The Best of the Best Fliers Exhibition
It was a massacre. A massacre swift in execution, and absolute in the ending of its targets. Alas, not a single cloud, no matter how white or fluffy, survived the eradication of its kind at the deft hooves of Rainbow Dash, weather pony extraordinaire.
"Wow Rainbow Dash, I think that's a new record!" Cloud Kicker's mouth hung agape at this stunning display of cloud genocide. The poor collections of floating water droplets never stood a chance.
Landing triumphantly, Rainbow Dash affirmed that this display was indeed a record in the field of cloud clearing. "Yep, twenty-two clouds spread over approximately one thousand square yards cleared in eight and one half seconds is definitely a new record. And yes, I'm totally awesome." She nonchalantly rubbed a hoof against her chest, before blowing off the lingering cloud puffs stuck to the aforementioned hoof.
"Wait, how are you able to just rattle off all that? You can actually keep track of that stuff?" asked a somewhat skeptical Cloud Kicker, a light-purple, blond-maned pegasus who was Rainbow Dash's co-manager for Ponyville's weather team.
"Yeah, an athlete's got to know exactly how amazing they are, you know," declared the boastful cyan pegasus.
"Whatever." Cloud Kicker rolled her eyes, not terribly impressed with Rainbow Dash's braggart nature on this day, however much she considered the blue pegasus a friend. She was used to it, though. Rainbow Dash being her boss made that somewhat of an inevitability.
"Hey, you know it's good practice for my show this weekend. I gotta make a good impression on the Wonderbolts so they'll finally invite me to join!" explained Dash concerning her showoff-y behavior. "So, will you make sure everything's covered while I'm gone this weekend?" asked a now much more serious and level-headed Rainbow Dash.
"Of course! You know I'll have everything under control," replied Cloud Kicker
"The list of things that need to be done is at town hall, but here's the most important things: Sweet Apple Acres needs a good rain, Ponyville's due for a good and windy day, and there's a big storm brewing over the Everfree Forest that might be heading this way, so keep an eye on that. Got it?"
"Consider it done."
"I knew I could count on you. Thanks a ton for keeping things running while I'm gone."
"I am your second-in-command for a reason, you know." Cloud Kicker wore a sly grin on her face.
"Heh, yeah, you are second-in-command for a reason. Hay, you'd probably run things better than me. You know I find managing all the details boring." The rainbow pegasus let out a chuckle, and Cloud Kicker beamed. "Don't let it go to your head though, 'cause I'm still the best at getting the job done. Besides, letting things get to the head is my job."
Cloud Kicker rolled her eyes. "Sometimes I wonder why I put up with you. And you know I'm usually the one that has to sort out all the details."
"'Cause I'm the boss, that's why. And you know I'm just teasing you. And like I just said, I'm the boss. It's called delegating," retorted Rainbow Dash.
"I say it's called lazy," deadpanned Cloud Kicker, who was rolling her eyes again before breaking out into a giggle that she tried to suppress with a hoof to her mouth.
"Yeah, you sure are funny Cloud Kicker," said Rainbow Dash, who took her own opportunity to roll her eyes at her co-worker.
"Yes. Yes I am," stated Cloud Kicker, at which point the two friends burst out laughing together, forelegs over each other's shoulders.
A moment later, after the two had calmed down, the blue pegasus said, "I'd better get going," before taking off into the air and waving goodbye. "Thanks again for everything!"
"You're welcome. Bye!" Cloud Kicker waved farewell as Rainbow Dash suddenly became nothing more than a rainbow blur zooming off into the distance.
* * * * * * *
"Spike, do you have everything we'll need for our trip?" asked Twilight Sparkle, who was currently otherwise engrossed in the book Advanced Spells for the Traveling Pony.
"Yes ma'am!" enthusiastically replied the purple dragon as he gave Twilight a salute to express his diligence.
"Thanks Spike. I trust you'll keep the library safe while we're all gone?"
"You know it!"
The unicorn headed for the door as she said, "Alright, I better get going. I told the girls I'd meet them outside, because Pinkie Pie always seems to make a-" At that point Twilight was next to the door when, on cue, it suddenly slammed open, crushing her flat against the wall.
In trotted Pinkie Pie, oblivious to the fact that she had just smashed Twilight with the door, who asked, "Hey Spike, where's that silly filly Twilight? We're waiting for her outside."
Sighing, Spike went to separate the door from the wall, which left Twilight to crash face first on the floor. "-mess," she finished her statement from before she became a pancake.
Pinkie rushed to the lavender unicorn's side, hovering over her. Pinkie tilted her head until it was parallel to Twilight's prone form. "Hey Twi, we're all waiting!"
"...Ow," was the only reply the unicorn could muster.
The idea finally got to Pinkie that Twilight may not be feeling so well, considering the fact that she seemed somewhat slimmer than the last time Pinkie had seen her. "Oh, are you okay?" Pinkie asked of Twilight.
"Ugh... I'll live. Probably," she said with more than a hint of snark.
Pinkie, as usual, remained totally immune to such things as sarcasm and snark, as she said "Well, it can't be as bad as that day you were following me around and you got stung by a bunch of bees then fell down those stairs and then Derpy accidentally dropped a piano and anvil on you and a bunch of other things too. And I'm pretty sure before all that you had at least a couple of doors slammed on you." With a hop and a giggle, she concluded, "So I'm sure you'll be just fine!"
A sigh escaped the unicorn. "Yeah, thanks for reminding me. I was really worried there. Come on Pinkie, let's go." As the perk to her step returned, she waved and gave Spike her final goodbye before exiting the library she called home.
Emerging into the outside world, the bubbly earth pony and studious unicorn found the rest of their group centered around Rainbow Dash, who was explaining the momentous event they were to attend.
Hovering a few feet in the air and gesticulating her excitement, Rainbow Dash gave the full spiel after seeing Pinkie Pie and Twilight Sparkle join the circle."The Best of the Best Fliers Exhibition is like the biggest, most important, and most awesome event of the year! This is what the Wonderbolts save the best show of their performing season for! Oh man, it'll be amazing! And most awesome of all, since I won last year's Best Young Flier competition, I've been invited to perform! With the Wonderbolts themselves watching!" Her excitement finally getting the best of her, the athletic pegasus let out a high pitched squeal.
Pinkie joined Dash's excitement, hopping up and down. Though it was possible that she was just doing that because she was almost always that excited, her being Pinkie Pie and all. Regardless, she shouted, "Oh Dashie, you're right! This will be the BEST VACATION EVER!"
"Darn tootin'," concurred Applejack.
"Indeed, the Wonderbolts, not to mention yourself Rainbow Dash, always put on marvelous showcases of acrobatic bravado." Rarity voiced her enthusiasm in a fashion much more befitting of a lady like herself.
"Oh yes, I'm so excited," the mild-mannered Fluttershy quietly expressed how she was looking forward to the weekend's events.
Twilight walked into the center of the circle her friends had formed and declared, "Alright then ladies! Let's get going!" A glowing sphere encircled the friends as Twilight prepared a group teleportation spell to take them directly to the fields under Cloudsdale where the extravaganza of flight was taking place. Nary a moment later, the six disappeared.
* * * * * * *
A green expanse filled the horizon, spotted with the occasional tree. In the foreground of this panorama stood a large coliseum which was itself surrounded by several smaller stadiums. In the field encompassing these structures were scores upon scores of tents and the excited mass of ponies here for the weekend's big event. If they were to look up and to the west, they would see the pegasus city of Cloudsdale that was only five miles away.
In a small clearing just half a mile south of the massive gathering, the six friends of Ponyville known as the Elements of Harmony appeared with a bang, Twilight Sparkle at the head of the group. She said, "That went well, didn't it girls? I told you I got the spell down perfectly this time!"
It was only then that she heard the cacophony of coughing behind her. She turned to face her friends, who did not seem very amused, not to mention the fact that their faces looked like they were covered in soot, their manes blown backwards and held rigid by the same black substance that was all over their faces.
"Oh, uh, well at least it didn't affect me this ti-"Twilight began, but the increasingly annoyed looks her friends gave her told her that as far as they were concerned that point was entirely moot.
Rainbow Dash was the first to speak up. "You know Twilight, I'm totally a better flier than you are a magician. That's why I was invited to this competition while instead you're just getting us blown up."
"But what about that one time you ended up in the hospital?" Twilight retorted.
"I'm still better. I don't constantly make stuff explode by accident."
"There was also that time-"
"And that other time-"
"I'm better!" Rainbow Dash was getting quite flustered by this point.
As those two bickered, the other four were laughing at the spectacle they were putting on for them, until Pinkie suddenly appeared right between the two arguing ponies. Giggling, she told them, "Oh you two silly fillies, you're both amazingly fantasteriffic!"
"Thanks Pinkie," Dash and Twilight said in unison.
"And you're both totally hi-larious!" At that point she and the three others all resumed laughing at the two of them who had not a moment ago been busy being arrogant. At first the unicorn and the pegasus weren't amused, but eventually even they joined in on the jubilant laughter.
"I'm sorry everypony. I'll be sure to work on the whole that 'not exploding all of you' thing," apologized the now-going-to-spend-all-night-studying unicorn.
"Oh, it's alright. I don't really mind," said the docile Fluttershy. "Well, I don't mind too much," she amended, before blushing. The rest of them nodded in agreement.
"My coiffure and I tentatively forgive you as well Twilight, assuming we can restore ourselves to our usual fabulousity." Rarity added.
"Well shucks, what're we all still standing around here waitin' for? Let's go get ourselves set up for the night," offered Applejack.
"Splendid idea! Let's get going girls," agreed Twilight, who led the way as they searched for a place to set up their lodgings for the weekend.
A few hours later, they found themselves in the eastern field, all putting the finishing touches on their homes away from home. The two abodes that appeared to be the largest were Rainbow Dash's and Pinkie Pie's. The former had built a miniature version of her sizable cloud home in Ponyville, complete with fancy columns and a small rainbow fountain. It was, however, lacking in most of the amenities that could be found in her actual house.
The latter's tent (if one could call it that) was on the outside a giant cupcake ten feet tall, complete with pink frosting and sprinkles. On the inside, it inexplicably included a full kitchen with every possible ingredient one could need to make any confection wanted. It also had a cotton candy machine.
The unicorn's tents were both extravagantly designed. Rarity's was a majestic, small-scale, snow white castle just large enough to be complete in its detail, and her cutie mark adorned the entryway. Despite the detailed design, the tent appeared to be just large enough for two ponies.
Twilight's tent was in the shape of a tower about thirteen feet tall, lavender in color. The top came to a point, and just below widened to allow for a door that stepped out onto a perch complete with a battlement. Similarly to Rarity's, Twilight's cutie mark sat just above the door. However, looking upon it from the outside, it seemed like it barely had room for one pony, much less room for a way to reach the balcony.
Of course, the unicorns' tents were not normal on the inside, just as they did not appear normal on the outside. If one were to walk inside either of them, it would be apparent that they were enchanted, as they were both volumes larger indoors and were both fitted with accommodations tailored to their owners. Rarity's had a complete dressing room full of the dresses she deemed the most stunning for the occasion, and Twilight's was fitted with a miniature (by her standards at least) book depository.
As for Applejack and Fluttershy, the two of them had brought merely simple single-pony tents with sleeping bags. Despite their apparent simplicity, the tents took just as long to set up as all the other much more desirable sleeping quarters of the other four. Fluttershy and Applejack did not fail to notice this as the two finished setting up said single-pony tents.
"What the..." muttered Applejack at seeing her friends' exorbitant weekend homes.
"Oh my..." whispered Fluttershy, expressing a similar sentiment. The two, in unison, looked at their own tents, then their friends', and then each other before sharing an embarrassed chuckle. Suddenly, a raucous racket made its way to their ears from Pinkie Pie's monument to her love of sweets, so Applejack and Fluttershy made their way over to investigate.
"Knock knock Pinkie Pie, can me an' Fluttershy come in?" asked the farm pony.
"Of course! You don't even have to ask," answered the pink pony.
The first thing to greet Fluttershy and Applejack as they stepped into the tent was the sight of Pinkie Pie frantically working to prepare what appeared to be two cakes, three dozen donuts, and a batch of cookie bars. And cotton candy. Simultaneously. By the looks of things, and in spite of a few laws of physics that would have something to say about this cook-off undertaken by a lone pony, she seemed to be succeeding.
"...uhhh, how do you have all this stuff? Here? In a tent?" a dumbfounded Applejack asked, deciding to skip the subject of how her tent could be so big in light of even stranger revelations.
"My party cannon has a camp-out setting, that's how, silly Applejack. Who's a silly pony? You is!" explained Pinkie Pie, if one could call that an explanation.
"Right. And you know it annoys the dickens out of me when you say that." The pink baker only giggled mischievously in response.
"Hey, would you tell everypony that I almost am done making treats for all of us?"
"Sure thing, Sugarcube. Let's go Fluttershy." The two walked outside, and Applejack whispered to Fluttershy, "Ya know, sometimes that girl freaks me the hay out."
"She's Pinkie Pie," came Fluttershy's response.
A few hours later, after sharing the relatively small percentage of treats that weren't consumed by Pinkie Pie, and after Applejack and Fluttershy deflected all the offers they received to share one of the others' four spacious lodgings (and after the two were reminded endlessly by the two unicorns that enchanted tents are a commodity on sale at most outdoorspony shops), the six split ways for the evening. Applejack, being the "early to bed, early to rise" kind of gal, went to go get her shut eye for the night. Twilight went to go hit the books, which came as a surprise to nopony, though Pinkie Pie reminded her that reading books instead of hitting them is usually much more effective. Rarity went to relax in her personal hot tub, and to the other four's surprise, Fluttershy opted to accompany Rainbow Dash to this year's big rock concert with a number of huge bands performing. That in itself was considered an event that accounted for a large percentage of the ponies in attendance.
"You too Fluttershy? I didn't know you liked that kind of music," asked Twilight.
"Oh, um, well, Rainbow Dash got me to listen to it when we were in school together, and I thought it was really good back then. Rainbow Dash and I still listen to music together for old times' sake every once in a while. We even go to the occasional concert," replied Fluttershy while mildly blushing.
"Yeah, and the band that plays a lot of our favorite songs is playing! Like 'The Manehatten Project' and 'The Trees'! It's going to be almost as awesome as watching the Wonderbolts perform!" shouted Rainbow Dash
"'The Trees' is my favorite." Fluttershy beamed with excitement.
"And there's a few awesome songs they're gonna play that they haven't played in like forever! Aren't you excited to hear them play 'A Farewell to Kings' again finally Fluttershy?"
"Well, then what are we still here for? We gotta get good seats!"
Twilight bid them farewell, "Alright, have fun you two!" They all wished each other a good night as the sun sat on the horizon before finally sinking below and bringing night with its passing.
* * * * * * *
The next day's afternoon, the two pegasi of the group found them selves a few cloud layers high in the sky.
"Yay," came Fluttershy's soft brand of cheering as from a nearby cloud she watched Rainbow Dash practice for her routine later that day.
The blue pegasus was outdoing herself. First, she had gathered a mass of clouds in the sky which such speed it was almost as if they had spontaneously appeared there. Then, she flew around the cloud in every which way so fast that the cloud appeared to be surrounded by her rainbow trail as if it was the nucleus at the center before she finally flew right into it, causing it to shoot lightning in every direction and creating a stunning explosion of colors that crackled with electricity across the Equestrian sky.
"Oh wow, it's so pretty Rainbow Dash," said Fluttershy as she saw her friend coming to land proudly next to her.
"Yeah, it is pretty awesome, isn't it? Of course, it would be, seeing how awesome I am," declared Rainbow Dash, as full of herself as ever.
"Oh yes Dash, you really are amazing," happily giggled Fluttershy. "I know you're going to perform just wonderfully today."
"Thanks Fluttershy, I really appreciate the support."
"Of course. I'm just happy to be here for you." The two shared the warm smile that can only be shared by lifelong friends, followed by a hug.
"I'm glad I have somepony like you that I know will always be there to encourage me," expressed Rainbow Dash during their friendly embrace. "Even if your cheering sometimes- well, a lot of the time- leaves something to be desired. Like volume." Rainbow Dash tapped her chin as if she was in deep thought. "Yeah. Definitely volume." Fluttershy blushed as she was reminded of her particularly docile vocal chords.
Thinking back on the last thirty seconds, Rainbow Dash's face wore a somewhat confused expression. "Huh. That was really sappy. Can't say I know where that came from. Guess I'm just feeling sentimental today."
"Guess so," agreed Fluttershy.
"Oh well. Let's go Fluttershy, we've still got a few hours to hang out with the rest of the gang before the big show!"
After those few hours of relaxing, merriment, and a few last minute pep talks for Rainbow Dash, the aerial acrobat was in position to begin her big show. She heard the announcer's voice booming throughout the stadium, "Fillies and gentlecolts! On this fine day at the Best Flier's Exhibition, we present to you the crème de la crème of Equestria's up and coming fliers, the winner of the last Best Young Fliers competition, the pony known for performing the legendary Sonic Rainboom, the one, the only, Rainbow Dash!"
Not wasting any time, the rainbow pegasus dashed out into the middle of the stadium, and before one could say "Wow that mare's fast," Rainbow Dash had already ornately written her name in clouds above the stadium, her rainbow trail leaving the clouds with the appearance of being tie-dyed. The crowd cheered at the visual spectacle, pumping the pegasus up for the rest of her routine.
Over the course of next hour, Rainbow Dash made a clear showing of her vast skill, daring, and dexterity, in addition to her stunning speed. You could say that Princess Celestia's statement that Rainbow Dash was the greatest flier in Equestria was clearly vindicated that night. Flaming hoops proved no problem for the flier that night, nor did other simple obstacles such as land speed records or, in one trick's case, the record for fastest example of a backwards upside down loop-de-loop.
There were dangerous, high speed, ninety-degree-turn slaloms, extravagant loops, and more than one self-described monument to the awesomeness of Rainbow Dash constructed during the performance, and as a grand finale, Rainbow Dash performed the same trick she had demonstrated for Fluttershy, only this time at five times the scale. It was said that the brilliantly shining arcs of the rainbow lightning created that evening could be seen all the way from Canterlot. Of course, that was said by the attendees, who were too enraptured by the display to have much sense.
As the spectacle ended, cheering erupted throughout the stadium, and the elated performer took center stage and gave her audience a bow. "Thank you, thank you everypony. I'm glad you all could witness the awesomeness that is Rainbow Dash!" The cheering somehow became even louder.
After the stadium emptied, Rainbow Dash reunited with her friends, who were all celebrating the pegasus' most excellent performance.
"Oh wow Rainbow Dash! That was the most amazingly amazariffic thing I've ever seen!" enthused the ever excitable Pinkie Pie.
"Yes my dear, that was truly a spectacular show!" chimed in Rarity.
"I have to say, even I'm a bit impressed," chuckled Applejack. "Even though you did go a bit over the top talkin' about how awesome you are."
"Pfft, crowds love that kind of thing," scoffed Rainbow Dash. "Almost as much as I do," she added. At that, the six friends laughed, until Rainbow Dash stopped dead in her tracks, a horrified look on her face, completely silent. Fluttershy was the first to notice.
"What is it Rainbow? Is something wrong?" asked a now concerned Fluttershy. Remaining agape with silence, all Rainbow Dash could do was point at the large center coliseum where a team of fliers were wowing their crowd. A crowd larger than Rainbow Dash's.
"Somethin' wrong Sugarcube? Applejack inquired next.
Rainbow Dash began to stammer. "Bu... bu... bu..."
"What is it? Spit it out already."
"Look! I was supposed to be tonight's big attraction! And I thought the center coliseum was reserved for the big Wonderbolts performance tomorrow, not those amateurs!" That last word was hissed with particular contempt. "I'm better than all of those stinking Thunderheads combined!"
"The Thunderheads? Who are they?" asked Twilight.
"They're just a second-rate flying team that wishes they could be as good or as famous as the Wonderbolts. They're nothing special. But somehow, they got a bigger audience than I did tonight!" fumed Rainbow Dash.
"Is it really that big a deal?" Fluttershy asked.
"Yes! You of all ponies should know that this is totally a big deal to me! If I can't even get as big as those stupid Thunderheads, how the hay am I supposed to ever become a Wonderbolt?"
"Oh... I'm sorry Rainbow," whimpered Fluttershy.
"You're supposed to know these things Fluttershy. You're supposed to be there for me."
"But..." Fluttershy tried to think of anything she could say.
"Whatever. I'm heading to bed." Before another word could be said, Rainbow Dash was gone. A single tear slid down Fluttershy's face, as she felt she had just failed her oldest friend.
* * * * * * *
The next day, just before the big Wonderbolts show, Rainbow Dash was still nowhere to be found, even after her friends had spent all day searching for her. They had wanted to give her some space last night, but when they never saw her in the morning, they were rather alarmed.
"Ugh, sometimes I just can't stand that Rainbow Dash," the farmer pony began. "She loses it over the least important things, I swear. I still can't believe how she treated you, Fluttershy. But I can't be bothered to deal with her right now if she's gonna act this way. I say that if she doesn't show up in the next five minutes, we should just head to the show without her."
After an awkward silence of approximately just long that long, Applejack declared, "Well, I'm gonna go see that show. Any of y'all coming?" Instead of waiting for a response, Applejack marched off towards the coliseum. The rest of the five shrugged and followed, unsure of what else they could do.
As the five arrived, they were greeted by the largest gathering of ponies most of them had ever seen. Truly, this was the sporting event of the year. It took the group twenty minutes just to get to their seats. As they arrived, Fluttershy hoped to see Rainbow Dash there waiting for them, as the last thing Fluttershy could imagine Rainbow Dash doing was missing a Wonderbolts show. Alas, after the five had sat down, the sixth seat they had reserved remained empty, much to Fluttershy's distress and dismay.
"Are you sure one of us shouldn't go searching for Rainbow Dash?" the timid pony asked.
"If she's still moody enough that she won't even come to a Wonderbolts show, then I'm sorry to say she just ain't worth dealing with right now," replied Applejack.
"Okay..." sighed Fluttershy, sad that her best friend wasn't going to be here to see the show, but most of all she was sad that her friend was still hurting. The fact that it was so petty didn't matter to Fluttershy; she just wanted to see her friend happy again.
Shortly, the show began, and Rainbow Dash was still missing.
* * * * * * *
Twenty minutes later, a certain blue pegasus sat on a cloud overlooking the coliseum. 'Alright... this is it. I've only got one shot at this,' she thought. The mare took a deep breath. 'It's show time.' Suddenly, Rainbow Dash became nothing more than a blur, her speed truly unmatched. She had a show to put on.
Currently, the Wonderbolts were deftly assembling a cyclone that was shooting arcs of lightning far above the captivated audience. In an instant, it was gone, Rainbow Dash having blasted straight through it. This left the Wonderbolts momentarily confused, and gave Rainbow Dash the opportunity to steal their attention, as well as the attention of the packed-to-the-brim coliseum of ponies.
Just as she had done the night before, she started by flying down towards the audience and turning away from them at the last second before circling just above the entire crowd to give everypony a good look at just who was literally stealing the show. And, as a good portion of the crowd had in fact seen Rainbow Dash's own show, they started chanting her name, oblivious that this was a hostile takeover of the show. Soon, the entire stadium had followed suit, and the one cheering most loudly of all was none other than Fluttershy.
Next came the Super-Speed Strut. That particular performance of that trick set a land speed record that would never be toppled. It was so fast that the ground inexplicably caught onto rainbow-colored fire, which Rainbow Dash promptly took advantage of by writing her name in the middle of the field with the spectacular rainbow flames.
Rainbow Dash knew she didn't have much time; she could already hear the guard ponies coming after her. Not that she would let them catch her, of course. Wasting not a millisecond, she launched herself into the trick that was her finale from the night before, this time still even more impressive. Of course, that wasn't enough for Rainbow Dash. She still had a couple of similarly amazing tricks up her sleeves. Without further ado, she performed the Buccaneer Blaze, a trick which she later admitted she had always talked about but never performed until that day. Suffice it to say that it was one of the most marvelous feats that could ever be witnessed by pony eyes. Just as Rainbow Dash had imagined, it was enough to drop even the Wonderbolts' jaws.
Flying straight up, she prepared herself for the trick of legend that only she could preform: the Sonic Rainboom. The guards still trying to get their hooves on her for interrupting the single most high profile airshow in all of Equestria were shortly left in the dust. Having reached the necessary altitude, Dash began her plummet towards the ground below.
Her approach to the sound barrier was almost as fast as the actual speed she was approaching. With nary a second to spare, the guards that had been previously chasing Rainbow Dash dodged out of the way lest they be victims of the fastest missile ponykind would ever know, then were spun temporarily out of control by the gust of wind said missile brought with her.
In a glorious instant in time, Rainbow Dash broke the sound barrier. The brilliant rainbow explosion spread across the sky for miles and miles within a few short seconds. Then, as suddenly as she had appeared, Rainbow Dash was gone, leaving only her rainbows spread all across the sky.
* * * * * * *
An hour and a half later the five friends who were spectators to the big show returned to camp, and to their pleasure and surprise they found Rainbow Dash happily waiting for them.
As soon as the group entered speaking distance, she started to explain herself, "Hey guys. Before you say anything, yeah I know that was a pretty stupid stunt to pull off, but I just kinda had to do it, you know? That's also why I disappeared, I wanted to practice some more so I'd be at my peak, but I knew you'd try to stop me." She turned to Fluttershy. "And most of all, I'm sorry I yelled at you last night. I promise I didn't mean it. I hope you can forgive me."
"Of course I do Rainbow." Fluttershy smiled and locked her friend into a bear hug, to put it mildly. It appeared to be rather painful for the cyan pegasus.
"Tha-urk-nks, but you're... augh- kinda... choking... meee..." wheezed Rainbow Dash, until Fluttershy finally realized what she was doing and let go, letting Dash loudly inhale.
"Oh, I'm so sorry! I was just really worried about you," profusely apologized the meek pony.
"You're always worried about something," teased Rainbow Dash, who let out a chuckle. Fluttershy blushed but found herself giggling, too.
Rainbow Dash got back onto her feet and faced the rest of her friends. "I'm really sorry I acted like such a jerk last night guys. I know that that and today's stunt was just stupid and immature, but I just couldn't help myself."
To the surprise of the others, Applejack was the first to accept Dash's apology. "'S'alright Rainbow Dash," said Applejack. "I think I know how you were feelin'."
"Don't worry, we all forgive you," chimed in Twilight, leading to nods from the others. "Though I have to ask, how did you come to that conclusion yourself? I mean, we didn't have to lecture you or anything!"
"Well, it's not like I just fell asleep the instant I stormed off. I felt bad. I thought about it long and hard, and I knew I was overreacting to something stupid," responded Dash.
"Well then, why did you disappear and overtake the Wonderbolt's performance?" asked Twilight, who was honestly curious, being a creature of logic (for the most part).
"That's just it, now matter how much I thought about it and knew it was dumb and even uncool of me to do what I did, my pride hurt too much for me to not do something." Rainbow Dash slumped to the ground ashamed, with head held low. She muttered, "Dumb Thunderheads."
"Huh," was Twilight's only response.
"I hear ya Rainbow. I'm not too different from you in that regard," interjected Applejack. "Sometimes ponies like us'll act plum stupid if we feel we find ourselves in a situation where we think our honor's taken a blow."
"Yeah," concurred the rainbow pegasus.
Simultaneously the six's heads turned when they heard another group of three approaching them from the sky. "Hey, I think that's them down there!" one of them said, leading them to promptly land right before the band of friends.
Rainbow Dash's face became a mixture of embarrassment and dismay. "Oh, uh, hey Spitfire. Soarin. Echo." The blue pegasus was trying to shrink to as small a size as she could short of curling into a ball, and she was hoping to perform that feat as subtly as possible. While she did avoid curling into a ball, the process was not particularly subtle.
"Hey kid," came the smooth voice of Spitfire.
Soarin interrupted before Spitfire could begin. "Those were some really awesome moves!"
Instantly, Rainbow Dash perked up, and she held herself in her usual dignified manner, asking, "Really?"
Spitfire took the position of mouthpiece for the members of the star flying team. "Yeah, totally! Every time I see you fly, I'm impressed," Rainbow Dash's regard for cool dignity vanished at this point. She was bouncing around like an excited schoolfilly.
"But," Spitfire continued,"Crashing our show? That was kinda uncool."
Immediately, the process of Dash going from embarrassed to excited reversed. Resisting the urge to hide her face under her hooves, she mumbled, "Yeah... that was uncool of me. I'm really, really, really sorry."
"Alright then, why'd you do it?"
"Because when I saw I wasn't the biggest show last night, I freaked out, and my pride took a hard hit. It was dumb, but I did what I felt I had to do to get over it: perform for the biggest audience at the exhibition, even if just for a minute."
A deep sense of dread came over Rainbow Dash. She continued, "I guess this means I'm not fit to be a Wonderbolt, 'cause there's no way you'll think I'll be a team player willing to share the spotlight after that." At this point, the cyan pegasus could bear her shame in front of her idols no longer and so gave into the urge to hide her face.
"Hey, I never said that," replied Spitfire.
"Huh?" Dash wondered aloud, promptly uncovering her face.
"Sure kid, you did a dumb thing, but so do all of us at one point or another. The important thing is you realized your mistake," said Spitfire.
Rainbow Dash tentatively began the process of standing upright. "Really? So does this mean I can be a Wonderbolt after all?"
"You'll be a Wonderbolt no doubt, but not yet. Shame really, we were going to send you an invitation to try out after your performance last night. A try out that would have been really just a formality, as it's clear you have the skills to pass the test. But..."
"Awww..." moaned Dash, realizing that she had blown it, at least temporarily.
"...After your stunt today," Spitfire resumed,"We decided that you probably weren't quite ready to really be comfortable in a team setting. That said, what you did was pretty awesome. And hey, keep working at it, and maybe just grow up a little bit," Spitfire chuckled, "And you'll be a Wonderbolt in no time." Spitfire gave Rainbow Dash a warm, genuine smile.
"Thanks, Spitfire," the light blue pegasus smiled back.
"Well kid, we gotta go. Catch you later!" The three Wonderbolts waved goodbye as they flew off into the sunset.
"See ya later!" called Rainbow Dash to her idols. She turned back to her friends, and said, "Come on, let's go home. I've got a letter to write."
* * * * * * *
Dear Princess Celestia,
This weekend I learned that even though we know we shouldn't do something, it can still be very hard to resist doing it anyway. In my case, because of my pride, which just recently got me into a pretty embarrassing situation. Heh, you probably heard about that. However, we still need to try our hardest to make the right choice, and either way, we should still learn from our experiences to make ourselves the best we can be, always striving to learn and grow.