• 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.

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All For One

Chapter 20: All for One

A series of soft knocks on the door roused Storm from his place of rest on the couch. He took a moment to stretch, yawning deeply and wondering who could possibly be at the door at one in the morning. The Wonderbolt Tryouts were tomorrow in Cloudsdale, and he needed all the sleep he could get. To his surprise, he cracked open the door to find Rainbow Dash, looking terribly tired and looking up at him with pleading eyes.

“What’s wrong, Rainbow Dash?”

“I... I can’t sleep, I’m too nervous. I can’t get tomorrow out of my head, and,” she started before Storm’s hoof gently sealed her mouth, moving over to caress her cheek.

“Come on, let’s get you home. No arguments! As your trainer, I say you need sleep.” His words were commanding but his tone gentle, and they flew back to her house in silence. They made their way back to her room, where he drew back the covers and motioned her to lie down. She obeyed and rolled onto her side, facing away from him. She knew she wouldn’t be able to perform with so little sleep, and she had just closed her eyes when Storm eased her over onto her stomach, kneeling over her and beginning to massage her still slightly sore back. As the circular motions continued she felt her eyes grow heavy, his body heat flooding through her and easing her gently into the land of dreams. Storm continued the treatment even after he began to hear her snores, and after about thirty minutes he lay down next to her, gently eased his hooves and wings around her, and drifted off to sleep.

“...ash? Rainbow Dash, you need to wake up.” She slowly opened her eyes and found herself curled against Storm. The fear that she had previously forgotten rose from the pit of her stomach, and Storm squeezed her tightly as she buried her face into his chest.

“Do I have to go?” It was a curious question. She had spent her whole life dreaming about an opportunity like this, and now that she was face to face with making her hopes and expectations a reality, was she really going to walk away?

“Rainbow Dash, before I answer I want you to know that no matter what you choose today, I will stand by you, supporting you one hundred percent. But I also know that you will always look back on today with regret if you opt out now, wondering about what could have been. So, I really think you should follow through. Win this for me, win this for you, and do my grandfather proud, because nopony is more deserving of a shot at the Wonderbolts than you.” She said nothing for a minute or two, then nodded slowly.

“Ok, Storm, I’ll do it for you. But, please, just hold me a little while longer,” she said softly, and she felt his wings envelop her fully, the light of day all but cut off until all she could see was Storm. His eyes shone dimly against the darkness, her guiding light and only source of comfort as her confidence desperately tried to escape. He allowed her ten minutes of peace before withdrawing his wings and helping her out of bed. She put some food out for Tank, gave one last look at her house, and took wing towards the arena, where faint shouting could already be heard from her doorstep.

The coliseum that had been used for the Junior Fliers Competition was tiny compared to the one that loomed in the distance as they approached, able to house as many as two thousand pegasi. Much to Rainbow Dash’s dismay, even an hour before the show was to start it was already filled a half of the way full. Pegasi from all over Equestria were pouring into the main entrance, and off to the side was a smaller entrance for contestants and their trainers. There were many more contestants than she had imagined there would be.

“Name?” came a voice carrying not the slightest interest.

“R-Rainbow Dash,” she replied, stuttering a little.

“Here’s your number, proceed.” She was immediately waved through by security, and stared down at her number in disbelief. Seventy four? She glanced back and ponies were still arriving, and the dread threatened to send her into dry heaves as stage fright took a solid hold of her heart. Storm led her around to the properly numbered room, amazed that they had managed to provide individual rooms for every contestant, small though they were. Forty five minutes remained before they had to proceed backstage to get prepped.

The room was fairly bare, containing a mirror, two chairs, and a table with some fresh fruit. Storm gave a small sigh as Rainbow Dash started trotting circles around the table, staring at the floor. If she didn’t perk up soon, there was no way she was going to be able to get through the preliminaries, much less win the competition. The contestants would compete five at a time for the first set, with only one pony advancing from each. From there, a more rigorous set of trials would be completed four at a time, again with only the top pony moving forward. After that, only the top ten ponies would remain, and each was to have a prepared demonstration of their abilities ready for a panel of judges. Storm had to admit that the stakes were high, but Rainbow Dash had the talent, if he could just find a way to calm her down enough to utilize it.

“Wha? Storm, what are you doing?” she asked as her table was suddenly pushed against the wall, making an unpleasant screeching noise. He then trotted over and locked the door, furthering her confusion.

“Rainbow Dash, I know you’re scared. I know you probably feel like you’re just going to blow it, that you’re going to walk away from here in shame.”

“Gee, thanks for pointing that out, Storm. I feel better already.” Her sullen reply left Storm unfazed as he walked up behind her and began stroking her wings, which quickly spread open and reached towards the walls on either side. “Storm? W-what are you doing?”

“I didn’t bring you this far to see you fail, Rainbow Dash. Re-focus your mind, clear it of everything except that which you hold dearest to you, and let that fuel your desire.” She closed her eyes and her mind drifted through all the countless times she had helped her friends, and the times they had helped her. The laughter, the tears, everything she had experienced poured down on her as Storm moved in front of her and folded her wings into his own. She placed her hooves on his chest and pushed him against the wall, staring up at him with pleading eyes.

“Please... give me strength, Storm Blitz.” His warming smile brought her to life as he kissed her deeply, one hoof stroking her mane and the other gently caressing her flank. Her worries were soon replaced with a singular desire to make the stallion in her arms happy, to let every heartbeat be for him and him only, and when the five minute call came she felt no fear, no trepidation, only resolve. She was going to become a Wonderbolt.

“What the hay? What are you all doing here?” she replied with shock as Twilight, Cerulean and the rest greeted the couple as they stepped out. She immediately attempted to stow her wings but they were quite content to stay unfurled, and she soon gave up trying to force it.

“Stress relief, Storm?” Cerulean asked.

“Indeed,” he replied with a low chuckle.

“You didn’t expect to do this alone, did you? I was there at your previous competition, and I shall cheer you on here as well,” Rarity declared, the rest nodding their agreement.

“If anypony can win this, it’s you Dash. Show ‘em how t’ do it, Ponyville style!” Applejack whooped, stomping a hoof.

“Everypony, thank you. Seriously, you just made my day.”

“Attention all contestants: please proceed to your designated places. Repeat...” the voice blared over the speakers.

“All right, everypony, prepare to be amazed. C’mon, Storm Blitz, we have a contest to win!” Their friends cheers sent them away and Rainbow Dash donned her number and stretched her limbs. She wished she had a lower number so she could get to the showing off, but she discussed her routine with Storm until it was her time. The first stage of the competition was a test of speed and agility. It combined a ten lap race with an intense obstacle course, with time penalties for every cloud a pony came into contact with. Getting to the finish line first wouldn’t matter if she plowed through every cloud in her path, and there were many. Still, with her freedom from the weights, she took her place on the line and hunched down, ready to show the world who was the greatest flier in Ponyville.

“Look, Spitfire, it’s your favorite little fan,” Soarin chuckled as Rainbow Dash took her position, awaiting the starting call. “I know that pulling off a Sonic Rainboom is impressive to any pegasus, but it will take more than pure speed to make it to the top. Do you really think she has what it takes?” His leader nodded, smiling.

“Just watch, Soarin. She’s not much different from you, she’s put her whole life towards this day. And with the grandson of Lightning Wing as her trainer, we’re sure to see something impressive today.” She fell silent as the starting gun fired, and Rainbow Dash immediately pulled ahead of the competition, nimbly weaving through the clouds without touching a single one. Soarin’s jaw dropped as she finished her tenth lap as the others were just coming around their seventh, but seeing them ahead she assumed she had fallen behind and pushed harder, completing a total of fourteen perfect laps before the flag pony stopped her, explaining that she had finished laps ago. “That, right there, is what the Wonderbolts need. I’m pretty sure she just set some kind of record, and look, she’s not even showing off. She’s perfect.”

“Hmmm, so ten perfect laps and passing the rest of the competition isn’t enough, you have to do four more just for kicks? Way to stick it to ‘em, Dash,” Storm said with a grin as she trotted back, brimming with confidence.

“Well, the Wonderbolts are show ponies, and it’s no good if the audience doesn’t have something exciting to feed on, right?” He held her close as they watched the rest of the contestants compete, her head resting lightly on his chest. “Still, about the final act of our routine, do you think they will allow you to help?”

“You make a good point, as it’s supposed to be a solo act. Try to get Spitfire or Soarin’s attention so I can speak with them.” She walked to the edge of the stage she was on with the rest of the winners and waved in Spitfire’s direction, who fortunately looked straight at her. Rainbow Dash motioned her over as the other contestants snickered. As if the leader of the Wonderbolts would acknowledge a simple show off like her! They soon dropped silent as she left her seat near the judges and flew high so as to not disturb the proceedings then drop like a rock, landing lightly in front of Rainbow Dash.

“Is there something I can help you with?”

“I’m not meaning to be presumptuous, but the rules clearly state that I must perform alone. However, the stunt I want to close my act with is really dangerous, and I would need Storm’s help getting it set up. Is there any way an exception could be made to allow him onto the field?”

“It would be difficult even for me to swing such a thing, can you give me more details?”

“I assume you’re familiar with Lightning Wing’s stunts?”

“Wouldn’t be able to call myself a Wonderbolt without studying him, he was one of the best. Wait, don’t tell me...” she said, glancing at Storm Blitz.

“Ever heard of lightning racing?”

“Rainbow Dash, do you have any idea how dangerous that is? One mistake and your career could be over for good.”

“Oh, don’t worry, that’s only half of the stunt. So, can you get permission?”

“I’ll do my best, though even if they agree, know that you will be put under that much more pressure and scrutiny. Are you ok with that?”

“Oh yeah, it’s gonna be awesome, you’ll see. Besides,” she said, looking up at Storm, “I have all the confidence I could need.” Spitfire gave them a nod and took off, landing beside Soarin with an excited grin pasted on her face.

“So, what did she want?”

“She wants to do what hasn’t been done in years. She’s going to race lightning.”

“What, are you serious?” he exclaimed, knowing exactly how dangerous that was.

“That’s not the half of it, she’s going to combine it with another stunt she didn’t mention. If she can pull this off, it will be the single greatest stunt I’ve ever heard of. But if she fails, she likely won’t be alive to suffer from the shame.”

The second tier of the competition was a twenty lap race within a startling dangerous track, half of the obstacles being agitated storm clouds that, should they be broken, would be equivocal to taking a bolt of lightning full force. In addition, a time limit was put on each lap to prevent careful calculations, with hitting the white clouds detracting from the lap time, meaning easy disqualification for anypony too rushed. They wanted only the best, and it wasn’t even guaranteed that there would be a winner each set. Pegasi were stationed underneath in case one of the contestants took one storm cloud too many and fell, which would likely be more than Rainbow Dash cared to admit.

She was due to compete in the fifth set, and the first two didn’t even yield a winner, the contestants either disqualified or falling unconscious towards the ground far below. The third and fourth were barely finished, but the finalists cried out their victory to the skies upon completion all the same. Storm placed a firm hoof on her shoulder and nodded, sending her away and praying that, if nothing else, she would escape unharmed, even if this was foal’s play compared to the stunt they had planned. Rainbow Dash cast one more glance at Storm and steeled herself as the judge gave the final countdown.

“Three... two... one... Go!”

Spitfire and Soarin watched with complete fascination as she completed the first ten laps ahead of schedule, though they noticed a slight decrease in her speeds as she proceeded into the last half. Rainbow Dash was well ahead of the competition, but her speed had started to agitate the usually harmless white clouds to a point that they started to drift, forming large blocks that threatened to obscure the path completely, but she pressed on, completing laps eighteen and nineteen with great effort before starting the final circuit.

“Soarin, look!” Spitfire said, pointing towards the finish line where a massive cloud had all but obscured the finish.

“Don’t do it,” Soarin said through clenched teeth. “A cloud that size could easily cripple her, this competition isn’t worth losing your wings.”

“On the contrary, that mare lives and breaths for a chance for at being a Wonderbolt. If she fails now, she’ll never forgive herself. Still, I’m not sure even she can,” she said before stopping to see how Rainbow Dash reacted to the obstruction. Spitfire gave a small gasp of shock as the cyan mare threw herself into a series of speedy corkscrews, punching straight through amidst a shower of sparks. She faltered as she passed the finish line amidst cries of adoration from the crowd, placing a hoof to her head as Storm flew out to attend to her, leading her to the victor’s stand where the other two pegasi that had won regarded her with fascination.

“Dash, are you all right? That was really dangerous, you know.”

“This from the pegasus that shrugs off lightning like rain,” she said, wincing. She still had full motor control but the tips of her limbs were still attempting to shake off the numbness, and a migraine was trying to take a hold regardless of her dire mental warnings. “I don’t have the luxury of hesitation. Don’t worry, I’m fine, though if you hadn’t trained me and I wasn’t expecting it, I think that would have been the end for my competition.” An enraged shout from near the security station caused her to laugh, Rarity’s voice rising above the clamor of the crowds.

“I don’t care if it’s a restricted area or not, that pegasus is my friend and I will make sure she is all right, do you hear me? Get your hooves off of me, scoundrel!” Rainbow Dash trotted over and gave the guard a good glare as she was about to have Rarity swiftly escorted from the stadium.

“Easy there, she’s cool. They’re close friends of mine,” she quickly explained, motioning to the rest of her friends that had gathered behind Rarity.

“Rainbow Dash, are you all right? That looked painful,” Twilight said, giving her body a good examination.

“There’s some numbness in my hooves, and my head is killing me, but I’ll live.”

“Well that’s no way to compete. Come here,” Twilight demanded. She dutifully obeyed, and soon she was bathed in a soft violet glow, the tingling sensation in her extremities draining away and the pounding in the back of her head slowly receding. “There, all better?”

“Wow, yeah, thanks Twilight!”

“Good luck with the last part, Rainbow Dash. I hope you win,” Fluttershy said, offering a dainty cheer.

“Thanks, everypony. I won’t disappoint you all, I promise.”

“You couldn’t disappoint us if ya tried, sugarcube. We’re beside you, win or lose, fair weather or foul.” Rainbow Dash nodded confidently, returning to the victor’s box with tears in her eyes.

A total of six ponies made it to the finals, and anxiety ran high as they were assigned their performance order. Rainbow Dash had been hoping to go first, if only to get it out of the way, but she found herself in the last slot. An hour break was called for the finalists to make any last minute preparations, and right as Storm and Dash turned to leave Soarin landed nearby and trotted over.

“Storm has been cleared to assist you for the final stage of your performance. Please be careful, Rainbow Dash. It will be hard to please a crowd with no wings, or worse.” She nodded and he took off, having said his piece.

“That really, really didn’t help my nerves,” she muttered as they made their way back to room number seventy four.

“Hmmm, well as much as I’d like to fix that, I think a bite to eat may do you better in the long run. You haven’t eaten all morning. Do you think you could stomach anything?”

“Most likely, but not a lot, just a little something to keep me going.”

“How about some cupcakes?” Pinkie Pie inquired, popping up beside them.

“How did you even get back here, Pinkie? And are they normal cupcakes? Nothing special added to them, the frosting, the wrapping, or anything else that may or may not have come into contact with them?”

“Nope, just regular cupcakes!” she beamed, holding out the box. Rainbow Dash picked out two and handed one to Storm, thanking Pinkie Pie who waved cheerfully before bolting from security. They entered their room and Storm sat on the floor with his back against the wall, motioning Dash to take a seat next to him. She instead sat upon his lap, laying against him and closing her eyes, her face flushing slightly as Storm’s muscular wings draped around her. They passed the remaining time in silence, though every second was sweet, a moment Rainbow Dash promised herself to treasure. It didn’t seem like long before the competition resumed, and she again stepped out into the daylight.

Storm refused to let her watch the performances, knowing that if she did she would only have starting comparing herself to the others, which would in turn give rise to doubt. She had struggled for a bit before falling into silence, though the explosive cheers from the act before hers told her that she would be hard pressed to top it. Storm himself was shocked, though he said nothing. He knew that if they could work together, then nopony could top them.

“And now, would the final contestant, Miss Rainbow Dash, please make her way to the center of the coliseum.”

“This is it, Dash. Let’s show them what a true Wonberbolt is made of.”

“You got it, Storm. The Wonderbolts are about to get twenty percent cooler.” They stopped short as the announcer began to speak.

“Due to the danger of your proposed stunt, you have been selected to go last. Any materials required will be provided for you, and no liability is assumed by this establishment, agreed?”

“Understood. We request a large amount of cloud be added to the skies above the coliseum,” Storm replied without hesitation. The judges gave the weather pegasi a nod, and soon a single, massive cloud was formed a good twenty feet above the stands. Their task finished, the pegasi left the field and all eyes turned towards Rainbow Dash and Storm.

“You may begin.” Storm and Rainbow Dash took off in unison, plowing a massive hole through the cloud. Rainbow Dash streaked into the distance while Storm flew circles around the center, and the spectators began to speak in hushed whispers as the clouds darkened, the crackle of electricity clearly audible. Having hollowed the center sufficiently, he began stretching the ends into a long shaft, breaking it apart every couple of feet so the crowds could see through the sides. A bolt of lighting cracked through the center, striking Storm and causing a gasp from the crowds, who stared amazed as he shrugged off the blow, continuing his preparations as Rainbow Dash continued towards her assigned spot, the perfect distance from the center of the charged mass that had become a speck in the distance. Having elongated the clouds to their desired positions, he exited the mass and began flying tight circles around the structure with increasing speeds, the once immobile mass quickly becoming a dangerous maelstrom, nearly constant bolts of lightning shooting forth in all directions. His task done he took his place in the center, causing cries of surprise and worry from everypony watching below.

“Spitfire, is that colt trying to get himself killed? He’s been struck at least five times but he’s still flying; that’s unheard of!”

“I can’t explain it either, Soarin. No pegasus can withstand that kind of trauma, but he doesn’t appear fazed at all. The same can’t be said for Rainbow Dash, though. I really hope she lives through this. I don’t know what I’d do if I saw that much passion die so young.”

Something was wrong. Storm had given her the go ahead, but she remained poised above the whirling mass of destructive lightning. If she didn’t act soon, the judges would disqualify her. She was too far away for his voice to reach her, but he had to do something. A single though ran through his mind, and he knew it was the answer. Flying towards the top, he scraped his wings along the side, the electricity coating his body and crackling dangerously as the tips of his wings caught fire. As indestructible as he may appear, even his body had a limit, and as he neared the top he let one last bolt strike him before he closed his eyes and folded his wings, allowing himself to fall.

“Oh no, Storm! Hang on!” Rainbow Dash cried as she saw him begin his descent. Desperation replaced her gut wrenching fear of failure as the faint red glow of his wings came into view. Her eyes darted back and forth, watching the lightning shooting across each ring, the hours spent training and every moment spent with Storm flashing through her mind at once. Even if she lost, even if she had to sacrifice herself, she wasn’t going to lose what was dearest to her heart. She ignored the growing cries of horror sounding from the crowd still far below and pushed herself to the limit, slicing through the resistance of the air that attempted to stand between her and Storm. The lightning raced past her as she wheeled past every bolt, and with one last push broke through the barrier.

Nopony present had ever witnessed the sight that transfixed everpony in the stands, the judges leaping from their seats as their jaws hit the floor. At precisely the center of the terrifying storm a massive explosion sounded as rainbow light dispelled the clouds, sending out multi-hued bolts of lightning scattering in all direction, forking and branching out over at least a mile radius. The resulting shock wave drenched the land in a myriad of colors and flooded the coliseum with magic, a thin layer of static suffusing the area and causing the very air to shimmer. Absolute silence followed in the wake, followed by ear splitting cheers as every pony around shouted their praise at the sight. All of this was background noise to Rainbow Dash as she clung to the one thing that truly mattered, and as she hoisted him back to the stands she landed in a heap over him.

“Storm? Storm, please, wake up!”

“Easy, Dash, my head. Oooh, that’s the last time I take twenty bolts of lightning without a break,” he moaned, smiling up at Rainbow Dash.

“You idiot! Look at yourself, you could have died!” Storm took a moment to check the damage, and was amazed that he could still fly. A large portion of his mane had been charred black, and the scent of burning feathers permeated the air, having lost a good fifteen to twenty percent of them from the blaze that wrapped his wings. It would take weeks, maybe months for the damages to heal, but it was worth it, and his chuckles only confused Rainbow Dash even more.

“You hear that, Dash?” She suddenly noticed the deafening roar in the background, turning with wonder to see everypony in the stadium singing her praises to the heavens. Storm grabbed her by the hoof and flew her out to the center, where she turned a slow circle, unable to come to terms with the fact that her dreams were becoming reality right before her very eyes.

“The judges will now deliberate, and decide on a winner for the competition. Would the finalists please join Miss Dash at the center of the coliseum.” Rainbow Dash partially hid behind Storm as the other’s approached, expecting to be despised for her stunt but instead they lauded her abilities, congratulating her on her victory and encouraging her to always strive to reach new limits. Storm held her proudly as tears streamed down her face, the full weight of her joy spilling forth. “The winner for this years Wonderbolt Tryout has been decided. Please welcome the newest addition to Equestria’s finest fliers, Miss Rai...” and suddenly a hoof was slapped over the microphone. Even from their position, shouts of rage could be heard from the judges as a well dressed pegasus held up a paper and yelling back. Soarin flew over and ripped it to pieces, and the shouts continued before slowly coming to an end. The announcer made no attempt to hide the anger in his voice as he spoke.

“By the decree of Proud Skies, Rainbow Dash has been disqualified.”