Piercing the Heavens
By: Calm Wind
The elite Wonderbolts each lead their single file line of cadets out of the station and into the streets of Canterlot’s high end district. Soarin and Fleetfoot flew above to make sure all the cadets moved in an orderly fashion, and that no fights broke out.
Soarin remembered last year’s recruitment drive well. While there weren’t even half as many ponies as there were here, he had to break up three fights, all between stallions of course. While mares also showed disdain for each other, it tended to be more of a silent fury and full of cheap shots as opposed to full out brawling like the stallions. Competition ran extremely high during this annual event, and more often than not, it would start before they even reached the compound.
This year however, it seemed like everypony was behaving themselves. Perhaps the prospect of being let directly into the elite squads kept them calm. This was a golden opportunity, and none of them were willing to put their chances in danger. They understood that gaining the favor of the lead squad would not be easy. Causing problems would make a cadet instantly disregarded for sure.
Spitfire had a keen eye on all of them from the get-go, as did Soarin and Fleetfoot. Everything would be taken into account.
Although while Soarin was supposed to be keeping his full attention on the cadets below, he kept stealing glances towards Dash every time he passed. This sucked. She was right there and he couldn’t even say hello. He hoped she wasn’t having as hard a time as him.
Dash’s eyes widened as the whole gang came to a stop a few blocks from the compound. A whole other group of ponies filed in behind her, her friends, and Matteo. It was the Canterlot cadets. There were effectively three hundred ponies here at least. The tryouts were only supposed to last a few days!
Dash also knew a little bit about the Wonderbolt recruit squads. There were currently seven of them. The Wonderbolts never had more than ten recruit squads. Whenever they recruited, they accepted only twenty recruits, which got shaved down during the first month of training. The last five left officially became part of the Wonderbolts in a five pony squad that backed up the elite squads. The current recruits were sure to be trying out as well. They were safe, even if they didn’t get the elite spot they’d just be sent back to the recruit barracks. The three hundred or so new cadets didn’t have that luxury.
This meant that over the course of a few days, the Wonderbolts were going to send home around two hundred and seventy-nine of the ponies gathered here. Of the twenty-one left, one would be given the elite spot (unless it was taken by a recruit). Of the remaining twenty, fifteen would be sent home after more intense training, leaving only five.
Dash gulped as she did the math. There was a reason the Wonderbolts were such unbelievable flyers. Just getting in their lowest ranks was nigh impossible. Only the strongest and most unique flyers had even the slightest chance.
With the group now as full as it was going to get, the Wonderbolts led them down the last few blocks until they finally reached the Wonderbolt compound.
It just as awesome as Dash remembered it. It only seemed like yesterday she was here taking part in a training day and getting to know the Wonderbolts much more closely than most others. She’d never forget those days, but this was no time to reminisce. They were filed into the lobby in a fast, orderly manner.
They stayed in their lines as they were led up to what looked like small ticket dispensers that had been rolled in. The members of squad one, two, and three were all handed small clipboards and directed each of their lines to a dispenser. After molding into the crowd from Canterlot, Dash, Thunderlane, Derpy, and Bulk had formed the front of the line behind Spitfire. Matteo had been pulled into the line following Fleetfoot, but they didn’t exactly lose him. It was hard to miss him from anywhere, being a tank…and a griffon on top of that.
“Listen up!” Spitfire’s voice echoed into the corners of the lobby as she leapt up into the air again. “Everypony stay in line! We’re going to hand out bunk assignments in our recruit barracks! After you get your number, go through these doors behind me!” she motioned to a large set of multiple doors that were on the opposite side of the main entrance.
Dash had been down the long hallways to the left and right, which lead to all the facilities, but she had never seen the recruit barracks. It was a smaller section of the building that extended out the back end of it, flanked by the combat dome on one side and the mess hall on the other.
“If you get there and you have no bed in your bunk spot, be patient dammit! We’re in the process of letting our staff, chefs, and maintenance crew all know how screwed they are!” she said with a straight face as Fleetfoot snickered below. “Get situated! Then use the rest of the day to figure out the compound! I don’t want anyone slowing us down tomorrow because they don’t know where the hell to go! We have enough problems to sort out as is! Lunch is at noon and dinner is at five!” Spitfire finished and dropped down in front of Dash and began fiddling with the ticket machine. Dash waited patiently as the front of their line, glancing over at Soarin, who was on the other side of Fleetfoot.
Her view was obstructed by Fleetfoot, but she got a closer look at Soarin now. She was still beyond confused by the horn, but forget whatever the hell the horn’s purpose was for now, she was taking in a view she hadn’t seen for a while. A sexy view. She bit her lower lip as her eyes ran over his face and down to his muscular body. He was wearing the spandex uniform, and as Dash remembered well from herself trying one on, they really put emphasis on the muscles, and boy did he have great muscles. Damn, she’d love to help him out of that uniform right now… slowly.
“Alright! First up!” Spitfire tapped the machine beside her as the other Wonderbolts began handing out the numbered tickets. Dash flinched and quickly looked straight forward at Spitfire. Spitfire was glaring at her, but it was a glare Dash had seen in the past. It was the business glare.
Be serious. Don’t act buddy-buddy. You’re a friend of hers elsewhere, but right now you are a cadet. Dash’s thoughts coached her as she took a deep breath and stepped forward. She looked directly at Spitfire, but didn’t say a word or smile. Spitfire pressed a button on the machine, a ticket with a blue number thirty-two on it popped out. She handed it to Dash, their hoofs clicking together as it was passed. Spitfire wrote something down on her clipboard beside her and made a head motion to start walking. Dash kept her poise and started moving.
“That’s more like it Dash.”
“Huh?” Dash stopped in her tracks. She glanced back at Spitfire.
“Next!” Spitfire yelled as Thunderlane approached her shakily. Dash blinked as she looked straight ahead. She definitely did not imagine it. A small smile curled on her lips as she trotted towards the barracks. This was Spitfire’s job. She had to be strict and run things with an iron hoof, but it didn’t mean she still wasn’t the kind, awesome mare Dash knew her to be.
“What the…” were the only words that escaped Dash’s lips as she stepped through the doors. It was a single hallway about twelve yards wide, painted completely blue like the rest of the damn compound, with three doors on each side about twenty yards apart each, and a dead end. This was nothing out of the ordinary. Dash figured the doors led to where the recruits stayed. There could be up to ten recruit squads, meaning probably two or three squads could occupy one room at a time if need be. Spitfire used the term “bunks” so Dash figured it could be at least ten to fifteen per room.
This wasn’t what had stopped her. The hallway was a warzone. Wonderbolt staff members were running everywhere, pulling bunk frames and mattresses out of closets and from other access hallways and scrambling to put them together. Bunks were being lined up along the walls of the main hallway outside of the rooms. The staff was yelling and screaming at each other, tempers were flaring, and Dash was sure she saw a pony deck another one with a swing of a mattress in frustration.
As Dash took a few steps in, a small pegasus stallion ducked beneath two staff members carrying a mattress, He was a mustard yellow color, with a short brown mane and matching short brown tail. He was a little smaller than Dash, and rather skinny. His cutie mark was three small blue gears attached together.
“Excuse me,” Dash tried to say something to him, but he was busy looking back at the two ponies he had just walked past. Dash was about to try again, but he ran square into her chest.
“Ah!” he squeaked and took a very fast step backwards. He stared slightly up at her with his yellow eyes, which shrunk upon him looking Dash up and down.
“I’m confused, what’s going on in…” Dash tried to ask, but he darted around her and escaped through the doors she just came through. “Uh… okay,” Dash looked back at the cacophony before her as a few more cadets including Thunderlane entered and joined her in her confusion. One of the staff members glanced at them.
“Son of a bitch, they’re already coming in! GET THOSE DAMN BEDS UP!” He yelled to the rest as the scrambling continued.
Ah, so that was it. There were so many recruits that they had to set up extra beds in the hallway. By the looks of things, this was going to be pretty cramped at first. The staff member who had just yelled trudged up to them, a look of pure annoyance plastered to his face.
“The number on your ticket will be taped to the wall next to your bunk ON THE RIGHT. Not the left, THE RIGHT. Go to your spot and wait if you don’t have a bunk. Just please, please, please stay the hell out of our way!” he turned, stopped, and glanced back. “And pass that back. I’m not explaining it again,” he disappeared into the carnage.
“Uh…” Dash glanced behind her as the group behind her grew. “Okay then!” she tried her best to avoid any moving bed frames and mattresses as she advanced into the hallway.
Dash found her bunk, luckily set up and ready to be used, about halfway down the hall with the door to the second room on the right a foot away to the bunk’s left. A large “32” was taped to the wall with blue duct tape to the right of the bed. She quickly slid out of the aisle in the center to avoid getting in the way and tossed her duffle bag onto the bottom bunk.
Under normal circumstances she would’ve gone right for the top, especially since she had such early dibs, but she went for the bottom. She was known for being a little twitchy when she slept, something Soarin knew well due to her accidentally “ringing his bells” one morning with a kick before she woke. She didn’t want to shift and slide out of bed. She couldn’t afford to have any bruises or soreness from something stupid like falling out of the top bunk.
Beside the bunk there was a simple nightstand with two large drawers. Obviously, these would be shared. The stand itself was about two feet wide, almost completely filling the mere three feet of space between the head of her bunk, and bunk number thirty-one. Dash opened the bottom drawer and unzipped her bag to unload the contents, which wasn’t very much. Flight goggles, toiletries, Daring Do and the Quest for the Sapphire Stone, and…
Dash slowly pulled out the framed picture of her and Soarin. A wave of quiet motivation rushed through her as her eyes scanned it. This was it, this was real, she was here and her dream was in her grasp. She looked back and forth to make sure nopony, ABSOLUTELY nopony could see her, before planting a small kiss on the picture over Soarin’s face.
This would have to be kept secret. The Wonderbolts were aware of their relationship, but the cadets didn’t need to know. She was sure at least one out of the three hundred or so here would try to use it against her in some way, shape, or form. She quickly lifted up the copy of Daring Do and slid the picture beneath it.
“You’ve gotta be kidding me! Both of you got this number!?”
Dash flinched and turned around quickly. The voice wasn’t directed at her, she looked through a few bed frames to her left as ponies kept filing in. Her eyes landed on Bulk Biceps and Matteo standing side by side, staring at one bunk, with a staff member looking at them incredulously. Beside them was a bed frame that was bent and falling apart, suggesting one of the two hulks had already tried it.
“Uh… yeah?” Bulk confirmed as he and Matteo held their tickets out for the staff to see. The pegasus smacked his face with his hoof while growling and pulling his face down.
“Is Rivet still in here?!” he yelled to the other workers. They all stopped briefly and looked around, all shaking their heads. “Dammit… somepony go tell him we need a very large bed frame… made with steel beams like the ones on the lobby ceiling!” A couple of laughs came from the workers as one of them trotted towards the entrance. “And tell him I’m not kidding!” he added before rushing off elsewhere. Through the whole exchange, Matteo just stared at the bed and grunted once or twice in annoyance.
Dash snickered at the ridiculous scenario. What were the odds of the two largest cadets getting the same bunk? She was sure there would be much more hilarity to come. This was going to make for some great stories to tell in the future.
“Like, move it!” a high, sassy voice came from Dash’s right as somepony forced her out of the way.
“Oof!” Dash grunted as she grabbed the bed frame with her wing to balance herself. A pure white pegasus mare with a straight, icy blue mane had just forced her way past Dash and tossed her bag up on the top bunk. It actually looked more like a large purse than a bag.
“Uh…” Dash cocked an eyebrow. The mare paused and turned to Dash. Her eyes were as ice blue as her mane, but she was wearing the most ridiculous fake eyelashes Dash had ever seen. They were almost longer than Rarity’s. “Hi, we must be bunkmates,” Dash forced a smile despite the rude entrance and held a hoof to her.
“Duh!” The mare rolled her eyes and opened the bottom drawer. She scoffed when she saw Dash’s stuff in it, slammed it shut and opened the top to stuff her things in. Dash scrunched her face.
“Um… I’m...” Dash tried to start again, but the mare turned quickly to her.
“I’m Arctic Blast, better remember that name, cause you’ll be seeing it in the newspapers real soon with the Wonderbolts!” she exclaimed right into Dash’s face. Dash stood still with her mouth hanging open and quite possibly one of the most disturbed faces she had ever mustered. Was this mare for real?
“Don’t care!” Arctic whisked her mane around, batting Dash in the face with it as she turned. Dash shook her face out and just stared in disbelief. Great, talk about luck of the draw for a bunkmate. She already saw the dilemma Bulk was in, but she hoped Derpy and Thunderlane at least had better luck.
Dash decided to not even try, and flopped down into her bed as Arctic continued to stuff things into the top drawer. So many beauty supplies… Did Rarity get a mane dye, lose her horn, grow wings, and become a MASSIVE bitch? Seriously Dash had never gotten a worse first impression from a pony before in her life.
Dash’s eyes widened as Arctic suddenly pulled out and unrolled a huge poster. Dash was well aware that the Elite Wonderbolts were featured in many athletic magazines. There was a particular magazine that did an annual “beach” photo shoot. Spitfire and Fleetfoot had been featured in the last one. Dash found it very amusing that Spitfire posed for a sexy sports photo. She probably found a reason to refer to it as “business.” Fleetfoot was no surprise at all. However this image on the wall was from this year’s issue, as the date in the corner suggested. It had been blown up to be poster sized… and it was a picture of Soarin.
Soarin was standing up from the water, little streams falling from over him, suggesting it had been taken as he was standing up. He wasn’t facing the camera, but looking off to the left, with his large, powerful wings spread out. The picture had to have been taken with a super-high definition camera, because you could see the individual droplets of water dripping from his wet mane and falling down his body.
Dash’s wings started twitching uncontrollably and her face felt hot. That body… oh, that body. His incredible muscles were all wet in high definition… Contain yourself Dash, no spontaneous explosions, there are others around! Her brain fought against her hormones, but seriously, she had to find this magazine now in case there was more of this eye candy.
“Hmmmmmmmm…” Dash was broken from her daze as she heard Arctic sigh dreamily at the poster. Arctic turned slightly and saw Dash’s full body reaction to the poster. “Hey!” she quickly flared her wings out to block Dash’s view of the poster. “Eyes off my stallion!” she huffed while glaring at Dash. Dash blinked multiple times.
“YOUR stallion?” she said with a sarcastic voice. Arctic completely missed the sarcasm as she turned sharply back to the poster and clasped her hooves together.
“He’s the sexiest, DREAMIEST stallion EVER! And he’ll be all mine when I become a Wonderbolt!” she nearly squealed as she spoke. Dash stared blankly for a few seconds.
“Pfffff,” Dash felt laughter building in her. Seriously? For real? This mare had no idea, absolutely no idea. Arctic turned to her in confusion as she heard Dash snickering.
“HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!” Dash burst out with uncontrollable laughter. Arctic continued to eye her, not a clue in the spacious brain of hers.
“Like, what are you laughing at?” she asked angrily. Dash finally calmed herself down.
“Hoooheeeehehehe,” she shook her head and took a breath. “Nothing, nothing at all. Just…” Dash glanced up at the sexy poster of her stallion and snickered again. “Good luck with that!” Dash gave a fake salute and rested her hooves behind her head while laying back, a huge smile plastered to her face.
“Psh, weirdo,” Arctic went back to admiring “her” stallion.
Dash wanted so badly to burst this bitch’s bubble something fierce, but she had just decided to keep it under wraps for her own sake. She wasn’t going to go back on that so quickly. One thing was for certain however, she was going to get tired of this bunkmate of hers real fast. With any luck she and her sass would be gone after the first cut. Maybe Dash would try to swipe the poster and hide it before that happened.
This was shaping up to be an interesting experience… and so far all Dash had done was get assigned a bed.
---To be Continued---