First Flight

by Carapace

First published

There is a tradition sacred to every member who has ever put on the storied flight suit, one that makes the wings itch to fly and brings a tear to the eye of the most stony-hearted of all pegasi.

There is a tradition sacred to every member who has ever put on the storied flight suit, one that makes the wings itch to fly and brings a tear to the eye of the most stony-hearted of all pegasi.

Lead the way, kid. The sky's yours. We're right behind you.

Welcome to the Wonderbolts.

Prereading and editing help by Fahrenheit and Timaeus.

Special thanks to Fahrenheit for brainstorming this with me.

Cover art by fleebites.

One of Us Now

View Online

Rainbow Dash stood proud upon the stage, puffing her chest out as photographers snapped pictures in a frenzy and reporters shouted over one another to be heard. Her new officer’s uniform was pressed and fitted to perfection, and the second lieutenant patch on her shoulder seemed to gleam with the light.

“Rainbow! Quick Quote with the Baltimare Sun!” a stallion wearing an old duster and a button-down shirt called. “You’ve finally made it out of the Academy and Reserves, how does it feel to be a Wonderbolt?”

Before she could reply, a mare shoved her way to the front, pen and notepad at the ready, and cut in, “Sunshower with the Sky Times, Lieutenant Dash. Will you be moving back to Cloudsdale now that you’re a Bolt?”

Rainbow scoffed and made to speak, but found herself face-to-face with a young colt. She smirked. “‘Sup, Featherweight?”

“Hi, Rainbow,” Featherweight greeted with a smile and a mischievous gleam in his eyes. “Care to tell the Foal Free Press in Ponyville how you feel about the commute to Cloudsdale?”

Ah, hometown pride. She raised a hoof, silencing the reporters. “I’ll admit, I miss this place a lot. I’m a ‘Dale girl through and through.” Rainbow paused a moment to allow Sunshower and a few of the local reporters a chance to give a triumphant fluff of their feathers before adding, “But Ponyville’s not too far away, and I’ve got a lot of friends there. So I figure I’ll keep my home there for the offseason and fly to work. What’s an hour flight but a warm up, right?”

A wave of laughter swept through the crowd. Rainbow fought down a smirk as she watched Sunshower and her crew deflate as though all the air had left her. Like letting the air out of a balloon. “Any other questions?” she asked.

The crowd of reporters whipped back into a frenzy, their calls for comment growing louder. Rainbow had to take a step back to avoid taking a notepad across her snout.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a flash of yellow, and then Spitfire stood with her wings spread wide between Rainbow and the reporters. “Alright, that’s enough badgering my newest Bolt,” she said as though chiding a bunch of overeager foals. “I’m afraid I’m gonna have to steal her away for her big party now.”

“Oh, c’mon, Spitfire!” Quick Quote called, a smirk playing upon his lips. “Let us get one last comment! Or, better yet, how about one from you?” He raised a brow. “Anything to say about the latest addition to the team?”

Spitfire snorted and turned away, pushing Rainbow along with a nudge. “Nothing I didn’t already say when she made the team, Slow Quote!” she quipped back as she threw a hoof around Rainbow’s shoulders. “You’ll just have to wait and see what this mare’s got on her first show!”

As she was led away from the crowd, Rainbow sniggered at the sound of ponies groaning and complaining. “Slow Quote?” she asked.

“He and I go way back,” Spitfire replied. “We’ve had a few run-ins at press conferences or PR events, he always tries to slip in some goofball question to trip me up, but I’m a bit too quick for him. So he’s Slow Quote until he can prove himself pegasus enough to keep up with me.” She nodded toward the side door. “Out that way, we’ve got some business to take care of before we hit the party.”

Rainbow flicked an ear toward her. “Is it gonna take long? I promised the girls I’d hang with them.”

Spitfire nodded. “I figured as much. I had Fleetfoot tell them we were gonna borrow you for a little Wonderbolts tradition. Our own special thing we do to welcome in the rookies.”

Rookie traditions?

Rainbow stopped just before the door, furrowing her brows as she tried to recall any mention of such a thing in the countless Wonderbolts Illustrated magazines she had stashed under her bed. “This isn’t a ‘dye your mane weird colors and go flying around shouting silly things’ tradition, is it?”

“Nah, we save that stuff for when you get too drunk to say no to dumb ideas,” Spitfire retorted without missing a beat, then her expression softened. “It’s … something we all cherish a lot. Something that’s just for us. No press, no fans, and no stories outside Wonderbolts themselves.”

“So I wouldn’t find it in a book, huh?”

Spitfire smirked. “Not a chance. It’s that special.” She pushed open the door and stepped through. “Go get your flight suit and goggles, and meet us on the main runway. We’ll be waiting for you.”

Rainbow raised a brow. “We as in … what? Fleetfoot and Soarin?”

Spitfire shook her head, her brilliant orange eyes shining conspiratorially. “You’ll see.” Without another word, she trotted off toward the main squad’s locker rooms.

Wrinkling her snout, Rainbow cocked her head to one side. Am I about to do some crazy routine or something? She shrugged. Whatever. I know all their stuff. If they wanna make me run a gauntlet so they can have a giggle at the rookie, they’re in for a big surprise!

A Rainbow Dash surprise, of course. What better way to make her debut than leaving the whole squad staring in slack-jawed awe when she shredded their routines?

With a bounce in her step, she trotted for the Reserves’ locker rooms, just past the main team’s room on the cloud base.

She bit her lip as she let her eyes wander over the logo emblazoned on the door with the words “Wonderbolts Aeronautical Team”—the same one that always separated the Wonderbolts from their legions of fans, herself included. Butterflies fluttered in her stomach. She’d finally done it!

No more waiting in line for an autograph or a picture, or just a glimpse of them as they came in from practice.

Ponies would wait in line for her autograph and picture. They’d crowd the pathway just to see her come in for a landing and flash a grin at the end of a practice before she disappeared inside for a shower and a dip in an ice bath.

That door wouldn’t separate her from her heroes anymore. It was just another door.

Later, she told herself. Her flight suit was still in her old locker, waiting to be moved over after the ceremony.

As she trotted up to the smaller building and pushed open the door, she let her mind wander.

“Wonder who I’ll end up sitting near,” she mused. “Doubt I’ll be near Spitfire or Soarin, since I’m a rookie. Maybe I can hang with Wave Chill and Misty Fly, or Firestreak and Slipstream.”

It didn’t matter. Either way, she was one of them!

Rainbow snuck a quick look around the tiny room to make sure she was alone, then let out an excited squeal and pranced in place.

She reared up on her hind legs to fumble with the uniform buttons, biting her tongue between her teeth as she struggled with the last. Once she managed to slip it through the hole, she hung it on the empty hook, then turned her attention to the flight suit hanging on the other.

With a hint of reverence, she let her hoof run down one of the sleeves. It had been her suit for so many practice runs, from her first day at the Academy all the way through her time as a Reserve Team member. The blue body and jagged yellow bolts running around the ankles and down the belly sent her heart racing. It wasn’t just a flight suit; it was her flight suit.

“One last run together,” she whispered. “I’ll have to ask Rarity if she knows a place I can get a display case for you. A nice one. I can afford it once I get my first Bolts check.”

Her lips tugged into a fond smile as she slipped the suit over her head, then moved to slide her hooves into the sleeves.

Rainbow gave a couple tugs to the hem to get the suit nice and snug against her body, then, with a satisfied nod, she snatched her goggles off the hook and put them on, letting the lenses sit at resting position at the top of her forehead.

She cast a quick glance at her reflection in the small mirror mounted on the back of her locker, grinning as she brushed a few stray strands of her mane out of her eyes. “Lookin’ good, girl! Awesome, radical, and all around cool!”

Like a proper Wonderbolt.

Rainbow closed her locker, wincing at the sound of metal crashing against metal, and then left the room with a bounce in her step and a merry swish in her tail. As she placed a hoof on the door, she took one last look over her shoulder, drawing in a deep breath through her nose.

Releasing a deep sigh, she pushed the door open and bounded off toward the runway, eager to see what her teammates had planned for her.

Her teammates. The mere thought brought a broad, toothy grin to her face.

I really did it.

As she came closer and closer to the runway, Rainbow felt her heart racing in her chest. Her wings twitched in anticipation.

The observation deck obscured the cloud-formed track from vision. She hung a right around the corner, her hind hooves slipping as she took the turn a bit too quickly, sending her sliding sideways until she could get her hooves back under her.

A startled yelp escaped her lips. Rainbow spared a snort as she looked down and righted herself, then continued on her trek, albeit at a much more sedate pace.

It wouldn’t do to eat cloud right after she made the Wonderbolts. Especially when she wasn’t even performing a trick. Actually, it just wouldn’t do to eat cloud at all. Rainbow Dash’s days of taking a face full of white, pillowy fluff were long over, so sayeth the Dash herself.

Rainbow looked up, eager to see what was in store for her. She stopped in mid stride, eyes wide and jaw hanging open.

Spitfire hadn’t meant “we” as in “a couple of the officers.”

They were all there, each dressed in their full flight uniform with goggles resting on their head, smiling expectantly as they stood in formation.

Rainbow let her eyes wander down the line, rattling off the names as if she were reading them out of a program. Misty Fly, Wave Chill, Slipstream, Firestreak, Rapidfire, Stratos, Nimbus, Surprise …

Each of the pegasi she’d grown up watching stood waiting for her.

And at the center of the formation, as always, were the big three.

Fleetfoot flashed a winning grin. “C’mon, Dash! We don’t have all day! Get your rear in gear!”

“Huh? I mean, yes, ma’am!” Rainbow called back, throwing a quick salute before bounding the rest of the way to stand before them. She gave a sheepish grin and stole a glance back toward the observation deck. “You guys saw that, didn’t you?”

Sniggering, Soarin nodded. “Saw it, felt it, and remembered when I did the same thing. Except I went right into a cloud bank.” He shrugged. “Don’t worry about it, Dash. It’s your big day.”

“We were all just as excited for ours,” Spitfire added. Her lips curved into a smile—a genuine one, not the teasing smirk or knowing grin she wore whenever drilling recruits—as she looked Rainbow up and down. “Ready to switch that old thing out for a real flight suit?”

Rainbow tried to play it cool and force herself to give a single, casual nod.

Instead, she bobbed her head so fast her goggles almost slipped down over her eyes. She brought a hoof up to fix them, fighting back the telltale burn of happy tears. “More than anything in the world, ma’am,” she replied.

“Good, ‘cause as of right now, you’re officially out of uniform.” Spitfire paused to allow the team a chance to chuckle and add their own quips, then continued, “So I’ve given you a little time to stew and figure out what you’re in for, and I’m sure you’re wondering why we’re all in flight gear. Any guesses?”

Rainbow opened her mouth for reply, looking down the line a moment before turning her attention back to the top three officers. “Uh, are we doing a practice run before the party, or something?”

A wave of laughter swept through the ranks. “Close, but not quite,” Fleetfoot replied. “This is something we all got to do when we first came up. Each Bolt gets to, actually.”

“Think of it as us celebrating all your hard work the Wonderbolt way,” Soarin said. “You’ll be standing with us from now on, so there’s no better way for us to bring you in than this. The photo op and all that press stuff is just a load of crabapples we do to let them feel special.” He rolled his eyes and shook his head. “As if we need a bunch of reporters to tell us when we’ve made it. All a real Bolt needs is a pair of working wings …”

Soarin turned to look out over the edge of the cloud city, a fond smile playing upon his lips as he fluffed his feathers. “And a nice, open sky.”

At his side, Spitfire snorted. “Stealing my thunder, eh?” she asked, jabbing an elbow into his ribs. “You’re lucky I like you, punk.”

Laughing, he simply waved her on.

Spitfire shook her head. “You’re a foal. Anyway, Rainbow, I’m not big on making speeches, but this is an exception. You’ve worked hard to get here, you showed a lot of character along the way, even when I practically offered you a spot on the team if you joined us at the Equestria Games.” She took in a deep breath and sighed. “It’s not just an honor to share in this with you, it’s a privilege. Someday you’ll tell future Bolts the same thing.”

She stepped forward and placed a hoof on Rainbow’s shoulder, giving a little squeeze. “Right now, though, it’s your time. From this moment forward, you’re one of us. And this? Well …”

Spitfire stepped back into formation and slipped her goggles down to cover her eyes, signaling for the entire squad to do the same.

The team spoke in one voice, “Lead the way, Rainbow Dash. This is your first flight.”

Rainbow blinked, her body trembled with excitement. “Are you serious?” she asked, her voice cracking.

Smirking, Spitfire nodded. “We’ve got no routine or destination—”

“—Other than the one you choose for us,” Soarin added.

“So put those goggles on and let’s fly, Dash!” Misty called from the end of the line.

Quick as a flash, Rainbow slid her goggles into place. “Anything I want?”

“You lead, we follow,” Spitfire replied, gesturing toward the runway. “Get a good start, Dash. We’re right behind you.”

Rainbow snapped a salute with a trembling hoof, shamelessly grinning before she turned and sprinted down the runway. Her heart pounded in her ears, beating louder the closer she came to the edge.

But nowhere near as loud as the sound of hooves pounding against the clouds. Like a thundering herd, the Wonderbolts raced after her, whooping and laughing as they picked up speed.

Rainbow reached the edge and leapt off, folding her wings tight against her sides and angling herself for a sharp dive. Wind whistled past her ears and tugged at her coat. She closed her eyes for a moment to take it all in.

This was where she belonged, just like Soarin said. Every second of hard work, all those nights spent dreaming of the day she’d finally put on the uniform, none of it compared to how it actually felt.

If this is my first flight, then this is gonna be the most awesome first flight ever!

Her eyes snapped open, Rainbow flared her wings out and banked hard, heading south toward the rolling plains between Cloudsdale and Ponyville.

It might be a private tradition, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t give her longtime home a decent show. And free, no less.

But what sort of flight did she want it to be?

Rainbow wracked her brain as she flew, chancing a look back toward the team, humming to herself as she noticed them flying in a standard “V” formation.

No routine, huh? She grinned. Let’s see how they handle a good old fashioned Rainbow Dash special!

Up ahead, she noticed a nice field of clouds hanging lazily above the farmlands. The perfect obstacle course for improvisation.

“Keep up if you can, slowpokes!” she called over her shoulder before she kicked it into gear.

Catcalls and taunts met her in reply. Each pegasus put on burst of speed, easily keeping pace with her.

Rainbow pushed herself faster, her eyes flitted around, mapping out a makeshift run. Perfect! She rolled herself upside-down to go inverted over a low-hanging cloud.

Then the real fun began.

As soon as she cleared her first obstacle, Rainbow flipped herself upright and angled herself into a steep climb toward a quartet of clouds floating in a wide-spread diamond.

Signals, she reminded herself. Lead pony has to call the trick on a run.

Rainbow held a single hoof straight up for all to see. “Pattern change! Straight path!”

“Acknowledged!” several voices called back.

Her job done, she shot toward the highest cloud and brought herself close enough to reach out and touch the bottom, circling tight around it until she could see Misty Fly bringing up the rear.

With a cheeky grin, she shouted, “Yo, Misty! Heads up!” and dove straight for the bottom of the cloud diamond. She reached out and flicked a hoof across Misty’s tail as she flew by, sniggering to herself at the surprised yelp the older mare let out.

She’d pay for it later, no doubt. But that was future Rainbow’s problem.

Rainbow kept the pace up as she led them to weave through the clouds in a tight figure eight. Their speed sent wind whipping through the soft fluff, digging deep trenches into the sides.

Better not tear these up too bad, or we’re gonna have Weather Teams complaining.

As they came around the bottom cloud again, Rainbow broke from the pattern to race clockwise around the quartet. All the while, her eyes scanned the other clouds, wide and attentive, eager to find something else to play around with.

A large, wispy cloud that folded over itself like a crashing wave caught her eye. She smiled, mapping out her next move as she completed another circuit and shot toward her newest target, with Spitfire and the rest of the team hot on her tail.

“Hey, Cap!” she called over her shoulder as they approached, wind tugging at the corners of her mouth. “You ever been surfing?”

Though they were obscured by reflective goggles, Rainbow was almost certain Spitfire’s eyebrows were furrowed in confusion. “Can’t say I have!” she replied. “I was too busy flying!”

“How about cloud surfing?”

“What the hay is cloud surfing?”

“Something I just now came up with!” Rainbow grinned and pointed ahead. “Consider this your first lesson and get ready to hang four!” Then she put on a burst of speed and flew straight for the center of the cloud.

She could feel their eyes on her, watching curiously as she maneuvered herself to fly along the inside, her belly mere inches from touching its side.

Rainbow let out a whoop as she entered the tunnel. A cool shadow fell over her, the sound of her voice bouncing off of fluffy walls. With a slight tilt to her left, she closed her eyes and let herself circle along the interior, spreading her hooves out wide. Up ahead, she could see sunlight shining through the end of the tunnel.

The sound of wind trailing off a nearby pegasus drew her attention to her left, bringing her face to face with Spitfire.

Smirking, and with her hooves spread like Rainbow’s, she raised a brow. “Cloud surfing, huh?”

“Didn’t have a better name! And surfers do this sort of thing when they can fit inside the crest of a wave, so I figured ‘why not!’” After a moment’s thought, her smile fell. Rainbow flinched and made as though to move her hooves forward into proper flight position. “That’s okay, right?”

To her surprise, Spitfire kept her hooves spread out and gave a nod. “It’s your first flight, Dash. As long as you don’t get us killed, you’re in control.” She winked, then added, “By the way, hope you’re ready for Misty to get you back for that little stunt.”

Rainbow gave a sheepish chuckle. “You saw that, huh?”

“You weren’t subtle.” She chuckled and shook her head. “Coming to the end of the tunnel. What’ve you got planned for us next?”

Next? Without a routine, everything was just on feeling, pure instinct, and whim on Rainbow’s part. Everything so far had just been her want to rush in at breakneck speed, get a few quick turns in, then zip on through the clouds.

Rainbow thought about it for a moment. If first flight meant she got to lead the team on a flight her own way, why not put her own spin on it?

There were plenty of clouds and plenty of sky for everypony, so why should she have all the fun?

Setting her sights on the exit, Rainbow grinned. “Oh, just a little something I’ve wanted to do for just about ever!” she said, the crack in her voice betrayed her excitement. “Really wish I’d have thought of this one back when I got to spend that day with you guys after the Best Young Flyers Competition!”

She put on a burst of speed, any question Spitfire might’ve had was lost to the sound of rushing wind and her heart hammering in her ears. Rainbow began counting down in her head.

If this was her first flight with the Wonderbolts, it was going to be worth every second. Both for her and them.

Why not make it something a bit more special?

Three …

It’d be a great way to see what sort of flyers they were outside of their routines.

Two …

With a cocky smirk, Rainbow rolled over so her belly was facing upward and began to glide, cupping her hooves to her mouth.

One… Boom.

She cleared the exit, her eyes locked with Spitfire’s.

“Freestyle cloud course!” Rainbow cried, her gaze lingering on Spitfire just long enough to see a spark flash behind her eyes.

Her captain and longtime idol smirked. “You heard the mare!” Spitfire called over her shoulder. “Break formation and shred some sky!”

Rainbow rolled herself over and faced forward, grinning as her teammates’ cheering reached her ears. She beat her wings as hard as she could and set her sights on the field of innocent clouds, each just waiting to be battered and buffeted by eager pegasi.

The team spread out and began to weave their way through at their own pace.

A grin tugged at the corners of her mouth as she watched Misty and Wave Chill dive low, darting their way through the heavier clouds, giggling and squealing as a cackling Surprise gave chase. Then her eyes flitted over to where the brothers, Firestreak and Rapidfire, had peeled off toward a smattering of smaller clouds on her right side, while hurling quips back and forth as they raced. Nimbus, Stratos, and Slipstream chose to go left and disappeared into a thicker patch.

She looked up just in time to bank hard to the left around a smaller cloud, then righted herself. Too much spectating, Rainbow chided. Get flying and show these guys how it’s done!

With a few quick flaps of her wings, Rainbow shot forth like an arrow from a bow, darting her way through the field. Rolling and flipping, she sped along her course. The howling wind rang in her ears as she pumped her wings harder. She touched down on a smaller cloud, then leapt toward another, flipping herself over to deliver a flying side kick.

The cloud exploded in a flurry of fluff, and Rainbow let her momentum carry her through the evaporating remnants. She flipped herself back into a flying position, just in time for a teal-and-white blur to go streaking passed her on the right.

Rainbow watched Fleetfoot race along, a cocky smirk gracing the older mare’s lips as she weaved around the clouds with ease. Each beat of her wings, each little tilt of her body to bank or roll seemed almost fluid. Poetry in motion from the Wonderbolts’ fastest sprint flyer.

Out of the corner of her eye, she caught sight of Soarin cruising along her left side, a lazy smile on his muzzle. Unlike Fleetfoot, who flapped her wings quickly to sprint along, he preferred to give single strokes, putting his muscles to work to power his glides. He swung wide around a cloud, just close enough for Rainbow to hear him humming a jaunty tune.

Flying to music? Rainbow snorted and shook her head, a smile playing upon her lips. That sounds an awful lot like the Cloudsdale Anthem.

Unbidden, she began to hum along, adjusting her speed until she was flying in synchronization with Soarin. Their eyes met. Soarin gave a bright grin and a wave before he banked left around a cloud, disappearing for a few seconds, then reemerged in the midst of a barrel roll.

Everypony was accounted for, save one.

Rainbow searched the sky for any hint of yellow and orange. Nothing on the right, nothing on the left—save for a glimpse of Firestreak where the clouds parted. She glanced down, frowning when she found no sign of Spitfire there, either.

There’s no way she fell behind. Where the hay did she—

It clicked.


She craned her neck back to look, squinting as the sun stung her eyes, even through the shaded lenses of her goggles. Rainbow winced, but kept searching. A small part of her cursed that the Wonderbolts’ uniforms blended in so well with the deep blue sky.

The traditionalist in her beat back that smaller part and reminded it that the Wonderbolts had been wearing blue and gold since their founding, and the coloring served both to identify them to other ponies and help them blend in during wartime. Even if the latter hadn’t been needed in over a century.

Rainbow pushed those thoughts to the back of her mind. “C’mon, Cap,” she muttered. “Where are you hiding?”

A heavy cloud floated into her view and blocked out the sun, casting its shadow over Rainbow. Then, there was a flash of yellow streaking against the gray backdrop of its underside.

A smile made its way across her muzzle. Her heart leapt into her throat, and her hooves began to shake in poorly restrained glee.

Spitfire wasn’t flying Wonderbolts style. She was flying Spitfire style.

With wingbeats as powerful as Soarin’s and speed almost matching Fleetfoot’s, Spitfire cut through the sky like she was its master; banking wide around clouds with barely an effort, the smallest movement in her body sent her into a perfect roll or somersault. Whatever she willed, she did.

No, Rainbow told herself as she veered around a cloud, her eyes still locked on Spitfire. Not like she owns it. She does own it.

Watching her captain fly was a sight unlike anything she’d ever seen. If Fleetfoot’s seamless maneuvers were poetry in motion, Spitfire was a step above even that.


To Rainbow’s delight, Spitfire took an angled dive to join her, smiling as she slowed enough to bump their shoulders together. “Not a bad idea, Dash,” she said. “Did you think that one up on the fly or was that in the plan all along?”

“On the fly!” Rainbow replied. “I thought it’d be cool to let everypony kinda do their thing before we finished up.”

Spitfire flashed a grin. “Very nice! If not for how chaotic it could get, I’d say we should work that into a show somehow.” Furrowing her brows, she brought a hoof to her chin, casually veering left with Rainbow as they rounded the last cloud. “Hmm, then again we could always do with a bit of controlled chaos so the show’s less routine. It’d create a bit of drama and unique flair to it.”

With a shrug, she turned her attention to Rainbow again. “I’ll have to run it by Soarin and Fleetfoot later. You don’t mind us borrowing the idea, right?”

“Me? Mind it? No way!” she cried, shaking her head. “That’d be totally awesome!”


The pair passed by the last cloud and regrouped with the rest of the team, exchanging cheers and hoofbumps until they found their places at the front of the formation.

“Whatcha got next?” Spitfire called. “Don’t wanna press you for time, but the party’s gonna start soon!”

Humming a note to herself, Rainbow thought for a moment. Slowly, a smile made its way across her muzzle.

Her first flight would end the same way it began all those years ago.

“Have them form up and head back,” Rainbow said with a crack in her voice. She wiped a hoof across her face to brush away a stray tear. “I’ll be waiting for you guys on the runway.”

There was silence between them save for the rushing winds.

After a moment, Spitfire cleared her throat. “You got it, Dash. See you back at base.” Then, Rainbow felt a hoof touch her shoulder. “Bring it home, rookie.”

“Can’t call me rookie anymore. I made the team.”

Spitfire snorted. “I’m your CO, I can call you whatever I want.” She jabbed her hoof upward. “Now get your tail up there and give me a Rainboom.”

Snapping a quick salute, Rainbow flapped her wings and pulled up, climbing as high as she could go. She snuck a peek down in time to catch sight of Spitfire waving her hoof in a circle, the signal for everypony to form up and head home.

The corners of her mouth twitched as she watched them bank hard so they could fly north toward their base. It was like a race. She was just giving them a little bit of a head start before she blew them all out of the water.

Rainbow climbed until the clouds were just balls of fluff beneath her. She closed her eyes and began to time her breathing with her wingbeats.

Then, unbidden, an old song came to mind. The same one she’d sung at her first Grand Galloping Gala.

Been dreamin’, I’ve been waitin’!

She stopped flapping and leaned forward into a nosedive, then let gravity do the rest.

To fly with those great ponies!

Rainbow opened her eyes to see the ground coming closer, like an oncoming apple cart. She bit her lip and pushed her hooves out as a conical shock formed around her. Wind tugged at her ears and the corners of her mouth.

Just a bit more, just a little faster and she’d be there.

The Wonderbolts, their daring tricks, spinning ‘round and having kicks!

An explosion sounded, Rainbow pulled up and arched across the sky, trailing rainbows and bathing the world in a beautiful display of colors as she raced back to the Wonderbolts’ base.