• Published 6th Mar 2012
  • 12,687 Views, 450 Comments

The Risks of Braving a Storm - Wintergreen Diaries

Storm Blitz, a massive pegasus, comes to Ponyville after his grandfather dies.

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The Final Straw

Chapter 12: The Final Straw

The telltale signs of pregnancy had set in, and though it had been many years since she had felt them, Flying Grace knew that it was no common cold causing the churning nausea in the pit of her stomach. As delicate a frame as she had, it would quickly become impossible for her to hide the signs. Proud Skies was gone most every day, and not sharing a bed helped but, sooner rather than later, it was going to be discovered. Grace refused to think about what would happen when he did. She jumped nervously as the door opened and a green pegasus mare a year older than her son quietly entered.

“Thank you for coming, Cloudburn.” Cloudburn was the one pegasus that had retained her ability to fly after trying to replicate Storm’s stunt, though using her wings came only with great pain.

“No problem at all, Miss Grace. What can I do for you?”

“I need your help, you and all the rest of the few friends that Storm has left.” Cloudburn immediately lit up at the mention of his name.

“You’ve seen him? How is he?” she asked excitedly, sitting beside the bed and waiting with eager eyes.

“He’s doing quite well, but I don’t think he will be for much longer. Also, Proud Skies warned me not to get pregnant again, but I am. I have this terrible feeling that Proud will forcibly remove the child if I do not leave before I am discovered. I know this will put you in a terrible position, but I have a plan to escape in three days time, but I will need your help. Will you listen?” Grace couldn’t help but smile as the mare’s eyes lit up with determination. Even after all this time, the bonds of friendship ran deep.

“You can count on me, and the others too. Just say the word.”

It was an indisputable fact that snow cones made inside the weather factory tasted the best, as the flakes were the freshest. However, pegasi are strongly discouraged from such conduct, as it is a place of business and not an ice cream parlor. It was for this reason that Rainbow and Storm had to make a swift exit from the premises, snickering as the enraged attendant hurled threats as they left. They would probably receive some extra weather duties for the next week or so, but they both agreed that it was worth it and happily munched on their frozen treats as they bantered back and forth.

“Wow Rainbow Dash, I haven’t pulled something like that in ages! You’re a lot of fun, you know that?”

“Gee, thanks Storm. You really know how to make a mare feel special,” she teased, bumping into him playfully and throwing herself off balance instead. Storm steadied her, fortunately saving her icy treat as well, and they continued talk back and forth as the sun started to set. Storm flew a short ways into the air and spied a small cloudbank on the outside of town, and beckoning her to follow they made their way there to watch the final rays of the day.

“So how is the training going? I’m not being too hard on you am I?”

“Nah, it’s getting easier. I bet I’ll be ready for the next step in a month or so. If all goes well, I should be into the final stages by the time the competition rolls around. Still get dizzy though.”

“Well, that’s never going to go away completely,” Storm said, chuckling softly. “Even Lightning Wing got disoriented from time to time, though a certain amount of recovering is instinct. Fortunately, you’ve got plenty of that. I have to say it’s really inspiring watching you, Rainbow Dash. Reminds me of when I wanted to be a Wonderbolt.” He had had the same dream? This stallion just got twenty percent cooler. But he said had...

“Why did you give it up? Was it because of what happened in Cloudspire?” Storm nodded slowly, and Rainbow Dash silently breathed a sigh of relief that he kept is smile as he answered.

“That was half of it. I despised flying afterwards and it really upset Lightning Wing. I’m pretty sure he pulled the stunts he did to try and motivate me to take some pride in my talent, but I was pretty set in stewing in my misery,” he explained ruefully. “A week before he died, he mentioned that he and some of the other ex-Wonderbolts were going to start training me in the confines of the home, and I begrudgingly agreed. I can still remember how happy he was that I said yes... And just like that, a week later...” Rainbow Dash gently placed her hoof on his, and he turned to meet her eyes.

“Storm, I know it must have hurt losing him like that, but you’re the only pony he felt was worthy of his secrets. I won’t tell you what to do, but I don’t think that your passions have died. I think it would honor his memory if you tried to make it into the Wonderbolts and continue the family legacy.”

“I hadn’t thought about it that way. Do you really think I could? I could never hope to match your speed.”

“Uh, duh? There are more things to consider than just speed, ya know. Each of the Wonderbolts normally specialize in something. Sure, they fly in formation but that’s only a small part of their performance, and I’m sure you could keep up with that kind of speed. Now, do you have any other pathetic objections for me to punch holes in?” She was right, and he couldn’t help but smile at her well meaning criticism.

“None at all. All right, I’ll start training too. Maybe you should be teaching me, and not vice versa.”

“Nah, you make a great teacher,” she beamed, the sunlight catching her eyes and causing them to shine. They held each other’s gaze, and as both heart rates accelerated they found themselves leaning closer to one another, Storm’s snow cone falling forgotten from his grasp as thoughts of Rainbow Dash flooded his head and lit his chest ablaze. It felt like a dream, the setting too perfect and the mare too beautiful for him to believe.

Pinkie Pie was happily minding her own business when her tail began to twitch, causing her to freeze and turn her eyes to the sky. The remnants of the snow cone landed atop her head, the sweet treat running down and gracing her lips with it’s sugary goodness. The thought of a cloud being able to rain snow cone was too exciting for Pinkie, who immediately grabbed her flying contraption from Celestia only knows where and pedaling with all haste towards the cloud in question. Her eyes glinted with anticipation as a second glob of blue snow cone dropped through the tuft which she caught deftly in her mouth, and her greed for more urged her legs to greater efforts.

It felt like ages though it was only seconds as the pair closed the distance between themselves, and Storm saw Rainbow Dash close her eyes as she neared. He could feel her breath on his face, and he hesitated for a moment before recalling Cerulean’s words. This was no time for fear, and he closed his eyes and prepared to take the plunge when Pinkie’s expectant cry shattered the moment for all eternity.

“Snow cone cloud, show me your wonders!” she wailed, bursting through the cloud and knocking Storm and Rainbow Dash over. Expecting the inside to be filled with frozen syrup but finding only two pegasi was a giant let down for the now dejected pink mare, whose disappointment quickly turned to suspicion; those greedy ponies had eaten it all! Noting that Storm was the larger of the two and as such must certainly be the more gluttonous one, she pointed the majority of her accusations at him.

“Storm, how could you do that to me? Eating the center of a snow cone cloud and not leaving any for me? You could stand to learn a lesson or two from Rarity about generosity! I mean, I didn’t even know they existed until just now, and it’s already gone!” Rarity? The only thing she’d been generous was posh clothing and horrifying lectures.

“I didn’t eat the center of any clouds! What are you even doing up here?”

“Duh, I just told you! I was going to eat the snow cone cloud you’re sitting on, but somepony already got to it!” Her indignant replies coupled with the ridiculousness of the subject were a bit much for Storm to try to respond to logically, so he ignored his desire to express himself verbally and simply held out the empty snow cone container, making a dumping motion as he did so.

“Oh, I get it, you just dropped it! Oopsie, my bad! I’ll leave you two alone then, bye!” Storm shook his head as she left, turning to Rainbow Dash who was anything but happy.

“Uh, Dash? You ok?”

“No, how could I be? I was seconds away from my first kiss and that crazy friend of mine had to come and ruin it!” she wailed, throwing herself onto her back and looking up at the darkening skies.

“Well, we could... try again, if you’d like.” To be fair, he wasn’t sure he had the courage at that moment to do so, and Rainbow Dash’s sullen reply was actually cause for small celebration on his part.

“No, I want my first kiss to be special.” She watched Storm lay down next to her and turn his eyes to the skies above, the first stars becoming visible as the last of the daylight faded.

“It may not have ended like I expected, but I really enjoyed spending this time together, Rainbow Dash. I don’t know how it ranks in your book, but this... this was a great first date for me.” Storm blushed a little as she wrapped herself around his hoof, her breath warming his neck. He could feel the tension start to rise in his wings and he considered fighting it before he noticed that Rainbow Dash had her eyes closed and wings slightly unfurled, and they both shared the moment together in doting silence.

“Hey Storm? What’s that bunch of papers for?” Scootaloo asked the day after the storm as she trotted to keep up with her brother’s slow canter. He was deeply absorbed in his grandfather’s notebook, trying to put together a mental plan for an acceptable pace to begin his training. He would have to visit Rarity and get weights made, of course, and he had promised Scootaloo to get in some more flight practice that afternoon, having not had time the last couple of days.

“These are grandfather Lightning Wing’s notes. They’re very special, and I gotta do my best to keep them safe.” He had just finished speaking when the paper’s were ensnared in a purple shroud and yanked from his grasp. They stopped in front of Twilight who held them with fascination and horror at the same time..

“Oh, and unbound manuscript! It must be one of a kind, what’s it about?”

“They’re Lightning Wing’s notes on flight, now may I have it back?” Storm replied, making sure he didn’t sound confrontational. Cerulean didn’t seem to be with her, which meant he was fair game if she should suddenly become unstable.

“What, before I’ve read it? Not a chance! And besides, I can’t just leave it like this! It needs a proper binding, no book should be without one! I’m sorry, but this is now my priority one. Don’t worry, I’ll bring it back soon,” she called over her shoulder as she immediately left, heading back to the library and thrilled with the idea of having a special book to read, naked though it was.

“Uh, Storm? You should probably just let her go; you don’t want to mess with Twilight right now.” Scootaloo had read his mind, and he gave a frustrated groan before continuing to Carousel Boutique. As Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo met up and chatted amiably, Storm was greeted only by silence from Rarity as he approached.

“Um, Miss Rarity? About what happened with Rainbow Dash, I can explain.”

“There’s no need, Storm. She already informed me, and though I am loathe to admit it, I was in the wrong, so allow me to say I’m sorry.” Not the response Storm was expecting, though he was delighted to not have to try and appease her further.

“Hey, don’t worry about it. Friends look out for each other, so it’s only natural you’d be upset with my, well, unconventional methods. I actually would like to place an order for a second set of weights and a harness. Oh, and since it’s for me, the weights will have to be doubled.” Rarity gave a groan as she remembered the designs, their simplicity and lackluster appearance disturbing her sense of fashion like splinters.

“Tell me, how is it that you have caught Rainbow Dash’s eye with your grotesque sense of fashion and deplorable manners? It simply doesn’t make any sense at all. Sure, Rainbow Dash can be a little rambunctious at times, but that’s nothing compared to you.”

“I haven’t the faintest idea.” Rarity gave an annoyed snort before turning away.

“I shall make your order, though I will not require any payment as I would never sell something like this for any amount of bits.” Was she being serious, or was this her way of trying to be nice to me for Rainbow’s sake? Oh well, either way Storm was glad she had agreed. He nodded his thanks and made for the door.

“Come on, Scoots. Time to fly!”

“Ok, bro, coming! Bye, Sweetie Belle!” Eager to begin, Storm flew them a short distance from town and started by having her work on trying to take off, something she still hadn’t be able to do herself yet. It wasn’t surprising really, as her wings were still quite small, but using them was the best way to get them to grow, and Scootaloo enjoyed the exercise even if she did end up with a face full of dirt more often than not. After seeing her tumble for the umpteenth time, Storm proposed a new idea, in which she ran towards him and jumped, at which point Storm threw her into the air to increase her speed. This worked wonders, and while she never seemed to gain any altitude she couldn’t help but cheer as she glided easily down to the ground. The progress was slow, but it didn’t really bother them, as the true treasure was in the time spent, not the outcome.

“Hey Storm? What did Rarity mean by ‘caught Rainbow Dash’s eye?’” Scootaloo asked as she took a breather, having been at it for an hour straight without taking a break. Storm hadn’t really been home much, so it stood to reason that it hadn’t come up.

“Oh, right, well me and Rainbow Dash are officially a couple. Dad didn’t say anything?” Scootaloo’s mind immediately latched onto the concept and ran with it, and Storm couldn’t recall the last time somepony had that big of a grin.

“Storm’s in love, Storm’s in love~” she sang, trotting circles around him. Storm tapped her lightly, causing her to lose her balance and fall, where she lay singing with increasing volume just to annoy him. He couldn’t withhold a smile at her merry display, at least until she shifted somewhere he hadn’t even considered. “So Storm, tell me, when’s the wedding? Can I be the flowerfilly?”

“What are... how did... Scootaloo, it’s way too early to even be thinking about that!” he shouted, more out of embarrassment than anything else.

“Be thinking about what, huh Storm?” Really, of all the times Rainbow Dash could show up, it had to be now?

“Nothing, nothing at all. My sister was just being quiet now,” he mumbled as he shot a pointed glare at his snickering sister.

“Well maybe Rainbow Dash knows. When are you two getting married?” Storm put a hoof over his face as they both blushed deeply, hoping that Rainbow Dash wouldn’t think that it was his idea.

“Storm, what kind of ideas have you been feeding your sister?”

“Really? Can’t anypony give me the benefit of the doubt, ever? This had nothing to do with me, Rainbow Dash, the thought hadn’t even crossed my mind. It appears that my sister would like to have one of her own.” If a mind exploding could make a sound, then a deafening roar would have been heard at that moment as Scootaloo made the connection. As a colossal shout tore from her lungs, it became apparent that it did, in fact, make a sound. A very loud, piercing noise like a little filly that could not control herself. “Great job, Rainbow Dash. I think she has officially lost it.”

“All right, Grace. The time has come, we need to move,” Cloudburn urged, helping her off the bed. Flying Grace nodded her thanks to Cloudburn and Silent Gale who had arrived right on schedule. A siren sounded in the distance as chaos reigned in the weather factory, the other two ponies that remained loyal to Storm having started their rampage. Due to the sympathy factor, they would likely receive much lesser punishments than if anypony else were causing the damages. The trio quickly made for Proud Skies study, where Gale deftly picked the lock and let them in, standing guard at the door just in case anything unexpected happened.

Flying Grace had never been allowed to enter the study, and she didn’t know where to begin looking. The walls were lined with file cabinets, and as she began opening them it quickly became apparent that they were all filled to the brim. Still, there had to be some way to narrow down where sensitive documents would be kept. If Grace couldn’t find some form of black mail, then her escape would be useless, and she’d be dragged back to Cloudspire without hesitation.

“Grace, over here. This section of the desk is locked. Gale, come take over while I stand guard.” He nodded and worked his wonders, having the desk open in less than ten seconds, and Grace began sorting through the files, until her eyes came to rest on an unsealed, unmarked envelope. She had to stifle a cry of anger as she read the first of four documents contained therein.

“Proud Skies,

I poisoned Lightning Wing’s tea, as instructed. I have also received the proper payment as per our agreement, so this concludes my involvement. I appreciate your guaranteed immunity, the sum of bits should be enough for me to live quite comfortably. It’s sad to see such a great Wonderbolt pass, but your legacy will be much greater, and I am honored to have taken part in sculpting it.


Nightshade “

“Grace, what is it? What did you find?” Cloudburn asked, placing her hoof on Grace’s shaking frame.

“Cloudburn, he had my father poisoned. No wonder he died so young...” Just behind it was the letter that Proud had sent to this Nightshade pony. Proud must have had the originals sent back so he could personally see to their destruction, being one to need control at all times. She shook her head, as there would be time to grieve later, and hopefully wrapped in Quakehoof’s arms. She pulled out the other document, and Cloudburn was forced to take a step back as Grace’s usually pleasant face contorted in pure malice.

“Proud Skies,

My messenger will inform you of a proper meeting place in three days time. However, for something as risky for my profession as a unwillingly forced, premature labor, I will require ample payment in proportion to the danger posed to my name. However, given your position, I’m sure you will be more than accommodating. I will personally guarantee you will not have a third child on your hooves.

Doctor Bloodstitch”

“This will be enough,” Grace growled, shoving the two notes back into the envelope and stowing it in her bag. “Silent Gale, I would ask that you stay here and deliver a message to Proud Skies upon his return. Tell him ‘I have files in my possession that would ruin you forever. I know about the poisoning and your plans for my child, so if you ever do anything that affects me or the lives of my family, I will release them to the public. If, however, you leave us alone, you can continue your pathetic struggle for a meaningful existence.’” Gale donned a smug smile and nodded, now quite eager for his eventual return.

"Aye. It will be my pleasure, Miss Grace." He watched them go then locked the door and turned out the light, waiting for Proud to return. Grace and Cloudburn made their way to the surface, where Cloudburn opted to gallop to match Grace’s low flight, as even the trip down had been immensely painful for her damaged wings. As they made it to a nearby town and Grace boarded the train, she turned with surprise to find Cloudburn purchasing a ticket as well.

“You’re coming too?”

“I really want to see Storm again...” she said quietly with a distant look in her eyes.

“I know you’ve liked him for a long time, Cloudburn. But if it’s a romantic desire that’s driving you, then you should likely stay. I’m pretty sure he already has his heart on another.”

“Even still, I’d like to see him, just once,” she replied, and Grace made no objections, as having additional company would considerably ease the stress. She looked out the window and silently thanked everypony that had helped her that night, and hoping that the repercussions for everypony involved wouldn’t be too severe.

Proud Skies was utterly annoyed with the weather factory incident, knowing that the ponies involved were related to Storm and thus all the reporters would show up at his doorstep first thing in the morning. As badly as he wanted to punish them to the fullest extent of the law, he knew that they had the sympathy of the public, and thus would likely do little more than give them a warning. He unlocked his study and sat at his desk with a sigh, gently massaging his eyes and stewing in a pool of dark thoughts.

“Well, well, the big shot returns to his lair.” Proud yelped and fell backwards out of his chair, not having noticed Silent Gale standing in the shadows due to his deep blue coat. “I have something that may tickle yer ears a bit, Proud Skies.”

“This is an outrage! How dare you break into my home, I’ll see you rot in jail for this impudence!” he bellowed, standing but keeping his distance.

“Who, me? On my honor, I didn’t break nothin.’ I walked in the front door like a gentlepony. Now listen good, Proud, ‘cause I’m only gonna say this once...”