• Published 12th May 2017
  • 3,553 Views, 138 Comments

Embracing the Fog - SunnyDays



Clearly, Spitfire and Fleet didn't seem to need him anymore. There was no turning back after this, no amounts of "I'm sorry"s that could make this right. Soarin was done being a Wonderbolt.

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1 - Hollow Shades

Soarin clenched the map in his teeth, fighting with the wind as he approached the hidden forest town. He felt weirdly naked and cold without his flight suit on, and the trees before him looked even colder with the thick sheet of darkness settling over it.

Why would Shadey settle here?’ He asked himself as he tucked the paper into his saddlebag and dove into the shadows.

Nightshade wasn’t expecting him, and that was almost a good thing for once. He wasn’t exactly sure what he’d say to her, and he definitely didn’t know what she’d think of his news. Would she be angry? She had all rights to be angry, but he just felt… dead inside, defeated. And in the end, there was no one else to turn to but his sister.

He landed on the rope bridge on the canopy of the treeline. Blinking, he looked around at the darkened treetop homes of the thestrals that lived here in Hollow Shades. The rest of Equestria was too bright for most of them to live normally during the day, so they hid out in the darkened treetops here in the forest, high above any arcane creatures that might lurk below.

“Uhh, hello, I’m looking for the Shadowbolts compound?” Soarin asked a local, who just blinked at him in confusion, walking right past him, “Wait, wait!” He poked the thestral in the side, the bat pony turning around and baring his fangs.

“SCREEEEE!” He hissed cutely.

Soarin blinked, “Oops, sorry! I’ll just, uh, go now!” Soarin backed off quickly, leaving the pouting thestral staring after him.

Another thestral giggled from behind them, “...You know, that was more cute than threatening, Jon.”

“Shut up Emile!” The fuming one barked, an echo that followed Soarin as he ran.

With the angry one left behind, Soarin plodded through the town, bat ponies giving him suspicious glances all throughout. As he continued to ask around about the Shadowbolts Headquarters, a figure watched him from the darkness.

“Hmph.” She scoffed to herself before ducking back past the branches, gliding down to the forest floor and easily spotting a grey stallion foraging through the plants below. “Charger!” She called, landing beside him.

“Mmm, hello madame.” He smirked, that rich Detrot accent in full play as he adjusted the goggles on his face. “Come to give me a little company?” With him leaning in, the thestral mare had to bat away the strand of dull teal, spiked mohawk that fell in her face.

“I’m not here for that, Charger.” She responded flatly.

“A message from Luna, then? I’d be more than happy to give her a good time.” Charger chuckled, “It must be lonely out in the ni-”

“-No, Charger, focus!” The thestral snapped, shoving him off of her, “There’s a random pegasus tooling around town asking about you guys. Everyone’s been quiet, but you need to know.”

Charger’s mouth pressed into a thin line, “What’s the description?” He asked, suddenly serious.

“Pegasus stallion, dark blue mane, light blue coat, green eyes.” She nodded, and Charger let out a long sigh of annoyance.

“Dumb voice, lightning bolt cutie mark?” Charger asked.

She blinked, “Do you know him?”

“Why yes, yes I do.” Charger said in an equally flat voice, “Well… At least Nightshade’s going to be happy today.” He muttered, “Thanks, uh, captain.”

“Aurora Glitz.” She said simply, “And you’re welcome. Get him out of the streets.”

Charger nodded, “Don’t worry, the dude’s harmless. Mostly.” He took to the air, flying up to the bridges and spotting Soarin easily from the crowds. “You lost, buddy?” He asked as he landed next to the blue stallion.

“Charger!” Soarin exclaimed, “It’s about time, I figured making a commotion would bring someone to me.”

“Well, it worked.” Charger sighed, running a hoof through his mane, “I take it you’re here to see Nightshade, then?”

“...Yeah.” Soarin smiled weakly, “Let’s say that.”

Charger paused, suddenly less annoyed, “Isn’t it mid-season for you guys? As a matter of fact, aren’t the Equestria Games coming up?”

Soarin pawed at the ground, “Could we, uh, could we see Nightshade now?”

Charger stared at him for a few more moments before nodding. Clearly, something was off here, something meant to be between his captain and her brother. “...Alright, follow me.” He said, taking to the sky.

“Thanks, Charge.” Soarin said, launching into the air after the grey stallion, and the two glided to the forest floor. ‘Huh?’ Soarin looked around, trotting after Charger. “...This is it?”

“Yeah, Soarin, we live in the whole forest.” Charger said.

Soarin rolled his eyes, “Clearly. But how come? Shouldn’t you guys be, you know, closer to the skies?”

“Well, unlike you guys, we need to hide out. Living in a city, like, say, Cloudsdale, is a bit obvious.” He scoffed, “Might as well put up a giant neon sign that says ‘THE PEGASI ARE HERE!’

“...I mean, I guess that makes sense.” Soarin nodded to Charger. Said stallion pushed past a large bush to reveal the entrance to a concrete bunker in the ground, opening the door for Soarin.

“Get in.” He said simply.

“...You guys live here?” Soarin nearly flinched. As a pegasus, all of his senses were telling him that being trapped underground was an awful idea.

“Yeah, don’t order any pizzas, they’ll never find us.” Charger smirked, swinging the door, “Now, you comin’ or not?”

“Uh… Okay…” Soarin trodded slowly into the bunker, biting his lip as Charger followed and the loud door settled heavily behind him. A dark hallway laid before them, another door at the end. Pulling ahead, Charger made three loud knocks before a section of the door slid open.

“What’s the password~?” Giggled a voice.

“Blitz, let’s not do this again.” Charger sighed.

ANNNT! WRONG~!” Blitz chuckled, “But there actually is a password~! What is it?” The sweet voice growled suddenly.

“Nightshade said we couldn’t use this as the password.” Charger said simply.

“She said you couldn’t say wh-” Soarin’s question was cut off by the door opening.

-DING!” The door opened into a small room with a desk, a chair thrown aside probably in a fit of excitement, if Soarin knew his sister’s teammate well enough. “HI SOARIN! WOW IT'S BEEN A LONG TIME! WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?! ARE YOU LOOKING FOR NIGHTSHADE?! HOW’S LIFE?!” The blue-violet mare was in his face in an instant, her two-toned blue mane sizzling with electricity as she talked quickly.

Soarin’s head spun a little trying to process all the fast talking. Yep, Blueball Blitz was still the same. “H-Hey Blitz! Yeah, I’m looking for Nightshade, any idea where she is? I need to talk to her immediately.”

“OH YEAH! I KNOW WHERE SHE IS!” She nodded rapidly, “WHAT’RE YOU DOING HERE?!” She bounced mid air.

“I, uh, I-I’m visiting!” He yelped a little, forcing a smile on his face.

“HAVE YOU EVER VISITED THE HQ BEFORE?!” She trotted alongside him, still very close, “I DON’T THINK I’VE SEEN YOU SINCE WE LEFT CLOUDSDALE!”

“No, I haven’t.” Soarin said simply, watching Blitz hop around, “But Nightshade’s kept in touch with me, just in case I needed to visit. Well, here I am!” He forced another smile.

“YOU OKAY?! YOU SEEM…” She paused her hopping, looking at him strangely, “Pained.”

“Yeah, I noticed that too.” Charger nodded.

His ears drooped, but his smile only softened, and seemed less forced. “Well… That’s not too far from the truth. I really need to talk to Nightshade.” He told the two.

“Yeah, I think she’s in her office.” Blitz nodded, calming down a little.

“Thanks...Can you point me that way?” Soarin blinked.

“Sure! Follow me!” Blitz led him down a hallway connecting the main entrance to everything else in the base, a skip still in her step, and stopped next to the right door. On the way over, Charger had split off from them, going into his own bunk.

Soarin smiled at her, “Thanks again, Blitz.”

“Nooooo problem!” She skipped away as he knocked on the door.

After a few moments, he heard his sister call, “Come in!”

Soarin paused and took in a breath. He was about to ruin his sister’s day, and he knew it. So, with another calming breath, he opened the door. “Hey, Shade.”

“Soarin!” The mare beamed, “I didn’t know you were coming!”

“Surprise!” He grinned, genuinely forgetting his troubles for the moment seeing his little sister’s excitement.

“It's so good to see you, big bro!” She bolted over, nuzzling him.

He draped his wing over her back, pulling the light blue mare close to him, ruffling her similar dark blue mane, “Aww, I haven’t seen you in your suit in a long time!” He grinned.

She laughed, “We just got back from some low temperture training, but why didn’t you write ahead? You’ve never visited us on base before.”

The smile slowly slid from his face, rubbing the back of his head, “Well. S-Sorry. I. Um.” He sighed, deciding just getting it out would be best. “I needed to talk to you, because I need your help.”

“My help?” She blinked, “Anything. What’s wrong?”

He sighed, “I’m not going back to Cloudsdale, Shade. I can’t do it. ...I resigned from the Wonderbolts.”

“...I’m...sorry?” She tilted her head, not quite comprehending what he had just said.

“I quit the team, Shade. I’m no longer a member of the Wonderbolts. The Wonderbolts don’t have a co-captain anymore.” He repeated, understanding her disbelief.

“Wh...why?! You helped run the team, you’ve wanted to be a member since you were little! Why did you quit?!” The disbelief only increased across her face, “What, did you pull a ‘Blightshade’ or something?” She tried to joke, dicing up her confusion.

Soarin smiled weakly, “No, but Spitfire did, sorta. …” He looked at the floor, “I, um, nearly died yesterday.”

...what?!” Her eyes widened hugely, “DIED?!

“Sprained my wing in the middle of training, plummeted.” He laughed nervously, “I was probably three feet from the ground before someone finally did something.” He frowned, thinking back on it. “Spitfire just stood there.”

She hissed, “Your teammate, the only other one that’s been there since you started on the team, didn’t DO ANYTHING?!” She steamed.

“That wasn’t even the worst of it!” Soarin scowled, “Then, it took everyone like ten minutes to even check up on me, they were too busy cheering for my rescuer!”

The pale blue pony was rapidly turning red, “WHAT?!” The walls of her office rattled as her mane bristled.

“Then, no one even showed up to visit me while I was in the hospital!” He fumed with her, “Even worse still! Spits tried to replace me without my consent!

“...” Nightshade’s eyes were the size of pin needles and her face had gone redder than an apple. She stomped over to her desk and grabbed her saddle bags.

Soarin noticed. “Shade, no.” He said quickly. “I already gave her what for when I quit. I really need your help right now. I have no job, and no place to stay.”

“I’m going to fucking kill her.” Her voice shook slightly, but was fairly well contained, “You’re the one thing I trusted her over. Screw the hiding, no one hurts you and fucking gets away with it!” Well, she was contained.

“Shadey, listen, that can wait.” Soarin said, trying to calm her down. “I’ve pretty much disappeared since I’ve quit, and at this rate all I be doing is heading back so she can hunt me down and beg and plead for me to retake my position.”

“SO LET’S RUB HER FACE IN IT!” She hissed, “And maybe scare her with some ghosts from the past.” A dark frown crossed her face.

“...look, your ex-co-leader is unemplooooooyed~!” Soarin said in a spooky tone, jokingly.

Nightshade just sighed, anger dissipating, “What in Tartarus?...Start from the beginning. What happened?”

Soarin sighed, “Well, it started with Cloudsdale choosing Spitfire, Fleetfoot, and I to represent the city in the Equestria Games tryouts…” He explained the situation of Rainbow Falls, his sprained wing that was easily healed with magic, meeting Rainbow in the hospital, and the confrontation after leading to his resigning rather than forgiveness. That cost the Wonderbolts and Cloudsdale the competition. “Then I flew back to the compound, grabbed what little I had to my name, and immediately flew here.” He said.

“I’ll get you a bed. We don’t really have extra rooms, so I’ll get you some space in my room.” She flopped her head down on her desk, “...ugh.”

He trotted over, kissing her cheek, “Thank you, Shadey. I’m sorry that I had to dump all of this on you.”

“Hey, family sticks by each other.” She pulled her head back up, nodding, “Stay as long as you need. Hell, move in.” Shade snickered, “Just don’t become a couch bum. That’s Charger’s job.”

“I heard that.” Came from down the hall, making the two chuckle to themselves.

“I’ll do my best to find a job around here. I get restless doing nothing. Naturally, that’s your fault.” Soarin prodded her side playfully.

She weakly shoved him off, “Maybe you’d like to cook for now? I’m sure the others would appreciate it. Better than playing another round of ‘Guess which food is the one that moves’ with Charger.” She snorted, “Blitz is very good at it.” Nightshade shook her head with a laugh, getting her mind off Spitfire...for now.

“Want me to make and bring you sandwiches like I did when you were in flight camp~?” He teased.

“Only if you wear the dumb apron.”

“Oh, bet on it!” He grinned dumbly.

“The guys are gonna love having you around. Trust me. Just expect Stratus to not understand a lot of your jokes.”

“That’s fine, I don’t understand Stratus in general.” Soarin chuckled, readjusting the bag on his shoulder, glancing around at the windowless walls.

“Uncomfortable?” Nightshade asked, looking up at her ceiling, painted to look like the open night sky, “...You’ll get used to it.” She sighed with a weak smile. “Everyone feels a bit claustrophobic when coming down here for the first time. ...I’ll show you to my bunk, we can put down your stuff there.”

“After that, sounds like I have kitchen duty.” Soarin grinned.

Nightshade snorted, “I have never heard of someone being excited for that.”

“Well, it means I’m helping and not just sitting around.” Soarin said as they walked back out into the hallway, “...What should I cook?”

“May as well go with something simple for now. Dig around and see what you can scrounge up.” There was a pause as the two walked toward Nightshade’s bunk. “It's gonna be great having you around again, bro.” She said softly.

“Yeah! Being close is going to be great!” Soar grinned, his stride more confidant now, “I won’t be so busy, and can actually be here for Hearth's Warming!”

“All that and more, but it also means you have to deal with Blitz’s antics like the rest of us.” She grinned.

“Is that the only downside? ‘Cause I can take that!”

“We’ll see with time.” She laughed, “Either way...” She trotted over to the front of him, pulling Soarin into a hug, “It's good to have you back, bro.”

He kissed her head, “Good to be back, Sis. Maybe retirement will have its perks.” He winked.

“Is it really retirement though?” She smiled, “I doubt you’re done flying for good.”

“I never said I’d stop flying! I’m just retired from the Wonderbolts specifically.”

She giggled, “Then let’s get to work getting you settled in, you still have more of the teammates to meet. They’re not the Wonderdolts, but I’m sure you’ll come to find them just as much of a family.”

“I’m sure they will be.” ‘And better.’ He added mentally as the two headed into Nightshade and Soarin’s now shared bunk, dumping his belongings onto Nightshade’s bed before heading into their main lounge.

Soarin just hoped he’d be able to make a good first impression.

---

Spitfire stared at the goggles on her desk, still unable to believe they were actually there. ‘No. I know when I’ve been used, Spitfire. You want a better flier? Good luck.’ She flinched again as Soarin snapped at her, slamming the goggles on the table near their tents, ‘I’m done with being stepped on by you and Fleetfoot! Go find someone else to ignore.

“...” The fiery-maned mare let her head hang, breathing hitched. It was over, just like that. She’d lost her teammate, and her best friend. She had let her competitive nature take over, and dragged her coltfriend through the mud. And now, it was all over.

What had she done?

Author's Note:

A lot of you probably aren't used to seeing the Shadowbolts being portrayed like this, huh? Well, rest assured, they're not evil. They are the Wonderbolts' biggest rivals, but they serve an actual purpose in Equestria. That's something you'll see in the next chapter.

Also, this is going to be my back-burner story of sorts. Empty Skies will take priority if it's not a back-and-forth of both. I just love this idea too much to wait until after E.S. is done.

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