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

Wonderbolt Trials and Tribulations - White Comet

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

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Chapter 9

Dash's eyes fluttered as she awoke. She blinked a few times, seeing the room slightly lightened, indicating that it was morning. She immediately shut her eyes again, not needing to take anything else in. They hadn’t been told to wake up yet, and that’s all she needed to know. She sighed and pushed her head back down into the pillow. Right now, there was nothing stopping her getting the precious few extra minutes of sleep she cherished…

...Or at least nothing apart from Riptide’s obnoxious snoring. She’d woken up to that noise pretty much every day since she started. She was starting to get fed up with it. No, scratch that, she was fed up with it. She had to do something about it, and now.

She suppressed a groan as she slowly raised herself around to sit on the edge of the bed. She didn’t want to get out of bed, but sorting out Riptide’s snoring was a good enough reason for her. Plus, she needed to go to the bathroom, so she was only delaying the inevitable anyway.

She blinked a few times whilst rubbing her eyes with her hoof as she discreetly trotted over to him, taking note of what was going on around her. Although not much, as everypony was still asleep.

The noise intensified as she pressed on through the low light until she reached the side of Riptide’s bed. He was generally sprawled out all over his bed, with his left hind leg outside the duvet, and his right foreleg hanging over the edge. When he let out his mini tornado of an exhale, it made his fringe flutter above his head, and when it fell back down, it brushed against his snout, making his nose scrunch. It looked like his mane was tickling his nose slightly.

Dash so just wanted to hit him or something to get him to shut up. But she wanted to do something creative. She looked around his space to see if there was anything she could use. He had his mare’s fitness magazine on his nightstand that he likes to ‘read’. Apart from that...he had barely anything out that she could prank him with. She attempted to open his drawers, but the squeaking noise it responded with made her think better of it.

With no immediate plan obvious, and with her body’s call for the bathroom becoming more pronounced, she gave up and trotted her way over to the bathroom.

She silently skulked her way into the bathroom, taking great care with the door and lock to make sure she made as little noise as possible. She wasn’t usually one for subtlety, but she knew how much she hated getting woken up, and didn’t want to inflict it on the other ponies in her room. Plus, if she wakes Riptide, that’s prank opportunity over. Can’t have that!

When she finished her business, she walked over to the sink and began washing her hooves whilst looking at herself in the mirror in front of her. Her eyes still felt heavy, but they didn’t look it. It was probably due to her only waking up a few minutes ago. But on the other hoof, her mane looked like a rainbow spaghetti factory exploded. She couldn’t help but smirk to herself at her wild hairstyle, as she moved her head around in various different poses to see if it suited her. Ultimately, her opinion was no.

She looked down at her forehooves. In her distraction with her mane, she had been repeatedly tapping the spring nozzle on the soap, which had slowly formed a huge white ball of foam that bulged outside of her hoof. Seeing this, she instantly got inspiration.

Riptide’s hoof...snoring...twitch...foam...yeah, she had something. Something good. She grinned a devilish grin as she quickly finished up washing her hooves, and proceeded out of the bathroom, taking the container of soap foam with her…

She creeped back up to Riptide’s bed, finding him unmoved from the position she found him in a few minutes ago. She double-checked her surroundings to make sure nopony was watching. Although she’d probably be encouraged more than anything, she wanted it to remain a surprise.

As she thought, everypony was still out cold. She could only just hear their quiet inhales and exhales over the airhorn rivalling decibels of Riptide’s snores. She looked ahead to double check Horizon and Crash Dive.

“Marco…” Crash Dive whispered on his exhale.

“Polo…” Horizon did the same.





Dash rolled her eyes and shook her head at their display. Was it a coincidence, or were they genuinely sharing the same dream? Given the random things they were capable of, she wouldn’t doubt them of it…

She raised the soap container up to Riptide’s hoof and gently squeezed the first drop out onto his hoof. She paused briefly, making sure he wasn’t reacting. She did this for the first few squirts, but after confirming that he was completely out, she just squeezed on as much as she could without it dribbling down his foreleg.

She was about to call it quits there and then, but another bolt of inspiration struck her when she saw the posters he had stuck up behind him. Although the light was faint, she could only just make out their details. She took a step forward, making sure she wouldn’t bump anything, then leant out and placed her hoof on it. She could feel under her hoof that it was laminated, confirming that she could use it to add to her prank.

Using both forehooves, she gently peeled each one individually from the blu tac that was holding them to the wall and placed them on top of his duvet. Once they were all there, she squirted a couple of squirts over them. Since they were laminated, the soap wouldn’t damage them.

When the look was complete, she took a few steps back to admire her handiwork. Him, the bed, the posters, the creamy white stuff...yeah, it looked perfect.

“Heh heh heh…” she silently chuckled to herself as she crept back to the bathroom, put the soap back, then climbed back into her bed. All she had to do now was wait and hear for her prank to unfold.

Thinking back on it, she did think that she was maybe being a little too brutal on the guy...but then again, he did slap her butt. What goes around comes around. Almost literally for Riptide…

Dash wasn’t able to get back to sleep again. She was getting excited about the day ahead and what Soarin had planned for them. She was able to rest her eyes for the next hour or so, but that’s about as far as she got.

“AHHH, WHAT THE - pffff!” Riptide’s voice echoed throughout the room, causing everypony to spring up from their slumber. Crash Dive hit the light switch to illuminate the room, making Dash cover her eyes slightly as her eyes hadn’t adapted to the light.

It only took a second for Dash to confirm that had done exactly what she predicted he would. His mane tickling his muzzle had caused him to try and rub his face, but he ended up throwing the soap all over himself.

Prank successful.

It didn’t take Dahlia too long to put together the pieces. He was in bed, with his posters in front of him, covered in white stuff. “Oh wow, got a bit excited in the middle of the night there, Riptide?” She said through laughs that couldn’t be contained.

“Oh god,” even Bright Skies was losing it, “it’s everywhere!” She pulled her duvet to her face to wipe her tears.

Riptide felt his face flush so hot that it probably could melt all of...whatever this stuff was. The smell was a dead giveaway to let him know that it was actually soap. “Alright, very funny,” he grumbled as he wiped his face, trying to avoid getting any in his eyes. “Own up, who was it?” He asked as he spat out the remaining soap.

“Well, payback’s a bitch, ain’t it?” Dash replied, hoping that he would understand what she was implying.

Riptide recalled his actions from yesterday that involved Dash, and realised what she was paying him back for. He sighed a heavy sigh, knowing that he had it coming to him. Although he was very relaxed about it all. He had to hoof it to Dash, it was a pretty good prank.

Dahlia sighed as her laughing ceased and sat upright in her bed. “Well, I’m now awake. What do you think they’ve got in store for us today?” She asked out loud to nopony in particular.

“More action, I hope,” Dash replied. To be honest, it was all she ever hoped for. Action, action, and more action with a slice of action on the side. She hated all the games that made her tax her brain, she just wanted to fly fast. Although she knew that she’d need to do more than that to make the cut.

“Or maybe something completely different,” White Comet added, thinking the exact opposite of Dash. But he was a much more logical pony, so it made sense.

“Something testing our brains would be nice…” Bright Skies added into the conversation, but was so quiet that nopony really picked up on it. Partly due to her shyness, but also partly due to the fact that she was still waking up slightly.

The time continued to go on, but they weren’t getting a wakeup call. The clock went past 8AM. Then 9AM. Then eventually 10AM. Not that anypony was complaining, because it meant extra time in bed, but Dash was starting to feel a little hungry.

“What do you think’s going on? We should’ve been called up by now.” Dash questioned as she stood up from her bed to stretch her legs.

“Dunno, but I ain’t complaining,” Dahlia replied, sitting upright, but with her forehooves behind her head and leaning back against the bedframe with her eyes closed.

“Do you think they’ve given us a day off and they forgot to tell us?” Horizon said sarcastically.

“Ha! You wish,” his twin brother replied, moving onto the edge of his bed.

“Do you think maybe we missed the call? That would be embarrassing if we were the only room left…” Bright Skies suggested.

“Well, considering how loud they normally wake us up, I doubt we missed it.” White Comet replied, raising a good point.

“Do you think somepony should go out there and check?” Dahlia suggested, not moving from her relaxed position.

“Why, thank you so kindly for volunteering, Dahlia,” Horizon replied as he suddenly appeared next to her, attempting to pull her out of bed.

“Uhh, nope,” she pushed him away as he tried to pull her up. “You’re already out of bed, you go do it.”

“Nah…” Horizon trotted back to his bed. “It’s all the way out there…”

“You could use the exercise,” Crash Dive commented from the bed opposite.

“Pass,” he replied before resting against the bedframe with his eyes closed.

“Oh for crying out loud!” Torque exclaimed as he got out of bed. “I’ll do it.”

He walked in what could almost be considered a stomp to the door and swung it open. He glanced either side, to see that nopony was around. However, at the end of the corridor, he saw a piece of paper with some writing on it. However, he couldn’t make it out at the distance he was.

He started walking down the corridor to the piece of paper. Intrigued as to what got him walking, Dash walked over to the door of their room as some other ponies joined her. As she watched him walk down, a few more doors opened to the sound of the hoofsteps of his particularly loud walking. He wasn’t exactly a subtle pony. But seeing that there were other ponies up, it confirmed that they weren’t the only ones confused by this.

Torque walked up to the piece of paper at the end of the corridor and read it.

‘stand back’

His mind immediately interpreting the note as some form of test, he darted backwards as quickly as he could, using his wings to assist him. His sudden movements made everypony else who was watching him jump.

A second later, a stallion appeared from what appeared to be out of the ceiling, landing on all 4 hooves. “Finally, somepony decided to take the initiative. Bonus points for you, cadet,” Soarin announced with a smile.

Torque smirked at his accomplishment, looking up at the same time. He saw a vent with the grate hanging by its hinges. He immediately put 2 and 2 together to figure that Soarin was waiting in the vent until somepony ‘took the initiative’. And that somepony was him.

Soarin walked past him to address all the cadets that had gathered in the corridor. “As a Wonderbolt, you won’t always have somepony holding your hoof through everything telling you what to do. You’ll have to take initiative and figure it out for yourselves. Now get yourselves ready and meet me in the mess hall for breakfast.” He ordered, sternly and precisely, then dissapeared off. Presumably to the mess hall to wait for them.

Dash did a double-check on what she just saw. She’d met him both outside and inside these trials, and he’d never spoken so seriously, precisely, or with authority before. The sudden twist completely threw off her image of him. He’d suddenly become more of a commander that she would expect in something like the Royal Guard, or the Equestrian Royal Airship Force. Not the goofy, carefree stallion that took her out to dinner the other day.

Despite his sudden change in personality, she had just been given a job to do; get ready to rumble, then get some breakfast.

Her and her roommates took turns in the shower, then once she was suited up, she went to the mess hall to get her breakfast. She kept her breakfast basic, but still very nutritious. Besides, she had a sweet tooth for fruits anyway.

“Well, today's already looking interesting…” Soarin said as everypony was just finishing breakfast and getting ready for the day ahead. “Today’s test is going to be a very unique one in terms of the way it's judged. But it’s also very relevant to the Wonderbolts. You’re going to pair up in teams of two and design and perform your own aerobatics show.”

Dash’s ears perked up at his instructions. A chance to do her own routine? A chance to show her own personal moves to the Wonderbolts? What better opportunity was there to prove she was the best? She smirked at yet another challenge that would prove to be a piece of cake. But her joy was short-lived as she remembered a crucial piece of information. She’d have to be paired with somepony else. Her excitement died down at the thought of who she’d be paired with. Hopefully somepony good…

“The show can be whatever you want, but it must be no longer than five minutes. Your partner will be whoever you choose. Or whoever you’re left with in some circumstances. You have two hours to come up with something, then perform it. Get on with it,” he said his final words before taking his leave. His instructions were pretty clear, they could do anything they wanted.

Dash watched as the mess hall lived up to its name and started turning into a mess. Everypony was walking or flying everywhere to try and get to somepony to form a pair. She wasn’t entirely sure who she’d pick as her teammate, so she wasn’t that quick to get up. She could think of a few advantages and disadvantages of each pony that came to her mind, but it was all a bit too complicated to her. She’d still try and find somepony, but it would be much easier if somepony came to her.

She went through her teammates to see whether they would be able to match her or not. Crash Dive and Horizon, as predicted, had already grabbed each other and were off to planning. White Comet wasn’t in sight. Torque was sitting on his own, unmoved from his previous position. He was obviously expecting somepony to come to him. A few ponies asked Riptide, but he ignored them. However, when a mare asked him, he was very quick to say yes. That’ll be the biggest mistake she ever makes…

Bright Skies was also sitting on her own. It looked like her shyness was preventing her from talking to anypony to get herself paired up. Dash felt really bad for her, as she could sympathize from being friends with a similar pony for so long. She really wanted to do that right thing and go offer her the opportunity to pair up with her, but Dash felt like Bright Skies wouldn’t be able to handle some of the things she had in mind…

Dash suddenly stopped looking for other ponies as she reconsidered Bright Skies. A pony behind her bumped into her at her sudden stop. She apologised without paying much attention and stepped to the side, out of the way of one of the main walkways between the rows of tables and chairs.

A thought had hit her like a tidal wave. Why wasn’t it obvious before? Bright Skies was an author. She was writing her own book. Admittedly, Dash had no idea what it was about, or how good it was. Hell, it could even just be a cover-up for her diary. But it was more than she could ever do. Authors had to be naturally creative, right? So Bright Skies must have a pretty good mindset when it came to creativity. That, and she was also very smart, rivaling Twilight’s IQ in Dash’s opinions. Creativity and intelligence...their combination could produce some amazing moves.

Selling herself the deal, Dash made a U-turn and trotted up to Bright Skies. “Hey, Bright,” she chimed, hoping to radiate a positive vibe. “Wanna team up?” She asked nonchalantly.

Bright Skies hesitated before responding. “Umm...sure!” She agreed, but her flat expression implied she had another question on her mind. “Are you sure?”

“Wouldn’t ask you if I weren’t!” Dash replied before turning. “Come on, let's go practice!” She announced as she trotted to the exit.

Bright Skies was hesitant at first, but instantly warmed up to Dash’s friendliness. She followed her out of the door and to wherever Dash was going. Presumably outside, as that the was the only practical place to practice flight moves.

As they arrived outside, Dash already saw some pegasi practicing or discussing flight patterns. But she didn’t want anypony eavesdropping as much as she could help it. She looked over her shoulder at Bright Skies. “Let’s find a cloud a bit further away, stop other ponies from eavesdropping,” she suggested as she spread her wings. Bright Skies simply followed Dash.

Dash found a cloud that still kept them in sight, but far enough away that they wouldn't be able to be heard discussing their routines. “So, have you got anything you wanna put out there before I start rambling? ‘Cus I’ve got a lotta stuff up here,” Dash said with a chuckle at the end whilst she tapped her forehead.

“Uhh...well...y-you go on ahead,” she hesitated, “I’ll add in when I feel like it.”

Dash didn’t have any problem with that. After all, Bright Skies said it, not her.

“Then a loop-de-loop after the Sonic Rainboom and BAM!” Dash punched the air to further reiterate her point. “The grand finale. Whaddya think?” She beamed as she immediately sat herself back down a little in front of Bright Skies to hear her feedback.

“Well…” Bright Skies stared off to her left and downwards. “I like it, but...can we change the ending?”

“Change? The Sonic Rainboom? My Signature move? Are you nuts!? That’s what’s going to blow everypony’s minds!” She exclaimed, probably a little louder than she should’ve. The mere thought of leaving the Sonic Rainboom out of a performance that she’d be challenged to give her best at made her want to tear her mane out in confusion.

“Not remove it, just change it a little bit…” Bright Skies said a little louder over her outburst.

...Or she could’ve just overreacted.

She plopped herself back down and raised her right eyebrow. “Go on…” She held her forehooves together as she listened.

The way Dash was staring her down made it feel like she was the one judging her. But everything was clear-cut in Bright Skies’ precise, logical mind, which made it easier to speak. Plus, Dash had become one of her good friends over the past few days, which also lowered her nerves.

There was also another determining factor. She interpreted Dash’s controlling nature of this exercise to be very intimidating. However, there was a substantial flaw with her plan, which made her want to fight her fire with her own fire.

The edges of her mouth curled up ever so slightly as she took a deep breath to begin her explanation.

“The delivery of the Sonic Rainboom is flawed. It is flawed in the way that you achieve the velocity to perform the Sonic Rainboom and then perform the turn. To perform a turn at that speeds, the circle would have to take a very wide arc. Which would be fine if we were at least double the altitude, but we’re not. And don’t just say that you can take the turn tighter, because even if you could withstand the G-forces without breaking bones, the G-forces would just knock you out anyway. In order to overcome this problem, you need to initiate the turn before hitting supersonic speeds. That will require less initial force to begin the maneuver, and therefore compensate for the tight radius of the turn. However, this does leave us with another problem. Since you will be turning somewhat, you will be unable to fully utilize your wingpower to create the Sonic Rainboom. To compensate for this, you’re going to have to use a combination of wind and gravity. We’ll set up beforehoof to make sure that we’ll be downwind at the end.”

Bright Skies spoke with much more energy than Dash had previously seen. It was like she had some sort of fire burning inside her waiting to be released. And this was the way she did it.

Dash managed to keep up for the first few words, but the rest might as well have been radio static for her. “I…” she tipped her head to the side, “think I get it…” she raised an eyebrow. “But just in case, could you explain that all again, just in Equestrian this time?”

Bright Skies sighed at the thought of having to repeat herself. But at the same time, she was feeling a warm, tingling sensation in her chest from the feeling of outsmarting somepony who she considered a better flyer than her.

“You can’t Sonic Rainboom and then turn. You need to turn and Sonic Rainboom at the same time, using the wind and gravity to help you get speed.” She said as nonchalantly as she possibly could, hoping her tone would help relay to Dash how simple this really was.

“Ooooh!” Dash chimed as all the pieces of the puzzle slotted together in her head. Why couldn’t have she just said that in the first place? “I get it.”

Finally clearing that up, Bright Skies could move on to the next order of business. “Also, I would like to rearrange a few things. They’re good stunts, but they’re just too...predictable. I think it would have a better effect if we changed a few things around to leave the audience, in this case Soarin, to wondering what’s going to happen next?”

Damn...Bright Skies had a very good point. “So what did you have in mind?” Dash asked, reconsidering her options with her stunts.

“Well…” Bright Skies lowered her hoof into the cloud to engrave into it. “Something like this…”

“Hmm…” Dash rubbed her chin, “so our moves will naturally move the clouds into place as were doing them?”

“That’s right,” Bright Skies replied. “Since the audience will be distracted by our performance, they won’t notice.”

“Subtlety with power…” Dash’s lips slowly formed a grin, “I like it.”

Bright Skies silently breathed a sigh of relief at the reception of her ideas. She was starting to run out of words to explain them to Rainbow Dash. “So, do you want to do some practicing?”

“I know all the moves already, I just need to practice stringing them together like that,” Dash replied, the first thing that she could confidently say she fluently understood in this whole conversation

“Alright, well, I guess we should arrange some clouds and get started,” Bright Skies suggested. “I’ll go look over here,” she said as she flew off.

“Cool, I’ll do the same,” Dash replied as she flew in the opposite direction. As she went on her search, she saw the other cadets gathering their required number of clouds for whatever it was they were doing and practicing their flight manoeuvres. Dash attempted to look around to see if she could take some inspiration for manoeuvres of her own that she could bring back to suggest to Bright Skies. But much to what she expected, nothing was anywhere near as awesome as her moves. At least in her mind anyway. Soarin’s mind might be an entirely different case though…

Their routine didn’t require a huge number of clouds, but the type and consistency was key, which Dash and Bright made sure of as they gathered them.

“Okay then, everything appears to be ready,” Bright Skies said as she made one final adjustment to the positioning of one of the clouds.

“Gotcha,” Dash replied, “this intro sequence is kinda tricky. I wanna get this dialled in.”

“Just don’t fly into each other,” Bright Skies replied, moving onto one of the clouds to begin practicing.

“Sounds like a plan…” Dash added as she did the same.

‘Alright, gradual turn to keep the speed,’ Dash banked around slowly into a dive, picking up her speed but controlling her rate of turn so she took a wide arc. ‘Can’t turn too tight, I need speed for a Sonic Rainboom.’ She wasn’t planning to actually perform the Sonic Rainboom on her practice run, but she wanted to get as close as she could for a more realistic practice.

As she continued the circle, she saw an air cone begin to form around her, indicating that she was nearing supersonic speeds. She held her speed and predicted when she would hit the Sonic Rainboom if she were to continue accelerating, using her past experience as a reference.

She did a few circles before Bright Skies popped out of what seemed out of nowhere, but it was actually what they strategically set up with the clouds in order to make it look like that. She dived towards Rainbow Dash, and at the last minute, they locked their forelegs together and started spinning in a really tight circles. A few grunts escaped them as the G-forces caused by the sudden swing forced the air out of their lungs.

The speed at which they were turning in such a narrow circle starting creating a force that pulled all the clouds towards them and made them all clump up underneath them, forming a floating pedestal. As the energy of the spin eventually died down, they both let gravity take them gently onto the cloud. Dash landed on her back with her hind legs crossed and her forehooves behind her head. Dahlia landed on her belly with her head supported by her forehooves on her chin.

“See...piece of cake…” Dash declared through wheezes as she caught her breath. That bit was maybe a little harder than she first anticipated.

“If this doesn’t...give me a heart attack...I’ll be surprised.” Bright Skies joked through her own wheezes.

Dash bought herself to her hooves and looked around, noticing that there was less ponies than there was before. “How long have we been practicing?”

“Well…” Bright Skies looked at the big clock on the outside of the building. It was used so those who were training outside were able to tell the time. It read 12:30 pm. “Do you think Soarin called us in and we missed it?”

“Nah, we’ve just been practicing for a while. Everypony else probably took a break…” Dash presumed.

“Oh…” Bright Skies contemplated, “maybe we should do the same?” She suggested. It didn’t sound like a bad idea, considering how much they had been training.

“Perhaps,” Dash replied as she took off. “Lets go see what’s going on.”

Bright Skies followed her forwards back towards the building. Much to what Dash presumed, there was a large number of cadets that were just talking amongst their pairs, either discussing the details some more or just simply taking a break from practicing.

“Do you wanna take a break?” Dash asked Bright Skies. She had a thought in the back of her mind that suggested that maybe Bright Skies did, but was too shy to ask

“Uhh...I would like too…” Bright Skies replied, “but if you’d like to keep practicing, that’s fine too…”

“Nah, we could use a little break. Besides, it’s probably nearly time for lunch anyway. Soarin will probably come and call us inside in a minute.” Judging by the time, Rainbow presumed that anyway.

The slower pace as they descended to the cloud in front of the building helped cool them down from all the intense maneuvers they were just performing. Although it would probably double in effort when they did it for real.

They glided down and gently landed on the cloud with a few other ponies. “Well, now we’re thinking about it,” Dash sat down on the cloud, “is there anything else you can think of?”

“Nope, we’re pretty much covered,” Bright Skies replied with a smile as she took a seat next to her.

“So, how’d you find my moves back there?” The egotistical voice of their overly-flirty roommate came from their right side.

“Oh, you had me hanging at every turn,” the voice of a mare replied.

Dash and Bright Skies turned their heads to take a look at what was going on. Riptide was sitting next to a mare with a violet coat and light faded pink center parted mane.

“I bet I did. But there’s plenty more where that came from,” he said whilst leaning back and towards her slightly.

“Like?” The mare asked.

Riptide wrapped his wing around her and gently leaned in. Dash and Bright Skies could see from his mouth moving that he was whispering something. The mare’s pupils dilated and a very visible blush formed on her cheeks. “Well...that sounds like...fun…” her last word had a deeper sound to it.

“Save it for later, after the judging,” Riptide added.

Bright Skies would be lying if she said her jaw wasn’t even slightly parted. “Did...that just happen?” She asked Rainbow Dash.

“Hold on, let me check,” Dash replied as she raised her right hoof as high as it would go then bought it crashing down on top of her head. “Ow!” She groaned as she rubbed the spot on her head that she just hit. “Yep, this isn’t a dream. That definitely just happened.”

“...Wow…” Was the only word that could escape Bright Skies lips. “How d--”

“No idea,” Dash replied, deliberately interrupting as nothing more needed to be said.

As if right on cue, the door to the HQ opened, revealing Soarin. “I’m seeing a lot of interesting things here...” he spoke as he slowly took one step out away from the door. “...but fancy moves will only get you so far.” He said slowly and seriously. “Hope you’ve got something special lined up, because you’re about to prove it. We’ll get lunch now, but we’re performing straight after lunch.” He turned back on himself towards the door. “Let’s not waste time. Come on,” he didn’t bother holding the door open, as there was about to be a load of pegasi behind him coming through behind him anyway.

“Well, I don’t plan on performing on an empty stomach,” Dash said as she stood up and followed her competitors towards the door.

“Agreed,” Bright Skies added as she followed Dash.

As Dash ate lunch with Bright Skies, they tried their best to talk about their routine, but that proved a challenge for Dash with food in front of her. The adrenaline was kicking in and causing her to eat faster and harder than she usually would, to the point where it would almost be considered bad manners. She’d be lying if she said nerves weren’t a factor, but it was mostly adrenaline. It would be the first time that she got to perform HER OWN routines for the Wonderbolts...well, her’s and Bright Skies...but mostly hers...sort of…

Dash almost choked on her last bite, but reached for a swig of water just in time before she joked, successfully unblocking the bit of bread lodged in her throat.

“Lunch over, it’s time! Ready or not!” Soarin shouted as he motioned towards the door.

Dash slowly inhaled and exhaled to calm herself slightly as she got ready to do nothing but her best. Anything less would be unacceptable. This was the moment she would wow them and earn herself the most points. She could feel it.

She walked so fast she was almost dragging Bright Skies with her. Bright Skies was trying her best to keep up with Dash, but her legs were shorter than hers. That, and Dash was pushing past ponies to get to the front. Bright Skies didn’t feel comfortable doing that. Was was the rush anyway? They would all get their fair chance.

“Line up with your partner's, first come first served! I’ll give you a few minutes to get prepped.” Soarin instructed as he unfolded a chair and took a seat, clipboard and pen in hooves.

"Aww yeah! Our time to shine, Bright!" Dash exclaimed as she raced towards the front, but hesitated after the first few steps as she didn't get a response. "Bright?" She looked over her shoulder.

"Ooh sorry, pardon me, sorry, sorry, ooh, sorry." Bright Skies was getting swamped by the stampede of pegasi trying to form a somewhat orderly line. Whilst Dash had a more aggressive approach when it came to getting a place in line, Bright Skies was simply too modest to do that. She was more than happy to get in whatever place she ended up in. They would all have a fair chance after all.

Dash groaned a little under her breath as she hovered a few feet into the air to avoid the pegasi she would otherwise be walking against. "C'mon Bright!" Dash groaned as she grabbed her hoof and pulled her through. Her logic was the more she pulled Bright Skies out of her comfort zone, the more confident and assertive she would eventually become.

Dash sighed as the rush finally halted. They were a lot further back than they wanted to be (or rather Dash wanted to be), but on the bright side, she would be able to watch a few performances before them, so she could get a judgement on how good the competition was.

Over the course of the few ponies in front of them performing, some of them actually had really good routines, full of all types of tricks. Some of them didn’t do much more than flybys, which was...well, to Dash, it was almost depressing for her to watch. They had been given all this time to come up with a flight routine and all they could come up with was a lousy flyby? It looked cool, if you had nothing to prove...but...that’s kinda the reason they’re here…

Dash squinted as the sky in front of her just became a lot clearer. A pony was blocking their view, but he had just gone. Meaning...they were now at the front of the line! Dash rolled her shoulders a little to relax herself. Her brain started going through a solution to every problem it could think of. The anticipation sure was getting her adrenaline pumping.

“Nervous?” Bright Skies squeaked out. If anything, she was the exact opposite of Dash. Nervous as hell, her tension so thick it could be cut with a knife. But she found making conversation eased the pressure in these situations, which is why she started talking to Dash.

“Nah,” Dash shrugged off, “just excited.”

They paid close attention to the pair that were performing in front of them. Despite the usual flying tricks, one thing stood out most of all; either one or both of them were REALLY good at cloud art. Making all different shapes and sculptures in the midst of their routine.

“Nice, nice…” Soarin was being a stallion of few words today. Dash was almost certain that it was all an act. He did say that he was serious when needed to be though. This could be what he meant. She just didn’t expect his personality to take such a huge swing in the opposite direction.

After he had finished writing, he looked at Dash and Bright Skies and flicked his head to tell them to step forward. Rainbow and Bright complied and took a few steps forward until they were only a few feet away. Rainbow did her best to hold a straight face. She had to remember that at the moment he wasn’t her friend. He was her judge. An obstacle she would have to overcome to reach her dream.

“So, Rainbow Dash and Bright Skies?” He began, writing on his clipboard. “Let’s see how this goes…” he finished writing and looked up, “You’ve got ten minutes to prepare. Show me what you’ve got.”

Bright and Dash nodded and took off in unison. They arranged the clouds in the patterns that they had agreed on. After telling Soarin they were ready, he instructed them to go on their mark.

Dash calmed herself even more as much as she could before beginning. She’d done it plenty of times before, but the thought of being judged by Soarin was bringing her nerves to the surface. She could NOT afford to screw this up.

Dash and Bright flew besides each other in unison towards the onlooking crowd. As they reached them, Dash suddenly pulled a huge climb whilst Bright continued on her path. She pumped her wings hard to fight gravity as much as she could. But she knew she would eventually stall. That was her plan.

As her speed slowly decreased before she eventually reached a standstill in midair, she released the tension on her wings and let herself glide down, angling her wings so they would deliberately start putting her into a spin. She span towards the ground under gravity's own will, picking up speed.

As the audience was captivated by Dash’s display, wondering how and when she would recover from the spin. She had plenty of altitude, and it wasn’t the hardest stall in the world. A foal could get out of it. But why wasn’t she? What was she planning?

Whilst all thoughts were on Dash, Bright Skies appeared from below them and raced upwards towards where Rainbow was falling from. She maintained her spin and Bright passed right through her center of rotation. With that part of the routine now out of the way, Dash narrowed her wings and recovered herself from the spin, picking up some more speed before flowing down to the cloud and flying just a few feet from their heads, trailing a strong breeze that ruffled everypony’s manes behind her.

The two of them separated in opposite directions but into a series of clouds that made up a course that was mirrored on either side. As they begun going through all the twists and turns, they did their best to keep an eye on each other. The technique to making this look good was to do it as perfectly in sync as they could. It was very difficult, but if they pulled it off, it would represent their incredible skill in synchronised flying.

As they came out of the final turn, they headed towards each other, but with about half a pony’s width gap between them. As they closed to a couple of feet, they extended their right forelegs and locked them with each other, using their centrifugal force to change direction. Since Dash was a much bigger pony than Bright, it had less of an effect on her and more of an effect on Bright. Whilst Dash started heading upwards, she sent Bright downwards towards the ground, rapidly gaining speed.

Bright Skies flew down and underneath the cloud the audience was standing on. However they didn’t bother themselves too much when Bright went out of vision, as they just shifted their attention to Rainbow Dash above them, climbing high.

‘Okay, time to go,’ Dash thought as she turned herself around so her back was facing the ground, then began a gentle turn to prepare for her circular Sonic Rainboom.

She continued to accelerate and turn at the same time and in what seemed like no time at all, she saw the air cone starting to form around her. She had a brief look around to see if she could spot Bright Skies. However she didn’t pay too much attention as she had her own things to concentrate on.

The wind resistance pushed against her, but she pushed harder, determined to break through it no matter what. With a final flap of her wings, she briefly saw her forehooves past through its apex before it flew right by her, emitting a loud sonic boom and leaving a trail of rainbows in her wake.

Dash clenched her right foreleg briefly before realising that she still had the vertical circle manoeuvre to hold. Completing the Sonic Rainboom always left her with a feeling of satisfaction. She had to push herself so hard to get herself to supersonic speeds, but when she finally did, it was like a parachute holding her back had just been cut, letting her run free.

She performed another loop before Bright Skies came into her peripheral vision at a rapid rate. She couldn’t quite figure out the closing distance, but not taking any chances, she extended her forehooves to give Bright Skies something to latch on to.

Bright Skies locked forehooves with Dash and, using each other’s centrifugal force, starting spinning around at incredibly fast speeds, using their wings to change the orientation of the spin from vertical to horizontal. The resulting suction force of creating a mini tornado pulled all the clouds they had previously been using towards them, forming a big pile of cloud beneath them. As their inertia slowly began to wind down, they eventually lost enough to prevent them from staying airborne, and plopped down onto the cloud beneath them.

The cloud didn’t form evenly, and therefore had an uneven surface to it, making their landing a bit awkward. But they still managed to pull off the positions they practiced, with Dash on her back with her hind legs crossed and her forehooves behind her head, and Bright Skies landing in front of her on her belly with her head supported by her forehooves. They held their finishing position as they looked at Soarin sitting in front of them.

Soarin held his expression as he started writing on his clipboard. “So that’s the Sonic Rainboom that I was knocked out before I could see last time.” Despite his serious expression, he spoke in a very friendly manner.

Dash chuckled, immediately picking up that he was referencing the incident at the Young Fliers Competition. Glancing below her briefly, she saw that Bright Skies was looking up at her with a confused look. “Tell ya later,” she said quietly as her focus returned to Soarin, waiting for him to finish writing.

“Nice going you two,” Soarin said as he finished writing and looked into the line. “Next,” he instructed as the next pair of Pegasi walked up to him.

Dash and Bright Skies gave the clouds a few kicks to disperse them, then got out of the way of the next pair preparing.

“Yaay!” Dash suddenly felt a set of forelegs wrap around her neck. “We knocked that one outta the park, don’t ‘cha think Dash?” The volume at which Bright Skies spoke, combined with her mouth’s proximity to Dash’s left ear, made it feel like her eardrum was going to rattle out of its mountings.

Judging by the way Dash’s body froze up when she pounced on her, Bright Skies immediately presumed the obvious. “Oh. Right…” she slowly backed off and looked away. “Too soon? Too close?”

“Nah, no problems...I just wasn’t expecting it at all…” Dash explained. She seriously wasn’t expecting such an exciting response from Bright Skies. In fact, she was probably the last pony Dash would’ve expected to react like that.

“Oh...hehe…” Bright Skies nervously chuckled whilst covering her face to hide her blush, despite the flight suit doing a good job of that already. She just did it out of habit.

They took their places to the sidelines to watch the remainder of the airshows. A good half of them actually impressing Dash, which was quite a feat in her book. There was a number of screw-ups, but to Dash, that was just the amateurs trying to impress, and failing at it. How Soarin would see it, however, was up to him. As it did show that they were trying to challenge themselves.

They even got a musical duet from Crash Dive and Horizon. Dash wasn’t sure what she was least expecting. The fact that they did a musical air show, or the fact that they were actually AMAZING singers.

“Welp, that’s the last of ‘em.” Soarin said as he stood up from his chair. “Some good performances, some not so good,” he commented as he folded the chair back up. “Go get some rest. I’ve got some math to do.” He finished as he started walking off with the chair under his wing.

Dash followed the crowd into the shower, tossing her flight suit into the basket. She walked into the first shower unit avaliable, feeling quite proud of her and Bright Skies’ performance.

“Well, they say seeing is believing, am I right? That looked great!” The familiar voice of Dahlia appeared to the left of her.

Dash brushed her mane back to look at Dahlia, still trying to process what you meant. “Uh...what?” She replied with.

“The Sonic Rainboom,” Dahlia assisted.

“Oh!” Her words made Dash recall what she said when they first met. She’d heard about the Sonic Rainboom, but not actually seen it. “Yeah. Pretty cool, huh?”

“Pretty cool? You made a rainbow explosion out of thin air. ‘Pretty cool’ doesn’t even come close to it!” Dahlia continued to praise. “Hey, did you see that mare with Riptide earlier?”

Dash snorted as Dahlia bought it up. “I thought the exact same thing,” she replied, knowing that she wouldn’t have to give any context, as they both clearly knew it already.

Dahlia casually pointed over her shoulder, as if she was trying to make it not seem obvious that she was pointing. “She’s over there.”

Dash looked in the direction Dahlia was pointing. She had just turned the shower off and was getting ready to leave. She obviously wasn’t keen on wasting any time in here. But despite all the bashing they were going to give to Riptide… “she actually looks…”

“Respectable,” Dahlia finished off for Dash. “I know. I was expecting somepony who looks as scruffy as him with the brains of him.”

“I don’t think they exist,” Dash joked with her. “But seriously, they were getting kind of...close…” She said for lack of a better word.

“Yeah...I hope Riptide doesn’t do anything stupid…” Dahlia said.

“Well, I hate to disappoint ya, but…” Dash didn’t need to say anymore, as Dahlia easily finished the joke in her head, making them both chuckle. “Were you expecting that song from Horizon and Crash Dive?”

“To be frank, I wasn’t expecting that at all.” Dahlia replied, “we need to find out how they got such good singing voices.”

Dash shrugged, “you’ll never get a straight answer. I’ve already figured that out.”

They both exchanged a few more words before they finished in the showers and headed back to their room. Where they found Crash Dive, Horizon, Torque, Bright Skies and White Comet waiting for them.

“Alright, so how did you two get such good singing voices?” Dahlia asked as she walked over to her bed.

“We’ve always been good at it,” Crash Dive added.

Dash chuckled as she walked by Torque, who was preening. “Didn’t see you giving us much eye-candy out there, Torque.” She questioned, referring to his flight routine with his partner.

Torque spat a feather out before speaking. “I have no interest in showing off,” he said simply before returning his attention to his right wing.

“Well...isn’t that...kinda what the Wonderbolts do?” Dash replied, confused by his answer. Although she wouldn’t say the Wonderbolts showed off. They definitely had the skills to back it up. As did she, whenever somepony accused her of ‘showing off’.

“I know,” Torque mumbled with his mouthful.

Yet another confusing answer for Dash. She decided to leave it be before her brain started hurting too much. “Right…” was her last word before she headed off to her bed, seeing White Comet opposite her as she took her seat. “You like twisty things, don’t ya Comet?” She said as she laid back on her bed.

Comet was just finishing off his preening as he looked at her. “Well, it shows my precision. I thought that would impress Soarin. And that’s all I thought about really. It took a little explaining to my partner, but he agreed.

“Heh…” Dash chuckled. “When you put it like that, I guess it does sound pretty easy…”

Her thoughts trailed off about the conclusion of today. She was by far left with the most satisfaction she had ever felt so far about her days at the Wonderbolts trials. She got to design and perform her own routine. What more could prove her worth?

Her thoughts were interrupted at the sound of her stomach growling. She looked over at the clock, confirming it was almost dinner time. She would just have to wait a little while…

Soarin had finally finished compiling his list of knockouts for today, which was a lot easier than he anticipated. If he was judging their overall performance over the past few days, then it might’ve been a bit harder, but since it was just for his test, it made it a lot easier. Simple fly-by’s just aren’t gonna cut it. Some even crashed on their attempt, completely blowing it.

Soarin ripped the page out of his notebook and left his office, locking the door behind him. He wrote all the names on the chalkboard, then scrunched up and discarded the paper in a bin on his way to the canteen to get his dinner.

The chilli con carne being served tonight, despite looking like it had been left out for a few days, actually smelled really good. And to top it off, apple pie for dessert! He sure had hit the jackpot tonight. After dumping some of the crimson coloured gloup on top of a pile of rice, and a an extra generous slice of apple pie to boot, he made his way over to the private dining area for the Wonderbolts.

“So Soarin, how did today go? It sounded great,” Fleetfoot said as Soarin took a seat next to her.

“Well,” Soarin began, placing his tray on the glazed wooden table in front of him. “Better than I expected. WAY better.”

“I was watching out of my office window taking notes,” Lighting Streak added in. “No, seriously,” he said as he revealed a notebook sitting on his lap full of doodles and notes, making a few of his teammates laugh.

“It did appear to be a lot more relevant to what we are seeking,” the refined tone of Silver Lining added.

The conversation carried on around Soarin without the need for his input. They were all free to see his notes anyway, so he just presumed that most of his teammates had already read them.

Although he wasn’t really paying attention to that part of the conversation. In fact, he wasn’t really paying attention at all. His mind was far away from all the Wonderbolts. The conversation felt like one he’d had a million times before. Not that he was complaining about that, since these were his best friends in the whole universe, and he wouldn’t change their company for anything.

But that’s just what had him confused. He couldn’t quite put his hoof on what exactly it was, but for the lack of a better explanation, it was almost like he was bored of the company of his teammates. Or at the very least, seeking a change. A change in what? He wasn’t sure. The ponies? No, not at all. These ten ponies around the table with him pretty much were his life. He’d happily follow them through hell and back, probably laughing and cheering all the way. The problem definitely wasn’t them.

Which only raised more questions. He’d only started noticing this feeling ever since the start of the trials. Something happened to diminish the spark...or at least move it somewhere else...what was it…?

“Hellllloooooo! Equestria to Soarin!”

“Ahh!” Soarin jumped so much at the sight of Surprise’s face only inches away from his he almost dumped his dinner all over his lap.

“You were off in another world there, bro. Everything okay?” Lightning Streak asked.

“Yeah, yeah, sorry, I was just...thinking…” Soarin replied. “Uhh…” he tried to recall the conversation, but...he had nothing. Just how long had he been out of it? “Who was...asking what?” He asked awkwardly to bring himself up to speed.

“Keep up, Soarin!” Spitfire snapped at him, “I asked what you thought of Dash’s Sonic Rainboom as you were passed out last time it happened?”

Rainbow Dash? Just the very mention of her name made Soarin feel a hell of a lot more interested. “It looks amazing as we were told. A rainbow explosion across the sky. Except she managed to pull it off this time whilst maintaining a perfect circle. Which considering the amount of G’s she must’ve been pulling is a huge feat. It says a lot about her fitness…”

“Hmm, yes, I’m sure taken extra details about her fitness, haven’t you, Soar?” Blaze said, causing a few snickers from her surrounding teammates.

Soarin chuffed at what she was implying. “Hilarious,” he replied sarcastically.

“I am, aren’t I?” Blaze said with a smug grin whilst rubbing her chest.
“So Blaze, what have you and Surprise got in store for them tomorrow?” Soarin changed the subject. Despite the other things he had on his mind, he would have to do his best to keep up with the conversation. He didn’t want to be caught daydreaming again.