• Published 20th Aug 2016
  • 2,386 Views, 102 Comments

The Wrong Stuff - DashEight



The Wonderbolts are the greatest precision flying team in Equestria, admired by ponies worldwide and heroes to every colt and filly in Cloudsdale. They are also terrible, terrible ponies.

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Not the Shipping You Were Expecting

"Fleet! There you are!" Soarin spotted his friend trotting near the ops center, chatting with Surprise. Both mares turned at the sound of urgency in Soarin's voice, watching him trot towards them. Fleetfoot was apprehensive and a little suspicious; Soarin wasn't normally the type to worry; you didn't perform high-speed stunts in front of a hundred thousand ponies without learning to deal with a little anxiety. Then again, he was fairly gullible. Fleetfoot felt the corners of her mouth twitch upwards in a smile as she remembered the myriad of pranks she'd pulled on him over the years. It was almost too easy at this point.

Surprise merely hopped up and down in excitement, grinning madly. Hanging out with Fleetfoot was okay, but now she got to spend time with one of her bestest friends? A few wild curls popped out of her windswept manestyle with loud proings, like springs shooting out of an old mattress.

"Hey Clip, what's up?" Fleetfoot gave her wingpony a once-over as he skidded to a stop in front of them. He looked disheveled, like he'd taken a bad crash. She gagged as an overpowering stench assaulted her nostrils. "Gross! You reek, dude! What happened to you?!"

"I kinda spun out and crash-landed."

"Into what, Neigh Jersey?" Fleetfoot spat, holding her nose with a hoof.

"I'd... rather not talk about it."

If Soarin's smell bothered Surprise, she gave no indication. "Hii Soarin!" She gave him an ear-to-ear grin. "Fleetfoot and I are working out over by the park! Up for some wrasslin'?"

"...Maybe later," Soarin replied, wincing at the memory of the last time he 'worked out' with Surprise. The bubbly mare wasn't the plateau's top Crab Maga instructor for nothing. Her daily fitness regimen usually included painful submission holds on whichever pony was unlucky enough to be her sparring partner, in this case Fleetfoot. "Listen, I need a hoof really bad here, I can't find Dash anywhere! We were practicing south of Ponyville and there was this explosion caused by, erm, something totally unrelated! She could be hurt!"

"Did you consider the possibility that your nasty musk scared her off? Next time you have a date, ease up on cologne. Seriously, eugh."

"C'mon Fleet! This is serious, what if something happened to her?"

"We're talking about Rainbow Dash, right? The same pony who walked off a five-hundred-knot collision with the 'Welcome to Prism Plateau' sign just last week?" Fleetfoot arched an eyebrow. "Trust me Clipper, your little marefriend's fine."

"Fleeeeeeeet!" Soarin whined used his considerable persuasive talents to sway his wingmare's mind. Fleetfoot sighed and rolled her eyes, letting everpony know how gracious and generous it was of her to help a friend in need.

"Fine, I'll do it. But only because my alternative is to let this pile of crazy," she waved a wing at Surprise, "pummel me until I can't see straight. Sorry, Surprise," Fleetfoot turned to Surprise, disappointment clouding her perky demeanor, "as much as I was looking forward to stopping a few hoofpunches with my face, you'll have to take a rain check."

"Awwwww..." Surprise hoofed the ground sadly for a moment before brightening back up, her smile returning as she gave Soarin a lighthearted salute. "Don't worry, Soarin!. Fleetfoot and I are on the case! We'll find your missing rookie! You two will be back together in no time, then you can finally tell her how you feel! Then you can kiss her and get married and have lots of foals and be together forever and ever and ever!"

"...You too? Once. I danced with her one time."

Fleetfoot snickered and gave Surprise a nod of respect. "Remind me later, I owe you a hoofbump. For now, map." Surprise pulled a map and marker from her mane and hoofed it over to Fleetfoot. "Clip, mark out your flight plan on here so we can figure out our search grid. Slowpoke, can you check with Commander Spit Take and make sure Dash never landed? She could've flown back to base and Clipper just missed her."

"Sure, I'll ask all the other Bolts if anypony's seen her too! Like that pony flying towards us that looks exactly like you, Soarin!"

"What?" Soarin and Fleetfoot turned their heads to follow Surprise's hoof-pointing. Sure enough, a stallion with a blue mane was skimming low across the ground towards them, yelling incoherently.

"CLONES, MAN! CLOOONES!"

"He does kinda look like you..." Fleetfoot remarked. "Maybe he doesn't stink like a Diamond Dog sewer main."

The stallion touched down at full speed, barely managing to stop before crashing into the three confused Wonderbolts. Sure enough, the newcomer looked exactly like Soarin, albeit not covered in foul-smelling refuse.

"Fleet! There you are!" the other Soarin grabbed Fleetfoot, fear in his eyes. "We've got a big problem! Somepony's cloning us! There's two copies of Rainbow Dash trashing the barracks right now! We gotta stop it before they replace anyone else with evil clones!"

"Uh, dude..." Fleetfoot put a hoof on the newcomer's muzzle, rotating his head towards his dumbstruck doppelganger. "Little late for that."

The two Soarins stared at each other. The new one let got of Fleetfoot and slowly began backing away from the group. "Excuse me for a moment," he calmly stated.

He then bolted, flying away from them as fast as he possibly could. "AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!" His scream slowly fading as he disappeared off into the distance.

Fleetfoot brushed herself off. "Okay, so we went from missing Crash to two Crashes, that's... better, right? At least that version of you doesn't smell," she remarked to Soarin, who was still trying to process what he just saw.

"I am so confused right now..."

* * * * *

"So yeah, that's basically the story. I did a Rainboom so amazing that it sent me back in time," Future-Rainbow addressed the gathered crowd of Fleetfoot, Surprise, Misty Fly, Lightning Streak, her past self and two Soarins. Past-Rainbow elebowed her in the withers. "Oh right, Soarin helped too."

"Dude, I am like so embarrassed," Clean-Soarin apologized to Dirty-Soarin. Dirty-Soarin had since showered off, but the new nickname was sticking thanks in large part to Fleetfoot. "I saw copies of everypony and my mind just went to the worst place. I thought you were an evil clone, now I see you're a... a..."

"Regular clone," Dirty-Soarin replied. "Or time-clone, I'm you from the future."

"Whoa." Clean-Soarin was in awe at the idea. "The future!? Sweet! Are there robots!?"

"I'm only from like three hours into the future," Dirty-Soarin told his past self, "so I don't think so. Unless..."

"Unless the robots are designed to look just like us in so they can infiltrate the pony resistance!" Both Soarins finished the thought simultaneously, nodding excitedly in agreement. Sure, they had plenty of good friends, but here was somepony who truly understood them, who they could connect with on a level they never could before. The two Soarins slowly turned their heads to stare at Lightning Streak suspiciously.

"Hey! I am not a robot!!" Lightning Streak harrumphed angrily, glaring at the two versions of his XO currently eyeballing him.

Dirty-Soarin took his annoyed statement at face value, but Clean-Soarin wasn't about to give up so easily. "If you're not a robot, then what's six times six?"

"...Really? I'm the squadron's bookie, of course I'm gonna know that."

"It's thirty-six! Everypony knows that!" Surprise offered helpfully, just happy to be included.

Clean-Soarin let out a startled gasp. "It's spreading..." he whispered to his future counterpart, who nodded in agreement.

"Nopony's a robot, Clip. We've been over this," Fleetfoot reminded her fellow officer as she paced back and forth at the forefront of the Ops center's war room. The Bolts had commandeered the room after realizing the doppelganger issue. Soon after, the intelligence and strategy ponies who normally worked in the building had determined that it was in the nation's best interests if they took a working lunch. Maybe a half day, anything to avoid touching this 'crisis' with a ten-foot lance. "We do have a problem, though. Rainbow... Rainbows... the both of you may claim not to be changelings, but we have no idea whether it's the truth or part of a changeling web of deception. Same for you, Clipper."

"That's crazy, neither of us are changelings!"

"That's just what a Changeling would say. For all I know, you're all changelings. Which is why, until we have determined otherwise, I'm assuming command of the squadron."

"HEY!" Both Soarins jumped up, shocked. "I'm XO! I'm in charge while Cap's not here! You can't just decide you want to run the squadron!"

"Okay, so you want to keep command, Clip. I'm okay with that." Fleetfoot arched an eyebrow. "Just answer me this. Which one?"

"Huh?" Clean-Soarin paused, confused.

Dirty-Soarin scratched his head. "What do you mean?"

"Which one of you is squadron leader? Even if you aren't changelings, the regs are pretty clear. WR-904-B, paragraph one: 'In order to preserve a clear chain of command, every squadron must have the position of commander filled at all times. If for any reason a commander is compromised or unable to perform the duties required, the position will be filled by the most senior officer in the squadron. No splitsies.' And you, my friend, are compromised."

"Am not!" Both Soarins protested.

"Are too," Fleetfoot shot back as she took her seat at the head of the war room conference table, resting her forehooves on the polished oak as she addressed the Soarins. "One, there's two of you and you can't share the squadron leader job, and two, you might be changelings. I'm next seniority-wise, so I'm in command 'till we get this figured out." Fleet crossed her forelegs with a smirk as everypony glowered marveled at her effortless coup de'tat.

"...The manual does NOT say 'no splitsies.'" Misty Fly pointed out.

"I was paraphrasing. The point still stands. Lightning Streak!" Fleet called her squadmate with most authoritative tone she could manage. "The records please."

Lightning Streak trotted to the front of the war room conference table, pulling a manila folder from underneath his wing. it held a copy of the air-traffic control tower's daily duty log. Commander Spit Take had kindly given it up with only the caveat that he be left out of whatever shitstorm the Wonderbolts were currently cooking up. "Let's see, two unscheduled landings between the start of operations and when the duplicates were discovered. Airmare Rainbow Dash touched down at oh-seven-thirty-five and 1st Lieutenant Soarin at oh-eight-oh-five. Both had valid transponders, and neither were logged departing Plateau airspace by the swing shift crew."

"See??" Future-Rainbow stamped a hoof. "That proves we're not infiltrators! How we both have the same transponder gem if one of us were a changeling?" She was getting frustrated, she and her past self both. They had already buried the hatchet, (changeling-wise, she figured Past-Rainbow would want a Battleclouds rematch at some point,) so why couldn't the team see it the same way? Or, more specifically, why couldn't Fleetfoot?

"That's a good point," Fleetfoot acknowledged, "but it's not concrete. IFF gems can be forged or stolen. There's only one way to know for sure. We have to administer... the test."

A chorus of gasps echoed through the room. Surprise held both hooves in front of her muzzle to keep from shrieking with equal parts excitement and fear. Both Soarins turned a pale shade of green. Lightning Streak winced as a cold shiver suddenly ran down his back. Misty Fly grimaced lightly, an impressive amount of a motion for a pony who could be mistaken for a statue unless she was shouting intimidating things at new recruits.

Neither Past-Rainbow nor Future-Rainbow felt comfortable with this reaction. Past leaned over to Future, whispering in her ear uneasily. "What's the test?"

"I was hoping you'd know. It doesn't sound good." Future-Rainbow whispered back.

"How would I know? You're the one from the future!"

"Like... timelines and stuff... I don't know!"

"You'll both find out soon enough," Fleetfoot informed the two worried Rainbows, the barest trace of an evil smile flickering over her impassive muzzle. "We'll do the Soarins first. Surprise, Misty Fly, prepare them for... the test." Misty rose from her seat at the table and trotted over to Dirty-Soarin, who looked queasier than ever.

"Misty," Dirty-Soarin pleaded. "You don't have to do this..."

"Sorry, Soarin, Fleet's in charge and orders are orders." Misty replied apologetically, pulling him to his feet and leading him out of the war room. "I kind of want to see what happens, too. Call it morbid curiosity."

"C'mon, don't worry, it'll be fun!" Surprise assured Clean-Soarin with an earnest grin as she escorted him out.

"You said the same thing when you tried to teach me Emu-Jitsu and I ended up in on sick call for two weeks!"

"Shh, everything's going to be fineee, Auntie Surprise won't let anything bad happen..." Surprise lied through her sympathetic smile. Trembling, Clean-Soarin followed her out.

* * * * *

Five ponies peered through the one-way glass window of Interrogation Room B with a mixture of horror and fascination. Inside, two Soarins sat at either side of a dented metal table, facing each other. The harsh light of a bare lightbulb highlighted the discomfort evident on their faces. "Um, guys?" One Soarin asked, the nervousness in his voice evident even through the room's intercom setup. "I don't think I can do this."

Lightning Streak tore his eyes away from the scene on the far side of the glass and turned to Fleetfoot. The newly-crowned commander sat back in a comfortable chair surrounded by Academy cadets. One recruit brought her a mojito while two more fiddled with an odd device that resembled a cross between a movie projector and a heart-rate monitor. "Hate to interrupt your power trip Fleet, but he's gonna flake."

Fleet steepled her hooves and leaned foward in her chair, sipping her mojito as she did so. "He will. I know Clip, he's a team player. Loyal to a fault. He knows this is for the good of the Bolts, he just needs to build up the stomach." Sunlight glinted off the sunglasses she had 'liberated' from Spitfire's office, which was strange because the neither the interrogation nor the observation rooms had any windows to the outside. "Misty, is it ready?"

Misty Fly looked to her cadets, who nodded nervously. "Changeling scanner online, ma'am," she informed Fleetfoot. "Good work recruits, now get back to your platoons." The cadets scattered, leaving Fleetfoot thoroughly unpampered.

"Aw, Dizz, you could've let them stay."

"They're not butlers, Fleet, and you're not an Alpacistani dictator." Misty Fly glared daggers at Fleetfoot. "You're our interim leader, that's the only reason I'm tolerating this charade. Do not abuse it."

"Hmph. Don't lie, you want to see this as much as I do." No visible reaction from Misty Fly. "Fine, let's get this wagon rolling." Fleetfoot hoofed the intercom that allowed her to speak to the ponies on the other side of the window. "You can do it, Soarin. The both of you. The scanner is running, but we need something for it to scan."

Both Soarins nodded miserably before facing each other, trying to find the courage for what had to be done. Fleetfoot leaned foward, anticipating what would happen next. Surprise looked ready to burst. Lightning Streak covered his eyes with a wing, peeking through the feathers.

Future-Rainbow gulped. She leaned in next to Fleetfoot. "What's happening?"

Fleetfoot shushed her. "That scanner can sense the magic changelings use to absorb pony emotions. If one of them is a changeling, a show of affection will trigger their love-eating reflex, and we'll be able to pick it up."

Future and Past-Rainbow's eyes went wide as they suddenly understood what Fleetfoot was talking about. "Wait," Past-Rainbow spoke under her breath. "Does that mean--"

"Shh!" Fleetfoot held up a hoof. "It's happening!"

The two Soarins leaned towards each other, grimacing. Clean-Soarin looked like he was about to vomit. Neither made eye contact with the other as they moved their heads closer.

Their muzzles brushed up against one another's. Surprise gasped, her breath caught in her throat. Fleetfoot's grin widened.

Their lips locked.

"YES!!!" Fleetfoot slammed her hooves on the table in excitement. "More! More tongue! Touch hooves!"

"DAMMIT DAMMIT DAMMIT!" Lightning Streak swore in disappointment.

Past and Future-Rainbows eyes went wide and their cheeks colored. Misty Fly let out an indecipherable grunt to acknowledge that yes, something had happened.

"It's... so... beautiful..." Surprise's eyes were wide as dinner plates, taking in every detail of the hot stallion-on-stallion action before her.

In the blink of an eye, the moment was over. Both versions of Soarin broke apart and retreated to opposite sides of the room, retching. Each looked for a cup of mouthwash to gargle with. Or acid. Anything, really. "Eugh!" One of them exclaimed. "Dude, you taste like Axe body spray!"

"Oh, like you're any better!" The other cried out. "I crashed into a fertilizer wagon earlier, I had to take a shower. Besides, it was your deodorant!"

On the other side of the glass, Lightning Streak sighed. "Bravo, Flatfoot. No way in Tartarus would I think he'd actually go through with it."

"Like I said, Clip's a team player if there ever was one," Fleetfoot cackled as she rubbed her hooves together. "C'mon, gimmie my winnings! Gimmie gimmie gimmie!"

Lightning Streak rolled his eyes, tossing a bag of bits to Fleetfoot with a wing. Both Rainbows looked around the room quizzically as Surprise and Misty Fly likewise exchanged money.

"I... I don't know what's going on..." Past-Rainbow stated. "Did you guys plan this or something?"

"Hah, no." Lightning Streak groused as he watched Fleetfoot inspect her hard-earned prize. "We really were concerned about changelings. Ever since the wedding the entire military's been on high alert for infiltrators. There's plenty of ways to screen a pony, though. This," he gestured towards the window, where both Soarins were frantically wiping their mouths, "was all Fleetfoot."

"I bet Lightning Streak that I could get Soarin to kiss himself." Fleetfoot looked very pleased with her work. "Now who's rich and doesn't have barracks-cleaning-duty for the rest of the month?" She curled her wings, pointing two primaries at herself in a 'thumbs-up' gesture. "THIS girl!"

"It... it was so beautiful..." Surprise sniffed, wiping her eyes with a wing. She embraced Fleetfoot in a hug strong enough to rearrange vertebrae. "No words... thank you, Fleet!"

"This was all for a prank??" Future-Rainbow asked, shocked.

"Most of it," Fleetfoot admitted. "There's still two of each of you, but hey, at least you're not changelings, so that's good right? Plus, free dude-show and I won some money. Wow, leadership is easy."

"That seems really over-the-top, ma'am." Future-Rainbow said, hesitant about criticizing a superior. "Maybe you went too far?"

"You didn't seem to think so a minute ago, kid. Or were you just stretching your wings out?"

Future-Rainbow flushed and shook her head. Past-Rainbow raised a hoof, as if she were back at Junior Speedsters. Her cheeks were pink with embarrassment. "So, um," she started, "do we have to go?"

"Nah, I think we got enough proof with Clip's one-pony theater in there. Plus, there's plenty of emotions flying around in here, if either of you were a changeling the machine would've dinged you by now." Fleet grabbed the scanner's handle with a wing, rolling it over to face both Rainbow Dashes. It bzzzed a negative reply, and she shoved it to the other side of the room. "See?"

Past-Rainbow's face was crimson. She glanced at Future-Rainbow, who's blush matched her own. "Are you sure? I mean, only way to be safe, right?"

Fleetfoot gave the two doppelgangers a deadpan stare. They both fidgeted and looked away, desperately hoping to hide their embarrassment. "Right. I'm going to leave that alone because you're new. Everypony gets one, Crash."

"Thanks, ma'am."

"Thanks, ma'am."

"No problem. So, time travel, huh?"

"Yep."

"Can you do it again? You know, send you back to the future or whatever?"

"I don't think so." Future-Rainbow scratched her chin with a wing. "When I did it before, I went into the past, not the future." She suddenly brightened, nudging Past-Rainbow. "Maybe I could stay here and you could go back to the past?"

Past-Rainbow's muzzle scrunched as she thought about it. "Hmm... what about the Rainbow of that time?"

"You could send her back like we're doing now!" Future-Rainbow grinned. "Ma'am, when's evening chow?"

Fleetfoot raised an eyebrow. "About an hour, why?"

"See! It's almost dinnertime!" Future-Rainbow exclaimed to Past-Rainbow. "That means we're in the future, so you're going back to the present!"

"Hey, yeah!" Past-Rainbow brightened. "All we need is another Rainboom!"

Fleetfoot hopped out of her chair, smoothing out her fur. "Sounds like you two have this all figured out, I'll leave you to it." She trotted for the door, eager to count her winnings and cherish the memories (and a few high-definition polaroids) of Soarin making out with himself. "I could get used to this. I should talk to Spitfire, I wonder if the CO spot for Third Squadron is still open..." she mused herself.

*CRACK* *BOOM!*

"What was that!?"

* * * * *

Eight ponies galloped outside the ops center, looking frantically for the source of the explosion. Nopony saw any smoke or burning buildings, the usual signs of trouble at Prism Plateau. The Wonderbolts stopped, looking around in confusion for the disturbance. The same scene repeated all over the base, ponies rushing out of barracks, hangars, and armories, searching for the blast that still echoed across the clouds.

"Look!" Surprise cried, pointing towards the sky. "Up there!" Everpony looked up and gasped.

A rippling rainbow shock wave raced outwards across the upper cloud layer, vaporizing clouds in all directions as it rolled away from the plateau. At the epicenter, a prismatic portal shimmered with radiant light. Four tiny specks tumbled out of it, spinning wildly towards the ground. As they fell, the Bolts saw that the shapes were ponies, flailing to regain control as they fell. They spread their wings, preparing to rescue the stricken flyers, but the ponies fell too fast to react. One, in paticular, was careening straight for them at blistering speed.

"Incoming! Everypony take cover!" Fleetfoot shouted. The shocked group dove as the falling pony plowed into the ground in front of them, kicking up concrete dust as she gouged a hole into the ops center's courtyard.

Eight ponies watched as the newcomer stood up in the newly-formed crater. She shook her head, shaking loose the concrete dust coating her and revealing a brilliant prismatic mane. She looked at Past and Future-Rainbows as she spoke.

"Seriously, guys? That idea you had to solve the time-travel thingy? Do NOT do it. It doesn't work, trust me."

*CRACK* *BOOM!*

*CRACK* *BOOM!*

Two more Rainboom blasts ripped open the sky. Eight ponies fell out of one, sixteen the other. Air-raid sirens blared to life across Prism Plateau. The emergency PA system crackled to life, Commander Spit Take's voice broadcasting all across the base.

"Scramble! Scramble! Scramble! Alert fliers get off the ground now, we're under attack! All ponies to Combat Readiness One!"

Fleetfoot gaped at the temporal invasion dropped from the sky. She looked around at her squadron, all staring up with similar expressions of disbelief. Whelp, you got what you wanted, she thought. Only one thing to do now.

"Soarin?" She asked. Both Soarins jumped, like they were waking up from a dream. "After careful consideration, I've decided that you're right. I hereby step down as squadron commander, that position is rightfully yours."

"Wha?"

"I know you'll make us proud, buddy." Fleetfoot patted Dirty-Soarin on the back while giving Clean-Soarin a sympathetic look. "Good luck explaining this one to Cap."

Author's Note:

"Spitfire has fallen! I, Starscream Fleetfoot, am now leader of the Decepticons!"