If the Rainbow Dash of two years ago had ever seen the Rainbow Dash of today, she would have wedgied the poor mare so hard her eyes bugged out. They had a reputation to maintain, one which was certainly not helped by her doing the unthinkable: reading. Cool ponies didn't sit around in their cloud house reading books; they climbed mountains or punched killer whales or flirted with pretty mares in bars. ...Although now that she thought of it, maybe that wasn't the cool mares doing that last one. Still, though, she'd never heard of some great sportspony reading the latest pulp fiction book in between shooting hoops or whatever.
Yet that was exactly what Rainbow Dash loved to do. And having gotten into it, she thought that maybe it was the cool ponies that were wrong.
Books were full of all the adventures Rainbow Dash craved. When it was too late in the day to practice her aerobatics or too cold to go swimming, there was nothing more exciting in her mind than nestling down into her comforter, cracking open Daring Do and the Blah de Blah, and finding out what Daring would get up to next. She was the perfect adventurer to Rainbow: quick, nimble, clever, strong, and a perfect showmare. She could break into any ancient temple, swipe all the loot, and be out before Ahuizotl caught wind of her.
...Well, usually. It seemed A. K. Yearling (the secret identity of the real-life Daring Do) had decided to mix up the formula recently, as her fictional counterpart was currently getting the crap kicked out of her by her new arch-rival, the griffon Baron von Klubbs. Yearling had really pulled out the stops with him. He was vicious and power-hungry and far smarter than he had any right to be. Ahuizotl had been tricky, sure, but he was kind of a moron. The Baron, though… he was always one step ahead. For the first time since starting this series, Rainbow Dash wasn't sure where the story would go.
It was at the end of a chapter that tragedy struck. She got a little too eager reading the events and turned a page a bit too quickly. The next page ripped in half! So much in shock was she that she didn't notice the wind rip through and snatch the torn half from her hoof until it was already fluttering away in the late-night breeze. Stunned, Rainbow could only look at what remained her book. “'The Baron grinned and extended his talons in a wide gesture. “The truth, Daring Do? The truth is--”' and the rest is gone?! Really?!” What kind of paper tore right before a major spoiler? Did the universe have no decency? “Ugh! I wish I could see what happens next!”
“The truth, Daring Do?”
“Waaah!” Rainbow Dash collapsed backwards onto her bed as Baron von Klubbs appeared right in her bedroom. Daring Do was right underneath him, just like the book had described.
“The truth,” he continued, “is that I ordered the circus to leave, just on the day you intended to visit it! Mwahahahaha!”
“You're a sick freak, Klubbs,” the Daring Do figure underneath him replied. “I needed to meet with the strongman and figure out the answer to the Riddle of the Androsphinx!”
“I'm afraid you won't be solving it now! And if you don't, your life will be forfeit!”
“Noooo!” This line came from Rainbow Dash. She rushed next to Daring Do and grabbed her in a protective hug. “You can't die, Daring Do! You have to solve the riddle!”
“...Geez, calm down, will ya? Of course I'm going to solve the riddle.”
“...Huh?” Rainbow Dash looked at Daring Do. She didn't seem very upset, for having just learned that her life would be forfeit to the Androsphinx for not solving his riddle.
“Look, you said you wanted to see how that chapter ended, right? Well, do you wanna see it, or are you gonna keep flipping out every time something shocking happens? Because spoilers: we're at the end of a chapter. A lot of shocking stuff is gonna happen.”
“O-oh. Okay.” Now suitably cowed, Rainbow returned to the bed.
“Right, where were we?” asked the Baron.
“You just gave your line about my life being forfeit, so it's my line with--”
“Wait a minute! What's going on here? Where did you guys come from?”
The Baron sighed. “I thought you weren't going to interrupt.”
“I know, I know, but you guys just, like, showed up. What gives?”
Daring Do rolled her eyes and tried to explain. “We're your… imagination made manifest, or something like that. We bring your stories to life! (trademark)”
That wording sounded awfully familiar, but Rainbow couldn't place it. “Ah, okay. So you'll tell me how the chapter ends?”
“You've got it. So if you don't mind…?”
“Right, shutting up now.”
The two got back into their positions, and Rainbow watched on as they acted out the rest of the chapter. Daring took a swing at the baron, but he nimbly flapped away on his eagle wings. Daring gave pursuit, but he slipped through one of the windows, and Daring stopped in place. “That part means he gets away,” she commented.
“We could probably act it out better if we had more open space,” she added.
“Well, it's kinda nighttime outside, but--”
“It's nighttime in the scene, now take us there!”
“Okay, okay!” Rainbow reached down and pried open a hole in her cloud floor. “I live right above a big open plain, so--”
Daring dove through the hole before Rainbow had even finished speaking. Rainbow sighed and followed behind her. As they floated towards the ground, the space lit up in low red light, and a massive train station appeared in the valley, complete with railroad driving straight into one of the two mountains. The baron was already waiting in his position, so Daring simply repositioned underneath him, at his mercy like before. This time, the fight was much more epic. They punched and kicked and flew, but this time, a train came screaming through the station, and the Baron latched onto it as it flew by, leaving Daring in the literal dust. The train passed right through the mountain and disappeared into the night.
“Aaaaand scene! How 'bout that?” Daring said with a smirk.
“That. Was. AWESOME!” Rainbow shouted. She flew towards Daring and picked her up in a flying hug/tackle. “I've never seen anything like it!”
“Glad you liked it, kid,” Daring replied. “Thought that scene might appeal to your senses.”
“So… what happens now?” Rainbow asked. “Are you gonna… vanish or something?”
“Do I look like I'm vanishing to you?”
“No… no, you're not!” Rainbow said. “This is great! I can't wait to tell Twilight and the others all about you tomorrow!”
“What's stoppin' ya from telling them right now?” Daring asked.
“...They're asleep. And I really should be, too, come to think of it.”
“Nah, come on. We've got a whole bunch of adventures to get to!”
“No, I need my sleep! I have a big day of cloud-breaking to get to tomorrow, and I'll need to be at my Dashiest!”
“Ugh, fine. Some adventurer you are.”
Rainbow stopped mid-flap. “...Are you calling me chicken?”
“I might be,” Daring replied with a gleam in her eye.
“Nopony calls me chicken! Whatcha got?”
“Well, we could read the next chapter of your book, ooooor…” Daring waggled her eyebrows and grinned.
“You could read something else! Something with action, monsters, and derring-do!”
“Oh, I have plenty of those! I've got all your books.”
“No, derring-do, not-- you know what I mean!”
“Actually, I don't, but--”
“Look, you got any other books, or what?”
“...I've got all your books?” Rainbow said.
Daring Do shook her head. “All right, then let's go find a library. I think I know just the book to read.”
“Should we really be doing this?”
“What? It's an adventure!”
“Hanging upside-down in Twilight's castle to steal her books isn't what I'd call an adventure!”
The two of them were currently suspended in mid-air by Daring's ropes, hanging next to Twilight's collection of fiction. Daring apparently had a book in mind, as she was perusing the titles for the one she was looking for.
“We're in an ancient castle, taking something valuable, trying not to get killed or captured. What part doesn't work for you here?” she asked.
“First, this isn't an ancient castle. It literally sprouted from the ground like a year ago. Second, this is my friend's house, Daring! After hours! We're trespassing!”
“And what do you call going into an ancient tribe's sacred temple, community service? Here, this one.” She threw a heavy-looking book up to Rainbow Dash, who caught it falteringly in her hooves.
Rainbow Dash read the cover. “Xenobeast: Death Knell? Eww, science fiction?” Adventure novels were for cool ponies for her, the kind that might plausibly go on said adventures. But science fiction was for eggheads like Twilight who knew the difference between a pulsar and a parsec, or between a tachyon and a tachyderm. ...Or was it pachyderm? See, this was why she left the egghead stuff to Twilight.
“No, no, this one is good! There's this big monster that chases people, but they trap it in a science lab, and-- hold on, read the start of chapter 3.”
“Uhh… 'The Xenobeast bellowed and charged at them. It stood a foot taller than the scientist ponies, and the horn on its head glowed as it fired bright green laser blasts at them. They didn't stand a chance..' That sounds awesome! I wish I could see it in person!”
As if by magic, it materialized in front of the two of them. (Actually, it probably was magic, come to think of it.) The Xenobeast continued the charge from before, and Rainbow only barely ducked out of the way. It smashed into a bookcase, and the books toppled onto it, stunning it for a brief moment. While it remained dazed, Daring shouted, “All right, let's fight it! Go!”
If you hear a bunch of thuds, yelling, and keening laser blasts coming from downstairs, you should probably either go turn off the TV or curl up in your bed and pray whatever's going on downstairs doesn't find you. But if you're the Princess of Friendship, no such luck; that's basically your alarm clock for the morning. Twilight stumbled down from her bed up on high to find two battered and tired pegasi wrestling what kinda looked like the monster from that terrible sci-fi book series she had definitely never read before. (Besides, Hunterstroyer: Day of Reckoning was much better, although they both had silly names.) She shouted, “What's going on down here?”
The two pegasi immediately looked up and shouted, “Nothing!” Which gave the Xenobeast enough time to run out of the front door, whimpering like a little puppy.
“Get back her—Rainbow Dash? What are you doing in my house before I've woken up?” She looked at the other pegasus and paused. “And… are you supposed to be Daring Do?”
“Yup!” said Rainbow Dash. “Isn't that cool?”
“I thought A.K. Yearling was doing her book tour right now.”
“Then who is...”
“Think of me as an actor, Your Highness,” Daring Do answered for Rainbow Dash.
“I summoned her out of my book with my brain!” Rainbow Dash added. Daring Do slapped her forehead in response.
“You did WHAT?!” Twilight said. “No. Nonononono. You put her back into your brain right now, Rainbow Dash!”
“Ugh, fine, mom.” She looked at Daring Do, then paused. “Uh… actually, I can't.”
“Can't, or won't?” Twilight asked.
“Can't! Like, I don't even know how I made her in the first place! I have no idea how to un-make her!”
“Boo-yah!” Daring pumped a hoof. “That means Daring Do is here to stay!”
“I've got a bad feeling about this...” Twilight replied.