Alighting herself upon the fluffy white surface of the cloud, a lone pegasus flexed her wings and trotted to it's edge. Casting her gaze across the ocean blue before her. Admiring her work like anypony would if they held pride in what they did.
It was days like today that the pegasus loved her job.
The skies were open and tame, stretched out for hundreds of miles- across the mountains far across the horizon that housed the great capital city of Canterlot to the endless stretch of green that was the Everfree forest. The town of Ponyville- her home- was far below. Bursting with activity of a busy midweek day, the ponies appearing as just specks from this altitude.
The lone, spared cloud that remained in the otherwise spotless sky was her perch, perfectly sized for her to stand upon and gaze upon the wide expanse of farmland and country the stretched across the hills as far as the eyes could see. She could make out the large red farmhouse of Sweet Apple Acres and the homely little cottage surrounded by dens that was one of her foalhood friend's home. Even the library built into the thickest of trees could be made out. As well as the lavish and decorated dressmaking shop not terribly far away from the town's center- which almost hid the local favorite Sugarcube Corner from her eyes. But she'd looked down upon this town too many times not to know what was what.
Looking down on them, one could feel a lot of things- but her? She felt pity. Pity, that almost all the ponies in this town were but mere earth or unicorn ponies. They'd never feel the wind like she did. Or stand upon the clouds like she did. They were stuck there from the moment they were born. Trapped on the earth. The boring, lame, ground.
To a pony like her, the sky was all she needed. The rush of the wind flowing through her mane, ruffling at her feathers, lifting her higher and higher into the blue ocean and snow white clouds. It made life worth living. Made the mundane and repetitive tasks she performed every day completely bearable. Not many could say that almost everything they did revolved around their biggest passion...
Rainbow Dash was truly one lucky pony.
The fastest- the bravest- the most daring- the most skilled. One could go on, but suffice to say- Rainbow was the best flier in Equestria. Most ponies just didn't know that yet. Not that she didn't have her name out there. Being the winner of the Best Young Flier Competition in Cloudsdale had earned her a lot of praise from many-a-pony. She'd saved one of her best friends. Saved the Wonderbolts, her heroes she'd looked up to since she was but a foal. Oh, some ponies recognized her alright.
Her wings wilted, however. Dropping right along with her smug grin.
But.. where it counted? Among the name-makers and the hoof-shakers of Canterlot? In the busy streets of Manehatten where dreams were made? No. It was here. In the small village of Ponyville. Seemingly a stones throw in distance from the most marvelous city built by ponykind, but at the same time a million miles away.
Why would they care about a cloud clearing speedster? She wasn't born under some famous and prestigious name. No riches in the family. No relation to royalty. She wasn't Twilight Sparkle, the famous and talented student of -the- Princess of Equestria. Heck, she wasn't even Rarity, who was busy getting her latest fashion showcased in places she hadn't even heard of. Compliments of that fashion pony who'd made -Ponyville- of all places one of his stops.
How could she blame a pony for not knowing who she was? Equestria didn't come to a standstill for Cloudsdale's competition. It didn't even come to a standstill for the Summer Sun Celebration where her and her friends saved the world. -And-, if you could believe it, most ponies didn't even know about what happened on that day! As if the sun refusing to rise in the sky is something some pony could misinterpret as natural. Sheesh.
She was Ponyville's sky clearer. Their rain bringer. Their simple boring weather pony and, except for the more seasonal work times, the only one under the town's employment. In laments terms, she was without a doubt, a speck. A nopony in a nopony town. At least, that's how ponies would see this place. She knew the magic and wonder that resided here better than anypony! But you try telling that to a snooty hoofer fresh out of Canterlot or Fillydelphia.
In this town, nothing would change. In this dump, her life- albeit exciting- was trapped like those ponies down below. There would be no recognition or Wonderbolts or fame. There would just be... this.
A flock of birds fluttered far below her, snapping her attention away from the ground she'd been focusing on- lost in the marching of her thoughts as she came to be more often these days. It was enough to make her snort, shaking her head. A chastising look flashing across her face.
"Listen to yourself Rainbow. You sound like Rarity did when she first moved here." The thought was enough to make her skin crawl. "Ponyville isn't good enough for you, huh?"
What was so bad about this place? Sure, things got boring. Things got slow. And boy did Rainbow hate everything and anything that could be called 'slow'. But honestly? Where else would she rather be?
"Nowhere.", she said flatly. Letting that grin creep back into place. "This is where I belong. Not in snooty-dooty Canterlot, or even back in Cloudsdale. I'm happy here."
A weight lifted from her wings, and Rainbow let out a sigh- lifting her head up from the ground and into the mid-morning sky. "I'm happy here.", she repeated. As if to solidify it to any being that was listening.
The fame, the notoriety, the amazingly-awesome-spectacular Wonderbolts. Those things would come in their own time. Rainbow was young. She was fit. Her wings here capable and weren't going anywhere without her. She had all the time in the world to make it for herself. She had come closer than she ever had in the past year alone. Since the day Twilight and the others had formed their friendship.
Her confidence was restored, and without a thought she outstretched her wings and jumped forward- using a burst of wind to loop about and burst through the same cloud she was standing on moments before. Shattering it into fluffy white pieces that quickly dissipated on the wind. The skies of Ponyville cleared in.. uh.. two hours, flat.
… It was a bit more cloudy today than normal.
Her job was finished for the day- but she knew the others had their own business to take care of. She took a quick glance down at the small town. Twas pretty busy looking- at least in the square.. No reason to bother them until later.
Her wings carried her in another loop as she turned towards home- her floating villa in the sky just near the Everfree forest's border. But something caught her eye. Canterlot glistened in the bright sun, same as always, but up above it, twirling and growing all the more noticeable.. were clouds?
"Strange.. I could of sworn it was supposed to be clear across Equestria today.."
She hovered, watching a moment more before filing it off with a shrug- swooping off in a blur of that rainbow mane. Ponyville- at least- was enjoying a cloudless sunny day. Thanks to her. The best darn weather pony they'd ever had.
Applejack's back hooves hit the tree so hard bark went flying. The tree itself seemed to shudder for a moment before group of nearly a dozen red apples fell from the branches above and landed on the grass in a series of quick thuds.
"What 'bout these apples?" The voice of her sister pitched up from behind her- the young filly bounding over to the nearest red fruit to pluck it up in her mouth. Quickly bringing it to her older sibling. "D'ey rweady fah pickn'?"
Applejack could only roll her green eyes before leaning down to pluck the apple from Apple Bloom's full mouth- biting into the pearly red skin with a nice and loud -crunch-. Chewing the fruit slowly. Real slowly.
"Hmmm..." She mused, swishing the juicy remains from one side of her mouth to the other. Like a wine taste tester savoring a bottle's flavor. Before she swallowed with a loud gulp. "Nah! Not quite yet."
"P'wah!" Apple Bloom flopped upon her flank with a look of extreme frustration across her face. "How can you know fer sure! They look ready ta' me!"
Applejack just shook her head. "It's not just about how they look, sugarcube." She tried to give her sister a soft smile- despite her own rising agitation. "Now how're we supposed to sell apples if we ain't got the taste to back up the presentation?"
"Forget about tha presentation!" Apple Bloom was on her hooves, looking positively determined as she ran at the tree- spun about- and kicked with all her might. Barely earning a loud enough thunk to be heard. "How am I supposed to get my cutie mark for pickin' apples if'n we ain't got no apples ready to be picked!"
Her older sister just sighed, rubbing a hoof against her temple. "You can't just wait a week?"
Of course she was quick to answer, "A week!" Before kicking the tree again with about the same result. "You've got ta be kiddin' me!"
"Well I ain't." Applejack trotted over and put a hoof between her sister and the tree- scooting the latter across the ground, away from the soon to be ready harvest. "And the less apples we waste to test the more we have to sell when they're all ready."
Apple Bloom's pout was unmistakable. "It's all 'bout the bits with you, inn't!" She was on her hooves in seconds- staring her big sister down. "Yer cutie mark shoulda' been a pile of bits instead of apples with how quick you think of business instead of yer own sister's cutie mark!"
"I almost wish it was. Between this year's harvest and supporting the farm since Granny Smith passed away, we haven't had two bits to rub together to spark a fire with!" Applejack was clearly not amused. She'd followed her sister around enough the past -several- hours on this... crusade of hers. All it'd done was give her a headache and a good basketful or two of wasted crop. "Maybe you should take a gander at our books for the month and see if you can get your cutie mark by figurin' how we're gonna make it through till apple-buck season!"
The battle was clearly won between the two sisters, but that didn't stop Apple Bloom from shuddering with rage, gritting her teeth together in a look that could've ignited a weaker pony in flames. On Applejack, however, it just made her droop.
"'N maybe I should!" The red maned filly turned on a dime, stuck her nose in the air in a much too Rarity-like fashion for Applejack's taste, and stomped her front hooves in the dirt. "S'not like I'm gonna get any help from you! I'm just gonna have to take care of this by myself!"
"Oh sure. Sure you will!" Applejack scowled, watching her sister trot off all indignant-like. Headed for their large farm house at the center of Sweet Apple Acres. "Let Big Mac' deal with you for the rest of the afternoon! I've had it up to here with your.. apple-wastin' nonsense!"
She did her own huff, though it was much less melodramatic and mature. Sweeping her gaze across the rolling hills of apple trees. Spotting less red and plump apples than ever upon the branches. All this fussin' about cutie marks and foalish drama when their very livelihood was at stake? No -wonder- her little sister didn't have her cutie mark yet.
Now it was her turn to stomp off, hitting the dirt trail that led away from their farm house and towards the barn. Muttering under her breath while she went. It wasn't easy this year, that was for sure. First Granny Smith passed on and now the farm's crop was doing about as well as expected. As grown up as Applejack and Big Macintosh were, their Granny had always known when it was the best time to pick the apples and how to run an economically sound farm.
Without her, they were struggling. Not terribly so, but it was enough that it added more stress on their every day lives. A couple more seasons like this and they were going to hit some real hard times. Apple bucking season was just around the bend, though. After this harvest, as poor as it was, the apples would.. or, were supposed to, grow in faster than ever. The boost in profits would make things around the farm much less tense.
And did Apple Bloom care? Not one bit! All she wanted was her cutie mark. Her personal quest had been put on hold after Granny's passing, but once the mourning was done, she'd gone right back into full crusader mode. Applejack was just surprised (and incredibly grateful) that the other two hadn't joined her in apple bucking today- or she'd surely done something mighty terrible to those fillies.
A soft call from not terribly far away snapped the earth pony out of her muttering haze- and she turned to see Fluttershy trotting through the front gate of the farm. A basket hung around her neck and a smile spread across her gentle face.
"Oh, hey there Fluttershy." She smiled and quickly clopped over, quickly throwing on a smile. "Wasn't expectin' to see you out in these parts today. What can I do you for?"
The normally shy pegasus blushed and nodded accordingly, lowering her head and glancing off to the side. "I'm sorry.. Is this a bad time..?"
Applejack shook her head, wondering for a second if she'd over heard her and her sister's fight. But this was how Fluttershy always was. "It's fine. I'm just doin' the rounds right now. Checkin' on the harvest."
"Oh.." Fluttershy perked back up, her head canting side to side as she scanned the apple trees in sight.. "It looks... good..", she lied- swallowing with nervousness at upsetting her friend.
Applejack took it well enough though, offering a forced smile. "Aw, thank ya Fluttershy- but this harvest ain't fit for any hardworkin' pony. Just you wait till apple buck season!"
Fluttershy looked relieved that the conversation had avoided becoming awkward. She happily raised her head, showcasing her basket. "I picked some of these blueberries. I know how much you and Big Macintosh love blueberry pancakes. I just had to give you some."
"Aw shucks." She leaned forward to pluck the basket from her friend's neck- lifting it up and slipping it over her own. "You're a good friend Fluttershy; thinkin' of us like that. You sure you don't want us to pay you for em'?"
As expected, the filly shook her head- looking as determined about something as Fluttershy could. "Of course not. I'd never charge a friend just for some berries." Her voice softened, however, as her head dipped lower. More put of respect than of shyness. "Besides.. I know how things have gotten for you and Big Macintosh after your Granny.."
Applejack saved her the awkwardness by waving a hoof, "Suppose you're right on that one. I ain't never been one for managing them types of affairs." She put on a brave enough face. One that Fluttershy would see through- being Fluttershy of all people. But she was far too polite to call a pony on something like that.. "We appreciate it though sugarcube.. You should come by tomorrow mornin'. We'd be happy to have ya over for breakfast!"
Fluttershy beamed. "Oh, oh of course. I'd love to come." She looked like she was about to say something, but stopped as her eyes turned skyward. A look of surprise spreading across her face. "Oh my.."
Applejack blinked- raising a brow at her friend. "What's wrong?"
"I didn't realize we were supposed to have a storm today.. I thought Rainbow said it was going to be clear."
"She did." Applejack glanced up, not seeing a single cloud. "It's been clear all mornin'."
The pegasus nodded, but pointed behind the earth pony. Towards the mountains. "But.. what about that..?"
Applejack turned, and nearly gasped. Spreading across the sky was a wall of dark clouds that looked ready to drench the ground in torrents of rain. In fact, with how dark it was beneath them, it looked like a storm was already brewing miles and miles away. She could barely make out the white castle walls of Canterlot. That was until a far away lightning bolt illuminated the stonework in a flash of brilliant light. The echoes of thunder not even reaching them yet..
"Now.. I swear that wasn't there a bit ago.."
"I should go.." Fluttershy didn't like storms, and it showed in her voice- that standard crack in tone that signaled just how frightened she was. "I need to get the animals at home in their dens before it reaches us."
Applejack turned back to her friend, smiling at just how timid she was. "Of course. You run on home and take care of them animals of yours. I'll be seeing you tomorrow, right? For breakfast?"
Fluttershy nodded, turning her eyes back upon her for a moment. Forcing a smile. "Y-yeah. Of course. I wouldn't miss it for anything."
"Good. We'll have a place at the table for ya!" She gave her friend a wave before turning about and headed for the farmhouse. It allowed her to turn her eyes back up to the approaching mass of blackness. A giant wall of dark, lightning infused storm clouds that looked like they were violently turning and twisting about. No doubt headed this way with how quickly it'd amassed on the horizon.
"Rainbow.. You lazy weather pony.." She grumbled, knowing she had to of heard her right earlier this week when she said there wouldn't be any "exciting" weather. Like it was such a bore keeping things pleasant and peaceful. "You think you could've warned your apple growin' friend that her whole day was going to be wasted by a thunderstorm."
The thought of the blue furred pegasus hovered in her mind for a moment. Then another moment. And before long, the storm sorta.. faded to the back of her mind. At least for now. A soft burning in her cheeks making a smile spread across her face.
She blinked, shaking her head. No. No! Don't do that Applejack. Now is so, so not the time for that.
A moment longer passed as she trotted up the hill...
… Maybe.. Maybe later.
"Oh Twilight, when are you going to accept one of these proposals I'm giving you?" Rarity's eyes looked as sincere as ever- her face every bit as sympathetic. "I swear, it seems like you're more interested in your books than you are in dating!"
Spike, balanced on top of the nearby steplatter- in the middle of sliding a copy of Magical Melodies of Meddlesome Mockingbirds back upon the shelf (a recent read of Fluttershy's, no doubt)- seemingly couldn't resist chiming in. "And this surprises you, -why-..?"
Twilight would chose to ignore Spike. Rarity wouldn't be so easy. "I don't have time to go on a date with whatever unicorn guy you have lined up for me." It wasn't a complete lie... "As much as I appreciate the offer, I'm just going to have to pass."
Rarity didn't look convinced. If anything, she looked more convinced of the opposite. Particularly in how her eyes narrowed. "Just what keeps you so busy Twilight Sparkle? You've already read almost all these books." Her eyes flittered across the pile that was awaiting Spike on the nearby library table. "You've not accepted a single one of the handsome stallions I've come to you with, and do you -know- how many handsome ponies are in Ponyville!"
She waited for Twilight to answer... who only raised her brow after a moment or two of silence.
Spike, ever the opportunist, turned around and sat upon the top most rail of his ladder. "She's right Twilight. You could of at least humored her and gone out with that last unicorn she brought here."
Rarity gasped, as if it was a shock- even though she was there, just a week ago. "Oh I know! Dark Star is suuuch a catch!" Rarity looked personally offended even! Her voice as soft as an injured kitten.. "And you hardly even spoke to him when I brought him in here to see you.."
"Rarity.." Twilight began, rubbing her face with a hoof. "I.. didn't ask you to do that."
"I know you didn't! Somepony had to try and break through that icy shell of yours!"
"Icy shell..? I don't have an icy shell." She looked at Rarity. Who just stared back. Then she looked at Spike. Who quickly glanced back and forth between her and the other unicorn. "... I don't have an icy shell- Okay, look Rarity, I really don't mean to make light of what you're trying to do for me but-"
"But you are!" She interjected, stepping up closer to her bookworm friend. "I didn't even set that one up for you. Dark Star came to me!"
For a second Twilight was still annoyed- but then: "What? You didn't try to hook him up with me?"
The unicorn rolled her eyes, "Oh heavens no. You think I'd throw the most well mannered, proper, studly unicorn in Ponyville at you on a whim? I'm good darling, but even I have my limits."
She stepped up to give Twilight's chest a push with her hoof- smiling warmly. Showing off that generosity and kindness she actually held. "Dear, he came to me and asked if I could introduce you two. He's such a gentlecolt, but he rivals Fluttershy in the shy department. At least when it comes to the fillies."
Twilight.. was actually at a loss for words. She knew the guy was a looker. Even seemed to know a thing or two about magic from the what she'd noticed in town, but she took his awkwardness for disinterest when Rarity came in with him in tow.
She hardly noticed the blush until Rarity pointed it out. "Ah-ha! Finally! I'm getting through to her!"
A shake of the head later and she was back at it. "I-It doesn't matter. I don't have time for dating and frilly-frollying about with suitors. I -am- actually here for a reason beyond just pleasure, you know?"
Rarity grinned, "Oh darling, if it was just pleasure you were after, I'm sure we could've found you some willing pony."
Twilight's blush only doubled. Even Spike fumbled his book he was putting up. "R-Rarity!"
Of course, the purple maned unicorn just laughed- shaking her head. "I was just kidding Twilight. I just want you to be happy, and I refuse to believe that these books are what you need most in your life. A fine colt could do wonders for you!"
Twilight could only groan. For almost a month now, Rarity had been pitching colts at her like a glorified dating service. It started with some random girl talk one afternoon, leading towards what the two found attractive in colts. She made the mistake of giving away her fondness for other unicorns, and since then, Rarity had taken on the role of match maker. Asking Twilight's opinions on this pony and that pony, narrowing the search down to only those Twilight had found -reasonably- close to her type.
"I could try to talk to Dark Star again." Rarity nodded at her, looking almost desperate. Like she needed this more than she did. "Tell him you were wrapped up in very important business with Princess Celestia. I'm sure it won't take much- the boy seems completely taken with you!"
"Nggh.. Rarity.. I-" Her eyes looked into Rarity's, and instantly she felt the fight rush out of her. Something about Rarity's pleading look melted even her will power. How Spike would ever manage to say no to her was beyond Twilight's reasoning. "Fine fine. Do it."
Rarity looked stunned. "W-What?"
Twilight looked unamused. "You heard me. Set it up. Drag him in. Plan the date. Shoot your magic arrow." She made a show of it, moving her arms like she'd let loose cupid's arrow into some lonely mare's flank. "I'm done trying to fight it."
"Oh Twilight.." That -was- not the tone Twilight was expecting.. "I'm.. sorry. Am I going too far with this? I honestly only wanted to help you. You sound like you want nothing of it."
Twilight rolled her eyes- thankfully having turned away from her friend to shut her book with a flare of her horn. "I finally say yes to a date and -now- you want to listen to my protests?"
Rarity giggled, raising a hoof to her chest. "It must have been the shock of having you finally agree with one of my choices... But, really. If I've crossed the line dear, I'll stop."
Now it was Twilight's turn. The ball was in her court. Maybe that's what Rarity's plan was all along. Make her finally agree as if she's tired of dealing with Rarity's matchmaking only to leave it up to her to -really- decide on going through with it.
Oh. Oh this pony was good...
"Y-Yeah." She began, before stuttering. "W-Wait. No no. I mean.. I don't mind going on a date with Dark Star."
Spike turned, nearly gaping at her. It was enough to make Twilight regret her decision instantly.
"Oh Twilight.." Rarity looked like she was on the verge of tears.. "I'll speak with him as soon as I can track him down again. Oh, I tell you he'll be so happy you're interested!"
"But..!" Twilight countered, spinning abruptly and snapping her hooves together. "I want to pick the place, and the time. Believe it or not, I -do- have things I have to do."
Rarity just nodded, too overjoyed to argue the details. "Of course of course! We can talk the small things over after I've spoken to him." She.. still looked rather ecstatic as she pranced up and hugged Twilight tight. Making the bookworm blink. "I'm just.. so... proud..."
Spike still looked stunned. It was all Twilight could do to keep from flat out sighing. Was it really that shocking? Did all her friends think she was some sort of stick in the mud, incapable of talking to colts or something? She'd have them know that she had been on dates before! At least two of them! And one wasn't even a study date either.
"Oh, look at me." Rarity leaned back, the hug over- her hoof coming up to brush her mane. By Celestia, she did have tears in her eyes. "I've gone and spent all day here trying to get you to come around. I should get back to my shop. People will think I've closed down!"
"All day?" Spike finally snapped out of it- but it had Twilight confused too. "It's barely two o'clock."
Rarity looked surprised, glancing towards the windows. "Only two..? But it's so dark out."
The sky outside was almost black. Twilight had failed to even notice the sun had stopped shining through the windows- having the library lit up to the perfect reading light level like she did. There hadn't been much to give it away save for the dark view outside the glass windows..
"Is it.. supposed to rain today?" She had barely managed to ask before Spike coughed, clutching at his throat for a moment- before beltching loudly. The unfurling green flame coiling through the air in a bright display before swirling rapidly into the shape of a scroll- which popped into existence a moment later. Falling right into the hands of her assistant.
"Oh my." Rarity murmured- about the same time the shuddering of thunder shook the library. "Does Princess Celestia normally send you letters first..?"
No. No she didn't. "Spike?"
He was already unraveling the parchment- unfolding it in a hurry, emerald eyes scanning the lines of text that was no doubt from her mentor. The moment his eyes widened and his fists clenched the scroll- her horn flared to life and took it out of his hands, whisping it before her face.
"Twilight.." Rarity pipped up, stepping closer. "What's going on?"
There is little time to adequately inform you of the details, but the storm you will no doubt be seeing is not natural or intended. Inform Ponyville's weather patrol to immediately take action. Tell the town ponies to seek shelter. I cannot stop it without leaving Canterlot to fall to ruins. Princess Luna will be there as soon as she can be spared.
Make haste my student. Lives are at stake.
- Princess Celestia
"Rarity." The scroll fell to the floor. "Go home. Tell everypony you see to find cover, and tell them to tell every pony they see. Take Spike with you."
Rarity blinked- glancing to the scroll, then back to Twilight. Who's horn was flaring up even as she stared at her with the most serious expression she'd ever seen.
But in a flash of white light, Twilight was gone.
Another rumble of thunder made her worry even more. In the distance, the approaching wall of dark clouds lit up like a fireworks display- streaks of hot white lightning arching through it's dark core and upon the ground below. One look was all it took Rainbow to tell that this storm wasn't your average storm. There was something off. Even more off than how quick it'd spread from Canterlot today.
She'd been home all day. Some practice flying before slipping inside for a late lunch. Hardly had she finished that when the rumbling thunder brought her back outside- and this was waiting for her. That small cloud system spreading to this massive monster. In fact, Canterlot was completely obscured by the distant haze of torrential rainfall. But even more disturbing, was the flare of lightning. Almost never ending. Seemingly centered where Canterlot should be. What's going on over there...?
The last vestiges of blue sky were beginning to recede. The clouds from this storm were rolling into Ponyville turf. Her turf. -That- never happened. Weather was restricted between areas unless otherwise agreed upon between towns to share a storm or cloudy sky. Even -if- Canterlot was supposed to be getting pounded by this monster storm, there was -no- way it was supposed to enter Ponyville.
Her eyes narrowed and her wings fluttered to life as she hopped off from her cloud based home, rain goggles (Wonderbolt imitations) in tow atop her head. Eager to get a closer look at what she was dealing with. But, before she could so much as float up higher, a flash of white snapped up from below. And it most assuredly wasn't lightning.
"Rainbow Dash!" Twilight called from the field below her sky home- her voice carried over the building breeze. "Thank goodness I caught you!"
"Twilight?" Rainbow wasted no time in turning downward- swooping in a quick spiral till she was hovering before her unicorn friend, who was wobbling on her hooves in the slightest. No doubt from the teleportation spell she'd just used. "You here about the storm? I was just about to go have a look to check-"
"Yes!" Twilight nearly shouted, a look in her eyes that Rainbow most assuredly didn't like. "It's bad Rainbow. Real bad. I don't know what caused it, but Princess Celestia herself sent me a letter to get everypony to shelter right away!"
Rainbow blinked. The Princess herself? "This thing came from Canterlot. I saw it earlier and it was nothing more than a squall!"
"I don't know what it can be, Rainbow. I just know it's bad. Celestia would never send me such a short letter asking for my help like she did unless she's wrapped up in the thick of it and it's seriously critical."
Her mind drifted back to the flashes of lightning seemingly coming from Canterlot's mountain. Just how bad was it there if it was keeping the Princess from just whisking all this away in a blink of an eye?
"She told me to rouse the weather ponies." Twilight continued on, looking up at her desperately.. "I don't think she knew that Ponyville only has one during the summer or if she just forgot in her hurry, but you were the first pony I thought needed to know what was going on."
Rainbow looked from Twilight to the flashing wall of storm rolling their way.. "I'm.. not sure what I'm supposed to do about that- exactly.." Reaching up with her hooves, she tugged the blue rimmed goggles down over her eyes. Making sure they fit nice and snug. "Not until I get a closer look anyways."
"Of course. I'll head back into town and make sure everypony stays inside where it's safe. But before you go-" Her horn flared up, and she stepped forward till Rainbow could feel it's warmth flutter around her for a moment before it faded as quickly as it came. "There. Now I can speak to you over distance."
Rainbow cocked her head to the side. Twilight noticed. "If you focus enough on me and think what you want to tell me, I'll hear it." She spoke to her again a moment later, without moving her mouth- her voice just an echo in Rainbow's head. "And I can do the same with you."
Under any other circumstances, Rainbow would be wow'd by just how awesome that was. But the darkening sky and the rumble of rapidly approaching lightning clouds kind of kept things down to earth. "Alright. I'll let you know when I reach the storm front."
Without waiting, Rainbow zoomed off in a blur- flapping her feathered wings hard to gain altitude as she headed for Ponyville's north eastern farmland. "Sounds like a plan." Twilight's voice echoed in her mind again. For a moment she felt her presence. Mostly when it faded suddenly, only to re-solidify a moment later. Her voice sounding a bit faint and weary, "I-I'm back in Ponyville now."
Rainbow swallowed hard as the wind began to pick up- feeling it in her wings before anything else. Sweet Apple Acres was on the front lines. The buffer zone between Ponyville and the coming storm. If she hurried, she could get there before the worse rolled in. Maybe she could pull something off to spare the Apple family any more misfortune this season.
Was this the excitement you wanted? The nervousness bit at her mind.
Making sure she would eat her words.
Pinky glanced up at the clinking pots and pans that hung from their racks in the kitchen of Sugar Cube Corner, the last reverbs of thunder rolling on by after a few more moments. It was only then that she released her breath. Turning her worried eyes back around to the front of the store.
"I don't know everypony.. This storm looks like it's just getting worse." She trotted back out front, where Mr. and Mrs. Cake were busy talking to the family of customers that remained in the store. "You know I'd throw a party no matter what the weather was looking like, but I don't know how many other ponies would want to come with it looking this bad."
The smallest, a magenta coated and violet maned little filly with a tiara cutie mark, stomped her hooves. "My birthday party cannot wait for any storm! Daddy!" She rounded about on the older gentlecolt beside her- looking livid. "I. Want. A. Party!"
"Now now sweetums." The girl's mother stepped in, speaking softly. Utterly whipped by her daughter. "What's the point of having a party if no one can make it? You know your father and I can give you a proper ceañera on our own until you can throw your party tomorrow."
The little filly would have none of that- and Pinky Pie had to admire her desire for parties with how shocked and appalled she looked at having to put it off for a whole day! "Tomorrow isn't going to be -my- birthday anymore! How do you think it'll look to have my party a day late!"
Mr. and Mrs. Cake didn't look the least bit amused by this. In fact, they looked rather down. No doubt because bad weather drove away good business. And standing around listening to a spoiled little pony whine to her parents was certainly not a better alternative to good business.
"Perhaps tomorrow morning would be better." Mrs. Cake began, putting on a sweet face for the belittled couple. "Mr. Cake and I can even bake a fresh birthday pie to-" A flash outside make all their breath's catch in their throats- nevermind the sudden boom of thunder that quickly followed. "Oh dear.. It's really getting bad out there.."
Pinky politely slipped from around the counter and marched to the front of the store, peering out the front of the shop's large window at the dark streets where many-a-pony ran to and fro, securing their outside stalls against the surely coming rain.
"Tomorrow would be best." Mr. Cake stepped in, his voice a bit more stern than that of his wife. "Even if this storm is unscheduled, it still seems like it'll be a doozy. Little miss Diamond Tiara wouldn't want all her presents to be blown away... I'm sure." He was actually not well known for his patience...
"Of course not!" The mother didn't seem to notice, speaking with shock at the thought! "Then what would my poor baby get for her birthday?"
The little filly huffed, looking almost like she might be on the verge of tears. Thankfully, she didn't argue the issue further. Mr. Cake most certainly had made a valid point!
"Tomorrow it is then!" The colt shook Mr. Cake's hoof, turning towards the door- Pinky Pie smiling broadly as she stepped out of their way. "I'll see you tomorrow then Miss Pinky Pie. Bright and early?"
The party pony gave him a salute, "Yessir! Bright and early!"
No sooner had the door opened did Rarity quickly run in with Spike clinging to her back- nearly bowling over the foal's father in the process. "Pinky Pie! Mr. and Mrs. Cake!" She looked at the family who stood off to the door's side- who blinked back at her, confused. "You... ponies! You all must take shelter immediately!"
"Rarity?" Pinky was happy to see her friends- but not all panicky and strung out like the normally dapper unicorn looked at the moment. "It's just a rumbly stormy storm. There's no reason to be afraid of it!"
Spike hopped off Rarity's back. "This is different Pinky!" Even he looked shook up. "Twilight got a letter from Celestia! It was urgent! She told us to tell everypony we saw to get to cover before she ported off. Probably to Rainbow's."
"Dashy's?" Pinky blinked, while the Cakes just exchanged worried glances. "Why there?"
"She's the only weather pony on duty." Rarity quickly turned and glanced out the door- ignoring the family beside her, who were too busy watching to complain at her blocking the door. "And she's going to have her worked cut out for her in this weather I'm afraid. Twilight looked absolutely serious when she read that letter."
"I don't blame her." Mrs. Cake cut in, crossing out from behind the counter herself. "If Princess Celestia says we should all take cover, then I suppose we should all be taking cover."
Finally the gentlecolt father cleared his throat, stepping to the front of his family. "Then I think we'd best be getting home then, before the rain starts and my Diamond gets her mane ruined before the party tomorrow."
"Nonsense!" Mrs. Cake was quick to jump in, looking adamant. "You can stay here. At least until the weather passes. That storm could hit any minute now." Even as she spoke, the first droplets of rain splattered against the window. Making the young filly groan beside her consoling mother.
"Oh we couldn't do that.." The mother began, looking like she was searching for a way out of spending all day in the bakery rather than just being polite.. "We would never.. want to.." She trailed off, looking mightily confused..
There was a sound that nopony could rightly place. It started as a distant rumble, but slowly began to grow to a constant roar. Outside, it seemed as if it grew darker within seconds- the wind suddenly picking up enough to topple over a nearby cart stand. Rolling whisps of rain water beating across the cobble stone square.
That sound.. wasn't rain, though.
"Everypony." Mr. Cake took charge, opening up the divider of the counter- a stern look on his face as he moved aside. "There's a cellar under the kitchen floor. I think we should move to it."
Even the spoiled foal's family didn't seem to want to argue at this point- the foal herself huddled close to her mother as they wordlessly trotted towards the kitchen. Pinky turned towards the door, glancing out the windows long enough to see that same overturned cart start to drag itself down the street..
"Pinky Pie. You too."
She nodded, but took the time to flick the lock and turn their sign around to 'Sorry, We're Closed'. Before twirling about to Rarity and Spike, who were busy looking at each other in worry.
"Come on you two!" She bounced over, giving both nudges towards the kitchen. "It's not everyday you get to see the Cake's cellar! I'll give you the whole tour!"
She was glad they got moving and didn't question why her tone was slightly un-Pinkified. She had one of her trademarked bad feelings. And not one she'd ever had before. It was a burning in her gut that was still eating at her even as they descended into the dark basement. The sound of wind outside ripping around the house. Howling in fury.
Something bad was happening..
If the skies were rough a few minutes ago.. they were something else now. Rain was flooding her vision, beating against her goggles and her face till her cheeks were numb. She could make out the rushing buildings below, eying the occasional pony running for shelter, or closing their window shutters. Of course, this was all just for a moment or so. She was a blur across Ponyville's skyline. Before long, she was across the city and over rural fields and stretches of clearings that were completely void of life.
"Twilight?" She focused on the unicorn. "You still with me?"
"Of course." The reply was instant, and Rainbow couldn't suppress the sigh of relief she gave. "I'm back at the library. The rain is getting rough here. So's the wind. Where are you?"
Rainbow glanced down again, watching a winding road- half hidden in fog- spread out before her. A good forty to fifty feet below. "On the road to Applejack's. Just outside of Ponyville."
"Good. You're making good time." She sounded worried. More than she was moments ago. "Do you... hear that?"
Rainbow listened, but over the rustle of the wind and rain, it was hard to hear anything other than Twilight- and that was just because she was inside her head.
"I can't hear anything up here. What's it sound like?"
A pause.. "Must just be the wind.. I've never seen it this bad before.."
Neither had Rainbow, but she didn't let Twilight know that. She could handle these winds. Even if they buffeted against her wings to the point that Rainbow was constantly shifting from side to side. The rain made everything all the more difficult. Limiting her view distance and cutting against her body like little needles.
She barely made out the foggy outline of a massive apple tree before it was upon her- causing her to suddenly curve up higher into the air, which caught the wind against her wings and caused a spin before she could even compensate.
"A-Alright.." She panted, struggling to stay still in these crazy crosswinds. "I -think- I'm at Sweet Apple Acres now.."
"Thank goodness.." Twilight's relief flooded into her mind. The feeling was eery. "What do you see? Can you see the storm clouds?"
Rainbow glanced around as best she could. Seeing nothing but the hazy sheets of rain guided by rolling winds. "Uh.. No.. But I can go higher."
"-Only- if it's safe enough to, Dash." Twilight's serious tone disturbed her enough back at her home. Through her mind? It did all the more. "If you're having trouble flying at this altitude, going higher is only going to be more diff-"
"Wait!" Rainbow watched as the winds struggled to continue their made swirl before they leveled into blowing in a single direction- the rain that had been whipping about at random now falling in a single uniform direction. Stinging against her left side. "The weather is shifting!"
She hesitated in thinking that maybe the storm was passing. It was still far too dark. But for a bit, at least, the winds eased up in their crazy torment. And the rain lessened to the point that her view distance increased exponentially. The battered but sturdy apple trees spreading out across hills in front of her. She knew where she was now.
"I'm just north east of the farm! I must of overshot it." She tested the winds further, pumping her wings to rise in altitude till she was a good fifty meters in the air. The wind was creepily calm up here. The air warm and humid. "Somethings not right..."
"R-Rainbow Dash.." Twilight was panicked. Disturbed. As if something must of dawned on her. "That noise.."
Now Rainbow could hear it. The sound was deep. Deep and howling. It reminded her of the train they rode to Applesoosa. Except louder. Ten fold. Even before she knew what it was, Rainbow's heart chilled at the sound. And that fear must of reached Twilight.
"What do you see Rainbow Dash?"
Her eyes darted back and forth, scanning the foggy distance for anything. Anything out of the ordinary in a storm like this. Would she even recognize it? Would she even see it in time? Could she be wrong?
"What do you see?"
A twisting, massive figure faded into view. A silhouette of black against the backdrop of grey. It's massive body bent and ever moving, dancing across the distance. The figures of trees, massive in size but dwarfed by this monster, disappeared within it's body. Consumed by the ravenous beast of nature's fury. A beast only seen in the Everfree forest. A beast of legend.
And on it's flanks came two more. Just as big. Just as powerful. Just as frightening.
"Tornados..." She barely felt anything but her heart hammering in her chest. Feeling like it would burst. "Lots of them!"