Cascade! Clouds Above, Obfuscate!

by WritingSpirit

D̴a̷y XIII

"No, not here..."


"Not here... not here..."

"Also empty."

"Not here either. Not here, not here, not here, not here—"


"But it can't be, it's supposed to be here! This was it! This was supposed to be it!


"It's empty... it's empty..."

"Rainbow Dash!!"

Soarin' expected her to yell at him. It wouldn't be the first time; certainly wouldn't be the last either. Having underwent it so many times, he firmly believes there's an art to her anger— perhaps not one as graceful or coherent as her flying, but it certainly showcases her endless supply of bravado. He held his breath and clenched his eyes shut, knowing it would come charging right at him and strike him in the gut in full force. In a few minutes, he would be limp and writhing on the floor, and she would still be hurling word after devastating word at him.

Any minute now, he reminded himself.

Any minute now.

Just a little longer.

Sure enough, it soon came charging forward in the form of a... plaintive sigh?

Wait a minute. Taking a little peek, he tensed up when he was met with Rainbow's stern frown. Angry: check, his brain chimed even as he scribbled up a grin, only to have it falter when she dolefully turned away. "You okay?" he asked, craning his neck forward.

"This is stupid."

The rabid bitterness skewered his gut. "You mean our search?" he asked, brows furrowing when he received a glum nod. "Hey, just because we didn't find it yet doesn't mean it's not here. Sure, temple's helluva lot bigger than we thought, but pointlessly complicated's just the way it is for the ponies of old, isn't it? You said so yourself!"

"Soarin', we've searched the whole temple, top to bottom, and we couldn't even find a single thing! It's not here! It was never here! Stupid temple with the stupid rooms, all for one stupid, worthless god of darkness or whatever! What kind of god is he anyway?! What does he even do?!"

"Pretend he could kiss his shadow?"

"Ewwwww!! What the hell, Soarin'?!"

"What?" he said in mock befuddlement, stifling a giggle. "He's all alone down here and has no one to look to for companionship. Well, no one real, at least. Heck, if I'm stuck down here for thousands of years, that's what I'd probably do. Would probably get sick of all the kissing and complain to my shadow that it's just not interesting anymore. Then give or take a few years, I'll be begging for it to come back and say that I was wrong, and it would say no, and then I'd show it this bouquet of flowers I bought—"

"Okay, stop! Stop it!" Rainbow yelled out between her badly-contained laughter, her shaking hoof holding onto his shoulder. "Okay... phew... I'm good, I'm good, all good..."

"Feeling better now, Dash?"

"Just for now, Soar," she declared, shaking her head with one last chuckle. "Celestia's flanks, how do you even come up with those?"

"I guess staying awake throughout the night does that to you. Well, it's either that, or just the sight of the awesome Rainbow Dash down in the dumps."


"You know you like it," he hummed delightfully, smirking at the tint in her cheeks. "So, uh, what now?"

Rainbow glanced around the room. "Good question."

"You didn't think of a plan B?"

"I didn't think we even needed a plan B," she sighed. "Just find some old thingamajig, then leave. That was the plan. That was the simplest job ever, yet... ugh, I can't believe I could even screw that up."

"Well, you were sure it's this temple, right?"


"And you're absolutely sure no one's ever thought of coming here, correct?"

"I'd retire from the Wonderbolts if I ever get that wrong!"

"Okay, now you're just rubbing it in."

"Sorry," she sheepishly chuckled, her cheeky grin meeting his. "Look, point is, I'm sure I had everything right! Double-checked, triple-checked, quadruple-checked! You know, Twilight-level stuff!"

"Ooh, Twilight-level! Can never go wrong with Twilight-level."

"That's what I said!" she cried, throwing her hooves out across the room. "Yet look at what we've ended up with! Fat lot of good all that did for us."

"Devil's in the details, probably."

"But not in this temple, for crying out loud! Wished he was here so I could punch his shadow-kissing face back to the last century! Stupid god of darkness and his stupid artifact..."

"Wanna take five? Cool yourself off a bit?"

"I... yeah, I'm... yeah, sure..."

"Hey, Dash?"


Soarin' bit his lip. "Listen, about that night, back at the bathhouse... can we talk about that?"

Rainbow crossed her hooves. "Nothing better to do down here anyway."

"Okay, good, okay." he cleared his throat. "Think I'll start off by saying thanks."

His words swallowed up every coherent thought off the top of her head. "F-For?" she managed to squeak, eyes wide in bewilderment.

"For putting up with it for the past few days. Pretty sure it was on your mind the whole time we were stuck down here. You think I wouldn't notice? You were really, really upset about it, I can tell."

"Of course I was upset."

"And you have every right to be, no question," Soarin' clarified. "I should've let you in on it earlier, I should've told you, I just should've..."

"It's fine, Soarin'." she flashed a reassuring grin. "It's technically not water under the bridge just yet, but it's fine for now."

"Huh, so, uhh, what's it gonna take for me to get it off your mind?"

"Hmm... maybe a fourth date."

"Hah! Seriously? A fourth date? Might just be me, but aren't you wasting a good opportunity here? I'm saying you can have me repay you with anything you want and you chose to have a fourth date?"


"You're trying to go easy on me?"

A spark flurried frenziedly in her eyes. "Who said I was?"

Soarin' was about to speak, only to stop when he noticed her grin. The grin. It was the same grin he saw on her face when she first signed up in the Wonderbolts; the same grin that he spotted her wearing on every newspaper cover after another of her occasional monster fights. It was the one grin that screams out deafeningly 'give me all you got' to all those who view it, and now it was directed right at him, to which he mustered up his own game face in return.

"Fourth date it is, Dash."

"You sure you can take it? Steep threshold, you know. First date, bar night. Second one, dinner in the clouds. Third, hunting down a god of darkness. What you gonna come up next?"

"Oh, I can think of a few things," he hummed slyly, watching her grin widen. "Trust me, Dash, it'll blow all our previous dates out of the water, no question."

Firm stare swirled before firm stare; Wonderbolt to Wonderbolt; thunderstorm to thunderstorm, until Rainbow Dash leaned in and give him a nuzzle on his cheek.

"Love you."

A surprised, lighthearted chuckle. "Hah, love you too," he replied. "Now then, since there's a whole lot of nada to do here, should we head back to Vanhoover? Aching for a hot bath, nice and proper, with actual shampoo. Wanna get that oil slick off my mane ASAP."

"Sure, you diva, you."

"It's a matter of appearances! You want me to look good standing beside you or not?"

"Hey, you're great as you are already!"

"Did you just compliment me?"

"You goaded me into doing it! Doesn't count!"

"Seems to me like it does!"

"Does not!"

"I'm telling you, it does!"

"And I'm telling you, it does not!"


"Does not!"


"Does not!"

"It was here... I'm right, wasn't I, it was right here..."

"Yeah... positive..."

"It was... it was just here... it was just here!"

Rainbow Dash was faced with a wall, her stare wide and trembling in disbelief. She stepped up to it and, biting her lip, reached out her hoof. Tentatively, it drew closer and closer to the stone cold surface, shivering softly throughout until it made the unthinkable first contact. It was right at that moment that her gaze fell to the floor and her pants hastened, before she reached back the same hoof and slammed it right into the wall with the loudest shriek her lungs could carry.


She slammed it a second time.


A third, a fourth, a fifth, a sixth—

"Rainbow, stop it! Rainbow, Rain— STOP IT, YOU'RE HURTING YOURSELF!!"

"IT'S GONE, CAN'T YOU SEE?! THE EXIT'S GONE!!" she cried, giving it one last slam before stumbling backwards and falling onto her haunches, her worn hoof bruised a brazen purple with traces of blood seeping from minuscule cuts. She gritted her teeth and opened her mouth once more, only to gasp when Soarin' knelt down and wrapped her in a tight hug, squeezing out every ounce of rage and fury from her until all she had left was a whimper that came with the first of many tears to come.

"We're trapped down here..."