• Published 8th Feb 2012
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Ditz and Spitz: Origin of Derpy - Poinger



Derpy is happy with her life, until Spitfire stirs memories of the past they shared...

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Part 5: The Best Young Flier

She saw the cloud begin to spin out of the corner of her eye, felt the shift in the air current around it. She had not gotten it spinning very fast before it abruptly sucked her in. She got trapped in the spin and shot out backwards, barely managing to stop herself before hitting the cloudface below.

"Manure-smelling, spinning son of a…" She landed, quickly launched a short tirade of curses aimed at clouds everywhere, and stomped the cloudface beneath her. Eventually, she ran out of curses and took a calming breath, which did little to actually calm her, then launched herself toward the next detested white mass.

She had gotten the new cloud spinning a bit faster than the first before she lost control, but she did not manage to completely stop her herself this time and crashed into the cloudface. Only briefly bothered by the light impact, she jumped back to her hooves and set a dagger gaze on the cloud. By Celestia, this cloud was just—

"Hey, Spitz. Whatcha doing?"

Though Ditzy’s voice wasn't particularly loud, it made the distracted pegasus jump a bit.

"Hey. How'd you know where I was? I didn't expect anyone to find me here." She didn't turn around, and her voice sounded strained even to her.

"You always come here when you want to be alone. Yeah, I figured I'd work on my routine a bit. I've had one in mind for a while." Ditzy's voice was still soft. She'd never heard her speak that way. Not a whisper, but… gentle.

She didn't need to be coddled. "You're practicing pretty early. Wish I'd done that instead of going out with just a couple months of planning and making a fool of myself yesterday."

Ditzy walked up and put a hoof on her shoulder, patting her gently. "Oh, don't say that. I thought you were amazing."

Her eyes stung. She didn't need to be coddled, and she really didn't need to be pitied. She pulled her shoulder away. Her tone was ripe with sarcasm, but her voice was shaking. "Oh, yes, I was just fabulous, wasn't I, sitting there in 5th place? Well, it's too bad that nopony cares what you think or I would have taken that crown away."

The hoof stopped patting and started shaking. "Well… maybe nopony cares what I think, but I'd hoped that maybe you would." She spun around, heading for the exit.

She had made it about a dozen steps away before Spitfire whipped her head around and reached out to Ditzy with a hoof. "Ditzy, wait."

She went a couple more steps before complying. Her harsh look melted to one of concern as she looked back over her shoulder.

Spitifire's voice was tremulous and strained. "I'm… I'm sorry… I just…" The hoof which had been reaching out to her retreating friend started to knead at her eyes. Her gaze dropped to the clouds beneath her.

She felt like she was about to cry.

She never cried.

Suddenly, Ditzy was there, pulling her now-sniffling friend into a half-hug. Spitfire leaned on her shoulder, breathing ragged, sniffling madly and her eyes filling with tears. But the tears never fell. Despite her failure and missing her chance at what she wanted most, she still could not cry.

Ditzy held her as her breathing returned to normal and she started to get a hold of herself. She gently pulled out of the hug, blushing slightly.

"You all right?"

"Yeah…" She sniffled again. "Yeah, I think I'll be okay." Her eyes were still watery and her smile was half-hearted, but she felt better. "So, uh… you said you were here to work out your routine?"

"Huh? Oh, yeah. I was planning to. Why?"

She swirled her hoof on the cloudface, her blush growing a bit deeper. "Could… could I see it?"

Ditzy raised an eyebrow at her. "What?"

"I mean, you saw my routine yesterday. I just wanna see what I'm gonna be up against, is all." She gave a short chuckle and a forced smile.

She contemplated a moment before smiling gently. "Sure. I could use your input on it anyway. Just remember, it's still pretty rough right now," she said, shaking a hoof at her with mock sternness, "so don't just shoot my wings full of holes, okay?"

Her smile grew more genuine. "Deal."

By the time Ditzy had her clouds in place, Spitfire was almost back to normal. Her face still felt a bit hot, but at least she wasn't sniffling anymore.

Ditzy's ring section was impressive as always, though a bit simple for a mare of her skill, and while she was a bit shaky as she went through her sharp-turn pillars, her free-flight at the end removed any lingering doubt as to why she was named MVP of the Skydancers. But it had been made painfully obvious to the observing pegasus that if you didn't have both speed and grace, you wouldn't place.

Ditzy just didn't have the speed. Compared to the pegasi they'd seen yesterday, her relatively dainty pace was not that impressive.

The performing pegasus landed next to her and gave her a look that was less than hopeful.

"So, what'd you think?"

She was careful to keep her face neutral. "It was pretty good. I saw you slip a bit during the pillars, but I think you caught that."

"You didn't think it was too slow?"

"Oh, pssh." She gave Ditzy a disregarding hoof wave. "You know me. I think everything's too slow."

Ditzy slumped. Well, she hadn't really expected it to work. Ditz was too self-critical to be so easily assuaged. "It's too slow. I saw them yesterday; almost everypony who got above 7th place was almost as fast as…" She turned to look at her.

"…As what?"

"As you." Her discouraged expression slowly faded as she began to pace, occasionally tapping her chin in thought. After a few moments, she stopped pacing and stood in front of Spitfire. "Okay. I have an idea." She held up an upturned right hoof. "I've got the stunt flying part down, but I'm too slow to be exciting." She switched, holding her left hoof upturned. "You're one of the fastest fliers ever," Spitfire nodded graciously, "But your precision flying is—uhhh… needs work."

She nodded again, if a bit less enthusiastically. "No denying that."

Her voice picked up in excitement. "So if I teach you about stunt flying and you can train me to fly faster..." She reared up and slammed her front hooves together with a resonating clop. "Boom! We'll win for sure!"

Spitfire's smile turned slightly sour. "Teach each other? I dunno, Ditz; that'd just be too weird."

"Hey, I'm still flight planner for the Skydancers, and you were Team Captain of Junior Speedsters for like two and a half years. We were both multi-year MVPs. Who the heck better to teach us than each other?"

"Well, I was thinking of asking mom to—"

"Ha! Yeah right. I mean, no offense, but we both know what your mom's schedule is like."

She had her there. She hadn't really harbored much hope of her mom helping her out anyway. She'd be lucky to get an hour of training a month out of the perpetually busy Wonderbolt. She let out a long sigh. "Okay. Let's do it."

"Yes!" She shot out her foreleg and Spitfire quickly high-hoofed her, then she spirited over to her saddlebags, returning with her school planner and a pencil. She leaned down and set them on the cloudface, flipped through the planner to the last week of the year and carefully tore it out. She took up the pencil and scribbled furiously, then spit it out to point at the items she had outlined in the week.
"Okay. So I have Skydancers practice after school until six, except Fridays, and you work at the weather factory...?"

"Eight to five."

She scribbled it in. "Okay, so that's seven to ten in the evening, then five to seven in the morning. Say noon to six on Saturday, then Sundays off?"

She mulled it over a bit before nodding. "Yeah, that works."

"So I'll teach you in the evening and you teach in the morning."

"Nah, alternate it. I'll do Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the morning and Tuesday and Thursday evenings."

"And we work on routines Saturday."

"Right."

As they planned, Spitfire shot a defiant glare at her own saddlebags, within which lay yesterday's hated white ribbon. She had never lost a competition before, but she sure wasn't going to a second time.


Spitfire stared up at her archnemisis, which floated patiently waiting for her, mocking her with its soft, puffy white substance which she knew stung quite a bit when slammed into. She refocused from the cloud back to her… teacher? Mentor? Yeesh, what was she supposed to call her friend-turned-instructor? One thing was for sure: Ditzy sure seemed to enjoy her position, and she was more long-winded than quite a few of Spitfire's real teachers had been.

"—so when cloudspinning, it's important that you give to the cloud's pull a bit. If you try and fight it too hard, you'll either break away or get on a bad angle and get sucked in. Also, try to lean in toward the cloud a bit. Angle your wings like this, okay?"

She was so lost. "Uhh… okay!"

Spitfire took off, soaring up and around the cloud, trying to do everything Ditzy had told her to do. She failed miserably and once again tumbled into the spinning cloud. "WOOOAAAAH!" She shot out of the cloud, Ditzy barely managing to dive out of the way. She had stopped, but her world was still spinning, and far faster than the cloud had been. She clutched her head and groaned, praying for the vertigo to end.

Her impromptu instructor had no sympathy for her. "What was that? Did you even listen to me at all?"

She groaned again. "Gimme a sec here…"

Ditzy crossed her arms and hovered impatiently until Spitfire got herself under control. Once her head left her arms, the waiting pegasus continued bombarding her. "You were fighting the pull, you didn't angle your wings at all, your flight track was—"

"DITZ!" Her friend stopped, momentarily shocked by her outburst. "Look, I'm not one of your synchronized flier buddies, all right? I've never had stunt flying lessons and the most I manipulate clouds at work is to push them around! I didn't get half of what you said to do!" She took a slow breath and continued a bit more calmly. "Look, if this is gonna work, you're gonna have to explain a lot of this to me, and not just yell at me about how lousy I am."

Her face fell from the chastisement. "You're right. I'm sorry. I guess this will take more getting used to than I'd thought." She chuckled weakly, then held her wing out at an angle, pointing to it with a hoof. "Okay, look here. You angle your wing to better line up with the cloud's pull…"


Ditzy half-stumbled into the gym, with eyelids drooping and yawning blearily. She staggered over to her annoyingly active friend who was busy doing push-ups. "Mgghfh."

Spitfire stopped her warm-up and fixed the dour Ditzy with a bright, cheerful smile. "And good morning to you! It's a wonderful day we have ahead of us, so let's meet it with some energy and a big smile!"

Ditzy was not amused and shot her a poisonous look. "Tell me why I thought five a.m. training was a good idea?"

"Oh, I can't remember. Something about Best Young Flier or something?"

"Ah, that was it. Well, I'm not gonna be best young anything at five in the morning till that coffee-bean muffin kicks in… anyhow, what are we doing? Push-ups?" Sounded easy enough.

She motioned the slowly waking pegasus to follow her over to the track, where two saddles affixed with weights were waiting on the simple loop of cloud. "Weighted flying!"

"…Huh?"

"It isn't too complicated, unlike somepony's lessons." Ditzy rolled her eyes and made a small circle with her hoof, motioning her to get on with it. "You just put on the saddle and fly laps. The extra weight helps build wing strength. Oh, and remember to time your breathing like I told you about last time. It'll help you out a lot."

"That doesn't sound too hard. Let's get to it." She leaned down toward the nearest saddle when Spitfire put her hoof on it.

"This one's mine. That one," she said, pointing a hoof at the other saddle, "is yours."

Ditzy looked at the other saddle, then back to Spitfire indignantly. "Oh, come on. Yours has more than twice the weight of mine!"

"Well, seeing as you haven't ever done this training before and that your wings are still a little shorter than mine, it seemed like a good idea."

"Fine!" She grumbled a bit, but worked her way into the saddle. Give her a kiddie version, would she?

Two laps later she had forgiven Spitz completely and just wanted to stagger over the finish line and go die somewhere. She finally reached the line and collapsed onto the cloudface, panting heavily.

Spitfire stopped and turned around, flying back over to her. The racing freak was just barely starting to sweat. "Uhh, Ditz…we're supposed to go for four laps, remember?

She groaned, fighting the feeling of nausea, but she managed to pull herself back up and slowly took off flying again.


"Wait, we're not gonna keep cloudspinning?"

Ditzy shook her head. "Nah, not today. We're not really getting anywhere with it right now. So I thought we'd try..." She lowered her voice lowered dramatically. "Rings."

"Oh, joy." The one thing she could possibly be worse at than cloudspinning.

"Now, now, rings are a great introduction to stunt flying, they just take some practice." She motioned for Spitfire up beside her as she slowly flew toward the ring slalom she had assembled. "One of the crucial components of stunt flying is that it requires a different method of thought than racing. In a race, you focus on the now: How fast am I going? How much farther do I have to go? What place am I in?

"While stunt flying, while in the rings, you have to think ahead, and perform many little motions in preparation for one big move. For example," she waved ahead of her, where she was approaching the first ring, "I should start twisting, shift my weight, and angle my wings while I am still inside this first ring so that I can immediately barrel roll and make the next. By doing it ahead of time, the motion looks smooth and practiced, and is far more controlled than trying to do it all at once." She demonstrated her barrel roll, which came off just as smooth as she had claimed it would. "You try."

She was a bit hesitant. "All right…" She tried to twist and angle ahead of time as Ditzy had, but only ended up rolling too early and feeling the slap of the cloud as she broke through the ring.

"No, too early. You tried to do it all at once. Less reflex, more thought."

"Yeah, I know."

"Okay, again." She went to the broken ring and flew through very slowly. "You have to start twisting right here, like this…"


She looked askance at the newest torture equipment Spitz was bringing out. It didn't look so bad, just… odd. "What the heck is that?"

Spitfire cackled. "This, my friend, will make weighted saddles seem a pleasant memory."

"They look like bandages." There was something embedded in the cloth, but she couldn't make out just what they… oh. "Bandages with weights?"

She lifted one of the long, cloth strips and extended a wing. "Yup, pretty much." She expertly wrapped the strip around her wing so that the embedded weights ran in a line along the underside. "The principle isn't too difficult: you just wrap and flap." She gave a few slow wing beats. "Unlike weighted saddles, wing wraps focus solely on the wings, rather than the wing and back. Just don't start off too heavy; these things can sprain your wingjoint in a heartbeat if you do."

After her third attempt at wrapping her wings failed, Spitfire helped her wrap them and supervised her first few flaps to ensure the weight and motions were right. Ditzy kept glancing at her wings as she flapped in place; they felt like they were larger than they should be. "This feels really weird."

"You'll get used to it. Okay, four sets, then we do timed laps. We gotta see if you can shave a minute off your training circuit…"


Spitfire sat on the cloudface, looking at that… that sun-blasted cloud to Ditzy and back again. Her friend was pacing and tapping her chin with a hoof as she so often did when in thought. She finally stopped. "Well, maybe we could… no, we tried that, didn't we?" The pacing resumed.

She grunted and kept racking her brain for some method they had overlooked. She'd been led through the paces, followed Ditzy in spinning, even had her fly next to her and physically correct her flight as she went around. But try as they might, she still couldn't spin that cloud.

Ditzy stopped again, sighing. "I just don't get it. You remember what to do, right?"

She gave her a level look. "Of course I remember what to do. You've told me so many times I hear it in my sleep."

"Well, it must be something!" She stomped the cloudface in frustration. "You're just pulling away or flinching out or… something." She looked askance at the cloud, then back to her. She tapped her chin a couple more times before freezing mid-tap.

"Close your eyes." It came out as a mere whisper.

She raised an eyebrow. "What?"

"You must be doing something wrong. I've seen your approach more than a dozen times; your approach is fine. So this time, once you start to circle, close your eyes and just focus on the feel of the cloudpull and what I told you to do."

Her other eyebrow joined the first as her jaw slowly slid open. "You want me to try cloudspinning blind? I won't make it five seconds!"

"Then it wouldn't put you too far behind your previous attempts, would it?"

She was silent for a time. As much as she wanted to say something, what could she say? It was true. And it wasn't like they were getting anywhere now.

"Don't think of it as flying blind. Think of it as removing distractions."

"You just wanna see me crash, don't you?"

Ditzy gave her a tired look. "Would you just shut up and trust me? Go on."

"Fine, I'll do it." She took off, shooting around the cloud as she must have done a thousand times before.

Ditzy shouted up to her from the cloudface below. "Now close your eyes!"

She hesitantly squinched her eyes shut. Okay, just focus. Lean in toward the cloud, angle the wing… this was stupid. She was gonna crash. She felt the pull of the spin strengthen and she sped up. This was it. The cloud would pull her in and shoot her out any second now. She winced and braced herself for the impact when she heard what she shortly recognized as laughter from the pegasus below.

That was all she needed, her friend laughing at her as she wiped out. She was about to yell at her to quit it when Ditzy shouted up to her.

"You got it, Spitz! Keep going!"

"Huh?"

She peeked with one eye, then opened them both in shock, staring at the cloud next to her, which was spinning far faster than she had ever managed to get it going before. She was doing it. "WOOOOHO-AAAHHHH!" She let out a triumphant shout shortly before she was consumed by the pull. She was again spun around and shot out, though this time much faster. She eventually petered to a stop, clutching her head, fighting down the nausea and moaning loudly.

Ditzy hurriedly flew over, chattering excitedly at her, oblivious or uncaring of her fragile state. "That was it! You did it! You've got it!" She laughed. "Well, I mean you had it. It was still a little rough, but it was good for your first time. Up until you opened your eyes, I mean. Then it didn't go so well. Oh, I almost forgot. Wait here for a second, I'll be right back." Ditzy flew off toward their saddlebags.

Right, like she was going to go anywhere. By the time Ditzy had flown back over with her father's camera strapped around her neck, her stomach had settled a bit and she was no longer seeing double.

"What's that for?"

"Get over in front of the cloud, before it stops spinning." Ditzy grinned. "We have to celebrate this momentous occasion."

"Oh, shut up." She said it in good humor, still elated by her success, and complied with her request, flying in front of the cloud and showing off her victory pose.

The camera flashed.


Spitfire chuckled quietly at the picture beneath her hoof, still amused by the ludicrous "victory pose" she had sported as a filly. Not to say she didn't still have a victory pose, but it was far more dignified now.

"That was some of the most intense training I'd ever done. Up to that point, of course. It was all so new, so confusing." She gave a soft chuckle. "It seems so easy, looking back on it now." She paused, still halfway lost in thought. "It was worth it, every second of it. Next time Best Young Flier came around, we were ready." She turned the page to where another ribbon lay, though this one was not white. She stroked it idly as she had done years ago.

"Of course, you couldn't tell our nerves that…"


"Okay, numba six, you're up!"

Ditzy gulped and spared a moment of her nervous hoof-tapping to glance back at her flank, which was adorned with a number eight. Spitfire couldn't help but feel some of the same nervousness that was plaguing her friend, though her own flank sported a number thirteen. She was certainly no less susceptible to pre-show nerves.

Though they were standing next to each other behind the red curtain that led out to the cloudiseum, she hadn't said a word to Ditzy since they had entered, nor had she spoken to her. What could you say to your best friend who was, however temporarily, your greatest rival? Someone you trained with so intensely, helped along for over a year, but now had to leave in the dust? She couldn't think of anything, and so they sat in an awkward silence. Spitfire finally broke the ice, if to do no more than try and calm Ditzy down.

"Hey, Ditz?"

"Yeah?"

"Look, no matter what happens I just… I just wanted to say thanks. Y'know, for helping me out and everything?"

She chuckled weakly. "That's… that's what I was gonna say to you. I couldn't have done it without you."

"Me neither."

They shared a brief hug, patting each other on the back. The moment of calm was shattered by the shrill call of the event coordinator.

"Numba seven, let's go!"

They broke apart and Ditzy resumed her hoof-tapping. When she spoke again, her voice was shaky. "Hey, you remember that double-loop? Cause I've been thinking that maybe it doesn't really fit—and I haven't really done—"

She tried to make her voice sound soothing and assured. "Ditzy, it's fine. We went over this a hundred times. I saw it; your routine is great. Just focus on the routine, do your best, and you'll do fine."

She nodded and took a couple deep breaths. She almost looked calm when the event coordinator shouted again.

"Number eight! C'mon, let's go!"

As Ditzy walked toward the curtain, Spitfire called out to her, her grin turning wicked. "Just don't be upset when your best isn't enough and I go home with the crown."

Ditzy looked back over her shoulder, returning her grin. "Maybe if you're nice, I'll let you touch my crown before I spend my day with the Wonderbolts."

"Is that so? Well, maybe I'll let you rub the blue ribbon. Just so you can remember what they feel like."

Ditzy turned her head back around as she broke through the curtain into the cloudiseum, disappearing behind it to the tumultuous sound of cheers from the crowd beyond.

She kept staring at the place where she had vanished. "You go ahead and give it your best, Ditz," she whispered, "cause my best is gonna be better."


A short time later, the two pegasi were sitting together watching number fifteen finish his performance and quickly dart out of cloudiseum flight area. They looked at each other, Spitfire shaking her head to which Ditzy nodded slowly.

"Yeah… he started off good, but it kind of deteriorated. "

"He was just too nervous. You could see it. After he messed up the first time, during the tight spins, he fell apart."

"I feel bad for him. Poor guy held at the mercy of his nerves."

"Well, it's not like we weren't nervous. I'm always nervous before a performance but I never let it show. Otherwise... well, stuff like that happens."

Ditzy nodded toward the six Wonderbolts judges, who had just flown behind the curtain and into the now vacant backstage. "So now they vote on the winners, right?"

"Yeah. It usually doesn't take very long. If the last guy was pretty good it usually takes longer, but I don't think that'll be a problem this time."

It took a scant five minutes for the judges to reemerge and assemble behind the award stand that had been brought in during their absence, the most senior Wonderbolt handing a scrap of paper to the announcer before joining his fellows. Ditzy noticed for the first time that Cloudblazer was not among the Wonderbolts assembled.

"Hey, Spitz, where's your mom? I thought I saw her here…"

She gave her a condescending eye. "Duh! They aren't going to let her judge if I'm competing. She's over in the VIP seating."

"Oh, right, so she's just here for the day out with the winner."

The announcer's voice boomed over the roar of the crowd. "Fillies and gentlecolts, without further ado: the placing pegasi!"

"In third place, number five: Starlight!"

The periwinkle pegasus shot out of the crowd to take his place on the third place stand, smiling and waving as he received his ribbon.

"In second place, number thirteen: Spitfire!"

She flew toward the stand quickly, her face sporting a smile as wide as Starlight's before her. But for all the excitement and pride she felt, there was a small sense of disappointment. She hadn't made it. She'd lost.

Again.

She tried to focus on the positive. At least she'd placed this time, even if she wasn't taking home the crown. She could only hope that Ditzy would get first. She could stand losing to Ditzy.

"And in first place, this year's Best Young Flier…number eight! DITZY DOO!"

Ditzy gave a rather undignified squeal and flew out to take her rightful place on the award stand. She was handed a blue ribbon and crowned by the senior Wonderbolt. The crowd cheered, none more loudly than her father, though his whistles and stomps were lost in the din of the pegasi surrounding him.

As she began to wave at the adoring crowd, it was not to her father nor the Wonderbolts that Ditzy looked, but over at Spitfire. As the Wonderbolts began surrounding and congratulating her, she gave her a small nod and a smile. A short, private smile before the beaming grin returned. Spitfire nodded back and managed to return a small smile of her own.

She started chuckling as Ditzy flew off with the Wonderbolts, who she was chatting up amiably. "Next time, Ditzy Doo," she whispered. "Next time."


"Wait—wait—wait—wait—wait." Rainbow Dash interrupted Spitfire's recollection, frowning. "You guys vote for Best Young Flier? There's a second place?"

She chuckled. "Well, usually. We were obviously incapable of doing so while unconscious; Princess Celestia had to name a winner herself. You were clearly first, from what I've heard, so it wasn't too big of a deal. Second and third place would have been a bit harder to judge, so there was only first place."

"...Oh."

She returned to the album. "Every year after that first year, Best Young Flier was really two separate competitions: me and Ditz for first, and everypony else for third."

She flipped through a number of pages quickly, and Ditzy was proud to see a few more red ribbons amongst the blue. Though Spitfire didn't speak of the other competitions as she turned the pages, the memories were flowing back to her more easily. She half-remembered Spitfire earning those red ribbons whenever she had won a blue one. She really had been as good as Spitfire.

Rainbow's frown had not disappeared. "Those reporters..." She shrank back a bit as Spitfire glared at her; apparently, it was still a sore subject. She hurriedly explained herself. "Those reporters said you guys flew together. You don't do that in Best Young Flier..."

"You do when they're running a little late. It isn't common, but it isn't exactly rare." She smiled fondly. "That was when it first hit us, when we knew for sure what we were gonna do. It was my last year competing for Best Young Flier..."

She turned the page and Rainbow gasped at what lay beneath the protective sleeve.