• Published 24th Jun 2012
  • 12,130 Views, 377 Comments

LOYALTY - Crowne Prince



Rainbow Dash and Soarin's friendship turns out to be one heck of a wild ride and a whole lot more.

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3 - rd time's a charm

Grrr! Rainbow Dash stomped a hole in the cirrus cloud. Why can’t I do this move right?! It just doesn’t make sense! I’ve done it twice now, but I can never pull it off when I want to on purpose.

Rainbow Dash snorted and pawed the ground. Just watch, I’ll get it right this time! She jerked up into the sky, threw a foreleg out for speed, grit her teeth,and got to the part where her eyes were burning. The resistance in front of her grew. It got too hard to move forward. Her extended leg buckled; it felt like stomping a brick wall, or when you expected there to be one more stair at the bottom of the staircase and there wasn’t.

Waves of force crashed into Rainbow Dash’s legs and face, throwing her towards the ground again. Clouds spun by in random patterns as she tried to steady her aching wings. Whatever, I can take this! Irritated, Rainbow Dash activated the pegasus magic and slammed hard on her side into a cloud. Her breath whooshed out of her. She managed to gasp and stumble to her feet before collapsing and having to stand again. Okay, maybe that wasn’t the best plan I’ve ever had.

The tactic of doing the same thing multiple times and expecting a different outcome was not working. It was time to figure out a new angle of attack. Maybe Fluttershy knows what I’m doing wrong. Some pony is bound to have seen what I did to pull off the Sonic Rainboom at the Best Young Flyer competition.

Rainbow Dash tested her wings before hopping off the cloud and gliding towards the edge of the forest where Fluttershy lived. She didn't bother to use the little cottage tree's doormat. Without leaving the air she tapped once on the door.

Fluttershy opened it a crack and peeped outside. “Oh, Rainbow Dash, you’re back.” Fluttershy opened the door all the way and stepped aside. “I can talk to you now, but you have to promise to keep quiet so we don’t wake Mr. Jay.”

“Okay okay, I promise,” Rainbow Dash said as she brushed past Fluttershy.

“Well, um,” Fluttershy pawed at the ground, avoiding Rainbow Dash’s gaze. “What was it you wanted to ask about?”

“Forget the thing earlier. I don’t remember what it was.” The blue pegasus started flying slow circles around the room. “It’s just that I’ve been trying to do my greatest move again, and it’s not working. I’ve tried everything! I’ve flied up, down, and sideways. I’ve closed my eyes. I’ve imagined I’m racing the Wonderbolts,” Rainbow Dash’s voice was starting to reach a squeaky hysteria. Fluttershy raised a hoof to her mouth and made a shhh motion.

She lowered her voice. “Oops. Well, I thought maybe you saw how I did it. What am I missing?”

“Oh, well,” Fluttershy started, surprised at the realization that her friend couldn’t perform the move at will. “Maybe you need to do something special beforehand. Perhaps you have to be thinking about something?” Fluttershy looked down. “Never mind, that sounds silly. I’m sorry.”

“No, it’s okay.” Rainbow Dash’s energy from before disappeared.

“But I don’t want to let you down. Did you try talking to Twilight?”

“Twilight? Why would I talk to her? She’s not even a pegasus!”

“Well no, but she was there too, and she’s much more observant than I am,” came the hushed response. Rainbow Dash’s ears perked up.

“You could be right. Thanks Fluttershy!” All that was left of Rainbow Dash was a breeze.

“You’re welcome,” Fluttershy said to the empty room, eyes round. How did Rainbow Dash move so fast?

- - -

For the second time that day, Rainbow Dash found herself at the library. Twilight had her face in her hoof. “Ugh, Rainbow, why can’t you use the door like every other pony? And I just fixed this window after Derpy crashed through it yesterday.” Fragments of glass floated in a purple aura, slowly piecing back into the window pane.

“Sorry, I thought it was open!” Rainbow Dash heard Twilight mumble something like ‘I heard that yesterday, too.’ “Anyway, I wanted to see if you could give me some tips on my Sonic Rainboom. Did you see how I was flying when I did it at the Best Young Flyer competition?”

Twilight laughed nervously. “No, actually, I couldn’t look because I got scared when I saw Rarity fall like that. If she’d been hurt, it would’ve been my fault.”

“Oh…” Rainbow Dash looked stunned for a brief moment. Then she said, “So now what am I supposed to do? Do you know anything about flying, Twilight?”

“Of course I do! Much of flying is based off of physics. Your Sonic Rainboom, for example, is the result of a rupture in the sound speed barrier. It all begins with the discovery of sound waves…”

Rainbow Dash allowed her friend to continue her scientific monologue and looked around the library. The thought that maybe the only thing that could help her was tucked away in one of the obscure textbooks made her want to groan.

“…catches up to the speed of the sounds it is emitting and–”

“Hey Twilight, what’s that?” Rainbow Dash pointed at the huge spell scroll resting on Twilight’s balcony. The purple unicorn was unfazed by the topic switch. She trotted over to one end of the scroll. “It’s a spell for this year’s Summer Sun Celebration. The festival is on the same day as the Wonder Trial this year, isn’t it? Rainbow?” But the pegasus had long since fled. Nopony was going to help her with her flying.

Twilight sighed. “And I was just getting to the good part.”

- - -

Over the next few days, Rainbow Dash continued to practice her routine. I must just be out of shape after getting stuck for all that time in the hospital, she thought. After a lot of practice the Sonic Rainboom was completely, absolutely, without a doubt… impossible.

Rainbow Dash landed on a stratus cloud after the umpteenth failure that afternoon. “FAIL!” she shouted into the sky. “What am I doing wrong?!” The pegasus threw a miniature tirade on her fluffy platform. “Come on Rainbow Dash, focus.” She tapped her head with her hoof. “Focus. Just calm down and do it. This time. This time, for sure.”

She drew up every ounce of determination she had and went for it. She was on the verge of tears from the physical and mental strain caused by the aggravating frustration of repeated failure. If she didn’t succeed this time, she would probably cry. That was fine, so long as no pony was around to see it.

How unfortunate for her.

~~~

Rainbow Dash was completely oblivious to him, Soarin’ thought. That was fine with him, as this type of evaluation was supposed to be done in secrecy. Er, well, if it was actually an evaluation at all. Really Soarin’ had just used talent spotting as an excuse to slack off and watch her fly while eating the tasty local apple treats. And boy, did Ponyville have the best apple fritters. They were easier to fit into saddlebags than a whole pie, too. Soarin’ grinned broadly. He was back to his normal self.

He wished he could say the same for the pegasus he was watching now. All of her other moves were fine, but she kept trying to break the sound barrier and failing. Soarin’ smiled sympathetically as he heard her throwing another tantrum, although he was a little worried. The mare’s high speed move lacked professional instruction and training. To top it off, she didn't have a teammate nearby in case something went wrong. Soarin’ ignored that piece of common sense all the time, but he at least knew the risks he was taking when he practiced alone.

His short train of thought was enough time for Rainbow Dash to recover and rocket off again. He saw the sound cone form around her, saw she still wasn’t putting her hooves forward the right way, and grimaced as she was flung away. Cottony puffs of cloud swished up and settled around the sky-blue pegasus like so much dust.

She had crash-landed nearby this time. Soarin’ held his breath and crouched down. He couldn’t move now or she would see him for sure, if she would only open her eyes.

She did. They snapped open, liquid magenta pools of fire burning angrily at him.

Soarin’ expected her to hiss, “How long have you been watching me?” When she didn't say anything he realized her gaze wasn’t focused on him. The anger was at herself for being defeated yet again. Soarin’ waited for her to jump up and go back to her usual level of energy, but it never came.

Instead, he watched her determination die.

He saw the fire go out of her eyes. Their narrowed anger smoothed into a hopeless, empty gaze. Exactly how many times had she tried this move and not made it? Many more times than the ones he had seen, he knew. Enough times to shatter even the most impeccable spirit. Rainbow Dash lay sprawled and unmoving on the cloud. Tears welled up in her eyes.

Not on his watch. A flash of wings, a streak of blue and he was standing tall on the cloud beside the crestfallen pegasus. Soarin’ would not stand by while a promising flyer destroyed themselves. None of the Wonderbolts would.

Rainbow Dash’s eyes cleared up the instant she knew somepony was there. She sprang to her feet, brushed off her front legs, and smoothed the tuft of mane crowning her head. “Heh. Just another crash landing. Happens all the time.”

Then she placed him. “S-Soarin’?! Oh, geeze, you didn’t see that just now – I mean – agh, pony feathers!” Before he could respond, she was off. “Wait, why are you here? Any place in Equestria you could be, and you’re here? Standing on a cloud? Where’s your uniform? You’re not here for the Wonderbolts, I mean, the Wonderbolt’s aren’t…”

“Hey, relax. I’m just passing through,” he said. Rainbow Dash uttered a sigh of relief. “But I did see you flying.”

“Oh, that? You saw that? That was nothing. Heh, I’d be able to do a Sonic Rainboom any day of the week, just not today. I sprained my wing clearing the sky this morning.”

Soarin’ grinned at the probable lie. He resisted the urge to raise an eyebrow. “Great! Then I’ll just be on my way. You don’t need to die of boredom listening to how a Wonderbolt flies.” Soarin’ turned around and made as if to take off, but the rainbow pegasus was already standing in front of him, blocking the way.

“Wait. You mean you were going to show me how to do it?” Her eyes shone with stars. It was the unmistakable look in the eyes of a pony who had discovered their true passion, something that was incredibly rare.

“You bet.” Soarin’ folded his wings in. Had he known Pinkie Pie, he would have classified the smile spreading on Rainbow Dash’s face as a smile-smile-smile. “You’re gonna kick yourself when you realize what the trick is,” he said.

Soarin’ reared up and balanced on his back legs. “It’s this. Instead of one hoof,” he mimicked what Rainbow Dash had been doing, which was a traditional way to build speed that favored a flyer’s stronger side, “put out both.” He extended both legs before falling back to all hooves. “Other than that, it’s just a matter of crazy fast speed.”

He couldn’t resist the temptation to show off, not with a pony grinning like that at him. “Like… this!”

Soarin’ shoved off the cloud and raced away until Rainbow Dash was a speck in the sky behind him. He looped back towards her, and then went into full throttle force.

When was the last time he did this? It felt great. He wished he had his goggles though; his eyes were tearing up. The wind burned his coat and whistled in his ears. He felt for the barrier of pressure in front of him, ignored the pain, and honed his attack.

Now! He flared his wings to full extent at the dead exact moment. A deafening boom roared out around him and shards of light in the shape of his outstretched wings erupted into a huge winged sigil in the sky. Thunderwings. A little hard to see during the day, though.

Opening his wings like that made him lose speed. As planned he landed neatly where he had taken off. No doubt every pony in a ten mile radius would be looking this way right now.

Rainbow Dash’s jaw was almost level with the cloud. “What was that?

“It’s a night performance maneuver. We don’t use it much because it’s way more exciting when no pony expects it.” The other reason was that it was exhausting. He’d forgotten that part and was remembering now. “I should go.” Soarin’ turned and frowned. Guess that’s the end of sneaking out to hang around on clouds all day.

“Hey, wait.”

Oh man, Soarin’ groaned inwardly. This is the part where I get challenged to a race and lose. There’s no way I can fly fast enough in this state.

“You still like pie, right?”

Soarin’ was thrown off guard. “Like pie? I love pie!” …As long as I don’t have to race for it this time, he hoped.

~~~

Rainbow Dash enjoyed Soarin’s enthusiasm. Even though he tried to look tough, she was no summer filly. She could tell he was worn out. She still remembered how she felt after the Sonic Rainboom at the Best Young Flyer competition. Come to think of it, she knew how she felt now: dead tired. She had spat out the first thing she could think of to keep him from flying off. Pie.

Good thing I know someone who can actually make the stuff. “Let’s go get pie then. Follow me.” Rainbow Dash left no room for protest and took off immediately. She forced herself to keep her speed reasonable, like when she was with Fluttershy.

I can’t believe this is actually happening. Her brain felt like the thick chocolate soup Pinkie Pie made them all taste test one time. Shoot. What if it’s one of those crazy dreams again? Is he still following me?

The two pegasi flew to Sweet Apple Acres. Being in the sky made it easy to scout out Applejack.

Or not – since she didn’t appear to be outside. However, before Rainbow Dash landed, she spotted Applejack inside the Apple family home kitchen. She did so through a pegasus-sized hole in the roof.

Derpy!...

Rainbow Dash hovered by the hole and shouted down at Applejack. “Hey AJ, can you whip up an apple pie for me? Speedy-like.” Rainbow clack-clacked her hooves together.

Applejack was used to having sudden, unexpected yelling matches with RD, so she wasn’t particularly surprised to have one now through the hole in her roof. She looked up towards her friend. “What, righ’ now? Whaddya need a pie for all of a sudden anyway?” At that moment, Soarin’ flew into view.

“O-K, now you’ve got me!” Applejack blinked a few times. “Hey, ain’t you the one who stopped by my cart at the Grand Galloping Gala?”

“What?” Rainbow Dash squeaked. “You got to talk to a Wonderbolt and you didn’t even tell me?!”

“Whoops. Sorry RD, I plum forgot is all, what with you destroying the princesses’ statue that night and all.” Rainbow Dash covered her humiliated expression. “But anyway, les forget about that and Ah’ll see if we’ve got anythin here for you. Why don’t you go out an wait by the family picnic table, so we can stop yelling at each other through the roof? Trust me, ya don't want to wake ol' Granny Smith up from her nap.”

Rainbow Dash flapped over to the indicated place. She noticed Soarin’s eyes widen when he saw the ‘picnic table,’ which was more like a banquet table at a fancy buffet. “Applejack’s kinda got a huge family,” she said.

The two ponies waited awkwardly in silence for what seemed like forever to Rainbow Dash. Her mind raced the entire six minutes.

Applejack brought out a toasty apple pie and set it on the table before speaking. “Well now, I almost couldn’t find you. RD’s never been this quiet her entire life.”

Rainbow Dash shot Applejack a look and haphazardly tossed a pile of bits on the table.

"Thank ya kindly.” Applejack scooped up the bits in a quick, professional sweep. There were too many for the price of the pie, but Rainbow Dash was careless with her money like that. Applejack figured it evened out over all.

"Y'all better be careful with that pie. It's pipin' hot right outta the oven." Applejack pushed aside her curiosity about what a Wonderbolt was doing around these parts and trotted off to eat her own lunch.

Rainbow Dash and Soarin stared at the pie. Actually, Rainbow Dash had just realized there was no tasteful way to slice the pie. How the heck were ponies supposed to eat pie, anyway? She looked at her hooves and the lack of silverware, which, had there been any, would not have been useful anyway. Whose brilliant idea was this again?

"O-on second thought, I'm not hungry." She pushed the pie towards Soarin'. "You can have it."

"You sure?" he asked. Rainbow Dash nodded. "Thanks."

Rainbow Dash was secretly hoping Soarin' would eat the pie with his whole face like last time, but perhaps because this pie had not just survived a horrible, squishy pie death, Soarin' ate it slowly from the outside in, starting by nibbling at the crust.

Rainbow Dash nabbed an apple off a tree to avoid sitting awkwardly with nothing to do. Munching on the apple helped distract her from the surreal feeling that Soarin' was more, well, real. She idolized the Wonderbolts, but it was one thing to know their habits, likes, and dislikes by reading them out of magazines, and another completely different thing to actually get to know them by spending time with them. Her past two encounters with Soarin’ had been brief, and always in the company of his fellow ‘Bolts and her own friends.

The two managed to eke out some casual conversation. How the weather had been for flying lately. What their friends were like. Gossip as to where Princess Luna was all the time. Okay, so the last one wasn’t typical casual conversation, but the Princess came up when Soarin’ mentioned he had seen her return to the castle to raise the moon one night.

Rainbow Dash: "I bet she has a secret lair under the castle."

Soarin': "Nah, Spitfire is certain she flies the night skies and terrorizes little ponies who stay up too late."

It was actually pretty cool to meet the real pegasus behind the celebrity. Soarin' had never been Rainbow Dash’s favorite (right now it was Fleetfoot), and she actually felt a little guilty about it now. His moves weren't spectacular like Spitfire's or swift like Rapidfire's... but now that she thought on it, she'd never seen Soarin fly at night. She had a feeling he got top marks in that category.

The conversation wrapped up. Soarin' nodded at the sky. "I've got to head back. Thanks for the pie. I won't forget." He flashed a smile.

"Hey Soarin'." Rainbow Dash extended a hoof. "Friends?"

Their hooves clacked together. "Why not? Friends."

- - -


“Best day ever!” Rainbow Dash was with her five closest pals later that evening, walking around town.

“I thought ya might say that,” Applejack said with a smug expression.

Twilight, on the other hoof, was skeptical. “I dunno Rainbow. Doesn’t it seem strange to you that a Wonderbolt was just wandering around Ponyville?”

Rarity chimed in. “Well he did just say he was passing through. I dare say that may have been the case, especially if he was not wearing the uniform.”

“Who cares?” Rainbow Dash hopped into the air. “It was, on a scale of one to ten in radicalness, one hundred. I can’t believe he even gave me a flying tip – and it works! I tried it out this afternoon.”

“We noticed.” The friends said in chorus.

“So did every pony from here to Fillydelphia,” Twilight said. The rainbow wave had been visible for miles. “Doesn’t doing that make you tired?”

“Exhausted! But I’m not gonna let that stop me. I’m incorporating my Sonic Rainboom into my routine for the Wonder Trial this year.”

Pinkie Pie gasped and shoved her face into Rainbow Dash’s own just as the pegasus touched the ground again. “What?? That’s invitation only. Did you finally get an invitation? Didjadidjadidja?”

Rainbow Dash pushed Pinkie’s face away. “Well… no.” Pinkie Pie frowned and her ears flopped down.

Applejack said, “In all honesty, I dun know why those ponies haven’t invited ya before. Every pony in these parts who gives an apple about flying knows yer one ’a the best.”

“Y-yeah.” Rainbow Dash laughed nervously, trying not to think about the old invitations hidden in a horseshoe box at home.

“Although your teamwork could use a little polishing,” Twilight stated, ignoring Rainbow Dash’s indignant ‘Hey!’ “Though I’m sure they’ll invite you this year. There’s simply no way they would ignore you after the last Best Young Flyer competition.” Twilight smiled just as she stopped in front of her home. “Oh, looks like we’re here. My, how the time flies. Goodnight!” Before any pony could say anything, Twilight slipped inside the library and closed the door.

“Aw shucks, she just wants ta work on that nifty spell o’ hers to impress the Princess. Bet she’ll be at it all night too.”

Twilight would make a great athlete if the only quills and parchment in Equestria were waiting at the end of the track.

The group split apart and soon each of them (save Twilight) were tucked snugly in their beds for the night. As she drifted off, Rainbow Dash revisited the moment where she shook Soarin’s hoof.