Luna versus Ponyville
Part 4: Cloudball
By Andrew J. Talon
- - - - - - - -
The cloud castle of Rainbow Dash was well designed, Luna noted, as she and Pinkie Pie approached on the latter’s pedal copter. Perfectly suited for stability in high winds and just enough magic to sustain it by directing the cloud formation around it.
“Okay, here we go!” Pinkie Pie said with a grin.
Luna observed their course towards the castle and frowned.
“Ah, Pinkie Pie, I do not believe that’s the best place for a landing,” she pointed out. “Or that this is a good speed for a landing either.”
“Landing?” Pinkie Pie asked. Luna blinked.
“Yes, returning safely to a solid surface.”
“Oh! Right! Um... I’ve never actually managed one of those.” Pinkie Pie grinned. “First time for everything, right?”
- - - - - - - -
Rainbow Dash was working at her desk, frowning thoughtfully at the stack of magically treated paperwork that sat on the sculpted cloud.
“Geez...” Dash huffed and leaned forward. She scowled at the stack, wishing it to vanish before her. “I can’t believe this... How could I have gotten so behind?”
A loud crash echoed through her home, and vibrations shook through the entire structure. Rainbow Dash was startled for a moment before she sighed with a wry smile on her face.
“Pinkie Pie,” she said dryly. She flew down and saw her pink friend struggling to get out of a cloud she’d become stuck in, headfirst, up to her belly. A midnight blue pony in glasses was trying to yank her out. “Huh? Who are you?”
“Mmph?” The pony asked, just as she got Pinkie Pie unstuck. “Ah...”
“Oh! Thank you Princess Lu-MMPH!” The midnight blue pony covered Pinkie Pie’s mouth with her hoof and gave Rainbow Dash a nervous smile.
“She meant Selene! Miss Selene! I’m very pleased to meet you and-Eep!” She withdrew her hoof quickly with a shocked expression as Pinkie Pie licked her lips thoughtfully.
“Oh! Yes! Miss Selene! That’s what I meant, not Princess Luna because I got confused between mythologies or something! Anyway, she’s here to-”
“You’re standing on the clouds,” Rainbow Dash said. “Did you get Twilight to cast that spell on you again?”
“... Yes! Yes she did!” Pinkie Pie said cheerfully. “Both of us!”
“... So why does a pegasus need that spell?” Rainbow Dash asked with a scowl. Selene blinked and looked over her shoulders while Pinkie Pie’s smile grew a tad strained.
- - - - - - - -
Oh no... How did this happen? Luna thought frantically. My illusion spell breaking down, this is ridiculous! It can only be disabled by hard... Impacts...
She shot a brief glare at Pinkie Pie, who shrugged apologetically. Luna mentally sighed.
Well, at least the whole thing wasn’t disabled, otherwise this might become awkward, she thought.
“Well she wanted to take a break and maybe act like an Earth pony who happens to require such a spell but doesn’t because maybe the spell would make her walk on ceilings made of clouds and that would be sooo cool I’d do it all the time-!”
“Pinkie Pie merely misspoke!” Luna said quickly. “So! Um... Rainbow Dash, I am very pleased to meet you.” Luna offered a formal, polite bow to Rainbow Dash.
“Because of course you two have never met before in your lives!” Pinkie Pie said cheerfully. Luna gained a grin that seemed more like a grimace.
“Not. Helping,” she muttered through her teeth. Pinkie Pie emulated her.
Rainbow Dash watched all of this in confusion, before sighing and giving up with a smile.
“Pinkie Pie, you and your friend are just so random!” The pegasus shook her head in some disbelief. “So, you wanna come up for some snacks?”
“Sure!” Pinkie Pie said cheerfully. “Don’t we Miss Selene?”
Luna slowly nodded, giving up. “Of course...”
Up they went to the upper levels of Rainbow Dash’s castle. It was not as disorganized as the wild maned pegasus’s appearance let on and Luna found herself approving of Dash’s sense of order. All three were soon perched on cloud pillows, and Pinkie Pie eagerly began to stuff her face with snacks from Dash’s fridge. Rainbow Dash therefore was able to focus entirely upon Luna, an experience the moon princess found a bit anxiety causing.
“So Selene... Where are you from?” Rainbow asked.
“Ah... Canterlot,” Luna replied. “I work for Princess Luna in the library.”
“The library huh?” Rainbow Dash asked with raised brows. “What kind of work do you do there?”
“Uh... Library work,” Luna said. Her eyes wandered as Dash’s probing gaze became more intense. She spotted a desk, and a stack of familiar forms.
“Oh...! Weather Control reports! You’re a weather pony,” Luna surmised.
Rainbow Dash lit up happily. “Oh yeah! I’m the Weather Officer for Ponyville!” Pride was evident in her voice and Luna smiled in some relief.
“You seem to have a lot of these forms,” Luna indicated.
“Yeah well, with all the craziness of the last few weeks I’ve fallen behind,” Rainbow Dash said. Luna got up, flew over to the desk, and began to sort through them. “Hey! What are you doing?” She asked, flying over next to her.
Luna read through all the forms and accompanying weather logs, did some math, and quickly filled them all out.
Really, this is all so inefficient... I need to do something about the filing system for these when I get back to the palace, Luna thought. Bureaucracy, bah. Too many self-interested ponies trying to get more money from more forms...
“There,” Luna said cheerfully. “It’s all done.”
“No way,” Rainbow Dash said with wide eyes. She flipped through the forms herself and blinked several times. She looked back at Luna, impressed.
“I do a lot of work for Princess Luna,” Luna said modestly. She found it odd how easily it was to refer to herself in that way, as though speaking about someone else.
“You seem to know an awful lot about paperwork, what do you do for Princess Luna in the library?” Rainbow Dash asked again. Luna nervously tapped her hooves together.
“Filing,” she said. Rainbow Dash, satisfied for the moment, smiled and the tension between them dropped.
“So, Selene... What do you do for fun?” She asked with a provocative raise of her brows. Luna blinked and thought about it.
“... I have an abacus?” She offered.
Pinkie Pie snorted in laughter, but covered it up by eating a large cake Dash had stashed away in the fridge. Rainbow Dash stared for several moments, before she shook her head.
“All right... We NEED to take you to a party.”
“YIPPEE!” Pinkie Pie said. “I’ve got one planned already!”
“Good! In the meantime though, I think I can get her a little loosened up before the big bash,” Rainbow Dash said slyly. Luna gulped at the unfamiliar look in the blue pegasus’s eyes.
“Wh-What do you mean?” Luna asked.
“Aw, but Dash, I wanna loosen her up!” Pinkie Pie said with a pout.
“It can’t be all at once, we need to build up to it,” Dash said. She smirked almost wickedly, and Luna felt like running away again. “And I know just the way...”
- - - - - - - -
Rainbow Dash took Pinkie Pie and Luna off to a nearby cloud formation. Several other pegasi were congregated around it, and Luna was able to see them kicking and bouncing a small white ball around.
“Ooh! What’s this, what’s this?” Pinkie Pie asked eagerly as she was deposited down on the edge of the cloud by Luna and Dash. The rainbow-maned pegasus smirked as she looked over at Luna.
“Cloudball... All pegasi play it. It’s a good way to develop your reflexes for quick maneuvers.” Rainbow grinned. “And it’s fun!”
“You have played it, right?” Rainbow Dash asked. Luna gulped and nodded.
“S-Sure! I’m good at it... I think,” she said.
“Great!” Rainbow looked over at one of the other pegasi. “Hey! Firefly! I got us a new player!”
The turquoise pegasus flew over to them with a smile. “Oh, that’s great! Twister’s still down with a busted wing.”
“This is Selene,” Rainbow said. Luna smiled nervously.
“Hello Selene. So, where are you strongest?” Firefly asked.
“Uh...” Luna looked behind the two pegasi. Pinkie Pie rubbed her chin thoughtfully, then made a series of hoof gestures.
“My wings? No! My... Uh...” Luna tilted her head as Rainbow and Firefly stared. “Brain? Maybe my hooves... My... Trampoline?”
Pinkie Pie facehoofed as Rainbow Dash and Firefly looked even more confused. Luna grinned weakly.
“I’m fine wherever!” She said.
“Well good,” Firefly said. “We’re up against a tough team and we’ll need you to be a good forward, all right?”
“Forward?” Rainbow Dash squawked. Firefly smiled and raised a hoof consolingly.
“It’s just for the first round, give her a try. She looks like a strong flyer. Besides, you keep saying you want more practice in your reflexes-Defense is good for that!”
“I suppose,” Rainbow Dash said. She looked over at Luna with a smile. “But you’d better pull your weight!”
“I-I will, really!” Luna said.
“Yay! Go Dashie, go Selene!” Pinkie Pie cheered.
“Now, you take your position forward over there, and get ready,” Firefly said. Luna nodded and flew over to the area Firefly indicated with her hoof. She saw the other players taking positions several meters above the cloud, and on either side of the cloud were formations in the shape of posts. The cloud ball was a perfect sphere, held together with magic. Luna frowned and quickly tried to analyze the game.
Okay... There’s a ball, goals, several players... Aha! It’s hoofball, in three dimensions. Luna nodded to herself. This should be easy...
A pony in referee paraphenalia blew a whistle, and kicked the ball out into the air between Luna and the opposing team’s forward. The forward moved like lightning, snapping up the ball with a blow from his head. Luna, shocked, turned and gave chase as the pegasus colt flew with his teammates flying in a protective wedge around him.
Hmmm... How to prevent him from scoring...? Seeing some of the other pegasi jostling each other as they manuevered around to block the shot, Luna smiled. Of course! A simple intercept maneuver...
Luna bent her wings back and gained speed, closing with the pegasus. He weaved back and forth, trying to shake her. He swung himself around as his teammates provided an opening for a shot, and pulled his legs back.
Luna shot forward with a burst of magical power, breaking the sound barrier and snatching the ball away. She looped back up and shot for the opposing team’s goal, but the loud whistle of the referee made her come to a hover. The referee pony flew up to her, his eyes wide and open above his whistle.
“Er... Is there a problem, sir?” Luna asked politely. The referee pointed back behind her. Luna looked over her shoulders.
The ponies that had been around her while she had gone supersonic were all lying on the cloud field below in varying states of shock, consciousness, and pain. Rainbow Dash herself was hanging upside down from a goalpost by her tail, staring at Luna with a wide open mouth.
“Yay! Woo hoo! Go Selene, yeah!” Pinkie Pie cheered.
Luna bowed her head. Oh dear...
- - - - - - -
“What the hay was that?”
“What the hay was that?”
“You see, I er-”
“What the hay was that?” Rainbow Dash repeated a third time, but with far more emphasis. Luna looked down at the cloud as the rest of the players observed from a distance just far away enough to be polite, but not so far they couldn’t hear.
“I... Um... Overdid it. Just a bit,” Luna admitted. Rainbow Dash scowled.
“How the hay did you do that?! What kind of pegasus could do that... Sort of...” Rainbow Dash blinked and stared intently at Luna. Luna fidgeted, felt the urge to panic... Saw Pinkie Pie waving nearby. With a sigh, she lifted her glasses up and dropped them very quickly, and at such an angle that the other ponies watching wouldn’t see her do it.
Rainbow Dash gasped and held up a hoof to her mouth.
“Yes,” Luna said dully.
“Uh huh,” Luna said, again dully.
“So you’re really-?”
“Yes,” Luna sighed. “I can leave if you want me to-”
“Leave?!” Rainbow Dash asked in complete and utter disbelief. Luna stared back with no small amount of it in her expression.
“W-Well, um, yes... I’ll have to leave, won’t I? I mean, it wouldn’t be fair-”
“Princess, look-” Rainbow Dash tried, but Luna waved her hooves and hissed.
“Right, Selene,” Rainbow Dash said apologetically. “I just think, you know, since you like to play this game you could stay.” The rainbow pegasus grinned. “You know? Hang out... Because I still think you need to loosen up.”
“Loosen up?” Luna asked. Dash nodded. Luna frowned. “How much?”
“... Um... Maybe just a little?” Dash asked. “Like... Do you have a pet?”
“... I have Abacus,” Luna said. Dash stared again and sighed.
“Uh... Your... Selene,” Dash amended as Luna glared. “Do you want the truth?”
“Yes,” Luna said.
“Rainbow Dash, tell me the truth please,” Luna said through gritted teeth.
“... You’re wound up tighter than a spring under a hydra.”
“... Oh,” Luna said quietly. She shook her head. “I still can’t play. Not without serious handicaps.”
“I think you could do something else for us,” Rainbow Dash said, licking her lips. Luna blinked, a slight blush coming to her cheeks.
- - - - - - - -
The game had started with the arrival of the opposing team and numerous spectators. On various clouds surrounding the field, they watched and cheered as the two teams clashed in fantastic aerial battle for the ball.
But they also spared attention to the sidelines.
Specifically, the cheerleaders.
“RAH RAH SIS BOOM BAH! SHOOT THE BALL THROUGH THE GOALS AND SCORE ANOTHER... HOORAH!” Pinkie Pie cried, dancing wildly with a broad grin on her face.
“Ah... GO TEAM!” Luna cheered along with her. “PERFORM WELL! WATCH YOUR DEFENSE! CONTINUE TO MAINTAIN YOUR ABOVE AVERAGE SCORING PERCENTAGE!”
- - - - - - - -
To be continued...