"We don't want you here!"
"Yeah, get out of town!"
"My son will never fly again because of you!" The threats and protest poured down like rain upon the single pegasus stallion in the center of the throng, his head bowed low and limbs shaking. He was much larger than all the pegasi around him due to his birth father being an earth pony, with a charcoal black coat and a slate gray mane with several streaks of electric yellow traced through it. He glanced at his flank with loathing, a tornado surrounded by lightning having appeared just yesterday as his cutie mark. His yellow eyes spied his parents standing on the balcony of their mansion, his adoptive father staring down at the scene in disdain.
"See what your fooling around has brought us. I told you he'd be nothing but trouble," Proud Skies muttered, glancing across at his wife Flying Grace, who said nothing. "Storm Blitz, come here now!" he shouted, his voice rising over the crowd. Storm quickly spread his wings and flew to the balcony, hoping against hope to find comfort but receiving only scorn. "Get inside," his father growled, barely resisting the urge to beat him then and there. Storm knew all too well that there was no way to undo the mess, and the consequences were going to be severe. His father took one last look at the crowd before returning inside, his wife following him into a large furnished room on the third story. Storm was already waiting, sitting on the couch and not making eye contact with either of them.
"Do you have any idea what kind of situation you've put us in? Especially with elections coming so soon?" His mother's voice was wasn’t as harsh as his father's had been, her worry for her son only growing as Proud Skies walked towards Storm. Storm said nothing, continuing to stare at the floor. A sudden blow to his face caused his vision to blur as his father's hoof made solid connection with his jaw, something he had become accustomed to in recent years.
"You will speak when spoken to, do I make myself clear?"
"Yes sir," Storm replied, despondency creeping into his voice. His father’s fury was nothing compared to the guilt he felt for his actions, as four of his friends would likely never fly again. And while they didn't blame him, the rest of the town did; especially their families. His father began pacing, muttering under his breath and casting the occasional glare at Storm. Nothing was said for a good ten minutes, and with a scowl his father finally declared the verdict.
"Grab your saddlebag and anything else you'd like. You're leaving Cloudspire." Storm nodded and eagerly left the room, returning to the first floor and shutting the door to his room softly, not wanting to wake his sister who was hopefully still asleep in the next room over. “I can’t believe you ever convinced me to let let that bastard into my home,” Proud muttered before sweeping out of the room, leaving Grace to cope with her petty emotions alone.
Storm didn't have much to take; a ribbon he had won for exceptional cloud clearing, a picture of his grandfather, and a single letter he had received from his birth father. He heard his door crack open and he cringed, expecting Proud to tear into him again but hearing instead a soft and timid voice.
"Big brother? What are you doing? Why are mommy and daddy mad at you?" Storm slowly turned to face his three year old sister, her face full of concern.
"I'm leaving. I'm sorry, but it looks like somepony else will have to teach you to fly." His heart broke as she began to cry, her final words to him cutting him to the core and carving the words in deep.
"You liar! You promised me you would! I hate you!"
Storm woke with a start, blinking away the unwanted moisture in his eyes as the dream faded. Even now, five years later, the memories of his life in Cloudspire continued to haunt him. It was just before daybreak at Golden Feathers Retirement Home for Wonderbolts, where he had lived with his grandfather since that fateful night. The home was built atop a tall plateau, the high altitude and steep sides barring all but pegasi from entering. Residence was given only to retired Wonderbolts and Storm’s presence there was somewhat of an anomaly, due only to Proud Skies’ tremendous sway within the pegasi elite and his grandfather Lightning Wing’s fame.
As an ex-Wonderbolt, his grandfather garnered plenty of attention wherever he went, and longing to live out his years in peace had opted for the quiet of the home. He was still quite fit, and Storm had adjusted to a life of solitude, completing his school work from home and flying as little as possible. Even the attendants around the home gave him wide berth, his situation being well known to all; he had been formally disowned by the prestigious Proud Skies. Judging by the lighting outside, he figured he still had two or three hours left until he had to visit his grandfather. He pushed the memories down, and after a time fell asleep once more.
The frantic knocking on his door a seemingly short time later immediately alerted Storm that something was wrong. For anypony to make that level of noise was unheard of this early in the morning, and Storm quickly threw back the covers and opened the door, a rather dejected attendant refusing to meet his gaze.
"Storm Blitz, your grandfather has suffered a heart attack. He didn't make it, we're sorry."
"What? But how can that... I spoke to him yesterday, he can't just be dead!" The caretaker cringed as Storm's shouts woke many of the other ponies, an hour yet remaining before sunrise.
"I'm afraid I must also remind you that your lease here was only due to his influence and your father’s insistence. I'm sorry, but you're going to have to leave. This is your twenty four hour notice." Having said his piece, the attendant scampered off, grateful to no longer be standing near that lumbering giant of a pegasus. Storm's mind couldn't process the information, his grandfather being the one pony who treated him normally. He slowly turned and entered the room that was no longer his own, staring at the scene. He knew he would never be back, that he couldn't possibly hope to stay, and that he had nowhere to go.
In a fit of rage he slammed a hoof against a bookshelf, causing several books and a tattered envelope to fall from their place of rest. He ignored it and continued to vent his anger, pounding his pillow until the stuffing started to come out. To his chagrin he found a small stream coming from his eyes, and he quickly calmed himself, wiping it away and sitting on the edge of the bed.
"I never used to be like this..." he whispered to himself, realizing his anger would do nothing to help resolve the situation. He sat for a few minutes to collect himself, then grabbed his saddlebag and began to fill it with only the essentials. He had just finished when he again heard somepony at the door. He opened it slowly to find the caretaker from earlier standing beside a large box of his grandfather's things and uncomfortably shifting from hoof to hoof.
"Lightning Wing never wrote out a will, so these belong to you now. Anything you do not take with you will be donated towards maintaining the establishment." Storm looked down at the box, filled mostly with trophies his grandfather had won from races and stunt contests. He personally had no desire for any of it, but he wanted something to at least remember him by. He pulled it inside and began to sift through the contents, his eyes stopping two items in particular.
Storm blew dust from the cover of a rather loosely bound stack of papers bearing no title, cracking it open and glossing over the pages. It detailed every stunt that his grandfather had ever pulled off, complete with notes on how to perform them. Perhaps the most valuable section was a detailed glossier on how to train oneself to peak condition so as to not permanently cripple oneself attempting the stunts. Storm smiled as he recalled Lightning’s animated recounting of his exploits, often holding it like some hallowed tome as if to give a speech. Most of them required blinding speed and precision, something that he was renowned for worldwide and very few pegasi could ever hope to have match. Many pegasi had attempted to replicate the tricks, normally with disastrous results.
The other item was a medal Lightning never removed, displaying it proudly to anypony that happened to see. It nearly caused several riots the few times he had worn it outside the home, and thus he normally only received comments from the other retired Wonderbolts that were there. The ribbon attached was rainbow colored, and read "Wonderbolt of the Year: Lightning Wing." Lightning was often repeating tale of how he won first in every event that day, hence the rainbow ribbon, showing that he had prevailed in every event of the competition. He shoved both items into his saddlebag and was about to return to the bed when he saw the envelope that had fallen. He gingerly picked it up, the weathered paper being terribly frayed. He had read the letter many times, and a spark of hope came to him as he perused it, his eyes falling on one line in particular.
"You will always have a home in Ponyville."
After a bit of mad scrambling through his desk he whipped out a map of Equestria. He was at least a good two days of flight away, though it would likely take longer since he hadn't flown in months. Still, he had little money and thus going by train wasn't an option. He stuffed the map and the letter in his bag, strapped it to his back, and stepped outside. The sun's first rays were creeping over the horizon as he gave his wings a few experimental flaps and then took off, not knowing what to expect but having nothing left in the world to tie him to the now alien building behind him.
Five days later Storm Blitz reached Ponyville, on the brink of starvation and thoroughly dehydrated, and that's to say nothing of the body wide aches from alternating between running and flying. He hadn't stopped at any towns, eating only what he could find and drinking from whatever water sources were available. No water had graced his throat for at least a day, and black spots obscured his vision as he trudged on, aimlessly wandering towards town.
"Whoa, you're huge!" Storm stopped and looked around, seeing nopony. He shook his head, aggravating his headache and concluding that he was hearing things. A rumble from his stomach confirmed this assessment, and he again continued his march. "Hey, are you ok? You don't look so good." There was that voice again. He scanned his surroundings and again found no source for the voice, unless in the five days he had traveled rocks had mysteriously learned Equestrian. "Up here, above you!" Had he not been so completely thrashed from the journey, looking straight up would have been a simple task. However, as he raised his eyes and was immediately blinded by the noon sun, the full force of the fatigue came upon him and he tottered a moment before falling over. The black spots grew larger until they dominated his vision, his mind failing to comprehend the sound coming into his ears as he faded from consciousness.
Rainbow Dash quickly flew down and approached the pegasus. She was no doctor, but those cracked lips and swollen tongue were definitely not the signs of a healthy pony. The swelling around his ankles was also another indicator that this pony needed more help than she could give. She tried to lift him but failed, his weight feeling roughly like that of a cartload of bricks coated with lead and slathered in cement. She thought for a moment before racing off to the library, where she found a thoroughly disgruntled Cerulean firmly attached to the ceiling.
“What the hay? Cerulean, what are you doing up there?” Cerulean looked down from the book he had grabbed via magic and attempted to set it up, forgetting his inverted position and watching as it fell to the floor. Rainbow Dash watched it fall, staring at it a moment before stifling a laugh and turning back to Cerulean, who looked anything but amused. “Seriously, are you practicing new magic or something?”
“No, no I am not. I am being punished by a certain hormonal mare.” A groan from the second story backed his story, a very miserable looking Twilight descending the steps. Her sides were quite swollen, being five months into her pregnancy and not handling it well in the slightest. Her mood swings landed Cerulean in many strange and sometimes painful situations, her mind conjuring the most bizarre magical punishments imaginable. And then there were the cravings. Chocolate syrup and mustard toast? It couldn’t be healthy.
“Rainbow Dash, what do you need?” Twilight said weakly, forcing a smile despite her weakened condition.
"Some enormous black pegasus collapsed just outside of town. He needs to get to a doctor, but I can't lift him on my own. I was gonna ask if you could carry him with your magic, but somehow I doubt you can." Twilight shook her head, and Rainbow peered up at Cerulean. “Could I borrow him, then?”
“If he apologizes, sure.” Twilight looked up at him expectantly, tapping a hoof as she awaited his response.
“I didn’t do anything wrong!” he countered, heaving a sigh and staring back at Twilight who was in obvious disagreement.
“Dang Cerulean, what did you do?” Rainbow asked.
“I attempted to explain why it wasn’t logical to stick blueberry ice cream, lemon juice, wheat grass, onions, cayenne pepper and three sticks of butter into a blender and then proceed to chug it.” Rainbow let slip a small gag before turning to Twilight who was nodding miserably, her eyes reaching for sympathy.
“Twilight, that’s just gross. I’m sorry, but I gotta side with Cerulean on this one.” Twilight’s eyes filled with tears as she returned upstairs as quickly as her condition would allow, flopping into bed and continuing to wail.
“Fine, just take him and go!” Cerulean suddenly found himself flat on his back, his airless lungs boycotting their duties until he had learned his lesson. He took a moment or two to collect himself before following Rainbow Dash outside, thankful for a momentary reprieve from the insanity of the literary prison. As Storm came into view Cerulean broke into a run, eager to see him up close.
“Whoa, now that is a huge pegasus! Only two ponies I know that size are Quakehoof and Big Macintosh, and they’re both earth ponies. I wonder what this colt's excuse is?” Cerulean pondered as he tried to figure out a way to move him. “Hmmm, it would take a lot of magic to fly him, I wonder...” Cerulean closed his eyes and Rainbow Dash watched as he formed a pull cart entirely of ice, placing the usual enchantment on it so it could support Storm's weight. Together the managed to lift him into the back of the cart, though Cerulean had to summon and extend his wings greatly to even get Storm off the ground.
Rainbow Dash helped Cerulean pull the cart to Ponyville Clinic, where Nurse Redheart, along with four other attendants, moved him to a bed. Cerulean departed, knowing that any prolonged outing was bound to cause problems with a certain lavender antagonist. Rainbow Dash was allowed to enter after a time, being informed that he was just exhausted and in need of food and water as she entered. His legs were much more muscular than most pegasi, whereas his wings showed nothing but signs of neglect. She examined her own wings, which she kept well cared for and groomed, and wondered what could cause a pegasus to show such utter lack of respect for the gift of flight.
It was then that she noticed his saddlebag, laying at the edge of the bed. Rainbow Dash knew she had no right to go through his things, but an overwhelming sense of curiosity overcame her as she stared at the sack. A letter was poking out as if to taunt her, and she scowled at it fiercely a moment before giving in and gently pulling it out, scanning the area to make sure nopony was looking.
"To My Son Storm Blitz,
I wish I could see you, but Proud Skies has forbidden it. I had to beg for years just to have him agree to let you see this letter. I know you are probably going to enjoy the lavish lifestyle of a celebrity, what with your mother being married to one of Cloudspire’s most prominent politicians and herself being the daughter of Lightning Wing. But should anything ever occur and you need a place to stay, know that you will always have a home in Ponyville.
"His mother is the daughter of Lightning Wing?” she exclaimed, the sleeping stallion next to her fortunately taking no notice. “And Quakehoof has a son? With Lightning Wing’s daughter?" The revelation blew her mind, and she quickly made straight for his house, "borrowing" the letter and coming to a stop in front of a small one story apartment near the town centre. Rainbow Dash swallowed hard as the massive earth pony answered the door, his frame even larger than Big Macintosh and voice just as deep. His dark gray coat reminded her of rain clouds, and his wavy mane was a deep brown nearly black, falling just to the end of his neck. His earth colored irises met hers as he regarded the visitor with surprise.
"Can I help you, Miss Dash?" His well mannered response helped ease the tension slightly, though he was still a good neck and a half taller than her, and probably four times her weight at least.
"Uh... I know this is gonna sound kinda crazy, but I think your son is in town." The building shook as he stomped a hoof, staring Rainbow down with steely eyes.
"This had better not be one of your pranks, Rainbow Dash."
"No, I promise it's not!" she replied, shouting unintentionally as his boring gaze dug into her. "Here, look, this was in his bag." Quakehoof accepted the letter, handling it with care as he looked upon the words he had written so many years ago. Seeing a pony of that size cry would be disconcerting for anypony, and Rainbow Dash suddenly had the urge to take off as fast as her wings could carry her. This option was soon no longer available, as Quakehoof wrapped her in a massive bear hug, cutting off the flow of oxygen and causing her face to turn purple.
"Tell me, where is he?" He shot Rainbow an apologetic glance as she took a moment to let her lungs recover before she responded.
"He's at the Ponyville Clinic. Nurse Redheart said he was fine, just dehydrated and under fed." Quakehoof didn't wait to hear the rest of the explanation, taking off towards the clinic as fast as he could. Rainbow Dash took to the air and followed, thankful she wasn't running alongside him; each step he took left a crater and ponies were jumping out of the way even before he came near, the tremors alerting them of the incoming juggernaut. He slowed to a canter and they made their way into the clinic where Redheart quickly led them to Storm's room.
Quakehoof hesitated at the doorway, never having seen his son. It struck Rainbow as odd that someone as large as him would be scared of anything, though she quickly recalled her own fears at far sillier things, being interested in reading being the most recent. The vibrations in the floor as he drew near roused Storm from his slumber, and he looked around in confusion. The earth pony before him was massive, and the cyan pegasus mare beside him was much too young to be his wife. Daughter maybe?
"...Storm Blitz, is it really you?" Storm stared at the earth pony, his statement magnifying his already rapidly accelerating confusion.
"How do you know my name?" A low rumble began to build, turning into a room shaking laugh that frightened most everypony in the clinic. Storm found himself in a similar position as Rainbow Dash had been moments before as Quakehoof wrapped him in his arms, holding him tightly.
"Storm, it's me. Your father."