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Howdy, welcome to my thread! Here I have the pony and non-pony versions of some of my writings. A larger list of my stuff (including some poems) are on my Deviant Art page. My pony-only stories also can be found on my FIMfiction page. There are a few things I need to update my DA page with.

Comments, suggestions, and critiques always welcome! I can also do requests. Enjoy!

Non-pony:

Phoenix Order

The Beginning:

Arion smiled, another successful robbery. He gazed upon the caravan, its wheels studded in gold and gems. The wood finely polished and well kept. A rather wonderful target. He stepped over a few bodies, their blood on Arion’s sharp dagger. Hmm, what wonderful loot have I gained today, he thought. Some lovely rings I hope.

The wood did not even creak as Arion hopped onto the caravan and went to open the door. What he saw surprised him, but only for a second. A beautiful young woman sat on the bench inside, quivering from fear. She stuttered as she spoke, “Wha-what do you want? Where is my family?” Arion smiled again, “Dead, all dead.” The girl’s eyes widened, their blue tint seeming to lose its color. “And as for you, young lady. You will join them shortly.” Continued Arion. “Please, Please spare me! If it’s the gold you want, take it all, just spare me!” Arion stood motionless for a moment, and then drew his dagger closer to the girl. She continued to beg, “Please! I know where more gold is, my family was rich, let me show you! Please!” Again, Arion stood still, seeming to contemplate the offer. Then he spoke, “No, this will be more fun.”

The blade of the dagger, still warm from bathing in its previous victims, slid past the woman’s throat, slicing flesh as it did so. The woman let out a high, piercing scream that shook the caravan and the trees around it. The scream was silenced and turned into a bloody bubbling noise as the dagger worked its way deeper. Slowly, her eyes became dull, the life flowing forever away from the body.

Arion took in a deep breath. “Ahhhh, that was fun! Now to plunder, how exciting!” He grabbed a leather bag from his pack and started filling it with gems and gold. He started picking off the gems off the wheel then soon turned to the bodies, taking off necklaces, pulling the rings off dead fingers, nothing was sacred.

Eventually he went back inside the carriage, to see what the girl had. Wrapped up in cloth, the girl held something to her chest, even at her last moments of life. Arion curiously unwrapped the cloth, seeing bits of blue and white in the process. Finally, the entire object was uncovered. It was a very large egg, pure white with a very light blue shine. I bet this fetches a lovely price at the market. He placed it carefully into his pouch.

----

Arion continued his life, killing surprised passersby and looting all they had. Sometimes simply for the thrill of the kill, other times for the gold. Every few days he took out the egg, why he kept it he didn’t know. It intrigued him, for every day the egg had a slightly deeper blue shine to it. One day he brought it to an old woman who was said to know much about the world and its secrets. Through a deeply wrinkled face she uttered, “This is a precious egg indeed. It is of a very rare and magical creature said to be long extinct. Keep it safe.”

He knows he could get a very high price for such an egg. Arion has even been to the market several times with the intention of selling it, but for some reason he always felt the urge to keep it with him.

----

It was a rather nice day. The sun was out, a slight cool breeze whispered through the trees, no rain or clouds in sight. Arion stopped looking at the clear, blue sky and turned his attention back to the matter at hand. He was wandering through the forest and encountered a few folks taking a stroll earlier. After toying with them for some time he finally used his dagger, killing them one by one. In one he drew some symbols on while the man was alive, screaming the entire time. On a second man he slowly removed the fingernails off, causing extreme pain to the victim. But in the end, all five wanderers were eventually killed and Arion decided to enjoy the weather.

Now that was done, Arion gathered up their stuff and resumed walking through the forest. He removed the egg from his pack to take a look at it. Today it was pure blue with a white shine. Interesting. The egg was slightly warm and continued to get warmer. Arion’s eyes widened as the egg began to pulse a white glow. Minutes later, the egg was scorching hot as Arion threw it to the ground, but it did not break.

The egg began to crack, whatever was inside it emerging. The creature stood on two sharp, white talons. The legs white and light blue, strong and elegant. As it emerged from the egg, it began to slowly grow, spreading its wings wide. It continued to grow, its majestic body covered in blue and white flaming feathers. It stopped growing, now about twice the size of Arion. The flaming bird looked down at the man with its dark blue eyes, eyes that held the intelligence and wisdom beyond the ages. Without moving its beak, the bird spoke with a voice that was smooth and dangerous. “I am the White Phoenix, here to cleanse this world of its evil and putrid taint. You are an evil man, but you will be cleansed with my Holy Fire and become my vassal to spread my flame throughout the lands. Every living being will burn in my Flame and turn to ashes, but amid this state of death I shall bring you back, Reborn to this world pure and ready to spread my Fire. In this, it will be so. In this, we will live. In this, we will BURN!”

Arion finally gained control of his body over the fear and began to run. The White Phoenix spread its wings out wide and swallowed Arion whole, the man’s screaming instantly quelled. The Phoenix began to burn more intense, the light alone catching fire to some nearby bushes. The flames rose so far and wide from the mythical bird, that it was just one large ball of white and blue fire. Suddenly the flames went out, only a large pile of ash to be seen.

Slowly, the ashes moved as a man emerged. The man was naked amid the ashes and resembled Arion, but his skin was pure white and hair pale silver. His eyes were deep blue and seemed to burn with an intense inner flame. The Phoenix Order has begun, let the purification begin.

Memento Mori

Novus ordo saeculorum (A New Order of Ages)

It is a time where raw emotions run free. Greed, jealousy, destruction, war, and other heinous deeds run rampant. These are the Dark Ages, no one is safe. The Earth is the neutral side during these dark times, it makes no difference who or what you are, and it bears its fruit and provides for all. But Greed is too great, the races consume and hoard all they can, they harvest the Earth carelessly, caring not what happens. The rivers and oceans sink lower, the plants grow sparse, the animals dying, and minerals are mined. No allowance is made for the effect on the kind Earth. Time for passive providence is over

Natura in minima maxima (Nature is the Greatest in the Smallest Things)

Humankind takes from the Earth, farming, harvesting, reaping ... never giving back, never helping, never aiding. In exchange, the Earth asks for one thing: your Life. For if you were not kind enough to respect the Earth, it will remove the one true gift you ignore, the essence of Life. It will drain from you like the water you siphon from the rivers and lakes. Your sanity will be mined like the rare metals ripped from the ground. Slowly, the Earth will drink of you as you so carelessly drink from it. There will be balance, and all will be avenged, for even the great men must have a time.

A posse ad esse (From Possibility to Actuality)

A small band of warriors fight together for the will of the Earth, protecting it and in turn Earth protecting them. Many liars and fakes exist in the world and many who are not strong willed, and as such, the Earth chooses its advocates with great prejudice. The group of fighters relies not on an army of warriors, but instead on skill and cunning tactics. The enemies are many, but the group is strong. They are a family, helping each other to survive, willing to sacrifice themselves for the cause. Resurgam (I will rise again). Only in teamwork and willingness to assist each other at any cost can the great numbers of the enemies be quelled.

De inimico non loquaris sed cogites (Don't Wish Ill for your Enemy, Plan it)

The fat, bulbous man slowly waddled toward his meeting room. Thoughts of treasure and loot floated through his mind, excited about tomorrow’s plans. He slowly made his way to a chair and strained himself to sit onto it, his fat self getting in the way of any form of grace. Nervously, a servant came up, “My Lord, we have the war plans for tomorrow here for your review.” The Lord replied bluntly, “I do not care what the plan is, I simply want the rare jewels in that city!” The War Strategist was sitting comfortably in a chair on the other side of the table. “Sir, it is indeed possible to acquire those jewels, however the city is heavily defended and a lot of our troops will die in the process. As your Strategist, it is my job to tell you that is waste of resou—“.“Silence!” Boomed the Lord, “I want those jewels no matter the cost! It is your job to get it done, so see to it. Or maybe you rather see how life is without a head?” The Strategist gave a small sigh, “No my Lord, I will see to it that the job will be successful.” A small smile crept onto the Lord’s face, looking hideous on his fat, greasy complex. “Good, let us make way to the feast then, shall we? To celebrate tomorrow’s victory.”

The Lord slowly walked to the main room in his mansion. The room was large, three massive tables lined up for the feast in the center. A ballroom floor was set up in the west wing, and various objects and games located in the east wing. Despite the hunger issue that the Lord’s kingdom was having, his feast included almost every food imaginable, from turkey, chicken, and lamb, to crocodile, kangaroo, snake, duck, and much more. The Lord ate well while the Kingdom suffered.

The Lord and all his many guests took a seat in one of the chairs. As the Lord began to stand, a servant called out: “And now, our most generous and gracious Lordship of all the land shall speak!” The Lord cleared his throat, which sounded like a minor carriage wreck, before he began to speak. “Welcome my friends! I have invited you all here today to share in an exquisite feast. Not just any feast, however! A feast of celebration, a celebration of my glory and triumph! Tomorrow a battle will take place to win over some very precious jewels, and I will be victorious! For twenty years now I have ruled over you, and for those twenty years the kingdom has been prosperous from my excellent and kind leadership! Expect me to be around much longer my friends, for I shall always be the ruler of these lands, here to lead you to victory over and over again, I will always be victorious and never will I die. I am your great and powerf—“

The Lord’s speech was interrupted as a dagger was planted into his heart, its blood-stained metal tip pointing out of the Lord’s chest. The Lord spun around and found no one behind him, not even one person. The Lord gurgled blood and spit from his mouth and fell face first upon the cold floor.

In the last fading moments of his life, the Lord heard something in his ear …

Not as a yell, or a shout, or a declaration, but as a soft sweet whisper that floats on the wind. Soft as death’s gentle touch and as firm as his grip. A soft whisper, but it echoes clearly ...

Memento Mori.”

(Remember your mortality)

A New Beginning, An Old End

Link for saving space:

A Long Road to Understanding

The wind felt good against my skin, even if it felt warm. Anything to help ease the desert heat in this run-down town. I look over the dashboard of my nondescript car and gaze at the dull black paint slowly peeling away, scraps fluttering in the breeze. I mindlessly stare at the bland, black road ahead of me as I drive, the ripple effect from the heat playing tricks upon my eyes. I snap out of the drifting thoughts and refocus at the job on hand.

I got the call several minutes ago, an assignment that makes my heart race. After years of training this is the first time my superiors wanted me to kill a man. They sent me pictures: several men, heavily armed, eyes blood-shot, multiple scars and healed puncture wounds in the arm, desperate. A young women, daughter of a senator, tied down and afraid. A hostage situation. My job: sniper support.

My thoughts are steady, but my heart races on as I pull into the area and get ready. I report to the officer in charge and then take my place, a small roof of a nearby building. With meticulous care, I set up my equipment then wait for a command.

Time passes and the hostage situation intensifies. I look through my sniper scope, waiting for the order. Suddenly, a glint reflects into my eyes; a gun is pulled. The orders to kill are sounded and a gunshot rings out.

I stand, frozen in shock, cold sweat pouring from my body despite the intense heat around me. Flashbacks of the last few minutes speed through my mind, demanding release. My gun was aimed at his head, well what used to be his head. My sniper scope was adjusted, wind speed and angle gauged, target acquired, orders ready. I hate what I had to do, but it comes with the job. My special operations badge burned in my pocket as I waited for one false move from my target. The badge reminds me of who I am, why I am here: to protect those in need. The badge kept me in line.

Still, no matter how much they teach you in training, no matter what you hear, killing another human is something that will shock you, similar to what I feel now. My hand was poised, ready to strike on a moment’s notice. My hand lay steady on the hair-trigger despite my struggle inside me. And yet he is dead, shot to the head by a gun.

The act of killing someone seems easy. Pull trigger, boom, dead, over. Easy, unless you think of the situation: a person’s life is at stake. Taking it away is an act completely unchangeable; there is no going back, no “redos”. The essence that let that person live is gone, taken away. And I got to see it all; every detail in its high-powered, telescopic, laser guided glory. I will never forget what it is like to see someone die.

I waited for the command to kill him, I watched from my scope, now he is dead. I don’t know what I would do if I killed a man, the guilt would be too great. The burden of removing a person’s life from the world, a unique world in itself, would drive me mad.

Well, I won’t know what it’s like, not today. For I was not the one to pull trigger, another sniper did. Today, I am free from that burden. But seeing a man die is enough to leave me shocked. I quietly dismantle my equipment and report to my commanding officer. I then opened my car door and got inside, turned it on, then drove. Nowhere in particular, just anywhere. I needed to clear my mind.

Still in shock, I continue to wander the sands of the desert, my mind playing the scene over and over. To the world, the man died once, but to me, he continues to die, over and over in my mind a gruesome movie that I cannot escape. Immediately after the shot, I drove away from the city, needing to clear my thoughts and slow my mind. I ran out of gas many miles out of town, so here I am, wandering the desert sands, being tormented by my living nightmares.

Some time later, my mind begins to slow, the movie finally running out of film. However, questions pop from my mind, demanding answers. Why do people kill? What corrupts people? What are people? Why are people here? Why is there money? These and much more spring up from the aftermath of the torturous living dreams, and I set out to answer them, hoping I can find rest.

Why do people kill? The answer is simple: to gain power or wealth. It is the priority of the person, however subtle that they themselves do not know, to gain more. More of anything; more money, more jewels, more papers, more clothes, more games, more, more, more. And why do we want so much stuff? For power. If a person has power, they can control others. Why not give everyone what he or she needs? There are enough supplies for everyone, so why must we assign cash value? The value of cash itself is nonexistent, but people give it meaning. Again, power, the desire to have more, to be better. Why must people have power, why does this desire exist? No one knows. Maybe it has to ---

My thoughts are immediately halted. A strange yet sweet melody floated out from a remote village that is ahead of me. Deep in my thoughts, I did not see this village. I took several steps closer, cocked my head towards the music, and then continued.

Finally, I entered the village, no one nearby. I quickly scan the surroundings, surprised to find that the village is rather simple. Everything was made for a purpose, as a tool or as an instrument of simple pleasure. Slowly, I crept toward the source of the music, until I stopped in surprise.

Many people were gathered, seeming to be the entire population of the village. Everyone was doing something: playing music, dancing, eating, drinking, playing, buying, selling, and providing entertainment. I did not know what to think of it, this was the first time I have seen an entire community engaging in good, clean fun.

For several minutes I stood there, contemplating. This village seems to be stuck in time, a living fossile. The village and its inhabitants have not been tainted by the modern world, nor should it be. The bandwagon has not yet rode into this place, prolonging the peace and keeping the pure way of life here. It was decided, in an attempt to preserve the village’s innocent nature, I turned back. I longed to be a part of this world, one that is as clean and pure and this one. But instead, I head back to where I came from, back to the world of corrupt and sin.

My heart is a battlefield, filled with sorrow from y current loss, the lost chance to be a part of a village such as this, and soaring from the evidence that good still exists in this world, however rare. In silence, I shuffle around the desert, night beginning to fall. The sun eases its relentless beating as the moon creeps over the horizon, waiting for a chance to dominate the sky yet again. I finally spot my beat-up car in the distance when another sight catches my eye. A man, very old and seemingly ancient, stands near my car. I start to walk closer and he is suddenly next to me, as is my car. Amid my confusion, the old man stares at me. Now closer, I can clearly see his wrinkles, worn not as mark of age, but as a medal for the experiences he has weathered. His hair was a white so pure as to be almost blinding. He has a faint smell, an aroma of homemade soup mixed with that of a smoky campfire, warming to the nose and pleasant.

Among all of these striking features, the eyes stood out. They were a deep blue, a blue of that of the ocean, deep and pure and calm. They showed that the man has much experience, and knows many truths. The eyes appeared to be the windows into another world, one of hidden knowledge. The eyes also conveyed a good-natured attitude, a man that understands the art and intricacies of humor.

Finally, the man spoke, his voice soft and yet raspy. “Few seek the truth, too busy dealing with themselves. Few are those who seek the meaning of all around them. Some try the find the answer, but do not know even what the question is. Some seek the question, not caring for the answer. Many are misguided, following the rules with which a corrupt society has set. Few are those who think for themselves, questioning the ‘truths’ that are given plainly to them. Rare are the ones who make the journey to knowing the real truths. Rarer still the ones that find it.”

The man stopped and then looked at my hand. Curious, I looked as well. To my great surprise, an old piece of parchment was in my hand, yellowed from time, but in perfect condition from lack of use. I looked up to ask the man who he is, what this is, but he was gone. There was no trace of the old man, no footprints in the sand, nor and sign around. In anticipation, I unrolled the parchment, to see words scrolled in an elegant form of master penmanship:

Life is the mysterious unknown,

Full of amazing pairings and inconsistencies.

Why does heaven touch earth?

Why is there dark and light,

Hot or cold?

No one knows about life,

Why do we exist?

Are we supposedly amazing animals?

Or people with a soul?

Is there a right and wrong?

Will life ever bear the truth?

Why is there an earth, so full of life?

The sun, making gems of the dew.

The fish of the water,

The grass of the ground.

These all exist, but why?

The truth of life lies behind a wall,

A wall with no doors.

Will life ever be known, truth ever be told?

That is unknown; it may be mysterious until the end of time.

Not knowing how to react, I simply stood in place. My mind was still, finally clamed. After several moments, I opened the door to my old car, the car with its paint peeling. Slowly, I placed the parchment on the dashboard of my car. I thought about what I have learned today, about the meaning of life and its worth. In truth, the meaning is something that cannot be found in an instant. It is not something that can be found out like a tidbit of information or like an equation that can be figured out. Instead, life is a continuing quest, a journey that will go until your last dying breath.

I started the car, startled to see it working suddenly, and started driving. Not in any particular direction, just anywhere. The meaning of life; will it ever be known? Who knows, maybe death has the answer. The great sleep, the inky blackness, the true opposite. Is it possible that this opposite holds the answer to life? Is it required to know the dark in order to understand the light? Who knows? I will keep searching for the answer, I will continue the quest, and I will go on until my very last breath. If I don’t know the truth by then, maybe I will in my last moments in our perspective of life.

May the journey continue, and through it, the truth be told …

The Kerra

“I would not recommend your current line of actions.”The Kerra said as he glared menacingly toward a sneering dark elf. The dark elf considered it for a moment then said, “But everyone on Norrath knows that the ancestors of the Kerra were mere mewling felines while the Dark Elves were strong warriors!” After several moments of silence between the two, the kerra slowly knelt to his knees. “Oh good, kneeing before your obvious superior I see?” Ignoring the dark elf, the kerra closed his eyes and aimed his head up to the sky. With arms raised slightly upwards he began to mutter some words. His pure white fur seemed to glow slightly as a small warm breeze blew through.

The kerra done, he slowly stood up and stared at the dark elf. “You do not speak of my ancestors like that.” The dark elf wore a sarcastic grin, “And what are they going to do about it, they are dead!” Appreciating the dark elf’s ignorance, the kerra slowly shook his head and chuckled. “I would recommend you do anything you need to get done before it is too late.” “Is that supposed to be a threat you furry cat? I don’t take well to that!” Suddenly the dark elf launched at the white kerra, drawing a broadsword and swinging it high. Two swift hits to the dark elf’s arm made his sword drop and the kerra simply took a step to the side. Missing, the dark elf fell to the cold stone floor, cursing as he did so.

The dark elf gathered himself up and prepared for a second attack. The dark elf ran at the kerra full speed, moving very quickly. The thuds on the stone floor grew louder and faster as he picked up speed, all the while the kerra standing motionless, uncaring of the approaching dark elf. Very quickly the dark elf started to slow down, his movements becoming sluggish. In only seconds he stood motionless. “What is this, what have you done kerra?!” The kerra smiled slightly, “It’s not a matter of what I have done exactly … more a matter of what my ancestors have done.”

“Speak sense kerra, what do you mean?”

“I am a Mystic, my ancestors heard my plea and they were in no way pleased to hear what you had to say about them.”

“Lies! The dead cannot hear nor can they affect me!”

“Oh really? Then explain how you cannot move.”

“It’s a minor …. Inconvenience, that’s all.”

“I will explain for you. My ancestors have slowly removed your ability to move. It starts with your toes, makes it hard to balance. Then your feet go numb, you cannot feel where you walk. Next your hands, you cannot feel the world around you. Your arms go next; you cannot pick yourself up if you fall. You try to turn around and look behind you, but your waist will not move. The only way you know you are alive is the feel of your heart beating against your chest, but soon that feeling fades as well. You will try and look to your right and left and see if anyone is near to help, but your neck will not budge. You try and see around you, but not even your eyes will move.” The kerra paused. “Don’t worry, only your feet and legs are effected now, but soon you will be in a state of complete paralysis.”

“Help me, please! I swear I will never speak wrongly about your ancestors again!”

“I see the power of fear in your eyes. Good, although your life is no longer in my hands. If you want to live make your plea to my ancestors, only they can help you now. And quickly, before your throat is numb too!”

“Please, oh please spare my life ancestors! Forgive my insolence, I meant nothing by it!”

Several feet away a glow started to emanate in the air, a warm breeze swirling around. Slowly the ghostly image of a large wolf started to form, snarling and snapping at the dark elf. The kerra shook his head, “Sorry dark elf, looks like they are not going to let you go.” The dark elf stuttered a response, his speech starting to fade. “P-p-p-please …. Help. Wo-wo-won’t do again ….”

The kerra’s smile saddened a little. “As I said, it’s no longer in my hands. However I will have some small amount of mercy on you.” The kerra muttered a few words as he gestered toward the ghostly wolf. Red glowing chains mystically formed on the wolf’s paws, binding it to the stone floor. “Those bindings will last only a few moments, enough time to pray to whatever god you worship. Think of the bright side, you will die in peaceful silence since you can’t scream as you get torn apart.” The dark elf tried to move, to even speak but was unable to. In a pure terrified state he was able to groan. The kerra started to walk off, but turned back. “If a dark elf is to call upon you in your afterlife, make sure to tell them to pay proper respects to their ancestors, or Prrowlesis may be creeping upon them and leave them immobile. Now I pay my respects to you, for you will soon join the afterlife and become an ancestor yourself. Farewell.”

The kerra slowly walked off into the night and disappeared, enveloped in the fog. The dark elf had his few moments of tormented silence. The glow in the red chains faded slowly as the wolf struggled against them. Strangely, in this time of peril the dark elf has a moment of true understanding. He understood all he did wrong and accepted his actions put him in this situation. Realizing this gave him his one true feeling of absolute peace. The benefit of his body being entirely numb is that he did not feel a thing after the ghostly wolf jumped at him …..

Fragments

Gazing upon the figure of the person in front of you. You see a body, a layer of the what makes that person unique. The person talks, you hear what they have to say; what makes the person think. Another layer is added.

Calmly, the wind blows by. The being in question has a scent. Fragrance of what they’ve been doing sticking to their skin. Like a puzzle, another layer clicks into place.

Foods of their surroundings tickle the tongue. The spices of herbs, the sweetness of sugars, the tart of sours. Experience the things that a person considers the tastes of life. Perception shifts, a piece drops into place.

Touch the person softly. Are the hands hard from working, the feet calloused from weary travels? Scars that line the skin with a story? Marks of significance to set the person apart? The last piece snaps into place.

The puzzle looks complete, but it lacks something. Every piece lies in the correct spot, adding to the character of the person you see. The problem; what is it?

The senses make up what we believe to be our perceptions, but there is more to what makes a being whole. Without looking beyond the senses the puzzle remains in a single dimension.

Look to the past and see what actions a person felt compelled to act upon. Memories; a film that can be watched over and over. Remembering not quite accurate, but still a way to review one’s self. Criticism a powerful tool to forge a person.

Future’s daydream a canvas of what will be, what may be, and what is yet to come. Will you be good enough to face what is ahead? Will dreams become real or myth? The paint of life can be shaded in a multitude of colors and shades. The outcome a product of the past and present. The uncertainty of unknown shapes the path we want and might take.

The light of day leaves a shadow on the floor. Is the shadow in front of or behind you? Are you walking towards or away from the light? Shadows outline the being of self, slightly distorted, but still there. What will you fill in the outline with? The sight of a shadow is the sight of yourself. It follows your actions and obeys your commands, but shall always remain a shadow.

Gaze into the mirror. It reflects everything that shapes us. Every move and sight is mimicked, but there is an important difference. No matter what is imitated it will forever be the opposite. Move left and the mirror steps right. Learn from the mimic. What would you see in the mirror? A question important, since the answer reveals the answer to your own being, for whatever the mirror will do it is simply the opposite of yourself.

The puzzle no longer a paper to be viewed, it is now a complex shape. Dimensions give it depth; depth of perception in addition to the surfaces of senses. Perceptions shape our being, so make sure that whatever someone perceives of you is the image of self that you want.

Fragments of imaginings come to together, putting the puzzle together. How will you hold the pieces?

MLP: FiM Based Stories:

By Your Side

She dashed through the clouds, feeling the cool beads of water speckle across her face. Rainbow Dash flew up into the sky and closed her eyes. A smile formed as the warm beams of the sun shone on her face. It was always such a pleasure soaring the sky! A sudden scream crackled along the air, breaking the pony from her peaceful reverie. Rainbow Dash stopped her ascent and looked around, spotting a tiny figure getting pushed off a cloud. Her eyes widened with shock ... that filly can't fly!

A sudden rainbow bolted towards the helpless filly. Rainbow Dash desperately wanted to blink her drying eyes, but she couldn't afford to take her eyes off the other pony. She gritted her teeth instead. The ground was getting close ... all too close. I won't make it in time! She stretched her body to her limit in order to be as aerodynamic as possible. Her teeth clenched together even tighter, trying to ignore the pain all over her body ... even her wings dug into her body more.

Another shock greeted the pony's eyes as the filly struck the ground, one more yelp piercing her ears. NO! I refuse to be too late! Rainbow Dash focused every thought and fiber in her body into going faster ... I will get there! A minute more and she was able to recognize the damaged body. "SCOOTALOO!" She opened her wings to brake and let out a small scream from the pain of the wing grabbing the air. "Scootaloo! Come on Scootaloo! It's Rainbow Dash!" The worried pony nudged her snout gently against the young filly and hoped against hope that she was alright. Rainbow dash put her ear against Scotaloo's chest and held her breath.

A few seconds passed in fearful silence. Nearly in a panic, Dash almost missed the very faint heartbeat. "Oh thank goodness! Still alive ... let's get you help!" Being careful, the worried friend moved Scootaloo across her back and made she it would be safe to take off. Like rainbow lightning she took off and raced towards the town.

Tears streamed from her eyes. How could this happen? How did she get up there? She chocked slightly at the thought that no one would hear little Scootaloo's voice again. So much left undone. I know I haven't paid too much attention to Scootaloo ... I've gotten wrapped up in my practice flights. Poor girl, she must feel bad. I won't let it happen again! She will be fine!Rainbow Dash's wings beat faster than they ever have before as refreshed determination rushed through her veins!

A time record broken, they arrived at the hospital. Dash's massive speed left a bright rainbow trailing behind her and it gained quite a lot of attention. A Doctor was already outside gazing at the rainbow when Dash landed and rushed over to help. Moments later more staff poured out to help the little filly. The medical team tried to get Rainbow Dash out of the way as they went into the hospital. She looked at the medic sharply and was quickly left alone. Shouting and various other noises whisked past the troubled friend, too deep in thoughts to pay much attention ... "Her pulse is soft!" ... "Quickly, stabilize her!" ... "Some serious damage, will take ages to heal." ... "She should be OK." ...

I won't let it happen again ... I swear ... I will never leave your side ... my little Scootaloo ...

Cleansing Fire

A deathly cough rattled out of a pony as she winced from the pain. Walking was becoming too much of a hassle, so she decided to lie down on the cloud instead. The sun was at its zenith. Soon it will be time to get ready. Spitfire coughed again, this time shaking her entire body with the effort.

There is only one other time she felt like this, near the Mare of Death. It was long ago …

<>

A bolt of red and orange streaked across the field as a little filly slammed into a large stack of hay. “Oh what the hay?! I’ve done this trick plenty of times!” exclaimed the little filly as she got back up. A young colt trotted up, “Haha, so you keep saying yet none of us have ever seen this fancy trick of yours!”

“I swear I have! A double corkscrew mid dive with an upturn isn’t too hard!” Spitfire exclaimed while shaking off random bits of hay.

The little colt smiled, “The Spirited Spitfire … always has been the most reckless thing born with wings.”

Spitfire’s face contorted with fury, “Blaze, you’ll see that I –“ The filly broke into a small series of coughs, interrupting her outburst.

Blaze looked concerned for a moment. “Are you ok Spitfire? That cough sounds bad.”

With her coughs now under control, Spitfire started to walk back towards the village. “Yeah I’m fine … had that cough for a while now. Keeps getting worse though.”

<>

The sun continued to fall slowly, the celestial body moving at its own pace. Minding the pain, Spitfire carefully stood up. Time to get ready. With utmost care, the fiery pony took out a collection of various jars, brushes, and other assorted materials. She clamped her jaws on the jars and twisted the caps off, exposing a variety of herb-based dyes and ink.

These mixes were specially designed. Combinations known only by Spitfire now, but once known by an old and wise pony that resided in a secluded place. Now he is gone, his wisdom living on in these liquids. In order to get the ingredients this time she had to ask for the help of both Fluttershy and Zecora. The former for her knowledge of healing herbs, the latter for her wisdom in the plants of mystery.

Spasms of pain rocketed through Spitfire, forcing her to drop to her knees in anguish. Tears began to form in her eyes but she fought them back. “I will not be defeated …” she muttered weakly. Getting back up on her hoofs, preparations continued as another flashback took over.

<>

Blaze allowed his friend to lean on him, supporting most of her weight as they continued to walk. “Don’t worry Spitfire, we are almost there.” He whispered in her ear. Earlier in the day Spitfire collapsed during her audition for the Wonderbolts, striking the ground hard.

It has been about two weeks since her crash into the hay, everypony thought she was recovered by now. Turns out Spitfire was just really good at faking that recovery.

Finally at their destination, the sick filly tried to walk on her own and stumbled face first onto the floor instead. She was wracked with a heaving fit of coughs which lasted several agonizing minutes. Blaze helped her stand back up, but quickly let her walk on her own, knowing how stubborn she could be.

“Thank … you …” Spitfire quietly muttered.

In front of them was a small temple. Expertly crafted, each brick in the temple was made of high quality gems of multiple colors. A waterfall was situated directly above the Temple of Light, the liquid caressing the rainbow of colors. Several stations of mirrors were positioned throughout the area, all directing light to the temple. Of an unknown magic, the mirrors seem to follow the Sun to make sure maximum light is harnessed. The effect of liquid and gems combined with that of the light makes the Temple glow brilliantly with every known color in the spectrum.

Walking inside, neither pony knew what to expect …

<>

Another blast of agony stopped the flashback. With preparations complete, Spitfire started the ritual. Her setup was on a cloud far up in the sky, brushes of various sizes affixed to special clamps to hold them in place, pointing out over the cloud. Each brush was coated in a thick layer of its special mixture.

Spitfire took a moment to steady herself, preparing for the task at hand. With calm grace she jumped off the cloud. The blazing pony took great care to time her movements to fly near the brushes, painting very specific designs on her body with each dye and ink. Pain continued to bother her, but this had to be done …

<>

The smells inside the Temple of Light were overwhelming. Sweet blended with sour, spicy dashed with cool, tangy played with smooth … smells so strong as to be tasted. Plants of all kinds of shapes, sizes, and colors grew all over the place.

In the center stood a lone pony, his mane silvered through the ravages of time. His eyes looked up from the plants he was attending to gaze upon the new arrivals. Those eyes were a deep blue, almost impossibly deep from experience that seemed to grasp what he viewed in a beam of understanding and held you there until he was ready.

Silent moments passed until the old stallion spoke. “By the look of you younglings, it seems there is a grave matter at hand. Tell me more.” His voice was smooth and even, perfectly controlled of inflection. Blaze took a step forward. “My friend here, Spitfire, is very ill. She –“

The old stallion interrupted, “No. Let her tell me.”

“But she is too weak!”

“Silence! The fact she isn’t dead now proves she is strong enough. Let her tell me.”

After being stopped by fits of coughs here and there, Spitfire finally gets out her story. “It started a while ago; simply a cough, but getting stronger as the days past. Eventually it prevented me from flying straight, often causing me to crash into random objects. This morning I passed out and was treated at the hospital. None of the doctors know what the issue is, but someone mentioned of an old sage that lived in a temple of pure light. Blaze and I took a few trains then walked the remaining distance … at first uncertain if we were going the right way, or even If this place existed at all.”

The old pony was silent. He took in the information that the sickly filly struggled to get out. After consideration, he spoke.

“I know what plagues you. It is a disease not from Equestria. Long thought to have been abolished, I never fathomed I would encounter it again.”

Blaze, always curious, interjected. “How can you tell what it is just by looking at her?”

A smile crept upon the old pony’s face. “Young impatient curiosity … I remember how that felt ages ago, but do not interrupt me again! Still, a good question. Everything around us has a presence, each unique to what it is. This presence gives off an aura, that if listened to can be felt. Those that are practiced enough learn what an aura feels like and can then identify it again. The same goes here. This ancient plague, I remember it well. “He took a short breath and sighed sadly. “Unfortunately it cannot be defeated with ease. No cure was ever found. Don’t fear however, because there is a way.”

The monologue was broken by a new series of coughing, this time Spitfire spitting up a sizable portion of blood in the process. “Wha – What is it?” she gasped in between breathes. Blaze quickly went back to her side so that she could lean on him for support.

The smile long faded and was replaced with a sad frown, the ancient stallion continued. “It is not a perfect science. The process is very unique for each pony. I can supply the dyes and inks, but the rest is up to you … all I can offer is advice.”

With this, he walked over to Spitfire and quietly started to whisper in her ear.

<>

The sun was now setting, the glowing ball of light turning the sky a beautiful shade of colors ranging from blue to orange to red to pink. Spitfire was almost done, angling in for the last stroke of the brush. Just a few feet away the coughs threatened to shake her into a crash with the cloud, which would destroy all the plans she has worked towards this day.

Biting down the pain, Spitfire concentrated hard and kept her angle in check. A tickling sensation greeting the side of her flank as the last stroke of the brush finished the design painted on her with the special inks and dyes.

Everything in its place, the fiery pony landed on the cloud and took a few moments to rest. The disease was taking a great toll on her. Even the simplest motions caused her to gasp for breath now. Yet again, another series of coughs racked the pony and sprayed blood all over the cloud. “I – I can’t … do this …” Spitfire groaned weakly as darkness greeted her.

<>

There was no motion to indicate life; only the purest of peace and silence which enveloped her.

Like an arm, the sun’s ray of light reached for the lifeless pony. It extended and reached and stretched as far as it could. Gently, the ray of light caressed Spitfire, brushing against her fur and feathers and passing on some warmth. Smells and aromas started to slowly drift along the air. The special dyes and inks were activated by the prolonged exposure to the sun as the heat triggered the release of the aromas.

Deep in a chasm of lost souls, Spitfire heard something. She tried to look around and find out what that sound was but found out she couldn’t even move … or feel anything! She couldn’t even see through the black veil that covered her. Trying to scream for help, she was greeted with silence. No voice either. Panic set in as she thought to herself. Where am I? What is this? Why can’t I talk? Several sense depriving moments went by. At least there is no pain here.

Far in the distance, the worried pony thought she heard something again … something familiar.

“ … you OK?”

The voice grew louder, clearer.

“Spitfire … you … “

That voice. It holds some meaning to the fiery pony. Something close. She strained to hear the next part.

“Spitfire, are you OK? That was a rough tumble!”

Memories came to life as Spitfire’s recollection snapped into working order. It was a few months ago in a field …

<>

Rainbow Dash trotted over to Spitfire, laughing the whole time. “Spitfire, are you OK? That was a rough tumble!” Spitfire slowly stood back up and rubbed the back of her head with a hoof. “Yeah, I suppose … I swear that tree moved in my way.”

Her friend continued to laugh, “Ha-ha! Well maybe you won’t try and fly backwards again!”

“Well at least I could still out fly you Rainbow Dash … backwards!” the fiery pony smirked as she shook her head, trying to shake the pain away.

Rainbow Dash continued to smile, barely containing even more laughter. “I love speed too Spitfire, but it isn’t always about speed, sometimes you have to smell what’s around you too!”

<>

At that sentence, Spitfire was instantly slammed with vivid colors. She could feel the breeze drift past, ruffling the feathers on her wings. Taking a gasping breath was immediately greeting with the mixed smells of the dyes and inks. Sweet and sour, tangy and smooth, spicy and cool; familiar smells. Smells that could be tasted.

Slowly, the pony stood up in defiance. I won’t die. Not today. Not when I have friends to help me. Specks of blood showered the cloud again as she continued a fit of coughs. Getting the coughs under control, Spitfire steadied herself at the edge of the cloud. A quick glance at the cloud confirmed what she hoped. The sun has not set too far down yet, it still glowed brightly. Bracing herself, the fiery pony had one stray thought as she jumped off the cloud: Now to attempt again what I accomplished all those years ago.

Spitfire fell a few feet before spreading her wings, gaining momentum. She shot up and vigorously pumped her wings. Limbs sore from the disease, it was hard to fly higher, shooting pain going up and down her wing with each pump.

Up she went, slamming through every cloud in her path. Every furious beat of her wings caused her to go faster; to go higher. Pain didn’t matter now, she had to do it … her life is at stake. Faster and faster Spitfire burst through the clouds as tiny droplets formed small of water beads onto her body.

Her wings started to tire out, the strain becoming too much. Still beating frantically she went up all the same, eyes starting to fog … the edge of her vision closing in. Her wings started to slow down. About to pass out again, for the last time, she heard an ancient voice from her past.

“… all I can offer is advice.”

It was the old stallion! Memories from back then, giving her their strength now! With renewed motivation she stepped up the pace and fought through the blood-infused coughs. She went higher; breaking more clouds, adding to water that was starting to form a skin-tight layer around her body.

“Everypony is different, each with their own aspirations and dreams.”

The layer of water covered almost every part of her body. Staying off only her wings, eyes, and nose. With an agile quick point turn seen in only the more experienced flyers, Spitfire launched herself down. The fiery pony pressed her wings to her sides, letting the layer of skin-tight water cover them.

“Even the cutie mark is unique. It reflects what makes you special, a part of what makes you yourself.”

Stretching as far out as possible, Spitfire gained speed. The layer of water around her improving her aerodynamics dramatically. She continued to slam into clouds and added to the layer of water.

“There may not be a cure, but there is a way to get rid of the disease … at least temporarily.”

The ground was approaching at break neck speeds. Spitfire could even smell the salty waters of the ocean as she neared the end of her decent. Greens, browns, and yellows of the ground starting to fill up the remaining vision she had left.

“Find that one thing you’re good at, the one thing that makes you unique, and use it to cleanse yourself. Being true to who you are can heal many wounds of the body and soul.”

Spinning into a frighteningly fast spiral, the fiery pony corkscrew-dived right into the ocean. A whirlpool formed in her absence, caused by the immense force of her entrance. Moments later she burst forth a few feet away and rocketed back up into the sky, this time a jet of water following her up.

“Look deep within yourself. You will find the answer. Push away all the lies, all the false truths, all the things others expect of you and look clearly. Search for who YOU are, not what others want you to be.”

Spitfire’s ascent finally slowed down as she stopped in front of the setting sun. Suddenly she spread her wings as far out as possible and looked up into the sky! The jet stream of water continued to flow into her, renewing her water skin and spreading it out in the sky.

The herbal mixture of dyes and inks mixed with the natural minerals of the ocean waters. The spectrum of the setting sun reflected off each drop of water and started to make the water glow. Getting brighter, the glow became nearly blinding before setting fire to the water surrounding Spitfire.

She screamed as loudly as her lungs would allow, a long drawn out release of the pain of her years past. From below, the image of a phoenix filled the sky, water fueling the impossible fire.

The fiery pony continued her long scream, the fire burning within her just as it did without. Flames raced through her blood and the scorching pain echoed through her body as the cleansing fire light up every fiber of her body. Not yet over, it intensified. Already coursing through Spitfire’s body, the fire leapt deep into her soul, exterminating every possible part of the disease it could find.

And as quick as it happened, it was over. The jet stream of water dropped back into the ocean. The gaseous ball of light continued it set, darkening the sky with every passing moment. Even the skin tight layer of water was gone.

With renewed strength, Spitfire pumped her wings in triumph. Her hair and feathers seemed to glow slightly as she took a deep breath of fresh air. As loud as possible she yelled into the sky for everypony to hear:

“I AM SPITFIRE!”

“BURNING WITH THE PASSION INSIDE ME!”

“IGNITED BY THE SPARK OF LIFE!”

“HERE TO LIVE WITH EVERYPONY!”

Shower of Memories

CRASH!

“AGH! Why … can’t … I ... DO THIS!?” The small orange filly continued to express her rage at the current situation. Getting up, she shook her head and walked to the top of a small hill, seemingly for the hundredth time. At the far end of the small hill was an abrupt drop, perfect for a jump start. Scootaloo calmed her nerves again as she thought to herself. OK, try this again. I know I can do it this time … I just know it!

Backing up several steps, the restless filly took off with a running start. She ran as fast as her small hooves would go. The gap between her and the little cliff was disappearing rapidly; the dull sound of her steps the only thing she could hear. Seconds later her legs no longer felt the sturdy reassurance of the ground below, but instead only air.

Determined, Scootaloo beat her tiny wings as fast as they would go. Her efforts were in vain, for gravity began to grasp her body and tug the filly back to earth. Relentless as ever, she refused to lose this time. Buzzing with the roar of a bee colony, even a humming bird would be jealous with how fast those tiny little wings furiously flapped. Unfortunately her efforts were not good enough, for gravity tightened its steely grip and dragged poor Scootaloo back to ground level.

CRASH!

“Oh what the hay!” The frustrated filly’s eyes began to well up. Why can’t I do this? It’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do! Something as simple as flying, I am a Pegasus after all, why can’t I do this? Sulking, Scootaloo found a nice patch of grass to lie down in.

Despite the filly’s gloomy mood, the day was nice. Shining brightly, the sun freely handed out warmth with every ray that struck a surface. Light and gentle was a breeze dancing about the air, balancing out the sun with its cool touch. Well into Spring, the flowers were in full bloom, coloring the landscape with an awe inspiring sprinkle of character and life. Filling out the mosaic of beauty, various critters scampered or flew about, all enjoying the wonderful day.

Nice things always coming to an end, the day was scheduled for a soothing spring thunderstorm later in the day. Everypony in the area was enjoying the sun while it lasted. Even now a few grey clouds started to speckle the sky.

Scootaloo looked up and noticed the grey clouds. Rain … I hate rain. The poor filly’s mood worsened. Even with a park full of ponies she felt entirely alone, just as she had her entire life. Not feeling like she belonged anywhere else, the filly remained where she was, even as the first drops of rain started to kiss the ground.

She was familiar with the rain … it marked every important moment of her life …

<>

The drops plummeted to the ground in sheets, leaving nothing in its path dry. This included one exceptionally young filly that was wandering the paths of Cloudsdale all alone. Her short magenta mane absorbed the water and made it stick to her body. More water, another thing to weight her down. Just like I seem to weigh everypony else down, she thought.

Why did they leave me? Again. Does nopony love me? A very young Scootaloo continued to walk around aimlessly in the rain, not having anywhere to go. The only sounds being that of the relentless rain as every drop echoed in the filly’s empty heart. She was yet again abandoned by those who were to take care of her, dropped off in another strange town.

After several minutes of hollow despair, the lonely pony stopped right where she was. Suddenly she burst out in tears and grief. “Always so alone! What did I do to anypony for this?” No longer strong enough to stand, her four legs buckled as she collapsed. “I – I just want to be loved! That’s all I want! Nothing more …” The rain continued to harass Scootaloo, tears flowing from her eyes and blending with the water that fell around her. Weakly taking a look around her, she noticed the emptiness of the walkways. A hole that perfectly reflected what she felt within.

The young filly continued to weep in solitude, unrelenting rain falling harder and harder.

<>

Scootaloo continued to relive her memories of time past, sitting on the patch of grass. The rain continued to fall, possibly even the water of her tears from then. Entirely lost in thought she was unaffected by the cold rain, her heart frozen from neglect long ago.

Wallowing in emotions, the despairing filly almost didn’t notice that the rain above her stopped to fall. Looking up from her tears confused her even more as the rain continued around her, but not hit her. A voice beside her made her jump, “Why out here in the rain all alone?” Scootaloo looked to the left, noticing a blue pony with a rainbow mane and tail extending a wing out to cover her. A moment of silence went by, Scootaloo unable to register what was happening. “Come on little one, follow me.” The blue pony waited for Scootaloo to get up before continuing down the path, making sure her wing kept the younger filly from getting hit by the rain.

“Well my name’s Rainbow Dash! How about you?” Still confounded by the present situation, the orange filly could only stutter. “I – I’m …” She took a deep breath, still unsure why anypony would be talking to her, still not believing it. “I’m Scootaloo.”

Rainbow Dash let out a friendly laugh. “Haha! Scootaloo then! Why are you out here all alone, and in the rain no doubt! Do you like the rain?”

“No, I hate the rain!” Scootaloo looked at the rainbow-maned pony again, still curious as to who would take time for her. She noticed the odd hat on the older pony’s head and quickly changed the subject. “What - what is that strange hat for?”

Smiling, Rainbow Dash took a glance at the orange filly. “Oh, this old thing? This is my sailing hat!” Scootaloo’s face screwed up in confusion. “A sailing hat? But we don’t have an ocean anywhere near us!” The older pony continued to smile. “Not the ocean, oh no. Something far larger and grander; the Sky! So big and welcoming and unrestricting … I could sail the sky all day and night, the Skipper that never stops and never quits!”

Scootaloo’s confusion deepened. “But you stopped to talk to me …”

“Even the best of Skippers need to dock on land for some rest. Besides, you looked like you needed some company.”

The two ponies stopped as they got under the cover of a nearby building. Rainbow Dash folded her wing back in and turned to the younger one. “Well, my little rest is over, time to sail the sky once more!” Scootaloo blurted out, “Wait!” Dash stopped and looked back as the orange filly continued. “Will … will I ever see you again?”

The older filly nodded her head, causing her rainbow mane to sway a bit. “Of course! Next time you can be my co-skipper! But for now I must be off.” She let out one last smile before jumping into the air with a strong series of wing pumps.

Scootaloo looked on in wonder as the other pony flew away into the rain, finally being swallowed by the clouds. She attempted a smile, perhaps the first ever, as her eyes were dry for the first time in a long while.

<>

She nervously fidgeted with her goggles, the annoying thing clinging to her face. Why do they want me to wear this? I don’t need it. Scootaloo stared back at herself through the mirror. She saw a pony that looked confident, ready, prepared. The orange pony was older now, still smaller than average, but taller than she was years ago.

Today is the day, she thought. I get to finally show off my tricks and maybe join … no … will join the Wonderbolts! She continued to mess with the goggles, the rule-imposed safety feature bothering her. Too absorbed in her thoughts, she didn’t hear the faint padding of hooves creep up.

“So, you ready squirt?” Scootaloo jumped a bit as she looked behind her. Still wearing that odd hat was a mare with a rainbow-colored mane. The nervous pony smiled. “Oh hey Skipper! Just waiting for my turn.”

Rainbow Dash smiled back, “They moved your audition up by two hours, and you’re on in a few minutes. Something to do with a poorly timed thunderstorm.”

“Wait, like in a few minutes from now?” Scootaloo’s eyes widened as she forgot to fidget with the goggles.

This time it was Rainbow Dash’s turn to smile. “Well of course!” She let out a small laugh, “Now follow me pipsqueak.” She turned around and started to walk down the hall.

The orange pony quickly followed, still worried about the sudden change of plans. “It’s just that I wanted to do a practice run before the audition first.” Fiddling with the goggles continued.

“Oh, you amuse me. You’re gonna do fine! You are my co-skipper after all.” She threw another smile at the younger pony. “Well, I’ll see you in a few squirt. Time for me to get to the Judge’s Table.” At that she turned to the right and headed down a different hallway.

Scootaloo continued to walk. “I guess you’re right. I can do this.” She whispered, mostly to herself. Finally outside, she took a deep breath of the clear crisp air and looked up. The clouds were already starting to gather in angry little black clumps. No wonder they moved my audition up, the storm could start any moment.

Going forward along the grassy path, the maneuvers played over in her head, making sure that each one was fresh in her mind. Let’s see, first I can do that one … yes, and then loop around there. Perfect. Going to do a – “Hey! Scootaloo!” Her thoughts were interrupted by a familiar voice. Trotting over to her side was a pony with a purple and pink striped mane and a light grey coat. A smile tugged at Scootaloo’s face, “Sweetie Belle! How have you been?”

Sweetie Belle returned the smile. “Oh not too bad. I heard about a certain somepony auditioning for the Wonderbolts and decided to make a stop by Cloudsdale. Fortunately the worker ponies have been busy … even adding a park up here in the clouds I see!”

Enjoying the company of her friend, Scootaloo entirely forgot about her nervous fidgeting. “Yeah, some clever unicorns figured out a way to get stuff like that up here so non Pegasus can visit. Been a while since I’ve seen you, I trust your business is doing well?”

Before her friend could respond, a booming announcement broke their conversation. “Ladies and gentlecolts of all ages, the final audition will soon begin! Scootaloo please report to the Sky Watch!”

“Well, sounds like you have to go … I better go find Apple Bloom, she is saving me a spot! See you in the sky!” The two exchanged just a few more words before breaking off and headed for their respective locations.

Great, not only is Rainbow Dash going to be watching, but my only other two friends are here too! Scootaloo made her way to the Sky Watch, a large coliseum near Cloudsdale that recently had a large overhaul. She pumped her wings a few times, getting ready to fly. The orange pony finally reached her destination and took a deep breath. OK, I can do this. I’m ready. Jumping up, she thrashed her wings and took off, heading toward the registry counter.

Flapping slowly, she looked around her, taking in the sight of the remodeled arena. The building was on a massive white cloud, the first of its kind; magically enhanced by complex unicorn magic to allow all types of ponies safe passage. Made of a strange off-white material, the walls and pillars towered into the sky. Being above the lowest layer of clouds, the vision was very clear here. Only a few darker clouds existed much higher up due to the incoming storm.

Scootaloo finally arrived at the counter. “Hello? I’m Scootaloo, the last one to audition.” A brown and black pony looked her over real quick. “Good! You go up in a just a minute. Here is your number.” He placed a strap with the number ‘42’ snuggly around her hind quarters. He then pointed to the right, “The judges are over there, they are the ones you need to impress. You can start when the announcer begins.” Going about his business, the stallion then ignored Scootaloo.

She slowly walked out of the way, to a spot that looked good to start off from. The middle of the coliseum was a very large hole, allowing tricks to be preformed below the building in addition to above. The nervous pony fidgeted with her goggles some more, the infernal headgear still being a bother. Standing at the edge of the large gap, she looked down. Hmm, that goes all the way down to the ground. She shot a glance over to the judge’s counter. Sitting there were three ponies, Soarin’, Rainbow Dash, and in the center Spitfire. Her idol noticed the glance and tossed back a friendly wink.

Getting nervous, she was glad to see two of her friends on the other side of the gap, Sweetie Belle leaning on the new railing and Apple Bloom happily waiting for the start of the audition. Scootaloo set a determined smile. I’mready. Let’s do this! She flapped her wings a few times, anticipation flowing through her. Now if only the announcer said something. Practically reading her mind, a booming voice filled the air. “And now the time has arrived! Scootaloo, the 42nd hopeful pony, will perform her tricks!”

Finally able to start, she dived off the edge, falling for a second or so to gain speed before rocketing up. She started with the easier stuff as warm up, not wanting to overextend too early. Even performing simple moves it was impressive, her attention to detail making every angle and flap of the wing like the stroke of a brush on canvas, painting a picture of all to see. Loops and curls adding a crazy touch to the curves and sharp lines in the sky.

Happy with her warm up, Scootaloo stepped it up a bit. Leisurely doing a backward stroke in the air she pretended to be swimming before delving into a rarely seen corkscrew slide. Few are able to perform it, instead of diving into a corkscrew, the pony leans back into the air and “slides” through the air in a corkscrew. After sliding down a few meters, the graceful pony flipped around and spun directly across the sky like a drill.

I wonder if anypony is enjoying this. I sure am. She shot up and began to prepare her next move. Wait, what if they aren’t? Her resolve began to slowly wear away as doubts invaded her mind. Trying to push them out of the way, she performed her next trick. Breaking through a low-floating black cloud, the moisture stuck to her. I never did see the other performances, maybe this one is bad. Scootaloo twisted around, successfully making two figure eights in the air that were perfectly crossed in the center. The moisture from the cloud made her tail give off an orange and magenta streak. She spun in the center a few times before diving in a curve below, flicking her tail to throw off the moisture and stop the streak of color.

Perfectly painted in the air was an orange and magenta colored flower, shining a bit before dissipating. Her mind began to cloud up like the sky around her. If they don’t like this maybe they won’t like me! They won’t be my friends anymore! As she was preparing the next move quick flashbacks of her lonely past scrolled through her mind’s eye. I will … be lonely again. The orange pony’s body shuddered at that thought again. With her resolve disintegrating, she was frozen in fear of potential abandonment again.

CRACK-KABOOM!

A huge wave of thunder rolled across the sky. At the same time a sharp yelp invaded Scootaloo’s ears, snapping her from the frozen state previously stuck in. Curiously peering below, she saw a familiar figure falling towards the ground. SWEETIE BELLE! Also noticing the broken guardrail, she figured the thunder must have startled her friend and caused her to lean too far forward.

Only the three Wonderbolts were quick enough to respond, unfortunately their position behind the table prevented them from getting an agile enough angle for a dive. Knowing they couldn’t make it time Scootaloo dived as fast as she could, swearing to herself that she could save Sweetie Belle.

The frantic pony put as much effort as she could into the dive, demanding her body could go faster, praying it will be enough. She felt small drops of moisture on her wings and flank; the rain begun to fall. Not … good enough ….! The goggles were slowing her down and she knew it. If my Skipper can do this, so can I! She shook her head viscously, the goggles flying off. The goggles off, that extra speed allowed her to out dive even the rain.

Sweetie Belle was dangerously close to the ground now, the green and browns of the terrain blending with the blues of the lakes and ponds that dotted the area. Must go fast, I can do this! Scootaloo’s eyes strained, trying to keep her eyes open as much as possible. Her body was getting sore, but she demanded even more, causing a deep ache to vibrate through her entire being.

In a flash, she passed the three Wonderbolts, determined to reach her friend. At the maximum speed she could squeeze from her body, it still wasn’t enough. Sweetie Belle was going to die! NO! THIS … WILL … NOT … HAPPEN! She stretched as far as possible, wishing herself to become faster. Just like Skipper always said. “Flying isn’t something that can be jumped into. It’s like swimming in the air; you need to learn how to paddle before you can swim.” Her will became a force unstoppable; suddenly she knew she was good enough. Her training was for this moment. “Imagine the air as the water. Try to swim float calmly, then focus on swimming. First you need to stay above the surface before you can dive squirt.”

The air around Scootaloo started to tug. It grasped her hooves, her face, her flank, her belly; every part of her body and tried to hold her back. Refusing to submit, she continued the dive into the air. Don’t worry Skipper, I’ve learned to swim … time to learn how to dive! Determined as ever, she slashed the air in front of her, imagining the entire time it was water. Slowly, the air began to compress around her, she knew it was almost time.

The force of the air threatened to rip off her face, but she ignored the discomfort, thinking only of her friends, the only ponies to shelter her from loneliness. Pain coursed through her and demanded attention, but that too was something she ignored … it was not important. One last thought of her friends whispered through her mind as the air started to fold into itself, allowing her to put the one last ounce of strength she had into the air in front of her.

Everything became still and silent. Serenity ensured for just one moment more before the air exploded in front Scootaloo as she was propelled forward faster than she has ever gone before. I … I did it! A large ring of orange and magenta spread across the sky, enveloping everything along its path in a gentle caress of hope and comfort. The ring continued to expand, covering the entire sky in its calm hues of color. A Sonic Sunset, sure to bring a happy ending to any day.

Shot forward from her epic feat, Scootaloo was able to dash fast enough to catch her friend. She cradled her in her hooves, but the danger wasn’t over. Going way too fast, they would still hit the ground below since the orange pony couldn’t break the forward motion. Trusting her experiences with her friends, instincts took over. A twitch of her wing caused them both to shift a tiny bit to the left, now at a slight angle.

Seeing what was ahead, Scootaloo flipped around, allowing her back to take the full brunt of the shocking force that reverberated through their bodies as they crashed into the deep lake and protecting the passed out Sweetie Belle.

Scootaloo’s colorful trail followed her into the water, the light somehow having substance enough to stain the water with colors of the trail. Only moments behind, the awestruck group of Wonderbolts slowed their descent and made a controlled dive into the lake to search for the two ponies.

A minute later, the three emerged holding up the pair. They carefully dropped them down at the lake shore. Scootaloo blinked away the water and looked around.

A beautiful sight greeted them as everyone noticed what had happened during their time in the water. The rain hit the Sonic Sunset and absorbed the light, causing small drops of orange and magenta to sprinkle the land in a shower that would forever be marked as a dedication of pure kindness.

Rainbow Dash looked at Scootaloo in the eye. “You’ve done well pipsqueak. Very well.” She took off her hat and placed it on the other pony’s head. “My co-skipper, all grown up … now a Master Skipper of the sky’s oceans!” The mare rested her head on the younger pony’s shoulder and began to weep. “Squirt, you make me proud!”

Too tired to speak, Scootaloo smiled as she also began to cry. For the first time in her life, these were tears of joy. The colorful rain continued to gently caress them as they shared a moment of pure happiness.

<>

An orange mare inhaled deeply, enjoying the cool and crisp evening air. A light breeze rustled her mane. Looking up into the sky, an older Scootaloo noticed the dark grey clouds. Seems the wind whispers of rain tonight.

She was getting restless. Waiting for somepony to arrive is harder than she thought. Taking another look around, Scootaloo continued to wait. Shooting its golden rays across the land, the sun was setting. It cast a cloak of warm comfort on everything that was touched; a soft blanket that ushered in the arrival of the moon’s glow.

At the sound of distant hooves padding across the soft soil, Scootaloo turned around. Slowly approaching her was a young filly. With a forlorn look, the filly was gazing downwards, easy to tell she had something on her mind. The orange mare was stunned at the sight. With a light blue coat and a mane of multiple colors, the image was strikingly similar. “Ra – Rainbow Dash …?” Scootaloo spoke softly to herself in confusion.

After the young filly was closer, she could see that it was not Rainbow Dash, although there were obvious resemblances. She walked to meet the filly. Standing only a few feet apart, both were silently taking in the other. A light rain began to fall, speckling the ponies with moisture.

“Hello there young filly, I was told that meeting you was important.” The young filly simply nodded, unable to speak. Revealing a note tied around her neck, she pulled it off and gave it to Scootaloo. Curiosity growing larger each second, the mare unrolled the scroll and read what was contained within.

My Dear Skipper Scootaloo,

Princess Celestia has requested a task that is more dangerous than usual. This letter is a precaution in the event that I will not return.

We have known each other a very long time and I have watched you grow up to be the best, well second best, flyer in Equestria. You have given me enough memories to be secure in the fact that I have lived a full and happy life. If I die in the sky I call home, the only regret I would have is not being able to see you one last time.

I do have one request. If anything is to happen to me, I ask that you please look after my little Swift Squall. There is no doubt that you can take care of her, like I know that nopony else could love my daughter.

In the event that you do get this, take peace with the fact that I now sail higher clouds. One day you too will able to fly high enough and we will meet again.

Farewell my faithful friend … forever my little Scootaloo.

With Love,

Rainbow Dash

Scootaloo was unable to tell why her face was wet, if it was from the tears streaming from her eyes or from the rain. Her first and best friend passed away. How is this possible … why now? There were still so many years to live. It isn’t fair! She snapped herself out of the quick set depression. I have a debt to repay. Somepony else to love; the way that Rainbow Dash was my friend.

Swift Squall simply lowered her head again, sadness still invading her mind. Scootaloo recognized that look from when she was young. “Don’t fear Swift, you have me now. You will never be alone. That is a promise.” Water hitting her face, the filly looked up at the mare. “Thank you … thank you so much!”

They hugged, giving each other assurances of the future to come. A new flood of tears burst from Scootaloo’s eyes as she said softly, “Just promise me one thing. Promise me that you will fly the sky, sailing as if it were an ocean. Sail proudly, knowing that you have the blessing of the best sailor that ever lived, your mother.” With that, she took off the hat that was always on her head, a reminder of a friendship that ran deeper than words could describe. Every movement filled with infinite emotion, Scootaloo placed the hat carefully on the filly.

“Wear this proudly, knowing that you will always be my little Skipper.”

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