• Published 9th Feb 2013
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The Next Level Of Your Studies - cleversuggestion

Twilight Sparkle gets a letter from Celestia that sets her on a quest for knowledge which will transform her more deeply and completely than she ever imagined was possible.

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6.The First Growth

CE 1209

Saturday was her father's day off from his duties as a Royal Guard, and so that was the day White Lightning would take Rainbow Dash to the local racetrack. They'd spend the day together, sprinting back and forth, doing wing push-ups, and lifting weights, finally heading home as the sun began to dip below the clouds to a large dinner cooked by Crystal Prism. It was the highlight of Rainbow's week, time for just her and her father to delight in each other's company and the joy of being alive.

When she was going through flight camp, it became a time for her dad to give her helpful pointers and correct her form, helping her stay consistently at the top of her class. “Talent,” others whispered, and she replied confidently, “This? This is practice.” After she had graduated flight camp and started Weather Academy, they could fly together seriously, their end-of-day exercise shifting over the years from a daughter riding her father's back to two pegasi racing around the track.

But White Lightning was a tall stallion, and Rainbow Dash was a small filly who had just earned her cutie mark. White was the honorable sort who always threw his all into any competition, and so Dash measured her progress by the slow reduction in the number of times he lapped her, and the shrinking distance between their times.

After two years of racing, seeing the white blur in front of her get closer and closer week after week, it finally happened: she won a race with White. As she did her victory dance, he solemnly nodded in congratulation, and waited for her to finish. She eventually did, and landed next to him. “Mom's going to be so proud of me-”

“Rematch?” White curtly cut her off.

She blinked. He'd been resting, and she hadn't- and his endurance was way more than hers in the first place. She could survive another ten laps around the stadium, but beat him? Almost definitely not. But by the iron look in his eyes she saw there was no way she could say no. “Sure,” she replied, getting back into her racing mindset.

As predicted, she came in a fairly distant second. White had been preening for a full minute before she crossed the line, and he nodded to her as she landed. “Ready to go home?” he asked.

“No,” she replied, trying to match his deep voice with her high one. “Rematch?”

He smiled, a deep smile that she rarely saw but that always filled her up from the base of her hooves to the tips of her wings. “Always,” he said, and they were off again.

They had raced five more times by the time the sun went down and the stadium lights went on, and twenty more times by the time the stadium closed, and then another ten times before the pimply pegasus teenager who worked the front built up enough courage to politely ask the tall and imposing guardsman White Lightning to leave. The score was 34 to 3, favoring White, but Rainbow savored those 3 as her wings complained of soreness and her stomach grumbled about a missed dinner.

At Crystal Prism's pointed suggestion, they started racing after lunch, stopping for dinner. The score slowly shifted, like sand pouring through an hourglass, her number of losses creeping downward and her wins upward. They both threw their all into their practices, and his determination never seemed to waver.

But White Lightning was a broad workhorse, and Rainbow Dash was a lean racer. When the score reached 2 to 18, he started asking around, and by the time it had been 0 to 20 for three weeks in a row, he introduced Rainbow to Dan Patch after they got back to the stadium from lunch.

“I know you're in school to be a weathermare,” he said to Rainbow, “but I think you ought to start training with Dan Patch here. We think you could be a Wonderbolt.”

Rainbow's jaw dropped, and she looked rapidly from White to Dan Patch. “You really mean it?” Like nearly every other pegasus foal, there had been a Wonderbolts poster by Rainbow's bed since before she could walk, let alone fly, and her excited expression reflected all those years of dreams. “When would I start?” she asked, nearly prancing in place.

White hesitated. “Today,” Dan Patch said, “and then Saturdays from here on out.”

She stop prancing, and looked at White, confused, her mouth twitching as he nodded. “But that's our day,” she said, barely holding back the tears threatening to pour out of her eyes. “I want to spend time with you, Dad. That's why I'm here every week.”

He looked deep into those wavering eyes, and smiled at her, a deep smile she had seen long ago. “You're better than I am, Rainbow. I fought it as long as I could but you rose to my every challenge. You're everything I could want in a daughter, and I'm proud of you.”

He pointed to the stands in the stadium. “As long as I live, I'll be watching you rise higher and fly faster than you did before. It'll be your time, and I'll be here to cheer you on.”

She swallowed, and then gave him a big hug, which he returned while Dan Patch suddenly became interested in the Astro-cloud of the stadium. “Okay,” she said softly.

Author's Note:

This chapter was written before Games Ponies Play, so let's pretend the stallion clearly related to Rainbow is her older brother.