Rain without Rainbows
A collaboration story between two reluctant bronies!
Co-Author: Cyros Lugoth
!Disclaimer! Do you honestly think I would ever claim ownership over PONIES? DO YOU? Well, I don't blame you – look at how much money they've made Hasbro. Regardless, I don't own ponies – of any kind. So go sue someone else.
Ladies and gentlemen, I'm now courageous enough to admit an earth-shattering fact – I like ponies. Specifically, Hasbro's latest rendition in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. (A thousand curses upon csd of punk-o-matic for getting me hooked on them! [Just kidding, csd! Bronies forever!]) This story takes place after the events of season one, is going to be my next adventure/drama tale, and I expect at leasttwelve chapters. I've got my work cut out for me now!
A/N 7.7.11: Made a few minor changes to preserve detail integrity, and to alter punctuation.
A/N 9.25.11: Revision note: Updated various parts and removed all info about fanart inclusion.
Chapter one: The Wishmaster
Rainbow Dash wasn't sure what she was angrier at – the fact that an up-and-coming pony band had come to town and roused her out of her third afternoon nap, or the fact that none of her friends had deigned to tell her. Or perhaps it was the sudden headache she was suffering due to her uncomfortable sleep. It was anypony's guess why (and indeed how) she dozed off on tree limbs.
Regardless, the blue-coated pegasus couldn't quell her rising excitement. Despite her headache, or her unwanted waking, or her friends' silence, the fact remained that a rising band had arrived to entertain her home. It was early evening, with the sun beginning to set – the sky was clear and glowing brilliantly in a fire of red and orange. In almost no time at all, a large stage had been set up in Ponyville's center, and a larger crowd was gathering as the final preparations were finished.
Rainbow yawned and stretched, then went slack on the tree limb she still rested on. Her headache pounded at her temples, screaming at her to go back to sleep. She shook her head, and immediately wish she hadn't.
"Ow…" she murmured as her headache flared, bringing a hoof to her temple in protest. After a moment of rubbing, she relaxed, allowed herself a grin…then dropped off the limb.
She felt her mane whip past her in freefall, and she savored the brief moment before spreading her wings. At a perilous four feet from the unforgiving ground, she caught herself, and shot upwards toward the sky.
Not once did her smile waver. This is what she lived for – the speed, the vertigo, the crisp air above the ground. She continued to flap her wings, gaining height, until at last she could see the entire border of Ponyville. She turned her head to gaze at the horizon. There, beyond the forest and meadow, rested the capitol. Canterlot seemed even more serene against the enflamed sky and the cool breeze. Ivory towers and golden rooftops, nestled among mountains.
Rainbow turned her head back, comparing the sight of Canterlot against her view of Ponyville. Sure, Canterlot may hold the highest names in business, social gatherings, and indeed royalty, and one day she may want to go live there. However, the grand city couldn't compare to her tiny town in any way, thanks to one simple fact: her friends were here, and as long as they stayed, so would she.
She breathed the warm air deeply. As the feeling of fullness enveloped her, she felt perfectly content in her element. Just her and the sky, with the world below.
The moment was soon broken by a sudden blast of feedback from the town square. Apparently, one of the band members had dropped his instrument, sending a wave of harsh sound across the town. Rainbow Dash winced, opening one eye to gaze at the scene. From such a height, the ponies below her resembled nothing more than colors and lines.
She shook her head – slowly this time, to avoid upsetting her headache. "Ah well, might as well see what these guys have to offer!" She flapped her wings, drew her hind legs behind her, and soared toward the town square.
As Rainbow Dash landed on the edge of the town square, it looked as though the entire town had arrived to attend the sudden concert. Eager to see the band, she strained her neck above the ponies ahead of her before she finally gave in to frustration and decided to hover above them. She narrowed her eyes as she focused on the stage.
From her distance, she was able to see that there were six members in the band, all of them too far away to really make out any detail. She pumped her wings again, moving forward foot by foot.
One was a brilliant white unicorn, the white of a pearl, but he had his back turned to the crowd. Another was a pegasus, grey, with a fireball on his flank – but like the one before him, his back was turned. In fact, the only member of the band who was paying any attention to the massing herd was a blue colt with an orange mane, looking at all the world like he was the center of the universe. Rainbow almost gagged – if he wanted attention, she could think of a dozen better ways to get it.
Finding a space in the herd of ponies, Rainbow touched down and folded in her wings. She looked around – good, this spot was barely fifty yards from the stage front. A perfect place to see how this band fared.
Somepony was suddenly at Rainbow's left, and no sooner had the newcomer arrived than she began to release a torrent of words. "Hey, Rainbow Dash! What are you doing here? Is it the band? It's the band, isn't it? Have you heard of them? Because I haven't heard of them. I think they're totally new! I wonder what kind of music they play, don't you? Maybe it's something classical…ooh, maybe something with lots of drums! Boom!"
Rainbow slowly angled her head toward the speaker, not at all surprised to see Pinkie Pie practically buzzing with excitement. But then, she was always excited about something.
"Umm, Pinkie…I really doubt they would play anything classical," Rainbow replied, smiling at her friend's bouncing pink mess of a mane.
Shocked, the pink earth pony stopped. "Well, why wouldn't they play it?"
"Because they have guitars and a drum set. They're a rock band, most likely."
Pinkie whipped her gaze toward the band, apparently noticing their equipment for the first time. She gasped. "Oh yeah!"
Rainbow smirked at her friend once more, about to ask if Pinkie even knew what rock music was, when a sudden wave of sound washed over the herd. She shot her gaze forward (again causing her headache to flare) and spotted the source of the noise.
One of the unicorns on the stage – the pearl-white one – had begun to play. His horn was enveloped in rippling magic, as was his guitar. Proving his talent, his eyes were closed as he mentally plucked at the thick strings. The speakers on either side of the stage burst forth waves of deep, vibrating sound in response. As the attention turned on him, everypony noticed something: he had a pair of wings folded across his back. He wasn't a unicorn; he was an alicorn.
There was a resounding "Ooooh" from the herd, followed by excited cheers. Pinkie couldn't help but state the obvious: "He's using magic to play! That's amazing!"
Rainbow wasn't listening. The sounds of the bass guitar had piqued her interest. They were strong and smooth, flowing from one note to the next without effort. As the song began, the bassist's magic intensified, coaxing out even stronger chords.
Slowly, the other guitarist colts joined in. The grey pegasus entered with firm rhythm sounds, followed by the lead guitarist, a colt Rainbow hadn't noticed before. This lead player seemed like a normal colt among a band of eccentrics, being pale blue with a rich orange mane. Rainbow thought he looked like a modest version of the dark blue colt from earlier.
As the music kicked up, cheers from the herd rose up to clash with the song. Rainbow Dash couldn't help but smile and bob her head in time with the music. It didn't matter if she hadn't heard of this band before; they obviously had talent.
Eventually, the song ended, only for the next one to begin shortly after. During the entire concert, Dash couldn't help but admire the bassist alicorn. Perhaps it was his magic, or the way the sounds of the bass seemed perfect. As the concert moved forward into the night, his use of magic only grew more intense, suiting for the final song in their program. Yet, the entire time, his bass remained strong and smooth.
After a couple of hours that felt like a few fleeting minutes, the concert drew to a close. Feeling satisfied despite her still-nagging headache, Dash gazed at the sky. She blinked. 'It's so dark out already? There's a light rain scheduled for tomorrow evening...'
Perhaps most surprising of all, Pinkie had managed to stay silent and still during the show. As the band thanked the crowd among jubilant cheers and applause, she finally spoke up. "Hey, wait, is that all? No streamers? No balloons? This isn't a party at all!"
Rainbow smiled inwardly, spreading her wings. "Pinkie, it's not a party, it's a concert!" she called, lifting off the ground. She rose above the crowd, as did several other pegasus ponies, hoping to get one last good look at the band. The six of them stood tall, exhausted but happy, and accepted their well-earned praise as a curtain swept in front of them.
As Rainbow Dash saw the curtain ripple, the sound of Pinkie's voice rose up distinctly from the herd. "That's not a streamer, you big sillies!"
Eventually, the herd dispersed, each pony having their own tasks to attend to the following morning. Rainbow, now fully awake and buzzed by the music from earlier, decided to walk around the town square and enjoy the bustling night. Pinkie Pie was apparently let down by the lack of balloons, candy, dancing, and general colors, and so left for her home.
As Rainbow rounded the corner of the town hall, she caught a familiar silhouette among the departing ponies and colts. Oddly enough, nopony else seemed to notice the retreating shadow. As the silhouette walked toward the dark stage's back side, she followed.
As she followed the retreating figure, she felt all the more certain in whom she was seeing. 'Is that…the princess? What is she doing here?'
In no time, the figure had retreated behind the stage, which was totally obscuring what little light was around. Driven by curiosity, Rainbow trotted faster, calling out toward the silhouette. "Princess! Princess Luna!" She rounded the corner behind the stage, blinking to accelerate her night vision. Sure enough, the shadow was there, turning around.
Rainbow stopped in her tracks. As the pony before her turned, the horn began to glow, rapidly spreading light around them. The glow intensified at blinding speed – Rainbow had to shut her eyes against the sudden brightness. She turned her head away, grimacing; the intrusive light had upset her headache.
After a moment, Rainbow's eyes adjusted well enough that she could open them a crack. She slowly turned her head upward, looking at the unicorn/pegasus hybrid before her – and gasped.
"Oh! You're not…who are you?" she demanded.
The figure she had assumed was Princess Luna was, in fact, a colt. A colt who was gifted with both wings and a horn, just like the two regal sisters themselves and the bassist from the band. His horn gave off a soft light, steady now after flaring up so. Through that light, Rainbow noted his build – a healthy coat of charcoal against a pale white mane, with red eyes sharp enough to cut glass.
His horn's light flared again, though barely. He grinned warmly. "Well, well…" he began. "This is a surprise. What would persuade miss Rainbow Dash to visit me at this hour?"
Rainbow blinked. He knew her name? He wasn't anypony she recognized, so how could he know of her? Perhaps her fame was travelling faster and farther than she had thought.
At this notion, she couldn't hold back a swell of pride. She returned his grin. "Ya heard of me, huh?"
"Oh, yes." His horn flared again, which also caused her headache to pound at her temples. "You aren't surprised, are you? After all, you won Best Young Flier not too long ago. And you saved the lives of the Wonderbolts in the process. Where I'm from, you're considered a hero."
Rainbow couldn't suppress a mild blush. "Heheh…'hero?' I like the sound of that."
The dark-coated colt's horn continued flaring, each new wave of light causing a spike of pain from Dash's headache. She instinctively lowered her eyes, trying to force back the pain by rubbing her temple.
"Tell me, young one, have you been training well?"
Rainbow Dash raised her gaze again. This wasn't a question she was expecting. "Training? For what?"
"Training with the Wonderbolts, of course," the colt explained, cocking one eyebrow. "Surely they've accepted you into their fold after the competition?"
"Oh. That." The young mare let out a sigh, unable to hide her disappointment. "Well…no. Since the grand prize was just a day of flying with them, I don't think they ever really considered me as a candidate. The last I heard from them was at the Gala last month." A sad half-chuckle escaped her lips as she recalled the event of what was supposed to be her best night ever.
The dark-coated one before her tilted his head, his grin wavering. "Baffling," he muttered. "What else could they want from you? Surely you've shown them enough talent…?"
Rainbow flicked her eyes upward, locking them with his stare. "Yeah, well…" She sighed, raising her head to look him square in the eye. "Listen, wait a moment." She stepped forward, a sudden suspicion bubbling beneath her risen pride. "Just who are you, anyway, and how do you know so much about me?"
The alicorn before her blinked in surprise, then smiled warmly. "Of course…how rude of me." He bowed low, spreading the light of his horn across the road beneath them. "I am…Alucard, a colt of no real significance. I'm not from this area – if I told you where, you'd never believe me – but word of your deeds has travelled far."
'Alucard?' she thought, her paranoia ebbing. 'He seems nice enough.'
"Don't you find it a bit strange, though?" Alucard pressed on, determined to make his point. He raised his head again, the light of his horn increasing as he did so.
"Your idols, the Wonderbolts. The flight team you've been trying to get in to for most of your young life. Why have they not offered you a spot on their roster?"
Rainbow blinked. 'Why is he so concerned with me and the Wonderbolts? I mean, yeah, I'd love to be a part of their team, but there's no way I'd just ask them after what happened at the Gala. Still, at least this Alucard doesn't know about that.'
Alucard's horn flared once again, and he continued. "Could it be because of what happened to you and your friends at the Grand Gala?"
'Oh, horseapples.' "You…how do you…"
"Nevermind how I know, my dear," he cut in, lowering the light of his horn. "What's important is why they're not seeking you out...haven't you shown them enough talent?"
Her mouth pulling into a tight frown, Rainbow replied. "Well, I suppose not. Maybe I made Spitfire mad at the Gala, or maybe I accidentally insulted someone, or maybe they don't like my style. I don't know what's keeping me back."
She had lowered her eyes, averting her gaze from the glowing horn that continued to upset her headache. She didn't see him adopt a small grin, or see his eyes spark with an idea, or see him take a step forward. As he closed the distance between them, he whispered.
"If you'll allow me, I can give you the skill you'll need to win the approval of your idols."
"What?" she gasped, not expected to hear anything of the sort. "You can give…what? How?"
Alucard chuckled, fixing his gaze upon the mare's eyes. His stare seemed to bore into her skull. "My dear, it'll be easy. If you'll allow me, my magic can improve your already-impressive skill…and your ascent into the Wonderbolts will be as easy as spreading your wings."
Rainbow's mind raced as fast as she could fly. 'Oh my gosh, he can make me fly even better? By using magic? Just what kind of magic is it? Does it even matter? Twilight's magic gave Rarity wings of her own, so I know this kind of magic exists. What are the chances of this happening – maybe this is a trap? Well, just what are the chances? This could be MY big chance! But this seems too good to be true. Magic is always too good to be true! What will happen to me? Does it matter?'
Eventually, after she swallowed to clear the dry lump in her throat, she managed to wheeze out "Why?"
"Let's just say I have a promise to keep to an old friend of mine," Alucard replied smoothly. "Regardless, I think we both can benefit from this little magic trick of mine. I assure you, once I'm done, you'll fly up the ranks of the Wonderbolts with ease…quite literally."
Despite the nagging suspicion Rainbow Dash felt, she could not quell her rising excitement. Finally, after a moment spent trying to calm her pounding heart, she nodded. "If you can do that, then…what are we waiting for?" she said, finally letting loose the hopeful smile she had been withholding.
At the same time, Alucard also allowed himself a smile, though Rainbow couldn't see it for want of extra, natural light. In fact, unnoticed by her, a mass of dark clouds had moved in overhead. Thunder rolled in the far distance, better felt than heard.
There weren't supposed to be any rainclouds for another day.
"What should I do?" the mare asked eagerly.
The dark colt's grin grew wider. "Make a wish."
Without hesitation, Rainbow shut her eyes against the light of his horn, still smirking in anticipation. She could still see an ambient glow through her eyelids, a warm spot against her skin. The warm color flashed occasionally as lightning strikes moved into the area, driven by some unseen force; it was as if they were drawn above them.
Alucard's magic spread from his horn to the pegasus' body, taking the form of dark grey-and-blue waves. In no time, the waves totally obscured her body, forming a loose sac – not touching her, but surrounding her nonetheless. The feeling of it being so close to her, yet not touching her, gave Rainbow a mild sense of discomfort.
His horn glowing brighter, Alucard poured more power into his spell. The waves of blue turned darker and contorted with the grey, giving the entire spell an electric black look. The sac of magic closed inward, grazing Rainbow's body with a gentleness that was unbecoming of its appearance. The magic sped past her ears, similar to when she dived through the air at breakneck speeds.
The dark clouds drew closer, their bellies heavy with imminent rain. Lightning flashed overhead, shortly followed by intrusive thunder. The magic finally totally grasped Rainbow, flowing across her as though she were flying through moist air. It was a feeling she was familiar with, but the lack of effort left her wanting. It wasn't natural to get this feeling without having to work for it.
"Whoa…this feels weird," she commented. Her own echoes answered her, completely trapped by the sac of magic.
Suddenly, as though broken by the sound of her voice, the spell began to dissipate. Temporal winds buffeted her body, as though she were falling uncontrollably through the air. Strands of the spell broke off and seemed to crawl on her coat, parasites of power. They moved along her body, cold, yet electric; as the seconds crawled by, more and more continued to make contact.
Eventually, Rainbow's discomfort grew too much. "Alucard?" she asked, still receiving a broken echo.
As before, the break in her silence seemed to fracture the spell. Two gusts of temporal wind struck her; one from the front, and the other from her left. The strands that dug into her coat grew more determined, causing pain to lance through her skin. By instinct, Rainbow tried to lift her hoof to scratch at the irritation – only to find that she couldn't move her limbs.
Panic began to eat at her senses. Her eyes flew open, and she had Alucard's name in her throat, ready to shout…but he wasn't there. Where he had been standing only minutes ago, now only empty space was seen.
She was alone, held in place by a spell that had turned hostile. The more she struggled against the bonds, the tighter they held and deeper they dug. The winds grew even stronger, now focused entirely on her face. She blinked back stinging tears as the wind irritated her eyes.
"What the heck?" she cried, forcing her gaze up toward the sky above her.
Only to see a bolt of black lightning arcing directly toward her.
Rainbow Dash screamed.
Instead of feeling an intense electrocution, Rainbow was hit with a blunt force that shook her from neck to rump. The sudden force jolted her in a much different way, violently bringing her out of her slumber. Her eyes flew open, still horrified at the incoming lightning that never existed. She took short, shallow breaths, slowly coming to terms.
She blinked away her fears, gathering her bearings. She was in her cloud home, and it was midday. Warm sunlight flooded her room, and a few passing birds flew past a high window – which was really just a hole she had kicked out of the wall. However, this high window seemed low, almost as though the room had been flipped. But it wasn't the room. She had fallen out of her bed, and was upside-down.
Rainbow righted herself. She sat for a moment, calming her flaring nerves. The only thing about the dream that had been real was her headache, and still it pounded away like an eager newborn demanding attention. After a moment, Rainbow began to spurt broken, half-hearted laughs.
"Heh…heheh…it was all just a dream, then…? Hahah…well…I guess now's as good a time to wake up as any."
She shook her head to chase away her lingering fatigue, and immediately wished she hadn't. "Augh…" she groaned. This headache had to be taken care of, and the sooner the better. She rose to stand, shaken from the dream that had felt so real, and trotted out to go about her morning tasks, despite it not being morning.
As she prepared herself for the rest of the day, she accepted the dream for what it was – a dream. She berated herself for being so scared of it. Dreams couldn't hurt her, so why should she let herself be so affected by one measly nightmare? After all, she was Rainbow Dash! Nothing scared her!
She forced herself to laugh.
End chapter one
Author's comments: I'm having fun with this one. I never thought there'd be a day when I'd like ponies, but I can't deny it. I'm a brony, and I only mildly regret it! But alas, here's hoping I didn't lose any of you with what I wrote here.
I can't give enough thanks to my internet brother, Cyros Lugoth, who has helped me with this story every step of the way. We're on the path now, Cyros, so let's keep forging forward!
Edit note: Due to pre-reader feedback, I've altered some of the punctuation in the entire chapter. Also, I noticed a minor continuity error that I've also remedied. New version saved on 7.7.11.
Revision note: Document underwent revision to fix mistakes in grammar and punctuation, as well as to alter Alucard's description and dialogue. New version saved on 9.25.11.
Co-Author's comments: I never would have thought that I'd be a person asked to help on a fanfic. Especially about ponies. PONIES! I mean, really? Like everyone, I had a SMALL amount of skepticism when I watched the show, and after watching it, I'm a full on brony.
Quite an amount of my own ideas Leoshi actually implemented into this chapter. Two major ones being putting the band that him and I are in into the story, and my OC, Alucard, being in the story as well. Most of what I actually do is help proof the story, and even point out parts that I think don't feel right. Mainly being character traits in general. Here's hoping chapter two to whatever the last one is will be as entertaining of a read as this one!
Next chapter: Rainbow's dream seems within reach as the Wonderbolts hold their tryouts to let her join their crew! She puts her heart into her performance, but when she almost achieves her goal, her world comes crashing down.