• 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 7

“As I said, the second to last test will be an endurance race around our test derby track. The teams are going to be your room assignments. Because I’m lazy and can’t be bothered to put you in teams,” she unashamedly admitted.

“If you’re one of the rooms unfortunate enough to have already lost a pony, speak to me, and I’ll get you sorted out with a little bit of rearranging. Your room number is going to be your race number, which will be on the vest you’ll be given. The Pegasus wearing the vest will be the pony on track. When you want to change Pegasi, you land at the entrance to the pits and proceed on hoof to your teams stall, where you change the vest to the new pony. When in the pits, remain on hoof at all times. You can only start flying again when you leave the pits. Let’s see,” Fleetfoot looked up at the clock on the wall, “it’s eight AM now. so we’ll go for an eight twenty race start. That’ll give you time for bathroom breaks and thinking up a strategy. The race will be eight hours long. Eight ponies per team, so you should get an average of around an hour of flight time each. Although I’m going to say that each pony only has to do half an hour minimum, to throw some strategy into the race...yeah, that should just about do it. Wow, that’s the quickest I’ve ever planned a whole race off the top of my head!”

It probably wasn’t Fleetfoot’s best call to explain all that over food, as she wasn’t the main area of concentration. Everypony had mostly blank looks on their faces, as if they were struggling to take in all of what she just said. “Don’t worry, it’s pretty simple. There’s signs explaining the track rules anyway, you’ll be fine.” She headed for the door, “there’s signs to the track. Meet me out there when you’re ready.”

Rainbow finished up the last of her lunch then followed the signs out to the track. Fleetfoot was right, it was easy to find. There was signs leading them all the way too it.

The track was a big oval. She was amazed at how she missed it. As was everypony else. It was basically 2 long straights connected by very long, linear turns at either end. It had a cloud floor, with cloud barriers around the outside and inside edges, with an opening on the beginning and end of the far straight for the pits area. There was a large, open structure with multiple garage doors that opened upwards. On top of it were lots of cloud huts where ponies could sit and watch from. Around the track, there was a small row of seating, that only went 3 rows high. Since this was a training facility, it isn’t expected to have any spectators at all, so it was only designed for a minimal crowd.

She saw Fleetfoot with a few ponies standing in the open infield area on the inside of the oval. She flew down there and landed, with a continuous flow of ponies behind her.

“Grab the vest with your team number on it,” Fleetfoot instructed as she pointed to a box to the side of her.

Dash walked up and grabbed the vest with the number 13 on it. They were simple white vests with the numbers on them in bold red writing, making them stand out and easy to identify.

Dash turned and waiting for her team. White Comet and Dahlia had already arrived, and it didn’t take long for Crash Dive and Horizon to show. Torque appeared next, followed by Riptide.

As Riptide landed, Torque huffed and flicked his head away, scowling away from him team.

“Hey,” Riptide tapped him on the shoulder, “no hard feelings, bro. It was just the heat of competition, I would’ve done the same.” He held out his hoof for Torque to bump.

“Is this Riptide…” Crash Dive started,

“Being sincere…?” Horizon finished.

“Riptide…” Crash Dive said.

“Sincere…” Horizon added.

“Riptide…”

“Sincere…”

“Riptide…”

“Sincere…”

“Riptide…”

“Sincere…”

“Those words,” Crash Dive suddenly bought a dictionary out of no where, “is it even possible to use them in the same sentence?” He said as he flicked through the pages.

Dahlia let out a chuckle as she watched them both.

Torque looked back at Riptide, “I don’t have to accept your apology. But that doesn’t mean I can’t work with you either.” He replied, calmly and precisely. Puffing his chest out with pride.

Riptide held his hoof out for a bit longer, but after it became obvious that Torque wasn’t going to bump it back, he put it down.

“Let’s go into one of those huts, it’ll give us somewhere to discuss strategy more privately.” White Comet suggested, but didn’t wait for a response. He just flew off into the nearest one, and seeing as they didn’t have a choice, the rest of his team followed him.

The hut itself looked like it was only designed for about 4 ponies, so it was pretty cramped, but they were only gonna be in there for a little while.

“Alright, Bright Skies, you’re starting us off. Dash, pass Bright the vest.” Comet opened the conversation with.

“Wh-what!?” Bright Skies would’ve jumped back if it weren’t for the lack of room. Her eyes went wide and she bit her lip. “I...I can’t...why?”

“Because I want somepony with a brain to start us off. Also, you’re so small, you’ll be able to dart between all the tight spaces they’ll be at the start, since I don’t know what position we’re starting off in.”

“I-I dunno...I’m not good with crowds…” She hung her head down, her mane flicking over and covering her face.

“Bright…” Comet took the vest from Dash’s hooves and held it out in front of Bright Skies. “I saw firsthoof what you were capable of when you guided me blindfolded through that last test. You were able to calculate the tiniest gaps at the highest of speeds. You may not think it, but you’ve got an incredible brain sitting above your shoulders. I trusted you in the last test, now I need you to trust me.” He moved the vest closer to her so it became visible in her peripheral vision. “Can you trust me?”

Rainbow sat in awe at the motivational speech Comet just gave to Bright Skies. She thought her talk with Strider after his attempt at the blind obstacle course test was pretty good, but Comet’s blew hers out of the water.

Bright Skies brushed her mane back so she could see. She kept her head facing the floor, but slowly moved it up until she was staring at the vest Comet held in front of her. All of sudden, a smile burst across her face as she snatched it up. “Alright, I’ll do it!” A load of enthusiasm was suddenly kicked into her voice, “thank you!”

“Thank me? I should be thanking you,” Comet replied with a chuckle.

“Oh no no, it’s just that...ah...nevermind, carry on.” She said, wiping her left eye.

Dash caught her as she wiped her eye...was that a...tear? Why on Equestria was she tearing up? This wasn’t Dash’s forte as such, so she was probably better off leaving it to somepony else. But that didn’t stop her being curious. However, now was neither the time nor place.

Comet looked over at Riptide, “okay Riptide, you’ve got the biggest wingspan and most wingpower of us all. However, since you’re so big, that’ll make overtaking difficult. You’ll go out when we’ve got a space with mostly clean air to try and make up some ground.”

“Aye, Captain,” Riptide replied with a wink, causing Comet to smirk.

“Hey, who made him Captain!?” Horizon asked, sitting next to Comet.

“Well, I don’t see you taking command…” Crash Dive replied.

Horizon looked to his right at Crash, “oh how supportive of you, brother.” He chimed sarcastically.

“Dahlia, Dash, Torque, you three are agile and quick. You’ll go out when we’ve got some traffic to negotiate. Hope you like a bit of squeezing and shoving.”

“You bet it do!” Dahlia replied. She immediately saw a grin form across Riptide’s face, and shot him a disapproving glare, knowing he was about to come out with some sort of innuendo.

“I can handle anything, bring it!” Dash added, confirming that she was satisfied with Comet’s strategy.

“Fine,” Torque replied. Comet knew that ‘fine’ was the happiest he got, so he didn’t bother to push for anything else.

“Horizon, Crash Dive,”

“Jawohl herr kaleun?” They both replied in sync in a funny accent whilst sitting in what looked like a position of attention. They were doing a pretty good job at it too, not moving a muscle.

Comet raised an eyebrow, “just...be yourselves…”

“Oui, mon Kapitan!” They replied in a completely different accent, both doing a salute, causing everypony to laugh.

“What about you? What you gonna do?” Dahlia asked Comet.

“I’ll go out when things get complicated.” He replied with a smile.

“What kind of complicated?”

“As in when advanced strategy is required. Something that I cannot effectively explain, as you have not experienced it for yourself.”

“ALL PONIES STARTING THE RACE PLEASE REPORT TO THE PITS TO BEGIN THE FORMATION LAP!” Fleetfoot bellowed over the PA system.

“Looks like that’s your call, Bright. Good luck.” Comet chimed as he squeezed himself out of the hut. He was getting way too cramped, and just wanted to get out of there.

Bright Skies put the vest on over her flight suit then put her goggles over her eyes as she proceeded to the pits. The rest of her team stood behind the wall separating the pits from the large structure to the side of it to watch. Either side of them, all the other teams were lining up, getting ready to watch.

“Line up in two lines in numerical order, odd numbers on the left, evens on the right.” Fleetfoot ordered from a box that was sitting on the wall above the start/finish line. “Lead ‘em on for me, will ya, Lightning?”

“With pleasure, Fleet!” A pale blue stallion with a cream and faded orange mane appeared from behind Fleetfoot and flew over to take a position in front of the pegasi lining up in the pits. Most ponies immediately identified him as Lighting Streak, another one of the Wonderbolts.

Bright Skies took her position on the inside row, since she they were an odd numbered team. Despite the huge amounts of support she was given from her team, she was still sweating with nerves. Being put on the spot like this made her feel like she was going to explode with all the pressure.

As Lightning Streak began to fly, the rest of the cadets behind him followed on, beginning the pace lap.

Fleetfoot watched from the box as they flew slowly around the track, going through the first 2 turns, then down the backstretch, and finally out of turns 3 and 4.

As Lightning Streak pulled off into the pits, she watched the cadets slowly make their way down. She got the green flag ready in her hooves, and leaned over the edge of the box to get a better view. She waited a bit more, testing their reactions. Then, once they were close enough, she waved the flag up and down over the edge. “GREEN FLAG, GO GO GO!” She called over the PA.

Bright Skies gulped, tried her best to keep an eye on what was going on in front of her, and accelerated along with the rest of the pack. Going into the first turn, she was boxed in on the inside, but she held her position. After they had finished the first lap, a few gaps started to reveal themselves. Not massive gaps, but for a small pony like her, they were plently big enough.

Around the 4th turn, she darted between 2 ponies making it 3 abreast going into the 1st turn. She used her lightweight, and therefore betting cornering ability, to her advantage. Even though being in the middle, she was forced to take a longer way around than the pony in front, she could compensate for it through her speed. She managed to brush past him as they left the 2nd turn.

Bright managed to dart her way around the field with ease, despite having a wingpower disadvantage over the others. She made up for it by not only being faster in the corners, but by being able to squeeze through gaps other ponies couldn’t.

From the pits, everypony was cheering their respective teams on. Apart from Torque, all of team 13 were cheering Bright Skies on, giving her as much of a confidence boost as they could. She really was helping them out a lot, going from 13th to 6th place within the first 20 minutes.

“HEY, TWENTY TWO! QUIT THE DELIBERATE SHOVING OR I’LL MAKE YOU GO THROUGH THE PITS WITHOUT STOPPING!” Fleetfoot shouted over the PA.

Dash looked around to try and find the pony with the vest that said 42, but she couldn’t see him or her, so she turned her attention back to Bright Skies.

“Hey Comet,” She said, drawing White Comet’s attention. “Do you think Bright’s getting tired? She doesn’t exactly have mega amounts of wingpower like we do, and it looks like she’s been pushing herself extra hard. Do you think we should maybe get her to do her minimum of thirty minutes then send somepony else out.”

White Comet raised an eyebrow, “Hmmm…” He looked out towards the track. “You do raise a good point, Dash. We’ll see how it looks. How would we call her in anyway? Just shout to her?”

“With this I guess,” Dahlia jumped into the conversation, finding a board with interchangeable letters and numbers on it that they could put over the pit wall to get messages to her. It was a back background with white lettering on different cards that just slotted into it.

“That works,” Comet replied, then smiled. “If we’re calling her in early, then I’d like to see if she could last till about forty five minutes.” He looked back out to the track, “the fields starting to get pretty spread out, but if there’s still traffic we need to negotiate, one of us can go out. If we get clean air, we’ll send Riptide out. You okay taking on the extra load for Bright Skies?”

Rainbow shrugged in response, “no problems this end,” she replied. In reality, she was hoping that she would get the extra load, as it was more of an opportunity to shine in front of Fleetfoot, and therefore, earn herself more points.

“What about you Riptide?”

“I can go all night long…” He replied in a deep, low, gruff voice as he was leaning against the pit wall. Everypony knew what he meant, but went along with it anyway.

“Well, we have...some sort of a plan.” He said contently.

“Hey, you’re the racing genius here. If that’s what you’re telling us to do, we’ll do it.” Dahlia replied, “we sure don’t know anything better.”

They continued to watch the track carefully, analysing everything they could to make sure that they were making the right decisions in terms of strategy. Of course, it was impossible to predict the future, but the whole aim of the game was to try to do it the best you could. Dash was beginning to understand why Comet liked this so much. There was a lot of thinking and planning to do...but it was all for a big reward at the end.

“Thirty minutes into the race, and the first pit window is open! Strategies can be made or broke here, so pick your points wisely!” Fleetfoot called from the commentary box.

A small number of teams started flagging down their ponies in order to make changes, but not a lot. As expected, the majority of teams were going for the most logical route. 8 ponies, 8 hours, 1 pony per hour. But strategy didn’t always make that possible.

About 20 minutes later, Dash noticed something. “Comet, the fields spreading out because of all the pitting. If we get Bright in now, we could send Riptide out to make up a load of ground in the free air.”

“I agree,” Dahlia added.

Comet smiled, “good call, Dash. Riptide, you’re up!” He motioned with his hoof for Riptide to get ready to change over. Dahlia got the sign ready and changed all the letters around, so when she held it over the pit wall, it read:

#13
BRIGHT SKIES
PIT IN

Bright Skies rounded off the last turn, then saw the board in the distance with her name on it. Acknowledging the order, she came down the slip road onto the pits and landed, still maintaining her pace and running as fast as she could towards their stall.

When she got there, she attempted to pull the vest off, but it was a fidgety old thing to get off. With Riptide’s assistance, who was more than happy to ‘undress’ her, she got it off, and Riptide flung it on and started running down the pit straight.

Bright Skies caught her breath as she used her wings to help her hop over the pit wall. She had been pushing herself harder on the straights than most other ponies were, so it put a lot of strain on her wings.

“Nice job out there, Bright!” Comet praised as he patted her on the back.

“You were amazing out there!” Dahlia added as she embraced Bright Skies in a hug, only to instantly regret it after feeling how sweaty she was.

“You put us in a great spot, Riptide’s gonna be able to gain some serious ground with all that clear air. I’ve not seen anypony who can weave between traffic better than you!” Comet praised as he looked out onto the track. The pack had broken up into smaller, less tight packs which were much easier to navigate. The extra clean air gave Riptide a chance to use his massive wingspan to its full potential.

Rainbow watched him struggle his way past a few packs for the first 10 minutes of his run. Although they got him out with as little traffic as possible, it wasn’t unavoidable. He usually was able to be patient and pass them on the straights, but did manage to pass in the occasional corner as well. Although not as effectively as Bright Skies.

Speaking of Bright Skies, Dash wasn’t exactly sure where she got to. She looked around, but she was nowhere to be seen. She was pretty sweaty, perhaps she went to clean up? Although that would make much sense as there’s still a test left to go after this. Either way, nopony else seemed particularly worried about it, so why should se be? She probably said where she went, but Dash wasn’t listening.

For the next 45 minutes, Rainbow watched in awe as Riptide blew the competition away, literally in some cases as the smaller Pegasi had to fight his backdraft. His acceleration out of the turns made it look like the competition was still standing. He easily turned what was miles for the other teams into yards.

She wanted to watch his display of straight line speed some more, but her bladder told her otherwise. “I’ll be back in a sec,” she told her team, but didn’t get a response. She presumed that they heard her anyway. she turned away from the pit wall and started walking around the infield area.

It wasn’t very well signposted, but then again, it was rarely used for any events outside of practice, so there was no reason for it to be. Although, after a little while of wandering, she managed to find some signs that pointed her in the right direction.

She went through the doors with ‘mares’ written on the front of it. It was pretty dark, with only the natual light coming through. It didn’t smell as bad as she first anticipated, probably because it was hardly used.

She went into the first cubicle she laid her eyes on. They were reasonably clean, because they rarely got used, but because of the fact that they rarely got used, they weren’t exactly kept in top notch condition either. She reached out to lift the seat, but as she heard a sniffle come from the cubicle next to her, she stopped dead in her tracks. Although no words were spoken...it sounded familiar.

A faint sob followed it up, confirming her suspicions. “Bright Skies?” She knocked on the right hand wall between the cubicles, “it’s me, Rainbow.”

She heard the sniffles again, followed by a faint voice. “H-hey…” Bright Skies forced out, then sniffed again.

Rainbow left her cubicle and approached the door to the right of the one she was in, noticing that although the door had been fully closed, it was left unlocked. “Can I come in?” She hesitantly questioned. She could hear that Bright Skies was upset, but was unsure about what she could do to help. Did she want comforting? Or did she want to be left alone?

If it was her, she would want to be left alone, but this wasn’t Dash. Getting no response, Dash went with the former and gently pushed the door open. Bright Skies was sitting on the toilet with the lid down, the head part of her uniform undone and her goggles around her neck. There were a few sheets of toilet paper lying around from what she’d been using to wipe her eyes. The whites of her chocolate brown eyes had reddened slightly, indicating that she had been crying for a while.

“What’s wrong, Bright?” Rainbow asked in a caring tone, trying to calm Bright Skies. She unzipped the head of her uniform and let it rest of her shoulders above her goggles.

Bright sniffed again then broke eye contact, dropping her head down and making gravity pull her bright blue mane down to cover her face.

“Bright…” Rainbow hesitantly trotted closer, one hoof at a time. She took the fact that Bright Skies wasn’t talking to her as red flags, but she couldn’t just leave her.

When Rainbow had got close enough to her, Bright just let herself collapse forward onto Rainbow’s shoulder, burying her eyes into her and hugging her tightly. “I don’t want it to end…” she whispered between sobs.

“Don’t want what to end?” Dash questioned, hugging her back.

“Th-this,” she stammered, “I’m scared, Rainbow. I’m scared of failing. Not because I’ll lose the opportunity to be a Wonderbolt, but because I would have to say goodbye to all of you. All my life I’ve been searching for somewhere where I’m welcome, and I finally found it. You, White Comet, Dahlia, all of you. You all wanted me, you’re all such great friends. I’ve never felt that my entire life. And if I don’t make it into the Wonderbolts...that’ll all go away…” she sobbed a bit more before speaking again, “and all that praise you gave me after I completed that first run...I’ve never had anyone praise me in that way before. It felt so special…”

Rainbow Dash exhaled slowly as she thought about what Bright Skies said. She knew about her unfortunate upbringing, but she didn’t know this is how she had felt all her life.

“Bright...I’m scared too.” Dash surprisingly easily admitted. She wouldn’t normally reveal any weakness, but with Bright, she felt like she was able to. “Joining the Wonderbolts has been my dream my whole life. And now I’ve got a chance to do it. I’m not gonna lie, I’m nervous as fuck…”

She paused for a moment to let Bright Skies take in what she was saying. “But I’m sure no matter what happens over the next few weeks, we’ll all still be friends...well, apart from Torque and Riptide maybe.” She chuckled as she finished her sentence, feeling Bright Skies chuckle with her. “And you know something?” She felt Bright Skies’ ears pop up as she asked the question. “Things like that, what you just described. Growing up, I’ve always been told that if you really want something, and work really hard to get it, you’ll get it. All you need is the will and the desire. I’ve seen your will, it’s very strong. With a desire like that to match it, how can you fail?”

Her sobs began to die down, making understanding her easier. “You...you really think I can do it?”

“I think you can if you keep up what you’ve been doing. All you need to do is get out there and prove it.” Dash encouraged.

“Do you even...think I can beat you?”

Dash chuffed at the comment, “that’s the spirit!” What she actually wanted to say was something along the lines of ‘aim high, but don’t aim for the impossible’. But she didn’t want to ruin the moment. “Seriously, you’re a real asset to this race. We can’t have you sitting around moping in a bathroom for the rest of the 6 hours. We need you. Not only for support, but to maybe take another run. Are you up to it?”

Dash felt like all she needed to say was said. She just remained silent and waited for Bright Skies response. She continued sniffling softly for another 30 seconds, then began to loosen her grip. Rainbow released her and she sat upright. “Better?”

“Mmhmm…” She nodded, and grabbed a strip of toilet paper to wipe her eyes. “I really needed that. Thank you Rainbow Dash.”

“Hey, what are friends for?” Dash replied, smiling.

Bright Skies hopped off the toilet and Dash backed up to let her out.

“I suppose I should head back.” Bright Skies said as she walked towards the exit.

“You go on ahead, I’ll catch you up.” Dash replied as she headed back into the cubicle. “I came to the bathroom for more reasons than to stalk you, you know,” she joked.

Bright skies laughed as she walked out of the bathroom.

Dash did her business then returned to the trackside, where she found the pack to be flying considerably slowly, whilst behind Lightning Streak like they were for the parade lap.

“What happened?” Dash asked as she landed next to Comet. She noticed that Comet had got an awful lot of stopwatches and he’d started drawing in the cloud in front of where he was sitting.

“Couple fliers connected behind us. Didn’t look like anypony was hurt though. We’re going back to green this lap.” Comet replied.

“What position are we in?”

“We’re in sixth at the moment. A good position with such a long time to go, but we’re bunched up again. Riptide’s gonna have a problem getting through the pack.”

“Yeah…” Dash sighed as she looked out as they came round the final turn. “On the other hoof though, first through fifth places aren’t that far away now.”

“I guess that’s one way of looking at it,” Comet replied, raising an eyebrow as he thought about it. “He’s already caught them, all he has to do is pass them.”

“And is that easy? I presume you’ve been watching the competition more than you have us,” Rainbow joked at him.

Comet smirked, “It’s a bit more difficult than that with this style of racing. Since the racer is constantly changing, their pace and tactics also changes. For example,” he picked up one of the stopwatches around his neck,” the mare in first place at the moment has an average lap time eight tenths of a second faster than Riptide’s.”

Rainbow was intrigued by his data and statistics, but she had to ask another question first, otherwise she’d never forget about it. “Where’d you get all those stopwatches?” She pointed to the roughly dozen stopwatches hanging around his neck.

White Comet motioned his left hoof towards Crash Dive and Horizon, who she overhead were discussing gambling odds.“I asked, I got. Don’t ask me how,” he replied.

Dash shook her head,“say no more…” She replied as she watched the race go back to green. “So Riptide has the potential to go a lap down if the leaders carry on like this?”

“If this carries on, then yeah,” Comet replied. “But they could drop their pace as they tire. Also, Riptide could find some speed somewhere. And Riptide’s endurance is a big factor aswell. If he tires towards the end, it could make things interesting.” He looked at some more of his stopwatches, “The top fourteen seem to be within a second of each other pace-wise so far. If it remains that way for the remainder of the run, it’ll be tough on Riptide…”

“Ugh,” Rainbow dropped her head against the wall, only make a ‘poomf’ sound on the cloud. “my brain hurts…”

White Comet chuckled, “I guess you’re now appreciating the work I put into beating you?”

All Rainbow Dash did in response was extend her left wing and bend all her feathers bar her middle one at him, causing him to laugh more.

Riptide was trying to make up time for Bright Skies’ shorter run. However, that plan hadn’t worked out so well, since he was now all bunched up again in a pack. It was difficult to break away from a pack because you didn’t have to slow down a lot in the turns. Also, with a wingspan as big as Riptide’s, it produced a bigger draft, allowing more pegasi to keep up with him.

The group of ponies in front of him started pulling away, but then their distance started maintaining. White Comet calculated that they were getting tired by this point, and that Riptide should now start catching them. But as he spoke, he saw the majority of the leaders pull into the pits.

“Damn,” He stomped the floor, “there goes that plan.” He looked over at Rainbow Dash, “looks like you’re gonna have to fight them on track. I’ll call Riptide in in the next few laps.”

“Alright, I’ll do my best,” Dash replied with a smile,

“Just pace yourself, and you’ll do fine. You’ve got to do an hour remember.”

“Sure,” Dash said with a nod.

They let Riptide do a couple more laps, then brought him into the pits. Although he offered assistance to help Rainbow put the vest on, she was adamant that she could do it herself.

Rainbow ran down the pits, and when she reached the exit, she used the momentum she had gathered with the run to help her take flight. She used the 2nd turn as a measurement of how far she could push in the turns. Which, given the nature of oval courses, turned out she could push quite hard.

With that settled in, she got up to speed along the backstretch and started racing her opponents. They were in 6th on the restart, got up to about 3rd before Riptide pitted, and were now back down to roughly 8th. She had a lot of work to do, but she had her technique on her side. She was pretty nimble in the corners, and was already able to fly fast in a straight line, so this should be a piece of cake.

As she wound down the laps, she kept glancing along the pit straight every time she passed by. White Comet was using the board to communicate to her, relaying her position, gap to next pony for position, and the gap between her and the pony behind her.

A few laps later, she noticed that another pony was getting closer and closer to her. When he got less than half a second away, she took a glance behind her down the front stretch, where she saw a stallion looking like he was setting up to pass her.

She looked back in front of her and gritted her teeth, ‘If you think I’m letting you past easy, think again!’ She pumped her wings harder to try and increase her speed. She had been trying to catch 7th place anyway, but was about even pace with them and was about 8 seconds behind. By her calculations, she should now catch her if she pushes harder.

She passed a lap down pony and then got herself some clean air. She now had nopony holding her back. She inhaled deeply and continued to fly ever harder.

She checked back behind herself again next lap. The stallion had now gotten to within striking distance of her, despite her efforts. As she passed the pits, she saw White Comet motioning a few things to her, but couldn't quite work out what he was trying to say. He was shaking his head and waving his forelegs at her, so it looked like he was telling her not to do something...but what?

She didn't have much time to think about it, as heading into turn 1, she felt a change in air pressure behind her. She didn't have to look back to deduce that the stallion was now right behind her.

She tried to pull away from him coming off of turn 2, but the pressure differences he was causing hindered her acceleration out of the turn. 'Damn, he's got me...' She cursed herself as she looked to her left to watch him fly past. He came by a lot slower than she expected him to, but still passed before going into turn 3.

As she flew behind him, she noticed something. It was easier to fly behind him in his draft. It was like she was getting a tow.

It suddenly hit her. Was this what Comet was trying to tell her? Is this what he wanted her to do?

On the pit straight and looked for her teams board. She saw Comet holding it up, but instead of the usual info about her place, he had wrote 'work with him'.

'So that's what he was trying to tell me,' Rainbow thought. She was about equal speed with this stallion, and if she could hang around in his draft, she'd be able to follow him to the front. 'Thanks Comet,' she thought as she took a better position inside one of the vortex drafts being produced by his wings.

It helped her in the long run as well since she didn't have to work quite so hard in order to keep up with him. She was able to just hang back and let him tow her to the front...at least that was the plan.

She managed to snag an extra 20 minutes in his draft. Miraculously, he didn’t appear to be slowing down. Either he had lots of endurance or wasn’t pushing quite as hard as Dash was. Dash didn’t like the thought of him being quicker, so she immediately went with the former.

She watched ahead in front of him as 2 pegasi were flying side by side with a 3rd trailing behind them. She switched her vision to the board White Comet was holding as she flew past the pit straight. She had made her way up to 5th. 6th was a good few seconds behind her, but she still had about half a lap she had to make up in order to reach 3rd, 2nd and 1st, who were battling it out.

She watched as going into turn 1, the mare behind the other 2 ponies in front of her tried to make her way through the middle. Rainbow’s eyes went wide as she noticed that their wings were gonna touch. She immediately backed off, seeing trouble ahead.

The mare’s wings caught on the wings of the stallion on her left, and they both got pulled towards each other, falling towards the outside wall and collecting another pony in their path.

Rainbow made an adjustment to her course to avoid them, as she had given herself time to react, but as for the stallion she was drafting, he tried to move out the way, but since he had less time to react, he moved very suddenly, destabilizing his flight and handing the position to Rainbow as he tried to regain control, putting her up to 4th.

“OHHHH! Caution!” Fleetfoot called over the PA as she waved the yellow flag from her box. “Anypony feeling tired? ‘Cos I’m sensing a few strategies being switched around here…” she hinted.

Rainbow followed the pack back around, maintaining her position as they caught up behind Lightning Streak, who was doing the pacing. They finished the remainder of the lap at a cruising speed and as she came around the last turn, there was a flurry of boards going across the pit wall, but it didn’t take Rainbow too long to spot it. She was told to ‘stay out’.

She didn’t feel too tired, she could definitely do more, but she was also past her best. However, if it was Comet’s calculation, she wouldn’t question it.

She watched as 1st place pulled into the pits...and 2nd...and 3rd…

...wait, 3rd!?

She glanced ahead to see Lighting Streak ahead of her. With those ponies in front of her pitting, it meant she had jumped to the lead. She grinned as she closed the gap to Lightning Streak. She was in the lead, much earlier than expected. All she had to do now was keep it.

2 more laps went by and she had got herself rested up a little bit. Ready for the rest of her stint. She was just hoping that she'd have enough left in her to race against these fresh pegasi.

Lightning Streak headed down the pits, essentially handing control over to Rainbow. She switched her sight over to Fleetfoot in the marshals box above the start/finish line. She let them fly a few more yards before waving the green flag over the edge.

Not wasting any time, Dash flapped her wings and accelerated hard, the rest of the competition in tow. It felt great to be leading, as she had no one holding her up. All she had to do was keep the competition behind her.

She double-checked her position before turning into turn 1, making sure she wasn’t going to cut anypony up. When she was sure, she made her move inside, moving towards the apex and then efficiently accelerating out.

For the first few minutes, she was actually holding out a pretty good lead. It was probably because the ponies behind her also did not pit like she did, and as such, had the same disadvantage she had. She only had about 15 minutes left of her run anyway.

She could feel herself tiring as she entered what she presumed were her final few minutes. As she passed the pits straight and saw her timing board, her eyes widened at the rate at which the pony behind her was catching her. Comet also left her a notice saying ‘push hard’.

Which is exactly what she’s been itching to do all race, but she was smarter than that. However, now she was given permission, she didn’t hold anything back. But she didn’t increase in speed quite as much as she would’ve liked due to her tiredness.

The gap continued to close, but not as much as it was before. However, Rainbow had no answer for the pace of the pony behind him, due to her own fatigue. It didn’t stop herself pushing as hard as she could though. Even though the odds were 100 percent against her, she didn’t give up. She just kept pushing and pushing, knowing that she would be able to endure the pain for the final few minutes.

As she came down the pit straight, she saw a notice telling her to pit the next time she came by, and the gap between her and 2nd place was now down to half a second.

She looked back behind her to see a stallion closing in. Although she didn’t have long left in the sky, she was determined not to let him past before she got the pits. She covered off the inside doing into turn 1, stopping him taking her down the shortest route. If he was gonna pass her, she was gonna make him work for it and take the long way round.

Which he didn’t seem to have a problem doing. He flew around to the right of Rainbow, getting his head just in line with her rear as they came off of turn 2. “Damn…” Rainbow growled as her exit onto the back straight was compromised, and she couldn’t accelerate as hard as she would’ve liked. This gave the stallion the advantage as he was able to close the distance so they were neck and neck going into turn 3.

Rainbow didn’t concentrate too hard on him at this point, as she was more focused on spotting her entry to the pits. She counted down to the point where she could start decelerating. Once she hit her mark, she flared her wings out and used the aero drag to slow them down. Due to her fatigue, she wasn’t able to push against the wind quite as hard as she first thought. Her eyes widened as she realised she was gonna overshoot her landing point.

She continued trying to decelerate the best she could as she neared the yellow line which marked the point she had to be on the ground by. Once she got near it, she just gulped and drew her wings in, dropping herself to the floor. As she hit the cloud, she bent her legs slightly to cushion the blow. Although being on cloud, the landing wasn’t ever going to be too rough, but at the speeds she was going, it could’ve hurt. She was prepared to roll, but luckily, she managed to maintain her balance as she began striding towards her team’s stall.

Once she got there, she stopped as Dahlia jumped over the wall and got ready for Dash to chuck the vest at her. Dash spared no time grabbing the vest and whipping it over her head, deliberately losing grip as she whipped it, so it flew in the direction of Dahlia. Dahlia caught it in her hooves and proceeded to put it on as Dash jumped back over the wall “Good luck!” Dash called as she hopped over.

Dahlia started walking behind another pony who had also pitted at the same time as them. Dash saw it as either a good battle about to occur, or a drafting teammate that Dahlia could use to get back to the front.

“DON’T THINK I DIDN’T SEE THAT NUMBER THIRTY EIGHT!” Fleetfoot blared over the PA. “WALK-THROUGH PENALTY FOR YOU FOR HAVING A TEAMMATE JUMP OVER THE WALL BEFORE YOU STOPPED IN YOUR STALL!”

Dash looked over at the number 38 team and then back at hers. The mares and stallions of the 38’s all stomped their hooves and started arguing with each other over whose fault it was. Dash’s team seemed to all be subtly punching the air as they gained a spot without even doing anything. All apart from Comet, who raised an eyebrow in suspicion, and then closed his eyes as he went into deep thought.

Dash raised her own eyebrow at him, but then decided that it was best not to disturb him. He was the one doing all the calculating for their strategy after all.

She watched as Dahlia completed her outlap and come onto the frontstretch. They had dropped back to 12th place, thanks to that caution a few laps ago that bunched the pack back together. However, Dahlia seemed to have found quite a few partners to work with. The more ponies, the bigger the draft, meaning greater speed gain.

The time wound down and Dash noticed that Comet had been thinking for a while now. She approached him and sat next to him on the pit wall. “What’s up?” She asked.

“Our pace has been somewhat inconsistent. The fluctuations are making it hard for me to calculate a perfect strategy.” He admitted, “also, I don’t mean this to be rude, but...we’ve got 2 wild cards on our team.” He subtly hinted by tilting his head at Horizon and Crash Dive. “They’re flying style is erratic. Whilst I’m not going to bash something that works, I’m just concerned that it might get them into trouble. If we crash, and tumble to the back of the grid, it’s game over.”

Dash gritted her teeth as she didn’t want to be reminded of that fact. Crashing was always going to be hard, but there was no doubt about it that they had got lucky so far. Getting involved in somepony else's crash was always a wild card that nopony could avoid. “How do they tell the position you rejoin the pack in once you crash anyway? From the past few I’ve seen, not all ponies went straight to the back.”

Comet pointed out to the track. “See that yellow line about halfway down the track?”

Dash looked where he was pointing, “yeah?” She replied as she identified it.

“When a pony falls below that line under caution, the other ponies behind him are allowed to pass. When he gets back up above it, he stays in the position he rejoins in.”

“And what if it’s a tight pack and it’s too close to call?” Dash questioned.

“Then’s it’s up to the marshall to decide, and her word is final,” Comet replied. “Hmm…” he closed his eyes again, “If there’s a caution during a pit window, we could get aggressive and force our way to the front…” he suggested. He wasn’t really speaking to her at this point, he was just bouncing ideas around out loud.

His words suddenly popped an idea into Rainbow Dash’s head. “Aggressive, eh?” She grinned slyly as she thought about it. “Leave that to me, Com. I’ll be right back,” she patted him on the shoulder as she walked off. He opened his eyes to see her walking off. Since she didn’t explain what she was on about, Comet just ignored her and went back to thinking of scenarios and strategies.

“Yo, Riptide,” Dash called, drawing Riptide’s attention. She motioned for him to come over to her. He smirked, nodded and headed over to her.

“What’s up?” He started with.

“I’ve got a plan,” she whispered, “basically, we need aggression when the next pony takes over from Dahlia. I need you to fire up Torque, if you know what I mean…” she pointed over to him.

“Aw, c’mon…” Riptide shook his head. “I’ve got no problems with the dude, but...he’s real hard work, y’know.” He whispered back.

“C’mon Rip, we need this. You 2 have friction. Use it to your advantage.”

“I dunno…” he sighed, “alright, I do it. But only if you do something for me…”

Dash instantly frowned. “If it involves me making contact with you in any way, then the answer is no.” She said bluntly, glaring daggers into his eyes.

“Oh, no, no, no…” He shook his head, and waved his hoof. “Just a little something…” he lined himself up so he was parallel with her. “Come closer…”

She quietly groaned and shuffled closer to him.

“A little more…”

She got fed up of protesting and just fully closed the gap on him, waiting for him to get to the point.

*SMACK*

Dash yelped as she felt something hit her plot at a very high velocity.

“I’m on it!” Riptide announced as he bounced off in the direction of Torque, looking rather pleased with himself.

“Did...he just…” Dash went red with rage as she rubbed the point where he spanked her plot. “He is unbelievable...I’ll get him back for that one…” Luckily, pain was quite easy to inflict on a certain spot with stallions. But right now, she let it slide. She was more concerned about winning a race that counted towards whether she got to be a Wonderbolt or not than some stallion slapping her butt.

As she walked back towards Comet, she watched Riptide approach Torque. "Problem is solved," she announced as she pointed towards the pair of them.

Comet looked in the direction she was pointing. As soon as Riptide started speaking, Torque immediately had a look of disgust on his face.

Comet chuffed and smirked, "you're so evil...but I like the way you think," he held his hoof out to her.

"I do try," Dash replied as she bumped his hoof.

Dash watched as Dahlia continued to make her way around the track. She was gaining some good ground, and doing it very strategically. No doubt she was doing exactly what Comet had told them to do. Her hold-backs and passes were very precise. She was very good at predicting what was going to happen ahead. However, even she could not fight the enemy that was fatigue. With less than 15 minutes remaining in her run, it was beginning to show. She dropped off the pace significantly, much more than expected in fact. She had obviously been pushing hard for the last 20 minutes or so.

Comet sent her a message via the board telling her to hang back and remain in the draft to try and extend her endurance as much as possible.

A couple of laps later, they made the strategic decision to bring Dahlia in early, to try and get an advantage on their competitors. That, and because Riptide and Torque were about to go at each other’s throats…

Dahlia came into the pits in 7th position. She trotted over to the stall and started getting the vest off.

“And remember, you actually need to go fast in order to win,” Riptide chimed as he reminded Torque.

“Oh, piss off!” Torque hissed as he jumped over the wall.

He snatched the vest out of Dahlia’s hooves without warning, causing her to flinch slightly. She would’ve flinched harder if she wasn’t so tired. She saw a fire burning in Torque’s eyes, a combination of determination and anger…

A winning combination.

She smirked as she hopped back over the wall, not saying anything to distract him.

Torque ran down the pits and immediately took off at the end, picking up speed rapidly. He flew very aggressively, cutting a lot of ponies up and weaving in and out without a second thought.

Which bought another question to Rainbow Dash’s thoughts. “Won’t he use up all his energy if he flies this hard?” She asked Comet.

“Yes,” Comet replied, not being able to sugar coat it. “Now we just have to hope that luck’s on our side…”

Dash looked out to the track and sighed. ‘I hope so too...’

The laps wound down and Torque continued to fly hard. His main strength seemed to be not only aggressive cornering, but also accelerating out of a turn. Looks like he really did live up to his name in that department. He showed a distinct lack of care in his run, which is exactly what they needed at the moment in order to gain places. However, as was predicted, he started quickly, and his performance started dropping exponentially.

“How long ‘till he reaches his minimum time?” Dash asked.

Comet picked up one of his stopwatches, somehow managing to find it in the sea of them that were dangling around his neck. “Six minutes,” he replied.

‘Well, that’s not so bad, but...’ “So what’s the plan?” She asked.

Comet sighed and looked behind him at Crash Dive and Horizon. “Just go like hell from this point onwards. These guys need to do at least forty five minutes each. I’ll do the final hour and a half.”

Dash blinked and looked back at him. “Hour and a half? That’s a long old stint. I know you know about all this stuff, but that seems a little long even for you. Please tell me you have a plan?”

Comet shrugged, “my plan is to hang back in their draft, conserve as much energy as I can, and hope I can beat them at the end with superior tactics,” he explained.

“Do you really trust your knowledge and instincts that much?” Dash questioned, which sounded so hypocritical coming from her.

“Well,” he smirked, “I didn’t think I could beat you back when we raced, but I managed to do it using my tactics. If I can beat you, I’m pretty sure I can beat anypony.”

Dash chuffed. She really wanted to say something snarky, but she cared about the result of the race just as much as he did, and didn’t want to spoil the mood and, more importantly, his motivation.

Despite getting tired, Torque was still holding out a pretty good pace. He was coming up behind a pair of pegasi who were a couple laps down. However, they were battling for position.

Torque tried to pass them on the outside going into turn 1, but one of the stallion’s, in an attempt to pass the other, moved into his path. But instead of correcting him, Torque just flew between them, making slight contact with the stallion who was now on his outside

The stallion flinched as the sudden appearance of another competitor, causing him to make a sudden movement towards the outside. The whole movement threw him off and sent him straight into the outside wall. He bounced off, appearing unharmed, but collected another pony in his wake.

“AND THAT, MARES AND GENTLESTALLION’S, IS WHY WE KEEP OUR EYES PEELED BEHIND US AS WELL AS IN FRONT OF US!” Fleetfoot announced as she waved the yellow flag.

Comet suddenly beamed, “a caution! And we’re in fifth! This is perfect!” Not wasting any time, he grabbed the board and started arranging the letters to get Torque into the pits.

As Torque came around, he saw the sign telling him to pit. He wanted to protest, but in the back of his mind, he knew that he wanted to win just as much as them. A win for them was also a win for him, right?

As he started coming into the pits, with a few other ponies in tow, Comet looked over at Horizon and Crash Dive. “Horizon, you’re up.”

“Sure thing, boss-pony!” He saluted in a casual way.

“I’m not exactly what kind of advice to give you, as I’m pretty sure that screw that you’ve got loose up there would just let it all out anyway.” He tapped his forehead, making the others around him let out a few chuckles and eye rolls. “The only thing I’m going to tell you is that we’ll need you to last a minimum of forty five minutes. That’s goes for you too, Crash Dive.” He looked over at Crash, then back at Horizon. “I’m not gonna lie, this isn’t going to be easy. Good luck. Now get out there,” he motioned to where Torque was pulling into the pits.

Torque stopped in the pit stall and pulled the vest off as Horizon hopped over the wall to take it. Without warning, Torque just threw it at Horizon’s face. Horizon blinked as it came towards him, but then just jumped, dived into it, and emerged with it somehow fitting him perfectly. He started heading out of the pits in what was probably the fastest stop of the race.

Horizon rejoined in the same place Torque left. They completed another lap cruising around before Lighting Streak ducked off and let them get on with it. Fleetfoot waved the green flag and Horizon accelerated in line with the pack.

Dash thought Torque’s racing was erratic, but Horizon’s...well, she didn’t know it was possible that, in such a narrow course, it was possible to pass above and below as well as left and right. But apparently it was, because it was happening right in front of her. It even left Comet filled with amazement. Going under left you with a disadvantage, because you’d have to climb back up, which hindered your acceleration. And going up was not only a longer way around, but climbing cost you speed, which you needed to make the pass. But somehow he made it work.

As his run progressed, he appeared to be racing cleanly, although erratically. His lap times were incredibly inconsistent, but it still averaged out to be roughly where he should be.

“Do you think you should maybe rethink your finishing strategy?” Rainbow questioned White Comet.

“What do you mean? Horizon’s right on point...although I do question the way he got to it…” he replied, taking a look at his stopwatches and raising an eyebrow.

“No, that’s not what I meant,” Dash replied, shaking her head. “I’m talking about you doing the final hour and a half on your own. I know you’re good at this stuff, but even you can’t do that.”

“I know,” he admitted, “but I don’t want the ending to be out of my hooves...it’s not that I don’t doubt Horizon and Crash Dive’s flying or anything, but…”

“This dude’s either insane or a genius,” Dahlia interrupted, watching Horizon passing another pony. “He can pass from ABOVE other ponies...ABOVE! That’s the long way around, yet he still maintains speed.” She shook her head at her inability to figure out how he did it. “Anyway, I see what you’re saying Comet, but I still think we should maybe stick to the basics and have them spread the time evenly. It means there’s less pressure on you.”

“I know, but I’ve done the calculations, and I don’t think we can win. In order to find a way, I need to be out there.” He replied.

“They’ll be nothing to win if you pass out before the finish!” Dahlia replied.

He sighed as Dahlia joined the argument. The argument was pretty much over at that point, because she was so damn stubborn. That, and she had a temper that he really didn’t want to ignite.

He looked out to the track, “we’ll wait and see what happens. If his laptimes start dropping off...we’ll call him in.” He pointed to Crash Dive, “at that point, you’re up Crash.”

Crash nodded in response, doing a few warm ups to get himself ready. Although it would be a while until he would need to fly.

He passed his 45 minute stint, but since his times showed no indication of dropping yet, the team made the call to leave him out until they eventually did. Although he looked like he was getting tired, he still had enough energy in him to keep going.

“I’M SEEING MORE AND MORE MOVES BEING MADE IN DESPERATION! I WONDER HOW THOSE WILL TURN OUT…” Fleetfoot pondered. highlighting a few more battles over the PA.

About 10 minutes later, Comet saw on his stopwatch that Horizon’s times were beginning to drop off too much to the point where he would no longer be gaining time on the leader. “Alright, that’s it. You’re up this time by, Crash.” He said as he arranged the letters on the board to tell Horizon to pit.

Horizon saw the sign as he came back around, and acknowledged it with a nod as he decelerated whilst turning towards the entrance of the pits. He stopped at the yellow line and started jogging towards their stall.

As soon as he entered the stall, Crash Dive jumped over the wall. The 2 of them gave a quick blast of their wings and collided with each other with a hard thump. Somehow, in the mist of it, they managed to swap the vest over. Horizon headed back over the wall and Crash started running down the pits after completing what was probably the quickest pit stop of the race. When he reached the end, he took flight and rejoined the race.

Crash’s flying, like Horizon’s, was completely erratic, inconsistent, and made no sense at all. However, he still managed to get the overall average lap times that they needed in order to make it to the front.

Crash managed to make it up to his 45 minute mark. Now all they had to do was wait until he started losing pace.

Suddenly, Dash heard a few cries from behind her. She spun around and hovered into the air to see what was going on. When she got a view, all she saw was a bunch of ponies piling into each other. Easily 10 plus, then more kept getting added in as they raced around, eventually containing half the field.

“OUCH, THAT LOOKS LIKE THE BIG ONE!” Fleetfoot called as she waved the yellow flag. “ALTHOUGH THERE WAS NO FOUL PLAY WITH THAT MOVE! IT WAS JUST A RACING INCIDENT!”

White Comet breathed a sigh of relief, “looks like the god of the yellow flag is on our side once again. Hold this,” without hesitation, he passed the board to Dash and got her to hold it over the wall as he got ready.

“You’ve gotta complete about an hour and a quarter now. Are you sure you can manage it?” Dahlia asked as he was warming up.

“Under regular circumstances, no,” Comet replied, “but I’ve got a strategy.” The way he spoke so precisely implied that he knew what he was talking about.

Dahlia rolled her eyes, “of course you do…”

As Crash came down the pits, so did pretty much the entire field. This was a very good opportunity to make a strategic decision and not have to stop the rest of the race, which a lot of teams appeared to be taking advantage of, with the top 6 pitting. This somewhat relieved Comet, as that meant he would be going out with ponies as fresh as he was, meaning that they would be on equal ground. Unless they decided to change late in the race that is.

He swapped the vest with Crash and headed out of the pits, rejoining in 5th position. He smirked. This is exactly where he wanted to be. This was perfect for his strategy.

Lighting Streak stopped pacing them around, Fleetfoot waved the green flag and it was back to racing, for hopefully the final time. Everypony on team 13 watched with speculation over what Comet had in mind, since he didn’t really talk about what his ‘strategy’ was.

However, Dash noticed that something didn’t quite seem right. Back when he raced her, he was extremely calm and relaxed. But right now, he didn’t look that way at all. He looked incredibly focused, maybe even to the point where it was stressing him out. This race must’ve really been making him feel the heat. However, he was the one who’d been coming up with strategies for the whole team for the past 7 hours. Dash wasn’t surprised if he was feeling a bit overwhelmed. She would struggle to come up with a strategy for herself, yet alone herself plus 7 other ponies.

As the race entered its final stages, Comet held his strategy well. His plan had been to remain in the draft to conserve his energy, and then take the lead late in the race. That plan was working well at the moment, as he was sitting in 3rd place with 2nd and 1st running single file in front of him. Although it definitely wasn’t easy. As much as it pained him to admit, his team were right. He was a little optimistic with this long stint. He had been feeling the strain for quite a while now.

As he came down the frontstretch, he saw the board that Dahlia held up from the pits. She didn’t need to tell him how far ahead the ponies in front of him were, as he could see them in plain sight. And 4th place and below were all a lap down because they had to pit to change to their last pony. A late strategy like that costed them a lot of track position, but whichever pony they chose to run the remainder of the race would be able to push as hard as they liked, since endurance wasn’t really a problem at this stage on fresh wings. Dahlia also told him that there were 25 minutes left in the race.

He gritted his teeth. 25 minutes was gonna be a long time, but he would have to hold out. With everypony else more or less out of the running, unless they were able to make up at least 3 or 4 seconds a lap on them, it was pretty much going to be a 3 pony race.

As the time continued to dwindle, he remained as close as he could to them with minimal effort. The closer he got to the pony in front of him, the better the draft was, making it easier for him. But in order to get closer, he had to push harder, which required more effort. It was a catch-22 situation in which he wasn’t sure which would benefit him the most.

His train of thought was interrupted as he noticed the pony in front of him in 2nd started moving towards the outside between turns 1 and 2. He’d gone in too fast and was pushing out.

Not going to waste a perfect opportunity to gain a position, Comet ducked to the inside and banked about 50 degrees to his left, passing swiftly and cleanly on the inside of the other pony, then accelerating out of the corner, rejoining behind 1st.

He breathed a sigh of relief. He had made it up to 2nd. Providing that he could hold on to this spot, he would be in a prime position to make his move at the end of the race.

The race headed into its final 5 minutes. Comet was still sitting right behind 1st place, pretty much chewing his tail. He knew that he had to start thinking about the pass soon, so started examining his situation. He was right behind the leader, ready to pounce. 3rd place was a little further back, but still posed a threat. 4th and below were catching fast, but they had too much ground to cover in order to get anywhere near enough to challenge them. And there was going to be roughly 8 or 9 laps remaining.

He narrowed his eyes as he began spotting lines to see where he could overtake as he began pushing his wings harder. His endurance no longer mattered, he had to give it everything he had. It was now or never.

Over the next 2 laps, he examined the speed difference between the 2 of them. He was able to accelerate a little quicker out of the turns, but then a few seconds later, the stallion he was racing for the lead with would just blow him out of the water in terms of straightline speed. If he was going to pass, it would have to be either in a corner or on the way out of the last corner.

There weren’t a lot of laps left, he would have to do something. The stallion was covering the inside well, to prevent Comet from ducking underneath him, which ruled out a regular overtaking manoeuvre. He would have to come up with something fancy in order to pull this off.

He glanced behind him to check the position of 3rd. He was about 1 and a half seconds back. As long as either him or the leader didn’t screw up too badly, 3rd place shouldn’t bother them too much.

With that in mind, he looked back ahead and started spotting his entry into turn 3. He went a little further past his normal braking point and went around onto the high side. He was able to get about halfway around the stallion, and then on the exit of turn 4, he was able to use his acceleration advantage to get neck and neck with him across the line. But the superior speed of the stallion ment he pulled away on the entrance to turn 1.

‘I’m good enough to get neck and neck with him halfway down the straight, which is also where the finish line is...it’s close, but will it be enough?’

Now that he knew what he needed to do, or rather, the only thing he could do, all he had to do now was time it right. Too early, and he would leave himself vulnerable for a counterattack, too late, and he wouldn’t have enough time left in the race to make the pass.

As they rounded off turn 4, he saw Fleetfoot waving the white flag in the air. ‘This is it! The last lap! I’ve got to do it now!” He swallowed, narrowed his eyes, and concentrated on his entrance to turn 1. He would have to brake as late as possible, and swing around the outside.

The stallion moved to the inside, indicating that he was feeling the pressure from White Comet behind him. Because he was on the inside, and therefore, the tighter line, he had to decelerate earlier that he would’ve liked.

Comet waited until the last possible moment to start decelerating. Using his advantage of the wider line, he turned in later and was able to take a higher speed through the corner.

Rainbow leaned over the pit wall to watch the final moments. Everypony else on the team were biting their hooves in anticipation. Apart from Torque, who just started with contempt at Comet.

Comet pulled around the corner and managed to get neck and neck at the exit, briefly taking the lead from his better acceleration. Once again, the stallion stuck to the inside line to prevent Comet from stealing it from him.

Comet braked going into turn 3, once again, as late as he could. Suddenly, he saw a dash of the blue of the Wonderbolts uniform as the stallion screamed past him on the inside. He gasped as he realised something. ‘He screwed up, he’s going in too fast!’

Comet turned in and watched the stallion in front of him, who had made up about a pony length in front of him thanks to his kamikaze braking technique. However, what he failed to calculate was what Comet was going to use to his advantage.

He was now going to fast to make the apex, and pushed out wide going into turn 3. Comet angled his apex much later and, grunting as he tilted into a 90 degree angle, pulled all his weight into making the turn, crossing his line with that of the stallion’s and passing underneath him.

Dash watched as Comet made the move. She grinned from ear to ear as she watched him come out of turn 4 in the lead a few pony lengths ahead of the other stallion. He also had an extremely large smile across his face, as he saw Fleetfoot waving the chequered flag.

“It’s over...we won!” Dahlia cheered as she jumped into the air.

“Hell yeah!” Riptide exclaimed as he took to the air and embraced Dahlia. Dahlia hugged him back, she didn’t even care that it was Riptide, she was just so happy that they won.

The whole team started celebrating with cheers and hugs as they formed one massive hug circle. Horizon and Crash bought party poppers out of nowhere and managed to shower the team in confetti.

“I can’t believe we did it!” Bright Skies exclaimed, unable to stop herself smiling.

“Heh, piece of cake,” Dash replied and winked at her.

“Don’t ya think we should go see Comet?” Dahlia suggested, “he is kinda--” her eyes widened as she noticed something. “Riptide,” she growled and glared at him, “hoof off my butt before I shove it up yours!”

“Woops sorry,” he chuckled as he moved his hoof up around her shoulders, “didn’t realise it was down there. Heat of the moment, y’know?” He winked.

“Yeah right…” she muttered under her breath whilst breaking eye contact.

White Comet panted as he decelerated down the frontstretch, holding his wings out and letting himself glide. When he got to a low enough speed, he stalled and gently glided to the cloud. He landed gently, most of the impact on his front hooves. He breathed a sigh of relief and turned around to look back and see all the ponies clapping their hooves and congratulating him. A slight smile formed across his face as he heard all the cheers. He didn’t care that they were competing for the same job as him, all he cared about was the fact that they were showing real sportsponyship.

With a brief rest, he pulled his goggles down around his neck and unzipped the head of his flight suit as he flew over to his teammates, who immediately shared their congratulations and were quick to strangle him with hugs, despite the fact that all of them were covered in sweat. Well, some of them had dried off from being standing around for a while, but the majority were still sweaty. Everypony else from the other teams came to congratulate him, as well as the stallion he raced at the end. They exchanged nods and hoofbumps.

“Now THAT was one hell of a finish!” The familiar voice of Fleetfoot appeared. She had flown down from the marshal’s box and landed in front of White Comet. “You’ve sure got some skills up there, ain’t ya?” She commented as she tapped his forehead with her hoof.

“Uhh…” were the only words that could escape past his lips, as his mouth remained ajar and his eyes focused on hers.

Dash blinked as she double-checked what she was seeing was true. She’d never seen Comet so speechless before. In fact, she was pretty sure he looked...starstruck?

“Don’t you play that game with me,” she nudged him and winked, “I saw you going all crazy with the strategy calculations.”

“Uhhhh…” he responded with again, his face remaining locked onto hers, as still as a statue.

She got her clipboard and began to write, “I guess you really are as good as they say you are..”

“Uh, well...hehe…” he grinned nervously as scratched the back of his head, a small blush spreading across his cheeks, but clearly visible due to his bright white coat.

Dash saw Riptide hold a hoof to his mouth to prevent himself from laughing, as did Dahlia. She did the same herself, but motioned her hoof at her teammates to signal for them to cut it out.

Fleetfoot stared back at him, “what’s the matter, cat got your tongue?”

“Umm…”

This was getting so awkward so fast. Rainbow almost felt the need to step in for him, but she feared that if she did, she wouldn’t be able to contain her laughter, and she held too much respect for him to laugh at him.

Fleetfoot raised an eyebrow, “sorry, my telepathy is a little rusty…” she said as she rubbed her temple with her right hoof.

Her joke caused Riptide to snort, but Dahlia reminded him not to laugh by giving him a gentle kick with her hind left in side. Horizon and Crash Dive seemed to be the ones holding up the best, keeping mostly straight faces. But Dash could see past their expressions and could tell that they were holding back. Considering their normally humorous personalities, they were probably used to holding back in certain situations.

Dash had to squint her eyes as she tried desperately to hold in her laughter at her dumbfounded teammate. She found it so hard to believe that the same pony who was normally so calm, cool and collected went all speechless and bashful when receiving praise from what she presumed was his idol.

“Well,” Fleetfoot extended her wings, “I’ll speak to you later when you get a voice.” She took to the skies, taking a look around her, and prepared to address the cadets.

Comet scrunched his face and his blush grew a deeper red and spread across his nose, which only made the situation funnier for the rest of his team.

Fleetfoot took in a deep breath, “about half of you did well. The rest of you, I saw some stupid mistakes being made out there that could be easily avoided. I hate saying this, as I like trying to keep your morale up by saying something like ‘good attempt, but keep trying’ or something along those lines. But I can’t. Mistakes in situations that are easily avoidable are completely unavoidable. Of course, as Wonderbolts, we expect you to take risks. But don’t be downright stupid to the point where it gets reckless.” Whilst she tried to tell them in as much of a relaxed manner as she could, she still had a stern tone.

Fleetfoot spun around and hovered in the other direction. “Rant over. Onto the final test, which the other ‘Bolts are probably still putting together. Take a short break, then meet me over the other side.” She instructed as she flew off.

Dash and the others waited for a few moments until she had flown a few yards out.

“BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA!”

Dash was the first to fall to the floor in heaps of laughter, despite how little she wanted to. The rest of her team soon followed.

“Smooth bro,” Riptide said sarcastically as he playfully swatted Comet on the shoulder, “real smooth…”

“You should’ve seen your face!” Horizon exclaimed as he presented a picture of Comet’s face to him, “it was priceless!”

“Wait,” Bright Skies interrupted, still chuckling a little, “I didn’t see you holding a camera…”

“You mean this one?” Crash Dive asked as he immediately snapped a picture of Bright Skies with a camera he had in his hooves. “Not my fault they leave their equipment lying around unattended!” He tore the picture off the film as it printed out the front of the camera and gave it to Bright Skies.

Bright Skies took it, saw that it wasn’t developed, and slid it into one of the inside pockets in her flight suit.

“Alright, if winning wasn’t a spirit booster, that sure as hell was!” Dahlia announced as she took to the skies, still laughing slightly. “Anyway, onwards.”

“Right behind ya!” Riptide called as he took off in tow.

“Yeah,” she glanced back at him with an unamused expression, “for all the wrong reasons…”

“Oh come on! Do you think that’s on my mind ALL the time?” He exclaimed, holding his hooves out.

“Hmm…” Dahlia rubbed her chin for a second, “...yep.” She said bluntly with a slightly smug smile.

The 2 of them continued to argue as they flew off towards the other side of the training grounds.

Comet sighed as he brought himself to his feet and got ready to take flight. All his teammates sped off before him and he decided to lag behind. Mostly so he could take an extended rest from just finishing the race.

“Hey,” Dash glided down to his side, “what was that all about?”

He groaned as the last thing he wanted to do right now was talk about it. “It’s...nothing…”

“Nothing?” Rainbow raised an eyebrow, “it didn’t seem like nothing…”

“I really don’t know, Dash...it was just like... you know...she is who she is, the Wonderbolt with the reputation of being the derby champion, and I am who I am...I just feel like she expects big things from me, and it makes me really nervous around her…”

“But you spoke to her fine earlier, what’s the difference?” She questioned, raising a good point.

“When I spoke to her earlier, she was asking me questions that I easily knew the answer to, or could easily explain...she put me on the spot a minute ago, and I couldn’t think of anything…”

“White Comet unable to think?” Dash chuckled, “now I’ve heard everything…”

Comet couldn’t help but smirk at her sarcasm. “I know...I guess she just really makes me feel on edge.”

“You and me both, she’s by far challenged us the most out of the last few days.” She replied. She took a moment of silence to think about it, then sighed. “This next test is your speciality anyway, ain’t it?”

“I...well, I wouldn’t call it a speciality as such, but--”

“Oh, don’t bullshit me!” She exclaimed as she prodded him with her hoof. “Think we’ll get a chance for a rematch, eh?” she elbowed him and narrowed her eyes, “there’s no way I’m losing to you twice.”

He smirked in response, “sorry in advance to disappoint you then.”

“That’s the Comet I know! C’mon,” she accelerated past him, “we don’t wanna be late.”

“Heh,” Comet chuffed as he caught up to her. He didn’t push too hard, since he’d just been doing that, and was about to do it again.

'My speciality...I sure hope so...’

Author's Note:

Long chapter is long :derpyderp2:

I didn't mean for this chapter to be so long, but...I guess this is what happens when a racing fan and driver writes about racing. So yeah, the next chapter will probably be roghly the same length. :rainbowlaugh:

Thanks for reading :twilightsmile: