Chapter 1: Morning Pursuit
Her eyes snapped open. The five ponies surrounded her, looking confused.
"Is she dead?" Pinkie Pie asked.
Rainbow Dash blinked. Her friends seemed to take no notice.
"Yep." Applejack said dismissively. "She's dead. We probably oughta...I don't know...bury her or something."
The others shrugged. "I guess." Rarity yawned.
Rainbow Dash tried to move, to alert her friends that she was very much alive. She tried to speak.
Her voice strained. She could not make a sound.
Her arms couldn't move either. She tried kicking. Nothing happened.
"I'll get the shovel." Twilight said. She used her magic to levitate a shovel over to them.
Fluttershy sighed. "Well, she always was a bit of a jerk."
The others nodded in agreement.
Rainbow Dash's heart rate was jacked. She turned to her wings now. Her mighty wings.
But the flexing of her wing muscles gathered no response.
The others began digging up dirt. They shoveled it onto Rainbow's body.
She tried to cry out. To scream. But no sound left her throat.
Applejack removed her hat as they finished burying her.
"You're no good to anypony now RD."
Rainbow Dash woke up screaming. She looked around her dark bedroom.
She was in her cloud home, hovering above Ponyville.
She cupped a hoof over her mouth to stop screaming. Mustn't wake the filly.
She rolled out of bed and stumbled to the bathroom. Her hooves slipped around on the soft floor.
As she turned on the lights, she frowned, trying to think of a reason why she had stopped herself from screaming.
Five years had passed since the Discord incident. Scootaloo had moved out almost three years ago. The foster home had been rebuilt, and the laws of Equestria had forced Rainbow Dash to give up custody of her.
She lived alone again. In a way, it was a relief. Sharing a home with a filly was stressful in any scenario. With Scootaloo, stress was a constant. She had always been so boisterous. Always so confident. Always pestering Rainbow Dash on flying tips, and how to perfect her technique.
Not that Rainbow Dash had a problem with this, mind you. To be asked tips on how to perfect flying techniques affirmed her lovably uncontrolled ego. But they had grown apart over the years.
She turned on the sink and splashed water onto her face and onto her mane.
She took a moment to look at herself in the mirror.
She was a wreck. She was shaking. That dream had gotten to her. That feeling. Being unable to move. Feeling helpless. Something Rainbow Dash was extremely unaccustomed to.
Useless. That's what Applejack called her. Of course, that wasn't true. Was it? Twilight had always said dreams had special meanings. What meaning did this have? Was she really no use to anypony?
She smirked at her reflection.
"Nah. Everypony needs some of this!" She flexed her wings.
The dream had worn a nerve. But that nerve was being slowly replenished.
And another thought brought a smile to her face. Tomorrow was her birthday. She would turn 27. A party thrown by Pinkie Pie was a guarantee.
But beyond that, tomorrow was her grand debut. No reason to stress over dreams with such a grand day coming.
She slowly trotted back to her room, determined to get more sleep. She peeked in the closet.
She saw the tattered Wonderbolts flight suit of her father. But next to it was a new one.
A shiny one. One with her cutie mark embroidered on the side.
She yawned, then curled up in bed and returned to the dream world.
Rainbow slept late into the next morning. As per custom. She hadn't woken up early in years. It was better that way.
And most ponies knew better than to disturb her during sleep.
But this morning, there was a knock at the door. Rainbow opened an eye, then waved her hoof in dismissal. Sleep was the preferred course of action.
The door opened. Rainbow had already nodded off.
Small hooves soundlessly glided over clouds. Only the slight flitter of wings interrupted the soundless air.
Rainbow Dash curled back up into her blankets. The sun was already high in the sky. But this was irrelevant. More sleep was always needed.
Suddenly, the blankets were ripped away. She felt herself being dragged off the bed.
She let out a startled yelp and looked around. Somepony had latched onto her tail.
The familiar orange pegasus drew a frustrated grin from Rainbow Dash.
"Couldn't you just knock squirt?"
Scootaloo smirked, releasing her tail. "Tried that. You never answer RD."
Rainbow looked up at the filly. Filly was the wrong word. Mare.
She was big now. Close to fully grown. And she was a heck of a competitor. She was one of the most feared athletes at Cloudsdale Flight School.
And this made Rainbow proud. Though she was not one to admit such a thing easily.
"So what is it then?" Rainbow asked.
Scootaloo shrugged. "Nothing. Just felt like stopping by."
Rainbow glared at her. She had interrupted her sleep. To "stop by."
"Kid, you have ten seconds to get out of my house." She got up out of bed. "And then I'm gonna chase you."
Scootaloo sat at the foot of the bed. Her face said it all. That daring smile.
That competitive smile.
"10. 9. 8..."
Scootaloo wouldn't budge. Rainbow arched an eyebrow.
"You're playing with fire kid. You're gonna get burned."
Scootaloo shrugged. "5. 4. 3..."
The orange pegasus casually stretched her wings.
Scootaloo was off in a flash. Rainbow was right behind her.
They blasted through the front door and tore downwards towards Ponyville.
Rainbow tucked in her wings, letting the momentum take her. She didn't need her wings to catch this kid.
Suddenly she lifted upwards, towards Cloudsdale. The move caught Rainbow off guard. She quickly flitted out her wings and got back on her tail.
They began to climb. Cloudsdale was a good thousand feet above them. Rainbow was closing on Scootaloo. She looked back and smirked.
Then, swift as a fighter jet, she rolled off her flight path. A move meant to confuse. A move intended for misdirection.
But Rainbow was no scrub. She played the move perfectly, and continued closing on her younger friend.
"Give up Scoots. You won't be able to get away."
"Watch me!" Scootaloo shouted back. They had reached Cloudsdale. The bustling cloud based metropolis. Both were quite familiar with the city.
This would be an admirable chase, Rainbow thought. They tore towards the large buildings at the center of the city. They weaved in between other ponies slowly commuting to work.
Rainbow Dash could feel the g forces tearing at her coat and she maneuvered tight turns around ponies and buildings. Scootaloo was not the fastest. But by Celestia, was she agile.
"Sorry!" Scootaloo shouted as she shoved a commuting pegasus out of her way. She ducked down a side alley .
Rainbow was already waiting at the other end. Scootaloo let out a shocked gasp, and used her wings as an airbrake to halt her momentum. Then she shifted direction and flew out into the daylight. Rainbow followed.
Scootaloo's agility once again came into play. Rainbow was still very agile. But size always came into factor when agility was required. And the smaller, nimbler Scootaloo could turn on a dime.
But she could never really shake her rainbow colored competitor. She flew in between a pair of columns. Rainbow had to go around.
This gave the orange pegasus some breathing room. But not for long.
Rainbow had the downward momentum again. She blasted towards the ground, rapidly closing in.
Scootaloo looked back. For the first time in the chase, she looked truly afraid. She had tried everything. And she still couldn't shake Rainbow.
Rainbow smiled at her. At first it was reassuring. Then that predatorial glint in her eye gave her away. Scootaloo was going to pay for waking her up early.
The young pegasi's wings seemed to give out all of the sudden. She was panicking.
Rainbow saw this. She sped up, forcing as much energy as she could into her wings.
Scootaloo barely had time to cry out. Rainbow Dash swooped in and grabbed her, inches from the ground. She touched down gently, and let go of the teenage pegasus.
Then came the punishment. The noogie. Rainbow pulled Scootaloo into her grasp and rubbed her mane as hard as could be done without hurting her.
"You never wake a sleeping pegasus!" Rainbow shouted. Scootaloo giggled as she released her.
"Sorry RD. But you really needed to wake up. Got you something." She reached into her saddlebag and brought out a carefully wrapped package.
She tossed it to Rainbow. "Happy birthday."
Rainbow Dash caught the present in her teeth and looked at the grinning Scootaloo.
"You are a little rascal aren't you?" Rainbow said, tearing open the package.
She was slightly stunned by what she found inside. Her goggles. The ones she had given Scootaloo as a gift all those years ago. The Wonderbolt goggles passed down from Lightning Dash, her father.
"Squirt. These were for you..."
"Rainbow, they don't fit me anymore." Scootaloo said. "And I figured, you know...with your performance tonight, you might need a good luck charm."
Rainbow shook her head and hugged the youngster. She could almost feel the pegasi's face glow. She still loved getting hugs from her hero.
"I've never needed good luck squirt."
Scootaloo seemed to scoff at this. Rainbow paid it no mind.
"So what was the point of flying away Scoots? You know I'll always catch you."
Scootaloo shrugged. "Oh me? I was just the bait."
Rainbow arched an eyebrow. "The bait?"
Scootaloo nodded. "Everypony?"
It was an ambush. Pegasi, Earth ponies, and Unicorns popped up from all around. Twilight, Rarity, Fluttershy, Applejack, adn Pinkie Pie were, of course, among them.
"HAPPY BIRTHDAY RAINBOW DASH!"