• Published 20th Apr 2020
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Disharmony: Gods Among Ponies - Mr-Astounding

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Rainbow Dash

Chapter 5: Rainbow Dash

Later that night, Twilight, Pinkamena, Little Strongheart, and Soarin had joined up with the Mane 4 and Princess Ember outside the Castle of Friendship. Sci-Twi, meanwhile, had elected to stay behind with Sweetie Belle to look after Storm Chaser, given that the Empire wasn’t aware that Rarity’s sister was alive and Rainbow’s alternate daughter was still a bit too young to fight.

Speaking of the loyal Pegasus, Rainbow Dash couldn’t help but give a low whistle as she gazed upon the castle that laid beyond the force field that had been erected around the place, taking note of how somehow in the course of five years it looked to be in worse condition then the Castle of the Two Sisters did after a thousand. “I know jewels and decorations are more of Rarity's thing, but this place has really seen better days,” she couldn’t help but remark even as Twilight went about disabling one of the gems that held the barrier in place.

Rarity could only nod in agreement. “I'll openly admit that refraining from giving this place a full restoration is going to be a challenge: how could Celestia do this!?”

The leader of the Lunar Republic could only give a disgruntled sigh in reply. “That's not all she did. She stripped me of my official title as Princess and outlawed the production of spell books and charms. Anypony suspected of helping me is under constant watch. In short, she’s gone out of her way to use me as an example of why choosing to defy her is frowned upon.”

Applejack shook her head in frustration. “Ah'm still having trouble wrapping mah head around the fact that Celestia would fall this far, even with what Sombra did.”

Pinkamena just sighed. “As much as I don't want to, I can sort of understand why and how she did. After all, in Celestia’s eyes, she destroyed Canterlot.”

Fluttershy quirked an eyebrow. “Could you, um, maybe expand upon that statement? I’m not sure I understand.”

Soarin nodded. “Not sure what his plan was in your world, but in our version of things, Sombra used a combination of Poison Joke and his own Dark Magic to trick Celestia into believing that she was fighting Tirek at his most powerful...but it was Luna.”

Needless to say, Princess Ember, like her other companions, was horrified at this revelation. “No…”

“Sombra had mystically linked the bomb’s trigger with Luna’s heartbeat,” Twilight went on to explain. “When the Princess of the Night died, Canterlot died with her. The only consolation is that some, like Spike, at least managed to make it to the hospital before they passed away. Others, like Pinkie Pie and Sweetie Belle, were able to survive the blast long term, but at a price.”

Here, Little Strongheart let out a frustrated sigh. “As much as I hate how she’s been handling things ever since, I can’t say I blame her for giving into her rage and killing Sombra. When Luna died, Celestia felt powerless, probably for the first time in her life.”

Fluttershy shook her head. “In the end, though, she let her fear get the best of her.”

Soarin nodded. “Regrettably, our Rainbow Dash died trying to explain that to her.”

Needless to say, said loyal pony wasn’t sure she liked the direction this conversation was going in, as evidenced by how she muttered out. “Alright, moving on.” That said, she couldn’t help but blink as the shield came down. “Hey, quick question: why did Celestia set up so much security here? I mean, she already trashed the place.”

“Would you take any chances with her?” Pinkamena asked with a teasing grin.

“Touche.”

Twilight then cleared her throat. “I need you, Rarity, Fluttershy, and Applejack to secure the entrance to the Map Chamber. That’s where I’ve stored the weapon we’re looking for.”

“Darling, you’re not coming with us?!” Rarity couldn’t help but ask.

“I need to activate some old leylines I have set up around the castle,” the Element of Magic declared. “Without those, accessing the weapon is...well, not impossible, but the process would be much more difficult. Besides, the castle will recognize you as the Element Bearers and thus you’ll have an easier time dealing with the traps Celestia set up.”

Here, Rainbow couldn’t help but suck in a breath. “Speaking of Element Bearers…”

“Don’t worry, Rainbow,” Soarin declared. “Celestia killed the Element of Loyalty’s Champion, not the Element itself. In time, a new Bearer will rise up, and we’ve already found a few potential candidates over the years. Even if we hadn’t, however, we’ve lasted five years without you, and I’d rather join my Rainbow in oblivion before I ever let your world lose you too.”

“Such a smooth talker,” Rainbow said with a smile and a blush. “It’s no wonder my counterpart fell in love with you...and Storm is certainly lucky to have a father like you.”

Soarin simply smirked in response. “Now who’s the smooth talker? ...but thanks: that means more than you’ll ever know.”

Applejack just snorted. “Five bits say that she and our Soarin get together when we get back.”

Rarity likewise chuckled. “Make it ten and throw in them not even needing the cider to bring their own Storm Chaser into existence.”

“I call Mare of Honor at the wedding!” Fluttershy yelled out, blushing as everypony else turned towards her. “I mean, if that’s okay.”

Needless to say, Rainbow found herself blushing up a storm. “Just...let’s just get this taken care of.”

As it turned out, Twilight had been right about the possibility of traps in the building, but a combination of the Element Bearer’s unique skills saw them easily overcoming them. The real challenge came when they entered the dining area, where they ran into a few individuals who had arrived to try and intercept the ones responsible for taking down the shield. A few familiar individuals, at that.

Applejack couldn’t help but groan upon seeing who it was that showed up. “You guys are working for Celestia now?!”

“Well, there aren’t any royal pensions involved, if that’s what you mean,” Solar Flim declared with a shrug even as he and his brother, Solar Flam, stood beside the Solar Diamond Dogs, Rover, Fido, and Spot.

“But there are certainly plenty of benefits,” Flam remarked. “I particularly like teaching ponies like you the pecking order.”

“So do I,” Rainbow said with a grin. “It goes you, the dirt, the worms inside of the dirt, that stuff in AJ’s outhouse, the Canterlot Nobles, then us. Any questions?”

“Um, yeah, I…” ...and that was as far as Solar Spot got before he and the other Diamond Dogs were kicked into a wall, courtesy of Rainbow Dash, knocking them out in the process.

The rainbow-haired Wonderbolt could only snort in amusement. “Enjoy the nap, you little…”

“Rainbow Dash!” Fluttershy yelled out.

“What? I was going to call them runts!” the shy Pegasus’ oldest friend said with a shrug.

Was...was that a Dragon Ball Z Abridged reference?

Yep.

...okay.

“She...she sounds just like her, brother,” Flam declared, a bit of nervousness seeping into his voice.

“Acts like her too, but it can’t be… can it?” Flim couldn’t help but ask, eyes wide as he too stares at a face that hadn’t been seen in this reality in four years.

“You mind if I take this one, girls?” Rainbow Dash asked as she approached the two con ponies. “I feel the need to introduce myself.”

“They’re all yours, Sugarcube,” AJ declared with a grin. As much as she would’ve enjoyed kicking the two brothers right where the sun didn’t shine, she knew deep down that having their keisters handed to them by the mirror image of a dead mare was just as humiliating, if not even more so...and judging by her friends’ expressions, they felt the same way.

Despite what one might think, Solar Flim and Flam were no slouches when it came to combat: spending time helping Celestia round up any rebellious factions tends to boost your abilities a la “trial by fire”...sometimes literally. Combined with their unicorn magic, the fact that they tended to work as a team, and how they never went anywhere without some sort of mechanical assistance nearby - in this case, a pair of net guns to which they often used to attempt and capture their opponents to bring back to Celestia - they certainly gave Rainbow a run for her…

Pfft, hahahaha!

Hahahaha!

Hahahaha!

...I’m sorry: I couldn’t keep a straight face.

Yeah: Dashie took them both out in ten seconds flat.

See? I told you that it was okay to inject a little humor every now and again.

That you did, Pinkie Pie. That you did. Anyways...

Rainbow Dash couldn’t help but let out a chuckle as she gazed upon her fallen opponents. “Say my name.”

“Ra...Ra...Rainbow Dash,” Flim and Flam whispered out in shock, awe, and perhaps a touch of fear before passing out.

“And don’t you forget it,” the Wonderbolt said with a grin as she left with her friends to regroup with Twilight and company.

Meanwhile, Lunar Blueblood, currently in the middle of a meeting with his Aunt, couldn’t help but quirk an eyebrow. “So, let me see if I'm following this correctly: you want me and my technicians to make a portable scanner, to help you and your forces better identify these duplicates.”

The Solar Empress simply nodded. “Exactly.” With that, she levitated a crystal over to him. “This holds a simulation of the aura signature I found on the duplicate Twilight we’re holding in the Canterlot dungeons.”

Blueblood simply took it with a shrug. “That’s helpful, though without a sample from our Twilight to compare it to, it’s still going to be a few weeks before I’ll have something you can actually use.”

Celestia gave a good-natured shrug. “You'll figure it out: you always do.”

Here, Lunar Blueblood couldn’t help but shake his head in amusement. “I’m just glad to be of assistance to Equestria,” he humbly declared, sharing a brief hug with his aunt as the two of them got up from where they were seated. “You sure you can’t stay for dinner? Pumpkin Bread’s serving that Manehattan-style pizza you love so much.”

Celestia just gave an amused snort as she patted her nephew on the back with affection. “Maybe next time.” With that, she broke the embrace and headed to the door...only to pause halfway there. “These duplicates: do you think they have a Luna where they come from?”

Lunar Blueblood could only sigh. “There was only one Luna, and besides, even if you did find her doppleganger there, if she’s anything like the one we knew, she’d never be able to just up and leave the ponies of her world to their nightmares.”

Celestia merely nodded. “True enough. Still, my former student brought their citizens to our world: perhaps we should consider sending some ponies back.”

As the Empress took her leave, Prince Blueblood couldn’t help but look upon the crystal he had been given with equal parts hope and dread, not liking the way his Aunt had said that at all.

Meanwhile, back at the Castle of Friendship, Princess Ember couldn’t help but feel perplexed as she and the Republic members regrouped with the Mane 4 in the throne room. “Maybe it's because I'm still relatively new to Pony culture, but I'm curious how you managed to hide what we're looking for from Celestia. I mean, forgive my tactlessness, but it seems she was pretty thorough.”

It was honestly easy to see why she thought this: the thrones were in tatters, the table had a crack running right down the middle, and the tree chandelier was completely gone. Twilight, meanwhile, merely nodded in understanding, briefly flashing back to how this all took place, her eyes momentarily drawn to a dried up pool of blood in the corner, briefly wondering if this was where her parents made their last stand as they bravely held the Empress at bay whilst she had made her escape.

She then shook her head as she scanned the area, doing one last check to see if everything was in order. “The vault I stored the weapon in is coated in every perception filter I could throw at it, and even if she picked up on them, she’d dismiss them as I placed it in the last place she’d think to look.”

“Sounds like you went to a lot of trouble to hide it, Darling,” Rarity remarked, “between this and how apparently we’re the key to unlock said vault.”

“Neutralizing an Alicorn, any Alicorn, never mind Celestia, wasn’t a call one should have to make alone,” Twilight explained. “So I put the weapon in a vault that could only be accessed by simultaneously sampling the Aura signatures of five specific ponies.”

Instantly, Rainbow knew where this was going. “Our counterparts.”

Pinkamena nodded. “With our Dashie dead, and the rest of the Chosen Ones following Celestia for whatever ill-thought-out reasons they’ve cooked up, we needed your help to be able to access it.”

Ember couldn’t help but quirk an eyebrow. “Why didn’t you just bring over those human counterparts I’ve heard so much about? And for that matter, if you needed the Elements of Harmony, why did you bring me over?

Little Strongheart snorted in reply. “I can answer that first one: even if they weren’t trying to hide how the Crystal Mirror was still around, with Magic not being a natural thing over where Canterlot High is, they were likely worried that Sunset’s friends might not have a strong enough collective Aura for their purposes, to say nothing about how they weren’t willing to gamble on them being able to effectively defend themselves in this world if it came down to it.”

Soarin nodded. “Pretty much. As for why we brought you over, Ember, well, I don’t understand half the jargon of how it works, but apparently, your scepter has enough magical energy coursing through it that when used in conjunction with Pinkie and the others, it should make up for any subtle differences that their might be between the auras of them and their counterparts.”

“‘Should?’ Twi, are ya sure this’ll even work?” Applejack couldn’t help but ask.

Twilight looked down in shame. “Honestly? I have no idea. Admittedly, there’s a good chance I’ll end up blasting the vault open after this simply knocks the lock loose a little. It’ll trip a few of the alarms Celestia has set up, but I’ll be sure to teleport you back to the base should that happen.”

Here, Fluttershy couldn’t help but gasp. “Twilight, you can’t. If you do that, you’ll die!”

The Lunar Republic’s leader gave the Kind mare a smile. “I appreciate the concern, but better that I die than to have your world lose your Elements of Harmony the way my world has.”

“Don’t talk like that,” Pinkamena declared with a smile more reminiscent of her counterpart. “This plan will work. After all, you’re the one who made it.”

“Besides, my counterpart proved that she was more than willing to give her life for this world.” Rainbow declared with a smile. “How could I call myself the Element of Loyalty if I wasn’t prepared to do the same thing?”

“Hopefully it won’t come to that, Darling,” Rarity remarked, “but the sentiment holds true: you’re not alone in this fight, Twilight.”

Princess Twilight actually teared up a little as the others all nodded in agreement, a small smile appearing on her face. “I realize this isn’t entirely accurate, but it’s good to have you back. Anyways, Ember, raise your scepter into the air. Everypony else, place your right forehoof at the base of the back of your thrones. Once I give the signal, Ember and Rarity, aim a blast at where the roots of the Golden Oaks library used to be.”

Everypony nodded as they got into position. As the Mane 5 placed their hooves against where their individual thrones used to be, said thrones and the cracked table before them started to blink erratically. About five seconds after the glow started to become constant and the Element Bearer's cutie marks began to glow, Twilight yelled out, “NOW!” prompting Rarity and Ember to send a stream of magic from their horn and scepter, respectively, towards where the center of a massive set of Oak Tree roots used to be, before a lone crystal that still lay there shot a beam onto one throne in particular, causing it to lurch back a ways.

“That’s enough!” Twilight called out, causing them all to back up a ways.

As Princess Twilight approached the exposed secret compartment, however, Fluttershy couldn’t help but gasp. “Wait, is that…?”

The Princess just smiled as she removed a medium-sized container from beneath where Spike’s throne used to be. “What can I say? Even in death, he’s my number one assistant.”

Opening said container, Twilight let out a sigh of relief upon finding what she was looking for: a special apparatus to place around one’s horn that contained a few gems and what looked to be a piece of Queen Chrysalis’ throne. “That’s it. We’ve got what we came for. Now let’s get out of here before…”

It was at that moment, the chamber they were in began to shake in regular intervals, indicating that somepony was bursting through the doors that led to their position one after the other. Needless to say, Princess Twilight was less than amused. “...before exactly that happens,” she groaned even as she quickly placed the container back where it had been originally, partially closing the hatch to give it some semblance of protection even as she and everypony else prepared for battle.

When the door to their location was forced open, however, Applejack was shocked to find that on the other side stood several of Celestia’s guards, as well as Solar Garble - now wearing light armor - and her own counterpart. “You…”

“...shouldn’t have let your guard down, puny pony.” Garble declared, quickly tackling her out of the room.

As the guards started to focus on her friends, Rainbow quickly kicked a piece of rubble at Solar Applejack, giving a chuckle as the farm pony focused her attention on her.

Seeing this, Applejack couldn’t help but glare. “Our Rainbow Dash was just as big-headed,” she declared.

“And probably just as super-ultra-extreme-awesomazing,” Rainbow couldn’t help but remark even as the two of them started their little bout.

The battle that followed was not easy. Not only was Rainbow fighting the mirror image of one of her best friends, the friend in question was one of only non-fliers to ever push her to her absolute limits and beyond them. To make matters even worse, this version of Applejack was clearly letting her fear, anger, frustration, and pain guide her actions in this fight, as the rainbow-haired Wonderbolt quickly found herself dodging blows that, if they had hit her, would have crippled her at best, killed her at worst.

Fortunately, despite her headfirst attitude towards battle...and just about everything else, really...Rainbow was not a stupid mare. While she’d openly admit to not being as smart as Twilight or Sunburst, she prided herself on being able to make snap decisions mid-flight or mid-battle based off of observations she’d pick up throughout the ordeal. Case in point, she’d noticed that while this Applejack had been openly using more aggressive moves, she’d almost been purposely missing, like she was afraid of actually hitting her...which she supposed made some sense: despite her support of Celestia, if she was anything like her AJ, she likely had spent several nights of the past few years awake, pondering whether she was actually doing the right thing, which might have explained the bags she saw under Applejack’s eyes. In other words, despite what she might’ve claimed out loud, she was hesitating. Whether it was guilt over what happened with Twilight - either one of them - or because she wasn’t completely willing to see another Rainbow Dash die, the Element of Loyalty made sure to capitalize on it, quickly knocking the farm mare flat before kicking her in the head for good measure, ending the fight.

Rainbow Dash could only shake her head as she looked upon the fallen Earth Pony. “And another thing: our Applejack? She’s 20% cooler.”

Speaking of the Applejack from the Equestria we all know and love, she and the others had quickly dealt with the Empire’s forces, surrounding Garble as they did. “That’s enough, ya varmint: yer done.”

“Not yet I’m not,” the red-scaled Dragon declared, quickly breathing out fire to force everypony back before making a hasty retreat.

“Can’t you just stop him with your scepter?” Rarity couldn’t help but ask of the Dragon Lord, who shook her head in frustration.

“I’ve been trying to throughout the fight, but he just won’t listen,” she growled out. “He must have spent so much time resisting the scepter’s influence after Spike and I won the Gauntlet of Fire, not wanting to take orders from ‘pony-loving Dragons’, that in this world he eventually built up an immunity to it.”

“Well, we’ll just have to do things the hard way then,” Rainbow declared even as she gave chase.

Quickly noticing this, Garble let out a growl, attempting a few aerial maneuvers to lose the speedy Pegasus. Unfortunately for him, Rainbow Dash knew a few maneuvers herself, having practiced quite a few of them both before and after her acceptance into the Wonderbolts. Even her opponent’s firebreath didn’t deter her, quickly flying straight through it to give the rebellious Dragon a punch to the face, knocking her to the ground. “That’s enough, Garble. You know you can’t outfly me.”

Garble glared for all he was worth, only to pause as he noticed something in the distance, bringing a wicked grin to his lips. “You’re right: I need a different approach.” ...and that was all the warning Rainbow got before flying off and grabbing a filly that had been sneaking around the deteriorating remains of Sugarcube Corner.

Needless to say, the rainbow-haired Wonderbolt was off put by this new scenario, her irritation quickly becoming fear upon realizing who the filly was. “Storm Chaser?! What are you doing here?!”

“I...I’m sorry,” her alternate daughter declared. “You and the others were taking a long time so I snuck out of the base while the others weren’t looking. I...I didn’t want to lose you again.”

Despite Storm Chaser not being her daughter, not really, Rainbow couldn’t help the proud smile that bloomed on her lips. “Heh: you’re my daughter alright. Loyal but reckless. If you really wanted to help out, you didn’t need to sneak out: if you had just asked, I’m sure we could have found a way for you to contribute, but you’re just a little filly: we can’t have you biting off more than you can chew,” she remarked, tossing in a wink at that last part, Storm Chaser throwing a wink back, having quickly caught onto what her late mother’s counterpart was planning.

“Touching, but pointless,” Garble snidely remarked. “See, here’s how things are going to work: I’m going to head back to the Empress with my little hostage, and if anyone tries to follow me, I’m going to…” ...and that was as far as the red-scaled Dragon got before Storm Chaser sunk her teeth into his arm, causing him to let go of her in pain. “You little brat! Forget Celestia’s orders to bring you in alive: just for that, you die first!”

Needless to say, Rainbow was not happy to hear that, quickly leveling a glare at Garble even as she held Storm Chaser close. “I’m sure if my late doppelganger had heard that, she’d kick you into next week. Allow me to do so in her place.”

Have you ever heard the phrase “Don’t poke the Mama Bear”? Garble was quickly learning why this was generally good advice. True, he was a lot more aggressive than the majority of Ember’s forces, but that hardly mattered when Rainbow Dash was coming at him with everything and the kitchen sink...literally: she “borrowed” the kitchen sink from the worn down Sugarcube Corner to bash the brash Dragon over the head with. By the time, the loyal Pegasus had finished the battle off with the first Sonic Rainboom this version of Equestria had seen in four years...well, Garble wasn’t dead, but he was very much wishing that he was.

“Take some free advice, Garble: stay away from my daughter!” Rainbow Dash growled out before approaching Storm Chaser, who had been watching the whole fight from a safe distance, quickly gaining a concerned expression as she did. “You okay?”

“That. Was. AWESOME!” Storm Chaser happily yelled out, quickly bringing her late mother’s counterpart into a hug. “I want to be just like you when I grow up!”

Rainbow simply chuckled even as she returned the embrace. “I’m sure you will someday. Just keep pushing yourself to your very limits and remember to stay loyal to your friends, your home, and to yourself: those are the traits that your mother prides herself on in any world. For now, though...you’re grounded for a week.”

“What?!”

“I’ll need to run it past Soarin, seeing how I’m not technically your mother,” Rainbow admitted, “but good intentions or not, you still snuck out of the base and likely worried Sci-Twi and Sweetie Belle sick tearing the place apart looking for you. That’s another thing that you’ll need to remember from now on: actions have consequences, and you won’t always have an awesome pony like me around to deal with those consequences for you.”

“I...okay,” Storm Chaser replied, reluctantly nodding her head.

Rainbow Dash simply smiled in reply. “Come on: let’s get you to Soarin and Twilight: the egghead can let the base know where you are and your Dad can decide if he approves of the punishment I gave you.”

“Grounded for a week it is,” said stallion remarked sometime later with a nod. “Normally, I’d also be adding ‘no dessert during that period of time,’ but given what happened with Garble, I’d say this is more than enough.”

“Agreed,” Twilight said with a sigh, having just informed the base that the young filly was safe, before checking up on the weapon she had hidden away...and groaning. “Aw, pony feathers.”

Little Strongheart couldn’t help but frown. “Bad news?”

“And good news, and worse news,” Twilight admitted. “The bad news is that one of Celestia’s soldiers managed to damage the weapon we came for in all the chaos. The good news is that all the components we’d need to affect the Empress’ Alicorn biology are still intact despite all that, but the worse news is that the targeting apparatus is beyond repair, and even with Blueblood, we don’t have the means to get a new one quickly.”

Here, Pinkamena cracked a small smile, looking to the audience as she did. “Don’t worry: it won't be too long before we get some help.”

Ember however couldn’t help but quirk an eyebrow in confusion. “Who is she talking to?”

Rainbow Dash snorted by way of reply. “Something you need to understand, Ember: we might be in another dimension, but Pinkie Pie will still be Pinkie Pie: it’s best not to question it.”

To be continued