• Published 27th Dec 2021
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My Little Mages: The Rogues' Entries - Foxhelm

Friendship might be magic, but not everything is rainbows and sunshine.

  • ...

Wonderbolt Academy

Rainbow and her friends were seated on the ground under her cloud house, next to her terrestrial mailbox, and were having a tea picnic. Normally Applejack and Rainbow would have coffee, but tea was nice every once in a while. Everyone was drinking, save Pinkie, she was pacing back and forth. “Ooooh, I wish the mail person would just come already! I can't wait another minute to find out if Rainbow Dash got in or not!” she shouted, it was clear that she was not able, or gave up trying to contain her excitement for the results of Rainbow’s application to attend Wonderbolt Academy.

Normally her friends would just let her be, but there were times that they had to set her straight. This time it was Twilight’s turn to be the one to speak up, “Pinkie, you're more nervous than Rainbow.” she barely fought back a laugh as she pointed to how Rainbow was calm and collected.

The elementalist smiled, “I'm not nervous at all.” Rainbow declared. She rubbed the tips of her finger in the space between her breasts and then looked at them, “When I get into the Wonderbolt Academy…” she trailed off. She had intended to make a boost, but she was not able to say anything as Pinkie grabbed her by her upper arms.

“IF” Pinkie shouted correcting her friend, “you get in!” she added. “If you get in!” she repeated. “Don't jinx it!”, the cotton candy mage finished. It was clear that she didn’t want anything to compromise Rainbow’s chances to get into the academy, not even assuming that one got in. No one questioned Pinkie. Pinkie was serious, and not cartoonishly serious, which made it all the more terrifying.

Just then Brighteyes arrived and took a letter out of her mailbag and was about to place it in Rainbow’s mailbox until she saw Rainbow et al. She then walked up to Rainbow and handed the letter to Rainbow, “You got mail.” she said as she shut both her eyes and gave a massive grin. She then flew off to her next stop, passing through Rainbow’s house, knocking over one of the flower vases. “Oops, my bad”.

Everyone just took a breath and turned to Rainbow. She then tore open the envelope and her face started as a massive grin only to shift to sorrow and disbelief, “I... didn't get in.” she said just short of breaking down into tears. Her five friends gasped. Rainbow then smiled and had a light giggle, “Gotcha!” she declared as she pointed to her friends before she handed the letter to them, “Like I wasn't gonna get in!” she said, the smugness on her face was inescapable. Everyone rushed over and pulled her into a group hug to congratulate their friend.

After a solid second Pinkie made everyone break it as she zipped up the line that secured her cloud house and zipped back down with a duffle bag with Rainbow’s aura mark, “Seven days' worth of clothes, toiletries, your hygiene, and some paper and a pencil. Now, play nice with the other kids, don’t pick a fight, but if a fight gets started, finish it before anyone gets hit. Take notes and don’t give your teachers a hard time.” Pinkie said as she tossed the bag to Rainbow and turned her to face the way to Wonderbolt Academy. “And most importantly, don’t forget to write.” Rainbow nodded, gave them all a farewell hug, and then left as they all waved goodbye to one another.

After about three hours of flying later, Rainbow saw a lone mountain with something like a plateau with a runway down the center about three-fourths the way up and just at the cloud line. She flew closer only to be stopped by a trio of Skyborn men dressed in armor like those of the royal guard but was the same blue as the Wonderbolts with the Wonderbolt stylized lightning bolt with wings in the center. Rainbow pulled out her letter of acceptance into the academy, her Magiville and Cumula residence identifications, and her employee id for working at Cumula Weather and handed them to the closest man. After he looked them over, he showed them to the other two. They nodded and the first one-handed them all back to Rainbow and hovered to the side to let them through. Rainbow nodded thanks and flew on. As she neared the recent cadet sign-in she looked around noticing the cadets that were finishing their weeklong training, as well as reservists fine-tuning their skills. The cadets and the reservists were noted by their flight suit, a legless, sleeveless version of those worn by the Wonderbolts’ but the blue was lighter. Rainbow smirked, she was where she belonged, well one step closer. After she found the sign-in and dropped her stuff in her room at the cadet barracks, she joined the eleven other new cadets. She recognized ten of them from Magiville, the eleven she didn’t recognize but she did take a good look at her. She was about Rainbow’s age with yellow eyes and amber hair with gold stripes and her hair was slightly shorter than hers.

Before there could be any exchange of pleasantries, they all heard a whistle blow, and all stood at attention. Within a second, Spitfire, dressed in the blue formal officer’s suit arrived with her aviator sunglasses on. She walked up and down the line, “Well, lookie what we got here.” she said as she looked at each one of them, “Bet y'all think you're Wonderbolt material, don't ya?” She asked. Rainbow knew this was a trick question and she remained silent as did the woman that was not from Magiville. The others all said, “Yes, ma'am!” Spitfire wanted to shake her head; another batch that got the first question wrong. However, she only continued. “Think you got what it takes to be an elite flyer?” she asked and again all, but the stranger and Rainbow gave the wrong answer as they said, “Yes, ma'am!”. Here Spitfire strutted to be three meters in front of the dozen before she turned to face them all, “Well then. Let me be the first to tell you…” she trailed off as she walked up to the person on her furthest left, “You don't!” She shouted almost in his face. She then walked to the next person, “If you had what it took to be an elite flyer, you'd already be a Wonderbolt!” She said as she continued to walk down the line. She stopped at the person second to Rainbow’s right and asked, “Still think you're something special?” The woman could barely stand up as she weakly responded with “No, ma'am!” Spitfire then turned to the man on Rainbow’s immediate right, “Ya think you're hot stuff?” she asked him. He shook his head from left to right almost violently. Spitfire then stepped in front of Rainbow and sized her up, “You look like you're the worst flyer in the whole academy!” She challenged Rainbow. “You'll probably quit after the first day!” she added getting right into Rainbow’s face.

Rainbow looked squarely into Spitfire’s face and without a blink or any waiver of resolve countered, “No, ma'am! I'd never quit, ma'am!”

Spitfire fought back a smile and a laugh, before she walked to the end of the line, “What about you?” she asked. “Bet you couldn't fly past the first flagpole without getting winded.” she challenged before she started to look away. “Try me, sir.” The stranger challenge as she broke into a smile. Spitfire lowered her sunglasses, no one has ever spoken back to her or any officer, “What's that?” she asked to give her the chance to step back. The stranger only smiled wider, “Let me show you what I've got, sir.” she continued. Spitfire squinted, this young woman was clearly bold, but she couldn’t be this reckless, “Ah. You want a chance to prove yourself, huh?” Spitfire asked, giving this cadet one last chance to pull back. “Yes, sir!” was her response. Spitfire gave a half grin, “Well then, now's your chance.” She then turned to look down the line, “Give me five hundred laps! All of you!” and she blew her whistle and all twelve were off. After the better part of an hour, “Lap four-hundred and ninety-nine!” Spitfire called as Rainbow and the stranger managed to get to the lead and completed the second to last lap.

Rainbow looked to her left, “One more lap to go!” she shouted, this was rough, but it was also exciting. The stranger turned to face Rainbow, “You're on!” She challenged and the two flew so fast that Rainbow left a trail that looked like a rainbow while the stranger’s trail looked like a horizontal lightning bolt inside a teal barrier. Within almost no time the two completed the last lap, overtaking a few of the others who were just finishing their 499th lap.

The two landed, almost screeching as they slip down the runway. On the ground, the two were panting, like dogs that have been running for hours. Spitfire turned to the two as the others continued to fly, “Not bad... for a couple of newbies. But a good flyer knows to pace themselves, even during the final stretch. Now hit the showers, you both reek.” she said and turned back to the rest. “After that, report for suit measurements at the barracks before you call it a day,” Spitfire added.

Rainbow held out her right hand, “I am Rain...” she started. “Rainbow Dash, bearer of the Element of Loyalty, Hero of Mystica, I know the story.” the stranger cut her off, “The name’s Lightning Dust.” the stranger introduced herself as she accepted Rainbow’s hand. “I say we skip the showers and grab some grub; I am starving. You in?” Lightning asked. Rainbow smiled as she gave a small nod. This was going to be an awesome week.

The next morning, after reveille and before the twelve cadets were permitted to go into the mess hall for breakfast, they were gathered at the runway. In front of them stood Spitfire who was in front of a large structure under a larger cloth with a couple of Wonderbolts to the side. Spitfire spoke up, “The Wonderbolts are the fastest, best precision flyers in the world.” she started the lecture, “But spin-outs can still happen. And when they do, a Wonderbolt must be able to recover quickly.” she informed the twelve. She then pointed to the thing behind her as she stepped away. “This…” she trailed off as the two other Wonderbolts revealed a large wheel with two gears, one gear was smaller and was in the center of the wheel with larger gear was along the edge of the wheel with a bar in the center of the gear. Both of the gears were connected by a belt. “is the Dizzitron.” Spitfire identified the device. She then stepped forward to the dozen cadets, “It's gonna make you very – I repeat – very dizzy.” she informed them. “Which is why you were barred from the mess hall this morning. You’re going to be dizzy as is, we don’t want to have to clean up your breakfast.” She explained part of their situation. Spitfire continued, “Your task is to try and recover and fly straight again, as soon as possible. Once you have recovered you must come in for a smooth landing. Now, who's first?” she asked. There were no volunteers. She waited three seconds for one to step forward then pointed to a woman at random, “You. You're up.” the young woman gulped. “Now!” Spitfire gulped and the woman ran to the Dizzitron and grabbed onto the bar as if for dear life. “Go!” Spitfire ordered and the Dizzitron started to spin. For ten seconds the Dizzitron spun, increasing in speed until Spitfire called, “Release!” and the Dizzitron stopped sending the girl flying caught in a spin. She soon managed to correct herself and bright herself to a barely safe landing. Spitfire looked at her watch, “Fifteen seconds.” she informed blankly, as if it was neither impressive nor terrible. “Decent, but I wouldn't go writin' home about it!” she said to the girl. Spitfire then turned to the other eleven. “Who's next?” she asked. Rainbow and Lightning both raised their hands, Rainbow was slightly faster. Spitfire nodded, “Alright, Rainbow Dash. Let's see what you got.” she said. Rainbow nodded and dashed over and grabbed the bar. She nodded that she was ready. Spitfire nodded in turn, “Okay, go!” she ordered and the Dizzitron started up again, after ten seconds, Spitfire called out, “Release!” and Rainbow was sent flying. Rainbow managed to recover extremely quickly and land with little effort. Spitfire then called the time, somewhat confused, “Six seconds?”. She then turned from her watch and smiled at Rainbow, clearly impressed, “That's an academy record.” she declared.

The first ‘victim’ of the Dizzitron was the first to compliment Rainbow among the cadets, “You made it look so easy.” Rainbow didn’t fight back her smug grin. “I make everything look easy.” she declared her ego on display.

Spitfire then moved down the line, “Lightning Dust. You're up.” she declared.

Lightning smirked before she got on, “Sir, can you put the Dizzitron at maximum speed?” she asked. “I wanna push my limits.” She explained the reason for the request.

Spitfire raised her eyebrows and lowered her sunglasses, “You sure about that?” she asked, her voice full of concern. Lightning nodded with a massive grin on her face. Spitfire shrugged her shoulders, if Lightning wanted to kill herself, well that was her call. Spitfire nodded to the man at the Dizzitron controls. He then turned a dial from pointing at a tortoise to pointing at a hare to finally pointing at a skull with lightning bolts pointing at it. Spitfire then called “Go!” and the Dizzitron started spinning this time much faster than before. After ten seconds, “Release!” Spitfire gave the order, and Lightning was launched. She quickly managed to recover and land safely. Spitfire checked her watch, “Six points five seconds. Not bad.” she declared as she seemed to fight back how impressed she was. “Next!” she called, and the next cadet timidly approached the Dizzitron.

Rainbow and Lightning fist-bumped each other, “I doubt anybody else will even come close to six seconds.” Rainbow declared.

Lightning nodded with a smirk, “They should make us Wonderbolts right now.” she added.

Rainbow nodded, “Yeah, they should.” The two watched as the remaining cadets took their turn and it was clear that Rainbow and Lightning were a cut or two above the rest.

After the last cadet landed, Spitfire blew her whistle, “Listen up! For the rest of the camp, you'll be working in pairs. 'Morrow morning, I'll post the teams, including who'll be lead and who'll be wingman. You’re dismissed to the mess hall and for your drills, you better be worn and ready for bed when taps are played.” Spitfire ordered. She then departed the group.

Rainbow turned to Lightning, “Breakfast?” she asked. Lightning nodded and the two then headed off to the mess hall.

The next morning, Rainbow strutted into the mess hall right after reveille and ready for breakfast and to see her wingman was. There was no doubt that she was going to be a lead, she had the best performance, and she was the head of the Magiville Branch of Cumula Weather, she had the skills. Rainbow saw the rest of the cadets near the left wall from her. The reservists, Wonderbolts, instructors, and all other faculty were eating. As Rainbow got to be about a meter from her fellow cadets, “So, which one of you has the pleasure to be my wingman?” Rainbow asked. All turned to face Rainbow, a few of the girls wanted to giggle, while the guys just cringed slightly unsure how to answer. After a second of no actual responses, “What?” she asked finally. They all stepped to the side, but Rainbow couldn’t help but feel as though it was like they were parting for a casket to be lowered into a grave. Rainbow slowly approached and looked at the listing, as she failed to find her name in the column of leads, her lower jaw dropped to her knees.

She felt an arm reach around her right side and grabbed her left shoulder, “They made us a team!” came Lightning’s voice as before Rainbow could turn to see her teammate, “Isn't that awesome?” she asked. Rainbow could only nod to her lead, forcing a smile.

After having her breakfast, Rainbow headed to the officer’s offices. She arrived at Spitfire’s office, it was open and with two men in the same armor she saw when she arrived on each side of the doorway, “Permission to enter, ma'am.” she requested as she stopped herself a few decimeters in front of the guards.

Spitfire was at her desk looking over paperwork, “It’s sir, cadet, I am an officer of the Earth-Sky-Magic United Coalition,” she corrected Rainbow.

Rainbow took a breath, “Permission to enter, sir?” she asked with the correction in mind.

“Denied, cadet,” Spitfire answered not looking from the paperwork. After a solid second, she giggled, “Just messin’ with yah, Cadet Dash.” she said as she put what she was looking at down. She took a breath and squinted slightly; she was serious. “What is it, Cadet Dash?” she asked, getting to the point.

Rainbow cleared her throat, “I had the best time on the Dizzitron! Only six seconds!” she announced as she entered the office, too late she realized that she used too much force.

Spitfire crossed her fingers right in front of her face with a disinterested frown on her face, “And?” she asked.

Rainbow took another step closer, “And you made me a wingman!” she pointed out what she thought was the wrong choice.

Spitfire showed no signs of being moved, “Because a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, a team of horses is only as fast as the slowest horse.” she explained as she tapped her thumbs together, “Lightning and you both performed at such a level you would be held back if you were paired with any of the other cadets and the other cadets are likely to get injured as they tried to keep pace with either of you.” Spitfire pointed out the difference in performance between Rainbow & Lightning and the other cadets. “And with what you both have shown the last couple of days, I believe you and Cadet Dust will be an unstoppable team.” she informed the reason why she and Lightning were paired, “Do you not think you'll be an unstoppable team?” she asked.

“Yes, sir! I mean no, sir! I mean... “Rainbow started, only to realize that she might have benefited from thinking this out. After her trail-off, “We'll be an unstoppable team, sir.” she agreed with Spitfire.

Spitfire didn’t move a centimeter as if she was curved from stone, “Then what's the problem?” she asked.

Rainbow took a breath to collect her thoughts and then with all the confidence she could muster, “I think I should be the lead, sir.” she answered.

Spitfire cleared her throat and one of the guards stepped in, “Sergeant, will you get me Cadet Dash’s personnel file?” The man nodded and went to one of the file cabinets in the office and pulled out a file marked ‘Dash, Rainbow’ and placed it on the desk in front of Spitfire. “Thank you, sergeant. This shouldn’t take much longer,” she said before the man nodded and returned to his post.

Spitfire opened the folder and looked it for a second before she turned her focus back to Rainbow, “As the lead of the Magiville Branch of Cumula Weather Management, you should know how to make calls on the fly like a lead by now, if you don’t, it’s not my job to teach you that while you're here in Wonderbolt Academy.” Spitfire started to explain. Rainbow wanted to protest but Spitfire was correct Rainbow knew how to lead, or given her job should by now. “However, your record shows that you seem to have issues with following orders and someone else’s lead and that addressing the adventures and shall we say misadventures of the Element of Harmony.” Spitfire then shut the folder. “Most of anyone's time as a Wonderbolt will be following someone else’s lead, since you respect Cadet Dust’s skill and you both have started a comradery with each other, I see no issues with you following her lead. Also, as a Wonderbolt, you are an officer of the Earth-Sky-Magic United Coalition, you will be expected to follow commands as well as issue them. Am I understood, Cadet?”

Rainbow was left speechless. Spitfire was right, any conversation about her (Rainbow) having issues with following orders would be resolved with an interview with Twilight Sparkle. She reluctantly and with dejection nodded in agreement. “And in terms, you seem to respect, Cadet Dust requested the highest setting and was half a second slower than you, which means that if she was at the normal setting she would have recovered in less than six seconds. She pushed herself to limits we normally expect for seasoned reservists. Now you should meet up with your lead so that you both can plan how you two will be spending the rest of your time here when not in the training sessions.” Spitfire nodded to the door. Rainbow quickly inferred that she was being dismissed. Rainbow nodded and turned to leave. Before she exited, “Some free words of wisdom, Rainbow” Spitfire called to her. Rainbow turned around to listen to what Spitfire was about to say, “When you boast about being the best, don’t mope about having your ego bruised when someone bests you, it’s petty and at best people would rather care less.” Rainbow nodded and left the office.

An hour later, the twelve cadets were lined up once again at attention as they waited for Spitfire. They were all paired up, with the leads having a golden Wonderbolt pin and the wingmen having a silver. Spitfire then arrived, still in her officer’s uniform and flanked by the guards that Rainbow saw at her office. One had a red flag in his left hand and the other had a blue flag in his right. Once the three arrived, Spitfire spoke, “Today you will all be participating in a flag hunt.” she said as she walked down the line. She stopped between the third and fourth pair. “We'll divide you into two teams, red…” She said as she pointed to the three pairs on her left and the guard with the red flag walked behind them and held his flag up. “and blue.” she said as he pointed to the three pairs on her right, with Lightning and Rainbow making the center pair of the blue team, as the guard with the blue flag walked behind the six and held his flag up. “Whichever pair finds the most flags of the opposing team's color within the next hour wins.” she declared. All but the two guards, Lightning and Rainbow started to cheer.

Spitfire took out her whistle and then blew long and hard. Once the ten celebrators were silent, “This is not recess, this is not a game. As a Wonderbolt, you are considered the best of the best of all Mystica’s aerial forces. Should we be called to fight, you will be called up to engage in many different types of missions ranging from recon, raids, targeted kills, battles, and that list will go on. You will be expected to find your target with limited if not outright wrong information.” she elaborated. “And capture the flag is the best way we can train you to accomplish any of those missions with the lost cost of failure.” She continued to expound. “Are there any questions, cadets? Ask them now or forever stay silent!” she ordered. Everyone remained silent. “You will fly in your pairs, leads will be calling the shots, wingmen will follow. You will fly together if a pair splits, both are disqualified,” she explained the last bit. “Do you understand?” she asked. All the cadets answered in unison, “Sir, yes, sir!”. Spitfire smiled, maybe there was hope for this batch of cadets after all. “Go!” She shouted before she blew her whistle and the six pairs jumped into the air and started their search.

The red pairs started their search lower to the ground as the blue pairs flew higher and higher. Once they reached their desired altitude, Lightning turned to her right to face Rainbow, “Ready to rock and roll?” she asked.

Rainbow grinned, “Ready.” and the two broke from the other blue pairs going several times faster as they circled the mountain scanning for any place a flag could be placed.

After a few seconds, they stopped as Lightning looked around, almost frankly, “Spot any flags yet?” she asked Rainbow as the two hovered.

Rainbow looked to her left and saw that two logs laid over a small chasm about a hectometer away, in it was a red flag, “There's one!” she shouted.

Lightning turned to look in the direction Rainbow was and then saw the flag, “You got eagle eyes, partner!” she declared and jettisoned towards the chasm.

Rainbow flew as fast as she could right behind her. After some quick mental calculations, “We should slow down.” she suggested. “It doesn't look like both of us can make it at this speed!” she pointed out.

Lightning smirked, “Just do what I do, Wingman.” Lightning said as she began a dive only to pull up a meter from the entrance so that her feet were would be the first thing into the chasm and made herself as thin as possible and slipped in with no problems. Rainbow tried to do like wise, but she was too close to the log on her right and it hit her upper arm, where the flight suit covered it, “Ow!” she cried. She didn’t feel any break, but she knew there was going to be a wicked bruise there for a while. However she couldn’t focus on that for long as she tried to catch up to Lightning and the two landed on the runway they launched from, Lightning holding the flag up.

“Cadet Dust and Cadet Dash found the first flag!” Spitfire declared before she looked at her watch, her sunglasses hiding her wide eyes, “One minute, you two girls want to break every record we have?” it was a rhetorical question.

Lightning and Rainbow both smiled, but Rainbow was trying to hide her gritting teeth and the pain she felt. Lightning turned around and after a little stretch, “Come on, Wingman! Let's find some more!” Lightning was pumped and ready for more.

Rainbow rubbed her upper arm, “Just give me a second.” she requested somewhat timidly.

Lightning turned around and gave Rainbow a once over, after seeing nothing wrong, “You look fine to me, Rainbow.” she said. Rainbow couldn’t counter and then nodded and the two flew off.

Nothing of this scene was lost on Spitfire. She took a deep breath, “Dash, Dash, Dash,” she muttered only for the guard next to her to hear, “Part of being a wingman is calling things to the lead’s attention, especially something the lead seems oblivious to.” She then took a breath, “But for crying out load, Dust, a once over is not sufficient for an inspection.” she critiqued Lightning. “Will have to put that in the side notes of both their files,” she added with a slight groan. “And they were doing so well.”

At the same time in Magiville, Rarity was hosting lunch for her friends, Pinkie’s hair was slightly deflated, never a good sign. “Thank you all for coming. I know we all miss Rainbow Dash.'' She started electing to get to the heart of the matter and tried to be as tactful as possible. “And while she is following her dream to be a Wondebolt, it would be nice if she’d reach out to us.”

“To be fair, these kinds of training are very intense.” Twilight commented, “My brother would come home after his training and barely make it to his bed before he flopped onto it.” she explained.

Pinkie sighed as her hair deflated a little more and her entire body, hair, skin, cloth, etc, shifted one shade closer to gray. Applejack was the quickest to speak, “Surely you and yahr folks were able to visit him?” the paladin asked.

“Well my parents and his girlfriend, my old babysitter, did. I was busy with my studies.” Twilight informed. They all saw Pinkie’s hair deflate again, “But I’ll give him a call and see if we can visit Rainbow.” She finished. Pinkie’s hair reflated and her colors returned to their normal shade as a massive smile formed on her face. “It might take some time, Wonderbolt Academy is still a military installation and we’ll need to be clear,” she stated. Everyone looked at Twilight for a solid second. “I’ll get on it,” she said and left for the Golden Oak Library.

After lunch and the cadets were in their pair drills, Spitfire was in her office finalizing the results from capturing the flag. She was right, Lightning and Rainbow were effectively an unstoppable team, but Lightning failed to notice Rainbow’s injured arm, while Rainbow remained silent. She took a deep breath through her nose. She couldn’t say anything to either until their debriefing on their last day at the academy when cadets would be asked to schedule their history exam or shown the door. If Lightning continued to not notice Rainbow’s injury or failed to notice other things, then Lightning would be shown the door. Pushing one’s limits was one thing, but pushing others to the point they were injured, was the whole reason she made those two a pair. Yet if Rainbow continued to keep things to herself, then she two would be shown the door, the ESM, let alone the Wonderbolts, was not a place for the complacent. She covered her face and groaned. Just then the scrying crystal on her desk started to wobble and glow. She lowered her hands and turned to the crystal. She took to a breath and placed her right hand on it, “Wonderbolt Academy, Office of Colonel Spitfire, Colonel Spitfire speaking.” she said.

“Colonel Spitfire, thank you for taking my call, I am Twilight Sparkle.” Twilight started.

Spitfire rolled her eyes, she didn’t want to deal with civilians right now, even if the civilian was the grand marshall’s little sister, “To what do I owe the pleasure, Miss Sparkle?” she asked professionally and politely.

“I was wondering if my friends, Rarity Crumbles-Flanks, Applejack Apple, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, and myself could visit Rainbow Dash?” Twilight asked choosing to get to the heart of the matter. “I did reach out to my brother, Grand Marshall Shining Armor and he said that it was your call and your call alone.” Twilight informed.

“Well the grand marshall is correct it is my call, and normally I’d be inclined to deny this request. I can not risk civilians either getting injured or distracting the cadets.” Spitfire stated bluntly. She then paused, “However, Cadet Dash and partner are among the best the academy has ever had, and to be frank, she could afford to slow down a little.” Spitfire admitted. “When do you intend to come here?”

“As soon as possible,” Twilight answered.

Spitfire held her chin with her left hand, “And how do you intend to travel?”

“Hot air balloon,” Twilight answered.

Spitfire lowered her hand, “Tomorrow we will have our obstacle course in the morning and cloud busting after lunch. So the earliest is the second hour after midday tomorrow. Is that too late?” Spitfire asked.

“No that will be perfect, oh and can we keep this as a surprise?” Twilight asked.

“I’ll have you escorted to my office incognito and summon her there,” Spitfire answered.

“Oh thank you, Cornel!” Twilight all but shouted. “I should let you go. Goodbye.” and Twilight ended the call.

Spitfire smiled and leaned back, “Nothing in the regulations says I can’t get Dash’s friends to point out her shortcomings for me.” she said to herself, having found the work around to her problem.

The next morning after breakfast, the twelve cadets were lined in their pairs, with Lightning and Rainbow as the middle pair, near the end of the runway. Spitfire was to their right and started to walk in front of them. “Today we'll be doing our famous air obstacle course,” she said as she pointed ahead and above them. There were many rings made of clouds. Down the route were at least three large contraptions, maybe more what when water was poured in turned it into clouds. Each maned by two reservists, one to add the water, and one to strike the cloud turning it into a small storm cloud with lightning cracking in it. “The object of this exercise is to work on your precision flying under extreme circumstances, as Wonderbolts you will be called upon to fly in extreme weather and maintain formation, much like the capture the flag yesterday this is exercise will give the best results with the lowest cost to you in the case of failure. However, unlike the last few days, this is not a race. It is always better to arrive back to base late and in one piece than to try to get back to base ahead of schedule and end up dying.” she pointed out the contrast between the course and the previous drills. “Am I understood?” she asked. “Sir, yes, sir!” all the cadets answered. “Now on your marks!” she shouted and everyone prepared for a quick launch into the air. Spitfire took a deep breath and blew her whistle and they were off.

Lightning and Rainbow were still the middle pair, over ever they managed to dodge everything that they came across. However in less than twenty seconds they were effectively stuck behind the previous pair. Lightning groaned “Can't they go any faster?” she asked Rainbow after she pulled back to fly beside her wingman. “I can't see away to get around them!” she all but shouted and groaned.

Rainbow placed a hand on her shoulder, “It doesn't matter, remember Spitfire said this is not a race.” she attempted to reason with Lightning. Lightning was sheezing, “We can still fly completely in sync and blow Spitfire's mind with our moves!” she added.

Lightning fought back a snort, “I guess…” she gave in reluctantly. After about ten seconds, Lighting and Rainbow were still behind the pair in front of them as they enter a fairly large storm cloud. As the two pairs were struggling against the wind, which seemed to have no effect on Rainbow and Lightning, “What are they, snails?” Lightning asked belligerently. “It's just a little weather,” she added to the back hand just as a few bolts of lightnings stroke, causing the pairs in front to spalt, wide enough for Lightning and Rainbow to bolt through and pass them. Lightning was first to spot the chance, “Now's our chance to pass these slowpokes!” she proclaimed and seized the chance, Rainbow reluctantly keeping pace and they dashed between the four. However, the four were caught in the wake and lost control. They screamed as they collided with the three pairs behind them. All this was outside of the view of all others.

Rainbow and Lightning almost breezed through the last leg and landed with little screeching as they stopped in front of Spitfire. Spitfire looked at her watch and didn’t fight back the impressed smile that formed on her face, “One minute and six seconds, You girls must enjoy having academy records for breakfast?” she asked rhetorically before she pulled out a spoting glass, “Definitely made the right decision making you two a team.” She said as she looked into and scanned for the others. She soon spotted all ten, either stuck in a cloud or trying to help their partner out of it, to various degrees of success and failure. She put the glass away, and took a deep breath, “Every Faustian time.” she muttered as she shook her head. “I am gonna have to help them out and have them go through this again,” she informed the two and started to hover. She looked at her watch, “After lunch, you two and the rest will be clearing these clouds as the next training session. So take a break, shoot the bull, chew the fat, what have you.” Spitfire said before she took proper flight.

“Sir, thank you, sir.” Lightning and Rainbow said together as they saluted Spitfire. Spitfire stopped and saluted the two and then back to the stuck cadets. Lightning then started to the mess hall. Rainbow, however, was far from happy about what happened in the storm cloud, however, she was not sure how to approach the subject, “Say, Lightning?” she started as she followed her lead, “Maybe next time we shouldn’t cut the other teams off like that.” she asked.

Lightning snorted in a fanned attempt to fight back a laugh, “You heard Spitfire, this happens every academy training.” she countered. “Besides, Wonderbolts are supposed to be able to recover from a spin-out. You saw them on the Dizzitron!” she pointed out the performance of all the cadets on the first day of actual training. “They could use the practice. I mean, it's not our fault we're so much better!” she said as she pointed out how she and Rainbow have out performed the others. “Not everyone is destined to become a Wonderbolt. Only the best of the best, right?” she asked as the two were just strolling. Rainbow wanted to say something, but words failed her and all she could do was nod. “Now let's go fuel up!” she said as she guided Rainbow to the mess hall. “Kicking.” she said as she kicked the door open with her left foot, “all that tail has made me hungry.” Rainbow didn’t want to admit it, but she was hungry.

After lunch, Spitfire gathered the cadets, “Alright, your next task will be to clear all these clouds. As Wonderbolts, you will be called upon to fight in the air, this means taking out foes in the sky. The cloud made for the obstacle course are your targets, and a tally of them will be counted, the pair that clear the most clouds in one hour wins.” She took out her whistle and blew before walking off, leaving the tally to a pair of reservists. The six pairs then leaped into the air after gaining some altitude and momentum broke up and started dispersing the clouds.

Within ten seconds, Rainbow and Lightning had a considerable lead over the others and it was growing. Before another fifteen seconds passed, as their tally rose, Lightning flew next to Rainbow, “I have an idea about how we can literally blow away our competition.” she said as she pointed out that the other ten were barely in the double digits while they nearing the triple digits.

Rainbow shook her head, “I don’t know, we're already way ahead.” she commented, while she was referring to the same numbers, it was to point out that they were in no danger of being supplanted.

Lightning shock her head, “Seriously, Rainbow, we’ve been eating Academy records for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, why not go for dessert?” she asked. Rainbow looked away at first, “Come on, Rainbow, part of being a wingman is to provide input. So are you in or not?” she asked.

Rainbow couldn’t bring herself to look at Lightning as she thought back to when Spitfire told her why Lightning was the lead. She took a breath, “I'm in!” she declared.

Lightning smiled, “Knew I could on you.” she stated, “Follow my lead!” she ordered and the two pulled away to get some distance between them and the others before they started to spin. In less than two seconds they managed to produce a twister. This began to quickly bust the clouds, however, in less than ten seconds, the wind was too strong. With fear in her voice, “I can't control it!” Lightning managed to confess before the twister spat her out. Rainbow was sent out almost immediately after. After it had jettisoned the two elementalists that conjured it, the twister went from the high-pressure area that Lightning and Rainbow generated to make it, and hovering barely three meters off of the ground went towards the closest low-pressure area.

As the twister was passing over the runway of Wonderbolt Academy, the hot air balloon Twilight et al planed to use to take them to Wonderbolt Academy broke through the clouds. They were ahead of schedule. Applejack was the first to see the oncoming spiral. “It's a twister!” she shouted getting the other four’s attention.

As the twister came closer and closer, “Hold on!” Twilight ordered as she cast a shield spell as fast as she could, yet they were already caught in it and while Twilight managed to keep her focus on the spell, all five young women screamed for their lives as the twister spun them around.

Rainbow was the first of her and Lightning to fully recover as she heard her friends scream as Twilight’s bubble was flung out of the basket. She gasped and then bolted, flying with all her heart, soul, mind, psyche, all her metaphysical parts fueling her body as she managed to perform a Sonic Rainboom and within seconds caught the bubble. She struggled to hold on to it and carry it to the plateau of Wonderbolt Academy, but she was soon joined by the ten other Magiville cadets and in less than two minutes they got the shield bubble to the ground before Twilight could no longer hold it and it burst. “Remind me to never do that, again.” Rarity requested as the five collected their breaths.

Rainbow didn’t stop herself from pulling her friends into a group hug. “I am so glad you guys are alright.” As her friends returned the hug, something dawned on Rainbow, “Is this because I forgot to write, isn’t it?” she asked.

“I am so proud of you, Rainbow, you managed to figure that out all by yourself.” Fluttershy’s tone was sincere and honest, but Rainbow couldn’t help but feel a slightly passive-aggressive jab.

After another second, they broke the hug, “That... was... awesome!” Lightning shouted as she arrived on the scene.

Rainbow’s mouth dropped, “Awesome?” she asked utterly bewildered at her lead’s action. “My friends could have been smashed to pieces!” she said as she pointed towards her friends.

Lightning looked at the five and shrugged, “They look fine to me.” she declared. She then looked to the sky and how clear it was, “Now those clouds, on the other hand, we totally wiped them out with that twister.” she continued to boast the accomplishments of the two, “Looks like the cloud busting is over and we won, Wingman!” she then thrust out her left fist for a fistbump.

Rainbow squinted before she brushed it away, “Seriously?” Rainbow asked utterly disgusted at Lightning. She squinted and barely fought back a snarl. “You made me bruise my arm.” She said as she rolled up her right arm sleeve and revealed the bruise. She then pointed towards the other cadets. “You sent the rest of our class into serious tailspins on the obstacle course.” she then pointed towards her friends, “You unleashed a tornado that nearly demolished my friends!” she finished leving three accusations. As Rainbow levied each accusation, Lightning all but snarled and growled.

Once Rainbow was done, Lightning was not going to let Rainbow go scot free. No, Rainbow had no right to place the blame of all this solely on her, “Okay, miss holier-than-thou,” she then turned to Applejack, “And no, I am not sorry if that phrase offends you, Paladin.” Applejack was offended, she gave no signs. Lightning then turned back to Rainbow and raised her right index finger, “First, you’re a grown woman, and the winner of last year’s young flyers competition, so don’t blame me because you misjudged your distance in a rapid descent, Miss Sonic Rainboom.” She then raised her right middle finger as she continued to count, “Second, you choose to not show me that bruise when I said ‘You look fine to me’ so don’t go crying about it now.” She then raised her right ring finger. “Third, as Spitfire said, tailspins are the norm for the first time through the obstacle course, and you didn’t complain about making the academy record, only to say ‘let’s not do that again’.” She then raised her right pinkie finger. “Forth, if you had that as an issue, then why didn’t you say anything to Spitfire before she went to help those soon-to-be washouts out? I know why and it’s because you want to win, you want the world to know that you are the best.” She then raised her thumb. “Fifth, you choose to help make the twister, no one put a knife to your throat, you choose to help me so don’t you dare claim that your hands no cleaner than mine,” she then rolled her fingers back and then held her right index finger again but this time she pointed to her friends, “and sixth, your friends were trespassing in ESM air space, specifically Wonderbolt Academy air space, they are a security breach.”

Rainbow was barely about to stop herself from growling, but she managed to collect herself and glared, “What I did and didn’t do and what my friends might have done, don’t change your action!” Rainbow countered she took another breath. She knew she could never get through to Lightning if she let her anger get the best of her. She knew this because no one could get through to her if they let their anger get the best of them and Lightning in too many ways then Rainbow wanted to admit, “I get that you want to be the best. So do I! But you're going about it in the wrong way.”

Lightning snorted and didn’t stop herself from laughing, “Oh I doubt that, Dash. Because if you forgot,” Lightning started before she pointed to the golden lead Wonderbolt pin she wore, “Spitfire made me the lead.” she then pointed right at the silver wingman Wonderbolt pin that Rainbow wore, “and you the wingman. If you got a problem with that, then take it up with her, Wingman.” Rainbow took a breath and turned around, she was following her lead’s advice.

A few minutes later, Rainbow opened the door to Spitfire’s office. Spitfire, raised her head from what she was reading, “This better be important, cadet. You're supposed to be busting clouds with your partner.” she stated, as far as she knew the cadets would not be done busting the clouds for at least another forty minutes.

“We're done with that, sir.”, Rainbow informed Spitfire.

“Already?” Spitfire asked before she looked at her watch, “Less than ten minutes, Damn! I guess it is safe to say that you and Lightning intend to break every academy record!” She didn’t stop herself from a chuckle. But after that, her face went stern, “Explain your methods.” she ordered.

Rainbow took another step forward, “That's why I'm here, sir.” she started, “Lightning Dust decided to use a twister.”

Spitfire rested her chin on her right hand as she looked down and to her right in thought, “A bit excessive for cloud-busting.” She stated before she raised her head and lowered her hand, “But judging from your time, it was obviously an effective tactic.”, she was not going to hide her impressed smile. Rainbow and Lightning were Wonderbolt material. There would be some rough edges to smooth, but nothing their respective debriefings couldn’t resolve.

Rainbow closed the distance and placed both her hands on the desk, “Yeah, well that "effective tactic" nearly took out my friends!” she all but shouted right into Spitfire’s face. She manage to take a breath and a step back, “No disrespect intended, sir, but there's a big difference between pushing yourself as hard as you can and just being reckless.” she declared. She stopped and took another breath, preparing herself for the plunge she was about to take, “And if being reckless is what gets rewarded around here, if that's what it means to be a Wonderbolt, then I don't want any part of it.” she said it. It was off her chest.

Spitfire’s eyes were wide in confusion. Why would Rainbow say that their tactic endangered her friends, they weren’t expected for another hour? And where was this thing about recklessness coming from? After a second of not finding an answer, “What are you saying, cadet?” Spitfire asked, hoping for clarification on something that Rainbow just said, even the smallest bit.

Rainbow took off the silver wingman Wonderbolt pin and placed it on Spitfire’s desk “I quit.” Rainbow said and turned around and walked out of the office, shutting the door behind. She stopped and wanted to turn around or look back, but she took a breath and continued her walk.

“No seriously, what was she saying?” Spitfire asked as if to herself, otherwise stupified by what just happened. Nothing Rainbow said made any sense. Just then one of the Wonderbolts that often taught at the academy reopened the door, “Sir, there’s been…” he trialed off as he tried to find the right phrase, “An issue.” he said with a twinge of fear.

Spitfire took a deep breath, “What is it?” she asked.

Back at the runway, Rainbow had told her friends what happened, not carrying that the other eleven cadets were right there. All were in utter shock, save three. Lightning who just shook her head and one of the other residents of Magiville, one of the few men, who happened to be a wingman seemed to be having a nervous breakdown, and his lead, the young woman who was the first on the Dizzatron as she rubbed her back trying to calm him. Applejack was the first to speak, “You did what?” she asked still having a hard time trying to understand what Rainbow did.

Rarity was the second to finally say something “Being a Wonderbolt is your dream, Dashie!” the enchantress called back to Rainbow’s ambition.

Rainbow took a breath and shook her head, “Some dreams aren’t worth pursuing, Rares.” Rainbow countered.

Twilight reached out and placed a hand on Rainbow’s shoulder, “I'm sorry, Rainbow. I know how much this meant to you.” she said, knowing that this was a massive thing for Rainbow.

“Cadet Dash!” came Spitfire’s voice as she yelled and ran up to the scene, flanked by two of the ESM aerial guard. She took a breath and squinted at Rainbow, “How dare you not only enter and exit my office without permission, but depart with giving me a chance to respond!” She almost shouted. Rainbow gulped as she realized that she should have thought things a little more before she went to Spitfire’s office. Spitfire continued to frown, “The Wonderbolts are looking for the best flyers in Mystica,” she started but then her tone soften, “but you were right.” she informed. This shocked all but the guards. “Being the best can never come at the expense of others. It's not just about pushing ourselves. It's about pushing ourselves in the right direction. I am glad that you manage to learn that before the sixth day of the academy. You've shown that you're capable of doing just that.” she then turned to Lightning Dust and took off the golden lead Wonderbolt pin, tearing the suit in the process. She then turned back to Rainbow and started to present it, “You're-”

However, Spitfire was cut off. “I CAN’T TAKE IT!” the man who was having a nervous breakdown shouted as he got to his feet. “I QUIT! I AM GOING BACK TO DEVILERLING MAIL!” he tore off the silver wingman pin and started to storm off, but was stopped by Spitfire. “Easy cadet, easy,” she managed to calm him. “I will gladly accept your resignation, but first you need a psych-eval and a debriefing. Once those are done, no one will stop your exit.” Spitfire stated. The man took a breath and then nodded, “Now, first hit the showers, our base psychotherapist will meet you at your quarters in the barracks. After that, he will escort you to my office for your debriefing.” Spitfire informed. The man nodded and headed to the barracks. Spitfire nodded to the guards, one flew to escort the man and the other went to get the base psychotherapist.

Rainbow picked up the wingman pin the man threw done and put it on. “Sir, with all due respect, sir, I don’t believe I’ve learned enough of how to be a good wingman, sir.” Rainbow declared. Spitfire turned to the lead that just lost her wingman. She nodded accepting Rainbow as her wingman.

“Well, if that what you want so be it,” Spitfire said as she shrugged her shoulders. She then turned to Lightning Dust, “Cadet Dust, you blatantly disregarded the safety of others and justified it as ‘pushing yourself’ is not only conduct unbecoming of an officer and it will lead to someone getting killed. As such I am forced to dismiss you from the Wonderbolt Academy and to have you permanently banned from becoming a Wonderbolt. Now I can’t tell what other branches of the ESM to do, but this will go up to Grand Marshall Shining Armor. Now pack your bags and get out of this academy in one hour, or I’ll have security throw you out.”

Lightning Dust snarled and spat in Spitfire’s face before she turned to leave, but not before passing one last glare at Rainbow and her five friends and headed off, “Their’s nothing in my quarters I need.” she said as she got up and started to fly. However, before she got far, “Better watch yourself, Dash, because you might end up in the trash too.” and with that, she left.