• Published 8th Aug 2017
  • 892 Views, 46 Comments

Cascade! Clouds Above, Obfuscate! - WritingSpirit

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" S❍a̸r̴in "

Soarin' didn't have to turn back .

He didn't need to.

He didn't want to.

" S❍a̸r̴in • ɬꝏk • at • ᵯe "

He glanced back to the clouds hanging in the sky, watching them unfurling and undulating inside out, some of them flickering and shimmering from the errant clamors of lightning it was cooking up. They've stopped drifting some time ago, instead just content with staring down at him, scowling and sneering at the one pony who took notice of their dormancy. He couldn't help it — there was nothing else the sky had to offer anyway, nor was there anything worthy of note around him.

That's what he told himself, anyway.

" S❍a̸r̴in • ƿle⍺𐌔e "

"I can't."

" WĦ⅄? "

"You're not her," he muttered, his neck tensing. "You have her voice, you have her... her rasp, her tone, her attitude, everything, but I-I know it's not you, Rainbow Dash. That's not you, Dash, that's... you're not the real her."

" Яænḅ⚬w Dα𐌔ℏ "

Celestia, the temptation! The sweet, irresistible temptation! Every muscle, every tissue, every tendon in his neck, taut with urgency, with... with the need— no, the hunger! The hunger to recall... to remember... and all he needed to do was to just take a peek. All he needed was to sneak a peek at a face— her face. How did it look like? How would her eyes sparkle this time? How would her mane fall across her cheeks? How would she... how did she...

" S❍a̸r̴in¿ "

"You know, Rainbow Dash had this way of smiling," he began, striding down the endless balcony with his hoof trailing across the glass railing. "It wasn't cute or anything like that. It was just... I guess you could call it just an ordinary smile, but just a little more... special, probably." A brief chuckle. "Sorry I can't be of much help. I think if you'd ask anyone else, they'd say her smile's nothing more than the usual shtick. They'd say I'm just seeing things, and they're probably right, I might've been. That's before all this insomnia crap came along too. Yeah, might just be me."

" SɱɪL𐤄 "

"It's funny. I take my eyes off her smile for more than a couple of days, I can't piece it together anymore. Sometimes, when I think I have it... I don't know, it just doesn't feel right. It's not perfect. It's not her smile, you get what I mean? It's just not something I know Rainbow Dash would ever conjure up. It's below her. It's... she's something else." Soarin' sighed dreamily, stopping in his tracks as he struck an epiphany. "It must be... times like this when you realize you're in love with somepony. I think that's what they meant when they say that. I don't know how, I don't know why, I just know it happened and... I guess that's how things are now. Yeah, not much for sappy talk, but I'm a Wonderbolt, after all. That's just not what we do best. At the very least, she understood that."

" ŁoꝞe "

"What else could it be?" he muttered, gritting his teeth. "I'm not the strongest pony in the world, I know that. Not the smartest either. Rainbow's better at both of those than I am, if you'd ask me honestly, but..." Soarin' almost turned back to face whatever it was. "She wanted to try this out. She chose to. That must mean something, doesn't it? I mean, third date in, she basically just trusted me with her life and I just—" he paused, quietly grumbling. "That's why if I turn around now and look at you — you, her impostor, her doppelganger, the false Rainbow Dash — I might be inclined to believe that you were as perfect as the real thing when in reality, you're nowhere close to the Rainbow Dash I know. You're nothing like her, not even by a sliver of her hair. You're nowhere close to who she really was and what she represents, and for the life of me, if I knew what those things were, I'd already be turning around and yelling them right into your face but I don't. I knew if I turned around, I'd see her face again and I'd fall in love without harboring a second thought. I'm not as strong as her, I'm not as smart either, but I know one damn thing."

" S❍a̸r̴in "

"You're just a shadow," he snarled. "You're just an ugly, desperate, distressed, fanatical, brooding shadow. The last thing I'd ever do is to fall in love with the likes of you."

And with those coarse words, the sky burned black.

And with it, the world sank its fangs.

Soarin' woke to the sound of the buzzing sun.

The warmth felt distant. A manic chill swept underneath his wings and carried him up onto his hooves. Sweat covered his trembling form from head to hoof, soaking him in an oily sheen that would be the death of him in the days to come. His parched throat clung onto the faint humidity wafting in the air, his tongue hanging out as he panted like a dog. His head was searing madly, yet it was the least of his worries as of now.

Rainbow Dash was lying next to him. Soundly asleep, thank Celestia for that. Feverishly trembling though. Her hoof twitched and jerked about the ground, bearing small cuts and bruises she earned from pummeling through some branches. Her wings were fine, fortunately, save for a few larger cuts, but nothing life-threatening or dream-shattering, thanks to him catching her in time. Had he reacted any later, she would have to kiss her Wonderbolt dreams goodbye and join him in retirement, and though the last part does strike his fancy in the strangest way he could ever imagine, he'd rather she do it of her own volition instead.

Retirement would've been a big deal for Rainbow Dash.

He would know.

His gaze, however, was heeded towards the skies, blanketed fully by clouds with not a single ray of sunshine in sight. He knew the moment they emerged that this was not the forest they had traveled through before, as evidenced by the lack of smoldering green that should've been surrounding him. He would've warned Rainbow about it, though it was only a second too late. Whatever monster that swooped in and struck Rainbow Dash was still hovering somewhere up there, warily waiting for them to fly again just so it could slug them back down. He could hear it screeching and slobbering like a strangled pheasant, scratching at the petrified barks of the silver trees, sometimes even crying out for him with her voice. Her voice.

As if it hasn't done enough already.


"Hey, hey..." he muttered, quickly shuffling to her side. "Don't get up yet, Dash. You need some rest."

"Wa... water... water..."

With a nod, he rummaged through their satchels before pulling out a half-empty canteen. Gently, he tilted her head up, let a single thread of water slip through her cracking lips and trickle down her throat. Despite its flowing scarcity, Rainbow took her drink in large, eager gulps visible on her neck, and when she was done, she was smiling weakly at him as he spun the cap back onto the canteen.

"Feeling better?" he asked.

"Totally..." she groaned, wincing from another pang in her head. "This stupid god of darkness just... doesn't know when to quit... d-doesn't he?"

"Yeah," Soarin' chuckled, his left hoof latching onto hers while his right gently settled on her forehead. "Dammit, you're still burning bad up in there..."

"You're... burning up... too... aren't you?"

"One of us has to take care of the other," he muttered, swallowing. "Besides, yours is bad. Really bad. Way worse than mine. If mine's a heater, yours is the sun itself..."

"Heh, cheesy... and you're the r-retiree among us two..."

"Retired Wonderbolt... doesn't mean I stop taking care of my marefriend now, don't I?"


"Don't lose to this, Rainbow Dash. Just don't."

"I w-won't.... I promise..."



"I try to be," she jested, earning a laugh from him. "This... this is stupid... isn't it... I thought we'd get the artifact, but instead, we get... this... all of this..."

"You're still thinking about that, huh?"

"I can't... nothing else to... it's just..."

"Fourth date's gonna make you forget all about this, ya hear me?" he promised with a grin, planting a kiss on her forehead. "Get some rest now. You need it more than ever."



"I..." she trembled. "I'm scared..."

"Me too, Dash," he replied, trembling alongside her as the screeching started once more.

"Me too."