I shot up through the clouds, wisps of vapor trailing from my wings. Pulling them close to my body, I dove back through the cloud cover, and promptly twisted to the right to avoid getting hit by an airbus. Glancing over my shoulder, I noticed the driver shooting me a glare. I honestly couldn’t care less about the looks I got. I was just happy that I didn’t have another life-threatening accident. Spreading my wings to catch the updrafts, I glided through Canterlot, twisting around corners and speeding down streets.
With each wingbeat through the bustling metropolis, I drew closer my destination, a small glade attached to the largest graveyard in the city. One of my favorite places in Equestria, hidden from the rest of the world.
Everybody’s heard of the Wonderbolts. We’re the flashy showponies, the face of entertainment. Most don’t realize it, but the Wonderbolts are a branch of the Equestrian Military primarily used for reconnaissance. Spitfire, our captain and CO, was assigned to scouting duty by the princess herself, so she went. She was only supposed to be gone for a month or two. It’s been four years now. I can only assume she’s dead.
As I touched down at the graveyard, a family of four was shuffling out, tears in their eyes. Their youngest, a filly of maybe seven noticed my metal wings, brilliant orange against the blue of my coat. Pressing closer to her mother, she kept her distance while staring. I was used to the looks—it’s not every day you see a pegasus with prosthetic wings.
I strolled through the gates into the well-kept grounds, which were nearly empty, save for a couple of ponies standing in front of graves. It was peaceful, and that was part of why I loved it. I could just sit, listen to the birds, and forget about the world for a little while. Just me and her.
Ducking past some ivy, I walked through a hidden arch into the empty grove. Before me, the city sprawled out across Mount Canterhorn, a pristine metropolis overlayed onto a beautiful landscape. Spitfire had showed the glade to me before she left on that patrol. I guess she wanted someone she could trust to watch over her special place.
“Hey Spits. It’s me again.” I settled into silence, watching the bustle of the city in the distance. I came here every month for an hour or two, just to watch the world pass by.
“Soarin’s keeping the team in check. Still a featherhead at times, but he does his best. I know I’ve said this before, but he misses you. We all do.” I paused, searching for words. “Soar’s...gone. I know, I’ve said it before, but it’s true. He’s changed from the goofball to the super serious captain. He’s trying so damn hard, and it’s tearing him apart.” I licked my lips. “He’s great, he really is, but he can’t replace you.” I paused. “He’s not there when a pony really needs a shoulder to lean on, or a wing to cry into. He’s so Celestia-damned busy and it’s bucking terrible!” I inhaled sharply, held my breath, and released it slowly, trying to suppress my shaking.
“Do you remember when I got in that accident? The carriage one?” I ran a hoof through my mane, wincing as it caught on some tangled strands of hair. “What am I saying, of course you do. You were always by me, always there for me when I needed you.” I shuddered at the memory of the crash. Easily the worst day of my life.
Manehattan. A place I almost never went except for shows. Almost the size of Canterlot, and beautiful in its own right. I could appreciate it, but I always felt dirty after visiting. The entire city seemed unclean, despite the pristine conditions to which it was upheld. Normally I would stay in the hotel with the team between shows, but occasionally a few of us would venture out into the city.
That day, it was Spitfire and myself, out searching for groceries. Don’t get me wrong, the street food in Manehattan is good, but ridiculously unhealthy. I was amazed that the ponies there are as fit as they were.
We were walking, saddlebags stuffed with fresh food. It was nice, just me and her, talking about our lives.
Like a damned fool, lost in conversation as I was, I walked straight into the street. I turned around to see where Spitfire was, and a carriage slammed into my side. It wasn’t one of the older models, pulled by a pony. It was a newer one, powered by a combination of electricity and magic, made of metal. And these things could go fast. You’d think that in a crowded city like Manehattan the streets would be clogged like there’s no tomorrow, but nope, I got a carriage going at sixty klicks right into my side.
It hit me, shattering my wing instantly. I was told that it dragged me for a small distance before powering down, but the damage had been done. Both wings were broken and mangled to the point of no return, bones crushed to a powder in some places.
I woke up in the hospital a week later. My body felt like it was on fire, and even the slightest movement shot lances of agony through me. My wings had to be amputated, and only small nubs of bone and raw muscle were still attached to my back.
I won’t lie, I thought I was done. My life’s goal had been to be the best of the best, a real Wonderbolt. Just then, I was nothing. A pegasus, born to race, without wings. I would have ended it too, were it not for her.
Spitfire stayed with me through it all. Through the months in the hospital, the prosthetic fittings, relearning how to fly. All of it.
I was pulled back to reality by the pain that shot through my phantom wings. Shrugging off the twinge, I thought for a moment.
“I don’t know if I’ve told you, but you really were my anchor. Are my anchor.” I fell silent again, listening to the wind rustle through the grove. “I don’t think I could ever forget you, or anything that you’ve done for me. All the same, I want to keep some part of you with me.” I shifted my wings.
“When I think of you, the first thing I think of is your rough kindness. How you’d do anything to help another pony. I’ve been trying to embody that, spare some time for others.” I ran my hoof through my mane. “The second thing is your wings. Brilliant orange, powerful. Comforting.” I took a shaky breath. “You inspire me, Spits. You make me be a better pony, and I will never forget that.” I chuckled through the tears that had started to cloud my vision. “Look at me, getting all sappy again. You’ve heard all this already.”
I sat there for a moment, tears trickling out from behind my goggles.
“Thank you,” I whispered to the grove. “Thank you for everything, Spits.”
I stood, flexing my wings as I rose. They were blue when I first got my prostheses. A couple of weeks ago, on the anniversary of Spitfire’s disappearance, I had them replaced with brilliant orange carbon fiber. They glinted in the warm afternoon light, each feather carefully crafted to reflect the light with an almost fiery glow.
I launched myself out of the grove, slicing through the cloud cover. I thought about her, every memory I could muster. Her scratchy voice, her stern demeanor, and the pony who wanted nothing more than to see her friends happy beneath it all.
Tearing through the sound barrier, an explosion sounded behind me. I decelerated, turning to watch the Rainboom. Instead of my normal rainbow rings, a brilliant corona of fire rose up in the air, shimmering like a phoenix rising from its ashes to embrace a new life.