, almost eclipsed by the distant haze of a raging blizzard, she could just see the faintest of pink glow. It was the light of a distant, but enormous, haze of pure and unconditional love hanging in the air over the city of crystals her scouts had told her about. The swarm was still a few days out, but now that she could see where they were going, she couldn’t help herself. She licked her lips and grinned with sadistic hunger.

The cold wind grew stronger and colder.

It was almost time.

Author's Note:

The lines have been drawn,
and the pieces are in place.
The end approaches...

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