Shift knew that Spitfire wouldn't take to the skies immediately if she wanted to get out of his hair. That made it too easy for him to find and catch up to her. She had to be walking.
He flew up into the skies and became scanning the streets below, trying to find any trace of the yellow pegasus before she managed to get away. He looked in every direction, trying to discern her color and hair through the busy streets below, until... there! He saw her run down a street and then bound around a corner. Just why was she so intent on getting away from him, even after challenging him to a race?
"Hey, Spitfire! Wait!" he shouted, flying down towards the street she just entered. Spitfire gave a look of shock as she noticed him following her, and proceeded to start running faster.
Just what was going on with this mare? One minute she wants to challenge him to a race, and the next she suddenly doesn't want to anywhere near him!
"Hold on!" She rounded another corner into a street that Shift was all too familiar with. It was the scenic route he took to work every morning. The large vista that was up ahead was where he saw her as she bounded over a bridge. He quickly took the initiative and folded his wings in and dived, gaining speed until he was a blur. He flew directly above her, landing with a slide as he turned to look at her.
"Spitfire, wait!" She stopped with a skid and then looked sheepishly at the ground. "I need to ask you something..."
"...what?" She looked at him seriously, trying to play off her nervousness.
"You didn't put an address on this thing." He whipped out the letter for her to see. "We can't deliver mail unless it has a proper sending and return address on it."
"I, uh..." Her voice faded off into an incoherent mumble.
"What? Spitfire, you have to tell me who you're trying to send this to, otherwise it'll end up going into the trash bin!"
"Yeah?" Shift was getting impatient now.
"Oh, alright!" she shouted. "It's for you!"
"For me? Huh--what? What? Why me?" He was absolutely confounded.
"I have a show in Manehattan coming up, and I've stopped by a few times at the post office before, you know, asking about you. Your boss said you've never taken a day off before in your entire career! So I thought I'd surprise you by getting you a VIP ticket to the Wonderbolts show coming up soon! You know, loosen up a little, right?"
"Oh... really?" Shift said, still holding the letter in his mouth. "Oh, uh... thanks, I guess. I really appreciate that. I was thinking of actually going there myself when I had my lunch break in Manehattan," he laughed. "But, wait, why were you trying to run away from me, then?"
"Oh, hay..." she said. "I wanted to tell your boss to give it to you anonymously. I didn't want you to know that I got the tickets for you, it would have ruined the surprise."
"Aw, come on, Spitfire, you know we're best friends. There's nothing to worry about if all you wanted to do is get me some tickets to one of your shows! And a VIP ticket at that!"
"There's also a backstage pass in there, too. You should come on back after the show, I want you to meet my team!"
"You mean you want your team to meet the pegasus that's beaten you in every race we've had?" he laughed.
"Hey, not cool! I just want to introduce you to my team, I know they'll love you!"
"Aw, that's nice, Spitfire, but you know I'm not really the kind of pony who cares about spotlights and celebrities and all that."
"Can you just do it for me? Please? I've talked about you a bit, and Soarin' wants to meet you!"
Shift continued to think about it as Spitfire gave him a puppy-eyes look. Soarin', huh? He'd heard lots of stories about the Wonderbolts member, mostly stories about how much he liked pie. And he liked pie a lot. He sounded like a nice pony to know.
"Oh, alright. I'll be there. It'll be quite the show, I bet."
"You betcha!" she grinned at him. "We've been working on one of our most awesome stunts yet! Just wait till you see it! Oh, and nopony else knows that, you're the first one..." She leaned in closer. "...so don't tell anypony else, okay?"
He smiled back at her. "Right, right, I get it. I'll see you there, then?"
"Of course! Don't be late! Well, as if you'd ever be late, you're practically the fastest mailpony in existence. Hey, how come you didn't join the Wonderbolts with me? It would have been awesome, and I know you definitely got it in those wings to join! I mean, you were practically my coach up till the day of the audition!"
Right, he was there that day...
Sky Shift and Spitfire stood outside the Canterlot Stadium as they took the time to admire the grand architecture, before Shift turned to her.
"Ready for this, Spitfire?"
She took a deep breath. "As ready as I'll ever be."
He pats her on the back. "Don't worry, we've been training for this. I know you'll make it. You're Spitfire, flyer extraordinaire, and the record breaker of the Fire Gauntlet Challenge in flight school. If anypony can make it into the Wonderbolts, it's you."
"Don't flatter me," she said nervously. "It's just making the jitters worse."
"Fine. You're Spitfire, the most confident and coolest mare in all of Equestria. Go in there and knock 'em dead!"
They walked in together as they handed the attendant awaiting at the door her audition card. Spitfire was let through, but Shift was stopped at the door.
"And who might you be?" the gruff earth pony asked.
"I'm her coach."
"Hmm. Very well, go on through."
Shift went on through the grand double doors to find himself staring at the huge, but empty stadium. There were a number of other applicants lining up nearby, awaiting their turns to perform for the Wonderbolts, who just so happened to be the judges, as well. The line dwindled slowly as hotshot after hotshot began performing their own signature moves and routines in an attempt to wow the three pegasi. For the most part, it seemed like many impressed them, and were given applause and even compliments once they'd landed.
"Okay, Spitfire, just remember what we practiced. Don't bank too hard, don't pull anything gutsy, just let the moves settle and in and move with the wind. Got it?"
"Ye-yeah, I got it." The number of ponies waiting in line began to decrease until only three were left, including Spitfire.
"Wow, going last, huh?" said one of the participants. "That's some real pressure. Good luck to ya."
"Th-thanks," Spitfire replied sheepishly.
"Come on, Spitfire. What happened to the spunky daredevil that I know and love?" Shift asked.
"I'm still her!" she almost shouted. "I'm just... really, really nervous right now. Oh, Celestia, I'm just... just so nervous, Shifty."
"Don't worry, I'll be watching! You'll do great--no, not just great, you'll be amazing! You'll knock 'em dead like you were born to do this."
Spitfire nearly jumped when she heard her number called up for audition.
"Good luck! Break a leg! Celestia bless you! And everything I could probably think of but can't at this moment!" Shift shouted as Spitfire took to the air.
Spitfire began the beginning flight twists of her routine, the Spitfire Sunbolt, created by both her and Shift. She began pulling through a number of tight turns and lane diving, eventually becoming a yellow-and-orange blur as if her body was lit on fire. She began to swing through loops, steadily increasing her altitude until she eventually dove straight up, stopping straight up in the air as if she was weightless.
Her body's silhouette was darkened as the sun appeared behind her. The judges squinted up to look at her, but found themselves dazzled by the display, on edge as they wondered what she would do next.
Then, like an arrow, she immediately began descending at an incredibly fast pace, twisting around three times as she did so, giving the illusion of a falling fireball. The judges gasped as they thought that she was about to hit the ground. Then suddenly, she pulled up, flying over the tent that the judges sat under, lighting the tip of the top on fire through the speed of her flyby, before bringing herself up and pulling through a wide and glorious yellow arc, as if she were made of fire, before changing direction back towards the balcony for her landing.
There were loud shouts and cheers and applause as she landed with a huge smile on her face, panting all the while. She walked over to a seat in the nearby spectator stands and dropped on it, taking a huge breath.
"I knew you could do it!" Shift said, running over. "That was amazing, I knew you had it in you!" He hugged her tightly.
She laughed. "It was thanks to you, too... coach."
"...like I said. I don't like being in the spotlight. All those fans and no privacy and all that," Shift said. "Just doesn't suit me. I just like being able to fly without having to worry about being swarmed by the nearest group of ponies." He wondered why Spitfire hadn't been overwhelmed by legions of fans just by running down the street.
Spitfire sighed. "Okay, have it your way. But I still want you to show up at the event, okay?"
"Right, right. I promise I'll be there," he laughed. "Happy?" He put the plain unmarked letter back into his saddlebags.
"You better show up!" she said, walking past him. "We're still on for that race later, okay? Oh, no! I'm going to be late to practice now because of you!" She broke into a gallop and ran across the sky-bridge.
"You're welcome!" he said sarcastically, before watching her run around yet another corner, leaving his sight.
Chuckling to himself, Shift took to the skies yet again. He took his time in returning back to the post office, weaving through the tall roofs and towers of Canterlot. It was also such a blast to race in the city, dodging all the obstacles and weaving through objects, and occasionally nearly missing the odd pegasus in the sky.
Shift entered the post office through the pegasus exit, landing with a soft thud in front of Post, as he wheeled around and dropped a huge loaded box on the counter.
"Hey, you're back!" Post said. He leaned in. "How'd it go?" he whispered, a smile growing on his face.
"Nothing happened, okay?" Shift said, which just earned a laugh and a pat on the back from Post.
"Right, sure, nothing happened. Anyway, here's your next batch. This one's the full rounds this time, Shifty. Good luck!"
Shift poked his head into the box. Lots of boxes and packages this time, outbound to all sorts of places. There was even one for Stalliongrad, which was practically on the other side of Equestria! This was going to be a fantastic trip. He pulled into his bag and pulled out his high-speed flying goggles. Now, he was going to get serious, and break some records.
"Come on, beat the wind!" Shift said to himself. He flapped his wings harder, trying to finish his long shift before the sun went completely down. The whole round of deliveries had sent him all across Equestria, starting from Stalliongrad, then eventually circling to places like Las Pegasus and Manehattan, followed by a nice dinner stop in Cloudsdale, and then finally, the long final haul to Ponyville again before turning in for the night.
He felt his field of view sliding into a blur as he realized he was about to enter another Sonic Rainboom. No! He couldn't, not this time, he was on a roll and by Celestia herself, he wasn't about to let himself take the easy way out! The field of white began to form in front of his face as he spread his wings open to brake, eventually causing his eyes to roll back forward into his head.
"That was close," he said to himself. He began flapping his wings harder now, making sure he didn't reach the point where another Sonic Rainboom would happen. Unfortunately, he didn't break any records this run, but the speed rush was still there, and made his deliveries enjoyable. Manehattan was certainly a beautiful sight to look at during the night.
"Hey!" Shift blinked a few times as the town hall roof of Ponyville came into view. Was somepony talking to him?
"Hey! You!" Okay, he was definitely hearing something now.
"Hey! Mailpony! I'm talking... to you!" Shift turned his head to the left to find a cyan pegasus mare flying alongside him. She seemed to have a hard time of it as she had to flap her wings harder every few seconds just to keep up. He scowled and proceeded to flap his wings harder, unwilling to let his mail delivery be hindered. "Ha... horseapples... you're... fast! Slow... down! I need... to talk... with you!"
"Then talk with me in the Ponyville Post Office!" he said, shooting ahead. Judging by that mane, that was most definitely Rainbow what's-her-name. The one that Spitfire talked to him about once or twice. A bit hot-headed, but a promising recruit for the Wonderbolts, she'd told him. While he was lost in this series of thoughts about his conversation with Spitfire, however, he lost his focus on trying to keep the Sonic Rainboom at bay, and before he knew it, he was flying in a multi-colored blur.
He immediately again flapped open his wings as an air brake, slowing down to a decent speed to descend just a bit past Ponyville. That was much too close for his liking. Having unexpected guests while flying on a route could do that to a mailpony. He began circling around as he descended, landing outside of the Ponyville Post Office, and walked inside.
"Hi Shifty!" Derpy said from behind the counter. She put a small brown muffin on the desk. "Muffin?"
"Don't mind if I do," Shifty said, chomping down the muffin in a single bite. "Hmm, strawberry. I like strawberry."
"I'll be sure to get you those ones next time," she laughed. "More deliveries today?"
"Of course! Always the high and fast life for a first-class mailpony!" he laughed, pulling out several more letters and packages for the grey-colored pegasus. Aside from the two of them, there didn't seem to be any other mailpony staffing the office today. "Working alone today?"
"Huh? Oh!" she laughed. "Usually I get to take the evening times, it's very quiet here. The postmaster also lets me--"
"Hiya!" A small filly's head and eyes appeared next to Derpy, obscured by the counter. "Hi, I'm Dinky! Who are you, mister?"
"Oh, Dinky," Derpy laughed. "This is Sky Shift! You know, the nice Mr. Shifty who got you that Wonderbolts poster? Be sure to thank him!"
"Oh!" Her eyes widened as Shift smiled back at her. "Thank you, Mr. Shifty! I really like the poster you got for me!"
"No problems, kid, it was my pleasure." He looked back to Derpy, who was smiling despite her eyes pointing in opposite directions. "Well, Derpy, I have to report back to Canterlot now. I'll be seeing you tomorrow?"
"As always! And I'll have a muffin ready for you tomorrow!"
"I'll look forward to it!" he shouted, leaving the post office. The weight of empty saddlebags brought him a joy like no other. He walked out, admiring the orange sky as the sun began to set, when...
"Ugh..." The cyan pegasus lay flat on the ground, flapping her wings a few times. "Hay, he's fast..." She opened her eyes and turned her head to see Shift standing nearby, looking at her. "Eeep! Hey, there, you... mailpony!" she laughed.
"My name's Sky Shift." He took a quick glance at the mare's cutie mark. A white cloud with a tri-colored lightning bolt coming from it. Very fitting.
"Yeah. I'm Rainbow Dash, one of the weather ponies for Ponyville. Are you sure you're a mailpony? I've never seen any other pegasi fly so fast before!" She hopped to her feet and walked up to him, wonderment in her eyes. "And you did a Sonic Rainboom! I don't think I know of any other pegasi that can do one of those! And you're really fast, and I mean, really fast. Who taught you how to fly like that? Are you a Wonderbolt in disguise?"
"Whoa, now, Rainbow, I'm just a mailpony. A first-class mailpony. I deliver priority packages and letters all over Equestria. I just... like to fly fast, okay? Without all the fame and the spotlight that comes with being a talented pegasus, that is, I don't do that sort of thing. And being a first-class mailpony allows me to push my limits, fly so many different routes. It's a real blast."
"Wow... maybe I should have been a mailpony. what's your fastest record?"
"Less than half an hour from Las Pegasus to Manehattan is something I'm proud of."
"Wh--that would take at least two hours by regular wing travel! Even more on hoof!" She narrowed her eyes. "Are you sure I haven't met you before? Because you are totally Wonderbolts material. I mean, you're not even that bad looking, not as good as Soarin' does, but you would totally fit into the Wonderbolts... but, wait... I've never seen any pegasus like you in a Wonderbolts uniform, so maybe you're telling the truth..."
"Are we done here?" Shift asked, annoyed. "Because I have to report back to Canterlot now."
"Huh? Oh, yeah, sure. Hey, we should race sometime!"
"Kid, you're not even anywhere fast enough to keep up with me when I'm in the zone on a good day."
"I--I wasn't trying that time, okay? I could totally beat you in a race, anywhere, anytime! I'm the fastest flyer in Equestria! Like I'd let some mailpony outdo me!" She confidently flapped her wings. "I know you mailponies don't work on weekends, maybe we can--"
"You mean regular mailponies don't work on weekends, you silly filly. First-class mailponies work every single day of the week. Maybe we can have a race, I don't know, two days from now? I'll try to ask my boss if he can free up my schedule, and then we can see about having that race." Shift turned away, giving his wings a quick preliminary flap before taking to the skies again. "Nice meetin' you, Dash!"
So now he had two races to attend... well, that would certainly spice up his schedule.