Piercing the Heavens

by Calm Wind

First published

Sequel to Flying Sky-High. A lot has happened, but now Rainbow Dash finally has a chance to fulfill her dream and become a Wonderbolt. As the process begins, will her relationship with Soarin be a blessing? Or will it be a curse?

So much has happened in the past year. Friends have been made, battles have been fought, and love has bloomed. Now at long last, Rainbow Dash has the chance of a lifetime: a chance to become a Wonderbolt and instantly be part of an elite squad. However, one of the key judges for the tryout is none other than her love: Soarin. He is bound by his profession to be fair and honest in his selection. Will their relationship give Dash an edge in the tryouts? Or will it strike her down before she even gets there?

Also what of the dark magic within Soarin? He's kept quiet about it for a while, but not all is as well as he lets on.

And what of the Shadowbolts? They scattered after the battle with Nightshade. Surely they didn't just disappear.

A story of remaining strong in the face of harsh challenges. Life and love can be tough, but strong hearts always find a way to prevail.

Edited by: Kestrel (and on occasion: Lucky424)

This Fic's length is a bit intimidating, but it is broken into four parts, each of which could be considered their own stories with clear beginnings and conclusions. I decided to keep it all together because it was how my outline was structured (aka i completely underestimated the length).

This is not a Gurren Lagann Crossover. The title was a coincidence. (But said coincidence has led to many references and characters that parody the anime)

Featuring multiple chapter illustrations by: Scootafail/Chiwee, PenumbraGlow0290 Deviantart: darkmoonrising, Colorstrike, and foxenawolf

I also like including pieces of fan art drawn by my readers if they drew certain scenes. So far i have included some fan art by: GlitterDash (Dev art: chessaw), Hopscotch, MyLittleXyo, Ice Blade, mlplover789, EchoSong, sweet Isolation, Pie Is Epic, melovedogs123, CowgirlVK, CrystalMelody_kc, Noble Savage (Deviant art: thatdamntenpin), Those Kids In The Corner, natis120, eveyannie, PhonicBoom, bambiki, Randompig212, Schemmer, SOARINDASH1, Neonspirit, NorthernLights8, kikirdcz, Fuzzette, SilverWolfFTW and Cantil

Chapter 1 (Part 1: The Wonderbolt Tryouts)

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(Timeline position: Two months after the events of That's Not Quite How He Told It...)

(For timeline info, please visit my homepage)

“Rgh!” Applejack grunted as she grinded her elbow into the table. She glared with her eyes forward, locked on her smug opponent. Their right hooves were clasped together, and she forced all of her strength to her left. She could barely move it.

“Ohboy,ohjeez,ohman,ohwow,ohcripes,ohdarn,ohmy,” Pinkie Pie peered over the edge of the table with her eyes wide and a smile hidden by the tabletop. She bounced giddily as she watched the hoof wrestling match continue.

Behind Pinkie, also present in the quiet environment that was Sugarcube Corner after business hours, were Twilight, Rarity, and Fluttershy. Unlike Pinkie, they sat one table length away as they observed. Twilight watched with interest, keeping calmer than the rest. Fluttershy peeked out from behind her. She had pulled out one of Twilight’s alicorn wings and mostly hid behind it. She wasn’t very fond of these contests. Rarity sat a little close, not anywhere near as close as Pinkie, but she kept leaning closer. Her mouth hung agape as she stared at Applejack’s opponent.

Applejack grunted again as she tried to force her hoof down with a sudden lurch, but her opponent held firm.

“Ain’t gonna work A.J.,” a smug voice taunted.

Applejack was hoof wrestling Rainbow Dash.

“I ain’t losin’ to you!” Applejack growled and ground her teeth together.

“Bring it!” Dash smirked. Applejack was strong. It took a lot of effort for Dash to resist being pushed down, but that was just it: She was able to hold firm. The two of them competed in a lot of things, but hoof wrestling was the one thing Applejack ALWAYS won. It was a contest of pure strength. Who would ever bet on a pegasus beating an earth pony? At least an average pegasus.

Over the past few months, Dash had become far above and beyond average.

“Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, OH MY GOSH!” Pinkie bounced up and down beside them, “It’s too intense! I’m not hyper enough for this shit!” She darted behind the counter, ripped open a full bag of sugar, and started guzzling it down.

The mere sight of a pegasus overpowering an earth pony was unbelievable. It was even more incredible because the earth pony being overpowered was Applejack. She was a naturally strong, hardworking, and heavy lifting farm pony. She was strong amongst her own kind.

If it were a Wonderbolt with a strength role like Soarin, this wouldn’t have been quite as exciting. All of Dash’s friends knew she had been training hard, but they never thought they’d see the day she overpowered Applejack.

“Damn!” Applejack cursed as Dash began to push her hoof down. She strained against it, but her arm was getting tired. Their strength seemed about equal, but Dash was now proving her endurance. Applejack just couldn’t keep it up as the long match went on.

“C’mon!” Dash called out as she had Applejack’s hoof halfway to the table. Applejack tried as hard as she could to resist, but she couldn’t stop it.

“Ah!” Applejack exhaled as her strength gave out. She lurched to her right, her hat fell off her head, and the back of her hoof struck the table.

“HAHA! YES!” Dash instantly lifted off from the table and pumped her hooves in the air. Applejack panted lightly as she looked at her hoof resting on the table. Her arm was slightly numb from all the stress.

“That ain’t right,” Applejack shook her head as she scooped her hat off the floor. She placed it firmly back on her head, crossed her hooves, leaned back in her chair, and pouted.

“Can’t beat these guns!” Dash gloated while flexing her right arm and kissing it. Right after she did a pang of discomfort shot through it. “Oo! Ow!” Dash shook her arm out as it throbbed.

“Careful Dash,” Twilight chuckled as Dash hovered back down and rotated her arm a few times. “Let’s avoid celebration injuries,” she suggested as Dash grinned sheepishly. Pinkie Pie popped up behind Applejack.

“Aww, why the long face?” She asked while rubbing Applejack’s shoulders. Pinkie had bits of sugar speckled all over her nose and mouth and she was vibrating slightly.

“Whaddya think Pinkie?” Applejack snapped.

“I think you look funny when you shake like that!” she giggled as she began to bounce a little harder. Fluttershy fluttered up behind Pinkie, placing her hooves on Pinkie’s shoulders to try and stabilize her. As soon as she touched Pinkie, Fluttershy started shaking in midair and was quickly thrown off with a quiet yelp.

“Don’t be a sore loser Applejack,” Dash waved a hoof at her. Applejack glared, but Dash only shrugged. “You’re still up fifty seven to one in hoof wrestling,” she chuckled. Applejack sighed.

“Yeah… TO ONE,” she shook her head, “I lost to a pegasus in hoof wrestlin’. Now I gotta live knowin’ that,” she sulked. Pinkie slowly rose up from the floor behind Applejack. She held up a small bottle of jimmie sprinkles and shook the bottle so it made rustling noises. Applejack shot a glare at Pinkie, who bounced away while giggling.

“A.J., I’m not just any pegasus,” Dash smirked at her, “I’m not a little flower like Thunderlane. Just cause you can overpower him doesn’t mean I’ll go down as easily,” she winked. Applejack stood up roughly from her spot and glared daggers at her. Fluttershy quickly hovered up between them, placed her hooves lightly on Applejack’s chest and shook her head with wide eyes. Applejack grunted and sat back down. Fluttershy sharply turned to Dash.

“Stop it,” she said quietly with an angry pout. Dash obeyed, not wanting to fluster her little friend. She flinched as Pinkie bounced by behind her at double her usual rate of pronking.

“Applejack,” Twilight walked up to her and smiled, “Rainbow Dash has been training real hard to become a Wonderbolt. You saw what they were capable of. If anything you should be happy she’s made such great progress.”

“I’m doubling my workload,” Applejack ignored her.

“Applejack, what did I just—,”

“I ain’t lettin’ this go Twilight, stop tryin’,” she put sternly. Twilight sighed and shook her head. Rarity made her way over to Dash while looking her up and down.

“Darling, I don’t mean to tread upon your—,” she poked Dash lightly on the arm, “new, well-earned, physique…, but does your dress even fit anymore?” She had an unnecessary amount of concern in her eyes. Dash flattened her ears.

“Rarity, I’m not that much bigger than I used to be,” she looked herself over. She had built up some muscle, but she wasn’t bulging all over. Still sleek and aerodynamic, just a little stronger than she used to be, “I’m not gonna turn into Bulk Biceps, I severely lack the required testosterone, thank Celestia,” she rolled her eyes. Rarity was still looking at her with worry as if she hadn’t heard a single word. Dash flattened her expression to match her ears, “Rarity, how often do I wear my dress anyway?” Rarity suddenly looked up, alarmed.

“It’s not about how often it’s worn!” she grabbed Dash by the cheeks. “It’s about having one ready at all times! Stop working out so much! I want to finalize adjustments!” she shook Dash lightly. Dash quickly reached up and gently pulled Rarity’s hooves off her face.

“Well actually,” Dash began, “I got something to tell you all,” she said a little louder to get all of their attention. Even Pinkie stopped bouncing and glanced over, but still shook a little.

“What is it?” Twilight asked while tipping her head to the side. Dash looked between all of them and smiled.

“In a week,” she began, her hooves lightly tapping on the floor in excitement, “the Wonderbolts are having open tryouts!” she beamed happily. A collective wave of surprise rushed over her friends.

“I need more sugar,” Pinkie stated before zipping back behind the counter.

Piercing the Heavens
By: Calm Wind

Chapter 1:

A loud *CLANG* rang throughout the gym as Soarin dropped a barbell back into its rack. He shook his head out, whipping bits of sweat from his mane. He hated hind leg workouts. So much more stress on the body and he would feel it just walking for two days after. He had to keep his body even though, unless he wanted to look like their over-inflated, top heavy strength coach.


He grunted to himself in discomfort as he rubbed a hoof against his forehead. Damn headache just wouldn’t go away. His head had been giving him hell lately. He wished he could figure out why. It was probably just the dark power again. He thought by now he’d be used to it.


His head had been in a tizzy frequently lately. Maybe he was overworking himself despite the inner power keeping him energized at all times. Nah, maybe it had just been too long since he saw Dash. Every time he visited her, it went away for a while. His recent visit to Ponyville was much longer. Maybe that’s why the repercussions came back harder this time.


“Huh?” he blinked as he picked up his towel. He turned to his right and saw Spitfire glaring at him, Fleetfoot giggling behind her. “What?”

“Soarin, what the hell?” she tipped her head to the side, “I’ve been trying to get your attention for the past ten minutes!” she flattened her ears, “I know you get super focused when you lift weights, but you were off in your own little world there.”

“Uh… sorry?” Soarin wasn’t quite sure how to answer that. In fact he was surprised to see a lot of other Wonderbolts now occupied the gym. It was just him Spitfire, and Fleetfoot earlier. How did he miss all the others? He wasn’t paying attention at all.

“As I tried to ask about five times,” Spitfire continued, “I was wondering if you’ve got your selection criteria ready for the tryouts next week.”

Soarin sat down on a gym bench behind him and wiped his face off with his towel. He blinked and then looked back at Spitfire.

“Wait, did you say tryouts?” He asked quickly. Spitfire’s eyes widened as Fleetfoot fell over laughing behind her.

“Soarin! Are you joking?! Please tell me you’re joking!” Spitfire slapped a hoof to her face.

“I’m… not?” He answered truthfully. Spitfire sighed heavily and let her head hang down.

“Soarin, this has been schedule priority one for a month! Have you paid attention in any of our last three meetings?! I’ve brought it up every time! Augh~!” She swung her head back in frustration. Soarin really had not remembered a single instance of it.

It was true, his mind had been very occupied, but unlike previous months, it was a mix of things. The constant on his mind was obviously Rainbow Dash. There weren’t many moments where she wasn’t on his mind in some shape or form. That was no mystery to his friends. The other he had kept to himself. He had been fighting throbbing headaches recently that seemed to come and go quickly. He had figured out ways to feel them coming and fight them, but at times it required intense concentration. It had happened in all three of the previous meetings he had had with Spitfire and Fleetfoot. Talk about bad timing, apparently he missed something about a tryout?

“Soarin, we have to make adjustments due to our loss of Rapidfire. We can’t have a three pony squad,” she explained, “Obviously we will have to move somepony qualified up to the lead squad, but we need a replacement to fill their spot in their squad. We are having an open tryout for recruits and the general public to find out who will join the elite squads. Got it?” she looked directly at him, but he just stared.

“Oh! Uh… yes?” he answered. She was not convinced.

“Hold up Spitfire, I know that look and so do you,” Fleetfoot leaned on Spitfire’s shoulder and snickered. It took Soarin another moment to break his vacant gaze and see that Fleetfoot was pointing at him. “I think somepony is making love to his lady up in here,” she tapped her hoof to her head. Spitfire gave Fleetfoot a very uncomfortable look as Fleetfoot burst out laughing. Soarin flattened his eyes and ears.

“Soarin, do we need to have the focus talk again?” Spitfire reminded him of her threat. If he focused on Dash instead of his job, he’d be demoted. Soarin was well aware. That wasn’t the case.

“No, we don’t. And Fleet, that’s not why—,” Soarin was cut off as a sharp throbbing felt like it squeezed his entire forehead in a vice. “ARGH!” he flinched really hard, stood from the bench, and slammed his hoof against his head. His eyes were shut tight, but when he squeaked them open he saw both Spitfire and Fleetfoot looking at him with surprise and concern.

“What was that!?” Spitfire trotted up to him and placed a hoof on his shoulder. Soarin quickly tried to change the subject.

“Nothing! It was nothing!” He put his neck up straight and hid any sign of pain from his face.

“Don’t give me that Soarin!” Spitfire scolded him. “It’s the dark magic again, isn’t it?” she was too sharp. Soarin sighed and nodded.

“Yes,” he rubbed his hooves softly against his temples, “for a while actually,” he decided just to tell her. It would save him the trouble of Spitfire breathing down his neck about it for weeks. “I’ve been focusing hard not to show it, that’s probably how I missed all the info. Was there anything else important in those meetings?” he asked.

“Pfffft,” Fleetfoot held in a laugh as Spitfire rolled her eyes.

“Yes, but we’ll talk about that later,” she pointed at him, “You’ve seen Luna about this right? Like I suggested?” she asked. Soarin averted his eyes. “You… have… right?” she looked at him sternly again.

“No,” Soarin admitted. Spitfire let out a long, annoyed sigh.

“Soarin, I feel like your mother. This is your well-being we’re talking about. Why haven’t you? Are you waiting for your brain to explode?” she berated him. She was right, but Soarin was getting tired of it. It was his problem, not hers! Why was she getting on his ass about it? He quickly turned and grabbed his towel.

“Okay! Okay! I’ll go tomorrow, just let me finish my workout!” he snapped.

“Soarin!” Spitfire called after him, but he trudged off.

“You two are a great a source of drama,” Fleetfoot chuckled as Spitfire sighed again.

“How did I get put in the drama category?” she made a head motion in the direction of Soarin, “He’s the one with the spooky powers and crazy long distance fillyfriend.”

“Speaking of Dash,” Fleetfoot changed the subject, “think she’s gonna show?” Fleetfoot followed Spitfire as the two made their way over to the stretching mat.

“She better,” Spitfire scoffed as they sat down and began stretching. “She’s… probably…” Spitfire grunted as she reached her arms as far past her back hooves as she could, “the best… prospect… ever,” she exhaled as she sat back up, “I sent her ten invites, I hope she’s figured it out.”

“Ten?” Fleetfoot chuckled as she finished her stretch and rolled onto her back, grabbed one of her hind legs, and extended it upward, “Careful, she might get a different idea,” she winked.

“Must you always go sexual with everything?” Spitfire lifted an eyebrow at her. “Oh,” she stopped mid stretch, “I’ll have to tell Soarin later, but let’s get this clear right now. No favors.”

“What was that about me being sexual?” Fleetfoot bounced her eyebrows.

“Dammit Fleet…” Spitfire groaned as Fleetfoot laughed, “I’m talking about the selection process. We’re looking for the best possible candidate, which means more than straight strength and skill. It means character and integrity as well. When I said no favors, I meant for Dash. We’re good friends with her, but we cannot choose her based on that. Everypony gets a fair chance, hence, no favors.”

“Of course,” Fleetfoot replied with very little thought.

“I figured you already had that down. It’s Soarin I’m worried about,” she thought out loud as she motioned for Fleetfoot to help her with a stretch. They faced each other. Spitfire spread her back legs out and held her hooves forward. Fleetfoot grabbed them and pulled lightly to stretch Spitfire’s lower back.

“Let me guess,” Fleetfoot asked as she tugged, “you don’t want him to be swayed by her irresistible, sassy charm,” she smirked.

“It’s weird hearing you call somepony sassy,” Spitfire scoffed comically, “Yes and more. Of course I’m afraid of their relationship being a factor in his decision. I’m also worried about his focus. It’s bad enough with these apparent headaches he’s been having, but it will probably be even worse with her around,” she brought it up again. Fleetfoot tugged harder once and let go. “OW!” Spitfire whipped backward and rolled back slightly before sitting up, “What was that for?” she questioned as Fleetfoot stared at her flatly with her hooves crossed.

“You need to drop this whole distraction thing, Spitty,” Fleetfoot’s ears flopped down, and then back up.

“Thing?” Spitfire blinked in confusion. Fleetfoot looked past her.

“Oh wow, perfect timing,” she tipped her head to the side. Spitfire followed Fleetfoot’s eyes over her shoulder. Squad two had just entered the gym.

“C’mon! Hop to it!” Silver Lining barked through the doors. High Winds walked in first, releasing a big yawn as she passed.

“Heard ya the first thousand times, jackass!” Blaze barked back at Silver as she passed. He didn’t even look at her.

“Sir! I’m here sir!” Wave Chill burst through the doors and saluted.

“Then go!” Silver pushed him along.

Spitfire kept her eyes trained on Wave Chill for a brief moment, but quickly broke it, hoping Fleetfoot didn’t see.

“What are you talking about Fleet?” She tried and failed to play it off.

“Nice try. Maybe you should start practicing what you preach,” she pointed back towards squad two. Spitfire followed her hoof and her eyes landed on Wave Chill as he hit the weights with a little too much gusto. Again, she stared longer than intended.

“Wait, NO!” She shook her head. “Fleet, Wave doesn’t distract me!” She tried to defend herself.

“And Lightning Streak is the perfect model stallion,” she called Spitfire’s bluff instantly while leaning forward. “Yesterday you pushed a door labeled 'pull' for like, twenty seconds cause you were trying to watch him run the obstacle course at the same time,” she snickered as she recalled.

Art by: Those Kids In The Corner

“Er—,” Spitfire blushed and grimaced. She was hoping nopony had seen that.

“Go easy on Soarin alright? Now that you know what it’s like to have your own distraction.” Fleetfoot smiled contently, but Spitfire tried to retaliate again.

“There’s nothing between—!”

“Stop,” Fleetfoot put a hoof over Spitfire’s mouth, “Look me in the eye and tell me there’s nothing between you two. I dare you,” she had her eyes set sternly on Spitfire. Spitfire held her breath, puffing her cheeks out.

“Ugh! Fine, I get it.” She crossed her hooves and pouted. Fleetfoot clapped her hooves together.

“Good!” she scooted herself over the mat into Spitfire’s view, “just trust Soarin okay? Yeah, he and Dash are head over hooves in love with each other, but Soarin is a professional. He will do his job, and Dash will appreciate it. At least I hope she does.”

“Fair enough.” Spitfire answered plainly, rising to her hooves, and trying to leave quickly.

“Hey!” Fleetfoot got up and chased her. “You’re not even gonna say hi to your hubby!?” she joked as she chased Spitfire out of the gym.

“Tryout’s?! That’s wonderful!” Twilight was the first to speak up after Pinkie’s initial sugar binge reaction. “What’s the—,”

“WHARRGARBL!” Pinkie cut her off as she poured more sugar into her mouth. All of them glanced over to her, slightly disturbed. She stopped briefly and looked at all of them calmly. “I’m sorry you all had to see this,” she apologized before tipping the sugar bag back into her mouth and falling over with it onto the floor.

“A-hem!” Dash cleared her throat to pull the attention away from Pinkie. “So, because Rapidfire is… missing,” she wanted to say dead, but they never found him after the Shadowbolt compound fell, “they need to fill an elite squad spot,” she puffed her chest out, “To make it more interesting, they’re letting outsiders into the tryouts alongside already existing recruits! I’m a shoo-in for the elite spot,” she whisked her mane around, “but if I somehow don’t they’re gonna recruit any others that look good too!”

“Oh, and you’ll get to see your prince too.” Rarity batted her eyelashes with starry eyes. Dash had gotten used to Rarity trying to barge her way into her love life.

“Trust me, I’ve thought about that.” Dash smirked. “He’ll be busy, but he can’t escape me.” She said smugly while beating a hoof against her chest.

She was, indeed, beyond excited for Soarin as well. Why wouldn’t she be? This could be the chance to dissolve the long distance! At last, she could be near her stallion every day. She envied the hell out of Fluttershy and Applejack. They had their stallions in town. Fate was a twisted bitch. Dash and Soarin were by far the most into each other compared to the other two couples, yet they were forced apart. Just the mention of him suddenly gave Dash the urge to find him and pin him to his or her bed ASAP if she could.

His last visit during her farm work was long and awesome. They spent so much time together, she had never been happier! It was the longest she had ever gotten to be with him, and it destroyed her inside out even more than usual when he had to go. Now her heart was scratching and clawing for what she had to do to never be without him again. The tryouts gave her the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone: Become a Wonderbolt, and effectively be within reach of her love.

“That’s great!” Twilight smiled and glanced at her friends, but most of them suddenly looked sad. “Oh, but…” Twilight caught on. Dash sensed the change in the mood. They figured it out. Time for the hard part,

“Yeah,” Dash had thought about this. This is exactly why she gathered all of her friends together tonight at Sugar Cube Corner, “If I get selected, I might be moving away...,” she swallowed and looked away, “For a long time if I’m made a recruit, or for good if I’m selected for the elite spot,” her ears drooped. She wasn’t as prepared for this as she thought. This was her dream, but did you have to leave your friends behind to follow your dreams? They were gonna be okay without her, right?

“W-w-w-why t-t-t-the l-l-l-l-long f-f-f-f-faces?!” Pinkie appeared next to Dash, eyes almost wider than her face, and shaking all about due to sugar overload. “I-i-i-if i-i-i-i-I k-k-k-know—,” Dash rolled her eyes and slammed her hoof over Pinkie’s head, holding her steady, “Oh! Thanks! If I know Dashie, she’ll still be the bestest friend to all of us forever and will visit us as often as possible!” Pinkie finished as Dash felt her arm lose grip. Pinkie was sent into a fit of uncontrollable fast paced pronking and bounced right out the front door.

“She’s right,” Rarity smiled and gave Dash a hug. “We’re being selfish. This is very important to you! We’d be terrible friends if we didn’t show our support,” she turned and looked as Twilight and Fluttershy smiled. Applejack was still brooding. “Applejack!” Rarity snapped at her with a whisper. Applejack sighed and put on a fake smile.

“I’ll miss you so much Dashie,” Fluttershy hovered up and gave her a very big hug. Dash hugged her back and chuckled.

“I’m not leaving yet Fluttershy,” Dash squeezed her back lightly. “I still want to get in a few tune-up workouts in, but I promise, on my element of loyalty, that I’ll spend as much time as I can with all of you before I go,” she assured them.

They all flinched as a loud *POOM* came from a window nearby. They all turned to see Pinkie flat against the window with her face pressed to it. They cringed as she slowly slinked off the window, making an ear wrenching rubbing noise against the glass as she slid off. Dash chuckled and shook her head.

“Rest assured, I’m gonna miss all of you so bad. How could I ever forget the best, most fun friends in existence?”

Dash had a dream to follow. Sure, she'd have to leave her friends behind, but she'd be back. Ponyville would always be home. It was time to be awesome, and she had awesome friends who would always be there for her.

---To Be Continued---

Chapter 2: Magical Headaches

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Piercing the Heavens
By: Calm Wind

Chapter 2:

“Ah!” Soarin writhed in his bed, breathing heavily, and sweating bullets. “Ah! RGH! AHHH!!” he sat up straight, his eyes snapping open, only to meet the darkness of his room. His head was throbbing like crazy and his heart beat furiously in his chest. He reached his hoof over his heart and winced as he felt it pound endlessly. His other hoof went to his head as he fell back down to the bed and stared up at the ceiling.

Art by: mlplover789

“Dammit,” he cursed as he rubbed his forehead and took deep breaths. His heart calmed down a little, but his body was burning all over and the mattress and sheets were damp from his sweat. Forget it, he wasn’t falling asleep again. It was hard enough to fall asleep normally. The discomfort would make it impossible.

This was also the fifth night in a row. The fifth night he had the same mysterious nightmare and woke up as he had just moments ago. He was tired of this. His methods of getting sleep despite the inner power had all failed him now. It was also getting awkward bringing sweaty sheets to their laundry manager every day.

He groaned, grabbed his pillow, and stuffed it over his face to muffle a loud growl. If only Dash were with him. Her presence always calmed the dark magic raging within him. Of course he wanted her for other reasons too, but now more than ever, he wanted her for the calming effect. He loved her with all his heart, but her ability to ease the inner power made her even more special to him. She had become a need. His life had actually become hell without her on a physical level. He hoped she’d show up for the tryouts. Who was he kidding? He knew she was going to show. Dash missing something Wonderbolt related was unheard of. It would sooner snow in Saddle Arabia.

“Dash…” he spoke her name softly as he let the pillow roll off his face, “what’s happening to me Dash?” he kept talking as if she were there. More than anything else, he wanted her there for comfort. He wanted her close by so he could go to her, hold her in his arms, and feel at ease.

Every day since he had been restored from the brink of death, the grip the magic had on him seemed to tighten little by little. It was hard to notice at first, but as the days went on it became clear he was slowly losing all control of it. These past five nights had been a wakeup call, literally.

The repeating nightmare? It was identical to the strange vision he had whilst being pulled from the gates of hell:

Back when Celestia imbued him with the dark magic, he found himself stuck in a void of darkness, unable to move. Scraggily black extensions appeared from the dark, restrained him and pulled him in. Then Dash and Spitfire appeared in the vision. The two fought to keep him from being consumed. Spitfire and Dash’s voices reached him, bringing his motionless body to life, and with their help he was torn from the grip of the darkness. Then he awoke in the hospital, body restored, and Dash sleeping peacefully in the bed beside him.

It was a strange event indeed, and he never got to thank Celestia, in fact she disappeared right after. It did, however, lead to the first time he cuddled up with Dash. What exactly Celestia did to revive him, to this day he didn’t know.

This Nightmare he was having was the exact same vision. Yet there was one clear difference: nopony came to save him. He was pulled down into the void of nothing, his whole body searing with pain as if being burned and buried alive at the same time. Then he would wake up, and feel like he was having a heart attack.

He sighed heavily. He was done trying. This was no longer in his control. He feared something bad would surely happen if he kept waiting. He didn’t want to bother Luna, but Spitfire was right, he should have gone to see the princess a long time ago.

He looked at his clock. It read 3 AM. Whatever, he was going now.

He shifted to the side of the bed and took a deep breath as he set his hooves on the floor. He felt his way around the room until he found the door and left the darkness of his room. Forget how late/early it was, Luna was princess of the night. If she wasn’t up and about right now then she’d be slacking.

Dash’s alarm clock blared beside her bed. It barely sounded for two seconds before Dash’s hoof slammed over it and she sat upright, stretching her arms and wings out. She twisted her upper body side to side and cracked her neck loudly.

“Up and at ‘em!” she stretched her arms forward and scooted off the edge of the bed. She trotted around her bed and halted in front of her large mirror. She flexed once with a smirk. “Lookin’ awesome, and only gonna get more awesome!” she stated to her own reflection as she turned and slipped on a pile of towels and sheets that had been growing bigger by the day. She fell face first into the cloud floor. She pulled her face up and blinked. “Not so awesome,” she sighed and looked the pile over. “I should probably wash this stuff today,” she thought out loud. She stared at the pile for only another second before turning away. “Nah.”

She pranced down the stairs into her kitchen, reached up, and threw open a cabinet.

“Now should I have,” she rolled her eyes at the contents. It was stuffed full of boxes of oatmeal, “oatmeal, oatmeal, or oatmeal? I think I’ll go with oatmeal.” She said with a monotonous tone.

Dash had not forgotten Soarin’s advice about nutrition, but compared to everything else he did for her training-wise, it was the hardest thing to adapt to. She pulled open her fridge and pulled out a carton of egg whites and a jug of orange juice while balancing a small bowl full of berries on her nose. There wasn’t much else in the fridge. Because of how hard it was to get used to Soarin’s “super diet” she literally had to get rid of everything else to keep the temptation away. She purposely made it an “eat this or eat nothing” scenario.

She put two pans on the stove, one small, flat one for the eggs and the other for the oatmeal. Scrambled egg whites, oatmeal, mixed berries, and orange juice EVERY SINGLE MORNING. Apparently it was the breakfast of ace Wonderbolts. It sucked, but she was taking every step to be the best she could be, and this was only breakfast.

It was clearly helping though. It was crazy how much faster she built up strength, speed, and endurance after starting the diet. Her body had so much more energy to do anything. Soarin wasn’t just trying to make her miserable, he clearly knew his stuff.

She smiled as the egg whites simmered in the pan.


It was crazy how much he had changed her life. She thought back to how she used to be and cringed. Before him she was lazy, overconfident, and felt like the glory of a Wonderbolt would come to her. Okay, maybe she was still a tad overconfident at times, but confidence was part of her game. She wouldn’t be the awesome pony she was if she didn’t believe in herself and her abilities.

Anyway, she was thinking about Soarin, but her ego got in the way.

Yes. Soarin.

She sighed as she refocused on him. The eggs suddenly sizzled a little too much and a large bubble rose up off the pan. A loud POP caught her attention as a small smidge of EXTREMELY hot eggs sprang up from the pan and landed on her cheek.

“OO! AH! OW! OW! OW!” she instinctively turned off the burner before frantically rubbing the small bit of eggs off her face. “EEEEEYAIYAIYAI!!!!” she screeched as she galloped over to the sink, threw on the cold water and stuck her face beneath the stream. After a few seconds, she pulled her head out of the sink and sighed in relief. “Fricken smooth Dash…” She cringed as she felt her cheek, the spot was tender, but it didn’t feel burnt. At worst she probably would have a small mark that was slightly bluer than the rest of her face.

Then she heard another simmering noise: the oatmeal. She whipped her head around just in time to see it boil over the top and spill down the sides of the pan.

“Crap!” she yelled as she glided over and shut off the heat. She groaned in frustration as she slammed the pan cover over it. Not much had escaped, but now she had quite a mess to clean up. This was, admittedly, not the first incident she had while trying to make breakfast. In fact it was one of many. She could mimic ace Wonderbolt techniques and fight off magically imbued mercenaries, but the kitchen was a whole different world that she had barely set hoof into. At least nopony bore witness to her struggles. This was something she could keep to herself.

“HIYA RAINBOW DASH!” a familiar voice made Dash freeze. So much for that. But wait a second…

“Scoots?” Dash glanced towards the hallways exiting the kitchen. Standing right there in her cloud house, smiling as wide as she possibly could, was Scootaloo. Dash just stared, blinking. Was she dreaming? Actually, that would be preferred. That meant she could wake up and redo breakfast without the slip ups. Scootaloo stopped smiling and tipped her head to the side.

“You okay Dash?” she asked. Dash wasn’t dreaming. She looked around, her eyes landing on the kitchen window. She galloped over to it and threw it open, taking a good look outside. The early autumn breeze met her face as she peered out. No, her cloud house wasn’t any closer to the ground than it was yesterday. That meant—

“Scoots,” Dash turned and looked at her little friend in disbelief, “Did you…” she paused as Scootaloo’s smile returned and she spread her wings, which were not so little anymore.

“I flew up here!” she beamed, “It was hard, but I made it up!”

“SCOOTS!” Dash rushed forward, picked up Scootaloo and hugged her tightly. Scootaloo couldn’t get much happier. “That’s awesome!” Dash exclaimed as she set Scootaloo down. “I can’t believe how fast you got it down!” Scootaloo blushed and smiled.

“Hey, if you're gonna work super hard, I ain’t gonna be a slacker,” she said in a tone that was very similar to Dash. Dash lifted an eyebrow and smirked.

“You talk tough kid,” Dash ruffled Scootaloo’s mane with her wing, “Keep talking tough.” She added with a wink.

Wow. Speaking of lives Soarin had changed, here was another one. Scootaloo went from being condemned to a flightless life, to almost achieving full flight. How long did it take? A little less than a year? Like Dash had thought just prior, Soarin really knew his stuff.

“Wait,” Dash realized something else. She looked over at the wall clock. “Scoot’s its 5:30 in the morning, what are you doing up so early?” she asked with a sarcastically stern tone. Scootaloo looked about while trying to find an answer.

“Heh heh, well I was kinda excited to show you. I didn’t sleep too well,” she admitted. Dash sighed and chuckled.

“Well kid, it’s not the best, but you’re here just in time. Want some breakfast?” She offered.

“YOU made breakfast?” Scootaloo looked in disbelief. Dash flinched, but luckily Scootaloo’s surprise was innocent, not insulting. “Wow! You can do anything!” She hopped up and down and fluttered her way across the room to the table. Dash smiled as she watched Scootaloo fly gently over. It was adorable to see it happen, to see a pegasus who had just learned to fly. Dash was sure Scootaloo wouldn’t use her legs for weeks. It’s exactly what Dash did as a filly, the first feeling of flight was pure euphoria and she never wanted to land.

She would find a way. She would find a way to get Scootaloo to Soarin. Soarin typically denounced himself as not being very special. Scootaloo would be Dash’s bargaining chip to prove him wrong about that once and for all. He’d still deny it, because he was stubborn, but he still deserved to see it. He deserved to see the lives he had touched.

Seriously, who has business at this hour? Soarin thought as he paced back and forth in the hall behind the throne room. He’d been waiting for an hour now, fighting off headaches and cursing to himself as the bat guards continued to bar his path into the throne room.

She had five more minutes. If she didn’t get her lunar plot out of whatever was keeping her occupied, he’d storm right back through the palace-to-compound tunnel and make the morning hell for every single fellow Wonderbolt that looked at him funny.

The one downside of Rapidfire being gone: he had nopony to direct anger and annoyance towards. Soarin actually missed that.

He jumped as the doors cracked open and a bat guard stuck his head out.

“The Princess will see you now.” The guard spoke in a monotone.

“About damn time!” Soarin trotted towards the door, but stopped in his tracks when the guard glared daggers at him.

“Right. This. Way.” The bat pony growled at him. That was new. Then again Soarin had never really interacted with Luna’s bat guards before. He was used to the stoic, statues of Celestia’s guard during the day. The bat guards were certainly less stiff, but apparently more emotionally protective of their princess. That or because it was nearly dawn. Maybe this one was just cranky from a long shift. Soarin lurched slightly as the bat pony pushed him in. “Mind your manners with the princess,” he snarled before letting Soarin go on.

“Sheesh, shove the stick a little farther up your—,” he said under his breath as he made his way around the throne. His blinked as he caught glimpse of something leaving the throne room through the main entrance. Three ponies disappeared through the doors as soon as he came around the corner. He didn’t have time to make out color, gender, or type of pony, but Luna DID have business at this hour. He wondered who it could’ve been.

“Welcome, Soarin of the Wonderbolts,” Luna addressed him from the throne. Soarin looked to her, then briefly back at the doors before forgetting about it. Forget whatever Luna was up to, he had his own problems to worry about.

“Sorry about the short notice, I hope I didn’t interrupt anything,” Soarin addressed politely while still receiving the stink-eye from a few of her guards.

“Your timing was sudden, but we are inclined to meet with all of our subjects,” Luna nodded. “What brings thee to us?” she questioned. Soarin thought for a moment on how to word it. He was aware the topic of Celestia was currently a… strange one, for lack of a better word. He had no idea where Celestia was or what had happened to her, and Luna was always put off upon it being mentioned, but he had no choice here.

“I need to ask you something,” he paused as he averted his eyes for a moment. “It has to do with… how Celestia saved my life,” he braced himself. Luna’s expression immediately flattened. He called it. Luna took a deep breath, held it in, and slowly exhaled with a hint of annoyance escaping from the back of her throat.

“Very well,” Luna glared straight forward, but not directly at Soarin.

“What kind of magic did she use on me exactly?” he posed his question. Luna hesitated to answer. “Princess, this is my body we’re talking about. I think I deserve to know,” Soarin pressed as he picked up on her mannerisms. Luna shook her head and let her ears droop.

“It was an illegal forbidden magic,” she began. She glanced to see Soarin’s reaction. He was already surprised and it was only going to get worse. “Our sister claimed to have a vision of a conflict in the future in which you were present. It’s a long story, but our sister has recently predicted all of the major catastrophes in Equestria. Each one was ignored as one would a bad dream. She was determined not to ignore this one, and vowed to have all the pieces of her vision intact. When she heard of your unfortunate incident, and your sure demise, she refused to let it happen,” Luna sighed as Soarin sat down to keep listening. He was curious about this so-called “future incident,” but that could wait. “So she broke the seal on an old necromancy created by the mad king Sombra, and used it to restore you.”

“WHOA WHOA!” Soarin sharply stood up and his jaw dropped. “Hold on a second! My magic terminology is kinda iffy, but I’ve seen plenty of horror movies! Isn’t… necromancy…” he trailed off.

“Using thine own life force to reanimate the dead,” Luna put plainly.

Soarin choked on his own breath. No. It couldn’t be.

“Does that mean… I’m… dead?” he looked himself over frantically. Luna shook her head.

“No, thou art still of this world, just… being supported. If Celestia had not used the magic, you would have perished,” she explained and trailed off slightly. Soarin caught on.

“The way you said that suggests there’s more to it,” he kept feeling himself over despite being told he was indeed alive. Luna stood from her throne and paced away from it while shaking her head some more.

“The magic requires so much life force to cast, that it almost killed King Sombra himself,” she turned sharply back to Soarin. “It was made forbidden by him, not by my sister,” she made the point very clear. A magic made forbidden by an insane king? This just kept getting better and better.

“Wait,” realization hit Soarin in the face, “Celestia used it on me… she hasn’t been around…” Soarin’s eyes widened.

“NO!” Luna stomped, breaking his thought. “Our sister is alive! Do not think such horrible things!” she snapped harshly. The windows shook as her voice boomed throughout the throne room. Soarin was almost knocked over by the force. “Sorry,” she put a hoof over her mouth and quieted down, “our sister is merely… recovering,” she put shakily, “Do not worry yourself on the matter. Now, I’m sure there is more you wish to say.”

“Sheesh,” Soarin sat back down. Great. Just great. He came here hoping for a solution, but it seemed like he was stuck with it, “Well…” he began again while rubbing his head. He described to her the way the dark power seemed to leap from him randomly, about his lack of sleep, about how Dash had an effect on it, and how he had been having headaches recently that have only been getting stronger and stronger.

Luna seemed to react slightly when he mentioned the headaches.

“Headaches?” she thought out loud. Soarin watched as she seemed to ponder it.

“What? Can you tell me anything?” he got up and took a few steps towards her.

“We have… a theory.” she rubbed her chin. Soarin waited patiently for her to say more, but she took her sweet time thinking about it. He quickly lost his patience.

“What theory? Tell me! Tell me something! Anything!” he flinched when she pointed a hoof at him.

“A MOMENT!” she snapped. He sat back down and shut his mouth. She turned away from him and walked a circle around the throne while pondering something. Soarin followed her with his eyes, letting her think, and quickly becoming irritated. One problem he always had with Luna was her long way of doing just about everything. Celestia was always very quick and decisive. They were both apparently thousands of years old, but Celestia clearly had more executive experience.

She finally turned back to him.

“We apologize, this is more of our sister’s expertise,” she began.

“Coulda told you that,” Soarin whispered to himself. Luckily for him, she didn’t hear.

“Let us take a look at you for a moment. Hold still,” she commanded as magic began to glow around her horn.

“Oh jeez,” Soarin stiffened. Sure Luna was only examining him, but after all he just heard? He was a little iffy about letting alicorns near him with all their crazy powerful magic.

The glow around Luna’s horn shone brightly. She opened her eyes, light emitting from them as well. Soarin remained completely still as a small square of blue light appeared above him. It slowly descended, passing down through him. Once it touched the ground, it slowly moved back up.

“Hmm…” Luna’s face scrunched as the light repeated the motion three more times, “we see…” her magic faded and she huffed.

“I don’t like that look,” Soarin’s ears flattened. Luna shook her head.

“No, we believe we know what’s wrong,” she admitted, yet didn’t seem to enthused, “In all of the ancient scrolls we deciphered about this particular magic, none ever mentioned the effect on—,” she tipped her head to the side, “a pony that was not dead. It’s having an interesting effect,” she started walking around the throne again. Soarin grinded his teeth together.

LUNA,” He growled. She paused and glared at him.

“You are most impatient,” she snorted.

“Forgive me for being eager, I only want to know what’s happening. You know, with all the crazy dark magic your sister decided to pump into me!” he stared flatly at her. Luna flared her wings out.

“WHAT OUR SISTER DID WAS TO SAVE THY LIFE! DO NOT SPEAK LIGHTLY OF IT!” the royal Canterlot voice completely blew him onto his back. Soarin quickly rolled back up, but was surprised to see her sitting, facing away from him, “This is a very interesting and unique case we have on our hooves,” she turned her neck to look at him, “but it is also simpler than you might imagine.” She turned back and let her shoulders droop.

Soarin got to his hooves and approached her. He made a mental note not to bring up Celestia anymore. Luna was already having a hard time in the leader role, the subject of Celestia only seemed to stress her out. As he approached, Luna stood back up and faced him.

“Thy body is now imbued with magic… the same way a unicorn’s is naturally,” she nodded. Soarin blinked,

“But I’m—,”

“A pegasus, yes,” Luna looked him over. “You said the headaches hurt the most where?” She questioned. Soarin put a hoof to his head and rubbed around.

“Around the sides a bit,” he moved his hoof to the middle of his forehead, “but mostly right here in the middle.”

“Then we are correct,” Luna sighed and looked up at her horn, “A unicorn uses magic through its horn. The horn acts as a canal for the magic to be channeled and flow freely when the unicorn sees fit,” she pointed at his forehead, “however, you have no such canal. Your magic is literally stuck within you.”

“Oh great,” Soarin rolled his eyes, but he was also curious, “But hold on a sec, I’ve seen unicorns go for days without using magic. Why is it painful for me?” he pointed out.

“The magic stuck within you was devised by a unicorn with frightening power. We must admit we are surprised it has not completely torn you apart. You should have come to us sooner,” she scolded him. Just like Spitfire had said. He just couldn’t catch a break, could he?

“So now what?” Soarin shrugged, not really seeing any avenue of escape from the power. Luna closed her eyes.

“We are afraid that if you do not learn how to control what lies within you, it will surely consume you in a matter of months.”

Boy, that sure was encouraging. Soarin just stared in disbelief. Consume him? What the hell? He came here hoping to get some pain relievers or something, and now he was gonna get eaten from inside out? If that was gonna happen he was sure he’d almost feel better not knowing! Also, controlling magic? A pegasus?

“Luna, are you forgetting something?” he tapped his forehead, “How am I supposed to control magic without a horn?”

Luna flinched and averted her eyes. She suddenly looked very uncomfortable.

“Luna?” Soarin lifted an eyebrow. She almost looked embarrassed. In fact a small blush had appeared on her face.

Suddenly something came flying down from the ceiling and landed right on Luna’s back.

“OOF!” She grunted as she was forced to the floor. Soarin leapt back and set his hooves hard into the floor. All the bat guards jumped in surprise and stood ready, but—

“YEEHAW! RIDE ‘EM COWBOY!” It was Discord. Luna quickly stood up with Discord still on her back. She frantically looked herself over. She now had a harness with reigns and a saddle on her back. She growled and glared up at Discord, who wore a leather vest and ten gallon hat. Soarin blinked and relaxed, but the five bat guards all charged at him. Discord snapped his fingers as they approached. Strings appeared around one hoof on each of them. They all spontaneously inflated like balloons and dangled above Discord by the strings. “Really Lulu, your guards need to relax. Celestia’s guard doesn’t even try with me,” he tugged on the strings in his paw, bouncing the bloated guards up and down as they flailed and squeaked in confusion.

“Mmmph! MMPH!” Luna tried to yell at him, but the harness kept her mouth clamped shut.

“Oh, my mistake,” he snapped his fingers. The harness and saddle disappeared. He stood beside her free of his vest and hat. The guards all deflated and fell into a disoriented pile. They quickly untangled themselves and readied to make another run at him.

“STOP!” Luna ordered. They all halted and looked to her, “Don’t even try. Save thyselves the humiliation,” she admitted. Discord clapped while chuckling.

“Bravo Lulu! You’ve finally learned,” he draped his arm over her neck.

DON’T. TOUCH. US.” She snapped. He pulled his arm back.

“Oh ye of little fun allowed,” he mocked her as stepped back and crossed his arms, “Well, go on, I believe you were about to tell him about… it,” Discord snickered. Luna held her breath, puffing her cheeks.

“Um…” Luna bit her bottom lip and shut her eyes tight.

“Time’s up!” Discord snapped his fingers. Luna disappeared and reappeared in the corner of the throne room, sitting on a stool with a dunce hat on her head, and a large, rainbow swirl lollipop wrapped to her hoof with duct tape. Discord put himself in between Soarin and Luna as she tried to shake the lollipop off her arm. “Well then!” Soarin blinked and he was suddenly strapped to a diagonal table. Discord stood beside him wearing a white doctor’s coat.

“Hey!” Soarin struggled, but could not move.

“Let’s see how the old ticker is doing, shall we?” he put on a stethoscope and placed the chestpiece over Soarin’s heart. A hoof extended out of the right eartip and punched Discord square across the jaw. “Oo! That’s a new one!” He said with his jaw stuck three inches out of place. Everything disappeared and Soarin fell back first onto the ground. Discord reclined in mid-air above him. Soarin looked over to see Luna standing up on her hooves, but now freaking out because the stool was stuck to her plot.

“Seriously, how the hell does Celestia put up with you?!” Soarin flattened his ears and brow, “I’m pissed enough as is!” He snarled. Discord sighed and rolled over as if laying on an invisible couch.

“I honestly don’t know how she puts up with all of you,” he waved his paw in the air, “Fine.” He snapped his fingers. Luna was back beside him. She blinked and looked about before realizing she was right back where she started, “let me help Lulu a little with this,” He poked Soarin in the forehead, “You are not the first non-unicorn to be graced with the gift of magic.”

“I’d hardly call this a gift…” Soarin commented.

“Oh you may find it yet,” Discord winked before doing a loop in the air and slithering behind Luna, “I believe the last one was a good three thousand years ago! Quite a gifted earth pony, I’m sure Celestia would recall her well. The catch, is that the lovely princesses here—” he grabbed and pulled on Luna’s cheek. She rolled her eyes, letting him do it, knowing it was unwise to fight back, “—has a certain old device that can help you control the magic,” Luna shut her eyes and shook her head as he brought it up.

That was three times now. Soarin was so confused, what was it about this “device” that had the princess all flustered?

“Well Lulu?” Discord continued to sneer and snicker.

“We… um…” she stuttered.

“Pff, must I do everything around here?” Discord held up his paw. After a dim flash of light, something appeared in his hand. Soarin blinked and eyed the simple object floating above Discord’s claws. It looked like a unicorn horn made of plastic. At least he thought it was plastic. It had a long leather strap attached to it with a small gold buckle.

“A… false horn?” Soarin guessed as he looked it over.

“Yes, but that’s not what it’s called,” Discord bit his bottom lip and smiled mischievously, “is it, Lulu?” He elbowed her in the side as she scrunched her face.

“Keep in mind,” Luna began hesitantly, “This device has been around for thousands and thousands of years… it was named during ancient times. We cannot go back and change thousands of year’s worth of scriptures. Its name… is quite inappropriate in this day and age.” Luna kept dodging it.

“Lulu,” Discord pressed his face against hers, “Just say it,” he said flatly. Luna took a deep breath and sighed.

“It’s called a Strap-On,” she said quietly while blushing uncomfortably. Soarin’s left eye twitched.


---To be Continued---

Chapter 3: A WHAT-NOW?!

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Piercing the Heavens
By: Calm Wind

Chapter 3:

“Scoots, you don’t have to eat it, I know it’s not good,” Dash chuckled as she watched Scootaloo choke down the eggs and oatmeal. She swallowed and cringed before pounding a hoof against her chest and smirking.

“You said this was a super diet, right?” she nodded, “If it makes me like you, I’m gonna eat it!” she proclaimed while stuffing her face with more oatmeal.

“It’s important, but ya gotta work for it too,” Dash ruffled Scootaloo’s mane, “but I think you have that part down,” she said while eying Scootaloo’s new wings. Scootaloo cringed again. She clearly didn’t like it, but she was a determined little filly.

“Where did you get this diet stuff anyway?” she looked up at Dash.

“You have one guess,” Dash winked, knowing that would answer it. Scootaloo smiled and extended her wings.

“Mr. Sorewings?” she flapped her wings happily.

“Bull’s eye,” Dash pounded her hooves together. Scootaloo bounced up and down in her seat.

“He’s so cool!” she exclaimed, “Not as cool as you obviously, but wow he’s awesome!”

“Yeah,” Dash leaned back in her chair as Scootaloo expressed her liking for the incognito Soarin.

“I wish I could see him again,” Scootaloo suddenly said. She folded up her wings and sighed, “I wanna thank him so much,” she had missed him completely during his most recent visit. Dash felt bad about that too. She was so blown away by Soarin’s surprise visit that she completely forgot to tell Scootaloo. He was there for almost a month and they never crossed paths with Scoots. She, Sweetie Belle, and Apple Bloom were on a rampage with their cutie mark searching all of those days, but Dash still felt bad about forgetting.

Dash began contemplating. Why keep it from her anymore? Well, it risked making Scootaloo think Soarin was more awesome than her, but whatever. He had done a lot for Scootaloo and she didn’t even know who he really was. She deserved to know it was a great stallion that helped her. Plus Dash was getting tired of always referring to him as “Sorewings” around Scootaloo. It was funny for a while, but she loved Soarin, why keep something like that from a filly she treated like a little sister?

“Hey Scoots,” Dash rested her arms on the table, “I think it’s time I shared something with you.” she said with a smile.

“Dash, I already know you and Mr. Sorewings are getting married,” Scoots instantly cut in. Dash’s face turned completely red and her wings fired out to her sides with a loud FWOOMP. Scootaloo burst out laughing and rolled off her chair onto the floor.

“HAHAHAHA! The look… on your face!” she clutched her sides and rolled from side to side on her back. Dash puffed her cheeks and quickly refolded her wings.

“Little smartass…” Dash said to herself with a chuckle, “Real funny Scoots, real funny,” she said as Scootaloo pulled herself back up to the chair, “You’re right about one thing, it is about Sorewings… or rather…” Dash paused.

“What about him?” Scootaloo tipped her head slightly and blinked. Dash smiled.

“Hold on a second,” Dash smiled and lifted off from the chair. She glided over to the stairs and disappeared. A few seconds later she came back down. She had a framed picture in one hoof, and a newspaper tucked under her other arm. “Here,” she held out the picture frame.

It was a picture of her and Soarin walking side by side, both glaring at each other while smiling. Pinkie had snapped the candid photo during Soarin’s last visit. The two were in the middle of trying to one up each other about their flight skills. It really captured the essence of their relationship: their competitive natures clashing, but also completing the other at the same time. The picture was so perfect that Dash had it framed.

“Now you remember Sorewings,” Dash began, “Take a good look.”

“Okay…” Scootaloo nodded.

“Now…” Dash set the picture on the table and grabbed the newspaper. She unfolded it and turned the front page towards Scootaloo. The headline read: “Wonderbolts debut new show in the skies of Ponyville!” It was the newspaper Dash received almost a full year ago that notified her of the Wonderbolts coming to Ponyville. Dash had kept it and cherished it because it was the beginning of a long winding story that changed her life forever.

The picture below the headline was one of Spitfire, Soarin, Fleetfoot, and Rapidfire flying in a staggered formation. Dash folded the newspaper back to condense the picture and put emphasis on Soarin. Then she held it beside the photo on the table.

“See it?” Dash grinned. Scootaloo just blinked as she looked back and forth. Then her eyes snapped open. She looked between the pictures faster, realizing the manes were identical as well as the small bit of light blue sticking out from Soarin’s uniform.

“OH,” Scootaloo scooted backward in her seat, “MY,” her wings flared out, “GOSH!” she shoved her hooves against the table, tipping her chair back. Her chair fell over and she rolled softly onto the cloud floor. “AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

“Life’s full of surprises, eh?” Dash chuckled as Scootaloo sat upright and put her hooves to her head.

“Soarin?! Mr. Sorewings is… THE Soarin?!?!” Scootaloo’s eyes darted about and her wings flapped giddily. “How… HOW DID I NOT RECOGNIZE HIM!?!?!?!” she squealed.

“He’s a real trickster,” Dash smirked. Scootaloo looked like her head was going to explode.

“Gosh, no wonder he knows so much cool stuff!” she glanced back at her wings and her pupils suddenly grew three sizes, “I got help from a famous pony!!!” she started bouncing in her spot.

“Yeah,” Dash sighed again, letting her mind wander. Such a great pony. Such a great stallion. Her thoughts were getting overly girly again, but whatever. She was a mare. She was allowed to internally swoon at least.

“Whoa, hold up,” Scootaloo stopped bouncing and stared at Dash, “That means…” she pointed at the photo on the table.

“Yes,” Dash said with a sheepish grin. She quickly replaced it by swishing her mane, smirking, and placing her hoof on her chest, “What can I say? If I’m gonna have a stallion, he better be awesome!” she winked at Scootaloo.

“Too much…” Scootaloo slowly keeled back over and landed on her back with her wings, arms, and legs spread out.

“Too much what?” Dash approached while chuckling.

“Too much awesome. Body shutting down. I can’t take it,” she squeaked. Dash flopped down on the floor beside her.



“I really, truly hope,” Dash looked turned her head to look at her, “that you find somepony like him someday,” she smiled.

“Psh,” Scootaloo scoffed, “I’m too young and cool for that stuff right now,” she sat up straight. She tried to whisk her mane over her shoulder like Dash always did, but it failed to fully flip. After two more failed attempts, she sharply blew air at her mane while flipping it to fully boost it over.

“Needs work kid,” Dash chuckled as she sat up and smoothly flipped her mane over her shoulder. Scootaloo giggled as Dash placed a hoof on her shoulder, “I’m serious though Scoots, I hope you find someone like him. I don’t necessarily mean a love interest. It could be stallion, mare, or whatever. I just hope you know someone that can push you to be the best you can be no matter where you are or what you end up doing in your life. Soarin is that pony for me. I hope you find one too.”

“Dash, I’m looking at her,” Scootaloo crossed her hooves glared with a smile. Dash blinked. “Why do you think I worked so hard to fly? Sure Sorewi— Soarin showed me how to do all that stuff, but you’re still my motivation!” She smiled happily. Dash didn’t know what to say. Well, she knew Scootaloo looked up to her, but her motivation? Dash had no idea. “I wanna be just as awesome as you and I’m gonna do whatever it takes to get there!” Scootaloo jabbed Dash in the arm lightly.

Dash just stared. Her? Motivational? She hadn’t even given it a thought. She had spent so much time being motivated by Soarin and the Wonderbolts she hadn’t even thought about what her efforts might be doing for others around her. Scootaloo’s words just now? Confidence boost off the charts.

“It’s Saturday, right?” Dash looked around, but there was no calendar in the kitchen.

“Yep! No school!” Scootaloo cheered. Dash smiled and ruffled her mane.

“I’m touched Scoots, I really am,” she stood up sharply, spread her wings and crouched down to get face to face with Scootaloo, “You just earned a day of awesome training with the one and only Rainbow Dash! Think you can keep up kid?” Dash smirked. Scootaloo’s eyes grew.

“YES! You better bet I’m ready!” she barely gave it thought. It was an instant accept, “Just don’t slow me down!” Scootaloo fired back with a sneer.

“That’s the spirit! Let’s go!” Dash patted her on the back and the two sprinted towards the door. Dash was going to miss Scootaloo so much if she became a Wonderbolt. The little filly just had this way of always making her happy, as if she really were Dash’s little sister.

“Ha. Haha. Good one Discord,” Soarin pointed a hoof at him with a less than convinced expression. He looked back to Luna, “He made that up right? He made you say that. It’s just a bad joke… right?” he directed at Luna.

“Tis not,” she clarified while exhaling loudly through her nose.

“I must commend the ancients for planning this far ahead into the future to give me a good laugh!” Discord chuckled while tossing the fake horn up and down in his hand.

“I am NOT wearing something called a ‘strap-on!’” Soarin stomped his right hoof down and glared.

“Oh, I’m afraid it’s this or let the mean old magic monster inside you eat you up,” Discord slithered over and rested an elbow on Soarin’s back. “I’m more than certain you don’t want that.”

“What good will a phallic plastic costume piece do me?!” he growled while bucking his legs at Discord. Discord’s body bent to avoid it, keeping his elbow stationary.

“Tis not plastic,” Luna spoke up, “It’s made of an ancient enchanted stone that shares similar properties to porcelain,” she clarified.

“It shares many physical properties with a unicorn’s horn, the magic doesn’t know the difference,” Discord took over, “keeping the beast within at bay by tricking it… sounds like fun, wouldn’t you say?”

“Your definition of fun is twisted,” Soarin sighed as he eyed the horn. As humiliating as it felt, it would apparently help him. Besides, it’s not like any other pony had to know it was called a “strap-on.” After a bit of thought, it was a risk he was willing to take. He’d rather not be eaten alive by dark magic. “Fine, I’ll use it,” he sighed.

“I’m glad you agree,” Discord slithered behind him and loosened the straps, “Believe me, you’ll be happy you did,” Discord’s tone was surprisingly serious.

“As much as we hate to say it, we must agree with Discord,” Luna spoke up as Discord prepared it for Soarin’s head, “Should thou have been consumed, you would have most certainly begun rampaging. Dark magic is a dangerous entity. It fights who wields it for control at all times. As we said earlier, we are surprised thou has lasted this long.

“That’s a lovely thought,” Soarin thought out loud as he looked up.

“Now hold still, trust me, you don’t want me to miss,” Discord ordered. What did he mean by miss? Soarin didn’t want to know. He just did as he was told. You don’t argue with the god of chaos. Soarin watched as Discord slowly moved the base of the false horn towards Soarin’s forehead. He paused and looked at Luna, “Ready Lulu?” he suddenly said.

“Yes, we are.” Luna stood up and set her hooves. Soarin blinked. Ready? Ready for what?

Without warning, Discord slammed the base of the horn hard onto Soarin’s forehead.

Soarin felt his body completely stiffen. His body began to tingle all over. The tingling quickly turned to pricking, then stabbing pain.

“Ah! AHHH!!!!” Soarin cried out as his body shook. Discord quickly buckled the leather strap tight to the back of Soarin’s head. As soon as it was firmly attached, Discord pushed back and put ten feet between him and Soarin. Soarin felt his hooves leave the ground as dark blue sparks crackled and popped around him. His vision became blurry as a bright light shone from his eyes. What was happening? What was this sensation? This pain? It was foreign to him. His limbs twitched and jittered as bursts of blue light began to swirl around him. They all eventually concentrated near his head as if drawn up by the horn. The light got sucked into the horn, causing it to glow brightly.

“NOW!” Luna yelled. Her horn glowed brightly. On the other side, Discord reached his arms forward, a swirl of distorted energy surrounding his hands.

“AHH!” Soarin fell roughly to the ground, a huge bubble of magical energy encasing the false horn. Luna fired her magic from her horn with Discord releasing his simultaneously. The two magic beams expanded and created a dome over Soarin. Soarin’s neck strained and lurched as if his head was trying to rip free from his body. The dome created by the two gods fully expanded and hardened just in time.

The magic swirling from Soarin got sucked completely into the false horn, and fired from the point in a thick blast, it repelled off the magical dome and bounced violently all around him. After a few moments, the magic had run out of room and was about to hit Soarin.

Discord released his paw hand from his casting and snapped his fingers. Soarin teleported out of the dome and a large explosion was muffled within it. Soarin dropped to the ground beside Discord, still twitching with little crackles of blue light emitting all over his body.

“Job well done,” Discord nodded while brushing his hands together.

“WHAT THE HELL!?!?!?!” Soarin yelled out as he frantically struggled to his hooves. He looked up, the horn just in his field of view. He breathed heavily as he backed away from both of them, “What did you just DO to me?! What’s with you damn gods and completely messing with my life!?” The false horn began to crackle.

“You may want to…” Discord reached towards Soarin, but was too late.

“AH!” Soarin grunted as the magic collected in the horn and a blast of blue light fired from it. It careened through the air and exploded against one of the stained glass windows. It shattered with a loud CRASH, falling to pieces on the floor below. Discord cringed.

“Oooo… those are expensive,” he scratched his head. Luna quickly moved over to Soarin as the frightened Wonderbolt stared up at the window in horror, a faint blue glow still alight in his eyes. She knelt down and gently draped a wing over his back.

“Relax thineself. Breathe. Concentrate. Think of what calms you. Think of what you hold dear.” She whispered into his ear. Soarin didn’t know what to think. He was terrified. Gods were messing with his body, apparently he had just accidentally used destructive magic, and there was still a pricking pain all over. But Luna’s voice reached him. Her words registered as they slipped into his ears like those of a comforting mother.

As she said, he took slower, deeper breaths. He focused on the floor directly beneath him. Think of what calms him? Rainbow Dash. He wanted Dash. Where was Dash? Think of what he holds dear? Same thing. Dash. He wished she was there, she always comforted him, and she always made the dark magic relax. He wanted the pony he loved with all his heart. He felt like his life was being crushed, tampered with, and manipulated. Thoughts of Dash poured into his mind. He didn’t know who else, or what else to think of. He wanted her to save him from this crap.

“Yes. Good. Keep it up,” Luna spoke softly. Soarin felt the pain lessen. His body twitches mostly subsided, and his vision slowly returned to normal. Luna slowly removed her wing from his back and walked up before him.

“Ah… ahhh…” Soarin sputtered as he dared not move his body, “what… what have you done to me…?” he asked, no longer feeling the slightest bit normal.

“Do not fear, the sensation will calm down,” she reassured him, “You merely experienced your first magic resonance. All unicorns experience it as they mature. It’s when their magic becomes fully functional,” she tipped her head back and forth, “Although, it’s not quite as intense and is usually more gradual… and not associated with a forbidden and absurdly powerful magic, hence why we contained you in the dome.”

“It’s also a small repercussion of using the fake horn,” Discord appeared beside Luna. He leaned down with his elbow out. She glared at him, but realized he was just barely not touching her, “The horn makes it happen all at once because you didn’t have the luxury of growing up as a unicorn. Tell me, how did it feel to have your face slammed through the years of puberty all at once?” He chuckled.

“That’s… not funny.” Soarin grunted as he slowly moved his limbs, worried that a false move would trigger another uncontrollable magic reaction, “You… didn’t warn me?” he frowned.

“Would you have gone with it if we had told you?” Discord shrugged, “Either you went with it or we fight a dark magic imbued husk in the near future. There was little room for consent.”

Soarin felt like he had been duped. Then again, if they had told him it would have been excruciatingly painful, he’d have probably argued against it.

“But, what am I supposed to do now?” he looked up at the broken window. Bat guards were already moving in to clear away the shards of fallen glass while waving off others who had flown in to see what the explosion was. “I…” His body twitched and a couple of blue sparks popped around him, “I can’t go back like this! I’ll hurt somepony!”

“Do not worry, Soarin of the Wonderbolts,” Luna shook her head, “In a few moments your body will feel just as it had before. Once it does, the magic should remain calm with the… horn attached,” she nodded, “How does your head feel?” she asked.

“Oh,” Soarin had completely forgotten about the headaches, but that’s was just it. The pain in his head had faded. It was gone without a trace. He reached up and felt around his head, bumping into the horn a few times. This was weird, how did unicorns deal with this? “Actually, my head feels… perfectly fine,” he blinked. Ridiculous name and painful attachment sequence aside, the “strap-on” was doing everything Luna and Discord said it would. Perhaps he should have a little more faith. They were higher powers after all. Luna wouldn’t do something like this to him for amusement. Discord maybe, but he had just helped her with it. If Discord was HELPING prevent something it had to be serious.

“And you thought we were just pulling your leg,” Discord reached down and detached one of his own legs. He swung it around in the air as Luna rolled her eyes and stepped in front.

“Then it was attached successfully. We apologize for the discomfort, but now all should be well,” she assured him.

“You said something about controlling the magic,” Soarin questioned as his body randomly twitched, “I don’t feel very in control right now,” he said while stealing another glance at the shattered window.

“Your body is no doubt adjusting as we speak. It only takes one or two misfires for the body to figure out how to contain it. This may all be a tad confusing, but all unicorns experience it, you should be in no danger nor shall you pose any danger for your colleagues. Merely wear the horn for now and return to the compound. We suggest resting for a few days. Your body will eventually become accustomed to the new magical canal. We shall summon thee again when we are ready to teach the ways of controlling magic to thee,” Luna bowed her head. Soarin looked up at the horn strapped to his head and sighed.

“Thanks… I guess,” he shook his head.

“Art thou… alright?” Luna asked as he started walking. She herself thought it was a silly question. After everything that just happened to him he was clearly not alright. She only asked out of courtesy. Soarin nodded.

“Sorry, I AM thankful for the help… I just…” he sighed again, “I just feel like I no longer have control of my life… that’s all,” he said somberly as he slowly moved towards the doors.

What had he gotten himself into? Better yet, what were his fellow Wonderbolts going to think? Soarin suddenly shows up in the compound with a fake unicorn horn strapped to his head, what a weirdo! He braced himself mentally for the millions of times he was surely going to have to explain it. Better yet, Fleetfoot was going to give him hell for this. Spitfire probably wouldn’t give a damn and go right back to concentrating on her work. But Fleetfoot… he was never going to hear the end of it from her.

Discord watched as Soarin made his way behind the throne and left. He snorted, crossed his arms, and turned to Luna.

“Lulu, Lulu, Lulu… I’m disappointed in you!” he shook his head. Luna sat down and turned her head away.

“What dost thou mean?” she clumsily avoided the question. She blinked and Discord was directly in front of her face, upside down. She pulled her neck back, but as her head moved, Discord’s moved with it as if he was tethered to her.

“You didn’t tell him,” Discord put flatly. Luna caught on. There was something she kept from Soarin.

“He…” she closed her eyes, “he didn’t need to know,” she opened her eyes to find herself lying down on a psychiatrist bed. Discord sat on a stool beside her while jotting “notes” down.

“So let me get this straight,” he leafed through the pages of the notebook, “You made him wear an ancient practical joke, put him through the pain of amplified magical resonance, scared the feathers off of him, and didn’t tell him how much it’s gonna hurt when…” Discord put a finger to his forehead. Luna avoided eye contact. Discord shook his head and sneered, “My, my Luna, even for a guy like me, that’s cold!” he leaned down near her and bounced his eyebrows. Luna sighed and rolled off the bed.

“We could not bear it. Thou saw the fear already in his eyes. How could we frighten him further? He’s already in a position he should never be in!” she grinded her teeth, cursing her lack of ability to ease Soarin’s suffering.

“Oh Lulu, so young for being so old. Do you think your sister ruled all these eons without a step or two outside the lines?” he chuckled and slithered on the ground, weaving through her legs and rising to meet her face to face, “How much longer do you think you can play this all by the book?”

“Rgh…” she looked away. He hooked her chin with a claw and pulled her face back towards him.

“Sooner or later you’ll have to understand,” he flipped her chin up, “that sometimes we cannot merely follow the rules.”

“But!” she looked back down, but Discord was gone, “But…” she trailed off as she looked around for him, but he was nowhere to be found.

--- To be Continued ---

Chapter 4: Strong Dash and "Princess" Soarin?

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Piercing the Heavens
By: Calm Wind

Chapter 4:

Three… Four… Five… Dash counted in her head as she steadily pressed the barbell up again and again.

She and Scootaloo had a nice morning flight. Scootaloo couldn’t go too long without having to rest, but it gave Dash a chance to show her little fan a few speed drills. Now they were back in the cloud house, making good use of a surprise gift Soarin had given Dash during his last visit.

Dash remembered it well. It was the day before Spitfire and Fleetfoot stopped by again so they could all fly back to Canterlot together. It was strange at first. The whole night it felt like Soarin was stalling her. Every time she tried to drag him back to her house, he suggested something else and led her away. He was stalling her, buying enough time for a hired crew to stop by her house and set up something.

When they finally returned, Dash found her house had an extra extension of clouds on one side. Cloud houses weren’t very hard to build or add to. Unlike conventional board and nail architecture, it was a simple matter of professionally molding and shaping an enchanted cloud that was incapable of being dissipated or changed once set in place.

So she had a new room? Neat.

What was in the new room was the real surprise. Soarin led her in through a new door cut into the wall of her living room to reveal a complete home gym. Everything she would need to do strength training like the Wonderbolts. A bench with an attached barbell and plates, a rack of dumbbells, a stretching mat, and a few cable machines, a whole set of magically imbued equipment that would stay afloat on the cloud floors. The room was complete with a wall length mirror, a few Wonderbolt motivational posters, and a large framed and signed mug shot of Soarin smiling suavely for cameras at a recent news conference.

He claimed the picture was meant to be a joke, and she didn’t have to keep it there, but she kept it up anyway.

“Nothing motivates me more than your smug shit-faced grin,” she had said to him jokingly upon seeing it.

He also ended up giving her full, written up workout and matching diet plans to go with it. He had thought of everything all for her. Damn she loved him. He went out of his way to provide her with everything she would need to work hard, get stronger, and be the best she could be. Come time for Wonderbolt tryouts, she would be ready. Thanks to him, she’d be more than ready.

Then she pressed him to the bench and…

Dash realized she did twenty five warm-up reps when she was supposed to only do ten.

“Whoops, pay attention Dash,” she chuckled, blushing lightly as she remembered the night that followed his gift. She set the bar back into the rack and released her hooves from the hoof holds attached to the bar. Obviously a bar is pretty hard for a pony to grab. There were special circular caps welded to it that a pony could slide their hooves into. It kept the bar steady so Dash didn’t have to worry about it slipping and landing painfully on her stomach or neck. That would really suck.

She stood up from the bench and circled around to add weight to the bar. Something had become clear to her during her experiences with the Wonderbolts. It wasn’t just all about the wings. For the longest time throughout her life, she had lived by the belief that simply being fast and having lots of wing power was the essence of being the perfect flyer.

She sure was proved wrong quickly. The first indication she got was just how buff every Wonderbolt was, even when just the lead squad visited Ponyville. Soarin was obviously very big and muscular due to his role as a thrower and he could only pull off the Sonic Blast-off so easily because of his pure strength, but the others weren’t beanpoles either. Spitfire and Fleetfoot, while not quite as toned as Dash had recently become, both sported rather impressive bodies for mares. Rapidfire was in shape too, but screw that douche.

Having a strong, sturdy body was almost more essential than the wings. The Wonderbolts were able to perform complex maneuvers at extremely high speeds. Pitching and turning while under the intense pressure of wind resistance required ridiculous core strength. Then if one managed to hold strong under the pressure, they’d also have to sustain it. Strength and endurance: they were beyond important.

This was the answer Dash had been readily searching for in terms of the question: just how the hell could Soarin turn and maneuver so easily in tandem with using the Sonic Blast-off? Whenever she did it, she could barely shift from a straight line. Conclusion: Soarin was a beast. He was clearly the strongest Wonderbolt. Dash had seen multiple male Wonderbolts while she was last in the compound and none of them compared to him in terms of size or strength (or good looks). She saw him bench press over two hundred pounds multiple times in one set for crying out loud.

“Heh,” Dash chuckled to herself as she slid the weight plates onto the barbell. Two hundred pounds? Forget it. The most she had managed was a hundred twenty five, and she could barely do it once before having to put it down. At least she had made progress. She had effectively increased the amount of weight she could press by thirty pounds since she started. She most likely had the diet to thank for that. Soarin’s advice rang true: “Want a strong body? Better eat right along with the training.”

Another place a well-trained body would help her was in the combat department. Nightshade beat the tar out of her during the tornado incident. When they fought the Shadowbolts again, it was after a good three months of heavy work at Sweet Apple Acres. Dash found herself staying toe to toe and exchanging blows, especially when she fought Lightning Dust. Dust was quicker and landed so many punches, but Dash proved to be sturdier and shrugged each one of them off.

She had nearly forgotten that the Wonderbolts’ combat capabilities were technically secret. There was such a huge focus on it at the compound, but they were just stunt flyers to the general public. Dash planned to use this to her advantage. She’d be combat ready before the rest of the recruits even knew about it. All this extra training would make her shine.

She put one hundred pounds on the bar and laid back down to do another set. She counted in her head again as she made sure to keep good form. She got to eight and her right arm seemed to give out slightly. With an extra effort, she pushed the bar all the way up and set it back in the rack.

“Ow…” she winced as she shook her right hoof. It seemed like it was still a little tired from hoof wrestling Applejack. Whatever, it was minor, nothing she couldn’t deal with by just sucking it up. She rotated her arms to keep her chest muscles loose—

“HALP!” A voice came from nearby. Dash blinked. She was thinking so much about Soarin and the Wonderbolts that she had completely forgotten about Scootaloo. Dash turned to check on her.

“Pffff!” Dash snickered as she looked towards the mat. Scootaloo had managed to get a fifteen pound dumbbell off the rack, but somehow also managed to get pinned beneath it upon landing. She wasn’t being crushed or choked by it, but she was effectively stuck. Dash chuckled as she rose from the bench and trotted over.

“HAAAAALP!” Scootaloo repeated while kicking her back hooves and trying to push the dumbbell off. She got it to move an inch or so each try, but it fell right back down before she could get free. Dash reached her wing out and placed a few feathers on the handle.


“Try again, I’ll only help a little,” Dash explained, knowing Scootaloo would prefer doing it mostly herself. Scootaloo held her breath as she tried pushing again, “Whoa!” Dash stopped her, “You’ll blow your brain out of your ears like that. Take a deep breath and release it as you push,” she nodded with a small grin. Scootaloo did as she was told. She took a breath and exhaled as she pushed the dumbbell up and off of her, rolling it to the side.

“This is hard,” she said as she remained on her back, looking up at Dash upside down.


“I didn’t help you at all actually,” Dash said while briefly preening the wing feathers she had on the dumbbell.

“Huh?” Scootaloo looked over at the dumbbell. Dash chuckled.

“It makes a difference when you breathe,” she winked, “holding your breath makes it harder.”


“Okay, I’m definitely not imagining it. Scoots, do you keep hearing something?” Dash looked about the room. She stopped when her eyes fell on the doorway to the living room. There was a little yellow head with a pink mane peering around the wall. “Fluttershy?” Dash lifted an eyebrow.

“Um… Hi,” Fluttershy spoke up a little as Dash noticed her, “I’m not interrupting anything… am I?”

“Not at all, how long have you been there?” Dash asked, estimating she’d probably been standing there for at least five minutes.

“I’ve been here for an hour,” she admitted quietly while walking out from behind the wall and looking up at Dash.

“An hour?!” Dash stared at her in disbelief, “I’ve only been home for twenty minutes!” Dash couldn’t hold back a few chuckles, “You’ve been here the whole time? You’re like a ninja.”

“I was sitting on the couch, you walked by me twice,” she said while looking away. Something was definitely eating at her. Fluttershy was generally not rambunctious, but she looked a little sad.

“You just really blend in then,” Dash commented while trying to recall her surroundings just minutes ago. How did she miss Fluttershy right in her living room? She was a small pony but sheesh…

“I just, didn’t want to get in your way, you looked busy,” Fluttershy swayed back and forth while looking at the floor, “and I didn’t want to bother you during a workout,” she kept trying to justify her lack of assertiveness. Dash shook her head.

“Fluttershy, my home is your home, we’ve been over this. At least you made it into the house this time,” she smiled, recalling a time Fluttershy waited outside in the rain for half an hour before Dash realized she was at the door. “So what’s up? Why the long face?” Dash picked up on Fluttershy’s expression.

“Oh nothing,” Fluttershy looked up at Dash, “I just thought I’d… you know…spend some time with you,” she kept her sad expression as she explained herself.

“Fluttershy stop looking at me like that, I’m gonna start crying,” Dash joked while placing a hoof down on Fluttershy’s shoulder.

“I’m just sad you’re leaving soon, I know it’s a week away, but…” tears started welling up.

“Oh man, c’mere,” Dash quickly drew her into a hug, “I’m only gonna be in Canterlot, I won’t be too far.”

“I know, it’s just that you’ve always been there for me my whole life! I’m going to miss you so much,” Fluttershy held back the tears in an uncharacteristic show of resolve. “I’m happy for you… but I’m going to miss you.”

“Hey, now!” Dash put her at arm’s length. “I may be going, but you’ve got Mac to take care of you now! Be happy! But I’ll still visit as much as I can, so no tears okay?”

It was true. The two of them had been friends since they were young fillies. They even moved to Ponyville at the same time. Fluttershy really cared about her. The violent tackle and questioning when Dash disappeared after the royal ball was a clear indication.

“Okay,” Fluttershy smiled.

“HAAAAAAAAAALP!!!!” Scootaloo suddenly yelled from behind them. Dash turned around to see Scootaloo stuck beneath the dumbbell again.

“Dammit Scoots,” Dash mumbled with a smirk. She briefly turned to Fluttershy and patted her shoulder. “I gotta get back to my workout. I was supposed to do my next set like, five minutes ago.”

“Do you mind if I just, stick around? I want to spend as much time with you as I can,” Fluttershy asked.

“Like I said, you’re always welcome,” Dash answered as Fluttershy followed her into the room. Dash stopped by Scootaloo and this time just easily lifted the dumbbell off. “Take it easy Scoots, you’re gonna hurt yourself.”

“But I wanna be like you!” she huffed and crossed her arms as she sat up. Dash ruffled Scootaloo’s mane with her free hoof.

“Patience, young one. I didn’t get like this overnight,” Dash flexed her arm and gave Scootaloo a smile before turning towards Fluttershy, “Hey could you put this back for me?” she asked while holding the dumbbell towards her. It seemed like a logical request, seeing as how the dumbbell rack and bench were on opposite sides of the home gym.

“Oh, okay,” Fluttershy reached out. Dash handed her the dumbbell, and only realized just as she let go that it was probably a horrible idea, “EEP!” Fluttershy was instantly pulled to the ground by it. Dash winced as Fluttershy crashed softly against the mat.

“Seriously Fluttershy? It’s only fifteen pounds,” Dash lifted an eyebrow. Fluttershy was flat on the floor, stomach first. The dumbbell had bounced and was leaning against her right shoulder. She tried to move, but it was too heavy.

“Um… help?” she whimpered.

“You’re too delicate for your own good,” Dash sighed and shook her head. Maybe it would be a bad idea for her to leave Fluttershy behind. The poor tiny pony would break in two if a feather landed on her. She had Big Macintosh now though. If he couldn’t keep her from harm, nothing could. It was sad that she would be leaving her friends behind, but they were all finding new directions in their lives. Dash’s path just split off a little, they would never truly go separate ways. Never.


Soarin stepped into Spitfire’s office as Fleetfoot guffawed her lungs out. He flattened his brow, eyes, and mouth as he glanced at her angrily. She rolled back and forth on the ground, clutching her sides and kicking her back hooves up in the air. Soarin sighed and tried to ignore her. Spitfire sat behind her desk, eying him quizzically with one eyebrow lifted.

“Uh, do I want to know?” Spitfire asked while switching which eyebrow was up.

“Well—” Soarin tried to start, but…

“HAHAHA WHA… WHAT THE HELL… OH GOD, MY SIDES HURT AHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!” Fleetfoot rolled onto her stomach and flapped her wings while pounding a hoof on the floor.

“Is that a prop or something?” Spitfire asked while eyeing the horn and how it was fastened to Soarin’s head. “Nightmare Night isn’t until next month. How the hell did you buckle that strap with hooves?” Spitfire made small circular hoof motions in front of her as she contemplated it.

“No it’s not a prop, it’s—” he tried speaking again, but…

“I just… can’t…” Fleetfoot walked up to him while still engulfed in her own laughter.

“Fleet…” Soarin glared at her.

“Just when I thought you’d never surprise me again… ha ha ha! Seriously Soarin what the—” she reached up and tapped the horn with her hoof.

Art by Scootafail/Chiwee

Soarin felt a pang of discomfort shoot through his head, down his neck, and over his back all the way to the tip of his tail.

“Rgh! Fleet!” He growled. Suddenly he felt a strange sensation. It felt like every nerve in his body from his hooves to his ears was firing. The sensations condensed and seemed to gather in his forehead. The horn began to glow bright blue. “SHIT!” Soarin yelled as Fleetfoot’s eyes widened and she pulled away. Spitfire stood up from her desk sharply, rubbing her eyes to make sure she wasn’t seeing things. Soarin quickly crouched down and aimed the horn at the floor. He cupped his hooves over the tip and braced himself.

Luckily, the magic spasm was only a fraction as strong as the one that destroyed the window back in the palace. The magic discharged towards the floor at point blank. A loud POW sounded out, followed by a weak shockwave and small bits of blue light squeaking out between Soarin’s hooves. The wave pushed Fleetfoot and Spitfire back a few inches from where they stood. Stacks of papers on Spitfire’s desk blew into the air, the loose chairs in the office all shifted, and the potted plant beside the door fell over.

“Ahhh! Damn!” Soarin stood up quickly and shook his hooves as a small trail of steam rose from both them and the false horn. Fleetfoot’s jaw dropped.

“Holy shit…” she blinked. “That was real magic, wasn’t it?”

“What tipped you off?” Spitfire said sarcastically as she sighed at all the papers in a mess on the floor. She made her way around the desk and approached Soarin carefully. “Soarin, what in Equestria is going on?” she asked in concern as he blew on his hooves. He glared at Fleetfoot who kept her mouth shut. It wasn’t as much of a joke anymore.

“Do you want the long, confusing version? Or the short and blunt version?” Soarin rolled his eyes as he sat down and looked towards his longtime friend.

“I’d prefer the version that makes sense,” she pointed at Soarin’s head, “cause I’m pretty sure I just saw a pegasus use magic through a fake horn,” she stated.

“Okay,” Soarin tipped his head back and forth, “Apparently the dark magic Celestia used on me back in Ponyville should have killed me by now. When I went to see Luna, she and Discord slapped this false horn on me so the magic would have the means of being channeled. I’m gonna be summoned later for instructions on how to control the basic forms of magic,” he turned to Fleetfoot, “I was told it would remain under control for now, but apparently making me mad makes it react so I’d appreciate you not pushing it Fleet,” he tipped his head towards her and raised both his eyebrows. “Okay?”

“Yep,” she answered simply with her eyes still wide. Spitfire scrunched her face for a moment before shaking her head.

“That’s the version that makes sense?” she blinked as she thought it over. Soarin shrugged and sighed.

“I don’t get it either and I wish all this damn crap stopped happening to me,” he complained as he looked up to see the tip of the horn in his vision, “but I guess I have no say in it so I’m gonna have to be a pseudo alicorn for a while,” he shifted his eyes to Spitfire. “I was told to rest today too, I hope you don’t mind…”

“Fine,” Spitfire said with a deep breath and a hint of annoyance. Soarin caught on.

“Spitfire, you know this wasn’t my choice, right?” Soarin made it clear. Spitfire shook her head and looked at him sternly. He knew that look and knew exactly what was coming along with it.

“First of all Soarin,” she began as she leaned her side into her desk, “you picked a great time to have issues. If you had listened to me before and seen Luna earlier, you would’ve dealt with this off-season and not right before a major recruitment drive. Secondly,” she pushed off her desk and pointed at him, “you have my support in this situation as your best friend, but keep in mind that it’s my job as the lead captain of the Wonderbolts to keep active members in the lead squad. If you don’t get this figured out and under control, you WILL get replaced. It’s how our system works. It’s fair and it’s honest. I can’t let personal matters get in the way. Understand?” they stared at each other, Fleetfoot glancing between them without making a sound.

“Yes, ma’am,” Soarin replied professionally.

“Good, now go figure this stuff out, and please try not to blow any holes in the walls or through other Wonderbolts,” she nodded to him.

“I’ll… do my best,” Soarin’s voice was filled with very little confidence. Add one more thing to the list of stuff bothering him, possibility of losing his job he worked so hard for. It wasn’t his fault, not in the slightest, but Spitfire was handling this like a good captain should. She wouldn’t be the captain if she didn’t handle things sternly and without emotion guiding her decisions. Soarin turned to leave, but Spitfire trotted up and put a hoof on his shoulder.

“Soarin,” she said his name. He stopped and turned to look at her, but was surprised when she hugged him before he could fully turn.

“Spitfire?” he blinked and looked up at Fleetfoot, who still had her mouth clamped shut.

“Just know… that I’m here to help you, as your friend, not as your captain. The decisions I have to make do not change the fact that I care and that I’m worried about you,” she squeezed him tight. It was unexpected, but Soarin smiled. He was glad Spitfire made the simple gesture. He needed support right now. The one pony that could give him the most was out of his reach, but Spitfire always found a way to help him out no matter what.

“Thanks Spitfire, I URF!” he grunted as she jabbed him in the side and grinded her hoof against his body.

“Seriously though, it was that bad?” She released the embrace and looked him in the eye sternly, “Next time I tell you to get something checked, don’t be such a damn stallion. Your stubbornness could have gotten you killed. I don’t think Dash would like that very much either,” she winked, “Promise me?”

“When you put it that way, how could I deny?” he chuckled, referring to Dash. Spitfire rolled her eyes but smiled as he nodded. “I promise.”

“Now go rest your head… horn… thingy,” she struggled to find the right word. As Soarin turned, Fleetfoot began to snicker. Soarin stopped and turned to her with a flat expression.

“What?” he asked in annoyance. She shook her head and waved a hoof.

“Oh… nothing, nothing at allhhrrnkkkk,” she couldn’t keep it down and started giggling quietly. Spitfire lifted an eyebrow towards Fleetfoot.

“Real big help as always Fleet,” she shrugged. Soarin turned and faced Fleetfoot.

“What is it Fleet? Say it now while I’m in a better mood so I don’t blow up the compound,” he requested. She glanced up at the false horn, her lips wobbling as she tried to hold in the laughter. She couldn’t contain it. Soarin and Spitfire waited patiently, whilst both tapping a hoof on the floor, as Fleetfoot’s laughter rang through the office once more.

“Sorry!” she apologized while still shaking with giggles, “You have my support too Soarin… it’s just…” she looked up at the horn again, then to Spitfire, “Spitfire what do all the alicorns we know have in common?” she suddenly asked. Spitfire blinked and looked between Fleetfoot and Soarin.

“What do you—” Spitfire’s eyes widened. She flinched and quickly put a hoof to her mouth and puffed her cheeks, letting one snort go. Fleetfoot lost herself in a fit of giggles before doing a pirouette, throwing her wings out and extending her arms towards Soarin.

“Presenting! Princess Soarin!” she shouted at him with the goofiest smile imaginable plastered to her face. She keeled over, kicking all four hooves in the air as she lost herself in laughter again. Soarin stared dumbly at her with his ears and brow flattened and his mouth agape.

“You know, I should’ve seen that one coming,” he said with a grumble. Then he heard more snorting. He looked in disbelief towards Spitfire. She was clutching her stomach and had a hoof placed firmly over her mouth, but she was shaking and letting a few giggles escape. Spitfire. Giggling. Was it really that funny? “Seriously Spitfire? You too?” he said with a heavy sigh. “Thanks, I guess,” he shook his head and turned to leave.

“Oh, no!” Fleetfoot continued with a comically dramatic tone, "Our princess left the premise without her strap on!” Soarin froze hard, but Fleetfoot continued, “…horn!” She added with fits of uncontrollable laughter. She didn’t know that’s what it was really called, but came dangerously close to making him spill the beans. He quickly trotted out the door before she could go any further.

Spitfire watched him leave while still trying and failing to hold it in. She let go of her mouth and let the laughs out while getting up, stepping towards Fleetfoot, and roughly pushing her head down with a wing.

“DAMMIT FLEET! I was trying to be supportive!” she said while trying calm down.

“Aw, c’mon! That wasn’t too far!” Fleet giggled as she pushed free of Spitfire’s feathers.

“You always go too far Fleet,” Spitfire shook her head. “But seriously, how many more things can go weird for him? I know we’re busy, but if we get the chance, we should take him to Rusty’s or something…”

---To be Continued ---

Chapter 5: Fancy Training and Easing Troubles

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Piercing the Heavens
By: Calm Wind

Chapter 5:

“Now?!” Soarin gawked at the royal guard standing outside the door to his room. The guard nodded.

“Princess Luna requests your presence immediately for magic basics!” the guard repeated his orders.

“But…!” Soarin stopped himself and sighed exasperatedly. “Fine. I’ll head over in a moment,” he caved, remembering Spitfire’s concern the day before. No more putting things off. If Luna wanted to do this now, he’d do it now.

“See that you do,” the royal guard nodded before leaving.

“See that you do~” Soarin repeated quietly to himself in a heavily distorted imitation of the guard. “What’s worse, the stiff ass soldiers or the bite-your-face-off-if-you-breathe loonies?” he grumbled, comparing Celestia’s guards to Luna’s.

He was certainly NOT in the mood for this right now. It had been a long day. It was hard to “sleep” the night before. Soarin obviously hadn’t been getting much sleep period due to the dark magic, but he had ways to get a few hours. Unfortunately, the horn proved to make sleeping positions more awkward. He couldn’t let his face sink into the pillow because it would push against the horn. Pressure against the horn actually hurt, as if the magic channeling between it and him had created a fifth limb. The leather strap was also getting annoying. It was definitely going to leave a mark once he finally removed it. That is, if he ever did remove it. He had no idea what was going to happen going forward. He wished he could focus on being a Wonderbolt, and occasionally Dashie. Now he had to worry about this magic all the time. What a hassle, it was only getting in his way.

He had gone through his solo training routine for the day. He reviewed countless double takes, and if he was asked about it one more time he was going to stab whoever did through the heart with the horn. Last but not least, he had just returned from the mess hall and they had officially hit a new low. It was far and away the worst dinner they had ever prepared. Soarin didn’t even know what the main course was. It looked like quiche that had been left out in the sun for a hundred years.

Misty Fly was in front of him in line. When Soarin saw Misty try to scoop some of… it… out of the serving pan, the “food” stayed solid and the whole pan lifted out of the buffet with the spoon. Soarin quickly got out of line and got a deli sandwich instead for the first time in ages. How he managed to go the whole day without another accidental magic explosion was a mystery. He was being sure to keep his anger in check, but his patience had worn thin and then some.

Now Luna called him at seven thirty at night. He was just about to plop into his desk chair and relax. He would obey the calling of a royal, but if Discord was there…

“Rgh…” Soarin growled to himself as he made his way through the halls and towards the castle access tunnel. How bad of a mood does one have to be to consider fighting the god of chaos? Discord could really mess him up if he wanted. REALLY mess him up, but that’s just how much of a damn Soarin didn’t give at the moment.

He made his way into the castle, and after being confronted by the guards, he was allowed through the back door into the throne room.

“Soarin of the Wonderbolts has arrived milady,” a guard who jumped ahead of Soarin informed Luna.

“Most excellent,” Luna’s voice came from around the throne. Soarin trudged in, expecting to see Discord as well as he moved into the open. However, he was relieved to find that Discord was nowhere to be found. This made him feel a little better, but only a little. It was very likely Discord was still there, just not visually. He was known for that.

“Princess Luna,” Soarin greeted with a bow.

“Soarin of the Wonderbolts, we thank thee for answering our summons so quickly,” she stated from up on the throne. “How has the… relic been treating thee?” she avoided using the “technical” term for the false horn.

“I don’t know how you or unicorns live with it,” Soarin answered bluntly while looking up at the false horn. “It’s been getting in my way while eating and sleeping… it also almost got caught in a cable when I was in the gym. I had only one little mishap magic wise, but luckily it was small and nopony got hurt,” he explained fully. Luna kept nodding as he spoke.

“We have had our horn since birth. It is a part of us… In time we are sure thou will adjust to it,” Luna stated, inadvertently answering a question on Soarin’s mind. “In time.” Great, it sounded like he’d be wearing the damn thing for a while. “As for thy magic,” Luna spoke up again, “We hope after tonight, thou shall have finer control of it to avoid future hiccups.”

“You make it sound easy,” Soarin spoke out, “how am I supposed to just use something I’ve never understood?”

“We…” Luna paused and sighed. She stood up and walked down the steps of the throne. “Sadly, we do not possess the teaching expertise of our older sister,” she admitted shamefully. “If thou were but a colt, it would be easy. A young mind is easy to teach, for they develop as their magic develops. Since you are a fully grown stallion with a fully developed mind, trying to push a concept that was once impossible is beyond my skill. However we know of another pony who has some experience in this field.” She smiled as she sat beside Soarin, facing the main entrance to the throne room and pointed a hoof towards the doors. “See him in please,” she ordered the guards.

Soarin watched as the guards moved to the doors. A pony who could teach magic as well as Princess Celestia herself? Soarin had heard of Celestia’s wondrous magical education prowess. The last disciple she had apparently became the fourth alicorn princess. Whoever this pony was, he/she had to be quite something.

The doors to the throne room opened and revealed a pony that Soarin recognized. It was a very well dressed white unicorn stallion. He wore a black suit, had a well groomed blue mane, a small mustache at the end of his nose, and a monocle nestled in his right eye.

“Wait, isn’t that… Fancy Pants?!” Soarin blinked as Luna nodded beside him.

“Tis,” she replied with a smile.

There was no way Soarin couldn’t have recognized him. Fancy Pants was famous Equestria-wide. He was well known for being the most successful businessman in nearly all of history, very generous, open minded, and an expert in more fields than thought existed. Soarin had seen him multiple times at Canterlot Wonderbolt shows. Fancy had a personal penthouse box at Canterlot Stadium. He had also donated large sums of money to the Wonderbolts in the past. Apparently, he was good friends with Surprise’s father. Soarin was also sure 60% of the companies that sponsored their shows were owned by Fancy.

Fancy approached with a smile and immediately held out a hoof. Soarin had to reach down slightly. He had never seen Fancy Pants in person. Soarin was a little taller than him. It was hard for Soarin to picture such a big name stallion who had his face everywhere as being short, but here he was about half a head below Soarin’s height.

“Soarin! The famous, young Wonderbolt “Power Flyer” himself! It is an honor to finally make your acquaintance,” Fancy spoke very formally and confidently.

“Uh… likewise Fancy Pants,” Soarin answered shakily as they shook hooves. This was interesting. Soarin was famous himself, but not quite on the level of the stallion standing before him. He was seldom on the wowed end of a greeting.

“I’m quite a fan of yours, my boy!” Fancy smiled cheerfully. “The Wonderbolts have long been a great source of good business and even better entertainment. The amount of physical work that goes into honing your body and skills must be immeasurable, I’m truly impressed!” he kept showering Soarin with praise.

Impressed by him? Soarin felt it was a little lopsided. Fancy Pants had made more bits through honest means than the value of the entire royal Canterlot treasury and apparently Soarin was impressive?

“We can count on you Fancy of Pants?” Luna butchered his name. Fancy chuckled and bowed to Luna.

“Please m’lady. Just call me Fancy.” His demeanor and action reminded Soarin heavily of Fire Streak. Only unlike Fire, Fancy was much more in control of his formalities. “In fact,” Fancy motioned towards Soarin while still looking at Luna, “if you wish to observe, your highness, by all means. I learned these teaching techniques from your sister after all.”

“Ah!” Luna’s ear perked up. “If that is the case we would love to observe,” Luna’s eagerness was noticeable. Soarin couldn’t blame her. It was clear Luna was struggling with many of the duties usually handled by Celestia. He could only imagine the slight humiliation in having to rely on a unicorn to handle something she, as a princess, should be able to do. Although Fancy had a twinkle in his eye and a smirk on his face.

No way, did he know that’s how Luna felt? Did he pick up on her mannerisms in the minute he was in here? Soarin was thoroughly impressed. Not to mention Fancy also said he had learned teaching methods from Celestia. Everything about Fancy made him seem more than qualified to handle anything.

“Now then,” Fancy turned to Soarin and eyed the false horn, “I’m sorry to say that, while briefed on your situation, I have little knowledge of the strap-on,” he said without a single bit of hesitation. Soarin’s eye twitched but Fancy continued on as if he said absolutely nothing wrong. He remained perfectly professional. “However, I’ve been told it shares the same properties of the horns upon us unicorns, so hopefully the same rules apply towards conjuring magical energy,” He paced back and forth. “We also have one additional hurdle to jump over. You’re not a little colt,” he brought up Luna’s earlier concern, “it will be very difficult for you to grasp the concept of magic because you mind and body have developed through the years without it by your side.”

“Then what am I supposed to do?” Soarin shrugged and shook his head.

“That’s just it my boy!” Fancy turned sharply to him and winked. “First, you must do nothing!” Soarin just stared at him.

“Pardon?” Soarin lifted an eyebrow as Fancy chuckled.

“Have you ever meditated before?” Fancy asked.

“Meditating?” Soarin blinked. “Uh… no,” he answered truthfully.

“Well, the only way for us to open your mind towards magic is to first relax and clear your mind,” Fancy explained as Soarin mistook the explanation.

“Sounds an awful lot like brainwashing,” Soarin said with a snort. Fancy chuckled.

“You’re a tough nut to crack!” Fancy waved his hoof. “The best way to put it is sit down, relax, and let the magic within you flow all on its own. If the brain is less stimulated, the easier it will be for your magic to flow through your mind.”

This shit’s freakin bananas… Soarin thought to himself as he sat down. Clearing his mind? Letting the magic flow? This sounded like a sci-fi movie. Then again, after what happened months back with the Shadowbolts, not much would surprise him. It was kind of hard to forget watching a pony pump herself full of artificial energy and almost explode out of her own body.

Meditation? Fine. This all seemed dumb. If it were anypony else he would have given up by now. It’s because it was Fancy Pants. One does not simply ignore the advice of quite possibly the most interesting pony in Equestria.

Soarin did as he was told. He sat and did nothing. He closed his eyes and tried to relax his body as much as possible. He was pretty good at relaxing his limbs. He had to do it every time he performed the Sonic Blast-off after all.

At first absolutely nothing happened, as one would expect when they are told to do nothing. He was prepared to give up and call it all pointless, but then something did happen. About two minutes after he began, his body felt like it was tingling. Was he doing anything? No. He was sitting completely still. The tingling had covered his body from head to hoof, but seemed to be slightly more concentrated in his head.

Was it the magic? If it was, Fancy Pants knew exactly what he was talking about and Soarin would stop whining. The feeling had a certain… imprint to it. There was no other way for Soarin to describe the sensation. It was almost as if the magic was greeting him, and showing him how to call upon it. No words were spoken and no visual cues were given, but the magic made itself familiar.

“That’s it, my boy!” Fancy suddenly spoke again. “I can see it! Jolly good!”

“Huh?” Soarin opened his eyes. His concentration broke and the sensations faded, but he caught a brief glimpse of a light blue light fading from around him. “What?” he blinked.

“That was much faster than I’d imagined! Your magic came pouring out within minutes of relaxing!” Fancy looked overly excited. “To be expected from one of your skill, you are a fast learner!”

“Whoa, wait, but I didn’t do a thing!” Soarin held his hooves up to stave off the praise.

“That’s what you think!” Fancy winked. “My dear Soarin, relaxing the body and opening the mind is the first step of controlling magic,” he chuckled and nodded.

“You duped me?” Soarin lifted an eyebrow. “I know it worked, but…” he looked himself over, trying to figure out what exactly he had done.

“Ignorance is bliss, eh?” Fancy spoke up and walked up besides Soarin. “When unicorns first learn to control their magic, they are very young. The world is still very much a mystery to them. They are still in the dark about life as a whole; ignorant to what’s around them,” he tapped Soarin’s head with his hoof. “I told you to do something while leading you astray on what the effect would be. By doing so I emulated the feeling of being left in the dark. You had no idea what to do or what would happen, much like a unicorn colt would upon his first magic lesson. You cleared you mind, expecting to prepare yourself, when in reality it was the key to using magic all together.”

“Uh…” Soarin blinked. Fancy pointed to his own head.

“You felt it didn’t you? The magical imprint? It had no real trace or feeling, but you can recall how it flowed. Correct?” he asked.

“I… yes I did…” Soarin remembered. The sensation was so different than anything he had ever felt before, there was no way he could ever forget it. He remembered exactly how his body felt as the sensation welled up within him. He felt as if he could easily recall it… and do it again. “Like… this?” Soarin relaxed his body, calming every inch of himself to match perfectly how it felt before. The sensation returned instantly. He opened his eyes at the sound of a soft, high pitched hum that came from the false horn. It was glowing, the false horn was glowing. His surprise broke the concentration and the light faded as it had before.

“Just. Like. That.” Fancy nudged him with each word.

Soarin stared dumbly at Fancy Pants. Fancy had just tricked him into learning the basic control of magic. He turned and looked at Luna. Her eyes were wide with wonder. An ordinary unicorn had just wowed an alicorn goddess. That sold it. Soarin would listen to and follow everything Fancy Pants said. Ordinary? There was nothing ordinary about this unicorn.

“Now, we don’t have much time tonight, but I at least want to teach you the bare minimum that all unicorns know, no matter how well versed in magic they may be,” Fancy’s horn came to life and a small marble floated out of his suit pocket. “Levitation,” his magic placed the marble at Soarin’s hooves.

“Okay…” Soarin nodded as he eyed the marble.

“A large part of magic is visualization,” Fancy began again. “It’s a mixture of calling upon the magical sensations within you and visualizing what you wish to happen. In a way, think of it as making the impossible possible. You have to believe you can do something before your magic can make it happen. Then the amount of control you have over the magical sensations in your body dictates how well the belief is manifested. That is something that grows over the course of practice and time.” He motioned to Luna. “I’m sure you have borne witness to the incredible magical prowess of the princesses in the past. They use magic no different than ours, but they’ve had thousands upon thousands of years of experience, hence their ability to do what most of us cannot.”

“So in short,” Soarin rubbed his chin and locked his eyes on the marble, “I have to call on the sensations and believe I can move the marble into the air at the same time.”

“Precisely!” Fancy pointed sharply at Soarin. “Give it a go!”

Soarin swallowed and looked at the marble. He called upon the sensations and felt the tingles swirl around him again. Upon hearing the soft noise emit from the false horn he tried to switch his thoughts towards moving the pebble, but as soon as he did, the sensations stopped and the magic dissipated.

“Whoa… that’s harder than it sounds,” Soarin scrunched his mouth as he stared down at the marble.

“Indeed my boy,” Fancy tapped his hoof against his own horn. “This is why it will be difficult for you. It is not a matter of you being a pegasus, it is a matter of you being a fully matured pony,” Fancy’s magic came to life and lifted the marble with ease. “You have grown up and lived your whole life with your brain fully focusing itself on everything you do. Using magic requires you to figuratively cut your brain in half. You must be able to control the magic with one half while imagining what you wish to do with the other, and as you can see,” he made the marble fly rings around Soarin’s head and put his hoof up, “it comes naturally to one who has done it their whole life. Having created one disconnect makes it easy to form others, hence how I am able to conjure the magic, move the marble, make this hoof motion, and speak to you all at the same time,” he placed the marble back at Soarin’s hooves. “The disconnect is easy to establish when you are young and still growing. Since you are fully grown, it will be quite difficult to get this part down.”

“Yikes,” was the only response Soarin could muster. He would never look at a unicorn the same way again. He assumed magic came as easily to them as flying came to pegasi. He couldn’t have been more wrong.

“If you wish, we can let you dwell on it for a while and practice on your own,” Fancy suggested. “I’m not expecting this part to go as smoothly as—”

“No, let me try again,” Soarin waved his hoof before focusing on the marble again. Fancy smiled at his eagerness while flashing a grin to Luna.

Luna was pleased as well. Soarin showed little interest in learning to control the magic, which was problematic. If Soarin didn’t learn, the magic would consume him and most likely run rampant. This was the first time she had interacted with Fancy Pants. She could see now why her older sister placed so much faith in him. He was a unicorn of seemingly endless expertise. Most impressive.

Soarin tried. He tried, and he tried, and he tried, but the marble refused to move. After his fifth attempt, he dropped to his legs, panting. It felt like it was getting harder.

“Hm?” Fancy looked Soarin over curiously. Something wasn’t right, Soarin shouldn’t be as tired as he showed. Being a pegasus was not a factor in any of it. The only thing that could cause the fatigue was the magic, but… “Your highness,” Fancy turned to Luna.

“Yes?” Luna broke her eyes from Soarin and faced Fancy.

“What was the manner of the magic Princess Celestia imbued him with?” He asked. Luna bit her lip and glanced away.

“We suppose… you should be aware,” she sighed, “Soarin of the Wonderbolts was imbued by a powerful forbidden magic. It was the only way to save him,” she kept looking away from Fancy as if ashamed. Fancy nodded.

“That would explain the quick wear on his body. Thank you Princess,” he trotted up to Soarin.

“Damn!” Soarin cursed as he got the aura to appear around the marble, but it dissipated before it could move.

“Soarin,” Fancy walked up to him, “It has been brought to my attention the nature of the magic within you. Magic use can drain a pony over time, but from what I’ve seen, your magic is so powerful that it drains you very quickly,” Fancy explained sternly and seriously. “The strain should not be a risk to you, but I suggest, as a pony who has used magic for a long time, not to overexert it. Over time you may be able to withstand it for longer, but for now, let us call it a night,” he finished. Soarin simply nodded as Fancy spoke. He had learned quickly that this pony was very wise. Ignoring his advice didn’t seem like the smartest thing to do. However, Soarin wanted to try one more time.

“Just one more!” Soarin focused back on the marble. Fancy protested, but Soarin ignored. His competitive side had taken over. He wanted to make this damn marble move! He did all as he had before. He called the sensation, and this time he tried as hard as he could to multitask. He could do it. He could do it!

“Oh, my!” Fancy stepped back as Soarin’s horn shinned brightly and a larger light blue aura surrounded him. The magic appeared around the marble and it slowly and shakily rose up. “Dear me! You’ve got it!” Fancy cheered. Soarin squeaked one of his eyes open to see the marble barely up off the ground. He had it! He was holding something with magic! He—

“AH!” Soarin cringed as a sharp pain shot through his whole body. The marble shot upward violently, getting lodged into the stone ceiling overhead.

“Oh, wow…” Fancy adjusted his monocle as he realized the marble wasn’t coming back down, “That’s some strong resonance…” he looked towards Luna, who was staring up at the ceiling.

“At least he didn’t break a window this time,” she said as they both looked towards Soarin. He was sprawled out on the ground, breathing heavily.

“Heh… I got… it…” he said with a smile in between breaths. Fancy shrugged and smiled,

“Well then! I believe I have quite an interesting student on my hooves!” He beamed towards Luna. “He should rest now, we’ll continue another night.”

“We agree,” Luna smiled back while waving for the guards to come help Soarin.

Soarin’s head was hazy, but he felt some hooves helping him up to move. Well, he messed up something in the process. It felt like he did after the dark power took over multiple times in the past, worn out, and barely conscious. But he just used magic! He really, actually used magic through his own will. It was different from when he couldn’t control it. He had experienced something that no other pegasus ever had. It felt pretty cool.

Maybe this whole magic business wouldn’t be so bad. Besides the whole… strap-on thing.

“Alright! I heard the first time!” Dash yelled as an annoying knocking at her door refused to cease. She had just finished her “appetizing” breakfast and was in the middle of cleaning the dishes. Somepony really wanted her to answer the door. She wiped off her hooves and approached the door, ready to give the persistent knocker a piece of her mind. “WHAT?!” She barked as she opened the door.

“Sheesh, is that how you greet your friends too?”

“Huh?” Dash knew it wasn’t Fluttershy, she was barely capable of knocking at all. She didn’t know who it was going to be, but she wasn’t expecting… “Thunderlane?” she looked the black, silver maned pegasus up and down as he stood outside her door.

“Hey, what’s up?” Thunderlane said as if he came to her door all the time. Dash eyed him carefully then smirked.

“What, did you make Applejack angry again? Look she’s—”

“How about hello?” Thunderlane cut her off while folding his ears back. Dash stopped and sighed.

“Fine, hello, why are you on my property?” she asked flatly. Thunderlane rolled his eyes then forced a smile.

“Wanna come get breakfast?” he asked completely out of left field. Dash lifted an eyebrow at him as she fully stepped out from behind her door.

“Uh…” she wasn’t sure how to answer, “One, I already ate. Two, What did Applejack do?”

“This isn't about Applejack!” he fumed while arching his neck back. Dash chuckled.

“Okay, okay, what is it farm lover?” she teased as she asked.

“Look, just come with me okay? It’s fine that you already ate,” he turned and readied his wings, but Dash didn’t budge. He glanced back at her, but she just shook her head.

“I gotta schedule to keep, Thunderlane. Training and—”

“It actually has to do with that,” he cut her off again.

“Huh?” Dash was slightly curious.

“Look, just follow me alright? I told the others you’d be there,” he spilled a little info.

“Others? Who?” Dash questioned as she stepped out of her house and stretched her wings out. “Wait, you know I don’t get along with Flitter and Cloud Chaser,” she flattened her brow. Thunderlane shook his head.

“It’s not them. Just come on, you’ll see when we get there. Trust me,” he winked.

“If you say so…” she rolled her eyes, “but if you waste my time I’m leaving,” she made clear as they both took off.

She followed close behind Thunderlane as they glided through the air. Dash couldn’t help but wonder after his sharp reaction. She glided up beside him with a smirk.

“I don’t like that look. You’re gonna annoy me aren’t you,” he looked away with a sigh.

“Bet your ass,” Dash chuckled. “How are things with you and Applejack?” She paused to let him groan. “Every time I ask her she tries to punch me,” Dash added with a snide grin.

“We’re… fine,” Thunderlane dodged the question.

“Aw, c’mon,” Dash nudged him. “Why all the secrecy? It’s not like you two haven’t been seen around.”

“I’d just rather not talk about it. She’s just a little hesitant to show any sort of affection in public, and it’s getting to me a little,” he paused and rolled his eyes. “I just talked about it didn’t I?”

“Kinda, yes,” Dash smirked as she twisted her body and flew backwards in a reclined position. “Of course she’s hesitant. This is Applejack we’re talking about. If it makes her look like less of a hard-ass, she’s not gonna do it. Have you talked to her about it?”

“I have…” Thunderlane tipped his head back and forth, “but whenever we do, it ends with her yelling at me and storming off. We’re fine later, but she refuses to listen.”

“That’s a nice pair of relationship pants, she’s wearing, huh?” Dash sneered.

“Yeah, she’s… wait, WHAT?!” Thunderlane glared at Dash. Dash burst out laughing as she spun back around to fly normally.

“Listen Thunderlane,” she began as they pitched down, “you can’t back off when you want to prove a point to A.J. You’ve gotta stand your ground and push the subject, or else you won’t get through a whole sentence. Trust me, I’ve done it more times than I can count,” they landed outside the hayburger joint.

“I guess,” Thunderlane answered simply as he thought it over. Dash looked where they landed.

“Hayburgers? For breakfast?” Dash lifted an eyebrow.

“They have a breakfast menu here, you know,” Thunderlane chuckled. “Ah look, just in time!” He pointed back into the sky. Dash followed his hoof to see two more pegasi flying side by side. The first was unmistakable. White, blond buzzed mane, over pumped body, wait for it…

“YEEEAHHH!!!!!!!” Bulk Biceps yelled out as he waved at Thunderlane. The other pegasus came into view. She was hard to see at first, but as she drew near, Dash could make out a familiar, less than smooth flight pattern.

“Hiiii!!!” She yelled down. The goofy voice was also a clear sign as her grey body and straight yellow mane came into view.

“Bulk and Derpy?” Dash thought out loud as the two landed.

“Awesome! C’mon let’s get some food!” Thunderlane quickly beckoned them inside.

“YEAH! BURGERS!” Bulk squeezed his way through the door.

“Hi Rainbow Dash!” Derpy waved as the door closed and bumped into her. “Oops! Teehee!” She played it off and entered. Dash just blinked and shrugged. Talk about a motley crew. Oh well, apparently Dash was there for a reason. She’d go along with it.

Having just eaten, Dash merely asked for a cup for water. She walked over to the drink dispenser as Derpy bounced up beside her, holding her own cup. Dash put her cup under the water dispenser and pushed the button, filling it close to the brim. A strange noise that sounded like the machine was having a hernia screeched out beside Dash. She turned and looked to see Derpy smiling happily with a muffin wedged in the cup. Dash quickly looked between the drink dispenser and Derpy.

“Derpy, how did you get a muffin from the drink machine?” Dash asked in confusion. Derpy blinked, her eyes switching positions.

“Muffin button,” Derpy replied while she grinned at the muffin sticking out of her cup.


“NAM!” Derpy giddily bit into the muffin and floated over to a table. Dash just let it be, Derpy was happy, why try to figure it out?

Dash followed Derpy to the table. She was actually surprised. She never knew the local Hayburger served breakfast. Granted, it was probably not good for you, but there were a lot of ponies there. She scooted into the booth across from Derpy. Bulk and Thunderlane followed soon after. Thunderlane had an egg English muffin. Bulk had the same, only ten of them. Thunderlane sat beside Dash and Bulk nearly pressed Derpy to the wall as he sat down. Thunderlane quickly spotted the muffin Derpy was happily eating out of a twenty ounce cup.

“Huh?” Thunderlane looked back at the menu, then to Derpy. “They don’t sell muffins here, Derpy how did—”

“Muffin button!” She repeated for Thunderlane.


MUFFIN BUTTON, YEAH!” Bulk yelled out, blowing back Thunderlane’s and Dash’s manes.

“Yay, muffin button!” Derpy yelled out with him.

“Okay, okay! Muffin button! Sheesh you two, we’re in public,” Thunderlane chuckled as he glanced around at weird looks their table was receiving. Dash took a sip of her drink and eyed them all.

“Okay, so mind telling me what's going on Thunderlane?” she asked, eager for an answer. Thunderlane smiled and looked at Derpy.

“You wanted to tell her right Derpy? Go ahead,” he nodded. Derpy looked up from her muffin and smiled.

“Dashie! We’re gonna tryout for the Wonderbolts with you!” She smiled so wide it looked like her mouth was going to pop off. Dash nearly spit out her water.

“What?!” she stared dumbly at Derpy, and then moved her eyes to Bulk and Thunderlane, “Uh, you guys are kidding right?” she asked seriously.

“Does it look like we’re kidding?” Thunderlane chuckled.

“YEAH!” Bulk followed. Thunderlane shook his head.

“Bulk, that would be a no,” he said flatly. Bulk sat silently for a moment.

“Oh, whoops,” he said quietly before popping a whole egg sandwich in his mouth.

Dash wasn’t sure what to say. Thunderlane and Bulk had attended flight camp with her, but flight camp was nothing. This was the real deal. It wasn’t going to be easy, and it was most likely going to be very physically taxing. Derpy was coming too? She wouldn’t last a second!

“Uh, you guys know it won’t be the same as flight camp right?” Dash explained reluctantly.

“Oh, we know,” Thunderlane chuckled. “It’s an open tryout. We can go if we want.”

“But,” Dash looked at all of them, “I’ve been training my tail off for this! Have you guys been getting ready?” she asked.

“Well, no…” Thunderlane began. Bulk slowly leaned towards him while giving Thunderlane the stink eye.

“Do you even…”

“Bulk, we’ve been over this. No, I have not lifted,” Thunderlane answered him quickly. “Look Dash, don’t think we haven’t been seeing you train hard,” he suddenly brought up.

“You’ve been awesome!” Derpy blurted out while bouncing in the booth seat. “We wanna go with you!”

“But… why?” Dash was beyond curious. Apparently they wanted to go because of her? Why would they do that?

“Dash, you’ve been… very inspirational,” Thunderlane said while rubbing the back of his head. “I’ll speak for all of us here, none of us are expecting to be recruited,” he admitted a little shamefully. “Hell, we haven’t even done a fraction of the work you’ve done… but the three of us recently ran into each other while watching you train. We’d all been a bit inspired by you. Even if we don’t get selected, I think we all feel like at least supporting you. That’s if you don’t mind,” Thunderlane smiled. Dash didn’t know what to say. Bulk and Derpy both smiled at her as well. She was inspiring others again?

Just how many lives were being changed by Soarin? It was like a cascade effect. Soarin inspired her, and then through her work, she was inspiring many others.

“You guys don’t have to do that for me,” Dash put a hoof on her chest. “Really, it’s gonna be very hard, I don’t want anypony to get hurt,” she explained truthfully.

“We all have other reasons too actually,” Thunderlane nodded and looked to Bulk and Derpy.

“I GET TO SEE MY PAPPY!” Bulk shouted while bouncing his pecs.

“I just wanna see you be awesome!” Derpy smiled, swaying back and forth while still nomming the muffin.

“I…” Thunderlane hesitated, “I’ll be honest, I want Applejack to think I’m tougher,” he looked away. Dash lifted an eyebrow. She knew it. Thunderlane was a terrible liar.

Talk about unexpected. Dash still felt the three were in over their heads, but now she would be among a few others she knew well. So many ponies claiming to be inspired by her. Dash wasn’t used to this, but it felt good. She smiled sheepishly.

“Wow guys… thanks… really, I’m speechless,” she chuckled and smiled at all of them. The smile quickly turned from sheepish to confident. “Well now I feel like helping out a little these last couple of days. What say you all to joining my workout today?”

“YAY!” Derpy cheered.

“YEAH!!!!” Bulk, of course, replied.

“I dunno…” Thunderlane grimaced, Dash elbowed him in the side.

“There you go again. Don’t be passive. Applejack will eat you alive like that,” she chuckled. Thunderlane growled, but smiled right back.

“Fine, I’m in,” he nodded.

“Alright team,” Dash pounded a hoof on the table, suddenly excited. Maybe this would be fun. “Finish up your breakfast, we’ve got drills to do!”

“No, I’m fine. Like I said, just a little surprised, what’s the occasion?” Soarin asked as he flew behind Spitfire and Fleetfoot. They were heading in the direction of Rusty’s diner. Spitfire glanced back at him.

“Well, it’s our day off. I figured since, you know, you’re life has been hell recently that we’d go have a nice breakfast together,” she explained as she reached over and pulled Fleetfoot back into formation.

“Snrk, uh, wha?” Fleetfoot shook her head and blinked. Soarin chuckled and pulled up beside Spitfire.

“Like I said, I’m fine, but how did you get her out of bed so early on a day off?” Soarin made a head motion towards Fleetfoot as she struggled to stay awake mid flight.

“There was some kicking and whining,” Spitfire paused to pull Fleet back towards them again, “but I eventually convinced her.”

“Convinced?” Soarin lifted an eyebrow. Spitfire lifted one right back to him. Soarin shrugged and smirked.

“She’ll be fine once we get her a cup of Rusty’s Express Extreme,” she sighed and just hooked her arm with Fleetfoot’s to prevent her from going off course. “And by convince, I meant she owed you for the…” Spitfire tried to hold it, but one snort escaped, “For the princess comments,” she finished while glancing at the fake horn on Soarin’s forehead.

“Spitfire, really?” Soarin sighed. “It wasn’t funny the first time either.”

“Oh relax Soarin, like you aren’t gonna get it non-stop from Rusty,” she said as they glided down and landed in front of Old Rusty’s. “It sucks, yes, but you’re stuck with it, so might as well have a little fun with it.”

“If only it were ‘fun,’” Soarin grumbled to himself. Spitfire, dragging a half asleep Fleetfoot along with her, pushed the doors open. They got one step into the diner before—

“WHOA-HO! Look at this!” Rusty wheeled up on his skateboard and nearly flung himself at Spitfire and Fleetfoot. He put them both in gentle headlocks. “How’ve you lady-wings been? It’s been a dog’s age since I saw ya!”

“Rusty I was here last week—”

“DOG’S AGE I TELL YA!” he cut off Spitfire. Fleetfoot fell asleep. Rusty glanced at Fleetfoot and blinked. He released Spitfire and dug his hoof into his apron pocket, pulling out an air horn. He held it right in front of Fleetfoot’s face and blared it into her face.

“AAAHHH!!!!” Fleetfoot flinched hard, reached up, and punched Rusty across the face. He kept his grip on her regardless and turned his head back to her with a big smile. Fleetfoot gasped when she realized what happened. “Oh god! Sorry!”

“Ya still got plenty o’ bite!” he chuckled and let go. She fell to the ground awkwardly and stood back up, quickly feeling sleepy again, “And how are ya doin’ Soa—” Rusty froze in place when he eyed Soarin. He stared specifically at the fake horn strapped to Soarin’s head. Soarin looked away with his ears flopped down and his cheeks puffed. “AHEM!” Rusty cleared his throat. He turned around, messing heavily with his apron, mane, and face. When he turned back, his mane was smooth and parted, his beard was combed and twirled at the edges, his face was free of all grease marks and he held his apron over his front arm like a towel.

“Rusty…” Soarin sighed, trying not to chuckle.

“Right this way, m’lady,” Rusty motioned towards a booth. Spitfire lost it at “m’lady.” Rusty grabbed Fleetfoot by the tail and dragged her along with them.

Rusty sped off as soon as he showed them to a table. Spitfire dragged Fleetfoot into the booth seat beside her and Soarin sat opposite. Soarin frowned as he glanced around. There were a couple of other ponies and families present. Almost all of them made confused glances towards him. He liked Rusty’s because it made him feel normal, just coming to get breakfast like everypony else. Even here, his new “addition” made him stand out. How long would things last like that? He did find that he appreciated Rusty’s humor though. Rusty didn’t make a big deal about it, or even ask about the horn. He just went right for a joke. It was better than how most had gone about it, and by most he meant Fleetfoot.

“Sheesh Fleet, when did you go to bed last night?” Spitfire asked as Fleetfoot slumped into the booth seat and fell asleep again with her head resting against the back rest.

“The usual for everypony?” Rusty rolled up without a notepad, assuming they would all get the same thing. Soarin and Spitfire both nodded. Rusty’s eyes narrowed as they landed on Fleetfoot. He sped away, returning quickly with a large pot and a wooden spoon. He held the pot over her, slipping her head into it. “WAKE UP AND SMELL WHO KNOWS WHAT!” he yelled while beating the pot with the wooden spoon. Fleetfoot jolted awake and her wings flew outward, smacking Spitfire in the face.

“AHHH!!! WHAT THE HELL?!” she yelled out as Rusty removed the pot from her head. Rusty quickly rapped her on the nose with the wooden spoon.

“No! Bad pony!” he pointed the spoon towards a table with a family. A young colt and filly were laughing hysterically at Fleetfoot’s expense. “Watch your language around the kids…” he pointed the spoon at Soarin, “and the princess please.”

“Hey!” Soarin tried to retort, but Rusty sped off.

“God, he’s on a roll… today…” Fleetfoot, despite just having a pot rapped over her head, started swaying and leaned forward. Her head landed face down on the table with a thump. Spitfire flattened her brow and looked around for Rusty.

“Rusty, I think we need—”

“WAY ahead of ya!” Rusty rolled up to their table with a tiny tea cup and a coffee jug labeled: “Express Extreme” in magic marker with bubble letters and a lightning bolt drawn beneath it. He placed the cup in front of Fleetfoot and tipped the jug towards it. “I’m giving her a double shot,” he snickered.

“That won’t kill her will it?” Spitfire asked seriously as she watched Rusty pour the coffee perfectly into the tiny cup.

“I said double shot, not triple shot,” he chuckled. He finished pouring and eyed Fleetfoot still asleep.

“I got it this time,” Spitfire reached down by Fleetfoot’s leg and gave her a poke right where her thigh met her pelvis.

“YEEEEP!” Fleetfoot woke with a start, blushed and covered the spot. Soarin and Rusty glanced at each other, and then back to Fleetfoot.

“I didn’t need to know that,” Rusty shook his head. “Now drink up missy!”

“Oh? Thanks…” She said sleepily, forgetting all about a “weak spot” of hers that had just been exploited. How did Spitfire know about it? Fleetfoot said a lot of things whenever she got drunk, that’s how.

Fleetfoot nestled the tiny cup between her hooves and poured it into her mouth. It was barely enough to take a full sip, but then—

“Whoa…” Fleetfoot blinked, “WHOA!!!!!” she shook her head back and forth vigorously, “Brrrrrrrrrlaaaaaagh!” she finally stopped and blinked, wide awake. She coughed twice and pounded her chest. A small puff of smoke flew from her mouth. “Gah! What do you MAKE that with? Dynamite?!”

“SHE LIVES!” Rusty cheered before speeding off on his skateboard. Soarin and Spitfire were holding back fits of laughter as Fleet cracked her neck and twitched a couple times.

“So,” Spitfire spoke up, “Soarin have you had a chance to put together your tryout plan yet?” she made conversation. Soarin shrugged.

“I’ve got some stuff put together. Don’t worry, I’ll have it ready in two days. I’ve just been… occupied.” he looked away.

“I saw you go back to the castle last night,” Fleetfoot spoke up as she sat completely upright with the caffeine turbo-charging her alertness. Soarin hesitated, but why would he keep stuff from them? He was just a little passive after being called a princess by Fleetfoot. Spitfire was right, he would just have to get used to it and forge on.

“Yeah I was learning how to use this,” Soarin pointed to the false horn.

“Use it?” Spitfire’s ears perked up, “I thought it was just to keep the magic from, what did you say? Overtaking you?” she tried to recall his explanation.

“Nah, I gotta actually use it too. After last night my respect for unicorns increased about a thousand percent. You have no idea how hard it is,” he explained casually, but both Spitfire and Fleetfoot were staring at him in astonishment.

“So you can use magic now?” Spitfire asked, slightly eager. Soarin blinked and looked up at the horn.

“Kind of? I didn’t get very far, I only learned how to grab things and sort of levitate them,” he admitted. Fleetfoot leaned across the table and got in his face.

“SHOW US!” she bounced up and down. Spitfire grabbed Fleetfoot and pulled her back into the seat.

“Control the buzz Fleet,” she chuckled as Fleetfoot jittered slightly.

“I’d rather not show,” Soarin answered honestly. He didn’t want anything to go wrong.

“Do not fear my princess! We merely wish to witness the wonder of thy feminine powers!” Fleet teased. Soarin glared at her from across the table, and then smirked. He closed his eyes and relaxed his body. He felt the sensation of the magic build up quickly. Spitfire and Fleetfoot’s eyes widened as the false horn began to glow softly. Soarin opened one eye and glanced towards Fleetfoot. She lifted an eyebrow as Soarin looked towards her, then—

“AH!” she yelped and quickly reached a hoof towards her plot. She glanced at her rear, then back at Soarin. He had his head turned to the side, magic dissipated, and a smirk curling on his lips as he snickered. “Did you just pinch my plot?!” she fumed as her face turned bright red.

“Now how could I have done that Fleet? I’m sitting over here!” Soarin shrugged and failed to hold back a grin. Spitfire sighed and shook her head.

“Can I take you two anywhere?” she grumbled as Fleetfoot leaned back and crossed her hooves.

“I’m telling Dash,” she stuck her tongue out at Soarin.

“Like she’ll believe you,” Soarin jeered right back to Fleet.

“Speaking of Dash,” Fleetfoot leaned back down and rested her arms at the table while snidely bouncing her eyebrows at Soarin, “I dunno about you, but I think she’ll like your… sixth leg you got there,” she pointed at the horn. Soarin looked at her curiously for a moment. Then it hit him, but Spitfire spoke up first.

“Fleet, that’s just weird,” she groaned as she rubbed her hooves on her forehead. “And thanks for the image, but you’re one to talk about weird sexual encounters,” she rested her face on her hoof to stay turned towards Fleetfoot.

“I dunno Spitfire,” she turned to Soarin, “what could be weirder than a ‘head-dance?’” she snickered. Soarin was about to fire back, but Spitfire saved him the effort.

“Well Fleet, there was that one time…” she trailed off.

“One what?” Fleetfoot blinked and tipped her head.

“Remember that one night when you… and Lightning Streak…” Spitfire cringed slightly as she spoke.

“Wha—OH!” Fleetfoot’s eyes widened and her ears shot up. Soarin stared blankly at Fleetfoot. He swore he just heard Spitfire mention something about Fleetfoot and Lightning Streak.

“That was weird,” Spitfire put simply.

“Um… well… I was drunk,” Fleetfoot folded her ears back.

“Yeah. Still weird,” Spitfire repeated before turning to Soarin. “Don’t ask,” she suggested.

“I’ve no urge to know,” Soarin shook his head very uncomfortably.

“ORDER UP! I TOTALLY WAS NOT EAVESDROPPING ON YOU KIDS!” Rusty sped by and dropped all the food on the table in almost a blink of an eye. It was oatmeal, eggs, and fruit for all three. The Wonderbolt diet was strict, but it was a sacrifice they made for their bodies to be in top condition. Soarin rolled his eyes when he saw his dishes were fine silver.

“Rusty, joke’s over,” Soarin commented on his fancy set up.

“Huh? Oh whoops, how did I screw that up?” Rusty reached forward and switched Soarin and Spitfire’s dishes so Spitfire had the silver.

“I honestly don’t know what this is implying,” Soarin shrugged as Rusty scooted away laughing.

“So new princess!” Fleetfoot turned to Spitfire as they dug in. “How’s your prince been?” she asked with a smirk. Spitfire stopped mid spoonful of oatmeal and gave Fleetfoot a very annoyed look.

“Why do you keep asking about Wave and me?” Spitfire growled. Fleetfoot’s smile grew wider.

“Oh! Okay, we can talk about Wave Chill! You should’ve said so in the first place!” Fleetfoot giggled. Spitfire’s eyes widened for a moment, realizing she walked right into it.

“Fleet, we’re just good friends.”

“Bull—” Fleetfoot clamped her mouth shut as Rusty appeared in front of her holding the wooden spoon at the ready again, “—lony!” she corrected herself. Rusty nodded and sped off.

“Fine Fleet,” Spitfire rolled her eyes, “I like him okay? Is that what you wanted to hear?” she grumpily shoved an overloaded spoonful of oatmeal into her mouth.

“Nope!” Fleetfoot shook her head and leaned into Spitfire. “Have you… chilled his wave yet?” she asked goofily. Spitfire nearly choked on her oatmeal. Soarin just casually ate his food as the ladies had their girl talk. He had been wondering about Spitfire and Wave Chill himself, but unlike Fleetfoot he wasn’t one to take a crowbar to somepony else’s personal life.

“Fleet, I’m his superior officer!” Spitfire exclaimed after clearing her throat. “It is not proper for the two of us to partake in such extremely intimate relations!”

“Oh, drop the formal talk,” Fleetfoot waved a hoof at her. “You’ve clearly thought about it.” Fleetfoot flapped her ears up and down. Spitfire blushed and looked back towards her food.

“Fine, maybe I have… but it’s still wrong for us to do anything. My duty comes first as the captain of the Wonderbolts, I can’t let desire drive my actions,” she stated seriously.

“Have you ever had a steady coltfriend before?” Fleetfoot suddenly asked. Spitfire quickly shook her head.

“No, what does that have to do with anything?” she refused to look back at Fleetfoot, hoping she would be left alone.

“Oh, so you’ve never had… an option… when the heat kicks in, have you?” Fleetfoot sneered.

Soarin sighed uncomfortably. This was becoming too much information, but at least they weren’t focusing on him and his horn. Maybe that was the point of all this. They just wanted to take him out and be casual to show him he’s no different despite the horn. He could get behind that, he just had to not listen to this awkward conversation.

“What?” Spitfire looked towards Fleetfoot in confusion.

“You heard me. You’ve never had a stallion of your own when the fun times start,” she pointed between Spitfire’s legs. Spitfire shifted so her legs were closed and completely under the table.

“How will that make a difference? I had ways to cope before Wave, I’ll just do the same,”

“Trust me, it’s different,” Fleetfoot chuckled. “It’s almost impossible to resist when you have a stallion right there. It’s like free candy,” she nudged Spitfire in the side. Spitfire scooted as close to the wall as she could. She had a small blush constantly on her face. Fleetfoot was really getting on her nerves about this.

“It doesn’t matter. I’m sticking to my duty and what’s right. I don’t care how hard it will be,” Spitfire pounded a hoof on the table. Fleetfoot just eyes her for a moment before giggling softly.

“You think you can hold it in,” she lifted an eyebrow at Spitfire.


“You think you’ll be able to resist him.”


“So you’re pitting your sense of duty against the untamable sex drive you’ll experience while in heat with a stallion nearby for easy access.”

“What’s your point?” Spitfire glared at her. Fleetfoot kept giggling and patted her hooves together.

“Did you know that if you put a little hat on a snowball it lasts a long time in hell?” Fleetfoot managed to say before she lost her composure and burst out laughing. Spitfire stared for a moment, before catching on.

“Oh shut up,” she shook her head and went back to eating.

Soarin laughed quietly to himself. This was great. He had great friends to lean on. This was exactly what they were trying to do. Have a normal, good time. He’d been put through a lot of shit lately and this was exactly what he needed to feel better.

He smiled and went on eating his breakfast as Fleetfoot continued to harass Spitfire.

---To Be Continued---

Chapter 6: Departure

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Piercing the Heavens
By: Calm Wind

Chapter 6:

One month short of a full year ago, Dash met the Wonderbolts in person for the first time. What a wild spin the meeting put on her life. She had encountered a magical tornado, dressed up and danced, made new friends with remarkable ponies, and fought magic imbued mercenaries to the death.

Most importantly though, her life collided with that of a very special stallion: Soarin. Not only did she fall in love with him, he inspired her to push her limits. Because of him she grew faster, stronger, and wiser. Now here she was with a chance to realize her dream much sooner than she ever thought possible. The tryouts had arrived.

She’d be gone for a long time, possibly forever if she was selected for the elite squad spot, but Ponyville and all of her friends would always be in her heart.

This was the opportunity of a lifetime, but even so, that didn’t make it easy to say goodbye.

“I’m going to be fine Fluttershy, and so are you. I promise I’ll visit as much as I can,” Dash said as she dropped her duffle bag on the platform and hugged Fluttershy tightly as she wept in Dash’s arms. “Stay strong for me, and take good care of Tank and my place while I’m gone okay?” Dash put her at arm’s length. Fluttershy hiccupped and nodded while trying to wipe her tears away with her wings.

“Okay,” she squeaked quietly as she spoke.

A cool autumn breeze blew through the train station. It mixed with the warm air that surrounded the simmering steam engine as it awaited the boarding passengers. The conductor was walking up and down the platform, trying to get all the passengers on board so they could depart in a timely fashion. This process was being slightly delayed by a small group of eager pegasi who were saying their goodbyes before leaving on a rough journey. It would be a challenge, and only one was expected to succeed, but their confidence ran high, and their wings twitched in excitement.

Rainbow Dash was nervous. She was beyond nervous, but this time her nerves weren’t holding her down. It was a mix of nervousness combated with eagerness: Eagerness to show up and wow not just the Wonderbolts, but all of Equestria. It was her time, and she had friends coming along to see her through it.

Dash looked towards all of her friends. They all made the trip to see her off and none of them were taking it very well. Twilight seemed to be taking it the best. She was clearly sad, but not in tears. Pinkie’s hair was completely deflated, but she had a smile on her face, happy that Dash was on her way towards something important to her. Rarity was shedding a tear or two, and quickly hugged Fluttershy as she fluttered back over to them. Where was Applejack though?

Dash looked over to see Bulk Biceps and Derpy climb aboard the train. Behind them stood Thunderlane, with Applejack quickly approaching him. Of course. They were a more than a few yards away, but Dash could pick up most of what was being said.

“Ya don’t have to do this ya know. I ain’t gonna think differently of ya if ya stay,” Applejack said with a frown. Thunderlane smiled at her and shook his head.

“A true stallion never backs down from a challenge,” he said with a slight chuckle. Applejack gave him a harsh glare.

“A ‘true stallion’ always bites off more than he can chew too, apparently. This is gonna be rough! Ya seen how much Dash has been trainin’. I don’t want ‘em killin’ ya out there!” she said while jabbing him hard in the chest.

“Oof!” he grunted as she pulled her hoof back quickly.

“Er, sorry,” she tugged her hat down.

“I dunno, you might kill me first if I stay here,” Thunderlane joked. Applejack pushed her hat back up.

“Look, just… come back safe alright?” she eyed him with concern. “I’ll be waitin’ for ya,” she removed her hat and looked him in the eyes.

“Count on it,” Thunderlane placed a hoof on her shoulder. Applejack glanced over at the rest of her friends. Dash quickly looked away just in time for Applejack not to see her. Dash glanced back after a few seconds to catch Applejack hiding both her and Thunderlane’s faces with her hat as she leaned in.

Dash sighed as she watched the two of them share their usual “hidden kiss.” She missed Soarin. She missed him so much. She was heading to the Wonderbolt compound, but it was for tryouts, not pleasure. She would be beyond happy to see him, but would they even get a chance to say hello? Soarin would have to play it professional. It was his job after all.

She couldn’t let it bother her. This was an important moment in her life. Soarin was going to approach his role with full focus and professionalism. Dash would do the same. The time for pleasure would come. It was time to wow ALL of the Wonderbolts, not just him.

Still though, she was so jealous of both Applejack and Fluttershy. If they needed a hug or comfort, all they had to do was take a small walk to find their stallion. Soarin was a tiring hour flight away, and he was always busy. The Wonderbolt life was both taxing and action packed, but she would gladly do it every single day for both her dream and for him.

“Dash!” Scootaloo’s voice suddenly caught Dash’s ears. She turned to see the little orange filly gliding as fast as she could towards the platform. “Whoaaa!!!” she lost control, and fell into a pile of fallen leaves at the base of a tree beside the station. She quickly pulled herself out and sprinted up to Dash whilst covered in orange, yellow, and red.

“Scoots!” Dash smiled, but was caught off guard as Scootaloo thrust herself at her and hugged her tightly. Dash quickly hugged Scootaloo back as the filly squeezed her tightly.

“I can’t believe I almost missed you…” Scootaloo said with a small sniff. “It’s gonna suck without you here,” she said shakily as she pushed back and stared up at Dash. Dash smiled and ruffled Scootaloo’s mane.

“Hey, no tears kid! It’s time for me to show the rest of Equestria what I’ve got. While I’m gone I need you to cause enough mischief for the two of us combined okay?” she said with a wink. Scootaloo squeezed her eyes shut to prevent tears from falling and nodded.

“I’ll be extra awesome to make up for you,” she said while pounding a hoof to her chest.

“That’s what I like to hear,” she patted Scootaloo’s shoulders. “I hope you’re right behind me in a few years Scoots. I think a Wonderbolt uniform would look awesome on you.”

The train’s whistle blew loudly and the conductor called for all aboard. Scootaloo sniffled, and failed to fight back one tear as she backed away from Dash.

“See ya everyone!” she waved to all her friends as she slung her duffle bag over her shoulder and made her way towards the rear coach. Her friends waved back while yelling goodbyes and good lucks. She passed Applejack as she neared the car. “I saw that,” she jeered as they crossed paths.

“Stuff it,” Applejack huffed. Dash chuckled and took another step, but, “Hey Dash?”

“Huh?” Dash stopped mid step and turned to look at Applejack. Applejack wasn’t looking at her.

“Keep an eye on Thunderlane for me… okay?” she asked. Dash stayed silent for a moment, and then smiled. Applejack really liked him, didn’t she? If Applejack was asking a favor of her, then she really would do anything for him.

“I’ll make sure he doesn’t slip up too much,” Dash joked, but assured Applejack. Applejack chuckled to herself before turning to Dash briefly.

“Give ‘em hell,” she tipped her hat. Dash nodded back before the two parted ways and Dash climbed aboard the coach. She looked back one more time and waved to her friends before she stepped into the coach. It was the first step on her new journey.

“Seriously Fleet?” Spitfire rolled her eyes as she leaned forward on her desk.

“What?” Fleetfoot asked nonchalantly as she reclined on the couch to the right of Spitfire’s desk.

Soarin sat in a folding chair to Spitfire’s left as he listened to Fleetfoot give her plans for the tryouts. He was busy trying to figure out the best way to explain his portion. He hadn’t heard Fleetfoot’s, but apparently Spitfire didn’t like it.

“You can’t always be silly Fleet,” Spitfire looked sternly at her. “These are tryouts to gain both new recruits and somepony to fill in for Rapidfire.”

“Duh, that’s why I put together this plan,” Fleetfoot casually defended herself.

“Fleet, everything you have is slightly… prankish. We want to encourage them, not piss them off,” Spitfire slid her hoof in a circle on her desk while tipping her head down to intensify her stern stare.

“Prankish?” Fleetfoot sat up and crossed her hooves while pouting. “I’m hurt you think so lowly of me!” she said overdramatically.

“Rivet has designed multiple types of obstacle courses for us. It’s hard to miss the ‘trend’ in your selections,” Spitfire kept her stare constant.

Rivet was the Wonderbolts’ chief engineer of their obstacle courses and other equipment such as their protective training gear and their machines that produced clouds or other elements such as controlled fire, mist, wind, and even weak lightning. He wasn’t widely known outside the Wonderbolts, but was commended within them for his hard work and many different mechanical skills that allowed them all to train on such a high level. He preferred to keep his “fame” within the compound. He was quite brilliant, but a little sheepish.

He was most popular amongst the Wonderbolts for a specific reason though. Whenever he designed a course, he did so with a specific Wonderbolt by his side. This allowed the Wonderbolts to each have personal courses to challenge themselves or other fellow wingmates. It added a little personality to each course, and sometimes it was easy to tell which course belonged to whom.

His mention by Spitfire reminded Soarin that he wanted to talk to Rivet at some point. Soarin wasn’t sure exactly yet, but as he learned to use his magic he was sure Rivet could design a thing or two for him that would help with practice. He’d get to that point later though. He was still trying to figure out how to report his plan. Luckily Fleetfoot was keeping Spitfire occupied.

“You fail to convince me I’m ‘up to something,’” Fleetfoot made hoof quote motions at Spitfire.

“Every course you’ve chosen was a personal course he made for Surprise,” Spitfire pointed out. “Don’t play dumb with me Fleet.”

“Would you rather I used the courses designed with Silver Lining at his neck?” Fleetfoot shrugged. “I mean if we wanted to kill the cadets…”

“Don’t try to dodge your way out of this one Fleet,” Spitfire negated Fleetfoot’s attempt to change the subject.

“Okay, okay, fine,” Fleetfoot admitted. “So I wanna mess with them a little, but it’s more than that.”

“This I gotta hear,” Soarin chuckled as he picked up on their conversation. Fleetfoot pointed at him.

“Listen up, princess. I bet it’s better than whatever test of “manliness” you put together…” she paused and glanced at the fake horn, “or the recent lack thereof,” she added with a sneer.

“Fleet,” Spitfire tapped her hoof gently on her desk.

“Oh right,” Fleetfoot turned back to Spitfire as Soarin glared daggers into the side of her head. “Think about it, all of Surprise’s courses are based on wacky and random things happening. I dunno if you’ve been asleep this past year, but I’d say wacky and random about sums up how things have been lately.”

“That’s putting it lightly,” Soarin commented.

“Quiet duchess, I’m talking here,” she put herself between Soarin and Spitfire as she continued. “I want to throw the unexpected at them! What better way to do that than with courses designed with a loony at the wheel?” she made circle motions with her hoof beside her ear before winking.

“You know, just because you actually thought it through, I’ll let you do it,” Spitfire chuckled. “I don’t like it too much, but you are right about the strange part. It could help us weed out the impatient ones,” she gave a nod of approval.

“I knew you’d see it my way,” Fleetfoot hovered back over to the couch, batting Soarin in the face with her tail as she passed.

“So Soarin,” Spitfire spoke up before Soarin could retaliate. “Anything on your plan besides what we discussed?” she asked.

“CoronationHAAACHOO!! Is it dusty in here?” Fleetfoot waved her hoof in front of her nose while failing to hold back a smirk. Soarin flattened his ears as he turned to her.

“How about you go play outside or something?” he suggested seriously.

“Okay mom!” Fleetfoot got up and left before Soarin or Spitfire could say anything else.

“She’s really pushing it,” Soarin grunted, “I mean, it’s not as bad as Rapidfire used to be, but at least I could punch him.”

“She’ll get bored eventually, you know how it goes,” Spitfire grinned as she leaned back in her chair.

“I dunno, I think you’re both enjoying it,” Soarin eyed her suspiciously as her grin grew slightly wider.

“Like I said at Rusty’s Soarin, just have fun with it. Now,” she clapped her hooves together twice, “your tryout plan.”

“Oh right,” Soarin blinked. “Well, like you suggested, I’m gonna run them all through a couple of courses I helped design as well as do a few other tests to gauge strength. It’s going to focus more on their ability to use their strength instead of just how strong they are.”

“Right, right…” Spitfire nodded in agreement. “Which of your courses are you going to use?”

“Three, four, and eight,” he put simply. Spitfire’s eyes widened for a brief moment.


“Yes, eight,” Soarin confirmed.

“Soarin, that course is a death trap for anyone but you,” Spitfire leaned forward while eyeing him incredulously.

“I know. I have a special test planned for it. It will fit heavily into the overall quality we are looking for in terms of the elite spot. Trust me,” he assured her. She leaned back again and sighed.

“If you say so, just don’t forget our liability practices. If they do it willingly, then fine, but if any of them get severely injured when you could’ve prevented it, it’s on you,” she made clear for him as Fleetfoot suddenly re-entered the office. She bouncily trotted back over to the couch while giggling and reclined on it again. Soarin eyed her suspiciously.

“What, was the playground closed?” he teased. She only giggled harder.

“Hehehe! Nope!” she answered. Soarin didn’t like that. Not one bit.

“What did you do?” Soarin asked while narrowing his eyes.

“Nothing that wasn’t gonna happen eventually,” Fleetfoot giggled even harder. Spitfire rapped her hoof against her desk again to grab their attention.

“I’ve got a meeting with the squad captains in fifteen minutes, so let’s wrap this up. Last thing, Soarin,” she focused on him. He looked away from the giggly mess of Fleetfoot on the couch to pay attention. “I just want to remind you one more time…”

Soarin immediately picked up on what was coming. She didn’t have to speak any further for him to know what was about to happen. He held back a growl as she continued.

“If Dash shows up for these tryouts, which she better, you must make your selection fairly, no favors for—”

“Spitfire, really? Again?” Soarin lost his restraint. Spitfire paused and looked at him sternly.

“I trust you will not let your feelings—”

“If you trust me…” Soarin stomped towards her desk, “then why do you keep telling me this?! Do you trust me or not?!”

“Soarin, calm down,” she ordered.

“NO!” Soarin pointed at her. Her eyes widened and turned into a glare. “This is the fifth time! Dash won’t be treated any differently!”

“Soarin, this goes for more than the selections. You do realize that the two of you in a relationship may have an effect on how she's viewed by the other recruits?” she tried to explain, but Soarin didn’t listen.

“Stop giving me crap about Dash! I know my duties! I’ve done it every single year! You need to stop treating me like I forget how to do my own job!” he kept barking. Spitfire stood from her desk as he kept yelling.

“Soarin, you’ve got five seconds to calm down before I remind you, the hard way, how I’m supposed to do my job!” she leaned over the table to try and force her will on him. It never worked. Soarin was one of few who could withstand her presence when things got serious. Soarin’s false horn began to glow slightly and crackled a little as his emotions escalated.

Soarin was tired of this. He loved Spitfire as if she were family, but she always tried to force an “older sibling who knows better” role with the two of them. The subject of Rainbow Dash seemed to start many quarrels recently, because unlike with other subjects, Soarin NEVER backed down. What happens when two unstoppable stubborn forces collide? Everything is screwed, unless something breaks them up.

“Son of a bitch, will you two quit it?!” Fleetfoot landed roughly on Spitfire’s desk, placing herself right between both of them. “Get over yourselves! Seriously! I feel like a marriage counselor!”

“But she—”

“No.” Fleetfoot pressed her wing over Soarin’s head.

“Fleet he—”

“NO!” she did the same to Spitfire. “Both of you just shut up and let things be. We have the tryout greeting in an hour so let’s get ready for it,” she calmed down as she spoke about something of greater importance just around the corner. Soarin and Spitfire both sighed as Fleetfoot lightened her wing grip on them, but were both surprised when Fleetfoot’s wings suddenly pushed them forward. “Now kiss like lesbians and make out… er, up.”

“Fleet!” Soarin yelled as his and Spitfire’s faces got smushed together. The two pushed off each other and shook their heads out as Fleetfoot rolled back laughing.

“Okay fine, we get it,” Spitfire rubbed her nose. “Was that last part necessary?”

“I thought the princess would like to experiment,” Fleetfoot snickered while motioning to Soarin. He rolled his eyes as he had millions of times at her already about it.

“Whatever,” Spitfire stood up. “Let’s try it this way. I trust each of us to do a professional job. Simple enough. Let’s get moving. I still have to meet the other captains. Be at the train station in an hour to pick them all up,” she glanced at Soarin, but neither said anything as they all left the office and went their separate directions.

As Soarin walked towards his room however, a certain few words by Spitfire struck him hard. He had ignored them initially out of anger, but she had a point. It was no mystery that he and Dash were a couple, at least among the current Wonderbolts. This could actually prove to be a bit of a problem. He would literally have to avoid her. To maintain a professional air, he had to show no favor towards any one pony trying out. This meant even just talking to them on the side. As much as he wanted to see her again, he’d have to watch his every move.

But then something else occurred to him. If he selected her for the elite spot, and either Spitfire or Fleetfoot did as well, she’d be a high ranking Wonderbolt instantly. What sort of gossip would that cause though? It was inevitable. There would be suspicion that she was given a free ride. It would quickly spread outside the compound. The media would be on both his ass and hers faster than they could blink. She’d be pushed up against the wall to be perfect. One slip-up and the story would be that she was given a free ride regardless of skill.

He did not want her to be drowned by the media. He hated it, and he was more than certain she’d hate it too. Suddenly he felt like the situation had been flipped around. He found himself wondering if not selecting her would be for her own good. She’d make a recruit for sure, and it would spare her any sort of media strain.

No. He shook his head out and grunted. He’d give her a fair chance. It would be unprofessional of him to approach it that way too.

Great. He knew this was going to be hard, but now it was going to be even harder. He also couldn’t shake the thought that he was forgetting something.

“Huh?” Soarin stopped in front of his door. The word “Princess” had been written in sharpie above his nameplate. “Fleetfoot…” he grumbled as he pushed it open.

That’s right, he was kind of half alicorn now. That would be an interesting conversation once he and Dash finally got the chance.

This was all of course, assuming she was even coming.

Dash swayed gently in her seat as the train cars clattered down the tracks. The ride to Canterlot wasn’t very long, roughly half an hour if the train’s journey was unhindered. One would think Dash would take advantage of this to visit Soarin on a regular basis, but the tickets were expensive, a good twenty to thirty bits more expensive than a ticket to anywhere else. Canterlot was a large hub for trains to anywhere. The station itself was almost as large as Ponyville. It was smack in the middle of the richest part of town, and its upkeep required a pretty steep fare by the railway companies. Not even a small town like Ponyville was exempt from the expensive ticket prices, so travel to and from Canterlot was either a long, tiring flight or a hole in the wallet for Dash.

Dash sat quietly with her duffle bag beside her. She had packed light. She brought along her flight goggles, bathroom supplies, a copy of the first Daring Do book, a picture of her friends, and of course, her favorite picture of her and Soarin. What else would she need? She was more than certain there would be very little downtime. If there was she could either go for walks or read her book (for the millionth time). Actually, who was she kidding? These tryouts were probably going to be beyond rough. Any free time would probably be spent trying to regain feeling in her body on a bed.

She frowned and glanced over at her companions. Bulk, Derpy, and Thunderlane all looked as cheerful as they could be. She hoped they would be okay through all of it. The only one of them that wasn’t flat out exhausted after five minutes of training with Dash was Bulk. Then it took him five more minutes to catch up with them because… well… speed wasn’t his thing.

She decided to talk with them a little. She knew the brief reasons for them all coming along, she wanted to know more. Bulk was sitting in his own seat back to back with Derpy and Thunderlane, taking up the whole thing as usual. Thunderlane and Derpy seemed to be talking already, so she decided to converse with Bulk first. She left her duffle bag on the edge of her seat, keeping it in plain sight so she could keep one eye on it as she shuffled towards the seat flanking Bulk’s. Now for the challenge, could she converse with him without her face being blown off?

“Hey Bulk?”

“YEEEEAAAH!?” Challenge failed. Dash shook her head out and blinked before sitting down.

“So what’s up big fella? Excited for the tryouts?” she covered her ears preemptively. She saw him yell and waited till he was finished. “So last time I was in Canterlot I had a training day with the Wonderbolts. I met your dad, Pec Bounce.”

“Aw, yeah! That’s my pappy!” Bulk bounced his pecs as he referred to his dad.

“He’s pretty tough,” Dash nodded as Bulk kept flexing his chest.

“It’s gonna suck, but I get to see him at least, YEAH!” he yelled as he flexed. Dash tipped her head. Sure, she didn’t think he was going to make it either, but that attitude would never do, not while she was around.

“Hey, don’t talk like that. These are tryouts, you never know what they might be looking for,” she reached over and jabbed him in the arm. He sat quietly and blinked as he thought over her words. “You’re going for it. Give it your all. Leave nothing behind. You do it when you lift weights right? You may not be the best flyer, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it your all,” Dash smiled and leaned back. Bulk blinked again.

“Huh,” he looked down. “Huh,” he said again. “You know what, I CAN GET BEHIND THAT!” Dash felt her mane and ears get blown back again, but she shook her head out with a smile.

“That’s better,” she winked as she glanced around him. Thunderlane had gotten up to walk around and Derpy was digging through her bag. Dash stole a quick glance to see her own bag still present before getting up. “Stay positive big fella,” she said to Bulk before making her way around to speak to Derpy.

Dash walked up and sat across from Derpy, simultaneously snickering because Derpy had her head and half of her body shoved into her duffle bag. What was she looking for anyway? Dash jumped slightly when Derpy suddenly pushed her entire body into her duffle bag. Dash blinked to make sure she wasn’t seeing things. Derpy had somehow managed to fit herself into a bag that was barely the same size as her.

“Derpy, what the heck are you doing?” Dash spoke up with a chuckle. Derpy’s head popped out of the bag. She smiled when she saw Dash.

“Hi!” she said cheerfully before diving back in.

“What’cha looking for in there?” Dash leaned forward.

“Nuthin’. It’s comfy in here!” Derpy’s voice came from the bag. What an adorable goofball. Derpy had always been a bit… strange. It wasn’t Pinkie Pie strange. It was a different breed. Derpy found satisfaction in the strangest little things. She wasn’t dumb or missing a few wires in the head by any means. Some ponies just had their own way of doing things. Derpy was just especially good at being loveable in her own special way.

“Say Derpy,” Dash began as she got up and sat next to the jostling duffle bag, “why exactly are you coming with? I can agree with me being awesome, but there must be something else.

Derpy’s head popped out of the bag again. She blinked twice, her eyes switching positions both times.

“Um,” she looked down. So there was something else. It looked like it wasn’t easy for her to admit though.

“Sorry Derpy, if you have personal reasons I won’t—”

“I just wanna be cool like you,” she said out of nowhere. Dash froze and her ears stood up. Derpy wanted to be like her? Was she talking to Derpy or Scootaloo?


“You’ve always been so awesome. I always hear ponies talk about how fast and strong you are. I just wish ponies would talk about me too.” Each word was a little shaky. Dash was most certainly not expecting that. “I know I’m not the best flyer, if I at least try they’ll notice me, right?” she looked up at Dash with uneven puppy dog eyes.

“Aw, Derpy…” Dash rubbed the back of her head. Talk about embarrassing. She had another admirer she never knew about. “You shoulda said something sooner, I would’ve helped you.”

“I know but,” Derpy’s head lowered so only her eyes were above the rim of the bag, “I didn’t want to get in your way,” she averted her eyes shamefully. Dash quickly leaned forward and pulled her slightly out of the bag.

Dash felt like she was full of crap. How many ponies had been feeding off her hard work all these years? How did she not notice it? She had known Derpy as long as she had known Fluttershy. How did this go right over her head for so long?

“Derpy, I know I might be gone for a long time once this is over, but I promise you I’ll do something to help you. I don’t ever want you to think you’d be wasting my time. Okay?”

“Okay…” Derpy slid back down into the bag.

“Promise me you won’t hide from it anymore. That’s the first step to improving yourself,” Dash added with a smile. Derpy looked Dash over as she smiled at her. She slowly rose back up and grinned sheepishly.

“Thanks Dash, you’re the best.”

“Shucks…” Dash chuckled. “Now get comfy again,” Dash encouraged as Derpy nestled herself back into her bag.

Dash glanced about, catching Thunderlane walking back towards the seat. She quickly got up and grabbed hold of his wing as he came near.

“Ow! What the—?” he yelped as Dash pulled him over to her seat. She wanted to talk to him, but she was tired of keeping an eye on her bag from afar.

“C’mere sissy, I wanna talk,” she teased as he sighed and let her yank him.

“Oh boy, I can hardly wait to be looked down upon,” he rolled his eyes as he sat down.

“Oh stuff it, I’m not that bad,” Dash chuckled. “So I saw that little exchange between you and Applejack,” she bounced her eyebrows. Thunderlane flattened his ears.

“So? Wouldn’t you kiss your special somepony goodbye before going somewhere?”

“Fair enough,” she leaned back and crossed her hooves. “So you wanna look tougher for Applejack, huh? This is one hell of a way to prove a point. The tryouts are gonna be brutal,” she turned her head and looked out the window. Canterlot was approaching in the distance.

“If that’s what it takes, I’m gonna do it. She’s still too soft on me, like I break if I so much as fall off a chair. I feel like I need to be better for her, to be stronger. I want her to acknowledge me as an equal, not something she has to watch out for,” he trailed off while sighing.

“Thunderlane, that’s just how she is. I hate to break it to you, but she’s like that with everypony she’s acquainted with,” Dash explained with a shrug.

“Okay, how about I want to prove I’m not a ‘flower?’” he suddenly said. Dash flinched.

“Oh, she told you that one? Sheesh, being the element of honestly must suck,” Dash laughed awkwardly.

“I just… ugh… forget it,” Thunderlane grunted and glared at the floor.

“What?” Dash pried. Now she had to know. It involved Applejack so she had to know.

“It’s nothing… I just…” Thunderlane struggled to decide whether or not he wanted to tell. “Just hear me out on this okay? It’s your fault things are like this,” he suddenly accused. Dash blinked and retracted her neck a little.

My fault?” she pointed a hoof to her chest.

“You have to see it from my perspective Dash,” he motioned both of his hooves towards her. “I can’t help but shake the feeling that she’s a little… jealous of you.”

“This just keeps getting better and better,” Dash lifted an eyebrow. “Please, continue while I try to understand how the male brain works,” Dash said sarcastically. Thunderlane completely ignored her.

“Dash, think about it. You two both have a stallion. We are both pegasi. One of them is a world famous stunt flyer, male face of the whole organization, stronger than an earth pony and one of the fastest pegasi in this day and age. The other? Me. I’ve got nothing on him. How am I supposed to feel?” he thrust his wings out as he pounded the seat cushion. Dash just stared at him, eyes, ears, and brow all flat.

“You’re a dumbass,” she put plainly.

“You are the BEST pony to talk to Dash, you know that?” he arched his neck back against the seat.

“No Thunderlane, that’s a load of crap. She cares about you. Not me or Soarin… you. She asked me to look after you before we left just now.” Dash explained. Thunderlane’s head quickly whipped back down as he heard it. “You can do all this guy toughness crap if you want, but don’t think for a second she’s ashamed of you, alright?”

“Huh,” Thunderlane looked down and blushed lightly. He shook his head. “Fine… but I still want to look tougher,” he nodded, making up his mind.

“Stallions…” Dash shook her head. She’d never understand how they thought. The process was just so much different than a mare.

“Oh look,” Thunderlane suddenly pointed out the window. They had entered Canterlot and were making their way through the less desirable parts of town. The station could be seen in the distance. They were roughly five minutes away.

“Here we go,” Dash bashed her hooves together as her heart beat quickened in excitement. It was time. It was really, actually time to pursue her dream: A dream that would hopefully become a reality.

--- To Be Continued ---

Chapter 7: Arrival

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Piercing the Heavens
By: Calm Wind

Chapter 7:

Soarin glided to the ground outside Canterlot Central Station. He was a few minutes late, but if anyone grilled him for it, he’d ask them if they could get a spandex headpiece on with a horn attached to their head. He dared not take it off in case it had the same repercussions as putting it on did. He had to slip the headpiece over the leather strap around his head, and then poke a hole through the forehead section for the horn to fit through. It effectively made a process that was supposed to take a few seconds take almost ten minutes.

Soarin pulled his goggles off and let them dangle around his neck as he landed. He squinted and contorted his face a couple times in discomfort. His goggles felt tighter because the strap of the goggles had to also go around the strap of the… strap-on. He grumbled as he started trotting. It was just a SILLY FAKE HORN and it was causing uniform issues. He’d have to get his goggles adjusted and possibly get a uniform tweak because the small hole in the material was making the headpiece hold awkwardly against his face.

With yet even more problems to think about, Soarin approached the station doors.

The only building that beat Canterlot Central Station in terms of awe factor was the royal palace itself. Despite being the second most beautiful building in Canterlot, it still most definitely held the rank of largest. The building spanned more blocks than Soarin ever tried to count. It was one large rectangular structure built with hardened sandstone. Along the outer walls were multiple tall windows with large pillars flanking them. The doors to the station appeared to be massive from a distance, but as one approached it became for show as fifty doors leading in and out lined the edge. So many ponies came and went through these doors that it was actually difficult for one to squeeze in despite how many entrances and exits existed.

In the center above the entrance was a sculpture carved right out of the stone. The sculpture consisted of three faceless ponies: earth, unicorn, and pegasus, all staring up at statues of the divine princess sisters, depicting them rearing on their hind legs with their backs turned to one another. In the center of this sculpture, between the normal ponies and the sisters, was an enormous clock with ancient numerals on it. Rails extended in every direction, from above, below, and from within the building itself. From here, one could effectively buy a ticket to any location in Equestria, granted you had the bits.

The interior of the building was equally impressive. The main hall of the station was almost completely wide open save for a few rectangular pillars close to the edges. Even with the hundreds of ponies moving about, Soarin could walk in a straight line with both wings extended and not even come close to batting someone with them. The ceiling was incredibly high and arched at the top, painted green to make it stand out from the light brownish sandstone color the rest of the structure possessed.

At the other end was a large ticketing area, but Soarin walked right through it towards the most important part of the station: the prime platform. It was not only where he was told to meet the other Wonderbolts, it was also the main hub of the station. All the rails that extended out from the station converged at this one point. The prime platform extended the wide length of the building with arrival platforms branching out towards the rails. Each platform was beside a “dead-end” track, one for each location traveled from. It didn’t take long for Soarin to spot the sea of blue-clad ponies.

Soarin made his way across the prime platform towards the gathered Wonderbolts. Squad two and three were there along with Spitfire and Fleetfoot, all donning their spandex uniforms as well. Soarin remembered the briefing: they were expecting cadets from Manehatten, Cloudsdale, and Canterlot. A few others may be mixed in (like Ponyville, he hoped) but the main bulk would be from the three large cities. Thinking of Ponyville, of course, made Soarin excited about Dash arriving, but he couldn’t help wondering who else might show from the small town, if any. The only other pegasi he knew in Ponyville were Thunderlane and Fluttershy. One of those two was most definitely not going to show.

The plan was for squad two to gather the cadets from Manehatten and for squad three to handle the Cloudsdale arrivals. The lead squad would pick up any others that arrived and put them with the Canterlot cadets upon reaching the compound. After Spitfire’s introduction and instructions, each squad would take their group and get them situated in the compound for the tryouts to start the very next day.

Fleetfoot took notice of Soarin as he approached. She glanced at the horn sticking awkwardly through the head piece of his uniform.

“Pfff,” she quickly suppressed a laugh.

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” Soarin rolled his eyes as he approached. “I didn’t really have a choice.”

“I don’t know what’s funnier…” she snickered as she shook her head, “thinking about how much of a pain that must’ve been, or the fact that we have a princess Wonderbolt,” she let a few giggles escape.

“You know, I’m just gonna start ignoring you. Maybe that’ll get you to stop,” Soarin sighed as he looked around at the others.

“Challenge accepted, your highness,” Fleetfoot smirked as something much more interesting caught her eyes. “Oo!” she hopped once and her wings flared out.

“What?” Soarin looked back just in time before his head was yanked down to Fleetfoot’s level by her wing.

“Speaking of somepony being girly,” she pointed a hoof. Soarin followed it until his eyes landed on Spitfire sitting on a bench off to the side. Soarin glanced slightly left and saw Wave Chill approaching her, smiling sheepishly as she greeted him. Soarin frowned.

“Fleet, just let them be. Don’t you think you’ve given her enough shit about it already?” Soarin tried to reason with Fleetfoot, which was like trying to talk a lion into being vegan.

“Never!” she proclaimed with a devilish grin while squishing her cheek against his. She let him go and trotted quietly towards them. Soarin shook his head and went to check in with the other squads.

“Hey,” Spitfire said quietly as she smiled at Wave Chill. She glanced briefly at the others to make sure they weren’t watching or making a big deal out of it. She completely missed the fact that Fleetfoot was gone from view. Wave sent a smile right back.

“How are you ma’am? I mean, Captain Sp… sorry… Spitfire,” he looked down and blushed madly. Spitfire chuckled.

“At least you caught it this time. Just be at ease. Unless we’re in a professional situation just relax,” she explained as she swayed back and forth slightly.

“I’ll get it eventually…” said Wave as he took the spot next to her on the bench. “I’m just not used to it. Silver really grinded respect for authority into my brain over the years, it’s hard to switch off,” he sighed.

“Well, if he doesn’t like it,” she leaned into him subtly, “tell him he can take it up with me. He needs to lighten up anyway. I’m all for being strict, but he takes it about fifty steps over the line,” she joked.

“That’s still putting it lightly,” Wave rolled his eyes with a smile.

“How are the mares?” Spitfire asked.

“Same as always,” Wave answered. “I'm surprised Windy is still up,” he pointed over towards squad two as Soarin conversed with them. High Winds was swaying slightly and her eyes were half closed. Soarin suddenly glared at Blaze. It looked like she was making fun of the fake horn. “And Blaze…” Wave chuckled. “It’s a wonder Silver hasn’t punched her in the face yet. I can’t believe you two are related, you couldn’t be more different.”

“Loosely related,” Spitfire clarified with a grunt. “Let’s make that clear.”

“As always,” Wave smiled. The two just looked at each other for a few moments, Spitfire taking in his features. Upon examining his face, Wave looked like he had something on his mind. She was about to ask, but he spoke up before she could. “Say, Spitfire…” he trailed off quickly.

“Yes?” Spitfire tipped her head. Wave looked away briefly, face flushed. He wasn’t good at this. Being a stiff “yes-pony” and acting all soldier-like was mostly a cover up. He really didn’t know how to handle personal matters smoothly.

“Well, you know… after all this recruitment work and what not… we should… maybe we could… I think…” he turned his head away in the other direction as his thoughts raced. He stopped dead as his eyes met Fleetfoot’s about a foot away. She was staring starry eyed at both of them, her hooves squishing her cheeks, and a very quiet, high pitched, “EEEEEEEEEEEEE~” was escaping her mouth.

Spitfire blinked and turned as well. Her eyes widened in surprise, then glared as she saw her wingmate. Her yellow color was replaced by a bright red blush atop the glare. Before either of them could react, Fleetfoot pressed her hooves against the backs of their heads and forced their faces together.

“AND THEN…” she said in a low voice, “…THEY KISSED,” she giggled as their noses bumped. Spitfire quickly swiped Fleetfoot’s hoof away with her wing and stood up from the bench. She glared daggers at Fleetfoot, who only giggled uncontrollably while clutching her stomach.

“SHIPPER ON DECK!” Surprise suddenly appeared between them, standing up straight on her back hooves and saluting.

“Hey Spitfire!” Soarin called from near the arrival platforms. “First train!” he yelled out. Spitfire’s attention was drawn away from Fleetfoot. She blinked as she saw a diesel locomotive pull into Manehattan’s platform. She gave Fleetfoot another brief, flat stare and glanced at Wave again before gathering herself.

“Let’s get this started. Look alive everypony,” she quickly got into character and approached the first train.

Dash’s heart pounded vigorously in anticipation as their train pulled up to the Ponyville arrival platform. She had her duffle bag slung over her back, and was standing in front of the exit before anypony else had even gathered their belongings yet. She lurched slightly as the train came to a complete stop and smiled very wide as her wings began to twitch.

This was going to be so awesome. She got to see Soarin and she got to try out for the Wonderbolts! It was double the awesome! Dash blinked and looked down. Priorities Dash, get the priorities straight. She took a deep breath. She got to try out for the Wonderbolts and she got to see Soarin on top of her! Er… DAMMIT! ON TOP OF IT! IT! IT! IT!

She had to remember what was going on here. She had been psyched for the tryouts sure, but she couldn’t let Soarin distract her. There was no way in hell she wasn't going to see him, hopefully talk to him, and maybe spend some time with him, but TRYOUTS! This was her chance to fulfill her dream! Focus on THAT!

The solution to this sudden little brain dilemma: Soarin would kick her ass if she didn’t focus and give it her all. It was simple, Soarin loved her, and if she didn’t try her hardest and give it her best… well… that just wouldn’t be Rainbow Dash. Problem solved.

With her mind reset on her objective, Dash went back to being giddy.

“I could be wrong, but I think you’re excited,” Thunderlane joked as he, Derpy, and Bulk all lined up by behind her. Dash was visibly bouncing now and her wing feathers were puffing out a little here and there.

“What tipped you off?” Dash remained sarcastic in her bouncy state.

The conductor opened the door from outside and Dash was ready to sprint out onto the platform, however she didn’t get far.

“Whoa!” she came to an abrupt halt before getting sucked out into a sea of ponies that were departing a train on the other side of their arrival platform. Dash looked over the crowd as the other three joined her. The crowd was all pegasi: some big, some small, mares and stallions, and there was A LOT of them. There had to be at least seventy at first glance. It was to be expected since Ponyville’s railway shared an arrival platform with Cloudsdale’s, but there were so many and the platform was only wide enough for six ponies to stand side by side. Each pegasus also carried a bag of some sort that suggested they were staying for a short while.

This was one thing Dash had not taken into consideration. The Wonderbolts were holding open tryouts to bring in new recruits… but they were also looking to fill in an open elite spot. With the possibility of being allowed right into one of the Wonderbolts’ twenty elite squads, the turnout was going to be enormous! And that wasn’t counting the already existing Wonderbolt recruits that would most likely join the tryouts as well.

“That’s… a lot of ponies,” Derpy squeaked while peeking out from behind Dash.

“Well, at least we know where to go,” Dash turned and nodded to the rest of them. “Let’s follow the crowd,” she beckoned them as they slid into the flowing river moving towards the prime platform.

The crowd was dense but it was easy to stay together because they put Bulk in front. His girth effectively plowed a nice comfortable space for the other three to walk behind him. Dash eventually hopped up and stood on his shoulders as they moved. She wanted to make sure they didn’t just pass right by the Wonderbolts. After a rough walk, Dash caught glimpse of an even bigger crowd gathering and she was more than certain she could see Wonderbolt uniforms beyond it.

“Bulk! Thattaway!” she tapped the back of his head with one hoof and pointed with the other. Bulk blinked and spotted the larger crowd himself.

“YEAH!!!” he yelled as he shifted left, accidentally knocking two pegasi over as he did.

“Sorry,” Thunderlane apologized to the two as he followed behind Bulk’s new warpath through the crowd.

“Wow…” Dash’s mouth hung agape as she saw even more Pegasi pour from a Manehatten arrival platform. With their crowd and this new one there was effectively two hundred pegasi gathered at least. This was not going to be a cake walk. Dash already expected a challenge, but this only added to it.

“Alright, everypony shut their damn shit the hell up and listen!” A familiar voice rang out from above as they joined the massive gathering. Dash hopped down from Bulk’s back and looked up past the pony in front of her. It was… Spitfire? It looked like her: yellow body beneath the uniform and an orange blown back mane. Her voice was similar too, but… the Wonderbolt was moving sporadically, yelling obscenities with a hint of amusement in her voice, and was smirking in a devilish way Dash had never seen Spitfire do before. The rest of the pegasi seemed confused as well. Some of them stiffened, thinking it was Spitfire, others looked on in confusion.

Upon closer inspection of this Wonderbolt, Dash realized that a streak of yellow was missing from the mane. Wait! She knew this Wonderbolt! She was in the locker room during her visit. Plus, Dash knew the top squad rosters well. Before Dash could think further, a hoof reached up and yanked the Wonderbolt down with a yelp.

“Blaze!” Spitfire growled as she forced her down. Blaze turned while chuckling.

“I think I had ‘em all convinced!” she pounded her chest. “I dunno sis, I think I might go as you for next Nightmare Night.”

“How about you just stand still and await orders? For once?” Spitfire glared at her flatly.

“Pff…” Blaze scoffed. “Don’t suck the whole uniform up your ass while you’re at it,” she rolled her eyes as Spitfire ignored her and shoved her back towards squad two. Silver Lining quickly grabbed Blaze away from Spitfire and forced her to stand attention beside High Winds. Blaze pulled her ears up and stuck her tongue out at Silver Lining as he turned away from her.

Soarin chuckled as he watched Blaze before he turned his head back to the crowd. This was most certainly a massive turnout. Much larger than the last recruitment drive or any other he had worked in the past. As expected, he was getting a lot of weird looks from the crowd. He didn’t blame them, how often do you see an alicorn? Forget that the horn was a fake. They had no way of knowing.

His eyes passed over the crowd as Spitfire trotted back towards it. He was looking for a rainbow. She wasn’t up front, but once they started organizing, it’d be hard to miss. Rainbow Dash had to be here, why wouldn’t she?

Spitfire rose up above, taking Blaze’s place to address the crowd.

“Alright, everypony listen up!” she yelled out. Her voice was much more booming and influential than Blaze’s. The pegasi stiffened and looked to her, this time completely recognizing the lead captain of the Wonderbolts addressing them. “There’s a hell of a lot more of you then we anticipated. I’m only gonna say this once, so PAY ATTENTION!” she motioned her hooves to her right. “Everypony from Cloudsdale line up over here behind squad two!” as she ordered, the members of squad two stepped forward and put two feet in between themselves. “Everypony from Manehatten,” she pointed her hooves to her left, “line up behind squad three!” Squad three stepped forward just like two had. “Single file! One line behind each member! Make it snappy!” she clapped her hooves together.

“Uh…” Dash looked back and forth as the rest of the ponies began moving. She glanced back at her friends, who all shrugged, just as confused.

“Oh, and anypony from elsewhere, just stay put! The lead squad will put you together with our Canterlot Cadets when we get back!” Spitfire yelled out before lowering herself down and out of sight.

“Ah, there we go,” she chuckled as they waited. This made Dash a little curious. Manehatten and Cloudsdale had a huge turnout, but she wondered if anypony else besides them made the trip from somewhere small? The crowd slowly separated into the lines dictated by the elite squad members. Dash watched as the area around them cleared. It looked like they were going to be the only ones outside of the big cities. Talk about a let-down.

“Whoa!” Thunderlane suddenly reacted. Dash turned, but Bulk was in the way, so she took two steps forward and her eyes widened. There was another cadet that fit in their “category”.

Dash blinked as her eyes rested on a very large male griffon. That was putting it lightly. He was HUGE, about the size of Bulk. His body was jet black in both feathers and the fur of his lion half. At his neck, his feathers turned white, contrasting the rest of him. His eyes were bright red, stuck in an endless glare above his large golden beak. His golden eagle arms, lion legs, and whole damn body were very muscular and his massive wings looked like they could pick up Dash and crush her like a walnut. Everything about him just looked powerful.

He didn’t look at any of them as he stood attention. It had been a long time since Dash had seen a griffon. She was instantly reminded of Gilda, but she was like an ant compared to this guy. A griffon wanted to be a Wonderbolt? Griffons weren’t really known for fancy flying. They were much bulkier than pegasi and not very aerodynamic either. They did tend to have bigger and stronger wings, which was clear with this one, but besides that they really didn’t fit the mold. What an interesting scenario.

Upon examining her friends, none of them seemed sure of what to do. Dash took a quiet breath, and decided to introduce herself.

“Hey there!” She stepped around Bulk towards the griffon. He kept staring straight forward. Dash continued anyway. “Never thought I’d see a griffon here, I’m Rainbow Dash,” she held a hoof out, but he still didn’t budge. Now it just felt awkward. What was this guy’s deal?

“Matteo,” the griffon suddenly spoke in a very deep voice with a thick griffon homeland accent.

“Huh?” Dash blinked.

“My name,” he added, still while staring forward.

“Uh… yeah… cool,” Dash stepped back while biting her lower lip and raising an eyebrow. Thunderlane, Bulk and Derpy watched her awkwardly move back before Spitfire was suddenly upon them.

“Well, lookie here, I recognize a couple of faces,” she said as she got right up into Thunderlane’s face. They all stiffened as she walked her way past them. Dash smiled as Spitfire approached. Last time she saw her, Spitfire was in a bed, recovering from intense trauma. It was great to see her up and about. Dash got caught in the moment, a little too much.

“Sup, Spitfire?” she said quietly with a smile. Spitfire was more than close enough to hear it, but she ignored Dash and kept walking, not even so much as giving Dash a glance through her flight goggles. Dash blinked, feeling hurt for a moment, then realizing the situation. Spitfire didn’t ignore her per-se. They may have been friends for a while, but here she was the lead captain, and Dash was a cadet. Dash actually felt stupid for forgetting so quickly.

Dash looked straight forward as Spitfire examined each of them. Her eyes landed directly on somepony she had completely forgotten about in the moment. Her eyes widened and she smiled with a small blush across her cheeks.


Soarin stood beside Fleetfoot a few yards away from Spitfire. He had spotted Dash as soon as the groups had dispersed and he was trying his hardest to contain himself. He told Spitfire he would play this professionally, but he could barely contain his excitement upon seeing Dash.

He cringed slightly when he saw Dash try to converse with Spitfire. It looked like Dash was going to learn quickly that chain of command would take a large precedent over friendship during this event.

He wasn’t facing her, trying to keep the appearance up, but he couldn’t control his eyes. His eyes were locked on her and he hoped his goggles hid his eye movements enough. After how clear he made it to Spitfire about how hardnosed he would be, he felt like she was just looking for any reason to call him out on it.

“Eh…? Eeeeehhhhhhhh?” Fleetfoot suddenly cooed from close by. Soarin glanced at her briefly and saw her making wing motions towards him and slight head motions towards Dash. He held his breath and tried not to react. Fleetfoot knew she was pushing it. Spitfire would eat her alive if she was caught goofing off, but Fleetfoot would never pass up a chance to harass Soarin, ever.

Dash looked at him.

It made his wing feathers tingle in place when she did. He wanted so badly to drop the professionalism, charge up to her, hug her as tightly as he could, and most likely kiss her too. But he had to restrain himself.

Then he noticed an extreme look of confusion on her face. Upon closer inspection, her eyes were diverted to slightly above his face. Soarin sighed.

Of course.

The horn.

Dash blinked multiple times, switching which eyebrow she had raised and tipping her head from side to side every couple of seconds.

Seriously, what? Why did Soarin have a horn? Dash found herself both confused, and snickering. She was bewildered, but the first thing that popped into her head was…

Princess Soarin.

The thought was much more amusing than it should have been. Honestly though, he had to have a reason. Pegasi don’t just grown horns, and Soarin wasn’t the kind to joke around like this, unless of course, he lost a huge bet with Fleetfoot or something. She was sure she’d find out everything later, but seriously. Her stallion had apparently become royalty, or so it appeared. Gahhhh, she wanted to know. She also couldn’t help but giggle to herself a little. She could see Soarin’s eyes darting between her and looking straight forward. They were moving so rapidly that she could actually see it beneath his goggles. Spitfire may be holding it in, but Soarin sure couldn’t.

Dash flinched as she heard Spitfire speaking again. Spitfire had slowly made her way down the line of the “extra” recruits and stopped when something really caught her interest.

“Hello, what have we here?” Spitfire stopped when she eyed Matteo. “This is a new one,” she commented as she eyed the large griffon before her. “All the way from the griffon kingdom… you’ve definitely caught my attention by default,” she tipped her goggles down and stared up into his eyes as he looked down at her. “You have me curious… are you lost? This is the Wonderbolt tryouts, not the Sky Wings.” His eyes sharpened into an intense glare as she brought up something called the Sky Wings. Dash tipped her head and kept one ear straight up to listen further. “Did I hit a soft spot?” Spitfire didn’t budge an inch beneath his crushing stare. “Fine, you’ve made your point Feathers… I’m not gonna stop anypony or anything from trying out. I guess we’ll just have to see if you have the skill to match that death glare you’re giving me,” Spitfire finished as she lifted off high above the full crowd again.

“Hmph,” Matteo simply grunted in response.

“Attention!” she yelled out. The lines of pegasi froze on cue. Dash quickly followed suit. She didn’t want to make any more silly mistakes. “The tryouts begin tomorrow! Today will be for getting situated in the compound! It’s gonna be cramped, but you’re the ones who decided to roll an army into the station!” she flew in a slow circle as she addressed the crowd. “Now stay put for a minute, then we’ll be on our way!” she landed upon finishing, beckoning the other squads in as she landed. The other squad members trotted over to her.

Dash eyed squad two. She was very familiar with squad three since her last visit. The only one she really had any exposure to was Wave Chill, and all she got from him so far was he was a meek, yet stiff-ass soldier that had the hots for Spitfire.

Speaking of Spitfire, Dash began to worry about her first slip up. Spitfire was clearly doing this by the book. Dash hoped her little attempt at conversing didn’t put her in a tight spot from the get-go. Spitfire wouldn’t do that to her, would she? Well, Spitfire was very professional. Maybe she cared about Dash as a friend, but when it came to this kind of stuff she had to drop all connections. After all, it wouldn’t be fair to the other cadets if Spitfire showed favor to one.

Did this mean that ALL of the Wonderbolts had to be approached this way? Even… Soarin? It felt wrong. She had made good friends with more than a few of them. Something about a friendly environment becoming a hostile one was a little unnerving, and something she most certainly wasn’t prepared for.

Squad three walked past them as they moved in to converse with Spitfire. Fire Streak walked by in front. Dash smiled at him, but he kept his eyes forward. Not even a glance. She felt slightly crushed as she followed him with her eyes. This almost hit Dash harder than Spitfire. The time she had spent with them was almost more personal than that spent with the lead members. She thought being on a first name basis with most of them would be a blessing, but instead it only made her feel neglected.

Dash flinched and yelped quietly as she felt something brush against her side. It felt like a tail. She quickly looked back forward to see Misty Fly passing. Misty turned her head slightly, smiled, tipped her goggles up, and winked at Dash before quickly going back into professional mode.

Dash could almost feel the weight being catapulted off her chest. Misty’s little gesture almost completely turned her swirling thoughts in the opposite direction. Spitfire and Fire Streak were just being professional. None of them wanted to treat her this way, they just couldn’t show favor. It was part of their job. Dash kind of already figured that, but it didn’t stop it from hurting a little at first. Leave it to Misty Fly to make her feel all better. She had a knack for doing that. Dash was glad to see them again. It was under different circumstances, but she was really, truly glad to see them again, especially Soarin. Now she just had to wow them.

“Oof!” Dash grunted as somepony clumsily bumped into her in a way that felt completely intentional. She looked away from Misty and back forward to see Lightning Streak passing by. He slightly tipped his head towards her, put his hoof to his ear, and mouthed the words: “call me babe.”

Okay, so maybe she was happy to see almost all of them again.

Dash watched as Spitfire gave out orders to each squad quickly and efficiently. It wasn’t long before they dispersed again.

“Alright everypony! Stay in line behind your designated elite squad member! Let’s move!” she called out and beckoned the small group to follow her, Soarin, and Fleetfoot.

It was a mass exodus from the prime platform, spelling relief for any other ponies trying to use the station. Dash’s heart began pounding again in excitement. Thanks to Misty Fly, all the sudden anxiety nearly faded. There was a little lingering, but it was nothing compared to the approaching thrill. Dash glanced back at Thunderlane, Bulk, and Derpy. They all looked the same as her. Dash really did appreciate them coming out. They all knew their chances were low compared to her, but they wanted to share the experience with her.

And what an experience it was bound to be.

---To Be Continued---

Chapter 8: Piling into the Barracks

View Online

Piercing the Heavens
By: Calm Wind

Chapter 8:

The elite Wonderbolts each lead their single file line of cadets out of the station and into the streets of Canterlot’s high end district. Soarin and Fleetfoot flew above to make sure all the cadets moved in an orderly fashion, and that no fights broke out.

Soarin remembered last year’s recruitment drive well. While there weren’t even half as many ponies as there were here, he had to break up three fights, all between stallions of course. While mares also showed disdain for each other, it tended to be more of a silent fury and full of cheap shots as opposed to full out brawling like the stallions. Competition ran extremely high during this annual event, and more often than not, it would start before they even reached the compound.

This year however, it seemed like everypony was behaving themselves. Perhaps the prospect of being let directly into the elite squads kept them calm. This was a golden opportunity, and none of them were willing to put their chances in danger. They understood that gaining the favor of the lead squad would not be easy. Causing problems would make a cadet instantly disregarded for sure.

Spitfire had a keen eye on all of them from the get-go, as did Soarin and Fleetfoot. Everything would be taken into account.

Although while Soarin was supposed to be keeping his full attention on the cadets below, he kept stealing glances towards Dash every time he passed. This sucked. She was right there and he couldn’t even say hello. He hoped she wasn’t having as hard a time as him.

Dash’s eyes widened as the whole gang came to a stop a few blocks from the compound. A whole other group of ponies filed in behind her, her friends, and Matteo. It was the Canterlot cadets. There were effectively three hundred ponies here at least. The tryouts were only supposed to last a few days!

Dash also knew a little bit about the Wonderbolt recruit squads. There were currently seven of them. The Wonderbolts never had more than ten recruit squads. Whenever they recruited, they accepted only twenty recruits, which got shaved down during the first month of training. The last five left officially became part of the Wonderbolts in a five pony squad that backed up the elite squads. The current recruits were sure to be trying out as well. They were safe, even if they didn’t get the elite spot they’d just be sent back to the recruit barracks. The three hundred or so new cadets didn’t have that luxury.

This meant that over the course of a few days, the Wonderbolts were going to send home around two hundred and seventy-nine of the ponies gathered here. Of the twenty-one left, one would be given the elite spot (unless it was taken by a recruit). Of the remaining twenty, fifteen would be sent home after more intense training, leaving only five.

Dash gulped as she did the math. There was a reason the Wonderbolts were such unbelievable flyers. Just getting in their lowest ranks was nigh impossible. Only the strongest and most unique flyers had even the slightest chance.

With the group now as full as it was going to get, the Wonderbolts led them down the last few blocks until they finally reached the Wonderbolt compound.

It just as awesome as Dash remembered it. It only seemed like yesterday she was here taking part in a training day and getting to know the Wonderbolts much more closely than most others. She’d never forget those days, but this was no time to reminisce. They were filed into the lobby in a fast, orderly manner.

They stayed in their lines as they were led up to what looked like small ticket dispensers that had been rolled in. The members of squad one, two, and three were all handed small clipboards and directed each of their lines to a dispenser. After molding into the crowd from Canterlot, Dash, Thunderlane, Derpy, and Bulk had formed the front of the line behind Spitfire. Matteo had been pulled into the line following Fleetfoot, but they didn’t exactly lose him. It was hard to miss him from anywhere, being a tank…and a griffon on top of that.

“Listen up!” Spitfire’s voice echoed into the corners of the lobby as she leapt up into the air again. “Everypony stay in line! We’re going to hand out bunk assignments in our recruit barracks! After you get your number, go through these doors behind me!” she motioned to a large set of multiple doors that were on the opposite side of the main entrance.

Dash had been down the long hallways to the left and right, which lead to all the facilities, but she had never seen the recruit barracks. It was a smaller section of the building that extended out the back end of it, flanked by the combat dome on one side and the mess hall on the other.

“If you get there and you have no bed in your bunk spot, be patient dammit! We’re in the process of letting our staff, chefs, and maintenance crew all know how screwed they are!” she said with a straight face as Fleetfoot snickered below. “Get situated! Then use the rest of the day to figure out the compound! I don’t want anyone slowing us down tomorrow because they don’t know where the hell to go! We have enough problems to sort out as is! Lunch is at noon and dinner is at five!” Spitfire finished and dropped down in front of Dash and began fiddling with the ticket machine. Dash waited patiently as the front of their line, glancing over at Soarin, who was on the other side of Fleetfoot.

Her view was obstructed by Fleetfoot, but she got a closer look at Soarin now. She was still beyond confused by the horn, but forget whatever the hell the horn’s purpose was for now, she was taking in a view she hadn’t seen for a while. A sexy view. She bit her lower lip as her eyes ran over his face and down to his muscular body. He was wearing the spandex uniform, and as Dash remembered well from herself trying one on, they really put emphasis on the muscles, and boy did he have great muscles. Damn, she’d love to help him out of that uniform right now… slowly.

“Alright! First up!” Spitfire tapped the machine beside her as the other Wonderbolts began handing out the numbered tickets. Dash flinched and quickly looked straight forward at Spitfire. Spitfire was glaring at her, but it was a glare Dash had seen in the past. It was the business glare.

Be serious. Don’t act buddy-buddy. You’re a friend of hers elsewhere, but right now you are a cadet. Dash’s thoughts coached her as she took a deep breath and stepped forward. She looked directly at Spitfire, but didn’t say a word or smile. Spitfire pressed a button on the machine, a ticket with a blue number thirty-two on it popped out. She handed it to Dash, their hoofs clicking together as it was passed. Spitfire wrote something down on her clipboard beside her and made a head motion to start walking. Dash kept her poise and started moving.

“That’s more like it Dash.”

“Huh?” Dash stopped in her tracks. She glanced back at Spitfire.

“Next!” Spitfire yelled as Thunderlane approached her shakily. Dash blinked as she looked straight ahead. She definitely did not imagine it. A small smile curled on her lips as she trotted towards the barracks. This was Spitfire’s job. She had to be strict and run things with an iron hoof, but it didn’t mean she still wasn’t the kind, awesome mare Dash knew her to be.

“What the…” were the only words that escaped Dash’s lips as she stepped through the doors. It was a single hallway about twelve yards wide, painted completely blue like the rest of the damn compound, with three doors on each side about twenty yards apart each, and a dead end. This was nothing out of the ordinary. Dash figured the doors led to where the recruits stayed. There could be up to ten recruit squads, meaning probably two or three squads could occupy one room at a time if need be. Spitfire used the term “bunks” so Dash figured it could be at least ten to fifteen per room.

This wasn’t what had stopped her. The hallway was a warzone. Wonderbolt staff members were running everywhere, pulling bunk frames and mattresses out of closets and from other access hallways and scrambling to put them together. Bunks were being lined up along the walls of the main hallway outside of the rooms. The staff was yelling and screaming at each other, tempers were flaring, and Dash was sure she saw a pony deck another one with a swing of a mattress in frustration.

As Dash took a few steps in, a small pegasus stallion ducked beneath two staff members carrying a mattress, He was a mustard yellow color, with a short brown mane and matching short brown tail. He was a little smaller than Dash, and rather skinny. His cutie mark was three small blue gears attached together.

“Excuse me,” Dash tried to say something to him, but he was busy looking back at the two ponies he had just walked past. Dash was about to try again, but he ran square into her chest.

“Ah!” he squeaked and took a very fast step backwards. He stared slightly up at her with his yellow eyes, which shrunk upon him looking Dash up and down.

“I’m confused, what’s going on in…” Dash tried to ask, but he darted around her and escaped through the doors she just came through. “Uh… okay,” Dash looked back at the cacophony before her as a few more cadets including Thunderlane entered and joined her in her confusion. One of the staff members glanced at them.

“Son of a bitch, they’re already coming in! GET THOSE DAMN BEDS UP!” He yelled to the rest as the scrambling continued.

Ah, so that was it. There were so many recruits that they had to set up extra beds in the hallway. By the looks of things, this was going to be pretty cramped at first. The staff member who had just yelled trudged up to them, a look of pure annoyance plastered to his face.

“The number on your ticket will be taped to the wall next to your bunk ON THE RIGHT. Not the left, THE RIGHT. Go to your spot and wait if you don’t have a bunk. Just please, please, please stay the hell out of our way!” he turned, stopped, and glanced back. “And pass that back. I’m not explaining it again,” he disappeared into the carnage.

“Uh…” Dash glanced behind her as the group behind her grew. “Okay then!” she tried her best to avoid any moving bed frames and mattresses as she advanced into the hallway.

Dash found her bunk, luckily set up and ready to be used, about halfway down the hall with the door to the second room on the right a foot away to the bunk’s left. A large “32” was taped to the wall with blue duct tape to the right of the bed. She quickly slid out of the aisle in the center to avoid getting in the way and tossed her duffle bag onto the bottom bunk.

Under normal circumstances she would’ve gone right for the top, especially since she had such early dibs, but she went for the bottom. She was known for being a little twitchy when she slept, something Soarin knew well due to her accidentally “ringing his bells” one morning with a kick before she woke. She didn’t want to shift and slide out of bed. She couldn’t afford to have any bruises or soreness from something stupid like falling out of the top bunk.

Beside the bunk there was a simple nightstand with two large drawers. Obviously, these would be shared. The stand itself was about two feet wide, almost completely filling the mere three feet of space between the head of her bunk, and bunk number thirty-one. Dash opened the bottom drawer and unzipped her bag to unload the contents, which wasn’t very much. Flight goggles, toiletries, Daring Do and the Quest for the Sapphire Stone, and…

Dash slowly pulled out the framed picture of her and Soarin. A wave of quiet motivation rushed through her as her eyes scanned it. This was it, this was real, she was here and her dream was in her grasp. She looked back and forth to make sure nopony, ABSOLUTELY nopony could see her, before planting a small kiss on the picture over Soarin’s face.

This would have to be kept secret. The Wonderbolts were aware of their relationship, but the cadets didn’t need to know. She was sure at least one out of the three hundred or so here would try to use it against her in some way, shape, or form. She quickly lifted up the copy of Daring Do and slid the picture beneath it.

“You’ve gotta be kidding me! Both of you got this number!?”

Dash flinched and turned around quickly. The voice wasn’t directed at her, she looked through a few bed frames to her left as ponies kept filing in. Her eyes landed on Bulk Biceps and Matteo standing side by side, staring at one bunk, with a staff member looking at them incredulously. Beside them was a bed frame that was bent and falling apart, suggesting one of the two hulks had already tried it.

“Uh… yeah?” Bulk confirmed as he and Matteo held their tickets out for the staff to see. The pegasus smacked his face with his hoof while growling and pulling his face down.

“Is Rivet still in here?!” he yelled to the other workers. They all stopped briefly and looked around, all shaking their heads. “Dammit… somepony go tell him we need a very large bed frame… made with steel beams like the ones on the lobby ceiling!” A couple of laughs came from the workers as one of them trotted towards the entrance. “And tell him I’m not kidding!” he added before rushing off elsewhere. Through the whole exchange, Matteo just stared at the bed and grunted once or twice in annoyance.

Dash snickered at the ridiculous scenario. What were the odds of the two largest cadets getting the same bunk? She was sure there would be much more hilarity to come. This was going to make for some great stories to tell in the future.

“Like, move it!” a high, sassy voice came from Dash’s right as somepony forced her out of the way.

“Oof!” Dash grunted as she grabbed the bed frame with her wing to balance herself. A pure white pegasus mare with a straight, icy blue mane had just forced her way past Dash and tossed her bag up on the top bunk. It actually looked more like a large purse than a bag.

“Uh…” Dash cocked an eyebrow. The mare paused and turned to Dash. Her eyes were as ice blue as her mane, but she was wearing the most ridiculous fake eyelashes Dash had ever seen. They were almost longer than Rarity’s. “Hi, we must be bunkmates,” Dash forced a smile despite the rude entrance and held a hoof to her.

“Duh!” The mare rolled her eyes and opened the bottom drawer. She scoffed when she saw Dash’s stuff in it, slammed it shut and opened the top to stuff her things in. Dash scrunched her face.

“Um… I’m...” Dash tried to start again, but the mare turned quickly to her.

“I’m Arctic Blast, better remember that name, cause you’ll be seeing it in the newspapers real soon with the Wonderbolts!” she exclaimed right into Dash’s face. Dash stood still with her mouth hanging open and quite possibly one of the most disturbed faces she had ever mustered. Was this mare for real?

“I’m Rainbow…”

“Don’t care!” Arctic whisked her mane around, batting Dash in the face with it as she turned. Dash shook her face out and just stared in disbelief. Great, talk about luck of the draw for a bunkmate. She already saw the dilemma Bulk was in, but she hoped Derpy and Thunderlane at least had better luck.

Dash decided to not even try, and flopped down into her bed as Arctic continued to stuff things into the top drawer. So many beauty supplies… Did Rarity get a mane dye, lose her horn, grow wings, and become a MASSIVE bitch? Seriously Dash had never gotten a worse first impression from a pony before in her life.

Dash’s eyes widened as Arctic suddenly pulled out and unrolled a huge poster. Dash was well aware that the Elite Wonderbolts were featured in many athletic magazines. There was a particular magazine that did an annual “beach” photo shoot. Spitfire and Fleetfoot had been featured in the last one. Dash found it very amusing that Spitfire posed for a sexy sports photo. She probably found a reason to refer to it as “business.” Fleetfoot was no surprise at all. However this image on the wall was from this year’s issue, as the date in the corner suggested. It had been blown up to be poster sized… and it was a picture of Soarin.

Soarin was standing up from the water, little streams falling from over him, suggesting it had been taken as he was standing up. He wasn’t facing the camera, but looking off to the left, with his large, powerful wings spread out. The picture had to have been taken with a super-high definition camera, because you could see the individual droplets of water dripping from his wet mane and falling down his body.

Dash’s wings started twitching uncontrollably and her face felt hot. That body… oh, that body. His incredible muscles were all wet in high definition… Contain yourself Dash, no spontaneous explosions, there are others around! Her brain fought against her hormones, but seriously, she had to find this magazine now in case there was more of this eye candy.

“Hmmmmmmmm…” Dash was broken from her daze as she heard Arctic sigh dreamily at the poster. Arctic turned slightly and saw Dash’s full body reaction to the poster. “Hey!” she quickly flared her wings out to block Dash’s view of the poster. “Eyes off my stallion!” she huffed while glaring at Dash. Dash blinked multiple times.

YOUR stallion?” she said with a sarcastic voice. Arctic completely missed the sarcasm as she turned sharply back to the poster and clasped her hooves together.

“He’s the sexiest, DREAMIEST stallion EVER! And he’ll be all mine when I become a Wonderbolt!” she nearly squealed as she spoke. Dash stared blankly for a few seconds.

“Pfffff,” Dash felt laughter building in her. Seriously? For real? This mare had no idea, absolutely no idea. Arctic turned to her in confusion as she heard Dash snickering.


“HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!” Dash burst out with uncontrollable laughter. Arctic continued to eye her, not a clue in the spacious brain of hers.

“Like, what are you laughing at?” she asked angrily. Dash finally calmed herself down.

“Hoooheeeehehehe,” she shook her head and took a breath. “Nothing, nothing at all. Just…” Dash glanced up at the sexy poster of her stallion and snickered again. “Good luck with that!” Dash gave a fake salute and rested her hooves behind her head while laying back, a huge smile plastered to her face.

“Psh, weirdo,” Arctic went back to admiring “her” stallion.

Dash wanted so badly to burst this bitch’s bubble something fierce, but she had just decided to keep it under wraps for her own sake. She wasn’t going to go back on that so quickly. One thing was for certain however, she was going to get tired of this bunkmate of hers real fast. With any luck she and her sass would be gone after the first cut. Maybe Dash would try to swipe the poster and hide it before that happened.

This was shaping up to be an interesting experience… and so far all Dash had done was get assigned a bed.

---To be Continued---

Chapter 9: Unsubtle Fraternizing

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Piercing the Heavens
By: Calm Wind

Chapter 9:

Dash was lucky to get into the barracks before the hilarity and insanity of the whole damn cadet group came pouring through the doors. However, she was effectively stuck in her bunk. Could she have flown out? Definitely not. Some of the pegasi just trying to get in had the same idea. So she was forced to wait until all the ponies were in and settled before she could even think about going elsewhere. She was also stuck with a swooning top bunk, self-centered, make-up experiment gone horribly wrong, who kept sighing at a poster of Dash’s stallion.

Well, at least the poster was there. Dash had plenty of fun admiring the sexy body of Soarin taped to the wall. All of that gorgeous hunk was hers. Oh, how she wanted to ruin Arctic Blast’s life… A pony like her deserved a reality check to the teeth.

She also got quite a kick out of the bed they rolled into the place for Bulk and Matteo. It was literally made with thick steel beams and effectively scrunched the spaces between their bunk and those flanking it much smaller. The exasperated dismay of the ponies that had the two juggernauts as neighbors gave Dash a chuckle or two.

But back to the poster. This GLORIOUS poster. She hated having to be all serious. Soarin was so close by and she couldn’t do a thing about it. Plus, what was up with the horn? Forget it, she just wanted to talk with him, hang with him, and… do other things.

With her eyes overdosed on eye-candy, Dash was able to somewhat wait comfortably until it was time for lunch.

Since Bulk was nearby, she easily got a hold of him so she could at least eat with a friend. They had effectively lost Thunderlane and Derpy, and hoped the two would find their way to them. Just like with the bunks, Dash made a point to be one of the first to the mess hall. She didn’t like the idea of waiting for food like it was a ride at an amusement park.

“Yeesh, glad we got here early…” Dash commented as she watched the line for food quickly extend out the entrance. Just like the staff members assembling the beds, the chefs were going absolutely nuts. Dash wondered how the Wonderbolts didn’t see this coming. They were offering a free ride through their recruitment process right into their elite squads. Any pegasi with the right desire would jump at this opportunity.

Dash and Bulk carried their trays over to a random table. They were all vacant, so they just claimed the first one that piqued their interest for no particular reason. Dash spotted Thunderlane near the front of the line right before Bulk sat down and completely blocked her view of the entrance. Dash peeked around him to take another look, but didn’t see Derpy anywhere.

Dash hoped she would be okay. Of the three who decided to join her on this tryout run, she worried the most about Derpy. Thunderlane wasn’t the best flyer, but he wasn’t bad by any means. In fact he was very strong willed, and more often than not was able to power through things despite the difficulty. Bulk… well, he was sturdy. He couldn’t fly very well, but he was really strong. If anything he’d be noticed for his massive appearance and great strength.

But Derpy? She didn’t really have many talents. She was an average flyer, but had a tendency to never fly completely straight. She was also a bit… clumsy, for lack of a better word, a class-A klutz actually. It was IMPOSSIBLE to hate her because of how adorable and sincere she was to everypony around her, but she was very accident prone and had a knack for getting others caught up in her follies. Dash hoped to Celestia that Derpy had a bottom bunk. She’d fall out of the top bunk about twenty times per night if she was stuck in one.

“So Bulk,” Dash began as she eyed the food: steamed broccoli, undercooked spaghetti marinara, and grilled chicken. Again with the chicken, she had a feeling they’d be getting it a lot. “I see you and… Mattato? What was his name?”

“Matteo, I think,” Bulk answered as he stuffed the whole chicken breast in his mouth at once.

“Talk about bad luck, they had to get you guys a custom bed,” she chuckled as she started on her broccoli. “Talk to him at all? Did he actually say anything?”

“Er… not really. He kinda scares me man… every time I get pumped he gives me the stink eye,” Bulk tried to imitate Matteo’s glare, but without the beak the sharpness of the effect was lost.

“I doubt we’ll be getting much out of him. He looks like he’s got a chip on his shoulder about something. I wonder what Spitfire was talking about… what are the Sky Wings?” she wondered out loud as she prodded the spaghetti. It was so underdone it looked like it could bounce off the floor.

“I’ve seen more appetizing meals while dumping my trash out…” Thunderlane’s voice came from behind Bulk as he stepped around the table and took a seat next to Dash.

“You made it,” Dash chuckled as she checked the line again. “I don’t think Derpy was so lucky.”

“I saw her before I left the barracks,” Thunderlane spoke up and looked towards the line himself. “I was gonna grab her, but she was talking to some stallion. Might be her bunkmate. I didn’t want to interrupt.”

“Derpy getting fresh with the competition?” Dash lifted an eyebrow. Thunderlane chuckled.

“Knowing her she was probably asking him random questions, you know how curious she can be,” Thunderlane stuck his tongue out slightly as he eyed his broccoli.

“Speaking of bunkmates, how is yours?” Dash purposely kept asking, hoping to avoid talking about Arctic Ass Blast. Thunderlane blinked as he let the broccoli slip back onto his plate.

“I wish I could tell you. I think he’s got a few screws loose,” Thunderlane cringed.

“How so?” Dash was curious. Did Thunderlane have worse luck than her?

“Well, I grabbed the top bunk and got comfortable. When he showed up, after putting his stuff away, all he did was Kilroy stare at me creepily over the edge of my bed. It was awkward as hell,” Thunderlane leaned to look around Bulk. “Oh god, there he is,” he pointed. Dash leaned over as well. Thunderlane pointed towards a neon green stallion with a blue mane that looked to have a mind of its own. It was sticking in all directions and had more split ends than a splintered wooden board. His cutie mark was a tornado… with trees flying out of it. His eyes were opened wide constantly and his mouth was always curled into a disturbing smirk. “All I got out of him was his name is Twister. After that he just eyeballed me like he wanted to spoon or something,” Thunderlane quickly ducked back behind Bulk so his odd bunkmate wouldn’t see him.

“He looks like a clown put through a wood chipper…” Dash joked while snickering. Bulk nearly choked on his spaghetti while laughing, quickly grabbing for his glass of water and pounding down the contents.

“So what about your bunkmate?” Thunderlane asked, much to Dash’s dismay. Dash groaned and let her head lightly smack against the table. “That bad, huh? Dare I ask?”

“I’m probably gonna murder her in her sleep,” Dash said with a tone that sounded very believable. “She’s by far the bitchiest mare I have ever met in my life. She introduced herself as the new elite Wonderbolt and didn’t even let me tell her my name,” Dash suddenly smirked. “But I already got a way to blow her mind eventually.”

“Careful Dash, I don’t think pranks will be taken too kindly here,” Thunderlane chuckled as he finally took a bite of his food in disgust. Dash shook her head.

“Oh no, this will be much better,” she winked at Thunderlane. “She brought along a huge blown up poster of Soarin,” Thunderlane stopped mid-chew and lifted an eyebrow. “She’s calling him her stallion.”

“Oh, what a small world,” Thunderlane chuckled.

“I plan on letting her think she has a chance, then laying it on real thick. A little payback for the wonderful first impression she gave me,” Dash rubbed her hooves together sinisterly.

“Hiii~” a familiar goofy voice caught their attention. Derpy appeared from around Bulk, carrying a tray with three muffins on it. She sat right down next to Bulk. Dash looked at Derpy’s tray.

“Derpy where did…”

“Muffin button.”

“Of course…” Dash just let it happen as Derpy grabbed one and happily bit into it. Something was odd about Derpy. Both Dash and Thunderlane picked up on it. Bulk was too busy stuffing his face with broccoli to notice. She had an incredibly dreamy look in her eyes, a light blush lingering over her cheeks, and her wings were slowly unfolding.

“Are you okay Derpy?” Thunderlane spoke up. Derpy looked up from her muffin and smiled so wide her face nearly stretched.

“I’m more than perfect!” she almost yelled out as her wings fluttered at her sides. Dash and Thunderlane glanced at each other in confusion. Derpy suddenly looked to her left and released a very quiet, high pitched squeal. Dash followed her eyes to a stallion sitting down with a few other cadets a few tables away. He was brown with a blown back yellow mane that was similar to Soarin’s, but not quite as wild. He was pretty big, not quite Bulk Biceps big, but around Soarin big and pretty well built too. His cutie mark was a thundercloud with two lightning bolts firing out of it.

“Hey! That’s the stallion you were talking to,” Thunderlane mentioned as he also followed Derpy’s eyes. Derpy sighed and took another happy bite out of her muffin.

“Bunkmate?” Dash asked simply as she finished off her food and pushed the tray away. Derpy bounced up and down in her seat.

“Yes!” she squealed as she hugged the muffin to her chest, squishing it against her. “Oopsie…”

“Looks like one of us got lucky,” Thunderlane chuckled. “I take it he’s nice?”

“He’s so sweet,” Derpy blushed harder as she wiped the muffin crumbs out of her fur. “He was already there when I got to the bunk. His name is Storm Front… he greeted me and introduced himself… his voice was so calm and caring,” she swooned harder. “He already had the bottom bunk… so I took the top,” Derpy’s ears drooped. “I tried to get my stuff situated, but I fell off…” her ears shot right back up. “He was up so fast, asking me if I was hurt. I was okay… but then I fell out again…” she blushed sheepishly, “but he caught me! He was watching to make sure I didn’t fall again!” she sighed and slowly laid the side of her head on the table, staring in Storm Front’s direction. “Then he offered me the bottom bunk, even though he was already settled in, because he didn’t want me to get hurt…”

Dash, Thunderlane, and Bulk all blinked and glanced at each other as Derpy looked like her fur would grow three feet and float her away as a big ball of fluff.

“Wow Derpy, you’re gonna burn a hole through the table if you keep swooning like that,” Dash chuckled as she rested her head in her hoofs.

“I’ve never met such a kind pony before… he didn’t even ask about my eyes…” Derpy sighed again before moving her head up and happily nomming one of her muffins without using her hooves.

The other three shared a good laugh. They had hardly been there half a day and they were already having fun of all types. Dash ran through the names in her head.


Storm Front.


Arctic Blast.

Only four out of three hundred, but all so unique in their own way. Every pegasus here probably had their own story. She was no exception. These tryouts would be a challenge. What kind of challenge? She had no way of knowing until tomorrow.

“Make yourself familiar with the compound.”

Those were Spitfire’s words. For the rest of the cadets it made perfect sense, but for Dash it meant nothing to do for six hours between lunch and dinner. She already knew the rest of the compound back to front. She could go back and read her Daring Do book… but the less time spent in the possible company of Arctic Blast, the better.

She decided to go for a walk through the compound anyway. She thought maybe she could run into some familiar Wonderbolts, but then she quickly remembered the professional air they had to keep up during this event. She doubted any of them would talk to her to keep any rumors of “favor” down. Whatever, it would be a nostalgia walk. She could go around and remember the fun times she had her last visit.

The Wonderbolt’s gave no restrictions on where they were allowed to go. Almost the entirety of the cadet group was moving to and fro on the first floor where all the facilities were. To get away from the swarm and enjoy a little bit of silence, Dash made her way up the stairs to the second and third floors.

There wasn’t much besides the dormitory style rooms for the elite squadrons. Spitfire’s office was on the second floor, but the door was shut. Dash sighed, realizing this little walk was barely going to shave off an hour, but she decided to walk the third floor anyway. Of course there was something very important on the third floor.

Soarin’s room to be exact. Not like he would actually be there, nor was she in a position to knock without being seen.

Dash trotted slowly down the hall of the third floor, stopping right in front of Soarin’s door. She blinked at first glance, eyeing a white sheet of paper that was taped above his nameplate. She looked back and forth before reaching up and lifting it. She had to hold in laughter as she saw the word “princess.” Dash didn’t have to think long. Fleetfoot. Definitely Fleetfoot’s work.

Despite the possibility of being seen, she contemplated knocking on his door. Her morals were conflicting. Part of her didn’t think it would hurt to try. The other half was telling her she was out of her damn mind, taking such a risk.

She sighed as the more reasonable choice won her over. Besides, he was probably down on the first floor. He was either helping with tryout preparations or working out.


Now she had the sudden urge to check the gym. After staring at the poster of him for a good few hours earlier, the thought of seeing him all pumped and sweaty sounded like a delicious meal for her eyes.

Again though, she had to be careful. She would have to just deal with it. She didn’t get to see him often, but she wouldn’t forget the importance of being discreet in these circumstances. She sighed and turned away from his door.

“Huh? AH!” Dash yelped as she ran face first into a large wing. It was about an inch from her eyes the moment she turned. Before she could do anything else, the wing closed around her. She yelped as she got dragged along, unable to see anything. She heard a door open and close as she struggled. The grip of the wing suddenly loosened. She thrust her arms and wings out, and instinctively threw a punch towards whoever was just forced her along.

A hoof reached up and caught hers right before it connected with the owner’s face.

“Saw that coming this time.”

That voice…

Dash’s eyes widened and she gasped. The hoof holding hers was light blue. She had been pulled into a very familiar room. She pulled her hoof back…

She looked directly into the eyes of Soarin.

“Hey Dashie,” he said with a smile. He was out of uniform, and right in front of her. Dash didn’t hesitate.

She reached forward, grabbed his face, and yanked it towards hers, crashing their lips together fiercely. Soarin chuckled beneath the kiss and wrapped his arms around her as she forced his back up against the wall. She pulled back quickly and glared at him.

“What the hell? I thought somepony was trying to molest me!” she pouted.

“Maybe I was?” he bounced his eyebrows. Dash’s pout was overtaken by a smirk.

“Jerk,” she closed the gap again. She kissed him passionately, releasing a moan of delight as he rubbed his hooves over her back and gently brushed over her sweet spots beneath her wings. He pushed her away gently.

“I think we did this out of order,” he chuckled. “How are you? I’ve missed you.”

“I was getting to that,” Dash snorted while pressing herself into him hard. “I’m so glad to see you, and I freaking miss your guts every single day,” she nuzzled the bottom of his chin.

“I kind of wanted to do this earlier…” Soarin sighed. “I’m sure you’ve noticed though, I’m trying to keep the professional act up. It’d be pretty bad if we started making out in the middle of the cadet crowd,” he chuckled as she let go of him.

“I know somepony I wouldn’t mind seeing it…” Dash grumbled while rolling her eyes.

“Huh?” Soarin tipped his head. Dash looked into his eyes, and then tipped her head slightly up to see the horn. She finally got a good look at it. It was fake, as she thought, strapped to his head. Just… what?

“Alright Soarin, care to explain that?” she pointed to the horn. Soarin sighed.

“I was hoping you wouldn’t ask. It’s kind of a long story. I don’t want to keep you in here too long in case Spitfire comes to the door…” he rambled. Dash tapped a hoof against the floor.

“Got a short version? I’m curious about when you got decided to be a princess,” she said with a snicker.

“God, both you and Fleet…” Soarin scrunched his face. “Short version? Well… The dark magic in my body was gonna kill me. If I could use magic it wouldn’t. This is a fake horn, but it’s an ancient artifact that let’s non-unicorns use magic. I have to use it a few times per day to avoid the magic overwhelming me. That’s about as simple as I can… Dash?” he blinked as she stared at him wide eyed.

“You had me at… it was gonna kill you. Soarin! You… You are going to be alright aren’t you!?” she quickly put her hooves up on his shoulders, a look of terrified concern in her eyes. Soarin smiled warmly. He reached out and drew Dash into his arms, hugging her as tightly as he could.

“I’m going to be perfectly fine as long as I do what I need to do with this horn,” he gave her an extra squeeze, “but thanks for being so concerned. You know I love that about you.”

“Sheesh, you really can’t catch a break can you?” Dash commented as she found a way to reach her arms around him and return his embrace. “I feel like every time we meet something’s not going right.”

“You’ve never complained about a little spice in life,” Soarin joked. He felt Dash shake slightly in his arms as she giggled.

“With you I think spice is putting it lightly… try a brick wall to the face around every corner,” she joked right back as the two shared a good laugh. Soarin released her, but she stared up at the horn. “So… you can use magic then?” she asked out of curiosity. Soarin smiled and nodded.

“I’ve only learned some extreme basics… it was hard at first but I think I’m getting it down,” Soarin closed his eyes as he finished. Dash’s eyes widened slightly as she watched the horn slowly glow to life. It was nowhere near as intense a glow that shone from Twilight or Rarity when they used magic, but she was watching Soarin, a pegasus, conjure magic. The sight alone was unexpected. Dash flinched as she felt her tail move against her will. She turned around to see a blue aura surrounding the tip of her tail and lifting it up.

“Hey!” she laughed while blushing. “You dirty colt!” she yanked her tail down back over her plot.

“Huh… I was trying to pick up something over there,” he pointed to a nearby shelf. “How did I get your tail instead?” Soarin faked confusion while rubbing his chin and failing to hide a smirk.

“Liar,” Dash stuck her tongue out at him playfully. “But… that was kind of… incredibly awesome,” she smiled wide.

“I only wish to wow the mare I love,” Soarin said with a forced suave tone while trotting over and draping a wing over Dash’s back. She cocked an eyebrow in his direction and chuckled.

“God you’re terrible,” she leaned up and kissed him softly on the lips. A kiss Soarin eagerly returned. “And I love you so damn much,” She added while nuzzling the side of his neck. Soarin sighed happily as he felt her press against him, and then he thought he heard movement outside his door. He quickly took his wing and pushed Dash back behind him. She yelped quietly, but stiffened when she saw him stand firm, facing the door. They stood still for a few moments, but nothing else happened. Soarin sighed in relief.

“There’s so much I’d like to do with you right now, but you should probably get going. We may get a couple of chances to see each other, but until the tryouts are over, we’ll have to play it safe,” he explained reluctantly. Dash nodded, and then smirked.

“You mean when I take the open elite spot, right?” she nudged him in the side. Soarin flinched, but luckily it went unnoticed. He was still wondering about how to approach that decision. He obviously didn’t want Dash to know his little dilemma though. He quickly played along, in an encouraging way.

“I wanna see you kick ass out there and earn it first,” he winked. Dash grinned and bumped her hooves together.

“Challenge accepted.”

“Good,” Soarin looked into her eyes and smiled. “C’mere you,” he mumbled as he reached for her face and drew her in again. She happily let him do so and the two pressed their lips together one more time, sharing a sweet, soft kiss. “Good luck Dash,” he added as they parted, before going to his door.

Soarin opened the door as slowly as he could. He peered out to make sure the hallways were just as clear as they were before. To his relief, they were empty.

“Coast is clear,” he nodded to Dash. She trotted up beside him and planted a small kiss on his cheek.

“Love you, sexy,” she winked as she peered out.

“Love you too babe,” he whispered to her as she made her way out into the hallway and quickly moved towards the stairs with a spring in her step.

Soarin watched her turn the corner and go down the steps.

“She’s so cute, isn’t she?” Fleetfoot leaned into Soarin’s side.

“Yeah, she… WHA?!!?!?! WHAT THE…?!?!” Soarin nearly leapt into the ceiling as he turned and saw Fleetfoot standing right beside him, smiling dreamily. She pressed a hoof against his mouth as he tried to speak.

“You two are the best, I never shit more live puppies and kittens than I do when you two are around,” she giggled. Soarin glared at her with her hoof still pressed over his mouth. She eyed his glare and shook her head. “I’m the least of your worries princess,” she smirked while pointing a hoof to the door one down from his room. Soarin followed her hoof and froze solid.

Spitfire was standing in the door. He had no idea she was in her room. She probably heard the entire exchange through the wall. She was glaring harshly at him. Fleetfoot burst out laughing and removed her hoof from Soarin’s mouth as she rolled around on the floor. Soarin and Spitfire just stared at each other for a moment. Soarin eventually fought off his surprise and hardened his expression.

“Spitfire... I just… wanted to say hello to her. I’m not changing my approach to the tryouts,” he spoke first, eager to get his point across before she could berate him. To his surprise however, Spitfire smirked.

“Soarin, don’t worry about it,” she shook her head. Soarin blinked in confusion, the hardness escaping from his glare. “Look I’m sorry I’ve been a little rough on you about this, I just wanted to be absolutely sure you would take all of it seriously. The way you almost bit my head off the last time I brought it up was all I needed to see,” she glanced back into her room briefly, then over towards where Dash had left. “I trust you’ll be fair, and I trust Dash to understand you’ll be fair as well.”

“I dunno, you might lose sex for a few years if you don’t pick her,” Fleetfoot commented from the floor, which she decided to just recline on after falling over laughing. She tried not to burst out laughing again when she saw Soarin actually think about it.

“That’s not funny Fleet,” Soarin shivered. “Seriously, that’s not funny at all.”

“I don’t mind at all that you decided to have a little make out session in your room right next to mine where I could hear every bit of it,” Spitfire chuckled. Soarin blushed a little. He had completely forgotten about the thinness of the walls. He suddenly became self-conscious about other nights he had spent with Dash in his room in the past.

“Nothing’s wrong with a little romance… eh? Spitfire?” Fleetfoot slid herself across the ground, on her back, towards Spitfire. Spitfire glanced into her room again, then away from Fleet.

“Fleet, get off the ground, that’s…”

“What’s going on out…?” Wave Chill’s face appeared behind Spitfire’s door. She quickly extended her hoof and slammed the door shut right in his face while blushing furiously. A few painful swears echoed from behind her door. Fleetfoot and Soarin just stared in surprise, before the both lost themselves in laughter. Spitfire looked away from them both, unable to hide the red overtaking her yellow face.

Nothing was wrong with seeing the one you love. Soarin was happy Spitfire truly understood, and wasn’t just getting on his ass about it. He was still a little uneasy about the decision he would have to make though. He was more than certain Dash would clean house and make the recruits… but would she show the qualities needed to be chosen for the elite spot? The tryouts started tomorrow… Soarin would know soon enough.

--- To Be Continued---

Chapter 10: Fancy Moves and Resisting the Urge to Kill Your Bunkmate

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Piercing the Heavens
By: Calm Wind

Chapter 10:

“The princess will see you now,” the guard beckoned Soarin into the throne room. Soarin nodded and waited for the door to fully open before he trotted in.

Talk about a hell of a night to call him for magic training. The tryouts started the next morning! Soarin had everything ready to go, but he was hoping to relax the rest of the night. Now he had to mentally drain himself. At least he’d get a good night’s sleep because of it.

Despite it all, he was in quite a good mood. He not only managed to sneak Dash into his room and get some smoochy time, but Spitfire also took her hoof off the overly-serious bitch pedal. He didn’t feel quite so pressured now, at least from Spitfire. He was still worried about Dash. For some reason he was still contemplating whether or not to choose her for the elite spot. Of course if she proved capable he’d choose her… right? He was still worried about the rumors that might spread amongst the Wonderbolts. All it took was one word about him and Dash with the media’s ears nearby and it would get ugly, fast.

But was it right for him to base his choice on that? He didn’t want her to have to deal with the negative attention, but if she really, truly earned it? He’d been thinking about this almost non-stop for the past few days with no clue where to turn. He couldn’t ask any of the Wonderbolts, that would start rumors beforehand. Did he know anypony else who could offer wise, intelligent advice?

“Ah! There he is m’lady,” Fancy Pants’ voice met Soarin’s ears as he came around the throne. Oh, that’s right. Maybe he could ask Fancy. He seemed to be well versed in… well… everything. Soarin also blinked as something by the main entrance caught his attention again. Three ponies were leaving as he entered. No Big deal, at least under normal circumstances. While he only caught a glimpse of them, they appeared to be the same three ponies Soarin barely saw leave the first time he visited Luna recently. This time Fancy was present. It was sort of a little “huh” moment for Soarin, but if he saw them again, he’d begin to wonder.

“Soarin of the Wonderbolts, how dost thou fair?” Luna’s voice pulled Soarin’s attention to her and Fancy. She wasn’t specific, but Soarin assumed she was talking about the horn. Soarin glanced up at it and tipped his head back and forth.

“Ehh… I’ve been alright. The magic has been very docile thanks to the horn and using it a few times. Other than a few uniform issues that I can easily fix, there have been no problems,” he explained while facing the two of them. Fancy nodded contently.

“Very good! Have you practiced a little like we discussed?” he asked. Soarin smirked. He closed his eyes and recalled the magical sensations. They built much quicker due to the little bit of practice he made sure to get each day. Fancy jumped in surprise as a blue aura surrounded his coat pocket and a red marble popped out of it.

Fancy smiled and chuckled as the marble hovered slowly over towards Soarin. Soarin winced and grunted slightly as he kept his eyes half open and focused them on the marble. It wasn’t very smooth or easy, but he managed to move the marble all the way over to him. He exhaled, releasing the magic, and let the marble drop into his hoof.

“I think I’m starting to get the hang of it a little,” Soarin cracked a smile.

“Marvelous! To be honest I was expecting a ‘no,’” Fancy grinned as Soarin tossed the marble up and down in his hoof, feeling pretty good about beating the expectations of a pony like Fancy. In fact he felt a little snarky in the process.

“No? Who the hell do you think I am?” Soarin chuckled along with Fancy as he picked up the marble with his magic again.

Off to the side, Luna watched the small exchange with great interest. She was beyond impressed that Soarin could control the magic as well as he did in such a short time. Just grasping the concept of magic alone seemed like it would be impossible for Soarin at first. He proved her wrong very quickly. Soarin was most definitely a pony of great talent and his will to learn and perfect all things related to him was almost without match. She was eager to see more.

She was also glad he seemed to be enjoying himself. She wasn’t sure if something had made him happy earlier, but seeing him smile lifted a weight off her chest. He had been forced through so much beyond his control and had clearly been a frustrating experience for him thus far. Not to mention the timing was inconvenient with the Wonderbolt tryouts.

She frowned as she thought over what Discord had said to her though. There was much more about what was going on within Soarin than she had revealed to him. She could sense it and Discord could sense it, but she kept it in. As long as Soarin kept the horn on, he should be safe from any further pain and hopefully it would prevent the power from overwhelming him. She refused to involve herself any more than she did. She didn’t want to end up like her sister.

“Shall we test your bravado further then?” Fancy spoke up as his magic came to life and a green marble floated out of his other pocket. “Holding more than one object at a time?” he turned his head to the side and lifted an eyebrow.

“Two at once?” Soarin didn’t sound quite so confident. “So… I already slightly figured out how to AH!” Soarin flinched and the red marble fell out of his magic. “I’ve kinda got the whole split mind thing figured out, but… another object would mean… three different thought processes?” he thought out loud. Fancy nodded as he hovered the green marble over to Soarin and set it beside the red one.

“Where’d the confidence go?” Fancy chuckled as he walked towards Soarin.

“Still got it,” Soarin lied. “It just seems a little hard.”

“Nonsense my boy,” Fancy smiled as his horn glowed again. Seven more marbles, all different colors floated out of different pockets, each surrounded in its own separate aura. “Once you’ve learned how to form the pseudo-disconnect, creating more is just a matter of practice. Here I am with seven marbles floating in the air and speaking to you while walking. I’ve got nine different things happening. I’m not expecting you to ever get this far with it, but just know that it is very possible,” he smiled as all seven marbles tossed themselves into the air. Fancy stood completely still as each marble fell back towards the ground naturally and landed in his coat pockets.

“You sure like your marbles,” Soarin chuckled, trying to hide how awesome he thought that little trick was. Fancy smiled and pulled a blue one out of his pocket again.

“A simple, small, spherical object. It’s more than perfect for teaching basic magic. Now, go on,” Fancy made a head motion towards the red and green marble on the floor. “Just remember the visualization. Remember what it takes to form two states of mind, and simply create a third. There is nothing special you have to think or feel, you merely have to conjure one more constant thought,” Fancy explained as the blue marble in his magic orbited his head.

“Alright, I’ll see what I can do,” Soarin nodded as he focused on the two marbles. He conjured the magical presence and focused his mind to create the two separate thoughts. Magic began to swirl around the fake horn and slowly enveloped the red marble. He shifted his squinted eyes to the green marble and grunted in slight discomfort. He moved his head ever-so-slightly towards it, trying to pry a third thought out of his mind. A small blue light began flickering around the green marble. Soarin winced and growled as he tried to focus it, but as soon as the aura fully surrounded the green marble, the red marble fell out of the magic and back to the floor. “Damn!” he cursed as he exhaled and panted. This made his brain hurt.

“Not bad for a first attempt, give it a couple more tries. Practice makes perfect,” Fancy encouraged as Soarin tried again.

As Luna watched, her attention was drawn away by a royal guard that suddenly sprinted into the throne room. Fancy turned to see as well as Soarin cursed, losing his focus once more.

“Your majesty! We have an… issue,” the guard’s voice had a tone of calm urgency. Luna tipped her head.

“What sort of issue?” she asked.

“Well,” the royal guard glanced back towards the entrance. “Discord is… pulling pranks in the servant quarters… we’d try to stop him, but… you know…” the guard admitted a little embarrassed. Luna snorted loudly as soon as she heard Discord’s name.

“We swear he is putting us on the end of our rope!” Luna growled as she stood up. “We shall go see to him,” Luna turned to Fancy. “We trust thee to continue without us?”

“Go on m’lady, we’ll be fine. Give that ruffian a good thrashing,” Fancy chuckled as Luna turned and galloped out the entrance.

Fancy and Soarin watched her leave, but looked on in confusion as the guard who came to warn her made no attempt to follow. He snickered as he turned to Soarin and Fancy.

“Really… it’s too easy sometimes…” the guard’s voice changed to something very familiar. With a loud POOF, the guard disappeared into a cloud of pink smoke. “Oh Lulu, so adorably dupable!” Discord slithered out of the cloud and floated above them.

“Oh, great…” Soarin rolled his eyes as he sat down to take a breather. A loud HONK echoed throughout the throne room and he quickly stood back up to reveal a clown horn beneath him.

“Excuse you,” Discord chuckled as Soarin kicked the horn away and sat down again. Another HONK sounded out, but this one sounded different. Soarin stood up sharply again to see a goose sitting below him, glaring up at him angrily. The goose honked at him again before lifting off and flying out the broken stained glass window (that had yet to be fixed). “Really princess, what did you eat?” Discord appeared above Soarin and poked the false horn.

“Can you like, piss off?” Soarin snapped at him as he moved to sit again. He paused and looked below him to make sure there was nothing beneath him. He kept his eyes on the floor until his plot had touched down. “We’re kinda busy with something importaAAAHH!” he turned his head back only to see Discord’s face directly in front of his.

“That’s precisely why I’m here! I figured I’d get a better seat to watch this time! Up near the ceiling almost put a marble through me during your last session,” he glared one eye at Soarin. Discord disappeared and reappeared reclining on the throne. “And what better seat in the house than this one?” he chuckled. “I just had to chase away its former occupant first.” The royal guards posted near the throne made brief movements before stopping and going right back to standing still. “Good choice,” Discord taunted them as they sighed in frustration. Soarin groaned as he focused on resting his brain instead of worrying about Discord. Fancy however, seemed intrigued by the god of chaos.

“You seem awfully relaxed my friend. Surely your ruse won’t occupy the princess for long?” Fancy spoke calmly and casually to Discord. Discord rolled over, and laid across the throne on his stomach.

“Oh please, as if I’m some sort of amateur,” he appeared next one of the royal guards beside the throne. The guard’s helmet was gone and instead on Discord’s head. “I laid a trail full of pranks for her to follow. It should keep her busy for a while. Now please…” he removed the helmet and shoved it down onto the guard’s head, making him grunt in discomfort. “Go on, continue, I promise I won’t annoy you too much,” he chuckled as he once again appeared on the throne. Fancy lifted an eyebrow, and then his eyes came alight with interest. He glanced at Soarin.

“How are you faring? Need another minute?” he asked. Soarin nodded as he still tried to fully catch his breath.

“Yeah, my head’s still in a vice,” Soarin admitted as he shook his head out.

“Take your time, I feel like playing a little game with our friend here,” Fancy smirked. Soarin’s eyes widened.

“With… Discord?!” he whispered in disbelief.

“With Discord,” Fancy sounded a little too eager.

“It’s been nice knowing you,” Soarin added comically.

“Secrets are no FUN~!” Discord appeared between them with fake tears flowing out of his eyes in a wavy pattern.

“So you’re the infamous Discord? The god of chaos himself?” Fancy casually stepped away from Discord, whose eyes dried up upon formal mention of his name. “I’m sure you don’t get this very often, but for me it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance,” Fancy bowed politely. Discord blinked in confusion.

“Well this is a new one,” he commented with and interested smile creeping across his jaw line.

“Allow me to introduce myself, I’m…”

“You’re Fancy Pants: billionaire, businessstallion, philanthropist, the most successful pony of our time, but just one step behind your father, eh?” Discord cut him off and winked. Fancy’s face faltered for only a moment. But a moment of weakness from a pony who is otherwise perfect, does not go unnoticed. To Soarin it was like a big red flag extended out of Fancy’s head. Father = soft spot.

But it was still only for a moment. Fancy’s confidence was back faster than Soarin could perform the Sonic Blast-off.

“I see I require no introduction. I have a proposal for you my friend,” Fancy slowly walked in a circle around Discord. Discord’s head followed his movement, even past the point of how far his neck could reasonably turn like an owl.

“This should be good,” Discord sneered.

“I propose a little contest, a game of wits. If I win, you leave us alone for the duration of our lessons,” Fancy’s expression never wavered.

“And if I win?” Discord sneered. Fancy didn’t even hesitate.

“Then you may tie me to a flag pole and parade me around Canterlot while I repeatedly sing any song of your choice,” Fancy offered casually. Discord burst out laughing and rolled onto his back as Soarin’s jaw nearly hit the floor.

“Fancy! What the hell are you doing?” Soarin asked frantically. Fancy chuckled and patted Soarin on the shoulder.

“Don’t worry my boy, I won’t lose,” he assured Soarin as Discord regained himself.

“Oh, you are CREATIVE! I gladly accept! What sort of challenge do you suggest?” Discord asked while stroking his scraggily beard. Fancy smirked.

“I’m the challenger, so the choice is yours,” he offered as Soarin silently screamed to himself behind him.

“You’re confidence is commendable,” Discord smirked as he tapped his chin, “So Mr. Pancy Fants, you fancy yourself able to match wits with the god of chaos himself? There’s little I enjoy more than showing a pony how out of their league I am!” he snapped his fingers and a small wooden table appeared before him. “I hope you’re ready to sing,” he taunted. “Even the simplest games against me will twist and confuse you to no end!” Three small cups appeared on the table.

“We shall see,” Fancy kept calm. Discord held out his hand.

“Might I borrow three marbles?” Discord asked with puppy dog eyes. Fancy hovered a red, blue, and green marble over to him. Discord placed them on the table. “Now,” he extended his neck so his face just barely pressed against Fancy’s face. “Keep an eye on the red marble,” he directed.

Fancy looked down at the table. The red marble was in the center, the green on the left, and the blue on the right. Discord placed the three cups over the marbles.

“If I were you,” Discord bounced his eyebrows, “I wouldn’t blink.”

Fancy paid no attention to the taunt as Discord began rapidly moving the cups around. He moved them faster and faster until they couldn’t be seen by the naked eye. Fancy just kept his eyes straight down at the table.

“HA!” Discord abruptly stopped. There were now nine cups on the table. “Whoops, looks like I went a little too fast, but you do enjoy a challenge don’t you?” Discord sneered at Fancy. He stood up from the table and patiently swayed back and forth with his hands clasped behind his back. “So? Which one has the red marble?”

“That’s not fair at all!” Soarin blurted out from behind Fancy. “Fancy, you don’t have to…”

“What might you have in your hands behind your back?” Fancy smirked as he looked snidely at Discord. Discord’s eyes widened slightly, but he quickly played it off. He made an extremely subtle glance at his left hand behind his back. The red marble was in it, but how did Fancy see him do it? Without a single indication of shenanigans, Discord blinked and the green marble now lay in his hand, sending the red marble beneath one of the cups. He looked back towards Fancy.

“You’ve a keen eye McPantaloons, but I’m afraid it’s not the marble you’re looking for,” Discord chuckled as he held the green marble out in his palm. Fancy tipped his head up, his smirk cracking into a grin.

“Oh? Did I say you had the red marble in your hand?”

“Hm?” Discord blinked. As a matter of fact, Fancy never mentioned the red marble being in his hands.

“Actually I’m curious,” Fancy rubbed his chin. “Do you know which cup the red marble is under?” he challenged Discord.

“Pfft, you can’t bluff me, silly pony,” Discord reached for one of the cups. “It’s right…” there was nothing beneath the cup. “Eh?” Discord’s pupils shrank. He stared blankly at the table for another moment before grabbing all the other cups off the table. The red marble was gone, and the blue one was gone too.

“Looking for this?” Fancy spoke up. Discord’s eyes snapped to Fancy. Fancy was holding the red marble up in front of him with his magic. Discord looked between the table and the marble.

“What in Equestria?” Discord tried fruitlessly to understand what Fancy had just pulled. Suddenly the green marble floated up beside the red one.

“Could I have my blue marble back too, please?” Fancy asked politely.

“Huh?” Discord blinked and looked down into his hand. He was now holding the blue marble. Discord’s jaw detached from his face, bounced off the floor, and uppercut him upon reattaching. “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” he screamed out while clutching his head. He took a deep breath and exhaled before glaring at Fancy.

“Now I believe we had a deal?” Fancy winked at him. Discord’s glare slowly faded, replaced with a calm, serious expression. He sat down on the throne.


Discord jumped back up and stared at the the throne. The clown horn he summoned earlier was on it. He gawked at it, and then looked back at Fancy. Fancy shrugged as Discord just stared in disbelief. How? How did he just get beaten so soundly at his own game? To Discord, it was so incredibly baffling that all he could do was laugh. Discord laughed uncontrollably.

“I honestly have NO idea how you pulled that off!” he managed to calm himself a little. “You sir, Pants Oh-So Fance… are DANGEROUS, and it’s DELICIOUS! I’ll have to keep an eye on you,” one of Discord’s eyes detached from his head and orbited Fancy once before returning. “And a deals a deal, it’s the least I can do, nopony has been able to play me like that in centuries!” he did a loop in the air and waved at the two of them. “You two have fun, I’ll be watching from afar! Taa taa!” he rose up towards the ceiling, slowly disappearing while laughing heartily to himself again.

“Oh dear, it looks like it’s getting late already,” Fancy casually checked his pocket watch as he turned to Soarin. He stopped as he saw Soarin staring wide eyed. “What?”

“What do you mean ‘what!?’” Soarin threw his hooves up into the air. “How the hell did you do that?!” he questioned hysterically. Fancy smiled.

“Trade secret,” he winked. “I’m afraid that little escapade used up the rest of our time tonight. At least it ensured he’ll stay out of our business,” Fancy replaced his pocket watch in his jacket. “Make sure to practice multiple object carrying, if you have that down by our next meeting I can show you something new.”

“Wait Fancy… I’ve got a question…” Soarin stopped him. Did Soarin know any wise and intelligent ponies who could give advice? Well… he knew one that could wow the celestial sisters and outsmart the god of chaos. It would have to do.

“What’s on your mind my boy?” Fancy smiled.

“Well…” Soarin began. He relayed his worries to Fancy about Rainbow Dash and the decision he would have to make. He made sure not to leave out a single detail: the choice, the potential rumors, and what might happen should he not choose her. “…I just don’t know what to do. Every time I fix my mind on one possibility, it only takes a few seconds before I think the other is better. What would you do here?” he finished, looking to Fancy in hopes of getting some good advice.

“Hmm… that is quite a dilemma,” he rubbed his chin. “But I believe the answer is simple,” he nodded. “You, Soarin, are the power-flyer of the Wonderbolt lead squad. You rightfully earned your place in the Wonderbolts. If Rainbow Dash rightfully earns her place, then who are you to deny her it?” Fancy smiled. “And if she is as great as you describe her, I’m sure she will understand your choice, should you not select her. Those who push themselves will always push themselves, even if they are knocked down in the process.”

Damn, Fancy was smart. Soarin hadn’t looked at it from that perspective. Sure, Dash might get a little angry if she’s not selected, but that didn’t mean she would up and quit on them. And if she earned it, then she earned it. Anything the media had to say about them would be answered by her skill.

“Thanks Fancy,” Soarin smiled, now more confident than ever he could trust his new magic teacher.

WHERE IS HE?!?!?!” Luna suddenly burst into the throne room. She was wearing a frilly pink dress, her mane was in pigtails, her face was covered with what looked like bits of cherry pie, and there was a string tied around her neck, at the other end of which floated a big yellow balloon with the word “SUCKER” in big red letters on it.


Soarin and even Fancy had to hold in their laughter.

“Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go! How long does it take to wash up? I’m turning the lights out in five minutes whether or not you’re in bed yet!” Spitfire’s voice reached through the recruit barracks hallway from the entrance. Dash had just pushed her way out of the bathroom, carrying her toothbrush in her mouth. The line to use the mare’s bathroom was still extending out the door.

Dash made her way quickly back to her bunk and tossed her toothbrush in her drawer beside the Wonderbolt cadet uniform she had been issued after dinner. It had her bunk number and color along with an A, to signify she was on the bottom bunk. This number system made it much easier for the Wonderbolts to keep track of them all. It was much definitely much better than remembering three hundred names. Dash made herself comfortable on her bed as the rest of the cadets eventually finished cleaning up for the night. Dash glanced over and saw Fleetfoot enter the barracks. She whispered something to Spitfire.

“Oh, good idea, ATTENTION!” Spitfire called out, making more than half the cadets flinch. “Fleet and I are gonna come around and collect your consent forms now!” she said as the two of them began moving down the line. All of the cadets started shuffling around to grab their form.

Obviously the tryouts were going to be physically taxing. The Wonderbolts were not going to be held responsible for any injuries. Dash had signed a similar form when she had her training day. She went for her drawer, but was nudged aside by Arctic Blast.

“Hmmm, hmm, hmmmm,” Arctic hummed as she stuffed multiple brushes, cloths, and other beauty gear into her drawer.

“How about, ‘excuse me?’” Dash grunted as Arctic stopped and turned to her.

“How about you just stop getting in the way?” she tipped her head sassily to the side and spoke with a condescending tone. Arctic pulled out her consent form and tried to get around Dash, but Dash purposely bumped into her.

“Oh sorry, I was in the way,” said Dash as she reached for her drawer and removed the form.

“Pff, rude,” Artic whisked her mane over her shoulder.

“Says you…” Dash just let it be and waited for either Spitfire or Fleetfoot to reach them.

Fleetfoot got to them first. She winked at Dash when she grabbed her form and went for Arctic’s, but froze and looked behind them at the giant poster of Soarin.

“PFFFFFFF~!!!!” Fleetfoot’s cheeks puffed out and her face turned red, “HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!” she burst out laughing at the sexy picture of her wingmate on the wall. Dash just averted her eyes and tried not to blush. It wasn’t even her poster, but it was pretty blatant. Spitfire stopped and glanced over from the other side of the aisle, two bunks down.

“Fleetfoot? What in the hell…?” she trotted over and flinched when she saw the poster of Soarin, “SNRK…” Spitfire instantly snorted when she saw the poster. Fleetfoot was pounding a hoof on the floor, completely losing it, but Spitfire did everything she could to keep her laughter down. Dash tried not to laugh awkwardly herself. She hoped they didn’t think it was her poster. Spitfire took a deep breath and put the business glare back on. “Nice poster,” she said with a straight face as she yanked Fleetfoot back to her hooves.

“Oh man… that’s just rich,” Fleetfoot wiped a tear from her eye as she went back to collecting forms. She and Spitfire got two more bunks down and both stopped again. Three bunks down from Dash and Arctic’s there was a pair of stallions standing very awkwardly and looking away from them. Behind them was a poster of an exclusive “sexy” picture of Spitfire and Fleetfoot from the same beach photo shoot that was only given to “longtime” subscribers of the magazine. It was the two of them lying on the beach, back to back in sultry poses while staring up at the camera. Spitfire looked slightly annoyed in the picture, but Fleetfoot was giving the sharpest bedroom eyes possible and blowing a kiss towards the camera.

The two stared at the poster, then back down at the stallions. Spitfire, with a glare, Fleetfoot with a smirk. The stallions continued to not look at them and hold their consent forms out awkwardly. Spitfire grabbed the forms and shook her head.

“I’m gonna kill Photo Finish for publishing that one,” she sighed as she started walking again. Fleetfoot leaned in towards one of the stallions, who began blushing like mad as she gave him a sly, sexy grin.

“Maybe if you buy me a drink first,” she whispered into his ear before Spitfire turned around and yanked her along. Dash chuckled at the sharp contrast between Spitfire and Fleetfoot. As always, the two were the perfect pair for unintentional comedy. Dash hadn’t noticed the poster of them before (and had no idea how because it was just as big as the one on her wall), but she began to wonder. Would she have to… pose like that if she became a famous Wonderbolt? The thought made her squeamish. If she was going to pose for anypony it would be for Soarin, nopony else, but would she have a choice? Spitfire definitely didn’t. Business was business.

“Well look at this!” Spitfire exclaimed as she counted the forms and walked back towards the entrance. “Only two hundred-forty-four forms?” she turned and faced them all. “Looks like about sixty got scared off by the consent form! Good, that makes our job a little easier tomorrow!”

A slight buzz went about the cadets. Sixty cadets up and left already? Dash glanced around the bunks. She didn’t even notice it before! There were a few empty bunks!

“The rest of you had the guts to sign it! I guess we’ll see who can back it up tomorrow! Now get some sleep! You better be at your best if you want to be one of the last one hundred standing after tomorrow!” a collective gasp went throughout the hallway. Only 100 would be left standing after tomorrow. Dash was confident she’d be fine, but it was still heavy news for the rest of the cadets.

“If anypony starts snoring, you have my permission to slap ‘em silly!” Fleetfoot added with a giggle. Spitfire flared her wing out into Fleetfoot’s face. Before anything else could happen, Spitfire slammed her hoof over the light switch, plunging the room into darkness.

“GOODNIGHT!” she yelled as she and Fleetfoot left, slamming the doors behind them.

Dash chuckled to herself as she simply leaned over and rolled into her bed. She had to suppress more laughter as Arctic clumsily bumped into the bed frame six times before actually finding the top bunk.

Time to get some sleep, which hopefully wouldn’t be to hard. Dash was nervous, but the excitement had her nearly bouncing. It took a few minutes for the hall to quiet down anyway. There was a lot of rusting of mattresses and sheets along with a few clumsy clangs of bed frames colliding with hooves.

When everything quieted down, Dash sighed and curled up beneath her sheets. Sleep. Sweet dreams. Dreams of Soarin. Dreams of being awesome. All of the above plus more Soarin please.


Dash’s eyes opened wide. What the hell was that ungodly noise?


It was coming from directly above her.


“You’ve gotta be kidding me…” Dash mumbled to herself as she heard stirring from the bunks beside hers as well. Arctic Blast was snoring. It was atrociously loud, like somepony was trying to cut a piece of cardboard in half with a bike chain. Dash covered her ears as the noise echoed from above her again.

“Wait…” she suddenly remembered.

“If anypony starts snoring, you have my permission to slap ‘em silly!” – Fleetfoot

Dash smirked and rubbed her hooves together.

Well… Spitfire never said no…

--- To Be Continued ---

Chapter 11: The Tryouts Begin

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Piercing the Heavens
By: Calm Wind

Chapter 11:

It’s not like Dash could actually do anything to Arctic in fear of causing trouble, but she did take action against the snoring. Once her eyes had adjusted to the dark, she made three trips to the top bunk, swatting Arctic in the face with her wing, and quickly dropped back down. Arctic was one hell of a heavy sleeper. None of the three face swats woke her, but after the third, she finally turned over to her stomach and the horrible noise ceased.

Thanks to Dash’s efforts, both she and many other surrounding cadets were able to get a good night’s sleep. It was lights out at 9:30pm and they were apparently getting a wakeup call at 6:00am. Dash fell asleep wondering what sort of “wakeup call” they would get. She knew the higher ranking Wonderbolts pretty well. They were bound to get creative with it.

Dash along with every single cadet in the bunks jolted awake as the loud, ear-piercing blare of an air horn screamed through the hall. Dash quickly covered her ears and leaned towards the hoof of her bed, peering around the frame towards the entrance.

Squad three was standing by the doors, all in uniform with their goggles around their necks. The Streak twins and Surprise were standing firm with large headphones covering their ears. In front of them was Misty Fly with a large air horn the size of her. It looked like an oil drum with a gramophone and TNT plunger attached to it. Misty was pressing the plunger down with a hoof, but wasn’t wearing anything over her ears, obviously. She let up on the horn as all the cadets began to emerge from the bunks, turned to the rest of squad three and nodded. Fire Streak nodded back to her and then turned to Surprise and Lightning.

“Let’s get them on their hooves and over to breakfast,” said Fire as he removed his headphones and made hoof and wing signals to Misty. Surprise bounced up to the giant air horn and began dragging it back towards the doors. Lightning looked it up and down.

“Like… how did you even get that?” he asked lazily while cleaning out his left ear with a wing feather.

“Rivet put it together for me! I had to buy all the parts though!” Surprise explained happily as she pushed it against the wall for the time being. Lightning blinked as he flicked the earwax off his wing.

“Dude… where the hell can you buy an oil barrel, gramophone, and TNT plunger all in the same place?” Lightning scratched his head as Fire beckoned them.

“Stalmart! Duh!” Surprise shrugged as they followed behind Fire.

Good old squad three. Dash smiled as she watched them make their way down the rows of beds to make sure everypony was up. Anypony caught snoozing got a second Surprise wakeup call.

“Up! Up! Up! Everypony up and get those uniforms on!” Fire yelled out as they walked, followed right after by a scream from a stallion as a party noise maker got sent through his ear by Surprise.

“Yeah, I want all the mares to form a line in front of me and bend oveOW!” Lightning Streak received a smack upside the head from Fire. Misty just walked along beside Fire, inspecting the cadets and their designated areas. She stopped a few times to force a cadet or two to clean up their space. Fire glanced at her. He chuckled as he watched her silently demand for every space to be spotless. Misty had always been a little obsessive about keeping things clean. Fire decided to help both her and the cadets so they could speed things up. He began shouting again.

“I’ll save you the trouble now. If you’re still in bed, Surprise will make you regret it! If your space isn’t clean, Misty Fly will glare at you until you clean it,” he paused and smirked. “If you wish to argue with Misty what the definition of “clean” is… good luck!” he added.

Dash chuckled to herself as she pulled open her drawer and retrieved her cadet uniform. She’d love to see some idiots try to argue with her. They’d have absolutely no idea. Dash turned to see squad three passing as she started slipping on her uniform. Fire only glanced. Misty gave a brief look and a subtle wing wave. Surprise waved her whole arm and smiled brightly. Lighting made the “call me” motion again and ran directly into his brother’s flank as Fire came to a stop.

Dash blinked and focused on Fire Streak. He had turned slightly and was staring into the top bunk.

At that moment, Dash realized that Arctic was still asleep. This would be good.

“Surprise,” Fire glanced back at Surprise and made a head motion towards the bunk. In an instant, Surprise was peering over the edge of the top bunk at the sprawled out, sleeping form of Arctic.

“Surprise attack!” Surprise sprang up and landed roughly with her legs straddled over Arctic’s back. Arctic grunted, but remained asleep. Heavy sleeper? That put it lightly. Surprise grabbed Arctic’s pillow and yanked it out from beneath her head, making her face plop into the mattress. Surprise put her hooves into the air and yelled out: “THIS IS THE WAKE-UP SONG… FROM YOUR OWN PRIVATE HELL!” she grinned wide with her tongue sticking through her teeth.

“Oh god…” Dash glanced between Surprise and the rest of squad three as they didn’t even flinch at Surprise’s antics.

Surprise proceeded to smack the pillow over Arctic’s head repeatedly while yelling.


“Argh! Like…what the hell?!” Arctic finally woke as she was vigorously beaten over the head with her own pillow.


“OH MY GAWD! I’M UP!” Arctic sat up roughly and glared at Surprise. Surprise pressed her nose to Arctic’s.

“That’s what they waaaaaaaaant you to think!” she said with a loud, sharp whisper as her pupils grew and shrank seemingly at will. Arctic froze in place as Surprise slowly pressed her face further and tipped Arctic back down until the back of her head was stuck firmly against the mattress.

“Okay Surprise, I think she’s awake now. Probably will be for a few days,” Fire chuckled as he hovered up and removed Surprise from atop Arctic.

From below, Dash was trying her hardest not to completely lose it. Arctic would think twice about sleeping in again.

After getting the cadet uniform on, Dash decided to make a quick fly to the bathroom. She was one of the first out of bed and ready to go, so she had time. As she glided above the aisle, she spotted Lightning and Fire staring incredulously at the massive bed made for Matteo and Bulk. Lightning was looking specifically at Matteo, who stared back down at him with his harsh glare.

“Whoa dude, you’re like, even bigger up close…” Lightning Streak said as Dash passed them. Matteo, of course, only scoffed and continued to struggle with his extra-extra large cadet uniform.

It looked like Dash wasn’t the only one with the idea to use the bathroom. There was already a line out the door. She groaned in frustration and set down to get in line. As she waited, she spotted Thunderlane nearby. She noticed his bunkmate was still in bed on the bottom bunk. Twister was his name? The one with the creepy stare and a mane like an electrified urchin?

“Surprise, another one,” Fire Streak pointed towards the bottom bunk as Thunderlane watched them pass. Surprise crouched down and skittered along the floor towards the edge of the bed, peering over the edge. Twister had the covers pulled over his head. Surprise smirked.

“IT’S TIME FOR…” she got real close to where his face would be and ripped the covers off, but she froze solid. Twister was wide awake, staring directly into her eyes with an incredibly creepy grin on his face.

“…seeeeeexxxxxxxxxxx?” he finished the sentence for her while inching his face towards hers very slowly. Surprise’s hair deflated and she pulled herself away with a shriek. The Streak twins instantly turned, and stared in disbelief. Had Surprise just been… beaten? Fire quickly stepped forward and put his hoof on Surprise’s shoulder. He looked at Twister in confusion and grimaced as he saw Twister bouncing his eyebrows at him with the creepy smile still intact. Fire turned back to Surprise.

“Surprise? Are you okay?” He asked as she stared blankly into space.

“I have seen the end…” she mumbled.


“There were no more cookies…” Surprise kept babbling as she turned and started walking towards the entrance. Fire, along with many other cadets, watched in confusion as Surprise slowly moved along. Fire looked to Lightning and pointed. “Can you handle it? You’re better with her.” Lightning gave a half-assed salute.

“I’m on it,” he cracked his neck and casually followed after Surprise. “Yo babe, what kind of cookies?” he yelled to her.

Fire shook his head and shrugged. It was nearly impossible to understand how Surprise’s brain worked, but for some reason, his brother’s idiocy seemed to make him understand her. Surprise seldom needed anypony to cheer her up, but when she did, it was a job for Lightning. Fire went on with his round, making one last hesitant glance at Twister as he moved.

“Huh…” Dash had seen the whole exchange. Thunderlane wasn’t kidding. This Twister stallion was… creepy as hell. Not quite on the Nightshade level, but… that stare… and the way he so easily broke Surprise. She’d have to keep an eye on him. How did Thunderlane sleep last night knowing THAT was below him?

Dash finally got into the bathroom. When she emerged, the cadets were beginning to file out. Dash could see Silver Lining of squad two by the entrance directing them along. A few were still by their bunks though, and as Dash glided back to grab her flight goggles, something caught her eye.

Misty Fly had stopped by Derpy’s bunk. Derpy was cleaning up what looked like muffin crumbs that were all over her mattress. Misty was watching carefully to make sure Derpy didn’t miss any. Dash perked up as she saw the stallion Derpy had mentioned hop down from the top bunk. Storm Front, she remembered his name. Derpy wouldn’t stop talking about him before. From what Dash had heard, this stallion was beyond polite, and naturally charming. Dash got a closer look as well as Storm Front started helping Derpy clean up her mattress. Yeah, he was pretty damn good looking, not that it meant anything for Dash because of Soarin, but she could see why Derpy was swooning over him.

“Sorry ma’am, we’ll fix this up,” Storm turned and nodded to Misty. Misty couldn’t hear him of course. She just kept looking at the mattress sternly. “Ma’am?” Storm tried again. Fire Streak saw the exchange and trotted over. Storm looked up at Fire as he approached. Fire put a hoof up to his ear and shook his head.

“Deaf,” he said simply. There was no way to avoid it if someone actually tried to speak with Misty. Storm blinked.

“Ohhh… so that’s why… the signals…” Storm thought out loud. Dash stopped in midair to watch as she saw Storm reach out and tap Misty on the shoulder. Misty blinked and faced him, tipping her head in confusion. Storm opened his wings and put his front hooves up.

“Wait… no way…” Dash’s jaw dropped. Fire Streak’s eyes widened as well.

Storm Front proceeded to make multiple hoof motions and wing signals at Misty Fly. Misty’s ears shot up and her wings swung open in surprise. Storm Front knew sign language. He was talking to Misty Fly. Fire Streak was left speechless. Storm Front almost did it faster and smoother than he could.

One of the widest smiles Dash had ever seen found its way onto Misty’s face and her pupils almost doubled in size. She quickly answered him using her own signs. The two made signs back and forth for another minute before Misty made the "thank you" and "goodbye" motions. She bounced up and down giddily before trotting down the aisle towards the entrance.

Fire Streak watched her move with an incredibly light bounce in her step. He turned to Storm.

“Cadet… where did you learn sign language?” he asked out of curiosity. Storm smiled.

“My late grandfather was deaf,” his ears drooped slightly. “It was the only way we could talk to him.”

“I see…” Fire glanced over at the happy Misty Fly, then back at Storm, then to Misty, and once more back to Storm. He sighed with a hint of frustration in his voice. “Very impressive. Now come on, to breakfast,” he said flatly as he made a head motion towards the entrance. Dash moved aside as Fire drew near. He didn’t look at her, but Dash could see it. He almost looked… jealous? She kept her eyes on him until he was out the door after Misty.

Dash looked back towards Storm Front and saw him clean off the last bit of crumbs before turning and speaking to Derpy. Derpy was bright red in the face and smiling goofily at him.

What an interesting stallion. She wasn’t so much impressed at first, but after the sign language? Storm Front was certainly not your everyday stallion. Dash was glad to see at least one of her friends got a respectable bunkmate.

Silver Lining started yelling from the entrance… something about sticking all four of his hooves up anypony’s ass who wasn’t out the door in the next five minutes. Dash winced uncomfortably as the words struck home. Talk about an unpleasant image and thought. First impression of Silver Lining? Don’t piss him off. She quickly retrieved her flight goggles and made a beeline for the doors. She was already going to have to wait in line for breakfast, so the sooner she got there the more time she had to eat. The Wonderbolts were clearly trying to keep a schedule here, and she didn’t want to be the one who slowed it down.

Only one word was needed to describe Dash’s breakfast: FAST. Wave Chill and Soarin were directing the cadet’s along in the mess hall. Dash did her best to remain calm in the presence of Soarin. She was happy that she at least got an indirect wink from him as she moved through the food line.

As soon as a cadet got their food, they were given ten minutes to eat before they had to move along and keep the tables near the entrance and cleanup areas clear. Spitfire flew overhead as they ate, giving out instructions.

They were all to eat as quickly as possible and then head for the auxiliary indoor flight gym on the west end of the compound. If anypony had to go get special attention from the trainers beforehand, they only had thirty minutes. A few ponies left quickly to do just that. The Wonderbolt training staff was undoubtedly unprepared as well. It would be first come, first served. Take too long at breakfast? Then you were shit-out of luck.

Dash was glad her wings were still at peak performance. She was one of the younger cadets in the whole group. While most were young and full of youthful spirit, there were a few who had showed up who seemed to be past the point of being called young. Dash had picked out at least twenty or thirty cadets who looked to be in their late twenties to early thirties.

Some dreams never die. Seeing a few individuals clearly past their prime give it a shot was honestly a little sad to Dash. She knew what it was like to have a dream she would go miles and miles for. Seeing those who had clearly tried in the past and always fell short was both depressing and encouraging. Depressing because… well… they spent their lives dreaming of being a Wonderbolt and never made the cut and encouraging because they were determined to keep trying. Unwavering perseverance is not an easy trait to come by. Many ponies in Equestria shy away from challenge, find a comfort zone, and are stuck in it all their lives despite the potential to improve. While those who make the effort may not be successful, it’s their attempt that makes them stand apart.

Dash would never give up. She was determined to become a Wonderbolt. She would hold nothing back and play all her best cards from the word “go.” It was a mix of skill and chance that lead to Soarin, Spitfire, and Fleetfoot becoming the lead squad of the Wonderbolts. Dash was confident that she had the skill, refined over the past few months while gaining strength and speed alongside. The chance? This was her chance. If Soarin did it, so could she.

“Everypony listen up!” Spitfire tried yelling to the cadets as they started packing into the gym. She huffed in frustration when her voice didn’t quite reach all of them.

Dash had flown to the front, and had quieted down to listen, but unlike yesterday, it seemed like there was much more commotion in the group. It was probably due to excitement.

“Tough crowd, eh?” Fleetfoot said as she stepped up beside Spitfire. Spitfire turned to her as Soarin walked up as well.

“Could you two get squads two and three to help quiet them down? There’s so many this time…” she ordered as she thought about solutions.

Dash blinked as she saw a small, yellow, brown maned pegasus stallion approach Spitfire. It was the same stallion that ran into her in the barracks and scurried off before she could say anything. He had a megaphone tucked under his arm.

“Hm?” Spitfire turned to him as he landed and held the megaphone out to her. “Oh, thanks. That works too. Soarin, get the other squads lined up and ready,” she said as she grabbed the megaphone and nodded to the small stallion. “Go ahead and raise the curtains too, please,” she said. Fleetfoot slowly leaned towards the stallion while smirking.

“Aw, you’re being so helpful! Maybe I should give you a BIG kiss!” she cooed while her wings fluttered subtly. The stallion shied away from her nervously, crouching down slightly as he looked away from her, blushed, and scampered away quickly. Spitfire rolled her eyes as Fleetfoot giggled.

“Fleet, how many times have I told you to stop teasing him? He’s nervous enough on a regular basis,” she eyed Fleetfoot sternly. Fleetfoot batted her eyelashes at her.

“But he’s so cute when he’s nervous!” she tipped her head all the way to the side and edged towards Spitfire. “Kinda like Wave, eh? If he’s your type I’m surprised you didn’t first go for—”

“Squads two and three are ready,” Soarin dropped in and nodded. Fleetfoot scoffed as Spitfire shifted her attention.

“Interrupting princess says what…?” she grumbled to herself as Spitfire acknowledged Soarin’s report.

“Good, we’ll have the gym curtains up soon and we can get started,” she turned to eye the large curtain behind her.

The auxiliary flight gym was different from most of their facilities. It had no true purpose. It was a single, long gym about fifty yards wide and two hundred yards long. There were three large, cheap thin leather curtains that hung from the ceiling that could separate the gym into four fifty yard sections. The gym was used often by the lower ranking and recruit squads for multipurpose training or activities while the main facilities were occupied by the higher squads. Because of how large this room was, Spitfire was most definitely going to need to use the megaphone.

“LISTEN UP!” she yelled into it. Her voice amplified about ten times and the whole place actually shook. She pulled her head back from it in surprise as the whole group of cadets went dead silent. Fleetfoot shook her head out and blinked.

“Could you say that a little louder? I don’t think they heard you in Saddle Arabia!” she exclaimed sarcastically as Soarin examined the side of the megaphone.

“I think Silver Lining used this last…” he chuckled as he pointed to the dial on the side. Spitfire turned the megaphone over and saw the dial Soarin was pointing at. It was labeled one to eleven. It had been jammed one tick past eleven. She sighed and forced the dial back, turning it down to five.

“He doesn’t even need one of these , how many more things do I have to ban him from?” Spitfire shook her head before putting the megaphone back up. “Sorry about that!” the megaphone amplified her voice in a much more controlled manner. “Today is the first day of our tryouts… for a good number of you, it will be the only day. If you aren’t ready to show us the best you’ve got, leave now and save us the trouble!”

“Welp, that’s it for me,” Fleetfoot took a step to the left, but Soarin’s wing reached out and put her back into place as she giggled. Spitfire continued.

“Today will be simple testing to gauge general physical fitness. We only want to bother with the one hundred of you that showed up the most prepared to be the best!”

As she explained, the gym curtains all opened, revealing the full two hundred yard length. Members of squad two were already posted around the one hundred yard mark. They each had a sign above them with a single color box on it. There was one sign with nopony beneath it, most likely to be occupied by a lead squad member after the announcement.

“Our first test is a simple speed test! We have marked from here to the middle of the gym, exactly eighty yards!”

Squad three moved in and took places right behind her. They each pulled a colored sign like those across the gym and placed them down, leaving one spot open again.

“Take a look at the color of the number on your uniform. That color will tell you which Wonderbolt to line up behind based on which color sign they are under! You get three chances to show us how fast you can accelerate and speed through the other side. There’s plenty of room to slow down, so go all out. If a hundred yards is not enough to slow down, my god you need to work on that!”

She turned and nodded to Fleetfoot and Soarin. Fleetfoot took the empty spot beneath the blue sign at the starting lines with squad three. Soarin took off into the air and hovered above.

“This WILL be a clean tryout! No funny stuff and no cheap shots!” Spitfire pointed towards Soarin, who was hovering above with a bird’s eye view of the cadets with his hooves crossed. “Soarin will be keeping an eye on all of you! I wouldn’t try anything, that horn he’s wearing isn’t for show, he CAN use magic!”

“And the prettiest princess!” Fleetfoot whispered towards a few cadets including Dash. Spitfire eyed the small group of chuckling cadets and shook her head.

“You are being timed from the first movement you make past the starting line! Good luck, and for Celestia’s sake, give us something to be excited about!” Spitfire finished before turning and flying towards the vacant spot at the finish, lining herself up with Fleetfoot across the gym.

“You heard the loud lady! Get in your lines! Hop to it! Let’s go!” Fleetfoot yelled out.

Dash was nudged forward slightly as the group began to mingle and move. She had a blue number, and Fleetfoot was directly in front of her. She was already where she needed to be so she stepped right up. Fleetfoot gave her a grin and bounced her eyebrows at Dash. Dash chuckled as she stepped up.

“Give the rest of your buddies a second to get organized, then we’ll get going,” Fleetfoot explained with a forced businesslike tone. She glanced back and forth and leaned slightly towards Dash. “Like my impression of Spitfire?” she giggled. Dash glanced behind her to make sure nopony was paying attention to them.

“Needs more stiffness,” Dash joked back with a wink. Fleetfoot chuckled and peered over Dash’s shoulder.

“Alright, looks like the lines are almost there, we can get started.”

Dash looked behind and saw the cadets organizing. There was almost a completely straight line behind her.

“Alright! First up!” Fleetfoot tapped her hooves together and grabbed a stopwatch that was dangling off a hook on the sign pole. Dash took a deep breath and stepped towards her. She glanced left and right to see a few cadets had already been sent off. The speed was good, but they seemed subpar. “Give us a show Dash,” Fleetfoot whispered as Dash stood at her starting line.

Dash nodded and faced down the length of the gym. Spitfire said to give it everything? Fine, she’d give them everything. She had a trick up her sleeve that she was certain no pony else could pull off.

The Sonic Blast-off.

Dash focused, and set her hooves firmly on the gym floor. She relaxed her body but kept a strong base. Her eyes widened and she made her first motion. Fleetfoot started the watch. Dash proceeded to smoothly go through the motions of Soarin’s Sonic Blast-off…

But her last step dragged. She was sent face first into the floor and into a rough tumble.

Dash panicked for only a moment, quickly rolling back up and kicking off the ground as hard as she could. She accelerated quickly within her own wing power, shooting down the full eighty meters and firing past Spitfire.

“Dammit!!!” Dash cursed as she smacked her hooves against her head. How the hell did she screw it up?! She hadn’t messed up the Blast-off in ages! She glided around and over by Spitfire.

“Nice recovery, but you better impress me with the other two,” Spitfire said towards her as she passed. “Fly higher to avoid those testing,” she ordered before jotting something down on a clipboard and giving Fleetfoot a wave for the next cadet.


Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, STUPID!!!!!!!!

Dash felt like a complete dumbass. Way to stumble immediately.

From above, Soarin winced and shook his head. Dash shouldn’t have tried it. She wasn’t used to performing the Sonic Blast-off under pressure. It was different on your own or when fueled by adrenaline. He hoped she would keep it simple. Sometimes risks just aren’t worth taking.

He went back to keeping an eye on the crowd, and the instant he did a small scuffle broke out between stallions.

“HEY!” He yelled as he propelled towards them.

Dash was on her own. He had to keep his focus on his part of the tryouts.

Dash kept cursing to herself as she flew back. The frustration was heavy, but she had to keep in mind she had two more chances. Should she risk the Sonic Blast-off again? That probably wasn’t the best idea. She only had two chances left. If she messed it up again on the second, she’d be pressured on the third. Better to get a clean run first, and then try the blast-off again to at least have one clean run in the books.

She looked down at the cadets testing as she glided. She saw Thunderlane zoom by. It wasn’t quite as fast as her, but he didn’t stumble. Thunderlane always had pretty decent wing strength despite being lazy. Of all her friends along, Thunderlane was most likely to make it to the next round at least.

She glanced over just in time to see Storm Front fire from his spot and shoot down his lane. Pretty impressive. He was about the size of Soarin and had a similar powerful follow-through with his wings. He didn’t seem to be as fast as Soarin or herself, but he had a lot of strength in his movements. Storm Front had already proved to be interesting. He seemed certain to move on.


Dash knew that unnecessarily long and loud battle cry all too well. She turned her head the other way to see Bulk Biceps giving it his all. He was putting absolutely every bit of effort into flying… but he was going very slowly. Dash sighed and chuckled. Bulk was going to clean house in the strength testing, but that was about it. She hated thinking this way, but he most definitely wasn’t advancing.

Dash made it back to her line and grunted in frustration. She wanted desperately to take another crack at the Sonic Blast-off as soon as she got up, but she refused to let her pride get the better of her. She had to play this smart.

“Care to repeat that?!”

Dash blinked and glanced behind her. The two stallions in line behind her were in each other’s faces. Oh god… testosterone idiocy incoming.

“I said you fly like a little bitch!” the other taunted back.

“I’ll show you, who’s a bitch!” they grappled their front hooves and others nearby backed away. Dash paid no attention until.

“Enough!” Soarin slammed down between them, forcing their arms apart and pushing them away. They both flinched and froze as Soarin looked back and forth at them with glares. “First the mess hall, now here!” he bared his teeth and snorted. “One more time and BOTH of your asses are GONE! Got it?!” Soarin snarled. The two quickly nodded in compliance. “Now get back in line and shut the hell up!” Soarin added before he lifted off again.

He didn’t look at Dash, but damn… that was hot. Soarin just went full alpha on these two stallions who weren’t that much smaller than he was. Seeing him dominate them so easily with just his presence was… pretty sexy.


Dash shook her head. She had to stay on task. It was about to be her turn again anyway.

“Try less face to floor application this time,” Fleetfoot whispered to her with a smirk.

“Har, har…” Dash replied sarcastically. Fleetfoot meant well, but it really did bother Dash. She would take this one normally. She set her hooves again, and this time, did a simple takeoff and acceleration. She picked up speed and sped down the length of the gym, crossing the finish line much quicker than she did last time. She flared her wings out, and glided back around.

“Much better,” Spitfire said simply as she passed again.


That was nothing. Dash knew she could do a hell of a lot better. She got to top speed, but only after wasting the first forty yards picking up said speed. She had to use the Sonic Blast-off. It was the only way she could truly show off her acceleration prowess.

As she glided back, something caught her eye. Something huge.

Matteo was up in Fire Streak’s line. It was interesting to see a griffon in a Wonderbolt uniform. He also had lots of wrappings taped around his wing joints for stability. Dash watched carefully, she had to see this. Matteo grunted loudly and extended his wings. They were massive! At least four or five times the length of Dash’s wingspan! The cadets in the lines besides his both waited as he began pumping his wings. Ponies all around him shielded themselves as powerful gusts pulsated from each wing pump. He was very slow to start, which was no surprise, but he really started moving fast for his size and apparent weight. He ended up only gaining about half the speed that Dash did, slamming to the ground and skidding to a stop as he crossed the finish line and Blaze, but if he had kept going… Dash could only imagine the power that would be behind him if he was given a lot of space to speed up. Dash looked behind her and saw Spitfire watching from two lines over, she definitely looked intrigued.

What was Matteo’s story? Dash would have to try and ask him at some point. He was such a mystery, but it seemed more than likely he’d be sticking around past day one.

As Dash neared her line again, she spotted Arctic getting ready. Hmph, Dash didn’t care one bit, but she watched anyway. Arctic took her damn sweet time getting situated and ready to go. She set her eyes forward, and sprang from her spot… really damn fast.

Dash watched as Arctic sped down the lane, reaching speeds close to what Dash had just performed. Dash stared wide-eyed, not believing such speed just came out of such a bitchy brat. Not all was perfect though. It took Arctic almost the full one hundred extra meters to slow down, and she tumbled to a stop. Nopony can out-bitch karma… not even Arctic.

An untamable fire lit in the pit of Dash’s stomach. She REFUSED to be seen on a similar level as such an unpleasant mare. Her mind was set right then and there as she got back in line. She was going to use the Sonic Blast-off, and this time she WASN’T going to screw it up.

Soarin kept his eyes out from above. Thankfully, it seemed like most of the initial biting and hoofing was over, at least what he could see. He had no idea if any mares had thrown any cheap shots at others. They tended to be very subtle about it, unlike the stallions.

“Hm?” he looked down towards Fleetfoot as Dash stepped up for her third trial. He watched her crouch down and his eyes widened. “Oh god, no, no, no, Dash, don’t do it again! Don’t risk it!” he spoke to himself as he gritted his teeth.

“On your go Dash,” Fleetfoot gave her the go ahead. With a new, additional determination alight in her eyes. Dash focused down the lane. This time she’d do it. This time they would see who was top pegasus. She relaxed her body, extended her wings forward, and went through the motions.

Front hooves…

Back hooves…

Front jump…

Back jump…

And force wings!

It was perfect.

Dash exploded from her spot, breaking an air cone inches from the starting line.

“OH, SHIT!” Fleetfoot yelled as the blast of wind blew her over. Dash was out of the start and through the finish line so fast that Spitfire nearly missed the moment of shutting off the timer.

Art by: PhonicBoom

Dash thrust her wings out to air brake as a huge smile crossed her face. SHE DID IT! She turned around to see Spitfire glancing between her and the stop watch.

Spitfire couldn’t believe her eyes. Dash had just crossed eighty yards in just barely over two seconds. Dash approached to check the time, but was confused when she saw Spitfire eying her in disbelief. Dash looked around and saw that everything had stopped, and every pony was staring at her.

Oh… that’s right. Fleetfoot and Spitfire had never actually seen Dash pull off the Sonic Blast-off. The only one who had was…

Soarin breathed a heavy sigh of relief and held a hoof over his heart as it beat quickly. Dash had just taken one hell of a risk. Had she messed it up again, he was more than certain she’d get some sort of demerit mark on her trial record.

Soarin watched as the silence slowly ended and everypony went back to finishing their last trial. Soarin realized too that this was the first time anypony else had seen her pull of his signature move. It still wasn’t as smooth or controlled as his, but it was still nothing short of incredible that she could. She had pulled it off during the battle with Nightshade, but based on Spitfire’s reaction, and the way Fleetfoot’s eyes looked like they were about to pop out of her head, Soarin assumed they hadn’t seen it then.

Soarin smiled as Dash rejoined the crowd and got mobbed instantly. Leave it to Dash to wow a crowd. But sheesh, did she have to take such a risk? Who was he kidding? This was Rainbow Dash he was thinking about. His rainbow Dash. Risks and danger were part of her, and damn he loved it. The start was rocky, but she came right back with flying colors, literally.

Now she just had to keep that fire going as the tryouts continued.

--- To be Continued---

Chapter 12: Successful Blunders and Chili Wrestling

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Piercing the Heavens
By: Calm Wind

Chapter 12:

Dash sighed in relief as she glided back towards her line. That was her third trial run and it couldn’t have ended it more perfectly, although she made a mental note to be careful. She already felt it in her legs, and a little bit in her body. The Sonic Blast-off was an extremely physically taxing move. She hoped acceleration wasn’t a part of the other tests approaching. Dash yelped slightly as she finally landed and was instantly surrounded by cadets.

“That was awesome!”

“How did you do that?”

“Was that Soarin’s move?”

So many ponies were talking to her at once, she could barely move.

“Whoa!” Dash reached her wings and arms out. “Give me some space guys!” she felt a little embarrassed. She had gotten so used to using Soarin’s signature move that she had forgotten she was using a famous move of the one and only Wonderbolt “Power Flyer.”

“Hold it!” Arctic’s voice came from behind a few other ponies. Dash groaned as she saw Artic push her way past ponies to get to Dash. Dash lifted an eyebrow in annoyance as Arctic approached and got in Dash’s face. “Are you stealing my stallion’s moves?” she belted. Dash just snickered.

“Arctic, really?” Dash tipped her head to side. She couldn’t believe this mare.

“Ya, really!” she glared harder at Dash. “I’m not gonna let you copy him!”

“I think…” Dash sneered. She should just stay out of it. Don’t feed the airhead. Who was she kidding? She wanted to mess with Arctic’s head. “I think you’re jealous I know his moves!” she bounced her eyebrows. "What? Afraid he’ll notice little ol’ me now instead of you?” Arctic turned so red with anger it was a wonder smoke didn’t shoot out of her ears.

“WHY… YOU!!!!!!” she grabbed Dash by the shoulders and tried to shake her, but Arctic was a dainty flower compared to Dash. Dash wasn’t even sure if Arctic knew what a muscle was. Arctic’s attempts to move Dash failed miserably, but Dash was effectively weirded out.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa now!” Dash’s ears stood up quickly as a very familiar and desired voice caressed her ears. Soarin landed beside them and pushed the two of the apart. “That’s the most interesting attempt at fighting I’ve ever seen,” he said with a shrug towards Arctic.

Dash had to hold it in. She had to hold it in so hard she thought her head was going to inflate Pinkie Pie style. This was a GOLDEN opportunity to just RUIN Arctic with knowledge of her and Soarin being a thing, but she held back the urge. Soarin made it clear before about not showing favoritism. If she did something here… well… the whole damn cadet group was here. That wouldn’t go down so well.

“Oh…my… gawd…” Arctic’s face lightened from red to light pink as she eyed Soarin up and down very thoroughly.

Hold it back Dash. Hold it back.

“Let’s keep the scuffles to a minimum okay?” Soarin looked at both of them. Dash nodded, acting as casual as she could. Soarin lifted an eyebrow at Arctic. “Okaaaaaay?” he repeated to her, but she was too busy swooning.

“Oh my gawd, Soarin! Can you, like, sign my…” she frantically looked around. Alas, she had nothing for him to sign. “Oo! Can you sign my forehead?!” she tipped her head towards him.

“Uh…” Soarin took a step back while looking back and forth in complete and utter confusion. “Maybe… later…” he avoided.

“Okay that works!” Arctic giddily bounced up and down. Soarin glanced at the other cadets and Dash, all equally slightly disturbed by Arctic’s ‘behavior.’ Soarin looked towards Dash briefly and mouthed the words: “What the hell?” Dash tried not to lose it as Soarin fought off Arctic’s last attempts at flirting and trotted towards Fleetfoot as the first test came to a close.

“Wow,” Fleetfoot blinked as Soarin came near. She had seen the whole scene with Arctic. “Can I do everypony here a favor and punch her in the face? Repeatedly?”

“I don’t think that would work,” Soarin shook his head with an amused smirk. “Not much up there to punch out of her. That’s what I call a far-gone fan-girl.”

“I refuse to let her stain my gender. Talk about centuries of mare development and intelligence flushed right out the uterus.”

“…Right…” Soarin replied uncomfortably with Fleetfoot’s choice of words.

“I expect crap like that from a stallion… but…” Fleetfoot shivered as she trailed off. Soarin glanced at her and lifted his brow as they began walking towards Spitfire.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” he asked with a chuckle. Fleet tipped her head and smirked.

“All stallions are born with ingrained stupidity, it doesn’t matter how smart they are, they always end up doing something dumb. I’ve done research!” she nudged him in the side.

“Oh, I bet you have,” he rolled his eyes and shook his head.

“Another constant trait is being stubborn. Like you! You’re always stubborn!” she nudged him again.

“No I’m n… oh, I see what you did there,” Soarin sighed with a smile as Fleetfoot lost herself in a fit of giggle.

“Too easy!” she beamed as Spitfire met them in the center of the gym. She specifically focused on Soarin as the members of squad two passed by them to prepare for the next test.

“So far so good?” Soarin asked. Spitfire completely ignored him. She had too much interest focused on something else.

“Did I just see Rainbow Dash pull off the Power Acceleration?” she questioned with disbelief in her voice. Soarin blinked and nodded.

“I actually call it the Sonic Blast-off now… Yeah, that was my move.”

“Did you teach it to her?” Spitfire kept questioning.

“I actually only showed her how it’s done… believe it or not, she figured out the rest herself. I let her rename it for doing so, why?” Soarin was curious. Spitfire didn’t seem angry. She usually only questioned him like this when she was angry.

“Nothing,” Spitfire cracked a smile. “Just pretty damn impressive, that’s all. It was one hell of a start. I’m looking forward to what else she’s got for us.”

“Oh,” Soarin internally sighed in relief. Spitfire was loving it, thoroughly impressed by Dash’s first test. He hoped Dash could keep it up as well. If both Spitfire and Fleetfoot chose Dash for the elite spot, then his vote didn’t matter regardless. That would be one way to avoid the choice. He followed behind Spitfire and Fleetfoot as they moved to prepare the second test. Fleetfoot slowly hovered back to him as they trotted. She had a familiar cheeky smirk plastered to her face. Soarin saw it coming. She was going say something about Dash. What was she going to come up with this time?

“So you both know how to use the ‘Sonic Blast-off,’ huh?” she couldn’t keep herself from giggling.

“Yes?” Soarin answered simply while rolling his eyes.

“Ever use it during sex?” she suddenly asked out of nowhere. Soarin scrunched his face and looked towards her.


“C’mon big colt! I bet a Sonic BLAST—,” she thrusted her hips, “—off, would give her one hell of a rainBOOM! HE HE HE!!!” she bit her bottom lip while trying to contain herself. Soarin just shook his head.

“How do you come up with this stuff?!”

Dash kept a curious eye out into the open space of the gym as she watched the Wonderbolts change the setup. All of the colored signs were being pulled aside and squad three was dragging something else out towards the far end of the gym. They stopped in the center and began fiddling with it. A large pole extended up towards the ceiling, just barely touching it at the peak of the extension.

“Alright!” Dash’s attention was drawn away from the pole in the distance as Spitfire spoke into the megaphone again. “That went fairly smoothly. Let’s keep it that way! Our next test is going to be high speed turning control!”

“Shit,” Dash cursed as soon as she heard. This was one thing she admittedly was not the best at. She could reach some killer speeds, but she had a hard time controlling it. It had gotten a little better over her months of training due to buffing up a little bit and gaining lots of core strength, but at top speed her turn still had a bit of a lazy arc.

“I’m sure from here you can see squad three setting up a simple, large pole! It is at the 150 meter mark in the middle of the gym’s width! The object of this test is to use the LEAST amount of space possible to make a full U-turn before slowing down on the other side. You have fifty yards from the pole to the wall. If you can’t turn in that amount of space… One: seriously? Two: There is thick padding along all of the walls. If you lose control or can’t make it, you won’t have to worry about hitting a solid wall. That doesn’t mean it won’t hurt though. Good thing you signed those consent forms!”

It was rather amusing to see Spitfire in business mode. Dash had gotten so used to Spitfire being friendly and normal. She got a little taste of serious Spitfire during her last visit, but this time it was full blast. Spitfire really knew how to harden up when it came time to be professional.

“In order to ensure everypony gets the same speed… we will have the Streak twins of squad three give you a synchronized assisted start. Also, because we only can go one at a time, you get only TWO chances at this before we’ll have to break for lunch, so MAKE THEM COUNT! You’ve got five minutes until we begin so stay loose!” Spitfire finished before turning back to the other Wonderbolts.

Dash decided to play this one a little differently. She wouldn’t jump to the front of the line. She wanted to see how this one worked a few times before tackling it herself. Better to see a few other ponies blunder first than do so herself.

Maybe she shouldn’t have started so far back. She purposely got in line later, but she ended up so deep in the line that she couldn’t see anything for a while. There were a few “ooo’s” and a few cheers, but she couldn’t make anything else out. As Spitfire had said, it was taking a while. Only one pony could do this trial at a time.

She finally got into viewing range and saw the Streak twins position themselves behind the pony hovering in midair. Lightning Streak placed his hooves on the pony’s shoulders, and Fire Streak placed his hooves on the pony’s back legs below his plot. The pony flattened his wings in a glide position.

Perfectly synchronized, Fire and Lightning began pumping their wings hard, pushing the pony along until they reached a pretty fast speed. When they cleared the fifty yard mark, they pushed off, accelerating the pony to a ridiculous speed. The pony kept his wings flat as he quickly approached the turning point. He made a slight angle out before pitching hard left. The turn was wide and ugly, but he managed the full turn without hitting the pole or wall.

“Hm…” Dash pondered to herself as she watched. So the speed was taken care of for them, she would just have to worry about the actual turn itself. It was hard for her to determine just how much force and angle she would need just by watching. She’d need to actually experience it first. It sucked that they only had two tries. Essentially, their only true attempt was the second, because the first was more of a practice to figure it out.

“Oh man…” Lightning Streak’s voice caught Dash’s attention. She looked up to see both him and Fire eyeing Bulk Biceps.

“How are we supposed to throw this big guy?” Lightning looked to his brother. Fire Streak scratched his chin, and then looked out towards the course. The other Wonderbolts were positioned along the flight path to ensure there was no cheating and to make sure the cadets actually went around the pole. All the mares were out on the course, the other three stallions were keeping an eye on the cadets. Fire looked up above the cadets.

“Commander Soarin!” Fire called up. Soarin halted in his patrol circle and glanced down. Fire pointed towards Bulk with one hoof and beckoned Soarin down with the other.

“Oh,” Soarin chuckled. Yeah, they were going to need help with this one. Dash watched with interest and a little bit of amusement as Bulk lifted into the air and the three Wonderbolts got behind him. Lighting and Fire each took one of Bulk’s shoulders, and Soarin positioned himself behind Bulk’s legs. “How fast before we push?” Soarin questioned. The Streak twins had “pre-set” speeds they had determined in order to make synchronization easier. Soarin had worked once or twice with them in the past, so he knew their speed settings well.

“Speed four,” Fire answered before turning to Bulk. “Are you ready cadet?”

“YEEEEAAAAH!” Bulk cheered vigorously.

“I think he’s ready,” Lightning nodded as Fire shook his head out to stop his ears from ringing.

“Very well then! GO!” Fire called out. The three pushed hard, giving it their all to force Bulk into motion. With the help of Soarin’s greater strength, they were able to get Bulk into motion. They took a little longer to pick up the required speed, but after they passed the seventy-five yard mark, Fire called for the push and they all gave the strongest press they could.

It may have been a little much. Bulk was propelled from their grip a little faster than he should have been.

“YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!” Bulk yelled out intensely as he went careening down the way. His little wings were caught in the glide and he approached the turn. “—EEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHuhoh…” Bulk found that he couldn’t turn in the slightest. In fact, his attempt to do so made him do a flip instead.

Blaze, Fleetfoot, and Misty Fly all winced as Bulk crashed back first into the padding on the opposite end and tumbled down. They moved in to stop him from falling, but that proved to be quite fruitless.

“What did this damn chump eat for breakfast? BRICKS?!” Blaze yelled out as she Misty and Fleetfoot tried to slow his fall. No matter how much they pulled, Bulk’s weight was just too much for them. They all got yanked down with him and landed roughly on the ground.

“Huh?” Bulk shook his head out as his eyes adjusted. He blinked and looked himself over, realizing that three mares were on top of him, also recovering from the fall. It all clicked in his head and he smiled wide. “YEAH! I SCORED!”

Back over by the start, Fire, Lightning, and Soarin all cringed.

“That blows dude…” Lightning scratched his head. Fire glanced at the cadets as a lot of them had hit the floor laughing. It was amusing, but he wanted to get this over and done with as efficiently as possible.

“Sorry, I may have pushed him a little hard,” Soarin shrugged as he failed to hold back a few chuckles.

“I doubt a stallion of his girth would have been able to turn regardless,” Fire shook his head. “I almost feel like sparing him his second chance.

“MY TURN?!” a sharp voice blasted into Fire’s ear and a head appeared next to him.

“GAH!” Fire snapped forward and turned to see Twister up in his face. The wild stallion had a crazy grin stuck to his face and his eyes remained open very wide. Soarin and Lightning backed off slightly. He seemed to appear out of nowhere. Fire quickly looked sternly at him. He had made a note to keep an eye on this pony since this morning when he somehow caused Surprise’s antic to backfire on her. Surprise was fine now, but… come on, who just breaks Surprise like that? “Y-yes…” Fire looked to see Bulk was up and the mares were back in place.

“Launch me! Heheheh!” Twister was up in the gliding position quickly. Fire glanced at Lightning, who just shrugged.

“You guys got this? I think I’d rather… not touch him,” Soarin said before lifting off. He didn’t even wait for them to answer.

“Let’s go,” Fire pointed at Twister. He and Lightning took their positions.

“Today pleeeeeease…” Twister’s voice slithered as the Streak twins readied to fly.

“GO!” Fire called.

The two pushed Twister forward with much more ease than Bulk, obviously. They picked up the required speed and launched him from the fifty yard mark.

“HAHAHAHA!!!!!” Twister started laughing as he was launched. He began flapping his wings instead of gliding, picking up more speed as he seared through the air towards the turn.

“Is he balls-shitting CRAZY?!?!” Blaze yelled out while readying her wings.

“Have you seen this guy yet? That’s an understatement!” Fleetfoot got ready to dive also, but they both froze when he hit the turn.

Twister suddenly straightened his wings. He didn’t widen his angle at all. The instant he passed the pole, he began twisting in his flight path. As he did, he executed the sharpest high speed turn anypony in the gym had ever seen. Even Spitfire was speechless. He never went further than five feet from the pole as he turned.

Art by: PhonicBoom

THAT’S THE GOOD SHIT!” he yelled hysterically as he slowed down on the other side of the path.

“What the hell…” Dash stared wide-eyed along with the rest of the cadets and Wonderbolts. How did Twister do that? It was almost like wind resistance didn’t affect him.

Dash began to wonder about her chances. Sure she was strong and yeah she was fast, but there were clearly a lot of other important skills that would be factors in being chosen. She came in thinking her chances were high and she’d have little competition. That mindset had changed drastically over the course of two days. Was she scared though? Absolutely not. If anything this was a blessing. Competition always brought out the best in her.

After a few more normal attempts by other ponies, it was her turn. She took a deep breath and lifted into the air. She got a nod of acknowledgement from Fire with a small smile. Finally. He had been in professional mode each time they had encountered each other so far. It was good to see his welcoming air at least once.

“I think we should switch spots for this one,” Lightning suddenly got down behind Dash before Fire could. Dash lifted an eyebrow as he moved. Fire’s position in the pushing was on the back of the legs right below the—

“Uh, no,” Dash whipped her tail out and smacked Lightning with it below the chin. His head bounced up and he chuckled.

“She still wants me,” he said before Fire shoved him into place.

“Sorry, Miss Dash. Are you ready?” Fire asked as the Streak twins placed their hooves on her.

“Always,” Dash nodded confidently as she pushed her goggles on.

“Here we go!” Fire called out.

Dash set her eyes down the track and flattened her wings as the Streak twins pushed her into motion. They went faster and faster until they hit the proper speed. Dash focused as they passed the fifty meter mark and winced as the Streak twins propelled her down the lane. She tucked her body in while remaining as flat as possible to maintain the speed. As the turn approached, she decided not to be insane like Twister and widened her angle a little. As soon as she passed the pole she pitched as hard as she could to the left.

“Hrgh!” she grunted as she felt the pressure slam into her. The turn was wide, but she managed to maintain the speed all the way around. Her hooves just barely missed scraping against the opposite wall as she angled out and began slowing down. “Phew!” she exhaled as she decelerated.

She glanced back to see how far over she ended up after the turn. It was a pretty damn wide turn. Hopefully, her second would be better. She glanced up to see Spitfire overhead, marking something on a clipboard before waiting for the next cadet. Dash pounded her hooves together in frustration. She had to do better. She couldn’t keep doing okay once then blow minds. She had to wow from the start!

“Hm?” Dash looked up to see which cadet was going after her. It was Matteo. Wait, Matteo was behind her the whole time she was focusing in line? Sheesh, how did she not see him? She must’ve been really focused. She watched as the Streak twins had to not only get help from Soarin, but also Wave Chill, and Silver Lining just to get Matteo moving. Talk about a real tank.

Dash kept her eyes on them as she casually glided back. It took them almost a full hundred yards to get him to the right speed before they launched him. She hoped he would be able to make the turn, because if Fleetfoot, Blaze, and Misty couldn’t stop Bulk from falling, there’s no way they’d stop Matteo.

Dash twisted and flew backwards as she watched Matteo spread his massive wings and widened his angle a lot, which was smart since he was so huge. He pitched left and thrust his wings down at the same time. The force was so intense that the wind blazing off his wings made a BANG noise as it hit the wall. His momentum shifted drastically and he managed to make the turn… with less of an angle than Dash had.

“No way,” Dash’s mouth hung open as she watched something about seven times her size turn with less of an arc. She glanced behind her and lowered to the ground as she reached the end of the line, then looked back to keep her eyes on Matteo as he approached and came in for a heavy landing. His talons and paws pounded against the ground as he folded his wings and flipped his tail around once before getting in line behind Dash and patiently waiting.

Dash faced forward as he landed, but couldn’t help stealing a few glances back at him. This guy was a real mystery. Her curiosity was piqued when he just showed up. What was she supposed to say to him though? He already proved he wasn’t much of a talker. He didn’t come off as anti-social, he just seemed… angry. He gave her his name, but besides that, he didn’t seem to want to talk to anypony. Well, he was a griffon… and a huge one at that, he stood out among them all like wildfire in a blizzard. Maybe he preferred to keep to himself because he stood out? She’d never know unless she asked him.

Dash looked back forward as she thought on it. She caught a brief glimpse of Derpy being launched. Dash hovered up to get a better look. She hit the turn, but her angle was so wobbly she almost lost all of her speed while turning. At least she made it through unscathed.

Dash set back down as the line moved a little. She glanced at Matteo again. He was still staring straight forward as if he had to be glaring at something 24/7. Dash doubted he’d like it if she just started asking about him. He already looked annoyed. She betted he wouldn’t like it if some little pony started asking random personal questions about him.

The line moved again, Dash saw Storm Front lift up and get launched. Still curious about this stallion as well, she leaned over to watch. Again, just like in the first test, he performed perfectly with no mistakes, but there was nothing eye popping about it. She had to talk to him later too and see for herself why Derpy was so into him.

Dash looked behind her again, this time Matteo’s eyes shifted and caught her looking. She quickly played it off and acted like she was stretching her neck before shaking her head out. Maybe it would be better to approach with small talk first? Maybe a compliment? He did just pull off one hell of a turn for a flyer his size. What the hell, it wouldn’t hurt. She turned to him.

“Hey big fella!” Dash said up to him. His eyes widened a tiny bit before he glanced down at her. “That was an awesome turn!” she complimented him. He blinked once, still glaring.

“Thank you,” he said plainly before looking back up and away from her.

“Uh…” Dash hadn’t thought this far ahead. She was expecting more. She scrambled for something else to say and winged it. “So how’d you do that?” She asked. Matteo glanced at her again.

“I turned,” he replied. Dash stood still with a forced smile and her mouth slightly ajar.

“Right,” she hopped up and hovered beside his head. “I got that much. So you got a secret technique for getting this huge body to move like that?” she poked him slightly in the shoulder.

“No,” he didn’t look at her.

“Uh… okay then,” Dash felt a wave of awkwardness rush over her as she touched down and moved with the line. So much for that, he was going to be a tough nut to crack. She flinched as she felt something sharp poke her. She looked to see Matteo nudging her with a talon. “What?”

“Your turn,” he pointed.

“Oh, crap!” Dash had not been paying attention to the line moving. She had spent so much time trying to figure out how to approach Matteo that time just sped by. She quickly stretched and shook her wings out before lifting off towards the Streak twins again. Fire caught Lightning by the neck before he could attempt switching their places again and the two got into their positions.

“Ready?” Fire asked.

“Go for it,” Dash got serious. No time to be overconfident, this was her second and final chance to do this better.

The twins pushed her from behind and launched her when they reached fifty yards. Again, Dash careened down the lane, remembering how the flight went last time. She angled out a little less this time and pitched hard as she passed the pole. The familiar pressure throttled her, but she tried to force it more this time.

Big mistake. Dash winced as one of her wings bent awkwardly against the wind. She was batted out of her turn and flew towards the opposite wall.

“RGH!” She grunted as she forced her body upright and flattened her wings. She was about five feet from the wall and guaranteed to collide painfully. With little time to do anything, she did the first thing that came to mind. She put all of her core strength into a twist left. Why? She had no idea if it would make a difference, but she saw Twister do it earlier and he was able to turn on the edge of a bit. Using her mimicking prowess, Dash copied the twisting motion perfectly, and to her surprise, she was ripped from her current path and thrown to the left. It effectively saved her from hitting the wall and completed the turn, but not without the tips of her hooves catching the wall, bouncing twice before she angled out and headed back down the other lane.

“FFFFFFFSHIT!” Dash yanked her goggles up and swore out loud. She shouldn’t have risked it. She should have just played it safe. If not for her spontaneously copying Twister’s odd movements, she would have hit the wall hard, not to mention her turn beforehoof was too sharp and she lost control. “Way to impress the Wonderbolts, Dash. Way to FRICKEN impress them!” Dash kept berating herself as she flew back.

Two things went unnoticed though as she landed.

The first was Twister floating up higher from the rest, eyeing Dash curiously. She did just copy his move after all.

The second was Spitfire. The turn was sloppy and almost gave Dash a bruised face, but in this trial, a recovery like that was more impressive than it was a blunder. That and how she copied a move she had just seen so quickly. It may not have been the purpose for the particular test, but Spitfire had her eye out for anything of interest. Dash’s ability to mimic moves on the fly was definitely piquing her interest.

Rainbow Dash kept sulking all the way from the gym to the mess hall. Day one of the tryouts: so far Dash had messed up, recovered, did okay, and then messed up again. She was supposed to be doing HER BEST. So far she was doing anything but, at least in her opinion. A lot of ponies had blundered much worse than her, like Bulk for instance, but she wanted to be perfect! PERFECT! She didn’t fly all those drills and lift all those weights to screw up when it really mattered! She’d have to make up for it in the last three tests today. She knew strength would be one of them. Her muscles weren’t for show, she’d excel there. The other two though, she hadn’t a clue what to expect.

She sat down at a table by herself and groaned in frustration. Then she had to eat this shitty food. It was the exact same thing that was for lunch the day before. She knew they were feeding hundreds of cadets but really? Broccoli, chicken, and undercooked spaghetti again?

“Oh! Let’s sit over here!”

“Whoa! Okay, I’m coming haha!”

One of those voices was familiar. Derpy to be precise, but Dash didn’t recognize the other one. It was a friendly sounding, male voice. Not very deep, but not very high. Right in the middle, pitch-wise. Dash turned her head to see Derpy pulling Storm Front along behind her with one hoof while carrying a tray of muffins, of course, in the other. She was smiling happily and Storm followed along willingly.

“Hi Rainbow Dash!” Derpy greeted as she sat down across from Dash. A muffin wobbled and rolled off her tray, onto the table, and off the edge. Storm Front quickly extended a wing as he came around and caught the muffin. “Oh! Thanks!” Derpy smiled while bouncing as he placed the muffin back on her tray. Storm smiled and sat down next to her. He looked up and saw Dash eyeing him suspiciously. “Oh! Right!” Derpy realized. “Dash, this is Storm Front!” she pointed to him. Storm smiled sheepishly.

“Hello,” he said quietly while blushing a little. “Derpy’s told me a lot about you, it’s nice to meet you,” he reached a hoof across the table. Dash blinked and quickly reached forward to shake it.

“Hey…” she said unenthusiastically. Storm tipped his head to the side as Dash sighed and grumbled.

“Um… are you okay?” He asked as Derpy began happily eating her muffins.

“Do I look okay?!” Dash suddenly snapped. Storm reclined slightly. “Uh… sorry,” Dash apologized while rubbing her forehead. “I’m just a bit… pissed about the tests so far.”

“Really?” Storm Front asked quizzically. Dash looked up at him to see him looking at her in confusion.

“What do you mean really?” Dash said rather impolitely. Storm waved a hoof in front of him.

“Oh! No, I meant nothing, it’s just… you pulled of some pretty awesome stuff! I’m just surprised you’re angry after that. You’ve definitely caused a buzz amongst the other recruits, especially in the first test.”

Dash didn’t see that coming. She suddenly felt a little better. The last thing she expected was getting praise from somepony she was technically in competition with. Maybe there was something to this stallion after all.

“I’m just a little miffed I made a few errors,” Dash sighed as she sat back and prodded at her broccoli. “I want to show them my best WITHOUT the blunders in between.”

“I can get behind that,” Storm agreed as Derpy stared at him dreamily. “Still, I wish I could pull off moves like you and some of the other cadets I’ve been seeing. The competition here is really intense,” he started on his food. Dash felt curious now. He was definitely nice like Derpy had mentioned. She saw no hints or cracks in his demeanor. Plus, she saw the unthinkable sight of him talking to Misty Fly with sign language earlier. There was nothing that pointed to him playing up his personality or faking. Also, she had just failed to get anything out of Matteo, so why not rebound and learn about Storm Front instead?

“So I’ve been seeing you around, you’re not too bad yourself, very consistent,” Dash complimented as Storm looked up from his food.

“Thanks,” he smiled. “Well to be honest, Derpy told me about you yesterday, I meant to introduce myself earlier, but… I’m not the best at meeting new ponies,” he admitted while rubbing the back of his head. He placed a hoof on Derpy’s shoulder. “Derpy was so friendly right off the bat. I’ve been a bit nervous since I got here, but she’s been a big help and a good friend,” he smiled at her. Derpy hovered slightly off her seat. Dash had to hold back a chuckle. Derpy looked so damn happy. She had mentioned that Storm Front had not once said anything about her eyes. Dash could understand how this meant something to her, because that was usually the first question she got. He was polite to just leave it be.

“So, I’m curious, where are you from?” Dash began the questions.

“Cirrus Valley, Cloudsdale,.”

“Hey! That’s where I grew up!” Dash perked up. Talk about a small world. “Where in Cirrus Valley?”

“In the dead end circle of Drizzle Court.”

“WHAT?!” Dash stood up. “That’s where I lived too!”

“Whoa, really?” Storm smiled and shrugged. “Were we neighbors?”

“I live on the house on the north corner,” Dash sat down. Now she was extra interested. “This is crazy! I wonder if our parents knew one another.”

“I lived in the middle of the south end, I don’t know, they may have,” he chuckled. “What a coincidence, huh?”

“Tell me about it,” Dash chuckled. “Well, Storm. You seem like a pretty good guy, you can consider me a friend,” Dash pounded her chest. “Good luck with the rest of the tryouts.”

“Likewise Dash,” he nodded as Derpy gave him a random hug.

“I told you he was awesome!” she beamed as Storm Front blushed in embarrassment.

“Heh, thank you Derpy,” he said as he patted her on the head and grinned. Dash was convinced. Even when Derpy hugged him, nothing seemed suspicious. She watched as Storm conversed with Derpy and he was very good with her. Derpy tended to ask questions at random or do things out of the ordinary. He handled it very well and looked to be enjoying himself in the process. Derpy had found and made a very good friend indeed.

Dash turned her head towards the food line and quickly found something much more attention grabbing. Soarin had just gotten his food and was walking towards a side room the Wonderbolts had separate for them to eat in. She looked back at Derpy and Storm talking, laughing, and having fun, and then looked at Soarin again as he disappeared into the side room.

She found herself jealous of Derpy. She wished she could just have fun with a good friend of hers right now, but there was a clear divider between them that wouldn’t move until after the trials. It sucked, but Dash really had no choice.

Soarin carried his tray over to one of two tables set up in their separate little lounge. Both tables had six spots. At the first table, Blaze and High Winds sat on one side, with Spitfire and Fleetfoot on the other. Silver Lining, Misty Fly, and the Streak twins sat at the other.

Soarin had no real preference, but the first table was closer, so he claimed the seat next to Blaze.

“I see our chefs aren’t even trying…” Soarin mumbled as he sat down. Blaze took a swig of water and slammed her cup on the table.

“You whining out of your vagina again, Princess?” she verbally jabbed him followed by a loud belch. Soarin looked at her flatly.

“How long is this ‘princess’ thing gonna go on?” Soarin asked while rolling his eyes.

“Until you stop menstruating,” Blaze elbowed him in the side while eyeing the fake horn. She flinched slightly as High Winds suddenly tipped towards her and her head landed on Blaze’s shoulder. Blaze turned and propped her back up, clapping her hooves together in front of High Winds’ face. “Yo, Windy, food.”

“Huh?” High Winds’ eyes opened and she yawned loudly. “Oh, right, when did dinner start?”

“Lunch,” Blaze chuckled.

“Right, Lunch,” High Winds yawned again before starting on her food. Soarin just ignored Blaze’s last comment and went for his spaghetti. It all came off his plate at the same time. He sighed, let it fall, and went for his chicken instead.

“Dash has been interesting so far, huh?” Fleetfoot suddenly asked Soarin from across the table. Soarin blinked and tipped his head back and forth.

“I guess, she’s done some great things, but it’s been a little sloppy too,” he admitted.

“I think she’s doing well,” Fleetfoot winked. “A couple spills here and there, but she’s still putting on a show. Don’t you agree Spitfire?” she nudged Spitfire, who kept eating and didn’t look up.

“I have no comment to give until the tryouts are concluded,” Spitfire put plainly. Blaze pounded her hoof on the table.

“Aw, come ON sis, have some god damn fun with your own job!” she leaned forward. Spitfire didn’t look at her either.

“Blaze, this is how I’m SUPPOSED to handle my job. You should be more serious too, not that you ever are,” she finished her broccoli and looked sternly across the table.

“Oh, blow me Spitty,” Blaze stuck her tongue out. Soarin nudged her shoulder.

“Windy’s out again,” he made a head motion. Blaze turned as saw High Winds with her chin resting on the table, eyes shut.

“Son of a hell mother…” Blaze shook High Winds lightly. “Windy, seriously, food time.”

“When’s breakfast?” Winds said the instant she sat up again.

“Tomorrow morning dammit, we’re at LUNCH!” she bopped Winds on the back of the head.

“Oh…” Winds answered sleepily before she started eating again. Wave Chill entered the room as Silver Lining left. He eyed the tables as he moved in and started walking towards the table with the Streak twins and Misty. Somepony else had her eyes on him however, and it wasn’t Spitfire.

“Hey, hey, HEY! Where do you think YOU’RE going?” Fleetfoot popped up in front of him. He blinked and looked back and forth.

“Uh… to eat?” he barely had time to answer before Fleetfoot grabbed him and turned him towards their table. Spitfire already had her head on the table, groaning with her hooves on her head.

“No duh, Sherlock Homey, but you are sitting riiiiiight…” she guided him over to the seat next to Spitfire, grabbed his tray, set it down at the spot, and shoved him into the seat. “HERE!” she giggled and retook her seat on the other side of Spitfire. Wave Chill blushed and sat still for a few moments as Spitfire sighed and went back to eating like nothing had happened. Blaze didn’t let it stay that way though.

“So Wave,” she sneered at him as he took a sip of his water.

“Blaze…” Spitfire tried to interrupt her with a growl. Blaze continued regardless.

“So how’s my sister in bed? I bet she fucks like a tiger!” she made a clawing motion and a cat-like growl.

“BLAZE!” Spitfire turned bright red. Wave Chill spat out all the water he was drinking right into High Winds’ face. Winds didn’t even flinch as she blinked and turned to Blaze.

“Wait, they’re doing it?” she asked very calmly. Blaze rolled her eyes.

“Yes Windy, welcome to two months ago,” she turned to Spitfire, who was fuming at her. “Does he spank the ass nicely? I bet he has one hell of a time… knowing your serious shit I bet he has to fight you just to get you to spread ‘em,” she kept bouncing her eyebrows as she spoke.

“Blaze I’m warning you…” Spitfire glared.

“Oh, loosen the cheeks a bit Stifffire!” Blaze burst out laughing. “Damn, it’s too easy to rustle your shit!”

“Okay, the swearing is getting a little excessive,” Soarin commented. Blaze turned sharply to him.

“Don’t get me started on your ass!” she pointed, “Rainbow rider! How’s it like holding in the libido?” she teased. Soarin shook his head and tried to ignore her. “Come on, how many times did you do her in your head over the past five hours?” she chuckled while almost falling out of her chair.

“What was he doing in his head?” Winds asked while blinking.

“Sex,” Blaze replied flatly.

"Oh, cool," Winds went back to her food.

Soarin kept ignoring Blaze. He was used to her being a pain in the ass. She wasn’t like Rapidfire. There was no mal-intent behind it. She was just a hotshot with a vulgar mouth… A very vulgar mouth. Fire Streak and Misty Fly left the room, leaving Lightning Streak alone at the other table with his usual bowl of chili.

“So I’m still waiting for an answer,” Blaze directed back at Wave. Wave’s ears stood up and he glanced at Spitfire. She flattened her ears as he did.

“I need more water,” Spitfire quickly claimed as she grabbed her cup and left. Blaze stared at Wave Chill as he just continued to blush.

“Come on soldier! You’re good at saluting! How quickly does she get you full salute?!” she kept prying.

“Pffftttt…” Fleetfoot finally let slip. Blaze cocked an eyebrow and glanced at Fleetfoot.

“What are you laughing at?” she gave Fleetfoot the stink eye. Fleetfoot burst out laughing.

“YOU!” she leaned back and shook her head. “You are just… such a bitch!” she continued laughing. Blaze stood up and pointed at her.

“Excuse me?!” she glared. Fleetfoot looked at her smugly.

“You heard me Blazey!” Fleetfoot swayed back and forth once as she said the name.

“Call me that again…” Blaze glared harder, “I swear I’ll come over there and smack your shit.”

“You know you can’t,” Fleetfoot jeered. “I always win… Blazey.”

“THAT’S IT!” Blaze leapt over the table at Fleetfoot. Soarin and Wave Chill leaned away to avoid getting kicked in the face as Fleetfoot pushed back from the table. Fleetfoot caught Blaze’s hooves and the two lifted off slightly. When Fleetfoot’s back hit the wall, she pushed her wings back and fired them towards the other table. They hit the table with a heavy THUMP, Fleetfoot pressing Blaze’s head right into Lightning’s chili bowl. It splashed everywhere, on both of them, and all over Lightning’s face. They rolled off onto the floor and began fighting for the upper hoof.

Soarin, Wave Chill, and Lightning just sat and watched as the two mares grappled… with an extra bit of interest. Spitfire came back through the door with a new cup of water, eyes widening instantly.

“WHAT THE F—” she blinked as the scene registered. Fleetfoot and Blaze were wrestling on the floor, covered in chili, and the three stallions in the room were just… watching? Oh, and High Winds was asleep again. “What are you guys sitting around for?!?! Stop them!” Spitfire rushed forward while looking at Soarin specifically.

“Huh?” Soarin blinked and looked at her. Wave Chill just averted his eyes.

“Nah, I’m okay with this,” Lightning nodded, leaning his arm on the table as he watched Blaze and Fleetfoot roll around, chili still dripping off his face.

“Ugh! Stallions!” Spitfire smacked her forehead and shook her head.

Fleetfoot finally pinned Blaze down on her back and straddled her stomach while holding her arms down.

“Say uncle!” Fleetfoot taunted.

“FUCK YOU!” Blaze spat up at her.

“That’s a funny way to pronounce ‘uncle!’” Fleetfoot swayed back and forth on top of Blaze while sneering.

“Fleetfoot, get off of her,” Spitfire yanked Fleetfoot free of Blaze. “Both of you go get cleaned up. We have to have the next test up in half an hour,” she ordered.

“Oh fiiiiiiine…” Fleetfoot giggled as she trotted towards the door. Blaze followed while grumbling.

“*SNORT* huh?” Winds' eyes cracked open and looked around, she spotted the chili everywhere. “What did I miss?” she asked as she yawned.

“Just eat,” Soarin chuckled and shook his head.

--- To Be Continued ---

Chapter 13: Agility Test

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Piercing the Heavens
By: Calm Wind

Chapter 13:

“Get those lanes set up! We’ve got ten minutes before Silver brings them in!” Spitfire yelled out as the Wonderbolts rolled multiple padded poles into place. They were setting up two lanes within the first hundred yards of the gym. One lane had twenty zigzag staggered poles set up and ready. The other was still being worked on by squad three, High Winds, and Wave Chill.

Soarin waited by the doors as Wonderbolt staff members rolled the poles in on dollies.

“Thanks,” Soarin nodded as a pole was rolled up by the same small, yellow pegasus stallion that had given Spitfire the megaphone. Before the stallion could leave, Fleetfoot flew in and scooped him up off the floor.

“Aw, you came back! I knew you liked me!” she teased the poor stallion while squeezing him until he squeaked and flailed in her grip. His yellow face turned bright red as he struggled to get free.

“Fleet, put him down, he’s busy,” Soarin chuckled as he flew up towards them.

“MINE!” Fleetfoot held the stallion away from Soarin while sticking her tongue out at him. Soarin shrugged.

“If you want Spitfire breathing down your neck, be my guest,” Soarin pointed into the gym where Spitfire was barking orders vigorously.

“Oh, fine. You get off easy,” she let the little stallion go and he quickly scurried away.

“You’re the queen of harassment, you know that?” Soarin chuckled as he began pushing the dolly.

“Said the princess of drama,” Fleet fired back instantly as she trotted up beside him.

“Instigator,” Soarin shot back.


“Chili wrestler.”

“Hey, YOU liked it!” she elbowed him in the side.

“Did not,” he retorted.

“I saw all three of you! I was surprised there was no popcorn or inflatable chairs by the time we were done!”

“We…” Soarin’s ears flopped back and he scrunched his face.

“You DID like it! Hahaha, I’m telling Dash!” Fleetfoot bounced away while giggling.

“Hey!” she was out of range before Soarin could respond. He sighed and shook his head. Lightning Streak pulled up beside Soarin, pushing another dolly.

“I’ve often thought of becoming a bowl of chili.”

“Oh, shut up,” Soarin pushed him away.

“Everypony in! Let’s go, let’s go! If I catch you dragging your hooves, I don’t care if you’re a mare or a stallion, I’ll give you a limp the HARD way!” Silver Lining yelled in his raspy, gruff voice as the cadets filed into the gym. Dash pushed her way in quickly to avoid being caught in a funneling backup of ponies. She didn’t want to be first in line again, but she didn’t want to get caught in the back again either. Third time’s the charm.

“Dash!” A familiar voice called to her. Dash turned to see Thunderlane trot up to her. Dash’s eyes lit up upon seeing him. She had been very distracted and had kinda lost track of him. She had an idea of how Bulk and Derpy were doing, but she hadn’t seen Thunderlane since the first test. Something was odd though. His wings weren’t fully folded.

“There you are,” Dash smirked. “Haven’t seen much of you, I thought you ran away or something,” she joked. Thunderlane scoffed and shook his head.

“After the shit I’ve put up with? I’m seeing this through,” he stated as a line started forming in the gym for the next test. They could both see the multiple poles set up, but had no idea what they were for. Spitfire was waiting for all the ponies to enter before giving the explanation.

“What’s up with your wings?” Dash asked as she eyed his wings. They were slightly unfolded and twitched every few seconds.

“I’m trying to loosen them up a little… they’re already stiff as hell,” he explained as he looked back and opened and closed his wings a few times. Dash lifted an eyebrow.

“Already? Thunderlane we’ve done two things!” she failed to hold back a chuckle.

“Hey, I haven’t been doing super pony training like you, cut me some slack,” he said while fully stretching his wings out.

“EVERYPONY SHUT THE HELL UP! I JUST GOT DONE WRESTLING IN CHILI SO I’M NOT IN THE DAMN MOOD FORWHHOAAA!” Dash and Thunderlane looked up just in time to Spitfire yank Blaze down from overhead. A few incoherent scuffles were heard before Spitfire hovered up and Soarin tossed the megaphone up to her.

“Please ignore my annoying look-a-like! Our third test today will be agility! We have two lanes set up here with twenty padded poles in a zigzag! We want to see how fast you can change direction while maintaining as much speed as possible! After the last pole, turn and fly as fast as you can fifty yards through our marked finish line! Since we have three tests to do before dinner, you are only getting two shots at this! Again, MAKE THEM COUNT!” Spitfire finished and hovered back down.

“Wrestling in chili?” Thunderlane blinked as he pondered what Blaze said. Dash shrugged as two lines formed.

“Weird stuff happens here, trust me, I’ve seen it,” Dash chuckled as they found a place in the line on the right. “So what did you mean by ‘shit you’ve put up with?’” she asked as the first trials began.

“Twister,” Thunderlane said plainly.

“You know, I don’t know why I asked. How do you sleep with…?” Dash froze. Twister had suddenly appeared right between them.

“Sleep with whAHHH!!!” Thunderlane freaked out as he saw Twister.

“I hear my name…” he tipped his head towards Thunderlane and began slowly tipping it back towards Dash. “Don’t mind me… I’m just a fly on the wall… pleeeeeease keep talking about me,” he kept tipping his head until it was upside down and facing Dash.

“Uh…” Dash fought for a response but he reached a wing out and yanked her towards him so they were cheek to cheek.

“Oooooohhh! You’re the one who copied my Spiral Turn!” his voice was slightly distorted due to having his face pressed into Dash’s. “I admit… it made me shiver with delight.” He dropped down, slid underneath Dash’s legs and popped up on the other side of her, pressing his other cheek to her face. “I’m keeping a close eye on you…” his words slithered in and out of her ears. Dash’s eyes just remained stuck wide open and her pupils followed him as he hovered over her back, placing himself between her and Thunderlane again. “Oh, don’t worry…” he lightly bonked his head against hers. “I promise I won’t be a creep about it,” he swiftly turned and bopped his head against Thunderlane’s. “Hi bunkmate!” then he slipped away so quickly that neither of them saw where he went. Thunderlane and Dash just stared at each other in silence.

“What… just happened?” Dash blinked, not sure if she was disturbed, annoyed, or terrified. Twister gave off such a strange air. Nothing he did seemed dangerous… just… WEIRD. Dash wondered what he had gone through in life to make him so… strange.

“I don’t even try…” Thunderlane shook his head as the two looked back forward. Dash hovered up slightly to see the trials running. Her attention was caught by a familiar white and ice blue bitch stepping up to the line. Dash had completely missed her speed turn testing, but now she got to scout the agility.

Fire Streak gave Arctic Blast the go ahead. Arctic leapt from her spot into a fast, but controlled pace. She made clean turns around each pole, but had to regain her speed each time. Dash scoffed as she watched. Looks like ol’ SassaBlast was fast, but she couldn’t quite keep it going under non-straight circumstances. That’s what she gets for being a beanpole. Dash was surprised Arctic’s body didn’t snap beneath the pressure of wind resistance. She broke past the last pole quickly and sped towards the finish line, but her time had already been butchered by poor turning.

After indirectly cheering for Arctic’s failure, Dash hovered back to the ground. She turned her head and caught a glimpse of Storm Front and Derpy together in the other line.

“Oh, I met Derpy’s little crush,” Dash spoke up to Thunderlane.

“Storm Front?” he turned and looked in the direction Dash was staring. “Is he as great as she says?”

“Actually, he kinda is,” Dash nodded. “I talked to him a little, no signs of hidden assholery. He’s genuinely a pretty nice guy. I’ve seen him fly a bit too. He’s not really anything special, but he’s super smooth. I don’t think he’s made a single error yet,” Dash explained as they saw Storm Front step up to the other lane. Lightning Streak gave him a nod and he propelled through the course. His turns were clean and he only lost a little bit of speed each one. He hit the last pole and fired through the finish, not quite as fast as Arctic’s finish sprint, but the first half of his run was spotless. “Looks like he’s still keeping it clean. He’s got some great consistency.”

“Oh hey, check it out!” Thunderlane pointed forward. The two of them were only five ponies from the front of the line now, but a certain, non-pony in front of them was about to go. Matteo stepped up to the line.

“I tried talking to him too,” Dash mentioned as she hovered up to take a look.

“Get anything out of him?” Thunderlane chuckled.

“Nope!” Dash laughed along with him.

Fire Streak stepped back a little to give extra room for Matteo’s wingspan before giving the large griffon a nod. As with his previous tests, Matteo started very slowly, but as he neared the first turn, he pulled an interesting technique out of his feathers. As he neared the first turn, instead of pitching hard while gliding, he twisted so his back was completely parallel to the pole, and flapped his large wings down hard. The motion propelled him in the correct direction towards the next pole while blowing a powerful gust of wind that almost knocked over Wave Chill and High Winds standing nearby.

“Whoa!” Dash floated further up to watch. Not only did the motion allow Matteo to change direction at almost a perfect ninety degree angle, it also sped him up! He repeated the technique around the second pole, then the third, then the fourth, and continuously as he moved through the course. He picked up more speed each turn and was soon spending less than a second between each pole. As he reached the last pole, he angled a little less and thrust his wings down before beating them vigorously and propelling him towards the finish. He nearly blew over Fleetfoot as he crossed the finish and effectively clocked the fastest time.

Dash had no words to describe it. The largest and heaviest cadet just clocked the fasted time so far in the agility test. Not only that, but he reversed the downside of the test. Instead aiming to not lose speed on each turn, Matteo gained speed on each turn. Dash had never seen anything like it. She didn’t have long to think on it though. Before she knew it, it was her turn.

“Good luck,” Thunderlane smiled as she stepped forward.

Dash set up on the line and waited for the go-ahead from Fire Streak. This was her first run. Better play it safe and see how the course goes. She may not have been good at turning under high speed, but she knew she could handle sharp turns at a more controlled pace.

“On your go, Miss Dash,” Fire nodded to her.

Dash nodded back and took a deep breath. She dug her hooves into the ground and leapt towards the first pole. She approached with a good amount of speed and pitched hard left. She made sure to get a good feeling for the angle and pressure of the turn. She only lost a little bit of speed, but tried her best to regain it. As she rounded each turn, she was able to build up her speed a little each time before the next. Her eyes locked on the final pole as she passed it.

Could she… She had never done it sideways… but it was possible, she had seen Soarin do it in the past…

She pumped her wings hard and sped through the finish line. She pulled up and slowed down, getting a nod and wink from Misty Fly as she glided around and back towards the line. It was a good clean run. Nothing bad, but nothing stellar. How could she make the second one better?

Dash watched Thunderlane go through as she glided. He did pretty well despite having stiff wings, but one of his back hooves caught two poles in the process. That wouldn’t go unnoticed.

She set down and began moving up in line again. There had to be a way to improve her time. She just had a decently fast run, so she didn’t have to worry about giving them a perfectly clean run, but she didn’t want to mess up either. Was it worth the risk?

Dash looked up just in time to see Twister step up to the line and go the instant Fire gave him an uncomfortable nod. Twister, as he had done previously, used his “Spiral Turn” maneuver to navigate the turns with very little arc. However, it seemed his speed didn’t remain constant. So the Spiral Turn wasn’t perfect, by spinning so much, it caused more wind resistance. Twister’s time was still good because of the quick turns, but he definitely lost some valuable seconds with the slowdowns.

So Matteo was able to use his powerful wings to propel himself faster after each turn, and with his clearly super strong body, he could turn enough to make the angle each time despite the building pressure of wind. The Spiral Turn negated the pressure of a turn, but slowed one down…

Dash blinked as she saw the line had moved a lot. It was close to being her turn again, she was barely paying attention.

She wondered if she could… use a little of the two moves she had seen. Then she remembered passing the final pole. The turn was less sharp and the padding on the pole was pretty thick. It was a long shot, but she needed to stand out.

Her turn came up again. She stepped towards the starting line and set her hooves. She was going to try it. If it didn’t work the first time, she’d just recover and do it normally.

“On your go,” Fire nodded and stepped back.

Wow them Dash. Show them all who’s worthy of being elite!

Dash fired from her spot towards the first turn. This was it. Do it now or never.

Instead of pitching left, Dash folded her wings and did a half, fast spin so her back was flat facing the pole, she quickly spread her wings and thrust them down. She almost wasn’t ready for how fast it propelled her towards the second pole. Without missing a beat, she mimicked Twister’s Spiral Turn again only halfway before copying Matteo’s powerful downward thrust. She went faster still towards the third pole.

From above Spitfire tipped her goggles up and her mouth hung open slightly as Dash proceeded to go faster and faster and faster from pole to pole. Dash was now copying two moves at the same time.

Dash picked up so much speed that she had barely half a second in between each pole. She began overshooting the last few poles a little because it took more time for her to twist and push than it did for her to get between the turns.

The last pole came into view. Dash had less than a second to think on it. So she didn’t. She did a full twist while reaching her hooves towards the thick padding of the pole.

Front hooves…

Back hooves…

Front jump…

Back jump…

And force wings!

She was pumped so full of adrenaline that her body executed the moves… sideways… against the pole… without a single fault. Dash shot off the pole, a loud BANG of a sonic boom echoing throughout the gym. She covered the distance between the last pole and the finish line, all fifty yards, in barely over a second. She tried to pull up after speeding past Fleetfoot, but she lost control and ended up flailing upwards with her momentum. She had lost all control.

Then another loud BANG sounded out from nearby. Shortly after, she ran into something.

“Oof!” She grunted as she was brought to a complete stop. She felt two arms holding onto her. She shook her head up and looked down to see two light blue, muscular arms cradling her.

“I gotcha,” the voice made her head snap upward instantly. Oh, what a perfect sight. “Almost wiped out hard there,” Soarin chuckled as he lowered them towards the ground. “By the way, stop it, you’re gonna make me look bad,” he whispered and winked. Dash finally snapped out of her daydream while lost in Soarin’s eyes and smirked.

“Dream on, I’m the best flyer in history,” she whispered back. Soarin chuckled at her gusto as he touched down and set her back on her hooves. “But thanks, if we weren’t ‘being professional’ I’d forcefully make out with you for that,” she bounced her eyebrows. Soarin pointed.

“I’m down for later if we can sneak you out,” he bounced his eyebrows right back. “But get going before anypony gets suspicious.”

“Right… later, hot stuff,” she gave him a smile before taking off back towards the line, knowing full well she’d get mobbed again about the moves.

Soarin watched her go, sighing as he lifted up and glided back over to his spot. He received a wink and a sly giggle from Fleetfoot as he flew by, which he ignored, but Spitfire set down nearby as he landed.

“Please tell me, this isn’t about catching her,” Soarin rolled his eyes as Spitfire approached.

“It won’t be as long as you do it for all the ponies who lose control,” Spitfire chuckled. Soarin took a deep breath. Good, he really didn’t want to fight Spitfire right now. They had plenty to worry about already. Mainly, making sure nopony killed themselves. “But did you see that?!” Spitfire suddenly asked with a hint of giddiness in her voice. SPITFIRE. GIDDY. The ffffffffffffffff—

“Yeah, those were some pretty awesome moves… plus the Sonic Blast-off again…” Soarin droned on.

“Those moves were used by two other cadets separately before her second trial,” Spitfire cut him off. “She mimicked them on the fly.”

“What?” Soarin blinked. He actually hadn’t been paying much attention to the techniques being used. Dash had copied his Sonic Blast-off in the past… and now she was doing it with other moves? He always wondered what her specialty would be. Mimicking other moves? While it risked her being labeled a jack of all trades, but a master of none… it was still pretty damn impressive and no Wonderbolt had ever done that before.

Soarin shook his head. Hold it, she isn’t a Wonderbolt yet. She still has to earn that title, but it didn’t mean it wasn’t impressive. Soarin watched Spitfire as she rose back up above. She seemed to be impressed by Dash. She already was before, but now it seemed even more so. However, knowing Spitfire, just being impressed wasn’t going to be enough to choose somepony for the elite position. Skill and ability were great, but it took more than that to be an elite Wonderbolt.


Soarin cracked his neck and readied to keep watch for the remaining cadets.


Soarin rolled his eyes.


“Go to hell Blaze,” Soarin said flatly.

He caught a glimpse of a cadet moving in a wobbly pattern through the course in the opposite lane. It was a grey mare with a blonde mane… who looked to be wall-eyed. She was definitely having a hard time flying around the turns. Soarin stepped up in case he needed to do a fast rescue again. As Spitfire said, after saving Dash so “gallantly” he would have to do the same for anypony else to avoid suspicion.

“WhoooOOAAAAaa!!!” the mare yelled out as she lost control, floated up, and bounced off the top of the final pole, flailing like crazy as she lost control and fell head first towards the floor. Even though Wave Chill was much closer than Soarin, the little pep talk from Spitfire made Soarin too nervous to not go for it. He didn’t have to cover quite as far as a distance, so he didn’t use the Sonic Blast-off. He sped towards the grey mare, Wave Chill pulling up as he saw Soarin approach. Soarin reached his arms out to catch her and she landed gently in his arms.

However, her hooves were flailing. One of them swung up and struck Soarin’s fake horn REALLY hard. So much so that it shifted slightly on his head. Soarin’s pupils shrank as an excruciatingly painful pulse fired through every inch of his body.

“AAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!” Soarin cried out as he dropped the mare and she landed softly on the ground below him. The surrounding Wonderbolts all stopped what they were doing and looked quickly towards Soarin. “AAAH! ARGH!!!!” Soarin bent down and held his hooves firmly over his head. Small, blue crackles and pops began to sputter from the horn.

Spitfire was speeding towards him the moment she saw Soarin get hit. She landed beside him and quickly put her hooves on his shoulders.

“Soarin?! Soarin?!” she called his name as his body winced and flinched heavily.

“What… what did I do?” the grey mare looked at Soarin, mortified as he continued to grunt and wail. Fleetfoot landed beside her and quickly shook her head.

“You did nothing, this is a different problem… come on,” she quickly led the mare back towards the cadets, who were all silent and staring towards the Wonderbolts gathering around Soarin.

Dash spotted Fleetfoot leading Derpy towards them. She quickly jumped up.

“What’s going on over there?!” she questioned, seeing clearly it was Soarin who was down. Fleetfoot pointed sternly at her.

“Nothing! Stay put!” she ordered. Dash froze in place. If Fleetfoot was being serious, then she wouldn’t question anything. She was told to stay put, so she would, but… what happened to Soarin?

“Rgh… Ow…” Soarin twitched as the blue magic continued to crackle around his horn. It had been knocked slightly off where it was before.

“We gotta get him to Luna, there’s nopony else who knows anything about the horn,” Spitfire ordered.

“It’s been skewed?” Blaze lifted an eyebrow as she eyed it. “Can’t we just…” she reached for it.

“Blaze!” Spitfire tried to stop her. As Blaze’s hoof came near the horn, a ribbon of dark blue energy lashed out and struck it.

“YEEEOW!” Blaze cried out as the force blew her backward and into High Winds. Soarin cried out in pain again as the energy dissipated and flew back into the horn.

“NOPONY TOUCH THE HORN!” Spitfire growled at the other Wonderbolts as they all took a slight step back. “I need two volunteers to take him to Luna. I can’t leave the tryouts.”

Before anypony else could speak up, Misty Fly stepped forward and patted a hoof against her chest. Spitfire nodded.

“Who el—”

“I’ll go too!” Fire streak quickly volunteered as well. Misty smiled when she saw him step forward. Spitfire nodded at him as well.

“Wave Chill, take over Fire’s spot as the starter for line one. Fire, move him SLOWLY, okay? Take the side exit to avoid the cadets, it’s faster to the tunnel anyway,” she explained before turning to Misty and making a few signs to repeat the order to her. She nodded in response. “Come on, let’s get back on track,” Spitfire waved her hoof in a circle.

Fire Streak and Misty Fly carefully grabbed Soarin’s arms and hoisted him up on their shoulders.

“ARGH!” he grunted in pain, a few sparks shooting off from the horn. Fire and Misty both ducked down a little until the sparks stopped before Fire spoke quietly to Soarin.

“Commander Soarin, we’re taking you to Luna… can you walk with us?” he asked. Soarin grit his teeth and nodded his head slightly. “Okay… one step at a time, let’s go,” he gave a nod to Misty and the two slowly led Soarin out of the gym through a side door while the cadets all watched in confusion. One specific rainbow maned cadet watched with much worry added onto the confusion.

--- To Be Continued ---

Chapter 14: A Fragile Horn

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Piercing the Heavens
By: Calm Wind

Chapter 14:

“Slowly. Slowly. One hoof at a time, commander,” Fire spoke to Soarin constantly, comforting him in the presence of friends. Soarin’s eyes were shut tight, he continuously groaned in discomfort, and his teeth were grinding together. Misty kept her eyes on him as they moved making sure Soarin was okay as Fire mainly guided them along. Little sputters of blue light kept spitting up from the horn as if it was trying to get out, but was being wedged through a tight space.

Misty and Fire kept the pace slow and easy as they moved through the side passage. There were multiple small hallways like this one littered throughout the first floor of the compound. It allowed staff members and Wonderbolts to travel quickly between facilities if need be, or avoid crowds or media in the hallway. The passages weren’t painted and had no ceiling, exposing heating and water pipes that ran below the second floor. They neared the doors leading into the lobby. It was a short walk from there to the access tunnel for the palace. Hopefully they would make it there without any mishaps.

“GRRRAAAAAAHHH!!!!” Soarin suddenly arched his neck back and the horn began to glow brightly. Misty and Fire both instinctively dropped him and backed away. Soarin thrust his neck forward and a large magical blast jettisoned from the horn. It traveled in a slightly bent line due to the horn being off center, but it still collided with the metal double doors leading into the lobby.

A loud POW resonated through the passage and the heavy doors got blown right off their hinges. Fire and Misty shielded themselves as a small shockwave battered against them. Loud clangs and clattering rang out as the doorframe collapsed as well.

“AH!!!” Soarin crouched down and smacked the side of his head against the concrete floor. The horn began to glow brightly again. “N-NO!” Soarin clamped his hooves over the horn. Misty made a move towards Soarin, wanting desperately to help him. Fire quickly stepped forward, grabbed Misty by the hoof and yanked her into his body. He put his back to Soarin as the magic exploded from the horn again. Soarin’s hooves painfully muffled the blast, but little streams of magical energy shot out in all directions. Most of them hit the walls, but one struck a water pipe overhead, causing the pipe to burst and send searing hot water spraying everywhere. Three more of the smaller beams struck Fire in the back.

“ARGH!” Fire winced and grunted. Misty felt his body twitch in pain followed by the super-hot water spraying all over them. A sharp exhale escaped Misty’s throat as the burning water showered over them. With Fire still slightly stunned by the magic, Misty took action and quickly pushed herself into Fire’s chest. The two fell forward and rolled out of the water.

“Damn!” Fire cursed as he struggled to his hooves. Misty quickly got in front of him, tapping his shoulder rapidly. He looked up at her as hot water dripped from his mane. She crossed two feathers on her right wing, held them to her lips and slowly extended them towards him, pointed at him with a hoof, then used the same wing feathers to make a small circle with her feathers, then extend one up and flattened another.

Her symbols read: “Are you okay?”

Fire glanced over at Soarin. He was still on the ground and groaning, but it looked like the magic had calmed for the moment. This wasn’t just a magic spasm. This was much more dangerous than he thought.

Fire turned his head back to Misty. Her eyes were filled with worry. Fire gave a small smile. He tapped a hoof against his chest, then held it in front and lowered it slightly. He reached a wing around his body, flattened it and slowly moved it in and out from his chest. Then he put his other wing up flat by his lips and slowly extended it towards her.

He replied with: “I am fine, thanks.” But he cringed again right after at the sharp pain in his back. The magic blasts weren’t very strong, but they stung and burned. Misty pouted at him, not convinced he was fine, especially since he had just used his body to shield her.

“What the hell’s going on in here?!” a few security guards appeared in the lobby through the wrecked doorway. They saw Soarin lying on the ground and began moving towards him.

“STOP!” Fire yelled to them. They all froze in place and looked to him. “Let us move him! Get back in the lobby and make sure we have a clear path to the castle access tunnel!” Fire ordered as he got to his hooves shakily with the help of Misty. They all blinked and stared at him and Soarin in confusion. “THAT MEANS NOW!” Fire stomped his hooves on the floor kicking up little bits of water as it spread along the ground. “And get somepony to stop this leak!” he added as the guards moved back into the lobby.

There was much more wrong here than Fire or Misty had knowledge of. What was supposed to be a simple task of leading Soarin carefully to Princess Luna had effectively turned into a hazardous situation. Just what was going on in Soarin’s body to cause such a strong and dangerous magical presence?

Fire placed his hoof on Misty’s shoulder and made a head motion towards Soarin. She nodded in response and the two carefully approached him. The magic was flickering off the tip of the horn, but otherwise it looked like it had been tamed for the moment. They had to take this opportunity now. If there were to be any more mishaps, Fire preferred it was in the confinement of the castle passage and not the lobby. Not only would other ponies get hurt, but it would be one heck of a bite out of their paychecks if Soarin broke some of the expensive lobby architecture.

“Commander Soarin?” Fire crouched down beside him as Misty gently rubbed her hoof on Soarin’s back.

“Ugh…” Soarin grunted in response. His brain was so scrambled he could barely focus.

“We’re here, stay vigilant!” said Fire as he and Misty propped him up on their shoulders again. They moved faster this time. A steady pace no longer seemed like a good idea. They thought it would help the magic stay calm at first, but a burst pipe and few explosions on the back later, Fire realized they needed to hurry to avoid any more unneeded damage.

They emerged in the lobby and, as Fire ordered, the security team was holding off staff members and other Wonderbolts so they could pass. A stir passed through the small gathering as Fire and Misty moved Soarin through the lobby. The collective focus was on Soarin’s false horn. The fact that it was actually crackling and popping with magic was shocking to most of them. Soarin had been seen around wearing the fake horn, but most had passed it off as an odd fashion statement or a lost bet. Most of them never had guessed there was real magic involved.

“Back them up further!” Fire ordered the security guards. “Give us as much space as you can! This is a dangerous situation!” he warned, causing most of the surrounding viewers to back up before the security team expanded the blockade. They had a clear path and a large buffer zone in case something else happened. It seemed like it would go smoothly from there.

“Rgh… RRRGHHH!!!!!” Soarin suddenly growled and thrust his neck downward, almost pulling Fire and Misty with him. The horn began to glow again. Fire didn’t hesitate.

EVERYPONY GET BACK!” He yelled. This time however, the small ribbon of magical energy passed over Soarin’s body as well.

“AH!” Soarin cried out as a wave of energy exploded out from his body. Fire and Misty were blown back in opposite directions. “S-S-S-STAY…” Soarin tried to say something. His body twitched and lurched, making him stumble all around. He suddenly fired forward from his spot, taking to the air briefly, before turning downward and slamming back to the ground. “AH! ARGH!!!!” he pushed himself back up and his eyes locked on the doors leading to the castle tunnel.

“Commander Soarin!” Fire Streak got to his hooves and leapt towards Soarin. Misty followed close behind.

“S-S-S-STOP!!!” Soarin yelled out as they approached. Fire tried to grab Soarin’s arm. “NOOO!!” he thrust his arm out. Fire yelped as Soarin threw him off almost effortlessly. He slammed right into Misty and the two landed in a pile on the floor. Fire quickly sat up and turned to assist Misty. “S-STAY… BACK!!!” Soarin pleaded as he forced his body to move towards the passage. Every few steps, Soarin’s body rebelled and tried to throw him in a different direction. He slammed against the floor and the walls multiple times as he moved. It was as if the magic was trying to go one direction while he was going another. The glow around him was becoming more intense and the bursts of energy were popping all around his body. His eyes were glowing with a bright blue light. “ST-STAY AWAY!!!!” he yelled out as he pushed towards the one place he knew he could go to fix this: to Luna.

Misty, however, could not hear Soarin’s warnings. Oblivious to the danger, her kind nature compelled her to try and assist. She stood up quickly and fired towards Soarin again.

“MISTY!!!” Fire called to her. Alas, she could not hear his warning.

The glow around Soarin intensified as she drew near, and a large magical pulse shot out from around him right as Misty’s hooves touched his body. The effect was strange. She was not pushed back immediately. A few sparks of the dark magical energy ran off of Soarin’s body, through Misty’s arms, and onto her body. After a two second delay, Misty was propelled away from Soarin, her goggles shattered to pieces and the uniform around her neck, head, and face ripped to shreds. She crashed violently against the wall beside Soarin and fell roughly to the floor.

"MISTY FLY!!!" Fire yelled out as he sprung up and shot towards her. She was lying face down on the floor, small ribbons of blue magic pulsing all over her body. She twitched and writhed as Fire approached.

Soarin grunted in pain one more time before his body performed the Sonic Blast-off and crashed him right through the doors of the castle passage. Fire only gave a quick glance in the direction of Soarin before turning back to Misty. Fire ripped his goggles off and removed the mask portion of his uniform before he crouched down and reached for Misty. He quickly and gently supported her and turned her over. Her eyes were stuck wide open, her body tensing and relaxing spontaneously.

Her muscles began to spasm like crazy, causing her limbs and body to reach and swing uncontrollably, the ribbons of dark energy visibly running over her body. Fire panicked as he tried to hold her steady, forgetting all about Soarin, who was at this point, long gone. He wanted to call Misty’s name to let her know he was there, but it would literally fall on deaf ears. Raspy squeaks began to escape Misty’s throat, as if the pain coursing through her was forcing noise through her unused vocal chords. Fire gritted his teeth as he frantically looked her over. He reached for her, but a crackle of blue energy zapped against his hoof.

“Argh!” he pulled his hoof back and shook it out. That really hurt… if just a small touch felt like that, what sort of unbearable pain was Misty in? Fire stared down at Misty in horror as tears began falling out of her eyes like streams. If she had a voice, she surely would be screaming and wailing. Fire shook his head and slammed his eyes shut.

He reached forward and clamped his arms around Misty. The painful shocks from her body surged into him, but he didn’t care. If he could absorb some of the pain and ease hers, that’s all that mattered to him.

“SOMEPONY GET HELP! PLEASE!” Fire yelled out to those standing nearby. “PLEASE!!!” He yelled out again as he felt the tears from Misty’s eyes dampen the chest portion of his uniform.

“Oh relax, I’ve got it,” a voice suddenly came from above them. An eagle talon suddenly reached down from above and lightly touched to Misty’s head. Fire instantly felt the pain fade and watched as the magic was pulled out of Misty, collecting in a small, baseball sized sphere on the talon. Fire looked up to see none other than Discord standing above them, balancing the sphere of dark magic on his finger. “That should do it.”

Fire looked back down to Misty. Her body stopped flailing and her breathing slowed, but her eyes were still open wide and tears were still falling from her eyes. She immediately clung to Fire’s uniform as tightly as she could and shivered with fright. Fire held her as tightly as he could for a moment before freeing his right arm slightly. He didn’t make her look up. He made the motions within her line of sight. He tapped his chest with his hoof, and then let it fall slightly before bringing his wings around and making two small circular motions towards him.

His signs said: “I’m here.”

Misty dug her face into his chest as she sniffled every few seconds. Fire just held her tight, waving off the medical crew as they approached until Misty was ready to move.

“Hmph,” Discord grunted as he examined the small mass of dark energy he pulled from Misty. “A small smidge of it managed to get out? That’s no good,” he blew at the sphere, causing it to dissipate like dust in the wind. “I should probably get to Lulu before he does,” Discord spoke to himself before disappearing as suddenly as he appeared.

“Wait!” Fire tried calling too little too late. He looked around for signs, but Discord was gone. “…thank you…” Fire sighed as he held Misty.

Soarin grunted and gasped as he sped through the castle access tunnel. He was bouncing off the walls and ceiling frequently, his body unable to choose a controlled direction. His head felt like it was under intense pressure, like it would explode any minute. His limbs were numb, but moving regardless. He felt like he was only half in control of his body. He’d try to move one direction, but his body would go in another.

He felt like he was in a pinball machine and his head was the ball with extra weight attached to it. He finally reached the other end of the tunnel, only to slam against the floor.

“RGGHH!!!! ARRGHH!!!!!” no matter what he tried he couldn’t reach the door handle. It just had to be a pull door, he couldn’t just blow through this one (at least not consciously), and he couldn’t concentrate enough to grab the handle, much less move his arm.

“Who’s there?” a passing royal guard suddenly opened the door. Soarin didn’t think. He only forced himself to move. He propelled forward and ran right into the guard, toppling him and tumbling to a halt inside the room behind the throne room. Multiple guards posted about stepped forward as Soarin barged in.

“NO!” Soarin forced his body to stand and shook his head as a few approached. “DON’T! DON’T COME NEAR ME! PLEASE!!!!!!” he pleaded. He took a step towards the throne room, but the step turned into a bound and his body thrust skyward. “JUST STAY…” Soarin was cut off as he landed face first on the ground. “AWAY!!!!” this was the tenth time he had smashed his head to the ground, at least. He had a wide trail of blood running down his left cheek.

Unfortunately, the guards were bound by duty to protect the princess no matter what. They bared Soarin’s path.

“NO! RUN! PLEASE!” Soarin forced his body forward, blowing right through the first two guards in his way.

He felt his conscious slipping. The strain on his mind was becoming too great for him to bear. He had to get to Luna now. He had no idea what was happening to him and had nopony else to turn to. Two more guards put their hooves on him. They were instantly blown aside by a magic pulse that fired out from around Soarin’s body.

“You cannot enter!” The last two guards posted in front of the door waited for Soarin to come to them, but they were cast aside like waste paper. Soarin’s vision had become blurry. He couldn’t see straight nor make out anything around him. All he could feel now was pain. Pain searing through his head like an arrow had just been put right through his skull. His body lurched forward once more and he burst through the doors.

“Ah, ah, ah…” Discord was right on the other side of the door. He reached forward with his hand and grabbed the tip of the false horn in his fingers.

“AAAAAAAAGGGHHHHHHAAAAAA!!!!!” Soarin cried out as the magic sparked and jolted out of control around the horn. Discord didn’t even flinch as the magic snapped and clawed at his hand. With one solid yank, Discord moved the horn back into the proper place.

Soarin felt like an explosion went off in his brain as if his whole skull had been shifted. And then the pain instantly ceased, leaving not a single trace of discomfort behind. Unfortunately, his mind was still completely battered by the experience. His hazy vision grew hazier as he slowly collapsed to the ground.

“What the devil was that?!” Soarin heard a male voice.

“We do not know!” Luna’s voice came from around the throne. Soarin caught the sights of three different, completely blurry ponies and Luna step around the throne.

“Soarin?!” a female voice called his name.

Then he completely passed out.

What had happened to Soarin?

Dash couldn’t keep her mind off of it. She may have been far away, but she saw most of it. She saw the sparking blue light shoot from him as Blaze tried to touch the fake horn on his head. She didn’t get much of an explanation from him on what was going on in his body, but seriously, what was wrong? What happened to him?

The third test was still finishing up, but Dash took absolutely no notice of the rest of the runs. She was too busy thinking about her stallion. She wanted to go with him. She wanted to make sure he would be okay. She trusted everything would be fine with Fire Streak and Misty Fly helping him, but what really struck her was the way Fleetfoot acted. Fleetfoot gave Dash a stern order. Being serious was something Fleetfoot almost never did. Something had to be up if she was taking it seriously. Dash wanted to know! She felt like she had the right to know! This was Soarin they were talking about… you know… her lover!


Dash cringed at the sharp, bitchy voice. She half expected to see Arctic glaring at her when she turned, but as she moved she saw something much worse.

Arctic Blast was glaring down at Derpy. Derpy had almost completely contorted herself into a ball towards the ground as Arctic imposed her will upon her.

“I… I don’t know! I didn’t mean…” Derpy shivered beneath Arctic’s ice cold stare.

“HOW COULD YOU DO THAT TO HIM?!?!” She yelled again, nearly spitting on Derpy in the process.

“I… I…” tears began to well up in Derpy’s eyes.




“HEY!” Dash yelled, sharply turned, and glared at Arctic before making her way over. She grabbed Arctic’s shoulder and forced her to look at her. “What the hell is WRONG with you?!”

“With me? ME?!” Arctic pressed her hooves to her chest then pointed at Derpy. “She PUNCHED Soarin! MY SOARIN!”

“Derpy did NOTHING!” Dash spat back, resisting the urge to punch Arctic in the face for calling Soarin 'her stallion' again. “Take your self-centered bullshit elsewhere!”

“Psh!” Arctic rolled her eyes and looked back to Derpy. “I can’t BELIEVE you would do such an awful thing!” she talked down to Derpy, completely ignoring Dash. Derpy began to whimper and Dash was quickly losing her cool.

“Hey! Back off!” Storm Front suddenly stepped over Derpy, shielding her underneath him and flaring his wings out defensively. Arctic raised an eyebrow at him.

“Oh, look at this white knight!” Arctic glared at Storm. A crowd of cadets was beginning to form around them, mostly due to backing off from the scuffle. Arctic pointed at Derpy again. “Are you all taking pity on this dumb bitch cause of her ugly wall-eyed face?!”

Dash snapped.


A hoof landed on her shoulder, followed by a loud yawn.

“No,” a nonchalant voice spoke. Dash turned to see High Winds holding her shoulder. Before Dash could say anything else, Winds pulled her aside and approached Arctic. She grabbed Arctic’s arm and started forcefully dragging her away.

“HEY! What did I do?!” she barked as she tried to rip free from Winds’ grip. She failed miserably and Winds pulled her out of earshot of everypony save for Dash.

“Enough,” Winds put plainly before yawning again and looking at Arctic as sternly as she could with her sleepy expression.

“Enough WHAT?!” Arctic threw her hooves up.

“Bitching,” Winds blinked and cracked her neck.

“Excuse me?!”

“I said bitching.”

“I KNOW! But what about her?!” Arctic pointed back towards Derpy. “Did you see what she did?!”


“And you’re not doing anything?! She punched MY stallion!” Arctic repeated to Winds. Winds just blinked again. “Seriously, you have to do something abou—,”

“Sorry, all I’m hearing right now…” Winds paused to yawn. “Is, blah, blah, blah… I’m a whiney little skank that takes it in the ass,” she said with a completely calm, straight face. Arctic’s body froze so hard it was a surprise the sound of glass breaking didn’t echo from her. Her mouth hung open and her eyes grew in disbelief.

“Whoa, there!” Blaze hovered down while chuckling. “I think you’ve made your point Windy, I’ll just stop you while you’re ahead.”

“Okay,” Winds replied calmly as Blaze turned her around and the two flew off, leaving Arctic behind with High Winds’ words still sinking in.

Dash had heard the whole thing and was trying not to burst out laughing. Not at Arctic’s expense… okay maybe a little bit at her expense… but more so at how BLUNT High Winds was to her. That ought to shut up Arctic for a while.

It only lasted a moment though, because Derpy suddenly came back to mind. She quickly turned around to see Derpy crying. The tears were gushing down her face. That horrible comment from Arctic really hit her hard. Dash would have moved in to comfort her, but Storm Front had beaten her too it. In fact he was already down with a wing and arm draped over Derpy before Dash even turned.

“Hey, don’t cry, I’m here,” he spoke softly to her as she sniffled.

“But… she… she said…” Derpy hiccupped and dug her eyes into her arm.

“Don’t listen to her, you have wonderful eyes,” he countered Arctic’s insult while rubbing his hoof gently on her back. Dash smiled and trotted up to Storm while eyeing the other cadets that were watching. She bent down and whispered to Storm.

“You’re a great guy. Thanks,” she smiled at him. “Stay with her, I’ll get this crowd away.”

“Alright,” Storm nodded.

“Okay, break it up, BREAK IT UP!” Dash turned to the cadets and threw her hooves out. “Nothing to see here! Get lost!” she barked at them as they all moved away. “HEY! I said get lost!” She pointed at one cadet that didn’t move before trotting over and pushing him away.

Dash turned and looked back at Storm as he comforted Derpy. While the sight made her happy and made her feel more than ever like she could trust Storm, she had to look away. It only made her think of Soarin.

Seriously… what the hell happened to Soarin? Was he hurt? Was something else wrong? She didn’t give a damn what was wrong actually, she just knew something wasn’t right and he had been injured in some way. She wanted to comfort him. The sight of Storm over Derpy only reminded her that she was unable to go to Soarin’s side.

She hoped nothing bad had happened or was happening.

--- To Be Continued ---

Chapter 15: The Griffon Speaks

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Piercing the Heavens
By: Calm Wind

Chapter 15:

Thankfully the scene surrounding Derpy cleared away through Dash’s efforts. Storm Front also quickly had Derpy back on her hooves and feeling better. Dash was impressed. She was more than certain she had never known a nicer stallion in her life. At the same time couldn’t believe Arctic Blast (who was still stuck frozen where High Winds had told her off). What she said to Derpy… it was just HEARTLESS. How in Equestria did the nicest and absolute worst pony end up in the same place at the same time?

Although everything was mostly back to normal among the cadets, Dash stared up blankly towards the Wonderbolts setting up the next test. Again, thoughts of Soarin occupied ever corner of her brain. She had to stop. She was worried sick about him, but she couldn’t forget why she was there. She was there to make the Wonderbolts. Besides, she was sure that Soarin would tear her a new one if she skipped out on making her dreams just to check up on him. It looked like something bad had happened, but he had Fire and Misty with him! He’d be fine… nothing would happen… right?

This was driving her crazy… WHAT WAS WRONG WITH SOARIN?!

“You,” a thick accented voice came from above her.

“Whoa!” Dash flinched hard and spun around quickly. Her face bopped right into black feathers. “Blah! Ptooey!” Dash pulled her head back and spat a black feather out of her mouth. She looked up to see Matteo towering over her and looking down with his usual glare.

“Your name was Rainbow Dash, correct?” he asked quickly and sharply.

“Uh… yeah?” Dash lifted an eyebrow in confusion.

“You used my Air Burst technique. How?” he drilled her.

“Your what?”

“You haven’t the wings nor the strength to pull off my maneuvers. How did you do it?” his tone of voice never changed, but his presence felt like it was pressing her to the floor. Dash finally registered it. He wanted to know how she pulled off his strange wing thrust move. Dash blinked, and then smirked.

“It was nothing,” she said and turned her back on him while whisking her mane over her shoulder.

“It clearly was,” he pressed.

“Oh, so it’s fine for you not to tell me about your moves, but when you wanna know about mine I have to tell you?” Dash tipped her head to the left and gave Matteo a smug look. Matteo blinked, and then snorted. Dash wasn’t quite sure, but she swore she saw a small grin form on the side of his beak.

“Very well,” he sat down in his spot and looked back towards Dash. “I have no idea how you managed to do it, but I commend you. It is not an easy technique to execute.”

“T-thanks…” Dash didn’t know what to say.

“She had help, eh, eh, EH?” Another voice… this one right beside Dash’s ear.

“AH!” Dash pulled her head away and saw Twister standing beside her, eying her creepily.

“Hey, big bird!” Twister sped around Dash and was now reclining in the crook of Matteo’s back between his wings. “Wanna know how she did it? She used my move at the same time to counter the pressure!” Twister explained with a hint of excitement in his voice. He slid down Matteo’s back and circled around back to Dash.

“Your point?” Matteo cocked his head to the side as the peculiar pony kept rambling.

“HEEEEEheheheheheeee, she’s watching us!” he appeared on Dash’s other side. “Seeing our moves!” he appeared behind her. “And putting them together!” he dropped to the ground and slithered on his stomach like a snake over to Matteo. “In short…” his wings extended and fluttered so fast with such a small follow through that they made a buzzing noise as he lifted up to eye level with Matteo. “She’s making us look bad. HEEEE!”

“Ugh!” Matteo grunted in annoyance as he tried to peck at Twister with his beak. Twister fell back to the ground and slithered backwards back towards Dash. “That is merely how you see it,” Matteo huffed. Dash tried to take a few steps away as Twister approached, but he popped up beside her and put her in a gentle headlock.

“Nonsense, my fine feathered brute. I SAY WE KILL HER NOW!” his voice turned extremely sinister.

“WHAT?!?!” Dash flailed in his grip, which was a lot stronger than it was initially. Twister burst out laughing for exactly two seconds before instantly stopping and looking towards Dash with pouty lips.

“Only kidding… silly filly. Or am I? I guess it depends on your outlook in life,” he sat down, keeping Dash in the headlock, effectively pulling her down onto her stomach. “Am I being half honest or am I half lying? Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Is the sky blue or red? If a tree falls on you in the forest, and nopony is around to see it happen, does it hurt?” Twister blinked and bent his neck all the way down and got in Dash’s face. “What were we talking about again? HAH! Doesn’t matter!” He let go of Dash and floated up towards Matteo. Dash didn’t bother getting up. She lay still with the biggest “what the hell” look she could muster. Because seriously… what the hell?

“You’re beginning to annoy me,” Matteo glared as Twister began flying continuous circles around his head.

“Big birdie doesn’t know how to have fun! I’m being myself! What are you going to do about it? HURK!” Twister choked on his sentence as Matteo reached out and grabbed Twister around the neck with one of his talons. Twister didn’t struggle, he just let his body go limp as Matteo held him up in front of him. “HA! I KNEW you were going to do that! Now for my next trick…” Twister reached up a hoof and coiled it into part of his wild mane. He griped a firm amount of it and yanked hard, pulling a good amount of hair out of his head. “AAAAAHHHH HAHA!”

“I have no words for you… crazy pony…” Matteo said simply as he furrowed his brow, thoroughly disturbed.

“Whoa, big fella!” Lightning Streak suddenly flew down with Surprise in tow. “I think he’s weird too, but put him down. Gotta keep the cadets calm, you know?” Lightning spoke casually while scratching the back of his head with his right wing. Surprise set her eye on Twister immediately and fixed an unprovoked glare in his direction. Dash noticed as she stood up and decided to step back just a little. She had already had her fill of crazy ponies… Surprise wasn’t going to alleviate feeling.

“Oh, hey daaaaaarling,” Twister directed at Surprise as Matteo reluctantly let go of him. Twister bounced his eyebrows at her as he smacked the uprooted hair back against his mane and it somehow stuck. Surprise pushed past Lightning Streak and got in Twister’s face.

“Nice try wacko, I’m ready for you this time!” she poked him hard in the chest. His pupils shrank to tiny little dots as his sneer widened and almost reached his ears.

“Ready?” His pupils grew and filled the entirety of his eyes. “For me?” they shrank back to normal size. He blinked and Surprise was gone.

“It there an echo in here?” she said from behind him. He turned. She was gone again. “Is there an echo in here?” he looked up, nothing. “Is there an echo in here?” he looked down, she wasn’t there either. Surprise appeared back in front of him. “What do you think of—”

“I think I found the echo,” Twister was behind her.

“WAH!” she flipped forward, turned and glared at him. He was flying upside-down and frowning so it looked like a smile to those who were right-side up. “You’re good!” Surprise pounded her hooves together. “But NOPONY out-crazies Surprise!”

“Oh man, I am staying out of this one…” Lightning Streak stepped back

“Try me!” Twister provoked Surprise as he zipped over to Matteo and flew beneath his legs.

“Hey!” Matteo yelled as he tried to move away, but no matter where he stepped, Twister moved with him like he was tethered to him. Twister hopped up and tucked his head underneath Matteo’s left wing.

“You can’t hide from me!” Surprise yelled while hopping over Matteo’s back and pulling up his left wing.

“Nope, I’m under this one!” Twister appeared from under Matteo’s right wing.

“So am I!” Surprise was suddenly beside him under the wing.

“Not bad…” Twister disappeared beneath Matteo’s thick coat of feathers.

“Get back here!” Surprise dove in after him. Matteo twitched and shook his body as Surprise chased Twister beneath his feathers. He finally just stood still, a look of pure, annoyed, reluctant, acceptance on his face as he realized there was no stopping the two silly ponies.

“Actually I’m over here,” Twister suddenly said casually while stepping up between Dash and Lightning, who were standing at least ten yards away from Matteo. Surprise popped up from Matteo’s feathers and stared in disbelief. She scrunched her face and growled before smirking sinisterly.

“Oh no, I’m pretty sure you’re right…” Surprise dug a hoof deep into Matteo’s feathers. Twister flinched as something suddenly yanked him backwards. Dash and Lightning looked behind them to see Twister was gone. “…HERE!” Surprise lifted her hoof up, pulling Twister out of Matteo’s feathers.

“How the…” Twister looked around quickly before locking his eyes on Surprise, who had a victorious grin on her face. “You…” Twister gritted his teeth. “You are delicious!” he licked his lips and looked towards Surprise with a new wave of interest.

“Eh?” Surprise leaned away from him.

“I must have you!” he began leaning towards her with his arms outstretched.

“EW! NO!” Surprise dove into Matteo’s feathers and the chase began all over again, this time with Twister chasing Surprise through Matteo’s feathers. Matteo just stood still and grunted in annoyance.

“I’m surrounded… by idiots…” he grumbled.

“Should we stop them?” Dash glanced at Lightning Streak. Lightning shrugged.

“I ain’t gettin’ between those two,” he shook his head. Dash smirked at him.

“That’s a surprisingly intelligent choice for you,” she said sarcastically.

“Heh, thanks,” Lightning smiled and nodded. Dash blinked and stared at him for a good thirty seconds. She rolled her eyes, checked to see if the forth test was set up yet, and trotted over to get a better spot, should the line start forming early. Lightning sat and watched Matteo get harassed by the two weird ponies for another minute before he blinked twice. “Wait, what?”


A voice filled with care and sweetness caressed the edges of Soarin’s ears. He awoke, but not pleasantly.


The voice sounded like that of an angel. Soarin’s own personal angel. It did little to make his head feel better, but it caused a warm feeling that countered the pain. Every stallion had an idea of what an angelic voice was supposed to sound like. It all was a matter of preference.

“Dammit Soarin, WAKE UP!”

Oh, it was like music to his ears. He opened his eyes slowly. His left eyelid stopped halfway by a large bandage that had been wrapped around the left side of his head. It was awkwardly tied over the leather strap of the horn. It was slightly red, probably because his head was bleeding from multiple blows of the face to the floor. He didn’t feel concussed, which was a miracle with how much head trauma he had taken, but he was probably somewhat shielded by the magic itself as it ran rampant. Despite his woozy, slightly dizzy state, he’d probably be much worse off right now if not for the magic strengthening his body.

He immediately searched for the source of the voice. He was in his room, in his bed. How long had he been out? He didn’t know. The blood seemed fresh on the bandage, but he didn’t know for sure. All he could think of was the voice. He knew the owner and she would make things perfect, no matter what his body’s state.

“Rainbow Dash?” he turned his head to the right. She was there, she was standing right there.

“Sheesh! Finally! I thought you were gonna sleep forever!” Dash chuckled as she leaned onto his bed. “But I was worried, don’t get me wrong. You gotta stop getting yourself hurt, seriously,” she reached a hoof forward and stroked his arm gently.

“Heh,” Soarin looked straight up at the ceiling, “where would I be without your sass?” Soarin reached his arm over and pulled her in. Her body slid onto the bed and she giggled while smirking at him.

“You’d be nothing without my sass,” she bounced her eyebrows.

“Shut up and come here,” he winked.

“Yes sir,” she licked her lips and leaned in. Soarin closed his eyes, waiting for the perfect feeling of Dash’s lips pressed to his. “Treat me like a dirty little rainbow!” It wasn’t Dash’s voice anymore. It was male, it was sly, and it was painfully familiar.

Soarin’s eyes snapped open to see Discord’s snake-like neck in the crook of his arm. Soarin’s face turned white as Discord made kissing noises towards him and batted fake feminine eyelashes at him.

“AHHHH!!!!!” Soarin pushed Discord away and tried to sit up. His head throbbed like mad, causing his body to flinch. On top of that, Soarin instinctively brought a hoof up to his chest as his heart started beating rapidly, almost jumping out of his chest. “Rgh!” he grunted and twitched.

“Oh, no, no, no little pony…” Discord reached forward and gently forced Soarin to lay back flat. “I would avoid strenuous activity at the moment. Your body just went through an incredible amount of magical stress… to be honest if you weren’t so stubborn it probably would have killed you,” he backed away from Soarin. Soarin’s breathing calmed and he felt his heart rate slow. “It would be best if you just stayed put and rested.”

“So…” Soarin scrunched his brow. “Let me get this straight… it’s best for me and my body right now to get lots of rest and stay down… so you decided to play a trick on me and scare the ever-living shit out of me?!” he barked at Discord before wincing and putting a hoof towards his head. Discord reached out and caught Soarin’s hoof.

“Trust me, you’d rather leave your head alone right now,” he pushed Soarin’s hoof back down. “And come now… is it really my fault you fell for it so easily? You haven’t been out long. You’re head is still bleeding for me’s sake. You should know your little Dashie would never…” he disappeared and reappeared on Soarin’s chest, shaped like an incredibly small pony. He was wearing a Wonderbolt uniform and a pair of goggled that were too big for his face. “…skip out on a chance to fulfill her fillyhood dream!” he did a pirouette and struck a silly pose before blipping right back to where he was.

“That’s just wrong,” Soarin grunted in annoyance.

“How was it by the way?” Discord was right beside him now, leaning an elbow on the bed.

“How was what?” Soarin asked, confused. Discord snapped his fingers and Rainbow Dash appeared right next to him. She had a default smile and vacant expression.

“My puppet ponies of course!” Discord reached his hand up and moved his fingers around. The fake Rainbow Dash began walking in a circle. “They’re just like the real thing! Only they’re not of course. Oh, think of the PRANKS!” he turned his fist and pointed his thumb up before bending and straightening his thumb. The fake Dash crouched and stood repeatedly. Soarin just watched with his mouth agape and a disturbed expression plastered to his face. Discord continued by putting one hand flat on top of the back of the other, interlocking his fingers, and flapping his thumbs up and down. The fake Dash hopped up and flapped its wings.

OKAY! I GET IT! You’re creeping the hell out of me!” Soarin demanded.

“Just like the rest… not a single bit of fun blood cells flowing in that mortal body of yours…” Discord snapped and the doll disappeared.

“So are you here for a reason? Or just to harass me?” Soarin averted his eyes, not wanting to even acknowledge the god of dickery.

“Both of course! You should know by now that I’m not a god of one hit thrills,” he slithered around the bed. “You see… I’m completely on board with Lulu on this one… But I don’t care what she says. If I have to make little changes here or there to make it work, she can deal with it and sweep up the little chaos magic repercussions with her dainty magical princess broom.”

“Just get to the point please… my head hurts enough,” Soarin groaned.

“FFFFFFFFine,” Discord scoffed. “You took a slap to the strap-on, and it got knocked out of place. I did not expect you to get slapped in the face so soon, but you went ahead and made it so. The disturbance from the off-center horn made the magic run rampant. It was only just getting used to having a clear canal… distorting that canal... well, you’re lucky you didn’t kill anypony. You almost killed one.”

“What?!” Soarin’s eyes shot open. He almost sat up in bed, but he didn’t want to repeat that blunder again.

“I believe her name is Misty Fly. At least that’s what your other Wonderbolt friend cried out when a smidge of your magic tried to rip her apart from inside out,” Discord said while crossing his arms and leaning his back into the corner of the room.

“I hurt Misty? No…” Soarin looked straight up.

“You didn’t hurt her. She merely touched you right at the moment of a dark magical pulse. The exact moment of magic gathering is always when it is the most potent. It passed right through her body. I drew it out of her, so don’t go thinking you killed the poor thing. She’ll be perfectly fine… probably just in shock for a day. Your red maned stallion friend is already taking care of her… ah, how sweet of him,” Discord slumped a little on the wall. “Really, I thought you Wonderbolts were supposed to be soldiers. There’s an awful lot of fluff in the air,” he made all his fur puff outward briefly.

“Fire Streak…” Soarin thought of his teammate out loud. As Discord had said, it wasn’t really his doing, but he felt responsible for exposing Fire and Misty to a problem they weren’t even a part of. “Wait…” Soarin realized something. The whole thing happened because he took a simple blow to the fake horn. “Are you telling me that any sort of force applied to this dumb thing will cause… THAT to happen?” he shook his head lightly. “How the hell am I supposed to engage in combat when a light tap to the head can make my brain explode!?”

“I’ve already got it covered,” Discord appeared beside him. He touched a finger to the leather strap of the horn. It glowed for a brief moment before Soarin felt something clamp tightly around his head.

“Ow! What the—”

“Taadaa! I doubt it will move now!” Discord motioned his hands to it. “Oh, allow me.” He held up a small mirror. Soarin looked into it and saw the leather trap had been replaced with a thick metal band. It was somewhat heavy and it was really tight. “Reinforced! I doubt the horn will budge an inch now. Even if it was hit by a passing train! Congratulations Soarin! You’re the first pony in history to use protection with a strap-on,” he snickered vigorously at his own joke.

“Could you have made it any more…” Soarin twitched and winced. “Uncomfortable?!”

“Waaaaaah!” Discord cried into Soarin’s face. He was gone the instant later and reappeared in the spot against the corner he stood in earlier. He snapped his fingers and a group of thirty tiny violins began playing high-pitched classical music above Soarin’s face. “Your telling me you just had you insides bear hugged and your head almost twisted off by dark magic inside of you… and you’re going to complain about a slightly uncomfortable metal band around your head? It’s either this or possibly lose your mind again with another mishap. I don’t think you can afford the freedom of choice in this situation… it affects those around you as much as it affects you.”

“Fine…” Soarin sighed heavily and rested his head firmly on the pillow. Even resting, the metal band felt like it was digging into his head. Discord shook his head as he watched Soarin internally whine about the new fixture.

“This whole rampage scenario could have been avoided you know,” Discord spoke up again. Soarin looked towards him grumpily.

“Oh, really? Enlighten me.”

“What a grouch,” Discord lifted an eyebrow before shaking his head. “If only you had taken Rainbow Dash with you. The magic would have been tamed and none of the crazy things would have happened.”

“You know I couldn’t do that. We’re staying apart to remove suspicion from the tryouts,” Soarin shook his head. “It’s too risky… wait, how do you know about that?” Soarin was pretty sure he had told nopony about the way Dash’s presence eases the dark magic.

“Do you even know why that happens?” Discord leaned towards Soarin, turning his head slightly sideways and his eyebrow detaching, rising all the way up until it touched the ceiling. Soarin opened his mouth to speak, but stopped when he realized… no, he didn’t know why.


“Of course you don’t,” Discord cut him off as he pushed himself off the wall. “When Celestia used the forbidden dark magic, she required more life force to power the spell than she… the mighty goddess of the sun… possessed… at least if she didn’t want to erase herself from existence,” Discord slowly approached the bed. “With the help of two volunteers she was able to spread the strain of the magic between her and two other small life forces… specifically, your old friend Spitfire… and Rainbow Dash.”

Soarin listened quietly. He stared straight up as the information sank in.

“So when the magic was contained within you, effectively reviving you… it was forced into your body with a familiar imprint of Spitfire’s and Rainbow Dash’s life force. They were the two keys that helped lock the gate… and it fears them,” Discord paused to glance at Soarin.

“But… Spitfire has never caused the effects to ease or multiply… only Dash did!” Soarin questioned. Discord leaned down.

“Is a mutual friendship as strong as the bond of love?” he winked. “They were chosen to aid the princess because they shared a connection with you. It both made the magic stronger and easier to lock away. You’re friendship with Spitfire is strong, and it left a strong imprint, but it is nothing compared to Dash’s. You and Dash are in love correct? I assume you are. You’ve caused enough drama to hit Bridleway in Manehatten for centuries,” he chuckled as hearts floated up above him, which were all suddenly popped by tiny arrows that shot up from the ground. “Dash left an imprint so strong on your magic, that her mere presence causes it to back away… and even listen to you in fear of being punished! Quite an interesting development wouldn’t you say? I didn’t even think such a thing was possible!”

Discord sighed as Soarin didn’t answer. He pointed to his chest, the letters “TL;DR” appeared in his fur.

“Long story short…” Discord began again. “Dark magic fears love,” he paused to let it sink in. “The magic Celestia used on you was devised by King Sombra you know… want to know what Sombra feared? The crystal heart. The magic of love.”

“Huh…” Soarin couldn’t believe Discord was making sense. Again, just like before when Discord helped Luna apply the fake horn. There was clearly a real threat to letting his magic run wild. If Discord of all… things was willing to help and be “supportive” then it had to be important.

“BLARGH!” Discord suddenly cringed, pulled out a very large brown bag and began making heavy heaving noises into it. “Dear me, I almost couldn’t hold it in…” he fake heaved more. “Me… the god of chaos… talking about love! The universe is going to end and this time I didn't mean to do it!”

“Still though…” Soarin ignored him. “I can’t risk bringing her into it. Not even now like this,” he lightly lifted his arms and let them fall back down.

“Nonsense,” Discord was back upright and perfectly fine, and wearing his doctor costume again. “Dr. Discord recommends you sneak your little rainbow here and spend one hour with her. That should ease the magic enough for you to recover quickly. You have tryout courses to run the day after tomorrow, correct? Trust me, this is the only way you’ll be up for that. I’ll pull my own leg to prove that I’m not pulling yours,” he reached over and pulled off his left arm.

“That’s your arm,” Soarin said flatly.

“Beside the point!” Discord re-attached his arm. “I’m not joking about the sneaking your lover in here.”

“Fine, I’ll see what I can do,” Soarin admitted defeat. Discord may be a god of chaos, but he’s still a god. It’s not good to ignore advice from a god.

Then the door to Soarin’s room swung open.

“What the hell is—” Wave Chill’s face appeared in the door. He froze, blinked and closed the door quickly. Shortly after a knock came at the door.

“Wow, for real?” Discord chuckled to himself.

“Just come in Wave,” Soarin called towards the door. Wave Chill re-entered slowly and stood attention. He was still in his full uniform.

“Commander Soarin!” he saluted. “I was sent by captain Spitfire to…” he paused as he saw Discord in the corner.

“Don’t mind him… what is it?” Soarin just wanted to hear what Wave had to say before it got lost in his formalities.

“Sir, I was sent by captain Spitfire to assess the situation sir! I found the lobby had battle scars, you were not with Princess Luna, and 3rd captain Fire Streak and 3rd Commander Misty Fly were missing!” as he gave his stoic report, Discord appeared behind him and began making over dramatic salutes with his tongue sticking out and eyes crossed. Wave glanced behind himself, but Discord was back up against the wall where he stood before. “Sir, what should I report?!” he asked as he looked back to Soarin.

“First, cut the damn soldier stuff. Second, just tell her we had a bad dark magic mishap. Tell her to check on Misty Fly and I’ll give her more details later,” Soarin explained.

“Sir! Yes, Sir! I will report to Spitfire, sir!”

“I’m right here, save yourself the walk.”

Wave and Soarin both flinched as Spitfire walked in through the door, in uniform. She removed her goggles and fixed her eyes on Wave.

“Well? Give me the report,” she ordered. Wave looked between her and Soarin, but she kept looking at him.

“Um… Yes ma’am!” he saluted, “Commander Soarin said—”

“Actually…” Spitfire cut him off. Wave’s lips froze. “Forget the report.”

“Ma’am?” Wave lifted an eyebrow. Spitfire reached up and removed the mask portion of her uniform. She whisked her mane back and forth with her eyes closed. Her mane swished around, and she slowly opened her eyes, looking directly into Wave’s eyes.

“Forget all the reports,” Spitfire swayed her plot back and forth as she stepped towards him. Wave didn’t move. He was stuck in place with no idea what she was doing. She reached up and pulled off his goggles. His eyes darted around as she removed the mask portion of his flight suit as well. “These things are in the way… wouldn’t you agree?” she said seductively as the noise of the zipper on her spandex suit ripped quietly into the air around them.

Soarin was having trouble seeing because of how he was forced to lay down, but he heard every word. What the bloody hell was happening?

“C-C-C-C-Captain…” Wave tried to keep his eyes from going down to her body as she slipped her uniform off completely. A mad blush covered Wave’s face as she got real close to him. He finally found the strength to move and backed all the way up against the wall to the point where he was standing only on his hind legs. Spitfire hovered up and gently pressed the entirety of her body against him while never once taking her eyes off of his.

“Kiss me… that’s an order…” Spitfire crashed her lips against his. Wave’s eyes widened, his wings shot out at his sides and his face turned so red the dark blue of his fur almost completely vanished.

Soarin’s mouth hung agape as he saw it all happen in his peripheral vision. What the hell was Spitfire doing?! Why the hell was she doing it in his room!?!?!


Soarin quickly glanced over at Discord. Discord was grinning snidely with his hands balled up in fists and rubbing the bases of his thumbs together.

“DISCORD!!!!!!” Soarin yelled out. Discord burst out laughing and Spitfire suddenly disappeared into thin air, leaving a very flustered, very red, and very admittedly turned on Wave Chill with his back against the wall. Wave fell from the wall back onto all four hooves, still blinking with his mouth agape.

“I…” Wave barely managed to say as his body covered with goose bumps and jittered all over. “I have to go report,” he said quickly and sprinted out of the room as fast as he could.

Soarin turned his eyes sternly to Discord, who was STILL laughing like he had heard the world’s funniest joke for the first time.

“You’re a real asshole, you know that?” Soarin shook his head.

“Only the best kind!” Discord gave him a wink and a thumbs-up. “Now rest, and get some rainbow sugar later,” he shook his finger at Soarin. “Au revoir! I have pranks to pull!” he disappeared without a trace.

Soarin groaned and let his head rest naturally on the pillow.

Why did everything have to be so damn annoying and complicated?

--- To be Continued ---

Chapter 16: Derpy Makes History

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Piercing the Heavens
By: Calm Wind

Chapter 16:

“Damn!” Dash cursed as she barely passed through the check point in time.

The fourth test was another unexpected trial: an endurance test. It was fairly simple. All the cadets had to fly circles around the gym, while staying outside certain boundaries which were marked off by four large poles, one near each corner of the gym. Fly laps till you drop. Very appealing. There was a catch though. Each lap had to be completed in less than 25 seconds.

The starting line near the entrance to the gym also served as a checkpoint. Any pony that didn’t make it around in a twenty-five second increment was stopped by one of the Wonderbolts and forced to land. The pace for making it around all four sections of the gym within twenty-five seconds was pretty fast. One couldn’t just mosey through it. It appeared the only thing they were being judged on here was how long they lasted.

Dash was on her tenth lap and she was already feeling it. It had only been a little over two minutes and she was slowing down. She shouldn’t have used the Sonic Blast-off twice. She was feeling the drag on her wings. Her body wasn’t quite so bad, but her wings and stamina felt more drained than they should have. She pushed through her eleventh lap with a small burst of speed to catch the checkpoint right before twenty five seconds. She wouldn’t be able to hold this out much longer. Showing off made her dazzle in the third test, but now it was coming back to bite her, and boy, did it bite hard.

She glanced down to see a number of cadets were already done. She easily spotted Bulk Biceps below. No offense to the big lug, but she wasn’t really surprised. She saw Thunderlane get forced to the ground by Blaze. Again, not surprised. Thunderlane didn’t work out much.

Dash looked back up to make the wide left turn around the pseudo-track they had laid out. She winced and wheezed as she worked her wings as hard as her fatigue allowed. She took a quick look to her left down the incoming straightaway. She was also lagging behind. It wasn’t a race, but Dash hated it regardless. She didn’t want to look slow, ever, even if it was an endurance test.

She pumped her wings down the straightaway, catching a few familiar colors pitching into the turn ahead of her. Storm Front was near the front of the pack, followed closely by… Arctic Blast? Dash gritted her teeth. She didn’t care that endurance wasn’t her forte. Being behind Barktic Last was unacceptable. Dash grunted and forced her wings to flap harder. She passed two other cadets while pitching into the second turn. She would push through one more lap. Then one more, and then one more. She WOULD NOT fall before Arctic.

She passed through the checkpoint to start her twelfth lap, an instant before Wonderbolts jumped in to stop those behind her. She glanced back and saw Matteo being pushed down by Fleetfoot and Lightning Streak. How the hell did Matteo keep being behind her without her noticing? She would never expect a big lumbering griffon to sneak around so quietly.

Back into the first turn Dash went, she blinked as she saw Storm Front slowing down. It wasn’t only him. It looked like a lot of the ponies ahead of her were hitting their endurance wall. Dash was determined to make a move. Unfortunately, as soon as she made it around the turn…

“Shoot…” Dash mumbled as her resolve could no longer overpower her tired wing muscles. They couldn’t press any harder, her wings began slowing down. She took the second turn much slower than the first. She grimaced as her wing muscles began to burn, but if she could just make one more check point…

It was too late. High Winds, Blaze, and Silver Lining all popped up to stop cadets that were still ahead of her.

“Sorry Dash,” Fleetfoot’s voice came from below. Dash looked down as Fleetfoot softly pulled her down to the ground. Dash landed softly and Fleetfoot lifted back off to continue her duties. Dash gasped and wheezed as she fell lightly on her stomach. She could have done more. She knew she could go longer. The Sonic Blast-off was her undoing here. She looked around, seeing Storm Front among those who had been pulled down.

But there was no sign of Arctic. Dash’s head snapped up. She pounded a hoof against the floor in frustration. Arctic was still flying. A lot of ponies had been brought down after the twelfth lap. There were maybe only fifty cadets left. Fifty… a whole fifty cadets looked better than her in this trial. The trial and circumstances were much different… but fifty better than her. The only bit of info that sunk in was there were fifty who scored better in this trial.

Dash watched as the remaining ponies circled around. More of them began faltering. The twenty-five second mark was approaching.

“DAMN!” Dash cursed again as Arctic barely made it through to the fourteenth lap. Twister was forced down by Surprise along with thirty more.

Arctic ranked in the top twenty for endurance. This was not looking good. Arctic had performed well in the other trials… she was sure to make it past the first day now. Arctic along with all but five hit a wall hard as they came around the first turn. Arctic was stopped along with fourteen others and forced to land. The pack was slowly being whittled down.

Who else remained? The last five ponies were bunched really close together. Fifteenth lap. Sixteenth lap. Seventeenth lap. Two of the ponies were stopped as they fell behind. Now only three remained. Eighteenth lap. Nineteenth lap. Twentieth lap. There ponies had rad endurance. If Dash hadn’t been so tired because of the Sonic Blast-off, she was sure she would have only gotten around sixteen laps.

Then on the twenty-first lap, two of the three ponies slowed right before the finish and missed the mark. It left only one pony in the air. Dash blinked as she tried to make out who it was, but she couldn’t see that far down the track. The pony was moving at a very constant pace and seemed like it had been doing so for the entire run. Suddenly, Thunderlane dragged himself over to Dash.

“Dash! That’s—!” he didn’t even get to finish. The pony came into view and Dash’s eyes widened.

“DERPY?!” Dash blurted out in disbelief.

Indeed it was Derpy. Derpy was puttering along at her own pace. She didn’t look very tired. In fact her movements were very controlled and natural. She had kept the pace up for twenty-one laps and hit the checkpoint into the twenty second at the twenty four second mark. She kept the pace and again, hit the next lap at twenty-four seconds. Exact same time, exact same pace, and never changing it.

“Holy crap…” Dash blinked as she watched Derpy enter her twenty-seventh lap. “How’s she keeping this going?!”

Within the boundary of the course, Spitfire watched in awe as Derpy kept passing the timer at exactly twenty four seconds. Spitfire reset the clock each time, but Derpy was so constant she almost felt like the clock was unnecessary.

“Silver!” Spitfire called down to Silver Lining as Derpy began yet another lap. Silver Lining slowly rose up beside her. “What was Flashwind’s record on the endurance test?” she asked. Silver was the oldest of the current Wonderbolts, he had extensive knowledge of their course records.

“Thirty-five laps, ma’am,” he answered respectfully. Spitfire turned and reset the stop watch again as Derpy passed.

“She’s on twenty nine… I wonder if she can do it.” Spitfire grinned as she watched Derpy circle around.

“That’d be quite something, ma’am,” Silver commented as Derpy began her thirtieth lap.

“Go get the other squads up here and post them around the course to cheer her on. This is crazy, I love it!” Spitfire chuckled.

“Yes, ma’am,” Silver gave a salute and dropped back down.

“That’s gotta be thirty-one… is there some sort of record for this?” Dash smiled as she saw Derpy put on an unexpected display of near super powered endurance. She watched in awe as both Bulk and Storm Front approached them as well.

“YEEEEEAAAAHHH DERPY!!!!” Bulk roared out as she made another pass and started her thirty-second lap.

“This is amazing! Go Derpy, GO!” Storm Front cheered on as well. All eyes were now up towards Derpy as she casually continued her pace. Her flight was uneven, wobbling up and down slightly as she went, but never once did she break her pace.

Dash watched with growing excitement as the Wonderbolts all rose up around the flight track.

“Keep it going!” Fleetfoot yelled as Derpy passed.

“Don’t stop now! Go for it!” Blaze called.

Derpy got to her thirty-third lap.

“Come on girl!” Lightning called out.

“Keep it moving, keep it moving!” Silver Lining swung his arm around as she passed.

Thirty-fourth lap.

“YAY! RANDOM GREY PONY!” Surprise yelled out while throwing confetti into the air.

“Woo…” High winds said before yawning.

Derpy hit lap thirty-five. She was beginning to look a little tired, but her pace remained. She smiled as she saw all the Wonderbolts cheering. It felt so good.

“Come on! You got it! You got it! Go! Go! Go!” Spitfire yelled while beckoning Derpy towards the finish line. Derpy ran through. Tying the record she didn’t even know existed and starting a lap that would break said record if she finished it. “GO!!!!” Spitfire called one more time as Derpy passed.

From below all the cadets were now gathering and watching. They picked up on the Wonderbolts’ excitement and began cheering on as well. All save for one. Dash glanced and saw Arctic through the crowd with her front hooves crossed and her face scrunched. She was a double bitch, so karma now bitched her twice.

“HAHAHA!!!!!!” Spitfire laughed and pumped a hoof in the air as Derpy came around and made it through thirty six laps.

But she still didn’t stop. In fact her pace picked up. She was smiling incredibly wide and feeding off the energy of the Wonderbolts and the cadets below.

Thirty-seven laps… Thirty-eight laps… she began slowing down, but her pace was still just fast enough. The Wonderbolts and cadets began calling out the number lap she was on.



Derpy’s wings began tiring, but she pressed on.



The Wonderbolts were going absolutely nuts. Dash thought Fleetfoot was going to pull her mane out she looked so excited.

Art by: Randompig212

Derpy winced as her wings began to fail her. She came around the final turn and slowed considerably. After forty two laps and almost a forty-third, Derpy missed the checkpoint by half a second. Spitfire instantly came forward and helped Derpy stay up before she could wobble towards the ground. Cheering erupted from below and all the other Wonderbolts flew in while whooping and hollering.

Derpy had absolutely no idea why everypony started cheering, but it made her so happy. She felt like a superstar. She was getting pats on the back and her mane ruffled by famous Wonderbolts. It gave her goose bumps.

“What’s your name cadet?” Spitfire asked as the Wonderbolts gave her a little space, but still gathered around.

“Derpy Hooves,” Derpy replied sheepishly while glancing around at all the celebrities. Spitfire smiled.

“Well Derpy, you just set a Wonderbolt endurance course record. You’re the first non-Wonderbolt to hold a course record in the history of our organization. Congratulations!”

“Oh my goodness! Yay!!!!!” Derpy’s pupils grew three sizes and she smiled so brightly she almost squeaked with delight and the Wonderbolts gave her another cheer. Spitfire lowered her towards the ground as the cadets all eagerly awaited to greet her.

“We’ll find you after dinner tonight. Whether or not you move on to tomorrow, you still earned this honor so we have a few things to do,” Spitfire set Derpy down and gave her a pat on the back. “Congrats again, and good luck with the last test!” She gave Derpy a half salute before rising back up towards the Wonderbolts.

Dash had already weaved her way through the crowd and almost full-out tackled Derpy.

“Derpy! That was amazing! Did I hear that right? You broke a record?!” Dash asked with wide, starry eyes.

“I guess I did!” Derpy shut her eyes, smiled brightly, and flapped her wings despite how much they hurt. Other cadets gathered around them, congratulating Derpy and/or telling her how awesome she was. Thunderlane weaved through the crowd and gave Derpy a quick hug as well.

“Derpy! How the hell did you do that! That was amazing!” he asked eagerly.

“I dunno!” Derpy shrugged. Dash began to wonder herself how Derpy could have such incredible endurance.

Then Dash realized… Derpy delivered the mail every single day in Ponyville. She was always on time and never missed a house. She may have been clumsy and had a physical blunder or two in the process, but she was reliable and always came through. That, and she was the only mail delivery pony in Ponyville. Most towns and cities had a small army of mail ponies. Derpy was the sole delivery mare, so she was pretty much flying on schedule 24/7. She’d been doing it for years too. All that flying day-in and day-out had to have really conditioned her over time. Leave it to Derpy to accidentally become a badass at something.

Storm Front pushed his way through the cadets, approaching Derpy with a huge smile to match hers.

“Derpy! That was incredible!” he laughed as he gave her a very strong hug. Derpy squeaked and blushed as she hugged him back.

“I did it! I did something!” she bounced in his grip. Storm looked around him and saw all the ponies trying to get to her.

“Come on, I think they all want to see little hurricane Derpy,” Storm winked at her and hoisted her up. He placed her on his back and spread his wings, lifting slightly into the air. The cadets cheered when they saw her rise up. She blushed and hid her face with her wings, but she was smiling beneath.

Dash thought her heart was going to swell right out of her ribs. This was something she would never forget, and something Derpy would cherish forever. She remembered back on the train, Derpy told her she wanted to be awesome, just like her. Well, Derpy was already awesome and she just didn’t know it.

“Heh, you were right, he is a great guy,” Thunderlane nudged Dash as he watched Storm Front parade Derpy around. “She’s loving it too.”

“She earned it,” Dash smiled. “I admit, I’m a little jealous.”

“Heh, you should tell her you are. She came here following in your footsteps after all,” Thunderlane turned his head to Dash. “It would mean the world to her if the pony she looked up to now looked up to her a little too.”

“I will later. This is her moment,” Dash chuckled and sighed.

Eventually the crowd died down and Storm Front landed. He carried Derpy on his back over to Dash and the others. Spitfire hovered down with the megaphone.

“Alright! Celebration time is over! We still have one more test before the first day is officially over!” she paused and pointed towards the doors as staff members wheeled in water coolers. “We’re going to take a fifteen minute break! Get some water and stretch your muscles out. When the break’s over, follow Silver Lining to the weight room!”

The weight room. Strength. Dash knew it was coming.

HELL YEEEEEEEAHHHHH!!!!!” Bulk yelled out as soon as he heard weight room.

“Looks like we finally have something for Bulk,” Dash joked to Thunderlane as they both chuckled at Bulk’s enthusiasm.

The Wonderbolts all left, save for Silver Lining who waited by the doors with his eyes on a clock. Dash and the others began making their way towards the water to make sure they stayed hydrated. Dash chuckled as she saw Derpy still on Storm Front’s back. Derpy leaned down and tapped his neck.

“You don’t have to keep carrying me,” she said while still smiling endlessly. Storm Front shook his head.

“Nonsense… I’m carrying our little champion until she’s not tired anymore,” he tipped his head back and smiled at her.

“He he he!” she giggled while blushing. She leaned forward and hugged him around the neck as they continued forward.

Dash thought she was going to turn into… well… more rainbows. It was such an adorable sight. Storm Front had an endless river of nice guy points flowing from him in every direction. Derpy was so lucky to be paired with such a gentlestallion as a bunkmate. Dash on the other hand…

“Hmph!” Dash heard from a few ponies back. It was a familiar huff that she had heard more than a few times in the past twenty-four hours. She looked behind her and saw Arctic Blast a little ways behind. Dash smirked and casually slowed down, weaving her way back through a few ponies until there was only a stallion standing between her and Arctic.

“It sure sucks to have your ass on fire, doesn’t it, bitch?” Dash whispered loud enough for it to reach around the stallion before quickly weaving through a few ponies to her right. Dash gave a quick glance over the small barrier she put between them and saw Arctic looking around frantically with the biggest glare Dash had ever seen.

Dash snickered and carefully made her way back towards her friends. No mercy for Arctic. She deserved every bit of misfortune she got.

“There you are!” Spitfire called across the weight room as Wave Chill entered slowly.

The rest of the Wonderbolts had made their way to the fitness center. Spitfire had just finished speaking with the strength coach, Pec Bounce, and was directing staff members about bringing in additional equipment.

“Wave?” Spitfire called to him as it seemed he was frozen in place. He flinched upon her saying his name again and averted his eyes as he approached. “What took you so long?” Spitfire questioned as he approached. Wave didn’t look at her, nor did he speak. “Wave…” Spitfire flattened her brow.

“AH! Er… yeah! The report! Haha! I mean, YES MA’AM! The report!” He blushed madly as he tried to look her in the eyes. Fleetfoot was trotting by and blinked when she saw Wave’s strange behavior. Spitfire tipped her head to the side.

“Wave? What’s wr—”

“COMMANDER SOARIN HAD A… UM… MAGIC MISHAP… UH… HE SAID HE WOULD EXPLAIN LATER!” Wave Chill’s face turned completely red and his eyes darted in every direction as he belted out his report. Fleetfoot rushed over, sensing something juicy.

“Whoa! Chill! Wave Chill, Chill, Chill Wave, Wave Chill, gah, that’s confusing…” Fleetfoot grabbed his shoulders before he could turn.

“Wave, did something else happen? You look strange,” Spitfire stepped forward and took a closer look at his face. Wave had turned so red it was a wonder a high pitched whistling noise wasn’t coming out of his ears. Fleetfoot cocked an eyebrow.

“What, did you go to Spitfire’s room instead and rummage through her underwear drawer?” Fleetfoot giggled.

“NO!!!!” Wave Chill’s wings flared out, knocking Fleetfoot off his back. “UH… SHIT!” his demeanor completely shattered. “DAMMIT, DAMMIT, DAMMIT!” he shook his head and folded his wings… mostly. He looked at Spitfire again. She was looking at him with concern, but all he could think of was her slowly undressing, humping him, and kissing him like a wild animal. He was late reporting because he tried to wait for the image to go away, but he had no such luck. “I have to go help!” he looked away from Spitfire and trotted away at a quickened pace.

“What the hell was that?” Spitfire watched him leave with a mix of confusion and concern.

“He looked like he just got molested or something,” Fleetfoot said, still on the ground on her stomach while twiddling her back hooves in the air. “Did you do something to him while I wasn’t looking? HOW DARE YOU!” Fleetfoot rolled over on her back and started laughing.

“Fleet, I’ve been here the whole time,” Spitfire rolled her eyes. Fleetfoot stood up, trotted over to her and leaned into her side.

“I dunno Spitfire... you are pretty shifty… and there are plenty of closets around…”

“I didn't molest him Fleetfoot!” Spitfire glared at her.

“Um… is this a bad time?” Spitfire and Fleetfoot turned to see Fire Streak standing behind them minus his goggles and his spandex hood down. Fleetfoot took notice of the three burns on the back of his uniform as well.

“Fire!” Spitfire quickly turned to him. “What the heck happened? Wave’s report was… not quite up to snuff. Also, what was with the damage in the lobby?”

“Well…” Fire sighed. “His magic… ran wild soon after we left the gym. It was almost like he was possessed. Misty and I tried to stop him, but it ended poorly each time. He eventually somehow found his own way to the Princess… but Misty took a severe blow before he did,” Fire looked down in shame. He felt entirely responsible for the damage caused to Misty.

“Misty?! Is she alright?” Spitfire quickly grabbed Fire by the shoulders. Fire nodded slowly.

“She was in pain… Some of Soarin’s magic apparently entered her… but Discord showed up and drew it out of her. If you’re going to thank somepony… or god, thank him. I was powerless.” He refused to look at Spitfire.

“Where is she now?” Fleetfoot asked with concern.

“In her room. She is still in slight shock. That’s all I have to report. I must return to her at once,” he nodded and tried to leave.

“Fire,” Spitfire stopped him with her wing and made him turn around. He looked at the ground, but she forced his head up. “Look at me,” she forced his eyes to hers. “You are not powerless. Go to her and stay with her until she feels better. That is an order, understood?” She knew she didn’t have to give the order. Fire would have been at Misty’s side regardless, even if it meant disobeying direct orders from the captain. Spitfire gave the order regardless to show her support for Misty as well.

“Yes ma’am,” Fire replied simply before turning and leaving quickly.

“I have to go see Soarin later,” Spitfire huffed, feeling there was no other way to get the full story.

“Let me know when you do,” Fleetfoot requested. “And I promise I won’t call him a princess… for now,” she added with a smirk.

“Being considerate? Who are you and what did you do with Fleetfoot?” Spitfire taunted back.

“Spitfire being sassy? Wait… Blaze? Is that you?!” Fleetfoot grabbed Spitfire’s cheeks. Spitfire chuckled and brushed Fleetfoot’s arms away.

“Oh, don’t forget to check with Rivet on the setups for tomorrow. I want the courses in place quickly. So we can be more efficient,” Spitfire suggested.

“Already did,” Fleetfoot nodded.

“Check again,” Spitfire ordered.

“Fine, fine. Hey, let ME worry about the courses. It’s MY portion of the tryouts,” Fleetfoot crossed her hooves and stuck her tongue out at Spitfire.

“I’m just doing my job Fleet. Come on, let’s make sure the equipment is in—”

“EEEEEEEE~!!!” Fleetfoot suddenly squeaked with delight. Spitfire looked up and followed Fleetfoot’s eyes to the entrance. The little yellow stallion was helping move some of the gym equipment in.

“Fleetfoot, NO. Let him do his job without your antics for once!” Spitfire reached up and grabbed Fleetfoot’s back hoof before she could fire towards the doors.

“But he’s so small and adorable! I wanna hug him!” Fleetfoot whined while pouting at Spitfire.

“You’re lucky I’m not already slapping workplace harassment misdemeanors on your record Fleet…” Spitfire looked sternly at her. “Don’t lead the poor guy on like that. Besides, you’re gonna give him a heart attack or a nervous breakdown one of these days.”

“But he’s CUUUUUUTE…” Fleetfoot intensified her pout. Spitfire didn’t change her glare. Fleetfoot suddenly blinked and looked behind Spitfire. “Wave?” she said while staring over Spitfire’s shoulder. Spitfire instantly turned around. There was nothing behind her. Fleetfoot kicked Spitfire’s hoof off her leg and sped towards the doors giggling uncontrollably. Spitfire flattened her brow and didn’t even look back towards Fleetfoot.

She was wondering more about Soarin and Wave Chill.

She was under the impression that Soarin had the magic under control for the most part. She wasn’t so sure about that now… especially since Misty was apparently injured by it. All it took was a rough blow to the head and one of the major icons of the Wonderbolts could have been severely injured. She was going to have a long talk with Soarin. A new liability issue had arisen, and if he couldn’t keep this damn dark magic of his under control, there would be consequences to his career.

But what the hell was wrong with Wave Chill? She had just spoken to him in the morning and at lunch. He looked like he had seen a ghost. Then he looked so embarrassed he almost turned his Wonderbolt suit from blue to red. Did something happen along the way? Something that involved her?

“Huh?” Spitfire suddenly flinched as she felt something brush against her side. She blinked and looked down to her right to see the little yellow stallion hiding behind her and panicking. He released a high pitched squeak before ducking.

“WHOA, LOOKOUT!” Fleetfoot’s voice suddenly came from the opposite direction. The yellow stallion crawled beneath Spitfire’s legs and Fleetfoot crashed headlong into Spitfire, knocking them both over and tumbling to a stop. Spitfire was on her back with Fleetfoot flopped on top of her.

“Fleet…” Spitfire glared at her as Fleetfoot pulled her nose out of Spitfire’s chest fur.

“Er…whoops?” she shrugged while grinning sheepishly.

“Whoops is right. GET. OFF.” Spitfire growled.

“Okay fine—” Fleetfoot made a motion to push off, but they both froze as Lightning Streak walked by, saw them, and stopped right in his tracks. He stared at them and blinked as they stared right back. He cleared his throat and took a seat facing them before motioning one hoof towards them.

“Go on…” he encouraged calmly. Fleetfoot scoffed and wiggled her plot at Lightning Streak.

“You wish, perv,” she taunted. Lightning shrugged.

“That’s not what you said that one night…” he trailed off. Fleetfoot’s eyes widened and she quickly retorted.

“It doesn’t count when I’m drunk off my ass,” she scrunched her face.

“Embrace it babe, you got some of this…” Lightning made slow hoof motions from his chin down the length of his body. Fleetfoot glared at him and folded her ears back.

“You are so damn full of—”

“What’s going on over—” Surprise trotted over and stopped when she saw Fleetfoot still on top of Spitfire. She blinked, then quickly took a seat beside Lightning. “Go on…” she encouraged while resting her chin in her hooves.

“DAMMIT FLEET! GET OFF!” Spitfire shoved Fleetfoot off of her.

“Everypony get in here! On the double! Move it!” Silver Lining’s voice came from the doors and the cadets began pouring in.

“Rgh…” Spitfire grunted as she stood up. “Alright, fun’s over everypony. Let’s get this day over with already!”

--- To Be Continued ---

Chapter 17: Lots of Love Going Around

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Piercing the Heavens
By: Calm Wind

Chapter 17:

The cadets all filed into the gym, packing in and weaving between the weight machines over to the large stretching area as the Wonderbolts guided them along overhead.

Dash smiled as she moved along into a familiar place. The auxiliary gym was a new venue for her, but here it was familiar territory. She wondered what exactly they would be doing for strength testing. Whatever it was, Dash was confident she’d do well. If there was one thing she had improved on greatly during her training back home, it was her strength. She’s built up her muscles enough to take down Applejack in a hoof wrestle. She’d never thought in a million years she’d be stronger than Applejack, but now she was. She looked forward to making the other mares look weak in comparison, especially one specific bitch of a bean pole.

Dash finally got a good look at the set up. The stretching mat had been rolled all the way up and pushed aside to create a large area of floor. Eight weight benches had been set up in a two by four pattern. Spitfire lowered towards them with the megaphone.

“Okay, time for the last test of the day, and it’s about time too! For the strength test, we are testing ONE THING! Bench press for upper body strength!” she paused as if she expected a sudden stir to go through the crowd, which it did. “Thought I was gonna say wing strength, huh?” Spitfire spoke again. “Take note rookies, one of the most important factors of being an ace flyer… is your ability to twist and turn your body against the pressure of wind resistance. How do you do this? UPPER BODY AND CORE STRENGTH!” she made clear. “Now that I’ve blown most of your minds, I want all the mares to line up behind these benches…” she motioned to one of the rows of four. “And I want all of the stallions behind these benches…” she motioned to the other. “Yes, we are testing you by gender. Why? Ask your hormones!” Spitfire paused and turned to the line of male cadets already forming. “On second thought, I don’t want the stallions asking their hormones anything, this is a fitness center, not an orgy.” several giggles came from the mare lines. “ANYWAY… LET’S GET TO IT! You get one set each and your choice of weight. We want to see HOW STRONG YOU ARE, NOT HOW MANY TIMES YOU CAN REP!” she finished.

Dash chuckled at Spitfire’s little jab to stallions. She worked with some interesting ones that was for sure. Her words held their weight. Dash shifted into line about seven mares from the front of the first bench.


“Oh, right…” Dash wondered out loud as she turned her head towards the voice. She had almost forgotten. Pec Bounce, the Wonderbolt strength coach, was Bulk Biceps’ father. She turned to see the two of them in each other’s faces, lightly butting heads.










They went back and forth continuously. Fleetfoot, standing nearby, pressed her hooves to her head, grabbed her ears, and yanked them down as hard as she could.

“OH MY GAWD! THERE ARE TWO OF THEM?!?!?!?!?!” she yelled as she tried to save her ears from the loud voices.

Dash chuckled and focused back forward. One mare had already gone. Dash took a look at the next one in line.

“What’ll it be?” High Winds was working their bench. Dash wasn’t quite sure how to feel about that as she saw High Winds yawn loudly. Dash didn’t know much about High Winds, but from what she had seen thus far, it seemed that Winds was always a bit… tired. She nodded off twice during some of the previous explanations. It was hard to miss Blaze behind Spitfire, smacking High Winds across the face or upside the head.

The mare just shrugged as High Winds asked for a weight to put on the bar. Winds blinked and slapped five pounds on each side. The bar weighed forty-five pounds by itself, making it merely fifty-five pounds total. Dash snickered to herself. The stallions probably weren’t caught off guard quite so much… but a lot of mares were definitely unprepared. In general Dash knew no other mares that lifted weights. It was such an old fashion standard, but if only they knew how many benefits came with a stronger body.

The mare barely pushed the bar up once before almost dropping it on herself. High Winds was luckily awake enough to catch it.

“Whoa there… somepony doesn’t even lift,” Winds said with a straight face as she easily yanked the bar off the mare’s chest. This was great. Dash was certain this would be an easy victory for her. Now with only a few other mares in front of her, Dash decided to do some warm-ups. She got down in place and started doing some pushups to loosen up the chest. She wanted to show her best, and one never lifts their best on the first set if they didn’t warm up properly.

“Show off…” a voice mumbled behind her. Dash stopped mid pushup. That damn voice again. She was having a problem with not realizing ‘acquaintances’ behind her. Dash finished her pushups and stood back up while glaring over her shoulder. Arctic Blast was right behind her.

“Got something to say to me?” Dash growled. Arctic blew air at her mane to make a few bits of it fly up and back down.

“Why would I want to talk to you? Stallion stealer,” she scrunched her nose in disgust at Dash. It was funny because Dash really did have Soarin as her stallion, but all Arctic was referring too was Soarin saving Dash earlier.

“Then don’t talk to me,” Dash went back to doing pushups. She warmed up until she felt nice and loose, got up, and swung her arms out. She pushed her arms forwards and back, tensing and relaxing her chest muscles a few times to make sure they felt ready. She was up next after all.

“Ew,” Arctic said something again. Dash sighed.

“Seriously, you got a problem?” she asked while facing Arctic.

“Who turned up the bitch dial on you?” Arctic asked out of nowhere. Dash scoffed so loud she almost spat right in Arctic’s face.

“ME?! Says the mare who insulted the new champion of the endurance course,” Dash lifted an eyebrow and smirked.

“What-EVER,” Arctic rolled her eyes in a very wide arc. “Fine, wanna know what I’m looking at? Your masculine body,” she hissed. “Seriously, mares don’t have muscles, and stallions don’t like banging stallions.”

“Wow, what was that about the bitch dial again?” Dash looked at her in disbelief. Dash wasn’t the slightest bit offended. She worked hard to become as strong as she had, and she most certainly did not look like a stallion. Besides, it was quite ironic of Arctic to claim to know what stallions like… especially since Soarin had told Dash in the past that he found her muscular yet feminine physique to be sexy. Dash had never seen a mare heading faster face first towards a brick wall in her life. It was going to be great blowing her mind at just the right time. “Think what you want…” Dash began again. “If you were the slightest bit smart… maybe you’d understand what it really takes to make the Wonderbolts,” Dash smirked as High Winds called her to the bench. “Watch and learn, skinny,” Dash huffed as she approached High Winds.

“Whaddaya want on it?” High Winds asked while resting an arm and her chin on the bar, her eyes half closed. Dash glanced back at Arctic, and then looked back at High Winds.

“One hundred and thirty-five pounds,” Dash said with a confident face. High Winds’ eyes opened a little wider.

“You sure?” she asked sleepily.

“What do you think?” Dash smirked while flexing her arm briefly. High Winds blinked again and snorted.

“Wise ass… I like it,” she smirked before reaching down and hoisting a forty-five pound plate onto each side of the bar.

Dash focused hard. She had never lifted this much weight before. She’d barely lifted ten pounds less than this recently. Was this a gamble? Yes, but she was so charged up by her desire to show Arctic a thing or two. Dash laid flat on the bench and took a deep breath as she slid beneath the bar so its shadow cast a line over Dash’s forehead.

“On you,” Winds said while putting her hooves in place to catch, should Dash be way in over her head.

Dash reached up and fit her hooves into the hoof grips. She took a deep breath with her eyes closed. Just down and up. She only had to do it once. She inhaled sharply and her eyes shot open. She counted quietly to herself.

“One… two… three…!” She pressed her hooves hard into the bar, lifting it off the rack and holding it over her chest. It was really damn heavy, but too bad, she was already going for it. She took a deep breath and held it in as she lowered the bar down to her chest. She gently tapped it against her before exhaling and pushing up with all the strength she could muster. “HRGH!” she grunted as gravity worked against her. The bar rose slowly, but never once stopped. Dash felt an extra wave of adrenaline pulse through her as she hit the top. New record for her, but she had the strength to keep going.

“All done?” High Winds asked while sniffling and yawning.

“No way!” Dash yelled as she went for a second repetition. She lowered the bar again, remembering to breathe in. She tapped it off her chest and pushed up again. It moved a lot slower this time, but never stopped. “Rgghhhhh!” Dash growled quietly as she pushed it all the way up, successfully doing two reps of a weight she had never lifted before.

“Alright, lemme-OOF!” High Winds grunted as Dash smacked the bar back into the rack and bumped Winds away from the bench in the process. Dash sat up while pumping her hooves in the air.

“AWESOME!” she yelled out as several other mares looked over to her in disbelief. From above Spitfire jotted down something on her clipboard before turning and smirking towards Dash. She chuckled and went back to observing the others.

Dash sneered at Arctic, held out a wing and folded all the feathers down, save for the middle one.

“Don’t mess with me Ice Bitch, you might get burned,” Dash showed no mercy. She had been willing to give Arctic a little bit of a chance all the way up till she insulted Derpy. That tore down all the chances Dash would ever be willing to give.

“Pff…” Arctic rolled her eyes. Dash hopped off the bench as Arctic took her spot on the bench, keeping one eye on High Winds. It would be hard to forget what Winds said to her earlier.

“Weight?” High Winds asked nonchalantly. Arctic scrunched her face in disgust.

“This is so dumb,” she whined.

“Bitch, bitch, BITCH, bitch, BITCH,” High Winds shook her head at her while sighing. “That was bitching Morse code for suck it up.”

“Er… just the bar,” Arctic didn’t fight back. High Winds shrugged and pointed at the bar.

“Any day now then… while I’m still…” she yawned loudly. “Awake. And while I still slightly give a damn about you.”

Arctic huffed and shakily slid her hooves into the grips. Dash watched with slight interest as Arctic shakily lifted the bar up. The form almost made Dash puke as Arctic lowered the bar… and it stopped there.

“Before I age a hundred years please…” High Winds said while looking down at Arctic. Arctic began squirming.

“Help!” She squeaked barely audibly. She couldn’t move the bar alone.

“You’re shitting me right?” High Winds blinked as she looked down.

“I… can’t…” Arctic squeaked again with the bar flat against her chest.

“Louder?” High Winds bent down to ‘listen.’

“It’s crushing me!” Arctic whined, still raspy from the ‘pressure’ against her.

“One more time without the dick in your mouth?” High Winds snickered slightly as she put her ear closer down.

“WINDY!” Blaze hopped over and pulled the bar off of Arctic. Arctic exhaled loudly as Blaze put the bar back in the rack, then lifted an eyebrow at Winds. “Okay, I know you said she’s a fucking bitch, but man you can be cruel,” Blaze couldn’t help but crack a small grin as High Winds only shrugged.

“Whoops…” she said as she yawned.

“C’mon back to work, dammit,” Blaze failed to hold back a few laughs as High Winds reached forward and pushed Arctic off the bench. She flopped onto the floor. Pec Bounce suddenly sped up behind her and took a deep breath.

“DO. YOU. EVEN. PICK. UP. THINGS?!?!?!” he yelled at her while she was down before rushing off to something else that caught his attention.

“UGH!” Arctic grunted as she got up and walked away, grumbling. As she trudged, Dash flipped her tail out and batted Arctic in the face. Arctic turned sharply to her and glared. Dash reached her arm up, flexed, and kissed the muscle. Arctic stuck her tongue out at Dash like a little filly and stormed off.

With victory thoroughly achieved both physically and mentally, Dash floated into the air a little to check out the other’s testing. She got up just in time to see Bulk Biceps step up to Lightning Streak’s bench.

“How much bro?” Lightning asked.

“THREE-HUNDRED! YEEEEEAH!” Bulk answered immediately, blowing back Lightning’s mane so much it was identical to his brother’s for a brief moment.

“Three-hundo it is,” Lightning replied casually. He stacked two forty-five pound plates on each side, followed by a thirty-five, and a little 2.5 pound weight to make the bar exactly three-hundred pounds. “On your—”

“GO FOR IT SON!” Pec Bounce slid over and knocked Lightning Streak out of the way to spot Bulk. “I GOT YOU!”

YEEEEAHHHH!!!!!” Bulk slammed his back down against the bench, thrust his hooves into the grips and had the weight up all in less than three seconds. The weights clanged together on each side as they were thrust into the starting position. Bulk took an enormous breath before lowering the bar down, tapping it against his large chest muscles, and roaring out. “HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!” his battle cry echoed throughout the gym as the bar slowly rose all the way back up to the start. “YEEEEEEAH!” He yelled when he reached the top before slamming the bar back into the rack so hard it made the bench tip slightly.


“Holy shit!”

“Mother of god…”

The stallions standing around voiced how impressive they found the lift.

“ALRIGHT!” Pec Bounce yelled as Bulk sat up hard, turned around, and faced his father.

“YEEEAH!” Bulk yelled while coming around the bar and butting heads with Pec.

“ALRIGHT!” Pec bounce suddenly punched Bulk across the face.

“YEAH!” Bulk swung right back, punching Pec across the face. The both reached a hoof forwards and clasped them together while bouncing their muscles.

Dash thought her sides were going to launch off her body. It was impressive, but quite possibly the most comical and overly male thing she had ever seen in her life. She was literally on the floor pounding her hoof against it.

“Next,” Lightning retook the spot behind the bench as Bulk and Pec moved away to continue their stallionly random beatings and handshakes.

Dash looked up, and quickly regained herself to watch. Matteo was up next.

“How much weight?” Lightning asked while leaning against the bar.

“All of it,” Matteo said simply. Lightning blinked and looked at him.

“Heh, good one big fella, really, how much?” he asked again. Matteo glared at him and pointed to the plates racked on the edges of the bench.

“I said all of it,” he repeated while strengthening his glare more, if it were even possible. Lightning looked down at all the weights. They had two Forty-five pounders, a thirty-five, a twenty-five, two tens, a five, and a 2.5 racked on both sides of every bench.

“You mean all of this here?” Lightning asked while pointing to both sides of the bench.

“Yes.” Matteo replied flatly.

“Your funeral bro,” Lightning shrugged.

“Unlikely,” Matteo said back as Lightning whistled to Wave.

“Yo! Chiller! I’m gonna need a hand with this one!” he called as Wave Chill helped another stallion rack his bar back in. Wave Chill blinked and trotted over.

“What is it?” he asked upon glancing between Matteo and Lightning.

“Bird bro wants everything put on. We need a double spot.”

“What?!” Wave looked between Matteo and Lightning again.

“He means it, come on,” Lightning made a head motion as he began loading up one side of the bar. Wave Chill shrugged and shook his head as he loaded up the other. Every single weight from the rack plus the weight of the bar came out to four hundred pounds.

Dash glanced over and saw Pec and Bulk had stopped punching each other and were staring with interest.

Matteo flopped down onto the bench, his beak just missing the bar. He was almost too big, just barely fitting on both the bench and beneath the bar.

“Alright, let us—” Wave began as he and Lightning moved to spot on both sides.

“No need,” Matteo put flatly as he reached up and clasped his talons around the bar outside of the hoof grips. The bar rose off the rack with ease, the plates clashing and clanging as they were hoisted up, and the bar bending slightly in the middle from all the weight. Matteo proceeded to pump the weight up and down at a controlled pace. Everything in the gym froze. Spitfire pushed her goggles down to get a better look from above.

Matteo pumped out twelve reps, grunted, set the weight back with a loud CLANG. He sat up, cracked his neck and stood from the bench.

“Have you nothing heavier?” he asked with a little bit of amusement in his voice as he walked away.

A crack. The armor wasn’t perfect. Dash saw him smirk. So he wasn’t a complete stonewall. He grinned slightly before when he asked her about using his technique, but she assumed that was because she had played his own words against him. He looked like he enjoyed showing his superiority just now. She had to find out more about him. Matteo was still a bit of an enigma, but he was too interesting to leave it that way.

Also… holy crap. He was damn strong. He had large visible muscles all over his body, but DAMN he was strong. Griffons had more muscular builds than ponies to begin with, and he was huge on top of that. Off to the side both Bulk Biceps and Pec Bounce were gawking in Matteo’s direction. Dash didn’t blame them one bit. Matteo was proving to be quite the contestant.

Dash began to wonder how exactly the hundred cadets staying through the day would be chosen? She was all done with day one… she was confident she would move on… she just had to wait and find out.

Once the strength testing was over, Spitfire announced that the Wonderbolt staff was going to “crunch the numbers” and post the results on a big board in the lobby after dinner. She directed Fleetfoot to take Derpy to get her picture taken for the record board… and then released a heavy sigh.

Spitfire ripped her goggles off and pulled the mask portion of her uniform down. She handed her clipboard to a staff member and shook her head back and forth.

“I… am… NEVER… having a mass tryout ever again!” she yelled to herself as she left the gym and headed for the mess hall. She walked until she hit the stairs in the center of the lobby and stared at them. As hungry as she was, there was something else she needed to do.

Soarin. She had to go punch him in the face for making the day go less smoothly. It was terrible handling all those ponies while down three Wonderbolts.

She made her way up the stairs while also contemplating the more serious end of the incoming confrontation. Soarin needed to get the magic under control. She would not allow him to stick around if he would be a hazard to the rest of the Wonderbolts and the compound. Her feelings and friendship with him aside, she could not put the others at risk.

After a short walk, she stood directly outside Soarin’s door and gave it a gentle knock.

“Come in,” Soarin’s voice came from inside. Spitfire pushed the door open, peeking in before completely letting herself in. She eyed Soarin on the bed.

Head wrapped up.

A new metal headband for the horn.

Looking completely drained.

As miffed as she was about all the different situations. She couldn’t help but also feel sad. It hurt a little just to look at him. She and Soarin had been through so much together in their wild lives of going from nothing to the best of the best. Soarin’s life took such a crazy turn and hers just didn’t follow. Dark power infusions, fake horns, magic spasms… what other curveball could be thrown into Soarin’s life. While Spitfire had to be strict about Wonderbolt safety and policies, Soarin would always be her best friend, and she would always do anything to help him.

“Hey,” she said quietly as she trotted up. Soarin turned his head towards her slightly before looking right back up.

“Before you say anything, I screwed up. I know that already. So let’s skip that part,” Soarin spoke first. Spitfire blinked and scrunched her face.

“Soarin, why would you think that?” she questioned. He looked at her, not expecting that. “How can you blame yourself for something you don’t have control over?” Spitfire sat down beside the bed.

“That’s just the problem,” Soarin looked away. “I promised you I’d have it under control. I clearly don’t, and I almost killed Misty Fly. That sure looks good on my record doesn’t it,” Soarin berated himself.

“Soarin, shut up,” Spitfire shook her head, “I’m not here to listen to your self-inflicted shame.”

“Gee, you know how to cheer me right up,” Soarin shook his head and rolled his eyes.

“Just tell me what happened okay?” Spitfire demanded as politely as she could.

“The horn got put off center and the magic ran wild. Discord stopped it from killing me and slapped this uncomfortable thing on it,” he pointed to the new metal headpiece. “He said it won’t happen anymore because of it,” Soarin explained in the shortest way he could.

“How do you feel otherwise?” Spitfire asked while letting the info sink in.

“Oh… bring Dash here will you?” Soarin skipped right to the part about Dash, purposely avoiding the part about an effigy of Spitfire humping the shit out of Wave Chill. Spitfire tipped her head in confusion.

“Soarin we can’t do that. We’re in the bulk of the tryouts now,” Spitfire explained. Soarin shook his head.

“Discord’s recommendation. It’s a long story, but I just need one hour with her. It will help me heal in time for day three,” he ignored her concern.

“Soarin, what did I just—”

“Spitfire. Please,” he turned and looked at her. She huffed and bit her lip.

“Fine, I’ll find a way to get her up here after dinner,” she admitted defeat. Soarin was lying here after getting punched in the gut by magic he wasn’t supposed to have. The least she could do was pull a few strings for him, she felt compelled to despite the risks. “Speaking of which, I’m tired and hungry. Do you need any food?” Spitfire asked as she got up to leave.

“That would be nice,” Soarin nodded, remembering he was hungry.

“Alright, I’ll see if I can find anything somewhat appealing,” she joked as she reached for the door.

“Spitfire,” Soarin called to her before she left.


“Thanks for checking in,” Soarin smiled. Spitfire chuckled and leaned her head to the side to look at him.

“Anything for a friend who keeps getting screwed,” she joked before she left Soarin alone.

Soarin let his head fall back down to the pillow, confident that he’d have Dash with him soon. Maybe it wasn’t so bad being torn to shreds from inside out if it meant he got to spend extra time with his one and only badass mare. He didn’t think he’d make it a habit though… despite it seeming like it already was.

“One side! Move it! Move! It!” Dash called out as she tried to push her way through the crowd surrounding the scoreboard. She cursed herself for taking so long in the mess hall. The scores were posted and the top one hundred cadets would advance to day two.

Spitfire gave the whole explanation before dinner. All Cadets ranked 101 and below were to clean out their bunk areas and be out of the compound by nine o’clock, which was three hours after dinner. The Wonderbolts had multiple trains booked to leave to Cloudsdale and Manehatten throughout the night. If somepony required a different location they would take care of that for them too. 200 train tickets were paid for. They just had to show a special Wonderbolt coupon to the ticket master at the station.

All of it was irrelevant to Dash. She was drilling herself before she even reached the board. She made it though. She had to have made it through. She showed them all so much. She may have taken a fall here or there, but that couldn’t have been enough to knock her out.

She finally pushed to the front through ponies that were both cheering and hanging their heads.

Her name… her name… where was her name. It was a ranking system with scores written off to the side. Apparently the score would be reset each day as if you earned a clean slate for making it through to the next round.

“HUH?!?!” Dash’s eyes widened as they moved up and stopped at the top of the board.

Her name…

Was at the very top of the list.

1st: Rainbow Dash

“AHHHHHAHAHAHA!!!!” Dash leapt up into the air and did two backward loops before pressing her face to the board over her name. “Oh my gosh!” she squeaked as she blinked to make sure it was real.

She was at the top of the pack after day one? She had made so many mistakes though! Were her dangerous feats enough to sway the opinions? WHO CARES?! She made it through to the next day and then some! Talk about being worried for nothing!

But wait… what about the rest?

Dash quickly landed after getting many weird looks from the other cadets viewing the board. She began scanning down from her name.

She took note of the ponies listed in 2nd and 3rd. In second was a pony by the name of Squall. She hadn’t seen or heard about anypony named that yet. Apparently he/she was good. In third, a pony named Little Star. Again, Dash had not seen this pony. She made sure to remember the names however. It looked like there was new competition on the horizon.

But now to find those she was acquainted with. She hoped all of them had made it through. There were a few… she wasn’t so sure about. She scanned down the names.

7th: Storm Front

No surprise there. He was no slacker.

15th: Matteo

Again, no surprise. He displayed many unexpected abilities despite being very large and a slow accelerator.

17th: Twister

Eh, he had some interesting moves. Dash wouldn’t have minded the absence of creepiness though.

25th: Arctic Blast

“What?! Son of a—” Dash verbally expressed her discontent. Not only did she have to deal with Arctic Blast for another whole day, Arctic also finished in the top 25. Dash didn’t know how she earned that spot, but it meant she was more than likely gonna pass the second day too if she kept it up.

The list began extending far down. Dash began to worry about her Ponyville friends. She had a bad feeling in her gut that this was going to be goodbye for—

Scratch that thought.

78th: Thunderlane

Holy crap! Thunderlane made it to day two! Dash didn’t catch most of his trials, but he must’ve done something to impress the Wonderbolts. Dash could picture it right now. Wherever Thunderlane was in the crowd, he was probably frozen with his jaw hanging open, wondering how the hell he made it so high up out of so many ponies.

But what about Bulk and Derpy? Dash would hate to see them both go. She quickly kept going down the list. There wasn’t much left after Thunderlane in terms of those advancing. She bit her lip as she reached the nineties, slowly making her way down. Her eyes widened and her ears stood up.

99th: Derpy Hooves

“YES!” Dash pumped a hoof in the air. Derpy made it through too!? That was even more awesome! Derpy had done rather poorly in most of the trials, but her little record breaking stunt must’ve been just enough to squeak her through! It was awesome… but…

Dash looked back to the board. There was only one name after Derpy’s going onto the next round. It wasn’t Bulk Biceps. Dash’s ears drooped and her wings hung down as her eyes scanned the list lower… and lower… and lower.

245th: Bulk Biceps.


Dash had high hopes after seeing Thunderlane’s name so high on the board… but it looked like she’d be down one friend going into the next day.

“Sorry big guy,” Thunderlane floated up and patted Bulk on the back as he packed his belongings up into his duffle bag. They were all back in the barracks. Most of the cadets had left already, but there were still a few cleaning out their bunks. It was crazy how much more space there already was, and not all of them had left yet.

“Nah… it’s cool,” Bulk turned and smiled. Dash and Derpy were there to see him off as well. They were standing in the aisle to avoid being completely squished together by the girth of the custom bed frame. Bulk hoisted his duffle bag up over his shoulder. “It was fun while it lasted, I wasn’t expectin’ to make it very far. I got to see my pop anyway, he don’t get off work very often.”

It was weird to hear Bulk without the usual enthusiasm in his voice. He said it was alright, but it was clear he was sad to be the only one leaving. Dash floated up beside him as he stepped out into the aisle.

“Hey big guy, I promise to cause enough of a ruckus as if you were still here,” she winked. He smirked.

“Sure you can handle that?” he sneered. Dash sneered right back.

“Who the hell do you think I am?” she got in his face while smiling.

“I think yer talkin’ tough!” he butted heads with her.

“Oh yeah?!” Dash pushed right back. She covered her ears as he took a deep breath.

YEEEEAAAAHHHHH!!!!!” He belted out. Making them all smile. He chuckled and reached over. Pulling them all into a bear hug. “Good luck you guys, you know where I’ll be,” he set them down, gave a quick wave, and lumbered his way down towards the doors.

They all watched him leave with a mix of sadness and closure. Dash handled it perfectly. They didn’t really know what to say. He was the only one that didn’t make it through. How are you supposed to try and ease a failure when it’s put right beside your own success in the same field?

As Bulk left, it seemed most of, if not all the cadets leaving were up and gone. It had been a tiring day, and it was going on nine o’clock. They were told to take the rest of the night at their leisure. Lights out was at 10:30 tonight. They weren’t getting up quite so early tomorrow. The bang, bang, bang efficiency of day one was mostly due to the sheer number of cadets that showed up. It looked like things would be taken a little slower the next two days, and nopony was complaining about that.

Thunderlane went right to his bed after voicing how fatigued he was. Dash still didn’t know how he got any sleep with Twister below him, but when sleep called Thunderlane, it called him hard. Derpy said something about finding Storm Front and fluttered away.

Dash chuckled as she watched Derpy go. She was completely in love with that stallion. She picked a good one to fall for too. She was glad Storm Front had place in the top ten. He was such a nice stallion and most certainly deserved any honor he achieved. Dash hoped he’d make it all the way through. He had made Derpy so happy and he did it all by just being himself. Dash had a feeling she and Storm would be good friends going forward.

“Excuse me.”

Dash jumped as she turned and saw Matteo standing behind her. Then there was this big guy. Dash was still standing in front of the custom bunk.

“Oh, sorry,” she hovered up out of his way as he squeezed into the cramped space to hang up a towel and grab his super large cadet uniform. Dash started moving back towards the bunk, but saw Arctic Blast on the top bunk, ogling the poster of Soarin, again.

Why, oh why did she have to score so high? She was hoping, wishing, and praying that Arctic would not make it through. She met the nicest pony ever in Storm Front and then had the honor of meeting the polar opposite in Arctic. Dash really didn’t want to deal with her crap right now. They had clearly established a sour relationship. Dash wasn’t going to give Arctic any bit of kindness or sincerity after what she said to Derpy.

Dash glanced back at Matteo as he tossed his uniform into a laundry bin being rolled down the aisle by a staff member. They had an hour or so to themselves before the lights went out. Maybe she could finally learn something about him. He had acknowledged her after she copied his flight moves. Perhaps he’d be a little more willing to open up and talk now. Dash wasn’t going to hold her breath on that, but it was worth a shot. She hovered down over towards the bottom bunk of the custom bed as Matteo climbed in and laid on his stomach in a very lion-esque manner and released a long sigh.

“Hey big guy,” Dash floated down and leaned against the bed. “What’s up?”

Matteo just stared at her briefly before raising an eyebrow.

“Hello,” he said simply. Dash could see it now. She wasn’t getting any further than that. She quickly decided to go with the praise. That usually worked.

“That was a pretty awesome display of strength in the last test. Although I can’t say I’m very surprised, you are kind of a tank,” she added a little light heartedness, hoping he’d pick up on the vibe of an actual conversation.

“Hm,” he nodded. “Thank you. You did quite well yourself,” he didn’t change his stoic expression. But he repiled. Dash wasn’t quite ready for it.

“Oh, you saw that huh?” she grinned sheepishly and blushed lightly.

“You are quite strong for a mare. It’s impressive,” he said more. More praise. Dash wasn’t sure if she was talking to Matteo anymore. “You also copied my moves along with another pony’s moves and landed the top ranked spot going into tomorrow. You are quite skilled Rainbow Dash,” he kept adding onto it.

“Aw sheesh,” Dash waved one hoof while rubbing the back of her head with the other. “Well, I hope you don’t mind me asking…” she hopped up and rested herself on the far corner of his mattress, as far from him as possible to not imply anything. She just wanted to get comfortable. She had had one particular question on her mind since she first ran into him. “What are the… Sky Wings?” she subtly gritted her teeth as she asked. He didn’t look too thrilled back when Spitfire brought it up the day before.

Matteo’s expression hardened for a moment, but he took a deep breath and exhaled before reaching over and opening his bunk drawer. He pulled out a small pamphlet and turned it so Dash could see it.

It was a small booklet with the words: “JOIN UP!” stretching across the top. In the center of the cover were three griffons wearing red spandex uniforms with a white wing insignia stretching from the chest all the way to the lower back on both sides. They wore blue tinted goggles with white straps. Dash blinked as she looked it over.

“They look like—”

“The Wonderbolts yes… they are very similar,” Matteo reached over and put the pamphlet away.

“Similar… implying there’s something different?” Dash tipped her head to the side. Matteo nodded.

“There is no stunt side show. The Sky Wings are purely a military force,” he paused as he saw Dash flinch. He shook his head. “Please, I know full well what the Wonderbolts are for. They were considered to be the Sky Wings’ rivals back in the days of our ancestors.”

“Oh… well, I guess I just spilled that I know about that too, it’s not the most common knowledge around here,” Dash chuckled and shrugged. The Wonderbolts always hid under the guise of a stunt performance team. It was probably another reason so few were admitted into their ranks. To keep that as under wraps as possible. Matteo continued, as if eager to keep talking about them.

“While the Sky Wings have a ranking system much like yours, there is a special honor bestowed upon the strongest member of the force. Through a series of tests and combat against fellow members, one can earn the right to be called ‘Master of the Sky.’ It is the greatest honor in all the Griffon Kingdom. It was my dream to one day claim this honor for my own…” he suddenly trailed off. Dash noticed his quick change in expression.

“I’m guessing… something didn’t go right?” Dash chimed in as Matteo’s pause continued. Matteo nodded.

“I spent years training, honing my body and mind to as close to perfection as I could reach. I steeled my senses, hardened my focus, and achieved a level of ability higher than I could have ever first dreamed of… but then I tried to join the Sky Wings,” Matteo shook his head and sighed. “I didn’t even make it in the front door…”


“I was rejected immediately,” he balled one of his talons up as if trying to hold back anger.

“What?!” Dash blinked. Matteo was rejected from a military force? After all the incredibly astounding things she saw him do… he was… rejected? “Why?” Dash had to know.

“The Sky Wings are run with a very strict code in both manner and combat. Every squad has six members and they fly into battle in a line side by side. This is meant to do three things. It makes it so no single griffon can be attacked without the aid of five others close by, and so they can all attack in perfect synch. However, the third reason… is why I was rejected,” he paused as if gathering his thoughts. “You can’t see it in the picture I showed you, but the uniforms have an extra bit to them that the Wonderbolts’ don’t. There is a thin layer of metallic shield plating on the inside of the wings. It is nearly weightless and does not hinder flying once one is used to it. It can curve and bend easily with the wings making it possible to deflect projectiles and even magic. When the griffons fly side by side, they have those on their left or right to protect them should they be caught off guard. If one griffon sees an incoming attack directed at his teammate beside him, he can reach his wing out and protect him if need be.”

“That’s pretty cool… but why did they reject you?” Dash questioned. The wing plating was an awesome concept… but still, why the hell would they turn away Matteo? He could be a war machine with his abilities along with their interesting methods and technology.

“I’m too big.”

“Pardon?” Dash blinked.

“They rejected me because I’m too big,” he repeated. “My size would make it difficult to fit into our basic formation, and it would be hard for other griffons to shield me with their wings. I was given that explanation and immediately turned away,” he finally relaxed his talon and gave out another heavy sigh.

“That’s… stupid…” Dash scrunched her brow. Matteo glared at her.

“Watch your tongue, I still respect the Sky Wings and everything that they are as part of my heritage,” Matteo quickly retorted. Dash quickly waved her hooves in front of her.

“Oh, no, no, no… I didn’t mean they are stupid… they sound awesome. I just think it’s silly they just turned you away. I mean look at you. You’re a juggernaut. If I were part of a military force and you walked through the door I’d be signing you up before you said hello,” Dash chuckled, earning a smirk from Matteo as well.

“Alas, it is their way. I could do nothing about it.”

“So you went for the next best thing… in your opinion,” Dash drew the conclusion.

“Precisely,” Matteo nodded. “I refuse to let my training go to waste. If not there, then here,” he finished. Dash nodded briefly, before looking towards Matteo again. Matteo saw her staring and lifted an eyebrow. “You look as though you have another question.”

“Huh?” Dash blinked and chuckled. He was perceptive. She was wondering about something else. “Nothing really, I’m just curious… you’re from the Griffon Kingdom. I know the place is huge and all, but I have to ask. I was good friends with a griffon back when I was younger. Do you know any griffon by the name Gilda?” Dash asked. Gilda was the first thing that came to mind when she saw Matteo, she couldn’t help but wonder if they knew each other.

“Gilda?” Matteo’s eyes opened up slightly and he blinked. “What does she look like?” he immediately asked. Dash suddenly got excited. He knew A Gilda from his change in demeanor. Wouldn’t it be something if it was her old pal?

“Well, she’s got a similar color arrangement to yours. Only she has brown feathers instead of black. Her white feathers extend farther past her chest than yours. Her wings are a darker shade of brown compared to her body…” as Dash went on Matteo turned to his drawer again and reached in for something. “She’s got three white feathers that stick out off the top of her head with pink tips. She’s got slightly lavenderish feathers surrounding her eyes and she had gold eyes like yours… her beak is MUCH smaller though—” Dash froze as Matteo turned back to her and held out in front of him a picture… of Gilda. She was lying on a bed, lion style much like Matteo was, and giving a smug expression towards the camera.

“This Gilda?” he asked. Dash smiled and looked back at Matteo.

“Oh my gosh! That’s her! You know each other?” Dash asked eagerly. Matteo held up his other talons. Dash waited for him to say something. She wasn’t sure if she was meant to get something from the way he was just holding his empty talons in the air while holding the picture of Gilda in the others. “Um…” Dash tipped her head in confusion.

Matteo pointed a talon towards his empty talons while still holding the picture of Gilda. Dash blinked and leaned in. As she got closer she noticed something she hadn’t before. There was something blending in with the yellow color below the talon. On the middle one... it looked like a ring.

“Gilda is my wife.”

“She’s your wife? That’s W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-WHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAATTTTTTTTTTTTT?!!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!” Dash’s eyes widened, her jaw dropped, and she rose up so quickly she lost her ground and tipped over, falling off the bed and onto the floor. She quickly clambered back up and rested her elbows on the bed while her eyes darted between Matteo and the picture of Gilda. “WIFE?!?!?! GILDA?!?!?!?! MARRIED?!?!?!” Dash blurted out in disbelief while pressing her hooves into the sides of her head.

“Yes,” Matteo put his talons back down and casually replaced the picture of Gilda back into the drawer.

“That’s just… I don’t… huh… what… I don’t even…”

“Something wrong?” Matteo asked. Dash smiled and shook her head.

“No, I’m just… I never took her as the type to get married. I’m just surprised.”

“Is Rainbow Dash in here!?”

Dash and Matteo both looked towards the entrance to the barracks. Spitfire was standing by the door and scanning the area. Dash blinked and nodded before turning back to Matteo.

“I’ll have to get the details later. I can’t believe you’re married to one of my oldest friends. See ya later!” Dash gave a quick wave before responding quickly to Spitfire’s call.

Matteo watched her glide off, looked to the ring on his shank and cracked a small smile.

“So… uh… where are we going?” Dash asked as she followed Spitfire through the hallway towards the stairs. Spitfire was out of uniform for the night, and by the looks of things very stressed and tired. Dash was worried about prodding too much, but seriously, where was she being taken?

“Just follow,” Spitfire said under her breath, but loud enough for Dash to hear. Dash swallowed and obeyed, following Spitfire up the stairs to the second floor, and then the third. They weren’t going to her office… what was going on?

Spitfire heaved a long sigh when they reached the top of the stairs.

“Alright Dash, this way,” she motioned towards Soarin’s door and they moved towards it. “Something… serious happened when Soarin was taken away earlier.”

That was not a good way to begin. Dash visibly panicked. Spitfire shook her head.

“Relax Dash,” she put her hoof on Dash’s shoulder. “Soarin is fine and nobody was… severely hurt. I’m sure you saw some of the random damage in the lobby. Soarin’s magic apparently went haywire and he almost severely injured Misty Fly while she and Fire Streak were trying to take him to Luna. Discord was there to save them and stop Soarin as well,” she explained and started pulling Dash towards Soarin’s door. “Soarin is resting right now. I don’t know why, but he claims having you for an hour will help him recover.”

“Oh…” Dash perked up, remembering her last visit when her presence seemed to ease the dark power flowing in Soarin. Her presence allowed him to get a full night’s sleep as well as take control of the power during their battle with Nightshade.

“I see you know what he’s talking about…” Spitfire rolled her eyes as they stood in front of Soarin’s door. “Again, he’s leaving me out of the loop in favor of you. I don’t blame him, but sometimes I think he forgets I’m his best friend,” she shrugged. “He’s all yours Dash. Please help him,” she stepped back and Dash looked at Soarin’s door. Dash nodded and knocked on the door.

“Come… in…” Soarin’s voice came from inside. His voice sounded slightly strained. Dash paused, but disregarded it and entered anyway.

Spitfire watched as Dash entered the room and the door shut. She looked up at the clock on the wall near the stairs. Dash had one hour, then Spitfire had to take her back. Spitfire yawned as she turned towards her room. She took one step and stopped. She turned and glanced down the hallway. She looked back at the clock one more time before turning and walking past Soarin’s room, down the hall in the opposite direction of her room. She couldn’t take it anymore. It had been bothering her since his little swearing explosion before the strength test. What was up with Wave Chill?

She made her way down the hall slowly towards his room. As she passed Misty Fly and Surprise’s room, the door gently opened. Spitfire kept walking, but she gave a quick glance back to see Fire Streak step out and close the door very gently behind him. He gave Spitfire a quiet nod as she passed. Spitfire nodded back and continued towards Wave’s room.

Fire Streak watched Spitfire head down the hall, curious as to why she was going that way when her room was in the other direction. He quickly concluded that he was too damn tired to really wonder about it. He had had a little too much excitement, his back was still sore from the three small blows he took from Soarin’s magic, and he had spent the rest of the day comforting Misty Fly.

It was awful looking at her. She was nine years older than him, but she clung to him like a frightened child. It seemed as though a small bit of Soarin’s inner magic had been forced into her. The way she twisted and churned while under its influence was a sight Fire would not soon forget. He could only watch, powerless. There was nothing he could do to save her from the pain. If Discord had not been there, he shuddered to think what would have happened.

Misty was alright, but the physical trauma on her body was immense. The mere thought of the immeasurable pain that coursed through her made her shake with fright. Her nerves were sore and taught from firing so much, her body was littered with small aches and pains from all the flailing and twitching. She felt like she had been pulled through a nightmare. There was nothing that Fire could do except offer his presence, let her know someone who cared was nearby so her mind could be at ease after almost being torn asunder.

Fire looked up at the door to his room before looking back two doors down to Misty’s room. She had finally fallen asleep. He didn’t want to leave her, but Surprise was back now, so she wouldn’t be alone.

Their door still had “thing one and thing dolt” written on it. Surprise’s little sign had been on their door for such a long time now. Speaking of “thing dolt,” Fire wondered if his brother was back in the room yet.

As soon as Fire opened the door the incredibly unnerving sound of his brother snoring blared out into the hallway. Lightning was most certainly back and he was already sleeping. Fire was looking to get some sleep himself, but as usual, his brother was snoring incredibly loud. It sounded like somepony was trying to tear a piece of leather over a whoopee cushion.

Fire closed the door behind him and made a small arc around the room. He stepped over all the piles of dirty laundry on Lightning’s side of the room and gave Lightning’s bed a solid, one leg buck as he passed.

“*SNRKSNORT* Urf…” Lightning turned over onto his stomach. The snoring ceased. Fire nodded in satisfaction and approached his bed while removing his spandex uniform. He balled it up and dropped it in a hamper. Fire was about to get into bed, but stopped.

Lightning grunted again and slowly pinched the longest, squeakiest fart Fire had ever heard in his life. Fire remained completely still for the duration of it with a very uncomfortable look on his face. When the fabulous one pony chorus finally ended, Fire shook his head.

“Mother would be so proud…” he mumbled as he slid into bed and pulled the covers up. Right as he yawned and put his head to the pillow—

*knock* *knock* … *knock* *knock*

Somepony was at the door? Fire lifted his head up and looked towards the door. He only partially heard it. He listened again.

*knock* *knock* … *knock* *knock*

That pattern. Only one pony knocked with that two knocks, pause, two knocks pattern. Fire was up quickly. He put his hooves to the floor and walked up to the door. He opened it slowly.

Misty Fly was sitting outside the door. Fire blinked and opened the door fully. Misty was staring up at him with wide pupils and a very distraught look on her face. She may have fallen asleep, but it looked like she still wasn’t ready to be left alone… but wait. Surprise was back in Misty’s room… that meant…

Fire sighed, cracking a small smile. He had been taking care of Misty since the incident. Looks like where she found comfort was with him alone. No words were needed, not even the sign language. Fire stepped aside and beckoned her in. Misty stood up and quickly entered. It was dark in their room, so Fire switched on a bedside lamp that shined a dim light onto his bed.

Misty was still looking directly at him. Fire really wanted her to get rest, but she couldn’t be left alone. After contemplating his options, he looked towards Misty and patted the mattress, offering it to her. She looked at the mattress, then back to him in confusion. Her look said it all. She wondered what he would do. Fire walked around her to his closet and pulled out a large spare blanket. He folded it up multiple times so it became nice and cushy and laid it on the floor beside the bed. He reached into the closet again and pulled out a spare pillow. He plopped it on the floor beside the blanket, then approached his bed again and tapped the mattress with his hoof while giving her a wink. She gave him a weak smile and obeyed, climbing up onto his bed and getting comfortable. She turned back to Fire and he held up a hoof to catch her attention. He unfolded his wings as well.

He patted his chest, took one of his wings and brushed it past his ear, made the same wing flat with the edge against his lips and pushed it forward, then pointed at the blanket.

His motions read: “I will be right here.”

Misty smiled and nodded in response. Fire looked down at his makeshift bed, but looked back up as Misty reached over with a wing and tapped his shoulder.

She put the tips of her wing to her mouth and extended it towards him, then pointed a hoof to say: “Thank you, Fire.”

Fire smiled back and shrugged. He put his right hoof up by his right shoulder and pushed it towards his left, followed by putting the tip of his last wing feather to his mouth and tipping towards her. His motions read: “It’s nothing.”

He made another move to go towards his mock bed. Misty’s wing reached out again and this time tapped his shoulder harder. He looked back once more in confusion. She was looking sternly at him. She closed her eyes and shook her head back and forth. Fire tipped his head to the side as Misty brought her wings up again.

She made the right hoof to left shoulder motion, she extended the two longest feathers in her right wing and tapped them into the flat inside part of her left wing twice, she put her hooves up in front of her chest and swiped her right hoof against her left before swinging it down and out away from her body, she extended the longest feathers on both wings and tapped them together once, and pointed at herself.

*It means everything to me.*

Misty leaned towards Fire and planted a very soft, gentle kiss on his left cheek. Fire’s eyes widened and he jumped slightly as she made the small, but meaningful gesture of affection.

Misty pulled back and gave Fire a very warm smile. She put her right hoof to her chin, lowered it over her left hoof and hovered it there for a moment to say: “Goodnight.” She kept her eyes on Fire as she pulled the blanket on his bed over her body and nestled her head into his pillow before turning over.

Fire’s body felt like it was moving in slow motion as he reached and turned out the light.

Misty kissed him. Misty Fly just kissed him on the cheek.

He didn’t know what to think. He had always cared greatly about Misty Fly. He did everything he could to make her rough life easier. She had done so much to help him and his brother climb the Wonderbolt ranks. He only saw it fitting to return the favor.

But was that really all it was? Was there more than gratitude behind his actions? Misty’s kiss made him think there may be. He suddenly wasn’t so surprised she kissed him. How could a mare… any mare not notice when a stallion goes so far out of his way to help her on a regular basis and more? It’s certainly what he did for her. He was by her side every single day. She couldn’t go anywhere without him coming along to aid her (save for the obvious such as the bathroom or locker room).

Fire finally laid down on his makeshift blanket. It wasn’t as nice as his bed, but he didn’t care because he wanted Misty to be comfortable.

They say that deep down inside every mare, there is a desire to be treated like a princess. Fire had certainly stayed by Misty’s side like a knight would stand beside his princess. Perhaps the meaning of his own actions had gone right over his head. Perhaps just by doing what came naturally to him… he had made Misty regard him more highly than a friend?

The thought was baffling… yet… welcoming. This night wouldn’t change anything in terms of how he acted or how he helped her as he had day in and day out… but perhaps now his actions would hold more meaning for both of them.

“*SNRRRRRRRRRRKSNRKSNRKSNRKSNORTSNORT*” another unholy noise came from the direction from Lightning.

“Good lord…” Fire was not in the mood to deal with his brother’s snoring. He had too much on his mind, so he took action.

He stood up, grabbed Lightning’s mattress, and heaved it off the bed with Lightning still on it. Lightning snorted loudly, but didn’t wake up. He was a very heavy sleeper after all. He dragged the mattress and his noisy brother towards the door and opened the door roughly. He didn’t need to keep the noise down because… well… Misty couldn’t hear.

He squeezed the mattress through the door, hoisting it slightly sideways, but making sure Lightning didn’t roll off. Fire pushed the mattress across the hall to the opposite wall, brushed his hooves together and re-entered his room, leaving his loud snoring brother out sleeping in the hallway.

Silver Lining came up the stairs and started down the hall. He didn’t even look at Lightning as he shifted on the mattress in the hallways while snoring so loudly you’d think he was driving a knife through his mattress. Silver walked right by while rolling his eyes and shaking his head.

He kept walking towards his room he shared with Wave Chill, but stopped at least five doors away because he saw Spitfire standing outside the door to his room. He grunted in annoyance when he saw her knock on the door. He was tired and wanted to go to bed, but the door opened and Spitfire pushed her way into his room.

“Damn colts and fillies these days…” he sighed as he approached his door and took a seat outside against the opposite wall. He could barely make out the conversation inside.

“Spitfire!? Er… I mean Captain Spitfire! What a surprise! What brings you—?”

“Wave…” Spitfire looked at him sternly. Wave shut his mouth tight. His eyes widened as Spitfire moved towards him slowly.

Code red, code red. Wave Chill was caught with no avenue of escape. Silver Lining just had to close the armored shutter over their window every day. Wave was stuck and there was nothing he could do about it. He took shaky steps backward as Spitfire moved forward. His hooves stumbled and tripped over themselves as he moved, easily catching Spitfire’s attention.

“Wave, what the hell?” she looked at him in confusion as his eyes darted back and forth, refusing to look at her. His face grew redder and redder as she closed in. “What’s wrong? I was just talking to you this morning! Now you won’t even look at me?”

“Um…” Wave forced his eyes to hers for all but a brief moment before slamming them shut. All he could think of was earlier in Soarin’s room. The way the fake Spitfire locked her eyes on his, the way she batted her eyelashes, the way she slowly slipped off her uniform, backed him against the wall and pressed her body against his. It all felt so real. He let it all happen thinking it was real. It felt… so good. He felt his wings twitching as he opened his eyes. He yelped when he saw Spitfire had moved much closer to him. He almost fell back as he scurried backwards. A quiet THUMP as he stopped made his heart leap up into his throat. He had his plot to the wall. He couldn’t run from it anymore.

“Wave, why are you avoiding me?!” Spitfire suddenly raised her voice a little.

“I…” Wave began to sweat and his blush deepened further, his face no longer dark blue. This wasn’t the fake Spitfire. This was the real Spitfire. He would never mistake that stern glare. However, she had no idea about the situation she had just put him in. When the fake Spitfire approached him, she backed him against the wall before undressing. Here, Spitfire had just backed him up against the wall, and already was without her uniform. The situations were overlapping in his brain and now all he could think of was Spitfire rubbing herself all over him and kissing him with intense sexual passion. Curse his male brain. The image just wouldn't leave him.

“Wave!” Spitfire yelled his name louder.

“NO!” Wave yelled back while shaking his head. His wings flared open with a loud FWOOMP. Spitfire took a step back in surprise while looking him up and down.

“No…what…?” she asked while scrunching her face. Wave’s eyes shot open he looked at his wings before quickly forcing them closed.

“I… I’m sorry I…” FWOOMP. His wings shot back out. “Uh…” He forced them closed again. “I don’t mean to be avoiding you… I just…” FWOOMP. “DAMMIT!” he cursed as he failed to gain control over his wings.

“Wave… what happened when you checked on Soarin?” Spitfire put it together. Wave’s blushing and inability to hide his… 'excitement…' made it clear something had happened and it had to do with her. Wave gave up on trying to refold his wings and crossed his back legs to keep other signs of his dilemma from sight. He released a long sigh, but still didn’t look at her.

“I… went to check on Soarin… as ordered…” he paused while biting his lower lip.

“Aaaaaand?” Spitfire rolled her hoof end over end in the air, encouraging him to continue.

“Discord was also there…” his voice got quieter. He glanced at Spitfire. There was no avoiding this. “He… decided to mess with me… made an image of you… and made it…” his voice became squeaky and sputtering. Spitfire was leaning in to make sure she could still hear him. “He made it undress seductively, press me to a wall, rub itself against me, and kiss me.” He said the last portion very quickly, but Spitfire heard every word.

Spitfire pulled her head back, her eyes growing wider as each word sunk in. Her mouth hung open slightly and a blush quickly crossed over her face.

“Oh… um…” Spitfire suddenly felt terrible. It’s not like she could have known, but she just forced Wave to admit something he clearly wasn’t too happy about apparently… enjoying. Wave was very duty bound, much like her. Despite the two of them having become closer than acquaintances over the past few months, they were both still very strict about keeping their bodily desires in check. Wave’s body language was quite clear. His insane blushing, his wings disobeying him, and his legs crossed to conceal a… “I…” Spitfire looked away from him.

While a sudden untamable urge to kill Discord burned in her chest, she was more focused on how much Wave was trying to hide his urges out of respect for her. Charming as it was, she couldn’t stop feeling bad about effectively putting a wrench into his attempts to regain himself. He was purposely avoiding her so he could clear his mind of the image Discord put in his head. Sure he liked it, he was a stallion… she’d be worried if he didn’t like it. That didn’t mean he’d forget his rank and duty though. He was trying to fight it and she barged right into his room, putting him in an incredibly uncomfortable situation.

“I’m sorry…” Spitfire turned away and headed for the door.

“Spitfire?” Wave suddenly found the strength to pry his ass from the wall. She kept walking. “Spitfire, wait!” He tried to reach for her, but she was already out the door and heading down through the hallway. Wave looked out his door and thought about going after her, but she was clearly uncomfortable, so he didn’t press it.

Silver Lining stood up from against the wall, stretched out his back and cracked his neck as he approached the open door.

“Careful where you stick it, sonny,” he said plainly as he pushed past Wave into their room. Wave just groaned and rubbed his hooves against his head. This was going to take a while to wear off.

“Soarin?” Dash spoke quietly into the room as the door shut behind her. She saw Soarin in his bed, but he wasn’t looking at her. He was sitting up with his back against the head board, looking down at something in his lap while the false horn was glowing brightly. She tipped her head to the side, wondering what was going on. He looked very focused.

“Gah! Haaaa.” Soarin exhaled as the magic glow faded from the horn.

“Soarin?” She called his name again. His eyes widened upon hearing her voice. He looked up and smiled upon seeing Dash. She smiled back. He reached his hooves out in her direction.

“You. Hug. Now. Pronto,” he said goofily. Dash snickered and hovered into the air. “I said NOW, dammit!” He began waving his arms up and down comically. Dash stopped in midair and sneered.

“I dunno… I think I’ll take it niiiiiiiice and slooooooow.” She taunted while moving barely an inch through the air every second. Soarin flattened his expression, then closed his eyes and squinted while smirking. “Huh?” Dash felt something press against her plot. She turned to see a magic aura surrounding her back side. She suddenly was launched forward at Soarin. “WHOA!”

“Huh?” Soarin opened his eyes in time to see Dash crash face first into his chest. “OOF!” he grunted as she hit him and her face slid down his body right between his legs. Soarin just sat and stared at their position as Dash struggled to place her hooves on the mattress beside them. Soarin just shrugged and let her take her time before she finally pulled her head out of his lap and shook her head out. “Nice landing,” he chuckled as Dash half glared, half smirked.

“What magic technique was that, the pony launcher?” Dash chuckled. Soarin shrugged.

“Sorry, I’m not too good at controlling force yet. By the way, HI!” He reached his arms beneath hers, lifted her into his body and gave her a very tight hug. Dash squeaked, but quickly wrapped her arms around his neck, returning the embrace with as much strength as she could muster to match his. They let up and looked into each other’s eyes.

“So we’re living a life of danger I see. How in the world did you convince Spitfire to let me see you?” Dash sighed as she took a long look into Soarin’s eyes.

“Well, let’s just say when a god gives you a suggesting it’s kind of a good idea to follow it,” Soarin chuckled.

“A god?”


“Huh?” Dash lifted an eyebrow. Soarin shook his head.

"I’m going to have to give you all the details at some point. We only have an hour together, I don’t want to waste it,” Soarin pulled her slightly closer to him. Dash reached a hoof out and it pressed against his chest, halting her.

“At least… tell me a little. Spitfire told me about what happened earlier today. You…” her ears drooped. “I love you Soarin, and I want to know what’s happening to you… please?”

Soarin looked into her eyes as they showed a sign of worry. He’d been around Dash enough by now to read her emotions. Dash was always snarky, confident, and turning everything into a competition if she could. Soarin could barely kiss her without her trying to make it a fun adventure.

Whenever Dash approached something quietly or with sincerity he knew it was important because Dash was more often than not, lighthearted 24/7. He smiled and rubbed his hooves against her back.

“I love you too Dash,” he leaned forward and kissed her forehead. “Thanks for thinking so much of me,” he flashed her a quick smile. “It’s very confusing, but Discord and Luna have been working very hard to contain the dark power in me,” he tapped the horn. “Remember how having you near calms the power and lets me rest? Well, giving the magic more room to flow and using it through this horn has a similar effect… kind of like appeasing the magic’s urge to be used for a little while.”

“Is that what you were doing when I came in?” Dash tipped her head slightly. Soarin nodded.

“Yeah… you’re sitting on two pebbles I was using for magic practice,” he chuckled. Dash blinked, leaned and looked beneath her plot. There were two pebbles in Soarin’s lap. She looked back at him with a sly grin. Soarin saw it and braced himself. Incoming smarm.

“Pebbles, huh? I saw you looking down while using your magic… followed by a grunt. I thought you were, you know, flogging the dolphin,” she snickered.

“You would think that…” Soarin chuckled while rolling his eyes and smirking. “There’s something else though,” he tried to bring the mood back to serious. “Discord told me why you have an effect on the magic.”

“Oh?” Dash perked up. She had been curious about this too. There never really was a full explanation for it.

“When Celestia used her magic to revive me, and had you and Spitfire help her, the two of you left some sort of life force imprint in the magic. The way Discord put it, is that it’s afraid of you.”

“Oh, so Spitfire could do this for you too?” Dash crossed her hooves and pouted. Soarin quickly shook his head.

“Absolutely not,” he chuckled. “The imprinted you left behind is apparently twenty or so time stronger. The magic is so afraid of you that it calms completely, and even lets me command it. I can confirm that right now, because you’ve been here for what, five minutes? The magic has been the calmest it’s been in a long time, just right now.”

“Why’s that?” Dash asked with curiosity.

“Because of this,” Soarin smiled.

Soarin forced Dash towards him, locking his lips with hers. She yelped quietly in surprise, but immediately played along, caressing his lips with hers while a light blush crept over her nose. Soarin reached a hoof around and lightly brushing it through her mane before gently pressing her harder against him. Dash quickly pressed her tongue against his lips, demanding she be let in. Soarin obeyed, but quickly met her advance by pinning her tongue down with his. Dash released a soft moan and her wings twitched madly as Soarin ran his hoof to the top her head and brushed it against her sensitive ears. Soarin took advantage of her tingly state, and ran his lips around her mouth, sucking on her bottom lip before lightly biting playfully. He released her lip and pulled away from her. She blinked and smiled at him while narrowing her eyes seductively.

“You are so damn sexy, you know that?” she sighed and bit her lip while swaying back and forth in front of him. “So is that really a reason? Or did you just get bored and decide to make out?” Dash leaned forward and rested her head against his chest. Soarin reached his arms around her and hugged her tightly again.

“It’s the biggest reason. The imprint you left against the dark magic is huge because of the connection we share. Spitfire and I are good friends, but Dash, I LOVE you. There is no connection stronger than that. The fact that the imprint you left is so large also proves how much you love me,” he smiled while stroking her side. “You really liked me that much back when we first met?” he chuckled, realizing the imprint was made on the back end of their first encounter with each other.

“Of course I did you jerk,” she jabbed him lightly in the side.

“I guess I’m sexier than I thought,” he joked while rubbing his nose roughly into her mane. She giggled and pushed off of him. They looked into each other’s eyes again for a moment, before Dash looked down at the pebbles in his lap.

“Can I see you use magic?” she asked while shifting back slightly to remove herself from the pebbles completely. It was a request, but since she already moved it was more of a demand. Soarin wasn’t going to say no though.

“Sure,” he nodded before looking down at the two pebbles. Maybe with Dash watching, his eagerness to show off would finally help him grab two things at a time.

He closed his eyes and recalled the magical sensations, quickly forming the single mental split so he could keep the magic resonating, but also lift the pebble. Dash watched with interest as the fake horn began to glow light blue. It was dim at first, but slowly grew brighter. One of the pebbles was encircled by a blue aura. It slowly lifted into the air and hovered. Soarin squeaked one eye open and focused it on the second pebble. It felt overly forced, but he tried to create a second split. He didn’t know why it was so hard. Fancy Pants could do it so quickly and form nine or ten different thought processes… what did it take? An aura flickered around the second, but before anything else could happen, it all stopped.

“Damn!” Soarin cursed as he eyes the pebbles in frustration.

“That was… pretty awesome,” Dash blinked and smiled. Soarin shook his head.

“I can’t get this one down though… picking up two things at a time…” he glared at the pebbles. Dash watched him contemplate, and then had an idea. She smiled and shifted towards him.

“Here…” she floated up and landed right beside him on the bed. “You said my presence makes the magic listen to you right?”

“Yyyyyes?” Soarin blinked, and then realized what she was doing. “Oh!”

“Mmhmm,” Dash nodded and pressed herself against his side while nestling her head into his neck. “Try again.”

“Okay…” Soarin took a deep breath and focused on the pebbles again. He shut his eyes and went through the motions. “Whoa!” Soarin reacted as the magic appeared nearly instantly. He had never called it so quickly before. Was Dash really having an effect on his magic basics? He formed the mind split quickly and the first pebble was up in the air, floating higher above his head than it had before. Soarin opened his eyes and looked up. He was maintaining two thought processes so easily. He usually had to concentrate so hard. He looked down at the other pebble and locked both eyes on it. He calmly focused and slowly… very slowly… forced his mind to form a third. The light did not flicker around the second pebble this time. It was surrounded smoothly and it lifted up into the air right beside the other pebble.

“You did it!” Dash bounced happily beside him as Soarin smiled up at the two pebbles. He released the magic and let them fall back to the bed before turning towards Dash.

“You are incredible,” he said as he grabbed her by the shoulders.

“Tell me something I don’t—MMMPH!” she got cut off as Soarin leaned in and kissed her passionately. “Mmmmm…” she moaned as the two fell to the bed and began making out again.

They only had 45 minutes left in their hour, and Soarin knew exactly what he wanted to do with all 2700 seconds. Dash wasn’t gonna complain. She wanted it just as much.

On the other side of the wall between Soarin and Spitfire’s room. Spitfire sat with her back up against it. She could hear everything. Part of her wanted to move and put a pillow over her ears, the other part thought of nothing but Wave Chill.

She just had to run off. They had made so many strides in their relationship and now it was going to be awkward as hell. She sighed as she heard the moaning and kissing through the tin walls.


Being bound by duty. It was something both she and Wave Chill lived by. It was built into their brains and they respected each other through it. How long could they last though? How much did they really want from each other? As much of an ass Discord was… maybe he did them a favor.

Maybe Spitfire wanted more. Maybe Wave Chill wanted more. Could they hide behind their line of work forever?

Spitfire shook her head and got up from the wall. She could still hear Soarin and Dash through it. All she could think of as the noise passed through her ears… was Wave Chill. Spitfire had never had a pony she felt… attracted to. She found herself thinking of her and Wave on her bed… partaking in the same actions going on next door. She blushed, but at the same time mentally berated herself. She flopped on the bed, making sure to keep an eye on the clock for when she’d be taking Dash back.

Maybe everypony was right. Maybe Fleetfoot and Blaze weren’t being so stupid. Maybe she did have to loosen up.

Whatever she had to do… it wasn’t going to be easy.

Talk about getting no sleep tonight for sure…

--- To Be Continued ---

Chapter 18: Fleetfoot's Wake Up Call From Hell

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Piercing the Heavens
By: Calm Wind

Chapter 18:

It was an unexpected, but great night for Rainbow Dash. It was sad to see Bulk leave, and it sucked to know she’d be putting up with Arctic Blast longer, but the rest of her friends, both new and old had made it through day one. She was also the top ranked cadet so far. Oh, who was she kidding? Highlight of the night? She got to suck on Soarin’s face.

It was the perfect way to conclude a wild day.

Spitfire took her back to the barracks right before lights out at 10:30. They were being allowed to sleep until 8:00am instead of 6:00am. No real reason was given, but Dash assumed it was because one hundred cadets were going to be a lot easier to manage than two hundred fifty-ish.

The night began the same way the first had: With a bear being pushed off of a mountain while having its arms torn off. Seriously, how did Arctic snore so loudly? Apparently holding your nose so high up in the air day in and day out made you hell in a bitch’s skin during the night.

Dash was already settled in and didn’t want to get up and wing-slap her until she turned over again. Luckily, somepony else took action this time. Or in this case somegriffon else. Matteo had enough of the snoring after only a few minutes of it. Dash watched, trying not to laugh, as he grumbled, lifted the whole mattress with Arctic off the top bunk, carried her into the far corner of the long barrack hall and shoved her into a corner. The loud roar had become a small buzz off to the side and now the rest could get to sleep.

Dash had to ask Matteo about Gilda later. Gilda… married… Gilda… married… it just didn’t fit together. Dash’s old friend, fellow badass and prankster, and as of recently, a bit on the bitchy side when she visited... WAS MARRIED. First of all, she was Dash’s age. Dash didn’t even have marriage within a thousand miles of her brain right now. But even if they were older, Gilda never seemed like the type to settle down. Dash wondered what sort of hell Matteo must’ve gone through not only to woo such a rebel type like Gilda, but get her to marry him on top of it! That would be quite the story.

For now though, sleep. Dash was heading into the second day strong. It was best she got plenty of sleep to meet it head on. 8:00 am? It was 11:00 by the time everything died down. Nine hours of sleep sounded great.

“HEEEEEEEEYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! EVERYPONY ON YOUR HOOVES!” Fleetfoot’s voice blasted through the barracks as she flew back and forth down the aisle between the beds.

“Wha…?” Dash’s eyes slowly opened and she yawned loudly. What? It was time to get up? Why did she feel so… groggy?

“Up! Up! Up! Up! Up! Up! Up!” Fleetfoot kept yelling as she made passes by every bunk. Dash turned over and pushed herself up from the bed. She shook her head out and looked out from her bunk towards the wall clock.

It read 4:30 am.

“Huh…?” Dash rubbed her eyes and blinked to make sure she read it correctly. “4:30?!” she yelled out as she fought her heavy eyelids. Fleetfoot halted right in front of her.

“Bet your rainbow ass Dashie!” she winked and giggled while making her way back down the aisle to the entrance.

What the hell? What happened to 8:00am wakeup? Dash rolled out of bed and got to her hooves, feeling stiff and sore from the day before. More repercussions of the Sonic Blast-off no doubt, mixed in with general soreness from lots of flying. She’d have to be more careful with Soarin’s move. She was going to be stiff today and there was nothing she could do about it. She stepped out to see what was going on.

More ponies were finding the will to roll out of bed and look out like she was. Dash spotted Matteo, Storm Front, along with a few others standing. Storm looked groggy as well, but Matteo looked just fine, that or his large beak was hiding how tired his eyes were. A good number of ponies were still in bed though.

Dash looked down towards the entrance to see Fleetfoot, Blaze, and High Winds standing at the doors.

Something about that trio made Dash feel uneasy.

“Well, well, welly, welly, well, well!” Fleetfoot yelled out as she saw the ponies struggling to rise. “Congratulations for making it this far in the tryouts, but your only reward is something much harder!” she chuckled as she took a good look down the aisle. She huffed as she noticed that not all of the cadets had quite gotten her wakeup call. “Hmmm… looks like I gotta go the extra mile for some of you dolts!” Fleetfoot began walking down the aisle.

“Get your fucking asses up now or we’ll make ya regret it!” Blaze started following Fleetfoot, leaving High Winds by the doors. Fleetfoot flattened her ears for a moment and glanced at Blaze before continuing.

She looked back and forth, as she moved, looking for her first victim. She came across a stallion that was still asleep in a bottom bunk. She sneered at him and entered his bunk space.

“Hey, Snoozalooza, up,” she poked him.

“Uuuhhhggg…” he groaned and tried to pull the sheet over his head.

“Bad choice!” Fleetfoot ripped the sheet off of the stallion, and grabbed his pillow out from underneath him.

“Huh?” The stallion’s eyes squeaked open to see Fleetfoot winding up with the pillow.

“Time to ring the bells of glory!” Fleetfoot yelled out before swinging the pillow around and launching it RIGHT into the stallion’s crotch.

OOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHH GODDDDDDDDDD!!!!!!!!” The stallion yelled and his face turned blue. He let out a small squeak, rolled over and fell off the other side of the bed. Fleetfoot smirked as she heard lots of shuffling in the hall. One example was all it took. Most of the sleepyheads were getting up when they saw what might be coming. At least most of the stallions were up now.

Fleetfoot nodded in satisfaction and stepped back out into the aisle. Blaze pushed past her, went to the other side of the bunk and got down into the face of the stallion who was still rolling on the floor.

“HA! YOU GOT DICK PUNCHED!” she yelled in his face. Fleetfoot reached over and pulled Blaze away from him.

“Come on sweetie, let’s let him writhe in peace,” she dragged Blaze away.

Dash was half mortified and half trying not to burst out laughing. Fleetfoot’s methods were delightfully evil, but effective. That stallion was not going to have a good day.

“Derpy! Derpy! Wake up!” Storm Front’s voice came from nearby. Dash glanced over at Storm Front and Derpy’s bunk.

“Huh?” Derpy woke slowly in the bottom bunk and looked up at Storm.

“Fleetfoot is messing with ponies who are still asleep, get up now before she gets here!” he whispered while glancing at Fleetfoot approaching.

“Oh? Oh!” Derpy sat up and rolled out of bed just in time as Fleetfoot passed by and gave them a brief look. Storm breathed a sigh of relief as Fleetfoot let them be.

“Awww… the wishful thinkers are gone!” Fleetfoot’s voice caught Dash’s attention again. Dash looked out to see Fleetfoot standing by the bunk where the poster of her and Spitfire used to be with a vacant bunk beside it. “Oh well, it’s not like I can’t get another from Photo Finish and post it right outside Spitfire’s door,” she chuckled as she looked about and her eyes landed on Dash’s bunk. “Hm?” she floated up and saw the mattress missing from the top bunk. “Dash, where’s McBitch with Fries?”

“Arctic?” Dash glanced up at the top and snickered. “She was snoring last night so Matteo put her in the far corner,” Dash pointed down the hall. Fleetfoot leaned out and looked down the aisle. She saw the mattress sticking out slightly on the end in the corner and started chuckling.

“You guys keep this up and you’ll fit in perfectly,” she said as she lifted up and glided down the aisle. “Shoulda slapped her shit too,” she winked at Matteo as she passed him. Matteo just grunted.

Fleetfoot glided all the way over and landed by the mattress in the corner. Blaze landed close behind. Arctic was still fast asleep on the mattress. She wasn’t snoring because she had at one point, turned onto her side and was now facing the wall.

“Lemme at the bitch,” Blaze tried to come forward, but Fleetfoot reached out her wing to block her.

“She needs more than ringing ears Blazey,” Fleetfoot winked as she used the pet name. Blaze growled at her, but stepped back as Fleetfoot rubbed her hooves together. “I know just what will freak the ovaries out of her,” she sneered.

Fleetfoot carefully slid onto the mattress behind Arctic and edged herself closer and closer until she was in a big spoon position. She snickered and suddenly clamped her arms around Arctic’s chest, and her legs around Arctic’s waist.

Arctic awoke with a start, her body remembering the rude awakening Surprise gave her the morning before. Only this time, something was clamped to her.

“Goooooood morniiiiiiiing…” Fleetfoot raspily whispered into Arctic’s ear.

“Uh…” Arctic’s ears flattened and her eyes shot open.

“You taste gooooooooood…” Fleetfoot whispered again while licking the entire outer edge of Arctic’s ear. Arctic’s pupils shrank and she began to squirm, but Fleetfoot was too strong. “You’re the bessssssssst little spoooooooon,” Fleetfoot continued while nearly poking her nose into Arctic’s ear.

“OH MY GAWD! GET OFFA ME! GET OFFA ME!!!!!” Arctic began screaming and flailing. Fleetfoot suddenly pushed herself off of Arctic and off the mattress, grabbed the edge of the mattress and flipped it up, smashing Arctic between the mattress and the wall. Arctic fell off the mattress and it flopped over on top of her. She struggled beneath it and finally managed to poke her head out from underneath, only to meet the face of Fleetfoot directly in front of her.

“Sleep in again and you might wake up with a limp,” Fleetfoot winked and turned to leave Arctic in shock.

“HA! GET FUCKED, BITCH!” Blaze got down and yelled into Arctic’s face. Fleetfoot stopped and rolled her eyes.

“Blaze, you’re killing the effect,” she reached back and pulled Blaze along again.

Again, Dash was trying not to completely lose it. Now most of the ponies were up. They didn’t have to be told twice after quite the display of antics from Fleetfoot. Dash didn’t blame them. She wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of it either.

Fleetfoot trotted back down the aisle, smiling at her work. It looked like all the ponies were up. Well, save for two she was passing.

“Hmmm…” Fleetfoot paused as she reached Thunderlane and Twister’s bed. Neither of them was awake. Dash didn’t really mind Twister, but Thunderlane was going to regret his lazy ass not getting up.

Fleetfoot eyed Twister in the bottom bunk with the covers pulled all the way up over his head. Fleetfoot tapped her hooves together.

“Looks like I found another idiot that wants to do this the hard way." She reached for the covers and pulled them off. Twister was not even there. Blaze yelped as Twister appeared directly behind Fleetfoot with his chin resting on her shoulder, the creepiest grin plastered to his face. Fleetfoot just glanced to her right shoulder with an unnamused look on her face. Twister began snickering loudly and tipped the top of his head into Fleetfoot’s cheek.

“I never dreamed Wonderbolt mares would be so s—”

Before he could finish Fleetfoot jabbed her elbow back towards him. She hit nothing, but she reached up to her other shoulder and clasped her hooves on Twister’s head the instant he reappeared there.

“What?!” Twister blinked as Fleetfoot flipped him over her back, and slammed him against his mattress. She quickly pressed her arm against his chest so he couldn’t move and smirked as she got down into his face. Twister looked absolutely puzzled as to how Fleetfoot predicted his randomness.

“Listen up Freaky Friday,” Fleetfoot began as she pressed her nose against his. “I’ve known lots of silly ponies like you… and lemme tell ya, you’re not as skilled as you think,” she winked at him. “Now try that little stunt on me again and… well… I’ll make you regret it. I may not be as crazy as you…” she leaned to his ear and whispered. “But I can be pretty creative. So don’t try me. Got it?”

“Y-yes ma’am.”

“Good,” Fleetfoot removed her arm from his chest. Twister sat up fast and quickly turned to look at her with disbelief. Surprise may have beaten him at his own game, but Fleetfoot beat him with conventional methods. Dash was insanely impressed. She had lived with Pinkie Pie her whole life and could never figure out her methods. Fleet seemed to have it down from working with Surprise for so long.

“POW! Take that you crazy fucker!” Blaze yelled right into Twister’s ear, but he didn’t even look at her. His eyes remained locked on Fleetfoot.

“One more time and I’m punching her…” Fleetfoot mumbled to herself as she looked up.

“Oh no…” Dash put a hoof over her eyes as she saw Fleetfoot look up towards Thunderlane. This was bound to be one hell of a story to tell Applejack later.

“Double duty for this bunk, eh?” Fleetfoot chuckled as she rose up to the top bunk. She reached forward and started poking Thunderlane repeatedly in the ribs. Thunderlane grunted and stirred. Fleetfoot sneered and suddenly pushed both of her hooves into his body. Thunderlane woke up as he rolled off the top bunk.

“Whoa!” He yelped as he managed to twist around in midair and flap his wings once to soften the landing as his hooves slammed to the floor.

“What the hell?! OOF!” Thunderlane grunted as Fleetfoot hopped off the bunk and landed on his back, stretching her body out along the length of it while stroking his mane. Thunderlane froze and slowly turned around to see Fleetfoot eyeing him seductively.

“Nice recovery,” she wiggled her body a little bit to rub herself against his back. “You’re a brave stallion if you can sleep with Freaky Deaky below you,” she made a head motion towards Twister, who was still frozen and staring at her.

“Um…” Thunderlane was as stiff as a statue. He had no idea where the situation was going, nor how to act in it. Fleetfoot leaned towards his ear.

“I guess that makes you a brave stallion in bed. I wonder how brave?” she teased while stroking a hoof up and down the side of his neck. Thunderlane's wings fired outward with a loud FWOOMP as a mad blush covered his face. Fleetfoot flinched in surprise as they did, and then giggled. “Wow that didn’t take much. Looks like somepony needs a good bang,” Fleetfoot teased further as she got up off Thunderlane and hopped over his head to the ground in front of him. She gave her plot a wiggle in his face, planning to leave it like that to keep him flustered, but—

“ZING!” Blaze shot up beside Thunderlane, making him jump almost as high as the ceiling and breaking him out of the daze Fleetfoot left him in. He quickly refolded his wings and his eyes darted around, hoping his excitement went mostly unnoticed.

Fleetfoot stopped and let out a heavy sigh as Blaze stood beside Thunderlane chuckling. She folded her ears back and flattened her brow.

“That’s it Blazey, you’re just being annoying as hell now. Go sit in the corner,” Fleetfoot said and pointed towards the entrance without looking at Blaze. Blaze turned her head sharply towards Fleetfoot and she stomped towards her. Fleetfoot turned to face Blaze as she growled.

“Excuse me Fuckfoot? Would you like to repeat that to my face?!” Blaze pressed her nose to Fleetfoot’s and glared. Fleetfoot did nothing for a moment, and then a small smirk crept over her face. She removed her face from Blaze’s and casually walked in a circle around her. Blaze turned her head in confusion as Fleetfoot stopped directly behind her. Fleetfoot leaned her face towards Blaze’s plot.

“That’s it Blazey, you’re just being annoying as hell now. Go sit in the corner,” she repeated to Blaze’s plot. Blaze’s face turned red with anger. Fleetfoot reached up and smacked her hoof against Blaze’s plot while keeping her eyes on it. “C’mon Blaze! Answer me!”


Blaze turned around and leapt at Fleetfoot with her hooves flying. Fleetfoot reached up and caught both of Blaze’s arms, forcing Blaze to land on her back hooves. The two grappled for a few seconds, turning around and bumping into bed frames as the cadets all watched the scuffle. Fleetfoot smirked and pushed Blaze back hard, bumping into Thunderlane. Using Blaze, Fleetfoot pushed Thunderlane all the way back against the wall.

“Hey look! You’ve got another mare that wants some!” Fleetfoot joked as she forcibly rubbed Blaze’s body up and down Thunderlane.

“Help…” Thunderlane sputtered as Blaze growled. Fleetfoot suddenly released the pressure on Blaze and ducked. Blaze lurched forward and toppled over Fleetfoot’s back, rolling to the floor and sliding face first across the floor back into the middle of the aisle.

Fleetfoot swiped the pillow off of Twister’s bunk as she stepped out and sat down, straddling Blaze’s lower back. She took the pillow and slid it under Blaze’s face as she tried to pick her head up off the floor. Fleetfoot took both hooves and pressed Blaze’s face down into the pillow. Fleetfoot began sliding the inside of her thighs back and forth on Blaze’s back.

“I AM THE ALPHA MARE! I. AM. THE. ALPHA MARE!” She yelled out as Blaze roared multiple muffled swears into the pillow.

Dash watched, admittedly a little disturbed at how far Fleetfoot took humiliating Blaze. She glanced around and saw a similar reaction among the mares, but the stallions… all seemed to be having trouble with their wings. Big surprise. Thunderlane specifically had a front row seat to the action. He just stared with wide eyes and wings to go along with a large blush on his face.

“Who’s the alpha mare?” Fleetfoot let Blaze’s face off the pillow briefly.


“Nope,” Fleetfoot pressed Blaze’s head back down.

Back by the entrance, Silver Lining stepped through the door and took a few steps in. He stopped and blinked as he saw his fellow Wonderbolts on the floor. Fleetfoot was rubbing her crotch against Blaze’s back while yelling and holding Blaze’s face against a pillow. Silver sighed, rolled his eyes, and shook his head. He looked to his right to see High Winds asleep in the first bunk on the right. She had the covers pulled up over her and everything.

“Typical,” Silver grunted and gave the bunk frame a kick.

“SNRK… huh?” Winds woke up, yawned, and smacked her lips. She looked over at Silver Lining and saluted sleepily while still lying in bed. “Morning Captain,” she said sleepily. Silver looked back towards the odd scene in the hall and then back to Winds.

“When Commander Fleetfoot is done ramming our wingmate, let her know the chefs have our early breakfast ready.” he ordered. Winds rolled out of bed and onto her hooves.

“Sure thing Captain,” she said while cracking her neck. Silver just sighed again and left the hall before he could be drawn into anything else.

“SO!” Fleetfoot turned around and lay her back against Blaze’s, still keeping her pinned. “I’m sure all you cadets are wondering about the wakeup time! Guess what, we lied. Also, you’re probably wondering why all the shenanigans?” she extended her wings and finally let Blaze up. Blaze shot up from the ground and turned to make a run at Fleetfoot, but Fleet put her in a headlock and held her steady. “I am in charge of today’s trials and today’s tests will focus on one thing! How you handle the unexpected! Weren’t expecting a 4:30 wakeup call? TOO BAD! Sometimes you may have to get up and go on short notice!”

That smooth, sly bitch. Dash chuckled as Fleetfoot explained. Handling the unexpected… and Fleetfoot was in charge? This was going to be an interesting day.

High Winds casually made her way down the aisle and whispered something to Fleetfoot. Fleetfoot grinned and giggled before focusing back on the cadets.

“Alright everypony! To breakfast! No complaining either cause our chefs were just as pissed about getting up this early as you probably are. Now let’s go!” she ordered while dragging Blaze along with her. The cadets all followed behind.

Today was going to be interesting indeed.

--- To Be Continued ---


View Online

Piercing the Heavens
By: Calm Wind

Chapter 19 (GASP!):

Disclaimer: There is no actual sex in this chapter.

Soarin carefully pushed open the door to the side room attached to the cafeteria. He edged through it while balancing his tray on the other hoof and made it through without dropping anything. He was the first Wonderbolt to arrive at breakfast so he took a random place at one of the two tables and sat down.

It was incredible how good he felt. After the scene yesterday, he was sure he was going to be drained completely; either physically, mentally, or both. Having Dash spend a little “quality” time with him before going to bed calmed down the magic so much that he pretty much fully recovered. It was as if Dash’s presence made the magic behave and get right to work on healing him at its quickened pace. As much as he hated the sly son of a bitch, Discord was completely right about Dash. Now if only Discord could be helpful without messing with ponies at the same time. Unless he gets a good laugh, Discord saw no need to bother with anything it seemed.

Soarin had purposely come early to eat. He was all better, but he wanted to get in and out before two particular Wonderbolts arrived.

The door opened.

Soarin flinched and slowly looked to see Fire Streak and Misty Fly enter. He just had to think about it, didn’t he? Both Misty and Fire immediately looked at him and stopped walking. Soarin met their eyes for a moment, hesitating once to turn back around before breaking eye contact and going back to eating.

He felt so ashamed. Both of them were exposed to danger that they were never meant to face. Soarin had no control over the power, but it still came from him. So he felt completely responsible for what happened. Fire was lucky he only received a few minor burns on his back. Misty was the one Soarin felt truly horrible about. If what Discord told him was true, Soarin’s magic nearly killed her. How could he even look her in the eye after that? He wouldn’t be surprised if she was afraid of him for the rest of his life… assuming he’d be stuck with this power anyway.

“Huh?” Soarin blinked as he felt something tap his shoulder. He swallowed a portion of scrambled eggs and slowly turned to see Misty standing right behind him. Before he could do anything else, Misty reached around his neck and gave him a very tight hug. Soarin stiffened for a moment, but relaxed while looking at Fire. Fire was smiling at them as he went to put both his tray and Misty’s on the other table.

“How are you feeling Commander, sir?” Fire gave a quick salute.

“I’m fine Fire, thanks…” Soarin glanced at Misty. She let go of him, gave herself about one arm’s length distance, and began making signs to Soarin.

She put two wing feathers to her lips and extended them towards Soarin, and then she pointed a hoof at him. She took her two wing feathers and made them into an O shape before flattening one feather and pointing the other up.

Soarin blinked as he watched her symbols. He knew basic sign language from trying to talk to Misty on occasion. After running through his knowledge of the signs he figured it out. Misty was asking if he was okay.

“Ah…” Soarin put his wings up. He was about to make the motion’s for ‘I’m okay,’ but he stopped and thought for a moment. Instead he put his hoof up to his chest and made a circular motion to say: “I’m sorry,” and then looked away from Misty. She reached forward and turned his head back to her while looking at him sternly.

She repeated her motions for: “Are you okay?”

Soarin sighed and smiled at her. Soarin put his hoof to his chest, and then lowered it out in front of him. He flattened his wing in front of him and tapped it to his chest to say: “I’m fine.”

Misty smiled and gave him another small hug before turning towards the other table.

“Sorry about… you know… all that yesterday,” Soarin said as he focused on Fire.

“Don’t dwell on it Commander, we’re all fine,” Fire nodded while keeping an eye on Misty.

“It could’ve been much worse,” Soarin sighed while staring down at his food.

“But it wasn’t,” Fire made clear before turning to his table. “Nopony got hurt, so there’s no reason to think on what could have happened,” he finished with a brief smile before sitting down next to Misty.

Soarin thought it over as he went back to his eggs. Fire was right. There was no point in focusing on what didn’t happen. It was a dangerous mishap, but nopony was severely injured.

Soarin heard the door open and close again. He glanced to see Lightning Streak approach the table his brother and Misty were sitting at with a tray full of thirteen… fourteen… fifteen pancakes? Soarin couldn’t count them all, he just had a lot. Was he the only one who entered?

“HEY! I thought you died!”

No, Fleetfoot was right behind him.

“Good morning to you too Fleet,” Soarin shook his head. “And that’s not funny.”

“Of course it is!” she slapped her tray down beside his and sat down. Soarin didn’t even fight her on her comment. Fleetfoot was a force of nature when it came to having a sense of humor.

“I’m assuming you have everything ready?” Soarin asked. He was out of the loop about a few things because of yesterday.

“Of course, princess. I made all the checks last night. What, you thought I was gonna wake up this early, THEN put everything together?” she cocked a grin at him.

“What would you do if I said yes?” Soarin chuckled while raising an eyebrow.

“I’d punch you in the ovaries,” Fleetfoot threatened. Soarin rolled his eyes, and then smirked.

“Then yes,” Soarin instantly dropped his hoof down and caught Fleetfoot’s arm as it went for his stomach. Fleetfoot snickered and pouted at him.

“I don’t know if I should be impressed you saw that coming, or hurt that you were ready thinking I was gonna punch you!” she said with fake whimpers.

“But you did try to punch me?” Soarin shrugged.

“BESIDE THE POINT!” Fleetfoot jabbed him in the arm with her other hoof. Her body swung a little bit in the motion.

“Meep!” A quiet squeak came from behind her. Soarin’s ears picked up the squeak and he blinked. He looked at Fleetfoot and noticed something he hadn’t seen before: straps, extending down from over her shoulder.

“Fleet… are you wearing a backpack?” He tried to look behind her, but she shifted so he couldn’t see.

“No,” she bit her bottom lip and averted her eyes. Soarin contemplated why she would be hiding a backpack, and then made the connection with the squeak.

“Fleet, you’ve gotta be kidding me…” he flattened his expression.

“What? WHOA!” Fleetfoot yelped as Soarin reached forward and forced her to turn. She was wearing a backpack. In the backpack, with his head sticking out of the top and the zippers zipped all the way up to his neck, was the little yellow stallion. He mouthed a quick ‘help’ to Soarin before Fleet quickly turned back.

“Spitfire is going to tear your head off Fleet,” Soarin said while looking at her sternly.

“It’s not my fault he’s cute!” she pouted at Soarin. “I wanted to bring him to breakfast with us!”

“Fleet, he’s not a TOY, he’s a professional! You need to respect him like one!” Soarin scolded her.

“Hey! I—”

She was cut off as the door swung open and slammed loudly against the doorstop on the wall beside it. Blaze trudged in, locking her eyes on Fleetfoot immediately with High Winds following close behind. Blaze stomped around the table and sat across from Fleetfoot while glaring at her and digging into her pancakes. High Winds made her way around as well. She tripped while yawning and fell face first into the floor. She took it to the face like a champ while keeping her tray in the air with her hooves.

“That’s gonna leave a mark…” she said casually as she stood up and sat beside Blaze.

“Something wrong Blaze?” Soarin asked as Blaze kept glaring at Fleetfoot. Blaze said nothing and just growled in Fleetfoot’s direction.

“I molested her in front of the cadets about ten minutes ago,” Fleetfoot chuckled.

“Oh,” Soarin rolled his eyes and shook his head.

“I fucking swear…” Blaze stood up from her spot and pointed at Fleetfoot. “You do that to me again and I’ll stick my arm so far up your ass, you’ll be shitting prints of my hoof until Hearth’s Warming!” Blaze threatened across the table.

“Oh really?” Fleetfoot leaned in while smirking. “You’re really gonna try me again so soon? It usually takes you awhile to get that false confidence back,” Fleet bounced her eyebrows at Blaze.

Soarin glanced at the backpack while Fleet was leaning forward. She was completely focused on Blaze.

“I have the damn right mind to fuck you up right now!” Blaze spat back.

“Empty threats Blazey!” Fleet taunted.

Soarin quickly reached over and unzipped the backpack. He stood up and lifted the little yellow stallion out of it.

“Get behind me,” Soarin whispered to him.

“YOU WANNA FUCKING GO?!” Blaze flared her wings out, catapulting the top pancake off of High Winds’ plate into Lightning Streak’s face at the other table.

“Sweet, sixteen pancakes,” Lightning said to himself.

“Blazey, I dare you. I guarantee you it won’t be me shitting hoof prints if you try,” Fleetfoot wiggled back and forth in her spot.

Soarin backed towards the door with the yellow stallion hidden behind him. He reached out and opened the door.

“You really should fight back you know…” he chuckled. The yellow stallion just shook his head quickly. “Alright, alright. Go,” he whispered and the yellow stallion made his escape. Soarin quickly moved back to the table and sat back down. Blaze readied to leap across the table, but High Winds stood up and grabbed her.

“C’mon…” she yawned. “…Blaze. You’ve been humped enough today already,” she pulled Blaze back down. Blaze grunted in frustration and began pounding down her food.

“Good choice,” Fleetfoot sat down and went back to her food. She glanced at Soarin and smirked.

“So…” she slowly began.

“I never like it when you start like that...” Soarin sighed.

“The walls between our rooms are pretty thin you know,” she winked. “I heard things… So did you and Dash shaboink it last night?” she asked with a wide mischievous grin.

“No,” Soarin replied flatly.

“Get some stankie on the hang down?” Fleetfoot pressed.


“Hide the sausage?”


“Take old one eye to the optometrist?”


“Do the horizontal bop?”


“Make the beast with two backs?”


“Not even a jiffy-stiffy?”

“NO!” Soarin yelled as Fleetfoot burst out laughing and fell out of her seat back first.

“Oh god!” Fleetfoot quickly rolled over and stood up from the floor. She took off the backpack and looked at it, mortified. But the backpack was empty. “What the..?”

“I let him go,” Soarin shrugged.

“HEYYYYYY!” Fleetfoot pouted at him.

The door opened beside her and Surprise bounced in carrying a tray with a large pony shaped waffle on it. No plate or drink or anything. Just the waffle. She bounced over to the table with the rest of her squad and sat down beside Lightning Streak.

Squad three had been eating silently for the duration of breakfast, mostly due to the ruckus at the other table. Neither Misty nor Fire however, had picked up on the way Lightning kept glancing between them. He leaned forward with a goofy grin on his face.

“So bro, how does Misty like takin’ it?” he said out loud, no hesitation. Fire spat out his eggs and looked at his brother with an incredulous expression.

“Brother!? How could you say—?”

“Is she built for speed or for comfort?” Lightning cut him off. Fire’s face turned red with anger.

“That is the most preposterous thing I have ever heard! Misty! Don’t… oh…” Fire glanced at Misty. She was happily eating her pancakes as if nothing had happened. Lightning burst out laughing and pounded a hoof against the table. Misty looked up as she felt the table vibrate. She saw Lightning laughing and Fire holding a hoof over his eyes. She blinked, shrugged, and went back to eating.

“She can’t even hear me bro! So what was it like?” Lightning continued. Fire glared at him.

“I kicked you out last night because you were waking the dead… again… with your snoring. NOT to take advantage of Misty!” Fire’s nostrils flared.

“Why ya gotta put such a negative twist on everything, man?” Lightning leaned back in his seat. “I bet she liked it too!”

“STOP SUGGESTING WE MADE LOVE!” Fire yelled out. He flinched and looked to his right to see everypony at the other table just staring at him. He gulped and smiled sheepishly. “Eh… nothing! Nothing at all! Carry on!” he sat back down and tried to hide behind Misty, who was still eating, oblivious to the situation.

“Wait… they diddled last night?” Surprise chimed in. She had mostly only been paying attention to her waffle, but she finally picked up on the conversation.

“NO!” Fire smacked his head against the table. Misty looked up from her food and saw Fire looking very distraught. Lightning jabbed Surprise lightly on the shoulder.

“Yeah girl! I woke up in the hallway! They totally bumped nasties!”

“WE. DID. NOT!” Fire growled across the table. Misty looked between Fire and Lightning with a look of pure confusion on her face. Lightning saw her looking at him and waved a hoof at her. She focused on him as he took his wings, made an O shape with the feathers on one and extended a single feather towards it with his other wing. Fire leapt over the table and grabbed Lightning by the neck before he could finish the motion and began shaking him.

“WHOA! WHOA BRO, WHOA! CHILL! CHILLLLL!” Lightning yelled as Fire nearly lost his mind. Surprise appeared beside them.

“FOOD FIGHT!!!!!!!!” she yelled as two pies appeared on the table near both of the Streak twins. She pressed her hooves to their heads and plunged them both face first into the pies.

Misty blinked, shrugged, and went about finishing her breakfast.

The door opened again. Soarin turned around to see Wave Chill enter rather quickly. He glanced around and spotted the seat beside Blaze. He sat down and began eating with his head low to the table as if he was trying to get Soarin to block the door.

“Wave? What’s—” Soarin was cut off as the door opened again. Spitfire walked in. She saw both tables were mostly full, but something weird was happening at the table with squad 3, so she went for the other. She greeted Soarin and Fleetfoot as she went for the seat beside Fleetfoot, but was halfway through sitting down when she froze.

Soarin looked up at her with confusion, and then followed her eyes. She was staring at Wave Chill. Wave was looking away, acting like the antics over at the other table had his full attention. Spitfire began standing up, but stopped, sighed, and just sat down. Fleetfoot looked between her and Wave with a confused expression.

Spitfire kept stealing quick glances, diagonally across the table. Wave was doing the same. Every couple of second they would catch each other looking and quickly both look away while blushing. Fleetfoot quickly picked up on this.

“Okay, what’s with you two?” she directed at both of them. Spitfire didn’t say anything, but Wave nearly flinched out of his uniform.

“What? I mean… uh… all is well, Commander!” he forced. Spitfire stopped trying to eat and just put her hooves over her eyes. Fleetfoot turned to Spitfire.

“Hey!” she poked Spitfire. Spitfire thrust her wing out to bat Fleet’s hoof away. “Whoa!” Fleetfoot pulled her hoof back and glanced between the two of them again. “Alright, show’s over guys. What’s going on?”

“Nothing!” Both Wave and Spitfire yelled at the same time. They glanced at each other and both looked away quickly… again.

“We…” Spitfire began, but instantly shut her mouth. Fleetfoot leaned towards Spitfire.

“What?” she asked while blinking. “What?” she asked again while glancing at Wave. “Whaaaaat?” she threw her hooves into the air. Neither Wave nor Spitfire looked at her. “WHAAAAAAAAAT?” she got louder. Spitfire started groaning. “WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?” Fleetfoot poked Spitfire. She turned and saw Wave face down on the table. “WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!” Fleetfoot yelled out.

SHUT! UP! Spitfire and Wave both retorted and glared at Fleetfoot. Fleetfoot stared blankly at both of them, completely silent for only a brief moment.

“Did you two have sex?” she asked simply.

“ARGH! SHUT UP, SHUT UP, SHUT UP!” Spitfire grabbed Fleetfoot’s head and forced it down against the table.

“OW! Hey! It was an honest question!” Fleetfoot flailed beneath Spitfire’s grip. Soarin blinked and looked at Wave, who was blushing while trying to get back to his breakfast.

“Uh…” Soarin looked to Spitfire, then back at Wave. “Did you?”

“GOD DAMN NO!” Wave threw his hooves up into the air and slammed them hard against the table. His plate flipped up and smashed scrambled eggs all over his face.

Silver Lining came through the door and stopped as he stood in the doorway. Spitfire was holding Fleetfoot’s head against a table, Blaze was angrily stuffing her face while grunting obscenities, High Winds was asleep, Wave Chill’s face was covered with eggs, Surprise was holding the Streak twins’ faces down in pies, and Soarin was still a princess. The only Wonderbolt acting normally was Misty Fly.

“This place gets stranger every damn day…” he mumbled while rolling his eyes. “Captain Spitfire, may I have a word with Commander Fleetfoot when you’re done… killing her?” he asked. All attention in the room turned to him. Spitfire looked towards Silver, sighed, and let Fleetfoot up.

“Sheesh Spitfire, simmer down that rage…” Fleetfoot mumbled as she shook out her mane. Spitfire sat back down in her seat roughly and continued eating while facing away from Wave.

“Commander Fleetfoot?” Silver addressed her while saluting. Fleetfoot turned in her seat and smiled when she saw Silver.

“What’s up? Good news?” she asked while standing and trotting towards him.

“Yes ma’am,” he nodded. “None of them noticed. They’re all in place whenever you’re ready.”

“Mwahaha! None of them will see it coming!” Fleetfoot rubbed her hooves together. The rest of the Wonderbolts looked about at each other in confusion. Surprise’s ears stood up as she let the Streak twins out of the pies.

“Oh! You’re using that one?! YAY!” she bounced up and down on her back hooves while clapping her front hooves together.

“Wait… what?” Soarin looked between the two of them. Fleetfoot sneered.

“Check it out!” she walked over to the door and pushed it open. Soarin blinked, stood up, and looked out into the mess hall. He looked every direction, then back at Fleetfoot.

“Wait… Where are the cadets?!”

--- To Be Continued ---

Chapter 20: The Mess Hall?

View Online

Piercing the Heavens
By: Calm Wind

Chapter 20:

Dash groaned, grunted, and grumbled as she groggily carried her tray towards the tables in the mess hall. She wasn’t the only one dragging her hooves. Everypony was feeling the lack of sleep. There was very little talking and much more mumbling mixed with yawns and curses.

Today’s theme was the unexpected? Dash suddenly had the urge to murder Fleetfoot… and it was barely past 5am.

Dash sighed and plopped down at a table. They were only serving pancakes and eggs. She didn’t mind. She was honestly expecting to find chicken and broccoli on her plate again. At least they made breakfast different. With her body relaxed and sitting down, she found that her eyelids felt heavy. She caught herself as she began to sway, but not before bumping against something soft.

“Not used to early rising?” Matteo’s voice came from beside her as she quickly sat back up straight. Dash blinked and looked to her right to see Matteo sitting beside her, casually eating his breakfast. Okay, this was the… third… fourth time now?

“Seriously big guy, how do you keep appearing out of nowhere?” Dash eyed him carefully.

“I was sitting here before you were,” he tipped his head while looking down at her.

“The past like, I dunno, seven times I’ve run into you, you’re just suddenly there. You’re like a giant ninja or something,” Dash shrugged as she began poking at her pancakes. Matteo chuckled and shook his head.

“Do I scare you?” he asked with a slight grin cracking on the edge of his beak. Dash scoffed.

“Please, I’ve kicked a dragon in the face,” she waved a hoof at him.

“And how did that end up going for you?” he quickly asked. Dash paused.

“Eh… not well, but I ain’t scared of you!” She huffed up at him as he went on eating.

“Good, I’d hate to scare off a friend of my wife,” he suddenly brought up Gilda again. Dash kept looking at him. They were at breakfast, why not ask him now? She already sat by him by accident, so that saved her the trouble of figuring out how to approach him.

“Say, big fella…”

“My name is Matteo,” he suddenly snorted and gave her a stern look. Dash didn’t falter.

“And you’re huge, so deal with it,” she said while remaining completely calm beneath his gaze. He rolled his eyes.


“You don’t mind me asking about… Gilda do you?” she made sure.

“Of course not… if you are a friend of hers I’d be happy to answer,” he nodded.

“Okay… I was wondering… I haven’t seen Gilda in a long time, but the way I remember her she was definitely not the type to settle down and get hitched. She was a bit of a wild rebel, you know?” Dash stopped briefly, not really thinking about that last part before she said it. She was hoping Matteo didn’t take offense to it. Thankfully, he scoffed while smiling.

“Oh, that is not far off from how she is,” he took a drink of water before continuing. “She is the very definition of a rebel. I don’t think I could count how many times she’s yelled at me or we’ve gotten in fights… And by fights I mean throwing punches,” he started chuckling. Dash lifted her brow, half confused, and half amused.

“Before or after getting married?” Dash questioned.

“Before, during, and most certainly in the future too,” Matteo confirmed while shaking his head.

“Then how the hell did you convince her to marry you?” Dash chuckled while shrugging. Matteo sighed and glanced at Dash.

“She’s strong, she’s a fighter, and she never backs down. What more could a warrior want in a mate?” his choice of words was interesting. Griffon culture was so much different from pony culture. “We had been at each other’s throats for years, did she not ever mention me to you?” he suddenly asked. Dash was caught off guard by the question. She and Gilda stuck together in flight school all the time. She had a good memory of all the stuff they used to do and talk about.

Dash blinked as she remembered one thing in particular. Dash once asked Gilda about life the Griffon Kingdom. The first thing Gilda mentioned was some jerk she was always getting into fights with when she was very young: “There was this one idiot I could never stand… Fatty Matty… I silently pray every night he gets his face stuck in a waffle iron.” Dash’s ears stood up as she recalled Gilda’s words.

“WAIT! You’re Fatty Matty?!” she stared at him wide eyed. Matteo flinched hard at the name, and then sighed heavily.

“Yes… she used to call me that…” he said with an audible amount of frustration in his voice.

“Dude, whenever you came up, she’d tear on you for HOURS! And…” Dash snickered. “Now she’s married to you? Seriously, how did that happen?” Matteo grunted and rested his arms on the table.

“When she finally came home after years of being away, it was as I was training to become a Sky Wing. She didn’t believe me when I told her who I was because as the nickname suggests, I was quite… overweight for a long time. One would think this would change her opinion of me, but Gilda is stubborn as I’m sure you know. Things went on as they always had, only this time I could fight back. One night we got into a rather… deadly brawl,” he paused and looked at Dash. “Do you know the significance of a griffon’s talons?” he suddenly asked.

“Uh…” Dash tried to remember if Gilda had said anything, but nothing came to mind. Matteo took her silence as a no and continued.

“It’s not widely known beyond the kingdom,” Matteo held his talons towards Dash and opened them fully to show her all the sharp points. They looked like they could puncture anything with a simple jab. “The Sky Wings, and griffons from all past ages, fight with spears. It is to honor the only ancient tradition of our kind to survive to this day. Throughout our history, for centuries we were considered to be the fiercest warriors in all of Equestria. Because they are a part of our bodies, our talons were considered to be a weapon bound to us and our own honor. If a griffon were to use their talons to draw the blood of another living creature, they were sworn to kill it, or else their talon would be forever stained by the blood of a creature that yet lives. This warrior tradition… includes other griffons,” he closed his talons into a fist.

“Um, that seems a bit… brutal,” Dash commented while leaning away from his talons. Matteo chuckled and shook his head.

“These days Griffons are strictly taught from a very young age never to use their talons against other griffons. However, while very few and far between, I have witnessed a few fights to the death… I even once lost a close friend to it.

“So if a griffon is attacked by another griffon with its talons… they have no choice but to defend themselves… and kill them or be killed?” Dash scrunched her face in disbelief.

“Correct, but as I said. I have seen it happen only twice in my lifetime.”

“Sheesh… I always kinda wondered what it would be like to be a griffon… but I guess I got my answer, no thanks!” Dash shook her head.

“You may have thought differently were you a griffon from birth. It is merely our ways,” Matteo nodded while poking back at his food.

“So how does this tie into Gilda?” Dash wondered out loud to him. Matteo looked back to her and smiled.

“Because I should have killed her,” he said without a single bit of hesitation in his voice. Dash flinched and leaned away from him. He snorted and let a few laughs go. “Are you sure you’re not afraid of me?” he gave her a smirk. Dash puffed her cheeks out and sat back up straight.

“Of course not! Continue,” she crossed her hooves and nodded.

“It was still a few months to go before the Sky Wings recruitment drive… mind you this was about a year and a half ago. I didn’t come straight here after I got rejected. Anyway, Gilda had been training to become a Sky Wing herself. Despite how much I had changed she still despised me and still lashed out every time we spoke. She desperately wanted to know what I had done to become so strong, but I felt I owed her nothing for the way she treated me over the years. I always went out into the Sky Skimmer mountain range to the west of the kingdom to do my training. She followed me and demanded I show her my training. This was the last straw. She had been on my back for months, doing nothing but insulting me, yet demanding I share my secrets. I told her to buzz off, and that I would never share my methods with a bitch like her.”

“Oooo… if I know one thing Gilda hates… it’s being called a bitch,” Dash chimed in.

“I soon learned that too,” Matteo added. “She went for the verbal deathblow for a griffon. She insulted my family name. In our traditions, challenging the credibility of one’s family is no different than starting a war. Now remember, she had softened me up with insults and demands for months… I completely snapped. With no other griffon around to witness, I charged at her with my talons drawn. On the first swipe I left a large cut on the side of her shoulder, and drew blood. I didn’t care, I was so fed up with her I didn’t care how I removed her from my life. What I didn’t expect was how fiercely she defended herself,” Matteo looked up towards nothing in particular with a smile on his face. “She didn’t even hesitate. She came right at me with her talons and plunged them into my chest. We had both drown blood, It was a battle to the death.”

Dash’s mouth hung open as she listened. She was friends with Gilda for so long and she had never heard of anything like this. Griffon culture was so different she could hardly believe it.

“We were locked in deadly combat for half an hour at least. It wasn’t long before we were both drenched in our own blood, trickling from multiple small cuts and gashes from each other’s talons. Being much more powerful than her, I eventually wore her down, grabbed her by the neck, and pinned her against a boulder. I drew back my arm with my talons opened and covered in her blood. I was ready to rip her face to shreds… but I… I couldn’t,” he paused.

Art by: Colorstrike

Dash glanced at him with confusion. His eyes changed as he recalled the moment.

“Through my days of training before Gilda’s return… I had fought and bested countless other griffons in combat. Every single time I overpowered them, they would cower in fear and beg for mercy beneath my strength. Not a single true warrior among them. Gilda however… Gilda was not only the most skilled griffon I had ever faced in combat, she also stared headlong into my feral glare, as if daring me to kill her. All I had to do was bring my talons down and she’d be dead. Yet she wasn’t even the slightest bit afraid of me,” Matteo turned to Dash. This was the first time she had seen a full blown smile on Matteo’s face.

“It was… magnificent,” he chuckled. “She was the only true warrior I had ever faced. We gave each other our fiercest glares for minutes that seemed like hours… but I could not kill her. I refused to. I will never forget the look in her eyes when I closed and lowered my talons. I had violated our most sacred and ancient tradition… to spare her. Why? I could not put a reason into words, and she could not put her feelings into them either. It was right then and there, when we first mated. Soon after that, we were wed,” he ended, on a note Dash was not expecting.

“Well… that escalated quickly… twice…” she winced uncomfortably. “Talk about an interesting first date… Griffons are crazy…” she shook her head. “Thanks for… opening up though,” she jabbed him on the shoulder. “I’m glad you trust me. Just… keep those talons away from me okay?”

“Heh, the tradition only stands if we initiate the attack ourselves. If you are idiotic enough to trip and fall on my talons I don’t have to kill you.”

“Good to know,” Dash rolled her eyes. She went back to eating her breakfast as she thought over everything she had just been told. What an interesting culture indeed. Wait…

Dash blinked and dropped her pancake back onto her plate. One word stood out from everything she had been told. Her eyes widened and the word “REALIZATION” could have easily flown out of both of her ears to match her expression. She turned back to Matteo.

“Hey… you said… you mated…?” she asked. Matteo looked back at her.

“Yes,” he answered simply.

“Speaking in… nature terms… that means…” Dash hesitated, not quite sure how to word it. So she pointed at her stomach. Matteo caught on.

“We have two children with a third on the way.”

“FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFWHAAAAAT!??!?!?!?!” Dash slammed her head down on the table, then leaned back while groaning because, well, it hurt. She ignored the pain and the red spot on her head while turning wide eyed to Matteo for the second time in twenty four hours. “GILDA’S… A… MOTHER?!” This just kept getting better and better.

“Again, is something wrong? Every time I tell you something about her, you hurt yourself,” Matteo gave her a confused look.

“Look, do you blame me?” Dash held her hooves out at her sides. “This is a childhood friend of mine that’s suddenly fives steps too far forward in life at the age of twenty. I’m not even thinking about that kind of stuff!” she exclaimed while trying to wrap her head around everything.

“It is customary for us to find mates around that age,” Matteo cut in. “In our culture I’m late to the mating process. I’m twenty-four. It’s just another difference in our cultures.

NICE STORY. Bet I could top it!”

Both Dash and Matteo flinched and looked across the table. Twister was sitting directly across from them. He had a tray at his place, but there was nothing on the tray. He was resting his elbows on it and slowly sliding the tray back and forth against the table while resting his chin in his hooves.

“How long have you been there?!” Dash’s mouth hung agape as she stared at him. Twister chuckled slowly and creepily.

“Only the whole time, it’s your fault for not paying attention,” as soon as he finished the sentence we was sitting beside Dash, in the exact same position and still sliding the tray back and forth.

Dash thought about retaliating, but took a moment to think. Twister did things in a similar manner to Pinkie Pie and Surprise. She had seen Fleetfoot handle him flawlessly. Dash wondered if she could copy Fleetfoot in such a manner. One thing she had noticed about Twister, was that he followed a pattern when he did his silly antics. He wasn’t quite on the level of Surprise or Pinkie Pie. He always went for those around him and used them for his effects. Meaning he’d go for Matteo right after she retaliated.

A while ago, Pinkie Pie had said something to her that she really didn’t quite understand: “If you wanna keep up, you gotta THINK like the PINK!”

Dash smirked. She stuck her wing out at Twister, and reached her opposite hoof behind her at the same time. Twister vanished from the spot, but—

“OOF!” He grunted as he ran smack into Dash’s hoof.

“Heh, Fleetfoot was right! You aren’t that—” Dash pulled him around, but found only Twister’s tray in her hooves. “Huh?”

“Fleetfoot was right…” Twister was sitting right back where he started across from them. “But you... aren’t Fleetfoot,” he bounced his eyebrows.

“Feh,” Dash scoffed and tossed his tray back at him. He made no effort to catch it. It smacked right against his face, fell back to the table, and he put his elbows on it. He was back in the same position he started in.

“Heeeeehehehe…” he chortled to himself as Dash rolled her eyes.

“Alright smartass, you said you could top Matteo’s story? Well let’s go! Where are you from?” Dash quickly asked.

“The sky is blue,” he fired back.

“How old are you?”


“What do you do for a living?”

“Exactly three cups of baking powder.”

“You know what?” Dash flattened her ears and brow. “I don’t know why I expected a clear answer from you on anything," she sighed and went back to eating. Twister glanced at Matteo, who was looking up and over Twister. Twister suddenly appeared on Matteo’s back.

“Hey birdie! Whacha lookin’ at? Whatcha lookin’ at?” he said while staring in the same direction atop Matteo’s shoulders. Matteo growled.

“You have to the count of five to get off me before I actually consider killing you,” he threatened. “One,” Twister didn’t move. Matteo’s eyes narrowed. “Four.”

“Alright, alright, made your point,” Twister was back down at his place. His tray suddenly filled with pancakes and eggs. Dash didn’t ask. Some ponies were just… different. Dash glanced back at Matteo and, like Twister, noticed he was looking towards the wall just below the ceiling.

“What are you looking at?” she asked while following his eyes. There was nothing special on the wall above the mess hall entrance. Nothing besides the wall clock at least.

“We’ve been in here for about half an hour…” Matteo began but trailed off. Dash blinked and looked back to him.

“Yeah, I’d say so. Why?” she asked while scrunching her brow in confusion.

“The wall clock still says 5:00am,” Matteo said while pointing a talon towards the clock. Both Dash and Twister turned and looked at the clock. As Matteo said, it hadn’t moved from exactly 5:00 o’clock. The second hand was even frozen to the twelve. Dash gave it a puzzled look, but shrugged.

“Maybe it just broke when we got here,” she suggested. Matteo shook his head.

“I saw Wonderbolt staff members fixing the clock yesterday during dinner.

“Hmm…” Dash took another look at the clock.

“Also, the chefs are all gone,” Matteo turned and pointed at the serving area. Dash glanced back and saw that everypony had their food, the chefs were long gone, and the buffets were all cleaned out too. That was rather puzzling.

“Uh… I dunno, maybe they got pissed about being up so early and refuse to give out seconds?” she made up as she spoke. Matteo shook his head.

“No, something is definitely wrong here,” Matteo’s eyes darted about. Twister snickered.

“What, little bird is afraid of a broken clock and angry chefs? Careful you might—” he halted mid-sentence and turned his head sharply to beside Dash’s left. Dash blinked.

“What are you—” she turned and froze as well.

A penguin waddled casually past them. The three all followed it with their eyes as it went past their table and turned down the aisle. When it was gone they all looked back at each other. Even Twister looked stumped.

“Was...” Dash slowly began. “Was that a… penguin?”

Suddenly loud crashes rang out from near the entrance. Dash, Matteo, Twister and everypony else sitting in mess hall all looked towards the doors. They had been covered by steel shutters.

“What the—” Dash flinched as she heard sharp clicking and snapping sounds.

“The walls!” Matteo exclaimed. Dash turned to see the three other walls of the mess hall slowly buckle and begin to fall back. Panic began to run through the cadets as the walls fell down around them. When they hit the ground, the area was filled with a very thick fog. Dash quickly lost sight of the cadets sitting on the far end of the hall. The visibility had been cut to no more than twenty feet.

WHAT IS HAPPENING?!” Dash freaked out. Suddenly, her seat fired upward below her like a spring. She was catapulted into the air. Twister was flung upward as well along with every other pony. Matteo proved to be too heavy, instead receiving a very uncomfortable spank to the rear while releasing a startled BRAWCK!

Dash grunted and quickly extended her wings to control her flailing trajectory. She evened out and hovered while examining the situation around her. A few other ponies managed to gain control, but a good number of them fell back to the floor while flailing and trying to find their wings. Dash was still within view of the ground below her and the blocked exit, but every other direction was completely shrouded by the thick fog.

“Seriously, what is—WHOA!” Dash ducked to the side as a pie came flying right at her face. It careened past her and went SPLAT against the wall above the doors. “Was that a pie?! OH SHIT!” Dash began ducking and weaving as more pies came flying towards her. A few ponies in the air took them right to the face so hard that they were knocked back and fell to the ground. Dash glanced down as she moved and saw ponies on the ground were also being assaulted with pies. Yelling and screaming ensued as ponies ducked for cover under tables and a few charged for the blocked doors. They banged their hooves against the shutters as they got hit with pies.

Spring loaded benches…

False mess hall…

Dense fog…

Pies out of freaking nowhere…

A certain light blue, white maned pegasus mare came to mind…

“I am in charge of today’s trials and today’s tests will focus on one thing! How you handle the unexpected!”

FLEETFOOT,” Dash growled as she put it together. The unexpected? This was the definition of the unexpected. This was supposed to be a test, but what the hell was it testing? Reflexes?

Dash continued dodging the pies as they came searing towards her. There was no other thing she could think of. The dense fog made it so they’d have to react on short notice. She wondered for how long it would go on for. Nearby she spotted Twister dancing about as pies seemed to come a little more readily towards him. None were making their mark however as he continued to twist and turn briskly as they whisked by.

Dash took in the rest of the area as she moved about. There were two other pegasi still in the air. She didn’t recognize either of them and it was hard to make out their colors in the fog. What she could see though, was that one of them was small and moving sharply to avoid the pies, much different from Twister’s curving and twisting style of movement. The other was bigger than Dash, and it looked like he was batting the incoming pies away with swift hoof movements that looked to be martial arts.

“AHHHH!!!” A familiar nearby scream caught her attention. Dash’s ears sprang up and she glanced in the direction of the scream. Derpy was in the air, having managed to even out, but was doing little to try and dodge the pies. She was flying erratically, and only that was saving her from being hit.

“Derpy!” Dash called out, but somepony bumped into her roughly. She turned and met the eyes of Arctic Blast. Dash glared for a moment, but Arctic only turned her head as a pie came flying at them.

“EEK!!!” she screeched and quickly grabbed Dash.

“Hey!” Dash grunted as Arctic moved Dash in front of her. Dash blinked and saw the pie mere feet from her face. Her reflexes were quick, and she ducked as soon as the pie was in her view. The pie went right over her head and slammed HARD into Arctic’s face, blowing her right out of the air.

MYYYYYY MAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNEEEEE!!!!!” she cried out dramatically while furiously rubbing her hooves through her mane, completely disregarding the fact that she was falling.

“Pff… serves you right bi—DERPY!” Dash quickly forgot about Arctic and glanced around while evading two more pies. She spotted Derpy a little ways away and made ready to chase, but a pie glanced off her nose. “AH! Damn!” Dash winced and shook her face out as tiny bits of pie sprinkled over her face.

“I’ve got you Derpy!” a voice came from below. Dash looked down to see Storm Front rocket up from the ground towards Derpy. He took three body shots from the pies as he flew up and put himself in front of Derpy just in time before she took a pie directly to the face. He quickly grabbed hold of her and tried to evade more incoming pies.

“Phew!” Dash felt relieved for Derpy, but she was still stuck dodging seemingly endless pies. What was the point of this? Was Fleetfoot just trying to annoy the hell out of them?

A loud BANG from below caught Dash’s attention. She glanced down to see that Matteo had pulled together two of the dining tables. He looked like he had taken a few hits. Dash began making her way down towards him. As she glided and dodged, he kicked the tables up and onto their sides to make a makeshift barrier. Dash dove down, angled, and did a sharp U-turn before slamming her hooves to the floor and sliding to a stop behind the barrier beside Matteo.

“Well this odd,” Matteo said casually as he ducked behind the tables with Dash beside him.

“Gee, what tipped you off?!” she asked sarcastically as pies splattered against the upturned tables.

“The penguin,” Matteo answered seriously as he peered over the edge. The whole mess hall was still in mass hysteria. The ponies who were banging their hooves on the steel shutters had given up and it had mostly become everypony for themselves. “It’s amazing how easily some panic…”

“OOF!” Thunderlane suddenly dove over to them from beneath a table. His face was covered in pie bits.

“This is not what I signed up for!” he shook his head while frantically brushing pie off his face and mane. Dash shrugged.

“They said the unexpected… weren’t you listening or were your stiff wings in control of your brain earlier?” Dash rolled her eyes as Thunderlane huffed at her.

“Well excuse me for—” he stopped and looked up. “Whoa! Incoming!” he pointed. Dash followed his hoof and gasped. Storm Front was tumbling down towards them with his arms and legs tucked into his body. He took a sharp angle down and slammed back first against the ground with a painful grunt. He bounced a few times across the floor before skidding to a stop near the barrier. Thunderlane tried to reach out, but Matteo’s wing extended and pushed him back against the barrier. Using his long arms and body, Matteo quickly reached out and pulled Storm Front into the protection of the tables.

“Storm! You okay?” Dash quickly scooted over to him. He pushed her away and shook his head.

“I’m fine, worry about her!” he unfolded his arms to reveal Derpy. Dash eyes widened as she examined her. She was shivering and looked absolutely terrified.

“I don’t know what’s going on!” she cried out as Dash quickly pulled her into a hug.

“Derpy! Stay calm!” she quickly spoke to her as more pies battered against the table. Thunderlane shifted around so Derpy could see him.

“It’s only pies, Derpy! Nothing to be afraid of!” He patted her on the back.

“It’s one of our tests, Derpy! Fleetfoot’s a practical joker!” Dash said as she let go of Derpy and set her down against the barrier to keep her completely out of the line of fire. Derpy seemed to calm down in the presence of her friends.

“O-okay,” she nodded, but still looked scared and shivered.

“Just sit right here, you’ll be completely safe,” Dash patted her on the head as Storm Front shook himself off and put his back to the barrier beside Matteo.

“You look like you still have your head on your shoulders… any ideas?” he asked. Matteo flinched as a pie went right over his head and skimmed against his head feathers.

“They seem to all be coming from the same direction,” he explained. Dash blinked and realized the pies were only hitting the barrier. None were flying in from the left or right. Matteo must’ve have realized earlier, hence the tables facing one direction.

“You sure?” Storm glanced up at the pies flying overhead. Matteo took a chance and popped his head up over the top of the tables. A pie caught him square in the face so hard that his beak went through the pie tin and stuck out the other side of it. He didn’t even as much as flinch though. He sighed and sat back down with the pie tin stuck to his face.

“Yes, they are definitely only coming from that way,” his beak moved with the pie tin over it. Dash snickered and helped Storm pry it off his face.

“Well then, what are we waiting for?” Storm shifted and pressed his hooves to the ground.

“Wait!” Dash reached up and yanked him down right as he put his head above the barrier. A pie flew right over him. Had Dash not pulled him down, he’d have received a similar blueberry facial.

“Whoa… that was close,” Storm winced as he realized Dash saved him from a painful hit. Dash shook her head.

“I think the pies are reacting to our movement!” Dash blurted out to both of them. Storm and Matteo both looked at her blankly.

“You know… if it were under any different circumstances I’d think that was the silliest thing I’ve ever heard,” Storm chuckled. Dash shrugged.

“Think about it!” she pointed at Matteo. “He got hit the instant he popped his head up,” she pointed to the tables. “Every time we shift, more pies hit the table,” then she pointed at Storm. “I took a gamble and pulled you back down as you looked over… if I hadn’t, you’d be licking pie off your chops right now!”

“Interesting observation,” Matteo rubbed the tip of his beak. He looked at the table he was sitting against, balled up his left talon, and gave the table a solid, but soft punch. Three pies smacked against the other side of the table in the exact spot. “I think she’s right.”

“Okay, so what do we do?” Storm asked while testing it himself. Just like with Matteo, pies flew right to the spot he knocked his hoof against.

“We know what direction the pies are coming from… but they are coming in insanely fast and are responding to our movement…” Matteo thought out loud. Dash perked up.

“A distraction! We need somepony to distract the pies!” she exclaimed. Storm Front snickered.

“This is by far the weirdest conversation I’ve ever had,” he shook his head. “So somepony who can dodge pies at that speed has to fly in front… can either of you dodge like that? I sure can’t,” he looked to Matteo.

“You’re kidding me, right?” Matteo shook his head while motioning to his large body. Storm looked to Dash. Dash shook her head.

“Don’t look at me… I’m fast, but those things are already coming in at the speed of sound. I could barely dodge them flying in place, forget while flying AT them…” they were stuck in their dilemma. Thunderlane was sitting off to the side, listening while staying with Derpy. He looked up and blinked.

“Guys…” he spoke up. All three looked to him. “What about… him?” Thunderlane pointed up. Dash, storm and Matteo all looked directly above them.

Twister was the only pony still in the air. He was casually twisting and winding as the pies flew at him furiously. Not a single one of them was hitting their mark.

“HAHAHA! You can’t hit me! You can’t hit me! HEHEHEEEEE!!!!” he taunted into the fog as the pies continuously failed to hit him.

“Talk about an unlikely hero…” Storm sighed while watching the crazy pony above.

“TWISTER!” Dash called up to him. The instant she called his name the barrier suddenly began buckling as a barrage of pies thundered against it. Matteo and Storm quickly put their bodies against the undersides of the tables to keep them from tipping back up.

“You RANG?” Twister appeared in front of them. His body was facing away from them, but his head was turned all the way around at them. Thunderlane reclined in horror, but Dash wasn’t taking his crap right now. She reached forward and smacked his head. It did a full 360 before making another half turn and locking back into place. He leaned back and put his head in Dash’s lap. She grunted in annoyance, grabbed his head and forced him out of her lap. He rolled once and ended in a relaxed, reclined position, while bouncing his eyebrows at all of them. Dash eyed him cautiously, and then smirked. She knew how to get him to cooperate.

“So you think your pretty good at dodging, eh Twister?” she spoke with a jeering tone. Storm and Matteo glanced at each other as they braced themselves against the barrier. The pies seemed to continuously splatter against the barrier as if a good number of them were locked on Twister.

“Oh, I’d say I’m the best…” he shot forward and pressed his face against Dash’s. “WHY DO YOU ASK, HM?!” he stuck his tongue out between his teeth. Dash didn’t even flinch, she just maintained the smirk.

“I bet you can’t fly head on towards where the pies are coming from… without taking… at least twelve pies to the face,” she pressed her face back into his.

“HAH!” he fell backwards onto his back. One pie flew over the top of the barrier. He reached up and caught it, taking a bite out of it as he eyed Dash. “Nice try…” he said with his mouth full of pie. “But you want me to fly decoy while you all slip by… riiiiiiiight?” he sneered. Dash flinched and glanced at Matteo and Storm. They both just rolled their eyes and shook their heads. Twister appeared between the two of them while laughing maniacally. “That’s the craziest idea I’ve ever heard! LET’S DO IT!” he sneered even harder and bumped his hooves together.

Before any of them could react, Twister fired directly upward into the line of fire. The pies seized their assault on the tables, following the crazy pony into the air.

“I suppose this works!” Matteo chuckled as he stood up and vaulted the barrier. Dash leapt up and followed close behind. Storm hesitated and glanced at Derpy.

“Stay here, you’ll be safe,” he patted her on the head. She only nodded while still shivering slightly. He pulled himself over the tables and gave chase. Thunderlane blinked, looked up to see pies still flying at other ponies, and then back down at Derpy.

“Rgh!” he chook his head and stood up. He refused to sit by while the others looked badass. If this really was part of the tryouts he wasn’t going to sit back while they had all the action. He gave Derpy a quick nod and pat on the shoulder before taking off and following the others.

“HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!” Twister cackled as he flew high above the floor and headlong into the endless barrage of pies. There was definitely a much larger number of pies being launched at Twister. Either it was because he was the closest, or he was being personally targeted by whatever was launching the pies. Despite flying at a high speed and flying against the pie trajectory, Twister still managed to twist, turn, and spin his way past every pie that came his way.

Slightly behind him and down below, Dash, Storm, and Matteo pumped their wings to keep up. They flew low to the floor, dodging any pies that happened to come their way. With Twister effectively distracting a majority of the swarming pies, the three were able to speed along with little resistance.

“Keep moving, but stay behind him!” Dash yelled to the other two as she took a small lead. She pitched left and right as a few stray pies whisked by. What a strange scenario indeed. Pies being launched through fog, using a presumably mentally unstable pony as bait, flying side by side with a griffon that was married to one of her oldest friends, and another pegasus who she probably lived next to her whole childhood. Stranger things had happened, but it was definitely interesting.

“Whoa! Look out!” Storm called to them. Dash and Matteo glanced up to see the amount of pies flying at them was increasing. Matteo slammed to the ground and pushed off hard to the left as a stream of constant pies followed him. Dash did Twister’s Spiral Turn, followed by Matteo’s Air Burst to propel herself out of the way as pies came for her as well. Storm dove down and pressed his hooves to the ground. He slid along the floor on his hind hooves while using his wings and arms to bat away six pies that flew towards him. He ducked, tucked and rolled, and fired back up as Dash angled around and rejoined him.

“Uh oh… he’s being overwhelmed!” Dash pointed to Twister. The pies seemed to be coming in even faster now. Twister was not laughing anymore, he was wheeling, turning, and twisting as he had been, but now he was only barely dodging each pie. It was pretty damn impressive, but he had been slowed almost to a complete stop.

“Yikes!” Storm quickly grabbed Dash’s arm and pulled her aside as pies came raining down upon them. They evened out and pumped their wings in unison to propel themselves along as the pies thundered to the ground in their wake.

“Gah! Twister yelled out from above.

“Oh man…” Dash cringed as she looked up and saw Twister finally falter. He proceeded to get absolutely peppered with pies. He was only stationary for a moment before the force of the pies knocked him back and effectively put him behind the others. Dash gulped, knowing full well it meant that she, Storm, and most likely Matteo were the closest target. They were bound to get sprayed with pie fire shortly.

“Dash! Storm!” Matteo suddenly appeared from the fog directly in front of them.

“Huh? WHOA!” Dash yelped as she and Storm were lurched backward. Matteo had hooked them both by the torsos with arms as he passed and pulled them back the other direction with him.

“Matteo, what are you—” Storm tried to question him.

“No time! Ready yourselves!” he slammed his hind paws to the floor and skidded to a stop. He locked his eyes in the direction the pies were flying from, but grunted. “Damn!” he yelled as the concentrated stream of pies was seconds away from hitting them.

“I got it!” Thunderlane’s voice suddenly called out from behind Matteo. Dash watched while stuck in Matteo’s grip as Thunderlane leapt up and kicked off Matteo’s shoulder. He put himself into the path of the rapid firing pies and crossed his hooves over his face. The pies began pounding and splattering against him as he grunted in discomfort.

“Fantastic!” Matteo smirked as Thunderlane sacrificed his body to shield them. “Now FLY!” Matteo yelled out. He took a step to the left while holding up Dash and Storm in his talons. He griped them gently before turning three times, the first was slow, the second faster, the third even faster, then pumped his wing hard, using his Air Burst to create a blast of wind behind him. He used the extra momentum as a boost while flinging the two of them towards the target, first Dash, then Storm. As soon as Matteo launched them, he was absolutely assaulted by the pies and forced to the ground.

“WHHHOOOOAAAAAAA MAAAMAAA!!!!” Dash yelled as she and Storm shot through the fog at an incredible speed. It was hard to tell how fast she was going, but Dash was sure she was going faster than she could with the Sonic Blast-off. The stream of pies turned towards them, but they were moving so fast it just couldn’t follow their flight path.

Then suddenly, Dash and Storm fired out of the fog and into the clear. All Dash saw upon emerging was some sort of giant contraption. She was going too fast to make out what it was exactly, but she had only one objective in mind: break it. She pulled back a hoof, ready to blow a hole right through the machine.

“Whoops! I don’t think so!”

Fleetfoot’s voice.

Dash yelped as she was suddenly forced to a full stop. After lurching forward and getting some nasty whiplash. She pushed off of whatever stopped her and blinked.

Fleetfoot was directly in front of her, wearing red flight goggles and smirking.

“I don’t think Rivet would be too happy if you broke it… he spent months on this one,” Fleetfoot winked. Dash glanced back at Storm Front to see Soarin, also wearing red goggles, had stopped him as well. She finally got a good look at her surroundings.

“What…? How did we get in the battle dome?!” Dash exclaimed as Fleetfoot snickered. They were indeed in the battle dome, which was one facility over from the mess hall. There was a large collection of fog packed into the first half of the dome, being created by the same machine that was launching the pies into said fog. The machine itself was a large, cubical contraption that had multiple cannons, slingshots, and catapults all over it, firing, slinging, and launching pies. One large barrel in the center of the machine was firing pies at an incredible rate. That explained the one constant stream of pies. The machine had a sign on the front that read: “Surprise’s Pie n’ Fog Two-for-One.”

All of the Wonderbolts were gathered around and all of them wore strange red goggles.

“Surprise! That’s it, turn it off!” Fleetfoot yelled down by the base of the machine. Surprise peeked out from behind the machine, balancing a stack of at least twelve blueberry pies on her head.

“WHAT?! Already? Awww, how did they figure it out so fast?” she whined as the pies tipped off of her head and scattered out on the floor.

“We’ve got some talent this year it seems,” Fleetfoot nodded and smiled as she pushed her goggles up.

“Fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine,” Surprise pouted before pulling a large lever on the side. The machine stopped completely, no longer launching pies or spewing the thick fog. The fog slowly faded, revealing all the confused ponies back by the entrance. Matteo and Thunderlane sat up from the ground close by completely covered in crusty and goopy bits of blueberry pie. There was a large collection of pie debris built up on the wall above the doors. Eventually a shape that looked like a pony peeled off of it and fell to the ground. It got up and shook itself off, revealing Twister’s crazy mane and sneer.

“Surprise were you… aiming the main cannon at him?” Fleetfoot joked as Surprise flew up beside her. Surprise looked towards Twister as he tried to shake pie off every inch of his body.

“Uhhhhhhhhhhhh…” Surprise rolled her eyes up, then back down. “No?” she smiled super wide.

The rest of the ponies emerged from beneath the tables and from pie piles littered about the fake mess hall as the Wonderbolts approached them. Spitfire beckoned Dash and Storm to follow them. Dash and Storm gave each other a quick, very confused glance. Storm shrugged and chuckled before following as Dash followed while contemplating all of it.

Just how the hell did they get them into the battle dome without noticing? Dash knew the Wonderbolt compound layout quite well. She was more than certain they took the first left after the stairs. The entrance to the battle dome was an extra forty or so yard walk down the hall. She was groggy from lack of sleep, but she wasn’t that unaware of her surroundings.

“Well now!” Fleetfoot called out from above as the confused ponies all began gathering around. “How was that for a surprise test? Never thought you’d be eating breakfast then BAM dodging pies in the fog! Eh? Ehhhhhh?” Fleetfoot glanced around while holding her hooves out bouncing her eyebrows. She didn’t get a single response. In fact all of the cadets looked rather pissed off. Fleetfoot clapped her hooves together. “Just the reaction I was going for! But really, this was a test. Wonderbolt life isn’t always scheduled, sometimes things come up and you have to be able to adapt or react quickly. Luckily for all of you we had a group of five ponies… er… four ponies and a griffon in here who just set the fastest time in ending the test ever,” she referred to Dash, Storm, Matteo, Twister, and Thunderlane.

“How… did she know it was us?” Storm thought out loud. Fleetfoot caught ear of him and tapped her goggles.

“We were able to track eveypony's movements using these handy dandy infrared goggles! How could we tell who’s who? Every cadet uniform gives off a slightly different subtle heat signature we can identify. NEAT, HUH?!” She pulled back and snapped the goggles against her face and held her breath, trying not to curse against how much it stung. Spitfire shook her head and hovered in front of Fleetfoot.

“What Fleetfoot is taking forever to mention… is that this particular test… while it was goofy and operated by a very silly pony…” as she spoke Surprise floated up behind her while waving her arms wildly. “It was also meant to also show your willingness to work together.”

“I thought so,” Matteo chuckled beside Dash. Dash blinked and looked up at him, then back to Spitfire. Dash hadn’t even thought of that. Since it was also a bit of a “disaster” scenario, she reflexively worked with the others to solve it. Had she just impressed the Wonderbolts without thinking about it?

“Don’t get me wrong. We are looking for the best, and you are expected to compete for that role, but there are times when one must put aside their differences in order to survive or reach a common goal,” Spitfire finished.

“Hold on a second!” Storm Front raised a hoof. Spitfire lifted an eyebrow at him.

“What is it, cadet?”

“How did you get us into the battle dome? I was a bit groggy, but awake enough to know we took the first left after the stairs,” he asked the question that was on Dash’s mind. Soarin chuckled and hovered down by Spitfire.

“Should we tell them?” he smirked. Spitfire glanced at him and shrugged.

“Why not, they just wowed the hell out of me,” she nodded at Storm, and then turned looked towards the entrance. “WONDERBOLT MAGIC AND EFFECT RESEARCH UNIT SIX, ENTER!” she yelled towards the steel shutters. Dash blinked. Magic and effect research. Where had she heard this before? Spitfire had once mentioned something like before…

Dash’s eyes widened and she turned to look at the entrance with everypony else. The metal shutters lifted and through the doors walked four unicorns, all wearing Wonderbolt officer uniforms. A collective buzz ran through the crowd as UNICORNS wearing WONDERBOLT attire just revealed themselves. Spitfire glided over and hovered above them.

“Everypony say hello to some of the lesser known, but much more important members of the Wonderbolts. You think we discovered how most of our effects work? Absolutely not. We only train and perfect them. If not for these hard working mares and stallions, I doubt we’d do much else besides fly around aimlessly,” she smiled right as Fleetfoot popped up right in front of her.

“Quit stealing my show!” she joked while completely blocking Spitfire. “Yep! We had to dupe ya! Our unicorn friends here used their magic to distort your perception of the hallway and lead you into the fake mess hall! Didn’t notice any unicorns mixed in with the crowd? Well, that’s what happens when you’re groggy from lack of sleep!”

Dash sighed heavily, but not without a small smile curling on her lips. What a trickster… but seriously, unicorn Wonderbolts. Dash remembered when Spitfire mentioned them back during her first encounter with them all. She had almost completely forgotten about it because of what had happened right after: the restoration of Soarin.

“Alrighty!” Fleetfoot rubbed her hooves together. “Since we kinda interrupted breakfast, we have a brunch planned in an hour. Everypony go shower up, I’m sure pie isn’t fun to wear,” she stopped and looked at all of them, but nopony moved. “Well… go on…” she tried to beckon them out the door. Again, none of them moved. Fleetfoot blinked, then realized why. “Ohhhh… you’re all smart! There are no more tricks planned until after brunch!” she patted a hoof to her chest. Still nopony moved. “Hey, come on! I’m serious!” she pouted at them. Soarin shook his head and floated up beside her.

“We have yet to even set up the second test, go ahead and get cleaned up and get some food. We’ll inform you what’s next after brunch,” he spoke for her. At his word, all the cadets began moving out. Soarin snickered and smirked at Fleetfoot as she puffed out her cheeks and glared at him. “What?”

“Don’t what me!” she poked his nose. “They seriously don’t trust me at all now? I’m hurt!”

“And you wonder why nopony around here takes you seriously…” Soarin chuckled while shrugging.

Down below Dash walked up between Storm Front and Matteo. They both looked at her as she looked between the two of them. Storm was the first to start snickering. Dash soon caught on and began giggling. Matteo cracked a smile as he saw the two losing their composure. He started chuckling himself as Dash and Storm Front laughed away. What a twist. They were competing to be recruited by the Wonderbolts, but they all seamlessly and spontaneously cooperated under pressure. To top it off, it was something the Wonderbolts were looking for. Thunderlane and even Twister cooperated with them as well. Despite feeling duped and still a bit flustered, Dash could tell it wasn’t only going to be an interesting day going forward, but also an interesting experience as she made new friends and learned so much in the process.

--- To Be Continued ---

Chapter 21: Fangirls and Jealousy

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Piercing the Heavens
By: Calm Wind

Chapter 21:

Dash’s body tingled as the warm water splashed against her head and began slowly running down her face and neck. She didn’t have the luxury of a long shower, but after feeling sleepy and getting thrown into a foggy pie battle field, it felt good to have the soft pitter patter of heated water against her body. She felt the morning stiffness ease and her startle nerves calm as she began looking for and removing all the little bits and pieces of pie from her.

They were given two whole hours before the next test. It seemed like plenty of time to shower up, grab an extra bite to eat and still have enough time for the food to settle before strenuous activity. The only problem being there were a hundred cadets and the barrack showers only held only eight at a time. There were only forty-three mares compared to the fifty-seven stallions, but it seemed a lot of the mares were more worried about making their manes and tails spotless and re-grooming them. All Dash needed was a good rinse and shake out. Rarity would fume if she saw it, but Dash just wasn’t the pretty-pretty type. She was there to make the Wonderbolts, not to wiggle her plot around like a certain bitchy headcase that slept in the bed above hers.

The shower rooms were obviously separate for stallions and mares, but they weren’t build for mass groups of ponies. They were merely small rooms, about eight by ten feet, with four show taps along the ten foot walls. There was plenty of room to Dash’s left and right to extend her wings and rinse out any bits of pie or blueberry goop.

“Damn…” a voice suddenly said next to her with an impressed tone. Dash whipped her head around to get her wet mane out of her eyes and turned her head towards the shower beside hers. A pink pegasus mare with a straight white mane was looking her up and down.

“Uh…” Dash furrowed her brow, wondering what the mare was looking at.

“Oh! Sorry,” the mare grinned sheepishly. “I didn’t mean to stare, you just have… quite an impressive body,” the mare complimented genuinely. Dash blinked and looked down at herself.

“Oh, the muscles?” Dash grinned. She wasn’t getting and strange or negative vibes from the mare, she just seemed curious.

“Yeah! I’ve seen you pull off those cool moves and stuff. Plus, your by far the buffest pegasus mare I’ve ever seen, at least,” the mare smiled as she put her head under her shower stream and rotated her head around in it. “You looked pretty awesome from far back, you look even more awesome up close!” the mare complimented again.

“Heh, thanks…” Dash grinned while shrugging. After Arctic was so negative towards her body during the strength test, it was good to run into a mare that found it interesting.

“So how exactly did you get so ripped? I trained so hard but…” the mare looked down at her body. “I’m just nice and trim because of it,” she pouted. Dash chuckled and shook her head.

“You gotta lift weights,” she said simply as she turned to get her tail wet. The mare looked surprised.

“But…” she tipped her head in confusion. “Won’t you just bulk up and slow down?”

“Heh…” Dash shook her head and smiled. “That’s not quite how it works. I did a lot of weight training, at least five times a week. Do I look over-pumped?” Dash winked. Indeed Dash had gained muscle on her body, but she hadn’t lost any speed and retained her aerodynamic form. The mare listened intently as Dash explained. “Mare bodies don’t work the same way as stallion bodies. I’d have to work probably five times as hard as a stallion if I actually wanted to ‘bulk up.’ I learned a lot about training, the importance of strength, diet, and many other things from So—” Dash froze.


That was a close one.

She almost spilled the beans right there. She quickly faked a wince as if water had gotten in her eyes and shook her head out.

“From a friend of mine back home,” she quickly dodged, hoping the mare didn’t suspect anything.

“Wow. That’s interesting…” the mare thought out loud as she shook her wings out beneath the running water, dropping pie bits everywhere. It was going to be fun for the maintenance staff if all the pie going down the drain caused any pipe blockage. “Well you definitely look great,” the mare gave her a warm smile.

“Hey! Hurry up in there!” a voice called from outside. Dash and the mare both jumped slightly and looked towards the entrance. There was still a line reaching out into the hall to use the showers.

“Oh shoot, I’ve been in here way to long!” the mare quickly turned off her shower and shook out. “It was nice talking to you!” the mare gave a very quick wave and trotted out of the shower room.

“Whoa, wait a sec!” Dash tried to call after the mare, but she was already shuffling past the long line waiting outside. “Huh…” Dash shrugged. She didn’t even get the mare’s name. One thing was for certain though: the small encounter gave Dash an idea of how the remaining competition was. If a pony made it this far into the tryouts they weren’t just a common pony trying out for the hell of it. There was something about them that caught the attention of the Wonderbolts. These were the ponies who trained and who tried as hard as they could. A few others made it by, most likely through chance and luck, but a majority of them were serious.

The mare Dash encountered just now was undoubtedly one of these many who cared about being their best and doing their best. She was interested in how Dash had achieved a strong and efficient body. That was the kind of mare Dash could relate to and get along with. It sucked that she was stuck with Arctic Sass as a bunkmate, but cadets like her would definitely be long gone by tomorrow. Dash felt relieved and excited; relived that only the true flyers would be left by day three and excited that the competition would be fierce. She was going to make it to tomorrow, of course. She was ranked at the top of day one and just put on a show in the first test of day two. There was no way she wouldn’t make it.

Dash turned off her shower and shook herself vigorously until most of the loose water was gone from her fur, mane, tail, and wings. She did her best to avoid being sprayed by the other showers as she walked toward the exit and grabbed her towel.

She rubbed the towel vigorously over her face and head as she shimmied past the line that extended through the bathroom and out into the bunk hallway. She had to dry off a little more before stepping out. Her body and mane were dripping water all over. She made her way over to the sinks and mirrors, flinching as she saw Arctic Blast in front of one along with two other mares. If that wasn’t bad enough, there were only four sinks and the only one open was the one between Arctic and the last bathroom stall.

Dash sighed and tried to act like she didn’t notice Arctic as she trotted up to the mirror. She didn’t really have to try though. Arctic had her face nearly pressed to the mirror and was busily running a brush through her mane endlessly.

Dash’s brain suddenly clicked and she found she had the urge to annoy Arctic. She draped her towel over the faucet, grabbed the porcelain edges of the sink and roughly shook herself from head to tail. Water sprayed everywhere, but the majority of it splashed against Arctic. When Dash stopped her mane was almost exactly how she always wore it. She flattened out the loose ends with her hooves, cracked a smile at her reflection while striking a quick flex, and nodded. She turned and began walking out, making sure to glance at Arctic as she did.

Arctic was glaring at Dash with her mouth hanging open. Her brush had stopped mid-sweep through her mane and she was covered in droplets of water from Dash’s body. Dash snickered as she draped the towel over her back and left the bathroom.

Dash made sure she was relatively dry before making it back to her bunk. She shook her wings out and ran the towel over them gently before folding it and hanging it up above her night stand.

“Hmm…” Dash sighed in frustration as she glanced at her wings. Usually she would keep her wings unfolded for a while and let them drip dry. She didn’t have the luxury of space to do so, or time to let them dry, so she had to use the towel. Normally she avoided using a towel though, because her wing feathers never seemed to agree with them. They would stick or pull, and always ended up in a mess. She still had more than enough time to grab a quick brunch and get ready for the second test of the day, so she plopped her flank down on her bed and reached her right wing around first.

Using her teeth, she gently bit down into the feathers to separate a kink right in the center of her wing. With the wings separated, she slowly moved her mouth around, guiding the feathers in to the right place with her lips before moving to the next knot.

“Ow!” Dash winced as one of her teeth scraped a little roughly against the top of her wing. She had been using her drip dry method for a long time, so she was a little out of practice at preening. If they ever got out of place just a little, a few hard flaps and shakes could usually move them into place. The towel had really twisted and knotted them here. The last couple times she had gotten Fluttershy to do it for her because she just disliked doing it that much.

Once her right wing was all straightened out, she extended and retraced the wing twice before reaching her left wing forward. The bunk suddenly jostled as she began working her mouth around the left feathers. She glanced up and saw the top bunk mattress shifting a little.

Oh, goody.

Bitch-Face McGee was back.

Dash rolled her eyes and continued preening her left wing. She blinked and glanced up as Arctic’s hooves suddenly hung down over the edge of her mattress. Dash lifted an eyebrow as the hooves began to sway back and forth followed by a dreamy sigh. Dash scoffed and looked towards the sexy poster of Soarin.

She couldn’t stand Arctic. As much as she disliked her nauseous attitude and downright barf worthy gawking of Soarin, Arctic was clearly there with an ulterior motive. Soarin was her goal, not the Wonderbolts. Yet here she was, into day two of the trials when two hundred some other ponies, who more than likely had a dream of being a Wonderbolt, were turned away in favor of her. Ponies who were serious about it, had been forced to go home while this celebrity chasing flake was still here. That pissed off Dash more than anything else.

The bunk began to creak and sway a little as Arctic’s fluffy body movements shook the bed. Dash lurched slightly and accidentally bit harder into her left wing as she just finished preening it.

“RGH! Dammit!” Dash quickly stood up from her bed and hovered up while glaring at Arctic. Arctic took no notice of Dash as her pupils remained locked on her poster of Soarin. Dash cleared her throat loudly. Arctic blinked, her face scrunched and she looked towards Dash.

“What do you want?” she asked coldly. Dash stood firm and let Arctic’s sass bounce right off of her.

“I want to ask you a serious question,” Dash folded her arms. Arctic went back to staring at the poster, but Dash continued regardless. “Are you actually here to become a Wonderbolt? Or are you just here to stalk Soarin?” Dash’s question broke Arctic out of her dreamland, but—

“Uuuuhhhhh… yes,” she replied. Having no idea what Dash actually asked. Dash flattened her brow and folded her ears so far back against her head they nearly disappeared into her mane.

“God, you’re stupid,” Dash shook her head as she landed.

“Mmhmm,” Arctic agreed by accident because she was distracted by Soarin again.

Dash felt like her intelligence was decreasing just by standing near Arctic. Brunch? Yeah, brunch sounded really good right now.

The mess hall was quickly busy with ponies who hadn’t had a full breakfast, but it wasn’t too crowded. For one, there were almost two hundred less cadets, but since showering was taking forever, they were also showing up little by little instead of all at once.

Squad three (minus Surprise due to test setup) had been assigned to chaperone the mess hall during brunch. Fire Streak was standing near the buffet tables while keeping an eye out. He wasn’t expecting to find any misconduct. Most of the bruisers and backstabbers had been flushed out of the cadet rankings by the first cut. These were his orders from Spitfire though, so he would take it seriously just as he did everything else.

He scanned back and forth diligently, but every couple of scans, he found his head getting stuck. Why? Because a certain bright yellow, light blue maned mare was patrolling up and down the center aisle within his field of view. He would lock his eyes on Misty and the brief moment of weakness where he felt her lips lightly press against his cheek pushed into his brain. Weakness? That’s how Fire’s overly serious brain was viewing it. Misty suddenly showed affection, and instead of finding it immoral against his code of duty, he liked it.

He didn’t know what to think in all honesty. Was Misty trying to give him a hint? Or was it just a way of her showing just how much she wanted to thank him? He felt the need to ask her, to clarify it, but would he be able to perform the sign language symbols while he was so flustered his arms tingled?

He went back to scanning, hoping he could somehow forget it and go back to how things were, but then his eyes landed right back on her as she stopped at one of the tables. Fire instantly recognized who she had stopped in front of. It was that cadet, the one who knew the sign language. Storm Front was his name if Fire recalled correctly. Fire had seen Storm’s manner and demeanor a few times during the tryouts. Storm was definitely a good pony alongside his consistently above average abilities.

No reason to worry. Misty probably just wanted to talk to him again.

Why did that bother him so much? Fire kept his eyes trained on Misty and Storm as they began speaking through sign language. Storm kept a warm smile on his face the whole time. He was responding incredibly fast and efficiently. Misty was making symbols faster than she ever had to Fire or the others. She also looked incredibly happy. She was nearly bouncing as she kept talking to him.

Fire found himself… put off. Why? There was absolutely NOTHING wrong about Storm speaking to Misty. There weren’t many who could speak to Misty. Storm was just being friendly. He should be happy that she made another friend, but why was he… angry?

Was he jealous?

Nonsense, jealousy was for the weak-hearted and those who can’t move on. So why did he feel that way? He was better than this, he had a sense of duty, and he knew what was important and what he should be paying attention to.

Then why the hell did he have the sudden urge to strangle Storm? That was wrong, it was improper. Storm was doing nothing to deserve it. Well, nothing except for talking to a pony Fire lo—

Oh dear…

Fire forced his head away from the conversation while taking a deep breath and holding it while shaking his head. Enough of this. He had to clear his head. He didn’t care if Storm was much better than him than talking to Misty fly. Okay, maybe he cared a little. Maybe a lot. Okay, maybe he felt like walking up and yanking her away from him.

“You look like yer gonna throw up bro,” Lightning’s voice made Fire flinch and he exhaled hard as if being punched square in the stomach. “I thought that look was reserved for me, are you actually mad at something else? That’s a first,” Lightning turned and leaned up against the buffet beside Fire. Fire grunted and looked away. Lightning was surprised again. “You broken? Doesn’t sound like the gears are turning in that head.”

“Pff, says you,” Fire suddenly spat at him before turning sharply away again and staring out into the cadet crowd. Lightning stood still for a moment and blinked as he registered what just happened… slowly. He shifted and leaned his other arm on the buffet while glancing at Fire, and then back out into the cadets. He saw Misty talking with Storm using sign language. He looked back at Fire.

Then Misty.

Then Fire.

Then Misty.

Then Fire.

Then his ears stood up when the obvious finally struck him and a smirk crossed his face.

“Bro,” he said simply as he draped a hoof over Fire’s back. Fire flinched, but kept glaring out into the mess hall. “You see that?” he pointed a hoof towards Misty and Storm. Fire’s eyes widened for a moment, but he quickly averted them.

“See what?”

“Bullshit, you were looking this way,” he grabbed the back of Fire’s head and forced it back towards Misty. “You see that?” he repeated. Fire sighed.

“Yes brother, I see Misty Fly. She’s just speaking with a cadet who knows sign language,” Fire humored Lightning and tried to look away, but Lightning’s grip was firm.

“Yeah, I see Misty, but you know what else I see? I see a smooth operator cakin’ on yo’ lady,” he felt Fire flinch hard in his grip. “You really just gonna stand here and let it happen?”

“Brother… we’ve been over this. Misty and I are NOT an item,” Fire argued.

“And I’m not an INCREDIBLY sexy stallion,” Lightning’s attempt at sarcasm was laughable, but Fire’s mind was so bent and twisted with conflicting thoughts he found neither the energy nor the will to even grace his idiotic brother with a scoff. He suddenly lurched left as Lightning forced him cheek to cheek. “Listen to me bro,” he started while smushing their cheeks together and forcing them to face Misty and Storm. “I ain’t a romantic type, but if there’s one thing that runs in common with every approach to mares… you gotta go for ‘em or else somepony else’ll be helpin’ themselves to that plot,” he gave Fire a rough pat on the back, making him grunt as Lightning pulled his cheek free of Fire’s. “It’s simple as that bro,” he glanced at the buffet table he was leaning on, reached over and grabbed a pancake, rolled it up, dunked it into the syrup vat beside it and stuffed the whole thing into his mouth. “This shit’s only good when you drench it in sugar,” he said with an extremely muffled voice due to his mouth being full.

Fire wasn’t paying attention to his brother anymore though. He was actually thinking about what Lightning had said. While it was very crude and very typical of him to put things so… idiotically, but he did have a point. If he really did like Misty as much as his brain was trying to tell him, then hesitation would lead to disaster. Misty had found another pony that made her extremely happy. It didn’t seem wrong at all. But watching another stallion make her smile the same way he did just wasn’t sitting well in his stomach.

He was not okay with it.

For the first time in his life he felt the need to thank his brother, not that he actually would. Where would he go from here? He hadn’t a clue, but one thing was for certain. He was falling for Misty Fly. As much as his brain was going to fight him on that one, it was true. Now he just had to figure out what to do next… if anything. He felt so conflicted it was like there was a war going on in his head, but both sides were causing more damage to themselves than to the enemy. He needed to get his mind off this for now. He’d think about it, but right now he was on duty.

“Hey! Shit Streaks!” Blaze’s shrill voice slammed through Fire’s head. He blinked and turned, ignoring her crass reference to their name because of how typical it was. Blaze trotted up and leaned against him much like how his brother just had prior.

“Yes Blaze?” Fire said unenthusiastically.

“Spitty-Ass-Cheeks wants to see you guys, we’ll take over here,” she explained while pointing to High Winds, who was already leaning on a nearby table. She fell asleep and her head plopped right onto a stallion’s plate. The stallion just stopped, blinked, and looked around as the other occupants of the table laughed.

“Who?” Fire tried to decode her foul speech. Blaze flattened her brow.

“My sister,” she confirmed plainly.

“Oh… alright then,” Fire nodded. He turned to his brother, but Lightning was already moseying towards the exit.

“Sheesh Windy…” Blaze shook her head and pulled Winds off the table, much to the cadets’ amusement. Fire flinched in surprise as he saw Misty suddenly approach. She glanced over at the doors, saw Lightning leave, and then turned back and tipped her head in confusion.

Fire made a few quick signs to explain that Spitfire called them. Misty simply smiled and nodded. She was clearly very happy. Fire could always tell when she was happy. She had an extra spring in her step and the tips of her wings twitched and bounced as she walked.

But it wasn’t him that had made her happy, and once again he found his brain heavily disliking that fact.

She’s a teammate.

She’s a friend.

There’s nothing there.

Fire sighed heavily as his morals fought endlessly in his head. He was glad Misty couldn’t hear him because he was grumbling at his own confusion the whole walk to the auxiliary gym.

“What the hell IS this thing?” Soarin said to himself as he sat against the wall near the entrance of the gyms. He watched as multiple members of the Wonderbolt maintenance staff wheeled in huge pieces to one of Surprise’s courses.

Soarin didn’t know much about Surprise’s personal courses designed by her and Rivet. He usually stuck to his courses and Silver Lining’s if he wanted to change it up. If the pie launcher was any indication, this was going to be something absolutely ridiculous. In fact, as Soarin watched it slowly get put together… it looked like a very large water slide.

It was one long ten-foot wide and tall tube. It started really high up and twisted and turned around the extended gyms with absolutely no rhyme or reason. It was definitely not just a tube, knowing Surprise there was a catch. Whatever was inside the tube would be the real source of the test, but Soarin wasn’t gonna find out until they started.

He already had a pair of x-ray enhanced goggles dangling around his neck that was handed to him by one of the workers. Rivet had so many fancy gadgets for them, some of which they didn’t have much use for, but were handy to have around in case a mission or unique scenario ever called for it. Spitfire was curious how they were going to keep track of cadets inside the tubes and Fleetfoot was quick to remind her of the x-ray goggles tested a few months back.

“Never thought we’d find a use for ‘em but I’m glad we have them now,” Spitfire had said. It was true, they were pretty nifty.

With nothing to do, Soarin reached into a small pouch he had clipped to his uniform and pulled out a small pebble. He started playing a small game of catch with himself to pass the time, throwing the pebble up and freezing it in the air with his magic. He had really gotten the hang of catching or moving a single object. He could call the magic through the false horn almost instantly now. Two objects was still rough, but he felt proud of improving the most basic magic so quickly. He was a pegasus after all, it had to be some kind of achievement.

He’d been so occupied with the tryouts. He wondered what else Fancy Pants had in store for him when he got back to their little magic sessions a few days from now. He tipped his head up to catch the pebble in a blue aura as he tossed it a little higher. Something else caught his attention though. He let the pebble drop into his hoof as he looked up towards Spitfire and the little yellow stallion helping her look at the course setup instructions. Soarin sighed as he saw Fleetfoot hovering sneakily towards them.

“I’m so confused… this doesn’t look right,” Spitfire eyed the blueprints while glancing at the tubes. “Did we do this backwards?” she asked while scratching her head. The little stallion hovered up to her, gently took the blueprint from her and turned it around so it was right side up. “Oh… that helps,” Spitfire said while blushing slightly in embarrassment. She blinked as the stallion suddenly ducked behind her wing. Spitfire glanced slightly to her left and saw two light blue hooves slowly extending towards the stallion.

“Fleet…” Spitfire said her name once and Fleetfoot sped off while giggling. The stallion slowly emerged and went back to looking at the blueprint with Spitfire. “Jeez, I can’t make heads or tails of this stuff. I don’t know how you do it. It’s really something.”

The little stallion shook his head as if disagreeing with the compliment.

“Oh, have a little pride,” Spitfire ruffled his mane. Fleetfoot’s right hoof suddenly reached up behind the stallion. Without looking, Spitfire extended her wing and batted Fleetfoot’s hoof down. Again, Fleetfoot sped off while giggling. “So this…” Spitfire pointed to one portion of the blueprint. The yellow stallion leaned in. “What’s this underneath here…?” Spitfire turned to look at the stallion, but he was suddenly pulled away with a squeak, followed by Fleetfoot’s laughter. “God dammit… FLEET!” Spitfire yelled as Fleetfoot sped towards the exits while clutching the blushing little stallion in her hooves.

Soarin saw them approaching and was ready to intercept, but before he could get up, Misty Fly and the Streak Twins came through the doors. Misty’s reaction time was incredible. She only saw Fleet for half a second before she stepped aside, let Fleetfoot pass just a little, braced her hooves firmly on the ground, and then clamped her mouth down on Fleetfoot’s tail.

“OW!” Fleetfoot yelped as her tail nearly got yanked off, she whiplashed back towards Misty as she fell on the floor, her grip on the stallion loosening as she flailed back. The stallion was launched from her arms, but Misty reached up a wing and caught the stallion, cradling him safely before lowering him gently to the ground.

Spitfire landed and stomped up to Fleetfoot.

“FLEET! This is your test! STOP fooling around and HELP us set up!” she barked at Fleetfoot as she lay face down on the floor. Fleetfoot rolled over while wearing a very uncomfortable look on her face.

“Yeah, sure, I’ll be up there as soon as I reattach my ass… DAMN that hurt!” she whined while patting her flank.

“Serves you right for thinking you could get past Misty,” Soarin chuckled from off to the side.

“STUFF IT, MISS EQUESTIRA!” Fleetfoot pointed and yelled without looking at him.

As Spitfire checked on the little stallion, the doors opened again and Wave Chill walked in. He was walking with his head down, clearly thinking about something over paying attention to where he was going. Right in front of Soarin, Fleetfoot, the Streak twins and Misty, Wave walked nose first directly into Spitfire’s plot.

“WHOA!” Spitfire jumped three feet into the air in surprise. Wave blinked and his eyes widened in pure, mortified horror. Spitfire turned around as she caught herself in midair and glared, but then her eyes widened too upon seeing Wave.

“Uh… um…” Wave’s brain completely broke. “SORRY… M-Ma’am!” he turned and sprinted out the doors. The rest of the Wonderbolts blinked, then looked towards Spitfire. A heavy blush had drawn over her nose as she furrowed her brow and bit her lower lip. She looked at all of them and scowled.

“What are YOU all looking at!?” she snapped before pulling the little stallion back up into the air with her. He yelped in surprise, but at least it wasn’t Fleetfoot. “Oh,” Spitfire stopped and turned back. “Squad three, I need to talk to you guys,” she beckoned them, leaving Soarin and Fleetfoot alone by the entrance.

“What’s gotten into her?” Soarin wondered out loud. Fleetfoot giggled.

“Wave’s face almost did just now,” she sat up while snickering. Soarin glanced back at the doors. That was twice now. Something was up with Wave and Spitfire. He wondered if it had anything to do with Discord’s little trick with the false sexy Spitfire.

Soarin made up his mind. He’d have to wait until later because they were just way too busy now, but it was time to have a bro talk with Wave Chill. Soarin had plenty of experience with mare problems. Hell, his first encounter with Dash was nothing but one big over emotional angst fest. He felt the need to ask for Spitfire too.


At one point Spitfire slapped him across the face to shape up and get after Dash. Now he was going to help her, using her own techniques, on a pony that liked her. Strange how the world works sometimes.

But not till later. Soarin was curious about this… tube of Surprise’s.

--- To Be Continued ---

Chapter 22: A Pipe Full of Surprises

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Piercing the Heavens
By: Calm Wind

Chapter 22:

“Come on! Come on! Everypony in! Before my damn mane gets any greyer! Come on!” Silver Lining barked at the cadets as they quickly shuffled into the auxiliary gym. It didn’t take nearly as long with only a hundred cadets, but it only took a day for Silver to effectively intimidate them all. All he did was direct them around, but if any of the ponies lagged behind he got really creative with his threats. A majority of which were different ways to kick a pony in the ass.

Dash pushed through the doors with the rest of the cadets, and like most upon entering, blinked and stared up at the monstrosity that was set up before them. She ended up running into Thunderlane from behind, who in turn lurched forward and ran into Matteo. After Dash and Thunderlane regained their hooves, they walked up beside Matteo while viewing the… thing in the gym.

“Uh… should I be scared?” Thunderlane furrowed his brow.

“What is this thing?” Dash glanced up at Matteo. He shook his head.

“Your guess is as good as mine,” he put plainly while scanning the large construct.

They were looking at what seemed to be a long, winding silver cylinder that had gone up in the auxiliary gym at some point while they were elsewhere. As Dash traced the tube along, she saw there was a clear area that looked like a finish line, and that the cylinder was, in fact, a tube. She looked up towards where the front end of the tube began. It was surrounded by a large box attached to the cylinder that was propped up by thick steel supports as was the rest of the tube.

What was in the tube? Hell if Dash knew. Fleetfoot made it clear more than once. Today was all about how they handle the unexpected. There was no way to prepare or be ready for whatever shenanigans were about to ensue. After fighting an uphill battle against a pie launching machine in thick fog, Dash was sure something ridiculous was ahead.

“See!? I told you guys no pranks until the next test!” Fleetfoot hopped up and flew in a lazy circle over the cadets as Silver Lining kicked the last one through the door. “But noooooooo, you all thought I was gonna pull a fast one! I know Soarin is a princess and all, but my word is just as good as his.”

“Just get them going!” Soarin’s voice came from off to the side.

“Quiet, princess!” Fleetfoot shouted as she flew back to the front of the group to give in instructions. “So as you can see…” she turned her back to them. “Behind me is a large tube,” she turned back around. “You have to fly through it,” she nodded. “Any questions?” she looked out into the cadets. Thunderlane slowly raised his hoof. “Didn’t think so! Surprise!” Fleetfoot called while backing away.

Dash blinked and flattened her ears. Those were supposed to be instructions? Gee, thanks for all the details Fleetfoot.

“HI!” Surprise dropped down from above and gave a huge smile to all the cadets. “Everypony say hello to one of my FAVORITE personal courses!” she motioned to the tube. “The Slide of Unconventional Possibilities!” she smiled as an explosion of confetti erupted behind her.

“Slide of Unconventional Possibilities?” Dash repeated while looking up at Matteo. Matteo looked down at her, then back towards Surprise.

“S.O.U.P?” Matteo put the acronym together.

“EXACTLY!” Surprise popped up from the feathers on his back. “It’s a tasty mixture of unexpected things cooked in a pot and served hot, hot, HOT!” she dove back into Matteo’s feathers. “WhooooooooOOOAAAAAOOF!!!” Surprise fell from the ceiling and landed flat on the ground in front of the cadets. She looked up and scratched her head. “Huh… that's never happened before…”

“Uh…” Thunderlane tipped his head to the side. “What sort of things would those be?”

“SILLY!” Surprise was suddenly right in front of Thunderlane and pressing her face completely against his. “Would it be the special S.O.U.P. surprise if I told you what the ingredients were?” she bounced her eyebrows up and down against his face. Her body contorted and flung away from Thunderlane with a loud SPROING as if her body was spring-loaded.

“Whoa!” Fleetfoot ducked as Surprise flung over her head and crashed into High Winds behind her. Fleetfoot winced as she watched the collision before turning back to the cadets. “Well then! To breed some competition, we’re going to have you cadets go two at a time. While we aren’t testing to see who gets out first, we do want to see who competes versus who goes through the motions!” The cadets began moving to form a line near the base pillar that held up the apparent starting line. “HOLD IT!” Fleetfoot threw her hooves out. The cadets all froze and looked back to her. “We’re gonna do this differently too! BLAZE!” Fleetfoot called down. Blaze was trying to untangle Surprise from High Winds. She stopped and glanced up. “All yours Blazey!”

“Rgh…” Blaze growled and dropped Surprise and High Winds onto the ground. Winds had fallen sleep anyway. “Stop calling me that,” she grinded her teeth and glared at Fleetfoot as they passed.

“Who’s the alpha mare?” Fleetfoot cooed slyly as they passed.

“Fuck you,” Blaze hissed back as Fleetfoot giggled all the way to the ground. “ALRIGHT LOSERS! LISTEN YER SHIT UP!” Blaze puffed her chest out as she hovered above the cadets. “You’re going two at time! Who will you be paired with?! It’s up to me to use my powers of matchmaking to find you the PERFECT RIVAL!”

“Aka, she’s gonna pick completely at random!” Fleetfoot yelled from the ground.

“SHUDDAP!” Blaze spat down towards Fleetfoot as she giggled away again. “First up is…” Blaze pushed her goggles up and eyed the one hundred cadets carefully as if she really was trying to determine something. “You and you!” she pointed at Twister and Thunderlane.

“What?” Thunderlane blinked and his ears flopped down.

“Well…” Twister suddenly slithered his body up onto Thunderlane’s back like a snake. “What are we waiting for…?” he sneered before extending his wings and taking off towards the start above them.

“Just my luck…” Thunderlane groaned as he followed.

“Good luck with… whatever the hell’s in there!” Dash chuckled as Thunderlane just shook his head in response. Dash watched as Thunderlane and Twister were allowed into the box. The Wonderbolts all hovered up and fastened a different pair of strange looking goggles to their eyes. Dash examined the length of the tube again and realized there was no way to see inside. There were small hatches littered around, but nothing like windows. Dash looked back at the Wonderbolts as they flew around the tube, looking closely at blank spots on it.

She put it together. The Wonderbolts had special infrared goggles to see them in the fog. Were these goggles that let them… see through things? Where did they get all these cool gadgets?

Dash’s suspicions were confirmed when she saw the Wonderbolts suddenly move their heads along the outside of the pipe as if they were keeping track of something moving. They could see into the pipe. A few faint yelps and screams sputtered out the finish end of the pipe. All the cadets turned and looked at the finish line with dread as the sound of the yelling resonated all the way through.

“OOOOOOOO!! That’s gonna leave a mark!” Soarin suddenly commented. Dash looked up and saw the rest of the Wonderbolts wincing as well. Fleetfoot did a single backward somersault while absolutely cracking up.

“WOW! He hit that hard! Good thing we had them sign the consent forms!” she chortled while clutching her sides. They all gradually moved along the pipe, giving Dash an idea of where the two were inside. Every few seconds the Wonderbolts would react to something happening inside. Most likely something unpleasant, but amusing to them. After about five minutes, the Wonderbolts gathered by the finish line. The pipe to the finish was against the ground and facing horizontally after a huge dip just before it. It looked like there was one final dive on the inside followed by leveling out and launching the occupants out with plenty of space to safely slow down once free from the pipe.

“Oo! OW! Oh god! GAH!” Thunderlane’s voice came from the inside. Twister suddenly shot out of the tube, did a quick flip and landed on his hooves, skidding to a stop before striking a gymnast finishing pose.

“TAADAA!!!” he yelled out. Immediately afterward, Thunderlane launched back first out of the pipe.

“OHHHH SHIIIIIIIT!” he yelled as he his plot smacked against the floor. He started painfully tumbling along the ground until finally coming to a stop after his face skidded on the floor for a few feet. Everypony, cadets and Wonderbolts alike, all cringed as he came to a full stop.

“Oh damn…” Soarin hovered over Thunderlane. They were hard to see with his black fur, but Thunderlane clearly had some nasty bruises. A few welts were all Soarin needed to see to figure that out.

“Ow… ow…” Thunderlane grimaced as he tried to push himself up. Spitfire quickly turned to Fire Streak.

“Fire, get the training staff in here, I get the feeling we’re gonna need them more than once,” she ordered. Fire saluted and made his way towards one of the side passage doors.

“I can’t believe he finished… did you see how many times he wiped out?” Soarin asked Spitfire as he pushed his goggles up and helped Thunderlane get to his hooves.

“Perseverance is a valuable trait,” Spitfire walked up and lightly held her hoof to Thunderlane’s shoulder. “It was sloppy cadet… but one hell of an effort. Hang tough, the trainers are on the way.”

Thunderlane just nodded and sighed as his body twitched in discomfort. Dash gulped as she saw the beat up state Thunderlane was in. What the hell was IN this thing?

“YOU AND YOU! YOU LOOK LIKE YOU HATE EACH OTHER’S ASS WITH A PASSION!” Blaze yelled as she pointed at two more cadets. Dash turned and saw two mares look at each other and shrug. Blaze was being completely random. Seeing as how there were a hundred of them, and they were only going two at a time. That meant fifty runs. This was going to take a while. Dash steeled her nerves for the incoming cacophony and did some light stretches and wing-ups to stay loose.

“Rainbow Dash… I’m scared… what’s in there?” Derpy approached Dash while dragging her hooves and looking up at the tube. Dash pushed through one more wing-up before standing up and glancing at the tube herself. She looked back down at Derpy, then over near the finish line.

Twenty-seven runs… and Dash still hadn’t been picked. Neither had Derpy, Matteo, or Storm Front. The Wonderbolt training staff had arrived soon after Thunderlane took a beating inside the pipe. They now had their hands full with multiple cadets who seemed a little banged up after their run. Although none of them looked half as beat up as Thunderlane. What the hell did he do in there? It sure made the Wonderbolts react.

“Don’t worry Derpy, Thunderlane has a history of… crashing into things…” she snickered, but gently draped a hoof over Derpy’s back. “Whatever’s in there, just take it at your pace,” Dash assured her. Derpy cracked a small smile and nodded. She looked like she was going to say something else, but she got distracted by Storm Front coming into the general vicinity to talk to Matteo. She quickly left Dash’s side to join them.

Dash chuckled as she watched Derpy approach Storm and Matteo. Derpy had said more than once she was scared of Matteo, even after Dash had told her he was a nice guy. Yet, with Storm Front over there, Derpy didn’t give a DAMN about Matteo being right there.

Dash couldn’t help but feel a little sad at the sight. Derpy was clearly drawn to Storm. It was no surprise, Storm was probably the nicest stallion Dash had ever met… and Derpy didn’t really get the amount of kindness she deserved. How long could Derpy stay afloat in the tryouts though? Dash hated thinking about it, but Derpy barely squeaked into the second day. Was she going to be forced away from Storm after today?

“OW! Like, STOP!”

Dash turned her head towards the trainers. She snickered as she saw Arctic Blast being looked at by a trainer. She had just finished her run. She came out of the pipe way before the stallion she was chosen to go with, but she had a large bruise on her right shoulder. It didn’t look very painful. Arctic was one of the skinniest ponies Dash had ever seen, so she probably bruised when a fly landed on her. She had white fur though, so the bruise was very visible and she was FUMING about it.

Dash blinked as she saw High Winds trot over as the trainers struggled to keep Arctic from squirming. High Winds stopped beside Arctic and began poking the bruise with a hoof over and over again. Arctic yelped each time while demanding High Winds stopped, but she kept doing it. Silver Lining was standing right next to them, but didn’t do anything. Eventually Blaze sped towards them and pulled Winds away while saying something about being a little too cruel.

Dash was not quite as familiar with squad two, but she was seeing little things as the tryouts went on.

High Winds was interesting. She always seemed tired and half asleep, but she was also very blunt and had a bit of a guilty pleasure in being overly blunt and harsh to those she disliked. Blaze looked nearly identical to Spitfire. Dash wondered if there was any relation. If there was, Spitfire definitely got the maturity.

Blaze was wild, crazy, and swore way too much. Also she seemed to get into many fights she could never win. Fleetfoot demonstrated that for all of them in the barracks earlier.

Dash hadn’t gotten much of a read on Silver Lining yet. He was tough, stoic, serious, and very creative with threats. She hadn’t seen him do anything besides yell at the cadets so far. He also looked old. He was definitely older than Misty. Maybe he was in his forties? He had to be at least. Dash knew that Wonderbolt ranks were determined by ability, not quite by experience. If Silver was able to maintain the highest non-lead squad rank, captain of squad two, at his older age, then he had to be a badass.

She had briefly met Wave Chill before. Soldier type. Yes pony. A bit robotic around senior officers. Speaking of Wave Chill, where was he? Dash looked around the while gym. Every member of squad one and three was there, but Wave was missing from two.

“YOU AND YOU!” Blaze suddenly flew up to them. Dash’s head snapped up, hoping Blaze was pointing at her.

Unfortunately, she was pointing at Matteo and Derpy. Dash’s pupils shrank.

“M-m-m-me?” Derpy pointed at her while glancing at Matteo. Matteo looked down at her with a regular expression. He did not glare nor give any look meant to intimidate. But a big scary griffon was looking down at her. Derpy squeaked, quickly grabbed Storm Front’s left wing, and covered herself with it.

“Yes, you Blondie! You and the big ass feather bag!” Blaze confirmed. The look Matteo gave Blaze was definitely a glare. Blaze cocked an eyebrow at him. “Oh, what up G? You wanna go?” she taunted in a condescending tone while putting up hoofticuffs and bobbing back and forth in the air. Matteo rolled his eyes and grunted before spreading his large wings and slowly taking off towards the start.

“Um… um…” Derpy squeaked while fidgeting and rubbing her hooves against two of Storm’s wing feathers. Storm reached a hoof up and patted her on the head. She looked up at him hesitantly.

“Go ahead Derpy, Matteo may be scary looking, but he won’t hurt you,” Storm gave her a wink. Derpy gulped before unwrapping herself from Storm’s wing and taking off very slowly towards the start.

Dash watched as Derpy and Matteo entered the box, then turned and approached Storm as he preened the two feathers Derpy had nervously rubbed out of place with her hooves.

“I hope she’s alright in there…” Dash made small talk as Storm refolded his wing.

“I’m sure Matteo won’t do anything to her,” he answered while cracking his neck. Dash shook her head.

“I’m not so much worried about him, I’m worried about whatever’s in this… crazy huge clusterf— tube thing,” Dash confirmed. She gulped as she saw the Wonderbolts moving along, implying the course had begun. Storm merely nodded as he sat down and kept his eyes firmly fixed on the pipe. Dash glanced at him, her curiosity getting the better of her. “So Derpy’s a real big fan of you, huh?” she threw out. Storm’s reaction was not what she expected. He didn’t flinch in surprise, nor did his eyes widen. He just smiled and shrugged.

“She’s a very nice mare,” he began. “I haven’t really done anything besides be myself.”

“Well, have you seen the way she looks at you?” Dash nudged him as she sat down beside him. He turned and gave her a slightly uncomfortable expression.

“Getting a little personal here isn’t it?”

“Hey, I’ve been friends with her for a long time, I’m just curious,” Dash crossed her hooves while looking back up at the pipe. Storm sighed while swishing his tail back and forth.

“Well… I’m not gonna lie, Derpy is very pleasant. She’s happy, carefree, and bubbly. I’ve done nothing but smile every time she’s around,” a small smile cracked on the edges of his mouth, but they almost instantly turned down. “I’ve only known her for two days, but… I have taken a liking to her. I just don’t know though. We’re in different places. Plus, who knows what’s going to happen here.”

“Whoa there,” Dash extended her wing and jabbed him in the shoulder. He jumped slightly and turned to her while rubbing his shoulder.

“What was that for?”

“Something I’ve heard in the past and I’m stopping you right now,” Dash winked at him. “Look, distance is a bad excuse. It’s way too early to know for sure if the two of you could be a thing, but don’t say it won’t work because of distance,” Dash sighed while smiling. “It’s not like Cloudsdale is very far from Ponyville. You can easily see her again if you want. But if something does happen between you two… make it work. Trust me, I’ve made it work,” she nodded to him. Storm blinked at her.

“You’re in a long distance relationship?” Storm asked. Dash pounded a hoof to her chest.

“And proud of it!” she chuckled. “If you find another worth the trouble, it’s totally worth it.”

Storm looked away as he thought it over, but both of them were caught off guard by sudden laughter from above.


Dash and Storm looked up to see Fleetfoot near the pipe, laughing so hard that she almost couldn’t stay afloat.

“That just looks… painful…” Soarin cringed beside her. He turned and looked at Fleetfoot as she did multiple forward tumbles in the air while laughing hysterically. “You are terrible,” he said while shaking his head.

“HahahaWHOA!” Fleetfoot yelped as she nearly dropped like a rock out of the air.

From below Dash and Storm looked up with dread as squad three gathered around with Soarin and Fleetfoot at the one particular spot near the halfway point of the pipe. Squad two and Spitfire kept following the line of the pipe.

Something had happened. Dash began dreading that Derpy got hurt. She flinched as Storm suddenly stood up and took off towards the stationary gathering of Wonderbolts.

“What happened!?” he yelled as he approached.

“WHOOOAAAAA buddy…” Lightning Streak flew up in front and pressed his hooves to Storm’s chest. “Go wait your turn.”

“But… did something happen?!”

“Yeah bro, painful shit,” Lightning tipped his goggles up.


“Come on now, let’s just back off,” Fire Streak flew up and joined his brother’s side as the two pushed Storm back down to the ground. They pushed him all the way back down to Dash. Lightning Streak shrugged.

“Don’t go all bonkers bro, we’ll help him,” he put his goggles back on as he and Fire Streak took back off towards the tube. Storm blinked.

“Him?” he scrunched his face.

“Look!” Dash pointed towards the finish line.

Squad two and Spitfire neared the end of the pipe and spread out by the finish line.

Derpy flew out of the pipe. She had a huge smile on her face.

“That was so much FUN!!!!” she yelled out as she slowed down. Surprise was suddenly all the way over by the finish line. She bounced up and down in the air beside Derpy.

“I know! Isn’t it?!” Surprise yelled while the two bounced happily.

“Huh…” Storm blinked, sat back down, and refolded his wings. Dash snickered.

“The gallant switch sure flipped on quickly there, eeeehhhh?” she nudged him again. Storm sighed.

“I was worried about her,” he admitted. Dash smiled as she got up to do a few more wing-ups.

“Like I said, don’t use distance as an excuse,” Dash put plainly as she stretched her wings out.

They both kept an eye on the tube as eventually Soarin, Fire Streak, and Lightning Streak entered the pipe through a hatch. A few moments later, they emerged and the gathering began following the pipe again. Did Matteo get stuck? How the hell did he manage that?

Eventually Matteo shot out of the finish and slammed his talons and paws to the ground. He skidded to a stop and fell to the ground while panting. The training staff was over by him immediately. He didn’t look too banged up, but there was a large chunk of feathers missing from his left side right before his lion body. He quickly dismissed the trainers, claiming to be fine. However, he started walking with his back legs spread more apart than usual. It didn’t look right at all. He was quickly approached again, and this time he couldn’t fight them off.

“Yikes… and I was worried about Derpy…” Dash chuckled as she saw Derpy and Surprise still talking and giggling off to the side.


She was pointing at Dash and Storm Front. Dash glanced at Storm.

“Pfff…” Dash tried to hold it in while covering her face with her wings.

“You think this is a damn GAME?!” Blaze got in Dash’s face. Dash barely flinched. Blaze tried. She tried real hard. But she just wasn’t intimidating. At all. If she was related to Spitfire, she got the short end of the stick for sure.

“Fine, we’re going,” Dash chuckled as she and Storm took off.

Finally, it was her turn. Dash was getting sick of waiting. She flew down beside Storm as they ascended.

“So just cause I think you’re a nice guy doesn’t mean I’m not gonna kick your ass in this,” she jeered while giving him a light body bump as they flew. Storm lifted an eyebrow and smirked.

“Bring it on, Colors,” he taunted back.

“You do have a snarky side!” Dash chuckled as they reached the large box at the start of the tube. It was just a large wooden box that looked to be about twelve by twelve feet sticking to the start of the ten by ten foot tube. They approached the simple door, but were stopped as Surprise shot up in front of them, glaring.

“Y’ALL… READY… FOR… THIS?!” she emphasized each word while slightly tipping her head more to the right with each one. Dash and Storm glanced at each other, and then looked back to Surprise.


“NO! NOPONY EVER IS!” She appeared behind them and shoved them both through the door. They tumbled in and rolled to a stop on the floor. Dash sat up first, shaking her mane out. The box was completely empty on the inside. Nothing but a single light bulb hanging overhead.

“Well… this should be fun,” she chuckled, but then she blinked as she stared straight forward at a wall. There was no entrance into the tube. Storm picked himself up off the floor and looked towards the wall as well.

“Uh… what are we supposed to—” he looked behind them. “What?!” he remarked. Dash quickly turned and looked back… at a solid wall.

“HUH?!” she rubbed her eyes. The door was gone, vanished as if it never existed. “What the hell?” she looked to Storm, who only shrugged.

“So what the hell are we supposed to—” Storm stopped as both he and Dash heard a quiet sliding noise. They both looked to the wall on the right. A small little door had opened.

A penguin emerged from the door.

It casually made its way past Dash and Storm, never hesitating or stopping to look at them. Dash and Storm just silently watched it as it made its way from one side of the box to the other before opening another small door with its flipper and ducking inside. Dash and Storm blinked and looked at each other.

Suddenly, the floor began shifting. Dash and Storm both yelped as they felt the floor moving beneath them. Out of nowhere, the floor tilted down from the walls, then catapulted towards the wall connected to the pipe. Dash and Storm both shielded themselves for a collision, but at the last second, the wall dropped and they were flung into the tube. It was pitch black inside. The only source of light was the light bulb from the box that was slowly growing fainter as they careened into the tube.

“RGH!” Dash flattened out and extended her wings, but she had no idea where she was going, she couldn’t see a thing, nor could she see Storm. Then something opened in front of them. Dash shielded her eyes as the light poured in right after her eyes had somewhat adjusted to the dark. She felt the nip of very cold air suddenly prick her body. She opened her eyes.

She and Storm had been hurled into a pipe that was completely lined with ice. It explained the sudden, severe cold, but what was this supposed to accomplish? Dash blinked as Storm took off down the pipe.

“Ah!” Dash quickly remembered, this was a test, and they wanted them to compete. She pumped her wings and sped up as the pipe began to wind to and fro. The cold was biting at her and making her fur stand on end, but beyond that, was this supposed to present a challenge?

As soon as Dash thought about it, an extremely sharp U-turn approached. It was right after another turn, so Dash was caught completely off guard by it. She tried to hit the brakes as she turned, but there was no way she wasn’t going to hit the wall of ice.

Ahead of her, Storm Front was in the same bind, but as he neared the wall, he suddenly turned his body to face the approaching wall. He extended his hooves, struck them against the wall, and was propelled in the other direction, continuing down the pipe. Dash reached her hooves out to try and kick off the icy wall, but as soon as her hooves made contact, they lost traction and her body crashed against the wall.

“YEEOW!” Dash shivered as the sting of cold clawed at her underbelly. She tried to push off, but each attempt just made her hooves slip uncontrollably. She slid down the wall as she rounded the U-turn and down to the floor of the pipe. She concentrated, realizing her hooves would only slip more if she hurried. She was sliding down the pipe, but she didn’t think the Wonderbolts would find it very impressive if she body surfed the whole way down.

She carefully pushed her hooves down while extending her wings, managing to catch the air and lifting herself from the ice. A feeling of relief rushed over her with her body no longer pressed to the cold.

“Huh?” She looked down as she regained her flight.

Six penguins, riding a mattress, slid past her down the pipe. The penguin in front was wearing a red hat and overalls. They all looked up at her before they flew by and disappeared around the corner.

Dash shook her head and focused down the pipe. This course was designed by Surprise, there was no use questioning anything. Just go!

Dash took off around the corner, zipping past the penguins and doing her best to make up lost ground. She hit a straightaway and caught a glimpse of Storm Front ahead, making another sharp turn. Again he turned and tapped off the wall, shooting in the desired direction. Dash was too far away to see how he was doing it, but she refused to body board it again. She maintained her speed and hugged the left wall. When the pipe turned hard to the right, she used Twister’s Spiral Turn while touching her hooves to the wall, followed by sharply pumping her wings in a full follow through to use Matteo’s Air Burst. She angled her legs to brace her body as the Air Burst propelled her forward. Her hooves slid against the wall, sling shotting her around the outside wall and down the straight away after. She was slowly closing the distance between her and Storm.

They approached what looked like a zigzag pattern in the pipe. Dash used the straightaway beforehoof to her advantage, closing as much space as possible between her and Storm in case he used that technique again. Although a zigzag was much more manageable than a U-turn, she wondered if he would even go for it.

“Huh?” Dash watched Storm as she closed in and he reached the pipe pattern. He wasn’t even changing his flight path. He was going to hit the wall! Then he turned towards the wall in the wrong direction. Was he nuts?!

But Storm did not crash. He flipped around, striking his back hooves against the wall. It propelled him hard towards the first corner of the crooked pipe. He reached his front hooves out, and repeated the motion, ricocheting off the first corner towards the second. Storm proceeded to bounce his way through the zigzag pattern seamlessly without losing any speed.

Dash’s mouth hung open in awe as she slowed down to weave normally through the pattern. How the HELL did he do that? She only caught a brief glimpse of it. He wasn’t just kicking off the wall. Each time he did, his front or back hooves were slightly staggered as he hit the wall. She’d have to see it up close.

Great. Here she was stumbling around while Storm Front showed off some wicked moves. She had to pick it up.

She rounded the last zigzag, spotting another turn ahead. She pitched hard to the right, making a clean turn.

“Whoa!” she quickly pumped her wings down as the pipe suddenly turned upward. She pitched up, coming over the top of the sudden hill, but— “OOF!” As soon as she came up, Storm Front came flying backwards and crashed into her. The two tumbled for a moment, but broke apart and regained flight. Storm turned to her, but she didn’t even stop to think about it. Dash propelled herself back upward.

She emerged in a new pipe. She eyed it quizzically as she flew into it. The sides of the pipe looked different, almost soft… and rubbery… with multiple colors. There was a sudden dip in the pipe ahead. Dash turned down, only to see too late that the dip was less than three feet down.

“Yikes!” she shielded herself as she struck the wall… and bounced wildly back in the other direction. “What the—!” she freaked out as she began bouncing off the wall continuously. Up, down, left, right, every direction. She couldn’t regain control. It was like she was in a bounce castle and every wall was like a super ball.

Suddenly Storm’s hooves extended out and caught her as he flew by. He quickly let go of her and continued down the tube, being careful not to touch the incredibly bouncy walls. Dash blinked, wondering why Storm had helped her, but she quickly put the thought aside and took off after him.

She caught up to him fast, but followed his example by slowing down and making her way around the turns carefully. The pipe winded and turned with much less sharpness, but one false move and she might be bouncing forever again.

But Dash’s competitiveness got the better of her. She had been behind long enough. She wanted the Wonderbolts to see her in the lead. She took a reckless chance and sped up as they approached a turn that was slightly sharper. She closed the distance between them little by little, catching up to his back hooves right as they began to turn.

Dash instantly regretted her speedup. She pitched hard to the left to make the turn. She passed Storm in the process, but right before she could even out, her body bounced roughly against the wall. The rubber wall propelled her across the pipe towards the opposite wall as it straightened out. There was a straight away ahead, but Dash found herself bouncing back and forth down the length of it.

“Oo! Ow! Ah! Ee!” she grunted and squeaked as she continuously bounced and bounced and bounced and bounced.

This was heavily embarrassing. What a great show she was putting on. What was worse, she could see a new pipe approaching once again. If she didn’t regain control soon, she’d possibly have a painful collision in the very near future. It grew closer and closer. Dash tried to fight the bouncing, but every time she tried to slow herself down, her wings were thrown off balance by another bounce.

The new pipe was drawing near. Dash braced herself for a painful impact.

“OOF!” her eyes opened in surprise to see Storm holding onto her. Again? He caught her again? He let go of her and made a sharp turn around the first corner of the new pipe. Dash shook her head in confusion as she made the turn herself. “What?” Dash blinked as she came around into a long straightaway… that was littered with trees and wildlife like a forest. A deer was front and center, eating grass and looking up at Dash.

Ignore it. Just ignore it. There’s no rhyme or reason, just GO!

Dash followed after Storm, weaving through the trees and catching up to him. Storm suddenly veered directly towards one of the trees.

Oh no.

Not this time.

Dash veered over as close as she could. She was going to see how he did this.

Storm staggered his hooves as he came near. Dash focused her eyes on his hooves.

It was fast… really fast. Dash almost didn’t catch it as he propelled off the trunk and proceeded to bounce his way through the forest, ricocheting off the tree trunks at an incredible speed just as he had through the zigzag in the ice pipe.

Just as she though, he wasn’t just kicking or punching off the walls. It was very precise and very quick, but he was using some sort of rapid tap on the surfaces. He pushed one hoof forward, hitting the surface to almost completely counter his momentum, and then he punched hard with the other hoof, completely reversing the course of his forward motion while turning his body in the direction he wanted to go.

It all happened so quickly it only seemed like he was just kicking off.

Dash pondered it as she continued to duck and weave through the trees.

“OH SHIT!” she yelped as two trees, stuck really close together, appeared before her. She twisted her body to make it as vertically flat as possible, squeezing between the two trunks while only lightly scraping her stomach against one of them. “Whoa…” she sighed in relief, but blinked as she saw a couple of black feathers fall off her arms, body and mane. She glanced back to see black feathers all over the small opening.

She put two and two together.

Oh man… was that where Matteo got stuck? And seeing how fast Dash was going before they appeared… ouch… that HAD to hurt.

She focused back forward as she cleared the last trees and found herself making a turn into yet another new pipe. Just how many of these were there?

“Whoa!” Dash suddenly put on the breaks as she came around the corner. The pipe dipped down… and as it dipped down, it was nearly filled to the brim with water. There was barely a foot of space between the top of the pipe and the water. “What?! Are you KIDDING ME?!” Dash exclaimed as she set down at the edge of the water and frantically looked around.

Storm Front wasn’t there. That meant…

“Ooooo! I will NOT be discouraged!” Dash smacked her hooves against her head and dove right into the water.

Dash wasn’t a bad swimmer, but she wasn’t too stellar either. Driven by her urge to catch up, she swam vigorously through the water, coming up for air whenever she needed to. Here was a place where her training would pay off. Her wings were useless underwater, so she had to rely on her body strength to get through this.

She swam around two turns, one right after the other, and to her relief, this was the shortest pipe yet. She saw the pipe tip back up as she slowly came around the bend. She also caught a view of Storm out of the water and vigorously shaking himself off.

There was a thought… Dash suddenly realized something that made her beyond confused as she clambered out of the water and began shaking herself dry the best she could.

She had seen multiple ponies finish… not one of them looked wet. How?

She stopped thinking so hard when she saw Storm take off to the best of his ability with wet wings and turn the next corner nearby. Dash shook herself out one more time before breaking into a gallop and leaping up while pumping her wings. They felt soaked and heavy, but she would not fall behind.

She rounded the turn right behind Storm into what looked like a simple, straight tube that had absolutely nothing in it. She could hear what sounded like a loud humming noise, but could see nothing in their way. Dash focused down the length of it, determined to get in front.

Then Storm suddenly yelped and fell sharply to the floor, his hooves slamming hard to the ground. Dash’s eyes widened as she suddenly felt an invisible force slam hard against her back. She went shooting downward and barely readied her hooves in time to land cleanly. She forced her head up the best she could, to see the top of this particular pipe was lined with large vents. The vents were blasting air at them with incredible strength. Dash looked back down to see Storm had begun advancing on his hooves down the pipe with quickened but heavy steps.

Unlikely possibilities was right.

Slippery surfaces…

Rubber walls…

A forest…


And now this.

These were situations Dash never thought she’d be in.

She forced her body up and took a few steps, only to get her body forced back down by the air. She had to concentrate here too.

Don’t rush! You’re strong enough to pound through this! What’s the point of all these muscles if you can’t push your way through a little breeze?!

Dash forced her body up, tensing her legs to stabilize as she locked onto Storm ahead of her. She pushed herself forward, first in a staggered walk, then in a strong stride, and eventually she managed to form a slow gallop. Storm had only managed a normal walking pace. So Dash not only caught him, but passed him as they made their way down the straightaway. After taking the lead, Dash felt a surge of adrenaline that made her feel like she could push a train. She broke into a full gallop, making full use of her well-earned strength to get all the way to the end of the vents.

“AH!” she yelled victoriously as she broke free from the powerful air ducts and instantly picked back up into the air.

Oh look… she was all dried off. That explained it.

She gave a quick look to see Storm still struggling through the air. He was stronger than Dash, but it looked like his larger body gave the air more to push down upon. How the hell did Arctic or Derpy get through this part? A mystery Dash would probably never figure out, nor would she waste time thinking about. She turned the corner and dipped down again into…hopefully… the last part of the tube. She was getting tired. This was a bit of an endurance test too.

She turned the corner and flinched as she careened towards her next obstacle.

Exercise balls…

Exercise balls... EVERYWHERE

Dash hovered for a moment as she saw the cacophony before her. It was another straight shot… but the walls were made of the same bouncy rubber as the second tube… and large exercise balls were bouncing ALL OVER THE PLACE.

Dash could place absolutely no reason for this section. It was like Surprise had thrown together a bunch of actual unlikely circumstances… and then got to this point and ran out of ideas.

Not wanting Storm to catch up, Dash stopped hesitating and shot into the pipe of flying balls. It wasn’t cluttered to the max, but the balls were bouncing and flying past her incredibly fast. She pitched and weaved and weaved and pitched, nearing the end of the end of the short pipe and doing all she could to avoid contact with—

“ARGH!” Dash grunted as one of the balls launched up from the floor and directly into her stomach. She flailed as she was forced upward. She knew full well what was coming next. She could do nothing to stop her momentum as her back struck the rubbery ceiling. She bounced back down, then up then down. It was a repeat of the bouncy pipe. She neared the edge again. This was gonna hurt.

“GOTCHA!” Storm dove in… and caught her… for the THIRD TIME. He let her go and sped ahead as the pipe dipped down.

What the hell? Why did he keep saving her? It was actually bothering her now. THIS WAS A COMPETITION!

Dash shot after him, dipping into the pipe. She expected it to be another short drop, but her eyes widened as she looked down into a pipe that extended straight down.

Realization hit. There was only one section of the pipe shaped like this, the dive right before the finish line. Dash glanced back and forth as she dove after Storm. There actually appeared to be nothing special about this pipe. It was merely a freefall to the finish. Dash flattened her body and pumped her wings. She wanted to catch up, but she didn’t have much space to do so. She couldn’t go too fast because she risked slamming into the pipe as it angled out at the bottom.

Dash saw only one option to catch up… and it was a long shot. Storm was already angling out as he neared the bottom of the dive. Instead of slowing down, Dash sped up and angled herself towards the wall of the pipe, opposite of the direction it flattened out at the bottom. This was going to be either the coolest thing ever… or a one-way ticket to the emergency room. Why risk it? Because these were the Wonderbolts watching her!

As the angle of the pipe drew near, Dash forced her wings in opposite directions. The force threw her into Twister’s Spiral Turn. With the twist she was able to angle herself so her back hooves were facing the wall, slightly staggered.

The moment of truth. Storm glanced over his shoulder just in time to see it happen.

Dash gave the wall a hard tap with one hoof and instantly kicked the wall as hard as she could with the other. She launched from the wall at an incredible speed, angling perfectly with the pipe and searing towards the finish line, and still twisting a little from the Spiral Turn. She used the remaining spin in her twist to give her the extra boost she needed for Matteo’s Air Burst. She pumped her wings down; causing a burst of wind that propelled her further and effectively doubled her speed.

The gap between her and Storm closed quickly…

And they crossed the finish line at the exact same time.

The two fired out of the pipe and both threw their wings out to slow down. Finally free of the confined space, Dash felt relieved. That was… BY FAR… the most complicated physical experience of her life…

She blinked as she caught a glimpse of Storm veering around and heading down towards the rest of the cadets who had finished. She glared at him as he passed her. Something in particular was nagging her. She followed after him and the two landed, but before she could say anything to him, they were surrounded by trainers to get checked out.

It’s not like they were going anywhere. Dash had made a mental note to confront him later.

Soarin and Spitfire hovered side by side above the end of the pipe. Soarin glanced at Spitfire as she nodded in approval.

“I’d say that’s the best I’ve seen yet,” she commented.

“Which one?” Soarin asked.

“Both,” she tipped her goggled up and smiled. “Dash may stumble a bunch, but her recovery is always incredible. Not to mention that’s the third move I’ve seen her copy. Storm Front is quite a strong flyer. That bouncing move is something I’ve never seen before. And of course, I’m sure you noticed the last thing about him…” she trailed off. Soarin blinked and thought about it.

“Oh. Yeah.” Soarin realized what she was talking about. Soarin breathed a sigh of relief. He was worried about Dash going in, worried about her little slips-ups, and worried how Spitfire would react. It seemed Spitfire was focusing on more than the overall performance. She was really looking at the little things that set each cadet apart.

Storm Front specifically…

No other cadet had…

Soarin found himself pondering. Spitfire was seeing it. Now he was too. Storm Front was really standing out, just like Dash. Twister and Matteo were really creating a buzz themselves… as well as a couple other ponies. But Storm and Dash were stellar. Especially after this test, and what he saw Storm Front do… Soarin realized he might have a little trouble selecting who would earn the elite spot.

--- To Be Continued ---

Chapter 23: Fathers

View Online

Piercing the Heavens
By: Calm Wind

Chapter 23:

Rainbow Dash floated grumpily through the mess hall, carrying her tray, and looking for one specific pony. Other cadets were instinctively moving out of her way. She was pretty much radiating irritation.

Why did Storm Front save her three times during the crazy pipe flight? Fleetfoot made it clear beforehoof that they wanted to see competition. COMPETITION. As in try to reach the goal before your opponent. As in why the hell would he help her? It made no sense. Dash’s competitive brain was screaming at her to get answers.

Not only that, but Dash was sure it didn’t look good to the Wonderbolts that she needed to be saved three times. She was a tough pony! She could’ve taken a few painful crashes! It wouldn’t have been the first time.

She hovered up to get more of a bird’s eye view. It was still hard to find a specific cadet even though the crowd was considerably thinner since day one. It didn’t help that Storm had a fairly generic color scheme.

Dash spotted Matteo instantly. It was pretty hard to miss him. Dash was in luck. Maybe their earlier teamwork in the fake mess hall had bred some camaraderie, because Storm was in the process of sitting down across from Matteo.

Target locked. Intercept.

Dash hovered back down and quickly made her way over to the table. Matteo glanced as she moved in and tried to greet her, but Dash didn’t even look at him. She slammed her tray down, plopped down in the seat next to Matteo, and glared straight ahead at Storm. Storm blinked as his eyes met the attack of hers.

“Uh… hi?” he greeted quizzically. He and Matteo glanced at each other as Dash took a large bite out of her wheat roll, and chewed it angrily while continuously staring at Storm. “What?” Storm finally asked.

“I’m trying to figure you out,” Dash said with her mouth full of bread. She swallowed and took a swig of her water. “What’s your game? What are you trying to pull?” she sharpened her glare further.

“Wait, are you talking about the test?” he put together.

“No shit Thunder Back!” Dash rolled her eyes. “What was with all of the damsel in distress catching?” she got right to the point. Storm just kept eyeing her and blinking, and then it hit him.

“Wait… you’re angry because… I caught you?” he furrowed his brow. Dash stood up.

“It was a competition! Why would you help me?” she grilled him.


“And come on, do I look like a frail little flower? I can take a few bruises!”

“I just…”

“I don’t need your help to get through this stuff, I can—” she was cut off as Matteo reached over, clamped his talons over her head, and forced her to sit back down.

“Rainbow Dash, calm down. If you want to know so badly, you’ll have to let him speak,” he said while holding her down. Dash huffed, puffed her cheeks, and crossed her hooves, whipping her tail around fiercely behind her to vent her anger while she waited for an answer.

“Thank you,” Storm said to Matteo as he took a deep breath, sighed, and looked at Dash. “First of all, you're welcome,” he said sternly. “And second? I don’t like seeing other ponies get hurt, I—”

“I can take a little pain you know, I’m not a weakling!” Dash lost her restraint and lashed out.

“I DON’T care!” Storm retorted strongly, surprising Dash. “Look,” Storm put his elbows on the table and rubbed his hooves against his temples. “I don’t care who it is, or how tough they are. I hate seeing ponies get hurt. If I see a pony in danger, and it is in my power to save them from harm, I will. It’s a reflex. It’s just who I am, okay? I would’ve done the same for anypony,” he put his hooves down on the table and looked at Dash.

Dash’s expression had changed completely. She suddenly felt terrible. All she could think of was how his actions affected her. His kindness was clear, and she was grateful for him saving her the pain, but all she could see was his actions humiliating her. Humiliating how? Okay, so he stopped her from taking a few blows. Sure, the Wonderbolts saw her slip up, but his actions also gave her the ability to finish the course cleanly… and here she was yelling at him?

“Oh gosh… sorry,” Dash’s ears drooped. “Geez, now I feel like a bitch.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Storm shook his head. “I can see how you may have taken it the wrong way. Now you know why, so no offense taken,” he let it go so easily too. He was too nice. Dash felt like she had just stepped on him and he just let it go?

Storm glanced up at her again as he chewed on some spinach leaves. Dash looked mortified. She was frowning, her ears were dropping as far as they could go, and she stopped eating. Storm quickly tried to change the subject.

“So during the test… I glanced back just in time to see it before the finish line. You used my Surface Tap move. How did you know the steps?” he asked, trying to make her feel better with some praise.

“Heh,” Matteo let a chuckle slip, catching Storm’s attention. “You aren’t the first she’s copied,” he smirked while glancing at Dash. She saw them both staring at her and blushed sheepishly.

“Oh, uh…” she rubbed the back of her head, “I guess… I’m just a fast learner.”

“You used Soarin’s signature move earlier too,” Storm smiled and nodded at her. “You can copy abilities you only see once? That’s quite a talent,” he complimented. Dash blushed a little harder. She loved getting praise. Whenever she got it from other ponies who were also awesome, she never knew what to say. She quickly cleared her throat and puffed her chest out pridefully.

“Thanks! I mean…” she quickly deflated. “Well… yeah I can copy abilities, but I don’t really have one of my own. When I make a sonic boom, the light bounces off my mane and tail to make a rainbow effect… but that’s not really anything special.”

“You think being able to do other new moves on the fly isn’t special?!” Storm chuckled as he threw back some water. Matteo let a snicker go as well.

“As Storm said, that is quite unique,” Matteo took over. “I did some research on the Wonderbolts before traveling here. I wanted to know if they were worth my time. There was an interesting bit about there being only one other pony who had a similar mimicking ability. You are a rare find for them to be sure,” Matteo patted Dash on the back a little hard.

“OOF!” She grunted and almost went face first into her plate.

“Say Matteo, you had a little mishap in the last test,” Storm smirked at Matteo. Matteo’s eyes widened very slightly. “I even saw a bunch your feathers in the tree pipe,” Storm chuckled. Matteo grunted and moved one of his wings to cover the patch of missing feathers on his left side. Dash joined in the friendly jeering.

“Yeah big guy, you were walking all funny afterward too! What happened there?” she nudged him. Matteo sighed.

“I’d rather not talk about it,” he stated firmly. Dash threw her hooves out.

“Aw, come on. I got humiliated by the hoovesy white knight over here. Level with me!”

“Hoovesy white knight?” Storm murmured to himself. Matteo rolled his eyes.

“I hit something you don’t have… really hard… then lost control and got stuck between two trees,” he explained before quickly digging back into his food. Dash blinked, but Storm reacted quickly.

“OOOOO!!!!!” Storm winced and put his hooves between his legs. “I felt it just thinking about it!”

“Huh?” Dash flattened her brow, then her eyes widened and her ears flopped down. “Oh! OH! HA…HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!” Dash fell sideways onto the seat beside her as she cracked up.

“Oh jeez, don’t laugh Dash! You have no idea how painful that… Oooo, and at that speed?” Storm chuckled. “Mares are so cruel," he and Matteo both joined Dash in finding the amusement of the situation.

They all shared a light laugh as Dash glanced up at both of them. She came in here on a warpath, did her yelling and got it thrown right back at her, but she liked these guys. Just as with Soarin, she loved her Ponyville friends to death, but it was very nice to hang with others who shared her direct interests.

Dash looked at Storm specifically, curious about something else they had mentioned briefly the first time she really sat down and talked to him.

“Say Storm, we brought up our parents before…” she didn’t notice, but Storm flinched slightly. “I’m still curious if they knew each other. Where did your parents work? My dad worked at the weather factory on the edge of town and my mother was on the weather team,” Dash finally noticed something was up. Storm’s ears had slowly drooped down while he was talking.

“No, neither of them did those things,” he began before sighing. Before, the topic of parents skimmed right by, but asking specifically seemed to bring up some less than good memories for Storm. “My mom was a cloudscaper… my dad… I don’t know what my dad does,” he looked to the side while putting an elbow on the table and rested his cheek in his hoof.

“Oh, uh…” Dash gritted her teeth. “I don’t mean to pry.”

“It’s alright,” Storm shrugged. “My mom and dad… don’t really get along. In fact they aren’t married. Apparently I was the product of… a drunken night,” he explained. Dash’s eyes widened. This got heavy real quick. “My mom is always yelling and complaining about ‘my good for nothing father, who knocked me up and left me with a son.’”

“So you never knew your father?” Matteo asked straightforwardly. Dash was too nervous to speak. Storm sighed and shook his head.

“No, I saw my dad every month or so. He always flew in when my mother wasn’t around, asked me how I was holding up, dropped a bag of bits in my lap, patted me on the head, and would leave before mom could get home. He stopped showing up about half a year ago,” Storm shrugged and smiled. “My mom can say all she wants about him, but he always came back and always dropped off money for us. I don’t know how he got it, but he cared enough do his part in supporting us. I hope he’s alright.”

“Gee… I… uh…” Dash didn’t know what to say. Storm chuckled and waved a hoof.

“Sorry, depressing sob story. I like to think I turned out fine… I guess the way my dad cared and tried regardless of my mom rubbed off on me.”

“That’s putting it lightly. You’re like… nice guy 101.” Dash found a path to humor and quickly took it.

“Then I am doing something right I guess,” Storm smiled and sat back up straight. Dash smiled back, and then looked at Matteo. She found herself curious here too, and since they were on the subject, why not?

“What about you big fella?” she asked. Matteo blinked and looked down at her. “I bet you were a hoofful when you were younger. What are your parents like?”

“Hmph,” Matteo looked up proudly. “My mother is a lieutenant in the Griffon Royal Guard. My father was the former Master of the Sky.”

“Whoa! Of the Sky Wings!?” Storm reacted before Dash could. How did Dash never know about them? Looks like she was just THAT focused on the Wonderbolts.

“I see you know your griffon history,” Matteo cracked a small smile at Storm. “Correct. My father was once Master of the Sky.”

“Yet they still turned you away?” Dash recalled. Matteo sighed.

“Lineage means nothing in the Sky Wings. Every griffon must earn their honor.”

“But you were… ‘too big.’” Dash pouted in disgust. It seemed so hypocritical. Matteo grunted.

“Their ways are strict. I would not be useful in their combat style,” said Matteo reluctantly. Storm thought over Matteo’s words.

“So you said ‘former.’ Did your dad retire?” Storm asked.

“No. He was killed in combat three years ago.”

Storm flinched hard and Dash spat her water out across the table.

“Whoa! That’s… I’m sorry to hear that…” Dash was caught completely off guard. She fought for words to say, but couldn’t find any. Wow, Dash suddenly felt like she had had an easy life. Storm was an accident and had two parents who never got along… and Matteo’s father was killed?

“Save your sympathy. For a griffon warrior, the only true way to leave this world is to die with a weapon in hand, fighting to your last breath,” Matteo kept his eyes firm, and free of any sort of emotion.

“He’s your father,” Storm bravely stated while giving Matteo a look of disbelief.

“And he died honorably.”

“But he’s your father!” Storm held his hooves out to his sides. “Aren’t you at least a little sad he’s gone?”

Dash blinked and looked between Storm and Matteo. The two had locked eyes. Matteo was glaring daggers at Storm, but Storm was holding firm under the crushing gaze.

“Hmph…” Matteo looked slightly away. Dash certainly wasn’t expecting Matteo to back off first.

“Do not mistake me. It’s not that I feel nothing… I seek something that is forbidden in our kingdom,” Matteo explained while grinding the tips of his beak together. Dash looked up at Matteo, wondering what he was getting at.

“Revenge?” Storm blurted out.

“Revenge,” Matteo repeated and nodded. Dash eyed Matteo with interest. There was so much about the Griffon Kingdom she just didn’t know. Every time he spoke it was like she was being exposed to a whole new culture.

“Was he challenged for the honor of Master of the Sky?” Storm pressed. Matteo shook his head slowly.

“He was killed by a pony.”

“What?!” Dash and Storm exclaimed in unison.

“Yes. A pegasus,” Matteo specified.

A pegasus. A pegasus strong enough to kill the strongest of all griffons… Only one thing came to mind.


Dash shivered as thoughts of Nightshade poured into her head. They never found out what happened to her, but Nightshade was like a nightmare that never truly went away.

Although… Matteo did say his father was killed three years ago. Nightshade may not have even been the captain yet. This is also if it even was a Shadowbolt who killed Matteo’s father. Who knows what other forces might be out there in Equestria… after meeting the Shadowbolts, Dash wouldn’t be surprised if there were others. She didn’t know of the Sky Wings until now after all… Dash was jumping to conclusions. She felt like asking but—

“I do not know their name, or who they represent. The report was returned by a griffon beaten within an inch of his life who died shortly after in the infirmary. Griffon law dictates that revenge is dishonorable. To seek revenge on the killer of a fellow griffon is to tarnish their honor with your own blood,” Matteo slammed a fist down on the table. “But that pony already tarnished my family name by ending my father’s life long before he could bring us the glory he truly deserved. And… as you say Storm Front, he was my father. I refuse to let it just slip by. One day I shall find them, and I shall finish the battle my father started.”

“Hmph…” Storm huffed as he listened. “I don’t question your reasons, but is revenge really worth it?”

“You’d never understand, you are not a griffon,” Matteo calmly retorted.

“Fair enough,” Storm shrugged. The two went back to eating. Dash looked back and forth at the two of them. Those were crazy stories… she had nothing to compare to those.

She started snickering. Both Storm and Matteo looked up at her, confused. Dash saw them looking and her snickering grew louder.

“No! No… it’s nothing…” Dash tried to hold it in, but the snickering turned to chuckling.

“What?” Matteo glared. Dash didn’t even flinch beneath his stare.

“My dad makes rainbows,” Dash said simply before she burst out laughing. Storm blinked and glanced at Matteo before he too started losing his composure. Soon Storm was laughing along with Dash. Matteo blinked and looked between the two. He let a snort escape his nose before even he, the mighty stoic griffon, released a few chuckles of amusement. “You guys… are so interesting. It’s pretty awesome really…” Dash wiped a tear from her eyes as the laughter finally died down.

Soarin made his way across the mess hall towards the dirty tray racks. The sound of a familiar, snarky laugh met his ears. He glanced over at a nearby table to see Rainbow Dash sharing a good laugh with Storm Front and Matteo.

He smiled as he placed his tray into the rack and looked back at them. Dash was having a good time. He had a feeling she would be, but seeing it himself made his heart flutter. He just wanted her to be happy at all times. She was one little bundle of tough, sassy, confident, and competitive. Those were some of the things he adored the most about her. There was plenty more to love… but he was in public and didn’t want his wings to give away his thoughts.

“Excuse me, sir.”

Soarin snapped from his thoughts, realizing he was standing directly in the way of the tray racks while staring at his mare. He moved out of the way to let Wave Chill by before refocusing on Dash.

This was hard. Every time he saw her, he had to resist the untamable urge to rush up to her and give her a big hug. The need to feel her touch was so great that his body nearly ached when he held himself back. He missed the comfort she gave him. It was a comfort he could really use more than ever right now. Especially with all this crap with his inner magic, the “strap-on” horn… he just needed her and—

Soarin blinked and looked towards the mess hall doors just in time to see Wave Chill’s tail disappear through them.

“Wave!” Soarin called, but the door closed. He was so lost in thought about Dash that he had forgotten he wanted to talk to Wave about Spitfire. He just walked right by him too. They had a good chunk of time to spare while squad three set up the last test of the day. It was perfect timing for a talk with Wave that Soarin felt needed to happen sooner rather than later. Soarin moved towards the doors with a quickened trot. He reached forward to push one of the doors open, but right before he could—

“Did somepony call my n—” Wave opened the door from the other side the moment Soarin lunged to push the door.

“WHOA!” Soarin lurched forward and bumped face to face with Wave. Wave grunted and stumbled back a little as Soarin regained his balance and shook his head out about a step outside the doorway. “Damn, sorry about that Wave I AHHHH!!!!!” Soarin yelped painfully as the door closed on his tail behind him. He quickly reached his wing back and yanked the door open, flicking his tail free. “Ooo! Owww!” Soarin groaned while reaching back to his flank, grabbing his tail and blowing air on it.

Wave blinked as he finally recovered from the face smash and wondered what the heck was going on. Soarin wanted to talk to him, but this was one hell of a graceful start.

“S-sir?” Wave addressed Soarin.

Soarin took a deep breath and let his tail drop back down. Soarin had had close calls while flying and had been in battles to the death, but he was more than certain their compound was more likely to kill him first. He’d gone a few weeks now without getting himself into avoidable mishaps. He hadn’t tripped over anything recently in the halls, so that was a start, but his current run was ended by running face first into Wave and then getting his tail eaten by the mess hall.

“Sorry,” Soarin chuckled as he moved up to Wave and put a hoof on his shoulder. “Got a minute?” Soarin asked casually.

“Sir! Yes, s—” Wave stopped and his eyes widened. “Wait… this isn’t about—”

“It’s about Spitfire,” Soarin winked. Wave stared directly at Soarin for five seconds. His left eyelid twitched and his right ear fell down against his head. He quickly turned and started trotting away at a very fast pace. “HEY!” Soarin galloped after him. He moved in front of Wave and placed himself firmly in his path before he could get very far into the hallway. “Seriously Wave… this has to stop. Watching the two of you stumble around awkwardly has been like watching somepony’s face go through a glass pane in slow motion,” Soarin held his hoof out against Wave’s chest as Wave’s eyes darted around for another escape route.

“Um… SIR! I, uh… THERE IS NOTHING WRONG! Er… NO SIR! No way, no how, sir, nope, nadda, nothing, sir, oh man, what am I doing?” Wave let his head droop down. Soarin sighed, reached down, and pulled Wave’s face back up.

“First, look at me. Second, I’m not Spitfire or Silver, drop the formalities. Third, talk to me! Spitfire’s been my best friend for my whole life. You can ask me anything about her!” Soarin offered with a smile. Wave looked away again and Soarin quickly pulled his face back towards him. “What did I just say about that?”

“Sorry sir!”

“And that?”

“I…” Wave gave in. “Sorry Soarin. I just don’t know what to do. So many bad things have happened.”

“Bad things?” Soarin asked while tipping his head. Wave nodded.

“You saw the first… Spitfire… rubbing against me.”

“But that wasn’t even real,” Soarin rolled his eyes. “That’s not bad. Discord’s just an asshole.”

“The effect it had on me though…” Wave continued. “She actually cornered me later to ask me what was wrong… she refused to let it be so I had to tell her about that.”

“Oo…” Soarin winced. “Okay, that’s kinda bad.”

“And if that wasn’t awkward enough, just now before the second test, I ran face first into her… plot,” his ears drooped. Soarin tipped his head back and forth.

“Okay, so maybe a few bad things have happened,” Soarin shrugged. “But what are you planning to do about it?”

“I… I don’t know,” Wave admitted. “I think it would be best if I just let it all go,” he so easily accepted fate. Soarin sighed and shook his head.

“Look Wave, I’m going to speak from experience here. THE WORST thing you can do in this situation is avoid her,” he poked Wave in the chest. “Spitfire is in a funk about this just as much as you are. You have to go to her and try to fix it.”

“Me? But…”

“Wave, mares are strange creatures. We stallions share the same emotions as them, but the way our brains work about those emotions couldn’t be more different. You feel at fault for giving her a nose to the plot, right? Then start by apologizing for that,” Soarin moved beside Wave as he talked.

“But… is she angry at me for that?” Wave had fully given in and was listening intently.

“Hell if I know!” Soarin chuckled. “But it doesn’t matter. Just apologize. Trust me, when it comes to mares, the stallion is always the one at fault. Even if she isn’t angry and knows you did it by accident, go apologize. Calmly, not while running away,” he added with a smirk. “That’s the first step.”

Wave Chill remained silent while staring blankly at Soarin.

“Wave?” Soarin blinked. Wave just sighed and shook his head.

“I can’t do this…” he pulled away from Soarin and began walking down the hallway. Soarin growled. Wave was giving in way too easily.

“Wave Chill,” Soarin trotted with heavy steps around and in front of him again.

“I’m sorry commander, I just—”

“Do you like her?” Soarin cut him off sternly. Wave’s eyes widened at the straightforward question. Yes or no. That’s all Soarin was looking for. Of course, he said neither.

“Captain Spitfire is my superior officer. It is improper for me to—”

“Oh sweet Celestia alive! SHUT UP!” Soarin stomped a hoof, both effectively quieting Wave and drawing a few confused looks from others passing by in the hall. Wave held his lips shut tight. “I’ll ask you again, and I want you to give me a straight up, honest answer… OKAY? Do. You. Like. Her?” he thoroughly emphasized each word.

Once again, Wave stared silently. This time however, it looked like he was actually thinking. He averted his eyes from Soarin. Something Soarin was really getting tired of.

“Y…yes. I do like her.”

“Was that so hard? Then what’s stopping you from trying to make things right?!” Soarin smacked Wave’s shoulders lightly with his hooves. Wave shook his head.

“I’m way out of my league to begin with… I’m not worthy of her.”

“ARRRGHHH!!!!!” Soarin pressed his hooves to his head. “Are you kidding me Wave?” he flattened his brow. Wave looked back and forth.

“I’m not,” he added. Soarin shook his head.

“Don’t give me that bullshit. She’s been enthralled with you since you helped her during the Shadowbolt incident,” Soarin tapped one hoof against the side of the other to make sure his point got across. “Plus, weren’t you just in her room the other night?”

“Er… we were just talking,” Wave tried to dodge the subject.

“You know she never invites anypony into her room besides Fleet and I right? At least not until recently. Keep trying to convince me you aren’t worthy. If you can’t convince the captain, you most certainly cannot convince me,” Soarin crossed his hooves and bounced his eyebrows.

“But… I couldn’t possibly…” Wave stubbornly continued. Soarin sighed and walked around Wave.

“Wave… let me put it this way. You have… one of the most extraordinary mares in the history of Equestria… interested in you. And you are trying to dodge her?”

“She’s not interested in…”

“Stop talking,” Soarin reached a hoof over and placed it firmly over Wave’s mouth. “You have a mare unlike any other within your reach. And you’re avoiding her. I simply cannot see how your brain is putting this together for you,” He removed his hoof from Wave’s mouth. Wave stood still, Soarin’s words circling in his head. “Talk to her,” Soarin continued. “Make things right. I know she’s a big time pony, but be a stallion and make the first move to fix things. Trust me… I’ve been in your horseshoes. The sooner you do it, the less painful the whole thing will be.”

Wave looked down and took a deep breath.

“Fine… I’ll talk to her,” he said with a hint of reluctance, but he at least said it.

“That’s the spirit!” Soarin patted him on the back.

“But maybe later,” Wave added quietly. Soarin looked straight up and groaned.

“Dammit Wave…” he shook his head as the two began walking again.

While Soarin was frustrated with Wave, he couldn’t help but wonder if this was the exact way Spitfire felt back when she drilled him about Dash.

This whole scenario was making Soarin really miss Dash. Fortunately for Wave, the moment following his drilling wasn’t that of a magical tornado… but Soarin hoped he would get a moment similar to the one he had with Dash.

He could remember it like it was yesterday. How frantically Dash stumbled clumsily across the hospital room just to know for sure that he was alive. It was one of the most touching moments of his life. He hoped for the best for Spitfire and Wave. Both of them could use a little pleasure.


Both Soarin and Wave looked up to see Fleetfoot with her back up against the wall as they drew near. She had her eyes locked on them as they stopped and eyed her quizzically.

“What?” Soarin asked, sensing a bad joke. Fleetfoot shook her head and beckoned them along.

“Please keep moving, I don’t want to get drawn in!” she frantically requested with a small smirk curling on the edges of her mouth.

“To what?” Soarin rolled his eyes.

“The two clumsiest Wonderbolts! I dare not make physical contact!” she pressed herself harder to the wall. Soarin scoffed.

“Very funny Fleet…”

“Soarin, tripper of wet floor signs and buckets of water…” Fleetfoot began overdramatically. “Wave Chill, the oblivious walker and stuffer of nose into forbidden places! BACK! BACK I SAY!” she yelled while waving her hooves out in front of her. Soarin flattened his brow and ears.

“Just keep walking…” Soarin said to Wave Chill, but then— “WHOA!” Soarin jumped just in time to avoid a wet floor sign blending in with the blue floor. He glanced back at Fleetfoot, who was snickering while peeling herself off the wall. Soarin puffed his chest out triumphantly as he kept looking at her and continued walking. “Sorry to disappoint you FLEET. But—”

“Commander! Look ou—” Wave chill yelled out.

Soarin walked directly into a folding ladder that was set up to change one of the fluorescent lights in the hallway. Soarin fell into it, got tangled in it, toppled it, and fell to the ground with a loud crash. A toolbox fell off the top of the ladder as it tipped, the tools spilling and scattering all over the floor with loud clangs and clatters.

Wave winced and flinched as he watched Soarin completely wipe out and land in a heap on the floor with his limbs intertwined in the ladder and tools everywhere.

PFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!! HAHAHAHAHAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Fleetfoot immediately burst out laughing. She clutched her stomach and leaned forward so hard that she did a forward roll, landing on her back. She proceeded to guffaw her lungs out while tipping back and forth.

“Uh…” Wave leaned back and forth slightly at the mess in front of him. “Are you okay… sir?”

Soarin lifted his head from the rubble, the open tool box fixed atop his head, held in place by the fake horn. If anything… the new metal headband was as sturdy as Discord said it was. Soarin took a deep breath and sighed as Fleetfoot started log rolling down the hallway past other Wonderbolts while endlessly laughing her hooves off.


--- To Be Continued ---

Chapter 24: Who Killed Who What Huh?

View Online

Piercing the Heavens
By: Calm Wind

Chapter 24:

“Heheeee! This is gonna be perfect!” Fleetfoot giggled snidely as she watched the members of squad two push rain clouds through the battle dome.

She was looking up at a large cubic structure that was being set up in the center of the dome’s infield. It was about fifty by fifty meters and nearly extended to the ceiling. The top was uncovered and squad two was busily pushing dark clouds into it.

Soarin and Spitfire rose up from inside the cube and flew down towards Fleetfoot. Their uniforms had small droplets of water running off the shiny surface of the spandex. Spitfire landed first and looked at Fleetfoot sternly.

“Fleet…” she said with a harsh tone as Soarin landed beside her. “On the report you gave me, you said the third course was going to be Surprise’s Silly Rings course,” she pointed a hoof towards the cube as Fleetfoot scrunched her mouth and looked back and forth. “That—” Spitfire flattened her brow. “Is NOT the Silly Rings course.”

“I don’t even know what the hell that’s supposed to be in there…” Soarin added as he glanced back at the cube himself. “Did Rivet make this?”

“Ehhh…” Fleetfoot’s eyes did a full cycle of looking in every direction, except right at Spitfire. “I made some last minute changes." Spitfire groaned and shook her head.

FLEET, you can’t just do whatever here! These tryouts are important! We’re looking for an ELITE SQUAD replacement while we’re at it too!” Spitfire barked at her. Soarin backed off slightly, knowing full well not to get in Spitfire’s way. Spitfire turned and held out both of her hooves towards the cube. “What the hell is this supposed to test anyway!?”

“Hey!” Fleetfoot huffed as she floated up and around. Soarin stepped back as she came around. “My tests are all about the unexpected! The Silly Rings were just goofy, so I changed it. Trust me! I know what I’m looking for here. I have a scoring system laid out and I’m not gonna give a good score to any dumbasses or idiots… or idiodumbasses…”

Soarin backed away from them casually as Fleetfoot started making up more words for less than satisfactory cadets.

“Okay, I get it Fleet…” Spitfire sighed and rolled her eyes. “If you claim you know what you’re doing…”

“I’m getting a vibe you don’t like this,” Fleetfoot pouted.

“I don’t, but I trust you to do your job, so if you think this will help, I’ll play along,” Spitfire finished before lifting off and going to check in with squad two.

“Sheesh…” Fleetfoot sighed as Soarin continued to edge towards the doors. Fleetfoot looked to her right. “Yo! Threezies!” she yelled while waving. Squad three flew down, all landing before her. “You guys all set?” she asked.

Fire turned to Lightning and Surprise. They both nodded. Fire looked to Misty. He unfolded his wings, stuck out two wing feathers on each, held them to the right, and then swiped them left. The motion for: ready? Misty nodded. Fire turned back to Fleetfoot and smiled.

“We’re all set. Just give the order.”

“Go right ahead, they’ll be here soon,” Fleetfoot winked at them. Fire turned and twirled his hoof once in the air. Surprise bounced giddily before shooting upward, the rest of squad three followed right behind. Fleetfoot rubbed her hooves together in satisfaction. Content with how things were going, she hovered up into the air and glanced around. After a moment she frowned. “Hey! Where’s my little helper?!”

Soarin finally shuffled all the way over to the doors. He looked up to make sure Fleet was occupied, and then unfolded his left wing to reveal the little yellow stallion clinging to his side.

“All clear buddy, go,” he chuckled. The yellow stallion nodded sheepishly and quickly scurried out the door.

The cadets all shuffled into the battle dome quickly and without a single quarrel or mishap. It seemed that Silver Lining’s methods of persuasion had sunk in. He merely stood right inside the doorway with his eyes glaring aimlessly into the crowd and the cadets moved fast and efficiently.

Dash got separated from Matteo and Storm as they all bunched together through the doors, but instead of being left alone she heard a familiar painful grunt.

“Watch where you’re walking Dash… ow…” Thunderlane showed up beside her. He had actually saved Dash the trouble of finding him. She had been curious about how he was doing. He was the first run in the pipe course. He looked like he had been cornered and curb stomped when he emerged. He wore a few bandages and was probably a little bruised (she couldn’t tell because of his black fur), but he was up, walking, and willingly moving towards the final test of the day.

“Nice to see you too, Thunderlane,” She chuckled as they shimmied through the doors with the crowd. “How are you holding up? You look like you flew through a forest fire,” she joked while poking his side. He yelped, moved his wing to block the spot, and glared at her. “Oh, sorry. Bruise?” she grimaced. Thunderlane sighed.

“I think my whole body is a bruise… seriously, I’m pretty sure I hit every freaking obstacle in that pipe. I bet that looked good to the Wonderbolts,” he grunted in frustration. "Oh, I guess I’m fine… to answer your question.”

“At least you didn’t get stuck…” Dash snickered. “Matteo got wedged between two of the trees. The Wonderbolts had to go in and dislodge him.”

“That sounds unpleasant…” Thunderlane shuddered at the thought. “Hopefully this test won’t be quite so bad,” he wondered out loud as the group was stopped by High Winds. Dash and Thunderlane looked up at the massive cubic structure before them.

“Great… more hidden stuff…” Dash leaned her head back and sighed so hard that the motion went down her spine and made her tail flip up once behind her.

“As long as it isn’t painful…” Thunderlane gulped.

“Welcome, welcome, welcome one more glorious time my little cadettas!” Fleetfoot descended from above. “So what we have here…” Fleetfoot motioned behind her. “Is a box!” She didn’t say anything else for a whole minute while just hovering in place, smiling insanely wide, and staring at the cadets with very wide starry eyes.

“What’s in the—” Dash tried to ask, but stopped as Fleetfoot zipped down to her, narrowed her eyes into a very sharp glare. She slowly inched her face towards Dash’s while turning her head slightly to the left and opening her right eye very wide as she stopped less than an inch from Dash’s face.

“Don’t worry about it,” she whispered quietly before slowly backing away and hovering back into the air while keeping the same face and expression the whole way and her eye on Dash. Dash just blinked and decided it would be best not to fight it. Especially since, by now, it was clear NOTHING would be clear as long as Fleetfoot was in charge.

Fleetfoot kept her eye trained on Dash for another few seconds before completely reverting to a goofy smile and wide eyes.

“SO THERE’S THIS BOX!” she giggled again. The cadets were becoming uneasy. Not only was this something else they wouldn’t be able to see before it began… but Fleetfoot was clearly overly excited for it. “You have twenty minutes to solve it!” she said nothing more and just smiled at them.

“Solve what?! Sweet Celestia I’m sick of this!” Thunderlane blurted out, startling Dash as he held his hooves against his head and groaned.

“Hey…” Fleetfoot flattened her ears, brow, and eyelids while locking her eyes on Thunderlane. “Hey…” she closed the distance between them by half. “Hey…” she moved halfway again. “Hey…” and another half. “Hey…” and another half. “Hey…” and another. “Hey… and another. She was now directly in front of Thunderlane’s face. “Hey…” Fleetfoot moved forward again, making Thunderlane recline. “Hey…” she kept moving. Thunderlane was forced to sit. “Hey…” he was forced to lean back so far that he tipped over and landed on his back. Dash just stepped away slightly as she hovered over Thunderlane and got her face as close to him as possible. “Hey… how about… you untie that knot around your nuts… before I feel the need to yank it so tight that everypony will have a different reason to call you ‘Blue Balls?’” she softly landed and stood on top of his stomach while still staring down at him. “Well? You gonna unwind or am I gonna have to choke your two pals?” she threatened. Thunderlane gulped and his face paled, making him appear light grayish. He quickly nodded vigorously. “I’m getting mixed messages here…” Fleetfoot smirked while lifting one of her back hooves up.

“I’LL LOOSEN UP! I’LL LOOSEN UP!!!!!” Thunderlane yelled out. He kept flinching as Fleetfoot made a few fake leg twitches to make it look like she was about to stomp. While Dash found Thunderlane’s unfortunate position to be obscenely amusing, her attention was completely drawn to behind Fleetfoot.

“Mmmm? You sure?” Fleetfoot jeered. “Just to make sure, I might have to—EEP!” she squeaked as she felt hooves press against her sides and lift her off of Thunderlane.

“Too far Fleet,” Soarin’s voice came from behind her. She turned her head around, flopped her ears down and pouted at him.

“But mooooooooooooooooooommmmmmm…” she said while failing to hold back a subtle grin. Soarin rolled his eyes.

“Let’s just get this crazy day finished alright?” he said while suddenly letting go of her. Fleetfoot yelped, but quickly caught the air with her wings.

“Fine… you and Spitfire, seriously,” she huffed.

Dash was glad she was in front and facing away from the rest of the cadets. She couldn’t stop it. Her face was heating up and her smile kept growing wider. Soarin was too sexy. Even with the princess horn, he made it work. Whenever he took command of a situation, it sent chills through her. Whenever they were alone and thing got heated, it always ended with one of them pinning the other down. He could overpower her… but she couldn’t overpower him. Over time she found that she kinda liked it when he held her down and there was nothing she could do about it. She was a pretty strong pony, but he was just that much stronger. It was sinfully delightful.

“Eeeeeeee…” a barely audible, high pitched noise suddenly came from close by. Dash blinked and glanced around until her eyes narrowed on instinct. The noise was coming from two ponies over. The source? Slappy McBitchathon. Dash growled as she saw Arctic Blast swooning out of her own face as Soarin flew back up with the other Wonderbolt squads.

How much longer? How much longer could Dash hold it all back? Arctic was driving her insane. She had to do something soon. Something to get her to back off… or something, she didn’t care. Hopefully, this test was the last of Arctic’s tryout career. Maybe she could reveal it while Arctic was packing up to leave… an extra dose of hoof to the face to go along with failing to become a recruit. The idea sounded dreadfully delightful to Dash. She just had to wait till the time was right. Well, the time better hurry the hell up because she was losing restraint and she was losing it FAST.

“So as I said… we have a big box!” Fleetfoot continued while hovering above. “And you have twenty minutes to solve… WHATEVER IS IN THE BOX!” she turned over and hovered while reclining. “Oh yeah, and you’re going five at a time,” she added.

“Five?” Dash said to herself as she perked up. Was this another test to see if they worked together? Didn’t they already do that?

“Will you work together or will you fight to solve it yourself? I wonder which one we want you to do? Hehehe! I’m such a bitch!” Fleetfoot giggled while doing a forward roll in the air. “Anyway… I have my special semi-intelligent helper right here… Blaze?” Fleetfoot turned around and saw Blaze hovering up and talking to High Winds. Fleetfoot gave a sharp whistle towards her. “BLAZE!”

Blaze stopped talking and turned to look at Fleetfoot.

“You lost the bet remember! Get down here my little servant!” Fleetfoot said with a sinister smile on her face. Blaze uttered multiple incoherent words that were most likely swears as she floated down beside Fleetfoot.

“Reporting,” she said with an eye roll.

“Was I supposed to feel the love there? Come on, like you mean it!” Fleetfoot leaned towards her and smirked.

“I oughtta rip your damn eyes out…” Blaze grumbled quietly.

“What was that?” Fleet pressed while moving closer.

“I said YES MA’AM!” Blaze gave a salute while puffing her cheeks out in anger.

“Good!” Fleetfoot turned back to the cadets. “This time, my little assistant is going to group you together in teams that LIKE each other as opposed to hate each other…” she paused. “What I mean by that is, she’s gonna choose you completely at random again and claim she knows what she’s doing!” Fleetfoot giggled while backing up and placing a hoof on Blaze’s back. “GO, MY NOBLE STEED!” she gave Blaze a firm push forward, sending Blaze into a tumble, tuck, and roll. She stood right back up like she meant to do it and cleared her throat.

“Alright! Everypony DON”T MOVE DAMMIT!” Blaze leapt up and scanned the cadets while hovering in place and holding her hooves on her waist. Her eyes landed on Dash and then moved them about at the others. “Ah, I can sense the love already! You!” she pointed at Dash.

Good, Dash didn’t have to wait this time.

“You!” Blaze pointed at Thunderlane beside her. “You!” Blaze pointed behind Dash. Dash turned to see Blaze was pointing to Derpy beside Storm Front.

Well, so far, so good. Maybe Blaze had a better sense for who got along as opposed to who hated each other.

“You!” Blaze looked towards Thunderlane and pointed again. Thunderlane looked at her while tipping his head in confusion. Dash sighed, nudged Thunderlane in the side, and pointed down beneath his body. Twister was laying down on the ground, intertwined in Thunderlane’s legs.

“GAH!” Thunderlane leapt up and floated away.

Okay, so nopony is perfect. Blaze was three for four at least.

“And... YOU!” Blaze pointed off to Dash’s left. Dash’s nerves fired and she felt all tingly in a foreboding way. She gulped and slowly turned. Her eyes followed Blaze’s hoof, and landed on Arctic Blast.



Zero out of a million, Blaze failed forever.

Matched with ponies they get along with? Blaze couldn’t have gotten further from that fact.

“Well, come on then! Get going! If we’re late to dinner later I’m gonna fucking choke some bitches!” Blaze swiped her hooves towards the cube to get them moving.

“Right over here!” Soarin called from the middle of the cube at its base. Arctic was up and gliding as soon as Soarin beckoned them.

Hell. No.

Dash lifted off and glided close behind her. Derpy, Thunderlane, and Twister followed suit.

“Oh gosh! Soarin!” Arctic landed right in front of him instead of going through the door he had opened for them. She was effectively blocking their way into the cube.

“Er… hi?” Soarin cringed and leaned away.

“I’m sure you remember me?! Arctic Blast, right? Remember? Uh huh! Well, I was wondering, if after the tests today you’d like to—” she talked a mile a minute, but—

“OKAY! Let’s just keep going!” Dash gave her a hard shove from the side. Arctic yelped and tumbled through the doors.

“I hope this one is fun too!” Derpy hopped giddily and she walked in beside Thunderlane. Thunderlane sighed.

“I’m sure looking forward to more bruises…” He flinched as Twister squeezed through the doorway while rubbing up against him.

“Ooo, I like bruises, can I have some?” he asked Thunderlane before continuing in while leaning his head back farther than usually possible. Thunderlane just blinked and held a hoof out.

“What the hell am I supposed to say to that?!” he shook his head and entered. Dash, who had stood aside to let the others in, gave a quick glance to Soarin.

“So what’s in here?” she whispered with a smirk. Soarin cracked a grin and shrugged.

“I only got one look… and to be honest, I have no clue what’s going on in there,” he chuckled.

“Lovely…” Dash sighed while giving him a quick smile.

“Good luck Dashie,” he winked at her.

Her pet name and the wink sent a fun shiver through her body that made her blush ever so slightly. Hold it in Dash, hold it in.

She winked back and moved in. As the door closed behind her, she ran right into Arctic Blast, who was glaring at her. Dash sighed through her nose and tipped her head.

“What?” she asked in annoyance. Arctic scrunched her face further.

“I saw you talking to my stallion! Back off, will you!?” she pressed her hoof against Dash’s chest, but Dash didn’t even budge. If Arctic had any strength in her frail, skinny body, that probably was supposed to be a shove. Dash held it in, but… why not build it up? Arctic was so flakey and out there, she’d never put two and two together.

“What make you think he’s your stallion?” Dash put on a snide smile and turned her head slightly while keeping her eyes trained on Arctic.

“Duh! It was meant to be… Wait, why do you ask?” she blinked and kept glaring. Dash rolled her eyes comically and chuckled.

“Oh… no reason at all.”

“Hey, you two,” Thunderlane interrupted them. “How about we have the cat fight later… have either of you noticed where we are?” he asked. Dash and Arctic withdrew their focus on one another and looked around. Dash groaned.

“Not again…” she sighed. They were in a twelve by twelve foot blank room, just like the start of the second test.

“So what are we gonna do? Don’t we only have fifty minutes?” Derpy pondered while tapping a hoof against her mouth.

“Twenty, silly pony,” Twister appeared in front of Derpy’s face. She yelped in surprise and dove behind Thunderlane. “Heeeehehehe, I can hardly wait for this one…” Twister laughed creepily as he sat down, tucked his legs in, wrapped his arms around them and began bouncing on his plot around them in a wide circle. Dash growled and pushed her way past Arctic.

“Hey, if you’re gonna be all creepy and shit, please direct it at any of us except for Derpy, okay?” Dash requested in defense of Derpy. Twister laughed out loud again while bouncing in place on his plot and making a full 360 turn.

“Oh, relax ‘Dashie’,” he jeered, having apparently heard Soarin. “I’m just having fun until the penguin goes by!” he tipped back and began rolling backwards in uneven intervals like an egg rolling on its vertical faces.

“The penguin? Oh!” Dash blinked in realization. Leave it to somepony wacky to bring her attention to something wacky.

As if on cue, a small door opened up off to the side and a penguin walked out. They all turned and looked at it as it began to casually waddle towards and past them.

These “courses,” if one could even call them that, were designed by Surprise. Things were random, but it didn’t mean there weren’t trends. Dash recalled in both of the earlier trials, the test started right after a penguin inexplicably appeared and walked by. Dash turned away from the penguin, spread her wings and locked her hooves in place. Whatever this was, she’d be ready this time! After all she had seen today, nothing was going to catch her off guard. Thunderlane caught on as he saw Twister do the same. He reached back and gently pulled Derpy forward while motioning for her to get ready. Arctic blinked, glanced at the penguin, and then hopped beside Twister, reading for takeoff as well.


Dash flinched. She loosened up her body and glanced at Thunderlane beside her. Thunderlane was looking at her. They both looked at Twister, who in fact, was looking at them in confusion. All three of them looked at Arctic and Derpy… but they were looking back.

“Good evening, fillies and colts.”

The penguin had stopped… faced them… and was now talking to them in a very stern, refined voice. They all looked at each other and turned to it… none of them, not even Twister, sure what to do or say if anything. The penguin cupped his flippers together and gave them each a nod before continuing.

“Tonight, through the medium of a silly pony’s imagination, we present a murder mystery condensed from authentic criminal record. It is my sincere purpose in exposing the brutal killer involved in this horrible case… to prove to YOU beyond the shadow of a doubt… that crime does not pay,” The penguin paused and took a breath. “Our story begins on a dark and stormy night…”

The five ponies yelped as the floor suddenly lurched. The wall behind them, opposite of the entrance, fell backwards revealing… an open area that looked like it was outside. Thunder boomed and lightning cracked as rain fell from above. The ground was hilly and muddy, thick and sticky from the rain, a sign that read “Gruesome Stables” pointed away from their spot and a single stone path winded around the elevations towards a spooky mansion in the distance.

All they could do was stand and stare.

Scratch that.

Dash was caught completely off guard and had no idea what she was looking at.

“What the flying f—” Dash turned back towards the penguin but it was gone. In its place was a small scrap of paper. They all turned and looked at it, still bewildered beyond comprehension. Dash gulped, stepped forward and picked up the piece of paper. She turned it over to see a small message, and read it aloud.

“Solve the murder mystery to find the way out.” – Fleetfoot & Surprise

Dash blinked, then growled and crumpled the piece of paper up.

“You know what?! No. Forget it, I’m not asking any questions!” Dash tossed it aside and huffed. Another piece of paper floated down and landed on her nose. She reached up, and turned it over.

“P.S. twenty minutes. Get moving.” – Fleetfoot

“Dammit…” Dash turned to the rest. “Well, come on. There’s no use trying to figure this out. Let’s just go.”

“Where?” Thunderlane shrugged while looking out into the storm. Twister started chuckling beside him.

“Where?! Why… there’s only one place to go!” he pointed at the mansion. “They even have ME surprised! I wonder what’s in store!” Twister leapt out into the rain and flew towards the mansion. Dash looked to the rest.

“Well, it’s not like we have a choice. Let’s go,” she motioned for them to fly. Derpy and Thunderlane took off after Twister, but Arctic stayed put. “Well?” Dash looked towards her sternly.

“But… I’ll get my mane all wet!” Arctic whined while backing away from the new opening in the wall. Dash blinked and sighed before growling as she stomped towards Arctic.

“DEAL WITH IT!” Dash yelled into Arctic’s ear as she got behind her and pushed her towards the rain.

“No! No! No! No!” Arctic flailed and wailed as Dash effortlessly pushed Arctic’s lack of weight along. “AAAAIIIEEEEE!!!!!!!!” She screeched as Dash just grabbed her and began flying through the rain.

She really wanted to just leave Arctic there to stew and get nothing out of the trial, but Fleetfoot had purposely made it unclear whether or not this was a competition or a team oriented exercise. Dash didn’t want to take the chance, so she forced Arctic along with her.

The spooky mansion grew closer and closer as the rain pelted against them, the lightning flashed above them, and the thunder boomed around them.

Just… what the hell was this test for?

Rainbow Dash, Thunderlane, Derpy, Twister, and Arctic all flew quickly through the dark thunderstorm and landed at the front door the spooky mansion. The mansion was fancily constructed with a large center building with visible balconies sticking out from upper floors on both sides. The front entrance had long pillars reaching the full height of the building and the entryway led up to a large wooden door.

The entryway provided slight protection from the rain, but the wind was blowing little droplets at them from the side. Taking command of the situation, and letting Thunderlane deal with Arctic’s complaining, Dash reached up and gave the door a few heavy knocks.

After turning and yelling at Arctic to shut the hell up a few times, they all flinched as the door opened.

“My, what have we here?” An old looking stallion stuck his head out from inside. They all looked up at him in confusion. The pony was white, with a white, scraggily, long mane. He balanced a pair of circular rimmed glasses on the end of his nose and had a big white bushy moustache that only covered his upper lip. He wore a robe that was mostly bright red, but had about two inches of black fabric on the cuffs, collar, and bottom end of the robe each. “What are a bunch of fine young ponies doing out in this terrible storm? Please, come in quickly,” the stallion opened the door fully and bid they enter.

“Uh…” Dash looked at the rest, who were all frozen in utter confusion. “Okay?” Dash shrugged and walked in. She stopped halfway through the doorway and turned back to the rest. They were all still just standing still. “Well, come on guys! Let’s get out of the rain!” she beckoned them. Twister blinked and stepped in first. It was interesting to see Twister so confused. He seemed able to control reality around him to an extent, much like Pinkie Pie and Surprise, but more than once now, Dash had seen him easily defeated or confused at something. Perhaps he was an amateur just as Fleetfoot had said.

With Twister’s entrance, the other three swallowed their confusion and did the same.

“Yes, please do come in, it’s dreadful outside,” the stallion nodded and closed the door behind him.

They all stood in the doorway, instinctively letting the old stallion walk ahead of them before moving any further. The house was very dimly lit, the only source of light coming from around the corner in the hallway. Right beside the entrance were two large suits of pony armor both holding halberds.

They followed the stallion down the dark hallway to the right of the entrance. The carpet below their hooves felt solid, almost worn down as if it hadn’t been replaced in years. The walls were covered in dusty old paintings, most of which had faded so much that one could barely tell what it was supposed to be. The corners of the ceilings and the spaces between statues and sculptures were littered with spider webs.

Arctic had forced herself between Twister and Thunderlane and was whimpering the whole time. Dash rolled her eyes as they walked. She doubted Arctic was actually scared. She was probably more worried about getting dust in her mane than anything.

As they followed the stallion, they all froze and looked at a large painting in the center of the hallway. The canvas was entirely black and the words “Spooky, Isn’t it?” was written in large white letters on it. They all glanced between each other, shrugged it off, and kept following. None of them had any idea what was going on, but there was clearly some joke going on here.

They followed the old stallion around a corner and into a large, wide open room. The walls of the room were actually bookshelves that extended from the floor all the way up to the ceiling. Each section had a rolling ladder attached to it. There was large window, as tall as the wall itself between the two bookshelves on the right. Its long white curtains were closed, but the lightning shone through, slightly illuminating the room with each flash. In the center of the room was a large tapestry of a pony dressed for war. It looked to be centuries old. Below the tapestry was a large fireplace that provided the only light that had shown around the corners upon entering. A single, large, comfy looking chair sat facing the fireplace and beside it was a table with an empty glass.

“Please make yourselves comfortable… you can wait out the storm here, and be on your way,” the stallion smiled at them before taking a seat in the chair. Dash and the others slowly entered the large room, still trying to figure out what the hell was going on. The piece of paper said, ‘solve the murder mystery.’ Did that mean something was about to—

Dash quickly turned her head towards the back of the chair the stallion sat in. The words, “the victim” were flashing on the back of the chair. Dash blinked and looked to her fellow cadets, but they were all equally confused.

Suddenly a knife flew in from nowhere, if hurled past all the cadets and stuck to the wall right beside the fireplace. It had come nowhere near the cadets, but it sure had startled them. The old stallion jumped as well, quickly standing up from the chair.

“I say! What the devil is that!?” he stood up and shuffled towards the knife sticking in the wall. There was a note attached to it. It read:


“Goodness!” The stallion flinched as Dash and the others slowly approached. “I can’t die tomorrow!” the stallion exclaimed. Dash and the others yelped again as a second knife, about three times smaller than the first, flew in and stuck to the wall beside the first. It also had a note dangling from it. This one read:


“Oh my…” the stallion gulped. He quickly turned to the five cadets. “This is terrible! We mustAAAARRRGGGHH!!!!!!!!!” the stallion suddenly reared back and cried out in pain. He fell forward and began stumbling around. Dash quickly backed off, Derpy yelped and hid behind Thunderlane. Twister jumped back and ran into Arctic. Arctic got pushed slightly up, and spread her wings to catch herself in the air. She looked down at the stumbling stallion and shrieked.

There was a knife sticking out of his back. Dash gasped, she and the rest noticed it too as the stallion turned sharply to their right and stumbled towards the window. He grunted and groaned in pain as he fell towards the curtains. He clutched them with his hooves as he fell, yanking them off their rail above, and pulled the curtain down. He fell to the ground below the window and tried to crawl along the floor. He managed to turn himself around and face them, giving off one last breath before dropping lifelessly. The five all stood in shock as the curtain slowly floated down and landed on top of him, covering him up. The fire in the fire place blew out, leaving them in the dark.

Dash couldn’t breathe.




Was going on?

If this was a prank, it was a damn realistic one.

Suddenly, lights came on, a door swung open on the other side of the room, and a white mare burst through the door. She wore a blue suit with a light blue vest and white undershirt. The entirety of her mane was stuffed into a bowler hat. She had incredibly thick black eyebrows and a massive cigar sticking out of the corner of her mouth.

“WHO DID IT?!?!?!” she yelled in a voice rather gruff for a mare while opening the jacket to show an overly large gold star badge.

“EVERYPONY STAY WHERE YOU ARE!!!!” she ordered while glaring at the five of them.






The mare heavily adjusted her suit before walking towards the cadets with a very heavy stride. She gave each of them a long, hard look before approaching the curtain. She shook her head and pulled out a camera. She aimed it at the curtain covering the body, but right before she took the picture, the old stallion suddenly sat up straight, held a top hat beside his chest, turned his head to the side and smiled. Right after the camera flashed, the stallion laid back down, dead.

The mare flinched and stared at the covered body in confusion and, of course, the five cadets saw it too. Dash blinked and realized she was worried for nothing. This was obviously a set up… but she had to wonder, who were these ponies?

“YOU FIVE!” The mare turned to them. Dash and Twister remained calm, but Thunderlane, Derpy, and Arctic all flinched. “What took you so long!? I called for backup hours ago!” she barked in their faces, moving between each of them and pressing her nose to theirs. Dash shook her head out after getting her personal space violated.

“Uh…” Dash tried to put up a hoof, but the mare appeared in front of her and forced it back down.

“NO TIME! I’m gonna check around the outside of the house! You look for clues in here!” she ordered. Before they could say anything, the mare was heading back out the door. It slammed behind her.

They all looked around, at each other, around, and at each other again.

“Well, I ain’t falling for this,” Dash shrugged. “Let’s just play along and…” Dash blinked and stared towards the curtain. The body was gone. “SEE!? We’re being played! Come on everypony… yes, even you Arctic,” Dash glared specifically at her. She huffed and crossed her hooves.

“So what do we do?” Thunderlane scratched his head while looking around. Twister suddenly started chuckling to himself again.

“Heheheh…” he grinned. “They had me going for a second… but this is fun! Time to outsmart them!” he snickered while flying up and looking around the room.

“What he’s doing,” Dash said to Thunderlane while pointing at Twister. “The instructions are: solve the murder mystery. So, let’s solve it. I dunno what the hell this has to do with the Wonderbolts, but we’re in here, we might as well play along,” Dash shrugged before walking around the room herself.

The ponies all dispersed, save for Derpy, who sat in the middle of the room, confused. She blinked, her eyes switching positions before she caught a glimpse of something on the table beside the chair facing the fire place. She didn’t want to get in anypony’s way, but it looked like nopony else had noticed it.

She stood up and trotted towards the table. Something new was on its surface. There was a button on it, with a label above it that read: “Ring bell for suspects.” Derpy tipped her head back and forth while eyeing the button curiously. She glanced around at the others one more time before slowly reaching a hoof towards it.

She pressed it and a loud ringing noise sounded throughout the room. She flinched in surprise and removed her hoof from it. At the same time three ponies suddenly popped up from behind the table. One was white and bald stallion, dressed like a butler. The second was a white mare with a black, bowl shaped mane, dressed like a maid. The third was light blue and dressed like a chauffeur with his mane hidden beneath a cap. Derpy yelped and hopped back in surprise.

The three ponies were all hunched over with their hooves up in a scheming manner. They all wore identical scowls and their eyes looked back and forth in synch. Dash and the others quickly noticed the scene Derpy caused and rushed down beside her. Dash blinked and saw the button on the table, then looked towards Derpy, who looked a little spooked. Her fur was puffed out and her wing feathers were all frizzy. Dash patted Derpy on the shoulder and smiled.

“Nice find Derpy,” she complimented. Dash made a move to confront the “suspects” but before she could, Twister slipped in front of her and slammed his hooves down on the table.

“OKAY…” he pointed at them. “WHICH ONE OF YOU MUGS BUMPED OFF THE OLD COLT?!?!” he demanded. “WHO DID IT!” he slammed his hooves on the table again.

All three of the ponies suddenly put huge smiles on and put their hooves behind their backs as they leaned forward.

“OOOOOHHHHHHH, NOW WOULDN’T YOU LIKE TO KNOW?!” they all said in unison while leaning so far forward that they knocked Twister over. They instantly pulled back and retook their sinister poses. Dash sighed and stepped forward, pointing at them.

“One of you bums is guilty of killing this guy!” she glanced between them all.

Dash hadn’t read many mystery novels… in fact she hadn’t read many novels besides Daring Do, but Daring Do sometimes solved mysteries. What could she do to get some evidence? Then she had a thought. She smirked and looked back at the three ponies.

“I’m gonna turn out the lights!” she barked at them. “And when I turn ‘em back on, I wanna see the knives, RIGHT ON THIS TABLE!” she pounded her hooves on the table. She made a motion to Thunderlane. Thunderlane looked around and saw a light switch by the entrance of the room. He trotted over and looked back towards Dash. She gave him a nod, and he turned out the lights.

With the room pitch black, the sound of something hitting the table echoed throughout the room.

“Hit it, Thunderlane,” Dash called through the darkness. Thunderlane flipped the lights back on. They all yelped in surprise. Dash looked back at the table. Her eyes widened as she saw some knives, but then there were so many knives stacked on the table that the stack reached all the way up to the ceiling. Dash squeaked and jumped back slightly, eyeing the massive stack of knives up and down. She glared at the ponies across the table, who were still stuck in their sinister poses. “ALRIGHT! Cut out the funny stuff!” she looked back towards Thunderlane. “Let’s try it again!” she nodded.

Thunderlane flipped the switch and the room was dark once again. There was no noise this time.

“What the… Thunderlane! Back on!” Dash yelled. Thunderlane threw on the lights.


The three ponies had vanished, along with everything else in the room. The table, the chair, the curtains, the tapestry and even every single book was gone from the tall shelves.

“What…?” Dash blinked as she looked around.

“This is stupid…” Thunderlane sighed and sat down. “How much longer do we have? Ten minutes?” he complained. Dash turned to him and flattened her brow.

“Come on Thunderlane, I don’t think they’d like that mindset,” Dash shook her head. “If they wanna prank us, I’m beating the prank!”

Dash began examining the room. Twister hopped up to get a better look at the shelves. Thunderlane grumbled and started looking around himself with Derpy following behind. Arctic just stood still and scoffed, not particularly interested in helping. She was standing beside the door the police mare initially came through. It was slightly ajar, but then suddenly closed with a light click. Arctic blinked and looked at the door. She glanced at the others, but none of them seemed to notice. She looked at the door again and her curiosity got the better of her. She faced the door, and slowly cracked it open, peering inside. There was no light in the room. She couldn’t see a thing, but then suddenly, the sharp noise of somepony hocking up saliva followed by a sharp spit. A loogie came flying out of the dark and hit Arctic right in the eye.

“AH! EW! EW! EW! EW! EW! EW! EW!!!!!!!!!!!!” She slammed the door shut and frantically backed away from the door while rubbing her hooves against her eyes. The others all looked towards her. Dash was quick to roll her eyes before gliding over.

“What are you wailing about now?” she asked, unamused. Arctic pointed towards the door with one hoof while continuously rubbing her face with the other.

“Somepony is in there! They spat on me!” she whined before crying out in anguish again. Dash looked towards the door, but once again Twister was already on it. He placed himself in front of the door and cleared his throat.

“I’ll give ya to the count of three to get out here!” Twister yelled in a voice deeper than his usual voice. “One! Two!” the door swung open and a large, ghostly image of a pony stepped out, looming over him. “Threefourfivesixseveneightnineten…” Twister turned pale and his voice got higher as the ghostly image grew larger before him. Derpy shrieked and was instantly running out of the room. Thunderlane called after her and followed. “eleventwelvethirteenfourteenfifteen…” Twister’s voice cracked as he backed away. The image glared at him and began to bend down. Twister ran into Dash, who ran into Arctic. “sixteenseventeeneighteennineteentwenty!!!!!” Twister squeaked.

The ghastly image began falling towards them. Dash quickly grabbed Arctic and Twister around their necks she hoisted them up and kicked off the ground, firing them towards the entryway of the large reading room. They tumbled to the ground outside the room as the ghost flopped to the ground the image burst into little puffs of cloud.

“OH MY GAWD!” Arctic pushed herself up out of Dash’s grip. “WHAT THE HELL IS ALL THIS?!?!?!” Dash quickly got up and shoved Arctic against the wall of the hallway.

“OKAY, LOOK DINGBAT! They are obviously playing a prank on us to see how we handle the situation! I’m NOT gonna let you drag us down, GOT IT?! Now quit moaning and groaning and HELP us figure this out!” she said sternly. Arctic yelped and nodded quickly. Dash turned to Twister. “Twister, we need—” Dash blinked and looked around. Twister was gone. “Son of a…” Dash groaned.

Great. Not only were they separated from Thunderlane and Derpy, but now Twister had disappeared on her too. Now she was stuck with Arctic.

“Rgh…” Dash growled to herself as she released Arctic from the wall. “Listen, I hate your guts, but right now, I need help figuring this out, and if you want to get a good score on this…”test”… then you better start helping!” she glared right into Arctic’s eyes. Arctic pouted.

“Hmph! Fine.”

“Now let’s go. We need to either find more clues, or find our friends,” Dash explained as they began walking through the halls. They turned the corner through the main hall and past the front door, taking a path down a different hallway they at first avoided upon entering. Arctic stopped as they moved, eyeing a closed door on the right wall.

“Look!” she pointed while approaching the door. Dash stopped and turned back. Arctic found a door, good at least she was doing something. Dash felt better having Arctic opening mysterious doors, who knew what was behind them?

Arctic opened the door… and shrieked. Dash backed off and moved around to see what she was looking at. It was only a broom closet… but there was the body of a white mare with no mane in the door, standing up on its hind legs. Its arms were flat against its body, tied up with ropes. Its mouth was covered by a cloth tied around its head. It fell forward and on top of Arctic, knocking her to the ground and exploding into little clouds upon hitting her. Arctic looked up and shrieked again, seeing another tied up, maneless, white mare was behind the first. That one fell on her too and also exploded into clouds. Then there was another behind that, and another behind that, and another behind that. Fake mare bodies began falling endlessly out of the closet and slamming against Arctic as she screamed. Each one bursting into little clouds as they fell.

Then suddenly, they stopped. Arctic peeked up at the door, but one of the bodies had stopped right in front of her. It opened its eyes, forced one of its tied hooves up and pulled the cloth off its mouth while smiling.

“OH YES! QUITE A BUNCH OF US, ISN’T IT!?” the mare said in a comical tone before it slammed against Arctic and the fake mares endlessly fell on her again.

Dash freaked out when the first one fell but as they started falling and as she realized they were fake… she just rolled her eyes. This was definitely the kind of silliness Fleetfoot or Surprise would partake in.

The false bodies finally stopped falling, leaving Arctic in a shivering mess on the floor. Dash sighed, reached down, and pulled her up.

“Arctic… they aren’t real, none of this is,” Dash smacked her on the back of the head. Arctic blinked and took a deep breath before groaning uncomfortably. Dash looked back into the empty closet. Her eyes widened as she saw the back of the closet open like a door and a large bucket being held by a pair of hooves appeared. Dash quickly backed away.

A splash of red liquid came flying out of the closet and floored Arctic in the face.

“AAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!” she screamed as she looked herself all over. “IT’S BLOOD?!?!?!?!?!” she keeled over and fainted.

Dash, again, stared wide eyed for only a moment before she sniffed the air. She looked at Arctic, puzzled. She approached Arctic, bent her neck down, and sniffed the liquid dripping off of her.

Cranberry juice.

Oh, Dash could only imagine how much of a kick Fleetfoot was getting out of this right now. They were probably all outside the cube with their x-ray goggles, laughing their plots off.

Dash looked back to Arctic and shook her head. Forget it. Arctic was NOT helping. Dash looked around, but found nothing she could comfortably leave Arctic on. Then she realized… she didn’t give a damn about Arctic, so Dash grabbed her by one of her back hooves and dragged her along the ground, and slid her roughly up against the opposite wall. She didn’t need Arctic slowing her down.

Dash continued on through the hallway and turned another corner into another large room, a cylindrical living room to be precise. It was very wide open and even had a staircase that led up to the second floor wrapping around the back wall as it moved up. Dash perked up as she saw a small trap door close on the floor in the middle of the room.

“Ah ha!” she dove towards it, gliding across the room quickly, and running head first into another pony who had apparently spotted it. “Ow!” Dash yelped and stumbled backward. She shook her head out and looked up to see Twister standing before her, also shaking his head out. “Twister?!” Where the hell did you go? He smirked and shrugged.

“That little ghost trick was sick! I had to see if I could catch the ones doing it, but alas… no luck. I followed them here, and saw the trapdoor…” he crouched down and hissed at Dash. “It’s MINE!”

Dash reclined and blinked, and then realized something.

“Fine, go ahead and open it,” she shrugged. If she learned anything from Arctic, it was not a good idea to open random doors in this mansion.

Without hesitation, Twister grabbed the small ring handle and yanked the trap door open. There was nothing but a circular hole in the floor beneath it. Dash floated around to get a look herself as Twister eyed it quizzically. It appeared to be deep, but it that was only because there was no light coming up from below. She was curious about how far down it went, but she wasn’t going to take any chances.

Before she could say anything, Twister got up and glided over to a wall. He grabbed a glass vase off a table, poured the water and the dead flowers out of it, and glided back over to the hole. He held it up over his head and threw it down into the hole. Dash shrugged and held her ear up to listen for a crash. Twister looked down into the hole… but no crash came.

“Hm…” he tipped his head as he kept staring down the hole, “This is peculi—“ the vase came flying down from above and shattered against the back of his head. He tipped forward and began leaning into the hole. Dash quickly jumped around, grabbed his back hooves and pulled him out of the hole. The two tumbled backwards and landed in a pile. Twister rolled off while rubbing the back of his head. “Oh… they’re good… they’re good alright…”

“They’re toying with us!” Dash growled while smacking her hooves against the floor. She got up and looked around. “They’re drawing our attention to things and using them to play tricks on us!”

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t impresssssed,” Twister chuckled while rolling back and forth on the ground.

“Get up you crazy bastard,” Dash ordered as she walked towards the one of the curved walls in the room. “We gotta stop playing into their hooves… we gotta look for our own clues, not follow their trail of crumbs…” she glanced at a painting on the wall. “For instance… we’ve gotta check things… places they might be hiding stuff…” she trotted up to the painting, grabbed it, and unhooked it from the wall. She looked behind it, but all she saw was an outline of the painting frame that was free from the rest of the dust, and within the less faded spot of wall was written:

“Well~ What did you expect to see back here?!” in thick permanent marker. Dash blinked, then scrunched her face and growled.

Then a door closed across the room. Dash looked back and saw Twister already going for the door.

“Twister wait!” Did he even listen to her just now?!

Twister opened the door, but instead of a prank, he came face to face with a pony wearing a full body black robe and a matching black executioner’s mask. Dash froze in her path and Twister took steps back. The pony was holding a knife and slowly moving it towards Twister.

Twister instinctively turned and took off, flying up the stairs against the wall towards the upper floors. Dash looked down and saw the pony go right back into the door.

“Twister, wait!!!!!” she called as she rose up to the small balcony that overlooked the living room. She got to the top just in time to see Twister run directly into the black clothed pony again. Dash looked down, and then back up. How did the pony get up there so fast?! Twister yelped and did a full reverse, gliding back down the stairs. Dash moved in to intercept and the two roughly collided. “OOF!” Dash grunted as she stopped him with her body. “TWISTER! COOL IT!”

Twister blinked, shook his head out and looked around. A moment later his smirk returned.

“Heh..heheheheeehoohaaa… they startled me pretty good there…” he suddenly scrunched his face. “But now it just feels like I’m being messed with… and I can only take so much before—” he looked over Dash’s shoulder. Dash turned around and saw the door at the base of the staircase. It was just a plain door last time she saw it, but now it had a wreath hanging on it with a sign in the center that read:

“Do not open until Hearths Warming.”

Dash rolled her eyes. Did they really think she was going to fall for that one?

“Oh, that does it!” Twister pushed Dash aside. Dash groaned and backed off. Apparently they knew somepony was going to fall for it.

Twister grabbed the door knob and began pulling. The door didn’t budge. He growled and began yanking at the door harder. It swung open and he made a charge for it before anything could pop out and surprise him… but he ran directly into the face of another pony. The pony didn’t budge as their face’s collided, but Twister bounced off and stumbled back a step.

The pony was much larger than Twister in both height and girth. He was light blue, wore a bright red and white fluffy coat, a red and white winter hat with a white pompom at the end, and a big black belt around his waist. He had a white bushy mustache and a very large and bushy white beard. He looked just like Santa Hooves… and Santa looked PISSED OFF. He leaned down and glared into Twister’s confused face.

“Listen, Doc…” he snarled. “Can’t you READ?!” Santa slapped Twister across the face, forcing him to turn around, and then gave him a swift kick in the plot, sending Twister tumbling away from the door.

Dash yelped and ducked as Twister bounced over her and landed on the trap door in the center of the room. He blinked and sat upright as Santa slammed the door. The sign that said “Do not open until Hearths Warming” now had the word “DAMMIT” written at the end, circled and underlined.

Dash heard a yelp from Twister. She looked back just in time to see the trapdoor had opened beneath him and he fell into the hole.

“Twister!” Dash yelled as she jumped over and looked into the dark pit. She cringed as she heard multiple painful crashing noises. It sounded like somepony was falling through multiple shelves filled with china plates. However after a couple of seconds, the crashing noises kept coming. Dash tipped her head, wondering if just how much one could crash into. Then suddenly she looked up and saw Twister tumbling down the steps coming from upstairs. Dash’s expression went completely blank as he bounced off the last step and landed in a heap on the floor in front of her. Twister lifted his head up and looked around.

“I’m so confused… I don’t think I’ve ever been confused before…” he said as his ears flopped down. Dash looked up and saw the pony dressed in black at the top of the stairs. She had had enough.

“YOU!” She yelled as she lifted off and fired towards the second floor. Dash’s eyes widened slightly in surprise as the pony turned and a pair of yellow wings extended from the black robe. It was a pegasus. The pony took flight down the winding corridors of the mansion. Dash pitched and turned through the cramped hallways. Whoever this pegasus was, they were really good.

Twister skidded to a halt in an approaching hallway, cutting off the pony. The pegasus took a sharp right down another hall. Dash and Twister gave chase, flying side by side. Dash pointed towards the pony. Twister glanced at her and nodded. Dash broke off down a different hallway as Twister chased the pony around and back down the stairs. Twister chased the pony into the main hall and towards where Arctic was still out cold. Dash turned the corner from inside the reading room, down the hall leading to the front door, and slammed her hooves down, sliding to a stop and effectively baring the pony’s path between her and twister. There was only one avenue of escape, the stairs beside the front door. There was just enough space to squeeze between the banister and the ceiling. The pony leapt for it, but—

“GOTCHA!!!!!” Thunderlane’s voice came from the stairs. He and Derpy dove out over the banister and tackled the pony back to the ground, holding them down firmly. Twister came up and helped them as the pony squirmed beneath them.

“Huh? WHA?!” Arctic suddenly awoke and saw the other four all piled on top of a disguised pony. She freaked out when she saw the cranberry juice stains all over her, but Dash just ignored her as she focused on the hooded pony.

“Now we’ll see who did it!” she reached forward and yanked. The hood off the pony.

They all froze. Derpy, Thunderlane, and Twister all instantly let go. Dash blinked.

“Misty Fly?!” Dash exclaimed.

Misty sat on the floor, still donning the black robe. She smiled at Dash and waved.

The sound of clapping hooves came from the hall heading towards the reading room. Around the corner stepped the butler, the maid, and Santa hooves.

“You know, I never thought anypony was actually going to catch us! You are quite something Miss Dash.”

That voice… and the “Miss Dash…” it was unmistakable. The pony reached up and pulled off a bald cap. A bright red and orange mane poofed out from beneath it. It was Fire Streak.

“Fire?! What… wait…” Dash looked at the other two. The maid began giggling uncontrollably. She removed her headpiece and a bright yellow mane sprang out along with the sound of party horns. “Surprise?” Dash blinked. “That means…” she looked at Santa. Santa belched, and before he could remove anything— “Lightning Streak…” Dash placed it. The belch was all she needed.

“So this was all an act?” Thunderlane asked. Surprise burst out laughing.

“OF COURSE IT WAS! Silly!” she giggled. “We do lots of comedy routines you know! We’re pretty good actors!” she smacked Fire Streak hard on the back. “He’s pretty good at dying wouldn’t you say?” she pointed at Fire. Fire shrugged.

“I also played the old stallion,” he explained.

“I was the chaffer…” Lightning waved. Fire rolled his eyes.

“That’s… CHAUFFEUR, dear brother.” Fire corrected.

“I also did the gruff cop, the big ghost, and the fake bodies!” Surprise bounced up and down. “And doesn’t Misty make an awesome silent killer?”

“Uh…” Dash glanced at Misty, who was still giving a cheerful smile.

“WHICH ONE OF YOU SPIT ON ME?!” Arctic demanded as she stepped over to the rest of the cadets. Squad three looked about each other and began averting their eyes. Surprise zipped up and got in arctic’s face.

“Don’t ruin our fun,” she said in a dead serious voice before slowly lowering to the floor and crawling over to Twister. “By the way… you’re gullible as hell!” she giggled before bouncing back over to the Streak twins. Misty stood up from her spot and joined them as well. Fire smiled at the cadets.

“Well… you just barely did it in time. Nineteen minutes! Good work… now please don’t ruin the surprise for anypony else,” he suddenly slammed his hoof against the floor twice. “TRAPDOOR NUMBER SEVEN!” he yelled into the floor.

“Huh? WHOA!” Dash yelped as the floor opened beneath all of them. They fell into a small tube slide and began careening down dark pipes.

“WHOOAAAAA!!! OOF!” Dash flew out of the slide and landed flat on something soft. She quickly looked up to see she was no longer inside the cube, rather now on the other side of it. She had landed on a very soft, large mat. Before she could get up—

“EEEEEEE!!!!!” Arctic came flying out of the slide and landed right on top of Dash. “Huh?!” Arctic looked up and frantically glanced around. Dash cringed, feeling the stickiness of Arctic’s fur from the cranberry juice spilled on her.

“Get offa me!” Dash yelled while pushing her wings up to knock Arctic off her back and tried to stand.

“YIIIKES!!!!” Thunderlane fell out next and slammed into Dash’s back, pushing her back down. Unlike Arctic, Thunderlane actually had some meat on his bones, so Dash was forced down roughly and her face smushed into the mat. Thunderlane realized how and who he landed on and quickly tried to push himself up, but—

“WOOOO!!!!!” Twister flew out of the slide backwards, running plot first into the back of Thunderlane’s head. Thunderlane was forced back down, squishing Dash further into the mat, but Twister bounced and flung back into the air. He halted himself after flying up a few feet and turned over so he was hovering in the air above them while upside down.

“Wheeee!!!!” Derpy’s voice echoed through the slide. She slide out slowly and landed extra softly on Thunderlane’s back, sitting up straight and smiling. “So much fun again!” she lightly bounced up and down.

“MMMMRRRRGGGGPHHH!!!!!!!” Dash yelled into the mat as she flailed her arms and legs about. Thunderlane quickly stood up with Derpy perched on his back. “GAAAAHHH!!!!” Dash pulled her head free from the mat.

“Hey! That was pretty good!” Fleetfoot’s voice came from above them. Dash looked up to see her, Soarin, and Spitfire descend towards them while removing their special goggles that they had also used on the previous test. Soarin looked up towards the ceiling and waved. Silver Lining saluted from above and flew back over to the start.

Fleetfoot landed in front of the five of them and smiled.

“You know, I honestly wasn’t expecting anypony to actually figure it out… I bet you surprised squad three too! Now let’s WHOA!!!” Fleetfoot reclined as Dash reached forward and grabbed Fleetfoot’s shoulders while glaring angrily.

“WHAT WAS THE POINT OF THAT?!?!” Dash barked while shaking Fleetfoot.

“Whoa there…” Soarin flew over and pulled Dash off of Fleetfoot. “Fleet, I told you it was gonna just piss them off.” Soarin chuckled as he held Dash back. Dash grunted in disapproval and pouted while crossing her hooves. Soarin, however, kept his hooves on her. She didn’t know if it was intentional or not, but Dash seized the opportunity. She glanced over and Arctic… who was, of course, glaring at Dash because Soarin was touching her. Dash couldn’t do much, and she wanted to honor Soarin’s choice of keeping knowledge of their relationship low, but she had some options.

Dash subtly leaned into his muscular arm and rested her side against it while keeping her eyes on Arctic. Soarin didn’t notice, but Arctic’s eyes widened. Dash snickered and subtly rubbed her side up and down Soarin’s arm. Arctic noticed the motion. Dash had never seen a pair of eyes go so wide while also glaring so hard at the same time. It almost looked unnatural. Arctic looked like she was about to explode into a fit of frail fury, but Fleetfoot recaptured their attention.

“What was the point of it?” Fleetfoot began as Soarin let Dash back down (much to her dismay). “Simple really! The Wonderbolts do more than stunt shows… and to be completely honest with you, there may be times when you are put in a situation where things won’t make sense, or you don’t have the right expertise to handle the situation,” she paused and landed before them. “The point of this test was to see who buckled down and tried to solve the problem regardless. It’s easy to give up and pass the job on to somepony who’s more qualified… but you may not always have that luxury! Sometimes you’ll have no choice but to go with it!” she smiled.

“But… a murder mystery?” Thunderlane rolled his eyes and looked towards Spitfire. Spitfire shook her head.

“Don’t look at me cadet, I didn’t approve it,” she explained. Fleetfoot zipped up to Thunderlane and got in his face.

“Do I sense more sack choking over here?” she gave him an overdramatic, angry pout. Thunderlane stepped backward so suddenly that Derpy tipped off his back and landed with a quiet “oof!” on the mat.

“Shoulda been more blood… REAL BLOOD,” Twister hovered beside Fleetfoot’s ear while still flying upside-down. Fleetfoot swung her head left to hit his face, but he disappeared. Fleetfoot quickly released her hooves from the mat, letting her body drop. “URF!” a grunt came from directly below her. She had slammed her body right down on top of Twister as he tried to slink beneath through her legs. She was lying completely on top of his stomach and she looked into his eyes seductively and creepily.

“What did I tell you would happen if you pulled this crap on me again?” she taunted while wiggling her body side to side. Twister’s ears completely drooped and his pupils shrank. Dash could have sworn his face turned three lighter shades of green. “You’re lucky I’m busy,” Fleetfoot winked and removed herself from him.

She looked towards Dash, and then moved her eyes about the rest of them.

“As I said, that was not bad at all. Now please stay over here. We don’t want to ruin the surprise for anypony else,” she pointed to the floor before lifting off and heading back up. Spitfire followed close behind her. Soarin gave Dash a subtle nudge and a wink as he passed before following as well. Dash smirked at him, then sat down and released a heavy sigh of relief.

Finally, she was done with the crazy day. She felt like she performed well throughout. She was part of the group who beat the first “test.” She stumbled a bit on the second test, but it didn’t go too bad. And then… whatever this was… went alright, at least Fleetfoot said so. Dash was confident she’d be in the lineup for the third day. Now she wondered about the rest. It was sad to see Bulk go the day before, would she have to say goodbye to another friend? Speaking of—

“So that was a hell of a thing…” Thunderlane sighed and plopped down beside Dash. “At least it this one didn’t kick my ass.”

“Heh,” Dash chuckled as Derpy landed on her other side. She observed Derpy and the goofy smile still plastered to her face. “You look like you’re having a good time,” Dash smiled at her. Derpy bounced a little in place while smiling.

“The first one was scary, yeah!” she beamed. “This one was weird… and a little scary too, but there was a slide at the end!” Derpy giggled innocently. Dash could never stop smiling whenever Derpy was happy. The pony was just downright adorable.


This pony on the other hand…

Arctic pushed past Derpy and got in Dash’s face.

“What do you want now?”

“I saw you rubbing on Soarin! How many times do I have to tell you?! He’s MINE! MINE, MINE, MINE!” she yelled in Dash’s face. Dash didn’t even budge. She smirked.

“Sure he is,” she shrugged. “Whatever you say,” Dash laid down and reclined on her back as they began waiting. Arctic was giving her looks mixed with anger and confusion.

She was so damn dense… Dash was going to LOVE breaking the news to her eventually. A mare like her could use a reality check.

For now though… it was one hell of a day. She just wanted to lie down and relax.

--- To Be Continued ---

Chapter 25: Just Let Me Look At You

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Piercing the Heavens
By: Calm Wind

Chapter 25:

What a busy day.

Soarin sighed as he waited in line to get food. The cadets were all packed into the mess hall and the Wonderbolts were taking their turn at the buffets. Thankfully, because of the sharp decrease in cadets from day one into day two, the chefs were able to prepare a more reasonable food selection.

While he was relieved the day was over and excited to get some better food (at least compared to the day before), Soarin still felt a little stressed. Spitfire was in charge of day one. Fleetfoot was in charge of day 2. It was his turn tomorrow and he had the toughest job.

He had to whittle down the last remaining fifty to twenty one, using rather physically demanding methods. There was sure to be some injuries tomorrow. Hopefully none of them would be severe, but they had to determine who’d be able to survive the grueling recruit training after the tryouts were over. Being a cadet was one thing… being a recruit… was different. Soarin sometimes wondered if their training and selection processes were too brutal, but then again, they were the best. The best of the best within the best.

Due to the ability to fly, pegasi had a natural advantage when it came to combat capabilities. While their military use was limited, the Wonderbolts could only afford to have the most astounding individuals in their ranks to meet any objective required of them. Soarin always felt their aerobatic shows were misleading. Not many ponies were aware of their combat capabilities. He was sure the chunk of cadets that ran off after reading the consent forms were in it for the shows.

He had too much on his mind. Dash, his magic, Dash, his duty tomorrow, Dash, the recruitment process, Dash, the difficult selection he had to make soon, Dash, Dash, Rainbow Dash, Dash, his bedroom, SON OF A…

Soarin shook his head out and moved along slowly behind Silver Lining. He was in line for the deli, hoping to get a nice fresh sandwich after dealing with all the horrible food they had had as of late. The line was moving really slowly.

He still couldn’t focus on much without Dash being a part of it. He was still worried about the selection for the elite spot. There was more than a pony’s skill going into making that decision. They had to exhibit certain qualities on top of that. Qualities like duty, compassion, loyalty, perseverance, etc. While he believed Dash was capable of all of these, particularly loyalty, it was his job to select the cadet that fit these qualities the best. There were more than a few potential candidates that exhibited these qualities along with her. It wasn’t going to be an easy choice, and she’d understand if he didn’t choose her right? But he was getting ahead of himself. There was still one more day of tryouts. Dash was sure to pull through with flying colors... figuratively and literally.

As he waited, he glanced over Silver’s shoulder to figure out what was taking so long. He was distracted however, by something going on right in front of Silver. Wave Chill was in line ahead of Silver. He was fidgeting and kept taking a brief step out of the line before going right back in. Soarin leaned further. High Winds and Blaze were in front of him, the two were conversing and laughing about something, but he couldn’t hear. In front of them however, next in line for the deli counter was Spitfire. Soarin glanced back at Wave and saw that every time he made a move to leave the line, he was glancing at her first.

Oh, what a wreck…

Was Wave thinking about talking to her now? Clearly. Soarin could read his body language. But time and place Wave… time and place. This would be a terrible time to do it. Trying to confront Spitfire about something personal when she’s hungry was like trying to convince a stop sign it needs to rethink its career choice. It just wasn’t gonna happen. Spitfire was grumpy as hell when she was hungry.

But at least Wave was thinking about it. It was good to see he actually took Soarin’s advice.

Then Soarin remembered he was trying to find out why the line was moving so slowly. He leaned over further to check, and wasn’t very surprised when he finally saw.

Fire Streak was taking sign language cues from Misty Fly. He was relaying it to the pony at the deli to get Misty a sandwich just the way she wanted it. Fire kept looking between her and speaking to the deli attendant. Eventually the pony placed the plate with the sandwich up on the counter. Misty examined it, then smiled wide and bounced up and down. She gave Fire a really big hug before grabbing her perfect sandwich and trotting happily towards the side room with Fire in tow. They passed Lightning Streak as they walked. He made a few vigorous motions with his arm while making “Unf Unf Unf” sounds. Without a second of hesitation, Fire gave him a quick kick to the leg.

“YEEOW!” Lightning yelped while limping towards the soup line.

Soarin smiled as he watched Fire and Misty. The two made it to the door. Fire balanced his tray on his wing and opened the door for Misty. She smiled and bowed her head slightly to him before entering. Fire took a deep breath and sighed heavily before entering behind her.




Soarin grunted and looked down. All this new romance floating around the compound… Dash was right here and he couldn’t do anything about it. He felt like he was at a museum. He had something beautiful and interesting right in front of him, but it was strictly: look, don’t touch.

Forget it. He wanted to spend time with her. He needed to spend time with her. Besides, as Discord said, Dash’s presence alone was physically healthy for him in his magical imbued state. No asking this time. Spitfire could deal with it. He was going to sneak Dash out tonight. He was a lead squad Wonderbolt… he could easily mask it as something else.

As the line shifted forward again, his curiosity got the better of him. He hovered up slightly into the air and scanned the cadets in the mess hall. It wasn’t that hard to find Dash. Rainbows were very vibrant after all. He quickly spotted her. Why he looked for her just now? No reason. She was just on his mind and he wanted to know where she was.

She was eating very fast. In fact, she finished right as he spotted her. She quickly took her tray over to the tray racks, stuffed it into the rack unevenly, and darted out the doors.

Soarin chuckled at her sense of urgency. No doubt she was rushing to check the rankings board for day two. They were just posted after all. He had already seen the rankings and knew that she had absolutely nothing to worry about. Perhaps she wanted to check on her friends as well. That would be so like her. She cared just as much about her friends’ success as her own.

Soarin blinked as something began moving slowly into his peripheral vision. It looked like a waffle cone from the dessert area. Soarin glanced to his right to see Fleetfoot slowly moving her face in the way of his, while wearing an eyes and mouth wide open expression, and holding an empty waffle cone, open end against her forehead.

Art by: Cantil

“Do you like rainbows?! I hear princesses LOVE rainbows!” Fleetfoot said in a very high pitched voice. Soarin flattened his ears, grabbed the cone from her grip and shoved the open end over her nose until it got firmly stuck on her face. He then took his wing and pushed her head down. They both landed, but Soarin kept his wing locked firmly over her head. “My lady! I apologize for my insolence!” She yelled, muffled by the cone, and still giggling in between.

“Not helping your case Fleet,” Soarin chuckled as he held her down.

All joking aside…

He was going to sneak Dash out tonight. Spitfire would just have to deal with it.

Rainbow Dash burst out of the mess hall, sliding across the floor with her hooves before turning and galloping down the main hallway. The results were posted up in the lobby again. She wasn’t the only pony with the same idea. In fact, there were already a few ponies already checking the board. Without the need to push through the crowd this time, Dash skidded to a stop and quickly focused on the board.


No way!

Dash’s jaw dropped and her eyes widened.

1st: Rainbow Dash

HOLY CRAP! She was still at the top?! Dash blinked and rubbed her eyes. She didn’t think she’d do so well after her slip ups in the tube course? Then again… she was a major part of solving the pie battle… and she took command in the random ass murder mystery scenario… Geez, she really had to stop focusing so much on what she did a little bit wrong and realize how much she was doing right! The Wonderbolts sure thought so.

Well then! She wasn’t worried about her rank, but it was quite an ego boost to see herself still at the top.

“Hmph!” a grunt came from beside her. She glanced to her right and saw a grey stallion with a messy brown mane glaring at the board. He was bigger than her. Not as big as Soarin, but he definitely came close. He glanced at Dash briefly, then back at the board, and then back at Dash again. He looked her over before grunting again. He turned and stomped away.

Dash blinked and watched him leave before shrugging. What the hell was his problem? Anyway, time to look the rest of the list over.

2nd: Squall

Squall… that name again. She saw it on the first day too in second. Realization hit Dash. She glanced over her shoulder again, but the grumpy stallion was gone. Squall, huh. She wondered if that was him. There were lots of cadets and she had completely missed some of their performances during the first day. Though how could she miss a pony doing well enough to be stuck in the second spot two days in a row?

She looked back to the board.

3rd: Little Star

Again, here too. Little Star was third last time. Dash hadn’t met either of these apparent super stars. She was sure she’d notice them tomorrow though.

She’d speculate on them later however. Dash was much, much more interested in finding her friends on the list. Only fifty were being taken into the third day… she hoped for the best as she began scanning down. She didn’t have to look very far.

5th: Twister

Twister had been bumped up! It made sense to Dash though. Today’s tests were about the ridiculous… and Dash had seen him work through all three. He handled each of them well. The last test he got pranked a bunch, but Fleetfoot said that test was to see who just went with it.

Dash scanned further. She was surprised to see that she recognized none of the names as she went down. It wasn’t until seventeen, that she found another name.

17th: Matteo

He got bumped down two places. While he played a key role in the defeating the pie machine, he did have that huge mishap in the pipe course. He must’ve also slipped a little in the murder mystery. Dash actually found herself chuckling. How DID Matteo handle that prank? Squad 3 must’ve had a field day with him.

Dash suddenly realized something. Where was Storm Front? Dash quickly scanned down the list while holding her breath.

25th: Storm Front

Dash released a heavy sigh of relief. Yikes! How did he fall so far on the list? He was awesome in both the first and second tests! Something must’ve gone horribly wrong for him in the third test. In fact, knowing him, he probably went hell bent on protecting the others from harm instead of solving the case. Either way, he got hit pretty hard in the rankings, but Dash was glad. Unlike a certain other pony she knew, Storm Front was very deserving of a spot as a Wonderbolt recruit. Such a nice guy deserves a well earned victory.

But last time, Arctic was in 25th. Dash had yet to see her. So she crossed her feathers and prayed Arctic would be long gone as she continued down.



And down.

She was at 40th. No sign of Arctic yet… but also no sign of Thunderlane or Derpy. Dash was half excited and half worried.

Arctic leaving = praise Celestia!

Thunderlane and/or Derpy leaving = depressing.

They both got farther than they expected they would, but it didn’t mean Dash felt they should keep going.




“Yes!” Dash pumped a hoof in the air. Thunderlane made it to the third day?! Oh, she couldn’t wait to see the look on his face when he found out. Talk about being rewarded for taking your licks. Thunderlane hadn’t had the most… pleasant time here, but he was staying alive and getting a chance most pegasi could only dream of. She was compelled to be proud of him. He earned it.

But… Derpy?

Dash looked at 49th. No idea who that pony was.

Only one more spot could possibly be Derpy…

50th: Arctic Blast.

“WHAT?!?!” Dash yelled out, startling the other ponies around her. “Are you KIDDING ME?! ARGH!!!!!!” she reached up and yanked at her mane.


Why? Why? Why?!?!?

She just COULDN’T get rid of her! It was maddening! How did she barely pass?! She did terrible in the first and third tests, at least in Dash’s opinion. It looked like she got through the second mostly unscathed except for the big bruise on her side.


Such a mood killer.

Dash blinked… and her ears drooped. She looked down the list past the 50th mark. She stopped near the bottom.

82nd: Derpy Hooves

Dash sat down and sighed. Derpy had done well in the second test… and okay in the third. In the first, she locked up and hid. Knowing how the Wonderbolts truly were… Dash could see how that probably killed her chances. But… It felt wrong. It felt SO DAMN WRONG That a pony as rude and bitchy as Arctic was allowed through to the defining day of the tryouts… and a pony as sweet and kind as Derpy was left out. Personality didn’t decide if you made it or not… but it still just felt so wrong.

Dash had made it through. She was still at the very top, and very happy to be, but losing Derpy… it killed any reason for her to be happy.

Dash stood up and began slowly walking towards the barracks. It was easy to give Bulk Biceps a hearty pat on the back and get him to be happy… but Derpy was much more sensitive and had more than one reason to be sad about leaving. Sure, she couldn’t tryout with them any more… but there was something she’d have a much harder time dealing with.

Leaving Storm Front.

Just as Dash predicted, it wasn’t easy.

Like the night before, the cadets who didn’t make it were to pack up and head out with train tickets waiting for them at the station. They had plenty of time to do so however, so there was no rush.

Derpy sat on her bed, head down, but not crying. Dash and Thunderlane were there beside her bed, but neither knew what to say. Thunderlane was still a little flustered about making it to day three, and he felt it wouldn’t be his place to comfort a pony that didn’t make it. While Dash had a similar feeling, she felt compelled to say something. Derpy’s reason for coming to the tryouts was because she wanted to be more like her. Dash wanted to tell her what an amazing job she had done, but the words were so hard to find.

Dash sighed and set next to Derpy on the bed. She draped her wing over Derpy’s shoulder and rubbed it up and down gently.

“Sorry Derpy, I wish there was something I could do to make you feel better,” Dash openly admitted not knowing what to say. She felt it was better than saying nothing. At least Derpy would know that they were thinking about her. “You…” Dash tried to think and talk at the same time. “You did very well though. Please be proud of that. You also broke a record! I’m sure the Wonderbolts think highly of you for it.”

“I’m fine,” Derpy suddenly spoke up quietly. Dash flinched, but quickly relaxed and continued to rub her wing on Derpy’s shoulder. Thunderlane still couldn’t find any words, but he sat down on the other side of Derpy to at least show he was there for her too. Derpy smiled at them both. “It was so much fun… but… I’m not so sad about the tryouts,” she sniffled.

Dash knew it.

“I’m…” Derpy sniffled again. “I’m sad because… I’m leaving… Storm…”

Dash quickly pulled Derpy tighter against her as the sniffling became more frequent.

Of course. Storm Front. Just as Dash predicted. She didn’t blame Derpy for being so sad. Outside of Ponyville… hell, even IN Ponyville sometimes, Derpy didn’t get much love and respect. At least, not as much as Dash felt she deserved for being so friendly and sweet. Storm was a rare find for her. Not only was he quite possibly the friendliest stallion Dash had ever seen in her life, but he also showed a genuine respect for Derpy and enjoyment of her company. This was extremely rare for Derpy. She would possibly never know a stallion like this again.


Dash, Thunderlane, and Derpy all looked up.

Storm Front was standing in the aisle, looking in at them. Dash reached over and poked Thunderlane. He grunted and looked over at Dash. Dash made sweeping hoof motions towards him. He looked back at Storm as he moved towards Derpy, and then looked back to see Dash scoot away. Thunderlane caught on quickly and moved away himself.

Storm went right up to Derpy, reached out his arms and pulled her into a very tight hug. Derpy squeaked and blushed, but quickly wrapped her arms around him as well. Dash slid over to the other side of the mattress and hopped off before trotting around to join Thunderlane in the aisle. The two were giving them space.

“Derpy, I’m so sorry you have to leave already…” Storm said quietly as he released the hug. Derpy looked away from him, frowning and ears drooping.

“I know… but… I had fun,” she said with a weak smile. “And… I got to meet you!” she said, forcing her smile to be stronger. Storm pulled her back into a hug.

“It’s been… great for me too Derpy. You are such a fun mare… I’ll be honest… you made this experience for me so enjoyable so far. I hate seeing you go. Who’s gonna make me laugh now?” he said while giving her a light playful squeeze before putting her at arm’s length again. “Cloudsdale isn’t very far from Ponyville. If I don’t make it, I can come visit you as much as I can.”

Dash had to suppress an audible “awwww” when she saw just how much Derpy’s face lit up when he said that. He continued.

“And if I become a Wonderbolt, Ponyville’s just a short train ride away. With a Wonderbolt salary, I can easily afford as many tickets to see you as I want.”

Double dose of d’aww.

“Yay!!!” Derpy flung herself at him and hugged him again. He caught her and chuckled as he returned the embrace.

Dash was glad. Not just for Derpy, but for Storm. He had listened to her. He was willing to keep trying with Derpy despite a little distance. She sighed heavily as she watched. It wasn’t a dreamy sigh. It was a frustrated sigh.

The scene was reminding her of Soarin.

Soarin, Soarin, Soarin, and more Soarin, with a side of Soarin, and some extra Soarin for later.

It didn’t matter how hard she tried. Dash found it impossible to focus entirely on the tryouts, not when the stallion she loved with every fiber of her being was right there. She felt like she was being tortured. Something she desired greatly was taunting her. It was just out of her reach.

As much as she risked sounding like Shove-it Bitchalot, she felt it was another motivation for her to become a Wonderbolt. It was her dream to fly with them. It always had been her dream to fly with them… but now she had another reason too: to be with the love of her life.

“Derpy Hooves? Where’s Derpy Hooves?!” Spitfire’s voice suddenly echoed throughout the barracks.

They all turned to see Spitfire walking down the aisle, out of uniform for the night. She was holding something under her wing as she approached.

“Ah! There you are!” she smiled when she saw Derpy. Storm quickly backed away as the lead captain of the Wonderbolts made her way over to Derpy. “I was afraid you already left. We wouldn’t want you to leave without this…” she unfolded her wing and grabbed what was tucked beneath it, holding it out to Derpy. “It’s too bad you didn’t make it through, because we’ll definitely never forget you,” Spitfire winked at her.

Dash’s curiosity was piqued. She walked over to the other side of the bed to see what Spitfire was holding out to Derpy. It was a picture frame. In it was a picture of Derpy smiling very wide beside another pegasus mare.

Dash blinked. The mare looked familiar. She was old, not elderly, but her face had some age on it. More age than Silver Lining’s at least. The mare was yellow with a long, pure white mane. There was a faint signature on the picture. Dash leaned in and read it… then—

“WAIT!!!!!” yelled as her eyes widened. She flopped onto the mattress to get a closer look at the mare. “Tha…thaaaaaa…” she slurred and stuttered in disbelief. “IS THAT FLASHWIND?!?!?!?!” she finally blurted out. Flashwind… one of the two legendary Wonderbolt captains… who once saved her life in a weather mishap… and mother of Rapidfire…

“Mmhmm…” Spitfire nodded. “She held the record on the endurance test. Whenever a pony breaks a record, they get to meet to previous holder."

Dash looked at Derpy in disbelief.

“Derpy you met the Flashwind… and you didn’t tell me?!?! I’m SO JEALOUS!!!” Dash lightly shook Derpy while smiling widely. Derpy smiled back, slightly confused. She had no idea who Flashwind was.

“She was very nice,” Derpy commented while looking back at the picture. Spitfire tapped her hoof on the frame.

“This one is for you,” Spitfire explained. “There is another one just like it being hung up in the lobby by the record boards,” she smiled at Derpy and ruffled her mane. “That was quite a show you gave us yesterday. You may have fallen short this year, but we’d love to see you again next year.”

“Yay!” Derpy replied simply while hugging the picture and bouncing happily on the mattress.

Spitfire gave Derpy a nod and a pat on the shoulder before leaving to attend to other duties. Dash and the others quickly surrounded her again to congratulate her and express their awe. Derpy immediately set the picture down and gave Storm another big hug as he approached. It was unprovoked. She was just really happy and felt like doing it. It was not like he was going to complain anyway.

Dash was beyond happy for Derpy. She came into the tryouts hoping to be cool like Dash. She didn’t make it all the way through, but she had thoroughly impressed Dash and made her a little jealous on top of that. Derpy deserved all of it. She had a rough time in life and something like this was just the pick-me-up she deserved.

They all said their goodbyes. Derpy received one last hug and one more promise from Storm. They waved as Derpy trotted towards the doors to the barracks, turned and gave them one last smile, and left.

Derpy was gone, but she left the compound as happy as could be.

A half an hour passed and Dash couldn’t believe how empty the barracks felt now. With only fifty left, it felt like there was so much open space to move and interact with others. Even some of the beds were being removed by staff members. They would be shooed out soon to let the cadets relax, but Dash could understand if they wanted to lighten their workload a little for when they had to really dismantle the whole mock sleeping quarters.

Dash contemplated moving to a different bunk. She didn’t know why she hadn’t considered it the day before.

Dash glanced up and down the aisle as she tossed her cadet uniform into a passing laundry bin. There were so many open beds now. Well, the mattresses hadn’t been washed or anything, but she could easily have draped her sheet over one or something. She just wanted to get away from Arctic.

The only real thing that was stopping her from moving was that she’d have to move all of her stuff too. It wouldn’t be too hard to conceal the picture of her and Soarin as she moved, but she wasn’t sure if it was a risk she was willing to take.

She didn’t give a damn if Arctic found it. Dash wasn’t the only pony who was tired of her. She could see it every time she walked by. She received so many eye rolls and scowls. Everypony was sick of her. If Arctic saw the picture and began barking around about it, Dash doubted anypony would listen to her. She never shut up about Soarin to begin with, so it would come off as her trying to start false rumors.

The problem for Dash was everypony else. Should any other cadet besides Arctic catch a glimpse of the picture, it was sure to spread quickly. The last thing she and Soarin needed was that extra monkey on their backs.

Once she was IN the Wonderbolts, they could make it look like it happened after the fact. Until then however, it was best to not take any risks, at least that’s how Dash felt. If Soarin came in here and pulled her out, she wasn’t going to resist. She was keeping quiet for him mostly. She wanted to blurt it out and let everypony know, but that would definitely put him in a bind.


Speaking of the sexiest voice Dash knew…

She had just flopped onto her bed when Soarin’s voice reached through the barracks from the entry doors. She scooted forward on her mattress and looked out into the aisle… with more excitement than she let show.

Soarin, also out of uniform (and providing full eye candy for Dash) was walking slowly down the aisle. This was the first time he had addressed the cadets in the barracks. Dash was still getting used to the horn… but even with such a strange, attention diverting headpiece… Soarin still had an incredible presence that radiated off of him with each stride. All the cadets had stopped what they were doing and were focused on him.

A faint, “Eeeeee~” was coming from directly above Dash. Dash growled quietly as Arctic swooned above her. Dash waited for a moment when Soarin was looking away from them. As soon as his head turned, Dash reached up and jabbed her hoof hard between the metal grate that held Arctic’s mattress above hers. A sharp “EEP!” sounded out and Dash went right back to looking at Soarin. Arctic looked over the edge of her bed and huffed at Dash before instantly going gaga over Soarin again.

“First I would like to congratulate all of you for making it this far!” Soarin began as he slowly moved through the aisle. “I also want to express how impressed we are with each and every one of you! As some of you know… we had current recruits trying out amongst you for a chance to get the elite squadron spot. Well, guess what? None of them made it past this cut. We have an exceptional class of cadets here... unlike anything we’ve ever seen before!”

Dash couldn’t believe that. She had almost completely forgotten that there were current recruits going through the tryouts. The lure of an elite squad spot must’ve attracted the best of the best from all over Equestria. Not all fifty of the cadets here would become at least a phase one recruit, and even fewer after that would become a phase two recruit (a.k.a. a full-time recruit squad of five), but the Wonderbolts were definitely licking their chops with all these new faces to send tryout invites in the future.

“That being said…” Soarin continued. “I—” he stopped dead in his tracks as he came across Dash’s bunk and his face quickly wore a mortified expression. Dash eyed him curiously, wondering why he stopped, but then she realized he was looking into hers and Arctic’s personal space to her left.

Oh. Right. The poster.

Soarin stared directly at the Sexy Beach Soarin poster that was hanging on the wall. He sighed, flattening his ears and brow. He opened his mouth to say something, but nothing came out. He looked at Dash and lifted an eyebrow. Dash quickly pointed up. Soarin looked up and reclined slightly to see Arctic nearly falling off of her bed as she tried to lean her face as close to him as possible from the top bunk. His ears flopped down and he scrunched his face as he glanced down at Dash again.

Dash couldn’t hold it in. She began to snicker. More chuckles started coming from around the bunks. Eventually it erupted into full out laughter as everypony became aware of the scene. Dash was trying so hard not to laugh at Soarin’s expense with him right in front of her, but she just couldn’t hold it in. Dash looked around to see Twister, Thunderlane, and Storm Front all losing it. Even stone faced Matteo had a smirk cracking on one side of his beak.

Dash looked back to Soarin as he closed his eyes and took a deep breath. When he opened his eyes, Dash immediately stopped laughing and her eyes grew slightly. His expression was hard and serious. He looked around at all the cadets laughing.

“Hahahaha!!!!” he started mocking them. “Hahahahaha SHUT IT!!!!!” his voice boomed.

It was unreal how quickly the place went dead silent. All the laughter instantly ceased and the cadets had all frozen in place, staring at him with a mix of surprise and fear. The tone was different. Dash had never seen Soarin lash out with such a heavy and demanding tone in his voice.

“Ha ha,” he slowly began to turn while glaring. “He he,” he kept turning. “Ho ho,” he made a full circle. “Hardy har har har!” he finished while slightly baring his teeth. “Are we done laughing now? I think we’re done laughing now!” he started walking again, moving past Dash’s bunk. “Today sure was fun wasn’t it? All the silly stuff and fun times… WELL GUESS WHAT?!” he made it halfway to the opposite wall and sharply turned around. “Fun time’s over!” he began walking back down the aisle. “There’s only fifty of you left… and tomorrow, it’s my job to see which of you is truly ready to be a Wonderbolt!” he barked loud and clear as he moved past Dash again.

This was… hot. Dash struggled to control her wings. The way he had taken full control of the situation… and how he held the focus of all the cadets through intimidation… Dash loved it. She had yet to see the more professional side of Soarin. She liked it. Oh, she liked it a little too much.

“Tomorrow, it’s my turn to run you through some tests. No jokes and no pranks! It’s going to be tough, and it’s going to be hard! Wonderbolts don’t become Wonderbolts by taking it easy!” he stopped halfway between Dash’s bunk and the entrance before slowly turning again. “When the lights go out tonight, do your body a favor and get right to sleep! Trust me… you’re going to need the rest for what’s coming tomorrow! If you don’t bring your A-game, you’re gonna find your ass sitting in a train car home faster than you can blink!” He faced down the aisle again and glanced back and forth. “That’ll be all!” he nodded before he turned and headed towards the door.

The hush faded quickly, but only enough for murmurs to pass through the cadets. The next day was going to be brutal, huh? This day was wacky and now it was back to the more serious grind.

Dash couldn’t help but wonder what Soarin had in store for them… Okay, she was really still internally swooning at how Soarin asserted his influence so fiercely over the cadets. She saw if first when he broke up the scrapping stallions on the first day… and now this. She’d be sure to show him her “interest” in this new quality of his he’d been hiding from her.

Dash flattened her expression as she heard Arctic release a heavenly sigh above her. That does it. Dash felt the need to really give Arctic a piece of her mind.

“Rainbow Dash?”

Dash stopped mid stand and glanced to her left. It was Soarin. He hadn’t left. Dash wanted to give him the usual smile, but his eyes were still locked in serious professional mode. Dash simply continued her motion and stepped off the bed.

“Yes?” replied. She could almost feel Arctic already glaring at her. Dash knew she was. Hooker McLadyBonerforSoarin was one of the most predictable mares Dash had ever met.

“That’s yes, SIR… cadet.” He said sternly. Dash froze. Okay, that was unexpected.

“Y—yes, sir?” she rephrased it, feeling a bit stiff. Soarin made a small head motion towards the doors.

“We need to speak with you. Follow me.” His face remained stoic throughout. Dash gulped and slowly followed behind as Soarin walked back out into the aisle. She felt nervous. She really couldn’t tell if Soarin was playing this up or not. If he was, he was doing a flawless job. A few other cadets gave them looks as they passed, and eventually the two were out the doors.

Back by Dash’s bunk, as Dash predicted, Arctic was still glaring. She had been glaring since Soarin approached Dash. She didn’t pay attention at all to what they were saying or the fact that Soarin was being super serious. All she saw was Soarin talking to another mare, but not just any mare: a mare that had more than once challenged her interest in Soarin. Arctic wasn’t buying it. All her brain could picture was this being some sort of set up by Rainbow Dash to steal Soarin from her.

The cadets had around an hour before lights out. If Dash wasn’t back in around thirty to forty-five minutes… Arctic decided she would “step-out” and thwart Rainbow Bitch’s scheming.

Dash stiffly followed Soarin down the hallway and to the stairs in the lobby.

What was going on? She couldn’t get a read on him… she could always get a read on him in the past. Had she actually done something wrong?

They started up the stairs. She wanted to say something, but there were other Wonderbolts still within earshot down on the first floor. Was he taking her to Spitfire’s office? She suddenly felt extremely anxious.

They got to the top of the stairs and Dash could see past him towards Spitfire’s office. The hall was mostly empty though. It seemed like aside from those still downstairs, most of the Wonderbolts had called it a night already. It didn’t surprise her though. They did get up earlier for Fleetfoot’s surprise wakeup call.

Dash took two steps towards Spitfires office—

“OOF!” she grunted as Soarin suddenly reached over and grabbed her around the waist. “Whoa!” She yelped as he suddenly yanked her towards the second flight of stairs to the third floor. He hopped up and kicked off the walls in a diamond pattern to reach the third floor before sharply turning left, skidding to a stop in front of his door. He threw the door open, and threw Dash in. “YIKES!!!” she yelped as she tumbled through the air and landed on his bed, back first.

“SHHHH!!!!!” Soarin shushed her as she looked up. He looked back and forth outside his room. Dash blinked and shut her mouth. Soarin closed the door behind him, grinned at Dash, and dove at her.

“Yipe!” Dash squeaked quietly as Soarin landed on the bed, bounced once, landed on top of her, and wrapped his arm around her, squeezing her tightly.

It was all a ruse. He really had her going!

“You ass…” she whispered as he nestled his head into her chest, being sure not to poke her eye out with the false horn. “I thought I was actually in trouble!” she repeatedly bopped her hoof against his head gently.

“Hey, if you believed me, everypony else would,” he said while resting his chin on her chest and looking up at her. Dash giggled, reached down, and pressed his cheeks in. He didn’t resist.

“So I take it you’re not worried about getting in deep shit with Spitfire?” she asked while removing her hooves from his face. He rolled his eyes.

“‘In deep shit with Spitfire' is just a different way for me to say: ‘another day at the office,’” he winked. Dash tried to suppress the chuckling as much as she could.

“I just really wanted to do something with you, okay? You’re a risk taker, are you complaining?” he asked as he pushed himself up and loomed over Dash. She smirked at him, crossed her back legs, and put her front hooves behind her head.

“I like risk takers,” she gave him bedroom eyes. Soarin bit his lip and quickly went in for a hard kiss. Dash kept her limbs where they were, allowing him full access. Soarin quickly broke the kiss as a quiet THUMP came from next door. They both quickly looked at the wall.

“Dammit… these walls are too damn thin,” Soarin grunted as he heard movement in Spitfire’s room.

“Do we have a choice?” Dash reached up and moved his head back to her. She pouted at him while glaring, wishing he hadn’t cut off the kiss so quickly. Soarin looked down at her, and then looked up at the window behind them.

“Actually… yes we do,” he grinned. “It’s cloudy tonight, I’m sure we can find a nice puffy cloud to… share our thoughts of the day on…” he chuckled as he and Dash got up off the bed.

“Oh, that's what you’re gonna call it?” she smirked. “But aren’t there… you know… other windows out there? How are we not gonna be seen?”

“Fly straight up,” Soarin pointed up. “Actually I was thinking we could go press our faces to Spitfire’s window first, I don’t think she’d find that suspicious at—”

“Okay, I get it, jerk,” she giggled as she pushed him towards the window. Soarin turned and faced her as he opened the window and climbed into the windowsill. Dash suddenly gave him puppy eyes.

“What?” he asked while trying not to laugh at how uncharacteristic it looked of Dash. She unfolded her wings and let them droop to the bed.

“Flying? Aren’t you gonna ask me if my wings are feeling okay? I did lots of tryout stuff you know,” she faked a lame tone. Soarin lifted an eyebrow.

“You’re fine, don’t bullshit me,” he quickly replied. Dash instantly burst into a fit of giggles, trying her hardest not to burst out laughing.

“Such a gentlestallion. Lead the way asshat,” Dash picked up her wings and stretched them out.

“Going up!” Soarin said comically before leaping backwards into the night and shooting upward. Dash quickly hopped out and spread her wings, following close behind.

The two flew gently skyward, finding a nice puffy cloud right above the Wonderbolt compound. Soarin popped up above the cloud first, waiting patiently for Dash. She didn’t come up though. Soarin glanced over the sides of the cloud, wondering where she was. As he looked around, Dash’s head slowly popped up behind him from within the cloud. Right as he turned to look, she leapt out and pounced on him, pinning his back to the cloud.

“Damn,” he chuckled as she looked down at him with desire in her eyes. Soarin sighed and tried to take a nice long look, but Dash was quickly upon him. She pushed herself down and slammed her lips against his, kissing him with all the built up passion from seeing him, but being unable to be with him. Soarin played along, wrapping his arms around her back as she nearly pushed him through the cloud with her body. She pulled back for a moment. Again, Soarin tried to look into her eyes, but she came right back at him.

“Hey, hey…” Soarin suddenly pushed her up. She eyed him quizzically .

“What?” she asked while tipping her head. “Oh, I get it,” she smirked. “You gotta fight me if you wanna be on top, buster.” She taunted while wiggling her body.”

“No… Dash…” Soarin shook his head and smiled. “First of all, I don’t want to get rough and hurt you by accident before tomorrow…” he trailed off. Dash blinked.

“What, are you implying I will get hurt tomorrow?” she asked. Soarin shook his head.

“That’s not what I meant. Tomorrow is going to be extremely physically demanding for all of you. You saw me earlier… the fun stuff is over, I have to be a hard ass about this.”

“Speaking of…” Dash interrupted as her wings fluttered and shuttered slightly. “I’ve never seen you be so… intimidating before,” she laid her body down on top of his and shivered. “It was… pretty damn sexy, I’m not gonna lie.” She inhaled sharply and sighed. Soarin bounced her eyebrows at her.

“Gotta be alpha if you want to keep control, especially with the stallions. The mares are harder to tame.”

“Oh? You don’t say,” Dash looked at him smugly.

“If you're any indication, I firmly stand by that statement,” he gave her his own smug look right back. He looked at her for another moment then frowned.

“What? Soarin, you’re being weird tonight,” Dash pouted. “Whoa!” she yelped as he suddenly pushed her gently until she rolled off and lay beside him. “Soarin? Seriously what’s the—” she stopped as Soarin turned on his side to face her. There was a different look in his eyes. Different from the usual competitive gaze. His eyes looked calm. They looked gentle. Dash remained silent as those eyes looked her over.

“You know Dash…” he began quietly. “I’m all for the roughhousing and wrestling…” he reached a hoof forward and gently stroked it against her face. “I don’t think… I really, truly show you how much I love you enough,” he ran his hoof over her cheek, around her ear into her mane, and stroked it all the way down the back of her neck.

Dash stared back at him. This was… different.

“Soarin…” she spoke up as a light blush crept on her face. “You’re getting super sappy on me…”

“I don’t care,” he said instantly. Dash flinched slightly and her eyes opened wider. “Just let me look at you… enjoy you…” he said while his light touch continued down her cheek again.

This was a much different situation than the usual. Dash was so used to the two of them fighting over who had who pinned. Soarin had put them side by side, facing each other. They were on equal terms with nothing to scrounge for. She felt her body tingle at his gentle touch. It sent delightful shivers through her. This was different… but she kind of liked it. Not that she would admit it. She was actually a little disappointed when Soarin suddenly stopped and pulled his hoof back, but he looked right into her eyes again, studying her features carefully.

“Dash, you’re a tough mare. You’re a badass. You’re a bundle of action. But…” Soarin reached his hoof out, but this time ran it from her neck down the curve of her physique. “But I feel like you need to be told… just how beautiful you are…”

“Huh…?” Dash felt her face heat up.

“I need to tell you how lost I get in your eyes…” he continued.

Dash didn’t know what to say or do. She thought he was being so damn sappy, but she was swooning like mad at his romantic words. She liked it so much more than she was willing to admit. He was completely in control. She could not move, and his words had frozen her in the warmest way imaginable.

“Sometimes… I want to dial back the roughness…” Soarin edged towards her and reached a hoof behind her head. “I want to be soft… and gentle… because you’re just that special to me…”

Dash instinctively closed her eyes as Soarin’s lips softly caressed hers. Dash felt her whole body heat up, but it wasn’t an untamable desire, it was more relaxed and comforting. She leaned her head in, completely locking their lips together, but keeping the feeling smooth and slow. Soarin continued. Making sure he left no part of her lips unattended to. There was no tongue battling, no nipping or play biting, just genuine romantic kissing.

When he finally pulled away from her, he did so very slowly so he could both hear her exhale in delight and feel her warm breath splash against his nose. He smiled as she slowly opened her eyes and looked at him. She looked confused, but at the same time very happy.

What did… what did Soarin just do to her? She was in love with him already and this sure as hell wasn’t the first time they had kissed… but that kiss was so much different. They had always been so rough… Dash just felt like that was how it would always go. Was this how true love felt? The way each and every small and gentle motion made every little piece of fur on her body tingle and stand on end… was unbelievable. Her body shivered with a delight that not even sex brought her. Just when she thought she had love figured out… this happened.

And… it was amazing. Absolutely amazing.

Art by: GlitterDash (Dev art: chessaw)

“I think I liked that more than I should have,” Dash’s voice was slightly higher than normal and squeaked slightly. “I just… Soarin… ahhh…” she hugged herself. This was so unnatural to her. She felt so… mushy. Soarin chuckled and stroked her mane with his hoof again. She stiffened, but then relaxed and sighed so much that it was a surprise she didn’t turn into a liquid and rain down from the clouds.

“It’s okay to be romantic and girly sometimes Dash. You don’t need to put that shield up with me,” he reassured her. She puffed her cheeks out and looked away from him while glaring. He couldn’t help but laugh at how adorable it looked with her face blushing madly at the same time.

“Fine,” Dash huffed. “But if you tell anypony about this, I’ll kill you.”

“Fair enough,” Soarin smiled. Dash looked him in the eyes and lay completely still. Soarin had the feeling she wanted something. “Yes?” he asked instinctively. Her eyes widened slightly and darted around a couple times.

“Um…” she closed her eyes tight and her face grew redder for a moment. “Um…" she opened her eyes. "Could you… do it again?” she asked very quietly before slamming her eyes shut once again. She felt so stupid. This wasn’t like her at all… but for him. He was a special case.

“I was going to anyway,” Soarin leaned into her again. Dash surrendered immediately, closing her eyes and reaching her face towards his. The shocks of delight surged through her again as she felt the gentle touch of both their lips and of his body against hers. Dash released a soft moan: a moan of pure delight, not pleasure. Dash reached her hooves up and gently placed them against the sides of his head, as if demanding he not stop.

Soarin obeyed, tipping his head to give their lips different angles as they moved softly over themselves.

Soarin pulled away again and watched with satisfaction as Dash pulled her legs up to her chest and shuddered with a content sigh.

“Gosh, Soarin… I don’t… I don’t know what…” she stopped as he placed a hoof gently over her lips.

“Nothing needs to be said,” he smiled at her. “I just… really wanted you to feel it. To feel what I feel whenever you’re on my mind,” he stuffed one arm into the cloud and reached his other arm over her to grab her around the midsection and draw her into a tight hug. He nuzzled the top of her head. “I love you so much, Dashie…” he said softly. Dash tingled in his grip, then smiled while nestling herself into him.

Fanart by: Fuzzette

“I love you too you big dumb—” she stopped. Soarin blinked and looked down at her. “Sorry…” she grinned sheepishly. “I love you too… Soarin,” she corrected herself while tipping her head up and giving him a light peck on the cheek.

She could get used to this. It was new… it was different… but it felt so damn good. Sweet romance was not her thing… but with Soarin she could make an exception… especially if it always felt that amazing.

Soarin sighed and glanced down at the compound.

“I’d love for this to last another few hours… but I should get you back,” he grunted in frustration.

“Aww…” Dash voiced her disapproval. Perfect timing… just when she had felt perfectly comfortable.

“If you aren’t in the barracks by lights out and I’m missing too, Spitfire will get suspicious. Hell, I bet Fleetfoot already noticed and is combing the whole damn base to find and spy on us,” he added, earning a chuckle from Dash.

“Okay… I guess…” Dash sighed. “When I become a Wonderbolt we won’t have this damn problem,” she said as they stood up.

“You still gotta earn that,” Soarin nudged her. She looked at him and pouted.

“What? You don’t think I will?”

“I never said that,” Soarin chuckled as the two lifted off and glided back towards the base. “To be honest I’m looking forward to the show you’ll be putting on tomorrow,” he reassured her as they glided down back to his window.

Soarin found his thoughts going to the elite selection again… nopony had earned it yet… but he was bound by his profession to make the best choices. He’d have to choose against her if she didn’t fit the mold, but it was still too early to determine any of that. Dash was perceptive and resourceful. He was sure she’d have no problem in figuring out and showing them what they wanted to see.

Why was he thinking about this now?

After such a tender moment, his head was still in a battle over what he should do. It would be over soon. Tomorrow he’d know for sure what he had to do.

He and Dash landed back on the windowsill and entered his room.

“I know she’s up to something, I just know it!” Arctic Blast mumbled to herself as she came across the stairs in the lobby.

It was fifteen minutes until lights out. She had just combed the whole ground floor. The Wonderbolt rooms were on the third floor… she had to check. She’d pull Dash right off of Soarin if she had too. He’d never let a pony like Dash get on him willingly.

Arctic slowly made her way up the stairs.

Soarin peeked out from his door before giving Dash a quick nod. They both stepped out, seeing absolutely nopony in the halls at all.

“Yeah, you better get back down there,” Soarin smiled. “Trust me, Silver Lining is in charge of cadet curfew tonight… and you don't want to piss him off.”

“I’ve actually gathered that much,” Dash chuckled, remembering Silver’s creative threats.

Arctic paused halfway between the second and third floors. She definitely heard some talking. She quickly trotted up the rest of the steps.

“Well, thanks for sneaking me out…” Dash smiled at him. “Screw the professionalism, I was dying to spend time with you,” she nuzzled her head against his neck.

“Likewise Dash…” Soarin replied while glancing back and forth to make sure the halls remained clear.

Arctic moved towards the main hallways of the third floor. She could hear voices coming from right around the left corner. She slid up against the wall and edged towards it.

“Good luck tomorrow Dash,” Soarin smiled. Dash looked back and forth.

“There’s nopony else around, gimme one more?” she puckered her lips and batted her eyelashes at him.

“Heh, I’ll never say no…”

Arctic reached the corner of the hall… and slowly peeked around the corner.

Soarin pulled Dash’s face towards his, and kissed her softly.

Arctic’s eyes slowly grew. They grew wider, and wider, and wider as they registered what lay no more than ten feet before her.

Soarin was kissing Rainbow Dash. Dash wasn’t forcing him. He was kissing her.

Arctic’s ears flopped down, her legs began to shake, her mouth hung open, and all the air left her lungs. Her brain was telling her to scream, but she had no air to create even a simple squeak.

“Love you Soarin,” Dash said as she broke away.

“Love you too, Dashie,” Soarin said back before moving back into his room.

Love you too, Dashie.

Love you too, Dashie.

Love you too, Dashie.

Love you too, Dashie.

Love you too, Dashie.

Love you too, Dashie.

Love you too, Dashie.

Each time the words swirled around in Arctic’s head she felt like somepony was breaking a chair over her back.



But Soarin was HERS!!! Not Dash’s! This wasn’t right at all!

She shuffled backwards, falling onto her plot. She didn’t know what to do or where to go. Her brain was literally broken. The sound of hooves came closer and closer.

Dash turned the corner and stopped dead in her tracks. She yelped in surprise and stared wide eyed.

Arctic Blast!?

Had Arctic seen them?

Judging by Arctic’s body language and “flick away from shattering” look… she had seen. She had seen them kiss.

Dash began to panic. Now what? An excuse? An explanation? What would she do to—

Dash instantly stopped herself. She had almost completely forgotten something she was thinking about before: Arctic had no credibility.

Arctic had literally been a thorn in everypony’s side the whole time she had been there. She could say anything she wanted about seeing Soarin and Dash… who was going to believe her? Nopony at all. It’s what she got for being such a bitch and never shutting up about “her stallion.”

Speaking of…

“Hmph…” Dash smirked. She felt… a frightening urge to pour salt on the wound. “You know… Arctic…” Dash began as she slowly walked beside the broken fan girl. “Normally I’d have sympathy in a situation like this…” she glared at Arctic. “But you’ve done nothing to earn it.”

She walked up real close to Arctic, who just stared into Dash’s eyes with disbelief.

“How about I take a page from your book here, hmmm?” Dash narrowed her eyes. “Back off.”

Arctic flinched and gasped as Dash said the words harshly. She wasn’t done either.

“He’s MY stallion. Not YOURS. In fact… he’s BEEN my stallion for almost a year… so BACKTHE HELLOFF,” Dash stomped her hoof down with each word.

Arctic quickly stood up on her shaking legs, turned, and sprinted back down the stairs.

“Good riddance…” Dash added for her own satisfaction after the fact.

Part of Dash felt like she was a bit harsh… but Arctic had been nothing but the most unpleasant pony she had ever met in her life. She had been a bitch to her friends and had been trying to climb all over Soarin since she got there. Arctic was here for Soarin, not for the Wonderbolts. Many others came and tried their hearts out, but she got farther than most with such idiotic intentions driving her.

Arctic just barely squeaked through. There was no way she’d make the top twenty-one, especially after the apparent brutal testing happening the next day.

Dash had never felt so much ill will towards another before… but Arctic had dug her own grave. It was time for her to roll in it.

--- To Be Continued ---

Chapter 26: Preparing for the Gauntlet

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Piercing the Heavens
By: Calm Wind

Chapter 26:

“EVERYPONY UP! EVERYPONY GET THE HELL UP!” Soarin shouted from the doors of the barracks as he and Silver Lining made their way down the aisle, banging their hooves against every bunk frame as they moved down the aisle.

“No snoozing! On your hooves! NOW!” Soarin yelled again as the cadets began to shift out of bed. Silver Lining growled when he saw the slow pace of everything.

“I want every one of you sorry sacks of shit out of here and in the mess hall in ten minutes!” Silver yelled as he and Soarin turned and headed back down the aisle. “So help me Celestia, if you’re the last son of a bitch out the door, I will duct tape your eyeballs the back of your head so you can WATCH me kick your ass!” he threatened.

The cadets all froze for about a second before they started moving at about three times the pace. Soarin grinned and glanced at Silver as they walked.

“How do you come UP with that stuff on the fly?” Soarin chuckled.

“Experience, son,” Silver smirked as they got to the entrance and turned around. Some cadets were already heading out the door.

Dash trotted quickly out of the bathroom and headed for the doors. She still had a good four minutes, no eyeball duct tape ass kicking for her. She looked to her right as she made her way down the aisle.

She passed right by Arctic Blast’s new bed. She had moved immediately after the scene last night. Arctic was still sitting on the bottom bunk. As Dash walked by, Arctic narrowed her eyes into the sharpest glare her face could muster and locked onto Dash. Dash met the glare head on, not flinching or hesitating in Arctic’s lack of intimidation.


To be honest, Dash wasn’t expecting Arctic to be angry. She half expected to wake up the next morning and see Arctic crying in the corner.

Dash shrugged it off. It didn’t matter. Arctic was beaten. Dash had won. If things were different, Dash would be worried about her spilling the beans to everypony. The Wonderbolts all knew about it already, so they could easily say whatever, but even the cadets wouldn’t hear her out. She had been so damn annoying. None would believe a word she said.

So she was angry. Big whoop, she could kiss Dash’s ass. Arctic deserved no sympathy and got every bit of what was coming to her.

“Hmm!” Dash lightly grunted as she made a brief stop by her bunk. She had literally rolled out of bed and run to the bathroom, so she didn’t have much of a chance to stretch out. She bent down and reached her arms out first, and then stretched out and shook both legs. They were a little sore, but nothing that would slow her down. She reached her neck from side to side. Nothing happened on the left. A loud KRICK sounded out on the right. “Oo, yow!” Dash blinked and chucked as she shook her head out.

Last but not least, the wings. The wing joints right where her shoulder muscles met the wings were pretty tight, but once she got them moving she was sure they would be fine. She fully extended her wings. The right wing was fine. But when she moved the other, she flinched and cringed as the muscles in her right wing cramped up. She quickly stretched and flexed her right wing multiple times until the spasm died down.

That wasn’t good.

She carefully moved her right wing around slowly. Nothing there, but she feared making sudden movements. A brief wave of panic rushed over her. What perfect timing to have a wing problem.

The sense of dread faded quickly though. It was just a small cramp. It’s not like she strained a muscle or dislocated anything. She’d just have to make sure she was well hydrated before the tests started.

They did have an hour between breakfast and the testing for preparation… Dash decided she could make use of that time. The athletic trainers were on duty for the cadets if they required assistance. It would probably be a good idea for her to get her wing checked out, just to be on the safe side if nothing else.

Either way, the number of cadets present in the barracks was dwindling fast. Taking Soarin’s advice of not pissing off Silver, she quickly moved into the aisle and towards the exit.

Dash made it to the doors, taking a long, but subtle glance at Soarin as she passed. Food time, wing check time, then impressing her stallion and the others time. It was going to be one hell of a day.

Arctic snarled quietly as she watched Dash walk all the way down the aisle and out the door.

That bitch. That ugly, over-muscled, butch stallion stealer!

Arctic wasn’t sad. In fact she was nowhere near. Last night she cried a little, but the tears slowly dried up and all she could feel was pure, untamed rage.

Soarin was supposed to be hers. She had it all worked out and Rainbow Dash ruined it! She ruined EVERYTHING! She must be leading him on. There was no way a stallion like him would choose a mare like Dash over her.

Today would be the day. Today she would out-fly Dash in EVERYTHING! She would show Soarin who was the better mare. He would come to his senses and be hers!

Rainbow Dash was going down. She would see to it personally!

Soarin carried his tray towards the door to the mess hall side room. He smiled as he looked over his food.

Fewer cadets meant the chef’s could prepare actual food. Soarin had never been happier to see a fresh bowl of plain oatmeal, and some scrambled eggs that had actually been left in the pan for more than ten seconds. Today was going to be a stressful day, but he was at least glad he could get a decent meal in.

He casually trotted to the side room door and opened it.

“FIRE!” Blaze’s voice met his ears from inside. All Soarin saw was a pair of bands stretched taught on both sides of the door frame, leading inside. He instinctively ducked. A paper plate covered with whipped cream went searing over his head.

A loud PAFF signaled that it hit something behind Soarin. Soarin looked over his shoulder and saw Silver Lining, standing completely still with a plate full of whipped cream stuck to his face. Soarin looked into the room to see Blaze and High Winds both looking towards the door with looks on their faces that screamed “Oh shit…”

Soarin quickly stepped aside as the plate slowly peeled off Silver’s face to reveal a whipped cream covered glare and scowl.

“Aheheh…” Blaze put her hooves behind her back and smiled.

“She did it,” Winds pointed at Blaze, sat down, faked a yawn, set her face on the table, and pretended to be asleep.

“WHAT?!?!” Blaze turned sharply as Winds began fake snoring. “Winds! You damn traitorous bitch!” she reached down and shook Winds, but she continued to feign sleep.

Silver whipped his face back and forth until most of the cream fell from his face. He just grumbled as he passed behind Soarin and sat by himself at the unoccupied table.

Wave Chill was sitting at the table with Blaze and High Winds, minding his own business and staying out of their antics.

“That’s my ass in a vice for weeks…” Blaze sighed as she sat back down. High Winds released a very loud fake snore beside her. “YOURS TOO, BACKSTABBING BITCH!!!!” she yelled at Winds, who only snorted in reply.

Deciding not to take any chances, Soarin joined Silver Lining. Silver didn’t look like he was in the mood for conversation. That was fine by Soarin. He wanted to enjoy his first semi-decent meal in three days.

“Hey Wave!” Blaze yelled even though Wave was directly across from her. He set his food down and sighed.

“What?” he asked unenthusiastically. Blaze sneered.

“So have you and Spitster had make up sex yet?” she couldn’t stop her sneer from growing. Wave said nothing. He merely stared at Blaze from across the table with his ears and brow as flat as possible. He went back to eating. “It was that good, huh?” Blaze chuckled as she leaned back.

“Dude, just do her already…” Said Winds as she sat up and yawned.

“Good morning Windy,” Blaze said while rolling her eyes.

“There will be no doing of your half-sister…BLAZE,” Wave grumbled back with a surprisingly harsh tone.

“C’mon… if there’s anything she needs it’s a good screw. Maybe it’d loosen her up…” she slammed her hooves down on the table and leaned as far in towards Wave as she could. “IF YA KNOW WHAT I MEAN…” she bounced her eyebrows up and down. “Back me up Windy, you know I’m right!” Blaze sat confidently, but received no response. She blinked and turned to High Winds. She was actually was asleep on the table this time. Blaze sighed, reached a hoof down low beneath the table and leaned towards High Winds. By her body movements it suggested Blaze was reaching towards Winds beneath the table. Winds suddenly sprang up.

“WOOO!!!!” she bounced in her seat, blinked several times, and glanced back and forth. “What I miss?” she asked.

“Blazey being the usual bitch!” Fleetfoot’s voice suddenly sounded from beside Blaze. Soarin glanced over and saw Fleetfoot slap a tray down beside Blaze before using her head as an armrest. He was glad he chose this table, Wave was screwed.

“Fleet… you’ve got ten seconds to get your damn shitty hooves offa me before I—”

“Before ya what?” Fleetfoot cut off Blaze while sitting her plot down on the table, making goofy expressions into Blaze’s face, and tapping her hooves against Blaze’s head. Blaze’s face turned red and she grinded her teeth together. “Lemme hear the lion cub roar!” Fleet taunted. High Winds sighed as she leaned her face against her hoof.

“Here we go again…” she said nonchalantly as she yawned.

“I’ll wreck you Fleet! I swear I will!” Blaze barked. Fleetfoot lifted an eyebrow.

“I don’t typically swing that way, but if you really want to, I don’t think you’ll be on top,” Fleetfoot giggled as Blaze looked as if smoke would fly out of her ears any second.

THAT’S IT!” Blaze leapt up and tackled Fleetfoot onto the table.

“Hasn’t Blaze… learned by now?” Soarin sighed while shaking his head and helping himself to his oatmeal. He glanced over to see Fleetfoot on top of Blaze on the tabletop. Blaze was flat on her stomach with Fleetfoot sitting on her back. Fleetfoot began noogying Blaze’s mane while Blaze yelled multiple obscenities, some of which Soarin was sure she made up. Wave had his head on the table face down with his hooves pressed firmly against the back of his head as the mares fought in front of him. Silver Lining grunted.

“I’ve given up on her ‘learning’ just about anything,” he grumbled as he ate his pancakes.

The door opened and Spitfire stepped through. She quickly tipped her head to the right as a plastic cup flew over her left shoulder and bounced off the wall. She flattened her brow when she watched Blaze and Fleetfoot roll off the table and began grappling again. Instead of trying to stop it, Spitfire just let it happen. Blaze was way too stubborn. No matter what Spitfire said, Blaze would never learn that Fleetfoot was way out of her league physically. Spitfire could see it as she sat down beside Silver Lining… Fleetfoot’s devilish grin. She was letting Blaze fight longer this time. Fleetfoot could easily pin her down at any point, but she was purposely letting Blaze think she had a chance.

She just let it be and turned to her breakfast.

“So Soarin,” Spitfire began as Blaze and Fleetfoot fell over onto the floor behind her. “Have you talked to Rivet yet?” she asked as Fleetfoot stood up and cheered, but Blaze leapt up and clamped onto her back.

“Yeah, I spoke to him before I came here,” Soarin nodded as Fleetfoot turned and slammed Blaze against the opposite wall. “I’m meeting him right after breakfast to make sure all the courses are up and ready to go,” he picked up his water cup as Blaze and Fleetfoot ran into their table. Silver’s cup tipped and spilled a little before he quickly set it upright.

“You’re sure you want to use course eight?” Spitfire suddenly brought up. Soarin looked up from his food towards her as Blaze and Fleetfoot bounced off of Silver and fell to the floor beside their table. “Do you think any of them will actually finish it?” Spitfire added.

“If they want to be Wonderbolts we gotta make sure they can take a few bruises,” Soarin shrugged.

“Bruises or concussions?” Spitfire flattened her ears and eyed him sternly. She reached her hoof up as Fleetfoot pushed Blaze towards her. She pressed her hoof against Blaze’s back, and pushed them away from her.

“Like you’ve never taken big hits?” Soarin turned his head to the side to focus on eye on her and cock his eyebrow. “If the past year is any indication, I think toughness is a key factor.”

“Fair enough…” Spitfire sighed as she went back to her food. Fleetfoot suddenly put Blaze’s head to the table.

“Surrender?” Fleetfoot asked while holding Blaze down and bouncing her eyebrows.

“How about you fucking blow me!” Blaze spat back with her right cheek pressed to the tabletop. Fleetfoot snickered, puckered her lips, and started blowing air onto the exposed side of Blaze’s face. Blaze growled in response. Fleetfoot let up just enough to allow Blaze to push off the table and the two began grappling towards the door.

“Just don’t kill anypony alright?” Spitfire said to Soarin, completely ignoring the fighting mares. Soarin nodded.

“Don’t worry, I won’t let that happen,” Soarin assured her as he finished his food and drank the last of his water. He glanced over to the mare scuffle and saw the door open. Fire Streak walked in and immediately held his tray up to avoid spilling anything as Fleetfoot and Blaze ran into him.

Soarin rolled his eyes and gathered up everything onto his tray before standing up.

“I’ll get down there and run checks on everything as they set up,” he directed at Spitfire. She simply nodded with her mouth full of food. Soarin walked around the table, but stopped and blinked at the scene before him.

Misty Fly had pushed past Fire, handed her tray to him, and somehow managed to pry both Blaze and Fleetfoot apart. She had them both pinned to the floor on their backs with an arm against their chests. She was glaring at both of them. Fleetfoot was just smiling and laughing, Blaze was… trying to convince Misty it wasn’t her fault.

Blaze… talking to Misty.

Talking to Misty.

Blaze, for real?

“Hey! I didn’t do shit! She started it! I only fought back!” Blaze kept yelling as Misty glared at her. Fleetfoot couldn’t stop laughing.

“Blaze…” Fire sighed and she turned her head sharply to him. Since he was holding his tray in one hoof and balancing Misty’s tray on his back with his wings, he made a head motion towards Misty and flopped his ears up and down a few times. Blaze stared in confusion.

“What the hell is that supposed to… oh…” realization hit. “Dammit…” Blaze sighed.

Fleetfoot giggled, crossing her legs and putting her front hooves up behind her head as if reclining while underneath Misty’s weight.

“Hard to talk tough when you literally can’t be heard, eh?” Fleetfoot taunted.

Soarin walked up and carefully stepped around them.

“Excuse me,” he said casually as Fire let him by.

“Hey! Princess FakeMcHorn!” Fleetfoot called after him, but Soarin didn’t grace her with a response.

He didn’t have time to get caught in any shenanigans. Spitfire’s concern was well placed. He had to make sure he had everything set and a plan to prevent any serious injury. He wanted to see who was prepared to take a few hits for victory, but he wanted to prevent any trips to the hospital.

Dash poked her head into the training room after having hovered outside the door for a good minute or so. She was actually a little nervous about walking right in. This was the professional Wonderbolt athletic training staff! She didn’t want to just barge in and seem pushy, they were the best of the best, and they worked for… and with the best of the best. She flinched slightly as a small chime on the inside of the door made soft clanging tones.

“Hello…?” she said nervously as she looked in.

“Well, don’t just stand in the doorway…” a voice came from the other side. Dash yelped as the door opened and she almost fell in. “What do you need?”

“Uh…” Dash looked up into the eyes of a large, yellow earth pony stallion with a short black mane wearing a Wonderbolt officer uniform.

An earth pony in a Wonderbolt uniform? Dash glanced past him and saw more of the training staff. They were a mix of the three races. Apparently the Wonderbolts had a lot more earth ponies and unicorns employed then Dash ever knew about. She had seen a couple of the other trainers before when she last visited. In fact, she recognized the trainer across the room as the one who helped pop her wing back in after that battle against Nightshade.

The stallion cleared his throat, making Dash jump.

“Oh! Uh… sorry, I’m having a wing problem…” she quickly said with a grin while holding out her left wing. The stallion nodded and looked over his shoulder.

“Go over to the first table on the right. He pointed before heading into an office that was built into the wall opposite of the entrance. Dash nodded long after the pony had moved away. She slowly trotted into the training room.

The training room was a long room that was about fifteen feet wide from front to back. There was a wide aisle in the center and lining the walls every three feet or so were blue, padded trainer tables. There was all sorts of equipment placed upon single shelves that extended the length of the room on both sides. Dash had no idea what any of them were used for, but some of the ponies present were getting pre-workout treatment and it was clear these trainers knew what they were doing. There were also a dozen large, metal tubs closer to the entrance. They looked like one could sit or stand in them. Upon close inspection as she passed, Dash noticed one was filled with water and had a thermometer in it that was reading very hot.

“Excuse me,” one of the cadets walked past Dash with wobbly steps, he lifted up and slowly let himself down into the tub before relaxing.

A therapeutic hot tub of sorts? It had to be, Dash had heard of taking hot baths before a period of strenuous work, and taking an ice bath right after. The mere thought made her shiver. A super cold bath? That sounded terrible!

Dash made it to the first table on the right side and stood next to it. She looked up as a brown unicorn mare with a slightly darker brown mane, tied up in a ponytail, also wearing the officer uniform, trotted up to Dash and patted her hoof on the padded table. She had a silver earring in each ear, and the hoof she had up on the table had a gold marriage band around it.

“Hop on up, sweetie,” she said with a smile. Dash paused for a moment, blinked, and then quickly did as she was told. She sat down on the edge of the table, with her back hooves dangling off the end. “You’re a new face. What can I help you with?” The mare asked with an even mix of concern and professionalism.

“Um…” Dash suddenly worried she was being stupid and there was really nothing wrong. Upon looking around there were a few cadets that were dealing with what looked like much more serious problems. She didn’t want the Wonderbolt trainers… the BEST trainers to waste time on her. But she was already too deep, so she went for it. “Well, this morning my left wing cramped up on me,” she said nervously while slowly extending her wing.

“A wing cramp? That’s an easy one. Lay flat and I’ll take a look, okay?” the mare tapped the bed again while moving to Dash’s left. Dash quietly sighed in relief. They were there to help them with anything, just as Spitfire said. Plus, this mare seemed very friendly. She couldn’t worry about wasting their time. Dash slid back on the table and gently laid her body down while folding her arms in front of her to rest her chin on. “Extend your wing and let it relax at your side,” the mare ordered while standing back.

Dash carefully unfolded the wing and let it drop off the side of the table. The mare approached Dash and looked her over.

“Hmm…” the mare pondered out loud as she reached up and began applying light pressure around Dash’s shoulder muscles near the wing joints. Dash prayed to Celestia, Luna, and… even Discord that the mare didn’t accidentally hit her extra sensitive spot beneath her wing joints… the one that Soarin liked to ‘torture’ her with. The mare pressed around carefully until Dash felt something sting slightly.

“Ooo!” Dash bounced slightly on the bed.

“Found it,” the mare said casually. “Looks like you’ve got quite a big knot right here,” the mare lightly tapped her hoof on the tender spot.

“Is it bad?” Dash asked while holding her breath. The mare chuckled.

“Oh no, it’s nothing bad at all. I can easily work this out for you,” the mare suddenly left the table and went over to a metallic box of some sort with a lid and handle on it. The mare pulled open the lid while grabbing a large towel off a nearby drying rack. Steam rose up from the container as soon as she opened it. She put the towel down on the table beside the bin and used her magic to pull a ribbed pad out of the container. She let it hang above the container for a moment, letting water drip off of it before placing the pad on the towel, and wrapping it until there were two layers of towel completely around it. She picked the wrapped pad up in her magic and walked back over to Dash.

“To be honest, it’s refreshing to see one of you with a less than cringe worthy problem,” she said as she set the pad on the vacant trainer table beside Dash. As soon as she said it, the door flew open and slammed against the wall beside it. Thunderlane stumbled into the training room and collapsed on the floor.

“Can somepony please help me? I think my body is broken…” he whined as he struggled to stand. His body still had bandages here and there, and his black fur was probably still hiding lots of bruises. The mare helping Dash sighed.

“Him again?” she shook her head as the yellow stallion trainer emerged from the office and helped Thunderlane up before dragging him over to a table a few spots down from Dash. “He’s got a bruised everything, I swear,” the mare chuckled before lightly placing a hoof on Dash’s back. “Okay, I’m going to get a little rough on the knot in your shoulder to make the muscles relax and then you’re going to put this heat pad on it to increase blood flow to the area and loosen up your shoulder,” the mare explained while pointing to the pad on the other table. “This might hurt a little. Ready?” the mare asked. Dash gulped.

“Yes,” she said reluctantly.

“Okay, try to remain relaxed, it will be a lot less painful if the muscle doesn’t bunch up while I’m working it out,” the mare said as she propped her front hooves up on the table. Dash tried her best to relax, but remembering the last time she was at the mercy of a trainer… they used a trick on her and it was a sudden sharp pain. It fixed her wing, but damn it hurt.

Only this time there was no fake countdown… or any countdown for that matter. The mare suddenly placed her elbow onto the knot between Dash’s shoulder and wing and pressed down hard on it.

“Whoa!!” Dash flinched and tensed up slightly.

“Stay relaxed,” the mare said calmly. Dash forced her body to relax and inhaled sharply as the mare continued to work the point of her elbow roughly into the balled up muscle.

Then suddenly, the mare began to hum. Dash blinked and glanced slightly towards her. The mare’s magic was glowing faintly around her horn. It slowly extended to Dash’s back and Dash’s eyes widened as she felt a slight tingling sensation around her shoulder muscle.

After a few seconds, the pain began to lessen and lessen until Dash could barely feel the pressure at all.

“There we go, now it’s cooperating,” the mare said as she stopped humming and made a few more circles into Dash’s back before pulling away. “Here you go,” the mare hovered the heat pad over towards Dash. She grabbed an extra little pad for resting the head on and handed it to Dash. “This should be more comfortable on your arms,” she said while Dash let her slide it into place. The mare hovered the heat pad down onto the spot that was just knotted up.

Dash immediately felt the warmth of the pad through the double layered towel. It was warm, but not searing hot. It had to be pretty heated though if it felt this warm through two layers of thick towel. The mare pressed it gently against Dash’s back.

“Keep this on for ten minutes and call me over so we can stretch your wing out,” she smiled at Dash while patting the table with her hoof. Dash looked up and saw the wall clock. She took note of how long ten minutes would be, then looked back down at the trainer and nodded.

“Thanks,” Dash smiled back.

“Don’t mention it,” the trainer replied. “By the way, my name is Siren Bliss. I’m the head of athletic training here,” she introduced herself and held out her hoof. Dash’s eyes widened slightly as she quickly shook hooves. The head of the Wonderbolt trainers just helped her? That was… unexpected and awesome! Although... Her cutie mark was a purple heart with a music note over it.

“Nice to meet you,” Dash replied, while still staring at the cutie mark. She meant to tell Bliss her name, but her brain was too busy figuring out the connection of microphones to medical practice. Bliss noticed Dash’s confusion and followed Dash’s eyes to her flank. Dash quickly realized she was seen. “Ah, sorry, it’s just… not the cutie mark I expected on an athletic trainer,” Dash chuckled. Bliss smiled.

“I get that a lot. This may be my profession, but singing is my hobby,” she smiled warmly.

Speaking of singing, what exactly happened when Bliss started humming? It was as if her magic soothed the area around Dash’s cramped muscles. Dash was about to ask, but the door chimes jingled again and caught Bliss’ attention.

“Ah, saw that coming…” Bliss smiled. Matteo was standing just inside the door, looking around the room. Bliss turned around and looked deeper into the training room. “Can I get one of you big, strong earth stallions to push these two tables together for me?” she yelled in the direction of three earth stallions and pointed to the two empty tables to the right of Dash. One of the stallions quickly closed a cabinet he was searching through and trotted over to the second and third trainer tables on the right side. He pushed them together as Bliss moved over to Matteo. “Same thing honey?” she asked as she approached him.

“Yes,” Matteo said simply with a nod.

“Double table’s already set for you, second on the right next to the rainbow mare,” she made a head motion towards the table beside Dash as she walked around him and used her magic to open a cabinet near the door.

Matteo looked up and instantly spotted Dash. She smiled and waved at him, receiving a nod in return as Matteo walked over and lifted his hulking body up onto the double trainer table. Even with two tables together he almost didn’t fit. He was all muscles now, but Dash could only imagine how much space he took up back when he was ‘Fatty Matty.’ Matteo glanced at the wrapped head pad on Dash’s back between her wings.

“Wing issues?” he asked as Bliss walked around holding several rolls of blue athletic wrappings and white athletic tape in her magic. Dash nodded.

“Wing cramped up this morning,” Dash said with a slight sigh of frustration. She looked over curiously as Bliss dropped the wrappings and tape on the wall shelf above the trainer tables, and then used her magic to pull over a large wooden box.

“How are the wings feeling this morning?” she asked Matteo as she stepped up on the box so she could actually see over him. Matteo tipped his head back and forth as he made circular motions with his folded wings.

“A little stiff, but the wrappings are still doing a better job than my wing braces. It’s usually much worse,” Matteo explained.

“Good! Then we’ll keep doing it. Up,” Bliss tapped his left wing. Matteo unfolded his massive wing and it extended so far over that it cast a shadow over Dash. Dash continued to watch as Bliss used her magic to grab the roll of athletic wrapping first. The wrapping was a soft, stretchy material that didn’t stick, but could be wrapped around joints in certain patterns. Its main purpose was to surround the area being wrapped before it was covered with the tough, sturdy athletic tape. It would be extra painful to peel tape right off the fur… or in Matteo’s case, the feathers.

Bliss focused the wrapping around the base of Matteo’s wing joint before moving up his wing a few times and stopping just before where his wing feathers began. She placed her hoof down on the wrapping and tore it off from the roll before she brought the tape up and repeated the entire process with the tape, covering the wrapping. She tore off the tape at the end and patted the wrap with her hoof.

“Is that good? Too tight? Too loose?” Bliss asked. Matteo glanced at his left wing. He folded it, extended it, gave it a gentle flap, and tried moving it about a little. He nodded to Bliss.

“Perfect,” he said simply as he refolded his wing.

“Alright then,” Bliss smiled, hopped down, and dragged the box around to the other side. Dash tipped her head as she pondered what the wrappings were for. She glanced up at the clock. Still six-ish minutes to go with the heat pad. She had nothing better to do, so why not?

“Say big fella,” Dash caught Matteo’s attention as Bliss hopped up on the other side of him. “You look like you have much WORSE wing problems, unless this is for something else…” she said while shifting the way her head rested on the pillow pad. Matteo sighed.

“You’d be right,” he began as Bliss tapped his right wing and he opened it up for her. “My wings have never agreed with me much.”

“How so?” Dash asked, trying to pass the time, but she was also genuinely curious.

“I’m… abnormally large for a Griffon…” Matteo paused as he heard snickering. He turned and looked at Bliss. She had paused in wrapping up his wing.

“Sorry,” she giggled. “Just… really? You don’t say?” she forced herself to stop laughing, took a deep breath, and went back to wrapping Matteo’s wing. Matteo looked back to Dash to see her holding in a chuckle herself. He rolled his eyes and continued.

“Because of my size and weight, a lot more stress is put on my wing joints and tendons. The bases of my wings tend to be incredibly stiff the next morning. Having them taped up like this…” he lifted his left wing to show the taping. “…helps stabilize my joints and prevents the muscles from overextending each time I flap my wings.”

“Wow… that sucks,” said Dash as she thought about how much of a pain that had to be, in more ways than one. “So wait… are you hurting from yesterday because the pie battle was unexpected?” she referred to the surprise fake mess hall from yesterday. Matteo shook his head.

“I have wing braces I wear normally. They are black so I doubt you could see them on my wings. They help a little, but not as well as taping. Again, it’s not that I can’t fly without it… it just makes the next morning less painful.”

“Well, if today is as rough as Soarin says it’s going to be, I’m sure the wrap will help,” Dash nodded.

“No doubt,” Matteo nodded back in agreement. “It’s about time things got more physical too. Yesterday was… rough for me,” he said with a dissatisfied grunt. Dash picked up on it.

“I was wondering actually…” she began with a snicker. “How did you do in the fake murder myst—”

“I don’t want to talk about it,” he said quickly and flatly.

“That good, huh?” Dash smirked.

“Done,” Bliss chimed in from his right side. “How is it?” She asked as Matteo repeated the same motions from before.

“Perfect again. Thank you.” Matteo gave her a nod of approval. Bliss smiled and pointed towards the entrance.

“Just make sure you sign the exit record before you leave,” she said as she turned to put away the tape and wrappings. Dash watched Matteo as he slid off the table and moved his wings a few more times.

“How heavy are you anyway?” Dash suddenly asked. Matteo stopped and turned to her. The look in his eyes was a mix of frustration and hesitation. “What?” Dash added with a touch of amusement.

“As long as you promise not to call me Fatty Matty…” he requested while averting his eyes slightly. Dash chuckled and shook her head.

“I know muscle weighs more than fat you big oaf. I gained like... ten pounds during my training and with the way I ate and the way I look now I know it wasn’t fat. Plus… you’re a giant, you’ve gotta be heavy,” Dash assured him with her knowledge of body composition. She felt like such a nerd throwing all this stuff around that Soarin taught her, but if she was gonna be an egghead about anything, it would be about athleticism.

“Hmph…” Matteo grunted and looked away. “I weigh three hundred seventy-five pounds.”

“HOLY SH—” Dash shut her mouth as Matteo glared at her. She swallowed and smiled. “Aha… I mean… wow, that’s a lot… I can see why you have wing issues then… wow, I can’t imagine carrying that much weight around every time I fly.”

“It’s a burden, but also an advantage at times…” Matteo trailed off. Dash looked up at the clock.

“Oh… Bliss! All done over here!” Dash called out. It was funny. Dash walked into the training room extremely nervous about annoying the professional trainers. Now she was calling to them from across the room. Bliss being so friendly really helped her loosen up, not to mention Bliss helped her shoulder muscle loosen up physically as well.

“Be right there!” Bliss called as she kept shuffling through the cabinet of medical supplies.

“I’m going to head down to the auxiliary gym, good luck today Rainbow Dash. May we both meet tomorrow as Wonderbolts,” Matteo gave her a nod and made his way over to sign the clipboard by the exit.

Dash looked up and saw Bliss approaching. She was carrying what looked like a small bottle that seemed to be filled with pills by the noise it made as she moved it in her magic. She pointed at Dash as she passed.

“Go ahead and take that off, I have to—”

“OW! Ah!” Thunderlane yelped from a few tables down on the left side. Bliss paused and glanced in Thunderlane’s direction briefly.

“I have to go reassure him he isn’t dying first,” she joked while rolling her eyes and continuing to Thunderlane. Dash carefully removed the pad and tossed it over to the double trainer table as she listened in.

“Something has to be wrong! I can barely move without my body screaming at me!” Thunderlane complained to a pegasus mare trainer. Bliss tapped the trainer on the shoulder. The trainer looked at her and shrugged.

“I’ll handle this,” she winked. The pegasus mare lifted off and went to check on other cadets.

“Sweetie… you walked here, right?” she asked while turning to Thunderlane.

“Uh… yes…” Thunderlane answered.

“No limping?”


“Can you move your wings freely?”


“Does any of the pain restrict movement?”


“Taadaa! There is absolutely nothing wrong with you!” Bliss did a pirouette and bowed to him.

“What? But I swear everything hurts!” Thunderlane scrunched his face in frustration. Bliss sighed.

“Look… Thunderlane, was it? You took a beating by Surprise’s S.O.U.P. course, and we checked you out yesterday. There’s nothing wrong with your body, you are just a little banged and bruised,” she held up the small bottle in her magic. “If it hurts that much, take two of these,” she opened the bottle and poured out two clear blue pills. “These are anti-inflammatories. It will help reduce any swelling or pain around the bruises.”

“Painkillers?” Thunderlane gave her an uncomfortable look. Bliss giggled and rolled her eyes.

“No, those are illegal, silly. These reduce swelling. They don’t cut off your nerves. Now take these with water and suck it up a little, okay?” she gave him a friendly, but stern look.

“O-okay…” Thunderlane took the pills from her, hopped off the table, and headed to a water cooler they had in the opposite corner of the entrance.

Bliss turned around and headed back over to Dash, who was snickering as she watched Thunderlane.

“Some ponies just don’t have a pain threshold…” Bliss said with a shrug as she came around the table to Dash’s left wing.

“Yeah, Thunderlane has always been a bit of a whiner,” Dash chuckled.

“Relax the wing please,” Bliss ordered and Dash let her wring flop down. “You know him?” Bliss asked as she began rotating Dash’s wing.

“Yeah, we’re both from Ponyville,” Dash answered as Bliss worked her wing. Bliss pulled it into a full extension, supported it on her shoulder and leaned up to give the shoulder to wing muscle a good stretch.

“He must be good if he made it to today though,” Bliss mentioned. Dash nodded in agreement.

“Yeah, despite the whining, he’s a diehard. He complains about pain, but he never stops trying. I think the Wonderbolts are liking that. He’s freaking out about having made it this far,” Dash added with a chuckle.

“No doubt,” Bliss smiled as she brought Dash’s wing down, got on the other side of it, and repeated the stretch going the other direction. “So… Ponyville…” she suddenly began with a curious tone in her voice. Dash waited for her to continue, curious because she hadn’t met many ponies from other cities who knew much about her tiny hometown. Then the hammer dropped. “Judging by your mane and tail… Are you… Rainbow Dash? Soarin’s ladyfriend?”

Dash’s eyes widened and she instantly stiffened, causing her wing to close and push Bliss forward. Bliss caught herself before face planting and quickly turned around with a smirk on her face.

“That must be a ‘yes’!” she said with a giddy smile.

“SHHHH!!!!” Dash shushed her while looking around. She didn’t think anypony heard it. She hoped they didn’t.

“What?” she asked while pouting. Dash sighed.

“I don’t want any of the cadets to know!” she whispered loudly. “I don’t want them to think I’m getting any special treatment!”

“Are you?” Bliss looked at her smugly. Dash was ready to shush her again, but she stopped. She hadn’t gotten any special treatment… that was true.

“Um… no.”

“Then what’s the problem?” Bliss smiled brightly again while lightly trotting in place. Dash held her hooves out and made small downward motions, hoping to signal Bliss to quiet down.

“Bliss! I just don’t want anypony to think I am… so please?” Dash bit her lower lip and kept glancing about.

“Oh, fine,” she rolled her eyes but giggled. “It’s just so nice to finally meet you. Commander Soarin never stops talking about you,” she said with a dreamy smile. “Love is so precious…”

“Yeah, I’ve heard he does that,” Dash chuckled as Bliss got all mushy and dreamy on her.

“Oh, let’s finish that stretch,” Bliss laughed sheepishly as she got beneath Dash’s wing again to stretch it some more. “Let me tell you something Dashie,” Bliss spoke up as she started pushing Dash’s wing. “That’s quite a stallion you’ve attracted. Not just physically, but in every part that matters too,” she pulled back and shook out Dash’s wing lightly before letting her refold it. “It’s hard to find a good stallion, but when you do… never let go of him. Trust me,” she winked while tapping her hoof on the table that had the marriage band around it.

Dash’s eyes widened briefly at Bliss’ gesture, thinking Bliss had pushed the subject a tad forward, but she calmed down quickly. Bliss was talking about the amazing opportunity she had with Soarin. While Bliss didn’t know all the details of their relationship, it was merely a kind gesture to show that she also knew what it was like to find a stallion that fully reflects what made her happy.

“That should do it!” Bliss smiled and stepped back.

“Thanks…” Dash stood up from the table and lightly flapped her wing a few times. It felt almost as good as new. “Awesome! And…” Dash blushed slightly as she thought over Bliss’ words. “Yeah, he is kinda totally awesome,” she chuckled as she hopped down. “Just keep that down for me okay?”

“The lips are sealed!” Bliss promised while making a locking motion over her mouth. “Good luck! Oh, and make sure you sign your name and write why you came in on the clipboard by the door,” she pointed. Dash nodded.

“Will do,” she looked at her wing and gave it to hard test flaps. “And thanks again!” she waved as she made her way over to the sign out sheet.

Now all she had to was grab her uniform and head for the auxiliary gym.

To be honest, Dash was feeling very focused. She was worried about the little new romantic experience last night distracting her from the tests. However, it was just the opposite.

She smiled to herself as she walked through the halls and back towards the barracks to grab her uniform. She was glad she and Soarin got heavily romantic last night. She had been grinding her teeth to spend time with him since she arrived. Soarin’s incredibly tender and caring gesture to her last night satisfied the urge and more. Now she just wanted to kick some ass.

Dash felt super charged. This was a defining moment of her life. Also, the more she saw the kinds of great ponies and great facilities the Wonderbolts had access to, the more she felt excited for potentially getting a chance to make full time use of them. That, and all the amazing ponies she’d be able to just spend time with.

Time to kick plot and take names.

“No… no, that’s too straight, we need to have them more staggered,” Soarin pointed his arms in different directions as Fire Streak and Wave Chill glanced up at him. “If the pendulums are too straight, it will be easy for them to time a linear shot through them. This course is all about uneven paths and changes in speed,” Soarin explained.

“Any farther and I doubt any of them could make the turn, commander…” Fire scratched his head as he flew up to Soarin and looked down to get Soarin’s view.

“Again, Fire, it’s not if they can make the turn, it’s how they handle not being able to make a clean turn,” Soarin explained to him. Fire gave him a look mixed with confusion and disbelief.

“This is why I never run your courses, Commander, you’re going to kill one of the cadets with a course like this,” he warned. Soarin shook his head.

“We need Wonderbolts that are willing to take hits. Taking it easy on them is not an option,” Soarin clarified.

“Right here?” Wave called from below after dragging a large metal pole further away.

“That’s perfect!” Soarin pointed at him and winked. Wave backed away from it and blinked.

“Commander, this turn is suicide!” Wave reached his hooves towards the contraption.

“Wave, not you too…” Soarin sighed and shook his head.

The turn in question was right after the exit of a very cramped tunnel. There was a metal pendulum swinging in front of the tunnel exit, barely within sight as one traveled through the tunnel. A large, padded wall was erected about seven feet from the end of the tunnel. One had to react to the swinging pendulum while shooting out of the tunnel, and then turn before running face first into the wall. Then they had to fly along the length of the wall and make a sharp turn around the corner, before another pendulum, possibly swinging at them depending on one’s luck, appeared as an obstacle.

“Okay, both of you watch,” Soarin grunted as he flew down into the middle of the course where the tunnel started. Soarin pushed his goggles down and cracked his neck while focusing on the tunnel.

With a loud grunt he pumped his wings hard and pushed himself into the tunnel. He picked up speed as he winded around the inside and fired out the other end past the currently still pendulum. Right before he smacked against the wall, Soarin thrust his wings out and threw his arms and legs to the right to turn his body as he braked, he slammed his hooves against the wall and kicked off, speeding around the corner and dipping beneath the other, currently non-swinging pendulum. He dove down so as not to traverse any more of the course before he pitched around and flew back up to Wave and Fire.

“See? It’s doable,” he nodded while crossing his arms.

“Yeah… for YOU, sir…” Wave scrunched his face while looking back at the deathtrap of a course.

“Look, I have it all figured out,” Soarin sighed while shaking his head. “Just trust me, okay?” Soarin shrugged as he started floating away from them. “Now get the rest of those pendulums up… and please put them where I told you the first time.”

He turned and glided a little ways away. He stopped beside the little yellow stallion, who was holding the blueprint and looking it over. Soarin pulled up beside him and glanced at the blueprint.

Soarin scrunched his brow and looked carefully at the blueprint before glancing up at sets of padded walls all fitted with spring hinges that were being moved into place on a course further over. They were special walls, set up like double doors that one had to strike with their body in order to make it through them, the spring hinges resisting the movement and forcing the walls back into place after being hit. They gave a ‘breaking the door down’ feel. As Blaze and High Winds moved them into place Soarin scratched his head.

“Didn’t we pull those out to reinforce them?” he said. The little yellow stallion kept eyeing the blueprints carefully. “They broke after two hits last time,” Soarin added. He glanced at the little stallion. “You didn’t… upgrade them ALREADY… did you?” he asked. The stallion still didn’t answer. Soarin sighed and rolled his eyes. “RIVET!”

“Ah! Huh?” the stallion flinched and looked up from the blueprints at Soarin.

“Welcome back to Equestria,” Soarin chuckled as he shifted around to look at the blueprints. “Did you already make the changes to the blast walls I requested?”

“Yeah,” Rivet replied quietly. Soarin blinked and looked at him in surprise.

“Wha… Rivet I left those things in pieces last time I used them. You fixed them… and made the upgrades already?” Soarin asked in disbelief.

“All I had to do was improve the spring coil as well as add a second one. There’s a padded reinforcement lining on the inside of the coil box as well. A small decrease in the size of the spring guarantees less stress on the coil itself. Normally that would decrease resistance, which we didn’t want because of how easily you blew the other one apart. So by adding a second one to the mechanism, it allows us to use smaller coils, but gain extra resistance. It should be able to withstand any force you apply to it… as long as you don’t purposely try to overstress it,” he glanced at Soarin, who was staring dumbly at him.

“That was a lot of words for, ‘holy shit, you work fast,’” Soarin chuckled. Rivet frowned and shook his head.

“I didn’t do that much,” he said as he looked back at the blueprints. Soarin reached over and pulled the blueprints down.

“Rivet, I broke these four days ago and was pissed because I wanted to use them in the tryouts,” Soarin pointed at the blast walls. “And they’re already fixed, upgraded, and ready to use… wait, did you run tests on them too?!” Soarin remembered that part of Rivet’s process. Rivet kept his eyes averted and nodded.

“Yeah, I had them test it right after I finished,” he sighed. “I thought Calm was gonna break them, but they held together.”

“Ha! Calm couldn’t put a dent in them? If that’s the case, I doubt anypony will…” Soarin smirked. “How many times did he try?”

“A lot,” Rivet said with slight displeasure. “I lost count at eight. Bitz and Shine ended up stopping him before he hurt himself… but not after he plowed over Swift once by accident.”

“Pfft!” Soarin held in a laugh. “Calm is too determined for his own good. Those four crack me up. I bet they’re fun to work with,” Soarin looked to Rivet. Rivet smiled weakly for a moment.

“Yeah… they’re cool,” he said quietly as Soarin eyed the new blast walls.

“I gotta try it out,” he quickly dropped down and waved for Blaze and High Winds to move back. There was a section with three of the blast walls in a row. There was only ten feet separating each one. Soarin took a deep breath and shot upward into a long loop, arcing down and picking up speed as he leveled out and seared towards the first wall. He focused on it, and gritted his teeth as he brought his hooves up to his chest and thrust his right shoulder right at the crack in the padding between the two panels of the wall. The walls flung open as Soarin rammed his shoulder against them. As soon as he felt the first strike he threw his other shoulder forward as his momentum thrust him at the second wall. Again, the wall was forced aside by Soarin’s mighty shoulder blow. He felt slightly disoriented after the second hit, but two blinks refocused him three feet from the third. With no time to thrust his shoulder, Soarin pulled back both hooves and punched them into the wall to force it open as he sped through.

Soarin pulled up and hit the brakes as he came around to see all three walls had realigned quickly. The new blast walls were perfect. They actually required a good amount of force to break through. The older ones were too easy to push aside, and tended to swing violently back and forth for a good ten minutes before they settled. Soarin grinned in satisfaction and flew back up to Rivet.

“How are they?” Rivet asked from behind the blueprints. Soarin glided up with a smile.


“YIKES!” Rivet suddenly flinched, frantically folded the blueprint unevenly, tucked it under his wing, and flew right up against Soarin as if hiding in the shadow of Soarin’s large body. Soarin blinked in surprise.

“Whoa! What the—”

“Hey! Everypony! Half an hour till go-time!” Fleetfoot’s voice came from the entrance. Soarin glanced down to see her waving her hooves in the air before leaving.

“Oh,” Soarin chuckled as Rivet peeked over Soarin’s back. Fleetfoot was on schedule keeping duty. She had been put in charge along with Silver Lining to make sure the cadets were all on time and the day proceeded as scheduled. Soarin was more than certain Spitfire assigned her the job on purpose to keep her mostly out of the gym so Rivet could do his work.

Rivet sighed in relief as he grabbed the blueprint from beneath his wing and unfolded it again to continue surveillance of the building.

“Anyway,” Soarin chimed in, “to answer your question before Silly McRivetSquee walked in, yes. It’s pretty much perfect compared to the older one. You do awesome work, kid.”

“No, it’s nothing big…” Rivet quietly deflected the compliment. Soarin flattened his ears.

“Yes, it is,” Soarin countered while pointing at the blueprints. “Do you think I could put these things together? Absolutely not.”

“I’m…” Rivet floated slightly away from Soarin while averting his eyes and shaking his head. “I’m not that special…”

Soarin sighed heavily as he kept up with Rivet’s subtle escape hovering. He put himself right next to Rivet and ruffled his mane lightly.

“Sure Rivet… sure…”

--- To Be Continued ---

Chapter 27 (Part 1 Finale)

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Piercing the Heavens
By: Calm Wind

Chapter 27:

Rainbow Dash took several deep breaths as she turned towards the doors of the auxiliary gym.

It was time for focus.

Time for speed.

Time for power.

Time for success.

Visualize success.

Be victorious.

Be the best, and nothing else.

Dash mentally prepped herself for the challenges ahead. This wasn’t going to be easy, but she was ready. She did all the training, she did all the wing ups, she lifted all the weights, and she wasn't gonna let it all go to waste.

“Nervous?” Storm Front’s voice suddenly came from her right as she entered the gym. She glanced up at him.

“Would you think I’m lying if I said no?” she smirked. Storm chuckled and shrugged.

“I would expect you to scoff in my face and say something like who the hell I think you are or something,” he joked.

“Three days in and you know me too well,” Dash chuckled along with him as they joined the much smaller crowd of fifty cadets.

The gym had no Wonderbolts in it, save for Silver Lining and Fleetfoot at the entrance. The curtain was down, leaving them in the open area of the first fourth of the gym. The cadets were all standing together as the last few entered. Fleet and Silver closed the doors as Soarin and Spitfire flew over the top of the curtain and down towards them.

Dash stood firm and confident, ready for anything they would throw at her. She wasn’t “hoping” she was ready. SHE. WAS. READY. She focused on Soarin as he and Spitfire hovered a few feet above all of them. The rest of the cadets followed her example as Soarin floated in place, crossed his arms, and looked all of them over. His head bobbed up and down slightly as if he was counting them.

“Hmm… all still here, huh? We’ve got some balls on these cadets. Last time we did this half of them ran off after the pep talk,” he nodded. “We’ll see which of you can live up to your confidence,” he turned around and looked at the closed curtain. “Today is gonna be a little different compared to the other two days… all three tests… are going to be held before lunch,” he said while sharply turning back to them.

It seemed like he purposely paused to let it sink in. Dash was unaffected, but a small stir past through the cadets. It was a slight change up, but after how weird yesterday was, Dash was prepared for anything. Perhaps that was the true reason of Fleetfoot’s tests… to prepare them all for the unexpected… even if it’s just the next day.

“I have three courses set up behind me,” Soarin continued. You will get only one chance on each course, so make it count!” he floated back and forth. “These courses are all from my personal collection. I will warn you right now: they are not for the faint of heart. If you make it through all three tests without taking at least one, hard, painful fall… I’ll eat my damn goggles for lunch.”

A few snickers came from the crowd.

“You think it’s funny now, but I don’t think you’ll be laughing much soon,” Soarin growled at them. “We will go from course to course with no rest time in between. This is going to be about efficiency and your ability to keep up with vigorous training… Open up!!!” Soarin suddenly yelled. The curtain behind him activated and slowly rose up from the ground.

“Oh man…” Storm said as the first course came into view.

The first course was a series of small moving rings. Big enough for a pegasus to fit through with about three feet of space from the edges if one went through the center. The rings were swinging back and forth at different paces; some slow and some fast. Each ring was about fifteen feet apart and there was a total of twenty of them extending from start to finish.

It seemed like a simple rings course… but of course it wasn’t that simple.

Flanking the space between each ring were two contraptions on both sides that had long cannon barrels pointing in. Whatever they were for, they were probably going to find out soon enough. There were four of them pointing in between every two rings. It was probably going to be some sort of distraction. There was also a large mat laid on the floor. Probably to cushion falls.

Soarin began gliding towards it and beckoned all of the cadets to follow. They all lifted off and followed him slowly. Dash was gliding along naturally until something shoved her from the left. She easily regained control of her flight, but quickly glared in the direction it came from. She spotted Arctic Blast just as she finished scowling and turned her head away.

What the hell? Was Slutty McFangirlgasm trying to start something? Again, this was not the type of response Dash was expecting. Instead of leaving Arctic in a broken crying heap, she seemed to have… enraged her. Dash decided to keep one eye on Arctic when she wasn’t testing. Who knew what an angered, desperate mare like her would do?

They all flew up to a starting platform at the front end of the course. As they closed in and landed, Dash found the course to be elevated roughly thirty feet in the air. She looked out towards the rings and each one of them was covered with padding from the base all the way up. Good thing too, it would probably hurt like a bitch to hit one of those while falling.

“So here we have the ‘Moving Rings and Projectile course…’ I like to call it the ‘Multitask course’ for short,” Soarin flew up above them again with squads two and three joining behind him. “The point of this test will be to test your ability to control the speed of your flight, while changing directions, and while dodging,” he floated back towards the course within the line of sight of the first cannon. The cannon automatically zeroed in on him and fired. A large red dodge ball careened towards him. He reached up his left hoof and caught it before gliding back down to the cadets.

“The cannons will be firing these heavy dodge balls at you… not too bad right?” he shrugged. “Oops!” he let it drop out of his hoof. It fell to the platform and landed with a loud PLOP, bouncing about an inch before it rested firmly on the ground. “Don’t expect them to be soft,” Soarin dropped down and picked the ball back up. “And don’t expect them to be easy to catch should you think you’re a badass…” he suddenly flung the ball towards Lightning Streak. Lightning reacted and lifted his hooves to catch it in his chest. The ball SLAMMED against him and nearly knocked him out of the air.

“Oof!!!” Lightning grunted as he struggled to balance his flight.

“A couple of other things to note before we begin…” Soarin floated up to the first ring, which was stationary. “These are magically enhanced rings. There is a barrier within each one. Not only will it let us know if you actually went through a ring…” he reached up and held his hoof towards the center of the ring. It struck an invisible force and Soarin pulled his hoof away quickly. “It also will only allow you through the ring if you are going fast enough. How fast? Hell if I know, I don’t hover through courses; I FLY through courses.” He hovered back down. “Oh, and that mat on the gym floor? I wouldn’t count on that providing a soft landing. And finally, speaking of rough landings…” his expression turned very harsh, adding weight to his presence as if he wanted this last point to be very clear.

“If you fall and wipe out… Your run is NOT over. Read my lips cadets. If you fall, you get your ass back up and keep going. Your run isn’t finished until you’re on the finish platform. If you can’t complete the course… I guess you can fly over it to the finish, but I don’t think we’ll find that very appealing,” he finished and glanced around at them as they remained silent.

Dash smirked as she thought about it. Magical moving rings with speed force fields, rock hard dodge ball cannons, and the possibility of rough landings? All in a day’s work. She was stoked.

“Since I have a little bit of a heart…” Soarin began again. “I’ll spare the first poor bastard in line the challenge of figuring it out for the rest of you. Want to know how it’s supposed to look? Watch and learn,” Soarin said as he lowered himself to the starting line.

Dash’s ears stood up and her eyes widened. She got to see Soarin in action! It had been such a long time, she was sure it would be an awesome show.

All the cadets backed away as Soarin landed and firmly grinded his hooves into the platform. The rest of the Wonderbolts, save for Spitfire and Fleetfoot, all took off and glided down to the gym floor.

Soarin fixed his eyes on the stationary ring and waited for the moving ring beyond it to be in a position to his liking. When it hit just the right spot, Soarin leaned back and held his wings forward. Dash braced herself, knowing exactly what was coming. Soarin pushed through the motions of the Sonic Blast-off and catapulted from the line. The burst of wind smacked against Dash and the cadets. She held firm, but the rest staggered slightly against the force.

Soarin careened towards the first ring and burst right through the magic barrier within it, leaving small sparks behind as he passed. The four cannons between the first two rings instantly turned to him and fired separately in a random pattern. Soarin did an inline twist while thrusting his arms and legs out to bat away all four dodge balls as they flew at him. He pierced through the second barrier, and pitched hard to the left without sacrificing speed. He caught one ball flying at him and twisted to chuck it at another two incoming, avoid the fourth, and even himself out through the third ring all at the same time.

It didn’t matter how sharp of a turn he had to make, Soarin’s powerful wings and the shifting of his powerful body allowed him to navigate the rings while maintaining his speed. The more impressive part was how easily he dodged and knocked away the dodge balls as if he could sense them coming. His reflexes were something else.

Each ring was flawless. He weaved and pitched with extreme expertise while fending off the projectiles with ease. However, right before he cleared the nineteenth ring…

“Argh!” Soarin grunted as he caught one ball while another smacked right into the side of his face. He was knocked off course, but he quickly pumped his wings to put himself back into position. The one problem was that he lost most of his speed.

He did not falter.

Soarin slowed all the way down, and placed all four of his hooves on the barrier within the final ring. He performed the Sonic Blast-off again, shooting himself off the barrier and straight up into the air. He did a hard loop, coming all the way back down and firing through the last ring as hard as he could.

“Heh… bitch slapped at the end,” Fleetfoot chuckled beside Spitfire. Spitfire let one snort go before giving Fleetfoot a light elbow to make her shut up.

Soarin flew back around while shaking his head out. He reached up and felt around the metal band that held the false horn in place. Once again, it didn’t budge. The metal headpiece was most definitely not going to move.

“Well then!” Soarin said began as he came to a stop above all the wide eyed cadets. “As you can see…” he reached up and rubbed his left cheek. “Even I have trouble getting through these courses perfectly clean. So my offer to eat my goggles stands,” he chuckled before hardening his expression again. “I’m sure you also saw my recovery. Here’s something I want all of you to think about before we start. I care less about how fast you get through the first two courses… more about if you get through them or not. That being said, as you saw, speed is still required to get through some of the obstacles. I’m looking for effort! Not records!”

This calmed Dash’s nerves a little. She wasn’t nervous about the courses, but she had gotten a little nervous when Soarin mentioned they were getting only one chance per course. It didn’t matter how clean it was, this was about being tough and showing effort. Although Dash was sure they would be impressed if one managed to get through unhindered.

Soarin turned and glanced over the edge to see squads two and three had gathered up all the dodge balls and were placing them in the reload tubes near the floor. He nodded and clapped his hooves together.

“Let’s get this day rolling then, shall we? Line up! Give me something to be excited about!”

Dash decided to play it safe as she had with day one. She found a nice spot about ten cadets back from the front of the line to get more good looks at how the course operated. Something else she was still debating was using the Sonic Blast-off. She wanted to impress them, but Soarin made it clear they weren’t looking for times. In fact, it didn’t look like any of the Wonderbolts were timing. This was about getting from point A to point B no matter what stood in their way… that’s exactly the kind of course she expected from Soarin.

The other things she worried about with the Blast-off was the control. Soarin was obviously much better than her when it came to controlling trajectory while at high speed. It was unreal how easily he navigated the sharp turns required to hit each ring while moving so fast. It was a luxury his great strength provided him… a strength she did not possess. She’d have to sacrifice a little bit of awe to make sure she didn’t screw up. It’s not like she didn’t have other moves at her disposal. She knew how to use the abilities of Twister, Storm, and Matteo. Besides… it was still the first test. She didn’t want to tire herself out. She’d save using the Sonic Blast-off for if and when she needed to use it.

Dash moved up in line little by little, visualizing victory as before. A positive mindset would be the key to success. She knew she still had six other’s ahead of her. Matteo, Storm, Thunderlane, Twister, and… Dash took a brief look around… and Arctic. All got sucked into the back of the line. Dash glanced out to see if she recognized any ahead of her, but was surprised to see only five cadets ahead. She blinked and stepped further out.

But there were six cadets there… one of them… Dash just couldn’t see her!

Dash stared in confusion at what seemed to be a small, bright yellow filly that stood next in line to run the course. She was smaller than Scootaloo! She had a long, magenta colored mane and tail with small yellow stripes that ran through it and a pair of viridian eyes. Her cutie mark was three black outlines of stars interlocked in a triangle pattern.

Dash quickly stepped back as the filly turned and looked towards her. Dash tried to register what she had seen. Had this filly been here the whole time? How could Dash miss a cadet like that?! Well, besides the fact that she barely reached the bottom of Dash’s chest in terms of height.

Then it hit her… Little Star.

Dash wondered if this tiny filly was the name that kept appearing in third on the ranking board. Well… Dash was about to find out, because the filly was up next.

Dash stepped out to get a better view as the filly stepped up to the line.

Spitfire looked up toward Soarin, who was floating near the middle of the course to observe. Soarin watched to make sure all the dodge balls were reloaded before waving to Spitfire. Spitfire turned to the filly and nodded.

The filly did a little plot wiggle as she crouched down before leaping up and shooting towards the first ring. She made it through the speed barrier… and then stopped. Dash blinked, wondering what she was doing. The filly was just outside the sensor range of the cannons. She stuck her small wings out flat and began flapping them so fast they made a very faint buzzing sound.

She suddenly shot forward and the cannons fired. Not a single one hit their mark. She moved through the air so randomly with sudden jerks and movements. The way she moved and the way her wings buzzed reminded Dash of a dragonfly. Whenever an obstacle came near, she could shift or correct her trajectory… all while remaining perfectly straight and upright in the air. It was a very interesting flight style that Dash had never seen before. It seemed flawless at first… but nothing ever is.

With a loud crackle and pop, the filly was repelled from the second ring. The buzzing flight really increased her agility, but it killed her speed. She quickly recovered however, pulled back and gained some momentum before bursting through.

It took her a while to get through the course due to her unique flight, but she made it from start to finish with a little mishap here and there including another few barriers not broken on the first try and one dodge ball that got lucky and knocked her clear out of the air. It was damn impressive. Dash wondered how old the filly was. It was nuts that such a young flyer made it this far into the tryouts and was ranked so high on top of that.

Competition was steep, but it was better this way. Dash felt it would be awesome if the Wonderbolts just let her in… but it would be no fun. Competition added spice and challenge to it, not to mention Dash would feel like she earned it.

After a few more minutes and witnessing two rather hard falls by other cadets, it was Dash’s turn.

Dash took a deep breath as she stepped up to the line. Fleetfoot looked back at her and gave her a subtle wink as she approached while mouthing the words: “Good luck” as she smiled back, glad that at least Fleetfoot didn’t give a damn about remaining completely professional. Spitfire turned to Dash and gave her a nod.

It was time.

Dash focused on the first ring, remembering what she saw Soarin do. He had waited for the second ring to line up with the first one and got through both of them at the same time. She’d have to start a little earlier because she couldn’t risk the Sonic Blast-off, but she had good timing, she could figure it out. Then she had to worry about the dodge balls. She was the dodge ball champ back when she was a filly. That part wouldn’t be too hard. Now the question remained, could she do it all at the same time?

The second ring swung back around… GO!

Dash pulled back and fired forward. She knew she was going fast enough, but she couldn’t help but squint slightly as she pushed through the first barrier. There was no extra shock to it confirming to Dash it was just a matter of going fast enough. Then she heard the cannons fire. She actually had briefly forgotten about them. Luckily her instincts kicked in. She did a half Spiral Turn and forced her wings back to do an Air Burst. The sudden propulsion not only threw a blast of wind against the balls, knocking them away from her, but it also pushed Dash right through the second ring.

“Ah!” Dash yelped as the third ring was way off course from the first two. She was forced to slow almost to a complete stop right as the second set of cannons fired. She halted herself completely, leaning back to let the first two balls fly past her. Then she tucked her body and wings in, letting herself drop downward. The second two balls collided right where her waist would have been had she not dropped. She quickly untucked her wings and body while giving a hard downward flap to regain flight. She pitched left and pumped her wings hard as the third ring neared the end of its swing and started back in her direction. Dash forced all of her weight to the right, turning her body with the speed she had built up, and penetrating the third ring.

Then she looked forward.

She saw an opening… about a second from the current moment… the next ten rings would be swinging in an interval where she could possibly get though all of them at once. Was it worth the risk? She had no time to decide… so because she was the one and only Rainbow Dash… she went for it. Dash pulled back to let all four dodge balls whisk by between the third and fourth ring before she locked onto the fourth. She glanced behind her and made her back hooves slightly uneven. The ring she had just passed through was coming back around.

She tapped one back hoof to the ring, and then kicked the other against it HARD. She executed Storm’s Surface Tap, effectively firing her forward with more than enough speed to break the speed barriers. Her timing was perfect. The rings were lining up as she went. She passed through the fourth, making it to the fifth before the cannons could even fire. Then from the fifth to the sixth. Then the seventh… the eighth… the ninth… tenth… eleventh…

It was working! Dash couldn’t believe it worked! She only had two more to clear before she had to retake control, but it looked like it was going to be close.

She squeaked through the twelfth and gritted her teeth as she pushed her wings to the limit. The thirteenth ring was already in place… her better judgment told her to pull up and play it safe, but her inner badass told her not to pussy out.

She hardened her nerves and went for it….

It wasn’t going to work… at least if she stayed straight. Dash forced her body to the left, trying to give herself just enough of an angle at her speed in order to still make it through the ring cleanly. Even with the slight correction, it was gonna be real close. She quickly mixed Twister’s and Matteo’s moves again, doing a Spiral Air Burst to propel herself even faster. She risked not being able to control herself between the thirteenth and fourteenth rings, but at least she wouldn’t have a painful collision.

The first half of her body passed through with barely an inch between her and the edge of the ring… but then the ring struck her back legs.

“WHOA!!!” She yelled as it forced her body to tip forward wildly. She quickly ceased pumping her wings and flattened them out as she did a full front flip. The fourteenth ring was already coming about and she had to control herself. Unfortunately, she lost a lot of speed, but she couldn’t stick around or else she’d be pulverized by the dodge balls. She evened out and made a quick, hard, single flap to push herself towards the ring… and smashed right against the barrier.

“OW!” Dash yelped as she bounced off and tumbled back. She regained her flight quickly and made ready to adjust, but then…




She took four dodge balls to the body. The first to the right arm, the second to the side of the head, forcing her body to turn and allowing the third to smack her square in the gut. She exhaled loudly as all the air was forced up out of her lungs. Then the last ball flew in and struck her in the back, right between the wings.

“AHH!!” Dash cried out as her body was forced into a flailing fall. She was startled by the glancing blow on the arm, disoriented from the blow to the face, barely able to breathe from the blow to the stomach, and left in extreme discomfort by the blow to the back… right on the spot that was cramped up in the morning. With so many things diverting her focus, she couldn’t find her equilibrium. All she could do was curl her body up as the ground approached.

“HRG!!!” she grunted as she hit the floor mat. Soarin wasn’t kidding. It probably helped absorb some of the shock, but the mat was NOT soft in the slightest. “Oof!!” she grunted again as she bounced and tried to put her hooves to the mat, only to have them slip, causing her to land and painfully skid on her stomach. She ignored the pain and stood up quickly while wobbling. She looked up back into the course, but she was still a little dizzy. She fell back down and grunted before forcing herself up again. She spread her wings, but the left shoulder attached to her wing had a sharp spasm as she did.

“OW!” Dash cried out as she dropped back down.



She would NOT let this happen!

From above, Soarin held his place. Dash had taken a hard fall, but she would get up. He knew she would. She didn’t need to be saved. If anypony tried, they’d regret it. Soarin chuckled as he saw Fire Streak turn and head towards her. Oh, Fire was in for it.

Fire Streak glided over to Dash as she continued to struggle. He reached out to her as she tried to stand again. Dash looked over at him and instantly glared.

“No!” she yelled while sweeping her hoof out and knocking his away. She fell right back down without the support of all four hooves.

“Miss Dash… really, you’re hurt!” Fire tried to convince her. He quickly stepped back as she growled loudly.

“BACK OFF!” she spat at him as she forced her body up and forced her wings out again. The left wing lurched in pain as her shoulder had another spasm. “Dammit! WORK WITH ME!” she yelled as she forced her left wing in and out over and over again, wincing in pain each time. Then a loud CRACK echoed from her wing and Dash screamed in pain.

“MISS DASH!!!” Fire reacted while readying to help her, but he stopped when he saw Dash moving her left wing about normally.

“HAHA! YES!” she cheered before she crouched down and fired herself back up into the course, leaving Fire Streak in her dust.

She shot right back up into the course. She wasn’t sure if she was in the same spot that she was before falling, but it didn’t matter. She went right to work, piercing through the first ring. The cannons fired, but she dodged and used her wings to swat them away. She burst through the next ring… then the next… and the next, making slight flight adjustments between each and moving about to dodge more projectile collisions.

She was in the zone now. She had fought through the pain and the adrenaline was pumping like crazy.

With only three more rings to go, she pulled back to let the balls fly past her, and then shot forward. She penetrated the eighteenth, used the Spiral Turn to make a sharp move to the right and catch the nineteenth, and then came out of the Spiral with enough force to use the Air Burst, pushing her wings back to propel herself at an angle and through the twentieth.

She angled around and aimed for the finish platform… but was going way to fast.

“Whoooooaaaaaa!!!! OOF!!!!” Dash slammed flat against the platform and bounced, sending her over the edge. “AHHH!!!” she yelped as she tumbled all the way down and crashed to the floor again. Dash pulled her face off of the mat and sighed with a small smirk.

Not the smoothest landing… but she did it! They were looking for effort, right? Well, she couldn’t really give much more than that.

Soarin winced as he watched Dash’s “graceful” finish. It was sloppy and a little painful for him to watch, but he wasn’t looking for a smooth run.


Dash just got pulverized by the dodge balls. It looked like she had a wing problem too, but she forced herself up, made her wings agree with her, then finished the course. She skipped one ring on her way back up, but he didn’t care. He was looking for toughness and boy, did she show it there. He couldn’t help but also be impressed at how she discerned the swing interval of the rings and shot in a straight line through almost ten of them in a row. He had never pulled that off before!

Dash was off to one hell of a good start. She was at the top of the ranking board for a reason. Now she just had to show him if she was right for the elite spot. She wasn’t the only candidate, but he was rooting for her.

“Oo… Ow… Ah…” Dash cringed as she glided back over to the cadets. “Haaaaa…” she sighed when she found the group of the ponies down on the gym floor who had finished. She caught a glimpse of the bright yellow filly again, but was too focused on the pain in her wing to give it much thought.

She plopped down and began flexing and extending her left wing to make sure it stayed loose.

“Way to take a hit RIGHT to the tender spot…” Dash mumbled to herself as she rotated the wing. When she was down it felt just like it had earlier. The spasm returned and it was painful to move. She didn’t have Bliss to smooth it out, but apparently forcing it out painfully was enough to get it to smooth out.

Oh yeah, that was painful. She was glad she was in the zone, because she hadn’t felt that much pain since Nightshade dislocated her wings.

Dash glanced up just in time to see Storm Front step up. She kept rotating, flexing, and extending her wing as she watched. Storm had little trouble with the rings. He was able to cleanly maintain his speed throughout. He had more problems with the dodge balls, taking at least one hit between every ring. They were mostly glancing blows, but even when he did take one to the side or the back, he held firm. He definitely showed his sturdiness. Dash hadn’t seen him, or many of the others take any hits yet. These tests would show who could take the pain.

Storm had a rough landing on the finish platform, skidding across, but not falling off like Dash had. He grunted as he stood and shook his head out before gliding down. Dash gave him a wave as he approached and he turned to land beside her.

“Ow,” he said while comically swinging his head around.

“Did you suck at dodge ball back in school?” Dash initiated the smarm immediately. Storm tipped his head and snorted once while holding in a laugh. “What?”

“Says you. It looked like you got hit by a wrecking ball when you went down,” Storm fired back with a chuckle.

“Oh, haha…” Dash rolled her eyes but shared in the laughter.

“But man…” Storm rotated his right arm. “That was brutal! The Wonderbolts sure don’t mess around when they get serious… I hope nopony gets hurt…” he sighed in frustration as he looked over. He flinched as he saw Twister take a hit to the face and go falling towards the ground. Storm took a step forward and spread his wings, but quickly grunted and snapped them both back against his body.

“You’re really serious about keeping ponies from harm, huh?” Dash observed as Storm turned back to her.

“I wasn’t kidding. I hate it when others receive pain I could have prevented… don’t ask, I don’t know why… I guess that’s just how my brain is wired. I hate seeing others get hurt,” he explained.

“I wasn’t calling it a bad thing…” Dash cleared up as they watched Twister swan dive face plant onto the finish line. They both cringed. “But… I’m sure you’ve been holding back something fierce already,” she nudged him with a smirk.

“I have actually…” Storm frowned. “But I will respect what the Wonderbolts want here.”

“Oh man…” Dash suddenly looked up.

“What?” Storm looked over to the starting platform.

“I dunno, you may want to consider saving this one,” Dash took a deep breath and exhaled. Thunderlane was up. She wanted to have confidence in him, but… after how banged up he got from Surprise’s slide… this wasn’t going to be pretty. At all.

“Oh…” Storm looked back at Dash. “He’s—”

“He’s gonna get pulverized,” Dash finished for him.

The two watched…

“Oo…” Dash cringed.

“Ow…” Storm grimaced.


“Oh damn…”

“That’s gonna leave a—”

“OH SHIT!!!!” They yelled in unison.

“WhoaaaaAHHHHH!!!!” Thunderlane yelled as he fell and slammed to the ground shoulder first. He bounced twice, tumbled to a halt… and didn’t move.

“Dammit…” Wave Chill shook his head while looking up at Soarin.

“Let’s help him,” Fire Streak tapped Wave on the shoulder as he passed. Wave nodded and the two approached Thunderlane.

“RGH!” Thunderlane suddenly grunted and forced himself up. Wave and Fire both stopped and blinked in surprise as Thunderlane shot back up towards the course.


“AAHHH!!!!” Thunderlane fell right back down and landed roughly once again.

“Cadet!” Wave called as he and Fire moved to assist.

“WAVE! FIRE! BACK OFF!” Soarin yelled from above. The two stopped and looked up at Soarin incredulously. Soarin stared down at Thunderlane from above. He was keeping an intense analytical eye on him.

“Come on… get up again…” Soarin said to himself as Thunderlane stirred.

“Damn!” Thunderlane cursed as he rolled over and forced himself back to his hooves.

Ignoring how much his body hurt, Thunderlane fired skyward once more… and was knocked down again. He got up a third time… flew up… got knocked down. The process repeated and repeated and repeated until he fell for the tenth time.

“AH! Ahhhh…” Thunderlane sprawled out on the ground. He was covered in bruises, had a black eye, and a small trickle of blood slid down his nose.

“That’s enough!” Fire jumped over to Thunderlane and tried to assist.

“NO!” Thunderlane lurched up and threw Fire’s hoof off. Fire glared.

“Cadet! I will not allow you to hurt yourself like this!” he grabbed Thunderlane’s arm before he could attempt another takeoff. Wave joined in and held him down from the other side.

“LET ME GO!” Thunderlane yelled as he tried to shake them off. “I CAN DO IT!!!” He thrust his wings out and knocked the two of them off. “ARGH!” he grunted in pain and fell back to the ground. He pulled his face up from the mat and shook his head out before forcing his hooves to the ground and standing up once again, but his face ran right into Soarin’s chest.

“Stop,” Soarin said calmly while pressing his hoof down on Thunderlane’s shoulder. Thunderlane looked up at him while wheezing and gasping as he grimaced from pain all over. Soarin chuckled. “Heh… just like when I first met you. Nice to see that attitude hasn’t changed,” he turned and slung Thunderlane’s arm over his shoulder. “No more, you’ve shown me what I wanted to see,” he said as he turned his head to Wave and Fire. “One of you go get Bliss. He’s done for the day,” he ordered. Wave gave a salute and headed for the gym doors. Soarin lifted off, pulling the disoriented Thunderlane with him.

“Huh… wait! No!” Thunderlane realized through his daze what Soarin was suggesting. “I’m fine! I can do it!” he struggled. Soarin shook his head.

“Relax,” Soarin gave him a nudge to make him stop as they approached the finish platform. “I don’t need to see any more from you. You’ve made your point… and trust me… we’ve taken notice,” Soarin winked to him as he landed on the finish platform. He let go of Thunderlane, who collapsed as soon as Soarin let go of him. Fleetfoot and Spitfire glided over to them. Soarin made a head motion to Fleetfoot.

“Could you take him to the doors so Bliss doesn’t have to walk all the way in here?” he asked. Fleetfoot smirked.

“Sure,” she said while landing and crouching beside Thunderlane. “Hey sandbag, still with us?”

“Urgh…” Thunderlane grunted quietly in pain.

“Come on, let’s get you up,” she reached down and pulled him up before pulling his arms over her shoulders and propping him up on her back. “Sheesh… you’ve really got some determination…” Fleetfoot commented as she examined his physical state. She took off with him, leaving Spitfire with Soarin.

“That was quite something…” Spitfire thought out loud. Soarin nodded as the two took back to the air.

“I’ve never seen a pony keep trying like that before… his will to keep trying is unreal,” Soarin commented. Spitfire chuckled.

“I’ve seen it before,” she smirked. Soarin glanced at her and blinked.

“Really? Who?” he asked. Spitfire rolled her eyes and gave him an unamused look. Soarin tipped his head to the side and flopped his ears down as he tried to read what she was saying. “Oh…” he grinned.

“Took you long enough…” she chuckled. “Your medical record speaks for itself.”

“Alright, alright…” Soarin smiled and shook his head.

“Is that the same Thunderlane that whined all through breakfast about his body hurting?” Storm asked while glancing back at Dash.

“That’s how he is,” Dash Shrugged. “He moans and groans about everything, but when shit hits the fan he never quits… he’s a strange mix.”

“Well, Soarin had to give him a personal ceasefire there… He was about to break himself,” said Storm as they watched who had left to go.

Matteo was up next.

As expected, the big guy had some trouble with the rings. Not only was he about four to five times the girth of the others, but the added precision made it hard for him to hit the rings at the right speed. He had to use the Air Burst to get through almost every single one. On the flip side, it was rather amusing to watch him not even bother to dodge the projectile attacks. The dodge balls literally bounced off of him as he focused on making it through the rings. Soarin wanted toughness? He’d definitely get it here, no question.

It seemed like there was no right way to go through the course. Dash felt like that was the case on purpose. It was less about how you got through the course and more about if you could adapt to the course. Soarin couldn’t fool her, that’s exactly the kind of thing he would set up.

“Hm?” Something caught Dash’s eye. The pony up next… Arctic Blast. Storm was being hassled by Twister, who had just randomly decided to appear, so Dash focused entirely on Arctic. She wasn’t worried about Arctic outdoing her… but she couldn’t shake a bad feeling that Arctic would find a way to make it through. Dash began to wonder if laying it on super thick to her last night gave Arctic incentive to try harder.

Arctic began her run, and as expected, had little trouble getting through the rings. Arctic’s biggest flaw in flight had been her control. She had decent speed and maneuverability, but her precision and ability to slow down were cringe worthy. She overshot the rings almost every time… but she always arced back around to hit the ones she missed. She seemed pretty good at dodging.

What Dash wasn’t expecting though, was the show of resilience. Arctic took hits, she crashed twice, not very roughly, but she was forced to land. Yet, she kept at it… and eventually made it all the way to the end.

Dash’s eyes narrowed as Arctic lifted off from the finish platform and glided back over. Had Dash accidentally created a worthy adversary? She refused to respect Arctic in any way like that, but Arctic’s new determination was clear. Her mane was a mess after taking those few falls, and she didn’t even flinch at it. She clearly had a new motivation.

Arctic landed nearby and trotted towards the gathering finishers. She looked around until her eyes met Dash’s glare, and she glared right back as sharply as she could. Arctic took an angle to move closer to Dash, never breaking eye contact.

Dash lifted an eyebrow as Arctic approached. What was she gonna do? Yap at her agai—

Arctic suddenly spat. Dash winced as the spit splashed right between her eyes.

“AH! HEY!” Dash quickly wiped the saliva off her face and looked towards Arctic with a mix of anger and disbelief.

“HMPH!” Arctic scoffed as she continued walking.

“Did she just...?” Storm glanced over and blinked. The action had also grabbed Twister’s attention.

“Popped a loogie right between the eyeballs, eh? Mares sure are NASTY to each other!” Twister snickered while sneering.

“What the HELL?!” Dash grunted as she glared in Arctic’s direction. “What a bitch…” she shook her head and growled. Under any other circumstances she would have rearranged Arctic’s face for that, but she didn’t want to cause trouble. For all she knew, Arctic could be baiting her to do something stupid. She wouldn’t fall for that.

Arctic wouldn’t catch her off guard. There was too much on the line for Dash to lose focus. She would keep doing her best, and laugh as soon as Arctic was sent home in a nice broken pile of bitching and whining.

Soarin floated down towards the cadets as he observed the group post ring test. They were all a bit banged up, some worse than others. There was some moaning and groaning, but a good majority of them still had a look of determination in their eyes.

“So let me get this straight…” Spitfire hovered down beside him. “You’re going to put them through the Blast Walls… and then you expect them to run your challenge course?” she didn’t sound to enthused.

“Spitfire… I’ve gotten enough of this from the others already…” Soarin rolled his eyes. Spitfire didn’t like that.

“Soarin, you are walking a thin line between what we’re allowed and not allowed to d