Fair Feather Friend
Notes: Thanks to everyone on Equestria Daily for the kind words.
The Ponyville Library! Bastion of culture and learning for a whole community! Gateway to a limitless land of imagination!
Twilight Sparkle said, "Spike, leave!"
And, occasionally, the site of domestic quarrels between a baby dragon and a unicorn. To be fair to Twilight…
"B-but Twilight, you need me to," Spike paused for a moment to cough, sending volume XVI of the Encyclopedia Equestria straight to Celestia's study. "I… oops."
… she had her reasons for wanting her constant companion gone. Twilight Sparkle facehoofed. She telekinetically gave Spike a coin bag. "Go buy some cough drops or cough syrup or whatever it is you need to stop making things disappear!"
Spike blushed and said, "S-sorry Twilight. Should I get anything else while I'm out?"
Twilght stroked her chin. "I think we're good, as long as you get your throat back under control." She gave him a gentle telekinetic prod out the door. "And if you see Pinky Pie, tell her to stop doing pranks that make you cough, sneeze, hiccup, belch or vomit!" She shut the door behind him, cutting off any chance for him to open his mouth. After the door didn't disappear, the purple pony let out a sigh of relief. "I guess I need to assess the damage." She hated when this happened. Spike could send books just fine, but his throat wasn't exactly large enough to send them back. It was such a waste of time and money to have the Princess mail the books back, especially when it was 8 volumes of the Encyclopedia Equestria. Some poor Pegasus was going to have a bad wing ache in a few days.
There came a knock at the door. Twilight called out, "Spike, get the… oh right." She trotted over and opened the door. "Rainbow Dash? What are you doing here? Did that Sand Worm we fought Saturday come back?"
Rainbow Dash walked in. "Nope. I'm here for some books."
Twilight raised an eyebrow. "Really? You?"
Rainbow Dash raised her chin with a huff. "What? You think I don't read?"
Twilight said, flipping through her records to double check, "Well, everypony else checks out books occasionally, but you don't even have a library card."
Rainbow Dash said, "Well, hook me up! Chop chop! I need some books and fast!"
Twilight started filling out the paperwork. "Fast? What are you up to?"
Rainbow Dash waved her away and trotted over to the shelf. "I'm not up to anything. You need to learn to trust ponies, Twilight." As she walked along the wall, scanning titles, she said, "In fact, I'll write your next letter to the princess for you." She coughed, and began a passable imitation of Twilight Sparkle's voice. "Dear Princess Celestia, today I learned that Rainbow Dash is awesome and is the best friend ever. I shouldn't go accusing her of things. Signed, your faithful student, Twilight Sparkle."
Twilight had to laugh at that. "Okay, fine." With a final flourish, she finished writing up Rainbow Dash's library card. "Aaaaaand done. Congratulations, Rainbow Dash, you're a Biblioteer!"
Rainbow Dash stopped her search. "Biblio-what?"
Twilight Sparkle started digging through her desk. "Biblioteer! It's a new program I made up. Everypony who gets a new library card gets one of these! You're the first pony to get a new library card since I started doing this. I thought I'd never get to try it!" She pulled out a baseball cap with the word 'Proud Biblioteer' written across the front in a cursive, old timey font. She levitated it over to the confused pegasus.
Rainbow Dash said, "No seriously. What's a Biblioteer?"
"Well, Biblio means 'book,' and teer is like the word musketeer!" She put on her own Biblioteer hat (modified, of course, for her horn). "See, now we're hat sisters!"
Rainbow Dash was about to turn her down… until she saw just how happy Twilight Sparkle was. She put the hat on. "Fine."
Twilight Sparkle clapped happily. "Yay! Small Businesses for Eggheads said that promotional giveaways were fun for everypony, and they were right!"
Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes. It was weird how the normally serious unicorn got caught up in doing things by the book. Then she remembered why she came in the first place. "So, Twilight. I need a book on falcons."
Twilight Sparkle walked further down the shelf. "Let's see, that would be under O, for Ornithology."
Rainbow Dash said, "Why didn't you just put it under B, for Bird Stuff?"
"That's what Ornithology means," Twilight said matter-of-factly. She telekinetically pulled one off the top shelf. "Here we go, Raptors of Equestria: A Beginner's Guide!"
Rainbow Dash frowned. "I didn't ask for a book on dinosaurs, I asked for a book on falcons."
"Raptor means bird of prey. What else can I get for you?"
Rainbow Dash rubbed her chin thoughtfully. "I guess I could use one on taking care of sick animals. I'm guessing it wouldn't be under D, for Doctor Stuff?"
Twilight Sparkle said, "Nope, it's V for Veterinary Medicine."
Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes again. "Why do you book-ponies have to make up complicated words for everything?"
Twilight Sparkle shrugged. "I don't know. We just do. Plus, you're a book-pony now, fellow Biblioteer!" She lifted down another book. "Are you sure you aren't up to anything? These are sort of strange for pleasure reading."
Rainbow Dash realized that she'd been too transparent about her interests. She glanced across the shelves and picked the first book she saw. "Oh hey, give me that one about… The Critique of Pure Reason."
Twilight Sparkle shrugged. Apparently there wasn't a pattern after all. "Emanuel Kanter might be a little advanced for you, but you're the boss."
Rainbow Dash straightened up and smugly said, "Yes. Yes I am." Heh heh. The perfect crime. "And can I get a bag for those? I have a couple more stops I need to make."
"Ugh, why did everypony pick today to be so chatty?" As she made her way home, laden with books and supplies from the pet store, she worried about how much time had passed. What if the falcon had woken up while she was out? Sure, most of the things she owned were made of cloud, so he couldn't hurt it much, but she was worried that he might hurt himself. Also worst of all, she realized that she'd forgotten to take off the stupid hat. No wonder everypony was giving her funny looks! "I hope you like the closet, hat, because that's where I'm banishing you."
When she got back, the falcon was awake, but dazed. He was still sitting on the cloud-pillow Rainbow Dash had fashioned out of the now useless radio cabinet. He didn't seem to worry much when he saw Rainbow Dash. He watched her as she unpacked her things, but otherwise, he seemed too loopy to care about being in a strange place.
"I hope you didn't hit your head too hard, falcon. I wouldn't want you to wind up like Derpy." She then got out her book on raptors and started flipping through it. The woozy falcon closed its eyes and nodded off. Taking a chance, Rainbow dash rolled it on its back to get a good look the coloring of its stomach. He didn't respond. "Let's see… brown wings, tan stomach, black and white around the eyes…" After a minute of comparing pictures, she said, "Huh. According to this, you're a brown falcon." She paused. "Brown falcon? That's your species? What a boring name. Anypony could have called a brown falcon a brown falcon!"
She spent some more time reading through the section on brown falcons. "It says here you eat mice, rabbits, birds, lizards, snakes and invertebrates. What the hay is an invertebrate?" Now she really wished she'd paid more attention in biology. "Hm… how am I gonna catch you a mouse…" The second she thought of that, the image of a weeping Fluttershy appeared before her mind's eye. "Never mind. I guess I need to go fishing, falcon."
The falcon opened an eye, but made no move.
"You're right, falcon!" Rainbow Dash gently stroked its head. It instinctively twisted around to try and nip at her hoof, but she was already trotting to her closet. "You're going to need a name. I can't just keep calling you falcon… wait, can I?" She paused for a moment and weighed the question in her head. "No. No I can't. If I'm gonna call the eggheads dumb for calling you a brown falcon, I need to do a little better than that." As she put on her goggles, inspiration struck. Again. "I've got it! From now on, I'm gonna call you Baron Awesome!"
Baron Awesome was now looking straight at his new owner with an unblinking stare, his eyes drawn by her movement. Rainbow Dash decided this meant that the bird liked his new name.
By the time Rainbow Dash got to the nearest lake, the sun was beginning to set. Her stomach grumbled. "Maybe I should have had some of that cake after all." She shook her head. "If you're hungry, Baron Awesome must feel worse! You're a pet owner again, you don't eat until he eats!" She couldn't see the smile that crossed her face when she said "pet owner." She lowered her goggles and took off.
Rainbow Dash, like most pegasi, had fished frequently during flight school. It was a great challenge for a flier, since it combined low altitude flight practice with a hard to spot moving target. The problem was that Celestia had not equipped ponies for fishing. They had no sharp claws or teeth, no opposable thumbs to work fishing rods and no ability to see underwater easily. A less determined pony might have waited for the morning, when the fish would actually be out to feed... but Rainbow Miriam Dash was nothing if not determined!
At a height of about twenty feet, Rainbow Dash made a few loops around the lake. She intentionally went slowly and made sure that her shadow lay outside the water when she could. She didn't dare let her quarry spot her. She had one chance at this, if that. Finally, there was a flash of silver out of the corner of her eye. With practiced grace, she angled her wing down, swooped over the lake, bit the wriggling fish tail first and flung it onto the bank.
She landed next to her still flopping quarry, sputtering. "Bleah!" She wiped her mouth. "Ugh, that taste! The Baron better appreciate this!"
"Alright Baron Awesome, dinner is served!" Rainbow Dash put the still flopping fish on a plate, and placed it before the Baron. It was a rather ridiculous scene; the bird, sitting upon a raised pillow of clouds like an eastern potentate, being served by his new "master."
Baron Awesome, his legs still shaky, glanced warily from Rainbow Dash, then to the fish, then back. He wasn't sure what to make of the whole situation. Nobody had fed him since he had left his nest. That part of his life was over... wasn't it? Was he somehow being allowed to return to the nest? But his mother hadn't been this weird... blue... thing. Also, his nest hadn't been made of clouds. Furthermore, as a dedicated hunter of small critters of the earth and sky, this... grey thing was confusing. However, his stomach was empty and this thing did appear to be made out of meat...
Anypony else would have been grossed out as Baron Awesome shrieked and started messily wolfing down his prey. As started greedily devouring his dinner, however, Rainbow Dash was awestruck. "Wow, you're a hardcore little guy, ain'tcha?" She reached over to give him a friendly pet on the head. Baron Awesome took that as an attempt to steal his catch and responded in kind. Dash barely managed to withdraw her hoof in time to avoid a snap from his curved beak. "... okay, so I won't bug you while you're eating."
Now it was finally time for her own dinner. Since she hadn't been able to get to the market that day with everything that had happened, it was all rather makeshift. It was a bowl of dry Puffed Hay cereal with some strawberries, a spoonful of peanut butter (for protein) and a glass of orange juice of questionable freshness (green spots in orange juice were okay if you spooned them out first, right?).
Rainbow Dash finished with a mighty, echoing belch. "Whew. Glad Rarity isn't here. I wouldn't want her nitpicking away a work of art like that." She saw that Baron Awesome had finished and gone back to sleep. She stood nearby for a while, just watching him breathe. It was so strange to have another living thing in the house. The last time she'd had real company was when Fluttershy had helped her practice for the Young Flyers competition. After she was certain Baron Awesome was in a deep sleep, she reached over and gently stroked him. He slept on and gave no sign of enjoying it, but it made Dash feel oddly serene. This was really happening.
After a while of enjoying the Baron's company, Rainbow Dash saw the time. "Crud, I have work tomorrow afternoon... I better get up early if I wanna get in any playtime with the Baron." She set her alarm stretched and said, "Good night, buddy." The Baron gave no sign that he heard.
Maybe it was the emotional rollercoaster of a day. Maybe it was the green spots in the orange juice. Regardless, Rainbow Dash's dreams that night were unusually vivid.
Ponyville! City of the not too distant future! However, she does not lack the criminal element. The police are helpless before the might of such fiends of The Giggler and The Great and Powerful Trixie. In their darkest hour, their only hope is... The Rainbow Dash, and her sidekick, Baron Awesome the wonder falcon!
It was a night like any other at stately Dash Manor, at the edge of Ponyville. Rainbow M. Dash, heiress of Thomas and Martha Dash, was in her study reading the finest literature available.
Rainbow Dash held the Hidden Picture book up for her loyal sidekick. "And so, Baron Awesome, if you look at the picture juuuust right, you can see a sailing ship."
Baron Awesome said, "Caw!"
"No fear, old chum. Not everypony can see it. Well, I can, and I didn't just pretend the other day so I wouldn't look stupid after everypony else saw it. But some poor ponies just don't get it."
Baron Awesome nodded, and his eyes wandered. He pointed out the window.
Rainbow Dash turned and gasped. "You're right, Baron Awesome! It's the Dash Signal!" In the distance, a great spotlight projected an enormous silhouette of Rainbow Dash's cutie mark. "Quickly, to the Dash Cave!" Rainbow Dash pushed a button on her desk. The nearby wall slid away, revealing a pair of fire poles. The pair leapt onto them and slid down.
When they arrived in the Dash Cave, they were fully clothed. Rainbow Dash was wearing the Rainbow Armor Rarity had made for her, and Baron Awesome was wearing a pointed German style helmet and a monocle. Waiting for them in the cave below was Rainbow Dash's loyal Ponyservant, Rarity.
Rarity said, "Mistress Rainbow Dash, the mayor is on the Dash-phone for you. And might I say, that Rainbow Armor is 20% cooler than anything else I have ever designed, and I was silly for feeling humiliated by it."
Rainbow Dash patted Rarity on the shoulder. "There there, Rarity. No time for apologies now. There's a crisis!" Rainbow Dash trotted over to the Dash-phone and picked up the line. She lowered her voice to a thin rasp, as though she had smoked a lifetime's worth of cigarettes in the last minute. "This is Rainbow Dash. What can I do for you, Mayor?"
The older mare on the other end was in hysterics. "Rainbow Dash, you must hurry! The Giggler has kidnapped Applejack and is demanding that you come and face her! They're at the library!"
"We're on our way, mayor!" Rainbow Dash hung up the phone and returned her voice to normal. "The Giggler again! I thought we had seen the last of her after the Bad Bit caper," Rainbow Dash said, pointing to the 50 foot tall coin that was the centerpiece of her crime trophies.
Rarity asked, in a sophisticated deadpan, "Shall I prepare the Dashmobile, mistress Dash?"
Rainbow Dash said, "No need for that! We can fly, and that makes us just plain better than anything that doesn't!"
Rarity nodded. "Oh, I agree whole heartedly. You're the best, Rainbow Dash."
"Come, Baron Awesome, there's crime afoot!"
Baron Awesome said, "Caw!"
With that, the two took off at high speed. No earth pony could have hoped to keep up with them, or equal their coolness. They were there in a heartbeat and dramatically (and awesomely) crashed through the front window. Waiting for her was the Giggler and a gang of henchmen. A moment's inspection revealed to Rainbow Dash that the three goons were in fact Score, Billy and Hoops, the jocks who had tormented her in flight school.
Billy laughed. "Good to see you again, Rainbow Crash!"
Pointing dramatically, Rainbow Dash said, in her most intimidating rasp, "Where's Applejack, Giggler?"
The Giggler, a pink earth pony dressed in a purple suit, well, giggled. "Oh Rainbow Dash, is that any way to talk to your bestest best friends?"
Rainbow Dash glared. "You took the pranks too far, Pinkie Pie. When pranks aren't in good fun, they're just random acts of cruelty."
The Giggler continued to live up to her name. "Well, since you're going to be a super duper party pooper, I might as well tell you that Applejack is quite safe, though soon her fate shall be a bit... fishier!" The Giggler whipped out a remote control and pressed a large red button, and the whole wall of the library opened up to reveal Applejack tied upside down over a vat of fish.
Applejack called out, "Help! Oh, won't somepony save me, save me! Ah'm all helpless and scared!"
Rainbow Dash glowered. "Fish? Giggler, you are so random!"
Baron Awesome said, "Caw!"
Rainbow Dash shook her head. "This is no time to think about dinner, old chum. We have to save that hick!"
The Giggler pointed at the caped crusaders. "I'm afraid I can't let you do that, Rainbow Dash! Get 'em, boys! Don't be afraid to use your hooves!"
As the four pegasi and one falcon went to hoof-ticuffs, the Giggler began to sing.
"Oh evil is the bestest thing,
Chaos is what I live to bring,
When you're wicked every day is spring
But then you come in on your wing!
You always spoil all my fun,
You never laugh at any puns,
But the war on good has just begun
The Giggler, she has surely won!
A fishy fate for your farmer friend,
I am afraid this is the end,
Our trust and friendship we can't mend
'Cause you drove me 'round the bend!"
Just as the Giggler finished singing, Rainbow Dash and Baron Awesome finished kicking the stuffing out of the goons with a final POW! The Giggler tsked. "You just can't get good minions these days."
Rainbow Dash pointed at the Giggler. "Give it up, Giggler! You can't win against both of us!"
The Giggler, predictably, giggled. "Why of course I can, Silly-Willy!" She pushed another button on the remote control and Applejack began to be lowered face first into the vat of fish. "You can save the dumb farmy farmerpants, or you can catch me!" Without waiting to see what Rainbow Dash's response was, she started hopping away, humming happily as she did. "That was fun. I think I'll go see what Fluttershy's dreaming about!"
Baron Awesome started flying after her, but Rainbow Dash stopped him. "The lives of civilians come first, Baron Awesome!"
Applejack was openly crying at this point. "Oh won't somepony help me! Help! Help!"
Rainbow Dash found a nearby control panel and started trying to arrest her friend's descent. It was to no avail. In fact, she was pretty sure that Pinkie Pie had set up the console just for looks. "It looks hopeless, Baron Awesome!"
Baron Awesome said, "Caw!"
Rainbow Dash brightened up. "Of course! Your heat vision! Do it, Baron Awesome!"
Baron Awesome's eyes glowed a bright red, and twin beams of pure heat energy shot out and melted a huge hole in the side of the tank. Oddly enough, his monocle was unharmed. Fish poured out, and soon the tank was empty. "Good work, Baron Awesome!" Rainbow Dash flew up and cut the cord holding Applejack with a knife from her Utility Saddle. She caught the pony and flew her down to safety.
Applejack said, "Oh thanks, Rainbow Dash. Ah'm sorry I was mean earlier an' yelled at you for wantin' to play with mah dog! Ah realize now that ah'm a terrible friend! And ah'm stupid! And ah can't math! Did ah mention ah'm a terrible friend? Ah'm not even 63.7% as cool as you, Rainbow Dash!"
Rainbow Dash said, in a fine rasp, "It's okay, Applejack. I don't need Winona anymore, because I have the most awesome pet ever! Three cheers for Baron Awesome! Hip hip!"
Baron Awesome puffed up his feathers proudly and said, "MEEP MEEP MEEP MEEP MEEP..."
... MEEP MEEP MEEP, went Rainbow Dash's alarm. After a few failed attempts to find the button, she groggily turned off the loud buzzing. "Ugh, what a dream... I'm never eating any expired food ever again..."
And then, Baron Awesome, agitated by the alarm, shrieked and attacked Rainbow Dash.
All in all, it wasn't the way she liked to get started in the morning.
End Part 2
To be continued...