The afternoon sun beat down from an empty, cloudless blue void.
Today was a special day, and even the sky was cleared to make way for the festivities.
Today was the day of the Grand Galloping Gala. In the distance, the sounds of excited chatter combined with the tacky, but colorful fanfare of carnival music to create a warm, buoyant atmosphere.
Ponies from all over Equestria gathered today to indulge in food, merrymaking, and entertainment. However, on a small green hill overlooking the Canterlot Stadium, sat a young, sky-blue Pegasus, her head buried in her front hooves and her soft, rainbow tail curled tightly around her body and over her left wing.
Rainbow Dash peeks her head out from under her forelegs to glance at the stadium again, puffing angrily in its direction before rousing herself back on all fours. She exhales an agitated sigh, her front hoof stomping her anger into the grass. “Stupid… Stupid rules!” She spits in her raspy voice. “I almost had ‘em too! I was THIS close! Arrg!”
She had done everything just like she’d practiced almost on a daily basis, and today was going to be her day. Today, Rainbow Dash was going to steal the show.
Although the Wonderbolts weren’t scheduled to perform for a little while, Dash couldn’t help but feel excited imagining the looks on the their faces when they arrive to find her already gathering applause from the crowd.
“C’mon dash! Time to show ‘em what the fastest pony on Equestria can do!” She whispered to herself as she hovered over the enormous stadium.
First, she swooped in over the massive crowds, causing a few of them to gasp and turn their heads towards the mystery Pegasus. She straightened her body and accelerated to record breaking speeds, dragging a translucent rainbow afterglow in her wake. She turned her head to see if she had attracted the attention of any of the ponies. Satisfied with her growing crowd, she continued.
Second, she dropped to ground level and pranced along the grass; skillfully maintaining her speed while performing her own patented Superspeed Strut. Though the sound of the wind rushing past her face drowned out most other noises, she could hear the distinct sound of cheering. This brought not a smile, but a large, cocky grin to her face. She was doing it! This was finally a dream come true!
Third, she kicked off the ground into a sharp ascension. Like a rocket, she shot straight up into the sky. From the peak altitude, the stadium looked like it could have easily fit into the center of her hoof. Slowing until coming to a complete stop, she twirls herself around and lets gravity take over, freefalling as she watches the Earth rush back towards her.
Barely meters away from the crowd, she flips over, spreading her wings and gliding into a sharp turn. The air dragging behind her Fantastic Filly Flash whipped popcorn from the bags of awestruck watchers and flags from the mouths of dazzled spectators.
Finally, she slowed herself down, spun around, and started gaining speed again. Rainbow dash planned to end this show with a bang so big it would even put the Wonderbolts to shame.
The wind flattened her mane against her neck as she gave an arrow-like sharpness to her form, preparing to ascend one last time.
This was it! She thought. Finally, after all these years, this was it! This was… net?!
She tried in vain to skid to a stop to avoid the obstacle, but found that her efforts were fruitless in midair. With a shriek, she crashed into the net and its ropey jaws twisted around her. “Wha- What’s goin’ on?! What’s the big idea?!” She yelled as she thrashed about in her rope prison.
After burning out the last of her adrenaline on trying to escape, she spun around and stared into the face of a guard Pegasus bearing a suit of glittering armor and a stern look. There was another one next to him, and their hooves were fastened tightly around the net that held Rainbow Dash prisoner.
The cheers from the crowd faded into hushed murmurs as they dragged her from the stage.
The net unfurls and with a thud, Dash comes spilling out onto the grass.
“What’s the big idea?!” She repeated, hopping up and furiously waving a hoof at one of the guards.
“No flying in the performance area.” Answered a cold, strict voice.
“What? Why?” Dash asked shakily, a simmering pot of anger boiling over the cool she struggled to maintain in her voice.
The guard eases his tone a bit, almost sympathetically. After all, he would have let her continue if it was up to him, but rules were rules. “Those are the rules, ma’am. It’s for your own safety. Now if you want to stay and enjoy the show like everypony else, that’s fine, but no flying. Okay?”
Rainbow Dash’s response was to stare down at the ground. “Fine, whatever.” She mumbles reluctantly.
“Good! Sorry about the net. I know it’s not the nicest way to stop a pony, but I gotta admit, you were just too fast for these old wings.”
He smiles, and then nods towards the other guard. With a salute from each, they both fly back to their respective patrol locations, and Dash slumped her head. She felt as if she had failed, as if her dreams were crushed and blown away by the wind. Without a sound, Dash retreated to a small hill overlooking the area not terribly far from behind the bleachers.
“What now…?” She quietly asked herself, narrowing her eyes at the stadium. Sure, she got a few good moves in, but she wasn’t finished, and the Wonderbolts didn’t even get to see her.
Rainbow Dash gritted her teeth, then hunkered to the ground like a manticore ready to pounce. She didn’t know where she would go – or why she was leaving, for that matter – but her anger demanded that she get out of there, and fast. Hooves firmly dug into the dirt, she propels herself into the air, spreading her wings and barely getting a single flap from them before colliding with something – or someone.
The impact sent her spiraling back down to the earth, where she rolled a few feet before skidding to a stop.
A hoof is pressed against her head as she sits up, still seizing the effects of what just happened as she waits for her vision to refocus. “Owww…” She moans before turning around to see the victim of her sudden takeoff. “Huh? Hey watch where you’re going!”
Lying in the grass a few yards away was a handsome, and somewhat familiar snowy Pegasus with a thin, ebony mane. On both of his flanks rested a black lightning bolt sporting a proud set of wings. The Pegasus slowly rouses himself, examining first his hooves, and then his wings. As soon as he was absolutely sure he was still in one piece, he turns around slowly and frowns. “Whoopsie.” He says plainly, pausing for a second before continuing. ”Uhh, sorry ‘bout that young lady. You alright over there?”
Dash quickly shakes the stars away from her vision and rouses herself. She clears her throat, then does her best to strike a proud pose, her hoof giving a single, waist high wave as she puts the cool back into her voice. “Who me? Pfft, yeah, I’m fine. A little bump ain’t gonna stop me. I… I guess that was kinda my bad anyways. Sorry about that.”
He trots over to Dash, his face a mixture of curiosity and sympathy. “Oh, no. Don’t worry ‘bout it. I’m just glad you’re okay, y’know? I woulda been in real trouble if I’d injured someone before the…” He pauses again. “Hey, wait a minute!”
Dash perks an inquisitive brow as the other Pegasus accusingly points a hoof at her. “Ain’t you that pony that just got thrown out of the stadium?”
The question catches Dash off guard. “Huh? Me?” She asks stupidly before slipping the sharp edge back into her voice. “W-What’s it to ya?! Gonna laugh now?”
“Heck naw! That was awesome!” He replies with a broad grin.
“Real funny. Ha ha- Wait? What? Really?!“
Dash’s eyes widen, a light blush beaming from her face as she glances back up at the Pegasus. She did her best to hold back a smile, in vain. “Err, well I mean, of course it was!”
“Yeah, awesome! Those were some preeeety sweet moves y’know? And trust me, I know sweet moves. By the way, I’m N-” He stops himself, then clears his throat. “Err, call me Streak.”
The name Streak struck an odd chord with Rainbow Dash, it was a name that lingered on the back of her mind for some reason. Now where had she heard that name before?
“Huh? Streak?” Dash leans in, narrowing her eyes. “You know, you look sorta familiar. Have we met?”
Streak clears his throat. “Erm, what? Us? Oh no no no! Never. Nope. Nuh-uh.” He chuckles nervously, coughing into his hoof as he changes the topic. “What’s your name, anyways?”
Dash was unsatisfied with his response, but answers anyways. “Rainbow Dash!” She declares, twirling a hoof through the air before placing it against her chest. “The number one flier in Ponyville, and soon to be next member of the Wonderbolts!”
“Ponyville, huh? Wonderbolts, you say? Wouldn’t that be somethin’.” He muses.
Dash rolls her eyes, and then stabs a wing in the direction of the stadium. “Well, yeah it WOULD be, if those stupid guards didn’t catch me with that stupid net. I was almost done with my best move too. And the Wonderbolts weren’t even there to see me either!”
This brought a tiny smirk from the other Pegasus. “No kiddin’, huh? Don’t worry about it. I’m sure word’ll get to ‘em eventually. They’re always on the lookout for skilled and awesome ponies like you, y’know?”
“Yeah, I guess so. I was hoping to get an audition from them today. I mean, if my show didn’t have that teeny tiny little hiccup at the end.”
Streak absently rubs a hoof against his chin as he thinks. “They don’t do... Er, I mean I don’t think they do auditions at their own shows. They seem to like to do that when they have a few days off from practicing and performing - not that I would know, mind you. They might even stop by Ponyville some time, you never know.”
Dash ponders his words, daydreaming for a moment about the Wonderbolts coming to Ponyville to literally get blown away by an awesome blue Pegasus.
Dash shakes herself back to reality “Hey Streak.” She says, “You know, you’re pretty cool. Not as cool as me, of course. But from one cool pony to another, you’re alright.” She gives him a smug, but friendly grin, and then continues. “So, wanna hang out? I know! You could even meet my friends after the show!”
Come to think of it, Dash hadn’t seen any of the other five ponies she came to the Gala with. Aside from Fluttershy, who wasn’t likely interested in watching the show to begin with, the others either never showed up, or hid themselves in the crowd.
Streak doesn’t respond right away, as if seriously debating the answer. Finally, he frowns, and then quickly flips it into a pitied smile. “Aww, shucks. I really do want to, y’know? but I have a couple of friends waiting for me. You know how it is. Anyways-“
He hops into the air, spreading his wings and expertly hovering in place. “Tell ya what though. Keep them wings strong, and keep practicing those moves. Maybe we’ll meet again someday, y’know? Anyways, later!”
With that, Streak gives her a firm, almost militaristic salute before spinning around and soaring back towards the stadium with speed that left her jaw askew.
Meet again? What did he mean by meet again?
Dash shakes her head, and then smiles. She felt a little better now. Even if she didn’t steal the show, at least she made another friend, and you could never have enough fans- Err, friends.
Dash nods confidently to herself, and then twirls around to return to the stadium.
The Wonderbolts’ performance continued as scheduled about ten minutes later, and most of the crowd had already forgotten about the mystery Pegasus from earlier.
As they danced through the sky with unmatched professionalism, Rainbow Dash roared with cheers from among the other spectators, ‘oohing’ and ‘ahhing’ at every trick they showed, and every maneuver they practiced. The show lasted for an hour and a half at least, and the whole time they never failed to impress their fans.
As the show ended, the three members of the flying troupe paused before the crowds to take a bow. As the crowd cheered ‘Won-der-bolts! Won-der-bolts!’ with Dash leading the charge, they turned single file and sped off and out of sight.
The Wonderbolts were never known to stick around to sell merchandise or give autographs, but in the end, Dash didn’t mind. There would always be a next time, and what better way to spend the time until their next show by practicing her moves? Dash grinned, silently swearing an oath to herself that next time, she would make sure to finish what she started.
As she exited the stadium along with the rest of the ponies, she kept glancing around looking for any familiar ones. In the back of her mind, she was thankful that she didn’t find any of her friends here, yet at the same time, slightly annoyed that none of them showed up. A sudden tap on the shoulder yanks Dash back to attention.
A grey Pegasus with a blond mane greeted her. The Pegasus had wide, unaligned eyes, giving her a sort of dumbfounded appearance that had earned her the name Derpy Hooves amongst antagonizing folk, though most ponies simply knew her as The Mail Pony.
She was a bit of a klutz, and could catch a point about as fast as Pinkie Pie. However, Ditzy Doo was as smart or nice as your average pony should be, and undeniably one of the best mail carriers around.
“Huh? Oh. What’s up Ditzy? You working today?” Dash asks, motioning a hoof towards the brown leather satchel at her side.
“Yup!” Ditzy replies enthusiastically, a cheery smile lighting up her face. “An’ I gots something’ for you, Dash!”
She dips her head into her satchel, papers rustling as she swims her muzzle through the bag. Finally, she jolts back up, a large scroll resting delicately between her teeth “Pesha rihery!” She says in a muffled voice.
The scroll is passed to a confused Dash, and she tucks it under her wing. “Huh?
“Special delivery!” Ditzy repeats. “Must be really important! He gave it to me himself!”
This piqued Dash’s interest. “He gave it to you? Who gave it to you?”
“Dunno.” She replies absently.
Dash narrows her eyes at Ditzy, to which she replies by proudly puffing out her chest to chirp the PonyAIR creed:
“Through rain or shine, it’s right on time!
Through sleet or snow, it’s never slow!
Through thunder or winds or fire or hail;
The pony mail will never fail!
Ditzy gives a bubbly giggle before easing herself. “Anyways, I gotsta get back to work now. Seeya later Dash!”
With an off-balanced salute, Ditzy Doo twirls around on a single hoof and leaps into the air, barely avoiding another pony and narrowly missing a flagpole as she clumsily straightens herself out into a glide in the opposite direction from the stadium.
“Weirdo.” Dash mutters with a small smile, dropping the scroll to the ground and spreading it open with her hooves.
Dash fancied herself ready for anything, but she never expected what she saw.
Her eyes dance over the scroll. She read it once, twice, and then a few more times just to soak it all in.
Lengthwise across the center were three hoof prints, and respectively below each one was a name in fresh ink:
TANGERINE; NIGHTSTREAK; DAZZLE CLOUD
Below that: ‘TO OUR NUMBER ONE FAN, RAINBOW DASH.’ Along with the official Wonderbolts wax seal.
“No way!” Dash exclaims out loud. “Streak?!”
She immediately glances side to side, as if her friend from earlier would still be around. He wasn’t.
“Holy- That is so AWESOME!” Dash blurted again.
“What’s so awesome?” A voice behind her kindly inquired.
Twilight Sparkle had a light bounce in her steps as she approaches Dash. “Everypony’s leaving.” She muses as the stadium continues to empty out. “Did I miss the show? I’m sorry Rainbow Dash.”
Twilight tilts her head, sporting a sly smile at Dash “So, did you get to do all those cool things you said you were going to do?” She asks.
Dash turns around, and looks Twilight up and down. “Twilight! Yeah! I mean, well, sorta, well I mean no, not really, I mean…” Her ears perk, and she pushes the scroll towards Twilight. “Nevermind that, check THIS out!”
Twilight levitates the scroll, reading it out loud as she examines. “To our number one fan… Rainbow Dash! Oh, that’s so cool Dash. Did you get to meet with the Wonderbolts? I was told they didn’t do autographs.”
The scroll telepathically rolls up and tucks itself under Dash’s wing. “Well, kiiind of.” Dash replies slowly. “Ehh, it’s kind of a long story, I’ll tell you later. So where are the others?”
Twilight rolls her head from side to side as she thinks. “Well, let’s see. Fluttershy is probably still in the garden. Applejack is running a stand out at the market. Spike is with Pinkie Pie probably chowing down at the buffet, and Rarity… Well I’m not sure where Rarity went, now that you mention it.”
“Then where have you been?” Dash asks, poking Twilight in the chest.
“Oh me? I’ve been… heh, well. Reading. I was going to attend the Wonderbolts’ performance, but I must have gotten so caught up that I completely lost track of time.”
“Reading? Are you serious?!”
Dash couldn’t believe it, but then again, this was Twilight Sparkle, the egghead.
“Of course! I brought a few recreational books that I hadn’t finished yet.” Twilight motions with her horn towards a small bag that rested on her side. “One’s a fictional biography about a time traveling pony called ‘The Doctor’! And another’s ab-“
Her description is cut off at the sound of Dash’s stomach growling. Twilight quirks an eyebrow and the Pegasus chuckles nervously. “Oh heh. That sounds REAL fun and all, but I think that chowing down thing you mentioned earlier sounds like a good plan.”
Twilight giggles softly. “It… sounds like your stomach agrees. Let’s go then. C’mon, the buffet is this way.”
Twilight turns to lead the way, absentmindedly humming one of Pinkie Pie’s many songs, which inevitably got stuck in everypony’s head at some point, leaving Dash hovering in the air behind her.
The sky-blue Pegasus turns and gives the stadium one last look. There were a few ponies loitering around the bleachers, but for the most part, it was now empty.
With a glint of pride in her eyes, and a smirk balancing itself on the side of her face, she raises her hoof in a salute before leaving to follow her friend.