• Published 28th Jun 2012
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A New Hero - Alex The Lone Wolf

What if there was another pony who joined the pony gang? (Look at longer description...)

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Rainbow Falls

Episode 75 – Rainbow Falls

Very disruptive and loud banging on the door woke me up…again… I didn't even feel the need to get out and answer it. Nevertheless, it was barged open and a swift of wind flooded the face I tried to cover using the blankets.

"Come on, soldier! It's time to rise and shine!" Rainbow's voice sounded loudly.

I groaned, beginning to feel grumpy since I really didn't like my sleep being ripped apart like this. "…what for…?"

"Training for the team!" Rainbow stood firmly on my bed, shadowing over me. "We gotta practice if we want to make the tryouts for the Equestria Games!"

I slightly supported my tired self by using my hooves and planted them on the bed to push myself forward. "W-what?" I asked with lightly narrowed, aggravated, and squinting eyes. "What are you talking about?"

"You!" Rainbow Dash pointed a hoof towards me, specifically placing it on my muzzle. "You're on my team! Come on! Get up! We gotta go now!"

"Ugh." I groaned again but managed to remove myself from bed. "I need to take a shower. Need to wake up…" I mentioned, feeling my head dip forward every now and then.

"A shower? Really?!" Rainbow Dash asked behind me as if she couldn't believe I was serious about the subject for some reason.

"Yeah." I placed my hoof on the doorway to the bathroom and looked back. "Really."

I made my way to the tub until Rainbow faced me at the doorway. "You get in that tub, I'm going to get in there with you and scrub you so hard you're never going to want to take a shower again!"

Before I could turn on the water, I turned around and faced her with no real change in my expression. "You're kidding." I responded skeptically.

"Does it look like I'm kidding?" Rainbow stepped towards me to where she was able to aggressively have her muzzle pressing against mine.

Feeling she was all talk about it, I lifted my hoof and slowly reached for the handle. Rainbow didn't say anything, but she did squint her eyes at me even more. It was only a little later when I took a hold of the handle and turned it, hearing the squeak before the water starting running.

I actually believed that Rainbow wouldn't do anything about it.

Turns out…she kept her word.

"Ow… Ow… Ow…" I couldn't help but express in pain as I walked with Rainbow to wherever she was leading me. "I can't believe you did that…" I could feel the burning sensation mainly on my back. I was worried that Rainbow might have even taken a few pieces of my coat along with her.

"I warned you, didn't I?" Rainbow returned, bringing about a more smug tone to her question.

"Well, excuse me for trying to wake myself up after the sudden and abrupt greeting from you." I sighed. "I've gotten so many surprises from you girls, but you're the worst."

"You know what they say." Rainbow flew lightly in the air. "If I wasn't tough on you, then I wouldn't care."

Taking the opportunity to smirk to myself, I acknowledged her statement. "Isn't that the truth…"

"What's that supposed to mean?" Rainbow quickly asked in a defensive sort of manner.

"Oh, nothing." I dismissed, despite remembering those little things she had done in the past that I never knew she would actually do…such as that little thing from Hearth's Warming Eve…

"Whatever you're thinking…you better shut it out!" Rainbow reacted as if I was thinking something embarrassing about her. "You need to focus on the Equestria Games now!"

"About that…" I referred. "You mind explaining to me about what you were talking about earlier? You have a tendency to include me in things that you tell me about at the last second…"

"That's because I believe in you." She answered, catching my attention quickly. "I mean." She immediately included. "You see, you and I are in a team of three to participate in the Equestria Games. But before we can be officially competing in the Equestria Games, we need to qualify first! That's why we're going to train for it. I personally don't need to, but the two of you could still use some improvement."

"So, you signed me up for the Equestria Games without telling me about it at all?"

"Hey, I'm still your coach for your flying. Just because you've gotten better on your own doesn't mean we're finished yet! Just like the Academy, this is going to be like another exam for you!"

"Whatever you say." I managed to lightly shrug it off. "So, if we're in a team of three, who's the other pony?"

Rainbow stopped her forward motion and pointed out. "Right in front of you."

Our teammate, who was tenderly playing with a butterfly, spotted us in front of her and waved, mainly to me. "Hi, Alex!"

"Fluttershy!?" I trotted over to her with widened eyes. "You're going to be in the team for the Equestria Games?"

"Yes." She answered and then quickly withdrew the volume of her voice while looking away. "I mean…I don't have to be if you don't want me to…"

"No, no, no!" I shook my head and hooves. "It's just… I thought it'd be something you wouldn't really like to do."

"Rainbow said it'd be a good opportunity to face my fear of performing in front of others. And then when she mentioned that you would be on the team…well…" She slightly looked away and blushed. "How could I say no to that?"

"Plus!" Rainbow Dash added. "Fluttershy may not be the fastest or strongest flyer, but she's got a strong heart! I've seen it back when we were lifting that water up to Cloudsdale."

"I'd have to agree with that." I smiled towards Fluttershy. "I think a pony with heart is stronger than a pony with muscle."

"MUSCLE!" A voice suddenly burst out loud, startling me and especially Fluttershy.

We looked to see a familiar immensely buffed pony doing pushups while performing a hoof stand at the same time.

"What the…" I stared in shock. "Isn't that…Snowflake…?" I recalled from the academy. I'd have to try really hard not to remember.

"Bulk Biceps." Rainbow Dash corrected. "Ponies call him Snowflake because…" Her eyes drifted towards his wings. "Well…yeah…"

"Uh…okay… What's he doing here?"

"A team's gotta have some motivation support too, y'know?" Rainbow Dash pointed out.

"I guess…" I couldn't help but feel a little uncomfortable around this extremely huge pony.

"Enough chit-chat!" Rainbow cleared and then ordered Fluttershy and me to stand before her. "Front and Center!" The two of us did so and watched as she began pacing in front of us. "Alright, ponies, listen up!"

"We're all ears." Fluttershy happily returned.

"I'M ALL MUSCLES! YEAH!" Bulk Biceps screamed out loud from the sidelines.

"I like your attitude, Bulk Biceps, but it's gonna take more than muscles and 'Yeah!'s to get us to the Equestria Games!" Rainbow responded to Bulk Biceps's unnecessary comment and then focused on the three of us. "We are the Aerial Relay team, and it's up to the three of us to make sure that we qualify at the tryouts. And do I need to remind you how much I - I mean, Ponyville, heh – wants to qualify and make it to the Games?"

"I remember!" Fluttershy lifted the mane that hung downwards on the side her head, sinking into a warm and pleased thought. "I really, really, really want to qualify for you and Ponyville."

I merely shrugged for Rainbow's question.

"BRING IT ON!" Bulk Biceps continued his ear-piercing outbursts.

"Gimme a 'P' for 'Ponyville'!" Pinkie suddenly appeared before us, wearing a cheerleader's outfit and shaking her hay pompoms excitedly. Fluttershy yelped in terror from being startled by Pinkie's loud voice as well. "P, Ponyville!"

"P!" Bulk Biceps joined.

"You guys are starting to give me a headache." I shared as I rubbed my ears.

"Oh, thanks, Pinkie Pie." Fluttershy nevertheless thanked Pinkie. "That was a scary- I mean, great cheer." Fluttershy quickly changed her word choice when she saw Pinkie returning a worried look at the word "scary". Pinkie managed to smile gleefully when Fluttershy finished her sentence.

"Just make sure you have one ready for when we qualify for the Aerial Relay." Rainbow Dash reminded.

"AND AFTER THAT, FOR WHEN WE WIN GOLD MEDALS IN THE EQUESTRIA GAMES!" Bulk Biceps continued, causing me to place my hooves on my ears.

"Not so fast!" Applejack's voice sounded from a short distance away. She revealed herself carrying a cart behind her with her homemade treats. "If you're gonna be good, you're gonna be better with some of my apple brown betties in ya. They're perfect." She stopped the cart in front of us. Bulk Biceps and Fluttershy seemed highly interested in the food while Pinkie Pie popped out from within the cart and shook her hooves in cheer again.

"'P' is for 'perfect'!"

While everypony besides Rainbow Dash began working their mouths on the apple brown betties, I heard even more voices coming from another side of the area we were in.

"Hey, hey, hey!" I looked over to see Vinyl, Octavia, and Derpy inviting themselves in. "We heard you were in our team for the Equestria Games." Vinyl pointed out, her eyes free of her usual DJ glasses.

I quickly faced Rainbow Dash to somewhat get after her. "Was I seriously the last one to know about me being in the team?"

Rainbow only shrugged with a sheepish smile.

"It's all good." Vinyl walked towards me and placed a hoof on my shoulder. "Like you need to prepare for something like this."

"We've all come to support you and your friends to make it in to the Equestria Games." Octavia shared, stepping forward as well. "We'll be at the Games as well, but I would have to see if I will be allowed to join Vinyl and the others here after my performance…" Octavia thought to herself for a moment.

"You guys are going to be amazing!" Derpy hopped excitedly with her usual crossed eyes.

"Gee…thanks…" I returned a little embarrassingly, seeing how I began to feel overwhelmed by all this support.

"Alright, team!" Rainbow Dash suddenly called out, requesting us to get back on track. Fluttershy cut her chewing on the snacks short while I had to excuse myself from the mares by me. "Show me what you got! Put some bend into those knees!" Rainbow Dash pointed, leading for Fluttershy and I do so. "Flap those wings!" Got it. "And I want to see all four hooves off the ground on the count of three!" She paused and stared at us with a smirk for a moment. "One two three!" She counted off quickly.

I didn't know what Rainbow Dash wanted exactly, but all I really did was just get off the ground like she said. Fluttershy was having trouble doing so for some reason, perhaps because she was trying to be as fast as Rainbow. Nevertheless, I lowered myself a bit and grabbed her hoof to help her up with a smile.

"Aww!" I could hear Vinyl express from below. "That's so cute!"

"We aren't gonna win the Games with cuteness!" Rainbow Dash commented and continued to focus on us. "We gotta strain our physical bodies and push ourselves to the limit!"

"How's everything going up there?" Yet another voice spoke from below us.

Rainbow looked downwards to notice Twilight observing the scene between us. "Just trying to warm up here."

"Well, you better warm up soon." Twilight warned. "You don't want to miss the train to Rainbow Falls do you?"

"It's coming already?" Rainbow asked in shock.

"It's supposed to be arriving and boarding ponies in about thirty minutes. I told you this hours ago!"

"Oh." Rainbow merely expressed and then looked at us.

"No offense, Rainbow, but you need to get a little more organized…" I honestly shared.

Rainbow stared at me for a moment and only managed to briefly answer as she crossed her forelegs. "…shut up."

I didn't realize how big a party we were bringing in when we boarded the train. I believed we almost filled up an entire cart, especially with Bulk Biceps himself. In the train, I sat with Fluttershy in front of Twilight, who was sitting with Rainbow. The other girls, including Octavia, Vinyl, Derpy, and Bulk Biceps sat around us.

As the train was on its way to this new area, Rainbow Falls, Rainbow Dash stared out the window, possibly thinking of what the future held for the Equestria Games and us.

"You know, Rainbow Dash…" Twilight began. "Knowing you, I would've thought you'd gone out and search for the best flyers out in Ponyville." Twilight looked towards Fluttershy and me to clear something up. "No offense, of course."

"None taken." Fluttershy answered with a smile and nod while I merely shrugged it off.

"Yeah…but…" Rainbow continued staring out while thinking on her words. When she had given it enough thought, she turned to join in our space and continue talking. "It's a lot more fun winning with your friends. I mean, not that I have anything against winning with other ponies…it'd just be…a little weird without you guys. Besides, I know that I can pick up the slack for anypony. With me on the team, we'll qualify. I'm sure of it." She managed to retrieve the confidence within her and wear it on her face.

"Ponyville is very lucky to have you." Twilight added.

"Yeah, I'm pretty awesome." Rainbow shrugged a little arrogantly.

"'Awesome' must be your favorite word, huh?" I asked teasingly, believing that if I counted all the times she had ever used that word, I probably wouldn't be able to finish.

"You're only jealous because you know it's true." Rainbow referred to her self-description.

"What? About it being your favorite word?" I smirked, seeing an opening to her talk.

"You keep that kind of mouth, I'm going to double the work for you." She pointed intimidation. "Don't think I'm joking. You know what I did in the morning."

"Huh?" Twilight questioned, clueless of what had happened.

"Nothing." I closed and decided to stop. "Fine, you win."

Rainbow laughed. "You know it!"

"I am so proud to be representing Ponyville." Fluttershy shared her excitement, holding up a flag that represented our team. "Oh, it's such an honor to even try out for the Games. I just hope I don't let anypony down."

"You'll be fine." I assured and placed a hoof on her.

"We'll make them proud!" Bulk Biceps shouted out, rocking the conversation roughly. At least it wasn't as loud as before…

"'P' is for 'proud'!" Pinkie Pie danced on the seat behind us. "We're gonna be the best fans anypony has ever seen!"

"Ooh!" Rarity hopped onto the seat as well and placed her hooves on my back to support her height. "Can't wait to see what everypony else is wearing, even though I am absolutely sure they won't be better than the Ponyville uniforms I'm designing for the Equestria Games."

"And we will make it to the Games once everypony carbo-loads on my apple brown betties." Applejack joined in, holding one of her treats as an example.

"I can't wait!" Pinkie cried out.

"I've almost forgotten how big of a deal the Equestria Games are…and even how they're going to be held at the Crystal Empire… Miss Cadence will be there…" I thought about it, seeing as I hadn't been taking it to great thought before.

"Yeah, also your nutty sister!" Rainbow felt the need to mention to me. "Don't forget that she's going to be the one performing at the Equestria Games!"

"Performing?" I heard Octavia ask, get off her seat, and then sit next to me. "What do you mean performing?"

"Y'know?" Rainbow answered. "She's going to be the 'entertainment' for the Equestria Games."

"Are you talking about that band that'll be playing after the Games start?"

"I donnu." Rainbow shrugged. "I guess."

"Starlight." Octavia mentioned her name. "If I recall correctly…" She then faced me. "She's your…sister?"

"Foster." I corrected briefly and the looked away with half-opened eyes. "It's a long story…"

"Her music's not that great." Vinyl couldn't help but walk over and say half-jokingly.

"We may have our differences in our taste of music, but…" Octavia appeared to have something related with her. She looked up to Rainbow Dash. "Why would you call her…ahem…'nutty'?"

"Because she's a brat." Rainbow explained a little angrily. "She likes to mess with Alex, and by mess I mean try her best to hurt him anyway she can."

"Really…?" Octavia glanced over to me and then back at Rainbow Dash. I really didn't want to get involved with this talk of her.

"Yeah, but I think Alex has been getting a soft spot for her. He's had opportunities to ruin her and he just doesn't take it!"

That really bugged me, but I only sighed to release as much irritation as I could along with it.

"That's strange…" Octavia continued. "I believe I've seen her with my own eyes before, but I don't believe I've ever seen her do anything that would relate to the behavior you're speaking of now."

"Of course she wouldn't. She wouldn't want her 'fans' to know the kind of pony she really is." Rainbow replied.

"Well…I remember hearing her talking about something along the lines of…getting her music from someone special."

As much as I wanted to drive away from this talk, I just couldn't resist being intrigued by this information. "What?" I asked Octavia.

"Some ponies were interviewing her…um…I think in…Canterlot. Sometimes we pass each other every now and then because she either plays near or at the same area I do with my orchestra. All I really heard and can remember is her speaking about a certain somepony that inspires her music, but she didn't seem to want to get into it."

I then stared out into the floor, distinctively remembering the song she was singing the night the Crystal Empire was chosen to host the Games. Her heart, by all means, seemed to actually be placed in that song. Did…that have something to do with it…?

"Hm." Rainbow Dash crossed her forelegs in disbelief. "Probably to just look better."

We all felt the train coming to stop.

"We're here." Twilight looked out the window and announced to us. "Better get going."

"Right…" I spoke softly and stood up so we could all start heading off the train.

All of us walked inside the training grounds, where all of the other competing teams were doing their exercises. My eyes even caught hold onto this specific group of competitors. They weren't ponies… They were griffons! I was immediately reminded of…Gilda.

Geez…it's been so long so I had seen her. I can't help but wonder how she would react if she was here and saw me for who I was today.

Nevertheless, I also saw some ponies staring or glancing at us walk by. I wondered if it might have been due to the fact that an Alicorn like me was competing in the Games…

"Here's a good spot!" Rainbow Dash presented with her hoof towards an empty area of grass.

Several of the ponies helped sent up a tent while I felt a little distracted. A distant boom startled me and caused all of us to look up. It was immediately recognizable that another team dashed by in the sky, which were the Wonderbolts. In awe, Rainbow Dash walked forward a bit to get a better view until they stopped by in front of her.

"And the game is on!" Spitfire expressed with a grin.

"Hah, nice to see there's some real competition here!" Soarin added, removing the googles on his eyes.

"Two more days of practice, then we'll see you in the air, Rainbow Dash!" Another one of the Wonderbolts friendly placed a hoof on Rainbow. I don't believe I had ever conversed with this one, but if I recalled correctly, the name was Fleetfoot. "If you're lucky." She walked off, having the rest of her teammates follow behind her.

"Don't need luck!" Rainbow shouted towards them. "Got some awesome flyers with me!" She sighed contently and turned to us. "The Wonderbolts know a winner when they see one, and we'll be winners just as soon as we practice! Right team?"

"Right." Fluttershy gleefully returned.

"Sure." I commonly replied, not feeling the best of moods. I probably needed time to get back to normal.

"Hooray!" Pinkie beamed and blew a party hooter.

Rainbow Dash looked over to Twilight as if she was expecting something. "And, um, I'm with her! Hooray!" Twilight cheered with an unprepared look.

"Give us some clouds! Give us some dale! And what do you get? Cloudsdale!" We heard a couple of other cheerleaders working their positions for the Cloudsdale team. "Woo-hoo!"

Pinkie stared in silence for a moment until she immediately gasped. "Where can I get pompoms like those?!"

Twilight and Fluttershy each exchanged a look of delight.

"Alright! No time to lose!" Rainbow Dash announced. "You see the other teams here, so we should get straight to training!"

"Yay." Fluttershy answered in soft excitement.

"Okay." I returned.

"C'mon. Let's get to it!" Rainbow began leading Fluttershy towards an area with more space to work in.

"We'll hang back here." Vinyl informed me as she came along with Octavia.

"Good luck, Alex." Octavia expressed with a raised hoof and a smile.

"Thanks…" I managed to smile just a bit. Then, I trotted away to catch up to the team.

I joined Fluttershy at the spot as Rainbow Dash was waiting for me to get into listening position. After, she flew up into the air and began pacing around in flight for a moment in silence. Fluttershy and I glanced at each other with our eyes and then back at Rainbow Dash.

"So, do I need to remind you of what our goal is here?" Rainbow began, asking us and crossing her forelegs to reveal her seriousness on the subject.

Fluttershy and I returned silence for a few seconds.

"…winning?" I guessed, feeling that that's what Rainbow Dash most likely saw.

"We want to qualify!" Rainbow specified. "We need to be one of the first four teams to cross the finish line!" She looked over her shoulder towards a checkered banner hovering over a cloud outlined with a rainbow." She looked to me and pointed. "Alex, you're the first flyer, so let me see you flap it!"

"…okay." I returned and was about to start flapping my wings until Rainbow Dash stopped me.

"Oh, and for the record, keep in mind that no magic is allowed. We're lucky enough to be able to have an Alicorn on the team, y'know, fairness and all that."

"Yeah… I get it." I responded, having no intention to use magic in the first place, but I guessed she was just being cautious. I pushed my hooves off the ground and began working my way towards the objective destination until I suddenly saw something fly up right in front of me, stopping me in my tracks. I kept my eyes on the unidentified flying object until it began hurling back to the ground. It splattered on the grass, allowing me to see that it was one of Applejack's apple brown betties.

Rainbow had flew to me to see what the commotion was about. Applejack grabbed another one with her tail and flipped it over to me once again. However, the motion of the food was really…uneasy, so I couldn't just go ahead and eat it if that was what Applejack wanted me to do.

"What the?" Rainbow Dash shared.

"Sorry! Got the idea from them, but..." Applejack turned towards where the Cloudsdale team, the Wonderbolts, was practicing.

"Hooves down! Cakes up!" A couple of ponies working launchers that were holding cakes exclaimed out loud. Spitfire and Fleetfoot were in the sky at the time. They swirled around and perfectly caught the cakes in their mouth, chewing as they continued flying.

"...It looks like they got better aim." Applejack admitted.

"I don't even think eating while flying is a good idea." I mentioned. "I don't imagine it sitting well while you're doing work…"

"Never mind that." Rainbow Dash redirected my attention back at the task at hoof. "The passing of the baton needs to be seamless." She held it up towards me. You shouldn't miss a wing beat or drop a hair in altitude!" She grabbed my hoof and lifted it up. "And whatever you do, don't let go of it!" She firmly planted it on my hoof.

Fluttershy flew up towards me, seeming to already know how it worked. "Are you really, really, really sure you're ready? I mean, I don't want to take it if you're not super sure."

With a small smile, I nodded. "Yeah, I'm ready." I carefully passed it on to her by pressing it against her hoof.

She went ahead and retracted her hoof to hold on to it, but she accidentally somehow lost her grip on it. The baton flew off her hoof, and she so desperately tried to catch it again with her hoof. However, it ended up falling towards the ground and landing there.

Rarity walked by and spotted the baton lying on the ground in front of her. "Ponyville could do so much better." She shared, referring to the appearance of the baton. "I'll be back with a freshly painted one in no time!" Despite the fact that we were using it at the time, she went ahead and trotted off with it.

"We were using that!" Rainbow Dash exclaimed after her. "And it's not like anypony else has color-coordinated horseshoes or anything!" After hearing a bold clink, she looked ahead to see Spitfire pass Fleetfoot a shiny gold baton. Sighing, she headed back to the ground. "I guess some ponies do."

Twilight, who was observing a hot pink pompom of her own, attended to Rainbow. "Some ponies do what?"

Rainbow Dash sighed again. "Have a better chance of qualifying and going to the Equestria Games than others." She walked off, sparing a sentence to Fluttershy and me before leaving. "Take five, guys."

Fluttershy and I landed back on the ground near Twilight.

"I don't know what she's worried about." I mentioned. "We're not that bad. I'm sure we'll still make the qualifications."

"Maybe she's worried about looking bad in front of the Wonderbolts?" Twilight offered.

Fluttershy and I could only return shaking heads and shrugs.

"I can go talk to her." I suggested and then began heading off in the direction Rainbow left to.

She wasn't too far away as I found her sitting and watching the Wonderbolts practice by herself.

"Everything alright…?" I asked as I approached her.

Rainbow seemed to take my voice for a slight surprise when she turned around. "Y-yeah, everything's great!" She seemed to place on a false smile. "Don't even know why you're asking me that question!"

"I don't know." I answered in a sarcastic but lightly playful manner. "You kind of walked off looking a little less than energetic."

"Me? I was just…taking a break." She falsely excused.

"Since when do you ever take a break?" I returned, but she remained quiet, possibly from being unable to come up with another excuse. I walked towards her and placed a hoof around her to sympathize. "Listen, Rainbow, I know we don't really…talk like this much…but I'd like to know what's going on. What's bothering you?"

She struggled to respond, as if she wasn't really good at this type of conversing. I wasn't surprised. She always allowed her ego to do the talking.

"It's kind of nerve-wracking to be training next to the Wonderbolts." She answered.

"Is it? Really?" I frowned lightly.

Rainbow looked behind us and then carefully around to make sure no pony was looking at us. "I'm going to tell you this, but you better not tell anypony else." She punched me in the gut, lightly to where it didn't hurt but firm enough to show me she was serious. "I'm trusting you with this."

"Since when have I blabbed about anything you did in the past you considered embarrassing?" I reminded. "Especially that little soft spot you had back after the wedding in Canterlot?" I specifically recalled.

Rainbow's face warmed up a little, but she quickly shook her head. "Shut up. Do you want to know what's going on or not?" I nodded. She sighed. "You know how the Wonderbolts are my all-time heroes?"

"Yeah?" I softly acknowledged.

"Well…" Rainbow rubbed her head. "I don't want them to see me fail. Don't take this the wrong way, but it'll really look bad on me if we make one little mistake and fail at qualifying for the Equestria Games."

"Wow…" I expressed as I was surprised this was coming out of her mouth. "That doesn't sound like you. You're awesome, aren't you?"

"Yeah…" She answered with slight hesitation.

"So? What has you worried?"

"Well…it's not me that I'm worried about." She continued. "What if something goes wrong between you and Fluttershy during the qualifications? What if Fluttershy accidentally lets the baton slip through her hoof again?"

Releasing a small smile of assurance, I responded. "That's why you're there to coach us, remember? I know Fluttershy will do anything at her best to make you happy."

"Yeah, I know." She stood up and looked towards the sky, observing the Wonderbolts practice in almost perfect unison. "And who else better to learn from than the Wonderbolts themselves? Come on. We should get back to practice. Don't wanna fall behind."

"Yeah." I agreed, stood up, and began following her back to the field.

After catching Fluttershy, she began leading us in the direction of where the Wonderbolts were practicing. In a matter of time, Rainbow stopped us in front of their camp, where they seemed to even have a team that coordinated their moves. Not only that, they seemed to have more luxuries to go along as well. For example, Spitfire was receiving an energy boost massage from an elder pony that seemed fit enough to be a trainer himself. Meanwhile, there were loud sounds of rushing air coming from Soarin's run in the skies.

"Watch and learn." Rainbow Dash announced. "The Cloudsdales are Wonderbolts, and Wonderbolts are the best flyers there are." She pointed her head in the direction of the soaring Soarin'. "And my personal heroes. So, maybe you two can learn something."

My attention turned back to Spitfire who was casually receiving the massage.

"They even get massages in their training…" I rather learned about the bonuses they received. "Wow."

"I can give you a massage." Fluttershy said out loud, causing me to turn my head back to her in slight surprise. She quickly withdrew her enthusiasm and embarrassingly turned her head away with a blush. "…if you want…"

Before I could return a slightly flushed face, Rainbow Dash placed her hooves to the bottom of our muzzles and turned our heads upwards to get us back on focusing. "Please learn something?"

"C'mon, Soarin', pick up the pace!" Fleetfoot had shouted from the ground near Spitfire. "You can do better than that!"

"I sure hope so." Spitfire agreed.

"Practice, practice, yay, practice!" The Cloudsdale cheerleaders continued to work their gleeful motivation.

However, the pegasus Rainbow Dash wanted us to keep our eyes on made the not very smart mistake of turning his head away from the course and to the cheerleaders, acknowledging their peppy existence. By the time he turned his head back to the course, his wing caught hold onto the ring he was supposed to fly through, botching his task severely. He then began spiraling uncontrollably towards the ground, about to botch his landing harmfully as well.

Everypony seemed to either be struck with shock or just trotting in to see what the situation was about as he screamed for help. This even reminded me the time Rarity had lost her wings and was falling endlessly towards the ground. Unfortunately, the thought had practically paralyzed me too when I remembered how I could only watch her fall as I had no wings. However, Rainbow luckily sped out from the ground and rescued Soarin' just before he was about to pummel to the ground.

"Gotcha!" Rainbow Dash stated and then landed back, allowing us to race over to her and Soarin'.

As there were cheering from both teams, the rest of the Cloudsdale team proceeded to congratulate Rainbow on her spectacular save.

"Awe-some!" Fleetfoot commented.

"As good as any Wonderbolt!" Spitfire added.

"Oh, Rainbow Dash, I'm just so proud of you." Fluttershy proceeded to praise Rainbow. "You scooped Soarin' out of the sky and brought him down to the ground and now, now he's okay. At least, I hope he's okay." She turned to ask Soarin' herself. "Are you okay?"

"Uh, my wing hurts…" He stretched out his wing, which didn't look too good. "…but I-I'm sure it'll be okay by the competition." He quickly included when Fleetfoot and Spitfire's expressions were widened with surprise. A siren wailed, presenting a cart to carry him to his recovery. Soarin' seemed to have some trouble getting on. Nonetheless, he rested upon it and looked at Rainbow Dash with relieved smile. "You're the best, Rainbow Dash." He groaned afterwards.

"Ah, it was nothin'." Rainbow replied. "But, if you feel like talking about how great I am, don't let me stop you!" She chuckled lightly and perhaps even a bit nervously.

As he was escorted out of the area, Bulk Biceps suddenly dashed in, surprising everypony with his insanely loud voice. "'P' IS FOR RAINBOW DASH!"

Realizing his mistake, Fluttershy flew a bit off the ground in order to match the height to his ears. "Um, 'Rainbow Dash' actually starts with an 'R'." She whispered.

Bulk Biceps was confused for a second, but then he immediately revealed a sheepish expression. "NEVER MIND!" He shouted.

"Tough break to lose a teammate right before the tryouts." Rainbow Dash mentioned to Spitfire and Fleetfoot.

Spitfire and Fleetfoot exchanged an odd look with each for a moment and then faced Rainbow Dash. "You mind if we have a word with you, Rainbow Dash?" Spitfire requested. "In private?"

"Sure." Rainbow accepted with a tone that revealed her anticipation for that request. She looked back to face us. "Go ahead and head back guys, I'll catch up in a bit."

"Okay…" I answered and then faced Fluttershy. "Come on." I motioned my head back to where everyone else on our team was at."

As we walked to regroup with the family, Fluttershy seemed to slip a statement towards me.

"I can give you a massage, you know…" She spared, still a little embarrassed by it.

"It won't be like your 'bear' massage, right?" I joked, still distinctively remembering how rough she handled that one.

"Oh, no!" She reacted heavily, shaking her head. "Yours will be nice, soothing, and gentle." She assured with a small beam and closed eyes.

"Maybe I'll take your offer then." I shared with a warm smile as well.

As we arrived back to everypony, I heard my name being called, along with a waving hoof from Vinyl Scratch, who was sitting with Octavia.

"Oh, excuse me, Fluttershy." I expressed.

"Of course." She motioned.

I trotted over to the two to see what it was they were calling me for.

"How's it going?" Vinyl asked.

"Okay, I guess." I looked back to see Rainbow still talking with Spitfire and Fleetfoot in the distance. "Although, we still haven't really gotten too into the training yet…"

"That's cool." Vinyl returned and then looked at Octavia, who seemed to have nothing to say. Vinyl nudged her for some reason, bringing up Octavia's voice in a startle.

"O-oh." She caught herself mentally. "Ahem. So…these are all your friends?" She directed towards everypony surrounding us.

"Yeah." I looked in her panning direction. "Well…Bulk Biceps…the huge guy…I don't know so much. I've seen him a few times before, especially at the Wonderbolt Academy, but other than that…that's pretty much it…"

"You want to be a Wonderbolt?" Octavia asked curiously.

"Me?" I placed a hoof on my chest. "No." I shook my head. "Rainbow Dash sort of dragged me into that one…literally. She said it was good for my wing practice and I guess I can say it was." I smiled at the few memories forming my head. "I was paired up with Derpy there." I directed to Derpy, who was hanging around the others.

"I see…" Octavia stated and sat silent for a second. "I've…heard that all these mares are really special to you."

"Yeah…they really are…" I mentioned, glancing at each one of them. "They all helped me get back on my hooves. Well..." I thought about it. "I'm not sure that's the right way to put it. More like…they woke me up. Sorry if it sounds weird."

"No." Octavia shook her head lightly. "I understand."

"Hey, Alex…" Vinyl's voice stepped in for a moment. "You ever worry about your special somepony?" She asked, looking past me.

"Special somepony?" Octavia questioned, seeming to be lightly surprised.

"Fluttershy?" I inquired, wondering why Vinyl brought that question up all of a sudden. "What do you mean worry about her?"

"Like…if some other pony is trying to…I don't know…act 'funny' around her." Vinyl somewhat attempted to explain.

"'Act funny'…?" I repeated, still not really getting Vinyl's message. "You mean like…Pinkie Pie?"

Instead of trying to get the message across, Vinyl stood up, placed her hooves on my head, and turned it around in a specific direction. I immediately saw Fluttershy with Bulk Biceps. She was giggling for some reason…and then my eyes drew towards Bulk Biceps who seemed to obviously be…flexing his muscles. Something instantly stirred up inside me. I didn't really like seeing this…

"Do you see what I mean now?" Vinyl asked.

I did…and I didn't like it…but I couldn't just go based on sudden thoughts.

"Maybe…he's just…flexing his muscles…" I guessed.

"Why would somepony flex his muscles for no reason?" Vinyl brought up.

"I don't know…" I shrugged. "I mean…he was kind of doing that earlier this morning. Maybe it's just his thing."

"And was Fluttershy around with you at the time?" Vinyl questioned yet again.

"…yeah…" I answered.

"Maybe you should see what's up." Vinyl suggested.

"I don't know…" I shook my head. "I just don't want to go in there thinking one thing when it actually could be another… I mean…I don't like the sight of it…but I can't just…you know." I tried to say. I looked back and saw Fluttershy now paying attention to a small baby blue butterfly in front of her. It landed on her muzzle which she found adorably amusing. "See? Now, she's just focusing on the butterfly."

"But he's still flexing." Vinyl pointed out.

I didn't really know what to say to that. He was indeed doing what Vinyl was pointing out. I grunted lightly from the thought. "…I don't know… I won't…get involved right now…but if things get obvious…then maybe."

"Just keep an eye on her, okay?" Vinyl suggested.

"Okay…" I returned. I shook my head, remembering Octavia had said something before. "Sorry, you were saying something, Tavi?"

"Oh, it was nothing." Octavia waved her hoof. "You probably need to be getting ready soon, though."

"Speaking of that…" I looked back to notice Rainbow Dash wasn't in sight anymore. "I'm not sure where Rainbow went… I guess we have to wait for her to come back."

Rainbow Dash seemed to be gone a lot longer than we had expected. It was odd, but the only reason I could think of was that she was allowing time to slip by since she was with her "personal heroes". When she finally returned, we were able to start our training…but it wasn't as focused as I expected it to be.

Rainbow Dash merely guided us on what we needed to do: Fly through the hoops and safely pass on the baton to each other. However, she didn't seem to be placing in the focus on helping us do just that for the qualifications. Instead, she seemed to be more worried on disappearing all of a sudden, leaving us to practice on our own.

I wasn't sure if this was her method of "coaching", but either way, the same pattern seemed to occur in the next day. Fluttershy and I were left to do our wing-ups, but after Rainbow Dash disappeared once again, I was more concerned about Fluttershy than my wing-ups. She would place both of her wings on the ground while she supported herself with her hooves, and then she would take her hooves off to see if she could then support herself with her wings. However, she lost her balance and was about to fall flat on the floor until I stretched out my forelegs and connected hers with mine.

"You okay?" I asked.

"Mm-hm." She nodded her head and pushed herself up. "Doing wing-ups are hard…" She rubbed her wings lightly.

"What about when you were training hard to improve your wing power?" I reminded her of her workout back then.

Fluttershy rubbed her hoof on her foreleg a little embarrassingly. "That was a while ago… I guess I forgot…"

"It's fine." I nudged her wing with mine. "At least…I think it is…" I looked around for any sign of Rainbow Dash. "Rainbow has been disappearing so much lately…it's hard to know if we're going in the direction she wants us to be in."

"I know…" Fluttershy acknowledged. "I hope everything's okay…"

"How about you two take a lil' break and come have some apple brown betties?" Applejack walked in from the side to suggest. "I've got a heap more waitin' for ya."

"Yeah, sure." I accepted, leading Fluttershy along with a gesture of a head.

Applejack led us to a spot she had covered with a blanket. Nearby was her full cart of her baked goods. She sat us down while she retrieved a plate holding a plentiful amount of the apple brown betties. "You two seen Rainbow around?"

We both shrugged until we unexpectedly heard a voice quickly growing louder.

"I'm here!" We saw Rainbow fly in and land at the blanket, sitting down. She seemed to be lightly out of breath.

"You look a little tired." I pointed out, casually analyzing her face. "I thought you went out to get some water."

"I did! I just…had a little race with myself on the way there and back." Rainbow grinned a little oddly.

"Oh… Okay…" I dismissed and turned to the plate Applejack had placed before us.

"It's all fine!" Applejack announced lively. "Go ahead and dig in! There's plenty to go around!"

Just as I was about grab one, something fierce suddenly charged right in. "DON'T MIND IF I DO!" He grabbed a hoof-full and shoved them in mouth.

Despite his sudden action, Fluttershy went ahead and grabbed one to delightfully chew it.

Seeming to be unable to help himself, Bulk Biceps went ahead and shoved the rest but one on the plate into his mouth. Before he swallowed, he laughed for a reason I did not know of. Noticing Rainbow Dash at the other end of the blanket, he grabbed the last one and offered it to her. However, Rainbow took a glance at the treat and then waved her hoof, rubbing her belly afterwards to show that she was full.

I hadn't seen Rainbow Dash eat at all lately, so I couldn't understand why she didn't accept the offer. Then again, maybe it was how Bulk Biceps shoved all the food into his mouth like that…

Bulk Biceps shrugged and decided to bounce the last piece from the plate with his muscles. This caused Applejack and Fluttershy to laugh while I could really only feel the opposite of laughing.

"…heh…heh…" I subtly feigned a laugh, but then decided to leave the area before anypony could really see what I was feeling.

It was one thing to dive in all of a sudden, but it was another to eat everything that was available to numerous ponies, knowing that one pony didn't even have a turn…

The little event wasn't the end of it though. A little later on, when Rainbow Dash had to go do whatever it was she always left for, I found the both of them laughing and…prancing? …together… They were wearing these outfits that only Fluttershy seemed to wear well.

"Oh, Alex!" Rarity had spotted me as she was wearing her designer glasses and holding the fabric the two were wearing with her hoof. She walked towards me to speak further. "I had been looking all over for you so you could test out these new outfits for the Equestria Games I designed."

My eyes narrowed towards Fluttershy and Bulk Biceps who seemed to be having…fun together… "They're too…"

"Too much?" Rarity guessed.

Remembering how Rarity was talking about the designs, I shook my head mentally but physically nodded. "Yeah… Too much…"

"Oh, dear…" Rarity noticed my sulking attitude. "They aren't that bad, are they?"

"It's… It's not that at all…" I slightly looked away.

"What's the matter, darling?" Rarity asked.

Unwilling to get into the matter, especially at this place and time, I decided to avoid it. "I think I just need some time…to myself." I began turning away. "See you."

"…bye…" Rarity answered, seeming to be bothered by the way I had talked to her and was leaving.

I sat in a spot where I wouldn't catch any other pony's attention and just be allowed to think to myself. I did a lot of thinking.

Why was I obsessing over this thing between Fluttershy and Bulk Biceps? They're just friends, right? It's no different as if Fluttershy was spending time with her animal friends…is it?

I groaned and placed my hooves to my temples.

I can't help feeling this way…but I don't want to show it. Bulk Biceps is technically not doing anything wrong, and I don't want to make a fool out of myself for overreacting. That actually…might drive Fluttershy away… I don't know… I just can't help but feel bothered by this…

"Hi, Alex." I heard in front of me, quickly catching my attention.

I immediately noticed it was Fluttershy. "Fluttershy!" I softly exclaimed in surprise. "I thought you were with Bulk Biceps."

"Rarity told me you were acting a little off, and that you were starting to worry her." Fluttershy took a seat next to me. "Is something wrong?"

Remembering that I didn't want to make a big scene out of it, I decided against telling her about what was going on inside. "I don't know…" I answered. "I guess I'm just having an off day."

Fluttershy surprised me again when she placed a soft and gentle kiss to my lips. "Let's turn it to an on day then. We have to give it our all so we can qualify and make it to the Equestria Games, remember?"

After receiving that gift from Fluttershy, I had to be dead to not smile. "Yeah, okay."

After that, everything appeared to be going great as Fluttershy and I started to train together…until Fluttershy ended up accidentally hitting Bulk Biceps with the baton as we attempted to pass it to each other. For a big guy, he was a real softie when it came to such things to have Fluttershy chase after him to apologize.


The next day came, which was the day of whether we passed our qualification or not, and Rainbow still hadn't really kept her focus on us. It seemed like she was doing two things at once, but not telling us. What could she possibly be doing that was more important than getting us ready for what she wanted in the first place?

Either way, Fluttershy confronted me with a warm smile on her face. Whatever I had been feeling before, I had to suck it up whether I liked it or not and attempt to look at least content for her.

"Ready for some more training?" She asked.

If you could say being interrupted by Bulk Biceps was training…

"Yeah, sure." I agreed nonetheless and had to go on with the flow.

"Look." She pulled something delicate out and held it up to me. "I brought something to lift as a weight."

"Fluttershy, that's a flower." I stated truthfully. "I'm sure you're able to work with something heavier than that."

"Really?" She questioned.

"Angel weighs more than that. For Celestia's sake, I've seen you even lift a bear off the ground before!" I mentioned.

"That's true…" Fluttershy giggled.

A sudden loud and exaggerated groan was heard throughout the practice area. All of our attention was brought to this familiar-looking pony in a wheelchair. "Woe is me! Oooh!" She cried as everypony, especially Fluttershy and me, trotted to see who it actually was.

As the surrounding crowd chattered concerningly, we rushed in to the distraught pony. "Rainbow Dash!" I approached her wheelchair and placed a hoof on her wrapped one. "What happened to you?!"

"Urgh, I've hurt my hoof..." She announced, holding up the hoof I had been lightly touching and received gasps from Pinkie Pie and Rarity behind us.

"All of them?" Spitfire questioned, noticing how all of her hooves were wrapped instead of that just one.

"I, uh, tripped on a-a foam hoof and landed on a..." Rainbow then placed a hoof over her mouth and the rest of her explanation came out muffled and indistinct. All I was able to really get was something about a "pokey stick" and something to do with the ground.

Pinkie Pie growled loudly, shaking the pompoms on her hooves. "If I get my hooves on that…" She repeated the same unintelligible words that Rainbow mumbled and continued clearly after. "…it'll be in BIG TROUBLE!"

"There is no way I can fly now." Rainbow sadly stated.

"Do you think you'll be better by tryouts?" Fluttershy asked worriedly.

Rainbow continued to groan very exaggeratedly, which seemed…unnecessary. She also fell over the hoofrest of her chair. "I'll be lucky if I ever fly again!" She sighed deeply. "I just need a little rest."

"Oh, don't worry, Rainbow Dash." Fluttershy quickly lifted her back up onto the wheelchair and began moving her out of the area. "We'll take care of you... or, at least, somepony will. Like, a medic or-or a doctor, or a nurse."

Twilight stepped in, offering to take Rainbow Dash to receive care. "I'll take her, Fluttershy. You and Alex should keep practicing…" Twilight stopped to look at Rainbow. "That is…if you're still going to try out for the Games…"

Rainbow Dash sat silent as the rest of the girls followed. The only ones that were left behind was Fluttershy, Vinyl, Octavia, Derpy, and me.

"Is she going to be alright?" Vinyl asked as she came our way with Octavia and Derpy.

"I usually wouldn't worry about her too much in situations like this…" I began. "…but something seems a little off. I wouldn't think that Rainbow Dash would actually let an injury with her hoof stop her from doing this with us unless she actually messed up her wings."

"If she can't compete in the tryouts, who else are we going to find to fly with us?" Fluttershy questioned fearfully.

"Me!" Derpy's hoof shot upwards. "I can do it!"

"Actually…she can." I mentioned, remembering her previous flights. "She was pretty good back at the Academy. Better than me, really."

"Well, that's wonderful news!" Fluttershy smiled. "If Rainbow Dash really isn't able to fly with us, then we can try. If we do end up winning, I'll gladly be willing to give her my gold medal."

"Yeah…" I lightly nodded. "I mean…it must suck getting hurt all of a sudden and being unable to compete when you really wanted to. There's something about this that's still a little weird, but either way, I guess I don't mind either."

"Me too!" Derpy agreed.

"Shall we go see how your friend is doing then?" Octavia suggested.

"Yeah." I agreed. "Wouldn't be fair when everypony is with her except us…"

Fluttershy opened the door to the room Rainbow Dash was in to lead us inside.

"And how is our patient doing?" She asked warmly.

"I've been better…" Rainbow Dash answered as all of her legs were held up on her bed. It appeared her injury was worse than she explained it to be.

"We just wanted to let you know that we're so sorry you're hurt, but you shouldn't worry a bit about not being able to be in the tryouts." Fluttershy expressed earnestly. "We'll be alright. We even have a replacement." We turned our heads to see Derpy walking in the room, waving a flag excitedly.

"Hi!" She exclaimed.

"We're so, so sorry that you can't compete." Fluttershy continued. "We all know how much you love to fly. And we promise that if we qualify and make it to the Equestria Games and all win gold medals, you can have ours, because we know how much a gold medal means to you."

Fluttershy's sharing of our feelings on the subject seemed to strike Rainbow Dash emotionally. She remained silent for just a second before she softly responded. "Thanks..."

"Hey, Rainbow…" I walked towards her and lightly placed a hoof on her chest carefully so I wouldn't hurt her. "I'm not sure what exactly brought you down…but…" I chuckled over what I was about to say next. "You know… I kind of feel like there's a chance of you getting up and flying with us again. You're awesome, remember? I feel like you can just get the strength to at least fly with us in the tryouts. But if you really can't fly at all, we understand. Get better, okay?"

Twilight walked from behind me and gently placed a hoof on my shoulder. "We should probably let her rest."

I nodded. "Okay."

The rest of us began leaving the room while Twilight remained inside a bit for some reason. When she rejoined us, she advised that we returned to the practicing area. "Come on. We should head back."

Everypony seemed to be in a negative and saddened mood as we all sat outside together. I had suddenly felt a peak of warmth inside me, staring endlessly for just a quick moment. Nevertheless, I was too concerned about Rainbow Dash.

"You know… I still can't believe Rainbow Dash was easily injured like that." I mentioned.

"To be honest, even with Derpy as Rainbow Dash's replacement, I don't think we're gonna qualify." Twilight responded and looked over to Derpy. "No offense." Derpy merely shrugged it off, absolutely finding no offense to that. "Rainbow Dash was almost a complete guarantee to qualifying with her speed. I don't know if we can do it without her."

"Gah!" Pinkie Pie threw her wig from her head and pointed towards the huge pile of collected pompoms. "What am I gonna do with all these now?!"

"Uh, what were you gonna do with them before?" Applejack asked curiously.

Rarity sighed miserably. "Maybe my Equestria Games uniforms will still be in style next year. I mean, I am pretty fashion-forward." She accidentally released the uniforms she was holding up by her magic, and they landed right on top of Twilight.

Just as she removed the clothing, her eyes caught on to something in motion, and hoofsteps were heard.

"Is that Rainbow Dash... walking?" She asked, quickly getting everypony's attention.

We noticed Rainbow seriously walking, as if she had miraculously recovered from her injury or possessed a strong enough endurance to move about. Soarin' appeared from behind her as they seemed to be heading towards the Cloudsdale team. Spitfire was in the middle of drinking a bottle of water until she spotted Rainbow Dash and allowed the bottle to fall from her mouth. Fleetfoot lowered the shades she was wearing in order to see if what she was seeing was actually true.

"Does... this mean you're feeling better?" Fleetfoot asked strangely.

"I feel great, because..." Rainbow Dash returned as we walked up behind her. "I was never hurt in the first place." She shook and removed off her bandages. This immediately caused for mostly everypony in the vicinity to gasp in shock. I was pretty surprised, but mainly confused.

"I faked my injury so that I wouldn't have to choose between flying for Ponyville or Cloudsdale…" She explained, glancing at each of us with a lowered head. I was then lightly shocked to hear this coming from Rainbow Dash. "I wanted to fly with you both, and the decision was too hard!"

"Oh, Rainbow Dash, you don't have to choose us." Fluttershy spoke up and walked towards Rainbow. "I know you love to win, and you should go with the team that surely will."

To be honest…that would be pretty deceiving of her for choosing the winners over her friends like that…

"I know now who I should've been loyal to." Rainbow concluded.

"Good choice." Spitfire assumed in a practically disgusting manner. "Always stick with the winners."

"Ponyville." Rainbow corrected, pointing at us without hesitation. This caused a major but subtle look of confusion to strike Spitfire and Fleetfoot's face. "Because it's not just where I live, but it's where my friends are." She approached us. "The ponies who really care about me, whether I can help them win a race or not." She turned to all of us, but mostly directed her attention to Fluttershy and me.

Everyone in the team cheered loudly for Rainbow's choice.

"Are you sure that's the right decision?" Spitfire seemed to have the nerve to ask.

"You lied to me about Soarin's wing just so you could get a better flyer!" Rainbow immediately confronted, leading Soarin' to cross his forelegs in aggravation. "You may be a winning team, but you're still not the kind of team I wanna be a part of."

Silent for a second, Spitfire removed her sunglasses. "Huh. Rainbow Dash, you are something." She admitted in a stiff and stern manner. "Saw it at the Academy, seeing it again here. We could learn a lot from a competitor like you." Her voice and state of mind seemed to change after that.

"Think we already have." Fleetfoot added.

Despite their shifts in tone, I still couldn't really believe they tried to convince Rainbow Dash to fly with them. It was really scandalous…at least to me.

Spitfire walked up to Soarin' and asked him a question.

"Ready to fly?"

"Really?" Soarin' returned in an unnecessary surprised tone.

"Never should've lied and tried to replace you to begin with." Spitfire answered. It was starting to sound almost like they had recently fought and that was the actual motive for Spitfire to replace Soarin'.

Soarin' gasped in glee. "Go, Cloudsdale!" He shouted as he soared upwards to the sky.

"Come on, Ponyville relay team!" Rainbow Dash faced us enthusiastically. "We've got a race to get ready for!"

"Right behind you." I expressed and followed along with Fluttershy. I was just happy that she was willing to stay loyal to her friends.

Our turn at qualifying for the Equestria Games came soon enough.

The Cloudsdale team had made it through clearly and obviously.

"Come on, Ponyville! You can do it!" Soarin' shouted out from the finish line.

I looked towards Rainbow Dash, who was already posed in her position. She glanced over to me and nodded as a signal to start.

"Here we go…" I told myself and then began racing through the hoops with the baton. I was sure to be careful enough to not make a mistake.

After the final rainbow ring, I could see Fluttershy flying gleefully and excitedly at the blue banner ahead. She encouragingly waved her hoofs towards her direction for me to exchange the baton. I did so, firmly connecting the baton to her hoof. However, it almost slipped out from her hooves, but she quickly caught on to it and carefully held it.

"Go, Fluttershy!" I heard Twilight from down below. I looked to see her wearing a cheerleader outfit herself along with a wig like Pinkie. It was pretty adorable. "Woo-hoo!"

Fluttershy gently breezed through the rings, knowing she didn't have any time to waste. By the time Fluttershy made it to Rainbow Dash, it was the time that the last flyer had already made it to the finish for the Cloudsdale team. It was up to Rainbow to make it, which I was confident she would. She wouldn't let something like this slow her down.

"Qualify, Ponyville! Qualify, Ponyville!" The Cloudsdale cheerleaders decided to cheer considerately.

"Woo-hoo! Go, Rainbow Dash!" Pinkie Pie jumped on top of them in a pyramid form and shouted.

It was astounding to see how Rainbow completely dashed through every ring as if she had been practicing this exact course all her life. Finally, all she had to do was fly straight towards the cloud the timer was on. But no pony really knew how much time we had left, and everypony was pretty much left in suspense as Rainbow flew as hard as she could.

As Rainbow burst through the cloud with a puff, the pony with the stopwatch clicked it.

"Ponyville qualifies!" He happily announced, leading for everypony to cheer immensely.

The three of us gathered together and lowered down to the crowd.

Next, all of the teams that qualified, including us, stood on a wooden platform to accept the medals we were receiving…but they weren't the last medals we would be getting.

After the official wrapped the medals around our necks, somepony had poked Rainbow Dash. We turned to see it was Spitfire, who placed a pin of her very own on Rainbow's medal. Rainbow was pretty shocked, but Spitfire shook it off as she nodded and flew along with the rest of her team, who were also the only ones wearing their actual outfits.

"YEAH!" Bulk Biceps expressed loudly, leading the other girls in the crowd join in.

"Yeah!" They repeated and walked in towards us.

"Woo-hoo!" Pinkie cheered.

Twilight squeezed in between Rainbow Dash and me and grinned brightly as she wrapped her forelegs around the both of us. Rarity posed casually on the other side of Rainbow. Fluttershy remained by my side. I felt a sudden addition of weight on my back, leading me to notice that Vinyl placed herself partly on me to grin. Octavia, seeing as it was already getting crowded where I was at, decided to stay in a place that was a little more open. Applejack stood on my far right while Bulk Biceps stood hugely beside her. Pinkie Pie eagerly jumped on to him while Derpy appeared behind as she held our flag excitedly.

"Equestria Games, here we come!" Twilight shouted proudly and happily, and everypony looked towards the front.

Barely realizing that we were going to have our picture taken, I managed to quickly perk up with a big grin to see the flash of the camera.

When we were finally back home, I wasn't sure what the girls were going to do, but they were most likely going to celebrate about Ponyville making the qualifications. Knowing Pinkie, she just had to have party about this succeeded goal.

I caught Pinkie and Twilight running outside the library. I couldn't help but grin to the point where I could have easily cried tears of joy. It was just so…I don't know…amazing to see how every one of them was excited that we made the qualifications. The Cloudsdale team may have been all about winning, but what's special about us is the friendship that gets us through anything, even if we aren't the best.

I noticed the door to the library was open, and then I spotted Rainbow Dash writing in the journal inside. I walked in to see her writing quickly, which expressed how many thoughts were going through her head that she wanted to plant on paper.

I leaned on the wall, smirking lightly as I waited for her to finish. When she spat out of the pencil from her mouth, she removed the medal from around her neck and then placed it on the bookstand she was using to write on.

As soon she turned around and spotted me, she stopped in flight and then landed softly.

"Oh, hey." She greeted. "Sup?"

"Nothing." I shrugged, walking closer to her.

"Hey…uh…" She rubbed her head a little embarrassingly. "Sorry about…what happened. I know I should have never even let the Cloudsdale team be an option…but it's just…I can't help but want to win for sure. Besides…flying with the Wonderbolts… It's…you know…"

I nodded, understanding her. "I know. They may be a dream…but they aren't your life, are they?"

"Hm." Rainbow Dash looked away with a soft smile. "No. You guys are. And I'm gonna make sure we give it our all at the Games!"

My smile stretched, and I surprised her with a strong embrace. "Gotta remember that we're strong together."

Rainbow placed a hoof around me as well and smiled. "Yeah. Of course."

This lasted for several seconds until we suddenly heard Twilight's voice outside.

"Rainbow, let's go!"

Rainbow quickly pulled herself away, still afraid to let the others know or see her affection for me. Of course, I remained assuming it was because she didn't want to look weak. Either way, I take what I can get.

"Guess Pinkie Pie has a party us." Rainbow Dash mentioned.

"Who would've guessed?" I returned, feeling my warm smile remain.

I walked onto the balcony to join Spirit at the edge. I had been a little tuckered out after Pinkie's party, so the first thing I did was pretty much hit the bed afterwards. Also, it was a little weird not seeing Spirit when I was awake lately…and my best guess was that she was still afraid. Then again…I was always surrounded by others most of the time.

I sat on the edge and accepted the ice cream Spirit already had ready for me.

"Thanks." I smiled at her and then looked out to the warm sky.

"You're welcome." She returned and remained quiet as I took a bite. After a while, she spoke once again. "You really don't like that big guy, do you?"

This stopped me in my tracks just when I was about to take another bite of my ice cream, and I also released a small gasp. I remained silent in thought about it. "…it's not that… It's…"

Spirit kept her eyes on me, as if she was calmly eager to hear my thoughts on the matter. "You're scared?"

"Mmm." I groaned lightly, unable to answer her question clearly. "I don't know…" I shook my head. "I don't know why… It feels like…the answer is in my heart…but I just can't look inside."

"And who do you remember resides deeply in your heart?" She asked in the way that she knew I knew the answer, and she wanted me to give it to her.

I looked at my ice cream and slightly motioned it around in front of the sun. "All of them…" I thought about the girls I cared deeply about. All of my real friends.

Spirit managed to smile lightly and continue. "You're just really protective about Fluttershy." She turned towards the sunset. "And if it was any other pony that was special to you, you'd probably be the same way." She giggled in fond bliss. "That's always been you."

"Yeah…" I laughed a little, being able to remember many times where I cared so deeply about them. "Same goes for you too." She ceased for a second and looked at me. "What?" I asked.

"Nothing…" She turned back away. "You probably should be ready to see him again at the Equestria Games."

"You're acting like if he's my sworn enemy or something." I smirked a little, finding it pretty funny.

"Well, just make sure you don't…I don't know." She shrugged and smiled a bit.

"Yeah, I think I get what you mean." I rested my forelegs on the solid floor. "I probably shouldn't even be talking about him right now, otherwise it might sound like I'm overreacting about him."

"You're right." She agreed and looked at her own ice cream. "I don't think you know the flavor of this ice cream, do you?"

"No." I looked at mine. "I kind of felt like…you've always made it yourself or something."

She shrugged and continued gazing at it.

"Sweet Caramel Delight…"

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