Lying on a lush tuft of grass, Rainbow Dash stared up into the clear blue sky. No rain had been scheduled for that day, or for any day during the previous week – it had been a beautiful long stretch of cloudless hours under the warm Equestrian sun in Ponyville. Even now only the faintest white tufts of clouds blemished the big blue up above.
Rainbow let her head fall back onto the soft grass, and felt its green blades tickle the sides of her face. Her eyelids were heavy, but it was a slow, drowsy kind of heavy that made her want to just lie there and watch the world for a while instead of simply drifting off to sleep. She usually napped at this time of day, and as she looked out once more at the sky, realised how much she'd forgotten what it looked like in the bright pleasantness of the mid-afternoon.
Her attention turned to the wispy white clouds, of which she counted four, drifting through the sky almost unnoticed in their faint, unassuming way. One of the clouds had two trails coming off it near the bottom and the left edge, and if Dash squinted her eyes just right, she could almost imagine that Fluttershy were that cloud, airily floating through life unnoticed. The other three, a small fluffy one, a large airy one and another that sat in between, she imagined could be Fluttershy's animal friends... a rabbit, perhaps, and a beaver, and maybe a dog.
The clouds drifted through the sky, and Dash almost thought she could see the Fluttershy cloud gently moving its head side-to-side. She imagined Fluttershy humming a tune as she shepherded her animals on, probably to feed them or to give them a bath or maybe to hug them a bunch of times... whatever it was that made Fluttershy spend so much time caring for her little critters.
One of the clouds started expanding, slowly becoming larger and fainter. Dash imagined Fluttershy taking care of a bear cub, or some other creature that was born a small, reasonable size but ballooned with age and adulthood.
Dash was not a pony often given to meditation, but she was also a pony who would usually rather fall asleep than lie half-awake, staring at nothing. Something was different that day, and so she found herself thinking about what it must be like to be that cloud, that Fluttershy, drifting along almost unnoticed, save by a few similar drifters.
What must that life be like, living as a faint, fleeting white spot on a vast background of blue? Caring not as much for your own self as you cared for and nurtured others... others who, like you, would live unnoticed and eventually fade into the scenery completely, becoming one with the expanse as if they'd never been.
She had a hard time imagining it. Rainbow Dash, Equestria's self-proclaimed best flier, was all about proving herself and standing out from the background. If she were a cloud, she'd be a storm cloud, and not just any old drab-coloured rainmaker! No, she'd be a big, thundering storm cloud that you heard long before seeing – one that zapped lightning everywhere and made ponies stand up and take notice... and then maybe did a barrel roll, or a Sonic Lightningboom!
The cloud would whizz around Equestria, causing storms wherever it went, and ponies would know that cloud's name – or they'd give it a name, because it was a cloud, and then they'd call it by that name in hushed tones and with righteous fear in their hearts. It'd be all over the newspapers, and thrillseekers and scientists from all around the world would come in search of it, hoping to tame or to understand its wild ways and powerful energy.
In her mind's eye, Rainbow Dash saw that great storm cloud of hers roll into the clear blue sky, buzzing with lightning and roaring with thunder. She heard the screams of ponies, and the awed, reverent exclamations of braver ponies, but only she, Rainbow Dash, was brave enough face the savage hive of rolling thunder and flickering lightning.
She saw herself spring to her hooves and take off in a colourful blur, zooming towards the cloud with a confident expression, a clear head, and no plan but to assert the age-old dominance of pegasus pony over weather. No matter how unruly the storm, her ancestors had proven their might against it and taken their rightful place as masters of the atmosphere.
The cloud grew in size and ferocity as Dash drew near to it, and soon all she could see was its swirling grey mass and the currents of lightning that snapped and cracked across it. Her coat and mane felt damp, and deep in her heart, she felt a pang of fear.
But just as she was at her most uncertain, Dash saw a tiny pinprick of light ahead of her. With a mighty flap of her wings, she burst forward, impacting the swirling surface of the cloud, and blasting through it to the clear blue sky on the other side.
Dash looked back, and saw the ground below through a gaping hole in the cloud. A thunderous howl echoed from the wounded beast, and her uncertainty dissolved.
Fearlessly she zipped through the cloud, punching a hole right in its middle and shaking off the water vapour on her coat before turning tail and heading back for more. Lightning flashed all around her, and thunder threatened to deafen her, but she was unafraid. Quickly, ruthlessly, methodically, she punched the cloud up, dispersing it into loose strands of grey fluff that soon dissolved in a last, desperate flicker of lightning, and a soft whimper of thunder.
Rainbow Dash looked around the sky – around her sky, for she was a pegasus – and in her triumph saw that it was empty. No clouds blemished the blue expanse of her total victory. The black cloud, so violent, so menacing and important while it still roamed the skies, had been wiped away, and if anypony just born were to look up into the sky for the first time right just then, she would never have been able to tell that the great menacing beast had ever existed.
But what of the small, wispy things that had been there before, attempting to slip by unnoticed? Rainbow Dash had quite forgotten about Fluttershy and her animals in all the excitement.
The wind whipped up, and Dash felt its cold touch running through her mane. She opened her eyes and saw that the wispy little clouds had vanished – slipping away from her sight as unnoticed as they'd slipped into it. The sky was empty, save for the tiniest speck of white in the corner of her eye. She blinked, and that too was gone.