• 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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Falling Skies

Chapter 23: Falling Skies

Cloudspire was roughly three times the size of Cloudsdale, with five times as many residents. Nearly half of the inhabitants had shown up to watch the Wonderbolts perform, regardless of which side of the political spectrum they fell under. It was ten minutes before the show was to start, and Proud Skies sat in the best booth, waiting for the Wonderbolts to give their opening speech in his honor, a sure fire way to soothe the petty dissent for his actions at the tryouts. Really, how much could this mindless herd care about some pony half way across Equestria when he was having the best brought in so they can see for themselves?

“Spitfire, if I didn’t know any better, I’d guess you were excited about starting a riot,” Soarin said with a smirk, pausing a moment before chowing into his pre-show pie. Her response was only partially heard over his loud munching, but he knew Spitfire well enough to fill in the blanks.

“Huh, I certainly hope I start a riot. He may have sway over a lot of ponies, but the Wonderbolts belong to nopony, and he will soon find that he’s stuck his hoof into forbidden territory. If I could wring that pompous windbag’s neck without landing myself in jail, he’d have long since expired.” Soarin made no attempts to quell her anger, as he found it quite amusing, since it wasn’t currently directed at him. Having licked the pie tin clean, he cleaned his face and sat next to her.

“You know, if you let Rainbow Dash onto the team she’s gonna steal your spotlight. Are you ok with that?” Spitfire’s expression shifted from angry to competitive at a moment’s notice, a large grin spreading across her face.

“Don’t think I’ll let that rookie just up and win. I’d never tell her so, but she’s likely at least at my level, if not better, but it won’t be much of a show if she wins every time. I’ll just have to make sure to give her a run for her money. Besides, she reminds me a little of somepony else,” she said with a chuckle, glancing at a mirror.

“Fillies and gentlecolts, we welcome you...” the announcer’s faint voice came in from the background amidst thousands of voices cheering.

“So,” Soarin said, shooting Spitfire a roguish grin, “you ready to ruffle some feathers?”

“Heh, are you kidding? Let me at him.” They marched out onto the stage, acknowledging their fans with waves, their appreciation mingled with regret that so many ponies were to be disappointed, but it was necessary, and neither of them had any regrets. Spitfire tapped on the microphone a few times and the crowds quieted down. Spitfire locked eyes with Proud Skies, who sat staring down at her with triumphant eyes. She matched his smile, before it turned to an enraged scowl.

“Citizens of Cloudspire, thank you for coming. Know that this show was sponsored by none other than your very own Proud Skies.” She paused as half of the stadium cheered, while most of the rest muttered to themselves. “And it is on his account that there will be no performance.” She took a step back as the news sunk in, enraged cries slowly building as everypony in the stadium turned to face Proud Skies, his face conveying a mixture of anger and confusion at the sudden turn. He yelled something at one of his supporters and a microphone was quickly brought to him.

“What is the meaning of this insult?”

“Insult? Oh, but we’ve only just begun,” she muttered away from the mic. “Citizens of Cloudspire, I’m sure you’ve all heard about the most recent tryouts we held to determine the next Wonderbolt we’d let into the team. The pegasus that won was the best I’ve seen since Lightning Wing, whom I’m sure you all remember.” She paused as the crowds roared their love for their fallen hero. “This mare, by the name of Rainbow Dash, was trained by Lightning Wing’s methods. She has trained her whole life for a chance to become one of us, and that day, her dreams would have come true.” She paused for effect to let the words sink in. “Proud Skies had her wrongfully disqualified without cause.” The crowds turned towards Proud Skies, who was, even at their distance, turning red with rage. “Hear me, Proud Skies! We will not perform until she is allowed on the team!”

“You cannot command me, I payed my dues and for today, you are mine! Proceed with the show or I shall have you arrested for disturbing the peace!” A few of the more violent pegasi were taken down by his security as they attempted to do him bodily harm, flying over the barrier and being tackled just in time before they collided with him.

“You can burn with your bits, Proud Skies!” Soarin cried, wrenching the microphone away from Spitfire. “We do not perform for money, but for passion! Cloudspire, if you ever wish to see us return, then you better let somepony else take the reigns.” With that, Spitfire and Soarin swept off stage as the riot began. The doors closed behind them and they made their way back to their quarters, where they found two officers waiting for them.

“Are you going to come quietly?” one of them said hesitantly, wing shackles held in a hoof that was noticably shaky.

“No, I’d rather go loudly, can’t you tell?” Spitfire sneered, motioning to the growing tumult outside. “I will not resist you, but if something happens, it’s on your own head. All right, Soarin, are you willing to go to jail for this mare?”

“As many times as it takes, Spitfire. Lead on, gentlecolts.”

Proud Skies slammed the door to his home with his chest heaving, having narrowly escaped mutilation at the hooves of the enraged masses. Grabbing a brief case and filling it with his proposal notes and terms for Celestia, he made a swift exit from a side door and flew straight to the train station in a neighboring town a few miles away. He paid the fare and boarded, his destination Canterlot, and his mind furiously working for a way to redeem the situation. It was a long two day trip with no rest, and no solution to grant him peace. Their meeting was to discuss the proposal that he had mentioned at that blasted dinner, though his pride was so fragmented that he had trouble even remembering what he had written. He closed the briefcase and lay back with a sigh, hoping that sleep would come to take him from his troubles soon. It didn’t.

“Storm, what’s wrong?” Rainbow Dash asked as he sat on the bed but didn’t join her under the covers. “Are you worried about tomorrow?”

“A little. I really don’t know what to expect, and I don’t think it’s going to be anything bad, it’s just... I don’t know.” He let a small smile slip as Rainbow Dash draped her hooves around his neck, having to stand to take the action, given his size.

“The letter said only your family could attend, right?” He nodded once before coming alive as her words filled him with hope. “Well, then you can expect me to be right by your side, Storm. Your mother herself said that I am part of the family, remember?” Storm turned and wrapped her in his hooves, falling sideways and bringing her down with him, drawing her into a tender kiss.

“You’re a devious little mare, you know that?”

“Heh, don’t I? You can be pretty cunning too, Storm. At least, when you’re not busy being a helpless dunce of a stallion.”

“Oh, but Miss Dash, you flatter me,” he said, straight faced, before rolling over and standing over her.

“Hmmm, I somehow don’t think your mind is on tomorrow anymore,” she said with a giggle.

“Is that a problem?” He had been serious, as he never wanted her to feel forced into anything, and he dropped his gaze slightly and prepared to move away when her words put his worries to rest, washing over his anxious soul like a cleansing flood.

“Take a guess,” she whispered, staring up at him with her deep, magenta eyes, and bringing her wings around and stroking his chest. Sleep was soon forgotten as the burning in their chests became one unifying, undying flame, a comforting blaze in the cool of the night.

“Ugh, Storm you’re doing that lovey dovey, staring thing again! Cut it out! Rainbow Dash, you too!” Scootaloo demanded as they held hooves, seated across from the rest of his family on the train. “I”m never gonna have a coltfriend ever, not if it makes me go all crazy like you two.”

“Aw, come on, Scootaloo. Having a coltfriend is super cool, at least if you pick the right one,” Rainbow Dash assured her, to which she gave her a skeptical look but saying nothing. “Thank you again for letting me come, Gra... er, mom.” Flying Grace smiled and nodded, cuddling closer to Quakehoof and closing her eyes. Being pregnant was exhausting, and while the idea of having a child was something Rainbow Dash was excited by, she also knew she was so not ready. She wanted to have at least a few years of fun with the Wonderbolts and her coltfriend before having to worry about maternity leave. She lay her head onto Storm’s lap and closed her eyes, hoping to catch some sleep before arriving in Canterlot. For some reason, exercise at night seemed much more strenuous than her training during the day.

Quakehoof hadn’t been to Canterlot in a very long time, having only been once in his life, and regarded the city with awe. The other ponies, regardless of class, gave him wide berth and blatantly stared at the massive stallion as he and his family made their way towards the castle. Since the meeting time wasn’t until three in the afternoon, they took some time to enjoy the sights and get some tasty, though overpriced, ice cream to offset the summer heat. Scootaloo was becoming less and less enthused about the idea of Rainbow Dash dating her brother, mostly due to their lack of self restraint in the” feed each other and clean up with kisses” habit that seemed to spring from nowhere.

The castle guard greeted them cheerfully, having been alerted of their coming beforehoof, and immediately led them back to a room that had been specified by Celestia. They were instructed to wait there until the princess came to check on them. Grace reassured them that whatever was happening, Celestia had made it quite clear that this trip was to be a joyous occasion for them. They’re anticipation began to build as Grace remained silent on what it was she had sent the princess to spark such a thing.

“I will just say this. Proud Skies won’t be all that proud before the princesses.”

“Proud Skies? Celestia will see you now,” the guard said with a scowl, having seen more than enough of the troublesome pegasus over the last few years. Proud collected himself and carried the briefcase under his wing as he marched in, summoning what was left of pride and putting on his mask.

“So happy you could find the time to see me, Princess Celestia,” he said sarcastically, sitting in one of the lavish chairs arranged around the large room. Luna opened her mouth to teach him a thing or two about respect but drew silent as Celestia shook her head. “Now, before I ask you what you’ve decided, let me give you some information I think you’ll find quite interesting. A certain mare that I believe you know personally, Miss Rainbow Dash, has been disqualified after winning the Wonderbolt’s Tryouts, but I may be willing to rescind my order if you should smile favorably upon my edict.” Luna’s terrifying glare was steadily eating away at his confidence, and he slammed a hoof down on the edge of the chair, feigning confidence and locking eyes. “You can glare away, Luna, but I have the upper hoof. The time has come for you to decide, Celestia!” A terrible churning in the pit of his stomach began as Celestia began to chuckle, placing a hoof on Luna’s shoulders and calming her.

“So, is that what you think?” He sat silent, unsure of what she was hinting at. “Luna, bring them in.” Luna left the room and returned shortly after, Storm and his family in tow. They bowed courteously to the princess before taking their seats on the other side, with Scootaloo sitting upon Storm’s lap and not once ceasing to glare at Proud Skies. “Flying Grace, Luna and I thought it be fitting that you see what is about to unfold. I hope I find your approval.” With this she turned back to Proud Skies, levitating a small stack of papers and setting them in front of him. “So, tell me Proud, who has the upper hoof now?”

“Mom, what are those?” Storm asked as the color drained from Proud Skies’ face.

“Those, Storm, are confessions of the vilest sort. This repulsive creature has, according to these documents, assisted in the murder of Lightning Wing and was planning a second, that of your future sibling,” Luna replied as calmly as possible, which amounted to a seething hiss. Storm felt his fury building before his mother’s response changed his view on the situation.

“Oh my, but it seems my husband has bitten off more than he can chew,” Grace said with a giggle, shooting him a coy look. “However will I survive? Is there any colt who would want me now?” she wailed dramatically before locking lips with a mischievously grinning Quakehoof.

“Hey, Dash, did you hear that? It looks like mom scored a real stallion,” Storm proclaimed, staring straight at Proud who had sunk into the chair.

“Y-you c-can’t prove any of t-this!” Proud cried, slamming the papers down on the ground, trampling them.

“Luna, if you would be so kind?” She nodded and left, returning with Bloodstitch and Nightshade, shackled and flanked by two guards each. “Now, I believe I offered you both a reduction of your sentences for your testimony? I do believe our audience would love to hear what you have to say.”

“I don’t know these ponies! Whatever they say is lies!” Proud shouted, standing upright.

“You’re the one who lied, you said you would protect me!” Nightshade roared, struggling against his bonds and was shoved to the ground by the guards.

“He is just as guilty as I am, your Highness. I will accept my punishment; there is blood on these hooves.” Celestia gave a curt nod and the two witnesses were marched away. Storm set Scootaloo aside and hoisted Proud to his feet, though his legs immediately gave out and he sank again to the floor.

“Come on, Proud, take it like a stallion for once in your life.”

“Yeah, seriously, this is getting embarrassing. Oh, don’t worry, there are probably plenty of rocks who will listen on the moon,” Rainbow Dash quipped, cantering over and standing beside Storm.

“Dear sister, the mare maketh a good suggestion. What say you?”

“Nay, Luna, it would disgrace your fair moon. There is no place in Equestria for this filth.” Proud looked up as the Princess of the Sun towered over him, his mind consumed by terror as he beheld nothing but scorn in her eyes. “Proud Skies, for your crimes against this family and for murder, you shall be banished from Equestria. Should you be seen within my domain again, I shall not be so lenient. You will have three days and no more to make it to the border. Also, all your assets shall be handed over to Flying Grace, and your marriage is hereby annulled. Additionally, as you, a pegasus, have shown such disrespect for your own kind, you shall live the rest of your days without your wings. Luna?” The Lunar Princess all but skipped over before cloaking Proud in a deep blue haze, and everypony gave a soft gasp as his feathers fell to the ground before the wings slowly faded from sight. He grasped madly at his back to find nothing there. Proud then gathered some feathers into his hooves and madly tried to jam them into his back, breaching the skin in his frenzied attempts to undo what Luna’s magic had wrought. As a few trails of blood trickled down his spine, he bowed his face to the floor and wept. Rainbow Dash trotted over and lifted his chin, dealing the final blow with her royal accent.

“Do not worry, for alas, wings are only for flying, am I not correct?” The last fragments of his sanity snapped and he shoved Rainbow Dash onto her back, raising his hoof to strike her. Before Storm could react, Proud was forcefully bucked full in the face, crumpling to a heap unconscious on the floor due to Dash’s back hooves connecting solidly with his jaw. “Why, the very nerve! Touching a lady like that, and one that is taken no less! Princess Celestia, I am ashamed that you keep company such as this!” she railed, causing the room to burst into laughter.

“Have I ever told you how much I love you, Dash?” Storm said as he swept her into his arms as an overwhelming admiration for the mare filled his chest.

“I do seem to recall something to that effect last night.” He shook his head, chiding himself for not seeing that one coming. “Celestia, remind me never to cross you or your sister. Like, ever.”

“Do not fear, Rainbow Dash, thou art forgiven, remember? You have no need to fear us.”

“She is right, Rainbow Dash. You are a dear friend of ours,” Celestia said with a chuckle, wrapping both her and Storm in a fond embrace. As she pulled away she turned to Quakehoof and Grace, who were both shedding tears of joy at finally having the one last barrier between them removed. “I believe Proud Skies had more than enough wealth to support you and Quakehoof for quite some time. In the meantime, I expect that both my sister and I will be invited to the wedding?”

“Indeed,” Quakehoof replied, smiling widely. “Thank you for letting us watch, Celestia, Luna. That was something I’d only ever dreamed of being able to witness.” Celestia and Luna looked at each other before matching his smile.

“Oh, believe me, the pleasure was all ours.”