• Published 11th Jan 2019
  • 961 Views, 80 Comments

Little Fragments - Skijarama

When a young Rainbow Dash spotted a mysterious alicorn and unicorn from the future, history was changed.

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Orphan Rainbow: Escape

One day before the start of Little Glimpses…

Princess Celestia gave a smile of approval as she stepped into the entrance lobby of Sky Dreamer’s Orphanage. Her eyes roved over the decorated walls and the numerous drawings and photos of the foals, searching for one in particular. As her eyes passed over the others foals, while she silently offered her sincerest wish that they’d find good, loving homes soon.

Her attention was torn away from the walls by a very unprofessional squawking sound that emanated from her right. Turning, she spotted a dull purple mare with a dark cranberry colored mane and tail looking back at her with wide, disbelieving green eyes. She was seated behind a simple desk and appeared to have just been in the middle of going over some papers when she finally noticed the new arrival.

Celestia gave the receptionist a warm smile before stepping up to the counter and giving a respectful nod of her head. “Hello. I am interested in adopting a foal. May you point me in the direction of who I should speak to about that?” she asked in a gentle and friendly voice.

The receptionist did not seem comforted by the alicorn’s tone. Her brain finally caught up with her eyes, and she suddenly dropped into a deep, deep bow, causing her to disappear behind the desk. “U-u-uh, Y-your Majesty! Wh-what a surprise! I, uh, that is to say, w-we were not-” she began to stammer out in a fearful torrent, to which Celestia only gave a gentle giggle. The sound of amusement cut the mare’s ramblings short, and she anxiously peered up at Celestia.

“Do not be concerned, my little pony. I am not here as your ruler, but merely as another pony. My reasons for being here are entirely my own and have no association with my royal duties. Please, speak to me as you would anypony else,” she assured, her soothing voice finally bringing the receptionist’s terrified trembles to an end.

“Y-yes, of course, my apologies…” the receptionist said before standing back up and straightening her posture. She put on her best friendly smile, though despite Celestia’s assurances, it was perhaps a bit too big to be entirely genuine. “W-well, if you’re here looking to adopt, there are several steps that we would typically need to go through. Background checks and interviews, that sort of thing…

“But, considering who I’m speaking to, I don’t think such measures are necessary. So, you’ll want to speak with Sky Dreamer herself. I can send for her and she’ll be with you shortly, if, uh…” her smile became a touched more strained, and one of her eyes began to twitch. “I-if you don’t mind waiting for a few minutes?”

Celestia just maintained her smile. “That will be no trouble at all. I’ll wait as long as I have to. No need to rush.”

The receptionist gave a shaky nod before turning and heading for one of the doors leading deeper into the orphanage at a brisk trot. “Alright, I’ll go get her. Please wait here,” she said before swiftly departing the room and disappearing deeper into the halls. Her steady pace could be heard accelerating to a frantic gallop once she was out of sight, and Celestia couldn’t help but roll her eyes.

Once the hoof falls faded away, Celestia went back to searching the walls for any sign of the pony she was seeking. Eventually, she found it, tucked near her eye level against the leftmost wall of the room amidst a myriad of others.

It was a photograph depicting a cyan pegasus with deep pink eyes and a messy mane and tail that spanned all the colors of a rainbow. The photo showed her sitting near a group of other foals in what appeared to be a playroom, offering a smile to the camera that Celestia could already tell was as fake and forced as they came.

There was misery in those eyes. A grief and pain which the alicorn could empathize with only all too well. Even through the somewhat low-quality copy of the picture, it was as clear as day. Celestia’s expression darkened with sympathy while her eyes trailed down to the line of text written on the white frame around the picture. ‘Rainbow Dash.’

“Your Highness!” A new, elderly voice called out, drawing Celestia’s attention. She turned and caught sight of an older pegasus mare with pale blue fur and a gray mane and tail trotting into the room, looking more than a little shocked at who she was seeing. “She wasn’t kidding…” she mumbled to herself.

Celestia gave another smile. “Hello. I presume you must be Sky Dreamer?” she asked professionally with another nod of her head.

Dreamer gave a respectful bow of her own. “Yes, that’s me. It is an incredible honor to meet you, Princess,” she said humbly before standing upright.

Celestia shook her head at the greeting. “Please, for this visit, I am just Celestia. No need for any formalities or titles today,” she lightly scolded.

Dreamer looked taken aback by the idea of treating her princess as just another mare, but nevertheless gave a slow nod. “Alright, if you insist. Well, Celestia, ahem, I was told that you’re here looking to adopt a foal?”

Celestia nodded. “Yes, I am. In fact, I already know who I’m interested in,” she acknowledged before turning and pointing at the photo of Rainbow Dash. Dreamer stepped forward to get a better look, squinting her old eyes at the photo.

Her smile gave way to a worried frown. “You’re interested in Rainbow?” she asked in surprise, leaning back from the wall and giving Celestia a questioning look.

Celestia’s expression became curious in return. “Yes, I am. There isn’t a problem with that, is there?”

Dreamer visibly paled and stepped back. “Oh, of c-course not! It’s just, uh, well…” she began in a nervous stutter before Celestia reached out and put a hoof on her shoulder to stop her.

She gave her a reassuring smile before withdrawing her hoof. “As I said, you don’t have to worry about my status during this visit. If there is a problem, then it is only fair that I know what it is.”

Dreamer took some comfort in those words then took a deep breath. She looked over at the photo, and a deep sympathy could be seen in her eyes. “Well, there isn’t so much a problem as… well… the little filly’s had a rough time,” she began slowly. “At this point, we’re pretty sure she’s developed full-on depression. She doesn't have the energy to do anything, she isn’t interested in any families who come to see her, she pushes away the other foals...”

Celestia frowned and looked at the floor. “I have heard of her situation, yes. I cannot say I blame her for being that way. The incident in Baltimare was a tragedy…” she said somberly before lifting her head again.

Dreamer sighed. “Yes… now, uh, Celestia,” her tone turned professional, and she looked right up into Celestia’s eyes. “There are a few questions I will need to ask you before you and Rainbow can speak with each other. If you’ll follow me to my office?”

“Of course. Lead the way,” Celestia agreed with a nod before falling into step behind Dreamer and leaving the lobby behind.

Rainbow did her best to drown out the chatting of the other fillies in the dorm room as she sat on her bed, looking out the window and at the cityscape beyond. Breakfast had been eaten already, and right now there was a gap in the orphanage schedule for the foals to just interact and do as they pleased. Within reason, of course.

She could just make out the voices of five other fillies somewhere behind her, chatting quietly amongst themselves, sometimes giggling as one told a joke or shared a funny thought. Normally, she would find it grating and obnoxious, but today she couldn’t be bothered enough to care. Her mind was preoccupied with other things.

Fluttershy’s family couldn’t take her in. The one family that Rainbow felt she could be happy with, one she already felt she was a part of, could not bring her into their home. She understood why, sure, but that did nothing to soothe the pain that had followed the revelation. It had been crushing at the moment, and since then, a similar weight had been on her shoulders at all times.

It was to a point where she couldn’t even find the energy to get out of bed in the mornings. One of the other fillies, usually Butter Blend, had to shake her and haul her out from under her sheets. She hadn’t thought it was possible, but the food here had started tasting even worse than usual. Actually, no… it’s not that it tasted worse, it’s that it had stopped having a taste.

She was so absorbed in thought that Rainbow almost didn’t notice when a small hoof gingerly rested itself on her shoulder. She blinked and sluggishly turned to look at whoever it was that had disturbed her. It was Butter Blend. There was a worried look on her face, and her posture was hesitant. “Rainbow Dash? Are you feeling alright?” she asked quietly.

Rainbow blinked, shook her head, and then went back to staring out the window without a word. There were a few moments of silence, and only then did Rainbow realize all of the other fillies had stopped talking.

“Leave her alone, Butter,” one of them called in a raspy voice. “You’re not gonna get anywhere.”

Butter glared back at the other filly before blowing a raspberry at her. “Hush, Sandpaper!” she bit before looking back at Rainbow. Her face softened considerably. “So… you’re not okay?”

Rainbow just let out a quiet breath, then shook her head again. “No…”

Butter sagged somewhat, looking away while she got her thoughts together. After a moment, she put her hoof on Rainbow’s shoulder again. “Well… we’re heading out to play some ball. I know you don’t really feel like it, but… I just want you to know that you can join us if you want.”

Rainbow’s eyes flicked back to look at Butter’s pleading face, and then past her at all of the other fillies. Their expressions were harder to read; they looked unsure, hopeful, hesitant, anxious. The whole range. After a few moments, Rainbow looked back at Butter and shrugged. “I might come down in a while…” she mumbled noncommittally.

Butter Blend shifted on her hooves, then nodded. “Alright…” With that, she backed away and followed the rest of the fillies as they left the room. The door silently swung closed, leaving Rainbow alone with her thoughts. She didn’t move for a long while, and she barely breathed. She didn’t like lying to Butter like that, but it would buy her a little bit more time, at least. A bit more time to make up her mind.

There was nothing left for her, here. She couldn’t have cared less about the staff or the other fillies, and she couldn’t stay with Fluttershy and her family. Aside from the fact that this was the only place where she had a roof over her head and food to eat, she had no reason whatsoever to stay.

So why should she?

Almost a minute passed, and her eyes flicked down to the front yard in front of the orphanage. There was nopony there. Rainbow’s eyes then went up to look at the cityscape and the open sky beyond. She noticed a few distant, fuzzy tips of mountains jutting up from the world below. After several more seconds of consideration, Rainbow made up her mind. She rose into a standing position and opened the window.

A cold breeze washed over her, and she felt a little bit of energy seep back into her muscles and mind. She opened her wings to let them catch the wind and gave a few stretches to loosen up her muscles. She briefly glanced over her shoulder at Butter’s bed and sighed. “Sorry, Butter…” she mumbled before bending her legs, ready for takeoff.

She froze when she heard hoof-steps by the door, and the knob starting to turn. It was now or never.

She kicked off of her bed and sailed out of the window as fast as her wings could take her, leaving the startled exclamation of whoever had come to the room behind as she sped off into the city.

Dreamer’s office was a cozy and friendly one. Celestia looked around and drank in the details while waiting for Rainbow to be brought in. There were numerous framed photos on the walls showing happy scenes of Dreamer interacting with foals, and paintings of beautiful landscape views. Accompanying these were old pieces of art made by foals she had once had in her care, including paintings of varying styles and skill levels, to wooden sculptures and makeshift toys.

The desk was decorated with numerous picture books, storybooks, and a few stuffed animals. Dreamer sat behind it, currently going over a sheet of parchment that was covered with the answers Celestia had given to Dreamer’s many questions.

The old mare chewed on her lip for a time before setting the parchment down and giving Celestia a questioning look. “Well, this one’s off the books, but I have one more question for you.”

Celestia perked up and returned her gaze to Dreamer. “I’m listening. What is it?”

Dreamer fidgeted with her hooves for a second, then sighed. “I know it’s not really my place to pry into your personal life, and the answers you’ve given are more than enough for me, but… why are you interested in Rainbow Dash, specifically?”

Celestia blinked and leaned back for a moment, mulling it over. Once she was satisfied with her reasoning, she smiled and met Dreamer’s gaze. “I heard about her after word of the tragedy spread to Canterlot, as I mentioned in the lobby. I learned about how her parents were taken away from her so suddenly, and I will admit, my curiosity was peaked. Something about her seemed familiar.

“After considering it, I remembered. She was the first pony in hundreds of years to fly fast enough to break the sound barrier and create a sonic rainboom. Somepony able to bring such an old legend to life at such a young age… imagine the potential she has… imagine the wonderful things somepony like that could achieve?”

Celestia closed her eyes, her expression turning somber. “And imagine how much of that potential would be lost if she were forced to grow up without a loving family. Without parents to guide and nurture her, to love and care for her, and teach her how to live her life to the fullest. I couldn’t stand the thought of somepony so special losing all of that because of an accident beyond her control…

“But more than all of that, I have been desiring a foal for quite some time,” she continued before opening her eyes. “But finding a lover is, as I am sure you can imagine, more than challenging for somepony like me. The vast majority would love me for my status, rather than for me.”

Dreamer shrugged her shoulders. “I wouldn’t be so bold as to assume, but I see what you mean.”

Celestia shrugged as well. “Regardless, there are too many orphans in the world. So I am more than willing to do my part and give a home to a foal who otherwise would have none. And that foal is Rainbow Dash.”

As if on cue, the door swung open. However, instead of a small pegasus filly, there was the cranberry maned mare from before. She staggered in, gasping heavily as if she had just run a marathon. “D-dreamer! It’s Dash!” she managed to say between her gasps.

Celestia and Dreamer both stood, the latter cantering from around her desk to try and give the other mare some comfort. “What? What happened? Where is Rainbow?”

“She… She’s g-gone!” The mare stated before looking down and quivering under Celestia’s stare.

The room went still.

“What? What do you mean, gone?!” Dreamer asked, her voice shocked and fearful.

“She… guh…” The mare took in one more deep breath before continuing. “She flew out her window. I didn’t have a chance to call out to her, and she disappeared into the city. She’s way too fast. There is no way I could keep up if I went after her.”

Celestia’s frown deepened and she stepped forward. “What direction was she going?” she asked seriously. “Do you have any idea where she was heading?”

The receptionist cowered back. “I don’t know for sure. She went straight out from the front of the orphanage, so somewhere to the west. But... I think she was just running away.”

Dreamer’s ears drooped and she looked up at Celestia. “I… I’m so sorry, Celestia. I-”

“It isn’t your fault,” Celestia cut her off gently, though her face was intense and serious. “I’ll go look for her.”

“Your Highness?”

“I came all this way to meet Rainbow Dash, hoping to take her in,” Celestia said calmly before looking into Dreamer’s eyes with conviction. “And now she has gone missing. I will not sit idly by and allow one of my subjects, a mere filly, to lose herself in the world all on her own.”

With that, Celestia’s horn lit up with a golden light, and she vanished from the room in a brilliant flash, leaving Dreamer and her receptionist to wonder what they were to do next.

It felt amazing to let loose and fly like this again. Rainbow couldn’t help but grin as she shot through the air at such a high speed that all who saw her only caught a brief glimpse of a prismatic blur. The air whipped at her face and swept back her mane, the wind roared in her ears, and the world blurred as she rocketed by. She couldn’t help but let out a wild laugh at the rush of speed that she had missed so much.

After maybe a minute, she determined she had put enough distance between herself and the orphanage to slow down and get her plan together. She slowed her flight to a leisurely pace and looked down at the streets below, scanning them for a secluded spot to hunker down and think. She found it in the form of an isolated back alley and quickly shot down for a landing.

Her hooves touched down gracefully, while the gusts generated by her wing flaps kicked up a small ring of dust around her. She took in a deep breath, then spun in a slow circle to take in her surroundings in detail.

It was a pretty dimly lit alley, as the buildings around it sloped inwards and sat close together, blocking most of the sunlight. There were also several dumpsters full of trash and recyclables, that filled the air with a thick stench. The high-altitude breeze whistle as it passed between the buildings, which appeared to be more than a little rundown. An unpleasant odor swam up Rainbow’s nostrils, making her cringe and her ears splayed back.

Additionally, the cloud surface of the ground was rough and uneven, seeming to have gone without proper maintenance for a long time. A few tufts were actually starting to come loose. Rainbow frowned while absently stomping one such tuft back into place. “Huh… somepony let this alley go a bit,” she grumbled to herself before slinking deeper inside and hiding behind one of the dumpsters.

“Alright, I’m away from the orphanage… now what?” she thought to herself. “Where am I headed…?”

Several minutes ticked by as she ran through the options. Sadly, as she gave the matter more thought, it became more and more apparent that she hadn't really thought this plan through. She had no destination in mind, no end goal. She just wanted to get away from the orphanage.

“Maybe, if I go to the edge of the city, I can look for a town or something on the surface and hide out there...” she mused, thinking it over. Cloudsdale was a traveling city, after all, and it visited many locations in every corner of Equestria in its effort to ensure the cycle of the seasons was on schedule. With its current altitude, if there were any settlements below, Rainbow would be able to see them and make the flight with little to no problems.

Of course, there was the possibility that Cloudsdale was hovering over empty wilderness right now… Rainbow frowned at that thought, then dismissed it with a shake of her head. “One thing at a time, Dash. Let’s just get to the edge of the city and scope it out first.”

With that decided, she stood back up and emerged from behind the dumpster.

“Ah, there you are,” a voice that Rainbow did not recognize said to her left. Startled, she spun on her hooves and flared her wings open aggressively. She was ready to fly away or defend herself in case it was some kind of back-alley thug or something.

To her immense shock, it was possibly worse than some crook.

Standing there, lit from behind by the sunlight in the street, was none other than Princess Celestia. She stood tall and regally, and looked down at Rainbow with an analytical look on her face. That scrutiny blossomed into a warm and friendly smile after a few seconds. “You know, you’re not the easiest pony to track. Your speed is incredible,” Celestia commended heartily.

Rainbow shifted back a few inches while beads of sweat began to form on her brow. “Why is Celestia here?!” she thought in a panic. “Why was she tracking me?!”

Celestia gave a reassuring smile before lowering herself down to the ground so she could look into Rainbow’s eyes better. “You are Rainbow Dash, yes? You look just like you did in the photo on the orphanage wall.”

Rainbow shifted back again, her ears drooping. Celestia had been at the orphanage, then. That meant she had come to bring Rainbow back. She was cornered, and she knew it. With nothing else for it, she drew herself up and stood tall while puffing up her chest. “My p-parents told me not to talk to strangers,” she stated with as much force as she could muster.

Celestia let out a quiet titter of amusement. “And that is a good lesson to learn. But I’m not a stranger, am I? You know who I am,” she pointed out gently once her mirth died down. “Don’t worry. I’m not here to hurt you in any way. I just want to talk.”

Rainbow did not look at all comforted, and her bravado quickly died again. “Um… about what?”

Celestia’s smile fell away, replaced with a frown of concern. “About you, mainly. And why you’re running away from the orphanage,” she stated in a slightly more serious tone. She stood up tall and looked around, subtly taking note of how Rainbow’s appearance became that much more uneasy. “You do realize what part of Cloudsdale you’re in, right?”


“As peaceful and orderly as this city may be, it is not without a seedier side. And you’ve taken shelter in an alley in the middle of one of the shadiest parts of town. What if there were somepony here who wanted to hurt you? What if there was a foal napper? Or a creep? What if you bumped into somepony like that?”

“Hey, I can handle myself!” Rainbow snapped before shaking her head and looking around again. As confident as she was in that assessment, she could not ignore the new feeling of unease that was forming in her chest. The disrepair of the buildings and alley had gained a whole new meaning for her.

Celestia frowned, then turned to look back and forth across the street beyond the alley. “I am sure, but all the same. Please come with me, I’ll lead you back to the-”

Rainbow saw her chance when Celestia turned her back, and she took it. Her wings snapped open and gave a mighty flap, sending her rocketing into the sky at high speeds. She rotated in the air to fly for the edge of the city, then gave her wings another powerful flap.

Only for her to stay right where she was, a golden glow enveloping her body and making her skin tingle.

Her eyes widened, and she took in a shuddering gasp. The world flickered and began to shift and distort while her chest tightened. Her breath started to come in desperate, heaving gasps, while her heart began to beat frantically, so much that it was all she could hear.

Then, a new sound filled her skull as her senses were overwhelmed. She could hear deafening metal clangs that shook her to her core and knocked her clenched teeth together. she could feel the stone shaking beneath her hooves as bits of stray rock and dirt pummeled her body from all sides. She could taste the dust in her mouth and feel the tears rolling down her face. She saw the fallen crane, and the two bodies pinned underneath…

“No, stop! LET GO! PUT ME DOWN!” She screamed at the top of her lungs as the sensations all came flooding back. It was as if she was reliving the moment all over again. It was all so vivid, as vivid and terrifying as when it had first happened. She turned and thrashed as tears spilled down her cheeks, and her vision flickered between watching her dead parents as she was dragged away in a blue aura, and the horrified look of an alabaster alicorn princess who held her in gold.

And then, just as quickly as it had started, it ended. The magic released its hold on Rainbow, and she slumped to the ground in a pitiful, shivering, and crying heap. She shuddered uncontrollably, looked up at Celestia, and quickly scooted back and away from her. Her eyes locked onto the princess with abject terror, a terror that only grew when her back soon hit a wall.

Try as she might, she could not back away any further. So she tried to make herself look as small as possible. “J-just… j-just go a-away…” she whimpered out before looking down, closing her eyes and covering her head with her hooves again. “Leave me alone…”

She sat there for a long, long while, occasionally looking up at the alicorn, who was now watching her with a look of unbounded guilt growing on her face. Every time Rainbow saw her, she shrank down and screwed her eyes shut again.

After a moment, Celestia’s horn lit up with more golden light, and the entire alleyway was encased in a shimmering dome of magic. That done, the alicorn slowly inched forwards. “Rainbow Dash…?” she ventured carefully as if to not spook a broken and terrified animal.

“Go away…” was Rainbow’s quiet croak of a reply.

Celestia continued forwards, one inch at a time. “Rainbow… I am so, so sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you, I swear. Are you okay?” she asked in as soft and soothing a voice as she could manage.

Rainbow looked up at Celestia incredulously. “Am I… Am I o-okay?” she asked through her tears, her voice still shaking. She stood back up, her head hanging low. “No… No, I’m not okay…”

Celestia slowly nodded. “I see… well… if you need to cry, shout, or anything, feel free. The dome over us is a bubble of silence. You can be as loud as you want, and nopony outside will be able to hear it.”

Rainbow glanced up at Celestia. She saw the look on her face, the worry, and the concern. The sympathy, and the understanding. It was the same look that Windy Whistles had given Rainbow whenever something happened at school that bummed her out or made her upset, or whenever she accidentally hurt herself when practicing her flying.

Rainbow looked down as memories began to invade her mind. Memories of a time before the incident, of when she still had a family. She remembered the unfiltered shouts of praise and encouragement both of her parents had given her when she had come home with a new cutie mark. She remembered her mother’s voice shushing her to sleep one day when she was really little, and she remembered playing ball with her father out in their yard.

All of these memories flooding freely through her mind was the last straw. Rainbow looked down at the ground, desperately trying to hold it all in. But the dam had broken, and there was no stopping the flood. She screwed her eyes shut, and with tears spilling down her cheeks, she began to cry. It was loud and unrestrained and would have been audible for many, many blocks, were it not for Celestia’s magic.

Rainbow didn’t even notice when Celestia gingerly lifted her up in her forelegs and held her close to her chest. By instinct, Rainbow wrapped her hooves around the alicorn’s neck while burying her face into her chest fur. She didn’t notice as the alicorn, still keeping the bubble of silence around them, lifted into the air with her wings and began to take them back towards the orphanage.

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