• Published 16th Jul 2012
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Pony POV Series Season Three: Butterflies - Alex Warlorn



Discord beaten. Reality restored. But invisible wounds must heal too. Time for butterflies to fly.

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Pony POV Series Episode 24: "Bolts Of Wonder"

My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic
Pony POV Series Side Stories Nights 'Bolts of Wonder'

Why was I even bothering coming at night? I was a lot less likely to disturb her if I came during the day. And it wasn't like anypony was going to recognize me out of my flight suit anyway. Nopony ever did.

It could be a hippogriff under that costume and no pony would know the difference. I was as interchangeable as anypony else in the group. Some of the casual fans were actually confused about how big the group is.

Well let me settle that right now for you. There is no 'fixed' number of Wonderbolts as a lot of the uninitiated think. The group's numbers decrease and increase as old members retire and new blood is pumped in to take their place.

None but my, pst, our true die hard fans bothered to learn what some of us excelled at and fell short of. After all, underneath the flight suit, I, we could be anypony. How many actually cared that Fleetfoot was the quickest? Well, some betting ponies I'm sure, but those sitting in the stands watching us perform? You think they care what my name is?

Rapidfire had me and Soarin' be the ones to attend the main Gala after the show because he said we were the most photogenic. Of course no one said 'Soarin' and Spitfire' are here, it was 'The Wonderbolts' are here. Even though over half of us were missing outside of the VIP lounge. Like we were part of a collective.

Oh don't get me wrong. I LOVE to fly, and I take pride that I've managed to get this far and I've kept my place not because of relatives like the tabloids said once before they flirted onto somepony else. I'm a 'Bolt because I AM that good! Because I move like lightning and I can turn on a bit! The crowd cheers because me and my team understand and trust each other; we've each worked long and hard to pull off the stunts we do! It's a privilege paid in coats of drenched sweat and sore wings. Being a Wonderbolt is an -honor-!

These thoughts give me strength as I raise my head high, flying a lot slower than I normally do, without a trail of thunder clouds behind me. I fly over Ponyville but I don't land, the village isn't my precise destination.

Maybe why I came at night wasn't about Ponyville, it was about the rest of the crew. I have a family just like everypony else, but being part of the 'single greatest' kingdom-wide famous flight team didn't leave much time for loved ones, so your teammates became your family or you could let yourself die a little inside instead. And I didn't want to explain to the others why I was making this visit. In particular when management suggested we lay low for a while in this neck of the woods until the dust settled.

Soarin' -simple, polite, direct stallion he is- would tell me to just roll with it and let it go. I wouldn't blame him. As long as he could fly, and eat what he felt like he was happy, he didn't care what other ponies thought of him.

Rapidfire would tell me I was being emo and I'd get over it, and I wouldn't be -that- upset with him. Some bonds are thicker than rainbows.

Fleetfoot and the rest would sympathize, but think the pony I was going to was a bad choice. It'd be a rational objection. Why go to a pony you've met exactly twice in your life? Okay, a pony that saved your flanks from certain death, but still somepony you met only twice, only one which I started out conscious.

And the second time you couldn't speak to her for three minutes without being pulled away by one of the dozens and dozens of other ponies who wanted to have their photo taken with you or catch a few precious seconds of your time whether she was your personal invite for the 'Bolts' lounge or not.

But while I had a place in the Wonderbolt's hall of fame, she had still achieved something I hadn't. And she was the only pony I could ask my question to.

Dang. Ponyville must have some really good or really cheap construction ponies. You can barely tell which buildings were ruined when ... when ... when it happened. Though given all the disasters that have hit this place in the past year or so, the construction ponies are probably really experienced at rebuilding the place.

Now that I think about it, I remember reading something about Canterlot giving Ponyville a rather large loan with very forgiving interest fees to recover from the recent . . . incident.

Some relatively nearby towns like Trottingham and Hoofington were actually complaining about the 'hick-town next to the forest of death' getting special treatment. And were asking if they needed to have a dragon storm through and ruin their main street before Canterlot started throwing bits at them too like they were going out of season.

The tabloids said Prince Blueblood actually fainted at the news he'd have to cut down on his milk baths this month (providing himself with a nearby couch first, duh).

The identity and fate of the dragon that had trampled Ponyville was a total unknown. By the time I was out of that giant watering can it'd shoved us in, it was already gone. We had all silently agreed to beat wings rather than stick around to ask questions.

Princess Celestia's only official announcement on a dragon ravaging a town so close to the capital was 'the matter has been resolved, there is no danger of future related dragon attacks.' What The Princess says goes, but of course this didn't pacify ponies who wanted a better answer. All she let slip was the Elements of Harmony had taken care of the dragon the same way they had another dragon last year. Given those girls have saved Equestria twice, that satisfied some ponies, but I didn't like being fed an incomplete story.

I wondered if I should ask who I was visiting for details about the short but intense fight that could have gotten me and two of my teammates killed but was told nothing about later. But it wasn't really the purpose of my visit. Still, it didn't stop me from feeling incredulous.

I did a perfect four point landing on the cloud house's front yard. I knocked on the front door as well as you could with clouds. Sure, arriving unannounced is generally considered rude for ponies you aren't personal friends with, but given who the inhabitant was, I knew she wasn't going to mind.

++++

When I first brought home Tank, Scoots looked at me like I had blown a fuse. To be honest, I'd probably have reacted the exact same way if you'd told me when the pet search started I'd be going home with a slow tortoise. "So let me get this straight. You turned down the chance to have a super-cool falcon for a pet and you went for a non-teenage non-mutant non-ninja turtle instead?"

"Tortoise Scoots."

"Whatever."

"Look short stuff. Tank -saved my life-. I could have been eel chow if not for him. Out of all those pets, he was the only one loyal enough, even after I kept rejecting 'em, to stop and -help- me."

That gave'er some good stuff for her brain to chew on.

"Er," She knelt down in front of Tank. "Thanks for saving the coolest, greatest pony in the universe Tank."

Tank just nodded politely. Then he went inside his shell and took out a daisy for Scoots. Where does he keep that junk? Meh, likely the same place Earth ponies keep their bits.

Scoots blushed a little when she took the peace offering. But look at me with a renewed sense of confusion.

"But why didn't you let me be there? I could have taken part." She asked like I had denied her a chance to get her cutie mark. Personally I was beginning to think those blank flanks -were- their cutie marks and they just hadn't noticed.

I looked her in the eyes, "Because you're NOT a pet Scoots! You're Scootaloo and . . . and you're with me." I gave her a small hug, she returned it, then Tank joined in.

Now it had been a long day, using my day off to visit Cloudsdale. I had asked around, being as careful with my questions I could. I wasn't all that good at this. I should have asked Twilight or Rarity, or even Flutters, but I didn't want to make Scoots' life more complicated than it had to be.

So far, I hadn't found any leads yet on Scoots' folks. No sign of 'em at all. Part of me was beginning to worry I'd never find them. At the back of my head, a tiny part that hadn't been there a month ago was more worried that I -would- find them! And that was the real reason I hadn't asked the others for help. Yeah, I was being selfish, what else is new?

On top of that, what if they turned out to be jerks or something? I definitely don't want them to make Scoots' life miserable and it be my fault if they did. Or worse, they turned out to be perfectly good and well off ponies who were now capable of taking care of and raising Scootaloo a lot better than a mare like me and were now able to take back their foal.

I hadn't told Scoots what I was up to. If I could, it would be a surprise, if I couldn't, I didn't want to crush'er little heart.

Dangit! When did I get so soft? First I act nice towards some bugs that turn out to be one of the ten pony plagues in disguise, then I bring a foal under my wings, followed by adopting Tank because he was as dauntless as me (Twilight strapped me a chair and forced me to learn what the word meant). And now I was getting worried about the orange little bundle of responsibility being taken off my hoofs? Geeze.

Scootaloo was already in bed, and Tank was fast asleep. I was happy the two were getting along, or at least respecting each other's personal space. Though Tank of course wasn't one to mind one way or the other. I hope sleeping with that helicopter thing isn't too uncomfortable. It's not that I don't trust Twilight and Trixie's cloud walking spell, I just don't feel like risking it, even if two Elements Of Magic cast it.

I was going over weather plans for tomorrow when there was a 'knock' on my door. My neurotic little brain quickly imagining up a pair of pegasi waiting outside for the return of their foal, the fantasy quickly expanding into them being perfectly well off and in no need for their foal being taken care of now, and then jumping it another trot with them being secretly gangsters I'd rescue Scoots from and win guardianship over in a custody battle where Twilight would dig up evidence and Pinkie would delay the verdict with her antics and- the door 'knocked' again.

Or I could just answer the door.

I opened the door a tiny crack, and nearly fainted on the soft plush clouds. Okay. Check please. I HAD to be dreaming! I was sure I had had this dream before too! Except she was always wearing her flight suit and had one for me in her hooves.

I stared like a zombie for several seconds making a fool out of myself before I finally broke. "Omagodomagodomagod! S-s-s-s-s-s-Spitefire! I mean Spitfire! COME IN! COME IN! I mean if you want to come in! That is! OH MAN! OH MAN! Did you dye your mane? Where's everypony else? I mean, not that I'm not happy to see YOU of course! You're my favorite Wonderbolt! Okay -a- favorite Wonderbolt, but still a favorite! Er! That came out wrong! Whatcha here for! UGH! What can I do for you!" I nearly laid myself on the floor in front of her.

"Hey Dash." Said the naked Wonderbolt. Naked! She's naked! Oh man! Wait. Ponies are normally naked. Never mind, that didn't come out right. "Can I come in?"

"YES YES YES YES YES!" I said in my best Twilight Sparkle impersonation. "Uhhhh . . . yep. Come in right in."

+++

Not that bad a place. Only a little more messy than I figured it would be. Rainbow turned out to be not that bad a host once she stopped tripping over her own hooves at having one of her idols in her own home without any time to clean up or tell all her friends.

To Rainbow's credit, she somehow managed to get through the whole thing without asking me to sign anything and only made me sit through narrations of two of her own personally designed stunt maneuvers and prodding me for pointers that I halfheartedly gave. I was a flier not an instructor, any advice I gave Rainbow besides the basics was likely to screw her up. Still, at least she actually knew my name and could recognize me without a stunt suit on.

I graciously accepted a drink of something that made my insides turn, but I managed to keep it down. Having my host go catatonic from me giving her even the slightest criticism wouldn't be good.

Finally, the winner of Year's Best Young Flier calmed down enough to actually think to ask me what I was doing there.

"I actually came here to ask a question, Rainbow. It's, kinda personal, and you're the only pony I can really ask and feel comfortable asking."

I saw the gears turn in her head in all the wrong directions even if I couldn't tell -where- they were going! My fellow pegasus turned purple with blush. "Erm . . . okay. Is this, the sort of thing I should prep myself for . . . or . . ."

"Rainbow. please." I asked lowly and almost pleadingly, almost. I could understand a bit. Having your idol give you a heart to heart wasn't exactly something most ponies got on a daily basis.

"Uh. Alright. Ask away." She said. I guess she wasn't used to the idea of her idol being a flesh and blood pony. Considering she's a hardcore enough fan to know who I am without my flight suit, I can understand that a bit too.

I take a deep breath, and drop the bombshell. "Rainbow, what's it like to be a hero?"

She drops the cup she was holding in her hooves, and unlike the clown she was acting like at the Gala she didn't grab it at the last moment and lift it up for all to see. This one just hits the floor and saturates the clouds. She looked at me like I've said day is night and night is day. "S-Spitfire, you ARE a hero!"

I sigh, I let my defenses drop, no teammates here, no cameras, no manager. It feels good to take off the mask once in a while you know? A lot like those flight suits. I wouldn't want to perform half of those stunts without'em, but they're still a nag to get into and get stuffy at ground level. "No, Rainbow, I'm a sports star, I get my face on cereal boxes."

Rainbow held her head. I could see this wasn't where she thought this chat was going to go. "Ah man. Spitfire." She looked at me, pleading to take back what I just said. "Come on. Stop jokin'. You're a Wonderbolt! Of course you're a hero! There's no way you -can't- be a hero!"

I narrow my eyes ever so slightly at her. You know, I hate doing this just a little bit. I really do. But I've already set my flight path and there's no returning to base.

"Do you know what we all did when Discord ravaged Equestria, Rainbow? Soarin' was turned into a helpless Earth pony and had to run away from flying pies trying to eat him! Fleetfoot was made the laziest pony this side of a bag of nachos. Rapidfire was ranting how we were all holding him back and wanted to fly solo as THE Wonderbolt. Me? I was crashing into every wall and trees like a retarded foal with crippled wings with what I THOUGHT was the 'Bolts, my parents, and my first grade flight instructor, laughing at me saying I made a better flying clown act. And the rest of us were too busy licking ourselves or sucking on our hooves in Cloudsdale to care!"

I saw her look downright sick at the last one. And . . . guilty?

"Look it's not your fault, it's not like you caused it to happen. I was thinking about this a lot anyway. Though Fleetfoot kept telling me I got off easy. She kept saying Discord just tortured me. Discord VIOLATED her mind, she said. We ... argued a lot about that. I'd never seen Fleetfoot cry before when she explained what it was like. Rapidfire crawled into his bed and wouldn't come out for days after he was told us after he was grayed out. None of us was able to do a mooned thing to help Rainbow! Not a thing!"

She stared silently at me. I hope I haven't ruined her. This was a pony with dreams bigger than mine had ever been, I didn't want to see them vanish.

"C-Come on Spitfire! Don't be like that! You can't handle a spirit of chaos. But-but-" I had really knocked her off balance. The pegasus I met at the Gala and 'Free Day Hanging Out With The Wonderbolts' winner' would have mentioned that she -had- dealt with the 'spirit of chaos' and that somehow made her a good stunt flier. "But you guys HAVE done heroic stuff!"

"Like what?" I asked flatly. "Getting knocked out by the pony we were trying to save? And having to have my flank saved by a newbie? I'm just happy everyone was more interested in you becoming a living legend in the blink of an eye than laughing at one of Equestria's legendary fliers trying to save someone and then NEEDING to be saved!

When Princess Gaia's army of . . . things attacked Cloudsdale: me, Soarin', and this kid were among the few pegasi who knew how to fight who weren't turned into foals hard and fast. We managed to take down a dragon, Rainbow! A dragon! Or at least Princess Gaia's imitation of one. Then a whole flight of them showed up. And soon enough me and little Soarin' were playing flight tag while that kid went to check on his girlfriend back in Ponyville."

Rainbow head lowered in surprise, shock, a strange look of realization, then shame and lowered her head.

"But, we still took down a dragon. And Cloudsdale always wants heroes. After all, our history is built on them! Heroics is what pegasi are supposed to be best at besides flying! Pegasus, the first one, no one's ever forgotten him. . . . So, the papers did what they do best and exaggerated things into an action story. And so Ponyville and some other towns got the idea of us becoming a quick response team for trouble. Not a bad idea really, we're fast, we're coordinated, and we know what we're getting into.

"Then we came here. To YOUR new home away from home. Trying to save the SAME PONY we couldn't save before! You know, I felt a little excited inside when I saw who that dragon had? I thought 'time to make up for last time' . . . and we ended up sidelined like bugs in a jar! In the dark. No way out. No idea how long the air would last or if that dragon was going to finish us off. No idea if anyone would come and save -US- again and . . ." I shuddered. I don't like closed in spaces. Not many pegasi do.

"The point is Dash . . . I love being a stunt flier, the thrill, the challenge, the cheering, all of it. But those ponies in the bleachers? I'm MORE than that to them! I'm buckin' SuperStallion! There's supposed to be nothing I can't do. No, there's nothing the WONDERBOLTS can't do! And what happens? Every time we actually try to do something useful besides making ponies clap we fail, miserably. So tell me again, how am I a hero?"

She looked at me, she's cornered, she's trapped, she looks scared. She opened her mouth to speak, but nothing comes out. She gritted her teeth but her ears and wings were wilted. She says nothing.

I breath in deep, then I breath out. "So Rainbow Dash. What's it like to be a hero?"

+++

I think back to Mare Do Well. I think back how I revved up the crowd to cheer my name even louder after I saved the lives of a group of elderly ponies. I think back to the swelled head I got when the others finally put a pin in me. I still think there's nothing wrong with a hero declaring how great they are but, send it to the moon, AJ was right! I -was- going to get somepony killed with all the posing I was doing before getting to the rescuing!

I had a fan club, merchandise, autograph signings, I had Spike ghost-writing my autobiography. I had it all. Yep, I was a hero. Just like . . . just like I always imagined the Wonderbolts to be heroes.

And before all that I saved the world twice already and had two stain glass windows in Canterlot Castle with my friends, without a 'Elements of Harmony' coffee mug for sale in sight.

So yeah. Me. The clearest thinking pony in Equestria I'm not. I get it.

So what was being a hero then? It had felt so crystal clear before.

An orange pegasus filly flashed through my mind: hounding me like a shadow, worshiping the air I flew through, the only pony who thought I was as great as knew I was. And flapping a pair of small, underdevelopment wings, not giving up, not ever, determined to fly. Just wanting to join me in the air.

++++

I looked at Rainbow as she stared into space for over a minute. But I was patient when I needed to be.

Finally, she turned her head and was able to look me in the eyes. She gave a soft smirk. "You tell me."

I gritted my teeth. "Dash." I warned.

"You're, you guys, you're my inspiration!"

I startled at the truism. Or was it?

She let it all out with crossbows blazing. "You guys! All of you! Becoming one of you is the whole reason I've pushed myself to my absolute limits again and again until I met my friends! And I would have -never- been able to help them if you guys hadn't all inspired me! I love hearing ponies say how great I am, naw, I live for it! But that ain't what a hero is! Okay, give me a sec', I'm not used this part. And, it's a little hard to say. Here goes. Ahem. There's more than one type of hero in the world. We succeeded and kinda sorta sometimes fail at others, but what makes us heroes is that we -try- and that we inspire others to try too! That's what it means to be a hero. Uh, right?"

I wasn't sure what I felt. Angry that she retorted me? Hopeful she could give an answer? Insulted that she hadn't really addressed that I kept trying to help during disasters and kept just needing saving myself? Happy that she wanted to give me a light in the dark? Or just a headache from the verbal mishmash?

My conflict was showing because she was trying not to looked scared at me. After all, a word from me could seal or destroy her lifelong dream. Wouldn't be good if she got on my bad side.

"Rainbow Dash . . . you can be naive sometimes."

Rainbow Dash sighed. "Trust me. 'Naive' was me two months ago, a pony who saw things in easy black and white. There was the right choice and the wrong choice. Things changed."

I heard myself asking. "What happened?"

"Discord hurt you. He deflowered Fleetfoot. He -broke- me and my friends. There's nothing worse than seeing something you've taken and made a part of you and seeing it turned on its head. Finding out that when you're loyal to everyone, being loyal to anyone can hit a snag." RD's voice wasn't angry or defensive, if anything, she was sad.

I knew better than to prod. The same story across Equestria, the ponies Discord had left with scars that you couldn't see with your eyes.

And we just sat on the cloud coach in silence. No Elements of Harmony, no Wonderbolts, just a pair of pegasi in the night who both wanted their ideals back. Or that's what I wanted at least.

"Hey, Rainbow." My voice echoed a little.

"Yes?"

"Thanks. Maybe all I needed was an outsider to let it all out to. Nothing's changed. But maybe I can face it all a little bit better now. Thanks. I better get going before Rapidfire and Soarin' begin to wonder where I am. Thanks for letting me in at this silly time of night." I got up off the coach and began to trot toward the door. It was a it was going to be a dark flight back to Cloudsdale.

"Hey-hey! It was nothin'! I was awake anyway! Always a pleasure! Think nothing of it! You're welcome! Hey! Er! Spitfire?!"

I turned my head back towards her, "Yes?"

It was weird hearing anything but confidence from this pony's mouth. "Hey. You. Me. Let's be friends. Ya know. For reals? It would be blast!"

"Er, I don't exactly have time to hang out. Like ever. Get used to that if you want to be a star--oh who am I kidding, yes! Sure thing! Though I don't think we'll be exactly able to visit each other."

"Hey, it's alright . . . as long as friends stay loyal to each other, then it doesn't matter how long they're apart. As long as loyalty holds, it doesn't matter how taut the string's pulled."

Still naive. But, it was a good naive. There were some things in the world that should be believed in because they were worth believing in. "Sure thing Rainbow. And thanks."

I left the house and took off for home. Wasn't sure what I'd tell the others if they asked. I'd tell them I was taking a flight to clear my head, which was true enough. Maybe I just needed some more time to think things through.

++++

"Hey Dash . . . who was that?"

I turned to see Scootaloo holding a blanket made of clouds rubbing one eye. Even I have to admit, that was kind of cute.

I grinned ear to ear. "Oh. Just a friend who needed somepony to talk to. And it's way past time for little fillies to be in bed."

"Ah come on, I bet you stayed up late all the time." She moaned.

"You bet! Which is exactly why I'm not letting you do the same. Come on kiddo. Back to bed!"

~ FIN