• Published 6th Mar 2012
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The Risks of Braving a Storm - Wintergreen Diaries

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

  • ...

Ups and Downs

Chapter 13: Ups and Downs

“Storm, is that what I think it is?” Cloudburn exclaimed, beaming as she beheld his proud swagger.

“You bet it is, Cloudburn. I finally got my cutie mark!”

“Aye, took ye long enough,” Silent Gale teased, chuckling as he recieved a sour look for his input.

“They save the best for last, they say. Check this out!” They watched with curiosity as he grabbed a large tuft of cloud and began spinning it rapidly, the white cloud quickly becoming a black thunder cap. Storm flew a short distance back then rammed through it, dispersing the cloud among a shower of sparks, the electricity crackling around his wings.

“That was really something, but didn’t that hurt, mate?” Gale inquired, curious as to why he was unfazed by such a thing.

“Uh, it kinda tingled a bit. But no, it didn’t hurt.”

“Hey, stir up a big one and let’s all fly through! That was amazing, Storm Blitz! C’mon, guys!” Cloudburn shouted to Gale, Freefall, and Snow Drift, who eagerly gathered behind her. Storm readily agreed, building a small fortress of cloud and flying around it rapidly until a small cyclone had formed. “All right guys, on the count of three! One... two... three!” They plunged in, and there was a deafening crack as her vision flashed white, then slowly faded to black, the vague sensation of falling being the only thing she could feel.

Cloudburn woke with a start from the dream, blinking rapidly to assure herself that she was rid of the memory. Nopony there that day walked away unscathed, and Cloudburn couldn’t help but feel blessed that she had retained any ability to fly at all after the incident. It was likely because she had flown through so close to Storm, who was the only pony to not suffer physically, but the guilt with which he looked at her when she had awakened in the hospital bed was more than enough to show he was hurt the deepest. Cloudburn closed her eyes once more, hoping that it would help them reach Ponyville sooner, as they were due to arrive late afternoon. A quick glance at the sky showed it to be only an hour after sunrise, and she gratefully slipped into a light doze.

Rainbow Dash sighed as Storm attached the second set of weights, causing him to stop and look up at her. He dearly wished he could read her mind, but like everypony else that didn’t have psychic powers, he had to ask verbally.

“Is something bothering you, Dash?” She didn’t respond, which he correctly interpreted to mean “yes there is, no I don’t want to talk about it.” Rainbow Dash had, at that moment, been lamenting the fact that nearly a week had gone by since their sunset was tragically interrupted, and no real opportunity had arisen lately to finish what was started. She glanced down as he removed the two weights he had attached, setting them down on the floor of her cloud home. “I’m curious to see how much you’ve improved. I have a little test for you, come on.” Rainbow Dash followed him outside and they landed a short ways outside of Cloudsdale on one of the larger clouds floating lazily through the skies. “I want to see how much improvement a month of training has made. Act like this is the tryouts, minus the freaking out. Get to it!”

Rainbow Dash’s eyes glinted as she accepted the challenge, taking off so fast it blew a chunk out of the cloud and left Storm’s mouth agape. Rainbow Dash had never felt so light, having been used to being weighted nearly all day every day, and now that she was free she pushed herself to test her limits. “Step one, circle twenty clouds as fast as possible without damaging them!” Storm called out excitedly. Within fifteen seconds the deed was done, residual rainbows left dancing on his vision. “Ok, next step, show me how a Wonderbolt barrel rolls!” The opportunity to show off her stuff filled her with elation as she began to spin, far faster than she had been able to while harnessed, quickly completing ten in record time before shooting towards the sun. “All right, don’t get cocky! Let’s see how you punch holes in the sky, get rid of these clouds!” he encouraged, and was truly amazed as his vision was vivisected by rainbow streaks.

“That all you got, Storm? Gimme something hard!” she laughed, landing beside him and breathing easily.

“Show me your secret weapon.” Her confidence drained as the thought of failing in front of him clouded her mind, her last attempts having been dismal failures. “Rainbow Dash, you can do this. I believe in you.” She stared at him for a moment, the words being exactly what she had wanted to hear.

“Wow Storm, that was cheesy. Suddenly, I don’t feel so worried about embarrassing myself after that.” Storm ignored her sarcasm and simply grinned as her light blush betrayed her true feelings on the statement. His eyes followed her carefully as she flew into the distance, becoming a mere speck in his vision.

“C’mon, Dash, you can do it,” he whispered, no trace of doubt remaining in his mind. Rainbow Dash took a few deep breaths before setting her eyes on the horizon and swallowing her inhibition, pushing her wings for all they were worth. She felt the resistance begin to build with the panic of failure, and then it melted away with a glance as she passed over Storm, his steady gaze filling her chest with a burning warmth. Renewed energy coursed through every fiber of her being as she closed her eyes, her focus complete as her singular thought escaped her mouth in a murmur.

“This one’s for you, Storm.” There was a massive explosion as the full spectrum radiated in a wave as Rainbow Dash exceeded the speed of sound, coating the world around for miles in dancing light of all colors. Tears sprang to Storm’s eyes as he beheld the sight, the combination of adoration, excitement, and awe overpowering his emotions. Rainbow continued her feats, quickly wrapping the world around him in the seven colors with corkscrews and dives, ascensions and loops. He was completely unprepared as Rainbow Dash bowled him over, causing them both to tumble with Dash landing atop his chest. The shifting hues drenched them both, and Storm closed his eyes as Rainbow leaned in deep, slowly bringing her lips to his. She could feel the rhythm of his heart pounding against her hooves, and they both savored the moment as the world melted away.

After a time she pulled away just slightly and looked into the eyes of the one who had given her the strength to pull off the feat. “Thank you for believing in me, Storm. I couldn’t have done that without you,” she whispered before a timid squeak caused her to turn her head. Had she not been so enraptured in the moment she would have noticed that Fluttershy had flown up beside the cloud, having seen the Rainboom from a distance and immediately coming to congratulate her. By the time Rainbow Dash had pulled away Fluttershy’s face was matching the color of her hair.

"I, um, sorry! I thought you had done a Rainboom, but I guess that's what happens when you kiss, Rainbow Dash. I'll leave you two alone now," she stammered, pointedly looking towards the ground where most of her friends had gathered. Before either pony could explain she returned to the surface and consulted the curious eyes of the other ponies.

“Fluttershy, is everything all right with Rainbow Dash?” Twilight inquired as she slipped from Cerulean’s back.

“Oh, yes, well you see she was just, um, kissing Storm.”

“That was a kiss? I’d hate to see what happens when...” Cerulean started before his mouth was magically sealed shut. He nodded his understanding to Twilight and she removed the spell with a kiss of her own before turning back to Fluttershy.

“Fluttershy, I hardly think that a reaction like that would result from something a simple as a kiss,” Rarity offered, returning her gaze to the cloud that still showed no movement. Rainbow Dash poked her head over the side and immediately pulled it back as Applejack arrived on the scene.

“Why does this always happen?” she muttered as she desperately tried to calm herself. Storm on the other hand thought it was extremely amusing, and made no attempts to hide it.

“Come on, cheer up. You just had your first kiss under the light of a Sonic Rainboom. I’d say it’s worth a little embarrassment.” She was forced to agree, and together they descended to their friends waiting below. Dash was about to explain the situation when she was bowled over and her sense of taste assailed by cotton candy. She soon suffered an acute shortage of breath as Pinkie locked lips with hers, holding the position much too long before bouncing cheerily around her in a circle.

“It musta been a Rainboom, ‘cause a kiss didn’t work! By the way, Rainbow Dash? You taste spicy.” Rainbow Dash remained on her back, twitching slightly as her mind failed to comprehend a second kiss on such short notice, and by Pinkie Pie of all ponies! Storm was less than sympathetic, both him and Cerulean suffering from fits of laughter while the rest of the mane six looked on in shock.

“Pinkie Pie, you can’t just kiss somepony like that!” Applejack exclaimed as the powers of speech returned to her. “I mean, what if that had been ‘er first one? Come to think of it, was that yers?”

“Nope! I’ve had lots, but that one was pretty tasty! Best one since Cerulean, actually.”

“Wait, what?!?” Twilight shouted, whirling and glaring at a now thoroughly frightened blue stallion.

“It wasn’t like I had a say in the matter, I was glued to the wall!” he cried, frantically waving a hoof. “And besides, it wasn’t so much a kiss as it was her cleaning my face. With her tongue.” And as soon as he said those words, he realized that it sounded much, much worse than a kiss. The rest of the ponies present began to back away and Cerulean realized he was in it deep if he didn’t figure something out. In an act of pure desperation he grabbed Pinkie Pie with his magic and forcibly brought her lips into connection with Twilight’s. There was a collective gasp from the onlookers. “There, we’re even!” And with that he took flight, making straight for the library to start writing his will. Pinkie Pie didn’t mind in the slightest as she enjoyed a new flavor, before bouncing happily back towards Sugarcube Corner having had her fill of kisses for the day.

“That... stallion... is so... in for it!” Twilight screamed as she ignited, leaving scorched earth in her wake as she stalked back towards the library. The friends quickly shot off silent prayers for Cerulean before scattered chuckles spread, lightening the mood.

“Well, Rainbow Dash. That Rainboom of yours really is somethin’. Always makes a scene, that’s t’ be sure.” Applejack said as she turned to her. “...It was a Sonic Rainboom, right?”

“Yes, Applejack, it was. All this time I’ve spent training is finally paying off,” she declared proudly, standing beside Storm.

“Oh, that’s wonderful, Rainbow Dash. I bet you’ll do really good at the competition coming up,” Fluttershy encouraged.

“Quite. One glimpse of a display like that and you’re sure to be a Wonderbolt in no time at all,” Rarity agreed, smiling at her friend’s childlike anticipation.

“Now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. You’re gonna have to keep workin’ at it if you’re gonna win. I’m sure you won’t be the only great flier there, so no slackin’ off just yet. You can do it Rainbow Dash, if ya put forth the effort. You’ve got the skill.”

“You’re right, Applejack. C’mon Storm, there’s still plenty of daylight. Let’s get to training!”

“Training... my grandfather’s manual! Sorry, Rainbow Dash, Twilight took something from me and I need to get it back. Can you train yourself for a bit without the gear? This is really important.” She nodded, and he began to trot towards the library, following the black marks on the road. They ended a few feet from the library which was surprisingly silent. “Hmmm, it seems Cerulean worked things out peacefully,” he mumbled as he approached. There was a slam and a burst of snow as Cerulean shot out of the door and into the sky.

“Cerulean wait, come back!” Twilight cried as she watched him leave, tears streaming from her eyes. The book was forgotten as the lavender mare in front of him sank to the ground, her legs shaking a moment before giving out completely.

“Twilight? What happened?” Storm asked, kneeling beside her.

“Please, Storm, go talk to him. Bring him back... I went too far,” she managed, before she was too overcome with grief to speak. Storm turned in time to see a blue speck dive-bomb down into Everfree Forest and he immediately gave chase. As he landed near where he had seen Cerulean enter he found deep score marks in several trees, a frosty residue dripping from the grooves that had recently been hewed out. As he walked deeper into the forest he felt the ambient temperature begin to drop. In the middle of a small clearing Cerulean sat alone, the sweat and tears the had formed instantly freezing as he slowly lost control of his anger.

“Cerulean? Hey, are you ok?” Cerulean said nothing, and Storm gave a shiver as he approached and sat beside him in a pile of new fallen snow. “...Do you want to talk about it?”

“It wouldn’t make any sense to you,” he replied, his hollow voice more frightening to Storm than the bizarre weather conditions and slices in the trees. “I don’t... I don’t know if I can keep doing this...” Storm mulled over the words silently before speaking in a gentle tone.

“You know, Cerulean, I haven’t been here very long but I’ve really come to look up to you. You’ve only ever given me good advice, and it’s really helped me out a lot. But a wise pony once told me that there is no room for fear in love. Twilight loves you, Cerulean. All it took was seeing you together in the library that one night for me to know that.” Not having anything more to say, Storm returned to the library, leaving Cerulean alone to his thoughts.

“Is he coming back?” Twilight inquired as Storm entered, her worry again flaring as she saw Cerulean was not with him.

“He’ll come back, Twilight. Don’t doubt him so easily.” Storm paused a moment before continuing, giving her a moment to collect herself. “I had originally come to get my book back. Are you done with it?” Twilight descended the steps into her laboratory before returning with a black and yellow hardcover tome. A large lightning bolt adorned the cover with the title reading “The Legacy of Lightning Wing.”

“Twilight, thank you. You’ve done my grandfather proud.” She gave him a feeble smile before turning and walking up the stairs to retire to her bed. Storm quietly excused himself and made for the center of town to look for Rainbow Dash, hoping that the afternoon’s training would help distract him from worrying about his friends. As confidently as he had spoken, he couldn’t help but wonder if he had helped at all.

Dash was lazily completing corkscrews and gut bending spirals with ease under the freedom of her usual constraints, and as Storm arrived they both made for her cloud home to get geared up. After much pleading, he let Rainbow Dash have a small look through the book, which she began absorbing instantaneously. Five minutes later they geared up and she started again with renewed vigor and enthusiasm as her mind processed some of the stunts she had read about, knowing they would dazzle even the stiffest panel of judges.

An hour remained until the sun would be fully set as Flying Grace and Cloudburn stepped off the train. Cloudburn couldn’t explain why but she immediately felt a sense of familiarity with the place, like it was a home to her all along. They immediately made for Quakehoof’s apartment, and Cloudburn braced herself for seeing Storm again.

Quakehoof glanced up from the bills on the table as a timid knock sounded from the door. With a groan he stood, stretching before opening the door to find his love on the other side. She was immediately wrapped in his massive arms, knowing that if she was here again outside of the time arranged then something truly horrible must have transpired.

“Grace, what happened?” he asked slowly as she pulled away. Quakehoof soon matched her grin as she spoke, his heart soaring as the moment he had waited for years finally came.

“Quakehoof, I’m here to stay. Proud Skies won’t touch my family ever again.” Cloudburn stood a respectful distance away, letting them enjoy their reunion. Quakehoof noticed her, and while he had heard Grace speak of Storm’s friends he hadn’t personally met any of them.

“Can I help you, miss?”

“Um... is Storm Blitz here?”

“He’s probably practicing with Rainbow Dash near the outskirts of town. You a friend of his?”

“Yes, my name is Cloudburn. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Quakehoof. Grace, I’m going to try and find him.”

“All right...” she said hesitantly. Grace had urged Cloudburn not to get her hopes up, but she was determined to at least confess to Storm, and she knew that no words would dissuade her. Cloudburn galloped through the town, searching the skies and, seeing a rainbow appear in the distance, altered her course and made straight for it. Even if it was bittersweet, the trip would be worth it just for a moment with Storm.

“How are you adjusting to the new weights, Dash?”

“Ugh, they’re horrible. Do you even have to ask? You’re a slave driver, you know that?” she replied, stretching out her wings and pausing to catch her breath. Storm was in a similar condition, the first set of weights just as heavy as Dash’s and forcing him to push his limits. They had learned through trial and error how to tell when they were nearing a point where flight would no longer be possible while burdened, and as the sky turned pink Storm called a stop. They both landed gratefully in the cool grass, and together they helped remove the weights. They lay looking up at the sky as it slowly changed from pink to crimson, a few sparse clouds drifting lazily in the evening breeze.

Rainbow Dash blushed as Storm’s lips connected delicately with her cheek, and he was surprised as she let out a small giggle as she rolled onto her side so she could see his face. “Hey, you missed.” He smiled and had his eyes half way closed before they snapped open again. Rainbow Dash noticed and rolled over to see a green pegasus mare slowly walking towards them. Storm leapt upright and ran to meet her, throwing his arms around her and hugging her close, unaware as Rainbow Dash looked on, confusion mixing with fear to create a churning in the pit of her stomach.

“Cloudburn, is it really you?” Tears filled the mare’s eyes as she let her head sink into his chest, nodding slowly.

“It’s been five years. I’m glad I haven’t been forgotten.”