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

Cascade! Clouds Above, Obfuscate! - WritingSpirit

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XX͠XIV?




















"Wonderbolts, assemble!"

With a sharp swerve, Rainbow Dash swiveled upwards to the edge of the sky, spinning past the many lumps of clouds before screeching to a halt right at the peak of the world. Breathlessly panting, she turned back to view the small world beneath her, her smile burning bright from cheek to cheek, almost rivaling the marvelous glare of the sun behind her before swooping down towards the academy. Her eyes lit up when she spotted him standing by the runway and smiling right at her, before he reached out a hoof and gave her a wave.

"Nice lap there, Dash!".

Chuckling proudly at her coltfriend's praise, she did one last somersault before gliding towards the ground, her hooves breaking into a jog the moment they touched the asphalt. Without even a sliver of hesitation, she cantered right up to her smiling coltfriend and affectionately nuzzled his snout with a light nicker, their mingled breathes blithe and blissful.

"You looked beautiful up there," he tossed the line.

Of course, Rainbow took the bait. "Just beautiful?"

"Awesome too," Soarin' added smugly, the two of them chuckling.

"Dorms are that way, you two lovebirds."

Giggles and cackles swarmed upon the now-blushing pair, with Spitfire the one coyly leading the charge. "We won't be needing it soon, Spits," Soarin' jested in return, though it only deepened his marefriend's scarlet cheeks. "You guys were great out there too, by the way. This for the next show in Fillydelphia?"

"Bet your sweet flanks it is, Soar," Fleetfoot chimed in. "Though you know what would make our routine better?"

"If you're gonna say what I think you're saying, I don't think so."

"Aw, come on! All we needed to make this perfect was your signature moves!" she pressed on, with the rest of the team nodding and humming in agreement. "Just one more show, one more, then you can call it quits! Don't you think so, Dash?"

"Wha? Uh, um—"

"Hey, don't bring the lady into it," Soarin' interjected, though that only earned a few more laughs from the rest. "Okay, seeing what you guys cooked up, I think the routine's fine the way it is. Me joining in at the very last second might just blow it up, you know. Plus, you made the announcement about my retirement to the press already, didn't you Spits?"

"Not yet. Press pool bumped the schedule by an hour. I could, however, retract the topic of your retirement until the next one if you just say the word."

"Nah, I'm good. Nice try though."

Spitfire laughed heartily at that. "Thought I had you there. Still, I'm with everyone else here: I think you have one more show in you. It's all up to you in the end, though. Remember that."

On that note (and of course, with their captain's permission) the Wonderbolts dispersed, some of them returning to practice, the others to take a break to chatter among themselves. Turning her head towards her coltfriend, Rainbow opened her mouth to say something, only to notice the subtle crumple baking in between his brows. "You're not seriously reconsidering it now?" she muttered lowly.

"Doing one more show? Of course not. It's just..." he stopped, gazing up at the clouds again. "If you asked me that question a couple of months ago, I'd be all for it, no second thoughts. I'd still fly up there with you guys and enjoy it, probably. I mean, I still feel the thrill of it all and everything. Probably more than ever, especially since I've got everything down to a tee."

"So what's stopping you?"

"I don't know... no, I think I do, but I don't think it's the right answer. I wouldn't dream of it, but I... it's not right, it just isn't, I know it isn't—"

"What's stopping you, Soar?" she pressed onward. "Just tell me."

And with a gravest stare unlike the stallion she came to know and love, Soarin' sternly provided his answer.

"You."
























A tear.

Just another tear.

She lost count. Not the tears, for they're very clearly there on the fraying edges of the map, but she might as well lose count of them anyway. The clock in her head had stumbled in its tracks some time ago. Don't know if it was early or late, nor by how much. Minutes, hours, days even. Hopefully not the latter, or anything beyond it, for that matter. She wouldn't dream of it, especially with all the tears she made on the map. She wouldn't even want to think about it.

Not down here.

Not here.

Anywhere but here.

No, think of something else.

Something else. Anything else.

Soarin'.

He's sleeping again. Soundly this time. She would laugh at that if she could, though she was afraid it would wake him up. She didn't know how long he stayed up for this time around, but she'd always see his despondent smile every time she opened her eyes after waking up from all the naps she took before his turn came. He might've slept then, he might not. It's a gamble, at this point, much like flipping a coin to see whether it lands on its head or tail, or picking a card out during a game of blackjack, or wandering into some ancient temple on the notion that they'd actually make it out aliv—

No, no!

Soarin', back to Soarin'.

Retirement.

It's a big deal. It must be. It certainly was to Soarin', from the looks of it. She wouldn't understand it, yet she knew there's no need to. Soarin' has his reasons for retiring, and they were legitimate reasons to boot. She heard it straight from his mouth; there's no mistaken that he meant every word he said. Those were the reasons and the only reasons, period.

"Right?"

Rainbow Dash clamped her mouth shut.

It's her voice.

Definitely her voice.

"Soar?"

A whisper. A glance.

Still sleeping.

A sigh.

A tremble.

A tear.

Just another tear.

She didn't bother wiping it off at first. She just let it swirl there, right above her cornea, and sure enough, it began its meandering crawl down her cheek, clinging onto her even as it hung at the edges of her chin before finally taking its dive onto the cold stone floor. The next one followed it soon after, as did the next, as did the next, as did the next. Only then did she found the resolve to raise her hoof and start wiping them away, though that only encouraged them to come in full force.

"Dash? You, ah... you okay?"

"Dammit..." she mumbled, hearing the shuffling sounds and rumbling groans from behind her. "Y-Yeah, I'm... I'm fine, Soar. I just— well, um... temple's dusty as heck, and it's getting into my eyes, so—"

"It's fine to cry, you know," Soarin' tersely pointed out. "No one's gonna judge you for that. 'Specially not down here."

"I just... I..." she cowered. "I screwed up. I screwed it all up. If I knew, if I read a little more, then maybe th-there's a bit that says something about this! Maybe then we wouldn't be stuck here! Maybe we wouldn't just starve to death—"

"Don't say that!"

"That's how it's gonna be! That's what's gonna happen! We'll die here, Soarin'! This is it!" Rainbow shrieked, only to sink back down. "This is it for us... this is how we're gonna go... and it's because of me..."

"Dash, please—"

"I should've realized this was gonna happen... I should've known—"

"Should've known that there was nothing here, yeah, got that," he interrupted, much to her chagrin. "But that's just it, Dash. We're stuck here now. No one's fault, just an unfortunate set of circumstances, that's all. You don't have to blame for yourself for it, okay?"

"But I should've known, Soar! I-I should've— I just— I don't k-know why I-I-I—"

"There, there," Soarin' hushed, embracing Rainbow as she choked on her sniffles, her muffled whimpering and squeaking barely audible with her face buried in his chest. It was the only sound reverberating across all four corners of the room, and for the longest time, he held her like that, draining out every sour snivel and weathered whine that she could muster.

"it's not your fault, okay?" he reassured her once again when her sobs tapered off. "It's not your fault. Shh..."

"I'm sorry, Soarin', I'm so—"

"Wait."

Rainbow's glistening eyes shot up at him. "Wha... what is it?"

Soarin' craned his neck higher, closed his eyes and, in a moment that dumbfounded her, sniffed the air. "That smell..." he muttered, taking another whiff. "Did you smell that?"

"Smell what?"

"The moisture. It's like— no, it's definitely it! The bathhouse, remember?"

Soarin' suddenly scrambled to gather their things, stuffing everything she had carefully laid out into their satchels before she could even begin to speak, the flurry of excitement giddily flaring in his eyes churning from her a vehement groan. "Soarin', we don't have time for this!" she hissed, hoof meeting her face. "We've been stuck down here for Celestia knows how long, our food supply's running out—"

"Don't you realize what this means?" he abruptly shouted, stunning her as he gripped her by the shoulders. "Think back to the bathhouse! Come on!"

"Soarin', I d-don't think—"

"Just!" Soarin' stopped short to gulp in a huge breath of air. "You remember the bathhouse, don't you?"

"Y-Yeah, sure? And?"

"What do you remember?"

"Uh... the tub, the cold water, you talking about your insomnia—"

"No, other than that!" he yelled again, only to get a blank, somewhat frightened stare. "You really don't remember it?"

"Remember what?"

"The skylight! The bathhouse had a skylight!"

Silence.

"And the skylight leads outside—"

"Exactly."

"—so if we find the bathhouse—"

"Yeahh?"

"—we could use that to fly back outside!"

"Correct!"

"Soarin' you're a genius!" Rainbow laughed out loud, hugging her coltfriend tightly, if only for a moment. "Come on, we gotta find it before it vanishes! You can still smell it, can you?"

A smug grin. "Clear as day."

"Lead the way."

Without further ado, the two pegasi galloped from room to room, with Soarin' sticking his nose up in the air, sniffing about like a puppy despite Rainbow's horrible attempts at stifling her laughter, the mare following closely behind. Sure enough, the glistening waters of the tub soon came into view, and shooting right from above it, the wondrous sight of golden, crepuscular rays, streaking right out from the square-shaped opening in the ceiling.

"We... we did it..."

Neither knew who muttered that, but at that point, they most certainly didn't care. Wearing their most elated smiles, Rainbow and Soarin' ruffled their wings and zipped right through it, speeding out of reach from the tendrils of darkness, spiraling right through the palm fronds in the way with a splattering fanfare of dewdrops spraying their cheeks and right into the grand expanse of the orange-colored sky.

Rainbow Dash felt the rush of the morning air seep into her skin and churn in her lungs, panting and gasping as she kept herself aloft. Her wavering stare steadied itself, fixated at the cleft between a pair of mountains in the horizon, only to flicker when the burning glare of the sun struck her irises, her hoof immediately jerking up to shield her eyes. She blinked and blinked, squinting long and hard to chase away the flashing circles dancing in front of her face, before realizing that she was convulsing with the lightest of chuckles.

"We did it..." she finally found the words, shaking like a leaf as her eyes swiveled to regain focus. "We actually did it... By the princesses, we actually did it! Soar! We did it! We actually did it, we— Soar?"

Silence.

"Soar? Soarin'?"

Silence.

"Soarin'?" she yelled, whirling around and about, gaze frantically darting across the clouds. "Soarin'! Soarin', where did you—"

A loud thud rung in her head, followed by a screeching ring.

Her head shattered, the thoughts contained within swiveling over and over and over into oblivion. The clouds spun rapidly above her, so much so that they all became a frivolous blur. She felt herself plunging backwards, her hooves gracelessly scrambling about in search for a grip, only to have it be constricted. From the edges of her eyes came the darkness, blotting her world like ink spots, black rivulets slowly spreading, slowly growing, slowly devouring the last of her vision, before the blackness burst all at once from the dam with one last bang.

The last thing she saw was Soarin's grin, as the darkness swallowed her whole.