Chapter One: A Downward Spiral
Disclaimer: I don't own MLP:FiM.
Cloudsdale in winter. It was truly something that every Pegasi had to experience, at least once. It was a time when the ground miles below the city's borders disappeared from view, the massive cities and vast green fields replaced by a thick fluffy blanket of pure white clouds.
Granted it did make travel to the ground a tad... tricky, but then again that was the point. Because for three months of the year the Pegasi effectively owned the skies. While the Earth Ponies, Unicorns and other races could only enjoy the clouds, the Ponies of Cloudsdale had the real sky all to themselves.
It was a time of celebration for all Cloudsdale natives, The Pegasi Migration Celebration. Every year around this time, Cloudsdale played host to a great many parties and get togethers from Pegasi from all across Equestria and beyond. Some called it a testament to how far the Pegasi had come, from their early years of their flocks huddling in nests on the ground to actually living in the sky. Whilst others, mostly disgruntled ground ponies, thought of it as the Pegasi believing themselves above the other races.
In reality it was more of a salute to how hard each Pegasi had worked to make their city and sky what it was each and every day, an honoring of the part each Pegasi played, be they studying in school, busying themselves around their home or earning a living in whichever career they have chosen, no contribution was considered too small. It was a time every Pegasi enjoyed, but in Cloudsdale they took it to another level. Streamers, balloons and banners dotted every street and sign, beautiful kites were flown and parties were held at least every other day.
Many races believe that it is the Earth Ponies who value hard work and cooperation above all things and in many respects that was true, however the same could easily be said about Pegasi; As the famous Hippogriff zoologist 'Chancy Vanderhoofen' once stated,
"While it is clear zat most Pegasi exhibit flock behaviour similar to their Avian cousins, it vood not be out of zee realm of possibility zat they have more in common with zee Apis mellifica, otherwise known as zee 'Honey Bee'. As can be seen from their behavior within their flocks and communities, they follow a strict hierarchy, with each member working towards zee good of zee whole..."
And of course each Pegasus's contribution was appreciated and well rewarded.
However, for the Pegasi that either made no contribution or had brought trouble and shame to their flock or community, life was nothing short of miserable.
To bring shame to ones flock or to play no part in its growth, to do nothing... That was unacceptable! It was akin to refusing to fly or being afraid of heights, the punishment for both being total banishment from the flock. At times Pegasi foals had been outright abandoned because of this. But that was a rare occurrence nowadays, there had been reports of this every few years or so, but that was more often than not due to radical Pegasi traditionalists. Yet on the other hoof, that was simply the Pegasi way. To some it may seem unfair but really nothing could be done. Intelligence and societies could change, but basic instinct and genes, that was something else entirely. It only adds further proof to the 'Bee' theory when you take into account that, centuries ago, a disgraced member of the flock would have been beaten to death by the other wingmates, family or not.
To a Pegasi, losing ones flock was similar to losing a part of themselves. They feel a sense of unyielding personal loss. A flock wasn't merely a group of close Ponies, It was a tightly knit unit of trust, understanding and love. Some Pegasi fortunate enough could possibly find acceptance within other flocks, or similar groups with members of other races on the ground. But to others, the very act of losing their flock could prove too much to bare.
One such Pegasi sat motionless on her haunches, inside the large and seemingly endless hallways and lock ups that formed the Cloudsdale Self-Storage depot. Inside her locked storage locker/ make shift living accommodations, the aquamarine Pegasus known as 'Lightning Dust' sat shifting through boxes of old photographs and papers. The walls were enchanted of course to prevent both loss of possessions and danger to the ponies below. Mostly the box in front of her contained foalhood scribbles and ramblings and of course her treasured foalhood friend, a stuffed blue Pegasi plush with a white mane and tail. She hadn't much room for sentimentality right now and yet the sight of her soft stuffed friend still managed to bring a smile to the mares muzzle, however brief.
Her attention was momentarily drawn to a snapshot of herself, back when she was a filly on Nightmare Night. Little filly Lightning Dust stood tall and proud, wings open and saluting the camera in her hoof-made Wonderbolt costume. Lightning wiped a stray tear from the corner of her eye; her memories brought her no comfort, but to a disgraced Pegasi, memories were all she had left.
"You sure had a lotta potential girl" she said softly, carefully placing the picture back in the box.
It was a ritual that Lightning Dust took part in each and every day. Get up out of her mint green sleeping bag, use what little money she had for the day to eat from the food cart outside, clean herself up by diving through rain clouds and then cap the day off by staring at her boxed up possessions. It was a process that she followed day after day and one that would most likely continue until the depot manager finally wised up and she was inevitably thrown out. But despite everything, she could not bring herself to go out and find another job. Thanks in no small part to how her previous career had ended, nopony in Cloudsdale or any Pegasi in general would hire her. A disgraced and banished Pegasi was one thing, but the severity behind why it had happened had been so immense, so monumentally bad, that chances were most Ponies in Equestria would know. From the many different headlines, articles, gossip columns and tabloid trash, she wouldn't be surprised if even Unicorns and Earth Ponies turned her away.
Pushing aside her box of foalhood memories, she pulled forward a large plastic tub. Inside lay a great many trophies, medals, ribbons and certificates. A sum total of her life's work. All her achievements, all of her victories, all mere stepping stones towards an even greater challenge... Acceptance into the Wonderbolts.
She could still remember the look of unabashed pride on her flocks faces when she told them she'd been accepted into the Wonderbolt Academy. Her father had been especially proud. Lightning chuckled as she remembered how her father had spent the following week bragging to each and every one of his many friends and colleagues at the weather factory, and of course news among Pegasi spread fast...
Both the good and the bad.
Everything at the academy had been going so well. Lightning Dust held a steady position as top of her unit and had for a time been in the running for early approval and advancement. She'd mastered midair recovery, aced tactical flight planning and even Spitfire, one of Lightning's great idols, had expressed interest in adding her to the Wonderbolts roster.
Things had been going so well.
Lightning Dust's already downtrodden and depressive state took another sharp descent as her eyes fell upon what everypony would consider the black mark on her otherwise spotless list of accomplishments.
It was a letter. But not just any letter, it was 'The' Letter. This sole, individual, particular piece of paper, may as well have been her death certificate. This letter had been the last tiny pebble that set in motion the avalanche that had become her life.
From: Princess Celestia Sol of Equestria, Commander-in-Chief Spitfire of the Equestrian Army First Response Battalion, The Department of Royal Affairs Canterlot, EQ Name: Lightning Dust Date: 08/03/1007 AN Cadet Number: 23 Subject: Notification of Dishonorable Discharge from the Equestrian Army First Response Battalion Training Academy.
Reference: (a) WB-TM PG-1187 You are hereby notified of your immediate discharge from the Equestrian Army First Response Battalion Training Academy and the Equestrian Military per paragraph 5200.1 of reference (a) by reasons of Reckless Endangerment of your fellow Cadets, and acts of brash negligence which resulted in placing Princess Celestia Sol's student, Arch-Mage Twilight Sparkle and the remaining Elements of Harmony in mortal peril.
The bases of this separation come after several revealing letters as well as a thorough report to both Commander-in-Chief Spitfire and Princess Celestia from the desk of the Arch-Mage and the Elements of Harmony, detailing in depth their own opinions as to your judgement, sense of self worth and absolute disregard for all others with the exception of oneself.
You have the right to request a hearing before a Royal Administrative Board should you wish prior to a waiting period of six to eight weeks. Per paragraph 6595 of reference (a).
Signed: Commander-in-Chief Spitfire and The Department of Royal Affairs Canterlot (Stamped with the Royal Canterlot Crest)
The tears fell fresh and fast down the ruined mares cheeks. Tossing the now crumpled up letter back into the tub, she clutched her blue Pegasus plushie close, as though it were a life preserver in a rough and relentless sea. What would the unfortunate mare do when she was finally kicked to the curb? Many nights for the past seven months, in between the night terrors and crying herself to sleep she'd considered taking the plunge. Just like so many other disgraced Cloudsdale Pegasi, Lightning Dust contemplated simply tying her wings to her side, stepping over the edge and letting Elysium take her. It would be so easy. She could close her eyes, feel the wind rushing through her mane, at least she would leave the mortal realm experiencing a whisper of something she loved, one last time.
That was the part that hurt her the most. That after all she had endured, after all of her hard work had been reduced to nothing, after her own flock had deserted her and even after her reputation and good name had been completely destroyed... These Ponies, correction, these monsters, this so called 'Council of Friendship' still considered themselves to be in the right, that they were the heroes and that she was nothing but a harbinger of chaos and despair.
And it all started because of one Pony, the one Pony who couldn't stand not being Leadpony, the Pony who went out of her way to go behind her back and complain to 'Her Hero' Spitfire, the one Pony at the academy who once she would gladly have considered a friend, Rainbow Dash!
Holding her only remaining friend close, Lightning's thoughts drifted back... back to the day that would forever remain burned into her memory.
She had been summoned to the Commanders office for whatever reason, at the time she'd assumed it was because of her record breaking cloud clearing technique. Admittedly it hadn't gone quite as well as she'd planned, but that was why she was here though, to learn and improve. That was always her philosophy in life, 'You Learn, You Adapt or You'll Get Left Behind' always gotta stay ahead, can't see what's ahead when there's others blocking your way.
To her left was the door to Commander Spitfire's office. Lightning Dust wasn't sure why she would be called here only to have to wait, but since it was a direct summons from Spitfire, she knew the Commander must have a good reason.
To her right, a few doors down the empty hallway, she could hear talking from inside the break room. There were two male voices, and since this was the higher ups offices it was most likely two of Spitfire's guard Ponies. Whatever it was they were chatting about, it sounded important.
"... The nerve of that Rainbow mare, can you believe she just barged into the Commander's office like that?"
Lightning's ears pricked at the mention of the Commander. Somepony barged into her office, this was too important to ignore.
"I'll say dude, I've never seen Spitfire make that face before. First Recruit I've ever seen hoof in their badge..."
Somepony quit, not surprising really. Someponies weren't cut out for the Military life.
"... Well I don't get it, I mean it's great to have principles and the like, but who trades away a shot at the big leagues because they got a beef with somepony else..."
Lightning Dust was on the edge of her seat. Unlike most Pegasi, she'd never been one to gossip, but this conversation was sounding juicer than the fruit shakes they served in the mess hall.
"Well I heard it was cause some of her civilian friends got caught in that little twister out on the runway."
Lightning Dust froze. Friends? In a twister? Was this Rainbow Dash they were talking about?
"Wait, you saw it? There really was a tornado? I just thought that mare was full of hot air..."
'Rainbow Dash quit?' That didn't make any sense. Sure she seemed a little on the jealous side when they met, but she'd never have pegged Rainbow for a quitter. Nah, it couldn't be. Had to be one of the other Cadets, or at least she hoped.
The sound of a door opening to her left snapped Lightning out of her thoughts. The neutral looking face of Spitfire emerged from the door way, a silent hoof beckoning her inside and Lightning Dust was quick to follow. Inside the office blinds were half closed, giving the room an interrogation chamber like feel.
Spitfire, hard as nails as she was, never enjoyed this part of the job. This particular incident came as a nastier sting than the others. In almost all of her experiences with giving this type of news, it was usually down to Cadet incompetence or sometimes the fact that they just didn't have what it takes. But this time was different, this was Lightning Dust. The Wonderbolt Commander had seen what this mare was capable of multiple times, both at various athletic competitions and once at a mid-show race during a Wonderbolts Tour.
The new recruits had been here less than a week and already she'd had Lightning Dust pegged as a Wonderbolts hopeful.
And now, thanks in large part to a certain Rainbow-maned Pony's lofty connections, she now had to shatter this Pony's future.
Spitfire could only hope Lightning's flock would be understanding.
Spitfire took a seat, not at her desk but instead on one of the two cushions that faced her usual daily location. Spitfire was a mare who always dealt with her problems head on, not behind a heavy desk. Facing Lightning Dust she saw the pride in the Cadets eyes fade away, soon replaced by a look of growing unease. Forcing her doubts about this into the back of her mind, she spoke...
"At ease Cadet Lightning Dust. Before we begin I'd like to ask you a quick question. 'Whether we're performing for crowds of thousands or taking on an entire platoon of heavily armored Harpies, what is our primary concern outside of the mission objective?'"
The answer came easily to Lightning, she'd scoured the Wonderbolts training manual many times over.
"The primary concern of any Wonderbolt should be the safeguarding of any and all innocents within the immediate area, unless ordered otherwise by no less than three high ranking officers, ma'am"
"Give me three examples of these 'innocents'"
"That would include, Civilians, be they Equestrian or otherwise is unimportant. Captured enemies and/or enemy deserters and, of course, our fellow Wingponies." Said Lightning Dust. Though she didn't show it, Spitfire was fairly impressed, if she'd been sitting behind her desk she would have sworn Lightning Dust was reading that straight out of the training manual. This only made what would follow all the harder.
"That is correct. So tell me Cadet Lightning. When you created that tornado to clear the clouds away... Be honest, What was going through your head at the time?" Lightning Dust could feel the color draining from her face, she didn't like where this talk was going.
"Uhhh, I guess I was thinking that it would be the fastest and most efficient solution, Commander."
Spitfire glanced over at the silver Wingpony badge that lay abandoned on her desk, strengthening her resolve she continued.
"Indeed, for arguments sake, what do you personally believe the second most important concern during any mission or show should be?"
Lightning Dust didn't even need to think about this one.
"To always be aware of your surroundings, ma'am" Lightning said with pride.
"I see. So, when you created that tornado out there you were both, looking out for your Wingmates and observing your surroundings?"
The tension in the room at that moment could be cut with a knife. Lightning Dust in that instant had suddenly developed Claustrophobia.
"Allow me to answer that one for you... The answers no. No you were not. You were so focused on winning, that you ended up placing both yourself, your partner and a balloon full of Civilians in danger."
"B-but Commander Ma'am, I-I was only..." But Spitfire wouldn't let her finish.
"You were only trying to be your best. Lightning Dust, being the best means nothing... Abso-lutley Nothing! If you fail in your duty to safeguard the lives of both your squad mates and those unfortunate enough to be caught in the crossfire."
"It's not my fault... T-this is a restricted military training ground, those ponies shouldn't have been there. Civilians aren't allowed up here. A-and visitors aren't allowed until after the first month of basic training." Lightning Dust did her best to plead her case, but as she had known, especially after years of being a Wonderbolts fan, Spitfire had an answer for everything.
"Not if they're royalty,"
Lightning Dust's world came to a screeching halt. 'Royalty? Was one of those Ponies related to the Princesses? Oh buck, oh bucking buck is this bad!' She thought.
"The purple Unicorn in the group is none other than, Twilight Sparkle, Arch-Mage or Student if you will of Princess Celestia herself. As for the other Ponies, together they form the single greatest weapon the Equestrian Royal Family has at its disposal. The Elements of Harmony... If something had happened to any one of those mares. Equestria and it's people would have been left without their most powerful defense and Princess Celestia would have been on the war path, probably shutting 'us' down as well as taking any chance of a future away for both myself and you!" Spitfire appeared to look towards the window in contemplation, but really it was so she wouldn't have to watch the poor Pegasus tremble. Now more than ever, she was glad she kept a bottle of the hard stuff in her desk. She had a feeling she'd be needing it once she was alone again.
"I-I didn't know, it was an accident, I couldn't have known they'd be there, they had no reason to be there. Please, I'm sorry. All the other Cadets were way behind a-and I trusted my Wingpony to help with taking the tornado down. I didn't mean for this to happen."
"Hmmm, famous last words if I ever heard them. It saddens me to say this Cadet Lightning Dust, you are hereby placed on suspension from the Wonderbolt Academy and the Equestrian Military until a comity of officials from Canterlot have finished their investigation of what has occurred today and decide how best to proceed."
Lightning couldn't breath. 'This isn't happening, this can't really be happening'
"Guards" Spitfire called out. Not three seconds later, two stallions burst through the office door, very nearly taking it off its hinges. "Escort Cadet Lightning Dust to a holding room until I say otherwise and have somepony stall Cadet Rainbow Dash and her friends before they leave." The larger of the two guard Ponies made to remove a set of wing cuffs from his belt.
"Don't bother with those Mister Locke," Spitfire looked down at Lightning Dust's misty eyed face. Her true self momentarily breaking through her cold Commander self as she placed a comforting hoof on Lightning's hoof. "I guarantee she won't be any trouble".
The long wait in the holding room seemed to take a lifetime to Lightning Dust. All around the sterile white room, her thoughts bounced from wall to wall like a persistent echo. For the first time in forever, her future was uncertain. This wasn't something that could be excused as an accident, however true it was. She was essentially being accused of attempted Regicide. To someponies, attempted or accidental, even if it wasn't true, was as good as guilty. And the shame. Dear Celestia, the shame this would bring upon her flock if this got out. They'd disown her. Banish her even. And if word about this reached the other Pegasi in Cloudsdale. Her life would be completely destroyed.
In what amounted to around ten minutes, Lightning Dust was escorted from the building by the two guard Ponies and Spitfire herself. Try as she might, her apologies and pleads of what happened being 'an accident' fell on deaf ears. Ahead of the group stood Rainbow Dash and friends, the ones who despite everything Spitfire had said, still should not have been there... Especially only four days after opening day. Unless there was some crisis brewing somewhere that needed the Elements immediate attention, then they shouldn't have been there. There had to be someway she could use that in her defense, if it actually came to that.
As they moved closer and closer, Lightning could vaguely make out what they were saying. It took only five seconds for Lightning Dust to hate the pink one more than she already did.
"... I'm real sorry it didn't work out Dashie. And we came all this way to bring you this care package."
'What?' Lightning thought. Everything around her becoming mere white-noise except for this conversation.
"Thanks Pinks, but you could have just mailed it to me" said Rainbow Dash.
"Yeah I know, but it was taking soooo~ long I just couldn't wait... So we poofed up Twilight's balloon and came right here, and you were so surprised when we showed up and..."
'What?!' Lightning Dust screamed in her head to the point where her vision became dizzy and hazy. 'The reason my career, my hopes and dreams, my entire life being completely shattered... Is all because some sugar crazed Earth Pony was too impatient to wait for the mail!'
The Earth Pony with the hat and county accent spotted the group walking over.
"Uhhh Rainbow Dash, I think you got company" she said, pointing a hoof toward Spitfire.
"Rainbow Dash, how dare you storm out of my office without giving me a chance to respond! The Wonderbolts are looking for the best fliers in Equestria; you were right, being the best should never come at the expense of our fellow Ponies." Spitfire held her ground as best she could, she really didn't think the charges against Lightning Dust were as severe as Rainbow Dash made them out to be, accidents happened, even here, especially here. But if word of what happened here got back to the higher ups, including the Princesses back in Canterlot, both the Wonderbolts and Lightning Dust would be ruined. So, despite her best instincts, she had to keep Rainbow and the Elements as placated as possible.
"It's not just about pushing ourselves, it's about pushing ourselves in the right direction. You've shown the your capable of doing just that."
Spitfire turned to Lightning Dust and beckoned her over, Lightning's head hung low she begrudgingly did as Commander instructed. Looking up into her eyes, Lightning could swear behind those glasses and serious expression, there was a shimmer of something else. Regret maybe? But she couldn't be sure. Spitfire reached forward and literally tore Lightning's Leadpony badge from her uniform. Lightning chocked back a sob, she refused to appear weak in front of her idol. Because despite everything that had happened today, that's what the Commander was to her and had been for years.
As she was lead away, one thought did cross her mind. Why did Rainbow Dash get her Leadpony badge? That was the one part she couldn't understand.
Spitfire hated this. She hadn't meant to tear Lightning's uniform either, she was just desperate to end this as quickly as possible.
"You're no Wingpony Rainbow Dash, your a Leader." 'Good, the Arch-Mage and the Elements seem happy, If our luck holds out, maybe they won't tell Celestia about this. I'll say I put the Cadet on suspension, then if the comity approves, maybe I can bring Cadet Lightning back at Wingpony level and forget this day.'
"Now get up there and give me twenty!"
"Yes ma'am" Rainbow saluted with eager enthusiasm.
As Rainbow Dash took off into the sky with her fellow Cadets, two things weighed on the Commander's mind. One, that she desperately needed a glass of her special hard liquor and two, 'I should never have let somepony so close to the monarchy join the academy', That had been a huge risk on her part and it had blown up in her face. Now it was too late.
Lightning Dust watched as Rainbow Dash took off with the other Cadets right behind her, a look of pride plastered across her muzzle. Lightning didn't like it, she felt like there was something about all this that she was missing, that she wasn't being told.
"So that was her huh? The Rainbow Tornado herself." The guards talking brought Lightning Dust out of her trance.
"Heck yeah! The mare that left the boss pony speechless. Heck you think that was bad. You shoulda seen the look on her face when she came in the other day."
"I wasn't really paying attention"
"Meh I won't say nothing. But anywho, that Rainbow pony came in and said... heck, demanded that she be made Leadpony."
That part caught Lightning Dust's attention. Rainbow Dash went behind her back? When they were supposed to be friends.
"I guess someponies just think highly of themselves, still at least it didn't leave the boss lady banging her head against the wall like earlier."
Rainbow Dash 'Was' the Pony from earlier! Which means she'd gone behind Lightning's back twice, and this time she'd told on her. What did Rainbow think this was, the first day on the school yard?!
Looking up at the sky, a Rainbow trail shot across the sky.
'Why, Rainbow Dash?'
But now Lightning Dust knew the truth, here in this cold storage locker she'd pieced it all together. With the help of articles, a hoof full of books and some common sense, she'd figured it out.
Spitfire had done this to keep the Princesses happy and to keep Lightning out of any real trouble. And it hadn't worked.
The Commander couldn't have known that all of the Elements would write to Princess Celestia. Heck, Lightning had only found out about that from one published in the Cloudsdale Times from the Element of Generosity, after an incident at the Cloudsdale stadium.
Of course when the Princess had found out that her, precious student, had been in danger. She'd swiftly ordered that Lightning Dust be barred from ever returning. That the letters had been added by the Princess personally into the investigation and that they were the honest opinions of the Elements of Harmony and the Princess herself, despite being strictly opinions, for most was more than enough to convict. And when her flock found out, they were furious.
Lightning's flock weren't just die hard Pegasi traditionalists, but they were also serious loyalists to the Crown. To them, the word of the Princess was law.
Lightning refused to think about her flock again. She could still remember the screaming, the father trying to smash a lamp against her head for the embarrassment caused. Lightning had been the only one crying at her home on that day. Everypony else only offered abuse and in the case of her mother, she'd ignored Lightning as though she wasn't even there. Finally her father had managed to get a hoof around her mane and threw her out the front door, telling her to never darken their doorway with her banished self ever again.
Lightning Dust knew better than to return, if she hadn't been the first born of her flock, she was sure her father would have done far worse then a severe beating. Her subsequent abuse and attacks were things the tabloids neglected to mention.
Every article seemed hell bent on portraying her as a heartless villain. No comment on how the Princesses student and her friends had technically been illegally trespassing. No mention of her character up until that point. No mention of the abuse she'd endured at the hooves of every pegasus because of it. Just that Lightning was a monster and that the Princess made a good decision in barring her return.
Some articles claimed Spitfire was involved in that decision, but Lightning Dust refused to believe it. Spitfire was a Pegasi, she knew what would happen if the news got out about the how and why.
No. Deep in her heart, she knew the truth.
This was all Rainbow Dash's fault.
Rainbow Dash had gone behind her back twice to become Leadpony. Rainbow Dash was the reason the Princesses bucking student and the Elements of bucking Harmony had been there. Rainbow Dash had forced Spitfire into an Ultimatum, she goes or I do. Rainbow Dash had gotten her own way and yet she still wrote to Princess Celestia. As a Pegasus she must have known what would happen.
Something inside Lightning Dust snapped.
"Rainbow Bucking Dash!"
With a blast of speed that would give Fleetfoot the shakes, Lightning kicked her box of awards into a stack of her other boxed possessions causing the whole lot to come crashing down. Several trophies fell out, hitting the floor with a metallic 'clang'.
"It's not fair! IT'S NOT FAIR!"
Tears flew fast and free from Lightning's eyes as she launched one of her fallen trophies against the cloud wall. Lightning lifted another random box above her head before slamming it repeatedly in to the ground. The shattered glass sound coming from inside went unnoticed by Lightning Dust, her own anger trumped all rationality, right now she just wanted to let loose and break anything that got in her way.
Lightning's attention was drawn to her plushie lying haphazardly on the floor. To anypony with eyes, it was still the same blue Pegasus with a white mane and tail. Maybe it had something to do with her emotions at the time, or perhaps Lightning's depression ran deeper than she thought, but to her the plush toy had suddenly taken on the unmistakable appearance of Rainbow Dash.
Wide eyed, Lightning Dust slowly walked over to her stuffed friend, a disturbingly calm expression on her face.
Lightning's face switched from neutral to blind fury in a second. Tossing the toy into the corner with her teeth, Lightning leapt to the air and landed with full force on the doll.
"Rainbow Bucking Dash. You miserable waste of blood and feathers!" Lightning yelled, as she repeatedly stomped on the toy with her fore hooves.
"You. Stole. My. Bucking. Future!"
Lightning ripped the doll off the ground a second time and tossed it across the length of the lockup. She was more than eager to do it again, until she noticed something lying on the floor. During her rage fueled spaz attack, one of the plushie's wings had been torn off, and there it was, this little blue wing, ripped away from its owner like it was nothing... Just like how Rainbow had stolen her chance at the Wonderbolts, Lightning had torn away her foalhood friend's chance of ever being played with again, as she watched the cotton seep out the exposed tear on the doll.
The Pegasus felt regret instantly, tears welling up in her eyes as she dashed over to her wounded friend, picked up the wing with her teeth. Lightning didn't own a sowing kit so any chance she had of fixing the doll was slim to none. All she could do was her friend close and weep into its soft fur.
"I-I'm sorry... I didn't mean it. It's not your fault." Lightning Dust was in such a state that she wasn't sure if she was saying this to the doll, or subconsciously to herself.
Carefully using her teeth, Lightning removed the other wing and dropped it on the floor beside her. Tearfully she looked the toy in the button eyes and moved some of it's once again white mane out of the way.
"Well, looks like neither of us can join the Wonderbolts now."
Lightning wasn't sure how much time had passed, minutes? hours? She couldn't tell. Through her bloodshot eyes, Lightning sparsely recalled the long walk through the empty hall to the clouds edge outside. Around her wing stems, a pair of cuffs forced her wings to stand straight.
"They'll miss me," Lightning whimpered to herself, taking one final glance at her once beloved home. "They'll all miss me!"
A glance over the edge through a small gap in the clouds, revealed the shrouded ground miles below. Several small dots of light shone in multiple directions, most likely a town or village of sorts.
Lightning Dust's breath inhaled and exhaled between shaky intervals. A cold steam fled her dry lips, as fresh tears matted her once pristine coat.
What was the point of going on? When the world as a whole was so dead set against her. The dream was over! Her Dream... was over! The was nothing left. Her saving were gone. Nopony would hire her. What else was there? To live on the streets, begging for bits until she either froze or starved? Never! She would not let those ponies win! To see her at her lowest, she would at least rob them of that!
All that remained, the one solid undeniable truth, waiting for her at the end of the decimated grief stricken road that was her life, fore-hooves open wide like a old friend, was the grim spectre of death herself. The same spirit that would one day strike down all those who'd harmed her. Princess Celestia.
Princess Twilight and her friends.
All those who'd turned her away and assaulted her.
And Rainbow Dash! She would burn in Tartarus for all eternity for driving her to this. For taking any and all options she had left!
Lightning didn't believe Tartarus would claim her soul as well... she couldn't. What so-called 'divine' entity would condemn a pony to eternal torment because their life became too miserable to cope? It was a small reassurance, but it was all she had left.
Who knew, perhaps somepony would be waiting for her. With a warm embrace.
Like an old friend.
'That would be nice.' Lightning thought, a small smile spread across her muzzle.
The gap in the clouds swallowed Lightning Dust whole. Immediately the feeling of sheer weightlessness spread through the aqua mare's small body, like a packed jar of butterflies had opened inside her.
Lightning smiled wider than she had in such a long time.
It was over... she was free. She was finally free.
Happy Hour had, at long last, been brought to a clean and relatively complaint free end. Tuesday nights were the worst. Berry Punch knew this to be fact. Mondays were the miserable back to work, time to put your game face on days. Saturdays were the busiest, but at least that meant she made more money. But Tuesdays? No thank you. Come Tuesday, everypony had settled back into their respective jobs and were faced with the inevitability of another long arduous week at their soul crushing jobs.
Well, not those who were self employed...
'Those lucky S.O.B's.' thought Berry, as she threw on her imported black leather jacket. The other ponies didn't know what it was made from and the bar owner wasn't about to tell them.
Drunkenly, Berry fumbled around in her pockets for the keys to the bar. Situated on the outskirts of Ponyville, 'Berry's Wine Cellar' stood as one of the key tourist attractions in all of Ponyville. Right up there with, 'Vinyl's Club', 'Sugarcube Corner' and 'The Princess's Castle'.
'But mine's the best.' Smiling to herself at one upping her own intoxicated subconscious, Berry locked up her pride and joy for the night and braced herself for the cold walk home, as well as the inevitable stumbles and falls that would surely follow.
The bar tender hadn't taken more than a few hoof steps forward when a heart stopping crash yanked her out of her stupor. Twirling on the spot at a pace that would give even the most talented figure-skater the shakes, Berry's jaw dropped. A miniature mushroom cloud of dust rose from an unseen area of her roof, along with the sounds of splintering wood and once mighty support beams now struggling against the inevitable.
Frozen to the spot, her mind already throwing together elaborate ways in which her insurance would likely attempt to screw her over this. As well as how much damage was likely awaiting her inside. One thought found a way to slip through the proverbial cracks.
'I really, really, Bucking Hate Tuesdays!'