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Horse Feathers! (Attn: Steel)

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Frost crunched under hoof as the Princess of Friendship made her way toward the clearing on the outskirts of Ponyville. She muttered to herself as she went, going over notes in her head. Though she carried a huge tome on the subject of offensive flight tactics in her saddle bag the purple mare could pretty much remember everything without having to crack it open. She paused mid step, causing her number one assistant to bump into her from behind.

 

"Oof!" Spike snorted a laugh. "You can remember pretty much every detail in that book but you can't let me know when you're gonna stop trotting?" He rubbed his head spikes in mock injury. "I mean come on Twilight! You could pretty much beat anypony singlehoofed with your magic! Don't you think your flying is good enough knowing that?"

 

"Spike don't be silly!" She gave the dragon a wry smile. "And don't distract me! You're here to keep an eye on things in case something goes wrong, remember?" Her horn lit up a little as she went through the words and motions for particular fighting spells. "I need to be prepared. You never know what might happen! I mean with the recent attack at the school, and Tirek begin active again..." She sighed. "I have to be trained to keep Ponyville safe!"

 

Twi had recently taken it on herself to be more than proficient in offensive flight magic technique. The magic was no problem at all...the flight? Well, she'd come a long way but she was far from the best. Today she would practice. And the next day, and the next day and the next... until she was the best! At least that's what she had in mind.

 

"Ok ok..." Spike flexed his new wings. "Your number one winged assistant's ready to...assistant yep!" 

 

Soon they were at the open field. Twi took to the air, hovering as she worked out her plan. "I need to be able to evade shots of magic and fire back. I'm going to practice the double roll and blast move for a bit," 

 

She spoke more to herself than Spike as she climbed higher. Her mind worked furiously, going over the details of the movements and the magic needed for the move.

 

"Here we go!"

 

She dove, trying her best to keep the roll tight. It went fairly well, but her magic shot missed her mark by a long margin.

 

"That's why I'm out here... practice!" Twi was going to keep at it until she trained herself. She never had been good at asking for help...

 

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Rainbow couldn't help but love days like this. She was always busy, always doing something- maybe not as much as others but she was a pony who had a busy schedule. Being in the Wonderbolts was time consuming and hard work! The practice alone was enough to make some ponies blush. Hour after hour, day after day, precise formation flight training demanded moment to moment concentration and the greatest of athletic ability. Any mistake and it didn't just come down on you, you could hurt others. So much training was invested that it almost made the shows she participated in seem like small potatoes. At least once a week she would perform in front of large, adoring crowds and then spend hours mingling, sometimes more than once a week. But it was still a lot of work, not to mention all the time she spent practicing her own moves and generally being awesome around town.

 

It wasn't easy being the greatest pony in Equestria, after all.
Which is why she loved days where she could just relax, which is exactly what she had blocked most of this day off for. She was laying on a cloud, lazily directing it as it moved around Ponyville. On top of the cloud she lay with her back legs crossed over and tapping, her tail hanging off just slightly. A drink in one hoof and a stack of cloud-covered books next to the other, she was set and ready to enjoy the glorious freedom the day offered. She was enjoying it so much that she didn't really keep track of where the cloud was going and didn't know it had drifted away from Ponyville and over an open field nearby. "This is the life..." She said, reaching for her drink...

 

Which was vaporized by a magic blast. "Yeoahhh!" Rainbow yelped loudly as she rolled off of her cloud and fell a few feet before catching herself and started to hover. "What in the...Twilight?" She said incredulously as she looked at the Princess in the not-so-distant testing spot. Rainbow's eyes furrowed as she flew over, holding the remains of her drink in one hoof.

"Hey, Twilight! If you didn't want me to have any orange juice you could have told me instead of vaporizing it!" She said, her voie equal parts trying to make light of what just happened and angry. "Why are you firing off magic blasts anyway?"

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Twi flapped her wings slowly as she hovered in place. Her mind worked furiously over the move and the subsequent magic blast. 

 

"Well, the roll went ok but..." Her eyes traveled to the spot when her magic had fired and went wide. "Oh no!" She flew forward as Rainbow Dash approached.

 

"Twilight! I think you just took a shot at..." A glance from the princess silenced the dragon for the moment. He took to the air and hovered nearby as the ponies met on the wing.

 

"Rainbow Dash! Ha haaaaa...." A small laugh died on her muzzle as she looked at what remained of the refreshing beverage in RD's hoof. It still had a trail of smoke coming off of it and everything. "I'm so sorry Rainbow," She felt herself blush a bit. She was going to have to explain her mistake, Twi hated making mistakes. She way as always, way too hard on herself. "I didn't realized you were up there," She nodded towards the clouds where her errant blast had gone.

 

"And my shot was way off," She sighed. "Because I'm not that great at this yet. It's one thing to be the Princess of Friendship, it's another to have to protect Equestria..." She wasn't going to go into all the details right now.

 

"Anyway, I'm so sorry Rainbow about frying your drink..." She glanced down for a moment and sucked in a small breath. "D-do you think you could help me with my flying?"

 

Twi had always been intimidated by Rainbow's flight prowess, and well...there was just something about the sky blue mare...

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Twilight seemed to be taking this whole failure thing hard. She could respect that. She hated to fail too. Failure meant that you just weren't good enough. Of course within each failure was the germ of future success. Keep on working hard, keep on working better, and you could easily surpass any challenge. It didn't hurt that she was pretty much the greatest flier to ever live. Twilight was a pretty amazing mare herself who was capable of feats that made Rainbow's mind boggle. The fact she had failed this wasn't an indictment or nothing. She didn't have a lifetime of flying experience and wing control to really fall back on when it came to the small things, let alone when it came to combat flying. That was a whole other set of problems for even experienced pegasi. It only ever made sense that you'd fail at first before starting to succeed at something so difficult.

 

It was then that she asked Rainbow to help teach her how to fly. Well duh, of course she'd help! Not that she could really help Twilight with what she likely really needed, which was to calm down and not worry so much. There were other major concerns, of course. Rainbow feigned indifference at first. "Well, I don't know. I was going to relax and nap and have a beautiful drink but somepony destroyed all that. If we can get something to replace that..." she then smiled and winked at Twilight, "then I'd TOTALLY be down with helping you out! The best flight instructor in all of Equestria. Bet you don't even know what a half corkscrew dive slap is, don't you? I'll help you learn it...after a drink," she said as she started to lazily hover away as if she was laying down, laying out horizontally as her wings pushed her away.

"Why the sudden urge to fly around and start blasting stuff with your horn? Just get AJ and I some combat training. Boom bow pow, you know I can lay it on petty thick and tough, right?"

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Twi's expression was decidedly bummed out as Rainbow began to decline her request for help. But then she let a half smile take over. Over course RD would decide to help! She was just playing around like she so often tended to do. In fact, she tricked Twi quite often because she so easily trusted her friends and believed the things they told her.Nope! Rainbow wasn't getting away with that this time!

 

Then, before she could comment the cyan mare changed her tone and became more than willing to help... but not before pressing the idea of having a drink together first. Twi's stomach tightened for a moment. Why would Dash want to have drinks first? They did hang out fairly often as friends but usually at least one of their other friends was with them. 

 

"Half slap...huh?" Spike intruded, trying to figure out what Rainbow was talking about.

 

"Spike! She said a half corkscrew dive...slap? Um..." She trailed off, having absolutely no idea what that was. 

 

She wasn't sure how much to open up to Rainbow. She wanted to, she just had a reservation about letting anypony in on her feelings. Twi didn't like the idea of others knowing she was weak, or worried, or incapable... well she had been all of those things and all of those things in front of Rainbow before. There was just something now. This feeling she couldn't quite place as she watched Dash floating lightly on her back in the air.

 

"Spike?" She called her assistant over. "Could you please take these," She nodded to the huge book of spells and the smaller one on flight tactics that were laying on the grass nearby. "Back to the castle please?"

 

The dragon complied, hurrying off with the books in his arms. "No problem Twilight!" He wobbled slightly with the heavy load. 

 

Twilight smiled a bit coyly to Dash. "Soooo, where did you want to go for a drink Miss Dash?"

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Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes, though she smiled while doing so. Leave it to a bunch of eggheads to not understand cool flight moves, even as they had wings and were trying to become better flyers. "Ha, knew I was right! You know a lot about everything but not enough about flying. That's why I can help you! But first," she said as she flew up, finding a nearby pond. Like she was gonna tell them about a move she was pretty sure they didn't know about and not then show them. Why else would she tell them about it in the first place?! She was soon in prime position for the first part of the move. She dove down quite fast and tipped down, slapping the water with her outstretched wing.

 

The momentum caused a small wave to start heading to the shore, but she was already back up in the air as she flew in a loop. Soon she was making her way back down towards the water while corkscrewing in the air. This movement gained her even more speed. Rainbow then did a ninety-degree turn and flew right above the water on her side, her right wing in the water and slicing through it. Soon she was splitting the wave she had caused even as it raced towards the shore, and came flying out of the wave just as it reached the shore. She was pointing directly at Twilight and only another sharp turn up prevented a crash.

 

The wave had been bisected and as it crashed into the shore the area around Spike and Twilight was kept completely dry, the cut in the wave having been line in line with them. Rainbow flicked her wing, the only part of her that was wet, free and clear of the water as she came down a soft landing next to Twilight and Spike. "And THAT is the half-corkscrew dive slap. Or cut. I think it should be cut, but what do I know? I'm just the best trick flyer in all of Equestria," Rainbow said, her face in no small way full of confidence after the execution of that maneuver. "Later, Spike," she said, waving her wing at him as she took her spot next to Twilight.

 

"Well, really, all I want is some juice to replace the juice you blew up or vaporized or whatever happened, so any place will do. Then, back to flying. Just a warning, I won't go easy on you," she said with a boop to Twilight's nose and a wink.

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Twi was impressed with Rainbow's moves. She was always impressed really... not that she was just going to say so to the pegasus. Nope. Rainbow would really have to work for her praise. Twilight enjoyed playing her little games with RD and she suspected Rainbow liked it to. She blew out a little breath as the mare finished her acrobatic flight.

 

"Whew!" The waves receded around the pair. "That was close! I thought you were going to pay me back for frying your drink by dousing me!"

 

She winked and gave a half smile. "I would have been really impressed if you'd managed to stay completely dry," She giggled. "You'd have to be one amazing teacher to teach me to do that!" 

 

Soon the two were on their way to a juice shop nearby. Twilight found herself quite interested in Rainbow as she always seemed to. All around ponies gave their hellos to the Princess but Twi's attention was focused only on one. 

 

As they took their seats at the juice bar Twi tried some small talk.

 

"So..." She blew her forelocks away from her eyes. "How's life with the Bolts been treating you Dash?"

 

Why did she always find herself so awkward and tongue tied around Rainbow? 

 

 

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Psssh, staying completely dry? That would require some pretty gnarly physics trickery. She'd have to be moving fast enough to cause a sonic rainboom or close to it to create the sort of force to part the water before contact, and any small mistake or miscalculation could result in a very serious accident. Breaking a wing would be the least of her concerns, assuming they found it. Of course it was par for the course for Twilight. The rest of Rainbow's friends seemed to take the awesome, awe-inspiring, and incredible acts of athletic dazzlement that traded in at face value. She did something otherworldly and was rewarded with the requisite exclamations and gasps. It was a like pony powered power source that powered ponies perpetually practicing precarious patterns. But Twilight? She didn't let on if she was impressed. As if she could do better! Probably knew she couldn't, and she was a supportive sort naturally. So why didn't she go all out? It sometimes drove Rainbow mad and she didn't know why. Not that she let it show, she was too cool to let it show.

 

Ponies said hi to the famous pair as they walked by. Dash enjoyed the attention, fired back a few greetings, gave an autograph even. She never understood why Twilight didn't get more attention, though. Maybe she was so demure and nonchalant that Equestrians forgot she had quite literally saved their lives a dozen times over, not to mention was a Princess. Rainbow Dash was a Wonderbolt. The Wonderbolts were the second most amazing thing that Equestria ever developed. The first? Princesses. And there was a Princess right there, and yet everypony who wanted a little attention seemed to want Rainbow Dash. Twilight didn't seem to mind. Rainbow always chalked it up to what seemed to be an endless well of humbleness that she projected. Ponies just felt bad about approaching her and she was just such a good friend that she only had eyes for her friend. All in all, no serious complaints could be lodged against the irrefutable logic found there!
 

In time they found themselves at the juice bar. While Twilight prepared to make awkward small talk after blowing away the distractions that were nefariously placed bangs, Rainbow got comfortable, laying almost sidewise in the chair with leg and tail propped off of the foreleg rest and sprawled against the rest of it in a casual manner. Twilight for her share of the casual nature of this gathering made an effective effort to be coy as she spoke, asking her athletic friend how her job was going. It was an easy entrance into the world of small talk but not one Rainbow was unprepared to exult in with all the passion that was her birthright. There were few things she loved more than to discuss her successes, after all. "Really good, actually. We're performing at a high level as a team now, our formations are efficient and tight, our moves are crisp and clear. We haven't had a bad accident in some time and even the small ones can be tossed down to pegasus error rather than team flaws," she spoke indulgently of her grandeur, a sense of amoure propre thickly dribbling off of her. 
 

"We have a tour in The Strand coming up to commemorate city founding ceremonies across the region. Manehattan, Fillydelpha, Baltimare, and Mustangia in the same week. We've got some really exciting formations and move to show off, super different than the shows we ran there earlier in the year," Rainbow said with unbridled enthusiasm exploding off of her and lighting the air around her on fire with the possibilities inherent when excellence met execution. But this wasn't all about her. It was also about juice. A waiter came by to take their orders. "Orange juice, please. And hold the horn-lasers."

Never forget....forgive easily, however!

"So, what's been the haps in the wild wild world of nation management and Princess tea parties?"

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She listened intently as Rainbow rattled off the expected list of achievements and upcoming events. The Princess was super proud to have Rainbow as a friend and as always she was really impressed with the happening in the wide world of Wonderbolts!

 

"Wow! That sounds amazing Rainbow! A lot of work but amazing!"

 

The waiter appeared soon after this and she cut off her deluge of accolades so they could order. 

 

The Princess couldn't hold back the blush that lit up her cheeks as Rainbow mentioned horn lasers with her order.

 

"Heh heh..." She gave her signature uncomfortable chuckle and bumped the pegasus' elbow lightly. "No idea what you're talking about Rainbow Dash," She glanced at the menu and then up at the waiter. "I'll take a blended carrot smoothie please."

 

Twi easily noticed how they seemed to be a magnet of attention to everypony, including their waiter. He nodded and bobbed his head while quickly retreating to the kitchen to put the order in. Of course she was more than used to behavior like this by now. Everywhere she and her friends went they got a similar reception.

 

She sighed and instead of giving the regular small talk answers for princess life she softly asked a question. "Rainbow?" She reached for a napkin and absentmindedly began to fold it in front of her with her magic. "You ever wish we could have had a few more days like it was years ago? You know before all of this," She waved her hoof in a circle. "When we were all just friends and didn't have so much resting on our withers?"

 

The Princess wondered even as she asked if she should have let the question slip. It was something he had been mulling over for quite some time and hadn't spoken of it to anypony, not even Spike.

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Rainbow had to have a few seconds to herself to really ponder Twi's question. Did she have any real desire to go back to the past? It was quiet. They could just fool around all day and play in the sun, have picnics, and daydream about the future. But those daydreams were about the future they were now living, at least for Rainbow Dash. She sometimes could imagine going back to the past and just lounging around. Being able to relax with her friends had a lot of charm to it. A lot of good times. But would she ever want to fall back into that? She didn't know. She didn't think so. Rainbow Dash shrugged as she looked up at the sky and smiled. "Hmm...well, sometimes. Being able to relax more would be cool, sure. I'd love to be able to just hang out some more. But I wouldn't trade what I'm doing now for anything. All those dreams I day dreamed I was dreaming about the day I'd become a Wonderbolt. I'm living my best life, thats for sure," she laughed and looked at Twilight, smiling broadly.

"And you? Bookish little Sparkle hanging out in her library all day or Princess Twilight-" she said, a wing flying over her head to muss her mane to mimic Twilight's, and she did her best impression, "-spreading the light of friendship to everycreature in the world!" She allowed the impression to end, and then laughed. "I like both versions, Twi. I wouldn't want to go back to the past not because I don't think it'd be nice to just relax, but because we're young, we're awesome, and we've got a lot to look forward to. Besides, we still find time to sit down and relax and just hang with one another, right?" She asked, more than apply with the way her life turned out. Was Twilight? A Princess had a thousand and five responsibilities and Rainbow, for all of her activity, didn't have the weight of a nation on her shoulders. Must have weighed her down, even with her strong shoulders.

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Twi's stomach dropped a bit as Rainbow exclaimed about how happy she was with her current life. It wasn't like Twilight wasn't...happy? Wellllll, maybe happy was pushing it just a bit. She was...she was... how did she actually feel? She wasn;t sure. She was so busy! There were SO many responsibilities and half the time she felt her head would fall off her shoulders if she didn't have Spike there to help manage her affairs. 

 

She supposed she wanted things somewhere in the middle. The charm of her library definitely had it's charm and she would love a few more days there, pouring over books with the golden sunlight lancing in. Sparkling dust motes flitting about as she turned page after page of wisdom, stories, fact, and lore. But, then again there were mountains of books in the castle library had she the time to go and sit down with them.

 

The mare felt a pang of sadness flow through her. Dash was so happy, so content. She could tell the cyan mare had met the goals for her life already and now she could make new dreams on top of that! Twis dream as of late was just to have time to relax for a few minutes and to...have fun with her friend. Oh! Well, that was what she had managed for today! Her feelings changed as she mentally patted herself on the back. It wasn't that bad! She helped tons of ponies, got to spend time protecting the empire, it was all really cool actually.

 

As Rainbow imitated her she could hardly stifle the laugh that came to her muzzle. 

 

"Oh come on Rainbow! I'm not that bad!" She laughed. "Ok, yeah, I am that bad," Her muzzle lifted in a wry half smile. "And yeah I'm good with the life I have now of course I just wish I had more time to spend with you and the other fillies,"

 

Her juice arrived the she took a sip. It was good! She took another sip. She really admired Rainbow Dash. She always had. Her zest for life was contagious that was for sure. In fact, even being around the pegasus rejuvenated her! It was a happy accident that she had zapped the mare's drink...and lucky of course it had been only the drink.

 

She took another sip of her smoothie, her eyes resting on the athletic mare next to her. Rainbow was special for sure. A good friend, a great encouragement, and nice to look at...

 

"Oh," She caught herself staring for too long and switched her gaze to the fruit in a display in front of her at the bar. "So, I'm umm, really excited to get your pointers for in flight combat! I need the practice for sure!"

 

Yep that was smoooooth...

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