A Negative

by JackRipper

First published

One of the positive things about being enlisted in the Solar Guard is all the possible mares Rainbow Dash could chase after. A negative? The one she's really after is in the Lunar Guard, and she's pretty… batty.

One of the positive things about being enlisted in the Solar Guard is all the mares Rainbow Dash could possibly chase after.

A negative? The one she's really after is in the Lunar Guard, and she's pretty… batty.


Cover art by silbersternenlicht on Derpibooru.
Pre-read by Not Enough Coffee.
Proofread and edited by Dreams of Ponies and AAIQU.
Winner in the 2017 Thestral Writing Competition and 2nd place in the 4th Flutter-Dash Contest.
Featured 10/20/17 - 10/24/17.
With an audio reading!

1 - Be Positive

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“One h-hundred ninety-six!”

Fire; liquid hot agony coursed through her veins. Rainbow Dash groaned as she strained to keep her back rigid.

“A… hundred ninety… seven!”

Her right foreleg nearly bent inward as she gasped. Rainbow Dash swallowed, her saliva coagulating, having a density akin to sawdust.

“One— eight.”

Her voice cracked, failing to carry across the room. Luckily for her, there was only one pony who needed to hear her.

Rainbow Dash’s commanding sergeant glared down at her, bearing a face of contempt. “If you don't finish strong, you're starting over. Push through the fuckin’ pain, Crash.”

Rainbow Dash growled, spittle nearly flying from her mouth as she squinted up at her superior. Sunlight poured in from an adjacent window, tiny rivulets of sweat fell from her face and onto the marble tile.

“The longer you stare, the harder it gets. C’mon, just two more.”

Rainbow Dash dropped her head; she lacked the energy to hold it upright. Her matted mane now hung low over her eyes. Sergeant Quicksilver grinned.

“One— ninety nine.”

Quicksilver stooped low, eye to eye with the prismatic mare. She spoke to Rainbow in a low whisper, just loud enough for her to hear.

“One more, Crash. Just one more.”

Rainbow Dash pushed down as the last of her vitality ebbed from her body. Before she allowed herself to fall, she glanced back up at Quicksilver one final moment as her mane parted from her face.

She gave Quicksilver a triumphant and nigh maniacal smile as her magenta eyes glowed in the light.

“Two hundred...”

With that, Rainbow Dash hit the marble floor with a heavy thud. She would’ve winced from the impact, but after everything she'd been through, she barely felt it.

She heaved as she curled up into a ball, savoring the cool tiles beneath her. With bated breath, she spoke again.

“Can… we please go back to wing-ups?”

Quicksilver chuckled. “Sorry, Rainbow. While your wings are strong, the rest of you is underwhelming in comparison.”

That remark allowed Dash to push herself off the ground, despite her muscles' protests.

“Ex-cuse me?!”

“You heard me. Right now, if it wasn't for your wings, you’d be dead meat on the battlefield. What if you lost a wing? What would you do?”

Dash scoffed, shuddering at the prospect. “Don't be stupid. There's no way I’d lose a wing.”

“Well, what would you do if you did?”

“I’d…” Dash trailed off.

Quicksilver raised a brow. “You’d what?”

Dash focused on the sky, peering past thatch and tile roofs alike; cerulean blue and golden orange mixed together as the sun grazed the horizon. She slunk her shoulders, her sergeant’s words finally setting in.

“… Whatever.”

Quicksilver sighed, placing a hoof on Dash’s shoulder. “I’m not training you to be a killer, but you have to be ready to defend yourself when push comes to shove. That means you’ll have to be more than athlete strong, you’ll have to be soldier strong too.”

Rainbow Dash didn't reply, her stoic gaze looking only ahead. Quicksilver wasn't patient enough for this.

“Look, I’ll give you the rest of the night off, okay? We have to clear out anyway, the Lunar Guard is going to hold sparring drills in here soon.”

Rainbow Dash’s ears perked up as she glanced back at the maroon mare. “Do you think they’d care if we stuck around to watch?”

Quicksilver smirked. “I would have thought you’d be eager to rest. You got a thing for thestrals or something?”

Dash ignored the heat that rose to her face. “That workout was nothing. I wouldn't want to miss a good sparring match!”

“You didn't answer my question.”

“I...”

Quicksilver rolled her eyes. “Look, I’m not judging or anything, but you’re easy to read. You might want to work on that.”

Dash grumbled as a pair of doors slammed opened behind them, a deep echo reverberating off the walls. A thestral in violet-clad armor marched beside a group of trainees. She beckoned them with her cadence, and they answered with equal intensity.

“They say that in the night guard the cider’s mighty fine!”

“It smells like rotten apples and tastes like turpentine!”

“They say that in the night guard, the pay is mighty fine!”

“They gave me a hundred bits, and took back ninety-nine!”

She stopped in front of the pair, her left foreleg cracking the marble tile as it made contact. “Platoon, halt!”

The group of trainees came to a stop, their hooves clacking against the floor in perfect unison. Nopony moved, eyes forward, nothing out of place.

The commanding sergeant spun around in a textbook about-face. “Alright, ladies, form a circle! You two solar guards in the center, leave! We have permission to be here under the authority of Night Mother Luna!”

Quicksilver brushed her gray mane from her face, clearing her throat. “My soldier and I would like to watch your sparring session, if you’ll allow us.”

The lunar sergeant clicked her tongue. Her eyes dilated as the light in the room began to fade.

Fine. Just stay out of our way, the last thing we need are distractions.”

Dash’s wings fluttered reflexively against her sides as the thestral mares brushed past her. She didn’t know much about them, and while she wasn’t afraid, she was still admittedly weary.

She took her place next to Quicksilver, sitting near the door. The thestrals had formed a tight ring around the middle of the room.

“Our first match is going to be Nightprowler versus Canine. First to tap out or fall unconscious loses, no fangs allowed. Start… now!”

They eyed each other with predatory malevolence. Rainbow Dash winced as the two paced around. “Are you telling me they don’t even wear pads when they spar?”

Quicksilver shook her head. “If you think you have it rough in the solar guard, this little session might change your outlook. They’re… a cut above.”

Dash twitched as the two slammed into each other. She could barely tell which one was which, but the one on the right was clearly winning, picking up her opponent with her forelegs and slamming them into the marble tile with as much force as she could muster.

Crunch!

Quicksilver grimaced as Rainbow Dash forced herself to stay seated. This was pretty brutal, even for her.

The match was over almost as soon as it started, ending with a weak hoof tap against the ground. The mare still standing sneered at her opponent. “Looks like you really live up to your name, bitch.”

Canine hissed, baring her fangs as she stood up and took her place back in the crowd. Their sergeant wasted no time as she called out the next set of names.

“Moonshine versus Fluttershy, begin!”

Dash looked over at Quicksilver, confused. “...Fluttershy? What kind of thestral name is that?”

Her sergeant blanched as she sucked in a breath. “Don’t let the name fool you, Crash. She’s… dangerous.”’

“Wait, really?”

Rainbow Dash’s jaw dropped when she looked back. Fluttershy had her opponent in a choke hold, whispering something into Moonshine’s ear as she tightened her grasp around the mare’s neck.

Moonshine slammed her hooves against Fluttershy’s ribs, the force of each blow becoming more and more feeble by the second, until they stopped entirely.

Fluttershy released her hold on the mare, glancing up directly at Rainbow Dash, staring at her with her mesmerizing crimson eyes. She opened her maw, running her tongue across her fangs, then over her upper lip, before standing up and fading back into the crowd.

Dash stood up, cursing at herself as her wings spread of their own accord. “I gotta go.”

“What? But they just started…”

She turned away before Quicksilver could see her face. “I’ll… uh… catch you tomorrow.”

Rainbow Dash rushed out of the room without uttering another word, manually folding her wings as she wiped away the sweat gathering on her face. She audibly sighed in relief as the doors closed behind her.

Even though Dash had already exited the room, she couldn’t erase the tantalizing images that plagued her mind.

“Fluttershy, huh? You really are something else, but... where have I heard your name before?”


Thud!

Dash panted as she sunk her hoof into the punching bag. The suspension chain rattled as she bit her lip. She struck again, a heavy grunt echoing out into the training room.

Quicksilver leaned against a wall, watching over Rainbow as she hammered her target.

She normally would have said something to encourage Dash, but for once, it looked like she didn’t need it. Rainbow had been working in silence the whole day.

Thud!

“So… what's got you all worked up?”

Rainbow’s eyes only left her target momentarily, glaring up at Quicksilver before resuming her onslaught.

Thud!

“It’s that one thestral, isn't it?”

Dash twitched as her hoof connected. The punching bag barely moved.

...

“I don't want to talk about it.”

Quicksilver grinned. “That last punch told me everything.”

Dash huffed as she finally looked back at her sergeant. “It just… doesn't make any sense. I know her from somewhere, she's so… familiar.”

Quicksilver raised an eyebrow. “If it's really bothering you that much, just talk to her. It shouldn't be too hard to find her around the castle at this hour.”

“There's no way in Tartarus I’m gonna go looking for her.” Dash shuddered as she shook her head in fervor. “Did you see the way she stared at me last night?”

“Like a piece of meat,” Quicksilver giggled. “Look, you're never going to stop wondering until you finally decide to ask her yourself. Or you can just keep kicking yourself, your choice.”

Dash said nothing, simply staring at the door that separated them from the main hall.

Quicksilver smirked. “You aren't scared of her, are you?”

“What? No I’m n—”

“—You're right, it's like half and half. You're just as frightened as you are turned on,” Quicksilver finished for her as the cyan mare's cheeks glowed pink.

“Look,” she said as she prodded Rainbow’s chest with one hoof, “either you talk to her tonight, or I’ll take away your cider rations for the month.”

Rainbow Dash gawked at her, eyes widening.

“Are you kidding me?! Y-You can’t be serious!” Dash pleaded.

“And don't try to weasel out of this or lie. Trust me, I’ll be able to tell, Crash.”


It had been at least an hour since Rainbow Dash had started looking. Early evening had set in as moonlight seeped in through the windows and inundated the halls.

She gulped. The shadows sometimes appeared to move of their own volition, dancing across the walls like eerie, malformed silhouettes. The last thing she wanted to do was get caught off—

“Hello.”

Dash jumped so hard that it felt as if her bones had left their sockets. She slammed up against the wall, muscles tense and wings splayed out.

There she was… Fluttershy.

She was adorned in violet armor, which almost glowed in the light of the moon. Her pale yellow coat blended into the darkness, which would have made it easy for her to pounce Dash if she’d wanted to. Her eyes were everything Dash had remembered, crimson and unwavering, utterly haunting yet… beautiful.

She couldn't even look directly at them. Dash found herself struggling to hide her trembling, but she definitely wasn’t scared.

“Are you—”

“Eep!” Dash yelped as Fluttershy took a step forward. The thestral let out an even sigh as she stepped back.

“Rainbow Dash… do you… remember me?”

Her voice was low, a mere whisper that Dash wouldn't have heard if there was any other noise in the room. Yet, she managed a reply.

“You're Fluttershy, right? The thestral guard? I saw you at that sparring thing.”

Fluttershy’s ear twitched as she studied the prismatic mare in front of her, her wings unfurling slightly as she visibly relaxed.

“Yes, that was me. But do you… remember me?”

Dash’s mouth opened before closing again. Somehow, she managed to stare back at the thestral. It sent chills up her spine as every part of her body told her to run away… yet she held her ground.

Rainbow gulped, finally finding the words.

“Yes, I think I know you from somewhere else. I just can't remember where.”

She flinched a little as Fluttershy approached her at a snail’s pace. Eventually, the thestral was close enough for Dash to feel hot breath on the side of her neck; she was close enough for a pair of razor sharp fangs to latch on with ease.

“Meet me at the Full Moon bar tomorrow night, near the end of Maple Street. I can't talk right now, but I’d like to later… if you don't mind.”

Dash was still anticipating a strike that wouldn't come. She spoke so softly, yet Dash knew she was probably capable of taking down an ursa major without breaking a sweat.

“O-okay…”

Fluttershy smiled at her reply. A subtle and artistic expression, as if hoof-carved into ivory. It was as cathartic to see as it was uncanny. She nodded once, before turning around and disappearing back into the dark hall, rounding a corner and leaving the baffled pegasus behind.

Dash herself didn't know whether she should be excited or terrified...

It was pretty hot.

Not having her neck chomped was a nice plus too.


Canterlot after dark—the city certainly had a different vibe than during the day. Autumn leaves lay scattered across old brick roads and jack-o-lanterns lit every street alongside cast-iron lampposts.

In the distance, Dash could faintly hear the mantra of Nightmare Night being chanted by fillies and colts. The holiday was right around the corner.

“Nightmare Night! Nightmare Night! Give me something sweet to bite!”

She shivered as a stray gust of wind rustled her coat. Just ahead of her was a shanty-looking bar, adorned with a tacky neon sign that illuminated the end of Maple street.

The “Full Moon” bar.

The pit in her stomach grew heavier. She hadn’t been this on edge since… well… forever. Quicksilver didn’t say anything to her earlier that day, as if she was offering Dash a silent prayer, hoping she’d still have her cadet come next morning.

A determined look formed on Dash’s face as she approached the entrance. She wasn’t about to psyche herself out over one thestral. She put more force into the door than she meant to. It slammed open with absolute ease, earning the glares of the patrons inside.

“Uh, heh, sorry?” Dash offered, giving them a sheepish grin as she rubbed the back of her neck with one hoof.

Another second went by before most of them shrugged it off and went back to their conversations. Though, one mare in particular continued to stare at her.

Ice filled Dash’s veins. She recognized those eyes immediately. Fluttershy smiled, her fangs glinting in the light. Dash moved with trepidation, wings flared and mane standing on end. Then, ever so slowly, she took her seat across from the thestral.

“I… wasn’t sure you were going to show up,” Fluttershy said, her voice just audible enough to hear over the jazz music playing.

The bar itself looked as shanty on the inside as it did on the outside. Though Rainbow had to admit, it still had a quaint feel to it. The idle chatter, warm interior and cold beer was almost enough to make her forget her own unease.

“I wasn’t aware that you liked to drink,” Dash replied. Fluttershy giggled. It reminded Dash of melodic harp strings; she needed to hear it again.

“I don’t. I just figured it’d be a place you might like. Sorry if it’s not… what you wanted.”

Dash raised a hoof defensively. “N-no! This place is perfect! I, uh, just wasn’t expecting it.”

Fluttershy hummed in contentment, killing the flow of the conversation.. Yet, it didn’t feel awkward, just… peaceful.

“Excuse me, can I get you two anything?”

Dash tilted her head, glancing over at the earth pony server to her right. “Yeah, I’ll take the Sweet Apple Cider please.”

“And just water for me, please,” Fluttershy added. With a polite bow, the stallion walked off, leaving the two of them in silence once again.

“You’re from Cloudsdale, aren’t you?” Rainbow Dash said, finally breaking the silence. An epiphany had finally struck her, her eyes widening as fading memories from her childhood were rushed back to her.

“Yes, I am. The two of us were classmates. Though, after you enlisted in the solar guard, we didn’t talk to each other again,” Fluttershy replied.

“But… you were a pegasus! What happened?” Dash hissed.

Fluttershy turned away, whispering from behind her mane, “I… I’d rather not talk about it.” She frowned. “After it happened, I was haunted by nightmares. Night Mother sensed my distress and came to me. She didn’t judge me like the rest did, rather, she offered me a place within her ranks.”

Rainbow smirked. “Well, I say she made the right call. From what I’ve seen, you’re basically a badass. Seriously, you took down that other thestral in ten seconds flat.”

Fluttershy’s frown deepened. “I don’t like inflicting pain on my sisters, it hurts me more than it hurts them. But… I’ll do it if it means it’ll save their life later on.”

“I… see.”

Dash traced her hoof along the table’s grooves. As her luck would have it, their drinks arrived at just the wrong time.

Smooth, real freakin’ smooth.

...

The cider was a lovely golden brown, topped off with a thin layer of white foam. No matter how good it may have tasted, it did little to quell Rainbow’s thoughts. She decided to switch topic, if nothing more than to salvage the conversation.

“Why do you call Princess Luna that? You know, Night Mother?”

Fluttershy’s frown was replaced with a cute little grin, the tips of her fangs barely sticking out. “She’s like a second mother to me and my sisters. She treats us as if we’re her own.”

Dash chuckled. “What? Does she read you bedtime stories, too?”

Her chuckling stopped as a blush formed on Fluttershy’s face. She didn’t offer a response, twirling her mane with her hoof.

“Wait, you’re serious?”

The thestral’s blush deepened. “Once, when I felt homesick,” she meekly responded.

Rainbow Dash couldn’t help but take in the sight in front of her. The red in Fluttershy’s face matched her captivating eyes, complimenting her yellow coat.

It was… awesome.

She wasn’t afraid of those eyes anymore. In fact, she couldn’t get enough of them, the way they seemingly pulled her in...

Dash diffused the tension with another chuckle before speaking. “Hey, Fluttershy, how about you and I go to the Nightmare Night festival tomorrow night? I wouldn’t mind doing something like this again.”

Fluttershy beamed at her, then leaned over and pecked her on the cheek.

“I’d like that a lot, Rainbow Dash.”

Dash rubbed her cheek in shock, then smiled.

Score...


She ducked under Quicksilver’s swing, spinning around and attempting to kick her sergeant. Though true to her name, she was just as fast as Rainbow Dash.

Quicksilver smirked. “You seem awfully focused today. I take it last night went well for you.”

Dash ignored her quip, rushing forward and throwing out a right hook, promptly crashing to the ground as Quicksilver easily countered her.

“Focused, but still entirely too predictable. C’mon, Crash. Spill.”

She grumbled through her mane that was now draped over her face, pulling herself up and unlatching her sparring helmet. “It went better than I’d hoped it would be. Much better, even.”

Quicksilver raised a brow. “Better… how?”

“Well, she didn’t kill me like I thought she would. And we actually hit it off quite well.”

She leaned in farther, her grin widening. “How well?”

Dash rubbed her neck, a slight blush forming on her face. “She… uh… kissed me.”

“I almost wish she pounced you. That would have made a much more interesting story,” Quicksilver mumbled, removing her own helmet and leaning against the closest wall.

“I asked her on a date too. Canterlot’s Nightmare Night Festival?” Rainbow Dash offered.

Quicksilver crossed her hooves. “I admire that you’re all gung-ho about this whole thing, but don’t you think you might be moving too fast? I mean, you two just met, after all.”

“Funny story. As it turns out, we have met before. We used to be classmates in Cloudsdale before I enlisted in the Solar Guard. She ended up joining the Lunar Guard after she became a thestral.”

“Wait, became a thestral? You’re telling me she used to be a pegasus?”

Dash cringed. “She wouldn’t tell me anything about it. Seemed like a sore topic to me, so I didn’t bring it up after I mentioned it the first time.”

Quicksilver pressed her back against the wall, sliding down slowly as she tilted her head up in thought. “Well, I won’t tell you how to live your life, so I’ll just be a responsible parent and remind you to use protection —”

“Stop.”

“— Remember not to fly if you’ve had too much to drink—”

“Enough, Silver.”

“— If she doesn’t consent outright, don’t force her into anything—”

“Oh my Celestia freakin’ stop!”

“— And if you really want to make her squeal, go for —”

Clang!

Quicksilver glanced back down. Rainbow Dash had left a trail of blue feathers as the door to the training room slammed shut. She let out a hearty chuckle as she stood up.

“Try not to crash and burn, kid.”


Well, it wasn't exactly what she had in mind, but it was a nice change of pace from what she was used to. It wasn't like any date Dash had ever been on before.

The two of them sat on a picnic blanket. They were atop a grassy hill that overlooked Canterlot proper. Luna’s midnight sky painted the scene above them as they reveled in one another's company.

“This is lovely. It’s amazing how much I used to take the Night Mother’s gift for granted,” Fluttershy said absentmindedly, draping one soft leathery wing over Dash. “You know what I mean?”

Rainbow nodded in agreement, swallowing a salted potato wedge and washing it down with a mug of tangy Sweet Apple cider. She hummed softly, leaning her head against Fluttershy as the two of them admired the golden lights of Equestria’s capital.

“We used to know each other from before, but I’m glad I got to see you again...” Fluttershy said, trailing off as her sanguine eyes met magenta ones. “I… used to look up to you, you know. I guess... I still do.”

A dopey grin formed on Dash’s face. “You’re pretty cool yourself, Flutters. You don't need to look up to me anymore, if anything, I’m the one that’s looking up to you.”

The pegasus pulled Fluttershy in closer. Basking in the warmth of one another as they sat in content silence.

“...Rainbow Dash?”

“Yeah?”

Fluttershy twiddled her hooves. “C-can I… taste you?”

Dash didn't feel the need to respond, pulling the thestral in close as Fluttershy squeaked in surprise. She melted into the kiss, relaxing her body as she eased into the embrace of her lover.

They parted with gasping breaths, separating from one another as Rainbow Dash giggled like a school filly. Fluttershy, on the other hoof, wasn't satisfied.

“That was nice… but that's not what I meant.”

Rainbow’s ear twitched, a blush forming on her face as she began to connect the dots. “O-oh.”

“I don’t want to force you… u-unless that’s your thing.”

With a hesitant shake of her head, Dash spread her hind legs slightly. She leaned back and closed her eyes, shaking in anticipation.

Rainbow yelped as she felt a sharp sting in the side of her neck. She opened her eyes in shock to find that Fluttershy was literally tasting her.

… It actually wasn't that bad.

The pain lasted only a second before a numbness spread over the side of her neck. It was exhilarating, almost euphoric in a sense.

Fluttershy hummed in contentment as she gently fed upon her lover, soft and delicate, being as careful as she possibly could.

Soon enough, the thestral pulled away, licking her lips and giving a soft giggle as Rainbow stared at her with a dumbfounded expression.

“I-I think it’s a-an old thestral tradition, between l-lovers. Sorry if I startled you, I should have been more clear.”

Dash grazed the marks on her neck with her hoof. Remarkably, they were already beginning to heal. “It's no problem, just wasn't expecting that. Did I… uh… taste good?”

A tongue flashed over her sharp fangs. “Very.”

Rainbow smirked. “Well, in that case, I think I want a taste too.”

Fluttershy’s eyes widened as Dash leaned in for yet another kiss. This one was less forceful and more passionate, even better than either could have asked for. Not too far in the distance, the merry chanting of fillies and colts could be heard as they pranced around Canterlot.

Nightmare Night! What a fright! Give us something sweet to bite!

2 - Thicker Than Water

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Rainbow Dash was practically prancing around Quicksilver, who hoisted her chin above the iron bar she was hanging from.

“— And then we sat outside the city and stared at the night sky and ate food from the festival. I thought it’d be lame, but it was actually pretty cool.”

With a steady breath, Quicksilver lowered herself back down. “Is that all you did?”

“Well, no.” Dash rubbed the nape of her neck. “We did other stuff too.”

The solar sergeant rolled her eyes as she landed on the ground with a small thud. “I can only imagine what that stuff might be.”

Rainbow giggled as she looked over at the door to the main hall. “We’re meeting up later tonight. So I’m pretty stoked.”

“I’ll say. You're basically bubbling with excitement. I’ve never seen you like this before.”

“What's that supposed to mean?

Quicksilver smirked. “You're like a school filly who's found her first crush. It's a little jarring.”

A blush met the cyan pegasus’ face. “What?! No I’m not!”

“Yes, yes you are.”

“I swear to Celestia I’m not!”

Quicksilver found herself giggling this time. “Look, I get it. You have to defend your pride or whatever. You can lie to yourself,” Quicksilver narrowed her eyes. “But you can't lie to me.”

Rainbow Dash huffed in exasperation. “I’m just… excited to see her. That's all. It's not that big of a deal.”

“Why do you like her so much anyway? You never really told me why.”

She smiled. “There’s just something… different about her. There’s this feeling I get whenever I’m near her, something pulling me toward her. I don’t know how else to describe it.”

Quicksilver waved a nonchalant hoof. “Well, I guess that's a good enough reason as any. You can head out early, we’re pretty much done here.”

Dash, true to her name, was out the door as soon as Quicksilver had finished her sentence. She slammed the door behind her, before she herself turned and slammed into a dark blue mass in front of her.

It was the Princess of the Night.

Fuck.

“Good evening, Night Mother— er, Princess Luna,” Dash quickly corrected, scurrying to stand up.

Princess Luna gave her a glare that could kill a pony. “You’re no daughter of mine, Rainbow Dash. Are we clear?”

“C-crystal.”

“Good. I’ll assume it was an honest mistake, considering you have become the mare of my daughter’s affection.” Princess Luna stepped forward and jabbed Dash in the chest with her hoof. “But make no mistake, Rainbow Dash, if you dare hurt my dear Fluttershy, I’ll make your life indistinguishable from a nightmare.”

Luna turned away from Dash before she was able to respond. It’s not like she could have anyway, as the princess had left the young pegasi’s mouth gaping and slack-jawed.

Dash breathed out a sigh of relief as Princess Luna rounded a corner, disappearing from her view entirely.

Mare, Tartarus had nothing on Princess Luna.


“A mother duck protects her ducklings,” Fluttershy idly said, twirling a lock of Rainbow’s mane. “She cares about you too, considering we’re a couple.”

“Well, she’s got a real funny way of showing it,” Rainbow grumbled, craning her neck to look up at Fluttershy. “What did you want to do, anyway?”

They were sitting in an empty training room. Moonlight poured in from the skylight above them as they lay in the center. It was a cozy little place, when it wasn’t used as a sparring ring, that is.

“I remember how you watched me in the ring.” Fluttershy licked her lips. “And that you had wanted me to beat y— I mean, teach you how to fight.” A small smirk was flashed towards Rainbow. “What do you say?”

Rainbow’s eyes widened, a small grin forming on her face. “You, teach me? I thought you said you didn’t really like fighting all that much. Remember?”

Fluttershy smiled. “You’re right, I don’t. But... I know it’s something you enjoy. And if you’re happy, then I’ll be happy.”

“Are you sure? I’m totally down to just chill and talk for a while. I’m already pretty worn out from training all day.”

Fluttershy’s wing twitched as she draped it over Rainbow’s side. “Our training is often treated as a blood sport, as if the act of violence is something worthy enough to praise. But I know you’re not like that, Dash. You might jump at the chance at something like this, but you’re a good pony through and through.”

Rainbow chuckled as heat rose in her face. “Heh, I guess if you’re offering…”

Without another word, the pegasus gently broke the embrace and stretched as she stood. It only just dawned on her that there weren’t any sparring pads in the training room, and that she just agreed to a traditional sparring match with a thestral guard.

She really should have thought this through.

“Let me know when you’re ready,” Fluttershy said, breaking Dash out of her stupor.

She swallowed her pride with a barely audible gulp. Rainbow Dash never backed down from a challenge, even one stacked against her.

“Ready.”

With one word, the room fell into absolute silence, save for the wind rapping against a nearby window pane. The mood in the room had shifted dramatically, the peaceful serenity transforming into an eerie standstill as the two paced around each other. The moonlight served as a spotlight as the rest of the room faded into the backdrop.

Rainbow Dash was reminded of just how dangerous her marefriend was. Fluttershy focused on her target with rapt intent, wings splayed and fangs glinting in the light. She was like an angel of death, and clemency was not her domain.

With no warning, the thestral lunged forward, colliding with Dash and sending her flying back several feet. Rainbow grunted as she attempted to steady herself with her wings. Then, she spun around and bucked, Fluttershy simply sidestepping to the left.

“Don’t telegraph your attacks, Rainbow. Be as unpredictable as possible.”

Dash clicked her tongue in frustration as she flew back to gain some distance. “It’s not so easy when I can hardly even see you. Seriously, why is everypony almost as fast as I am?”

Fluttershy took a step forward. “Or maybe you’re just not as fast as you think you are?”

Wings flared as Rainbow glared daggers, charging forward as Fluttershy dodged another strike.

“Don’t let me get into your head, Rainbow. Strength comes in more than one form.”

Dash swung a hoof, whizzing over Fluttershy’s mane as she ducked under it. The thestral threw her wing into Rainbow’s face, disorienting her as Fluttershy knocked her back once more.

“Try to think outside the box. You’re never going to win if you keep doing the same thing.”

Don’t telegraph your attacks, Rainbow. Be as unpredictable as possible.

Strength comes in more than one form.

Try to think outside the box. You’re never going to win if you keep doing the same thing.

Rainbow Dash held a hoof to her chest as she gathered her thoughts. A moment of revelation struck her as she stared up at Fluttershy.

“I’ll show you fast, batty.”

She took to the air, spinning around in a circle and rapidly gaining momentum as Fluttershy tracked her movements. Dash’s trail melded into a blur of phantasmic colors as an artificial wind whipped through Fluttershy’s pink mane.

Suddenly, Rainbow dashed forward and slammed into Fluttershy, the two of them rolling several feet before Dash landed on top on her marefriend. The fight was over as soon as it started.

“I… win,” Dash said in between breaths. Her mane hung low over Fluttershy, who sat in silence with a content smile on her face.

“You sure did,” Fluttershy replied a soft giggle, congratulating her with a deep kiss as the two remained in their embrace.

For a long while, neither of the two said anything. They sat there, feeling the rising and falling of each other’s chests as they regained their breaths. Rainbow ached all over, but seeing as her head was still attached, Fluttershy had taken it easy on her. But that didn’t really matter a whole lot; she’d learned a lot more in one day than she had the entire week. Still, it left her wondering...

“How did you dodge me so well? Am I really that easy to read? Quicksilver says it all the time.”

“Who?”

“My commanding officer in the Solar Guard, and a friend of mine. She’s also pretty good at fighting, though she doesn’t teach the same way you did.” Rainbow shook her head. “But that’s besides the point. How did you evade me so easily? It’s like you were practically dancing around me.”

A cheeky grin spread across Fluttershy’s face. “Fighting is kind of like dancing, if you think about it.”

“Uh, what do you mean?”

Fluttershy rolled out from under Rainbow, standing up and holding out a hoof. “Here, I’ll show you. Have you ever danced before?”

“Of course I’ve danced before; clubs are my jam!” Dash replied, puffing out her chest.

“No. I meant like, dance dancing.”

Dash raised an eyebrow, hesitantly taking Fluttershy's hoof. “No, I don't really do that kind of dancing.”

Fluttershy’s grin turned mischievous, yanking the pegasus to her hooves.

“Woah!”

With an elegant twirl, Dash spun around in Fluttershy’s hooves, her eyes rattling around comically as the dizziness subsided. “Would you at least give me a warning first?” Rainbow said, giving her a glare.

She giggled. “I’m so terribly sorry, Rainbow. I thought you wanted to be swept off your hooves.”

The two stood on their hind legs, leaning against one another for support. As unnatural as it was to see, it was both elegant and graceful nonetheless. The uncertainty in Dash’s movements faded after several minutes, leaving them in an intimate trance.

Thestral wings sprung open as Fluttershy took to the air, pulling Rainbow along with her as they pirouetted through the night. A cool wind brushed Fluttershy’s mane across her face as they spun, her giggling filling the air.

The two drifted ever higher, the glow of the Night Mother illuminating her daughter with pearlescent light. They hung there for the longest time, simply enjoying each other’s company. Eventually, though, a nagging question crept into the back of Rainbow’s mind. Eventually, she couldn’t keep her curiosity to herself anymore.

“Can… can you tell me how it happened?”

“Hmm?”

“How did you become… a thestral?”

“Oh.” Fluttershy’s ears lowered as she closed her eyes. “An apple farmer in Ponyville, she asked me to help me with an infestation problem. There was a bat that was destroying a portion of the apple orchard.”

“Yeah?”

She nodded. “My special talent helps me work with animals; I can even coerce them with my stare as a last resort, but not this one. It stared back at me with equal intensity when I tried.”

Dash leaned in further. She was close enough for Fluttershy to feel her breath against her neck. “What happened, Fluttershy?”

The thestral’s eyes began to water. “I… don’t know what happened after that, I must have fainted. It just got worse over the next few days. The symptoms were only minor at first: I’d wake up later in the day, or lights would start to sting if I looked at them too long, things like that.” Fluttershy steadied her breath, wiping the moisture from her eyes. “Then everything started to taste horrible, and my animals started to avoid me, going as far as running away from my cottage if I tried to talk to them. A-and… the nightmares…”

Her composure broke and the floodgates were released, her sobbing becoming muffled as Rainbow Dash hugged her gently. “Hey, you don’t have to keep talking about it if you don’t want to, especially if it bothers you this much.”

Fluttershy shook her head in fervor. “No… I-I think I need to get this off my chest.” She let out a heavy sigh, calming herself before pulling away from Rainbow. “I tried looking for a cure for whatever it was, but not even the town’s librarian could help me, and she’s Princess Celestia’s protege. Eventually, Night Mother found me and rescued me from my nightmares and offered me a place in her ranks. The rest is history.”

They lowered to the ground at an agonizingly slow pace before their hind legs finally touched the decadent marble tile below. Rainbow Dash was at a loss for words. How do you calm somepony who drops a bombshell like that? She sure as Tartarus didn’t know.

“I’m… sorry?”

Smooth as sandpaper, Dash.

Fluttershy smiled softly. “Don’t be. If I hadn’t turned into a thestral, I might have never met you. And I don’t really think I can imagine a world without you in it.”

Rainbow Dash returned her smile, a blush rising to her cheeks. “Me neither, Fluttershy, me neither.”

3 - Love Sucks

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“Rainbow Dash.”

Dash’s ear twitched as a light voice pierced the heavy silence. Something soft touched her nose, causing her to scrunch up her muzzle and shift away from the commotion. She was not about to wake up before she absolutely had to.

“Rainbow, please wake up.”

Dash barely cracked one eye open, groaning as she glanced between her bedside clock and the figure in front of her.

“Fluttershy? Do you have any idea what time it is?”

“Four in the morning, a little over an hour before your officer would wake you up to train.”

“Exactly.” Rainbow stretched, yanking the comforter away from her as she shuddered from the chill temperature of the room. “What’s the deal? Are the barracks on fire?”

Fluttershy bit her lip, somehow not drawing blood in the process. “W-well no, but it won’t be much longer until my shift is over, and I wanted to see you before I went to bed…”

Rainbow Dash stared at the fidgeting mare, raising one brow as Fluttershy failed to match her gaze. “There’s something else, isn’t there? You wouldn’t wake me up this early otherwise, you’re too considerate for that.”

“W-what?”

“There’s something else,” Dash repeated, sitting up and leaning on one side. “You know you can talk to me. What’s up?”

“...Alright,” Fluttershy conceded, her body slumping slightly. “If you come with me, I’ll tell you.”

“Alright, I’ll bite.” Dash slowly hoisted herself out of bed, a joint popping as she stretched one wing. She followed Fluttershy out into the castle hallway. “So, what’s up? Why’d you wake me up this—” She yawned. “—early.”

Rainbow Dash found it uncanny how little noise Fluttershy made as they walked across the hallway. Another perk of being a thestral, Dash wagered. She totally wasn’t jealous or anything like that.

Definitely not.

“I…” Fluttershy trailed off, her mouth closing as she parsed the sentence in her head. “I’d rather tell you at the restaurant. I’d like to get away from the castle first.”

“You want to go to a restaurant? Really, right now?”

She nodded. “Yes, it’s a griffon restaurant downtown. You’ll like it, I promise.”

“A griffon restaurant!?” Dash sputtered. “Like, blood and meat and stuff?”

“I’m not the only night owl in Equestria, you know. They’re open very late at night for that exact reason.” Fluttershy winked. “Of course, if you’re scared. I can find somewhere else for us to eat.”

“Scared? Me?” Dash puffed out her chest. “Danger is my middle name!”


The Black Talon bar and grill—a far cry from traditional wine and dining. While the Full Moon bar had been a more relaxed environment, the lively, rambunctious attitude of this place contrasted it immensely.

Dash whistled as she admired the open-fire cooking that took place at the table adjacent to them, though turned a shade of green as she caught a whiff of the smell of seared meat, temporarily forgetting that this was a griffon restaurant.

Fluttershy giggled at her expense. “What did you call yourself again? Rainbow Danger Dash?”

“S-shut up,” Dash muttered, her voice being drowned out by the banter of another patron. “I don’t get how you can stand the smell of that stuff.”

The smile faded from Fluttershy’s face, only a small frown remaining. “You get used to it, eventually.”

“I-I’m sorry—”

“Don’t be.” She sighed. “I used to be a veterinarian, you know.”

“Really?”

Fluttershy blushed. “W-well, I never became officially certified. I used to have this dream, that I would have an animal sanctuary all to myself.” She sighed once more. “I left a lot behind, Rainbow Dash.”

Dash winced. “I… don’t know what to say. It’s really awful, what happened to you.”

“I used to go to the spa with my best friend every weekend.” Fluttershy idly stared up at the ornate chandelier that hung above them. “I wonder what her reaction will be the next time I see her. I left before she found out…”

“What’s her name?”

She smiled. “Her name’s Rarity. She’s a seamstress in Ponyville, the best fashionista I’ve ever met.”

Rainbow Dash found herself twitching in her chair, reflexively gripping the armrest. There was only one question she really wanted to know the answer to, one question that had been nagging at her since she left the castle.

Dash leaned against the table. “Fluttershy, why did we come here? Why’d you bring me here tonight instead of any other day?”

“Did you know I’ll be graduating soon?”

“Really? That’s awesome!” Dash chuckled. “When’s the graduation party—”

“It was tonight.”

“...” Rainbow Dash sat there, speechless as their waiter set down the food they’d ordered. It took another minute of silence before she could form another sentence.

“Fluttershy, did they not invite you to the graduation party?”

“No, they did. Night Mother was very adamant about me receiving an invitation.” Fluttershy’s gaze met the floor. “But I could tell that I wasn’t welcome there. I’m the black sheep of our platoon after all. It’s better if I just keep my distance.”

Clang!

Fluttershy jumped as Dash slammed a hoof against the table, shaking the ceramic.

“That’s stupid,” Dash snarled. “Have they even talked to you? What’s not to like about you? You’re amazing!”

“R-Rainbow,” Fluttershy stammered, heat rising to her face. “A normal thestral doesn’t drink blood. I’m… cursed. They have a good reason to be afraid of me.”

“Cursed my flank!” Dash retorted. “If they got to know you, they’d see—shit!”

Dash swore aloud, dropping a now bloodied knife and wrapping a tablecloth around her bleeding right hoof.

“Rainbow!” Fluttershy squeaked, springing up from her chair. “You’re hurt! Let me help.”

“I got it,” she grunted. “Don’t worry, I just cut myself a bit on accident.”

“Let me see your hoof.”

“Fluttershy, I said I got—”

Fluttershy reached forward and dragged her tongue across the open wound, causing Rainbow to gasp at the contact.

“F-Fluttershy! What are you—!”

“My saliva.”

“W-what?”

“My saliva,” Fluttershy repeated. “There’s a numbing agent in my saliva. It’s why you didn’t feel much pain the first time I fed off of you.” She licked her lips. “You taste wonderful by the way. Though, I can almost taste the garlic you’ve been ingesting.”

Dash retracted her hoof, glancing around the room as a blush formed on her face. “I want you to know—that was really awkward.”

Fluttershy flashed her a mischievous smirk. “I think you liked it.”

“I-I… shut up.”

Fluttershy stifled her giggling. Dash grumbled for a second before laughing alongside her.

They continued eating for the next half-hour in relative silence, exchanging small talk when they saw fit, though it was nothing either of them would remember come the next day. Rather, they simply reveled in each other's company, Rainbow Dash's morning fatigue now long gone. Eventually, Dash glanced out a nearby window, sighing in content as she set her empty plate down.

“The sun’s starting to come up. I think it’d be for the best if we head back to the castle.”

Fluttershy sat up, briefly tossing a tip on the table as she grabbed Rainbow’s hoof without speaking, ushering the two of them outside.

“Hey! Fluttershy, what’s wrong?”

“I wasn’t paying attention to the time,” Fluttershy mumbled as the two crossed the street. “Let’s get back to the castle, quickly please.”

Rainbow Dash stared up at the sky as she followed Fluttershy. The sun barely grazed the horizon, gold meeting blue as the morning finally arrived; they were the center of the spotlight.

Fluttershy stumbled forward, leaning against Dash for support. “I… don’t feel well. Rainbow, I need you to get me out of the sun.”

Dash couldn’t reply fast enough. Fluttershy fell limp within the pegasus’ grip as the light shone down upon them.

“Fluttershy!” Dash shouted, shaking her unconscious body. “I… don’t worry, I’ll make sure you’re safe!” She flew as fast as she could with the added weight of the thestral on her back, praying that whatever happened, Fluttershy would be alright.

“Please… please be alright.”


“Absolutely unacceptable.”

Rainbow Dash bowed her head low as Princess Luna paced back and forth across the throne room. “What did I say when we first met? Why would you two be out late enough for the sun to come out? My sister’s light is poison to her!”

“I-I didn’t know! She didn’t tell me!”

“You shouldn’t have left the castle in the first place!” Luna barked back, turning away from Rainbow Dash. “Tell me, how much do actually know about my daughter?”

Dash gulped. “She used to be a pegasus like me. But, she was cursed, hexed by some rabid bat in an apple orchard. That’s what caused her to transform.”

Luna shook her head. “She’s not a normal thestral; she’s from the original family line that’s existed since before I was even banished.

“She’s a rare breed of thestral—inordinate strength, transfiguration, insatiable bloodlust and a crippling weakness to the sun—she’s a prime example of what a thestral used to be before they lost nearly everything that made them threatening.”

Luna marched forward, standing a mere inch away from Dash. “But know this, Rainbow Dash, the only curse she has is a social stigma within her rank. What she has is a vicious disease.”

“A disease,” Rainbow mumbled, before suddenly perking up. “If she has a disease, then there’s a chance there’s a cure, right? You can fix—”

“There’s no cure, Rainbow Dash.”

“W-what?”

“I’ve searched for well over a century prior to my banishment,” Luna said, backing away slightly. “There’s no way to fix her, and she’s better off thinking that she’s a product of dark magic than for her to chase after something that doesn’t exist. I don’t want her to waste her life like that.”

“I… see.”

Luna let out an exasperated sigh. “Another hour and a half in the sun and she would’ve become pale and anemic. A full day in the sun and she’d be reduced to nothing but ash, pain worse than crucifixion.”

Dash winced; Luna pressed on. “Fraternization in the military is strictly prohibited. I was going to let this slide for her sake, but you leave me with no choice. Either you stay away from my daughter, or I’ll court-martial you. You’re a bad influence.”

“E-excuse me?!” Dash sprung up. She glared daggers at the lunar princess, temporarily forgetting who she was talking to.

Princess Luna returned a glare that bore into Dash.

“You’re excused. Now get out of my face.”

Clang!

Dash’s armor rattled against the marble tile as she was thrown back by Luna’s telekinetic force. She grunted, getting one last look at Luna’s ire before the heavy doors slammed in her face.

Thunk!

Rainbow Dash stood up with a growl. It took all the willpower she had not to spin around and kick the doors off their hinges. She huffed, stomping away with a newfound sense of determination.

No chance of a cure? Dash shook her head. I don’t believe that for a second. She said she that searched for over a century before her banishment, but what about the thousand years she was gone? It just doesn’t make sense.

Rainbow Dash stood still in the castle hallway. That can't be it. There has to be something I can do to save Fluttershy.

“I have to,” Dash whispered under her breath, her voice echoing nonetheless.

“Rainbow Dash?”

Dash’s fur stood on end from the sound of the voice. She performed an about-face, saluting on instinct. “Y-your Highness!” Dash fumbled.

Princess Celestia giggled as she approached Dash. “At ease, cadet. I just came to see what the commotion was about.”

"I..." Dash faltered for a moment. There was no use in trying to lie to her, she’d see right through it. "Princess Luna doesn't approve of my relationship with her daughter. Apparently, I'm a bad influence on her." She shrugged. "I don't know what to do anymore."

Celestia raised an eyebrow. “I see.” She paced a little, stopping next to a stain-glass window of a unicorn Dash didn’t recognize. “Rainbow Dash, do you know who this is?”

Dash stared at the violet light that refracted off the window, shaking her head. “No, your highness. Can’t say I know her.”

She smiled. “This window is something I requested after she moved to Ponyville, to remind me of her. She’s my personal student. Her name is Twilight Sparkle.”

“She’s pretty,” Dash said with a blush. “I-I mean—graceful? I-I swear I didn’t mean it like that!”

Celestia chuckled, composing herself before she spoke. “Rainbow Dash, I’d like you to meet her. You and Miss Fluttershy.”

“W-what? Why?”

Celestia was pensive, gently swaying in place as she stared at the closed-off throne room. “I think you’ll find that if anyone can help you with a problem you might have, it’s Twilight.”

How…?

Princess Celestia turned away from the gaping pegasus. Craning her head to look back at Rainbow Dash, she spoke once more. “Who knows? Maybe the three of you will even become friends.

“Then we’ll finally be able to start correcting the course.”

4 - Bad Blood

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"Rainbow, it wasn't your fault."

Dash grimaced as she idly played with a lock of Fluttershy’s hair. “I know, but I can’t help but feel like I messed up.” She inched forward as the hospital bed creaked underneath them. “Princess Luna really chewed me out back there.”

Fluttershy sighed, leaning against Dash’s shoulder and staring at the door leading into the castle hallway. “She’s not normally like this. Night Mother is just very—protective of me. She’ll warm up to you... eventually. I’m sure she likes you.”

Dash scoffed. “She’s got a real funny way of showing it then. She looked at me like she wanted my head on a pike.”

“I-I’m sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Dash reassured. “My chat with Princess Celestia was better, I think.”

Fluttershy’s ears perked up. “Oh? What did she say?”

“She wants us to meet her student in Ponyville; her name’s Twilight Sparkle. And something else about—”

“P-Ponyville?!” Fluttershy shot up, her leathery wings flaring out and nearly knocking Dash off the bed. “Rainbow, we can’t! I can’t!”

Dash’s bewildered expression shifted to that of concern. “Fluttershy, what’s wrong? You don’t want to go back?”

“N-no!” She quickly replied. “I mean… I do miss living in Ponyville, but I really don’t think that’d be a good idea.”

“Why not?

“What’s with all the bloody noise?”

The pair jumped at the sound of the new voice, the color draining from Fluttershy’s face as an annoyed thestral stepped into the infirmary.

“Captain!” Fluttershy squeaked. “What are you doing here?”

She snorted. “That should be pretty obvious, ya dolt. Didja honestly think I wasn’t gonna visit ya after I heard about yer little fuck up?”

“Y-you know about that?”

A nod. “Aye, course I know. It’s my fuckin’ job after all. That and bein’ the babysitter of you and yer dyke girlfriend.”

“Hey!” Dash growled, sitting up from the bed and shooting her a glare. “Who do you think you are?”

The thestral’s amber eyes glowed in the dim light as she returned the glare. “My name is Captain Stella Sabre, and it would do ya well to learn it.” Stella took an aggressive step forward, baring her teeth. “I’d ought to break yer fuckin’ jaw after ya decided to sneak out of the castle with one of my cadets.”

Dash’s eyes widened at that remark. “Captain Stella Sabre? You mean, the Stella Sabre?

Stella gave her a sinister smile. “So ya’ve finally got it through yer thick fuckin’ skull, huh? Maybe ya should’ve done yer research before opening yer bloody mouth, Rainbow Dash.”

“Rainbow, please, don’t make this situation even worse than it already is,” Fluttershy pleaded in a surprisingly firm tone. “I should be held accountable for what I did, I deserve it.”

“But—”

“But nothing,” Stella replied. “Yer lucky Fluttershy isn’t as stupid as you, otherwise I’d make sure the both of ya had spots in this infirmary.”

Click.

The door to the infirmary clicked shut as yet another pony stepped into the room, causing the smile to immediately fade from Stella’s face.

“I—er, morning, Princess,” Stella mumbled, “I was just, ya know, givin’ these cadets a firm talking to.”

Princess Celestia briefly glanced over at Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash, before staring down at Stella with an unamused frown. “Well don’t let me stop you, Captain. Since you seem to be handling this conversation in a most professional manner.”

“Wait, really?”

“No.” Celestia pointed at the door. “Please leave us, lest I report this little incident to my sister. I’m sure she’d be a lot less tactful about it than I.”

“I… right. Of course, Princess, I’ll leave at once.” Captain Sabre reluctantly bowed, exiting the room without saying another word.

A stagnant silence hung over the room as the door shut once more, only being broken by a heavy sigh from Celestia.

“Unbelievable,” she said under her breath. “I would have expected more discipline from Luna’s guards.”

Fluttershy’s ear twitched at that remark, but she said nothing, opting to bury herself deeper in her bed.

“Princess?” Dash approached Celestia with caution; hesitation laced her voice. “What you said earlier about visiting Ponyville… are we really just going there to meet your student, or is there something else?”

Celestia bit her lip. “Why do you ask?”

“It’s just—Fluttershy really doesn’t want to go back to Ponyville after everything that’s happened to her. So, unless it’s super important, I’d rather she didn’t have to come with me.”

Fluttershy beamed at the indirect affection. Even Celestia couldn’t help but smile.

“I’m sorry, Rainbow Dash, but it’s imperative that both of you meet Twilight Sparkle. It’s—well, the three of you might be able to help my sister if everything goes according to plan.”

“Princess Luna?” Dash tilted her head. “What’s she got to do with us meeting Twilight? And why does she need help from the three of us?”

Celestia sighed. “I apologize for being cryptic, but I just can’t explain everything to you for one reason or another. Twilight Sparkle will be able to clarify the situation once both of you get there; she’s done plenty of research.” She turned to face Fluttershy. “As for Captain Sabre, you don’t need to worry about her. You’ve already been through enough as is.”

Fluttershy frowned. “When do we have to go?”

“As soon as possible, dusk if you’re feeling strong enough. I’m afraid we don’t have much time to waste.”

“A-alright,” Fluttershy said. “If it’s really that important, then I’ll go, especially if I’m helping Night Mother in the process.”

Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy exchanged uneasy looks, though Dash couldn’t help but internally grin at the thought of the potential adventure that was now in front of them.

“We’ll catch a late train to Ponyville; you can count on us, Princess!”


Rainbow Dash wasn’t a morning pony. She wasn’t much of a night owl either, but after everything that had happened yesterday morning, she wasn’t about to pass up even a minute of sleep. Though, despite her state of total exhaustion, she was awoken from a predatory chill that ran down her spine, accompanied by the uncanny feeling of someone watching her.

It was her girlfriend.

“F-Fluttershy?”

“Eeep!” Fluttershy squealed, a blush spreading across her face. “S-sorry! I didn’t mean to wake you!”

Dash yawned, turning on her side to get a better look at the frazzled mare, as well as the train window behind her. The stars were still clearly visible in the night sky, so it was likely not much time had passed at all. “Do I… look tasty?”

“What—no! I was just,” Fluttershy glanced around their train car, looking for an escape, before slumping her shoulders in defeat. “I like watching you sleep. I’m sorry.”

“Heh, wow,” Dash gave a lighthearted chuckle. “If we weren’t a couple, this would be super awkward.”

“It is awkward!” Fluttershy blubbered, draping a wing over her face in an attempt to hide her intensifying blush. “Oh, Night Mother, I’m never going to live this down.”

Dash smirked and crossed her hooves. “Consider this revenge for embarrassing me in that restaurant the other night.”

Fluttershy squeaked, her face now a vibrant red cherry. “Wha—I was j-just trying to stop the bleeding!”

Clang!

The train rocked with enough force to throw Fluttershy onto Dash, causing both of them to topple over.

“...” Fluttershy said nothing, burying her face in Dash’s coat and wishing more than anything that this was all just a bad dream.

“You know, you don’t have to act so flustered around me,” Dash said with a smile. “We’re together now, right? You don’t have to be so on edge.”

“I-I know.” Fluttershy sighed. “I’d like to think I’m composed most of the time, but with you it’s different. It’s like, it’s like we’re somehow bound together, you know?”

“Are you talking about love?”

“N-no,” Fluttershy mumbled, averting her gaze. “I mean, it’s as if we became friends again as soon as we met, like it was supposed to happen or something.”

“Fluttershy—”

“Now arriving at Ponyville!”

Dash jerked her head, looking out of the cabin window at the train conductor. “We should probably get to the Ponyville barracks before sunrise. Don’t want a repeat of yesterday, right?”

“Of course. You haven’t had the chance to rest much either.”

Dash rubbed the nape of her neck. “Heh. Not really, I had someone watching me while I slept.”

“...You’re so mean, Rainbow.”

“You know you love it.”

“...”


It was a little over three in the morning when they stepped off the train. A single lamp post illuminated the station, revealing just how alone the two of them were.

“I guess we didn’t need to take such a late train, did we?” Dash murmured, shuddering as a stray gust scraped across her frame.

“Probably not, though I appreciate it. I like being able to freely walk around with you without worrying about the sun.”

“I can’t even imagine what that’s like.”

“It’s good that you don’t have to.”

Bang!

Rainbow Dash flared her wings as a plume of confetti showered them. Fluttershy instinctively stepped in front of Dash. A low growl emanated from Fluttershy as she bared her fangs at the unknown attacker. Despite this, Dash was tackled from one side, wind fleeing her lungs.

An obnoxiously bright pink pony pinned Dash to the ground. “Welcome to Ponyville! My name’s Pinkie Pie, Ponyville’s permanent pink party planner. What’s your name?”

“It’s three in the morning. Why do you even exist?” Dash heaved, struggling to get the pony off of her.

Pinkie Pie giggled. “That’s an awfully long name. Do you mind if I call you ‘Rainbow’ as a nickname?”

“Just ‘Dash’ is fine, please.”

“You got it, Dashie!” Pinkie chirped.

“Just… Dash.”

“Get off of her.”

Dash suddenly felt the weight of Pinkie Pie being lifted, paling as soon as she saw the sight before her.

Fluttershy was holding Pinkie Pie above her head with one hoof, gripping her throat hard enough to do damage. Despite this, Pinkie Pie chuckled.

“Wow, Fluttershy, you got so strong! You look different too! Did you do something with your hair? I wish you had told me you were leaving Ponyville, I would have thrown you a ‘going away’ party you know!”

“Fluttershy, do you… know her?” Dash said, finally standing once she regained her breath.

Fluttershy’s eyes widened as she realized how tight her grip was, sheepishly slackening her hoof and unceremoniously dropping Pinkie. “I—erm, yes. When I lived in Ponyville I did. Everyone knows Pinkie Pie.”

“Huh. Okay.” Dash turned to face Pinkie. “So, uh, Pinkie. Why did you come to the train station anyway?”

Pinkie Pie sprang up, her smile widening to an almost uncanny degree. “My Pinkie Sense™ woke me up in the middle of the night. My tail twitched, and my neck tingled and I knew that someone new was coming to Ponyville, but I had no idea that Fluttershy was coming back, so this calls for a super-duper double pony party!”

“Please, no parties, Pinkie Pie,” Fluttershy mumbled. “I didn’t even really want to come back.”

Pinkie visibly deflated at that remark, her ears lowering as her eyes met the ground. “Aww, pretty please?”

Fluttershy nervously dragged her hoof across the boardwalk. “I need to talk to a few ponies privately, Pinkie. I don’t want to be out in public, please don’t make me go to a party.”

“I… okay,” Pinkie Pie said with a sigh, before immediately perking back up and staring at Rainbow. “What about you? You still want a party, right?”

Dash smirked. “Well that depends, I guess. Will there be drinks?”

“Anything under the Equestrian sun!”

“What about music?”

“We have our own DJ and everything!”

“Food?”

Pinkie puffed her chest out proudly. “Leave it to Pinkie Pie to bake the best sweets in Ponyville!”

Rainbow Dash chuckled, placing her hoof on Pinkie’s shoulder. “You know what, Pinks? I think you and I are gonna be good friends.”

Pinkie Pie practically glowed at that remark. “R-really?!”

“Really,” Dash replied with confidence.

She wasn’t sure how or why she knew, but Dash was sure of it: Pinkie Pie was going to be her new friend in this unfamiliar town, and nothing was ever going to change that fact.