• Published 27th Apr 2012
  • 1,145 Views, 25 Comments

Tales - geopol



In an alternate "FiM" universe, the retired royal librarian of Equestria looks back on her life.

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8

Tales

by

George Pollock, Jr.

VIII. The Final Turn: Rainbow Dash

Rainbow Dash.

Yeah …

That was sad, wasn't it?

You get so close to a dream, you can almost touch it, taste it, smell it – feel it standing next to you …

And you die.

It was one of those three times in my life I screamed at The Steed. It was so unfair, so cruel. Why was he like that? Why have her born at all? Why give her a dream that deep and strong and then take it away like that? WHY?

I don't know. Like I told you, I gave up trying to understand long ago.

This was while I was still living in Ponyville. I'd been there a few years, and Dash always wanted to join the Wonderbolts. The Equestrian flying team. She loved flying. She loved the sky. And she loved to tell everypony about it.

But you know what it takes to join the Wonderbolts? Before you take even a flutter off the ground for them, there are written exams and strength tests, and if you flunk any one of them, you're out on your rump. I think it surprised Dash.

She squeaked by her first test, and I think the reality of what it actually took to join the Wonderbolts scared her. About the only time I ever saw her scared. She came to the Ponyville library one night, and she tried to ask me something, but she really wasn't getting to the point. Finally, she just started crying. I didn't even think she could cry.

I just let her cry herself out. Turns out, after she settled down, that she wanted me to help her study for the tests. I said I would but that she had to be serious about it. I said it was one thing to have a dream but another to dedicate yourself to really go after it.

And she did. I remember waking up after some all-nighters with her and finding I'd fallen asleep on an open book. And drooled on it. Then I'd look over at Dash and see she was still asleep on an open book. And still drooling on it.

By the way, want to know how long it takes drool to dry out in a book? Don't ask. And it leaves the pages all bumpy, too.

Anyway, by the time she passed all the tests, even I knew how to fly. Almost wished I were a pegasus pony. Seemed like fun.

The qualification flights were at the flying field outside Canterlot, and I went up there with Dash. So did all our friends. We were moral support for her. I don't think she wanted to admit it, but it seemed like she was really, really touched by that.

I'm glad she got to feel that one last time before she was gone.

Know what I remember about that day … other than how it ended?

It was Dash's rainbow mane fluttering in the breeze as she stood at the far end of the line of candidates. Everypony else had monochrome manes, so she stood out already. Like she always did.

And she had the same expression Rarity had at Celestia's coronation. That the thing she wanted most in life was finally in front of her. In Dash's case, it was just one more flight away.

Like I said, she was at the end, and the other candidates were really good. Now, there were mandatory maneuvers that everypony had to perform, then each candidate could perform a move of his or her own choice. We all thought Dash was going to do her superspeed trot, but another candidate did that before her. Not as good as Dash but respectable. So she apparently changed her plan at the last moment. I guess she didn't want to look like a copypony.

She took off, and it was just wonderful to see her do the mandatory maneuvers. She was like part of the sky itself. She didn't just do the moves, she became them. It was like you could see the air itself move.

She was beautiful. She was always beautiful in the sky.

At the end of the mandatory maneuvers, she flew along the ground faster than I'd ever seen her do. Suddenly, she pulled up at full speed and started the fastest, tightest loops I've ever seen a pegasus pony do. One after another after another after another.

Which is when she hit the bird.

At full speed. During the upward side of the last loop.

I was told later she had no chance to avoid it. Not a chance.

It looked like the bird exploded.

And it looked like Dash had slammed head-first into a brick wall at top speed. Everypony screamed. It seemed like she hung in the air for a moment, and you could see she had gone completely limp. Then she started falling. It really appeared like it was in slow motion at first, and she began to spin slightly as she picked up speed.

You couldn't hear her hit the ground. It was at the other end of the field, and we were too far away. You just saw her hit. She hit hard and bounced once. Then she hit again. And didn't move.

Nopony moved. Nopony said anything. The ponies who had come to watch the tryouts seemed to stare forever at Dash. The only movement for a moment was Dash's rainbow mane fluttering in the breeze.

Finally, there was a voice. It was A.J., who was there with us. All she did was whisper, "Dash …"

The Wonderbolts attending the tryouts sprang up instantly and flew out to her. They landed next to her and started to gently prod her flank with their hooves. One knelt down and put an ear to her side and kept it there for a moment. Then he gently put a hoof on her neck just under the back of her jaw and held it there. And then he put an ear to her mouth and seemed to listen. Finally, he glanced up at the other Wonderbolts.

And shook his head.

Then he turned toward the crowd at the other end of the field.

And shook his head widely.

Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy and Rarity screamed and fainted where they stood.

A.J. fell to her knees like somepony had just kicked her in her stomach. She started breathing hard and whispered, "Oh, Steed, no … Oh, dear Steed, no …"

I just stood there. But my legs were trembling wildly. I couldn't think for a long moment. It was like all my body could do is breathe. And shake. And finally, I closed my eyes, bent my head down and whispered …

"Damn you …"

But my mind was screaming. Like my soul wanted to tear itself from my body and scream into the sky, "DAMN YOU! DAMN YOU! DAMN YOU TO HELL!"

I was screaming at The Steed. I didn't care what he thought. I just wanted to say it, to have him hear me say it. So he would know the horrific pain that had just ripped through me. I didn't care.

I just damned him. Because I wanted him damned.

Anyway …

The official report said Dash died from a broken neck. Whether it happened when she hit the bird or hit the ground, nopony knows. Hardly seems to matter. But I've always hoped it was in the air. So that she died instantly and thus didn't live to know she was falling to her death. I want to believe she died while she was flying. That she died in the sky.

That's what I want to believe.

Celestia was at her service in Ponyville. That's when she announced that the commander of the Wonderbolts – at her suggestion – had declared Dash to be a full Wonderbolt when she died. Even though she hadn't finished her elective maneuver.

Now, here was the rationale: Dash had passed the mandatory maneuvers, according to the Wonderbolts reviewing the candidates that day. Her elective maneuver wasn't a required move. It was just something that was permitted. So in passing the mandatory maneuvers, Dash had already qualified to be a Wonderbolt. And so she's now listed as a full member on the team's roll. One who died on her first flight as a full member.

That's what Celestia suggested to the commander.

The Wonderbolts flew over her service in the "missing-pony" formation. I cried. I admit it. I cried.

And there's a memorial to Dash now at Ponyville's flying field outside town. I try to go there on the anniversary of her death to leave some flowers. I try to get as many as I can and of as many different colors as I can. Then I line them up by color at the base of the memorial.

So it looks kind of like a rainbow.

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