• 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 18

The days were starting to become routine for Rainbow Dash and her roommates. The repetitiveness of having to prepare herself and her belongings up to a standard was starting to ingrain itself into her, giving her a sense of responsibility. And the constant bellowing of the Wonderbolts meant that she was slowly starting to get everything pieced together in her head. Although she was still struggling to get some of the voices to stop shaking her brain around inside her skull.

After they had completed their morning training exercises, Rapidfire had ordered them into the gym. As per what was slowly becoming the norm, Dash held her position in the march. The movement was slowly becoming muscle memory, although she wouldn’t want to try it with her eyes closed...yet…

As she neared the doors, she started to hear activity other than the rhythmic pounding of hooves against the cloud. She could hear thuds and grunts. Almost as if some ponies were fighting…

They went through the doors and started spreading out, forming a broad line so everypony could see what was going on. A large section of open space in the gym had been squared off, approximately thirty by thirty feet. On each corner of the square, there were clouds floating about ten feet in the air, indicating some sort of reference point. There were other areas setup alongside each other of the same dimensions. Inside, she saw two pegasi in some sort of padded armour. They were wearing helmets, with pads along their bodies, legs and hooves.

Dash wasn’t an expert, but she was already piecing together what their next task was going to be. And she would be lying if she said she wasn’t looking forward to picking a fight with somepony...

She identified Fire Streak and Wave Chill beneath the armour by the colours of their manes. They really seemed to be going at it. Throwing punches and grappling each other through the air. Dash had seen this type of competition before, but wasn't completely sure of the rules.

“Nice of you to give us a demonstration,” Rapidfire commented as he positioned himself in the air to address all of the candidates. “Now this will be a real test of your ability. It will also serve as a reminder that whilst we are performers during times of peace, we are also soldiers during times of war. A soldier's job is to protect. But first, you’ve gotta protect yourself.”

As he finished his sentence, an audible thud came from behind him as Wave Chill managed to force Fire Streak to the ground on his back. A few short moments of silence followed before Wave Chill took a step back and extended his hoof to Fire Streak. Who took his offer and pulled himself back up and onto his hooves.

“As you just saw, this type of fighting contest can be won by two ways. The first, and most common, is to force your opponent out of the arena. The second, as Wave Chill just demonstrated, is to force your opponent to land on anything other than their hooves.”

Everypony remained quiet, as if they were expecting some more instructions from Rapidfire. But he just hovered there, not saying anything…

“Easy, right? Well it could be, depending on who you’re up against. There’s enough protective gear of all shapes and sizes to fit everypony. Now go and try your best against each other. What’s fair play is up to me. Now hop to it!” He finished by blowing his whistle, causing everypony to trot towards the arenas. “Sometime today would be nice!” He added for ‘encouragement’, clapping his hooves together.

As she lined up to get some gear on, Dash took note of the ponies that went before here. There were some great ones, and some that looked too scared to even do anything as their opponent swatted them out of the sky like a housefly. Rapidfire had some very choice words to say to some of them.

“Why are we even wearing these?” Riptide’s voice suddenly drew her attention to him, as he was putting on one of the gloves. “They are basically padded mittens. You’re not gonna hurt a fly with these.”

“Is that so, young Riptide?” Rapidfire caught him offguard as his voice sounded from behind. Dash saw him around, so she wasn’t as shocked.

Riptide turned around to meet Rapidfire. “Yeah, that’s right…”

Rapidfire’s eyes narrowed as he picked up on a very important detail Riptide missed. “Yes...what?”

Riptide cleared his throat and stood up straight, “Yes sir.” He answered, correctly this time. When he stood up straight, him and Rapidfire were about even in height.

Rapidfire held his stern stare into Riptide’s eyes for a few seconds, then blinked and shrugged. “I guess you’re right,” He took one of the gloves from Riptide and started putting it on, “Tell you what; lets go at it, you and me. I’ll wear gloves, you don’t have to. Then you can prove it to me.”

Riptide’s eyes widened at his proposal, “I, uh…” He wasn’t doubting his ability to take on Rapidfire, but he wasn’t expecting the sudden challenge.

“C’mon, I’ll even let you take the first punch.” He finished putting the gloves on then stood up straight, exposing his head and chest to Rapidfire as much as he could. “Go on boy, you know you want to…” Their little spar was staring to garner some attention, but Riptide wasn’t taking notice.

Riptide inhaled deeply, mentally preparing himself for what he was about to do. He wasn’t sure if it was right, but he had been given permission to do it. He drew his right hoof up high and closed his eyes. Then, exhaling with the breath he was holding, bought his hoof down onto Riptide’s face. The sound of shocked gasps filled the air around him.

But not even a split second later, he felt something jab him hard in the sides, causing him to wheeze. It also hit a pressure point, causing his muscles to suddenly contract and spasm and lose his footing. Before he had even started to fall, he received another powerful blow to the top of his head before finally falling flat on his stomach.

“Ouch, that looks like it hurt. Luckily it’s just an illusion, as nopony could hurt a fly with these gloves on eh?” Rapidfire waved his gloved hoof in the air as his sarcasm caused various degrees of laughter to erupt around them. He took the gloves off and dropped them in front of Riptide.

“Hope that was educational for you,” Rapidfire said his last words as he continued his patrol around all the candidates.

Dash couldn’t help but laugh at Riptides misfortune either. She saw it coming a mile away, but Riptide didn’t seem to. She knew better than to challenge a Wonderbolt to what was essentially a straight-up hoof fight.

“What did he even do?” Riptide groaned, picking himself up off the floor.

“He didn’t do anything. You just bit off more than you could chew,” Dash answered his question. Although she couldn’t talk too much, as she had a habit of doing that herself on occasion…

Riptide put the glove over his hoof, “Sounds like you’re asking for a contest,” he suggested, lightly tapping Rainbow on the shoulder.

“You’re on! But I won’t go easy on you.” Dash replied.

They didn’t get much of a chance to better iron out their plans as Riptide got pushed along due to already having some of the limited gear. After getting the rest of it on him, he was pushed into the arena. It looked a little tight on him, but he was a bigger than average pony…

Dash did her best to suppress her chuckles at him and his opponent going at it. The ponies around them were doing a much better job, but Riptide and his opponent were drawing a crowd just by sheer comedy value. The constant random flailing looked to be defeating them both through exhaustion rather than knocking each other out.

Riptide managed to outlast his opponent before he forfited, dropping to the ground. Dash wasted no time in taking his place so she could have a shot at Riptide. She got geared up hovered into the middle of the arena, staring eye-to-eye with him. Having already watched him, she had already formulated a strategy in her head. Whilst she wouldn’t say she was a professional, she had her fair share of fighting experience to know what to do.

After somepony started them off, Riptide headed straight for her. Just as Dash predicted, she allowed him to make the first move. His strikes were so predictable, she simply moved out of the way as if she was on a relaxing Sunday flight. However, whilst he was recovering from the unexpected miss, she immediately retaliated.

She hit Riptide in between his wings, forcing him to lose balance and fall a few feet. But he caught his fall and stopped before he touched the ground. He immediately expected Rainbow to follow him though, as was prepared when she charged at him.

Their forelegs interlocked briefly, but Dash knew challenging a pony much bigger than her to an arm wrestle probably wouldn’t end too well for her. She immediately disengaged and used Riptide’s slow reaction times to her advantage, jabbing her hoof into his side. This time, it did cause him to drop onto his hooves.

Dash prepared for another attack, but she miscalculated her landing and put herself within striking distance. Something Riptide wasn’t slow to pickup on. She synchronised the throw of his hoof with her hooves tapping down on the floor, his hoof landing straight into her chest.

“Oof,” Rainbow grunted as she was forced backwards, along with some of the air out of her lungs. She didn’t have much time to catch her breath as Riptide immediately followed up, propelling himself forward using his wings to give himself extra force.

Dash met him head on to stop the advance. This time, being fully prepared for the blow, she took it in her stride (although it did hurt a fair bit). She landed another punch to Riptide’s shoulders, but he shrugged it off and retaliated. He appeared to be aiming for her head, but she moved fast enough that it only just caught her shoulders.

Again, he didn’t leave her any time to think about it as he continued pressing the attack. Dash kept quickly dodging out of the way, slipping backwards after each repeated attack. She was trying to formulate a counter in her head, but the way he kept throwing punches at her never gave her enough of a chance to think about it. She was pushed back so much that she had to fly upwards and do a somersault over him to prevent herself from being pushed out of the arena.

...That though was enough for an idea to pop into her head and begin to take shape. The sweat beading off Riptide showed how much he was throwing himself into the attacks. If she could just line herself up the correct distance away...that’s it!

She moved herself forward and threw a punch at Riptide, not necessarily for effect, but to help him take the bait. After he retaliated in response, she moved quickly to dodge his blows, and moved back a little further than usual. She held her head in place but used her eyes to try and judge her distance to the edge of the arena without looking too obvious what she was doing. She couldn’t really tell without having a proper look, but she gathered it would be enough.

She flared her wings out in sync with Riptide, gathering that he was getting ready to propel himself at her at full force. With a huff, Riptide pushed himself towards her, using his wings to increase his speed. Dash didn’t dare to blink and flung herself far to the right at the very last minute, feeling the edge of his gloves ever so slightly graze her shoulder.

Her hooves tapped back down on the ground and she heard a resounding thump behind her. “Game!” Dahlia’s voice called out behind her. As Dash turned around, she confirmed what had happened. Riptide had managed to fly himself out of the arena, thus handing the victory over to her. He was resting on his stomach, seemingly exhausted.

Dash chuckled to herself in victory as she paced over to Riptide. “So remember what I was saying a minute ago about biting off more than you can chew?”

All she got in response was a frustrated groan from the otherwise lifeless body of Riptide. Dash continued to chuckle to herself as she started pulling the safety gear off herself.

“You made that look easy,” Dahlia commented, taking position for Dash to hand the equipment over to her.

“Guess I’ve got experience,” Dash joked, referring to the many times she and the other Elements of Harmony have been involved in fights that determined the fate of Equestria, “But it’s easy against somepony as predictable as Riptide.”

After Dahlia got herself all suited up, she flew herself into the arena along with some other random mare. Dahlia was quick on her wings, making it easy for her to dart around the other mare as they exchanged blows. Dahlia was flying rings around this mare, but she also didn’t give up easily. They appeared to be of equal strength, but Dahlia managed to get above the mare and force her down. Once she landed on the ground, Dahlia made a quick jab to the side, forcing her to tumble down and lose her footing.

“Yeah!” Dahlia punched the air with her victory. Although her legs immediately flopped down to the ground again after feeling her exhaustion. “Geez, that’s intense for such a short period.”

She was about to exit the arena to let somepony else have a go, but then she saw Torque flying in all geared up. “Oh yeah, I’ve been waiting a while for this,” She said as she reversed back into the arena. Despite how intense her last fight was, she wasn’t gonna give up the chance to go against Torque.

“Don’t expect me to take it easy on you.” Torque commented as he took up position. He didn’t seem particularly bothered about Dahlia’s enthusiasm about attempting to kick his ass.

“Hey, I expect nothing less than your best.” Dahlia retorted, getting herself into position. “Count us in Rainbow.”

Dash stood at the edge of the arena and looked up. “Okay. Three, two, one, fight!”

Dahlia raced towards Torque as soon as the final word rolled off Rainbow Dash’s tongue. Although it confused her that Torque didn’t mirror her action, she didn’t question it and continued, ready to place to drive her hoof right into him.

Moments before impact, Torque’s hoof suddenly shot up to meet Dahlia’s. Dahlia groaned heavily as she felt like she’d just punched a brick wall, but Torque took no notice. He grabbed her hoof and used it as a pivot point to launch himself above her, then used the momentum to deliver a kick in between her wings, sending her to the ground.

Dahlia tried her best to regain control to prevent herself from touching the ground, but it was all happening so fast. She wasn’t expecting this kind of pace from Torque at all. She managed to resync her wings and slow her descent, but before she could even think about the situation, she felt something big and heavy drive into the side of her, forcing the air out of her lungs.

She landed on her left side on the ground, feeling a little confused about what just happened, and short of breath. Torque landed in front of her seconds afterwards. He looked back at her as he started taking his gear off, “Told you I wouldn’t hold back.” He dropped the helmet on the ground where he stood and started taking the rest of it off as he walked.

Dahlia got her bearings and slowly stood up, taking note of all the ponies surrounding them who were looking over at her. Or more specifically, Torque. “What...happened?” She asked Rainbow Dash.

“You completely got your ass handed to you in a matter of seconds,” Rainbow Dash replied somewhat sarcastically.

“Well yeah,” Dahlia rolled her eyes, “But how? It all happened so fast, I didn’t really get a chance to figure anything out.”

“Torque just moved very fast. And I dunno what he’s made out of, but your punch didn’t even make him flinch,” Dash explained, then looked back over at Torque, who had once again, walked away from everypony. However, he appeared to have Rapidfire following him quite eagerly.

“Tough guy huh?” Rapidfire called to him as he approached, “You better hope so, because I’m sure I can find somepony in this group of wannabe Wonderbolts that can give you a run for ya bits.”

Torque didn’t respond to Rapidfire’s words, which only made him ramble at him more.

As much as Dash would’ve enjoyed listening to the choice words Rapidfire had for Torque, she was too busy feeling bad for Bright Skies. The gear was clearly too big for her in the first place, but she was up against a huge stallion.

‘They’re really should be better matching for who goes up against who…’ Dash thought to herself as she watched Bright Skies curl up as soon as the stallion came towards her. She more or less dropped straight to the ground. Good thing Rapidfire was busy, or he might have had some choice words for her too. Something about guts and bravery most likely…

White Comet didn’t fare much better either. Although he didn’t back down at all, it was clear that he’d never had any experience in fighting or martial arts. He was up against somepony that appeared to be of equal build to him, but the pony he was up against appeared to be of much better skill. Whilst Comet put up an admirable fight, he was eventually forced outside of the ring, signalling his defeat.

Dash and her roommates simply waited patiently whilst their other competitors finished their matches against randomly selected opponents. It was more a case of whoever happened to be standing next to them at the time. But as they learned, it led to some very...uneven matches. It seemed like they were going to be matched up against certain ponies next though.

“Geez, looks like we’ve got a lot of work to do…” Rapidfire groaned and rubbed his face as the final pair finished their spar. He looked down at his clipboard, “Take five,” He ordered quickly and sternly, motioning with his hoof whilst his other hoof rubbed his forehead, as if he was about to go into deep thought.

Dash used this time to quickly go to the bathroom. She splashed some water on her face from the sink to freshen herself up, then looked in the mirror. She looked at her surroundings, confirming nopony was in the bathroom with her, then looked at herself. There she was, awesome as usual. But was it intimidating enough? She knew that the Wonderbolts had to be combat ready at all times, but was she really as well cut out for it as some of the other ponies she was competing against? Torque had just showed himself off as if he was made of Iron. He just straight-up lifted his hoof and blocked Dahlia’s strike with all her weight behind it like it was nothing. There was no way that she would be able to do that. Would she be expected to match that?

Knowing that she could only do her best, she left the bathroom and walked back down the corridor promptly. The last thing she wanted was to be late back from the five minutes they were given.

As she turned a corner around the corridor, she almost bumped into something. Although she was more than happy when she saw who she bumped into. “Soari--”

She was cutoff as Soarin put her hoof on her lips. He had a very stern, almost angry looked on his face. “The pony you’re about to fight intends to beat you up to the point where you’re injured so badly that you can’t continue the competition. Feel free to retaliate as you seem necessary. Don’t hold back, and don’t hesitate.”

Before Dash even had a chance to respond, he walked straight past her and continued about his business.

Was...was this a warning? She’d never seen him so focused and intense before. Something had him wound up. However, she didn’t have long to think about it. She had a schedule to keep to.

She arrived back at the gym. Rapidfire had tidied up and rearranged the protective gear, and ponies were starting to arrange themselves in a group around him, awaiting instructions. Rainbow Dash simply merged into the group so that she would be able to hear the instructions. Although she didn’t doubt that she’d be able to hear anyway, Rapidfire had a voice that could be heard in Los Pegasus…

“So, now that we’re all here,” Rapidfire hovered into the air to address his instructions. “I’ve now seen what you all are roughly capable of. Long and short; some of you are almost at our standard. But most of you are disgraceful. So I’ve arranged some sparring partners for all of you based on ability. You’ll be evenly matched with someone, and we’ll go through progressively until we’re through all of you. So I’ll call out some names for each arena, and we’ll get started.”

He flew to the front of each arena and called out the names of the pairs to start off. Thankfully, Rainbow Dash didn’t hear her name in any of these. So it gave her further time to think over Soarin’s advice. Somepony was out to essentially take her out of the competition? He didn’t even mention if it was a mare or a stallion she should be looking out for. Although she could make a few guesses quite easily…

She also noted his final words; ‘Don’t hold back, and don’t hesitate.’ Does this mean she could have free reign over how she handles the situation? She didn’t want to do anything that might compromise her eligibility for the competition. She didn’t want to get sent home for something stupid and out of her control. Not to mention that if she followed Soarin’s advice to the letter, and somepony found out that it was him giving her advice, it would compromise his position too. God this was complicated. What should she do?

Her thoughts were distracted for a moment as she noticed Comet actually seemed to be winning his fight. When matched against an opponent of equal skill, he appeared to just have an endurance edge over them. Whilst they both looked like drippy heaps of sweat from where she was standing, Comet just seemed to have that sheer willpower and determination to push ahead of his opponent. The other stallion eventually gave up, allowing Comet to push him out with ease.

Dash felt like she wanted to clap her hooves, but something told her that it would make her stand out like a sore hoof. She kept it to herself, but made a note to talk to Comet about it later.

Watching Bright Skies, Dash had to try and suppress her laughter. Although the ponies around her failing to do so was making it tough for her. It was like watching a small angry dog trying to fight another small but shy dog.

“Rainbow Dash!” Rapidfire’s voice suddenly called.

Unfortunately it looked like she wouldn’t get enough time to fully take Bright Skies’ situation in, as she was now about to be put up against her opponent. She took the gear off one of the mares leaving the arena that she was about to fight in and started getting herself geared up.

“Thunder Flash!” Rapidfire’s voice confirmed the name of her opponent.

...Oh...her…

Dash quietly sighed and just concentrated on getting ready. Looks like this is what Soarin was trying to warn her about. If it was anything like their last encounter, things were gonna get ugly. But this time, they would also be different. No sneak attacks, no back-alley tricks. Just a good old fashioned straight up hoof fight.

She hovered in her starting position, just as Thunder made her way in as well. She ascended to be level with Dash and their eyes locked. Dash heard the murmurs from the crowd reminiscing about their last encounter, but that didn’t bother her for now. All she had to do was beat Thunder before she beat her.

Thunder held an emotionless face whilst her eyes stared daggers into Dash’s. Dash returned the favour. They both knew what was about to happen, but they didn’t let their faces show it. Dash was more than happy to let her actions do the talking for her.

“Fight!”

As soon as the command allowing them to go was sounded, the two of them wasted no time in piling towards each other. Dash drove her hoof right into Thunder’s chest, with her mirroring the action. Dash hissed in pain as they made contact. She forgot how tough she was, neither of them budging an inch.

Thunder reacted quickly, knocking Dash away which allowed her to wrap her hooves around her shoulders and then simply dropped to the ground, attempting to pull Dash along with her. Dash flapped her wings had and managed to break free of Thunder’s grasp, but Thunder didn’t exactly leave time for Dash to think about it much further than that. She delivered a hoof right into Dash’s chest, making her cough. If it weren’t for the protective gear, Dash was certain she would’ve just thrown up her breakfast.

Dash blocked Thunder’s next blow and countered it with one of her own, landing it on the side of her head. It didn’t seem to faze her though, as she just continued piling on the blows. This style was very similar to what she witness to what Torque used on Dahlia. Torque simply used lightning speed to confuse Dahlia to stop her being able to retaliate effectively. And Dahlia couldn’t think quickly enough to see through it. Dash was a bit smarter than that though…

Dash grabbed Thunder’s attempt at delivering a right blow with her left hoof, but instead of deflecting it away, she pulled it towards her, then aimed her other hoof for her face. The technique worked, delivering a blow to her forehead. Not wanting to leave anytime for Thunder to think about it, she pushed off her body to get Thunder behind and underneath her, then delivered a powerful blow with her hind legs.

Dash wasn’t able to see behind her, but from the “oooh” ‘s the crowd replied with, it sounded like it looked painful. Not only for Thunder, but for her. Every blow she landed felt like punching a brick wall.

Dash spun around quickly to notice that Thunder had already recovered and had climbed rapidly to try and gain an altitude advantage. She also noted the speed she was flying at. For a split-second, she thought about using the same trick she used against Riptide, whereby she tricked him into using his momentum to get him to fly out of the arena and hand victory to her. Something told her that Thunder Flash was a little smarter than that though…

Not given enough time to properly think about the situation, she charged upwards towards Thunder. She didn’t want to try and attack from underneath, as it was common knowledge that a ponies hind legs were stronger than their forelegs. But also being common knowledge, she knew that Thunder would try and use it to her advantage too. She would have to play it by ear.

Dash pumped her wings hard to allow herself enough momentum that she could simply glide up and match Thunder’s altitude. But before she could do anything else, she suddenly heard a whistle blow.

She turned to look in the direction of the whistle. There appeared to be tension between two pegasi, which broke out into a fight, which lead to a commotion of around a dozen ponies getting involved. Rapidfire was trying to break them up, yelling loudly at them.

Suddenly, Dash felt a sharp blow between her wings. It was a harder hit than she’d felt before, it made her yelp as she felt herself falling to the ground. She tried hard to regain control of her fall, but the blow had left her with a pins and needles feeling in her wing. She couldn’t get her wings to flap in sync, but at least she could slow her decent.

She landed on her back with a thud, grunting as she hit the floor. “Shit,” She cursed herself as she realised what landing on her back meant; she lost. Without even thinking, she lifted herself up to a sitting position. Thunder Flash landed in front of her, chuckling as a grin slowly formed on her face. “Now lets make things interesting…” She said as she unfastened one of the gloves.

Dash blinked and shot to her hooves as she understood what Thunder meant. She glanced behind her to take a look. Rapidfire was still trying to get the rest under control. She looked back at Thunder, who was getting all the protective gear off her.

She still had no idea what she did to cause Thunder’s aggression towards her. All she knew what that she was serious. And there didn’t seem to be any quick way out of it this time. She could seek help, but Dash felt like that would be running away. She didn’t do running away. Looks like there was only one way to go.

“Alright Thunder,” Dash started taking her gloves off too, “Let’s settle this.” She said confidently. Although she was still very unsure what ‘this’ was.

Thunder wasted no time in accepting Dash’s invitation and charged towards her, throwing all her weight into a punch and not even giving Dash barely enough time to take her gloves off. Dash knew full-well that Thunder could punch harder than she could block, so instead of trying to block her, she dodged out of the way and locked her forelegs under Thunder’s forelegs. She then kicked off the ground and took flight, lifting Thunder with her.

Thunder held her own weight once she realised what was happening and tried to wrestle herself free of Dash’s grip. Dash suddenly let go and stopped flying, leaving Thunder temporarily confused as she glided upwards through the air. Dash immediately pumped her wings and used the distraction to land a punch on Thunder’s chin.

Thunder grunted, but didn’t let the move phase her. She couldn’t see, but there was definitely blood coming from her lip. She could feel it and had a slight taste of iron in her mouth. She caught up quickly enough to see Dash coming in for another blow. She moved her head out of the way to allow Dash’s hoof to brush past her shoulder, then locked her right foreleg around it and pulled Dash in, whilst going for her wing with her left. She threw her left hoof downwards and landed a blow on Dash’s wing, causing her to yelp rather loudly.

Thunder quickly kicked Dash off with her hind legs, hoping that she would fall to the ground again. But Dash shrugged off the pain and regained control of her flight, charging upwards to meet Thunder again. Thunder instead flew straight upwards, high up to the roof of the gym. Although she didn’t anticipate Dash would catch her so quickly, and only figured that out when she felt something grab her left hind hoof.

Dash used a combination of her upper body strength to both pull herself up and drag Thunder down to her, and her wings to propel herself upwards. They both met at head height and immediately engaged in a grapple. Thunder backed off, but immediately used to the space to land a soft but quick blow to Dash’s head. The confusion allowed her the time to land a more powerful one to her chest. Although luckily, Dash didn’t have the time to take her chest protector off. It was untied and loose, but staying put.

Dash grunted as the air was forced out of her lungs, but she remained strong. This fight was starting to get to her. Both physically and mentally. She was fed up of the constant push and pull that seemed to be going on and on for no rhyme or reason. She wanted to end it, but she wasn’t confident that she’d be the one that came out on top if she started pushing on the offensive…

She noticed that Thunder was starting to sweat a lot, and her breaths were getting deeper and deeper. If nothing else would come of this, at least she knew that she was a better flyer and had much better endurance than Thunder. Something useful to note in the future…

She charged with both her hooves at Thunder, intending to try and pull her into a lock. But to her surprise, Thunder actually pulled her forward when they got within an arms reach of each other. But a split second later, Thunder’s forehead made contact with hers.

Dash wasn’t even sure what to do. All she knew was that the pain was almost unbearable. Everything was telling her to try and take a break or back off. But she knew Thunder would have none of that. She began to feel dizzy, and felt a queasy feeling in her stomach. Her wings allowed her to float backwards, but she only did the bare minimum to catch her fall.

Just as predicted, Thunder appeared straight in front of her as she was only just getting her bearings back. How Thunder seemed to take a hit on her forehead and shrug it off like that, Dash didn’t know.

Dash bought her hooves up to meet Thunder’s, but Thunder’s hooves actually went blow and jabbed Dash in her sides. The pressure was applied just at the right point on her sides to make her muscles contract and close her wings.

Thunder made some quick jabs in her armpits and her chin, then suddenly pulled her hooves away and went for the protective vest Dash was wearing. All whilst following Dash into the fall. She twisted it ninety degrees left then placed her forehooves on Dash’s chest and started pushing.

It didn’t take long for Dash to realize what she was trying to do. She tried to open her wings to stop it, but only her left one would extend. Her right one had been blocked off by Thunder twisting her protective vest. And she was applying pressure on it to stop Dash moving it back out the way.

Dash glanced back and grimaced at the speed she was heading towards the floor. “Thunder wait!” She started flailing, desperately trying anything she could to prevent her from hitting the ground that hard.

Thunder suddenly kicked off Dash with her hind legs, giving her one final propulsion towards the ground.

Dash closed her eyes and held her breath, bringing her hooves together around her...this was gonna hurt...a lot…

She hit the ground with a loud thud, almost bouncing. She held her breath until she came to a complete stop, where she slowly exhaled. “Owwww…” She groaned as she unclipped the protective vest that stopped her opening her wing and breaking her fall. She then spread her wings out and let her limbs go limp to the side of her. “That’s gonna leave a bruise…” She said to herself as she opened her eyes.

She felt something press down on her left wing and some mischievous laughing. She looked and saw Thunder had landed and stepped on her wing. Thunder has a nice line of blood trickling from her lip. She tried to get up, but the combination of Thunder’s weight on her wing and the pain in her back made it difficult.

“Well I have to say, that was the most fun I’ve had here so far,” Thunder started conversing, placing her other forehoof directly in front of her previous one on Dash’s wing. “But I suppose all good things must come to an end…” She looked down at Dash’s wing as she lifted her previous hoof up and took another step forward one hoof in front of the other. “You showed so much potential, Rainbow Dash. It’s a pity that you will unfortunately not complete the trials due to an...unexpected wing injury…” Her final three words put a particularly evil smile on her face.

Dash wasn’t gonna lie, she was scared. But not because of the world of pain Thunder was about to put her in if she was about to do what Dash thought she was doing. Wounds heal. She was scared about the fact that she was about to lose everything she’d worked so hard far...She couldn’t-no...She WOULD NOT allow that to happen.

She started pushing and pulling with every muscle she could find, but it didn’t seem to make any difference. She was still slightly in shock after falling to the ground so hard.

“Fitting really,” Thunder continued, her hoof now at the base of Dash’s wing. “Destroying the dream of the dream destroyer.”

Dash stopped and looked up at her, “What’s that supposed to mean?” She questioned, raising an eyebrow.

Thunder scoffed, “The villain always likes to plead ignorance,” She replied, rolling her eyes. She slowly began to lift her hoof up. “Goodbye, Rainbow Dash. Maybe you’ll have better luck next-OOOF!”

A flash of brown suddenly shot into Dahlia and Dash felt the pressure on her wing immediately relieved. She heard the gasps from the crowd as somepony intervened.She turned her head over to try and see what was happening.

Thunder had been floored next to her...by Torque? Of all ponies, Dash wasn’t expecting him to come to her aid. And he wasn’t holding back either. He was pressing his right foreleg horizontally into Thunder’s throat whilst jabbing her in the stomach with his left hoof...repeatedly…

Dash just laid there, confused by what she was seeing, but happy nonetheless. Although Torque just didn’t want to stop punching. He was like a machine, throwing quick but powerful punches. And Thunder just laid underneath him choking on the spasms her lungs were being forced into by his blows. He showed now intentions of stopping. Did he even intend to?

Mercifully, after a few more seconds, he eventually stopped and released his grip on Thunder’s neck, leaving her lying in a coughing spluttering mess next to Dash. He immediately turned his attention to Dash and exhaled at the same time. “Are you alright?” He asked.

Dash cleared her throat, “Well...I’ll be alright,” She answered. “A little confused, but...I’ll take it.” Looking at Torque, he didn’t seem to have a very welcoming heroic expression on his face that Dash was expecting. He just had his normal expressionless face on.

Torque was about to offer his hoof to Dash, but then he suddenly felt something on his foreleg. “Y-you bastard,” Thunder spluttered between coughs. “You ruined everything!” She started picking herself up using Torque’s leg as leverage, “Next time you butt in like that, you’ll be sorry that you ever--”

Torque suddenly whipped his foreleg away very quickly, causing Thunder to lose balance and fall on her stomach. He then bought all the weight of his hoof crashing down on Thunder’s nose. Dash cringed and could barely keep her eyes open as she heard the crack, also earning some gasps from the crowd.

Thunder hissed in pain and covered her muzzle with both forelegs. But Torque grabbed her by the mane and yanked her upwards, lowering his head at the same time to bring them level so he could look her eye to eye. “You have two hundred and sixteen bones left that can still be broken...don’t make me.” He threatened, letting go of her mane. Her head lowered slightly before she took the weight and looked up at him.

Torque left her be and looked over at Rainbow Dash. Still wearing a monotonous expression on his face, he simply offered his hoof out to her.

Dash wasn’t going to deny the help and took his hoof in hers and used it to pull herself up. She felt a little stiff, but it didn’t feel like anything that wouldn’t heal with time. Besides, these last few days had left her aching similar at the end of the day anyway. This evening would just feel a little more painful, but she would shrug it off.

“Torque…” Dash began, standing up straight. She wasn’t even sure where to begin to start. But the figure of Rapidfire appearing in her field of view immediately drew her attention, and he looked the exact opposite of pleased…

“Happy?” He snapped sarcastically. “Good. You,” He pointed at Torque, “Wait outside. You two go to see the nurse, then wait outside Captain Spitfire’s office.” He ordered, then spun around. “That doesn’t mean the rest of you can slack off! Back to work!” He bellowed, ordering the remainder of the class that wasn’t involved and stomped his hoof.

Torque started walking towards the door. Dash quickly caught up and walked beside him. “Torque...thank you…” She continued what she was trying to say a moment ago. Although she wasn’t really sure what to say. If he hadn’t intervened when he did, Thunder would have broken Dash’s wing...rendering her out of the competition…

“Don’t mention it,” He replied, once again, with a monotone voice and a straight face.

Dash chuffed, “I mean, you didn’t exactly--”

“No, really. I didn’t do it for you. You literally have nothing to thank me for.” Torque shot her down before she could even finish.

“...Oookayy?” Dash replied, raising an eyebrow. This whole scenario already had her very confused, and his responses weren’t exactly helping her. She looked over her shoulder at Thunder, who was cringing as she was trying to get up, earning no sympathy from Rapidfire. Dash couldn’t help but feel a smile creep onto her face. “She won’t be sleeping on her belly for weeks…”

They rounded the corner out of the gym and split off. Dash headed off to see the nurse whilst Torque continued straight to Spitfire’s office. Dash felt like she could walk it off, but nevertheless, Rapidfire ordered her to go and see the nurse. And orders and orders. Besides, she’d broken enough rules for one day…

Her visit to the nurse was very straightforward. As she suspected, she had no suffered any contest-ending injuries. But she was going to have severe bruising in several places on her body. The nurse applied some plasters over some of her cuts and grazes, and gave her some tissue to help stem the flow of blood from her nose. Dash just ended up scrunching it up into a ball and shoving it inside her nose.

She continued to do what she was told and headed straight to Spitfire’s office afterwards, her flight suit slung over her shoulders. As she approached, she noticed that Torque was still standing outside. Had he still not been taken in yet for a formal scolding? As she got closer, she heard the voice of Spitfire already giving that honour to somepony else. It didn’t take her long to deduce who that would be…

She sat down by Torque and sighed. Whilst she was looking at him, he made no attempt to look at her and just continued to stare straight at the wall. Dash copied him for a few moments as she listened to Spitfire’s muffled voice from inside her office.

She glanced to her left then right before looking at Torque, “So why did you do it Torque?” She questioned, the long silence eventually getting to her.

“You’re the Element of Loyalty; you figure it out.” He shot right back.

Dash raised an eyebrow, thinking about it for a minute… “But...I thought you didn’t care that much?”

“No, I don’t. But the Wonderbolts don’t know that.” His answer was quick and concise.

“But then why…” Dash stopped speaking as she started to piece it together in her head. “Oh. You did it just to make yourself look good…” She answered her own question with a sigh.

Torque didn’t acknowledge whether she was right or wrong, but Dash didn’t need any. She knew full well that it was about that. Whilst he played along cordially, he alreadys seemed to know what he needed to do to be one step ahead of the game. She knew that to him, it was just an opportunity that was well seized. But still, she’d seen him warm up to her and their roommates in the past. Whilst he wasn’t showing it, she was certain that it wasn’t the only reason he did it.

Suddenly, the door to Spitfire’s office opened. A very sore and slightly limping Thunder Flash stepped out, not bothering to make eye contact with anypony. She held her head down low and simply walked past the pair of them. Torque didn’t make any attempt to look at her, but Dash did. Although Thunder didn’t looked back.

“You, as you were!” Spitfire stood in the doorway and ordered, pointing at Torque.

“Yes Ma’am!” Torque responded by the book, flying the salute they had practiced time and time again. He walked off, leaving just Dash and Spitfire.

Spitfire pointed with her hoof into her office. Dash didn’t say anything and simply followed Spitfire’s directions.

Spitfire closed the door behind her. “Sit,” She ordered as she made her away around to her desk.

Dash took the seat in front of Spitfire’s desk. Spitfire sat on her chair and rested her forehooves on top of each other, looking straight at Dash in the eyes. Dash wasn’t desperately to look away. She could feel what was about to be said, and she almost felt like Spitfire was deliberately making it more painful.

After a few seconds, Spitfire exhaled and spun around on her chair to look out the window. “Are you hurt?” She asked softly.

“Uh, I-I’m a little bruised, but nothing I can’t shake off.” Dash replied, caught completely off guard by the question.

“So you’ll be able to continue the rest of the trials without a problem?” Spitfire continued.

“Yes Ma’am,” Dash said with a lot of confidence in her answer.

“Good…” Spitfire continued, twisting back around to face Dash. “I got a rough idea of what happened from Rapidfire. You were lucky to have Torque come in to save you, otherwise you might have a broken wing around about now.”

Just as Dash predicted, Spitfire had the exact reaction Torque knew she would have. Which made him look like the hero…

“Yes Ma’am,” Dash replied again, trying to maintain a professional air in her tone.

Spitfire relaxed back in her seat, resting her hoof on a stack of papers on her desk. “A little surprise I’m preparing for one of the final rounds...so long as the ERAF plays ball…” She said nonchalantly. The amount of paperwork surprised Dash. She was obviously planning something fairly substantial...but that was the least of her worries at the minute...

Dash was surprised as how...relaxed she seemed. She didn’t seem angry at all. Had she...had she gotten away with it? No, she couldn't think like that. It was obviously just another test. Spitfire was probably luring her into a false sense of security. She couldn’t fall for it.

Spitfire suddenly leant forward and looked at Dash. “You’ve put me in a difficult position here, Rainbow Dash. I have every piece of evidence and power I need to dismiss you both…”

Dash’s ears folded down and she glanced to the floor, not anticipating that she was going to like what she heard next.

“However,” Spitfire spoke sharply, drawing Dash’s attention and causing her ears to perk up, “There is other evidence for this case that could say otherwise,” She said as she rose from her desk.

“W-what evidence Ma’am?” Dash asked, looking for any escape route she could get at this point.

“And that’s where we hit the crossroads,” Spitfire explained, walking around her desk. “By standard, I could tell you that you have one more chance with Thunder Flash to settle your little ‘disagreements’ without violence. And if that fails, both of you will be out of here. And you could accept that, leave my office and carry on as normal…” Spitfire suddenly looked at her in the eyes again, “Would you take that?”

Dash hesitated slightly at the question, “W-what’s my other option Ma’am?”

“Basically the same thing. Except I could give you some advice. A little bit of a heads up. Something that could help you settle things in a non-violent way.” Spitfire explained.

Dash could see what Spitfire was beginning to get at, but kept a straight face. “What’s the catch, Ma’am?” She asked.

“The catch being the information I would have to give you is highly confidential. If ears that were not meant to hear it heard it, then even I would get in trouble. So what I’m basically saying is, the moment I catch wind of somepony not meant to know knowing about it, you’ll be outta here faster than a sonic rainboom.”

Dash took a moment to process her instructions, then nodded.

“So Rainbow Dash; what’s your choice?” Spitfire asked, getting right up to her face.

Whilst a final warning was a pretty safe and standard bet, Dash knew how Thunder behaved. She didn’t have any reason or rhyme. So chances are, things would just go the same way they have been going. However, with that logic, even with the information that Spitfire was going to give her, there was no guarantee she would listen to her. But Spitfire did say it just needed to be known amongst the ponies that needed to be involved, and no more. Thunder clearly was a pony involved, so if it was just her and Thunder, there theoretically shouldn’t be a problem.

“What do I need to know about Thunder?” Dash asked Spitfire, making her decision.

Spitfire exhaled and slowly walked back to her desk. “Even though I’m already breaking several rules, there’s still several things I’m restricted from telling you. But just to reiterate, none of this leaves this room. This is between you and me. Got it?”

“Yes Ma’am,” Dash replied without hesitation.

“Good,” Spitfire sat down on her chair and leaned onto her desk. “You’ve obviously worked out that Thunder Flash has a grudge against you, and wants you pretty much dead because of it. Whilst I can’t tell you exactly what it is, I can confirm her anger towards you is well-founded. It’s very much something serious and not just some stupid or menial foal tantrum.”

Dash nodded and she took in what Spitfire was saying.

“However, she’s also on the last straw at this point too. So chances are, she might play along if you try to talk it out with her. Not to mention she won’t be wanting to fight back, since Torque’s punches really did do a number on her. I recommend that you use this opportunity you’ve got to settle things quickly and peacefully before I have to do something we both regret.”

Dash once again nodded in understanding, knowing full well what Spitfire’s implications meant. “Yes Ma’am. But I do have one question…”

Spitfire raised an eyebrow as Dash spoke.

“What exactly did I do to hurt her?”

Spitfire’s eyebrows lowered and she blinked slowly. “You didn’t hurt her directly...but...you hurt somepony very close to her. Hence her anger towards you.”

Dash tried her best to process that last bit of information as quickly as she could, but...nothing immediately sprung to mind. Although it was giving her plenty of ideas based on the few pieces of info that Spitfire had given her.

“Do you understand?” Spitfire asked.

“Yes Ma’am,” Dash replied, thinking that she had all the answers she needed. She didn’t know anymore questions to ask anyway.

“Good. As you were,” Spitfire finished by waving her hoof, then looked down at some paperwork on her desk.

Dash quickly saluted, then turned to leave her office. “And Dash?” Spitfire’s voice stopped her just as she was reaching for the door. “Remember, you tell anypony about this, that’s it. Just a reminder.”

Dash nodded without saying a word, then opened the door and walked out, closing it behind her. She quickly changed back into her flight suit in the corridor. Confirming that her nose had stopped bleeding, she discarded the tissue and went back to her training. When she made it to the gym, she noticed that Rapidfire was tutoring ponies individually to help them improve, whilst everypony else was just exercising in general. Upon her return, she was immediately greeted by her roommates.

“Are you alright?” Dahlia asked, trying to resist hugging Dash. “You took such a beating. I’m surprised you can still walk, yet alone fly.”

“Yeah I’m fine,” Dash shrugged off, “You should’ve seen Thunder though.”

“I saw this guy pummel her,” Dahlia replied, laughing as she lightly tapped Torque on the shoulder. “Bitch deserves it for the way she’s treating you.”

“Yeah, what’s up with that anyway Dash? What did Spitfire say?” Comet questioned.

“She didn’t say much, she just said that we were both on our final straw,” Dash answered, shrugging and remembering what Spitfire had told her, “So hopefully, no more fighting.”

“You’re getting the blame despite the fact that Thunder instigates the attack every time? That’s no fair at all…” Bright Skies deduced.

“They’re working it out based on witness reports, so they can’t be a hundred percent sure. So they just share the blame to discourage everypony from doing it again I guess,” Comet deduced the best he could, although he wasn’t quite sure of the process either.

“That...sort of makes sense I guess…” Dahlia replied in agreement, rubbing her chin with her hoof.

“THAT DOESN’T SOUND LIKE TRAINING TO ME! NOW DOUBLE-TIME IT!” Rapidfire’s voice suddenly bellowed, making them flinch and stop their conversation.

Dash immediately took to some free weights to occupy herself and make it look like she was doing what Rapidfire wanted. She had become so used to the exercise rituals of the Wonderbolts, she could almost do it in her sleep. Although it gave her mind time to wander.

She knew that she would have to confront Thunder Flash at some point soon. But how would she even approach the subject? Thunder was going at her like somepony had put a price on her head. Whilst she could attack at any point, she was selective about her opportunities. So it wasn’t mindless...did she have some sort of point to prove?

Nevertheless, as Spitfire said, the injuries she sustained would put her off fighting for a little while. But not substantial enough to cause her to quit. That coupled with the fact that she was also on her last straw meant that she would probably think twice before throwing a punch. Spitfire’s suggestion was a good one, but the opportunity would only be around for a short while. Dash would have to act quickly...

Author's Note:

Well...that certainly was a rollercoaster. :rainbowderp:

Dash has now had a few things clarified...but in a way, it's also made things complicated for her. At least she's got something to base her thoughts on Thunder Flash now. How she goes about dealing with it though is something else though...she's got to act quickly, yet cautiously...

Also, who knew Torque was such a badass? :rainbowdetermined2: Good thing he was there when Rainbow needed him. Otherwise this would've been the final chapter. :rainbowlaugh: He keeps claiming he does it for nopony else but his own benefit, but Rainbow isn't so sure...and I bet none of their other roommates are either. Considering how much they've warmed up to each other over the weeks...

Thanks for reading! :twilightsmile: