"Dash? Dash!" Twilight called out, standing on the path below Dash's cloud home. She stamped her hooves in frustration as the silence dragged on. She had been at this for several minutes, and the situation called for a bit more urgency than her friend was showing. Or not showing, as the case may be. So far she hadn't shown up at all.
"Dash, am I going to have to get Fluttershy to go up there?" Twilight asked of the clouds. She finally heard from above, a low groan making its way down to her.
"Alright already." Rainbow Dash complained, rolling onto her front and over to the edge of her cloud home, where she could look down on Twilight. She blinked slowly a couple times at Twilight. "Can't a pony get some shuteye?" she complained.
"It's nearly afternoon Dash!" Twilight retorted. Dash just looked around lazily at the bright day she had somehow slept straight through until now. She gave a yawn.
"And why were you asleep outside?" Twilight asked, her curiosity overcoming her sense of urgency. Rainbow had her actual house at her back, lying on the surrounding cloud, near her rainbow river.
"I'm tired." Dash said, explaining nothing. "Whatcha want?"
"The weather patrol sent me to fetch you." Twilight explained. Her friend still didn't look all that concerned. Or conscious, given her drooping eyelids.
"My shift isn't until the afternoon." she managed after a moment.
"There's been an accident. One of the pegasus ponies flew into a mountainside, somehow."
"It...happens" Rainbow replied, giving a wavering smile. "So why are they bugging me?"
"Because, the other two members of the team had to help her back." Twilight explained, "Which means the thunderstorm they'd been redirecting is now almost on us, and they need it cleared fast. And not just fast, but the fastest - Rainbow Dash fast." Twilight ended with a smile, knowing the effect that would have on her brash friend. Rainbow Dash, sure enough, began to perk up.
"Well, I guess you've got that right." she replied, blinking rapidly until she seemed more focused.
"Come on Dash, please?" Twilight asked. Rainbow wasn't stupid; she could tell when she was being buttered up, so Twilight didn't want to go overboard. Still, she needed to lay it on a little to motivate her lazy friend. "Who else but you could we turn to?"
"Alright, alright." Dash said, now on all fours. She stretched out like a cat, flared her wings, and lifted effortlessly into the air. "Only 'cause you guys need me." Twilight smiled as Dash took off towards Ponyville. She chuckled and shook her head, trotting along behind.
Dash yawned every other minute on the way to Ponyville. She barely paid any attention to the ground underneath her; she really wanted to be back in bed, or at least on her cloud. Neither unicorns nor earth ponies really got it; when you lived your whole life on a cottony, fluffy surface, 'beds' were really just for the fun of it. Plus, after last night, Dash was just glad she had found her way back to her own cloud at all.
Dash reached Ponyville, noticing that it wasn't as bright as it should have been anymore. She saw the pegasus ponies that made up the rest of Ponyville's weather patrol waiting for her near the edge of town. Normally, Dash would go on solo duty, just kicking away any stray clouds as she came across them. For there to even be a small team assembled meant that there was probably something bigger to take care of, not that Dash paid any attention to the weather until she showed up for her shift. Still, if she remembered right, there had been something from Cloudsdale a couple days ago alerting them to a stray system moving their way.
Even more asleep than awake Dash made flight look easy, coming in for a smooth landing in front of the group. Shaking her head awake, she looked over to the weather patrol.
"Who was it this time?" she asked the brown stallion in the center. He nodded over to his left, to the white mare with a teal blue mane.
"Rainy? Let me guess....you left your glasses at home." Rainbow saw her fellow weather-pony cringe.
"I'm sorry...they keep fogging up!" she argued back weakly. "I don't know how I missed that mountain." Rainbow sighed. She wasn't close friends with the other pony, but understood why Rainy Day never went around with her weather-resistant, thick-rimmed glasses.
"Hey, no problem, it happens to the best of us. Trust me." her enthusiasm wasn't entirely genuine, but it did bring a little smile to the pony's face.
"Think you can manage, Dash?" the brown stallion interrupted. "We'd come out and help, but uh, we kinda need a rush job here." he nodded over his shoulder. Rainbow looked up and groaned. She now knew why it was so dark for this time of day. It was worse than she feared; there was a major thunderstorm barreling down on them, just minutes away from Ponyville. Already a number of ponies were worriedly looking at the sky and the coming clouds.
Dash sighed; the rest of the team could have gotten a start already, but were apparently relying on her to get the job done. Why hadn't Twilight told her it was important? Well, no matter, she figured. She was the best there was after all.
"I'm on it. I'll have this storm cleared up in ten seconds flat." Dash said with a grin. The stallion rolled his eyes, but she ignored him. She took to the air with such force that it sent up a thick cloud of dust around the other ponies.
"Okay Dash." she thought to herself. "Time to strut your stuff." she veered away from the storm. She couldn't just kick away something of this size, not in time. She needed strategy, she needed technique. So she began to circle the storm, picking up speed as she went. It was difficult to lap, but not too hard so long as she was extra quick. She wasn't used to making whirlwinds of this size, but knew what she was doing.
"Just gotta..." her vision blurred and she had to shake her head clear. At the speed she was going, it wasn't a particularly pleasant experience. She wobbled off course just enough to make her grit her teeth in annoyance. She'd need an extra lap to make up for that.
Focusing, Dash began to lap the cloud again and again, dragging the air along, changing its current. She began to whip the wind up, creating a wall of flowing air that corralled the storm in. When she was just short of creating a tornado, Dash implemented phase two of her plan.
When she was sure she was on the far side of the storm from Ponyville, she veered out of her circle and flared her wings. The drag would slow her down quickly but would also force a lot of air in behind her. She was dragging the whirlwind with her, at least a little. She let herself slow to a drop and began to fall. The storm was spinning around and around thanks to the near-whirlwind, and was beginning to change course, dragged away from Ponyville. Dash implemented phase three, first losing altitude quickly as she folded her wings in. Getting low enough to the ground to scare a lesser flier than she, she flared her wings and pumped them hard, keeping her momentum, so close that the grass tickled her tucked hooves. When she was back to the other side of the storm she veered up, doing a vertical u-turn. She was upside down as she headed for the clouds again. Being upside down didn't particularly bother her. What came next, however, was a bit of a headache.
Dash cocked one wing just slightly. That little imbalance was all she needed. She began a controlled spin around and around as she hit the storm. A pegasus didn't just pass through a storm cloud - after all they could walk on them, shape them, and kick them. She hit the storm hard, and spinning around like she was, all she had to do was buck her legs and clouds went flying off from the main storm in every direction. Her momentum helped her kick her way through, flinging clouds as she went. Once on the other side, she dropped out of the wind stream and looked up at her handiwork. The storm was cut clean in two by her path, and the two halves were spinning away from each other thanks to the shifted whirlwind. The two storms were headed away from each other and away from Ponyville, just as planned. Rainbow Dash yawned and nodded at the results. The smaller storms she had created were less stable, and would move farther faster. She could split them up some more to truly get rid of them, but decided that was enough. It would be easier to let them play themselves out. So Dash winged it back to Ponyville, noticing Twilight and Fluttershy chatting in the town square. Both ponies noticed her coming in.
"Great job Rainbow Dash. I knew you could do it." Twilight told her. Dash beamed.
"You were so...fast..." Fluttershy smiled.
"Ehhh, it was nothing big. I think the patrol owes me one though." Rainbow yawned again. "Now if you excuse me, I need a nap." she trotted off instead of taking flight, deciding to give her wings a rest.
"Boy, does that pony do anything other than nap? Well, besides...you know." Twilight shook her head, sparing a glance to the retreating storm.
"It's so funny." Fluttershy said softly, "She, um, was always up bright and early in camp."
"Huh?" Twilight blinked and looked over at the retreating form of Rainbow Dash. "Hmmm."
Applejack was so used to bucking apples that she really didn't have to think about what she was doing. In a single glance she could size up a tree, figure out where to hit it, and know exactly how much force to put into the kick. She wasn't much for contemplation, but her mind did tend to wander as she gazed at the morning light coming through the trees.
'Apple Bloom tried real hard yesterday t' help Big Mac with his chores," she thought, "Ah should let her pick out tonight's dinner. Ah wonder why Ah haven' seen Pinkie Pie in a couple days? Maybe Ah should bake her a pie or two. Nah, she's prob'bly got enough 'f that. Ah wonder if'n we could make apple smoothies. Grannie Smith wouldn't like noise none, that's for sure. Ah hope Apple Bloom got her all settled for her afternoon nap w'out hassle. Rainbow Dash is in this tree. Now is it three weeks until winter or-'
"Rainbow Dash!" Applejack called out in surprise, looking over her shoulder at the tree she was about to buck. Rainbow was in fact lying balanced on a lower branch, her left legs dangling over the edge, her head propped up by her right foreleg. She didn't respond to Applejack except to turn her head slightly, an ear twitching - she was fast asleep.
"Rainbow Dash!" Applejack called again, slightly cross at the sight. "What've Ah said about sleepin' on mah trees? Yur bending th' branch!" Rainbow still didn't respond. The earth pony snorted and eyeballed the pegasus pony for a moment. Then, shifting to the right, she gave the tree a swift kick.
"What the- woah!" Rainbow Dash woke up as she toppled off the branch. Before she could react, her short drop ended and she landed square on Applejack's back.
"Ooof." It was less a statement and more the wind being knocked out of her. She slid off of Applejack slowly, shooting the earth pony a disgruntled glare.
"What'd you do that for?" she asked, visibly irritated as she rubbed her side. Applejack just returned her glare, ire for ire.
"Honestly Dash. Ah don' understand how anypony as lazy as you could still be half as good a flier, or athlete."
"I'm not lazy!" Rainbow Dash said, her response interrupted by a yawn. "I just had a late night."
"Oh? Doin' what exactly?" Applejack asked, clearly not buying Rainbow's words for a moment. Rainbow Dash blinked at her, her eyes widening. She finally looked fully awake.
"Uh...I gotta go." Rainbow Dash said quickly. Applejack just shook her head as the cyan pony took off right away, finding a gap between the apple trees into the clear sky.
"That pony wouldn' know hard work if'n it saddled her up an' rode her like a show pony" Applejack said to herself before getting back to work.
"How hard is it for a pony to get a little peace and quiet?" Rainbow Dash muttered as she flew away from Sweet Apple Acres. It seemed she hadn't made it home this time, and was paying the price. Her sides still ached - Applejack was definitely not a soft landing spot. Dash couldn't imagine what had the earth pony so upset. So she had napped in a tree? She couldn't fall asleep on a stray cloud lest she wanted to end up halfway to Appleloosa by the time she woke up.
"Hey Rainbow Dash!" A peppy voice called out below her, interrupting her thought process. Rainbow Dash sighed at the sound of it. She knew that voice, she knew its owner, and she knew that her instinct to run wasn't actually going to help. Her entire body collapsed in tired defeat, hanging from her wings. Couldn't she just get home?
"Hello Pinkie." she said flatly, looking below her.
"Hey, hey!" Pinkie bounced excitedly on the road below, eyes straight up at Dash. What, did she think she could jump up to Rainbow's height? She certainly looked ready to try. "I've been looking for you! I have an amazing, spectacular, pinktastic idea for a prank! We're gonna need five gallons of paint, a raincloud, and-"
"Pinkie, not now." Rainbow Dash complained. "I'm too tired to play."
"Aww, but Dash, I can't do it without you."
"Maybe later." Dash replied, anything to get to her bed. Pinkie Pie stopped following her, but didn't look deterred or upset.
"Okie dokie lokie! Later!" she said. With a wide Pinkie Pie smile she turned around and trotted off towards town. Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes. Great, there went her afternoon. She dragged herself through the air to get home and finally get some decent shuteye.
That afternoon Pinkie Pie giggled in the bushes that grew just beyond Rarity's shop, while above Rainbow Dash hovered over Rarity's door, a wide smile on her face. This had turned out to not be a half-bad idea, especially for Pinkie Pie, and Dash was a bit more enthusiastic about it now that she had gotten some rest. She positioned a small rain cloud over the door to the shop, lined it up, and gave Pinkie Pie the signal. The pink earth pony nodded and rushed to Rarity's door. She rang the doorbell, and was back in the bushes before it finished its chime, trying to stifle her giggling.
"Hello?" Rarity asked, stepping outside and looking around. Rainbow Dash kicked the storm cloud right away. With a small clap of thunder it released its payload upon the unsuspecting unicorn. However, instead of simply getting Rarity wet, the storm cloud released a torrent of lime green down upon her. Rarity shrieked as she was turned green from horn to hoof.
"Wwaaaaah!" The vain unicorn began to cry and ran straight inside, the door slamming shut behind her. Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash turned to each other, and then simultaneously burst out in laughter. Dash leaned against the cloud as she clutched her sides, rolling around and laughing up a riot.
"That was a good one Dash!" Pinkie Pie called from below as she tried to calm her giggles. Dash grinned at her and pushed herself off the cloud. She decided to just shove it away for now, figuring it'd break apart in the sun; it was spent anyway so there was no real harm.
"Yeah, it was. Hey Pinkie, you sure this stuff comes off?" she looked at the retreating cloud. Just in case...
"Yeah, I mean, pretty sure." Pinkie Pie replied with a tilted head. Rainbow Dash shrugged and lowered herself to the ground, landing next to Pinkie Pie. The two began to walk away from the Boutique lest they get caught by an enraged unicorn, still occasionally giggling.
"Okay. Hey, let's go grab something to eat." Rainbow suggested as they walked away. Pinkie Pie nodded enthusiastically and they made a beeline for Sugarcube corner.
A few minutes later, Rainbow was smiling and sipping a hay smoothie, sitting alone at a table in Sugarcube Corner. Pinkie Pie had been going to join her, but Mrs. Cake had dragged her away as soon as they had come in; something about an entire day's stock of cupcakes going missing before they had even opened shop. The Corner was moderately busy, but Dash had managed to grab a table near a window where she could ponywatch. She noticed an exasperated-looking Twilight Sparkle enter the shop, look around, and head straight for Dash. Rainbow waved a wing at her, signaling that Twilight had her attention, but didn't stop drinking her smoothie.
"Hello Rainbow Dash." Twilight greeted her, her tone unusually curt. "Having a good time?"
"Just fine, thanks for asking." Dash said after releasing her straw, "What's up with you?"
"Oh nothing, nothing, I was actually having a good time studying. Until I got a call from Rarity a few minutes ago, that is. Apparently somepony managed to dump green paint all over her from a raincloud." Twilight said, stressing 'somepony'. "And it's not coming off."
"What?!" Rainbow startled. "Uh, uh, wow...that sucks for her..."
"Looks like whoever it was got your wings too." Twilight told her flatly. Rainbow Dash craned her neck and found that her wings did in fact have a smearing of green paint over them. She thought back to when she leaned against the cloud while laughing at Rarity.
"Ooops..." Rainbow Dash said.
"Pinkie Pie said the paint would come off!" she blurted, knowing the jig was up.
"And you didn't think to check?" Twilight asked with a stamp of her hooves. Her tone was that of an angry mother, and Rainbow Dash cowered just like a scolded child before her. Her wings folded tight and her ears flattened, and she just kicked at the ground with a guilty look.
"Look Dash, we can put up with pranks from Pinkie and you. They're usually even fun! But thanks to you, I need to spend my afternoon figuring out how to get paint out of a coat and mane. We can only hope there's no permanent damage either. Meanwhile Rarity is devastated! Not to mention she can't open shop like this. She's a busy pony Dash!"
"I didn't mean it!" Dash replied, defensive but too guilty to really argue back. She looked up at Twilight with wide rose-colored eyes. "Look, we, we screwed up, okay? I'm sorry."
"Good. And that means you can help me and Rarity fix this mess."
"Me? What can I do?"
Several minutes later, Rainbow Dash found herself with brushes on her front hooves, scrubbing away at Rarity's floor and the green hoofprints all over it. She hadn't seen Rarity yet, let alone spoken to her - Twilight had brought her here, provided the cleaning equipment, and got her to work.
"What about Pinkie Pie!" Rainbow Dash complained as she got started, half not wanting to do the work herself and half just wanting to see Pinkie Pie punished for getting her into this mess. Some afternoon this turned out to be.
"Oh don't worry." Twilight responded, watching Dash get to work. "Who do you think will be going through a library's worth of books with me, as well as gathering supplies?"
Rainbow Dash sighed. It hardly seemed fair, but she wasn't going to argue with Twilight in this mood. Apparently satisfied that Dash was really going to help, Twilight nodded and headed out of the boutique. Dash waited for her to leave and then looked over the floors. Tracks from the front door to the back room, out of there and across to what Dash was pretty sure was the bathroom, bathroom to the next door over, her workroom. From there they went back to the first room and finally out the front door. Dash sighed at the amount of running around Rarity had managed to do.
"Okay. Come on! No problem for the fastest pony in Equestria!" she told herself. She splashed the brushes on her hooves in the bucket's soapy water. Looking at the tracks in front of her, she walked over and lined herself up near the door with one set of prints. She crouched down like at the starting line to the race, wriggled her bottom as she looked down the prints, and took off across the shop, using her wings to propel her forward, keeping the brushes in contact with the floor at all times.
It was several minutes and a couple dozen dashes across the floor that Rainbow realized that the paint wasn't going anywhere fast. It hardly looked like she had done anything at all except make the floor wet. Frowning at the stained floor, she headed over to one pair of prints and gave them a serious scrubbing for about thirty seconds, seeing what came of it. To her annoyance and surprise, the hoofprints didn't budge. Thirty seconds more, she decided. Pristine green hoofprints mocked her when she was done. Getting frustrated, Rainbow gritted her teeth and pumped her forelegs back and forth, back and forth, building up blurring speed and friction. After a full five minutes of this she stopped. The hoof prints were faded and flecked now, but still there, still mocking her. She let out a groan.
The afternoon dragged on as Dash worked. She took the bucket to a set of hoof prints, spent as long as it took on those prints to clean them off, and lacklusterly picked up the bucket to move a few inches forward and repeat the process. She made it less than halfway across the floor in an hour, and that was just on one line of many, albeit the longest one, stretching nearly the length of the shop. After about an hour, Twilight came by with her saddlebags full. Rainbow Dash looked up, but the purple mare walked right past, knocked on the bedroom door, and entered. She left the room after several minutes with her bags emptier. Dash gave a sullen glance as Twilight exited and caught her eye. The magician's gaze softened, but with a shake of her head she continued out the door.
As time went on, Rainbow began to look out the window more and more. She barely noticed Twilight come and leave twice more, nor did she notice it when the back door opened and a moment later the bathroom door opened and shut. She began to pensively watch the sun go down more than she watched her work, trying to rush things along as she scrubbed.
"Late for something, dear?" a high, slightly sarcastic voice asked. Rainbow jumped, turned around, and found Rarity stepping out of the bathroom covered in towels. Her hair was wrapped up too, but Dash could see a little Rarity's pale white coat, looking quite ruffled up but at least its natural color.
"Rarity!" Dash nearly ran up to the unicorn, before remembering just what had gotten her so excited to see Rarity's coat. She lowered her head, her ears going flat.
"I'm really sorry Rarity. We, uh...screwed up."
"Yes, I'm aware." Rarity said, sounding distracted. Instead of looking at Rainbow she looked over the floor, inspecting it for a moment and then sighing. Finally she turned to Dash "You've done an exemplary job Dash, and I know this was mostly unintentional. Besides, it isn't easy for you to stay cooped up for so long, is it?"
"I... I'll finish the floors... if you want..." Rainbow replied, biting her own tongue. She tried to put on a brave smile, but it wavered. Rarity just tilted her head slightly, giving her a curious look.
"And here it looked like you had some place to be."
"Well...no, of course not." Rainbow said. "I mean, it's just late and junk."
"Mhmm." Rarity arched an eyebrow. "Well, either way, you're free to go. I'll see about hiring cleaners in the morning, I think you've been punished enou-"
"ThanksRaritygottagorealsorrybye!" Rainbow Dash was out the door in seconds. Rarity shook her head and went back into her room.