A/N, specifically to people who have read my other stories: This story is set in the same multiverse as Rainbow Leap, but not the same universe. If you've read Rainbow Leap, you'll know what the distinction is, but if you haven't, disregard this sentence, no harm done. To those of you waiting on a sequel to Harmony's Wrath, I have a bunch of stuff planned, but I feel it needs to gestate some more, and this will keep me sharp while that happens.
"Alright Rainbow, all set to go."
"Nnngh! Too tight! Too tight!"
"Eep!" Twilight Sparkle loosened a strap around Rainbow Dash's stomach, letting her breathe more easily. "Sorry. It's not like I had Rarity's help with this."
"I can tell..." Dash raised an eyebrow and examined herself. She was wearing an experimental flight suit Twilight had built. It wasn't like one the Wonderbolts' flight suits; no, there was much more in this than brightly coloured spandex. The dull grey material was felt like rough canvas, and had all sorts of mechanical bells and whistles attached to it with some mysterious, arcane function. Twilight said something about them making her move faster, but she didn't quite see how that was suppwoah. She went to step forward, and her body jerked forward significantly more than she intended it to. It was like there had been this invisible friction from the air that she was now freed from; it was an odd feeling. Her limbs moved through the air alarmingly quickly when she moved them, and when she tried to jump, she leaped twice as high as she normally would under the circumstances, and fell twice as hard. Why did I agree to this again?
"Having fun?" Twilight chuckled. Dash bounced around the library like a little filly, testing out how the apparatus affected her movement.
"This is... weird..."
"So it's..." Crash. Rainbow Dash collided with a shelf and liberated that wall of its books. "... working..."
"Yep!" She popped her head out from the pile of books, unfazed.
"Alright, there's just one last thing to complete the set..." Twilight floated a pair of goggles over to Rainbow, and snapped them around her head for her.
"Ow!" Dash yelped, pushing them up to her forehead. "Watch it!"
"Were you going to put those on yourself?" Twilight chuckled, and headed out. Dash grumbled and followed, still getting used to her strange, altered movement physics.
Outside, the sun was shining brightly on Ponyville. Plenty of ponies were out on this fine spring morning, so any hopes the two had of making it out of town quietly were promptly dashed. Twilight had hoped to make it out to one of the meadows just beyond the river for the 'test' - whatever that meant - and Rainbow wasn't eager to be seen looking like this for very long, so neither of them were particularly pleased when they picked out Pinkie Pie bouncing through the crowd towards them.
"Hey guys! Whatcha doioooooh, what's this?" She immediately shoved her head underneath Rainbow's front legs to inspect the main box of flashy lights and doodads hanging off her. Dash jumped into the air to hover, nearly rocketing away into the sky by accident.
"Nothing! It's nothing!" She clasped her hooves underneath her chest. Pinkie pouted.
"It's not my birthday, is it?"
"Actually, Pinkie," Twilight butted in. "We were on our way to do some flight tests. Ordinary, boring stuff. You probably wouldn't be interested."
"Aww, but when Dashie flies it always looks so cool! Zip, zow, zoom, peeyooow!" Pinkie waved a front hoof in front of her face, back, forth, then back again, and then around, knocking herself over in the process.
"Alright, you can watch..." Twilight groaned. "Just... try not to tell anyone, okay?"
"Ooookie dokie lokie!" She zipped her mouth shut, and fell in line behind them.
They had tried to pick a quiet route around the back alleys, away from prying public eyes. Cross the road outside the library, duck in between Quills 'n' Sofas and the Hardware Store, and then just follow the back roads out of town behind Sugarcube Corner and the Carousel Boutique. Unfortunately, timing was against them. As they were sneaking past the back door of the Carousel Boutique, it burst open, and Rarity trotted out, hovering a bag of garbage in front of her. They hoped to sneak past unnoticed, but as soon as it was in the can, they could hide no longer. The first thing Rarity noticed was entirely predictable.
"Rainbow Dash, what in the wide world of Equestria are you wearing?" She zipped over and scrutinised the suit intently, looking more disgusted the more she saw. Dash grumbled. "I know you're not usually one for fashion, but this just takes the cake!"
"Actually, Rarity, I built that. Emphasis on built." Twilight interrupted. "This isn't a fashion accessory, it's a flight suit. And we're testing it. Okay?"
"There's no need to snap, Twilight..." Rarity backed up a little. "Mind if I... tag along? Just out of curiosity? Maybe I could beautify that old rag for you when you're done with it."
"I guess..." Rainbow Dash sighed. She was gradually becoming more confident in her movement with the suit, and was just about managing to hover around on her back without spiralling out of control.
"Fine..." Twilight groaned, and they carried on.
"Ah still don't get where yer comin' from, Fluttershy," They heard as they approached the crest of the hill. They'd recognise that voice anywhere.
"It's pretty simple really, if the animals can't get in to graze, wild grasses and weeds start outgrowing the crops you want to grow, and..."
"Oh, alright, everypony can come watch us." Twilight smacked her forehead with a hoof when she reached the top of the hill, to see Fluttershy and Applejack a few lengths away discussing something about farming and fencing off plots. They looked up when they heard them coming, a little confused, but when they saw Rainbow Dash's unusual attire, they got the general idea. "Okay Rainbow, can you do a few test loops first?"
"Done!" Dash grinned, finally getting a chance to stretch her wings. She went in for a tight vertical loop of about five yards, but with her increased speed, she ended up forming a much wider circle, twenty yards across. Twilight could tell from the look on her face that it was working.
"Hah. Now that we know everything's working on the technical end, start warming up, I want you to give this everything you've g-"
"-ot...?" A strange noise and a bright flash of light behind the group caught their attention. Twilight wheeled around on her front hooves, and promptly fell over in fright. One by one, all the others turned around, and their jaws hung open in sheer disbelief. "D... d-d-d..."
"Delighted to see me? Wonderful!"
"Discord!" All six exclaimed together.
"Nice to see your memories are all in working order." The draconequus smirked, idly sprawling on the trunk of a tree, strung sideways between two stiff hammocks sticking out of the ground.
"It's impossible!" The colour drained from Twilight's face.
"Oh, did you really think being turned into stone was enough to stop a lord of chaos?" Discord chuckled. "I can alter the very fabric of reality at the click..." Click. In a flash of light, Fluttershy disappeared, and in her place was a small, pale yellow bird with a soft pink crest. "... of my fingers, and you thought a few pieces of jewellery could seal me away?" He was steadily cracking up over the course of his sentence, and before very long he was rolling on the ground laughing.
"What did you to do Fluttershy?" Rarity barked, visibly distraught.
"Oh, I think a better question might be..." Click. With another flash, Rarity was replaced with a little white cat, with purple tipped ears. It blinked, looked around in confusion for a moment, before lunging after Fluttershy. "... what did I to you?" he leered.
"This ain't funny, Discord!" Applejack snarled.
"Oh, Applejack, you are just dull as a rock today!" Click. Applejack froze in place, and the colour of her coat faded to grey. Within a second, she had turned to stone. "Geddit? Rock? Ha!" He paused, as if waiting for a response. When met with silence, he pouted. He summoned a microphone from nowhere and tapped a claw on it. "Hello? Is this thing on?" Eventually, Pinkie Pie broke down and sniggered at the pun. Twilight kicked her flank. "Ah, the element of laughter, my old favourite..." He swirled around Pinkie in mid-air, giving her the gentlest of tickles under her chin. Her snickering quickly gave way to hearty giggles, and then a full-on belly laugh. Twilight and Rainbow Dash started to back away. "I always saw a little something in you... a little promise..." A twinkling sound emanated from Pinkie. Slowly, colour and saturation began to drain from her body, her bright cerise mane and pale pink coat dulling to muted grey colours. As the colour faded, her laughter shifted from innocent, joyous giggling to devious, sinister cackling. Once complete, she eased up, and her mane fell down over her face, obscuring half of her malicious grin. "... I think we'll enjoy working together." She turned to face Twilight and Dash, who were by now fleeing at full tilt.
"Gotta think of a plan, gotta think of a plan..." Twilight was sprinting as fast as she could in the general direction of Ponyville, while Dash was just lightly jogging to stay with her.
Fswsh. Discord reappeared in front of them. The skidded to a halt.
"Oh, aren't you going to bring your friend with you?" He pouted. Behind them, Pinkie Pie was charging after them. Rainbow Dash took to the air, and Pinkie lunged at Twilight. Twilight winked out, reappearing about twenty lengths away on the next hill. Discord only had to snap his fingers, and Pinkie was right on top of her again.
"We're gonna have so much fun!" Pinkie grinned, pinning Twilight to the ground and gnashing her teeth at her.
"Rainbow Dash, run! Get out of here as..." Pinkie's jaws narrowly missed her face. "... as fast as you can!" Twilight threw Pinkie off with a psychic shove and bolted in another direction. Dash didn't need to be told twice. She immediately started towards the sky, passing the cloud layer almost instantly. Behind her, the clouds slammed together in a thick, grey wall. She heard a crunch when they closed, like two walls of stone colliding. She gulped, pulled the goggles down over her eyes, and carried on up.
With the extra acceleration the flight suit afforded her, she was climbing to the thin air much quicker than she had anticipated. She even passed the sound barrier on her way up - though rather than the almighty boom she expected, all she heard of it was a little pop. She was accelerating too quickly to stay in the vicinity of the Sonic Rainboom for very long. She was a little disappointed at how anticlimactically it passed; however, there were more important things to worry about right now. She levelled off at the highest point at which she could keep breathing, and started to descend again at a shallow angle. Her speed picked up even more here, and as she neared the ground, things around her started to look funny - her peripheral vision started to go dark, while the point directly ahead of her was becoming brighter. See you on the other side, a voice said in her head. She instantly recognised it as Discord's. She didn't want to know how he was in her head, or what he was doing there. The more distance between me and him, the better, she thought. She levelled out fully when nearing the ground, and continued horizontally.
Then, everything whited out.
Funny things happen when you break the light barrier.