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Rising From the Ashes · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
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Twilight’s Rainboom
“Listen all, and hear my pronouncement. I do grant the wish of my supplicant, and declare that oatmeal may be safely eaten with ketchup for breakfast, in reasonable amounts, if such is desired. The crown has spoken!”

A tiny filly with a smug grin on her face bowed to Princess Sparkle, turned and trotted out of the Crystal castle courtroom, accompanied by her nonplussed parents. Twilight watched them leave the Public Assembly Hall in the Castle of Friendship with a placid expression, but merriment in her eyes.

Princess Twilight Sparkle’s Grant-A-Wish day had been among the most popular of the new customs she’d introduced within the burgeoning town of Ponyville, which was well on its way to becoming a city in its own right. It had also proved to be a way to localize a lot of the problems formerly indicated by the Cutie Map, saving Twilight much travel time. Her friends weren’t getting around as they used to anymore, and some not at all, but life still marched on.

Twilight looked at the clock, and so didn’t notice it as Spike approached her. He was two heads taller than her now, with a serpentine neck and tail, and a pair of strong green wings behind his shoulders. He had many years to go before reaching the next phase of his growth, but he was already cutting an imposing drakish figure, and he knew it.

Twilight stood, stretching her back, and reached for a set of legal-sized saddlebags as she prepared to close the proceedings for the day and command her guards to dismiss the assembled ponies in the public gallery. As she turned to face the crowd, Spike plopped a large sheaf of application forms in front of her, and stood there smiling a wide toothy grin. “There’s one more wish that just arrived, Twilight,” he said in his deepening growly voice.

“Oh, no! I can’t take any more applicants right now, Spike! I still have to prepare for the Chamber of Commerce meeting. Diamond Tiara has been pushing for the most lopsided tax reduction I’ve seen in years, and I know it means she must be hiding something else in the other legislative proposals, and I need time to review it–”

“Twilight? It’s an Old Friend.” He winked.

The way he said it, she knew immediately. One of her First Circle of friends, the original holders of the Elements of Harmony, who were over time relinquishing their places in history and passing on their torches–all save Twilight, who stood constant. Being an Element had been the brightest achievement in their lives, but it was just a chapter to Twilight.

She looked at Spike now, swallowing her first question, and gave him a wistful smile. “It’s Rainbow Dash.”

“What? How did you know?”

“I’m starting to pick up a sense about these things, Spike. Of course I will see her. Please show her in.”

Rainbow Dash had retired eleven years before, and, due to her declining health, had taken up residence in the Higher Realms retirement community and hospice in Cloudsdale. Twilight still visited her when she could, but she was a busy princess now, starting to pick up the pattern of the long run of things and gain an alicorn’s perspective on eternity. Your old circle would fall away, things would pass, you would grieve and move on, building new circles that would fall away in turn. Twilight was still striving not to abandon the surviving members of her First Circle, but the newer ones were making great demands on her attention, and… it was hard, and complicated.

Dash came in on a portable cloud bed, an innovation in medical technology which she was able to guide using her innate magic. Twilight had steeled herself beforehand, but she felt a fresh pang at seeing what time had made of her old friend, the lithe, brash and powerful athlete. Her blue coat shone not from the glossiness of full health but from silver hair, and the colors of her mane and tail had faded as if covered in mist. Her wings, once aerodynamic marvels, were now patchy. Twilight could see with experienced eyes that several primaries were missing and had been replaced with false feathers for this occasion. But Twilight knew that those wings in their present state wouldn’t readily support a Pegasus in the air, and it wrung at her heart.

She concealed these feelings with an ease honed by political experience. “Rainbow Dash!” she called, as she rose from her cushion (it wasn’t quite regal enough a seat to call a throne) and trotted forward to hug her friend, approaching Dash as if she was a paper doll, and Dash’s return hug surprised her with its strength, though it was a shadow of what Dash was capable of in her prime. Twilight released the hug just before her competitive friend could try to make a contest out of it.

“Good ta see ya again, Twi!” she croaked; her voice had gotten raspier with age. “I know you’ve gotta be really busy, so lemme get to the point. You know how long it’s been since there’s been a Sonic Rainboom?”

Twilight did indeed remember the last occurrence, but her precise scholarly mind searched her memory for exceptions and edge cases anyway. “Twenty eight years, I think–”

“BZZT! Anytime you have to even ask a question like that, it’s been too long. We’re lucky all the big monsters are locked away in Tartarus, aren’t we? The realm is lacking a critical defense weapon, isn’t it? So… It’s way past time, Twi. And it’s all written out there in that paperwork, but that’s my wish for you. I want to feel a Sonic Rainboom again.”

Technically, Equestria had survived for over a thousand years without the need for a Sonic Rainboom, but Twilight held that fact inside. “Dash, I can’t restore that ability to you. No one can. I’ll be happy to work with you to figure out a better study plan for your students at the academy, but I’m not sure what else I can do…”

“Well, my last pack of fledglings at the academy were a real sharp bunch, even if they weren’t quite as amazing as I was back in the day. But Twi, ya see, I sent a letter to Celestia, asking about the Equestrian contingency plans for dealing with the lack of awesomeness that is a Sonic Rainboom. And one of the things she told me,” Dash patted a letter lying on the stretcher next to her, one with the Royal Solar Seal on it, “she told me that she herself is no longer able to do a Sonic Rainboom. So I was like, oh, could you ever do a Sonic Rainboom? And she said that when she was a really young alicorn, if she gave it all she had, like a hundred and ten percent, she could…”

Oh, no. Twilight could see it coming like a train with no brakes.

“…so I asked myself, do I know any young alicorns? And what do you know, I do, and it’s you, my very bestest friend and Flying Buddy! So here I am, to make a formal request of you. Me and some of my wingmares at the hospice, we wrote it all out in a bunch of forms because we know you lu-huv those forms, but to keep it short, we do, uh, ‘appeal, plead and request of you’ that you aid me in this matter of radicalness and national security!”

Twilight’s efficient brain was already marshaling the facts against. “But I’m not the youngest alicorn! Flurry Heart–”

“She’s going to a mission in Neighpon as an international good will gesture. Won’t be back for months. We gotta move on this, Twi! Winter’s coming up!”

“But–I’m nowhere near the athlete you are!”

“Twi, you know I like to razz you, ‘cause you used to be a little tubby when you were a full on bookworm, but now you’re not far off, especially now that you’re growing into that nice fit Alicorn body of yours. You keep active! I’ve seen you at the parade reviews at Wonderbolt Academy and you cut a good figure. You’ve been taking dance lessons. You’re always going to public functions, personal investigations, and running around the Cutie Map, not just sitting around on cushions all day while hunky stallions fan you and feed you cake.”

Twilight bit back her objection to the snark against her mentor, and tried another tack. “But I know so little about Pegasus ways! I do have the powers now, and you’ve showed me how to use many of them, granted, but there’s a difference. I’ve made no deep studies into this area–”

Dash nodded. “But what about that article, the one about the parrots and crows mating?”

“Huh?” Twilight glanced around her at the curious foals tittering in the public gallery.

Dash riffled through some more papers on her bed, pulled out a copy of Cloudsdale Aeronautics Monthly, and flipped it open to a bookmarked page, showing the article “Observations on Polychromatic Phenomena Attendant on Thaumic Phase Transference over Hypersonic Wind Shear Interfaces, by T. Sparkle.” She smugly showed it to Twilight. “You’ve been thinking about this yourself, haven’t you, Twi? You’ve probably even tried doing a Rainboom without telling me. You were probably trying to see just how fast you could go, one day, and you started seeing pretty colors in the slipstream. Am I right?”

“But those were just informal observations!” said Twilight in a voice that wasn’t whiny, because princesses don’t ever whine. Her escape routes were closing down.

“Yeah, yeah. Twi, I first did a Rainboom when I was ten years old. This whole thing can’t be too far beyond that egghead of yours. Besides, you’re not gonna lack for advice, ‘cause I’ll be coming with you.”


“Well, you don’t expect me to just sit here on the ground and watch, do you? ‘Cause that would be all kinds of lame. I’ll be on your back, lending you some of that old Dash magic, and giving you advice as we go!”

“Oh, hold on, now! How is that even going to work–” Another avenue of escape opened, and Twilight seized it. “Now wait, this is starting to sound risky. Have you gotten an okay from your doctors on this?”

Dash sighed. “Twi, why would we even ask them anything? They’re just gonna say no. At the hospice, they won’t even let you have an extra banana pudding without running five blood tests past ten specialists, and making you sign a waiver. C’mon, I’m pretty light as Pegasuzzes go. You won’t even notice I’m there.”

Twilight assumed her regal stance. “I’m sorry, Dash, but if anything happened to you, I could never forgive myself. I can still try to learn the Rainboom, but taking you along with me is out of the question.”

Dash shook her head with a weird soft little smile. “Aw, no, Twi, come on, don’t be like that–”

“I’m sorry,” said Twilight, putting on her polite but firm negotiation face. “That has to be my final decision. Your safety has to come first.”

“Twi… Don’t make me beg, okay? I may–” She swallowed, and her eyes flicked towards the ground for a moment. “I… may never get another chance to ask you.”

Twilight had known this was a possibility, but the dragging of the fact into the open was like another blow to her heart. “Rainbow? Are you okay? Should you even be out? Maybe you should be resting–”

Dash waved a hoof impatiently “Nah, nah, Twi, it’s not like that, c’mon. I’m not that fragile an old buzzard yet. It’s just, what have I got to look forward to now, in my life? I’ve done pretty much everything that was awesome enough to even consider doing. I’ve taught the Academy students everything I can. I’ve read the final Daring Do novel to pieces.

“And every day now, I lie in a bed and get stuck with needles and I keep sleeping longer and longer. Come on. I don’t want anything in my life more than I want to feel another Rainboom. And you’re The. Only. One who can do it.”

Twilight’s eyes shimmered. She felt the weight of the stares of the silent crowd, and Spike, and Dash’s eyes fixing on hers, challenging, pleading.

“C’mon, Twi,” said Dash quietly. “I’ve always had your back, Flying Buddy.”

Twilight closed her eyes, and her head tilted down. She took a deep breath.

Then there was a collective gasp through the gallery as the Princess of Friendship knelt before the erstwhile Element of Loyalty, and spread her wings to touch the ground.

“Okay, hop on, Flying Buddy.” said Twilight. “You’ve got my back. To the best of my ability, I will grant your wish.”

“Alright, Twi! You’re the best. I knew you wouldn’t let me down.” Dash flapped her wings and took to the air with painful effort. With a pale shadow of her former swiftness she flew over Twilight and settled onto her back, slowly, trembling. She felt almost as light in weight as a ghost. Twilight bit her tongue to drive the image from her mind.

Spike smiled as he took up the appointment book. “I guess this means that the meeting with Ms. Tiara and the Ponyville Chamber of Commerce is postponed?”

“Just so, Spike. Please ask Ruffled Feathers to compose a letter of formal regrets. A matter of the realm’s security has arisen.”

Twilight strode out from the crystal castle and through the town, a curious crowd following her and growing larger and larger. Spike strode at her side with that always-falling-forward lope employed by the bipedal, and a crowd of curious Pegasi were gathering around as well, both encouraging the crowd and keeping others from getting too close.

It was a beautiful bright day in late autumn, and the leaves had been run to the ground over a week ago and were already reducing to a protective layer of compost on the ground. Another few weeks might see flakes of snow falling, but for now the air was balmy and the sky bright and clear, with crisp white clouds dotting the sky.

Twilight finished reviewing Rainbow Dash’s wish application as she walked, making mental notes. “Now, Rainbow Dash, you know that we might not make this happen today, right? Sometimes these things take a lot of study and a lot of trial and error. We might have to make a long-term program of this after all.”

“Yeah, I know. I am all for intense training and trying hard, over and over. You get to a lot of interesting places, if you push yourself. But I have a good feeling about today. I think we’re gonna accomplish something incredible.”

“You can’t always rely on a feeling, Dash.”

“To pull off a Rainboom? You haveta. And it’s… Oh, nestfeathers, Twi, it’s the kind of thing you might have the words for but I don’t. But sometimes you need both, you see? The head steers the heart in the right way, but the heart powers the head, and they both have to work with each other; they can’t do it alone. Do you get what I’m saying? You may not think I can entirely back up this good feeling stuff of mine, but that feeling has to be there, or it’s not gonna work at all.”

“Okay, I can understand that, I think. You’re the expert and I won’t contradict you. Just don’t be disappointed if things don’t go well today. We’ll keep at it!”

Soon, they arrived at an open field near the outskirts of Ponyville. Somehow, this had become a Ponyville holiday, and the crowd had grown quite large. Twilight was vaguely aware of an expostulating Diamond Tiara somewhere in the background, but she tuned it out. She walked out through the fields and open grasses, trying to marshal a sense for a good starting place, her Pegasus senses feeling the breeze direction, air humidity, and other tells that she neatly sorted and reduced to data points in her mind. As she wandered, Dash did much the same, feeling the atmosphere, doing no conscious processing but sensing the sky with a lifetime of experienced intuition. And soon they stood on a certain spot of ground, near a bridge and flowing water, and Twilight turned her head back to check with Dash, but didn’t really have to as she already knew, and Dash nodded. This was a promising spot to begin. Wait a minute… over the years the memories rushed back.

“It was here, right, Dash?” Twilight smiled. “You were teaching me to fly right around here, all those years ago–”

Dash was already rolling about on Twilight’s back, laughing. “Yeah! And you wound up in that tree right over there on your first try!”

As they laughed together, the crowd assembled around them at a respectful distance. Some entrepreneurs were already selling refreshments; hayfries, funnel cakes and ice cream. Twilight didn’t particularly mind; ponies still had to eat.

“We’re gonna start by going for altitude, Twi. And don’t just ‘port us up there. Do it the hard way and get the blood flowing in your wings–”

“So, you want me to really flap them hard–”

“Yeah! But not that hard!”

They burst out laughing again as Twilight spread her wings, and took off with powerful strokes into the late afternoon breeze, circling in wide figure eights under the sun, seeking the rising thermals and using their lift. And even up here, the crowd of onlookers continued, with Pegasi picking out choice seats on nearby clouds, and popcorn being distributed, and everyone smiling at them. Spike circled with them, enjoying the chance to get an afternoon’s break, as Ponyville sank below them and became patterns of thatched roofs against the remote green ground, with farmland, river and the receding Everfree forest around, and flashes of light glinting from the Castle of Friendship.

Rainbow Dash spread her wings and took the sense of the air. “Okay, this is high enough for a start, Twi. It’s straight down from here.”

“That doesn’t sound very safe.”

“Well… it’s how I’m often heading when it happens. Does that make sense? It worked on my first shot. There’s something about that thrill of seeing the world rushing up at you.”

“So taking risks itself may be a factor?” Twilight considered the matter. Dash might have a point, but there was no sense in being imprudent about risk taking. She conjured a small spell that would keep Rainbow Dash firmly on her back at all times, and let it flow back through her mane and fur. “Okay, I can see the sense of that, I suppose. How should we start?”

“Well, it’d be kinda lame and dumb to set up a fake emergency, though I bet if you saw some filly falling off a cloud below, that’d get some good speed out of you.”

“I’d probably just teleport by instinct.”

“No teleporting, Twi, I’m serious. There’s no royal shortcut to this. Let me just put you through a few paces, first. Do you feel what I’m doing now?”

“Yes. You’re pushing magic through your flight feathers and letting it spread over your body. Slipstreaming, right?”

“Right, but we’re gonna push it out even further, widen the field. If it gets too rough it hinders the airflow. But you feel what I’m doing with it now?”

“You’re.. whoa. You’re sort of grooving it, at the interface. But doesn’t that just increase friction?”

“Not if you do it right. It makes it smoother if you get the grooves the right size. Then when the air flows through, it really moves swiftly. You get me?”

“I… I do! I see an analogy to an interference pattern, actually. You mean like this?”

“Right! You’re pretty sharp about this stuff, Twi.”

“I spend a lot of time thinking about… a lot of stuff. Sometimes, it’s the kind of stuff that works in more than one place.”

“Cool! Well, let’s see how we get on. Let’s make the mark that tree down there. Get ready to tuck your wings in and start the fall. Ready… Go!”

She fell, and let the wind rush by, then furled her wings and pushed down, flying not to escape the world but to flee towards it. Her broad wings scooped the air, pushing her through the wind faster, faster, the sky and world blurring at the edge of her vision. She shaped her field as Dash had suggested, and did find the going easier; the turbulence seemed to cancel itself around her. It was a strange magic in her, like a living thing. Dash was clinging loosely to her back, and Twilight could feel her excitement. When was the last time she’d felt this freedom for herself? If nothing else today, Twilight would give her friend a day to remember. She pushed her wings harder, faster, trying to achieve the speed she’d felt that one night when she’s been late for a lecture but had teleported too many times that day and she’d flown so fast that the world started to stream with wild colors around her, back when she’d read that article–

“Okay, Twi, pull up!”

Twilight snapped her wings out solidly, bringing her and Dash to a halt. They were still very far from the ground. “What’s the matter?”

“Well, this is just a practice run. I wasn’t expecting us to make it on the first go. But you’re kinda wandering all over the place.”

“What do you mean?” said Twilight. “I was looking at the tree the whole time–”

“Yeah, but your brain isn’t focused. Your feelings are drifting all over the place. You’ve gotta be putting all your energy into one thought, one goal. Let’s try this again!”

And thus began a long afternoon. It took five tries before Rainbow Dash was satisfied with Twilight’s focus, and then she started working on wing posture and timing. Twilight didn’t mind at all, for old fires were reawakening inside her. The exercise was invigorating, and her mind was recalling memories of her friendship with Rainbow Dash and the many dangers and adventures they’d shared together.

“Okay!” exclaimed Rainbow Dash after ten more trials. “I think you’re getting to the point where we can get the real work started!” The crowd had grown larger underneath them; the whole population of Ponyville was watching, and distant dots in the sky indicated that more spectators were incoming from Cloudsdale and perhaps even further away.

“Oh?” said Twilight. “Get started?” Her fur was sheened with sweat and her heart was thudding; she had put more disciplined exercise into this afternoon than she usually would in a week.

“I mean,” said Dash, “We maybe can get you to the point where you start to understand me. My other students usually didn’t get that far. The physical stuff isn’t that hard, for a dedicated Pegasus with a lotta experience. But we’re getting to the stuff you just have to feel your way into, and you know I ain’t gonna get it into your eggy-head with just words.”

“You could try me,” suggested Twilight

“Sure, I’ll try. We need to go… faster than fast.”

“Faster than fast. What does that even mean? It’s just a tautology.”

“I… I don’t have better words to describe it. Let’s try again, and I’ll see if I can show you.”

“Very well,” grinned Twilight. “You’re the boss.”

“Boss? Come on, I’m Ms. Blue Sky herself! Point your muzzle down, and let’s get some more speed flying in!”

They were soon reaching the point where streaks of red started to accompany them regularly with each plunge, which Twilight took as a sign of progress towards granting her friend’s wish. But with the progress came dangers, as when one miscalculated move, combined with the movements of a careless Pegasus spectator who flew into the airspace, caused Twilight to stop abruptly, sending a burst of undirected energy out which puttered into a static discharge that sent lights flashing into the nearby clouds. Fortunately, the other Pegasi on those clouds were experienced and took it all in stride.

And the next attempt ended with them rolling out of control in a ball like a purple and blue meteor, with Twilight at last slamming a sphere of force into the ground to save them both from a rough impact.

“Twi, I think you’re trying too hard and not hard enough,” said Dash, after they’d taken a break to eat and drink–with both of them devouring more funnel cake than they should have–and gotten airborne again.

“Thank you, Captain Paradox,” said Twilight dryly. “Let’s win by losing! Let me pull you close by pushing you away. Let’s have more Neighponese contradiction wisdom, and yet less of it!”

“Well, if you’re gonna be snarky about it, I’ll just go find some other Alicorn to grant my wish, and then her name will go on the research paper instead of yours.”

Twilight stuck her tongue out at Rainbow Dash. “I’m a coauthor at this point, no matter what you do. But I’m listening. Please try to explain again.”

“Well, I kinda don’t know. I just have a feeling, that it’s like… Oh, for Luna’s sake, you’re gonna buck me right off your back, but it’s like it’s one thing but two things. I know, I know. Let’s start with the little thing I noticed, and we can take it from there. First, there’s a timing thing, but it’s not really a timing thing, so let me show you.” Her wings spread out over Twilight’s wings, silken and tickly, and fluttered rapidly, with periodic beats of hesitation. “Feel that?”

Twilight closed her eyes and focused on the sensation. “Hold on… I think you’re right. It’s not the timing of the wingbeats directly, but a second order effect. More like the timing of the timing!”

“I’m gonna trust that those are the right words for it. Now, can you do that as I’m doing it?”

“I’m trying, but there’s still some an interference, throwing things off… Oh. Oh dear.” Twilight frowned. “It’s the safety field I put on you. It’s redirecting the flow of magic near my wings.”

“Huh.” Dash scratched her head. “Well, just remove it, Twi. I’m not going anywhere.”

“If I remove it, I am not going anywhere. If you get separated from me in flight, you could get seriously hurt, or killed.”

Dash pulled in enough air for a shout, but spoke quietly. “Yeah, Twi, I know. And this is kinda like the part where in the Daring Do novels, they talk about how much better it is to die on your feet running than to drift quietly away in bed. But, look, let’s be practical about this. You’re trying too hard to keep me glued to you, which is making you not try hard enough to make a Rainboom for me. And I am telling you that it will be okay, just as AyJay told you when you were hanging over that cliff in the Everfree. I was there, under you, and I didn’t let you down. You can’t have the right feeling the way you’re going, so drop it and let’s get a new feeling!”

Twilight looked out through the sky, past the crowds and clouds, to where the sun was descending to the far off mountains, as yet untouched by Celestia’s guidance. Night was coming, and winter was coming, and the good things of the world always went away.

“Rainbow… I won’t let you down. Not for anything.”

“I know, Twilight. I’ve got your back, right now, Flying Buddy. And if you pull this off, I always will. Come on, drop it and let’s do this!”

Celestia was certainly taking her time about lowering the sun. Twilight sighed.

“Hold on tight, Dash.”

She dispelled the field, and pulled in her wings, and dropped, snapping her wings forth again when she and Dash were aimed at the heart of the world below them. She flew madly through the air, Dash’s wings stroking alongside hers. Under the hesitation and the the sparring, beyond the twist and turnings that life could place to drive two friends far away, there was a deeper feeling, and Twilight now held to it; a deep trust still between her and Rainbow Dash, forged in fires of friendship that went way back, to that time in their youth when one was striving to save a friend, and the other was striving to hatch a friend yet unknown, and their yearnings sang through the world to be answered by a mystical bond, a ring that fused the arcs of their lives with four others, entwining their destinies forever.

Or as long as they all would live.

And this time, the change in the wingbeats made the off-vibrations cancel out, and there was just the smoothness and sweetness of the air blasting through Twilight’s mane and the pounding of Dash’s heart against her back. Her wings scooped the air in perfect timing with Dash’s wings, iridescent blue and purple flashing one besides the other. The ground zoomed towards them like a green wall that stretched out forever and finally there was no noise anymore because the air was going by too quickly and it was hard to breathe, but she pushed it and the exhilaration and love washed through her and reached her horn at its point, and Twilight knew that nothing could go faster than they were going, but she pushed the feeling out anyway, making a beacon of her inner heart, pushing it even faster than fast, and as it reached the air before them there was a pop, and then a surge. Thereafter, it was the feeling that drew them forwards, faster than fast, and there was too much love and friendship and trust to hold inside, too much heart for the mightiest breast to conceal, and the air shook like thunder as it all rolled out around them, to share and spread that feeling over the whole world.

For the first time in twenty-eight years, a Sonic Rainboom rolled across the skies of Equestria.

And for the first time in her life, Twilight Sparkle was the fastest thing in the sky.

The green wall of the earth shimmered as it shone with the spreading wave of colors that rolled through the sky and over Ponyville and out towards Canterlot, with a thunderous noise as if the world had given voice to speak its love to every living thing. Spike roared with delight as the delicious light washed over him and set his scales sparkling, and he blew an exultant gust of flame into the sky that wove its way in harmony through the expanding glow. The Pegasi around all shrieked with joy as they were rolled along with the skywave, darting through it and within it, adding their own patterns to the burst of beauty, and these swirling trails radiated out with it, flowing through the clouds. On the ground, the Earth ponies stamped and shouted and the Unicorns sent spiraling bursts of light into the sky as harmony rippled through the world in beautiful waves.

As the world exulted around her, Twilight was shouting and weeping in joy and could only feel by vibration that Dash was cheering and whooping behind her. She banked and looped around the town, leaving a rainbow trail between the spires and around her castle, seeing the beautiful shimmering from the corners of her eyes as everything flashed by.

Twilight eventually landed back at their starting point, but she still bucked and bounced about with wing assisted leaps as she worked through her excitement and bounced with the cheers of the assembled citizens. Even when she reached a standstill, she was prancing her legs alternately in sheer glee. “We did it! We did it!” she cried happily. All it had needed was persistence, and smarts, and experience, and a bit of luck…

And the love of a dear friend.

“I pronounce this wish to be granted! How was that, Rainbow Dash?” Twilight said, turning to look over her shoulder. “Was that awesome or what?”

Rainbow Dash was lying sprawled on Twilight’s back, her hooves dangling and eyes half closed, wings draped down over Twilight’s sides. Her eyes were half-lidded, staring off at nothing in particular, and she was wearing a small smile, a smile that could last through forever.

Twilight’s blood froze. She strained to feel Dash’s heartbeat through her back. “Rainbow Dash?”

Dash yawned, blinked and smiled up at Twilight. “Thought I was already gone, didn’t ya?” she croaked. “As if. That was completely, amazingly bucking awesome, Twilight. You really came through, Flying Buddy.”

And then, as blithely as if she were grabbing a quick nap in an apple tree, she went to sleep.
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#1 · 1
The first thing I have to ask myself is what genre is this?

At the beginning, it tries to pull off humor and/or randomness, which would throw off a lot of incomers who are attempting to form a first impression as to what the story actually is. For the overall story, I wouldn't consider it a slice of life because this wouldn't fall under what I'd consider a day to day representation of what Equestria would be like. It tries more on to focus on excitement, which isn't what's found in a slice of life story. However, I wouldn't consider this an adventure story either because the story focuses too much on the relationship between the two. But, I wouldn't consider it a romance story either because really, all the two are doing are bonding.

So, the entire story, to me, would just fall under bonding. That's not really much of an interesting genre tag to put your story under. For me, at least. You could probably say it's a slice of life, maybe, if you really stretch it's definition.

Secondly, I don't understand why Twilight is portrayed as the always unconfident, doesn't know anything padawon while Rainbow Dash is her know-everything Jedi teacher. Twilight has a lot more confidence in her say of things from episode one, while Rainbow Dash isn't a talker. For this story, you've bumped Twilight's charisma and intelligence down to maybe around three while upping Rainbow's charisma to ten. That's pretty insane.

Thirdly, while this is probably just me, I don't really like a lot of fluff in my stories. This story is nothing but fluff, though. So much in fact that I could make a separate bed made purely of fluff from how much you provide. I lost interest more than once while reading the story, as the entire experience doens't really build up on immersing the reader. If you want to have a story that revolves around the adventure and excitement that Twilight finds with Rainbow's teachings, focus on that and skip the rest. If you want to focus on their bonding, focus on their interactions and skip the rest. You can't do absolutely everything with your story, it can not be absolutely perfect in every single way imaginable. Once you start attempting to make it perfect in every way possible, you do yourself more harm than good. Pick a feeling that you want to give to the reader and focus on that for when you write or you'll be conflicted for the entire process of making your story.
#2 · 1
The ending was a good twist, I'll give it that.
#3 ·
· · >>Posh >>horizon
I do like stories about Rainbow Dash teaching others how to do the Sonic Rainboom.

That being said... I feel like this story is missing something important, which is a proper engagement curve.

This story is at its heart a fluff piece, and I get that. However, being a fluff piece doesn't free you from the universal engagement curve. This story just isn't that engaging for a great deal of its length; a lot of it is talking about the little things that Twilight is doing wrong, but unfortunately, that just isn't tremendously engaging for most of it. And indeed, even before that point, the introduction doesn't really do anything that exciting. There's several good points - Rainbow Dash being brought in, as well as the lead-up to the final successful run, and then the ending - but the rest of the story doesn't feel like it is pulling its weight.

Side note:

Expostulating is a word that Twilight might use, and I recognized it, but I suspect a lot of people wouldn't. I would recommend using a more common word.

I'm also guessing from some of the features of this story that the writer doesn't speak English as a first language, so I'd recommend have an editor go over this with an eye for some awkward sentence structure.
#4 · 4
· · >>shinygiratinaz >>Fenton
“Thank you, Captain Paradox,” said Twilight dryly. “Let’s win by losing! Let me pull you close by pushing you away. Let’s have more Neighponese contradiction wisdom, and yet less of it!”

This is the best thing I've read in any one of the entries so far. Also, depending on your interpretation, Twilight may be coming on to Dashie.

Parts of this in the middle feel rushed. I know that we're dealing with Rainbow Dash here, but c'mon, stop and smell the roses a little bit. The shift from the relatively slow-moving introduction to the more fast-paced middle is abrupt, and it isn't helped by how long and overwritten some of those big-ass paragraphs are.

Unlike the esteemed >>TitaniumDragon, I didn't get the sense that this was written by someone whose first language isn't English (that may very well be the case, but if it is, then I didn't get that impression. The prose is pretty tight, for the most part. I think the awkwardness of some of these sentences can be better attributed to writing this thing in a rush, which I am sympathetic to.

Overall, it's a very well done character piece where the focus is squarely on two super best friends being super best friends. And in a great subversion, no one dies. Although I might have laughed had Dashie died and Twilight sighed and said "too bad there's no such thing as heaven."
#5 · 1
· · >>Posh >>Fenton
Maybe I'm a terrible person but I really hope the "there's no such thing as heaven" line drop keeps being a recurring joke. :rainbowlaugh:

I didn't really mind the pacing change in the story, though I also am generally not as attuned to such things so that might be why. Overall I think this was a nice fluff piece, and I enjoyed reading it. That ending nearly fooled me. :twilightsheepish:

Edit- Forgot to mention, my favorite part of this story was your description of what a Rainboom actually is. The idea that it's actually the willpower of the flier physically manifested is pretty neat, and I haven't seen it before.
#6 · 1
>>shinygiratinaz Watch, one day it's gonna be the premise of a Science Heaven origin story, where Twilight realizes that there's no afterlife and invents Science Heaven after suffering a nervous breakdown.
#7 · 1
That's a nice fluff story we have here. I wasn't really deeply engaged but enough to be worry at the ending.

Aside from all the points that were already raised and with which I agree for the most part, I find the beginning too telly, mainly the parts about Spike being older and Rainbow Dash being really old. I understand that you probably wanted to go directly to the core of your story and I wasn't really annoyed by this but I think it could be improved a bit.

I should be mad at you too but I've laughed way too hard for that.
#8 · 1
The core of the story is very cute and fun. A last wish for a best friend. Even the success at the last moment to actually make me concerned that it was going to have a tragic ending (these Writeoffs make me expect the worst for some reason).

I also really enjoyed how Dash is trying to convey an instinctual thing to the overly analytical Twilight. It's a perfect combination of the two characters, something we've seen done before and it's usually very successful. In the end, it had to come down to trust. Actions, not words.

That being said, the presentation needs some serious work. There are far too many places where you are telling, not showing. Setting the initial scene was a major hangup here, as you've got a few paragraphs that have one sentence of action and then another three-four of exposition. And yet, there were places where there needed to be more exposition. Using the term "First Circle" multiple times makes me think that there's a second circle. Why not show them? Why not have one or two of them show up during the opening? It would be a more effective way to demonstrate the passing of time without stopping the story to go "Okay, so here's what went down."

I really thought the "Oh, the problem is actually what's keeping you safe!" was going to be a terrible setup to an accident. I'm very glad I was wrong about that.

The other thing was... I didn't get a sense of age from Dash. These feels very much like Season 1-2 Rainbow Dash as opposed to the more mature (usually) one we see in later seasons. If this Dash had taught at the Academy, gone through everything they'd gone through... I just felt she should have sounded different. It's really hard to pin down for me and I think that's a real delicate balance to get. So I may just be being nitpicky.

There's also a few large paragraphs that need to be broken down. Mainly in places that should be action scenes. White space is an important narrative tool, as it tends to allow the reader to move quicker through the text instead of making it feel like a slog. By breaking them up, you'll help the reader get the drive and speed you need in this story.

The core of a great and fun story is here. You just need to polish it up and sand off some rough edges!

Oh and by the way, even after the ending, I still wasn't sure if we had the happy/sad ending or just a happy ending. Jerk. Playing it out like that. (As if you could do it any other way. Still! :P )
#9 · 1
I like this. That said, I think it has a bit of a pacing issue. While the heart is there and the interactions are good, I still found myself losing focus every now and then just because this is a decently long story for a fairly short concept.

That said, I don't really have an immediate suggestion for what to actually do, but I would just suggest tightening it up a bit. Cut some words. Really hone in on that heart you have in there, because it is a really, really good heart.
#10 ·
Night was coming, and winter was coming, and the good things of the world always went away.

This is an achingly beautiful line, even out of context.

The story around it is solid, too. It certainly accomplishes its narrative goals. I just wish that it had engaged me more. >>TitaniumDragon's third paragraph hits uncomfortably close to my reading experience: uncomfortable because I can't be sure how much of that is my general indifference toward the fluff/feels/Slice of Life genre this occupies.

I guess how I feel about this is that it's ... safe? It's a well-told story, but it puts that prose skill into something that points at a destination and then walks toward it in a slow, straight line. The characterization is great, and I do like what flashes of worldbuilding we're shown, but I never felt convinced that the outcome was in doubt, and that takes a lot of the wind out of my enthusiasm sails.

Contrast this with something like Putri Jaran -- similarly strong of prose, and similarly predictable in its arc (It's about pony imperialism! The empire is jerks! Imperialism is bad!) but at least giving us a travelogue of something entirely removed from the show. All other things being equal, the extra risks that story took in rolling its own setting was enough to catapult it most of the way up my slate. Plus, even though "imperialism is bad" is an awfully thin theme, at least that felt like it was trying to be about a theme, as opposed to this one trying to tell us ... what? Sticking by your friends is good? In original fiction, I could spot you that, but this is a pony story, and that's something baked into the setting as much as the protagonists having hooves.

Finally, this feels like a "submitted at the deadline" ending. No shame in that, this is the Writeoffs, but I do have to factor that into my scoring, and I hope that you're making this less abrupt in its edited incarnation.

Tier: Strong