• Published 2nd Jan 2024
  • 2,409 Views, 272 Comments

Warm - CrimsonWolf360

Returning to the past, Twilight does what is necessary to save Cooper from his fate. The consequences for such choices, however, are not to be underestimated. Only time will tell if it was worth it...

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Chapter 18

"Heya, Cooper!" Rainbow grinned, banking around and coming to a halt just a few feet in front of him.

Cooper owlishly blinked at the pegasus hovering in front of him as if nothing were out of the ordinary, "Uh... wow. You're really fast." He complimented, his mind drawing a blank on how else to reply.

"The fastest in all of Equestria!" Scootaloo cheered, bouncing in place.

"You know it, Scoots." Rainbow beamed, holding her hoof out for the smaller pegasus to bump.

"Ohmygoshohmygoshohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh." Sky muttered to himself, practically vibrating in his armor.

"So, did'ja come to watch the pros at work?" Rainbow questioned, giving Cooper a cocky smirk.

Cooper crossed his arms and nodded, "From what I've been told, you're a talented flier. So far, I'd be inclined to agree."

Rainbow did a quick backflip in the air, "Hay yeah I am! I've got a whole routine planned for today so you're gonna love this!" She explained.

"So... awesome..." Sky quietly groaned to himself.

Having picked up on his guard's utter turmoil and test of self restraint, Cooper rolled his eyes and gestured to the prismatic pegasus while looking over to his guard, "You know, if you want to meet her, you can do that now." He offered.

Rainbow raised an eyebrow before glancing over at the pegasus guard to find him smiling widely at his charge, "Oh my gosh, thank you, thank you, thank you!" He exclaimed, before darting over to her, "HelloRainbowDashI'mSkyandI'msuchabigfaneversincetheyoungflier'scompetitionincloudsdalewhereyoudidthesonicrainboom!" Sky greeted in one breath.

Rainbow blinked a few times as she processed the sheer volume of words that were shoved into her ears, before her signature cocky smirk returned, "Well thanks. I knew I had fans all over the place, but I didn't think even the royal guard were a part of my fan club."

"You have a fan club?" Midnight asked, curiously.

"She does! So far it's just me, but we're growing by the day!" Scootaloo piped up, a beaming smile on her face.

"It's just... such an honor to meet you. You've been an inspiration to pegasai like me that want to be the best." Sky offered, giving his most heartfelt look of gratitude to the rainbow-maned pegasus.

Despite herself, Rainbow did blush slightly at the praise, her wings fluffing about slightly as her tail swished in happiness, "Aw, shucks... thanks. I'm just glad that I can help motivate anypony else to be the best they can be."

"This is all super touching and stuff, but can we get to the flying now? I wanna see a sonic rainboom!" Sweetie Belle whined, snapping everyone's attention back to her and AppleBloom.

"Uh hehe, fair enough. You down to watch the most awe-inspiring, death defying, dare-devilingest stunts you've ever seen!?" Rainbow dramatically exclaimed, puffing her chest out as she looked back at Cooper and his guards.

"I can't wait!" Sky cheered.

While Midnight rolled her eyes at her fellow guard's antics, she kept a smile on her face and nodded, "I suppose it would be interesting to watch."

"It's what we're here for, isn't it?" Cooper added, prompting a hoof-pump from Rainbow.

"Aw yeah! I'm gonna knock your socks off. Watch this!" She enthusiastically ordered before bolting straight up into the sky.

Cooper was knocked slightly back by the backblast of such a sudden and violent departure, almost making him lose his footing. He tilted his head skyward as a rainbow blur of motion darted high into the clouds. A small hole appeared as Rainbow punched right through the cloud and higher into the air, disappearing from sight. A few moments later, she punched back through the cloud so hard and fast that the entire fluffy object disintegrated into mist that trailed after her as she headed straight toward them.

With her wings flapping as hard and fast as they could, Rainbow continued to dive until the last second, her wings suddenly flaring as she banked upwards and just narrowly missed the small crowd below. The mist trailed after her quickly evaporated into a fine spray of water droplets that formed a temporary rainbow overhead that lasted for a few seconds. A chorus of 'ooh's and ahh's' escaped the lips of the gathered voyeurs as Rainbow gained altitude once more.

Using what was left of her speed, Rainbow banked back around into a wide loop, arcing toward the group as she flapped her wings again and again to gain more speed. She swerved in and out of several trees that lined her path, almost as if they were obstacles placed there specifically to test her agility, before banking back upwards into a massive loop-da-loop.

"Oh wow! She's amazing!" Apple Bloom cheered.

"I told you!" Scootaloo beamed.

"Oh, what's she doing next!?" Sweetie Belle questioned.

As Rainbow finished her first loop, she came down low to the ground. Her wingtip just barely kissed the tall grass as she zoomed through the park to the lake in the center. She left a trail of ripples from the tip of her wings that disturbed the surface of the water ever so slightly, before suddenly bolting straight upwards. The backblast of her sudden ascent sent a geyser of water shooting into the air after her, but she was long gone before even a drop could have a chance of touching her.

The aerial display was as intense as it was spectacular, and even Cooper found himself quickly mesmerized by the acrobatic prowess of the rainbow-maned pegasus. She continued her dance across the sky, pulling turns and maneuvers that were previously thought impossible, wowing her crowd all the while. All too soon, it came down to her final move, one which she gained considerable altitude to even attempt.

"Oh wow, she's going really high up!" Sweetie Belle chirped.

"She must five thousand feet high..." Cooper muttered in disbelief.

"She's gonna do it!" Sky exclaimed with giddy excitement.

"Gonna do what?" Midnight raised an eyebrow.

"A sonic rainboom!" Scootaloo cried, the anticipation in her voice dwarfing even Sky's excitement.

"A sonic rainboom... what, is she gonna break the sound barrier?" Cooper scoffed, rolling his eyes in amusement.

"Yes! Here she comes!" Scootaloo replied, wholly ignorant of the disbelieving look Cooper gave her as she continued to stare after Rainbow Dash.

Meanwhile at the apex of her ascent, Rainbow wiped a beam of sweat from her brow and cracked her neck.

"Alright, Dash... you've got one chance to really wow this alien and show him what you're all about... don't screw it up now."

The self pep talk, while offering little actual encouragement, was all she needed to veer downwards and propel herself forward with a single flap of her mighty wings. Rainbow's speed instantly increased as she dove toward the ground. Gravity could only move her so fast, however, so as she quickly reached terminal velocity, she pumped her wings faster and faster, pushing herself as hard as she possibly could.

From their position on the ground, Cooper and his entourage could see the faint form of conical atmosphere forming at the tip of Rainbow's hooves. Faster and faster she went, her body threatening to tear through the sound barrier with each passing second, and still, she only flapped harder. Cooper found his jaw dropping slightly as the speed of the little pegasus went from quick, to fast, to blistering.

Her altitude dropped as she plummeted toward the ground at a speed untouched by most living things. The sight made both Cooper and Midnight nervous as the saw just how quickly Rainbow was running out of room to pull up, should she need to. On the other side of the fence, Scootaloo and Sky were bouncing in place and cheering as their anticipation reached a fever pitch.

Rainbow waves of energy coalesced around the tip of Rainbow's hooves, the sight threatening to blind anyone looking directly at her. That was the last thing Cooper saw before she finally broke the sound barrier, her sheer speed sending a ripple of rainbow energy blasting outwards in all directions, while the explosive sound erupted from behind her.

Rainbow banked up at the last second, her agility at such speed surprising even her as she effortlessly regained all of her lost altitude in a matter of seconds, quickly finding herself back in the lower troposphere. However, while she cheered and whooped for herself, a much different scene played out down below.

All ponies were startled slightly by the sound of the sonic rainboom, but Cooper remained motionless. He stared up at the sky, his eyes blinking in disbelief as he watched the smoke rising from the burning buildings in front of him. He heard the crack of gunfire as men rushed through the burning settlement, shooting and killing as they went. Screams echoed in the distance, making him wince, but none of it compared to the cold chill that sent a shiver down his spine.

"Cooper!" Twilight cried, snapping his eyes down toward the pony beside him.

Cooper stared down at her, his mind struggling to process just what to do. He knew that they were cornered. He knew that there was no way out. He'd failed. His only task in this god-forsaken world and he couldn't even manage to protect her. He failed her, just like he'd failed them...

"Cooper, are you alright?" Twilight asked, her head tilted to the side in confusion.

Just as he opened his mouth to respond, Cooper glanced up, finding a horrible sight that made his blood freeze in his veins. Through the snow and wasteland before him, he saw Gabe, standing there with a pistol in his hand, aiming right at the back of Twilight's skull.

"Abomination..." He heard Gabe mutter.

Without thinking, Cooper leapt forward, tackling Twilight to the ground and shielding her with his own body as Gabe fired again and again, bullets whizzing all around him. Despite his positioning, Cooper didn't feel the stinging, burning sensation of being shot, instead, he felt wetness. He slowly glanced down, finding that somehow, someway, every bullet missed him entirely, but all found their target in Twilight. As he stared down at her, eyes wide in shock, blood oozed from the many new holes all over her barrel. He desperately tried to apply pressure to the multiple new wounds all over her barrel, the crimson fluid covering his hands in red.

Cooper couldn't breathe, let alone speak as he stared down into Twilight's sapphire eyes. Wait... that wasn't right, Twilight had purple eyes. Cooper's brow furrowed in confusion as Twilight stared back at him, her expression quickly morphing into one of shock and confusion.

"Cooper!?" He heard, though this time, the voice did not come from Twilight, instead it came from behind him.

Cooper blinked, and suddenly it was no longer Twilight laying under him, but rather, the snow white fur and golden armor of Midnight greeted him, though her face carried the same shock and confusion he'd seen mere microseconds before. Her helmet had fallen off from him suddenly tackling her, and the magic creating the illusion of color slowly drained from her features to reveal her charcoal colored coat and black hair.

"Cooper!? What's going on!?" AppleBloom cried out, desperately trying to pull him off of the mare beneath him.

"I-" Cooper began, choking on his words.

"Are you okay? Why did you just tackle Midnight? Mid, are you okay?" Sky pressed, stepping over to their side.

"I'm okay. Cooper, what was that? Why did you do that?" Midnight questioned, the confusion still evident in her voice.

Cooper glanced down to find that he was practically laying on top of his guard, as if he were trying to shield her from something. Albeit with an awkward moment of tension, he got up to his knees, giving her enough room to squeeze out from under him and get back to her hooves.

Cooper slowly looked down to his hands, finding that they weren't covered in blood at all. He shook his head and shakily got to his feet, his eyes blinking rapidly as if to attempt to process what had happened. When it became abundantly clear that the ponies around her were all waiting for an explanation, Cooper found himself coming up empty.

"I... I'm sorry. I thought..." He trailed off.

Midnight grabbed her helmet and re-donned the protective equipment, her coat quickly taking a white shine just a moment later. She walked over to Cooper's side just as Rainbow touched down beside the group, her head tilted to the side in confusion.

"What's going on with you guys? That was probably the best sonic rainboom I've done yet. Where's the cheering!?" Rainbow indignantly questioned, wholly ignorant of the tension in the air.

"I, uh... I need to go." Cooper declared, turning to leave.

"But, Cooper!" AppleBloom protested.

"Wait, yeah- what do you mean? Where are you going?" Rainbow added, bolting over to Cooper's side.

"I can't... I just need to think." Cooper replied, hastily turning and walking away from the group.

"Cooper!" Rainbow tried to protest, but a wing shot out in front of her, halting her pursuit.

"Best to let us handle this, Miss Dash. What he's going through... I think I've seen it once before." Sky stated, before re-furling his wing.

Rainbow opened her mouth to protest, but as she finally took in the rattled appearance of Cooper and his guards as they hurried away, she didn't protest. Even she could tell that something was definitely amiss compared to just a few minutes prior.

"Well that was weird... what got into him?" Scootaloo asked as the trio departed.

"What happened, exactly?" Rainbow pressed, turning to the three fillies before her.

"I don't know. One second he was having a good time, and the next, he was tackling his guard." Sweetie Belle explained.

"Do ya' think she said something to offend him?" AppleBloom questioned.

"No way! She didn't say a word. It was like the sonic rainboom just set him off." Scootaloo shot back.

Rainbow raised an eyebrow, "The sonic rainboom made him tackle his guard?" She repeated.

"That's what it seemed like to me. Everything was fine and then as soon as the 'boom' hit us, he just freaked out." Scootaloo responded.

Rainbow's brow furrowed in thought for a few moments. Her prolonged silence made the three fillies beside her all tilt their heads to the side in curiosity, but before they could voice their forming questions, Rainbow spoke up.

"I think I need to go talk to Twilight real quick. I'm sorry but practice is done for today, girls." Rainbow announced.

A chorus of 'aww's' rang out from the trio of fillies, but Rainbow held firm despite the adorable protests.

"I know, and I'm sorry girls. I just really need to go see Twilight right now. I think we'll try to do this again, same time tomorrow. Sound like a plan?" She offered, in a bid to make peace.

"Okay." The three fillies agreed.

"Oh! We can spend the rest of the afternoon trying to get our cutie marks." Sweetie Belle suggested.

"Now there's a plan! What should we go try?" Scootaloo replied.

"How about acrobatics!" AppleBloom offered.

"I like it! Come on, girls! I'm gonna need a ring of fire..." Scootaloo trailed off as the three fillies made their exit.

Rainbow smiled at the youthful energy of the bunch before spreading her wings and taking to the skies once more. Having seen the lavender alicorn earlier that day, she knew where to find her, and promptly made her way over in the direction of Sweet Apple Acres. It took the prismatic speedster less than five minutes to make it over to the South field of the farm, where she easily found AppleJack's orange coat sticking out against the soft green grass of the orchard. Standing just a short ways away from the apple farmer, was none over than the princess of friendship herself.

Rainbow banked toward the duo and came in for a landing, her flapping wings catching the ears of the alicorn friend long before she ever touched the ground.

"Rainbow?" Twilight inquired, glancing up as she came in above them.

"In the flesh." Rainbow smirked, landing just beside Twilight.

"Afternoon, Dash. What brings you over here? Ah thought you'd be busy with the cutie mark crusaders for another hour or two." AppleJack noted, giving her friend a nod of greeting.

"Well, that was the plan. The three of them are gonna go crusading some more and try to get their cutie marks doing... something that's totally not dangerous, I'm sure." Rainbow quickly replied.

"That's why you stopped your practice routine? That doesn't seem like you. Even without a crowd to put a show on for, you've always been the type to finish your whole routine." Twilight noted.

"Well, that does kinda bring me to the reason I'm here," Rainbow responded, giving Twilight a slightly apologetic look, "Twi, can I ask you a quick question about Cooper?"

Twilight's gaze immediately hardened, "Oh no. What happened? Where is he?" She quickly questioned.

"He's fine, he's fine. His guards are taking him back to the castle, I think. I just wanted to know something about him real quick." Rainbow replied, in a bid to calm her alicorn friend before she could lose her temper again.

"Right, right. Sorry. What do you want to know?" Twilight responded.

"Well... those... 'guns' that you said you and Cooper were shot at with, back over in his world... were they... ya' know... really loud?" Rainbow asked, as gently as she could.

"Excessively. Cooper told me that every time a bullet is fired, it breaks the sound barrier, much like your sonic rain...boom..." Twilight replied, her voice trailing off as she realized just what had transpired.

"Uh... right... so, is there a reason that after hearing my sonic rainboom, that he'd tackle one of his guards to the ground?" Rainbow finished, giving what she hoped was a disarming smile, though her nerves shown through easily enough.

Twilight pinched the bridge of her snout, "I can think of a couple reasons... ugh... I need to go see Cooper."

Author's Note:

Well that's certainly not good. Poor Cooper can't even enjoy a little airshow without the demons from his past making themselves known. How will Twilight deal with this?