• Published 26th Apr 2015
  • 4,322 Views, 283 Comments

Wonderbolt Trials and Tribulations - White Comet

Rainbow Dash finally gets the opportunity of a lifetime; a chance to join the Wonderbolts and fulfill her lifelong dream. She presumes that from this point on, it'll be smooth sailing. She was wrong...

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Chapter 14

It had come down to this. Two solid weeks of not only making sure she had the knowledge required to pass this exam, but also making sure she kept herself afloat during the practical tests. Both her mind and body were exhausted. Rainbow Dash had taken herself to the limit both physically and mentally. Her body was giving her a-many thanks that there was nothing practical going on today and that she was just sitting at a small desk in the gym, which had been converted into an exam hall by squeezing just enough desks in to allow them to do so.

Dash didn’t look anywhere else other than her paper and the questions in front of her. The black text as she flipped the pages ingraining itself in her vision. The only sounds she heard were from the sound of other ponies tapping their pens and pencils on the desk, and the hoofsteps of some of the ‘Bolts walking down the rows between them.

The Wonderbolts continued to show their diverse scrutineering methods, with no two pages taking the same approach to the questioning. They had everything from simple multiple choice questions, to near enough full-blown essays that spread across two pages. There was even a section where they were required to draw diagrams. Dash was just hoping that they weren’t judging ponies for their artistic prowess.

As Dash completed her final answers, she looked up at the clock hanging high on the wall in front of her. Her eyes went a little funny because she’d been concentrating on something so close for so long and how she had to concentrate on something so far away. But it didn’t take long for them to refocus. Fifteen minutes remaining. Just enough time for her to look over her answers. She took a deep breath and flipped her paper back to the beginning.

There was a very tense atmosphere in the air. The repetitive sounds was enough to drive anypony insane. And the Wonderbolts weren’t helping much either, patrolling up and down seemingly every minute, each hoof making a solid sound as it landed on the wooden floor of the gym. Although they would stop at random intervals from time to time. It was as if they were looking over somepony’s shoulder. Not checking as to whether they were cheating or doing anything wrong, as if they may have been silently judging them. Fortunately not a concern for Dash, as she hadn’t looked over her shoulders once the entire exam. In fact, her neck was starting to give her complaints from looking down so long, as was her right wrist from all the writing she’d been doing.

She skimmed over the answers she was certain of and only concentrated on the answers that she knew she wasn’t one hundred percent sure on. Although there was always the possibility that she was right the first, she just couldn’t be sure for certain. Although at this stage, she had a fifty-fifty chance of getting it right. She would just have to hope she guessed right.

Suddenly, an alarm blared through the room, similar to the style that woke her up in the morning. “Aaaand that’s time!” Spitfire announced, ceasing the alarm. “Pens down everypony!”

Dash simply dropped her pen in place. Well, she’d soon find out whether she was right or wrong…

“You’ve given us all a joyful day of marking. Thanks,” Spitfire said somewhat sarcastically. “As you’ve probably guessed, this will take us a long time to mark. Expect the results around six PM. In the meantime, entertain yourselves. Those who don’t meet the one hundred marks required will unfortunately leave us. But those who have made the cut; congratulations. Regardless of your results, you are welcome to join us for a meal and then we’ll be taking a two week break in order to let your minds and bodies rejuvenate.”

Spitfire almost went to start picking up some papers, but then stopped. “Oh, and no fighting over the door please. You’ll all get through it eventually…” She stated, then proceeded to walk to some of the front desks.

Dash let out a sigh then picked herself up from the desk like everypony else was doing. She headed towards the door where all the commotion was happening. Ponies conversing with one another about the exam whilst trying to squeeze through the door. It was a double-door, but still, probably didn’t have this many ponies in mind when it was put up...

“How’d you find it?” A small familiar voice beside her asked.

Dash looked to her left to see Bright Skies walking next to her. “We’ll find out,” Dash replied. “Soon enough…”

“Do you feel confident that you made it through though?” She questioned again.

Rainbow Dash took a moment before answering the question. “Ya know what? I think I do.” Dash replied, smiling a little. After all that work she put in, she had to have done good enough…right? “How about you?”

Bright Skies simply shrugged in response. “It wasn’t easy, by anypony’s standards. But I think I did well.”

“Great,” Dash replied. Coming from a pony as smart as Bright skies, that wasn’t very reassuring…

She opened the door to their room, seeing that Dahlia had already returned before them. “Hey Dally, how did you find it?”

“I tried my best, and in a way, I sort of feel satisfied that because of that, the result will be the right one,” She replied with a smile, but then her face went straight again. “But they could’ve told us it was gonna be half a day long. I almost wet myself.”

“I know right? I don’t think I’ve had to stay in one place for so long before. I thought for sure that every joint in my body was gonna crack when I got up.” Dash proceeded to stretch herself to see if what she just described would happened. Funnily enough, a few of her joints did make popping noises. Some more than she would’ve liked, causing her to cringe a bit.

Suddenly, their door swung open, making them all jump. Crash Dive and Horizon staggered through, looking like they were hungover after a heavy night out and just had to get up for work.

“Brain. Mush.” Horizon staggered to his bed and fell face flat on it, releasing a heavy sigh into his pillow.

“Eyes. Burning.” Crash Dive did the same.

“Back. Aching.”

“Neck. Seized.”

“Wrist. Cracking.”

“So you guys had fun then?” Dahlia asked sarcastically. “How do you think you did?”

“Appallingly,” Crash Dive replied, rolling over onto his back. “But enough to pass. I've learnt to never expect to pass anything, and you always seem to get through. And if you don't, your expectations are so low that even if you do fail, it doesn't feel as bad. So it's a win-win.” He explained.

“That’s…” Dahlia’s expression dropped, “Pretty depressing actually…”

“It’s not a bad way of looking at things to be honest. It’s worked for us for most of our lives,” Horizon explained. Either way, it appeared that they weren’t too bothered about whatever way the results could swing... “Anyway, this could be our last time together for some of us. We should organise somewhere to go drink ‘till our wings drop off!”

“Pff,” Crash Dive rolled his eyes, “Where isn’t there a place to drink in Cloudsdale?”

“Careful guys,” Dahlia moved off her bed towards Riptide, “There’s a child present,” she teased as she grabbed his cheek.

“Hey,” Riptide pushed her off, “I’m not THAT far off eighteen.”

“Still fresh lookin’ enough to get ID’d at the bar, Sweetie,” Dahlia replied, sticking her tongue out at him.

Riptide huffed in response and rolled his eyes.

“Still, if you behave, I might act as your courier,” Dahlia replied with a wink.

“Why thanks,” Riptide replied, smiling, then released a long sigh. “Can’t wait to get that exam out of my head.”

“Me too,” Dash added, lying down on her bed. “But I don’t think I’m forgetting about it that easily, especially with the results later.” She stared at the ceiling, still seeing some of the writing on the paper flashing up. Staring at the same paper for hours seemed to have done that for her.

“Oh yeah. The results…” Dahlia sighed and she punctuated the point that was on everypony’s mind. “As Horizon said, this could be our last time together.”

“Which is why I’m saying let's make it a night to remember by letting alcohol make us forget it!” Horizon added. “Trust me, once you’ve heard some of my deadly concoctions, you’ll be wanting a go.”

“Oh no…” Dahlia held her hooves to her face just thinking about it. “Go on…”

Dash couldn’t help but laugh as he proceeded to babble off some of his crazy ideas. But she still couldn’t take her mind of the fact that what he said earlier was correct. This could well be the last they see of each other tonight...and it could well be her that’s leaving. The thought was heavy on her mind, but there was nothing she could do about it now. What’s done is done. All she could do was wait to hear the result…

Unsurprisingly, many ponies had arrived to see the results early. Dash stood in with the crowd, just as eager as everypony else. But she couldn’t shift the certain sense of tension there was in the air. For some, this may be the last time they step within this building. She just hoped she wasn’t one of them…

She shimmied her way towards the front. The chalkboard was under a big dust cover, and Spitfire’s tail was just poking out the bottom. Considering they were early, she was probably still writing down the final results, and put the cover up so nopony could get a sneak peak.

Speaking of which, Rainbow Dash considered herself lucky that she decided to be one of the few that arrived early. Space at the front was really limited. She could almost sense the fear and anticipation from the ponies around her just from the way they were breathing. So much so that she could barely concentrate on herself.

“Confident?” Dahlia pushed her way through to appear on the left of Dash.

“Ya bet,” Rainbow put on the best ‘confident’ voice she could muster. In reality, she could barely contain herself over the possibility of a negative result.

“Wouldn’t expect anything else from you,” Dahlia replied, nudging her with her shoulder and winking, then looked over to her left. “How about you, Smartass?”

Dash looked over her to see Comet standing nearby. “Of course,” he responded flatly, seemingly unfazed by the name Dahlia just called him by.

“Yeah yeah,” Dahlia rolled her eyes then back at Dash. “Despite what they say, I think everypony here is crapping themselves. Good thing we’re at the front eh?” She winked, nudging her.

“...Yeah…” Dash replied, trying to shift that image out of her mind…

Spitfire finished her last few lines then appeared out from under the dust cover. She looked around at everypony, whilst they all looked at her expectantly. “Hmmm…” She looked down at her wristwatch. “We’re a little early. Look’s like everypony’s here, but we’ll wait for any stragglers,” She instructs.

Much to everypony’s presumption, their wait seemed rather excessive. There was nearly nopony left to wait for, save for the hoof full that were running on time.

“Alright, that’s definitely everyone.” Spitfire spoke up, catching everyone’s attention. “Well done to those of you that made it this far. Although our vetting process is very thorough, so I expected nothing less. Whilst the list I’m about to show you is very promising, there are some of you that haven’t made it through. Don’t take it the wrong way though, it’s been hard to make it this far. And as a token of recognition, whenever we host another one of these expansion trials, we’ll re-invite everyone that didn’t pass today no questions asked. Not even any preliminary joining tests.”

Well, that was something. Although it seemed like such a little thing, Dash hated paperwork.

“Once we’ve done this, those of you that have made it through will have a two week break before the next stage begins. And the timing couldn’t have been better, because the food we’ve got won’t keep two weeks. So be sure to eat it all.”

Spitfire rotated around and placed her hooves on top of the cloth. “And now, let me be the first to say congratulations to those of you to the left of that red line.” Spitfire gave the cloth a tug and pulled it off, revealing the list of names. As she said, there was a red line just to the right of the halfway point of the chalkboard. All the names written on it were written in tiny writing, just to be able to fit them all on.

“No pushing or shoving, you’ll all get your turn.” Spitfire immediately gave a quick, hard flap of her wings to push herself out of the way.

“OOF!” Dash immediately got compressed between two ponies that tried to beat her to it. And before she knew, she was getting pushed from behind towards the board.

Ponies all around her were trying to work out where they were. She heard screams of joy, as well as screams of anger. But she blanked them all out, as she concentrated on scanning the board, determined to find her place.

And the first thing she noticed was a name written in the top left corner in yellow.

Bright Skies - 100%

Bright Skies had managed to score one hundred percent? That was even possible? Rainbow Dash was still considering herself lucky if she made it through. Bright Skies really was a good as she made herself sound.

But quite quickly, she had other things to worry about, as Dash didn’t see herself in the top ninety percent. But she expected that, since there was definitely ponies around here that were more booksmart than her. But given the amount of effort she put in, she’d expect at least eighty percent…

...But she wasn’t there either…

She bit her lip and started skim-reading in panic. She was nowhere to be found in the seventy percent bracket either. She kept skimming and skimming until finally.

Rainbow Dash - 62%

She breathed a sigh of relief. She was in. Not by much, but she was in. And that’s all that mattered for the time being.

“Damn, only fifty nine percent? I knew it was hard, but jeez…” Dash turned to look at Dahlia. Speaking of which, what percentage did all her friends get?

“Hey, at least you made it through. I’m only sixty two here.” Dash replied.

“It’s still annoying being that low,” Dahlia continued.

“True, but if it was that easy, everypony would be up there with Bright Skies.” Dash replied with a wink.

“Haha, yeah. Speaking of Bright Skies, does she know?” Dahlia looked around, trying to locate their friend.

“I haven’t seen her since we’ve got here. I’m sure she’ll see soon enough,” Dash replied.

“I hope so, I don’t want to ruin the surp--OOOF!” A pony shouldered Dahlia in the face. He quickly apologised before letting himself get absorbed in the board. “Let’s get out of the way before we get trampled.”

“Agreed,” Dash replied, flapping her wings and flying above the ponies trying to get to the board.

“So, looks we made it!” Dahlia picked back up, putting her left foreleg around Dash’s shoulders.

“It sure does,” Dash gave an extremely relaxed response. Even the amount Dahlia was squeezing her shoulders didn’t matter to her at the minute. She was just so overwhelmed that she managed to make it through.

They walked down the hallway to further distance themselves from the commotion.

“Did you catch anypony else’s scores from our room?” Dash asked Dahlia.

“Nah, apart from Bright Skies. I was too focused on looking for me.” She replied.

“Yeah, same here,” Dash agreed. “Not everypony in our room is that stupid though. I think we did alright.”

Dahlia snickered and simply said “Riptide.”

Dash smiled in response, “As long as he thought with the right head, he’ll be fine.”

Dahlia laughed in response, with Dash also not being able to resist laughing at her own joke.

“Let’s get back to the room. I’m sure everypony will find us.” Dahlia suggested. Rainbow Dash agreed, following her.

When they arrived back, they saw Crash Dive and Horizon already there. They were packing their bags. Dash was picking up a certain sense of disappointment from them, which was highly unusual considering the type of ponies they normally were. She wasn’t expecting good news…

“♫ Guess who just made it throughhhh...♫” Dahlia chimed with a high bounce in her step, using it as a boost to propel herself into the air and fly forwards towards her end of the room. The positive energy she was radiating really made Dash want to pump her wings and join her.

“Not us.” Horizon said bluntly.

“What?” Dahlia questioned, thrown a little off-guard.

“We were below the cutoff point,” Crash Dive explained. He made a slicing motion with his hoof across his throat, then got back to packing his things away.

So it looks like they wouldn’t be casualty-free. Dash couldn’t imagine what they were thinking right now. As glad as she was that it wasn’t her, the thought of not making it this far was putting her brain into overdrive. All the ‘what-if’ scenarios wouldn’t stop playing around in her head. It was lucky that these two brothers weren’t taking it anywhere nearly as badly as she would’ve done.

“That’s...jeez...I don’t know where to start…” Dahlia began. “I’m so sorry guys...and the two of you as well...I don’t believe it…”

“No need to apologise, it wasn’t your fault.” Crash Dive replied with a smile. “Besides, we came here operating on a hope and a prayer anyway. We’re still going for that drink though right?”

“Oh yeah, of course!” Dahlia replied.

Crash Dive turned his head to Horizon. “Hear that? That means you too.”

Horizon just grumbled in response without even breaking concentration on what he was doing.

Crash Dive shook his head. “He’s a bit down about it. Give him till this evening, he’ll be fine.” He reassured.

Their conversation was interrupted by the opening of the door. Through it stepped Comet, Riptide and Torque. All of them seemed to be...well, acting no different than normal really. Dash couldn’t tell whether they had passed or not just from the way they were behaving. Guess it was time to talk to them…

“So how did you get on guys?” Dahlia beat her to the punch. As usual…

“You kidding? It was easy,” Riptide wasn’t fooling anyone as he rolled backwards onto his bed.

Even Comet looked right and raised an eyebrow. “I’m pretty sure you weren’t on the list. In fact, I think you were on the cutoff?” He questioned.

“You must be mistaken,” Riptide replied. “Should’ve worn your glasses,” he teased, winking.

“...Hmm…” Comet paused to reflect for a second, then continued walking.

“And what about you Comet?” Dash asked.

“I passed. So you’ll be seeing me in two weeks.” He replied, sitting down on his bed. “And I couldn’t be more relieved. How about you?”

“You bet I’m through!” Dash replied, punching the air.

“Me too!” Dahlia added. She was expecting a response from either Crash Dive or Horizon, but none came. She didn’t question it too much though. “What about you Torque?” She asked, as he hadn’t said anything.

Turns out he had already begun packing. “I only got thirty nine percent. So I’m out.” He spoke flatly.

“No, you too? Damn…” Crash Dive spoke. “That just...sucks…”

Torque shrugged in response. “I’ll be fine,” He replied, then continued packing. He wasn’t really that much more talkative that when they started.

Dahlia wanted to question him somewhat, but another idea sprung into her head. “Guys, listen up,” she spoke, grabbing everypony’s attention. “When Bright Skies gets back, I want all of us to really compliment and praise her. She’s really shy, so it will mean the world to her.”

“Yeah, one hundred percent is impressive. I wonder how many of the current Wonderbolts even got that?” Comet questioned.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if she was the first. She should be a Wonderbolt right now. “ Dahlia replied.

“That better be worth extra credit,” Dash added, flopping down on her bed. “We’ve worked so hard to get just half that. That can’t have gone unnoticed.”

“I know how you feel. I’ve got a nice two weeks of sleeping.” Riptide replied, yawning as he finished his sentence.

“Don’t you do a lot of that anyway?” Dahlia teased.

“Hey, this look requires a lot of beauty sleep,” He replied with a wink directed at her. Dahlia simply shook her head in response.

Dash chuckled a little at her exchange, then turned around to pack her things. Not only had these past few weeks been thoroughly enjoyable for her, she was also relieved that she made it through to the next stage. And for once, she was actually agreeing with Riptide. A lot of sleep was in order.

As she was packing her things, she heard the door open behind her. And there was only one pony it could be.

“And here comes the mare of the hour!” Dahlia commentated as Bright Skies entered. Dahlia immediately flew over to her and embraced her. “I wish I had your brains, you did so well! You must be the first to get a perfect score. How in Equestria did you do it?”

Bright Skies shrugged humbly and semi-smiled, hugging Dahlia back. “I just...cram as many answers in my head as I can...I guess…”

Dahlia shook her head and sighed. “I wish it were that simple for the rest of us…” She released Bright skies from her grip.

Bright Skies dropped her forehooves back down to the floor, briefly looking downwards before looking back up. “I don’t really have any special techniques or anything. I just study-study-study until it sticks in my brain.” She explained, walking towards her bed.

“Pff,” Dash snickered, “Only you could make it sound that easy…”

“Just had more practice I guess…” Bright Skies started packing her things as she replied. Whilst her responses were still minimal, she had warmed up to her roommates over time. They had slowly eroded her shyness towards them over the past few weeks. Her lack of confidence in herself and towards others was still evident though.

“Anyway, I smell the grub they got going,” Crash Dive sniffed the air a few times before launching himself in the direction of the door. “Sorry guys, I ain’t waiting around.”

“ ‘Waiting’ implies I won’t catch you!” Dahlia replied, turning and running towards the door herself.

“You guys go on ahead,” Rainbow Dash added, turning towards the bathroom, “I’ll catch you up in a bit.” She didn’t wait for a response and just headed into the bathroom. Everypony else made their way out the door.

Once she was done in the bathroom, Rainbow Dash left their room and started heading for the mess.

“Well, congrats on making it through I guess,” a familiar voice appeared behind her.

Dash smirked and instantly spun around to see Soarin. “Did you ever doubt me?” She replied.

“Heheh...no…” Soarin replied…

...and silence fell between them…

Soarin was secretly hoping that Dash would pick up, but she was looking away nervously. He couldn’t tell whether something was bothering her, or if she was just desperate to get to the food. Either way, this wasn’t unfamiliar ground for the pair of them.

“So…” He started up again, “Two week break huh?”

“Y-yeah…” Dash replied hesitantly, glancing down towards the ground then back up. “So...guess I won’t see you for two weeks…” She said, flattening her ears.

“Well...maybe here, yeah…” Soarin glanced over his shoulders, then back at Dash. “But there’s nothing stopping us meeting up. In Cloudsdale or Ponyville?”

Dash’s ears raised up again and she grinned. “Really? You’d do that for me?”

“Of course!” Soarin replied, “You’re a really great...a great pony, Rainbow Dash. I love hanging out with you.” He gritted his teeth slightly as he lost his words mid-sentence.

“Heh…” Dash looked away and scratched the back of her head. A slight crimson tint rose on her cheeks. “I guess...the day after tomorrow works well for me.”

“Great, I’ll meet you in Ponyville,” Soarin planned. “Whereabouts? Or should I come to your place?”

“Yeah, that’s a good idea. My place is the only cloud house in Ponyville anyway. Shouldn’t be hard to find.” Dash replied, chuckling.

“Great,” Soarin started blushing a tiny bit. “See you there. Now go get some food before it all goes. Congratulations on making it through again by the way.” Soarin extended his hoof.

“Ha,” Dash returned his hoof shake. “Did you ever doubt I wouldn’t?”

“All the time,” Soarin joked back, winking. “Go get yourself something to eat. I’ll see you on Sunday.”

“Hoping you’d say that, I’m starving.” Dash turned around, walking away. “Later Soarin!”

Soarin watched Dash walk away until she’d gone through the doors. He then relaxed, letting out a sigh as he thought things through.

“You’re playing with fire here, Soarin.” A familiar voice said behind him, nudging him in the side.

“I know, Blaze. I know…”

Blaze walked to a position where she could see and talk to him. “Sooo...what’cha gonna do about it?”

“I wish I knew,” Soarin replied, looking down at the ground.

“Good thing I’m in the mood to be helpful today.” Blaze chuckled, “Let’s get the basics out of the way first. Do you like her? As in...really like her?”

“I...I do, but…” he slowly raised his head up. “As you said, I’m playing with fire. Fraternization is a career ending offence here.”

“Exactly,” Blaze continued, “And she’s not exactly the first mare you’ve dated. Any other mare and we wouldn’t even be having this discussion, you would have already made your decision. What makes her so special?”

“We just...click. I get her because I’ve been in her position before. Although I’ve been much more fortunate to be where I am now. I sympathise with her because I imagine myself in a similar position had I not been so lucky all those years ago when I made it into the Wonderbolts. She’s got a real spirited and competitive nature around which just lifts me up like a feather in a gust of wind. And we make each other laugh. I can’t remember the last time I made someone laugh until they were breathless. Over the past few weeks, we’ve really got to know each other, and she remembers almost everything I say. And I can remember her words to. We’ve got a habit of cheering each other up when we’re having a bad day. Don’t ask me what we do, it just seems to be whenever we’re around each other, things just seem to--”

“Yo Loverboy, ponies are staring.” Blaze made a spinning motion with her hoof.

“Wait, what!?” Soarin’s head immediately spun around in both directions, quickly looking for other ponies in the corridor. His face turning bright red. But as he looked around, there was nopony aside from him and Blaze…

“BWAHAHAHA!” Blaze immediately burst out laughing, grabbing her sides with her forehooves and leaning against the wall.

Soarin rolled his eyes and gritted his teeth as he, once again, became the butt of Blaze’s jokes. “Alright, real funny,” He said sarcastically.

“S-Sorry, but…” Blaze was still trying to catch her breath without dropping herself on the floor. “I really...really didn’t ex...expect that to work...so well…” She took some deep breaths and wiped away the tears from her eyes. “Seriously though, you were starting to drone on a bit…and your face is as red as the runway lights right now.” She couldn’t help but smirk at her final remark, only making Soarin blush more.

A short silence followed before Soarin spoke up. “So anymore genius advice?” He asked, partially sarcastically. Although Blaze liked to joke around, he greatly appreciated her advice. Although he struggled to take it seriously sometimes.

“Well in all honesty, you could just wait until this is all blown over. Then you don’t risk anything.” Blaze suggested.

“That’s a double-edged sword,” Soarin counter-replied. “If she becomes a Wonderbolt, that works great. But if she doesn’t, she’ll never want to speak to me again. Her life essentially revolves around getting into the Wonderbolts. She’ll be heartbroken if it doesn’t happen, and more than likely want to erase any reminder of what might have been.”

“...Good point,” Blaze acknowledged, rubbing her hoof on her chin. “Hmm...that is a toughie…”

“I know. I’ve been losing sleep over it this week…” Soarin admitted.

“...Well...here’s what I think.” Blaze put her hoof on Soarin’s chin and tilted his head up so they could look each other in the eye. She put on the most serious face she could muster (something quite difficult for her).

“Any other mare in the past, you’ve always chosen your career as a Wonderbolt over your love life. You didn’t even think about it or question it. The answer has always been Wonderbolts, and you choose that answer instantly without even giving it a second thought. This is the first mare that’s making you think about your choice. If she’s capable of doing that to you, then she’s definitely worth it.”

Soarin’s ears perked up. “You really think so?”

Blaze nodded. “Personally, I’d go for it,” she said, shrugging. “But I’m not you. I can’t make decisions for you. I’ve given you all the advice I can give you, but it’s up to you to decide what to do.”

“...Yeah...it is…” Soarin replied, sounding a little more confident. “I...I think I got it.”

“Hope so,” Blaze replied, winking, “Because I’m starving. Let’s go get something to eat and you can think about it later.”

Soarin smiled as he followed her. She was right. Blaze really had cleared a lot of things up for him. But ultimately, it was his call to make. He was putting the pieces together. The question is, did she feel the same way? Soarin was almost certain, but there was only one way to find out for certain…

“Last one there buys everypony else a drink!” Crash Dive challenged as he took off and flew away.

“Hey, no fair! Some of us pack heavier than others!” Dahlia complained as she lugged her bag through the sky, trying to offset some of the weight with her hooves to make it easier to fly with.

Dash laughed at the ponies that had been her roommates for the past few weeks. There she was with only a saddle bag over her back.

“Did you even use every single item in that bag?” White Comet asked, flying alongside her. He too was also only carrying a saddle bag over his bag.

“You’re stallions; it’s different!” Dahlia protested.

“Well you don’t see Dash with that problem,” He pointed out, tilting his head in the direction of Rainbow Dash.

“Y-yeah, well…Dash is different!” Dahlia stumbled for a response.

“Pff,” Dash rolled her eyes, “I just bought enough to keep me alive and to stop me smelling like Riptide.”


“What did you bring?” Dash asked.

“Well quite simply, I always want to look my best. You never know what stallion’s you might encounter out and about.” Dahlia explained herself fluttering her eyelids in an alluring way.

“You’ve been in a room full of ‘em,” Torque butted in.

“Pff,” Dahlia snorted and was about to laugh, but the realised who said it. “Wait....Torque...was that a joke? From you?”

“No, it was sarcasm.” He replied monotonously, then looked straight ahead.

That only confused Dahlia more. “So...wait, was that sarcasm?...or...was what you said before sarcasm? Gah, this makes my head hurt!” She pounded her temples and everypony else bar Torque laughed at her pondering.

After a short flight with much attempted banter, they finally made it to a bar in Cloudsdale. A very traditional bar with an open-wood fireplace. The atmosphere was filled with the jolly conversations of the patrons, and the faint aroma of alcohol lingered in the air.

“Over here,” Riptide quickly spotted an empty long rectangular table along the wall. He immediately went for it, knowing everypony else would congregate to it.

Everypony sat around, but when Dahlia went to take a seat, Riptide held his wing out to stop her. “Dahlly. Sweetie, baby, honey. Mind doing the honours of the first round?” Riptide asked, winking.

Dahlia sighed with a slight smile, dropping her bags off. “Guess so, since I’m up. Bits?” She held her hoof out.

Everypony else started rummaging through their bags in search of bits, but Riptide remained laid back in his seat. “Bits? I’ll give you a kiss instead?” He offered, closing his eyes, leaning forward and pouting his lips.

“Maybe,” Dahlia said sarcastically, slowly moving towards him.

Dash had a laugh at Dahlia’s sarcasm, but she slowly stopped when she realised that Dahlia was slowly moving closer to Riptide...and closer...wait, she wasn’t actually going to kiss him was she?

Suddenly, she stopped and pulled away slightly, aggressively tapping his chin with her right hoof. Soft enough not to hurt, but hard enough to make him notice.

Riptide flinched at the impact. “Ow! I bit my tongue!”

“Don’t push your luck next time. Seriously, bits.” Dahlia held her hoof at him.

“Fine, fine.” Riptide reached into his bag with his wing and pulled out a few of the gold coins. During which time, everypony else was laughing at his misfortune.

Dahlia walked off to the bar to get the drinks whilst everypony else calmed down. “I totally thought she was gonna do it as well.” Dash commented.

“Me too, she’s a great actor,” Bright Skies added.

“Hey, I thought it was a reasonable offer. Apparently not.” Riptide rolled his eyes before looking over at Dash. “Hey Dashie, how--”

“Dream on.” Dash replied, raising her middle feather before Riptide even got the chance to finish his sentence.

“Damn,” Riptide flopped back in his seat, “Really gotta work on that.”

“Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of time to think about it when you lose next time around.” The corners of Torque’s lips curled upwards ever-so-slightly at his retort.

Dash was glad that Dahlia hadn’t returned with her drink yet. Because if she was sipping it, she would have just spat it all over Bright Skies sitting opposite her. Everypony else joined in her laughing at Torque’s comeback. It wasn’t so much the joke, it was more to do with the fact it came from the last pony of the group they would expect.

Riptide simply huffed then smirked. “That’s funny, coming from somepony used to that sort of thing.”

Dash once again bounded into fits of laughter. Riptide smiled stupidly, as if he was trying not to laugh at his own joke.

“Holy--wow, that’s savage.” Crash Dive replied, a bit lost of words at Riptide’s retort. He looked over at Torque. “Hope the cider comes with ice, ‘cause you’re gonna need it for that burn.”

Torque simply rolled his eyes, “Yeah, real funny. Excuse me for a minute,” he slid off his chair and whisped his jacket over his back. He walked and put it on at the same time.

Bright Skies laughter began to die down as she took note that Torque perhaps didn't find it that funny. Dash also picked up on it and slowly forced her laughter to die down.

“Alright, what did you guys do?” Dahlia asked as she returned to the table, placing a tray of cider mugs. “One of you said something to annoy him.”

“Who knows? He’s always grumpy,” Riptide palmed off, swiping a mug of cider into his hoof.

“I think your...joke was a little too close to home for him?” Bright Skies suggested.

“Well how the hell was I supposed to know? I barely know the guy.” Riptide was all of a sudden starting to sound very defensive.

“Calm down Rip, nopony’s blaming you,” Dahlia replied, “Although he seems to know you a fair bit. Any idea what that’s about?”

Riptide shrugged in response. “I’ve never really met him before. He looks familiar, I think I might have bumped into him a few times in college.”

“College? Isn’t he like, five years older than you?” Dahlia continued to question.

“My parents put me on some accelerated courses. What a waste of time that was. It’s hard for places like that to admit that you’re too good…”

“Geez, I’d rather just ask Torque himself than listen to your ego pissing contest you’re having with yourself.” Dahlia said, rolling her eyes. “Anyway, moving on.” She raised her glass to the table, “A toast.”

Everypony else raised their glass with her. “We all put in the best we could. Unfortunately, not all of us made it. But regardless, I hope we all remain friends when this is all over. Cheers everypony!” She slowly moved her glass forward, making everypony else do the same until they all ‘clinked’ together in the middle. Then with one graceful swing, they bought the glasses back to their mouths and took a generous gulp of the sweet apple cider.

Riptide side then rested his glass on the table, eyeing up the lonely pint. “If Torque doesn’t hurry back, he might find his drink has...mysteriously disappeared…”

“No he won’t, because I’m taking it to him.” Dahlia replied, taking the other glass in her free hoof. She then slowly raised herself onto her hind legs, then into the air with her wings.

“Oh, I get it. ‘Taking’ it to him…” Torque raised an eyebrow then made fake kissing noises over at Dahlia.

Dahlia simply shook her head in response. “Funny,” she shot back as she twisted her back to him, flying towards the door.

“Remember to take it slowly!” Riptide gave his final piece of advice, which fell on death ears. He chuckled to himself as he thought about it. “Wouldn’t surprise me if he’s a one-hit-wonder…”

Dash couldn’t help but shake her head. “It’s scary to think how smart you would be if your heads swapped places…”

“Nah, then he’d just be an orange yeti with a dick on his head.” Crash Dive immediately added.

His brother snorted so hard that cider came out of his nose. Everypony immediately burst into fits of laughter, almost bringing them to tears at the image. The pub wasn’t busy, which almost made for certain that all eyes were on them and their mad cackling, but Dash didn’t care. That was just too damn funny.

Riptide grumbled a little then went back to nursing his drink.

Dahlia pushed through the double-doors and took a step onto the street. The sun was gradually getting lower in the Sky, and pegasi were on the street, signing off from work for the week and getting ready to celebrate their Friday night.

She glanced around, taking note of the few ponies mingling. It didn’t take her long to spot Torque. He sat with his back to the glass window of the pub, appearing to be deep in thought whilst smoking a cigarette.

Dahlia scoffed then slowly approached him. “Ya know,” she said a tad louder to initially catch his attention, “I hear ponies say that those things are bad for you. You could’ve been faster.”

Torque made eye contact, blowing out of the side of his mouth so he didn’t blow smoke in Dahlia’s face. “I don’t believe in superstitions. Give me some numbers, then I’ll think about it.”

“Hm. Fair enough,” Dahlia pushed the cider towards him, pushing it so close to his chest that he had no choice but to take it. “Cheers.” Torque held his cigarette between his feathers and took the glass around the handle in his hoof.

Dahlia motioned in to clink her glass with his, but he made no effort to return the favour. She simply pushed hers slightly further forward to compensate, making the clink, then taking a swig from the glass.

“I’m sorry about your results...really, I am...but I think there’s something else bothering you. Wanna talk about it?”

Torque sighed then took a small sip of his cider, staring down into the fizzing orange liquid. “Listen, Dahlia...I appreciate the cider. I also appreciate your concerns… and I’m sorry I have to put it bluntly like this, but I’m not looking for friends.”

Dahlia raised an eyebrow, then sighed. “I can understand wanting to bury bad memories and experiences, such as your loss here. But you can’t let that impact the friendships you’ve made whilst you’re here.”

“If you really want to be my friend, then you can start by forgetting all about me. Because after tonight, you’ll probably never see me again.” He raised his glass to his mouth then paused. “My patience is running out,” he advised before taking another drink.

“...Fine.” Dahlia admitted defeat. “But can you answer one question?”

“What?” Torque replied in a harsh tone.

“Why did you come for trials at the Wonderbolts in the first place? You don’t seem to like it very much, and a pony with your knowledge can do whatever he wants. I’m confused…”

As Dahlia finished taking, Torque finished the final draw on his cigarette. He exhaled slowly, then took another small breath to reply. “It’s not like this was my first plan. It’s quite a few down the list… but it’s my last resort…”

“Last resort?” Dahlia replied, somewhat frustrated. His answers to her questions just lead to more questions.

“I don’t want to talk about it.” Torque raised his wing up and threw the butt of his cigarette into the street. He stood up and proceeded to start walking towards the door.

“Thanks for the insight,” Dahlia replied somewhat sarcastically as she followed him.

They pushed through the door at the same time and returned to the warmth, heading back to their table. Where they found...sixteen glasses of cider?

“What have we missed?” Dahlia asked, examining the cider. Luckily, there appeared to be some untouched glasses. She presumed they were for her and Torque, but awaited confirmation.

“Well now, I was just explanin’ how much of a prick Rapidfire was.” Bright Skies “I mean, I was standin’ in outside during the trainin’, mindin’ my--” she hiccuped violently, but continued without skipping a beat, “own business. And he just struts right up and yells ‘You ain’t becomin’ a Wonderbolt by standing around like that, now get ya ass back in that sky!’”

Dash and Riptide started laughing in unison as Bright Skies impression of a deep male shouty voice somehow ironically made her voice higher-pitched. The fact that she was relatively shorter than everypony else only amplified the effect.

Dahlia looked over at Riptide, Dash and White Comiet sitting in a row on one end of the table and raised an eyebrow. “What did I miss?”

“Well basically, she absorbs cider like a sponge. She couldn’t wait and pre-emptively bought everypony another round. Although she’s almost finished that one…” Comet explained, pointing his hoof at her cider glass.

“And those two tried to keep up. Big mistake…” Dash added on, pointing at Crash Dive and Horizon. Who were leaning back in their seats, hooves on their stomachs. The expression on their faces looked pretty painful, with their eyes barely noticing what was going on around them.

“Are you guys OK?” Dahlia asked.

“How can such a little pony chug that fast…?” Crash Dive asked in disbelief.

“I can drink, but not that fast. Geez…” Horizon added. “I can’t keep going like that.”

Bright Skies tipped her head all the way back and lifted the glass exactly vertical, chugging down the little bit that remained then finishing with a sigh as she bought her head and glass back down. She placed the glass on the table, but then titled it towards her and looked in the bottom, intrigued. Her face was very flustered, clearly showing several patches of red under her grey fur. “You ever wondered what would happen if some apple seeds got left in the cider, and you drunk them and an apple tree started growing inside of you? Scary stuff…”

Dahlia rolled her eyes, “I need more booze for this…” she immediately bought her glass to her lips and took a big gulp.

The clocked ticked by, but nopony seemed to care. Despite that half of them received not-so-good news earlier, the atmosphere was relatively relaxed. They didn’t talk about the Wonderbolts or the results either. Probably because no one wanted to bring any awkwardness to the table.

“And then this bonehead of a stallion comes up to me and says the cheesiest pickup line I’ve ever head. ‘My life could be yours’ or something along those lines.” Dahlia continued telling a story, her face slightly rosy from alcohol consumption. “And I replied ‘I’ve seen half of it, and I’m not impressed.’ The look on his bro’s faces were priceless!”

As the final word rolled off her tongue, Dahlia bought her glass to her lips and finished the last of her cider off. However, her drought was shorted-lived, as one of the bartenders appeared at the side of their table, carrying a tray filled with glasses of cider. Enough to last them all for a while except Bright Skies, who seemed to finish a pint off in less than three gulps.

“Uhh...thanks?” Dahlia said, confused as to why he was bringing them instead of Torque.

“You’re welcome. Courtesy of the gentlecolt who just left,” The bartender explained as he distributed the drinks.

“Wait, Torque? Orangey-brown fur, red and blue mane and tail?” Dahlia described.

He nodded in response, “He paid for the drinks and asked me to bring them over to you before he left.” With his job finished, he picked the tray back up and headed back to the bar.

“...Huh.” Dahlia was lost for words. “Not even a goodbye…”

“So what? Not like he cared about anypony riiight? Hope his stubborn ass gets what's comin’ to it!” Bright Skies punched the table with her hoof. Her face was very red, and she didn’t look very well.

“Damn Skies, I love the drunk you.” Dash replied, raising her glass.

“I love drunk me too!” Bright Skies added, clinking her glass against Dash’s.

“But...isn’t anypony concerned about Torque?” Dahlia asked.

“Not really. Ya can’t really feel sorry for a guy who closes himself off like that,” Riptide replied.

“But he did open up occasionally,” Dahlia argued, “Maybe he’s just shy? Some ponies are like that. Either way, there was definitely something else bugging him. I dunno, maybe I just felt like we could’ve helped him more…”

“Dahlly, Sister,” Dash pulled Dahlia closer to her with her wing, “Me and Twilight and my friends have done the whole ‘redemption’ thing a million times.” She bought her wings out in front of her to use her wings to count. “ ‘Lean who you really are’, ‘What you’re doing is bad’, ‘We can show you the way’, ‘You need to face your fears’. We’ve done it all. And from what I’ve seen, all you can do it put a pony on the right path, and the rest’ll sort itself out… most of the time.”

Dahlia chuffed, “Well, I guess that’s good advice, coming from a personal aide of the Princess of Friendship. And I did give talk to him a little bit...maybe it’ll give him time to sink in…”

“That’s the spirit!” Dash exclaimed, holding her glass up, “Now drink! Cheers!”

Everypony clinked their glasses together again, but Dahlia couldn’t help but look out the window, leading to the pathway where Torque would’ve walked as he left....

As the eight of them finally stumbled their way out of the front door, the bartender closed it behind them and locked it up. He turned and looked at the state of the ponies in front of him. “She gonna be alright?” He asked, pointing to Bright Skies. Currently resting her head on Dahlia’s shoulders whilst being supported by both Dahlia and Rainbow Dash.

“She’ll be fine,” Dahlia said, somewhat reassuringly. “I’m sorry she--” she hiccuped, but continued, “threw up on your floor.”

The bartender shook his head. “Don’t worry, I’ll let it slide because I’m actually impressed how such a small pony drank so much cider. Where did she put it all?” He asked, scratching his head.

“Shhh, the baby’s sleeping,” Dahlia loud-whispered and stroked Bright Skies’ mane.

The bartender gave them one last smile before extending his wings. “Safe journey, ponies,” he said as he flew off.

“Did...did aanypony catch where sh-she lived?” Dahlia slurred.

“Pfft, I dunno,” Dash shrugged aggressively, but forgot she had Bright Skies straddled over her shoulders. She caught her before she fell to the ground, but much to their amazement, she barely noticed. It did cause a few chuckles though.

“Out like a light,” Comet commented.

“I’ll say,” Dahlia replied. “Hey, where’s Riptide?”

“Hurling in the trash can,” Comet replied, pointing his hoof over to the start of an alleyway. Riptide held his head over the can and occasionally some grunts of pain came his way.

Despite feeling somewhat sympathetic, Dahlia couldn’t help but laugh at the situation they were all in. “Alright...Dash, where you living again?”

“Pon *hic* Ponyville.” Dash tapped her chest with her hoof a few times to try and suppress heartburn.

“Ain’t that the way you’re going Comet?” Dahlia asked.

“Yep,” Comet grabbed both Crash Dive and Horizon in his wings. They were completely out of it. One eye was looking in a different direction to the other. “I’m taking these two to Ponyville train station and wishin’ ‘em good luck.”

Dahlia nodded, then looked over at Bright Skies. “Guess I’ll take her back to my place then. I can manage her on my own.”

“You sure?” Dash asked.

“Positive,” Dahlia replied, “But can you help me put her on my back? Think I’ll need to get into the air first, I ain’t takin’ off with this much weighing my down.” She pointed with her hooves to Bright Skies, her own luggage, and Bright Skies’ luggage.

“We’re wasted; you sure that’s a good idea?” Dash questioned.

“Well unless you’ve got any better ones,” Dahlia replied, extending her wings and prepping to take flight. “Up we go.”

Dash and Dahlia slowly hovered into the air and supported Bright Skies body between them. Bright Skies seemed oblivious to what was going on, occasionally making some sort of noise or babbling incoherent nonsense.

“Grab her hind legs and pull her onto me,” Dahlia instructed.

“Nah, I don’t wanna hurt her. I’ll push her up,” Dash placed her free hoof under Dahlia’s body.

Dahlia groaned a little. “Fine, but not too hard. She could still have more in there, and I’m right underneath her if she chucks up again.”

“...point taken,” Dash replied, taking Dahlia’s advice into consideration and replaced the position of her hooves to hopefully places a little less pressure on her stomach.

She pushed with one hoof and pulled with another until Bright Skies was lying on her stomach on Dahlia’s back, and straddled her legs either side of Dahlia. “Great, now get our bags.”

Dash and Comet worked together in bringing their bags to them.

“That’s the last one,” Dash handed it to her.

“Great,” Dahlia found some free space on her shoulders. “Damn, this is heavy.”

Bright Skies wrapped her hooves around Dahlia’s neck, pulling herself forward and nuzzling her head into the right side of her neck. “I love you…” She drunkenly mumbled.

“Awww, I love you too,” Dahlia replied somewhat sarcastically and rustled her mane. But then she immediately cringed and pulled her head away. “Or at least I would if your breath didn’t stink of barfy-cider.” She wafted her nose a little with her hoof.

“Alright, I guess we should go…” Dash suggested. As she finished her sentence, she noticed Riptide coming back over. “Feel better? Gonna make it back to Canterlot okay?”

“I-I should be fine. Should make the last train from Ponyville...anyway, group hug?” Riptide jumped into the air and hovered, holding his hooves out wide. Dash found it funny that his wings were flapping out of sync, making him wobble a bit.

Dahlia sighed, “Bring it in everypony,” She held her arms wide.

“Oh what the hay,” Dash agreed, being too drunk to care. She pulled herself in with everypony else as they formed a circle out of each other's embrace. Although it became a bit awkward with all their bags around their shoulders and with Bright Skies on Dahlia’s back.

But one thing became more obvious than that. “Hey, where’s Crash Dive?”

The sound of something falling over and possibly breaking around the corner quickly caught their attention. “Hey, get back here and clean that up!” An angry stallion voice bellowed.

“Guess we should move quickly now.” Dash suggested.

“Yeah. Horizon, it’s been great knowing you, and I hope to see you again soon. Good luck with--”

His brother was quickly appearing in her peripheral vision. “Shitshitshitshitshitflyflyflyfly!” He whizzed passed them with little concern for anything else.

“What did you do--oh there’s no time,” Dahlia looked back at Horizon, “pass what I said onto him. The rest of you, see ya in two weeks!” Dahlia turned to fly away whilst waving her hoof. “Say goodbye Skies,” She reminded Bright Skies, giving her a nudge with her shoulder.

“Mmm,” Bright Skies made a groany sort of sound and flopped her left wrist at them.

“Better dash, Dash,” Comet advised, flying the direction Horizon had bee-lined it for.

“Yep,” Dash didn’t disagree with him there, following suit. As much as she’s flown drunk in the past, she was never any good at keeping herself level. But given the awkward situation, she didn’t have much of a choice but to fly fast. She couldn’t help but find herself laughing hysterically at the situation along with Comet, Horizon, Crash Dive and Riptide.

She was so pleased to be heading home on top. Heading home with a sense of pride, that she was one step closer to becoming a Wonderbolt. It made the relief much sweeter knowing that she earned her two weeks worth of rest and relaxation, and some quality time chilling with her friends and…


Dash couldn’t quite put it together in her head. During her first week, she was looking forward to spending time with her friends after the Wonderbolts. But towards the end, she couldn’t seem to take her mind off of Soarin. It’s as if he had something for her that her friends didn’t. Some sort of...attraction…

‘What’s happening to me?’ She started questioning herself as she flew. She sighed as she thought it over more. Maybe she really was denying herself some other feelings. Or at the very least suppressing them to prevent them from hindering her performance. Maybe he was more than just a friend...problem is, the realisation of it couldn’t have come to her at a worse time...