• Published 24th Jun 2012
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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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4 - Geeze Soarin'

“Come on Soarin’, focus. You threw the formation off again. One or two times is understandable, but this isn’t like you!” Rapidfire landed next to Soarin’ after the umpteenth Wonderworks failure that evening. The move was supposed to create six points of shining, sparkling light that drizzled down in the sky, but Soarin’ kept reaching the focal point either late or early. A sole light sparkler rained down a noticeable five seconds after the other five.

Spitfire joined them. “Lay off him Rapids,” Spitfire teased. “He’s just brooding because he doesn’t get to go eat fritters and watch pretty fillies fluttering around all day.” Soarin’ opened his mouth to protest, but Spitfire beat him to it. “Even if it is Rainbow Dash.” Now he cursed the guilty expression on his face. “Anyway, we’re all gonna call it a night, since some pony needs to work on performing with others.”

Rapidfire sidled up to Soarin’. “You already know we’ll probably invite her again this year, but she’ll have to show up, and even then it’ll take a while for her to fly with a team.” Rapidfire scratched his curly, silver-gray mane. “She’s got a horrible ego.”

Spitfire grinned. “Reminds me of somepony.”

Soarin’ grinned back. “Yeah. You.”

“Oh brother,” muttered Rapidfire.

Spitfire laughed. “Okay, you got me this time. I can afford to take a hit. Score?” In the background, Soarin’ celebrated with a Yesssss!

“Twenty-one to thirty-seven,” said Rapidfire. “If you two quit hurling insults at each other and started using your brains, I wouldn’t have to keep track.”

“There wouldn’t be a score if we didn’t throw insults,” Soarin’ pointed out. “Besides, I’m going to win for sure this time!”

Rapidfire cracked a hopeless smile. “You said that the last seventeen times.”

“Oh, but I mean it this time.”

Spitfire chuckled and turned away. “You’ll have to take lessons if you want to beat me. I’ll see you two later. There’s a pie somewhere with my name on it, and I’ve gotta eat it before Soarin’ does.”

At that moment, Fleetfoot rushed into view and extended the life of Spitfire’s pie. “A message from the Equestrian Guard. Meet me in Strategy Hall at 1900 hours.” Fleetfoot took off to relay the announcement to the other senior Wonderbolts. Soarin’ looked at Rapidfire.

“That’s in five minutes,” Rapidfire clarified.

“Barely enough time for you penguins!” Spitfire launched off towards Canterlot.

“Twenty-one to thirty-eight now. You better come up with some good defensive lines or you’re gonna get torched again Soarin’!”

“Aww man,” Soarin’ grumbled behind Rapidfire on the way to Strategy Hall.

- - -

Strategy Hall (or, as it was more jovially referred to, “Cluster Mess Hall,” after an incident involving a confused pair of cake makers and their staff) was exactly that: a lengthy room populated by a long table, maps of Equestria and beyond, and those fun little figures used to represent different important ponies and tactical units. Except for the table, there were doubles of everything now. Surprise had thrown a fit when all the Wonderbolt figures mysteriously disappeared one evening and the Equestrian Guard had to cope with a couple of bits and a spare piece of candy corn to represent the team.

Yes, this hall had lots of fun history. The topics of discussion weren’t always fun, though. Soarin’ wondered what late-night trouble they had on their hooves this time.

I only see two guards, so it can’t be anything too serious. Weather control maybe?

One of the guards nodded to the Wonderbolts. “Let’s get to business. It is spring, so we have had plenty of tornado reports this season. However, yesterday we received word of a large tornado of likely magical origin heading towards Ponyville.”

Soarin’ choked down an exclamation. That was where Rainbow Dash was. Friends.

“It is not a normal tornado. The storm has already wreaked havoc in Fillydelphia and is headed this way.”

Spitfire stepped up, serious. “We’ll stop it.” The six senior ‘Bolts looked at each other.

“Now,” said Fleetfoot.

Friends. It could have ended at that. It could have ended at the Best Young Flyer competition award ceremony. It could have ended with the pie slip at the Grand Galloping Gala. But, it seemed, Rainbow Dash and Soarin’ were behooved to meet again, and again, and again.

Not that he minded.

~~~


Dirt and grit stung Rainbow Dash’s entire body. She flapped frantically against the twisting winds of the chaotic maelstrom. It seemed like a tornado from the reports of the battered weather ponies who had returned from the fray earlier. A request for backup went out, but there wasn’t any time for that! What if the storm ripped up Sweet Apple Acres? More was on the line than Ponyville if it couldn’t be stopped now. I can handle this myself, she mocked. What was I thinking?

Stupid! Stupid! Something cut Rainbow Dash’s flank. It moved too fast to even tell what it was. She was sure she was bleeding, but if she looked back now she really would be bucked.

“Jus’ hold in there Rainbow!” Applejack’s voice didn’t reach the struggling pegasus. The howling of the tornado, or whatever it was, pervaded over all else. “Fluttershy, you’re gonna hafta rope her. I can’t reach her from the ground!” Fluttershy caught the rope from her spot in the air.

“I… I don’t think I can.” Tears welled in the gentle pegasus’ eyes as she watched her friend be battered by the storm. Even if there hadn’t been a 150 mph whirling mass of wind next door, it was doubtful any pony would have heard Fluttershy. She winced and tried to copy Applejack. The rope didn’t even come close.

“This isn’ gonna work…”

Nearby, Twilight’s magic fizzled out in a shower of sparks. “My magic isn’t working! I can’t stop the storm!” she yelled over the wind. Rairty looked up from where she was aiding Pinkie Pie, who could barely stand from the Pinkie Sense twitching.

“Oh, honestly. I shall settle this nonsense before this dreadful wind tangles my mane any further.” Rarity’s magic surrounded the hopeless form of Rainbow Dash as she circled back into view. Slowly the rainbowed pegasus began to move away from the strongest winds. Rarity’s eyes narrowed in concentration. Small beads of sweat formed and slid down her pearly white coat. Moving a pony with magic was, for reasons probably only Twilight knew, incredibly difficult.

Rarity’s eyes snapped open and she gasped for air as the spell shattered.

Water streamed from Rainbow Dash’s eyes. She’d have to close them soon and risk not being able to see the debris flying at her. It was too much. The air space she’d gained from Rarity ebbed away. This is… by far… the worst decision I’ve made… this week…

~~~

This was bad. Some pegasus was trapped in the storm. Fleetfoot looked over to him from her spot in the formation. “Soarin!”

“Got it.” He saluted and tilted out of position to land amongst the bystanders. An orange earth pony confronted him immediately. Applejack, he remembered.

“Thank goodness,” she said. “RD’s trapped up in that there cyclone… You gotta help her!”

Soarin’ was already scouting for the next step. Unicorn, unicorn, unicorn. Soarin’ spotted two of them. They both looked worn out, but the purple one seemed a little sturdier. He galloped over. “I can get Dash out, but I need an impact reduction spell stat.”

The unicorn’s purple gaze searched his. Evidently, she decided to trust him. The moment he felt lightness in his hooves he took off in the opposite direction of the storm. When there was enough distance between him and the gale, he angled back at an alarming speed.

There was just enough time to think, this will still hurt, before he exploded into Rainbow Dash’s side.

The sheer force of the blow cut clear through the directional pulls of the winds and pushed both of them through the tornado. They shot off into the distance. There was nothing Soarin’ could do to stop the inevitable end, except brace himself. A split second after Rainbow Dash plowed into the ground, Soarin’ followed suit a few feet away. Two distorted crash-landing trails split the grass into furrows of earth behind them.

Soarin’ didn’t try to move.

When his mind felt less fuzzy, he called out through a mouthful of dirt. “Hey Rainbow Dash, how ya feeling?”

“Unngh,” came the response from the disaster area over. A few seconds later, “I’ve felt better.”

Another pause. Didn’t look like either of them was getting up any time soon.

Rainbow Dash’s muted voice reached his ears. “How are we even still alive?”

Soarin’ smiled into his earthy resting place. “Magic.”

~~~

It took a full fifteen minutes for the Elements of Harmony to gallop over to where Twilight calculated the trajectory path. Rarity had stayed behind with Pinkie Pie. “Well?” asked Twilight anxiously upon seeing Fluttershy and Applejack start to examine the fallen pegasi. After a moment, Fluttershy looked relieved. Twilight relaxed.

“Well I’ll be,” Applejack mused. “They’re both fast asleep!”

~~~

Rainbow Dash’s eyes opened to the light color of a hospital curtain. Not this place again. At this rate, she was going to get a little too familiar with the scenery.

She felt stiff. No surprise. I don’t think I’ve ever flown so hard for so long, and then practically get hit by a comet afterwards. The next feeling after the stiffness was alarm. What happened to Soarin’? Panic rose in Rainbow Dash’s heart. What if he was grounded because of her? What if she'd ruined his career?

The panic was mercifully cut short by Soarin’s voice on the other side of the curtain. Naturally, she also recognized the sounds of other Wonderbolts.

“You’re okay staying here Soarin’?” Fleetfoot was saying. “Do you even know if they’ll accept your horsecare card? We can arrange to have you transported to the HQ like Rapidfire after the last rescue mission.”

“Don’t remind me,” Rapidfire snorted. He hated being out of commission as much as any Wonderbolt.

Soarin’ insisted. “It’d be a waste to get moved when I’ll only be here a day. I feel fine. I can wait it out.”

“Suit yourself,” Fleetfoot responded. “Speaking of which, you’ll need a new one. Unless you were planning on masquerading as a dirt-covered zombie?”

“Not likely. Now get outta here so I can get some rest. You guys are noisy.”

Spitfire’s voice pitched in at that. “Oh, now we’re the noisy ones? Sure sure, we’ll get out of your mane.” Goodbyes were exchanged and the sound of many hooves receded down the hallway.

A few moments of silence. Then, from Soarin’s side of the curtain, “I can tell you’re awake now.”

“Huh?” Rainbow Dash uttered, confused. “How?”

Soarin’ laughed. “Actually, I’ve just been saying that every hour or so. Lying here is extremely boring.”

“Tell me about it,” Rainbow Dash huffed. Recent accidents that resulted in a visit to the medical ward flashed through her mind. Soarin’s completely crazy stunt was last. “I guess this means we’re even for the pie now.”

“All part of my plan,” Soarin’ stated brazenly. Clearly he’d not planned any of this. “And anyway, what were you doing in that spell-mishap of a storm? Fleetfoot told me it was probably the result of a crazy lab accident. Either that, or a monster. Luna knows I don’t wanna meet up with whatever it was if that’s the case.”

That was a spell? I had no idea. I should’ve been able to handle it. It seemed like a normal tornado… at first. When it wasn’t huge.”

“It took five of my teammates to wind the thing down. You’d have to be some kind of super pony to do it alone.”

Rainbow Dash fell silent. Despite the publicity of Luna’s return and Discord’s defeat, not every pony knew about the Elements of Harmony, and she preferred to keep it that way. She wanted to get into the Wonderbolts because of her skill, not because of her friends. She grinned wryly. Selfish as it sounds. Besides, their powers lay in their ability to work together… and the physical presence of the Elements.

Still, it was surprising Soarin’ didn’t know she was an Element. You’d think celebrities would know these things. Then again, she looked like a normal pegasus. No fancy attire, no freakish special powers, no commanding voice… It was easy to pass her over if you were standing in a herd looking for legendary heroes! More than once she’d been at the market or around Cloudsdale and heard others talking about the six mares as if she weren’t there.

The whole thing made her head hurt. “Soarin’, what’s it like to be famous?”

“Aha. That was sudden. Hmm… It’s fun because you get to meet lots of ponies and they all admire you.” The covers on the other side of the screen rustled as Soarin’ switched positions. “But it’s challenging too. Depending on where you go, you might get no privacy at all. The media ponies’ll get on your tail about everything you’re doing and ask questions about the most ridiculous rumors involving you. Heh. I remember once reading an article about all the things I had eaten one week, pictures included.

At least I know I can get away more without the Wonderbolt outfit on. It’s always interesting the number of ponies who won’t recognize you without your signature style. I guess most ponies only ever see us with our gear on.” Soarin’ paused. “The fans will always find you, though. We’re lucky hospitals have confidentiality rules, otherwise I’m sure we’d be getting flowers and tokens of affection and visitors in no time. Especially with me unable to fly away!”

Rainbow Dash laughed. “You’re still stuck with me, so looks like you couldn’t escape after all!”

The separating curtain swept aside to reveal Pinkie Pie standing between the two beds as if it had never been there at all. “What’re you two silly pegasusesses talking about? We could hear you all the way down the hallway!”

“Not quite,” came Twilight’s ‘Pinkie is exaggerating’ voice as she entered the room. “I hope we’re not interrupting, though.”

“Nope!” Soarin’ said.

It doesn’t sound anything like when Big Macintosh says it, thought Rainbow Dash.

Twilight continued, “Rainbow, since you’re stuck here for the rest of the day, we thought you might want to play Battlecloud.”

“It was my idea!” Pinkie Pie pitched in. “I got Twilight to come even though at the end she was like – Pinkie put on her serious face – “Fine! But only because some pony won’t let me study in peace!”

Rainbow Dash ignored her soreness and scooched up to a sitting position. She could probably leave right now, but why leave when your company was a Wonderbolt? And the doctor would say no, but that wasn’t important. “Alright. And this time I’m gonna make up for that last game. Prepare to be destroyed!” As an afterthought she added, “Do you want to play too Soarin’?”

“Yeah! I have to warn you though, I’m the grand champion of Battlecloud.”

“Not after today,” Rainbow Dash said with 100% confidence.

Ten minutes later, Twilight and Pinkie Pie found themselves frantically moving pieces around on behalf of Soarin’ and Rainbow Dash as they duked it out. Rainbow Dash’s friends had been crushed within the first few minutes merely by being caught in the crossfire.

“Sky three!”
“Cloud four!”
“Cloud six!”
“Sky six!”
“Cloud nine!”

“Haha, come on Rainbow Dash. No pony puts things on cloud nine,” Soarin’ taunted.

“Better safe than sorry if you want to win,” she retorted.

“Speaking of winning, sky two.”

“Gah! My bumble bee!” Rainbow Dash yelped. Pinkie Pie tossed the piece aside. The cyan pegasus peered at her board. Soarin’s last cloud had to be one of three places. He wouldn’t put it in a corner, unless he was trying to be tricky. “Cloud… seven.”

Soarin’s head dropped. “I can’t believe I lost… I never lose to any pony but Rapidfire.” He perked up quickly. “You win this round, but next time we’re playing with Wonderbolt house rules. I’ll get my title back!”

Rainbow Dash celebrated with forelegs outstretched to the sky. “I declare myself… the new Battlecloud champion!”

Pinkie Pie joined in. “This calls for a party!”

Nurse Redheart peered into the room. “Shh! This may not be the emergency wing, but it’s still a hospital,” she scolded.

“Oh. Sorry,” whispered Pinkie Pie. Rainbow Dash and Soarin’ wore large, innocent smiles, clearly indicating their culpability. Nurse Redheart pointed her hoof at her eye and then pointed at Soarin’ and next Rainbow Dash. She trailed backwards out of the room smoothly, somehow still keeping her hoof pointing. Pinkie Pie was impressed.

Twilight Sparkle shook her head and groaned. “I’m going to see if you two can be discharged before the nurses aren’t able to see through the confetti.”

A few minutes later, the group was quickly ushered out the hospital front doors, along with party streamers and a cake. “Now remember,” the doctor said, “no heavy flying for three days and you’ll both be good as new.” Then the front doors were closed and all the medical staff were gone.

“Hmm,” Pinkie pie pondered, staring at the cake. She brightened up. “I guess it’s a ‘you’re better now party!’”

Rainbow Dash looked at Twilight. “Do they always put ponies out so… abruptly?”

“Only you, Rainbow,” she replied.