• Published 26th Apr 2015
  • 3,439 Views, 283 Comments

Wonderbolt Trials and Tribulations - White Comet

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

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Chapter 20

Dash held her position in the march, systematically landing each hoof with a little bit of extra force as she made her way down the runway. The weather was particularly chilly today, but she wasn’t going to let that make her shiver or shake. She had to maintain her composure. Although she was starting to feel tired from the tests she had today, she was still ready to go. Every ounce of her being told her to just take it for now. She was so close, she couldn’t afford a screw up.

Tomorrow would mark the final day of this stage of the trials. Anypony who passed would proceed to the final stage, where the top three would officially become Wonderbolts. And she was not about to let a little tiredness let her drop that opportunity.

She didn’t know exactly how many pegasi were left, but there was definitely nowhere near as many. Her guess would be somewhere near a hundred, if not less. If they had made it this far, they had obviously proven that they weren’t just a typical pegasus. They had some skills under their wings. Dash had to keep reminding herself that she may not quite have the edge over some of these guys that she liked to think she had before.

“Squad halt!” Rapidfire’s voice boomed as the suddenly came to a stop in front of the HQ runway entrance, a few hooves screeching on the tarmac.

“ATTENTION!” Rapidfire bellowed again.

Dash immediately stood upright into the position of attention. Hooves together, back straight, head up, eyes locked. She froze in the position and held it as if her life depended on it, remaining still until she received another order.

“At ease,” Rapidfire ordered, in a still-loud voice, but at a level that didn’t make everypony’s eardrums rattle.

Dash exhaled slightly and spread her hooves apart to a more comfortable standing position.

“That doesn’t mean fall asleep!” Rapidfire suddenly bellowed again at them.

Dash held her head up and her ears pointed in his direction. Her eyes remained focused on Rapidfire.

He cleared his throat before he spoke. “So, as I’m sure you’re aware, tomorrow is the final day of this stage of the trials. Tomorrow will be a pass or fail situation. Those of you that pass will join us for the final stage, and be competing for the big prize. So from now on, there will be no more training that you will receive from us. It will be all drills and tests from here on out. We’ve given you what we think is the minimum knowledge you require, it’s now up to you to build on those skills. So make sure you’re ready for a trial by fire. Literal fire in some cases. Dismissed.”

Everypony broke formation on Rapidfire’s final word. She sighed and unzipped the head part of her flight suit as she started walking towards the changing rooms.

“Literal fire?” Bright Skies asked as she appeared beside her.

“Nah, they’re probably just trying to scare us I bet,” Riptide replied, appearing alongside and draping his wing over Dahlia, “Although I’ll be there for you when you need saving Dahlly.”

Dahlia shooed his wing away with her own, “In your dreams. I’ll probably be the one saving you.”

Dash chuckled at the exchange. The banter was coming along almost second nature to them now.

She left her flight suit aside in the changing rooms before getting under a shower. She was contemplating skipping the shower, as she was about to go and do some extra training. But she knew she made the right choice as soon as the refreshing feeling of the water washed over her, cleaning her body of the accumulated sweat that’s built up over the course of the day. It may have been cold, but she was working hard.

She took her towel and started walking back to her room. “Dash,” Her name being called behind her in the corridor made her stop and turn.

She saw Thunder Flash not far behind her. It had been weeks since they had their discussion, but she hadn’t really spoken to her since. Apart from the occasional remark. “Hey Thunder, what’s up?” She opened casually, trying to do anything to avoid confrontation at this point. They were on their last warning, and didn’t want to do anything to upset that.

“So, we’ve made it this far it seems,” Thunder began.

“Y-yeah…” Dash agreed, but was confused. Thunder appeared to be...friendly with her?

“If we both make it through to the final stage, we’ll both be directly competing. Whilst I won’t forget the promises we made to each other, I won’t forget the competition, and I won’t hesitate to go against you should I have too.”

“Hey, same here. I expect nothing but your best,” Dash replied with a smile. Whilst she was hoping that it would’ve been a given, Thunder probably just felt it would be best to clarify it before it started. But was wasn’t expecting Thunder to be this...sporting about it. “And I hope your injuries are healed enough to give your best.”

“Eh, after the break, I’ll be fine,” Thunder replied, thumping her chest a few times. “See ya in the sky Dash…” She said and waved as she started walking away.

“See ya…” Dash replied, turning to go back to her room. That conversation was...actually rather polite. Not something she was expecting at all from Thunder Flash. Maybe she really meant that she would try and be friendly back when they made their promises to each other. Maybe she was being genuine. Dash had always presumed that she was faking it.

Only Comet and Torque had beaten her back to their room thus far. She laid her flight suit out on her bed to examine it. But then she managed to remember a key detail Rapidfire told them. “Oh yeah, no more inspections,” She said out loud, throwing her suit up in the air as she remembered.

“Thank God for that,” Comet replied, leaving his over the end of his bed.

Dahlia walked through the door, with Bright Skies and Riptide behind her. “So who’s excited?” Dahlia asked.

“You bet I am,” Bright Skies replied with confidence, “I feel so ready for this.”

“I can tell. You were so timid when we first met, but you sound as confident as anypony now.” Dahlia commented

“Eh,” Bright Skies blushed a little, “Only around you guys. I’m no Rainbow Dash,” She compared, pointing at Dash.

“Heh, I try,” Dash replied with a smile.

“It’s great to see that we’re all confident. Almost makes me sad that I’ll have to beat all of you in the final stage,” Riptide commented, laying down on his bed.

“YOU beat ME?” Dahlia replied, “Is it always opposite day in your head?”

Riptide shrugged, “Never tried role reversal, we can try it sometime babe,” He replied, winking. Causing a few snickers from some of his roommates.

“Sorry, but you walked straight into that one,” Dash commented.

“Yeah, I seem to have a good habit of doing that…” Dahlia replied, scratching her head.

“I guess all we can say is; may the best pegasus win,” Comet added to the conversation, “Although we could still all technically get through the next round.”

“Yeah, that’s something at least,” Dash replied, but Comet’s words also gave her an idea. “I was gonna go to the gym tonight anyway to prepare for tomorrow. How about we all go? See if anypony can keep up with their trash-talk.” She glared at Riptide with a smile, her last comment specifically aimed at him.

“That’s a good shout,” Comet replied, standing up from his bed. “Not exactly much we can teach each other in the collective few weeks we’ve been here for though.”

“Ugh, I just finished training for today though,” Riptide moaned.

“You’ll regret it when you leave tomorrow then,” Dahlia replied.

“Oh come on,” Riptide sat up, seeing everypony bar Torque looking at him. “Ugh, fine. Haven’t I proved that I’m better than you in the times before though?”

“Absolutely not.”

Riptide chuckled and rolled his eyes at the concise answers he got from Comet, Bright Skies, Dash and Dahlia respectively.

“I think a last-minute shakedown just before the big day is a great idea too. Count me in,” Dahlia agreed.

“I consider myself the weakest pony in here, so a comparison would be nice. I’m in,” Bright Skies also agreed.

“How about you, tough guy?” Dahlia directed at Torque, who had remained quiet this whole time.

He just appeared to be laying on his bed, one forehoof behind his head with another supporting the newspaper he was reading. The front cover had something about the political situation in the Griffin Kingdom written on it. “...I guess.” He quietly spoke up.

“All right,” Dahlia punched the air, “Let’s get going. If everypony else is eating, it’s probably dead in the gym. Meaning we can have the place to ourselves and eat later.”

“But I’m hungry…” Riptide whined, reluctantly getting himself up onto his hooves.

“Just think of the even bigger appetite you’ll have afterwards,” Dahlia replied, trotting towards the door, “Besides, it almost sounds like your going back on word that you could beat me. Chickening out?” She teased.

“Alright, alright, I’m coming,” Riptide agreed, walking alongside Dahlia.

Dash chuckled as she followed suit. If anything, the exchanges they had in their room made her more excited for tomorrow.

They walked as a group through the corridors, noticing that everypony else was heading to the canteen for their dinner. Further proving Dahlia’s point. She had it confirmed when they reached the gym and found that nopony was there.

“Wow. When I said nopony will be here, I didn’t think literally…” Dahlia said as they walked in, “It’s almost spooky…”

“Well, what we gonna do to warm up?” Dash asked, stretching her hind legs and loosening her wings by stretching them and flapping a few times.

“I say we do what we like, then meet in fifteen for some contests,” Dahlia suggested, “I’m gonna have a gentle run though. You’re welcome to join me.”

“If we’re having contests, how about a little boxing Torque-O?” Riptide suggested, pretending to punch Torque in the shoulder, “Afraid of these guns?” He added, flexing his muscles besides Torque.

“Pffft,” Torque rolled his eyes and said nothing more. He just continued to walk.

“Oh c’mon,” Riptide moaned, following him, “I promise I’ll go easy on you…”

Dash chuckled as Torque simply continued to walk away, heading towards the door to the pool. As annoying as she found Riptide’s gloating, it was amusing when she saw him harassing somepony else. He didn’t even seem to attempt to respond to Riptide. Chances are Riptide would join him anyway. Whether Torque wanted him too or not.

Her attention was drawn by a tap on her shoulder, making her turn her head and look over at Comet. “Wanna cat and mouse it on the track for a few minutes?”

Dash smirked in response, “Now that’s my kind of warmup!” She replied, opening her wings...although she knew that between him and her, it would probably turn from a simple warm up exercise into a full-blown no holds barred race.

“I know how this is gonna go, so let’s make this simple. We do a couple laps, say, ten, and whoever's in the lead at the finish line wins.” Comet suggested.

“Works for me,” Dash replied, “Now race ya to the track!” She suddenly took flight and bolted it towards the outside facing door of the gym.

“Hey,” Comet replied, hastily following her.

Bright Skies looked around, seeing everypony had already made their own ways. But she saw Dahlia on a gentle jog on one of the treadmills. “...I...guess I’ll go join Dahlia…” She said to herself, not knowing what else to do as she trotted over.

Dash rounded the final corner of the final lap. She knew Comet would practically be chewing on her tail, so she didn’t even try to look back. She just closed her eyes and pumped all she could into her wings.

Her flew in as much of a perfectly straight line as she could and counted down in her head towards the finish line. She didn’t open her eyes, she just wanted to concentrate on flying as fast as she could. She could feel herself flying faster than she would’ve done back weeks ago when she just started. Perhaps all this brutal training was paying off…


She opened her eyes, and the finish line came and went in the bottom of her vision. She had timed it perfectly. “Yeah!” She yelled as she pulled up sharply and looped around. “Better luck next time Comet,” She said as she caught her breath, hovering down to the cloud.

“I don’t...think so…” Comet replied, landing next to her. He sounded way more out of breath than her. “You were fast...to start with...but...now it’s like...you’ve been shot out of a cannon…”

Dash chuckled, “So much for a warmup exercise…” She joked. They both knew exactly how this was gonna turn out before she started anyway. “And I’m pretty sure I won.”

“I beg to differ. I was a hoof in front of you at the finish,” Comet objected.

“No, I swear I was in front of you,” Dash responded. Although she couldn’t exactly prove her point since she had her eyes closed...but…

Comet chuckled, “As you said, so much for a friendly warmup exercise.”

Dash scoffed and shrugged, “Guess we’ll call it a draw for now,” She replied, turning to go back into the gym.

“I guess,” Comet agreed, following her, “But the way you pick up speed is insane though. I’ll admit, it takes all of my strength to keep up.”

“But the way you go through turns is what amazes me,” Dash replied, “You’re like you’re on rails, like a rollercoaster. At that left downwards turn on the fifth lap, you just flew underneath me like it was nothing,” She mimicked the motions with her hooves as she explained it.

As Dash pushed through the door, she noticed Bright Skies and Dahlia just finishing up. She trotted over to meet them, still breathing a little heavier than usual.

“You sound like you got warmed up alright,” Dahlia joked as Dash and Comet approached.

“Yeah, just a little,” Dash jested in response. “Colder in here than it is out there though. Good enough for me.”

As they conversed, the door to the pool room opened and a dead-faced Torque walked out, followed by Riptide. It was funny, Torque didn’t seem to have even kicked up a sweat. Yet Riptide was breathing rather heavily. And Torque seemed to dry off much better than Riptide. Probably because he had a buzz-cut mane compared to Riptide’s, who would probably be tripping over it all the time if it didn’t curl.

As he got closer, he didn’t even appear that wet. And Riptide looked like he was still sort of drip-drying.

“You look fresh. How did you dry yourself that quickly?” Dahlia asked.

“I dried myself,” He responded plainly, in his usual emotionless voice.

Dahlia raised an eyebrow…”Oooo...kayyy…” She didn’t press it too hard, she knew by now that he was a tough one to get multi-word sentences from. “Did you show him the ‘guns’?” She joked at Riptide, noting his breathlessness.

“Yeah, I almost had him,” Riptide replied smoothly before taking another breath. “I’ll give it to him though, he swims like a damn submarine. I’ll let him have that one,” He finished his final sentence giving Torque a tap on the shoulder.

Torque gave a disapproving glance at Riptide then took a step to the side, out of hooves distance.

“So...what first?” Dahlia asked.

“I kinda wanna see how many wing-ups these guys can do after their flying ‘warmup’,” Riptide suggested, pointing with his wing at Comet and Dash. “As many as you can in a minute?”

“Alright, but only if we can see how many pull ups you can do after your swimming ‘warmup’,” Comet replied with a smirk, using the same tone Riptide just used.

“Deal,” Torque interjected without even waiting for Riptide’s opinion. He didn’t look at Riptide, but Riptide’s cheeks puffed out slightly as he held his tongue.

“Let’s do it,” Dash said, lowering herself to the floor and putting her wings to her side.

The others formed a circle on the floor and did the same. “Okay. Three, two, one, go!” Dash counted in, immediately pushing off with her wings.

She was immediately greeted with more resistance than she anticipated. Maybe wearing out her wings on the ‘warmup’ wasn’t such a great idea after all. Although she was able to continue despite the difficulty. Something she was sure she wouldn’t have been able to do back when she first started.

She counted herself as she continued going. Four. Five. Six. And even more surprising, she was able to keep going.

She wasn’t sure if anypony else was keeping track of time as she was, but at least she could remind everypony should she have to. It was weird, there was never any formal training in how to keep track of more than two things at once, but it just seemed to be one of those things she picked up as she went along...must’ve been something they passively taught her, as it most certainly was a skill that would be required.

She counted the final few digits out loud, “Three...two...one…” She strained, letting herself drop onto her belly not long after saying her final word. Everypony else doing the same apart from Torque, who hopped straight back onto his hooves.

She rested for a moment to catch her breath. Whilst she did better than she was expecting, she was still surprised that the race with Comet took so much out of her. “Anypony beat thirty two?” She asked, bringing herself to her hooves.

“Forty Five.” Torque responded plainly.

Dahlia’s mouth was wide open, but she wasn’t sure if it was out of shock of Torque’s answer, or her own breathlessness. “How do you do that?” She gasped as she picked herself up, “I only got twenty nine.”

“Same here,” Riptide added, “I told you he’s like some sort of machine that never stops.”

“Thirty here,” Comet added in his score.

“Umm...nineteen…” Bright Skies reluctantly admitted. Even though that she’d convinced herself that she’d always be the smallest and therefore weakest of the group by now, she was still sort of embarrassed to always come last in most of these types of contests...

Dash looked up at Torque, “How do you even do this? There’s been tons of times I’ve noticed these past few weeks where even when everypony else collapses exhausted, you only just seem to start to break a sweat…”

“Then maybe you should train harder,” Torque shot right back at her.

“Daaaaamn,” Riptide responded before Dash even got a chance, “That’s some fighting words right there.”

Torque immediately looked over at him. “You were saying about the pull ups?” He said sharply, turning around before even waiting for a response from Riptide and began walking towards a wall with some bars suspended on it.

Everypony began to follow him, but Dash was interrupted when a purple wing appeared in front of her. “Have you noticed it?” Dahlia whispered.

“Noticed what?” Dash whispered back, looking over at Dahlia.

“Torque seems a little pissed off about something…” Dahlia suggested.

Dash rolled her eyes, “So? He’s always grumpy,” Dash replied, continuing to walk.

“As in more than usual. I’ve noticed it building up over the past week or two. Something’s definitely up.” Dahlia continued to explain.

Dash gritted her teeth as she held back what she really wanted to say. As much as she agreed with Dahlia, she was pretty sure Torque didn’t want to talk about it. And she’d only recently got on top of one mystery which caused her no end of pain and headaches, she didn’t want to get involved in another. Especially with the final test for stage two approaching. “Okay, so what do you wanna do about it?” Dash asked, stopping again.

“I don’t know, but Riptide seems to be pretty good at getting a response out of him. I know they had history in the past, but Torque never says much about it. And Riptide is...well, y’know, Riptide…”

Dash snickered, “Yeah, I bet Riptide would’ve payed more attention if Torque was a mare.”

Dahlia laughed in response, “Maybe, but something tells me they would’ve got on a lot better...or worse. Anyway, I think we should keep an eye on it. I might even poke Riptide into winding him up…” A mischievous grin crossed her face as she suggested the very idea.

“You do that,” Dash replied, quickly separating herself from the conversation by walking forward quickly again.

When she caught up with the others, Riptide was already attempting to show everypony how it’s done...or not done in some cases. Bright Skies was counting for him, but his shaking forelegs showed that he was struggling.

“Three...two...one...time.” Bright Skies counted him out.

Riptide immediately let go of the bar, dropping down onto his plot with a loud thud.

“Whew,” Riptide wiped the sweat off his forehead with his hoof, “How many was that? Twenty? Thirty?”

“Eight.” Comet responded plainly.

Riptide immediately burst out laughing, “Okay, that’s funny. Really, how many?”

“Eight.” Comet replied again, in the same tone.

Riptide furrowed his brow and pouted, “Y-yeah, well...I’ve just been for a swim. My legs are tired,” he made excuses as he moved out of the way of the pull up bar.

“Right, right…” Dahlia sarcastically agreed, looking over at Torque, “So the same excuse for you then tough guy?”

“Absolutely,” Torque replied, walking over to bar. The emotion in his voice never changed, so nopony was really sure if he was being sarcastic or not. Dahlia just presumed that he was being sarcastic based on the amount of time she knew him by now.

Torque reared up and placed his forehooves over the bar, looking over at Bright Skies and nodding.

“Okay...go!” Bright Skies announced, tapping her right forehoof on the ground for effect.

Torque immediately started pulling, lifting his head up high and over the bar, and gently lowered himself back down...and repeated it again...and again...and again…

“Welp, he already beat you Riptide,” Comet informed with a grin.

“Yeah, well...maybe.” Riptide stammered, causing everypony to laugh.

“I think you need to get back at him, Mr Macho,” Dahlia egged him on, doing fake jabs in the air to emphasize her point.

Riptide smiled, “Oh I will, I’m sure.”

“Geez, and he’s only starting to feel it now…” Dash commented, noticing the faster breaths Torque was taking as well as the beads of sweat forming on his head.

“And he hasn’t got long left either,” Bright Skies added, still counting the time in her head. “Five...four...three...two...one...time.”

Torque gasped for air and dropped from the bar, but landed on his hooves unlike Riptide.

“Twenty two. Almost triple you Riptide,” Comet observed.

“Yeah, yeah...well, it’s one thing to have the strength, but it’s another to know what to do with it,” He quoted a quote that Rapidfire had said to them once during their training, following it up with a few jabs in the air in front of him.

“And you do? Could’ve fooled me…” Torque quickly retorted.

“Ouch,” Riptide fake-winced and put a hoof on his belly, “Low blow bro…”

“I’m just gonna take my turn if you guys are just gonna have a testosterone pissing contest,” Dahlia said bluntly, rolling her eyes taking her place on the bar.

“He started it,” Riptide quickly defended, raising a hoof at Torque. Torque simply huffed and rolled his eyes.

“Anyway,” Bright Skies looked over at Dahlia, “Ready?”

Dahlia nodded in response.

“Alright...go!” Bright Skies replied, tapping her hoof on the ground again.

Dahlia was already using all her strength to try and pull herself up. She kept twisting her hooves to try and get the best leverage over her body as she could. She was able to manage a couple, but she knew that she was doing nowhere near as good as Torque was. “T-this is harder...than I recall,” she said through breaths, letting her body fall to the length of her forelegs after completing another.

Riptide chuckled, “I’ve heard somewhere that mares do have less fore-body strength than stallions.”

“Wanna test that theory?” Dash quickly asked, raising an eyebrow at him.

A smug grin quickly formed on Riptide’s face, “Well, if you’re offering so kindly to show me your strength...you can try to pin me…preferably on a soft surface…” He suggested, repeatedly raising his eyebrows suggestively.

“Yeah, let me think. How about in your dreams?” Dash retorted.

“But you’re already in those…” Riptide replied.

“Eww, didn’t wanna know,” Dash cringed and facehoofed, feeling the temperature in her cheeks rising. She really didn’t need to know that she was in one of Riptide’s fantasies inside his head. She quickly tried to think of something to distract her of the fact. “But a hoof-wrestle, I could do.”

“Alright, you’re on,” Dash replied, extending her hoof for a hoofbump. Riptide quickly tapped his hoof against hers to seal the deal.

“Time!” Bright Skies called, signalling the end of Dahlia’s minute of pull ups.

Dahlia dropped down onto her hooves, shaking as she landed and gasping for breath. She looked like she was about to turn into a puddle of jelly. But she still managed to barely walk away.

“Eleven,” Comet declared.

“Alright...I beat Riptide…” She said between gasps for breath, raising her forelegs high in the air and almost let herself fall over.

“Only just…” Riptide commented, sitting down and crossing his forelegs.

“I put everything into that...just to beat you…” Dahlia replied, just starting to get her breath back, but losing it again through a few chuckles.

“Guess I’ll give it a shot then,” Dash said, taking up position on the bar. She wiped off a bit of the sweat left behind by Dahlia first, then gripped it. “Ready when you are Skies.”

“Alright...Go!” She instructed, tapping her hoof on the floor as usual.

Dash almost opened her wings out of instinct, but managed to remind herself just in time that it would be cheating if she used her wings. She went for the first one and found it...surprisingly easy...she was definitely stronger than she once was. Maybe she should check herself out in the mirror soon...or get Soarin to do it for her…

Okay, maybe she overestimated her ability a little bit. Each pull took a bit more out of her. She didn’t realise how much effort each one required. She wasn’t keeping count, but she was definitely feeling like she was doing well. She just closed her eyes and soldiered on.

“Three...two...one...time.” Bright Skies counted her down as she did for everypony else.

Dash dropped from the bar onto her hooves. As hard as it got towards the end, she actually found it fairly easy. She felt like she could’ve gone for more. Nevertheless, her minute was up.

“Sixteen. Pretty good,” Comet told her.

“Thanks,” Dash replied, turning to him, “Now it’s your turn. I’ll count.”

Comet smirked and nodded, taking his step up towards the bar and placing his hooves up on it.

“Okay, ready?” Bright Skies asked, getting a nod from Comet in response. “Alright...go!” She said, tapping her hoof.

Like Dash, Comet seemed to be doing alright in the beginning, but his performance seemed to drop off a lot quicker than Dash. But he soldiered on, fighting as much as he could. Fore-body strength clearly wasn’t his strong point. His wings flared out at one point, but he almost instantly retracted them. Almost as if he had the same instincts to fly as Dash had, but that would be cheating.

“Three...two...one...time.” Skies counted him down.

He dropped to his hooves and immediately lowered himself down to sit, wiping the sweat off his forehead as he caught his breath.

“Twelve. Not bad,” Dash told him.

“Yeah, but not as much as you,” He added with a smile.

“Heh, not quite. But I guess you make it up by being…” Dash paused, thinking about her choice of words, “...Just as good a flyer as me.”

“Gee, thanks for the compliment,” Comet replied sarcastically, earning a chuckle from the pair of them.

“Um, I guess it’s...my turn now…” Skies said quietly.

Dash looked over at Bright Skies then up at the bar. The problem was obvious. She was simply too short to be able to reach it. And it didn’t look like it raised and lowered depending on the height of the pony using it.

“Uhh…” Dahlia tapped her chin, looking around for something that Skies could step onto.

“Don’t worry,” Skies replied, stepping up to the bar. Instead, she simply flew up to the bar and let herself dangle from her forelegs once she got a grip.

“Okay, go!” Dahlia said quickly, not wanting Skies to wait in that position for too long. It didn’t look very comfortable, and she wanted to make sure she had a fair chance.

Dash did her best to keep a straight face watching her, but it was...very painful to watch, to say the least. There was no denying that Bright Skies would be the weakest one, as she was the smallest and skinniest. She was really struggling. But it didn’t stop Dahlia cheering her on and trying to give her some support, which egged Dash on to do the same. It was unclear how much it helped, but they really hoped it did…

“Three...two...one...time.” Dahlia called.

Bright Skies let go of the bar and caught herself with her wings, using them to hover herself down to the floor and proceeded to collapse in exhaustion on it. “I hate those things…” She said through gasps for breath.

“Well, you managed to do six. Which isn’t much off Riptide when you think about it…” Dahlia suggested, trying to throw a positive twist on the fact she got the lowest score.

“I guess…” Bright Skies replied, pulling herself away and over.

“Well, I guess you win Torque. Although that was easily predictable…”

Torque shrugged, “It was fine I guess...although…” He looked over at Riptide, “I’ve just been for a swim. My legs are tired.” He repeated the exact words that Riptide had used earlier. Except in his usual plain, blunt voice.

Riptide’s cheeks puffed out at the obvious statement about the vast difference between the two of them, besides being under the same circumstance. “Y-yeah, well...me and Dash are gonna do some hoof wrestling. I’ll beat you at that for sure!” He said surprisingly confidently.

“Very well,” He said simply before starting to walk, “I suppose a bench will do.” He pointed to what he meant then trotted in that direction, everypony else following.

They went over to a bench over by some free weights. Obviously normally used for the users of the weights. But when they sat on the floor, it was the perfect height for them to hoof wrestle on.

“Well, are you gonna put up or shut up Riptide?” Dash asked, resting her foreleg on the bench in a ready position.

“Ha, you have no chance Dash,” Riptide replied with a smug smirk, sitting on the opposite end of the bench and locking his hoof on hers. “Count us in will you Dahlly?”

“Alright, ready...go!” Dahlia announced, tapping her hoof on the bench to help signify it.

Unexpectedly, Dash encountered a lot less resistance than she expected when she put pressure on Riptide’s hoof. It didn’t take her long to push him onto the defensive. But for some reason, whenever she got to the last few degrees she needed to lower his hoof by, he suddenly found strength from somewhere. She tried again, but the same thing happened. It was like some sudden burst of strength from him that then vanished as fast as it came. Riptide must have had some sort of trick or technique for it to stop him being able to lose.

Still, it didn’t mean she was out. They both had limited endurance, and given the fact they’ve just done a few pull ups each, both of them were struggling somewhat. She pushed as hard as she could with just her foreleg and eventually, Riptide’s hoof gave way.

“Yeah!” She yelled, punching the air with her other hoof and taking flight with a quick burst of her wings, doing a few twirls as she found her way back down to the ground. As she landed, she made eye contact with Riptide and pointed her wing at him, bending all her feathers bar her middle ones. “So mares have less fore-body strength than stallions eh?”

“T-That was just a fluke. My legs are still tired from the swimming and pull ups,” Riptide pulled the same excuse out again, chuckling slightly as he finished his sentence.

“Then we both have the same handicap then,” Torque added his observation, taking a seat opposite Riptide and laying his foreleg on the bench.

“Y-yeah, just...gimme a minute…” He replied, rolling his shoulder around, “Need to just get my strength back.”

“Then I’ll take that offer whilst you wait,” Comet added in, walking into Riptide’s seat. Riptide shimmied out of the way for Comet to take up his position. They locked hooves and no other words needed to be spoken, other than Dahlia counting them in.

“And...Go!” She tapped the bench again for effect.

To absolutely nopony’s surprise, Comet was down and out within seconds. His hoof tapped down and he sighed as he stopped straining to fight back against Torque. “Damn, you’ve got some incredible muscles,” Comet commented, moving out of the way and gave Riptide a pat on the back. “Good luck,” He simply said, pushing Torque forward.

Torque simply replaced his hoof in the starting position and waited for Riptide. Riptide bought his hoof up, but was interrupted when a loud gurgling came from his stomach. He looked down at his belly, then back at Torque. “Let’s make this a quick victory,” He said with an overly-smug face, “I’m starving. Dhally, do the honours.”

“Okay. And...Go!” She said, tapping the bench.

Riptide managed to put up a slightly more impressive fight than Comet did...but the results were still the same. In less than half a minute, his hoof was on the bench.

He simply grunted in frustration, “Can we go get dinner now?” He asked, standing up. “I bet we’ve missed all the good stuff. And it’ll be cold.”

“One more, I’m curious of something,” Dahlia replied, stepping round to his side of the bench. “Skies, you go up against Riptide.”

“M-me?” Bright Skies stammered. She sat down in front of Torque. “But there’s no way I can--”

“Now, you two lock hooves,” Dahlia interrupted, taking a seat besides Dahlia.

Torque and Bright Skies put their hooves together, but then Dahlia put her hoof on the back of Bright Skies’. “Now lets see if this evens the playing field.”

Torque nodded, “Let’s do it. Count us in Rainbow Dash,” He requested.

“Alright, three, two, one, go!” Dash counted, tapping her hoof on the bench like Dahlia did.

Dash honestly thought that Torque would still hold an advantage over the two of them, even with the advantage. But to her surprise, it seemed rather even. They remained in the middle for several minutes, with neither side budging.

“Alright, guess I need to help give an advantage,” Dash said, leaning in next to Dahlia and placing her hoof on the back of hers. She wasn’t sure if the tower would be able to maintain a steady grip, so she pushed gently at first. But that’s all they needed.

Torque’s hoof slowly started to twist away, gritting his teeth as he tried his best to maintain his defence. Whatever trick or technique Riptide had used to give him sudden bursts of strength to stop his hoof tapping the bench, Torque appeared to be doing the same thing. Dash realised that it wouldn’t simply be the case of adding her strength.

It took several minutes, but Torque’s hoof eventually gave way and tapped down on the bench. “All right!” Dahlia held her hooves up to Dash and Bright Skies, which they responded by tapping then tapped their hooves between each other.

“Heh. Well done,” Torque simply congratulated.

“It doesn’t hurt to show a little emotion once in a while ya know,” Dahlia retorted at him, “But thanks.”

“Hmm,” He groaned to himself as he stood up.

“Great. Now can we get dinner?” Riptide asked.

“I wanted to do a little more, but...I guess it can wait till later…” Dash suggested. She agreed with Riptide on one thing though; she was starving.

“Yeah, I suppose,” Dahlia agreed also, standing up. “Let’s go eat.”

They started walking as a group towards the gym door to walk out, turning down the corridor to go towards the canteen.

“Well, I thought I did pretty good,” Riptide did his normal gloating. “I mean, considering the circumstances…”

Everypony simply sighed and rolled their eyes...all apart from Torque.

“Sub-par,” Torque suddenly answered.

“What?” Riptide asked, looking over at him.

“Mediocre,” Torque downgraded his previous rating.

“Wow, way to hit the team moral there,” Torque replied sarcastically, “I think I did alright.”

“Well I think you did poorly,” Torque replied, slowing his pace a little.

“Ouch, you’re really going below the belt today aren’t you?” Riptide replied, slowing to match Torque’s pace. “And what, you think you did amazing did you?”

“Compared to you, yes.” Torque replied again, his answer causing a few snickers from his roommates in front.

“Haha, funny. I guess if that helps you feel good, then go for it,” Riptide replied, again sounding sort of sarcastic, but it was obvious there was a hint of irritation coming through in his voice.

“That’s hypocritical, considering that’s what you do on a daily basis,” Torque retorted, stopping in his tracks. “The only difference is I have actually accomplished something when I’ve said it.”

Riptide suddenly stopped and turned to face directly at Torque. “Oh that’s it. You wanna go, tough guy?” He marched over to Torque, “Got something to prove? I can’t help it if I’m simply better than you at every--”

“OH SHUT UP!” Torque suddenly yelled loudly, causing everypony to flinch and spin around to see what’s going on behind them.

Torque grabbed one of Riptide’s forelegs and yanked him forward, then pushed himself forward with his rear legs. Their foreheads collided in midair, causing Riptide to fall to the floor, but seemingly the very thing that Torque wanted.

Torque stood over Riptide’s body, his hooves holding him down by the shoulders, and leaned into his face. “You prance around acting like you’re automatically better than everypony else, despite being proven time and time again that you’re not! And even when somepony goes out of your way to help you, you’ve got your head so far up your own ass that you don’t even listen! You shouldn’t even be here, you didn’t meet the standard in phase one. But when mommy and daddy requested that their ‘precious little colt’ ” -he ruffled his mane like a mother would to her child- “be allowed another chance with a few cheques attached, here you are!”

He took a quick breather from his yelling. He looked over at his roommates briefly, who were looking at the two of them in a state of shock, then back down at Riptide, who had a similar look on his face. Torque continued his glare, feeling his eyes becoming misty and grinding his teeth.

“There are ponies here who have worked themselves to the bone every day their whole lives for this opportunity! And you don’t even care about the Wonderbolts! You’re just looking for another title to aid you on your never-ending quest to get your dick wet! Or do Mommy and Daddy think you’re so worthless that sending you here keeps you out of their manes for a few weeks!?”

Torque took another pause, but didn’t shift his glare from Riptide. Riptide’s mouth was partially ajar, as if he wanted to say something, but the words just couldn’t come out of his mouth. He didn’t dare blink, Torque was almost nose-to-nose with him. And his aggressive breaths weren’t helping him think.

Torque huffed, “Not even a response. Pathetic,” he stood up and took his hooves off Riptide’s shoulders. “You don’t have the skills nor desire to be a Wonderbolt, and you don’t even appreciate their history and respect what they stand for. You’re just after self-gratification and a title that comes with a free sex card. You’re nothing more than a naive, apathetic, selfish, egotistical, lazy, careless little colt who doesn’t even know he’s born!”

Torque stepped off Riptide and turned, facing the opposite direction which they were just walking. But he didn’t walk away immediately. He sighed and looked behind him and down at Riptide, who was still lying on his back. “And if any of us were born with even half the length of the silver spoon you’ve got shoved so far up your ass, we’d all be doing much better than you…” He spoke his final words, walking away from everypony.

Dash didn’t know how to react to the whole situation. She just remained focused on Torque walking away, with her jaw hanging ajar. Well, Dahlia was right about one thing; Torque was upset about something. Although his attack on Riptide made it seem like he was the problem, it didn’t seem that simple.

She looked down at Riptide, who also seemed to still be in shock himself. Dash didn’t blame him, everypony thought it pretty much came out of the blue. He bought himself up onto his plot, sitting upright and rubbing his eyes and face.

“R-Riptide?” Dahlia spoke up, gently walking towards him, “Are you okay?” She asked.

“Y-yeah,” Riptide hesitantly replied, his face starting to turn slightly pale. “I-I’m...I’m fine…” He added, walking forwards whilst rubbing his forehead and ignoring Dahlia.

He just walked past everypony without making eye contact. Dash still simply remained in place and watched him walk on, still trying to process everything that just happened.

“Anypony else confused?” Dahlia stated the obvious, walking back towards the group.

“I don’t know what to say…” Bright Skies replied, “Although...the stuff he said...wasn’t necessarily wrong…” She deduced.

“Yeah, but...kinda harsh for criticism don’t you think?” Dahlia added, “You guys go check on Riptide, I’m gonna find Torque.” She asked, turning to head the way Torque went.

“I could come with you?” Bright Skies suggested.

Dahlia shook her head, “I doubt he’ll be happy just to see me, yet alone a lot of us. Best I go talk to him on my own. He might be more willing to talk and clear some things up,” She explained, then began to walk down the corridor back in the direction Torque went.

“Okay...I guess we just...carry on?” Comet suggested, looking back down the opposite direction of the corridor.

“I guess,” Dash replied in agreement, beginning to walk in that direction herself. She had no clue what that was about, but Dahlia seemed to be onto something. Maybe it would be better just to let her see if she could figure it out herself.

The three of them made their way down to the canteen, hoping that Riptide would’ve gone that way too…

Dahlia walked at a quickened pace, hoping to find some trace of where Torque might have got to. She checked their room, but it was empty. He could’ve gone anywhere. Maybe someone saw where he went? No, everypony was eating. Although he was shouting so loud, they probably heard him from the canteen.

She continued to walk back down towards the front of the HQ building. Not really too sure where to look. She checked the obvious places, like the gym. She even checked the stallions bathrooms, seeing as nopony was there at that end of the building at the minute to catch her. But he was nowhere to be found.

She made her way over to the entrance, but still didn’t find him. But her eyes locked with the eyes of the receptionist mare. “Are you looking for that fella that left here in a hurry?” She asked.

Dahlia nodded quickly, “Yeah I am,” she replied.

She pointed her hoof up at the door, “He ran out that way in quite a--”

Dahlia wasted no time in hearing the full story, quickly moving towards the door. “Thanks,” she called as she neared it.

She pushed through the door and looked around...Nothing. Cloudsdale was off in the distance, and the view stretched as far as the horizon. One thing she did notice was the abundance of clouds this evening. Chances are he could be perched on one of those. It would make a good place for some alone time. Plus, since she saw all of his stuff still in their room, it’s unlikely that he had left for good.

She opened her wings and took flight into the sky, flying directly vertical. As she flew, she took note of how chilly it was getting, seeing as the sun was on its way down.

Hovering at a moderate height in the sky, she quickly glanced over the clouds. His brown fur against a white cloud should be fairly easy to spot, but she wasn’t having any luck. Although there was still clouds above her.

She continued flying upwards, looking around her as she did to check the clouds. She wanted to fly above all the clouds to give herself the best view. However, out of the corner of her eye, she caught a hint of brown spread at the top of a cloud as she continued to climb. She paused her climb and hovered to confirm that it was Torque. He was perched atop the cloud, resting on his belly, head on his forehooves.

Dahlia slowly flew towards him, knowing that it was pointless trying to sneak up on him. As she approached, their eyes locked, but Torque didn’t seem that bothered about it. “Hey,” Dahlia opened.

Torque huffed and turned his head over to face the other way.

Dahlia suppressed a sigh and perched herself to the right of him on the cloud. She wasn’t going to take no for an answer, but he didn’t offer any resistance to her anyway…

Dahlia looked at him for a while, but he wouldn’t turn his head back around to see her. Her mouth opened a few times, but she just didn’t know how to start the conversation. But suddenly, an idea popped into her head, making her smirk. “You really laid down the facts with him there. A little funny in a way…” She said, trying to start the conversation on a positive.

“He always been getting on my nerves. It’s about time somepony told him…” Torque replied softly.

“You ain’t the only one sweetie. But he seemed to tick you off particularly. Wanna talk about it?”

A short silence followed before Torque sighed, pushing himself up onto his plot into a sitting position. “It’s just the way he takes everything he has for granted. It...really hits home for me…” He explained, a slight glisten in his eyes from his tears.

“Why’s that?” Dahlia asked.

“Well…” Torque sighed, “It’s a long story…”

“And I’m here to listen,” Dahlia reassured him with a smile.

Torque finally looked in her direction, looking her in the eyes.

Dahlia nodded and smiled back, “This is what friends are for,” She emphasized, putting a forehoof on one of his.

Torque smiled at her, but differently...this one seemed more genuine that his regular stoic or slightly smug expression he normally wore. “Well...you probably gathered that I tried to join the Airship Force like my father right?”

Dahlia nodded, recalling if he ever talked about it. But after she saw his Dad, it was obvious he may have tried. But the more she thought about it...Torque never talked about himself. Was he opening up to her?

“Well, I’m not sure if you know your REAF history but my Dad is--”

“Admiral Swift Sprint, Chief Marshal. I’ve heard about him. I doubt you’d get away with stealing a prototype airship nowadays.” Dahlia explained, chuckling at the end. Torque chuckled along with her, which amazed her even more...he was laughing...he seemed happy. Maybe he just really needed somepony to talk to?

“Yeah...so I’ve always wanted to join the REAF like my Dad. And so I actually went through it and did, for quite a while, but…” He sighed again, his expression turned grim.“It’s so tough being in the shadow of somepony so great. Everypony expects great things for me, and at the same time, my own Dad expects me to EXCEED him. To top it all off, he never cuts me any slack or does me any favours. In fact, I’m pretty sure he deliberately makes it more difficult for me sometimes.”

Dahlia’s expression on her face finally dropped as the gloomy atmosphere clouded them. She noticed the tears beginning to bead down from his face.

“All the pressures and expectations made me give up on the REAF and tried to find a normal life. I decided I wanted to try and be an engineer of some sort, but Dad went crazy when I told him. He told me I was giving up too easily, and said I’d failed to live up to his expectations. Told me I was a failure, a dissapointment.”

Dahlia’s heart sank as he continued to tell the story. But at the same time, she was starting to piece together what was going on. Riptide not only had parents that were willing to support him in whatever he did, but they were multi-millionaires and didn’t seem to mind sharing their wealth with him. A stark contrast to Torque, who sounded like he didn’t get such privileges. And Riptide didn’t seem to have any reservations about shoving it in everypony’s face. No wonder Torque got so hacked off with him.

“This opportunity to become a Wonderbolt appeared. It wasn’t top of my list, but it was definitely something that would keep my Dad happy. I took the opportunity and came here, hoping I could make something of it. I’m not gonna lie, in some of the tests and training, I could’ve done better...but part of me deliberately didn’t do well. Part of me wanted to fail. I think that if I do badly enough, then I might just close off the doors until I only have one path left to take...my path. When I failed back in the first attempt, I thought that would be it...but then my Dad managed to use his influence to have me reinstated... “

“Well that clears up that mystery. I’ve been wondering how you managed to get back here,” Dahlia replied.

“But...now I don’t know what to do…” Torque finished by looking down, feeling a lump in his throat and watching the droplets fall from his eyes onto the cloud below.

The view in his vision was suddenly replaced by something pink. He looked to his right to see that Dahlia had rested her body against his, wrapping her forelegs around him. “Wh...what are you doing?”

“I’m giving you a hug,” Dahlia explained plainly, “You sound like you need one.”

“Errr…” His ears flopped down and he felt a fire ignite in his cheeks.

“You can hug me back too ya know,” Dahlia offered.

“Y-yeah,” He quickly wrapped his forelegs around Dahlia in the same fashion she was doing with him. “S-sorry...I haven’t hugged anypony for a while…”

“Then you can hug me all you want,” Dahlia replied with a smile. “Besides, you’re nice and warm. I’m not letting go even if you demand me to.”

Torque chuffed and rested his head on her shoulder, rubbing his head against her soft fur. He couldn’t put his hoof on it, but somehow he found it...soothing. Comforting. He actually felt somewhat relaxed. So much so that he didn’t want to say anything else, he simply wanted to savour the moment. He sniffled a few times and swallowed, trying to supress the lump in his throat.

“There’s no shame in crying Torque. Cry if you want to…” She comforted, feeling like he wanted to.

She heard a few stifled sobs and felt him grip her tighter. She felt a slight wetness on her shoulder. "That's it..." She moved one of her hooves up to run through his mane. She let him take a few moments to let it out. It sounded like he really needed to. But it didn't take long for him to begin calming down.

Dahlia remained still for a few moments, letting him hold her. The silence let her take in her other senses, feeling his heatbeat on the side of her head. Whilst she was enjoying it, she was sort of expecting him to continue the conversation. But he didn’t seem to be. It appeared as if it was up to here to continue. “Ya know, I can kind of relate to how you feel,” she spoke, but didn’t move an inch. “My Mom always wanted me to take over her shop and garden. It’s always been at the back of my mind that I’m disappointing her by doing something different…”

“So what made you make your decision to come here then?” Torque asked.

“Well, I talked it over with Dad, and he told me that the shop wasn’t going anywhere, so I should at least try. So here I am,” She pulled her head back and up to look at Torque. “I think what he meant was that we shouldn’t spend our lives wondering ‘what if’s’ when it doesn’t bar you from something else. There’s a lot of possibilities; I could become a Wonderbolt and take Mom’s place when I retire, I could only make the reserves and be a Wonderbolt part time. Hell, I might not even become a Wonderbolt at all. I could fail. But at least I’ve still got something to look forward to if that happens.”

Torque was beginning to see where she was going with this. “So...what do you think I should do?”

Dahlia glanced down at the cloud floor for a moment, then looked back up with a smile. “I think you’re a very...strong, tough, smart pony…” She placed his hoof on his cheek, gently turning it to make eye contact. She suppressed a giggle as his face lit up like a Hearth’s Warming tree. “I watched you continue flying when everypony else was exhausted, beat up Thunder Flash like it was nothing, and perfect everything down to a T. You could do absolutely anything you want to Torque. And you’ve got the sheer willpower to soldier on and do it. And if somepony tells you not to do it, ignore them. It’s your life, not theirs. And if they completely give up on you because of it, prove them wrong.”

Dahlia saw her words getting through as Torque’s smile grew, and he looked up at the darkening sky.

“So what’cha gonna do? Stay here, or try again and stick it to your old stallion?” Dahlia asked.

Torque held his smile for a few more moments, but it slowly faded into a frown. “I...don’t know. I guess I’ll have to think about it.”

“Of course. But don’t think about it too hard, it’s gotta come from here,” Dahlia replied, putting her hoof on his chest.

She didn’t get an answer back from Torque. His gaze into the distance confirmed that he was off in the world of his own, thinking over everything they’ve just been talking about. As much as she told him to go with his heart, she didn’t know what was really going on inside his head. It may be a more difficult decision that it appears to be on the outskirts…

“I guess you just need some time to think about it. Don’t think about it too long though, you really worried everypony with your outburst. Riptide looks like he’s scene a ghost though, it’s pretty funny actually.” She slipped her hind legs over the edge of the cloud, getting ready to drop off.

“Y-yeah, sure...hey, Dahlia?”

“Hm?” She looked over her shoulder at his enquiry.

Torque sighed, but the smile on his face said he looked relieved. “I guess I just needed somepony to talk to and help to guide me. I’ve tried to open up before on a few occasions, but nopony really seems to understand me. And even though you sort of do, our situations are vastly different. But even then, you manage to speak to me on my level and persuade me otherwise.”

“Hey, my door is always open,” Dahlia replied, winking and spreading her wings.

“And one other thing,” Torque quickly shimmied over closer to her. “I...don’t want to sound weird or anything, but…” He looked away and scratched the back of his head. At the same time, he slid his wing underneath Dahlia’s and pulled her towards him. “Thanks for the hug. I didn’t realise how much I needed that either. I know it sounds stupid, but...I haven’t had a hug like that since Mom left…”

“Oh…” Dahlia realised what he was implying, returning his embrace. “I’m sorry to hear that...is she...like, gone-gone or…”

“Oh no no no, she’s not dead,” Torque quickly reassured, a half-smile on his face. “Mom and Dad...just haven’t been together for a while…”

“Oh. Well, better than what I was going for... but still, that’s terrible…” She wrapped her forelegs around Torque again and squeezed him tight, “But you’re always welcome to hug me whenever you want.”

Torque smiled, “Thank you...I really appreciate that.”

“Really anytime,” Dahlia replied, moving away again as he let go. “As I said, I’ll give you some time to think it over. Come find us later,” She said before finally dropping off the cloud and hovering in place with her wings.

“Sure,” Torque replied as she set off back into the HQ building.

Torque looked up at the stars and went back to his deep thoughts. Dahlia had made him feel good...really good in fact. He felt like all the answers were slowly coming to him. Although it wasn’t all good news. It now meant he had to make a choice. Did he want to stay and at least try to become a Wonderbolt? Or did he want to resume his original goal and ‘stick it to his old stallion’ like Dahlia said?

As tempting as the first idea sounded...he had made some good friends here. Friends that he definitely didn’t want to give up. What should he do?

He sighed as he came to an answer. An answer that he didn’t like, but he knew it was correct. As Dahlia said, the decision had to come from his heart. “I know what I have to do…” He said to himself as he spread his wings and slowly took flight back down towards the HQ building. “But it doesn’t mean I have to like it…”

Torque stirred as he felt himself wake up. His eyes were welded shut, but he slowly convinced them to open by blinking repeatedly until he could keep them open. It was pitch black in the room, but he could vaguely make out the silhouettes of objects thanks to the fact he’d had his eyes closed for a couple of hours.

His urgent need to use the bathroom proved that his strategy for waking himself up during the night without waking anypony else up by drinking a lot had worked. He raised his head, trying to work out if anypony else might spot him. Riptide’s snoring definitely ruled him out of the question though.

He slowly sat himself up, trying his best not to make a sound. He lowered himself onto the tips of his hooves. He glanced over his shoulders once again before putting his jacket on and pulling his saddle bags he’d packed earlier over his shoulders with his wing.

Feeling ready to go, he walked over to the end of his bed. Once again, he looked over everypony, making sure no one was awake to spot him. But then his eyes landed on a certain pink-purple Pegasus…

Every logical part of his being was telling him to just get going. But he couldn’t stop his heart making him tip-hoof towards the edge of Dahlia’s bed.

He stopped by her bed, and watched her for a moment. Sleeping peacefully, her chest rising and falling gracefully and in rhythm with each breath she took. She had one hoof under her pillow.

Torque looked down and closed his eyes, doing his best to suppress a sigh. “I’m sorry…” He mouthed, deliberately not wanting to speak to make sure he didn’t wake anypony.

He reached into a pocket in his jacket with his wing and pulled out a piece of paper. He placed it by the side of her, slightly under the duvet, which was resting around her barrel. He then creeped his hooves under the duvet and gently lifted it, pulling it up over the paper and resting the duvet just above her shoulders.

He ears folded back as he contemplated his next move. Luckily it was too dark to make out his burning red face. He gently leaned in and gave her the lightest, quickest kiss on her cheek he could muster. “Thank you...for everything.” He mouthed his final words before turning around.

He tip-hooved towards the door and used every ounce of his patience to open it as slowly as he physically could to eliminate the chance of it squeaking. Once he stepped out, he held the handle down so he could close it again without the latch making a click.

The hard part out the way, he slowly trotted down the hallway as he thought about his next step...

Author's Note:

I can hear the ships leaving port already. :pinkiecrazy:

So, Torque made his choice. And it wasn't the Wonderbolts by the sound of it. Will he return? Well, I guess you'll have to keep reading to find out won't you? :raritywink:

He has a father that expects the world from him and will practically disown him otherwise? Sad to say I can relate to that...I wish I followed Dahlia's advice many years ago...


It appears that Torque's words hit Riptide deep. I wonder how this will affect him going forward? :duck:

So, we've made it this far into the story. The next chapter will be the final chapter of this arc. And from there, the final arc of the story. This arc was particularly shorter than the first, but there's also been some interesting developments. And now we're starting to get to some scenes that I've been looking forward to writing ever since I started this story...3.75 years ago!?!?! Jesus (albeit with a bit of an intermission)...well...we're getting close...


Thanks for reading! :twilightsheepish: