The Elements of Harmony. The most powerful magic in all of Equestria...
For two times now, they have been wielded by six individual ponies, bound together by the Magic of Friendship, to successfully counter the wicked and chaotic ambitions of those who sought to conquer the world.
Yet, for all their usefulness, these magical artifacts still remain a mystery to most of ponykind. Perhaps the most important question is, was it really the full potential of them that was displayed by the wielders? Or is there simply more than what meets the eye?
When Rainbow Dash recieves an updated version of the book focusing on the Elements of Harmony and reads its new chapter that tells of a special incident that supposedly happened eons ago, soon, a series of events happen afterward. Events which ultimately culminate in Rainbow Dash discovering her true destiny, as well as discovering what she really holds inside in her very own soul...
As this fic was started in 2012, the setting of it is after the events of the Canterlot Wedding, and therefore ignores most of season 3 and 4 while keeping some of what was revealed about the Elements of Harmony in those seasons intact, including the Tree of Harmony.
The main theme of this fic, as well as the theme of Super Rainbow Dash, is "5OUL ON D!SPLAY" from Gran Turismo 5.
Super Rainbow Dash concept and design by me. Conceptualized in the summer of 2011, pre-dating Hasbro's Rainbow Power forms.
Peace and tranquility. In this little town in the center of a large and hilly landscape, it had seemed like nothing could ever interrupt or remove such feelings. It felt like not a single thing in the world could disrupt the calmness that enveloped the town. It had stuck to its roots like glue, never showing a sign of leaving or abandoning this place.
It was the absolute perfect moment for her to manage the town’s daily activities and problems that were rearing their head at a constant rate. She would not accept anything else as they would induce some unneeded stress on her well-being.
At least, it was perfect a few minutes ago. All of a sudden, like a quick clap of thunder and lightning, something had breached the once-impenetrable tranquility and had washed it away like a furious river. Something that had caused the denizens of the town to evacuate from their homes and buildings, running away to the outskirts of the town. It was there that they now stood with her in the darkness of the night.
Standing in front of the river-crossing bridge with a large amount of ponies behind her, Mayor Mare looked onwards to her town with the look of fear and shock in her widened eyes.
The town of Ponyville ahead that once stood proud and tall before was now nothing but a burning shadow of its former self. Huge ravaging flames had spread throughout it, incinerating everything in their paths and emitting large amounts of smoke towards the star-filled night sky. Buildings of varying sizes were crumbling into dust as the great flames engulfed them in whole.
It was not long until the tallest building in the town, the tower-like town hall, fell victim to the raging flames. As Mayor Mare watched with her own distressed eyes, the town hall crumbled with debris falling from it. Like a giant being that was struck with arrows and magic, it leaned over and fell down to the nearest group of buildings, crushing them. Clouds of dust blew from the crushed buildings afterward and the fire from the fallen tower went onward to their ruins.
She shook her head in horror at this as the town hall was the place she had just been in before the disaster had struck. The ponies behind her continued to watch as the flames went on their course. To all of them, it was equally as horrifying to see that Ponyville had become a gigantic candle of destruction.
“How in the hay did this happen?” asked one of them. “Did somepony forget to turn off the oven or something?”
“If it was an oven, it wouldn’t have spread all over the place this quickly,” replied another.
“No... She’s behind all of this,” said the mayor, staring ahead. “I saw her using her magic on the town. I thought she was somepony else at first, but seeing her cutie mark...”
“Who?” asked the mare standing next to the Mayor’s right and looking at her with eyes of worry. “Who is attacking the town, Miss Mare?”
The Mayor hesitated, her body quivering a bit and with her head lowered, her teeth gritting slightly. The one who was ravaging the town was somepony she knew. Somepony that they all knew, in fact, for this one had done a few achievements that had caught the attention of everypony in the town. Yet, all of a sudden, something seemed very off about her to the Mayor. Extremely off.
With her eyes on her town, she formed a very distressed, yet sorrowful expression on her face, lifting her lowered head back up.
“…Why? Oh, why have you done this, Twilight Sparkle?!” she said with a raised voice. “This… This isn't like you at all!”
Amidst all of the blazing and waving flames in the town, an open space could be seen near the center of town. A large circular clearing surrounded by the flames, it was, and standing in the very center of the clearing was the very catalyst herself.
With her cutie mark depicting a red-colored, six-pointed star surrounded by five smaller white stars, indeed, it was none other than the unicorn, Twilight Sparkle. Though her cutie mark was the same as it always had been, her overall appearance had drastically changed. What had once been a violet coat had now become a light tan color. Her eyes were no longer violet, but ruby red, instead. Her stylish violet-and-rose mane and tail had become the exact same as her surroundings: huge flames that furiously waved and moved every second with embers constantly separating out of them.
Glancing left and right at the widespread wildfire that she had caused, the burning unicorn smiled with a wicked expression.
“Let’s see here,” she said. “The shops have been burned down, Pinkie’s awful little cake shop is nicely baked, and the town hall had just fallen to ashes like a giant… Yep! Everything's going perfectly. Heheheheheeee…!”
Glancing ahead, she sighed with a happy, yet still wicked expression on her face.
“It sure is a great wake-up call for me, thanks to Discord. No way will I ever wield the magic of Harmony again… Now, time to finish up on the rest of Ponyville.”
Twilight lifted her front hoof up. Before she could make a step forward, though, a pair of hoof steps was heard from behind her, causing her to stop with her right eye looking back and her smile fading away.
“I don’t think you’ll be finishing up anything here, Twilight Sparkle!” exclaimed a voice from behind her.
Recognizing the voice, after a second, the unicorn smiled, lowering her hoof. She closed her eyes and lowered her head a bit, still with the smile on her face.
“…Don’t you ever learn, Rainbow Dash?” asked Twilight. “You’ve already tried your best on me back at the castle ruins. What makes you think wasting your strength further will do you any good now? I’m curious.”
“What makes me think I can beat you this time? Well, why don’t you turn around and face me? I think you’ll be surprised.”
“Hm?” Twilight opened her eyes, looking back as her smile faded away. She moved and turned around to face her, only for the unicorn to form an expression of great surprise on her face.
What stood before the unicorn’s very eyes was, indeed, Rainbow Dash. But the wielder of the Element of Loyalty no longer had the appearance of the blue pegasus that she once was. Much like the unicorn herself, Dash had been transformed. Her coat had become a pure white color, and her trademark rainbow mane and tail had burst into large waving flames that emitted colored embers from them. The speed of her rainbow flames, though, was at a slower, more flowing pace than the unicorn’s raging flames. Like Twilight, Dash’s eyes were ruby red, and her own pegasus wings had grown larger than before, resembling the large wings of Princess Celestia.
Accompanying the pegasus’ new appearance was that of the Element of Loyalty on her neck, sporting the red lightning-shaped jewel that was embedded within its center.
“Well… this is different, and yet, so similar to me as well,” said Twilight, calming down from her shocked look while observing the pegasus. “Hmm… somehow, I don’t think Discord has changed you here as you still seem rebellious to me, not to mention looking rather… Celestia-like… Tell me, Rainbow. How did you transform into this?”
“Gee, did somepony forget already?” Dash asked, her eyes looking firm. “I think I’ll let you figure it out on your own.”
With a slightly annoyed look, Twilight moved her head forward a bit, trying to closely observe the pegasus.
“Let’s see. White coat, large wings, red eyes, flaming rainbow mane and tail, the cloud of her cutie mark looking a bit grey there, and the Element of Loyalt---“
She stopped there, having just realized something that caused her to look surprised again.
“…Aaahhh… I see now,” she said, slowly beginning to form a wicked look on her face again. She chuckled. “So, the historical records were accurate after all. Hm, it seems the Elements of Harmony do have a hidden secret of great power within them. One which can only be unlocked by a pony who exhibits all of their qualities at once, who also exhibits strong willpower and great bravery…”
“…and when Harmony is on the brink of collapse,” Dash said. “Yeah, that’s right.”
“Heh. I figured as much. You always had strong willpower and bravery within you, Rainbow Dash,” Twilight said, smiling and beginning to walk around, taking her gaze off of the pegasus. “And from what I've heard in the past few days, it's no surprise that you were able to represent them all. Giving up your dream of joining the Wonderbolts, not leaving Applejack to die in that barn, and adopting a little filly as your own little sister… And gee, let me guess. The rest of your friends had lent their support towards you in order for you to represent the Element of Magic, finally causing you to become the legendary Flame of Harmony. Am I right on that?”
“…My friends? Aren’t they your friends as well?” Dash asked, raising an eye at her.
“Oh, they were, before I turned on them. Now they’re nothing but useless little annoyances that needed to be tossed aside.”
“Useless little…? Twilight, listen to yourself!” exclaimed the pegasus, looking a bit wide-eyed with her teeth clenched. “I mean, look at what you’re doing here! You’re destroying Ponyville, our home! Your home! Has that ever occurred to you once?!”
The unicorn stopped walking, taking a glance at her right with Dash standing to her left.
”This place? I don’t need it anymore… And besides, you forget who I swear allegiance to now. Harmony doesn’t fit me anymore.”
Turning her head to look at the pegasus, she then formed a grinning look with her eyes wide open, her pupils having shrunk to a large degree and becoming almost dot-like.
“Chaos does,” she said.
Dash was startled at the unicorn’s sudden look, causing her to almost take a step back. But she hesitated and quickly formed a firm look again.
“Heheheheheheeee… I gotta thank Discord for unleashing my potential like this,” Twilight said, sporting a crazed tone in her voice. “Did you know that I was almost like this before? Well, I remember.
“In fact, it was your Sonic Rainboom that had awakened it in the first place years ago!" Twilight exclaimed, facing towards and pointing at the white pegasus with her hoof. "My magic went out of control when you did it, turning everything into utter chaos until Celestia stopped me. Oh, how I shouldn't have let her stop me like that!"
“I know. You told us a while back, Twilight,” Dash said. “Well, if she hadn’t stopped you, would things play out the same as they did before this? Obviously not! …Twilight, wake up! Snap out of it! Break free of Discord's hold over you! I know this isn't like you!"
“Never. Hehehe… Well, then, now that I know that the Flame of Harmony is real,” said the unicorn, lowering her hoof. “I have to say I would very much like to test its power against my awakened potential here. What do you say, Rainbow Dash? I know you like to prove yourself a lot, so why not? Unless you’re too much of a chicken to face me all of a sudden…!”
Hearing her, Dash was startled again, jumping slightly this time. After a few seconds, she closed her eyes and formed a resolute look once again.
“You know… I thought that, for once, everything was hopeless,” she said, calmly. “Seeing you burn Ponyville to ashes and seeing Discord take over Canterlot like that… I really, honestly thought it was the beginning of the end. But then, I realized that we shouldn’t just give up like that. No, we should fight. Fight until the very end. Fight, even when we are powerless to do so. As soon as I realized that, as soon as I knew that I shouldn’t just sit there and cry like a little filly… something then happened inside of me. A miracle, it was, that showed the way for me. My true destiny.
“Do you think I’m just gonna let you and Discord get away with it?” Dash continued, opening her eyes and narrowing them to form a more serious look. “Do you think there’s no one else to stop you after what you did to us? Well, you couldn’t be any more wrong. Now that I’m here with you, there’s no way that I’m going to waste this transformation.”
The pegasus lowered her head closer to the ground and took one step back with both of her right hooves, entering a ready stance.
“You don’t wanna wake up to the nightmare that you’re creating here, huh? Fine. I guess you leave me no choice.”
Dash let out a loud grunt from her. With that grunt, a strong, swift, and wild burst of several tiny white particles erupted from all over her body, surrounding her completely within their light. As they continued to stream from her, the particles flowed upwards and faded into the air. With the particle aura of light surrounding her and her large pegasus wings, she had the resemblance of an angel that had descended from the heavens above.
“You want to test yourself against me? Bring it on, then! I’ll prove myself, alright!” Dash exclaimed.
Hearing that declaration from her, the burning unicorn’s eyes enlarged themselves back to normal. Forming a wicked, but confident smile on her face, she lowered her head while keeping her eyes on the white pegasus.
Honesty, Kindness, Laughter, Generosity, and Loyalty.
These are five of what a pony needs in order to have a long-lasting friendship with others. They are what he or she needs to be a good pony in general. They are what one needs if one wants to be a true hero of ponykind.
And they are what one needs, along with the support of that friendship or relationship with the people, to activate the "spark." The spark of Magic.
So came the rebirth of the legendary Elements of Harmony, the most powerful sources of magic known in the history of Equestria, after a thousand years of dormant sleep. A thousand years after Her Majesty, Princess Celestia, had used them to banish her corrupted sister to the moon. Alas, the prophecies foretold that the Mare in the Moon would return after such a period of time. She would have, indeed, plunged all of Equestria into eternal night, if it was not for the bravery of six individual ponies that hailed from the town of Ponyville. It was these ponies who had managed to do what Celestia could not: reawaken the Elements of Harmony and utilize them to their utmost fullest potential. And with this fully realized potential at their hooves, the six ponies were actually able to defeat and restore Nightmare Moon back to her former persona, Princess Luna, just as she was a millennium ago before she was swallowed by the sharp jaws of jealousy.
Since then, the six ponies became widely renowned for their victory, forever immortalized into the stained glass windows of the grand halls of the Canterlot Royal Palace. And even now, the spark of Magic continues to be with them, strengthening their friendship as their lives continue on in Ponyville.
However, as a fellow author and scholar who is studying these texts of great wisdom and knowledge alongside my colleagues right here in Canterlot, I had to ponder. Was it truly the full potential of the Elements of Harmony? Did their six representatives truly utilize all that they contained?
The truth, my fellow reader, is that it simply wasn't.
Since the very existence of the Elements of Harmony predates the rule of the royal sisters, there are, of course, historical records of them, dating back to some five hundred years after the founding of Equestria. Most of them describe similar incidents in which the Elements were used to the level of potential as was demonstrated by the six ponies in the current era. Some of them also describe incidents in which some wielders of them didn't quite reach the same level of potential, wielding them with limited power, yet still managed to accomplish their mission. Celestia banishing her sister to the moon was one of these "limited power" moments.
But far, far few of these records, albeit quite detailed, though, tell of one single incident that I now highly regard as something special. However, those neighsayers at the Grand Library seem to disagree with me, claiming that it was all inaccurate and that simply the Elements do not work that way. Curiously enough, though, Celestia herself seemed to be quiet on the subject matter. I wonder if she knows something about this incident? Or I wonder if she suspects the same as I do?
Well, whether you, the reader of this book, are willing to believe it or not, nevertheless, I encourage you to read the special chapter dedicated to this mysterious, yet fascinating incident with an open mind. Once you do, you will know why I said that it wasn't the full potential of the Elements of Harmony that the six ponies wielded. No... There is more than what meets the eye.
Read on, my dear reader, and I hope you will be fascinated by not only the contents of this book, but also the mysterious incident that had happened long ago...
"A mysterious incident, huh? Hmm..."
The blue pegasus, Rainbow Dash, was sitting on the top of her bed, situated in the bedroom of the cloud castle that she called home. She held a black hardcover book in her hooves, holding it up in front of her with her eyes on its pages.
Ever since that fateful day where she had broken her right wing and ended up in Ponyville Hospital trying to recover from the accident, Dash had grown to love the hobby of reading books. Beforehand, the pegasus had viewed the hobby of reading as a thing solely for "eggheads," which greatly contrasted with her being the competitive athlete that she was. It was simply "uncool" for her. That all changed, though, when she ran out of things to do to keep herself from being bored while waiting for her wing to recover. From day one alone, staying in that hospital room for three days straight felt like a jail to her. It gnawed at her, like a rabbit in its cage wanting and wishing to be released onto the free outside world.
With the claws of boredom getting at her, reluctantly, Dash decided to read the book that Twilight Sparkle brought in for her earlier. Before she even knew it, the pegasus was immediately immersed within it. She was into it completely, and she never stopped reading it. She realized she was wrong earlier: that reading was actually fun to her and that, at the end of the day, she should never judge anything unless she tries it.
Now, here she was, still reading books as ever. Dash was still going through the Daring Do series of adventure books, but she was now reading something completely different this time, for it had involved herself in it.
This particular book wasn't a story, however. Instead, it was a book of history and knowledge, and its primary subject was none other than the Elements of Harmony. The pegasus had only just read the introductory preface of it, beginning to read it proper as her hoof turned the page over to the first chapter of the book.
The book had been in Twilight Sparkle's library home for some time now, gathering dust along with the other books as time passed. According to the unicorn, the book had been written sometime after she, Dash, and the other four ponies had used the six Elements of Harmony for the first time. Just today, while cleaning up her home, Twilight had spotted the book sitting on the shelves and took it out, dusting it off. Taking a peek at it, she remembered that she already read it in whole before, and just as she was about to put it back, a gust of wind and the sound of hoof steps behind her had made her look back at who just entered.
Rainbow Dash had entered her home through the window, looking for the Daring Do book she was missing. After looking through the shelves, the purple unicorn had then given it to her. With the knowledge book still on the table beside her, she stopped Dash before she left, as Twilight was reminded of what she read in that book. Something that could be of interest to Dash, the unicorn thought.
The pegasus had preferred reading adventure stories, though. But then, she decided to have a read at it anyway. There was something interesting that had been written in there, Twilight added, and it was something that she personally saw in the blue pegasus on a few previous occasions.
It was now night time. Dash took a quick glance at her bedroom window, seeing that the sky was filled with a great veil of darkness, with its shining stars glistening brightly all over it. The air coming in from the window felt cool and breezy to her, with the distinctive feeling that it carried along whenever night had fallen.
With her little night light sitting on the table beside her that had illuminated her bedroom brightly enough, she turned her head over to her book.
"Chapter 1: An Introduction to the Elements of Harmony," the pegasus read aloud. "Looks like this is gonna be a long book. Wonder if I should skip to that special chapter?"
She looked up and away from the book, raising her left eyebrow.
"Hmm, something that Twilight personally saw in me a few times," she thought aloud. "I wonder...?"
After a few seconds, she then glanced at her book again, lowering her eyebrow.
"Since I already know how the Elements of Harmony work, I don't think I need this book to teach me about them again. I might as well skip these chapters for later, then."
Dash proceeded to turn several of the pages over with her right hoof. She flipped and flipped and flipped, until finally she stopped.
"Chapter 8: The Mysterious Incident. Here we go, then."
The pegasus began to read it, with her rose-colored eyes moving left and right with every second that passed, picking up every single word that had been written upon the pages and putting them into her mind. As time slowly passed and as she read ever deeper into the chapter, slowly, she learned of what supposedly happened thousands of years ago.
Long before the rule of the royal pony sisters, the peace and harmony that Equestria sheltered had been threatened by a mysterious evil force that was not from this world at all. It had come from another unknown world, the evil force had proclaimed, and it had come to this world to claim it as its own. Before all of ponykind knew it, this evil force had obliterated everything that it came across. The cities, towns, and villages were all blown into dust in a matter of time. As it laid waste and destruction through its path, the wielders of the Elements of Harmony at the time finally stood up against it, lest they let Equestria fall completely to this threat.
Unexpectedly, however, the Elements, at their known full potential, had failed to stop the evil force, much to the dismay of their wielders. In a surprise, one of the wielders was then put out of commission by the sheer strength of the darkness, which had rendered the Elements of Harmony inoperable. With all that had happened, it seemed like the evil force was truly impossible to defeat, and thus, it seemed that harmony was on the absolute brink of collapse.
But then, something unexpected had happened. A miracle, it was, and it came from one of the wielders who was truly defiant against the odds. This particular pony, a young, cobalt blue colt with a red mane and tail, firmly stood up against the dark force, never truly giving up hope unlike the others. His strong willpower and bravery was what kept him going, and losing them both would've meant losing all of Equestria as well. Thus, it was that very same willpower that ignited something within the Elements of Harmony. A deeper potential, it was, that had been hidden within them that nopony had known about until that moment.
According to the few records that tell of this incident, the book said, it was later found that not only the colt's willpower had awakened this hidden potential of the Elements, but he had also displayed all of their qualities in the past, from Honesty to Loyalty. Another requirement he had met was the backing of his friends, the other wielders, who had shouted that they were with him always. As Dash knew herself from reading this, it was that having a group of friends around and sharing feelings with those same friends creates the "spark" that was needed to unlock the sixth Element, Magic. At least, that was how Twilight interpreted it at the time, the unicorn once admitted.
Maybe just having the support of your friends creates the spark, Dash thought.
One final requirement that the colt had also met was merely the dire situation around him: that harmony was on the brink of collapse, which could actually be said for any of the times throughout history when the Elements of Harmony were used, the author had wrote. But this particular moment was different and unique, standing above all others. Unlike the many times where the Elements had succeeded in saving the world, this time, the Elements were actually overwhelmed by the sheer might of this evil force, even with their known full potential. They had tried to stop it, but they failed in the end when the force had fought back and with one of the wielders being put out of the picture completely. It truly seemed like it was the end of Harmony itself.
But it wasn't, thanks to this strong-willed colt. With the hidden potential of the Elements unlocked, the magic energies from his friends' Element necklaces began to transfer over to his necklace, and the miracle that would restore Harmony was born. Wielding the true full power of the Elements of Harmony in his hooves, the colt was able to finally obliterate the evil force once and for all, saving the world from it at last.
Dash blinked her eyes a few times at the text, widening her eyes a bit. A pony, a blue pony like herself with a strong will to boot, that wielded all of the Elements of Harmony at once and saved Equestria with them. It was really fascinating to her.
The pegasus read onwards. Before this incident happened, the historical records had also claimed that there had been signs beforehand; signs that had pinpointed the colt as being "the one with the strongest connection to Harmony itself. The one chosen by destiny to be the Flame of Harmony." What these signs actually were, however, the records did not say.
So, did it truly happen some untold thousands of years ago? The author asked. He believed it did happen long ago, and he believed it could happen anytime in the near future as well. But his fellow colleagues and scholars had disagreed with him otherwise.
As it is with pessimism, they had greatly questioned these so-called historical records. Do the Elements of Harmony really have a hidden side in them? At what exact point in time did this incident happen? "Thousands of years ago" seemed too vague. And if it truly was the hidden potential of them that this colt wielded, then why didn't Princess Celestia, who also wielded all of them at once and had met the other requirements as well, revert her sister back to her former state instead of sending her straight to the moon?
Dash stopped reading at that point. She didn't really care about a group of people arguing with one another unless she personally had a problem with it or was involved in it. The incident itself was what interested her more at the moment, as she glanced back at the previous pages of the chapter while keeping the question of validity in mind.
"Huh… Why am I getting this strange feeling that it really did happen long ago?" Dash thought aloud again, staring at the pages. "Well, true or not, I see what Twilight was talking about now. Strong will and bravery. One of the things needed to unlock the hidden potential of the Elements... Yep, definitely sounds like me alright."
Looking up, she pondered about one of the other requirements needed to unlock it. She knew she was strong and brave already, but did she exhibit all of the five Element qualities in the past? Can she exhibit all of them at all?
"Let's see. Besides Loyalty, the Element that I obviously represent... Well, at least I'm as honest as Applejack. I know that one very well. And I know I laugh a lot with others and for good reasons, like Pinkie Pie. But generosity and... kindness?"
Dash sighed, lowering and shaking her head. Both kindness and generosity were never her strong suit, especially kindness. She always saw it as a trait that displayed weakness, particularly when standing up against somepony who's looking for trouble, and this view of hers was all the more reinforced whenever she spent some time with Fluttershy. A true epitome of kindness, the yellow pegasus was. Perhaps the only pony who was most truest to her Element. Yet, this strongest trait of hers was what made her vulnerable to her surroundings as well, making her the shy pony that she was.
Due to this, Dash had to struggle with her on many occasions, often slowing her and the rest of their friends down as well. But despite this, Fluttershy did overcome her weaknesses in the end on some occasions, being the one to help all of them succeed in their objective.
Generosity, the trait of giving others the things they wanted or needed. It also meant giving away to others the things that a pony cherished the most, as Dash recalled, remembering when Rarity gave a piece of her tail to the sea serpent in order to "restore" his mustache. The blue pegasus had never thought about it, and never did she once generously gave things to others in the past. She could easily get something like ice cream for somepony, though, but giving somepony the things that she personally cherished the most... No, she couldn't see herself doing such a thing ever, and especially not with her various Wonderbolts merchandise and memorabilia.
"Well, strong willpower and bravery's definitely my game, but representing all of the Elements as well except for Magic... You can definitely count me out on that."
Dash sighed again, knowing that she couldn't possibly be the one who will unlock the hidden potential of the Elements of Harmony should such a disastrous scenario arise. That will have to be somepony else, she thought.
Still, this incident fascinated her for some reason, glancing back at some of the pages that she turned to with her hooves.
"'The miracle that would restore Harmony was born.' Hmm, it sounded like he... transformed?"
Having been a best friend of Twilight Sparkle since they first wielded the Elements together, Dash was no stranger to the natural, magical affinity that the purple unicorn had within, taking her place as the representative of the Element of Magic itself. The pegasus, along with the rest of their friends, had praised her as being the best magic user in Ponyville, becoming evident when she managed to put the rampaging Ursa Minor back to sleep a while back.
Ever since Dash began to read books a lot more often, she also stayed in Twilight's library home more often as well. Whilst reading books, the pegasus also gave witness to the unicorn's many magical experiments and trials, with some succeeding and some failing. Among all of them, transformations were ones she saw on a frequent basis, ranging from simple object transformations to increasing Spike's dragon fangs to a humongous size. Dash had found some of them hilarious, often causing her to roll on the floor in laughter.
Since the colt had the magical energies of all the Elements combined into one inside of his necklace and then using that combined power, from seeing Twilight's many experiments, it then made sense to Dash that the colt had to change his form to harness that power. There was simply no other way he could harness it, the pegasus thought.
So what did this colt exactly transform into? The pegasus pondered. The book did not say, but there was one thing in there that could be a hint.
"'The Flame of Harmony...' And what exactly were these signs from before?"
Further trying to ponder about it, the pegasus opened her mouth and a loud long yawn was heard from it. A weary feeling began to take over her body and being, spreading all over her until her face formed a droopy weary expression on it, her eyes looking half-closed.
"Man... Time for this awesome pony to get some rest, then," she said, with a weary smile on her face. "Guess I'll start reading this from the beginning tomorrow."
With the book in her hooves, she folded it and closed it shut, moving it towards the table and placing it on top of the pile of books on there. Then, moving herself back and upwards a bit, she moved her little lower hooves into the warm comforts of her bed blanket, the top of it adorned with what looked like her rainbow lightning cutie mark, but with a long curling tail that was extended from the lightning part of it. With her hooves in, she moved the rest of her body in and laid herself down.
Positioning herself a bit further with her upper hooves still out, she reached for her night light on the table, pressing the button on the top of it to turn it off. With the light off, the darkness of the night filled her room, further suiting her need to rest.
Putting her hooves inside the blanket, turning herself to the side, and facing the window, Dash's eyes began to close in until they were shut, drifting off to sleep with a smile on her face.
Wake up... destined one.
Dash's eyes snapped open from the darkness, orange colored light filling them at a slow pace as they tried to come into focus. Something had awakened her from the deep sleep she was in. A voice, it was, startling her as if a loud horn blared obnoxiously into the depths of her pony ears.
As her eyes moved left and right, wondering what she had just heard, she tilted her head up to assess her surroundings. No one or no pony was in the room, with the bright orange tint of the sunlight that was now radiating inward from the window. At least, with her half-focused eyes, she saw that no one was in here, but she needed to be sure.
Dash slowly sat up from the comforts of her bed, her body still half-asleep. A few seconds had passed, and her eyes became focused enough for her to clearly see.
She observed her surroundings once more, looking left and right. Again, no one was there, only the bright rays of the morning sun that filled her room.
Dash sighed deeply, closing her eyes and putting both of her hooves on her face, rubbing it a bit. What just awakened her from her deep slumber? She wondered. What was that voice she seemingly heard? Was it in here just now?
Moving her hooves away, she opened her eyes halfway, with the lingering feeling of deep slumber still within her. She took another sigh and then glanced at the open window to her left.
That was weird, she thought. Very weird. But whatever or whoever it was, at least it woke her up at the right time. At least it stopped her from sleeping in like she usually does most of the time.
Another couple of seconds pass. As her pony nose was the last to wake up, the cool air of the morning filled it in. Soon, though, she began to smell a strong, disorienting aroma as she looked at the window, causing her eyes to be fully open. To her, it smelled like a large pile of wood logs that was lit with a match.
"Huh...? Is something burning out there?"
Getting off of her bed and standing on all four hooves, Dash walked on over to the window, putting her front hooves on it and peeking out. She glanced around, trying to find the source of the burning smell.
"Oh, man, I hope it isn't a darn dragon camping inside of a mountain again."
From this view, nothing was in sight that pinpointed the source of the burning smell, only the black clouds of smoke above that partially covered the sky. She closely observed them, instead, trying to trace them back to their source.
"Hmm, they seemed to be coming from… Ponyville...?"
The thought of it startled Dash, with an uneasy feeling growing inside of her. Seeing the smoke’s trail made her worry, for any of her friends could be in danger if a fire really was engulfing the town. But even though the smoke seemed to be coming from it, she had to be sure that it was.
The pegasus unfolded her wings and pulled herself out of the window, jumping out of it. She descended past her floating cloud home and stopped herself at the bottom of it with her wings flapping to keep herself afloat. She turned towards the direction of the town and glanced at the distant town in whole.
The smoke seemed to be coming from, not the town itself, but a corner of it, past the large field of apple trees. From that, she knew in an instant that the smoke was coming from the centerpiece of Sweet Apple Acres.
"Oh, no. Applejack!"
With her eyes wide open and with the confirming thought that one of her friends was, indeed, in danger, the pegasus pushed and propelled herself forward with her wings flapping as hard as they could, flying over to the burning barn.
Huge, raging flames had engulfed the once-standing barn in whole, burning every single piece of it and turning them into ash. Already half of the building had crumbled and crashed to the ground, and the flames were just beginning to burn the rest of what was once the home of the Apple family.
Dash arrived at the burning place, stopping high above it and quickly scanning the area all over. The smoke became thicker than ever now, penetrating her lungs and making her cough a lot with the upper part of her hoof covering her mouth.
"What the hay happened here?! Did Applejack light the barn on fire by accident or something? Where the hay is she, anyway? Did she escape already? And what about the others?"
Glancing over the area further, the pegasus tried to look inside of the barn’s remnants, past the raging flames. Applejack couldn't possibly be in there. The flames had already nearly engulfed the interior of it. Unless she was stuck in a corner of it, that is.
Was Dash willing to go in there, even if it meant getting caught by the fire herself? If there was an indication that Applejack or any of the others were in there at all, she would definitely have to in order to save them. So far, there wasn't a sign that they could be in there.
Until, a cough was heard. A loud cough, it was, followed by another one. Somepony was trapped in the burning barn after all, as Dash could hear. Then, she heard a weak groaning voice coming from down there.
"...Rainbow Dash...? Ugh, is that... you up there?"
Albeit a weak voice it was, it had the female accent of a southern country pony. Dash recognized it in an instant, confirming her thoughts.
"Applejack! Hold on, I'm coming!"
Swiftly moving her hoof away and forming a determined look on her face, the pegasus propelled herself towards one of the holes in the barn's roof and entered it, stopping and floating above the flames that raged. With her hoof at the mouth again as the smoke became more intense and disorienting along with the seething heat that engulfed her in whole, she quickly found the orange pony slouching in a corner to the far left, several feet away, and trapped by the flames that kept her cornered against the barn walls that still stood.
"Rainbow..." Applejack uttered with a weak tone to her voice, coughing a bit. Her expression appeared to be very drained and very weak with a bit of a pain-stricken look to it, looking like she was on the verge of collapsing. Parts of her mane, tail, face, and body had been singed by the fire, leaving burnt marks all over her, and her cowboy hat was missing.
"Applejack! I'm gonna get you out of this place!" exclaimed Dash, coughing a lot. "Just don't let the fire get to you!"
"No! L-leave me..." The orange pony raised a hoof towards her.
"Leave me... It's too late to save me now. These darn flames are everywhere, and I don't, I don't want you to get caught up in them... I believe my time in this good ol' doggoned world... is finally up."
Dash became surprised at this, startling her and widening her eyes a bit. Applejack was already appearing to be giving up on trying to stay alive. She was willing to let her life go at this point. No, that's just plain stupid, the pegasus thought, not while she was here to save her.
The flames were beginning to move towards the orange pony now, creeping up towards her lower hooves like a snake that was itching to bite her.
"Guess this is it, then," the orange pony said. "I'll miss yo—"
"No! What in the hay are you thinking?!" Dash yelled, with a furious look on her face. "Telling me to leave when I could save you from the fire right now?! Are you crazy?! No, I'm getting you out of here right now, even if it means getting caught by the fire myself!"
The pegasus propelled herself towards her, with both hooves at the front. Descending downwards and flapping her wings as hard as she could, Dash plowed through the sea of flames to reach her friend. The fire singed and stung her as she went through them, making her grunt in pain. As much as it hurt her, she ignored the pain, focusing on saving the orange pony from the fire and nothing else.
Reaching her, she grabbed Applejack by the body and flew upwards with immediate haste, right as the flames had managed to reach the corner. She flew towards the nearest opening in the roof, trying to avoid the ever-increasing fire. Like a swift bullet, she exited out of the barn and flew away from the site of the fire as fast as her wings allowed.
Both ponies, coughing and gasping for air, descended towards the middle of a large, open, grassy field and landed there. Dash let go of Applejack, causing her to lie on her side, and the pegasus stood on all fours, continuing to cough loudly. Having come out of the burning barn, the pegasus felt like she had been drowning underwater in there, with no air to breathe in.
This was definitely not how she imagined her day to start, she thought.
"We're safe here now," she said, breathing heavily. She opened her eyes at Applejack, forming a furious look on her face again. "Darn it, A.J.! Were you really allowing the flames to get to you like that?! Especially when somepony's there to save you from them?!"
"I... I'm sorry, Rainbow Dash," Applejack said, still lying on her side with the same drained look on her face. "I just... didn't want you to..."
Dash sighed, calming down. "It's alright. Just don't die on me like that again. Besides, everypony's gonna cry their eyes out if the town's top tree-bucking pony’s suddenly gone in a fire like that."
Walking around her and stopping, with her upper hooves, Dash grabbed and picked Applejack up by the undersides of the orange pony’s upper hooves. The pegasus’ wings began to flap, slowly ascending into the air and taking her friend along.
"Even you, R.D.?" asked Applejack.
"Yes, even me, A.J. Even me," Dash said, with an admitting tone to her voice, sighing. "You're my friend after all, and friends gotta stick by each other, right?"
The orange pony nodded in response, with a faint smile on her face. "Still loyal as ever, eh?"
Dash nodded. With Applejack in her hooves, she turned around and observed the burning barn again.
"Is anypony else in there, by the way?" she asked. "I didn't see anything."
"No, they're not," Applejack replied. "Didn't I tell you the other day that the family had went on vacation to Las Pegasus?"
"Oh, right. I forgot."
"Yeah. Thank the apples that they're not in there. It would strike me to death if they were... Guess I now know how you feel, R.D."
Staring at the area for a bit, the pegasus then turned towards the town and flew on.
"Alright, let's get you to the hospital. You can tell me how the fire had started in the first place when we get there," Dash said.
"I will. It's not gonna be so surprising to you, though," the orange pony said.
"So you were trapped in there by one of them, huh?"
A mere few minutes had passed since the blue pegasus, Rainbow Dash, rescued her friend, Applejack, from the burning ruins of the Sweet Apple Acres barn. If it were not for the unshakable loyalty and bravery of the rainbow-maned pony, her friend would not have been here in the safe confines of Ponyville Hospital with the nurses tending to her burns and injuries.
Dash stood there in the room at the side of the bed with her, watching as the two nurses apply various healing salves and bandages all over her orange-coated body. Applejack twitched and jumped as the salves were being applied over her burn marks, from her chest to her sides and back, with a slightly painful expression on her face.
"A Changeling got you," Dash said, looking concerned, yet worried. "Darn! They've been everywhere recently."
"Yup," nodded Applejack, groaning with her teeth gritted a bit. "Well, now you know why I said it ain't gonna be so surprisin' to you... and I guess it was lookin' pretty darn likely that they were gonna attack us next after all."
Dash sighed, looking down. "Great. Just great."
Just then, the sounds of several hoof steps were heard in the open doorway to the left of the pegasus, making her look.
Who had just trampled through the doorway and had stopped to the left of her was the rest of their friends, standing there with worried and shocked looks on their face.
"Applejack! Are you alright?!" asked Twilight Sparkle, with an alarmed tone to her voice and her eyes slightly wide open. "We saw what happened out there!"
"Yeah, just fine and dandy," replied the orange pony, sarcastically. "Ow!"
A salve being placed on another burnt spot on her body had made her jump in pain again, gritting her teeth further.
"Oh my, you look horrible!" exclaimed Fluttershy, holding a hoof to her mouth as she saw the injuries.
"Did somepony pour a box of matches on your barn or something?!" asked Pinkie Pie, with her mouth being open and her eyes being wider than Twilight.
"What kind of nonsensical ruffian did this to you?!" asked Rarity. "That is, if it wasn't something else entirely..."
"No, you're right, Rarity," replied Applejack. "It was someone."
"Who?" asked Twilight.
The orange pony tilted her head down with her eyes downcast.
"Well... I thought it was her, but then, it turned out to be a gosh-darned trap," she said. "See, I was just outside the barn, doing my usual apple-buckin' business, when in the corner of my eye, I saw her: Apple Bloom."
"Huh? Apple Bloom? But, didn't she, Big Macintosh, and Granny Smith go on vacation not too long ago?" asked the purple unicorn, raising her eyebrow.
"Yeah, and that's what I thought. Not to mention that they ain't comin' back 'till a few weeks later. So when I saw her inside the barn standin' there, lookin' directly at me, I wondered, 'Have they come back already? Why so darn early?' So I went over to her and asked her. To my surprise, like some strange pony mime, she didn't say anything and took a few steps back into the barn, smilin’ at me for some reason. I followed her in, tryin’ to figure out what in the hay was going on, when all of a sudden, the barn doors had shut in behind me.
"And then, it happened," continued Applejack, tilting her head up to look at her friends. "I heard this awfully familiar hissin’ noise and, the next thing I knew, the filly who I thought was Apple Bloom had then changed into one of them."
"...Oh no, not here too...!" exclaimed Twilight, moving her head back a bit as she heard her. "So it was a Changeling that had trapped you in there?"
"Yup,” nodded the orange pony. “More likely, it was two of 'em workin' together."
"Oh, wow! They've been eeeeeeverywhere!!" exclaimed Pinkie Pie, shaking her head wildly as she yelled. "And now they're here, too?!"
"I guess it was inevitable, then," said Twilight, moving her head forward with her eyes cast to her lower left. "We've been getting several reports of Changelings attacking parts of Equestria lately, over the last week. And it's only been two weeks after my brother's wedding with Princess Cadence."
"I don't understand it," said Rarity, with a puzzled look. "Those nasty creatures should have been weakened by their combined love spells. Why are they attacking us again?"
"I don't know. But you're right. Judging from the reports, they still are very much weakened from the love spells, as apparently, they no longer have the ability to steal love from other ponies. Not to mention they can't stay changed for long."
"Hmm, if they're still weak," said Dash, turning to face Twilight. "Then maybe they're just attacking us for revenge? For stopping their queen from 'gaining her rightful place' or whatever?"
"Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if either of those were the reason," said Rarity.
Twilight shrugged. "Whatever the reason, we must be on alert at all times now, everypony, especially since two of them almost got Applejack here."
"Yup," nodded Applejack. "If it wasn't for Rainbow Dash here..."
"Yeah, I know. Well, at least I woke up at the right time," said Dash, looking back at her. The blue pony then glanced ahead at her friends. "Well, I'm gonna go see if our weather team's taken care of the fire yet. Get well soon, Applejack."
"Yeah, don't you worry 'bout me. I'll be back up like nothing's ever happened," said the orange pony. She twitched again. "Ow!"
Looking ahead, Dash proceeded towards the doorway, past the rest of the ponies, and she walked out. As she began to walk down one of the main green-painted hallways of the hospital, a thought had entered into her head, making her stop and glance back at the doorway that she just exited.
Did she really wake up at the right time, right when the gray, burning smoke was covering the morning sky? Or did something woke her up? No, it had definitely been something, and whereas she couldn't remember before, now she did. It had been a voice.
Destined one? She thought. Who or what was that voice? Did it know that Applejack needed saving?
It had been a rough morning for Rainbow Dash, waking up to find one of her best friends trapped in a barn fire and rescuing her from it. Now that it was over with, she could finally do her usual morning routine.
Dash was now on the way back to her cloud home, flying through the air with her front hooves forward and her wings flapping at a steady pace. She had just come back from the barn, having seen that the fires have at last been put out. All that now remained of the barn were pitch-black ruins of its former self. Dash and the others had no reason to worry, however. Through the combined might and partnership of Ponyville's citizens, the barn could be rebuilt in a matter of days.
She flew on. Nearing her home, something came into her view as she flew to the front door.
"Oh. Derpy," she noticed.
A gray-coated and blonde-maned pegasus mare was flapping her wings near the mailbox, wearing a blue hat on her head and a brown saddle bag around her. Hearing the sound of Dash’s flapping wings from nearby, the gray mare turned and glanced at her, looking at her with yellow-irised wall eyes.
"Special delivery for Rainbow Dash!" exclaimed Derpy, with a goofy-sounding tone.
"Yeah, yeah, thanks for the delivery," replied Dash as she stopped in front of the mailbox, still hovering in the air. "I hope you haven't been doing anything funny lately, Derpy?"
"Nnnope! Just the usual." The wall-eyed pegasus smiled.
"The usual... Right," Dash said with a so-so look, rolling her eyes as well. "If that means being your usual clumsy self..."
Sighing, the blue pegasus proceeded to open the mailbox and grab the mail with both hooves, observing each of them one by one and then shuffling them to the back.
"Junk, junk, junk. Where's this special delivery at, Der— Oh..."
Looking a bit surprised, Dash came across a light-blue envelope with clouded lightning symbols all over, sporting a stamp in the upper right-hand corner that depicted a city in the clouds with rainbows arching over it.
"To Rainbow Dash, from the captain of the Wonderbolts, Spitfire. Oh!" Dash smiled at this. "Wonder what she wants with me? I really hope it’s an invitation for me to finally join them!"
Becoming a bit excited as a slight grin appeared on her face, she proceeded to open it and pull out its contents. It appeared to be a letter, and she hastily unfolded it to read its contents, becoming increasingly excited.
"’Dear Rainbow Dash, in great recognition of your efforts of leading the weather team of Ponyville to migrate the lake water over to the raincloud-producing factories on Cloudsdale, and in recognition of your heroic deed to save all of us back at the Best Young Flyer's competition, I, Spitfire, Captain of the Wonderbolts...’ Oh my gosh. I really hope this is it!"
Dash had a wide grin on her face, with her eyes wide open. She had longed for this day ever since she was a little filly. Was she finally going to join her dream idols, the Wonderbolts? Did her grand day to shine finally arrive for her?
"...hereby grant you an invitation to... one of our... upcoming shows in... Manehattan...?"
The grin on her face slowly turned into a frown as she read it. As much as she eagerly wished it to be, her day to fulfill her lifelong dream did not arrive after all.
"Darn... So much for that," said Dash, disappointed at the letter. "After everything I've done, it's still not enough to prove myself as one of them? Come on! ...Huh?"
She noticed something at the bottom of the letter, below Spitfire's signature.
"’P.S. I'm sorry that we didn't get to hang out much last time at the Grand Galloping Gala, what with all the distractions of the other ponies at the time. Honestly, what can you do when you're famous celebrity daredevils? Tell you what, if you can make it to our show in Manehattan, we'll let you hang out with us for a long while. I hope this'll make up for what happened at the Gala."
Dash smiled at this. "Huh. Well, that's better at least. Maybe then I'll finally get to show 'em what I'm made of. Heh! I definitely won't miss this show, then."
In the same envelope where the letter was before, there was a small blue-colored ticket that she noticed and grabbed. The ticket appeared to be her special invitation to the show, and written upon it, below the eye-catching Wonderbolts logo, was the date, time, and location of the show. Seeing the date and time suddenly surprised her.
"Oh snap! It's tonight?! Wow, talk about catching you off-guard here! Guess I better tell the others then, in case they need me tonight."
Putting both the letter and the ticket back into the envelope, the blue pegasus turned and headed towards the front door of her cloud home. Just as she did, though, she noticed Derpy floating over one of the pools of rainbow liquid that was a part of her home, looking at it with a curious expression.
"Uh, Derpy? What are you doing over there?" asked Dash, with an eyebrow raised at her.
"Nothing. Just looking at it," replied the gray pegasus, smiling.
"Riiiight... You do know that rainbow liquid will put your tongue on fire if you try to drink it, right?"
"Oh, I know. It's just that it's kinda... charming to look at."
The blue pegasus sighed and rolled her eyes again, looking at the door afterward.
"Whatever, Derpy. Just don't jump in it, okay? Especially if you do a cannonball into it."
Putting the gray pegasus at the back of her mind, Dash opened the door by the knob and entered her home. Of all the things to do, satisfying her hunger of the morning was the first on her mind.
"So, they invited you to a show, huh?"
"Yep! That, and Spitfire's allowing me to hang out with them after the show for a long while. 'Cause of, you know, what happened at the Gala a while back."
It had been five hours since Dash received the letter from the Wonderbolts. After five hours of doing her daily routine as well as preparing for the trip, now the only thing left to do was to inform her friends of her miles-long trip. Miles-long, if she was just an average pegasus flying at the speed of a small bird. But she wasn't. Amongst all of her abilities, she had something that was only unique to her. Something that was merely originally thought to be an old mare's tale.
With her saddle bag on, the pegasus now stood at the doorstep of Ponyville's local library, the home of the purple unicorn, Twilight Sparkle, who stood on the other side of the doorway smiling at Dash.
"Oh, that's great," said the unicorn. "Now that you mentioned it, yeah, none of us had a really great time back then. I mean… well, let’s see.”
She glanced upward as she thought back to the time in the Gala.
“Yeah, Fluttershy went crazy, Rarity was frustrated with the Prince, Applejack couldn't sell any of her food... It was the worst night ever before we gathered up and turned it into the best night ever. Heh heh... But yeah, good to see them allowing you to hang out with them for a while, especially since you saved them before," she said, looking back down at the pegasus.
"Yeah," nodded Dash, closing her eyes with a proud smile on her face. "I'm hoping for them to check out what I can do, though, since I didn't get to show off my awesome skills to them back then. Well, I did, but you know..."
Opening her eyes, she sighed happily. "There's no way they'll miss it this time!"
Hearing her, the purple unicorn rolled her eyes at the pegasus, chuckling in response. "Riiiiight... Hehehe."
Just then, Twilight was reminded of something, causing her to look back inside the library for a brief bit before glancing back at Dash.
"Oh, hey. By the way, Rainbow Dash, did you begin reading that book on the Elements of Harmony yet?" she asked.
"Oh, yeah. I did… Though, I sorta only skipped to the chapter that explained the mysterious incident that supposedly happened long ago," replied Dash, scratching her rainbow mane with her left hoof and with her smile fading.
"Ah, I see. Then, did you get what I meant when I said that there was something in there that reminded me of you?"
"Yeah, I know now... Strong willpower and bravery. Something I definitely know that I've displayed in the past many times before. One of the things needed to unlock the hidden power of the Elements of Harmony."
"Hehe. Yep! That one.” the unicorn said, nodding. “Well, you've heard me saying this before, but... your strong will and bravery, I wish I had them myself, Rainbow Dash. After all, there were times where I really thought that you'd be the one to save the day."
"Really?" asked the pegasus, looking slightly surprised.
The unicorn nodded. "That, and when both Trixie and the Flim Flam Brothers ran away from us, you tried to go after them. You wanted them to personally pay for what they've did, didn't you?"
"Yeah, but… you always said that they needed to learn on their own, Twilight." said Dash, looking away while she raised and lowered her hoof slightly. "I think it'd just be easier if they learned the hard way, but..."
The pegasus shrugged. Then, she glanced at the unicorn. "Anyway, aren't you brave yourself, Twilight? You were the one who put that Ursa Minor to sleep after all, along with other things."
"Yeah, I did do those things in the past... But am I brave enough to kick a dragon right in the face, or destroy a barn with crazy skills and with a rainbow explosion to boot?" asked the unicorn, turning her head slightly with a sly smile on her face.
"...Okay, yeah. I guess I am the bravest after all. Hehe," chuckled Dash, nervously.
Twilight nodded again.
"But, as for that other requirement," said Dash. "The one where you gotta represent all of the Elements of Harmony at once... As much as I really hate to admit it, I don't think I'm fit out for that, Twilight."
"Oh, that one... Yeah, I see what you mean."
"Yeah, and I don't think it needs explaining, really," the pegasus said, her eyes downcast with a frown on her face.
Looking up and away from Dash, Twilight pondered about it with her hoof touching her chin. The unicorn knew very much that being kind and generous were not exactly Dash's strong suit. As she saw in the past, the blue pegasus had often been rude, blunt, and selfish at times, not to mention being a braggart about things. But at the same time, Dash had learned through her actions. She had learned these lessons of friendship, just as Twilight herself learned them as well as to study them, being chosen to do so by Princess Celestia.
The same could be said for the rest of her friends as well, she realized, and she also further realized something else as well. Thinking back to the time when they were finding the Elements and what each of them did for their respective Element, using that as a reference point, she realized that nearly all of them had shown enough in order to represent all of the Elements at once, through their later lessons of friendship.
Nearly, with Dash being the exception. She really hadn't shown enough kindness and generosity in the past, if at all. But that won't stop her from learning in the future, Twilight thought, especially since the pegasus had already met the other requirement and had continued to meet it ever since.
If the current known potential of the Elements of Harmony would ever fail to stop something that would threaten the world, Dash would be the only one left to stand against the darkness and unlock the hidden potential of the Elements. The only one out of them all with the strongest willpower, and it'd only happen if she successfully represented all of the Elements at once as well.
Of course, however, there was still the matter of whether or not the historical records that were proclaiming such a thing were accurate or not.
Were they? No one knew for certain.
"...Uh, Twilight?" The pegasus noticed the deep thoughtful look on Twilight's face.
The unicorn jumped a bit, snapping her out of it.
"Oh, uh, sorry about that. Deep in thought again," she said, chuckling nervously and lowering her hoof. "Yeah, I definitely know what you mean, Rainbow. But, even so, it doesn't mean you can't learn from there. Remember when you used to see reading books as nothing more than a thing that eggheads love to do?"
"Yeah, definitely, and I know what you're trying to get at. But I doubt that I'll ever show kindness and generosity towards somepony. That's... just the way I am, really."
Dash turned around and glanced around at the town.
"Oh well, no big deal," she said. "We don't really know if the Elements of Harmony do have a hidden power or not, anyway. Besides, we easily took out both Nightmare Moon and Discord with them, didn't we? They're strong enough as it is."
"Yeah... as long as we can keep our friendship together, that is," Twilight said.
"Ha! Nothing can break our friendship," said Dash with a determined smile. "Dopey Discord tried to do that, and it didn't last long, did it?"
"Then it’s safe to say that we're simply unstoppable!"
Twilight chuckled. "You definitely got that right."
Dash gazed up to the sky, now orange-tinted as the sun began its descent towards the other side of the world, enveloping the town in its rays of light.
"Well, I gotta go, Twilight. Night is coming, and I definitely don't want to miss this show."
"Alright, then. Don't let me stop you from going. See you, Rainbow Dash."
The pegasus grinned and nodded back to her. Then, lowering herself to the ground, unfolding her wings, and then quickly flapping them, Dash skyrocketed high into the air and then took off forward with haste, fading into the direction ahead of her.
Observing her friend's departure, Twilight then thought of something as she watched, her smile fading away.
"...The day when darkness overwhelms us and the full potential of the Elements is not enough to stop it... Let's hope that day never comes."
No longer seeing her friend now, the unicorn turned and walked back into her home, closing the door behind her.
"The Flame of Harmony... Hmm..."
As the sun continued to descend into darkness, flying high above the ground and amongst the clouds, Rainbow Dash was well on her way to her destination. With each flap of her wings, her speed continued to increase until the natural forces of the wind stopped her from gaining more speed.
She grinned, her mane flowing backwards as she flew, fighting against the aerodynamic forces around her. To her, as she knew from within, the forces of the wind were merely walls to be broken apart and barriers to be taken down. Voices that were distant to her. Voices that were not worth listening.
It was like a window-less jail to her, with no sunlight penetrating the inside. It was a jail that was meant to be escaped from.
She pushed herself, flapping her wings harder, with her front hooves out in front of her. Soon enough, a white cone slowly appeared around her that was also becoming more arrow-shaped, pointing in the direction ahead of her. The aerodynamic forces tried to stop her, putting more pressure on her entire being. Yet, all it served to do was motivate her even further, like cracks of the earth that were opening up to its core.
Flapping her wings even harder, the cone around her became more arrow-like than before, looking as if something was struggling to burst itself out of a container. A colorful rainbow aura then appeared around her, swirling around her as she continued to fight against the winds.
If someone were to tell her one reason why she should stay within this prison, she would not listen to it. She did not need a reason at all.
She would refuse it, for it would conflict with the needs and wishes of her very soul within.
The container had finally been broken apart, and Dash was set free. A massive, giant, circular explosion of colors erupted at the point of the break. The huge, circular rainbow then spread outwards, growing larger and larger until it was large enough to be spotted from the surrounding great distances. At the epicenter of the great circular rainbow, a long trail of sparkling rainbow was seen leading into the distance far ahead in the direction she flew.
Free of her confines and performing her one favorite move that she had become a master of, the Sonic Rainboom, Rainbow Dash now zoomed through the skies and clouds at a speed faster than sound itself, with her mane and tail leaving a long stream of sparkling rainbow behind her. She was living up to her reputation as the fastest flyer in all of Equestria.
The sun had set, and night had fallen over the world of Equestria. The sky was now a darker shade of its former self, with the bright white moon and several shining stars littered across it like sparkling dust.
The blue pegasus was now sitting in a seat that was one of many around her. The many rows of seemingly endless seats had stretched on for nearly half a mile, going around and forming the circular shape of a bowl. Surrounding her were thousands and thousands of pony crowds that were cheering loudly, with some of their hooves up in the air as they cheered and with nothing but sheer excitement on their faces.
Although the stadium had a large, open, green strip of grass in the middle of it, what the massive pony crowds were cheering at was what flew in the air above them all.
A group of six pegasi, dressed in blue uniforms with lightning symbols all over them, was swiftly flying above the crowds below, emitting long trails of thundering gray storms behind them as they flew. After flying over the crowds, the six pegasi shifted their direction towards the sky and then immediately shifted towards the direction which they first flew from, performing a U-turn. As they flew in that direction, two of the pegasi then deviated from the group, flying away from them and spinning around sideways like a fan. The two then flew to each other, and before they came close to each other, they immediately flew upwards, spinning again. Then, they flew down, performing a full loop that had them flying close to each other again. They looped and looped and looped as gracefully as they could.
The crowds below the acrobatic pegasi continued to cheer on for them, basking in the great performance that they displayed. But none of them were as excited and happy as the rainbow-maned pegasus that was sitting amongst them.
With a happy look on her face, her mouth open, and her eyes as open as they could possibly be, Dash sat there, watching her idols, the Wonderbolts, perform in the sky above. Indeed, they were such stylish acrobats, performing to the best of their abilities with grace and flair. Something she could easily do with her own abilities as she had proved to the Wonderbolts in the past.
With Spitfire, their captain, inviting her to hang out with them after the show, perhaps the moment for her to shine will finally come.
A few minutes passed by. The crowd was just as excited as before, if not more excited since the Wonderbolts were now at their peak state, performing more dynamic acrobatics by the second.
As she watched on, suddenly, Dash spotted something directly ahead of her on the other side of the stadium and in the middle of the crowd that sat there. A group of ponies sitting there, to her sudden surprise, were engulfed in a bright green flash. The flash then disappeared, and sitting there now weren't the ponies that they were before. They were something that Dash recognized all too well.
“Changelings?!” she exclaimed, jerking her head forward with a look of great surprise.
The ponies sitting around the transformed beings, black insect creatures with bluish-green wings and bug eyes, saw them in an instant, screaming in horror and catching the attention of everypony in the stadium. Upon sight of them, more and more horrifying screams were heard, and everypony began to jump out of their seats and run for the nearest exit on sight, hoofing it out as fast as they could.
As each of the Wonderbolts ceased their performance and turned their attention to the source of the horror, the ten Changelings spread out from their seats and ascended into the air, with their insect wings buzzing at a fast pace. A green glow appeared on some of their black horns, and a second later, green-colored energy blasts were shot out of them, heading straight for the escaping ponies.
The blasts hit on impact. Sections of the stadium blew up in fire, smoke, and debris, quaking the place to its very foundation. The explosions knocked some of the fleeing ponies away, injuring them in the process. The Changelings continued their fire, tearing the stadium apart.
With her mouth open in shock and surprise at this sudden turn of events, Dash witnessed the continuous destruction that surrounded her. As the explosions increased, so did the destruction and casualties that were inflicted with every passing second. Then, she quickly saw one of the Changelings turn towards the section of the stadium where she was in, with its horn glowing bright green.
The insect creature fired its blast directly towards her, swiftly approaching her. In the second before it hit, the pegasus unfolded her wings and quickly flapped them, propelling herself straight into the air above. The seat below her exploded in fire and smoke, leaving behind burnt debris and a small smoking crater.
Dash saw the explosion below her, floating in the air with her saddle bag still on her.
“That was close!”
Seeing the smoking crater below, the sounds of screaming and continuous destruction then caught her attention again. As she continued to witness the destruction and the horrified looks of the fleeing ponies, her shocked expression then changed into a frowning one, with her eyes laden with anger.
“Darn Changelings! Surprising everypony like that is so not cool. I gotta do something before more of the ponies get hurt! ...Huh?”
Suddenly, in the corner of her eye and to the left of her, she noticed a Changeling flying towards one of the Wonderbolts in the air, who was unaware of the creature approaching from behind. As it approached, the creature opened its fangs, ready to jump on its unsuspecting prey.
Hearing Dash's yell from the right of her, the suited pegasus then quickly noticed the creature behind her, seeing its open fangs and surprising her. Just as it was about to bite, the creature was suddenly punched to its face by a blue hoof, with the strong force of it knocking the creature away from its target. Hearing the yell and the punching sound, the Wonderbolts turned to see who had just saved one of their members.
“You aren't laying a hoof on one of the Wonderbolts, you ugly creep!” exclaimed Dash, angry at the Changeling she just punched away.
Falling from above, the Changeling swiftly crashed onto one of the seats, hitting it hard and rebounding off of it. It then crashed onto another seat below, staying there as pain surged through it.
“Yeah, that'll teach you,” Dash said, seeing it lay there.
“Rainbow Dash! You made it here!”
“Huh? Oh, Spitfire!”
Hearing her voice, Dash turned and faced the group's Captain who was approaching her, sporting a mane and tail that resembled an orange flame.
“Did that Changeling sneaked up on us just now?” she asked.
“I believe it just did, Captain,” replied the Wonderbolt next to Dash.
“Yeah, it definitely did. You would've been a total goner if I hadn't knocked it away,” said the blue pegasus. “And yeah, I'm here. I would never miss out on an invitation like that, Spitfire!”
“I see. Good to have you here, then, Rainbow,” said the Captain.
“You're still letting me hang out with you guys after this, right?”
“Yeah, definitely. But right now, we got a big problem on our hooves here.”
“Right! The Changelings!”
The group of pegasi refocused their attention on the terrorizing insect creatures, only to notice that they suddenly seemed to be looking at one of their own who was just knocked out. To the surprise of the pegasi, all of the Changelings then gazed up to them, hissing with an angry tone.
“Uh oh. Looks like they've noticed,” observed Soarin', looking a bit afraid.
Seeing them, Dash flew ahead of Spitfire and stopped, gritting her teeth.
“It's me they want!”
With their insect wings buzzing again, the group of Changelings turned and faced towards the pegasi above, hissing again and ignoring the escaping ponies they were preying upon.
“Guys, Spitfire... I know I'm not one of you yet, and I know I shouldn't be telling you what to do,” said Dash, frowning at the creatures below. “But could you please get everypony out of here before these creeps go after them again?”
“Huh? But what about you, Rainbow?” asked Spitfire. “You think you can take them on by yourself? There are a lot of them down there.”
A smile of confidence appeared on the face of the blue pegasus.
“I'd be lying if I didn't think I could take them on. I never lie when it comes to my awesome skills! Trust me!”
Spitfire stared at her for a bit. Could Dash really take on nine of the remaining Changelings by herself? Doing it seemed like she was in for a world of hurt. Then again, this was the one who saved the Wonderbolts from their falling doom a while back by performing the Sonic Rainboom. Hearing stories of her blowing up a farm in a rainbow explosion with her body alone and leaving out unscathed also further reminded the Captain, as well as being there personally to see the blue pegasus lead the weather team of Ponyville lift up the lake water to the factories on Cloudsdale.
Last but not least, Dash also took on these creatures before with the rest of her friends when the invasion of Canterlot happened, and she took on a lot of them. If there were any doubts about her that needed to be erased, it was her skills, indeed. Dash was very capable of what she could do, and she definitely wouldn't lie about it either, having proven her skills time and time again.
“...Right!” Spitfire nodded. “Okay, then!”
Turning around, she faced her team with a look of determination.
“Wonderbolts, prepare to evacuate! Get everypony out of this stadium immediately! That's an order!” she exclaimed.
Just as she ordered, the team nodded in acknowledgment and flew out, flying in separate directions and heading towards the escaping scattered ponies below.
“Rainbow Dash?” called the Captain, looking back at her.
“When this is over, meet us at the Haystack Hotel in Manehattan here, as I promised in the letter.”
“Oh, right! Yeah, I'll definitely be there! Don't worry!”
The Captain nodded, flying off afterward.
Dash refocused her attention on the Changelings below, grinning with confidence. “Well, what are you guys waiting for? I did just knock out one of your friends after all!”
The group of creatures stayed there, continuing to hiss angrily at her. Unbeknownst to her, however, one of them was secretly speaking to someone telepathically.
My queen, one of the wielders of the Elements of Harmony is here somehow. She just knocked out one of ours, and now those suited pegasi are helping the ponies escape. What should we do?!
Hmm? One of the accursed ponies that helped stop our invasion is there...? Hmm, this would help my plan greatly, replied a mysterious, sinister, female voice. Take care of her. Do not leave her alive. If we can get her out of the picture, it will render the Elements of Harmony inoperable, and then no one will be able to stop us from reviving him.
What about the rest of the ponies?
Spare them. Equestria has more than what we need to do this. In fact, it is almost infinite. The city you are in is but a tiny fraction of it... For now, focus on the Element wielder. Do not fail me. Succeed, and you shall be rewarded.
It shall be done, my queen.
With their wings buzzing louder than before, the group of Changelings took off and ascended towards Dash. Seeing them coming, she prepared herself, with her grin fading into a frown.
Soon enough, the nine creatures surrounded her, still hissing at her angrily with some of them snarling at her as well. With her head slightly lowered and her eye pupils moving left and right, Dash floated there with a firm look, waiting for them to make their move.
A second passed, and the creature to her very right began to fly over to her. At the same time, the creature to her very left began to move as well. Both of them were coming straight at her, with their fangs open and their hooves pulled back, ready to swing at her.
They neared her, but before they could swing at her, Dash quickly swung her left hoof at the right creature, hitting its face and knocking it away. Then, she quickly swung her right hoof up towards the left creature’s jaw, knocking it and its entire body upwards with the creature falling down afterward.
Seeing two Changelings coming at her from ahead, she faced them. The two swung their hooves at her, but with her wings, she propelled herself upward, dodging their attacks and letting them fly below her. In the immediate half-second after their pass, she quickly descended and kicked both of them with her lower hooves, bucking them away.
The five remaining Changelings surrounding her in the air had brightened up their pointed horns, aiming their charged energy at her as she saw.
“This again, huh?”
The horns fired at her. Just as the blasts neared her, Dash propelled herself upwards again, dodging them. She then descended, flew over to the creature to her right, and stopped next to it. With her in close proximity, it decided to directly approach and attack her with its hoof when the other four creatures fired their horns at her. Seeing them coming, the blue pegasus quickly grabbed the creature and yanked it to the front of her, turning towards the incoming blasts and using it as a shield against them. The creature's blue eyes opened widely as the blasts came for it. Before they hit it, Dash let go and swiftly flew backwards, letting the blasts explode on the lone Changeling.
The resulting fire dissipated, and the creature fell down with hot smoke trailing from it.
“Heh heh! Now that's what I call friendly fire!” Dash grinned, looking at the fallen creature. She then glanced at the four of them ahead. “Now it’s just you guys. Better back off now. My hooves are pretty strong, you know!”
Disregarding her threats, the four Changelings charged their horns again, aiming them at her. They definitely weren't going to back off, she thought.
“You asked for it, then! Hyah!”
Flapping her wings as fast as she could, Dash took off to her left in blazing speed. Turning right and nearing one of them, the pegasus directly bashed her head against the Changeling's body. As the creature's eyes popped open with pain shooting from within, Dash kept her head against it with her wings still flapping rapidly, effectively moving it back and taking it along with her as she aimed for the next Changeling.
Seeing her, the three creatures tried to move out of the way, but in one fell swoop, Dash hit all of them as she circled around, stacking the helpless Changelings against her head one by one.
“Your play is over! Time for you to exit the stage!”
Dash flapped her wings even faster, increasing her speed, as she flew towards the outside surroundings of the stadium with the creatures still on her head. Nearing the side of the stadium, with her strength, she pushed her head against the creatures and lifted her head upward, coming to a complete halt with her wings and stopping there with the Changelings being thrown upward and far ahead of her in the air. Having been catapulted from her, the creatures then faded into the distance, falling downward as their speed slowed down.
With the four of them thrown out of the area, Dash turned around and looked to see if there were any of them that were still up and buzzing. As she saw, the rest of them still in the stadium were scattered all over, laying there and reeling in pain due to Dash's attacks and their resulting fall from the air.
“All of them are down. I oughta ask them why they're here, then.”
In the center of the grass field below, one of the Changelings laid there on its back, groaning painfully and moving left and right to ward off the pain. The sound of hoof steps was heard as well as the stirring of the ground that it felt. With its blue bug eyes, it looked at who had just landed a few feet from it.
“Hey, mind answering something for me, bug eyes?” asked Dash, looking firm and walking towards the creature on all fours. “Why are you creeps here? Why are you attacking ponies all over Equestria? To steal the love from us to satisfy your appetite, like last time? 'Cause I heard that you actually lost the ability to steal from us. Besides, that blast from Princess Cadence and Shining Armor should've taught you all a big lesson, anyway!”
The creature continued to groan painfully, not answering the pegasus' questions. Then, a second later, its horn began to emit a bright green glow, making Dash stop and take a step back at the sight of it, preparing for whatever the creature was going to do.
Out of nowhere, an echoing voice was heard that seemingly surrounded Dash, and it was one that she recognized.
“Ah, the wielder of the Element of Loyalty, Rainbow Dash... How surprising that you would be there at that city.”
“...You! The queen of the Changelings!” exclaimed Dash, gritting her teeth as she looked around for the source of the voice. “Show yourself!”
“Ha ha ha ha ha! How can I show myself when I'm not even there? No, my little pony, I am far away from where you are now. I am simply using my dear loving Changeling here to communicate with you.”
The pegasus growled in response, glancing at the downed creature before her.
“You know, Rainbow Dash, I must admit. I underestimated you,” the queen said, her voice continuing to echo. “You and your little pony friends put on quite a show for us back when we invaded Canterlot. If it wasn't for my would-be betrothed's annoying little sister, I would have succeeded, and my dear children would have had a whole new world for them to feed upon... But now, we can make up for that failure, with this grand scheme that we've now put into motion.”
“...And that is?”
“Ha ha ha! Do you think I'm going to reveal such a great plan to you, now that I know who you really are? The wielders of the only magic that can truly put a stop to us? Never... This land will soon be ours, and once we succeed, you will never be able to stop us this time, even with the Elements of Harmony at your disposal.”
Dash growled. “Oh yeah?! Think again, you creep! If we can stop you before, we can stop you again!”
“So you believe. But beliefs can be false, and we aim to prove that... Hm hm hmmm. Now then, if you will excuse me, my children and I have to... consume. Farewell, my little pony.”
“Hey, wait! I'm not done with you—”
Before Dash could finish, suddenly, the glow around the horn began to envelop the creature in whole, and within a matter of seconds, a brief bright flash occurred.
To her surprise, the creature was gone, having seemingly teleported out of sight. Soon, she noticed brief glimpses of green flashes all around, making her look at them. The Changelings she had just knocked out were now gone from the stadium, and only burning and scattered debris remain around her.
Consume? She thought. That was the last word the Queen of the Changelings had uttered. Having just heard that, it could only mean one thing. The Changelings still have the ability to steal love from innocent ponies and were still bent on taking over Equestria after all.
With the threat of the Changelings still out there and with some kind of mysterious plan that they were enacting right now, she definitely needed to inform both Twilight and Princess Celestia as soon as she made it back to Ponyville.
That can wait, though, she thought. After all, she took a long trip to get to this place, and it would likely be the same on the way back.
Turning around, Dash glanced at one of the tall steel buildings in the distance ahead of her, knowing that there was an opportunity waiting for her that she could not miss.
“Mmmm! What a delicious-looking pie this is!”
“Yep. You wanted to try it out after the performance, right? Well, here it is. Dig in, big guy.”
“Don't mind that I do!”
Sitting down in a chair, the cobalt-maned colt proceeded to dig his muzzle into the pie that was on the table before him, situated in a corner on one of the top floors where the restaurant of the Haystack Hotel was located. To the right of him stood both Spitfire and Rainbow Dash, watching him happily dig his face into the pie and making a slight mess.
Dash chuckled at this. “Soarin' sure loves pies, doesn't he?”
“He definitely does,” replied Spitfire, smiling. “And apple-flavored pie just happens to be his favorite, albeit with whipped cream on top of it this time.”
“I guess he'd have a field day with Applejack if you guys had a show at Ponyville. Man.”
The orange-maned pony chuckled, watching as Soarin' continued to eat with the mess getting bigger, covering up half of his face.
Spitfire sighed, smiling as she turned around to face the glass behind her that had a great view of Manehattan itself. Noticing her, Dash turned around as well, and both of them now stared at the many tall buildings and skyscrapers that were lit brightly, like burning candles in a veil of darkness.
“Well, like I said earlier, I'm glad you made it here, Rainbow Dash,” Spitfire said. “We really didn’t get to talk much at the Gala after all, as, you know, we were constantly preoccupied.”
“Hey, it's no big deal, really!” Dash exclaimed. “I was just happy to see you guys there, that's all, even if you had to deal with all the crazy distractions and whatnot.”
“Yeah, it was crazy, alright. Well, that's what happens when you're famous. You have a fan here and there who's trying to get your autograph, alongside other things.”
“Yeah, I know how that's like,” Dash said, scratching her head with her hoof and being reminded of how she became a hero back in Ponyville some time back, gathering some fanfare before it went to her head as she just thought. She certainly had to learn a lesson about it.
Spitfire nodded. “Speaking of the Gala, by the way, I heard that it didn't go so well for your friends as well.”
“Oh, yeah, it definitely didn't. I mean, Applejack tried to sell her food, Pinkie Pie thought it was her kind of party when it wasn't, Rarity had an embarrassing time with the Prince, Fluttershy went totally crazy over the animals, and Twilight didn't get to spend enough time with Princess Celestia 'cause she kept on getting distracted… like you guys, really.”
”Huh, I see. Good to know we weren't the only ones, then,” the yellow pony noted, blinking in surprise a bit.
“Yeah. It was pretty much the worst night ever for all of us, really. But we made up for that by grouping up together and turned it into the best night ever. Now that was fun.”
Spitfire chuckled, looking at her. “I'm glad it ended up that way, then.”
“Yep!” Dash exclaimed, smiling and nodding.
Hearing all of that, however, had made the Captain realize something, causing her to look away and frown at the floor with her orange eyes filled with indecision in them.
The blue pony noticed her. “Huh? What's wrong, Captain?”
After a second, Spitfire then glanced ahead at the view of the city.
“Rainbow Dash... Was it always your lifelong dream to join us?”
Hearing that, Dash jumped a bit in excitement, with her eyes wide open. She quickly turned to face her. Could this be it at last? She thought.
“Y-Yeah! It-it's always been my dream, Captain Spitfire!” she exclaimed, stuttering a bit with utter excitement on her face. “Ever since I was a little filly and all. In fact, the only reason why I attended the Gala was to—”
“Prove yourself to us?” interrupted Spitfire. “Yeah, I think I know that already, Rainbow.”
“Yeah. Well, we didn't exactly see them, but we certainly heard what you tried to do to get our attention at the Gala. They didn't exactly work, did they?”
“...Uh, I guess not,” Dash said, nervously chuckling with her eyes looking left and right. “But there was no harm in trying, really. I did what I could.”
“Certainly... Well, to be honest, Rainbow Dash, I think you've proved yourself to us more than enough.”
The Captain turned to face her, smiling. “Yep. We haven't forgotten what happened at the Best Young Flyer's Competition in Cloudsdale, Rainbow Dash. With your spectacular Sonic Rainboom, it was you who saved us from the inevitable, and it was you who won the competition in the end, amazing everypony with it. And then, just recently at the Canterlot Wedding, you performed the Sonic Rainboom again and in an instant that time.”
Dash chuckled at this, grinning with a hint of shyness on her. “Yeah. I've prepared myself a lot for that… But, yeah, I guess you could say that I've become a master of pulling it off now.”
“I see. Heh heh, yeah, if it’s anything ponies expect when they see us at a show, it's that we gotta have the skills to perform flawlessly. And you definitely have them, Rainbow. Not only that,” continued Spitfire, walking closer to Dash and stopping there right in front of her. “But you've also proven that you have quite the leadership skills, when you led your weather team to lift up that lake of water up towards Cloudsdale. Not to mention you pushed your team to their limits, intent on breaking the wingpower record... even though you didn't manage to in the end.”
“Yeah... I'm still kinda disappointed about that. But you're right. We did lift the water up with enough wingpower after all. Heh, if it wasn't for Fluttershy...”
“Right. I'm glad she did it as well.”
Dash nodded in agreement. The Captain gazed over at the view of the city again.
“So, with all of that,” she said. “Yeah, I think you're definitely Wonderbolt material now, Rainbow. Definitely.”
Oh my gosh, this is it, Dash thought, with a wide excited grin on her face. The day for her to fulfill her lifelong dream had finally arrived.
“What's stopping you, then?” asked Dash, her body shaking with excitement. “Come on, spit it out!”
Noticing her, Spitfire knew Dash was eagerly waiting for her final word. However, deep down, the Captain also knew something about her that could bring about a compromise. A great one, she just thought. One that could have wider long-term consequences if she were to recruit Dash into her team now. Consequences that Dash would not see, unless the Captain was willing to tell her.
“...Hmm.” Spitfire looked down and frowned, her downcast orange eyes filled with indecision again and a bit of sadness. She wasn't about to willingly crush Dash's lifelong dream to join them either if she told her, as it would likely make her very depressed in the end. But on the other hoof, again, the consequences will likely happen if the Captain didn't tell her. And unfortunately, it was the latter she was slowly in favor of, as those long-term consequences would not only affect them both, but everything around them, as they know it, as well.
“...Spitfire?” noticed Dash, seeing the Captain's sad face and calming down, her grin fading away. “What's wrong?”
The Captain sighed. “Rainbow Dash... You're one of the wielders of the Elements of Harmony, are you not?”
“Huh…? Well, yeah, I am. But what's that got to do with this, captain?”
“Well, as much as you've proven yourself to be a great potential member of the Wonderbolts, there's... a problem with letting you join us.”
“What? What sort of problem?” the blue pegasus asked, now with a worried look on her face.
Spitfire glanced at her, still with the sad expression. Then, she began to walk away from the view of the city.
“As you know, the Wonderbolts are famously renowned all over Equestria. Thus, we travel to different places all over to perform for them, as well as to make money, of course,” she explained, stopping a few feet away from Dash and looking downward. “Thing is, it takes us a long time to travel between each place, from a few hours to a day at most... Rainbow, you're from Ponyville, where your friends, the rest of the Element wielders, live as well. With the six of you being together, you hold the most powerful magic ever seen in Equestria right in your hooves, and you've saved the world twice now with that same powerful magic.
“So, if we let you join, Rainbow Dash,” she continued, turning towards her, looking at her as well. “If Equestria ever gets attacked by some evil force again, the Elements of Harmony won't work… because you'll be with us and not with your friends, as we are always on the move. Can you imagine Equestria being devastated, all because you chose to pursue your lifelong dream instead of continuing to be one of the Elements of Harmony? Think about it.”
The blue pegasus stood there in shock, with her eyes and mouth open as she tried to process this sudden revelation in her mind that came straight from the mouth of the Captain herself. The glass of her ambitions and her excitement to finally join them, contained within her, had been shattered into pieces.
For a few seconds, Dash stood there like a statue, as a strong mixture of feelings swirled up within her and began to overwhelm her as well, taking up every fiber of her very being. Sorrow, emptiness, and despair were all she could feel at the moment.
Spitfire sighed sadly at this, turning herself away to avoid Dash's now-trembling eyes. She had to do this after all. It was either this, or compromise Equestria's safety.
“I know... I know how you feel, Rainbow,” she calmly said. “Well, if it makes you feel better, I'll give you this. A choice. Now that I've told you everything, you can either still choose to join us despite what I've said, or you can continue being the Element of Loyalty. Just... remember what I've said, alright?”
Facing the glass view again, the captain proceeded to stare at the city, awaiting an answer from the blue pegasus.
A choice, Dash thought, as tears began to swell up in her eyes. Soon, as she slowly sat down on the floor, her expression changed to a sad one, with her pony ears pointing downward. She looked down and tried to think this through.
Why? She thought. Why hadn't she realized it until now that joining the Wonderbolts would mean suddenly abandoning her best friends and, ultimately, her duty as the Element of Loyalty? She can't do that at all. Otherwise, if she did, she'd be going against her Element in pursuit of her selfish dream. Well, maybe she could transfer her Element to somepony else and... Nay, she didn't feel right about that as well. Her friends would still look at her as being selfish as well as being disloyal, especially after being friends with them for so long.
Her mind tried to bring up ways to make joining them seem more feasible. Maybe, with her Sonic Rainboom, she could keep up both duties at the same time, as it increased her speed a lot. But then, depending on the location, it could still take hours to reach Ponyville regardless, much like her earlier trip to get here. And what if her friends weren't at Ponyville at all, but someplace else instead? It could take even more time to reach them, and by the time she did, it could be too late already, and the world might already be on the verge of destruction.
Dash forcibly shut her eyes at that thought, her tears splashing off of them and going down her cheeks afterward. The image of an apocalyptic Equestria was suddenly burned into her mind, seeing burnt debris of the buildings in Ponyville that had fallen. As if that wasn't enough, immediately, another image flashed into her mind, making her grit her teeth at it. This time, it was of a ruined Canterlot, with its once beautiful standing towers having fallen into great disrepair, with its waterfalls no longer running. All while hearing an all-too-familiar voice that sounded male and was seemingly laughing, with echoes of it trailing afterward.
“Hm? Rainbow?” noticed Spitfire.
At that, Dash's eyes snapped open, with her tears still flowing outward as she slowly looked up at the Captain. A second passed, and she sighed sadly, her eyes downcast again. She now knew what was going to happen if she made the wrong choice here.
The blue pegasus stood back up on her hooves and glanced directly at the orange-maned pony.
“Spitfire... Captain... It's still my lifelong dream to join you guys. It always has been, as you've said. But, I'd be lying to not just you, but to myself as well, if I simply said that I choose to be with you guys instead of my friends,” Dash said, calmly. “No, I'm not going to make that choice.”
Lifting up her right hoof, she wiped her tears off with it, sniffed loudly, and changed her facial expression to that of a determined one.
“I'm going to make the right choice, instead. An honest choice. Captain Spitfire, as awesome as it'd be, I no longer want to join the Wonderbolts anymore. At least, not at this time. Instead, I'm going to continue being the wielder of the Element of Loyalty. I'm going to stay loyal to my friends from now on!” she exclaimed, with a proud smile on her face.
Hearing that declaration from her, the Captain smiled at her, facing her again. She then walked up to her, stopped by her side, and turned around, lifting up her right hoof to grab and bring Dash close to her.
“Glad to hear that, Rainbow Dash! Glad to hear it.”
“Hehe. Yep!” Dash happily smiled at her.
A few minutes had passed by. Spitfire sat in front of the table where Soarin' had just finished his pie, his face covered in a huge mess all over. Dash was nowhere to be seen, having just left the building.
“Oh gosh, that was the greatest pie I've ever had in my life,” he said, sitting back on the chair in a lazy-looking position. “Whew!”
Spitfire chuckled. “Delicious, wasn't it?”
“It sure was. Mmm...” The colt looked around a bit. “...Huh? Rainbow's gone already?”
“Yes. She's gone back to her home. Kind of surprising that she left here without becoming deeply depressed after what I had to tell her. But I'm glad she stayed strong and accepted it like that.”
The colt nodded in acknowledgment. “That's good, unlike the other ponies we had to turn away… So, that dream about her you had the other night. If it didn't happen...”
“Yeah, I would've recruited her straight away without even knowing what would happen afterward. I'm glad I had that dream, though.”
The Captain sat back in her chair, forming a slightly puzzled look on her face as she recalled it, staring down at the table.
“What an odd dream that was, though. I mean, it began with us recruiting Rainbow into our team. Then from out of nowhere, this... huge dark thing appeared. I don't know how to describe it well. It looked like a gigantic porcupine or maybe a hedgehog of some sort, with these huge spiked things all over the top of it and with this weird-looking mouth at the front of it... Then, it attacked and knocked us all to the ground, with Rainbow lying close to the dark thing. The next thing you know, her friends suddenly appear out of nowhere as well, and they all had what looked like the Elements of Harmony on them. They stood against the dark thing, but then, it knocked them all away from it, with their Elements flying off of them.
“Rainbow and her friends then just laid there for a while, as if they were all unconscious from the hit,” she continued. “Afterward, the dark thing proceeded to go after us. I honestly thought we were going to share the same fate as them, but... suddenly, Rainbow woke up and stood, appearing to be angry at the dark thing that was going after us. Then, from where they were, the Elements of Harmony began to fly up and over to her, surrounding her as she growled at it. The last thing that happened was that she let out this loud and furious scream that suddenly made her explode with this blinding white light. It was so bright that you couldn't even see anything... except for one short glimpse of her attacking the dark thing. And the weird part of that? Rainbow wasn't the blue pegasus she was before, but a white one, and her rainbow mane and tail looked like somepony lit up a fire match to them.
“Just as this white flaming Rainbow Dash attacked it, well, the dream ended and I woke up,” finished Spitfire, sighing. “Like I said, it was an odd dream. A dream that made me realize that she was still one of the Element wielders and, well, you know the rest, Soarin'.”
“That, I do. And I agree. It's a strange dream,” the colt said.
The Captain nodded. “I have a feeling, though, that it may have more importance than it seems. And letting her go like this, Soarin'...”
Before she could finish, suddenly, a loud booming sound was heard to her left, making her glance at the great view of the city. Past the buildings and skyscrapers, a large circular explosion of rainbow was seen, growing larger as it spread outward. She smiled at it as it grew larger and larger.
“...was probably the best decision we've ever made.”
Darkness. Pure, total darkness. Nothing but an empty black void around her. It was as black as black could possibly be. It was all there was and all there ever could be, going far into the seemingly endless distance, both ahead and in her surroundings.
Yet, she stood there on all fours, motionless and still as a statue, with her eyes closed and without a semblance of wind moving her rainbow mane and tail.
Soon enough, Dash slowly lifted her eyes open.
And only after she opened them did she find herself in this great endless void of surrounding darkness where nothing could be seen.
What in the world...? Dash began to look at her surroundings, widening her eyes a bit and finding nothing else besides her own being. Where... where am I? It, it's totally pitch black in here! Yet, I could still see myself in here...
So she noticed, seeing her front blue hooves standing on the seemingly invisible floor that was filled with the same darkness. She lifted one hoof up and put it back down a few times, tapping the floor. As she felt, there was something solid there that she couldn't see.
Weird. I'm standing here on solid ground, yet it looks like there's nothing that I'm standing on. Nothing but darkness here...
Confused, the blue pegasus looked around again.
...and darkness everywhere as well.
She turned around and began to search for anything and anyone that was visible to her rose-colored eyes.
“Hello? Anyone in here with me?” she called, turning and facing in different directions. “Anyone? Anypony? Helloooo...?”
She waited, hoping for an answer from someone and hoping to shed some answers about this place. But all she heard was nothing but complete and utter silence. It was as quiet as it could possibly be, and not even the constant breeze of air and wind was present. It felt like everything had gone deaf in here.
Again, nothing but silence. Her calls for answers were for naught.
As she continued to look around, Dash's eyes began to tremble and her face was slowly being filled with the emotion of fear, her mouth opening a bit as she took a hoof back. With utter silence and the void of darkness, the notion of being alone in this dark place was entering her head.
“...Okay... This is creeping me out a bit. Just where in the hay am I? Helloooo...?!”
The pegasus' constant moving and turning was increasing at a frantic pace, with her face looking more fearful by the second. Soon, she began to walk around. A few seconds later, her walk began to turn into a run. She ran and ran, going into a different direction with every second as she tried to search for an exit out of here.
Where am I, really?! Is there no exit out of here? I couldn't be stuck in here forever, could I?
With every second that passed and with no exit in plain sight, Dash's heart was beating at a rapid pace, her lungs rapidly breathing in and out. Her eyes were wide open and her pupils had shrunk to a great degree. Fear had completely taken over her now, and there was no sign of her calming down, so as long as she saw was complete darkness everywhere.
No! I, I can't be alone in here! I just can't! There's no possible way!
Dash, with her most fearful expression, continued to stampede around the dark void in a rapidly frantic pace, breathing as hard as she could as her very being was completely consumed by fear. She was all alone in here, as much as her mind didn't want to accept it.
Yet, suddenly, something had stopped her.
At that abrupt moment, like a ball that was thrown at a solid wall from a high speed, the pegasus was swiftly knocked back by a sudden unknown object, rolling back a bit and stopping with her front side and face on the ground.
She groaned a bit, with her eyes shut tight and her teeth clenched, having pain in her head where the unknown force had hit the most.
Ow...! What, what just hit me...?! She thought, touching her head with her hoof and trying to mend the pain. Or, did I just crash into something? That was sudden.
Shaking her head, Dash opened her eyes to look ahead, still mending the pain with her hoof.
As her eyes regained focus, the pegasus saw what had stopped her frantic running. Something that suddenly appeared out of nowhere in this dark void that was thought to be empty.
What? A mirror...?
So it was. A lone gold-plated mirror, sitting silently on a small brown stand in the middle of this darkness, several feet away from her where she couldn't see her reflection.
Dash steadily stood back up on all fours from the invisible ground, looking ahead at the mirror. From this distance, it appeared to be about the same size as her.
Where did this come from? I thought there wasn't anything in this dark place.
Staring at it for a few seconds, she then proceeded to walk over to it, glancing all around her again with a frown of fear on her face.
...This place is getting creepier by the second. Seriously, where did this come from? I was running around trying to find an exit out of here, and this hits me from out of nowhere? Very weird.
As Dash walked over to the mirror, however, the fear in her mind and heart, head and chest, was slowly fading away, making her notice.
...Huh? What's going on...? Why, why am I no longer feeling afraid of this place? Dash thought, stopping. Huh?
The fear faded from her, much to her confusion. Now, strangely, the sense of peace had entered her mind and heart, making her calm as well, as if she was lying down on a chair at a sunny beach. Then, something, from somewhere she couldn't physically perceive, was telling her to walk to the mirror. A presence, it felt like.
Walk to the mirror...?
She looked at the mirror once more, and the mysterious, disembodied presence then urged her to go to it. It was an urge that, somehow, she could not question nor ignore this time.
Dash proceeded on. Weird, she thought once again. How could she go from being afraid to suddenly feeling peaceful and calm like this? And who or what exactly was telling her to go to the mirror?
She pressed on. Slowly but unexpectedly, like a balloon that was slowly being inflated, the sense of peace and calmness grew within her each time she took a step towards the mirror, making her notice and confusing her even more. Soon, to her further surprise, she suddenly felt herself changing as well. Not just inside of her, but physically as well.
Walking further and further along, these calm peaceful feelings within her continued to grow, advancing to a point where it began to overwhelm her. Yet, she continued on, thanks to the urge instilled in her by the formless presence. Then, she felt that these same growing feelings were actually trying to bring out something within her. Something very deep, and as she neared the mirror now, the feeling of being changed in and out had rapidly grown. Both of her mane and tail, she felt, were shapeshifting themselves, becoming wilder as she walked closer. Her coat felt like lightning was shocking and jolting through it.
Last but not least, the pegasus had the sense of her entire body getting stronger by the second, with her hooves receiving this newfound strength the most, feeling like she could punch through a massive wall with them.
Yet, despite all this, despite her mouth being a bit open and her eyes being a bit wide in response to these sudden things taking place inside of her and out, Dash reached the gold-plated mirror and saw her appearance in it.
To her great surprise, gasping a bit in front of it, Rainbow Dash was no longer the blue pegasus she once was. She was a white one. Her rainbow mane and tail weren't the same as well. They became great flames of rainbow flaring off from her head and her behind, with colored embers flying away from them. Her eyes were no longer rose-colored, but a ruby shade of red, instead. As she noticed last, a familiar golden necklace with a red, jeweled, lightning bolt-shaped emblem on it had been placed on her neck.
Her folded pegasus wings then felt the need to unfold themselves, shaking and jolting a bit like water trying to burst out of its container and trying to be free of its confines. She heeded this urge and unfolded them, blooming out like a flower. Surprising her further, gasping again, her unfolded white wings were no longer the small ones they were before. They were larger in size and in the number of feathers that had increased. To her, they now resembled the wings of the two ruling Princesses in Equestria, looking almost angelic as theirs.
Staring at herself like this with the pure white coat, ruby red eyes, rainbow flames, large wings, and the apparent Element of Loyalty on her neck, the many feelings that overwhelmed her before were at their maximum. Yet, somehow, she stood here, no longer affected by them. This huge peace and calmness was something she had never felt in her life before, and the sheer strength she had inside of her now was something she never had as well. Furthermore, she soon knew and recognized what was trying to get out before from the depths of her very being.
It was her very own soul, and she was looking at it right now in the mirror. Her soul that was on display.
My... soul...? But, I, I don't understand. Why do I look like this right now? And what's with all these strong feelings inside of me? ...I really don't understand! Why does my mane and tail look like they're on fire?!
The pegasus continued to stare at herself in the mirror, albeit confused now. Her head was now filled with several questions about this new appearance of hers, as if wondering why she was in this dark place wasn't enough for her. Indeed, why did she look like this right now? Why did she feel that her body had gone through some extremely rigorous training to the point where she could destroy a building completely with just one hoof, not to mention being filled with a steady stream of strong, yet calm feelings within her? And why was the Element of Loyalty on her that appeared from out of nowhere?
The stream of feelings within her also felt rather familiar to her. But what was it exactly? Dash couldn't recall. She couldn't put a hoof on it.
Staring at herself still, Dash lifted up one of her front hooves and gazed down at it. It was white, just as the mirror had shown, surprising her even further. Putting it down, she then looked all over herself: down at her chest, her back, and at her sides and wings. Seeing one of her cutie marks, she noticed that it looked a bit different. The cloud part of it, where it had been white before, was now a storm grey color.
Dash was what she looked like in the mirror. She had, indeed, completely transformed. Why she had transformed into this, however, was a mystery to her.
...Hmm, very, very weird... Why am I totally different than before? …Huh?!
Suddenly, as she quickly noticed, the dark void she stood in was abruptly filled with a dark shade of red.
Whoa, what the hay?! ...Huh?!
As she soon saw, what appeared to be a large number of black shadowy blots began to ooze into the now-red void. They were surrounding her from a distance, seemingly oozing in from the ground and levitating themselves above it, rotating in the counterclockwise direction. After a second, the blots then began to shapeshift themselves into something, expanding and contracting at a steady rate, until they began to resemble something that Dash recognized.
...What? Is this, is this Ponyville?! And is that... Canterlot?!
So it seemed, though something was quickly off to her as she saw. Moving around and viewing them, what now surrounded her were black shadow silhouettes of the buildings that graced Ponyville, appearing to be in great disrepair and ruins. Parts of them had fallen off, with their still-standing doors being full of holes in them. Debris was everywhere, scattered near and far from the buildings. The once-tall town hall tower had broken in two, with the other half having fallen into a group of buildings nearby, creating even more debris.
What caught her attention the most, though, was the seemingly floating island of rock in the distance past the mirror, and on that rock was Canterlot, having been pulled from its mountainside rest and placed on the rock for an unknown reason. Despite being placed on a rock now and unlike Ponyville, the majority of the palace and city was still largely intact.
Before Dash could even figure out what was going on here, suddenly, a very loud string of laughter was heard all around, rocking the area a bit and reaching all the way down to the very depths of her pony ears.
It was a string of laughter that she recognized in an instant. She quickly turned around to face its source, and what she found had shocked her, making her gasp loudly with her red eyes wide open. What largely loomed over her was a black silhouette of a dragon-like being, with its limbs resembling the limbs of many animals. The silhouette sported a wicked smiling expression on its face, smiling directly at her.
The pegasus jolted up from her bed, screaming a bit with her eyes wide open. With her body having been shaken up by fear, she frantically looked at her surroundings, quickly noticing that she was back in her bedroom.
Realizing this, Dash looked down at her hooves and upper body, seeing that they were back to blue. She lifted her right hoof and then swept it through her rainbow mane, feeling that it was back to its usual flowing style as well. The many feelings that overwhelmed her just mere seconds ago were gone from her, all except the strong, yet lingering feeling of fear that remained.
She put her head down, breathing a bit heavily and putting her hooves down as well. After a few breathers, the pegasus let out a huge sigh of relief from her, closing her eyes and calming herself down. She realized that it was just a nightmare after all.
“A nightmare... Wow,” Dash said, calmly.
After calming down, Dash wiped her eyes with the upper part of her hoof. She then opened her eyes and sighed again, looking at the open window to her left. She saw that it was morning, with the bright golden rays of the sun radiating inward and illuminating her room in golden light.
Letting out another sigh, the pegasus proceeded to get off of her bed, kicking the blanket off and standing near the right side of the bed on all fours. Walking off with a still-tired look on her face, she proceeded to start the day off.
A few hours had passed, and the sun was now set in the middle of the blue sky. High above the town of Ponyville, the blue rainbow-maned pegasus was now lying her entire backside on a lone cloud that floated slowly along, with a sad, yet blank look on her face, her half-closed rose eyes staring into the sky above. Since she was the leader of Ponyville's weather team and ultimately its weather caretaker, she didn't need to do anything today, much less a few days from today anyway, as the town's crops and plants needed some sun for a while. As she preferred, these next few days were her lazy days, doing nothing but sleep on a cloud all day. That, and spend some time with her friends as well.
Indeed, she would be happy about it now, if it wasn't for something that happened last night.
“Maaaan... Why do I have to be the Element of Loyalty?” moaned Dash, calmly, sighing. “Talk about having your dreams get crushed like that.”
Even though she proudly accepted it, Dash couldn't get over the choice that she made last night in front of the Wonderbolts’ captain, Spitfire. For years and years since being a little filly, she always wanted to join the famous acrobatic group, and yet, to risk leaving the world in danger in pursuit of achieving that dream... In the end, as much as it crushed her dream, she knew she had to back out of it. She knew she had to stay loyal to her friends, as well as Equestria itself.
Dash sat up on the cloud, looking over the town below.
“It looks like I'm gonna be stuck here forever, then, taking care of the weather and staying with my friends... What other choice is there, really?”
Staring at the town for a bit, she then proceeded to stand up on all fours and sighed again.
“Ugh. Look at me sulking off. Imagine if somepony sees me like this when I'm usually not sulky most of the time. I better get over this, then.”
Unfolding her wings, Dash took a look around the town with her sad frown disappearing.
“I oughta find something to do to help me get over it. Hmm... I wonder how Applejack's doing in the hospital? I better check up on her.”
Facing the direction of the hospital, she jumped off the cloud and began to fly over to it, flapping her wings and then gliding down towards it.
Right in the middle of her glide, though, she saw something in the lower corner of her right eye, making her look while still gliding.
Down in the town streets of Ponyville, something speedily zoomed past the walking ponies, causing some of them to move out of the way. As Dash noticed, it was a scooter that rolled past them at a fast speed, and riding on top of it was a small, orange, pegasus filly with a pinkish-purple mane and tail. The filly wore a blue helmet with white racing stripes on top of her head, and she was constantly fluttering her small wings to keep the speed going on her scooter.
“Huh? Scootaloo?” Dash noticed, stopping her glide and facing the direction that the filly was going.
As she was heading towards two colt ponies carrying a large couch near the top of their heads with their upper hooves and standing in bi-pedal positions, nearing it with a focused expression on her face, Scootaloo quickly jumped off of the scooter before she hit the couch, leaping over it with her wings still fluttering. The scooter went under the couch, and the filly landed back on it as it exited, continuing to propel it with her wings.
Without a single break in her concentration, the filly headed towards more of the pony pedestrians walking ahead and swiftly swerved left and right to dodge them. Coming towards the fifth pedestrian, she made a small jump with the scooter, swerving right again and performing a 360-degree spin at the same time, landing after the spin and continuing the ride.
“Wow, kid sure has some nice moves there,” Dash said, impressed by what she witnessed, grinning a bit as well.
With nothing but an empty street ahead of her now, Scootaloo looked around while continuing to flutter her wings. Then, in the corner of her eye, she spotted a familiar-looking, rainbow-maned, blue pegasus floating above the buildings.
“R-Rainbow Dash!” yelped the filly with surprise, with a wide-eyed happy look on her face as well. “Oh my gosh, she's watching me!”
Seeing Dash up there who was watching her scooter ride, the filly couldn't help but feel excited and ecstatic to the point where she was looking directly at her instead of the road ahead. She had always looked up to the blue pegasus for a long time now, idolizing and admiring everything about her and her awesome abilities that she had. She wanted to be like her in every way, but most importantly, she wanted and wished for Dash to become her big sister.
That alone was why she was on this daring trip through Ponyville on her scooter: to get Dash’s attention and to impress her. She wanted to show how awesome she was as well, which quickly reminded her.
“Oh, man, I better focus!” Scootaloo exclaimed, snapping out of it, still looking left. “I better pay attent—”
“LOOK OUUUUT!” Dash suddenly screamed to her, spotting something in the filly's way.
“Huh?!” Scootaloo looked. What she saw ahead caused her to gasp in shock, her pupils quickly shrinking. A large black piano being carried by another pair of colts was heading straight ahead for her, catching her off-guard.
A series of loud crashing and off-note piano sounds was then heard, catching the attention of everypony nearby. Dash herself almost witnessed the crash, forcing her eyes shut with one hoof. A second later, she opened them and moved her hoof away. What she saw and heard next had shocked her, making her gasp.
Dash quickly flew off towards the crash site, where the sound of loud wailing cries was heard, further catching the attention of all the ponies in the area.
“Gosh. It sure takes some waitin' to do before you're up and runnin' again.”
Applejack sighed, staring at the ceiling above while lying down on the medical bed in one of the many rooms in the Ponyville Hospital. It had only been a day since she was rescued from the burning and crumbling barn, and as much as she wanted to be her apple-bucking self again, she still, indeed, needed to recover from the many burns that were inflicted on her coat.
A few seconds had passed. Suddenly, she heard the hospital's entrance doors hit against their surrounding walls loudly, making her jump a bit. A group of loud, chattering, alarmed voices was then heard, along with what sounded like a hoof stampede and somepony wailing on a high note, the tone of it sounding rather distressed and painful. Applejack recognized the wailing cry and knew who it belonged to.
“Scootaloo?” She lifted her head up to look at the open doorway ahead.
The stampede and the wailing cry became louder and louder, and soon, she saw them. Like a train speeding through the railroad, a group of medical personnel ponies ran past, moving a stretcher carrying the crying Scootaloo along. Rainbow Dash followed them shortly after, flying in the air as she followed.
“What in tarnation...? What in the hay happened to her?” Applejack wondered aloud, surprised by what she saw.
In the hallway, Dash continued to follow them in the air, distraught by the filly's constant wailing. A two-door entrance was fast approaching them, with a sign above it that said, “I.C.U.” Seeing this, she knew she had to stop here, as only patients were allowed.
“Stay tough in there, kid! You're going to be alright!” she exclaimed, slowing down her flight. “I know it!”
Dash came to a complete halt in the air, watching as the injured filly and the staff plow through the doorway, with the doors closing in behind them.
“At least, I hope so...” The pegasus stared at the doorway with a worried look on her face. Knowing that there wasn't anything else she could do for now, she turned around and began to slowly fly back in the hallway.
Soon, she came towards an open doorway leading into a hospital room, spotting Applejack on the bed.
“Oh, hey, Applejack,” Dash greeted, entering the room and landing in front of the bed, sheathing her wings.
“Rainbow Dash,” greeted the orange pony. “What was that ruckus just now? Is Scootaloo hurt?”
“Yeah, really bad. Her hoof ankle's been snapped. She was riding around in Ponyville on her scooter, doing stunts and dodging ponies, when she saw me in the air above. I tried to warn her of the ponies carrying a piano that was coming her way, but it was too late.”
“Huh, so that's what happened... Ouch, poor filly.”
“Yeah,” nodded Dash, still with a worried look on her face.
“Well, talk about bein’ reckless, then. No doubt that the little filly's tryin’ to be like you, Rainbow,” Applejack said. “The way she looks up to you and whatnot.”
“...Yeah, I've kinda noticed for a while now,” said the pegasus, rubbing the back of her head with her hoof and looking away, smiling afterward. “I mean, she did put up and manage that big fan club about me a while back. It was quite awesome of her to do that.”
Putting her hoof down, she looked over to the window to her left.
“I think I oughta pay her back for doing that, really. Well, when she's been fixed up, of course. Hmm.”
“I think you really oughta, Rainbow.” Applejack smiled.
“Eh, we'll see. I hope she'll be fixed up, though...” Dash frowned with the worried look again.
“She will. Don't worry, sugarcube,” said the orange pony. “After all, your wing got broken once and you've recovered from that, didn't you?”
The blue pegasus nodded, looking at her. “Yeah, I did... Anyway, how goes your hospital stay, Applejack? Feeling better at least?”
“Yeah, a little,” replied Applejack, looking down at her own body. “But as much as I don't like it, it's gonna take a while for the hurtin' to stop. 'Bout a week, the doctor says. Honestly, I can't wait to get back to my farming work and buckin' them apples out of them trees, since the others are still out on vacation and all. But 'till then, I'm stuck in this gosh-darned hospital room.”
The pegasus chuckled, grinning a bit. “Well, guess you now know how I felt when I was in here last time.”
“I guess.” Applejack chuckled, looking at the pegasus.
Just then, Dash was reminded of something. “Oh yeah. By the way, uh, about the Changelings that trapped you yesterday...”
“Yeah? What about 'em?”
“Well, it turns out that those bug freaks are out there planning something. I don't know what exactly, but it definitely isn't good,” Dash said, looking concerned, turning and facing to her right with her eyes downcast. “All I know is that they're stealing love from ponies again.”
“...What?!” The orange pony looked a bit surprised and alarmed. “But I thought Twilight said they didn't have that ability anymore?”
“They still do, apparently.”
“Gosh.” Applejack blinked her eyes a few times. “How do you know this, Rainbow? Did Twilight tell you? If she didn't, you've gotta tell her right away!”
“Already did this morning, A.J., and by now, she's likely informed Princess Celestia already. As for how I know, well, it's a bit of a long story to tell.”
The blue pegasus turned and walked over to Applejack's left, stopping there and sitting down, facing her.
“So, yesterday, I received a letter from the Wonderbolts saying...”
After telling Applejack what happened last night at the Manehattan stadium and receiving applause from the orange pony for being truthful and honest to herself, Dash left the hospital with the intent of coming back later to check up on the filly who idolized her.
A few hours had passed. The sun had done its usual rounds in the sky above, descending from it in order to pave the way for the shining bright moon and the darkness of the night that it had brought along. Ponyville was now illuminated in the night sky's shade of midnight blue and the white light of the moon that sat above it.
Inside one of the lit rooms of Ponyville Hospital was the orange filly, Scootaloo, lying on the bed next to the window to her right and wearing one of the hospital's patient gowns. Her mane had been ruffled a bit, thanks to the earlier crash, and her lower right hoof had been encased in a white cast that immobilized it. Various bruises were seen on her, almost blackening her coat, and a bandage had been placed on the right side of her forehead.
The filly lay there, staring at the ceiling above with a bit of a sad look on her face.
“Man... I really should have paid attention earlier. If only I was watching where I was going, then... then Rainbow Dash wouldn't have seen me crash like that.” The filly sighed. “Now I got her worried about me.”
Causing Dash to worry and be distressed about her was the last thing Scootaloo wanted. It was also a complete embarrassment for her, crashing into something that she could've easily dodged with her skill and without getting distracted.
“I oughta say sorry to her for making her worry like that, and... I think I oughta tell the truth to her as well,” she said, her eyes downcast. “Hm...”
Just then, she heard somepony speaking outside the door of the hospital room. A voice that she instantly recognized, causing her to glance at the door.
“So how's she doing, doctor? Is she going to be alright after what happened?”
“Well, in addition to a few bruises here and there,” replied the doctor, speaking by the door. “Luckily, she's only sustained a fracture in her right hoof ankle as you saw. Nowhere else as far as I'm aware. So, she's going to be fine as long as she stays in here for a few days, just as you stayed in here a few weeks ago when you were injured.”
“By the way, Rainbow Dash, I still can't believe you snuck into the hospital like that, all just for a book. You should've just asked the receptionist at the desk instead of doing that.”
“Uh, heh heh,” Dash nervously chuckled. “Yeah, sorry about that. Let's just say that I wanted to keep a secret.”
“Hm, right. Well...”
With his hoof, the doctor opened the door to the filly's room, looking at her in the bed.
“Here she is, then. Let me know if there's anything you need, by the way.”
“Alright. Thanks, doc.”
The blue pegasus proceeded to walk in while the doctor went down the hallway.
“Heya, kid,” Dash greeted, smiling and walking over to her. “Feeling better after that bit of an accident?”
“A little,” Scootaloo replied. “I mean, it still kinda hurts, but not as much as before. I can barely move my hoof with this thing on.”
“Well, that's because it keeps it together, so that it fixes itself up faster,” said the blue pegasus, stopping to the filly's left and facing her. “Otherwise, if that thing isn't on, it'll heal up really slow, and you'll be stuck in here for weeks, instead.”
“I know.” Scootaloo sighed sadly, looking down at her cast.
Dash proceeded to sit on the floor, still smiling at her. “Hey, you'll be outta here, up and running, in no time, kid. Trust me, I had to go through the same thing as you a few weeks ago, staying in here 'till my wing fixed itself up. It was certainly a boring couple of days back then, that's for sure. Well, at first, anyway.”
“...It's not that, Rainbow Dash. It's...”
“What?” Dash asked, her smile fading away.
The filly opened her mouth to say something, but not a single word came out of it. She closed it and sighed sadly, looking away from the blue pony that she looked up to. Scootaloo was hesitating to make an apology to her and to tell her the real truth on why she was riding the scooter today. Doubts had clouded her mind, like an army trying to push into the enemy territory, only to be held back by the enemy themselves.
How would Dash react if she told her the truth, of trying to be awesome like her? Would she be mad, or would she praise the filly for it? Would she take her under her wing and become her big sister, or would she promptly ignore it? Would she even accept her apology at all?
These questions continued to fog her mind, until she realized that these doubts of hers would not be confirmed or denied unless she told her.
“What, Scoots?” Dash asked. “What is it?”
Finally making her choice, the filly closed her eyes and sighed sadly again. She opened them and gazed towards the face of her idol.
“Rainbow Dash, I... I'm sorry," Scootaloo said, calmly, with her eyes downcast.
“Huh? Sorry? For what?”
“For making a big embarrassment of myself by not paying attention on where I was going, and for making you worry like that,” replied the filly. Her eyes gazed up at the pegasus again. “I really should have watched out for that piano, and if I did, I would've stopped myself or dodged out of the way... and maybe I could've continued, just to impress you.”
Scootaloo nodded. “All so, you know, you would take me under your wing an-and let me become your little sister and all... That was the real reason why I was out there riding the scooter, all so I could just get your attention.”
Hearing her, Dash was a bit surprised at this, looking wide-eyed. A little orange filly who wanted to become her little sister and be like her, following in her footsteps. Then again, as Dash realized with a calm smile on her face, it wasn't so much of a surprise after all, and it only confirmed her suspicions when she was talking with Applejack earlier.
“So that's why, huh?” The blue pegasus chuckled. “Scootaloo, my awesome little filly, there's no need for you to apologize like that.”
“Really,” Dash emphasized, leaning forward a bit and looking at her with an almost kind look on her face. “Oh, sure, you got distracted by seeing me and crashed into that piano because of that. But that was just a mistake, and everypony makes mistakes. Hey, we make mistakes all the time! Even I do, from time to time.”
“You do?” asked Scootaloo, looking curious with a bit of a wide-eyed look.
“Well, yeah, but... don't tell anypony that,” Dash said, looking behind and all around her to see if anyone was watching them. “If you do, I'm gonna deny it.”
She looked at her and smiled calmly again. “So you're looking for somepony to take you under their wing, huh?”
“Yeah.” The filly nodded, smiling innocently. “Will you please, Rainbow Dash?”
Just as the blue pegasus was about to answer, suddenly, they heard something that seemed to be coming from outside. To them, it sounded like a couple of airborne jets that were heading towards their direction. A sound that Dash instantly recognized, with a bit of a wide-eyed look on her face.
Gazing over to the window ahead past the filly's bed, the blue pegasus quickly stood up and trotted over to it, placing her front hooves on it and sticking her head outward to look.
Up in the air above, the blue-suited team of eleven pegasi was flying towards the direction of Ponyville at high speeds and in a flight formation that resembled the shape of an arrow, leaving trails of storm clouds in their wake. As Dash watched them approach and pass over the hospital from above, her face slowly went from a surprised expression to one of sadness, frowning as she heard the jet-like thundering roars fade away from the area. Her head tilted downwards as she couldn't help but be reminded of last night's events again.
“Whoa... Was that really the Wonderbolts?” Scootaloo asked, with her eyes a bit wide-looking.
Dash let out a sigh of sadness again. She still couldn't get over it. But she needed to, the pegasus just thought. Else, it was just going to bother her forever as long as she kept it inside of her mind like this.
“Rainbow Dash?” Scootaloo called, hearing her sad sigh and noticing her down-tilted head. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah... I just... Hmm.”
How? Dash thought. How could she truly get over it? After a few seconds of thinking, the answer popped up in her head.
“I... I'm fine, kid.”
Turning around and placing her hooves on the floor, the blue pegasus faced the filly and smiled with a kind look.
“About taking you in under my wing... yeah, sure, I might be up for something like that,” she answered, finally. “Besides...”
Looking at the bed to see if there was room for one more, Dash hopped up on it, causing the bed to bounce upward slightly and surprising the filly with it. She sat down in front of her, and the filly tried to sit up on the bed, feeling some slight pain in her hoof ankle and being careful with it as she sat.
“I oughta pay you back, anyway, for doing one great thing for me in the past,” Dash continued. “That fan club you were the head of, back then. It was definitely awesome of you to do that.”
“Wow, really?” Scootaloo asked, smiling.
“Yeah! I've never had something like that before, honestly. All those fans in there and the rainbow wigs that you guys were wearing. Man, it truly was something else.”
“Wow, thanks, Rainbow Dash!” exclaimed the filly, happily. Hearing her idol praise her like that was making her proud of herself.
Dash chuckled. “No problem, kid. And, well, even though you crashed earlier and ended up here, I still think you had some pretty nice moves riding on that scooter, dodging other ponies and jumping over obstacles like that.”
Hearing that, the filly grinned widely, looking happier than before.
“Soooo, yeah. I'm definitely up for becoming your big sister, Scootaloo,” Dash said, unfolding her right wing and pulling the filly closer to her, leaving her wing on her. “But you got to promise me one thing, kid.”
“Yeah, Rainbow Dash?”
“Promise me that you'll never, ever crash into something again like that. In other words, try not to get distracted next time.”
Scootaloo giggled. “I won't next time. It's a deal.”
The filly moved in closer to her and hugged her with her hooves, with Dash hugging her back with the wing. Both closed their eyes happily as they shared the tender hug together, and with that, the two of them were now officially sisters.
Dash opened her eyes at the filly, with a kind look on her face again. If only to take her mind off of the Wonderbolts, she thought. That, and she truly wouldn't mind having an awesome little sister like this.
“Huh, that's really interestin’.”
An hour had passed. The orange pony, Applejack, was quietly sitting up in her bed, reading a magazine that belonged to the hospital, smiling as her eyes went from right to left every second. The magazine she was reading had the front cover of a farming news magazine, displaying all sorts of things that were related to farming in the world out there.
Soon, she heard the door opening in front of her, making her look at who just walked in. It was Twilight, Rarity, and Fluttershy.
“Oh, howdy, everypony,” she greeted, smiling.
“Hey, Applejack,” greeted Twilight. “Just thought we'd drop by and see how you were doing here.”
“Yes. We wouldn't exactly be friends if we didn't visit you and care about you, now would we?” Rarity said. “Especially after that awful fire incident and all.”
Applejack chuckled, putting the magazine down. “Nope, we wouldn't be. I'm glad that ain't the case, though, and I'm glad that you fellas care about me after what I've been through.”
“Most certainly, Applejack,” Fluttershy said.
The three pony friends stopped in front of the bed, with Applejack noticing that somepony was missing, making her suspicious.
“Hey, uh, where's Pinkie Pie?” she asked, with an eyebrow raised.
“Oh, uh, Pinkie couldn't join us,” replied Twilight. “It seems she's been occupied tonight with the Cake Twins over at Sugarcube Corner.”
“Ah, that's why. Watchin’ over them little fillies, eh? I hope they don’t push her over the edge like last time.”
“Yeah, we hope so, too,” Twilight said, chuckling. She then walked to the left side of the bed and faced her. “So how are you doing here, Applejack? Feeling better from yesterday?”
“A little, but I'm gettin' there. Still stings a lot, though. But I honestly can't wait to be back up and workin’ like a farmer again.”
The purple unicorn chuckled. “Of course. Well, you'll get there eventually. It's just a few more days after all.”
“Yup. I hope Ponyville can hold out on them apples and crops by then, since I have no one else out there on the Acres at the moment.”
“Ah, don't worry,” Twilight said. “I just got a report from the mayor that we still have a lot of them in stock, enough 'till you recover at least.”
“Ah. That's good to hear.”
“Hmm. So, I heard from Rainbow Dash about the Changeling attack last night in Manehattan and that she told you about it,” Applejack said, no longer smiling. “Have you got anything from Princess Celestia yet?”
“I did,” replied Twilight, looking a bit serious now. “She said she was going to investigate and that should her scouts find anything, she'll let me know.”
“So those ruffians are still out there doing their petty thievery after all,” Rarity said, with a bit of an angry look. “I don't care if they have to feed. It's still wrong to steal the love from us like that!”
“Well, whatever they're up to out there, whatever they're planning now, we're most likely going to have to use the Elements of Harmony to stop them for good this time,” Twilight said, glancing at the white unicorn.
“Right!” Applejack nodded. “We oughta. I mean, just forcin’ them to get out of the place like last time isn't going to stop them from comin' back over and over.”
“Yeah, if only they didn't block us from getting the Elements last time... Hm.”
Fluttershy looked around, wondering about something. Then, she looked at Applejack. “Uh, not to change the subject here, but... speaking of her, have you seen Rainbow Dash lately? I haven't seen her in a while.”
Just as she asked that, suddenly, they heard a nearly faint string of laughter coming from somewhere, followed by loud chattering. Sounding rather familiar to them, the two unicorns and the yellow pegasus looked in the direction it was coming from.
“Oh, yeah, I forgot,” Applejack said, smiling as she recognized the sounds. “Rainbow Dash told me earlier that she was coming back to visit her, and well, it looks like she's tendin' to her now.”
“Who?” asked Twilight.
“So Daring Do ran away from Tigris’ men after they fell into... pony manure?!”
“Ha ha ha! Yeah! Ohhh gosh!”
Dash let out a string of loud laughter. She sat back on the chair she was in, wiggling her lower hooves and laughing towards the ceiling while clutching the book close to her chest with both hooves. Scootaloo laughed aloud as well, sitting on her bed and having just heard a scene from the Daring Do book that her new big sister was reading.
“Oh man!” Dash exclaimed. “Ha ha ha! They fell into pony manure on the street below. How disgusting! Ha ha ha!”
The filly giggled. “I definitely wouldn’t want to be in their shoes like that.”
After a bit, the blue pegasus calmed herself down, trying to regain her posture and taking a few breathers. Then, she looked down at the book she held.
“Oh man... Never thought I'd see that in here. I swear, these Daring Do books are awesome!”
“Hehe. So what happened next?” asked Scootaloo, smiling.
“Let's see.” Gazing down at the book, Dash re-focused her eyes on the words. “'With the two henchmen no longer chasing her, Daring Do stood there, staring at the shining Diamond of the Ancients that she now held with her hoof. Putting it away in her saddle bag, she then looked onwards to the vast wide jungle ahead with the Temple in the middle of it, smiling with determination as she now knew that there was nothing standing between her and the long-lost treasure that it held...' End of chapter three.”
“Wow...” The filly looked amazed as she heard those last words. “So she's going to get that treasure now?”
“It looks like it,” Dash replied, shuffling through the pages. “There's only one chapter left in here, so I'm guessing that she goes inside the temple and tries to dodge all the traps and stuff, just like some of the other Daring Do books I've read. Hmm. Want me to finish it, or...?”
Before she could answer, Scootaloo's amazed look slowly changed into a tired one. The filly yawned loudly, with her eyelids now drooping downward.
“Nah, it's okay. I'm, uh, kinda tired now...”
The filly yawned again, louder and longer this time. Seeing her, Dash closed the book with her hooves and gazed at her with a kind look.
“Getting tired, eh, kid?” she asked, calmly. “Yeah, it’s getting kinda late after all. Here, let me tuck you in.”
With Scootaloo lying herself down and placing her head on the pillow, Dash stood up from the chair and walked closer to the bed. She grabbed the blanket with her teeth and pulled it up and over the filly, who fixed it up a bit with her hooves.
“We'll finish the book tomorrow, then,” Dash said. “But for now, it's sleepy time, I guess.”
“Yeah...” Scootaloo turned herself sideways, now facing her. “Can't wait to see what happens at the end.”
“Me too, Scoots. Me too.”
The filly chuckled. “Thanks, Rainbow Dash. For becoming my… big... sister...”
Scootaloo's eyes were fully shut, and the filly went off to sleep. Hearing her last words, Dash smiled kindly with her eyes half-closed and with her heart being warmed up from within her by the innocent look of the now-sleeping filly.
Unbeknownst to her, however, somepony was watching her from the open doorway. Peeking in by a few inches, Fluttershy had just seen what had occurred, with a surprised look on her face.
Remembering what she said long ago when the six ponies were traversing the Everfree Forest in search of the Elements of Harmony, realizing it, the yellow pegasus then smiled at this, now knowing that even a tough pony like Rainbow Dash can show a little kindness towards somepony every now and then.
The door opened inward and Rainbow Dash walked into the bedroom of her cloud home, carrying her saddle bag along. The blue pegasus had just arrived home from her visit with Scootaloo in the hospital, after spending some time with the little filly with the Daring Do book that she bought.
Now that the filly had gone to sleep peacefully, it was time for Dash to crash in for the night as well. Midnight was approaching, with the moon almost reaching towards the middle of the night sky.
Closing the door behind her, Dash walked on to her bed, stopping at the side of it and taking her bag off with her hooves. She turned on the night light that sat on the table beside her bed, illuminating her room brightly enough with its light. She then jumped up on the bed, sitting on top of the blanket and positioning herself near the middle of the bed.
The pegasus took a loud sigh, now looking tired with her head tilted downward and her eyelids drooping down. Even though she didn't do much, she thought, it still had been quite the day for her, having had to escort the injured Scootaloo towards the hospital and then letting her become her little sister in the end, bringing joy to the little filly. It was unexpected for the pegasus, but then, after all, she knew she couldn't turn down the filly like that. At least, it took Dash's mind off of what happened last night as well.
Dash looked over to the open bedroom window and stared outside, continuing to think about the day. Then, it came up in her head.
That dream. The nightmare she had this morning. It was frightening for her towards the end, seeing Ponyville in ruins and finding the looming silhouette of the Spirit of Chaos over her like that. But what about the part of the dream before that scary moment? Why did she change into that strange white form of herself whilst walking towards the mirror and seeing it in her reflection like that? Why was she feeling a stream of calm, yet familiar feelings within her whilst she was in that form? Why was the Element of Loyalty on her? Did it have something to do with it? Most of all, why did her mane and tail look like they were on fir—
Wait a minute, she thought. The Element of Loyalty on her, her mane and tail being on fire. Suddenly, they reminded her of something, making her look a bit wide-eyed. Something that she read in a certain book.
Realizing that, Dash suddenly began to search for that same book, which she quickly spotted on the table beside her. With both of her hooves, she grabbed it, brought it to her, and opened it, quickly shuffling through the pages. She found what she was searching for and began to read it.
“...The one with the strongest connection to Harmony itself. The one chosen by destiny to be the... Flame of Harmony...?!”
Reading those last specific words, as soon as they entered it, her mind then made the startling connection. Could it be that she transformed into the very thing that she just read about, as written in the ancient records, in the dream?
At that point, something else then struck her mind, like a rock that was thrown at her from a high speed, making her look surprised even more. The calm familiar feelings she had in the dream. Whereas she couldn't recall it before, now she did. She had definitely felt these calm feelings before. She had felt them twice now, actually, when she and her friends were harnessing the power of the Elements of Harmony to defeat their targets.
Harmonic energy. That's what it really was, she thought, still looking at the book. It was Harmonic energy that removed the fear of her being trapped in the dark void, and it was Harmonic energy that slowly changed her into the white flaming pegasus in the dream, jolting through her body and bringing her own soul out from within, as much as she didn't understand that last part.
As if that wasn't enough, suddenly, Dash recalled the moment she woke up yesterday morning. The voice that woke her up. It specifically called her the “destined one.”
With all of that in her mind, Dash sat there, slowly lowering her book and looking completely dumbfounded as her mind tried to process and understand all of it.
“...What in the hay is going on here...? I... I don't understand... Oh man, please don't tell me I'm going crazy here.”
The pegasus continued to stare ahead with the same wide-eyed look. She couldn't really be going out of her mind, could she? After all, these weird happenings started just mere hours after reading this book two nights before.
Was it all simply a coincidence? Was her mind simply playing tricks on her, hearing strange voices from out of nowhere and having strange dreams like that? Or, could she truly have a bigger destiny ahead of her as hinted at by the voice, being the one who will become the Flame of Harmony?
With her eye pupils shifting left and right in confusion, Dash looked at the book again, bringing it back up with her hooves. She turned a page back and re-read the pages again to see what the requirements were.
“Strong willpower, represent all the Elements of Harmony at once, when Harmony is on the brink of collapse... No, I, I can't really be the Flame of Harmony... could I?”
The first requirement was one she met already, she knew. But the third was situational, and the second... No, she still thought she didn't represent them all, and with that, there was no way that she could be the destined one as the voice told her.
But then, something else reminded her. Turning two pages forward, she then re-read the specific part where the records had stated that there had been signs beforehand.
Signs. Could they count? The voice and the strange dream? If they really were, then it could put more credence to her being the destined one. But then, there was the Element representation again.
Dash's mind was stuck in a pit between the two of them. She wasn't completely sure of this sudden revelation.
Little did she know, however, that she wouldn't have to wait long to find out the truth.
A few days had passed since the night where Rainbow Dash had made the connection between the ancient records and the mysterious supposed “signs.” Since then, she never leaned towards one side of her mind that thought it was only a mere coincidence, or the other side of it that thought she really was the Flame as she was in the dream. Her mind was still stuck in-between, the seesaw of it staying perfectly balanced with neither side tilting up or down.
Dash never told anyone of it, though, not even her new little sister, Scootaloo. Maybe she should have, for it was finally beginning to bother her after a few days.
Night had fallen. In the “living room” of her library home in Ponyville, there sat Twilight Sparkle in front of a wooden table, smiling and studying the pages of the book that stood high enough with a stand at the back of it. Behind her, the kid dragon, Spike, was standing at the top of a ladder that stood at the book shelves, dusting off the books with a duster in his hand while quietly whistling a tune.
Spike continued to dust the books off, swiping through them left and right every second. Seeing a book that was covered in a large amount of dust all over it, indicating that it hadn't been used for quite some time, he pulled it out and swiped through its front cover with the duster, sweeping the dust away from it.
“Ugh, man, talk about being ancient,” he said, coughing a bit as the dust went down his nose and throat. “Seriously, why keep these in here when no one ever reads them? Ergh.”
Spike shook his head in annoyance, dusting the rest of the book off and putting it back on the shelf. He sighed afterward.
“Think we'll hear something from the Princess about those ugly bug freaks out there soon?” Spike asked, glancing back at the unicorn.
“When her scouts report back to her, yes,” replied Twilight.
“Yeah, but for how much longer? It's been a few days already, Twilight. You'd think they find something out by now, since they're apparently so good at their job.”
“Yeah, well, these are Changelings after all, Spike. They're not so easy to spy on since, you know, they can change into other ponies... Patience, Spike. I'm sure we'll eventually find out what they're up to, and I'm sure we'll be able to stop them before they carry out their plan. Whatever it may be.”
“Hm, I hope you're right, Twilight.”
Just as he was about to resume his cleaning, the kid dragon spotted something coming towards the library via one of the open windows near the unicorn.
“Oh, hey, Rainbow Dash is here.”
Hearing the sound of flapping wings, Twilight looked, seeing the blue pegasus fly in through the window and landing right behind her.
“Hey, Rainbow Dash,” greeted Twilight, glancing back at her and smiling, looking at the book afterward.
“Hey, guys,” Dash greeted back, sheathing her wings as she glanced at her, smiling as well. “Studying as usual, I see.”
“As always,” said Spike, continuing to dust the books off. “It's either that, or experimenting on something.”
The pegasus chuckled. “Right. Uh, anyway...”
Dash walked up to the unicorn's left and faced her, with her smile disappearing. “Um, Twilight, can I ask you something? Or rather, can I get your input on something?”
“Yeah?” Twilight faced her as well, still sitting on the floor. “What do you need, Rainbow?”
“Uh, well, you see, something's kinda been bothering me for the past few days now. I... really can't seem to make up my mind about it,” Dash said, rubbing her head with her hoof. “It's like I'm stuck in the middle, really, and well, just now, I finally decided to ask somepony about it. And since you are the brains around here, Twilight...”
The unicorn nodded. “I understand. Well, then, what's exactly been bothering you, Rainbow Dash?”
“Well... There was this dream that I had a few days ago. It was after I came back from seeing the Wonderbolts and before I told you about the Changelings that morning. Well, earlier that morning, I had this dream where... Basically, I found this mirror in this dark place and while I was walking to it, suddenly, I felt myself changing all over. My coat felt like it was being shocked by lightning, my mane and tail felt like they were getting wild and crazy for some reason, my entire body felt like it was getting stronger... And in the middle of all that, I felt very calm throughout the whole thing, as strange as that sounds. Yet, these calm feelings were somehow familiar to me. I couldn't put a hoof on it at first, but now I know.
“Well, after all that, I reached the mirror and saw myself in it,” she continued. “I looked completely different in it, Twilight.”
Calm feelings? The unicorn thought, with a puzzled look on her face, having heard the pegasus describe her dream.
“What did you look like in the mirror, Rainbow?” Twilight asked.
Suddenly, a loud burping sound, accompanied by the sound of fire, was heard, interrupting Dash. Both of them looked at where it came from, seeing a large green flame of fire above the kid dragon who now stood on the floor with the duster laying there. As the green flame faded and dispersed into the air, something then dropped onto the floor, causing Twilight to look surprised at it.
“A letter from the Princess!”
The unicorn quickly trotted over to it, with the pegasus following from behind. Her horn glowed brightly, and she levitated the letter upward and over to her face, unwrapping it and rolling it over to read its contents.
“What's it say? Anything on the Changelings?” Dash asked, standing right next to the unicorn and looking at it.
“'Dear Twilight Sparkle,’” the unicorn began reading. “’It is with great urgency that I must inform you that we have found the location of the Changeling Queen and her army. My scouts have reported that they are situated within the Everfree Forest, near and around the old Castle of the Royal Sisters, with the Queen herself inside the castle.' Wait, what?!”
“Did she say Everfree Forest?!” asked Dash, surprised. “And in that old castle where we first found the Elements of Harmony?! Are they really that close?!”
“Wow, what the heck are they doing in there?” asked Spike. “Can't believe they've been hiding under our own noses like that!”
“Hold on, there's more,” the unicorn said. “'While we do not know why they are situated there, even with the reconnaissance skills of our scouts, it is clear that, regardless of their motives, they must be stopped at all costs, as we cannot allow any more incidents similar to the one in Manehattan to happen. Thus, with your short distance to the forest, it is now upon me to deliver the Elements of Harmony to you, my faithful student, so that you and your friends may stop them for good this time. I have already sent the Elements to you via my royal courier, and by the time you finish reading this letter, they should have already arrived. Good luck, my faithful student, and be careful.’”
As soon as she finished the letter, suddenly, they heard the door knocking from behind them, making them glance back.
“Coming!” Twilight dropped the letter, turned around, and ran towards the door. She opened the door with her magic, and who stood there was a gold-armored white pegasus carrying a pinkish-purple box with one hoof.
“Here they are.” The unicorn levitated the box towards her and turned around, walking back to the center of the library with it as the royal guard then flew away.
Getting back to Dash and Spike, Twilight stopped there and placed the box on the ground. She opened it and there they were: the five golden necklaces with the jeweled cutie marks on them and the unicorn's Crown of Magic.
As soon as she placed her very eyes on them, though, Dash suddenly felt something. A sense of longing within her, it was. Something inside of her was calling out to the Elements themselves, she felt, urging to be united with them like a child that was longing to be united with his parents.
What's going on? She thought. Why was she feeling this sense of longing all of a sudden? This had never happened before, she recalled.
“Looks like we got no time to lose, Rainbow Dash,” said Twilight, using her horn to levitate the Crown of Magic as well as the Necklace of Loyalty. “We have to get the others right away.”
“Oh, uh, right! Gimme it, then!”
The necklace went over to Dash's neck and placed itself on it, while the Crown was placed on the unicorn's head. She closed the box and began to levitate it again, taking it with her as she began to run for the doorway, with the pegasus taking off to the air and following her.
“Wish us luck, Spike!” exclaimed Twilight.
“Will do,” nodded Spike. “Be careful out there!”
On an open straight path through Everfree Forest in the darkness of the night, there trotted the ponies who had now donned all of the Elements of Harmony and were now heading towards their destination. As they walked on, several blocks of trees both tall and short slowly passed them by, with an eerie mist that could be seen past the trees. Sounds of the forest's wildlife were heard around them, from owls hooting to timberwolves howling towards the sparkling moon above.
The air was damp and cold all around, and a slightly thick patch of fog could be seen throughout the open path. Rarity shivered a bit as she trotted along.
“Remind me why we're out here in this awful place again?” she asked, looking around. “Those nasty ruffians couldn't possibly be hiding out here, could they?”
“They are,” said Twilight. “The Princess wouldn't exactly send the Elements to us if she wasn't sure that they were here.”
“Kinda hard to believe they're out here in this darn forest,” said Applejack. “Were they holed up in here all this time, after what happened at Canterlot back then?”
“I don't know. That love spell from Cadence and Shining Armor had scattered them pretty far apart from each other. Though, obviously, it didn't stop them from telepathically communicating with each other, as we learned from the Manehattan incident a few days ago,” said Twilight. “Well, whatever they're up to out here and in that castle, it isn't good, and they need to be stopped for good this time.”
“I agree,” said Rarity. “Let's get this over with so I can get back to my beauty sleep.”
“Yeah, and I can get back to my cupcake baking!” exclaimed Pinkie Pie, happily smiling. “I've been working on a special recipe for them, actually, and boy, are they going to be delicious!”
The friends trotted onward to their destination, with Dash and Fluttershy remaining silent. The blue pegasus, flying in the air a feet above them, was staring at each of the Elements that they donned. The sense of longing and unity she felt inside of her earlier had gotten stronger from before, and she had noticed this when each of her friends had donned them. One by one, with every necklace being placed on them, they built upon this sense inside of her like a stack of objects.
Trotting along further, the fog around them was increasingly becoming larger and thicker with every hoof step made, as Twilight soon noticed.
“The fog... We must be getting close to the castle. Not much further now, everypony.”
Just then, a small hissing sound was heard, hissing like a snake for a bit.
“Huh?” Fluttershy stopped there, glancing around at the trees that covered their left and right. “Do you hear that?”
“Yeah,” replied Pinkie, glancing around as well. “Sounds like...”
As all of them could hear the sound which caused them to stop in their tracks and look around, the single hissing sound coming from somewhere slowly grew into a group of hissings that was being heard from around them. The hissings continued to become louder and louder, until it was as loud as a large crowd that numbered in the hundreds.
“Changelings! They're around us in the trees!” Dash exclaimed.
“Looks like there’s a lot of them surroundin' us!” Applejack exclaimed. “There seems to be just as many as there were before, back in Canterlot! Judging from these hissin' sounds and all.”
“So the entire army is here?!” asked Dash.
“Looks that way. Stay on your guard, everypony!” Twilight exclaimed.
The ponies backed themselves toward each other, facing different directions as the hissings grew louder and louder. Soon enough, like a long line of ceiling lights that was being turned on with the flip of a switch, the darkness of the forest, within the acres of trees that stood, slowly began to light up with what looked like individual horns that were glowing bright green. One by one, the glowing horns slowly vanquished the darkness away, and now it looked like there was, indeed, an army of these horns behind and near the trees. With the bright collective glow illuminating themselves as well, the Changelings were now in plain sight, with the distinctive bluish-green tint of their insect eyes.
“Hey, they don't seem to be looking at us!” Applejack observed. “They seem to be looking at...”
“The castle?” Twilight noticed, looking towards the area where the fog was most dense. “What?!”
Suddenly, the glow of the bladed horns became larger and brighter, with the furious appearance of an electric spark. Then, all of the horns burst and shot out long beams of green energy upward, flying towards the direction of the dense fog ahead. All of the streams then clashed into each other at the same exact point, creating a shockwave that shook the forest to its very knees and swayed the trees away. The beams merged furiously into what appeared to be a very large cloud of energy with green electricity crackling all over it.
“Whoa, what in the hay?!” Applejack stumbled along with her friends, thanks to the resulting shockwave. “Huh? Look at that!”
“It's above the castle, where the queen is!” Twilight exclaimed. “There's no time to lose! Come on, everypony!”
The unicorn began to run off into the fog, with the others following her. Going into the thick patch of fog, the ponies then reached the end of the long path, heading into what seemed like a dead end as a large block of trees were in their way. But as the unicorn knew, their destination was at the other side of this block of trees.
The ponies headed straight through the trees and into the closed section of the forest. Passing through a thick patch of grass, they constantly dodged the obstacles that stood in their way, jumping across fallen logs and deep trenches.
“Stay tough, stay tough!” Fluttershy constantly told herself as she ran through the forest with a fearful look on her face, trying to evade the trees and logs as best as she could.
Ahead, with her rainbow mane swept back and her upper hooves out in front, Dash was swiftly flying through the forest effortlessly, dodging the trees left and right with a determined look on her face.
Soon, they reached the exit out of there as the number of trees ceased to zero. Running out, the ponies then came to a halt as they had finally arrived at their destination.
“We're here!” Twilight exclaimed.
With the large green cloud of energy above them covering most of the sky now and bristling with electricity and lightning within, what laid ahead of the ponies was a long wooden bridge that overlooked a large, wide, thick cloud of fog that reached as high as a few feet above the bridge itself. At the tail end of the bridge, on the other side, stood the ruins of an old castle that was slightly covered with moss all over. Behind the main part of the castle ruins stood a tall, but slightly crumbling tower, with a staircase at the outer side of it that led to the tower's top floor.
“Looks like the bridge kept itself up after I fixed it a while back,” Dash said. “How long was it since we last came here, anyway?”
“It's certainly been a while, Rainbow,” replied Twilight.
“Yeah, kinda hard to believe that this was where it all started, really,” said Applejack. “If it hadn't been for us...”
“Eternal night would've definitely happened by now. Hmm.” Taking a glance into the castle ruins past its doors, the purple unicorn searched for any sign of the Changeling leader. “...I don't see the Queen in there, at least not from this distance. She must be in the throne room, then.”
Just then, a loud crackle of booming thunder was heard from the energy cloud above, roaring through the sky like a lion and catching the ponies' attention. Then, suddenly, the very center of the cloud shot down a burst of green lightning towards the tower that was right below it, crashing on its top side. As the ponies saw, with its continuous crashing, the lightning then seemingly seeped through its open windows, and soon, the interiors of the top floor lit up like a bright fire.
“And it looks like she is! Come on!” Twilight exclaimed.
The unicorn and her friends ran off again, proceeding across the bridge and charging straight into the castle's double doors, forcing them open to reach the tower.
Inside of the large throne room at the top of the tower, various streams of furious lightning were crackling in through the windows. The streams were leading towards a single point in the throne room. As they got closer and closer to that point, the lightning then merged into one as they came into contact with their destination, lighting her black jagged horn up brightly and causing her hole-filled, dark blue mane and tail to move wildly with the surrounding winds of energy.
In front of the couple of stairs that led to the moon-marked throne of the night ahead of her, the black Queen of the Changelings, Chrysalis, stood there, with her eyes closed and her head lifted up as she continued to absorb the lightning that was striking her horn from all directions.
“Ooh, yes… All of this love energy that was stolen from those pathetic equines... It is glorious!” exclaimed Chrysalis, with a smile on her face. “Soon... Soon, you'll be free from the prison they've sealed you in, and only then will you be the perfect ally for us as we take over Equestria and feed upon them all!”
The queen chuckled with a wicked-sounding tone. Then, she heard a voice from behind.
“Hold it right there, Changeling Queen!”
With her smile fading, the Queen opened her eyes and looked back to see who it was. At sight of them, she smiled calmly, turning around to half-face them while she continued the absorption.
“Ah... it's you six,” she said. “The wielders of the Elements of Harmony, led by my would-be betrothed's annoying little sister. I knew you would come, no doubt at the bidding of that pathetic Sun Princess whose scouts had escaped from us. Hmm, it's certainly been a while since we invaded Canterlot, yes?”
“Certainly. And from that, we certainly learned that you're a dangerous one who needs to be stopped!” exclaimed Twilight, looking firm along with her friends.
“Yeah! So whatever it is that you're doing here or planning next, you better cease it right now!” Dash exclaimed, pointing her hoof at her.
“Or else, what? Unleash the power of Harmony upon me?” asked Chrysalis. She chuckled. “Oh, I don't think so, my little ponies. Not when I have this grand opportunity here that's waiting to be snatched.”
“What do you mean?!” asked Applejack. “Why are you way out here in the forest, anyway?”
“Yeah, and what is it that you're doing with your horn?” asked Twilight.
The queen chuckled again. “See for yourself.”
With her horn still absorbing the energy, Chrysalis took a few steps back and to the side, moving the surrounding light from her horn away and allowing the ponies to see what was in front of the throne itself. What they saw had caused them to let out a loud gasp.
“WHAT?! DISCORD?!” shouted the purple unicorn, her eyes wide open.
Indeed, what stood in front of the throne was none other than the grey stone prison of the many-animal-limbed Spirit of Chaos himself, still with the arms-forward position and the same shocked expression that they left him in when they fired the Elements upon him.
With the statue in sight, suddenly, in her shocked eyes, Dash flashed back to her earlier dream and to the moment where she found Discord's silhouette frighteningly looming over her with his echoing laughter. Was his appearance in her dream supposed to warn her of this? She wondered. Or was it all a coincidence?
“You're planning to free him?!” asked Applejack.
“Yes,” replied the Queen, smiling. “Honestly, why else would my Changelings and I be here in this forest of no value otherwise?”
“But, we sealed him with the Elements, and as far as I know, only the Elements can free him as well,” said Twilight. “Just how are you planning to do this?”
“With the power of love, of course. The very same power that I used to win the struggle with that pathetic Celestia. Surprising, though, that it only took the feeding of your brother to do it. Ha! And they said she was a goddess who couldn't be overcome by anything... I believe I had proven otherwise.”
Chrysalis chuckled, glancing over at Discord's statue.
“You see, my little ponies, when the white stallion and the Princess whose identity I had stolen for myself had unleashed their spell to repel us away from Canterlot, a portion of us and I had landed near these old castle ruins,” she explained. “It was here that we found him as you can see, and it was from him that I sensed an enormous power. Since they had been disguised within Canterlot for a time, it was from some of my dear Changelings that I learned of who was imprisoned before me: Discord, the Spirit of Chaos, who had ruled these lands for a time until he was sealed by the Elements of Harmony. Once, by the two sister princesses...”
The Queen glanced over at the ponies again.
“...and again by you six. Hm, how careless of me to not realize the danger that you all possessed back then. Now I know why you were heading towards that tower. It was because it stored your precious Elements in there.”
“Yeah, that's right,” Twilight said, with a determined look again. “We would've stopped you by then if it wasn't for your massive Changeling horde there.”
“Indeed, you would have. And then, we would not be here afterward. But alas... we are.”
Chrysalis turned and faced Discord's prison again, with a grin on her face.
“If the love energy of just one measly stallion unicorn can enable me to overpower Celestia, a proclaimed goddess of all things... then imagine what the love energy of hundreds of ponies can enable me to do! I would've easily taken over Equestria by now with this alone if I chose to, but then, there would still be the Elements of Harmony to oppose me after all... They say that the Elements are the most powerful magic in all of Equestria. Well, then, let's test that claim, shall we? And what better way to test it than to try and free him from his prison?!”
Twilight quickly took a step back, gritting her teeth and positioning her head slightly closer to the ground. ”I don't know what exactly is it that you're trying to gain by freeing Discord, but this ends here, wicked queen! Once and for all! Girls?”
At her command, her friends moved closer to her, looking as firm as her.
“May I ask why Discord's stone prison was placed here in the first place, anyway?” asked Rarity, looking a bit worried at the purple unicorn. “I thought he was placed back in Canterlot's garden?”
“I thought so, too, Rarity,” replied Twilight. “Maybe the Princess decided to move him here in these old ruins.”
“Well, whatever the reason, I certainly don't want a world full of nonsensical things again. He must not be freed again. Ever!” exclaimed the white unicorn, back in her determined expression towards the queen.
“I'm with you there, Rarity,” Applejack said. “Ready when you are, Twilight!”
“Yeah, let's do this!” exclaimed Dash.
The queen chuckled again. “Oh yes, let's see you try and unleash the power of Harmony upon me... while you try and defend yourself from them as well! Children! Come to the aid of your glorious queen at once! Stop them from using the Elements upon me!”
Surprised and caught off-guard by the queen's sudden call, a few seconds later, the ponies began to hear the mass hissing sounds around them again, this time coming from below and ascending to their level. Then, from the many open windows of the throne room, the Changeling horde began to pour into the area like an ocean wave, their insect wings buzzing loudly as they wasted no time in surrounding the Element wielders.
Seeing the horde surround and trap them in the space they were in, the ponies backed themselves into each other as they glanced at the horde around them.
“Darn! I knew she would call her cronies to stop us!” Dash exclaimed, gritting her teeth angrily.
“Can't we just activate the Elements now?” asked Applejack, looking worried.
“We could try, but then they'll interrupt us,” said Twilight, glancing around with irritation.
“Can't you put your shield up to protect us?” asked Rarity.
“I-I can't do that while we're using the Elements! It'll put too much of a strain on me!” Twilight exclaimed. She then growled with frustration. “Darn it!”
“Really?! What are we gonna do now?!” asked Pinkie, with her eyes wide open as she quickly glanced around.
“The only thing we can do, Pinkie,” Dash said. “We fight them off! Hyah!!”
With that yell, the blue pegasus quickly took off towards one of the Changelings, pulled her hoof back, and swung it towards the creature, knocking it away. Not wasting a single second, she kicked another of them nearby and then quickly threw a hoof toward another.
At Dash's sudden attacks, in response, the Changeling horde closed in on the ponies to retaliate.
“Rainbow is right! There's no choice! Defend yourselves, everypony!” Twilight yelled.
As the horde closed in on them, a great battle then erupted between the ponies and the Changelings in the middle of the throne room. The creatures tried to swing their hooves at the ponies, but they quickly dodged and counterattacked whenever there was a chance to. Applejack and Rarity constantly bucked and punched through the creatures, delivering blows to them while dodging their hooves. Dash and Pinkie quickly moved and plowed through them, hitting each and every one of them that flew in the way.
Fluttershy, still afraid and timid as she was, knocked each of them back to her very best as they came to her, apologizing aloud each time she hit them.
“I'm sorry! I didn't mean it! I'm sorry for that, too!”
Pointing her horn and using her magic, Twilight was shooting out focused energy blasts at her targets, hitting the horde back and keeping them at bay while she stood there.
“Stay back! We're not letting you stop us!” she exclaimed.
As the battle raged on, the ponies were slowly scattering themselves away from each other as they continued to ward off the Changelings, ending up at the various corners of the throne room. Just as Chrysalis needed, however, her children were successfully buying time for her to finish her energy absorption.
“Foolish equines!” exclaimed the Queen. “What good are the Elements to you if they require you to concentrate?! And yet here you all are, so greatly distracted by my children! ...EEEYAAAH!”
Chrysalis lifted her head all the way up, and as she did, the light emitting from her horn became larger and brighter, taking on a more furious appearance. The lightning pouring in from the windows had ceased. With the bright light further illuminating the throne room, both the Changelings and the ponies stopped their fighting and looked over to her.
“What?! No!” exclaimed the purple unicorn, realizing what the Queen was about to do.
Chrysalis laughed. “It is time, Spirit of Chaos! Time for you to be free of the prison that they've wrongfully jailed you in! Be released, Discord, and join us in our grand feasting!!”
As everyone witnessed next, the Queen swiftly pointed her bright horn towards the draconequus, blasting out a wild energy beam straight at him. The beam came into contact with his chest, striking it fiercely with miniature sparks bouncing off from the point of contact. The stone prison then began to glow an outline of bright green. To the surprise of the Element wielders, cracks began to form all over him.
“What?! No way!” Applejack exclaimed. “How in the hay is it working?!”
“Impossible! Is the power of love really that stronger than the Elements of Harmony?” Rarity wondered aloud.
“No! You mustn't do this!” yelled Twilight.
Dash growled, gritting her teeth. “Stooooop!”
Wildly flapping her wings, the blue pegasus quickly took off, heading towards the Queen. Some of the Changelings flew up and tried to block her way, only for her to plow right through them. Just as Dash almost reached the Queen, however, a nearby Changeling quickly flew into her from the side and, using its entire body, knocked her away. Both the creature and the pegasus crashed to the ground, sliding across it with the creature right on top of her.
“Ugh...! Why you little...” Dash growled at it, with the creature hissing back at her in response.
Chrysalis continued her energy beam, and the statue began cracking up more and more with pieces of stone flying off of it. Then, like the glass of a window, the statue finally cracked apart and exploded wildly, with pieces of stone flying off everywhere.
Feeling the senses of his own body again and as the air entered his lungs, raising up and bringing down his arms, Discord let out a loud gasp to breathe in the air, letting loose a loud scream towards the ceiling of the throne room afterward with his head completely tilted upward. After a long time, the Spirit of Chaos was finally free of his confines once again.
“Ugh, no!” Seeing the freed draconequus, Dash tried to get up from the ground, but the creature on top of her pressured her back down again. Growling, she swiftly threw her head forward, headbutting it up to loosen the pressure on her. In the second afterward, she threw her right hoof at its face, knocking it completely off of her and allowing her to fly again.
Flying back up, Dash gritted her teeth angrily at the creature that was now hovering in the air with its wings buzzing. “You freaks are going to pay for this! Hyaa!”
Enraged, she flew up to it and launched a strong hoof on it that knocked it away again. Seeing this, the other Changelings resumed their attacks on the other ponies, and the raging battle quickly resumed.
Standing there where he was, Discord tilted his head downward and leaned his body forward, breathing heavily with his eyes closed. Then, after a few needed breathers, the draconequus opened his eyes and saw what was happening in front of him, surprising him.
“...Huh?! Where am I?! What in the name of Chaos is going on here?!” he wondered aloud, standing up straight after leaning forward and recognizing the Element wielders, dumbfounded as he saw them fighting against the creatures. “Oh my... I thought Rainbow Dash was the only violent one here.”
As Discord looked at her standing in front of him, Chrysalis lowered herself to the ground, bowing before him with her eyes closed.
“It is I, Chrysalis, Queen of the Changelings. The leader of the creatures who are fighting against the very ponies that sealed you within that awful prison,” she said. “With the power of love at my side, it was I who has freed you from it.”
“Oh? The power of love? Hmm... Interesting that such a power could surpass that of the Elements of Harmony,” Discord said, looking fascinated.
The queen stood up and nodded, opening her eyes. “Indeed, Spirit of Chaos. And now that I have freed you, I offer you a proposal. Join us. Help us as we take over Equestria. With your power to tear this land apart in utter chaos, it will be so much easier to feast upon the love energy of these ponies. Only then will we finally thrive as a species. The dominant species that will then rule over all!
“So, what do you say, my dear draconequus?” she asked, smiling. “Do you accept our grand proposal?”
Folding his arms and caressing his white goatee with his lion paw, Discord thought about it for a bit.
“...Hmm, no thank you. Going solo is my preferred choice here, honestly,” he replied, with his eyes closed.
“...What? You decline our propos—”
The draconequus snapped the fingers of his paw loudly, and in one swift second, the queen suddenly felt huge gusts of wind blowing straight at her from out of nowhere, causing her to be pushed back slowly and forcing her eyes and mouth to be shut tight as she struggled against the strong winds.
“Ugh...! Wh-what is the meaning of this?! Why are you denying us our salvation?! I've freed you, darn it! How dare you oppose us like thiiiiiiiiis?!”
The gusts of wind quickly grew stronger than before, and the Queen suddenly found herself flying backwards in the air at a swift speed, screaming as she was sent flying. The strong winds, reaching them as they came, also hit the entire Changeling horde back as well, sending them flying along with their Queen as they headed towards the exiting stairwell and went out of sight.
“What the...?” Dash had just witnessed what happened, strangely unaffected by the winds with her friends. “Wow, talk about an instant betrayal there.”
“Yeah. Guess he doesn't like teaming up with anyone,” Applejack said, standing there and gazing at the exit.
“Oh, it’s not quite that, Applejack,” Discord said. “It's just that I happen to dislike ugly-looking creatures such as them. I really hope they aren't trying to win some beauty contests with their rather grotesque bug eyes.”
Hearing him, Twilight turned around to face the draconequus, looking resolute again. “Discord.”
With the Changelings gone, seeing Twilight run up to him, the ponies proceeded to regroup with her as she now stood a few feet from the Spirit of Chaos himself. All of them had their firm gaze upon him.
“I know, I know. I've missed you, too. It's been a while, eh?” said the draconequus, looking calm and trimming his eagle claw with a trimmer he summoned. “Oh, look at that. My nails have grown long, thanks to you ponies who had to put me in jail like that.”
“Uh huh... You do realize that we can seal you back in, right?” asked Twilight.
“Oh, I know, since those pretty jeweled necklaces and that crown of yours are on you as we speak. Seriously, why can't the Elements be, I don't know, a group of colorful diamond-shaped gemstones, instead? They would look more threatening to me that way if you ask me, instead of looking like something that a pretty pony princess would wear... Hm.”
Tossing the trimmer away, Discord glanced towards them, standing straight and tall.
“Honestly, the better question is, will I allow myself to taste the rainbow again like I so mistakenly did the first two times around? Once when I was laughing towards the two princesses because I thought that they couldn’t do anything to me, and again when I thought I had erased the Magic of Friendship from you? No, sirree, I don't think I can afford another blind mistake like that again. As they say, the third time's the charm.
“Seriously, do you ponies even know what it's like to be stuck in a rather cramped prison like that?” he asked, leaning forward a bit with a slightly annoyed look. “No, of course you don't. All you care about is living in your own little world that is full of peace and harmony. Where is the fun in having such a harmonic place, really?”
“Well, it's better than living in your chaotic world that doesn't make sense and is full of dancing buffalos in pink tights,” said Twilight.
“I rightfully disagree with you, Twilight Sparkle. I find my world of Chaos to be a lot more interesting than... this.” The draconequus glanced around at his surroundings and then looked towards the ponies again, chuckling this time and standing up straight. “Ah... but you don't even know what true Chaos is like, eh, Twilight?”
“Huh? True Chaos?” asked the unicorn, raising an eyebrow at him.
“Yes. Real Chaos,” Discord said, putting his paw and claw together, with them beginning to massage each other. “The world that you saw before was only the first step in renovating Equestria into my new kingdom. If only you didn't fire the Elements upon poor old me like that, then you would have seen it... I believe you will now.”
“...From the way you're sayin' it, its soundin' like its worse than what we saw before,” said Applejack. “Just what are you plannin' to do, Discord?”
The draconequus laughed, with his hands letting go of each other. “All in good time, my dear Applejack! All in good time. For now, though, I just need a little... spark. A spark that will bring forth my true chaotic world... and I know just the right way to do it.”
Discord fixed his gaze upon Twilight, calmly smiling at her.
“Hmm, the Element of Magic... The big cheese that powers all of the Elements of Harmony together,” he said. “Since I'm obviously not a being of Harmony myself, and I wouldn't want to be one anyway, I can only guess that it takes a talented unicorn in order to properly wield it... Ah, but of course. Otherwise, you six wouldn't be here and, well, you know, Chaos would be everywhere by now. Well, then, that reminds me of something. Back in the day, when I did rule Equestria, there were these unicorns who... Hm, to put it mildly, they went wild when the Chaos had affected them. As I soon knew, these very same unicorns had a great magical potential within them just like you, Twilight. And well... Hm, telling you would spoil what I'm about to do now.”
“What? What exactly happened to these unicorns, Discord?” Twilight asked, her resolution seemingly faltering slightly as she tried to understand what she just heard.
“Like I said, telling you would spoil it.”
Within a second, the Spirit of Chaos disappeared with a white flash. With the same flash a split-second later, he immediately reappeared right in front of Twilight, still calmly smiling down at her and startling all of them with his sudden teleportation.
“Hey, what in the hay are you doing?!” asked Applejack, taking a step back.
“Don't you dare touch her, Discord!” exclaimed Dash.
“Now now, my little ponies. All I'm going to do here is give her a little wake-up call. Nothing drastic,” Discord said, waving a finger of his. He chuckled again. “Ah yes... I could feel it within you, Twilight Sparkle. That swirling magical affinity that you hold inside. All doubts are erased, then. You truly are the rightful holder of the Element of Magic, my dear Twilight. Ha ha! It's splendid that you have this great affinity inside of you! ...But what good is it, really...”
Looking at his eagle claw, he lowered it down to her, putting it at the side of her head with Twilight’s eyes following it.
“...if you don't have the will to control it?”
“Hey!” Dash yelled. “I said don't touch her!”
Ignoring the blue pegasus, the draconequus lightly tapped on the side of Twilight's head with one finger of his claw.
At the instant when he touched her, suddenly, something flared up to a great degree inside of the purple unicorn. Something snapped within her like a twig, shooting great burning pain across her from the inside. It caused her eyes to widen and her pupils to shrink as small as they could.
Seeing her eyes, gasping, Dash then growled angrily and gritted her teeth at the draconequus. “You asked for it, then!”
Pulling her hoof back, she flew up to his head, attempting to swing her hoof at him. Putting his paw up with it glowing bright yellow, Discord aimed it at her. Just before the hoof tried to land on him, Dash was quickly stopped in mid-air with her Element necklace going in the opposite direction, holding her back with the same yellow glow.
“Ugh! What...?” Dash felt herself choking a bit due to her constraining necklace. “Hey! Let me go!”
“Always the violent and rebellious one, aren't you, Rainbow Dash?” Discord asked, smiling at her. “I think you need a little anger management here, really.”
Dash growled at him in response. The draconequus then grabbed her with both his paw and claw, holding her as if she was a plush doll and facing her towards him.
“Here, be a good little girl and watch this moment with me, will you?”
As she was turned around, still being held by him, Dash then noticed the purple unicorn who was now twitching and whining a lot as if she was constantly being frightened by something, with the same wide-eyed expression on her.
“Twilight, are you okay?! What's wrong with you?!” asked Pinkie, alarmed and worried with the rest of them.
Something was going out of control within the purple unicorn. Something that was continuously causing her to act and move as she did. Her dot-like, painful-looking eyes were constantly moving left and right as she tried to figure out what the draconequus did to her.
Then, she finally knew it as she recalled her past, for this had happened before.
“...N-No...! Not... again! What... did you... do to me...?! My... magic...! It's... it's going out of.... c-c-c-c---”
Before she could even finish, suddenly, her horn began to flash white a few times, flickering continuously with white particles seeping out and dropping down to the floor. Discord slowly walked back with Dash still in his grasp.
“My little ponies, you may want to step back a bit. Otherwise, you'll get caught by her magic,” he said. “And her transformation afterward as well. It's going to be quite... hot.”
“Ugh, what are you talking about?! Twilight! Snap out of it!” yelled Dash, trying to struggle out of Discord's grasp.
“Step back?” Applejack wondered aloud. “What is he—”
Suddenly, the unicorn's body began to shake violently, and her whines became louder and more frequent. The pain within her was becoming greater and greater with every second that passed, and soon, she felt like she was about to burst from within as she then began to lose complete control of herself.
With that great scream from her, a great wild burst of purple magical energy exploded out of her from all sides, causing her friends behind her to be knocked swiftly away by the resulting strong force and the winds of it. Sliding and rolling on the floor, her friends pushed themselves up and quickly saw her floating in the air above the floor.
“Huh?! Her horn!” exclaimed Rarity. “It's...”
“...gone out of control!” exclaimed Pinkie.
The unicorn's horn, engulfed in a bright white light, was shooting out several energy blasts from it in different directions, hitting the walls of the throne room as well as going outside the windows. She was screaming at a constant rate, with her eyes glowing bright white and with no visible pupils on them as if she was blind with rage. Her mane and tail were lifted upwards, and the Element of Magic that was on her before had fallen away from her, now on the floor a few feet near her.
“Oh my goodness, she's helpless like that!” exclaimed Rarity, standing up. “We have got to do something!”
“Ugh, yeah, but how? Her magic will get in the way if we try to reach her like this!” exclaimed Applejack. “Hey, wait a minute...! Wasn't she like this before when she was a little filly, but she was stopped by Princess Celestia?”
“…Oh my word, you're right!”
“So only the Princess can stop this?!” asked Fluttershy, alarmed and afraid.
Discord chuckled, watching it all unfold. “If you ponies think you'll never see her again after this rather spectacular performance, relax. Don't fret, 'cause the fun...”
With a pair of black sunglasses appearing near his eyes, Discord then put them on with his claw while still holding the blue pegasus.
“...is about to begin. Off you go now, Rainbow Dash. Let's see if you can try and save your little friend now, hmm?”
The draconequus released his hold on Dash, dropping her down to the ground. Puzzled on why he had let her go like this, she quickly dismissed it and flew off towards the helpless floating unicorn.
“Twilight! It's alright, I'm here now! ...Oh man.”
Frantically searching for a way to try and stop her amidst the unicorn's constant screaming, Dash then looked at her brightly-lit horn. Using both front hooves together, the pegasus tried to cover and suppress her horn to get it under control.
But as soon as she touched it, the horn shocked her back, hurting her and knocking her away to the floor. She hit it, sliding on it and stopping there.
“Rainbow Dash!” yelled Applejack. “Huh?!”
Suddenly, Twilight's screams became louder than before, and she now twitched more violently as well. As everyone saw next, the unicorn began to glow an outline of bright orange around her, and her mane and tail slowly took on a more flame-like appearance instead of their usual style.
With the ponies being forced to do nothing but watch her twitch more violently with every passing second, soon, the helpless violent Twilight finally let out one last, great, harrowing scream to the ceiling above her.
With that last great scream, another explosion occurred, this time more gigantic than before and was made completely out of orange burning fire instead of magic energy. The explosion of fire was so great that, with its devastating force, it blew away the walls of the throne room itself, letting the damp atmosphere of the forest fully enter it like a victorious army that had conquered a great city.
Fire was everywhere for the next few moments, with the entire tower having felt the shockwave that came from the explosion at its top floor. Debris was flying everywhere, and after the fire had dissipated, thick grey smoke covered what was left of the throne room.
The coughing sounds of the ponies were heard, trying to breathe amidst the smoke. After half of the smoke dissipated, Dash flew in the air with a few burnt marks on her coat, coughing a lot as she tried to find her friends.
“...Guys? Where are you?”
“We're right here, Rainbow,” answered Applejack, coughing a lot. “At the stairs.”
Flying through the smoke in the direction of the exiting stairwell, Dash found them lying next to each other on the ground near the exit. She landed and ran up to them.
“Guys! Are you alright?!”
“Yeah, we're alright,” the orange pony said, trying to stand up. “Talk about messing with fire again, eh? Ugh.”
Like Dash, the rest of them had small burnt marks on their coats as well, thanks to the explosion of fire that had occurred. The blue pegasus helped her orange friend up with her hooves, while the rest of them managed to stand up on their own.
Rarity coughed a bit. “Where is Twilight? I hope she didn't...”
At that, realizing it, the ponies then glanced around at the now-destroyed throne room, trying to search for her. The lingering smoke began to completely fade away from the area, and still there was no sign of her.
“Hey, look up ahead!” Pinkie directed, pointing her hoof at what she saw.
They looked. A thick patch of smoke still lingered in the central part of the throne room, but soon, it dissipated away, allowing them to see who now stood there.
With the smoke completely gone from the area, allowing the moon to shine its light upon it and with the damp air of the forest filling it, what now stood there in the middle of the destroyed throne room was a unicorn that was facing ahead, sporting a light tan coat with a touch of orange on it. Her mane and tail were of the unusual type. Instead of the normal kind, they were of great, orange, raging flames that stood on their end. The flames waved and moved at a fast speed, emitting orange embers from them as well.
Though the unicorn could be somepony else from the flames and the tan coat, from her cutie mark alone, however, they quickly knew that it was her.
“...What?! Twilight, is that you?!” asked Applejack, surprised at her. “Your cutie mark's the same, so it has to be you! Is it?”
“Oh my! What on earth has she become?!” asked Rarity, distraught by what she saw with her hoof on her mouth.
Seeing Twilight's new flaming appearance in front of her, Dash was quickly reminded of something: her dream. The moment where she looked at herself in the gold-plated mirror and found herself with a similar flaming appearance, albeit with a pure white coat instead of a tan one.
Then, as she remembered her dream, suddenly and somehow, the blue pegasus began to feel something coming from the burning unicorn. A stream of wild feelings that raged within her, it was, much like her flaming mane and tail. As Dash recalled the dream again, she noticed that it was in stark contrast to the calm Harmonic feelings that she felt whilst in her own flaming form.
...Chaotic energy? She thought. Was that what she was feeling from the unicorn now? If so, why was she feeling this, then? And how?
“...Twilight?” Pinkie called, looking a bit afraid.
Seemingly standing there and ignoring them, the unicorn then finally moved her front hoof to her right. With more hoof movements, she was slowly turning around to face them, and soon, all of them saw her face. Stopping there with her friends ahead of her, the unicorn sported a firm frowning look on her. Along with her flaming mane and her tan coat, the irises of her eyes were changed as well. They weren't her normal violet. They were ruby red, instead.
After a few seconds, her frowning look quickly shifted. Her eyes went back to the wide-eyed look she had before, but her pupils shrunk halfway this time instead of becoming dot-like. Then, she formed a very wide grin on her face. With the huge grin and the shrunk eyes, she looked like a pony that had belonged to a mental asylum.
Letting out slight gasps, the ponies were both surprised and greatly disturbed at the rather insane look she had now, with Fluttershy squeaking a bit in fear.
“Whoa, Twilight...! Are you... okay?” Dash asked.
In response, the unicorn began to chuckle with a wicked tone to it. A chuckle that then turned into a loud string of laughter, laughing louder and louder as she lifted her head towards the sky. Finishing her laughter, she glanced down and towards them again with the same crazed look on her face.
“Yes... I'm feeling mighty fine right now... In fact, I'm feeling rather wild right now! Heheheheeee…”
“Wow. What in the hay did Discord do to her...?” Applejack wondered aloud, blinking her eyes and looking disturbed at her.
“Whatever he did, I would say that she's definitely not herself anymore!” exclaimed Rarity.
Twilight chuckled again, her pupils going back to normal and with her grin shrinking a bit.
“Friends,” she said, calmly. “Who really needs them when you have this great power inside of you that was lying dormant before? Who needs them when you can fight on your own? ...I can't believe that my eyes were closed all this time, causing me to forget the greatest potential inside of me, causing me to forget that this is how I was supposed to be all along... I nearly reached this state when I was a little filly, but I was stopped by that darn Princess... and you five who influenced my amnesia.”
“W-what? What in the hay are you talking about, Twilight?!” asked Applejack, further disturbed by her speech.
“Oh, it doesn't matter. It’s time to begin my experiments with this power. And who else to test it on…”
Taking a step back and looking like she was about to run off, the burning unicorn's horn glowed bright orange and her flames began to rage faster than ever.
“…but you five? Stay still, would you please?”
With that, Twilight quickly took off towards the ponies ahead, her flames leaving behind several embers as she ran for them.
“Wait, Twilight! We're not who you thi—”
Ignoring her, the unicorn shot out an orange-colored energy blast directly at Dash. The blast quickly hit her, causing her to yelp in pain. The force of it knocked her up and away towards the exiting stairway behind them.
As Twilight reached them, the ponies immediately split up and ran away in different directions, scattering away from each other while still in the throne room area and trying to put some distance between them and the burning unicorn.
Twilight stopped there, chuckling. “Being afraid of becoming a footnote in future history books, I see.”
Turning around and glancing at each of them, Twilight was deciding who was to be her first target. Then, she glanced towards Applejack who had stopped in the corner to the right of the throne itself and turned around.
“Uh oh!” Applejack noticed her. “She's lookin' at m—”
Before the orange earth pony could finish that sentence, the unicorn used her teleportation spell, flashing out and flashing in to appear right in front of Applejack, startling her and making her jump.
“Yikes!” exclaimed the orange pony.
“Honesty, huh?” Twilight chuckled. Still grinning, her eyes shrunk again and moved her head closer towards Applejack, further startling her. “Forget honesty. Lying is way better than telling the truth. Sometimes, to lie is to succeed!”
The unicorn swiftly turned around. Using the swift momentum of her turn, she swung her flaming tail horizontally towards the orange pony. The flames struck and burned her face as well as the upper side of her body, making her scream in pain. The sheer force of the flames also knocked her back, causing her to hit her back against the corner behind her, grunting in pain as well.
The unicorn chuckled again as she looked back, watching Applejack fall to the ground on her front with a pain-stricken face, her cowboy hat falling off of her. Looking ahead after a second, trying to decide, Twilight then focused on her next target: Pinkie Pie, who was standing near the middle of the area.
“Joy and laughter? Sadness and anger is what you’ll be feeling after this. If you survive, that is,” said the unicorn. “After all, it’s a natural thing to feel them when you get attacked by someone who you thought was a friend, according to my studies!”
Having seen what just happened to Applejack, a wide-eyed, teeth-gritting look of fear then appeared on the pink pony's face as she saw those two insane, burning red eyes gazing at her directly.
“Eeeeek! Twilight, get ahold of— Huh?!”
Suddenly, a group of orange arrows that were brightly lit and bristling with energy appeared around Pinkie in the air above her. The unicorn continued to grin with her horn glowing, preparing to unleash the arrows right at the pink pony.
“Twilight, stop!” yelled Rarity from the leftmost part of the ruins and to Twilight's right. “Don't you know what you're doing?!”
As her shrunk eyes quickly shifted towards the white unicorn, Twilight chuckled once again, her horn glowing even brighter. While still preparing to unleash the arrows, at the same time, she used her horn to lift up a piece of large debris that had fallen just outside the tower and positioned it up in the air behind Rarity.
“Being greedy pays off more in the long term. Not so much when you're being generous,” said Twilight. “All of those dresses that you’ve made for us as well as everypony else, you could’ve kept them yourself and could’ve profited from them, instead!”
With both of her attacks primed to go, she then let them loose. The arrows quickly rained down on the pink pony, causing an explosion of erupting fire and smoke that rocked the area a bit, while the large piece of debris propelled itself towards the unsuspecting Rarity. Hearing something coming for her from behind, the white unicorn glanced back, only to be smashed away by the debris that crashed on her.
Screaming in pain, Rarity flew away. Landing and sliding on the ground afterward, she stopped at the other side of the area, face flat and motionless. The smoke from the arrow-strike explosion had dissipated, and the pink pony laid there face flat as well with her coat having more burnt marks than before.
Nearly all of Twilight's former friends had now fallen, thanks to her relentless assault on them. Nearly, with only one of them left, as she noticed. With her grin turning back into a smile and her eyes enlarging back to normal, looking calm, the burning unicorn slowly turned her attention towards the last remaining Element wielder, who was lying near the corner that was to the left of the throne. She was on her front in a curled position, facing away from Twilight as she continuously shook and trembled with great fear on her face.
“Heh, always the timid one, eh, Fluttershy? Always the shy one as your namesake says,” taunted Twilight, walking up to her. “No doubt, then, that you so easily represent the Element of Kindness. And when there's kindness, there's also weakness.”
Hearing her approaching hoofsteps as well as her voice, Fluttershy squealed loudly in great fear, curling herself up further like a little filly and shaking even more. Her eyes were shut tight as she dared not to look into the burning unicorn's red-hot eyes.
“Well, why don't you be cruel, instead? It makes you look tougher, really, and it’s more rewarding than you think, if you do it right,” Twilight said, grinning again as she stopped right in front of the curled pegasus. “Ah, but knowing you, you'd refuse to, anyway.”
Her horn began to glow brightly once again.
“Oh well, I guess you can’t have everything these days. Good night.”
“No! You leave Fluttershy ALONE!”
Hearing a familiar voice screaming at her from behind, the unicorn quickly turned around, only to see an angry blue pegasus speeding directly at her in the air with her hoof pulled back. Quickly smiling and using her horn, Twilight quickly summoned up an orange orb-shaped shield around her, right before Dash swung her hoof. The hoof landed on the shield and stopped there despite the strong force of her hoof, surprising her as she saw what stopped her attempted punch.
“Ah, Rainbow Dash. Loyal as ever, aren't you?” said Twilight, smiling at her. “You ought to abandon them now unless you want to end up like them. It’s safer, really!”
Deactivating her shield and lowering her head, the unicorn then shot out another energy blast from her horn at Dash, exploding on and knocking her away again as she yelped in pain. She crashed down on the floor near the middle of the area and laid there on her back, groaning as pain shot throughout her due to the blast.
The pegasus lifted her head up to look at the burning unicorn who was walking up to her. Having heard all of her taunts as she hurt each of her friends, Dash then gritted her teeth at her angrily. Rarity was right: the innocent studious unicorn who was the rightful wielder of the Element of Magic that they all knew was definitely no longer herself. She had now become a walking, living fire match that was itching to light up everything in flames with great magical power inside of her. All under the twisted ambitions of Discord, who was sitting on a red couch that was placed in front of the throne, as Dash saw. With his sunglasses still on, the draconequus was tossing popcorn into his mouth from a striped paper bag that he held.
“Mmm... Now this is what I call entertainment,” he said, tossing another one into his mouth. “Nothing like enacting true Chaos upon her own friends here.”
Dash growled angrily at him.
“'Nothing drastic?'” she asked, remembering what he said earlier.
“Hmm? Oh, right. What I assured earlier... Well, okay, so it is a bit drastic after all, as she's now pretty much a living fireplace instead of the cute little unicorn that she was,” replied Discord. He smiled, dropping the bag and clapping both of his claw and paw together a few times. “And my, my, what a spectacular performance she did here! Bravo, Twilight! Bravo!”
“Grrr...! Change her back! She doesn't deserve to be your puppet!”
“Ah, but I can't, my dear Rainbow Dash. If I did, the Magic of Friendship would be active again, and I'd be back in my stone prison. I can't afford that now, can I? Hmhmhm. Besides, I forgot to mention this, anyway. You know that little part where her magic had gone haywire like that? It was a test of mine for her. A test to see if she had the will to control her magic like that, to see if she could keep it at bay. Well, now, I believe we can see the results of that test here.”
Hearing him, Dash glanced towards the unicorn that now stood three feet in front of her. “Let me guess. The same thing happened to those unicorns back then?”
“Precisely, Rainbow Dash. Precisely.”
“Hmph. No wonder... And if Celestia hadn't sent those letters back to Twilight here when we first met you...”
“Yes. She would've been like this back then, and Equestria would've been my place to rule again.”
“Hm. Thankfully, it didn't turn out that way, then.”
Grunting in pain a bit, Dash pushed herself back up and flapped her wings, now hovering above the ground.
“Well, if you aren't gonna change her back, then maybe I oughta knock some sense into her!”
Quickly flying up to Twilight, Dash tried to swing her hoof up from under the unicorn's head, trying to do an uppercut on her.
But despite the pegasus' strength, to her surprise, the hoof had abruptly stopped on the unicorn's chin and neck, stopping there as if she had hit a solid rock, instead.
“What?! How in the hay…?!”
Twilight smiled and chuckled in response. “Even if I don't do anything, you can't hurt me, Rainbow Dash. Not while I'm like this.”
With her hoof still under her chin, thinking she was bluffing, Dash let go and tried to swing her other hoof towards the side of the unicorn's face. Again, it stopped on her face like a rock with no signs of the unicorn flinching from it, surprising Dash further.
“What did I just say? You can't hurt me. Ever,” said the unicorn.
Staring at her while struggling on her face, the pegasus then backed off and landed a few feet in front of the unicorn, continuing to look surprised. “No way...! You don’t even flinch!”
Discord chuckled, taking his sunglasses off and tossing them away. “Yep, indeed. She's hoof-proofed to the max. Literally solid, if I must say. So, Twilight...”
The draconequus stood up from the couch and walked up to the unicorn's side, stopping there and facing the blue pegasus.
“...I ought to applaud you for rendering the Magic of Friendship obsolete and turning on your friends like this,” he said, looking down at the unicorn. “But once is enough, really. With the power of the Elements of Harmony gone forever, it seems that you and I are finally free to spread the joy of Chaos across this world and possibly beyond. Well, if there is a place beyond Equestria, that is, but if not, then oh well. Equestria's enough for us, really.”
The unicorn chuckled, looking up at her master. “What is it that you want me to do now, Discord? Since there's no one left to oppose us anymore...”
“Hmm, well, actually, there's still the matter of the two princesses to deal with. But I'll handle them. Lift them and their little Canterlot out by the roots and all.”
Discord turned and walked away. “As for you, well, feel free to do whatever you like. Now that your power has been rightfully unlocked, it is up to you on how you use that power.”
“Hm, alright, then.”
“Have fun, then, Twilight Sparkle. Or, should I say, my faithful student. Hmhmhmhmhmm.”
Leaving Twilight to decide on her own, the draconequus then disappeared out of sight with a white flash.
“...Lift Canterlot out by its roots...?” Dash thought aloud. Blinking, she then realized something, causing her eyes to shrink as the feeling of shock came over her. “Oh, no...!”
Twilight chuckled again, glancing at each of her friends one by one, still down at the places where she attacked them.
“Heh, what a fun little experiment this was. I have to say that the results were quite fantastic.”
With her smile turning into a calm smile, the burning unicorn then turned around, looking back at them.
“Welp, as Discord had said, there's no way that you could stop us with the Elements of Harmony now. Not when there's no pony else to wield the Element of Magic there. For that, even though I had fun, it's ultimately a waste of time toying with you here when I could be out there doing further experiments... and that's exactly what I'm going to do now. Don't worry, though. Sooner or later, you'll all join me in the fun eventually. Remember the last time when you were the opposite of yourselves, going against the Elements that you represent? Yeah, that.”
Twilight glanced ahead. “Now if you'll excuse me...”
“Twilight, wait!” Dash exclaimed, with a worried look. “What is Discord exactly going to do? What did he mean by lift Canterlot out by its roots?”
“Oh, I don't know. You'll have to see for yourself. I'm gonna be too busy choosing which parts of this… town to experiment with. Which town is that, you wonder? Hm, I think it's obvious. Farewell, all of you.”
With the bright orange glow of her horn, blazing, raging flames rose from the ground and had quickly surrounded her, concealing her within them. The flames then dissipated, and she disappeared from where she had stood before.
With all the sudden events that had just happened, from where they all were, the ponies were staring at the spot where Twilight had stood, with looks of great confusion and shock across their faces.
“...Okay... Can anypony tell me what in Celestia's name had just happened here?” asked Rarity, lying there with parts of the debris behind her and groaning in pain. “I don't think I can believe any of it, honestly.”
Struggling to get up on her hooves, Applejack groaned in pain as well. “Yeah, I don't think any of us saw that coming... Ugh, is everypony alright here?”
“Yeah. I'm just... lying here,” Pinkie replied, lying on her side and blinking her eyes a few times. Along with Applejack, more burnt marks had been inflicted on her coat, thanks to the blasts that exploded on her.
After a bit, the orange pony finally stood up, struggling a bit to keep herself up and then picking her hat up, putting it on. “Gosh. Who knew Discord would turn Twilight against us like that? ...Then again, he did turn us against her the last time he was around.”
“Yeah!” The pink pony turned herself around and tried to stand up, struggling as well. “Only this time, he was serious! You could tell he was! I mean, have you ever seen a pony with a flaming mane and tail like that? It's craaaaazy!”
“Yeah, he was definitely fed up with being imprisoned all the time, that's for sure,” Rarity said, having stood up as well. “Fluttershy, are you alright, my darling? I hope Twilight didn't hurt you like she did to us.”
“No... I-I'm fine. Rainbow Dash saved me here,” replied the yellow pegasus, still in a curled-up position. After a second, she slowly stood up and walked over to Dash.
“Gosh. Poor girl curlin' herself up like that,” said Applejack, looking worried while walking to and grouping up with the rest of them near the blue pegasus. “Thank the apples you saved her just in time, Rainbow Dash. Even though you couldn't do much to Twilight in the end.”
“Yeah. I wonder why she left her alone like that, though?” asked Pinkie. “...Huh?”
As they stopped near her, the ponies noticed that Dash was looking straight down at the floor, having been like that for the past few seconds now.
“Rainbow?” Applejack called.
Unbeknownst to her friends, Dash's eyes were deep in thought, having just realized something that also made her look shocked. Having heard both Discord and Twilight, the pegasus could not help but flash back to the dream she had. Seeing Ponyville in ruins and Canterlot up on that floating rock... Was it meant to warn her of all this?
With all that had happened just now, it definitely was, she just thought. There was no way they could have meant something else, not with those way-too-obvious hints of theirs.
With that yell, fearing for the safety of the town that they all called home, the blue pegasus jumped and took to the air with immediate haste, flying out of the ruined tower and descending back into the forest.
“Rainbow! Where are you flying off to?!” yelled Applejack, watching her fly off.
“Where is she going?” asked Rarity. “...Wait a minute, didn't Twilight said she was going to... Oh, no...”
“Ponyville?!” All of them exclaimed at once, realizing it.
“If that's where they are going to, then we've no time to lose!” exclaimed Applejack. “Come on, everypony!”
Not wasting a single second, with quick haste, the ponies turned and took off for the exiting stairwell.
However, as she followed them, Pinkie suddenly felt something inside of her. Something that was seemingly telling her to stop. She heeded it, whatever it was, and stopped. Then, it directed her towards something that was still in the throne room and told her to pick it up.
She looked back, and upon seeing it, the thing inside of her further urged her to pick it up. It was an urge she could not ignore.
Seeing the Crown of Magic on the floor near the middle of the area, the pink pony trotted up to it and took a good curious look at it.
“Huh. I wonder why something is telling me to pick this up? Maybe the Elements of Harmony can still help us after all? ...Well, whatever you say, mister mystery thingamajig inside of me!”
Turning around and putting her tail under it, the pink pony tossed the Crown upward, descending right into the depths of her bushy tail and keeping it within. With the Crown in her tail, Pinkie then proceeded on her way, running as fast as she could to catch up with the others.
The blue pegasus was back on the long open path in the forest that she and her friends used to reach the castle ruins earlier, going in the opposite direction towards Ponyville. She desperately flew as fast as she could, her wings flapping as hard as they could.
Were they serious? She thought as she continued to speed along the path. Were they really going to enact what she saw in her dream? Despite what Discord and Twilight had said, even though she already took their words as proof that her dream was becoming true, a small part of Dash's mind doubted it. After all, they could have said that just to deceive her, only to place their doings somewhere else, instead. For that, she had to be completely sure that they weren't lying. She had to see it all for herself to confirm it.
Dash was approaching the end of the long path. A large, open, tree-less cliff area overlooking the landscape below was ahead of her, and soon, she saw and heard them.
Entering the area and stopping near the edge of the cliff in the air, the blue pegasus saw a great explosion of fire and smoke in the distance ahead that was rising from below, accompanied by a loud booming sound with it. Trying to pinpoint the source of the explosion, she gasped in horror as she found where it came from: the center of Ponyville.
The explosion wasn't the first to happen, as she further saw, for parts of the town had already been on fire. The fires were just beginning to spread through the town now, burning through the buildings as fierce as they did with some of them starting to weather and crumble down.
Dash began to look more and more distraught at this as two more explosions erupted from the town, her mouth open in shock. Her eyes were slightly shifting left and right at a constant rate as she watched. Now that she was seeing it with her own eyes, she knew that at least one part of her dream was becoming true. At that, Dash began to lose strength from her wings, beginning to feel overwhelmed by the sight of it and causing her to slowly descend to the grass-filled ground.
Then, something stopped her slow descent as she heard loud rumbling sounds coming from past the burning town. Behind the ever-increasing smoke, she saw the sight of Canterlot quaking wildly while it was on its mountainside rest. The rumbling continued to grow wilder with every second, until finally, the city was seemingly pulling itself away, cracking apart from the mountain that kept it close. With its waterfalls slowly ceasing their run and with pieces of the earth falling away from it, the once-stationary city and palace was floating away in the air, seemingly moving closer to Ponyville and stopping there near the town.
A few seconds later, she heard a loud string of rumbling that was louder than the one before. As Dash saw, the whole surrounding area, even where she was hovering above, was quaking wildly like a rattlesnake. The pegasus then noticed that, below the floating Canterlot, a large mass of the earth was being rooted out and upwards. Reaching near it, the large chunk of rock stopped there with the city right above it. Then, the city descended down towards it, seemingly placing itself on top of it and rooting itself deep into the large rock.
Having witnessed this, with her mouth still open and her eyes being wide, Dash shook her head in denial. As much as she didn't want to believe it, the dream foretelling this destructive event became completely true.
“No...! This, this can't be happening! ...Nooooooo....!”
Growing weaker and weaker, the pegasus soon fell to the ground on her tail, sitting with her lower hooves out in front and with a very sad, yet shocked look on her face. Feelings of sorrow and anxiety were swirling wildly within her mind and chest as she stared at what was happening ahead of her.
A second later, the feeling of frustration shot through her, causing her eyes to shut themselves and her teeth to clench with each other furiously. Tears splashed away from her eyes as they closed, and she angrily lifted up and pounded her upper right hoof down on the ground as hard as she could.
“Why...?! Why didn't I warn everypony of what would happen beforehand?!” she yelled, her voice cracking. “How was I supposed to know that the dream I had was a glimpse into the future?! It just isn't fair!”
“...Ugh...! Rainbow Dash!”
From behind, Applejack was approaching with the rest of her friends, with some of them appearing to be struggling and limping except for Fluttershy. After their run-through of the forest and the open path, the four ponies had finally caught up with the pegasus. Thanks to what Twilight did to them, the run had prematurely tired them out, causing their injuries to show through their painful expressions.
The ponies stopped near Dash, with Rarity falling to the ground on her front. Applejack and Pinkie took a few needed breathers, groaning at the same time as well. Then, the orange pony looked up and saw the burning town ahead.
“Oh no... She's doin' this, isn't she?” Applejack observed, looking worried, only to notice something floating above the town and making her surprised. “Wait, what in the hay?! Why is Canterlot up there?! Is that Discord's doing?”
“Looks like it!” exclaimed Pinkie, almost leaning to the side with a painful look on her face. “Ugh, remember his little floaty things with Ponyville's buildings on top?”
“Oh my!” yelped Fluttershy, shocked and distraught at the sights ahead. “What, what about the ponies over at both of them?!”
“I simply cannot believe this!” exclaimed Rarity, laying there and looking surprised as well. “My beautiful Carousel! S-Sweetie Belle!”
As they feared for the safety of everypony in both places, the frustrated look on Dash's face reverted back to the sorrowful look she had before. Weakening her hoof and now sitting there with her head tilted downward, leaning a bit forward, Dash continued to silently sob with her eyes still closed and her tears spreading down her cheeks.
“Guys,” she said, weakly. “This... this is all my fault.”
“Huh? Your fault?” Applejack asked, looking at her. “What do you mean by that?”
“I... I had a dream a few nights ago. A dream that was a glimpse into the future. A dream that was supposed to warn me of this!” Dash exclaimed, her voice further cracking. “In it, I saw Ponyville in ruins. I saw Canterlot up on that floating rock. I saw Discord looming over me like that, laughing like the creep he was! ...I-I thought it was supposed to be just a nightmare, so I ignored it and didn't tell anyone of it. But I should have, now that this has happened.”
“…What?! So you had a dream that foresaw this?” asked Rarity, surprised.
“Yeah... and that's why it's my fault. If I had told you guys, then we would have prevented this. We wouldn't have lost Twilight to that creep.”
Dash lifted her head up to look ahead and around, allowing everypony to see her tearful face.
“It's too late now. Twilight's out there burning the town, and Discord's just beginning his stupid reign of Chaos again like before. How long is it going to be until he brainwashes everypony again? ...Without somepony to wield the Element of Magic now, we can't use the Elements of Harmony to fix all of this, guys. We just can't. It's hopeless...”
Staring ahead for a bit, she then tilted her head down and closed her eyes again.
“...Scootaloo, my little sister... I'm sorry. I've... failed you. I've failed everypony... Man, I so hate the word 'failure' right now...!”
Having said that with a raised, but cracked voice, Dash then began to sob again, audibly this time, believing that her new little sister was somewhere in that town while the flames were destroying it. Soon, hearing her sobs, the ponies couldn't help but look and feel sad as well, knowing it was possible that some casualties might have happened already.
“...No... T-there must be something we can do,” Rarity said. “And I-I'm sure it's possible that the fillies might have escaped already, as much as I worry about them and all.”
“They might have, and I sure hope they did,” said Applejack. “But either way, Rainbow is right. We can't use the Elements anymore. Honestly, what can we do now, after what just happened?”
“No... Are we, are we just going to stand here and let Discord rule over everything?” asked Fluttershy.
“Hey, what about the princesses? Can they do something about this?” asked Pinkie.
“Canterlot is up on that floatin' rock, Pinkie,” Applejack said. “Does it look like they're in a position to do somethin' about it? With Discord pullin' the strings now? If they could do somethin', then we wouldn't be seein' that up there."
“Oh, that's right. Well, what about...”
The ponies continued to chatter amongst themselves, trying to search for a way to remedy the situation only to run into a dead end each time. Dash didn't care, though, continuing to sob and being convinced that, without the only thing to help them, the world as they knew it was coming to an end.
There was no way, she continually thought to herself. There wasn't an open door for them to lead them back into the peaceful place that they all called home. There was just no darn way out of this.
As her tears continued to flow down her cheeks, Dash opened her tearful eyes, looking at the ground that her tears were dripping toward. The tears had formed into a small puddle that laid there on the grass, its size being large enough for the pegasus to see her own reflection within.
At the instant she saw herself, however, Dash stopped sobbing, looking at herself with an expression of slight surprise on her face. Realizing that it was her own tears that made up the puddle and using her right hoof to wipe them away from her cheeks, she then thought to herself.
What? Why was she crying like this? She shouldn't be sobbing like a little filly. No, she was supposed to be tough. She was supposed to be strong, not weak. To cry like this would be going against herself, her very nature. After all, she hadn't cried this much in the past. Why now?
The pegasus looked up and ahead at the town and the floating island, further realizing it and causing her eyes to be wide. Was she just going to let it all go? Was she going to let the world end like this? Was she simply going to give up?
No, she thought, her eyes now looking firm. She wasn't going to give up. She never gave up. Not in the past did she do it, and not now in the face of impending doom and destruction. To give up now, she realized, would be going against everything she and the Element on her stood for. At that thought, the pegasus then touched her lightning-jeweled necklace. She was chosen to wield and to be the Element of Loyalty in the first place, and now she was going to stick to it.
What Rarity said earlier was right. There must be something they could do. Something other than relying on the Elements and hoping for a way out with them. There had to be, and they must find it. If not them together, then Dash herself alone. Whatever it took.
With her hoof on her necklace, the pegasus then realized something, making her look down at it. The dream she had, there was more to it than just the parts that foretold this event. If some of it had already came true, then so could the rest of it. So could her being the destined one.
Was her becoming the Flame of Harmony the answer to all of this, then? Dash wasn't completely sure, but it seemed very likely. Plus, the voice and the odd feelings that she felt when they had donned the Elements. That longing sense of union with these magical artifacts as well, a sense that she continued to feel even now.
Looking around, Dash was then reminded of the book that she read, of the colt's willpower being the trigger that unlocked the hidden potential of the Elements. Was that the way to confirm that she really was the next destined one after such a long time? Again, she wasn't sure, and she knew she wasn't one to properly represent all of the Elements of Harmony, with two of them that she was sure she could never manage to represent.
Still, with all the premonitions she had been getting, it definitely couldn't hurt to try.
Wiping away the rest of her tears with her hoof and continuing to look resolute, Dash slowly began to stand up on all fours and looked ahead at the town.
“Meh, look at me crying like a little filly in the face of all this, waiting for the end of the world... No, that isn't like me at all. Rarity is right, you guys. There must be something we can do, and no matter what, we shouldn't give up either.”
“But we had just talked about this,” said Applejack. “There is no possible way we can fix this.”
“There is always a way, Applejack. We just have to find it. If we don't, then we're just letting everypony down as the wielders of the Elements of Harmony and me being the Element of Loyalty. I mean, what good is me being loyal if I'm suddenly abandoning everypony to their doom? That... just doesn't seem right to me.”
The pegasus began to walk over to the very edge of the cliff and stopped there.
“No, we have to do something about this! We can still save Equestria, even with these odds against us. We must stop them, guys. Otherwise...”
Just then, more explosions had erupted from the town, further adding to the large smoke cloud above it. At this, she angrily gritted her teeth as she tried to defy this increasingly bleak situation in her mind, no longer letting all of this go further than they should.
“Ugh...! If we don't stop her... If I don't stop her... then, then... ergh...!”
Dash's anger and defiance were being pent up within her, forcing her eyes to be shut tight and with her body shaking with rage. At this point, she was willing to do anything to stop this, even if it meant going over there and taking on Twilight by herself. She knew that she had made rash decisions like this before, always wanting to give the bad guys a piece of her own mind after they ran away. But every time she did, she was always held back, which was something she never liked.
Now that the world was at stake here, she couldn't afford to be held back this time, even though she knew she couldn't even hurt Twilight at first. But there was no harm in trying once more.
And there was no harm in trying to confirm that she truly was the destined one as well.
She growled, clenching her teeth as tight as a tiger’s. She tilted her head up towards the night sky, letting loose one loud, but angry yell to the stars above.
As her strong yell echoed throughout the landscape, Dash swiftly tilted her head down to look ahead, opening her eyes with her teeth still tightly clenched. With her wings still unfolded, she was about to take off with her body being lowered towards the ground.
Suddenly, however, she felt something inside of her, causing her to stop there in her stance. Something that was awakening, and the persistent sense of longing and unity suddenly grew a lot stronger than before. Then, the lightning symbol on her necklace began to glow bright red, making her notice and causing her to stand up straight.
“...Uh, hey, is it just me, or do you fellas feel that?” asked Applejack, her eyes looking left and right, feeling the sense of longing to return to something. Then, she looked down. “Huh? My Element's glowing!”
“I feel it, too! And so is mine!” exclaimed Pinkie, looking down at hers.
Fluttershy glanced at each of the ponies near her, seeing that every Element necklace was suddenly glowing bright including her own. “Everypony's necklace is glowing! What's going on here?”
“More importantly, what is this feeling?” asked Rarity. “It feels like something inside of me is urging to return to...”
Before she could finish, the feelings inside the four ponies had shifted. Now they felt like something inside of them was urging to reunite with...
“Rainbow Dash?” the four of them said in unison, looking a bit surprised.
“Huh...?” Dash turned around as she heard them. Along with the mysterious entity inside of her, looking at each of them, she could now feel the entities inside of her friends as well, with her own entity trying to reach out for them from within as if they were long-lost siblings that had separated from each other long ago. Not only that, but she felt rather calm inside as well. As she realized, it was the same calm feelings that she felt in the dream before.
Before more thoughts could be processed within her mind, suddenly, Dash's head jerked upwards a bit, yelping as well. With her mouth open, her eye pupils were then enlarged to a great degree. Her vision went suddenly blind, causing her to see nothing but pure white light.
She wasn't the only one, either. One by one, the eye pupils of her friends were also enlarged, causing them to see the same light.
Then, a second later, all at the same time as if they were machines that were in sync with each other, something faded into their vision. A moving scene, it was, and as they recognized, it was a scene that had happened in the past.
It was that of Rainbow Dash's very first Sonic Rainboom that she did as a little filly, watching as she flew out of the resulting rainbow explosion and into the air above, grinning with rainbows trailing behind her and gaining her cutie mark in the process. It then cut to the scenes where, one by one, the rest of them gained their cutie marks as a result of Dash's Rainboom, with filly Twilight's chaotic magical awakening being the last.
As the scenes went on, the ponies began to hear a mysterious voice.
The event of which had forged all of your destinies… Know that it holds greater significance than you realize.
Then, it cut to the scene where they were using the Elements of Harmony on Nightmare Moon, watching as the magical rainbow beam squeezed and engulfed the corrupted princess within, screaming as she was promptly restored back to her original self.
The true conduit of the Elements of Harmony is not the wielder of Magic. It is she whose image is on the grand canvas.
With that, it then switched to the scene where they were using the power on Discord the first time around, seeing that they emitted a miniature Sonic Rainboom before they unleashed it on him to seal the draconequus back into his stone prison.
It is she who was born with it. It is she whose soul... is on display.
The flashbacks the ponies were seemingly seeing weren't over yet, as it changed into yet another set of scenes. This time, however, they were of the most recent. They saw Dash rescuing Applejack from the burning farm, then the scene where Dash had to reject joining the Wonderbolts due to her being the Element of Loyalty. The scenes where she became Scootaloo's new big sister, had laughed with the little filly, and had a kind expression on her face when the filly was sleeping shortly followed.
Then, the flashbacks concluded with one last scene. It was that of the Elements in the darkness of their box, with all of them glowing and flashing brightly every second except for the Crown of Magic.
Only one door remains. Unlock it, and her true destiny shall be revealed.
The scene faded out. The white light slowly disappeared from their vision, and they snapped back into reality with all of their pupils shrinking back to normal, finding themselves back to where they were before.
“Whoa... W-what was that all about?” wondered Applejack, looking a little disoriented with the rest of them from their sudden trip to the past. She shook her head and glanced around. “Ugh, did anypony else see what I saw just now?”
“...I think we all saw that,” Rarity said, noticing everypony with their disoriented looks.
“What a trip!” exclaimed the pink pony, shaking her head as well. Recollecting what she saw, she looked towards the blue pegasus with an expression of surprise. “Rainbow Dash! You...”
“Yeah, I don't get it! Rainbow, is there more to you than what meets the eye?” asked the orange pony. “Do you know why we all saw that?”
With herself looking just as surprised as the rest of them, Dash then calmed down, her eyes downcast as she thought about the sudden flashbacks that she saw. Having seen them, she definitely knew why they happened.
There was no mistake now. Way too many hints, clues, and revelations had popped up for her to doubt or even deny it. What especially caught her off guard was that she had, indeed, properly represented the Elements of Kindness and Generosity, as much as she didn't expect it and had doubted it in the past. By defying this “hopeless” situation with the display of her inner willpower, she finally confirmed that she really was the destined one all along, and by doing so, she began the coming of the same miracle that happened so long ago, as evident by the calm Harmonic feelings inside of her.
A small spark appeared in her eye, twinkling a bit. Dash knew what to do now. She looked ahead at her friends with the aim of clearing their confusion.
“Guys... It looks like there is a way out of this. The Elements of Harmony can still help us after all, but... not in the way you'd expect.”
“They can? But how?” asked Applejack. “Don't we still need Twilight?”
“We don't. All we need... is us together.”
“Us together...? What do you mean?” asked Fluttershy.
“...Oh! Do you mean the Magic of Friendship?” asked Pinkie.
Dash nodded. “Yep. That. And with all of us together, only then will I be able to reach my true destiny, as you guys have heard from the flashbacks that we've all seen... Let me explain, and man, it is going to be a long one.”
Over the past few minutes, the blue pegasus had explained everything: the incident from long ago, the “signs” that preceded it, and how the current situation resembles it, of Harmony being on the brink of collapse. The ponies were now standing together in a circle and in the middle of the area as they continued to listen to her.
“The dream I had that predicted all of this... There was more to it,” Dash went on. “In it, I found this gold-plated mirror in the middle of the darkness I was in. Something had urged me to walk over to it, and as I did, I slowly began to feel this eerie calmness inside of me that grew with every step towards the mirror. I didn't recognize it at first, but now I know, 'cause I'm feeling it inside of me right now as we speak.”
She put a hoof up on her chest as her eyes looked down at it.
“Harmonic energy. That's what it was, and as I continued to walk to the mirror, it was this energy that began to change me into something. When I finally got to the mirror, well, I saw the result of that change. It was me as the destined Flame of Harmony.”
“Yes, very much so,” Rarity said. “It's simply astounding that there's more to the Elements of Harmony than what was known beforehand. And with you at the center of them, of all ponies...”
“Hm. 'The true conduit of the Elements...' And here we all thought Twilight was it, instead,” Applejack said. “I agree. It's simply gosh-darn fascinatin'.”
“...The Flame of Harmony... Sounds a lot like what happened to Twilight,” Fluttershy said. “No offense to you, though, Rainbow, and I'm sorry if I did.”
“Heh. None taken, Fluttershy,” the blue pegasus said, smiling at each of them and lowering her hoof. “Well... yeah, you guys sort of already got a glimpse of it with flaming Twilight earlier. But, heh heh, I think you guys are gonna like my appearance even more when I'm done transforming. And for me to transform for real, well... I did everything so far to come to this, guys. Everything that the colt had done long ago. Now, I just need one last thing for this to happen.”
“The Magic of Friendship... The Element of Magic! Oh gosh, I think we left it in the castle when we came here!” exclaimed Applejack, looking back at the forest. “We got to go back and get it!”
Hearing her, Pinkie was reminded of something that she hid in her tail, looking back at it. “Oh, you mean this?”
The pink pony lowered and lifted up her tail swiftly, causing the Crown to bounce out and upward from the tail's bushy confines. It landed on the grass next to Pinkie's left.
“Whoa, Pinkie Pie!” Dash exclaimed, looking surprised, jumping a bit. “I didn't know you could hide things in your tail like that.”
“Hehe! Just another specialty of mine, that's all. Well, something inside of me told me to pick it up, and so I did.”
“Huh... Man, you are always full of surprises there, Pinkie Pie. Heh heh!”
“So what now, Rainbow Dash?”
Dash glanced at each of the Elements that were in front of her, including her own. She then closed her eyes a second later, smiled, and nodded. She was ready to do this.
She sighed and then opened her eyes, smiling at her friends.
“Guys, I... I know that we should be working together to fight against Discord,” she said. “I prefer it that way, honestly. We're best friends after all. But... it's clear to me now that this is something I must do alone. I doubted all of this at first, you know, but it looks like I really am the destined one after all. The Flame of Harmony who will save the world... So, guys...”
Dash lifted and let out a hoof towards them, smiling with a kind expression on her face.
“My awesome friends... Are you with me? Always?”
Seeing her hoof, the ponies looked at each other and nodded, accepting what she must do alone. Applejack then walked closer to her and stopped there, smiling.
“We sure don't mind you going solo for once, Rainbow Dash. You deserve this anyway,” the orange pony said. “Remember what we said when we ganged up on you as the caped pony, Mare-Do-Well?”
“Yeah, I remember,” the blue pegasus replied. “You want me to be the hero, right?”
“Yep, we want you to. As long as you don't let it get to your head, that is.”
“Hehe. I won't.”
Applejack chuckled, nodding as well. “Good. Well...”
She proceeded to lift up and place her hoof on top of Dash's.
“...I just want to say somethin' first before we let you off. You’ve told me about it before, but now that we all saw it in those visions... You had to be honest to yourself when Spitfire gave you the offer.”
“Yeah... It wasn't easy for me to turn her down like that, Applejack. But what could I do, really? I had no choice.”
“Indeed. Always stick to bein' honest, Rainbow.”
“Right,” Dash nodded.
“Um, speaking of what we've seen,” said Fluttershy, walking up to her. “Did you know that I was there behind you when you gave that kind look to Scootaloo as she slept? It certainly surprised me.”
“You were there behind me? Really?”
“Yes, Rainbow, and it showed me that even a tough pony like yourself can display kindness every now and then.”
With that, the yellow pegasus put her hoof on top of theirs.
“...Hm. I guess you're right on that, Fluttershy,” Dash said, smiling again.
“My, my... Who knew that somepony like you would offer herself to be a little filly's big sister? That is simply being generous, I'd say,” Rarity said, going up to the blue pegasus and offering her hoof as well.
“Yeah, Scootaloo was kinda asking for it in the past, really. Besides, how could I say no to a kid like her? I wouldn't want to make her sad instead... Man, I'm kinda surprised myself that I managed to represent both Kindness and Generosity. Guess I should never really doubt myself like that, huh?”
“You definitely shouldn't, my dear.”
Pinkie was the last one to step up and offer her hoof to the pile. “It's always a great thing to see others smile and laugh with happy faces on them. I love seeing such happy faces, and you definitely made her happy in the end by becoming her big sister like that, Dashie. And even though it was over a scene in the book, both of you laughed happily together. As long as it makes somepony happy and it entertains them for positive reasons, it's all good! It makes me wanna bake a thousand cupcakes for you!”
Dash chuckled at her. “Yep!”
“And last but not least,” said Applejack. “No matter what happens, you'll always be loyal to us, right? You've shown it at the beginnin' when we discovered the Elements, and you've shown it when you refused to let me go in the burnin' barn.”
“Yeah. No matter what happens, alright. And there's definitely no way that I'll let this entire world fall to that chaotic freak!” the blue pegasus exclaimed, smiling with a firm look.
“Yeah, you definitely won't. That's for sure.”
The ponies looked at each other again, nodding once more and knowing that there's only one last thing to say for their friend to reach her destiny. Only one last thing to release her from the window-less jail within.
“We're countin' on you, Rainbow,” said the orange pony. “The fate of Equestria is in your hooves now. No matter what may happen next, our friend, we are always with you! Always!”
“Always!” shouted the rest of them one by one, with all of them smiling at her.
The final requirement was at last fulfilled. The love and friendship displayed by the ponies was felt, and the Element necklaces, the jeweled cutie marks on them, began to glow brighter than before. The Crown of Magic on the ground finally began to glow bright as well, and the sense of unity that all of the ponies were feeling was at its maximum.
The awakening within the blue pegasus became stronger. Just as she felt in the dream, now it wanted to get out from inside of her.
A second later, as they all saw, the Elements of Honesty, Kindness, Generosity, Laughter, and Magic each began to emit individual streams of colored particle energy, flowing out of the jeweled symbols like water flowing in a river, with their wielders feeling like something was exiting them from the inside. All of the five streams of energy were flowing towards Dash's glowing Loyalty necklace. At the instant they merged and entered into the necklace together, the calm Harmonic energy within herself began to increase and spread all over her, making her feel calm everywhere and causing her head to slowly tilt upward with her eyes closing as well.
A slight moan was heard from her as the energies continued to siphon into her, making her feel more and more peaceful by the second. The entity inside of her, at the core of it all, was waking up even further, and it wasn't long before it was fully awakened, now pushing harder to get itself out. As it tried to push, the streams of energy stopped emitting, and the glow of the contributing necklaces and Crown dimmed.
As her head tilted back down, a smile then appeared on Dash's face. A thick glowing outline of white appeared around her, with the lightning mark on the necklace sporting a swirling multicolored glow as well. She lowered her hoof from the others', and seeing her, they lowered theirs.
“Rainbow Dash? You're... glowing white,” said Fluttershy.
“Well, if this is goin' to be anything like what happened with Twilight earlier, I think we oughta step back a bit, everypony,” Applejack said.
“Good idea," Rarity said, nodding.
The ponies proceeded to step back several feet away from the glowing Dash, far enough that they hoped not to be blown away this time.
A second after they moved away, energy winds began to emit from the pegasus from around her, blowing into the surrounding directions and causing her mane and tail to move along with them. The energy within her proceeded to bring about the feelings of change, both inside and outside of her. Along with the entity that was trying to exit out of her, these feelings of change grew stronger as well with every passing second.
Soon, the ponies began to notice that her physical appearance started shifting. Dash began to feel that her coat was being shocked by lightning, jolting through it like electricity. The color of her coat started to flash from blue to a pure white color, continuing to flash with every passing second. Then, she began to feel that her mane and tail were shapeshifting themselves, becoming wilder and wilder to her. The front and back ends of her mane shot themselves upward, flowing in the air along with her tail.
After a bit, the feelings of change sped up within her. With the energy winds increasing by the second, the flashing of her coat continued with the color of it staying white more and more. Both ends of her mane were now merging with each other at a slow rate, turning into what looked like a large, moving, rising flame that began to separate itself into smaller colored embers. The embers then began to flow away from their source, fading into the air afterward. Her tail began to go through the same change as well, and soon, it became the exact same as her mane.
“...So it's just like Twilight, then,” Applejack said, as the winds blew past her and the rest of them. “Only except that her flames are actually stayin' as their rainbow colors!”
“Yeah, and look at her coat! It's going white!” exclaimed Pinkie.
As the friends stood there and watched her transform, soon, the pegasus began to shake at a wild, earthquake -like speed as the energy began to enhance her strength, causing her to feel stronger and stronger while still appearing to be the same size on the outside. Then, she began to hover above the ground without her wings flapping, stopping a few feet above it and floating there in an upright position. With her smile turning into a frown and her eyes still closed, still shaking as ever, Dash then crossed her upper hooves together in front of her face and leaned a bit forward. Her unfolded wings began to grow and shrink in size at a furious rate as the energy inside reached them. More growing than shrinking was seen, increasing the number of feathers on each wing.
Her flashing coat began to stay white now, with the flash of her original blue color occurring every ten seconds. After a bit, still growing and shrinking, her wings now looked like they had grown large enough to shield herself with them.
The pegasus’ constant quake-like shaking grew more furious, and her energy sped up even further, changing whatever else was needed within her. The more she changed, she noticed, the more the entity inside of her moved further outward. Recalling the dream, Dash then remembered what it was.
As the voice in the flashbacks had said, the entity was her image on the canvas, painted with the colors of Harmony. It was her very own soul, fueled and brought forth by the Harmonic energy that swirled inside of her. With her appearance changing, it was her soul that was about to be put on display.
Dash swiftly moved her hooves away from her face and jolted her body outward. The instant she jolted, the pegasus let loose a great surrounding explosion of energy made out of tiny white particles that covered the entire cliff area, blowing away anything that they came across. At the same exact time, she unleashed another explosion. One that was circular, horizontal, and rainbow colored. The rainbow circle further grew larger as it spread outward, reaching towards the forest as well as the burning town and the floating rock above, until it faded away into the surrounding distances.
The four ponies held their ground against the white and rainbow explosions, trying to avoid being blown away with the winds blowing against their faces, manes, and tails. After a short while, the winds ceased, allowing them to regain their posture. They looked at who descended and was now standing there ahead, with looks of awe on each of their faces.
“Whoa... Would you look at that,” Applejack said.
“Oh. My. Word!” exclaimed Rarity, with a dramatic tone. “She's...”
“Beautiful!” Fluttershy exclaimed.
“And awwwwesoooome!” Pinkie exclaimed, looking happy at the sight of her.
Who now stood there on her hooves, with her head slightly tilted downward, was not the blue pegasus that they saw before her transformation. She was now a pure white one, and her trademark rainbow mane and tail became large rising flames that were separating colored embers from them. The size of her pegasus wings grew to a large size, and her cutie mark was changed as well. The cloud part of it went from white to a storm grey color, symbolizing the great power that she held within just as a real storm cloud held the power of lightning and rain.
Surrounding her now, making her large wings flow along with it, was a white aura that was made entirely out of tiny particles that were streaming from her. With the aura, the white coat, and the large wings, she resembled an angel that had descended from the heavens above.
Dash slowly opened her eyes. They were no longer of the shade of rose. They were ruby red, instead.
Now that the calm energy had finished its course through her, standing there, the pegasus lifted up her hoof to see the underside of it. Lowering it, she then looked all over herself, seeing her flaming tail, her large wings, and her storm grey cutie mark. With the exception of her surrounding particle aura that awed even herself, Dash was just as she looked like in the dream.
Looking ahead, she smiled. Everything that had happened in the past, every hint that was thrown at her. As much as she had dismissed and doubted them, they had all led to this very moment. She was no longer just destined to be the world's fastest pegasus, but also its savior as well.
“Wow... So this is the Flame of Harmony, huh? Well, this sure is somethin' to write about,” Applejack said, walking up to her and stopping with the rest of the friends, smiling as well.
“Indeed. Such a beautiful, yet… dramatic transformation this is!” Rarity exclaimed, still in awe. “Honestly, I don’t think I have ever seen something like this… Well, the red eyes and the flames take it away a bit, but at least your flames are still rainbow-colored, unlike Twilight's.”
“Yeah, Rarity’s right. Compared to this, Twilight's in a whole different league altogether,” the orange pony further commented. “But this... This has Harmony written all over it.”
“I agree,” Fluttershy said. “Woooooooow…”
“Yeah! You look so... super like this, Rainbow Dash!” exclaimed Pinkie, grinning happily, jumping wildly as well. “Actually, that'd be an awesome name for you like this! Super Rainbow Dash!”
Dash chuckled at this. “I wouldn't mind being called that, actually! Hehe... Thanks, everypony, for helping me do this. Who knows what I would have done without you guys, really?”
Her friends nodded and smiled in response.
Lifting up and looking at her hoof again, the smiling look on her face began to change into a serious resolute look.
“Now, to stop them,” she said with a serious tone, turning around to face the town and the floating rock.
“Go get 'em, pardner!” exclaimed Applejack.
“Yes, for the sake of Equestria!” shouted Rarity.
“For the sake of everypony!” shouted Pinkie.
“Good luck, Rainbow Dash!” Fluttershy exclaimed.
Dash nodded. Swiftly lowering herself to the ground, she then launched herself into the air. Stopping high above, before she could take off, she quickly noticed something. Despite her still in the air, her wings weren't flapping at all. Somehow, the pegasus felt that she didn't need to use her wings to fly at all. Rather, it was her Harmonic energy that was enabling her to fly.
With this in mind now, Dash pulled herself back and then quickly launched forward, now flying on the way to the burning town. She didn't have the time to mess around and discover what she could do with her newfound power.
Saving the world from the rule of Discord was the only thing on her mind right now, and she was utterly determined to see it through.
Who knew? Who knew that all of it could come down to this where she would discover her own true destiny? That she had a deeper connection to the most powerful artifacts ever seen in this world? She could've known a few days before, from the very moment she read that chapter in the book on them. But nay, she dismissed it.
What had happened afterward, however, had proven otherwise, and now she stood here with her head close to the ground like a bull, transformed and rejuvenated by the true power of Harmony.
As her flaming rainbows flared off from her head and tail, and with her white coat emitting off an army of tiny white particles that flowed upward from her, the Flame of Harmony, Rainbow Dash, opened her ruby red eyes to look ahead at the one responsible for the burning, surrounding destruction of this town.
“So, it has to be this way, isn't it?” said Dash, her eyes looking firm. “Alright, then…”
Gritting her teeth, the white pegasus let out a raging growl at the burning unicorn, who had a sly, but wicked smile on her face.
“I guess I have no choice but to do this THE HARD WAY!!!”
With that yell, Dash leapt and flew herself forward at a swift speed with her aura trailing behind her, heading towards the burning unicorn ahead. On the way to the unicorn, the pegasus pulled her hoof back, aiming to land a hard hit on her. Seeing the pegasus coming towards her, grinning a bit, Twilight's horn began to glow bright as she prepared for her.
Like a speeding train, Dash reached the unicorn and swung her hoof at her, only to result in Twilight activating an orange-colored shield around her at the last second. The hoof hit the shield, stopping it in its tracks, and in the split-second afterward, the shield then emitted a strong invisible force that knocked the pegasus back and into the air above.
Dash yelped, having been flung back, up, and away by the sudden force. Before she could go any further, she stopped herself in the air as quick as possible, her wings and hooves stretching out in different diagonal directions as if she was trying to look like the letter, “X.” Regaining herself and lowering her front hooves, she looked down at her opponent without a second to waste, looking angry at her.
“This trick again, huh?” she noticed.
The unicorn let out a wicked chuckle, gazing up at her. “...Hmm, interesting that you can float in the air like that without your wings flapping. Ah, but of course! It's the power of Harmony after all. Well, then, Miss Flame of Harmony...”
The shield around Twilight faded away, and the glow of her horn became even brighter. The pupils of her eyes shrunk to a sudden considerable degree and her grin grew wide, causing her to look insane once again.
“I'm going to enjoy plucking the feathers out of your oversized wings and burn away that ugly white coat off of you!” she exclaimed, her voice sounding utterly crazed. “Hehehehehe! Let's see how long you can resist, shall we?”
Not wasting a single second, the unicorn lifted her head up and swung it down furiously, causing her horn to explode with orange energy. From this small explosion came out a large-sized, orange energy beam that was now fast approaching the pegasus above.
Seeing it coming towards her at a swift rate, at the near instant it reached her, Dash swerved herself to her left, dodging the beam and letting it shoot straight to the red sky above as she watched it go with a look of surprise on her face.
The beam shrunk and faded within a second, and the pegasus turned her gaze at the unicorn with a firm expression.
“You're not getting me that easily!” she exclaimed.
Facing her opponent, Dash took off towards her. With it pulled back, as soon as she was close, she swung her hoof at the unicorn again, only to end up as a miss with Twilight jumping a few feet back and dodging the pegasus' attack. As soon as she landed from the jump, with her horn lit up again, the unicorn quickly shot out another large beam of energy at Dash.
Yelping in surprise, the pegasus swerved herself to the right and dodged the beam. As soon as she made the swerve, without a second to waste, she immediately took off towards the unicorn, aiming to land a hit on her while she was open.
Caught a bit off-guard by Dash suddenly coming at her, Twilight smiled with a calm look and chuckled, her eyes enlarging back to normal. Just as Dash came close to her, the burning unicorn disengaged her beam and jumped high into the air above.
“What the?!” Missing her again, the flaming pegasus looked up, flipping herself over to face the unicorn above.
“Nice try, Rainbow Dash!” Twilight grinned. “But even with the power of Harmony, it seems you're too slow to lay a hoof on me!”
Swiftly aiming and jerking her head downward, the unicorn shot out yet another energy beam right at Dash again.
Right as the beam was about to hit her, Dash quickly flapped her large wings, propelling herself upward with her head facing the direction toward a part of the surrounding flames that engulfed the town. As she noticed with surprise, she was being propelled far faster than she expected, as if she was being launched from a rubber band.
Twilight's beam reached and hit the ground, causing a medium-sized orange explosion that emitted mild winds from it and shook the ground a bit. The light faded, and smoke now rose from the point of impact. The unicorn landed back on the ground, a few feet away from the smoking crater, while the pegasus slowed herself down and stopped, hovering above the ground and flipping herself over to face the smoke ahead.
Wow, that was ridiculously fast, Dash thought, looking at her large wings that she brought forth. Despite no longer needing them to fly in her Harmonic form, it seemed that she still found a use for them after all: to propel herself at even greater speeds.
Moving the wings back, she looked ahead with a determined expression. Now she knew what to do in order to get an edge here.
The smoke faded from the crater, and there stood a smiling Twilight on the other side.
“I'm surprised that you got away from that one, Rainbow,” she said. “I thought I got you there, really.”
“Well, you thought wrong,” replied Dash. “And thanks to you, now I know how to beat you.”
“Oh, really?” The unicorn chuckled. “I wonder what could it possibly be...? Hmm, you know what, I bet you're really not that stronger than before, even with your new power. Even if I let my guard down, I bet you still can't hurt me!”
Hearing her, Dash brought up and looked at her right hoof. The sensation that she felt earlier, she recalled, of her whole entire body becoming stronger and stronger as she was transforming. She felt it back then, and she was definitely still feeling this new strength now.
With that, Dash swiftly positioned her hoof to her right, as if she was pointing at something, and smiled with the same firm look on her face.
“You really want to bet on that?” she asked.
“Of course! With you being unable to hit me so far, it leads me to doubt that you're stronger than before. You couldn't even break through my shield as well!”
Twilight took a step back with her right hooves and lowered her head a bit. “Come at me, Rainbow Dash! Prove to me that you really are the destined one!”
Hearing the unicorn, Dash proceeded to position herself into a ready stance, moving back a bit and pulling her right hoof back.
“Alright... You asked for it!”
Moving her wings forward, the pegasus swiftly flapped them back, launching herself straight toward Twilight. The unicorn stood there grinning, confident that her bet was not misplaced.
Dash reached her, faster than before, and swung her right hoof at the unicorn. It landed, and this time, like constant waves of the ocean, several ripples were seen through the side of Twilight's face from the point of the hoof's impact. Her head jerked violently to her right, her face began to look like she was being crushed by a falling ceiling, and her eye pupils stood still as she was experiencing great sudden pain to her face.
Not only did the sheer strength of the punch knock her face back, but it also knocked her away as a whole as if she was hit by a speeding train, causing her to fly back.
The unicorn stayed in the air as her body was sent back, but halfway along her flight, she flipped herself over and put her hooves on the ground as quick as possible, trying to stop herself. Her hooves slid and screeched on the ground, until finally, she stopped, with her flaming tail touching the large flames that stood behind her at the edge of the “arena” she was in.
Great pulsing pain coursed through her face, causing her eyes to be shut and her teeth to be clenched. A few seconds later, she opened her eyes and put her hoof on her face, trying to mend it as she looked at the spot.
“Wow, now how did that feel, huh?!” Dash asked, grinning.
Twilight groaned a bit as the pain continued. “…So you did get stronger after all. Quite a miscalculation I’ve made there.”
“Yeah, and it looks like I'm faster as well,” the pegasus said. She looked at her wings. “Even though I can fly without them, I can still use my wings to give myself a boost!”
Dash positioned herself into a stance again and smiled. “I will be the victor here, Twilight. Mark my words! I will win.”
Hearing her, Twilight lowered her hoof and gave off a menacing smile towards the pegasus.
“Don't get too confident, Rainbow Dash,” she said. “It will be me who succeeds, and it will be Discord who will win. Not you and the pathetic Elements of Harmony.”
“Hmph.” Dash frowned. “I could say the same of you, Miss 'I-Don't-Think-You-Can-Hurt-Me.' Come on, then!”
The unicorn chuckled, with her horn glowing brightly. “Time for me to be serious, then. Have at you, Rainbow Dash!”
As Twilight jerked her head upward and pointed her horn straight to the sky, soon afterward, from out of nothing came six large swirling fireballs that floated several feet above her and were twice the size of a pony. Dash immediately saw them, and as soon as she saw them, the unicorn swung her head down. At this, one by one, the fireballs began to fall like burning meteors, heading straight for the pegasus.
Facing herself to the right, Dash swiftly flapped her wings, boosting her out of the way and continuing to fly away, dodging each of the fireballs. As the balls impacted and exploded on the ground one by one, still flying, she made a sharp turn towards the unicorn and quickly went for her. Seeing Dash coming for her like a swift bird, Twilight quickly jumped to her right. While in the air, as the pegasus flew to the spot where the unicorn stood, with her horn glowing bright, the unicorn faced her and shot out an energy beam point-blank at Dash.
An explosion of orange energy and smoke erupted at the point of impact, and Dash was flung away from it, yelping in pain. Flying twenty feet from the explosion, Dash stopped herself and floated upright, facing her opponent while her eyes were shut and her teeth were clenched in response to the pain she felt from the explosion.
“Gotcha this time.” Twilight smiled, standing there.
Dash opened her eyes, looking at her with an angry look. “Nice shot. But it’s not enough to bring me down!”
The pegasus flapped her wings, launching herself towards her enemy again. She attempted another swing at her, but the unicorn jumped backwards. With the back of her body nearly facing the ground, she fired another energy beam at Dash from her horn. This time, seeing it coming, Dash flapped her wings down, boosting her upwards to dodge the beam. In the quick second after, she flapped them backwards, propelling her forward while she aimed herself at Twilight.
As Twilight disengaged her beam, she saw her up in the air. The unicorn was quickly met with a hoof punch to her body, crashing her back towards the ground. The strong impact of the crash was enough to make her bounce high upward, going past the pegasus. Dash saw her, and she quickly flew up to her. She punched Twilight's lower left hoof, causing her body to face towards Dash with the unicorn’s face having a wide-eyed painful expression.
Dash growled loudly, pulling back her hoof. “Eat this!”
With Twilight facing her in the air, Dash unleashed her attacks in quick succession: she punched her face to the right, then to the left, and then she swung her hoof up her chin, with each hit causing waves of pain to ripple across her face. Spinning around after the last swing, yelling with all of her strength, and with her hoof pulled back, Dash then let loose a strong power punch at Twilight, causing her to be knocked far away.
The unicorn soon fell and crashed to the ground, bouncing up and down, and then rolling back with the front side of her body skidding to a halt. For a few seconds, she laid there with her eyes closed. Then, she opened them and began to push herself up. Looking angry and with her teeth clenched, she pounded her hoof on the ground before she stood back up.
“...Ugh. Didn't see that coming,” she said, shaking her head to ward off the pain. The unicorn looked up at the pegasus above. “You did me good there, Rainbow.”
Twilight smiled, and her horn lit up once again.
“But I believe I can do better! Much better!”
The unicorn jerked her head upward and her horn glowed brighter. Her eye pupils shrunk again and her mouth became wide open whilst looking happy, making her appear even more insane than before.
Suddenly, the same fireballs that the unicorn conjured earlier reappeared, this time surrounding Dash in a circle as she quickly saw.
“What the?! Oh snap!!”
The fireballs quickly closed in on her at a swift speed, but she dodged them by boosting herself upward with an downward flap of her wings. As they exploded below her, Dash immediately focused her attention on her opponent below. But before she could even move, Twilight summoned a large fireball right behind her. It shot itself to her, hitting and exploding right on her back.
Dash was knocked forward, with pain radiating from her back. She stopped herself from falling and quickly faced the direction where it came from.
“What? Did she just...?!”
“Mehehehehehe! Better watch out, Rainbow!” Twilight exclaimed, grinning. “It's going to be quite unpredictable from here on out.”
The pegasus was interrupted by another fireball explosion to her left, knocking her to the opposite direction. She regained herself, looked in the direction where it came from, and growled at the unicorn below. The pegasus attempted to make another move, but was again hit by another fireball to her right. Dash regained again, but as soon as she did, yet another one exploded right in her face this time.
Dash was now trapped in the air as the fireball barrage continued against her, juggling her around with the random directions that the fireballs came from. The constant explosions burned and singed her white coat, causing black spots to appear all over her.
Grinning like a mad pony at the sight of this, Twilight chuckled. With the Flame of Harmony stuck in the unicorn's endless attack, it seemed that victory was near for her.
Until she heard a growl coming from the pegasus, and then a loud, furious yell.
In an instant, Dash set herself straight in the air with all four hooves stretched out to the “X” position. Her white aura exploded at the same time, with white energy coming from out of her that negated the surrounding, appearing fireballs as well. Upon touching the energy, the fireballs dissipated, as if they were blown away and put out by a strong gust of wind.
Twilight continued her spell, but the fireballs continued to disappear upon reaching the particles of Dash's aura.
“...Huh?!” The unicorn became surprised at this, her pupils shrinking back to normal. Then, as Dash glanced at her with an angry look, the pegasus took off towards her enemy again.
As she went for her, Twilight's expression went from a surprised look to one of a calm wicked smile. Just as Dash neared her, an orange glow engulfed the unicorn. The pegasus swung her hoof at her, only to hit nothing but a brief orange flash.
“What?!” Looking at the empty spot, Dash then realized the unicorn had teleported away. She looked around to find her, only to hear a voice coming from right behind her.
“I didn't expect you to break out of that.”
Hearing her, Dash quickly turned around to find a unicorn's glowing horn pointed right in her face.
“But can you break out of this?!”
With her horn aimed point-blank at Dash, Twilight let loose orange energy from it, and a large explosion erupted between the two of them. The pegasus was sent into the air, leaving trails of smoke and fire as she flew backward and up. Just as she stopped ascending, however, with a quick flash, Twilight disappeared and reappeared right behind Dash and above her. With a wider smile on the unicorn’s face, she jerked her head down and fired an orange beam straight at the pegasus’ back, exploding on her and catapulting her back the way she came from. Right in the middle of her path back down, though, Twilight teleported again, this time to Dash's left. Grinning now with her pupils still normal, she fired yet another energy beam at her again.
Dash was stuck in a juggling trap again, with this one consisting of the unicorn teleporting all over the place and firing energy beams at her. As the juggling continued, Twilight looked more and more insane each time she fired a beam. Unlike the fireballs before, these beams were more painful to Dash, and she grew weaker and weaker each time she suffered a hit, along with more damage to her body and coat. To her, it felt like she was being tortured with no end in sight.
After suffering a few more hits, with her body flying backwards and a pain-stricken face, Dash weakly opened her eyes to see Twilight teleporting out of sight. Her eyes glanced around, and she found her way up in the red cloudy sky above with her horn glowing at its brightest.
“Hehehehehe! Had enough?! How about one moooooooore?!!”
With her face in its most psychotic expression, Twilight swung her head down and fired her most enormous energy beam yet from her horn, twice the size of her previous beams. The beam was approaching the still-airborne pegasus at a swift rate, and as the orange light of it cast its shade over her, all Dash could do was watch it approach her with the same pain-stricken face.
The beam engulfed and forced her downward with it. Upon reaching the ground, a great burst of light erupted from the point of impact with the accompanying sounds of something exploding on a massive scale. A gigantic sphere of light then appeared, growing larger and larger with smoke and embers erupting from it. A sphere of light that could be seen from the far distances of the land.
The explosion had almost covered the entirety of the fire-surrounding battlefield that the flaming ponies fought in. Soon, it faded with slow speed, leaving behind a large cloud of smoke that blocked any visibility of what was in it. The cloud didn't last long, though, disappearing within a few seconds.
What was once a section of flat ground had now formed into a medium-sized crater, half the size of the explosion that had just occurred. Lying on her front in the dead center of it was the white pegasus, whose eyes were closed and whose body wasn't moving a single inch. Her mane and tail had stopped moving around and emitting embers from them, but they still retained the long spiked shape of a flame. Thanks to the explosion, even more burnt marks as well as various bruises had appeared on her white coat.
Twilight stood on the side of the crater, gazing at the unconscious Dash with a calm and confident smile.
“Hmph. So much for the so-called world-saving Flame of Harmony… At least your power was a worthy test for me, Rainbow, seeing how I succeeded against it. Hehehe.”
Staring at her for a few seconds, the unicorn then turned around.
Having concluded that the battle was over, Twilight began to walk off.
But as soon as she took a step, she heard some low grunting sounds coming from behind. She looked back and saw her moving a little.
With her entire body in great searing pain, Dash struggled. She moved her upper hoof up a little, then she moved her other upper hoof up. Then, she moved both of her lower hooves up as well. As she gritted her teeth with her eyes shut tight, she proceeded to push herself up.
Twilight smiled at this and faced her. “So you're still alive after all... Heh, but of course. You're not one to let things go that easily. I wonder why...?”
The unicorn's horn glowed bright again, and suddenly, a surrounding orange glow appeared around Dash, feeling that her body was being locked up by an external force with the sense of control gone from her. Against her will, she was now being floated up and out of the crater, stopping in front of Twilight. As the unicorn smiled with a wicked look at the pain-stricken, restless-looking pegasus, she then tossed her to the unicorn's left, throwing her there on her front with a grunt of pain as she hit the ground.
With her eyes still closed, the pegasus tried to get up again, but the unicorn raised and stomped her hoof on Dash's back, forcing her down against the ground. Dash grunted in pain as she felt the stomp. She tried to struggle out of the unicorn's hold, but Twilight forced her hoof down to keep Dash there in the same spot, putting pressure on her.
“I really gotta wonder why Little Miss Rainbow Dash here won't give up so easily as she should,” Twilight said, grinning a bit. “She was like this in the past and she is certainly acting like it now, even in the face of some rather impossible odds... Oh, I know!”
Twilight lowered her head towards the side of Dash's face and gazed directly at her with the wide grin and the shrunken eye pupils.
“Is it because you fear something?!” Twilight asked with a crazed tone to her voice. “Huuuuh?! Is that what keeps you from stopping and running away from danger as you should be doing?! I wonder what it is that you fear so much that it makes you blindly jump into a pit of spikes and ultimately risking your life like that?! ...Rainbow Dash, is it... failure that you're afraid of?!”
Upon hearing the word, “failure,” Dash's eyes shot themselves open to a wide degree, making her look shocked. Seeing Twilight's insane face to her right also caused her to startle as well.
“He8heheheheheeee! So it is, then!” The unicorn moved her head closer to the pegasus' face. “I know you well, Rainbow. After all, you acted like a little 'fraidy cat when Rarity stole your spotlight at the Best Young Flyer's competition in Cloudsdale. You couldn't even do your performance correctly when you finally were out there. You would have failed there, alright, if it wasn't for your Sonic Rainboom that made you won the whole thing. Well, now...”
Putting her head back up, Twilight rose up and stomped her hoof down on Dash's back again, harder this time. Dash yelped in pain, forcing her eyes to shut themselves and feeling that the bones of her back were being crushed by the unicorn.
“You've had the chance of defeating me and Discord. But even with the true power of the Elements of Harmony, even though you fought against the odds all because you're afraid of failing to stop us, it ended in failure anyway! You still blew it, Rainbow! And now, now you're going to see the fruits of your failure! Imagine. Imagine them in your head! You know you want to!”
As if the prior pain wasn't enough, Twilight stomped her hoof again and again and again, causing continuous damage to Dash and making her scream in pain at a constant rate.
“See the chaos as it continues across Equestria! See all that you once knew become the property of Discord!” Twilight exclaimed as she continued to pound her over and over. “I hope they don't prove too scary for you!”
For a moment, there was nothing in Dash's head, as she could feel little else but what felt like a strong metal pole crushing the back bones of her body at a constant rate. Until finally, she started to see things.
Various images flashed into her mind. The first of which was a view of Equestria's once-beautiful hills and grasslands having been turned into checkerboard-textured versions of themselves, with their sizes and shapes being of varying degrees. Floating isles pulled straight from the ground were everywhere, with some of them having ruined buildings on top. The sky was an ominous red color, with pink clouds made out of cotton candy flying everywhere. Throughout this chaotic landscape, various ponies and other creatures were seen doing nonsensical things, having been affected by the Chaos. Some were dancing in pink tights, eating the inner sections of various trees, and barking like mindless dogs. Others were looking like they had their minds lost from them, almost appearing insane with shrunken eye pupils and wide grins. With Twilight's burning form being on the top of her mind, Dash also saw crazed flaming unicorns throughout this imagined image, and they were seen torturing and burning alive anyone who wasn't affected by the Chaos.
Another image then burned into her head, this time of the ruined Ponyville with Canterlot on the floating landmass above and with the same checkered hills and floating isles throughout. In the town itself, more ponies were seen doing chaotic things, amongst them four of her friends who were all grayed out. In a part of the town, Rarity was seen sewing needles onto the side of her own Carousel Boutique building, and in another, Fluttershy was observed feeding several large-sized rats with molded green cheese, even kissing and hugging some of these rats. Applejack was bucking several ponies at random, blurting out, “Nope,” with her eyes shrunk each time she bucked one. Pinkie Pie was nowhere to be found, but amidst the half-standing Sugarcube Corner, horrified, painful-sounding screams could be heard from its interior.
...No... Dash thought, seeing these images in her head. I... I can't...
Yet another image entered her head, this time depicting an orange-coated, dark red-maned filly who seemed to be trapped inside the debris of a ruined building.
Scootaloo was sitting in the corner of the darkened ruins with her back against the wall, sporting a very frightened expression on her face. Her teeth and body shook to their utmost degree, and her shrunken eyes were fixated in the direction straight ahead of her.
“...Rainbow Dash... What did he... do to her...? Ohhh maaaan...”
Tears then began to swell from her frightened eyes. A second later, the ruins began to convulse a little, making her jump and move her back further against the wall, looking more scared than before.
Seeing her, Dash wanted to help the filly, but all she could do was watch. Then, ahead of the filly, something crashed out of the wall, blowing a hole in the ruins and letting light into it. Who now stood there before Scootaloo had caused Dash to be shocked.
Standing there was none other than the rainbow pegasus herself. Surprising her further was that she appeared to be in her Flame of Harmony form, with rainbows flaring off of her head and tail. But instead of a white coat, it was pure black, instead. Her eyes were still red, but they didn't look like a pony's. They resembled a serpent's, with slits in the middle of the pupils. Her wings weren't of the feathered kind, but those of a bat's, instead. The golden appearance of her necklace had turned red, and the bolt-shaped Element gem that it housed had turned into grey-colored stone.
That, that can't be me, can it?!
With her eyes on the frightened filly, the dark Dash smiled with a vicious and wicked look, opening her mouth to reveal her fangs. The look of her scared the filly further, causing her to press her back against the wall behind her.
“No... No...!” Scootaloo sobbed in a loud tone, her body shaking even more.
I... I can't... That... isn't me! Dash exclaimed in her head, feeling just as scared as the filly. No way will I ever hurt Scootaloo! No freaking way!
Meanwhile, outside of her head, Twilight continued to pound the pegasus over and over.
“Are you seeing things yet, Rainbow Dash?” she asked. “If so, accept it! Accept it as reality! Equestria's never going back to the way it was!”
Hearing her, the previous images of the chaotic world flashed back into Dash's mind, this time looping over and over. After each loop, she saw the dark version of herself move closer and closer towards the terrified filly, looking as if she was going to eat her with her tongue sticking out a little.
With these repeating visions, Dash grew more and more distraught and afraid. Yet, she began to feel defiant as well, with rage growing within her the more she saw these visions. Was she going to let it all go, even after becoming the Flame of Harmony? Was she going to accept what she was seeing as her future?
More importantly, was Dash really going to accept failure, the one thing she was most afraid of? The one thing she thought had happened already, until the revelation that she still had a chance after all?
“No...” Dash blurted out aloud. “No...! No...!!”
Hearing her, the unicorn ceased her stomping. She then formed a calm smiling look on her face as she looked down on Dash.
“So that's your answer, huh? You still won't let it go,” Twilight said. She chuckled. “Perhaps Discord will make you see.”
The unicorn raised her hoof once more, raising it as high as she could and aiming for Dash's head this time.
“If you refuse your failure here, then so be it!”
Twilight threw her hoof at the pegasus' head. In that split-second moment, the visions in Dash's head sped up, and they continued to speed up, causing her mind to erupt with great pain. At the very end of it all, she saw the corrupted version of herself making a leap towards the filly that she once called sister.
And at that very moment, the little twig that held her back, like a cage holding a lion, had snapped.
To her sudden surprise, as if it was the wind at its strongest, a great force had hit Twilight's face and body back, and she found herself being propelled backward and high up into the air above. A great explosion of white particles occurred from where the two of them were, spreading outward into a large radius that covered half of the fire-surrounding battlefield.
Stopping and descending halfway down with her face looking like she was struck by something, Twilight opened her eyes and surveyed her surroundings. Finding herself falling upside down, she flipped herself over and landed on her hooves. She looked up ahead, wondering what had just happened.
“...What?! How in the hay is she...?!”
Ahead of her, Twilight saw that Dash was back up on her hooves, facing the same direction as her. Her mane and tail had resumed their waving rainbow flames with colored embers emitting from them, and her white particle aura was reignited, moving her large wings along.
Standing there, the pegasus began to move at a slow pace, turning around to face the unicorn. As her face came into view, her expression was no longer of a painful and sad one. It was one that was sharp-eyed to the highest degree, with her teeth clenched to the max. It was one of pure anger and rage.
Startled at the sight of seeing her, Twilight then calmed down and smiled. “So you still have some life within you after all... Hm, well, let's see if I can deprive the rest of it out of you, shall we?”
Before the unicorn could use it, however, her horn tingled, causing her smile to fade.
She began to sense something coming from the pegasus ahead. It was her Harmonic energy, but unlike before, it was wilder. As the seconds flew by, the energy continued to grow and grow and grow. An inflating balloon of power, it was, with no signs of it ceasing.
As she felt the increasing energy, the look on Dash's face grew more and more angry, with her teeth gritting as hard as they could. She began to growl at her, growling louder and louder.
“...I'm not going to... fail. Grrrrr...! I'm... not going to let it all go... either!”
“Your power... How the hay is it getting stronger?!” Twilight asked, surprised, continuing to sense it.
A few seconds passed by, and Dash shut her eyes with great force. She moved her head about with great fits of rage, and as she did, she began to feel the now-furious Harmonic energy coursing through her in wild waves, causing her to feel even more strength than she had only a few moments before. She also began to feel that her body was becoming lighter overall. Almost as light as a feather, she felt, despite the added strength.
With her growing power, soon, Dash had the feeling of letting go all the rage and anger that was building up inside of her. She wanted to unleash it all on her opponent, as the thought of losing to her as well as the fate of the world was all the pegasus could think about. She couldn't let the visions she saw in her head come true, unlike the vision in her dream earlier.
“You... won't get your way, Twilight! ...Oh, what the hay, you're not even Twilight!” Dash exclaimed. “I know now. The real Twilight would never do all of this in the first place. Nor would she turn on her friends like that! You... you're just a fake who took over her body, that's all you are! And the real Twilight is still in there somewhere!”
The pegasus growled again, and her head stopped and faced ahead. Soon, her body began to shake, being in tune with the rage that was going through her.
“I'm gonna free her from you, then! And no matter what happens, I will not stop! I will not fail! ...If saving the world takes every bit of guts I have left within me... if I have to use every single ounce of energy that this power has... grrrrrrrr...!”
With all that was swirling wildly in her mind, the fury inside of her reached its maximum. Dash's eyes snapped wide open, showing an expression like that of an enraged wolf.
“...then I WIIIIIIIILLLLLLL!!!”
With that scream of anger towards Twilight, Dash's energy exploded out of her, causing a huge gust of wind from her that reached the surrounding flames in the area. Her aura of white particles became bigger and denser, and her rainbow flames grew larger, raging faster than before as well. Then, with a flap of her wings, Dash blasted off towards the unicorn, and as Twilight saw, her speed had increased to a dramatic degree, zipping across with the velocity of a single bullet.
Caught off guard by her speed and before she could do anything, Twilight was met with an immediate swinging hoof to the face. With Dash's hoof digging into the side of her face, she felt that it was much stronger than before, going so far to damage the insides of her head. As she was feeling the effects of the pegasus' punch, her head was being forced back, with ripples going across her cheek.
The end of the punch sent the unicorn flying back to a violent degree, looking as if the beak of a flying supersonic jet had just hit her. With her opponent flying away, in the middle of it, Dash took off again, speeding off to her and landing another super punch on her that catapulted her to Dash's left. With a face full of rage and fury, the pegasus launched herself once more, following the flying unicorn with the intent of never letting her fight back.
With a pain-stricken expression on her, Twilight opened her eyes and saw the incoming, speeding Dash from below. Quickly, she flipped herself over, tilted her head up, and swung it down, firing an energy beam from her horn. Seeing the beam, Dash pivoted herself upward, letting the beam go under her while she closed the distance between her and Twilight.
Nearing her, Dash punched her downward as she did before. The increased strength of it, however, caused Twilight to bounce back upward even higher than before, flinging her straight into the sky above. The pegasus quickly followed her up, with the unicorn seeing her below in the corner of her eye.
Not wasting any time, Dash reached her again. Without hitting her to set her upright this time, the pegasus flew above her, faced her, and swung her hooves at her multiple times in quick succession, doing a combo on the unicorn and dealing heavier damage to her face and body. Then, Dash pulled her hoof back, screamed in anger to focus all of her strength into it, and swung it, pounding Twilight hard and causing her to rocket back to the ground as swift as a falling meteor.
The unicorn crashed down to the ground, causing a small explosion of dust and smoke that came from the point of impact. The cloud of dust soon dissipated, and she laid there on her side in a crater that was twice her size, paling in comparison to the larger crater near her.
Landing on the ground with all four hooves, Dash looked onward in a bull-like stance, with her head tilted downward, her eyes at their sharpest, and with a firm frown on her.
With great pain traversing through her, the unicorn opened her eyes and, tilting her head down, saw what she was lying in as well as the various bruises on her. Seeing them, she growled with a tone of frustration. With her horn glowing bright, the unicorn disappeared in a flash, reappearing out of the crater and standing there with Dash ahead of her by a few feet.
“Agh! ...Ugh...” Twilight groaned, gritting her teeth as she felt a wave of pain through her, making her stumble a bit. As she used her upper right hoof to hold the left one in place, after looking at it and breathing heavily, the unicorn then glanced at Dash.
“...R-Rainbow... How...? How are you so powerful all of a sudden?!” she asked. “Your attacks were strong before, but now they're suddenly a lot stronger. And you... you're faster as well! Just, just... How?! I thought I had you pinned down for good!”
“Isn't it obvious?” Dash said, still frowning. “You pushed me too far, making me see what would happen if I did fail. Just as you wanted me to see, right? Only, instead of convincing me to give up like you wished, it made me refuse to give up. It caused me to try harder than before, as hard as I possibly can. But... that's not the reason why I got a power boost. Not the only reason, actually.”
“What? What do you mean, 'not the only reason?'” asked the unicorn.
“It was my strong willpower that boosted it... It's one of the requirements for becoming the Flame of Harmony, isn't it? The will to do stuff? The will to achieve? The will to stand up against bad guys and save the world from people like you?!”
“...Of... of course!” Twilight exclaimed, realizing what Dash had just said.
“Yeah! Like I said, what you tried to do to me only served to boost that willpower. My strong willpower is what's really powering the Harmonic energy inside of me, and as long I have the will to do it, the will to keep going even after your stupid little mind tricks, I will never be defeated... Do you honestly think I'm going to fail here, when the world is at stake? I'll admit that I'm afraid of failure, and yeah, I wasn't so confident back then. But that was different. Now that I know about this power, I am confident that I will succeed!”
Dash took a step back, ready to move on her enemy. “How about you? Will you give up? 'Cause it’s better for the world if you did. Nopony else wants the same destruction and chaos that had happened here already.”
Twilight stared at her. “Me...? Give up...?”
A few seconds passed by, and the unicorn shut her eyes and gritted her teeth, putting her right hoof on the ground. Like the pegasus before, she moved her head around and began growling, throwing fits of rage here and there.
“Never...! Never never never never never never NEVER!” screamed Twilight, beginning to pound all of her hooves on the ground, throwing a tantrum like a child. “I shall win! Discord shall reign! We will NEVER bow down to the likes of Harmony! NEVERRRRR!!!”
“Huh, look who's talking now,” Dash said, watching her throw a fit. “Guess you know how I feel when it comes to losing!”
Twilight growled again, louder and more furious this time. Then, she tilted her head upward and let loose a mighty, angry scream to the red sky above, reaching to the surrounding hills and landscapes outside of the burning town. With that scream, a great explosion of wind emitted from her into the surrounding directions. The flames that were flaring off from her head and tail increased in size, waving and moving faster than before.
The unicorn faced her head towards the pegasus, and she opened her eyes of rage. The black part of her pupils became red, blending in with her irises to form fully red eyes.
“Grrrargh, time to get serious! Face me with all your might, Rainbow Dash! 'Cause no matter how strong your willpower is, I will never give in to the likes of you!”
“Hmph! We'll see about that, Miss Fake Twilight!” Dash exclaimed, still in her low stance.
Growling and making a raging yell, the unicorn lifted her head upward and her horn began to glow again. High above her, various flames appeared from out of nowhere, swirling into a central point in the air. With haste, the flames grew and formed into a large fiery sphere that was large as the width of Ponyville's town hall tower. It soon appeared to Dash that a giant fireball was heading her way.
Twilight growled. “Take this!”
The unicorn forced her head down, and the giant fireball followed that motion, descending at a swift rate towards the pegasus. Seeing it coming, Dash growled and let loose a loud angry yell. She flew to her left, moving as fast as she could and allowing the falling fireball to crash down on the spot where she stood. A major explosion of fire and smoke erupted, causing huge winds to blow from it and making the area quake hard in its wake. So hard, it could be felt all over the town itself.
Unfazed by the explosion, however, as soon as Dash made the dodge and as the fires from the explosion went past her face and body from her right, she made a sharp turn and flapped her wings back, propelling her forward with her aura trailing from behind.
With her speed at its maximum, she went towards the unicorn and threw her hoof at her, punching and knocking her way back before Twilight could even react. As she flew back, the unicorn snarled again. With her horn bright, she disappeared in an instant, teleporting before she could go any further.
In the split-second after she teleported, though, Dash felt something. A tingling in her head, it was, and it pointed towards the spot where Twilight had just teleported. As it then grew weaker, suddenly, the pegasus then felt a rush of wind going past her. This was no ordinary wind. To her, it had the feeling of wild energy coursing past her. It was the energy of Chaos.
As soon as the wind rushed by, Dash's mind tingled again, this time behind her. She looked, and just as she turned around, something flashed in right in front of her, and she recognized the flash.
“Oh shoot, gotta MOVE!”
Twilight rematerialized, and she shot another large energy beam at Dash. But just as she fired, the pegasus dodged it by propelling herself upward.
“What?!” Twilight was surprised at her miss, still firing it.
Just as the unicorn stopped firing, Dash spun herself downward and, at the end of her spin, pounded the top of Twilight's head with the ankle of her lower left hoof. The sudden pound caused her opponent to bounce up from the ground once again, leaving her open with her body facing towards Dash. From there, the rainbow one unleashed a fast and powerful combination of punches and kicks on her enemy, damaging her as hard and swift as she could. As she threw these hits at a fast pace, it looked like she had grown a large number of hooves from her, with all of them giving Twilight a hard lesson.
Finishing the barrage off, the pegasus let loose another strong punch, knocking the unicorn back again, flying all the way to the edge of the “arena.” Shaking her head, Twilight forced all of her hooves down towards the ground, screeching to a halt with her flaming tail touching the larger flames that raged behind. A second later, her body twitched, causing her to groan as great pain shot across her again.
“How did you dodge that...? HOW DID YOU DODGE THAT??!!” she screamed.
“I felt you rushing past me that time!” exclaimed Dash. “I don't know how that happened, but I'm guessing it’s because I've powered up now. Enough to sense your magic!”
Twilight growled in desperation. “No... No no no no no no no NOOOOOOOO!!!”
With that furious scream, her burning flames flared up again. Her horn glowed bright in the midst of her scream, and a second later, Dash could hear something, making her look around. It sounded like a building that was crumbling nearby.
Then, she saw it ahead of her, floating right above Twilight.
Hovering above Twilight in a horizontal position and being enveloped in her magic orange glow was the Carousel Boutique building, having been pulled from its roots as evident by the bottom of it and with dirt falling off of it. Earlier, despite what Rarity had thought, when Dash arrived, she saw that the Boutique was still standing in one piece and that the flames hadn't gotten to it yet, with a group of ponies escaping it at the last minute. Now it seemed that the burning unicorn was intending to throw it right at her.
“Twilight, stop! Put that down!” yelled Dash with an angry look.
Twilight snarled. “I never liked Rarity's idiotic fashion sense. I ought to destroy her place, and what better way to do it than to throw it at the one who's clinging desperately to Harmony and its stupid virtues?! Perish!!”
The unicorn threw her head down and the building mimicked her motion, throwing itself straight at the pegasus at a swift speed.
What to do? Dash thought as the building was coming towards her. Should she save it or dodge out of the way, letting it crash? She could dodge it with ease, but then, what if somepony was inside of it? What if Ponyville's construction workers could never rebuild it if she let it crash? What would Rarity do, then?
With those thoughts in mind, she could never let it crash. But could she save it, then? With her strong hooves, there was only one way to find out.
Focusing on the building and gritting her teeth, Dash flapped her wings back, launching herself towards it. With her hooves out in front, she reached the building and pushed her hooves against it. While it slowed down in the air, the building forced her hooves back and was pushing against her overall. Dash struggled against it, utilizing her super strength. After a bit, the building came to a complete halt, and the force of it dwindled down to the point where it began to fall straight down.
“Huh? Uh oh!”
Seeing it fall, Dash flew herself downward and under it at a quick speed. She put her hooves upward, and the building landed on top of them. It pushed down against her, squeezing her hooves for a bit and making her look like she was struggling with her eyes forced shut, until it stopped pushing all of a sudden.
Dash opened her eyes and looked up. There was no force of its weight upon her now, yet she still held it. She pushed her hooves up, and to her surprise, she lifted it up with ease. It now felt rather lightweight to her, as light as a feather, despite the fact that the pegasus was holding a multi-story building on top of her.
“What the...? Wow... I'm that strong now?!”
From below, Twilight was also surprised, looking onward with wide open eyes. “WHAT?! How are... you...?!”
Wondering if she could still hold it with one hoof, the pegasus lowered one of her hooves down at a slow pace. The very moment she released her touch on it, not a single increase in weight was brought down upon her. With one hoof holding it above her, it still felt as light as a dog's strand of hair.
“Holy cow, I'm literally a super pony! Didn't think I'd be strong enough to lift a building of all things!” Dash exclaimed. She then smiled. “Guess Pinkie Pie wasn't that far off when she called me Super Rainbow Dash... Huh!”
The pegasus then looked down at the unicorn with a frown on her face.
“Nice try! But even a building won't stop me here. And how could you even throw a building like this without thinking there might be somepony inside?! The Twilight I know would never do this!”
Looking around, Dash searched for the spot where the Boutique's resting place was. Finding it, she then looked at the unicorn again.
“Why don't you stay put? I'm gonna put this place back where it belongs.”
With her sights set towards the hole in the ground that was the Boutique's location, Dash flew herself over to it, flying out of the flame-surrounded area. Staring ahead with her head halfway lowered, Twilight was looking furious again.
“Grrrrrr....! Oh yes, I'm definitely staying put. Right here,” she muttered to herself, with her right eye twitching a lot with her face full of rage. “Where you'll be destroyed for good... along with the rest of this place.”
Reaching the spot, with both hooves, the white pegasus brought and turned the building down from above her as slow and as careful as she could, placing the Boutique down into its spot as steady as she could as well. Feeling it touching the ground, she slowly let go, hoping that the building was placed without error. A few seconds passed, and the Boutique showed no signs of moving or falling.
“Whew! Back in one piece,” said Dash, looking relieved. “Hope nopony was in it before... Huh?”
Suddenly, her mind tingled again, pointing her back to the flame-surrounded area. She looked back and to her surprise, there was no one there anymore.
“Hey! Where did she...?!”
Alarmed by Twilight's sudden disappearance, Dash flew back to the area. Reaching it, she then landed in the spot where the unicorn stood before. She looked around for her, only to find her nowhere.
“Where in the hay did she run off to?! ...Huh?!”
Her mind tingled once again, this time pointing upwards. Then, she heard her.
“Looking for somepony?”
Dash glanced up, and she found the unicorn high in the sky above and beneath the red clouds. Twilight was standing on a small round platform made completely out of burning fire, having been conjured into her place by her magic.
“I have grown tired of this, Rainbow Dash,” said the unicorn, looking firm with a frown on her face. “This fight has gone on far too long for my liking, and now it is time to end it. For real, this time! You may be stronger and faster than me physically, and you may have outlasted most of my magic. But I have one last spell to use, and with this, not only will I obliterate you from the face of Equestria, but I will annihilate this entire town along with the surrounding landscape as well! And I will take every last one of the town's survivors with it!”
“What?! No way will I let you do that!” Dash exclaimed.
“Oh, of course you won't. Whether you survive or not, however, is another matter... The time is now, Rainbow Dash!”
Lowering her head and with her body shaking with rage, Twilight then jerked her head upward and growled loud to the sky above. A furious, flame-like glow had burst from her horn, with electricity crackling around it this time.
A few seconds later, various line-shaped streams of purple energy were seen swirling into her horn from its surroundings. The horn continued to absorb more and more energy until the horn's glow increased in size and changed its color from orange to bright purple, with more electricity crackling around it.
Seeing her prepare the final spell, Dash's expression changed into a determined one. She stepped back a bit and lowered herself into the bull-like stance again while keeping her sight on the unicorn above.
“Bring everything you've got, then!” she exclaimed.
The streams of energy stopped swirling into the unicorn's horn, and she focused her attention on her target below, looking desperate as ever with her teeth gritting as hard as they could.
“Grrrr, you're finished!”
Putting all of her might into her spell, Twilight jumped off of the fire platform, with it dissipating into nothing as she jumped off.
With her in the air, Twilight forced her head downward as hard and as swift as she could, and in an instant, her horn fired off a gigantic, purple-colored energy beam from it. The beam was the biggest she had yet fired to this point, being twice the size of the town hall tower.
“Wh-WHAT?!” Dash was caught off-guard by the size of the beam, causing her eyes to widen in shock. The great light of the beam soon enveloped the entire town in its radiance, with the brightest point being the area that the pegasus stood in.
The great beam reached its halfway point. With her face twitching a lot at the sight of it, Dash then pulled herself together and formed an angry teeth-gritting look as the beam continued its course towards her.
Knowing that everything was depending on her, she knew she couldn't stop here. She didn't stop when the unicorn had pinned her down, and she certainly wasn't about to be engulfed by this gigantic beam of doom either.
“Ergh, if I can lift an entire building with one hoof... Grrrrr! THEN I CAN GET THROUGH THIS AS WELL!!!”
With that scream and with her summoning all of her strength that she could gather, Dash flapped her wings back as hard as she could, propelling her towards the direction of the incoming beam with her hooves out in front, flying as fast as she could.
Both the beam and the pegasus were closing the distance between them. Soon, Dash reached it, putting herself upright so that her entire body was facing it, and stretched out her upper hooves towards it.
Like two warriors rushing at each other with the intent of landing a hit on their target, Dash and the beam clashed into one another, with the pegasus stopping the beam with her hooves. A massive explosion of strong winds occurred from the clash, blowing out towards the surrounding directions and reaching as far as the town's outskirts with the grass and trees swaying away in its wake. The winds also blew out some of the flames in the town, though it wasn't enough to clear them all out.
Dash struggled against the beam, her body shaking to a violent degree. The very warm touch of the beam was what she was feeling on her hooves as she pushed against it, as well as what felt like small constant bolts of electricity that jolted through her hooves from the beam.
The force of Dash's super strength went through the beam to its source, and now Twilight was seen struggling as well, her head convulsing to a wild degree.
“Errrggh!! Why you little...!”
The unicorn made a raging yell, summoning more of her energy into her beam. The force of it increased at Dash's end, and now she felt that it was pushing her back the way she came, as she noticed by looking around.
“Begone, Rainbow Dash! Begone!!” yelled the unicorn.
As the beam continued moving her back, suddenly, Dash's vision had flashed white, no longer seeing the purple beam in front of her. The flash then faded, and she began to see the same images that she saw before. Images of Discord's land of Chaos, its wild denizens, and of her corrupted friends again. All of them were looping in her head much faster than before. She forced her eyes shut once more, but it didn't stop them from burning in her mind over and over.
Soon, Dash saw it again: the image of her dark corrupted self making a leap towards the frightened Scootaloo. And at that point, just like before, her mind snapped once again.
“...I must do this... I have to!”
Her eyes snapped wide open. The irises of her pupils weren't red anymore. They were swirling the colors of the rainbow. The white particles that her aura was giving off became colorful as well, becoming an aura of rainbow.
As her great scream of defiance echoed throughout the town and landscape, a small circular-shaped explosion of rainbow colors erupted out of her, and from that explosion, the pegasus was launched and had cut through the beam itself, going into the very innards of it and letting it engulf her in whole. As the circular rainbow spread outward, the silhouette of a flying pegasus with a flaming mane and tail was seen making the way across the beam to its source, unaffected by the energy that was fighting against her.
“Wh-WHAT?!” screamed Twilight, having been caught off-guard by what she saw in her beam.
As Dash traveled closer and closer, the size of the beam began to shrink, becoming smaller as she made her way through. The unicorn had sensed that Dash's strong Harmonious energy was negating her own Chaotic energy, causing her attack to fade.
The pegasus soon reached her and the beam was no more. Upon closing in on her, Dash swung her hoof upward, crushing Twilight's chin and knocking her up and over. Then, with her eyes and her aura still having the rainbow glow, the pegasus grabbed the unicorn with both hooves and brought her close, squeezing her in a tight bear-hug.
“Time to wake up, Twilight,” said Dash. She shut her eyes and clenched her teeth. “Once and for all!”
With a flap of her wings, she flew upward as high as she could, taking Twilight along. Stopping her ascent, she turned upside down and flew herself straight downward, spinning and spinning as if she was an airplane that had lost control. As both of them fell, the aura that surrounded Dash grew to include Twilight within it as well, and now they looked as if a rainbow-colored comet had fallen from space and was now on the verge of impact.
Soon, the “comet” impacted the ground in the middle of the area, and there erupted a massive, gigantic explosion of rainbow fire and smoke, with the radius of it being twice the size of the area that the ponies fought in. As the explosion spread outward with massive winds coming from it, the flames that were burning throughout the town were blown away and were reduced to nothing. The winds also blew some buildings away from the town, with most of the other buildings standing their own against them and with small debris being chipped away from them.
The rainbow smoke from the explosion grew in size, resembling a mushroom with its shape. The red skies above it faded away, for the winds also reached them, reverting back to their midnight-blue. star-filled skies of the night.
Soon, it all calmed down. The light dimmed, the ground ceased its quaking, and the smoke dissipated after a while. A gigantic crater was now there in the explosion’s place, the largest one thus far. Standing there at the outer edge of the crater was the battle-weary white pegasus on her hooves.
With her aura gone, her eyes back to red, and her flames back to their small-but-calm state, Dash was breathing at a heavy rate, having taken a lot of her strength and willpower to reach this point.
“...I did it... Finally...”
After a while, she stopped breathing and stood up straight. She looked around to see that the flames and the red sky were gone. Then, she looked onward to the center of the crater where the unicorn was.
Lying unconscious on her side, Twilight was no longer the burning pony she was. She had reverted back to her normal purple self with her mane and tail being their normal streaked forms as well. Several bruises were seen all over her, thanks to her fight with Dash.
Seeing her, the pegasus floated up and flew down to her. With her hooves, she picked her up and flew out, carrying her along. Stopping several feet away from the crater, she hovered there, looking at the unicorn she carried.
“Geez... I had to do all this to her,” said Dash, glancing at her bruises. “Man... Discord's so gonna pay for this.”
Groaning and stirring in Dash's hooves, the unicorn was slowly opening her eyes. Gaining focus, she glanced around.
“Wha...? Where... where am I?”
“Twilight, is that you for real?” Dash asked.
The unicorn then looked at her. At first, she didn't recognize who the flaming white pegasus was, but then she saw the Element necklace and recognized her voice.
“Rainbow Dash...? You look... different somehow.”
“Yeah, it’s me! Oh, man, please tell me it’s you for real this time...”
“I... am myself here... Gosh, what the hay just happened? And why am I...? Ergh!”
The moment Twilight felt that her body was sore and tried to move around, great pain shot through her, causing her to twitch and yelp.
“Hey, calm down. Try not to move around so much,” Dash said. “Here, I'll lie you down.”
The pegasus lowered herself and her hooves as careful as she could, lying the battered unicorn on the ground and letting go.
“Ergh, agh... why am I in so much pain?” groaned Twilight, lying on her back. “Seriously, what happened?”
“Huh? You don't remember anything?” asked Dash, floating near her.
“N-no... The last thing I could remember was that my magic was going out of control. I-it consumed me. It took over my mind and then, I just... blacked out like that. As if somepony had just knocked me out! ...And then, I wake up to... this.”
She glanced around at the ruined town. “Why is Ponyville suddenly in ruins? Did I... do all this?”
Hearing her, Dash smiled with a look of relief. The unicorn she knew was back, not showing a single sign of her former persona.
“Uh, well, um... it’s a long story, Twilight,” she replied. “But first... about that historical record in the book...”
“Yeah? What about... Wait a minute.”
Looking at Dash, the unicorn then re-noticed her rainbow flames, white coat, and Element necklace. Seeing them struck a chord in her mind, widening her eyes.
“Uh...! So it’s true! The Flame of Harmony. It’s a real thing after all!”
The pegasus chuckled and nodded. “Yep! You were right about me, Twilight. About me having a strong willpower. One of the things needed to transform into it... Man, you absolutely wouldn't believe what just happened over the past few minutes or so.”
Twilight chuckled and smiled. “Yeah, I guess I knew it all along, then... Tell me what happened, Rainbow. 'Cause I'd really like to know how I ended up here.”
“Sure! Though, you probably won't like what I'm about to tell you, Twilight.”
Before she could, though, she heard a voice coming from somewhere.
Conceal your soul... Call upon it when you require it again.
“Huh? Conceal my soul...?”
Dash looked down at her necklace, realizing that the voice was coming from it. Just as the voice had said, she felt an urge to return to her normal self, feeling that she didn't need the Harmonic form right now.
“Huh? What's wrong, Rainbow?” asked Twilight.
“Oh, nothing... Hm, it looks like I can store this power away for now. Let me see here...”
Dash set her head straight and closed her eyes. Relaxing herself, she willed the calm Harmonic energy back inside of herself, and as she did, she felt that the strength and the lightness of the form was leaving her body. Her mane and tail ceased their flames with her mane reverting back to its normal style. Her wings shrunk in size, and her white coat faded back to blue with the storm cloud of her cutie mark going white again.
With her form back to normal, she dropped to the ground and landed on her hooves, opening her now-rose eyes afterward.
“Wow, I'm back to normal again,” she said, looking at herself all over. “Yet, I can still feel the power inside of me. Just in a small place now.”
“I guess that's because the threat is not over yet,” said Twilight. “Discord is still out here, isn't he?”
“Yeah, he definitely is. Now, about what happened...”
Over the next few minutes, the two ponies had exchanged for a bit, with Dash recounting the events from the moment when Twilight's chaotic magic had taken her over. The unicorn was startled to hear that she had become a flaming pony much like the pegasus was, only that she was on the side of Chaos with Discord's magic powering up her further, and that she was the one who had unknowingly destroyed the town. Twilight was also surprised to hear that becoming the Flame of Harmony was Dash's true destiny all along, and that she had a dream that foretold all of this.
“And, well, that's how it all happened,” Dash finished, sitting on the ground with her hooves down.
“I see... Hm.”
Still lying on her back, Twilight looked up at the sky above, staring at the underside of the floating island of Canterlot which was blocking half of the night sky from her view point.
“So I became a crazy flaming pony who was basically the antithesis of me, and I destroyed Ponyville without remorse,” she said. “Wow.”
“Yep,” Dash nodded. “I knew you weren't yourself from the way you kept pounding me over and over while trying to scare me at the same time. You wouldn't really do that to me, would you?”
“Definitely not!” Twilight blinked her eyes a few times in surprise. She then glanced at her. “You're my friend, Rainbow, and friends never hurt each other, right?”
“Right. But I had to fight you anyway, Twilight. Just to wake you up and all.”
The unicorn stared at the sky again, sighing. “Well, I don't like the fact that you had to fight me, but... you did what you had to do. Thanks... for knocking some sense back into me, I guess.”
Dash smiled. “No problem, Twilight.”
Looking up at the floating island above, the pegasus stood up, frowning at the hovering mass of earth.
“Well, I'm certainly in no position to do anything here,” said Twilight. “So it’s all up to you, Rainbow Dash. You are the Flame of Harmony now, so get up there and save the world. For all of us.”
A smile of confidence appeared on Dash's face. “Heh, I will. You can count on that.”
Before she could take off for the island, however, the pegasus was reminded of something.
“Oh, I almost forgot! Scootaloo and the others were with the crowd that was at the outskirts,” she said, looking at Twilight. “Whew, and I thought that they got trapped in the flames at first. Uh, when they get back here, could you tell Scootaloo that I'm glad she's safe from what happened?”
“Sure, Rainbow,” replied Twilight. “I'll tell everypony what happened.”
Dash nodded. “Thanks, Twilight.”
Glancing up and unfolding her wings, Dash lowered herself and jumped upward, flapping her wings to launch herself into the air at the same time. She then took off for the floating island, using her wings to fly up there as fast as she could.
Final: The Soul of Harmony / Epilogue: The Day to Live
From down below, flying past the many clouds that were in her way, came the blue pegasus, Rainbow Dash. Flapping her wings to keep her speed at a constant rate, she zoomed past in the air like a jet as she headed for the night sky above. Reaching her destined height, she looked to her right as she swiftly came to a halt.
There it was. The floating island that the dislodged city and palace of Canterlot were sitting on, hovering not too far from where the pegasus was. The entire city and its many buildings were appearing to be leaning over in different directions, thanks to their roots not fitting in right with the floating piece of earth. From this distance, the pegasus could see that the chaotic magic of Discord was already taking place, for there were some buildings in various parts of the city that were already on small floating isles of their own. In a corner of the city, the ground was warped in appearance, resembling the checkered hills that once struck Ponyville. In another corner, small green clouds were raining red fruit punch on the small houses, dousing them in it with some grayed-out ponies sitting there and doing nothing but open their mouths widely toward the raining punch.
Seeing all of this, facing the floating island, Dash grew determined. This was it, she thought. This was her final destination, and to truly fulfill her destiny, she had to confront and defeat the source of this madness before it could spread all over the world.
Moving them back, Dash threw her front hooves forward, propelling herself directly towards the palace whilst flapping her wings to fly there.
“Ah, ha ha ha! How splendid all of this is! Simply glorious!”
The draconequus, Discord, was sitting on his antler-adorned, gray and red colored throne on the upper end of the stairway in the back of the Canterlot Palace's throne room. He had a happy expression on his face, laughing to the ceiling and enjoying the moment.
Discord sighed happily, looking ahead with a calm look.
“Ahhh... No more friendship and harmony to stop me now and definitely no more of that horrendous, stone-turning beam of rainbow energy. I simply cannot believe that I didn't try to corrupt her the first time around. How idiotic of me to not do that! ...Ah, but I have rectified that now, and now she's on a total chaotic rampage, destroying everything in order for me to build my new kingdom. Oh ho ho ho! This simply cannot get any easier than this.”
“Your reign will not last long, Discord.”
Still with a relaxed expression, Discord looked up and back. Floating above and behind his throne, to his left and right sides, were the princesses, trapped helplessly in what appeared to be hovering blue bubbles. Celestia's long hooves were stretched outward in all directions as her prison hovered up and down, while Luna appeared to be curled up in a ball-like position inside a smaller bubble. Both of them were glaring at the draconequus.
“Indeed! At what length do you think you will rule this land, draconequus?” asked Luna. “Harmony will strike back sooner or later!”
Discord chuckled. “Oh, Celestia and Luna… Still clinging onto the hope that some ridiculous miracle will happen and overthrow me from my seat of Chaos here. Eh, I hate to say it, but it's quite delusional of you two to hope something like that.”
Tilting his head down, the draconequus looked at his lion paw that he brought up.
“My fine ladies, I shall ask you this. What could possibly happen from here on out?” he asked, flipping his paw over to look at it and wiggle it a bit. “I've removed the link between Twilight Sparkle and her crown that empowers the Elements of Harmony, turning her upside down in the process as well. Unless she's been turned right side up again which I doubt, what can the rest of the Element wielders do, now that their leader has... been lit on fire? What are they going to do? Use the power of Kindness? Loyalty? Honesty? I don't think the Elements work that way, do they? Hmm.”
After wiggling his paw, he then snapped its fingers. A quick flash occurred, and out of thin air, a glass of red fruit punch appeared. He caught it with his paw and held it.
“And before you say that another group of ponies could always take their place and become their new wielders... well, who's to say that I won't repeat again what I did to come to this? Hmm...? Face it, my dear princesses. Harmony as you know it...”
Bringing the glass to his face, he then formed a sly smiling expression.
“...is gone. Forever. And I do mean that quite literally, really.”
The draconequus proceeded to sip the juice from the glass. As every ounce of juice went into his mouth, the princesses continued to glare at him. After a bit, Luna began to look worried, losing a bit of her glare.
“...Is... Is Harmony truly finished...?” she asked.
“Do not let his words get to you, Luna,” said Celestia. “Twilight's friends will find a way. I am sure of it. We must not lose faith in them.”
“I truly hope they will, sister. I dread what will happen if they do not.”
“You and I both, Luna.”
Discord soon finished drinking his glass, moving it away from his mouth. Just as he was about to toss it away, though, the sound and the sight of the throne room's entrance doors being forced open was heard and seen, making him immediately focus his eyes towards them.
What just barged into the throne room via its front doors and caught the attention of everyone was none other than the Element-wielding blue pegasus herself. Flying onward to the throne, Dash then stopped near the stairway and landed on the royal carpet, looking onward.
“Princess Celestia! Luna!” exclaimed Dash, surprised at the trapped princesses in their bubbles.
With her sudden entrance causing him to be a bit surprised, blinking his eyes for a bit, Discord then calmed himself down and smiled.
“Well, well, well, if it isn't Miss Element of Loyalty herself, Rainbow Dash. How rather... unpredictable, really,” he said, sarcastically, chuckling. “Oh, no, I really did not see you coming at all, to be quite honest.”
“Stop with the sarcasm, Discord,” said Dash, looking firm at him. “I know you were expecting me, given how I acted in front of you in the past.”
“...Okay, so maybe I was after all.” The draconequus shrugged, rolling his eyes but still smiling. “Very well. I'll do it your way and act all serious from now on, Rainbow Dash. Hmm.”
Tossing the glass over to his eagle claw, Discord leaned a bit to his right and put his closed paw against the side of his face to hold it up, sighing.
“So tell me, little speedy pegasus. What makes you think you can stand up to the Spirit of Chaos himself?” he asked. “If I recall correctly, the first time I've met you and your friends, you really didn't do much to me before I brainwashed you here in Canterlot's gardens. And my, my, what an easy brainwashing that was.”
Hearing him, Dash smiled. “What makes me think I can take you on here? Heh. What I just did back in Ponyville, that's what!”
“Really...? Well, what did you do back in Ponyville, then? Despite the fact that there's a rampaging flaming unicorn there who's destroying everything in sight?”
“I don't have to tell you here, Discord. You're the Spirit of Chaos after all. You should be able to see for yourself.”
Discord stared at her, his smile slowly fading.
“See for myself, huh...? Hmm, why not? It's only a quick peek anyway.”
While the draconequus sat himself straight up on his throne, Celestia was staring at the pegasus with a slightly surprised look on her face.
Something feels... different about her, the princess thought. Something that seems rather... calm, as if she...
Realizing what she was feeling and sensing from Dash, Celestia's eyes widened themselves a bit.
No... Could it be true after all? She thought.
“I'm sooo not going to be surprised if it’s just you being overconfident as usual, Rainbow Dash,” said Discord, holding his glass up to his eye and peeking into it. “Because overconfidence, honestly, gets you literally nowhere. Just a tip for you here, that's all.”
At the bottom of the glass, a quick flash of white light occurred. The see-through transparency of the glass's bottom was gone, and as if he was looking into a sightseeing spyglass, the draconequus now saw a vision of something.
“Now, then, Ponyville. Where is--- Huh?”
Through the glass, Discord saw a view of the town from an angle. Something was different, he quickly noticed.
“Wait, what? Isn't the town supposed to be on fire?” he wondered aloud and alarmingly, seeing the ruins of the town's many buildings. Controlling the “camera” with his magic to pan and zoom here and there, he searched throughout the town frantically. ”Well, there's burnt ruins everywhere, but what stopped it? ...A better question is, where has my faithful student gone?!”
Discord continued to search through, now looking for Twilight. After a bit, he finally found her.
The unicorn was lying there on her back in an open section of the town, next to a giant crater. She was not alone, though, for the rest of her friends, as well as the town ponies, were surrounding her, tending to her and nursing her many injuries on her body.
“Wh-what is this?!” Discord asked, surprised at what he saw through the glass. “How is Twilight back to her normal self all of a sudden? I see a lot of hurt marks on her...”
He looked at Dash, lowering the glass from his face.
“It was you who did this?! How?! The last time I saw, she was nigh-on invincible to anypony, including you! How did you break past her defense?!”
Just then, Dash heard the inner voice echoing from inside of her again.
It is time... Show your soul. Fulfill your destiny.
As she heard the voice, her inner Harmonic energy began to reach out to her, urging her to use it. At this, Dash formed a grin on her face.
“How did I stop her? Well... you thought that, by brainwashing her, we couldn't use the Elements of Harmony ever again, right? Well, it looks like you thought wrong, Discord, as there was a hidden secret about them that none of us knew... Save for a certain historical record about them, that is.”
“What historical record? What are you talking about, Rainbow?”
The pegasus chuckled.
“My true destiny! That's what!”
At that point, Dash reached and tapped into her energy within, summoning it forth. Wasting no time, the calm energy then burst outward from within, quickly spreading towards every single part of her being and filling them. It was not till long that Dash felt the super strength and the lightness of the form coming back to her.
Whereas she went through a slow transformation before, this time, it seemed to be quick. With the Harmonic energy already spreading throughout her like rushing water, it made her feel like her entire body was about to burst from within in a good-feeling way. She felt that she needed to let it all go, and to do that, she needed to scream to the sky.
A low growl was heard from her, coming from beneath her grin. She then growled louder and louder, until finally, the pegasus tilted her head towards the ceiling above and let loose a loud, echoing scream.
And at that scream, she exploded. White-colored energy in the form of tiny particles swiftly spread outward and into her surroundings, causing the royal carpet to move about as the energy winds reached the entirety of the throne room. Discord was blown back against his throne by the sudden force of the winds and particle energy, shielding himself against them with his arms, while the two bubble prisons were moved back a bit.
Soon, the winds died down and the wave of white energy ceased. The draconequus moved his arms away, and together with the princesses, he looked onward to the pony that now stood before him.
Discord gasped, with his eyes wide open.
“What... what is this?!”
Seeing her, they quickly noticed that Dash was no longer the blue pegasus she was only a moment before. She became a white one, and her rainbow mane and tail were morphed into waving colorful flames with separating embers. Her wings were enlarged to the size of Celestia's, the cloud of her cutie mark became storm grey, and the irises of her eyes were ruby red.
With a surrounding aura of white particles flowing upward from her and making her wings move along, the transformed pegasus stood there, smiling right at the draconequus.
“Surpriiiiise...” Dash slowly said.
“...Is that... the energy of Harmony I am sensing here?!” Luna wondered aloud, looking onward with the same surprised look.
“...The Flame of Harmony,” said Celestia, staring at Dash. “So it is true after all.”
“What? You knew about this, sister?” asked the moon princess, looking at her.
The sun princess nodded. “Some time ago, our scholars had unearthed several historical texts and records from our underground ruins here in Canterlot. Among these records was one that had spoken of this, the Flame of Harmony. It was a special form that one could only harness if all of the Elements of Harmony were wielded at once, if the user was showered within their full power, if he or she had a strong inner willpower, and only if Harmony was on the absolute brink of collapse. Such a thing had occurred long ago where one pony had used this form to defeat an ancient evil. And before that, there were signs that had shown that this pony was destined to become such a being. Signs that I had already seen… before this very moment.”
“...Huh? You knew that I was going to become the Flame?” asked Dash, looking at the princess.
“I had suspected it, yes,” replied Celestia. “And those suspicions were brought further to being confirmed the moment you had arrived here. I had felt that there was something different about you, Rainbow Dash. Something calm... and harmonic. As if you had absorbed the energy of all of the Elements together.”
“Hehe,” Dash smiled. “That's exactly what happened down there. My friends had backed me up there for it to happen, and now I intend to use it against this creep here.”
“B-b-b-b-b-but how?!” Discord asked, throwing himself forward. “The Elements shouldn't have worked there at all! Not without somepony wielding the Element of Magic.”
“We didn't need Twilight to wield it. All we needed... was our friendship. Don't you get it, Discord? As long as there is friendship, and by that, I mean real friendship, Harmony will always continue to exist. So even without Twilight, we still managed to make the Elements work, only instead of the rainbow beam that you fear so much...”
Dash grinned again and lowered her head a bit.
“You now have me to be afraid of.”
With that, the draconequus stared at her for a few moments, shocked at this sudden revelation. Then, he calmed down, sat himself back, closed his eyes, and smiled, chuckling afterward. Hearing him chuckle, the grin on the pegasus turned into a frown.
Then, his chuckling turned into a string of loud laughter, laughing to the ceiling above. Afterward, he looked towards the pegasus with a wicked look on his face.
“So! Like everything else that is wrong in this world, Harmony has its own dirty little secrets, I see,” he said. “A totally foolproof backup plan in case things don't go its way... Ha ha ha! Well, then, Rainbow Dash. Miss so-called Flame of Harmony...”
Discord sat up from his throne and stood. Looking at the glass he still held, he then tossed it behind him. The glass went over his throne and landed behind it, making a minor fire explosion on impact.
“Let's have some fun, shall we? 'Cause it’s been far too long since I've had any real fun.”
The draconequus began to float up from the ground, going toward the ceiling above and stopping there.
“Come forth, Rainbow Dash! To the skies above us!”
With that, Discord proceeded to propel himself upward, crashing straight into the ceiling above and going right through it, creating a hole in it with debris falling from it. Seeing him exit through the hole, Dash took a step back and lowered herself to the floor, preparing to take off after him.
“Go! Defeat him! For all of us!” exclaimed Luna.
“Yes! Good luck, Rainbow Dash!” exclaimed Celestia.
The pegasus nodded. With one flap of her large wings, she quickly took off for the hole and exited through it.
Flying through a long, but narrow tunnel that the draconequus had made, Dash flew swiftly towards the incoming exit. Flying out of one of the palace's top walls, she soon made her way towards the night sky above.
As she flew, the pegasus glanced to her left and right, searching for wherever the draconequus may be. Soon, she stopped in the air, now floating hundreds of feet above Canterlot.
Floating in a bipedal position, Dash glanced around, her expression as firm as ever.
“Where'd you run off to, Discord?!” she shouted. “Come on! Or are you too much of a chicken to face me now?!”
As a response, she heard loud, monstrous-sounding laughter echoing from somewhere.
“Typical... You're a bit too confident these days, Rainbow Dash. Hmm, very well, then. As you wish. Although... you might find me a little bit different now.”
Before she could say anything, suddenly, the pegasus heard a loud swooping noise directly behind her. She looked, and before she could even get a good look, something then pushed her from under her and behind, forcing her lower body upward and causing her to spin like a ball at a wild rate, making her yelp as well.
Regaining control of herself, Dash stopped her spin and floated upright, shaking her head to ward off the dizziness. Then, she looked ahead at what had just flown past her from underneath.
“Whoa, what the...?!”
It was none other than Discord himself who now flew ahead, though as Dash immediately noticed with surprise, his appearance had significantly changed. The body of the draconequus became drastically longer, sporting a more slender, reptilian-like look to it. His overall size and his animal limbs became gigantic, being ten times the size of Ponyville's town hall tower with his own wings being twice his size alone.
Discord was flying ahead in a slight wave-like motion, much like that of a dragon. After putting some distance between him and Dash, he then turned around and stopped in the air, raising the upper part of his body while the lower part of it remained below and to his left. Accompanying the rest of his changed form, his own facial appearance was transformed as well. His horns were longer and slicked back, his snout became longer with several baring fangs, and his yellow-and-red eyes became lizard-like.
What the pegasus was seeing ahead of her no longer resembled the draconequus from before. The Spirit of Chaos was now a fully-grown dragon.
To this, she grew a firm look.
“So, this is your true form, huh? A dragon!” she exclaimed.
Discord chuckled. “Fitting for someone who embodies all that is disharmonic, no? It's been quite a long while since I've last assumed this form, really.”
The dragon brought up his hands and smiled at them, moving their individual fingers afterward. “So... the Flame of Harmony, eh? Looking at you here, I wouldn't exactly call it Harmonic, especially with the firey mane and tail. Ah, but then again...”
His eyes turned their focus on Dash.
“They're still rainbow-colored after all. Something that's annoyingly so closely associated with Harmony. Not to mention your coat being white as well as the large wings. They truly scream 'Bringer of Harmony' to me.”
“Yeah, you got that right,” Dash said, frowning. “And it is my destiny to be that bringer.”
“As you've said already... Ahh, but you know, you don't have to follow that destiny, really. Why stay on a predetermined path when you can break off of it? Why stick to it when it’s easier to... defect?”
“Defect? What do you mean, you big creep?!”
Discord chuckled. “I didn't expect Harmony to endow its chosen one with a flaming form of its own. It reminds me too much of my own Flame of Chaos, which you defeated just a while ago. And that proves... that you are a worthy replacement for Twilight Sparkle... So I offer you this.”
Lowering his claw, the dragon lent out his paw towards the pegasus.
“Join me, Rainbow Dash. Leave Harmony behind. And join the greatness that is Chaos! Together, we will make wonders and turn Equestria into the ultimate playground. One that is fully devoid of the nastiness of Harmony!”
Dash quickly gritted her teeth and narrowed her eyes, forming a very angry look.
“Join you?! And go against the Element of Harmony that I represent the most?! No way in Tartarus, Discord!” she exclaimed. “I will never turn my back on Harmony! I may have represented the rest of the Elements to become the Flame of Harmony, but my strongest is still that of the Element of Loyalty! I will always be loyal! To everypony, and especially to my friends!”
The pegasus lowered her head a bit, giving off an intimidating look from her.
“I know what you're going to do to me if I join you. If I lose to you, even. You're just gonna brainwash me like you did to Twilight. Brainwash me to the point where I'm not even myself anymore, just like how she acted. Only when I did knock some sense back into her was she herself again... So with that, you think I'm gonna let my life be taken over by you? You think I'm gonna take this life for granted?! Huh?!”
“...Smart. You have read my mind perfectly, Rainbow Dash,” said Discord, lowering his paw. “Honestly, what good is it if I leave you like the rebellious annoying little pony that you are? I can't take any chances, really. Very well. Looks like we're gonna play a little game of 'Pony vs Dragon,' then.”
Looking to his right, he then proceeded to propel himself in that direction, with his body beginning to move in a wave-like motion.
Upon seeing him, the pegasus prepared herself. She moved both of her right hooves back a bit, forming a ready stance.
“Gotta warn you, though,” said the dragon. “I seriously don't want to go back to that awfully cramped prison, so yeah... I think you should expect the Spirit of Chaos at his finest.”
“...Hmph. You're not holding back, in other words... You know, I went through a lot fighting your puppet down there. I realized that I was holding myself back... Now that I'm here with you, there is no way I'm gonna hold back either!”
“Heh heh. Of course you won't.”
Flying in the same direction and putting some distance from her, Discord then turned around and assumed the same position as before, appearing to be ready.
“Very well. Let's make this quite memorable, shall we?”
The dragon then made a “come-here” motion with his paw towards Dash.
“Your move, Rainbow Dash.”
Seeing him, she faced the dragon, still in the same ready stance as before. Then, she was reminded of something, causing her to exit her stance.
“You know, Discord,” she said, calmly, with a resolute frown. “There's something else you should know. Not only are you seeing the Flame of Harmony in front of you, but you're seeing something else as well. Something that is on display. Not just for you, but for all of Equestria to see as well. I didn't understand it back then when the signs were there, but...”
Looking down, she put the side of her hoof on her chest.
“The Elements of Harmony. They didn't just power me up to this. They also brought out something from deep inside of me. In fact, the Elements gave their power directly to it, and it, in turn, bloomed inside of me to make me this... Now I know what it is that they brought out, and it’s ready to undo everything that you did.”
“Really...?” The dragon chuckled. “I wonder what it is, then? 'Cause it sounds quite familiar.”
After a bit, Dash then lifted her head to look at the dragon.
“For the sake of all of Equestria, for the sake of every single pony that you've affected, your game is over, Discord!”
Gritting her teeth, she crossed both of her upper hooves in front of her face, forming the letter “X.” Summoning up as much power as she could, her entire body then shook wildly.
“Here with you...”
She then let loose a long, loud growl from her as her power continued to increase, as her body became lighter and stronger. The same amount of them that she had when she became angry at Twilight before. Soon, everything reached their high point, and all Dash could feel now was the urge to explode to a great degree.
She swiftly brought down her hooves and screamed towards the dragon ahead.
“...and my soul on displaaaaaaay!!!”
The moment she screamed, the aura around her exploded into her surroundings, going into the far distances as the aura was now larger and denser. Alongside it, her flaming mane and tail had expanded to a great degree as well, raging faster than before. She assumed the same level of power that she had when she grew angry at Twilight before, staying true to her word of not holding back.
A second after her scream died down, Dash flapped her wings back, blasting herself towards the final opponent that she had to defeat.
“Ha ha ha ha ha! So it is, then!” exclaimed Discord, looking wickedly happy. “Have at you, Soul of Harmony!”
With the flaming pegasus coming straight towards him, the dragon propelled himself forward in a straight motion, now flying to her as well. As the two of them were closing in on each other, Discord inhaled a large amount of air, his chest puffing out as he drew in the air with the inside of his chest having a faint glow of brown.
Reaching the pegasus, he pulled himself slightly upward. As he let the pegasus fly under him, the dragon exhaled as soon as she was under his mouth, letting out a loud roar as well. From out of his mouth came a barrage of brown rocks of varying sizes as well as a brown mist, breathing them out towards Dash below.
“Whoa, what the--- Aaah!”
A swift rock half her size had hit Dash, knocking her back. As she flew back, a stream of smaller, but faster rocks then flew past her, constantly hitting her as the dragon breathed out the rest of his rock barrage.
With the last of the rocks, Discord flew on, while Dash continued to be knocked back. Opening her left eye, she saw a giant rock twice her size coming straight at her. Grunting in pain, she then yelped, flipped herself over to stop her backward motion, and quickly threw a hoof, propelling herself towards the rock. The hoof hit the rock on impact, breaking it apart and allowing herself to go through it.
Lowering her hoof, she then faced the dragon that had just turned around and stopped far from her, with his upper body raised again like a snake.
“Breathing out rocks instead of fire, huh? Guess I should expect just about anything from you,” she said.
Discord chuckled. “Indeed... Let's see if I can't stop this little jet fighter of you.”
The dragon threw out and aimed both of his paw and claw at the pegasus, with a yellow glow enveloping both of them. On the path towards her, flashes of light appeared along it on the left and right. What Dash was now seeing were five giant air balloons of varying colors, half the size of the dragon himself, which were now blocking the path towards him, positioned in a zig-zag line. The balloons had black, wicked-looking faces on them that were smiling towards her.
“Come get me, if you can,” the dragon taunted, with the balloons' faces mimicking his facial motion.
Not wanting anything else to get in the way, Dash flapped her wings back and threw her front hooves forward, blasting off towards the balloons. As soon as she neared them, the faces opened their mouths and began to inhale in the air. Then, they exhaled, blowing out huge streams of wind towards her. Her speed slowed down, and she was now fighting against the winds that were pushing her back.
Dash grunted as she pushed against them. To this, Discord smiled.
“What use is your speed if it can be slowed down by the mighty wind alone? Eh?”
“Ugh... You're gonna have to try harder than that, Discord!”
Struggling against the winds, Dash focused on her wings, putting her strength into them and tensing them up. She slowly moved them forward as far as she can, almost touching and covering her face.
Then, with a loud yelp, she flapped them back as hard as she could. With the strong flap of her wings, she took off like a rocket, now flying through the winds despite their strength. Within a quick second, Dash flew through the balloons, popping all of them on contact.
“What?!” yelped Discord, surprised.
“How about this?!” Dash yelled. “My head, going straight into your gut!”
With her rocket-like speed, the pegasus was heading straight towards the dragon and aiming for his body. She flew straight into his chest, hitting it directly with her head and front hooves. With both of her speed and strength, the hit created a great force that knocked the dragon back, sending him flying and making him look as if he was just hit by a large speeding soccer ball.
Discord yelped in pain as he flew back, feeling the super strength of the Flame of Harmony damaging his insides all over. After a second, he slowed down and stopped himself, clutching his chest with both of his paw and claw together, and with his face stricken with pain.
The dragon groaned, opening his eyes to look down at his chest. “That was sudden... I had no idea that the power of the Elements of Harmony was this strong. And here I thought the dreaded rainbow beam was all they could do. Ugh...”
Dash floated there, saying nothing as she firmly stared at him.
Letting go of his chest, the dragon then looked onwards to Dash and smiled.
“Time to step up my game, then.”
Discord chuckled. He moved his claw up and began to slowly move it to his left.
“I wonder if you can get out of this?!”
Swiftly stretching his left arm out, as soon as he stretched it all the way, the claw itself appeared to be entering a yellow portal that opened up, enveloping it in whole. Seeing him, the pegasus quickly noticed that something was opening up next to her.
A yellow-glowing tear in the air appeared, and the tear opened up to let Discord's claw out of it, allowing him to grab and trap Dash into his grasp with her head out on top. With her in his sudden massive hold, he proceeded to squeeze her as hard as he could, with the pegasus grunting in pain as she felt her entire body being compressed heavily with limited movement.
“Ugh... Let me go!”
“Aw, what's this? A little teeny pony being squeezed to bits, eh?” Discord sarcastically said, chuckling. “Don't worry. I'm just holding you there while I do this!”
With Dash still in his grip, the dragon began to move forward to her while his hand was still in the portal, taking the portal along. As he flew to her, his chest began to glow a red hue.
“Time to make good use of the fruit punch I drank. I hope you like it with a bit of... acid,” he said.
The dragon began to inhale in the air again, puffing his glowing chest out. Then, nearing his target, he exhaled and roared, this time exhaling a breath of red fruit punch over the pegasus, drenching her within. As soon as the exhaled liquid touched her white coat, Dash felt a great burning sensation from it, increasing as it went all over her. She screamed in pain as the liquid burned all over her entire being, for this was no ordinary fruit punch.
Ending his exhaling and flying past her, Discord stopped near her and turned around to face her.
“Hehehehehe,” he giggled with a funny look. “How ironic. You burn with rainbow fire coming off of your head, yet your body can't handle the heat itself. Absolutely amusing!”
With her eyes forced shut, Dash groaned, growling at him afterward. “Very funny, Discord!”
“Oh, what's the matter, Dashie-washie? Feeling helpless? I think you need some livening up!”
With the drenched pony still in his hold, the dragon brought her in through the portal, now holding her close to him as the portal closed.
“I wonder how you're like as a golf ball?” he asked.
Bringing up his paw, a white flash then occurred, and now he held the grip of a large golf club. He threw the pegasus downward, and in the midst of her flying down, he put his hands together on the grip, raising it up to his right and putting it behind him.
Discord swung the club downward and up, hitting Dash with the strong force of the club's head. As if she was being hit by a bullet train, the hit sent the pegasus flying to the left of the dragon, screaming as she was knocked away with the burning fruit punch flying off of her. After a bit, Dash stopped herself in the air, her face being struck with pain. Along with the bruising hit from the golf club, the remnants of the fruit punch were still seething on her coat.
The dragon chuckled. “Actually, how about I just use this to knock some nonsense into you?!”
The chaotic serpent flew on to her. Halfway through, he put his hands together again and raised the club above his head.
Still feeling the pain, Dash opened her eyes, quickly seeing that the dragon was about to hit her again. Nearing her, he swung the club down. But in the midst of his swing, the pegasus put her hooves upward. Both the hooves and the club's head clashed with each other, with the hooves stopping the head and struggling against it.
“Knock some nonsense into me? You mean to make me crazy,” Dash said, gritting her teeth as she struggled. “That's not gonna happeeeeeen!”
With that yell, she flapped her wings back, pushing and throwing the club away from her. Immediately afterward, she flapped them again, now propelling herself towards the midpoint of the dragon's torso. Reaching it, she then swung a series of swift hard hits from her upper hooves straight at the body, with each hoof digging deep into his gut. Above her, Discord's face looked like he was trying to vomit, grunting constantly with his eyes popping out and eventually causing him to drop the golf club.
Finishing up her hits, Dash flapped her wings forward, moving her back several feet. Then, flapping them back again, she went for the same point with her hooves out in front. With her strength, she hit the dragon's body hard, the great force of it knocking him away for the second time.
Yelping in pain, Discord flew back. After a bit, he slowed down and stopped, clutching his gut with his hands. He groaned aloud as the pain inside of him was now greater than before, feeling as if a large hammer had just crushed his insides.
“...You... are such a strong little pony, indeed. Can't believe Harmony would go to such lengths to stop someone like me,” he said. “Agh, my stomach...!”
“Eeeugh... Alright, you've done it now, Rainbow Dash...!”
With his eyes narrowed and his sharp teeth clenched hard, the dragon growled and let go of his stomach, glaring at the pegasus afterward.
“You've certainly riled this one up... No more messing around now. I can't have you damaging my insides any longer!” Discord exclaimed.
Lifting his head towards the sky, the dragon let loose a loud, deafening roar. A roar that reached far into its surroundings, attracting the attention of every ear that heard it.
“Come at me, you big dragon freak!” yelled Dash. “This is my destiny, and it won't be fulfilled until you are gone!”
“As you wish, puppet of Harmony!”
Wasting no time, the Spirit of Chaos propelled himself forward, this time with a harder push that increased his speed. Reducing the distance between him and the pegasus at a faster pace, nearing his enemy, the dragon inhaled a large amount of breath with his chest glowing orange. As the pegasus neared his mouth, he exhaled on her, breathing out a large and furious stream of burning fire towards her.
Seeing the glow beforehand, the moment Discord breathed out, Dash flapped her wings to the left, launching her to the right and letting the incoming fire go past her.
“Finally. I was wondering when you'd act like a real drag--- Huh?!”
Before she could finish, Discord suddenly made a sharp U-turn, with his dragon body forming a half-circle. With his chest still glowing, flying for Dash again, he quickly inhaled and exhaled again, breathing fire out towards her.
With the dragon coming from her left and as the flames neared her by an inch, the pegasus flapped her wings forward and flew back, dodging them again. Before two seconds could even pass, the dragon made a U-turn once again, trying to breathe fire on his target once more. Again, she dodged back, and the flames went past her.
Having missed her for the third time now, Discord growled in frustration.
“Persistent! How about this, then?!”
Turning around, he swiftly put his hands forward. As his arms stretched out, the hands themselves went into two yellow portals that opened in front of them. To her immediate left and right, the pegasus saw the other end of the portals open up. The dragon's hands came out of them.
The hands then quickly moved in on her. Deciding not to dodge, Dash swiftly put her upper hooves towards the palms of the giant hands. Both the hooves and the hands clashed with each other, with the pegasus struggling against them.
“Ugh...! Trying to trap me in again, huh?” she said.
“Harmony must be crushed!” exclaimed the dragon, struggling as well. “I dare not to go back into that eternal prison!”
For a while, both the harbingers of Chaos and Harmony continued to struggle, with neither side gaining. Then, pushing herself harder, Dash's hooves were finally appearing to move the hands back.
“Whether you like it or not,” Dash said, grunting. “You are and will be going back to where you belong!”
Giving her hooves a final push, after a brief bit, she moved the hands away and immediately flapped her wings back, launching herself forward and letting the hands crash in on themselves.
Growling with frustration again, Discord quickly brought back his hands and closed the portals. Then, he threw his hands forward, glowing bright yellow this time. At the heeding of the dragon, along the path to him, several purplish-white orbs that were the size of the pegasus appeared. Scattered a few feet from each other, the orbs proceeded to fire white-colored lasers, firing one after another, towards her.
Seeing the incoming lasers that were heading towards her, as she flew onward, Dash swerved herself to her right, letting the lasers go past her. She then moved up and spun herself like an airplane to her left, dodging more of the lasers. Almost reaching the dragon, she then swerved down, right, and up, flying past the rest of the scattered orbs.
“Arggh, you're far too nimble!” Discord exclaimed, surprised.
Screaming with her hooves out in front, the pegasus reached the center of the dragon's body and crashed herself into it for the third time. The dragon was sent flying back again, this time with a louder and more painful-sounding scream.
Going back farther than before, after a few seconds, he slowed down to a halt and stayed there with his body looking limp, the lower portion of it raised up this time. For a few more seconds, he remained in the spot. Then, suddenly, he set his body upright. Swiftly bringing down his arms, the dragon let loose to the sky the loudest and most raging roar thus far.
As his angry roar penetrated everything in its far surroundings, a great large-sized orb appeared around him. The surface of the orb resembled a checker board that looked glass-like with transparency, sporting a shining tint to it as well. Within the orb, Discord was leaning forward with his body looking limp again. He was clutching the same spot with his paw, and his right eye was shut with his teeth clenched.
“What's this? A shield?” Dash asked, seeing it.
“...You are one super determined pony, Rainbow Dash,” Discord said, groaning. “You always were, in fact. It's just that I've never seen such a high level of determination from you, until now. Eeugh... I've underestimated you, really.”
“Hmph!” The pegasus frowned. “Looks like I've hurt you so much that you had to put a shield around yourself, huh?”
“Indeed,” the dragon said. He smiled afterward. “And now, heh heh, you cannot do anything to me. I doubt you can break through this protective shelter of mine. Think what Twilight did, only so much stronger than hers. Sooner or later, you'll have no choice but to wait until I've recovered, and then this battle between Harmony and Chaos will be anew again.”
“...Hmph, only for me to beat you into a pulp all over again... No...”
Dash lowered her head and narrowed her eyes.
“I think I'd rather finish you off right now,” she said, calmly.
The dragon laughed. “Fine by me, Rainbow Dash. Don't be surprised if you end up as a squatted insect on my windshield, though.”
“I won't... Count on it.”
Dash looked down at the hoof she brought up.
“You know, when I fought Twilight down there, when I struggled against her big beam attack on me, something inside of me grew wild. The energy of Harmony inside of me, it suddenly felt like it kicked itself into overdrive. So much that it allowed me to overcome and defeat her, reverting her back to her old self again... I still remember that feeling...”
She then looked at the dragon ahead, clenching her teeth.
“...and I know now how to get to it again!”
With that yell, she threw her front hooves down, going into a quadrupedal position in the air. Both her aura and her rainbow flames exploded, with both becoming even larger than before. She then proceeded to grunt constantly, trying to summon as much of her power as she could and trying to make that feeling come back to her.
“...Hm?” Discord looked onward with a slightly curious look.
For a few more seconds, the pegasus continued to power up with her shaking at a violent rate. Feeling the inner need to let the power go within her, letting out a loud grunt, she exploded once more with the white particles of her aura swaying themselves out of her and into the surroundings, fading into the distance. With this explosion, her aura instantly changed into a colorful rainbow one, and the irises of her eyes sported the rainbow tint to them, swirling wildly around her pupils.
“Ohhh yeaaaaah...! Think I'm gonna be a splatted mess on your shield, huh?” she said, grinning. She chuckled. “No... I'm going to be the bullet that pierces it.”
The dragon stared at her, saying nothing in response. Then, he realized something.
“Wait, you're using the power of Harmony to... Oh no.”
His eyes widened up, with his lizard slit pupils shrunk as he now knew what Dash was about to do.
“How could I forget this...?!”
Dash laughed. “It's over, Discord! Too bad you didn't last long, just like before!”
Still in her quadrupedal stance, she took a “step” back, moving herself back and preparing for her launch.
This was it, she thought. After many moments of struggling against her opponents, all she needed to do to restore Harmony was this. The one move that was once a myth in this world and that she became a master of. The one move, she knew, that had forged her destiny in the first place.
With her rainbow aura and the rainbow swirls in her irises, along with her raging rainbow flames, Dash became a sight to behold even to the dragon, whose limp body was now trembling in fear.
“No, no...!” grunted the dragon, shaking his head in denial.
As she slowly lowered her head, crackles of rainbow-colored electricity began to appear around her every half-second. After a bit, her power finally came to its absolute maximum.
With one massive flap of her wings and a raging scream from the top of her lungs, Dash was set free like a rocket. From her launch point, a massive, gigantic, circular explosion of rainbows erupted, becoming larger and larger as it swiftly spread outward. Unlike the Rainboom from before, the inner colors of the ring became more flame-like, waving and moving about, and the ring as a whole was surrounded by crackling rainbow electricity. The ring continued to spread, until it became large enough to reach the eyes of everyone in the world.
From her point of explosion, Dash was speeding towards the dragon at her absolute fastest, with a long rainbow stream trailing from behind her. With the great distance between her and the dragon, it was not until long before she reached the shield.
Dash plowed through the dragon's shield, shattering it into glass-like pieces. Immediately, with her might at its max, she hit and dug extremely deep into Discord's gut, the strength of the hit being five times stronger than the previous attacks. With this huge amount of strength, it resulted in a great force that knocked the Spirit of Chaos back the farthest that he had ever been, with him screaming in agony at his loudest.
As he flew back, the dragon began to fall from the air, spinning uncontrollably as he fell. A large, brightly glowing circle of rainbow could be seen at the spot where the pegasus had landed her final hit on him.
As Dash watched in the air with her aura and eyes still endowed with rainbows, the dragon was appearing to be shrinking in size as he spun and fell. As he shrunk back to almost his normal draconequus size, Discord was heading for an open spot in the gardens of Canterlot below. He soon hit the ground, causing a small explosion of dust and smoke as he made the rough landing.
It was finally done. Or was it? Dash wasn't sure. Still, she smiled, knowing that she was the victor in this battle. With that, she proceeded to propel herself towards the gardens, flying to where Discord had landed.
In this grassy open spot of the gardens, Discord, back as his draconequus self, was lying there face-flat. For a while, he stayed there, until a loud groan was heard from him.
Using his hands, he proceeded to push himself up from the ground, struggling to stay up. The great pain from his gut radiated outward to the rest of his body, feeling like someone twice his size had beaten him up. Continuing to struggle, he soon moved his body upward and stood on his feet. He stumbled a bit as he tried to keep himself standing.
“Oh my... That was a doozy,” he said, his head feeling lightheaded with his eyes rolling around. He then twitched and grunted, feeling the pain shooting through him like a bullet. He leaned forward and clutched his gut again with his paw, only to notice that the spot he was clutching had a circle of swirling rainbow colors.
He then heard a set of footsteps behind, already knowing who it was that stood behind him.
“Why, Rainbow Dash?” Discord asked, breathing heavily with his eyes normal. He then turned around to face her. “Why is it that you and the rest of Equestria favor Harmony so much? Why shun poor old Chaos? Why avoid it like it's the ugly duckling?”
“The answer is simple, Discord,” Dash replied, smiling with the particle aura gone, her eyes back to red, and her mane and tail assuming the stationary shape of a flame. “It's because we wouldn't want to be wasting our lives doing weird stuff and being your puppets to play around with... Life. It's too precious to waste, you know?”
Just then, the glowing circle on him began to glow brighter, and as both of them noticed, a glowing outline of rainbow then surrounded the draconequus. Still clutching his body, he looked at himself all over, only to feel the insides of his body suddenly going cold with parts of it going senseless and numb.
Knowing what was about to happen next, Discord looked towards the white pegasus with a somewhat sad look.
“Am I fated forever to be in this cursed stone prison?” he asked.
“Only if you don't stop being the Spirit of Chaos,” Dash replied.
Discord stared at her for a bit.
“...Never... I will... never turn my back on what is fun to me...”
With that final line from him, suddenly, the entirety of the draconequus' body, from head to feet, began to glow bright white. The glow was so bright that only his overall shape was seen in the midst of it.
From there on, a sudden non-wind explosion of bright white light erupted, enveloping Dash within and causing her to shield her eyes with her hoof. The explosion, the sphere of white light, then proceeded to spread outward, covering everything within it as it moved. First, the palace itself was engulfed, then the city basked itself into it. Soon, the entire floating island, from top to bottom, was engulfed, and now there was nothing but a giant white sphere floating above the ruined Ponyville.
After a few seconds, the sphere vanished, leaving nothing in its place. At the side of the giant mountain where the remnants of Canterlot were, the sphere reappeared there. It soon dimmed, and the entire province appeared to be back in its place with the waterfalls resuming their flow, looking unaffected as if nothing had happened to it in the first place.
Back in the gardens, Dash opened her eyes and moved her hoof away. She noticed the mountain ahead of her, confirming to her that the place was back to normal. Not only that, but she saw that the draconequus standing in front of her had been turned completely into stone, still in the same position with the clutching paw and still with the same sad expression.
“...I did it,” she said, beginning to look happy at the sight of it all. She laughed in joy. “I did it! Whoo!!”
Dash threw a hoof up into the air, launching herself upward and floating there. The pegasus then flew up, turned upside down, and flew down in a complete circle, repeating the loop-de-loop a few times. She continued to laugh with great joy, knowing that she had finally fulfilled her destiny.
She looked around as she floated there in a bipedal position, sporting a great smile on her face.
“Wow, I can't believe I did it. I saved the world all by myself!” she exclaimed.
“Indeed, you did, Rainbow Dash.”
Hearing a voice behind her, Dash turned around.
“Princesses! You're alright!”
“Yes, we are, thankfully,” said Luna, standing on the ground alongside Celestia with their manes and tails flowing along. “Discord did not harm us much, but the way he trapped us inside the bubbles... Ugh, I do not think I would want to be in such a small space like that ever again.”
“Well done, Rainbow Dash. The chosen Flame of Harmony,” said Celestia. “By fulfilling your destiny, you have defeated Discord and restored Harmony back into its rightful place, just as the Flame from long ago had done... I cannot recall a more terrible time than what had just happened, to be honest, other than the period when he ruled the world with no opposition.”
“I agree, sister,” said Luna, looking at her. “Discord became pretty close to reigniting that period again. I still cannot believe what he did to Twilight Sparkle, honestly, converting her to his cause and all.”
“Yes. Most likely, it was forced, rather than by choice... Still, you did well in reverting her back, Rainbow.”
“Yeah,” nodded Dash. “It wasn't easy, but at least I did my best when I fought against her and Discord as well.”
The sun princess nodded. She looked at her sister, and they both nodded to each other, deciding to do it.
“For all you have done thus far to arrive at this point,” said Luna, looking at Dash. “For restoring Canterlot back into its rightful place...”
“We shall give thanks and bow only to you, savior of Harmony. To you, and your friends who had helped you reach such a long-lost form,” Celestia said.
The princesses proceeded to lower themselves to the ground with their heads low and their eyes closed, bowing down to the one that had saved the world.
To this, Dash folded her upper hooves and put on a proud smile, chuckling and safely knowing that everything was finally back to normal.
Epilogue: “The Day to Live”
Awaken... my chosen one.
Dash's eyes snapped open, her body having been jumped a bit by the voice she suddenly heard. Her rose eyes moved left and right a few times, trying to gain focus on her surroundings.
As her sights were set straight, she quickly noticed that she was not in her bed anymore, remembering this time that she had only fallen asleep the moment before.
“What is this...? Where am I now?”
Dash, as her normal blue self, found herself standing in what appeared to be an area that was filled with layers of bluish-green mist all over. The seemingly endless layers of mist surrounding her were moving at a very slow pace. Several night stars seemed to be scattered all over the area, with the size of them being bigger than the ones seen in the night.
This place seems... heavenly, Dash thought. Ethereal. As if she was welcome here, a feeling unlike the dream of darkness that she had before. Was she dreaming, then? Lucidly? Or was she here for real?
“You have done well, fated one,” echoed a female voice.
The pegasus looked around, hearing the same voice from before. Then, she realized where it was coming from.
“Hey... I recognize you,” Dash said. “You're the one I've been hearing lately. The one who woke me up that morning, and the one who made us all realize what my true destiny was, showing those scenes to us and all.”
She looked down at her chest, touching it with her hoof.
“It's you, isn't it? What really transformed me into the Flame of Harmony... You... are me.”
“Correct. I am you. Or rather, it is you who is my chosen vessel.”
With that realization, the pegasus then felt a feeling of calmness within her, with her chest beginning to glow a large circle of swirling rainbow colors. Seeing it, she lowered her hoof, and she then felt like something was exiting out of her from within. The glow on her chest began to protrude outward, and like a round object that was exiting a pool of water, what appeared to be a large, brightly-glowing, multicolored sphere was making its way out of her chest.
The sphere of swirling rainbows soon exited out of her, with Dash no longer feeling the calmness inside her. The sphere then floated up to the front of her face, causing her to form an expression of awe as she looked at it.
“I am, indeed, the source of your transformation into the Flame,” it said. “For I am the true power behind the Elements of Harmony. I am all that keeps the peace throughout Equestria, stabilizing all that the denizens of this world hold dear... I... am the Soul of Harmony.”
“...Woooow, so you are... How awesome!” exclaimed the pegasus, smiling. “Heh heh, looks like I was right when I said that it was my soul on display for everypony to see, and that I was gonna be the one to save Equestria.”
“Indeed. Just as you felt in the dream that foretold your destiny.”
“Yeah... Wait, so it was you who made me dream that?” Dash asked, looking puzzled. “On that note, you can see the future as well?”
“I can. But my ability of foresight is limited... Nevertheless, I see that my choosing of you was not made in error. And for that, I am glad.”
“Choosing...? So you mean...?”
“I can sense that you have many questions swirling in your mind, Rainbow Dash... Linger still, then, for I shall answer all.”
The sphere proceeded to move itself to the right of Dash's head and stayed there with the pony looking at it.
“We are here, in what is known as the Lane of Destiny,” said the Soul. “It is an ethereal plane of Equestria, in which special or chosen ones arrive here to either discover their destiny, set them on the path towards it, or both. By now, you know that once ponies gain their mark, it sets them on their journey to reach their destinies... Such things do not require entrance to this place, for it is only for those with hidden, truer destinies. Unknown ones, such as yours.”
“My true destiny to become the Flame,” said Dash, looking at the mist and stars all around them. “Hm. I always thought that I was to become the fastest flier in all of Equestria as well as to take care of its weather. I never knew that I was also to be its savior.”
She looked at the sphere next to her. “So am I really here in this place, or is it another dream you're giving me here?”
“Your physical self remains on the bed in your home. I have merely brought us, your soul and myself, here.”
Glancing ahead, the pegasus took a few steps forward and stopped.
“So it’s a dream, then. A lucid one,” she said.
As the Soul moved up and stopped next to her head again, something then appeared in front of them. A panoramic, flat-looking box, it was, floating a few feet above Dash's height. For a brief moment, the box displayed nothing but a black screen, then it started to show something.
The screen began showing what appeared to be a white, leaf-less, crystallized tree, rooted deep near the back end of a dark cavern. Dangling from their many branches were several crystallized orbs that were emitting sparkles from them, floating upward and making the tree a sparkling sight to behold. At the end of five of these branches, a colored gemstone was embedded within each of them, having the individual colors of red, blue, green, yellow, and purple. In the very center of the tree, a large, white, six-pointed, star-shaped gemstone was seen, and below it were the engraved marks of the sun and the crescent moon.
“Long ago,” began the Soul. “When the world was young, there existed nothing but darkness and chaos. They ravaged throughout the world as they saw fit, leaving nothing but destruction and death to every young life form that lived and to every soul that had just been born. Not a single ray of light and hope had shone through this darkness... until one fateful day. Hiding away from the ravaging chaos, a great number of brave young life forms had made the decision to sacrifice themselves, using their souls and their energy to form and condense themselves into one single soul. A soul that then bound itself into one single tree seed.
“In their shelter of protection,” it continued. “Those who had remained behind after the sacrifice had taken the seed and planted it deep under the earth. It took many months for it to grow, but in the end, the sacrifice had proven to be not in vain. The seed had subsequently grown into a beautiful, peaceful tree. A stark contrast to the darkness around them. Thus, they had named it, 'The Tree of Harmony.' And with the birth of the Tree came the entity that would power it.”
“...You,” Dash said, looking at the crystal tree with a bit of awe.
“Yes... As you can see, young one, that tree is the birthplace of the Elements of Harmony.”
Having just heard the origin of the Elements, the pegasus was utterly fascinated by it all, looking even more in awe than before with her eyes widened.
“Yeah, I could tell. The gems on the Tree. They were how the Elements looked like before we obtained them,” she said, pointing at them with her hoof.
“Correct. Their unbound forms, to be precise. Mere conduits in which to channel my power through them... With the birth of Harmony came the first wielders of it, and it was through them that the world knew peace for the first time. Throughout time, many have taken the mantle, restoring peace to the world and preventing those who would dare to threaten it from doing so. Indeed... I have been split many times to empower each of the individual wielders. Those who would carry the Spirits of Honesty, Kindness, Laughter, Generosity, Loyalty, and Magic. Splinters of myself that would help them unleash the power of friendship on their enemies... Pieces which would form back as one should they ever lose connection to the Elements due to whatever cause. Should that happen, then I am forced to wander this world, searching for the next set of wielders.
“But, as you felt in the prelude of your destiny,” the sphere continued. “I would also be whole if a certain set of requirements were met. For when I shatter into the six Spirits of Harmony, I always leave my core in the soul whose willpower is the strongest. I have always done this, ever since he became the first.”
“He?” asked Dash, glancing at the sphere.
“The first Flame of Harmony.”
With it still on the Tree of Harmony, the screen ahead of them then cut to another scene. This time, it was a large and wide view of a desolate wasteland with what looked like a few remnants of plants and grass here and there. Most of the area's ground appeared to be scorched with black spots all over, with dead trees in some spots and huge craters in another. The sky above was a dark shade of red, adding to this dark and desperate scene.
In the center of a large scorched spot, there appeared to be six differently-colored ponies with five of them lying on their sides and front, looking to be injured with various cuts and bruises on their coats. Only one of them was standing ahead of them, struggling to stay there with the same injuries.
The screen cut to a frontal view of him and his features were shown with his teeth clenched. A cobalt-blue earth colt, he was, with a red slicked-back mane and tail. He had green eyes and his cutie mark was that of a yellow lightning bolt, much like Dash's own. Along with the rest of the ponies behind him, he wore an Element of Harmony on his neck; a golden necklace with a blue gemstone on it that was in the shape of his cutie mark.
“Hey... it's him. The pony from the ancient record I've read,” said Dash, recognizing him.
“Yes... Before this very moment, I have always split my core when I turn into the Spirits of Harmony, taking them along,” said the sphere. “Now, no longer, because of this. I had foreseen his defiance and willpower, but again, I can only see so far as well as some things... I had never known that I could empower a single life form with the full might of Harmony.”
The scene then appeared to skip forward a bit, now showing the colt with an expression of surprise as he looked down at his necklace. Various colored streams of energy were being siphoned into his necklace, coming from his friends who still lay behind him with one of them looking unconscious.
The streams stopped and the screen then faded to white. A second later, it faded back into the scene and now the colt stood there, transformed with a firm frowning look. His red mane and tail became moving, waving flames that emitted embers from them, and his coat turned into a golden yellow color. His eyes were ruby red and his cutie mark was now a red lightning bolt.
“Whoa...! His coat there. It's literally gone gold!” exclaimed the pegasus, awed by the sight of the first Flame. “How awesome!”
“Indeed... And with such a transformation, all on his own, he had vanquished the enemy of his time. In the thousands of years afterward, no one else had managed to reach the form as he did, despite my choosing of the one with the strongest willpower. Either the initial power, the Great Beam of Harmony, was enough to restore the peace, or the wielders had simply failed to defeat their threat. Although... before you rose up to become the second, there was one who almost managed to attain it.”
Cutting away from the golden colt, the screen then displayed what looked like a view inside a darkened interior of a building in the embrace of the night. A large hole in the ceiling was seen, shining down the moon's light onto a spot inside the building. In the center of the lightened spot, there stood a tall stone pedestal of sorts. On top of the pedestal, there was a large stone orb with the mark of a six-pointed star on the side of it. Below the orb, five stone extensions were seen protruding out from the base that held the orb on top. At the end of these extensions, on top of them, were the five Elements in their normal forms.
Next to the pedestal in the moon's light, there appeared to be somepony standing there. Dash saw her, recognizing who she was.
“Princess Celestia...? But why is she... Wait, of course!”
The mane-waving sun princess stood there in front of the pedestal, looking firm at it. Then, with a few flaps of her wings, she flew up to the top of it with her horn glowing yellow. Using her horn, she levitated the Elements up, enveloping them with the same glow. From the top of the large orb, the Element of Magic was then seen exiting out of it with the same glow, rising out of it from the yellow portal.
Taking a look at the Element of Magic, Celestia then proceeded to levitate all of the Elements around her into a circular motion, spinning around her vertically and then horizontally. She tapped into their power, causing them to spin faster and faster until they spun like a speeding wheel. Then, moving her wings and body upward, she made a small explosion of light and rainbow, causing her mane and tail to shoot themselves all the way up.
“Hey, her mane and tail...!” Dash exclaimed. “They...”
“Rose up like fire? Yes,” said the Soul. “But notice how they are not separating embers from them. Notice how her coat color stayed the same, as well as the color of her eyes... Even though she had all of the Elements by her side, even though she was wielding my power and that I chose her to be my core, in the end, it was not enough to make her fully transform. For she was lacking one thing...”
“The Magic of Friendship... Right,” nodded the pegasus.
“And thus, the rest is clear.”
With the spherical aura of light and rainbow around her, the sun princess flew up and out of the large hole in the ceiling. She made her way towards the one that waited for her in the sky, whose large bat wings were keeping her afloat in the air.
“Yeah, I definitely know how it went, alright,” said Dash. “She banished her to the moon and locked her up inside of it.”
“All while losing their connection to the Elements. To me... Not only did Luna turn on her sister, but Celestia using the Elements, without the one thing that is needed to use their power in whole, had further severed their link. That, and although she had the stronger inner willpower of the two, Celestia could not muster it up from within. She was afraid of hurting her beloved sister.”
“Huh? She was?”
The scene cut to a close-up view of the sun princess, showing her as her tears came out of her eyes while preparing her horn. It then zoomed out as she swung her head down, her horn commanding the six gemstones to fire out a large rainbow beam towards her sister's incoming green energy beam.
The two attacks clashed, and it was not long until the rainbow beam was pushing the other back. The green beam was canceled out and the rainbow beam engulfed Nightmare Moon in whole. Afterward, the beam shot itself upward, heading straight towards the moon above.
“...Man, so she was, huh?” said Dash, with a slightly sad frown. “I'd be the same if I went against any of my friends like that... In fact, I was the same when I confronted Twilight in Ponyville. Only that I didn't shed any tears about it. At least I kept my guard up throughout the whole thing.”
“Any good soul would be the same, indeed... Thus, when the sisters lost their link to me, I was then forced to wander the world once again for the next millennium. In the time since, there had been no threats to the world. Even though she had lost her sister, your faithful sun princess had done well in keeping Equestria safe... Still, I kept my search up for the time being, searching for the one whose inner willpower is the strongest to place my core being inside and granting him or her the potential to become the Flame. After such a long time...”
The Soul moved up to the front of Dash's face.
“...I had finally found you. The one with the rainbow mane and tail. A trait that is synonymous with Harmony, as you surely know.”
“...So I was born with you, then?” Dash asked.
“Yes... When you were still in the womb of your mother, I had merged with your soul. Thus, I had been with you since the very beginning.”
“Huh... How awesome.” The pegasus smiled, chuckling as she rubbed the back of her head with her hoof. “Yeah, rainbows are definitely the face of Harmony, alright. It's kinda strange how rare we rainbow ponies seem to be, though.”
“Indeed. It is a strange and rare genetic trait. One that I had nothing to do with, if you wish to know... Perhaps it was also your destiny for your soul to be merged with me, having been set by some entity that can see all of time itself? Nevertheless, I am glad to have found you. Whereas Celestia could not muster up her will, you did... and that is why I said that my choosing of you was not made in error.”
“Hehe, I guess. I really couldn't bear to see that creep Discord take over the world, so I just did what I had to do.”
“Of course... and for that, I am proud.”
The pegasus chuckled again.
“Soooooo... with all of what you've said so far, I think I can connect the rest of the story,” Dash said. “When I did my first Sonic Rainboom as a little filly, you split away from me into the Spirits, didn't you?”
“Correct... By doing what no one had seen in a long while, by shattering me apart, I had ridden along the waves of your Rainboom to those who had seen it, to the five who had gained their destinies because of it. It was I who had forged the friendship between the six of you.”
“Hm, and then, we became the new wielders of the Elements of Harmony... Right. I think I get the whole story now.”
“Yes... and I can sense that your mind is clear now.”
Dash nodded. “Yep.”
With every question in her mind having been answered, the pegasus felt at ease, knowing how it all made sense to her now. She began to walk past the sphere with the panoramic screen fading away in front of her. She thought about what the Soul had said, how it all weaved together. Then, she stopped with a sad frown on her face as her head tilted down, sighing sadly as well.
“...You know,” she said. “It's great that I became the second Flame of Harmony and all. But... my friends. What about them? Don't you think it’s kinda unfair that none of them got to transform as well? We could've taken on Discord together while he was a giant dragon.”
“...Indeed, it is unfair. But there can only be one Soul of Harmony, and only the one that I choose can transform. I am sorry, but that is the reality.”
The sphere moved up to her, floating a few inches above her this time.
“Do not forget, my child. It was your friends who had helped you transform. No one else. Without them, all that you know would cease to be.”
The pegasus sighed again. “I know... I did sort of say I was fighting for my friends after all when I confronted Discord.”
Dash lifted her head up to look at it, smiling. “I won't forget it. I can promise you that.”
“Hmm... You may be the only one of your friends who has gone through a special destiny, but... with ease, I can say that another of you also has a special destiny ahead of her. One that will also represent all of the Elements, but in a way that is separate from becoming the Flame.”
“Huh...? Another of my friends? Who?” the pegasus asked.
“That is for you and her to discover.”
“...Hm, keeping it a mystery, huh? Heh, I think I like discovering stuff for myself, honestly.”
Smiling, Dash then looked around once more.
“So, uh... What will you do now? Go back to my friends or what?”
For a brief moment, the Soul said nothing, floating there in silence.
“...Uh, Soul of Harmony?” the pegasus called, staring at it and waiting for a response.
“...No, my chosen one... I... shall remain here with you.”
“Huh? Really?” Dash asked, looking a bit surprised.
“Yes... Since you have become the second Flame of Harmony and have saved this world, it is wise of me to stay within you. You may have stopped the spread of Chaos, but that does not mean it is the only threat you will ever face. Not in this lifetime... Something is approaching this world, Rainbow Dash. Something darker than Chaos... If it is not stopped, this darkness will swallow the world at a speed greater than Discord could ever manage to reach.”
“What...? Wh-what is this darkness, exactly?” asked the pegasus, looking suspicious.
“I do not know... but I sense that it is coming. Thus, you must prepare for it. By remaining inside of you, I will grant you the ability to transform into the Flame whenever you desire, so that you may hone the form to its absolute perfection. You did well in your battles against Chaos, but you must improve if this new foe is stronger than anticipated.”
...Whoa, what? Dash just thought, taking a step back with an expression of surprise and with her mouth a bit open. Me? Getting to transform whenever I want? But, but I thought it was just a one-time thing...
For a brief bit, she continued to look surprised at this sudden revelation. Then, she formed a firm, smiling look.
“Well... if you want me to keep the form, if you want me to improve at it... then I will,” Dash said, nodding. “Besides, heh heh, I think I look more awesome as my white flaming self, anyway.”
“Hm, then it is settled... Although the form is now yours to use as you desire, you also now have a great responsibility with it. Take care not to abuse it, my child, and do not forget that you are the only one with this special gift.”
“...Right. I won't.”
The Soul lowered itself to the pegasus' chest, moving closer to her as she watched.
“I shall merge back inside of you, now that everything has been made clear. Though I may have exited your friends to be whole again, it does not mean that they have lost the power to wield the Elements. For I have left pieces of myself within their souls. Thus, as long as the Magic of Friendship still binds you together, the Great Beam of Harmony shall shower your enemies within its light. Should that fail, though, then you may rise as the Flame of Harmony again and cleanse the threat away from this world... This will be the last we shall ever speak, my chosen vessel.”
The sphere moved straight into her chest, entering inside of her.
“Until the very end... you are, and will always be, the one Soul of Harmony.”
The Soul entered her completely, leaving a bright glow of rainbow on her chest. She closed her eyes and tilted her head up as the great feeling of calmness swelled all over her again.
The glow on her chest dimmed down and she opened her eyes. For a second, they were ruby red, only for them to be reverted back to her normal rose afterward.
A few feet ahead of her, something seemed to be opening up. A door, it was, and past it, a room of bright white light was seen, shining its light towards her.
Dash formed a proud determined smile on her face. She had acknowledged everything she had learned just now, and with the power remaining inside of her for what was implied to be the rest of her life, she knew never to abuse it as well, just as the Soul had said.
“Don't worry,” she said, beginning to walk to the door. “I will prepare for this darkness. I will prepare for anything, for that matter. I will never lose… and you can count on that.”
Dash entered the door, walking into the great light that soon enveloped her.
The pegasus' eyes were slowly opening themselves, waking up from the light that was in her vision a second before. Gaining focus as the blur in her sight went away, the ceiling of her room was the first thing she saw, noticing that she was back on her bed in her room.
Blinking, she looked around. It appeared to be in the early morning with the orange-colored light of the sun shining through the open window in her room.
Seeing the morning light, Dash sighed with a smile, her eyes half-closed. For a while, she stayed there, looking relaxed as she was. Then, she sat up, pushing her blanket off with her hoof and sitting there with her head slightly tilted down as the feeling of slumber still lingered within her.
After a few seconds, she yawned loudly, stretching all of her hooves out as she did. Then, staring ahead with fully open eyes, she looked down, putting her hoof on her chest.
The great calm feelings she felt in the dream when the Soul re-entered her. They still persisted within her to this very second, confirming to her that the power really was staying with her. To this, she grinned a bit, knowing that she could transform into her awesome flaming form whenever she wanted now. Could she try it now, then? She wondered.
Nah, not now, she thought. She had just woken up after all, and she needed to do her usual morning routine first. Perhaps later at Canterlot, then, for a very special event was being held there.
The hours had passed by.
The blue pegasus was now standing in front of a large red curtain that was hanging over a large wall, in the same building in Canterlot where the Elements of Harmony were kept. She stood in the middle of a long and large hallway, standing on a red carpet that was leading to a large door on either side. On the left and right side of the curtain, as well as all around the hallway, were various stained glass mosaics. Each of them were depicting an event in history with most of them involving the Elements.
The pegasus was not alone in the hallway, for she was surrounded by crowds and crowds of ponies that had filled most of the place, endlessly chattering about as they waited around. Standing near her were her friends, looking onward to the curtain that hanged over the wall.
“Gee, who would've thought that somepony like you would save Equestria on her own?” asked Applejack, smiling. “And bein' powered up by the Elements of Harmony no less?”
“I don't think any of us saw that night coming, honestly,” said Rarity.
“We definitely didn't see it coming, alright,” said Twilight, having been nursed back to health since the incident. She looked at the blue pegasus. “Only she did.”
Dash nodded, smiling as she looked on.
At the base of the hanging curtain, there stood the sun princess herself, glancing around the hallway with a smile. Celestia then looked at the six friends and began her speech.
“We are gathered here today to honor the great heroism of one special somepony who stood up to the villain Discord and saved Equestria from eternal chaos for the second time,” she said. “As all of you may know, these six friends had saved the world twice in the past. This time, however, as a group, they could not. It was then, through their support for her, that a miracle had happened. A miracle that none of us had ever known about, until that moment.”
Closing her eyes, the princess' horn then began its yellow glow. The curtain behind her was soon enveloped in the same glow. She jerked her head upward, unfolding her wings as she did, and the curtain opened itself.
What the curtain hid before was that of a newly-built stained glass mosaic. In the center of this mosaic, six colored gemstones were surrounding what appeared to be Rainbow Dash herself in her Flame of Harmony form. She was firing off, from a raised hoof, a beam of rainbow at the shocked-looking Discord above her at the very top of the mosaic. In the background behind them both was that of a rainbow-colored gradient.
“And so, we shall dedicate this to you, Rainbow Dash, for your efforts against Discord as the long-lost Flame of Harmony,” continued Celestia, opening her eyes towards the blue pegasus and smiling, the glows fading away as well. “May you and your friends forever treasure this within your hearts.”
With that, the crowds of ponies began to applaud for her, stomping their hooves on the ground and cheering loudly at her. Glancing around, Dash began to blush a bit, smiling almost innocently as well.
In the midst of this, though, she was reminded of something, making her look a bit surprised. For a moment, her head tilted downward a bit, her eyes shifting left and right as she thought about something. Tilting her head back up and glancing ahead, the pegasus then nodded to herself.
“Uh, um... Princess Celestia?” she called as the applause died down. “I have something to say to everypony here, if you would allow me to.”
Dash proceeded to walk up to where Celestia stood. As the princess stepped out of the way for her, the pegasus then stopped at the spot. She took a glance at the mosaic above. Then, she turned around and faced the crowds that were now putting their eyes on her.
“...Um... Gee, I don't even know where to start or how much I should say on this,” she said, looking down and rubbing the top of her mane with her hoof. She then looked ahead again. “Um... this morning, I had a dream. Though, it wasn't an ordinary dream. In it, I spoke with someone and, well, it turned out to be something that I was born with from the very beginning. Twilight, you know how, when we first got the Elements of Harmony, we also ended up representing each of the Spirits of Harmony, right?”
“Yeah,” said Twilight, nodding. “What about them, Rainbow?”
“Well, it turns out that the Spirits were inside of us all along... and when you guys were transferring the energy of the Elements to me, those were actually the Spirits exiting from out of you.”
“What? We were actually harboring them inside of us?” asked Rarity, looking a bit surprised.
“Really? But... I thought we were just making a connection to them so we could use the Elements,” said Twilight.
Dash shook her head. “We had them all along, and then, they exited out of you to fuse with the one inside of me. As I learned in the dream, what they fused into had turned out to be the real power behind the Elements. It called itself the Soul of Harmony. It was the one I was speaking with in my dream.
“I learned a lot in our chat together, you know,” she continued, glancing around at the crowds. “If I were to explain everything right now to everypony, it would take a while. So I'm just gonna get right down to it, then... Guys, Discord isn't the last that we'll see trying to do bad things to this world. There always had been bad guys in the past and there always will be. It's always been like this throughout Equestria's history.
“Well, then, I gotta warn you guys,” said Dash, her look turning into a determined one. “There is a darkness coming. A darkness that looks to be greater than what Discord has ever done.”
“...What? A darkness?” asked Applejack, looking suspicious, yet puzzled. “And it’s gonna do worse things than him?”
“Who or what is this darkness, Rainbow Dash?” asked Twilight.
“I don't know,” replied the pegasus, her eyes downcast. “All I know is that it’s coming.”
To the sound of this, the crowds of ponies began to murmur to each other about it with some of them looking scared and surprised.
“Whatever this darkness might be... I must prepare for it,” Dash said.
“...So you're sayin' that we need you to be the Flame of Harmony again,” said Applejack. “'Cause I doubt the old-fashioned rainbow beam will be enough to stop this darkness. If it really is stronger than Discord, that is.”
“Yep. But... we don't need to do the energy transferring thing again, you guys.”
“Huh? What do you mean?”
Dash's eyes moved back up to look ahead, putting on a determined smile on her face.
“Heh heh... Watch this.”
Closing her eyes, the pegasus lifted her head up as she reached out for the calmness inside of her. The second she tapped into it, the Harmonic energy within her spread all over in an instant, much quicker than when she transformed in the throne room days before. Already, she felt the need to burst from within.
She lowered her head and quickly jerked her head upward, unfolding her wings at the same time. In the middle of her wings unfolding, Dash exploded with a quick white flash, instantly turning her coat white and enlarging her wings with her mane and tail bursting into flames. Despite this explosion, only a single rush of wind came out of it, sweeping back the manes and tail of everypony as it came through.
As she lowered her head, a red glowing outline of a lightning symbol appeared on her neck. The glow then turned into a full glow and, a second later, the glow extended around the front of her neck with a bright yellow color. It then dimmed down, leaving behind the golden necklace of Loyalty on her.
The flames that were flaring off from her mane and tail had soon died down, with both assuming the stationary shape of a flame. Dash then opened her ruby red eyes, still with a determined smile on her face.
At the sight of the transformed pegasus, the crowds of ponies gawked and gasped in awe, having seen the rainbow flames that flared a second before. With the large wings and pure white coat, she was a sight to behold, looking almost as beautiful as Celestia herself to some of them.
“Whooooooooa!” yelled Pinkie Pie with an expression of great surprise. “You can Super-ize yourself without the Elements now?!”
“Wait, what?!” exclaimed Twilight, looking just as surprised. “But I thought the power had left you days ago?”
“It hasn't, Twilight,” replied Dash, looking at her hoof that she raised up. “The Soul of Harmony is staying inside of me, giving me the ability to transform at will now. It's doing this so that I could get better at using the power of the form. If I'm going to be against the darkness by myself, then I have to train. No matter what.”
“It's staying inside of you...? But, what about the rest of us, then?” asked the purple unicorn, staring at her.
“Yes. If the Soul is remaining with you, then we can't use the Elements anymore,” said Rarity.
“Yeah. It's soundin' like we have to depend on you from now on, Rainbow Dash,” said Applejack.
Hearing them, Dash lowered her hoof and looked at them. Smiling with a kind look, she proceeded to walk to them.
“You guys are still connected to the Elements,” she said, stopping in front of them. “The Soul told me that it left pieces of itself within you when it exited as the Spirits. So... if you guys still prefer to use the Beam of Harmony...”
“...No, it's alright, Rainbow Dash,” said Twilight, smiling as she looked away. “On second thought, it’s better if we just leave it to you, really. Besides, considering what Discord had done to get us separated twice now just to stop us from doing the Beam of Harmony...”
“Yeah, Twilight's right,” said Applejack, smiling as well. “I mean, if this darkness really is stronger than Discord, then, again, I doubt that the beam will work on it anyway.”
“I agree,” said Rarity. “Honestly, having the power of all the Elements into one single pony is better than having them spread around six ponies.”
“What they said as well. Besides, anyway... even if we might no longer use them, I think we shouldn't forget that it was the Elements that brought us together in the first place,” said Twilight, looking at the white pegasus.
“Yeah, and you shouldn't forget that it was through us that made you reach this form, Rainbow Dash,” said Applejack. “As long as you keep fightin' for your friends, it's all good.”
“Right,” the white pegasus said, nodding. “Just as the Soul had said to me.”
Glancing around at the crowds again, Dash walked backward to the spot she was in before. She put on a resolute smile again.
“So, as I was saying, I must prepare for this incoming darkness,” she said. “I will train to the best of my ability and will discover everything there is to being the Flame of Harmony. So that when it comes... nay, when any threat may come here to try and ruin everything...”
She flapped her wings down, launching her upward. Stopping in the air, she then raised a hoof up and threw it down, stopping near her face and making her look like she was putting up a closed fist. At this throwdown, a small explosion of white particles erupted around her, forming an aura that surrounded her. Along with the aura, her mane and tail resumed their flaming forms with colored embers separating away from them.
“...I will kick their flanks out of this world and back! And you can count on it!”
With the declaration from her, the crowds and crowds of ponies began to whoop and cheer for her as loud as they could, stomping on the ground to applaud for her as well. With a happy face, Pinkie Pie began to jump high into the air a few times, joining in on the wild cheering. As the crowds cheered and applauded on, to Dash, it began to feel like she was in the Wonderbolts stadium again.
“Whooooooooo!!” yelled Pinkie, continuing to jump high into the air. “All hail Super Dashie!!”
Dash chuckled, lowering her hoof as the feeling of being proud came over her. Then, she turned around to look at the mosaic of her.
Days and nights had passed since the pegasus had read that chapter in the book on the Elements of Harmony. Who knew, back then, that the chapter was but a small glimpse of her true future destiny? Who knew that she was going to save the world all by herself? At first, she didn't think she was going to become the thing that was lost to the ages. She didn't think she would represent all of the Elements at once.
In the end, she did. Now, she hovered here as the very thing she had read about that night. She was, and always will be, the Soul of Harmony. The light of which is on display for everypony to see again and again.