• Published 26th Apr 2015
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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 16

Dash landed on the cloud leading up to the Wonderbolt HQ. The weather was clear and she was brimming with confidence. Any doubts she had over the past two weeks had quickly been pushed to the back of her mind. They were still lingering there, but she had been given a new source of confidence that let her overcome them.

And that confidence came in the form of Soarin.

Despite him being openly honest about him being unable to help her should the need for it arise, that only spurred her on more. If she failed, it would only be her fault. Nopony else’s. She was hoping that she would get some opportunity to spend some quality time with Soarin, but she wasn't counting on it. She had to keep their relationship under the radar, even if it meant sacrificing some of the time they had to spend together.

It was an odd feeling, being so close yet so far away. She seen him almost every day on her two weeks off. It even had some of her other friends around Ponyville questioning her where she was. Nevertheless, she would find a way…

She pushed through the doors to the HQ, seeing a few ponies there already on the benches in the waiting area. She was far from late though, so she had no reason to worry. She trotted up to the reception desk, seeing the mare she saw last time.

“Rainbow Dash,” She spoke confidently as she approached the desk.

“I wouldn’t forget you,” The mare replied, pulling the typical forms out from the side whilst completing some other paperwork of her own. Dash signed it no questions asked, then returned it to her. “Please have you bag ready…” She paused for a second, as if something caught her eye, but then continued, “for inspection.”

‘That’s new,’ Dash thought as she walked over to the seating area. It was all the same it was last time, lines of benches waiting to be filled. She glanced over, trying to find an available seat. But then she noticed the purple coat and candy-patterned mane. She smiled and walked over to her, hoping that she could surprise her when she got there. But unfortunately for her, Dahlia looked in her direction just as she was about to sit down.

“Long time no see, stranger,” Dahlia joked, extending her hoof out to Dash.

“Great to see you to,” Dash replied, bumping her hoof against Dahlia.

“I’m surprised I didn’t see you earlier…” She paused again, looking at Dash funny. A similar look the mare from the reception desk gave her. “I can usually see those seven colours from miles away.”

Despite the brief pause, Dahlia continued with no break in her speech. Dash brushed over it, not seeing anything out of the ordinary. “Funny, cuz that’s how I spotted you, Candy Cane,” Dash replied, emphasizing her point by flicking Dahlia’s fringe with her hoof.

Dahlia laughed at her joke, but it was obvious by the stifle in her laugh that she had heard that joke plenty of times before. “What did you do with your time off?”

“Sleep,” Dash joked, “And catch up with my friends. Things tend to get lost quite quickly when you’re away for as long as we are.”

“I bet,” Dahlia replied, “Take it you didn’t have to save Equestria with Princess Twilight during your time off?”

“Pff, only two or three times,” Dash joked in response, batting her hoof. “But hopefully we won’t have to do that too soon. I’d rather say here as much as I can.”

“Same. How much do you know about what’s coming up? Bet you managed to use your position with the Princess to use some friends-of-friends favours…” Dahlia suggested with a smile.

Dash shrugged in response, “I tried, but nopony was talking. They keep secrets very well here.” Dash explained, trying her best not to go into too much detail. Specifically, the pony she got it from.

“Hmph,” Dahlia glanced down and thought quickly, “I’m expecting a challenge...I hope I’m up for it…”

“Me too…” Dash replied in agreement, her mind beginning to drift off to the challenges ahead.

“Ah, my two favourite mares. Don’t worry, you can both hug me,” A familiar voice appeared behind them, then both Dash and Dahlia felt a hoof around the shoulders. The orange stallion in question suddenly slid in-between them on the bench seat and pulled them into him.

“Hello Riptide,” Dahlia replied monotonously, not even putting up any resistance to his hug, but not hugging him back either.

“Seems you made it home alright after we went drinking two weeks ago then?” Dash replied, pushing herself away from his hug. She didn’t usually have too much of a problem with hugs, she just happened to know what Riptide’s intentions were with it…

“Even better. I was about to pass out when I got off the train, but as I walked out of the station, some pretty mares picked me up in a carriage and took me to a hotel. Best part was I didn’t pay a thing. And I felt much better afterwards. It was amazing…” Riptide had a glisten in his eye as he recalled his evening.

“That was an ambulance, Riptide. They took you to a hospital.” Dahlia explained his story in a more believable format.

“It was? Oh...that explains the cute outfits…” Riptide put a hoof in his chin, “Anyway, I woke up all better. One of them was a bit rough for a nurse though. Left me with a black eye…”

“That generally happens when you touch mares in places they don’t want to be touched,” Dahlia replied, rolling her eyes.

Riptide shrugged in response, “Dunno, can’t really remember it…how did you get home with Bright Skies on your back anyway Dally?”

“Oh don’t,” Dahlia asked, holding her head in her hooves. “I’m pretty sure Bright Skies almost fell to her death a few times on the way back.”

Despite the description of the situation being anything but funny, Dash and Riptide could only laugh at the thought of a drunk pegasus trying to rescue another drunk pegasus. “Hey, it may be funny for you, but I was the one with the weight of responsibility on my shoulders! I was scared out of my skin!”

Her description only seemed to make everypony laugh harder. Dahlia huffed at the response, but she could see why they would find it humorous. “Just don’t mention it too much. She was quite embarrassed about it the morning after. Whilst I think she enjoyed it, I think she’d appreciate it if we left out some details.”

They continued to mingle amongst themselves for a short while before Dahlia saw White Comet and Bright Skies walk up to reception. They obviously met each other at some point en-route. They both signed in one by one, then Dahlia waved them over, making space on the bench. Everypony was starting to arrive, and whilst it wasn’t limiting bench space, it was starting to get a bit more crowded.

“So, how are all you guys feeling about this one?” Dahlia asked.

“I’m confident. I spend my time wisely during the two weeks off, and now I feel ready…well, technically I spend the first day recovering,” Comet added with a smirk.

“I know what I need to do,” Bright Skies chimed in also, sounding oddly confident for her. Spending time with them seemed to bring her out of her shell some more.

“Good to hear we all feel the same way. We’re all friends now, but when it comes down to it, I won’t take it easy on you just because of that,” Dash told them all, winking.

“Pfft, you’ll be the one chasing me,” Dahlia gave Dash a playful shove.

“I’ll hold you to that,” Dash retorted with a grin on her face and deliberately holding her head up high.

Dash started thinking to herself as her friends started conversing between themselves. She was mentally preparing herself for whatever was about to be thrown at her. Like Comet and Skies, she was also confident and knew what she needed to do...mostly. She had to prove to the Wonderbolts that she was the best.

“Oh, walk proudly boy!” A loud voice echoed throughout the room, interrupting her train of thought. Dash turned her head in the direction of the voice. The source was coming through the door.

She was surprised to see Torque walk through the door, not looking very happy and just staring down. He appeared to have bought a bag with his belongings with him. His face was slowly turning red. Whoever that stallion who was with him was, he was making him very embarrassed.

Speaking of the stallion, he looked very similar to Torque. His coat was a shade lighter and slightly losing its colour, probably due to age. His mane was the same blue as the blue found in Torque’s, but he lacked the dark red found in Torque’s. He had the same buzz-cut mane that Torque had, but his tail was a lot shorter and cut similarly. He was wearing a green uniform, with the insignia of the Airship Force on the shoulders of his shirt. He also had a few medals pinned to the front of his shirt, along with an insignia on the collar of his shirt that presumably represented rank. He took big strides with his back straight and chest out, looking like the very definition of self-confidence.

“Oh come on, straight back, head up!” He ordered, poking Torque with his wing to encourage him. “Be proud, Son!” The volume of his voice was attracting attention, much to Torque’s dismay. Whilst he didn’t look happy, his voice didn’t sound angry either. Just dominant.

Torque complied and held his head up, but not without cringing and trying his best to avoid eye contact with anypony. He seemed to be doing his best to try and walk with his eyes closed.

They walked straight past the waiting area and headed towards the door that lead to the corridors.

“Whoa...is that Torque’s dad?” Dahlia asked out loud, holding her hoof over her mouth.

Dash looked over at her, “Sounds like it. But who is he?”

“That’s Admiral Swift Sprint. Chief Marshal of the Airship Force. One of the best Equestria has to offer.”

Dash’s eyes widened as Dahlia explained...somepony like that was Torque’s father? With that much authority to throw around, Torque could do practically anything he wanted. Which only raised the question; why was he here when he didn’t want to be? Or at least implying that he didn’t want to be…

“Oh, I remember now,” Comet continued the discussion, “I remember vaguely reading something about him. Way before we were born, and when he was still young, there was a new type of airship, a prototype designed to be a lot more agile. It gained a bad reputation for being hard to handle, but Swift Sprint insisted it was a problem with training, not the design. Nopony believed him, so to prove his point, him and a few others stole the prototype and flew it flatout through the canyons of the Smokey Mountains to set a new record. Only then did they re-evaluate their training.”

“Wow, he sounds awesome,” Dash replied, rubbing her hooves together.

“Only because that’s something you would do Dash,” Dahlia replied, swatting Dash’s shoulder.

“Haha, if only I knew how. I think I’ll stick to my own pair of wings,” She replied, waving them slightly. Her mind couldn’t even comprehend trying to steer one of those behemoths around.

The speculation continued over Torque’s and his presumed-father’s mystery appearance. Although the same thought was on everypony’s mind; it sounded like his father had arrived to exert his authority to get Torque back in. Did he really have that kind of power? Dash knew the Wonderbolts, Airship Force, and Pegasi units worked closely together, but surely they couldn’t order each other around like that?

The speculation came to a close when Torque and Swift Sprint returned from the corridor. They stopped over by the entrance. Torque appeared to have some sort of verbal exchange with Swift, but Dash was too far away to hear. Although judging from the aggressive ways their mouths were moving, it wasn’t a typical ‘good luck’...

Swift walked out the building shortly after and Torque found some free space somewhere. Dash thought about calling him over, but thought better of it. He probably wasn’t in such a good mood. And the fact that no one had done it yet suggested that everypony else thought the same way.

“Mares and Stallions!” Spitfire suddenly appeared from out the same corridor, gathering everypony’s attention. Some of the other Wonderbolts trickled through the corridor as she continued her speech. “Welcome back, and congratulations once again for making it this far. But if you think it’s going to be as easy as last time, think again. This time, nopony will be your maid. You will be responsible for your living arrangements and making sure that they are up to the standard we expect from the Wonderbolts. Those of you that have always had Mommy around to help you will be in for a world of shock. Those of you who have somewhat grown up and moved out will also be shocked by our standards. We will go into that more so during these first few days. I’m not gonna sugar coat it; this first day or two are gonna be hell for some of you.”

Whilst she was sort of expecting it, Dash couldn’t help but feel herself cringe a little. What Spitfire was describing sounded more like chores. This must be what Soarin was trying to imply that day. It was no longer like a cheap hotel and more like a military boot camp.

“Further details will be in your rooms. The room assignments are the same as last time. Now, we will form orderly lines where you will present your bags to one of us for inspection. Take this opportunity to remove anything embarrassing before it gets called out. Stallions, that means any saucy magazines. Mares, that means any ‘toys’ you may have bought.”

A few snickers echoed from around the room. Dash only rolled her eyes at the thought. Luckily, she didn’t bring anything of the sort. Although she noticed a few faces that looked unsure…

“Now line up one-by-one. Please use your brains and pick the shortest line. Anypony caught not using their brains will be sent to get some.”

Dash smirked slightly at Spitfire’s joke. Although through the harshness of her tone, it was hard to tell if she was joking or not. Maybe she was just very good at sarcasm...or she was serious…

Dash pulled herself off her seat and headed towards the crowd of ponies, picking the shortest line she first laid her eyes on. A lot of the pegasi continued to chat idly amongst themselves in the line. She was more focused on what was up ahead though.

She looked over to see the Wonderbolts doing the inspections. She appeared to be in line for Fire Streak to check their bags. She glanced at all the other lines until she finally saw him. Soarin. She was going to be within an arms reach most of the time they were here, yet they were both mostly sworn to secrecy for both their sakes. It would be hard...but the one thing that stood out to her was that Soarin seemed to be the only one wearing the Wonderbolts uniform. He wore it in the proper fashion too, tie done all the way up and well-fitting. All the other Wonderbolts weren’t even wearing their flight suits. She couldn’t work out the reason he was wearing it…

“Bags please,” A familiar voice broke her out of her pondering. She had made it to the front of the line, and now Fire Streak was asking to see her bag. Having nothing to hide, Dash simply placed them at his hooves. Fire Streak was very thorough in his search, leaving nothing unturned. But nevertheless, he found nothing of interest in her belongings. He handed her back the bags and told her to proceed.

Dash made her way back down the corridors she’d barely forgotten. She eventually found her room and it was all the same layout it was left in. Aside from the fact that all the bedding had been stripped and there seemed to be a booklet of some description on the mattresses.

Dash walked over to it and picked it up, setting her bags down by the front of the bed. She sat on the edge of the bed and and started reading. At a similar time, she saw Dahlia enter.

“What are these?” Dahlia asked, approaching her bed.

“Some sort of guide of what’s expected of us I think,” Dash replied, flicking through the pages, “Cleaning, cooking, ironing, bed making. Geez, the standards they want us to go through are insane.”

“Let me see,” Dahlia picked up the copy of her booklet and flicked through it. It didn’t take her long to be surprised. “Holy crap...this really is like enlisting in the Royal Guard…”

“Guess the Wonderbolts are a military force during wars. It makes sense that they’d at least put us through our paces with stuff like this,” Dash suggested, working out what was going on.

“Yeah…” Dahlia agreed, closed her booklet, then looked up at Dash, “Anyway, since it’s just me and you here for now…” She started trotting over to Dash.

Dash stopped reading and looked up, confused. Dahlia stopped opposite her, then glanced left and right, then gave Dash a cheeky smirk. “Who’s the lucky stallion?”

Dash felt her cheeks puff out and her eyes widen at the question. “I, uh...dunno what you’re talking about,” She replied, looking away and doing her best to suppress a blush.

“Oh don’t hide it, I just wanna know how you of all ponies met a stallion who showed you so much affection in these past two weeks,” Dahlia replied, an eager smile on her face.

Dash turned to face her, “How do you know he was that affectiona--” She covered her mouth with her hoof as she was caught off guard by Dahlia’s conversation and let it all slip.

“Aha, I knew it!” Dahlia replied, prodding her with her wing, “So who is he?”

No matter how Dash tried, she couldn’t suppress her blush now. “He’s...nopony.” Her answer was anything but good, but she was desperately trying to avoid Dahlia’s line of questioning. She didn’t want to let anymore slip...

“Pff,” Dahlia batted her hoof, “Sompony to leave you like that isn’t just ‘nopony’. Come on, I won’t tell,” She wrapped her wing around Dash’s shoulders, pulling her closer.

“Leave me like what?” Dash asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Well, that--” Dahlia paused as the realisation hit her. “Oh, you haven’t noticed yet.” Dahlia slowly broke into a laugh and released Dash. “I’ll let you find out on your own first.” She turned away to go back to her bed.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Dash asked, even more confused. And not sure whether she should be embarrassed or not…

“Nothing, nothing,” Dahlia replied, trotting away with a mischievous bounce in her step. She looked at Dash before turning her attention back to her things. “But for the record, whoever it is, I’m jealous. You’re a lucky mare, Dash.”

Dash couldn’t help but smile at her compliment. If only Dahlia knew who ‘he’ really was... and Dash couldn’t agree more. She was the luckiest mare in Equestria to have ‘him’.

As Rainbow started unpacking her things, White Comet, Bright Skies and Riptide made their way in. Everypony seemed to go to the same beds they were in last time, not seeming too bothered about shaking things up.

“Huh...this could be tricky…” Comet commented about the booklet, scratching his head as he read.

“That’s worrying, coming from somepony like you,” Dahlia replied.

Comet shrugged, “Well, I still live with my parents. Guess taking on all this by myself is kinda new to me.”

“So do I. I mean, I could move out, but I do it purely because it makes work easier. It’s so much easier when all you need to do to go to work is drift into your back yard...but I guess the only ponies in this room that might do alright are Bright Skies and Dash, since they live on their own.” Dahlia pointed over at them.

“Yeah...just because I live on my own, doesn’t mean my housekeeping’s that great,” Dash admitted. “It can’t be THAT big of a deal as this book makes it out to be though can it? Being able to make a bed and wash your uniform doesn’t make you a great flyer.”

“I dunno Dash, I’ve heard of ponies being discharged from Royal Guard training for less than that…” Comet replied.

Just as they were starting to discuss it, Torque appeared. He just came through and went straight over to his bed, not making eye contact with anypony.

“Well, look who made it through in the end!” Dahlia exclaimed, trying her best to sound cheerful despite the odd circumstance. Although Torque didn’t respond to any of it.

Dahlia glanced over her shoulders with a perplexed look on her face. She looked back at Torque. “Hey, Torque...was....was that pony your Dad?” She asked, not really sure how to word the question. It clearly wasn’t an easy one for Torque.

Torque took a quick pause, “...Yes.” He reluctantly answered then resumed his unpacking.

Dahlia waited patiently for a more elaborative answer, but eventually shrugged, knowing she wasn’t going to get one. “So...are you gonna tell us what happened?”

“No.” He once again said bluntly. He quickly picked up the booklet, flicked through the pages, then threw it up his bed towards his pillow.

“...Alright then…” Dahlia was unsure how to continue the conversation for now. Something had clearly upset him, but he wasn’t letting onto what. However, one thing she did catch was the precision and care he used when laying out his things. It was as if he’d done this before...

“Anyway, I’m heading to the fitting rooms.Want to make sure I get something in my size before they all go.” Comet explained, leaving his things behind and heading towards the door.

“That’s a good call,” Dash immediately agreed, looking for a quick excuse to diffuse the awkward situation...by leaving.

“Right behind you,” Bright Skies added, obviously getting the same idea.

Dahlia shot daggers at her roomates as they started leaving. She had a slight scowl as they walked past her. Dash deduced that it was because they were leaving whilst she was trying to continue to try and figure out what’s wrong with Torque.

Dash quickly walked out of the room and followed the signs to the back offices where they were to pick up their flight suits. Once again, she was part of the first group of pegasi to arrive. She imagined that most ponies were still processing the hell that they’d signed up for.

She followed the flow of pegasi and wound up in what appeared to be some sort of store cupboard. Outside the double-doors stood Rapidfire with a notepad. She recalled the exercises she had with Rapidfire. From the volume of his shouting combined with his surgical precision and attention to detail, she was certain that he had a background in the Royal Guard or military of some description. These next few weeks would sure bring out the best in him.

“Skydance,” He addressed the mare that reached him first, flicking through the paper on his clipboard. “You were a size M last time. Did that fit okay?” He didn’t lift his eyes from his clipboard as he scribbled.

“Well, I think--”

“Yes or no?” He suddenly snapped, looking up at the mare, making direct eye-to-eye contact.

“N-n-no.” The yellow mare with the purple mane was caught off guard and didn’t no how to respond to the bluntness of Rapidfire’s questions.

“Stand aside,” He replied, motioning with his hoof. “Next!”

He quickly dwindled the line down. Presumably, those that weren’t happy were gonna get refitted. Dash quickly found her way to the front of her line. He recited her name from memory as well. Then again, her name was probably one of the easiest to remember.

“Size M. Still okay?” He asked.

“Yes,” Dash replied confidently.

“Then go get one,” He motioned to the door.

Dash pushed through the door. It was dimly lit, but there was enough suits here for everypony. The sight of the suits made her cringe though. They weren’t neatly folded or packed in the way when she was first given one. They were creased and looked like they’d just been thrown in. Some of them had a few stains on them, but nothing serious. And there was no bad smells emanating from them. It was as if they had been washed, but with little to no effort.

Dash rummaged through them. Luckily, they were dry to the touch. Although some of them made some interestingly disgusting sounds as they seemed to be moved for the first time in two weeks. She eventually found a label with M written on it. She pulled it out and held it up to the light to examine it. A small stain on the right hoof, looked like food. Other than that, it looked fine. No holes, no tears, no smells. She double-checked it for stains, specifically around the crotch area. She remembered the looks on some of the faces of ponies two weeks ago, and they weren’t pretty…

Satisfied, she took it away and headed out, back to her room. She laid it out flat on her bed. It was very creased. Looks like it was gonna need ironing as well. Other than that, everything was in order. Both zips worked both ways.

“Ack, that was awful,” Dahlia said in disgust as she walked in, “At least half of the suits have traces of skidmarks in them. And I even think this pony dumped coffee all over his or her lap at some point,” She held her uniform up to show the stains on the thighs of the suit.

“Eh, it’s faded for the most part. Should wash out,” Dash guessed, shrugging.

“Even the colours of them look faded,” Dahlia followed on, “Chances are these suits are a few years old and are only used on occasions like this.”

“Sounds about right,” Dash agreed, seeing Bright Skies walk through the door, Comet behind her.

“At least there’s an advantage of being one of the few XS’s here,” Skies explained as she unravelled her suit. “Almost spotless. And I think I can sort of see my initials faded on the label. I think this was the same suit I had last time.”

“That’s lucky. A quick wash will sort that out fine,” Dahlia explained, continuing to organize her things. She took a few of her toiletries into the bathroom.

“I dunno what everypony’s complaining about. Mine’s mostly fine,” Riptide explained as he walked in, laying it out on his bed. “Are they really gonna be that uptight about how clean we are?”

“Probably,” Comet replied, “And it’s easy for you to say when you’re one of the few XL’s. You didn’t have to wade through loads of uniforms in limited time to find the best one.”

Everypony continued sorting through her things. Dash had almost done it according to the guide, but she was nowhere near the quality they required. Her plan was to get everything initially in roughly the right place and then neaten it up later. Just as she was reading the booklet and deciding what it was she needed to do, she saw Torque enter. His uniform didn’t look in very good condition.

“Damn, did somepony go swimming through mud with that?” Dahlia joked, but got no response from Torque.

“Yeah, dude. If that were me, I wouldn’t even bother with that. It’s a lost cause,” Riptide agreed.

“Then you’re not trying hard enough,” Torque replied plainly, not losing a beat from organizing his possessions.

“Pff...good luck dude…” Riptide left it at that.

Despite the fact that he appeared to be very frustrated at the moment, Dash couldn’t help but shake the feeling that he somehow knew what he was doing. He moved so fluidly and purposely, compared to the rest of them that stumbled or stopped to think. Something was telling Dash that he had a plan in his head…

As the others moved out to go to find somewhere to wash their uniforms, Dash headed to the bathroom. All she really bought was her toothbrush, toothpaste and comb. That was all she really needed. And it would appear some of her roommates thought the same way. However, somepony, once again, bought...more than necessary, to say the least. She had a good feeling she knew who it was…

After using the toilet, she looked at herself in the mirror as she washed her hooves. The mirror was much bigger than the one in her bathroom at home. Coupled with the fact that it was further away let her see a lot more of herself.

“Hm?” As she looked down her face, she noticed a slightly pink spot on her neck. Was she getting a spot? She hadn’t had one of those in a while... she ran her hoof over it. It wasn’t sore, nor did it feel any differently under her hoof. Could it be a bug bite? No, it would be painful and bumpy if it was one of those. She tried to recall what she’d been doing to perhaps contract something like. The only thing to really touch her there was…

...Then it hit her. She remembered the other night. Her and Soarin had a rather...passionate night. He was showing her some...alternative kissing methods. She remembered him going for her neck quite aggressively. He must have given her a lovebite.

Dash cringed at the realization. She suddenly understood how Dahlia knew that she had a special somepony she’d been smooching. And this is probably what ponies noticed on her face. She suddenly felt the heat rise all the way to her ears. She felt so embarrassed that she was unknowingly flaunting something she probably shouldn’t have been, given her and Soarin’s current situation.

Her attention immediately turned to see how she could cover it up. However, no solutions immediately presented themselves. Only thing that might be possible is that in one of Dahlia’s makeup sets, she might be able to borrow something. But she didn’t want to go rummaging through Dahlia’s stuff without permission. Not to mention she wouldn’t have the slightest clue what she was looking for...

She shrugged it off, knowing that it was out there now and nopony seemed to really be bothered about it other than Dahlia. Plus, most of the time, she would be wearing the flight suit that would cover it anyway.

She left the bathroom, picked up her suit, then went to find somewhere to wash her suit. Luckily, the area was mostly signposted and easy to follow. She walked into some sort of utility room. There was rows upon rows of sinks and other appliances dedicated to cleaning and maintenance. At the end, there was a door that had ‘kitchen’ written on it. The fluorescent lamps on the ceiling provided a lot of light. Perfect for something that required a lot of attention to detail.

Dash found an empty sink and immediately got to work. The sink was huge, more than enough for her to wash her suit in. She identified some detergents and other various products sitting on the edge of the sink. After confirming the plug was in, she poured in an overly generous amount of the detergent into the sink and began filling it by turning on the tap.

After filling the sink up enough to submerge her suit, Dash lowered it in, being careful not to splash herself in the process. She took a quick glance left and right to see what the ponies beside her were doing. Her eyes caught a glimpse of Thunder Flash as she was looking. Somepony who wasn’t on her list of ponies to meet again. Nevertheless, she seemed to be minding her own business for now. No need to worry about her yet. Not getting much help from seeing what everypony else was doing, she simply started swirling it around in the water, giving it a good drench to help loosen the stains.

She swirled it around for a good few minutes before taking to it with the sponge on the side. As she ran it across the surface of the suit, it felt quite abrasive. So much so that Dash thought that she might accidentally damage it by washing it. She looked at the surface of the sponge to see if she could do any better, then tried again, this time gently. But no matter what she tried, she just couldn’t overcome the nerve that she might catch an opening in the suit and rip or tear it.

“Uh, Dash...you do know that’s a dish sponge...right?” Dahlia’s voice appeared behind her.

Dash twisted her head around to see Dahlia, who had taken to using a sink behind her. “Uh, yeah...I knew that, haha,” She smiled sheepishly, putting it down. “I usually have a friend that’s good with clothes if I never need any serious cleaning though.”

Dahlia shook her head, “Okay, instead of using the sponge, rub the fabric between your hooves like this,” Dahlia dove her hooves into the water in Dash’s sink to illustrate her point, picking two pieces of the nomex together and rubbing it between her hooves. “And that water is way too hot for nomex. Make it lukewarm,” She advised, turning the cold tap on.

“Thanks Mom,” Dash joked in response. The way Dahlia came about telling her sounded slightly patronizing, leading to her feeling a little embarrassed. But she was really grateful that she had such a caring roommate and friend come by to show her how to do it properly. Despite the fact that they were directly competing.

As she washed it, it started coming up...surprisingly well. Okay, the colour was never gonna get restored to its former glory, but it was looking much better than when she first got it. Satisfied, she pulled the plug on the drain and pulled the suit out, rinsing it down with the cold tap then wringing it out the best she could so it wouldn’t drip all over the floor.

She turned to see if she could ask Dahlia what she should do next, but by the time she did, Dahlia had already left. Dash shrugged and presumed she would catch her up back at their room, so started heading back.

Her theory was confirmed when she found Dahlia in their room. Bright Skies had also come back. Although her suit was pretty clean to begin with, so it probably didn’t take long.

Before she could enter conversation with Dahlia, Dahlia started walking towards the bathroom. Dash stopped at her bed, thinking Dahlia was wanting to use the toilet, but it turned out that she was just hanging her suit up to dry. Dash continued her stride and stuck her head through the door. “Hey Dally, would you…” She looked behind her before asking, “Would you be able to show me how to iron properly?”

“Sure,” Dahlia replied, “But not with your suit drenched like that. Trust me, it won’t end well. I tried it once, and the singed look isn’t in fashion right now. Hang it up in here with mine and I’ll show you later.”

“...Yeah, sounds good…” Dash replied, really showing how oblivious she was to any of this. Although whilst they were here, it bought another thought into her head. “Oh, that...makeup you got there?” She pointed with her hoof.

“Yeah?” Dahlia tilted her head, intrigued.

“Does it hide...spots?” Dash tried to ask as indirectly as she could, but didn’t really know how to word it.

Dahlia shrugged, “To a certain degree it does, yeah. Why? Notice something?” She asked with a grin on her face, wiggling her eyebrows.

Dash smiled sheepishly in response, rubbing the back of her head with her hoof, “Uh, yeah...haha. I think I got something on my neck. Some kind of rash...” She pointed to the spot on her neck after awkwardly trying to explain the cover up story of how she got it.

Dahlia winked, but quickly went back to being straight-faced. “Unfortunately, I don’t think I have anything in your colour. I think purple would make it worse...would highlight the purple in your rainbow though,” She suggested.

“Heh, I’m alright thanks. I just wanted to see if you had anything. Don’t worry,” Dash ended, finding a hanger to hang her uniform up on and finding something to hang it on. The railing at the end of the shower seemed good enough.

“Although if you can find something in your colour, I can show you how to apply it. To help with…’future breakouts’...” She spoke with extra emphasis on her last two words, making Dash blush with what she was implying.

“Heheh...thanks…” Dash quickly walked away, back to her bed to see if there was anything else she could do.

As she turned around, she noticed that Torque had returned at some point during the time they had been talking. And his suit looked...spotless. It was one of the biggest messes of them all when he first bought it in. But now it was one of the cleanest. Torque had DEFINITELY done this before.

“Whoa…” Dahlia walked over to Torque, who paid no mind to her. “That thing was disgusting when you first got it. How did you get it like this in such little time?” Dahlia questioned, seemingly completely bewildered.

Riptide reached into his bag with his wing and pulled out a box of matches, “I’m a smoker.” He said plainly, then used his wings to light a match and ran it over the edge of his suit, quickly pulling it away after not even a second of the flame making contact. At first, Dahlia thought he was insane, but she quickly realised what he was doing. He was removing loose threads without creating more. It wasn’t a method she had seen before…but it was clearly effective, judging by the speed he was going about it.

“God, this is like slave labour,” Riptide moaned as he walked in, his suit...less than clean. But better than it was at least.

Dahlia rolled her eyes at his complaint, “If I ever meet your Mom, first thing I’m gonna say to her is sorry.” She replied, noticing the condition of his suit. “And you’re meant to wash the soap out of the suit after washing it.”

“Really?” Riptide questioned, looking at his suit, “I mean...why?”

“Oh geez…” Dahlia walked over to the closest wall and banged her head against it. “Celestia help me…” She bought her head off the wall and looked over at him, “I’m probably gonna regret this, but...do you want a hoof?” She forcefully asked.

“That’s kind of you to offer Dally,” Riptide replied, but the grin on his face meant he clearly heard a different interpretation of what came out of Dahlia’s mouth.

“Um, if I could make a suggestion…”

Everypony turned to the quiet voice of Bright Skies, who was reading through the booklet. “The book has a lot we need to do for cleaning the room. It’s pretty clean at the moment, but I think if we worked together, it might make it a little easier...if you think…” She put her thoughts out there.

“That makes sense, since it’s something we’ll all be judged on.” Dahlia backed up Bright Skies’ point further.

“I agree, it’s something we’ll all be judged on after all…” Comet added.

Dash sighed, “Welcome to the Wonderbolts. They need to be good maids apparently,” Dash joked, rolling her eyebrows.

“You say that Dash, but I think you’d look good in one of those maid outfits…”

All Dash could do is scowl at Riptide for that comment. But then thought of a comeback. “I think you’d wear it better…”

Riptide shrugged, “Wanna bet on that?”

“I’m betting on Dash,” Comet immediately interjected, flowing with the joke.

“Not you too,” Dahlia whined, then shook her head. At least she wasn’t been involved in this.

Riptide shrugged again, then a smirk appeared on his face. “I dunno, I think if all you mares walked around in those outfits, the floor would be stained with more than just--”

“TMI!” Dahlia pressed her hooves against her temples and groaned, “Can we get back to the subject of cleaning?”

Dash chuckled at the conversation and moved closer to her roommates so they could all talk a bit easier and see what they needed to do.

Soarin closed the door to his quarters behind him, walking past his workspace into his little home away from home. Whilst there were some Wonderbolts that preferred to leave home at home, some preferred to bring as much of it as they could with them. He was one of the latter.

He took off his uniform that he was wearing, letting it drop lazily to the floor as he unbuttoned it. He went over to his chair and sat down, letting out a long sigh. Today had been busy, and it had gone mostly as planned. Despite understanding the circumstances, he was still disappointed that he didn’t get the opportunity to talk to Rainbow Dash all day. And there was nothing he could do about it.

His thoughts were suddenly interrupted when he heard his door begin to open. It initially startled him, but then he trusted it to be one of the few ponies that he didn’t mind entering unannounced. And his trust was placed correctly.

Spitfire entered through the door to his room, a serious look on her face. She took a few steps in before stopping in front of him, staring at him for a few seconds. A rarity for Soarin, he actually found it hard to make eye contact with her. Mainly because he could sense where she was going to be going with this.

“So that’s why you wore your uniform today,” Spitfire began.

Soarin looked at her, realizing what she meant. She pointed with her hoof to a spot on her neck, whilst staring at that same spot on his neck.

Soarin couldn’t help but grin a bit as he rubbed the slightly pink spot on his neck.

“Rainbow Dash gave that to you didn’t she?” Spitfire got straight to the point, not liking to mince words.

Soarin nodded slowly, feeling a blush begin to rise in his cheeks. There was no point in hiding it now, especially from Spitfire.

“I can’t imagine this being easy for you…” Spitfire continued.

“It’s not,” Soarin replied, “I just want to pull her aside every so often so I can...talk to her…”

“Amongst other things I’m suret,” Spitfire replied, a hint of other implications in her voice. She sighed and sat down with Soarin. “I’ve been through the Wonderbolts’ stance on fraternization with you over a dozen times these past few weeks. I’m not gonna repeat it again. I just wanted to remind you to think of others as well as yourself and Dash.”

Soarin raised an eyebrow, “What do you mean?”

“Well, if you do end up making a mistake, you’re gonna give me a hard choice. My job, or my best friend,” She visualized her choices using her hooves to represent a balancing act, “I want to back your corner at every opportunity I get. But I want to be crystal clear that I’m not gonna put my career on the line for it. If you bend the rules too far, they’ll eventually snap. And if that happens, I won’t be able to help you.”

Soarin shook his head, taking in what Spitfire was saying. “I understand perfectly…”

“Good. Just wanted to clear that up…” Spitfire stood up, “Luckily, we’re gonna be in our flight suits for the most part now. Which will hide that,” She pointed on her own neck where Soarin had the mark. “Although I’m not sure what Dash is gonna do. You didn’t think that far ahead when you were...expressing your love, did you?”

“No, I didn’t. I just sorta...did it.” Soarin replied, shrugging and smiling sheepishly.

“Well, I hear they heal quite quickly anyway…” Spitfire replied, turning to leave. She opened Soarin’s bedroom door to head out, but paused. “Please for the love of Celestia make the right choices, Soarin. I don’t want a professional decision coming between our friendship.” She spoke her final words before leaving.

Soarin got up and moved himself over to his bed with a sigh. He didn’t feel too tired, but it helped him think. He laid flat on his back, thinking about what Spitfire had just said. She was right though. He’d never thought to consider Spitfire and how it would affect her. It must be adding a lot of stress on top of her already extreme workload. She basically had to choose her career or his. Considering the bond between them, it was a tough choice.

Then there was Rainbow Dash herself. Soarin wanted nothing more but to give her help and advice every step of the way. But he knew that that would immediately get him reprimanded. He was walking a fine line. Spitfire would only back him up so much until he was on his own. Unless she went further and put her own career on the line. And if he didn’t back up the mare he loved so dearly, she would be heartbroken at the end.

It all resolved about Dash’s performance. If she manages to sail through and complete the tryouts by becoming a Wonderbolt, then none of this would matter. If for whatever reason she didn’t make the cut, however, that’s when things started to get tough.

Does he choose to side with Dash to maintain their relationship, at the cost of his career?

Does he side with the Wonderbolts, knowing that it’s a professional decision at the end of the day, and leave Dash heartbroken and probably never wanting to speak to him again?

Does he go to Spitfire to ask for more assistance, knowing full-well that if she denies, it could seriously hurt the friendship between them? Or worse, get herself wound up in all of this, costing her her own career? Or worse than that, all three of them?

It really was all food for thought...

Author's Note:

Sounds like Soarin and Dash had a little too much fun before she came back. :raritywink:

The true challenge for everypony begins now, but even more so for Dash. She's only a few hoofsteps away, yet can't get intimate with him in fear of getting caught. The pressure's on for Soarin as well, fully knowing and understanding the risks of the fire he's playing with. The two of them will have to tread carefully over the next few weeks.

It also sounds like Dahlia is going to be everypony's Mum for the next few weeks. She's gonna love that :rainbowlaugh: but she obviously cares for her friends, seeing as even though they are in direct competition, she's willing to help them.

Thanks for reading. :twilightsheepish: