It was a perfect day in Ponyville. The sun was out, with only a few white clouds dotting the sky. Twilight Sparkle was out taking a walk, with Spike riding on her back. As they approached the center of town, they saw a large crowd of ponies gathered around in one spot.
“I wonder what’s going on,” Twilight said, before heading over there herself.
As she got closer, she noticed that Pinkie, Rarity, Applejack, and Rainbow Dash were among the crowd. And now that she was closer, Twilight could see that they were all gathered around a dark colored stallion. He stood about a hoof taller than Celestia, with a large black horn on his head. His mane and tail were colored a light green color, and his flank had the cutie mark of a magic lamp.
“Hey there, sugarcube,” Applejack greeted, when she saw Twilight approach.
“Hi, everyone,” Twilight answered. “What’s going on?”
“Nobody knows,” Pinkie answered enthusiastically, bouncing around a bit. “He just said he had a message he wanted all of us to hear. Ooh, this is so exiting.”
“Citizens of Ponyville,” the dark stallion said. “I am known as Dark Genie, and I offer you gifts. Anything you want, any wish you may have, I can grant. But only one.”
This started to draw murmurs from the crowd, some exited, others disbelieving. Twilight was instantly suspicious of his intentions, though Rarity and Rainbow Dash seemed to be getting exited at the possibilities.
“Any wish? Does that mean…” Rainbow Dash started, getting more exited with each word, and her eyes twinkling. “I can join the Wonderbolts?”
“I could have a lot of gems, the most beautiful gems to ever grace my dresses. With enough, I could even expand my business and have enough for the material to offer the most stunning dresses ever seen,” Rarity mentioned.
“Of course, if you do git diamonds, make sure they're not just worthless rocks first,” Applejack teased, earning herself a death glare.
“However,” Dark Genie continued, cutting into their thoughts. “These gifts will not come without a price. The thing you treasure most will be the payment I will take. And remember, you all have only one wish, so choose wisely. I will have a temporary residence for myself set up tomorrow, and you can come then.”
As he turned to walk off, someone asked, “Can you give us a demonstration, to make sure we know you can back your claim?”
He turned back and asked, “Can you make a small wish? This one’s for free.”
“How about a bag full of bits,” the other pony asked.
“Very well,” Dark Genie answered.
His horn started to sparkle, and magical energy seemed to wrap itself around the horn, coming together at the tip. Before the crowd, a burlap sack appeared out of nothing, and the magic in the horn faded. The crowd moved closer to the sack, as one of them opened it to find it was full of shiny gold bits. The pony took one out and bit on it experimentally, finding it to be real.
As the crowd dispersed, amazed at what they saw, Twilight walked back towards home, her mind on what she just witnessed.
“So, what do you think?” Spike asked her.
“I’m not sure what to think. I can make things appear out of thin air to a very limited degree, but I can’t make a large bag of bits appear like that. That’s some heavy duty magic, way beyond my current skills,” Twilight answered, then noticed Spike was looking back towards Rarity. “But I think I can guess what you’d wish for, Romeo.”
“And you’d probably be right,” he answered, getting a dreamy look on his face.
The next day, there was a domed home that appeared on the outskirts of Ponyville. A line of ponies started to form early that morning, just as Rainbow Dash and her crew were clearing up the sky for the day. When her crew finished up the weather changes, Rainbow Dash took one look at the line and thought that she should wait until more ponies are finished. Instead, she flew around town a bit. As she flew by Fluttershy's home, she noticed Fluttershy in her yard.
"Now eat this carrot all up, and remember not to eat it too fast," Rainbow Dash heard Flutershy tell her rabbit, Angel, as she came down.
“Hi, Fluttershy,” Rainbow Dash said, as she landed. “Hear what’s going on in Ponyville?”
“Oh…hi, Rainbow Dash,” Fluttershy answered, as she turned away from feeding some of the animals. “No, I haven’t. Is Pinkie Pie having another surprise party for a new pony?”
“No, though I don’t think the new stallion would be interested in getting a Pinkie Pie Party anyway,” Rainbow Dash answered, laughing at the thought. Then she filled Fluttershy in on the offer Dark Genie made.
“That…sounds nice,” was all Fluttershy had to say. “But I don’t think I’ll be seeing him.”
“Really? There’s nothing you really want?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“There’s nothing I need. I have a home, my animals, and good friends like you. What more can a mare ask for?” she answered her.
“Well, okay. But if you change your mind, he’ll be in town for a couple more days,” Rainbow Dash replied, before flying away.
Fluttershy just nodded, as she continued what she was doing.
As Rainbow Dash headed back to town, she noticed that the line was a lot shorter than it was earlier that day. Thinking that this was a good of time as any, she fluttered down to land at the end of the line. Things went quickly. No more than 15 minutes past with each pony, and she watched as each one carried out what they always dreamed of having. But then, something unusual happened.
The young filly in front of Rainbow Dash stepped inside, and she was in there longer than any of the previous ponies in front of her. And when she finally walked out, she had tears in her eyes. Before Rainbow Dash could ask any questions, she ran off. Rainbow Dash barely had any time to wonder what happened before she was called in.
The dome wasn’t all that big on the outside, and inside was even smaller, with just a bed and a kitchen as furnishings. There was a door that Rainbow Dash thought might lead to more rooms, and a stairway that probably led to a basement. Dark Genie himself was standing at the opposite end of the room.
“Well, what is it that you wish, young one?” he asked.
Rainbow Dash stood her ground, as she looked up at the large unicorn in front of her. After a deep breath, she said, “I wish to be a member of the Wonderbolts.”
“Very well. It will be done,” Dark Genie replied.
He closed his eyes, as the magic wrapped around his horn again. Rainbow Dash felt herself lifted up, as black magic swirled around her body, soon obscuring her vision. Her body started to tingle, as a Wonderbolts uniform started to appear on her body, starting at the hooves and going up. As it passed her eyes, she gained a pair of goggles as well.
As it all faded, Rainbow Dash looked over her new uniform. Her ankles had bolts going across them, as well as a large bolt going down her chest. On her flank was the bolt symbol, but her bolt was rainbow in color.
“This is awesome!” she cried. “Best. Day. Ever.”
“The Wonderbolts will think of you as a new member. They will contact you soon about practice times and performances. Enjoy,” Dark Genie told her.
"No, no, no. Why can I never find the right book?” Twilight complained, mostly to herself, as she searched through the library.
“If you would organize this place more often, you wouldn’t have this problem every time,” Spike answered, before getting a book to the face.
“Stop complaining and keep…wait, here we go.” Twilight replied, finding the one she was searching for. “Finally.”
She brought it over to her reading table, flipped the pages magically to find the right one, and started reading.
“Dark Genie is a stallion that says he grants wishes, but he is nothing more than a notorious…” was all Twilight was able to read.
Rainbow Dash was flying through the air. She knew that she should probably head home, but couldn’t resist showing off her new costume a bit. So she flew low over Ponyville, as ponies looked up and saw her. Her rainbow mane and tail gave away her identity, but the people could tell that her costume was genuine, and were happy she fulfilled her lifelong dream.
When she was done showing off, she noticed that she was near the library, and decided to show her the new uniform to Twilight. But when she walked in, she found that the place was empty. Rainbow Dash knew that Twilight usually reserves this time for studying, so it was strange not to see her at home.
“Twilight? Spike? You home?” she called out.
After looking around everywhere, and only an empty library greeting her, she decided that they were both out somewhere. As she turned to leave, the open book, and the illustration of Dark Genie, caught her eye. Curious, she stepped over to read what it said.
Dark Genie is a stallion that says he grants wishes, but he is nothing more than a notorious con man. He grants people wishes, and all he asks in return are whatever the recipient treasures the most. This can be anything: sentimental items, great riches, or even…
“Family and friends!” Rainbow Dash called out, when she read that part.
He stays in any one town for only a few days, and when he leaves, the wishes people make will fade, while he keeps whatever he collects. People’s sentimental items have no value to him, but the riches are kept by him, and anyone living will be kept as slaves back at wherever he lives. His location is currently unknown.
“Nobody messes with my friends and gets away with it," she declared, sliding her new goggles over her eyes. “It. Is. ON!”
“I’m sorry, but that’s all the wishes I can grant for you today,” Dark Genie mentioned to the line of ponies that were still in front of his place that evening. “I will be glad to start granting more wishes tomorrow, however.”
As the ponies started to leave for their homes, some grumbling a bit, Dark Genie happened to look up and saw one pony approach from the air. Though she was still too far away to see the details, the Wonderbolt costume and rainbow streak gave her away. Acting natural, he stepped back inside his place as she approached.
Rainbow Dash arrived at Dark Genie’s place. While she was understandably upset, she also knew that knocking on the front door was probably the wrong approach. So she flew around and tested the windows, finding one of them to be unlocked.
Slipping inside, she found that there were piles of items. Some looked to be valuable, others just sentimental. But one thing in particular caught her eye.
“A Cutie Mark Crusader cape,” she mentioned to herself. “Applejack won’t be happy when she finds out her sister was probably here.”
After finding nothing else of interest, she glanced outside and saw it was empty. It was a small hallway to two other rooms. One looked to be a bathroom of some kind, but the other at the end of the hall opened to Dark Genie’s living area, where she was before. And she saw Dark Genie sitting behind the desk, as if he was waiting for something. His eyes were on the front door, and turned away from her.
As she crept closer, his horn suddenly gave a quick flash, and Rainbow Dash ducked behind the door frame, hoping that she wasn’t noticed.
“I know she’s here,” Dark Genie said, as if he was talking to his horn. “Okay, Rainbow Dash, I know you’re there. You can come out now.”
After some hesitation, Rainbow Dash stepped out from behind the door frame. Despite being nervous about facing him alone, she stood tall before him.
“I’ve come for my friends,” she announced.
Dark Genie looked down at the young pegasus a moment, who stood at about half his height, and laughed out loud. To him, it seemed preposterous that she could do anything to him, with all his magical power.
“So you think you can beat me and release your friends? What makes you think little young you can take me on alone?” he asked.
“Because she’s not alone!” a voice called out from behind him.
Dark Genie whirled around, as Rainbow Dash bent to the left a little to see past him. Standing there in a line were her friends, all free and ready to take him on (except Fluttershy, who just looked nervous). Rainbow Dash rushed past Dark Genie while he was distracted to join them.
“Impossible! How did you escape?” Dark Genie roared.
“Simple. You made your cell strong, and the magic cancel charm was a nice touch. But you forgot to make sure a baby dragon couldn’t slip through the bars,” Twilight declared. "Spike was able to slop outy and get the keys.
“Well, no matter. I can defeat all of you. Then there will be nobody to stand in the way of my riches,” he declared, rearing up and coming down on the ground. That delivered a shockwave through the ground, knocking four of them off their hooves. Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy were able to avoid it.
“You need to cool down,” Rainbow Dash declared, flying out and returning seconds later with a rain cloud. With a great kick, it hit Dark Genie with a ton of lightning and rain. By then, the others were back on their feet.
“Here’s a taste of what I can do,” Twilight called out, firing a ray of purple energy right at him.
As the cloud lost steam and dissipated, and the magic ray lost its charge, they could see that Dark Genie was unharmed, and stood as powerful as ever. He laughed at the ponies gathered around him.
“Did you really think that your silly parlor tricks and weather manipulation was actually going to defeat me? I’m more powerful that you can ever be. But enough talk, it’s time to finish you.”
Rainbow Dash fluttered near Twilight Sparkle, as Dark Genie’s eyes glowed, and he began charging up a powerful attack. Twilight prepared to block with every ounce of magic her young body contained, but wasn't sure how much she could do against it.
“Tell me the elements are coming,” Rainbow Dash whispered.
“I had Spike send a letter to Princess Celestia, asking her to send the Elements. They should appear…” Twilight answered, and her voice trailed off as she heard the sound of something appearing right above her head. “…right about now!”
Rainbow Dash quickly flew up to grab the chest before Dark Genie could try anything. He noticed the chest appearing, and actually stopped charging his attack. He knew what the small box contained, and what it could mean for him.
“You know, Rainbow Dash,” Dark Genie told her, sounding somewhat reasonable. “My gifts are usually temporary, but I do have the power to make them permanent, if I choose. And if you give me the box, I can make your entry into the Wonderbolts be forever.”
Rainbow Dash’s mind raced faster than a sonic rainboom at his words, and he quickly came to the conclusion that was no surprise to her or anyone else: She would not give him that box. Dark Genie expected this, and had another card to play.
“But you want to stay loyal to your new team, do you not?” Dark Genie continued, playing upon the loyalty that defined her.
That sentence struck a chord with her, as her eyes went to the chest in her hooves, to Dark Genie, and back to the chest. She racked her mind to come up with a possible solution. If she went with her friends, she would be betraying the Wonderbolts, and her lifelong dream. But going with the Wonderbolts would mean betraying the best friends she ever had. And she had no guarantee that Dark Genie would keep his end of the deal.
She could hear Twilight yelling something to her. But her voice sounded soft, like she was yelling it from a long distance, and Rainbow Dash couldn‘t tell what she was trying to tell her. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Fluttershy flying towards her. But her hooves were suddenly changed into lead weights, forcing her back to the ground. After a couple of minutes, she made her decision.
“Okay, you can have the box,” she told Dark Genie.
As Dark Genie smiled at Rainbow Dash’s words, the other five exchanged glances of surprise mixed with worry. Would the most loyal member of their group really betray them? That changed when Rainbow Dash matched Dark Genie with a smile of her own.
“That is, I’ll give you the box after we get our elements,” she continued, pulling out the Element of Loyalty and putting it on. “Everyone, catch.”
With a healthy toss, four necklaces and one tiara flew towards her friends. The elements seemed to move on their own once they got close to their bearers, each one finding the correct neck or head. After tossing the box towards Dark Genie, who knocked it away with his horn, she joined the rest if the group. Fluttershy had a bit of trouble trying to move with the lead weights her hooves have become, but was able to get into place.
“Okay, girls, let’s do this,” Twilight Sparkle told them.
As they each powered up their respective element, Dark Genie powered up a spell of his own. Twilight watched as he fed more power into it. As she figured out the destructive power of what he was doing, she knew that they had to change tactics.
“EVERYONE, SCATTER!” she yelled, as they all went in a different direction.
Fluttershy tripped over her own lead hooves. Applejack saw her trip and ran back to pull her out of the way. And just in time, as Dark Genie fired his spell, leaving a good size crater where the 6 ponies were standing moments before.
“I’m bored,” Spike said to himself, as he sat alone in the basement, tossing loose rocks in front of him.
After he slipped through the bars and got the keys to help the others escape, Twilight told him to send Princess Celestia a letter to get the Elements of Harmony, and then stay in the basement until somepony came down to get him. It seemed to be the safest place for him to wait at the time, but also the most boring. He looked around at the empty cells around him, which seemed to make it even more boring. There was nopony to talk to, nopony he could help…
“EVERYONE, SCATTER!” he heard Twilight yell from the floor above.
Spike whirled around to look at the open doorway at the top of the stairs. He saw Rarity run past the doorway, jumping to barely avoid a dark energy blast thrown in her direction. Spike’s anger bristled when he saw his darling Rarity being threatened by anything, but with it came a new feeling. Courage.
Hang on, Rarity. I’m coming to help.
“We all need ah distraction. We can’t right power up the elements while dodging his attacks.” Applejack mentioned, ducking to avoid a blast that went in her direction
Rainbow Dash looked around for a method, when she saw Spike coming up the stairs, looking determined. Suddenly, as if a light bulb had turned on in her head, an idea came to her.
“Hey, Spike! I think I saw some turquoise gems in a room over there,” she called out, pointing towards the other room.
“Turquoise?” Spike answered, his mouth watering.
Forgetting why he came upstairs, his mind now on the gems he was interested in munching, he ran as fast as his little legs could carry him towards the room. Dark Genie saw him, and broke off his attack on the others to teleport himself to stand between Spike and the doorway, pointing his horn at the young dragon. Spike’s bravado seemed to fade, as the dark stallion’s stare was enough to get him frightened.
“Rainbow Dash…” Twilight started.
Rainbow Dash cut her off to tell her, “You have your distraction. Yell at me later.”
Twilight sighed and shook her head, but didn’t press the issue.
“Everyone, form up,” she told the others again.
They all got into position, and started powering up their elements. Dark Genie had Spike cornered, his sharp black horn getting dangerously close to Spike’s body, as they started to activate.
And the spark of Friendship bringing them all together.
Their power engulfed the six ponies in a glowing ball of light, as Twilight opened her eyes to reveal they have gone completely white. The glow caught Dark Genie’s attention, and he turned to see what they were doing.
From the six ponies, a rainbow shot up into the air and arched down towards Dark Genie. He watched in horror, as he saw the rainbow come right at him, striking him square in the back, engulfing him in the rainbow of colors.
“No…NOOOOOOOoooo…” was all that they heard from him, before there was a bright flash, and Dark Genie was now nowhere to be seen.
“Wut happened to the varmit?” Applejack asked.
“I’m not su…Oh, no you don’t, Spike!” Twilight said, breaking off her answer as she saw Spike going for the doorway, and teleported Spike back to her side. “If there are any gems in there, they’re not yours to eat.”
“But Twili…” Spike started.
“No buts, they aren’t yours,” she scolded.
As Rainbow Dash watched the whole exchange, she felt her entire body tingle, as her Wonderbolt costume started to fade. As it faded, the weights that Fluttershy hooves were changed into were also going back to normal, as the spells wore off.
“I guess that’s it for my short time with the Wonderbolts,” Rainbow dash mentioned, with a touch of sorrow.
“Rainbow Dash, I’m sorry if we got in the way of you being able to be…” Fluttershy started.
“Fluttershy, I’m going to have none of that. You have nothing to be sorry for. Sure, it would be great if I could get a permanent spot with them. But you, and everypony standing here, you’re more important to me than any achievement and award I could get. And I know you’ll still be with me, no matter what happens in my life,” she answered.
Dear Princess Celestia,
While there’s nothing wrong with having goals, and finding different ways to get to those goals, no method should force you to give up your friends. Even if you do reach your goals, things will be empty without friends to be with you. And if you aren’t able to reach them that time, friends are always there to help pick you up and encourage you to try again. They are the greatest treasure anypony can have, and one that nopony should be without.
Your most loyal subject