• Published 20th Aug 2016
  • 2,379 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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I Just Wanted to Say Good Luck, We're All Counting on You

"We're almost there!" Spitfire shouted to the pony flying next to her, struggling to be heard over the rushing wind and a crescendo of sharp cracks and rumbling booms below them. The thick gray clouds below them occasionally lit up with a flash and accompanying thunderclap. "It's just past this next cloud layer!"

"Good!" Her wingmate huffed. "I don't- *whew* -don't think I can keep this up for much longer! You said we'd be there three cloud layers ago!"

"Trust me, I know these clouds like the back of my--" *CRACK* *FwwweeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEE* "GET DOWN!"

Spitfire lunged at her compatriot, tackling her into a nearby cumulus. Radar squawked, startled by his owner's sudden leap into action. As the three tumbled into the cloud, a streak of fire shot through the space they had occupied not a second ago. The shell flew on past, bursting into a cheery cloud of shrapnel and confetti a quarter-mile behind them. Spitfire poked her head out of their fluffy hiding spot, screaming at the unseen ponies below.

"SAME TEAM, ASSHOLES! I swear to friggin' Faust, I'm going to make somepony pay for this..." Spitfire put a hoof to the radio transceiver in her ear. "Mayday mayday mayday, this is Axe Mare One-Six, flight of three on GUARD. Plateau Tower, you have us buddy spiked. Disengage contacts one zero miles south-southeast eight thousand." She heard nothing but screechy warbles in reply.

"W-what was THAT!?" Her associate cried out as she freed her head from the cloud.

"Party cannon. Military-grade. Stay put while I sort this out. Radar?" Spitfire's falcon cheeped indignantly as he poked his head through the cloud, the tackle having finally dislodged him from Spitfire's mane. He did not look pleased with his mistress. "Can you stay here and watch mommy's new friend?" Radar didn't look pleased with his new assignment, but chirped in agreement and fluttered out of the cloud atop the new pony's back. The new pony yelped in surprise. "Both of you stay here, don't fly any closer until they stop firing," Spitfire instructed the two of them.

"Wait, you're leaving me!? With your pet bird!?!?" The new pony cried after Spitfire.

Spitfire had already leapt back into the air, swooping down towards the chaos below. "Just stick with Radar and you'll be fine!!"

*FweeeeeeEEEEEEEEE* *BOOM*

"...You'll probably be fine!"

* * * * *

Prism Plateau and the sky around it lay in complete pandemonium. Flyers in blue jumpsuits looped and twisted, trying to gain an advantage on each other. Ponies tackled others in midair, while more fought hoof-to-hoof on clouds and rooftops. Artillery crews raked the airspace above them with cannon fire and surface-to-air firework launchers. Several structures burned brightly, victims of wayward shells or, in one unfortunate ammo depot's case, a wayward Rainbow Dash. Dozens of Dashes wove between the candy explosions and shredded clouds, while more still struggled with the base guards. A gaggle of Soarins, identical down to the midnight-blue swept-back mane, (seriously, what is it with that manestyle? Would some originality kill you ponies?) slowly backed up against a hangar wall as the ring of determined spear-toting pegasi advanced on them. They stammered over each other, each trying to explain that while it may appear that a hive of changelings disguised as Soarin and Rainbow Dash had launched a surprise assault on Equestria's most valuable military base, this was actually just part of an embarrassing time travel mishap, and oh man are they all gonna laugh about it later...

The soldiers surrounding them, for their part, ignored the multiple Soarins' blabbering. One, they were all trying to talk over each other and nopony could understand what they were saying. Two, when alien insectoid shapeshifters fall from the skies and attack your home, do you talk to them? Debate them like a gentlecolt? Hell no. You grab your lance and your aviator sunglasses and you tear those bugs a new plothole. Because that's how we do it in Equestria!

It's just as well. Anypony willing to listen to the various Soarin clones' stories would find that none of them made a lick of sense anyhow.

Above the chaos, Commander Spit Take tried in vain to restore order to the base. His radio calls went unanswered, lost amid the indecipherable squeal of several dozen Soarins all transmitting over each other. He sent out runners to relay messages to the various squadrons, but any airpony that left the control tower became swept up in the furious basewide dogfight and never came back. Spit Take's options were dwindling rapidly.

"Sir! New contact, bearing one-three-zero angels two. Speed four hundred knots and heading straight for us!"

Spit Take rushed over to his subordinate's station. A miasma of oscillating green dots buzzed angrily near the center of the sensor screen, a mess of pings from the furball over the base. Near the edge of the scope, a single bright contact jumped steadily towards the center with each sweep. Spit Take looked up out the tower cab's wraparound windows in a panic, adrenaline burning his nerves.

It didn't take him long to spot the unidentified intruder. A column of gray smoke tipped by an angry orange blur rocketed straight for the tower, corkscrewing around flak blasts and the odd rocket. Take's pupils shrank to pinpricks as it careened towards him.

"INCOMING!"

Spit Take dove for the floor as an orange ball of anger smashed through the window, careening into an unlucky airpony and flattening him into a radar set. Two others leapt up, advancing on the intruder with shock spears at the ready. No sooner had they taken their first menacing steps toward her when she pounced on them like an angry tornado in a Wonderbolts dress uniform. The first fell in a split second, cold-cocked by the newcomer. The second narrowly missed her with a lightning blast from his spear before she grappled him and unceremoniously tossed him through the window. He plummeted from the tower cab with an increasingly distant scream, followed by a faint "Oh, right!" and the fwomp of a pegasus unfurling his wings to stop a fall.

Nopony else made a move towards her, having realized who she was during the scuffle. Even with the flightsuit and goggles hiding her features, Commander Spit Take could recognize that mane anywhere.

"...Miss Spitfire," he looked her up and down. While he technically outranked her, he'd often found it most advisable for his career and personal health not to cross the Wonderbolts' CO. At the end of the day, Commander Spit Take was an air traffic controller, and he knew the flyers, arrogant they may be, were still probably the best ponies to unbuck this particular cluster.

They had started it, after all.

"Sir," Spitfire spat. "I'd appreciate it if you ordered your ponies to stand down from trying to blow me out of the sky."

"Lower your weapons," Spit Take commanded. The tower controllers and guards surrounding Spitfire breathed a collective sigh of relief. None of them had signed up for this. "None of your squadrons are responding. Radios are jammed all to hell, and everypony thinks everypony else is a changeling infiltrator. If you have any ideas, I'm all ears."

Spitfire glared at him for a tense moment, by all appearances attempting to strangle him through sheer willpower. She finally relented after a few deep breaths, speaking in a more even tone. "Sir, could I use the basewide PA speakers for a moment?"

"Go ahead," Spit Take gestured towards a hoofheld microphone. "We already tried it, nopony's listen--" He stumbled as Spitfire jostled him out of the way to pick up the mic.

"NOW HEAR THIS!!" Her voice thundered across the plateau, bringing the chaotic frenzy to a screeching halt. "THIS IS CAPTAIN SPITFIRE! ALL PONIES ARE TO LAY DOWN ARMS AND STAND TO IMMEDIATELY! WONDERBOLT SQUARDONS REPORT TO THE PARADE GROUNDS IN FIVE MINUTES AND ASSEMBLE UNDER DIRECTION OF MASTER SGT. MISTY FLY! I WILL HOLD ANYPONY NOT IN ATTENDANCE PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS INCIDENT!"

Absolute, complete silence.

"...or you could do that. Yeah, that works."

* * * * *

"...I still can't believe you left me like that. You're a Wonderbolt, you're supposed to help ponies."

"Everything worked out, didn't it? Radar wouldn't have let anything happen to you." Spitfire reassured her associate as she slowly descended towards the parade grounds. She touched down next to the Wonderbolts' leader, her horn fizzling out and the teal aura of her self-levitation spell fading away. The plateau's various squadrons hastily assembled in formation, complete with a unit made entirely of Rainbow Dashes and another of Soarins.

"Thanks. That's exactly who I need by my side when I wander into a war zone." Starlight Glimmer griped. "A bird."

"Trust me, you're better off with him than half these ponies," Spitfire deadpanned, waving a wing at the formation of blue-suited flyers. She smiled at Radar, who was busy exploring the wondrous interior of Starlight's mane. "Hey there, little guy! Come to mommy!" Radar screeched happily, but stayed with Starlight. "...Aww. Fine then, stay with Miss Glimmer, see what I care!" She let out an exaggerated huff before addressing Starlight. "I am sorry about all the trouble, though. Things sometimes get a little... intense around here."

"I was thinking more along the lines of 'insane'."

"Also that. Thanks again for helping on such short notice, I'm sure Princess Twilight keeps you busy."

"It's nothing, really," Starlight reassured her. "Twilight won't mind, and I'm pretty sure I can work this into a lesson about friendship. Shall we?"

Spitfire nodded, then signaled Misty Fly with a wing. The drill sergeant snapped a quick salute, which Spitfire returned. She then about-faced to address the gathered flyers.

"Wonderbolts, atten-shun!"

The formation of pegasi snapped to attention. Spitfire cleared her throat and spoke to the assembled unit. "Listen up, hoofstains. To say I am disappointed in you is a drastic fucking understatement! Make no mistake, I will be thoroughly investigating what happened here. For now however, our mission now is to repair the base and assist Miss Starlight Glimmer in correcting the damage done to the fabric of space-time. Soarin Squadron and Rainbow Regiments, you're with Starlight and myself while we sort you out. Everypony else, Misty Fly has your assignments. They're all yours, Sergeant."

Misty Fly consulted a clipboard for the wing's various cleanup assignments. "Second and Fifth Fighter Squadrons, report to Wrench Turner on the flightline. Eighth Training Squadron, you're with Spit Take at the control tower." She smiled as she turned to her squadmates, her muzzle twisting into an insidious leer not unlike a shark bearing down on its prey. "First Demonstration Squadron, my friends, my family... I have something special for you..." A collective sense of dread fell over the team. Lightning Streak audibly gulped, he did not like where his sister was going with this. "Front-leaning rest position, MOVE!"

Acting on years of honed instinct, the assembled stunt flyers dropped to the grass and assumed the wing-up position. "We are going to do PT until your fucking wings fall off!" Misty Fly cried happily before joining them. "One-two-three-one! One-two-three-two! One-two-three-three! One-two-three-four!"

As Misty Fly led her squadron in the first of what would be several thousand wing-ups, Spitfire and Starlight Glimmer interviewed the various copies of Rainbow Dash and Soarin. Starlight consulted her notes as she talked with a Rainbow at the front of the formation. "You traveled back in time seven times, is that right?"

"Eight," Rainbow shifted uncomfortably. "I'm sorry, ma'am," she added to Spitfire. "I was trying to work out a new stunt for the airshow routine, I didn't mean for any of this--" She stopped her apology as Spitfire held up a hoof to cut her off.

"I understand, Dash. It was an accident. These things happen, nopony can push the limits like we do here without some consequences. This is why we have safety procedures for test flights, though. I can't stress enough how you need to follow them to the letter next time, understand?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Honestly, I'm less concerned with the first one than I am the other seven."

"...They seemed like good ideas at the time?"

Spitfire raised an eyebrow. "When you were a filly, exactly how many times did you touch a hot stove before you learned it was a bad idea?"

"...Too many, ma'am." Rainbow grinned weakly.

Spitfire's next thought was interrupted by Starlight. "Okay, I've got it! You and you," she pointed to Past-Rainbow and Clean-Soarin, "are staying here! The other five hundred and ten are going home to your own time!" She squeezed her eyes shut and lit her horn. The wind picked up, blowing across the parade grounds as Starlight summoned a spherical time portal above their heads. "Everypony into the portal!"

"I thought Twilight said you two lost that spell," Past-Rainbow hissed to Starlight under her breath.

"I memorized it. Just in case," Starlight whispered back.

Rainbows and Soarins lined up below the portal, taking wing two by two and flying into the aperture. As Past-Rainbow, Clean-Soarin, and Spitfire watched them go, something occurred to Spitfire. "How do you know exactly which time to send them to?"

"Oh, I don't," Starlight shrugged. "It'll sort them all out on its own. Time is like a river. Doesn't matter where you jump in, everypony always ends up downstream."

"...Whatever works." Spitfire replied. At this point, she honestly didn't care. "Rainbow, Soarin, glad to see you made it though in one piece. Once we get everything sorted out on base, I'd like to take a look at that routine you two were designing."

"Yes, ma'am!" The two cried out, pleasantly surprised at their luck. They both expected much worse from Spitfire.

"In the meantime, get over there with Misty Fly and the rest. You're missing out on your wing-ups!"

Maybe they weren't so lucky after all. "Ma'am?"

A satisfied smirk creeped across Spitfire's muzzle. "What, you didn't think you were getting out of this scot-free, did you?"

* * * * *

"One-two-three-eight-hundred-thirty-six! One-two-three-eight-hundred-thirty-seven!"

"So," Fleetfoot huffed as she lowered her body to the dirt with her wings yet again, "what'd Cap say?"

"Not much," Soarin replied in between gasps for air. "Safety, proper leadership, not destroying any buildings next time, the usual."

"In all fairness, I think that was the cannon crews, not us. Think we'll get a punishment detail?"

"Probably. You did lead a mutiny, I'd expect armory duty at the least. By the way, not cool, lady-dude. Not. Cool."

"Uugh, for Faustsakes Clip, it was one little coup de'tat. Do you know how annoying it is to trick Lightning Streak into doing armory duty for me?"

"Hey!" Lightning Streak called angrily from the back of the formation. Soarin nodded thoughtfully. He hadn't personally conned Lightning Streak into doing his work for him, but it sounded aggravating.

Fleetfoot frowned as a memory from the chaotic dogfight surfaced at the front of her mind. "Wait, I think the armory blew up."

"Hm, so probably not armory duty then?"

"I'd doubt it." The two fell silent as they worked out to Misty Fly's metronomic chanting.

Fleetfoot was never a fan of silence. "Soo, what was it like making out with yourself?"

"I don't want to talk about it."

"But--"

"I. Don't. Want. To. Talk. About. It."

"Yeesh, fine. Way to smash a girl's dreams to pieces right in front of her. You're the worst, Clip."

Soarin merely grunted in reply as he pushed out more wing-ups. "One-two-three-nine-hundred-seventy-two! One-two-three-nine-hundred-seventy-three!"

"Soo... what's the story with future-you? How'd he manage to get covered in manure?" Fleetfoot inquired. She really hated awkward silences.

"Not much of a story behind it," Soarin replied. "From what he said, he spun out after the Timeboom, then crash-landed in a wagon of the stuff out at Sweet Apple Acres."

"Isn't that where your waifu lives? That orange apple salesmare Crash hangs out with?"

Soarin rolled his eyes. "She's not my 'waifu', whatever that is. I'm just really into her pie." Wait. "That sounded different in my head. Dirty-Soarin said he ran into her brother."

"Her brother?" Fleetfoot scrunched her brow in confusion. And exhaustion. Misty Fly had them doing a lot of wing-ups.

"Yeah, big red guy. I've seen him around a few times when we do events in Ponyville... Fleet? Fleet, you okay?" Soarin looked over at his friend. Fleet was no longer listening to him, she had adopted what Soarin recognized as the 'thousand-yard-stare'. Her eyes stared off into the distance, unfocused, as she robotically performed her wing-ups. Her cheeks colored with a rose blush. A dribble of drool hung from the corner of her mouth.

Inside Fleetfoot's mind, her usual thoughts of fame, glory, and world domination were pushed away by a pink haze flooding her senses. Memories of the Summer Wrap-Up festival in Ponyville, an errant firework shoot-down, and a nasty concussion on landing. Images of a handsome hunk of a stallion, dressed in a tuxedo and a martini in hoof, pushed away any rational thought. She saw herself, wrapped in an evening cocktail dress, as they sailed away to a private island where the evil forces of darkness would never find them. A villian's yacht exploded behind them, lighting up the sky with fireworks as her hero took her in his muscular forehooves.

"Oh, Mac-san..."

"Oh, Fleetfoot..."

"I love you!"

"Eeyup!"

They kissed passionately, falling to the deck of the boat. Fleetfoot gripped her love tighter, wrapping her wings around him. She felt a hoof trace down her back, sending lightning bolts up her spine and along her wings. She reached lower, groping for his--

*WHAM!*

Fleetfoot spat out dirt as she fell to the ground. What the hay!? Wasn't she just doing...

She heard a laugh from the pony in formation next to her. "Kinda hard to do wing-ups when you're full sail, Flatfoot," Soarin chuckled, pointing behind her with a hoof as he exercised. Fleetfoot glanced behind her, her face going even redder. Her wings were splayed out, completely rigid.

Soarin yelped as Fleetfoot leapt at him. "WHERE IS HE!?" she roared as she pinned him to the ground. "WHERE IS MY MAC-SAN?"

"Aah! I don't know, that was the other Soarin, not me!" Soarin panicked. "Your wingboner is making this, like, super-awkward!"

"HEY! I DON'T CARE IF YOU TWO ARE OFFICERS, IF I DON'T SEE MORE WING-UPS I WILL SKULL-BUCK THE BOTH OF YOU INTO NEXT WEEK! THEN WE'LL SEE HOW MUCH YOU LIKE TIME TRAVEL!" Misty Fly yelled from her position at the head of the formation.

Her yell snapped Fleetfoot out of her lust-rage. "Clip, please..." she pleaded, hopping off him.

"I'm sorry, I don't really know him," Soarin hated to let down a friend like that. As he dusted himself off and resumed his wing-ups, an idea popped into his brain. (Yes, even Soarin gets them sometimes...) "I don't know how to find him, but I'll bet Rainbow does."

He yelped as he was tackled by Fleetfoot again, this time in a grateful hug, eliciting another scream from Misty Fly. "I take it back, Clip. You're the best!"

"That's what squadmates are for, Flatfoot." Soarin said warmly. "We look out for each other. But seriously, about the wingboner... super weird right now."

Author's Note:

The Wonderbolts adhere to military discipline and command structure the way Michael Bay adheres to historical accuracy and logic. They're celebrities, after all. The regular troopers around the base (Royal Guards? Air Force ponies? I'm kinda waffling on this. I've been calling all the flyers 'Wonderbolts' while staying vague about anypony else. Can't decide whether the whole branch should be called the Wonderbolts, Air Force, make them part of the Royal Guard or what.) aren't too fond of this, so there's a bit of tension between Spitfire and Spit Take.

Starlight was the pony Shining Armor referred to in the last chapter, if anyone missed it. She'd probably be the pony you'd want to go to if you had a time-travel-related friendship problem on your hands.

Next time, the Bolts explore the wonderful world of weapons expos and government procurement contracts! All the red tape they could ever dream of!