Legacy of the Pegasi

by secret89

First published

An ancient pegasi myth has returned. It will take three special pegasi to turn back the storm.

The history books say that Commander Hurricane and his lieutenants Lightning Streak and Ice Wing successfully brought the Pegasi nation into a firm alliance with the other races, establishing a new country under the Royals in Equestria. Yet, time tends to forget the darker details of history. Not everypony was happy to see the mighty and miltant Pegasi subdued under the 'beneficial' union with the other races. The ensuing internal struggle would fade into Pegasi myth, a secret long thought laid to rest...

Thousands of years have passed. Equestria has been at peace under the Diarchy of Celestia and Luna. Nopony recalls the forgotten history of the Pegasi. It is all about to change. Storms from the past are on the horizon, an ancient vengeance set to transform Equestria. Only three unsuspecting pegasi stand destined to turn back the storm; to discover the forgotten Legacy of the Pegasi.

Proofread by SeerGun

Ch. 1: Memories and Warnings

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Legacy of the Pegasi

Chapter 1: Memories and Warnings

Soarin' drifted aimlessly through the halls of the Wonderbolts headquarters in Cloudsdale, observing the various photos and pictures that adorned the walls. He had just finished up a particularly grueling day of aerial maneuvers at practice, and had decided to take his time and try to relax on his way out. He stressed the word try; the recent weeks had been harder than usual, and not in physical sense.

A light blue pegasus, Soarin' was a member and second in command of the Wonderbolts, Equestria's own stunt flying squad. Orphaned at a young age, he had latched onto the one thing that he loved, that of flying, and ran with it. His perseverance and determination put him at the top of his class in Flight School, furthering propelling him as he dominated the various flight tournaments and amateur stunt shows. Immediately thereafter he had joined Equestria's Pegasi Air Force, and applied to the Wonderbolts. Soarin' smirked. That had been a good day, he thought remembering his acceptance into the elite military flight team. He was the youngest member ever to the join the group, something he still took pride in.

Exiting the compound, Soarin' found himself gazing out over Cloudsdale to the horizon. He was a Wonderbolt, a goal he had set for himself since his parents' death. A role model and well respected throughout Equestria. It had not been easy, but the reward had been worth it. And yet these attempts at self assurance did little to help. He sighed, seating himself on the edge of the cloud. “Why do I feel like something isn't right with me?” He said to nopony in particular. For weeks now he had felt uneasy and tense, expecting some great disaster to show up out of nowhere. Sleep had been difficult to come by, and thoughts of his parents' mysterious death kept coming to mind.

The light blue pegasi glanced off into the distance. Just outside the weather factory, a group of weather pegasi were preparing what appeared to be a massive storm. Black clouds rumbled as stray lightning bolts erupted throughout. Soarin' flinched at the sight, painful memories tugging at his mind. Images of his parents flashed before him. The three of them had been at a Wonderbolts show in Cloudsdale, Soarin' recalled, as he continued to drift into his memories, still staring at the billowing storm clouds.

The cascading sound of cheers filled his ears. Thousands of pegasi were around them in the Cloudseum, eyes glued to the aerial display as the Wonderbolts twisted, weaved and criss-crossed across the stadium. A young, light blue colt was no exception.

“Look Dad, there they go! They're going into their final routine! The finale!” Soarin' heard his much younger self exclaim, as he jumped excitedly in his seat. He was practically there this time; an observer in his own memory.

“I see them son; they're really something aren't they? Maybe you'll be there someday!” His father, Wind Runner, yelled back over the crowd, drawing a wide grin from the young colt.

Soarin' smiled briefly at his father's comment, but it quickly faded. It had been such a good day. Why and how had it gone so wrong? He shuddered. He knew what was coming next. He had seen it many times before.

Soarin' turned forebodingly to his mother, dreading what was about to happen.

“Wind Runner?” Soarin's mother called out, an extremely worried look on her face as she stared off beyond the stadium to the horizon.

Soarin's father didn't immediately answer, still enthralled with display before him. “Watch carefully now Soarin'”, he said, extending a hoof towards the Wonderbolts. “Cloud Burst and Firewing are about to pull off one of their best moves.”

“Wind, please come look at this.” Soarin's mother called again, her voice filled with worry.

“Hrm? What is it Starlight? What's the matter?” Soarin's father turned to his mother, his voice serious after seeing the worrisome looks from his wife.

Off in the distance, where his mother had indicated prior, was a collection of black storm clouds, hanging curiously off in the distance. Soarin' gave them a dreadful stare. The clouds were as black as coal, billowing and twisting violently in place, as if they were barely being restrained from a violent and uncontrolled outbreak. Though the rumblings could not yet be heard over the cheers of the crowd, small but vicious bolts of purple hued lightning jumped and even arced around the darkened mass. Worse still was the fact that there were no pegasi nearby; the monstrosity was acting of its own accord.

“I've never seen anything like it.” Soarin's mother exclaimed to her husband, glancing worriedly over at the young colt, who was still too enthralled with the show to notice. “It's like the clouds from Everfree, but...”

“But we're no where near the forest” Soarin's father finished grimly. “And there wasn't supposed to a storm today; I gave the order myself.”

“Then what are they? Where did they come from?”

“I don't know. Those clouds, they aren't from Cloudsdale, or from any factory I've ever seen.” Soarin's father took a moment to focus on the distant sight. He visibly shivered as a chill ran up his spine. “I have a bad feeling about this. Those... cloud things, whatever they are, they aren't natural. We should-”

Wind Runner stopped mid-sentence, as a collective gasp arose from the cloud stadium. A deafening rumble had erupted in the distance, shaking the Cloudseum from the sound wave alone. The elder Soarin' stared bleakly at his family, as the audience turned toward source of the sound. However, the source was no longer a small collection of clouds on the horizon. Whatever restraint had been on the blackened clouds before ceased, allowing the mass to erupt, growing exponentially in size with every roll of thunder and bolt of lightning.

“We need to go! NOW!” Soarin's father yelled, doing his best to guide his family out of the stadium, as torrents of rain began to bombard them from all directions, the sky now a threatening mixture of darkness and evil red hues.

“MOM! DAD! What's happening!?” Soarin' watched his younger self struggle alongside his father, fear and terror etched across his face. Massive bolts of lightning erupted from the storm, dancing ever closer to the stadium, lighting up the sky.

“Quick, climb on my back!” Soarin's father yelled over toward his son, kneeling down quickly. The gale force winds that enveloped the stadium whipped at his mane and drove the rain like tiny whips, lashing out from the storm.

The crowd began to panic, some pegasi taking to the sky, while others vainly attempted to pack through the stadium's exits. But escape would be difficult. The now massive system had not only reached the stadium, it had overtaken it, all in a matter of seconds.

“Wind Runner, its too dangerous to fly!” Starlight called out to her husband, now screaming over the terrifying orchestra from the storm. The elder Soarin' recognized his mother's concern glancing above the Cloudseum. Fleeing pegasi in the sky founds themselves in a perfect storm; a pegasi's living nightmare. The driving rain obscured vision, while the tornado force winds buffeted the airborne ponies like rag dolls. Those still in the stadium watched on in horror as pegasi were thrown to the earth below, others blasted by the arcing streams of lightning that seemed to imprison the stadium.

“We don't have a choice! This storm will tear the stadium apart!”

As if on cue, funnel clouds poured out from the tempest, striking at the massive pillars of the stadium. The Cloudseum began to pull apart, gaps forming within the seating, as the winds and funnels pulled at opposite ends of the cloud structure.

The three pegasi took to the sky, as Soarin' simply hovered in place, physically impervious to the calamity that he had seen many times before. He maintained a pained, but sullen stare, the worst was almost upon them. Upon him.

The younger Soarin' gripped around his father's neck, his face buried in his fathers mane. “Hold on!” Wind Runner called out to the young colt. “Starlight, dive! It's the quickest way out!”

The two parents dove at a near vertical angle, doing their best to dodge lightning strikes, pegasi, and the winds that threatened to end them.

It's about to happen, Soarin' thought. His father would reassure him that everything would be okay. At that very moment a vicious cross wind would take hold of Wind Runner, separating the two. A stray lightning bolt would quickly kill him. His mother would reach for him, only to have both wings incinerated by a pair of electric bolts. She would fall to her death.

“Soarin'!” His father called to his petrified younger self. The elder Soarin' winced, fighting back a tear. “We may be leaving you...”

Soarin's eyes shot open. That's not right, he thought to himself. He didn't say that!

“You have to be strong,” his father continued, as the pair plummeted towards the bottom of the stadium. Tears slowly drained from the elder Soarin's eyes, as he continued to hover in shock. It was as if he was hearing his father speak to him for the first time since his death, his voice clear and firm.

Soarin' felt the shockwave from a massive rumble of thunder behind him. He spun around in disbelief. Where did that come from? Before him, the storm was changing. While it still raged about the stadium, a massive funnel cloud began to form above the trio of escaping pegasi, arcs of lightning bouncing within.

“Soarin'.”

The Wonderbolt snapped back to his father's suddenly serene voice. He found himself flying alongside his family. The three were still attempting to escape the storm. But something was different still.

His father looked directly at him.

Soarin' gasped, catching his breath in his throat. “D-Dad?” He let out weakly, choking on his words.

“You have to protect yourself...”

The funnel cloud above began to spin more violently.

“You have to be prepared, its going to happen again, all of this...”

Above the storm seemed to roar in anger, letting lose a vicious barrage of thunder and lightning.

“You can stop it, we know you can.” His father finished calmly. Both Wind Runner and Starlight gave their shocked son a weak, but proud smile.

“M-Mom, D-Dad, what, w-what are y-yo-” Soarin' could hardly speak, tears and years of forgotten pain pouring throughout his body.

Thunder, almost like an enraged scream, again erupted from above.

“We love you Soarin'.” Both his parents smiled at him lovingly.

Fear, panic, and a harsh realization struck Soarin'. He quickly looked between his father and mother, desperation on his face.

“No. Dad, Mom, please you can't.” Soarin' sputtered, realizing what was about to happen. “Don't go. Don't leave!”

The funnel cloud above exploded downward, a massive column of swirling wind and electricity. It engulfed them, tearing Soarin's parents from his sight.

“NO!” Soarin' screamed, pushing his wings as hard as he could, trying in vain to reach his parents. Suddenly, his energy began to leave him, his vision fading in and out. He heard the thunder and vaguely saw the erratic lightning strikes within the funnel cloud, and then suddenly nothing. He had been thrown out of the vortex, his small colt body limp as he fell backward. The last thing he saw was a rapidly dissipating storm, and the streak of a yellow and blue haze diving after him.

Soarin' opened his eyes slowly. The storm clouds and weather pegasi were still there. He was still sitting on the cloud, as if only a moment had passed. He felt exhausted, both physically and mentally.

What, Soarin raised a hoof to his eye, trying to stem the tears that still flowed, was that? He had never had a dream like that. The change in the storm and... his parents. A sharp pang struck the Wonderbolt. They had spoken to him. Soarin' did his best to swallow back fresh tears, but a few still escaped.

It had been years since the Twin Storms, a pair of otherworldly thunderstorms that had descended upon Cloudsdale out of nowhere. Learned ponies and scholars had called it an unexplainable phenomena. Chances were better that Celestia would go around Equestria terrorizing ponies with bananas before another such storm would occur. And yet his memory, or whatever that was, Soarin' wasn't sure, told him that it was going to happen again, and that he could stop it. It was too real to ignore, but Soarin' didn't really have much of a place to start. It had all been so vague. What did you mean Dad? Soarin' thought wistfully, glancing out again to the now storm-less horizon.

After a moment he sighed. “Ah buck. Maybe I'm just crazy.”

“Well, I know I've said it before, but you really shouldn't take those kinds of things to heart Soar.”

Soarin's ears perked at the distinctly feminine voice behind him. He rose slowly and turned to meet his Captain and best friend in the world, Spitfire.

“Hey Sp-” Soarin' started, before the mare cut him off.

“Woah, hang on a sec. Soarin' are you alright? You look like you've been... crying?” Spitfire gave the stallion a somewhat quizzical and concerned look. She knew Soarin' better than anyone, and it took a lot to bring him to tears. Unless...

Soarin' shuffled in place awkwardly, not really sure how to respond. “I uh, I was uh, thinking about...”

“Your parents?” Spitfire guessed, a knowing tone in her voice.

Soarin' sighed. “Yeah. Just a weird, dream, day-mare thing. Nothing to worry about. Cause I sure as hell don't know what to do about it, he added mentally.

Spitfire trotted lightly over to him, placing a foreleg on his back. “Are you sure? Do you want to talk about it?”

Soarin' smiled, feeling better at that moment than he had all day. He could always rely on Spitfire. “Nah, I'll be okay.”

Spitfire stared at Soarin, not entirely believing him.

Soarin' faltered. “Okay fine. If its still bugging me, I'll talk to you about. Promise.” The stallion looked over to his friend hopefully.

Spitfire smiled. “Good. Can't have you distracted with our next show coming up.”

Soarin' grunted. A show would be good. A good ol' adrenaline rush Wonderbolt style would clear his head. “Sounds like a plan. Where are we headed?”

Spitfire spread her wings and gently alighted into the air, Soarin' following alongside her. “Well, I figured since we've been through all the major cities lately, a change of pace would be good. Our next show is in Ponyville.”

Ch. 2: Histories and Mysteries

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Legacy of the Pegasi

Chapter 2: Histories and Mysteries

Twilight Sparkle meandered through her library home, dusting shelves and replacing several books that had all of a sudden seemed out of place. Using her magic to levitate several old tomes, the unicorn frowned slightly. All history books, hmm. So where should I put these...

A lavender unicorn, Twilight had been sent to Ponyville to study under orders from her mentor Princess Celestia, who believed her student could use more “social interaction”. The result was not only the defeat of Nightmare Moon upon her return after one thousand years, but securing the friendship of five others who had become her best friends. In the time since they had gone on various adventures both large and small. Today, however, was not shaping up to be one of those days.

“Aha!” Twilight exclaimed out loud. She spied an open space in the history section of the library. Her magic deftly placed the books snugly along the others, completing the row, section, and as a result the rest of the library.

“There. All done! I've successfully re-shelved the entire library under a completely new and innovative system!” The purple unicorn forced a smile, trying to take pride in her accomplishment. It quickly faded. “Oh, who am I kidding”, she said despondently, seating herself in the center of the library floor. “I'm bored out of my skull.” Twilight risked a quick glance to the clock overhead. “And its not even noon.” She groaned, raising a hoof to her face in frustration.

The lavender unicorn glanced out the windowing chuckling to herself. “I suppose its pretty bad when Ponyville's resident bookworm and study-nut is actually looking for a little action. Rainbow must be rubbing off on me.”

Twilight rose, walking over to the window. In fact, I'd actually welcome a little commotion around here, the mare half joked mentally.

As if on cue, Twilight caught the telltale sign of a rainbow trail in the sky. However, unlike the cyan mare's controlled and impressive stunt flying, Twilight made out an increasingly erratic and haphazard flight pattern. “Rainbow? What the hay is going on up there?” Twilight wondered out loud. As the librarian was still watching, Rainbow suddenly took a nose-dive, picking up a tremendous amount of speed. She was heading right for the library.

Oh, buck. Twilight thought at the last second as Rainbow Dash crashed through the window. Both unicorn and pegasus tumbled throughout the library, toppling several shelves and splaying books all over the room. Both ponies found themselves buried under a pile of books.

I take it back. I like boring. Boring is fun.

A groan came from behind Twilight as she dug herself out of the mountain of books. Turning around, she eyed a tuft of the pegasus' rainbow colored mane. “Rainbow, are you alright?”

“Ugh. Yeah, never been better.” Came back a sarcastic reply as Rainbow Dash staggered to her hooves.

“Are you sure? Outside the fact that you failed to use the door, again, you looked like you were having a hard time out there.”

Dash sighed, sitting down next to the unicorn. “Yeah, yeah I'm fine.” The cyan mare said in a stressed and tired voice. “I've just been having a rough couple days. Trouble sleeping. No biggie.”

It was only then that Twilight took a good look at her friend. Dash had wrinkles and bags that hung under her eyes. Her mane was knotted and disheveled, and she even seemed to have difficulty concentrating, let alone flying. It looked more like she hadn't slept in weeks.

“Is there anything I can do to help?” Twilight gave Dash a concerned look. While upset about the state of the library, her foremost concern was for the well being of her friend.

“Nah, I got this.” Dash flashed a cocky, if not tired grin. “But I do need help with something else.”

Twilight perked up slightly. At least she had something to do now. “Of course. What is it?”

“Well, the Wonderbolts' next show is here in Ponyville in a couple of days, and I was wondering if you had any books on advanced stunts?” Rainbow looked at her friend hopefully.

“Oh.” She had been expecting something else. While Rainbow Dash had read all the Daring Do books cover to cover, she hadn't taken up anything else. And as far as stunt flying went, she had preferred to create her own moves rather than copy others.

“I'm just looking for some inspiration, I really want to knock em' dead with some new stuff.”

“I know I've got something here, but I'd think Cloudsdale would have a better selection.” Twilight stated, wading through the sea of books.

“Its cool, I'll take whatever you have.” Rainbow responded, leaning up against the now empty history bookcase that she had crashed into earlier.

A lone book dropped from the top shelf, flipping open as it landed next to the cyan mare. Startled somewhat, she stared down at the book. The first thing that caught her eye was a picture of pegasi. But they weren't anything Rainbow had seen recently. In fact, the three foremost displayed in the picture were garbed in ancient armor. Well that's weird, she thought casually, trying to ignore the tug in the back of her mind. She glanced at the top of the page for the title.

Pegasi: A History.

Ah, should've figured. Rainbow thought, brushing the book aside. History had never been her favorite subject in school. Scratch that. School had never been her favorite subject, outside of flying. Yet, in this particular instance she found herself drawn to the book, specifically the picture. Pulling the dusty history in front of herself, Dash gave the page a second look. Again, she immediately looked to the three pegasi. For some reason the more she looked at the picture, the greater the nag in the back of her head. The three seemed to be in Cloudsdale, when it had still been a military outpost. In the center was obviously the leader, flanked by two lesser, but still impressive pegasi. Why do they seem familiar? Rainbow thought, reading the caption below.

“Commander Hurricane and his Lieutenant's Lightning Streak and Ice Wing at Cloudsdale after the unification of Equestria.”

Huh, so thats why. Rainbow thought. Yet the uncomfortable feeling in her mind remained. She looked back to the photo. The three were posed among others, and stared off into the distance, almost as if they were, staring at me? An involuntary shudder ran down Dash's spine. The more she looked at the photo the greater sense of foreboding seemed to surround her. It felt very much like the stress she had felt throughout the past weeks. Okay, this is weird. Dash thought, trying to pull away. But her curiosity got the better of her. Commander Hurricane and his Lieutenants maintained their intent stare. While the pegasi around them were in celebration, the three were not so jubilant. Rather, they seemed to have a sense of grim urgency as they bored into the cyan mare. It was almost as if they were trying to tell her something. Like at any moment they would call out-.

“Rainbow?”

Dash jumped slightly at the sound of Twilight's voice, quickly sliding the book aside. She could feel her heart racing, but did her best to hide it. A little too late however, the librarian caught sight of the open book.

“Oh Rainbow, I didn't know you liked reading history!” Twilight exclaimed, peering at the book. "I've always been so interested in reading up on Earth pony and pegasi history, but you know all they had at Canterlot were unicorn books, and well my magic studies took all the rest of my time...” Twilight continued to ramble, though Rainbow seemed to take no notice.

Sound seemed to drown out as her eyes strayed back to the picture. Her eyes widened, darting to the pony on the left. Did that picture, that pegasi, just... move? It had barely been there, just a fleeting second, but Lightning Streak's wings had twitched ever so slightly. That or I'm nuts.

A faint whisper touched her ear. Beware. Rainbow Dash twisted around in fright. No pony was there. In fact she was alone. “Twilight?” Rainbow called out, a tinge of fear in her voice. The library had suddenly gone dark, as if it were the dead of night and Ponyville abandoned.

It will return... the ghostlike yet not unfriendly voice called out again, stronger this time.

“Oh buck, what the hay is going on!” Rainbow darted around the room trying to find an explanation. This is gotta be one of Twilight's spells gone haywire, she thought in vain trying to reassure herself.

Please. The voice called out from the book, pleading.

Rainbow froze. This wasn't a threat. The cyan mare felt at a slight tug at the Loyalty within her. But there was something else also, something greater within that compelled her to return to the picture.

Returning to the book, Rainbow dared herself to once again look at the picture. She nearly gasped out loud.

Lightning Streak looked directly at her, a mixture of concern, determination and urgency upon her face. She could hear the voice within her head as Lightning's eyes quivered ever so slightly.

You must prepare. Find... the others.

“For what? Who?” Rainbow called out fruitlessly.

He will return. The pegasus Lieutenant echoed forebodingly into Rainbow's mind. The storms will return.

“The wha-.” Rainbow started to question, just as images of a colossal storm over Cloudsdale flashed through her mind. A pang of sorrow wracked through her as the images began to overwhelm her. The Twin Storms. Rainbow dropped to the ground, her strength leaving her. Her vision began to fade, the last image she saw was the comforting smile of Lightning Streak.

Find her. Find him.

“Rainbow? Rainbow Dash?”

Rainbow's eyes opened slowly. She was on the floor. What in the hay was that? She thought, groaning as she slowly raised herself up.

“Are you okay?” Twilight stood beside her groggy friend.

Rainbow brought a hoof to her head. “Yeah, I-” The cyan mare cut her response short as she glanced below her. The picture looked back up at her. Moving frantically she slammed the book shut, sliding it away from the two ponies.

Twilight gave her friend an awkward look.

Looking up, Rainbow did her best to recover, giving her friend an exaggerated smile. “So, uh, so what exactly happened?” Dash asked as innocently as she could.

Though still somewhat dumbfounded, Twilight decided to ignore the pegasus' curious behavior. “Well, you sort of just dozed off, sitting there. Next thing I know, you're on the ground, passed out.”

“For that long? You could have woken me up Twilight, I've got a busy day ahead.”

“Rainbow, you were only out for a few seconds.”

A lost and confused look came to Dash's face. “All that, in just a few seconds?” Okay, this is really weirding me out.

“All what?”

Rainbow snapped back to the lavender mare. “Uh, nothing. Just a dream. Hey! Did you get the book?” Rainbow said quickly, hoping to stave off any of Twilight's questions.

“Uh, yeah.” Twilight eyed Rainbow warily, but it quickly faded. “It was buried all the way in the back. Figures; no one's checked it out in ages.”

“Awesome!” Rainbow pulled the book from Twilight's magic and placed it in her saddlebag. “Thanks Twilight. I gotta go, the Wonderbolts always show up a few days early before shows, so I've go no time to waste!”

The cyan mare turned to leave, but stopped at the sound of Twilight's voice.

“Wait, Rainbow.”

Rainbow turned, a somewhat annoyed look on her face. “Yeah?”

Twilight placed a hoof on her friend's back. “Try to get some sleep. Seriously.”

Rainbow sighed in defeat. “Okay, okay. But later. The Wonderbolts wait for nothing!” Dash flashed cocky grin.

“Fine, fine. I'll see you later Rainbow, and good luck.”

Rainbow whipped out a final goofy salute, making her way to the door. About to take off, she gave a sidelong glance at the book, which now rested in the corner of the library. I'll deal with that later, she thought, shivering slightly. Her mind now (mostly) content, Rainbow Dash leaped into the air with renewed vigor, and out into the sky.

Twilight watched as Dash became just a speck against the sky. She frowned slightly. So what was all that about? She thought, trotting over the old history book. Opening the book, she found the page that Rainbow had been looking at earlier. The picture before her displayed a crowd of pegasi in celebration, with three armored pegasi in the center. They had their hooves in the air and smiles on their faces, clearly sharing in the festivities.

“Huh. Wonder what had Rainbow acting so weird.” She thought aloud.

Peering closing, Twilight took notice of the pegasus to the left of Commander Hurricane. That must have been it, she thought in affirmation. Rainbow looks a lot like Lightning Streak.

Her curiosity sated, Twilight returned the book to its proper place at the top of the shelf. It was only then that she remembered the state of the library. “Well, I asked for this.” Twilight said to herself flatly, as she began to pickup the library.

Ch. 3: Lies and Countrysides

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Legacy of the Pegasi

Chapter 3: Lies and Countrysides

The unification of Equestria brought about a new government for the allied races of Earth pony, unicorn, and pegasi under the Royals. For many an average and perhaps uninformed citizen of the land, it was the belief that all executive power and jurisdiction radiated solely from Canterlot and the Alicorns that resided there. While it was true that the original governing bodies of the Earth ponies and unicorns had either been absorbed into the current jurisdiction or were ceremonial, the same could not be said of the pegasi.

Though not so militaristic any longer, the pegasi had secured for themselves a measure of autonomy, staying very much within their stubbornly independent nature. Unlike the mostly defunct parliaments and caucuses of their ground borne brethren, the pegasi had maintained their own. This came in the form of the Cloudsdale Senate, the highest governing body to pegasi throughout the sky and land, and second only the the Royals in Canterlot. Nevertheless, the structure still displayed a strong sense of regional pride.

Located in the center of Cloudsdale, the Senate building was a sight to behold. A largely circular structure, it boasted four towers, each spread evenly around the edge. An additional tower rested atop the dome, around which were statues of pegasi that seemed to be at guard. Countless flags billowed in the wind, creating a sense majesty. Within the building was equally if not more so impressive.

The inside of the of the Senate was a large circular room, rows of seating stretching along the inner circumference of the chamber. The ceiling reached upwards of one hundred feet from the center of the floor, thanks in part to the massive cloud dome. Like the base of the building, the floor was circular, though tempered in size due to the surrounding seating. It was this area from which much of the debate originated, a central dais and podium the only decoration installed. The walls inside the structure also had their own trimmings. Bronze and marble statues of famous pegasi in military history lined the inner walls, as if to guard the sacrosanct assembly. Some stood in regal pose in full military attire, while others were depicted in flight, others still raised on their rear hooves, as if in battle. Of these, the greatest rested in the center of the chamber. Raised up upon a cloud so that even the rearmost Senator had to raise his head, a golden-bronze statue of Commander Hurricane and his two Lieutenants Lightning Streak and Ice Wing dominated the caucus. Behind the standing statues was the massive Cloudsdale flag. The background of the flag was sky blue, with two white clouds on either side, each bearing a single yellow lightning bolt that crossed the other near the bottom center of the standard. While royal decree stated that the seal of the two sisters and the Equestrian flag be displayed in all government establishments, these two were relegated to flanking the entrance of the Senate. This placement, coupled with the imposing statues of Commander Hurricane, his Lieutenants, and the Cloudsdale Flag, made it quite clear where much of the pride and allegiance lay in the floating city.

Though most of the pegasi in modern Equestria had abandoned the military garb and lifestyle that still adorned the Senate statues, they had lost none of their fiery passion or tempers. Those within Cloudsdale Senate were no exception. As a result, the government and politics of the winged ponies was a much more involved, and at times, animated affair. This not only included heated debates between the sky city and the government in Canterlot, but even between the policy makers within the pegasi government.

The inside of the Senate chambers abounded with raised voices, a minority in anger, others in righteous protest. Though it may have seemed to be a sharply divided issue to the casual bystander, the current motion seemed to hold popular support. Many Senators found themselves on their hooves, yelling across the vast chamber, either at opponents in the opposite seating, or at the current speaker who occupied the Senatorial Floor. Insults were not uncommon, and brawls on the Senate Floor were not unheard of. Suffice to say, harmony still had a long way to go when it came to the pegasi race. The current debate was shaping up to be a fine example of such.

“Order, Order!” Shouted an elder pegasi, seated behind a large podium near the rear of the Floor. The current Speaker in the Senate, it was his cumbersome job to instill a sense of order among the Senators and preside over Senate procedure. In other words, his job sucked. “Order!” He shouted again, his frustration apparent.

Despite this, his calls went unheeded. Senators continued to yell throughout the chamber, some even beginning to make their way closer to the forward seating near the Floor. The Speaker sighed. Raising his hoof, he struck a small dark cloud that rested atop the podium.

Immediately the large cloud supporting the trio of statues in the center of the Senate darkened, a lightning bolt cracking up along the metallic Commander Hurricane. It was immediately followed by a massive roll of thunder.

Instantly the assembly quieted, Senators making their way back to their seats. “Now,” the Speaker began, “we will continue.” He turned to the pegasi at the Floor podium. “Senator Wings, you may go on.”

A light gray pegasus stallion with a vibrantly silver mane, Silver Wings was one of the more verbose Senators. His cutie mark, though not by any means elegant, conveyed his talent. A soap box with a speech bubble.

“Thank you Mr. Speaker.” Silver Wings responded, turning to address the assembly.

“As I was saying before, the time has come for the status quo to change.” the Senator spoke beginning to circle the chamber Floor. “Cloudsdale and her pegasi have faithfully served the Equestrian Royalty in the capacity of weather management, and Celestia forbid it should ever be necessary, as an aerial force unequaled in the skies.”

Many Senators nodded in ascent, many of whom had served in each of the respected institutions.

Silver continued. “However, these capacities can be expanded, and our services to this united nation greater!”

Murmurs of ascent gradually rose and fell.

“It has always been in the nature of a pegasus to serve, to strive to best assist not only their winged brethren, but also our adopted cousins that reside upon the earth.” Silver's voice was full of sincerity, yet had a keener eye been at watch, some would have noticed the forced smile at the use of the word 'cousins'. Yet, the assembled politicians were too enthralled with the speech of pegasi pride.

Many more pegasi seemed to give their approval, and even those who had opposed earlier seemed to give sway.

“Yet,” Silver's tone changed, “there are those in the Royal government who would deny us this opportunity.” The senator turned, just now giving his attention to the small delegation of unicorns. Representing the Royal government in Canterlot, the small group had silently observed as the action had unfolded before them. They now locked eyes with Senator Wings.

Grumblings and the occasional boo could heard throughout the Senate. It was well known throughout Equestrian politics that Canterlot and Cloudsdale had been on rocky terms in recent years. Today only served to make things more tenuous.

“Our national government would deny us the right to follow in the hoofsteps of our ancestors,” Silver pointed excitedly at the massive trio of statues above him, “to deny us the will to serve that which runs in our veins, handed down to us by those who have gone before!”

Hoops and hollers of support randomly began to pop up from the surrounding seating.

Silver took a moment to compose himself, returning to address the Canterlot delegation. “I have heard the worries from the national government. I have heard the rumors. That a change in the relationship would only serve to create a disharmony among the nations, that cooperation would deteriorate and collapse. I have even heard the ludicrous notion that this legislative body seeks a secession from our great nation.”

Silver paused, locking eyes once again with the unicorn delegates. Their stares were anything but friendly. The Senator chuckled to himself. “I can personally assure that this is completely false. The pegasi simply wish to best serve their country. It is my sincere hope that the Canterlot delegation will see reason.” He ended warmly, his benevolent smile not at all impressing the unicorn attendees.

Returning to the podium, Senator Wings turned to the assembly, addressing it in a formal and firm voice. “Therefore, Mr. Speaker, assembled Senators, I put forth a motion to a vote, that upon passage will be sent to the national government in Canterlot, requesting for the increased autonomy of Cloudsdale and her pegasi citizenry, that she may better serve...”

Senator Wings continued briefly, but he was quickly overshadowed by the cheers and hoofbeats that poured throughout the Senate. Finally, we're on our way, Silver thought, filling with pride. All will be set right... he thought knowingly, glancing outside the Senate building, as storm was released from a weather factory. All will be set right.

“Order, ORDER!” The speaker bellowed, attempting to quench the continuing cheers and hoofbeats. “ORDER I SAY!” He slammed his hoof upon the storm gavel, but this time it did little to dissuade the Senate. “ORDER!”

Several hours later, the Senate adjourned, the vote completed. Pegasi Senators flew and sauntered out of the massive building. One of the last out, Senator Wings walked briskly from the building.

“Silver! Hey Silver Wings! Wait up!”

Silver looked up. One his fellow Senators and his best friend Windswept flew down, landing hard next to him.

“Hello Windswept. How are you?” Silver returned calmly, continuing to walk.

Windswept was flabbergasted. “How am I? How am I!? I'm mad as Tartarus that's what! And why aren't you!? The vote failed!

“Yes, I know I was there.” Silver Wing replied, still as calm as ever.

“Silver, you know what I mean. Your speech, it was incredible! The applause, the cheering!” A look of disbelief was etched on Windswept's face. “I just can't believe it! How did it fail?”

Stopping, Silver turned to his upset friend. “Winds, I've been at this game a little longer than you have. I think you'll find that despite their patriotism, come time to vote many of our colleagues still find themselves under the oppressive hoof of Celestia.” Silver spat out the monarch's name, no hint of respect in his voice.

“I still can't believe it.” Windswept let out a sigh, gazing out across the Cloudsdale cityscape. “Cloudsdale and the pegasi have so much potential.” He spoke wistfully.

Potential indeed. Silver thought. “Don't worry my friend. The vote was very close; we gained allies today.”

“But will it be enough? We don't even know if Canterlot would've accepted the vote even if it had passed!”

“I know its frustrating. But it's how the game is played.”

“It's just maddening, trying to reach our goal. Even Commander Hurricane would be ashamed to see us restricted like this, unable to carry out his legacy of service to the nation.”

Silver Wing snorted mentally. Hardly. That traitorous coward. “As I said before, don't worry. Our... group...” Silver spoke more cautiously, “of fellow patriots have found the sway we need to ensure our greater autonomy.” A wicked grin spread across his face.

Windswept lit up immediately. “W-we have? And it will bring in the others? How? When? What is it!?”

Silver waited for his friend to compose himself, before answering. “All in good time. Just know that things are going to change you'll be there to see it.”

Windswept smiled. “Finally.”


Soarin' and Spitfire landed softly in the outskirts of Ponyville. It was mid-morning, Celestia's sun still making it's way across the sky. Though the show wasn't for several days, Soarin' and Spitfire always arrived early to ensure that the proper facilities would be available for the squad. As for arriving early in the day, it was always easier for the athletes to move through town when there wasn't a great deal of ponies about who might have recognized the pair, even out of uniform. However, the two Wonderbolts could have put that worry aside. Ponyville was clearly a town detached from the commercialism and news of the cities.

The outskirts of the town were largely rural pastures, wide open ranges that seemed to stretch on toward the horizon. Only wooden fencing and simple dirt roads crisscrossed the sea of wild grass. It was only when they started to make their way into town did they encounter what could be considered an actual road. Coming with the brick and mortar road were the various country homes and shops that made up the small town. Most were simple single storied buildings, complemented with shuttered windows, a brick or wooden build, and small wooden slats for shingles. If a visitor to Ponyville wasn't convinced that it was a country town, then its citizens surely would. Ponies went about their work setting up stalls for produce and baked goods, others tending to their shops. Adults milled about the marketplace, buying and selling, while colts and foals ran about at play. Outside the city limits lay the patchwork of the various farms that surrounded the village, completing the picture. All in all, Ponyville appeared to be a cheerful place, its citizens happily going about their business in the quaint little town. It was quite the contrast to the cities of Equestria, a concept not lost on Spitfire. The same realization could not be said of her compatriot.

“Well if this isn't a little slice of heaven, then I don't know what is.” Spitfire remarked casually.

Soarin' barely acknowledged the comment, grunting absently. He had told himself that he wasn't going to worry about the nightmarish memory from earlier. And here I am, still worrying about it. Normally when something was bugging him, he would turn to flying. It had been the one thing he was able to hold onto after his parents had died. It was something he poured all his anger, sorrow, and pain into, fueling his drive. And for years it had worked, shielding him, propelling him forward. But this time its not working. The stallion thought in confusion. Soarin' felt weak and vulnerable. He didn't like it.

The pair continued to stroll slowly through the town. Spitfire took in the experience, enjoying a simple walk without being bombarded by fans. However, she did notice Soarin's blank expression.

“Hey Soar?” She called out curiously, a slightly concerned look on her face.

Soarin' continued in step, not even taking note of his friend. His body was on autopilot as his mind continued to churn. What had killed his parents all those years ago? Just what had the Twin Storms been? These were just some of the unanswered questions that he had lived with, buried away under his determination to fly, to be the best.

The pair had stopped near the town square. Various ponies moved around them, thankfully taking little note of the newcomers. Laughter rang through the air as young ponies ran about nearby. Unfortunately, Spitfire didn't share in the youngsters enthusiasm. Genuine worry filled her as she gave her friend a solid stare. She was the only pony that knew about his past, how he had grown up, the barriers that he had placed on himself.

"Hey, Soarin', are you okay?”

Right now, those barriers were failing. The tension from earlier, from weeks before, had returned again. Soarin' sighed in frustration. He just couldn't seem to shake this vaguely familiar feeling. Why am I even thinking about this stuff? Its ancient history. Done and gone. Right? Somewhere in the back of his mind, a small voice seemed to say otherwise.

Spitfire called out to her teammate again. “Hey, you alright?”

The male pegasus pulled himself out of his pensive state, turning to the yellow mare.

“Yeah, yeah...” He started not convincingly, staring ahead.

Its throwing me off. He continued in his mind. I've got to do som-. Suddenly laughter caught the stallion's attention. Ignoring Spitfire's curious look, Soarin' turned about, looking for the source. The sight he beheld rooted him on the spot. A young colt trotted happily along down the road, his parents by his side. Smiles were all among them. Anger suddenly flashed through the stallion's body, mixed with confusion. Where in the hay did that come from? The raw emotion had risen up from deep within. It felt foreign, and yet familiar, like an old foe. With it came the accursed and nameless anxiety that had decided to haunt him. First his weird nightmare, and now this? What was going on with him? No, it doesn't matter. I just need to focus. And get rid of, whatever this is. He thought, not entirely sure of himself.

Spitfire glanced between Soarin' and the family before the two. An outpouring of sympathy filled her as she noted the pained expression on her friend's face. “Soar whats bugging you?” She spoke as tenderly as she could.

Soarin' blinked a few times before acknowledging his fellow Wonderbolt. She looked as if she were about to pull him into a massive hug. What, did he look like he was about to break down in tears? Sure some things were gnawing at him a bit, but he wasn't a colt, he'd deal with it. “Nothing, I'm fine.” He replied casually, years of built up barriers lying for him.

Spitfire wasn't fazed. Yet she knew Soarin' well enough not to prod just yet. The stallion wasn't in the habit of asking for help. He'd do things his way first, and then if it didn't work out, she'd make it her business as his friend to step in. Whether he liked it or not. But for now, she simply let out belabored sigh.

Soarin' flashed his friend a grateful smile. He really was lucky to have Spitfire as a friend.

Silence passed between the two for a moment. Still feeling uncomfortable, Soarin' turned to the yellow mare, much more resolute now. He still had something to take care of. “Hey, Spit?”

“Hm?” She replied absently. The Wonderbolt had pulled out a piece of parchment from her saddlebag, not bothering to look up. Instead, there was a knowing look on her face, waiting for Soarin to continue.

“I'm going to take a flight around, check things out.”

“Yeah, sure you are.” She replied sarcastically, a small grin on her face.

She knew him too well. Yep, definitely lucky to have her. He thought happily, the nagging in the back of his mind temporarily subsiding.

“I need to find the local weather pegasus anyway, make sure were setup for the show.” She continued, returning to the list before her.

Soarin' nodded, walking towards the outskirts of the town square. He was about to launch himself into the air, when the Wonderbolt Captain called out to him.

“Just don't go and get yourself hurt understand?” There was a twinge of worry on her face as she looked out toward the light blue stallion.

Soarin' raised a hoof in mock salute, grinning. “Course not! Wouldn't dream of putting you on that emotional roller coaster!”

Before the dumbfounded mare could respond, Soarin' took to the air. Watching him go, Spitfire simply smiled, walking off to find Ponyville's elusive weather pegasus.


Okay, so maybe preparing for the Wonderbolts will have to wait.

Rainbow Dash slowly glided down, landing in a large pasture well outside Ponyville. She hadn't lied to Twilight when she said that she had a lot to do today. It wasn't everyday that the entire Wonderbolts flight team showed up in Ponyville for a show. Normally they stuck with hitting all the major venues in the cities across Equestria. Yet, they had chosen to host their next show right in Rainbow's backyard. To say she was excited was an understatement. Yet, recent events had significantly dampened her spirits.

Taking in the landscape around her, Rainbow spotted a lone tree among the endless flowing fields of grass. Walking over to the solitary oak, she rested herself under its shade. A contemplative mood overtook her. The young cyan mare hadn't had this much on her mind in a long time.

Gifted with the talent of flying, Rainbow Dash was the self proclaimed “Greatest Flier in Equestria”. Though there may have been some legitimacy issues to that claim, she didn't sweat the details. Added to that, she bore the Element of Loyalty, and had been instrumental in defeating Nightmare Moon upon her return. Like her other five friends, she had gone on to save Equestria from the spirit of chaos itself, as well as saving Ponyville proper multiple times. To top it off, she was easily one of the up and coming prospects to join the Wonderbolts. When she wasn't practicing for her eventual tryout, she tended to the town's weather related needs, a job that fit well with her laid back personality. Had she been asked a few weeks ago if she was happy, there would have been no question as to her answer. But the recent weeks had not been typical. “And today definitely takes the cake,” she said aloud to herself.

Still seated against the trunk of the large tree, Rainbow stared off into the distance. It was midday, the sun lighting up the golden fields before her, not a cloud in the sky. Yet, instead of the endless blue that laid out before her, she only saw two terrific storms in her mind, converging on a massive cloud city. She had been at Cloudsdale, the day the Twin Storms hit. The day she had become an orphan. She had been very young when it had happened, only fuzzy memories coming to mind. But come to mind they did, accompanied by sporadic shots of fear and sadness, all she had left after her parents had been taken from her. “And now its all back, thanks to some crazy book,” Rainbow said wistfully, still staring off in the distance. For the longest time after, she had wondered in vain about why her parents had died. Why the freak storm had happened when it did. Her younger years hadn't been very easy in the Cloudsdale orphanage. As soon as she was old enough, she left, eventually ending up in Ponyville. There she had found friends, a real home. “I don't even know if what that dead pegasus from the book was talking about has anything to do with my parents!” She yelled out in frustration. Pausing for a moment, Rainbow thought about what she just said. Wow. I sound like a lunatic, the mare sighed.

What did it even mean? Find her, find him? And what was going to happen? Dash didn't know, and while it bothered her that something big was going to happen, it was kind of hard to prepare on so little information. She tried to put the predicament out of her mind. But instead of more questions, the anxiety from recent weeks filled her, seemingly forcing images of her parents, Cloudsdale, and a massive storm into her mind. “ARGGHHH! GETOUTTAMYHEAD!” Rainbow bolted up, putting her hooves to her temple.

Suddenly, sounds of breaking branches overhead snapped Rainbow from her problem. There was a startled yelp, followed by a solid thud. Rainbow turned to see a copper colored pegasus, with a purple mane sprawled at the base of the tree. A single white wing crossed with an amethyst lightning bolt rested on her flank. Rainbow Dash smiled happily to see the young mare, grateful for the distraction.

“Hey Scoots, what are you doing all the way out here?”

The pegasus looked up from the ground, blowing a tuft of her mane out of her eyes. “Oof.” Scootaloo let out a groan, before standing up slowly. “Hey Dash. I was just taking a quick nap, its quieter out here away from Ponyville.”

Once titled Rainbow Dash's “Number one fan”, Scootaloo had grown in the years since she was a small filly buzzing about on her scooter. Now in her younger teens, the pegasus had not only obtained her precious mark, but had also developed into a strong flier herself, her wings full and strong. This was thanks in no small part to Rainbow's own assistance to the orange filly, the two becoming much closer friends in the process.

“Since when do you nap Scoots?” Rainbow asked in disbelief. Scootaloo had gone to great lengths to try to imitate the cyan mare, but copying her lifestyle like this was a little weird. Course I could just be flattering myself. What was that Twilight had said about ego?

“Hey, advanced flight training wears a pegasus out. I mean, normally I'm cool with a cloud over town, but for the last few days I've been feeling kinda antsy. Not sure why.” The young mare remarked casually. “Anyway, I couldn't sleep there, so I figured I'd change things up a little bit.”

Rainbow felt a tug at the back of her mind. It was subtle, almost unnoticeable, but entirely too familiar. She inwardly growled. I am not dealing with that right now, she thought, tired of the thoughts that had plagued her only moments before. However, at the thought of her latest worry, Rainbow frowned.

“Yeah. So you ah, you didn't hear any of that did you?”

Scootaloo dusted herself off before replying. “Any of what? All I heard was loud noise, a yell, or something. Was that you?”

Though she was grateful the pegasus hadn't heard her, Rainbow hated lying to her friends. But this wasn't something she was willing to discuss. Not yet, anyway. “Uh, yeah, I was just uh, working on some new stuff, and eh, had a bit of a rough landing, that's all.”

Though she seemed somewhat suspicious, Scootaloo accepted Dash's story. “Oh. Is that what this is for then?” The young mare turned to the library book Rainbow had checked out earlier. In her frustration it had fallen out of her bag.”

“Yes!” Dash said quickly, trying to cement her tale. All it did though was draw another curious look from Scootaloo, but the copper pegasus didn't question further. “Yes, I was uh, looking for some inspiration ya know?” At least I didn't have to lie about that one.

Scootaloo, pushed the book in front of her, nosing through. “Hmm. Some of this stuff looks pretty intense.” The mare shot Dash a sly look. “What are you up to RD?”

Rainbow Dash grinned, seating herself next to her fellow pegasus. “I surprised you haven't heard yet Scoots.”

This only served teased Scootaloo's curiosity. “Aw, come on, tell me Rainbow!” The young mare spoke excitedly.

"Relax squirt, its not a secret." Though she herself was excited about the upcoming show, Rainbow decided to let Scootaloo know in the most casually cool way possible. Besides, I may be a bit older, but I haven't lost any of my style.

“Turns out the Bolts' are coming to do a show in Ponyville in a few days.” She turned to her now very still friend.

Scootaloo practically exploded with excitement. “The Wonderbolts?! Here in Ponyville?! I've never been able to go to a show before. I gotta make sure Mom and Dad let me go! ThisisgoingtobeSOAWESOME!”

Rainbow merely chuckled at the teenage filly's ramblings. She too shared a fascination for the stunt pegasi. Clearly napping wasn't the only thing Scootaloo had inherited from Rainbow.

“Yep. But that's not even the best part.” Dash shot her friend a cocky glance.

Scootaloo looked confused for a moment, trying to decipher what Rainbow Dash meant. Realization dawned on her as she looked between the cyan mare and the book before her. She did this several times, her mouth agape in awe. “You're going to do something big when the Wonderbolts are here?!”

“Bingo kiddo.”

The copper mare leaped in front of Rainbow, grasping her with her forehooves. “Dash, this is it! You're going to get into the Wonderbolts for sure!” To say that she was excited for Rainbow was an understatement.

Rainbow grimaced sheepishly under the praise from the ecstatic pegasus. “Yeah, well, I...”

Scootaloo cut her off, still rocking from the news. “So, what move are ya going to do?”

Rainbow Dash frowned. She didn't have a move yet. Heck, I haven't even had time to look in the book, thanks to... whatever that was, or is, or whatever. She thought, the mysterious anxiety creeping once again into the back of her mind.

Rainbow turned to the young mare in front of her. “Yeah, I uh, I don't have a move yet.” For some reason she felt ashamed, confessing herself to the filly in front of her.

Scootaloo didn't waste a moment. Releasing her friend, she poured through the open book. “Well let's get going then!”

Rainbow gave the mare a confused look. “Huh?”

“You need a move, let's get one!” The teenager looked up from the book challengingly. “Or are ya just chicken?”

Rainbow Dash grinned. “Rainbow Dash, greatest flier in Equestria chicken? Never!”

Ch. 4: Foes and Friends

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Legacy of the Pegasi

Chapter 4: Foes and Friends

Soarin coasted lazily across the sky, his wings carrying him farther and farther away from Ponyville. The warm air currents around him caressed his wings, allowing him to glide about aimlessly as he took in the vast landscape before him. He was awash in a sea of brilliant blue, limited only by dull browns of the earth below, and the gravity that somewhere bounded the opposite end of the earth. This was the pegasi's domain, the near limitless freedom of the sky. To quite literally escape the confines of the earth, to feel the comfort and subtle joy of the endless blue realm and to sail that much closer to the stars within Luna's serene night.

All pegasi had experienced such emotions at some point or another in their lives, Soarin' included. Like other pegasi, the sky was his home, his refuge. In times past, these emotions, these thoughts, had brought him peace of mind. Yet, despite the images that moved through his mind, and the landscape before him, Soarin' felt nothing.

The Wonderbolt, stared blankly ahead, unsurprised as he continued to drift. It wasn't the first time this remedy had failed him. But the blue expanse before him had another use, one that Soarin' had applied before, the reason he was now alone in the countryside. He could feel the pinprick in the back of his mind, the seething tension that continued to rise and fade within him. He'd soon be rid of that.

Without any indication, Soarin' took control from the wind currents around him, rocketing himself vertically, deeper into the sky. He felt the protest of his wings, the wind whipping viciously around him, as gravity pulled at him, daring him to go further. Soarin' smirked. Where there had been a face of indifference, there was now one of wicked determination. Gravity and the sky could taunt him all they wanted. Soarin' relished the challenge.

The Wonderbolt continued to press on, daring himself to climb higher. Even as he focused on the beating of his wings, Soarin' could feel the tendrils within his mind again. No!

The pegasus suddenly broke from his climb, craning his head backward, the world spinning round before him. He began to fall, quickly pushing himself into an inverted turn, righting himself as he plunged to the earth below. Soarin' gritted his teeth, hooves outstretched as he pushed himself harder, reaching speeds other pegasi could only dream of. This was what he lived for. What he had always lived for. When something got in the way, he found a way to beat it back down. I'll be damned if this thing gets the better of me! Soarin' called out menacingly within in mind, daring the foreign emotion.

He continued to streak toward the ground, nothing but a blur amongst the backdrop of the sky. Soarin' angled his wings, in a windswept form. Only military pegasi could pull off flight such as this. The light blue Wonderbolt grinned. He could feel the increase in speed, the precision from his superior skill. The mach cone began to form in front of him, beginning to ripple about.

The ground was fast approaching, he wouldn't have much time to pull up before his speed alone would prevent any kind of recovery. He should have pulled up, he should have cared. But at that split second, he didn't. I.., I have to, have to... break it. His concentration was pure. Flight. Daredevil flight. It gave him focus. It always had. It always would. He could feel the tension recede; it was practically nothing. His sheer will, and the adrenaline of the moment were vicious weapons, spurred on by the insane rush before him. A cocky grin tugged at Soarin's mouth. He could feel himself returning to form, years of carefully crafted barriers and internal power falling back into place. Yes... Victory was within his reach.

Without warning, the tendrils within his mind lashed out, images, memories, anxiety, tension, fear, guilt; they all bombarded the pegasus, nearly overwhelming him.

What in the... Soarin' fought against the sudden onslaught, straining to maintain control. Anger flared within him. No. I'm in control, he mentally seethed. The surge was momentary, the visions and emotions subsiding. It had been only a flash, but the few seconds had been crucial. The ground was coming up fast. Without thinking, the Wonderbolt straightened his wings, pulling as hard as he could. Soarin' clenched his jaw in a raw, silently primal rage. He could feel the pull in his muscles as the multiple Gs wracked against his body. His descent began to level out, but the pegasus' speed was still astronomical. And he wasn't just heading for the ground. His flight path put him directly through a tree line. There was no time for thinking, no other option. A split second later Soarin' leveled out mere inches from the ground. Tucking in his wings for less than a second he simultaneously rolled to the left. The pegasus' dodge split between two oaks, as he blasted through the tree line at sub-sonic speeds. The sheer force alone from his wake left a massive swath where grass and small trees had once been.

Immediately Soarin' began to flap his wings, continuing to push himself. He wouldn't be fazed by a close call, he was a Wonderbolt, a military pegasus, he wouldn't allow fear to-

Ripples of his internal foe flared once again.

How in the buck? Soarin bristled, still streaking near the ground at dangerous speeds. It was still there. Not as strong as before, but there was no mistaking the consistent presence the seemed hellbent on reducing him. Disbelief momentarily flashed across his mind. No, damnit. NO! You want a fight? By the Archons, I'll give you a fight!

Anger surged through the Wonderbolt again, as he pulled into the air once more. He steeled himself again, using the speed from his earlier dive to pull several loops and rolls, putting his concentration to the test. But the anxiety did not subside this time. Rather, it countered blow for blow, rising with Soarin's every attempt to blot it out. Soarin audibly growled, pulling out of a particularly tight loop, shooting himself up into the sky.

Reaching his apex, the Wonderbolt hovered for a few moments. His foe rampantly assaulted him. Fear. Anxiety. Panting heavily, the pegasus was once again at a loss. Why did he feel this way? He had no reason to! A sudden swelling of rage coursed throughout Soarin'. “WHY WON'T IT WORK? WHAT IS THIS?! I AM NOT WEAK!” He screamed at the top of his lungs.

It responded. Images flashed through Soarin's mind. With every blink he was greeted with a new picture. The Twin Storms. Fear. His Mother and Father. Anxiety. His Father's cryptic message. Tension. Pain. Guilt.

Soarin' froze. The images stopped, the emotions ceased. He only felt one thing. Familiarity. At one time, he had felt those two...

A horrified and enraged look crept across the Wonderbolt's face. The pain, the guilt. Those were not foreign. “I've never felt, these...” He whispered, trying to convince himself. Those aren't part of what happened! They can't be! Yet familiar they were. The truth and the mysterious connection enraged the proud pegasus.

Snarling, Soarin' dove downward, trying to leave the enigma behind. Argggh. Do. It. Again. Do. It. Again. Beat it back. Beat it back. But the pain and guilt followed. This action was familiar. This painful and guilt ridden flight. Unthinkingly, he fell right into step. With every blow, Soarin's increasing anger fueled his suicidal stunts. It was a battle of wills, each countering the other, raising the bar in the next attack. But he wouldn't quit. Defeat did not exist within his mind. One way or another Soarin' would win, even if it was an opponent he didn't know. Even if it was something within himself.

The anger continued to build, barely contained. Still diving, Soarin eyes snapped like a hawk below him. In an unbridled rage, the light blue pegasus rocketed below into an apple orchard.

The ground rose up before him in a matter of seconds, but the pegasus didn't flinch. He didn't have time. A split second latter rows of apple trees flew past him, now more like static obstacles that mocked him, dared him to thread his skill through the maze before him. Soarin' didn't even have to think. Blistering through the straightaway of wooden trunks, his foe simmering at the back of his hooves, ready to deliver the counterattack, the Wonderbolt let go.

In the blink of an eye he tucked his wings, rolling through several columns of trees, leveling out three rows across. His timing had been perfect, micro adjustments in his speed and wings allowing him to deftly splice through the gaps that were barely there, all in a single roll.

He was breathing hard, the strain beginning to take its toll on him physically as well as mentally. Sweat spilled into his eyes, stinging them. But he wasn't finished. He could feel his opponent building, readying the offensive. He took only a millisecond to level out, his wings instinctively pushing him forward, harder, faster. His eyes narrowed as he looked ahead. The end of the trees to the left and right was rapidly approaching, leading toward a massive red structure. A barn. Soarin' beat his wings harder, increasing his already volatile speed. It would be close. Very close.

The blue pegasus pumped his wings harder, ignoring the pain the wracked them, drawing himself as close to the ground as he could, forcing himself to tuck his hooves in. Soarin gritted his teeth. He could feel a rumble within him, phantom lightning strikes dancing around as his vision blurred to a malevolent and sickly purple. An instant later the wooden rails fell away from his side, the window of opportunity almost wasn't there. Closing his eyes, he gave his a violent upward thrust, as the mirage of the Twin Storms chased after him. But Soarin' ignored it. His body flung upward as he pivoted into a corkscrew, arcing through the upper level barn door opening, the top of his head grazing the frame. Time seemed to slow as the interior of the barn spun around him. His mind barely had time to register the half opened barn door that was the exit.

In that agonizingly long second the storm was upon him. He could feel the heat at his hooves, the arcs of lightning chasing after him, hellbent on snaring him within their clutches. But there was something else. He felt a presence, like everything, all the emotions and visions, were pushing it towards him. He had tried to out run it, but here and now, in this weightless second, he was helpless against it.

Suddenly, an ethereal, ghostlike whisper grazed his ears. “Your wounds...” Soarin' was stunned in confusion. He could feel the cryptic words wash over and through him. It was not one of malevolence. Rather, it felt as if the aura was trying to, to... help me?

Then as quickly as it came, the words, along with the specter of the storm, and the all encompassing flurry of emotions bombarding him, receded. Soarin' didn't have time to fully comprehend what had just occurred. Time rapidly began to return to reality. Coming to the end of his corkscrew, the Wonderbolt hugged his appendages close, willing his body to the impossibly small slit left by the barn door.

Time regained its mastery over reality, as the pegasus blur spun through the opening. He could feel the strain tear away at his body, the force that he had put his wings through. His mind was equally exhausted, the conflict inside leaving him ragged. Barely clearing the barn door, the pegasus blasted out into the vast blue expanse over the farm below. A massive boom filled the air, the compression released from the small exit.

Soarin' jerked his wings open, the sudden catch in the wind sending jolts of pain through his appendages. But despite the pain, and the mysterious voice, the Wonderbolt throttled his wings onward. He ignored the protests of agony that his body assaulted his mind with, just like he ignored the visions and emotions that thrashed the edge of his mind. His vision was starting to blur, but he couldn't succumb. Soarin' couldn't live like this.

And then he felt it. A noticeable change. As he approached Ponyville, he could feel it. A break in the offensive, his mind finally began ease. No. Not yet. Just once more. Then... I'll have it. I'll win. Instinctively his body twisted toward the village that seemed to beckon to his weary mind. Just one more stunt.


“Just one more.” Rainbow Dash whispered to herself. High above and just on the outskirts of Ponyville, the prismatic mare stood lightly upon a cloud. She was covered in sweat, her mane slick against her body. Adrenaline coursed through her veins, her breath in quick gasps. But that had never stopped her before. It wouldn't now.

“You got this Dash! Piece of cake!” Scootaloo shouted from a cloud off in the distance.

Rainbow Dash saluted her younger friend, a confident smirk on her face. When don't I?

Moving toward the edge of the cloud, Rainbow Dash took a moment to survey the sky before her. Then, taking a deep breath, the pegasus turned around, and fell backwards off the cloud, dropping like a rock.

Seated upon her cloud near Ponyville, Scootaloo rolled her eyes. “Psshhh, showoff.”

Eyes closed Rainbow Dash counted. One. The wind whipped around her, daring her to extend her wings. Two. She could feel gravity's pull in the pit of her stomach, as she tumbled over and over. But she wouldn't let it break her concentration. Not yet. “Three!” Dash exclaimed aloud, as she shot her eyes open like a hawk. The stunt mare was greeted with a rapidly spinning world as the distance between herself and the ground diminished. In one swift motion, the pegasus deftly opened a single wing while she was still upside down. Immediately catching the wind, the resistance agilely flipped Dash over. At the precise moment, she shot her other wing open, leveling the mare out and ricocheting her forward.

Some would have jumped to their hooves in applause at such a feat, but Dash was more than a one trick pony. The dive had only been the opener. Rocketing forward, she immediately entered into a massive sky-field of Everfree clouds. The clouds bulged in and out unnaturally, gaps opening and closing without warning between them. Grinning Rainbow dodged the minefield of clouds before her. The pegasus rolled left and right, cutting this way and that way throughout the ever changing obstacle course.

Rainbow Dash grinned as the adrenaline coursed through her. The previous weeks may have taken their toll, but nothing could separate her from the thrill she felt now. Not some weird book. Not the Twin Storms. Not ever her-

Suddenly she felt it. The feeling as if she was being watched. Reluctant to stop, Dash shrugged off the minor distraction. Meh, its probably nothing, I have been working pretty har-

Again. She could feel more than eyes upon her now. Being a pegasus, she could sense the feeling of another flier around her, the flap of wings, the changes in the air. Huh? What the? Rainbow Dash slowed herself, rapidly twisting her neck about trying to locate the other pegasus. But there's... The presence continued to build, phantom gusts brushing alongside her, the echo of wings a-flurry all around the lone pegasus in the Everfree clouds. More than a little unnerved, the stunt mare came to a halt, hovering as she spun about, eyes darting about the clouds. “There's nopony...” Rainbow Dash started to speak still dumbfounded, when she realized it was a presence she now felt. She felt many. All around her.

“Nopony here?” The puzzle mare whispered to herself. In a huff of frustration, the pegasus yelled out. “ALL RIGHT REAL FUNNY, YOU BETTER COME OUT IF YOU KNOW WHAT'S GOOD FOR YA!”

Trying to ignore the truthful fear that was rapidly building within her, Rainbow Dash scanned the clouds around her. Seconds passed, and the fear began to bubble up as the lone mare's challenge went unanswered. The aura of pegasi around her continued to build. Her ears twitched involuntarily, sending an ice cold fear rippling throughout her body, freezing her on the spot. Whispers. Voices. They came and went with the winds, sometimes far, others near, but all around. Garbled and half there, she couldn't make out what any of the rising wave of ghost like voices where trying to say. “THIS ISN'T FUNNY! SHOW YOURSELVES!” Rainbow called out again, barely containing her facade that there were physical pegasi around her.

“Oh the hay with this!” Dash daringly said out loud, suddenly pushing her wings hard and thrusting herself away from the spectral area. She could feel the vast aura begin to fall away behind her, rapidly replaced with a wave of relief and exhaustion. “That's it. I'm done with all this mental mumbo-jumbo. As soon as I get back to Ponyville I'm going to sleep for a whole day.” Reassured, Rainbow Dash let herself relax as she traversed through the clouds, reaching the very center, a large enclosure of bulging clouds.

At that very moment, she felt it.

It started as tiny pinpricks in the back of her mind. The pegasus started to groan at the sudden renewal of the week long annoyance, but as if in a chastising response, it lashed out within her mind. Rainbow suddenly staggered mid flight at the unexpected onslaught. “What in the hay...?” Whatever it was that had been affecting her the past week or so, it had never been so... forceful.

She didn't have time to think on her mental adversary’s new advance, when she immediately felt very vulnerable. In the split second it took her to realize the aura from just minutes before, it overtook her in a massive wave, enveloping her in a renewed force of screaming, panicking voices, and the billowing of pegasi air currents. They were joined by a sudden squall of high winds, attacking the cyan pegasus, and warping the Everfree clouds, pulling them together into a cage.

But the stunt mare was too busy with the invisible apparitions around her to take notice of the changing sky scape. Rainbow covered her ears, trying to shut out the terrified onslaught of screams that swirled around her.

“Watch out!”

Rainbow Dash instinctively flung herself to the side, eyes tracking the very real and very clear voice from only seconds before. A large crack immediately filled the air, followed by the echo of thunder, the kind of sound that came from the collapse of a cloud-stone pillar. Confusion filled Dash's eyes as she looked around, trying to determine if it was her sight or her hearing that was deceiving her. The crunch of the phantom stone-cloud structure continued, a chorus of horrified gasps of ghosts filling Rainbows ears.

“Sky Dancer look out!” The voice from before called out again.

“By Celestia it's coming down!” Called out another voice, a stallion this time.

“What's happening? WHAT'S HAPPENING!?” A terrified mare's voice cut through the air.

Panicking, Rainbow dodged every which way, all about what her eyes told her was a clear expanse, but what her ears told her was a very real carnage. The wind continued to build, and if she didn't know that she was within the white clouds of Everfree, Rainbow would have sworn she was in a hurricane.

The massive structure finally 'collapsed', the massive roar exploding throughout the enclosure of Everfree clouds. Tearful screams filled the air, as the moans and screams grew louder. Echoes of similar structures breaking soon filled the cyan mare's ears.

Hovering in place and panting heavily, Rainbow could hear the resulting tragedy unfold before her. A flurry of emotions filled her. Fear. Sadness. Helplessness. She wanted to do something, help somepony. Frustration overtook her.

“WHERE ARE YOU? LET ME HELP YOU!”

But she was met with only the continued audible destruction within the sky. She could feel them, sense them. They were real. Or had they been? New emotions crawled up within the stunt mare. Her foe from recent weeks assaulted her with a new found weapon. The opponent within her bombarded Rainbow Dash with vague, near forgotten emotions. A connection. A familiarity. The voices, the mass panic. W-What is this? What is all this?

The curious thought only lasted a second, as phantasm wings buffeted her exhausted body. With difficulty, Rainbow pushed her fear aside, mustering as much courage as she could, if only to think straight. Her eyes quickly made out the hazy view of Ponyville in the distance, the Everfree clouds mockingly revealing and stealing away her escape. Straightening herself out, she burst with as much speed as she could, darting for one of the distant openings.

She was almost within reach of one of rapidly closing exits, when the gale force winds around her attacked the cloud, wrenching it shut. A split second later Rainbow's view was blinded by a crack of intensely white light, followed by an explosive barrage of rolling thunder. The shock wave sent her hurtling away from the wall of clouds, back to the swirling epicenter of screaming ghosts and the cascade of crumbling cloud-stone.

Struggling to regain control, Rainbow pulled herself about, wresting control from the winds. “By Celestia, what is going-” She started to say, but all speech left her when she opened her eyes.

What had once been a puffy white enclosure was now a collection of massive black and purple hued thunderheads converging around her. It was the Twin Storms. She knew it couldn't be possible, it shouldn't have been possible. Just outside the reality of her own sight, the Cloudsdale Cloudseum was being torn apart.

She had little time to think however. Massive thunderheads warped around Rainbow Dash, stopping short of engulfing her, but that did little to sate her fears. I gotta get out of here! Rainbow darted every which way, but massive clouds blocked her every move. She could hear the muted thunder around her, lightning strikes that where there but not there, jumping out at her, caging her within the phantasm storm.

Forced into the only safe spot, the very center of the storm-cage, Rainbow was forced to endure the Cloudseum's final moments. The voices from years ago were now more clear than ever, their depth of sorrow, terror, and raw emotion infecting the cyan mare. She had to force herself not to dive after the scores of ponies whose voices screamed out, fading as they fell to the earth. She hovered in place, staring at the sickening familiar clouds around. Then she felt it. All the anxiety from the recent weeks filled up within her again.

Rainbow gritted her teeth, anger coursing through her. “What do you want with me?” She seethed through her clenched teeth, throwing her forearms up in defiance. “WHAT IS IT!? WHAT DO YOU WANT!? WHAT CONNECTION COULD I POSSIBLY HA-”

“Quickly, Star Chaser! Take my hoof!”

Rainbow Dash went numb. A voice, a shockingly familiar one, was catapulted from the deep recesses of her mind, locked away by time. She had been very young. She had nearly forgotten. But she knew that voice. What had only been vague and hazy memories were now crystal clear. The floodgates opened, and the cyan mare was wracked with new kind of pain and sorrow.

“D-Daddy...?” Rainbow dared to meekly call out, the name quivering on her lips. The wind, thunder, and lightning continued to rage around her, forcing the mare to strain her ears, the only connection she now had.

“Cloud Charger what's going on? What's happened?”

“I don't know! We just have to get out of here!”

“Look out!”

The sound of crunching and grinding cloud-stone resonated through the air. Rainbow looked about frantically, desperately trying to find the sound of her parents voice. “Oh no, oh no, oh please Celestia no...” Rainbow pleaded out loud, a fresh wave of fear rising up with the tears that filled her vision. It was only going to get worse. Another wave of gasps and terrified shrieks filled the sky as the sickening crumbling reached it's crescendo, the phantom waves of a massive pillar toppling over rippling throughout. A deafening boom erupted all around Rainbow.

“DAD!? MOM!?” Rainbow Dash screamed out, tears flowing freely as the wide-eyed mare desperately flitted about trying to locate something, anything, in the open space.

“Please, … say SOMETHING!” Silence. “ANYTHING!?” The pegasus screamed out in fear filled terror. But there was nothing. The orchestra of carnage and death continued to play out all around Rainbow Dash, but she was oblivious to it. She only knew sadness, an uncontrollable sorrow twisting throughout her. She hovered in the center of the storm limply, tears dripping from her downcast face. “Please...” A foal like whimper escaped her breathe. “Mommy...” A barely controlled sob shuddered throughout her. “...Daddy...” All self control left the cyan mare. Silent whimpers and sharp gasps shuddered uncontrollably through her body. “Don't leave me.”

“An open wound...”

Rainbow gasped out loud, spinning about. She felt it within and around her, the pinpricks within her mind, the ethereal voice upon her.

“You!” She lashed out in anger, sorrow momentarily thrust to the side. “Why are you doing this to me?”

“...why do you ignore it?”

“What...? I...” She started to say, when the foe within her mind suddenly lurched. Dash felt anger and hate. She could feel the internal presence throwing them about within her. Why make me feel this way, after all this? Betrayal. But why? It wasn't at the voice around her. Not at the festering that had plagued her mind for weeks now. Realization suddenly dawned upon her. These weren't created emotions, placed within her. They were hers. She could feel them, buried deep away in a forgotten place, and now suddenly ripped out and forcefully cast upon her. “But... I don't... I don't know these...” She trailed off, trying to deny it to herself. No. Its gotta be some kind of trick. I can't even place why I'd feel this wa- A new emotion suddenly surged from the depths, striking her hard. Guilt. Before she could question more, the attack was followed by another. A loathing, self hate. Confusion filled the mare as she contemplated the new additions. These were hers. Rainbow Dash couldn't deny it. But where from? Why now?

She tried to shut out the flurry of emotions that relentlessly assaulted her. But in her weakened state, her pitiful resistance only incensed the onslaught. In a like fashion, the storm around Rainbow joined with her belligerent emotions, reaching new levels violence. The pegasus' vision began to blur and her head began to spin, consciousness leaving her.

“A broken sword did not defeat him last...”

The words barely registered in the back or Rainbow's mind. Her vision continued to fade as her wings began to flutter haphazardly. The lightning seemed to grow more violent, flashes of light only hastening her receding vision.

“Find each other... mend the tear...”

Falling. She was falling. Hooves and wings limply outstretched toward the sky, the mare could barely see the full and terrific majesty of the raging storm. This can't be it. I can't go like this! She pleaded mentally, trying to rouse her flailing wings, to no avail. I have to... to do something about this.

But it was too late. Her vision left her, only the fierce whipping of wind and the booming of thunder filling her ears before she passed out entirely.


“RAINBOW DASH!”

An instant later Rainbow Dash's eyes shot open. Gasping for breathe, she abruptly realized that she was no longer falling. Facing downward, she could make out the sight of a much closer Ponyville between the patches of pure white clouds. White clouds? But what about-

“Rainbow? Oh thank Celestia you're awake!”

Rainbow Dash turned her head to the left. “Ugh... Scoots?” She was straddled sideways along the orange and purple pegasus, her rescuer having difficulty remaining airborne.

“Are you...” Scootaloo took several deep breaths before finishing. “Are you okay?” Scootaloo looked over to the cyan mare in concern.

“Yeah, yeah, I think so.” Rainbow grumbled, testing out her wings briefly before rolling off, coming astride of her fellow pegasus a moment later, the two drifting toward Ponyville.

“What in the hay happened out there?”

Rainbow Dash stared back in disbelief. “What do you mean? Didn't you see it? I just got sucked into the most dangerous storm I've even been in my life!”

Scootaloo gave the mare an awkward stare. “Uh, Dash, what are you talking about? There wasn't a storm.”

“What? You didn't see the thunderheads? The lightning? It all came out of nowhere! You didn't hear the Cloudseum tearing apart, or all... all those pegasi...” Rainbow trailed off, an echo of sadness passing through her.

“The Cloudseum being torn apart? But Dash, that's in-”

“Cloudsdale, yeah I know, I know.” Rainbow jumped in, frustration still in her voice. “But I know what it was. I was in the Twin Storms. I could hear... everything.”

Scootaloo simply gave her friend a mystified look. “I'm not trying to say you're wrong Dash, I can tell you're not lying.” An apologetic look crossed Scootaloo's face as she continued. “But... it's just... it's just that all I saw was right after you entered the sky-field, you just sorta stopped.”

“Stopped? What do you mean?”

“Just stopped for a few seconds. Then you sorta just darted in a few directions randomly, like you were chasing something... or lost or something.” Scootaloo tried her best to sound unsure herself, not wanting to make her friend sound crazy, but it fell flat. “Next thing I know, you're falling.”

Rainbow was only left with confusion. How could she have not seen it? Then she remembered the voice at the end. She knew it from earlier. From the warning. From the book in Twilight's library.

“Weird thing is though,” Scootaloo started again, “as I was diving after you, I got this really weird feeling. Like... like there were a bunch of pegasi all around, even though I couldn't see em'.”

“Wait, you did?” An incredulous and somewhat hopeful tone in Dash's voice.

“Yeah, and there was that feeling again, the one I told you about. Like something... something different was-”

“Pulling at the back of you're mind.” Rainbow finished flatly.

Scootaloo gave her friend a surprised look. “Uh, yeah. What's going on Rainbow Dash?”

The cyan mare simply stared ahead. “I'm not sure squirt.” The voice's message resonated with Dash. Find her. The elder pegasus glanced over to her teenaged friend. Scootaloo? But what about this wound, what about “him”? She sighed inwardly. Still more questions than answers. The rainbow colored pegasus turned again to the copper mare.

“But whatever is going on, I'm going to need your help.”

Scootaloo returned with a resolute face. “Don't worry Dash, you can count on me.”

The two continued to fly silently toward Ponyville, now just outside the village limits. Breaking the silence, Rainbow turned once more to the other pegasus.

“Hey, Scootaloo.”

Scootaloo turned, looking curiously toward her friend, not accustomed to hearing her full name. “What's up?”

“Thanks. For saving me.”

The copper mare grinned. “Hey, I couldn't let you leave me hanging like that, now could I?”

Rainbow smiled, and was about to shoot back with her own remark, when a distant sonic boom erupted off in the distance.

Both pegasi immediately took note of the sound, looking over past Ponyville.

“What in the hay was that? It sounded like thunder.”

Rainbow Dash remained quiet, frowning as she gazed over toward Sweet Apple Acres. “No. That wasn't thunder. It was a sonic boom.”

“A sonic boom? But that means...”

“Yeah. There's only a few pegasi in Equestria that can do something like that. C'mon, lets go check it out.”


Soarin' glided uneasily above the small village of Ponyville. Ragged breaths shook his body, sweat still streaming into his face. His body ached, his wings were on fire, and his mind felt like it was a scarred and worn torn battlefield. Hovering just above Ponyville, he allowed himself a moment to collect himself, a reprieve that the mysterious little village seemed to give his mind. He could feel his opponent retreating in proximity to the village, shirking away ever since he had left the apple orchard.

The sonic boom, it must have worked, he thought uneasily. But it wasn't enough. He could have left it alone. He could have landed in Ponyville, found Spitfire, grabbed a much needed drink, and let his mind rest with his wounded opponent on the outskirts. That would have been the easy thing to do. But Soarin' didn't leave a job half finished. He had his enemy in the throes of defeat, wounded, and at his mercy. He would finish it off, once and for all.

Without another thought, Soarin' dove downward toward the quiet village. It wouldn't be quiet for much longer. Wind whipped around his face as his body began to protest yet again. But this time it was unaccompanied by his mental foe. Soarin' grinned, confidence swelling within him. He could feel his self assurance returning. He was the best and he had known it, it had always been there, and no mental parasite playing on his memories, no cryptic and ghostlike voice, was going to snatch it away from him. He didn't understand what it was so insistent on telling him. Interestingly enough, he didn't care.

Once again moving at near breakneck speeds, Soarin' tucked his wings in, letting gravity take over. He could make out the various ponies that loitered about Ponyville, some pointing to the sky toward the daredevil Wonderbolt. Soarin' grinned, confidence washing over him. A crowd had always pushed him to consistently out do himself. And with the way things had been all day, Ponyville's citizens were in for one heck of a show.

Gravity continued to pull on the blue pegasus, but Soarin' didn't flinch. He was coming down directly on top of city hall, smack dab in the center of Ponyville. The large structure suddenly seemed to rise up out of the ground, threatening to spear him with its flagpole. But it was an empty threat, a static obstacle that pegasi danced around in mocking laughter, fit only for the elite airborne race to defy in an aerial display of majesty and arrogance. Soarin' could feel his feathered nature rise up within him, a welcome and powerful ally. It filled him with pride, gave him focus, and diminished the foreign thoughts that would dare to tear down his birthright, his very spirit as a pegasus.

Eyes narrowing, Soarin' let his pegasus instinct, forged razor sharp in the crucible of the Wonderbolts, take over. His wings suddenly flared open, tugging against his battered frame. Pain was there, but it didn't seem to register in the pegasus' mind. Still moving at daredevil speeds, the stallion canted his wings in reflex, barely skimming the roof of town hall. At almost the same time, he banked left, pulling as hard as his wings would allow. He made no sound, but Soarin' felt the strain all the same, a lone vein pulsating at his brow. At such speeds the out-swing of his turn shot Soarin' to the outer circle of town square, his body rolling sideways as his deftly maintained the high G turn, hooves barely scraping the tiled roof tops that formed the loop.

Though his speed had dropped, Soarin' still whipped around the center of Ponyville like a slingshot. The citizens below barely had time to witness the blue blur that seemed to move with alicorn like agility. If they didn't catch the split second aerial display, then the oblivious ponies below became acutely aware of the thunderous wind that billowed behind the Wonderbolt, traveling like a runaway freight train and crashing about the square like a mini-tornado.

Soarin' took little note of the chaos that erupted behind him. Though he stared ahead in precision flight, his real focus was on the fledgling enemy within. He could feel it trying to rouse itself, trying to meet his counterattack. Not... going... to... happen, he thought icily. The pinpricks were there again, weakened on the edge of him mind. He could barely hear what sounded like a whisper, seemingly trying to desperately reach him through the frail tendrils that flailed out at him.

He had completed a half circle of the village center when Soarin' abruptly rolled inward, wings forcing him downward. Shooting out from the half-circle, he pulled himself above the small river that traveled nearby, wings pushing him still as the Wonderbolt barely cleared through a series of low bridges. He exited from under the last bridge with a massive whoosh, multiple geysers of water erupting from the pressure in rapid sequence alongside each bridge. Supreme and smug confidence swelled within Soarin; he could feel his absolute control wailing relentlessly at his unnamed opponent, it's dull throbs offered no resistance.

Not finished yet, the blue pegasus zoomed around again, taking only a split second to eye a narrow alley way back into town. Perfect. The blue stallion pushed his wings, driving headlong into tight corners of Ponyvilles side streets, rolling left and right, dodging market stands and unaware ponies.

Soarin' almost laughed out loud. What he was doing was dangerous, turning Ponyville into his own obstacle course. But the stallion couldn't help it. Every random obstacle, every unexpected challenged; he had aced them all. In fact, he hadn't felt this way in a long time. Pure exhilaration pulsed throughout his body. It was the masochistic pleasure of pushing harder to the next level, mixed with the adrenaline that only a dare devil could appreciate. And I'm almost there. Almost there.

The alley abruptly ended, spitting Soarin' out into a small circle within the town, the center topped off with a statue of Princess Celestia, the ruler in a majestic pose on her rear hooves. Well, majestic to some perhaps. Soarin' grinned mischievously. S'cuse me Princess, the bold pegesus thought, rolling as he split between the ruler's two aft legs. Mentally, another hammer fell, Soarin's unwanted visitor throbbing ever fainter. Righting himself, the Wonderbolt guided himself close to the stone street, blinking past a narrow archway, and launching himself up once again above Ponyville.

Hovering somewhat limply, Soarin' gasped for breath, an awkward smile on his face between heaves. How do you like that huh? He boasted to his adversary. I'll always come out on top, no matter what! Trembles and twitches in his mind were the only response. Seconds passing, the Wonderbolt gathered himself, mentally and physically. Far below he could make out a bell tower near the center of town. Taking one last deep breath, Soarin' flared his wings, testing what strength they had left.

“That's it then. Time to end this.”


Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo drifted into Ponyville, lightly touching down on the outskirts of town. Though they had both heard what was curiously a sonic boom from across the village, neither one of them expected the sight they now beheld.

“What in the hay?” Scootaloo exclaimed.

Though silent, Rainbow Dash was equally dumbfounded.

The scene before them was anything but normal. Ponies all around the the river were soaked to the bone, while the banks appeared to have been flooded, fish scattered about.

“There wasn't a storm scheduled today,” Dash wondered aloud. “So how did this happen?”

Strolling onward towards town, both pegasi stared awkwardly about, still trying to decipher what had happened. Most ponies around them grumbled and griped, some silently muttering something about a “crazy pegasus”. There was one pony, however who was of the opposite opinion. Drenched to the bone, she was jumping about in large puddle that had collected on one of the bridges.

“Woohoo! Did you see that! He just flew down and then “FWOOOSH!” Water everywhere! Hee hee!”

Rainbow Dash smiled knowingly, calling out to the pink earth pony. “Hey! Pinkie!”

The party mare's ears perked up at the sound of her name, and in one swift motion jumped off the bridge and cannon balled into the river. The resulting tidal wave only served to further douse those Ponyville citizens who had foolishly remained.

Scootaloo looked around expectantly, but her companion simply waited, not at all surprised.

Then, as if on cue, a subtle boom could be heard from under the water. It was followed by an underwater explosion of streamers, confetti and a pink blur that shot out from the river in a shallow arc, landing right at the hooves of the two pegasi.

Scootaloo gaped in confusion. “How... wha...?”

Dash smirked. “Don't think about it too hard Scoots.”

Pinkie Pie suddenly popped up between the two, with no explanation as to what she had just done, or how she was suddenly dry.

“Hiya Dashie! Hiya Chicken-loo!”

Scootaloo groaned, about to retort to Pinkie's misuse of her name, when Rainbow cut her off.

“Pinkie, what in the hay happened here?”

“OhohohohOH, you would've loved it Dashie! First he did this huge dive, and then there was this big whoosh of wind in the center of town that you should totally check out 'cause it made this HUGE messymess, but it didn't last long because he went all spinny aroundaroundaround and around the roofs and THEN he just zoomzoomzoom zoomed under the bridges and splashed water EVERYWHERE!”

Pinkie smiled massively at the two pegasi, not once taking a breath.

Once again, Scootaloo gawked awkwardly for several seconds at the neon pink curiosity next to her. “What?”

Rainbow sighed, putting her hoof to her temple. “Pinkie. Who did all this?”

“Hrm? Why didn't you just say so silly! It was this really speedy blue pegasus with a dark blue mane. Somepony I've... never... met... before.” Pinkie's eyes suddenly went wide in realization. “Omigosh!” She gasped in exaggeration. “I gotta get ready!”

Not skipping a beat, the party mare bounded off into town.

“Blue pegasus? That doesn't really narrow it down too much.” Scootaloo speculated. “Make any sense to you?”

“Maybe...” Rainbow Dash started to say, as the two pegasi strode side by side into town. Blue pegasus, blue mane, and a sonic boom? But that could only mean...

“Whoa! Dash, check it out!”

Pulled from her thoughts, the stunt mare took in the scene before her. The center of Ponyville was completely trashed. Papers littered the ground, complementing the numerous upturned markets stalls and stands, their products spilled out into the street. Much like before, various ponies milled about angrily, once again citing an “insane flyer”.

“By the Archons!” Rainbow Dash swore silently. “Pinkie wasn't kidding.”

“This place looks like it was hit by a twister.” The younger mare commented.

“Yeah. Too bad it doesn't really help us right now.”

“Help us? Help us what?”

Rainbow jumped into the air hover lightly just above the rooftops, her teenage friend joining her. “Find the Wonderbolt, whoever he is.”

“How can you be sure?” Scootaloo questioned, watching as Dash scanned the sky around Ponyville. “Besides, if he did all this, how in the hay are we supposed to fin-”

Gasps and angry heckles from below cut off the copper mare.

“There he is again! Just what in the hay is trying to do!?”

“Somepony needs to stop that maniac!”

“What?! Again?!”

Looking down, both pegasi found a throng of incensed ponies, their eyes skyward. Rainbow Dash suddenly spun around, craning her head upward. There, among the clouds, was a light blue pegasus.

“There!” Dash exclaimed, Scootaloo following her gaze toward the sky.

“Him? Are you sure? He's just hovering there.”

As if on cue, light blue stallion suddenly tore into a dangerously steep dive. He was gaining a tremendous amount of speed, and was heading straight into the center of Ponyville.

“What in the hay?!” Scootaloo shouted in astonishment. “Dash he's going way too fast! If he keeps going like that...” The copper mare trailed off, a worried look on her face.

He won't be able to pull up in time. “Come on!” Rainbow bellowed, speeding off toward a low lying cloud.

Scootaloo raced after the prismatic mare. “What? What are we doing?”

“Gather as many of these nearby clouds as quickly as possible and bring them here! Hurry!”

Scootaloo didn't need to be told twice. Speeding off, she began rounding up the surrounding clouds. Racing off herself, Dash did the same, all the while keeping the rocketing pegasus in her field of vision.

Archons help me, I hope we can do this in time.


Soarin' dove toward the Ponyville bell tower, limbs outstretched and wings beating furiously. This was it. He was finally going to be rid of whatever parasite was eating away at him, plaguing him with old memories, distorted emotions, and vague messages. Then he would be back. Back to the successful daredevil stallion that lit up Equestria's skies. He just had to focus, in this one final stunt.

The wind howled in his ears as wisps of cloud blurred past him. Soarin' could feel his speed reach terminal velocity. He snapped his wings close to his body, letting gravity take over. The pegasus was locked in on his course. There was no going back. In just a few seconds, it would all be over.

Again time seemed to slow. An amethyst hue crept along the edge of his vision; his opponent seemed to be drawing him in. It was an act of desperation, Soarin' could tell. Do your worst, he mentally steeled himself. There would not be an upset to his victory. With every beat of his heart his vision continued to fill with the sickly purple of the Twin Storms. But instead of the fury and malevolence that had dogged him before, instead he felt the return of the aura of an ally, again like somepony was reaching out to help him, strengthen him. The Wonderbolt grimaced, trying to shut out what felt like a trap. He tried to focus on the bell tower, pushing himself with his wings once again, trying to cling to the reality of their motion. But it was no avail. The aura seemed to be directing his mind, commanding with a military like authority. In a final throb, his vision obscured by the echo of the Twin Storms, the world around him melted away, and Soarin' entered the confines of his own mind. He stood for a second, as the purple haze around him cleared, revealing the landscape around the stallion. It was a battlefield, the sky bounded by the distant raging of the Twin Storms, and the earth with fresh wounds from the fighting of combatants that bled across the landscape. Strangely enough, it seemed as if the fighting had been between two pegasi, the marks from ancient weapons laying claim to the carnage of the world around him.

He should have felt alarmed, worried, or even angry. But all Soarin' felt at that moment in time was a very strange calm. Even as he moved forward, he could still feel his body in flight. In the distance the light blue stallion could make out the hazy aura from before. As he got closer, he could feel the pitiful heaves and throbs of his opponent, as if it knew that his very approach, both on hoof and in flight, would be its end. Soarin' smirked. “Good to know I do a thorough job. Still doesn't explain why it brought me here though.”

As he walked closer, the aura began to recede and fade. By the time Soarin' had reached it, the haze had disappeared entirely. But it was what it revealed that stopped Soarin' in his tracks. Before the Wonderbolt was the collapsed skeletal remains of a pegasus, slightly larger than himself. What? Confusion bounded about Soarin's mind. This is what's been messing with my head all this time? The skeleton seemed ancient, upon its skull was an ancient battle helm of sorts, complemented by a pair of dual daggers that hung limply on the skeletal forelimbs.

“Soarin'.”

The Wonderbolt froze. It was the same voice as before, clearer now, stronger, commanding even. What scared him the most though, was from where it had come from. Soarin's eyes locked with the skeleton before him. The skull had suddenly turned to face him, meeting his gaze with its eyeless sockets.

“W-what in depths of Tartarus...” He mumbled in fear.

Suddenly, the ethereal aura returned, radiating outward from the dead pegasus. It slowly began to wrap around the body of the skeleton, lively features coming into form. As it did so, Soarin' felt a renewed clarity in the presence before him. Authority. Respect. Strength. Trust. Sadness. He not only felt these qualities in the consciousness around him, he felt them within himself. It was as if there was connection between himself and the ghost before him that went beyond pegasi kinship. By now the specter had come to represent the deceased pegasus. The ghost's eyes shot open, zeroing right on the Wonderbolt.

Soarin' quivered ever so slightly. He knew who this pegasus was, but it was the very last thing he would have expected to encounter. Slowly, years of military training involuntarily snapped him to attention.

Commander Hurricane 'stood up', leaving the bony skeleton behind. Embodied by the purple aura, the form of the stallion before Soarin' constantly seemed as if it were caught in the wind, wisps flickering at the edge of its body like an open flame. Garbed in full combat attire, the military pegasi regarded Soarin' with a steely gaze.

“Why do you delay? Why do you resist?” Commander Hurricane questioned.

“I...w-what?” Soarin' replied, not sure how he had found the courage to speak.

“Old scars reopened and a broken blade.” The military pegasus stared off behind Soarin', seemingly lost in thought. “It took three united to cast him down. Three there are now, but two lay bleeding, one unguarded, open to harm. He will not be struck down by a blunted edge.” The spectral stallion regarded him once more, a fierce intensity in his eyes. “Why do you delay?”

“I don't even know what the hay is going on!” Soarin' exclaimed, frustration suddenly outweighing his fear. “What do I have to stop? Who are the other two?”

Commander Hurricane squinted for a moment at the Wonderbolt. Then without an indication, the spirit took a step forward, raising a single bladed hoof. Soarin' twitched away ever so slightly, but the presence before him compelled him to stay, to wait. Commander Hurricane paused for a moment, before suddenly thrusting the blade into Soarin's forehead.

Soarin' flinched, but there was no pain. The ancient pegasi retracted his weapon. Meeting Soarin's eyes with a forlorn look, Commander Hurricane gestured to his right. On the battlefield that was Soarin's mind, new, but ancient memories manifested themselves in a haze. Scores of military pegasi filled the expanse of a raging storm, the most violent Soarin' had ever seen. They battled against other pegasi, dragons, and what appeared to be storm clouds given pegasi form, lightning bolts forming their wings and the blades that adorned their forearms. Out of the massive fray above him, Soarin' made out three prominent pegasi. Commander Hurricane flew in the center, flanked by two others that Soarin' didn't recognize. They forced their way through the battlesky, flying a formation that reminded Soarin' of one of the Wonderbolts more aggressive routines. Though their foes attempted to strike the trio, an unexplainable force protected them. Every blow Commander Hurricane and his companions wielded seemed to be magnified, violent bursts of lightning and vortexes assaulting their enemies. Soarin' could feel it; it was like an echo, just a ripple that he felt in his blood. But it wasn't magic. Soarin' knew what unicorn magic felt like, rather, this was unique, something that he could feel pulling within him.

The three pegasi blasted their way through all opposition, making headway toward the heart of the storm. The landscape around Soarin' and Commander Hurricane shifted, suspended them near the epicenter. Immediately the trio of pegasi blazed past them, swatting down their foes with ease as they finally reached their destination. Turning around, the Wonderbolt beheld what Commander Hurricane was trying to show him. Tornadoes raged without restriction around the center of the storm, but they seemed to have purpose, direction, even malice. Commander Hurricane and his allies, protected by their barrier, pushed through the barricade of twisters and lightning, coming finally to their singular objective.

Soarin' turned to Commander Hurricane. “Is this-” He started to question, but the ghost was lost in a seething stare.

Turning back to the center of the storm, Soarin' was bombarded by a massive wave of power. It wasn't magic, but its malevolent nature told him that it controlled everything that was happening around them. His eyes met a singular pegasi, hovering at the center of the swirling tempest, lightning arching from his wings while vortexes formed at his hooves. For a split second Soarin' swore his eyes met the purple hued eyes of this magnified pegasi, and at that very moment a single word entered his mind. Archon.

The power continued to emanate from the center of the storm, battering Soarin's already feeble mind. He could feel what little strength he had being sucked away. Off in the distance, Commander Hurricane and his companions split apart at high speed, swirling around their target in battle. Blades met armor while lightning and gale winds passed between the three heroes and their foe. Feral words were shouted among the combatants, but Soarin' couldn't hear them, consciousness starting to slip away. Commander Hurricane turned to him, a foreboding look on his face.

“You must not allow this to come to pass.”

All sight was gone. All Soarin' could feel was the sudden abrupt tug on his body.

“Find the others. Heal your wounds.”

The Wonderbolt's wings suddenly erupted in pain.

“Preserve the legacy.”

Soarin's eyes suddenly shot open, greeting him with the fast approaching Ponyville. He gasped for breath, and instead caught the wind in his mouth. His wings beat erratically, as he moved at top speed. Unfortunately, the Wonderbolt's mind had taken one too many precious seconds to catch up. The Ponyville bell tower was now much closer, the large instrument swaying back and forth.

Oh, buck.

Soarin' fought against his own body, trying to out do the pain one last time. But his body rejected him. Cramps and spasms wracked his wings. Come on, come on! He mentally chastised himself. He continued to force his wings, trying desperately to time his move, to split right by the swaying bell. Instead he was on a collision course with tower.


“Hurry Scoots!” Rainbow Dash yelled, as she quickly bundled together a mass of clouds.

The copper mare sped over to her friend, pushing along another clump of white cloud.

“Rainbow Dash! Look!”

Dash turned toward the sky where the light blue pegasus had suddenly lost all control, plummeting at high speed toward the bell tower.

“Grab a hold here!” Rainbow quickly point to one side of the now sizable cloud. Moving along astride of the younger pegasus, Rainbow began to push. “Push as hard as you can, and follow my lead!”

It was agonizingly slow at first, but the two pegasi began to push the massive cloud toward the bell tower. The two beat their wings as hard as they could, rapidly gaining speed.

Scootaloo called out over the blur of wind to the stunt mare. “Dash, we're not going to make it!”

Rainbow jerked her head up toward the falling pegasus. “Yes we are! Push harder!” She yelled, grimacing as her already tired wings started to burn. We have to.

The gap between them and the tower was very small now. But it would be close. Very, very close. Come on, come on, COME ON! Rainbow screamed in her mind, thrusting her head downward and pushing as hard as she could.

Ch. 5: Cryptic Answers and Patching Wounds

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Legacy of the Pegasi:

Chapter 5: Cryptic Answers and Patching Wounds

Silver Wings trotted with purpose through his cloud home, slight excitement in his step. After years of careful research, searching, persuasion and preparation, it was finally time. Grinning smugly to himself, he made his way to his bedroom, stopping in front of a large double door closet. Thrusting the doors open, Silver parted the various garments that hung within, reaching toward the very back. Ah, there it is. It's been longer than I realized, he thought, retrieving an old, and simple black hooded cloak. Many memories briefly flashed through the pegasus' mind as he regarded the finely woven material. Though it appeared basic, Silver had gone through much to earn the garment. But it was worth it. And will be again, shortly. Yet, despite its importance, the cloak was incomplete. Another vital piece was required to fully embody who the stallion really was, what his mission was and what he was a part of.

“Silver?”

Awakened from his reverie, Silver Wings turned toward the voice of his friend.. “In my room Windswept”.

Windswept soon appeared in the doorway, clothed in similar but insignificant cloak, his not of the same affiliation as Silver's. His hood rested limply behind his head, exposing the curious face that adorned the pegasus.

“I came as soon as I got your message. And I got the...” The pegasus gestured awkwardly at the garment he wore, “attire you specified, thought I'm still a little lost here.”

Silver smiled slightly, walking casually toward his bed stand as he pulled the midnight cloak around himself. “Don't worry my friend, all will be revealed shortly.” Silver spoke lightly. His back turned to his fellow pegasi, Silver proceeded to open a small black wooden case atop his nightstand. His gaze rested on a metallic cloak clasp. Much like its counterpart, the clasp was simple in design and utility, yet its symbolism held a far greater meaning. It consisted of a pair of pegasi wings, facing outward, and linking together where the body would have been, joining the cloak together. Additionally the wings bore a distinct pattern. Instead of feathers and some whimsical color, the wings were made of lightning bolts, both colored a violently deep amethyst that seemed to shift in the light.

Raising the symbol to his eyes, Silver Wings regarded the device with care, letting the light glint off its polished surface.

“I do have something important to ask you though, Windswept,” the gray pegasus remarked casually, still turned from his friend.

“What's that?”

Silver turned to face his fellow compatriot, affixing the clasp to his cloak, his appearance now complete. “Are you truly committed to our cause?”

Windswept paused for a moment, the query taking him by surprise. But it was only momentary. “Yes. Yes I am.” The young stallion replied resolutely. “Anything to see the legacy fulfilled.”

Silver Wings smiled. “Good to hear. I promise you won't be disappointed.” Walking past his friend, Silver made for the exit of his home. “We best be off then, there is no time to delay, not with the discovery we've made.”

Windswept trotted alongside his friend, confusion once again on his face. “This is what you spoke of before isn't it?”

Silver Wings nodded, as both pegasi stopped at the edge of his home, the vast expanse of the Equestrian horizon stretched out before them. Twilight was before them, the sun's rays retreating over the horizon as Luna's moon rose to take its place. Taking a moment to raise his hood, Silver took to the sky, his ally flying up astride him a moment later.

Again Windswept probed his vague friend, slight annoyance in his voice. “Can't you tell me what it is? We've been friends for a long time Silver, you can trust me. I think it's only fair; I'm putting a lot of faith in you right now on not a lot of information.”

Silver simply stared ahead, but his eyes betrayed the thoughts to his friend's questions. After several moments, the elder pegasus replied.

“The truth is Winds, even if I told you, you wouldn't believe me. I think it will make more sense when you see it for yourself.” A thoughtful expression overtook the pegasus, as he glanced down at the winged clasp that adorned his cloak. “It did for the rest of us...”

Windswept sighed, resigned to his friend's cryptic answers. “Fine. But can't you tell me something? Like where we're going?”

Silver Wings grinned. “That I can my friend, that I can. You've earned that much. Tell me; have you ever heard of the Everfree Forest?”


Beep. Beep. Beep.

Soarin's ears twitched, slowly coming around to the solitary sound around him.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

Again they twitched, this time more violently. This was a familiar sound, a far too familiar one. Consciousness slowly began surface, as the Wonderbolt's mind sluggishly began to reform.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

The sound continued to drone in his ears, a slow, annoyed groan erupting from the pegasus' lips. His eyes began to flutter haphazardly, hoping that they would deny what his ears had already told him.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

Soarin' opened his eyes. “Buck. Not this place again.”

He was in the hospital. Seated in a basic steel frame bed, Soarin' groaned again, slowly pushing himself upright, as he took in the small room around him. A portion of the walls were a light blue, bordered by wooden molding, the rest of which was an earthen brown. Above him the ceiling maintained a forest green, and on the opposite end, the floor sported a two tone color of off white and gray tiles. A white curtain separated the pegasus from what he assumed where other patients. Add in the characteristically sterile smell that wafted about the room, and you got the typical hospital recovery room.

Soarin' gave a frustrated snort. “Well, they've got all the bases covered. This place is a complete bore.” Flopping painfully back onto the pillows behind him, Soarin' stared ahead glumly. The only thing that stood out was an indentation on the wall across from his bed. It appeared as if somepony had repeatedly thrown a round object against the wall, dark scuffs and peeling wallpaper providing the evidence.

The stallion sighed again. Points to you hospital. Way to have some character. He thought sarcastically.

Resigned to the inevitable boredom ahead of him, Soarin' finally took a detailed look at his own body. Small bandages adorned his hooves and forelegs, while the rest of his body remained untouched. Shifting slightly, Soarin' noted the discomfort near his wings. It was only when he tried to outstretch his feathered appendages when sharp spasms ran down his back. Grunting against the pain, the stallion twisted his head around. Both his wings were heavily bandaged and padded, particularly around base by his back. “Oh. Yeah. How could I forget.” He said out loud to himself, recent events rushing back to the forefront of his mind.

But before Soarin' could even begin to decipher all that had transpired, a young orange mare with a violet mane popped her head into the doorway.

“Hey! You're awake!” The filly shouted excitedly.

“Uh, yeah, and I was-” Soarin' started, but was cut off by the animated pegasus.

“Hey, Rainbow Dash! He's awake!”

Rainbow Dash?

Less than a second later, the prismatic mare joined her younger friend, both bursting into the room.

Both Soarin' and Rainbow Dash opened their mouths to speak, and likewise caught themselves when they made eye contact.

For a split second Soarin' stared at the mare in front of him, a sudden realization striking his mind. It was gone. Completely gone. He could feel the strength pouring out from Rainbow, and likewise he could feel something similar pour out from himself, each exchanging with the other. Wait. What? I mean... Wow.

Despite this revelation, both pegasi managed to recover, Soarin' coughing awkwardly, while Rainbow Dash seemed to be scolding herself mentally, despite the red hue on her face.

Oblivious to the other two, Scootaloo, jumped in, siding up alongside the bedridden pegasus. “Hey, how are you feeling? You're a Wonderbolt right?”

Sufficiently composed for a stallion in a hospital bed, Soarin' turned to the younger filly. “Um, I'm good I think. And yeah, I'm Soarin'. And you are...?”

“I'm Scootaloo! And this here is-”

“Rainbow Dash.” The stunt mare cut in, flashing a cocky grin. “But then you already knew that didn't you?”

Soarin' chuckled. “Yeah, I guess so. Kinda hard to forget about the rainbow mare who broke the sound barrier.”

Dash grinned at the compliment. It had been several years since the Best Young Flier Competition, where she had first met Soarin', and the rest of the Wonderbolts, firsthoof. Though more acquaintances than friends, Rainbow knew the stallion enough not to be too starstruck. Likewise, Soarin' was glad to have a fan that didn't immediately gush all over him.

“Speaking of high velocity pegasi”, Rainbow started, her tone changing suddenly. “What in the hay where you thinking?”

“Uh, yeah. About that...”

“WHERE IS HE?!” A very characteristic voice boomed through the hospital.

Dash and Scootaloo seemed mildly alarmed, but it was Soarin' who visibly cringed, dread suddenly surging through him. Ah, crap.

Seconds later a yellow pegasus with a fiery orange mane bolted into the room. To say the mare was mad was an understatement. Soarin' mentally slapped himself, meeting his Captain's furious eyes. Spitfire didn't get her name from her aerobatic skill alone, something Soarin' knew all too well.

Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo simply stared between the two Wonderbolts, both acutely aware of the thick tension that suddenly filled the room. Dash had to resist the urge to not to stare at the famed mare standing just a few hooves away from her.

“What in the hay Soarin'?! Are you out of your mind? I thought I told you not to hurt yourself!”

“Spitfire, I-”

“You know I didn't entirely believe you when you said you'd be okay. But I let it go because I figured you could handle it. But like this?! Do you have any idea what you did?” An incredulous look spread across the female Wonderbolt's face. “Half of the apple orchard outside town looks like it's been hit by a tornado!”

Rainbow Dash grimaced slightly. Ho boy. AJ's not gonna be happy about that...

“Well, I didn't mean-”

“And that's only the half of it! Ponyville proper is a mess!” Spitfire gestured violently out the window toward the rest of the town.

Soarin' took the second to glance out the window for the first time. The image before him left feelings of pride, embarrassment and shame all at once. Wow. I mean. Wow. Didn't think I could do that... The stallion thought in a sort of morbid amusement. However, it was a fleeting thought. Spitfire's eyes still bored into the stallion with fiery precision.

“Yeah. You did all that. But believe me it gets better!” The yellow pegasus mocked in fake enthusiasm. “The town is so messed up that the Mayor came to me personally. How gracious do you think she was when she heard that one of the Wonderbolts decided to level half the town?”

Renewed shame once again coursed through Soarin'. “Wait. Don't tell me that she-”

Spitfire simply eyed the blue pegasus with a steely gaze. “Until further notice, the show's been canceled.”

“WHAT!” Rainbow Dash exploded, leaping into the air in agitation. “You can't be serious!? Please tell me you're not serious!”

“No one wants to go to a show when their town has been practically bombarded. Much less by one of members that was supposed to be in it in the first place.” Spitfire replied flatly.

Silence passed among the assembled pegasi. Two were in psuedo shock over the loss of seeing their favorite performers, another furious with what had transpired, and the last, who now found himself all the more broken on the inside as he was on the outside.

“Well, Soarin'? What do you have to say for yourself?”

Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo were mute once more. Scootaloo looked more unsure than anything, still preoccupied with loss of the airshow, while it tore Dash apart to see two ponies that she admired most, and two best friends, at odds.

Soarin' hung his head. This wasn't how it was supposed to happen. He had wanted to rid himself from whatever had plagued him all those past weeks, and he had known exactly what to do. Push himself, fight himself, and run himself ragged in the release of the sky. But it had gone too far. And he hadn't even realized it. Even when I pull myself together and finally figure out what's going on, it still manages to screw up the rest of my life.

Soarin' slowly rose his head, finally meeting his oldest friend's eyes. He could have been angry, screamed out all his frustrations and justifications for what he had done. To lash out with just a bit of what had tormented him for so many weeks. To make her feel the pain from his past that had suddenly surfaced and torn him from the inside out. But he couldn't do it. Not when she was right. Not when she was his friend.

“I'm sorry Spitfire.” The words felt weightless as they left the stallion's mouth. “I didn't mean to go that far. But... it was eating away at me. It has been... for weeks now.” Soarin' admitted painfully, ducking away once again from his Captain's eyes. “I know it doesn't make any sense, and I know it's not an excuse, but I just can't explain it. I thought I was just in a slump, thinking about... them.” Soarin' trailed off slightly, hazy images of his parents coming to mind. “But it was more than that. Like... like something was pushing me, fighting me to think about it.” Soarin's mind suddenly raced back to the war torn landscape within his mind, the spectral image of Commander Hurricane rising from his barren skeleton.

Though Soarin' didn't notice it, Rainbow Dash seemed to shift uncomfortably in place as he continued to talk.

“So I did the only thing I knew.” The stallion turn to face the yellow mare once more, an apologetic yet resolute look on his face. “I flew. And I fought it back. And I won. “But...” The Wonderbolt swallowed hard, tasting his failure. “I still screwed it up. I let the team down. I let you down. I'm sorry.”

Several seconds passed before Spitfire let out a sigh. She seemed more tired now than anything. Her expression had softened, but still held a hint of frustration. “I don't really know what to say to that Soarin'.” The mare said in pained resignation, wishing the stallion could have given her more, something she could understand.

Soarin' mutely nodded.

“Look, I need to take a walk, think things through.” She said in annoyed voice, more at the situation than at her friend. “We'll talk later.”

Soarin' nodded glumly again, as Spitfire strode out of the room.

“Wait, Spitfire!” Rainbow Dash called out, but the Wonderbolt Captain had already left.

Immediately Dash made a move for the door, a determined look on her face.

“Where are you going Dash?” Scootaloo said, trotting ahead of the elder pegasus.

“To get Spitfire back over here. You may have screwed up,” Rainbow turned to Soarin, “but nopony walks out on their friend after talking like that.”

“Uh, Dash, maybe we should just let Spitfire go-?”

“No way.”

“No, she's right, Rainbow.” Soarin' cut in. “And so is Spitfire.” Even if I had to do what I did. I just don't know how I could ever explain it to her. Commander Hurricane's ghost inside my head? Wounds? An... Archon? Soarin' shivered, remembering the mythic being's otherworldly eyes. She'd never believe me.

Rainbow still looked unsure.

“Hey, I'll go talk to her.” Scootaloo quipped, moving toward the door. “I think I might be better at this sort of thing.”

Rainbow looked surprised. “Hey! What's that supposed to mean?” But Scootaloo had already left.

Rainbow Dash huffed in annoyance, turning back toward the center of the room. She was greeted by Soarin' staring at her.

Rainbow shifted awkwardly, trying to ignore the stallion's gaze. It had been weird enough the first time when she arrived, and even more so when Soarin' had mentioned it in the back of his mind. But she didn't want to deal with that right now. It wasn't the time, and too much had already happened.

“So... so are you doing alright?” She asked lightly, trying to brighten the situation up.

Soarin' blinked. He hadn't realized he was staring the same way he had earlier when Dash had first walked in.

“Uh, yeah, I guess. All things considered.” Soarin' twisted about gingerly, eying his wrapped wings.

Rainbow seated herself next to Soarin's bed. “Ah yeah. Sorry we weren't able to make your rescue any softer. Kinda hard to do at high speed.”

“So that's how I got here. I was wondering what happened after I blacked out.”

“Yep. Me and the squirt pulled a bunch of clouds together at the last minute. Pretty impressive if I do say so myself.”

“Squirt?”

“Oh yeah. Forgot. She's the same filly who was in her a minute ago, Scootaloo.”

“Ah.”

An uncomfortable silence settled between the two pegasi, both drawn back to thoughts of the strange comfort that seemed to emanate between them.

Suddenly, Rainbow fluttered into the air, trying in vain to hide the fluster about her face. “Hey, ah, I'm going to go, go find the Mayor. Try to sort this out.”

“Uh, y-yeah, sure.” Soarin' looked up at the mare in slight confusion.

“Hey, we can hang out sometime or, uh, something.” Rainbow seemed to have a hard time string her words together. “You know, when you get out.”

“Sure, sounds good.”

“Right, ah, guess I'll catch ya later. Feel better and all.” Rainbow said finally, before jetting out the nearby window.

Silence once again filled the room as Soarin' simply slumped back in his bed, closing his eyes. He tried to process all that had happened the past few days. Ghost induced mental condition. Check. Flying himself ragged. Check. Getting chewed out by his best friend. Check. And now some weird connection to Rainbow? Check. And an apparent doomsday with barely anything to go on to top it off. Perfect.

Just perfect.

Ch. 6: Wayward Friends and Salvaged Hopes

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Legacy of the Pegasi:

Chapter 6: Wayward Friends and Salvaged Hopes

Scootaloo dashed out of the hospital, grasping her trusty scooter. Putting wheels to the dusty dirt road, the pegasus blazed into the heart of Ponyville, a dust cloud in her wake. While she had learned to fly quite some time ago, Scootaloo found she still preferred the intensity of racing along the ground, relishing in dodging the ruts, rocks, ponies and other obstacles that the sky simply didn't have. That, and she had been racing on her scooter for so long, it simply felt like second nature to weave her way about Ponyville, rather than a leisurely flight in the sparsely populated skies above the town.

Banking and skidding, the filly pushed herself along into the center of town, as she glanced about, trying to make out the fiery red mane of the Wonderbolt Captain. Com'on Spitfire, where'd you go? Scootaloo thought.

Screeching to a halt next to one of Ponyville's many fountains, the teenaged pegasus dismounted her scooter. She attempted to scan the center of the village, but Soarin' had done a very thorough job. Ponies still milled about, some drenched from river water, others preoccupied with cleaning up the various stalls and stands that had spilled about the marketplace. The result was chaotic mass of grumbling ponies that filled the normally sleepy village, making it nearly impossible to spot the yellow stunt mare from the ground.

Scootaloo smirked, outstretching her wings. “To the air it is then.” She muttered to herself, lifting herself above the town square. Hovering in place, Scootaloo resumed her search. Several ponies below jerked in fright at the sight of the airborne filly, suddenly all to aware of what a determined pegasus could do. A few seconds later, the copper filly let loose a wordless cheer. There she is! Scootaloo beamed, spotting the Wonderbolt just across the bridge outside Ponyville.

Diving toward the ground, Scootaloo jumped on her scooter once more, briefly revving her wings before blasting forward. Stallion and mare alike dove from the filly's path, another pegasus now adding to their grief on the ground.

Weaving through the ever shifting obstacle course, Scootaloo tried her best to keep the ambling Wonderbolt in sight. Closing fast, the teenaged filly passed through the town square, quickly closing the distance with her target. Nearing the edge of town, Scootaloo yelled out to the Wonderbolt Captain.

“Spitfire! Hey, Spitfire!”

Spitfire's ears twitched slightly, as she slowed her gait.

Moving at high speed, Scootaloo continued to call out to the yellow mare. “Hey, wait up!” Unfortunately, the filly didn't realize that she was coming in just a little too fast.

Turning around to the voice behind her, Spitfire only had a split second to register the speed demon filly barreling down the dirt road toward her. “What in the-”

Spitfire's look of surprise suddenly transferred to the copper filly. Ah, horseapples. Scootaloo thought before shouting out. “Look out!”

With only a second to act, Spitfire launched into the air, barely clearing the speeding pegasus below her. No longer on a collision course with the fiery mare, Scootaloo now found herself on track to collide with a nearby park bench. With no time to dodge and too little space to slow to a stop, the filly did the only thing she could. At the last possible second she flapped her wings in one solid motion while pulling hard up on her scooter's handle bars. Her two wheeled friend lifted into the air, while Scootaloo expertly twisted the scooter about, landing the base of her ride along the bench, riding out the remainder of her momentum in a skillful grind.

A second later she dropped from the bench, deftly regaining her balance as she brought herself to a stop a short distance away. Whew. Not too bad if I do say so myself. The young filly complimented herself.

Clapping hooves sounded behind the copper mare. Remembering Spitfire, Scootaloo, turned to see the Wonderbolt on the ground once more, eying the younger pegasus curiously as she continued to clap.

“Not bad kid. Never seen somepony pull a move like that on a scooter before.”

Scootaloo beamed. “Thanks! I've been riding forever; it's kinda my thing.”

Spitfire smiled. “That I can see. But if you're trying to get somepony's attention, I'd advise against running them over.”

Scootaloo chuckled nervously. “Uh, yeah. Sorry about that.” Realization dawned upon the filly as she remembered the reason she had tracked down the mare in front of her in the first place. “Spitfire!” She suddenly shouted, as if the previous exchange hadn't occurred.

Spitfire flinched slightly at the abrupt outburst. “Uh... yeah? I'm right here you know.”

Scootaloo looked slightly embarrassed. “Er, right. Sorry. But I need to talk to you!”

The Wonderbolt Captain sighed. “Look kid... I mean... what was you're name again?”

The young mare straightened up, brandishing her best Rainbow Dash grin and pose, Scootaloo style. “I'm Scootaloo!”

Spitfire seemed to take no notice. “Right. Scootaloo. Look, now's not the best time, if you get my drift. I meant it when I said I needed to take a walk.”

Scootaloo simply nodded obliviously, not at all picking up on what Spitfire was getting at.

An annoyed look spread across the Wonderbolt's face. “You know. To think.”

Scootaloo remained unfazed. “Right!”

Spitfire deadpanned, bringing a hoof to her face. “By myself.”

“Oh.” Realization spread across the filly's face as she fully understood what elder pegasus was getting at. “Right, well I can't let you do that.” The copper mare said resolutely, stepping down from her scooter with an air of authority.

Spitfire raised an eyebrow. She hadn't expected that. “Um. Wait. What?”

“Well, yeah.” Scootaloo said, as if it should have been obvious. “Did you think we were going to let you go after all that?

A suspicious look over came the stunt mare. “I assume you're talking about what happened at the hospital.”

Scootaloo nodded again.

“Well sorry kiddo, but this isn't up for discussion.” Spitfire said flatly, striding past the younger pegasus. “The show's canceled.”

Scootaloo laughed lightly. “Pfft. Not that. We're talking about bigger stuff here than some airshow.”

Spitfire stopped, turning around to stare at the filly quizzically. “What are you talking about?”

“I'm talking about you and Soarin'!” Scootaloo exclaimed.

Spitfire sighed again, once more trying to sidestep the filly. “Okay, this is really not up for discussion.”

Undeterred Scootaloo trotted up alongside the elder pegasus. “You really laid into the guy back there, you know.”

Spitfire winced. She really, really didn't want to have this discussion. It had pained her enough to see Soarin' hurt so badly; he'd nearly scared her half to death. But she couldn't deny that she had been frustrated with the stallion. And why shouldn't she have been angry? The Wonderbolts were down one show in Ponyville, not too mention the media fallout that would stick in everypony's minds when they heard about Soarin's escapade. That fact of the matter was, Soarin' had screwed up big, and let down the team.

Pure and simple. Spitfire thought, trying to convince herself. Right?

Turing to the copper teenager, the Wonderbolt Captain tried her best to justify her actions. “Listen kid, the fact of the matter is, Soarin' messed up. And now the rest of the team is paying the price.” The words felt foreign as Spitfire spoke them, like somepony else had told her to say them.

Scootaloo smirked. “Ah, com'on Spitfire, is what Soarin' did really all that bad?” She tried to say lightly, not entirely believing herself.

Spitfire stopped, stared at the teenager, back at Ponyville, then back to the filly, a flat look on her face.

Scootaloo took a quick glance back at Ponyville. “Okay, so maybe it was pretty bad-”

“I rest my case.” Spitfire said in a tone of finality, lengthening her stride as she tried to outpace Scootaloo.

“Okay, so what?” The filly shouted, once again keeping pace with the Wonderbolt. “So what if he screwed up?”

“The Wonderbolts are a team, Scootaloo.” Spitfire said, still walking ahead . “A group of pegasi that are working together toward a common goal. And that goal is something that's bigger than any one pony. Bigger than Soarin' and bigger than me. So maybe you'll understand that when one pony decides their actions are more important than the rest, they jeopardize that goal.” Spitfire finished, feeling like she'd made more of a speech than a rebuttal. That, and there was that foul taste in her mouth again.

“Huh.” Scootaloo said thoughtfully, stopping for a moment. “That's a really backward way of looking at it.”

Spitfire stopped once more, taken aback by the filly's words. “What do you mean?” She asked, walking back toward the copper pegasus, genuine curiosity in her voice.

“Well, maybe it's just how I see it, but a team is supposed to be different than that.”

“Like how?”

“Well, when I was a little filly, I was kinda on a team, the Cutie Mark Crusaders.”

A bemused smile crept onto Spitfire's face.

“Don't laugh.” Scootaloo said sharply. “Anyway, it was me, Apple Bloom, and Sweetie Bell, the three of us trying to get our marks. For the longest time, we'd try a million different things to figure out what we were good at. And that involved us doing the same thing together. Sometimes...” An amused look overcame the filly. “Okay, so most of the time, things didn't go according to plan. A lot of times it was because one of us couldn't do the same thing as the other two. I've always been the athletic one of the group, and my friends often times couldn't keep up. But when they failed, or when I did, we didn't chew each other out.”

Scootaloo took a minute, thinking carefully about what to say next, Spitfire waiting patiently.

“You mentioned the Wonderbolts are bigger than any one pony. Well the CMC was the same thing. We had a goal, that we were all a part of it. But that's what made it great. It kept us together and pulled us up when any one pony failed.”

Scootaloo's words cut like a knife, the harsh realization hitting Spitfire. Shame poured right through the wound.

“Rainbow Dash taught me a lot about friendship. Soarin's your friend, isn't he?” Scootaloo challenged the older mare.

Yes. My best...friend. Spitfire thought, shame still awash within her. “Yes.” She responded quietly, eyes downcast.

“Because Dash taught me that friends are, and should be the most loyal ponies you have in your life. The ones that stick by you when you fall.”

Spitfire stood in silence, now all too aware of her own mistake. Way to go Spitfire. All these years I've been Captain of the Wonderbolts and I've forgotten what it means to be on a team. And how to be a good friend. And especially after all Soarin's been going through... She winced again a that last thought.

Taking a deep breath, the Wonderbolt Captain turned to the youger pegasus next to her. “After all this time, I guess I forgot that I should have been a friend first, and Captain second. I'm the one who really screwed up, eh?” The Wonderbolt asked lightly.

“Nah.” Scootaloo said off hoof, folding her scooter upon her back as she started toward Ponyville, Spitfire falling in alongside her. “If Soarin's your best friend, fixing this will be a piece of cake.”

By the Archons I hope so. Spitfire thought worriedly, thinking back to her tirade at the hospital.

“Hey, no worries.” Scootaloo said, noting the frown on the Wonderbolt Captain. “Besides, you've got me and Dash to back you up.”

The stunt mare grinned. “Thanks. Sounds like you two make quite the team.”

Scootaloo smiled at the compliment. “I'd like to think so. She's the one who taught me how to fly after all. Speaking of which...” the teenaged filly trailed off, “Rainbow Dash wants to be a Wonderbolt. Really bad.”

A few seconds passed in silence.

“Hint. Hint.” The younger pegasus quipped in pseudo annoyance.

Spitfire laughed. “Don't worry Scootaloo, we've known about Rainbow Dash for a while, and believe me, the Wonderbolts are taking a very serious interest in her.”

“Good.” Scootaloo replied. “'Cause RD wanted to show off some of her stuff at the show, and we know that's outta the picture.”

“Hmm.” Spitfire put a hoof to her chin.

The teenaged pegasus' eyes perked up. “What are you thinking?” She asked excitedly.

“Well, the rest of the Wonderbolts are supposed to show up tomorrow. I was going to let them know not to come, but...”

The suspense was practically killing the copper pegasus. “But? But what?”

Spitfire beamed. “I suppose we could have an impromptu audition here in Ponyville.”

Scootaloo's smile couldn't have gotten any bigger. “You'd do that? For her?”

“Why not? Besides, the 'Bolts need a vacation. And who knows, maybe we can convince the mayor to let us have the show.”

“YES!” Scootaloo fluttered into the air, pumping her hoof. “You have no idea how awesome this is! Rainbow Dash is going to be ecstatic!”

“Hey, it's the least I could do after you knocked some sense into me.”

Scootaloo simply smiled in return, as both pegasi walked wordlessly back into Ponyville.


Rainbow Dash tore through the air, forearms outstretched as she beat her wings, carrying herself away from the hospital. She hadn't quite meant to leave so abruptly, and while she really did want to find the mayor, things had suddenly become very awkward back in the hospital.

Flying lazily over the town, Rainbow scanned the ground for the Mayor of Ponyville. Despite her forced concentration, she found her thoughts drifting back to the hospital. Stopping briefly to hover over Ponyville, Rainbow alighted onto a lone cloud, far from the eyes of those below her. No, what had really bothered her was the sudden connection of sorts that seemed come out of nowhere between her and Soarin'. It felt like magic, but she knew it wasn't. It felt foreign, new, but not threatening. Which is probably the weirdest thing. She thought, shivering slightly. Rainbow felt like she should have been worried, or alarmed, but all she felt was the exact opposite. When she had walked into the hospital recovery room and looked at Soarin', she immediately felt it, an incredible power stirring within. But that was only the half of it. As they had briefly stared at each other, the unknown power emanated like an aura and radiated around her, expanding a reaching out toward Soarin's own. Her own had been strengthened by his, and at the same time, she could feel herself supporting him. In short, the exchange had been an adrenaline rush Rainbow had never felt before, the kind that made somepony feel like they were invincible. And she couldn't help but admit, as unnerving as it was, it had felt... good.

Growing restless Rainbow took to the sky again, trying to focus on the ground below, but her thoughts followed her.

It could have been something else. Some random magical anomaly, or one of any number of freakish things that happened to Rainbow and her friends. It could have been completely unrelated to the spooky message from Twilight's library, or from her 'vision' during her training with Scootaloo. It could have been just one of many things, if not for what Soarin' had said earlier.

"It was eating away at me. It has been... for weeks now...” Soarin's words echoed in Rainbow's mind, sending a chill down her spine. Had she not experienced the same thing? Could it really be that simple? Was Soarin' going through the same thing? Lightning Streak never mentioned a connection. But is that why I can't feel 'it' anymore?

Rainbow shivered again.

The ghost had said to find two others. Was Soarin' 'him'? Recent events seemed to definitely point toward the possibility. Then what about 'her'? Immediately Rainbow's thoughts zeroed in on Scootaloo. She had mentioned feeling tense, and even said she could feel the pull in the back of her mind. But I didn't have the same connection with Scootaloo like I did with Soarin', and she hasn't had anything crazy happen to her yet. Rainbow thought, a frown on her face. No. Soarin' may be one of the two, but I don't have anything positive on Scootaloo right now, and I'm definitely not pulling her into something dangerous. The pegasi thought resolutely, trying to put the issue to rest.

Despite this, her thoughts still strayed back to the hospitalized Wonderbolt.

“And even if Soarin' is 'him', I still don't even know how I'd bring it up to him in the first place.” Rainbow said to herself in frustration. “'Cause I'm totally sure I could walk up and be like, 'Hey! A dead pegasus in a book told me to stop the return of the Twin Storms and track down two others, with nothing to go on! Get any cryptic messages from a ghost about a cataclysm lately?'” Rainbow said out loud in mock enthusiasm. “I'm sure that'll go over real well.”

Sighing, the stunt mare rode the currents, letting the winds carry her about. “Oh, the hay with it!” Rainbow exclaimed. “I'm tired of worrying about this. Besides, I don't even know Soarin' well eno-”

Rainbow suddenly stopped, hovering in the air as her mind raced back to right before she had left the hospital.

“Hey, we can hang out sometime or, uh, something.”

“You know, when you get out.”

Her own words played over and over again in her mind, leaving a horrifying numb feeling. Still hovering, Rainbow stared ahead, mouth agape. “Did, did I just ask... ask out... Soarin'?”

With a dangerously red hue spread across her face, Rainbow Dash literally could not believe herself. “But he's a Wonderbolt! And I hardly know him!”

Racing to the nearest cloud, the stunt mare began to pace about. “Okay, okay maybe this isn't such a bad thing. I mean, there's no reason why we couldn't right? Just hang out, right?” The cyan mare continued to pace. While the thought of romantic stuff was never in the forefront of Dash's mind, that didn't mean she hadn't considered the idea from time to time. Unfortunately, it didn't help that the pegasus mare wasn't very good at the whole thing to begin with.

“Maybe it's not such a big deal?” Rainbow Dash said aloud, trying to convince herself. “Besides, I played it off pretty cool, right?”

“Right, ah, guess I'll catch ya later. Feel better and all.”

“Archons help me, what was I thinking!?” Dash put a hoof to her face in frustration. “I must've looked like a complete idiot!” Sighing once more to herself, Rainbow plopped down by the edge of the cloud. As if this wasn't the weirdest day on record, now I've got this to deal with, of all things.

Still plagued with random emotions of her current situation, Rainbow gazed about Ponyville below.

“Mayor Mare!” The cyan pegasus suddenly exclaimed. The elder earth pony had just exited Town Hall, and was now surveying the current state of Ponyville square. All her previous worries now filed under 'deal with it later', Rainbow thrust herself off the cloud, and down to the Equestrian earth.

Barreling downward, Rainbow landed hard next to the mayor, flourishing her wings about.

Startled, Mayor Mare turned to the stunt pegasus, more than annoyed. “Rainbow Dash please be careful! We've had more than enough of pegasi antics for one day, and that's putting it lightly.”

“Right, right sorry.” Dash said quickly, not at all apologetic. “Listen, I need to talk to you.”

“Is that so?” The mayor raised an eyebrow. “Well, I'm sorry Ms. Dash, but unless what concerns you is of more importance than the current state of our village, then I'm afraid its going to have to wait.” The mayor tried to side step the cyan mare, only to have Rainbow plant herself squarely in front of the earth pony's path.

“Well, it's sorta related to all...” Rainbow did a quick glance over her shoulder, “this.”

Mayor Mare's expression flattened. “I think I can see where this is going...”

“Okay, okay I'll cut to the chase, but you gotta hear me out.” Rainbow pleaded.

The elder earth pony sighed. “Alright, alright. Let's hear it.”

A small but victorious smile spread across the stunt mare's face. “Listen, Mayor Mare,” Rainbow began, “you just gotta let the Wonderbolts do their show!” She suddenly exclaimed, taking the elder pony by surprise.

Taken aback by the desperate pegasus, the earth pony recoiled slightly. “Ms. Dash please, control yourself! As you're obviously well aware, I cannot allow for the Wonderbolts to perform here, not when one of their own believes the town is a fit place for a wanton joy flight!”

Brushing past Dash, Mayor Mare strode out into the center of Ponyville. However, the stunt mare did not give up so easily.

“Aw, com'on mayor!” Rainbow flew backwards in front of the dismissive earth pony. “You've only got half the story! You have no idea what Soarin's been going through!” A saddened and sympathetic look overtook the pegasus. “Believe me, I know.”

Mayor Mare continued to trot forward, unfazed. “That's his name, is it? Well I'm sorry Rainbow Dash, but it would be highly irresponsible of me to allow Soarin' or the rest of his teammates to perform when they treat their hosts so poorly. Part of my job is to ensure that Ponyville is a safe place to live for all, and after today the Wonderbolts do not fall under safe entertainment.”

Rainbow threw her hooves up in frustration. “Argh! You're not listening to me! It was an accident! Soarin' didn't mean for any of this to happen, and he feels terrible about it!”

Mayor Mare stopped. Sighing again, she turned upward to the disgruntled pegasus. “I'm sorry Rainbow Dash. While I'm glad to hear Mr. Soarin' regrets what he did, it doesn't change anything. The show is canceled.”

Realizing she only had one more shot to convince the mayor, Rainbow played her final card. Landing in front of the mayor, Dash put on her most sincere face. “Okay, I got ya. What happened was bad, and you're in you right to stop the show.”

Rainbow was silent for a moment, collecting her thoughts.

“But look at it this way. Nopony got hurt. Yeah there was some damage, but that's all stuff we can fix. And... well... just look at everypony!” Dash gestured with her hoof around the square.

Sour faces were all around them, stallions and mares grumbling and groaning about. It didn't take a genius to see that the general attitude in Ponyville was not a good one.

“I'll put it simply; everypony around here feels like the Archons decided to stick each and everypony with their own personal storm cloud.”

An oddly curious look overtook the Mayor. “Archons? Who are-”

Rainbow Dash cut her off. “Never mind that. My point is, everypony is down in the dumps, and they need some way to let off some steam, to enjoy themselves. What better way for the Wonderbolts to fix everything by making it up to everypony?” Dash finished, trying her best not to betray the hopeful and somewhat desperate tone in her voice.

Mayor Mare was silent for a moment, mulling over Rainbow's proposition. “I don't know...” she said, trailing off.

“Sounds like a good idea to me.”

Both Rainbow Dash and Mayor Mare turned toward the familiar voice.

Spitfire strode in, walking up to the cyan mare and the earth pony, Scootaloo alongside her.

Rainbow landed haphazardly, disbelief etched on her face. “S-Spitfire? You came back?” She sputtered, glancing between the yellow pegasus and her teenaged friend.

Scootaloo simply smirked to herself. Told ya I had this taken care of RD.

“Yep. It took a little talk from your friend here,” the Wonderbolt Captain extended her wing over Scootaloo's back in a friendly pat, “but I think I'm seeing things a little clearer now.”

“Awesome!” Rainbow exclaimed. “So, with Spitfire back maybe we can fix this whole mess?”

The yellow mare turned to the mayor. “I'm game if you are.”

Mayor Mare frowned. “While Ms. Dash's offer is... tempting, and I can completely sympathize with a need to help boost morale, I'm still concerned about the safety of everypony during the show.”

“I can assure you, safety of our fans is always our priority. What Soarin' did was in no way related to any of our routines, and you have my personal guarantee that nothing that happened today will occur again. Besides, you said everypony is feeling pretty low for obvious reasons, why not let the Wonderbolts make it up to the whole town?”

Mayor Mare was silent, glancing about the three expectant pegasi in front of her. Finally, sighing in defeat she relented. “Oh, alright.”

Scootaloo and Dash cheered in unison, while Spitfire beamed an excited smile.

Ignoring the exuberant pegasi, the mayor once again address Spitfire. “We'll have to push the show back a day or so, but it shouldn't be too much of a problem, considering your Wonderbolt friend conveniently avoided where we were setting up the airfield.”

“Not a problem.”

“Good.” Mayor Mare started back for the Town Hall, but turned back, another thought coming to mind. “Oh, and Captain? I have your word this event will be free from harm?”

“I don't make promises I can't keep ma'am. But I will do everything in my power to see this show conducted properly. Wonderbolt's honor.” Spitfire finished, raising a hoof to her brow in salute.

Mayor Mare simply nodded, resuming her trot back to Town Hall.

Rainbow turned to Scootaloo. “Nice one kid.” She extended her wing, Scootaloo meeting hers in a wing five. “I don't know how you pulled it off, but nice one.”

Scootaloo grinned knowingly. “Don't thank me yet Dash.”

“What are you talking about?” Rainbow replied suspiciously.

Scootaloo merely glanced to Spitfire.

“So, Rainbow Dash.” The Wonderbolt Captain started. “The rest of the team is coming in tomorrow, and seeing as how we've got an extra day before the show, I figured we could put you through the paces, ya know, see what you got.”

To say Rainbow Dash was happy was an understatement. Inwardly she was like a little filly on Hearths Warming Morning, in complete disbelief and shock that the day had finally come. Outwardly however, she gave a cocky smile, putting on her best cool posture. “Some of my stuff eh? I think I can do that.”

Scootaloo rolled her eyes. Typical Dash.

“Then we're good.” Spitfire replied. “We'll meet up later tomorrow, I need to-” Spitfire's ears flattened as she glanced back toward the hospital. “I need to head back to the hospital.” The Wonderbolt Captain glanced quickly to Scootaloo, the younger pegasus returning a supportive smile.

Saying their goodbyes, Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo were left alone. The cyan mare turned to her friend.

“So, just what in the hay did you do?”

Scootaloo shrugged. “Not much. Just gave her a bit of a pep talk. You know, some of the stuff you would have said to me.”

“Well, in that case, there's no way you could have gone wrong with a pep talk like that. Since it was from me and all.”

“Ya know RD, one of these days your head is going to be so big that you won't be able to fly straight.”

Rainbow Dash laughed.

Turning toward the center of Ponyville both pegasi walked for a time in silence.

A more serious look on her face, Rainbow turned to Scootaloo.

“Hey, Scootaloo?”

“Yeah?”

“Did you say something to Spitfire about me?”

“Weellllll, I may have nudged her in right direction. Maybe given her an idea.” Scootaloo eyed the stunt mare mischievously, but she was unprepared for the blue wing that pulled her into a tight embrace.

“Thanks Scootaloo. This means a lot to me.”

“You're welcome.” The copper filly replied, returning the gesture.

Releasing her friend, the two continued their ambling through town.

“Hey, I've got an idea.” Rainbow said abruptly. “Let's head over to Sugar Cube Corner, my treat. My way of saying how incredibly awesome you are.”

The copper pegasus couldn't have more proud at that moment. To have her mentor, her fillyhood idol, and her best friend, smiling at her gratefully. Scootaloo grinned back at Rainbow Dash. “Sounds like a plan to me.”


Night had fallen over Ponyville. Darkness filled the land, while a thick cloud cover screened the stars. It was that rare occasion when the new moon took its reprieve from the night sky, no lunar light to pierce the darkness. To some of the few pegasi in Ponyville, it seemed as if there was a malevolent chill about the uncommon night, a change in the hue of the darkness. Almost as if there was something tangible about it. Most earth ponies and unicorns would dismiss such thoughts as foalish, quoting the monthly period when Luna's moon did not show it's face.

But the pegasi were indeed correct. The source lay from the Everfree Forest, its own eternal darkness returning to one from a much more ancient and violent time. It seeped out from the confines of the forest, like small streams pouring forth from archaic cracks. No longer did the forest speak with the tongues of the many nocturnal creatures that resided within; all were silenced by the entity that lay at the heart of the wood.

Such a night was perfect for the arrival of two cloaked pegasi, both wishing to remain unseen under the veil of darkness.

Silver Wings landed softly outside the Everfree Forest. His companion landed next to him, mutely taking in the ominous and primeval forest before him. Shivering at the seething labyrinth before him, Windswept dared not speak. Instead, he turned to his stoic ally.

Silver Wings spoke up, a sense of finality in his words.

“We have arrived.”

Ch. 7: Ailing Pegasi and Haunted Forests

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Legacy of the Pegasi:

Chapter 7: Ailing Pegasi and Haunted Forests

A faint glow slowly radiated near the eastern horizon. It gradually began to build in size and intensity, pinpricks of faint rays peeking over the horizon. Soon these too began to grow in strength, all together heralding in the rising of the sun. Continuing on their approach, the bright rays dashed forth as the topmost crescent of the sun finally broke free from the confines of the horizon. Like a gentle tidal wave, the light spilled into the Equestrian land, filling open fields, piercing dense forests, and finally touching on the brick and mortar of the small community that lay nestled in the expansive valley. Like a beckoning call, the light crept through the windows, warming the slumbering inhabitants. Ponies began to rouse from their sleep, early risers relishing in the calm moments of the morn, while the various shop keepers and market vendors prepared their wares for morning rush. For most, it was the beginning of another typical day in the small village. The same could not be said for a certain hospital borne pegasus.

Soarin' groaned lightly, roughly turning his body away from the window as the hospital received its own greeting from the sun.

Archon's spit Celestia, the stallion mentally swore, would it kill ya to take a day off every once in a while?

Shuffling his bedsheets in a flurry to shield himself from the offensive light, the Wonderbolt had nearly fallen back asleep, but was wrenched awake once more by the loud bang of an opened door. Soarin' groaned more audibly this time, pulling the covers closer over his head. I swear it should be illegal to wake somepony up like this.

The Wonderbolt's ears perked up as an almost cheery sound of hoof steps approached his bed. Dread filled the pegasus. Oh, they better not be... the stallion grumbled, slowly pulling off the sheets to greet his morning visitor.

Standing before him in a white lab coat was a brown unicorn, a red cross on his flank and clip board in hoof. To top it all off, the doctor wore the most sickeningly chirpy smile that Soarin' had ever seen.

“Well good morning there Mr. Soarin'! My name is Doctor Remedy.” The brown unicorn merrily greeted, eliciting a flinch from the Wonderbolt. Archons, just kill me now! Soarin' pleaded, not at all receptive to the morning pony's chipper attitude. Still taking a moment to wake up, and half hoping the medical unicorn would leave if he stared long enough, Soarin' replied. “Hey doc. I uh, I guess I'm feeling better.”

“Haven't tried flexing those wing muscles yet?” The doctor inquired, glancing down at his clipboard.

“Um, no actually, I haven't.” Soarin' twisted around, glancing at his bandaged wings. “But, now that you mention it, they do feel different...”

The unicorn raised an eyebrow, slightly surprised at Soarin's remark. “Really now? Well, why don't you give them an easy stretch while I examine them.”

Wordlessly complying, Soarin' slowly outstretched his wings, tensely waiting for the inevitable bouts of soreness that would plague him. But it never came.

“Anything?” The doctor remarked casually, all the while using his magic to shift and probe around the Wonderbolt's wings.

“Um. No actually. Nothing.” Soarin' replied, surprised at the lack of pain along his back. Sleep suddenly seemed like an after thought as a mischievous grin spread across the Wonderbolt's face.

“What?” Doctor Remedy sputtered, nearly dropping his clipboard. “But, that can't be right, not after an acci-”

Soarin' suddenly jumped up on all fours on top the bed, brandishing his wings about every which way, flexing and stretching his muscles about. A mixture of shock and confidence surged through the Wonderbolt. There was no pain, not even a hint of stress or soreness. The pegasus grinned.

“Mr. Soarin' please!” The medical unicorn stammered, stumbling back from the abrupt flurry in front of him.

Tucking his bandaged wings in awkwardly, Soarin' jumped from the bed. “Sorry doc. But I had to try that. And I didn't feel a thing. In fact...” Soarin glanced down at his sides. “I haven't felt this good in a long time.”

“But that's...” The unicorn re-focused his magic, concentrating harder as the aura sunk into the pegasus' wings. His mouth was left agape a moment later. “Impossible?”

Soarin' smirked, relishing the inadvertent compliment. “I'm a pegasus doc, and a Wonderbolt to boot. Doing the impossible is in my blood.” Though he wasn't being entirely truthful, Soarin' wasn't going to miss an opportunity to boast.

Ignoring the remark, Dr. Remedy squinted his eyes as he continued his examination. A second later, the magic aura fell from Soarin's wings. “Incredible. Simply astonishing.” The doctor announced, discarding his now unnecessary clipboard on a nearby table. “I've never seen anything like it.” Doctor Remedy turned to meet his patient's gaze.

Soarin' looked confused. “Doc?”

The medical unicorn met the pegasus evenly, replying in a business like tone. “It's as if your wings were never injured. The torn muscle has completely healed; not even the most advanced magic can do that, and most certainly not overnight. In fact, the tissue looks far more robust now than should be normal for a pegasus, even a Wonderbolt.”

Soarin's thoughts drifted back to recent, more supernatural encounters. While the pegasi physiology was more apt in recovering from injuries involving muscles and cardio, it obviously couldn't have done what the Wonderbolt's body had just done. Soarin' frowned. No, it had to be connected to what Commander Hurricane had told him.

“What can I say doc?” Soarin' replied lightly to the wary unicorn, trying not to betray his thoughts. “I'm a one of a kind.”

“Indeed.” The doctor eyed the pegasus suspiciously, like Soarin' had become some medical curiosity. “In fact, perhaps you wouldn't mind if we were to take a sample of your blood?” The medical pony levitated his clip board in front him, absently making a few marks.

The Wonderbolt bristled, replying in a steely voice. “No.”

“It will-”

“Nope.”

“But-”

“What part of 'no you're not sticking me with any of your blood sucking needles' don't you understand?” Soarin' took a step forward, annoyed with the unicorn's questioning.

Shirking slightly Doctor Remedy inched his clipboard in front of him like a shield. “Alright, alright! No reason to get testy!” Composing himself, the unicorn grumbled. “You pegasi are all alike, stubborn as a mule. Same as that rainbow filly...” He added off hoof.

Soarin' grinned inwardly. Can't say I'm surprised. Rainbow would go stir crazy in here. “So, do I get the clean bill of health or what doc?” The Wonderbolt asked quickly, itching to get out of the hospital.

“Yes, yes.” Doctor Remedy replied absently glancing down at his checklist. “Everything looks good. You can check out...”

Soarin' was nearly out the door before the doctor finished, grinning smugly. “After your wings have been unwrapped.”

The pegasus stallion nearly tripped over, plopping down in the doorway.

Tartarus I hate this place. He groaned aloud, rolling his eyes.


An hour of paper work and unwrapping of bandages later, Soarin' finally exited from the Ponyville hospital. Pausing for a moment, he took in a deep breath, savoring the mid morning air that permeated about. “Ah, the sweet smell of freedom.”

“Oh please. You were only in there one night.”

Soarin' turned to see Spitfire leaning against a tree in front of the hospital, casually smirking at him.

Soarin' feigned a horrified face. “But Captain! You don't know what it was like! Trapped in a dark room with nothing but the four walls around me!” The stallion rushed over to his friend, grabbing a hold of her in his mock frenzy. “The boredom was torture! Torture I say!”

“Alright, alright!” Spitfire grinned, shoving the laughing stallion off of her. “So you didn't have anything to do for one night. You survived.”

Both Wonderbolts started down the road, walking side by side.

“So.” Spitfire started, glancing at her friend. “How long are you going to be on the disabled list for?”

Soarin' simply smiled knowingly at his fellow Wonderbolt. “I don't think we'll have to worry about that. According to the doc, I'm in top physical condition. It's like I was never injured in the first place!”

“What!” Spitfire exclaimed, clearly astonished. “After an accident like that?!”

Soarin' simply gave a sheepish grin, trying to deflect the yellow mare's disbelieving gaze. However, while he was able to shrug off the prods and pokes from the medical staff back at the hospital, he had a much harder time avoiding the rejection in Spitfire's eyes.

“I don't believe it.” The Wonderbolt Captain said flatly, holding a steely glare.

Soarin' chuckled lightly, trying to hide the building anxiety that suddenly manifested under Spitfire's stare. She's not buying it. The blue pegasus thought, starting to panic inwardly.

“Aw, com'on Spitfire! I'm a pretty tough stallion.” He flashed another cheesy grin. “Didn't think I could shake it off?”

“Soarin'.” Spitfire stopped walking, taking an step toward the shirking stallion. “Pegasi are tough. The Wonderbolts are tough. We're tough. But nopony can recover overnight.” She paused for a moment, letting her words sink in. “What's going on Soarin'?”

Soarin' sighed. He knew this issue wouldn't go away on its own. Yet, he had tried to ignore it, fight it, and had brushed off any help to confront it. I need to tell her. The blue Wonderbolt admitted mentally. I owe her that much. But not now, not yet.

Dragging his hoof against the dirt absently, Soarin' sighed. “It's... it's hard to explain...” The blue pegasus trailed off.

Spitfire scrunched up her face. She wasn't going to let her friend stall. But before she could reiterate her query, Soarin' continued.

“But I promise that this time, I'm going to let you know. Everything. But only if its later today.” Soarin finally looked his friend in the eye, sincerity and hope in his words.

Spitfire smiled, resuming her trot along the path with her teammate. “Good.” However, a moment later her own grin faded. “Maybe now I'll be the friend I should have been from the start.” She tried to whisper to herself, ears pinning back.

Soarin' jerked toward Spitfire, catching her mumble. “Don't do that Spitfire.” The pegasus spoke up, a slight chide in his voice. “Don't do this to yourself.”

Spitfire simply nodded mutely as she stared down at the rhythmic trot of her hooves. Despite her silent agreement, a pained mask still fell upon her.

Soarin' was all too aware of how his friend could beat herself up. Spitfire was Captain of the Wonderbolts for a reason. She led from the front, and always put the team before herself; all of which was wrapped up in a confident personality and slightly cocky swagger. But it was a double edged sword. If she made a mistake, especially at the expense of others, she berated herself for it. Soarin' wasn't about to let thoughts like that fester in the yellow mare, not when it was something this important.

Extending a wing in front to stop the moping pegasus, Soarin' strode in front of Spitfire, making sure that she saw him at eye level.

“Spitfire.” He said calmly, but firmly, making sure he had the mare's attention. “I forgave you. And while I still don't believe you did anything wrong, I still forgave you.”

Spitfire looked up at the taller stallion, uncertainty and remorse splayed across her face. She had gone back to the hospital the previous night, and explained herself to Soarin'. Explained why she had to apologize, why she had handled it all so poorly, why it had taken a younger pegasus to show her that she had forgotten the real meaning of friends and teammates bound together. Though it had somewhat surprised Soarin', he had assured her that all was forgiven. Yet even now she still felt the lingering guilt from how she had acted the day prior.

Soarin' noticed Spitfire still seemed unsure. She seemed very fragile in this moment, averting her eyes and shifting awkwardly at the resolute pegasus in front of her. Not at all like the stalwart Wonderbolt Captain that the blue pegasus called his friend. “But Soarin', I-”

Soarin' snorted, cutting the yellow pegasus off. “No buts Spitfire.” The blue Wonderbolt matched evenly. “We all make mistakes. But its how we decide to deal with them that makes the difference.” He paused, brow furrowed, as he tried to make the best a rare occasion to offer advice. “You're my best friend Spitfire. I'll always have your back, no matter what.” He finished lightly, patting the mare lightly on the side with his wing.

Spitfire smiled wryly. “When did you become so wise?”

Soarin' chuckled, once again falling into step along the dirt road into Ponyville. “I don't know about wise. I think it's more of a certain Wonderbolt Captain rubbing off on me.”

“Hmm.” Spitfire silently replied.

“Of course, you know if that little speech hadn't worked, I'd have to remove you from duty for the welfare of the team.” Soarin' spoke in feigned smugness. “Ya know, being the second in command and all.”

Spitfire arched a brow. “Is that so?” She replied, some of her fiery personality coming back through.

“Yep.”

“I don't know about that Soar.” The Wonderbolt Captain mused playfully. “I don't think the rest of the team would take to kindly to a coup.”

“Ah, they'd get over it.” The blue Wonderbolt dismissed, gesturing with his hoof.

Spitfire simply laughed. The two continued to walk in silence, but now the air around them seemed lighter, no longer filled with the tension of troubled friends. Soarin' smiled to himself slightly. It was good to have Spitfire back to her old self, and strangely it felt good to know that he was going to finally let out all the strange and unbelievable things that had preying on his mind.

Suddenly, another thought came to the stallion's mind. “So, speaking of the team...”

Gesturing with her hoof to the left, Spitfire led the duo toward the outskirts of Ponyville. “We're on our way to meet them now.”

“We are? But I thought...”

“Oh, that's right, I forgot to tell you!” Spitfire turned to the confused stallion, the slightest hint of excitement in her eyes. “Rainbow Dash and I, oh and that other little pegasus, what was her name? Scootaloo? Anyway, we managed to get the mayor to let us go through with the show.”

“Rainbow Dash?” Soarin' said aloud to himself. The prismatic mare seemed to be more than just a regular occurrence, never mind the odd connection between the two.

“Yes, Rainbow Dash.” Spitfire replied, slightly confused as to why the stallion had picked out the prismatic colored mare. However, her wonder was quickly replaced by a mischievous grin. “Why? Is Soarin' 'interested?'” Spitfire spoke with particular emphasis on the last word, leaning in toward the blue stallion.

“What?” Soarin' shot back, genuinely surprised. “O-of c-course not!” He involuntarily stuttered, more than just attractive images of the the cyan mare coming to mind, like a traitor inside his brain. In truth, he was more concerned about the connection that seemed to link the two. But now that Spitfire had mentioned Rainbow in a much more... alluring way, Soarin' couldn't help but take note of the cyan pegasus beyond her Wonderbolt fandom and flying ability.

“Uh-huh.” Spitfire returned, not at all believing the blue pegasus. Looking to the sky for a moment, Spitfire glanced back to her confused friend. “You know I mentioned to Rainbow that we'd have an audition for her.” She smiled knowingly at the stallion. “What a great way for Soarin' the Wonderbolt to finally get to know somepony and land a mare.”

Soarin's jaw dropped, suddenly feeling much more flushed. “An audition? With Rainbow Dash? Marefriend?” It took the Wonderbolt a few seconds to process what Spitfire had revealed to him, his thoughts still cluttered with images of the rainbow mare. He abruptly turned to Spitfire, disbelief on his face. “You planned this?”

Spitfire laughed. “The audition? No, you have the Scootaloo kid to thank for that. As far as the marefriend thing, well...” Spitfire took a moment to regard the blushing pegasus, “you look like you're doing a good job of that yourself.”

Soarin' groaned audibly, seating himself in the middle of the road. Things just couldn't be simple. It was bad enough that there was some looming apocalypse, now he had to worry about blubbering about like an idiot in front of Rainbow. Thanks a lot Spitfire. The stallion thought sourly, glaring at the Wonderbolt Captain.

“Ah, there they are.” Spitfire announced, hoof to her brow as she looked to the southern sky.

Soarin' turned around, his own eyes scanning the horizon. Though they appeared to be just dots in the distance, the pair of Wonderbolts could easily make out the group that was rapidly approaching them, thanks in part to the hawk like vision bestowed upon the winged ponies. The group, numbering upwards of ten, continued to fly rapidly across the sky, expertly maintaining a delta V formation. Several seconds later, the newly arrived pegasi circled over head, one by one landing around Soarin' and Spitfire.

“Ah, there they are! Just the pegasi we were looking for!” Spoke up one of the stallion Wonderbolts, stepping forward to greet Soarin' and Spitfire.

“Glad you were all able to make it Fleetfoot.” The Wonderbolt Captain replied.

Fleetfoot grinned. An ice blue pegasus with a snow white mane, he was a veteran of the Wonderbolts, and also one of the ace pegasi that flew aside Spitfire and Soarin'. Though not as close as to the top two Wonderbolts as Spitfire and Soarin' were to each other, Fleetfoot was still a good friend. And to many of the other Wonderbolt's chagrin, a bit of a joker, a duty that he took pride in.

“Of course we were gonna make it Cap!” The stallion turned to Soarin' flashing a devilish smile. “I know I couldn't pass up the opportunity to prod Soarin' about his little 'escapade'.” Several other Wonderbolts chuckled, grinning along with the teasing pegasus.

Soarin' stared dumbly back at Fleetfoot. “What? How do you know about that?”

“Word travels fast Soarin' ol' buddy.” Fleetfoot trotted over to the blue stallion, lazily swinging a foreleg over his back, pulling him into an awkward hug. “It's quite the story back in Cloudsdale.” He snickered, mockingly rubbing the stallion's mane like he was a little colt.

“Yeah, its all over the front page news!” A pure white mare with a golden mane suddenly exclaimed, bursting into the center of the group. “You always said you wanted to get your own spotlight on in the Cloudsdale Daily Arcus, and now you did! Aren't you excited!” The animated mare somehow managed to scoot along the ground in front of Soarin's face, even as he wrestled with a laughing Fleetfoot.

Several more of the surrounding Wonderbolts chuckled, enjoying the spectacle before them at Soarin's expense.

Soarin's eyes bugged at the snow white mare, just managing to reply between Fleetfoot's grasp. “Surprise!” He gasped, struggling against his attackers grapple. “I'm in the papers?”

“Of course you are silly! Everypony in Cloudsdale knows how amazing you are now! Well, they did before, but now they know even more. Isn't that great!” The excitable Wonderbolt smiled, oblivious to Soarin's shocked reaction.

Spitfire rolled her eyes. “Alright, alright, that's enough you two, you've had enough fun. Leave Soarin' alone. He's been hazed enough about it already.”

Fleetfoot suddenly dropped the struggling Soarin', eying Spitfire with a demented curiosity. “Was he now!” The pegasus, rushed over to the Wonderbolt Captain expectantly. “So, how badly did you lay in-”

“Don't. Even.” Spitfire spat icily, staring lasers at Fleetfoot's attempt to further rib Soarin'. “Okay, okay, I can take a hint!” The ice blue pegasus shirked away, playfully shielding his face from Spitfire's steely gaze.

“But doesn't Soarin' want ponies to know what he did?” Surprise looked between the humiliated stallion and the yellow mare.

“Ugh, don't worry about it Surprise.” Spitfire put a hoof to her face in frustration. Trotting over to Soarin', Spitfire helped the pegasus to his hooves. “Com'on Soarin', shake it off.”

“Hmph.” Soarin' grunted, frowning. “Easy for you to say.”

“Hey.”

Soarin' turned to face a serious yet concerned Spitfire. “I've got your back.” She spoke quietly, so that the rest of the team couldn't hear.

His own words from before echoed in his mind, drawing a small smile on the stallion's face. Nodding mutely in reply, Soarin' pushed the embarrassment from his mind, turning with his friend toward the rest of the Wonderbolts.

Catching the change in demeanor from their Captain, the rest of the Wonderbolts instinctively formed a tight half-circle in front of the fiery orange pegasus and her second in command, standing in rapt attention.

“As I was saying before,” Spitfire shot another glare at Fleetfoot, “I'm glad you were all able to make it here well and safe.”

An ice blue hoof shot into the air, once again earning an annoyed glare from Spitfire along with Soarin'.

Fleetfoot dropped his hoof, immediately speaking up to defend himself. “Hey, just hold on a minute now Spitfire, I'm being serious!”

Spitfire sighed. “Fine. What is it?”

“Well, we did all get here, you're right about that. But I wouldn't exactly say that we're all well.”

Spitfire raised a brow at the stallion's curious remark, and was about to respond, when Soarin' beat her to it.

“What do you mean? Who's hurt?” Soarin's tone changed to match that of his Captain, scanning the group of pegasi in front of him. It didn't occur often, but Soarin' was quite capable of exercising his authority when he needed to.

Nopony made a move to volunteer any kind of injury. Soarin' turned again to Fleetfoot, an expectant look on his face.

“Well, that's just the thing. Everypony was fine when we left Cloudsdale this morning. But as we flew closer and closer to Ponyville, a lot of us started feeling ill.”

What? Flight sickness? Soarin' thought in disbelief. Such a thing was rare in fully grown pegasi, and completely unheard of amongst the Wonderbolts.

Spitfire simply stared at Fleetfoot like he couldn't have said anything more stupid. “Ugh, Archons help me! Please tell me a bunch of Wonderbolts didn't suddenly become airsick!” She exclaimed to the group, sounding more like an elementary school teacher chastising a classroom of foals.

Several of the Wonderbolts flinched at the outcry. Fleetfoot was quick to cut off Spitfire's frustration, stepping apart from the pack. “No, no, no! It wasn't flight sickness! I know, because I felt it too. It... it started as a headache, but as we got closer, I could feel it... like it was magic.” Fleetfoot stopped for a moment, shivering slightly before continuing. “But we all could tell it wasn't magic. I dunno how to explain it, and I know it sounds crazy, but when we flew over the forest, there was this freeze in the air, like the sky had suddenly turned against us. The headache got worse too. Once we got past the forest though, it went away... for the most part.” Fleetfoot shivered again, glancing over his shoulder toward the edge of the Everfree Forest.

Spitfire looked unamused, expressing her disbelief to the ice blue Wonderbolt's story. “And what exactly am I supposed to say to tha...” Spitfire's rebuttal droned away as the gears in Soarin's mind turned, pushed on by Fleetfoot's words.

Magic, but not magic? Soarin' thought to himself. That sounded all too familiar. The blue Wonderbolt thought back to his own recent experiences. He hadn't felt sick at any point, that was for sure. But there was still some kind of connection, there had to be. What Fleetfoot had said was just too similar. Did that mean that his fellow Wonderbolt was one of the other two? Or any one of the Wonderbolts around him? But that can't be right, there's only supposed to be three of us, right? Soarin' frowned, trying to sort through the maze of thoughts in his head.

Sighing, the stallion stepped away from the group, trotting over to the large forest that stretched out before him. Taking a better look, the blue pegasus regarded the legendary expanse before him. Ancient and gnarled roots gripped at the edge, blocking out the lush green grass. The light seemed to have difficulty piercing the canopy, darkness taking hold of anypony after only a few hoof steps. Even the trees of the Everfree stood apart, twisting limbs reaching out like groping skeletons. Despite these physical deformities, it was the absolute silence that cut through the entirety of the forest, like a trap that beckoned unwary adventurers into the shadowy depths.

Like many in Equestria, Soarin' knew of the Everfree Forest, as well as its many stories and legends that seemed to surround the wood. And like others, he had scoffed at the idea of manticores, timber wolves, or even hidden villages of ghost ponies shrouded within the ominous forest.

Just an old forest. Soarin' thought, brushing the ghost stories aside. And yet, he found himself walking closer still to the hazy wood. But now that I'm actually looking at it... Soarin' unconsciously stepped closer to the persistently misty and darkened forest. He could feel something, reaching out from the wood, moving within the veil of the fog.

...flew over the forest...flew over the forest...the forest...the forest...

Soarin' could hear Fleetfoot's echo in the back of his mind, but it was a distant warning, barely registering with the pegasus.

Closer he crept, only a few hoof steps away from the torn edge of the forest. The haze seemed to shift about, meeting the wary stallion just beyond the sunlight. Soarin' stood still. He felt no headache, no signs of illness. Suddenly he felt the ethereal strands boldly reach out, touching his mind.

Gasping slightly, the stallion took a hoof step back. What in the... Soarin' began to think, the recesses of his mind screaming that no good could come of this, but he gave pause. It wasn't the aura from before, from his commune with Commander Hurricane. Rather, he could feel the weakness within this aura, its fledgling movements as it seemed to search about. Despite the haunting forest before him, the Wonderbolt felt not threat as the invisible haze spilled out around him.

The blue pegasus relaxed slightly. Maybe, ...maybe this is a lead, or some kind of sign? Finally something to go on? Closing his eyes, Soarin' mentally spoke out. Hello? Several unanswered second passed, but Soarin' could feel the visitor cease its random movements. Who are you? Silence still filled the Wonderbolt's mind. But instead of a mental reply, the stallion was abruptly filled with panic and fear. But it was not his own. The magic like stream around him pulsed, feeding him with more intense emotions. The stallion shirked slightly again, but held his ground. It was like feeling the mind of a foal, lost and confused. Soarin' immediately imagined a trapped pony, imprisoned within the confines of the forest. Where are you? What's wrong? Soarin' frantically called out. The aura pulsed again. Though there were no words, the blue pegasus could almost hear the cry of help across the silent giant before him, desperation all around.

Frustration overtook the stallion. What should he do? Rushing into the forest was fool hardy. But if he left to get help, would it be too late? Would anypony even believe him? The pegasus stared deep into the blackness of the Everfree, growing more anxious with each passing second. He couldn't leave, he couldn't abandon the tether that clutched at him like a lifeline, not when somepony was trapped in the forest. Every oath he had taken, the very pegasi blood that ran within him compelled the Wonderbolt to rush forward, defying the abyss before him. That's all there is to it then. Soarin' thought grimly, jaw set.

Taking a hoof step forward, the pegasus could feel the ethereal wave intensify around him, as if it knew he was coming, beckoning him further. He faltered, surprised at the sudden force that had been so absent in the fledgling aura, but it only lasted a second. He was about to take another step, when another familiar power triggered within him, the same that had previously only manifested around Rainbow Dash. It roared within and around him, swirling around the confused pegasus, closing tighter and tighter around the stallion. The mystical line from the forest pulsed again in confusion, but of a different kind. Soarin' could feel the fizzling alarm from the weakened tether, as it slowly dissipated against the strengthening barrier that continued to pour out and around him.

“What are you doing?” Soarin' called out. “Stop! I have to help-”

His words were cut short with a final mental snap, as the ethereal shield encompassing him ruthlessly ripped the magic like cord from his mind. A gasp escaped the stallion's mouth, the blow back rushing through his skull with a head splitting headache. Clutching his head, the Wonderbolt fell to his haunches, trying to alleviate the pain. Despite this, his would be shield intensified around him like a hurricane, attacking the anchor-less aura, catching it in a violent vortex. Even though he had lost the connection, Soarin' could still feel hazy emotions reach his wounded mind. Alarm. And... frustration? Anger?

Soarin' was left to wonder, as the tornado around him silently expelled the tether, casting it back, deep into the Everfree. Then, as quickly as it had arisen, the aura dispelled.

Soarin' continued to grasp his head, his headache still wracking about his mind. What in the depths of Tartarus, was that? But his mind was too freshly wounded; he was having difficulty just trying to think lucidly. If anything, he knew now that he didn't want to gallop off into the Everfree.

“Soarin'!”

Still somewhat dazed, it took the stallion a moment to register that somepony had called his name. Turning round, he could see Spitfire staring at him, along with the rest of the Wonderbolts. He could tell that many of them, especially Fleetfoot, were staring between himself and the shadowy forest, clearly spooked by the infamous wood.

Standing upright, Soarin' gave the forest a final quizzical look, before trotting back the group of pegasi.

“What were you doing? That was the third time I've called you.” Spitfire looked over the blue pegasi concernedly.

Soarin' plopped down next to the Wonderbolt Captain, still rubbing his temples. “It's nothing. Just... just a-”

“Headache?” Fleetfoot cut in knowingly.

“Erm. Yeah. Just a headache.”

Spitfire shot Fleetfoot a nasty look. “Alright. That's the last I want to hear about head aches, not-magic, or freaky forests.” She glanced about the rest of the Wonderbolts, many of whom shuffled about awkwardly, clearly bothered. “You're all fine now, so from here on out we're focusing on tomorrow's show. Got it?”

Nods and silent assents filled the group.

Spitfire sighed. “Good. Take five, but don't get too comfortable, we've still got to fly to the skyfield.” Turning to Soarin', she eyed the stallion with an expectant look. “Just a headache?” She said quietly, so the rest couldn't hear.

Soarin' let out a tired breath. “Like I said Spitfire, I'll tell you later today.” Soarin' glanced over his shoulder to ominous wood behind him. “Just another thing added to the list, that's all.”

“Okay.” She looked over the stallion again in concern. “As long as you're alright.”

Soarin' returned with a weak smile. “Don't worry Mom, I'm a big colt.”

Spitfire simply rolled her eyes. She trotted over to the pegasi, addressing the group once more. “Alright, everypony, get airborne. I've got point.”

Over a dozen pegasi wings battered against the wind in reply, the Wonderbolts joining the their waiting Captain in the sky.

Taking a moment, Soarin' also took to the air. Immediately he felt better, letting the cool breeze flow through his feathers. The refreshingly chilly air filled his lungs, gently easing his throbbing head. Questions still wafted about in his mind, about what was in the Everfree, and why his aura, something he still didn't really understand at all, had suddenly triggered. More questions. The flying pegasi sighed, trying to focus. Maybe meeting with Rainbow Dash would be a good thing. It's the only thing I've got to go on at this point anyway. Unfortunately, at the thought of the cyan filly, Soarin's mind felt like pushing, other 'thoughts' about his head. Rather than scowl, the stallion smiled to himself. Well, she is pretty attractive...

“Aha, thinking about that Rainbow Dash filly I see.” Fleetfoot suddenly flew astride the daydreaming Wonderbolt, a sickening grin on his face.

Several nearby Wonderbolt snickered.

Soarin' groaned aloud in annoyance. Things just couldn't be simple.

Ch. 8: Pegasi Pride, Mountain Mayhem and Surprise Spelunking

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Legacy of the Pegasi:

Chapter 8: Pegasi Pride, Mountain Mayhem and Surprise Spelunking

Rainbow Dash paced about nervously upon a small cloud in Ponyville's own skyfield. Occasionally her ears would perk up, suddenly glancing toward the horizon, or over the edge of her well worn, rutted perch to the ground below. For several seconds she would anxiously look about, body rigid in anticipation, only for it to subside, her eyes falling and ears drooping slightly. She would then mutter a few inaudible words to herself, seeming to regain some measure of confidence, and proceed once again upon her tracked path upon the cloud.

Just relax, Rainbow. They didn't forget. I mean, it was just yesterday. There's no way they could have forgotten, right? I did save Soarin's life, and Spitfire even told me about the audition. And besides, its still morning, I'm sure they're on their way. A slightly more relaxed smile appeared on the stunt mare's face as she seated herself near the edge of the cloud. But as the seconds dragged on into minutes, it slowly faded. Agitation slowly started to build, cracking away at the mare's static posture. Glancing worriedly about, Rainbow quickly found herself pacing about in the relative comfort of the circular groove imprinted in the cloud. Don't worry, they didn't forget, they couldn't forget...

Right?

Suddenly, Rainbow Dash froze. Her ears perked up, twitching about, as a nervous tingle rushed within her. It was faint, barely audible to the naked ear, but to a pegasi, the sound was unmistakable.

Wing beats.

All of the prismatic filly's pent up anticipation evaporated in an instant, now replaced by a tumultuous combination of fear and panic. Oh crud, oh crud, oh crud! This is it! Rainbow snapped her eyes shut, a flurry of stress filled thoughts coursing through her. This is it! What if I mess up? What if they don't think I'm good enough? Desperation started to seep in, eager to join fear and panic. No, I can't think like that. I'm Rainbow Dash. I broke the light spectrum barrier. I'm the element of Loyalty. Eyes opening, the mare set her jaw resolutely. I can do this.

The wing beats were louder now, growing steadily behind her. Rainbow could clearly feel the gentle shift in the air, small waves displaced the by newcomer's flight. Now or never Rainbow. She thought, deftly turning around to greet the newcomer.

“Hey Rainbow!” A cheery and youthful voice called out.

Dash's world shattered around her, all of her awesome mental preparation slipping away and crashing at her hooves. “Scootaloo! What are you doing here!?”

The copper filly took several wing strides before alighting on Rainbow's well worn cloud.

“What do you mean? I had to be here! This is history in the making!” The teenaged filly announced happily. However, her jubilation was short lived, as she took note of the now peculiar cloud. “What in the hay?” The filly lowered her snout to the hoof trodden imprint. “Is that a rut? In a cloud?”

Rainbow roller her eyes, ignoring the inquisitive pegasus. “Right. Sorry. I thought you were somepony else.”

“I mean is that even possible?” Scootaloo continued to gape at the trench. She stuck out a hoof, gently prodding the indentation like it was some sort of wonder of nature.

Rainbow shot a deadpanned expression at the entertained filly, coughing slightly to capture her attention.

“Oh! Right!” Scootaloo slid over next to the cyan pegasus. “So, feeling a little nervous huh?”

Scootaloo's question drew Rainbow back to her earlier frustrations, but she didn't betray her inner worries. “Yeah right! I've practically got this in the bag!” The stunt mare proclaimed in sham confidence, gesturing lightly with her hoof for emphasis. “Piece a cake.”

Unfortunately, Rainbow wasn't the best liar, and Scootaloo certainly didn't need the Element of Honesty to see that. The younger mare craned her neck around, eying the cyan pegasus' stress induced track. She turned back to the now slightly less confident mare, brow raised in disbelief. “No worries huh?” She said flatly.

Rainbow Dash huffed loudly. “Okay, fine.” The rainbow filly seated herself on all fours roughly, letting her facade fall. Scootaloo was one of the few ponies outside the other Elements that she could confide in without feeling too weak. “I'm nervous. I mean, this is big. What if I fail? Or they don't think I'm good enough?” Rainbow turned to face the younger pegasus, uncertainty written upon her face. “This may be my only chance.”

Scootaloo rolled her eyes. “Yeah, right. You know that isn't going to happen. You've done way too much already for the Wonderbolts just to blow you off like that. How many pegasi can do a Sonic Rainboom, not to mention pulling it off like it's nothing?”

Rainbow smiled weakly at the compliment. “Yeah. I guess so.”

“Besides,” Scootaloo continued, “I bet you've got some sweet new moves to blow the 'Bolts away.”

Rainbow opened her mouth to reply, but her words were devoured by a sudden onslaught of panic. Stunned rigid in silence, a single sentence played through Dash's mind. I don't have anything prepared.

“I don't have anything prepared.”

“Huh?”

“I don't have anything prepared!” The rainbow filly jumped to her hooves, turning wildly on her surprised friend.

“I don't have anything! Anything at all!”

“What? What do you mean you don't have anything?”

“I got so caught up with Soarin' and Spitfire, and the Wonderbolts, and some... other... stuff, that I completely forgot!”

Rainbow Dash groaned aloud in frustration, burrowing her head into the cloud at her feet with a gentle 'pomf'.

“What am I going to do?” Came the mare's muffled voice.

“We've got to come up with something. Fast!”

Scootaloo yanked Dash from beneath the cloud, fully intent on helping her distressed friend.

“Come on Rainbow Dash!” Scootaloo pleaded, hovering just above the cyan pegasus. “All we gotta do is-”

However, the copper filly's words fell away. Much like Dash had been earlier, Scootaloo was stunned silent by the sound of wings through the air.

Scootaloo dropped softly next to her friend. Doing her best to be supportive, the younger filly turned to offer her encouragement.

“Preparation or not, I know you can do this.”

Dash sighed again. “Thanks Scoots.” She turned to meet her friend's even gaze. “When I got you backing me up, how can I go wrong?”

Scootaloo felt a slight tingle in the back of her mind, just as Rainbow made her reply. It was momentary, almost unnoticeable, but completely new. It had felt as if something inside was reaching out to the pegasus in front of her, searching out some kind of connection.

“Something wrong kiddo?” Rainbow spoke up, taking note of the filly's curious expression.

“No, no I'm good.” Scootaloo lied. “Just a weird feeling, like-”

Much louder wing beats returned both pegasi to the present predicament, eyes forward to greet their esteemed guests.

The rhythmic whooshing of powerful wings continued to fill the air, a formless trumpeter announcing the approaching group. Even before they had arrived, both Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo were filled with images of the majestic pegasi.

The Wonderbolts didn't disappoint. Finally coming into view, the expert formation of the stunt pegasi crested over the roof tops of Ponyville. Spitfire proudly led at the front of the flight, her sharp and angular wings cutting through the air like a blade. Soarin' was equally impressive, his large and dynamic wings propelling the stallion in powerful strides adjacent and slightly to the rear of his captain.

Rainbow Dash took a deep breath, surveying the formidable approach of her long time heroes.

“Hey.”

The cyan pegasus turned to the teenager beside her.

“No sweat.” The copper filly smiled, extending her wing. “You've got this.”

Rainbow smirked in reply, slapping her own cyan wing to the copper filly's. The small act of camaraderie helped ease her nerves, so much so that she didn't notice the gentle pulse that had passed between herself and the filly beside her.

Filled with a greater sense of confidence, Rainbow Dash returned her gaze to the Wonderbolts. She scanned across the formation, taking note of each Wonderbolt. Rapidfire... Wave Chill... Surprise... Fleetfoot... Spitfire...

Dash's mind screeched to a halt as her eyes fell onto one very particular Wonderbolt.

Soarin'. Aw, crap.

She quickly swatted away images from the hospital, ignored the flare in her ethereal connection to the stallion, her stumbling of words and hasty exit, thrusting it all behind a wall of determination and brashness that she took a measure of pride in.

Finally reaching the two awaiting pegasi, the Wonderbolts broke formation, flying circles overhead. One by one, each stunt pegasus landed a short distance away on one of the many clouds that surrounded Rainbow and Scootaloo's own in the sky field.

Rainbow Dash counted ten Wonderbolts, some doing a number of stretches or minor drills, others lounging about, still others making small talk with their teammates.

The prismatic mare frowned. “Wait a minute. I don't see Spitfire or So-”

A pair of winged shadows jetted across duo's cloud. Both Rainbow and Scootaloo looked skyward, searching for the owners.

Up above, Spitfire and Soarin' streaked through the sky downward, only a wing length apart. Suddenly, Soarin' propelled himself in front of Spitfire, barreling down onto the small cloud.

Scootaloo flinched slightly. “Um, Rainbow, remember last time he did that...”

There was no time to reply. A split second later Soarin' flourished his wings out, leveling out at the last second, a yellow blur streaking behind him. He impacted the cloud only a few hoof steps away from the two mares, violent ripples vibrating through the cloud. Stance wide and head down, the stallion finished the display by rearing on his hind hooves, flourishing his wings about for effect as his fore hooves pawed at the air.

Rainbow could only gawk at the spectacle before her as Soarin' settled, an unconscious warmness coming to her cheeks. Thankfully, her awkward stare was fleeting, as a rush of air billowed out from behind her.

The two fillies barely had enough time to twirl about, catching a glimpse of the yellow blur that shot up and rolled over them. Snapping back forward, Dash and Scootaloo now greeted two Wonderbolts, as Spitfire alighted next to her teammate.

“Hmph. Showoff.” Soarin' remarked casually.

“Me? A showoff? What do you call that landing just a second ago? You trying to put on some kind of show for these fillies?” Spitfire gestured to the other two mares, a wicked grin on her face.

“What?! Of c-course not!”

Spitfire simply laughed.

All the while, Rainbow was lost in a swirl of awe at the two pegasi before her. Though she felt leaps and bounds better from before Scootaloo had arrived, Dash couldn't help but feel the slight pressure and intimidation from the acrobatics and stunts from the best fliers in Equestria. Even after she had come to know Spitfire and Soarin', their own performance's reminded her of what they were capable of.

Guess I just need to step up my game, Rainbow mentally steeled herself.

“Hey Spitfire, Soarin. What's up?” Dash greeted the two Wonderbolts casually.

“Hey there Rainbow Dash. Glad to see you're here and ready to roll. We would've been here sooner, if it weren't for some... complications.”

Dash and Scootaloo looked confused at the yellow mare's reply.

“Is something wrong?” Scootaloo quipped.

Soarin' stepped forward before Spitfire could reply. “Nah, we're all good; the team had a few hiccups on the way to Ponyville, no biggie.”

Spitfire looked slightly annoyed at the stallion's frivolous excuse, but let it go.

“Wait a minute, aren't you supposed to be in the hospital?” The teenaged filly replied, zeroing in on the stallion.

The realization crossed through Rainbow's mind as well. “Yeah, how are you out and flying like that already? I've been through some rough landings, and even though I'm pretty awesome, I never got back that quick.”

“Uh, well, Wonderbolt training ya know?” Soarin' lied. “And well, I just uh, got better?”

“Well, I'm glad to see you're okay.” Rainbow replied. Her own words sunk in immediately after she spoke, an embarrassed look overtaking her as she tried to recover. “I mean, it just means you're even more awesome!” Unfortunately, she found herself in a deepening hole. “Er, I mean... because you're a Wonderbolt, not because I uh, well um. Yeah.”

Soarin' and Scootaloo seemed confused at the normally confident mare's jumbled reply, while Spitfire brought a hoof to her face, sighing.

Though she nervously grinned outwardly, inwardly the prismatic mare berated herself. Come on Rainbow Dash, get a hold of yourself! An angry voice resounded in her head. Its just Soarin'! You don't even know him... like... that.

The voice fizzled out against the crashing tide of emotions.

“Okay enough small talk.” Spitfire spoke up, rescuing RD from her verbal tailspin.

Jumping lightly into the air, the fiery mare shouted out. “Alright everypegasi, circle up!”

The sky was immediately filled with the sound of flapping wings, as the core of the Wonderbolts flight team closed in around the small cloud at the center of the skyfield.

Rainbow quickly scanned the winged perimeter that encircled the group. Name after name came to mind as her eyes continued to pass from face to face. But they weren't just names. Each carried with them a unique story of adventure and daring, each Wonderbolt a hero in his or her own right. Easy there Rainbow pony, they're pegasi, just like you. She mentally reassured herself, trying her best not to magnify what felt like extremely scrutinizing gazes from all around her.

“First things first.” Spitfire started, looking down at Rainbow and Scootaloo. “You know Soarin' and I well enough. But, since this is an audition of sorts, its only fitting you meet the rest of the team.”

Brief introductions followed as Spitfire called out each Wonderbolt, who in turn introduced themselves to Rainbow and Scootaloo.

“And finally, we have Surprise and Fleetfoot.” Spitfire finished, gesturing to a snow white filly and ice blue stallion.

“Hey! How ya doing!? It is soooooo nice to meet you!” The white pegasi chirped happily, landing snugly between the orange filly and the cyan mare.

“Uh, hey.” Scootaloo replied awkwardly, doing her best to put some distance between herself and the overly cheery mare.

“Yeah, we're uh, we're good.” Rainbow greeted, all too familiar thoughts of a pink earth pony coming to mind as she took in the white Wonderbolt next to her.

Spitfire sighed. “Surprise, what did I say about meeting new pegasi?”

“Never pop out of clouds with bowls of hot fudge at passing pegasi? Oh! Or was it not to drop welcome packages filled with fire crackers from fifty thousand feet on pegasi's door steps!? Oh, or maybe it was always use the thundercloud on stallions and snow storms on the mares?”

Scootaloo and Rainbow exchanged an eerily knowing glance at the white mare's ramblings.

Spitfire stared flatly at the happily oblivious Wonderbolt. “Personal. Space.”

“OH!” Surprise leaped into the air, hovering above the slightly more relaxed pegasi. “I was just getting to that one!”

Spitfire shook her head dismissively.

“Hey, don't forget about yours truly!”

An ice blue pegasi with a near white mane landed in front of Rainbow and Scootaloo.

“I wanted to make sure you met the pegasus who really runs the show around here.” Fleetfoot spoke suavely to the two fillies, slicking back his mane. “From behind the scenes, of course.” The stallion finished, casually winking at Dash.

“Yeah. Right.” Rainbow Dash countered sarcastically.

“You do?” Scootaloo looked up at the stallion in disbelief. “But I thought that-”

“Yeah, that's Fleetfoot.” Spitfire cut in, yawning. “Don't listen to anything he says.”

“Hey!”

Several of the other Wonderbolts chuckled. Even Soarin' smirked at his teammate's wounded charm.

Fleetfoot shot a nasty look at the Wonderbolt second-in-command. However, his scowl was quickly replaced by an evilly mischievous grin.

Soarin' suddenly felt very, very afraid.

Fleetfoot sided up alongside the cyan mare. “I've got it on good information that you happen to be on the radar of one of our very own Wonderbolts.” The ice blue pegasus glanced back at a very rigid Soarin'. “And I don't mean the official Wonderbolt kind of business, either.”

Soarin' stared daggers into Fleetfoot, even as he felt a nervous flutter in his chest. I'm going to kill him.

“What are you talking-” Rainbow started, but was cut short by Spitfire.

“Alright, alright, cut it out.”

Fleetfoot rolled his eyes in annoyance, but did as he was told, rejoining the rest of the Wonderbolts hovering around the cloud.

“So, you've met the team Rainbow.” Spitfire addressed the cyan mare, landing next to her. “How about you let everypegasi know a little about yourself?”

Soarin's ears perked up slightly at the yellow mares query. For some reason, he was very curious to see what the cyan filly would say.

Rainbow was taken aback. “Uh, yeah, yeah, sure.” She fumbled over her words slightly. Normally the confident mare had no issue talking about herself, proclaiming her superior flight skills and sure-fire destiny to be a Wonderbolt to the citizens of Ponyville. However, these weren't the villagers or farm ponies of the small earth pony town who now awaited her reply.

“My name's Rainbow Dash, but then you all already knew that.” She laughed lightly, feeling some of her old swagger return. “I'm the weather pegasus here in Ponyville, but believe me when I say that's just a temporary thing. I've actually done some pretty awesome stuff, and not just that Sonic Rainboom that I'm sure you're all thinking of.”

“Like what? Oh, tell me, tell me, tell me!” Surprise piped up eagerly.

Dash grinned, suddenly feeling more at ease. “Well, try saving Equestria, oh about, three or four times, give or take.”

Several murmurs bounded between assembled group of Wonderbolts, some in disbelief, others in tacit admiration, still others choosing instead to measure the boasting mare, looking for a hint of falsehood. The words 'element' and 'Loyalty' also seemed to pop up. Interestingly enough, 'Celestia' seemed to come up, followed by some rather colorful language.

Wow. Soarin' thought, genuinely impressed. He knew of the Elements and their bearers, but beyond that, he knew little of the details.

“So that whole element of Loyalty thing is no joke, huh?” Fleetfoot cut in, once again separating himself from the pack.

“Yep. Defeated the god of Chaos, kicked some Changeling butt back in Canterlot, and even freed Princess Celestia's sister. Course it wasn't just me, the other elements, my friends, helped too...” Rainbow Dashed grinned at her smaller companion. Scootaloo simply huffed in feigned annoyance. She had long ago given up on trying to dampen Dash's ego.

“Celestia huh?” Fleetfoot spat suddenly, his sudden change in demeanor not lost on the two Ponyville pegasi. “Figures.”

“Uh, yeah.” Scootaloo started slowly. “She's the one who gave them the elements in the first place.”

“Sounds like something she'd pull.” One of the assembled Wonderbolts said off hoof. “Manipulative as ever. Can't even do her own dirty work.”

Rainbow arched a brow, as she surveyed the pegasi around her. Sour faces, some even in disgust surrounded her, Spitfire and Soarin' included, all seemingly directed at the Equestrian ruler. “What do you mean...” She began cautiously, but was again cut off by one of the assembled pegasi.

“Yeah, did you hear the latest news from back home?” Another Wonderbolt announced, this time more directed at Spitfire and Soarin'. “You two weren't back Cloudsdale when it happened.”

“What are you talking about?” The Wonderbolt Captain replied, though she seemed to already know the answer.

Yeah, really? The cyan mare pondered, equally puzzled by the sudden change in Wonderbolts around her.

“A bunch of unicorns showed up at the Senate from Canterlot. Something about Cloudsdale being 'insurrectionists.'”

“Archon's spit!” Fleetfoot cursed, pawing his hoof angrily at the already abused cloud. Several other Wonderbolts added their own creative expletives. “Those uptight, self important weaklings need to buck off. I'll show them an insurrectionist! Cloudsdale would be better off without 'em. Tartarus, they need us more than we need them!”

“Hey! Two of my best friends are unicorns!” Rainbow finally retorted, a little louder than she meant.

An awkward silence filled the air. Dash continued to glower at Fleetfoot, who seemed genuinely surprised. “Hey, relax Rainbow. Didn't mean anything personal by it. I'm sure they're cool if they're with you.”

“I think we're getting a little off track here.” Spitfire cut in, trying to diffuse the situation. “Even if Celestia does need to take a hike.” The yellow mare added snidely.

Several Wonderbolt snickered at their Captain's remark.

Soarin' smirked along with his fellow Wonderbolts, but caught Rainbow eye as he did so. The wary look on her face hit him like a wall, as the stallion quickly averted his eyes. Despite this, he could feel a gentle strain in his mysterious connection, clearly colored by Rainbow's demeanor. Somehow, it felt wrong. Like an abuse in the ethereal stream between them.

“We can discuss politics later.” Spitfire announced, erasing the supernatural connection from both Dash's and Soarin's mind. “Right now, we've got a sky with no pegasi in it.”

The mare turned to Rainbow. “You ready to show us what you got?”

Rainbow nodded quickly, still somewhat frazzled by the previously abrupt exchange. She could feel the butterflies lurch within her stomach, but ignored it. Time to blow them away.

“Alright then.” Spitfire gestured to the rest of the Wonderbolts. “Everypegasi, get airborne.”


Rainbow Dash collapsed on a lone cloud high above the Ponyville Skyfield, drenched in sweat, and heaving deep gasping breaths. Her wings lay limply by her sides, the winged muscles burning from exertion.

“Come Rainbow, keep it together.”

Bereft of any prepared routine, she had simply decided to go freestyle. However, there hadn't been anything easy about it in the slightest. Spitfire and the rest of the Wonderbolts were spread about the Skyfield, simply watching the prismatic mare as she pulled out every spin, flip, dive and roll she knew, each woven into a complex tapestry of aerobatic routines and maneuvers. The simple fact that not just Spitfire was watching her, but that the combined experience of the ace Wonderbolt squad was evaluating her every move pushed the athletic mare well beyond any kind of informal audition. In short, she had put herself through the grinder.

“Just... a little bit... more.” The cyan mare worded slowly between gasps. “Just one more move, that's all I need...”

“Rainbow Dash!”

Dash's ears perked up as she picked up the friendly voice of Scootaloo. Wobbling to her hooves, the cyan mare greeted her pegasi companion.

“Hey Scoots.” She grinned weakly.

“Are you okay?” The copper teenager landed next to her mentor, clearly concerned.

“Pff. Kid, do you even know who you're talking to?”

“Come on Dash. You're going to hurt yourself if your not careful.”

Rainbow snorted. “I'll be careful after I'm a Wonderbolt. Well, no, actually I won't.” She grinned cheekily at the younger filly.

Scootaloo ignored the remark. “So, do you think you've convinced them?

“Not sure.” Rainbow replied absently, pulling at several mismatched feathers in her wings. “So, just to be sure, I'm going to knock 'em dead with one more go. Really blow them away.” She beamed a confident smile at the filly, adrenaline coursing through her as she announced her end game.

“Sounds like a plan to me.”

Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo spun around to see Soarin' and Spitfire hovering silently behind them.

Unconsciously straightening her posture, Dash quickly hid the sore and tired features from her face, adopting instead her tried and true cocky expression. “Glad you approve. Any suggestions?”

“Hmm. You've done pretty good by my standards.” Spitfire put her hoof to her chin in mock contemplation. “So, nope. I got nothing.”

Dash inwardly sighed in relief. Even though she had challenged Spitfire outright, she was glad that she wouldn't have to tax her wings further.

“But its not me that you have to impress.” The Wonderbolt Captain suddenly announced happily, turning to her second in command. “Soarin'?”

“Huh?”

“What?”

Both stallion and mare exclaimed, staring in confusion at the yellow pegasus.

“What shall Rainbow Dash's final test be?”

“Oh, right.” Soarin' replied, stepping forward. “Well, just for the record, you've done amazingly well so far Dash.” The Wonderbolt stallion spoke evenly, but the slight fidget in his wings said otherwise.

For her own part, Rainbow found herself at a strange, almost rhythmic calm under the pale blue stallion's gaze. Whether it was the adrenaline pulsing through her, the uncertainty of Soarin's looming challenge, the magical tether that seemed to float between them, or a combination of the three, Rainbow wasn't sure. All she knew was that she wanted to be around the stallion in front of her.

“Amazingly well by your standards, maybe?” She advanced toward the stallion slightly, taking him off guard with her suddenly flirtatious voice. Wait. What?! Rainbow simultaneously thought within her mind, surprised at her own action. What in the hay am I thinking?

Scootaloo looked up at her friend like she had suddenly contracted the plague, moving to put some distance between herself and the cyan mare. Since when did Rainbow Dash act all filly like?

“Uh, well, erm.” Soarin' stuttered and stammered, barely maintaining composure. However, despite his momentary lapse from Rainbow's unexpected reply, he could feel a tranquil soothing overcome him. Bolstered by the sudden clarity, he addressed Dash steadily.

“I have something in mind.” The Wonderbolt started vaguely. “If you think you can handle it.”

“I can handle anything you got.” Rainbow countered, herself more composed as she took another gleefully defying step toward the stallion.

“A speed test.” The Wonderbolt stallion continued, trying not to smile.

Rainbow eagerly pressed for more details, advancing still toward the stallion. “What kind of speed test?”

“To Pegasi Peak and back.” Soarin' openly grinned down at the shorter mare. “No breaks. Fast as you can.”

Rainbow took a final step in front of the stallion, now very close as her rose colored eyes challengingly met Soarin's own emerald eyes. She held her stare, daring the Wonderbolt to abandon his competitive focus.

He didn't.

Rainbow Dash suddenly broke into an aggressive grin. “Done!” She announced, abruptly turning about, her tail swatting Soarin' on the muzzle as she did so. Crouching low the athletic mare thrust herself upward with a powerful kick, simultaneously spreading her wings and diving off the edge of the cloud.

Soarin' stumbled backward slightly, in part from Dash's impressive take off, and in part from the playful swish of her tail. The blush on his face said the rest.

“Well played Soarin'.” Spitfire congratulated. “And good luck. You're gonna need it.”

“Bleh. I think I'm gonna puke.” Scootaloo stated flatly.

“Uh, yeah. Thanks Spitfire. I think.” Soarin' replied.

Moving toward the edge of the cloud, he could still see the cyan mare's rainbow trail as she raced toward the distant mountaintop. He could have felt worried, claimed that he was being manipulated by some invisible bond between himself and the cyan mare. And if not that, then when did Soarin' all of a sudden not look like a complete idiot in front of a filly, especially a mare like Rainbow Dash?

Instead, the stallion smiled. You know what? I really don't care either way.

Straightening his own wings, Soarin' approached the edge of the diminutive cloud.

“Going somewhere Soarin'?” Spitfire asked, slightly confused.

Soarin' grinned back at the yellow mare over his shoulder. “Just going to make things a little more interesting.”

Taking a quick glance at Rainbow Dash's fading trail, the Wonderbolt leaped from the small cloud, tearing after the prismatic filly, his own competitive adrenaline urging his wings onward.


Pegasi Peak. The tallest point in the Dragon's Scar mountain range, the mountaintop was a notable landmark amongst Equestria's citizens. To the earthbound ponies, the peak was an impressive display, a towering palisade that stood alone against the backdrop of the sky. But to the pegasi, it held a far greater meaning. In the time before the uniting of the tribes, the lofty mountaintop and its surrounding clouds had served as a home for the migrating pegasi. Legends told of how the mythical Archon Pegasi crafted the first military outpost from the clouds in the sky scape around the highest reaches of the mountain. Over time this refuge would expand into the grand city of Cloudsdale, the ever migrating floating city of the Pegasi. However, despite the impressive grandeur of the winged ponies' capital, it was never forgotten where the Pegasi had first found refuge, cementing Pegasi Peak as the spiritual birthplace of the Pegasi in Equestria.

For this particularly moment however, the mountaintop was just another challenge in a filly's quest to join the greatest fliers in the land.

Rainbow Dash streaked across the Equestrian sky, lungs burning and wings straining, as she closed the distance with her target. Random thoughts seemed to swim in and out of her mind, from the Wonderbolts dislike of Celestia to her own uncharacteristic exchange with Soarin' only moments ago. Even the memory of the mysterious tension from earlier in the week seemed to come up in Rainbow's mind, dragging along with it the resurgent memories of the stunt mare's parents. And yet, they were all fleeting, lost against the wind as adrenaline carried Rainbow beyond her troubles, propelling her instead further along to Pegasi Peak.

Despite her physical exhaustion, Rainbow Dash outwardly beamed. It's about time something felt right for once, even if I don't understand it.

She was just now halfway to the mountain. It seemed to call out to her, the reflective summit glowing like a beacon from the noonday sun.

So zeroed was her focus, that Rainbow Dash nearly missed the slight twinge, almost like the slight tug of a rope from within her. But it wasn't her assailant like in days past. Instead she felt a soothing calm wash over her, encouraging her.

Not now! I need to focus!

She tried to ignore it, instead re-focusing on the rocky titan before her. But this was easier said than done. The tug seemed to strengthen, and in doing so furthered strengthened the mare, much to her chagrin.

“Come on, I really don't need this weird stuff right now!” Rainbow gritted through clenched teeth.

The tether seemed to respond. Instead of swatting back in rebuttal, or drumming on Dash's mind, it simply gave a playful mental push.

Rainbow's wings faltered slightly, as the startled mare yelped.

“What in the hay?” The cyan mare called out, quickly regaining her course.

She hadn't expected that. Even now Rainbow could tell there was something more about the link. It wasn't another random encounter. There seemed to be a personality behind it. She could feel the muted character, its dual nature of playful mirth and steadfast resolve swirling around her. Almost something familiar about it. Where have I felt this before?

Another feeling hit the mare this time. However, she felt nothing from the persistent aura. Instead, she felt as if somepony were physically staring at her. Confused, Rainbow searched the sky before her, but no pegasi, no ponies of any kind were in sight.

Annoyed once more, Rainbow tried to push herself beyond the feeling of unease, even the comfort that she somehow swore was laughing at her right now.

Then, quite suddenly, the final puzzle in Rainbow's latest curious mystery fell into place. Rapid wing beats thundered behind her, growing in intensity. Rainbow knew even before she snapped herself around.

“Soar-?”

The ballistic Wonderbolt exploded past the filly, dragging a current of windy carnage with him, not at all unlike his flight through Ponyville.

Caught in the onslaught of the jet stream, Rainbow spun about haphazardly for a few moments, before righting herself for the second time.

“Pah! Argh!” Dash snorted in frustration. “Really? I mean come on! Really!?”

A decent distance away from the mare, Soarin' had rounded about. Flying at a more leisurely pace he met up with the disheveled mare.

“Heya Rainbow Dash!” Soarin' called out cheerily.

Doing her best to ignore the weird combination of emotional butterflies and annoyance, Rainbow risked a quick glance at the stallion.

“Do you mind not trying to wipe me out with a tornado?”

Soarin' rolled over above the filly, flying upside down as he matched Rainbow's pace.

Though the move was admittedly impressive, Dash was more intrigued by the Wonderbolt's lack of a reply. Instead, she could feel the stallion looking at her awkwardly, his neck craned back as he continued to fly upside down.

Frustrated at being ignored, Rainbow looked up at the stallion.

“Soarin', just what are you-”

Without warning, Soarin' stuck out his tongue, barely touching Dash on the nose. Then, flashing a goofy yet daring grin, the Wonderbolt shot off toward the top of Pegasi Peak.

Rainbow Dash stopped momentarily. “What the...”

Her mouth hung agape as she stared stupidly ahead, cheeks flushed. The completely absurd and random nature of what had just happened was not lost on her, but one thing stood out above the swirl of disbelief, elation, and frustration. She knew where the sudden character from before had come from. Or more importantly, who it had come from.

Rainbow smirked. “Oho, it is on fly-boy.”

Ignoring the pain in her wings, Dash pushed herself forward, her second wind summoned by the thrill of the chase. A speed test was on thing. A race was completely different.

Several seconds later Dash had caught up with the Wonderbolt, weaving in and out of the characteristic Wonderbolt thundercloud trail. Diving low, Rainbow hid under the Wonderbolt's cloud trail, stealthily sneaking forward. Even as she matched the Wonderbolt's speed, Rainbow remained directly below Soarin'. As seconds passed, Dash could tell that the stallion was confused as to where the filly had gone. Every so often he glanced behind himself, clearly confused as to the cyan filly's location.

Dash smiled. “Gotcha now Soarin'.”

Rainbow put on a burst of speed, pushing her wings as she shot upward. In a streak of cyan and all the colors of the rainbow, she flew in front of the Wonderbolt, barely grazing his fore hooves with the tips of her wings.

Startled, the stallion sputtered about, losing his thundercloud trail.

Rainbow couldn't resist the urge to tease.

“Haha! How you like that!” Rainbow called over her shoulder, wasting no time to press her advantage.

She was going to need it. She had only just finished taunting the stallion, when Soarin' righted himself, zeroing in on the cyan filly. The quick reaction took Rainbow by surprise, cutting her victory short. Instead, she felt the stallion's determined gaze upon her. Somehow, someway, she could almost feel his bemused grin.

Catch me if you can. Rainbow thought to herself.

The Wonderbolt slowly began to gain on her as the two shot like bullets across the sky. Just the thought of Soarin' in pursuit put a smile to Dash's face, barely suppressing a foalish laugh. Come on Rainbow, what's gotten into you? You can't be acting all softy! Not when- oh ponyfeathers!

From the corner of her eye, Rainbow caught what appeared to Equestria's fastest cloud. However, at the last second, she caught a glimpse of Soarin's blue tail whipping in the wind, just as the stallion thrust the cloud right into her flight path.

“Gah!”

Rainbow impacted the modest cloud, the vapor dissipating around her. Shaking her head, she could make out the stallion gleefully blowing a raspberry at her as he made for a much closer mountaintop.

Rainbow tore after the Wonderbolt in a flash. Playing dirty huh? Two can play that game!

Now much closer to the ancient mountain, Soarin' and Rainbow Dash entered the massive cloud complex that seemed to perpetually circle Pegasi Peak. So dense were the clouds around the mountaintop that it was more like a labyrinth of tunnels that twisted and snaked about. Few pegasi knew about the complex, and far fewer knew how to navigate it, save for one prismatic mare.

Purposefully lagging behind the Wonderbolt, Rainbow broke away her pursuit as the stallion entered one of the many cloud-tunnels. Remaining just outside the cloud formations, Rainbow smirked to herself. You're in my backyard now Soarin'.

Banking hard to the left, Rainbow increased her speed as she hugged the outer shell of the cloud tunnel. She would have to be especially quick if she wanted to return the favor.


Soarin' barreled down the surprisingly darkened cloud tunnel. He hadn't exactly planned on finding himself in a twisting passage way, but then the whole series of events that had unraveled from moments ago could hardly have been called a well thought out course of action. And in reality, he had no one to blame but himself. Not that I'm really complaining. The stallion thought, thinking back on his earlier stunt that had kicked off the impromptu race.

Nevertheless, Soarin' was admittedly at a disadvantage. With Rainbow gone from his sight once more and the stallion forced to stay on his wingtips as he navigated the treacherous passage, Soarin' felt slightly on edge. The small channel suddenly took a nosedive as the Wonderbolt barely avoided colliding with the ceiling.

“Come on Soarin', stay focused. Rainbow's not going to give an inch.”

Twisting and banking, the pegasus stallion deftly continued to maneuver the challenging maze. But his focus was wavering. Something, like the presences from before, flitted just outside his mind. Ugh. Again? Despite his agitation, Soarin noted that it had a sense of familiarity to it, a certain aggressive personality and spunk that Soarin' swore he knew from somewhere. It even felt as if it were flying with him, just outside his mind.

A sudden rise in the cloud tunnel took the stallion by surprise. Flourishing his wings about, the Wonderbolt pushed against his own momentum, vainly trying to avoid a crash. But under his own power, and the speed that he was currently going, he knew he wasn't going to make it. Despite his own admission, Soarin' fought against the outcome. At the last possible second, when the stallion was bracing for the inevitable, Soarin' shot upward with a new kind of power. A high pitched laughter seemed to resonate just beyond his ears, ringing with a distinctive crack as Soarin' swore he felt a second pair of wings bolster his own.

Though this new activity was startling, Soarin' didn't have time to ponder, more thankful that he hadn't repeated his crash from the previous day. Instead the stallion found himself leveling out from the constant jerking and zigzagging of the tunnel, a solitary beam of light flitting across his muzzle as the end of the tunnel presented itself.

“Finally!”

So focused was the stallion on his escape, that he almost missed the return of his would be rescuer from moments before. Only this time, there was no angelic support. Rather, Soarin' only felt a sly aura fall over him.

“Oh, this can't be good.” Soarin' muttered to himself, groaning.

Feeling like he was destined for some kind of trap, the Wonderbolt nevertheless pushed himself harder to reach the end of the tunnel.


Rainbow hovered as quietly as she could, her back alongside one of the many cloud-tunnel exits. A sly grin spread across her face, as the filly waited patiently. Though she couldn't hear him yet, Rainbow felt the stallion more acutely now, her own aura more attuned to the stallion's distinctive own. Perhaps it should have frightened the prismatic mare how much she could control this new found ability, or what greater implications it had, but in the heat of moment, she didn't care.

And besides, there's payback to be made.

The echo of flapping wings bellowed out of the tunnel, startling Rainbow slightly. But it did little to dampen the mare's plan. Instead, Rainbow found herself stifling a foalish laughter, such was her excitement.

Several seconds passed as Dash pushed herself a few hoof steps away from the cloud side of the cloud tunnel. Eyes closed, she continued to feel Soarin', his pace quickening as she felt his own aura searching her out. She couldn't help but grin. The fact that the stallion knew something was coming, but not exactly only made the payback that much sweeter.

Soarin' was very close now, his wing beats echo louder through the tunnel.

And in three...two...one, now!

Rainbow locked her hind legs back and bucked the cloud wall in one solid motion, a wall of cloud cascading inward to the tunnel, and directly into Soarin's path.

There was a muffled 'what the buc-!' followed by the sound of a pegasus impacting the soft blockage at the exit of the tunnel.

Rainbow Dash erupted into laughter, barely able to stay in the air. “How's it taste Soarin', to get a dose of your own medicine?”

Dash continued to laugh, as the stallion's head finally surfaced from the collapsed cloud tunnel.

Rainbow took a moment to gaze at the Wonderbolt's peculiar situation, then burst into laughter once more.

Soarin' simply stared up at the giggling filly. Her laughter filled his ears as realization suddenly dawned on him. So that's where it came from. A knowing grin settled on the stallion as his own aura finally zeroed in on the cyan mare.

Rainbow wiped a tear from her eye. Somewhat more settled, she looked down at the trapped pony. Or at least, had been trapped.

Soarin' climbed to his hooves finally pulling himself from the wreckage of stone-cloud. A delightfully aggressive smile beamed across the stallion's face as he looked up at the prismatic mare, readying his wings.

“You better fly, filly.”

“Ha!” Rainbow started to involuntarily giggle again, blasting off toward the mountaintop before the flutter in her chest could get the better of her. Settling more into her usual focus, she tried to straighten out . Come on Rainbow, since when do you act all mushy? Seriously! What gives? You're not some wimpy mare like Rarity!

Unfortunately, more pressing circumstances seemed to take hold. Soarin' was once again gaining on her, as the two now descended into the snow capped ridges and valleys of Pegasi Peak.

Even in the middle of summer the mountaintop was a treacherous place. Blizzard winds whipped through the steep gorges, pelting unwary travelers with sleet, hail and snow. And even in the rare absence of a snow storm, there was always the risk of an avalanche from tons of snow that piled high upon the rocky titan.

For two racing pegasi, such dangers were an afterthought.

Dash barreled down into the first narrow gorge that presented itself. In here the winds were much more vicious, whipping around the corners with gale force. Coupled with the tight passageway and hairpin turns, Dash was having difficulty maintaining control.

Easy there Rainbow. Just gotta lose Soarin'. The cyan mare laughed inwardly. Heh. Easier said than done.

Dash's words were more true than she may have realized. Soarin' was only a few seconds behind, matching Rainbow turn for turn and dodge for dodge.

The stallion gritted his, eyes squinting against the sting of the wintery winds. Holy Archons this is crazy! Soarin' thought, pulling into a dangerously tight turn to gain on the stunt mare.

Up ahead, Rainbow continued to lead Soarin' through the gorge.

Tartarus he's fast! Rainbow made a quick glance over shoulder, just as Soarin' barreled around the corner like a sling shot. He was gaining on her slowly, only a few wing strokes behind. Grimacing, Rainbow set her jaw as her wings pushed her into narrow straightaway. Come on Rainbow, gotta pull something new!

Up ahead she got her answer. The gorge was becoming increasingly more narrow. Eventually the two walls came together to form a dangerously scant crevice that was covered in a think layer of ice.

Frowning, Rainbow Dash glanced up above the narrow passage. Clouds hung just above the crevice, obscuring where the gorge came together.

Perfect.

Pacing her flight, but not so much that Soarin' would catch her, Rainbow purposefully remained low. She tucked her hooves in close, just barely avoiding the jagged rocks and sharps icicles that jutted forth from the bottom of the steep basin.

Soarin' shadowed Dash lower into the gorge, straining to avoid the frozen spikes that threatened to clip his hooves. What is she do-? The Wonderbolt suddenly took note of the narrowing canyon, with the massive cliff face rising up to meet them.

Grinning smugly to herself, Rainbow gauged the approaching stone wall. Lets see how agile you are Soarin'. And ready... Go!

Taking a slight dip downward the cyan propelled herself upward sharply, and into a roll, barely clearing the crest of the cliff face.

Soarin' eyes bugged in disbelief as the mare disappeared into the hazy clouds above. With no time to move, the less agile stallion did the only thing he could. Putting on a final heavy thrust for a modest gain in altitude, the stallion tucked his wings in tight.

This is going to be rough. The stallion thought glumly.

Thrusting his hooves outward, Soarin' made his body a slim as he could, and braced for the inevitably jarring impact.

Rainbow raced through the cloud, bursting out on the other side. “Ha! There's no way he made it over-”

The bursting of cracking ice cut through the windswept air, shaking the landscape. Looking over her shoulder Rainbow caught a glimpse of Soarin' as he pummeled through the ice, his body somehow maintaining his absurd velocity. Losing control, the stallion violently cut into the side of the gorge, tremors rocking the surrounding area.

“Soar-!” Dash started to exclaim, but was again cut short by the gut wrenching rumble of the mountain around her.

Terror filled Rainbow eyes as looked toward the top of Pegasi Peak. Rock and snow rumbled near Soarin's impact, steadily cascading down the side of the mountain, intent on filling the gorge in a hail of suffocating snow and ballistic rock.

Pulling as hard as she could, Dash vaulted up and over, somersaulting back to where Soarin' had crashed. She frantically looked about, fully aware that she would be crushed if she remained in the gorge.

“Soarin'!” Rainbow called out against the wind and the angry rumble of the avalanche.

Abject terror and pumping adrenaline filled filly as she darted this way and that, dodging the small rocks that were just a prelude to full fury of the avalanche.

“Soarin! Where are you?! SOARIN'!”

A slight tingle, sprung to life in the back of her mind. A split second later a light blue blur shot from below, blindsiding the cyan mare, just as a massive boulder crashed downward, directly where she would have been moments ago.

Shooting upward, Soarin' pulled into a sharp turn, just behind the confused mare. “Rainbow! FLY!”

All she heard was his voice, but it was all Dash needed. Pushing her wings onward in the flight of her life, the pegasus took in the catastrophe before as she streaked ahead.

The massive cliff faces on either side of the gorge shook violently, heavy boulders and waves of snow pouring into the canyon. Already Soarin's point of impact was filled, the snow and rock racing alongside each side of the gorge, filling it at a terrifying rate. Unfortunately for the two pegasi, they were trapped in the massive trench, compelled to race forward in a gauntlet by the raining of rock and snow overhead.

It was now a race against the mountain.

Soarin' dodged his way along side Dash, the cyan mare barely avoiding her own stone adversaries as the missiles crashed down toward her.

“-inbow!”

Dash jerked her head toward Soarin', barely able to make out the stallion against the roar of the mountain.

The Wonderbolt pointed fiercely ahead.

Eyes forward, Dash made out what appeared to be a small cave against the side of the gorge, the entrance protected by an overhang on the edge of the cliff.

The cyan mare nodded mutely to the Wonderbolt, both pegasi zeroing in on their one shot to make it out alive.

They were only a few hundred hooves out from the small alcove, as both pegasi banked toward the left.

We got this. We're going to make it. Dash drummed through her mind.

The mountain seemed to believe otherwise. A massive crack resonated through the air, a singularly violent tremor racing through the mountain. As if on cue, an enormous boulder broke away from the side of the mountain, thundering down toward the pegasi.

Both pegasi continued to fly unaware. Only a few hoof steps away, Rainbow ears perked up as she glanced overhead. Time seemed to slow as the boulder bounded off the ledge, fully intent on crushing the pegasi.

A single word flashed through Rainbow's mind. No!

In an agonizingly long second Dash turned to Soarin'. The stallion's eyes went wides as he saw the boulder rolling toward them. Locking eyes with the stallion, Rainbow banked hard to the left ramming the Wonderbolt, pushing him into cave. A split second later the massive rock collapsed on the mare, burying her in the snow.

Soarin' rolled several times as he impacted the ground at high speed, finally coming to a painful stop against a wall of ice.

“Rrrgh...” Soarin' groaned, trying to push himself to his hooves.

“R-Rain... Rainbow!” The stallion stuttered, swaying about as he tried to gallop to the edge of the cave. Images of Rainbow Dash trapped under the snow pulled Soarin' from his stupor, as the stallion skidded to a halt at the exit.

“Archon's spit! Rainbow! Can you hear me!” The stallion madly dug his hooves at the snow, ignoring the gashes that were already there. A terrible fear snaked through the stallion as he continued to clear away the snow, his hooves shaking.

“Rainbow, answer me damnit!”

Desperation coursed through the Wonderbolt. Still clawing away through the ice and snow, Soarin' could feel the ethereal tether flail about, madly searching about. There was an absence from before, he could feel it. No longer could he feel the aggressive and angelic presence. No longer could he feel the comforting smile that had watched over him. No longer did he feel Rainbow Dash.

No, Rainbow. You're still there. YOU'RE STILL THERE! The Wonderbolt screamed internally, still digging with wild abandon. His aura suddenly felt weak, incomplete. The connection started to fade.

Soarin' slowed, finally coming to a stop. Dropping to his haunches, the stallion stared ahead, wings splayed outward without regard. No...

The wind howled through the mountain forlornly, the only sound that could be heard.

Soarin' bowed his head in silence. Rainbow Dash. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry...

A monumental tug pulled in the stallion's mind. His aura flared as the Wonderbolt felt the magical connection roar to life excitedly. The renewed power seemed to guide his eyes, settling on a red tuft jutting from the snow.

Soarin' felt his heart jump in his chest.

“Dash!” The stallion scrambled to his hooves, rushing forward.

With renewed strength Soarin' cleared away the snow and rubble. Rainbow Dash lay just outside the impact of the boulder, unconscious.

“Rainbow! I've got you! I've got you!” The stallion babbled between gasps.

Gingerly he lifted the delicate mare from the snow. Beyond several deeps gashes and bruises, the cyan filly seemed amazingly unharmed. Despite this, she was still unconscious.

Sitting down, Soarin' rested Dash against his side, draping a protective wing around the smaller mare. Rainbow's head lay limply against the stallion, her eyes still closed. “Come on Rainbow, wake up! I've got you, you're okay!” The stallion nearly cried. “Please, wake up!”

Holding her close, Soarin' felt for magical bond that connected the two pegasi. It was there. But Rainbow was weak, her aura barely vibrating with the strength and confidence that Soarin' had come to know.

“No way you're backing out now Rainbow Dash.” Soarin' said firmly, gazing down at the stunt mare. “No way you're leaving after all you've done. Not when I've only just gotten to know you.”

The ethereal connection seemed to tighten. Still holding the filly close, Soarin' could feel his aura ignite, his own power, his own warmth traveling to the weakened filly. The stallion could barely contain his excitement as he felt himself strengthen Rainbow. Her aura pulsed. Once. Twice. Three times.

Less than a second later her aura exploded, filling the cold and darkened cave with the strength that Soarin' had so sorely missed.

Immediately Rainbow Dash's eyes shot open. Gasping for breath shakily, the filly desperately grasped at Soarin'. The stallion held her close, a wave of relief washing over him.

Thank the Archon! The Wonderbolt thought thankfully. “I've got you Dash. You're okay... you're okay.”

Dash shivered violently, as Soarin' continued to hold the still very shocked mare. She coughed as her breath still came in gasps. For a minute the two simply remained silent, Dash clinging to the Wonderbolt as her body involuntarily shook.

Soarin' could feel Dash's heartbeat slowly return to normal. Gradually her rattled breaths evened out, becoming more steady.

Feeling the mare move, Soarin' let go, letting the shaken mare get to her hooves.

“Are you okay?”

“Um, yeah, I think so.” Rainbow replied shakily, avoiding the stallion's gaze.

Despite looking away, Soarin' could make out slightly reddened eyes, accompanied by a gentle blush.

“Right. Well.” Rainbow huffed in a sudden agitation, putting some distance between herself and the Wonderbolt. “What happened?”

“That boulder,” Soarin' motioned to the large rock that blocked the entrance of the cave “nearly crushed us. In fact I'm pretty sure that thing landed on top of you. There's no way you...” Soarin' faltered for a moment; his words had nearly been a reality only seconds ago. “There's no way you should have survived that.”

Dash remained silent, but her wide eyed appearance and violent shudder spoke for her. Slowly she turned, staring at where her body had been moments before.

“Yeah... I don't know how... I felt this massive weight suddenly pushing down on me, but I didn't actually feel anything touch me. Really... weird.”

Rainbow looked once more to the large stone, a muted stare on her face. Suddenly she perked up, turning toward the stallion.

“You're not hurt either?”

Realization spread across Soarin's face as he glanced about his body. Aside from a collection of bruises and several cuts, the Wonderbolt was largely unharmed. “Yeah, I guess I already forgot about that. Breaking through the ice and ramming into the wall of the gorge... it's just like you said. I didn't actually feel the impact, just all the grinding. Some kind of... barrier?” The stallion looked to Dash quizzically.

“I don't know. But...” Rainbow paused, seeming to measure her words carefully. “I think I know what might be causing it.”

Soarin's ears twitched up, noting the heavy tone in Rainbow's words. “Like a kind of magic around you?” Soarin' replied, matching Rainbow's statement.

“That you can feel another through, their strength...” Rainbow trailed off, anticipating Soarin's reply.

“Like a presence watching over you.” The stallion grinned, shooting a charismatic grin to the filly. “Like the one that saved me in the tunnel.” Soarin' thought aloud. “It was you, wasn't it?”

Dash smirked, even as the confirmation rushed through her in a tingling sensation. “I felt you too. Right before you blasted me with that cyclone.”

Soarin' grinned sheepishly. “Yeah, sorry about that.” However, a more somber expression overtook the stallion. “So, that means you've felt it too then right? The tension, like-”

“There's something in the back of your mind? Yeah. It's been driving me crazy for the past few weeks. Up until recently, actually.” A thoughtful look overcame Rainbow Dash. “Like right now. It uh, it kind of goes away whenever I'm around you.” Dash admitted awkwardly.

“But its been more than that too.” Rainbow continued. “I've had these, these vision like nightmare things.” The athletic mare paused for a moment, gauging Soarin's reaction. The stallion seemed to hang on Rainbow's words, almost expectantly so. “Almost every time, it's had to do with the Twin Storms.”

“Then, did you talk to somepony? A ghost?”

Rainbow took a deep breath before answering. “Yeah. If a dead pegasus from thousands of years ago talking to you through a book counts.”

Soarin' blanched. “Wow.” The stallion paused for a moment. “At least you didn't have to get into a fight with yours.”

“What?” Rainbow exclaimed in disbelief, staring at the Wonderbolt.

“Er, yeah. Long story short; that little flight I had over Ponyville.”

A heavy silence settled between the two pegasi, the weight of the situation laying thick in the air.

“He will return.” Rainbow quoted quietly, staring ahead sullenly. She looked up toward Soarin'. “Lightning Streak said that. And the storms will come too.”

“Commander Hurricane told me to find two others, and something about saving some kind of legacy.” The Wonderbolt regarded Rainbow Dash with a weak smile. “Guess I can check part of that off.”

Dash ignored the remark, a more frustrated expression overtaking her. “What do we do? Up till now this whole thing has been one big nightmare.”

Soarin' sighed. “We need to sort all this out. I promised Spitfire I would tell her what's been going on these past few days. We can pool what info we have and go from there. Though its only the two of us right now; we still need to find the third pony.”

Rainbow's mind lit up like lightning, Scootaloo immediately coming to mind. No. It still might not be her. She thought hopefully.

“Yeah. But I think we're getting a little ahead of ourselves. If you haven't noticed, we're still stuck in this cave.” Dash replied, gesturing to their stony prison.

“Actually, it looks more like a tunnel.” Soarin' replied, turning toward the darkened rear of the cave.

True enough, far to the back of the cave was the small outline of a tunnel, a cold but gentle breeze breathing forth across the two pegasi.

“Well, we're not getting anywhere just standing around.” Rainbow announced. “Let's see where this thing goes.”

Still somewhat unsteady, Rainbow sauntered past Soarin' toward the rear of the cave. However, despite Dash's bold proclamation, her legs seemed to have other ideas.

Without any indication, Rainbow's legs began to violently shake. “Ah!” The prismatic mare squeaked in surprise as her legs suddenly gave out from underneath her.

Only a hoof step away, Soarin' jumped forward to catch the falling mare, gently propping her up.

“You're still in shock Rainbow. You need to take it easy.”

Rainbow growled in frustration. “Fine. But don't think I'm some damsel in distress or something, got it? I can handle myself.” The stunt mare stated resolutely. “Usually.”

“Perish the thought.” Soarin' replied, an involuntary smile spreading across his face.

In spite of her stubbornness, Rainbow opted to accept Soarin's assistance, if only grudgingly so. With a wing draped over his back, the two pegasi moved toward the tunnel, Soarin' moving slowly for the injured mare.

Rainbow flashed an irritated, if not flushed face toward the stallion. “Not a word to anypony about me being all filly like, got it?”

Soarin' suppressed the urge to laugh. “I promise. Not a word.”

Sighing gratefully, Rainbow took the moment to relax somewhat, resting a little more so against Soarin' as the two continued to walk.

“Stupid legs.” Dash muttered to herself, glancing at her traitorous limbs.

Soarin' simply chuckled lightly to himself.

The two moved in silence through the twisting passage. After what seemed like hours the two battered pegasi came across a massive cavern, nestled within the center of the mountain peak. Streams of light light found their way into the vast subterranean area, peering down from large crevices above. Tiny snowflakes gently cascaded down in the beams of light, helping to illuminate the icy cavern in an almost ethereal glow.

Both pegasi stood in awe of the quiet and still majesty of the shimmering cavern. For a time neither spoke, simply content to admire the vast expanse before them. The cavern seemed to go on forever, sparkling ice lining the grand heights of the subterranean expanse.

“Wow.” Rainbow said silently, her voice in perfect clarity against the backdrop of Pegasi Peak's hidden beauty. Though she had never considered herself a cultured pony like her friend Rarity, Rainbow Dash couldn't help but marvel at the display before her.

“No kidding.” Soarin' added, himself starstruck, peering about the titanic cave. “But at least we've found a way out.” The stallion added, squinting at the light the streaked down from large crevice above.

“Hold on.” Rainbow cut in, stepping forward. “Something feels different. Don't you feel it?”

Soarin' frowned for a moment. “I don't feel anything. What are you-”

“No, not like that.” Rainbow cut off the Wonderbolt. “Like before. Its almost like I can feel other pegasi here. Like when I felt you before.”

Soarin' nodded silently. Closing his eyes, the stallion attempted to tap into his new found power, feeling for the magical aura that had affected him so many times before. Reaching out, the stallion suddenly felt what Dash was talking about. Besides the powerful aura of the mare beside him, Soarin' could make out the dim ambiance of pegasi nearby, despite the duo being the only ponies in the cavern.

“Whoa.” Soarin' said after several seconds, taking some time to assure himself of Rainbow's claim. “But that doesn't make any sense.” The stallion turned to his fellow pegasi, a confused look on his face. “We're the only ones here.”

“Guess we better take a look around.” Rainbow grinned. “That's what Daring Do would do.”

Somewhat surprised by Rainbow's comment, Soarin' trotted ahead to catch up to the eager mare as she made her way across the bottom of the ice covered cavern.

“It's weird. I've felt something similar to this before.” Rainbow said off hoof, still trotting ahead. “Like there are pegasi all around us, but we can't see them.”

Soarin' shivered slightly, suddenly aware of the spooky feelings Rainbow was talking about. Any yet, despite the unnerving feeling of dozens of pegasi around him, the Wonderbolt felt one aura stand out above the rest. The signature was unmistakable.

“I feel them.” Soarin' said shakily, twisting his head about the cavern in paranoia. “But there's something else too. Something stronger. It's Commander Hurricane.”

“Lightning Streak.” Rainbow said flatly, coming to a stop astride of Soarin'. “You're right. I can feel her more than the rest. But why her, and why here?” Rainbow asked rhetorically, bringing a hoof to her muzzle. “Any ideas?”

Now both in the center of the hollowed cavern, Soarin' turned to the rainbow mare. “Well, there are a lot of legends about Pegasi Peak. Supposedly this is where Commander Hurricane and the remaining pegasi initially made their home after leaving Skythus."

“Yeah, but that's just it. That stuff is just a bunch of myths. Stories.”

“Yeah...” Soarin' said thoughtfully, the image of violently amethyst colored eyes coming to mind. “Stories.”

“Well, thinking about it isn't going to get us any answers. Come on Soarin'!” Rainbow called to her companion, clearly impatient.

For a time the two pegasi continued to move forward through the cavern. Yet, as they progressed, the air around them seemed to become thicker, the sensations of nearby pegasi intensifying. Both Soarin' and Rainbow's ears twitched slightly, suddenly aware of the distant whispers that seemed to travel amongst the gentle fall of the snow flakes around them. As if this sudden change was not enough, both pegasi were further enticed by the strengthening presence of their respective herald.

“Hey what's that?” Soarin' pointed ahead. “Just over there. It's looks like something in the cave wall.”

Looking ahead to where Soarin' had gestured, Rainbow took in the view before her. Illuminated by easily the largest beam of light in the cavern, was what appeared to be a raised platform of stone that jutted out from the cave wall. The massive dais easily scaled half the height of the cavern, so much so that neither pegasus could make out what was at the top. At first glance it appeared to be a coincidentally natural formation from years of erosion. But as the two pegasi continued to trek forward, closer inspection proved otherwise.

“These are... stairs?” Rainbow said aloud, stopping at the base of the stairway.

Soarin' peered down at the steps. “Hewn right out of the rock.”

“Oh man, this is just like out of a Daring Do story!” Rainbow Dash exclaimed excitedly.

“Well this is Pegasi Peak. This is where the pegasi first made their home when they made it to Equestria.”

“Geeze Soarin', I didn't know you where such an egghead.” Dash teased, laughingly lightly.

However, the stallion seemed to take no notice, a thoughtful look on his face. “And actually, that would explain a lot. Like why we're feeling these-”

A sudden gust of chilling air blew by the two pegasi, whipping about large cavern. Caught in the abrupt and noiseless wind, the gentle falling of snow flakes swirled throughout. Both pegasi shivered, but it was not the chill in the air that they felt. Whispers traveled amongst the wind, hundreds of half voices calling out at random.

“It's getting stronger.” Soarin' spoke up, failing to suppress the fearful quiver in his voice. “Commander Hurricane... he's here, somehow.”

“Y-yeah. S-same here.” Rainbow chattered, involuntarily scooting closer the Wonderbolt next to her.

“Come on. Whatever this place is, it's got be important. Can you fly?”

Rainbow gingerly extended her wings. “Ow. Yeah, I don't think so.”

Soarin' cringed slightly as he attempted to spread out his wings. “Me neither. Looks like we've got a bit of a climb.”

Dash nodded quickly, falling in step next to the stallion as the two slowly made their way up the icy steps. Darkness enveloped the two pegasi as they climbed, forcing the two to remain close for fear of falling from the treacherous heights. As the pair continued to climb, the swirling of echoing whispers began to fade, and with it the bone chilling wind. The unnatural stillness from before returned, further punctuated by the sightless ascent.

Though the ghostly whispers had faded behind the two trapped pegasi, Soarin' still felt on edge. Thank the Archon for the dark. Soarin' thought. I don't need Rainbow thinking I'm some kind of little colt. However at the thought of the prismatic mare to his side, Soarin' realized how awkwardly silent it had been between the two, only the sound of their hooves echoing throughout the cavern. Maybe I could think of something to say if I didn't feel so rattled. The Wonderbolt pondered. Hmm. Unless...

Keeping pace with the Wonderbolt beside her, Rainbow couldn't help but shiver slightly. Though she had more or less composed herself at the base of the stairs, the sudden return of the ethereal whispers frightened her. Painful memories from the first time she had heard the voices of screaming pegasi streaked through her mind. Thankfully the whispers had remained amongst the winds of the cavern floor bringing some measure of relief to the mare. And though she'd never admit it aloud, having Soarin' nearby had helped ease her still shaken nerves somewhat. Thank Celestia no one can read my mind. Rarity would never let me live it down.

Rainbow gazed ahead, taking note of the small streams of light that began to hazily light their ascent. Though, this is whole thing is still pretty cool. It's like I'm in a Daring Do stor-

Dash froze. Her aura flared momentarily, as Rainbow felt something brush along her strength, channeling it outward. However, it suddenly subsided, as if the intrusion was anything but.

“What in the-” Dash started to exclaim. But her aura again surprised her. Rather than the dormant state that it seemed to stay at, the ethereal power guarding her now almost seemed, happy? Since when does this thing have a mind of its own? Rainbow pondered. It was almost as if it were enjoying the company of another, pulling on Rainbow's own emotions. Which could only mean...

Rainbow's aura gleefully flared again, feeling her own power once again channeling outward.

“Soarin'!” Rainbow exclaimed, calling out in the darkness to the stallion next to her. “What are you doing?!”

The Wonderbolt cringed. Busted. He could feel Dash's wings fidget slightly as his aura brushed against her own.

“Ah, er...” Soarin' stuttered. Despite the darkness, the stallion could feel Rainbow's rose colored eyes boring into him. “Sorry about that Rainbow. I was just trying to ah, relax a bit, so... I uh, just figured I'd try this new ability we got, and uh...”

“You figured you'd play a game of hoofsie with it?!” Rainbow accused the stallion, failing to keep just a hint of laughter from her voice.

Ah ponyfeathers. One heck of a way to break the ice Soarin'. The Wonderbolt thought glumly.

“No, no, no!” Soarin' stammered, trying to dig himself out a deepening hole. “I was just trying to relax, since this magic thing we've got going-”

“Oh, so we've got something going on huh?” Rainbow accused again, grinning. It really was a shame that she couldn't see the expression on the poor stallion's face.

Soarin's mind went numb for a split second. “What?! No! I mean, not like that!” The stallion sighed. “Look I'm sorry. I won't do it without asking again. It just seems important that we practice these new abilities we have.”

“If you say so pal.” Rainbow commented lightly, a playful grin on her face. “But I've got my eyes on you.”

Soarin' was about to reply when his own aura practically jumped out and around him. It was a blow for sure that had hit him, but it held a certain playful attitude about it. The resulting surge of emotion said the rest.

“Hey!” Soarin' exclaimed, turning on the mare beside him, his wing flaring open against Dash “What was that?!”

Though he couldn't see, the Wonderbolt swore he could feel Rainbow's sly smirk upon him.

“Oh, that?” Rainbow replied innocently. “Practice.”

The stallion grinned. “Okay, okay, very funny.”

For a time the silence returned between the two pegasi, but without the awkward tension from before.

Rainbow smiled to herself. Maybe she was acting a little filly-like. But if there was ever a time for it to happen, it might as well have been now. Trapped in an ancient mountain cave with one of the Wonderbolts and the undeniable chance at action and adventure further ahead? It wasn't a mare's typical romance, but then again, Rainbow Dash was hardly the typical mare. I'm practically Daring Do already. Rainbow laughed lightly to herself.

“So, you know a little bit about this place, huh Soarin'?” Rainbow asked the stallion, finally able to see the Wonderbolt within the growing light.

“Yeah I guess you could say that. I've always been a bit of a history buff. Pegasi history to be exact.”

“Wow. I was only joking before, but you really are an egghead.” Rainbow teased.

“Well, I know that Daring Do would take my side.”

Rainbow Dash frowned. Soarin' was clearly playing the wrong game. Rainbow liked to think that she knew Daring Do personally, despite Twilight's talk of 'fictional characters'. There was no way Daring would pick Soarin over her, even if he was a Wonderbolt.

“Really?” The mare challenged in a disbelieving tone. “How do you know she would?”

“Well, for starters,” Soarin' began, a smug look on his face. “Daring Do took an extensive amount of time to research the history of the Hidden Temple of the Griffins in order to find the Emperor's Scepter. And then there was the time she had to decipher the dead language of the Lost Unicorn Tribe to escape the Eternal Cage. Or even when she had follow in the hoofsteps of Commander Hurricane to find the ancient capitol of the ancestor pegasi, Skythus.”

The dumbfounded mare's mouth hung agape, as Rainbow's mind struggled to process what she had just heard.

“You're a fan of Daring Do?! You read Daring Do!?”

Soarin' smiled slyly. “What gave it away?”

“That is entirely too awesome. A Wonderbolt that's into Daring Do like me!” Rainbow nearly squealed in delight. “I take back what I said before about you being an egghead. But, just so we're clear, Daring would still totally team up with me.”

Soarin' laughed. “If you say so Rainbow.”

The two pegasi continued to climb the stony heights of the cavern. The glow from the pillar of light beckoned them forward, growing with every step.

“So.” Rainbow suddenly quipped, turning to Soarin'. “Which is your favorite book?”


Several debates later, the two pegasi neared the summit of the rocky plateau.

“No way.” Dash shook her head dismissively. “No way Daring would do something like that. She'd out smart those Griffins in a heartbeat.”

“Sorry Rainbow, better take a rain check on this one. We're almost at the top.”

Sure enough, the two pegasi had finally scaled the rocky steps. Like the rest of the cavern, the scene was of utter stillness. But where the icy floor was a darkened abyss, the top of the stone table was bathed in a gentle column of light. Sparkling flakes of snow floated down in the light, further spreading the light throughout the mesa.

“Wow.” Soarin' commented softly, slowly crossing into the light.

“Uh, yeah.” Rainbow added without interest. “But there's nothing up here.”

Soarin' pulled his eyes away from the golden rays. True enough, there was nothing before the two pegasi, right up until the stone floor met the cave wall. Only the untouched layer of snow blanketed the area.

“Maybe. Let's take a look around.”

Separating, both pegasi began to circle around the seemingly empty plateau, hoof tracks trailing behind them. But it was a fruitless endeavor. Even the stone wall at the far end of the stony mount failed to provide any clues.

“Ponyfeathers.” Rainbow swore, turning from the rock wall. “All that build up and no payoff.”

“You find anything?” Soarin' called from afar, walking toward the center of the platform.

“Nothing.” Dash replied, making her way to meet the stallion.

“It just doesn't make any sense. This place has to mean something. Why else would have heard all those voic- whoa!”

Soarin' suddenly tripped, falling flat on his face.

Rainbow stifled a chuckle as she reached the embarrassed stallion. “Geeze Soarin', I thought Wonderbolts were supposed to be graceful.” Dash peeked her head down in front of the stallion. “You okay?”

Soarin' stared at the mare flatly, and proceeded to blow a puff of snow in Dash's face.

“Gah!” Rainbow sputtered, flailing backward.

The Wonderbolt got to his hooves smiling smugly. “I'm doing pretty good now, thank you.”

“Ugh.” Rainbow grimaced, rubbing snow from her nose. “Okay. I deserved that.”

Soarin' made no comment, instead turning to where he had fallen.

“Interesting.”

“Huh? What is it?” Rainbow peeked her head around stallion.

Right at Soarin's hooves and past the thin layer of snow was a clear incision in the stone. Evenly chiseled away at an angle, the cut went several inches into the rock.

“Too bad neither of us can fly. It would make things-”

The flourishing of wings cut off the Wonderbolt.

“Well would you look at that.” Rainbow commented lightly, inspecting her wings. “I'll just be sec.”

Soarin' immediately eased his wings to their fullest extent. Any sign of injury was gone. “Hm. Again with the rapidly recovery.” The stallion commented studiously.

Flying close to the ground, Dash zoomed about the plateau. A small blizzard followed a second later, blown about by the mare's wake. In no time at all, the area was cleared of snow, revealing the mystery underneath.

From the air Rainbow Dash took in the sight below her. The cut in the stone turned out to be a simple, but very large circle, taking up nearly two thirds of the stone table. Okay, that's something I guess. Still kinda a rip off though. Rainbow frowned.

The flapping of wings announced Rainbow's fellow pegasi, as Soarin' hovered alongside.

“Oh. Its a circle.” The stallion remarked disappointingly.

“Yeah, I hate to break it to ya Soarin', but I think this whole pegasi history stuff is a dud. I mean, isn't a lot of that stuff just supposed to be a legend?”

Soarin' frowned. “There has to be some reason for this. It's too deliberate. And it can't be a coincidence that its at Pegasi Peak.”

Both pegasi landed at the center of the circle.

“So what else do we do?”

Soarin' took one final look at the simple engraving. Sighing, the stallion turned to his companion.

“Go home I guess. I'm all out of ideas.”

“Sounds good to me. Being underground this long is-”

An icy howl, louder and stronger than either had experienced before, barreled past the two pegasi.

“Whoa!” Soarin' exclaimed. The Wonderbolt was driven backward, his wings caught in the forceful wind. Years of storm flight training kicked in, saving the stallion from being cast off the edge of the cliff.

Rainbow found herself caught in a whirlwind of snow and ice, carrying her up above the stony platform. “What...the...hay?!” The athletic mare grimaced, urging her already worn wings against the freak squall.

Then, as quickly as it came, the violent gust subsided, dissolving in the rest of the cavern.

Soarin' slowly rose to his hooves. “What in Tartarus was that?!”

On the other side of the platform, Rainbow lay on her backside after being unceremoniously dumped out of the air. Rolling to her side, the mare clamored to her hooves. “I have no idea. But what I do know is that this place is nuts!”

“Yeah, lets get outta here.”

The blue stallion started to walk toward the other side of the mountaintop, but froze when his eyes went to the stone floor.

Where the plateau had before been cleared by Rainbow Dash, it now had three perfectly laid stripes of snow. Running parallel to one another, the outside two converged with the center, which ran all the way to the staircase. On the other end, the snow paths stopped at a dead end in the center of the circle.

Rainbow caught sight of the unnerving spectacle as well, her eyes flitting between Soarin' and the phenomena before them.

Without warning, Dash's aura erupted, a powerful sensation overtaking the mare. “Soarin'!” Rainbow called out. “I can feel her. Lightning Streak.”

No sooner had the prismatic mare finished speaking, then Soarin' found his own aura engaged, the steely presence of Commander Hurricane upon him.

“Yeah. I can feel Commander Hurricane too. It's... a lot stronger than before.”

Both stood in rigid anticipation. They didn't have to wait long.

The clopping of hooves cut through the tension like a knife. Both Rainbow and Soarin' remained still, the stark sound of hooves ascending the stony mount echoing louder. The 'steps' reached the top. But there was no pony to fill them. Rainbow Dash and Soarin' simply stared as three sets of hoof prints walked across the snowy carpet. Which each step, the echoing aura of Commander Hurricane, Lightning Streak, and a third unknown presence thundered around the awestruck pegasi. The trio stopped, halting at the end of the icy path. With this, the presences faltered, lowering to just a whisper upon the two explorers' consciousness'.

Soarin' flew over the path, a noticeable quickness in the beat of his wings. The stallion landed lightly next to Rainbow Dash.

“Is that, I mean, is that who I think it is?” Rainbow pointed to one of stationary tracks.

“I'm not sure. Only one way to find out.”

“Yeah.” The mare took a deep breath. “Let's do it.”

Shivering slightly, both pegasi closed their eyes. Their simmering auras calmly emerged, lightly bounding off one another. Rainbow had to resist the magnetic pull that her power seemed to have toward the stallion next to her. Likewise, Soarin' strained to keep his focus on the task at hand, his own aura twisting toward the mare next to him.

Both pegasi suddenly felt a tiny tap against their ethereal power, casting ripples about. Opening their eyes, the pair greeted the culprit. In the center of the circle and right at the end of the snow paths was what appeared to be a hovering orb. It was very still, yet the surface fluctuated and shifted as if it were made of water. And, much like water, the orb appeared semi transparent, a curiously gray haze swirling about within.

“That definitely takes the cake.” Rainbow mumbled, her eyes peeled on the hovering sphere.

The rainbow mare took a step forward, clearly intent on observing up close.

Soarin' nearly grabbed Dash by the tail. “Hold on Rainbow. I don't think we should get too close.”

“Oh come on Soarin'.” Rainbow challenged. “There's no way I'm passing this up after all we've been through. And besides, this thing is practically calling to us? Can't you feel it?”

“Yes...” Soarin admitted grudgingly. Commander Hurricane's presence seemed to spike every time the the orb rippled, the legendary pegasi's aura striking Soarin' like lightning bolts.

The stallion moved alongside the mare, hoping to persuade her otherwise. “But that's all the more reason to be suspicious.”

“Maybe for you. But I'm checking this thing out. Guess you'll just have to tag along if you're going to stick nearby me.” Rainbow replied suavely, winking at the Wonderbolt.

Soarin' rolled his eyes as he move alongside the adventurous filly. Fleetfoot did said something about 'manipulative mares'. Maybe he was onto something. The stallion thought glumly.

The two slowly began to circle the shimmering globe. Approaching the other side, both pegasi peered into the orb.

Simultaneously both Soarin' and Dash were overwhelmed by the unmistakable aura of the pegasi's greatest heroes. But this only served to reinforce the real shock that both explorers now beheld. Just beyond the veil of the smoky water stood the shimmering visage of Commander Hurricane and Lightning Streak, as if the two pegasi were standing just a few hooves away.

Both Rainbow Dash and Soarin' stood rigid, unable to tear their eyes from thousands of years that was only a step away. Commander Hurricane and Lightning Streak seemed to be flesh and blood, more real than either the cyan mare or the Wonderbolt had encountered up to that point.

“Soarin'.” Rainbow started, disbelief etched on her face. “Are you seeing this?”

“Y-yeah.”

The seconds ticked by as neither mare nor stallion could pull away from the image before them. Though they seemed real, both Commander Hurricane and Lightning Streak appeared frozen. Even the landscape behind them seemed to ignore passage of time, tiny flakes of snow suspended in the air.

Without warning Rainbow raised a hoof, moving forward to the liquid window as if in a daze.

“Rainbow! Wait!” Soarin' barely had time to exclaim.

Unfortunately the stallion was too late to restrain the mare. Dash's hoof barely grazed the floating orb, a gentle ripple rolling across it's surface. For a moment, the orb seemed to only oscillate, the small waves dissipating. The stony plateau was suddenly deathly quiet, the random howling of wind through the tunnels absent. Even the light seemed to be still.

Soarin' held his breath, transfixed in anticipation by the surreal object in front of him. Rainbow lowered her hoof mechanically, taking a step back next to the Wonderbolt. She too was tense, her eyes not once leaving the anomaly.

The last ripple crawled upon the watery window. Then all was still. No longer did the sphere gently hum. It appeared smooth like a marble. The inside continued to shift and flow about, but smoky haze was changing. Slowly the orb began to clear, steadily becoming transparent.

A moment later, Soarin' and Rainbow Dash beheld the whole form of Commander Hurricane and Lightning Streak.

Both ancient pegasi blinked.

The two explorers barely had time to breath as the sphere soundlessly expanded a hoof all around. Then again. And again.

“Soarin'! Run!”

Both pegasi turned to run, but the warning came too little too late. The orb exploded, the spherical wave enveloping Rainbow, Soarin' and the entire cave in the blink of an eye.

Rainbow stopped abruptly as she witnessed the wave overtake her and pass through the cave wall. She had expected water to come crashing down upon her. Instead the orb had passed through her like a rattling breath, instead bathing the world around her in shades of gray. Even her own coat and mane were bereft of color.

What in the hay is going on? Rainbow thought, inspecting her bland tinted coat. Looking to her left Rainbow found Soarin' seemed to be thinking the same, glancing about himself.

“Should I even say it?” Dash said aloud.

The Wonderbolt looked to the mare. “Uh, no I think we're good.”

“Is this really necessary?”

Both Soarin' and Rainbow Dash nearly jumped out of their skin, whirling about.

In the center of the stone table, Commander Hurricane and Lightning Streak stood aside of one another, garbed in armor and focusing intently on a large stone slab. The hazy outline of a pony stood in the third place next to the stallion commander, its identity shrouded by the wisps of gray smoke.

“Entirely.” Commander Hurricane replied flatly, not turning from the task before him.

Rainbow Dash and Soarin' stood very still. Neither of the two legendary pegasi before them had noticed their presence.

“I don't think they can hear us.” Soarin' dared to speak.

There was no reaction from Hurricane or Lightning Streak.

Rainbow leaped in air, flying directly in front of the ancient pegasi. She proceeded to shake a hoof in front of the pair's eyes, drawing no reaction from them.

“Looks like they can't see us either.” Rainbow called back.

Soarin' ignored Rainbow's impulsiveness, instead choosing to get closer to the two military heroes.

“I just don't see the need.” Lightning Streak announced again. “We won! The threat has been dealt with.”

“On the surface, yes.” Hurricane replied calmly, turning to his Lieutenant. “But I shouldn't have to remind you of the power of an Archon.”

A whisper suddenly emanated from the hazy visage, almost like a voice moving in and out of an echo.

“Yes, I do.” Commander Hurricane stated resolutely, regarding the smoky persona beside him.

“Sir, with all due respect, you need to let this go. What happened was a tragedy for sure. But you can't keep blaming yours-”

“I will blame myself!” Commander Hurricane suddenly shouted, rounding on the mare next to him. The large stallion glared for a moment at Lightning Streak, before composing himself. “Far too many and far too much was lost because of me. I will do everything in my power to prevent Typhonis from returning.”

Again the half words floated just outside Soarin' and Rainbow Dash's ability to hear, as Commander Hurricane once again turned to the haze beside him.

The larger stallion grimaced. “The Royal Sisters mean well. And I do truly believe that they will lead this new nation to prosperity. But there are some things that they are not and will not be equipped to deal with.”

The stallion returned to the slab in front of him, gazing at it solemnly. “As to your question of our own mortality, that is why we are here. To ensure that the future will be ready.”

Commander Hurricane rose a single hoof, drawing his distinctive dual bladed weapon. “Now come, focus your legacies. I will do the rest.”

Lightning Streak complied, closing her eyes. Her helm began to glow lightly, a collection of light emanating just above her brow.

A similar glow emanated from the center of the hazy figure, gathering in a similar manner.

Commander Hurricane closed his eyes. Slowly his bladed hoof began to glow.

Rainbow Dash and Soarin' suddenly felt immense surge of power, unlike any they had felt before. It flared around and about their aura's, each of which were thrown into a frenzy, trying to tap into the radiating power. But while the two pegasi felt the ethereal force released before them, it passed through like an echo.

Both the Wonderbolt and stunt mare shared a worried glance, shrinking back from the scene before them.

Immediately the light from Lightning Streak and the hazy figure shot toward their commander, pooling around his hoof. A second later the light shot in a single beam toward the stone slab, bathing the stone in a magical glow.

“May this aid those who come after us.” Commander Hurricane whispered, guiding the light that radiated from his blades. “That they will be worthy of this power.” The light intensified, spilling out into the engraved circle on the mesa.

Rainbow Dash and Soarin' ducked low, bringing their wings up to shield their eyes. The light continued to intensify, luminous walls shooting up from the circled groove.

“And preserve the legacy.”

The light suddenly exploded all around the ancient pegasi. The massive ball of light lit the entire cavern, casting stark rays from the loftiest heights to the depths below. It engulfed Commander Hurricane and Lightning Streak, accompanied by surreal waves of power that continued to hammer all around the Rainbow Dash and Soarin'.

The brilliant sphere made one final surge, rivaling Celestia's sun. Then it winked out, leaving the Wonderbolt and the stunt mare temporarily blinded.

Slowly sight returned to the two pegasi.

“Ugh.” Soarin' groaned, clutching his head. With some difficulty, the stallion rose to his hooves. “You okay?”

“Yeah.” Rainbow grunted, rising from the ground.

Both pegasi turned back to the center of the mountain. No trace of Commander Hurricane or Lightning Streak was left. The snow paths were gone and along with them the mysterious hoof tracks. However, in their place was something that had not been there before. The large stone slab lay in the center of the circle, a fading glow glinting off its surface.

The duo mutely walked over toward the stone block, staring at the shimmering surface. Various unknown markings were etched in the surface.

The two pegasi turned to one another.

“What was that?” Soarin' stated rhetorically.

“A memory.” Rainbow replied.

Soarin' gazed at the mare curiously. “A memory? How can you be sure?”

“I can't prove it, but the way that power moved around us. I could feel it, but it was like feeling the wind from a storm. I could feel it around me, but not directly.”

“I guess that makes sense.” Soarin' said, still unsure about the whole situation. Though he had felt the same sensations that Rainbow had described.

“Well, memory or not, we've got bigger things to deal with right now.”

Rainbow sighed. “Yeah. No kidding. Were they talking about us? About the future?”

“It would seem so.” Soarin' replied, turning his gaze to the stone before him. “This stone has something to do with it.”

Rainbow moved closer to the slab, peering down at the markings. “I've never seen these before. Are we supposed to read it?”

Soarin' took a closer look. “I've never seen them either. But...”

“What?”

The stallion grinned. “I think I may have an idea. Stand over there.” The stallion pointed to where Lightning Streak had been moments ago.

Rainbow complied, as Soarin' took up his own spot in the center.

“Alright. Tap into your power. See if you can reach out to the stone.”

Dash nodded. Closing her eyes, she found her aura within her, gently reaching forward.

Next to her, Soarin' did the same. He could feel around the stone, his ethereal power sensing the residual power upon the block from Commander Hurricane.

“Is anything happening?” The cyan mare asked excitedly, her eyes still closed.

The Wonderbolt opened his eyes. The stone remained unchanged.

“Huh. I could have sworn that was going to work.”

Rainbow opened her eyes. “What? After all that!” The mare fluttered into the air in frustration. “That big speech about trying to help the future and avert a disaster, and all we get is a dumb rock with some stupid symbols that doesn't do anything?!”

Soarin' sighed. “Well, either we're not the ones they were talking about, or we didn't do it the right way.”

“What do you mean?” Rainbow asked, a tinge of worry in her voice. For some reason, she was afraid of what Soarin' was about to say.

“I mean we didn't do it just like they did.” The Wonderbolt stated. “There was another pony with Commander Hurricane and Lightning Streak. Whoever the third one is, we need to find them.

Rainbow landed haphazardly, fear shooting through her. Images of Scootaloo came to mind once again. By the Archon, please don't let it be her.

“Yeah. I guess so.” Rainbow stated dismissively, trying to change the subject. “So now what do we do?

“Go back.” Soarin' looked up toward the light that peeked down from the crevice overhead. “We've got a lot to figure out.”

“You can say that again. I don't know how Daring Do does it.”

Soarin' smiled at the mare's humorous comment. Despite everything that had transpired, Dash still found a way to lighten the mood.

“Not to worry Rainbow Dash.” Soarin' said in mock arrogance, jumping into the air. “Should you find yourself unsure of what to do or in danger, you'll always have Daring's number one ally, Soarin' the Wonderbolt.”

“In your dreams bud.” Dash came back coyly, joining the stallion in the air.

The Wonderbolt simply laughed.

Flying side by side, Soarin' and Rainbow Dash reached the large crevice overhead, leaving the cavern and Pegasi Peak behind.

Ch. 9: Advice and Acrobatics

View Online

Legacy of the Pegasi:

Ch. 9: Advice and Acrobatics

Scootaloo sat patiently upon a lone cloud, high up within the Skyfield. Her gaze remained locked on the horizon, remaining alert for any sign of returning pegasi, any speck against the sky or even the gentle whisper of flapping wings. Though she remained relatively still, her wings would occasionally twitch and fidget, along with the violent sashaying of her tail, barely containing her frustration. So too did her ears pivot about, joining her amethyst eyes as they scanned the horizon.

It had been several hours since Rainbow Dash and Soarin' had raced off toward Pegasi Peak, Celestia's sun now well into it's afternoon descent. Initially the copper pegasus wasn't worried; Rainbow Dash had done far more dangerous things than a simple race, and Soarin' was a Wonderbolt. There was no reason to believe that the two couldn't handle themselves. However, as time crept from late morning into early afternoon, Scootaloo couldn't help but worry for her friend.

The copper pegasus frowned, pawing at the cloud below her, as she tried to chase away the doubtful thoughts.

“You okay kiddo?”

Scootaloo turned around. Spitfire lounged lazily behind her, forehooves resting behind her head. The Wonderbolt Captain had opted to remain with Scootaloo, dismissing the rest of the Wonderbolts to Ponyville.

“Yeah. I mean, not really... I dunno.”

Spitfire simply raised a brow at the younger pegasus.

Scootaloo sighed, moving to sit alongside the yellow mare. “I just got a bad feeling.”

“Bad feeling huh?” Spitfire echoed.

“Kinda like one I guess.” The copper filly seemed unsure. “I can't explain it, but I just know something's wrong. I can feel it somehow. Like I should be doing something, but I don't know what.”

“Don't worry Scootaloo.” Spitfire reassured the younger pegasus. “Soarin' and Rainbow can take care of themselves.”

The teenaged filly shot a curious look at the Wonderbolt.

Spitfire rolled her eyes. “Okay, so Soarin' can take care of himself most of the time. And it sounds like Rainbow knows a thing or two about being in a tight spot.”

“Yeah. You're right.” Scootaloo replied wistfully, not entirely reassured by Spitfire's words. “No reason to worry.”

Silence settled between the two pegasi. Scootaloo continued to glance to the horizon, if only slightly more at ease.

Abruptly, Spitfire jumped to her hooves, stretching her wings out.

“So, what's your story?”

Scootaloo was taken aback by the sudden question. “My story?”

“Yeah, ya know. Tell me a thing or two about yourself. Didn't really get a chance earlier. All I really know is you're Dash's friend and you know how to talk some sense into a certain Wonderbolt Captain.” Spitfire finished, grinning at the younger pegasus.

“Ah, well, heh. Just trying to help out.” Scootaloo replied meekly, beaming at the compliment. The young mare's heart suddenly started to hammer, fully aware of the legendary pegasus' casual interest in her. “Um, well. There's not much to tell...” The copper pegasus started timidly, but quickly caught herself. “But there's some awesome stuff too!” She added quickly.

Spitfire simply smiled warmly, waiting for the teenager to continue.

“I've lived in Ponyville all my life with my parents. Rainbow Dash taught me how to fly, and she's pretty much my big sister. So there's two awesome things.”

“Oh is that all?” Spitfire replied glibly, feigning disappointment.

“N-no!” Scootaloo blurted out.

The younger pegasus thought for a moment. “I'm probably the only pony you'll ever meet that can pull off tricks like I can on my scooter. I was kinda of a late bloomer when it came to flying, so I got really good a doing all kinds of sick stunts on the ground.”

“I can believe it. But your cutie mark doesn't seem to have anything to do with scooters.”

“Oh, how could I forget? How I learned my talent!” The pegasus spoke excitedly, eager to share another story with the Wonderbolt. “But yeah, you're right, my talent doesn't have anything to do with scooters. But it sure as hay helped me get it.”

Spitfire looked at the younger pegasus curiously, but remained silent.

“When I got my mark was probably one of the coolest things to ever happen.” Scootaloo could feel the adrenaline starting to course through her wings as the memory came to her. “It was a little while after Dash had started helping me with speed training. I was in the Skyfield Grand Prix, Ponyville's own sky race, and my first.”

The copper filly began to pace about, lost in the moment of the memory.

“I'd never been so nervous in my life. I was standing on the start line, just a little ways over there.” Scootaloo gestured across to the lower edge of the Skyfield. “The race took us all over the course, through three different levels. I held my own during the speed and slalom parts, but the last part is where I really blew 'em away.”

Scootaloo unconsciously hovered into the air, caught up in crux of her story.

“I was in third as we made it to the obstacle course. I'd never had anything go more perfectly before in my life. Every barrier, every tunnel and hairpin turn, I nailed 'em all.” The copper pegasus beamed again, filled with pride. “All those years I practiced on my scooter kinda gave me an edge; I knew exactly how to pull off every stunt.” The filly landed in front of Spitfire, a wide grin on her face. “I even came up with a few new moves right on the spot. Nothing before that had ever felt so natural. Everypony else seemed to think the same when I blew past the finish line ahead of all the other racers.”

“Stunt flying huh?” Spitfire questioned.

Scootaloo shrunk slightly at the question, somewhat unsure. Had she overstepped her bounds by suggesting that her talent would make her a Wonderbolt? “Uh, well yeah. I mean I'm no Wonderbolt, but I'm getting better. Dash has been helping me a lot.”

The Wonderbolt Captain mutely moved alongside the copper pegasus, a studious look on her face. She glanced down at Scootaloo's wings.

“Hmm...” Spitfire hummed in concentration.

What is she do-

Spitfire spread the younger filly's wing outward, continuing to examine it.

Scootaloo froze, unsure what to make of the Wonderbolt's actions. Is she, examining my wings? “Uh, Spitfire, what are you d-”

Spitfire sighed loudly, shaking her head. “I'm sorry Scootaloo.”

The younger mare's excitement suddenly plummeted. Was there something wrong with her wings? Was Spitfire about to tell her that she would never make it as a stunt pegasi? Forever doomed to a life where her talent played no part?

“W-what's wrong with my wings?” Scootaloo stammered. “Is it because I started flying late? A-are they too small? Did I-”

Spitfire suddenly burst out laughing, nearly falling over onto the cloud. “I'm just messing with ya kiddo! You can't tell a stunt flier by their wings. It's all about how you use 'em.”

Scootaloo stared dumbly at the Wonderbolt for a moment, before a large smile appeared on her face. Accompanied by it were waves of relief, and a strangely comforting atmosphere between herself and the yellow pegasus before her.

“Ya know,” Scootaloo grinned wryly, “if you had done that to any other pony, they might have gotten mad. Especially if they had just told you how they got their talent.”

“Maybe. If they were a unicorn, or an earth pony. But you're a pegasus. Tough. Like me, Soarin' and Rainbow Dash.”

There was a slight twinge in the back of Scootaloo's mind, but she barely noticed it against the camaraderie of her fellow pegasus.

“Besides,” Spitfire continued, “us Wonderbolts are all a bunch of pranksters. It's one of the few ways we stay sane with the crazy stuff we have to do.”

“Guess I've got some catching up to do.” Scootaloo shot a mischievous look at the Wonderbolt Captain.

“I'm sure Rainbow Dash can help you with that.”

A more thoughtful look suddenly overtook the elder mare.

“Don't worry too much Scootaloo. You may have gotten your wings a little later than everypony else, but hard work and commitment are what really make a Wonderbolt. Not to mention you've got Rainbow Dash helping you out, so you're already ahead of the game.”

“You're darn right she is!”

Both Spitfire and Scootaloo whirled about in surprise.

A short distance away Rainbow Dash and Soarin' flew toward the two waiting pegasi.

Scootaloo started to call out in excitement to her returning mentor, but caught herself. Immediately she knew something was wrong, zeroing in on the shaky and wobbly flight of the returning pegasi.

Scootaloo glanced worriedly toward Spitfire. The elder pegasus simply frowned.

Finally the two pegasi alighted onto the small cloud with their waiting friends. Scootaloo couldn't help but gasp aloud, as she rushed to the cyan mare's side.

“Rainbow Dash! You're hurt!” The copper pegasus frantically surveyed the various bruises and cuts that covered Rainbow's body. “What happened?!”

“Oh, I can't wait to hear this one.” Spitfire commented flatly, eying Soarin's wounds.

Rainbow Dash grimaced slightly, turning to Soarin' briefly. The stallion simply shrugged, at a loss.

“Uh, well, the thing is...” The cyan mare started lightly.

“We were racing, like I planned...” Soarin' added, avoiding Spitfire's stare.

“And we made to Pegasi Peak and all, but uh, we sorta...” Rainbow scrunched up her face, fully aware that she was only delaying the inevitable.

Soarin' was faring no better. “We sorta, uh kinda...”

“Out with it.” Spitfire cut in sharply.

“Caused an avalanche?” Both Soarin' and Rainbow replied to the Wonderbolt Captain quickly. The pair stood like a scolded colt and filly before an angry parent, wearing terribly innocent smiles in the hope of getting off easy.

Scootaloo's jaw dropped. Spitfire's expression hardened slightly, her eyes zeroing directly on Soarin'. But before the yellow mare could speak, Rainbow Dash stepped forward.

“Hold on Spitfire. This wasn't Soarin's fault.”

Rainbow glanced back at the stallion, who stared quizzically at the cyan mare.

“Okay so maybe some of it was his. But it was mostly me.” Rainbow confessed to Spitfire, doing her best to hold her ground. “If I hadn't flown the way I did, Soarin' wouldn't have been forced to do what he did.”

Scootaloo stood in rigid attention, waiting for Spitfire's reply. Please don't be mad at her! The younger pegasus mentally pleaded. What if she doesn't let Rainbow into the Wonderbolts? What if-

Spitfire let out a tired sigh, turning instead to Soarin'. “Just add this to the list of stuff you're going to tell me tonight.”

“R-right!” Soarin' stuttered slightly, perking up in relief.

“That sounds like a great idea!” Rainbow agreed adamantly, eying the shocked expression of the youngest pegasi.

“Later?!” Scootaloo exclaimed. “This is too important to wa-”

“You heard the Wonderbolt Scoots!” Rainbow stepped between Spitfire and the copper filly. “We're fine!” The cyan mare shot a steely look at her friend. “No reason to be asking questions right now!”

Scootaloo scowled. “Hmph. Fine.”

“So. You were talking to Scootaloo about something?” Soarin' asked lightly, hoping to change the subject.

“I was just getting to know her. Sounds likes she's got some stunt flying in her future.” The yellow mare shot a quirky look in Rainbow's direction. “Better watch out Dash. You might have some competition.”

Scootaloo resisted the urge to smile, an unsure look on her face as she glanced toward Rainbow.

But instead of a frown or witty reply, Rainbow only smiled. The cyan pegasus moved astride of the younger flier, draping a wing over her. “She just might be.” Dash pulled the copper pegasus into a one wing hug. “But I gotta make sure she's good and trained up before that.”

For the second time that day, Scootaloo beamed under the praise of a legendary pegasus.

Spitfire nodded at the duo, moving toward the edge of the cloud. “I think I'm going to call it a day.” The Wonderbolt Captain took a moment to peer across the horizon towards Ponyville, then glanced toward Soarin'. “We'll link up later. There's a lot we need to talk about.”

Soarin' nodded, but the yellow pegasus had already left, not waiting for a reply.

Rainbow stepped toward the stallion. “What's up?”

“Spitfire? Oh, well, I kinda told her I would fill her in on all the... stuff... that's been going on.”

Rainbow visibly cringed a split second before Scootaloo erupted.

“There's something going on?!” The copper mare jumped in between her elders. “What is it?” She all but demanded.

Neither Rainbow nor Soarin' spoke. Dash tried to hide her flinch, but it was already too late. Soarin' simply shifted between the two pegasi, unsure if he had said something wrong.

Scootaloo glared at Rainbow. “It's related to back with the race and Pegasi Peak isn't it?”

“Scootaloo...” Rainbow started slowly, trying to placate her friend.

“Don't you want me to help? You said that you needed my help with whatever was going on, right?”

“I did say that.”

“Great!” The copper pegasus announced happily. “So, what's-”

“But,” Rainbow interrupted “we don't even know if there is a problem, so for right now, don't worry about it.”

Dash stared firmly down at the younger pegasus to drive home her point. Scootaloo held her ground for a moment, clearly opposed to the idea of staying in the dark. However, her gaze eventually fell, grudgingly accepting the elder pegasus' wishes.

“Fine.” Scootaloo said tersely. “But don't think that I'm just going to sit around forever when I could be helping.”

Rainbow Dash didn't reply, to which Scootaloo took as a silent acceptance. Good. She knows that one way or another, I'm going to figure out what's going on. I just wish I knew why they won't tell me now.

The scene was awkwardly quiet for a moment, tense feelings still lingering in the air. Soarin' stepped forward hoping to change the subject.

“So Scootaloo,” the stallion started lightly, “I know we've met a few times before, but we've never really had a proper introduction.”

The stallion outstretched a hoof. “I'm Soarin'.”

It seemed as if every heroic and amazing pegasi had suddenly decided to take an interest in the copper mare, if only casually. Even so, Scootaloo couldn't help but waver slightly as Soarin' looked kindly down at her. She felt an involuntary flutter in her stomach as a nervously silly smile spread across her face. It was only then that she realized she had been gawking up at the stallion, who easily stood well over a head above her.

Rainbow Dash brought a hoof to face.

Ah ponyfeathers! The younger pegasus mentally cursed. Quickly she extended a hoof, bumping her smaller own awkwardly to Soarin's much larger hoof. “Uh, yeah nice to meet you. I'm, uh I'm Sco-”

“She's Scootaloo!” Rainbow said quickly. “Sheesh.”

Scootaloo shied away for a moment, somewhat embarrassed by the exchange. Soarin' simply chuckled, clearly bemused.

“Come on, lets get out of here.” Rainbow spoke in a tired voice. “My wings are killing me.”

All three pegasi departed from the small cloud, flying astride from one another.

Scootaloo was silent as she flew alongside Dash. Her thoughts again drifted to the so called 'problem' that Rainbow, Soarin' and even Spitfire were aware of. Scootaloo wasn't the smartest pony, but she was observant, and outside of Rainbow and Soarin's odd behavior in the past few days, there hadn't been anything to suggest something was up. The only thing that could even be described as out of the ordinary were the vague and bothersome mental scratches that seemed to arise from time to time, but even that was a stretch by Ponyville standards. Scootaloo frowned. Ah the hay with it. I'll just go with it and see what happens.

“So you and Spitfire were getting along pretty good huh?”

The teenager glanced toward Rainbow. The cyan mare kept her face forward, but Scootaloo could tell from the tone in her voice that Dash was trying remedy their earlier argument.

“Yeah. She basically wanted to know how awesome I was.” Scootaloo replied brashly. “So I told her how I learned my talent.”

“How exactly was that?” Soarin' queried, peeking from across Dash.

Rainbow Dash shot the stallion an annoyed look that screamed 'why did you have to ask'.

Scootaloo simply grinned. Looking skyward, the teenager scoped out a multitude of wispy cirrus clouds, collected in the upper reaches of the sky. Scootaloo racked her brain, trying to recall her weather studies. Looks like cirrus uncinus and cirrus radiatus. Perfect.

“I think its better if I just show you.”

Rainbow groaned aloud. “Scoots, I don't really think now's the best ti-”

“Too late!” Scootaloo announced gleefully, sticking her tongue out at Dash as she shot into the upper reaches of the atmosphere.

Rainbow Dash sighed.

“What's the big deal?” Soarin' asked. “She just wants to show off her talent. What pegasus doesn't want to do that?”

“Oh she'll do more than just show you, believe me.” The cyan mare stated flatly. “Arrogant little showoff.” Rainbow added, trying to suppress a small smile.

“Arrogant and a showoff huh?” Soarin' commented lightly, glancing at Rainbow. “Now where in Equestria could she have picked up that from?” The stallion added sarcastically.

Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes. “Oh, shut up you. Just watch.”

Continuing to fly at a leisurely pace, both pegasi looked up, just as a copper and amethyst hued pegasus reached the wispy clouds above.


Scootaloo hovered in place, gazing down at the misty expanse several hundred feet below her. She took a moment to survey the layout before her, mapping her route out. The array of cirrus clouds stretched across the sky in varying dashes and curls, the entire field shifting about in the gentle breeze.

A moment later the filly clasped her hooves together, a satisfied grin on her face. “Alright. Here we go!”

Scootaloo shot downward, diving like a meteor toward the cloudscape below her. Though it was gravity that granted her speed, the copper pegasus still beat her wings in deliberate, powerful strokes, wresting control from the invisible force. The wind howled against her face, sounding like a thunderous barrage around her. It assaulted her eyes, the edge of her vision tearing up into a blur. But she was not to be deterred. Barring her teeth in a belligerent growl, Scootaloo refocused her efforts, zeroing her sight on the wispy tail end of a cirrus cloud.


Several hundred feet below, Soarin' continued to watch. A slight frown slowly appeared on the stallion's face as he analyzed the younger pegasus' flight.

The stallion raised a hoof against the sun, eying the copper pegasus with concern. “She's diving at an extremely reckless angle. You sure you know what's she's doing?”

Rainbow snorted. “If you're worried about that, then you better keep watching.”

Soarin' raised a brow at the cyan mare, but said nothing. Instead he set his eyes on the rapidly descending pegasus. She appeared to be heading toward the edge of a vast cloudscape, the stallion reasoned, but at that speed, she would end up obliterating the cloud.

Soarin' squinted, trying to make out the Scootaloo's intended target. A wispy cirrus cloud. It didn't even matter if she was going too fast or not; there was no way that feather of a cloud could support her. Just what was she playing at?

The Wonderbolt almost opened his mouth to voice his concern again, but all questions were dashed from his mind at the sudden change above.

Scootaloo angled her wings slightly, finalizing her trajectory on the tail end of the cirrus cloud below her. Perfect. Only seconds remained as she patiently waited, the mad beating of her heart pounding at her chest.

Then without any outward warning, Scootaloo snapped her wings shut, willfully entering into free fall.

Below, Soarin' instinctively made a move for the plummeting Scootaloo.

“Soarin', wait!”

“Rainbow, something's wrong!”

“No! It's fine. Really. Trust me.”

The Wonderbolt quickly glanced at Rainbow. She wasn't worried. She wouldn't let her friends do anything dangerous. He could feel her urging him to trust her; a calming strength from her. All in a split second.

So he did, instead turning skyward. Concern still etched itself on Soarin's face. But he held to Rainbow's trust, waiting for the display above.


Scootaloo grinned to herself, reveling in the rampant adrenaline that pulsed through her. She barreled downward toward her target, hooves outstretched as she battled against the pressure of the howling wind around her. The uncertainty of her chaotic descent fueled her focus, as she rapidly approached the miniscule cloud. Only seconds remained as she prepared herself; a moment too late and she would fail.

It was the kind of challenge she relished.

In the blink of an eye Scootaloo was upon the cloud. She flourished her wings out forcefully, leveling herself out at the last second as she approached the cirrus cloud.

A split second later the teenaged mare outstretched all four hooves and closed her wings, skidding along onto the tiny tuft of vapor.

Taking advantage of her tremendous momentum, Scootaloo leaned low, grinding along the cloudy path, the tiny cloud erupting into puffs of nothingness behind her as she careened forward.

The copper pegasus barely had time to congratulate herself on her performance, as the end of her cloudy trail rapidly approached.

Instead of surprise, Scootaloo only found another challenge, one of many that the young mare knew she would ace.

A second before her path disappeared beneath her, the copper pegasus eyed a lengthy trail of vapor. The tail end of a cirrus radiatus floated just to her left, barely overlapping with her current trail. It all required precise timing, but to Scootaloo it simply came as instinct.

The copper pegasus jumped just as her cloudy rail disappeared beneath her, thrusting her wings in a hard downward motion that flipped her up and over the gap. Still moving at a tremendous speed, Scootaloo snapped her wings shut once more, dropping expertly onto the stringy cloud.

Immediately she was carried into a corkscrew by the cirrus cloud. Leaning low, Scootaloo pushed herself forward with a momentary thrust of her wings, shooting into the spiral.

“WOOHOO!” The copper mare let out a cheer as she continued to speed along the helix.

Seconds later the cloud began to tighten within itself, spinning the pegasus about at an increasing rate. Gritting her teeth, Scootaloo forced herself to focus against the dizzying effect. She strained her eyes against the wind, trying to catch the end of the wispy trail. Despite the rapid spinning of the world around her, the copper filly made out the end of the trail; the strand actually turned in on itself, leading into a wall of cloud.

Ah crud.

Bracing for impact, Scootaloo barreled into the cloud. A soundless explosion of vapor erupted outward, momentarily obscuring the copper pegasus from sight. Then, out of the billowing cloud, she burst forth. Careening through the air at an incredible rate, Scootaloo kept her wings closed, instead sailing into a gradual backward flip. Her dramatic launch from the twisting cloud propelled her high above the cloudscape, giving the pegasus precious seconds to observe the layout before her, even as the sky and the ground switched places.

The world righted itself as Scootaloo snapped her wings out and back, making the necessary micro adjustments to her trajectory.

The copper pegasus landed onto a short cirrus wisp, no more than ten hooves in length. In the blink of an eye Scootaloo was airborne again, flipping with winged thrusts to another cloudy rail. And another. And another. And another. Again and again she vaulted from the terribly brief cirrus uncinus clouds, sometimes landing on her right hooves, sometimes upright on her haunches. The thrill of uninterrupted reaction and satisfaction of success after success pushed the young mare onward, daring the floating course to challenge her further.

In one final jump Scootaloo landed onto a rapidly declining straightaway. And now for the finale. The copper pegasus thought to herself, grinning. Leaning as low as her legs would allow, Scootaloo focused on the end of her cloud, a near vertical ramp into the sky. The wind blared around her at any increasing rate, as her mane whipped around her violently. Tears once more clouded her vision, but Scootaloo remained stalwart.

Though she knew what was going to happen, Scootaloo still felt her heart in her throat as she flew like a slingshot into the sky, vaulted from the abrupt ascent at the end of the cloud. Up and over her hooves went, once, twice, three times she flipped. Eventually she reached the crest of her stunt, reveling in the momentarily stall as she evened out from her flips, gazing toward the unending sky above.

But it could only be a second. Scootaloo felt herself dropping downward, the thrill of a rapid descent awaiting her. For several seconds she lay limply in free fall, her hooves dangling skyward as clouds shot above her.

A smile stretched across the young mare's face, as she abruptly whipped her right wing outward. Borrowing the move from Rainbow Dash, Scootaloo's wing caught the wind, forcefully flipping her over. Her other wing began to sweep outward to right the pegasus from her spin, but even as she did so, Scootaloo was already twisting her body downward. By the time the she had reoriented herself to the world, Scootaloo was well on her way to a vertical dive, her wing swept back to maintain balance.

Out of the corner of her eye the copper mare spotted Rainbow Dash and Soarin', both pegasi resting on a low lying cloud a short distance away. A wicked grin spread across Scootaloo's face as an idea suddenly came to mind. Shifting slightly, the younger pegasus put herself inline with the two pegasi.

I think it's time to buzz the tower.


Soarin' eyes were peeled at the descending pegasus, but concern was no longer in the forefront of his mind. Instead, his mouth was somewhat absently ajar, as the stallion tried to comprehend what he had just seen.

“Yeah, I have to admit, its pretty impressive.”

The Wonderbolt turned to Rainbow Dash. Genuine pride marked the mare's features, as she looked beyond Soarin' to the sky.

“Even I can't pull off moves like that. Probably something you'd only pick up if you were kickin' it on a scooter.”

“No kidding. I've never seen anything like it.”

The stallion turned back to admire the skyscape. Scootaloo's handiwork was apparent, embodied by a singular zigzagging path of littered clouds.

Rainbow frowned slightly. “Hey. It's not that impressive.”

Soarin' chuckled. “What's wrong Dash? Jealous?”

“Me? Jealous? No way.” The cyan pegasus grinned. “I'm just awesome.”

Soarin' rolled his eyes. He was about to tease the mare further, but caught the sudden frown on her face.

“Scoots you little daredevil, you better not...”

“Huh? What's wrong?” Soarin' asked, turning around to find the copper pegasus.

He didn't even need to try. No sooner had the stallion rounded about, then a blazing blur of copper and amethyst streaked past. Less than a second later a swirling torrent of wind crashed into the pegasi and their cloud, buffeting the collection of vapor and its passengers about violently.

Both pegasi gripped their tiny anchor, but found themselves upended by the windy carnage that assaulted them.

Soarin' groggily got to his hooves, swaying slightly. Rainbow followed suit, spitting tufts of cloud from her mouth.

“I swear, that little filly really knows how to get on my nerves sometimes...”

Soarin' grinned. “Funny, that seems like something you would do.”

Rainbow shot the stallion a curious look. “Which? Blast past unaware pegasi or get on pony's nerves?”

Soarin regarded the question for a moment before replying. “Eh, probably both.”

“Har har.” Rainbow replied flatly.

“Haha! How was that?!” Scootaloo cried out, landing roughly upon the diminutive cloud. Rainbow shot another glare at the filly, clearly irritated.

Soarin' didn't hide his admiration. “I'll say it was something Scootaloo. I've never seen anything like it.”

Scootaloo couldn't have been more happy, jumping about gleefully. “Really? You've never seen anypony else do something like that?”

“Nope. Can't say I have. You've really got one hay of a talent there.”

“SWEET!” Scootaloo cheered, pumping a hoof into the air.

“And just what the hay was that all about?” Rainbow cut in, ending the younger pegasus' celebration.

Scootaloo eyed the elder mare coyly. “That? Well, I'm pretty sure it was me being completely awesome, what with all the flips, and death defying speed...” The copper filly trailed off sarcastically.

Rainbow regarded the other mare with a contemptuous stare. “You know what I'm talking about.”

“Oh come on Rainbow. It's totally something you would have done. You're just mad I did it first.”

Soarin' suppressed a smile, resisting the urge to tease Rainbow.

“Heh.” Rainbow laughed lightly. Then she smiled. “You're right. It is something I'd do.” The cyan mare moved alongside her friend stealthily. “So you better watch you're copper butt. Because when you least expect it...”

Scootaloo's suddenly eyed Rainbow warily. “What are you-”

“BOOM!” Dash shoved the filly off the cloud, collapsing into a fit of laughter.

Soarin' rolled his eyes again, chuckling slightly.

Several seconds later Scootaloo reappeared, hovering just out of reach. “That wasn't funny.”

“You're right Scootaloo.” Rainbow suddenly looked overly remorseful. “It was hilarious!” The cyan mare broke out into laughter again.

The copper pegasus simply stuck out her tongue in defiance.

“Alright, alright you two. Jeeze.” Soarin' interrupted, stepping forward. “I think we've had enough for one day. Besides, we need to find Spitfire before the end of the day.” The stallion added in a more serious tone, noting the gradual descent of the sun.

Scootaloo frowned slightly, but remained quiet.

Rainbow put a hoof to her chin. “I think I have a good idea of where she'll be at.” The cyan mare shot a knowing look at her younger friend.

Scootaloo's face lit up as she realized what Rainbow was talking about. “Oh yeah, you're right! I've got to run home real quick, but I'll meet you guys there. See you in a bit!”

Scootaloo dashed off toward Ponyville, leaving Rainbow and a very confused Soarin' behind.

“Um, am I missing something here?”

Rainbow laughed. “Nope. Just call it a bit of a hunch mixed with a Ponyville tradition.”

They cyan mare made ready for flight, moving toward the edge of the cloud.

“If you say so.” Soarin' commented, still at a loss as to what the mare was talking about.

“Come on Soarin',” Rainbow took to the air, “we're going to be late if we don't get a move on.”

The stallion shrugged, resigning from divulging anything more from his companion. Instead he dropped lazily off the cloud, joining Rainbow Dash back to Ponyville.

Ch. 10: The Unguarded and the Unaware

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Legacy of the Pegasi:

Ch. 10: The Unguarded and the Unaware

Scootaloo landed roughly on the cobblestone road near the entrance to Ponyville, grimacing slightly. Though she didn't want to admit it, her aerial exhibition only minutes before had taken a toll on her body. Ignoring the growing soreness that was steadily gnawing around the base of her wings, the copper mare steadied herself upright. There would be time to recover later. Instead she trotted with a purposeful gait into Ponyville.

Most of the town had recovered from the previous day's calamities; no longer was the town square littered with the produce and merchandise of the village's vendors. The same could not be said of the river, Scootaloo noted, as she crossed the bridge into town. Large puddles still collected upon the stone crossing, while the banks of the river remained slightly flooded.

Crossing into the town square, Scootaloo peered about. All worry seemed to have disappeared from the villagers; in fact very much the opposite was now in place. Vendors of all kinds kept their stalls open, some selling food, while others touted various Wonderbolt merchandise. There was a barely contained excitement in the air, like pressure building in a tea kettle. Families of ponies milled about, young fillies and colts running about in Wonderbolt costumes, imitating their favorite stunt pegasi. Still other, older mares and stallions conversed excitedly amongst each other about the upcoming show, cider in hoof. It was almost as if the memory of a light blue pegasus tearing through the little village hadn't even occurred; an afterthought in light of the growing festivities.

Scootaloo smirked to herself as she weaved through the crowd. Ponyville and its villagers were only a simple group of farmers and country folk, but they were some of the most resilient and forgiving ponies in Equestria. Recent years had more than proved it.

The copper mare quickened her pace slightly, glancing toward the rapidly descending sun. She would have to hurry if she wanted meet up with Rainbow Dash and the rest of the Wonderbolts for the evening's festivities. Though nothing had been explicitly announced in light of the short notice Wonderbolt show, Scootaloo was willing to bet that a certain pink earth pony had been more than prepared. And if the growing crowd within the square was any indication, it would be quite a party indeed.

She was about halfway across the crowded town center, when an unfamiliar sight tugged at the corner of her vision. Turning quickly, she zeroed in on two ponies walking near the edge of the crowd. Hold on a sec, who are these two?

Being the close knit community that it was, it wasn't hard to make out newcomers to Ponyville. Travelers were not infrequent to the village; often journeying to sample the legendary Apple Family Cider, or to seek out one of the Elements of Harmony that had made the quaint village famous. However, the pair before her hardly seemed like the typical visitors.

Suddenly intrigued, Scootaloo positioned herself to get a better look, feigning interest in a poster. Both wore a simple black cloak that covered their bodies; hoods drawn back as the two moved pointedly away from the crowd. Upon closer inspection, the newcomers appeared to be pegasi, as the copper mare noted the slight bulge from within the pairs' cloaks. The elder of the two, a light gray pegasus, carried himself with a stoic and practiced gait, never once deterring from his path. His brown companion trotted in tow, glancing about in apparent disinterest. With the exception of their curious apparel, the two pegasi might have appeared unremarkable, were it not for the fact that they seemed to be purposefully avoiding the crowd. Even so, the sight of two impassive pegasi was hardly a reason to be suspicious.

Yet, Scootaloo couldn't ignore the growing unease within her as she continued to scrutinize the two. Something about them felt off, as if their neutral expressions were too purposeful, trying too hard to disguise some ulterior motive.

Deciding to side with the uneasy feeling in her gut, Scootaloo took to the air quickly, silently landing on a building nearby the two suspicious pegasi. The duo continued to move, staying along the sparse edges of the Ponyville's central plaza. Scootaloo shadowed the two stealthily from above, taking care to mask the sound of her hooves clacking on the rooftops. Eyes glued to her targets, she strained her ears forward, hoping to catch some kind of clue from below. But not a word passed between the two; only exchanging knowing glances and the occasional cautionary glimpse toward the unsuspecting crowd.

The two finally stepped near the opposite end of the terrace, siding up along one of Ponyville's many establishments. Landing a second later upon her targets' apparent destination, Scootaloo peered over the edge of the rooftop. The two appeared to conversing silently, much to the sly filly's excitement. Unfortunately, the commotion from the growing crowd masked the two pegasi's words.

Cursing silently, Scootaloo momentarily abandoned all covert pretenses, hoping the din of organizing ponies would grant her a level playing field. Wasting no time, she made a single, powerful flap of her wings, vaulting sideways and sliding downward into the adjacent alleyway. Wincing against her sore wings, the copper mare quietly bolted for the corner. Once more daring a peek, Scootaloo inched her head around the corner.

Thankfully, the two had not left. The brown pegasi had his back to her, obscuring his partner. Scootaloo frowned slightly. She had hoped to catch a glimpse one of the stallions' faces.

Despite their care to keep the conversation private, Scootaloo was able to eavesdrop on the two.

“Why here? I thought you mentioned something about the Everfree Forest?”

“I did. It will eventually be our ultimate destination. But there are preparations to be made. This will be our meeting place.”

Excitement whirled through Scootaloo like a tornado, but she remained still, all of her focus in straining to absorb the shady conversation.

“Meeting place? But then that means there-"

“Yes. There are others. Now quickly, inside. We've lingered too long in the open.”

She should have left right then. But the urge to gather more rooted Scootaloo to the spot. So much and so little had vaguely passed between these two mysterious pegasi. To leave now without even a glimpse of a face would feel like a failed mission.

The brown stallion entered the building, the opened door obscuring his face.

Panicking slightly at the lost opportunity, Scootaloo nearly jumped forward. But an uneasy pinprick in the back of her mind compelled her to delay just a second longer. She was fortunate to have listened.

Instead of following his brown companion inside, the gray stallion paused, stepping just forward from the doorway. Scootaloo's eyes narrowed as she took in the pegasus in detail. Sharp features marked his face, with narrow and calculating steely colored eyes scanning area about. His icy complexion set Scootaloo on edge, the uneasy feeling from before slowly crawling up her spine.

A glint from the stallion's collar blinked into Scootaloo's eyes. Her focused narrowed. For a split second she glimpsed at a simple pendant clasp, polished to a jet black sheen. And then the raging torrent hit her.

Pain like she had never felt before tore through her mind. A tiny gasp escaped her lips as she willed herself to be silent, dropping around the corner, her eyes clenched shut. The pendant burned itself into her mind, thrust forward like a super heated sword. It spawned a raging sea of lightning that burned away at her consciousness, threatening to overwhelm the frozen mare. Fear pounced upon her as she drowned in her helplessness.

Then in the span of a second, the pain ceased. The quaky and uneasy tingle surged forth in her mind, a small and fragmented contingent charging forward into the pendant.

The sudden thud of a door silenced all. Scootaloo's eyes shot open as she let out a rattled wheeze. Beads of sweat rolled past her brow. For a time she remained slumped against the brick building, breathing in shallow pants. Her heart pounded against her chest, pumping adrenaline that urged her to run, but the shaky mare resisted. Don't freak out, don't freak out, don't freak out... Scootaloo pleaded with herself, struggling against the fright that still hung over her. Gradually she regained herself, focus coming to her eyes.

W-What just happened? Scootaloo dared to question, the rise and fall of her chest slowing with more controlled breaths. Never before had she suffered such an attack. It was like a nightmare brought to life; assaulting the refuge of her mind. Twilight had told her stories of forbidden magic that could inflict such pain, powers not used since ancient, darker times. But these aren't unicorns, and pegasi can't do magic. Unless... The pendant came to the forefront of the teenager's mind, causing her to wince slightly. Legends spoke of powerful amulets that granted terrible powers, but they were just that, legends. Had she just been on the receiving end of such a weapon? Could pegasi even use such powers?

What in the hay is going on?

Scootaloo's questions went unanswered. Instead she was left with a lingering fear.

The pegasus involuntarily shuddered.

Slowly she rose to her hooves, teetering slightly. A splitting headache assaulted her cranium, shadowy visages of the black pendant still floating in her mind. She had not forgotten her target, but now moved with greater trepidation. She gingerly approached the corner.

A mixture of relief and disappointment struck Scootaloo as she surveyed the empty spot where her quarry had been moments before. She briefly considered following into the building, but quickly dismissed the idea, glancing at the sign above her.

The large green sign hung from a wrought iron fixture, golden letters etched in the painted oak.

The Trough and Cider

It would be foolish to go any further. An underage mare walking into a bar in the middle of the day would not go unnoticed and Scootaloo doubted that she would be able remain hidden in such close quarters. And though she didn't want to admit it, it was a convenient excuse to avoid going any further, her mind still raw from the mental storm.

I gotta tell Rainbow and Soarin' about this. And they're going to hear about it, one way or another.

The teenager stared at the doorway as soft orange-yellow rays slowly settled on the mare's face. Scootaloo turned towards the glint on the horizon. Tracking the two pegasi had taken more time than she had realized, the hazy glow on the horizon slowly receding.

Scootaloo let out another rattled breath, trying to ignore the lingering quivers in her hooves. Mom and Dad are probably wondering where I'm at. With a final wary glance at the doorway, the copper mare made her way down the road.


Night had fallen by the time Scootaloo rounded the corner onto the street where her home was. The streetlamps alongside the cobblestone road magically flickered to life, hastening the speed in the mare's trot, hearkening back to the rule of her juvenile years. “Wow. I am really late,” the mare commented to herself flatly. Now almost at a gallop, Scootaloo squinted against the oncoming darkness. Though she couldn't see her home yet, the familiarity of her neighborhood told her she was only a few blocks away. Seconds later the teenaged mare skidded through the wooden gate and onto the stony path to the front door.

Okay, lets make this short and sweet. Get in, check in, get out. Then get back and meet up with RD and the Wonderbolts. Flawless. Scootaloo thought to herself, grinning as she opened the front door.

The copper mare strode into her home.

An earth pony mare stood in the kitchen, cleaning up from the night's evening meal. Midnight Blossom's coat was several shades lighter than Scootaloo's own, almost more of a tan color than copper. However, nopony would mistake where the teenager had inherited her mane from. A violet flower rested on her flank, which complimented her work at Ponyville's local flower nursery.

In the next room over, Scootaloo's father Swift Jet sat reading, spectacles on his muzzle. His coat was an even dark grey, paired with a short charcoal black mane. One of the more senior stallions within the region's weather squadron, Scootaloo's father headed the severe weather team, which was responsible for reigning in the violent Everfree storms that plagued the area. A pair of crossed lightning bolts set against a tornado adorned his flank.

“Hey Mom! Hey Dad!” Scootaloo greeted her parents quickly, darting between the kitchen and the living room respectively. “Checking in. Heading to the Wonderbolt party. Talk to you later! Okbye!”

“Hold on there little filly.” Scootaloo's mother spoke up, freezing the escaping teenager on the spot. “Come here. I haven't seen you all day.”

Scootaloo sighed, shuffling her hooves exaggeratedly. “Okay. You saw me. Can I go now?”

“Scootaloo.” Came her fathers voice, clearly not amused with her sass.

The copper mare flinched slightly.

Her mother was equally unimpressed. “Scootaloo, you're past your curfew.”

She had hoped to avoid this conversation. Again. “Yeah, I know...”

“If you know then why are you late?”

“I'm sorry Mom! I guess... I guess I just lost track of time. There was so much awesome stuff going on today with Rainbow Dash and the Wonderbolts, and some... other stuff... that I just got sidetracked.” The younger mare looked up earnestly at her mother. She really did feel bad about being late. “I tried getting back here as fast as I could when I saw how late it was. Guess I just wasn't fast enough.”

Her mother's features softened. “So that's what you were up to all day. Well I'm glad you had a good time, but please remember to be back before sundown. That's all your father and I ask, just to check in with us.”

Scootaloo brightened up, sensing an opening that she could still salvage her evening with Rainbow and the Wonderbolts. “So... can I still go to the Wonderbolt festival?”

“Sure you can.” Scootaloo's father walked into the kitchen, winking at his wife.

Scootaloo didn't question Swift Jet's sudden change of demeanor, as she looked hopefully toward her mother.

Midnight Blossom shot an annoyed glance at her husband, before finally relenting. “Well I can see I'm on the losing end here. Yes you can go. Far be it from me to deny you the chance to hang out with Ms. Rainbow Dash.”

A massive smile burst onto the young mare's face. “Thanks Mom! Thanks Dad!” She made a dash for the door. “I promise I'll be back home at a good time!”

“Hold up there Scootaloo.”

The copper mare nearly tripped over her hooves. And the second horseshoe drops.

“What's the hurry kiddo?” Scootaloo's father asked lightly, clearly amused by his daughter’s frustration.

However, the copper mare seemed to take no notice. Time was wasting, and she really did need to get to the festival. Rainbow Dash and Soarin' needed to know about the cloaked travelers.

“The festival is starting soon Dad! I gotta get going or I'll miss meeting up with Rainbow and the Wonderbolts!”

“Don't worry Scootaloo, we'll be there soon enough.” The stallion sauntered back into the living room, searching about. “Now where did I put my saddlebags?”

Scootaloo deadpanned. “What.”

Her father poked his head out from the adjacent room, grinning madly. “What? Can't I enjoy the Wonderbolt festival too? Besides, I was into the Wonderbolts back when I was a little colt.”

Scootaloo couldn't help but smile awkwardly at her father. It wasn't often that she saw him excited; his coltish eagerness was infectious, even if she was sure that he was partially trying to embarrass her.

Scootaloo rolled her eyes. “Yeah, yeah I know, you've told me a thousand times. Guess they even had the Wonderbolts back in the stone ages.” She shot a mischievous glare at her father.

“Hey!” The stallion seemed genuinely offended. “I'm not that old.”

"Swift, do you really think you should be going?” She looked worriedly at her husband. “You've had a pretty rough day.”

“Oh, don't worry about that, I'm feeling much better now.” The stallion replied, downplaying Midnight Blossom's fears.

Scootaloo took a moment to take a good look at her father. His eyes seemed somewhat bloodshot, complimented by bags underneath. His mane was somewhat disheveled from what seemed like a strained and difficult day. Were it not for the silly grin on his face, Scootaloo would have guessed that her father was tired from a great deal of stress.

“What's Mom talking about Dad?”

“Like I said it's nothing. Just had a little headache earlier in the day, some trouble sleeping.” Swift Jet remarked casually. “Work's been a little heavier than usual. Nothing I can't handle.”

“Hardly!” Scootaloo's mother shot a glare at stallion. “You've been dealing with that migraine for several days now, don't even try to deny it! And I know for a fact that it has nothing to do with work; I've never seen you like this before.”

Swift Jet groaned. “Blossom I'll be fine. There are other pegasi in town who are under the weather as well; its just a small bug going around. And I'm not about to let this get in the way of having some fun with Scoots.”

The elder mare sighed. “Oh, alright. But please be careful.” The mare regarded her daughter with concern. “Keep an eye on your father.”

Scootaloo nodded, but her mind was elsewhere. Some kind of sickness in Ponyville that only affected pegasi? She had never heard of such a thing.

Swift Jet rolled his eyes. “Good. We've gotten that out of the way. And I found my saddlebags.” The stallion turned to his daughter, just a hint of excitement in his eyes. “Ready to go Scooty?”

The copper pegasus stared daggers at her father. “If you call me that while we're at the festival, I won't even know you. So don't say it.” She started for the door when another thought struck her. “And especially not around Rainbow Dash.”

Swift Jet strode aside of her chuckling, rustling her mane roughly with his wing. “No promises Scoots, embarrassing you is kinda in the Dad job description.”

“Hmph.” Scootaloo huffed. “Com'on lets just go.”

Saying their goodbyes to Midnight Blossom, the two pegasi made for the center of Ponyville.

Ch. 11: Legends and Myths

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Legacy of the Pegasi

Ch. 11: Legends and Myths

Scootaloo ambled down the road with her father. Rows of streetlamps lit their way, as more and more ponies joined them toward the center of town. Despite the unannounced nature of the festival, many of the town citizens seemed well aware of the celebration.

Unfortunately Scootaloo had a difficult time remaining at her father's pace. Every so often she would stride ahead, the quickness and rush overcoming her. She would then cast a sidelong glance back at her father, hoping he would join her. But, much to Scootaloo's chagrin, Swift Jet trotted along at his agonizingly slow pace, either unaware or very much aware of his daughter’s frustration.

“Come on Dad!” Scootaloo urged. “We're already late!”

“Alright, alright, I'm coming. No reason to get your tail in a knot.”

The stallion quickened his gait slightly, passing through several spotlights from the overhead streetlamps. Waiting impatiently, Scootaloo caught what looked like a painful grimace from her father. As he rejoined her, the young mare noticed a quickened breath at her father's lips, with small beads of perspiration slowly forming at his brow. Heavy bags still rimmed his eyes, and though he had tried to fix it, his mane still remained wild and unkempt. Even his gait had seemed off; almost as if each hoofstep was a struggle in itself. Though he gave her a silly smile, Scootaloo could tell that he was covering up some kind of pain.

Keep an eye on your father. Her mother's words came to mind.

Scootaloo started off again with her father beside her, albeit at a slower pace.

The two walked in silence for a time, following the narrow sidewalk toward the steadily growing buzz at the center of town.

Frowning slightly, Scootaloo tried to formulate her next words carefully.

“So um, Dad. I know you kinda said you were okay back home, but are you sure you're alright?”

“I'll be fine Scootaloo.” Her father replied almost mechanically.

“I know.” Scootaloo returned quickly, hoping she hadn't prodded too far. “It's just I've never seen you, or anypony else like this before.”

Her father regarded her with a slight smirk. “Well to be fair Scoots, you've only been around for a while. Growing up in an earth pony town is a little different. If you had been raised in Cloudsdale, you would've been exposed to a little more.”

His explanation seemed sincere, but Scootaloo couldn't help but feel there was far more than her father was willing to let on. Unfortunately there wasn't much else she could ask about, and the copper mare had little reason to doubt her father.

“I guess.” She finally replied, letting a hint of her uncertainty lace her speech.

“Great!” Swift Jet replied, almost a little to enthusiastically. “So, tell me, how was your day? You really didn't say what you did with Ms. Dash the Wonderbolts.”

“Well it was pretty much an audition that I got Spitfire to hold for Dash.” Scootaloo started when a thought occurred to her. “And by the way, don't call Rainbow Dash 'Ms. Dash'. She'd probably die from being called something so old sounding.”

Swift let out an amused laugh. “Noted. Anything else I should know before I accidentally tarnish your hero's lofty reputation?”

Scootaloo glared at her father as the two continued on to Ponyville square. “Harhar. No. Anyway.” Scootaloo started again. “We got to meet the Wonderbolt's lead team, they just got here earlier today from Cloudsdale. RD showed off her stuff to all the 'Bolts, and then Dash and Soarin' kinda had this race.” Scootaloo frowned slightly. “Took 'em a while though...” She trailed off, still suspicious of what had transpired at Pegasi Peak.

“Soarin'? That name sounds familiar. Wasn't he the one that blew through town earlier?”

“Ha! Yeah. That was pretty crazy. I really wish I had seen him tearing up Ponyville though. To see a Wonderbolt flying around like a crazed Windigo must've been wicked!”

“Maybe.” Swift Jet commented absently. “It's a good thing nopony was hurt though.”

“Well, you've got me and Dash to thank for that.” Scootaloo beamed proudly. “We're the ones that saved him from smashing into the old clock tower.” Scootaloo slammed her hoof into the other for emphasis.

The stallion raised a brow. “Really now?” Scootaloo's father replied in a disapproving voice. “It seems Rainbow Dash and yourself get along a little too well. Celestia know you don't need any help getting into trouble.”

Scootaloo cringed slightly. “Er, right. Anyway...” The young mare started again, eager to change the subject. “I couldn't even begin to explain all that stuff with Soarin' though. He was going on about something bugging him for weeks and how he had to fight it or something. RD has been acting kinda weird too. Especially when we were practicing right before we saved Soarin'.”

Scootaloo continued to trot along, letting the memory linger slightly. “Maybe it's just that pegasi sickness you were talking about?” She questioned lightly. It was only then she noticed that her father had been strangely silent. The copper mare glanced to the stallion beside her. Or at least, where he should have been. “Dad?”

Instead of next to her, Swift Jet was several paces behind her, frozen under the hazy yellow light of a streetlamp. Though his face remained neutral, Scootaloo could see the alarm in Swift Jet's eyes, now much larger as the stallion seemed lost in thought. For several seconds he remained unnaturally still. There was a certain tenseness about him, almost as if the stallion were restraining himself, or bracing for an attack.

Scootaloo stared warily at her father, feeling suddenly uneasy. “Uh, Dad? Everything alright?”

Swift Jet jumped slightly, focus returning to his eyes. As he looked to Scootaloo a sudden realization seemed to overcome him. “Oh! Um, yeah I'm fine, just ah, thinking.” Swift Jet declared dismissively. Rushing to compose himself, the elder pegasus trotted quickly to his daughter. “Sorry about that.” He flashed an apologetic look at the younger mare.

Scootaloo still held her father with an curious gaze. “Uh, yeah it's okay. But what was that all about?”

“Just something I remembered, that's all.” Swift replied quickly, regarding his daughter sharply. “I'm fine so that's the last I want to hear about it.” He added, clearly irritated with Scootaloo's prodding.

Scootaloo nodded quickly, somewhat taken aback. She had seen her father frustrated before, hay she had been responsible for a hooful of some of his more stressful days, but never before had his mood bounced about so flippantly before. Nevertheless, Scootaloo wisely decided not to press the issue. “R-right. Sorry Dad.”

Swift Jet's face softened. “Don't worry about it Scootaloo,” he reassured her, pulling her into a one wing hug. “I just want us to enjoy this evening free from distractions.” He pulled her closer, yanking her into an almost obnoxious hug.

“Ugh, okay, okay!” Scootaloo practically yelped, trying to pry herself from her father's grasp.

Swift Jet simply chuckled at his daughter’s expense, giving her a parting ruffle of her mane.

“Now com'on, we better pick up the pace. Sounds like the festival's already started!” Her father remarked lightly, starting off once more toward the center of town.

The loud din and glowing lights from the Ponyville's square confirmed her father's words, but Scootaloo hesitated, gazing after the ambling stallion as her own thoughts took control. What was her father hiding from her? Whatever was bothering him, it was more than just a headache, and the stallion seemed determined to keep Scootaloo in the dark. First Rainbow Dash, and now Dad. Scootaloo thought, frowning.

Though she trusted him, Scootaloo was still bothered by her father's odd behavior. The tingling fear from the alleyway prodded at her mind, stamping the elder stallion's worried visage within in it. What was really going on?

Once again, she was left without answers.

Back to square one. Scootaloo sighed, trotting after her father.

Catching up with her father, the pair of pegasi strode into the festival. Housed under Luna's blanket of stars, the festival was in full swing. Herded within the plaza, the crowd had easily doubled in size. Ponies moved about the games and vendors that dotted the plaza. Others danced in the center of the square where a blue maned mare was playing music. The air was thick with the smell of funnel cakes, with just a hint of sweet cider, courtesy of the Apple family's portable cider still. Capping off the celebratory scene was a multitude of blue and gold streamers of Wonderbolt hue, along with flags and pennants that adorned the plaza.

Swift Jet whistled in admiration. “My, my. Ms. Pie sure knows how to work on short notice.”

“You can say that again.” Scootaloo echoed, taking in the scene before her. However, she suddenly realized something very important missing.

Where's Rainbow Dash and the Wonderbolts?

Scootaloo glanced around the square, unsure if she had missed the notable pegasi by any chance. But her initial findings proved to be true.

“So,” Swift Jet started, “where are we meeting your friends, Scoots?”

“Uh, well that's just the thing.” Scootaloo looked sheepishly up at her father. “I kinda figured they'd just be around.”

“Well they're bound to turn up even-”

“Hey! Mr. Jet! Mr. Swift Jet!”

Both Scootaloo and Swift turned about to the voice behind them.

A light brown pegasus with a tan mane bounded toward them. “Mr. Swift Jet sir!”

A bemused smile overcame Swift Jet. Scootaloo simply stared awkwardly at the approaching pegasus.

“Hello there Dust Storm. How are things going?”

The young stallion grinned widely. “Just great sir! I can't believe the Wonderbolts actually showed up in a town like Ponyville! It's a great way to end the day after all that weather we had to wrangle back into the Everfree.”

“Yes today was quite the hooful.” Swift Jet sighed lightly. The mention of the day's activities seemed to play on the stallion's already strained features. Yet it was only a momentary glimpse, quickly fading. “And please Dust, you can stop calling me sir, Mr. Jet will suffice.”

The tan stallion stammered slightly. “Oh, uh yes Mr. Jet. No problem!”

Scootaloo blanched. Wow. This guy is kind of a dork.

Swift Jet merely chuckled. “By the way Dust, this is my daughter Scootaloo.” The elder stallion gestured to the young mare beside him. “Scootaloo this is Dust Storm. He's one of my squad leaders on the weather team.”

The two briefly exchanged salutations.

“So you're on the weather team huh?” Scootaloo questioned. “What was so rough about the Everfree today?”

Swift Jet shuffled uncomfortably beside her, but said nothing.

“Ah well, we usually work around the Everfree, since that's were most of the region's unruly storms come out of. But today was different.” Dust seemed tired as recollected from the day's events. “It wasn't the storms that actually gave us trouble. Instead there seemed to some kind of sickness going around.”

Scootaloo raised a brow. Taking another look at Dust Storm, she noticed that he hardly seemed to be in poor health. Nothing compared to the dreary state her father was in.

Once again Swift Jet fidgeted absently, trying to appear uninterested.

“The entire weather team was caught up in dizzy spells and headaches the whole time we were over the forest. And it's not like we had any weak fliers or anything. Even the Wonderbolts who flew in this morning seemed to have difficulty crossing the airspace.”

The Wonderbolts were caught up in this stuff too? Spitfire and Soarin' didn't mention that. And they certainly didn't look sick... Scootaloo pondered.

“I know that place has some strange things about it, but I've never heard-”

“Yes, well it was good to see you Dust but we really need to get going.” Scootaloo's father cut in, clearly trying to make a hasty exit.

“Sure thing Mr. Jet. I really just wanted to see how you were holding up.” The young stallion seemed genuinely concerned for his superior.

Scootaloo ears perked up. “What do you mean?”

“It's nothing.” Swift Jet stated flatly, but he failed to deter Dust.

“Uh, well. You're Dad, er, Mr. Swift Jet seemed to be having a really tough time over the forest.” Dust Storm seemed to be choosing his words very carefully, pausing to think. “Whatever is going on around the Everfree seemed to hit him a lot harder.” Dust suddenly realized what he seemed to be suggesting. “But he still worked harder than the rest of us all the same! I've never seen somepony push through something like that!” The younger stallion beamed awkwardly at his boss.

Swift Jet faltered slightly, giving Scootaloo a sidelong glance. “Yes, well I'm perfectly fine now. Nothing to be concerned about. Besides, its just a bug going around; weren't you feeling a little ill yourself earlier?” The elder stallion asked, sounding almost hopeful.

“Oh that?” Dust seemed surprised. “That was just a little bit of a headache. Everypony on the weather team was fine after we left the forest. Though I think some pegasi in the village have started to feel the same...”

“Yes well, like I've said many times, I'm feeling much better now.” Swift Jet cut in quickly. “It was nice seeing you Dust, but we've got to get going. Scoots here is looking for her friends.”

Swift Jet turned to leave, coaxing Scootaloo to follow him. Dust Storm simply waved, calling after them. “Okay sir! No problem! See you around!”

Scootaloo remained silent as the two walked. She desperately wanted to question her father in light of the new information that Dust Storm had provided, but respected her father's wishes to let the subject go. At least for now. Yet this didn't make the matter any easier as she mentally trudged on, trying to make sense of the situation. There really was some sickness going around, there was no doubt about that now. And if Dust Storm's account was true, only pegasi seemed to be the victims, just as her father had said.

She took the opportunity to glance around at the few pegasi that were at the festival. Though it was difficult to tell, there was a subtle sluggishness in the winged ponies around her. Faces seemed somewhat dour, others with slightly drooped wings that was a common ailment to pegasi who had the common cold. Others simply seemed tired.

All of these nothing compared to her father.

So what does the Everfree have to do with it? Scootaloo mentally vented. I really need to find-

“Scoots! Hey Scootaloo!”

Up ahead stood Rainbow Dash, calling from across the square. She attempted to make her way toward the two pegasi, but found herself obstructed by the crowd. In a huff of annoyance she took to the air. A second later she stood before Scootaloo and Swift Jet.

“There you are kiddo! I've been looking everywhere for ya!”

“Uh, yeah sorry about that Dash, kinda forgot to ask where you were going to be.”

“No worries Scoots.” Rainbow gave her a soft bump on her shoulder. “So who's this?” She asked abruptly, turning to Scootaloo's father.

No sooner had she closed her mouth than did Rainbow feel an all to familiar force from within. Her aura flared, as she felt it silently swirl out and around her, reaching forward. Her aura met another, a gentle brush against the edge of her mind, and then a stark realization. Him? He's the other pegasi? Not Scootaloo?

To her credit, Rainbow kept herself in check, her eyes widening only slightly as she locked with Swift Jet. Then as quickly as it came, the connection fizzled out.

Though Rainbow remained outwardly calm, the same could not be said for Scootaloo's father. Just when Rainbow had realized who the stallion really was, he jolted slightly, looking all the more haggard and stressed.

To any other pony, and Scootaloo in particular, the moment only appeared as an awkwardly long pause before her father spoke up.

“I'm Scootaloo's father, Swift Jet. Pleasure to meet you Ms., er, Rainbow Dash. I've heard a lot about you.” The stallion greeted, his voice not ar all betraying his earlier reaction.

Scootaloo facehoofed.

Rainbow Dash grinned, unfazed. “Well I'm sure it was all pretty awesome stuff.” She replied, covering her thoughts equally well. A frown crossed her face. “Wait a minute, Swift Jet, Swift Jet,” the mare pondered aloud, “where have a heard that name before. Wait a minute!” She exclaimed. “Aren't you the head of the Severe Weather Team?”

Swift Jet smiled, if only weakly. “Yep, that's me.”

“Wow.” Rainbow uttered in admiration. “Scoots you didn't tell me your Dad goes to hoof to hoof with Everfree storms on a daily basis! That's some pretty hard core stuff.”

Scootaloo smiled as she looked up at her father. “Ah, well, I guess I never thought too much about it. So it's really that cool huh?”

“You bet!” Dash leaped into the air, air boxing with her hooves. “Battling murderous thunder storms, dodging lightning bolts, barreling against tornado winds! You gotta have guts to do that stuff.”

“I wouldn't quite make it to be that glamorous.” Swift Jet downplayed. “But it can be dangerous.”

“Hay yeah it can! If I wasn't such a shoe in for the Wonderbolts I'd totally be an Severe Weather pegasus.”

Rainbow landed once more next to Scootaloo. “Speaking of extreme weather,” Rainbow eyed Swift Jet's ragged appearance, “you look like you just flew through the Archon's gauntlet.”

Swift Jet suddenly froze at Dash's remark, his eyes dilating ever so slightly. Rainbow seemed to miss the momentary reaction, but Scootaloo was growing much more aware if her father's curious state.

However, Swift Jet recovered quickly enough. “Yeah, just a rough day, that's all. So aren't we supposed to be meeting the Wonderbolts somewhere?”

A slightly confused and awkward look overtook Rainbow as she glanced at Scootaloo. “Oh, so you're coming with us?”

Swift Jet perked up. “Of course. I've been a fan of the Wonderbolt's for as long as I can remember!”

Scootaloo was left to stand mortified between her hero and her father, the former of which who was grinning madly at the younger mare.

“Alright then, the more the better. C'mon I'll show you where the party's at.”

Rainbow trotted ahead, Scootaloo rushing forward beside the elder mare. Swift Jet lagged a few hooves behind the duo.

“So...” Rainbow started with a massive smirk on her face, “you brought your Dad...”

Scootaloo's ears flattened as she glared ahead. “Shut up.”

Rainbow laughed, ruffling the younger mare's mane with her wing. “Aw, don't sweat it Scoots. It sounds like your Dad is pretty cool. I meant what I said about the extreme weather stuff. That stuff is no joke.”

Scootaloo visibly brightened. She turned to glance at her father. “Yeah, I guess it is.”


“Here we are!” Rainbow announced, gesturing toward the brick building in front of her.

“Well, I guess it's a good thing I came along, huh Scoots?” Swift Jet added glibly, trying to get a reaction from his daughter.

However, Scootaloo was anything but annoyed. Surprise, even fear filled her mind as she gazed at the very familiar structure before her.

Even from the outside it was apparent that The Trough and Cider was abuzz with activity, music and the sound of a multitude of partying ponies spewing forth from the establishment.

“We're here? And not at Sugar Cube Corner? Why are we here?” Scootaloo sputtered frantically, looking to Dash.

“Sugar Cube Corner was too small to host all the Wonderbolts. Besides, the Wonderbolts are all adults, so I think this place makes a little more sense. Plus they've been out and about already, so I guess you could call this more of the VIP party.”

Mental alarms continued to pound Scootaloo's mind as the blackened pendant resurfaced, echoes from earlier in the day preying upon her. “But, it's just that, we can't...” The copper mare continued to blather, images of the of the cloaked pegasi tripping her up.

“What's the big deal?” Rainbow Dash questioned, a confused look on the mare's face. “You've got your Dad here, and this place is plenty safe, especially with the 'Bolt's here. Not to mention yours truly.” Rainbow smirked again. “Unless you got a problem with it.” Dash turned to Swift Jet.

Another, equally horrifying fear suddenly wracked Scootaloo. “No, no, no! We're good! I can handle it! No reason to jump to conclusions!” She jumped over toward Rainbow, trying to appear cool and collected. “I mean, come on, it's me were talking about, how could you even think there'd be a problem?”

Swift Jet and Rainbow exchanged a confused glance.

“Uh, right.” Dash remarked, shooting a curious glance at the mare next to her. “Anyway, com'on. Spitfire, Soarin' and the rest of the 'Bolts are inside.”

Dash strode into the bar, followed by Swift Jet, who turned toward his hesitant daughter. “Coming Scootaloo?”

“Yeah, yeah. I'll uh, just be a minute.” The younger pegasus stalled.

Her father simply shrugged, disappearing behind the large oak door.

Scootaloo took a deep breath. Okay, come on Scootaloo. No reason to lose your head. You don't even know if those creeps are around. Just get in there and let Dash and the others know. Despite her mental preparation, Scootaloo still shivered slightly, her wings twitching in anticipation.

The young mare shook in frustration, wresting away the unwanted shudders, and promptly marched into the building.

The inside of The Trough and Cider was quite unlike the rest of the festival.

The first thing that struck Scootaloo was the very distinctive waft of alcohol. It hit her like a tidal wave. Groups of ponies gathered around heightened circular tables, specially made for holding large tankards of hard cider. Others crammed along the bar that ran along the length of the spacious room. Though there was music, it was hardly noticeable against the clamor of ponies having a good time. Random laughter and shouts abounded throughout the hall, often accompanied by the humorous stumbling of an overly intoxicated stallion or mare. Several chandeliers made from a carriage wheel hung from the ceiling, bathing the room in a soft light.

Scootaloo scrunched up her nose. I guess this is supposed to be fun somehow. She thought skeptically, scanning the scene before her. Though everypony is just drinking and talking a lot. Seems kinda boring.

"Scootaloo! What do ya think yer doing here?!"

Scootaloo spun about, trying to pinpoint where the familiar voice had come from. Blocked by the slightly larger ponies around her, she caught a glimpse of a waving hoof and the pony attached to it behind the bar.

She trotted up toward a gap in the bar, taking care not to bump into the wobbly patrons.

"Hey there Applejack I was just-"

The farm pony cut her off, looking none too pleased from behind the bar. "Scootaloo what are you doing here? You know underage ponies ain't allowed at the Trough and Cider."

The orange earth pony scrutinized the younger pegasus. One of the Elements of Harmony, Applejack was the bearer of Honesty, and one of Rainbow Dash's friends. She and the rest of her family were known throughout Equestria for the apples from their orchard outside Ponyville, particularly for their cider. The mare herself was practical and hardworking, if not a bit stubborn, lending to her extreme competitiveness that she shared with Rainbow Dash.

"I know that." The younger mare looked indignant. "I'm here with Rainbow Dash to hang out with the Wonderbolts."

Applejack's frown lessened. "Oh. Well that's different. Guess I didn't see her come in. I thought you might've been trying to sneak a drink or something."

Scootaloo scowled. "Hey! I'm no sneak! If I wanted a drink I'd just take it."

Applejack stared flatly at the pegasus.

Scootaloo rolled her eyes. "Don't worry Applejack, I'm not here to snag a drink. Even if it is some of your cider."

"Hard cider." The orange earth pony commented emphatically, leaning over the counter.

Scootaloo waved her hoof dismissively. "Yeah, yeah, yeah. Boo. Alcohol bad. I got it."

"Good." Applejack poured another glass of cider for a waiting patron. "The longer you stay away from it the better. At least until yer of age."

"What," Scootaloo grinned challengingly, "don't think I'll be able to hold it when I'm old enough?" The pegasus leaned across the counter at the smiling earth pony. "Well as soon as I'm old enough I'm coming straight here so I can ace this drinking thing."

Applejack smiled knowingly. "Yeah, that's what Rainbow said too."

Scootaloo looked confused. "Huh? What's that supposed to mean?"

"Why don't you ask her? She's right over there."

Scootaloo turned around toward where AJ was pointing. Rainbow stood in a doorway in the back of room, looking about the crowd. Her eyes lit up when she noticed Scootaloo.

"You go on back there and enjoy yourself." Applejack said to the younger filly, turning toward the tap once again. "I'll see you over there a little later. I've got a few words for certain Wonderbolt." She finished darkly.

"Okay, thanks Applejack." She waved to the farmpony, leaving the bar. Mental note. Gotta warn Soarin'.

Once more Scootaloo found herself in the ever shifting maze of swaying mares and stallions. Taking care to navigate through the obstacle course, she kept her eyes peeled for any sign of the dark robed pegasi. Thankfully, they were nowhere to be seen, but this only delayed Scootaloo's fears. They gotta be around here somewhere. She thought. I mean, who shows up to a bar and doesn't drink? And those two definitely didn't seem like the partying type. So where are they meeting at?

"Hey there Scoots, I was wondering where you'd disappeared to."

Scootaloo's questions where left to linger as she greeted Dash. "Oh um, yeah, sorry about that. Ran into AJ on the way in. She seemed to think I was here by myself."

Rainbow turned, gesturing the younger mare to follow her into the smaller room. "Yeah should've figured that farm pony would be a buzz kill. But no worries now right?"

"Yeah." Scootaloo replied apprehensively, glancing around suspiciously. "No worries."

Rainbow Dash seemed to take no notice. "Looks like we've finally got everypony here."

Scootaloo took in the room before her. About half the size of the main hall, the private room boasted a cozy atmosphere. A smaller bar occupied the corner of the room, with several booths lining the left side of the room. On the opposite side was a small stage, slightly raised up from wooden floorboards. Lanterns jutted from the walls, their magical flame providing a tender light that filled the room.

All of the Wonderbolts were present, along with several members of the Ponyville's weather team. A second glance confirmed that all of Rainbow's friends; the bearers of the Elements of Harmony, were also in attendance.

Twilight Sparkle stood at the bar, methodically inspecting her beverage, as if it were some foreign substance. Spike, her dragon companion, stood beside her. The purple and green dragon had grown during his time in Ponyville, standing a full head over Twilight. He was currently trying to coax the cautious mare to take a drink, to little success. Rarity was with some of the female members of the Wonderbolts, seemingly taking notes about the stunt pegasi's uniforms. Fluttershy stood apart from the crowd, though this didn't stop an already extremely intoxicated Fleetfoot from awkwardly hitting on the blushing mare. Lastly, Pinkie was bounding around the already crowded space, offering drinks and confusing patrons with her antics.

"There you are Scootaloo." Swift Jet walked up to the two mares. "We were wondering where you had gotten off to."

"Yeah I'm here now. Ran into Applejack." She turned to Rainbow. "So where are Soarin' and Spitfire?"

"Over he-" Rainbow started but she didn't get the chance to finish her sentence.

"SCOOTALOO!" A pair of voices bellowed.

Scootaloo barely had time to turn around before she was assaulted by an earth pony and unicorn.

"Apple Bloom! Sweetie Belle!"

Scootaloo's two best friends in the world stood in front of her, clearly excited to have found the copper pegasus. The trio had spent a majority of their foalhood working together to find their talents, and collectively known as the 'Cutie Mark Crusaders'. Apple Bloom, an earth pony with a red mane and yellow coat and Applejack's sister, had found he calling in engineering, symbolized by a hammer crossed with saw. Sweetie Belle a pure white unicorn with a two tone mane of pink and purple, and Rarity's sister, excelled in vocal talents, her talent emblazoned as microphone.

"We've been looking all over fer ya Scoots!" Apple Bloom said excitedly.

"We thought you'd be one of the first ones here since the Wonderbolts were gonna be here." Sweetie Belle added.

"Come to think of it, we haven't seen much of ya lately. Whatcha been up to?" Apple Bloom questioned.

"Aw sorry guys. I've been really busy with Rainbow Dash and the Wonderbolts. I even got them to have an audition for her, and I got to meet Soarin' and Spitfire and the whole team and I even got fly for them!" Scootaloo sputtered in one breath, eager to share her latest endeavors with her friends.

"You got to meet the Wonderbolts?" Sweetie Belle looked at the pegasus in awe. "And perform for them?!" That's great Scootaloo!"

Apple Bloom grinned happily at her winged friend. "Yeah, that's great to hear! We're really happy fer ya!"

Scootaloo beamed. "Thanks guys."

"You coming Squirt?"

Scootaloo flashed an irritated look at the rainbow mare, not at all amused at the juvenile nick name. However her face quickly fell, ears drooping. "Um, well, I..." She turned briefly between Rainbow and her two friends, torn.

"Don't you worry about it Scoots." Apple Bloom commented lightly.

"Yeah, we can catch up later. We know how big of a deal it is for you to hang out with Rainbow and the Wonderbolts." The white unicorn added.

Scootaloo smiled appreciatively at her best friends. "Thanks. You guys are awesome."

Saying their goodbyes, Scootaloo turned once more to her father and Rainbow.

Rainbow rolled her eyes. "Finally! You done being all sappy?"

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, quiet you."

Swift Jet laughed. "You two go ahead. Besides, I think I've embarrassed Scootaloo enough for one day."

"Yeah and then some." Scootaloo muttered, but her father had already left to speak with a group of weather pegasi and Wonderbolts.

"Come on." Rainbow said quickly. "Before we get sidetracked again."

Rainbow led the way toward the back corner booth where the Wonderbolt Captain and her second in command sat.

"There they are." Spitfire gestured between Soarin' and the approaching pegasi. "We were wondering were you guys were."

"Hey Spitfire, Soarin'." Dash greeted the two pegasi, as the duo slid into the booth opposite of the Wonderbolts. "Yeah, we got a little sidetracked on our way over here. How are you two enjoying the festival?"

"Not going to lie, its pretty sweet. Small enough that it doesn't get too crazy, but big enough to have a good time." Soarin' replied.

Spitfire nodded in agreement. "Gotta admit, that earth pony friend of yours knows how to throw a party. And this cider is top notch." The yellow mare complimented, regarding the drink in her hoof.

"Uh, yeah, speaking of cider and a certain pony..." Scootaloo trailed off, turning to Soarin'. "Applejack said she wanted to talk to you about something." She grimaced slightly. "It didn't sound like anything good either."

Soarin' stared back at the younger mare, clearly confused. Before the stallion could reply Rainbow jumped in.

"Uh, yeah, why don't you let me help you with that one." Dash assured.

"Um, okay?" Soarin' replied, still completely lost about what Scootaloo had mentioned.

Spitfire took a final drink from her draught. "Alright, well now that we've got everypony here," she looked to the three pegasi around her, "we can get started. So, lets hear it."

Soarin' started to open his mouth, but once again Rainbow cut him off. "Um, Spitfire could we hold on for just a sec?" Dash turned to Scootaloo. "Scoots?"

"I'm staying here." Scootaloo announced resolutely.

"Ugh, Scootaloo remember what I said earlier? I thought you said you'd let me handle this one for now."

"Yeah about that." Scootaloo smirked slyly. "I lied."

Rainbow seemed to be at a loss for words. "What?"

Scootaloo crossed her hooves. "Hey, you would have done the same thing, don't try to deny it."

Again Rainbow was speechless. She couldn't argue with the young pegasus' logic.

Soarin' chuckled lightly, while Spitfire simply smiled in amusement. "Looks like she's got you there Dash." The Wonderbolt Captain commented.

"Fine. But you better promise not to tell anypony, and I mean anypony. Got it?" Dash glared down at Scootaloo.

The copper mare had never seen Rainbow Dash more serious before. "I promise."

"Good." Rainbow replied curtly. She turned back to Spitfire.

Once more Spitfire regarded the pegasi around her. "Okay." She crossed her hooves on the table. "Lets hear it."


Half an hour passed as Soarin' and Rainbow each took turns filling in Spitfire on the events from previous two days. However, both omitted any mention of their parents.

Occasionally Spitfire looked skeptical as the two talked, but she remained silent. For her own part, Scootaloo was completely dumbstruck.

"So." Soarin' spoke heavily. "Now you know everything."

Spitfire took a moment, sighing deeply. She steepled her hooves, looking between Soarin' and Rainbow Dash. "That's quite the tale."

"Wow." Scootaloo voiced. That's what's been going on all this time? Ghosts and super powers and some kind of crazy storm? And Dash and Soarin' are supposed to be like these super pegasi from the past? This really takes the cake for all the crazy stuff that's happened in Ponyville the past few years. No wonder Dash and Soarin' have been acting so weird.

"I know it sounds crazy." Dash spoke up, trying to bolster her and Soarin's account. "But every bit of it is true."

"Well, I guess it would explain how Soarin' healed up so quickly, not to mention surviving an avalanche." Spitfire replied.

"So you believe us?" Soarin' looked hopefully toward his captain.

Spitfire sighed. "I want to. It's just all that stuff about ancient evils, ghosts, prophecies of heroes and the Twin Storms returning because of an Archon?" She raised a brow at the other two pegasi. "Those are just myths. Legends. Nopegasi actually believes there was an Archon who caused the Twin Storms, or the fables about the Legacy Bearers.”

“What myths? What legends? Who are the Legacy Bearers?” Scootaloo questioned in rapid succession, all the more intrigued. She had never heard of these legends before. Was what had happened to Soarin' and Dash a part of these stories? An even greater question dawned on the young mare. Am I a part of this too? Granted, she had not had the same experiences that Soarin' and Dash had related, and she was pretty sure that she wasn't invulnerable. But there were those creepy guys from earlier and that pen- ohmigosh! Scootaloo mentally jumped. I've got to tell about those robed gu-

Rainbow Dash jumped in before Scootaloo could speak up.

"Oh com'on Spitfire! Ghosts or not, these pegasi told us that were about to be in for one heck of a ride! This isn't some legend or myth! This is real!"

"The sickness from before." Soarin' commented. "I'm almost positive its connected, and like I just told you, its coming from the Everfree."

"That's just it though." Spitfire put a hoof to her temple. "All that stuff is either something only you two can hear, or some fluke of a virus going around." The yellow mare sighed again. "Like I said, I want to believe you. It's really not that far fetched, in light of events like Nightmare Moon and the spirit of chaos.”

“Hey wait a minute!” Scootaloo raised her hoof, waving it about to get the other pegasi's attention. “I've got some important stuff too!”

Spitfire raised a brow and Soarin' seemed confused. Dash on the other hoof, was terrified. Did she have some crazy thing to happen to her too? Rainbow mentally panicked. But she hasn't been acting weird, and definitely not like she's seen a ghost. Just relax Dash. It can't be her, it has to be Swift Jet... It has to be... Dash continued to inwardly fret. Why did she still worry for Scootaloo?

The trio of adults paused to let the youngest member continue.

“I don't know if its connected to what you guys are talking about, but I saw these two creepy robed pegasi come into Ponyville earlier.”

“Sounds just like a couple of travelers.” Soarin' replied.

“There's more too it than that. They seemed really intent on avoiding everypony. I followed them without being seen, but I wasn't able to get a good look at them. Not until...” Scootaloo trailed off, the black pendant coming to mind once more. “They stopped here. Said something about meeting other pegasi and the Everfree Forest.”

Soarin' and Rainbow glanced at each, now more concerned. Anypony interested in the forest was either a fool or up to no good. Given Soarin's brief experience with the place and recent events, the latter seemed more likely.

The mention of the forest sent up red flags once again in Soarin's mind. Again with that forest. There's now way that's some kind of coincidence.

Scootaloo continued.

“Before they went inside I saw this weird pendant one of them was wearing. And then, well, I'm not really sure what happened.”

“What do you mean?” Rainbow asked, not at all looking forward to the answer.

“It's like just seeing the pendant caused something to attack me, inside my head.” Scootaloo said quietly. Though Soarin' and Dash had just revealed what many would have considered crazy, Scootaloo still shrunk slightly at her own revelation, hoping she didn't sound like a lunatic. “It was like an fire in my head, it hurt so much I couldn't move. But then something else, like this power or something,” she glance up the trio around her, “it saved me.”

If Rainbow Dash hadn't looked worried before, she did now, a telling frown on her face. Though she didn't know anything about the travelers or the pendant Scootaloo had described, her rescuer sounded eerily similar to the aura that she and Soarin' had only recently become aware of. But that doesn't make any sense. Swift Jet has the aura, not Scootaloo!

Soarin' too seemed troubled, thoughts going back to the hazy pegasi from Pegasi Peak. Could the third pegasi really be a kid?

“I can't really speak to all that, but it sounds like the same kind of mind games that you two were talking about.” Spitfire commented. “Though I do remember hearing about a rogue unicorn with a destructive amulet a while back.”

“I haven't seen any robed pegasi since I've been here. If they are up to something, this meeting is someplace else inside the Trough and Cider.” Soarin' added.

“We'll keep an eye out.” Rainbow stated firmly. “If there's going to be a meeting, then it shouldn't be too hard to spot a bunch of these pegasi, especially if they're all dressed up like some freaky cultists.”

Spitfire shrugged. “The 'Bolts and I will keep a lookout too. But as far as the other stuff that you told me, I'm not sure what to make of it.”

Rainbow was about to protest when the yellow mare held up her hoof. “However, that doesn't mean I won't help you out.” She glanced to Soarin'. “I always backup my teammates,” she glanced back to Dash and Scootaloo, “and my friends.”

Soarin' smiled warmly.

Spitfire settled back in her seat. “I guess some of this stuff just doesn't add up to me.” She remarked casually. “Kinda weird how the ghost of Commander Hurricane doesn't know the legends or history, ya know? Not saying I believe in them, but even I know the stories.

"Stories? What are all these stories? Why won't somepony tell me?!” Scootaloo shouted, agitated at the lack of answers.

"Did somepony say a story?!"

Scootaloo was nearly knocked from her seat as pure white pegasi with a golden frizzy mane appeared out of nowhere.

Rainbow Dash looked mildly alarmed, though she had been tempered by her time with a similarly random pink earth pony.

Soarin' and Spitfire were unfazed.

"Uh, hey there Surprise. How's it going?”

“Amazing! But I just couldn't help but hear that somepony mentioned a story! That and you pegasi seemed waaayyy too serious for a party! How about a story?"

“I dunno.” Spitfire glanced to the three seated pegasi. “I was just going to have another drink.

“Oh come on Spitfire! You all have been sitting in a corner here for waaaaaaaay too long! Besides, this is a good story!” The white pegasus grinned, turning to address the crowd. “Who wants to hear the story of the pegasi and the Wonderbolts?!”

The crowd cheered back, slowly gathering around the stage.

Surprise cheered. “Okay!” She leaped into air across the crowd and onto the stage.

Spitfire rolled her eyes. “Well, I guess we got outvoted on this one.”

Scootaloo leaped out of the booth. “I'd actually like to hear the story.”

“Oh you'll like it.” Soarin' replied, stepping from the booth. “Surprise is sorta our unofficial history keeper. In her own special kinda way.”

“Most non-pegasi haven't heard this story before.” Spitfire added. “Given this is a festival about the Wonderbolt's and all, I suppose its fitting.”

Rainbow looked confused for a moment as the group made its way toward the stage. “But it's not like the history of the Wonderbolts is secret or anything.”

“I keep forgetting that you two didn't grow up in Cloudsdale.” Spitfire grinned. “Let's just say that the Wonderbolts go back a little farther than most ponies realize.”

Rainbow still looked confused, but said nothing. Instead, at Scootaloo's coaxing, she made her way toward the crowd, joining the rest of her friends.

Soarin' made a move to follow, until a yellow hoof at his own prompted him to stop. He turned around to a concerned Spitfire.

“Something wrong Spitfire?”

“Just something I want you to think about.” Spitfire had a very serious look on her face. “I'm all for helping Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo out, but what I'm about to say needs to stay within the Wonderbolts.”

Soarin' frowned slightly, but let the Wonderbolt Captain continue.

“I'm not sure if the Twin Storms were caused by an Archon the first time around or not, but if they show up again, the Hurricane Contingency will come into play.”

Soarin' immediately became more alert. How could he have forgotten? The stallion began to open his mouth, when a booming voice drowned him out.

“Okay everypony, we're about to start, as long as everypony is quiet!” Surprise announced from the stage, a snarky smile on her face. She proceeded to fake cough into her hoof, a muffled 'Spitfire' and 'Soarin' nestled between coughs.

Spitfire rolled her eyes again, smiling, all seriousness gone from her face. The mare motioned to Soarin' to follow her over to Rainbow and Scootaloo.

Soarin' was still troubled by Spitfire's words, but he did his best to push it from his mind. Maybe it won't be necessary. He thought, as he sided up next to Rainbow Dash.

The small side room was now completely packed, bolstered by ponies from the main bar. Surprise simply sat motionless on the stage facing the crowd with a large smile on her face. Then, quite abruptly her demeanor changed. No longer smiling, the white pegasus had a very stoic and dignified look on her face, and had somehow procured a pipe, large red leather chair, and matching lounging robe out of nowhere.

Twilight, along with several of Rainbow's friends were befuddled. “How did she do that?” The lavender unicorn thrust her hoof toward the stage. “Where did all that stuff come from?” She said aloud, her voice very apparent against the sudden stillness.

Pinkie Pie rolled her eyes. “Oh come on Twilight, even I know that one. Now shush!” The earth pony whispered.

Surprise raised a scrutinizing brow at Twilight, before taking a single puff from her pipe. The smoke lingered in the air for a moment, before suddenly splitting apart, racing toward the edge of the room as if possessed. The wisps doused the magical lanterns within the room, leaving only a gentle glow emanating from the front of the stage.

“You all know who the Wonderbolts are.” Surprise started to speak, her voice now deeper, almost serene sounding. Several members in the audience gawked slightly, but remained silent.

“The greatest fliers in Equestria, Cloudsdale's finest, the first into the fray, and should skies ever be threatened,” Surprise paused for a moment, “a fighting force second to none.”

Several Wonderbolt's pumped there hooves into the air, accompanied by a holler or 'damn straight'.

The austere storyteller continued. “But what many of you may not know, is that the story of the Wonderbolts is far more ancient, wrapped in the myths and legends of the pegasi race.”

Swift Jet rejoined his daughter, seating himself alongside her.

“Though much has been lost to time, the origins of the Legacy Guard are still known to us. I bring to you tonight the epic story of the birth of the Wonderbolts, and how they helped save the pegasi race.”

Surprise took another puff from her pipe, the smoke lazily wafting around the stage. Scootaloo gazed up at the curious wisps. They seemed to move with a certain purpose, enticing the audience to watch and wait.

“Our story begins...” the smoke twisted and turned slowly taking shape. Scootaloo squinted at the haze. Was it actually forming something? It was like Surprise's words were guiding the smoke, slowly crafting it.

“Over five and half millennia ago...” Surprise continued, the white pegasus partially hidden by the smoke. The gray mist continued to swirl about, slowly forming what resembled a castle on a mountain peak.

Scootaloo looked around to the crowd; she couldn't have been the only one to see the smoke forming before her. She was relived to see that her father, Rainbow Dash, members of the weather team, and others stood in rapt attention, as she had before, transfixed by the scene upon the stage. But that reassurance led to another revelation. A second check confirmed that only the present pegasi seemed to 'see' the formation on the stage. The rest paid attention, but she could tell that the haze before them did little more than obscure the storyteller.

“Dad?” Scootaloo whispered worriedly up at her father.

“Shh.” He replied with a wink, draping a wing over her. “Just watch and listen.”

Surprise droned on. “Before the Royal ascendance of Celestia and Luna, when the pegasi race was young, before the great migration to Equestria...”

Surprise paused once more, taking a final puff, the smoke completing the wispy structure.

“When the Archons flew among us.”


Far from Equestria, high in the Dragon Ridge Mountains, lay the ancient city of Skythus. The ancestral home of the pegasi, legends say it was a towering city, hewn from the tallest peak in the mountain range. It stood formidable against the pure blue sky, it's darkened stone bringing forth a commanding presence. Though many of you may think of the Royal Castle in Canterlot, you would do well to end such a comparison, as it paled in size and scale to the darkened monument of pegasi power. Indeed, the city-fortress of Skythus, with its many spires and battlements, was the very throne of the sky. It stood as the crown jewel to the Pegasi Empire, lording over the vast sky scape that was the pegasi's domain.

And so it was that the pegasi were the lords of the sky, unchallenged in military might and power. The savage Gryphons took flight at the sight of the aerial legions, and even the great Dragon Lords bowed their horned heads to the pegasi. You may ask yourself how such a thing is possible, to not only confront the fiery rage of a dragon, but to subject their entire race to a sworn treaty of fealty. While it is true that the pegasi squadrons had over the centuries perfected the art of dragon slaying, a far greater force compelled the Dragon Lords' to submission.

The Council of Archons. The Masters of the Sky. If every pegasi was a noble of the heavens, then the Archons were surely kings, immortals, near deities of immense wisdom and power. Those whose powers were said to be of the sky, to control the elements, with storms, blizzards and hurricanes, tornadoes and lightning so immense and violent that it lit the sky like a second sun. Such powers, this pegasi magic, that not even Celestia or Luna could imitate. It was they who solidified the pegasi as the lords of the sky. They who rendered their aid to the Lunar and Celestial deities against the global Strife of Discord. And of their greatest duty; to watch over the Legacy of the Pegasi, the mystical power that binds all pegasi, their very spirit. Of all pegasi legend and myth, none more is greater and tragic then of these majestic figures.

Perhaps you are wondering then how the Wonderbolts, amazing as they are, would find a place amongst our warrior ancestors. It is not a happy tale. For the Wonderbolts were born out of necessity, one that no pegasi of the time could have predicted they would need. They were not the aerial flight team you know them today. Rather, they were specially chosen warrior pegasi, by the strength of their will and bloodline, each a master of his craft. Neither were they known as Wonderbolts. No my friends, they were the Legacy Guard, that hallowed and famous unit that saved the pegasi race. Drawn together by none other than the Heroes of the Pegasi, Commander Hurricane, Lightning Streak, and Ice Wing, this band of legendary pegasi and the mythic trio that led them confronted the unthinkable threat that nearly saw an end to the pegasi's freedom in the skies.

But what force could have even thought to clip the wings of the mighty pegasi?

Time and Power. Given enough power, and enough time, and all but the most pure will succumb to its corruption. So it was with the Archon Council. Those who were the paragons of pegasi will and purity, integrity and honor, those guardians of the fabled legacy, became the enemy of their own. Time has eroded the details, but it is clear that they fell to their own ambitions of greater power.

All but one.

The Last Archon. The Master of Storms. The Last Guardian of the Legacy. It was he, disgusted with what his brethren had become, who warned Commander Hurricane of the Council's treachery. It was he, who with Commander Hurricane, his Lieutenant's, and the Legacy Guard, that led the pegasi and fought back against the corrupted Masters.

Little is known of the actual conflict, whether it was a prolonged war, or a single battle is unknown. However, the legends do not leave us without the final confrontation.

The Siege of Skythus. The entire Archon Council brought their power to bear. A singular storm circled the great fortress, the greatest and most violent the world has seen. Scores of tornadoes danced across the skyscape, weaving a trail of destruction around the city. Lightning fell like rain, burning the air and turning the sky into a death trap. Hail and rain came in murderous volleys, like elemental arrows descending into the forces of good.

Truly, the Archons combined might and mastery over the elements seemed an assured victory. But Commander Hurricane did not only have to contest with the Masters' control of nature's primal power. Twisted, darkened powers of manipulation were at the Council's disposal.

The Storm Stalkers. Beings of pegasi nightmares. Thunderclouds given pegasi form, whose only intent was to kill. Ever shifting with the winds, with reddened eyes that glowed menacingly in their misty skulls, these were the primary soldiers of the Archons. Each lightning strike heralded another Storm Stalker, bursting forth in waves from the source of the bolt. They swooped downward on electric wings, to strike with lightning daggers at their hooves.

But the horrors of the Council's dark magic persisted still. Considered a myth even in their own time, the Masters' combined power brought about the Leviathan, an entire Thunderhead given life. Not even the stories can tell what this colossal monstrosity appeared as, but it is likely it overshadowed the mighty city, orchestrating volleys of gale winds, and hurling cyclones with pinpoint accuracy into the Commander Hurricane's squadrons.

Even the Dragon Lords were summoned, those forced allies bound by their pact to the Archon Council, to bring their razor jaws and blasts of fire breath that fused armor solid. Though they loathed such commitment to Council, the Dragons thrived in battle, and they were only too happy to exact revenge on the Dragon Slayers of Skythus. Scores of the scaly and leather winged beasts descended into battle, tearing through formation after formation with their sheer size and momentum alone.

So it was that the Siege of Skythus began. Every power of the Archons control of the elements and the horrors of their dark magic against the outnumbered but valiant legions and squadrons of Commander Hurricane and the pegasi race. But not all was lost. This would not be a suicidal onslaught on an impregnable fortress. Though the odds were set against them, Commander Hurricane and his Lieutenants had several important weapons at their disposal.

The Last Archon, though only one against his many brethren, brought his own powers to battle. As the Last Guardian of the Legacy, his power countered many aspects of the Council's strategy, and his very presence bolstered the spirit of the pegasi.

And then of course, there were the ancient Wonderbolts, the Legacy Guard. The best of the best. The elite squadron of the pegasi, whose sole purpose was to combat the Archons and their nightmare forces.

Thus the battle lines were drawn. The pegasi squadrons, confronted with an unknown enemy in the Storm Stalkers and the unrelenting artillery of the Leviathan, were initially pushed back, made all the more complicated by the vicious barrages and assaults by the Dragon Lords. It seemed as if the battle would stall at its very beginning, the forces of good held at the perimeter by the wall of tornadoes, and the repeated assaults of the fire breathers. But they were not to be driven from the skyfield of battle. Commander Hurricane led the Legacy Guard into the fray, bolting past the outer defenses that had initially rebuffed the pegasi's primary assault.

The Archons center line had been punctured, their first defense breached. Here the battle descended into one of hoof to hoof and steel on steel brawls, the Legacy Guard tangling with dive bombing lightning strikes of the Storm Stalkers. Legacy Guard pegasi rose to meet the attackers, rolling and feinting, drawing their demonic foes to a level playing field. Through sheer will power and determination, the Legacy Guard battled the seemingly endless wave of foes, decapitating the misty visages with bladed hoof or skewered by a razor lance. Others met the diving monstrosities head on, hoof meeting hoof as the two combatants would tumble downward in a death spiral, only a mortal blow to separate the two.

Yet even in this moment of progress and possibility of turning the tide, the Archons saw an opportunity. With the Legacy Guard embroiled in combat in the very center of the battle, they could envelope the much smaller force from both flanks, encircling Commander Hurricane, and squeezing his forces in a tightening vice.

Would the Legacy Guard fall, and instead of valiant victory, herald the defeat those who fought for freedom?

No! For the seasoned and crafty Commander Hurricane was no fool. In fact, the Archons had fallen for the Commander's trap. Just when it seemed as if the Archon's forces would encircle the Legacy Guard, Lieutenants Lightning Streak and Ice Wing charged forward, each leading a squadron of pegasi to guard their Commander's flanks, and slamming into their flanking opponents. Though also smaller forces in their own, the Lieutenants surged forward with their command's supersonic momentum, blunting the ravenous hoard of Storm Stalkers. It was here that the squadron of pegasi Dragon Slayers, held in reserve, found their revenge. Having pushed past the initial line of Dragon Lords, they doubled back upon their scaly foes, and in an elite display of precision and ruthlessness, overwhelmed the dragons in a hail of steel and avenged their fallen brothers in wings.

For a splitting moment, it seemed as if victory was a possibility. Lightning Streak and Ice Wing were continuing to hammer forward, hoping to turn the tables on Archons' forces, and outflank and encircle Skythus.

But it was not to be. The conflict degenerated into one massive battle line, a stalemate stretching miles across. Such a fight would be the pegasi's undoing. For every Storm Stalker felled, three valiant legionnaires plummeted from the sky. Their lines continued to thin as Commander Hurricane's forces were subjected to the continual bombardment of the Leviathan, all the while trying to hold the line in the tempest. It was only a matter of time.

It was then that The Last Archon made his appearance. Streaking across the darkened sky, the magnified pegasi flew at super sonic speeds, and with one outstretched electric hoof, shot through the heart of the Leviathan. Lightning sputtered from the titan's wound, arcing about the dying abomination. The hail of rain and wind ceased their murderous bombardment of the pegasi, as the Leviathan exploded from it's wound. The electrical surge lit the sky as a second sun, momentarily blinding the combatants, and decimated one quarter of Skythus, vaporizing anything and everything, pegasi and Storm Stalker alike.

With the single greatest sign of the Archon's power removed from the sky scape, the pegasi forces fought with renewed vigor.

But even with the Leviathan destroyed, the pegasi could only stem the tide against the seeming endless wave of Storm Stalkers. True victory would only lie in the destruction of the Archons themselves.

Only one of their own would be the Archons undoing. The Last Archon flew to the top of Skythus, where the Council orchestrated the chaos below.

Outnumbered by his peers, it seemed a suicidal endeavor. But through sheer willpower, with the spirit of the pegasi bolstering him forth and the love and pride he carried with him for his embattled brothers below, the Last Guardian of the Legacy engaged the corrupted deities in a confrontation that would decide the future of the pegasi race.

All manner of other-worldly powers were exchanged between the Council and the singular Archon. Reddened lightning bolts shot forth from wingtips while cyclones shot from armored hooves. The Last Archon crossed lightning blades with several of his foes, fending multiple attacks simultaneously. One by one the corrupted paragons fell to the Guardian.

Finally, after hours of prolonged combat atop the Skythus tower, bloody and bruised, The Last Archon faced down his final opponent. The Grand Archon. Once the greatest of the mighty Archons, this master of masters, had become the single greatest threat to the citizens of Skythus and beyond. No longer the apex of the values the pegasi held, rather an affront to them, the Grand Archon was the physical manifestation of evil. So horrid was his corruption, that even his physical form had come undone. No longer did he bear a sky blue coat and pure white mane, instead his visage was jet black from head to hoof. Instead of sharp, graceful wings like a hawk, they were only wild and angular wings that coursed with arcs of unrestricted electricity. And instead of the other-worldly and wise pale yellow eyes that had for countless millennia saw the rise of the pegasi, there was a burning red inferno that had overseen the chaos that engulfed Skythus. Altogether the Last Archon stood before the visage of a demon from depths of Tartarus, one who had burnt away a once wise and noble leader in an inferno of corruption.

Words cannot describe the epic conflict that took place on the very pinnacle of the Throne of the Sky. But what is known, is that The Last Archon, the singular paragon and savior of the pegasi race, smote down his opponent, the enemy of all pegasi.

With the final source of corrupted power destroyed, the Storm Stalkers vanished, and with them, the wild tempest from which they came. Commander Hurricane, the Legacy Guard, and the rest of the pegasi forces could finally claim victory.

So it came to pass that the pegasi race survived perhaps the greatest threat any race this world has seen since the Strife of Discord.

What happened afterward is lost to the mists of time. Perhaps the destruction wrought by the conflict was too much to recover from. Perhaps the Dragon Lords and the Gryphons forced the pegasi to migrate to Equestria. We may never know.

As for the fate of the Last Archon, he would fade away to the Valley of the Stars, where he would wait, to return when the pegasi would once again call on a hero to lead them in their darkest hour.

As for Commander Hurricane and his Lieutenants, the Heroic trio would go on to lead the pegasi race, eventually leading them to Equestria, the place we now call home.

And that is our story, just a small part of the legend of the pegasi race. How heroes rose up against the Archons, those they had thought to be their greatest allies. How the Last Archon stood against his brethren, how Commander Hurricane rallied the nation, and how the Greatest Fliers in Equestria, were born as the Greatest Warriors of the Sky, the Legacy Guard, and saved a nation.

Ch. 12: Confounded Heroes, Growing Friendships and Lethal Tempests

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Legacy of the Pegasi:

Chapter 12: Confounded Heroes, Growing Friendships and Lethal Tempests

“So? Whaddya all think?”

The crowd stood agape and in utter silence, not at all registering Surprise's question. For a second the white pegasus frowned, wondering if something had gone wrong. Thankfully, the crowd's collective mind seemed to have finally kicked back in, erupting into an applause, bolstered by cheers and whistles.

“Aww yeaaaahhhh!” Surprise leaped into the air, hoof pumping in celebration. “Score one for the Wonderbolts! Thanks everypony! I'm glad you enjoyed the story!”

Cheers and applause replied back, slowly quieting as ponies dispersed, avidly chattering away about their favorite parts from the tale.

Scootaloo was equally amazed by the story that Surprise had bestowed upon the crowd. However, as amazing as it was, some things just didn't add up, just like Spitfire had said. Maybe the story is wrong. I mean Surprise kept saying how it was a bunch of myths and legends. Maybe Dad knows. Scootaloo turned to her father, but the stallion was nowhere to be seen.

“Dad?” Scootaloo called out, turning about to locate her father. But the stallion had all but disappeared. “Well that's weird. Where could he have gone?”

“Don't worry Scoots.” Dash reassured the younger pegasus. “He probably just went to get a drink.” Though she put on a comforting smile for Scootaloo, Rainbow was just as worried. She and Soarin' would have to confront Swift Jet soon.

“I guess.” Scootaloo replied absently, still glancing about the small room as ponies continued to exit. However, her concern was only momentary. “So what did you think of the story?” she asked, her simple question asking several at once.

Rainbow Dash frowned. She had hoped to avoid talking to the copper filly about the 'problem' that she and Soarin' had been dealing with. Unfortunately Surprise's story had been a bit of a curve ball, raising a whole new set of questions.

“I'm not too sure...” Dash replied truthfully. The gears in her mind turned as she tried to make sense of yet another revelation. This doesn't seem right. Lightning Streak said he would come back, and that we had to stop him, but the Grand Archon was defeated. How could he come back?

She turned to Soarin', hoping the stallion was having a better time with this new information.

Unfortunately, Soarin' wore the same embittered frown that Dash did.

“Soarin', is this story true?”

The stallion turned to meet Dash's worried eyes, already aware of what she was thinking. “It can't be. I mean, its just a legend, a myth. For all we know, there were no Archons, no Council, no war. Otherwise...” The stallion trailed off, drawn back to his own troubled thoughts. How could I have forgotten the story? But how can it be so wrong?

“Otherwise this whole thing isn't making sense. You said that Commander Hurricane and Lieutenants Lightning Streak and Ice Wing actually fought the Archon in that vision thing Commander Hurricane showed you. Not to mention you said that they helped the Last Archon at Pegasi Peak, not Skythus. But this story says the complete opposite.”

“That's because it is just a story.” Spitfire interjected. “That fable is thousands of years old, no telling how mangled and jumbled its become.”

“Yeah, but the Mare in the Moon was just a story and that turned out to be true.” Scootaloo countered.

“For all we know it could go either way.” Soarin' replied, not sure of either Spitfire or Scootaloo's points. “It's just odd that so little matches up.” The stallion reasoned aloud. “Commander Hurricane and the others only fought one Archon. And I don't remember any bit of Skythus or the Council.” The stallion recalled, thinking back to the bleary vision within his mind. “Though Hurricane's ghost has been anything but clear.”

“Do you think Hurricane was talking about the Grand Archon back at Pegasi Peak? This 'Typhonis' guy?” Rainbow suggested.

“I suppose it's possible.” The stallion replied with a sigh. “At any rate it doesn't really matter at this point. There's still some kind of threat, and right now it doesn't matter who exactly the threat is.”

“Yeah, I guess so.” Dash agreed half heartily, not at all satisfied with the situation.

“Well, if the story is true, I really hope that Last Archon Guardian dude will show up.” Scootaloo said absently. “Would make things a hay of a lot easier if he helped us out like he did with Hurricane.”

“I wouldn't count on it.” Spitfire added, leaning lazily against a chair. “You're better off with the 'Bolts coming in rescue the day.” She gave a cocky grin. “Just like we always do.”

There was a mild chuckle amongst the small group, but Soarin' and Dash still found themselves bothered by the conflict of information.

“So now what do we do?” Scootaloo prompted the two elder pegasi.

“Nothing.” Soarin' replied with an exhausted huff.

“Nothing?” Scootaloo echoed, a curious look on her face. Rainbow Dash also regarded the stallion quizzically. She was a mare of action. Nothing usually equaled boredom.

“Yep. Talking about all this stuff makes my brain hurt.” The stallion massaged his temple with his hoof. “That and I don't really think there's a whole lot for Dash and I to do at this point.” The stallion replied, making sure to separate himself and Dash from the inquisitive younger mare.

Rainbow inwardly relaxed, thankful for Soarin's support. If things got dicey, she didn't want Scootaloo involved.

Scootaloo was none too happy. “Hey!” She set herself squarely at the stallion, her wings fidgeting in irritation. “What's this 'Dash and I' business all about? I thought that-”

“There ya are!”

Four sets of eyes jerked toward the doorway.

Applejack stomped toward the four pegasi, a stern look on her face. In tow was Twilight, Spike, Rarity, Fluttershy and Pinkie, each trying unsuccessfully to coax the farm pony to calm down.

All thoughts from Scootaloo's outburst were forgotten. Instead, four pegasi stared down the charging cow pony with very different reactions. Scootaloo, despite her earlier warning, resigned herself, placidly awaiting the entertainment before her. Next to her, Soarin's face spoke volumes of confusion, his mouth agape slightly as he tried to decipher the sudden anger that was bearing down upon him. Rainbow Dash simply groaned aloud, face-hoofing in annoyance. Spitfire glanced between Scootaloo and the unfolding scene. Smirking slightly, the mare chose instead to nurse her drink as she looked on.

Applejack stomped onward, stopping just a few hooves shy of the Wonderbolt. Her stetson set low upon her brow, she set upon the stallion with an icy and threatening glare, her jaw clenched in anger.

“Just what in tar-nation did you think you were doing?” She thrust her hoof toward the confused stallion.

For his own part Soarin' held his ground, but it was increasingly obvious he had no idea why he had an enraged mare in front of him. His eyes darted around the room, silently imploringly somepony to save him.

Rarity stepped forward from group behind the enraged mare. A pure white unicorn, with a highly styled mane and tail, she bore a trio of diamonds for her cutie mark which espoused her fashion skills. The Element of Generosity resided within her, so it was only natural that she was the first to come to Soarin's rescue.

“Now, now Applejack, darling,” Rarity said lightly in her trans-Canterlonian accent, “there's no reason we can't be civil about this.”

Applejack twisted around, eying the white unicorn. “Somehow I don't think ya would've been thinking the same thing if Carousel Boutique had been hit by a twister.”

“Now listen here, you are acting completely ridiculou-”

“Can it Rarity.” Applejack flung back at the unicorn venomously, not bothering to look back.

Scootaloo snickered slightly as Rarity looked as if she had been slapped in the face. It wasn't too often that the unicorn lost her composure.

Unfortunately for Soarin', AJ's retort shut Rarity down.

Thankfully, all of Rainbow's friends were in attendance.

Fluttershy, a yellow pegasus with a pink mane and butterflies on her flank symbolizing her skill with animals peeked around from behind Twilight and Spike. Quiet and reserved, the Element of Kindness was far from confrontational, yet when her friends were involved, she always made an effort. In her own awkward way.

Shaking slightly, she tried to reach Applejack. “Um. Maybe you could calm down Applejack. Maybe he didn't mean to do it?”

“Fluttershy's right AJ.” Twilight added, hoping to bolster the timid pegasus' plea.

Applejack merely glared from Twilight to Fluttershy, eliciting a defeated frown from Twilight and a muffled 'meep' from the yellow pegasus, who promptly scurried back to the safety of the unicorn and dragon.

“Just what did I do?” Soarin' finally announced, drawing all eyes toward him.

Applejack whipped back in front of the offender. She leaned in closer, staring down the stallion icily.

Soarin' didn't flinch, now more annoyed than anything.

“You destroyed half my farm!” Applejack accused through clenched teeth, seething in anger.

Soarin's eyes lit up momentarily, suddenly taking in the whole picture. “Oh. That.”

“Yeah. That.”

“Come on AJ, cool your wings, er, hooves.” Rainbow said casually, as she sided up next to Soarin'. “It's not that big of a deal.”

“And how would you know Rainbow Dash?” Applejack lashed out. “You're no farmer, so you'll excuse me if I don't think much of yer opinion at the moment.”

Dash remained unfazed, the only pony that could go hoof to hoof with Applejack. “Hey, Soarin' made a mistake and he didn't mean what he did.” Rainbow glared back for a moment, before grinning wickedly. “Besides, its not like Sweet Apple Acres hasn't been destroyed before; it was probably due.”

Those assembled collectively groaned at Rainbow's quip. Clearly the situation was headed downhill.

Applejack growled fiercely, not at all amused by RD's joke. She took a step toward the the rainbow mare, but stopped when Soarin' spoke up.

“Stop. Just stop for a minute.”

All eyes were once again upon the Wonderbolt, but this time Soarin' was calm, addressing Applejack evenly.

“Ms. Applejack.”

The orange farm pony was taken aback slightly by the title, but this did little to soften her attitude toward the stallion. “What?” She said tersely.

“First and foremost, I want to apologize for what I did to your farm. I was stressed out and aggressive flying has always been an outlet. However, that is no excuse for what I did to your farm.”

Again Applejack softened slightly, if only not to have scowl on her face. “That may be true, but an apology don't change the fact that my orchard is a wreck.”

“Which brings me to a proposal, if you'll accept it.”

Applejack raised a brow, genuinely surprised. She hadn't expected that. “Alright. Shoot.”

“Given the amount of damage that my actions caused, I will provide the necessary bits to ensure that everything affected on your farm is repaired or replaced.”

Applejack huffed in annoyance. “You think throwing money at a problem will just make it go away?”

“I'm not finished.”

Applejack blinked in surprise.

Soarin' continued. “I will personally work as a farm hoof for free, to ensure that your home is fixed. If I need to take time off from the Wonderbolts, I'll do it.” The stallion regarded Applejack evenly. “I don't do a job halfway. I always make amends for my mistakes and I always repay my debts.”

Applejack, including everyone else in the room, was speechless. There had been no hint of hesitation or wavering in Soarin's words. He had meant every bit of it.

Rainbow grinned madly as she silently cheered for the Wonderbolt. Nice one Soarin'!

Spitfire simply nodded in approval. Well played Soar.

Applejack seemed to be at a loss for words, her eyes darting about as she tried to find the words to address Soarin'.

“I, well, that’s uh...” She drifted off for a moment, before squaring up before the blue pegasus. “I don't rightly know what to say.” All anger had left Applejack's face. “I accept your offer. And, well...I...” again she drifted off. “I don't say it often, but I'm sorry for getting so mad earlier. I shouldn't have been so rude to ya.”

There was a collective sigh as everypony felt the suffocating tension from only moments before evaporate.

Soarin' gave a small smile. “It's alright. You had a right to be angry.”

Applejack grimaced. “Maybe. That doesn't mean I feel good about it.”

“Alright, enough of the sappy stuff!” Rainbow announced, giving a congratulatory pat on Soarin's back.

For once, Applejack smiled at Rainbow's frivolous levity. “Yeah, I s'pose you're right RD.” She turned to Soarin'. “We got off on the wrong hoof. I'm Applejack.” The mare extended her hoof for a shake.

Soarin' took a second to glance at AJ's hoof, then with a bemused grin, met his hoof with hers, bumping it casually. “I'm Soarin'. Wonderbolt, and all around awesome pegasus.”

“Well that's good to hear.” Applejack smiled slyly, leaning towards Rainbow. “'Cause I know another pegasus that thinks the same way. Maybe you two should get to know one another?”

Rainbow Dash suddenly froze. The situation had suddenly taken a much different turn.

“Oh, yes!” Rarity rushed forward. “Rainbow dear, you must tell me you aren't about to let such a gentlemanly stallion just walk off, are you?”

Despite the fact that it was at Rainbow's expense, Scootaloo couldn't help but laugh.

Rainbow was just as red in the face as the strands that ran in her mane. “R-Rarity!” She exclaimed.

Soarin' shuffled awkwardly, trying to pretend he hadn't heard anything.

“Oh Rainbow, you mustn’t be so embarrassed about such a thing! Why you should consider yourself lucky to know such a stallion, given your, ah, more rough and tumble tendencies.”

Rainbow could not have been more furious. But it was tempered by the bright red on her face against her cyan coat. “Rarity!”

Soarin' suddenly seemed to take a sudden interest in the particular construction of the Trough and Cider's ceiling.

Those assembled joined Scootaloo in grinning and chuckling at the display; Applejack and Rarity's insufferable prodding, and the amusing reactions from an increasingly embarrassed Rainbow Dash.

Pinkie Pie began trotting a circle around the group, singing a song about Soarin' and Rainbow sitting in a tree.

Spitfire casually walked up next to Soarin', and telling look on her face.

“Well, well Soarin'. I never figured that you'd actually take my advice seriously.” The Wonderbolt Captain commented glibly, while Soarin stared daggers back in reply. “There may be hope for you yet...”

The group finally burst out laughing. Despite the jibes, Soarin' risked a sidelong glance at Dash. She still leveled a lethal stare at Applejack and Rarity, but briefly met Soarin's eyes. In the second that she recognized Soarin's small smile, she jerked her gaze away, silently cursing herself as she shone an even darker shade of red.

“Okay, okay.” Applejack announced amid the chorus of laughter. “I've had my fun.”

Slowly the group dissipated into several casual conversations, joined by other members of the Wonderbolts.

Twilight strode over toward Spitfire, Soarin, and Dash, an eager look on her face.

Rainbow groaned. “Better watch out.” She whispered to the two Wonderbolts. “We're about to be assaulted by an egghead.”

Soarin' and Spitfire barely had time to react to Dash's comment before the lavender unicorn was upon the trio.

“Hello!” Twilight greeted, in an almost painfully cheery voice. “I don't believe we've been properly introduced. My name is Twilight Sparkle. I'm one of Rainbow's close friends.”

The unicorn extended her hoof, at which Spitfire and Soarin' cordially exchanged introductions.

“So,” Twilight started off slowly, seemingly trying to restrain some kind of mental impatience. “I was a bit curious about that story about the pegasi. I never had the opportunity to study pegasi history, so I was wondering if you could clarify a few things.” As she said this, Twilight levitated a notebook in front of her. “If you don't mind.”

Soarin' and Spitfire exchanged surprised glances.

“See. Told ya.” Rainbow commented flatly.

Twilight ignored the pegasus' remark, instead staring expectantly at the two Wonderbolt's.

“Uh, well, I'm not a history expert or anything...” Spitfire started awkwardly, unsure how to address the unicorn's question.

Soarin' jumped to Spitfire's rescue. “Well, I would say that while some of the story has to be based off of some kind of fact, for the most part it's just that; a story.”

Twilight seemed partially relieved and dissatisfied with the Wonderbolts' reply. “So you would agree that whole bit about pegasi using magic is ridiculous right?”

“Uh, well yeah.” The Wonderbolt stallion replied. “Everypony knows that pegasi don't have magic like unicorns do. I don't see why it would've been any different thousands of years ago.” Though that might need some reevaluation, if Commander Hurricane has anything to say about.

Twilight frowned slightly, turning to her notebook. “Well, that's not exactly the answer I was hoping for, but I'll take it, in light of the lack of facts available from such a story.” The unicorn studiously scribbled in her notebook. “It does help that I have a Cloudsdale pegasus to confirm my thoughts though.” Twilight seemed to relax as she set her notebook aside. “I mean, how could anypony even think of pegasi being more powerful than Princesses Celestia and Luna?”

Spitfire rolled her eyes, clearly annoyed. For his own part, Soarin' couldn't help but mentally groan. Not this stuff again.

Twilight seemed oblivious to the two Wonderbolt's reactions. Unfortunately, there were others who had overheard her remark.

Fleetfoot stumbled forward, reeking of alcohol and clearly drunk. He swayed for a moment, seemingly trying to gather his thoughts, before taking a large swig from the drink in his hoof. “Celestia!?” He exclaimed boisterously, struggling to keep himself steady. “Pfff. You know if there was an Archon...” The pegasus slurred slightly, pointedly jerking toward Twilight. “...if there was an Archon, he would totally kick Celestia's royal flank!”

Twilight simply stared at the intoxicated stallion, in complete and utter shock. An incomprehensible look smeared across her face, almost as if somepony had spat at the single most holy thing in all of Equestria.

Spitfire and Soarin' groaned, as all eyes turned toward the drunken Wonderbolt.

Rainbow simply raised a brow at the clumsy stallion. While she could understand Twilight's reaction, she couldn't help but recall Fleetfoot's similar reaction from the day prior.

Fleetfoot again seemed lost as his eyes glazed over, drifting over Twilight's hooves for a moment. However, he snapped back quite suddenly, returning to focus. “And Luna too!”

Twilight, who had recovered from her initial shock, made a move to reply, but Spitfire intervened.

“Alright Fleets, you've made your point. Lets go.”

Fleetfoot tried to dodge Spitfire and Soarin's approach, but only succeeded in tumbling over a chair, flopping awkwardly onto the floor. “Oh come on, you know what I'm talking about 'Fire! Those Allicornies are just a bunch of sissies and keep putting us down!” He yelled out, staggering to his hooves. Spitfire and Soarin' attempted to forcefully guide their teammate away, but Fleetfoot was hardly a compliant drunk. Struggling against an increasingly irritated Spitfire and Soarin', Fleetfoot momentarily broke free. “And I know I'm not the only pegasi! Am I right!?” The intoxicated stallion hollered out, pumping his hoof into the air and promptly spilling the remainder of his drink.

Several Wonderbolts hollered back, with their own alcohol infused jeers.

“Buck yeah! Bunch of royal snobs!”

“Wouldn't be anywhere without the pegasi!”

“You tell 'em Fleets!”

Fleetfoot leaped momentarily into the air. “Woohooo! Yeah!” He yelled out, then promptly collapsed to the floor, passed out.

For a moment it was awkwardly quiet as all assembled stared at the sprawled out form of the formerly cajoling Wonderbolt, completely oblivious as he slept away in the remnants of his spilled drink.

Eager to end the spectacle, Spitfire stepped forward. “Sorry you had to see that everypony.” She stated quickly, before snapping off a quick command. “Surprise! Little help with Fleetfoot here!”

Bounding from across the room, Surprise cheerily saluted her Captain. “No problemo Cappy!” Then, to the amazement of all those assembled, save for Soarin', Spitfire and Pinkie, Surprise proceeded to lift Fleetfoot onto her back with ease, and out of the room.

Unfortunately, the departure of Fleetfoot was not the end of an embarrassing situation as Soarin' and Spitfire had hoped.

Twilight engaged Spitfire and Soarin' again, clearly looking for an explanation. “I'm sorry, but I have to ask. What exactly was that all about?”

“Have to admit, that was a right bit odd.” Applejack added.

“I agree.” Rarity spoke up. “Surely the Princesses would never have done something that would deserve such remarks.”

While Twilight's concern was understandable, Rainbow found herself just as curious as her friends as to why the Wonderbolts held such a negative opinion of the Royals. In fact, everypony was now staring at the two Wonderbolts, awaiting a reply.

Spitfire sighed aloud. “Listen. Cloudsdale Pegasi are fiercely independent, and that includes the Wonderbolts. Let's just say that we don't have the greatest regard for the Royals and leave it at that. We're here to put on a show, not discuss politics.”

Those assembled seemed satisfied enough, dispersing once more. Sensing that the lavender unicorn wouldn't take no for an answer, Spitfire subtly nodded at Soarin', the two pegasi quickly excusing themselves in the shuffle of the small group.

Bereft of the two Wonderbolts, Twilight turned to the next best thing, Rainbow Dash.

“Is Cloudsdale really like that?”

Scootaloo, who had observed the whole ordeal, tentatively waited on the elder pegasi's reply. Since she had been born in Ponyville, Scootaloo had never heard about Cloudsdale pegasi being any different.

Rainbow shrugged. “What Spitfire said is sorta true. Cloudsdale's always been a really proud city, but I've never heard of something that extreme before. Nothing I was ever into.” She glanced off to where Spitfire and Soarin' had left, still unsure what to think of her new friends' thoughts about the Princesses. “But then again, you're asking the wrong pony if you want info on political stuff. Blech. Boring.”

Twilight frowned, her insatiable need for knowledge and explanations clearly gnawing at her.

Scootaloo exhaled slightly in relief. She knew Rainbow Dash was from Cloudsdale, and that she held no ill feelings toward the Royals, but it felt good to hear her say so. Still, it was hard to believe that awesome pegasi like Spitfire and Soarin' could dislike sompony like Celestia or Luna.

“Sounds like Cloudsdale isn't all that great then.” The teenager commented.

“I wouldn't go that far squirt.” Rainbow replied. “Yours truly is from Cloudsdale, so it has to be awesome.”

“Yeah, yeah should've seen that one coming.” Scootaloo sighed comically at Rainbow's well trained ego.

“And if it isn't awesome, well I'll just have to go there and make it awesome!”

Both pegasi laughed, thankful to be rid of the previously bothersome topic. However, Twilight still found herself bothered by the recent influx of information, both of improbable pegasi legends and the sudden dislike for her mentor.

“What about all these legends and ridiculousness about pegasi using magic? Does that sound familiar? Surely there can't be any historical basis for such an absurd notion.”

Rainbow panicked for a moment, unsure how to reply. She really didn't want to lie to Twilight, but letting her know about everything she and Soarin' had just revealed to Spitfire and Scootaloo seemed like a bad idea. Twilight could be a little neurotic at times, and she didn't want worry the unicorn. Not to mention Twilight would constantly hound her for information, if she was to even believe her in the first place.

So she simply shook her head.

Scootaloo shot a quizzical look at Dash, but wisely kept her mouth shut.

“Well, I know a little bit about it.”

Fluttershy moved silently forward to join the trio of ponies. Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo looked mildly alarmed, but Twilight was all ears as she intently stared at the yellow pegasus.

“Really? What do you know?” Twilight leaned toward Fluttershy, eager for answers.

The yellow pegasus recoiled slightly, not usually the one on the receiving end of Twilight's ravenous thirst for knowledge.

“Um. Well, it's mostly what I remember from school and what my parents told me as a foal. The Archon is a great hero. Though it is just a legend, many pegasi truly believe the Archon existed. Some even treat him like a saint.”

“Interesting...” Twilight murmured, lost in front of her notebook as her quill madly jotted away. “Anything else?” The unicorn looked up expectantly at Fluttershy.

The pegasus scrunched up her face, wincing slightly, as if something else was bothering her. “Um, well... everypegasi knows that Cloudsdale wasn't our original home. And nopegasi knows why we left Skythus in the first place. At least, that's what Father told me...”

Rainbow and Scootaloo glanced at each other in surprise, both from the facts themselves and who it had come from.

“Uh huh...” Twilight continued to write away. She peeked over her notepad. “And?”

Fluttershy scrunched her face up again in pain. “And... um... Oh, I'm sorry Twilight, its very hard for me to concentrate right now. I have a really bad headache.”

For a second time, Rainbow and Scootaloo exchange glances, this time more alarmed.

“Uh, how long exactly have you had this headache?” Rainbow asked cautiously.

“Um, for a couple of days now I suppose.”

Scootaloo cringed slightly. That can't be good. The Wonderbolts said the 'sickness' was only over the Forest. Unless it's, moving?

Scootaloo glanced worriedly up at Rainbow Dash, the elder pegasi of the same mind and concern.

“Maybe you should go see Nurse Redheart.” Twilight suggested, putting her notebook aside.

“Yes, I think that's probably a good idea. Sorry I couldn't be more help Twilight.”

“Oh no! You've been more than helpful!” Twilight exclaimed happily.

Fluttershy cringed at the overly cheery outburst.

Rainbow Dash glared at Twilight. “Right. Flutters, I think you'd better get on out of here before Twi decides to be anymore grateful.”

Scootaloo couldn't help but snicker as Twilight sputtered to explain herself.

“Oh, well, okay. Goodbye everypony.” Fluttershy quietly excused herself, as Twilight falteringly attempted to be cheerfully muted.

“Get what you needed Twilight?” Rainbow asked callously, already fully aware that the matter in question was eating away at the unicorn's mind. Though she supposed it could have been considered somewhat sadistic, Rainbow couldn't help but inwardly smirk at withholding knowledge about the Archons from Twilight, especially when the unicorn seemed especially perturbed that even the thought that the normally magic-less pegasi had at one time been both masters of the sky and the arcane. Serves her right. Since when can't the pegasi be awesome at more than one thing?

“I've only scratched the surface Rainbow.” Twilight replied, fully aware of the pegasus' unspoken mocking. “I suppose I'll just have to do some research, like always.” She announced, departing from the two pegasi. She muttered to herself as she scribbled in her notebook. “I mean, a whole group of pegasi with magic, let alone as powerful as Princess Celestia? Unheard of...”

Spike groaned aloud, shuffling alongside the unicorn. “Great. Guess I better make sure the Library is stocked for the next few days.”

“Oh quiet you.”

Both Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo watched the two saunter off for a moment.

Despite all that had transpired, a sudden thought popped into Scootaloo's mind.

“Hey, Rainbow Dash?”

“Hm? What's up?”

“What was it like the first time you had a drink?”


The Trough and Cider continued to be the nexus of the celebration in Ponyville that night, happy patrons milling about, indulging in a tankard of cider, good food, and happy conversation about the Wonderbolts and the event to come. However, despite the delightful nature of the festival, the local bar was also to be host to far more sinister event. Were it not for the inebriated party goers, some may have seen the periodic arrival of a cloaked pegasus. Throughout every hour in the passing of the night, an additional traveler would enter the establishment and immediately make way for a reserved room tucked away on the upper floor, far from the celebration below.

Though unknown to those that still celebrated about the large room, the tall grandfather cloak had just struck the hour.

On cue, a hooded pegasus strode into The Trough and Cider's main hall. Undeterred by the multitude of patrons, the unassuming pegasus weaved about the bodies and conversations, fully intent on the staircase at the rear of the hall.

A stumbling mare suddenly blocked the cloaked figures' path.

A rather plain earth pony with a brown mane and beige coat, she swayed for a moment, before gesturing with her drink laden hoof toward the silent pegasus.

“You there! Yesh you! You look waaaay too sober! Ha!” The earth pony proceeded to take an enormous gulp from her drink, spilling a bit around her mouth.

“Com-on I'll-”

The cloaked pegasus closed the distance to the wasted earth pony suddenly. In her drunken stupor, the mare didn't react immediately, still processing what was happening. The pegasus pulled lightly at the clasp that bound his cloak, right to the mare's rolling eyes.

“What in... the...” The mare's speech slurred, as her eyes glazed over, suddenly drawn into the black lightning crossed wings.

From beneath the traveler's hood a sharp and seething voice came. “You will leave. You will not remember me. You will partake in whatever repugnant activity it is that you worthless earth pony scum do.”

The mare immediately sidestepped the cloaked pegasus, allowing him to deftly stride past. The mare sauntered off, mumbling to herself in a daze. “I will leave. I will not remember you. I will...”

Rid of the obstacle, the traveler crossed the remainder of the crowd without incident. Standing at the bottom of the staircase, the pegasus made a quick scan to the hall behind him. Satisfied that none followed him, he briskly ascended the wooden stairs.

Once atop, the pegasus took a moment to inspect the lengthy hallway.

Quite unlike the main hall of The Trough and Cider, the hallway was bereft of activity. Dark and shadowy, with only a handful of dim lanterns jutting from the walls to light the way, the hall seemed more out of a horror novel, intent on dissuading any unwanted visitors.

The pegasus smirked slightly. It was exactly as it should have been.

The traveler strode forward down the hall, his hoof steps muffled by the rug underneath. Once, twice, three times he passed a pair of facing doors. Still he walked on, in and out of the faint glow that would periodically stretch forth into the hall. No longer did the entrance to rooms pass by, only the wooden walls stretching toward a dead end and a faint lantern.

The cloaked traveler stopped in the light of the final lamp, resting in front of a plain wooden door. Or at least, plain to those who weren't searching. Instead, they would find themselves barred from entering, thanks to the near invisible outline that graced the center of the door.

The pegasus regarded the faint outline for a moment, his keen eyes catching the slight shimmer of its surface. Satisfied, he stood upright at attention, and firmly but quietly spoke.

“The Storm Cometh.”

Immediately the outline burned into view, revealing an exact match of the clasp around the pegasus' cloak. In like fashion, ornate writing scrawled just above the crest, prompting the traveler.

Display thy Crest, Guardsmen.

The traveler brought his clasp forward. Slowly he aligned it with the burned copy. The blackened imprint began to shimmer once more, joined this time by a dark amethyst light that bore through the charred wood.

The light swirled about, glinting off the jet black angles of the pendant. Then it abruptly stopped and winked out. A moment later the entire door silently shimmered with a gentle wave that cascaded from top to bottom, erasing the scorched mark from the door.

The cloaked pegasus quietly opened the door and entered, followed by a silent click and the shimmer of the enchanted door.

The inside of the room was large and spacious, a conference room of sorts used by ponies for business meetings and other gatherings. The room was similar to the rest of The Trough and Cider, with a rustic décor of dim lantern fixtures fastened on the walls and simple wooden furniture. In this particular room, there was a large oval table that occupied the center, ringed by series of chairs. All of these seats were occupied, save for one.

Cloaked pegasi occupied the shadowy room, each turning a hood head toward the newcomer. Though all wore the same darkened cloak and clasp, a single pegasi at the head of the table, clearly in charge, called out.

“And the last arrives. Please take your place Guardsmen.”

The pegasus rendered a curt nod in reply, silently joining his brethren at the table.

Silver Wings took a moment to survey the assembled pegasi, then rose from his seat. Beside him, Windswept sat in rapt attention. The list of questions he had was growing by the second. Unfortunately, Silver had been as cryptic as ever, assuring his friend that all would soon be revealed. Instead he had waited, watching the number of cloaked pegasi grow, each one silently arriving and taking their place at the table. Most appeared to be stallions, but there were a few mares as well, though none dared to show their face, a point that Silver Wings made sure Windswept understood. In all, there were now thirty assembled pegasi.

The sudden rap of a hoof against the table momentarily silenced Windswept's thoughts.

Silver Wings' voice broke across the silence. “Now that we are all here, I call this meeting of the Tempest Guard to order.”

Windswept barely stifled a cough in his surprise. The Tempest Guard?! More legend than fact, the Tempest Guard had been The Last Archon's personal body guard, a small cadre of elite pegasi, drawn from Skythus' legions. That is, if the legends were believed to be true. Perhaps they simply want to connect themselves to heroes of the past? Windswept reasoned, but another thought shot down his theory. The crest that each cloaked pegasi wore, Windswept had sworn before that he had seen the symbol from somewhere, but it had eluded him until now. The Tempest Guard's crest. He had only seen it in artwork and history texts, but there was no mistaking what the lightning crossed wings were now. The power of the crest also fell in line with the legends of the Guard, as Windswept recalled the incantation that Silver had used on door earlier.

An unknown voice from one of the pegasi called out, addressing Silver. “What news do you bring Captain? Your message seemed urgent.”

Another voice, this time more elderly. “Not to mention calling us under such circumstances. We are taking a great risk of being exposed.”

“You're concerns are well warranted. The festivities were an, unforeseen event. However, I can assure you it is well worth the risk.”

Several members of the Guard shifted in their seats, faint whispers passing between.

Silver Wings stepped behind Windswept, slowly walking the perimeter of those assembled as he spoke up again.

“Twenty years ago, a catastrophic event struck the city of Cloudsdale. The populace at large, and some of our younger members know this as the Twin Storms.”

“We are all well aware of our previous failure.” Another elderly voice called out.

Windswept sat transfixed by Silver's words. The Twin Storms were a failure? But then that would mean...

“Not a failure!” Silver announced excitedly. “But an endeavor unfulfilled!” The stallion continued to circle the large table, his movement growing more animated with excitement. “Not a failure my fellow guardsmen. We succeeded in tapping the dormant power that lay imprisoned; only weak wills prevented us from finding the source, instead releasing the storms upon Cloudsdale.”

“Just what are you suggesting Captain?” A younger voice called out. “That we uptake the ritual again?”

Windswept could almost see the grin under Silver's hood.

“Not quite. For you see, while our first attempt did not yield the results we wished for, it had an unexpected benefit.” Silver stopped, opposite of Windswept at the far end of the table. “You all know of what I speak. You felt it during your flight over the Everfree Forest.”

Silver paused, allowing his brethren to slowly ruminate on his words.

“You can't mean that-”

Silver cut off the mare's shaky question. “Oh but I do.” The stallion resumed his tread, this time forceful, almost at a march. His words came like a command. “Twenty years ago the 'failure' of the Twin Storms awakened his subconscious. In our dismay we overlooked this beacon, this sign that we had been searching centuries for.” Silver returned to his place next to Windswept, standing a head above his peers.

Windswept merely gawked up at the elder pegasus, enthralled with his words, hanging on the eventual reveal.

Silver abruptly lowered his hood. A determined and steely gaze was upon his face. “Tonight, I am here to tell you that our search is over. The Last Archon's body resides imprisoned in the Everfree Forest. The Tempest Guard will free the Master of Storms and the pegasi will take their rightful place in this world.”


Swift Jet ambled slowly about the main hall of The Trough and Cider, his head darting around suspiciously. He didn't like disappearing on Scootaloo so suddenly, but she had no place in what he was searching for.

For some time Swift Jet had camped out in the hall, trying to blend in with the crowd as he waited, hoping his fears would be unfounded. But then again, Ice Wing had been adamant that they would show themselves.

Every so often he could feel the telltale sign of dark magic, faintly passing like an elusive shadow just out of sight. Every time Swift Jet would immediately scan the room before him, hoping to catch a glimpse of his target, to no avail.

He knew that he was behind. What he was doing now, trying to gather information on the Tempest Guard, should have been done with the other two. Only recently had he come across one who he believed might be one of the bearers, Rainbow Dash. But the revelation could not have come at a worse time. The Tempest Guard were on the move, and Swift Jet couldn't risk taking the time with only the possibility that Rainbow Dash was one of the bearers.

Another flurry of dark magic. Swift Jet bolted upright, trying to quell the fear that wracked him for the umpteenth time that night. Expecting another fruitless search of the crowd, the stallion's gaze suddenly snapped toward the rear of the hall.

A cloaked figure with a hood drawn stood rigidly in front of a drunken mare. Alarms went off in Swift Jet's mind. There was no doubt that this was one of the Tempest Guard. He knew he had to get closer, he had to know where the Guard was going. His hooves shook, but he managed to stealthily make his way behind the cloaked pegasus, hiding at a table of drunken patrons.

Swift Jet strained his ears, trying to make out any kind of conversation between the mare and and Guard, but the cloaked pegasus seemed mute. The mare hollered out something about a drink, when the Guard suddenly approached her.

Swift Jet nearly fell from his post. His immediate thought was that the Guard made to kill the mare, but no weapon appeared. Instead the earth pony seemed to be in a trance, staring at some mysterious point at the cloaked pegasus' chest.

Words passed from under the Guard's hood in a low and brutal voice, once again eliciting a fresh flurry of dread from within the stallion. The din and noise of the hall prevented Swift Jet from deciphering what the Guard had said, but it seemed to be of little consequence. As soon as the Guard finished speaking the mare jumped to the side, her eyes still in a trance as she mumbled to herself.

Immediately Swift Jet's quarry departed, making a bee line for the rear of the hall. Swift Jet cautiously weaved about the crowd, never once letting the Guard from his sight. The drunken mare passed by continuing to mumble to herself.

“...I will partake in whatever repugnant activity it is that worthless earth pony scum do...”

Swift Jet felt a tinge of sympathy for the mare, hoping she had not been permanently harmed. But he didn't have time to help. The Guard had paused at the bottom of the staircase. Immediately an alarm shot through the pegasus. On reflex alone he jumped in with a group of party goers and grabbed a mug of cider taking a massive drink. The random act drew cheers from drunken ponies.

Ignoring the pats of congratulations and offers of additional drinks, Swift Jet caught a glimpse of the Guard mounting the staircase. When he was sure the cloaked pegasus had reached the landing, Swift Jet bounded from the drunken group, pausing at the bottom of the stairs.

Never before had a stairway seemed so intimidating. Even the light seemed fearful, only faint glows lighting the way. Swift Jet took a deep breath.

I hope I know what I'm doing.


Spitfire and Soarin' ambled silently out of the VIP party room, and out onto The Trough and Cider's outdoor deck. It was now very late, the tremendous din from the festival only hours before had subsided, Ponyville's citizen's long since departed for their homes. Only a few nightowls remained, from the elderly stallion reclining on a bench, puffing on a pipe as he gazed at the stars, to the stray couple who walked slowly side by side down the cobbled streets.

Spitfire walked up toward the wooden railing at the end of the deck, letting her hooves hang over the edge. Soarin' did the same beside her, a curious look on his face.

Spitfire simply smiled, looking up at the clear night sky.

“Quite the sight isn't it? The stars always seem different from the ground for some reason.”

Soarin' took a quick glance up at the twinkling lights above. He smirked slyly. “Yeah, I suppose old moon butt is good for something.”

Spitfire chuckled lightly at the stallion's joke. “Yeah, I suppose they are.”

Soarin' smiled at his friend, but he had a strange feeling that Spitfire hadn't brought him outside to talk about the visage above or comment on the usefulness of two particular Alicorns.

A serene silence settled between the two pegasi, one that only lifelong friends could enjoy.

“You never told me what was bothering you about your parents.”

A chill ran down Soarin's spine, shattering the world around him. He suddenly felt like he'd been backed into a corner with no escape. I should have known.

Spitfire looked at her friend, only concern and warmth in her eyes.

Yet Soarin' only felt the mounting pressure to say something, to confront and reveal what had only recently taken a break from constantly assaulting his mind with confusing memories and emotions, thanks in no small part to a special link that he was still discovering with a rainbow maned pegasus.

But a promise was a promise. And Soarin' didn't break his promises. Especially not to somepony like Spitfire.

Slowly the stallion met Spitfire's gaze. She looked on expectantly, but not without patience. Soarin' was grateful for that.

Eventually Soarin' found the means to reply. “You're right. I didn't.”

It was an obvious statement, but Spitfire only smiled. She understood that this was not a comfortable topic for her friend.

Soarin' took a deep breath. It all had started with thoughts of his parents, and the sudden memories that had seemed to assault him. And then they had ceased. Rainbow Dash and the connection he shared with her had snuffled any thoughts of his past. Now it had come full circle.

“You remember the presence that I mentioned before?” Soarin' asked, relating back to the revelation from earlier. “All that time, it was feeding me images, memories...” Soarin' paused for a moment, thinking back on events only days old. Spitfire was completely accommodating, patiently awaiting the stallion to continue.

“Feelings...” The stallion trailed off, a host of memories returning to him, both old and new. “I felt them along with the spirit of Commander Hurricane.” Soarin' looked Spitfire in the eye. “I don't know why they kept coming up. But the memories were there, all the while I was fighting. I...” Soarin' stopped for a moment, looking away, painfully lost in thought. Why was this so hard?

Spitfire put a friendly hoof on her friend's foreleg. “Its okay Soarin'.”

Soarin' flashed a grateful smile, in part to cover for his weakness, but in truth the friendly gesture had helped him tremendously.

Taking a deep breath, he continued. “I could feel when it was happening. Whenever they were there. Anger. Frustration. Guilt.” Soarin', at his weakest, turned to to Spitfire, speaking only at a tenuous whisper. “I don't know why I feel this way.” There was defeat in his voice, a confused regret.

Spitfire smiled warmly. “Hey. No matter what happened. No matter what you feel. No matter what you think of yourself. No matter what you remember.” She stared him in the eye, her amber eyes resolute. “You're a good pegasus.”

Spitfire would never know how grateful Soarin' felt at that very moment. All he could do was offer a weak smile.

“You're my right hoof, a damn good flier, and a Wonderbolt.” Spitfire said proudly. “And most importantly, you're the best friend that I do, and ever will have. I don't know exactly what you're feeling, but know that I'm here for you. No matter what.”

Soarin' must have looked weaker than he felt, because Spitfire pulled him into a massive hug, clutching tightly with her forelegs around the stallion's neck, and draping her wings protectively around him, despite her smaller figure. The later gesture was particularly intimate, one that only a mother would use to console her upset foal.

Despite the abrupt reaction from Spitfire, Soarin' couldn't help but return the gesture, smiling gratefully.

After a while Spitfire released her protective hold over Soarin'. No words passed between the two immediately afterword, only grateful smiles and the comforting stillness of the night around them.

“You know...” Soarin' started, a renewed vigor in his speech, “that was pretty cheesy was you said.”

Spitfire rolled her eyes, shaking her head. “Way to kill the moment fly boy.” She lightly punched him on his foreleg, laughing lightly.

Soarin' grinned, returning the playful jab in kind. “Hey, I can't let it get around that I'm some kind of softy.” The stallion grinned again playfully for a moment, before returning to a more somber expression. “Thank you. Just-”

Spitfire cut him off. “Hey. No thanks. We're best friends. None of this thanks crap.” Again Spitfire flashed her trademark grin that Soarin' knew so well.

The stallion chuckled. “Heh. Yeah. I guess you're right.”

“As always.”

“Careful, Cap'. Don't need that ego of yours getting out of hoof.”

“Oh really now!?” Spitfire replied in a false air of authority. “Well, listen here Lieutenant, I think I'll say and think whatever I damn well please!”

Soarin's eyes widened, a playful smile on his face. “Oh, pulling rank on this huh? Well don't get used to it. I'm only a few months away from being Captain Soarin'.”

Spitfire smiled sadly. “Yeah. And off to go take your own command of Wonderbolts.” The somber thoughts of an unknown future hovered between the two for a moment, a new world without the other. But it was a fleeting thought, as Spitfire fired a wicked grin at the stallion. “Archons help them. They're going to need it!”

Soarin' laughed. “Maybe. But I've had a pretty good mentor. Can't be that hard anyway.” The pegasus smiled smugly. “I mean, what exactly do you do, anyway?”

“Harhar, very funny.”

Silence found itself again between the two Wonderbolts, a welcome companion in the night.

Soarin' smiled to himself. For the first time in a while, he truly felt at ease. Despite all the revelations and messages of doom and destruction, and the conflicts within him that even now still lay unresolved, here with his best friend, he felt secure.

“So, Rainbow Dash, eh?”

Soarin' deadpanned. So much for that.

“Uh, yeah. What about her?” Soarin' asked cautiously, aware of where Spitfire was leading him.

An incredulous look spread across the yellow pegasus' face. “Oh come on Soarin', don't play coy with me!” She pointed an accusing hoof at the stallion. “What do you think of her?”

Soarin' made a move to reply, but he quickly shut his mouth. What did he think of the rainbow pegasus? In truth, he hadn't given it a great deal of thought. She was indeed attractive, not only in athletic form, but in personality as well. Or at least from the short time that he had been able to spend with the mare. Then of course there was that unique bond that they shared. Was that the only reason he noticed her? His aura always seemed to pull him toward her, at least when it decided to rear its annoying head.

Soarin' frowned. “I'm not sure.”

Surprisingly Spitfire didn't exclaim in bewilderment. Instead, she patiently waited for Soarin' to continue.

“I mean, I'm attracted to her, but I don't know if that's the aura-bond thing between us or not.” The stallion looked to Spitfire truthfully. “I can't deny that all the tension from before just sorta fades into the background when I'm around her.”

“Huh.” Spitfire put a hoof to her chin in thought. “Pegasus attraction induced by way of ancient prophecy and magic that only exists in legends?” The Wonderbolt shook her head dismissively, a knowing smile on her face. “I think you're thinking way too much into this Soar.”

“I dunno Spitfire. I mean, I don't even know her that well.”

Spitfire made to reply, but the flicker of her eyes only brought a grin to her face. “Well, it looks like you're about to get your chance.”

Soarin' spun around, but the look Spitfire had levied on him told him everything.

Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo approached, crossing the deck. Dash was talking animatedly, while Scootaloo watched, grinning as she listened.

“And so then I jumped down from the ceiling, and knocked them all out!”

Scootaloo looked skeptical for a moment. “Wait, that actually happened? Applejack made it sound like it was something bad.”

Rainbow laughed. “Of course it didn't happen! I blacked out and had one heck of a hangover.”

Scootaloo sighed. “Should've known.”

In the clear from any potentially embarrassing and alcohol infused stories, Rainbow strode up to the two waiting Wonderbolts.

“Hey guys, whats up? We were wondering where you'd snuck off to.”

Scootaloo snorted, muttering under her breath. “More like RD wanted to find Soarin'.”

A quick hoof to the ribs shut Scootaloo up, while Dash remained as passive as possible, covering with a cheeky smile.

Spitfire shrugged. “Eh, I just wanted to get away from your unicorn friend. Nothing personal against her, but I really didn't want to get bogged down in some racial-political argument.”

Rainbow rolled her eyes. “Yeah, sorry about that. Twilight can get really twisted up about that kinda thing. Probably doesn't help that she's Celestia's personal student.”

Both Wonderbolts exchanged surprised glances.

“Well that explains a lot.” Soarin' spoke up. “Seems like you've got quite the group of friends here.” He added with a tinge of sarcasm.

Rainbow half laughed. “Applejack? Yeah, she can get pretty steamed up, especially when it comes to that farm of hers. Don't read into it too much, that place is always getting torn apart.”

Scootaloo nodded in agreement. “I'll say. I remember when Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle and I were working on how to get our demolitions cutie marks. Didn't end well. Or maybe it did? Either way, I didn't even know you could be grounded for eternity. Been meaning to ask Mom and Dad about that...” The teenager trailed off, not at all phased by the confused glances Spitfire and Soarin' leveled at her.

Rainbow Dash laughed to herself, recalling the event.

“Damn, now I feel like I was missing out as a kid.” Soarin' said in a voice of feigned disappointment. “All I got to play with was a bunch of boring old storm clouds.”

“What!?” Rainbow and Scootaloo exclaimed in unison, the elder in disbelief, the younger in wide eyed admiration.

“Yeah, I always heard that pegasi in the Air Force would train to dodge lightning, so I camped out by the weather factory and ran zigzags when nopegasi was looking. Got burnt a few times.”

Rainbow was still skeptical, holding a cautiously wary smile at the stallion. Soarin' maintained himself under her stare, if only.

Unfortunately for Soarin', Spitfire wasn't about to let such a claim go unchallenged.

Scootaloo was about to jump all over Soarin' with questions, when the yellow pegasus sided up along the teenager. With a mischievous look on her face, Spitfire whispered to her so that all could hear. “Don't think much of it Scootaloo. Soarin' only 'played' with storm clouds after the weather teams broke them up.” The Wonderbolt glanced at her male counterpart, watching his facade crumble. “You wouldn't get more than a static spark from one of those floating puffy tantrums.”

Scootaloo seemed momentarily disappointed. However, all such thoughts were abandoned as she beamed at the yellow pegasus beside her. Spitfire simply laughed, bumping her hoof amicably on the copper pegasus' foreleg. Scootaloo unconsciously raised her head a little higher, grinning along with the Wonderbolt.

For her own part, Rainbow simply stared flatly at Soarin'. “Ahum.”

Soarin' shrugged, smiling weakly. “Eh, it was worth a shot. Come on Dash, don't tell me you've never fudged a story a little bit?”

“No! Uh, well I mean, not too often...”

This time it was Scootaloo's turn to fire a steely glare, eyebrow raised suspiciously. “Not too often?”

“Alright, alright, you got me.” Dash exclaimed in defeat. “Yeesh.”

“Eh, I wouldn't worry about it too much Rainbow Dash.” Soarin' added lightly. “I mean you've already got a Sonic Rainboom under your saddle, not to mention all that Element of Harmony business.”

Dash rubbed her mane, clearly embarrassed at the compliment from the Wonderbolt. “Ah, well. Just doing what I'm awesome at.”

Suddenly Soarin' and Rainbow realized they were alone.

Dash turned back toward The Trough and Cider. “Hey! Where are you guys going?”

A retreating Spitfire called back over her shoulder. “I got to check up on Fleetfoot. Damage control and all.” Returning on course back to the bar, Spitfire left Soarin' with a subtly roguish smirk.

“I'm going to hang out with Spitfire!” Scootaloo called out happily, not bothering to catch RD's reply as she caught up with the yellow Wonderbolt.

“Huh.” Rainbow announced in a pathetic mixture of defeat and disbelief, as she watched the copper pegasus gallop off.

“Don't worry Dash. Spitfire's not about to replace you as Scootaloo's hero.”

“What!? Ah, that?” Rainbow waved her hoof nonchalantly, trying look unconcerned. “I'm not worried or anything. Guess I just figured there would never be somepegasus as awesome as me around.”

Soarin' stretched his wings, arching his back simultaneously. “Yeah, I can be a pretty tough act to follow.”

Rainbow Dash shot a flat look at Soarin'. "I was talking about Spitfire."

"Her? Yeah, I guess she's pretty cool too."

Dash rolled her eyes, resigning herself to the stallion's ego. Instead she took up a spot next to Soarin', leaning casually against the fence.

"It's been a crazy few days hasn't it?

Soarin' turned to meet Dash's question, momentarily losing himself in her rose eyes.

"Yeah, you can say that again. Not everyday you find out that you've got mystical pegasi powers and you're the only hope for Equestria."

Rainbow tapped a hoof to her chin in thought. "Hm. I dunno, sounds pretty familiar to me."

Soarin' chuckled lightly. "Heh. Guess this is just the run of the mill for you eh?"

"I guess a world threatening crisis isn't exactly new, but this... thing seems different. It's not me and my friends this time around. Not to mention all this mysterious ghost story stuff." Dash looked genuinely concerned as she continued to speak. "I don't like waiting for something to happen."

"Yeah. It's hard to believe that all the stories from when I was a colt are actually true."

Dash frowned. "Can't say I ever heard any of them when I was a filly; I didn't live in Cloudsdale for very long."

Spitfire's words echoed in Soarin's mind. "How's come?" He asked lightly, genuinely curious.

A pained expression flickered across Rainbow's face. "Well, my parents... they were at Cloudsdale when the Twin Storms hit."

All hopes Soarin' had for a casual conversation suddenly screeched to a halt. Nice job Soarin'. Real smooth.

"Oh, wow. I'm sorry Rainbow Dash, I didn't mean-"

"It's okay. Really." Dash smiled gently at the Wonderbolt, putting him at ease. "Anyway, the orphanages in Cloudsdale were full after everything that had happened, so I was sent to Ponyville." Dash stared off at the stars pensively. "It still bothers me... from time to time." Dash said truthfully, even if it was a massive understatement. "But, its not all bad." She turned again to the stallion, some of the glow returning to her face. "I never would have met my friends if I hadn't come to Ponyville."

Soarin' nodded sadly. "Yeah, I think I know what you mean."

Dash looked mildly surprised. "Really? How?"

"I'm an orphan too."

Dash's eyes darted about as she connected the dots. "Wait. Then you were..."

"Me and my family were at the Cloudseum when the storm hit." Soarin' said monotonous tone. It surprised him how little the statement seemed to affect him, to separate the memories from the words. "I was... separated from them, falling out of the sky; and I remember a blue and gold blur rushing after me." The stallion offered a weak smile. "A Wonderbolt saved me. I don't think I would have become a Wonderbolt if it wasn't for Lightning Blitz."

Dash marveled at the revelation. Soarin' was also an orphan? And from the Twin Storms as well? It wasn't completely improbable; a sporting event like the Wonderbolts drew entire families to their shows, and the storms had bore down on the entirety of Cloudsdale as well.

“I don't tell too many ponies about that part of my life; really only Spitfire and a few of the 'Bolts know.” Soarin' seemed lost in thought for a moment before turning to Dash. “And I'm not really sure why, but I'm glad I told you.”

Rainbow Dash smiled graciously, trying to deflect how sincerely Soarin' gazed at her. “Oh! Well, you're welcome. I uh, I don't tell too many ponies either. Just my friends really. And... uh... I think I know what you mean.” Dash rubbed the back of her mane, seeming to fumble over her words. “It just feels... right somehow... talking to you.”

Both pegasi unconsciously felt the familiar tug within them, only this time it was subtle, natural, unobtrusive.

A few minutes passes as the two pegasi basked in the comfort of the aura that gently wafted around them. In union with the twinkling stars above, it was the perfect moment.

Soarin' unconsciously took a deep breath. Time to be bold Soarin'. The stallion mentally prepared, trying to appear calm.

“So, not a bad setting for our first date eh?”

In the blink of an eye, Rainbow Dash's hooves gave out from underneath her as she tumbled onto the wooden deck. “Gah!”

Soarin' cringed as Dash lay on the deck, all dignity lost. Too bold?

But before the Wonderbolt could move, Dash was on all fours. Doing her best to look dignified, she returned to her spot next to the stallion. “Um...” She started slowly, her eyes darting between Soarin's own and the fidgeting of her forehooves. “We were on a date?”

Soarin' decided to press his luck, hoping he wouldn't overstep his hoof.

The stallion brought a hoof to his chin, appearing contemplative. “Hm. I do recall a certain invitation from the hospital.” He let loose a wry smile.

Rainbow Dash momentarily panicked, recalling the awkward exchange. Okay, don't panic Dash, you got this. It's just Soarin'! The awesome, amazing, and handsome Wonderbolt! It's opportunity, go for it! Dash smiled awkwardly, and continued to smile just so for a whole minute. I have no idea what I'm doing.

Confusion overtook Soarin' as he stared back. “Uh, Dash? Are you going to say anything?”

Crapcrapcrapcrapcrap! Dash mentally pummeled herself. Archon's spit! Just wing it!

Despite dealing with nerves that she never knew existed, Dash beamed her well known confidence. “Yeah, I guess I did.” She scooted closer to the Wonderbolt, mentally cheering as she noted the subtle twitch from Soarin's wings. Got 'em.

Soarin' was taken aback by the mare's sudden reverse, unprepared for her sudden advance. Keenly aware of how close the lithe mare was to him, as well as her confident gaze upon him, Soarin' struggled to speak.

“So, ah...” The stallion quickly cleared his throat, though it was a fruitless delay. Dash seemed to enjoy the effect she was having on the Wonderbolt, inching just a bit closer.

Say something you idiot! Soarin' bellowed within himself. Apparently the mental yell afforded the stallion some degree of clarity, quelling the fidgets and shallow breaths. No longer retreating, Soarin' found his own confidence, the corners of his lips tugging slightly as he returned Dash's smile with his own, gazing down at the smaller mare.

“So.” The Wonderbolt declared evenly, reveling in the excitement of Rainbow Dash's eyes. Meeting her advance with his sudden composure, he could see that she enjoyed the competition. “Why don't you tell me about the time you fought Nightmare Moon?”


Spitfire and Scootaloo returned to the VIP room, walking side by side. Spitfire had a smug look on her face, pleased with the turn of events between Soarin' and Rainbow Dash. Scootaloo moved with a spring in her step, still holding her head high next to the Wonderbolt.

“So where exactly is Fleetfoot at?” Scootaloo asked happily, not really concerned about finding the Wonderbolt.

“Hm?” Spitfire replied absently. “Oh, yeah that. Yeah we're not actually looking for him.”

“We're not?”

Spitfire grinned at the oblivious teenager, taking a seat at the bar. “Nah. I just needed an excuse to ditch Soarin' with Dash.”

Scootaloo slid onto the bar stool next to Spitfire, a look of disgust on her face. “Egh, that stuff again.”

The Wonderbolt laughed. “Just you wait Scootaloo. Next you thing you know you'll be right in Dash's hooves.”

“I'm not really worried about that.” The copper mare replied indifferently. “It's just weird seeing Rainbow Dash act all girly. I mean, have you ever acted that way?”

Spitfire glared at Scootaloo, derailing any possible questions the teenager had.

“Oookay. Uncharted skies there. Heading back to base.” Scootaloo replied emphatically.

“Glad to hear.”

Both pegasi sat together in silence for a moment. Scootaloo's wings began to twitch absently, the teenager fumbling with her hooves.

“Soooo.” Scootaloo started expectantly. “What do we do now?”

Spitfire turned to her companion. “Dunno. What do you wanna do?”

Scootaloo seemed excited that Spitfire had given her the option. However her face quickly changed, somewhat downcast.

Spitfire frowned. “Hey kiddo, whats up?”

“Oh um well, I thought of something.” Scootaloo rubbed her foreleg with the other, avoiding Spitfire's eyes. “But I can't really ask you to help.”

“Since when?”

“Um, well, its more embarrassing then anything.”

“Hey I may have only just gotten to know you, and I know I'm probably not as cool as Rainbow Dash,” Spitfire added, winking. “But I'd like to think I'm a pretty capable pegasus.”

Scootaloo grinned up at the Wonderbolt. Perhaps she stared for a moment too long, but Scootaloo couldn't deny that there was something about Spitfire that she liked. Admired even. Really there had only been one other pegasus that she had idolized. She's not Dash, but she comes real close.

“So, what's the deal then?”

“Um, well, you think you could help me find my Dad?” Scootaloo smiled awkwardly at Spitfire hoping she hadn't asked too much. “He kinda disappeared on me.”

Spitfire seemed confused for a moment at the odd request, then randomly burst out laughing. “Sure thing kiddo.” The Wonderbolt gave Scootaloo a sisterly pat on the back.

Descending from her seat, Spitfire and Scootaloo ambled toward the main hall.

A playful smirk found its way to Spitfire's face. “So, how would this one go?” She seemed to take a moment to think, while Scootaloo looked on, confused. “Something like, 'Cutie Mark Crusader Lost Parent Hunters?' Yeah?”

Scootaloo's mouth hung agape, her face a mixture of pride, disbelief, and admiration. She then shook her head, chuckling to herself. “Okay. Never again. Just never again.” However, in the recesses of her mind, little filly Scootaloo was bouncing off the walls. That was actually pretty cool.

Spitfire shrugged. “Eh. Was worth a shot.”

Both pegasi continued to walk in search for Scootaloo's father, both painfully unaware of what they would find.


Swift Jet stood at the end of the hall, trying to steady his breath. He had been lucky the Tempest Guard hadn't seen him as his head crested the landing of the stairway, the cloaked pegasus preoccupied with a sickly purple light that seemed to glow from the door. In a way Swift Jet had been lucky. He now knew exactly where the Tempest Guard had gathered.

Which was where he found himself now.

His heart still thudded in his chest as he stared at the door, sweat starting to gather above his brow. Just what exactly was he going to do? There was no telling how many pegasi were in the room. He had no intention of fighting, only to discover what he could about the villains' next move.

Unfortunately, he hadn't quite thought that part through.

Still dealing with antagonizing thudding of his chest, the black pegasus put his ear to the door, hoping to salvage some kind of information. Instead he was greeted with a violent sting to his ear, his fur singed.

Jumping back awkwardly and suppressing a yelp, Swift Jet took a more careful look at the door. It must have been enchanted to ward off unwelcome guests.

But he couldn't turn back, too much was at stake.

Without thinking, the stallion put a hoof to the door. A second later he wished he hadn't.

His hoof burned, only the iron shoe between his hoof and the enchanted door providing any protection. But it was only a temporary shield. His foreleg was sealed to the door. Swift Jet jerked and pulled, but failed to free his hoof.

Instead, the door began to shimmer violently, as if it were fighting against the stallion. As if it were forced, a burned and charred image revealed itself with the continued fluctuations of the mystical barrier.

Swift Jet began to panic, but he dared not cry out. His hoof began to burn as the barrier repeatedly waved over his locked foreleg. Despite the pain, the stallion took note of the charred image. It appeared to be a pair of cross pegasi wings, made of lightning. Immediately he was wracked by a searing pain, this time within his mind, spearheaded by the crest.

Swift Jet fell to his haunches, labored breath and the pounding of his heart accompanied by streams of sweat that poured around his face. The pain was unbearable, but he couldn't yell, he couldn't scream. All he could do was clench his jaw and hope.

What the stallion didn't realize was that the barrier was slowly being worn away. The shimmering magic began haze in and out, still feebly trying to purge the infection that had pierced it. But it was failing. The charred symbol on the wood began to expand, creeping along the rest of the door. Then, without warning, the magical force field ceased to be. Instantaneously the rest of the door was engulfed in a blackened stain, and with a groan, crumbled into dust.

Only the metal door knob remained, clattering loudly against the wooden floor.

Free of the door and the pain in his mind, Swift Jet fell backward. Through sweat filled eyes the stallion made out what appeared to be a gathering of hooded pegasi. At the head of the large oval table where the group was gathered, a lone unmasked stallion stood. He, along with the rest of the Tempest Guard bored into Swift Jet. A second later the black pegasus' mind caught up, bringing with it a fresh wave of terror.

The hood-less stallion spoke up, his words cutting across the silence. “Kill him.”

Swift Jet scrambled to his hooves just as a pair of Tempest Guards raised their hooves, a sickly amethyst radiating out from the pendant on their chests' and along their forelegs. A second later two magical lances shot at the black pegasus.

There was no time to move. In spite of the terror that rippled through him, Swift Jet let instinct take over, turning a raised wing to block the shots. Instead of pain, there was only a gentle fizzle and the shimmering of magic dissipating around the stallion's wing.

Swift Jet lowered his wings, gawking at them as if they were not his own. The unlikely defense also stunned his attackers momentarily, suddenly unsure of this single pegasus.

It was all the time Swift Jet needed. He dove to his left, rolling from the destroyed doorway as two more lances impacted where he had been only moments before.

A massive crash erupted from the conference room, the sound of collapsing wooden beams thudding on the floor. Unfortunately, Swift Jet had little time to think of the sound as he made to gallop down the hallway. The two guards from before spilled into the hall, chasing after the stallion.

The creaking of timber overhead momentarily halted Swift Jet's escape. A second later the roof overhead gave way in a deafening crash, followed by the heavy drop of another Tempest Guard behind the black stallion. Pinned between the advancing guards, Swift Jet noted the gaping hole in the ceiling, but even this route was blocked by two guards hovering in place. Immediately the pendants around their cloaks began to glow, stretching forth to their flapping wings.

Swift Jet dove toward the center of the hall just as a hail of lightning erupted from the two suspended guards, a volley of bolts flying with each flap of their wings. Thunder echoed in rapid succession with every strike. The bluish-purple lightning chewed into the roof as Swift Jet scrambled backward, dodging bolts and collapsing beams. He barely had time to skid to a halt as two more lances whizzed past, one grazing his cheek, the other searing across his left shoulder, leaving a gaping wound.

Gasping aloud, Swift Jet fell to the floor. Out of the corner of his eye he could see the pair of Tempest Guards raise their hooves once more, the telltale glow of a magical lance forming.

A split second before the murderous volley came, the black pegasus launched his body to the right, crashing through the door and into the adjacent bedroom. Only adrenaline stifled the pain in his foreleg, as he forced himself onto all fours. With no window in the room and the thunder of hooves behind him, Swift Jet frantically searched for a means of escape. But only one, crazy option presented itself.

Lightning flashed overhead once more, bolts tearing into roof and floor. The sound of a snapping and crunching door frame behind the stallion announced the arrival of the pair of Tempest Guards, their hooves raised to fire.

His mind made up, Swift Jet dashed forward praying that his plan would work. All focus was ahead of him. Random lances flew by, exploding into the wall before him. Lightning strikes danced around, some impacting dangerously close to his galloping hooves.

The wall was fast approaching. Swift Jet could feel a sudden power within his hooves. With a determined grimace and renewed vigor he made one last final push. A second later the stallion lowered his good shoulder, and crashed into the wall.


Spitfire and Scootaloo entered the main hall of The Trough and Cider, casually walking up to the bar. For the first time that night the drinking hall was subdued, only a handful of patrons still milling about, empty tankards in hoof.

“Howdy there Scootaloo, Ms. Spitfire.” Applejack greeted the two pegasi, absently cleaning a glass. “Bout to call it a night?”

Spitfire let loose a telling yawn. “Not quite.”

Scootaloo poked her head over the counter. “We're looking for my Dad. Have you seen him?”

Applejack thought for a moment, then shook her head. “Sorry there Scootaloo, can't say I have.”

Scootaloo frowned, but Spitfire gave her a reassuring tap with her wing. “No worries Scootaloo. I'm sure he'll turn-”

The spat of echoing magic cut through the air, harsh thuds reverberating from across the building.

“What in the-” Applejack started, but the earth pony was cut off by the numerous thuds of galloping ponies.

A pregnant pause ensued. Then it was shattered, the moan and snapping of timber shaking The Trough and Cider, dust billowing from the rafters. The spat of magic resumed, followed by a second explosion from the ceiling. A gaping hole formed just above the landing of the rear stairway, beams and wooden debris collecting at the landing. A cloaked pegasus land roughly atop, facing the hall, his posture clearly violent.

What few ponies were still in The Trough and Cider galloped out in a panic, several tripping over chairs and tables.

Spitfire immediately thrust Scootaloo up over the bar. “Keep her safe!” The Wonderbolt ordered to Applejack.

“Wait!” Scootaloo called out against Applejack's restraint, fear for the Wonderbolt lacing her cries. “Spitfire! WAIT!”

Soarin' and Rainbow Dash burst into the hall, locking eyes with Spitfire.

Before any of the pegasi could utter a word the flash of lightning and roar of thunder erupted. Rapid flashes of light were accompanied by the sickening crunch of the building's ceiling groaning throughout. Then the flashes quickly ceased, this time followed by magical lances that burst from the hallway, exploding into the wooden chandelier overhead. Glass and fire rained down, several alcohol logged tables roaring into a blaze.

Without a word the trio galloped off to reach the stairway. Unfortunately all three were at very opposite of the hall. Precious seconds wasted.

Just as the trio cleared the rows of tables and chairs the flashes of lightning resumed. A second later the upper wall to the right of the stairway exploded.

Swift Jet's unconscious form burst through the breach, landing with a sickening thud on the unforgiving floor.

“DAD!” Scootaloo screamed, pulling all the harder against Applejack's restraint.

A hooded form appeared in Swift Jet's escape, raising a glowing hoof at the comatose stallion.

Fast as lightning Spitfire launched herself upward, bringing a fierce left hook across the mare's face. The guard swayed dizzily, stumbling backward. Spitfire didn't give the cloaked assailant a second. Thrusting herself forward, the Wonderbolt pulled the hazy figure backward with her, flinging the mare harshly to the floor below.

The cloaked stallion at the top of the stairway sneered, locking onto the yellow Wonderbolt. Launching forward, he cut through the air intent on impaling Spitfire.

Soarin' shot straight up, catching the guard directly underneath, and carrying him to the ceiling above, crushing the pegasus between his hooves and the wooden ceiling. His quarry struggled, but Soarin' press all the harder, driving the air from his opponents lungs. Hovering in place, the Wonderbolt released a volley of upward punches for good measure, finally letting the cowardly foe fall unceremoniously to the floor.

Two more cloaked pegasi dropped in from the ceiling, firing off magical lances at the crumpled form of Swift Jet.

Soarin', Rainbow Dash and Spitfire looked on in horror as the projectiles whisked by, bearing down on the black pegasus.

At the last second a magical blue sphere encased itself around the stallion, deflecting the shots.

Rarity stood at the opposite end of the hall, her head lowered in concentration as her horn glowed. Twilight galloped past her, letting loose a volley of magical blasts at the would be snipers. At first the two only dodged Twilight's shots, content to let them sail overhead. Then several volleys impacted to their left and right, and rather than simply cut into the wood, they exploded. The resulting shock wave threw one of the guards back down the hall, while the other successfully dove forward, bearing down on Rainbow Dash.

Doing her best to ignore the sudden fear that over took her, Dash thrust her wings downward, pushing herself backward as her attacker landed awkwardly in a snarl.

Soarin' and Spitfire made a move to cut off Dash's opponent, but lazy shots from their respective adversaries blocked any move.

“Who the heck are you guys?!” Dash shouted at her foe.

She was greeted only with a guttural growl as the pegasus lunged after her.

Somewhat surprised by the forward attack, Rainbow Dash rolled deftly to the left, as the anonymous pegasus sailed past.

Soarin' and Spitfire landed roughly to the floor, dodging shots as they approached the ground borne enemies.

Then abruptly, all action ceased. The three cloaked pegasi all turned toward the hall, each of their pendants glowing a bright white light.

Soarin', Spitfire and Rainbow Dash hesitated, unsure what was to come next.

Each pendant suddenly pulsed, and then exploded in a white light blinding all within the room. There was a flurry of wings, and then nothing.

Seconds passed before those that remained regained there sight. But it was too late. Only the scars from battle remained. The mysterious cloaked pegasi had disappeared.

Ch. 13: Casualties and Wonderbolt Plans

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Legacy of the Pegasi:

Ch. 13: Casualties and Wonderbolt Plans

The Trough and Cider was no stranger to the many festivals, parties and celebrations that rotated throughout the year. Each one had its own flavor and merits, filling the well known establishment with jovial patrons, who were only too eager to add good food and drink to the occasion. So connected were these celebrations to the watering hole that The Trough and Cider had become synonymous with carefree smiles and silly company, both with the slight compliments of alcoholic cider.

Unfortunately, that long tradition had come to an end. Instead of joyous laughter, there was only a dreadfully confused silence.

Soarin', Spitfire, Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle each stood rooted to the wooden floorboards. For several seconds only haphazard blinks passed between the ponies, each recovering from the sudden burst of light.

Twilight's stupefied expression suddenly changed to shock. “What in the name of Celestia was that?!”

“DAD!” Scootaloo yelled out. Scrambling from Applejack's hooves, she half ran half stumbled across the floor, all the while her tear filled eyes locked onto her father.

Twilight's query evaporated at the sight of the dashing mare. Immediately everypony began to move, The Trough and Cider thrown once more into a different kind of chaos.

Soarin' intercepted Scootaloo a second before she reached Swift Jet, tussling with the emotionally wracked teenage mare, doing his best to restrain her without harm.

“What are you doing?! Let me go, I have to-D-DAD!” Scootaloo tore against Soarin', desperately trying to get to her father. Confusion and anger colored her face as tears continued to pour from her eyes.

“Scootaloo!” Soarin' spoke firmly, trying to get the distraught mare to look at him.

Spitfire skidded to a halt next to the unconscious stallion, taking only a split second to assess his condition.

“D-DAD! Say someth-DAD!” Scootaloo continued to struggle, striking her hooves at the Wonderbolt.

“Scootaloo! Listen to me!” Soarin' yelled, trying to force Scootaloo to meet his eyes.

“He's bleeding badly!” Spitfire announced in a detached voice, her motions mechanical as she continued to survey the comatose stallion. “I need a first aid kit! And sompony call a paramedic!”

“Right here!” AJ replied, bounding over the bar with a small case in her mouth.

“Rarity, get help from the hospital!” Twilight ordered. However, she quickly amended it. “No, wait!” She started to gallop toward the confused unicorn, eying the night sky warily through the ruined ceiling. “I'll go with you!”

“Let me go, let me go!” Scootaloo yelled, her mind frantic as she tried to break away from Soarin'.

Soarin' was beginning to get frustrated. “Scootaloo! Listen. To. Me!”

Rainbow Dash rushed toward the agonizing mare. “Scootaloo, stop! Listen to Soarin'!”

Scootaloo slowed, as Dash's words cut through the torrent of pain that enveloped her. Her tearful eyes turned to Dash, an outpouring of sympathy and care on the elder pegasi's face.

“Scootaloo.”

The words were firm, but calm. Scootaloo turned from Rainbow Dash to the stallion who held her. His large emerald eyes stared intently down at the delicate mare.

“Scootaloo.” Soarin' repeated, reaffirming he had her attention. “Listen to me very carefully.” He spoke slowly, trying to calm the frenzied mare. “Your father is hurt. At this moment, the best thing for you to do for him is to stay clear and let trained medical personnel do their work.”

Scootaloo's lip quivered as she tried to speak, her words shaky. “B-but I n-need to be with him. M-mom told me t-to...” The futility of Scootaloo's words lay before her as she hiccuped in a whimper, fresh tears coming forth.

Rainbow Dash put a comforting hoof to Scootaloo's back, rubbing soft circles. “It's okay Scootaloo.” Her words were tense and inexperienced, but sincere. “You're not going anywhere.”

“Scootaloo?” Soarin' spoke up again, this time a little softer. “Do you understand?”

The mare nodded without looking.

“You sure?”

Again she nodded, her head downcast.

Satisfied, Soarin' nodded to Rainbow. He slowly released Scootaloo, leaving her with a gentle rub of her shoulder.

Rainbow immediately sided up next to Scootaloo, pulling her close and draping a comforting wing around her. The younger pegasus was very still, only fearful quivers assaulting her as she watched over her father.

Soarin' immediately joined Spitfire and Applejack, both of whom were rapidly tending to Swift Jet's worst wounds.

A clatter of hooves across the hall announced Twilight and Rarity's return along with a pair of determined medics in tow behind them.

The medics, an earth pony and unicorn, immediately took over for AJ and Spitfire. Thanks in part to the Wonderbolt and farm pony's actions, the medical duo took little action. Seconds passed like hours however, until the two finally began to prepare the unconscious stallion for transport. A gentle shimmer of magic found its way around Swift Jet as he was carefully raised from the floor and lowered onto a stretcher.

Scootaloo yelped slightly, involuntarily stumbling toward her father as the two medic ponies began to slowly carry him off.

“D-dad-?” She mumbled, her voice quivering slightly.

Rainbow lowered to Scootaloo's ear. “Go on. Stay right by his side. I'll be there soon.”

Scootaloo didn't need to think twice. She rushed after father, still scared but visibly calmer.

“We'll go with her.” Applejack announced quietly, glancing to Rarity. The white unicorn gave a solemn nod, joining the retreating medical party.

Rainbow Dash smiled weakly at her departing friends, thankful for their presence.

An eery silence founds its way into the room. Twilight and Rainbow stared blankly for a moment, as if lost in their own thoughts. There was only a veteran weariness upon the pair of Wonderbolts.

Spitfire raised a hoof, massaging her temple. “I hate that stuff.”

“What was all that?” Twilight finally asked. No longer alarmed, only a surreal disbelief laced the unicorn's words.

The question seemed to hang in the air. All three pegasi nervously glanced at one another, unseen to Twilight.

“Million bit question.” Spitfire sighed, leaning against one of the tables. “Your guess is as good as mine.”

Dash slowly released her breath, thankful for Spitfire's discretion. She couldn't involve her friends with this. The danger had suddenly become all too real.

“I've never seen magic like that before.” Twilight thought aloud. “And from pegasi!”

“They all seemed to be wearing some kind of amulet.” Soarin' spoke up. “That might've had something to do with it.”

Twilight began pacing about the room, deep in thought as her horn glowed softly. “I can feel the residual magic in the air; you're right Soarin', it was definitely from those amulets.” The unicorn frowned. “But it's still unlike anything I've felt before.”

Twilight cautiously walked toward the debris covered staircase. “The trail is stronger back here...”

Soarin' started to walk after Twilight but Rainbow quickly pulled him aside. “What are you doing?” She whispered urgently.

“I know you want to protect your friends, but Twilight's the only one who can sense this magic.” Soarin' countered. “Right now it's our only lead. We know next to nothing about these guys.”

Rainbow frowned, glancing toward Twilight. The unicorn was quickly clearing the stairway, completely engrossed in the mystery before her.

Dash sighed in resignation, nodding slightly.

“Hold up there Twilight.” Spitfire called out. The Wonderbolt leaped into the air with a flourish of her wings, landing ahead of Twilight on the stairway. “Soarin' and I will lead ahead, we don't know if any of those goons are still around.”

Twilight nodded in agreement.

Rainbow Dash fell in alongside the unicorn, a watchful eye on her friend.

Soarin' joined Spitfire at the head of the group, both Wonderbolts alert as they slowly moved forward.

All four ponies reached the landing, the darkened hall before them. Slowly they crept forward, four sets of eyes peeled for any movement.

Despite watching for more of the belligerent pegasi, Soarin' found his eyes drawn to the floor. Tiny holes of charred wood peppered the hall floor. Lightning strikes? And all grouped in the hallway? The Wonderbolt thought, frowning. He put the curiosity in the back of his mind, there wasn't time to think on it now.

Eventually the group made it to the end of the hall without incident. Spitfire peered through the door-less frame, breathing a sigh of relief.

“It's clear. Nopegasi around.”

Twilight peered at the ash on the floor, her horn aglow once more. “The signal's much stronger here. Not only was there a powerful spell here,” the unicorn stepped into the conference room glancing about, “but I'd wager that there were more than a dozen ponies in here, based on the magical distribution.”

Spitfire entered the room, followed by Rainbow and Soarin'.

Much like the hallway before, the room was a wreck, with chairs upturned, windows broken, and a pile of debris on the table from the gaping hole above.

Spitfire studied the breach in the ceiling, letting loose a whistle. “Impressive. Only military types can pull off an exit like that.”

Twilight continued to circle the room. Occasionally the unicorn would shoots puffs of magic into the air, studiously watching the air around her.

Soarin' and Dash watched the lavender unicorn go about her observations. Dash fidgeted slightly, while Soarin' shuffled in place.

Then, ever so slowly, an amethyst haze appeared in the room. Though brighter in some places than others, the suspended stream formed a rough ring around the table.

Soarin' was still for a moment, startled by the appearance, but relaxed slightly when he saw Rainbow's grin.

“Wow.” Rainbow started, taking a step toward the floating haze. “So, this is all that magic signal stuff you were talking about?”

“Huh?” Twilight replied, confused. “What are you talking about?”

Spitfire looked equally puzzled, glancing between Dash and Twilight.

“Uh, you mean...” Rainbow looked all around, like a lost filly. “You don't, uh, you don't...”

Twilight cocked her brow. “Don't what?”

“Rainbow was just wondering that it seems like you don't know a whole lot about this kind of magic.” Soarin' jumped in, striding up next to Dash.

Twilight thought for a moment. “Oh, well, yes that is true.” The unicorn replied absently. “But I will soon.”

Twilight returned to her work, none the wiser. Spitfire was not so content, a skeptical look on her face as she watched her fellow pegasi.

Dash nodded curtly from Soarin' to the haze. The Wonderbolt nodded in affirmation.

Slowly, and as unassuming as he could, Soarin' strode casually alongside the haze. Nothing. Thought the stallion, stopping aside the fog. He had half expected his aura to flare in alarm, but his ethereal ally maintained its dormant hum with Rainbow Dash. So what if I...

Soarin' started to walk again, casually letting his canter drift into the haze.

“Argh!” Soarin' exclaimed awkwardly, bolting into the air. A small blackened singe marked the Wonderbolt's hoof.

Rainbow Dash immediately winced. Her aura flared slightly, as she felt the power siphon toward Soarin'.

Again Twilight leveled a curious stare. “Uh, Soarin'? Are you, okay?”

Slowly Soarin' hovered to his hooves. Ugh. Okay, that was stupid. He put a hoof to his pounding skull, trying to ignore the sudden pain. “Uh, yeah, just uh, stubbed my hoof on the table, that's all.” The Wonderbolt played off casually.

Twilight eyed the pegasi for a moment longer, but finally shrugged indifferently.

Spitfire was like a hawk, watching the two from her perch in corner of the room.

Rainbow stared insistently at Soarin', despite trying not to draw attention to herself. “Yeah, you should try to be a little more care-” Rainbow froze mid sentence, her eyes still as she stared at Soarin'.

A gentle silver glow emanated from the Wonderbolt, collecting around his chest and slowly growing.

Soarin' looked confused for a moment. Rainbow's eyes seemed locked on his chest. Slowly the Wonderbolt glanced downward.

Immediately the stallion skittered backward several steps, like a group of spiders had sudden attacked him. Thankfully, he restrained the urge to shout.

Twilight took no notice, but Spitfire was all the more suspicious.

Soarin' stared down at himself, as the silver glow continued to waft and swirl slowly about his body. It was thin and almost completely transparent. Slowly, the Wonderbolt raised a hoof and gingerly prodded at his chest.

“Uh, Soarin'?” Rainbow asked expectantly.

Soarin' looked up to reply, but quickly caught his words in his throat. All he could do was nod poignantly, gesturing to the rainbow mare.

Oh crud. Rainbow lowered her eyes. Sure enough, a light red mist gathered about her in the same fashion as Soarin'. She stared between herself and the stallion, unspoken questions passing between them.

“Alright, what's up with you two?” Spitfire finally spoke up, trotting next to Dash.

Both Soarin' and Dash jerked toward Spitfire, ready to deflect her question. All words were immediately lost as they gawked at the yellow pegasus.

Spitfire stopped short of the amethyst haze. “What? Why are you guys looking at me so funny?”

Soarin' and Dash's eyes remained locked on Spitfire. A small, fiery orange gleam circled about her chest, smaller in volume than Soarin' or Rainbow's own, but just as bright.

Rainbow quickly glanced toward Twilight. No glow gathered at the unicorn's chest.

“Uh, Captain, you uh, you feeling okay?” Soarin' asked, trying not to sound suggestive.

Spitfire raised a brow. “I'm fine, other than the weird vibes I'm getting from you two all of a sudden. You two clearly need some rest.” The Wonderbolt walked toward Twilight. “Twilight Sparkle, I think we need to-”

Rainbow jumped forward. “Spitfire, wait!”

Unfortunately, Spitfire had already crossed into the haze.

Nothing happened.

Spitfire glared back at the other two pegasi, now clearly annoyed. “What?!”

Soarin' and Dash glanced stupidly between each other and the Wonderbolt Captain. The malevolent haze bombarded the glow around Spitfire's chest, soundless sparks spraying about. Spitfire seemed to take no notice.

“Uh, nothing! Nothing at all!” Soarin' exclaimed. “You're right Cap, just need some rest is all!”

Rainbow nodded in agreement, hoping Spitfire wouldn't prod further.

Spitfire sighed in frustration, suddenly looking more haggard. “Twilight, I think we need to wrap this up. These two might be in shock from earlier. And uh,” She put a hoof hoof to her head, teetering slightly. Beads of sweat started to form at her brow. “I think I might need a break too...” She trailed off, her breathing a little more shallow.

Twilight's eyes lit up in alarm. "Oh, what was I thinking!? You all should have gone to the hospital." The unicorn quickly doused her horn, quickly trotting toward the doorway, passing through the haze unharmed. "There's not much more I can do here anyway; I need to do some research first."

Rainbow smiled inwardly, for once thankful she had a friend as big of an egghead as Twilight. It's going to be hard keeping her in the dark the more she digs though. Rainbow thought, frowning. And what if she found out too much? What then? What if she sent a letter to Celestia? Things had certainly gotten more serious. Would Rainbow and Soarin' be able to handle the rogue pegasi without the help of an Alicorn? Rainbow didn't know. But if Celestia found out then surely Rainbow's friends would want to know. She glanced to Soarin' beside her, but the stallion seemed more concerned about the immediate predicament.

Spitfire trotted over to Soarin' and Rainbow Dash, her face still slightly strained. "I'll ask what all that," Spitfire glared suspiciously between the two pegasi before her, "was about later." She turned to follow Twilight out of the room. "Come on, lets get to the hospital."

Both pegasi nodded, joining Spitfire and exiting the room.


Soarin' and Rainbow Dash sat quietly in the emergency room of the Ponyville Hospital. Tired both physically and mentally, both were exhausted from the night's events.

There was a soft click as the office door opened. In strode Doctor Remedy. Bags hung under his eyes, complimented by his disheveled mane.

"Mr. Soarin', Ms. Dash." He greeted the two pegasi absently. "Can't say I'm surprised to see you here."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, we're trouble makers." Dash snapped, in no mood for the physician's jibes. "We get the clean bill of health or what?"

"Yes, yes, you're both perfectly fine. More than perfectly fine it seems." The doctor glanced over toward Soarin' for a moment.

"Still not happening doc."

"I thought as much." Doctor Remedy sighed. "I must see how Mr. Jet is doing. If you'll come with me, his room is this way."

Both pegasi followed the doctor through the hospital to one of the patient rooms. Inside, Swift Jet was still unconscious upon the bed, with both Scootaloo and Midnight Blossom by his side. Applejack, Rarity and Twilight were also present, keeping watch over the trio.

Rainbow and Soarin' silently walked over to Scootaloo, while Doctor Remedy looked over Swift Jet.

“Your husband is still unconscious, I'm afraid.” They physician turned, addressing Midnight Blossom and Scootaloo calmly. “But, thankfully he's not in a coma, and we've stabilized the worst of his wounds. The only thing we can do now is give his body time to heal.”

“Thank you doctor.” Midnight Blossom replied in relief. “Thank you so very much.”

“Please let any of the nurses know if you need anything. If you'll excuse me.”

Quietly the doctor exited the room.

Rainbow Dash sided up next to Scootaloo. “You okay kiddo?” She asked quietly.

Scootaloo nodded, taking a shaky breath. “Y-yeah.” She looked up at Rainbow Dash for a moment, then lunged forward, pulling the elder mare into a hug. “Thank you.”

Dash simply smiled, returning the gesture.

Scootaloo released Rainbow, then suddenly hugged Soarin' in turn.

“And you too Soarin'!”

Soarin' stiffened slightly, not at all expecting the intimate gesture, but slowly returned the hug weakly. He looked down at the younger pegasus who held onto him fiercely, her face buried in his chest.

“Oh, um... your welcome Scootaloo.”

Slowly Scootaloo released the Wonderbolt. She appeared visibly more relaxed as she seated herself once more next to her mother.

“Thank you. Both of you.” Midnight Blossom looked between Dash and Soarin', then to Rainbow's friends. “All of you. I don't know what I would have done if...”

“Hey.” Rainbow interjected. “None of that stuff. No way anything was going to end up bad, not with us around.”

Midnight Blossom nodded, blinking away a few tears. “You're right. I really am grateful that you all were there; the Elements of Harmony and the Wonderbolts. I only wish Ms. Spitfire were here so I could thank her.”

“Present ma'am.”

All eyes turned to the doorway as Spitfire strode in. Though her voice had been firm, the pegasus looked just as tired and worn as Soarin' and Dash.

Scootaloo visibly brightened at the sight of the Wonderbolt Captain. Midnight Blossom simply smiled appreciatively.

Spitfire looked on at Swift Jet. “How is he?”

“Still unconscious.” Soarin' replied. “Doc says he should recover with enough rest.”

Spitfire nodded. “You okay Scootaloo?”

Scootaloo smiled, nodding. “Yeah. Thanks for saving my Dad.”

Spitfire grinned. “What I do kiddo.”

The yellow pegasus turned to the other two pegasi, a more serious look on her face. “Soarin', Rainbow Dash, a word.”

Soarin' and Rainbow Dash glanced at one another, but wordlessly followed Spitfire out of the room.

Spitfire led the duo down the darkened hall. Moonlight streamed through the window panes, painting silvery squares on the floor and casting pegasi shaped shadows as the trio walked on. Along with the darkness came the silence that filled the deserted hospital, only a skeleton crew of nurses to administer to the few patients that had come in only an hour before.

Finally, Spitfire stopped near the end of the hall. She stepped into an open lounge that sat in an alcove off of the hall, glancing around to make sure that they were alone. Satisfied, she turned to Soarin' and Rainbow Dash.

“I've put the Wonderbolts on alert.” Spitfire announced.

Soarin' nodded in ascent, but Rainbow looked confused.

“Alert? What do you mean?”

“What happened at The Trough and Cider wasn't a disorganized rabble; these were military trained pegasi with powerful magic, and clearly up to no good. What exactly that is, I'm not sure, but I'm not about to let a bunch of rogues tarnish the Cloudsdale Pegasi's name.”

Soarin' turned to Rainbow Dash. “This is the kind of mission we'd get tagged for anyway. Special operations and counter-terror ops that your standard guard isn't up to.” Soarin' smirked cockily. “Can't expect those Canterlot sellouts to do the hard stuff.”

“So what exactly are we gonna do?” Rainbow questioned again.

“The 'Bolts will run a night watch over the Everfree and Ponyville.”

“Two squads should do it I think. Rapidfire and Wave Chill on the lead.” Soarin' replied, the gears in his mind turning. “Regular reports every quarter hour, and we should be able to run it through the show tomorrow with the reserve squad.”

“Wait a minute.” Rainbow interjected. “We're not going after them?” There was a defiant look on her face. “We gotta stop them now!”

Spitfire straightened up a bit. “Not happening. We know next to nothing about these guys, what they're capable of, how many there are, or what their exact target is, if it is in fact in the Everfree. Not too mention an infinite number of reasons to not go into the Everfree at night.”

“We'd be walking in blind.” Soarin' added grimly.

Rainbow frowned, but couldn't argue with the Wonderbolts' logic.

“Don't worry Rainbow Dash.” Spitfire said, trying to reassure her fellow pegasus. “I promise, as soon as we know more, I will make stopping these rogue pegasi my top priority. Until then, all I can do is monitor the area. I can't risk the safety of my squadron.”

Rainbow looked Spitfire square in the eye. “I'll hold you to that Spitfire.”

The Wonderbolt Captain nodded solemnly. “I know you will Dash. You can count on us.”

“Do you need anything else Captain?” Soarin' asked, hoping to change the subject.

“Yes actually. Do you two know anything about how Scootaloo's father is involved with all this? Right now he's our only lead.”

Soarin' shook his head, but zeroed on Rainbow when she spoke up.

“Uh, yeah actually I do.”

“Wait. You do?”

Rainbow looked apologetically to the stallion. “Sorry Soarin', I just found out, and I meant to tell you, but a lot of stuff kept getting in the way tonight.”

“I assume it's related to all this ancient stuff.” Spitfire commented. “What do you got?”

Rainbow rubbed the back of her neck, trying to best describe her theory. “Well... its more of a hunch than anything. I think Swift Jet may be the third pegasus.”

“The one we're supposed to be looking for?” Soarin' asked, surprised.

“Yeah. I felt his aura before we met up with you guys at The Trough and Cider. Was only for a second though.”

“Hmm.” Spitfire thought pensively. “That would explain why he was involved with those pegasi mercs. If those guys are actually a part of this cataclysm prophecy stuff.”

“I didn't feel anything though.” Soarin' countered. “No aura from him or anything.”

“Like I said, I only felt it for a moment.” Rainbow added quickly, hoping to allay Soarin's confusion. “That's why I'm not too sure. And it's better than what I was thinking before...” Dash trailed off cautiously.

“Scootaloo?” Soarin' guessed.

Dash sighed.“Yeah.”

It was Spitfire's turn to be surprised. “Her? You can't be serious.”

“It seemed like it could be her, especially after what she experienced outside The Trough and Cider.” Dash scrunched her face up in frustration, suddenly stamping her hoof to the ground. “By the Archons it better not be her! It can't be her! She can't get hurt!”

“It may be too late for that...” Spitfire said wistfully, looking on to Swift Jet's room.

“We'll follow up with Swift Jet when he wakes up.” Soarin' said quickly, putting a comforting hoof to Dash's back. “If he was investigating these cult pegasi guys then he may know something we don't.”

“Right.” The yellow pegasus nodded. “Now that we've got that out of the way,” Spitfire fixed her eyes curiously on the two pegasi, “what the hay was up with you two back there?”

Rainbow Dash cringed. She had hoped Spitfire would forget to ask since they had left the bar.

“Okay.” Soarin' started. “Well, would you believe that-”

“Yes actually, I think I would.” Spitfire cut the stallion off, a slightly amused look on her face. “I don't think you can top anything you two haven't already told me.”

Soarin' briefly recapped the magical streams the two had encountered from earlier.

Spitfire seemed mildly alarmed by time the stallion had finished, glancing awkwardly down at her chest, half expecting something to appear atop it.

“So you're saying I had this weird glowing thing hanging around me? Why? I thought you said there was only three of these special pegasi.”

“Yours was different. Somehow.” Dash added, fully aware of how weak her argument sounded.

Spitfire simply cocked a brow at Dash.

“Yeah.” Soarin' lifted his hoof up, examining the singe that still marked it. “You only got a headache from that purple fog.” He grumbled.

“Thought you two were supposed to be invincible now or something.” Spitfire said, eying the stallion's blackened scar.

Rainbow sighed in defeat. “Hay if I know anymore. Everything’s more twisted than last years Winter Wrap Up.”

“But,” Soarin' spoke up, “I'd be willing to bet my left horseshoe that this glowing stuff is something only pegasi have.”

“Twilight didn't have it.” Rainbow commented absently.

Spitfire put a hoof to her chin. “Huh. Sounds like something my mom used to say about all pegasi being special and connected and whatnot.” She shook her head dismissively. “More stories.”

“I think we better get the rest of the 'Bolts going Spitfire.” Soarin' said, looking through the adjacent window to the night sky. “The sooner we get that patrol in the air, the better.”

“Right. No use in wasting time with myths now.” She looked over the two pegasi in front of her. “And I think we could all use some rest. Let's link up again in the morning.”

Spitfire made a move to leave, but Soarin' lingered. “You go ahead Spitfire, I'll catch up.”

The Wonderbolt Captain looked between Soarin' and Dash. A smirk tugged at the corner of her mouth. “Don't be too long lover boy.” She said maliciously, walking off.

“Spitfire, I swear...” Soarin' seethed under his breath.

“So, never a dull moment with us huh?”

Soarin' turned to Rainbow Dash. She wore her own cocky smirk, as she looked on at the stallion.

Soarin' grinned. “No kidding. Not everyday I get to kick flank with the awesome Rainbow Dash. I think I'll keep you around.”

“Oh really?” Rainbow feigned insult. “I think you've got it the other way around there pal.”

Soarin' laughed. “Somehow, I don't have a problem with that.”

And suddenly Soarin's thoughts wandered. To something that was bothering him terribly. Back to The Trough and Cider. Back to when one of the rogue pegasi had attacked Dash. That moment had been more terrifying than anything he had experienced up to that point. He hadn't really had time to think on it; all he knew was the absolute terror that gripped his chest every time he played the memory through his mind.

“Hey Dash, I wanted to ask you something.” Soarin' mumbled, his expression more somber.

Dash looked concerned, noting the stallion's sudden change in demeanor. “Sure. What's up?”

Soarin' stumbled through his mind. What did he want to ask her? Why did he want to ask her anything? He blurted the first thing that came to mind.

“Are you okay?”

Rainbow looked confused. She looked over herself quickly. “Yeah, I guess, all things considered. What do you mean exactly?”

Soarin' frowned. Of course she's okay! What kind of question was that?! “I was thinking, back to when you were attacked at the bar.” Soarin' averted his eyes. “I couldn't do anything. You could've been... you might've been... I wasn't sure if you were okay.” Soarin' looked back to Dash sincerely. “I've never been so afraid before in my life.”

The mare just stared back, stunned.

And then Soarin's mind went blank. “Right, well, I uh better get going...” He said dismissively, trying to forget his confession. The Wonderbolt started to walk off, when a feathered wing suddenly wrapped itself around his neck.

He could feel the warm presence of her next to him, her breath on his neck.

Rainbow leaned lightly into Soarin', placing a gentle kiss on his cheek.

Soarin' was momentarily stunned as the euphoria rushed through him. Rainbow's serene whisper came very close to his ear.

“That answer your question?”

All Soarin' could do was look down at the lithe pegasus next to him, her playful smile looking back.

Her angelic voice came again. “Goodnight, Soarin'.”

With a final gentle squeeze, Rainbow released the stupefied Wonderbolt, walking off with a little more sway in her step.

A few moments passed before Soarin' finally moved. But when he did it was with a much lighter step and a delightfully stupid grin on his face. Despite all the gloom that had transpired in the past few days, none of it could blot out the soft kiss that he replayed in his head, over and over and over again.

He traced his steps back to meet with Spitfire and the rest of the Wonderbolts. There was work to be done, but for just a little while, his mind was solely on that of a rainbow maned pegasus.

Ch. 14: Nightmares and Revelations

View Online

Legacy of the Pegasi:

Ch. 14: Nightmares and Revelations

Soarin' stood upon a lone cloud. A valiant blue sky was all around him, a summer wind gently wafting across his wings. He wordlessly looked about the sky scape. Nothing was in view, even to his pegasi eyes; there was only himself, his cloud, the brilliant blue above, and the emerald green pastures below.

“Hmm.”

It was odd that he was alone, a predicament that troubled Soarin' far more than how he was suddenly here in the first place. Where exactly was here? Why was he on this cloud? How did he get here? Why did none of these questions seem particularly important? Soarin' recognized the validity of these questions, but chose to ignore them anyway.

Instead, he abruptly leaped from the cloud, letting the wind fill his outstretched wings.

-

Rainbow let the wind carry her into the empty blue expanse. Though she considered that her questions from earlier seemed important, she really didn't feel the need. It just made much more sense to fly.

And fly she did.

She flew for a while. Had it been minutes? Hours? A day? Rainbow hadn't really paid attention. It didn't really bother her. She glanced at the sun, but it didn't really seem like it had moved at all. It wasn't like it really matt-.

Suddenly a white speck appeared on the horizon. Rainbow's eyes lit up, the first time she had truly been focused on anything in the unknown amount of time she had been flying through the barren sky.

-

Soarin' approached the lone cloud. Perhaps it was the nothingness that had surrounded him for the oddly unmeasurable amount of time that Soarin' couldn't recall, but he had felt immediately drawn to the cloud as soon as he saw it.

And now he knew why.

The Wonderbolt landed upon the puffy white cloud, his eyes drawn to the center. Seated in the middle of the cloud was a statue. It was the statue of a pegasus warrior of old, garbed in armor and armed with a pair of dual hoof daggers. With wings outstretched in flight and bladed hooves forward, the statue looked skyward, a grim facade of determination upon it. A silvery fog radiated around near its chest, shifting to and fro.

Soarin' looked up at Commander Hurricane with a grin.

The statue began to shimmer.

-

Rainbow Dash took a few apprehensive steps back.

The statue of Lightning Streak continued to shimmer, its form slowly changing.

Rainbow continued to stare, transfixed by the metamorphosis before her. However, her mesmerized stare soon turned to a cavalier smirk.

No longer did the statue bear the grim features of Lightning Streak, instead Rainbow's own confident visage looked to the horizon. She was clothed in Lightning Streak's armor, looking just as impressive and formidable. A gentle crimson fog hung about the statue's breastplate.

Rainbow simply continued to grin as she admired her magnified self depicted in stone. No questions came to mind. Should there have been? It didn't seem to bother her.

But the statue wasn't the only thing that had changed.

The sun had suddenly disappeared, overtaken by a host of raging storm clouds. A sickly hue of amethyst purple filled the blacked clouds as ominous flashes came, following by the telling rumble of thunder. The wind suddenly whipped around the solitary cloud, catching Rainbow's wings.

-

Soarin' braced himself against the cloud, skidding back toward the edge. His eyes darted all around. His lonely cloud was suddenly surrounded by billowing storm clouds, the haphazard flashes of hidden lightning and tumultuous crashes of thunder seemingly restrained just shy of a raging tempest. Only gusts of chilled air lashed about the cloudy island.

Soarin' readied his wings to take flight. But he would not be leaving just yet.

A surge of warning hit Soarin's mind, but it did him little good. A pair of lightning bolts erupted from above, exploding only a few paces from the Wonderbolt. Soarin' was thrown to the surface of the cloud by the shock wave, his eyes blinded by searing light.

How much time passed, he didn't know. Slowly Soarin' stumbled to his hooves, his sight slowly coming to.

Standing in the craters of the dual lightning strikes, were a pair of cloaked figures, their backs to the stupefied Wonderbolt.

-

Rainbow Dash stood rigid. She blinked several times, but her eyes did not deceive her.

The two figures stood still for a moment, their blackened cloaks whipping madly about with the increasing winds.

“Who are you?” Rainbow called out.

Neither figure moved. It was as if she wasn't even there at all.

Rainbow cautiously waited, but the mysterious ponies before her remained still, both staring down the statue before them.

Rainbow risked to move. Slowly she lifted her hoof, and took a step forward.

Immediately the sound of flourished wings and brandished steel cut through the air. Rainbow froze as the two pegasi hovered in the air, bladed hooves held at the ready before the statue.

“What-” Rainbow called out, but the sound of steel striking stone rendered her speechless.

The cloaked pegasi to her right had slashed across the statue's chest, the otherworldly steel leaving a crisp diagonal scar.

Rainbow tried to speak again, but a sudden tightness in her chest rendered her mute. Looking downward, Rainbow's eyes went wide in horror. A soundless scream left her lips as pain exploded forth.

A vicious laceration crossed Rainbow's chest, blood filling her cerulean coat.

-

Soarin' felt his legs start to wobble as he stared at the deep gash that ran across his chest. He tried to speak, but no words came. His face spoke volumes of fear and confusion as he attempted to stumble forward. All questions of how and why were pushed to the side as he tried to reach the pegasi before him.

The wind began to increase in intensity, but no rain came. Only the foreboding flashes in the distance and the heavy and ominous roll of thunder heralded the coming tempest.

The wound upon the statue's chest seemed to pulse with a sickening amethyst light, its glow dispersing the silvery aura.

“Wait!” Soarin' finally cried out. “Stop!”

But his words did nothing.

The clash of steel against stone rang out again.

Soarin's forelegs gave out from underneath him, as he collapsed with a gasp. Blood poured down to his hooves, a pair of wounds from a single strike along his forelegs. The Wonderbolt lifted his head. The cloaked pegasi still ignored him, as he lay paralyzed to the ground. The shrouded figure on Soarin's left held his right hoof outward from the level strike, the scar running across the statue's shins.

Soarin' tried to push himself forward on his wounded appendages, but the pain was too much as he fell forward once more, crying out as he ground his wounds against the cloud. Tears filled his eyes as the world began to blur.

There was another flourish of wings. Soarin's heart stopped.

He had only a moment to lift eyes upward. The pegasus to his right readied his left hoof for an upward slash to the statue's face.

Soarin closed his eyes.

-

There was another ring as the bladed hoof met the statue, but Rainbow didn't hear it against her own blood curdling scream. Pain filled her mind as an invisible blow struck the left side of her face, throwing her like a rag doll to the surface of the cloud.

Her body lay limp. Rainbow's left eye was gone; there was only darkness and the blood that filled her remaining eye. She could feel the blood beginning to pool around her. Her vision blurred.

The rough landing of two pegasi rocked the cloud. Against the shouts of pain that filled her mind, Rainbow forced her head around to her good eye.

Both pegasi stood before her, only a few paces away. Behind them, Rainbow could barely make out the crimson aura about the ruined statue, its calling warmth a fading flicker against the storm.

The cloaked assailants stepped forward. Their shadowed faces stared down at Rainbow Dash, demonic and unfeeling. They stood still, like the statue behind them, only the driving winds fighting against their black cloaks.

Rainbow's eyes flitted between the empty stares that bored down upon her and the razor sharp blades that lay only inches from her head. Only barely suppressed whimpers escaped her mouth as her mind contested with surging pain and the torrent of questions that beset her. One stood above all the rest.

With what little strength she had left, Rainbow lifted her head toward the two shadowy pegasi. Her mouth opened with a shallow gasp.

“...Why?”

The the shadowy figure to her right lowered its hood. Cold, dead eyes replied back.

Rainbow Dash's eyes went wide in a horror filled shock.

“M-mom?”

-

Soarin' stared back from the surface of the cloud at the two hood-less pegasi, his heart racing as terror and confusion filled him.

“Dad?”

Two sets of eyes stared back at him, a dead, soulless void. Behind the two pegasi, the storm had finally arrived, flashes of lightning streaking past the tiny cloud.

And then, in a flash, the pegasus that was Soarin's father brought his bladed hoof across Soarin's throat.

-

Soarin' bolted upright in his bed. His mane was drenched in sweat, his heart raced, and his breath came in shaky rattles. His body quivered slightly, lingering fear slowly releasing his body, even as the final moments of his nightmare played through his mind.

Slowly, the Wonderbolt looked over himself. His eye was whole. Blood didn't stain his forelegs or hooves. He gingerly dragged his hoof across his chest. He half flinched, but there was no pain, no wound across his chest.

Though he knew it was foolish, Soarin' let loose shaky breath in relief. But even as his body was at ease, Soarin' found his mind was not. Sitting alone in the darkness of his bedroom, there was only one question beside him.

What... was that?

Halfway across Ponyville, Rainbow Dash thought the same.


Shadowy cloaks darted through the deserted streets of Ponyville at night. No sound came as those who wished to remain unseen skulked from alleyway to alleyway, corner to corner. They moved in groups, bounding from cover to cover, not once tripping up, not once making a sound, flawlessly and stealthily sneaking about in a drilled precision. Slowly but efficiently they made their way toward the edge of the small town, each hooded head on a swivel and scanning the sky, the squad leaders ready at a moments notice to thrust a hoof in the air to signal the halt.

The entirety of the Tempest Guard stood silently within the final alley, the darkened passage shielding them from unwanted eyes. Beyond them lay one final obstacle; a dark and open expanse that separated them from their goal.

The squad leader with the first group poked his shrouded head around the corner into the street. For a moment he was still, his comrades waiting tensely for his signal.

There was no activity in the open fields between Ponyville and the Everfree Forest, but that was not where the squad leader was looking. His eyes were skyward. Seconds passed without alarm, but the cloaked pegasus was unwavering. Then, there was a twitch of his ears. A gentle whooshing sound, almost undetectable, invaded the sky space.

A pair of Wonderbolts flew in tandem overhead, their eyes like hawks as they scanned the air and the ground below. They passed above the open field, disappearing behind the rooftops. Then, seconds later they reappeared, retracing their flightpath, still ever vigilant.

Abruptly, the sentry spun back to his refuge silently, pushing himself up against the alley wall. His eyes darted toward the center of the group, locking on a particular cloaked pegasus. He pointedly pumped his hoof to the air twice.

The stallion at the center of the group nodded curtly. He made a series of swift hoof signals, gesturing to the pegasus nearest to him. The guardsmen simply nodded, then deftly moved up behind the sentry, his eyes still peeled toward the sky. Without breaking his watch, the lead pegasus gave a quick pat to his fellow guardsmen.

Immediately the second pegasus bolted from the alley, his eyes locked to his destination. A second later he skidded to a halt, taking up his position and mirroring his companion, the two watching both angles in the sky.

The rest of the guardsmen immediately stacked up behind the lead sentry, awaiting the signal.

The second silently made eye contact with the first, and gave a curt nod.

Immediately the first sentry rapped his hoof against the building. Two pegasi whipped around the corner. Soundlessly their hooves struck the ground as the pair disappeared into the shadow at the edge of the Everfree Forest.

Minutes passed as pair after pair of cloaked pegasi skillfully and stealthily crossed into the darkness of the forest. Only two now remained.

The first of the duo sided up behind the first sentry and gave a quick pat with his silver hoof. The sentry affirmed with a nod, then with a quick glance, dashed into the darkness, his fellow sentry wordlessly following in kind.

Silver Wings peered his hooded head across the corner. “Windswept, when I give the signal, you will hug this corner and gallop across to the rest of the Guard.” He said, still watching the skies. “I will follow opposite of you.”

Windswept nodded quickly, trying to keep his breath even.

Silver's steel shoe sounded against brick and mortar.

Windswept jumped slightly, not entirely prepared for the signal. He jumped out around the corner, his hooves echoing a stampede of clacks along the stone road.

Immediately a flurry of wings sounded from the behind the rooftops. Windswept stumbled off the road and into the field, grateful for its silent surface. But it was too late. The field suddenly felt much larger and empty without the mercy of any kind of cover. His head twisted about frantically, trying to pinpoint the aerial sentries.

Windswept gritted his teeth. Run you idiot!

He made a mad dash for the edge of the forest, trying to outrun the growing wing beats, but the distance between Windswept and the Everfree had suddenly become much larger.

Just when he was sure he would be seen, Windswept suddenly felt a presence behind him. Still running, he risked a glance behind. Immediately a winged shadow descendent silently upon him, driving him to the ground without a sound.

Silver Wings pulled his cloak about himself and Windswept, grasping his amulet. “Be silent.” He whispered tersely. A black glow radiated from his amulet, just as the sound of hovering wing beats settled barely a hoof above the two pegasi.

Windswept was tense, not moving a muscle as he held his breath. His ears strained above him.

“...ere's nothing here.”

“....ld've sworn I saw... moving over here.”

Windswept strained to hear more, but the words were muffled and distant, as if he and Silver were two spies eavesdropping on one room from another.

“...bunch of rocks and grass. Come on, ...eck in with the next shift.”

There was another flurry of wings, as the wing beats suddenly became more distant, finally dropping off out of sound completely.

Silver Wings immediately jumped to his feet, dousing the glow from his amulet. He and Windswept then galloped across the field without a word, joining the rest of the waiting Guard at the edge of the shadowy forest.

Windswept nearly tripped, stopping just shy of crossing into the shadow of the wood. If the Everfree elicited a shiver at its sight during the day, then it was absolutely terrifying at night. He had heard the legends and stories about the most haunted forest in Equestria, but they did little to justify the void that waited before him. Everfree clouds had moved in throughout the course of the night, shielding the light of the stars, but Windswept would have bet that their twinkling light would have mattered little. The ancient and gnarled oaks of the forest created an impenetrable canopy, spawning the extreme darkness before him. A chilly fog permeated the forest, joining the dark as a ward against trespassers.

Windswept averted his eyes, afraid to stare too long into the fog veiled darkness. He could feel the frigid wisps around his hooves, small claws reaching forth from the forest.

Some members of the Guard seemed to be of like mind, noticeably more hesitant than their elders.

“The darkness and fog here...” a younger mare whispered aloud. “It isn't natural. I can feel it!”

“Precisely the reason we are here young one.” One of the veteran guards replied.

“Indeed.” Silver added, marching to front of the group. He stomped his hooves in rapid succession against the ground.

Immediately the Tempest Guard fell into formation in around Silver and Windswept, all fear pushed to the side. Four pegasi spread out in a half circle in the front, mimicked by a second in the rear. Together the formation moved slowly into the forest. The rest disappeared into the shadowy heights, maintaining a watchful eye above, just under the canopy of the Everfree Forest. Each Guard bore a dim glowing amethyst light from their amulet, stealthily lighting the way.

The group walked for a time in silence. However, as the pegasi moved forward, Windswept noticed that many of the Guard around him seemed on edge, their hooded heads darting around as if to catch a whisper on the wind. He was about to pass it off as simply a healthy paranoia for the legendary wood, but an involuntary shudder down his spine said otherwise.

Windswept twisted his head about. It was almost as if there had been a brush at the very edge of his mind, unreachable, but very real. It was like the thought of another, reaching out to him. Almost as if it had... Direction? Intent?

Such thoughts were foolish, Windswept reasoned. Spirits and ghosts were foals tales, only amplified by the haunting forest around him. Nothing to worry about. He thought, continuing onward.

Windswept shivered again.

The Tempest Guard continued to patrol forward, but nothing more came to touch Windswept's mind.

Doing his best to set his mind at ease, the would be Tempest Guard glanced from underneath his hood over toward Silver Wings, but the leader made no gesture toward his companion.

Windswept's mind wandered back to his stumbling in the field.

“Silver, I'm sorry. I-”

“Your tactics are rusty Windswept.” Silver stated flatly. “You act like you're right out of Mandatory Service Training.”

“Uh, well, it has been a few years since my time in the squadron. I'll try harder next ti-”

“There may not be a next time.” Silver stopped, turning his hooded face to Windswept. Despite his hidden features, Windswept could still feel the chilling glare that Silver leveled at him. “So you will not try. You will be better. There are no weak links in the Tempest Guard. Our mission is too important to entertain such feeble efforts.”

Windswept was quiet for a moment, processing Silver's words. “I understand.”

Silver nodded, then resumed his forward plod. “You were lucky that I was able to reach you in time; I had not anticipated that the Wonderbolts would move so quickly.” He spoke lightly, though it quickly turned to a sneer. “It truly is a twisted irony that the damnable Legacy Guard would stand in our way and not even know it.”

The gears began to turn in Windswept's head. Wait. If the Wonderbolts and the Legacy Guard are one and the same... “Silver, if what you say is true, then shouldn't the Legacy Guard be helping us?”

Silver let out a sigh. “Windswept, there is something you must understand. What history you know, what all pegasi know, save for the Tempest Guard, is a distorted mockery.” The stallion was silent for a moment, seeming to gather his thoughts. “Simply put, Commander Hurricane and his Lieutenants are the greatest traitors and the darkest secret of the pegasi race.” Silver Wings spat out the words irreverently.

Windswept was shocked. Commander Hurricane, Ice Wing and Lightning Streak, the single most legendary pegasi to have ever lived, the hallowed Legacy Bearers, traitors? How could it have been possible?

“The victors write the history Windswept.” Silver continued somberly, almost reading his befuddled companion's mind. “They would have you believe that the Archon Council was a corrupted entity, bent on oppressing the pegasus race. Hurricane and his ilk tricked the Last Archon against his brothers in the Council. Then he and his Legacy Guard defeated the Last Archon, the Grandmaster of our Order.”

“But why? Why would they do such a thing? To what end?”

“To shackle us under Celestia. In exchange for power over the pegasi, Hurricane sold out our entire race.” Silver paused for a moment. “His perverse legacy endures today. You know of what I speak Windswept. You see it daily in the farce union and prosperity that would dare to make the other races our equals. The contention that has marked Canterlot and Cloudsdale for centuries. The lies that have blinded all pegasi. Pegasi know it in their blood that we are held back, but our own history has betrayed us.”

Windswept could hear the subdued conviction in Silver's words. “Our true potential is held underhoof by the Royals. Only by the rule of The Master of Storms can we restore the lost legacy of the Skythan Empire.”

Windswept stopped in his tracks, but the gears in his mind continued to turn. Was it truly as Silver Wings had said? That the pegasi had been caged and oppressed for thousands of years without even knowing it? That Silver and the Tempest Guard were who they said they were? An ancient Order operating in the shadows for thousands of years to restore the lost glory of the pegasi?

Windswept clenched his jaw. He could feel an anger burning within him, a righteous fury at the transgressions that Silver had brought to him. But he checked it. I have to know.

“Thankfully, Hurricane and his Lieutenants didn't live long to see the fruits of their victory.” Silver commented off hoof, an almost audible glee in his words. “Our ancestors in the Tempest Guard made sure of that.”

Silver turned when he realized Windswept was not by his side.

Despite the darkness of the Everfree, Windswept could still see Silver Wings looking back at him. “Are you really the Tempest Guard? Is everything you've told me really true?”

“I know this is difficult to swallow Windswept, but now you know the gravity of our cause.” There was understanding in the elder pegasi's words. “I assure you it is the same as the justice and fulfillment for our race that you yearn for. Your commitment will not be in vain, I promise you. I know I haven't been able to tell you much until now, but just a little bit further, and I will prove my words to you.”

Windswept nodded. He would trust his friend. Silver Wings had never given him a reason to doubt.

Silver Wings returned to his course. “Let us carry on, we do not have time to waste, even under cover of the Everfree.”

The Tempest Guard continued to trek warily through the darkened forest. It was eerily silent, bereft of the howls of timber wolves and the many other creatures that inhabited the Everfree. There was only the soundless parting of fog and the snapping of twigs underhoof the traveling pegasi. The unnatural stillness was not lost on many of the Guard, their trepidation clear in the shaky hoof-steps and jilted glances about the darkness.

Windswept continued to walk on beside Silver Wings, trying to ignore the shadows. But the darkness was not all he had to contend with.

Windswept's vision suddenly blurred, as his eyes seemed to move in and out of focus. What in the- Immediately his head was assaulted with an immense headache, like a vice squeezing his skull. He stopped for a moment, trying to shake the sudden ailment, but it did little good. Unintelligible words flitted from both near and far away, taunting him, the familiar presence skirting his mind once more. He closed his eyes trying to shut out the pressure and flurry of half words, but they only seemed to grow, both luring and striking at him.

And then all at once, it ceased.

“Windswept?”

Windswept looked up. He must have been standing still for some time, as Silver Wings was several yards ahead of him, the leader of the Guard almost completely consumed by the fog, save for the amethyst glow around his neck.

Just keep your cool Windswept. The pegasus reassured himself.

Windswept gave another shake to his head, if only to assure himself that it was clear. He trotted quickly toward Silver. “Sorry about that, just had a little run in with a headache. I'll be fine.”

“Is that so?” Silver Wings replied, just a hint of curiosity in his voice.

Several of the Guard glanced Windswept's way, but said nothing.

Windswept walked on rejoining Silver. “Yes. No reason to stop.” He said quickly. “Probably just some of the curses Nightmare Moon left on this forest.” He added jokingly.

“A common misconception, but no.” Silver replied curtly.

“Wait. What?”

“The Everfree Forest was not always the haunted wood you see before you. Thousands of years ago it was a brighter, much safer place. That is, until the Archon was interred within it. His power has seeped across the entirety of this forest ever since, making it what you see now.”

Windswept took a fresh look at his surroundings. “The Archon's magic did this? But why?”

“Understand Windswept, the Last Archon is a being of terrible power. Do not confuse this to mean that he is a creature of evil. In his state, I would wager the Master of Storms has had little control over his power, especially since the Twin Storms.”

“You make it sound like he's not dead.” Windswept replied cautiously.

“Indeed.” Silver remarked cryptically, just a hint of amusement in his voice.

Traveling in silence once more, Windswept surveyed the forest around him. The Archon's magic did this? Then those whispers from before, where those real? The forest suddenly seemed much more threatening in that moment. No longer were there only the fears of foals' stories.

Windswept shook his head again. Focus. He needed focus.

So instead of watching the forest about him, Windswept's eye wandered to the glowing clasp secured around Silver's neck. “So you are all descendants of the Tempest Guard?” He abruptly asked, if only to stave off the trappings of the forest.

“Many of us are, yes.” Silver replied in step. “My line stems from one of the few officers of the Order, and the only one that has remained unbroken.” Silver raised his head a little higher. “Thus, I command the Tempest Guard.”

“But others are not?”

“Quite. You see, the Guard lost many after the defeat of the Last Archon. Captain High Winds' own line vanished soon after our Order was 'officially' disbanded. So we had to bolster our ranks.” Silver gestured to several Guardsmen nearby, then glanced at Windswept. “Pegasi like yourself who have the desire and will to prove themselves.”

Windswept allowed himself a small smile, hidden beneath his hood. He could not deny the pride that filled him, finally working toward a worthwhile cause, unlike the fruitless years toiled away in the Cloudsdale Senate. And I'm doing it with the Tempest Guard! However his grin faded. There were still things that bothered him. He thought back to the The Trough and Cider. A seemingly random black pegasus, who had breached the magic barrier, and not only endured direct magical assaults, but suppressed them enough to escape. Yet even the mystery of the pegasus intruder was a side note to Windswept. One in particular stood out in his mind, though he had done his best to stifle it.

He played the memory over in his mind. The magical barrier had suddenly crumbled, a lone pegasus seated in the doorway.

Silver's cold and lifeless eyes had bored into the black pegasus.

Kill him.

Windswept shuddered. There had been no hesitation in Silver Wings' words, no falter in his face. Only the cold command issued forth and the rapid reply of the Tempest Guard.

“Silver, there's something I've been meaning to ask you.”

“Yes?”

Windswept paused for a moment. “Was it really necessary to try to kill that pony? Another pegasus?”

Silver Wings stopped, but made no reply.

Windswept tensely awaited his friend's answer. He knew he may have crossed a line with his question, but he had to know.

“Sacrifices must be made Windswept.” Silver replied softly, still looking onward. “Secrecy is and has always been our greatest ally. While it is... regrettable that one of our kind should have to die, we cannot allow anypony, even a pegasus, to stand in our way.” He slowly turned his head toward Windswept. “The sooner you understand that, the better.”

Silver did not wait for a reply, walking forward once more into the fog.

Ch. 15: Interrogations and Rites of Passage

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Legacy of the Pegasi:

Ch. 15: Interrogations and Rites of Passage

Twilight Sparkle sat at her desk in the Golden Oaks Library. Bags hung under her bloodshot eyes as she scanned the book before her, other dusty and leather bound tomes and volumes sitting in a large stack next to her. An empty cup of coffee rested by her hoof, long since emptied, refilled, and emptied again throughout the course of the night.

Unbeknownst to the unicorn, the sun had begun its rise, streams of sunlight peeking through the window. The rays of light gently touched her face, rousing Twilight from her study.

“What? Morning already?” Twilight looked to the nearby window, yawning lazily. “Was I really up all night?”

“Yes. Yes you were.” Spike replied groggily, slowly plodding down the staircase. “And no, there aren't anymore books on pegasi history, myths or folklore.”

Twilight frowned as Spike answered her next question. “Darn.”

The dragon seated himself next to the unicorn as she poured over the books in front her once more. “I dunno Twilight, I think you should just-” Spike stopped speaking abruptly, putting a clawed hand to his chest, as curls of smoke escaped from his mouth. A second later the center of the library was engulfed in a flash of green flame.

Twilight ducked as a jet of green flame flared overhead. A neatly rolled letter landed on her desk.

“Just wait for Celestia to reply to my letter?” Twilight grinned at the dragon, who simply stuck his tongue out in reply.

The letter levitated in the air in front of Twilight as she unfurled the parchment. Her eyes flitted from left to right, quickly absorbing Celestia's words.

Twilight quickly re-rolled the letter, stowing it away in her saddle bag. She frowned, her mind deep in thought.

Spike looked on at the unicorn. “Twilight? What is it?”

Twilight stood up from her seat, quickly levitating her saddlebags upon herself. “Come on Spike. We need to find Rainbow Dash and Soarin'.”


Soarin' trotted down the main cobblestone road of Ponyville alongside Spitfire and Rainbow Dash, enjoying the late morning sun. Or, at least he tried to appear like he enjoyed it. Unlike his outward facade, inwardly Soarin' was troubled, his thoughts still preoccupied with his dream from last night.

Astride from Spitfire, Rainbow was having a harder time concealing her worry. A slight frown marked her features, her eyes uncharacteristically staring off unfocused.

Spitfire noted the awkward silence amongst the three of them. The lack of Soarin's immediate report from the previous night's patrol was odd. A quick glance at the two pegasi to either side of her confirmed her suspicions. Rainbow was clearly bothered, and Spitfire could read Soarin' like a book.

Inwardly the Wonderbolt Captain sighed. It's like pulling teeth with these two.

“What's the report from the patrols last night?” Spitfire asked abruptly.

Soarin' jumped inwardly, not entirely prepared for the question. “No reports from the latest shift Captain.” He replied quickly, trying not to seem distracted. “Seems like all was quiet last night.”

Spitfire frowned. “I don't like it. It's too easy. These guys come to Ponyville, and then disappear without a trace? Archon's spit.” Spitfire stamped her hoof, cursing.

“What if they got past the patrols?” Rainbow Dash asked timidly.

“It's... possible...” Soarin' said slowly. "In which case we're going to have a harder time figuring out where exactly they were going, though the Everfree is probably still our best bet. Still not a lot to go on with a forest that huge though.

“Soarin's right.” Spitfire added. “While my gut says they're somewhere in the Everfree, we wouldn't be doing ourselves any good by running in their without any kind of plan. We'll have to wait until after the show to use the full squad to make a proper search.”

Rainbow Dash groaned. “I don't like it. The show's not over until this afternoon. It's too much time.”

“I can understand your concern Rainbow, but the rest of the 'Bolts are already recovering from patrol last night, or prepping for the show. I need everypegasi at one-hundred percent and a green light from my commander before we move.” Spitfire replied.

“At the very least we can question Swift Jet to see what he knows.” Soarin' quickly said, sending Dash a pointed look. She simply nodded in return, unsaid words passing between them.

Spitfire nodded, guiding the two other pegasi to the left towards the hospital. “Good idea.” And a good time to get these two to open up about what's got their feathers' in a bind. She added mentally.


Scootaloo slumped awkwardly in the hospital room chair as she slept. At the other end of the room sat her mother, silent but awake, watching over her husband.

The door to the room quietly squeaked open.

Rainbow Dash peeked her head in, quickly noting the slumbering Scootaloo and Swift Jet. She made a move to whisper a question behind her, but Midnight Blossom silently gestured to her. “It's okay, you can come in.” She said softly.

Rainbow Dash, Soarin' and Spitfire filed into the room, circling around the foot of Swift Jet's bed.

“Good morning.”

“Morning Mrs. Blossom. How's Swift Jet holding up?” Rainbow asked.

“He's still sleeping. The doctors said that he'd be out for several days because of his wounds, but they healed overnight! They're calling it a medical miracle!” Midnight Blossom said, looking slightly more worried than grateful.

“Imagine that.” Soarin' said flatly.

Midnight Blossom turned back to her husband. “The doctors said he should wake normally now.”

“Good.” Spitfire said curtly, drawing a curious glance from Midnight.

“Why? What do you ne-”

A yawn interrupted Midnight Blossom's question.

Scootaloo pushed herself up in her seat awkwardly, stretching lazily. Bed head wrecked her mane and tail, and several joints popped as she continued to wake. She blinked several times, a lost look on her face as she stared about the room, still gathering her bearings.

Rainbow Dash grinned. “Hey Scoots. Morning.”

“Hey Rainb-” Scootaloo started off groggily, before her eyes went wide. “RAINBOW DAS-” She exclaimed, trying to leap from her seat in excitement, only to trip over her tail and plummet to the floor.

“Ugh. Ow.”

“Ooo.” Rainbow Dash cringed.

Soarin' and Spitfire each hid a smirk. “Good thing we're in a hospital eh Scootaloo?” Soarin' poked playfully.

“Soarin'? Spitfire?” Scootaloo peeked through her disheveled mane from the floor. Quickly she scrambled to her hooves. “Hey guys, how uh, how are you doing?” She replied casually.

Rainbow laughed at her friend's poor recovery.

“Scootaloo are you alright?” Midnight Blossom asked. “Do you need to see the nurse?”

“Mom, I'm fine, no biggie.” Scootaloo downplayed quickly. “I've had worse flying, believe me.” The young pegasus puffed out her chest slightly, risking a sidelong glance at the Wonderbolts.

“We're here to see how your Dad was doing Scootaloo.” Spitfire answered.

“Yeah the doctors were saying he's healing really fast.” Scootaloo said proudly. “Which means he should be-”

Another yawn broke across the room. Only this time it wasn't Scootaloo.

Swift Jet looked up lazily from his bed to all the ponies around him. “Morning everypony.”

“DAD!” Scootaloo rushed to her father's side.

“Hey Scoots.” Swift Jet replied, smiling weakly.

“Swift?” Midnight placed her hoof to her husband's.

“I'm okay Midnight. Actually...” Swift Jet quickly sat up in his bed. He stretched out his forelegs, joints popping and cracking. “I haven't felt this good in years!”

Soarin', Dash and Spitfire all shared an uneasy look.

“Good thing too.” Scootaloo beamed a smile. “I don't have to worry about hurting you.”

“Hurting me? What are yo-”

Scootaloo lunged toward her father, pulling him into a tight hug. Her shoulders began to shake slightly.

“Whoa, whoa, hey there.” Swift Jet said softly, holding his daughter. “Every thing's okay. I'm fine. No need to get upset.”

Slowly Scootaloo released Swift Jet. “I-I know.” She mumbled, rubbing her reddened eyes. “I was... I was scared.”

Swift Jet simply smiled. “Well, you won't have to worry about that anymore.”

Midnight Blossom smiled tenderly at her husband and daughter, all while holding Swift Jet's hoof.

“Glad to see you're feeling well Mr. Jet.” Rainbow announced.

Swift Jet turned to the three pegasi at the base of his bed. For a moment he seemed perplexed by the their presence, but it soon faded, replaced by a smile. “Thanks to you three, that's for sure.”

“All part of the job sir.” Soarin' quipped.

“Well all the same, I thank you.” Swift Jet looked on between Soarin' and Dash, then finally to Spitfire.

Spitfire nodded curtly, regarding Swift Jet intently.

The bedridden stallion avoided her gaze.

Suddenly his stomach rumbled.

“Was that your stomach?” Scootaloo eyed curiously.

“Guess being in a hospital unconscious will do that to ya!” Swift Jet replied, laughing. “I've got an idea. Why don't you and Mom go to the market and get us all some lunch? Definitely better than that hospital stuff that they have here.”

“I can vouch for that.” Rainbow Dash raised a hoof.

Scootaloo inched closer to her father. “But, Dad...”

“You only just awoke dear.” Midnight added, rubbing her hoof against his.

“You'll need your energy to make a full recovery, no matter how good you feel now.” Spitfire said impassively. “Believe me, I've spent my fair share recovering from training accidents.”

Swift Jet looked up at Spitfire. The mare still looked on at the stallion. Beside her, Rainbow Dash and Soarin' were oddly silent. “Well, you can't argue with a professional, now can you? Go on Scoots, go with your mother. I'm in good hooves here. Nothing's gonna happen.”

Scootaloo looked from her father to her friends. Rainbow looked to the floor, while Spitfire and Soarin' remained impassive. She opened her mouth to speak, but quickly closed it. She clenched her jaw, continuing to stare down the trio, but they remained silent.

Midnight Blossom reluctantly moved from her husband's side. “Come along Scootaloo, shopping will go faster if you help me.”

Scootaloo slowly walked toward the door with her mother, staring daggers over her shoulder.

The door slowly closed with a click.

“I feel dirtier than a Diamond Dog.” Rainbow remarked sourly.

“Sounds about right.” Soarin' commented.

“I don't like it either, but its for the best.” Spitfire replied with a sigh.

“I agree.”

The trio turned to Swift Jet. “Scootaloo and Midnight Blossom can't know anything about what happened back at The Trough and Cider.”

“Then you know what we're here for.” Spitfire guessed.

Swift Jet turned to Rainbow Dash with a puzzled expression.

“She knows everything.” Dash affirmed. “And Soarin' is the other Legacy Bearer.”

“I see.” Swift Jet replied softly, his eyes downcast for a few moments. His eyes then perked up, looking to Soarin' intently. “I don't know how I missed it before, but I can feel your presence Soarin'. It really is something, this connection.” The pegasus remarked with growing excitement, looking from Soarin' to Rainbow Dash.

“Err, yeah, same here...” Soarin' cringed slightly.

“In fact,” Swift Jet continued to ramble, gesturing to the two other Bearers, “you both seem to have a particularly strong bond, almost as if-”

“Weren't we here for something else?” Soarin' interjected flatly, his wings fidgeting slightly.

Dash chuckled lightly.

Swift Jet seemed slightly disappointed, but his eyes perked up once more. “Well, regardless, this makes things much easier! Now that the three of us are together we need to-”

“Hold up.” Spitfire raised her hoof, cutting the stallion off. “We're in no position to do anything just yet. First things first, you need to fill us in on what you know so we can stop these rogue pegasi.”

“Fair enough.” Swift replied evenly, crossing his hooves. “But as I said before, my wife and daughter cannot be involved.”

Rainbow frowned. “That may be hard to do. Scootaloo already knows about Soarin' and I, and all the doomsday stuff.”

“But not about me?”

Rainbow shook her head. “No. I actually thought she was the third pegasus for a while, up until you showed up yesterday.”

Swift Jet nodded. “Good. Let's keep it that way.”

“It won't be hard for her to figure out. She's a smart mare, and you saw how she looked at us just a second ago.” Soarin' countered.

Spitfire shook her head. “We're getting sidetracked. It might be impossible to keep your daughter or wife from finding out, but at the very least they'll be out of harms way.”

Swift Jet was quiet, eyes downcast once more. “Very well.” He looked up to the trio. “To answer your question, I was investigating the Tempest Guard. I knew they were up to something-”

“Wait. The what?” Rainbow asked curiously.

“They're ones that you fought las-” Swift Jet suddenly stopped talking, looking confused. “How can you both not know? They're the ones we have to stop!”

“The Tempest Guard were the Last Archon's personal body guard.” Soarin replied slowly, deep in thought. He was silent for a moment before speaking again. “But that doesn't make any sense. The Tempest Guard went with the Last Archon to the Valley of the Stars, or so the legends say. If anything, they were heroes alongside the Legacy Guard. But they disappeared millenia ago.”

“More of those stories...” Spitfire rolled her eyes.

Soarin' ignored her, instead looking sharply at Swift Jet. “How can you be sure those pegasi were the Tempest Guard?”

“Because Ice Wing told me!”

Rainbow Dash stepped forward. “Ice Wing's ghost told you that? To stop these guys?”

Swift Jet nodded.

“Well that's a lot more specific than anything I got.” Rainbow huffed.

“Did Ice Wing say why?” Soarin' asked.

Swift Jet looked away from the other pegasi, his ears drooping slightly “No. I don't know exactly what the Tempest Guard is doing, only that their actions will bring the 'storms and a threat this land has not seen in millenia.'” The stallion quoted darkly.

“That sounds a little more familiar.” Dash added.

Spitfire frowned. “Right now stuff like that isn't as important. I need tactical info. What are their numbers? What are their capabilities? Where are they headed? Concrete information the Wonderbolts can work with.”

“From what I could tell, there were around twenty, maybe twenty five all together. Kinda hard to recall when you're being shot at.” The stallion remarked sarcastically. “As far as what they can do, you should already know that. Those clasps are the source of their power. I couldn't tell you where they were headed though. I didn't get a chance to listen in.”

“Going in by yourself like that was crazy, you know that right?” Rainbow said pointedly. “Normally I don't have a problem with crazy, but you can't just throw your life away like that. Scoots barely kept it together after you got hurt.”

“Why do you think I'm doing this?!” Swift Jet exclaimed, his eyes narrowing on Dash. “There was no time to find you two, and I wasn't about to wait for all of Tartarus to break loose. I refuse let my daughter grow up in a world like that.”

Rainbow was taken aback, shirking away from Swift Jet. She opened and closed her mouth several times, but ultimately said nothing.

“Let's try not to lose focus here.” Soarin' said evenly.

Swift Jet sighed. “That's all the information I have.”

“Looks like the Everfree is still our target then.” Spitfire said, running a hoof through her mane. “I only wish we had more information; Command doesn't like authorizing an op on so little info.”

“I might be able to help with that.”

Four sets of eyes turned to the door.

Twilight Sparkle trotted briskly into the room, her saddlebags upon her back. Bags still hung from her eyes and her mane was still somewhat frizzy, but she seemed to pay it no mind.

“It took me a while to find you all. I should have known this is where you'd come first.” Twilight levitated several scrolls from her bags.

“Hey Twilight.” Rainbow greeted the unicorn. “You okay? You look kinda tired.”

Twilight glanced at her mane and tail. “Oh, just up all night studying. Like I said before, I was going to look into all these stories and myths about the pegasi. Especially after what happened last night.”

It was only then that Twilight noticed Swift Jet staring at her. “You're awake?!” The unicorn exclaimed, dropping her scrolls in surprise. “I mean how are you? I mean- that was probably a silly question. You're probably not feeling well at all after last night. How could you? Foreign magical attacks like that should have left you out for days! Not too mention the side effects.” Twilight gasped. “Not that I'm saying you should be feeling bad! Of course I want you to feel better and-”

“Actually I'm feeling quite well Ms. Sparkle.” Swift Jet smiled bemusedly. “Better than I have in years.”

“What?!” Twilight sputtered. “But that's imposs-”

“Uh, Twi?” Rainbow sided up next to her friend, noting the impatient look the two military pegasi leveled at her friend. “You said you had some important information?”

“Oh um, yes. Yes I do.”

The unicorn levitated one of the scrolls from the floor, suspended in the air for all to see. “This is a letter from Princess Celestia. I wrote to her detailing the events from last night.”

Spitfire and Soarin' frowned at the mention of the Equestrian ruler, but said nothing.

“Uh, you did?” Rainbow Dash said apprehensively, eying the scroll with a measure of worry. “What exactly did you tell her?”

Twilight unfurled the scroll. “Well, I mentioned my interest in all this pegasi mythology. And everything that happened at The Trough and Cider of course. I made especially sure to mention those pegasi and the clasps they wore. I couldn't turn anything up about them, but the Princess might know.”

“Oh.”

Rainbow bit her lip. Was now the time to involve Celestia? Things had certainly taken a much more serious turn, she recognized that much. But if Princess Celestia knew enough, she might insist on all of Rainbow's friends taking action. Rainbow and the rest of Element Bearers had dealt with threats before, but this time there seemed to be a real danger. If the attack from the previous night and the hazy visions and dreams of impending doom were anything to go by, then she didn't want Twilight or any of her other friends involved. Maybe Celestia doesn't know anything... Rainbow hoped.

Twilight quickly glanced over the letter, reading aloud. “Unfortunately, the Princess says that she hasn't heard of anything like this before. The only possible reason that she can think of is the current political climate between Cloudsdale and Canterlot, and that these pegasi are some kind separatist terrorist organization.”

Swift Jet leaned toward Twilight. “Actually they're-”

“That's perfectly possible.” Soarin' said sternly, shaking his head subtly at Swift Jet. The black pegasus closed his mouth.

“Though she admits that this is a bit of a stretch, since these pegasi attacked an earth pony town, which would hold little significance between herself and the Cloudsdale Senate. As far as these magical clasps go, she says there are many ancient artifacts in Equestria, though she has never heard of magic so specific to pegasi.” Twilight rolled up the scroll.

“I also asked the Princess about the Archons and something obscure mentioned in one of my books called the Legacy Stream.”

All four pegasi visibly perked up at Twilight's words.

“Celestia said that she met one Archon briefly, just after the defeat of Discord. They, being the Council of Archons, seemed to be fairly secretive. By the time the pegasi migrated to Equestria, the Council of Archons had disappeared. At least that's what Commander Hurricane told her.”

“And the Legacy Stream?” Swift Jet spoke up.

Twilight shrugged. “Just that it was supposed to be some type of pegasi magic that the Council of Archons tended to and that all pegasi were connected to it. My books didn't have much on it; only that it was extremely powerful. Princess Celestia doesn't even know if it actually existed or not. And I'm inclined to agree. I mean, it doesn't even make sense, really. The pegasus physiology has no conduit for something-”

“Pegasi can't use magic, yeah, yeah we get it.” Spitfire interrupted Twilight. “I appreciate the history lesson Ms. Sparkle, but it seems messaging the Princess was a waste of time.”

Twilight narrowed her gaze at the Wonderbolt. “These pegasi attacked Ponyville. Celestia needed to know.”

Soarin' stepped next to Spitfire. “Exactly. These are pegasi. We'll be the ones to bring them in.”

Several tense seconds passed, neither Twilight, nor the Wonderbolts breaking the silent standoff.

Rainbow quickly slid between Twilight and the Wonderbolts. “Hang on everypony, just cool your wings, and er, horn. We're all on the same team here.”

Twilight continued to glare at the two Wonderbolts.

Spitfire simply shrugged. “Whatever you say Rainbow.”

“I think I'm going to go Rainbow.” Twilight gathered her things, placing her scrolls into her saddlebags. She briskly made her way to the door.

“O-okay. We'll see you at the air show?”

Twilight stopped. “Yes, we'll all be there. Mr. Swift Jet, I hope you're feeling better.”

Twilight exited the room, leaving the two Wonderbolts with a parting stare.

“Was that really necessary?”

Spitfire and Soarin' turned to Rainbow Dash. She fixed the two with an annoyed glare.

“Well, I'd be lying if your friend's constant mutterings about 'magic-less pegasi' didn't get a little annoying.” Spitfire replied, lazily leaning against the wall. “More importantly, I don't really see why she had to contact Celestia. This is Cloudsdale business.”

“This is an Earth Pony town, nowhere near Cloudsdale.”

“Is that what you're on about?” Swift Jet exclaimed aloud. He crossed his forelegs, looking on at the Wonderbolts. “I moved away from Cloudsdale to get away from this kind of petty nonsense. Ms. Dash is right. The Princess is powerful, and she deserves to know. That, and we don't know exactly what we're up against.”

“Fair enough.” Soarin' spoke up before Spitfire could say anything. “I don't have a problem with keeping the Princess in the loop. But I think it's best for everypegasi, and everypony, if Celestia lets the Wonderbolts deal with this.” Soarin' glanced at Spitfire. “Sound about right?”

“Fine with me.” Spitfire crossed here forelegs. “Just as long as we don't have any Canterlot Guards showing up and trying to muscle their way in.” She snorted. “We've had a few ops go real bad because those guys showed up outta nowhere.”

I guess that's as good as its going to get. Rainbow thought glumly. “Well, I can't really speak for the Princess, but I know she trusts my friends and I.”

“I guess that wraps that bit up then.” Spitfire stated, running her hoof through her mane once more. “So what's got you two all twisted up this morning?”

Soarin' and Rainbow's faces both went flat.

“Uh...” Rainbow mumbled, looking away from Spitfire's persistent stare.

“I'm not sure exactly what you mean Captain...”

Spitfire rolled her eyes. “We're not playing this game again. Seriously. What's up? I need to know if something's wrong, besides all the other crap that we're dealing with right now.” Spitfire stood before Soarin' and Dash, her gaze hovering between both waffling pegasi. “I need you both at one-hundred percent. Spill it.”

“Ah, um, just a nightmare that's all.” Soarin' half lied.

Rainbow looked slightly surprised for a moment, glancing at Soarin'. “Yeah same here. It was about the Twin Storms. I think we both had it since we're the Legacy Bearers or something.”

Swift Jet moved to speak again, but a pointed look from Soarin' left him silent.

“I... guess that makes sense.” Spitfire put a hoof to her chin. “Anything we need to know?”

“No. Just another warning I think.”

“Yeah.” Soarin' agreed. “Just more impending doom and all.” He shrugged. “Sorry we didn't mention it sooner, kinda figured you were sick of all the stories and stuff.”

“Oh. Well, that's okay.” Spitfire relaxed. “I just wanted to make sure you two were still flying straight.”

Rainbow Dash grinned. “No worries Cap'n Spitfire! Soarin' and I are one-hundred and twenty percent!”

Soarin' smiled. “What she means is, we're good Spits.”

“Good to hear. Because right now, Soarin' and I need to check-”

The door opened abruptly.

Scootaloo and her mother strode into the room, bags of groceries hanging from their sides.

“Hey there Scoota-” Rainbow started to speak.

Scootaloo silently made a beeline to the seat next to her father, without even a glance at the three other pegasi.

Dash's mouth hung open for a moment, before quickly snapping it shut. Surprise and shame flashed across her face, as she shuffled awkwardly in place, her eyes cast to the floor.

“Well it looks like I bought too much food again.” Midnight peeked into her groceries. “Would you all like to stay for lunch?”

Scootaloo stared icily at her oblivious mother.

“Actually, we were about to leave.” Spitfire said, starting to make her way to the door. “I was just saying that we need to check on the preparations for the show.” She looked toward Swift Jet. “We can talk more after the show.”

The stallion nodded.

Soarin' took a step toward the door. “You coming Rainbow?”

Rainbow looked surprised at Soarin' for a moment, slowly processing the stallion's words. She looked cautiously over at Scootaloo. Scootaloo ignored her.

Rainbow let out a sigh, turning toward the door. “Yeah.”

Spitfire exited the room, followed by Soarin'. He left Rainbow with a sympathetic smile.

Rainbow stopped in the doorway. She turned once more to Scootaloo, trying to smile. “We'll see you at the air show, okay Scoots?”

Scootaloo had her back to Rainbow. She acted as if she hadn't heard anything.

Dash tried to hold her smile, but it fell.

“Don't worry Rainbow, I don't think we'll have a problem making it.” Swift Jet answered happily. “Even if I have to sneak outta here.”

Rainbow smiled weakly at Swift Jet. She took a final look at Scootaloo. The younger pegasus remained impassive. Rainbow hung her head slightly, slowly leaving the hospital room.


Windswept took a moment to rest, leaning against a downed tree. He and the Tempest Guard had marched through the night, slowly plodding away through the massive Everfree Forest. How long they had been traveling, Windswept wasn't sure. He surveyed the forest before him, but it helped little. A dim light had peered through the canopy above some time ago, but the forest brightened only slightly. Instead of darkness, the Everfree glowed with an eerie calm from the light, still shrouded in the chilly fog that clung to the forest floor. He was sure that it was the next day. But then again, the passage of time seemed to matter little to the Forest.

“No time to rest now Windswept.”

Windswept looked up. Silver Wings stood at the top a hill, looking back down on his fatigued friend. An eager smile showed from just under his hood.

Windswept sighed. Pushing himself off from the dead tree, he slowly began to climb the hill. “Silver, we've been traveling for hours... just when are we going to get-”

Windswept stopped at the top of the hill. There were no trees before him, instead a massive expanse opened up, ringed by the forest. A cloudy overcast filled the area, blocking the light. Misty trenches cut through the earth, isolating the land from the rest of the Forest. The fog seemed to billow from this single point in the forest, ominously flowing outward. A massive shadow hung behind the veil, towering upward.

Slowly, the fog began to shift.

The ruins of the Castle of the Two Sisters emerged. It's two decrepit towers stood starkly against the mist, hinting at ruins below. As the fog continued to part, the rest of the ruins appeared. The keep walls still stood, despite the telltale sign of battle that marked them. The outer wall were far worse, entire sections breached and left to rubble. Growth and vegetation overran the entire castle, the empty structure long since claimed by the forest.

There were no howls of timber wolves, nor screeches of a cockatrice, no sound at all. There was only a deathly silence.

“We have arrived.” Silver said.

The rest of the Tempest Guard filled in around Silver and Windswept, gawking at the castle before them.

“This... this is where the Archon is? In the Castle of the Twin Sisters?” Windswept said, turning to Silver. “How is that even possible?”

“Another misconception.” Silver replied.

One of the elder Tempest Guards stepped forward. “Ah, now I see why you brought us her Silver.”

“Care to explain? Because I'm not 'seeing' how the Archon has been interred in Celestia and Luna's castle even when they still ruled from here.”

The elder guard chuckled. “That is because the Lord Archon was here even before those dictators.” The stallion gestured with his hoof to the castle. “Though it is now known as the Castle of the Two Sisters, it predates the Royals. This is Black Mist Prison. The Skythan Empire built it to keep prisoners and captives of war as far away as possible.”

“Then the Archon has been here all this time? You say imprisoned, is he truly alive?”

Silver scowled at Windswept. “You cannot kill an Archon. Only subdue.” He looked on wistfully at the castle. “This is where Commander Hurricane brought our Master. The traitor then 'gifted' the prison to Celestia and Luna to seal his betrayal.”

“Then-”

Silver raised a hoof. “No more questions. It will be better if-”

“You show me. Yeah, got it.”

Silver smiled, then took to the air. “Everpegasi, we are very near now. Our Master awaits us in the castle.”

A flurry of wings responded. The Tempest Guard joined their leader, flying to the isolated castle.

Windswept made way to land next to Silver. He was still a fair distance from the group when his wings suddenly began to tire. He could feel them rapidly become weaker. What is going on? Windswept thought in a panic. He was losing altitude even as he flapped his wings harder. It was as if the air refused to catch within his wings. Windswept prepped for an awkward landing, but he was not in the clear yet. A split second before he landed his head exploded in pain, like a vice had suddenly been thrown upon it. “Ungh.” He groaned aloud. He tripped over his hooves, collapsing on the ground next to Silver.

“Windswept, are you all right?” Silver said without any real interest, instead looking on at the crumbling gatehouse.

Windswept slowly rose to his hooves. He put a hoof to his head, eyes clenched shut. Whispers came in echoes again, unintelligible words coming from the castle. His head throbbed, pounding like it was being assaulted in waves.

“It's this headache...” Windswept finally replied tersely, still holding his head. “And my wings... they weren't working.”

“Here. Put this on. I believe you've earned it.”

Windswept opened his eyes. In Silver's hoof was one of the Tempest Guards' jet black-amethyst clasps. It was identical to Silver's, with lightning bolt wings facing outward, and hooking together at the center.

Windswept stared at the clasp for a moment, then to Silver. “What-”

“Just put it on.”

Windswept did as he was told. As soon as he affixed the clasp together his headache ceased. No longer did his wings feel weak, and the whispers were silent.

Windswept stared dumbly down at the clasp, his mouth agape. “What did it do?”

Silver began to walk, passing the castle gate into the court yard. “I was wondering how far you'd make it in the forest before you felt the affects of the Archon's seeping magic.” He shot his friend a congratulatory smile. “You made it farther than I expected.”

Windswept scowled. “This would've been a lot easier if you just gave it to me earlier.”

“Power like this is not given freely. As I said before, it must be earned. Think of your journey through the forest as a rite of passage.”

That's it then. I really am one of the Tempest Guard. Windswept thought. He glanced down at the clasp again.

“So these aren't just weapons then.” Windswept trotted alongside Silver.

“Not just, no. They protect us from the Archon's latent powers and connect us to him.”

Windswept took a moment to focus on the clasp. He no longer felt the headaches; instead there was a subtle hum he could feel from it, like it had become a conduit for the power that radiated around him. The clasp also seemed to link him to the other Guards, each pegasi bearing a slightly different hum. This hum seemed to be connected to a distinct haze of colored light, that wafted about each Guard's chest.

“Captain, we're getting closer. I can feel it!” One of the female Guards exclaimed. The excitement in her voice was unmistakable.

Silver Wings grinned. “I feel it as well. We'll make our way into the castle.”

Windswept took a step forward to follow the rest of the Tempest Guard, but he immediately froze.

Just beside the large double doors to the keep stood the distinct outline of a pegasus. It's features were vague and partially obscured by the fog, but it appeared to be wearing armor of some kind. It shifted with the fog, in and out of focus.

However, this was not what frightened Windswept the most.

The Tempest Guard filed into the castle. None of the pegasi gave any indication they had seen anything. The armored specter simply watched as each pegasi came within a hoof step, and passed by.

A set of hoof-steps stopped next to Windswept. “Are you alright Windswept? You look like you've seen a ghost.”

Windswept turned. The elder Guard from earlier fixed him with a curious look. “I uh, I'm not sure what you're...”

“Wouldn't trust your eyes too much around here. The fog can play tricks on you.”

“R-right.”

“My name is Dominus by the way. Sorry I didn't get a chance to introduce myself earlier, especially with what happened back at The Trough and Cider. I'm second in command of the Tempest Guard.”

“Uh, yeah. Nice to meet you,” Windswept said shakily.

“Come. There is no time to delay. Glory awaits us.”

Windswept nodded, turning to the castle entrance once more.

The ghost was gone.

Windswept shivered. The fog just cleared. Not a ghost. He corrected himself. Just fog.

Taking a deep breath, he entered the castle.


Windswept walked into the main hall of the castle-prison. His hoof-steps echoed amidst the silence with the rest of the Tempest Guard. He strained to gather his surroundings, but his eyes had not yet adjusted to the sudden darkness. Solid stone was beneath his hooves and he could only surmise that the sudden darkness meant that the Tempest Guard was in some kind of narrow hallway. None spoke; the shuffling of hooves and cloaks a tacit acknowledgment that the guard was moving forward. Slowly, Windswept's sight began to return, aided in part by the gentle glow of light that peered through the stone doorway ahead.

Windswept and the Tempest Guard emerged into the main hall of the castle-prison.

Smooth stone stretched across the entire floor, complimented by a ragged and torn rug that ran the length of the hall. Two rows of towering stone columns flanked the tattered rug, reaching up into the rafters. Wrought iron braziers stood at the base of the columns and torn tapestries depicting the Two Sisters hung from the stone walls. Below them broken statues of various historical unicorns lined the walls, partially hidden by the shadows. A sickly misty light streamed into the hall from a gaping hole in the upper corner of the ceiling, providing little illumination.

At the very center stood the two Alicorn Sisters. Unlike their unicorn kin, these statues seemed freshly hewn, seemingly untouched by the elements. Both statues stood imposingly on their hind legs with wings outstretched. The hazy light fell behind the Sisters, shrouding their faces and caging onlookers in their shadow as they were judged by the statues' cold glares.

The Guard stopped, forming a semicircle around the two statues.

“Celestia and Luna.” Silver Wings spoke up, his gaze meeting the stony visage of the Alicorns above him. His voice turned to a sneer, turning to the rest of the guard. “I want you all to understand this.” Silver gestured violently at the statues behind him. “This is the true legacy of the vaunted Commander Hurricane.”

Silver didn't have to say another word. Glowers and hate filled eyes of the Tempest Guard glared on at the statues of Celestia and Luna. The hate was tangible, infectious, righteous even. Windswept stood among them, bathing in the collective call for vengeance that pulsed between his brothers and sisters. He could feel the hum of the Tempest Guard as one, the adrenaline that rushed through him as he felt his power join with the others. He scowled at the deadened and stony eyes of the would be rulers.

Silver's eyes lit up excitedly. Abruptly he turned around to face the towering statues behind him once more. “I defy you. The Tempest Guard defies you. Your oppression ends today.”

Without another word Silver and the rest of the Guard filed past the statues.

Windswept remained before the statues. His scowl deepened as he continued to stare at Celestia and Luna.

All Windswept had learned in the past few days came rushing back. For thousands of years, these two had secretly upheld Hurricane's traitorous actions. And all my life, I've let myself be a pawn, letting them manipulate me, holding Cloudsdale back. Windswept's jaw clenched. He could feel a righteous fury building up within him. Anger at his own shame. Such was his hate that he didn't notice the subtle glow around his clasp slowly beginning to build.

These two were the enemy to the the Last Archon. He thought, his anger visibly distorting his features. Then they are mine also!

Without thinking, Windswept let loose a snarl, leaping into the air. Brandishing his wings on instinct, he hovered at eye level before the statues of Celestia and Luna. The emblem of the Tempest Guard flared around his chest. Magical power immediately flowed to his wings. He could feel the sudden focus and clarity in his mind, all of his hate directed at the two statues before him. They stared back, challenging him; taunting him.

Primal power took over. Windswept could feel the magic of the emblem reach its peak. In one swift motion he spun about in place, and gave a mighty flap of his wings before the statues, releasing the power they held.

The hall of the castle prison flashed, followed the sudden rumble of thunder. Windswept collapsed the the floor in surprise, suddenly very tired.

The rest of the Tempest Guard turned about in surprise. One of the guards made to speak, but the sound of scraping stone silenced him. The crashing sound of a two massive stones echoed through the hall.

All eyes, including Windswept's, turned to the statue of the Two Sisters.

But where there had once been the deadened stare of Celestia and Luna, there was only the smooth cut just below the statues' jaw. Light peered past the beheaded rulers, bathing the shocked Windswept in a warm light. Before him lay the broken heads of Celestia and Luna, joining the rest of their stony kin in the hall.

Windswept stared between the broken statues and the shocked looks from the rest of the Tempest Guard. He then glanced down at the simmering glow of the lightning wings upon his chest. Slowly his disbelief turned to elation. Incredible. He thought, flourishing his wings about. Sparks flew from them, small currents of power still running through his wings.

A single set of hooves echoed next to Windswept, stopping next to him. Silver Wings wore an elated smirk upon his face, surveying Windswept's actions. “Aptly put my friend.” He said, draping a wing around his comrade. “You've harnessed the full power of a Tempest Guard.”

Windswept's grin only grew wider. “It's amazing!”

“And it only gets better.” Silver added, leading Windswept to the rest of the Guard. “Soon we will be unstoppable.”

The two rejoined the rest of the Guard, Windswept receiving several congratulations from other members of the Order.

“Everypegasi, follow me.” Silver announced. “The Archon is likely to reside within the dungeons.”

The rest of the Tempest Guard nodded in ascent, slowly filing down a dank and stony circular staircase in the back corner of the hall.

Windswept followed the rest of the Tempest Guard to the spiral stairway, but stopped just short of the doorway. He frowned. He could feel the subtle hum of the Tempest Guard coming from his lightning clasp, but the rest of the Guard had already disappeared. This hum was distant and distorted, almost like an echo. And instead of calling from the rest of the Guard below, it beckoned to him from the center of the hall. He shivered involuntarily, trying to ward off the feeling that he was being watched.

With some hesitation, Windswept turned around.

Standing within the light at the base of the Two Sisters was the foggy haze of a pegasi.

Windswept blinked. Fog. That's f-fog. Again. Inside the castle. R-right. He mentally stuttered, trying to deny the blatant image before him.

The haze shifted and faded. The features of the armored being became clearer, sharper. No longer a hazy outline, the clear manifestation of a spectral pegasus stallion stood within the light. He wore what appeared to be ancient armor, complete with full helm and bladed hooves. Upon his chest was a clasp, with wings made of lightning.

The ghost stood still, looking slowly between the remains of Celestia and Luna.

Windswept began to sweat. Terror filled him. He desperately wished to run, unsure of the spirit's actions. But fear of alerting the spirit compelled him to be still, eyes peeled to the ghost.

The ghost turned to the Tempest Guard.

Windswept nearly screamed, half expecting to be attacked by a curse. But he gave pause.

The ancient pegasus looked at him. There was no evil glint in his eyes, no intent to attack Windswept. Empty eyes stared back at him, filled with only a tired and forlorn sadness.

W-what? Windswept dared to think. The echoing hum continued, but it was more intense as the sorrowful pegasus continued to look at him. He could feel it connect with his clasp, intense emotions of mourning and regret filling him.

“Windswept?”

His name echoed through the spiral staircase behind him. Windswept whirled around.

“Windswept?”

Again he heard his name. Caught in the moment, Windswept realized he no longer felt the hum within his clasp. He twisted his head around to the center of the hall.

The ghost was gone once more.

“Windswept, where are you?”

Windswept gaped at the ring of light. Forget it. Leave! He yelled at himself.

Wasting no time, the Tempest Guard ran down the staircase and into the depths of the prison-castle.

Ch. 16: Airshows and Tomb Raiders

View Online

Legacy of the Pegasi:

Ch. 16: Air Shows and Tomb Raiders

Weather pegasi shuffled clouds to and fro above the Ponyville Skyfield Stadium. Working in teams, some of the pegasi worked on crafting a large ring that would function as the focal point for many of the Wonderbolts' stunts, as well as the grandstand for pegasi spectators. Work had begun early in the morning, and the ring was nearing completion, its diameter stretching nearly half the length of Ponyville itself. Other teams worked in junction with members of the Wonderbolts, to ensure the various obstacles, rings, barriers and other cloud stunt equipment were properly situated within the ring.

A short way below earth pony construction teams were putting the final touches on the wooden grandstands for the ground borne spectators. There were two sections of ascending seats, each facing one another from either side of the low lying cloud ring above. Both stretched the length of the grassy field, and almost seemed more of an addition to the town rather than a temporary structure, such was their size. Altogether the spectator complex was quite a sight to behold, easily able to hold the entire population of the small town.

It was a good thing too. Crowds were already milling about outside of the stadium, eagerly awaiting entrance to the show. Though primarily an earth pony town, all of Ponyville's respectable pegasi were in attendance, zipping about the skies above, others arriving in groups from Cloudsdale and Olympia.

Vendors from the market had set up well in advance, touting Wonderbolt memorabilia, others calling out the price of peanuts and popcorn against the buzz of the crowd.

The first Wonderbolt Airshow in Ponyville was shaping up to be quite the event.

High above the commotion below, Spitfire and Soarin' observed from the cloud podium.

Soarin' nodded his head. “Looks like everything's on track Spits.”

“Good,” she said, trotting to the back of the floating platform. “Because I think it's time to get a reply from headquarters.”

“A reply from headquarters?” Soarin' echoed, joining Spitfire.

“Last night I sent up a report about our situation,” Spitfire said, as she began to rummage through her saddlebags.

She pulled a sealed jar from her bags. The inside of the jar was a smokey gray and seemed to shift about slowly. Faint flashes came about from within every so many seconds, followed by a small rumble.

“How much did you tell them?” Soarin' asked, cringing slightly.

Spitfire began to pull at the clasps on top of the jar. “Everything you and Rainbow told me. We've got to give them as much info as possible if we're going to get the green light for this op.”

Soarin' sighed. “I know. It's just... this one is going to be hard to explain.”

Spitfire glanced at Soarin'. “You're telling me. I'm the one who had to make the report actually sound serious! Half of me expects them to think it was some kind of joke.”

Soarin' smirked. “Good thing you're a no-nonsense hard ass who never jokes around.”

Spitfire shot Soarin' an icy glare, though not without a sly tug at the corner of her mouth. Her wing abruptly shot out, swatting the stallion on the nose.

“Ack!” Soarin' landed on his haunches, rubbing his nose with his hoof.

Spitfire returned to working the clasps free from the jar, a sly smile on her face. “Ahem. I don't think we'll have to worry about it too much. Even if the Commander doesn't buy into all the story and legend stuff, he can't ignore those rogue pegasi. We'll bring them in either way.”

Soarin' watched for several seconds as Spitfire fiddled with the jar. Her hooves pulled at the clasps but they refused to release the lid from the jar. Steadily she became more and more frustrated.

Soarin' smiled smugly. “Need some stallion assistance?”

“Grrr-No!” Spitfire growled, resorting to pinning the jar between her hind hooves while using both forehooves to pull at the jar. The lid refused to budge.

“Grrr-HERE!” Spitfire kicked the jar toward Soarin' irritably. “You get the damn thing open. I'll get the clouds,” she said roughly, moving to scoop up small portions of clouds with her wings.

Soarin' smiled cheekily once more, taking the jar in his hooves. “There. Was that so hard?”

“Shut up.”

Soarin' laughed as he pried the four clasps loose from the lid. Immediately there was a hiss from the lid as the seal broke.

Spitfire walked up with several small bundles of cloud under her wings. Releasing them, she quickly compacted them together with her hooves, creating a rough sphere.

Soarin' raised the jar up to the cloud. The inside began to flash more violently in response and the jar visibly rumbled in his hooves.

“It's been a while since we've used one of these,” Soarin' said, regarding the smokey jar.

“I think the situation warrants it.”

Soarin' nodded.

Though it was commonly understood that the unicorns of Equestria wielded the most overt use of magic, the pegasi were not without their own brand of subtle powers. Largely unknown by the other races, trained pegasi could adapt their affinity to the aspects of nature around them to practical effect. One such use was harnessing the magic within a storm cloud, by attuning the lightning within to act as a beacon. Each attuned lightning cloud beacon held it's own magical signature, which matched that of another. The result was a communication device that operated over vast distances. This was just one of many marvels that the pegasi military employed, all without relying on the magic of unicorns.

Soarin quickly removed the lid of the jar, releasing the increasingly violent cloud. It immediately mixed with Spitfire's compacted cloud, changing it to a light gray. The echo of thunder could be heard from the center of the cloud, while tiny sparks of lightning danced around the outside.

Wordlessly Spitfire withdrew a small blade from her bags. She made a small cut just above her hoof, then did the same to Soarin'. Both pegasi then draped their forehooves over the cloud, letting a single drop of blood filter into the smokey mist.

Spitfire stepped forward, speaking into the cloud. “ARES SUMMIT, this is PHOENIX. Over.”

The cloud vibrated with her words, small traces of lightning sparking about. It settled for several seconds, before faintly rumbling once more. A curt voice echoed from the center of the cloud, lightning flashing about once more.

“Blood sample confirmed. Confirm pass phrase.”

“Call sign: PHOENIX. BREAK. FOXTROT-INDIA-ROMEO-ECHO.”

Soarin' stepped up alongside Spitfire, droning off his own information. “Call sign: NIXUS. BREAK. HOTEL-ALPHA-WHISKY-KILO. Over.”

Several seconds passed.

“Validation confirmed, connection secured. ARES SUMMIT reads you. How may I help you Captain Spitfire?”

“Connect me to Lieutenant Colonel Primus Pilus.”

“Yes Ma'am. One moment please.”

Silence sat between the two pegasi. Both anxiously awaited the Legacy Guard Commander.

The cloud suddenly shivered, sparks coming to life once more.

Both pegasi perked up immediately.

“This is Colonel Pilus,” said a terse voice from the cloud beacon. “How do you read Captain Spitfire?”

Spitfire snapped to attention. “Very well sir, thank you for asking.”

“And yourself Lieutenant Soarin'?”

“Likewise sir,” Soarin' replied.

“Good. What is your situation Captain? I did not expect you over this frequency.”

“Sir, I wanted to inquire about my repo-”

“I read it.”

Spitfire and Soarin' glanced uneasily between one another.

Colonel Pilus continued. “Simply put, I find much of it highly questionable. But disregarding that fact, you gave me no reason to believe that there was any immediate danger. At least not so much to use a special operations beacon.”

Spitfire grimaced slightly, but held her ground. “I understand sir. However, given what my report detailed, I wanted to follow up with your guidance.”

“You want an answer?” Colonel Pilus said sharply.

Both Soarin' and Spitfire cringed.

“I think the matter of the Twin Storms and a supposed doom explained only through broken prophecy and dreams is hardly worth putting faith in. Last time our forces mobilized immediately following the storms' appearance. But there was no enemy. No threat-”

“Sir, I have personally seen what is coming.” Soarin' said. “I've even been given these... powers, along with two other pegasi. I think it's somehow connected to the legends and stor-”

“I am well aware of the legends,” Pilus interjected.“As are many of our colleagues, as you both well know. And do not interrupt me again Lieutenant. I wasn't finished.”

Soarin' snapped his mouth shut.

“As I said. No threat. However, be that as it may...” Pilus trailed off for a moment as the cloud fell silent. “I am not inclined to completely dismiss your suspicions about the Twin Storms. As to your claim about these 'powers' you detailed, I don't know what to make of them. Sounds more like something from the time of the Corrupted Archons, and last time I checked, they were wiped out several millennia ago. But that's not important right now.”

“You believe those stories?” Spitfire said incredulously.

“I am the Legacy Guard Commander,” Pilus said, as if it should have been obvious. “And as such, I know a bit more than the common Pegaus about the Guard's history. Those 'stories' you mentioned are ancient history, but factual history nonetheless. But as I said, this does not concern me. The rogue pegasi you mentioned do. Their sudden appearance is... troubling.”

“We believe they may be the Tempest Guard sir,” Soarin' dared to speak again.

“And they are a threat,” Spitfire added quickly.

Colonel Pilus sighed. “Of that I have no doubt. From what you've told me there's not enough information to say if they're connected to the Twin Storms though. More likely they're a group of radicals pushing for Cloudsdale independence. But if they are a part of something larger, it's come at the worst possible time.”

“Sir?” Spitfire questioned.

“Communications between the Senate and Canterlot have broken down. The military does not make domestic policy, but we all have our... 'opinions' of the royals. I don't have to spell it out to you what the consensus is within our ranks.”

“Sir, if I understand what you're saying correctly...” Soarin' trailed off.

“The Cloudsdale Consul and the Senate have been pushing for greater independence for some time now. That pressure has reached military leadership at Ares Summit. Understand this: our duty is to serve the Senate and the pegasi nation. If Canterlot objects to our greater autonomy, then we must be ready to act.”

Soarin' made to speak, but caught his words in his mouth, stunned. He glanced to Spitfire. She met his gaze, an equally troubled expression on her face.

“That is why we cannot have a rogue faction of pegasi interfering. The situation is dicey enough as it is. Take them down, hard and fast,” Colonel Pilus said firmly.

“Yes si-” Spitfire began to reply, but Soarin' cut her off.

“And if the Tempest Guard brings back the Twin Storms?”

The cloud beacon silently hovered in front of the two Wonderbolts for several tense seconds.

The sudden crackle of electricity startled both.

“Captain Spitfire, under Statute 1 of the Council of Generals delegating authority to myself as the Legacy Guard Commander, I authorize you command to the Hurricane Contingency.

Soarin' turned once more to his companion.

Spitfire seemed at a loss, her mouth slightly ajar. However, she quickly caught herself, snapping to attention with renewed focus.

“I don't have to remind you both the weight of this responsibility. Do not take Commander Hurricane's Final Orders lightly,” Colonel Pilus warned.

“Yes sir!” Both pegasi announced in unison.

“Keep me informed as the situation permits. Colonel Pilus out.”

The hovering cloud immediately fizzled out in a fit of sparks and tiny rumblings.

Spitfire and Soarin' stood for a moment, still rigid from their Commander's parting. Neither said a word, both simply staring off into the sky.

Spitfire finally dropped to her haunches, rousing Soarin'.

“Ohhh boy...” Spitfire said with a sigh. “We've got quite a doozy on our hooves this time don't we?” She looked up wearily to her companion.

Soarin' joined her, seating himself on the cloud. “Yeah. But,” he smirked at his teammate, “we're Wonderbolts, so it's a done deal.”

Spitfire smiled. “And I thought I was the arrogant one,” she said coyly. Her smiled faded. “Still, this is a big one. Equestria is about to tear itself apart, and that's without this Twin Storms stuff throwing a crooked feather into the mix. Not to mention I'm holding onto the single most sacred Order in the pegasi military,” Spitfire said in a tired voice.

“I have confidence in you Spits,” Soarin' reassured her, putting a hoof to her foreleg. “And so do the rest of the 'Bolts. We'd follow you to Tartarus and back. And as far the Twin Storms...” Soarin trailed off, frowning. “Well, Rainbow and I will figure something out.”

“Thanks Soar,” Spitfire said with a smile. “But,” Spitfire stood up, stretching her wings. “I think we've wasted enough time. We better go and check on everypegasi, make sure this thing goes off without a hitch.”

Soarin' nodded.

Spitfire moved to the edge of the cloud, followed by Soarin'. Both stood at the edge of the cloud for a moment. Then, without a word both dropped from the cloud in tandem, diving to the ground below.


Windswept half-ran half-tumbled down the spiral staircase. He was enveloped in darkness, only the curve the staircase to guide his rapid descent. A second later a faint glow peered around the corner.

Windswept clattered to the base of the stairway, nearly falling over as he burst through the doorway. Instead he collided with one of the Tempest Guards.

“Oofh!” Windswept exclaimed, steadying himself.

“What in th-!” The Tempest Guard whirled around, but paused when he saw Windswept.

The rest of the Tempest Guard turned toward the stairway. Silver Wings emerged from the crowd, walking over to Windswept.

“Windswept? Are you alright?”

Windswept nodded between breaths. “Y-yeah...”

Silver looked unconvinced. “What happened? Were you attacked?”

Several members of the Tempest Guard shuffled in place at Silver's words, murmurs passing between them.

“N-no,” Windswept said. “I uh, I just guess I kinda zoned out up there for a minute. Still getting used to the clasp and all.”

Silver was quiet for a moment. “I see,” he said evenly. “I understand you are still acclimating to the clasp's power, but we cannot have any further delays.”

Windswept nodded quickly again, thankful Silver hadn't pried further. “Got it.”

Silver returned to the head of the group, allowing Windswept a chance to finally see where the Tempest Guard currently found itself.

The Guard spread out in what appeared to the be one of the dungeons in Black Mist Prison. Light was minimal in the tunnel. Several Tempest Guards had lit what few torches remained upon the walls, but the shadows still dominated the dungeons.

Windswept walked slowly along the hall carefully looking about. The walls were lined with iron bars that ran from the floor to a ledge several feet above his head, behind which were tiny stone cells built into the earth. Stepping forward he peered inside. Cobwebs hung from rusted restraints fastened to the walls. A rusted chain fastened to a rotted bed snaked around the grimy floor, ending in pile by the cell gate. Much to Windswept's relief there was no occupant at the end of the irons.

Windswept turned toward the hall once more. Cell after cell pocketed the walls, stretching onward into the darkness.

“So many...” he remarked softly.

“This is but one cell block within Black Mist prison,” Silver said, striding up alongside Windswept.

“Just one?”

“Skythus was a powerful empire. But great power also comes with its fair share of enemies. However, I do not believe we will find the Lord Archon within these paltry cells,” Silver said, gesturing to the iron bars. “Hurricane would not be so foolish.”

“Then where?” Windswept said.

A rare look of confusion appeared on Silver's face. “I am... unsure. It must be hidden.”

Windswept nodded. He, along with the rest of the Tempest Guard began to search about hall, others busting through the rusted gates to inspect the numerous cells that lined the walls. But the search was slow to yield results.

“Sir, we've search all throughout, but... there's nothing here,” one of the Tempest Guards said.

Silver Wings glared back at the guard. “No. The entrance is here,” he said tersely.

“Maybe the entrance is in one of the other cell blocks?” Another guard said.

“No!” Silver retorted. “The Lord Archon's calling is strongest here. I can feel it, just as you all can. Keep looking!”

Windswept watched from the center of the hall as the Guard resumed its search, but it was evident that there was little else to find.

Instead of joining the others, Windswept looked about the hall. Nothing seemed different from his initial inspection. The stone floor was solid, the cells barren.

Absently his eyes drifted upward. It was only then that Windswept noticed the stone work above each cell.

Positioned just above each cell door and partially hidden by the shadows was a statue of an armored pony. Or more like half a pony, Windswept corrected himself. The midsection of the statue jutted forth from the upper wall with its forehooves planted firmly the stone ledge above the cell gate. The statue stood upright at attention, but its hooded heads craned downwards, the shadowed face watching over its charges below.

“Terrifying,” Windswept whispered as he gazed back at the faceless jailer above him.

Slowly Windswept walked further down the hall, all the while observing the overhead statues.

Further inspection revealed an engraving of chains upon each statue that ran from the guardian's hooves, along the outside of the stone wall that separated each cell, with each end reuniting at the foot of the gate.

Windswept continued to saunter on, looking on at the statues. Each bore the same pattern, the same gaze below, the same chains-

Windswept abruptly stopped at the second to last cell on the right at the end of the hall. For a moment he stared at the statue above him, then whirled around to the one opposite. His eyes went wide as he smiled excitedly.

“Silver! Silver Wings! Over here!” Windswept abruptly called out.

Clattering hooves echoed down the hall as Silver and the rest of the Tempest Guard ran to meet Windswept.

Silver came to stop in front of the grinning Pegasus. “Windswept, what is it? What did you find?” Silver's eyes jumped all around Windswept, but he frowned when there was nothing to be found. “We've already searched here Windswept.”

Windswept continued to smile. “Yes, but not in the right places. Look up at all the statues.”

Silver Wings and the rest of the Tempest Guard look upward at the rows of statues above.

Silver frowned all the more, turning back to Windswept. “Guardians of those imprisoned here,” he said flatly.

“Yes! Unicorn guards that would fit Celestia and Luna's time here. All Unicorn guards.” Windswept looked up at the statue above him. “Except for this one.”

Silver looked up at the statue above. It was the same as the others, save for the absence of a horn. Closer inspection revealed the faint markings of folded wings at either side.

“How very subtle,” Silver remarked softly.

“That's not all,” Windswept said excitedly. “The chains on all the Unicorn statues are plain. But this statue is different. Look!” He gestured excitedly toward the stone wall.

Silver Wings and several senior members of the Tempest Guard moved to inspect the engraving. At first glance the chain seemed very much the same as the others, snaking from the hooves of the Pegasus above to the stone floor. But there was more. Upon each link was a tiny marking that glinted in the light. Some were a series of dashes, others swirls with dots, still others angular, but all in the same foreign engraving.

Silver's eyes narrowed as he stared closer at the markings.

“I think they're some kind of ancient markings!” Windswept said enthusiastically.

“Indeed,” Silver announced, standing upright. “These are Earth Pony runes. We've found the entrance to the Lord Archon's tomb.”

“Wait, Earth Pony runes? What are tho-”

Silver raised a hoof. “There is no time. Find out how to open it.”

Windswept frowned slightly at the rebuttal, but it quickly vanished. “Uh, right.”

Windswept stared up at the statue for a moment. How in the hay am I supposed to open it? And what if those runes have something to do with it? Pushing his misgivings aside, Windswept flourished his wings, hovering to just in front of the statue, hoping to find a clue.

Very little stood out beyond what he had already found. The guard was plain like the others, hooded with a breastplate and faint emblem-

Windswept did a double take as he nearly glossed over the marking. Where have I seen that before?

The emblem was faint in the center of the statue's breastplate, obscured by centuries of grime and dust. A vertical lightning bolt with wings, the emblem protruded slightly from the breastplate.

It's almost as if I should...

Windswept abruptly jammed his hoof against the emblem.

The sound of cracking stone suddenly came from the foot of the statue. Jagged lines cut through the stone chains, traveling the length to the floor, extinguishing the glinting runes.

A deep hollow sound of shifting stone suddenly echoed from the cell before the Guard. The entire hall began to rumble, dust slowly wafting down from the ceiling. Square stones in the center of the cell floor began to slowly descend, revealing a narrow staircase that disappeared into the darkness below.

The rumbling came to a halt, followed by a dull, echoing thud as the shifting stone ceased.

The Tempest Guard stood motionless, hesitantly staring at the stairway.

Silver Wings stepped forward, followed by the rest of the Guard.

“W-wait!” Windswept said.

Silver paused, turning to his companion. He made no effort to hide his irritation. “What is it now Windswept? Every second we delay gives the Wonderbolts time to seek us out.”

Windswept shifted awkwardly in place. “I'm sorry, it's just that shouldn't we uh, I dunno, check for traps? It just seems too easy.”

“Your concern is well warranted Windswept,” Dominus spoke up. “But we cannot anticipate everything. Traps or not, we will enter the Lord Archon's tomb.”

Silver Wings nodded. “Well said Dominus. We will deal with the obstacles as they come.”

The Guard slowly began filing down the spiral staircase, hoofsteps echoing through the castle.

Windswept hung near the back, lost in thought. There was no deterring Silver and the rest of the Guard from their goal, he knew that much. Not that he wished to turn back, but the lack of opposition still bothered him. If Hurricane really wanted to keep the Archon imprisoned, why haven't we encountered any resistance? Windswept frowned. Doesn't help that this place is haunted...

The last of Tempest Guard descended into the shadows, save for Dominus. The elder pegasi beckoned Windswept onward. “Come Windswept, no reason to get left behind again.”

Windswept nodded. “Yeah,” he said absently, looking about the hall once more. No spectral pegasus appeared this time, but Windwept had the distinct feeling he was being watched. He didn't wait to find out if it was true.

Both pegasi descended the spiral staircase, disappearing into the darkness.

The hall was silent once more.

A foggy haze wafted from the final guard at the end of the hall. The spectral pegasus stood in place like the rest of the statues, its sullen eyes still watching over where Windswept had been only moments before.


Scootaloo, Swift Jet and Midnight Blossom weaved through the crowd outside the stadium. It was quickly dwindling as the spectators made their way to the rapidly filling stadium.

“Looks like we just made it!” Swift Jet said happily.

“It was awfully nice of the hospital staff to let you go early,” Midnight Blossom said.

“Well, they really had no reason to keep me. Like I said before I haven't felt this good in a long time!”

Scootaloo walked silently beside her parents, their words barely registering. Unlike the many ponies around her, there was no excitement about her, no spring in her step. Several times she had to trot faster just to catch up to her parents. Instead a small frown marked her features, as she walked along, preoccupied.

Why would they do that? She thought. I thought Spitfire was cool! Doesn't she trust me? Doesn't Soarin'? She questioned. I mean, yeah they're military pegasi an all, so I guess something could have changed. Maybe somepony ordered them to handle it themselves or something, she thought again. But that can't be right! Scootaloo's frown deepened. Rainbow Dash is still with them! Why her? Why not me? Her face turned to a scowl. She didn't even stick up for me! After all that talk of 'needing my help!'

“Scootaloo?”

Scootaloo stopped, looking blankly up at her parents. “Huh?”

“I asked you if you were excited about the airshow,” Swift Jet said. “You've been awfully quiet since this morning.”

“Oh. Um, yeah I'm totally excited!” Scootaloo said falsely.

“Oh, well that's good. But isn't Rainbow Dash going to be here?” Swift Jet did a quick search of the crowd. “I thought she said she was going to meet up with you before the show?”

“No,” Scootaloo said coldly.

“I thought she was the one who invited you in the first place?” Midnight Blossom asked. “Did something hap-”

“No,” Scootaloo said icily again. “I'm not watching the show with her,” she added. She started walking toward walking toward the grandstand again. “Come on, let's go before all the seats are gone.”

Midnight Blossom seemed confused at her daughter's remark, but let it go, falling in step.

Swift Jet followed. Unlike his wife, there was no confusion in his mind. Only a worried frown on his face as he looked on at Scootaloo.

The family eventually made their way into the grandstand, seating themselves near the top.

The buzz of the crowd began to intensify as Wonderbolt Sky Crew members began to clear, a telltale sign that the show was about to begin. All around Scootaloo ponies began to cheer and holler for the Wonderbolts. However, Scootaloo was not among them. Her eyes were downcast as she continued to think.

Why would Rainbow let me hear all the stuff back at The Trough and Cider and not want my help? Why the change all of a sudden? Scootaloo pondered. Slowly the gears in her mind began to turn. “We can talk more after the show,” Spitfire's words to her father echoed in her mind. What had Spitfire meant by that?

Scootaloo eye's suddenly widened, a thought striking her like a lightning bolt. Her father. All his odd behaviors before the festival, so similar to how Rainbow and Soarin' had been acting. The attack at The Trough and Cider and her father's rapid recovery. Rainbow Dash, Soarin' and Spitfire so keen to speak to him alone, and Scootaloo's subsequent exclusion. And the third pegasus that had yet to be found.

Until now.

It's Dad! Dad's the third pegasus!

Slowly, Scootaloo turned to look at her father. Tired features still marked his face, but it did little to dampen his excitement as he watched the sky above.

How couldn't I have seen it? Scootaloo thought, her mouth hanging agape. Why else would he have gone looking for those pegasi?

She had to know for sure.

“Dad, can I ask you a question?”

“Hrm? The show's about to start Scoots!” Swift Jet pointed toward the sky.

Scootaloo was not to be deterred. “It's important Dad.”

Swift Jet's smile faded, but he immediately turned to his daughter evenly. “Alright. What is it?”

Scootaloo paused for a moment, choosing her words carefully. “When me and Mom were out shopping, what were you, Dash and the Wonderbolts talking about?”

Midnight Blossom's ears perked up at Scootaloo's question.

Swift Jet simply stared at his daughter, his mouth simply ajar. He quickly closed it, composing himself. “They just wanted to know about those pegasi that attacked last night. That's all,” he said shortly, trying to turn back to the show.

“Dad, I know that's not true,” Scootaloo said.

“Scootaloo what are you talking about?” Midnight Blossom asked. She looked between her daughter and Swift Jet worriedly.

“It's nothing dear,” Swift Jet said flatly.

“Please don't lie to me,” Scootaloo pleaded. “I know about the Twin Storms, I know about Soarin' and Dash and that they're two of the Legacy Bearers.”

Swift Jet avoided looking at his daughter, shifting in his seat. “Scootaloo I don't know what you're tal-”

“And I know that something really bad is going happen. Unless Dash and Soarin' can find the last Legacy Bearer,” Scootaloo said, fixing her father with a hard stare.

Swift Jet was quiet, his eyes shut as he bowed his head.

Midnight Blossom put a hoof to her husband's. “Swift Jet? What's wrong?”

Swift Jet took a deep breath. He looked up smiling between his wife and daughter. “Nothing's wrong. I've just been putting off telling you both something very important,” he said looking to Scootaloo. “Scoots here is just a little too smart for her own good,” he said, smiling sadly at his daughter.

Scootaloo nearly leaped out of her seat. “You mean you're- a-and you've got- a-and you're going to-?!” She babbled about excitedly.

“Swift Jet, I'm still confused,” Midnight asked quietly. Her forehooves shook slightly as she stared back uncertainly at her husband.

Swift Jet took his wife's hooves in his own. “It's okay. I'll explain everything. As best I can at least. Please don't worry,” he said.

Midnight Blossom nodded silently.

“I'll tell you both later. Right now I just want us to enjoy the show as a family,” Swift Jet said, extending his wings around Scootaloo and Midnight. One last time... he thought wistfully.

Scootaloo settled against her father's wing, a massive grin upon her face. I can't believe it! My Dad is a hero! Just like in Surprise's story!

The crowd began to cheer again as the announcer's voice came over the speaker.

“Mare's and Gentlecolts! Please direct your attention to the north sky!”

The happy family cheered aloud with the crowd as the telltale thundercloud trail of the Wonderbolts appeared on the horizon.

Within the stadium, all eyes were to the sky, whether it was from the seats below, or clouds above. All save for one rainbow pegasus who stared sadly on from the back row at Scootaloo.


The Tempest Guard emerged from the staircase, but it was without sight. Windswept opened his eyes wide, but the darkness was all enveloping. His only comfort was shuffling of hooves ahead of him.

“Lucem.”

Silver's words echoed from the front of the tunnel. Immediately Windswept and the rest of the Tempest Guards' clasps suddenly glowed, bathing the tunnel in amethyst light.

It took a moment for Windswept's eyes to adjust. When they did he was greeted by a narrow tunnel that stretched beyond the faint glow of the Tempest Guards light. Unlike the cells and the main hall of the castle before, the tunnel was bare. There was no ornamentation, no statues, no decoration of any kind. Stone lined the walls, floor and the shallow arched ceiling above.

The Tempest Guard moved forward. Windswept fell in step alongside Dominus, but it was slow going. The tunnel barely allowed for two pegasi to walk alongside one another.

Nopegasi spoke, but Windswept noticed many of the Guard were continuously scanning every part of the tunnel as they moved along. He allowed himself a small smile. Glad some of them listened to me.

The group continued to move forward. At times the ground would slope downward, then make a sharp hairpin turn. Again and again the pattern repeated, as the Tempest Guard journeyed further beneath the castle. Windswept couldn't recall how long they had been moving, the monotony of clopping hooves in the tunnel had rendered his brain numb.

Finally the group stopped. Windswept nearly collided with the guard ahead of him. Peering over the hooded heads of his brethren, he was able to make out what appeared to be an open doorway. He breathed a sigh of relief. Finally!

Slowly, the group began to filter into the room. It was dark like the tunnel, but Windswept could not gauge it's size, as the combined light of the Tempest Guard failed to reach the perimeter of the room.

Silver's voice called softly from the front. “Everypegasi stay in formation, and tread carefully.”

The Tempest Guard filed onward into the room. The stone doorway behind them disappeared into the darkness.

Windswept swept his eyes to and fro, but he was only met darkness. Come on Windswept, keep it together, he thought apprehensively. This will all be worth it...

The sudden thud of stone and the bone chilling click of metal slicing across the room brought the Tempest Guard to a halt.

Windswept held his breath, not moving a muscle. Only his eyes darted around frantically, straining to see from under his hood.

“Nopegasi move,” Silver's calm voice came again. It did little to calm the Windswept's frantic nerves.

The rest of the Guard was the same. Windswept could feel the sudden spike in tension through the hum of his brethren, so thick it was practically suffocating. Don't move, don't move, don't move, he drilled through his brain. Sweat began to form at his brow, as he felt the urge to run grow.

Second passed like hours as the Guard waited. But no trap appeared. No poisoned darts from across the room, no spewing lava, no ancient curses attacked the group.

The sound of roaring flame behind the Tempest Guard suddenly filled the room.

Windswept, Dominus and several other Tempest Guards whirled around.

Two massive wrought iron braziers in the back corners of the room blazed fiercely.

The roar of igniting flame came again. And again. And again.

Light poured all around the Tempest Guard. Two by two iron braziers along the walls inexplicably came to life. Their light filled the entirety of the room. It was very large, over fifteen hooves high and nearly twice as wide. Along both walls was a mural carved from the stone. They seemed to depict some kind of story, much of it filled with scores of pegasi in aerial conflict. Unfortunately, Windswept didn't have time to inspect them further.

“This is it,” Silver's said in awe.

Windswept and Dominus turned again to the front of the room. Several Tempest Guards gasped aloud. Windswept's jaw dropped, as he stared dumbly ahead.

Three massive pegasi statues stood at the end of the room, each easily over ten hooves high. Or at least, what appeared to be statues. Instead of stone representations of pegasi, the three that stood before the Tempest Guard were actually suits of ancient full body armor, complete with dual bladed hooves and shouldered lance. Even more odd was the fact that no stone mannequin was beneath to support the armor. The armor simply appeared fused together, each an empty shell of a pegasus.

Behind the three sets of armor was a massive stone circular door, set inside the wall. Stone chains marked with runes circled the door's surface, the same as those from the cell block. They coiled around toward the center of the door, ending in a small circle. Within the small circle was a vertical lightning bolt flanked by wings. Above the doorway large, bold letters of a foreign language were carved into the rock.

Windswept caught himself staring at the darkened hollow inside the center suit of armor's helmet. Uneasy feelings overtook him. He quickly averted his eyes.

Dominus was the first to move, stepping forward next to Silver. “It's a warning,” he said, peering up at the inscription. “Peril and ruin awaits the world should the Skythan Traitor be released.”

“Hardly,” Silver replied curtly. He turned to two of the Guards behind him. “Move the armor and open the door.”

Both Tempest Guards complied, making their way toward the center suit of armor.

Windswept watched the two guards move forward. A deep sense of worry suddenly came over him. He could feel the hum of the Guard around him, but it was not alone. A foreign, outside force touched his clasp.

Windswept rushed to the front. “Silver, wait!”

Silver Wings barely acknowledged his colleague. “Windswept, I told you before, there will be no more delays.”

“Something is wrong! Don't you feel it?!”

“I don't fe-”

Windswept, Silver and the rest of the Guard flinched, a much more powerful wave pulsing before them, from three points in particular.

Realization and horror overcame Silver Wings as he looked from his clasp to the end of the room. “Wait!” He called out to the two Guards, but it was too late.

Both Guards reached to move the center suit of armor. Windswept looked on in horror as a bright white fog suddenly appeared around the chest of each suit of armor, while a darkened haze overcame the inside of the armors' helmets.

In a flash the living armor swung an armored forehoof, launching one of the two Tempest Guards across the room. The pegasus screamed in terror before impacting the wall with a sickening crunch.

The armor turned on the other Guard in an instant. The cloaked pegasus barely had time to react, as the towering armor thrust forward with its bladed hoof, impaling the Guard in the chest with the dual blades. Only a momentary gurgle escaped the Guard's mouth as he stared down in horror at the blood that poured forth from his chest onto the steel blades. The living armor suddenly reared on its hind legs with the dying Guard aloft, then brought both down in a thunderous slam to floor, crushing the corpse beneath. The armor finally flung the mutilated corpse at the rest of the Guard, the deceased pegasus landing in an awkward crumple at Silver's hooves.

A momentary flash of horror and sorrow came over Silver, quickly replaced by rage. “Attack them!” He bellowed. “DESTROY THEM!”

The room descended into chaos.

All three of the metal pegasi moved forward. The center still brandished its bloody blades, while the left deftly drew its lance, three feet of double bladed steel protruding from the pole. The right wielded neither, instead unfurling wings of razor steel.

The Tempest Guard reacted immediately to Silver Wings' call, splitting into three groups. Windswept found himself with Silver and Dominus, along with a handful of the Guard. Flashes of amethyst light erupted throughout the room, as the trained Tempest Guard opened up upon the metal pegasi with magical lances.

Windswept began to panic. Oh no, oh no, oh no... what do I do, what do I do, WHAT DO I DO? He began to shake in terror as the living armor continued to move forward.

To Windswept's left and right Tempest Guards fired off magical lances at the metal pegasus. But the shots only glanced off the armor, or were absorbed entirely. The metal titan was only slowed.

The bladed armor suddenly brandished its wings, and with a mighty flap, launched itself up over the center group of Guards. Windswept watched on in horror as the metal pegasus sailed directly overhead, and landed behind the group. Immediately the titan thrust its wings outward, striking nearby Tempest Guards with searing cuts, others thrown into the air from the force of the blow alone.

Windswept was frozen. He was exposed. Nothing between him and the monstrosity that was only a few yards away.

The metal pegasus whirled about, its darkened gaze falling on Windswept. The Tempest Guard felt his breath leave him.

The armor charged at him. Windswept could only stare as he witnessed his final moments. The metal pegasus opened a wing, holding the blood stained metal level as it continued to charge.

Windswept closed his eyes as the bladed wing approached his throat.

But the attack never came. Windswept felt himself tumble to the ground as Dominus landed beside him.

“What are you doing you fool?!” Dominus yelled, leaping to his hooves and firing off a volley of lances at the suit of armor.

Dominus' words barely registered with Windswept. His eyes were transfixed on Silver, as the pegasus battled the living armor that had nearly beheaded him moments ago. The armor swiped at Silver with its hooves in rapid succession. Each time Silver dodged to the left and right, barely avoiding the strikes. Abruptly the titan unfurled its wing again. But this time it did not take to the air. Instead it leaned forward, bringing the wing downward to impale Silver from above.

Silver dodged again. But he had not been the target.

The armor's wing cut into the stone, Silver Wing's cloak pinned between the steel and rock. Immediately the metal pegasus raised its dual blades to slice at the trapped Tempest Guard Captain.

Silver's clasp began to glow.

“SILVER!” Windswept screamed.

There was a bright flash of light. The titan had brought its blades down upon Silver, but there was no wound, no mark on Silver at all.

Silver crouched low, holding his wing like a shield over his body. His aura burned brightly and Windswept could see the power flow from Silver's clasp to his wing, a barrier of electricity encasing it.

Shards of the broken blades lay at Silver's hooves, the steel still glowing orange.

Windswept gaped at the miracle that shouldn't have been possible.

“Get up and FIGHT!” Dominus screamed at Windswept, before charging at Silver's foe.

Windswept didn't need to hear it twice. Running entirely on adrenaline, he jumped to his hooves. On instinct he raised his hoof, and felt the pulse of power build and release in rapid succession. A trio of amethyst lances shot from his hoof toward the armor. They impacted at the base of the titan's wing.

The titan staggered from the impacts, followed by what could only be the groaning of the metal beast.

Dominus leaped into the air and collided into the living armor, striking at its wing just after Windswept's lances impacted. The combined assault toppled the living armor in a thunderous crash of creaking metal on stone.

But there was no staring from Windswept this time. His mind was fluid, reactive.

He alighted into the air, firing volley after volley of lances, doing his best to pin the metal pegasus to the floor.

But even with Windswept's renewed courage, it was a losing battle.

The lance wielding titan charged forward, its weapon bearing down on the Tempest Guards that opposed it.

A blood curdling scream cut through the air. The titan hoisted its lance about, a skewered Tempest Guard upon it. The metal pegasus flung the Guard through the air, felling another to the ground.

Those engaged with the last suit of armor were constantly on the move as their opponent danced across the room. The metal pegasus engaged several foes at once, bludgeoning Tempest Guards with its forehooves, while at the same time parrying magic lances with its wings or striking with their razor sharp steel feathers.

“We're barely keeping up here!” One of the Guards called out.

“How do we defeat them?” Another yelled.

Windswept was joined by Dominus and several other Guards, each hovering in a shifting pattern above their foe, continuing the barrage of lances. The titan attempted to rise, but each time a new volley of lances would slam into it, pummeling it into floor.

“Contain them!” Silver called out, joining Windswept.

We can't just contain them, we have to defeat them now! Windswept thought, pausing.

The lapse in firepower provided an opening. The titan shot open its wings, deflecting several lances back. Windswept barely had time to dodge as he avoided the returning projectiles, while two of the Guard found themselves wounded by their own weapons.

Windswept dove downward just as the metal pegasus leaped into the air. He fired another volley above as he flew under, the lances impacting once more at the base of the wing. The entire suit of armor shook violently instead of absorbing the blows.

The metal pegasus groaned again, falling from the air. It came crashing to the floor, skidding across and ramming into the wing wielding titan. Both collided into the wall.

It was only then that Windswept noticed the trail of broken pieces of armor from his opponent.

That's it! He thought. “Silver! It's the wings! Hit them at the base of their wings!”

Silver didn't question Windswept's command. “Everpegasi! Aim at the base of their wings!”

Dominus dared to fly just overhead the lance wielding titan. Once, twice, three times he flew by, each time narrowly dodging the overhead thrusts and swings from the metal pegasus' lance. He flew by once more. But no attack came this time. The titan crouched low as Dominus flew by.

The veteran Guard grinned. At the last second he rolled away just as the suit of armor unfurled its wings and leaped into the air to intercept the Tempest Guard.

“Now!” Dominus yelled to the other Guards.

A dozen volleys shot forth from around the metal pegasus, bombarding just under its wing. Each impact shook the suit of armor, along with cries of creaking and groaning metal. The monstrosity attempted to stay aloft, but it was to be its undoing. Its body began to pull apart as the lances met their mark.

Dominus came around for one final pass, with hoof outstretched. An amethyst glow began to collect at his hoof.

The titan continued to be battered from both sides, additional metal body parts falling to the floor.

Dominus let loose a massive lance, pulling up just in time to skirt above the titan. He streaked by just as the lance impacted, exploding into the titan. The suit of armor shimmered violently, and with a final groan, collapsed to the floor, the remainder of its body crumpling upon itself. The darkened haze beneath it's helm faded and the silvery fog about the breastplate slowly dissipated with a hiss.

Several of the engaged Guard cheered aloud, but the success was cut short.

The harsh creaking of metal armor cut through the air. It was followed by several solid thuds, shaking the ground.

The remaining two titans stood upright. But instead of charging forward, both metal pegasi seemed to be surveying the ring of Tempest Guards in front of them, bouncing slightly on their hooves in anticipation.

The Tempest Guard slowly formed a half ring around the two titans, trapping them against the wall with trained hooves, lances gleaming at the ready.

Slowly the bladed armor tilted its head to its companion. The wing wielding armor seemed to do the same, nodding slightly.

Slowly the two began to move in tandem around the edge of the wall, all the while watching the Tempest Guard. The Guard shifted with the two maneuvering suits of armor. Eventually the two re-positioned themselves in front of the circular door, taking up a defensive stance.

“We need to split them up,” Dominus said quietly.

“Leave that to me,” Silver said quickly.

“All by yourself? Are you crazy?” Windswept asked in surprise, still holding his hoof aloft at the two metal pegasi.

Silver grimaced slightly. “Just be ready to take them down.”

Windswept's eyes darted between his targets and Silver. “But what are you-”

“OPEN FIRE!” Silver shouted.

Windswept nearly jumped out of his skin as the ethereal link among the Tempest Guard suddenly surged. Magical lances erupted in unison, heating the air and numbing ears with their distinctive cry.

Both metal guardian's reacted instantly, crouch low and leaning in toward one another. Neither could attack as the unrelenting volleys of lances continued to barrel into their armored bodies. Nevertheless, the two had become a literal road block in front of the vault door, lances bouncing and reflecting from their armor, their wings closed tight.

Windswept continued to fire lances from his hoof, even as he noticed Silver had suddenly disappeared from his side.

A clattering of hooves suddenly sounded behind Windswept.

“CEASE FIRE!” Dominus' voice cried out.

The rapid flashes of amethyst light winked out.

The clopping of hooves behind Windswept stopped. He barely had time to look up as Silver Wings sailed over head in a mighty leap.

Time seemed to slow as Silver Wings thrust himself forward with a mighty flap of his wings. Both of the steel shoes under his forehooves flared with lightning sparks and a searing light forced Windswept to cringe.

No longer pinned underneath a hail of lances, both titans reacted to the lone pegasus. Windswept could only stare as both moved in slow motion. The hoof bladed titan reached for its lance, while the other began to move to intercept Silver.

But it was too late.

In an instant, time sped up. The bladed titan swung it's lance upward to sever Silver's wing, while the other brought an overhead hoof downward in a vicious pummel.

Both attacks missed.

Silver Wings abruptly snapped his wings shut dropping from his adversaries' strikes. A second later he thrust his forehooves forward, landing just in between the two metal pegasi.

A bright flash of light enveloped the room once more, followed by a colossal shock wave. The wave exploded outward in all directions, as many of the Tempest Guard found themselves skidding backward from the force.

Windswept fought to keep his eyes open against the blinding light as he witnessed the explosion blast both metal pegasi apart. Both were rocketed through the air, burying themselves into the stone wall.

Ragged breaths came to Windswepts ears.

Silver Wings stood, or rather leaned, on his forehooves, in the center of a crater. Both of his forehooves were buried under rock and earth. His cloak was torn and tattered. Blood seeped through his coat, and a deep gash lined above his brow, blood pouring into his eye.

Windswept's mouth hung ajar. “Sweet Mother of Celes-”

Windswept started to run toward the injured pegasi.

“Dominus!” Silver called out. “W-Windswept! F-finish them!”

Dominus moved without question, rallying the Guard.

Windswept abruptly stopped, his eyes darting between Silver and Dominus.

Silver's face suddenly twisted into a snarl. “What are you doing?!”

“Silver you're hurt!” Windswept sputtered, taking several awkward steps toward Silver. “You need he-”

“GO!” Silver screamed, coughing up blood and nearly falling over.

Windswept was taken aback at the sudden outburst, but he obeyed, racing toward the assembled Guard.

While he was still running, he could see the blade wielding titan, half buried into the wall. Small bits of armor lay on the ground, while the larger pieces that still made up its body were mangled and warped. The metal pegasus' exposed wing was battered and twisted, but remained closed.

The Tempest Guard closed in around the impaired armor, both from the ground and air. Windswept skidded to a halt next to Dominus.

The veteran pegasus took a moment to observe the wounded target. A small smirk tugged at his mouth. “Fire at will,” he said curtly.

The build up of energy from the Tempest Guard surged once more. But Windswept felt another, just as the Guard prepared to fire. He whirled around just as the sound of crumbling stone reached his ears.

In an instant the second metal pegasus ripped itself from within the wall, shearing its own wing off with what could only be a scream wrought from metal. Its silvery aura burned bright, and in the span of a second the metal titan leaped across the length of the room.

Windswept could feel the surge of the Guard through his clasp, nearly reaching culmination.

The metal pegasus landed awkwardly in front of its companion. An instant later the amethyst glow that surrounded the two erupted.

Lances shot forth from all directions at point blank range, impacting the second metal pegasus. Bits of armor fell to the floor as it shook violently from side to side from the barrage.

Several lances found their mark at the metal pegasus' naked wing socket, twisting the metal with sickening moans. The armor began to shimmer sporadically, and with a final metallic shriek, collapsed to the floor, expiring like the first.

The rain of amethyst fire continued as the second titan fell, pouring into the last metal pegasus. Defenseless, the metal titan was further battered against the wall. Its helm hung limp and its silvery aura began to slowly fade as additional pieces of metal were shredded off by the lances. Its body continued to shimmer with each strike, but despite the abuse, the titan refused to yield its weakness. The exposed wing remained clamped shut against its side.

Dominus raised a hoof. The lances ceased firing.

Dominus gritted his teeth. “We need to destroy it. It cannot be left to attack us later.”

Though wounded, the titan began to pull against the rock that held it, attempting to free itself.

Windswept was silent. His eyes wandered the room.

The assembled Guard were worn ragged. Not one Guard was unscathed; too few only bore torn and tattered cloaks, while many more bled from multiple wounds. All were gasping for breath, but they still maintained their training, hooves at the ready should the titan retaliate.

These that had survived.

Windswept's face began to twist and contort. He could feel his adopted brothers and sister around him, their hum valiant. But there were gaps, missing pieces to the glorious harmony.

His face began to harden as his eyes wandered once more.

Three bodies, three Tempest Guards, three missing brothers, three missing hums. Windswept scowled all the more. I didn't even know them...and they accepted me without question, supported me...

His eyes wandered again.

Silver Wings. His mentor and friend. He who had shown him the truth, and had saved his live. Who was now battered and bloodied, who was willing to give all for a greater future.

Windswept's eyes narrowed on the metal titan.

“Dominus, have the Guard stand back,” he said icily.

Dominus looked confused. “Stand back? I'm not giving that thing an inch.”

The titan shook violently, dislodging itself further from the wall.

“Just do it. I know exactly what to do.”

Dominus stared at Windswept for a moment, but finally relented. A quick hoof signal later the Guard moved hesitantly backward, forming a rough ring outside Windswept.

Windswept took a deep breath. I hope this works, he thought. He focused on the clasp upon his chest, letting it reach toward those around him, drawing upon them.

Electricity crackled through the air. Arcs began to jump about Windswept's clasp. He could feel the power continue to build, the voltage increasing around his clasp. The arcs were growing more violent, straining to escape the confines of the winged lightning. The bluish white light flashed about sporadically with each greater surge of power as the distant rumble of thunder sounded.

The titan strained all the more against the broken stone.

Windswept flapped his wings, once, twice, three times. Each time the flow of electricity jolted, spreading to his wings in angular arcs. Each time stronger than the last.

The fourth time he leaped into the air. Immediately his wings ignited, encased in a living conduit of lightning. Thunder boomed in the distance once more.

Windswept took a moment to hover in the air. His eyes zeroed in on the titan's folded wing.

Windswept gritted his teeth as his whole body tensed. He could see the streams of power pouring from his allies, transferring into his clasp, where it became raw electricity. He gave one last pull upon the leylines, gathering the power to himself.

Both of his wings surged, white light blinding the entire room.

Windswept gave a hefty flap of his wings, launching himself higher. He reared his wings back at the peak of his ascent, and thrust them forward as hard as he could.

The crack of lightning echoed through room. In an instant the lightning dispelled from Windswepts wings, joining together in a single ball of electricity just beyond his wingtips. A bolt immediately shot from his clasp, piercing the gathered electricity.

A jagged lightning bolt shot forth, striking the titan's wing. In a flash the wing was instantly vaporized.

Windswept landed awkwardly to the ground, his wings weakened from the attack.

All eyes were to the titan.

The metallic pegasi was still. Arcs of residual electricity curled about its smoking armor. The silvery aura just below its helm was faint.

Dominus looked uncertainly to Windswept. “Did it work?”

There was a groan of creaking metal. The last metallic pegasi's helm toppled to the ground, followed the by the remaining pieces of its armored skeleton.

Windswept let out a sigh. “Yes, I think it did.”

“Well done.”

Windswept and Dominus turned. Silver Wings greeted them with a pained smile. “We have triumphed.”

“Silver!” Windswept exclaimed. “Are you alright?”

The Captain of the Tempest Guard looked over himself. “It looks worse than it is. A small price to pay.”

Dominus looked sadly around the room. “Not for all of us.”

Silver's eyes were downcast. “Who?”

“Jetstream, Sky Bolt and Cloud Strider.”

Silver nodded solemnly. “We will honor their sacrifice, when time permits. I have no doubt the Lord Archon will see to their commemoration.”

Silver turned to Dominus. “Check the wounded and gather our dead. Then re-form the Guard. We will enter the tomb.”

“Yes sir,” Dominus replied quickly. He strode off, calling out commands to the remainder of the Guard.

Silver moved toward the tomb doorway, Windswept falling in next to him.

“Silver... I... I wanted to thank you.”

“Oh? For what?”

“You saved my life, and...” Windswept trailed off, taking a moment to think. “...you've given me the truth, a new purpose.”

Silver smiled. “You're welcome my friend. But there is something I need you to understand.”

Windswept listened, waiting for Silver to continue.

“Now that you know this, there is no going back. You bear the truth like the rest of the Guard does, and you must do all in your power to see it fulfilled. Your hesitation from earlier...” Silver gestured back near the crater, “cannot happen again. When I give a command, I expect it to be carried out,” Silver said, staring intently at Windswept. “We could have failed to dispatch these guardians had you come to my assistance. I would rather give my life and ensure the return of the Lord Archon, than live in failure.”

Both pegasi stopped before the circular vault.

Windswept opened his mouth for a moment, but said nothing. He's right. This is bigger than me, bigger than him, Windswept thought. No going back. He looked to Silver, resolute.

The elder pegasi smiled again. “I see you understand. Good,” he said, turning toward the tomb. “Because we are about to correct the greatest injustice in all of history.”

Hoofsteps in step sounded behind the pair.

Dominus stepped astride Silver's left. “We are ready.”

Silver and Windswept glanced behind them.

The assembled Tempest Guard stared back. They were bruised, battered, worn and weary. But despite this, they stood at attention, resolute.

“Windswept.”

Windswept turned to Silver.

The elder pegasi gestured toward the massive circular door. “Would you do the honors? I think you deserve it.”

Windswept nodded. He stepped toward the massive vault door. The stone chain was the same as before in the cells above, as was the lightning symbol in the center. The runes glistened as before.

Windswept put a hoof to the stone. Immediately he felt a subdued hum through his clasp, almost like the link had been muffled, restricted. Despite this, he could feel the power within. It pulsed like the deep breaths of a slumbering dragon, heavy and ominous. In fact there was something very familiar about the pulse that he felt. Wait a minute...

He listened further. It was the same as from within the forest, from before Silver had bestowed upon him the Tempest Guard's clasp. Windswept shivered. Come on, this is what you want to do. No going back.

He looked to the winged lightning crest at the center, but it did not appear to function the same as from the cell block. The chain has to be broken, he reasoned, flying up toward the top of the door.

Windswept found the beginning of the stone chain near the top of the door, but found no mechanism to break them. He rolled his eyes. Of course they're not just going to hang the key right in front of the door. But if Hurricane really sealed the Archon in this tomb, then it was never meant to be opened. There is no key...

Windswept frowned staring at the chain, the last obstacle before him. He could feel the subdued presence of the Archon, the power swirling around his clasp. His hoof began to tingle. Windswept brought it to eye level. Amethyst hued sparks danced along his hoof. It felt foreign, alien even. This power did not manifest from his link to the other Guards, that much he could tell. Where did this come fr-

The Archon's presence jolted at his clasp, just as the sparks along his hoof intensified.

Without thinking Windswept thrust his hoof against the first link in the stone chain.

Nothing happened. Weird, for some reason I thought that would work, Windswept thought.

Windswept began to hover to the ground, but his hoof remained locked to the stone chain link. “What in Tartarus?”

The Archon's seeping power surged again. And again. And again. Windswept felt every pulse through his clasp. It was practically ravenous now, coursing through him violently.

The first stone link shattered.

Windswept closed his eyes. Pain coursed through him with each jolt. He had become a living conduit. Just stick it out... he tried to reassure himself.

The second link shattered.

More power came through his clasp. Sweat began to soak his body, as he strained against the power. No going back... he repeated in his mind.

Ethereal whispers came to his ears from both near and far, much like from within the Everfree. But this time there was power with them. They were ravenous like the surge of power that flowed through his clasp, scraping, clawing to be free. Like one imprisoned for millenia.

“Windswept?” Dominus voice barely reached his ears. “Are you alright?”

Another link was split, extinguishing the rune.

Windswept was having difficulty staying aloft. He put free hoof to the other, trying to outlast another surge of power. Small wisps of smoke began to rise from his trapped hoof.

“I've... almost... got it!” Windswept barely managed to say between clenched teeth.

Windswept's head felt like it was about to split in two. Surge after surge assaulted his body. Link after link split upon the tomb door.

“Almost there Windswept!” Silver called out.

But Windswept didn't hear. All he could hear was the calling of the creature within the tomb, half words and whispers swirling around him like a cyclone. All he could feel was the burning power that coursed through him. Just...a little...more...

A monumental surge wracked his senses, screams of the voracious consciousness filling his ears. Windswept's vision threatened to leave him. Barely aloft, all he could see was his hoof planted against the door, and the power that coursed through it.

The remaining links exploded. The lightning crest upon the tomb door cracked.

Windswept's hoof fell from the door. He began to plummet to the floor, his wings spent. But he was immediately caught by Dominus and Silver. The two slowly lowered him to the floor.

“Outstanding my young friend,” Silver said.

“I haven't the words,” Dominus said in awe.

Windswept seated himself upon the ground, cradling his head. “D-Did it work?” He asked slowly.

“Yes. Are you able to proceed?” Silver asked.

Windswept grunted, slowly standing on all fours. “Y-yeah. Just a little dizzy that's all.” Not to mention my hoof is gonna be sore for a while, he added mentally.

“Excellent,” Silver said with a grin. He turned to two Guards. “Open the tomb.”

The two complied, if a bit hesitantly. Once at the front, both pegasi placed their forehooves upon the circular door, and pushed.

Almost effortlessly the door pushed inward, followed by a solid thud. Immediately there was a hiss, as centuries old dust and stale air rushed into the room. The door rolled away on its own, revealing only darkness.

“Finally,” Silver whispered.

Windswept gazed into the darkness. A shiver ran down his spine.

Wordlessly the Tempest Guard, led by Silver Wings, Windswept and Dominus, entered the tomb, disappearing into the darkness. The door rolled shut with an echoing thud.

For a moment it was quiet in the chamber.

In the corner of the room, a faint silver glow began to grow. Pieces of the fallen armor began to move of their own accord. Slowly, they began to move toward the silvery glow that hovered about the pegasus helm. The helm then floated into the air, almost as if it were observing the pieces below. The rest of the armor began to position themselves below the helm, forming the rough skeleton of an armored pegasus.

There was a flash of silent light. The metallic pegasus had reformed, complete with lance upon its back, and the broken blades upon its hoof. It turned to the tomb, but instead of rushing forward, it gave pause.

A smokey shimmer suddenly appeared next to the titan. The ghost pegasus looked up at the armor.

Immediately the metallic pegasus snapped to attention, rendering a crisp salute.

The ghostly pegasus returned the salute in kind. It then gestured not toward the tomb, but the entrance from which the Tempest Guard had come.

The metallic pegasus looked at the exit for a moment and nodded to the ghost. It then galloped off, disappearing into the hall.

The ghost watched the armor disappear. It then silently approached the tomb. Sadness still marked its face as it gazed at the broken bodies of the metal pegasi and the shattered runes upon the door. It then strode forward into the tomb door, disappearing altogether.


Wave Chill and Whiplash lazed on a cloud at the outskirts of Ponyville by the edge of the Everfree Forest.

“Stuck on the reserve squad. Ponyfeathers!” Wave Chill swore.

Whiplash looked to his fellow Wonderbolt. “Hey it's not that bad. Besides, what we've got going on out here is important too. We've haven't had a legit op in a long time.”

Wave Chill cocked a brow. “Just what exactly do we have going on out here?” He thrust his hoof out toward the Everfree.

Whiplash rolled his eyes. “Okay, so there's not a lot going on right now, but you remember what happened last night. I don't think we've seen the last of those rogue pegasi.”

Wave Chill shrugged. “Whatever you say. I just think we'd be better off back in Cloudsdale or Los Pegasus preparing. Things are about to get nasty between Canterlot and Cloudsdale.”

“Maybe, though I don't think anypegasi wants a fi-whoa,” Whiplash said abruptly, stopping mid sentence. “What does that look like to you?” He pointed toward the center of the forest.

Wave Chill stood upright, looking toward the forest. Distant storm clouds billowed about near the center of the Everfree. Faint flashes came from within, followed by distant rumblings of thunder.

“Eh, I wouldn't worry about that too much. Apparently the Everfree has all kinds of weird stuff that happens around it. Like random storm clouds that manifest on their own. That's why they have an entire Severe Weather Team posted in such a small town.”

Whiplash stared for a moment at the billowing storms, involuntarily shivering. “I guess. Just got a bad feeling for some reason.”

Whiplash suddenly groaned aloud, putting a hoof to his head.

Wave Chill moved closer to his comrade. “Hey, you alright?”

“Yeah, just got a headache...” Whiplash mumbled, still rubbing his temple.

“Ah come on, don't tell you're...” Wave Chill began to sway slightly. “Y-you’re feeling...a-all weird?” He fell upon his haunches next to Whiplash.

“You too?” Whiplash said, looking to his friend.

“Archon's spit,” Wave Chill cursed, putting a hoof to his head. “This can't be real. Flight sickness?” He looked incredulously to Whiplash.

“I dunno. But not a word to the Captain. You remember what she said yesterday.”

Wave Chill nodded. “My lips are sealed.”

“Good,” Whiplash said. Besides, it's just a headache. Nothing major, right?

Both pegasi sat in silence, accompanied only by the distant rumblings of thunder.

Ch. 17: Resurrection Part One

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Legacy of the Pegasi:

Ch. 17: Resurrection Part One

Silver light flashed above the Skyfield. They came in random volleys from a massive storm cloud that hovered above the center of the stadium, casting a large shadow over many of the spectators. Those below held their breath in suspense as the lightning flashed silently, no thunder to punctuate the increasing number of jagged bolts. Seconds turned to minutes as the errant bolts streaked forth in all directions from the cloud, scorching the air. The crowd reacted in uneasy admiration, but the violent silence was practically suffocating.

Scootaloo's eyes were peeled to the cloud as she sat unmoving on the edge of her seat. The Wonderbolt's performance had been spectacular so far, a combination stunt rolls, daredevil flybys, dives, and insane precision flying. But for the past ten minutes, nothing had happened. The Wonderbolts had disappeared into the cloud at the end of their last trick, leaving Scootaloo and the rest of the crowd to ponder what was coming next.

Another lightning bolt shot forth from the cloud, the largest yet, straight up into the sky. Scootaloo flinched, still anticipating the boom that never came.

The tension was unbearable. “Come on, this is killing me!” She called out, an excited smile upon her face.

Swift Jet simply smiled at his daughter, nudging her slightly. “Just watch.”

The lightning ceased it's random flashes. Then after only a moment of silence, the cloud erupted. Thousands of lightning bolts streaked from the bottom of the cloud like rain, creating a massive column of light. A split second later, a massive boom exploded, the combination of all the absent barrages of thunder.

Scootaloo was thrown back in her seat as she felt the sonic boom thud against her chest. “Whoa!”

But she had little to time to think on the shock wave. Three trails of electrified cloud shot forth from the top of the cloud at the eruption of the thunder.

A spiral helix of thunderclouds climbed into the sky, a trio of Wonderbolts at the head. Each trail carried a distinct hue to the electrified clouds. The first a fiery red-orange, the second an ice blue, and the third a vibrant white. Higher and higher they climbed, flying dangerously close to one another, all the while maintaining perfect cohesion.

Scootaloo pumped her hoof into the air as the crowd exploded into cheers. “Woohoo! Go Spitfire! Go Soarin'!”

The three Wonderbolts were extremely close together now; so much so that their trails combined as one. Then, they abruptly peeled apart, each shooting evenly apart, creating a wide spiral, each disappearing into the clouds above.

Scootaloo held her breath, never once looking away from where the thundercloud trails disappeared.

A white hued thundercloud trail suddenly burst from the cloud cover. Fleetfoot was at the head of the trail as he dove downward. There were no acrobatics about his descent, only insane speed as he shot toward where the thunder trails of the helix met. A second later his outstretched body cut through the helix.

The entire helix lit up as a vibrant white lightning electrified the twisting cloud trails followed by a massive thunderclap.

Scootaloo nearly leaped out of her seat in a cheer along with the rest of the crowd, but she was premature.

Soarin' blasted across the sky opposite of Fleetfoot, his ice blue trail already halfway from the cloud cover above. A second later he shot through the helix.

The helix trails ignited once more, flashing with the stallion's trademark color. Thunder erupted again, louder this time with a shock wave that pushed Scootaloo back in her seat.

Scootaloo's smile was massive as she frantically searched the sky. “Com'on Spitfire where ya at? Show me what ya got!”

Scootaloo's challenge didn't go unanswered.

Spitfire shot like a rocket from the cloud cover in a vertical dive directly above the helix. Gasps filled the crowd as the audience watched the suicide dive. Scootaloo's jaw was on the floor as she gawked at the impossible.

With her orange-red trail behind her, Spitfire zeroed in on her target. A split second later she blasted through the top of and into the helix. The spiral formation flashed a fiery orange, while similarly colored lightning streaked down the cloud trails, all the while Spitfire flying dangerously inside the cloud formation.

The third, and loudest boom of thunder exploded, nearly throwing Scootaloo about and shaking the cloud grandstand above.

The crowd exploded into cheers at the conclusion of the display, Scootaloo among them.

“Holy Celestia did you see that?!” Scootaloo exclaimed to her father.

“Scootaloo!” Midnight Blossom said sharply.

Scootaloo started to apologize for the swear, but her father cut her off.

“Holy Celestia is right! That was incredible! Can you believe they did a complete helix? With lightning! I haven't seen a move that crazy since I was a colt!”

Scootaloo burst into laughter.

Midnight Blossom simply rolled her eyes with a smile.

Swift Jet laughed with his daughter, ruffling her mane. But despite this, his smile faded. His eyes wandered skyward, gazing beyond the confines of the Skyfield, a small frown on his face.


Soarin', Spitfire and Fleetfoot regrouped in the center of the stadium, hovering above as waves of cheers continued to pour in all around them.

Spitfire pulled her goggles off, resting them atop her head. She made a quick glance toward the disappearing cloud helix, then to the crowd around them. “Not bad gentlecolts, not bad at all.”

“Psshh, easy for you to say. Always hogging the spotlight at the end,” Fleetfoot said.

“If I recall, you had the final leg of that trick at the last show Fleets,” Spitfire shot back with a grin. “Which is also when the bolts set your tail on fire. If you want a repeat at the next show, please, be my guest.”

Fleetfoot shook his head with a smirk. “Low blow Cap'n, low blow.”

Spitfire laughed. “Seriously though, good work.” Spitfire turned to Soarin'. “Right Soarin'?”

Soarin didn't reply. A small frown marked his face as his eyes stared off. However, he quickly shook his head, refocusing on Spitfire. “Huh?”

“I said good job,” Spitfire repeated. She frowned slightly. “You okay? I know that stunt is rough.”

“No, no, I'm good. Just, something doesn't feel right,” he said, looking off again.

Spitfire's frown deepened. “Like from The Trough and Cider? Cause right now I feel fine.” Spitfire looked to Fleetfoot.

Fleetfoot shrugged. “No weird aura thingy around my chest. And definitely not that headache from the Everfree...” he trailed off, shivering.

Soarin' shook his head. “No, just a bad feeling. Nothing concrete.”

“Alright. We've still got Wave Chill and Whiplash covering our backs,” Spitfire said. “Com'on, we've still got a good part of the show ahead of us.”

Fleetfoot nodded, flying off to join the rest of the Wonderbolts, followed soon after by Spitfire.

Soarin' hovered for a moment. His eyes scanned the sky around him. Nothing out of the ordinary stood out against the sky above Ponyville. No threat of any kind.

The stallion sighed, then flew off after Spitfire and Fleetfoot.

Below, the crowd continued to cheer for the Wonderbolts. Apart from them, Rainbow Dash looked worriedly to the sky.


The circular door rolled shut with an echoing thud. Once again Windswept found himself plunged into darkness. But the lack of light was the last thing on his mind.

For a moment all was silent. Windswept held his breath, daring himself to see beyond the darkness. This is what you're here for, this is what you came for. Its all gonna be worth it, he thought. There were no whispers or the choking presence of the Archon's power. Where before it had been overwhelming outside the tomb, now it was starkly absent.

Windswept shivered, swallowing nervously.

Amethyst light abruptly filled the room, pouring forth from the Tempest Guards' clasps.

Windswept's nearly jumped from the flash as the tomb revealed itself. But there was no intricate tomb before him. No skeleton imprisoned behind arcane bars. No statues, no words of warning, no intricate traps or puzzles to delay them. There were four stone walls, a floor and a ceiling in the small square room. No decoration of any kind adorned the chamber. Only a rectangular patch of dirt marked the center of the floor, bordered by black stone.

“This is it?” Windswept said.

Silver Wings walked slowly forward from the group, stopping before the rectangular outline. He gazed at the dirt patch for a moment, then bowed his head reverently. A second later Silver turned to the rest of the Tempest Guard. “He, is here.”

Immediately the Tempest Guard keeled to the ground with heads bowed. Windswept followed suit, if only a bit confused.

Silver addressed the Guard again. “Our moment of triumph is at hoof. Take up your positions.”

Dominus nodded, directing the Guard. Slowly, with an almost reverent gait, they began to break off, circling around the dirt patch.

Windswept stepped forward, joining Silver.

“This is indeed the tomb Windswept,” Silver said solemnly. “Only soil and mud pony runes separates us from the Lord Archon.”

Windswept looked at the dirt patch. The soil was dark and untouched, only a layer of dust upon it. It was as if nothing had disturbed the tomb since its burial. Despite this, Windswept found himself looking toward the stone that bordered the burial site. Each stone was polished, reflecting the amethyst light that abounded in the tomb. But there was more to each stone than their respective sheen. Each bore a distinctive rune in the center, which glowed vibrantly in the darkness.

“You said before that these are Earth pony runes,” Windswept said, gesturing toward the markings. “What exactly are they?”

“A long forgotten and foul language magic of the earth ponies,” Silver replied.

Windswept rolled his eyes at the ambiguous answer. “Yeah I kinda figured that but-”

“They are meant to suppress the Lord Archon's latent magic, to keep him from regaining his physical form. But as you can see from the state of the Everfree, his magic and subconscious have still managed to seep forth. It is only a guess, but I believe Luna's banishment one thousand years ago, followed by Celestia's departure and the subsequent transformation of the forest were not a coincidence.”

“You mean Celestia and Luna's presence held the Archon in check?”

“I believe so. It would explain why Hurricane handed over the castle to those tyrants, though I believe he did not tell them that the Archon resided here, or Celestia would never have left,” Silver said. He smiled lightly. “A critical error on Hurricane's part, but most fortunate for us.”

Windswept nodded. Storming a castle of two residing Alicorns would not have gone well.

Windswept's eyes lingered again on the unassuming dirt patch once more.

The Tempest Guard stood in place around the burial site, each resting on all fours. Their clasps shone in a circle of amethyst light, centered on the Archon's interment. Dominus walked between them, observing the final preparations.

“I have to admit, I'm a little surprised,” Windswept said, turning to Silver. “After everything you told me about the Archon, and everything we've encountered through the castle, this,” Windswept pointed to the burial site, “seems... bare. Insecure.”

“You imagined great chains upon a grand sarcophagus, riddled with traps and ancient curses?” Silver said lightly. “Do not be deceived; the Lord Archon's resting place is indeed a prison. As the greatest being of the sky, a burial within the earth is the antithesis of his spirit, subduing it. Combined with these runes he is rendered dormant. Hurricane knew what he was doing when he enlisted the aid of those cursed mud pony magi.”

Dominus strode up to the duo. “We are ready.”

“Good. Windswept, stand over there please.”

Windswept did as he was told, taking up a position on the right side of the burial site. Dominus stood opposite to him, while Silver Wings posted himself at the head of the interment. Together they formed a triangle around the black rune stones.

Silver spoke up, addressing the Guard. “You are weary. You are wounded. You are battered. But you are also the Tempest Guard. The last remaining legacy of the Lord Archon, the Master of Storms, the Grand Master of our order,” Silver said with a measured tone. He took a moment to observe the Guard. Each stared back in rapt attention.

Windswept could feel the rush of pride fill within him. He didn't need his clasp to tell him the like feelings of his brethren, each bore it upon their face as a badge of honor.

“You have done everything I have asked and more. I now have one final request,” Silver said. “I ask you to lend me your strength, to resurrect the Lord Archon, the lost glory of the Skythan Empire and right the injustices shackled upon the pegasi race.”

The Guard was silent, but their message was clear.

Fulmina Alata!” Silver shouted abruptly.

Fulmina Alata!” The Guard echoed, shouting in unison.

Silver nodded in satisfaction. “So says the Tempest Guard. Focus on your aural link to Dominus, Windswept and myself. We will do the rest.”

Silver turned to his companions, speaking softly. “The Guard will feed us the power required. We must focus it upon the runes, they must be shattered before the Lord Archon can reclaim his body.”

Windswept nodded, mentally steeling himself. Just like with the tomb door, he thought uneasily. Hopefully it will be easier with Silver and Dominus' help.

“Place your forehooves upon the runic stones,” Silver instructed.

Windswept and Dominus complied, moving toward the edge of the polished stone.

Silver looked between his companions. “Are you ready?”

Both pegasi nodded.

Silver momentarily flashed a rare grin. “Today, we change the world,” he whispered to himself, before abruptly shouting aloud. “BEGIN!”

Everything happened at once.

The combined power of the Tempest Guard surged between Windswept, Dominus and Silver Wings, channeling between them. All three nearly toppled from the force alone, but they steadied themselves, maintaining contact with the imprisoning runes. The runes beneath their hooves immediately flashed alight, the golden yellow markings shining vibrantly against the power of the Tempest Guard. They flashed brighter and brighter as time passed, threatening to overwhelm the amethyst light of the Guard as they continued to resist.

The trio of pegasi surrounding the burial site gritted their teeth as the strain intensified.

The rune light throbbed violently in a near blinding light, as electrical arcs crackled and zapped from the edges of the interment. They continued to intensify, jumping and dancing across the burial site, as rolls of thunder came from nowhere, echoing from far above into the chamber. A swirling and howling wind rose up from the center of the chamber buffeting the Tempest Guard, growing in intensity and strength with the violent flashes of lightning arcs and the steady roll of booming thunder.

Windswept braced his hooves against the rune stones, crouching low against the pull of the wind, just as he dodged a random spike of electricity. This is insane!

Against it all, Windswept swore he felt the presence of another, growing with the rolling thunder.

Then it all abruptly ceased.

The light of the runes dimmed to near nothingness. The wind stilled and the lightning disappeared. The echo of thunder in the distance was gone.

It was deathly silent.

Windswept looked confusedly to Silver. “Did it work?”

Silver looked to Dominus for a moment, then back to Windswept.

“I'm not su-”

The chamber was engulfed in a blinding white light, accompanied by a searing heat. A massive lightning bolt erupted from the burial site, blasting the trio of pegasi to the ground. The column of fiery light shot upward into the stone ceiling with colossal force, charring the stone. It then dissipated into the ceiling.

A split second later a massive thunderclap resounded overhead. The booming sound shook the depths of the castle, as several of the Guard covered their ears from the sonic boom. The thunder continued to rumbling and growl, fresh thunderclaps shaking the castle.

Windswept slowly rose to his hooves. His mouth hung ajar as he turned to Silver.

The Captain of the Tempest Guard grinned. “The Lord Archon has awakened. Soon he will be free.”


Whiplash and Wave Chill nearly fell from their cloud as a massive column of lightning erupted from the tower of the Castle of the Two Sisters. The vibrant light flashed against the storm clouds, jagged lightning bolts painting the thunderhead in a sickly amethyst-red.

“What in Tartarus?” Wave Chill exclaimed as he braced against the sudden gale force winds that poured from the Everfree.

Immediately the sky darkened, only a malevolent red hue visible that clung to the late afternoon horizon. The massive thunderhead at the center of the Everfree bulged and expanded violently, surging to encompass the forest in driving rain and murderous volleys of lightning. Thunderclaps rolled again and again, filling the air with ear shattering booms.

In only a matter of seconds the storm had nearly overtaken the Everfree Forest, expanding with unnatural intent.

Wave Chill and Whiplash barely had time to leap into the air as their perch was swept into the storm. Both fought to remain aloft as they were battered by sheets of frigid rain and driving winds.

“WHIP WE'VE GOTTA-” Wave Chill started to yell against the booms of thunder and the roar of the wind, but Whiplash suddenly thrust a hoof toward the upper reaches of the storm.

At first Wave Chill saw nothing in the darkness. A flash of lightning lit up the sky. In that split second of illumination, Wave Chill's stomach turned, filling him with dread. Not one, but three funnel clouds were oscillating within the storm.

The storm surged again with a massive volley of thunder and lightning. The funnel clouds moved with the storm toward Ponyville, each slowly snaking toward the ground.

“FLY!” Whiplash shouted.

Tearing against the wind and rain, both pegasi raced towards the Skyfield.


“Alright, good work so far everypegasi,” Spitfire said, addressing the ring of Wonderbolts that hovered around her. “We've got the crowd really riled up now, lets hit 'em with the finale and call it a day.”

The ring of Wonderbolts all nodded in ascent to their Captain, breaking off into several groups about the Skyfield.

Only Spitfire, Fleetfoot and Soarin' remained as dusk began to creep upon the horizon.

Spitfire smiled with satisfaction, watching the rest of the Wonderbolts take their positions in the air. “I gotta say, despite what's happened the past few days, this still turned out to be one of best shows we've ever done.”

“You know Cap'n, for once you and I agree,” Fleetfoot said.

Spitfire smirked. “Don't think I'm about to let you off the hook after that drunken tirade from last night.”

“I still think I should get a bye on that one since I can't remember a thing.”

“Yeah, yeah, keep trying to play that card,” Spitfire said. She turned to Soarin'. The stallion still looked toward the sky with a slight frown on his face.

Spitfire hovered over toward her friend. “You doing alright Soar?”

Soarin' took a moment before looking to Spitfire. “Sorta. Something still feels off. Almost as if-”

Light flashed against the darkened sky from across Ponyville, followed by a colossal roll of thunder.

Spitfire and Fleetfoot immediately cringed, both struggling in the air.

The stadium reacted as well, the crowd gasping aloud. The assembled pegasi also began to show signs of pain, some flying haphazardly, others cradling their heads in their hooves.

“Hng... not this headache again...” Fleetfoot said, putting a hoof to his temple.

“What's going on?” Spitfire asked through clenched teeth as she fought through the pressure that bore down upon her skull. “Soarin'?”

Soarin' struggled to stay aloft. His wingbeats were erratic as he held his head in his hooves. His head felt as if it were about to split in two.

The malevolent energies of the Tempest Guard flooded around him. But instead of burning him as it had at The Trough and Cider, now it had become a suffocating presence. He could feel a savage drive behind it, unrestrained and carnal. It ravaged his mind.

“S-Spitfire...” Soarin' said weakly, as he tried to reach his comrades. “Something's... wrong...”

“Soarin'!” Spitfire exclaimed, quickly flying over toward her teammate. “What's wrong?” She asked frantically, looking Soarin' over as she helped prop him up.

Soarin' leaned against Spitfire. His head lolled about and his wings continued to flap erratically as the presence continued to flood the air. It was foreign, it was familiar. Dread filled Soarin'. It's the same as from the forest... Immediately a mental spike jolted Soarin's consciousness. Malevolent amethyst eyes bordered by the crackle of lightning flashed in his mind. In that moment, he could feel the rampant and feral presence turn its collective focus upon him.

Soarin's eyes shot open. Oh no.

Soarin immediately pushed himself from Spitfire, fully alert and straining against the willpower that held his mind in a vice.

The cascading rustle of leaves sounded in the distance, driven up by an icy wind that suddenly swept into the stadium.

Spitfire and Fleetfoot looked around worriedly at the telltale sign.

Soarin' looked at his Captain grimly. “Spitfire... we need to get everypony away from here... now!”

Spitfire didn't hesitate. “Fleetfoot!” Spitfire whipped around to Fleetfoot. Her voice was crisp. “Round up the 'Bolts! Evacuate everypony imme-”

A lightning bolt visibly splintered across the backdrop of thunderheads. Thunder immediately followed. The sky rapidly darkened, though the sun had not yet set. On the heel of the winds, it filled the sky with darkened clouds that heralded what was to come. Only a sliver of light persisted at the horizon, sickly and weak against the power above.

All three pegasi looked toward the sky above the Everfree.

“Where in Tartarus did that come from?!” Fleetfoot exclaimed, his jaw ajar as he gazed at the approaching storm.

Soarin's heart stopped as all hope drained from his face. His father's words echoed in his mind. ...It's going to happen again, all of this...

Spitfire broke her gaze from the monstrosity above, wheeling on Fleetfoot. “FLEETFOOT, GO!”

Fleetfoot nodded quickly, then took off in a white and blue blur toward the the nearest group of Wonderbolts.

A single pegasi with a rainbow mane shot forth from the grandstand. Rainbow Dash cut through the wind gusts with practiced skill, closing in on the Spitfire and Soarin'.

“Soarin'!” Rainbow called out through gritted teeth, slowing to a halt before the two Wonderbolts. Pain was etched upon her face, and sweat drenched her coat.

Soarin' turned toward to Rainbow. “Rainbow? What are you doing here? You need to get to safety!”

Rainbow ignored Soarin's concern. “What's happening? I saw... I saw these eyes in my head, and now it feels like something is crushing me... I feel so weak...” Rainbow trailed off, momentarily stumbling in flight as her wings flapped haphazardly.

Despite his own weakness, Soarin' stifled Rainbow's fall, propping her up. “It's the Archon... and the Storms.” Soarin' said between heavy breaths, wincing as the presence continued to bear down upon him.

Spitfire grimaced, putting a hoof to her head. “We've got all the 'Bolts here, maybe we can break up the storm?” Spitfire said.

Rainbow looked at Spitfire like she was crazy. “Not going to happen.”

Soarin' nodded. “Rainbow's right. This isn't an ordinary storm. I think... I think the Archon is with it.”

Spitfire looked confused. She opened her mouth to speak, but another voice caught her attention.

“-PITFIRE!”

Spitfire, Soarin' and Rainbow Dash, still struggling to stay aloft, turned toward the panicked voice.

Wave Chill and Whiplash burst from over one of Ponyville's buildings at top speed. With hooves outstretched, they seemed to be flying for their very lives.

“WHIPLASH!” Spitfire yelled, as the wind gather in intensity. “OVER HER-”

All color left the trio's faces as they looked behind the two scrambling Wonderbolts. A wall of rain was advancing on the two pegasi, moving at an unreal pace as the storm clouds bulged and surged without restraint overhead. Lightning and thunder struck all around as the storm moved to overtake Ponyville and the Skyfield.

The crowd broke out into a panic. Some pegasi began to empty from the grandstand, daring to enter the increasingly violent skyscape and out run the storm. Others descended below, joining the unicorn and earth pony spectators trying to find shelter.

Whiplash and Wave Chill came to a hard stop, fluttering their wings haphazardly. A second later the gathered Wonderbolts were engulfed in the deluge of icy rain and violent winds.

“SPITFIRE, SOARIN' WE NEED TO GET EVERYPONY OUT OF HERE!” Whiplash shouted over the screams of the rain and the rolls of thunder. “THERE'S A-”

The droning sound of a train suddenly manifested in the distance, cutting Whiplash off. In fact, it sounded as if several trains were in the distance, moving toward the Skyfield.

The dread was palpable between the pegasi as they fought against the wind. Each pegasi, a guardian of the weather by virtue of their blood, immediately felt the sudden drop in pressure. The telltale sign only served to feed the nightmare that nopegasi ever wanted to find themselves in.

Lightning flashed, curling around a trio of swirling vortexes that towered into the upper reaches of the super cell.

For a split second, each pegasi was mesmerized by the paradoxical majesty of nature's most destructive force.

Soarin' blood froze as looked on. Tornadoes.

A trio of twisters, snaking forth through the air side by side barreled into the far side of Ponyville at an alarming rate. Lightning erupted from within each, illuminating the swirling clouds. Only half of each tornado was visible, up to the thunderheads above, their lower halves covered by the Ponyville town horizon. However, the sickening crunch of timber, stone and the cloud of debris billowing beneath each said the rest.

“By the Archon,” Wave Chill whispered.

How right he was.

“FLY!” Spitfire yelled.

The pegasi took off toward the grandstand, battling through the winds and driving sheets of rain.

“WE NEED TO SAVE AS MANY AS WE CAN!” Spitfire yelled toward the other pegasi.

However, the storm seemed to have other ideas. The super cell surged forward, two large arms of thunderheads reaching out to encircle Ponyville and the Skyfield. With it came the tornadoes.

The trio of twisters slammed into Ponyville proper. Roofs of homes were ripped from their trusses and cast into the air, becoming meteor like projectiles that bombarded the grounds of the Skyfield. Other buildings were completely obliterated. The first tornado slammed into the very heart of the town, wrenching the steeple from Town Hall in a din of screeching steel and splintered wood. The steeple sailed through the air and barreled through several homes like dominoes, completely demolishing them. The second advanced unimpeded into the residential suburbs, imploding each home it passed over, subsequently scattering the wreckage in a hail of shrapnel. Nothing but concrete foundations were left in it's narrow wake. The last snaked its way around the right side of town into the park, uprooting trees and driving them toward the Skyfield. The tornado moved with astonishing speed, like a soldier rushing to flank its opponent. Without hesitation it rolled over the School House. A moment of crunching timber and shattering glass later, there was nothing left.

Rainbow Dash and Soarin' both winced as the dark power of the Archon surged with the tactical move of the storm around the town. Both looked to one another, their auras linked, the same thought between them.

The storm will trap us.

Soarin's eyes flitted toward the far side of the Skyfield. It was the furthest from the oncoming storm, but the approaching thunderheads were rapidly closing the distance. One tornado on the left, a second on the right, they moved together to cut off the pegasi's escape. They'll never make it! He thought.

Soarin' could feel the alarm from Rainbow as she came to the same conclusion.

“SPITFIRE, THE STORMS ARE MOVING TOO FAST!” Soarin' yelled above the rush of wind, rain and thunder. “WE NEED A COUNTER!”

Spitfire looked to Whiplash and Wave Chill. “I NEED TWO COUNTER CYCLONES AT THE EDGE OF THE SKYFIELD! DELAYING ACTION!”

Both pegasi nodded in unison, breaking out of formation toward the rest of the Wonderbolts.

The howl of the tornadoes behind them continued, accompanied by the orchestra of destruction as the cyclones tore through Ponyville.

Rainbow's worry filled Soarin'. I know it might not work against this storm, the stallion thought, but we've got to do something! Or else it will tear everypony to piec-

“Scootaloo!” Rainbow gasped.

Soarin' jolted as he felt a surreal fear fill him from Rainbow. Images of the young mare powering fruitlessly against the storm filled his mind.

Soarin' turned to Rainbow.

Despite the obscuring rain he could see the fear etched upon Rainbow Dash's face.

Without warning a wooden beam blew past between Soarin' and Rainbow, missing both by inches.

“I've got to find Scootaloo!” Rainbow cried, unfazed by the hail of projectiles that filled the air.

An entire rooftop passed overhead the trio, dropping suddenly before them.

The group reacted on instinct. Rainbow and Soarin' pulled upward, their hooves barely grazing the shingles of the roof, while Spitfire skillfully dove below, rolling from underneath.

“Rainbow wait!” Soarin' called out, still dodging numerous projectiles that fell from the sky.

But it was too late. Rainbow was too engulfed in her worry for her adopted sister. She banked hard toward the ground, soon disappearing into the gray haze of the rain.


Rainbow flew like a bullet toward the ground. Her fledgling aura erupted in protest the farther she flew from Soarin', her headache intensifying. But it was a small price to pay. She had to find Scootaloo.

Wind gusts battered against her body, driving rain-like pellets into her face. She squinted ahead, but was undeterred. With forelegs outstretched she flew overhead the Grandstand, frantically searching for Scootaloo.

Unfortunately the Grandstand had already emptied.

Crap, crap crap! Where could she be? Rainbow thought frantically.

Rainbow continued to hover about over the panicking crowds, trying to pick out the copper pegasus or her parents. But in the chaos below and the storm above, it was like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

“SCOOTALOO!” Rainbow yelled fruitlessly against the noise of the thunder and rain. “SCOOTALOO!”

A large piece of timber suddenly whisked by, nearly clipping Rainbow's wing.

“Gah!” Rainbow exclaimed, stumbling in the air.

Another projectile flew by, just as close and with much more force. The upper section of the statue of Celestia from the Town Square nearly came toppling down upon Rainbow.

Rainbow rolled to the right as the broken statue impacted with a sickening thud into the ground below.

But it was only the first of many. The tornadoes were tearing Ponyville to pieces. Shrapnel spewed into the air threatening the pegasi, while the larger pieces became meteors that rained down on scrambling earth ponies and unicorns alike.

Rainbow continued to zip about, trying her best to weave through the barrage of debris all the while still scanning the ground below.

A large beam spun through the air, aimed for Rainbow's head.

“Woah!” Rainbow said. She somersaulted backward, letting the beam sail harmlessly past toward the ground. However, as she leveled out from her flip, she caught sight of the piece of timber. It was straight on a collision course for a trio of unsuspecting ponies.

Rainbow caught her breath in her throat. Oh no.

Rainbow immediately thrust her wings hard, using the momentum from her flip to shoot her toward the ground. With hooves outstretched and eyes peeled on the trio below, Rainbow beat her wings mercilessly. They already ached from the onset of the Archon's presence, but she didn't have a choice.

Moving at top speed, she gained on the spinning piece of wood, but the ground was quickly approaching. Come on. Come on... FASTER! She mentally screamed.

The trio of ponies turned around just in time to see the projectile heading towards them, but too late to move. The eldest among them, a teenage stallion, turned to cover the two younger fillies.

Rainbow gave one last heave of her wings.

At the last second she snapped her wings shut, dropping just under the beam. With her forehooves wide Rainbow barreled into the stallion. She and the trio rolled several times, finally coming to a stop.

Rainbow lay on her back, looking up at a swirling world of black clouds and lightning. Shakily she rose to all fours, spitting grass and mud from her mouth.

Still swaying slightly and covered in mud, her eyes rested on the large piece of timber. About ten feet away in front of her, it had impacted vertically, burying half of itself into the ground.

Rainbow shivered. “Glad I got those three-”

Rainbow's eyes and ears immediately perked up. She spun around, looking for the stallion and two fillies.

The three were only several yards away, each slowly rising to their hooves.

Rainbow Dash breathed a sigh of relief. Thank Celestia. Slowly she hobbled toward them, trying her best not to wince.

“You three okay?”

The teenager turned around. His eyes lit up when he saw Rainbow. “Rainbow Dash! Y-you saved us!”

“Are you okay?” Rainbow said again with a little more emphasis.

The stallion looked himself over quickly, then to the two younger fillies who were grasping tightly by his side. “We're okay, I think,” the teenager said, looking back to Rainbow.

He's no older than Scootaloo. A dulled panic struck Rainbow again as she remembered her original goal.

“What's your name?” Rainbow asked quickly.

“Red Stone.”

“That was a really brave thing you did there, covering those two. But now I need you to get to shelter. Find Twilight Sparkle. You know who that is right?”

The young stallion seemed confused for a moment at the sudden instructions Rainbow had levied him with, but nodded quickly.

“Good,” Rainbow said, hovering into the air. She stifled a wince. “Tell her this isn't a normal storm, and she needs to come up with some kind of magic barrier shield thingy for the earth ponies and unicorns. She'll figure it out. You got that?” Rainbow said pointedly, resisting the urge to take off right then and there.

The stallion straightened up, no sign of uncertainty upon his face. “Find Twilight, tell her about the storm, get a barrier up. Got it!”

“Good! Now hurry, we don't have anymore time!”

The stallion nodded, taking off toward the crowd with the two fillies on his back.

Rainbow didn't wait. She pushed her wings hard, but they replied in protest. She hobbled in flight pitifully, all the while still looking to the ground.

“Come on Scoots, where are you? Where are you?” Rainbow repeated. A sickening fear welled up in the pit of her stomach, as uneasy thoughts for Scootaloo entered her mind, each worse than the last.

No, nothing bad will happen. Rainbow thought, blinking back tears. I'll find her, and get her and her parents of out here!

A purple mane and copper coat caught Rainbow's eye.

“Scootaloo!”

Halfway across the Skyfield, Scootaloo stood at the bottom of the Grandstand, her parents beside her. All three wore panicked expressions, the same futile and hopeless fear that filled the air from the hundreds of ponies around them.

Rainbow's pace quickened slightly as she thrust her wings as hard as she could, defying all pain. A determined grin found its way to her face as she felt the knot in her stomach loosen. Just get there. Just get there. Jus-

Rainbow's mind went blank as her mouth opened in a wordless scream, her body instantaneously went rigid, as if she had been struck by lightning. Weakness overtook her. Her wings faltered. As she fell from the sky, she caught sight of one of the tornadoes. It radiated with the Archon's power, filling the sky with the poisonous electricity, driving straight through her mind and body.

Rainbow crashed to the ground, landing roughly on all fours. Her body was drenched in sweat and rain. Combined with her crash landing from before and the power that sapped her strength, she could barely keep her head aloft. She strained to see through her mud caked mane, but it mattered little. From the ground Scootaloo was lost to the crowd.

Panting hard, Rainbow put a hoof forward. Slowly and painfully she pulled herself forward through the mud. Her wings dragged alongside, useless.

Come on... Rainbow droned in her mind.

Hoof forward. Pull.

“Come on...” Rainbow growled through gritted teeth.

Hoof forward. Pull.

“Come... on...” She repeated between breaths, tears clouding her vision.

Hoof forward.

But Rainbow Dash could go no further. The last of her strength was gone. Barred from the sky and chained to the ground, all she could was watch as the chaos unfolded around her.


Everything had happened so fast. One moment Scootaloo was cheering the Wonderbolts on. Then there had been flash of light and a massive roll of thunder from across Ponyville, maybe even as far as the Everfree. The crowd had cheered initially, thinking it had been apart of the of the show.

Then all of Tartarus broke loose.

Scootaloo stood in her seat, her eyes peeled to the sky. The storm raced across the sky faster than any storm she had ever seen. The thunderheads were massive, towering high into the upper atmosphere. Lightning snapped and flashed unceasingly throughout, lighting the backdrop of the storm with a sickly red-amethyst hue.

Gasps and worry filled the crowd as a strong headwind of chilled air blew through. The earth ponies and unicorns ran hastened for cover, but seemed only inconvenienced. Their pegasi brethren seemed to think otherwise, taking to the sky.

Scootaloo felt the same.

“Dad?” She asked worriedly. “What's going on?”

But Swift Jet didn't answer.

Scootaloo looked to her father. “Dad!” She exclaimed, rushing to his side.

Swift Jet slumped in his seat, breathing heavily, with a hoof to his forehead.

“I'm... I'm o-okay...,” he said through labored breaths.

“No you're not!” Midnight Blossom said quickly. “We need to get you-”

“We need to get out of here!” Swift Jet said suddenly, jumping from his seat.

Scootaloo shirked slightly from her father's sudden outburst. “W-why? What's w-wrong?” She asked, her speech wavering slightly.

The wind picked up in intensity, seconds later driving sheets of rain upon the entirety of Ponyville and the Skyfield.

“Because of the Archon! Because-”

Swift Jet suddenly stopped talking. His face went pale, his eyes still as he looked toward the sky over Ponyville.

Scootaloo felt an involuntary shiver run down her spine. A drop in pressure? But that could only mean...

Scootaloo's eyes lit up as she turned toward the Everfree.

Only a glimmer of light persisted against the storm, but the violent bursts of lightning lit up the sky. A trio of tornadoes droned in the distance at the far edge of Ponyville. Immediately a thunderous crash boomed across the expanse, as the massive vortexes simultaneously bore down upon the town.

“WE NEED TO GO NOW!” Swift Jet yelled against the howling wind and booming thunder.

The sight of the tornadoes had immediately hastened the plod of the earth pony and unicorns filing out from the Grandstand. But now the crowd had erupted into chaos, jamming the exit way from the stands with panicking ponies. Scootaloo could only watch, trapped at the top.

“Midnight! Get on my back!” Swift Jet ordered, lowering down on all fours.

“Swift! You're not well enough! We'll-”

“I will be strong enough! We can't wait!”

Midnight nodded quickly, hastening onto her husband's back.

Swift Jet turned to Scootaloo. “Stay as close as possible? Understand?”

Scootaloo stared at her father for a moment. His eyes were almost frantic, but there was a resolve in them she hadn't seen before. Sweat had already matted his mane and she could tell he was in some kind of pain. She nodded quickly.

“Follow me!”

Swift Jet flourished his wings, awkwardly lifting into the air. For a moment it seemed as if he would fail, losing his gained altitude. But with an enraged snarl he righted himself, battling against the winds.

Scootaloo leaped into the air, staying close to her father, in case his wings failed him.

Swift Jet led the group up over the crowd, clearing the Grandstand, but it was slow going. Scootaloo could tell he was straining just to stay aloft.

Sickening crunches and violent screeches reached Scootaloo's ears. Her eyes turned toward Ponyville.

The tornadoes ripped through the town. A debris cloud was beneath each, as the trio devastated structure after structure. Shrapnel filled the sky, raining down to the earth. Seconds later the tornadoes had cleared the town with astonishing speed, two of which seemed to be banking around the outer edges of the Skyfield.

Scootaloo's eyes went wide. T-they're going to trap us?!

“D-DAD!” Scootaloo yelled fearfully, pointing toward the circling tornadoes.

Swift Jet barely had time to glance to the horizon. Immediately he cried out in pain, his wings flapping haphazardly. He began to spiral, falling out of the sky.

At the same time Scootaloo felt a sharp pain cut through her mind. Immediately she could feel her body begin to weaken. Dark memories from outside the The Trough and Cider flashed through her head.

Scootaloo forcefully pushed the pain away at the sight of her parents. Instead she dove underneath her father, trying her best to prop him up.

“GRRRAAAHHHHHH!” Scootaloo screamed as she flapped her wings furiously. She could feel her wings spasm and burn as she tried to fly for two adult ponies against the storm winds. Their fall slowed, but the ground was still fast approaching.

The trio banked hard to the left, half gliding, half falling behind the Grandstand. Scootaloo snarled against her burning wings, pulling with all her might to level out. “Dad?! DAD?! PULL UP! PULL UP!”

Scootaloo snapped her wings shut, and covered her head, bracing for impact.

Scootaloo slid awkwardly into the ground. Immediately she felt her father fly forward off her back, but it was a fleeting thought. Covering her head and keeping her wings tightly shut, her body skidded for several feet before rolling over several times to a stop.

Scootaloo's opened her eyes. Thankfully she felt no lasting pain from her landing beyond scrapes and bruises. Immediately she jumped to her hooves.

“MOM?! DAD?!” She screamed, whirling about in place.

Scootaloo's parents lay on the ground next to the base of the wooden framework of the Grandstand. Slowly, Midnight rose to her hooves. She was covered in mud and was favoring her left hoof, but otherwise seemed unhurt.

Swift Jet remained upon the ground, eyes shut.

Scootaloo rushed to her parents' side. “D-dad?” Scootaloo asked fearfully. She stood very still, wide eyes locked on her father.

The stallion's chest rose and fell faintly.

Midnight Blossom was only a touch better. Her face was pale as she shakily put a hoof to Swift Jet's muzzle. “Swift Jet, please, say som-”

Scootaloo felt a sudden warmth touch her mind. Immediately relief washed over her, a grateful smile upon her face. “Dad!”

Midnight Blossom looked confusedly to Scootaloo for a moment, then turned in shock when she felt movement at her hoof.

Swift Jet opened his eyes. “I'm-I'm okay...” he said weakly.

Tears formed at Midnight's eyes as she carefully embraced her husband. “Thank Celestia!”

Scootaloo scrambled to her father's side, opposite her mother. “Dad? Are you okay? Can you stand up?”

Swift Jet nodded. “My wings are no good, but I can stand,” he said, as he reached for his daughter. With his wife and daughter's help, he slowly stood up, his wings limp at his sides. His hooves still wobbled slightly, and he leaned against Scootaloo with his hoof over her back.

Swift Jet smiled weakly. “Scootaloo, what you did back there... for your mother and I... I'm so proud of you.”

Scootaloo could feel herself well up with pride, but it was fleeting as thunder boomed overhead.

“Dad, we've got to get outta here.”

A massive pillar of purple light shot up into the sky. But it wasn't lightning.

The trio all looked toward the beacon. Scootaloo gazed at the light that continued to spiral into the sky when thought struck her.

“We've got to get to Sweet Apple Acres!” Scootaloo said, urging her father onward. “That light is Twilight's magic! It's a signal!”

Others unicorns and earth ponies seemed to think the same, crowds rushing toward the light.

Midnight and Swift Jet didn't question their daughter's reasoning.

Swift Jet tried to rouse his wings, but they remained limp at his side. “My wings are gone,” Swift Jet said painfully, as he forced himself to saunter forward. “Quickly, we'll get there on hoof!”

Midnight Blossom opened her mouth, but she didn't get the chance to speak.

Blinding light and searing heat erupted within a fraction of a second, immediately followed by a massive thunderclap. Sound and sight were gone, as the trio of ponies were thrown to the ground from the magnified lightning bolt.

Scootaloo rolled over for the second time, pulling herself up from the mud. Stars filled her eyes, only blurry splotches of gray and green in her sight. Ringing filled her ears, muffling the sound of pouring rain, thunder and the cries of the crowd.

She wobbled in place, trying to regain her balance. Stumbling to and fro, she scanned the ground around her, but there was nothing. Mom and Dad? Where are Mom and Dad?! She thought fearfully.

Slowly the ringing in her ears receded. With it came the crunching and snapping of timber and the screeching of twisted metal.

Scootaloo whirled around.

Swift Jet and Midnight Blossom lay at the base of the Grandstand, seemingly unconscious. Above them a gaping, charred wound cut through the upper reaches of the Grandstand, splitting the structure in two. The lightning strike was so large that instead of a sliver slicing through the beams it had vaporized a large, wide section of the structure, leaving the upper portions of the Grandstand unsupported.

Immediately wooden beams at the top pulled from their steel fastenings, tumbling downward in cascading crashes as the Grandstand began to collapse.

Scootaloo's heart stopped. She ran toward her parents. “MOM! DAD!” She yelled against the new storm that boomed before her.

Both of her parents stirred slowly, as smaller flaming chunks of debris fell around them.

Scootaloo dug her hooves against the ground as hard as she could. “MOM! DAD! GET UP!”

Larger pieces of the Grandstand impacted dangerously close to Swift Jet and Midnight Blossom. Fires erupted around the two, built upon the flaming debris that crashed downward, both ponies oblivious to the threat.

Scootaloo's heart pounded as she pushed herself harder than she had ever run before. Her eyes remained locked solely on her parents. Fireballs crashed into the ground around her as she ran toward the chaos in front of her. Adrenaline fueled her as she dodged left and right, reacting to the projectiles that impacted around her.

Seconds later Scootaloo skidded to a stop next to her parents, nearly falling over. “MOM, DAD!” She screamed, shaking her father's body. Desperation filled her voice as her eyes flitted between her parents and the carnage above that was about to envelop them. “WAKE UP! WAKE UP!”

Larger and larger pieces of the Grandstand crashed to the ground, building the fire that was quickly turning into an inferno.

Tears filled Scootaloo's eyes. “MOM! DAD! YOU'VE GOTTA WAKE UP!” She began pulling at her parents, but she didn't have the strength to move either.

Swift Jet's eyes slowly opened.

“Scootaloo... are you okay...?” Swift Jet said groggily.

The larger support beams of the Grandstand groaned loudly, snapping and popping.

Midnight Blossom stirred, awakening. “Scoots, honey are you... are you okay...?”

Scootaloo stifled the tears that welled at her eyes. “We've got to go!” Scootaloo hurried to her father's side, pulling his hoof across her back as she tried to lift him to his hooves. “The Grandstand is coming down on top of us!”

Shrieks echoed from above, as metal brackets and fastenings were torn asunder.

Swift Jet's head lolled about. “What... what are you... talking a-about?” He said between gasps, falling in and out of consciousness.

Larger flaming pieces of timber fell downward, shaking the structure as they tumbled to the ground with tremendous force.

Midnight Blossom only fared slightly better. She struggled to her hooves, swaying slightly as she put a comforting hoof to Scootaloo's back. “Swift,” she said, her voice just a whisper. “Follow Scootaloo.”

Scootaloo urged her father and mother forward. “Com'on we've gotta run! Or else-”

A massive groan of snapping wood and twisting metal enveloped the trio.

Scootaloo looked up in horror.

Wooden trusses and beams severed, succumbing to the pressure from above. Debris plummeted through the rafters of the Grandstand, demolishing the wooden skeleton. Fires raged unrestricted throughout. The entire structure shook, as the upper sections of the structure collapsed with astonishing speed.

There was no time to escape.

Scootaloo felt her father suddenly push himself from her side.

All weariness and fatigue was gone from the stallion. Focus returned to his eyes as he stood upright and at the ready, an almost supernatural aura about him. A sudden warmness overcame Scootaloo, His eyes flitted up toward the collapsing Grandstand then to Scootaloo.

Time slowed. Tears came to Swift Jet's eyes as he smiled sadly at his daughter.

The chaotic barrage of the collapsing Grandstand drove onward. Seconds remained.

Realization overcame Scootaloo as she looked on in in horror at her father. Dad, no!

Swift Jet lunged toward his daughter. In the blink of an eye he grasped Scootaloo with both hooves and threw her away with incredible strength.

Scootaloo's body flew through the air. Tears filled her eyes as she looked on at her father and mother. A second later the Grandstand collapsed, stealing away the two ponies that meant most to Scootaloo in barrage of timber, fire and smoke.


Rainbow disappeared into the storm. Soarin' immediately felt the strain between them as their aura's waned, bombarded by the flood of the Archon's corrosive presence. His headache intensified, as did the drain on his body.

“Soarin' let her go, we've got to get to the others!” Spitfire said.

Soarin' grimaced, but he continued alongside his Captain, even as the aura around him still reached out in protest for Rainbow Dash.

In the short time since their appearance, the tornadoes had covered a frightening amount of ground. The two outermost had cleared Ponyville, taking wide, banking turns toward the Skyfield. The third neared the edge of town, a solid line of destruction through the middle of Ponyville left in it's wake.

By this time the super cell of the thunderstorm had overtaken the entirety of Ponyville, the Skyfield and surrounding airspace completely. The remaining light had been snuffed out, replaced by freezing wind and rain, and the continuous barrage of thunder and lightning.

Soarin' and Spitfire raced across the sky, crossing above the Skyfield. Looking ahead, Soarin' caught sight of what appeared to be two smaller cyclones on the far side of the Skyfield. In spite of everything, Soarin' allowed himself a small smile. Way to go Wave and Whip!

The artificial cyclones spun in place, kept stationary and at the ready by the tireless efforts of rest of the Wonderbolt Squadron.

Fleetfoot met Soarin' and Spitfire, hovering in place sporadically. Blood poured into his right eye from a large piece of wooden shrapnel that was embedded above his brow. Despite this he greeted his comrades with a determination.

"We're ready Spitfire!"

Spitfire nodded grimly. "Good work. With any luck, this will give us the window we need."

“At the rate those tornadoes are moving, our timing will have to be perfect,” Soarin' said.

Spitfire grinned. “I guess its a good thing we're perfect.”

A large, sickening crunch sounded behind the Wondebolts. Soarin' and Spitfire whirled around.

The last tornado chewed into Quills and Sofas, rapidly peeling away at the structure. The tornado was relentless, engulfing the building in its wake. A second later an explosion of shattered wood erupted from the base of the cyclone.

But instead of advancing directly into the heart of the Skyfield and its trapped spectators, the tornado stopped, spinning in place. In fact all three had ceased their approach, forming three points of a triangle outside the Skyfield.

Soarin', Spitfire and Fleetfoot stared dumbly at the impossible.

Blood curdling screams erupted across the Skyfield as every pegasi cried out in pain.

Soarin' reeled from the Archon's power. It had intensified. No longer did the Archon's power flood the air. Instead Soarin' could feel the dark power generate from each tornado and abound between them like ethereal lightning bolts. Every pegasi within was trapped.

The tornadoes began circling the Skyfield, compressing the Archon's power in one massive swirling vortex. The first was rapidly approaching the far edge of the Skyfield.

"Spitfire, the tornado is moving toward the Skyfield! We need to-"

"No, no NO!" Spitfire yelled in fury.

Soarin forced himself to focus on his Captain. Immediately he understood.

The Wonderbolt cyclones were failing. No doubt those inside had lost their collective wingpower with the sudden surge of the Archon's power.

No! Soarin' thought. He chased after Spitfire.

Spitfire disappeared into the first cyclone. Soarin' mimicked her, driving his wings hard as he forced his way through the swirling wall of the second.

Immediately Soarin' was caught in the current. His wings flailed awkwardly in the wind, buffeting his body. Once, twice, three times he spun around the funnel. Come on, come on, come on! He drummed in his head, trying to regain control.

Soarin's Wonderbolt training took over as he finally righted himself inside the vortex. Immediately he pushed his wings hard with the current. Get everypegasi in unison, stabilize the funnel, Soarin' thought, his Wonderbolt training droning in his mind.

The other Wonderbolts were erratic within the funnel, each trying to right themselves. Whiplash had already found his current, but couldn't pull the rest of his struggling teammates into his wake.

Gritting his teeth, Soarin' began to push harder. With each flap of his wings he pulled farther and farther ahead of the cyclone's current. But it was slow going, and he still did not command the current enough for his teammates to fall in behind him.

Out of the corner of his eye, Soarin' could see one of the tornadoes approach the Skyfield. It's not working! Soarin' thought. In his weakened state he couldn't summon the strength to tame the cyclone. Even his new found powers, erratic at best, were gone, suppressed by the Archon's presence.

I need help! He thought desperately.

A familiar silver glow suddenly appeared around his chest. Wha...? but I thought...

The visible manifestation of Soarin's aura hung faintly around his chest. But it was small and dull, nothing like it had been at The Trough and Cider. Tiny amethyst sparks erupted at its edges.

How is this going to help?

Suddenly other faint glows appeared within the cyclone. Reds, yellows, blues and greens faintly appeared among his fellow Wonderbolts. Streams poured out from them, touching upon his own.

His mind was clearer, more focused. He could feel the strength of his fellow Wonderbolts. It wasn't the same as Rainbow's presence, lacking a raw power and her distinctive flavor. But combined it was just enough to dull the grating drain of the Archon's presence.

With renewed vigor, Soarin' felt a strengthening in his wings. With each flap he pulled farther and farther ahead. Soon he had wrested control of the cyclone.

The first tornado was nearly upon the Skyfield. Scores of pegasi had already escaped the storm thanks to Fleetfoot, but the window was rapidly closing.

I just need to get the rest of 'Bolts. Soarin' thought, gritting his teeth.

The streams disappeared from view.

Yet Soarin' still felt the power of his allies. Confused he looked down to his chest. Colorful tethers still attached to his aura. Instead they all trailed behind him.

Soarin' looked back.

Every goggled Wonderbolt met his eyes. At their head was Whiplash, a green aura at his chest, grinning and leading the group in perfect unison within Soarin's wake.

Soarin' returned his teammate's smile.

Another tether abruptly touched his aura. Desperation and determination, but not his own rushed through him. So why did it feel so familiar?

Soarin' looked once more to his chest. A fiery orange stream was barely touching his aura, flailing wildly about from outside the cyclone.

Soarin's eyes widened. Spitfire!

He could see the singular valiant orange aura, like a tiny beacon against the backdrop of the other cyclone.

Soarin' looked back to Whiplash. I've gotta help Spitfire!

Whiplash threw an exaggerated salute, almost as if he had read Soarin's thoughts.

Soarin' didn't think twice. Timing his spin within the vortex, he flung himself like a slingshot out of the cyclone and into the other.

Soarin' sailed into the cyclone, rolling just overhead of Spitfire. For a split second she looked up in disbelief. Soarin' simultaneously felt surprise and relief course from her aura.

But he hadn't succeeded yet. Still moving at supernatural speeds, Soarin' nearly tumbled out of cyclone, barely catching the sporadic current that Spitfire and the rest of the Wonderbolts were struggling to maintain.

Immediately Soarin' thrust his wings forward, ignoring the burn in his muscles. Within a matter of seconds he had stabilized the funnel, Spitfire and the rest of the Wonderbolts in tow behind him.

Alarm once again rushed through Soarin'. Fear and hazy images of pegasi being decimated by the oncoming tornado flashed through his mind. It was almost like a premonition through the eyes of another. Again they were not his own, but familiar...

Fleetfoot!

He didn't have time to think. Soarin' flapped hard, bursting forth from the top of the cyclone. As he flew between the two cyclones he could see the dark tornado nearly upon the pegasi's only escape.

“NOW!” Soarin' yelled at the top of his lungs.

Soarin's aura flared, sending a jolt down the orange and green tethers. A split second later the Wonderbolts jettisoned, 'firing' the counter cyclones on a crash course with the tornado.

The dual cyclones moved with remarkable speed, far beyond that of any normal tornado, skirting just along the outer edge of the Skyfield. Though they were much smaller in size than the Archon's tornadoes, they carried a tremendous momentum with them.

The cyclones tore across the landscape, aggressively racing toward the massive tornado against the backdrop of the red horizon. It would be close. Very close.

Soarin' didn't wait. Immediately he flapped his wings, braving the gusts of the storm's headwind, heading straight for Fleetfoot and the waiting group of pegasi, all the while keeping the racing cyclones in sight. “Please let this work,” he silently prayed.

Spitfire flew up astride of Soarin'. Soarin' could feel abject bewilderment from her as she looked at him, but she didn't show it. “We need to move fast! The cyclones hit and we push everypegasi through!”

“Tracking!” Soarin' replied.

The two raced forward. Soarin' could make out Fleetfoot darting to and fro at the head of a large mass of pegasi, easily several hundred. Even over the clatter of the storm, Soarin' could hear the gasps of panic and confusion from the crowd.

Soarin' clenched his jaw. They would get them out. Every. Single. One.

Seconds later the duo reached Fleetfoot.

Fleetfoot hovered toward Spitfire and Soarin'. “We're ready to go!

No sooner had Fleetfoot finished speaking than a colossal scream erupted across the skycape.

The artificial cyclones rammed fiercely into the tornado, opposite winds grinding and tearing away at one another. Erratic wind gusts whipped out into the sky miles out, shrapnel ripped apart from the very essence of the cyclones and tornado. The invisible projectiles flew into the gathered pegasi, tearing through the formation. Several younger pegasi lost their uneasy hover, nearly plummeting to the ground below, were it not for a last minute dive from trailing Wonderbolts.

Every pegasi clutched their ears against the banshee scream that filled the air.

Soarin' held his head, but it wasn't just for the screams. He felt a sudden jolt within his mind, painful at first, then suddenly subdued. The Archon's power lessened, blunted by the cyclones. The linked power between the tornadoes had been disrupted.

The two cyclones continued their valiant resistance against the tornado, slowing its advance to a standstill. But it would only last so long.

The screeching continued, but Soarin' could make out Spitfire's voice commanding the group, reaching above the clash of titans.

“GO!”

The assembled pegasi didn't need to be told twice. As fast as they could, Ponyville's pegasi population flew through the opening.

But the escaping pegasi would not be able to get out under their own wing power. Thankfully, they wouldn't have to.

Hovering in place, Spitfire began flapping her wings hard. Soarin' joined her on the left, with Fleetfoot on her right. Together, they brandished their wings about, building a strong tailwind behind the escaping pegasi.

The crowd began to move more quickly, boosted through the gap.

The screeching turned more sour as one of the cyclones weakened against the onslaught of the tornado. Slowly the Archon's twister began to creep forward once more.

Soarin' beat his wings harder, sweat dripping from his mane into his eyes. His wing muscles burned in protest, but he ignored it, focusing on the escaping pegasi and the faraway glint of light on the horizon.

Any second now, any second now... he thought.

A blur of blue and gold streaked past the trio. Then another. And another. And another. They blew by the crowed of pegasi, carrying with them a thunderous momentum behind them, so much so that the air shook from their sheer velocity.

The rest of the Wonderbolts blew by at high speed. Each flew by into the momentum that Soarin', Spitfire and Fleetfoot had started, amplifying it and carrying it ahead. Within a matter of seconds the first of the escaping pegasi had made it outside the storm.

The ear shattering scream of the cyclones lessened. The first had succumbed to the Archon's tornado. The mighty twister's advance doubled as it bore down entirely on the last cyclone.

Wonderbolts continued to speed by, coming around again and again to make successive passes. The plan was working, half of the group had made it outside the boundary of the storm.

Soarin' didn't let up his wing beats, straining to stay in unison with Spitfire and Fleetfoot. Out of the corner of his eye he could see the Archon's tornado ravage the Wonderbolt cyclone. If it holds at this pace we'll be alright...

An enraged scream erupted across Soarin's mind at his last thought. Pure malice and hate at the defiance. Dread filled the Wonderbolt as his eyes went straight to the clashing vortexes.

The tornado surged forward in a wave of the Archon's power. With an ear shattering screech it devoured the cyclone in a single rotation.

The low train-like drum of the tornado intensified. No longer held by the Wonderbolt's cyclones, it immediately raced forward with remarkable speed, directly toward the escaping pegasi.

Time seemed to slow. Soarin' abandoned his wing beats, instead reaching forward. Fleetfoot's body somehow found its way in front of Soarin', holding him back, yelling something into his ear. Spitfire whirled around, waving her forelegs and yelling at the approaching Wonderbolts. Soarin' couldn't hear it. He could only watched helplessly.

The tornado seamlessly passed into the last quarter of the escaping pegasi. There was no grinding or tearing of brick and mortar. There were no screams. There was no resistance of any kind as the brightly colored pegasi were soundlessly sucked into the tornado, disappearing behind the veil of the black swirling wind. Lightning bolts intensified dramatically within the tornado, filling the air with the smell of burnt fur and charred flesh.

Soarin's eyes were locked onto the tornado. Fear, grief, anger and terror rolled into one tirade filled him.

The tornado turned abruptly, swirling toward the trio.

“Argh!” Soarin' abruptly clutched his head with his hooves.

“You who would dare...” said a deep and echoing voice within his mind.

Soarin' didn't think, he couldn't think. The swirling and catastrophic power of the Archon was upon him in one towering presence, crushing his consciousness.

The tornado was moving at full speed now, directly for them. As it closed the gap, the Archon's dark presence weighed heavier and heavier upon the stallion.

Soarin' suddenly came to a fearful realization.

“Fleetfoot! Spitfire! Get away from me! Stay away!” Soarin shouted at the other Wonderbolts, suddenly bolting toward open space.

“Soarin'! Wai-” Spitfire began to shout, but her voice was lost to the storm.

The tornado twisted violently, as if in a rage, volleys of lightning spewing forth. Defying all laws of nature, it banked from Spitfire and Fleetfoot and chased after Soarin'.


“Come. ON!” Rainbow Dash screamed.

But her cry was useless against the pressure of the Archon.

Somepony. Anypony. I need help! Rainbow thought desperately.

A red aura suddenly appeared around Rainbow's chest. It was small and faint. Sparks erupted fiercely at its edge, almost as if it were fighting a losing battle.

The glowing haze took Rainbow by surprise. This thing? But how?

Colors began to dot Rainbow's vision in the distance. Through the veil of the pouring rain Rainbow could make out what appeared to be differently colored aura's, similar to hers, darting to and fro throughout the sky.

Suddenly Rainbow felt a tug at her chest. Looking downward, she saw her own aura pulse, sending out waves into the air.

The bouncing lights froze in midair.

Rainbow Dash stared into the sky, her eyes locked on the lights. There are more?

Abruptly the wind picked up. It whipped more violently, pulling at Rainbow's wings. What sounded like the sound of a crashing waterfall gradually built behind her.

Rainbow knew it before she looked. Craning her head to the side, her eyes confirmed her fears.

The third tornado had cleared Ponyville. It was only several hundred hooves away from Rainbow, and she was directly in its path.

Adrenaline raced through Dash. “NO! Come on Rainbow Dash!” She snarled at herself. She pulled herself onto her forehooves, barely holding herself up. Her head hung pitifully as she tried to steady herself. She let out a low growl. “You can't let Scoots down!” Tears mixed with the rain on her cheeks. “GET...UP!”

But her hind legs refused to move, along with her useless wings that remained splayed at her side.

The tornado roared behind her. A darkened presence entered her weakened mind. Its words cut through her consciousness. “Traitors and defilers...”

The words fell upon Rainbow like a hammer upon an anvil. An incomprehensible and colossal presence, like the entirety of the tornado, bore down upon her. Her vision blurred as she felt herself succumbing to the dark power. No, I... I can't...

The whipping winds were like claws, slashing and grasping at Rainbow. Slowly her body began to drag against the ground toward the tornado.

A sudden warmness suddenly coursed through her body. Rainbow's eyes shot open as a renewed strength banished the Archon's power. The red light around her chest pulsed, glowing brighter. Her body responded.

Immediately Rainbow shot forth from the ground into the air.

The tornado roared, as its rotation increased, chasing after the blue pegasus.

Still flying at top speed Rainbow glanced down at her aura. It seemed stronger, holding its own as its edges sparked violently against the Archon's power. More importantly there were what appeared to be three ghostly tethers attached to it. One was a fiery orange, the second pure white, and the third a golden yellow.

Rainbow tried not to panic as grisly images from alien horror movies filled her mind. What the heck are tho-

“Rainbow Dash!”

Rainbow looked around, trying to pinpoint the voice.

Spitfire suddenly appeared, rolling above Dash and pulling alongside her. Fleetfoot and Surprise appeared as well, flying astride their captain. Fleetfoot had a nasty gash above his eye, but if he was in pain he ignored it. Surprise was completely expressionless. She almost looked catatonic, with unfocused eyes, her mind elsewhere.

Rainbow's eyes immediately went to the orange aura that hung around Spitfire's chest. From it came the orange binding that linked the two pegasi. Fleetfoot and Surprise held the remaining two cords.

Even from other pegasi? Not just Soarin'? Dash thought.

The Wonderbolts seemed unaware of their assistance.

“Rainbow, we've gotta get out of here!” Spitfire yelled over the winds. “There's nothing more we can do!”

“Where's Soarin'?”

“The tornado attacked him! He's leading it away from Ponyville!”

Rainbow's mind raced. A tornado after Soarin'. Another behind her. And a third-

Swift Jet! Scootaloo!

“Rainbow we need to go! There's nopegasi left to save!”

Images of Scootaloo staring down a massive tornado filled Rainbow's mind. “I've got to get Scootaloo! She's still out there!”

Immediately the tornado behind the pegasi roared with greater intensity. Rainbow could feel the Archon's focus zero squarely upon her through the vortex.

Spitfire's eyes widened. “Scootaloo's still here?” She said shakily.

A massive pillar of purple light shot into the sky, rotating as it pierced through the storm clouds. Originating from Sweet Apple Acres, it stood as a beacon against the storm.

Rainbow looked to the tornado behind her. A grim reality set in as Rainbow made up her mind.

“Find Scootaloo! She might be near the Grandstand” She pointed toward the beacon. “Get her to the beacon! Twilight's there, she'll know what to do!”

Spitfire looked warily between Dash and the tornado. “What are you going to do?”

The swirling wind of the tornado grew louder as it gained on Rainbow.

“Promise me you'll find her!”

Spitfire didn't hesitate. Rigid determination marked her face as she she peeled off without a word toward the smoke that billowed from the Grandstand, Fleetfoot and Surprise following after.

A calming relief washed over Dash as she watched the Wonderbolts disappear into the storm. Spitfire would find Scootaloo.

A quiver of fear welled up in Rainbow. She has to.

A vicious lightning bolt zapped by Dash's side, singing some of her smaller feathers.

Rainbow whipped her head around.

Lightning erupted all over the tornado, spinning like an electrified buzz saw. Larger bolts shot forth, intent on striking the lone pegasus.

Rainbow grinned cockily. “You can't hit what you can't catch!” She yelled defiantly.

The Archon's tornado surged in response, firing off several electrical projectiles.

Rainbow skillfully dodged the bolts, then put on an extra burst of speed. She could feel the waning strength from Spitfire, Fleetfoot and Surprise, but their presence alone had been enough, even as the Archon's radiating power began chip away at her aura. I don't have a lot of time before this thing saps my strength again, I just need to lead it away... worry about the rest later, she thought darkly.

Errant lightning bolts flew past Rainbow, forcing her to dodge and roll. The tornado still followed her, but it showed no signs of stopping, still sapping away at the pegasus. I can't outrun this thing forever! I need-

The second tornado caught her eye. It blazed a mad trail away from the Skyfield, into the empty prairies outside Ponyville. Flashes shot from the vortex, almost as if it were attacking something.

Rainbow gasped. “Soarin'!”

Her aura flared violently. But it wasn't from the Archon's attacks. Instead it reached for Soarin', desperately trying to seek out, to reach the stallion.

Something was wrong.

Rainbow Dash didn't question ethereal mist. She pushed her wings harder, despite the creeping weakness that threatened them. If I can get to Soarin', she thought, dodging another volley of lightning bolts, we can make it.


Scootaloo groaned aloud. She was on her back. Or, at least she thought she was. It was as if a haze clouded her thoughts.

What happened? She thought.

The first thing she felt was the rain drops upon her face. Slowly her eyes opened. Only hazy grays filled her vision. Soon her other senses refocused. Thunder reached her ears along with the continuous strikes of lightning. A low, rushing sound of wind sounded in the distance. Scootaloo's mind told her it was important, that it was something she should know, to be wary of, but couldn't tell her why. With her ever shifting focus, the alarm fell to the recesses of her mind.

Instinctively, she started to roll over, trying to pull herself up. The first thing she felt was the distinct pain that shot through her back. It was soon followed by sharp spasms that coursed through her wings. She rolled onto her stomach, her wings splayed at her sides.

Scootaloo gritted her teeth. As the pain subsided, her thoughts began to clear. I was flying though the air...

She tried to stand up. Her right forehoof cried out in protest as she stepped forward. Stifling a cry, Scootaloo fell once more to earth, splattering into a mud puddle.

Smoke reached her nostrils. Smoke? Why would there be sm-

Scootaloo flinched as her mind raced backward. The show. The storm. The Grandstand on fire. Scootaloo's eyes shot open. MOM AND DAD!

Scootaloo thrust herself forward with her wings. Pain shot through them to her back, but it was an afterthought. She swayed to the left and right momentarily, before roughly landing into an awkward sprint. She could still feel the wound on her hoof, but adrenaline had deadened the pain.

Scootaloo raced forward. A wall of billowing smoke met her eyes as she sprinted forward. She could see the twisted skeletal remains of the Grandstand reaching forth above the smoke cloud.

The sight of the destroyed structure only pushed Scootaloo harder onward. Her heart pounded in her chest. With each beat she could feel her body fade away to the numbing adrenaline, leaving only an ironic combination of focus and unbearable tension.

Scootaloo disappeared into the smoke. Her vision was reduced to only a few hooves, but she didn't slow. Several times she tripped on debris from the Grandstand, nearly falling to the ground. But she refused to stop, her momentum pushing her awkwardly forward from half falls as she weaved past burning obstacles in her path.

Larger pieces of debris appeared, and in greater abundance as Scootaloo ran onward. The shadowy silhouette of the ruined Grandstand appeared through the smokey haze. Scootaloo's heart skipped a beat.

“MOM! DAD!” She called out, hastening toward the looming shadow. Her chest tightened. Thoughts of her parents compelled her forward, set starkly against the reality of what she might find.

The smoke cleared.

Scootaloo's body was on autopilot as her eyes digested the scene before her.

The backside of the Grandstand had collapsed upon itself. Broken beams dangled from the skeleton of the structure. Others lay in burning piles on the ground. Altogether the debris had collected in a mountain at the base, a collection of protruding trusses, snapped timber and twisted metal. At very the edge of the wreckage, entrapped within, were two ponies.

Scootaloo rushed forward. “MOM! DAD!”

Scootaloo skidded to a stop next to the wooden cage. Unfortunately, the thick beams that trapped her parents wouldn't allow her to pass; she could only manage to push her hoof through. Swift Jet and Midnight Blossom lay within the pocket, miraculously their bodies had not been completely crushed by the collapse. Swift Jet lay splayed out on his stomach, one of his rear hooves buried under a pile of timber. Midnight Blossom lay partially beneath her husband, his hooves still covering her protectively. Both were unresponsive to Scootaloo's calls.

The rhythmic rushing of wind in the distance increased in pitch and volume, but it didn't register with the young pegasus.

Scootaloo frantically thrust her hoof forward, reaching for her mother. “Mom? Mom? Wake up! Wake up!”

Several times Scootaloo's hoof brushed against her mother's. The elder mare's ear twitched.

A wavering smile came to Scootaloo's face. “Mom! Mom! Can you hear me?!”

“...Scootaloo...” Midnight Blossom said weakly.

Scootaloo finally grasped her mother's hoof. “Mom! I'm here. Are you okay? Please tell me you're okay!”

Midnight Blossom began to rouse herself. Beside her Swift Jet began to shift about as well.

Scootaloo's eyes perked up again. “Dad? DAD! You're awake! Are you okay?”

Midnight Blossom pulled herself to her haunches. She turned toward her husband. “Swift,” she said, carefully trying to wake her husband. Her eyes glanced to his crushed hoof. A tiny gasp escaped her mouth.

“What's wrong?!” Scootaloo panicked, straining to see.

Midnight Blossom slowly looked around. She breathed slowly, calming herself. “It's okay Scootaloo, nothing's wrong,” she said a calm voice. She forced a smile at her daughter. “Everything will be okay.”

Scootaloo nodded obliviously. “Yeah, I know 'cause I'm gonna get you both outta here!”

Scootaloo began to pull at the nearest beam, huffing and puffing as she exerted at the large piece of timber.

Small tears crept down Midnight's face.

“Scootaloo.”

Scootaloo stopped pulling at the cage. “Dad?” She put her hoof through once more, reaching for her father.

Swift Jet coughed harshly. He shifted slowly in place, gingerly scooting closer to the edge of the cage. “Scootaloo, you need to get to the beacon.”

Scootaloo was still for a moment, almost comprehending what her father was telling her. She abruptly began pulling at the cage again. “N-no,” she said, her voice wavering slightly. “I-I'll get you out of here!”

“Scootaloo.”

Scootaloo felt her father's hoof upon hers. His worn and weary face appeared between the timber. “Scootaloo, my leg is broken and trapped. And you can't get us out-”

“Y-yes I can!” Scootaloo yelled as tears appeared at her eyes. “I-I'll get help!”

Before her parents could stop her Scootaloo ran a small distance away.

Growing winds had cleared the smoke. “HELP! SOMEPONY HELP ME!” Scootaloo yelled against the thunder. She looked about desperately, but the landscape was barren. All had fled for the refuge at Sweet Apple Acres.

Scootaloo stumbled about aimlessly, her breaths growing frantic.

“SOARIN'!”

No answer came.

“SPITFIRE!”

Nopegasi appeared.

“RAINBOW DASH!”

But Rainbow was nowhere to be seen.

The wind picked up abruptly, gusts catching Scootaloo's wings and pulling her about haphazardly. With it came the distinctive high pitch of rushing wind, now much louder.

Scootaloo twisted her head toward the sound. Her jaw dropped as renewed fear washed over her.

One of the three tornadoes barreled toward the Grandstand. It had torn through the Ponyville park, cutting between the rest of the town and Sweet Apple Acres. Nothing was left in between as the swirling black mass ravaged across the open field. The tornado moved with astonishing speed, and at less than a mile away; only minutes remained for Scootaloo.

Scootaloo ran back toward her parents. She slammed into the barrier that held her parents, ruthlessly attacking the wooden beams. “The tornado's coming this way!” Scootaloo yelled at her parents before they could utter a word. “I'll...I'll get you out!”

“Scootaloo!” Midnight Blossom said in a panicky voice. “Honey you need to get to safety!”

Tears dropped from Scootaloo's eyes as she pull all the harder at the ruins. “NO!” Scootaloo bellowed. “I won't... huff... I won't... huff... I-I can't” Scootaloo panted between her tearful pleads, slowly weakening against the unmoving cage.

Scootaloo gave one last fruitless tug, then collapsed against the wooden beam with a whimper. Renewed tears trickled down her face as she began to sob.

“Scootaloo, you have to go.”

Scootaloo looked up through tearful eyes. Her father and mother looked back, each holding her hoof. Silent tears filled their eyes, but they looked lovingly on at their daughter.

“I can't... I can't leave you!”

The tornado bellowed louder. Large pieces of debris began to fall from the sky, whipped about by the tornado. The Grandstand shook, groaning loudly as loose pieces of timber were ripped asunder and thrown to the ground.

“Scootaloo, listen to me,” Swift Jet said in a calm but very steady voice. “You need to find Rainbow Dash and Soarin'. Things are going to change for you, and you need to be ready.”

“Dad, I'm...I'm s-scared... I can't...,” Scootaloo cried, looking between her parents. “Not without you!”

Midnight rubbed her daughter's hoof. Tears still came from her eyes but she remained steady. “Scootaloo, there's nothing more you can do! You...you must go!”

Swift Jet smiled at his daughter. “We couldn't be more proud of you Scootaloo...” A glowing blue mist began to build around Swift Jet's neck. Slowly it floated from him to Scootaloo.

“W-we love you Scootaloo...” Midnight said weakly.

“I...I lov-”

The screeching of the tornado intensified. Only a few hundred yards separated it from the Grandstand.

The wind began to tug at Scootaloo's small frame. Horrified, she looked with tearful eyes between her parents and approaching vortex.

Swift Jet closed his eyes. His aura visibly pulsed between himself and Scootaloo, sending out a wave.

Scootaloo immediately felt a presence, a strength build within her. She could feel it comfort her. In that same moment it reached forth to the sky.

The Grandstand shook violently as the outer winds of the tornado began to take hold.

“MOM! DAD!” Scootaloo screamed against the storm, trying to hold onto her parents.

A fiery orange orb appeared against the backdrop of the storm, just outside the wrath of the tornado. The faint outline of an ethereal tether flickered like a spider's web between it and Swift Jet's aura. A second later the outline of a pegasus began to take form.

Swift Jet smiled faintly, tears running down his cheeks. His aura pulsed once more, before departing completely to his daughter.

Scootaloo felt the aura pulse. She looked between it, her parents and the approaching pegasus. Realization and sorrow overtook her as she looked to parents. No!

Swift Jet and Midnight Blossom looked back smiling weakly with tear filled eyes. Holding onto one another, they let their hooves fall from Scootaloo.

A split second later Spitfire zoomed by, grasping Scootaloo and carrying her away.

The image of her parents smiling at her burned into Scootaloo's mind. Seconds later the tornado engulfed the remains of the Grandstand in a crumbling cascade of splintering wood and twisting metal.

“NO!” Scootaloo screamed, reaching forth and trying to flap her wings. But it was no use. A towering presence overshadowed her, forcing its way through the mystical power that she had received. Battered and weakened both physically and mentally, she blacked out under the strain, but not before a deep and malicious voice filled her mind.

“Apostates will perish...”


Soarin' flew into the vast expanse before him. Despite the physical pain throughout his body and the continued pressure of the Archon's power, he took solace in the fact that the tornado no longer threatened Ponyville.

Just keep flying, get as far away as possible, he drummed in his mind.

Eventually his body would give out and he would succumb to the tornado. That much he knew. It was already obvious that this wasn't a normal tornado, and to expect it to dissipate on its own was foolhardy. Fighting the monstrosity was obviously out of the question. But I've got to do something! Those crazy pegasi are still out there!

But no option presented itself to Soarin'. He could only hope for a miracle.

More somber thoughts came to Soarin'. Images of Rainbow, Scootaloo and Spitfire. The Wonderbolts. Please let them be safe, he thought.

Gradually his eyes began to fade in and out of focus. His wings sporadically lost their rhythm, their endurance all but exhausted. The Wonderbolt heaved heavy breaths as he tried to simply maintain his distance from the giant behind him.

Lightning bolts shot past, intent on downing the pegasus. Soarin' dodged and rolled, but his focus was wavering.

Soarin' gritted his teeth mentally cursing himself. Come on Soarin', get your ass in gear! Spits wouldn't tolerate lazy flying like that! I'm better than this!

Downplaying the situation oddly made him feel better.

Another lightning bolt whizzed by, singing his right leg.

“Agh!”

The sudden shock threw Soarin' as his wings sputtered out of rhythm.

The tornado gained on the Wonderbolt, like a predator that sensed its wounded victim.

Soarin' regained some of his momentum, but the lightning strike had sapped his already failing strength. His head lolled about as he tried simply avoid being devoured by the twister. His aura was nonexistent, feeble and weak as dark words and half mutterings of the Archon filled his mind. It was only a matter of time.

Then, quite abruptly, Soarin' felt his aura jump. Instead of languishing against the power of the Archon, something else seemed to have caught its attention.

A sliver of hope entered Soarin's mind. What could breach the power of the Archon when it radiated so closely behind him?

Soarin's silvery aura appeared once more. It was bright and full, sparks erupting at its edges.

A familiar strength came to Soarin'. His body began to feel stronger, more resilient. He flapped his wings harder, pushing beyond the power of a normal pegasus. Slowly the poisonous thrum of the Archon's presence faded.

Soarin' grinned as his aura eagerly reached outward. Immediately it returned with the joyous, competitive and spunky presence that only one pegasus had.

Rainbow Dash flew into view, several hundred hooves to his left. Behind her trailed one of the other tornadoes.

Soarin' frowned slightly. While Rainbow's presence was welcome, he hadn't anticipated that she would be in the exact same situation he was.

Soarin' furrowed his brow. Doesn't matter, we can make it now. We have to.

“Soarin'!”

Rainbow rolled over the stallion, coming up astride of him. Her red aura glowed brightly around her neck.

“Rainbow Dash! Thank Celestia you're okay!”

Rainbow smiled briefly, but it soon disappeared as additional lightning bolts flew by.

Both pegasi looked behind them.

Both tornadoes still trailed the pegasi. Then without warning, Rainbow Dash's pursuer banked hard, directly into the first tornado. Immediately the two combined, surging into massive vortex the likes of which neither pegasi had ever seen.

The effect was immediate. Not only did the tornado double in size, the power of its winds ramped up dramatically and the fury of the lightning that spewed forth intensified. No longer divided between the two, the Archon's presence bore all the harder upon the fleeing pegasi.

Instinctively, Rainbow and Soarin' put on a burst of speed to avoid being engulfed by the expansion of the tornado.

Thankfully, Rainbow and Soarin's resolve held, withstanding the increased pressure of the Archon.

“Ah ponyfeathers!” Rainbow swore. “I didn't see that one coming!”

“Don't worry about it!” Soarin' replied. “We can fight it now!”

“How?”

“We put on a burst of speed, get some distance, and with a little help from these,” Soarin' pointed to his aura, “we pull a counter cyclone to tear this bastard apart!”

Rainbow nodded solemnly. “Let's do it.”

Without a word both pegasi shot forward with an astonishing burst of speed. Seconds later the two were more than a mile away from the storm.

For a moment, both pegasi simply hovered in place. An awkwardly peaceful lull settled as the two took a moments reprieve in the peaceful sky that existed outside the storm. It stood in stark contrast with the violence and destruction before them.

“Are you ready?” Soarin' asked.

Rainbow looked on toward Ponyville. For a moment she didn't reply, looking absently on at her home. The super tornado still raced after them, while the second made its way toward Sweet Apple Acres and the purple beacon that emanated from it.

She turned to Soarin'. “Yeah.”

Soarin' nodded. “Alright, let's-”

A massive column of light erupted into the sky.

Both pegasi looked toward the Everfree forest. The column of lightning flashed continuously, twisting violently at the origin of the storm. Massive rolls of thunder came across the landscape in waves.

Then, as abruptly as it had appeared, the pillar of lightning disappeared.

“Soarin', look!”

Soarin' looked toward where Rainbow's hoof pointed.

The massive super storm began to retreat. As quickly as they had invaded Ponyville, the large thunderheads rolled back toward their point of origin in the Everfree, almost as if they were called back to their home.

Both pegasi turned to the tornado.

No longer did the vortex pursue them. As the thunderhead retreated, the tornado began to dissipate.

Without warning Soarin' felt a hammer come down upon his mind. Again and again it pounded away with the Archon's final assault.

Rainbow flinched in like fashion.

Soarin' strained to keep his eyes open.

The tornado's dark swirling form became more transparent. Two amethyst-red eyes appeared behind the fading veil, flashing venomously at the two pegasi.

“All hail Skythus...”

The last hammer fell. Both Rainbow and Soarin' nearly fell from the sky, their linked auras barely holding against the onslaught.

Then, it all ceased. The tornadoes retreated soundlessly into the thunderheads above. In a matter of minutes the storm rolled back completely into the Everfree Forest. Free from clouds, a late afternoon sky returned along with the setting sun.

Soarin' and Rainbow Dash could only hover in place without a word, left in the sudden stillness and the destruction of Ponyville before them.

Ch. 18: Resurrection Part Two

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Legacy of the Pegasi:

Ch. 18: Resurrection Part Two

Soarin' looked grimly ahead as he pushed through the dull throb that had steadily grown in his wings. With the disappearance of the Archon and the storm, his aura had subsided and with it the adrenaline rush that had so graciously assuaged his wings. As a result, his flying was erratic at best, dropping randomly in altitude and swaying left and right. But he resisted the urge to glide out the journey.

Beside him, Rainbow Dash was of a similar state, her brow furrowed in concentration even as her wings fluttered awkwardly.

Soarin' was about to call out to her, when Dash's face suddenly contorted into pain, followed immediately by her wings locking up.

Soarin' nearly dove after the pegasus, but Rainbow was a skilled flier. She forced her wings out to the fullest extent, putting herself into a glide before she spiraled out of control. Though it was quite painful as she forced her cramping wings to remain steady, she was able to safely guide herself to the ground.

Soarin' breathed easier. This mare is going to give me a heart attack.

Soarin' landed next to Dash on the muddied path to Sweet Apple Acres.

“You okay Dash?”

“No time. Come on, we have to find Scootaloo and the others!” Rainbow snapped off, galloping down the path.

Soarin' chased after, thoughts of Spitfire and his fellow Wonderbolts coming to mind. Thoughts of his teammates injured wormed their way into his mind. Fleetfoot's wings broken. Surprise bloodied and bruised. Spitfire buried in the mud, her body deathly still, wings twisted and-

No! Soarin' shook his head, pushing the thoughts away. The thudding of his heart slowed as an uneasy calm returned to him. Even so, worry still floated about his mind. Spits, so help me if you're hurt...

Soarin' caught up to Rainbow, both pegasi running side by side.

Twigs and branches littered the path before them.. Several larger limbs had fallen across the way, ripped ruthlessly from nearby apple trees.

The two pegasi rounded a sharp turn in the path. A large apple tree lay across the path. Exposed roots at the base of the tree jutted into the air, beneath them a large gaping hole in the earth. Apples lay strewn about.

Both pegasi leaped over, undeterred.

The two neared the farm. The stone head of an earth pony from one of Ponyville's fountains appeared in the middle of the path, half buried into the earth. The chiseled happy face of the decapitated pony looked straight ahead at the two approaching pegasi.

Rainbow slowed slightly, surprise on her face. However, it only lasted a moment, as she sped up once more.

A minute later the iconic red barn of Sweet Apple Acres came into view.

Rainbow Dash and Soarin' skidded to a stop at the gate.

Soarin' had never been to the famous farm before, but he guessed the sight before him was not a common occurrence. Ponies filled the entire farm, as if the entire town had found refuge there. Those that were uninjured were gathered in open space in the front of the barn. Those less fortunate were housed in the barn, now a makeshift hospital, complete with doctors and nurses shuffling about frantically.

Guilt suddenly overcame Soarin'. Thoughts of pegasi swept away by the tornado; the smell of burnt fur and flesh.

“Get out of the way!”

Rainbow and Soarin' abruptly jumped off the path.

A large sand colored stallion barreled past, pulling a cart behind him. In the cart rode Nurse Redheart and two other nurses from Ponyville General. The trio looked ragged and tired, complimented with tears and blood stains upon their uniforms. Several stretchers were hastily latched to the side of the cart.

The cart swerved violently around the sharp turn in the path, riding on two wheels before slamming to the ground once more and disappearing entirely.

Galloping hooves against mud sounded. Soarin' turned once more to the farm.

Rainbow Dash ran at a dead sprint toward the herd of ponies.

“SCOOTALOO!” Rainbow yelled, as Soarin' ran once again to catch up with the mare.

“Rainbow wait!”

Rainbow didn't respond. Nor did she even seem to acknowledge Soarin's presence, or the other ponies around her for that matter.

Another pony drawn cart raced ahead from inside of the barn, pulled by a orange earth pony mare.

“SCOOTAL-” Rainbow abruptly stopped. “APPLEJACK!”

Applejack skidded to a halt, the cart behind her threatening to upend. “Rainbow Dash, thank Celestia you're alright!” Applejack exclaimed, pulling her friend in a quick hug.

Rainbow smiled weakly. “You too AJ. Do you know if Scootaloo made it here? Please tell me you've seen her!”

“Miss Applejack we need to go now!” A unicorn doctor sitting in the cart said tersely.

Applejack cringed. “I gotta go Dash; seconds are counting here!” She began to pull away toward the gate.

Rainbow looked incredulous. “But I have to find-!”

“Look for Twilight! She'll know!” Applejack called over her shoulder, before racing down the path and disappearing around the turn.

Rainbow weaved about the chaotic crowd, pushing up onto the tips of her hooves as she tried to see above the heads around her. “TWILIGHT!”

Soarin' pushed his way through through the crowd, finally reaching Rainbow's side. Scanning the crowd, he spotted the purple unicorn speaking with the mayor underneath a tree at the edge of the clearing.

“Rainbow! Rainbow!” Soarin' said firmly trying to get the mare's attention. “RAINBOW!”

“WHAT!” Rainbow shouted, rounding on Soarin' fiercely. Frustration and irritation were at a boiling point on the mare's face.

“Twilight's over there!” Soarin' said calmly but firmly.

Rainbow's face immediately softened as she turned toward where Soarin' was pointing.

Soarin' was ready this time. Both he and Rainbow galloped forth from the crowd toward the unicorn and earth pony.

Soarin' and Rainbow skidded to a halt in front of the two ponies.

“Twilight!”

Twilight didn't look from her clipboard as an involuntary look of irritation came over her. “Not now Rainbow!” She said automatically.

Rainbow's jaw dropped.

Soarin' was stunned. Are you kidding me?

The unicorn turned once more to Mayor Mare. “Fluttershy is assisting medical personnel, Rarity is helping house those who lost their homes,” Twilight rattled off.

“Um, Ms. Twilight, Ms. Das-” Mayor Mare interjected.

“...Pinkie is taking care of the foals and Applejack is on ambulance duty.” Twilight finished, lowering her clipboard. Weariness overcame her, matching her mud stained coat and frazzled mane. Worry marked her face as she looked to the ground. “I still haven't heard from Rainb-”

Twilight's eyes shot open as she straightened up, her head snapping toward Rainbow and Soarin' “RAINBOW!”

Twilight leaped toward the pegasus, enveloping her in a hug. “You're okay! Both of you! Thank Celestia!”

Soarin' nodded to the joyous unicorn. “Relatively speaking.”

A reluctant and somewhat distracted smile came to Rainbow's face, but a smile nonetheless.

“Thanks Twi,” Rainbow said, as Twilight released her friend. “Glad to see you and everypony else is doing okay.”

“Yes we're fine, for the most part. Thank you for sending that messenger. As soon as I sent up the signal everypony made a beeline for Sweet Apple Acres. Most of the town is here.”

Soarin's eyes dropped. Most everypony. Not everypegasi.

“So that means Scootaloo is here?”

Rainbow's suddenly hopeful voice pulled Soarin' back. But his eyes went to Twilight when the unicorn didn't immediately reply.

A sad look overcame Twilight as she began to fidget with her hoof.

Soarin' was shocked. No. No! Not Scootaloo! He could feel a welling of shame and frustration within him as his mind turned over memory after memory. She wasn't in the group of pegasi we evacuated! She couldn't have been! Doubt creeped into his mind.

Rainbow's face did a one-eighty. Her voice quavered slightly as she took a tentative step towards Twilight. “She... she made it right? I sent Sp-”

“Spitfire brought her in. She's alive,” Twilight said finally, looking toward the ground.

Soarin' and Rainbow breathed a sigh of relief.

Twilight was silent, her eyes still downcast.

Soarin' frowned. Something still bothered him despite the news. Something Twilight hadn't said.

Soarin' stepped forward. “Twilight, what happened?”

Twilight looked to the two pegasi. Sadness still marked her face.

Soarin' studied the mare's face. She was wracked with sadness. But it wasn't for herself. Not for them. Soarin' had seen it before. Pity and sympathy were all that came from Twilight.

Soarin's eyes widened as he suddenly understood. “Oh no,” he said softly.

Rainbow's smiled lessened as her head snapped between Soarin' and Twilight. “What's wrong Twilight? Is she hurt? Is it her wings? Did she-”

Twilight let out a heavy sigh as she wearily fell to her haunches. “She was alone.”

Rainbow looked confused. “What?”

Twilight looked up to Rainbow and Soarin'. “Scootaloo was alone when Captain Spitfire brought her in.”

Soarin' saw the cascading realization hit Rainbow, as her face fell. A second later she looked up directly at Twilight. “Where is she?”

“They're out at the gazebo in the apple orchard.”

Rainbow didn't wait. Immediately the mare galloped off into the orchard.

Soarin' gave chase after her, afraid of what he and Rainbow might find.


Soarin' and Rainbow weaved between the large apple trees that made up the orchard. Unfamiliar with the Apple family's land and constrained by the fading light, Soarin' was forced to lag slightly behind Rainbow as the mare blazed the trail ahead.

Though neither spoke, Soarin' could see the rigid determination on Dash's face as she drove onward. Minutes later the two had cleared the rows of trees, entering into a small clearing.

A small pond was at the center of the glade. Next to it stood a circular, white gazebo. Deep bench seating for ponies to sit on all fours ringed the interior of the shelter. Seated inside were two pegasi, one a fiery yellow, the other a rustic copper.

As Soarin' and Rainbow neared the structure, the two figures came into better view.

Spitfire and Scootaloo sat facing toward the approaching duo, Spitfire on the left, Scootaloo on the right. The Wonderbolt Captain's face was bare, the mask portion of her uniform loose around her neck, joined by her worn goggles. Her exposed coat and mane was matted with sweat, complimenting her weary and tired eyes. Her wing, battered with mismatched and missing feathers, was outstretched to Scootaloo beside her. As Soarin' drew closer he could see the sad expression on Spitfire's face as she watched over Scootaloo.

Scootaloo leaned against Spitfire, resting beneath the Wonderbolt's outstretched wing. She seemed to shake slightly with her head downcast between her forehooves.

A pang of sympathy hit Soarin'. Physically Scootaloo looked none different from earlier in the day, save for a dirtier coat and mane, but Soarin' couldn't shake the sense of frailty and vulnerability that poured from her.

Soarin' blinked. Seated in place of Scootaloo was a small blue colt with a navy mane. The Wonderbolt remained, but this time it was an elder stallion that comforted the younger pegasus. Soarin' blinked again. Spitfire and Scootaloo were seated before him once more.

Soarin' swallowed hard. A hauntingly familiar tension pulled in the back of his mind as a shiver ran down his spine. It was all too familiar.

Rainbow Dash abruptly increased her pace at the sight of Scootaloo. A second later the two skidded to a stop at the edge of the gazebo.

Spitfire looked up at the new arrivals. Her eyes lit up momentarily, smiling weakly at the two pegasi. She began to rise from her seat, retracting her wing, but stopped abruptly. Scootaloo's hoof shifted quickly to Spitfire's, as she looked up to the older mare blankly.

Soarin' caught his breath in his throat. He had expected tears from the younger pegasus, and indeed he could see the dried trails of tears that marked Scootaloo's face. But now there was only a blank, hopeless and lifeless expression on Scootaloo's face. To say it was unsettling was an understatement. And yet, the husk that Scootaloo seemed to have become seemed eerily familiar. Thoughts of the Twin Storms wandered into his mind.

Soarin' mentally pushed against the hazy memories. Not now. Instead they were replaced with anger that threatened to build into a rage. Soarin' clenched his jaw as he tried to calm himself. The cloaked figures from The Trough and Cider flashed through his mind. I'm going to tear them to pieces.

The only saving grace were the pitiful quivers of Scootaloo's body and the firm grip she had on Spitfire's hoof.

Somewhat surprised by Scootaloo grasping her hoof, Spitfire seemed lost for a moment. However, her face softened as she returned the gesture, leaving her hoof beneath Scootaloo's. She settled in her seat once more, re-extending her wing over Scootaloo.

Soarin' glanced to Rainbow. Her face was somewhat pale, as she stared at Scootaloo. Where before Rainbow was near frantic in searching for her adopted sister, she now stood timidly at the edge of the gazebo, at a loss for words.

Soarin' sighed. Neither of them had been prepared to see this.

Soarin' placed a hoof on Rainbow's back, coaxing her forward. Slowly the two entered the gazebo.

Spitfire managed a smile, peeking through the weariness on her face. “You two are okay,” she said, sighing gratefully. “Thank goodness.”

“Yeah, we made it,” Soarin' replied with a weak smile. His face darkened slightly. “Somehow.”

“Yeah...” Rainbow replied absently, still staring awkwardly at Scootaloo. “Somehow.”

Scootaloo's ears perked up at the new voices, but her head remained downcast.

“You okay?” Soarin' asked.

“Me? I'm fine. And so are the rest of the 'Bolts.”

“What about...” Rainbow began to speak, then closed her mouth. She grimaced slightly, nodding at Scootaloo.

A sorrowful look overcame Spitfire. She shook her head silently.

Rainbow cringed, bowing her head. She pounded her hoof against the floorboards abruptly.

“You two stopped the tornadoes?” Spitfire asked, looking between Soarin' and Rainbow.

Soarin' shook his head. “No. We just... outlasted them. One minute that super tornado was chasing us, and then the storm just...” Soarin' trailed off, at a dead end. The storm had them on the ropes. Why had it suddenly disappeared?

“I don't know what it did,” Soarin' said finally. “But we know where it came from.”

“And we know what we have to do,” Rainbow suddenly spoke up.

Soarin' looked to Rainbow. Her eyes were red and still rimmed by tears. But her face was resolute and determined.

Spitfire nodded, briefly reflecting Rainbow's sentiments. Slowly she began to stand.

Scootaloo stirred, looking up at Spitfire uncertainly.

Spitfire folded her wing, smiling at the younger pegasus. “Scootaloo, I've got to go. But you're not alone here,” Spitfire said, looking to Rainbow.

Immediately Rainbow rushed forward, seating herself next to her sister.

Scootaloo swallowed hard. She looked between Spitfire and Rainbow Dash. Slowly, she let go of Spitfire's hoof.

Spitfire started to stand up, but Scootaloo abruptly jumped up, pulling the Wonderbolt into a hug.

Soarin' could see Spitfire was struggling to maintain her composure. She closed her eyes for a moment; Soarin could tell she was fighting against tears. Spitfire took a deep breath as she returned Scootaloo's embrace. “You'll be okay kiddo.”

Scootaloo released Spitfire, settling under Rainbow's wing. Sadness still overshadowed her, but Soarin' thankfully noted that there seemed to be a little more life in Scootaloo's eyes.

“We'll be gathering in front of the barn,” Spitfire announced, looking to Rainbow. “One hour.”

Rainbow nodded curtly.

Spitfire sighed, then turned about, leaving the gazebo.

Soarin' took a moment to look at Scootaloo. We'll stop them Scootaloo. I promise, Soarin' thought. He then rejoined Spitfire.

Spitfire was silent next to Soarin' as the two Wonderbolts briskly walked back across the glade. But Soairn' could tell the gears were working overtime in Spitfire's head. Her eyes stared ahead like daggers, the rest of her face a stony facade.

“We need to gather the 'Bolts to see where we stand,” Spitfire said. “The healthy fly, the wounded stay back and assist with damage control.”

Soarin' nodded. “We've got all of our tactical gear with us. Should be setup within the hour.”

“Good,” Spitfire said tersely. Her face twisted slightly, as if she where fighting something back. She growled lowly. “I want everything at our disposal when I tear those Celestia-forsaken pegasi to shreds!”

Soarin' frowned, stopping. “I'm with you Spitfire, but we need to do this carefully. That storm and the Tempest Guard are linked. Those guys weren't easy before, and if the was storm any indication, then we could have a lot more on our wings right now.”

Spitfire sighed. “You're right. Can't lose my cool now,” she said, trailing off again. “If I remember correctly taking down an Archon isn't going to be a flight through the park.” She smirked at Soairn'. “Good thing we've got you around, now that you're a regular super pegasus.”

“Wait. You believe the stories?”

“After what happened today? Kinda hard not to.”

Spitfire was silent as her eyes drifted, staring off at nothing in particular. Soarin' could tell something was bothering her.

“The things I saw today, the things I felt...,” Spitfire trailed off, shivering. “It's surreal. It's scary. All the stories from when I was a filly, all true. I don't even know how we're going to fight an Archon. I guess in the end it doesn't matter. We've got to stop them.”

Soarin' nodded grimly. “This could be tricky. With Swift Jet gone, I'm not sure what Rainbow and I will be able to do.”

Of course that was putting it lightly. From the unnatural storm that had ravaged Ponyville to the ancient memories of the chaos that an Archon in the flesh could cause, Soarin' and his allies were woefully outmatched.

Spitfire resumed her tread back through the trees, Soarin' alongside her. “One way or another, we'll do it. I'm not going to let another pegasus get hurt...” Spitfire trailed off again.

Soarin' nodded silently, walking onward. Several seconds later he realized Spitfire was no longer beside him. He turned around.

“Spitfire?”

Spitfire sat on her haunches, staring off in the distance. She looked as if her mind had suddenly come to a horrific realization, her face pale.

The same realization hit Soarin' as he looked on at Spitfire. He had seen that face before. Only on her. But never with something of this magnitude. That prospect scared Soarin'.

Spitfire, don't do this to yourself.

Soarin' jogged over to his friend when she didn't reply. He hoped he was wrong.

Spitfire continued to stare aimlessly off into the distance. Her eyes were at pinpricks, while tears began to form. Her ears were flat against her head and her mouth hung slightly ajar, like some horror was playing out in front of her, her body in a stasis.

Soarin' carefully placed a hoof on Spitfire's shoulder. “Spits?”

Spitfire blinked, some focus returning to her eye. But the tears remained, slowly pouring down her face. She looked absolutely terrified at Soarin'. “Soarin',” she said just above a whisper, as if she were afraid to speak. “I killed them.”

Soarin's eyes widened. “What?”

Spitfire's eyes drifted hopelessly away, as the burden continued to unload upon her. “Everypegasi, everypony... all of them. I should have listened to Rainbow...” Spitfire said shakily. She wrenched her eyes shut. “We should have gone right away... I should have called off the show...”

“Spitfire you can't blame yourself for this. You didn't hurt those pon-”

But Spitfire didn't hear Soarin'. She suddenly straightened up, turning her head toward the path back to the gazebo. A horrified gasp escaped her lips. Her eyes were wide as another realization assaulted her. She looked back to Soarin'.

There was nothing but anguish on her face. Pure sorrow. Never in his life had Soarin' seen her so distraught.

“Scootaloo's parents. I... I...” Fresh tears trickled down Spitfire's face as she struggled with herself.

Soarin' immediately took Spitfire in his hooves forcing her to face him. “Spitfire. Listen to me,” he said firmly. “None of us saw this coming-”

“Yes we did! You did! You said something was wrong!” Spitfire said, choking on her words. Her eyes began to drift as she tried to pull away from Soarin'. “I didn't listen...”

Soarin' didn't let up, forcing Spitfire to face him once more. “No! This. Is. Not. Your. Fault,” Soarin' droned. He could tell Spitfire was clinging to his words, trying to draw some truth from them. “You saved Scootaloo. And just like you said, we're going to stop the ones who did this. They're the ones who did this, not you.”

A gentle silver glow emanated from Soarin's chest, but neither pegasus noticed.

Soarin's words seemed to get through to Spitfire. Her breathing evened out, tears subsiding. She sniffled lightly.

A small, fiery and nearly transparent glow hovered at Spitfire's chest. It brightened ever so slightly, building in the care of the silver aura around it.

“The Wonderbolts need their captain Spits. Because we're going to run those bastards to the pits of Tartarus. You're the only one who can lead us,” Soarin' said. A small smile came to his face. “And I need my best friend to pull me back when I decide to do something stupid like take on a tornado by myself.”

Spitfire smiled weakly. After several minutes she let out a rattled sigh. “Y-you're right. I guess... I guess I'm still taking this all in. Everything that's happened...”

Soarin' released her, letting her get to her hooves. Sniffling she slowly composed herself, rubbing her eyes with her hooves.

Though there were still traces of sadness upon her face, Spitfire stood more firmly, a uneasy calm about her.

“More importantly, we don't have time for this. I need to focus and we've got a job to do,” Spitfire said, her voice more even. “And... I feel...better.” She looked gratefully to Soarin'.

It was only then that Soarin' noticed his aura as well as Spitfire's own. He could feel her own distinctive signature, an ironic combination of resolute will and rebellious tenacity, slowly rebuild under the watch of his own.

Both pegasi slowly turned back to their original course.

Spitfire sniffled again. “I'm sorry you had to see that Soar. I...”

“You feel, Spits,” Soarin' said, not skipping a beat. “It makes you stronger.”

Spitfire cocked a brow at Soarin's reply. “Really? You believe that?”

Soarin' nodded knowingly. He smiled lightly, sensing the beaming warmth from Spitfire's steadfast aura.

“Yeah. I do.”


Soarin' and Spitfire disappeared into the treeline, leaving Rainbow alone with Scootaloo.

Scootaloo leaned against Rainbow, huddled under the elder mare's wing. She was very still, her head still downcast. Rainbow could feel Scootaloo's shaky breaths weakly against her side.

Rainbow looked down at Scootaloo. Normally full of energy and who made a point of hiding her more sensitive emotions, Scootaloo seemed catatonic. To say the sight was unnerving was an understatement.

Rainbow closed her wing tighter around Scootaloo.

She sighed. What was she to do? Every bit of her was willing her to do something, to make this right, to take away the pain that Scootaloo was enduring. But there isn't, Rainbow thought sullenly. I should know that better than anyone.

Silence gave way to the chirping of crickets as the sun began to set. Several magic lamps hanging from the rafters of the gazebo came to life, dimly lighting in interior.

“When I was a filly, a massive storm hit Cloudsdale,” Rainbow said, looking off in the distance.

Scootaloo's ears perked up.

“We were outside, having a cookout. I was practicing hovering while Dad was at the grill while Mom was bringing out food. Next thing I know the sky goes from bright and clear to dark and full of thunderheads.”

Rainbow paused for a moment, lost in the thought.

“We tried to get away, but the wind and lightning were too much, it was too dangerous to fly. For a while we thought we could outlast the storm, but then the tornadoes showed up.”

Rainbow could feel Scootaloo stiffen slightly.

Rainbow sighed sadly. “The wind didn't affect me much, my wings were too small to catch it, but...” Rainbow trailed off. Her eyes seemed to go blank, lost in thought.

-

The storm raged all around her and her parents. Multiple tornadoes seemed to be heading their way. She could see her mother and father above her, battling against the wind, trying desperately to reach the cloud below them. Lightning bolts littered the sky, striking dangerously close to her parents.

Cries, gasps and the repeated sound of crashing cloud stone was but a distant whisper against the fury of the storm.

Filly Rainbow clung to the cloud beneath her. The once solid and stationary surface that had for all of her short life been a comforting anchor was at the mercy of the winds. The structures upon it creaked and cracked, threatening to buckle under the quake.

“Cloud Charger what's going on? What's happened?” Rainbow's mother cried.

“I don't know! We just have to get out of here!”

A massive rumble of crunching cloud stone drummed around the trio. Several ornate pillars groaned aloud, visibly cracking as their bases were thrown about.

Rainbow pointed to one of the pillars as it began to topple toward her parents. “Look out!”

The massive pillar slowly fell, breaking into several large pieces.

Cloud Charger and Star Chaser barely had time to react. Both fought against the wind, wrenching control away from the elements and dodging at the last minute at the fragmented pillar fell through the sky to the ground below.

The winds suddenly surged as the tornado neared. Cloud Charger and Star Chaser lost control. Rainbow cried out for them as the two tried to reach her. It was all for naught. She watched in horror as a massive lightning bolt arced through the sky, striking Cloud Charger. For a gut wrenching second his body stiffened, suspended in midair. His limp and singed body began to fall from the sky.

Star Chaser dove after her husband. She had barely moved before another falling pillar connected heavily against her skull. A second later she was lost from sight.

A massive groan of crunching cloud stone echoed behind filly Rainbow. She only had a moment to look behind herself as her home came crashing down around her. The last thing she felt was something heavy hit her head, before her world faded to black.

-

Rainbow Dash blinked away several tears. “The wind was too much for Mom and Dad... got caught up in their wings and...” Rainbow fumbled over her words. She looked down at Scootaloo.

Scootaloo looked up at Rainbow. Trails of tears marked her face, her eyes still moist. Hurt and pain was still there, but there was something else. Loss. Confusion. Hopelessness. And only a sliver of faith as she looked at Rainbow.

“R-Rainbow, I...” Scootaloo whispered, hiccuping as she fought against tears.

Rainbow put her hoof on Scootaloo's back. “Scootaloo, I guess what I'm trying to say is I know what you're going through. And its going to hurt more before it starts to heal. And even then there's always going to be a scar. But I want you, no, I need you to know that I'm here for you, one-hundred percent. We're going to stop the ones who did this!”

Fresh tears came to Scootaloo's eyes as she leaped up, pulling Rainbow into a hug. “T-they're...they're g-gone!” She whispered as she sobbed into Rainbow's mane.

Rainbow hugged Scootaloo tightly, her own tears coming forth. “I know,” Rainbow said quietly. “I know.”


Scootaloo sat alone in the gazebo under the dim light of lanterns. Rainbow had left a little while ago, but only after she had made Scootaloo promise she was okay. Scootaloo had assured her several times that she was. Of course that was a lie. All she wanted to do now was be alone.

Scootaloo sat unmoving on the bench. By now the sun had set, darkness surrounding the soft light that glowed from the gazebo. Crickets chirping sounded in the air as the nocturnal sounds of the night slowly filled the air. High above Luna's full moon ascended into the sky, bathing the land below in a silvery light. But such changes were lost on the lonesome mare.

Images of her parents' final moments replayed through her mind again and again and again. Over and over she saw their serene faces, staring back at her for the briefest of moments, before she was swept away; before the tornado devoured the Grandstand.

She felt numb. Like the rest of her body was meaningless. There was only the images in her mind and the blank stare that had etched itself upon her face. No more tears, no more cries. Only a hollow emptiness.

She stared ahead, but she didn't see the darkness before her. Only the faces of the two ponies, smiling sadly behind a wooden cage.

Why did this have to happen? Why my parents? Why not sompony else?

“Your father and mother were brave ponies, never forget that.”

Scootaloo's head shot upward, looking all around her. “Who's there?” She asked shakily.

But there was nopony within sight. And Scootaloo could have sworn she heard the voice as close as sompony seated next to her.

It was only then that she realized that the sounds of the night had gone silent. No longer did the crickets chirp. The owls were silent and the distant howl of timber wolves from the Everfree were absent.

Scootaloo slowly stood up. For a moment her sorrows were forgotten as she looked around. She waited for a reply, but none came.

Slowly Scootaloo descended from her seat, slowly walking the perimeter inside the gazebo. “Hello?” she called again. But no answer came.

Scootaloo felt a chill run down her spine. Aside from the sudden voice and abrupt silence, something was off, but she couldn't place her hoof on it. Everything around her seemed out of place, even as her eyes and brain assured they were not.

She stopped back at her seat. Absently she looked up at the lantern that hung from the rafters.

It was then that she realized what was bothering her.

Everything around her was still. Not just the sounds from the forest, but even the shadows above.

That can't be right, Scootaloo thought. She carefully flapped her wings in the small enclosure, hovering up to eye level with the lantern. She pull it toward her, peering at the flame within.

The tiny flame was unmoving, as if it were frozen in time.

What in the...? Scootaloo thought, still gazing at the light, hoping her eyes were playing a trick on her. For several seconds she stared at the wick, but nothing changed.

A face looked back at Scootaloo through the glass at the edge of the light.

Scootaloo nearly fell to the floor, her heart beating madly in her chest. Well at least I know who was talking before, she thought. It appeared to be an adult mare but beyond that, she couldn't tell. The newcomer's complexion was obscured by the burnt glass. Even so, Scootaloo couldn't shake the feeling that something was...off.

Anger came in a flash to cover Scootaloo's surprise. “What do you wa-” she started to say, but all anger was lost as she clattered to the floor.

As soon as the lantern's glass had passed from between the two its light revealed to Scootaloo what was bothering her.

It was indeed a pegasus mare that stood at the edge of the gazebo. She wore what appeared to be ancient metal armor, complete with breast plate, bracers and helmet. A spear was slung across her back. But these oddities mattered little to Scootaloo. The mare before her was semi-transparent, colored a grayish-teal. The edges of her body seemed shift lightly, as if it were smoke in the wind.

Scootaloo abruptly scuttled backwards across the floor, banging into the bench behind her. Her heart pounded as her eyes remained locked onto the ghost.

The ghost looked down at Scootaloo. It smiled lightly at her, something Scootaloo certainly did not expect.

“May I come in?” The ghost said.

Scootaloo nearly flinched, expecting much more dangerous and grisly things from the ghost. Most definitely not words. And yet, it had sounded so... normal. Sweet even. Only a slight echo laced the being's words.

Scootaloo's eyes were drawn to the ghost's. They were colored like the rest of the mare, but there was a warmth behind them that compelled Scootaloo to a calm feeling. She could feel it soothe her nerves, working through the same conduit in her mind that she had felt outside The Trough and Cider.

The unexpected calm only served to make her more wary.

It was only after several very long seconds Scootaloo realized the ghost had asked her a question.

“W-who are you? What are you?”

“A fair question.” The ghost said evenly. “My name is Ice Wing,” she said bowing her head solemnly. “A lieutenant of the Legacy Guard under Commander Hurricane. As to my nature...” the ghost thought for a moment. “I am an echo of a soul long since passed from this world.”

“So, a ghost?”

Ice Wing rolled her eyes. Again Scootaloo was surprised. “Such a... basic definition, but yes if it makes sense to you. May I enter?” The ghost asked again.

“Uh...y-yeah...” Scootaloo mumbled.

The mare smiled brightly. “Thank you Scootaloo.” She ambled slowly into the gazebo. “And please do not fear; I am not here to harm you. Far from it. I only wish to speak with you.”

Scootaloo pulled herself backward onto the seat, not once breaking eye contact from the specter. “Uh o-okay I guess. But how do you know my name?”

Ice Wing seated herself next to Scootaloo, though Scootaloo made sure to make ample space between the two.

Ice Wing removed her helmet, placing it beside her. She turned to look at Scootaloo. “It is impossible for me to not know you. As it was when I first spoke with your father.”

Scootaloo winced. Her emotions flooded once more with images of her parents. Yet, another thought was still able to work its way through her mind. “Ice Wing? You're one of the Legacy Bearers that the others were talking about! You talked to Dad?”

The ghost nodded. “Indeed. I-”

“This is your fault!” Scootaloo yelled, jumping to her hooves. She thrust her hoof at Ice Wing. “You told Dad to do those things!” Her eyes began to water. “Why? Why'd you have to tell him to go after those pegasi?!” Scootaloo tried to yell, but her voice cracked. “If you hadn't none of this would have happened!” She tried to remain angry, but it was fading fast. “Mom... an Dad...” tears flowed freely now as her gaze fell from Ice Wing “They'd... still be here...”

Scootaloo fell to her haunches, her head downcast. Tears fell at her hooves. “...And I wouldn't be alone...” she whispered.

Ice Wing looked sadly on at Scootaloo. “I am sorry Scootaloo. I know it means little. I did not know what trials your father would face, only that he needed to find the other two. Though I do not bear the responsibility for what happened to your mother and father, I know that this very small part of my spirit was left here for a reason.... likely a penance for a great failure so many years ago,” Ice Wing said, staring off into the distance. She sighed. “I am sorry you have suffered for my failures.”

“Why'd it have to be him?” Scootaloo pleaded, struggling to speak. Tears clouded her vision. “Why couldn't it have been somepony else?” She stared up at Ice Wing through tearful eyes.

Ice Wing was silent.

Scootaloo felt her face flush hot, anger flashing through her. “Answer me!” She screamed, jumping to her hooves. Her face twisted in a snarl. Tears still ran from her eyes as she scowled at the ghost.

Ice Wing stared back sadly.

Red hot anger gave way to frustration. Frustration gave way confusion. Confusion gave way to sorrow. Scootaloo squeezed her eyes shut, collapsing on all fours and burying her face into her hooves. “If you're not going to answer me then just leave me alone!” She spat bitterly.

“Three pegasi were chosen by the Legacy Stream to bear the mantle and wield its power,” Ice Wing's voice recited. “Deemed worthy by the great strength of will and virtue of spirit that they possessed. Such a gift cannot be undone; for it was infused in their blood, in the very aura that all pegasi possess.”

Scootaloo's thoughts immediately returned to outside the wreckage of the Grandstand. A new power manifesting within her, seeking out all around her. All right before she had been whisked away by Spitfire. Slowly she lifted her head toward Ice Wing.

“Nor does it end in death. Rather, it is passed on...” Ice Wing finished, cocking her head at Scootaloo.

“Dad... he gave me...?”

The ghost nodded. “You bear the legacy, as your father did and as I once did.”

Scootaloo sat in silence as Ice Wing's words sunk in. I'm the third pegasus now...

She turned to Ice Wing, the ghost looking patiently at Scootaloo. “I'm the third Legacy Bearer, aren't I?”

Ice Wing bowed her head slowly.

For a moment, Scootaloo was silent, staring at Ice Wing.

“I don't want it,” she said flatly.

“It is not a matter of choice Scootaloo. You now bear the legacy of our bloodline. That is a fact. You were never meant to carry this burden, but there are times when we are handed circumstances beyond our control.”

“I don't care,” Scootaloo replied. She turned away from Ice Wing, curling up against the seat. “I don't care about any of this. I just want to be alone.”

Ice Wing was silent for a moment. She sighed, taking her helm in her hooves and placing it upon her head. “I cannot force you to do this Scootaloo, but understand this: the power of the Legacy Stream was bestowed to three, and only together will three wield its power.”

Images of Soarin' and Rainbow Dash came to Scootaloo's mind.

Ice Wing slowly walked toward the entry way. “The other two Bearers will not succeed without you. This is also a fact,” Ice Wing said bluntly.

Images of Rainbow Dash and Soarin' fighting through an ethereal storm filled her mind. The powers of the Archon assaulting them. Nightmarish forces striking at them both. Both fighting valiantly, but suffering, failing with each received blow. Lightning bolts striking both from the sky. Soarin' and Rainbow Dash gone. Gone, Scootaloo thought fearfully. The only thing she had left. No, that won't happen. It can't!

“B-be quiet,” Scootaloo mumbled, shaking her head.

Ice Wing's echoing voice filled Scootaloo's ears again.“Two choices are before you. You may remain here and ignore the power within you. Many more will die. And I fear that the land will be torn asunder by the forces you witnessed today.”

More images filled her mind. Tornadoes racing across the landscape, destroying all in their path. Lightning striking the towers of Canterlot, the stone spires plummeting upon the ponies below. Ponyville leveled. Lifeless bodies strewn within the rubble. Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle's blank eyes staring back at her.

“Shut up,” she said more forcefully, covering her ears.

“Or you can join with the others, take up our legacy, your legacy, and turn back that which has been a scourge to the pegasi race. That which has taken from so many, and will take more. That which has taken from you,” Ice Wing said, reaching the edge of the gazebo. There was nothing but sympathy on her face as she looked back to Scootaloo. “But I say this with confidence: You have the will, purity of heart and courage to bear this power Scootaloo. As I did. And as you father did.”

White hot anger flushed within Scootaloo, rising above the fear that scared her. “Leave my friends out of this,” Scootaloo growled, her voice rising as she slowly stood up. “Leave Rainbow out of it. And don't you dare use my father against me! Leave. Me. Alone!” Scootaloo screamed, spinning around.

But her visitor was nowhere to be seen. Not a trace of the ghost remained. Ice Wing was gone.

A tiny echoing voice came as a whisper within her ear. “I pray you will make the right choice.”

Scootaloo stood for a moment, panting hard as she seethed angrily. Slowly her breathing slowed as the scowl on her face receded. She could feel a hollow pain creeping within her.

Slowly Scootaloo sat down on all fours. She curled herself into a ball, covering her head with her hooves. Thoughts of her parents haunted her mind, accompanied by Ice Wing's words. She silently whimpered, tears coming once more.

The shadows danced silently around her. Beyond the gazebo the sounds of the nocturnal forest filled the air once more.

Ch. 19: Resurrection Part Three

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Legacy of the Pegasi:

Ch. 19: Resurrection Part Three

Rainbow Dash emerged from the orchard into the large gathering area in front of the Apple Family's farm. The chaos from earlier had subsided slightly. Instead of a boisterous and fearful crowd, the refugees from Ponyville had calmed, spread out in small groups in the haven of Sweet Apple Acres. Families and neighbors alike pulled together to assist one another, pooling food and water. Small fires and torches illuminated the many temporary shelters that had sprung up amongst the Apples' expansive land, ranging from tents to shelters built from debris. Doctors and nurses still shuffled to and fro, but it seemed concerted and directed, much of the panic and distress subsided.

Despite the uneasy lull, cries of anguish still cut through the air. They were far less countered by cries of joy.

Ambulance carts still raced from the makeshift hospital to Ponyville. Other, lesser times they moved at a melancholy trot, sometimes from the hospital barn, other times from Ponyville, but always disappearing down a lonely trail to a distant hill dotted with somber stones.

Rainbow tried her best to blot out the sounds and images around her. Likewise she resisted the urge to seek out her friends. Though she craved their collective comfort and support, she couldn't delay. And the sooner the Wonderbolts and I leave the better, Rainbow thought. She couldn't let her friends talk her into allowing them to follow her into the Everfree.

The Wonderbolts were not far off, gathered alongside the Apple Family farmhouse. Despite the lanterns above that cast a glowing light around them, Rainbow had nearly missed the group in their new attire.

Unlike their flashy show attire, each Wonderbolt now wore a jet black flight suit. This tactical version was somewhat bulkier, made with a mesh weave that allowed for sections of armored padding to cover the jugular, sternum and ribs. The Wonderbolts distinctive winged lightning bolt rested on the flanks, accompanied by a number one just above the left wing. Like the rest of the uniform's color, the symbol was tactical, subdued to a gray scale. A slim zippered cargo pocket ran along each forehoof for ease of access. Below the pockets and woven into the mesh above the hoof was a metal bar for parries and strikes. Upon the shoe of each forehoof were short serrated blades along the front edge, with shallow spikes flush on the rear half. The suit zippered up to the collar, the trademark mask of the Wonderbolts absent. Instead a separate piece of tactical head gear was used.

A special lightweight helmet covered the entirety of the user's head. Shaped at hard angles, the helmet included a full face mask with a special filter located where the mouth would be, for use at high altitude flights and combating gas warfare. Within the filter, modified pegasi beacon technology allowed verbal contact between flight teams. Replacing the goggles was a wide visor that was seated within the mask. Its base sat above the filter to just above the wearer's eyes. It tapered around the sides of the helmet, ensuring full use of the peripherals. A special glass altered under a pegasi lightning forge, the visor featured a HUD capable of night vision, displaying friend from foe and visor dampening in storm scenarios.

The final piece to the Wonderbolt uniform were narrow, very slender, hollow pieces of feather weight steel. They were arranged in pairs of three; short, medium and long. Each were fashioned with a razor edge. Each Wonderbolt carefully adorned their primary feathers with the blades, held in place by a special gel, three to a wing. Known as wing-blades, they were light enough to allow flight, but strong enough for combat, both in the air and on the ground. Coupled with extensive training, the result afforded the pegasus an extreme degree of flexibility and unpredictable lethality to engage their foes.

Rainbow Dash strode up to Soarin' and Spitfire. Both Wonderbolts were in full tactical uniform, sans their head gear. Her eyes lingered over the matte black blades at Soarin's side. “That's some pretty fancy stuff you've got there,” she said sullenly. Any other time Rainbow would have been wide-eyed at the aggressive looking equipment with an endless number of questions. But now it seemed only an afterthought.

“Special issue,” Soarin' replied. “You won't see this gear outside special ops units.”

“Sorry, we don't have an extra set for you Rainbow,” Spitfire said.

Rainbow Dash shrugged. Protection was far from her mind at that moment. She had faced down several dangerous foes in the past; from dragons and mad unicorn tyrants to the fallen goddess of the night. She wasn't worried about herself. At least, she didn't think would be. “I'll manage,” she said casually, pushing away thoughts of doubt.

Spitfire nodded. She turned to the rest of the Wonderbolts. “Alright everpegasi, listen up.”

The group turned in attention, huddling closer to their captain.

Spitfire addressed the group. “Here's the game-plan. We're going into the Everfree to take out each and every one of those clipped-wing bastards.”

Several Wonderbolts including Fleetfoot grunted in approval.

Rainbow cast a surprised glance at Spitfire. It wasn't often she heard a pegasi slur outside of Cloudsdale. Not that she disagreed; she wanted nothing more than to personally introduce her hoof to each and every one of the Tempest Guard. Repeatedly if necessary.

She clenched her jaw. Her mind simmered on the cloaked pegasi, surprising herself with thoughts of how she would enjoy pummeling them. I'm going to destroy them for what they did to Scootaloo, Rainbow thought. Her aura flared in anger. For a brief moment it touched on another.

Spitfire's aura was white hot, awash in a barely subdued fury. But beyond the anger that seeped into Spitfire's words, Rainbow felt a deeper, more personal anguish from the Wonderbolt. Soarin' must have felt it as well, as the stallion cast a concerned glance Spitfire's way. The connection disappeared before Rainbow could think on it more.

Spitfire's wings fidgeted irritably as she spoke up again. “Based on what we know, they're likely to be in the ruins of the Castle of the Two Sisters to bring back an Archon. And he's not the heroic kind from the legends,” Spitfire said, taking a moment to let her words sink in.

Several of the Wonderbolts shuffled uncomfortably but said nothing.

“Archon or not, you all have seen what the Tempest Guard can do,” Soarin' added. “Our primary objective is to take them out quickly.”

“The route is a covert flight just under the Everfree Forest canopy,” Spitfire droned. “Offensive formation and tactics. Once we get to the castle we're going to have to be flexible. Be prepared for small team tactics. We engage quickly. Subdue if you can,” Spitfire said, pausing. “Kill if you need to.”

Kill? Rainbow Dash thought, shivering. Could she do that? She had been on many adventures and faced down several villains. But to actually kill another pony? The fury that resonated within her at the Tempest Guard was suddenly absent.

Rainbow looked to Soarin', but Spitfire's words hadn't outwardly fazed the stallion. His aura was likewise stoic.

“Anything beyond that,” Spitfire glanced towards Rainbow and Soarin', “Rainbow Dash and Soarin' will take care of.”

Rainbow could feel the assembled Wonderbolts looking to her through their opaque visors. Judging her. Assessing her. They would be trusting her with their lives.

“A civilian? You sure about that Spitfire?” A muffled voice came from one of the Wonderbolts. Rainbow recognized it as Fleetfoot's.

Soarin' stepped forward. “Rainbow Dash is one of Legacy Bearers, like me. She's more than capable.”

Rainbow looked at the Wonderbolts around her, her eyes floating from visor to visor. “I'm not a Wonderbolt yet, but I know my way around danger. I won't hold you back,” Rainbow said. She hoped she sounded more confident than she felt.

Fleetfoot regarded Soarin', then Rainbow for a moment. Even beneath his masked face, Rainbow could tell the Wonderbolt was silently mulling over Soarin's words. A second later he nodded. “If its good for you Soar, then its good for me.”

“Don't forget me.”

Those assembled abruptly looked upward.

A form came into view, gliding silently down from the farmhouse roof.

Scootaloo landed softly in the center of the group, facing Rainbow Dash, Soarin' and Spitfire.

“No way,” Rainbow and Spitfire said in unison.

Scootaloo looked between Rainbow and Spitfire. Her face was sullen and devoid of emotion, even as her eyes narrowed into a glare, setting squarely on Rainbow.

“Yes, I am,” Scootaloo said icily.

Rainbow was surprised at the malice in Scootaloo's voice. All sadness was gone from the younger pegasus.

Rainbow's eyes widened as she looked on at Scootaloo. Something had changed in the younger pegasus, beyond the sudden lack of sadness. Abruptly Rainbow felt the aura around her jump. So very much like when Soarin's connected with hers...

Dread suddenly filled Rainbow, her worst fears confirmed. No... she can't be. How can she be? A familiar feeling touched her aura. Scootaloo's aura mimicked her father's, combined with the younger pegasus' own signature. Yet Rainbow could barely feel it; Scootaloo's aura was distant, reclusive and cold. The life that she felt every time Soarin' joined with hers was absent. It was as if Scootaloo's aura barely recognized Rainbow's, unfeeling like the glare on the young mare's face. But there was no mistaking the signature of the third Legacy Bearer.

“Scootaloo,” Spitfire said more softly, “it's too dangerous.”

“I have more right to go than anypony here,” Scootaloo snapped at Spitfire.

Spitfire barely cringed at Scootaloo's bite. Rainbow barely noticed it, but she was more confused by the spiral of guilt that was pouring from Spitfire's aura. However, it quickly vanished as Spitfire's aura recoiled from Rainbow.

Rainbow shook her head. She didn't have time to think on the Wonderbolt Captain.

Rainbow took a tentative step toward Scootaloo. “It's just so soon Scootaloo,” Rainbow said, trying a different approach. “You've been through more than anypony should ever have to...”

Scootaloo looked between Rainbow and Soarin'. Her stony expression began to falter, traces of sadness coming to the surface once more. “I... I won't lose anypony again...,” she whispered, seemingly more to herself than those around her.

Inwardly Rainbow let out a sigh of relief. Scootaloo was still there. She could feel the dormant grief upon her. She's not thinking straight. Maybe I can still convince her to stay behind.

She didn't get the chance. Rainbow nearly jumped back when that grief was pulled away and buried away where her aura couldn't reach. In fact it seemed as if Scootaloo's aura had walled off any entry, reclusive once more. Hostile even.

Scootaloo looked up, devoid of any emotion. “I am the third Legacy Bearer. None of you can change that. I won't let Rainbow and Soarin' go without me,” she said robotically.

Scootaloo's words tumbled through Rainbow's head. What had changed in Scootaloo? Only an hour before she was torn apart from her parents' death. Now she was demanding to go with them into the Everfree. Her words of concern for Rainbow and Soarin' conflicted with the young mare's reclusive aura. But she's right, Rainbow thought. She's the third bearer now. I have to do everything I can to protect her. Rainbow's questions would have to wait for the time being.

“As much as I don't want her to be, she's right,” Soarin' said.

Spitfire looked incredulously at Soarin'. “You can't be serious. I can't even begin to list the reasons why she can't come with us.”

“Commander Hurricane said it took three united to defeat the Archon. I don't even know how we're supposed to fight an Archon, but there are three bearers for a reason,” Soarin' said with a sigh. “She has to come with us if we want to have a chance of pulling this off.”

Spitfire turned to Dash. “Rainbow?”

“She already knows the answer Spitfire,” Scootaloo said irritably.

Rainbow nodded glumly. “She's right. Soarin' and I had been searching for the last bearer,” she said looking sadly to Scootaloo. “And here she is.”

Scootaloo looked back silently, her aura lessening its defiant stance, though it still acted warily around Rainbow's own. With it the young mare's face softened slightly, easing into a small smile as she looked between Soarin' and Rainbow Dash. “Thank you,” she said quietly.

“Fine,” Spitfire said tersely. She turned to Soarin', thrusting a hoof into the stallion's chest. “You keep them close and guard them with your life. Got it?”

Rainbow could tell Soarin' was surprised at Spitfire, but again the the Wonderbolt Captain's aura betrayed her frustration. Guilt now mixed with tremendous fear.

“Yes ma'am,” Soarin' replied.

“Good. Now let's go. We've already missed our time hack and-”

“Hold on just a minute!”

Rainbow spun around only to come face to face with Applejack and the rest of her friends. Each wore saddlebags.

Oh no you guys, Rainbow thought. Despite the odd mixture of fear and admiration for her friends, she couldn't let them do this.

“Applejack? You guys better not be doing what I think you're doing.”

“'Fraid so sugarcube. I knew you'd try to sneak outta here without telling us,” Applejack said, looking to Rainbow's friends. “We're coming with ya.”

“Absolutely not!” Spitfire jumped forward in front on Rainbow Dash. “This is a military operation and I won't have civilians getting in the way!”

Twilight Sparkle stepped forward. “We're certainly not military ponies, but I hardly think that my friends and I are civilians at this point. We can help.”

Rainbow watched as Spitfire's glare intensified, zeroing on the unicorn. “I don't give a damn what you think you can do. This is our problem, and by extension the Cloudsdale government's problem.”

Twilight didn't back down. “That storm was hardly normal and it destroyed half of Ponyville! Our home! I think it is our problem!”

Rainbow could tell Spitfire was beginning to lose her temper. The yellow pegasus snorted angrily through her nose, stepping closer to Twilight. “I don't have time for unicorns who think that because they're Celestia's student they can exact that dictator's authority whenever the hell they want!”

Princess Celestia is not a dictator! And I'm not just a student! And we,” Twilight gestured to her friends, “have the Elements of Harmony!”

The Elements? Rainbow thought. How could she have forgotten? They were perhaps the most powerful relics in Equestria. If they could redeem Nightmare Moon, surely they could defeat an Archon?

“We're done here,” Spitfire sneered. She turned to Fleetfoot. “Get everypegasi in the air, we're-”

“Spitfire, hold on,” Rainbow said.

Spitfire snapped toward Rainbow. At that moment her eyes looked very much like her namesake, burning through Rainbow's skull.

Rainbow walked up to Spitfire, gesturing to Soarin' to join them in the huddle.

“This better be good Rainbow,” Spitfire growled.

“Just hear me out Spitfire,” Rainbow said, looking between the two Wonderbolts. “The Elements of Harmony are very powerful. My friends and I stopped Nightmare Moon and Discord. Who's to say they couldn't stop an Archon?”

“I'm already pushing it by letting Scootaloo go,” Spitfire countered. “And that's only because we need all three of you to stop an Archon, if there even is one. And now you want me take five untrained, non-pegasi civilians into my formation, right before we head into the Everfree-bucking-forest to face down a group of highly trained, highly lethal rogues?”

“My friends might not be military pegasi, but they've face danger before. If the Archon is as dangerous as we think he could be, then why wouldn't you use something as powerful as the Elements?”

“The Elements are powerful,” Soarin' said slowly. “It might not be a bad idea to have a plan B.”

Spitfire simply stared at the stallion, at a loss for words.

“Please Spitfire,” Rainbow asked. “I'm asking you to trust me on this one.”

Spitfire looked for a moment between the pegasi before her and Rainbow's friends. Her scowl was gone but the mare was clearly still irritated as she thought. Finally she looked to Rainbow.

“Fine. They can come. But we play by my rules. They don't make a move until I say so. And until then, they stay quiet and out of my way.”

Rainbow nodded but Spitfire had already shoved past her and Soarin', stopping nose to nose with Twilight.

“We're traveling under the Everfree canopy. Fleetfoot and three other Wonderbolts will escort you on the ground. You do what they say when they. Do not fall behind,” Spitfire ordered tersely at Twilight. Abruptly the Wonderbolt Captain thrust her helmet on, her crimson visor glaring at Twilight.

Twilight opened her mouth to speak. “I underst-”

“No exceptions.”

Twilight could only gape at the Wonderbolt Captain, taken aback.

Without another word Spitfire leaped into the air. The rest of the Wonderbolts immediately followed her, taking up their positions in the formation.

Rainbow strode up to her friends. Outside of Twilight's flabbergasted reaction from Spitfire, each seemed unfazed by the challenge ahead. Like so many times before.

Hopefully it will end like all those times too, Rainbow thought wistfully.

“We better get moving,” Soarin' said, walking up next to Rainbow with Scootaloo at his side. “We've got a lot of ground to cover and Spitfire isn't about to slow up.”

Rainbow nodded. “Right.” She turned to her friends. “Let's go take down an Archon.”


Windswept continued to focus on the stones beneath his hooves. Once again he was a conduit, this time for the ethereal powers of the Tempest Guard, feeding it against the resistances of the runes. The strain was minimal so far, but he knew it wouldn't last.

The crack of stone cut across the silence, following by an ominous roll of thunder. Windswept winced at the sound. Despite losing one of their own, the runes seemed to increase in tenacity, fighting all the more against Windswept. He could feel the strain intensify, a sudden jolt of pain burning at his hooves.

Dominus grunted aloud.

“Steady my friends,” Silver said through clenched teeth. “Though it may take time, we must break the runes.”

Another stone cracked through the silence. Another jolt of pain.

Windswept clenched his teeth. He could feel the power of the Guard coursing to his clasp, through to his body. Sweat formed at his brow as he fought against the runes, the pain stretching from his hooves to the rest of his body.

Another jolt struck Windswept's clasp. But this was not the clash of power between the Tempest Guard and the imprisoning runes. It was all too familiar. The ravenous presence of the Archon clawed at Windswept's aura, swirling silently around him like a tornado. He tried to keep his fear in check, to simply focus on the runes beneath his hooves, but the Archon's subconscious was relentless, even stronger than from outside the tomb.

Windswept's ears perked up, almost expectantly. Whispers and harsh voices coursed through the air. They returned with the same power as before, bearing down on Windswept, paired with the waves of the Archon's battering aura. The pain was nearly unbearable. Windswept fell upon his forehooves, trying his best to contend with the combined power of the Tempest Guard and the Archon's suffocating presence.

Windswept's breath came in short gasps, his whole body wracked in pain and sweat. Hold on, just hold on...

Silver and Dominus remained steadfast, seemingly under less strain than their companion.

Another solid crack of stone cut through the air. Another jolt of power followed by a violent thunderclap.

“I-It's working! I c-can feel him! In the m-mist!” One of the Tempest Guards exclaimed aloud.

Windswept slowly opened his eyes, trying his best to ignore the sweat that stung his eyes and the rampant surges that still assaulted his body.

“We must outlast this! The Archon is returning to his body!” Silver exclaimed almost maniacally, his eyes aflame with excitement.

A hazy mist wafted into the room. Windswept nearly forgot the ethereal burn that coursed through him as his eyes followed the haze. It seeped in from the walls, converging onto the burial site, slowly swirling around above the head of the internment. The mist was ice cold, freezing vapor permeating the burial chamber. Windswept could feel the Archon's presence within it, reaching and biting at his hooves, grasping to be free.

“Who... are... you?”

Windswept froze at the deathly hollow voice, stilled by fear. His blood ran cold as the whisper echoed in his mind, its deep and sharp voice driving his fright. Never before had they been so clear, with such clarity and precision. He knew what it was, who it was, but he desperately wished he didn't.

He glanced toward Silver and Dominus, but neither seemed to have heard the voice.

I-ignore it, drive on. You want this. T-this is right. T-this is just... Windswept pleaded with himself, trying to drive away his fear.

But it was an impossible task. The whispers continued to ravage around him, clearer than ever before. Fear assaulted him as he felt the Archon's presence through the mist, the deep and ancient power forming, coalescing into one monumental entity. It was slowly drawing together, towering above him and the collective aura of the Tempest Guard. Unfocused and split apart the Archon's mind was wild and ravenous. As it continued to form, so to did the colossal ethereal aura that crushed down upon the Tempest Guard.

“By the ancestors...” Dominus barely whispered.

Another crack. Another violent thunderclap. Another element of the Archon reformed.

Windswept struggled to keep his head aloft. His hooves burned, wisps of smoke beginning to curl up from his glowing steel shoes.

“You... are not as the others...,” the voice came once more. “Their destinies are known to them, known to myself...”

Windswept clenched his eyes shut, trying to drive out the echoing voices that tore painfully with each word through his mind.

I... can do this... Windswept thought to himself. Just fight through it...

“Does the prodigal son not know his own?”

The words abounded in Windswept's skull, but he barely had time to contemplate them. He bowed his head, clenching his eyes shut, trying to the force the words from his mind.

The mist had grown, icy wafts of vapor shrouding the ring of Tempest Guards. Only the amethyst light continued to peer through the haze. The mist billowed more violently throughout the burial chamber, accompanied by small flashes of lightning crackling within.

Volleys of thunder continued to erupt from beyond the burial chamber.

Then all was quiet once more.

Windswept opened his eyes. The presence of the Archon was gone. In fact, so was the link to the rest of the Guard.

“Silver, what hap-” Windswept caught his words in his throat.

The chamber around him seemed to be frozen, not by ice but in time. Silver, Dominus and each Tempest Guard was like a statue. Not a breath escaped them, no movement of any kind.

“What in great pits of Tartarus?” He whispered, gazing about the rest of the Guard.

A sudden thought popped into Windswept's mind. His face paled as it twisted in his mind. A trap? Was it possible to do such a thing? To freeze sompegasi in time?

“Then why haven't I been affected?” He wondered aloud.

“You are not trapped,” spoke an eerily spectral voice from behind.

Windswept spun around. Before him stood the ghost pegasus.

Windswept gasped, falling to the floor. He thrust his hoof in front of him like a shield, hiding his face from the spirit. “P-please d-don't hurt me!”

The ghost stepped forward. Heavy hoof steps echoed in the chamber, along with the shifting of plate armor. Its form was no longer a haze, features as sharp as any living, breathing pegasus. Only the stallion's body remained semi-transparent, colored in a grayish teal.

The specter stopped in front of a trembling Windswept.

“Calm thyself. I am not a vengeful spirit. Far unlike the being you are attempting to revive.”

Windswept slowly looked up at the ghost. Semi-transparent eyes looked back, true to the spirit's words, there was no malice. Only a dour and tired face from under an ancient and worn battle helm looked on at Windswept, if a bit distant.

Windswept swallowed, trying to calm his racing heart. It hasn't hurt me yet, just take it slow.

With some trepidation, Windswept rose to his hooves, all the while watching the being before him. He could feel his aura reach out to the ghost. Upon connecting, Windswept found that it was far stronger, and far more familiar than any he shared with the rest of the Tempest Guard.

The ghost smiled weakly, though Windswept found it to be all the more unsettling.

“W-who are you? Why are you following me?”

The ghost gave pause for a minute as if it was puzzle by the question. Then he slowly removed his helm, tucking it against his chest. “I am Captain High Winds, the last commander of the Tempest Guard, and the guardian of this forsaken place.”

“I know about you...” Windswept said slowly, his fear subsiding as his mind began to churn. “Silver Wings told me you disappeared just after the Archon was defeated.”

The ghost seemed to think on Windswept's reply for a moment. “Yes, that is... likely to be true.”

Likely to be true? Windswept thought curiously, but he didn't get the chance to question further.

“You must stop what you and the others gathered here are doing.”

The chamber suddenly shook. Out of the corner of his eye Windswept thought he saw the swirling mist resume its movement for just a moment, the bite of its icy chill once more upon his hooves. Thunder sounded in the distance, but it was muted and muffled, barely reaching his ears. He could feel a faint pressure build in the back of his mind, but it quickly subsided.

The ghost looked around the chamber, frowning.

“Stop? But why?” Windswept said. “You're one of the Tempest Guard, shouldn't you want this more than anypegasi? Isn't that why you're here, after all these years?”

“I am not here by choice. Otherwise my soul...” The ghost trailed off, a pained expression on his face. “Otherwise, my soul would be whole in the Valley of the Stars. But there is little time. What you and the Tempest Guard endeavor to do will bring devastation upon all, even the pegasi.”

“How can you say that? We are righting the injustices thousands of years old!” Windswept tried to say proudly, but it felt forced. Instead, he felt a yearning to agree with the ghost, his fears of the Archon's power overshadowing his thoughts.

Windswept mentally shook himself. No, Silver is right. What we're doing here is just.

“We will restore the lost glory of the Skythan Empire.”

“Skythus...” The ghost trailed off again wistfully, but quickly regained himself. “What history you, and the rest of the Guard believe, is false.”

The room suddenly rumbled again, much more violently this time. Windswept nearly fell over as he felt a jolt of the Tempest Guard's power surge through him, along with the malevolent pressure of the Archon's power tearing through his mind.

The icy mists shifted once more, accompanied this time by the momentary howling of wind. Thunder erupted again, clearer than before.

The ghost fell upon his forehooves, his form flickering in and out of focus.

Windswept could feel his aura tug as the ghost slowly stood up.

“I cannot hold this time forever, the Archon's power will soon overwhelm me.”

“How can we be wrong?” Windswept said. For some reason he desperately wanted to know.

“I cannot tell you.”

“Can't tell, or won't tell?”

Sadness overtook the ghost, his eyes cast to the floor. “I cannot tell you, because I do not know. I am but a fragment of the soul that is High Winds. I know little, but the emotions from my time in the mortal world tell me that what we did those many years ago was wrong. What I did.”

“Feelings?” Windswept said. “You want me to throw away a future for the pegasi race, the truth, just because you feel like what we're doing is wrong? That's hardly convincing,” Windswept said. Yet as much as he wished to deny it, he could feel the conviction in High Winds' words.

Why did he want to believe this ghost so much?

High Winds looked up abruptly, looking Windswept in the eye. “I know you feel this as well.”

“And how is that?”

The ghost smiled broadly. “Our aura's have linked, far stronger than those you would call your allies. Something only shared through blood.”

“You mean I'm... you're...” Windswept stammered in disbelief.

“Perhaps I was not the last of my line after all...”

“Is that why only I can s-”

The burial chamber suddenly shook at the sound of a massive thunderclap.

Windswept fell on his hooves as his mind exploded. The echoing scream of a stallion swept through his mind, battering it with dark presence of the Archon.

The room flickered with movement. The mists swirled, stopping and starting as the frozen time began to break down. Silver Wings and Dominus' struggles reemerged, both pegasi moving haphazardly with the rapid start and stop of time.

Thunder continued to boom unimpeded, drowning out all sound in the chamber.

High Winds' form began to faze in and out violently. His form struggled against the stone floor, against some kind of force pulling against him.

Windswept clenched his eyes shut. The conduit of the Tempest Guard rushed through him. His hooves burned against the runes beneath him. The presence of the Archon continued to form, words flowing through his ears and mind. All the while he struggled to maintain his contact with High Winds' aura. He could feel the Archon's powers assault the tether, trying to wrench the specter from the burial chamber.

“YOU MUST STOP THIS!” High Winds called out against the howling wind and booming of thunder.

A particularly violent wave of the Archon's power crashed against High Winds. The bottom half of his body dissipated against the surge as the ghost struggled to remain. A second later his body reformed, but continued to flicker, like a candle against the wind.

“THE TEMPEST GUARD WAS NOT ALWAYS THIS WAY!”

Another wave of dark power. High Winds nearly disappeared completely, only his head visible before his hazy form returned.

“HEAL THE SPLINTER!”

High Wind's words barely reached Windswept's ears. But it mattered little. All of his senses were assaulted at once. The runes beneath his hooves exploded with light. The surge of the Tempest Guards' power electrified through his body once more as his hooves burned white hot. Icy mist billowed through the chamber, obscuring sight. Lastly, Windswept could feel the building pressure of the Archon's presence against his mind, reaching a breaking point.

Windswept could only watch on as a monumental wave of the Archon's power swept through the chamber. The fluctuation of frozen time shattered.

Windswept's aural tether abruptly severed. His eyes locked with High Winds.

The ghost looked to Windswept for one fleeting moment. There was no struggle or resistance from High Winds as his body succumbed to the forces around him. Only a serene hope. Then, resigned to his fate, the spectral pegasus closed his eyes, and was swept away in the flurry of the Archon's aural storm.

Windswept fell to his hooves, unable to think as he contested with the pain. His vision began to darken.

The sound of a series of deep, dull cracks echoed loudly within the chamber.

Windswept gasped aloud as all pain left him.

The crackling lightning about the runes ceased, as did the thunder above. For a split second all was silent and unmoving.

A vortex of wind erupted from the burial mound. The mist in the chamber was violently sucked into it, disappearing into the dirt.

Windswept and the rest of the Tempest Guard clawed at the stone beneath their hooves as the vortex continued to pull anything and everything toward the tomb.

A scream suddenly sounded from the exit of the chamber, echoing from the winding tunnels above. Steadily it grew, louder and louder, reverberating against the stone walls. Louder still it came, a deep screaming rage of an ethereal stallion.

Windswept's blood ran cold.

The screaming roar burst into the chamber, forcefully blasting all inside to the ground. Windswept gritted his teeth and clenched his eyes shut. He tried to shut out the tormenting scream, thrusting his hooves over his ears. But such actions did little to guard against the Archon's presence that physically pressed his body against the floor and ran rampant within his mind.

Then all was silent in the burial chamber. The vortex had abruptly ceased, and with it the otherworldly scream. Only a singular lazy roll of muffled thunder sounded above through to the chamber below.

Windswept dared to open a single eye.

The Tempest Guard were still strewn about the burial chamber, each struggling to get to their hooves. Silver Wings and Dominus were likewise upon the floor a short distance away from Windwept. Dominus still kept his eyes shut tightly, breathing deeply but unhurt. Silver Wings on the other hoof grinned maniacally as he stared wide eyed at the burial mound before him.

Windswept opened his mouth to speak, but he didn't get the chance.

The ground began to shake violently, filling the chamber with the loud rumblings of shifting stone and coaxing dust from the ceiling above. At the same time streams of red-purple light burst forth from the edges of the burial mound. It grew in intensity, light further streaming forth from cracks upon the interment.

Silver Wings jumped to his hooves. “HE IS HERE!” Silver shouted, a frenzied expression on his face as he stared expectantly into the ever brightening light.

Windswept scrambled to his hooves, darting away from the center of the chamber. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Dominus tackle Silver Wings, the two pegasi colliding to the floor and rolling to the side of the chamber.

The burial mound exploded in a wave of light, blinding all within. Chunks of earth were thrown throughout the chamber. For several seconds there was only the silent column of amethyst light.

A darkened silhouette suddenly appeared within the light. As he squinted with his hoof shielding his eyes, Windswept could barely make out what appeared to be a stallion.

The column of light disappeared. Windswept's world was plunged into darkness, even as he madly searched about the chamber, fear and excitement compelling him.

Sound came before sight.

A deep and rattled breathing sounded from the center of the chamber. Windswept zeroed his vision toward the sound. His eyes adjusted slowly, torturing him.

An icy blue mist rhythmically appeared and faded with the raspy breaths from the center of the chamber. A split second later Windswept realized the bluish haze wasn't mist, rather it was the strange, magical frozen breath from a very much alive being just a few hooves away.

The breathing continued, deep and rattling. It was followed the sudden rapt of a hoof against stone.

Immediately the broken runes at the perimeter of the tomb glowed with a dim amethyst light, granting sight.

Windswept's eyes looked to the figure at the center of the chamber, finally revealed.

A large stallion pegasus stood just outside the vacated tomb. But large would have been too simple a term. Windswept had never seen a pegasus of such a size. The stallion easily stood a head over the rest, likely as tall, if not taller than Princess Luna. However, any other similarities to the Princess of the Night ended there. His frame was thin, frighteningly so, almost as if his skin and fur were hanging from his bones. His fur was matted and dull, but underneath Windswept could see the amethyst-red coat obscured by grime and dirt. If there was a mark upon his flank, it was hidden by soil. The stallion's mane was likewise sullied, but carried a darker shade. The pegasus' wings were the largest Windswept had ever seen. A slightly lighter shade of red than the stallion's coat, the wings were massive, suiting his frame. They appeared thin and were missing many feathers, but they still demanded a silent majesty, folded by their master's side.

The stallion's eyes darted about as he looked around the room. Windswept flinched as the pegasus' face came into view. It was gaunt and tired, much like the rest of the magnified stallion's body. But any such thoughts of weakness left Windswept instantly as his eyes peered at those of the stallion before him. A discerning and frighteningly sharp intelligence was behind the coal colored eyes that glowed faintly in the dim lit chamber. By the Archons... Windswept thought numbly, too awestruck to appreciate the irony.

The rattled breathing slowed, as did the icy vapor. The pegasus' continued to scan the chamber, the faintest traces of confusion upon his face, Slowly his eyes drifted amongst the dumbstruck pegasi within the chamber. His searching stopped, resting his gaze upon Windswept. The stallion's eyes narrowed in greater confusion as he regarded the junior-most Tempest Guard.

A shiver ran down Windswept's spine as he gawked from the floor. Fear urged him to look away from the ancient eyes that beheld him, from the familiar and barely restrained power that lingered behind them. But he looked on, almost as if he no longer controlled his body or mind. His aura was at the helm. It was unlike anything Windswept had ever felt it before, his aura attention and with a renewed vigor of strength and loyalty that urged Windswept toward the pegasus before him.

“My... my Lord Archon?”

Both Windswept and the magnified pegasus looked toward where the voice had come.

Silver Wings stood hesitantly on his hooves. Windswept could still see the rush of euphoria upon the stallion, but it was mixed with uncertainty and a healthy dose of fear.

Silver's words seemed to resonate with the pegasus. All confusion disappeared from the stallion as he looked more intently at Silver.

“Tu quis es? Vos ex Tempastate Militiae?” The stallion said boldly. Though foreign, Windswept could tell the words were not directly threatening.

Silver recoiled slightly under the stallion's gaze, but he gave pause at the language. “Tempastate Miltiae...” he said slowly. A sudden look of realization overcame the stallion as he looked down at the insignia that held his cloak. “Yes, yes!” He exclaimed, looking up. “We are the Tempest Gua-”

The stallion abruptly raised his hoof, signaling Silver to silence.

The dark pegasus lifted his head slightly, closing his eyes in apparent concentration. Windswept watched for a moment, then abruptly felt a jolt through his aura, as did every other Tempest Guard at that very moment.

There was no mistaking the signature of the Archon that Windswept had become familiar with in the previous hours, but now it was controlled, tamed and non-threatening. Instead of ravaging his mind ruthlessly, it passed through his aura with fluidly and with care, joining Windswept's own power to the others. Immediately Windswept was more attuned to his brethren than he had up to that point, the Archon's aural mastery weaving together the ethereal strands of each pegasus into a unified cord.

The intensity of the connection faded, but it still lingered in the backdrop of Windswept's aura. Despite the absolute certainty that his aura and the power of the Archon had beset him, Windswept was confused. Is this truly the Archon? He thought, flinching as his mind thought back to the mental trauma he had been subjected to only minutes before.

Gasps echoed through the chamber briefly. The stallion seemed momentarily weakened from channeling those around him, but quickly composed himself.

“There. Though this vernacular is... simple, we may now speak equally,” the stallion said calmly. His voice was strong and deep. “I ask again: Who are you? Are you of mine own Tempest Guard?”

Silver's mouth was ajar as he stared at the stallion. “Then... you truly are...,” Silver whispered in awe. Abruptly he snapped his mouth shut, forcefully taking to one knee. “Yes my Lord Archon! We are what remains of the of Tempest Guard, and I am it's Captain, Silver Wings.”

Windswept found himself like Silver, as did every Tempest Guard, despite their injuries and fatigue. Again the strange compulsion within Windswept's aura seemed to be guiding him toward this figure... this Archon. Everything Silver had promised seemed to be standing before him, so why did he feel so unsure?

High Winds' words crept into his mind.

"You must stop what you and the others gathered here are doing."

Windswept pushed them away. No. High Winds is wrong. The Archon will restore the pegasi race. He will prove it to us all. This was right. We are right, he thought, as pride swelled within, shared within his aura and those of his comrades.

“Rise, Tempastate Miltiae,” The Archon said.

“My lord,” Silver began eagerly, stepping forward without hesitation. “We have released you from your imprisonment. It was not without difficulty. Many years of searching and planning have culminated in this moment,” Silver said proudly, looking between the rest of the Guard and the Archon. “Even so, there have been casualties along the way. I have hoped and dreamed that we might right the injustices from so long ag-”

“Stop.”

Silver closed his mouth quickly, recoiling slightly at the Archon's curt command.

“Show them to me,” The Archon said.

Silver Wings looked around for a moment, then to Dominus confused. Dominus simply shrugged at his Captain.

Silver looked back to the Archon. “My lord, we are all assembled here.”

“Not all,” the Archon replied stoically. He looked Silver squarely in the eye. “Take me to the victorious dead.”

“Oh,” Silver said absently, seemingly caught off guard by the Archon's request. “Yes, of course! This way my lord,” Silver said, gesturing outside the tomb.

Windswept silently gaped as Silver led the way, two guards quickly rolling the stone doorway aside.

Silver pointed to the three deceased pegasi, laid together in a row. “They are over he-,”

The Archon strode past without a word, stopping before the deceased.

Windswept's could only stare. What was about to happen? The Archon had said nothing, and yet he could feel the weight of the situation, unable to speak.

The rest of the Guard was of a like mind, silently watching.

The Archon knelt with some difficulty, bowing his head. He began to whisper. Windswept strained to hear, but he could only pick out a few words, all in the Archon's native tongue.

“...and may swift winds bear you to vallis stellarum,” the Archon finished, extending his wings above the dead.

A tiny flash of light immediately emitted at the head of each of the dead. It quickly faded, but Windswept could clearly see the faint glow of a four pointed star upon the brow of each of the dead pegasus.

The Archon turned to the assembled Guard. “My name is Typhonis, Lord Archon of Storms. You have freed me from this prison, but not without cost,” he said solemnly, gesturing to the dead. “They have given their lives that I may be free. Everypegasi assembled here, including myself, now bears the great privilege of ensuring their sacrifice is not in vain.”

Windswept's mouth was ajar, but he barely noticed it. The Lord of Storm's eyes were ablaze with a passion that filled the room. It was infectious, and Windswept didn't need his aura to know it.

“I am united once more with the Tempest Guard,” Typhonis continued, ambling before the crescent formation of the Guard. He stopped before Silver Wings, looking to pegasi behind him. “Your Captain was right, we will right a great many injustices. But your numbers are small, and from your speech I fear much time has passed. I recall little,” the Archon said wistfully, his eyes drifting off into space. “As I slept dark dreams filled my mind. Dreams of anger, storms and fleeing pegasi.”

“And dark whispers,” Windswept said softly without thinking.

The Archon looked to Windswept. Windswept stiffened as the Archon regarded him for a moment, cocking his brow.

Did I say something wrong? Windswept thought, withering under the gaze of the Archon.

The Archon looked at Windswept for several seconds more. The corners of his mouth curled into a knowing smile. “Whispers indeed.”

Windswept shivered. What's that supposed to mean? Unfortunately, he had little time to ponder the cryptic reply.

“My lord, we must leave,” Silver announced. “There is no telling if our enemies have tracked us here.”

“They persist then,” Typhonis said darkly. “There is more I must know, but it will wait.” He turned to address the Guard. “Lead me beyond this cursed prison Tempastate Miltiae.”

Silver beamed. “Yes my lord!” He turned to Dominus. “Gather the dead, there is no time to lose.”

One by one the Tempest Guard filed past, through the stone doorway and into the narrowly ascending passageway.

Only Windswept, Silver Wings and the Archon remained.

Typhonis seemed to be distracted. His eyes hovered over the inscribed text above the tomb door. “Peril and ruin await the world,” he said absently. “The Skythan Traitor.”

Windswept studied the Archon's face. There was no rage, not any kind of anger like he had expected. Only confusion and... sadness?

Windwept looked to Silver. The other pegasus seemed just as unsure.

“My Lord Archon-?”

Typhonis ignored Silver, walking toward the wreckage of twisted steel from the armored guardians. His brow furrowed as he studied the metal corpses.

“Aeterni, jailors fit for a traitor,” he said softly. "Were you so desperate to keep me here?”

Windswept suddenly felt an outpouring of emotion through his aura. It came in a flash from the Archon, but it was indecipherable. A flurry of thousands of emotions crammed together, recalled from a deep chasm of time that Windswept could even begin to fathom. It quickly vanished.

Windswept's eyes flicked toward Silver.

There was no reaction from the Captain.

The Archon abruptly turned around. He strode past the two puzzled pegasi toward the doorway.

“Come, let us depart,” Typhonis said evenly. “The world awaits the Skythan Traitor.

Ch. 20: Night Strikes and Living Legends

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Legacy of the Pegasi:

Ch. 20: Night Strikes and Living Legends

Soarin' landed lightly on a moss covered log, just shy of a large clearing. A second later Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo also descended, landing to his left and right. Behind them Rainbow's friends trudged slowly along, bringing up the rear. The rest of the Wonderbolts were spread out around the perimeter of the clearing. Invisible to the untrained eye, they silently took up paired positions within the branches of the canopy.

Soarin's wings fidgeted slightly as he took count of Rainbow's friends for the umpteenth time that night. Five. And Rainbow makes six.

Soarin' gestured wordlessly to Rainbow's friends to stay out of sight. They complied, if a bit slowly, hiding amongst the trees. He could tell they were just as worn out as he was and a bit rattled, but they had made the trip nonetheless. Glad to see Rainbow's friends are made of sterner stuff, Soarin' thought.

It had been several hours traversing the through the forest. The group had maintained a good pace, but the journey to the center of the Everfree had taken time. Even with night vision, moving in darkness hadn't been easy, low light and the spooky reputation of the Everfree immediately weighing on the group. Thankfully their route had brought them safely to their destination.

Before Soarin' and beyond the safety of the trees was a massive, circular clearing bathed in the silver light of the moon. It stretched beyond sight, the far side obscured by a thick, misty fog. A deep, sightless trench circled just beyond the forest, creating an island of jagged rock. Shadows of a castle shifted against the perpetual mist, cast against the moonlight.

“Woah,” Soarin' said silently.

“Quite the sight isn't it?” Rainbow said, stepping up next to the stallion. “This is the third time I've been here, but this place never gets any less creepy.”

“Nightmare Moon?” Soarin' asked.

Rainbow nodded. “Yeah. This is where we defeated her. Kinda weird that we're coming back here to do the exact same thing.”

But how exactly are we going to do that? Soarin' thought. “Do we really know how that's going to work?” Soarin' asked. “Aside from some of these abilities, we really haven't figured out how to use them to stop a pegasus demigod.”

“Maybe we should just wing it like Rainbow and the others did against Nightmare Moon,” Scootaloo said dryly.

Soarin' looked for a moment at Scootaloo, not sure what to think. She had been silent up until now, no obvious emotions from the young mare. What's happened to her? Soarin' thought worriedly, his mind thinking back to before their departure.

He tried once more to reach out with his aura, as he had several times during the journey, but she remained walled off from him.

Soarin' inwardly sighed, looking to Rainbow.

Outwardly Dash was calm, but Soarin' could feel her aura frantically trying to console Scootaloo to no avail.

“She's right,” Rainbow said finally as her aura retreated sadly. “Though I don't really like planning for it, we don't exactly have time to figure out the how to of taking down this guy.”

Soarin' made to reply, but another sound caught his attention.

Spitfire and Fleetfoot silently flew into view, landing in front of the trio. Spitfire looked to Soarin'. “We need to get across to the castle. Rapidfire and Blaze have already scouted ahead. They didn't see anything, but that fog still made it hard to make anything out.”

Soarin' frowned. Going in blind was never a good idea, but at this point they didn't have much of a choice. “I don't like it, but that fog isn't going anywhere anytime soon.”

Spitfire turned to Rainbow Dash. “Is everypony ready to go?”

Rainbow turned to her friends. “We're good... except,” Rainbow trailed off, peering at the edge of the cliff.

“Except what?” Spitfire said tersely.

“Except there used to be a bridge here,” Rainbow said, pointing toward the gorge, “but it looks like it's rotted away.”

“Let me worry about that,” Twilight said, stepping forward. The rest of Rainbow's friends also joined the group. “I can teleport us across.”

Soarin' frowned. Though he didn't know a great deal about unicorn magic, he did know that teleportation was not an easy feat for a single unicorn. To do so for five other ponies was unheard of.

Rainbow seemed just as concerned. “Twi, are you sure?”

“Positive,” Twilight replied proudly, more toward Spitfire than at Rainbow.

Spitfire turned to Soarin'. “Any of that other... stuff, I need to know about?”

Soarin' knew exactly what Spitfire was referring to. “No...” he said slowly. “I haven't felt anything at all.” Wait a minute... he thought.

“Good,” Spitfire said. “Let's go-”

“No, that's just it Spitfire, I haven't felt anything,” Soarin' said, looking between her and Rainbow Dash. “I haven't felt anything since we entered the forest. I only just now realized it.”

Dash nodded slowly. “He's right. I'm not feeling anything right now like from the storm. And all those tornadoes came from here. Why would it suddenly be gone?”

Spitfire cocked her head. Even with her helmet on, Soarin could tell she was confused. “That's bad?”

“I'm not sure,” Soarin' said. “But it makes me uneasy.” What if they already succeeded? He thought.

“None of the 'Bolts or I have, uh,” Fleetfoot trailed off, looking awkwardly toward Spitfire, “had any of that 'flight sickness' from before when we were over the Everfree.”

“I haven't felt sick since the storm disappeared, if um, that helps at all,” Fluttershy whispered.

“I didn't detect any 'pegasus magic' during the storm,” Twilight commented dryly.

Even though Soarin' had his helmet on, he still shot Twilight an annoyed look.

“Do ya reckon they already left?” Applejack questioned.

“In the end it doesn't matter,” Spitfire said. “Archon-pegasus-magic or not, we stick to the original plan. The 'Bolts, Rainbow Dash,” Spitfire's gaze lingered on Scootaloo for a moment, “and Scootaloo will fly over first.” She turned to Twilight. “The Element Bearers will follow after.”

Twilight nodded.

“Once we're all across we'll link up at the gate house. From there it's complete silence. The 'Bolts will go in on the ground into the castle. Ms. Sparkle, you and your friends will remain outside unless called upon.”

Spitfire surveyed the group for a moment. “Does everypegasi and everypony understand?”

All assembled nodded.

“Good. Let's fly.”

Soarin' immediately leaped into the air, chasing after Spitfire. Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo followed close behind. Together with rest of the Wonderbolts the group of pegasi silently flew across the night sky, landing just outside the outermost wall of the castle.

Immediately the Wonderbolts stacked up against the wall, Soarin' and Spitfire at the head of a column of 'Bolts along either side of the gate. Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo quickly mimicked Soarin', joined at his side.

Soarin' took a deep breath, trying to ease the welling dread in his stomach. Here we go. Just relax, we've got this, he thought. Taking another deep breath, he slowly peeked his head around the corner.

A ruined court yard lay ahead. Though the fog still persisted, Soarin' was able to make out the castle more clearly, and the large wooden double doors that led within.

Purple light flashed, accompanied by an obnoxious popping sound.

Soarin' whipped his head around, years of tactical training screaming at the sudden illumination and the purple unicorn that had spawned it.

Twilight's eyes rolled in her head slightly as she teetered on her hooves. Beside her Applejack and Fluttershy looked as if they were about to be sick. Rarity was only a touch better. For her own part, Pinkie stumbled about crossed eye, silently giggling.

Out of the corner of his eye, Soarin' saw Spitfire jerk awkwardly towards Twilight.

“Are you bucking kidd-” Spitfire's irate voice came through Soarin's helm, but she didn't get the chance to finish.

Rusted, wrought iron hinges rattled through the air, followed by the sudden dull bang of a large wooden door.

Soarin's blood ran cold. His eyes locked momentarily to Spitfire's. Without a word, both pegasi peeked around the corner with baited breath.

The fog had all but disappeared. Standing in the castle doorway was a black robed pegasi with hood drawn. The figure suddenly froze, his alarmed gaze looking straight through the gate, directly at Twilight and her friends in full view.

The realization came to Soarin' too late. Son-of-a-

The Tempest Guard's amulet burst into light, as he violently rounded about and dashed back into the castle. The doors slammed shut behind him.

Spitfire's urgent voice came over the net. “Fleetfoot, get the civilians to safety!”

The sound of shattering glass from the castle roof cut across the air.

Soarin's eyes jerked upward. A dozen black shadows swept through the air like meteors, diving toward the Wonderbolts.

“Tangos at our twelve o'clock high! Engage! ENGAG-!” Spitfire's command blared over the net, before static drowned out her voice.

One of the shadows fell from the sky, directed right at Soarin' and the other two bearers.

“Rainbow, Scootaloo! Look out!” Soarin' yelled.

Soarin' leaped away from the wall as the shadow neared the trio, trying his best to push Rainbow and Scootaloo out of harms way.

The sudden impact of his attacker on the ground threw Soarin' from his hooves. What in Tartarus?

Reflexes reacted before his mind did. In an instant, Soarin' was on his hooves.

The field around them had become a battlefield. The Wonderbolts outnumbered the Tempest Guard, but the cloaked pegasi had the element of surprise. The distinctive scream of magic lances also evened the odds as the Tempest Guard attacked.

Though taken by surprise, the Wonderbolts reacted with a cool precision. Immediately the assembled 'Bolts broke off into pairs, some taking to the sky to meet their foes, while others were caught in isolated skirmishes throughout the courtyard. Led by Fleetfoot, the remaining Wonderbolts broke from their adversaries to form a protective semi circle around Rainbow's friends.

Soarin's mind snapped.

Rainbow. Scootaloo.

The stallion spun in place, trying to find the two other bearers. He barely glimpsed a tuft of a rainbow mane before a hoof connected with his helmet, cracking his visor.

The blow forced him to stumble backward. Though his headgear received most of the impact, Soarin' was momentarily stunned by the strike.

“Soarin'!” Scootaloo's terrified voice reached the stallion's ears.

Soarin' bolted toward the sound, his senses hyper aware. His cloaked attacker was only a few yards away with back turned to him. Apparently the Tempest Guard believed he had dealt with Soarin', as he moved toward Rainbow and Scootaloo. Amethyst light glowed around his silhouette.

Rainbow stood defiantly against the advancing Tempest Guard, her back to a wall as she shielded her body in front of Scootaloo. Her brow was furrowed angrily as she snarled menacingly at her opponent.

“Back off!” Rainbow yelled.

Despite her threat, Soarin' could see the hidden fear in her eyes.

Scootaloo was wide eyed in shock as she clung to Rainbow.

The Tempest Guard's wings flared open, amethyst electricity crackling upon them.

Rainbow's face faltered as her eyes flicked to the electrified wings that spread before her, then behind her would be attacked. A cocky grin spread upon her face.

Her opponent's advance faltered. A second later Soarin' charged into the cloaked pegasi's backside.

Rainbow rolled to the right, pulling Scootaloo with her.

The Tempest Guard yelped in surprise as Soarin' charged forward. The guard was able to awkwardly turn around as Soarin' pushed forward, but it was his undoing.

With a final growl, Soarin' heaved against the Guard, slamming his body into the wall. The Tempest Guard's hood fell from the impact. The stallion gasped for breath, the wind knocked out of him.

Soarin' glared at the Guard, white hot with anger. His aura flashed and he could feel the sudden adrenaline rush to his muscles. He abruptly thrust his fore-hoof under his opponent's throat. The stallion's eyes bugged out fearfully as Soarin' pushed up onto his hind legs, pulling the Tempest Guard off his hooves.

The stallion gasped for breath, choking for air as he pitifully flailed his fore-hooves against Soarin's chest.

Soarin' gritted his teeth. Then in one motion, he brought his other hoof back and slammed it into the stallion's face.

There was a sickening crunch as the Tempest Guard's nose broke. Soarin' released him, letting the unconscious pegasus crumple to the ground.

Soaring panted heavily. “Tango down,” he said into his mic. His eyes jerked to his right.

Rainbow stood still with Scootaloo beside her. She bounced lightly on her hooves, at the ready to protect Scootaloo, but Soarin' could see she was somewhat shaken.

“Are you okay?” Soarin' said quickly.

“Y-yeah! We're okay!” Rainbow replied.

“Soarin'! Enough with the free-style! Get over here!” Spitfire's voice came over the net.

Soarin's looked across the courtyard.

Spitfire was currently embattled with two Tempest Guards. Though her opponents were larger than she, Spitfire was the more agile, deftly twisting about to dodge blows and parry magical lances with her wings. With a snap of surprising speed, she charged forward and battered her opponent with her serrated hooves, then immediately thrust herself into the air as the second Guard sailed by beneath her in what would have been a vicious tackle. As quickly as she had ascended, Spitfire snapped her wings shut and brought her reinforced hooves down forcefully onto the second Tempest Guard's rear legs, punctuated with a pair of dull snaps. The Guard's cries of pain only lasted a moment before she brought her hoof down upon his head.

Damnit! Soarin' mentally kicked himself. Though Spitfire was an elite fighter, he knew better than to leave his teammate to fight alone like that. “On my way,” he replied.

“Rainbow, Scootaloo, we have to get to Spitfire. Follow me and stay close!”

Both nodded without question, but Soarin' could tell they were both on edge. And yet, he could feel his aura link with theirs naturally, confidence pooling among them. Even Scootaloo's aura, though still wary, seemed to have opened in light of the conflict.

Together the three galloped across the courtyard, the air polluted with magical lances and air combatants.

A Tempest Guard streaked by in front of them at high speed, a blackened blur barely avoiding the ground. Half a second later, another, faster blur chased after it, a glint of steel on its wings.

“Come here you wingless bastard!” Whiplash's voice crackled over the net.

Out of the corner of his eye Soarin' saw Whiplash collide into his prey, forcefully grinding him into the ground. A second later the Wonderbolt pounced on the Tempest Guard, bringing his fore-hooves down for the finishing blow.

Lances screamed overhead. Soarin' caught sight of Rapidfire, dodging the magic projectiles from a pursuing Tempest Guard. Abruptly the Wonderbolt pulled up sharply, then flipped himself around to face his opponent.

The Tempest Guard was undeterred, continuing to fire lances at Rapidfire.

Rapidfire let his momentum carry him as lances whizzed past. Several times the Wonderbolt angled his wings to deflect the incoming projectiles.

“Ha, that all you got?!” Said Rapidfire's cocky voice.

The Tempest Guard's amulet shone brighter. A second later a much brighter lance streaked across the sky at Rapidfire.

“Rapidfire! Look out!” Soarin' shouted into his mouthpiece.

But the warning came too late. Rapidfire made to adjust his wing, but the lance found its way beneath, punching clean through the Wonderbolt's wing.

Rapidfire's body began to fall from the sky, twisting awkwardly as suppressed grunts of pain spilled into the comm.

The Tempest Guard followed the falling Wonderbolt with murderous intent, another volley of lances glowing at his hoof.

“RAPIDFIRE!” Soarin' screamed as he skidded to a halt. He readied low, and was about spread his wings when another voice crackled over the comm.

“Soarin' keep going! I've got 'em!” Wave Chill's said frantically.

Soarin watched as Wave Chill rose from the ground, flying to intercept Rapidfire's body. With difficulty the Wonderbolt caught his comrade, while at the same time blazing forward with an outstretched hoof.

The pursuing Tempest Guard didn't have a chance to dodge. Wave Chill's hoof met his face at high speed, knocking the cloaked pegasus' head back awkwardly. The Tempest Guard fell from the from the sky, landing on the ground in a heap.

“I've got Rapid. Tango down,” Wave Chill's heavy voice said over the comm.

Rainbow's aura blared through Soarin's own. All at once his mind saw through the eyes of another, he saw himself, and the Tempest Guard that was swooping in to strike him in his blind spot.

Soarin' ducked low without a thought, while at the same time whipping his bladed wing upward. A second later he felt a grisly tug upon the blades and a gut wrenching scream as his attacker sailed past him and crashed to the ground.

“Soarin', how did you-” Rainbow Dash started to say.

“No time! Gotta get to Spitfire!” Soarin' shouted.

The trio raced the remaining distance to Spitfire. The Wonderbolt Captain was hovering in midair, tussling with a Tempest Guard, hoof to hoof. The Guard managed to get a hoof free, striking Spitfire across her helm. The Wonderbolt fluttered in the air awkwardly, her head lolling from side to side.

Soarin' jumped into air and body checked the Guard to the ground, just as he was about to let loose a lance. The Guard landed roughly on the ground, where he was promptly thrashed by a very irritated Spitfire.

“Clipped-wing,” Spitfire swore angrily, kicking the unconscious Tempest Guard for good measure.

She turned the trio. “Good to see ya Soarin',” Spitfire said quickly. Her visor glanced toward Rainbow and Scootaloo. “Need to get those two to Twilight so we can mop these rogues up.”

Rainbow cocked a brow. “I can handle myself.”

Soarin' frowned. “Rainbow this isn't like your other adventures, this is real, liv-”

A Tempest Guard appeared out of the darkness, descending from above onto the group. The cloaked pegasus made a beeline for Rainbow Dash.

Soarin's heart stopped. It was happening too fast. He wouldn't be able to get there in time. Rainbow! Soarin' mentally screamed through his aura.

In a flash Rainbow rolled to her left, immediately taking to the air. The Tempest Guard only had a second to look confused as Dash re-appeared from the darkness, a rainbow trail behind her. With hoof outstretched she blasted across the Guard's cheek. In a daze the Guard spun around once, and was promptly bucked in the chest as Rainbow cocked and fired from her landing.

The Guard flew through the air and promptly landed on one of his comrades, just as he were about to fire a lance.

Rainbow smirked as she observed her hoof-work. “Two for one.” She turned to Soarin' and Spitfire. “Like I said, I can handle myself.”

Woah, Soarin' thought.

“Fair enough,” Spitfire said tersely. “But you stick with Scootaloo,” she added.

“Hey!” Scootaloo said. “I can-”

“No way in Tartarus!” Spitfire shouted over her shoulder, ending Scootaloo's protest. “Now lets wrap this up.”

Soarin's eyes were drawn toward the sky above the castle. Another dozen cloaked pegasi swooped through the air. Seconds later they were upon the group.

Like clockwork Soarin' and Spitfire fell into place side by side. The two wove together in tandem, a practiced and unspoken groove.

Magical lances attacked them first, but the duo easily dodged or parried the strikes. A pair of Tempest Guards landed at a gallop approaching the Wonderbolts, their amulets flashing bright. Another pair hovered overhead, their wings crackling with lightning.

Not a word passed between the Wonderbolts.

Soarin' leaped into the air, taking off with tremendous speed toward the airborne Guards. Likewise below, Spitfire charged her ground borne opponents.

Though taken by surprise, the Tempest Guards only faltered a second. Lightning flashed across the sky as vicious bolts erupted from the hovering Guards. Soarin' rolled and dodged, rapid fire lightning missing only by inches.

Soarin' felt a renewed vigor in his wings. Strength poured forth from his aura, as he felt the collective hum of the pegasi around him. Is it always so random? He thought abruptly. But it was a fleeting thought. Bolstered by super-pegasi strength, Soarin' put on a burst of speed.

The hovering Guards stopped firing, fluttering backwards in surprise.

Soarin' readied his hoof to meet his target, focusing entirely on the Guard to his right. Now I've got you!

The Guard to Soarin's left backed away, patiently training a lance on the Wonderbolt.

Below Spitfire had reached her foe.

The first Tempest Guard had out ran the other, still charging headlong at the mare. His amulet began to glow as he snarled.

At the last second Spitfire dove to the left, sliding along all fours as she ducked low. The Tempest Guard's outstretched hoof sailed over her head. Letting her momentum carry her, Spitfire forcefully opened her right wing. The brandished blades dug deep into the charging Guard's legs, slicing the tendons.

The Tempest Guard collapsed to the ground, screaming in pain as he writhed about.

Spitfire pushed off her from her knees, flapping her wings and carrying herself forward. Not missing a beat, she blasted by the second Guard with an outstretched hoof. The connection snapped bone.

Soarin' was nearly upon the Tempest Guard. His aura flared in warning as he saw a burst of electricity arc from the Tempest Guard's amulet and gather at his hoof. The cloaked pegasus readied to strike.

Rainbow's aura cried out in Soarin's mind. Danger. Left. Magic lance. Tempest Guard!

Soarin' ignored it.

The Tempest Guard struck first as the two pegasi collided, bringing his electric hoof down upon Soarin'.

Soarin' moved faster than the eye, crossing his fore-legs to block the attack.

The Tempest Guard's electrical attack crashed against Soarin's hooves. But instead of the crushing attack he had expected, the blow barely left a dent. Soarin' could feel his aura build around his fore-legs, the lightning arcing along and dissipating into nothing more than a tingle.

Out of the corner of his eye, Soarin' saw Spitfire blaze upward from the ground, her outstretched hooves pummeling beneath the Tempest Guard on his left. The cloaked pegasus yelled in terror as the two disappeared into the darkness above.

Soarin' grinned to himself. Thanks Spits.

Soarin' refocused his efforts on the Guard before him, lowering his gaze menacingly through his cracked visor.

The Tempest Guard gaped in astonishment. He then let loose a snarl, his amulet burning bright as he prepared to assault Soarin' again.

Soarin' was ready. He dodged to the right, and grabbed the stallion's hoof as it came downward. Held in place, Soarin' struck with all his might against the joint.

The stallion screamed in agony, his limb bent awkwardly inward. His screams of pain turned to rage as he abruptly swung his other hoof in a hook at Soarin'.

The Wonderbolt was more than ready. Soarin' grabbed the errant attack, and flung the Guard away with his strike. The amplified throw spun the cloaked pegasus through the air, barely recovering before he impacted the ground.

Soairn' wasn't going to give an inch. He blasted off toward the Guard like a comet. The Guard frantically fired lances at Soarin', but he weaved past them undeterred.

The Guard tried to back pedal through the air, desperate to get away. He fired one last lance at the on coming Wonderbolt.

Soarin' deflected the energy with his wing. He veered slightly to the left, and clipped the Guard's wing with his hoof at high speed.

Soarin' peeled around, landing with a huff on the ground. A thud sounded nearby as his foe impacted the ground. The Guard whimpered and sobbed as he tried to hobble to his hooves. His amulet began to glow as he shakily raised a hoof at Soarin'.

“I'll kill you!” The Tempest Guard snarled.

Soarin' regarded the Tempest Guard for a moment, then looked the sky. He smirked to himself. Right on time.

“Hey,” Soarin' said casually. He nodded upward.

The Tempest Guard looked confused for a moment, then looked toward the sky.

Out of the darkness a cloaked, limp shape fell from above. The Tempest Guard's eyes bugged in his skull as he tried to hobble away, but it was too late. The body of his comrade crashed into him with a dull thud.

Soarin' looked up.

Spitfire hovered down to her teammate. Her armor was singed in several places, and her helmet had a large crack along the side. She limped slightly toward Soarin'.

“Nice one Spits,” Soarin' said.

“That little clipped-wing took a little longer than I would've liked,” she replied harshly, her speech laced with pants.

Soarin' made to reply, but his aura surged in alarm.

“You... you don't know what you've gotten yourselves into!”

Soarin' and Spitfire turned toward the voice.

Less than ten hooves away stood the remaining Tempest Guard of the original four. Blood poured from his mouth where his jaw seemed to be broken, torn apart by a serrated horseshoe. The Guard's hoof glowed a brilliant amethyst, paired with the light of his amulet. His wings were outstretched, massive surges of electricity dancing along them.

“Thought I finished that one off...” Spitfire growled.

A twisted smile crawled on the guards face, made all the more grotesque by his mangled jaw. “It doesn't matter what happens now,” The Tempest Guard screamed in a rage, “we've already won! The Archon will render this world anew with the pegasi at the forefront!”

Smoke began to curl from the Guard's hoof. The electrical current along his wings intensified, feathers curling back as they began to burn.

Soarin's eyes widened as his aura screamed at him. He saw the transfer of power in the Guard's amulet, egged on by the pegasus' own aura. The amulet around his neck cracked.

The Guard steadied his wavering hoof. “Too bad you won't be here to see it.”

“Yeah. Not happening.”

The Guard whirled around. His face immediately connected with a cyan hoof.

The Guard stumbled forward as the power from his amulet faltered. “You impudent bitc-

Rainbow Dash rushed forward, reared up and battered the back of the Guard with her fore-hooves.

The stallion collapsed on the ground with a groan. Weakly he tried to rise.

Rainbow walked slowly past and kicked the stallion in the head with her rear leg. The Tempest Guard fell and did not move again.

Rainbow trotted quickly over to Soarin' and Spitfire, a wide eyed Scootaloo in tow behind her.

“Good work Rainbow,” Soarin' said quickly. “Are you two alright?”

“Y-yeah, we're good,” Rainbow replied after looking to Scootaloo.

“Good, cause we gotta move!” Spitfire said. She took to the sky, flying back toward the courtyard entrance.

Soarin' scanned the area before him. Pairs of Wonderbolts still battled on the ground and weaved through the air against the Tempest Guard. There were no serious casualties yet, and they had dispatched several of their opponents. Overall, the Wonderbolts were holding their own, but it was only a matter of time before the Tempest Guard wore them down with their superior firepower. And what about the Archon? What then?

“This isn't looking good Spitfire,” Soarin' yelled ahead over the screams of magic lances. “With those reinforcements the Tempest Guard has us outgunned!”

“I know!” Spitfire shouted back. An amethyst lance streaked up from the ground, barely missing her head. “We're regrouping!”

“We're going to let them get away?!” Rainbow Dash shouted in disbelief.

“I didn't say that!” Spitfire called back. “We're scattered all over. We need to regroup and-

Spitfire's words fell away as bright lights began to appear all around the courtyard, pulsing in unison.

Soarin' focused his visor on one of the lights, the dampening lens filtering out just enough that he could make out one of the Tempest Guards. The Guard had distanced himself from the Wonderbolt he was fighting, and instead seemed to be focused on his amulet.

Oh no... Soarin' thought.

The comm crackled in his ear. “Spitfire!” Fleetfoot's voice sounded off. “Something weird is happening! All the tangos just broke from the fight, and, uh, they've got this weird light thing going on!”

The rest of the Wonderbolts confirmed Fleetfoot's report.

“Spitfire!” Soarin' shouted. “They're trying to leave! Just like before at The Trough and Cider!

“All Wonderbolts engage! I say again, engage!” Spitfire ordered frantically over the comm. “Do NOT let those bastards get away!”

But it was too late. Those Tempest Guards that had not been incapacitated took to the air, back across the courtyard to the castle.

Ahead of him, Soarin' saw Spitfire pull up abruptly, taking him by surprise. He barely had time to follow suit, braking with his wings and angling himself upward into a half loop.

The world flipped as Soarin' neared the crest of his loop. With the last of his momentum he thrust his right wing down hard, flipping himself over.

Rainbow and Scootaloo shot past, unprepared for the sudden maneuver. In tandem they pulled into a tight banking turn.

Soarin' couldn't wait for them. His wing mate was already well ahead him. “Spitfire, wait! Something's not right!” Soarin' yelled over the comm as he put on a burst of speed to catch up. His visor caught the last of the Tempest Guard's disappear over the inner courtyard wall, directly in front of the castle entrance.

“I've lost visual,” Spitfire's seething voice came through Soarin's helm. “It's cloak and dagger now. Fleetfoot bring up the civies, just in case we need that Harmony crap. Everypegasi else stay within sight and by the stars don't get ambushed!”

Soarin' gritted his teeth. Damn-it Spitfire! And you busted my flank for the free-style? Soarin' thought. In truth he was worried. More than worried. Spitfire was letting her emotions get the better of her, something that rarely happened, and he didn't need his aura to tell him that. But even more, he was worried about what he hadn't felt. There was no signal of the Archon, and the Tempest Guards' sudden retreat only made him feel worse.

Rainbow's aura reached his mind, echoing sentiments for the Wonderbolt Captain. Just stick close by, Soarin' thought to her. We have to be ready for anything.

Regardless of his fears, they couldn't let the Tempest Guard get away. Soarin' gritted his teeth, pushing his wings harder. We've got to end this thing now.

Ahead, Spitfire abruptly took a nosedive, leveling out and landing just outside the inner courtyard gate that led to the castle entrance.

Soarin' followed, landed softly behind her. A few seconds later Rainbow, Scootaloo and the rest of the Wonderbolts fell into place. Twilight and rest of the Element Bearers appeared soon thereafter, albeit much more stealthily this time.

“Paired entry, on my lead,” Spitfire said quietly.

Soarin' readied himself, stacking up closer behind Spitfire.

The Wonderbolt Captain rushed around the corner hugging the wall to her right. Soarin' followed her, his eyes immediately scanning the foreign ground. Aside from a pair of blazing braziers by the castle doors, the area was deserted.

The rest of the Wonderbolts tactically filed into the terrace, filling a half circle around the entryway to the castle.

“Ten up,” came the last report from the final Wonderbolt pair.

Soarin' sighed. “One up. We're all clear Spitfire.”

Spitfire strode angrily toward the center of the terrace. She stared at the large double doors. “We need to clear the castle. They have to be there.”

Soarin' joined her, followed by Rainbow and Scootaloo. Her friends fell in along the inner circle of Wonderbolts.

Soarin' grimaced. Urban combat was... messy to say the least. Though the Wonderbolts were trained for all environments, fighting in enclosed spaces went against pegasi instincts. Without access to the sky, their options would be limited.

“I know it doesn't really tell you anything Spitfire, but I don't feel too good about this one. Something's...off,” Soarin' said.

“Still nothing?”

Soarin' frowned. Even in during the fight, there had been no sign of the Archon's presence. “Yeah.”

“Then we're going in.”

“They could be anywhere in there,” Rainbow said.

“And why would they corner themselves like that?” Twilight asked, joining Soarin' and the rest of the leadership at the center. “They seemed like they were trying to get away.”

“I don't know and I don't care,” Spitfire said icily, as she still looked to the castle doors. “This isn't up for debate. We'll clear the castle out, room by room if we have to.”

Soarin' stared up at the castle. The longer he looked, the worse he felt. I have a bad feeling about this.

Spitfire turned to the face the Wonderbolts. “Same as before. Paired entry and watch your corners.”

Soarin's eyes widened, as his bad feeling suddenly materialized. It was a tiny pinprick in the back of his mind, barely noticeable, but the signature was unmistakeable. Oh no. Soarin' looked to Rainbow and Scootaloo. Both stared intently back. Rainbow's aura, much like Soarin's, was on the alert, pulling toward his. Even Scootaloo's cried out in agitation, but it was unfocused much like teenager herself.

Several Wonderbolts began to make their way to the door.

“Spitfire wai-!” Soarin' cried out.

The double doors swung open, banging loudly. Immediately an ice cold wind poured from within the castle, filling the terrace.

Soarin' moved closer to Rainbow and Scootaloo. He could feel a slight pressure force itself against his aura, but it was negligible.

“Rainbow? Scootaloo?” Soarin' said quietly, not taking his eyes from the castle entrance. He backed up slowly until he felt the two pegasi at his sides.

“Yeah, we're here Soarin'. We're good,” Rainbow replied uneasily. “But what in the hay is going on?”

“I'm not sure,” Soarin' said warily. “Just keep an eye out.”

Unfortunately, the rest of the gathered pegasi did not fare as well. They seemed momentarily stunned, some clutching their foreheads, others stumbling slightly. A quick glance to the rear, confirmed that Twilight and the rest of the Element bearers were unaffected, with the exception of Fluttershy, their expressions ranging from puzzlement to fear at the sudden frigid air.

“Rainbow?” Twilight called out as quietly as she could to Rainbow. “What's happening? What's wrong with everypony? I didn't sense any mag-”

“Not a good time Twi! Just be ready with the Elements!”

“Spitfire?” Soarin' said to his wingmate. “Are you alright?”

Spitfire groaned, wobbling on her hooves. “I c-can't think straight... feel so s-slow...”

Marching hoofsteps echoed from the castle hall.

The Tempest Guard filed out from the shadowed doorway in two columns. But instead of attacking, they simply took up position along either side of the staircase, facing inward.

Soarin's eyes locked on the doorway. A large darkened shape shifted in the shadows. His aura, together with Rainbow's and Scootaloo's, went from cautiously waiting to an absolute frenzy.

The shape took form. Out from the shadows stepped a pegasus stallion. He stood a head over everyone else, with a stature that reminded Soarin' of Princess Luna, if it were not for the fact that the pegasus seemed to be only skin and bones. His coat was was a deep, dark purple-red, with a lighter and darker shade for his wings and mane, respectively. The wings were thin and worn, but Soarin' could tell they were far larger than any normal pegasus.

Soarin' could try to deny what his aura was telling before him, but when his eyes saw those of this magnified pegasus before him, he knew his worst fears were confirmed. Dark, coal colored eyes with a faint amethyst glow, surveyed the terrace. Soarin's mind immediately flashed back to Commander Hurricane's vision. A single, magnified pegasus at the center of the tempest, controlling the storm. They did it. By the stars they did it, Soarin' thought, gaping at the Archon. They brought back the Archon of Storms.

The Archon stopped at base of the stairway. “I, am the Archon of Storms, and I am not your enemy,” he stated in a deep if somewhat raspy voice. His eyes looked over those before him as he spoke. “I do not wish for pegasus blood to be spilled among our race. Know this, I have come back to restore the pegasi nation, not to bring about their destruction.”

Soarin' stepped forward. “You've got a funny way of showing it,” he said, looking to the rest of the Wonderbolts.

The Archon bowed his head slightly. “I can assure I mean no ill will to you. My time in prison has left my powers... erratic.”

That was all Soarin' needed to hear. He pushed out with his aura to Scootaloo and Rainbow Dash, hoping they could somehow trigger their aura's to defeat the Archon. Guess this is winging it, he thought. In flash he leaped forward, serrated hooves ready to attack the Archon.

“Protect the Lord Archon!” One of the elder Tempest Guards yelled out, but Soarin' could tell they would not be able to intercept him in time.

Soarin' sailed through the air. Though they were initially surprised, Soarin' could feel Rainbow and Scootaloo's aura connected to his. Strength came to his wings and the sensation of invulnerability coursed around him. This can work, he thought, confidence swelling his thoughts. This can work!

The Archon did not move. Instead he brandished his wings, alive with crackling electricity. Two ropes of lightning shot forth from his wingtips, immediately wrapping around Soarin's neck. The Wonderbolt gagged as he hung from his restraint, trying to pull himself up for breath as his hooves burned against the electricity. His aural connection to Rainbow and Scootaloo snapped.

“But I am not completely without ability, either,” the Archon remarked sadly, as he looked to Soarin'.

“Soarin'!” Rainbow Dash screamed, charging forward at the Archon.

“Stop her!” One of the Tempest Guard yelled.

Out of the corner of his eye, Soarin' saw several Guards make ready to intercept Rainbow, but either she didn't see them, or didn't care. Rainbow! Soarin' pushed with all his might through his aura, but the electric rope coiled around his throat had blinded his connection.

Purple magic suddenly manifested around Rainbow's barrel, pulling her back. Though he could no longer see her, Soarin' could hear Rainbow's cries of protest.

“Twilight?! Put me down! Put me down!”

The Archon looked for a moment behind Soarin', then back to the Wonderbolt. He fixed him with a curious gaze. Reaching forward with his hoof, he removed Soarin's helmet. “I dislike helms such as these. Sky warriors do not hide their faces.”

One by one the assembled Wonderbolts removed their helmets, as if in a trance.

“You are more resilient than the others,” The Archon said, looking intently at Soarin'. Slowly he hovered Soarin' back to the center of the terrace, releasing him.

Soarin' landed on the ground, gasping for breath. He looked up as Tempest Guards began to approach him.

“No,” the Archon's voice commanded sternly. “I said no more pegasus blood will be spilled this night.”

His eyes hovered about the uncovered pegasi, stopping briefly on Scootalo, Spitfire and Rainbow Dash. “You are all pegasi of great strength and willpower," the Archon said. "Though I know not how." He looked back to Soarin'. “Why do you oppose me? Who has poisoned your minds against the truth?”

Soarin' slowly hobbled to his hooves. “Your so called Tempest Guard attacked us. And sent storms that killed hundreds!”

The Archon's face fell. “I had said that some aspect of my power was beyond my control. It was never my intention that fellow pegasi would die as a result of my release.”

“It wasn't just pegasi!” Soarin' heard Twilight yell. “You killed earth ponies and unicorns too!” She stopped next to Soarin', helping to steady the stallion. “You... you shouldn't even exist!”

“You dare speak to the Lord Archon in such a manner?!” The elder Tempest Guard accused Twilight, stepping forward menacingly. Soarin' noted he seemed to be the leader of the group.

The Archon's face hardened. “I care not for the inferior races.”

Soarin' saw Twilight's jaw drop. She was absolutely stunned, at a loss for words.

“Twilight...” Soarin' said cautiously, trying to calm the unicorn. His eyes hovered over her saddlebags, catching the golden glint within in the moonlight. Rainbow... Soarin' pushed through his aura, plan B!

Twilight's face went from stunned to horrified.“You... you monster! You destroyed my home! Our home!”

The Archon's eyes flashed brighter, as his brows furrowed in anger. “Silence thy tongue, you insignificant rimor calva!” He shouted, thunder rolling overhead. “I will not destroy another pegasus life tonight, but I have no qualms in ending yours!”

“Rainbow!” Soarin' commanded, abruptly grabbing a hold of Twilight and throwing her awkwardly to the rear. He heard the unicorn yelp in surprise as she landed.

“Yeah! On it!” Rainbow's called back.

Soarin' didn't waste any time. Being in the line of fire wasn't the best place to be and he wasn't about to find out what super-powered harmony and friendship felt like. He grabbed a confused Scootaloo and a still dazed Spitfire, diving out of the way with the two of them in tow.

A brilliantly white light engulfed the terrace. From his place on the ground Soarin' saw Rainbow Dash, Twilight, and the remainder of the Element Bearers hover suspended in the air. Five necklaces and a crown were among them, glowing brightly as a vortex of wind surrounded the group.

Soarin's eyes flicked to the Archon. His eyes narrowed, but he did not retreat. Beside him, those of the Tempest Guard shifted about uneasily, glancing between their Master and the saviors of Equestria.

The light intensified. Soarin' watched in awe as Twilight opened her eyes, filled only with an angelic white. By the stars... Soarin' thought, Rainbow wasn't kidding.

“Woah...” Scootaloo said, gaping at the display.

A beam of rainbow shot out from above the suspended Element Bearers. A shrill, high pitched ringing filled the air as it twisted about, seemingly caught in the vortex. It continued to grow, until the Element Bearers were completely hidden. Then without warning, the rainbow vortex shot forward.

Soarin' barely had time to follow the vortex as it engulfed the Archon and blasted Tempest Guards away.

Soarin' swallowed uneasily as he watched the vortex tighten. The Archon hadn't even flinched.

The Archon had all but disappeared, obscured by the swirling rainbow. In the final seconds, Soarin' caught the pegasus' eyes. Ancient, supreme anger filled them as they glowed once more, an amethyst-red lightning erupting forth.

Dread filled Soarin'. No...

The vortex reached its pinnacle, squeezing shut. The high pitched ringing hit its crescendo.

Soarin's aura suddenly lurched under a massive blow. He and Scootaloo gasped aloud, both clutching their heads. Beside him Spitfire shrieked as she twisted about the ground. Spitfire! Soarin' thought frantically. Never had he heard her in such pain. It scared him, fear for what was happening to his best friend. He tried to reach out with his aura. Spits...? He called out fearfully through his aura, but uncontrollable pain blocked her from him.

The rest of the Wonderbolts screamed aloud in agony, falling to the ground in writhing pain.

Lightning erupted in all directions from within the rainbow vortex as the ringing abruptly cut out. It intensified, sharp bolts cutting in between the colored bands. The rainbow began to pull apart as the vortex lost it's velocity. A final jolt of lightning erupted from within, ripping entire bands away. The rest were overwhelmed, burning away into ash.

The Archon stood as he had before, though he was breathing noticeable harder. His eyes still glowed, staring directly ahead at the Element Bearers.

“It... it isn't possible...” Soarin' heard Twilight whisper.

“You arrogant, mongrel unicorn,” the Archon seethed. His eyes flared again menacingly as lightning began to crackle at his hooves. “You cannot turn the Elements against one of its creators!”

Soarin's eyes widened. “Rainbow! Twilight! Look out!” he screamed, before another wave battered his aura, rendering him mute.

But warning was of little use. The Archon reared up on his hind legs. His fore-hooves were completely engulfed in electricity. He slammed both forcefully to the ground, a quake erupting through the earth along with the crack of lightning. Immediately two bolts of electricity struck out across the ground from the craters, each seeking the nearest target. They chained viciously from Wonderbolt to Wonderbolt and to each Element Bearer in a fraction of a second.

Soarin' lost control of his body, muscles convulsing out of control. Tears formed at his eyes as he watched Scootaloo and Spitfire writhe in pain alongside him. Scootaloo... he tried to think, tried to reach out to her, to somehow comfort her, but his aura was no longer his to control. All they could do was stare blankly at one another as surges of lightning wracked their bodies.

Finally the surges stopped.

Soarin's body was numb. Smoke curled from his coat, parts of it seared completely off. Feeling was gone from his body and his muscles refused to move. Only his eyes responded, lazily turning toward the castle.

The Archon heaved heavily. He began to wobble slightly. One of the Tempest Guard rushed to his side, propping him up. He looked directly at Soarin', eyes significantly dimmed but just a intimidating.

“You all shall survive,” he said darkly. “And you pegasi here may still yet join me.”

Soarin's eyes phased in and out of focus, as awareness began to slip away.

“But know this,” the Archon's gaze narrowed on the Wonderbolt, “those who stand against the pegasus nation will perish.”

Soarin's sight continued to blur as he struggled to see.

“My Lord Archon, we must leave. You need rest,” one of the Tempest Guards said.

The Archon walked from Soarin's sight. “Yes,” the Archon said weakly. “To the outpost in exile. Show the way.”

Outpost? Exile? Soarin' thought. The words tumbled through his mind, but he was unable to concentrate.

His eyes landed on a Tempest Guard. His hood was drawn back. He stared at the Wonderbolt. Fear and confusion were on his face. Why...would that...be? Soarin' wondered. Answers eluded him as exhaustion tugged harder at his consciousness.

Just as sleep was about to take him, something touched his aura. Soarin's forced his eyes open.

The scared Tempest Guard looked back. Or was it confused? Soarin' couldn't remember. Confusion, fear, curiosity and even shame moved through his aura. All from this nameless Tempest Guard.

Maybe... maybe... Soarin' thought. Abruptly he pushed through the link with his aura, summoning the last of his strength.

The Tempest Guard recoiled in surprise, flinching.

“Windswept!”

The Tempest Guard looked away, then raced off. The link severed.

Flapping wings sounded in the air as Soarin' finally gave into exhaustion, lapsing into an unconscious darkness.

Ch. 21: Broken Alliances and Renewed Plans

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Legacy of the Pegasi:

Ch. 21: Broken Alliances and Renewed Plans

Pain. That was the first thing that Soarin' felt. A sore, numbing pain and a splitting headache. Eyes still closed, he tried to shift from his lying position, but his body protested violently. A groan escaped his mouth as he waited for the spike in pain to subside. Okay, don't move. Moving is bad, he thought. Sound reached his ears, what sounded like the shuffling about of hooves. Only one way to find out, Soarin' mentally groaned. Slowly his eyes opened.

Light reached his vision first, agitating Soarin's headache further. The stallion groaned again. Yep. Should've seen that one coming, Soarin' thought, memories of rigorous training exercises coming to mind. His eyes slowly adjusted, but the only thing he could see was a tan canvas overhead. That doesn't help too much, the stallion sighed. Screw it. No point in dragging it out.

Abruptly Soarin' forced himself up. His body protested again, if somewhat less so this time. Slowly he looked around, his mind still somewhat fuzzy. He was on a cot, one of many occupied within a large canvas tent. What appeared to be early morning light peered through the window screens as a cool, gentle breeze slipped through. IV bags and aid kits were distributed about. Near the other end of the tent Soarin' could see a white placard with a red cross affixed above the entryway. The bright red barn of Sweet Apple Acres lay beyond.

So he was back in Ponyville.

“Even after the hospital is destroyed, I still somehow find myself here,” he quipped to himself. A frown crossed his face. How did I get back here? That thought immediately disappeared, replaced by his friends. Rainbow! Scootaloo! Spitfire!

Frantically his eyes darted around the tent. He didn't have to look far. Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo were along either side of him, sleeping peacefully upon their own cots. Spitfire, Fleetfoot and the rest of the Wonderbolts were all in the row across from his. Slowly he looked to each one, watching for the rise and fall of breath.

Relief overcame Soarin'. Alive. We're all alive. Thank the Arc-

Soarin's mind blanched for a moment. He let out a mirthless chuckle at the irony.

“Mister Soarin'?!”

The Wonderbolt's head slowly turned to the far end of the tent. Oh yeah. The shuffling hooves thing, he thought, groaning aloud.

Doctor Remedy strode quickly forward between the rows of cots. “What are you doing up? You need to rest!”

“I'm already up,” Soarin' stated flatly. Slowly he began inch his rear hooves to the ground. “I need to know what's g-going...” he started to say, as abrupt dizziness overtook him. “N-need to...” he muttered again, still trying to reach for the ground. He was suddenly tired. So very tired...

“Absolutely not!” Doctor Remedy commanded. “With what you've been through, you shouldn't be alive, let alone up and about.” The doctor took a firm hold of Soarin', guiding him back to his cot. “Rest. Doctor's orders.”

Soarin' didn't argue this time.

Doctor Remedy watched Soarin' for a moment before trotting away.

Soarin' didn't let sleep take him yet. Gingerly he reached out to his aura. It was battered and bruised, as much as an ethereal link could be, but it was there. Slowly he reached out. One by one he felt for every Wonderbolt. To Spitfire. To Scootaloo. Each were dormant, but still hummed together.

Summoning what little strength he had, Soarin' shifted to his side. His eyes rested on the messy rainbow mane and the serene face beneath it.

Slowly he reached out to Rainbow. Her aura replied in the same dormant hum at first, but more soon followed. It was subtle, an underlying current of happiness that only came from her, directed entirely at his own aura. Sensations came to Soarin's mind. Flashy. Spicy-sweet. Determined.

A small, content smile came to Rainbow's face.

Soarin allowed himself a small smile. “She's cute when she's asleep,” he whispered to himself.

His eyelids grew heavy. Resigned to his fatigue, Soarin' wrapped himself in aural link between himself and Rainbow, drifting into a restful sleep.


Several hours later, Soarin' awoke. Sitting upright, he was surprised at the sudden energy and lack of pain from his body. He looked himself over. His wounds were healed, already scarred over. Only minor sores and aches remained, like he had only just been through flight practice.

“That is never not going to be weird,” he said. Slowly he took a deep breath. Spicy-sweet lingered about his aura.

“Glad to hear you're okay.”

Soarin' looked to the voice in front of him. Rainbow looked up at Soarin' from her cot with rested eyes. She was propped up on a hoof.

Soarin' jumped from his cot, kneeling down to eye level with Rainbow. “Rainbow! Are you okay?”

Rainbow smiled. “I'm more than okay. And that's saying something, after last night,” she added darkly.

Soarin' flinched slightly as memories from the Everfree rushed back all at once. Rainbow's voice pulled him back.

“All thanks to you.”

“Huh?”

Rainbow grinned, pushing herself up onto her forehooves. “You're aura, I felt it while I slept.” Rainbow looked coyly at Soarin' through her bedhead mane. “Playing around with that link between us again?”

“What?” Soarin' flustered. “N-no! I was just trying to make sure you were okay. And... well I thought that maybe it would help us heal from everything.”

“Well it did.” Rainbow stretched out, taking a deep breath. She sighed contently. “Mmm. Apple pie.”

Soarin' looked confused. Apple pie? Wh- my aura smells like apple pie? I don't even lik-

Soft lips pressed against Soarin's cheek rendered his mind numb. So blissfully numb.

“Thanks for looking out for me,” Rainbow whispered. Cautiously she looked around the tent. “But tell anyone I did that and you're toast,” she said with a teasing grin.

“Uh... yeah. S-sure.”

A tired yawn from behind Soarin' eased the sudden tension.

Soarin' looked over his shoulder.

Scootaloo was sitting upright. Bags hung under her eyes. She bleakly looked about the medical tent, looking completely lost and confused.

Rainbow Dash immediately jumped from her cot and leaped over Soarin's. She seated herself at Scootaloo's side, reaching out to her sister.

“Scootaloo! Are you okay?”

Scootaloo looked back blankly at Rainbow. “I feel like garbage,” she stated flatly.

Soarin' started to chuckle at the younger mare's crass reply, but it died in his throat when Scootaloo started to shake.

Rainbow wrapped a wing around Scootaloo, pulling her close into the older pegasus' hooves.

“Hey, don't worry Scoots, we're here okay? We're here for you.”

Scootaloo's shaking lessened. Her eyes remained at her hooves, but she leaned into Rainbow. “Everything's so wrong...” she whispered, more to herself than the other two pegasi. “Why does everything...” Scootaloo abruptly clenched her eyes shut, a few tears appearing.

Rainbow rubbed her sister's back, still trying to comfort her. She looked to Soarin' worriedly.

Soarin' sighed. Slowly he walked toward the two, seating himself along the other side of Scootaloo. Gently he took her hoof in his. Instead of words of comfort, he reached first to Rainbow's aura.

Rainbow made to scowl at Soarin', but she soon realized what he was doing.

With Soarin's aura joined with Rainbow's, he slowly reached out to Scootaloo.

Cold was the first sensation he felt. Scootaloo's aura was still hidden, but instead of the aggressive and harsh reaction from the night prior, it was now simply confused. Lost.

Soarin' risked to approach further. No walls met his advance. Only a greater sense of confusion, fear and pain.

Scootaloo slowly looked up at the two. “W-wha...”

“Like Rainbow said, we're here for you Scootaloo. We're a team, and we take care of each other.”

Scootaloo still seemed confused as she looked at Soarin', but there was more life in her eyes.

The three remained that way for several minutes.

Scootaloo began to stir.

Rainbow and Soarin' stood up, giving the teenager some space.

Scootaloo took several breaths. Her eyes held greater focus and her trembles had ceased. She looked between the two elder pegasi. “I-I feel better.”

Soarin' and Rainbow shared a grateful smile. Yet Soarin' could still feel the reservation about Scootaloo's aura. Some part of her was still hidden from the other two. I guess we can't expect her to be completely accepting just yet. Not with all she's been through, Soarin' thought. Her parents killed. Powers she barely understood, a world saving responsibility and the trauma of battle all thrust upon her within the course of a day. The only thing Soarin' had dealt with at that age was training for the military.

“But what did you do?”

“You're one of the Legacy Bearers now Scootaloo. Rainbow and I don't know a whole lot about it either, but between the three of us there's a connection. It seems we can bolster each other's strength through our aura's.”

“Though they seem to have a mind of their own at times...” Rainbow said off hoof.

“Yeah, well, like I said, neither of us knows too much just yet,” Soarin' said, shrugging. “Only that we're Bearers of the Legacy, and only together we'll be able to take down the Archon. Somehow. Commander Hurricane wasn't too big on specifics,” Soarin' said in an annoyed voice, as if addressing the deceased pegasus.

“Lightning Streak wasn't much better,” Rainbow said.

“Sounds like Ice Wing,” Scootaloo remarked.

“Who?” Rainbow asked.

Scootaloo cringed slightly as if she had spoken too loud. “Um, well, she's a ghost.” She waited for a reaction between Soarin' and Rainbow, but neither were fazed. “She was one of the bearers you were talking about. And... she told me some stuff.”

“About what?” Soarin' asked, though he had an idea of what the ghost had told Scootaloo.

Scootaloo sighed. “About what would happen if I didn't make the right choice.” She looked between Rainbow Dash and Soarin'.

Soarin' could feel Scootaloo's aura tentatively reach out to himself and Rainbow. There was still pain and confusion. But there was now also fear. Not for herself. Not for the journey ahead. But a fear for the two pegasi beside her.

“But you don't have to worry about me.” Scootaloo raised her head a little higher. At the same time Soarin' felt her aura swell with an unsure courage, but courage all the same. “I'm ready to do this. I-I think.”

Scootaloo looked expectantly to Rainbow Dash with a weak smile.

Soarin' looked as well, expecting Rainbow to burst forth with pride. Instead the elder mare was very still, looking almost sadly at Scootaloo.

Soarin' didn't need his aura to see the split second worry and fear behind Rainbow's eyes.

A second later Rainbow caught herself, falling back to her usual swagger.

“Now that's what I'm talking about!” Rainbow announced just a little too convincingly.

Scootaloo hadn't noticed.

Rainbow pulled her into a massive hug. “Hey, have I ever told you how incredibly awesome you are?”

Scootaloo managed a weak smirk. “Once or twice.”

Outwardly Soarin' put on a convincing smile. Inwardly he frowned. He could feel genuine pride flow from Rainbow's aura, but it was practically lost in a wave of worry and fear.

Rainbow let Scootaloo go with a laugh. “Good. But don't think I'm about to let you out of my sight. I'm still your big sister after all.”


Scootaloo made to protest, but Rainbow cut her off.

“So where do we go from here? Now that we've got the three of us together.”

Soarin' frowned. That really was the question wasn't it? Up until now they had been grasping in the dark to gather the Legacy Bearers, reacting to events around them. Now that they were together, what were they to do?

“Something's still missing,” Soarin' thought aloud. “We couldn't defeat the Archon last night, even with us all together.”

“Well that was just winging it, if I remember correctly,” Rainbow said, frowning at Soarin'. “Outside of awesome healing powers and poking each other all mystically and stuff we don't really know how to use this Legacy Bearer stuff.”

“Poking each other?” Scootaloo questioned.

Soarin' ignored Rainbow's glib remark, thinking over the past few days. His aura abruptly jumped, thrusting the answer to the forefront of his mind.

“Pegasi Peak.”

Scootaloo ceased questioning an embarrassed Rainbow about 'poking', both looking to Soarin' confusedly.

“Huh?” Both said in unison.

"Pegasi Peak," Soarin' repeated, looking to Rainbow. "From the mesa inside the mountain. Remember? The vision and the stone altar."

Rainbow's eyes lit up as Soarin's words sunk in. "You're right! It's the only lead we have left."

"Pegasi Peak?" Scootaloo spoke up, looking confused again between Soarin' and Rainbow. “You're talking about what you guys found in the caves right?”

“Yeah,” Soarin' confirmed. “Last time it was just me and Rainbow. But with the three of us together, I think we might be able to unlock whatever power Commander Hurricane was talking about.”

“Then what are we waiting for?” Rainbow announced, stretching her wings.

Soarin' caught the look of eager excitement in Scootaloo's eyes as her wings fidgeted in apprehension.

“Hold on you two,” Soarin' said. “We shouldn't just go jumping in. A lot's happened in the past twenty fours hours. We need to plan this out.”

Rainbow cocked a brow, clearly not impressed. “Wow. Since when did you start sounding like Twilight?”

“Wonderbolt's always have a plan,” Soarin' recited mechanically. “Better yet, we need to figure out what's going. We should find Spitf-”

“Soarin'!” A familiar voice called out.

Soarin's eyes jerked toward the tent entrance.

Spitfire hobbled as quickly as her hooves would allow toward the trio.

Doctor Remedy quickly intercepted the Wonderbolt. “Captain Spitfire! How did you get out of here? You need rest!”

“Outta my way doc!” Spitfire roughly brushed past the physician.

Soarin' ran forward to meet Spitfire halfway.

“Spits, I- whoa there!”

Spitfire stumbled beneath her unsteady hooves, nearly falling to the ground. Soarin' leaned forward, catching the mare to his side. Slowly he propped her up.

“Stupid hooves...” Spitfire grimaced.

“You good?” Soarin' asked.

Soarin' waited for Spitfire to steady herself. He wasn't prepared when she abruptly pulled him into an awkward hug.

“I came as soon as I heard you were awake!” She said quickly, pulling all the tighter at Soarin'. “Are you okay? Are you all okay?”

Soarin' smirked, allowing Spitfire to ease herself back to her hooves. “Actually I think I should be asking you that. But yeah, I'm good. I'm a super pegasus now, remember?”

“Har har, shut up,” Spitfire said, punching Soarin' in the chest.

“Offh!” Soarin' coughed, bending over slightly. Captain still got a good punch in her...

Spitfire noticeably ignored Soarin'. Instead she looked to Rainbow. “You okay Rainbow?”

Rainbow smiled appreciatively. “Top notch Captain.”

“And you Scootaloo? Are you doing alright?”

Soarin' and Rainbow turned to Scootaloo.

The younger mare was silent, refusing to look at Spitfire.

Soarin' and Rainbow shared an uneasy glance. Soarin' reached out with his aura. Scootaloo's aura had turned ice cold. More so than Soarin' had felt up to that point. He narrowed his gaze at the younger pegasus. Scootaloo, what's wrong?

Spitfire hesitantly stepped forward, an unsure look on her face. “Uh, Scootaloo... did you hear me?”

Soarin' could feel the warmth in Spitfire's aura unconsciously reach out to Scootaloo. The icy barrier around her intensified.

Scootaloo remained impassive, staring at her hooves and ignoring Spitfire like she wasn't there.

Soarin' felt the hurt before he saw it briefly flash across Spitfire's face.

“She's fine.” Rainbow said quickly, trying to reassure the Wonderbolt.

“Ahem.” Soarin' cleared his throat. “We were actually about to find you Spits.”

To her credit, Spitfire quickly composed herself. She turned to Soarin'. “Right, guess I saved you the trouble then,” she said.

Spitfire was silent for a moment, seeming to think on what to say. Soarin' frowned. That's not good.

“We've got a lot on our plate now,” she said finally with a grumble. Spitfire looked over Soarin's shoulder to Rainbow. “You're unicorn friend decided to take matters into her own hooves and involve the royals,” she growled.

Rainbow's eyes lit up. “Celestia? She sent her a letter?”

“Right before we left into the Everfree.”

Soarin' eyes lingered ahead as he began to piece the picture together. “That's how got back here, isn't it?” He said, looking to Spitfire.

“Rescued by the Royal Guard no less!” Spitfire exclaimed, throwing her hooves into the air. She nearly stumbled again, but caught Soarin's outstretched hoof. She ran a hoof through her mane. “I can't believe the Wonderbolts are in debt to those Cloudsdale washouts...” she muttered.

Soarin' frowned slightly. “Well, considering what happened, I think we can overlook that one Spits...” Soarin' trailed off, trying not to agitate her further.

“Oh it gets better!” Spitfire announced in a mock tone. “She did more than call for the Guard. She pulled out all the stops!”

“Wait, you mean...” Rainbow started to say.

“Let's go,” Spitfire said, turning toward the entrance. “We've been 'summoned' by the royals to discuss a course of action.”

“Princess Celestia is here?” Rainbow said, flying overhead to Spitfire.

Spitfire looked up flatly at Rainbow, not at all sharing in the other pegasus' elation. “Yes,” she said tersely, baring her teeth slightly. “And moon butt is with her.” She strode past Rainbow toward the entrance way. “Now come on, lets get this over with so the pegasi who really know what they're doing can resolve the situation before it gets any worse.”

Spitfire disappeared outside the tent.

So now the royals are involved, Soarin' thought, frowning. We've got to deal with those two.

Rainbow looked to Soarin', a slightly put off and unsure look on her face. “Is she going to be okay? I mean, I know you guys don't really like Celestia and Luna and all, but they can help us.”

Soarin' sighed, putting a hoof to the bridge of his nose. “Yeah... she's just frustrated, that's all,” he said with a sigh. He gestured to Rainbow and Scootaloo. “Lets go see what this is all about.”


Soarin', Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo joined the small congregation of ponies inside the Apple family's barn. Rainbow's friends were seated on hay bales to the left. Across from them were the small number of Wonderbolts who had recovered, some seated on hay bales, others perched upon the rafters within the barn. Spitfire leaned lazily against a support beam with an annoyed look on her face, Fleetfoot at her side. Bridging the two groups and seated at the end of the barn were the Diarchs Princess Celestia and Luna. Both were flanked by a pair of rigid and unmoving Royal Guards.

The trio had only taken a few steps before a exuberant shout assaulted them.

“Rainbow Dash! Scootaloo!”

Soarin' barely blinked as a pink blur swept past him. Turning around he witnessed a very happy Pinkie Pie as she enveloped Rainbow and Scootaloo in a massive hug. “I'm so happy you guys are okay!”

“Ack! Pink-” Rainbow flailed about, to no avail.

Soarin' chuckled as the two ponies gasped for air.

“Yeah, we're, ack... we're glad to see you're okay too Pinkie,” Scootaloo managed to say.

“Don't think I forgot about you Soarin'!”

“Huh?”

Soarin' immediately found himself in the pink clutches of a vice like hug. “I wouldn't leave out Dash's coltfriend!”

Coltfriend? Soarin' thought dumbly. Wait. When did this happen? I mean, I like her, but I don't remember making a move like that? “Um...” Was all he could mutter, as he meekly looked to Rainbow.

Rainbow wasn't much better. An unsure look was on her face as she looked to Soarin'. “Um...”

“Um?” Pinkie said obliviously. “Aren't you two like the knight in shining armor and his fair princess?” Pinkie said dramatically, still gripping Soarin' tightly.

Scootaloo looked awkwardly at Pinkie, then rolled her eyes.

“Who you calling 'fair princess'?” Rainbow remarked sharply in a moment of clarity.

Soarin' took a moment to gasp for air. “Um, Pinkie, Rainbow and I...” his trailed off, his eyes apprehensively looking to Rainbow, “we're uh, we're not there. Yet.”

Pinkie abruptly dropped Soarin' to the ground. “Oh! Okie dokie lokie!”

Soarin' rose to his hooves. “Ugh.” He risked a looked a Rainbow, trying to look as normal as possible.

Rainbow mirrored the stallion's efforts, appearing mildly annoyed with her friend's antics. Despite this, Soarin' glimpsed a momentary smile from Rainbow. It quickly disappeared behind an excited smile as Rainbow called out to her other friends.

Soarin' grinned to himself. Well played Soarin', well played.

The rest of Rainbow's friends quickly circled the newcomers, exchanging hugs and gratitude for one another.

A serene voice addressed the happy group.

“I am quite happy to see you all safe and well.”

Soarin' looked toward the center of barn.

A pure white Alicorn and the eternal co-ruler of Equestria, Celestia stood well over a head above the other gathered ponies, a part of her much larger stature. Yet she still maintained a very graceful appearance, with a mane and a tail of ever shifting light blue, pink and green that continually wafted about magically. A golden crown inset with a purple gem rested upon her head with a matching peytral about her chest. A blazing sun adorned her flank, signifying her role in raising and lowering the sun.

Celestia looked warmly at the happy group, but the Wonderbolt could tell that the monarch was troubled. She appeared as calm as she was oft spoken of, yet Soarin' got the distinct impression that Celestia was not at ease.

Well she can worry all she wants, Soarin' thought. Just so long as she doesn't get in the way.

“As am I,” Luna added stoically. “But we must not waste time, for we have little of it if what has transpired recently is true.”

Princess Luna, recently reformed from her one-thousand year imprisonment as Nightmare Moon was of a slightly smaller stature than her sister. As the Princess of the Night her coat was a very dark navy blue, with a mane and tail of similar hues and twinkling stars that behaved the same as her sister's. She wore a black crown and peytral with a crescent moon upon it. As was her duty over the moon, a crescent moon marked her flanks as her talent.

Soarin' regarded the Lunar Princess for a moment as he made his way toward Spitfire and Fleetfoot. Unlike her sister she appeared utterly calm, devoid of any outward emotion. If anything, Soarin' would guess she was evaluating and calculating the situation at hoof, such was her speech.

“I agree with Princess Luna,” Spitfire said evenly. “We need to formulate a course of action ASAP, track down the Tempest Guard and eliminate the threat.”

Hm. Soarin' thought absently, as he watched Spitfire from the corner of his eye. Her voice was even and neutral, but from the agitated swishing of her tail and her fidgeting wings he could tell she was barely entertaining the monarchs' meeting.

“A bold statement young one,” Celestia said, nodding to Spitfire. “But I must urge caution. First I would like to know all that has transpired here before we come to a decision.”

Soarin' barely caught the twitch in Spitfire's eye. Inwardly he groaned. Just keep it together Spits. We'll be the ones to sort this out, just keep a lid on that temper of yours.

Over the next hour, Soarin', Rainbow Dash, Scootaloo and the Element Bearers proceeded to recount the past days' events in detail. For his own part, Soarin' opted again to omit any mention of his parents.

“We tried using the Elements of Harmony, but that kinda backfired...” Rainbow trailed off.

“He attacked us with lightning,” Soarin' said bluntly, picking up where Rainbow left off. “Power I've seen or felt before. I have no comparison, but this has to be the Archon,” Soarin' said resolutely, looking squarely at the Princesses.

“You know the rest from there,” Spitfire added quickly.

Celestia was silent the trio had finished, her brow furrowed as she thought.

Soarin' glanced Spitfire's way. Her demeanor hadn't changed, but her aura said otherwise. A quick look revealed a fiery and volatile swirling about Spitfire's chest. The lack of action was starting to wear on the Wonderbolt.

“To think that one of the Ascended was interred beneath our home for all those centuries...” Luna commented absently.

“And never once did we suspect a thing,” Celestia added. “Though I would guess that Commander Hurricane intended it to be so when he presented the castle to us.”

Twilight stepped forward to address her teacher. “He said that he helped create the Elements, which I didn't even think was possible. Did you know? Is it something that can help us? What are the Ascended? I have so many questions-”

Celestia raised her hoof, signaling Twilight to stop.

“I don't think now is the time for a history lesson,” Spitfire said irritably.

Soarin' grunted, echoing his Captain's sentiment. This is taking too long. We need a plan so Rainbow, Scootaloo and I can get to Pegasi Peak!

Celestia ignored Spitfire's remark.

“I will endeavor to answer what I can, my faithful student. But you must remember, though some ponies may think so, my sister and I are not omnipotent. Time has afforded me knowledge, but there are pieces of the deep histories that even I am not privy to.”

Luna cocked a head toward Spitfire. “We will offer the abbreviated version.”

Spitfire nodded.

“The Elements of Harmony have not always existed,” Celestia started. “Rather they were created at the proposal of Luna and I to combat Discord.”

“But to create weapons of such purity could never be done by ourselves alone,” Luna said. “It could only be accomplished through the mutual combination of beings of great power from across Equestria and beyond.”

“Beings similar to my sister and I, from all the major races,” Celestia continued. “unicorns, earth ponies, zebras, minotaurs, dragons and pegasi.”

“They came in delegations. For the pegasi, this consisted of their entire ruling council from the Skythan Empire,” Luna said. “It was the first time many of the races had met amicably. The Skythan Pegasi were particularly secretive,” Luna said, before a wry smile appeared on her face. “And quite handsome as well, if I recall.”

“Sister...,” Celestia said dismissively, before simply shaking her head.

Several pegasi mumbled and muttered at Luna's revelation, Soarin' among them. So Skythus did exist. And there was an Archon council. Guess I shouldn't put it past Celestia and Luna to keep secrets about our past from us.

“Assembled with the others we were able to create the Elements, and dispel Discord. Following the conflict the Ascended disappeared,” Celestia said. “We never heard from the Skythan pegasi again until Commander Hurricane arrived in Equestria along with the rest of his race. All he could tell us was that the Archon Council had disappeared and left the pegasi to their own fate.”

“Until now it seems,” Luna added darkly. She looked across the assembled ponies for a moment. “The opponent you faced a last night is indeed an Archon, proven by the Elements ineffectiveness. The elements were in part birthed from his power; he cannot be harmed by them.”

“Yeah, I think we figured that one out,” Spitfire said flatly.

Soarin' noted a particularly nasty look from Luna directed right at Spitfire. The Wonderbolt seemed to pay no mind.

“If that's all true then,” Applejack started to say slowly, looking to Luna, “then how's come the Elements worked on you?”

Luna looked thoughtful for a moment before responding. “I... willfully changed myself through dark magics into Nightmare Moon. From that point onward I was no long Luna, the one who had contributed her magic to the Elements creation. In fact, I believe that is what allowed the Elements to restore me; with my own magic that is a part of their power.”

“It would appear that the Archon has made no such changes to himself,” Celestia added.

“But if the Elements won't work, what will we do?” Twilight said. “Is there anything you can do Princess? You both were with them all those years ago, do you know how we might stop him?”

Luna shook her head. “As I said before, the pegasi were quite secretive. My sister and I know as much as you do about the abilities of an Archon.”

Soarin' noted the depressing looks amongst the Ponyville citizens.

“I know that is not answer you wanted to hear,” Celestia said. “But do not think that we will do nothing.”

“Indeed!” Luna abruptly shouted, stamping her hoof to the ground. “It has been too long since I have took to the sky in battle!”

Celestia shot a slightly disapproving look at her sister. “Perhaps. Unfortunately, other threats have come about.”

That was news to Soarin'. Other threats?

“There have been rumors of attacks along our borders with the dragon lands,” Celestia said grimly. “Contact has been lost with several fringe villages.”

“And there is unrest even within our own realm,” Luna said, looking squarely at Spitfire.

Did she actually just say that? Soarin' thought in disbelief, right before the mare next to him exploded.

“Are you calling Cloudsdale a threat?!” Spitfire nearly shouted, rounding to face the lunar monarch with wings flared.

Steely gazes, including Soarin's, were immediately amongst the Wonderbolts, all directed at the lunar monarch.

“Because right now the only 'threat' I see is wasted time from two 'rulers' who have told me nothing worthwhile!” Spitfire growled baring her teeth.

Celestia was impassive, but her sister was not so calm. Her glare intensified onto the Wonderbolt Captain.

The Royal Guard next to Celestia stepped forward. “Captain Spitfire you are out of line! I will not tolerate such disrespect! Remember who your allegiance lies with!”

“My allegiance is to Cloudsdale and the pegasi!” Spitfire shouted back, taking an aggressive step toward the Guard.

Soarin' took a stance next to his Captain. This crosses the line, he thought angrily, glaring at Celestia and Luna. We're better off without their 'help'.

He almost didn't feel Rainbow's aura brush up against his own.

Abruptly Rainbow Dash flew into the center of the barn, placing herself between the Wonderbolts and the Royal Guard. “Hey, whoa hold on everypony, we're all on the same team here,” she said apprehensively. She looked for help down at Soarin'.

For the briefest of moments, Soarin' considered doing nothing. For one of the monarchs to insinuate that Cloudsdale would be a threat to the country boiled his pegasus blood. But the look on Rainbow's face and the calming touch of her aura told him she was right. This was the worst time to start fighting with allies. Even if he didn't like them.

He made to reply to Rainbow, when the sudden thud of wooden doors cut him off.

All eyes turned toward the barn entrance.

In rushed one of the Royal Guards. “I bring urgent news from the interrogators.”

“Interrogators?” Soarin' say aloud, looking confusedly to Spitfire. “We have a captive?”

A bewildered look overcame Spitfire. She whirled around onto the messenger. “Why wasn't I notified we captured a Tempest Guard?!”

The Guard looked unsure between Spitfire and Princess Celestia and Luna.

“Please, render you report,” Celestia said calmly.

“They were unable to divulge any information from him,” the Guard said.

Were? Soarin' thought. He realized it the same time Spitfire did.

A mixture of disgust and fury marked Spitfire's face.

“We were changing interrogators when he killed himself. Overloaded the amulet they wore and detonated it against his chest,” the Guard finished gravely.

“You left him alone? And didn't even think to strip him of his amulet?” Spitfire said incredulously. “Could you be any more of an incompetent clipped wing? Of all the wasted oppor-” she started to mutter angrily before suddenly composing herself, turning back to the monarchs.

Soarin' glanced worriedly at Spitfire as she stared impassively at Celestia and Luna.

“That's it,” Spitfire said in a commanding voice, addressing all those assembled. “In light of the threat at hoof to Cloudsdale and with the full authorization of Supreme Commander Dark Shot I'm initiating the Hurricane Contingency.”

Soarin' sighed in resignation. So its come to this.

Those assembled muttered confusedly at Spitfire's announcement.

Celestia arched a brow. “I'm not familiar with such a thing.”

“You wouldn't be. It's classified,” Spitfire replied dryly.

“Classified!?” Twilight's exclaimed. “She's the princess!”

Spitfire looked annoyed at Twilight. “And as of right now, that means nothing to me.” Spitfire turned back to Celestia and Luna. “Martial law now exists within Cloudsdale. Until the threat is eliminated, Cloudsdale and the pegasi military no longer answer to Canterlot.”

Abruptly, Spitfire made an about face, striding toward the door. The rest of the Wonderbolts, save for Soarin' followed her.

“Spitfire wait!” Rainbow Dash called out.

“Let her go,” Luna said evenly. “She will not be dissuaded.”

“Perhaps you could enlighten me as to what this 'Hurricane Contingency' entails?” Celestia asked, looking to Soarin'.

Soarin' looked at the Alicorn for a moment. He sighed. At this point it doesn't matter. “The Hurricane Contingency is Commander Hurricane's final orders. Most of the details have been lost over the years, but the basic instructions still exist. In the time when the 'great storms' threaten the sky, the aerial legions will be immediately recalled to fight against the 'enemy of old to the pegasi nation',” Soarin' recited. “The Twin Storms were the first sign. And the Archon has followed it.” Soarin' looked over his shoulder to were Spitfire and the rest of the Wonderbolts had left. “The pegasi military will gather it's forces at the air base in Los Pegasus and confront the threat.”

“Hurricane knew he would return,” Luna said softly.

Celestia looked alarmed, turning to her sister. “You knew this?”

“I am very sorry sister,” Luna admitted. “He said many things back then. I had forgotten, it has been so long, and thinking of him...” Luna paused for a moment, seeming to think over her words. “Thinking of him and our time together... it has been difficult.” She finished, a sad look upon her face.

Celestia's gaze softened, offering her sister a quick hug with her wing.

Celestia turned to Soarin'. “You speak of your comrades gathering at Los Pegasus, yet here you remain. You spoke as if you do not plan on joining them.”

Soarin' opened his mouth, then closed it. For a moment he was quiet. He looked to Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo, feeling their aura's connect with his.

He looked back to Celestia and Luna.

“The Wonderbolts and the pegasi military will do whatever it takes to defeat the Archon,” he said boldly. “But... I think there may be a better way,” he said in an unsure voice, shuffling his hooves. “The only way.”

Celestia walked over to Soarin', who was now joined by Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo at his side. “I believe you are right, Soarin' Legacy Bearer,” she said, smiling warmly down at the trio.

Luna walked up beside her sister. “It would appear that the legends of the Legacy Bearers were true. My sister and I do not know of the powers you three hold within you, but I do not believe it is a coincidence that you three have come to bear them now.”

“Don't worry Princess,” Rainbow said confidently. “We'll buck that Archon jerk so hard he won't know what hit him!”

“Rainbow!” Twilight said disapprovingly, chastising the pegasus' language.

Luna chuckled. “I have no doubt of your determination.”

“I believe you three are the best we have at defeating this threat,” Celestia said in a serious tone. “The situation now is most dire. My sister and I can combat the Archon, but our power alone will not defeat him. A battle of immortals would only serve greater destruction. I will not be able to assist you, rather I will go to investigate the rumors along the dragon borders.”

“And I to speak with the Cloudsdale Consul,” Luna said. She turned to Soarin'. “He has already relayed to me prior what your Captain spoke of. Cloudsdale stands apart from the rest of Equestria.”

“Forgive me if I don't sympathize with you Princess,” Soarin' replied lightly.

Luna bowed her head. “You must forgive my earlier assertion. I only wish to ensure our subjects safety. Recent political events have turned most sour,” she said bitterly. “Regardless of the Consul's claim of independence, I still care deeply for Hurricane's kin. And despite what you may think, I have always held a special place in my heart for the Cloudsdale pegasi,” she said wistfully. “They have always held my starry nights in such high regard...” she trailed off.

“What will you do now?” Celestia asked.

Soarin' looked between Rainbow and Scootaloo, then back to the Princess. “We're going to Pegasi Peak. Commander Hurricane left something there for us. I'm not sure what it is, but I think it will help us against the Archon. After that, I'm not sure.”

Celestia bowed her head. “I wish you the best of luck. And while I know that you may not hold my sister and I in the highest regard, always remember that you will always be a friend amongst us.”

Soarin' didn't reply, instead rendering a curt nod.

From there the remaining ponies departed. Rainbow's friends exited the barn. Twilight accompanied her teacher, pouring over questions as the two departed.

Soarin' walked toward the entrance with Rainbow and Scootaloo.

“Lieutenant Soarin', a moment if I may,” Princess Luna said.

Soarin' looked to Rainbow and Scootaloo.

“We'll meet up later,” Rainbow said. “And be nice to Luna. She's a friend,” she added before exiting the barn, Scootaloo following after her.

Soarin' turned to Luna. “Alright. What is it?”

A wry smile came to Luna's face. “Please do not be angry with me Soarin', I meant what I said before. I merely wish to share a few words that may be of help.”

Soarin' sighed. “Okay. Let's hear it.”

“Hurricane spoke little of his time as the Legacy Bearer, even to myself. He only said that a 'whole spirit would be as a razor forged blade',” Luna recited sadly. “Then and even now I do not know entirely what he meant by such words. But I would pass on what little I have in the hopes that they may aid you.”

“Old scars re-opened and a broken blade.” Commander Hurricane's words echoed in Soarin's mind. “He will not be struck down by a blunted edge.” Again with that, Soarin' thought. Why didn't Hurricane come out and tell him what was the problem? What did he have to fix?

“Does it mean anything to you?”

Soarin' blinked, Luna's words bringing him from his thoughts. He hadn't realized how quiet it had become between the two.

“I'm not sure,” Soarin' said truthfully, looking to Luna. “I... I need to think about it. Talk with the others.”

Luna sighed. “I suppose it was too much to hope that it would bring about an end to this crisis.” Her gaze lingered over to Soarin', smiling warmly.

“You look so very much like him, I hope you should know,” Luna commented with a coy smile.

Soarin' was slightly taken aback by the Princess' forwardness. “Uh... thanks?”

Luna laughed. “I can assure Soarin', it is indeed a compliment. A sign of your deeds to come perhaps?” She asked, moving toward the exit.

“If it means that we can stop this, then I'll take it.”

Luna stopped in the doorway. “Oh and if I may say, Rainbow Dash should consider herself a very lucky mare,” she said wryly, winking at Soarin'.

Soarin' made to reply but the Lunar Princess had already left.

Rolling his eyes, Soarin' followed after, off to seek out Rainbow and Scootaloo.


A short while later Soarin' met with Rainbow Dash near the edge of Sweet Apple Acres. Rainbow's friends were there as well, along with Celestia and Luna. The Wonderbolts were gathered a short distance away, each clad in their armor, and making final preparations to their gear.

Soarin' looked all around the group. “Where's Scootaloo?”

“She said she had to take care of something important,” Rainbow said sullenly. “Not sure why she's avoiding her.”

Soarin' shook his head. Why are you making this so hard on her Scootaloo?

Spitfire walked over to the trio, her helmet tucked under her wing. “We're about ready to leave,” she said.

Her words seemed hollow somehow, Soarin' thought sadly.

“Right,” Rainbow said, casting a sidelong glance at Soarin'. “I'm not really sure what you guys' are going to do, but I know you'll kick flank.” Rainbow offered her hoof to Spitfire. “Stay safe out there.”

Spitfire grinned back, meeting Rainbow's hoof with her own. “Same to you Rainbow. And take care of this big guy,” she looked to Soarin' with a cocky grin, “stars knows he'll need it if I'm not around.”

Her jab earned a playful smirk from the stallion. “What can I say? Super powers turned me into a loose cannon.”

Both Wonderbolts laughed.

Spitfire looked around group absently, but Soarin' could tell what she was looking for. Or rather who she was looking for.

“Where's um...” Spitfire's wings fidgeted. “Where's Scootaloo?”

Rainbow sighed. “Said she had something important to take care of.”

“Oh,” Spitfire said weakly. Her eyes drifted over her hooves, seemingly lost in thought. “Kinda wanted to...” her words were lost in a mumble.

Soarin' thought he saw Spitfire swallow before she took a deep breath, looking up at Rainbow, slightly more composed. “Can... can you tell her to be safe?” She asked. “And that she's a tough pegasus, more than she knows? Okay?” Spitfire said awkwardly. Soarin' could tell the mare was doing her best not to get to choked up.

“I promise,” Rainbow said.

Spitfire nodded in thanks. She turned to Soarin'.

“You sure I can't convince you to come with us? Technically speaking, you could be charged with being AWOL if you don't show up at Los Pegasus,” she said with weak smile.

Soarin' chuckled awkwardly. “Heh. Yeah.”

For a moment it was quiet between the two Wonderbolts.

Spitfire abruptly threw her hooves around Soarin's neck.

“Damnit you better stay safe out there!”

Soarin' felt dampness around his neck as he returned Spitfire's hug in kind. He didn't even try to hold back the few tears that trickled down onto her mane. “I w-will.”

“And that's an order!” Spitfire pulled herself away, hooves still resting on Soarin's shoulders and his on hers. “Which means when this is all over, and you're this big stupid hero after kicking that clipped wings flank, I'm going to see you in Cloudsdale ready to go!”

Soarin' couldn't help but smile even as tears continued down his cheeks. “Roger Captain.”

He could tell his grin only served to further tear up her attempt to remain firm. “Cause I need my second in command!” Spitfire was quiet for a moment. When she spoke again, her voice was barely above a whisper. “And I need my b-best friend. I don't leave f-friends behind! Y-you got it?!”

“I p-promise Spitfire,” Soarin' replied shakily. “Be careful out there. I-I need you too,” he barely managed to say, his voice nearly lost to him. He put on the biggest smile he could muster. “You're gonna be the hero to lead the 'Bolts through all this. I know it.”

Spitfire swallowed hard, sniffling. All she could do was manage a nod.

Fleetfoot walked up behind Spitfire. “Captain? We're ready to go.”

Spitfire released Soarin'. Taking a deep breath, she composed herself as best she could. “Right. We make for Los Pegasus.” With a final nod toward Soarin', she left to rejoin the rest of the Wonderbolts.

Soarin' watched her walk away, dread filling him. The realization that she was going into danger, and he wouldn't be there. He reached forth with his aura, touching upon Spitfire's.

Save for his own and Rainbow's, Spitfire's aura burned bright. Some of his worries melted away as he he felt the absolute strength that flowed from hers to his. Be careful Spitfire. I need my best friend too.

“Fleets.” Soarin' said, still looking on after Spitfire. “Take care of her.”

Fleetfoot nodded, before quickly thrusting his helmet over his head. He followed after Spitfire.

Soarin' watched the armor clad Wonderbolts standing in formation, with Spitfire at the head. “Defensores Caelum!” She shouted, thrusting her helmet on and leaping into the sky.

“DEFENSORES CAELUM!” Erupted from the Wonderbolts. Immediately they leaped into the air with incredible speed, following their Captain across the sky.

Soarin' watched the yellow winged pegasus at the head of the pack until she was only a dot on the horizon. “Defensores Caelum,” he whispered.

Rainbow sided up next to Soarin', offering a comforting smile as she draped a wing over his back.

“That one is brash, disrespectful, insubordinate and reckless,” Luna said, her eyes lingering on the horizon. A smirk came to her face.

“I like her.”

Ch. 22: Strategies and Visions

View Online

Legacy of the Pegasi:

Ch. 22: Strategies and Visions

Windswept slowly opened his eyes. Streams of sunlight danced upon his face, forcing him to squint. Rather than sit up, he remained motionless, allowing his mind sweep away the fog of sleep.

The previous night's battles replayed through his mind. The journey through the Everfree and the castle. High Winds ghost and his warning. Freeing the Archon. Confronting the Wonderbolts and the other, curious pegasi. He could feel the latent euphoria from the events rise in his chest, only to be stifled as soreness wracked his body when he tried to sit up.

Windswept grimaced slightly. The pain subsided.

His eyes lingered about his surroundings. Where am I?

He dove back into his memories as he blankly looked about the cloud room, what appeared to be a barracks lined with bunks. Several were occupied by sleeping Tempest Guards. The rest of the room was bare, only small windows and wrought iron lanterns adorning the walls.

At the very least he could deduce that he was in some kind of pegasi structure.

Still, Windswept strained mentally, sifting through his mind. We left the castle, he recalled. At the time his fatigue had nearly taken him, among others of the Tempest Guard. Hazy images of approaching what appeared to be some kind of pegasi building came to mind.

He sat for a moment longer, hoping more would come about, but his mind was blank. He had only the vague sensation that he had been guided through the building half asleep, only to end in the blissful comfort of his bunk.

Windswept shook his head, trying to rouse himself. “Won't find any answers loafing around.”

Gently he tested his wings. Thankfully they seemed to have escaped the worst of his fatigue. Slowly he hovered to floor, being careful not to wake the others.

Walking toward the doorway he noticed his cloak hanging on a rack. A note was attached to it.

Join us in the Great Hall when you awake. There is much to discuss.

S.W.

Windswept regarded the note for a moment, before silently donning his cloak.

“Great Hall? I don't even know where that is.”

Without thinking, Windswept brought a hoof to his clasp amulet, fastening it into place. Joined once more to the device, he immediately felt the undercurrent of aura's around him. One in particular stood out, only a short way down the hall.

“I see,” he said softly, glancing down at the lightning wings at his chest.

Windswept slowly made his way through the compound, taking in the spartan facility. He glanced out of several windows as he continued to make his was onward, only to be greeted by an all encompassing mist, small breaks only affording him the briefest view of the sun above and mountainous terrain very near the bottom of the structure.

Windswept stopped at a cross intersection. Small signs posted on the walls hinted at the building's origins, labeled in faded stenciling.

“Barracks, Armory, Great Hall, Infirmary.” Windswept listed off. This is some kind of military facility?

Absently he glanced up. Above the entry way to each hall was a faded seal. A pair of lightning wings spread horizontally, with an ancient pegasus helm in the center. Behind the helm were a pair of crossed spears. Below, etched into the stone were the letters 'C.A.F.' Above the seal was the Cloudsdale Standard.

“Cloudsdale Air Force,” Windswept recited. And the Tempest Guard are here?

His eyes looked to the sign again. The Great Hall was just ahead.

Moments later Windswept found himself in the doorway to a vast chamber.

The Great Hall lived up to its name. The rafters of the room reached to the greatest height of the structure, Windswept guessed, though he wasn't sure of the building's full scale. Nevertheless, the height was impressive, easily twenty hooves up from the floor. Banners scaled the full height of the walls, emblazoned with the same military crest from the hall. They were set between equally vast windows, from which streams of golden light peered down into the room. Statues of pegasi in various poses of battle lined the walls.

Windswept slowly walked into the room, his head twisting about as he gawked.

Large lanterns hung in two rows from the ceiling, each set with the pegasi's distinctive crystal light as opposed to primitive candles. Along with the banners, the lanterns stretched the full length of the hall, over one-hundred hooves. At the far end of the hall on a raised stage there was a series of tables, all centered around an executive desk. A large stone etching of a vertical lightning bolt with wings marked the back wall, below which were the words '112th Legacy Guard'. Tack boards littered the room, old memos and maps hanging from them, covered in dust and cobwebs. However, the most distinctive piece sat in the middle of the room.

A massive circular table stood in the center of the floor, easily taking up half the width of the room and a quarter of it's length. A three dimensional map of Equestria was pinned to it's surface, segmented into grids. Miniatures of airborne pegasi, cloud structures, large colored arrows and other figures littered the tabletop. Windswept immediately recognized Cloudsdale, several arrows converging upon it from Smokey Mountain.

“I'm glad to see you up and well Windswept.”

Windswept's eyes jerked up from studying the map. Silver Wings stood at the other end of the table, Dominus at his side.

“Oh, hello Silver. Sorry, I didn't even see you there, with all...this,” Windswept said, gesturing about the room.

“Ah, yes our little hideaway,” Silver said. “Our good friend Dominus was kind enough to acquire it for the Tempest Guard some time ago.”

“Acquired? From the Wonderbolts?”

Dominus smirked. “In a manner of speaking. Welcome to the 112th Legacy Guard clandestine military headquarters, long forgotten and hidden safely away in the mists of Smokey Mountain. As to its acquisition...” Dominus trailed off, looking smug. “Let's just say I have my resources.”

“Resources well applied. Your serve the Tempest Guard well Dominus.”

Windswept turned to the left.

In strode Typhonis from an open balcony that Windswept had overlooked.

Dominus and Silver Wings took to a knee as the Archon entered, but such thoughts were lost on Windswept as he gawked at the stallion.

Typhonis was visibly changed. Gone was the raggedy coat and skeletal appearance. Instead the Archon was now lean and muscular, his coat and mane cleaned displaying shades of rich amethyst red. Likewise his wings were also restored, large and powerful with full feathers that reached back toward his flank. For the first time Windswept was able to make out the Archon's mark. Two silver numerals, 'IX'.

“Thank you my lord,” Dominus said.

Typhonis strode up to the table. He turned to Windswept. “What troubles you Windswept?”

Windswept nearly jumped in fright at the question. There was no malice upon the Archon's face or in his words. Regardless, to say that Windswept felt ill at ease under the Archon's gaze was an understatement.

Abruptly Windswept fell to his knee, nearly falling over. “Forgive me my lord,” he said shakily. “It's just... you're, well...”

“Changed?” The Archon replied with a hint of levity.

Windswept risked a look up.

The Archon looked down at him in amusement, a small smile upon his face.

Windswept wasn't sure if it made him feel better or not.

“Arise, all of you,” Typhonis instructed, a hint of chastisement in his voice. “I will not lead through misplaced fears.”

All three pegasi stood. Despite this, Windswept still found himself shaking at his hooves. His aura came alive in the presence of the Archon. Whether it resulted in fear or excitement, he couldn't tell. Com'on Windswept, get a grip, he thought to himself.

“Yes my lord,” Silver Wings replied fervently. “We only wish to serve.”

The Archon frowned slightly at Silver's reply, but it quickly vanished. Instead he turned to Windswept.

“Indeed I have been restored. My powers and form are whole now that I can properly attend to the Legacy Stream,” Typhonis said with a hint of sadness. “Of what little remains of it.”

“Soon to by rectified my lord,” Silver said enthusiastically.

The Archon nodded. “With careful planning, yes.”

Dominus flourished his wings, hovering above the map. “Now that Windswept is here, we can do just that. Silver and I have put together a plan that we believe will give us in the initiative in the campaign ahead.”

Campaign? Windswept shuffled his hooves uneasily. Words like those were usually only used during times of war.

“Proceed,” Typhonis said.

Silver joined Dominus above the map. “The target is Cloudsdale, the seat of pegasi power in Equestria.”

Dominus moved a pegasus marker from Smokey Mountain to Cloudsdale.

“Cloudsdale has finally wrested itself from Canterlot control, but they are without a proper leader.”

That one took Windswept by surprise. “Cloudsdale has declared independence? How could the Senate do such a thing with us absent?” Windswept said, looking to Silver Wings.

Silver Wings smirked. “It was not a political move my friend. Though I think our brethren in the Senate take no issue with the military's actions.” He glanced to Dominus.

“My sources tell me that the Pegasi military has enacted the Hurricane Contingency,” Silver recited. “It is as we anticipated. The Cloudsdale Consul has acquiesced to the Contingency, allowing us a rare opportunity. With Cloudsdale apart from the rest of Equestria and the military gathering at Los Pegasus,” Dominus moved several pieces to Los Pegasus, leaving Cloudsdale alone, “we will claim the Capitol.”

Windswept was wide-eyed. “Claim? You mean attack? We're going to attack our own kin? Are you out of your mind?!”

Instead of reprisal, Windswept only received a telling smile from Silver Wings. “I never said attack.” He turned back to the map. “Finally, from Cloudsdale the rest of our plan will unfurl.” Dominus spread multiple pegasi markers out from Cloudsdale across Equestria.

Silver grinned devilishly. “Conquest.”

Dominus toppled a large marker from the map. Windswept recognized it as Canterlot Castle.

Silver turned to the Archon. “Your counsel my lord.”

Typhonis stared at the map for a moment, brow furrowed in thought. “The pieces are well played Captain Silver Wings.”

War. He's talking about war, Windswept thought incredulously. He turned once again to Silver. “Even if we are to take Cloudsdale without a fight, what are we going to do about the military? They aren't just going to sit back and do nothing. I thought...” Windswept risked looking to the Archon. Typhonis was silent, patiently waiting for him to continue. “I thought we weren't going to kill pegasi?”

The faintest smile appeared at Typhonis' lips, but he said nothing.

“You may recall what I said before Windswept, sacrifices may have to be made.”

“But not unnecessarily so,” the Archon said, frowning at Silver.

“Of c-course my lord,” Silver stuttered under the Archon's gaze.

“Leave the military to me,” Dominus said confidently. “I think you will find that most of them will find a compelling reason to join us.”

All three pegasi looked to Typhonis.

The Archon closed his eyes.

Windswept suddenly felt a gentle wave through his aura, unmistakably the Archon's signature. He could feel it radiate out from Typhonis, through them and beyond.

Typhonis opened his eyes, a lingering electric glow disappearing from them. “The pieces are well played indeed. The citizens of the Outpost in Exile, Cloudsdale as you call it, they are restless. I feel their collective spirit, it yearns for the truth. And so shall they have it.”

He turned to Silver Wings. “Begin your preparations Captain.”

Silver rendered a quick salute, a massive grin upon his face. “With pleasure my lord.”

Windswept turned to leave with Dominus and Silver Wings. He walked slowly, preoccupied. War? Conquest of Equestria? He had never considered such a possibility. But how else will we right the wrongs of the past? He thought to the Archon's words. “But not necessarily so.” There was restraint in his words. Concern. And a confidence that radiated from his aura. Touching on the undercurrent that he felt through his amulet, Windswept allowed himself to share in it. A calming sensation came over him. Typhonis, he will make this work.

The calm shattered when he heard his name.

“Windswept, please remain,” Typhonis said, just as Windswept was about to leave.

Windswept briefly met eyes with Silver, who had stopped in the doorway ahead of him. There was a curious look on his face, as his eyes jumped from Windswept to the Archon, then back to Windswept. One Windswept couldn't quite place. It quickly vanished as Silver departed.

The Tempest Guard walked briskly back into the room, though he stopped a healthy distance away from the Archon. “Yes my lord?”

Typhonis snorted. “Enough of the formalities. I was given a name as all pegasi are, please use it.”

“O-okay,” Windswept stuttered, suddenly unsure how to feel.

“Come, join me,” Typhonis said, walking toward the balcony.

Windswept fell in step next to the Archon. His mind ran at a million miles an hour. Did I do something wrong? He wracked his brains, trying to recall if there was something, anything that he might have done to offend Typhonis.

Windswept risked a quick glance up at the Archon. There were no signs of anger on the elder pegasi's face.

Typhonis stopped at the edge of the balcony, seating himself before the rail-less edge. He said nothing, seemingly content to sit peacefully in silence, eyes closed.

Windswept supposed that it would feel awkward, seated next to a legendary being such as the Archon, with only silence between them. He supposed of course, if not for the suspense that was stewing inside him.

The Archon cocked his head to the side, looking to Windswept. “Be at ease Windswept. I am not displeased with you.”

Windswept took a deep breath, feeling much lighter. He hadn't realized he was holding his breath.

“Thank you, my- er... Typhonis,” he said uneasily.

“As I said before, I will not lead out of fear. I only wished to ask a question of you.”

“Oh,” Windswept said, somewhat taken aback. “Of course. What is it?”

For a moment, the Archon said nothing, turning his gaze back toward the bright white mists before them.

Now it had become awkward. Windswept opened his mouth to speak, but the Archon's wings spreading out at his side silenced him.

Typhonis waved his right wing outward, almost lazily, then followed by the left.

For a moment, Windswept was confused, until his eyes caught sight of the movement ahead. His jaw dropped.

The mists began to part. With each wave of the Archon's wings they spread like a brush was driving against them, until the entire scape before the two was crystal clear.

“Tell me Windswept. What do you see?”

It took several moments before Windswept's brain caught up to Typhonis' question. Parting the mists aside, the Archon's powers made the sight before him incredibly vivid. He could see for miles, the mountain ranges, prairies and forests below. He could see various smaller settlements that dotted the surface. Immediately he recognized the distinctive outline of Canterlot Castle perched upon it's mountain. Cloudsdale and its rainbow falls was just a speck in the distance.

“Well...” Windswept began to reply, finding himself somewhat short of breath from the display. “I see Canterlot and Cloudsdale, and I think that might be Los Pegasus...” he trailed off, not sure exactly what the Archon was asking him.

“You are not incorrect. But there is more. Reach forth. Tell me what you feel. Then you may begin to see.”

Windswept was confused for a moment until he realized what Typhonis was asking him to do. Tentatively he reached forth with his aura.

At first he felt Typhonis beside him, then the other Tempest Guards. He tried to push outward, as the Archon had done before, but his aura seemed to wither at the task, aimless in its direction.

Windswept ceased. “I- uh...” Windswept bowed his head in failure.

“Not to worry Windswept. I forget myself and the magnitude of what I was asking you,” Typhonis said. He smiled warmly at the pegasus. “Come, I will assist you.”

Immediately Windswept felt his aura swept up in the tidal wave of the Archon's aura. He caught his breath in his throat as his aura traveled quick as lightning outward. Joined with Typhonis, Windswept felt his aura dive into the something mammoth. Where the Archon's' aura had felt as a jet stream, this new grand presence was as a hurricane. Windswept barely had time to comprehend it. It was bright. Pure. Ancient. Awe inspiring. The feeling of the summer sun encompassed it. It dwarfed the two, even as Windswept could feel the guiding hoof of the Archon through it all. They traveled upon it, to Cloudsdale. Los Pegasus. Canterlot. Appleloosa. Manehattan. An unmarked village in the Frozen North. Across the Eastern Sea, to lands Windswept had never heard of. To each and every pegasus stallion, mare, filly and colt.

Then it all came rushing back. For a split second he saw Smokey Mountain. An invisible force abruptly struck him in his chest, throwing him onto his back.

“By the Archon...” Windswept managed to gasp. His heart was racing, his body alive in euphoric adrenaline.

Typhonis grinned wryly. “Indeed.”

Windswept staggered to his hooves. “What...what was that?”

“That, my little pegasus, was a journey along the Legacy Stream,” Typhonis said. There was a touch of excitement in his voice. However it quickly faded. “I imagine the first anypegasi such as yourself has done in several millennia,” he remarked sadly.

“The Legacy Stream?” Windswept echoed.

Typhonis nodded. “Tell me. What did you see?”

Windswept took several breaths, composing himself. It was difficult at first, trying to separate the thrill of the journey, to really comprehend what Typhonis was asking of him. “I saw... I felt pegasi. No, not just that...” Windswept thought aloud, the gears in his head still turning.

Beside him Typhonis smiled approvingly.

Windswept looked confidently at Typhonis. “I saw Equestria's pegasi. All of them.”

“Yes. I'm sure it is an amazing thing for you. To see our race in an instant through the light of the Legacy Stream.”

“It was incredible!” Windswept blurted out, forgetting who he was speaking with.

Windswept immediately composed himself, but the Archon did not chastise his outburst. Instead Tyhponis looked on at Windswept. Traces of sadness marked his noble features. He turned looking out forlornly towards Cloudsdale.

“But, what if I were to tell you that what you witnessed is but a fraction of what I had known for centuries? You call Cloudsdale your Capitol,” Typhonis gestured with his wing toward the floating city. “In my time there were thousands of such structures, border posts that guarded the vast boundaries and the great cities of the Skythan Empire, far beyond those of Equestria.”

Windswept could only look on at Typhonis as his mind turned over again and again. Cloudsdale, one of thousands?

Typhonis continued. “In my time the Legacy Stream was strong and resolute, a reflection of the indomitable spirit of the pegasi who were a part of it. All pegasi could feel it's presence, tap into it's collective will power through their aura.”

The Archon bowed his head slightly. “Now only a few can brush against the Stream's frayed edges. It is a sacrilege that the pegasi have been all but separated from it. It is a still greater travesty that they no longer remember it.”

Typhonis turned his gaze from Cloudsdale to Windswept.

There was still sadness in the eyes that looked on at Windswept. But behind them he could see a fiery willpower, one that rumbled in the undercurrent of Windswept's aura. He shivered slightly as thoughts of storms brushed against his mind.

“You see the pegasi as they are,” Typhonis said, gesturing with his wing toward the open sky. “I knew our race as it was. I would see my kin, my family, as what they can still be.”

Windswept was in awe at the pegasus before him. His hooves quivered, but not out of fear. Rather in excitement. He could feel the passion emanate from Typhonis. The yearning, and fatherly care that marked Typhonis' face as he looked to Cloudsdale. The sadness and determination. Windswept had been unsure before, wavered between Silver's words and High Winds' warnings, but now he was sure. He could feel the affirmation in his aura. Yet a question still lingered in his mind.

“Why tell me this?”

“I am a pegasus quite literally out of his time. I need others to understand my hope for our race. I will not abandon the pegasi to what fate has subjected them to. But I cannot reclaim our past alone.”

“I will do whatever you ask of me my lord!” Windswept proclaimed boldly as he knelt before the Archon, pride and confidence swelling within him. “I pledge myself to your cause!”

“The first of many, I hope,” Typhonis replied, helping Windswept to his hooves. There was a slight glow in his eyes, but it quickly faded. “Yet I feel that some may fear my presence.” The Archon cocked his head at Windswept, a sincere look on his face. “I would ask you Windswept, what do you think of Typhonis, Lord Archon of Storms?”

The question threw Windswept for a curve ball. Panic welled in his chest as he sat under the Archon's awaiting gaze. But what is there to fear? Windswept thought. The Archon held terrible power, it was true. And yet, in the very short amount of time Windswept had been with him, Typhonis had exercised a sagely wisdom and vision. He smiled to himself. He is everything and more that we could have hoped for.

“Your power is terrifying,” Windswept said bluntly.

Typhonis arched a brow in surprise.

“And I would be lying if I didn't say that you scared the living Tartarus out of me,” Windswept said. “At least at first,” he added quickly, looking up sheepishly at the Typhonis.

The Archon said nothing, even as a small smile pulled at his mouth.

“But,” Windswept continued, “I believe in you,” he said earnestly. “I may not understand all that going on, or how we're going to make things right for the pegasi, but if there ever was somepegasi to restore the glory of Skythus, it would be the Last Archon, Master of Storms,” Windswept said boldly.

“Typhonis,” the elder pegasi corrected.

“Er, right.” The Tempest Guard deflated somewhat. “Sorry-”

Typhonis chuckled. “Be at ease Windswept. You speak as if rousing a legion for battle. However, I appreciate your honesty. And your restraint.”

Windswept looked confused at the Archon. “My restraint?”

“You are concerned with the well being of our kin. You expressed such at Captain Silver Wings plan for Cloudsdale. It takes great courage to fulfill such an endeavor, one fraught with danger and the risk of loss of many.” Typhonis lowered his head to Windswept's level. “It takes even greater courage to know when to hold back.” Typhonis place his hoof against Windswept's chest. “I value such qualities. And I believe you will play a greater role in things to come young Windswept.”

Windswept balked at the Archon's words. “Me?”

The Archon nodded. “Your spirit is strong. Of all the Tempest Guard, yours stands above the rest. I am glad to see that some of the great pegasi bloodlines still persist.”

The hazy image of a ghost appeared in Windswept's mind, distant warnings echoing through his mind, but it was quickly brushed away in the flurry of Windswept's and Typhonis' aura's, as if the thought never was.

“You will need it,” Typhonis added, a warning at the edge of his voice. “Struggle lies ahead of us, and sacrifices will have to be made.”

Typhonis' words sunk Windswept's mind. But how much? His eyes drifted to Cloudsdale.

“Fear not for your home,” Typhonis said reassuringly.

Windswept felt a gentle wave of the Archon's aura. All fears left him.

He looked up at the Archon.

Typhonis' looked with fatherly concern to Cloudsdale. Windswept barely caught the faint glow from his eyes.

“I believe they will come to see, as you have, what our vision is.”

The two sat in silence for some time. A haphazard question popped back into Windswept's mind.

“What does you cutie mark mean?” He blurted without thinking.

Typhonis looked confused at Windswept. “My what?”

Windswept cringed. It was a simple question of course, but carried so much more with it. Though they were displayed for all to see, marks and the stories behind them were a rite of passage, at least amongst the pegasi. As such, they could be considered somewhat personal, and Windswept hardly considered himself a friend of the Archon.

Windswept glanced at the numerals on the elder pegasi's flank. “Your talent?” Maybe they called it something different? He thought.

Typhonis followed Windswept's eyes. “You are referring to my fatum​?”

“Uh, yeah,” Windswept replied. “Guess its kinda hard to imagine what an Archon would have.”

“It is not as grand as you might think,” Typhonis said. He opened his wing, exposing the numerals on his side to full view. “It is the numeral for nine, in the old text as you would call it. It designated myself as the ninth of a thirteen member council,” Typhonis said flatly, resting his wing against his side once more. “And the duty to watch over the Legacy Stream and our race.”

“Oh,” Windswept said.

Typhonis resumed his gaze across the sky.

Windswept's tail twitched in agitation even as silence settled between the two. “So... they were real then?” He dared to ask.

“As I am flesh and blood beside you, yes the Archon Council was real,” Typhonis replied still watching the sky. “They were as brothers to me, and together we built and cared for an Empire that stood for centuries.”

Windswept simply watched the pegasus beside him, unsure what to expect.

Typhonis turned to Windswept. There was a hard stare upon his face. “Until they betrayed us. Betrayed me.”

Windswept recoiled slightly, even as the revelation tumbled in his mind. “Silver said the Archon Council was good...” Windswept trailed off, careful not to prod to far.

Typhonis looked back to the sky, but his eyes seemed to be looking at something else. “At one time they were. Time tends to forget the darker details of history it seems. Know this: They betrayed the pegasi, and Hurricane was their champion,” Typhonis said, baring his teeth slightly at the word 'champion'.

“I am sorry my lord,” Windswept said quickly. “I did not mean to-”

“There is no need for apology,” Typhonis said quickly. “The truth must be known. Now go, join the others. There is much to be done.”

“Yes... Typhonis,” Windswept said, rendering a quick bow.

The Archon nodded.

Windswept turned to leave. As he walked to the door, his mind poured over everything. The truth, he thought. It seemed to change. But did it really matter? Details from so long ago?

Windswept stopped in the doorway, looking over his shoulder.

The Archon remained, staring out across the sky.

No. It doesn't matter, he thought, his aura shimmering within him. The future, and Typhonis' vision, our vision, is all that matters. He walked off down the hall to join Silver and Dominus.

And I'll make sure that vision becomes the truth.

Ch. 23: Gifts and Relics

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Legacy of the Pegasi:

Ch. 23: Gifts and Relics

Rainbow Dash fluttered above Pegasi Peak. Cold wind whipped and howled through the air, pulling at her wings, but she ignored it. Instead she hovered in the air, her eyes scanning through the clouds. The mountain top was obscured by the misty clouds, allowing only momentary glimpses at the snow capped summit. The clouds were so thick that even the sunlight proved unhelpful. Instead of bright rays, the light filtered through the dull white mists, creating a glowing white that blinded instead of illuminating.

Rainbow Dash frowned. “I don't see it!” She called over her shoulder.

Soarin' flew into view along with Scootaloo, the two hovering up alongside Rainbow.

“It has to be around here somewhere,” Soarin' said.

“Well duh,” Rainbow said sarcastically.

“Not helping Rainbow.”

“Well I'm not really sure what you want me to do. It's like flying at night with these clouds. For all we know we could be about to fly into the mountainside.”

Soarin' sighed. “Just keep looking.”

The three pegasi flew apart, each staying just within sight as they scanned the mountaintop below them.

Rainbow continued to watch the ever shifting clouds, hoping to catch any sign of the cave entrance. Her frown deepened as time passed. Com'on, it's gotta be around here somewhere, she thought. We're supposed to be these super powered pegasi and we can't even find a stupid crack in the mountain.

An idea hit upon her.

“Maybe I can put these powers to use,” she said aloud.

She calmed herself, closed her eyes and reached forth with her aura. She was immediately aware of Scootaloo and Soarin', but directed her aura away from them, instead focusing it like a wave on the mountaintop below.

Com'on aura thingy! Do your stuff!

Seconds passed into minutes.

Rainbow threw her hooves up in frustration. “Oh com'on! You mean to tell me you can't scope out any of that crazy pegasus vision stuff from before? This place was practically dripping with it last time we where here!” She yelled out. She shook her head, sighing. “Talk about inconsistent.”

Her aura pressed back. An impression of almost unapologetic indifference waved from it.

“Yeah, okay, okay not your fault,” Rainbow said. “And now I'm talking to myself,” she added, putting a hoof to the bridge of her nose. I swear I can't tell if it's creepy or not that this thing seems to have a mind of its own.

Shelving the supposed semi-sentience of her aura for another time, Rainbow turned her gaze back to the cloudy scape below. “Could really use Twi's help right now,” she said.

Her thoughts drifted back to Ponyville. Each of her friends had vowed that they would journey with her, citing friendships, a duty to Equestria and just plain stubbornness. Rainbow smiled. Even as she now wished for her unicorn friend's assistance, she knew this was one journey that her friends couldn't do together. The night in the Everfree had proved it. They had finally relented when Rainbow had pleaded with them to remain in Ponyville, to rebuild, help the survivors and to work with Celestia and Luna.

The goodbyes weren't any easier though. Rainbow had no idea how long they would be gone.

A particularly strong gust of icy wind roused her. No time to get sappy. Not now. I'm just going to have to egg-head this one out myself, she thought, refocusing below her. Com'on Rainbow, how would Daring figure this one out?

Scootaloo's aura hit her suddenly.

A moment of terror clutched at Rainbow's chest as she zeroed in from the aura's origin. A thousand images of Scootaloo in some sort of danger flashed through her mind.

She was about to take off when the Scootaloo's voice cut across the roaring wind.

“I think I found it!”

Rainbow shivered, but it wasn't from the cold. She took a deep breath, letting her wings carry her to Scootaloo.

Soarin' had already reached the younger pegasus when Rainbow arrived. Rainbow breathed a second sigh of relief as her eyes looked to Scootaloo.

The other two pegasi were studying the crevice beneath them. Rainbow recognized it as the one she and Soarin' had left from several days ago.

“This is it,” Soarin' confirmed.

Rainbow hovered up next to Scootaloo. “Good work Scoots!”

Scootaloo seemed indifferent, mumbling her thanks.

Rainbow frowned slightly. Scootaloo's attitude was only a touch better and her aura confirmed it. The task at hand seemed to have preoccupied her enough, but Rainbow hadn't forgotten Scootaloo's absence when Spitfire had departed.

But now's not the time for that, Rainbow thought.

“Alright, lets go,” Soarin' said.

The trio descended through the winds and into the mountain. They landed on the stone mesa inside the cavern. A cursory glance revealed that it was the same was when Rainbow and Soarin' had left it, complete with the stone altar and its mysterious markings.

“Woah,” Scootaloo said, her voice echoing throughout. Her head twisted about as she walked slowly, observing the cavern. “So this is what you guys found.”

Rainbow smiled, glad to see some emotion return to her sister. “Yep. This place is special. At least we think it is?” Rainbow glanced at Soarin'.

Soarin' had already moved to the altar, studying its surface. “Trust me on this one, this is going to work,” he said without looking up.

“What, exactly is going to work?” Scootaloo asked with some hesitation.

Soarin' took several steps backward, judging the distance of his hooves from the altar. “And that should be about right,” he said to himself. He looked to Scootaloo. “Commander Hurricane and his lieutenants left something here for us. Something to help us against the Archon. Rainbow and I tried to access it last time, but we didn't have you before. With us three together I think we can get to it.”

Scootaloo looked even more confused. She looked to Rainbow.

Rainbow grinned madly. “We have no idea what's going to happen.”

“Oh. Well I'm glad we cleared that up,” Scootaloo replied with a bit of snark.

“Com'on. Scootaloo you stand here on my left, Rainbow on my right,” Soarin' instructed.

Rainbow nodded, settling next to Soarin'. She could feel a familiar presence echo through her aura.

“Uh... Soarin'?” Scootaloo stammered, taking several steps back from the altar. “I can feel sompony, not you two... and it's really weirding me out right now.”

“Great!” Soarin' replied happily.

Rainbow shot the stallion a glare. “Don't worry Scoots. Still sends shivers up my spine. I can feel Lightning Streak's echo. You're probably feeling Ice Wing right now.”

“Um, okay,” Scootaloo replied warily, stepping up to the altar once more.

“Alright. We need to link our auras together and focus it on the tablet,” Soarin' instructed. “Both of you feed yours to mine, and I'll focus it on the altar. Whatever you do, don't step away or break the link.”

Rainbow nodded. She could see Scootaloo take a deep breath, readying herself.

“Here we go,” Soarin' said.

Immediately Rainbow felt her aura join with Soarin' and Scootaloo. At Soarin's urging, their collective power pooled onto the altar. It randomly flashed with hues of silver, gold and crimson.

Golden light glowed from the etched characters on the stone tablet. They grew in intensity.

“I think its working!” Soarin' shouted.

Light filled the cavern as before, beams stretching upward from the circular engraving on the mesa.

Just as before, Rainbow could feel Lightning Streak distinctive presence build, almost as if the warrior pegasus was just beside her.

A single blink later she was.

Lightning Streak stood only a few hooves away from Rainbow, just across from the altar. Likewise, Hurricane and Ice Wing stood abreast of Soarin and Scootaloo. Each stared like statues at the three pegasi.

“Holy sh-!” Scootaloo yelped, nearly jumping from her station, were it not for Soarin's guiding hoof at her side.

“Relax! This is normal!” Soarin' said. He cast an unsure glance toward Rainbow. “I think?”

Rainbow frowned back, but she too was fighting back her surprise. This is isn't exactly how it happened last time.

The light around the mesa subsided. The light from the altar dimmed.

“Now come, focus your legacies,” Commander Hurricane said abruptly. The other two pegasi beside him immediately came to life. “I will do the rest,” he added.

“I think we're on the right track,” Soarin' said, transfixed by Hurricane's stare.

Not exactly, Rainbow thought. “Wasn't there more of a light show last time?”

“L-lightshow?” Scootaloo stammered. She watched the ghost before her like a hawk.

“Uh, yeah. Weird.”

Rainbow opened her mouth to reply, but the a flash of light before her cut her off.

Aural energy streamed from Ice Wing and Lightning Streak toward Commander Hurricane, pooling around the later pegasus' bladed hoof.

“May this aid those who come after us,” Commander Hurricane recited, exactly as he had before. The light around his hoof shot forth toward the opposite side of the altar, mimicking the light from Rainbow, Soarin' and Scootaloo.

“That they will be worthy of this power,” Commander Hurricane continued to recite.

Rainbow glanced all around her. There was no build up of light. No surge from the aural energies. She shot Soarin' a confused look.

The stallion only looked at her quizzically, shrugging.

The light beneath Hurricane's hoof grew steadily. “And preserve the legacy,” he finished.

“Uh, Soarin'?” Rainbow said.

Soarin' grimaced. “Argh, just hold on, there's got to be more-”

Slowly, three tiny particles of light hovered up above the pool beneath Hurricane's hoof. Each one was tethered by an aural strand colored silver, crimson and gold respectively. They continued to rise, eventually severing altogether, and drifted into the farthest reaches of the chamber, until they disappeared from sight.

“Just a bit longer,” Hurricane said, looking to both of his lieutenants. “The first praefractus is complete. We need only complete it once more.”

“Really?” Lightning Streak cracked an eye open, looking at herself. “That's it? Kinda figured it'd hurt more.”

The stream between the trio surged, slackening between Hurricane and Lightning Streak and flaring between the former and Ice Wing.

Ice Wing groaned, glaring across to her comrade. “You could try taking this a little more seriously Lightning. Soul splintering isn't exactly easy you know.”

Soul splintering? Rainbow thought.

Lightning Streak shrugged. “Hey, I'm serious. All I know is these pegasi better be grateful. One of them is about to get a piece of awesome incarnate,” she quipped. Lightning's gaze turned directly to Rainbow. “You hear that?” She thrust a hoof at Rainbow. “You're getting one hell of a gift, don't go ruining our family name with it!”

Rainbow recoiled slightly, staring between the ghostly hoof pointed at her and the cock sure grin from the pony before her. Though the spectre visibly shocked her with it's direct gaze, it was Lightning Streak's words that held Rainbow's mind. Ruining our family name? But that would mean... Rainbow trailed off. Is it really that simple?

Rainbow looked sheepishly to Soarin' and Scootaloo, but the other pegasi could only gawk. “Uh, I won't-” she started to say.

“By the stars Lightning! We're here to help them, not degrade them! We have one opportunity to reach across time and all you can do is stroke your ego like some braggart?” Ice Wing shook her head. “How foolish they must think us.”

“You're right Ice Wing, please accept my apologies.”

“Good,” Ice Wing nodded. She turned to Scootaloo. “Soon you shall have what you ne-”

Lightning Streak's voice cut her comrade off. “Besides,” a smug grin tugged at her mouth, “if this youth is of my blood, well then they must be as incredible as myself.” She winked Rainbow's way.

For a split second Rainbow could only stare in disbelief. However it quickly faded, changing to match the pony in front of her. “Heh. Hear that? Someone knew I was awesome before I was even born!”

Soarin' and Commander Hurricane both let out a groan.

Ice Wing simply shook her head. “Destined one, you have my apologies.”

“Uh, yeah. No problem,” Scootaloo replied dumbly, a surreal look on her face as she glanced sidelong at Ice Wing.

“Focus,” Commander Hurricane's sharp voice commanded. “We near the second praefractus. Then we can-”

Commander Hurricane suddenly stopped talking. His gaze intensified directly at Soarin', a scowl forming at his face.

Rainbow frowned. She looked to Soarin'.

“Don't look at me. I didn't do any-”

An apparition leaped through Soarin's chest toward Commander Hurricane.

“Luna's arse, what in Tartarus?” Soarin' cursed, looking to his chest.

The cloaked figure sailed over Hurricane's head as the pegasus deftly dodged the attack.

“It's the Tempest Guard!” Commander Hurricane shouted. “Dispatch them! I will maintain the praefractus!

Rainbow nearly jumped from her station on reflex. Here? But how could they know? She thought, before the realization hit her. No. Not now. Not in this time.

Nevertheless, Rainbow still found herself tense with baited breath.

The cavern suddenly swarmed with hazy images of cloaked and armored pegasi. A command was thrown from the horde. “Destroy the traitors!”

Lightning Streak and Ice Wing took to the air in a flash, aural powers shining at their armor. Both immediately collided mid-air with Tempest Guardians. With practiced skill and aural powers at the ready both engaged multiple foes.

Rainbow could only stare, transfixed by the battle that was unfolding before her. Soarin' and Scootaloo were the same.

Ice Wing and Lightning Streak made the fight look easy, even as Rainbow noted the strain and determination on the pegasi's faces. The two continued to circle around their commander, warding off the attackers.

Rainbow Dash noticed a full column of Tempest Guards galloping toward Commander Hurricane. Out of the corner of her eye she caught the faintest glint of lightning.

Lightning Streak shot forward, the echoing sound of thunder behind her. Her helm crackled with electricity, matching the spark in her narrowed eyes. Immediately her wings were coated with the bluish haze of electrical currents dancing along her feathers.

She bolted overhead the advancing column of Tempest Guards, raining streams of electrical bolts downward onto the cloaked pegasi.

Echoing cries filled the cavern as the cloaked attackers were caught in a maelstrom of lightning, left to nothing more than singed bodies convulsing on the floor.

Rainbow shielded her eyes against the flash of lightning. Okay, I want that.

A trio of Tempest Guards dove downward toward Commander Hurricane. The distinctive hiss of magical lances cut through the air, traveling toward the altar.

Rainbow and her friends nearly jumped as it looked like the lances were about to strike them.

At the last second Ice Wing blew past, a solid trail of ice in her wake. The lances struck the ice wall, exploding.

Despite this, the assailants remained undeterred, still on a suicide run for Commander Hurricane.

Ice Wing pulled up in a drastic turn that seemed to defy gravity. In the blink of an eye razor icicles formed at her hoof blades. In rapid succession she fired of a salvo of three.

The ice spears found their mark, impaling each of the Tempest Guards. Ice mixed with blood as their lifeless corpses thudded to the ground, only hooves away from Hurricane.

Seconds continued to pass, as Ice Wing and Lightning Streak continued to fend off the Tempest Guard, but the latter seemed to be limitless in numbers, continuing to pour into the cavern. The two pegasi's defense began to falter, each suffering from an increasing number of injuries.

“Hold them for a bit longer!” Hurricane yelled.

Another Tempest Guard leaped forward through Soarin' to attack Hurricane.

Hurricane's hooves remained planted. Instead he reared his armored head back, and forcefully rammed it into the Tempest Guard's forehead.

A resounding crack echoed through the cavern as the Tempest Guard's body fell limply over the stone altar.

“Sweet stars above,” Soarin' said in awe.

More of the cloaked pegasi poured into the cavern. Together they formed up in a semi-circle around the altar, both in the air and on the ground. Slowly they began to move forward, all the while continuing to fire lances into at the trio.

“Rainbow!?” Scootaloo yelled over the muted battle.

“It's not really here Scoots!” Rainbow called out. Despite her claim, she still found herself awkwardly ducking and dodging in place, even as multiple lances whizzed through her.

“We've got to stick it out for a little while longer!” Soarin' called out.

Ice Wing deftly slashed her blades at one of the Tempest Guards. Blood spilled from his throat as his corpse fell from the sky. The other received an armored kick to the face, blasting him to the farthest reaches of the cavern. “They're closing in!” She called out, as errant lances flew by.

But instead of engaging the approaching Tempest Guards, Ice Wing started to fly in a tight circle around the altar, rapidly gaining speed. Electric arcs danced along her wings as a small cyclone began to form.

“Lightning?!”

“On it!” Lightning Streak replied. She shot into the highest reaches of the cavern, disappearing from view.

The Tempest Guard slowed, but continued to move forward, firing lances into the cyclone.

Below, Hurricane maintained the glowing light at his hoof. Lances reflected off of his electrified wings as he shielded himself from fire. Yet not all could be stopped. Several lances had found their mark.

Rainbow watched as Soarin' stood nose to nose with Commander Hurricane. His eyes watched intently as the battered and bloodied pegasus stood before him.

“It is nearly complete!” Hurricane called out.

As before, three particles of light began to pull from the orb at Hurricane's hoof. Each struggled to separate from their aural strand.

Commander Hurricane's gaze narrowed. He clenched his jaw as the glow beneath his hoof brightened. As his aura pulsed against the orb, he fell to a knee.

Each particle began to tug at their restraint.

Rainbow lost sight of Ice Wing. By now the cyclone had entirely engulfed herself, Hurricane and Rainbow's friends, but lances continued to pierce through, pelting the ground.

Ice Wing's voice cut through the air.

“Now!”

A second later Lightning Streak appeared in a suicide dive toward the ground. Her bladed hoof was outstretched, the glint of lightning upon it. She leveled dangerously close to the ground, pulling into a tight circle around the outside of the cyclone and forcefully dragging her blade against the ground. Sparks flew as the lightning at her hoof intensified. Flames erupted upon the blade just as Lightning crossed into the tornado.

Immediately the cyclone burst into flame, a massive swirling pillar of fire filling the cavern.

Rainbow and the others shielded their eyes against the spinning blaze.

Lightning Streak and Ice Wing were a blur within the tornado. Hur