[MLP:FiM] Dust in the Wind (Rainbow Dash, Lightning Dust)


Well-Known Member
[font='Open Sans', Arial, sans-serif]When Lightning Dust comes to visit Rainbow Dash, Dash is forced to confront a truth about herself, and her future as a potential Wonderbolt.[/font]

[font='Open Sans', Arial, sans-serif]Takes place after 'Tanks for the Memories' and 'The Lost Treasure of Griffonstone'.[/font]

Rainbow Dash drank deeply of Applejack that night.

However, she had nothing on Applejack herself, whom was practically able to drink her own weight in the distilled cider her parents had mischievously named her after, and so Rainbow Dash had called it quits after her third drink. She wanted to be able to wake up in the morning in her own cloud bed, not buried six feet under somewhere.

Six feet of snow was rather cold, thank you very much.

Snow sprinkled the ground as Rainbow Dash slowly walked the streets of Ponyville down from the Castle, occasionally sticking her tongue out in foalish glee to catch a snowflake. Her mother had always told her an old mare’s tale about not sticking one’s tongue out in cold weather, but like many of the older mare’s words of wisdom, Rainbow Dash had ignored it. After all, look where she was in life now.

Another piece of advice Dash had heard but ignored was to not drink and fly. While Rainbow Dash abhorred the idea of being an egghead, she wasn’t stupid: she wouldn’t be attempting any new speed records after thoroughly imbibing of liquor. She would, however, fly up to her cloud home, instead of taking Twilight Sparkle’s offer of a guest room at the Castle. Certainly, the Castle’s beds were comfy, but nothing, and Rainbow Dash meant nothing beat a cloud bed.

Even then, she would have hesitated to make the short flight from the ground to her household, but that was why Rainbow Dash always went for a walk after drinking. After all, gravity was the true Mistress of the Skies. Down on the ground, she could judge her mental acuity by the ease with which she trotted forward, one hoof at a time. If she tripped, she might at the most suffer a few scratches, and know not to attempt a flight that night. So far, Rainbow Dash’s decision to fly home was winning.

The crisp, winter air washed over her fur, a single scarf the only protection against the powers of Greater Nature. Dash loved winter. While everything else slowed down, she remained the one constant, her speed through the air as quick as always, no matter what that egghead Princess insisted about air density being greater when it was cold out and therefore impossible for her velocity to not decrease. It was the season of creating snow alicorns, building snowponies, of hockey and sledding, skating and snowball fights. It was the season of death before rebirth, an end to all the old, bitter memories of the last year.

Winter truly was twenty percent cooler than any other season.

With a deep breath, satisfied at the visible moisture in the air as she breathed out, Rainbow Dash gauged her surroundings. Her household was technically just outside of Ponyville’s limits to avoid paperwork, and so she had walked from the Castle end of Ponyville to its south side, minimising the amount of time she would spend in the air. Letting her wings out, giving them a few experimental flaps, she quickly sprinted forward, hooves producing loud clopping sounds on the stone trail, before she was off into the air.

Rainbow Dash didn’t know what it would be like to gain a horn someday, in the manner that Twilight Sparkle had gained wings. She did know, however, that she would never trade her wings for the world. The skies were her natural home, the wind the force that held her wings of freedom aloft, able to travel anywhere and everywhere. Gravity may have been the Mistress of the third dimension that only a third of all ponies could aspire to, but Rainbow Dash was nothing but defiant of any that wished to shackle her to the ground. Rainbow Dash flew east, slightly tipsy but still able to gracefully land on the large cloud that held her home.

Her home, where a green-coloured pony with an orange-striped mane was sitting in front of.

Rainbow Dash almost found herself stepping back in surprise, but caught herself at the last moment. It wouldn’t be awesome to hesitate at a reunion with a pony she had departed with on poor terms over a year ago. “Dust,” She greeted coolly, “What are you doing here?”

What she didn’t expect was for Lightning Dust to squint, lips curled out, not in anger, but almost as if she was about to cry. For all of the limited time Rainbow Dash had known the reckless flier, Lightning Dust had never seemed the type to cry, unless she was by herself in absolute private. Rather like Rainbow Dash herself. The mere thought the green Pegasus was close to tears shook Dash out of her inebriated state, hanging on to Lightning Dust’s words.

“I wanted to apologise, Dash.”

Rainbow Dash’s instinctive reaction was to make an acerbic comment, but she held her tongue. The face of a female gryphon had flashed across her mind. If Rainbow Dash had found it within herself to make up with Gilda, whom had been hostile at first, then she could try with Lightning Dust, who appeared receptive from the start. “You’ll have to specify, Dust,” She said. “Your general attitude I could forgive. Nearly killing my friends and shrugging it off is a whole other reptile.” Rainbow Dash held back a wince. That had been her going lightly on the other Pegasus.

Lightning Dust appeared to take it in stride. “I deserved that,” admitted the orange-maned mare. “I never expected them to show up, but I should have taken responsibility anyways.”

“Excuse me, not your fault?” Rainbow Dash squawked in anger, before taking a couple of deep breaths, keeping her hooves planted where she was. Drunk as she was, she didn’t think she would win a hoof fight. “OK, yes, it was a military air zone, you couldn’t have predicted them showing up. It was still you who decided to start the tornado anyways, and couldn’t keep it under control.”

The other pony seemed to be gritting her teeth. That was little surprise. Dash surmised that it must have already taken her a great deal of courage merely to come here, and going through with her apology while taking a verbal beating was even more taxing. Good. Lightning Dust deserved it.

“I already said sorry to Thunderlane, you know,” Lightning Dust said, slightly changing the subject. “He seemed to be happy to hear it, but waved it off, saying he was over it.”

Rainbow Dash refrained from smirking at that comment. She had an inkling as to why that was. Rarity had gone on and on for days afterwards about the dashing black stallion whom had rescued her. While Dash hardly considered herself to be a gossiper, she had heard more than enough from Fluttershy, the queen of Ponyville’s gossip network.

“I…I screwed up, big-time,” Lightning Dust continued, “And it wasn’t even until recently that I finally understood it.”

“What happened?” Dash asked, surprised at how quick her moods swung with a few drinks in her. Certainly, she knew from experience that following drink she ranged across the mood spectrum as much as her hair did the colour spectrum, but she just couldn’t seem to hold the anger in tonight, the intent to continue delivering a tongue-lashing melting away like a snowball between two warm hooves.

“My younger sister,” Dust sucked in a deep breath, “She followed me around, copying one of my stunts. She didn’t have anywhere near the training I had, and ended up in the hospital.”

“Bad?” And now she was feeling empathy. Dash cursed that part of herself, the fragment that felt loyalty to a pony whom she had once been friends with, before an act of recklessness had sundered their relationship, as messily as if a thunderbolt had sliced a tree down the middle.

Lightning Dust shook her head, “Not too bad, thank the Princesses. A concussion and sprained wing, but it was a wake-up call. I have faith in my abilities, but I have to know my limits, and the limits of others.”

“Like creating a tornado you can’t control?” Dash repeated her remark from earlier, “Or sending other ponies into tailspins in the air?” There was the tough part of her again.

The green Pegasus squirmed for a second, but then scrunched her muzzle, “Yes, like that! I screwed up! Do you want me to take out a full-page ad in the Equestria Daily saying I bucked up?!”

Rainbow Dash let out a small grin. Yes, they had parted on bitter terms, but she had enjoyed the few days she had known Lightning Dust, as full of brimstone and bravado as she herself was, and also with the talent to back it up. There was the fire she had known Dust to have. Pacing back and forth, she gazed out at Ponyville below, more lit lampposts than anything else now, before turning back to speak, “No, but I do expect you to apologise to my friends. All of them, both the ponies you knocked around at the Academy and the ones you nearly killed.”

“It was what I intended to do, but…” Lighting Dust pawed at the cloud in front of her, fidgeting.

Dash paused as she had continued pacing. There was something more here. “But what?”

Her former friend and rival looked up from her catlike motion, before looking back down. “I wanted to…check up on you…make sure you were doing alright,” Dust mumbled.

Rainbow Dash found herself caught off-hoofed for the third time that night, all because of this confusing Pegasus before her. She didn’t like it, and she had a feeling the hole went a lot deeper than Angel Bunny’s pitfall traps. “Why don’t you come inside and have something to drink?” She suggested. 


“I never took you for the type to drink cocoa,” Lightning Dust mused as she sipped at the same drink herself, the hot vapours wisping from the cup rising to the ceiling, where it would cling to the cloud architecture.

“What are you talking about? There’s no way I’m drinking coffee this late at night, and I’d never drink tea.”

“I was actually expecting you to be a bit, well, contrarian, and be a tea drinker.”

Dash scrunched her muzzle up at the unfamiliar term, though she could understand it in context. “OK, egghead,” She ribbed, making a motion with her front joint to communicate it was meant in jest. Taking another sip, Dash found herself surprised as her cup was empty, marshmallows and all. While she already missed the sweet warmth the drink had provided, it had done an excellent job of sobering her up. 

Sighing, Rainbow Dash decided to quit delaying. Putting down her cup, she said, “I’ve been doing fine, I guess. That’s what you were asking about earlier. You’ve no doubt heard about the Tirek incident, but I got over that. Well, there was that maniacal unicorn a little while later, but I’m sure she’ll be apprehended sooner or later. What about you?”

Lighting Dust peered into her mug for several minutes, silent as a rock. Rainbow Dash let her be, even if she was being slower than her currently hibernating tortoise. Busying herself with something to do, she got up from the table, cup in hand, to fill up a drink again. With a strong dash of cocoa powder and more marshmallows, she returned to the small table.

“I had a period of darkness after I was cut from the Academy,” Lightning Dust spoke at last, perking Dash’s attention as she sipped her drink once more. “For the longest time, I refused to accept that I might have been to blame, and I alienated some of my friends. Even then, I continued training every day.”


“When I went to speak with Spitfire, she told me I was barred for life from the Wonderbolts,” Dust grit her teeth at the memory. “Said I would be a liability with my history.”

Dash winced. She couldn’t imagine having her own dream go up in smoke like that, and she had been ever so close to what Dust had done, if only she had been a bit more careless and less restrained.

“But, flying is the only thing that’s ever truly made me feel alive,” Lighting Dust continued, hooves gripping tight on her own mug. “You don’t need to be a Wonderbolt to continue flying, but for me, it was the Wonderbolts or nothing.”

“What about when Spitfire retires?” Rainbow Dash suggested. “Fleetfoot or Soarin’, whomever takes over, might be more lenient.”

Dust shook her head, “And wait what, five years, maybe even ten for Spitfire to retire? I won’t, can’t wait that long. It’s now or never.” She looked up from her mug at last, looking over at her reunited friend. “You feel the same, don’t you Dash?”

Rainbow Dash felt like there was something in the conversation she was missing, but she nodded. “I do. I think…tell you what, Dust. When I get onto the Wonderbolts, I’ll try my best to convince Spitfire otherwise. IF you apologise to all my friends, and only IF, she might be willing to listen. I’ve been with Twi long enough to know some ponies, even gryphons, truly are capable of changing.” Even a Changeling had recently been accepted into the community, and Dash felt a momentary twinge of guilt at her favourite dream involving her beating up a bunch of Changelings.

Lightning Dust blinked several times rapidly, a confused look etched over her face before it was erased, and a look of dawning comprehension painted over the palimpsest easel. “You don’t get it, do you?” She whispered.

“Huh? Whaddya mean, I don’t get it?” Rainbow Dash asked aloud, genuinely befuddled and also finally recovering some of that annoyance from earlier. Lightning Dust had been beating around the bush for a while now on something, and Dash wanted to know what that something was already.

“Spitfire told me the Wonderbolts would never accept me because of my reckless behaviour,” Lightning Dust said in a slow manner of tone, not mocking, but gently re-explaining the facts. “What makes you think you are any better than I was?”

“How dare you,” Rainbow Dash hissed, “I only went along with your ideas because you were the leadpony, and Spitfire told me she liked ponies with some daring in them. I’m nowhere near as bad as you.” She expected Dust to bite back at her. Instead, her heart sank as she saw Dust’s eyes crystallise with unshed tears, shaking her head. Somehow, she knew she wasn’t going to like what Dust had to say.

“You wrecked Cloudsdale’s Weather Factory, Dash,” Lighting Dust said. “If that’s not reckless, I don’t know what is. Spitfire would never allow you in either.”

Rainbow Dash dropped her cup.

The cup didn’t break, thanks to the malleable nature of cloud-forged furniture, but what few drops of cocoa there were left spilled over onto the fluffy surface.

Rainbow Dash found herself shivering, despite the warm room. She closed her eyes. It was only for a moment, but then that moment was gone.

She opened them. Her dreams passed before her eyes, and then they were gone, just dust in the wind, and she found herself swept from the familiar, as surely as if that tornado from that day so long ago had carried her away. “No,” She whispered, not entirely sure what she was in denial of.

“But I realised something. The Wonderbolts aren’t everything, Rainbow Dash.”

“Of course they’re everything!” Dash found herself hollering back in a whisper. Sure, she was the fastest pony alive, but the Wonderbolts had gotten along for centuries without her. She was but one potentially large drop in the endless sea of talent that was out there, chomping at the bits to become a Wonderbolt.

“No, they are not,” Lightning Dust said, and suddenly she was in Dash’s face. “Who was it who saved Equestria from Nightmare Moon, Discord and Tirek? It sure as heck wasn’t the Wonderbolts. From what I’ve heard, they were useless every time!”

Rainbow Dash heard a repetitive chattering sound, and realised it was her teeth. Trying to vanquish her treacherous jaw muscles, she felt for her dropped cup, still warm to the hoof. Slowly, she breathed in and breathed out, before answering Lighting Dust, “But the Wonderbolts, they, the Wonderbolts,” She fidgeted, her dreams crumbling away.

“Nothing lasts forever, Dash,” Dust replied, attempting to rouse her friend out of the funk Dust had inadvertently sent her spiralling down into, “Nothing but the earth and the sky and the Princesses themselves. Princess Luna had her own guard back in the day, the Shadowbolts. Where are they now?”

“…Gone,” Rainbow Dash said.

“But they weren’t dissolved because Equestria wasn’t big enough for two premier aerial stunts teams, they were merged into the Wonderbolts because of their association with Nightmare Moon. Don’t you see, Dash?!” Lighting Dust seemed to be getting more excited with every word she spoke.

“N-no,” Dash mumbled, even as she had an idea of what Dust was pushing at.

“Even after I was kicked out, I’ve still been training, doing my own stunts,” Dust stated. “If the Wonderbolts won’t have us, then we’ll just have to form our own team.”

“B-but, the Wonderbolts,” Dash protested, “They’re the greatest, most talented fliers in all Equestria.”

“They’re clearly not if none of them are capable of performing the Sonic Rainboom,” Lightning Dust commented acerbically. Reaching over, she grabbed Rainbow Dash’s hooves in her own hooves, giving them a reassuring squeeze to bring Dash down to the clouds. “Get your head out of the earth, Dash.”

“Hey!” Dash squawked. What was a normal metaphor for earth-bound ponies meant a lot different for Pegasi when it was reversed. However, she knew Dust meant well. More importantly, it had distracted her for a few seconds from her despair, and it was beginning to dawn on her that Dust had a point.

“But seriously,” Lightning Dust continued, “Are you game or not?”

Rainbow Dash struggled, but even as she did she knew her mind was made up. However, the lingering effects of her drink from earlier were finally making themselves reacquainted with her body, as she began to feel lightheaded. The sun had dipped below the horizon even before she had returned home, and it was supposed to be a cool night. Looking at the empty mugs on the table, Dash looked up, facing Lightning Dust directly, golden eyes meeting violet.

“Why don’t you stay the night?” Rainbow Dash asked, because even as she knew her answer, she still had to wrestle with it, unlikely to come out as unscathed as Fluttershy did when wrestling bears. “I have a guest room you can use.”


The next day, Rainbow Dash stumbled out of her household onto the outdoor cloud area, finding Lightning Dust already awake, stretching her wings.

“I thought about it,” Dash admitted. “It’ll be a lot of hard work, even more than what the Wonderbolts put themselves through.”

Lightning Dust grinned, because she knew she had the other mare hooked. “Hard work, perseverance, a bit of luck and a daring with our stunts that the staid Wonderbolts would never do.”

“Bravado without recklessness,” Dash said, pressing on that point, still unwilling to forget the tornado they had created in the Academy.

“Yes,” Dust agreed. “But something to still wow the audience, something the Wonderbolts would never do.”

A night of sleep hadn’t assuaged Rainbow Dash’s anxieties completely, but Lightning Dust’s idea was enough to give her hope. “It’ll just be the two of us for the first bit, but with fewer members, we can perform in smaller towns and still make some money. One unicorn I knew said she could have lived on the road just visiting hamlets alone.”

“We can encourage the audiences we perform in front of to apply,” Dust added. “We can’t be as rigorous and choosy as the Wonderbolts, but then, they’re affiliated with the military. We won’t have to jump through hoops like they do.”

Slowly, Rainbow Dash found her spirits being built up again. “We’ll leave them behind like dust in the wind.”

Lightning Dust smirked, “And I have the perfect idea for an opening act, if you’re game.”

“Yeah? What’s that?” Dash asked, curious. In turn, Dust made her way over to Dash’s front door, and whispered in her ear.  Rainbow Dash smirked. It felt so good to smile like that. “You’re on! If you fall behind you’re a giant chicken!” Immediately after she finished talking, she galloped from her doorstep, taking off into the sky.

“Daaaaaasssh!” Dust yelled, running behind her friend before she too took off into the air, the wind currents failing to drag the stupid grin off her face.

The two each performed a spiral motion through the air, leaving contrails behind in their wake as they climbed ever higher. Despite it having been ages since they last worked together, they clicked well, barely a mistake visible to anypony who might have been observing. Flying in spirals counter to one another, the spirals began to move inwards as the Pegasi ascended, sacrificing speed for braking and turning. 

There would be more than that in their first few shows. They would use props, for certain. They would perform aerial acrobatics, no doubt borrowing from both the circus and the stage. The Sonic Rainboom would be the magnum opus of any show. But this, the both of them though as they entered the terminating centre point of the spiral, smacking hooves against one another in a bout of cheer, this was the beginning of a new friendship. 

Truly, they would leave the Wonderbolts behind. It was all dust in the wind now.

I don’t hate Rainbow Dash or Lightning Dust. Heck, of all the antagonist-of-the-weeks, the only pony the writers have actually managed to write that I actually dislike would be Suri Polomare and Spoiled Rich. Flim and Flam in their first appearance weren’t really con ponies, and half that episode was just Applejack and Granny Smith being ridiculous and bad at business deals, and of course we all know about Trixie. 

However, I do think the ending to Wonderbolt Academy is rather poor. There was an alternate ending where apparently Spitfire was going to switch the wingpony and leadpony badges of Dashie and Lightning Dust, which IMO would have been a MUCH superior ending. The ending as it was came off badly, after Spitfire’s attitude the whole episode of basically encouraging Lightning Dust’s behavior.

However, the whole Aesop of recklessness did strike me as it showing Dash what she would be like if she was less restrained than she was. It took a while for the events of Tanks for the Memories to click with me as her basically being like Lightning Dust in attitude except for a better reason, but once it did I knew I had to write something like this. Sure, you can argue that RD being more famous and a hero of Equestria wouldn’t be barred from the Wonderbolts blah blah blah but for the sake of this fic she thinks she would be. That and the idea of Dust and Dash being an independent stunts duet is kind of interesting to me.

Tanks for the Memories doesn’t really give a strong hint as to how public it is that Rainbow Dash messed up the factory, outside of one of Pinkie’s lines. For this fic I assume it’s well known, but the reason why she did it isn’t known outside of her circle of friends. This fic also takes place after Lost Treasure of Griffonstone, so that I could use Rainbow Dash thinking about Gilda’s redemption.

Other than that, I actually had fun writing this fic, though I did run into writer’s block twice before this got finished. I had intended to make it a little bit longer in the middle after Lightning Dust’s line about the Weather Factory, with some more moping, but I honestly just didn’t have the mindset to write a few pages of Rainbow Dash angsting.

The one thing I hemmed on was shortening Rainbow Dash and Lightning Dust to Dash and Dust a lot of the time, but it seems to make them feel more ‘familiar’ with one another by using a shortened form in casual conversation. Had I left this sitting for a week before submitting it, I would have polished it up with some more description, since there’s a much higher talk-to-action ratio here than I usually write. However, I wanted to push this out before the Season 5 finale. I already very narrowly managed to get a Cutie Markless Scootaloo fic out just before Crusaders of the Lost Mark, and I wouldn’t put it past the writers following some of the Season 5 episodes thus far to use the plot of the finale to cram in cameos from some of the villain-of-the-weeks.

A segment of this fic does, of course, follow the lyrics of Dust in the Wind. I didn’t reference the name of the band directly, but well, after you get swept away by a tornado, you’re not quite in Kansas anymore.