• Published 21st Aug 2013
  • 9,772 Views, 257 Comments

Green Fire and Golden Flames - Freelancer



Spitfire, captain of the Wonderbolts, comes to Ponyville in the aftermath of Spike's greed-growth, bringing with her an issue that only the young dragon can help her with. (SpikeXSpitfire ship-fic)

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Prologue: Cause, Effect, and a possible Remedy

Prologue: Cause, Effect, and a possible Remedy


“Just how the hay did this happen?”

As rare as those kinds of words coming from her muzzle were, along with the ice-cold sense of dread that followed, Spitfire couldn’t help but mutter them to herself, her brain all the while frantically trying to accept what her eyes were seeing was actually a reality.

If their expressions were anything to go by, the eleven pegasi around her currently were having the same issue.

Ponyville, the small rural town that had been put on the map by the likes of Nightmare Moon and Discord, the town that was home to the Elements of Harmony, lay partly in ruins; some houses and buildings had their roofs torn away, while others had been flattened to piles of wood and stone rubble all together, their interiors completely and utterly stripped bare of everything not bolted down. What looked to a small lake’s worth of water was making its way through the town, carrying away with it anything, and anypony, unlucky enough to get caught in its path, and, to top it all off, a line of half-a-meter deep footprints had been sunken into the road.

All of this destruction being the work of a dragon; one massive, out of control, rampaging, purple and green monster of a dragon.

There were a few ways Spitfire could describe how she felt when she’d laid her eyes on the moving hill of scales, but none of them seemed truly right on their own.

One feeling was something along the lines of awe, awe of the brutal and unmatchable physical strength such a mighty creature must’ve possessed; with every movement the beast’s muscles bulged and rippled underneath its armoured hide, virtually screaming the ability to raze entire cities, tear down mountains, and crush boulders with ease. The pure sight of it alone demanded her utmost respect.

Its roar was no less intimidating or any less majestic then the dragon’s titanic frame. When the beast had opened its maw and unleashed its voice, the very earth and sky seemed to suddenly shudder and tremble beneath the pure volume of the guttural note; Spitfire recalled when she’d been younger, one of her flight coaches had said that if you ever heard the rumble of thunder, but there were no storm clouds around, you should hide as fast as possible. She now fully understood why he’d said those things

The second emotion she felt, understandably, was an overwhelming sense of fear, the primeval reaction of all ponykind to the scaled giants known as dragons. Spitfire couldn’t help it; she may have been a member of the Wonderbolts, the captain of the elite flying squad even, but she was still a pony, and the sight of such a true force of nature, showing just why it had earned such a title… it made her gut churn with terror.

“Ok Spits, just breathe and concentrate,” she told herself, shaking her head free of the counter-active thoughts and emotions.

The dragon itself was tearing its way through the town at that particular moment, and, as strange and alien as it seemed, that was a literal description of what it was doing. Everything the beast laid its green eyes on was gone in a heartbeat, ripped from where it had stood, and then stuffed into what looked like a water tank turned shopping basket. All the while ponies were running and screaming as the dragon’s massive claws shook the ground around them, each scaly foot easily measuring the size of a carriage, and capable of crushing a pony like an ant if they were caught underneath.

To top it all off, as if fate was just looking to annoy Spitfire further, an all too familiar white coated, purple maned unicorn sat grasped in the monster’s massive tail. What was it with that mare and needing to be saved?

“So… what’s the plan then captain?” Soarin asked quietly, sounding more than a little uneasy. “You wanna try and take this thing down?”

“We don’t really have a choice Soarin, so that’s pretty much our endgame… but not right away; first we need to get that dragon away from Ponyville itself, otherwise I’m feeling that if things end up going sideways, and he gets angry, we run the risk of the entire town being flattened…well, more flattened.”

“Or burned to ashes and flattened,” Fleetfoot put in.

Spitfire shuddered at the thought. “That too, and neither of those things I particularly want to see on my captain’s record.”

She sighed as she turned to Blaze, an amber maned Wonderbolt, and one of the more recent additions to the officer ranks. “Lieutenant, I want you and your team to push that thing’s scaly backside out of town, and I want it done A.S.A.P, you got me?” Blaze wordlessly nodded and saluted. “Good; everypony else, we’ll circle above until that dragon’s at a safe distance from Ponyville, then we’ll launch a collective attack, everypony understand?”

“Yes ma’am!”

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….


The Wonderbolt Academy.

It was a place of legend and dreams for every young pegasus who sought the thrill of flying, and the setting only served to do that vision justice; it sat like a bird’s nest atop the peak of one of Equestria’s highest mountains, with the buildings and training grounds spread between the mountain peak itself, and the vast formations of white cloud that constantly encircled the summit. As rumour had it, the Academy was the first place in Equestria to be greeted by Celestia’s sun each morning, which was believable, it being situated on the top of a mountain and all.

Every year, a small number of dream-hunting pegasi would ascend to that place of legend atop the mountain, and be put through days of relentless training and trials that would easily break a lesser pony; all of this was done in the hope of gaining entry to the prestigious academy, and possibly, a future place in the Wonderbolt ranks.

That dream, however, hinged on whether or not they impressed Spitfire.

At that present moment, the fiery maned mare in question was seated at her desk in the captain’s office; it was the abode which had seen and farewelled each and every Wonderbolt captain since the beginning, and where Spitfire could usually be found when not practising with her fellow ‘bolts, or shouting instructions at the current roster of cadets and rookies.

Presently, she sat with her desk utterly covered by the papers that contained the grades, scores, and reviews of the present cadet hopefuls, mentally preparing herself to either make or break their individual dreams within the next few hours.

Well, she would have been, if not for the fact something else presently held her undivided attention.

Spitfire was just sitting back in her chair, with her amber-gold eyes swapping between admiring her rather large poster collection, and staring blankly at the steaming mug of coffee in her hooves. Currently, she found herself unsure whether to drink the caffeinated liquid, or just continue to watch her frazzled reflection ripple across its steaming surface for a few more minutes.

Though ‘frazzled’, if the reflection was anything to go by, was a bit of an optimistic description. Her eyes were bloodshot to the point of looking like cherries, and her usually streamline mane looked more like a mop that had been hit my lightning, both factors betraying her recent lack of sleep, and hence explaining her current hunger for coffee.

If it were any other morning, there wouldn’t have been such a decision to make for the fiery maned wonderbolt, mainly because she, unlike a certain pie loving vice-captain, just about hated the taste of the stuff, and thus wouldn’t fly within a mile of it unless it was unavoidable; in her humble opinion, you could’ve blended tomatoes, leeks, pickles, and over-frozen vanilla ice cream together, and still have it taste better than the average cup of coffee.

The smell wasn’t exactly that enticing to her either. Even a passing whiff of the odour always seemed to gift her with discomforting headaches, plus the rather strong scent always seemed to linger in her office, even long after the beverage itself had been consumed.

But, drastic times called for drastic measures, and right now Spitfire desperately needed it to stay awake, hence the cup that sat between her hooves was, actually, her fifth in the last two hours.

“Ugh, this is gonna be the end of me.” she sighed in defeat, at last giving in, and downing the lot in one go.

It tasted just as bad as the first four cups had, with the experience best described, in her humble opinion, as drinking some form of exotic liquefied dirt.

Still, a flicker of a smile graced her golden muzzle as she set the ceramic cup down again, the mare already feeling the caffeine re-working its way into her bloodstream, and driving off some small amount of her plaguing fatigue; it would probably keep her awake for another hour-ish or so.

“Alright, now, back to work.” she grumbled, reaching for the nearest pile of scoresheets.

Her hoof, however, didn’t even get the chance to grasp them.

Without any knock or prior warning of their intrusion whatsoever, the door to her office was promptly and loudly slammed open as two 'bolt uniformed pegasi burst in, crossed the relatively small room, and then skidded to a perfect halt mere inches from hitting her desk.

As if the fright of Spitfire’s life wasn’t quite enough for fate’s twisted sense of humour, and as one with a background in physics could’ve predicted would happen, the sudden air current caused each and every report to scatter and disperse around the small office like petals on a breeze.

“There you are!” the pegasus on the left panted, his voice and deep blue mane revealing himself as Soarin, her second in command.

“Yeah Soarin, here I am, in my office,” Spitfire snapped. “Now just what the hay’s with you two bursting in like you’re foals after my autograph?”

“Um, we’ve been looking for you for the last hour,” the other, white maned pony named Fleetfoot, answered. “Not to insult you, captain, but we were supposed to have a training session this morning, and you were no-show, so we kinda got worried.”

“Fleet, it’s Tuesday, we don’t have training on Tuesdays.”

“Spitfire… It’s Wednesday,” Soarin jumped in, watching as the golden mare’s jaw hit her desk.

“Ugh! You’ve got to be bucking kidding me!” she groaned, face-hoofing as she felt her cheeks begin to sting. “I’m really sorry guys, my brain’s just not working today; I haven’t been sleeping well these last two weeks, and, heh, I guess it’s finally starting to catch up with me now.”

“I’d say it’s long since caught up with you Spits,” Soarin snorted, his words earning him an unimpressed glare from his superior, as if to snarl ‘and just what are you insinuating by that?’ at him. “Spitfire, you might not have noticed, or maybe you’re just trying to deny it, but from what I’m seeing right now… you look like you haven’t slept at all in days.”

“We wanted to give you some time to try and sort this out yourself, like you normally do, but you’re really starting to scare us now,” Fleetfoot stated. “We’ve, um, heard you screaming in your sleep a few times, Spits, and I don’t mean the ‘having a good time’ kind of screaming either.”

Spitfire groaned. “Ponyfeathers, happened again,” she muttered under her breath, running a hoof through her mass of fiery mane; there had been the odd night like that in the last week or so, usually ending with her jolting awake, and covered in a cold sweat.

“So… you wanna explain to us what’s going on?” Soarin asked gingerly.

“No offense… but not really, it’s… it’s kind of a personal matter is all, alright, so I’d much prefer the team not get involved.”

Much to Spitfire’s surprise, the two blue pegasi just glanced between each other, simultaneously nodded, and then looked back at her with splayed-back ears, their faces both showing expressions somewhere between annoyance and disappointment.

“Spitfire, we’re not just the ‘team’ or ‘team members’, alright, we’re your friends for Celestia’s sake,” Fleetfoot snapped as she took a step forward, the tone in the cyan mare’s words causing Spitfire to wince; sincere yet hostile all at the same time. “Now, do yourself a favour and listen to me; something’s got your tail in a knot, and we want to help you out as best we can.”

As if to emphasize their stance on the matter, and to basically tell her they weren’t planning on leaving anytime soon, Soarin swiftly kicked the door shut with his back hooves.

“Are you two trying to get yourselves court-marshalled?” the golden mare snorted angrily.

We are trying to help you.” Soarin replied bluntly, pointing a hoof at her. “And you seem to be doing your very best to get demoted by command.”

Spitfire just folded her hooves, and grumbled under her breath in return; could this day actually get any worse?

“Ok, ok, just… ugh,” she sighed eventually, leaning forward, and resting her head on her front hooves, the feelings of dread and embarrassment already welling up in her gut. “Don’t you dare mention this to anypony else, got it? Nothing I say leaves this room,” the two blue pegasi nodded. “Uh, look… I’ve just been having a few… nightmares… about what happened in Ponyville the last few nights, specifically about that damn rampaging dragon.”

Even the mention of that purple and green monster sent a shiver down her spine.

She immediately shut her eyes, and waited with her breath held once she’d finished speaking. She could already hear them stinging her ears; their bitter howls of laughter, their scolding of how she should just ‘mare up’ and move on, their taunting of how she was acting more like a scared filly then a captain of the Wonderbolts.

What greeted her ears, however, was none of those; instead, she first heard the approaching clop of hooves, and then felt a hoof come to rest on her shoulder.

“So you’re having nightmares about that, huh?” Soarin asked with a sigh, the stallion’s words sounding part question, part statement. “Eh, I’ll admit I didn’t exactly see that one coming, but I’ve heard trauma will do that kind of thing to a pony.”

Spitfire’s ears flicked back. “Are you saying that I’m traumatized or something?” she snorted, perhaps a little more forcefully then she intended.

Fleetfoot, to Spitfire’s surprise and further annoyance, nodded in affirmation. “Spits, take a look at yourself for a moment; you witnessed something that left you angry, anxious, and clammed-up, and now you’re having nightmares about the exact same thing. That’s practically the definition of being traumatized.”

Spitfire just glanced angrily between the two other pegasi for a moment, the golden mare regarding them with disdain while seriously considering giving them both cleaning duties. She was a Wonderbolt, the captain of the Wonderbolts by Celestia’s alabaster flank, she’d flown through twisters, blizzards, thunderstorms, and every other weather based fury nature could’ve thrown her way; she wasn’t scared of some dragon…

…Then why did simply thinking of the word ‘dragon’ make her feel sick to her stomach? Sure, there were those massive talons that could tear her to shreds, claws that could crush anything and everything they stepped on, and fire that could reduce a town’s worth of ponies to nothing but ash.

“Celestia feathering dammit!” she groaned, the realization hitting her like a buck in the side, and her face subsequently meeting the desk with a thud.

“You see what we’re getting at here?” Soarin asked, still with his hoof resting on Spitfire’s shoulder. “Spits, whether you like it or not, you’re a total wreck right now…”

“Thanks, being told that makes me feel soooo much better.”

Soarin just rolled his eyes. “… And you will be until we do something about it,” he continued. “Now then, do you want to risk being labelled ‘unfit for duty’ by command, or are you gonna let us help you out here? Because if you don’t, I’d bet my pay check that Blaze and the others won’t be the only ones needing a counsellor in the near future.”

Spitfire huffed and looked away from her second, but the truth was hard to ignore, and painfully so at that; it didn't even need to be said that if she didn’t do anything about this, and her state deteriorated further, then command would more than likely lose faith in her ability to lead the Wonderbolts squad. Her nonattendance of the morning’s training alone would probably raise a few eyebrows among the brass.

“What’ve you got in mind?” she asked at last, her words emerging as nothing more than a defeated whisper.

For the first time that morning, and in an action that utterly surprised the golden mare, Soarin actually smiled. “Well, you know, as crazy as it sounds Spits, I’ve actually been in this kind of situation before,” he chuckled gently, the stallion’s eyes closing as he reminisced. “You remember how there was that sweet shop back in Cloudsdale, on the corner of Cumulous and Thunder Street? Had that grumpy old Toffee Twister for an owner? Heh, well, when I was a colt, I accidently knocked over a bunch of his candy jars when I was browsing; next thing I knew he was chasing me out the door with a broom.”

“I see you’re clumsiness hasn’t improved with age,” Fleetfoot snickered quietly; Soarin just turned and stuck his tongue out at her.

“Anyway,” he went on, still gently smiling as he faced Spitfire again. “For the longest time I was afraid of going anywhere near that place, I mean, sheesh, I actually thought that if did, he’d turn me into candy. But, after a year or so, I finally said ‘you know what, buck this!’ and took a chance. And guess what? Turns out the grumpy old featherhead had sold the place to a new owner, and moved off to Luna knows where.”

Soarin couldn’t help but grin at the memory.

“Anyway, how does that story relate to you? Simple, my Toffee Twister and your dragon are one and the same; we both had traumatic experiences because of them, admittedly yours is a bit more serious than mine, but fundamentally they’re the same and so are the remedies.”

Spitfire, still with her head resting on the desk, felt an eyebrow rise in curiosity. “So… you’re saying I should go back to Ponyville?” she asked.

“That’s exactly what I’m saying,” Soarin nodded sagely, his grin somehow managing to widen even further at her ‘are you bucking kidding me?!’ like expression. “I know it’s an unnerving prospect Spits; when I walked up to the door of Twister’s old store again, I seriously thought it was gonna be the end of me. But, I got over my fears because I did it anyway, and trust me when I say you will too if you follow my lead.”

“Perhaps you should lead her Soarin; you seem to understand this kind of ordeal better than anypony. Besides, the last thing we need is Spitfire flying all the way to Ponyville alone, especially given how out of it as she is… no offense intended,” Fleetfoot added, now looking directly at Spitfire. “Plus once you get there, you’re in no condition to just be wandering around the scene of your trauma by yourself; I’d say some morale support is definitely in order.”

Soarin chuckled. “Fleet’s got a point there; we can’t allow the Wonderbolt captain to have a breakdown in front of our adoring public, now can we? That’d give command trauma.”

“But what about the cadets? They still need to be evaluated, and the current team isn’t getting out of their practises and duties just because I’m not up to par,” Spitfire retorted, desperately hoping to escape her metaphorical corner.

“Don’t worry Spits,” Fleetfoot responded with a grin. “I can keep your paperwork from piling up and make sure the team doesn’t start slacking off. Heh, I’ve actually always wanted to try out the drill-sergeant role.”

Spitfire, for what felt like the millionth time in the last hour, put her hooves against her temple, and groaned under her two friends combined gazes. There was just no defeating them, and as much as she liked to believe Soarin was just a multi-pie-devouring airhead, he could darn well find a solution when one was needed.

And as much as she utterly loathed the fact, being the proud and at times stubborn mare she was, he also had a fair point. The pure essence of the matter was that if she allowed her condition to remain, it’d only get worse, and so would the consequences when it came to crunch time.

The idea of going back to Ponyville still filled her with dread, but the thought of being demoted, or worse, discharged from the Wonderbolts altogether, was an even more frightening proposition.

“Ugh, alright, fine… I’ll do it.”

Soarin grinned and hoof-pumped in excitement. “Great! I’ll go pack some pies for the road,” he exclaimed, opening the door and bolting down the hallway.

“This is going to be a looong process,” Spitfire groaned into her hooves, Fleetfoot only being able to nod knowingly in agreement.

Author's Note:

Notes:

Freelancer: So, yeah, this was written as part of a creative writing assignment, and as an urge to write a ship that’s (presumably) never been done before. The current plan is for this to span some five or six chapters, but that may change.

Edragon: *Smacks hands on keyboard* I’m helping! :pinkiehappy: