by twilightsparkle3562

First published

Rainbow Dash turns to an Alcoholic Cider for comfort following Tank's hibernation

After Tank goes into hibernation, Rainbow Dash turns to an alcoholic cider for comfort and causes her friends to become concerned for her well being.

*Written at Everfree Northwest 2015 in Seattle, WA.

Behavior Unbecoming of a Wonderbolt

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By TwilightSparkle3562

Chapter 1

"Behavior Unbecoming of a Wonderbolt"

It had been several days since Rainbow Dash had allowed her pet tortoise, Tank, to hibernate for the winter season. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn't keep winter away and prevent the hibernation from happening. It took a while for her to accept, but Rainbow Dash had come to her senses after bawling her eyes out and watched as Tank dug himself in the ground. In the few nights since Tank began hibernating, all Rainbow Dash could feel was that she was alone, with no one to keep her company.

"I sure miss you a lot, Tank," Rainbow Dash thought as she slept one night at her home in Cloudsdale. "If I could only accept the fact that you had to hibernate, then I wouldn't be feeling like this."

Rainbow Dash began to miss the days when she would read Daring Do stories to help Tank get to sleep. She missed the joy in laughing at Tank when he got scared at the frightening parts. Ever since Tank hibernated, Rainbow Dash could no longer read Daring Do books and she couldn't do so, not without her friend and pet by her side.

"Oh, boy," she sighed to herself. "What I wouldn't give for a sense of relief right about now? I should be happy for Tank, happy that he chose to do this, but I'm not. It's all right, Tank will be back when we do winter wrap up. If only winter wrap up would come sooner. Ugh! I need something to calm my nerves down."

So, Rainbow Dash got out of bed and walked down to her refrigerator, pulling out what appeared to be a large glass bottle with a picture of the Flim Flam Brothers on the front. Looking at the bottle, Rainbow Dash closed her eyes and drank whatever liquid was inside. It seemed that the liquid was calming her down as she smiled warmly at the bottle.

"Bottle of Flim Flam Brothers cider," she laughed, talking in a strange and much too happy kind of voice. "You are my one true friend and I will never let anypony take you away from me."

So, Rainbow Dash fell asleep and for the rest of the night, she slept soundly, not thinking of Tank, but of herself and the two brothers who had made the cider that soothed her thoughts.

The next morning, Rainbow Dash was supposed to arrive at Twilight's castle for their weekly pancake breakfast. However, much to the surprise of her friends, Rainbow Dash was nowhere to be seen.

"Has anypony seen Rainbow Dash this morning?" asked Twilight. "She's been acting strange lately and now, she's not even showing up for anything."

"I wonder why she still can't accept the fact that Tank is gone," remarked Applejack. "I mean, I thought she allowed him to hibernate. There is something she is hiding from us and we need to find out what it is."

All the other ponies agreed with the matter and it was at this moment that Fluttershy rose up and spoke. After all, she had practically grown up with Rainbow Dash and was the only pony who knew what Rainbow Dash liked and disliked.

"Perhaps maybe I could ask her," she said, timidly. "She will listen to me, of course."

"If that's what you want," said Twilight. "Go and see what Rainbow Dash has been up to lately, if you don't mind, Fluttershy."

Just then, a loud knock was heard at the door and Twilight immediately flew over to the door, opening it wide and quickly. Standing in the doorway was Spitfire, the captain of the wonderbolts and Rainbow Dash's biggest idol.

"Where is Rainbow Dash, Princess?" she cried, a look of anger on her face. "I don't know what she is doing, but I want to know what she is doing and I want to know now."

"We are trying to figure that now ourselves, Spitfire," said Twilight. "We haven't seen Rainbow Dash this morning for anything."

"Well, when you find her," snapped Spitfire. "Tell her that she needs to help clean up the mess she had made at the Cloudsdale weather factory. Her behavior lately has now started to become clear to me that she is no longer wonderbolt material."

A hushed gasp came among the ponies as the realty of Rainbow Dash no longer becoming a wonderbolt had started to creep in. This was a sign that perhaps they had to do something and fast. Just then, a loud noise was heard and everypony looked up to see a rainbow-maned Pegasus flying down in a disorderly fashion, going in a zigzag formation and landing on her stomach, into the deep packed snow.

"Rainbow Dash!" cried Fluttershy, as she raced over and pulled Rainbow Dash out of the huge snow. Rather than thanking Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash gave her a stern glare and went about making loud noises and ramblings that no pony made sense.

"Rainbow Dash, what's wrong with you?" cried Twilight, trying to talk to her. "You've been acting weird lately."

"Weird?" remarked Rainbow Dash, slurring her words. "Who's being weird around here? Not me!"

Rainbow Dash then began walking in a funny manner much to the disbelief of her friends and idol, who was starting to grow cross.

"Rainbow Dash, I don't know what you've been taking in, but I want you to stop right now!" barked Spitfire, trying to gain Rainbow Dash's attention.

"Stop?" slurred Rainbow Dash. "Why should I stop? We are all having a good time, aren't we?"

This pattern of ludicrious behavior was starting to make Fluttershy feel uncomfortable and sad at the same time. She knew that this wasn't the Rainbow Dash that she knew, nor that anypony knew for that matter.

"Do you know who you are talking to?" snapped Spitfire, growing more and more crosser. "I am your superior officer and I want you to respect me now!"

The angered Wonderbolt captain flew up and grabbed Rainbow Dash, shaking her like a ragdoll, trying to get her to stop acting like a childish foal that didn't get what she wanted.

"Oh, you're hopeless," sighed Spitfire. "I don't know if I am even looking at the same Rainbow Dash anymore."

Instead of responding, Rainbow Dash fell on her side and it had to take Applejack and Rarity to haul her into the castle. It became clear that Rainbow Dash had been taking something and that everypony wanted to know what it was.

"Tell her that when she stops this inappropriate behavior," cried Spitfire. "That I want to see Rainbow Dash in my office at the Academy. She has explaining to do for the display that she gave us today."

Watching Spitifre take to the sky, Twilight and Pinkie Pie followed Fluttershy into the castle, where Rainbow Dash had been taking into the throne room and sat down on her throne. By now, Rainbow Dash had fallen asleep and was no longer rambling.

"Something tells me that is not the Rainbow Dash that we know and love," remarked Rarity. "Why is she acting this way?"

"I don't know," sighed Twilight. "I dealt with the loss of the library but not by acting what Rainbow Dash is doing now. She could be taking something that she claims is helping her deal with Tank's hibernation."

"What do you think it could be?" asked Fluttershy. "Please, Twilight, I need answers."

"We all need answers!" pleaded Rarity and Twilight began to think of a way to find out the truth.

Demanding Answers

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Chapter 2

"Demanding Answers"

"Come on, Twilight! We need answers!" cried all the ponies.

For the first time in her life, Twilight was at a loss for words. She didn't know how to approach the situation and the way things were going, she knew in order for Rainbow Dash to reveal the truth, she needed to ask her what was on her mind. Once Rainbow Dash had calmed down, Twilight and the other ponies nervously trotted into the throne room and faced the blue Pegasus, still groggy and the smell of bad alcohol came from her mouth.

"P.U., what's that smell?" remarked Rarity, pinching on her nose. "That is positively revolting!"

"Indeed," added Pinkie Pie, producing a gas mask. "Rainbow Dash, you need breath mints."

Rainbow Dash laughed nervously at this remark that Pinkie Pie and Rarity had made. In fact, she knew what she was doing was stupid, but Rainbow Dash didn't want to release the truth. Twilight took a deep breath and approached Rainbow Dash in a cautious manner.

"Rainbow Dash, we need to talk," said Twilight, firmly. "Spitfire was looking for you and the way you acted in front of her made us wonder that you are hiding something from us. Care to tell us what it is?"

"Has it been that obvious, guys?" sighed Rainbow Dash, sadly. "I miss Tank and I wish he was back here with me."

"Darn it, Rainbow Dash!" cried Applejack, growing frustrated. "Why can't you just let Tank rest for the winter? He made his choice for corn's sake! You'll see him in a few months."

A small tear came down Rainbow's face and she looked around nervously at the ponies that had surrounded her. It seemed clear that Rainbow Dash was not going to be trusted in any way and that's all there was to it.

"Actually, Rainbow Dash," said Twilight. "The way you acted has raised a pretty important question to us. Did you have anything to drink?"

"Drink?" laughed Rainbow Dash, nervously. "What do you think I was drinking? I was just drinking normal cider, that's all."

"You call this normal?" remarked Pinkie Pie, holding out a bottle of alcoholic cider. "I just took a sniff and it seemed like anything but normal cider."

A loud gasp came from Rainbow Dash's mouth as she knew that her secret had come out and could see the ponies starting to gang up on her. Applejack snatched the bottle from Pinkie's hoof and stormed over to Rainbow shoving the bottle into her face.

"Rainbow, you lied to us!" snapped Applejack. "This is the Flim Flam Brothers' new alcoholic cider. This stuff is bad for you and you know better than to lie to us like that."

"Indeed," added Rarity, raising her voice slightly. "How could you do something so revolting and wrong? I have a rule that if anyone drinks alcohol while in my shop, I send them out. I'd much rather have you acting like a normal pony instead of someone who looks like they came off the streets."

The more criticism that was being said, the more uncomfortable Rainbow Dash was becoming. She then took in a heavy sigh and a foul smell of alcohol came from her mouth.

"What did you do that for?" cried Pinkie Pie, trying to fan away the stench. "I've got breath mints all over Equestria and I've been meaning to give you one."

Rainbow Dash had enough with the remarks and the line of questioning and was now reaching her breaking point.

"Stop it! Stop it!" shouted Rainbow Dash at the top of her lungs. "This isn't your business, so why are you doing this to me?"

"We are doing it because we care Rainbow Dash," snapped Twilight. "I don't know what is wrong with you, but I can tell that you are still upset over Tank. But, there are better ways to cope with situations than just drinking cider."

"What?" huffed Rainbow Dash, looking away from her friends. "If you can tell me your way of coping, then just go away and leave me alone."

But, Twilight and the other ponies didn't move and continued to stare down at Rainbow Dash with a heavy glare from their eyes. It was clear that they were not going to be leaving at any time, not until they would find out the truth.

"We are not leaving," said Fluttershy, firmly. "You need to change your ways, Rainbow Dash and I'm sorry, but it is the truth."

Hearing Fluttershy sound firm again sent a chill down Rainbow Dash's spine and rather than facing her fears and her problems, the blue Pegasus jumped into the air and flew through the window, breaking it into pieces.

"I can't believe this," sighed Twilight. "We try to tell Rainbow Dash that what she is doing is unhealthy and this is how she acts in front of us."

"Maybe we'd better leave her alone," suggested Rarity. "Give her a moment to calm down and realize that what she is doing is wrong."

"I don't know if we can," said Twilight. "But we can't let Rainbow Dash hurt herself like this. She needs to realize that we are trying to help her and not take things personally. We just have to give her time."

The rest of the ponies continue to ponder the outcome as well as try to find out how to get Rainbow Dash to open to her grief without getting angry or defensive.

Meanwhile, Rainbow Dash had flown back to her Cloudsdale home and slammed the door of her bedroom. Next, she went under her bed and pulled out another bottle of cider.

"Flim Flam Cider," she said to the bottle. "You are my one true friend and I will let nopony take you away from me."

Suddenly, Rainbow Dash was hearing a loud knock at the door and tried to hide away the bottle, but not before taking another slug.

"Rainbow Dash!" shouted the voice. "Open the door! You are under arrest in the name of the Wonderbolts!"

All Rainbow Dash could do was squirm in fear, fearing of the consequences that she was about to receive as a result of her behavior. However, it was all for a good reason, if only Rainbow Dash would understand why…

Filled With Disgrace

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Chapter 3

"Filled With Disgrace"

Rainbow Dash continued to huddle in her room shaking like a leaf, determined to not part with the false friend that she had made. With Tank in hibernation, the liquor she had was all she had. Hearing the door break down, Rainbow heard a series of loud hoofbeats charging around the house. Finally, two wonderbolt officers barged into the room and grabbed Rainbow Dash by her wings. Struggling to move, Rainbow eventually gave up as her idol and superior stepped forward, her face filled with disappointment.

"Rainbow Dash," she said, crossly. "You are under arrest for conduct unbecoming to a Wonderbolt. Get her out of here."

Rainbow Dash struggled once more as she was led out of her room. A few moments later, she ended up in front of Spitfire's office with her hooves shackled together. The captain of the wonderbolts stood in front of her desk with her sunglasses slowly pulled off. Rainbow Dash tried her hardest to not cry, but now it seemed like her secret had come out without her saying anything.

"Rainbow Dash, I am extremely disappointed in you," she said, glaring at Rainbow Dash in the face. "Do you know of the extent of the damage you have caused to Cloudsdale? The ponies that you could have hurt? I want to know the truth and I want to know right now!"

Taking in a heavy sigh, Rainbow Dash looked back up at her superior and trying not to cry, began to explain her reasoning.

"Spitfire, ma'am," she began. "Have you ever had a pet that you loved so much that you never wanted to part with it?"

Spitfire nodded her head back and forth, meaning that she didn't and Rainbow Dash continued to hold back her tears.

"Well," she continued. "Everything I did was so I could keep my pet tortoise from hibernating. I thought that with Tank gone, I wouldn't have anyone to talk about my problems to. So, I decided to stop winter from coming by sabotaging the weather factory."

Spitfire was stunned by all this and her mouth dropped in shock at what was just heard. This was the pony who inspired her to be a better Wonderbolt and who showed her that Lightning Dust was being reckless at the academy and now, she was doing all of this childish behavior before her very eyes.

"So, you sabotaged the weather factory and risked the lives of so many ponies just to keep your turtle from hibernating?" asked Spitfire.

"Yes, ma'am," replied Rainbow Dash, sadly. "That was my reason for what I have done."

"Hmm," pondered Spitfire, who now had to consider her options on what to do with Rainbow Dash. Yes, Rainbow Dash was an inspiration to her, but at the same time, she put ponies in harm and sabotaged a source of what makes Cloudsdale what it was. This put her in a tough position, however Rainbow Dash knew that she had to take whatever punishment came her way.

"So, ma'am, if you are going to kick me out of the Wonderbolts," said Rainbow Dash. "Then, please, I will give you back my leader badge that you took from Lightning Dust and walk out of your office, never to see you again."

Spitfire took in a heavy sigh, looked down at her desk and then looked back up at Rainbow Dash with a disappointed look on her face.

"What are you talking about, Rainbow Dash?" she asked. "I will say this to you: this is the first time you have dishonored the code of what being a Wonderbolt truly is. Since this is your first time, I will let you off with just a warning for your actions and you are assigned to dishwashing duty for the next two weeks."

Rainbow Dash took in a heavy sigh, knowing that she had been spared the agony of losing her dream of becoming a Wonderbolt. But, there was still another matter that needed to be attended to and it was something that Rainbow Dash wasn't going to like hearing.

"There is something else I need to discuss with you, Rainbow Dash," she said, firmly. "It's about what we found in your bedroom that worries me."

"So, you know now," replied Rainbow Dash, meekly and rubbing the back of her neck in embarrassment. "You know what I have been doing."

"Yes," said Spitfire. "It's come to my understanding that your friends have told me that you are consuming a dangerous practice that is not only dangerous to you, but to those around you."

Spitfire then reached into her desk and pulled out a large paper bag, pulling it out to reveal the empty bottle that Rainbow Dash had possessed. Spitfire then slammed the bottle down on her desk so hard that it nearly broke.

"Why would you do something so stupid, Rainbow Dash?" shouted Spitfire. "You know better than to do something like this. Your friends and Princess Twilight love and admire you for who you are. Yes, I know its hard to let a pet hibernate for the winter, but it's the way that it is."

The sounds of Spitfire's raised voice made Rainbow Dash feel more and more like an idiot. She knew that what her friends had been trying to say to her was being spoken to her now by Spitfire, her fillyhood idol.

"When I saw you acting strange today," replied Spitfire. "I knew you were in trouble and the only one who put you in trouble was yourself. Your friends were so concerned that I had no other choice but to arrest you in an effort to keep you from hiding."

At that moment, Spitfire nodded and the guardsponies opened the door to her office and Twilight and the other ponies walked into the office and surrounded Rainbow Dash. The blue Pegasus took an enormous gulp and began to think to herself what was going to happen next.

"They want to say what they want to say, Rainbow Dash," said Spitfire, placing her hooves on the desk. "And you are going to listen to what they wanted to say to you."

Confronting Rainbow Dash

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Chapter 4

"Confronting Rainbow Dash"

Rainbow Dash could hardly believe what was happening to her. One moment, she was hiding in her room with a bad source of therapy and the next she was in the office of her idol and superior with her friends also in on the action.

"What are you all doing here?" demanded Rainbow Dash, who was now becoming hostile. "I've told you once and I've told you a hundred times, for pony's sake. I will not give up the alcoholic cider."

"Stop it, Rainbow Dash!" snapped Twilight, slamming her left front hoof down onto the ground. "Listen to yourself! This is not the Rainbow Dash that would be there for her friends at the speed of light. We care about you and don't want to see you ruin yourself!"

Rainbow Dash jumped at the sound of her friends' voice. Twilight would normally get angry, but this was a different side of Twilight that she had never seen before. Even Applejack was also starting to show her dark side as well. After all, she was the one who would provide Rainbow Dash her family's cider, the cider that she always drank.

"You should be ashamed of yourself, Rainbow Dash," thundered Applejack, glaring at her. "I know you love cider, but there are two different kinds of cider. The cider that is good for you and the cider that is bad for you. I can't imagine what it is like for the most loyal pony in Ponyville to drive herself to this level of depression. How do you think that Tank would feel if he woke up in the spring to see you like this?"

Hearing the name of her pet tortoise made Rainbow Dash think long and hard about the situation that she was in now. Everything that she had done up to that point was about Tank, trying to keep him awake by preventing an entire season from coming to Ponyville by breaking into the weather factory and destroying everything that Pegasus ponies like her work hard on for an entire year.

"I…I…" stuttered Rainbow Dash, who was starting to cower. "I think he would be upset about it. I mean, after the situation with Gilda, I always wanted one friend that I could turn to in my times of despair. When Tank hibernated, I had nothing to turn to, nothing! How would you feel if something so valuable to you was lost?"

"We would remember the good times that we've had with it," said Applejack, firmly. "But Tank didn't die, Rainbow Dash. Everything you have done had made it seem to us like Tank was dying, but he didn't. He just went to sleep for the winter and you were just too blind to see that."

Rainbow Dash then turned over from Applejack's attention towards Fluttershy who had tears forming in her eyes. Seeing Fluttershy like this was making Rainbow Dash think long and hard about the situation that she had put herself in. She was in denial about Tank and would do anything to keep him from hibernating. But, it seemed that she cared more about keeping Tank by her side than allowing a part of Equestria's cycle from taking place.

"We all worry about you, Rainbow," said Applejack, taking her hat off. "There are better ways to cope with situations like this. It's not easy, but it's a part of life in Equestria. We know that when winter comes, it comes and there is nothing we can do about it."

"Besides," added Rarity, stepping next to Applejack. "What would Scootaloo think if she heard that the pony she admired was drinking herself to shame? It's a good thing that she is not here to see you in this condition!"

Hearing Scootaloo's name caused Rainbow Dash's heart to sink like a rock. After all, Scootaloo was the one who had the most inspiration and faith in Rainbow Dash. Scootaloo was the one who wanted Rainbow Dash to be like a big sister to her and Rainbow Dash obliged to take her under her own wing. Rainbow then walked over to a mirror and looked at herself in the mirror, seeing her rainbow colored mane all frazzled, her face drooped and her eyes red as a cherry.

"What have I become?" she thought to herself, closing her eyes and trying to prevent herself from crying. "Why have I decided to act so foolish and let winter come as it is?"

Rainbow Dash then sat down on the floor and lowered her head, shedding tears from her red eyes. It was at this moment that a major breakthrough had taken place and everypony in the office could see that Rainbow Dash was finally getting the message of what she had done.

"It's all right, Rainbow Dash," said Fluttershy, consoling her friend with tears in her eyes. "I know it's hard, but you have to let go of Tank for a few months. He'll be back, you wait and see. In fact, when winter wrap up comes, I will let you be the one to wake him up from his sleep. But please, I beg you, don't do this to yourself ever again! We love you and can never live with ourselves if anything were to happen to you!"

At that moment, Fluttershy threw herself onto Rainbow Dash and the two pegasi cried their hearts out while everypony else watched. Soon Rarity and Pinkie Pie also joined in, not bearing to see Fluttershy cry and that it was heart wrenching to see anypony cry.

"I'm only crying on the inside, Twilight," said Applejack, lowering her hat over her eyes. "So, don't get any ideas."

Twilight then decided to let Rainbow Dash alone with the other ponies as she, Applejack and Spitfire stepped out of the office, shutting the door behind them and leaving them inside.

"I hope Rainbow Dash realizes that all we did was for her own good," said Spitfire, taking in a heavy sigh. "She's more than just a wonderbolt to me, Princess Twilight, she's like an inspiration to me as I was to her."

"She's an inspiration to all of us, Spitifre," replied Twilight, still hearing the noises of crying coming from the other side. "I just hope she realizes that in time, she will make the right decisions when it comes to coping."

Facing the Flim Flam Brothers

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Chapter 5

"Facing the Flim Flam Brothers"

It took a while for Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Rarity and Pinkie Pie to calm down after the good cry the four of them had. Once they had calmed down, Rainbow Dash was allowed to leave but was warned that she would be starting her punishment the very next day. Still, there was a matter of the true culprits and that was the two ponies who had made the alcoholic cider to begin with, the Flim Flam Brothers themselves.

"I hope those two frauds have a very good reason for making this kind of drek," said Applejack as they left the Wonderbolt Academy that afternoon. "Everypony knows that my family's cider is the best in all of Equestria. I just hope those brothers understand of the consequences that they will soon be facing."

"I agree," added Rarity. "They took advantage of a sad pony like Rainbow Dash and brainwashed her into becoming a lover of their poison."

"Poison?" remarked Pinkie, suddenly holding up a bottle marked poison out of thin air. "You mean like this, with the skull and cross bones?"

"Yes, that!" cried Rarity, hiding her eyes away. "Get that away from me, Pinkie!"

Pinkie shrugged her shoulders and tossed the bottle away, comically exploding confetti when it hit the ground. Aside from that comic moment, the ponies remained serious of the matter, especially Twilight, who was now dealing with the matter of protecting her subjects from all kinds of danger as a princess. Upon return to the castle, she walked into her study and approached Spike, who was reading a comic book.

"Spike?" asked Twilight, getting the baby dragon's attention. "Send a message to all of Equestria."

"What kind of message, Twilight?" replied Spike, holding out a quill and paper.

"A wanted message," she replied. "Write that the Flim Flam brothers are wanted to attempting to induce harm to ponies by producing a poisonous product. Anypony who spots them are required to contact the royal guard at once."

As Spike wrote the message, Rainbow Dash was feeling her body grow tired and was led into a secluded room by Applejack and Fluttershy. The amounts of alcohol that Rainbow Dash had consumed had taken their toll on her and had made her very weak and tired.

"Did the Flim Flam brothers really try to kill me?" Rainbow Dash wondered as she fell asleep. "Was something that I was looking to take my troubles to have a permanent effect on me? I need to think of better coping strategies, so this doesn't happen again."

Meanwhile, Spike had finished drafting up the message and handed it over to Twilight for her inspection and approval. Once Twilight had approved the message, she used a duplication spell to multiply the letter into thousands and thousands of copies.

"Spread these throughout Equestria," she ordered the royal guards. "I want those brothers brought to me."

"At once, your highness," they replied, bowing to her before leaving. Once the guards were gone, it was all a matter of waiting for the flim flam brothers to be found.

They were eventually found in Manehattan, selling several more of their new alcoholic products to unsuspecting citizens of Equestria's largest metropolis. Once they were arrested, they were brought to Twilight's castle in chains and looked up nervously to the princess of friendship and her friends, who all glared down on them with strong glances.

"Do you know why you are here?" asked Twilight, sternly, rubbing the armrest of her throne.

The brothers didn't respond and instead motioned their heads sideways, meaning that they didn't know why they were in Twilight's kingdom.

"Answer the question!" cried Twilight, raising her voice slightly. This made the brothers tremble and Flam lowered himself in fear of Twilight's wrath. "Do you know why you are here?"

"We are here, missy, because of our product that we've been selling," said Flim, taking his hat off. "It has been making ponies sick and…"

"…having an effect on them that makes them not themselves even though we said it had no effect," finished Flam, chuckling nervously while also taking his own hat off and stroking his moustache.

"Your product has caused numerous ponies to be involved in life threatening accidents by all the alcohol you put in your product," explained Twilight. "But, the reason that you are here before us today is because your product was frequently sold to our friend, Rainbow Dash."

She used her magic to make the brothers face Rainbow Dash, who was still recovering from the continuous amounts of alcohol she had drank.

"Why make her look at us, princess?" stuttered Flim as Twilight released her magical grip on them. "She was just another customer."

"There is much more to this than Rainbow Dash just being another customer," suggested Applejack, her throne glowing in the same colors as her cutie mark. "I knew that you were always nothing but trouble since you both came to Ponyville with your contraption that nearly caused my family to be run off our own ranch. But, this time you've gone too far."

"Why, don't you see, Applejack?" asked Flam, nervously. "Maybe there was something that we may have done wrong and we can fix any damage that we may have caused."

"The only damage you both caused," interrupted Twilight, stepping off from her throne. "Was trying to turn Rainbow Dash into something else after a tough time in her lives. You claimed to say that your product would calm down a pony's mind. Rainbow Dash had something to turn to and it wasn't your product, it was us and you made her see otherwise. In other words, you took advantage of somepony as they grieved for a personal matter."

Applejack gave her archenemies a strong stare as she stepped down and faced them in the eyes. This made the brothers quiver again and it was at that moment Twilight turned to them and handed down her punishment against them.

"Flim and Flam," she said with authority in her voice. "As the Princess of Friendship, I sentence you both to ten years' probation and your product will be immediately discontinued by the order of myself and the other princesses. You are to never make or sell your products in Ponyville, Canterlot and Appleloosa. Failure to comply will result in eternal punishment in the prison of Tartarus."

Twilight then slammed down her rainbow colored gavel and the two brothers were led away from the throne room, flanked by the two guardsponies who brought them there.

The culprits had been captured, but the damage was far from being repaired…

Starting the Punishment

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Chapter 6

"Starting the Punishment"

With the Flim Flam Brothers forcefully out of business, Rainbow Dash had set about beginning her punishment of dishwashing duty for doing what she did to the weather factory. It was a lot of hard work doing dishes, but it was something that Rainbow Dash needed to do in order to get herself back in Spitfire's good graces.

"I hope you understand why you are doing this," said Spitfire, walking into the kitchen. "You needed to be held accountable for what you did to your fellow pegasi, Rainbow Dash. And better get used to it, it's for two weeks."

"I know," sighed Rainbow Dash. "But, I can't help but ask myself, why would the Flim Flam Brothers do this?"

"Because they wanted somepony to take advantage of," replied Spitfire, bluntly. "And that somepony was you and you alone. I thought you taught me that being a wonderbolt was not about being reckless and the behavior you displayed recently made it clear to me that you were lying to me about what you said that day in my office."

Rainbow Dash wiped down another dirty plate as the confrontation she had with Spitfire the day Lightning Dust was demoted began to play out in her mind. Rainbow Dash could hear herself saying that there was a difference between pushing herself as hard as she could and just being reckless.

"You were being reckless because you wanted something that you couldn't keep forever and it put you in the situation that you found yourself in," continued Spitfire. "However, I've been wondering that maybe perhaps it would be best if once you completed your punishment, that I have you talk to our academy psychiatrist."

"Why?" asked Rainbow Dash. "Why are you going to send me to a psychiatrist? Aren't my friends enough, Spitfire?"

"Yes, you have your friends to talk with about your problems," replied Spitfire. "However, there will be matters that you need to talk about in a private manner. Tell me, did you ever talk to your pet tortoise about your everyday problems?"

Rainbow Dash stopped what she was doing and let out a long heavy sigh, almost as if she knew that she was going to talk about sensitive matters. Tank was the only she could talk to whenever there was an issue concerning her friends or her own personal life.

"Yeah, I did, Spitfire," replied Rainbow Dash, sadly. "Don't you see? Tank is the only one who understands what troubles me. I don't want my friends to know every last little detail about me and what I do. When I saw him dig himself in the ground, I thought that there was no way to talk to anyone about my problems."

Rainbow Dash then grabbed another dish and started to wipe it down as a tear trickled down her face. Spitfire sighed and realized that time was of the essence for Rainbow Dash to reveal her feelings in a private manner.

"Winter will be over in a few months, Rainbow Dash," she said. "Soon, your pet tortoise will awaken and you will be together again for another year. Animals know when it is time to sleep and your pet tortoise knew it was time to hibernate. Unfortunately, you didn't see it and now you do."

Rainbow had just about enough with the talking down to she was receiving, however she had to understand that what Spitfire was telling her was true. Tank would return in a few months, although she had refused to believe it initially.

"So, now I think it is best if you start seeing our academy psychiatrist as soon as your punishment is done," continued Spitfire, taking to the air. "I don't ever want to see you doing something like this ever again, do I make myself absolutely clear?"

"Yes, ma'am," replied Rainbow Dash, accepting her fate with a smile on her face, before returning to her punishment.

However, as she got back to her punishment, there was another thought that was going through her mind and that was being on the friendship council with Twilight and the others.

"But, what about my time…?" she started to ask before Spitfire interrupted her, raising a hoof to her face in order to silence her.

"I have talked it over with Princess Twilight," replied Spitfire, landing back on the ground. "We both agree that you need time to clear your head of all the bad thoughts that have been in your mind for some time. You cannot be on the friendship council if you are going to continue observing these behavioral methods. I'm sorry, but its Princess Twilight's orders as well as my own."

Rainbow Dash was dejected that she would have to be on the sidelines, however she knew that it was for her own good and that it would prevent another incident from ever happening again. She made a mistake and she had to pay for it.

"Then in that case," sighed Rainbow Dash. "I will see the psychiatrist after my punishment. I shamed the Wonderbolts by my own selfish behavior all because I could not cope with my pet hibernating for the winter."

Knowing that Rainbow Dash was submitting to her orders, Spitfire smiled and saluted Rainbow Dash before leaving her alone to her duties. As she left Rainbow Dash alone, Spitfire walked past a certificate that Rainbow Dash had received upon completing her test to become a member of the wonderbolt reserves. Looking at the certificate, Spitfire sighed heavily and began to think to herself.

"I hope by seeing the psychologist," she thought. "You understand the values of being a Wonderbolt and being a citizen of Equestria, the land we are sworn to protect from those who wish to harm our princesses and our way of life. The only threat to Equestria was yourself, Rainbow Dash, and I hope you understand that by doing this, you have a clear conscience for your future life as a member of Equestria's main aerial defense."

Only time would tell if Rainbow Dash would finally put the nightmare of Tank's hibernation and aftermath to rest forever…

Visiting the Psychiatrist

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Chapter 7

"Visiting the Psychiatrist"

Fourteen times the punishments had come and gone for Rainbow Dash. Once her punishments were completed, Rainbow Dash came to the academy early the following morning and sat outside the psychiatrist's office nervously pacing about the waiting room. A few moments later, the doors to the office opened and a white unicorn with a heart cutie mark on her flank and long pink hair stepped out and smiled at Rainbow Dash.

"You must be Rainbow Dash?" asked the mare as Rainbow rose into the air. "I'm Sweetheart and I am the psychiatrist for the wonderbolt academy. Care to follow me?"

"Um, sure," replied Rainbow Dash, although she was hesitant at first. "I'll follow you."

Almost right away, Rainbow Dash knew that this wasn't going to be easy, but she knew it was for her own good. Her recent actions had set off alarm bells in the minds of her friends and it was at their suggestion that she seek help. Stepping into the office, Rainbow Dash sat down on the sofa and Sweetheart sat down in a chair, sliding over to Rainbow Dash.

"Now, then," she began, taking out a piece of paper with her magic. "Your friends and Spitfire have brought to my attention that you were in a state of distress and needed to talk to me. Care to tell me about what is happening? And don't be afraid to get emotional. Sometimes its best to cry to let our feelings out."

Taking in a heavy sigh, Rainbow Dash knew that the time had come for her to reveal the truth. She closed her eyes for a moment and then raised her head to look back up at Sweetheart, who now had a pen in her magical grip.

"If you really want to know the whole truth," began Rainbow Dash. "Tank is not just a pet, he's like my only family that I had. My father and mother always looked down on me, always in denial of what my dreams were and all that. I've wanted to be a Wonderbolt and no matter how hard I tried, they wouldn't listen to me. It was at summer flight camp that I found my true calling and even though I received my cutie mark for creating a sonic rainboom, my parents brushed it off."

"Don't be afraid to tell me everything," said Sweetheart, writing down everything she was hearing from Rainbow Dash. "Go on."

"I continued to distance myself from my parents," continued Rainbow Dash. "All they wanted me to do was to just focus on the weather patrol, like they were. After I met Twilight and her friends, I decided to follow my destiny as a flyer. Over time, I began to notice that they all were starting to have pets except for me. I never wanted to have a pet, because they weren't like me and I wanted a pet that would fast, awesome and cool."

Rainbow Dash then noticed a picture on Sweetheart's desk with her and several other ponies surrounding a small green frog.

"If you don't mind my asking, Sweetheart," asked Rainbow Dash. "Who is that frog in the picture with you and those other ponies?"

"Oh, that's just me and my friends, Starlight, Melody, Bright Eyes, Patch, Clover and Bon Bon with a frog we adopted named Spot. We didn't know at the time that we had to send him back to where he came from. It was hard at first, but we learned that it was best to let him go and remember the good times we had."

"Who told you that you had to send him free?" asked Rainbow Dash.

"Our teacher, Miss Hackney," replied Sweetheart, sadly. "She was a good teacher to us all and taught us everything we needed to have to become the ponies we are today."

Rainbow Dash at that moment, began to think of Princess Celestia and all the lessons that she taught them while Twilight was still her student.

"I know how you feel," sighed Rainbow Dash. "Letting Tank hibernate was a hard choice, but it was for the best. But, I couldn't let him go. I thought if he was hibernating, then I would never see him again. I did everything I could to keep him by my side and it was a mistake that hurt me instead of helping me."

"Hmm," pondered Sweetheart, taking in what Rainbow Dash was saying. "I guess from a professional's perspective that you were supposedly suffering from what is known as the Five Stages of Grief."

"The Five Stages of Grief?" wondered Rainbow Dash, who was hearing about this for the first time. "What are they?"

"The Five Stages of Grief," explained Sweetheart. "Are stages that we go through when we either lose somepony for a brief time or for forever. First we deny what is about to happen, then the second stage is we get angry at ponies we love for no particular reason at all."

Hearing about the second stage was making Rainbow Dash think back to when she got angry at Pinkie Pie because she was going to say the word, "hibernate." In fact, she could still her own words being screamed at the top of her lungs keep playing out in her head.

"The next stage is what you did to the weather factory," continued Sweetheart, placing her chin on her hooves. "That stage is called bargaining where you would do anything to stop winter from coming to Ponyville."

Rainbow Dash looked down in embarrassment over what had just been said. She sabotaged the weather factory and was paying the consequences for it.

"Finally," finished Sweetheart. "You went through the fourth stage, which is depression. Tell me, are you somepony that is known to get emotional?"

"No, Sweetheart," replied Rainbow Dash, looking down at the floor for a moment before looking back up at Sweetheart. "I try to not get emotional about my own personal matters. But, when Fluttershy told me that my winter was going to be pet-less, I just couldn't control myself."

"She was telling you the truth, Rainbow Dash," she said. "If I was in that bedroom with your friends that day, I would have told you the same thing. The truth hurts and I'm sorry, but that's how it is."

Rainbow Dash almost felt like crying herself, but she didn't have any more tears in the tank that needed to be released.

"It was then that after you cried is where you went through the final stage," continued Sweetheart. "And that stage is acceptance. You accepted the fact that your pet needed to sleep for the winter and although it was hard, you did do just that. However, your recent behavior had me thinking that you could be suffering from a side effect."

"A side effect?" asked Rainbow Dash, slightly confused. "What do you mean a side effect?"

"We like to think to ourselves that we are done going through the stages," explained Sweetheart. "But, after we come to acceptance, we go through a secondary process called the Grieving Process. Your drinking of alcoholic cider explains to me that this is how you grieve and that there are better ways to handle yourself when you are grieving."

Rainbow Dash suddenly then began to realize for the first time of the errors that she had caused. She had made a grave mistake and was now paying for it.

"What have I done?" cried Rainbow Dash, feeling ashamed. "I couldn't control myself, Sweetheart. I hurt myself and my friends all because I couldn't grieve properly. What am I going to do?"

Rainbow Dash became hysterical at that moment and starting to nervously tug at her mane, pulling off several strands of hair.

"You can start by seeing me on a regular basis," suggested Sweetheart. "I can help you by offering advice on how to come up with methods for grieving with loss. My first advice I can give you is to realize that the alcoholic cider you have been drinking is not going to help you in any way. You are stronger than you think you are and when you grieve, you turn to your friends for support and me. Will you accept my help?"

Unhesitantly, Rainbow Dash smiled and leaped into Sweetheart's arms, hugging her tightly. This was a sign to Sweetheart that Rainbow Dash had come to accept the fact that she needed help.

"I'll do anything to have you help me," cried Rainbow Dash, starting to cry again. "I don't want to hurt my friends any more than I already have."

So, Rainbow Dash would now begin the healing process with help from Sweetheart. At the same time however, Tank would soon wake up and Rainbow Dash made sure that she would be the first thing that Tank would see after his long winter's nap…

Winter Wrap Up

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Chapter 8

"Winter Wrap Up"

In the weeks that followed since Rainbow Dash had begun seeing Sweetheart, winter was nearing its conclusion and Rainbow Dash knew that it was almost time for Tank to wake up since going to sleep for the winter. As Ponyville rallied to wrap up winter, Rainbow Dash focused on the task of clearing the clouds, allowing the sun to melt the mounds of snow that had piled on the land.

"Oh, boy, I can't wait to get Tank up," giggled Rainbow Dash as her work neared its completion. It seemed that the time she spent with Sweetheart had given her a new lease on life that didn't involve her drinking the alcohol that made her a hazard to those around her. Once her work was done, she came back to the site where Tank had dug himself into the ground.

"You seem excited to see Tank again, Rainbow Dash," remarked Fluttershy, flying down to her. "I told you that it was for the best and when Tank wakes up, he will sure be happy to see you again."

Bending down towards the spot, Rainbow Dash dug into the ground and cleared away the mounds of snow with her hooves, finally breaking into the soft earth underneath.

"Come on, Tank," thought Rainbow Dash. "You can do it. Just wake up and come out of there."

After a few moments, Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy could both see the ground start to move and fall down. At that point, Twilight, Rarity and Pinkie Pie also joined in to see what was happening. Twilight was wearing her new all team organizer vest to replace the one she had lost in the library explosion.

"Is he up?" asked Pinkie Pie, excitedly jumping up and down. "Is he up?"

"Shh, I think he's waking up," cried Rarity. "I see a green claw."

A small green claw came out and more dirt came down with each swipe of the claws. Rainbow Dash could see that she was growing more and more excited and at that moment, a small head came out and two small black eyes blinked. Rainbow Dash, with tears of happiness forming in her eyes, reached up and grabbed Tank's shell.

"Tank, I'm so glad to see you," cried Rainbow Dash, hugging him tightly as the rest of her friends reacted to this touching reunion.

"Don't you think Tank looks a lot happier now after a good rest?" remarked Twilight, smiling warmly. "It's like I said, sometimes it's hard to see our friends go away. But, its even better when they come back."

Rainbow Dash continued to hug her friend tightly as she took to the skies, flying like she had never flown before. It was almost as if Rainbow Dash had been reborn, freed from the grip of evil that the alcoholic cider had possessed.

"She sure seems happy," remarked Fluttershy. "I guess she realizes now that good things come to those who wait, don't you think?"

"I agree with you, Fluttershy," said Twilight. "I'm just glad to see the old Rainbow Dash back to normal."

So, they all watched as Rainbow Dash continued to spin Tank around as the winter wrap up continued throughout Ponyville. As they watched, they heard Spitfire come down along with several other Wonderbolts, helping out in the winter wrap up.

"Glad to see that Rainbow Dash is back to her old self," she said, taking off her sunglasses. "Those therapy sessions have sure done her good."

"What do you think will happen now?" asked Twilight, walking over to Spitfire. "Will she go through this again?"

"I don't think so, Princess Twilight," replied Spitfire. "I've ordered Sweetheart to have Rainbow Dash come to her regularly, so this kind of behavior doesn't happen again. There is a side to us that sometimes needs to be explored and it can be sensitive."

A hushed silence came from the rest of the ponies and they all turned their attention to Spitfire with concerned looks on their faces.

"Trust me," she said. "Rainbow Dash will have to go through with this every year as long as Tank is alive. But I assure you that we will be there by her side when the whole process starts up again."

However, there was the matter of the Flim Flam Brothers and although nopony cared about them anymore, there was the question of whether they would recreate their alcoholic cider again.

"But, what about the Flim Flam Brothers?" remarked Pinkie Pie, still holding that empty bottle. "What about them and their disgusting cider?"

"You are going to have nothing to worry about, Pinkie Pie," said Spitfire. "I'm petitioning to start a group that focuses on ponies who had the same problems as Rainbow Dash. We are going to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again."

All the ponies admired this and a small chorus of gasps and awes were heard. It was then, a few days later in Canterlot, that a document was presented petitioning the founding of an alcoholic rehabilitation center for ponies and Twilight and her fellow princesses were in Canterlot to sign the deal as Rainbow Dash looked on from the crowds.

"With the signing of this document," announced Princess Celestia. "We, the four princesses of Equestria, hereby decree the founding of Equestria's very first alcoholic cider recovery program to be headed by the Captain of the Wonderbolts, Spitfire and her own faithful student, Rainbow Dash of the Wonderbolt Reserves!"

A loud cheer came through the hall as Rainbow Dash was motioned to come up and stand by her idol as they watched the loud sound of cheers resonating throughout the hall. In the days that followed, many ponies who had been addicted to the Flim Flam Brothers' alcoholic cider, came forward and joined the program.

For Rainbow Dash, this was the end of a dark period in her life and learned a valuable lesson about not hiding your problems from anypony and instead that it is best to share them either openly with your friends or with someone in private.

It was a hard lesson, but it was a lesson that furthered her development as a pony and as a Wonderbolt.