• Published 23rd Jul 2020
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Going out with a boom - Shaslan

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The last day

The sky was blue and beautiful, brighter than even Rainbow’s coat had been, before it faded.

Rainbow looked again at the drop before her. She thought about her friends. None of them would be happy she was doing this. Fluttershy would have tried to talk her out of it, or failing that, cried until Rainbow complied. Pinkie and Rarity would just have tried to restrain her until the urge passed. Twilight would probably have sent out the whole Royal Guard if she had gotten wind of Rainbow’s plans.

No, nopony would want to hear that this was her plan. Applejack least of all. She’d probably have dragged Rainbow Dash away from this edge by main force, if she were here.

Rainbow waited a moment for the feel of teeth on her tail or the lash of a sharp voice and some apple-related curses. None came, and she sighed out a breath she hadn’t realised she had been holding. There was nopony here to stop her but her. And she didn’t want to stop.

Or rather — she did want to stop, that was the whole crux of the issue. She was so damn tired of shuffling from her apartment to her lecture hall, ground-bound and hardly able to fly. She had been on wing-rest for half a damn year, on the orders of her doctor. She had told Rainbow that if she wanted to save the use of her wings she would rest up and let them have some time to heal, but Rainbow could see that for what it was; a big old pack of lies. What was she saving the use of her wings for? Arthritis doesn’t get better with rest. All ‘resting’ was doing was making her wing muscles waste even further away.

Rainbow spent every afternoon out on the landing strip, watching the recruits practice and yelling advice at the top of her lungs. At least inside the walls of the Academy ponies still respected her and listened when she spoke. If she had been put aside and written off there, she really would have lost it. But outside that protective enclave where everypony knew that the word of Professor Dash was law, ponies didn’t recognise her. More generations than she cared to count had been born and grown to adulthood since she had been the Bearer of the Element of Loyalty, and the whole world had known her name.

The only one ponies remembered anymore was Princess Twilight, or, if you were in Manehattan’s fashion district, Rarity too. Rainbow ground her teeth. Wasn’t fair, dang it. But ponies liked royalty. They always had, always would. And it had simply been too long since the colts and fillies of Equestria had seen a sonic rainboom flower across the sky.

But all that was going to change today. Rainbow had given the flight up here her all. Her wings were clawed into strange positions and the arthritis was having its biggest flare-up in living memory, but she wasn’t going to let anything stop her now. Rainbow Dash was going to go out with a boom, a sonic rainboom, and everypony would know her name. She was more than just a stained glass window in Twilight’s throne room — she wasn’t history just yet.

And after today, after this, there would be no more empty, echoing rooms, with Applejack’s smiling face looking at her only from photographs. There would be no more smooth pillow beside her, undented by that sweet yellow-maned head for years and years. There would be no more aching, heart-wrenching trips to that little stone beneath the intertwined pear and apple trees, that every time left Rainbow Dash sobbing until she thought she would drown. There would be no more looking into Zap Apple’s green eyes and seeing the ghost of another pair of emerald eyes overlaying them. There would be no more arthritis or scrubbing along on the ground, in the dirt, like a bug. Rainbow was going to fly, and she was never going to stop.

She looked down again at that blue-and-green blur beneath her, and the smudges that were Equestria, Ponyville, Cloudsdale, the places she and Applejack had known and loved, and she smiled. She spread her wings, wincing despite her resolve at the cracks and shooting darts of pain that the movement cost her. She had her pain meds in her pocket and she wondered for a moment about taking some, but rejected the notion quickly. She needed her wits about her if she was going to pull this off. And she was Rainbow Dash. Rainbow fricking, hard-hitting, cloud-kicking, mother-bucking Dash! She didn’t need any meds to do this. She was born to do this!

She flared her wings as wide as she could, took in a breath that filled her lungs to bursting, and touched the sonic rainboom medal one last time. Then she patted the pocket that held the little photo of Applejack on their wedding day, radiant in white — and her usual brown hat, of course — and then flipped her flight goggles down over her eyes.

Time to fricking go.

Rainbow Dash bunched her haunches under her, wiggled her rump to get a good starting position, tensed herself — and launched. The force of her jump threw her forward, several pony-lengths clear of the cloud, and she felt a fierce grin spread across herself as the rush of air hit her face and gravity claimed her. She flapped once, twice, working to get the angle right, and then clipped her wings in close to her sides. She’d never dived from this high before, but then again, she’d never tried for a rainboom this size before.

The air screamed, almost deafening her. Already, the angle of her dive was steep enough to flatten her mane against her neck. She thrust her hooves out in front of her, snatching in what breaths she could. She could feel it, really feel it — that old power, the tingling that began in her hooves and would slowly spread through her whole body, building and building until she could break the sound barrier, and with one great smash unleash her rainbows into the world.

Tears were springing to her eyes already and the ground was yawning closer and closer with every heartbeat. Funny — it took so long to come up, but coming down was so quick. She could see mountains; that would be Canterlot. This would disrupt Twilight’s morning meetings. And Appleoosa was in that direction — she hoped Zap Apple was eating lunch outside today. Pinkie Pie would surely see, she always knew when special things were going to happen. Rarity was anypony’s guess.

The power was crawling up her legs now, and her cheeks were pulled back by the force of the wind. Rainbow bared her teeth in a furious, death-defying grin. The ground was closer than ever now — she could see individual settlements. If she wanted to pull up from a fall this fast it had better be soon.

But the tingling had reached her wings now, and she could feel the buzz that was a rainboom building in the air around her. It was almost time. There was no way she was backing down now.

Rainbow heard a voice screaming, wild with exhilaration over the wind, and it took her a few moments to realise it was her. Her voice was so croaky these days it was a shock to hear a pure note coming from her own mouth.

The power roared to a crescendo and Rainbow beamed as she heard that final crack as she broke the very sky itself and saw her colours streaming out of her, to wash over the whole of Equestria and bathe everypony she loved — and everypony else besides — in its beautiful light.