• Published 26th Aug 2017
  • 4,860 Views, 778 Comments

To Perytonia - Cloudy Skies

Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy and Rarity are tasked with establishing ties between Equestria and the strange people of Perytonia. Understanding and connecting with your own friends may yet be the bigger challenge. Updates every Tuesday and Saturday!

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“Now, because the original journal is kept in Canterlot, I’ve written you each a copy of the most important points of Red Sun Runner’s report. If you don’t remember, or if you didn’t pay attention,” said Twilight, looking straight at Rainbow Dash for a moment, “she’s the explorer who met with the Perytonians.”

The unicorn hovered three identical sheafs of paper in front of her, and Dash noted that they were mercifully small. They couldn’t be more than a couple of pages each.

“To conserve space, I kept my writing as neat as possible, and I wrote on both sides,” Twilight added, beaming while Dash’s ears wilted. “It covers all she wrote about her royal task of meeting with one of the peryton, and how they together set up this meeting for us.”

“I don’t wish to discredit your work, or the importance of our task, but I still wish we could all go,” Rarity said. “Though, of course, I appreciate getting to bring my creations to a new audience,” she added with a small smile.

“We’re still in this together,” Twilight replied, though she didn’t sound perfectly content either. She put one copy of her notes in front of Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy and Rarity each. “The rest of us are doing the same thing as you three, even if we’re not going in the same direction.”

“Or at the exact same time!” Pinkie Pie piped. “Or to visit the same people! So, almost the same, if almost means ‘not at all, but kind of’?”

Rainbow Dash shrugged and looked past her friends. “We’ll be fine,” she said. Words in response to doubt, like wings would spread in the wind. Through the large windows of their shared hotel room, she could see Las Pegasus come alive in defiance of the setting sun. Bright, magically illuminated signs with infinite cheerful colours all vying for attention.

“Of course we will,” Pinkie said. She lay on her back at the foot of the bed, idly playing with Fluttershy’s mane. “But you know what’s better than being fine with friends? Being fine with more friends, that’s what!”

“I really think it would be a lot better if we could all go together too,” said Fluttershy, nodding her head and smiling as Pinkie Pie tied a huge, loose bow-tie with her mane, “especially when it’s so far.”

“I don’t disagree, but the Princesses wouldn’t ask us to split up and act as ambassadors if it wasn’t important,” Twilight retorted. Her eyes grew wide with wonder as she went on, “but as excited as I am about our own journey, I wish I could join you three in Perytonia too. It sounds like such a fascinating place!” She clopped her hooves together, her smile fading a touch. “Well, from what little we know of it, anyway. I’ve never even seen one of their kind, and I don’t think many others have, either—do you know how long it’s been since the last time a Perytonian delegation visited Equestria? Over a millennium! It predates our current calendar!”

Dash yawned, and unlike Applejack, she didn’t try to conceal it. She could hear Twilight’s brain spooling up for another lecture on some fascinating fact about their destination. She quickly stood up, bounced off the bed and flicked the mane out of her face.

“Hey, so, since we’re leaving town early tomorrow, I’m going to head out for a bit and have some fun. Who’s with me?”

Twilight frowned, forestalled. “Now? Shouldn’t you prepare? You three are the ones leaving early tomorrow. The rest of us don’t leave for another few days.”

“We’ve been ready forever,” Dash said. “You’ve had time to read books on Perytonia, and make us notes even though you’re not even going there. I’ve had plenty of time to pack.” Twilight didn’t need to know that most of her packing had been a two-minute rush job yesterday morning.

“While you both have excellent points, and we are very grateful for Twilight’s help—” Rarity said, shooting a sharp look at Rainbow Dash, as though she knew the pegasus toyed with the idea of ‘forgetting’ the report when they left tomorrow, “—I think I am going to go over my fabrics one last time, just in case I’ve forgotten anything, so I won’t be leaving the hotel.”

Applejack shook her head as well. She cast a look out the window and it was obvious she didn’t see the same things Dash had seen. “And I think I’ve about had my fill of Las Pegasus for the moment. Sorry R.D., but I’m sitting this one out.”

“No one wants to come along?” Dash asked, her eyes flitting from friend to friend. “Seriously?”

“Sorry! I promised Twilight I’d help make paper cranes out of some of her books,” Pinkie said.

“I asked you to help me with my packing logistics,” Twilight said in a voice that suggested disagreement.

“Yep!” Pinkie chimed in a tone that suggested the opposite, glancing around at the room that, thanks to Twilight’s presence, answered to ‘library’ as well as ‘hotel bedroom’.

“Oh, come on,” Dash said, puffing out her cheeks. As much fun as Las Pegasus was—and as boring as it was listening to Twilight read out loud from her history books—she had no desire to go by herself. She turned to Fluttershy on reflex. The quiet pegasus seemed content under Pinkie’s ministrations, but she looked back up at Rainbow Dash. She hadn’t said anything, but the fact that she met Dash’s eyes told her everything she needed to know. She wouldn’t have to leave the hotel alone.

“Fluttershy, let’s go!” said Dash, smiling at her. “You and me!”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Fluttershy said, ducking under her own mane. “There are ever so many ponies out there now. I just don’t think—”

“Sure you do,” Dash said, trotting over to the bed and prodding her upright with a snout to her flank. “Come on, it’ll be fun!”

“But—” Fluttershy tried as Dash marched her towards the door. She glanced back at all their other friends.

“See ya later!” said Dash, giving Fluttershy one final push through the door and stepping out into the hotel hallway herself. “If any of you want to join us, we’ll be down Proudmane Lane!”

“I, um, I guess we will. Bye, girls?” Fluttershy said, finally walking without Rainbow Dash’s insistence. Pinkie Pie waved enthusiastically, and the rest of them said their goodbyes. Twilight disappeared behind a book, and Pinkie Pie set to work on Applejack’s mane instead.

“Proudmane Lane? The lovers’ walk?” Rainbow Dash heard Rarity say, their friends’ voices fading as they set off towards the stair room at the end of the hall. Fluttershy gave her a questioning look, one brow arched.

“I saw someone setting up a bucking competition in a small market square just off Proudmane when we were heading to the hotel this morning,” Dash explained, hopping from each landing to glide to the next before waiting for her friend. She couldn’t keep the excitement out of her voice. “I’ve seen those before, it’s all about kicking the hardest you can. It’s gonna be awesome! Hey, d’you want to grab something to eat too?”

“Sure,” Fluttershy said, smiling back at her. “I know the Princesses are paying for the hotel and everything, but I feel a little bad for using the room service.”

“If they’re going to send us to the other side of the world, I’ll take the room service,” Dash replied, grinning, “but right now, I just really want hayfries. I guess that’s why you wanted to come along too?”

“I didn’t really—” Fluttershy began, pausing to wave at the porter as they passed through the luxurious hotel lobby, and interrupted again when the door closed on the tip of her tail. Dash gave the door a push. “I mean, hayfries would be nice,” Fluttershy finally said, yanking her tail away with a thank-you to Dash.

Rainbow Dash had already decided she would win. The two pegasi trotted down the bright avenue, and though her eyes stung from all the gaudy signs that tried to sell them on luxurious dinners, jewellery, trinkets, and whatever “magical experiences” were, her attention was glued to the bucking post poking up over the crowd of ponies.

The gathering around the wooden pole was probably small by Las Pegasus standards, but soon, they would all be cheering for her. Dash grinned with giddy anticipation, stretching her wings out.

“Eep, excuse me,” Fluttershy said when one of Dash’s wingtips got in her face. She nearly lost the hayfries she carried in the nook of a wing.

“Sorry,” Dash said, bursting out laughing. She kicked off, launching into a quick vertical loop, barely leaving the ground. “This is gonna be awesome!”

“Oh, I’m sure it will,” Fluttershy said, smiling back at her while shielding their snacks with her other wing.

Dash beckoned Fluttershy to follow, leading the way through the crowd as it changed from the fast flow of the streets to the syrup around the square ahead. A few excuse-mes and nudges later, the two pegasi stood at the front, given free view to the small plaza’s main attraction.

Attached to a padded pole on a metal base stood a mechanical contraption of some sort, half dials, half shiny steel. Inside the ring of spectators moved a unicorn mare and an earth pony stallion who were both dressed up in bright colours, hats and ties. Signs advertising some nearby casino or other were all over the place.

“Is anyone else thinking we’ll never see anyone beat the record set earlier today?” the mare asked, trotting along the edge of the crowd. Her horn glowed, no doubt with some spell to strengthen her voice.

“None here brave enough to risk complete humiliation for the chance at no prize at all?” the stallion yelled from over by the pole to a smattering of laughter. A moment later, a mare stumbled into the ring, pushed out of the crowd by her friends, but she hid amongst the others again before the prowling unicorn saw her.

“I can take a running start, right?”

A few heads turned at Dash’s question, and when the unicorn mare beckoned her forth, she had everyone’s attention. Dash grinned at Fluttershy and received a tentative smile in return.

“Of course, colourful little madam!” the unicorn said with a genial smile, stepping up to Dash with a torrent of words, “though in the spirit of fairness, and in trying to keep things safe, keep your legs on the ground, will you? One try per person! Now give it your best shot, don’t be shy, and when you don’t measure up, don’t mind the laughter!”

“Sure,” Rainbow Dash said, her voice lost in the giggles and chatter of the crowd. She couldn’t keep the smug smirk from her face. She was going to be the one laughing. She only had about ten strides of runway to work with, but that was enough.

All around her, the crowd murmured in anticipation. By and large, they were city ponies, and even though a few of the mares and stallions were well built, she didn’t see any Apple family ponies in the crowd.

“The record is twenty-four points on the buck-o-meter, girl,” the stallion said, pointing to the mechanical device at the base of the pole. “Think you can—?”

Dash didn’t think. She did. She went from a low crouch to a gallop before he finished his sentence, flapping her wings twice to add to her speed. Dash nearly overshot, flipping and turning on the spot to bring her hindlegs to bear at the pole. The pegasus didn’t have Applejack’s technique or strength, but she had speed on her side. A lot of it. Her hooves impacted against the padding with a solid thwack.

Rainbow Dash narrowly avoided falling, overbalanced, but she recovered in time to rear up for style points, keeping her back to the pole as it wobbled. Cool mares didn’t need to look at the results. At the edge of her vision she saw the stallion reach out to steady the target and peer at the little device as the crowd grew quiet.

“Twenty-six point eight! That’s a new record!” the stallion roared, and the ponies all around cheered, stomping their hooves in delight. “What is your name, miss?” he yelled over the noise.

“Name’s Rainbow Dash!” she said, puffing out her chest, but any hopes that the crowd would take her name up as a chant barely had time to form. Already the cheers faded, and the drum of hooves petered out. The stallion scrawled her name and score on a piece of paper and put it on a board Dash hadn’t noticed before. The unicorn trotted along the edge of the crowd once more, egging ponies on, daring them to take on Rainbow Dash’s new score. Any of you think you’ve got what it takes to beat this filly? No? Maybe you’ll have better luck at the Lucky Lasso Casino!

Dash made her way back towards Fluttershy, letting the disappointment slide right off her. Winning never got old, but it was no Equestria’s Best Young Fliers, nor had she saved the world. It had been a nice thrill, and little more. It felt good to see Fluttershy’s face when she found her friend again, though.

As nice as the cheer of the masses was, Fluttershy’s small but sincere smile was just as important, if not more. It was hard to tell if Fluttershy was happy for her win, or if she was glad Rainbow Dash was back to save her from being squished by the surrounding ponies. Probably both, and that was fine. Dash was glad she hadn’t come alone regardless.

“That was very impressive, I’m really happy for you,” Fluttershy said, her wings half spread—as much as the ponies around her allowed for it. Dash nudged one of her neighbours aside to make room for herself, grabbing a few hayfries from Fluttershy when proffered. “I almost thought you’d miss the pole,” Fluttershy added.

“Pff, as if,” Dash said. Sure, she could have missed, but she didn’t. She grabbed another mouthful of fries and watched as a large unicorn stallion ran up to the pole. He kicked out as hard as he could, but he barely hit it, misjudging the distance. Dash couldn’t hold back a snicker once she was sure the stallion hadn’t hurt himself. “I don’t think anyone’s gonna beat that record today,” she said.

“I’m sure you’re right,” said Fluttershy. “Applejack would’ve loved to try this too,” she mused, nibbling at the fries.

Rainbow Dash frowned. As much as she didn’t want to admit it, Applejack would probably beat her. That was part of why she hadn’t tried to get a rise out of her and get Applejack to come along. Butting heads with her was always fun, but she had to concede hind leg strength almost in the same way Applejack had to default on flying.

Another pegasus mare ran up and kicked the pole. A decent kick, but nothing to write home about. Applejack could likely kick the pole apart, really. She imagined the powerful earth pony mare running up to the thing, the horrified looks on the attendants’ faces. The image was good for a giggle or two. Fluttershy gave her a questioning look, but before she could explain herself, Dash imagined Fluttershy giving it a go instead.

She expected to laugh twice as hard at the notion. Fluttershy would run up and kick at it to no effect at all, but it just didn’t strike her as funny. Nor did the idea of the crowd chanting Fluttershy’s name if she did well. It was all some shade of crazy, maybe, but it didn’t make her laugh. She wanted to see it.

“Hey, you should give it a go!” Dash said. Sure, she wouldn’t beat Dash’s score, but maybe the crowd would appreciate her trying, at least. Her wing joints itched. They’d better. She would be peeved if they didn’t.

Fluttershy’s wings snapped to her side, and the hayfries spilled everywhere. She looked around frantically. “Me?” she asked, looking around as though she hadn’t noticed the crowd before now.

“Yeah!” Dash said, tapping Fluttershy on the rump with one of her wings, trying to prompt her forwards.

“No, I don’t think that’s a good idea,” said Fluttershy, unmoving.

“Come on, what’s the worst that could happen? Just give it a try!” Dash pushed lightly against her with her wing again.

“I’d really rather not, no,” Fluttershy said, taking a half-step back against Dash’s wing. She wore no expression at all, her eyes on the centre of the plaza.

Dash furled her wing in a second and without a word. That oddly pervasive image of Fluttershy trying her hoof at this silly competition nearly made Dash push harder, nearly had Rainbow Dash plant her head to Fluttershy’s flank and scoot her into the plaza—but she didn’t.

Though she didn’t protest further, Fluttershy’s jaw was set. There was no discussion to be had, and it took Rainbow Dash exactly zero time at all to drop her budding frown and shrug. She brushed at Fluttershy’s mane to shake loose some errant fries instead. “Alright, that’s cool,” said Dash. “Let’s go get some more fries. I don’t wanna head back just yet.”

“Okay,” Fluttershy said, her wings given a little more slack. “I guess we could do that.” Her chest heaved with a deep breath.

Rainbow Dash grinned and led the way through the throng, making a walkable path for Fluttershy too, and the other pegasus kept close. “We should go see if there are any other contests that need a touch of awesome too!”

“I don’t know,” Fluttershy said. “It’s getting a little late, and we’re leaving early tomorrow.”

Rainbow Dash didn’t even have time to insist. She looked back at Fluttershy with her most winning smile. The yellow mare shook out her wings one by one once they were through the crowd, letting out a little sigh of relief.

“But okay. I guess we could do that, too. It is our last day in Equestria for a while.” She smiled.

Dash whooped, hooking Fluttershy’s neck with the nook of one of her wings to up their speed a little. “Come on, I think I saw some games just down the street!”