A brilliant rainbow streaked its way across the sky above the busy little town of Ponyville, shining down onto the pony filled streets yet going unnoticed by most who found the beautiful spectra to be common among life in the almost too happy community. It made its way from the edge of Whitetail Wood, over Sweet Apple Acres and across town, a slight arc giving it an almost perfectly natural look as it rocketed through the cloud-spotted blue sky. Perhaps in the other towns in cities across Equestria where they are less common it would draw more eyes skyward, but to ponyville they came and went with the passing of the wind. However this particular one held a special significance to a young and upcoming filly in town, perhaps the only one who would look skyward and smile for it's brilliance. She watched the rainbow come toward her in a speeding blur, at its head was its creator; her life long hero, the pony whose opinion she regarded over all others, Rainbow Dash.
It was hardly a secret that Dash was the coolest, fastest and most daring pegasus in all of Equestria. She had style; she was always at the top of her game, always opened to full throttle, always thinking ahead, and someday she would teach the filly everything she knew. Well perhaps the latter of those had, thus far at least, not been true. Dash barely took notice in her fans undying loyalty and praise, something the colorful mare thought to be common place in her presence. She would soak it in, sure, but only to fill her own ego to the point of bursting.
The rainbow tip disappeared over the horizon, its tail beginning to disperse slightly while young Scootaloo sat mesmerized by the intense array of colors. Losing track of reality momentarily she suddenly found herself in midair, for a brief moment she felt herself become weightless, coming back to reality only a moment later the ground quickly reclaimed the orange pegasus as she crashed her scooter with friends in tow. The group of filly crusaders spilled into the street with a series of thuds and a short skid.
"Ow...." Scootaloo brushed herself off. "Sorry guys."
"What was that for?" Sweetie Belle called out as she got to her hoofs.
"I just uh, hit something in the road." The orange filly flashed a smile at her fellow crusaders and righted the scooter/wagon combo. "Now c'mon! Hop in, let's get going slow ponies."
"Tha's ok, let's just get back to th' clubhouse. I don't think we was meant ta be cutie mark crusader super spies anyhow. I think we may have upset Mr. and Mrs. Cake t'day." the earth pony filly hopped back into the wagon and helped Sweetie Belle climb in as Scootaloo pulled forward, buzzing her small wings and propelling them quickly through town and into Sweet Apple Acres where they could find their next plan for getting their respective Cutie Marks.
A short trip past the market and through the seemingly endless orchard led them to their main base of operations and planning. Held up safely inside their clubhouse deep in the orchard they tried to work out new plans for the quickly ending day. Scootaloo tried to help with the planning but continuously found her mind drifting to a trail of rainbow light. The filly imagined that same light soaring through the sky and bursting clouds without even touching them, darting this way and that at speeds so fast you could barely keep your eyes on it, that amazing ability was something the filly desperately wanted to obtain, even if for only the briefest of time. However without even the ability to make the most basic of pegasus maneuvers what could she do? Lost in her own world she flexed her wings outward and felt their unimpressive wingspan.
I'm never going to get anywhere with these stupid things...' she thought to herself.
"Whatcha think scoots?" The yellow earth pony asked. Scootaloo snapped back to the real world only to find her friends staring at her.
"Uhh, yeah sounds good to me!" She chirped.
"It does?" Sweetie Belle asked tilting her head, "That's terrible!"
Scootaloo kicked herself mentally. "I mean. What you think of it! Yeah, that's what sounds good, not the other thing"
Her friends stared blankly at her quietly, Scootaloo tried to put on a convincing smile.
"Great! Glad y'all agree, we're one step closer to them cutie marks girls, I can feel it!" Applebloom and Sweetie shard a hoof bump and turned to the pegasus who also gave a quick bump as she tried to work out exactly what she had just agreed to.
"Hey girls, do you think we can pick this back up tomorrow? I just remembered I have a thing I need to go do."
"Whatcha need to do? We'll go with ya!" Applebloom said jumping to her hooves.
"Yeah! We can all go. What do we need to do?"
Scootaloo looked between the two uneasily. "No it's fine it's nothing big, I just need to go talk to somepony real quick. But I'll catch you guys right after ok?" With that the pegasus pony slipped out the door and into the safety of the orchard.
She hated lying, and she really hated having to leave her friends behind, but there's no way they would understand.
Scootaloo needed a pony who actually knew what they were talking about, somepony with wings. While she was sure Twilight would know everything she could ever ask, however she wondered if the lecture that would be sure to follow would be worth it.
Dropping her scooter by the door and making sure no pony was around she gave a few quick knocks and backed up.
The door cracked open and a familiar face hidden behind a pink mane popped out.
"Oh, hey Scootaloo. Where are your friends?" She opened the door fully and looked around.
"I came alone. I uhh... can I come inside? I need to ask you something." She rubbed her foreleg and looked past the older pony to the safety of the cottage where ponies wouldn't be able to see her.
* * *
Scootaloo poked uncomfortably at her quickly cooling tea. Fluttershy for her part sat quietly watching the filly for some time.
"Why?" Scootaloo asked almost inaudibly.
"What was that?" Fluttershy leaned forward, setting her tea down.
"Why?" She repeated, looking up. "Why aren't my wings growing? Why can't I do anything? Why do I have to wait?" The words were less said then than spilled out in a heavy breath. Scootaloo was leaning forward looking to the older mare. "Why can't I just fly like everypony else? Why?"
Fluttershy let out the breath she didn't realize she had been holding and moved to the couch with the filly, draping a wing around her back. Scootaloo leaned against her more out of instinct than thought.
The older mare though for a moment. "Well, I don't know for sure, it's different for everypony but I'm sure it won't be much longer. Some pegasus ponies are just late bloomers. Don't worry about the other ponies, your wings will grow when it is there time, it should only be another year or so as long as you are eating well."
Scootaloo thought of her current meal supply and wilted. "I can't wait a whole year, isn't there anything you can do?" Scootaloo pleaded. She knew her diet had been less than sufficient for quite some time but hadn't
"I can't make your wings grow, that could be dangerous for you." The filly's head dropped against her side. "But" She said pulling Scootaloo up to look at her. "I might have a little something for you to try, if you're not getting what you need to grow into a strong young mare it can help fill the gaps." She unfolded her wing, making scootaloo shiver at the loss of warmth, and disappeared into the kitchen.
Scootaloo craned her neck but it did little to help. Fluttershy returned a moment later with a small bottle in hoof. She popped the top off and handed it to the orange filly.
"What is it?" she asked giving the bottle a sniff, inside was a fine green powder that smelled stale and leafy.
"It's a natural mix I got from Zecora for the little animals, it helps make up for things they can't eat. I just picked that up yesterday, mix a little scoop there into your water every morning." She smiled as the filly's mood was noticeably lifted while her mind worked around what she was told. "Just don't take too much, a little bit goes a long way you know."
"Thanks Fluttershy! You're the best!" she gave stood herself up and hugged the older pegasus tightly. "I'll only take a little every day! Crusader's honor!" She slipped the lid over the bottle and dashed out the door. Fluttershy could only smile at her as she darted down the road.
Scootaloo returned to the clubhouse and slowed to a quiet trot, she carefully snuck up the ramp to the small window and peered inside. To her relief she was met by a dark room and a club that was safely empty for the night; she walked in and over to the corner where a pile of blankets and various items were pushed aside.
Under these was a small box containing all of her personal items, she had them hidden so her friends wouldn't know she was living in the small headquarters, she opened the box and carefully placed the bottle she had received inside, it was getting darker now and she could practice tomorrow.
Pulling the cover onto the small cot that was originally placed inside for sleepovers but now served as her bed nightly she curled up and drifted into a soft sleep, satisfied with her day. Her dreams were full of life and flight, she found herself high above ponyville, perhaps higher than anypony had ever flown before. At her sides were a pair of majestic wings, large and strong. Looking down she could see the familiar form of Rainbow Dash swooping about with her standard magnificent form.
With a grin she closed her wings to her sides and dove as fast as she could; the thrill of falling was far greater than that of flying for her. She spread her wings and used her speed to push past her cyan idol, challenging her. Dash caught onto the maneuver and quickly caught up to the fast flying filly. They each pushed as hard as they could, each gaining just a slight lead on the other before the order would switch, a perfect give-take dance that sent them rocketing over the trees outside of ponyville. The wind following their flight threatened to pull some trees down entirely and remove roof tiles from unlucky houses. Scootaloo could feel her heart racing; the adrenaline of the speed coursing through her body, the ache in her wings was a welcome feeling as she pushed to outpace the older pegasus. They turned and flew upwards, keeping at ludicrous speeds as they ascended, the cold air bit at Scootaloo's sides and face, it burned at her muscles and her mane whipped wildly, it was all beautiful in her mind, her coat was pressed hard at her side and Rainbow Dash was only a few feet away, a determined grin on her muzzle.
Dash could, of course, out pace the young filly, and at this moment she wanted nothing more in her young life than for that moment to come.
She awoke in the same bed; cool sweat covered her from the intensely real dream that still lay fresh in her mind's eye. Her mind started clearing the remaining fog from its corners and informing her of the current day ahead. With a little discomfort she hopped out of the small cot, pulled the covers off and grabbed the bottle Fluttershy gave her. The weight of the glass and what it held assured her that it was real, and with it her dreams.
It took only a few minutes to set the room up as it had been before and hide her presence. The same boring routine; get up, stretch out, fold, clean, cover, hide. Double checking with a quick sweep that nothing lay out of place in the small room she couldn't help but smile, today would mark the beginning of her training. While she knew the mix wouldn't actually change her, having it make up for her less than ideal diet reassured her.
The confident filly trotted briskly out of the clubhouse to the nearby stream to wash a bit and clear her mind. This. This moment, this routine, all of it was the best part of her day. The leaves from the surrounding orchard crunched lightly under her, she took in the feeling for what felt like the first time, suddenly noticing the beautiful place she had found shelter in. Her and Applebloom would often visit this stream after a busy day after dropping Sweetie Belle off to relax a little. The morning sun shown through the endless rows of apple trees that caught the breeze and held the fresh air and taste of apples on the back of your her with each calm breath. When she was here she didn't have to worry, she didn't care where her troubles were hiding or feel the pit in her stomach. Everything here was fresh, beautiful and it all belonged together.
Today the pegasus settled for a quick dip. She slid under the water's surface and let the carry her with the help of her wings for direction, in a way she loved swimming, in the stream flight was just a splash away. Fun ending she did her best to wash up before heading to Rarity's to get some breakfast with Sweetie Belle. The unicorn foal never thought to ask why she came so often and Rarity was always too busy to care, it was perfect for Scootaloo's on-the-go lifestyle.
Skidding to a halt in front of the lavish boutique Scootaloo popped her helmet off and let herself in. Noting the level of smoke emanating from the kitchen since her first visits she trotted in and took a spot at the small table.
Sweetie Belle noted her guest and spun from the counter carrying a few containers of various punches.
"What's your poison?" she asked with a grin. Scootaloo withheld her desire to take the question literally, glancing toward the counter.
"Uh, just water today. You didn't... burn it... did you?"
Sweetie scowled and returned to the sink. She was quiet, Scootaloo hated it when she got quite.
"Hey Sweetie Belle. You know I was just kidding right?"
No reply, the unicorn filly filled the glass and returned, handing it to the pegasus with a smile.
"...right?" She looked wearily into the clear liquid. Nothing seemed off, no smell, no color.
"What's wrong Scootaloo? You chicken?" She giggled, not breaking her stare. "Not afraid of a little water are you?"
Suddenly Scootaloo felt less thirsty.
During the quick "meal" Scootaloo had her first taste of the herbs and mix. The taste would take some getting used to, leafy and dry with an assortment of aftertastes that held onto her tongue.
'This feels great!' she thought to herself buzzing through town on her faithful scooter, the drink had given her a new level of energy she was not used to, she felt focused and alert to everything around. The way the ground would rock her scooter slightly, the smell of the wind as it picked up the various favors of vendors and treats. With no effort at all she zipped through ponies, always comming just close enough to avoid the next. This was speed, this was power and this was awesome. It wouldn't take long to build up the necessary strength for flight. Much faster than the previous estimate if she really pushed herself.
Today was great and today it seemed that, for the first time, everything she dreamed of was suddenly in reach.
* * * * *
Rainbow Dash was leaving her floating home to practice in the park when a lone letter caught her attention. Its envelope was a light shade of blue with a familiar emblem sealing it, a long bolt of lightning, wide wings on either side giving it an easily recognizable source. Her eyes widened, today might finally be the day. She carefully opened the letter, not wanting to damage the envelope and slipped out the paper inside.
"Dear Rainbow Dash,
Congratulations! You have been selected to perform an audition before a predetermined set of judges for your place in the Wonderbolts. The scores of this event will be in basic areas if skill, control and strength as determined by Wonderbolts standard regulation. Due to your position in the best young fliers competition and yur numerous past achievements you have been upgraded to preferred selection, preferred selection candidates are brought in only through unanimous vote. The Chief of Air Training has selected you personally. This selection allows you to skip the prescreening process of recruitment. Upon a successful audition you will be called to the Wonderbolts headquarters to spend five days with the team, here you will observe their routines during mid-season.
Representatives will arrive in 1 month for the audition, it is recommended this time is spent organizing your routine and checking the list of requirements included. We look forward to observing such a well-known pegasus in action. Happy flying and as always Good Luck!
-Fleetfoot, #4, B-Squad.
The rainbow maned pegasus could barely contain the torrent of emotion in her as she reread the letter and list of flight requirements, most of it she could do on any normal day without much thought, others she would have to practice a bit more but overall looked to be as simple as show up, show off and go home. Of course there was an area for improvisation in which recruits could show specific skill they had. She could think of at least 3 tricks she would throw into that, sealing her dreams with style and speed.
She tucked the letter safely inside her cloud home and took to the sky, if she had a month to practice she was going to make the most of it, nothing would get in her way now, not when she was already so close.
For both of Ponyville's elusive Pegasus ponies the last few weeks had been the hardest personal training sessions they had ever pushed themselves through, although they were each unaware of the others doings for some time.
Scootaloo had poured all of her extra time into special stretches and work she had picked up from more than just a few books on the subject in order to strengthen her unshapely wings and help them mature. Twilight had been extremely supportive in her trauning, it seemed the unicorn always had a book to turn to and it seemed to be working, at each side of her small form the appendages were proportional to her own body as they would be to a full grown mare, they were something she could be proud of for once. Instead of small and weak they were wide and much stronger. She had just recently gained the ability to accelerate and maneuver safely and was testing her limits on height when she found suitable time. The mix Twilight had given her had been working wonders, she was more confident than ever. Even her friends were beginning to notice the new Scootaloo, although her flank was still barren of a proper cutie mark she looked mature and gave a radiance that no pony would be able to pass unnoticed.
Rainbow Dash had an equally fulfilling few weeks as she had practiced the routine she would use countless times, starting with the basic requirements she found ways to make them her own, adding style and daring tactics to the bland list of simple maneuvers. She even found herself wondering why they would place such basic moves in an audition, was she really good enough to find them second nature where others might see them as a challenge? The thought excited her more; she was in peak shape, rainbow mane glistening in the warm sun, her lean muscle shaping her body into perfection, neither too big nor too small in stature. She greatly anticipated her next move as she prepared herself for the day that would change her life, one way or the other.
"Today..." she said, grinning confidently into an iced mirror floating in her cloud home. The letter hanging from its corner had served as a reminder every day that she would be the best. Her auditions were later today; the judges would be flying in to determine if she indeed had what it takes.
"Today..." Scootaloo said to herself as she sped through town toward a familiar but previously unreachable building hanging majestically in the sky, the home of her idol. Today would be the day she showed Rainbow Dash the new Scootaloo, and today she would finally be noticed.
"I know I could impress her if I got the chance..." The orange filly was nearing her destination.
"I know I can blow them away if they gave me a shot..." The rainbow maned pegasus thought to herself as she stepped outside.
"And now I have that chance!" They simultaneously thought as the day was beginning.
Scootaloo approached the cloud home of her hero and saw Rainbow Dash standing on the doorstep looking as confident as ever. She hopped off the small scooter and called up to the older pony. Catching her attention Dash looked down on the grounded filly with a smirk, caught in a moment of her own confidence. Scootaloo continued to call up to the mare, her efforts failing she decided to show Dash rather than tell her of her accomplishments and spread her wings. Flapping powerfully she managed to lift herself and begin a circling ascent to the cloud home. Dash was slightly taken back by the new ability and was entertained at the fillies attempt to reach the right altitude.
After a few minutes of circling and ascending Scootaloo reached the spot where Dash was patiently standing, a grin still on her muzzle.
"Wow kid, I didn't think you'd make it."
"I've been practicing!" Scootaloo announced, displaying her wings proudly. Dash inspected the appendages; they were larger than previous encounters if she remembered correctly, finally being used for lifting and not pushing a scooter.
"It's a start, I guess. You got a long way to go squirt."
"Well, actually I... kinda wanted to talk to you about that." she said nervously, pawing at the soft cloud.
"I'm a little busy kid, what's on your mind?"
"Oh um... I was thinking you could... teach me? You know, like how to fly like... well, you!" she managed, choosing her words carefully not having thought about what she would like to say before. Dash chuckled to herself, catching the fully off guard with a slight sting.
"I'm not gonna be around long enough for you to fly like me. Sorry, but can't help ya Scoot." Dash said, not intending to sound as harsh as the words came out, forgetting the filly was unaware of her later audition and planned acceptance to leave for training. Scootaloo took it harder than meant, she felt her chest tighten and her wings clasped her sides, pointing her head down awkwardly.
"Oh... I'm sorry I bothered you. I'll go." she turned and lept off the clouds, forlorn. 'I can't believe I thought she would just accept me now, what has she ever done for me?' she thought to herself. 'I show her, I'll be better! She thinks she's so great. What does she know!' tears were burning at the edges of her speeds as she reached the ground and flapped hard, forgetting her scooter there she shot across the ground nearly knocking Twilight over as she darted back to her clubhouse.
The determination she felt previously withered in comparison to her new goals. Reaching her clubhouse she grabbed her few possessions, scattering the rest haphazardly across the small room. She scribbled down a small not to her friends to find and darted out again, she wouldn't be meeting up with Sweetie Belle or Applebloom today for crusading, or ever again for as far as she was concerned.
* * * * *
Rainbow Dash watched the filly dart away, impressed with her speed at first but strangely upset that she had left in such a hurry. Still not realizing how her words must have fallen on the unknowing filly's mind she decided to push the thoughts away and focus on her day. She had a few Judges to impress today and a new life to start. Leaping from her cloud home, skating off of the few clouds hanging as if they were ice and making her way to the spot where she could meet the judges.
She rested in the large open field, surrounded on many sides by trees but far large enough for her to be evaluated today. The anticipation of the event had her arriving long before needed, but being early could only help her she found. Eventually she saw a group of 3 pegasus ponies heading to a small booth set up previously for them to watch from. She hopped up and trotted in front of them as they got situated. Standing as proudly as she could while they made their initial findings, working out the finer bits of paperwork quietly without looking up to her.
"Miss. Dash I presume?" one of the stallions asked barely looking up from the paper he held.
"Yep, that's me!" she replied grinning in anticipation. Her heart rate increased as she prepared for the event, she made sure to warm up and stretch prior to their arrival.
"I've heard much about you." he continued, she wasn't sure if that was good or bad just yet. "So, let's see if you've got what it takes hmm? The team seems to think highly of you."
"Really!?" she didn't mean to say out loud, quickly catching herself and coming under control.
"Yes, but I assure you, we are not as easily impressed Mrs. Dash. You may begin when ready." he finished, lifting a quill in hoof and waiting with the other judges.
Dash walked a few paces away, steadying her nerves again and preparing for the heavily practiced routine. She spread her wings and counted down in her head before lifting herself off the ground and bolting high into the sky. She rounded off the speed test, swiftly dodged a series of pre-placed obstacles and punched clean holes through a set of clouds for effect as a stream of water was caught behind her. She turned again and focused toward the judging booth before spreading her wings wide as an air brake, stopping herself as the small drops collided with her wings and back, creating a rainbow over her head, the same move she had tried with Trixie before. The judges wrote a few things down as she lifted away for the next phase of the test. She gained altitude and tucked her wings at her sides. Going into a graceful free fall she counted with her eyes closed, forelegs tucked against her chest and waiting for the right time to stop the fall or risk colliding with the hard ground. Spreading perfectly she pulled out and gave them a super speed trot, grinning slightly at the 3 pegasi, who were too focused to grin back, writing more down. She finished quickly, working through a few more small routines and landed safely before them. Luckily she had avoided attempting a sonic rainboom, for failure could have ruined the audition and success may have uprooted a few trees.
"Well done Mrs. Dash" the judge said with the same unknown tone in his voice.
Rainbow Dash did her best to look unfatigued and smiled back with a nod of thanks. "We will evaluate your results as well as previous testing from your flight school; you should receive notice in a very short time."
Confident with her performance she left for home and what she felt to be a well-deserved dandelion sandwich to celebrate. Having already pushed the events prior from her mind she forgot the visit from the filly, her mind consumed by her own desires.
Scootaloo galloped down the small trail, her wings too tired to carry her further. She felt useless, Rainbow Dash blew her off,
'Not that I should have expected any different' she thought as the pain of rejection sank in. Her eyes burned from the now empty supply of tears, she didn't care. She just ran, farther than she had gone before down the road out of Ponyville as fast as her legs could carry her. Scootaloo just wanted to get away from her, away from everypony she had relied on, they were no help now. She lowered her head and ran on, watching her hoofs strike the ground with each step, her mind lost in spiraling thought.
Suddenly she found herself accelerating toward the ground with somepony else who she had unwittingly drove herself into at full speed. The small filly tumbled over on the dirt road, the contents of her small bag spilling out in the process. She just laid there for a moment as her mind came back to her and she regained control over what happened, for a moment she thought about just staying there, laying for a long while she thought, this was quickly put aside as she heard the other pony lift herself up.
"Oh, um hey sorry about that." she managed to say as she approached the stranger, not looking up to see who exactly she had tackled.
"It's cool kiddo. That's one way to stop I guess." A mares voice replied, shockingly calm for having been tossed to the ground. Scootaloo looked up to see a unicorn with strange goggles and a bright mane made of different blues. She was smiling down at the frustrated filly pegasus. She turned her head and levitated Scootaloo's personal items into the small satchel and presented it to her.
"Thanks, I didn't mean to run into you like that... I was just... Never mind." she stammered.
"No problem. I should have just, well no; yeah I guess it was your fault huh? Bummer." she grinned with the statement, Scootaloo was unsure if she was serious or not.
"Ok, then I better just get going." she turned to leave the unicorn and continue down the path, begging Celestia the mare would just let her go.
"Whoa whoa kid, let's back up a bit." The unicorn called out.
'Called it...' Scootaloo thought to herself before returning to the strange pony.
"So what? You just tackle me and take off?" The unicorn began. "Dang kid, I thought that was more of a stallion thing around me." She smiled widely at her own remark, Scootaloo didn't get it.
"Wha-? Never mind. I just have to go."
"Oh really? Where to kid?"
"I-I don't know yet, just somewhere."
"Somewhere? Really?" The mare pressed on. "Aren't you a bit young to just be wandering around alone?"
"Uhg, look I just have to get away, I don't care where but I can't stay here.
"Yep! Mind if I tag along then?" She took pace beside the orange filly.
"Umm, sure I guess."
"Awesome, name's Vinyl, how about you?"
"Scootaloo" she replied quickly. To her surprise Vinyl stopped asking questions with that, instead she simply marched on beside the pegasus as she had been doing before, bobbing her head to a beat Scootaloo couldn't hear. They made their way down the road for some time in complete silence, Scootaloo lost in her thoughts and Vinyl well, being Vinyl. As the sun was beginning to set the silence was finally broken, being in the middle of a forest Scootaloo wasn't familiar with Vinyl veered off the road suddenly and began down a small path into the trees.
"Hey, wait! Where are you going?" she asked as she galloped to catch the recently added traveling companion.
"Camp kid, its getting dark." she continued to follow the small winding path. Eventually they made their way to an opening past the trees, still surrounded on all sides; the white unicorn levitated a large and weathered bag from a nearby tree and sat it on the ground. "I keep a few things out here for quick stops. Lucky us huh?" her grin made Scootaloo question her sanity for a moment or two before approaching and watching as she pulled out the bags contents. Inside was a wrapped tent, a few blankets, some pans and various small items Scootaloo didn't recognize. The unicorn began lifting the tent into place and had the filly make a fire pit with some nearby rocks, Scootaloo didn't question it at this point, and this unicorn was weirder than Pinkie Pie.
A short while later they found themselves sitting around a small fire in the oddly shaped fire pit with a tent set up a few feet away, Vinyl was watching the sky turn to night with fascination, it never got old for her to watch daylight fade into so many small points above herself, despite the sudden chill of night air washing over them. Scootaloo was watching the fire curiously, lost once again in thoughts of Rainbow Dash. Neither felt the need to speak, Scootaloo liked that about this new mare, she didn't push Scootaloo to do anything she didn't want to, or scold her for having travelled so far away. She had said a word about it since their encounter, it was strangely comforting, and for the first time that day Scootaloo felt accepted.
* * * * *
Rainbow Dash was walking casually through the town proper in Ponyville on her way to Twilight's when she was suddenly tossed off course by two thuds in her side; she stumbled as they cascaded to the ground. At her hoofs were the familiar shapes of Applebloom and Sweetie Belle.
"What's with you guys and always crashing into ponies?" she asked, slightly amused at the crusaders seemingly preferred stopping method.
"Sorry Rainbow Dash, we was jus' in a hurry. We gotta fin' Scootaloo so we can get crusadin'." Applebloom replied.
"She didn't come over this morning for breakfast, so we have to look for her." Sweetie Belle added. "She always comes over for breakfast!"
"Wait, why's she been eatin' breakfast with you for? Don' she eat at home?"
"Guess my foods better!"
"Sweetie Bell, ah'v seen your cookin', that's not it." Applebloom put a hoof to her chin.
"Have you checked your little clubhouse?" Rainbow Dash suggested flatly.
"Oh yeah! Why didn't ah think 'a that?" Applebloom grabbed Sweetie Belle and took off again, much to the amusement of Rainbow Dash who was able to continue her walk, not long after her memory of the previous day came back into focus. She remembered how upset Scootaloo had been before the audition; Dash thought for a moment and frowned. She had really hurt her yesterday, 'Better go apologize' she thought to herself before casually redirecting and heading in the direction the two crusaders had disappeared in at a steady pace.
She arrived at the headquarters shortly after, deep in Sweet Apple Acres. She heard a shout come from inside and ran up the ramp into the small room. Inside Sweetie Bell was levitating a piece of paper in front of her, Applebloom was looking through the various items scattered throughout the room with determination.
"What's going on?" Dash asked them with a slight worry in her voice.
"Sh-She's gone!" the unicorn choked out. "She left ponyville!" she levitated the note in front of the older pony.
"What do you mea- oh..." Dash read over the note presented to her, the writing was messy and rushed but she could make it out well enough. Dash's heart sank as she read on; Scootaloo had set out on her own the previous day because she blew her off for the Wonderbolts.
"We have to find her!" Sweetie Belle called out with new determination.
"Yeah! We're her friends, we gotta do somethin'!" Applebloom added
"CUTIE MARK CRUSADER FRIEND FINDERS!" They cried out in unison before flashing Dash a salute.
"Cutie Mark Crusaders awaitin' orders!" The young earth pony called. Dash froze before them.
"Listen girls, Its cool that you want to help, but this is something I've gotta do. Go let your sisters know what's happened, tell them I'll be back in a few days." She spread her wings and took off high into the sky to look for the lost filly, it would be difficult without a trial but she was confident in her abilities. On a nearby cloud sat a quiet observer to the scene, without a word the silent pony spread his large wings, slipped off the cloud and sped through the sky at high altitude unseen by those below.
Back in the crusaders clubhouse the two fillies watched Dash disappear. "So where d' we start?" Applebloom asked the confused unicorn.
"But she said not to help her."
"No, she said tah tell our sisters wha' happened. We can't jus' leave Scootaloo alone. Now you go get some clues." With that the two young crusaders ran out of the clubhouse to set a new plan in motion and save their friend.
Landing back on the front of the cloud house Rainbow Dash made quick work gathering enough bits to last her stay as well as a map of the surrounding area. Rushing out there was a knock on her door; she dropped the map and opened it cautiously, wondering who would be visiting. On her doorstep was a blue pegasus stallion, his black mane was swept back. Before she could bring herself to ask him what he was doing there he unfurled a massive wing and slipped out an envelope stamped with the Wonderbolts insignia. The pale blue envelope was placed in Dash's hoof without a word. She wondered for a moment if it was even possible for them to reply so quickly, and why they would send somepony instead of just mailing it like before. She looked up from the letter to ask the pegasus but found herself looking out into the empty sky. He had disappeared without a peep. She thought it over for a moment and dismissed it, looking back to the neatly pressed envelope. She brought it to her mouth to tear the end open but hesitated before she could. She thought for a moment and shut her eyes. Rainbow Dash tore the letter in half, tossing it to the ground and bolting out the door with her supplies.
Scootaloo and Vinyl had gotten up early and replaced the camping gear Vinyl kept in store. The pair had remained mostly silent throughout the morning. The eccentric mare would simply continue to smile whenever Scootaloo caught sight of her, over the previous night she had shared a few bits of information about herself, they had taken the time to learn the less personal bits of each other's lives. Turns out Vinyl was in a similar position to Scootaloo in the forest, neither had a real destination in mind, simply traveling where they pleased. It was a liberating feeling for the filly. The two continued down the road in silence for a short while, they had been walking for longer than the filly had noticed before and Scootaloo was beginning to feel the effects of long distance movement.
"So umm, where now?" she finally broke the silence, Vinyl turned to her, grinning more.
"Ah, so now you can talk huh? Sweet." She went to the side of the path and took a seat, Scootaloo followed. "Well alright then, let's check it out; we can stay on this road here and move on to who knows what for a while, pull a left up there and hit Manehatten in about 2 hours or head right and circle back around Ponyville. What sounds good?"
"Wait? You want me to pick? But I don't know anything about this."
"You've made it this far haven't you?" Scootaloo nodded, "So lead the way captain. Just go with it, we'll get somewhere eventually." Before Scootaloo had time to consider the options more her stomach began to growl, deciding for them.
"I'm getting kinda hungry... Where can we get some food?"
"Manehatten it is! Good choice." She stood and made her way once again down the road with the filly close in tow. She waited until they were a short way farther; Vinyl noticed Scootaloo's continued distracted behavior and watched her for a moment. "You know, talking about it'll make you feel better."
Scootaloo let out a sigh, Vinyl was right. She needed to tell somepony eventually and it wasn't right to keep following her around with no explanation.
So she began recapping the past few weeks, hopefully conveying the story clearly to the DJ who listened intently, nodding occasionally. Including bits about the powder she had been drinking to grow her wings out, her idol and the dreams she had always held onto including Dash. She finished the story with Rainbow's denial and her plan to leave town. As she thought about it more, it was a bad plan to begin with but it looked to be working so far, the farther she got from her formal "hero" the better.
"So that's it then? Wow, tough break."
"Yeah... What did I expect? She was going to be famous." The filly's head dropped.
"You thought what everypony does, no pony deserves to be thrown away because
somepony else gets more popular." she paused for a moment. "So where were your folks for all this?" she could hear Scootaloo's steps halt for a second as the words hit and wondered if she struck a raw nerve.
"They're... They died. Both of them." she lied. But was afraid to admit how terrible her parents had been outside of Ponyville. Being heavy party ponies, they had Scootaloo accidentally, never wanting her she was forced to care for herself from an early age, this usually left her hungry and alone in the world while her parents slept off hangovers. They never beat her, maybe because she was too young, but she didn't stick around long enough to actually find out.
After they left one night she grabbed her satchel and headed for Ponyville, already knowing Sweetie Belle she was able to hide herself from anypony who might come looking, which they never did.
"Died, that's all? Alright then, so this Rainbow Dash, she was more than just a hero then wasn't she? A real role model?" Vinyl knew if the young pegasus was lying than something much worse happened, something she wouldn't want to make Scootaloo uncomfortable about.
"Not anymore" she replied coldly, the wounds still fresh.
"Don't worry Scoots, I'll keep an eye on ya. Sound good?"
"Thanks Vinyl. That means a lot." she grinned at her friend. Maybe things would turn out ok.
"You've got guts kid, you remind me a lot of myself at your age." She turned her head to meet the orange pegasus' gaze from behind her sunglasses. "Well, except from the obvious being a unicorn that is. My mom kicked it early off, I was still pretty young, but dad took it rough."
"Oh, I'm so sorry! I didnt mean to-" She was cut off.
"No no no, it's cool kid. Let's just say he wasn't the same stallion after her, I took off not long after that. Not as easy making it in a city though..." her words faded as she reminisced her own past experience. She hadn't found anypony to help her when she was on her own, it's a hard life and she would spare Scootaloo of it. Both continued in silence for a while, happy with the moment they had shared briefly.
* * * * *
"Do ya see anythin'?" the yellow earth pony called up out to her friend at the edge of the woods. Sweetie Belle had climbed into a tree for a better view over the trees but was met by a thick layer of branches. Both fitted in their traditional Cutie Mark crusader capes they were searching the woods high and low.
"No, it's too thick, we're gonna have to hoof it in." she slipped down the trunk and back to Applebloom.
"Well how in tarnation are we supposed ta know where she went?"
"Oh, well if we were Scootaloo where would we go?" the unicorn suggested.
"But we aren't Scootaloo."
"Well duh, but if we were, would you go in?"
"Hmm, ah guess so. Better hurry though, we're gonna lose her." she galloped down the path and into the forest with her friend close behind. Making their way down the path to find the lost pegasus crusader.
"Do you think she's still in here?"
"Only one way to find out. Now come on, hurry up!"
A short run later they found themselves coming to a bend in the path, rounding the corner they caught sight of another traveller going in the opposite direction. A blue pegasus walking casually down the road while observing the scenery absentmindedly. The two filly crusaders saw a new opportunity for clue and stopped before him.
"Heya mister, you wouldn't have seen our friend back there have ya?" Applebloom asked, he stopped and looked down on the two ponies blankly.
"Hmmm, maybe." he replied looking back down the path behind him and then back. The pair waited for further explanation, which he was not giving.
"Well?" the earth pony tried again. "She's a pegasus like yerself, you had to have seen her."
"Oh yes, I do remember somepony like that." again the stranger failed to give what the crusaders would consider a helpful answer.
"Uhh, can you tell us where she went?"
He thought for a moment, bringing a hoof to his chin. "Sure, met up with some unicorn, said something..." he trailed off.
"Oh come on!" Sweetie Belle exclaimed, frustrated with the vague answers. "Do you know where they're goin?"
"Is that Ponyville up ahead?" he asked neither in particular, snapping back when he realized they had questioned him again. "I forget, but she met up with somepony new, went that way." he indicated the path behind him.
"Thanks, I think." Applebloom replied shortly before grabbing her friend and pulling her down the path. A safe distance away they returned to a gallop and sped down the path with the new lead, shaky at best it was something.
"You really think we can trust him?" Sweetie Belle asked her friend.
"We ain't got a choice, Scootaloo could be in trouble. Who knows who this other pony is." They followed the winding road expertly, taking shortcuts through underbrush that to any full grown pony was easily stepped over, but to the small ponies was more difficult to leap over. On one such bush as Applebloom was leaping an overgrown root, her cape tugged at her and she tore it away without thought, there were more important things to worry about in her young mind.
Vinyl and Scootaloo reached Manehatten in the afternoon; the city was unlike anything the filly had ever seen, her eyes lit up at the scene around her. The buildings were taller than anything in ponyville, there were ponies everywhere going from place to place and the roads were wide and full of carts. It was almost magical, her mood improved greatly at the sight, as well as her hunger. The smells of the city were of delicious shops and restaurants that seemed to pull her in. Vinyl was watching the filly's excitement grow as the new sights hit her.
"C'mon kid, let's grab some food before you pass out."
Scootaloo smiled up, and it vanished as a new realization settled. "Oh, but I don't have any bits." she let her head fall a little lower as she questioned her plan again, going into the woods with no money was something she should have noticed.
"No prob, I didn't expect you to, it's on me."
"Are you sure?"
"Duh, now c'mon I'm starving." she turned and made her way down one of the many streets, swaying and bobbing her head gently. Scootaloo happily joined her.
'Wow, no pony has ever been this nice before. Rainbow Dash would never do this. I can't believe I didn't see it before' she took pace beside the unicorn who was smiling once again as they walked. Soon coming up to a small restaurant and stepping inside, not unlike those in ponyville there were a few tables scattered about with city ponies eating quietly. The pair took a spot in the corner and settled in. Scootaloo lifted the menu and froze. She had never heard of any of the food choices on it. Assortments of soups, salads, sandwiches, and desserts filled the page. She froze for a moment and looked at Vinyl who was holding back from laughing at her lost expression.
After navigating the menu with the unicorn explaining the various items she decided to just get a sub sandwich she was fairly certain she recognized. After a short while in silence the food was presented, she ate hers with more excitement than she had meant. The pegasus hadn't realized how hungry she was before, it was fulfilling to eat quality food, her last meal had been a less than ideal meal by Sweetie Belle and a few apples she had collected. That was nearly a full day ago at this point. A full day since she left her life behind, her friends, her school, everything she had finally grown used to. She looked away; her eyes were burning as she thought about abandoning everypony. The DJ looked curiously at her, not wanting to interrupt what looked to be a sensitive moment. Behind her shades she felt her own eyes squint, the mare knew exactly what Scootaloo was thinking now, she had felt the same way years ago. The orange filly needed a friend right now and she would be there.
Scootaloo hadn't realized before that she had not only left her formal idol behind, but what had become her family in time she lived there. None of them knew much about her personal life, none of them knew about her lack of parents or a proper home, even so they tried to care about her. She contemplated going back, but to what? What if they didn't miss her? Or even noticed she had gone missing. Vinyl had only known her a day and was already closer than any of them had really tried to be. 'Was I really that simple to them?' she asked herself as she sat. After a moment she noticed that Vinyl had stopped eating as well, watching her through the dark glasses. Scootaloo pushed her thoughts from her mind and focused back to the white mare.
"Hey, why do you wear those all the time?" she indicated the glasses with a small hoof.
"Oh these," the DJ lifted her own hoof to feel the glasses. "I dunno, just had them forever. It's what makes me well, me. Y'know?"
"I guess that makes sense. Where'd you get them?"
Vinyl considered the question for a moment, she debated telling the filly the truth of their origin or simply shrugging it off, choosing the latter would break what she was working towards. "C'mon, I'll tell you in a bit." she laid some money on the table and the two walked out of the restaurant and down one of the busy streets. The sun was still high in the sky, and with it new hope of a better life for the young pegasus, the remaining memories of Rainbow Dash's denial pushed her to live a better life here than before.
The sun over Equestria was hovering at it’s its peak, Dash's daylight fleeting and she hadn't spotted the forlorn filly yet. She had narrowed her search down to the safest patch of wood out of ponyville without having to cross the entire town again from the crusaders' clubhouse. It had to be where the young pegasus had gone before. Rainbow Dash found herself flying lower than recommend in order to search under the thick branch layer. So far into her journey she hadn't found anything of significance, a few common hoof prints from various travelers, a burned out fire and a piece of gold lined cloth. She studied the patch closely; it hadn't been affected by the elements yet so it must have been discarded recently. She considered for a moment and decided to take the lead, cutting a left on the road and heading toward Manehatten as fast as she could while watching closely.
Before long 2 familiar bouncing shapes came into view, Dash pushed ahead of them and stopped, cutting off the remaining crusaders path.
"What are you doing out here? I told you to stay back in town."
"No, y'all said tah tell our sisters wha' happened, an' we did jus' that. Now we're gonna fin' our friend." Applebloom replied, getting a glare in response.
"Girls, this isn't one of your crusades, you could get seriously hurt out here. You need to go home, right now." she motioned for them to turn around.
"Not until we find Scootaloo!" Sweetie Belle called out.
Dash sat and placed a fore hoof on their shoulders, "I'll find her, but I can't have you two wandering around out here, you'll get hurt. Trust me, I'll bring her back."
"Ya promise?" Applebloom asked.
"Pinkie Pie promise, but only if you two get home."
"Fine, come on Sweetie Belle, let's go" the two reluctantly obeyed and began down the path toward home, if they kept a good pace they could return before the sun set. Rainbow Dash watched them leave until they were out of view and turned to resume her journey.
She arrived at the outer edge of the surprisingly modern city shortly after, the sun was just making its way downward and she could spend the day high above the streets in search of the familiar purple maned filly. It wouldn't be easy in a big city but it was all she had to go on.
Before she had gotten long into her trip she felt the familiar sensation of her growling stomach reminding her that flying all day without food could end badly. Ignoring the thought to just keep searching she landed and chose a small building among the countless others where she could get a quick meal. Coming up to the small restaurant she stepped inside, not unlike those in ponyville there were a few tables scattered about with various types of city ponies eating quietly at respective tables. A few sat empty with remaining scraps left over from previous visitors. Dash grabbed a newly cleaned table in the corner, she lifted the menu and picked out a simple sandwich and water, she didn't have time to waste with the complex menu. The waiter brought her food out and chuckled at the sight of yet another apparent country pony at his table for the afternoon. He shrugged it off and returned to work.
Dash took her sandwich hungrily and made quick work of the delicious treat, relaxing for only a moment after, she found her mind wandering on its own. Accounting the last two days, more had happened in them than most of her previous adventurous encounters. She thought about Scootaloo, if she had been led to the city then she could only imagine the filly wandering alone through the busy streets, alone and heartbroken... And it was all her fault, Scootaloo could die out here and it was her fault. 'No! I can't think like that. I'm going to find her.'
She laid her payment on the table and bolted back out the doors, she had to find the young fan before night came and the city turned into a very dangerous place. Dash had never experienced the danger first hand but working with weather ponies from other areas left her with little to imagine, the stories were brutal, weather stallions from the city coming across mares in the early mornings, a few lucky ones would survive. She felt her wings beat harder, her speed increased and her eyes darted through the streets with focus she normally saved for extremely high speed flight.
* * * * *
Night was falling, her heart was racing faster than usual as the realization set in, she wouldn't be able to search over night, it was far too dark to inspect the streets clearly. Her mind reeled at the thought of leaving the filly alone here, if she was indeed in the city alone she may not fair well. Rainbow Dash could only hope she was elsewhere, deciding it was best for her to grab a room and wait for morning. The city's complete lack of clouds narrowed her options to one of the many apartments. Luckily one close to her offered overnight rentals. Parting with a few of her remaining bits she was lead to her room, situated on the 3rd floor, room 304. Small and sparsely furnished it was more than enough for her likely sleepless night. She walked to the nearby window and gazed out and down the street toward a setting sun hoping Scootaloo would be alright come morning if she couldn't find her.
"And here we are, Casa Dé Scratch. Well, one of them at least." The DJ pushed open a door to a suitably sized apartment that looked as if it was abandoned long ago. Room 404 in a cheap building it was one of her many randomly scattered residences. Having made more than enough money during her prime days she kept them rented, just in case.
"You have more than one house?" Scootaloo asked with an uncertain tone.
"They come in handy... sometimes."
The filly pushed her way inside and inspected the main room, there was nothing outstanding about it, a small couch and some chairs. To the side looked to be a few amps and spare cords Vinyl had most likely forgotten about long ago, and a modest view over part of the city. The apartment was a cheap place she kept rented for special occasions and this was by any standard a fairly special occasion.
Vinyl shut the door and watched the younger pony as she made her way around the apartments small rooms, her mind fell into its own fit of exploration. Scootaloo had only a day prior been homeless and had her dreams crushed by some ego-centric star who sounded to have her head too high in the clouds to know how important she was to a child. The DJ felt her normally manic grin fade; she caught herself and shook the thoughts away, just because she had made mistakes as a filly in the city didn't mean she couldn't stop it from happening to the lost pegasus. Drugs ran through the streets freely, she had made the mistake with them long ago, while she was able to keep away from them at a young age her night life as Equestria's most popular DJ in her later years tended to leave her finding very... creative ways of releasing her stress. This came on more than a few occasions into tricking a mare or stallion home for a fix. It was shameful, something Scootaloo could never know about. She needed a role model, and Vinyl may not have been the best option, but it was better than leaving her to the monsters living alone tended to bring out.
Satisfied with her walk around Scootaloo returned to her newly found friend.
Vinyl felt the filly's gaze and looked back to her through the colored glass of her shades. She led the orange pony over to the couch and took a seat, resting from the long walk. Although she was well accustomed to long journeys the younger of the two was exhausted from the trip to the city. Laying in a pile on the large couch she relaxed and turned her attention to her new friend.
"So what's with the sunglasses?" she prompted the electric maned mare.
"Wow, you are the persistent one." she put a hoof to the rim of the glasses and thought for a moment, "I have had these things since my first days as a DJ, a gift from a friend long long ago." She paused in thought again. Something about the filly seemed to leave her thinking more than usual.
"So why wear them all the time?"
"I dunno, never thought about it, I guess it was to remind me of her back then, she was kinda my hero. I just got used to having them on. And here we are, wore them every day since I can remember."
"I guess that makes sense." she rested her head on the couch and unintentionally fell into a deep sleep. Much to her own confusion her dreams were once again filled with Rainbow Dash. This time her idol had pulled her from a near lethal fall, the filly found her wings useless, limp at her sides, her throbbing head confused her. Dash struggled to remain airborne as Scootaloo lay across her wings awkwardly; it looked like they were trying to escape something. She lifted her aching head from Dash's cyan coat to watch a large dark hoof slam into her former hero's side. She watched in horror as the duo fell limply into a forest below.
"No!" she cried out, her wings flapped instinctively and she toppled off the couch where she had rested. Regaining control she lifted herself from the floor, pushing the nightmare from her head. Vinyl kicked open the door to the next room, a record caught in her magic spinning wildly over her, a weapon of mass irritation if needed. Seeing the filly laying on the dark floor she released the record, forgetting to stop its motion first it imbedded itself in the soft wall. She trotted over to the filly and took a seat by the window, gazing out and down the street at a dark sky.
Scootaloo couldnt shake the image of Dash from her head. Even after her cold denial she was still drawn toward her. She hardly noticed Vinyl sitting beside her, just watching out the window at the stars. The same stars she had spent so many nights sleeping under alone. It was different now, she had always hoped Dash would take her in, but instead she had the white DJ. The mare had taken her in without question immediately, truly caring without persuasion. She grinned and leaned against her friend, thinking about her life, short as it was.
Vinyl felt the filly's head resting against her side and carefully maneuvered her head to glance down without being noticed. No pony could see behind the dark shades as her eyes began to moisten, her own faults behind she was certain now, Scootaloo would stay with her. She needed to settle down from her past anyway, having abandoned the alcohol and drugs far prior her life was turning around. The thought of loosing the new friend was able to bring out emotions she hadn't felt in many many years.
"Hey Vinyl..." the filly asked almost inaudibly.
"The one and only." she replied with a calmer tone than normal as to not ruin a moment.
"Do you ever miss your friend? The one who gave you your sunglasses?"
Vinyl thought it over for a moment before replying. They had gotten caught up in a pretty swift falling out long ago, one she wasn't willing to recall the details of. "You know, I guess I do... Things probably could have gone better. We had a pretty rough end."
"I think I miss Dash, maybe. I don't know."
"Makes sense, it's not in our nature to run, but it’s nice to have options, even if she never knew how you felt. Maybe you should tell her sometime."
The filly simply nodded in response and continued the watch outward. The DJ resumed her position of quiet thought as well. They sat and contemplated their respective past, Scootaloo's being much shorter but no less eventful in its own right.
Carefully she lifted a blanket from the couch with her magic and draped it over the two, silently watching out the window. Feeling as if their troubles were mere feet away and yet farther than ever.
The next morning couldn't have come sooner, Rainbow Dash had spent the night by the window, watching for hours down the street where the stars were visible to her in case a familiar face was to walk down the busy corridor, she fell asleep without realizing it late in the night only to be jostled from her lack of rest by the fresh rays of Celestia's sun. She quickly made herself decent from her previous day of heavy flying and stepped out into the hall, took a left and trotted down the stairs. As she rounded the stair well to the third floor she was forced to leap over a white unicorn who was traveling up with a bag, the mare nearly dropped her items at the sight of a rainbow maned pegasus galloping down the narrow shaft, but there was no time for that, Rainbow Dash was far more concerned with her search.
"Rainbow Dash?" The white mare called down to the swiftly moving figure. She fit Scootaloo's description perfectly. The pegasus froze on the stairs, turning back to her and walking to the stranger. "Ha! I knew it!" the unicorn cheered to herself.
"You know me?" she asked, eyeing the other pony who ignored the question.
"So, you're really her. Wow, what are the odds right?"
Rainbow Dash was becoming frustrated with the unwelcome obstruction, she was eager to resume her search, not knowing where Scootaloo had been staying. "Is there something you want? I've got things to do." she asked more coldly than necessary, the DJ grinned at the tone.
"Wow, Scoot was right, you're a pushy one aren't you? I don't get it. What brings a big shot like you out here?"
Rainbow's mind stuck on the beginning of the reply, her breath shortened and her eyes locked on the other mare. "Who was that again?"
"Scoot, y'know as in Scootaloo, you're number one fan, well once. The one you blew off and left to run into a city alone." her own voice was cold now, she floated the bag of breakfast she had gathered onto the floor. She could feel Dash's cold stare and was less then amused with the ego-centric pegasus.
"You found her? Where is she?" she demanded.
"Oh so now you care? After years of rejection? Nice try, she isn't ready to see you just yet."
Dash spread her forelegs and dropped her head defensively. "Tell me where she is. Now."
"Why? So you can torment her more? Do you even realize what you did to her? What you meant to her?" her horn began to glow as her anger built.
"I'm taking her home, where she belongs."
"And where exactly is her home? Do you really know?" Vinyl pressed on.
"In Ponyville, with her real friends."
"I got that, but where in ponyville might that be?" She watched Dash think for a moment and her aggressive stance loosen. "You didn't even care to ask did you? Not once."
Dash didn't reply. She stood half stunned, half saddened by the fact she had never once asked the filly where she lived, or for that matter ever heard her talk about it. She was always so willing to talk about Rainbow Dash that it never occurred to the latter to take interest.
"She followed you for years, just trying to get your attention, even the slightest bit of care. She never told you because you were supposed to help her. She waited for you, and you told her to leave. But did you ever once think to what? Where was she going to go?"
"Bu-" Dash tried but was cut off.
"No. You didn't. You were too focused on your own life to care about hers. She looked up to you, you know that? All she wanted was to be like you, even just a little. Some hero you made out to be." Her rage was building as she assaulted Rainbow with the harsh reality. One thing Vinyl knew better than anypony in Equestria was that reality was a monster, left unchecked it could destroy a pony who could have otherwise been helped. The DJ went far out of her way to help friends, giving them places to stay, food to eat, and a willing ear to listen. Her vast wealth stored intelligently allowed her to live care free, reality bent at her whim now.
Rainbow Dash regained her composure, assuming her stand once more, "I have to see her. I came to find her and I'm not leaving until I talk to her."
"No, you're leaving. And you’re leaving now. When she wants to talk to you she will find you, if you're lucky she might forgive you. But that’s her choice.” She eyed the mare who had gained her distrust so quickly, “You, a Wonderbolt? Please, they take ponies with character, heroes even. You’re a disgrace to their name.”
"No!" Dash jumped at the unicorn. Her rage exploding outward causing her to act though feeling alone, standards meant nothing right now. Vinyl reached out with her magic and slapped a tendril across her face, sending her onto the stairs. Her hair stood out wildly with magic discharge and she readied herself for another charge. Dash jumped again, her eyes full of frustration and tears only to be smacked away again.
"You're not going to hurt her, she needs time." Vinyl lashed out with the strands of energy blocking Dash's progress past her. The pegasus was beginning to tire, she laid on the stairs, her coat disheveled and a clear line swelling across her wing. Her head lowered and body aching tears flowed off of her muzzle and onto the cold floor. Her mane was whipped wildly. Defeated she lifted herself and ran from the building.
Vinyl stood defensively for a moment after hearing the lower door open and slam shut once more. Her mind came back to focus, it wasn't a preferred method to use against one she had just met, but no pony was going to hurt her newest friend, they would talk when Scootaloo was ready, and not a day sooner. Seeing Dash so quickly would only confuse her further, and she didn't need to start blaming herself so young. Vinyl lifted the bag and trotted back to her apartment where the filly was waiting patiently for their breakfast. She would be sure to tell Scootaloo the less violent bits of the encounter when the time was right. For now, the filly needed her space.
In one of the small parks that dotted Manehatten Vinyl lay lazily in the grass, looking upward through the dark rimmed glasses into the sky. Above her Scootaloo was beginning to practice her flying once more. Without a focused drive her progress had slowed but she was comfortable with it. For her size she was a very strong flyer, although not as fast as she would like her newly developed wings served to help her gain altitude greatly. She loved flying high; it made her feel that she was for a small moment in time above her problems. The past few days were life changing to say the least; it was good to feel freedom like this.
Vinyl watched patiently as the filly danced about in the air, being a party pony for a good portion of her previous few years meant days laying in the park while still conscious were rare at best. If it had only been a short time before it would be expected the only reason she was here was that she hadn't found any better place to sleep off a less than sober encounter with another pony who had long since departed. She laughed at the thought now, it was easier to just laugh anyway.
Watching Scootaloo still managed to fill her with a wide mixture of joys, the pegasus was her newest and only responsibility. Being no help as a flyer she was content to walk down the path of her own memories, careful not to look too deeply in some holes. Soon she heard a light thud at her side, shaking the DJ from her journey.
Lifting herself lazily from the ground she sat up to see who landed near her. Standing beside her was an friend she hadn't seen in years, before her party days took a turn for the worst she the two would regularly spend evenings hopping from club to club as Vinyl put on various performances there. Being well known ponies left the two closer, having the ability to fall back on someone you could trust came in handy many times. Of course as time would have it they found themselves split, Vinyl's problems began to surface with the loss of a trusting hoof. The sight now left her with mixed feelings, for some reason her week was just getting weirder and weirder. Motioning for the friend to have a seat in the cool grass she continued her skyward gaze with a content smile as the pegasus took a seat.
Scootaloo took no notice to the pair, focused on her own thoughts; Rainbow Dash was still managing to break into her mind. She tried to focus on her own abilities, only to be ripped back to her days spent watching Dash fly, they both loved the sky dearly, every pegasus did in a way, but for Dash it was something different. The sky was an extension of her, Scootaloo had seen it many times and has since tried to imitate it to no avail, truly no pony could fly like her former idol. Tired, she floated to the single, lazy cloud hovering over the park, somehow missed by the weather team of the city. Taking a place safely on it she looked to the ground below, the place she had been trapped for far too long. She could see Vinyl sitting below as she had been before, this time with a new pony at her side, deciding not to interrupt them she rolled back onto the soft cloud. As she rolled over much to her surprise she found a new guest at her side. A few feet away, eyeing her curiously was a dark blue pegasus stallion, his wings tucked in at his sides as two massive bulbs of dark feather.
"Oh, hey um, sorry if this was your cloud. I didn't see you there." she started; he lifted a hoof and gave her a reassuring smile.
"Don't worry about it... Scootaloo is it?" he asked lowering his hoof.
"Yeah, how'd you know my name?" she looked him over, trying to remember if they had ever crossed paths before. He ignored the question out right.
"Still thinking about her?"
"How did you- No, I mean, who?" she stammered.
"I thought so, you know, it's not too late." he looked toward the forest at the edge of the city, barely visible from the cloud they shared. Scootaloo looked too but saw nothing out of the ordinary.
"What are you talking about?"
"You know Scootaloo, she needs you too." With this he lifted himself and spread his wings, they were double the size of any the filly had seen before, with a single beat his form was carried upward, safely off the cloud he turned and left, offering her no further explanation for his reasons for the conversation. She watched him depart, wondering what exactly had just happened; as left the cloud a small scrap of paper fell from a place under his wing and drifted downward. Without thinking Scootaloo lunged forward and caught it in her fore hoofs, nearly throwing herself off the cloud. Looking over the old paper she recognized it as one of her own drawings. On the page was a poorly made picture of Rainbow Dash, across it were discolored spots and a smear threatened to remove part of Dash's mane.
Scootaloo wondered why the strange pony had possessed the simple drawing, it wasn't special from the others, a simple mouth drawn image she did during school one day. Turning the page over she found it to unchanged outside of the wear of being tossed about. Grasping it in her mouth gently she slid off the cloud and landed beside the white unicorn and her friend and tucked the paper away in her wing. Getting a closer look her attention snapped to the pegasus mare. Spitfire herself was sitting in the grass having a conversation with the DJ. Noticing the filly approaching they turned to face her, ending their conversation.
"Hey kiddo, you must be Scootaloo. Man, you are a young one. And flying so quickly? I'm impressed."
Scootaloo's face lit up, 'A Wonderbolt is impressed with me!' she nearly screamed in her own head. Realizing she hadn't responded to the famous flyer she caught herself. "Really? You mean it?"
"Of course I do, you're quite the special one I hear. Equestria's next young best flyer maybe?"
"That's me!" she exclaimed hopping slightly in the air at the praise.
"Glad to hear it, I can't wait to see it." she grinned warmly at the filly.
Vinyl had her normal mad mare smile plastered across her face, although slightly worn looking. Scootaloo didn't notice. "Well, it was good to see you V, but I think I should get going."
"What? Yeah right, not getting away so easily this time oh feathered one." she flashed her grin at the pegasus and stood. "Besides I'm starving, let's eat." she began walking away for the remaining two pegasus who quickly moved to catch up.
Spitfire took pace just behind Scootaloo and looked the filly over. Her wings were larger than most at the young age, her flight feathers nearly fully developed already. It was an impressive sight, but what caught her eye amongst the orange coat and feathers was a section of white, poking from the back of the filly's wing, a partially visible head poking out, the rest concealed. She grinned to herself, the picture she recognized. Saying nothing she moved on, wondering how the filly had gotten ahold of it so soon.
Dash rocketed through the trees and down the road, coming to its mouth she tilted her wings and shot upward, her muscles began to burn as her energy dropped. She hadn't eaten a solid meal since her last encounter with the unicorn mare. Dash forced herself downward at a steady glide.
She finished the trip at a fraction of her previous speed on the ground kicking herself for being childish enough to waste her energy. The remainder of the trip would have to be on hoof, slowing her pace dramatically.
'First food, then Scootaloo, no prob. Guess I'll blame myself later' she reassured herself knowing it would be a long trip, but well worth it if she was able to make it up to the filly.
The remainder of the day had been spent on the ground, Rainbow Dash's energy was nearly at its limit by the time she entered the prominent inner-city. Once again she was surrounded by the hues of grey and red brick. Finding the younger pegasus hadn't been easy before, but at least this time she may be able to recall where Scootaloo was staying. Turning east she set off down the road; food could wait a little longer if it meant a head start.
* * * * *
A curtain of sunshine fell into the main room of the apartment, its rays shining through the narrow streets. One blade of the light crossed across Scootaloo's face, shaking her from another night of light sleep filled with dreams of Rainbow Dash and flying. She shook the fog from her head and reminisced momentarily at her dreams before they could fade further. Only moments later she head the shuffling of feathers and a yawn as the sun continued its path through the room, waking the larger fire maned pegasus guest. Vinyl was immune to the solar assault thanks to the dark sunglasses she had not removed since meeting the filly.
"Come on V, get up." Spitfire prodded at the white unicorn with a fore hoof to no avail. Letting out a defeated huff she casually walked out of the room, Scootaloo sat quietly on the couch.
Spitfire returned with a cup in her hoof, approaching the unicorn once more with it. Scootaloo watched in awe as the famed pegasus casually tipped the glass and it's cold contents came spilling out at the mare below's head, only to be stopped by a colorful barrier of magic. The cold water was formed into a floating ball by the energy.
"I knew you were faking it, lazy." Spitfire said to the DJ as she sat up.
"Hey, with your snoring who's to say I don't deserve a little extra time." she casually replied, sipping casually from the captured liquid sphere. The older pegasus rolled her eyes and gave Scootaloo a smile, noticing the filly was fully awake.
"Rough night?" she asked, noticing the way Scootaloo seemed lost in thought, at the question the latter simply turned and looked out the window briefly, Lost in thoughts of the past week. Spitfire nodded and left the filly to her thoughts.
‘They’re so alike they don’t even see it’ she thought to herself remembering the way Rainbow Dash could slip into thoughts with the same blank expression. Ending up in Vinyl’s apartment again was something the flame pegasus hadn’t expected a few days ago but was happy to oblige. Finding her lost recuit in the mean time was bonus on its own. ‘I’ll have to remember to thank the pony who tipped me off later’.
Scootaloo continued to stare blankly at the window, the street below was beginning to fill with ponies going about their daily lives, busy and content they marched through the streets. She watched them for a short while before returning to the remnants of her dreams, a Rainbow mane and a cerulean blue sky.
The mismatched trio of ponies continued their journey through the busy city, having no current duties the group was free to wonder aimlessly to their will. Scootaloo has since grown used to the freedom as well as Vinyl's tendency to take the most random path possible through the city, deciding it was best to simply keep pace with Spitfire who was better able to read the DJ.
"Um, hey Spitfire..." Scootaloo looked up at the Wonderbolt as they walked. Vinyl continued to not notice and nod her head to the beat that escaped the ears of the others.
"I’ve been thinking, do you think you can do me a favor?"
Spitfire turned her head to the filly. "Sure thing, what do you need?"
"Do you think you could help Rainbow Dash? She really wants to be a Wonderbolt."
"Really?" she thought it over. "Thats a big request for you, and you want her to make it? Even after all this?"
"Yeah, well... I think so. It's what she always really wanted, and now I won't get in her way." she spoke softly as she thought more deeply about the answer she gave. Spitfire extended a wing over the orange pegasus.
"Is that what you think?"
"I think so." suddenly unsure of herself.
"Well what if I told you she already made it in?"
Scootaloo looked quickly to the older mare. "So she's going to be a Wonderbolt?" she asked excitedly, quickly regaining her composure.
"Well, not exactly" Spitfire began. "She didn't show up for training." she watched the foal's expression change as the message made its way to her.
"What? Why? It's all she ever talked about."
"For you..." a new voice said from behind them. The group stopped and turned to face the direction it had come from. Standing behind them was a disheveled Rainbow Dash, clearly exhausted as her mane was swept in various directions and her ruby eyes were outlined by dark circles and heavy lids. Her face wore an expression of contentment with finally finding the younger, former fan.
Scootaloo froze at the sight, trying to piece the last words she had heard together. She turned to look at Spitfire who only smiled back down at her, "I think you two need to talk, we'll be back." before an argumant could be made she turned and walked off with Vinyl, the DJ watching cautiously back through the dark lenses of her glasses.
The two pegasus ponies stood in an uncomfortable silence for a short while,
Scootaloo shifted awkwardly. Rainbow Dash was the first to break the silence.
"I'm... I'm really sorry."
"You gave up the Wonderbolts?" the filly's mind was still trapped in the loop.
It didn't seem to make sense to her.
"I had to come get you."
Scootaloo stood motionless, staring down the rainbow pegasus with glass eyes offering a painful stare, Dash had to look away. "You... I don't..." the filly stumbled through her thoughts as the scene sank in. Finally she took in a breath and steadied her nerves. "I'm sorry too. I guess I overreacted a little... Or a lot."
"It's ok squirt, you did what I would have really, but better. I wouldn't have lasted a day out here."
"So you don't want me gone?" she offered.
"What? No, never! Listen, I didn't know, I was acting like a feather brain. And I do now, you can come home, back to your friends, your life. I'll be there now."
Scootaloo looked back in the direction of Spitfire and Vinyl who were talking out of earshot, Vinyl was attempting to watch Scootaloo her face bore a crestfallen expression. Though no pony could see it, the eyes hidden behind the dark lenses were welling up with tears at the thought of losing her newest friend so soon.
"I can't..." she dropped her gaze. "I can't go back with you."
Rainbow Dash looked in the direction of the other mares. The air took on a sudden icy bite causing Dash to shiver, her mane felt like it had lost its bright luminescence. "Oh yeah, I forgot."
"Vinyl has been helping me out a ton. I can't just leave."
"But what about your old friends? Everypony is worried about you."
Scootaloo let out a frustrated huff. 'Why does this have to be so hard!' she nearly screamed in her mind. "Just... Just wait here a sec." with that the orange filly buzzed over to the other mares. Rainbow Dash waited impatiently as they talked, Scootaloo appeared to be asking each one a flurry of questions which received mixed nods and inaudible responses. Toward the end Dash noticed the white DJ watching her closely, her sunglasses giving no positive read of emotion. Dash stared back but made no effort to move or question it as the younger Pegasus continued talking. She could only wait for Scootaloo to return for a proper explanation, for now, waiting was the only option once again.
Rainbow Dash was standing on the sidewalk of one of Manehatten's busy streets; all around her were a variety of ponies going about their daily lives. A short distance away an orange filly was consulting with a yellow Pegasus mare and a white unicorn DJ over matters that Dash desperately wished to hear. Not wanting to cause more problems than she had already Rainbow Dash stood in her place and watched with determined eyes for any clue as to the conversation at hoof within the trio. Having been urged by the fire pegasus to return to the city a short while ago Rainbow Dash was hoping the famous flier would help her.
Occasionally the DJ would turn to face Dash with differing emotion; Rainbow was pretending not to notice at this point, hoping she could sway decision in her favor by not drawing unwanted attention. Still, exactly what was happening behind those dark lenses was more valuable to her now than anything in Equestria.
Finally her attention was peaked as Spitfire's gaze found Dash's eyes, unsure of whether she was simply being optimistic at this point she took the expression given as pleased. It may have been the first bit of good news she received. The filly turned around and the pair of older ponies followed close behind. Spitfire still with a look of content and Vinyl with a stoic expression Dash wouldn't attempt to decode for fear of permanent mental scarring.
Spitfire was the first of them to speak. "I think we should head inside. We have a lot to talk about."
"Agreed" Dash responded shakily, in all honesty she was simply happy to be off of the street.
Safely inside Vinyl's apartment Dash attempted to allow herself to relax, ensure her mind that everything would be ok, it wasn't working. She instead took to gazing around the apartment, small and obviously packed with their sleeping arrangements she took a spot on the couch. It looked to be only a few rooms, one of which she caught the glimpse of a bed in,
'Must be Vinyl's room' she thought to herself to distract her rapidly advancing fears. Looking away from the room she caught sight of a record lodged firmly in the wall. Lying on the table near her was a familiar picture of herself. She wondered for a moment how it had gotten into the apartment and considered reaching for it and deciding to stay still. Her attention was brought away from the embedded disk and drawing back to the assorted ponies around her.
"Ok, we're here. So what's going on?" she started.
Scootaloo sighed and shifted in her seat to face Dash, once her hero, who she regarded as above every other pony in Equestria that had fallen so quickly from grace. "Well... I um," she looked across to Spitfire who simply nodded her on. "I'm going back to Ponyville." she stopped and waited for a response from the assorted mares. Dash felt her fears deflate with the decision.
"Really? That's great!" Rainbow Dash said a little too enthusiastically, calming down at the looks of the others.
"Wait wait, that's not it." Scootaloo continued, not wanting Dash to take her response incorrectly. "I'm coming back... with Vinyl."
"W-what?" Dash's heart sank and she dropped her head. Mentally kicking herself for being so foalish. She could feel her defeat. The DJ perked up at the news, having not paid much attention to the debate outside. She kept her face still but behind her glasses she carefully eyed the filly with unrivaled joy.
"No its n- Dash?" Scootaloo cut herself off seeing the state of the blue mare. "Are you, crying?" she leaned in for a better look at the strong athlete.
"No, Jus- no, crying? Me? Please, I don't cry" her words faded out and she kept her head low, wiping the fresh onslaught of tears away. "Crying is not my thing. I'm jus-" Scootaloo wrapped her in a full embrace. Dash gladly returned the gesture, her will broke and the tears escaped her hold. She found herself crying against the filly unintentionally wetting part of the purple mane. "Don't abandon me" she said quietly to the young fan who pushed herself back to look at Rainbow Dash at arm’s length.
"What? I'd never do that. Just listen." she got back to her seat and attempted to wipe her coat partially dry. "Spitfire, I think you should tell her."
The fire pegasus nodded and faced Dash who looked up confused. "Scootaloo came up with a nice plan, smart foal really. So here, if you're up for it you come back with me and train with the others, Scootaloo will stay with V in a little place in ponyville and you'll be a Wonderbolt. See?" she smiled at the filly for making the suggestion.
"You mean it?" she looked at the ponies in the room who were all smiling contently. Even Vinyl wore her traditional mad-mare grin. "Well, that sounds great."
"Awesome, then it's settled!" Spitfire called out happily.
"It sounds great, but no thanks." Dash added, earning a mixed look from the rest. She turned to face Scootaloo. "Listen, I missed enough with you already. You're already flying, I should have been there the first time, I'm sorry. I won't miss it again, I'm going to be there this time." she sat up, her confidence slowly returning. "Besides, the Wonderbolts will be there next year."
"Are you sure?" Spitfire asked.
"Deffinately," Dash turned to face the unicorn. "Hey, thanks for taking care of her... and I'm sorry." The DJ smiled, her own tears began to fall from her control as she looked from Rainbow Dash to Scootaloo.
Scootaloo hugged Dash before trotting over and doing the same for the remaining guests. "I can't believe it, this is so cool!"
Rainbow Dash stood from her seat. "So, I think it's time we head home. I really need a bath."
"Use mine," The white mare finally speaking after her lengthy silence. "I'm starving so hurry up and let’s eat." she wrapped a hoof around Scootaloo and pulled her close. "Then we'll go home, sound good?"
"Sounds great!" the filly agreed, hugging her friend tightly.
What's a MLP:FiM Story without a letter to the princess? So here we have Rainbow Dash's friendship report after her very interesting week. Thank you all again for reading!
Dear Princess Celestia,
Heroes are a very special type of friend, a pony that will always be there for somepony else, no matter what. If somepony looks up to you it is best to be there when they need you, and not let the attention go to your head. When somepony needs your help but is too afraid to ask for it a real hero will step up and take care of them without question.
I almost lost a very important friend this week, but thanks to our friends I was able to make things right and even help somepony else too! I also learned that just because you're down or sad, there's always somewhere lower to go, somewhere that takes true heroes to get you out.
In all, it's best to just be around when somepony needs your help. When your own desire gets in the way you have to choose whats best for everypony, even if it means putting what you want aside. I may have lost another year or so in the Wonderbolts, but I gained a lifetime in friendship. And in the end, that's what's really important.
Your Loyal Subject,