• 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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Friendship and Loathing in Las Pegasus

"And then I got to learn about rocks and rock farming and mining and why I shouldn't touch anything on a rock farm! Especially not a big boulder that sits right next to a cliff!" Surprise was always in motion. She'd been a Wonderbolt for years and most ponies would be hard pressed to name a single time she wasn't either talking or doing something physical. New recruits wished she'd talk less right up until the moment they figured out her favorite physical activities were various forms of martial arts. Her squadmates simply opted to let her talk; they only needed to make that mistake once. "It was soo nice to finally meet them! Kinda sad though, cause it made me think what if that eagle never snatched my foal basket away in the first place? I was an only foal, it would've been so fun to have sisters! Thooough they were kinda glum, and it's really hard for earth ponies to raise a pegasus! Maybe I would've grown up completely different! Ohmygosh, what if I never became a Wonderbolt? Or what if I never discovered my special talent? I mean, how could I have possibly found these babies on a rock farm!?" She shoved her flank in Misty Fly's face, pointing a hoof at the three pink-and-purple balloons that decorated it.

Misty Fly recoiled in disgust. "If I told you that I don't care, would you stop talking?"

"So how many sisters do you have?" Lightning Streak asked. Surprise's story was more interesting than her usual rambling, and Lightning wholeheartedly approved of anything that annoyed his sister.

"Four! I didn't get to meet my twin though, they said she moved away years ago! Too bad, I wonder what she'd be like! Maybe she'd be like me and we could finish each others sentences and hang around abandoned hotels and whisper 'come play with us foreeever!' Ooh! Or what if we're like the kind of twins that are complete opposite! Like I could be all 'yaaay!' and she's more of a 'grrr!' Or--"

"Please tell me this story ends soon," Misty Fly groaned.

"Silly Misty, we still have thirty minutes to go if you count commercial breaks!"

"...What?"

As Surprise started to explain, Spitfire poked her head into the airship's flyer ready room. "We're approaching the drop zone, I want everypony suited up in the hangar bay in fifteen! Time to move, party ponies!"

"Awww..."

"Thank you, Fausticorn," Misty sighed. "I will never doubt your existence again as long as I live."

Lightning Streak stood up from his chair and stretched his wings. "Don't worry Surprise, I'm sure you'll have plenty of time to tell Misty and me the whole story on the trip home."

"Yaaaaaay!" Surprise cheered as she skipped over to her locker.

Misty Fly glared at her brother. "I hate you so much."

"Suure you do."

"You were a mistake, you know. Mom and Dad should've left you for the timberwolves."

"Then I guess Surprise and I will have that much more to talk about, won't we?"

* * * * *

Spotlights swept the darkened sky as the RES Longest Night emerged from the clouds, the steady thrum of its propellers nearly drowned out against the howling wind. Clamshell doors creaked open along its underbelly, exposing the dim red lights of the hangar bay.

Inside, seven ponies stood against the elements. Spitfire peered over the edge of the bay, peering into the mesmerizing swirl of lights below her. The marshalling pony opposite the Wonderbolts raised two glowing sticks with his wings, signalling the squadron to take their ready stances. Spitfire caught her squadmates crouched for launch out of the corners of her eyes as she switched on her suit's running lights. Soarin and Fleetfoot each gave her a subtle nod, and she snapped a quick salute to the marshaller.

The marshal lowered his wings, and seven ponies leapt into the abyss.

Seven lights plummeted from the airship's gaping maw. Colorful blasts flared alongside the Bolts as spotlights tracked their drop. Spitfire effortlessly focused through the assault on her senses, blotting out the eye-searing chromatic bursts and the chilling buffets of the wind as she spiraled in between stray clouds. She focused on the lights of the city as she plummeted toward the ever-closer highrises.

At the last second, she cranked her wings and pulled up. Her teammates followed, the seven-pony formation rocketing across the tower rooftops, fireworks detonating around them. They split, two groups of three weaving across each others' paths as a single light dropped to the plaza square below them. It flared as it approached, shedding speed for a safe landing. The pony touched down atop a stage at a fast trot, waving his wing at the assembled crowd outside the Golden Apple Hotel and Resort.

"Good eeee-vening, Las Pegasus!" Lightning Streak's voice boomed across the crowd. "And welcome to the One Thousand and Second Annual Fleet Week! Put your hooves together for the hardworking Royal Equestrian Navy sailors aboard the carrier Longest Night and of course, your very own E! U! P! Wonderbolts!"

Lightning reared up and waved a hoof to the sky as his six teammates thundered overhead, the colorful lights on their suits creating a dazzling show against the cloudy night sky. They had switched up their formation again, four ponies tucked into a tight diamond thundered by on a high-speed pass.

"Here comes Captain Spitfire, leading Misty Fly, Surprise, and Rainbow Dash in a four-ship flyover! Now, if you'll look to your left and right, you'll see Soarin and Fleetfoot setting up their infamous head-to-head pass!"

The two flyers streaked down opposite ends of the Las Pegasus Strip, aiming directly for each other. At the last possible second, they banked opposite directions and pulled into tight turns, missing each other by inches.

"Whoa, close one there! Careful guys, don't hurt yourselves! I'd hate to have to cover for you instead of spending time with this lovely crowd!" Lightning Streak winked at a group of pretty mares in the front row as the crowd erupted into more cheers. "Thank you so much for the wonderful welcome, we'll be performing all week!"

The routine continued on for some time, Spitfire and her team dazzled the crowd with their stunts while Lightning Streak emceed. As the sun got lower in the sky, the squadron formed up for a final pass before joining Lightning to greet the enthralled citizens of Las Pegasus. Lightning relinquished center stage to Spitfire, passing the mic to her before taking his spot next to Misty. Spitfire launched into a heartfelt speech to the crowd about just how honored the team felt to receive such a warm welcome, that while they've been to cities all across Equestria and beyond, Las Pegasus truly felt like home. She brushed a few tears from her eyes and reminded herself to update her 'Best City We've Ever Been To' form speech before launching into a brief description of the race schedules and events of the next few days.

The Bolts spent the rest of the press conference with their throngs of well-wishers, signing autographs and posing for pictures. Soarin and Fleetfoot each accumulated a pile of love letters, each enthusiastically one-upping the other every time a mare (or occasionally a stallion,) asked to bear their foals. Rainbow found herself mobbed by a horde of reporters and fans alike all wanting face-time with the Wonderbolts' newest sensation. As the evening wore on, Spitfire put a halt to the meet-and-greet, claiming the team needed to prepare for the events of the next day. They departed the adoring crowd, trotting inside the Golden Apple's newly-renovated main entrance.

The Golden Apple itself was a sight to behold, a towering artifice of bright lights, dazzling colors, and crowds of ponies. The gaming floor was packed full of entertainment as far as the eye could see. Amusement park rides, gambling, arcade games, skee-ball, attractions of every shape and possible size. Rainbow Dash, never one to walk when she could fly, had to duck down to the floor as she was nearly plastered by a roller coaster zooming over ponies heads. At the center of the brightly-lit hub lay a two-tier fountain where workers busied themselves installing a golden statue of two slick unicorns in straw hats. Another statue lay on its side next to the fountain, covered with a tarp. The Bolts grinned at each other in and anticipation. An entire week in Equestria's biggest playground? First Demonstration Squadron had hit the jackpot!

"Listen up!" Spitfire turned to address her subordinates before the casino's glamour stole their attention completely. "I know you're all excited to be here, but we still have a job to do! Derby races are tomorrow and Tuesday, followed by two days of air-combat maneuver demonstrations out at the salt flats with the new toys from the Defense Expo. Friday's the big show, so try not to get yourselves hurt between now and then. Soarin, Crash, I'm looking at you."

"Hey!" Soarin objected! "I--wait, no, you're right."

Rainbow merely grinned sheepishly, remembering the hole in the 'Welcome to Prism Plateau' sign shaped like her silhouette.

"Glad we're all in agreement. Personally, I don't care if you snap both wings like twigs and I'm sure Rapidfire's standby ponies would love to take your place, but I'm sure your little fan clubs would be just heartbroken," Spitfire raised an eyebrow at the mail sacks Soarin and Fleetfloot slung across their withers. "I'm meeting with Princess Luna and the reps from Lockhoof-Flimflam tonight to go over some issues with their Ministry of Defense contract--" Spitfire found herself cut off by a chorus of moans.

"Ugh, does that mean we're still getting the Mark 35? That thing sucks!"

"It's too heavy, it can barely maneuver!"

"I heard half the new stealth features don't even work!"

"The Mark 22 is way better!"

Spitfire grunted and rubbed her forehead with a hoof. "Flatfoot, you know the Mark 22 pegasuit is too expensive per unit to equip the entire military. We're not the only ponies who need new combat gear, and the Thirty-Five is the only one on the market with enough multi-mission capability for the Bolts, the Guard, and the--"

"Too expensive? The 35's cost the treasury a trillion bits!"

"Which I'm sure will come up in a meeting about development and cost overruns," Spitfire hissed. "A meeting that will likely take all night and leave me deaf from the Princess's shouting. A meeting that, I should remind you, you don't have to attend. So Fleet, would you like to enjoy your free night in Las Pegasus or would you like to switch places with me and air your grievances to somepony who gives a giant rat's ass?"

Fleetfoot considered Spitfire's ultimatum for a moment. "On second thought Cap, I'm all good. Have fun with that!"

"That's what I thought. Now: ground rules. Everypony stay in buddy teams, I don't want you morons wandering around this city on your own. Dash, no accepting any form of challenge from strange ponies. The hustlers here will eat you alive."

"But how will everypony here know how awesome I am? That I'm not just some pampered celebrity?" Rainbow protested.

"Don't care. Save it for the derby." Spitfire cut her off. "Lightning, no gambling with squadron funds. Surprise, Misty, no fighting anypony. Soarin, Surprise again, lay off the sweets. Fleetfoot, make sure Soarin doesn't stuff himself before the race tomorrow. Also, and I can't believe I have to say this in the first place, but under no circumstances are you to sell him to Neighponese organ harvesters, I don't care what kind of offer they make. Understood?"

Her reply came in the form of a series of groans, most of the group already rethinking their plans for the night. "Good. Have a fun night, and remember--" Wind whipped her mane around as her subordinates darted off, leaving behind nothing but six vaguely pony-shaped dust clouds. "REMBEMBER, RACE TOMORROW! LIGHTS-OUT IS MIDNIGHT!" She sighed in futility, looking around for directions to the conference center the Princess had reserved. "Why do I even bother?"

* * * * *

"Oh! Ooh! We should go see the Expo first! I wanna get a sneak peek at all the fun new explodey toys they're coming out with! I reeeeally like my Mk10 but the Mk35 turns better even if it can't carry as much ammo and it would be nice to outfly you guys sometimes and after that we can go check out the rides! I'm totally gonna need a cotton candy fix then I wanna do the roller coaster and maybe the Tilt-a-Whirl! Then let's go watch the Ultimate Pony Fighting match! I totally think I could take Ruby Roughhouse, don't you? I know she's fast and mean, but I've got reach on her, I bet I could knock her out with one hoofkick!"

"We're going Surprise, jeez! You sure more sugar is a good idea right now?" Rainbow shushed the chatterbox bouncing in place next to her as they trotted into the Fleet Week Defense Expo. "You're kinda acting a little hyper. And familiar. Am I the only pony feeling some deja vu here?"

"Of course, silly! We're supposed to have fun here, what happens in Pegasus stays in Pegasus!" She looked back and forth cautiously, then leaned over to hiss in Rainbow's ear, even though her other squadmates were trotting right next to them and could easily hear everything she said. "I know, we could pull a prank on Fleetfoot! Do you know any unicorns that know memory spells? Let's make her think we all got drunk and lost Soarin! It'll be soo funny!"

"That does sound like something I'd do," Fleetfoot remarked, examining the various booths with interest. The Fleet Week Defense Expo was the biggest weapons convention in the world, vendors hawking everything from the simplest sword and shield up to attack pedalcopters and top-of-the-line anti-dragon rocket batteries. The Bolts were all somewhat interested in seeing the latest combat flight equipment their leader would soon be negotiating for.

"Whoa, check out this one!" Surprise hopped up to a display showcasing a bulky yellow frame vaguely shaped like a pony. It was covered in hydraulic pistons and hazard markers, and had an empty space in the center with controls and seating for a pilot. "Wingland-Hooftani Power Loader! Coool..."

Rainbow rolled her eyes as she hurried after Surprise. The mech did look cool, but keeping up with her assigned wingmare for the night was proving to be taxing. "Misty, Lightning, either of you want to trade battle buddies?"

"Yeeeaah, nope," Misty replied.

"Sorry Crash, you're on your own." Lightning apologized. "I think your old drill sergeant used to drive one of these, Misty," he remarked to his sister as they examined the display further. "Sgt. Acorn, right? Always chewing on that cigar?"

Rainbow looked over to Fleetfoot and Soarin. "Don't even think about it," Fleetfoot hissed before she could say a word. Soarin was too preoccupied to notice, examining some ordinary radio equipment at a nearby booth with a sense of childlike wonder.

"Ugh, fine," Rainbow sighed. She quickened her pace to keep up with Surprise, who had bounced toward a booth showcasing the prototype flightsuit the Bolts came to see. It wasn't particularly impressive, a mottled gray full-body flightsuit like any other. Rainbow spotted a pair of casters built into the forehooves, thruster gimbals, and a few other doodads she couldn't fathom the purpose of. "I don't get it, all the commotion over this? It's just a suit, no big deal."

At this, the room's lights clicked off and two bright spotlights illuminated the dias where the Mk35 stood. Ponies around the convention murmured in interest.

"Why, do you hear that, brother of mine? 'Just a suit?'"

"Indeed I do! It looks as if we have a few neigh-sayers here tonight! Unsatisfied customers, if you will!"

"At our grand reopening? What shall we do?"

Rainbow squinted into the harsh light. "Wait, I know those voices..."

Two yellow stallions in barbershop-quartet outfits slid into the spotlight. "If it isn't Rainbow Dash! Hero of Equestria, loyal friend, and cider aficionado extraordinaire, if I'm not mistaken!"

"It certainly is! And not just her, how lucky are we to be graced with the presence of the finest flyers in all the land! Full introductions are in order, dear brother!"

Carnival music echoed throughout the darkened room. "Greetings and salutations, Wonderbolts!" The mustachioed stallion greeted. "Welcome to the Golden Apple Hotel and Resort! He's Flim--"

"--And he's Flam!" The clean shaven one echoed.

"--And we're the Flim Flam brothers, entrepreneurs nonpareil at your service!" The two stallions stepped forward, doffing their hats and bowing to the Bolts. Soarin and Surprise clapped in delight, while Fleetfoot, Misty, and Lightning all looked on with interest.

Rainbow merely glared. "Oh, it's you two. Shouldn't you be ripping off farmers or something?"

"Nonparwhat?" Surprise scrunched her muzzle in confusion.

"Okay, serious deja vu here. What are you two jerks doing, and where's your crappy cider machine?"

"Why, I'm wounded at the very thought!" Flam (Flim?) cried out. "As if we would try the same con *ahem* business venture twice. We're out of the apple game, my dear speedster. Your friend Applejack beat us fair and square, and we honored our deal."

"Too much competition in apples," his brother supplied. "No room for a pair of poor hardworking stallions like ourselves to make a bit. We've since diversified our business!"

Rainbow raised an eyebrow. "Diversified?"

"Yes, diversified!" Flim (Flam?) practically shouted. "We've invested in a wide variety of assets to reduce the risk of--"

"I know what it means!" Rainbow lied. "But what are you doing here?"

"You're looking at the new proprietors of the Golden Apple, the grandest--"

"--most sensational--"

"--most incredible casino hotel and resort in Las Pegasus! We're not quite through remodeling, but we've managed to tear down all of those tacky signs with Goldmane's name on them. Some stallions have no sense of class, wouldn't you agree brother?"

"Indeed I would! Now, what can we do for our guests of honor?" Flam hopped off the pedestal showcasing the flightsuit, taking Fleetfoot's hoof in his own. "After all, world-class ponies deserve world-class treatment!"

"Oh, go on, you!" Fleetfoot blushed and giggled at Flam's schmoozing. "No really, go on..."

"Ooh! Ooooh!" Surprise bounced up and down, raising a hoof like a schoolfilly who needed to use the restroom. "Can I have one of these?" She motioned to the powered flightsuit excitedly.

"You certainly can, my attention-deficit damsel!" Flim was next to her in a flash, leading her over to the military equipment on the dias. "We also happen to own a majority stake in Lockhoof-Flimflam Aerospace, and were just on our way to meet with your fearless leader to negotiate the sale of these fine machines! You're looking at the Lockhoof-Flimflam Mark 35 Variable Tactical Pegasuit, the latest in aerial combat! Equipped with advanced target recognition and acquisition, powered joints to enhance speed and reaction time, low-light, infrared, and aura sensors, vectored thrust for flight support in all ranges, and of course, the latest in camouflage and stealth technology!"

"Uh huh," Rainbow clearly wasn't buying it. "So you guys just happen to go completely on the level just a few months after Applejack runs you out of town for the second time in a year?" She hovered in front of them, hooves crossed in front of her chest. "I'm not buying it, in case you were wondering."

"I assure you, every word is true! We acquired this resort in a completely legitimate fashion!" Flim turned to Rainbow, who showed no signs of softening her front.

"Uh, guys?" Soarin attempted to get the attention of the group, who ignored him in favor of Rainbow's spat with the newcomers.

"Right, bet you guys swindled the old owner out of it!"

"As if! We swindled this business in the name of friendship and harmony! Ask Applejack, she helped us!"

"Guys?" Soarin tried again.

"Hah, now I really don't believe you!" Rainbow snorted. "What about the flightsuit business, did you charitably take that off some poor pony's hooves?"

"We can hardly be blamed if Mr. Marlin had a gambling addiction, and nopony wishes him a speedy recovery more than us," Flim and Flam doffed their hats, bowing their heads in sorrow at the mention of their company's previous owner.

"Yeah, you two were so brokenhearted you took him to the cleaners!"

"Now, we bought the Las Pegasus Express Drycleaners fair and square!"

"GUYS!" Soarin shouted. Everypony stopped arguing, and six sets of eyes turned towards him. "Surprise stole the suit while you were arguing."

They all turned to the pedestal, which now lay empty. A small handwritten note sat where the Mk35 once stood, illuminated by the bright spotlights. Soarin picked it up with a wing, unrolling it and reading aloud.

Hey best friends! It's me, Surprise! I'm not really here though, so somepony else is probably reading this out loud to everypony. I'm guessing Soarin! Hi Soarin!

"Hi, Surprise!" Soarin greeted the scroll. "Wait..." he thought for a moment as everypony looked at him incredulously.

Aaaaanyway, I got bored while Crashie was arguing with those nice stallions, so I figured I'd try out this thingy since Cap and Princess Luna are probably getting them for us as Hearthswarming presents anyway! It's soo cool, can't wait for all of you to try them too! I figured we could play a fun game of hide-and-go-seek to kick off our night in Las Pegasus! Outside the hotel is out of bounds, so grab whatever you can from the convention and get to it! Make sure whatever you take isn't too explodey though, we have a race tomorrow. First pony who tags me out wins! But if I get you first, then YOU'RE out! Heh, hahahahaMUAHAHAHAHA!

Sorry, just thought of something really funny from a few days ago! Okay, looks like Soarin is about to notice I borrowed this super suit so I better scram! Happy hunting, everypony!

XOXOXO
-Surprise

...

"Oh, horseapples..."

Author's Note:

And then they found her hiding under a table at Pony Stark's booth five minutes later, and enjoyed their night in Las Pegasus like responsible adults. The End.

For all you non-aviation nerds out there, the Lockhoof-Marlin (now Lockhoof-Flimflam) Mk35 is an Equestrian version of the Lockheed Martin F35 Lightning, and the complaints the Bolts have about it mirror some real world complaints about the program, mostly made by Internet experts such as myself that have never even seen one in real life, much less have any real experience with it. It resembles a streamlined, next-gen version of the getups Rainbow and the other flyers wore in the Season 5 finale's Sombra timeline.