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Great Expectations · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
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The Princess's Own

“Come on, Twi, it’ll be awesome!”

“Rainbow…” Princess Twilight Sparkle sighed. “This sounds like another one of those ideas you haven’t thought through at all. And besides, I thought you wanted to join the Wonderbolts. What happened to that?”

Rainbow Dash paused. “I decided you needed me more than I needed the ‘Bolts,” she eventually said.

Twilight raised an eyebrow, not believing for a moment that that was the entire story. “And this has nothing to do with your wanting to be the best in whatever group you’re in, and thinking it would be easier if you started your own?”

“I’m telling you, this is something you need,” Dash insisted.

“Really,” Twilight said, unimpressed. “You want to explain that to me?”

“Sure, sure,” Dash said. “Okay, right now, when ponies think of you, what do they think? They know you’re super-powerful, and that you were Princess Celestia’s student, and yeah, maybe the Elements come up every now and then. But a lot of them also still think you’re an egghead with no social skills and not a lot of actual experience, and they probably think you’re going to crash and burn on this whole princessing thing. And especially in the press, most ponies don’t know you very well and don’t know what to think about you. So they’re going to go off of what they hear, and if what they hear is that you don’t know what you’re doing or that you’re not ‘suited to be a princess of this great country’ or what have you, that’s what they’re going to say.”

“And so how is sponsoring a new stunt-flying team supposed to help me?” Twilight asked.

Dash grinned. “Well, it shows that you’re interested in things that the common pony cares about. The last time the Wonderbolts did a show that wasn’t sold out, my parents hadn’t even met, so there’s obviously a lot of interest from the public, which means there’s a market for it. If you come to the shows, it shows you care about the things you give money to and want to see them do well.”

“Shouldn’t that be implied?” Twilight asked, confused. “I mean, if I’m supporting them, shouldn’t that mean I care?”

Dash shook her head. “You’d think that,” she said, “but, you know, Blueblood likes spending money for the sake of being seen spending money. At least, that’s what Rarity says.” She rolled her eyes at the memory of Rarity’s old crush, which had since turned into contempt. “Anyway, you going out in public and being seen at the shows also means more ponies get a chance to see you, talk to you, get to know you and how awesome you are.”

Twilight started to say something, but Dash cut her off. “Plus, if you open it up to griffons, that makes it an international team and shows that you’re ‘committed to peaceful relations and friendship with our foreign neighbors’ or something like that. Did you know that the Wonderbolts have never had a griffon as a member?”

“No,” Twilight admitted, “but I thought this wasn’t about one-upping them.”

“When did I say that?” Dash asked. “Okay, maybe it is, a little bit, but come on. It’d be a great thing for you to do, for so many reasons that have nothing to do with that.”

Twilight thought about what Dash had said. It was true, she hadn’t actually done much as a princess of Equestria, and this was certainly something she could do. “I’m impressed,” she eventually said. “You sound like you’ve actually thought this through, and put some effort into coming up with why it’s a good idea.”

Dash rubbed the back of her neck. “I may have talked to Rarity about this.”

That was unexpected. “Really?” Twilight said. “Rarity? Why Rarity?”

“’Cause she knows how to sell things, and she told me this was going to be something I really needed to sell you on.” Dash flew down and looked Twilight in the eyes. “Look, Twi, I really do want this to be a thing, for… mostly unselfish reasons. Just… can you tell me you’ll at least think about it?”

Twilight looked at Dash. She was earnest, there was no doubt about that, and she wasn’t really acting like she was trying to prank anyone. There was no glimmer in her eye to suggest ulterior motives, at least not beyond the ones she’d already failed to deny. “All right, Dash,” she said. “I’ll see what I can do.”

Yes!” Dash shot up to the vaults of the ceiling. “When I tell her about this, Gilda’s so gonna want to be part of it, and—”

“Wait, wait, wait,” Twilight interrupted. “Gilda? Gilda the griffon? Have you heard from Gilda since I came to Ponyville, except for that one time she showed up?”

Rainbow Dash froze up in midair. “Uhm…” she hedged, sounding like a foal with their hoof caught in the cookie jar. Gravity chose that moment to reassert itself, and Dash fell to the throne room floor in an undignified heap.

“That’s about what I thought,” Twilight said, shaking her head. “What, were you just going to tell her and hope she wanted to join you? If she hasn’t talked or even written to you, she might not be that interested in joining up.”

“She’ll go along with it, I know she will,” Dash said, sounding like a pony who desperately wanted her statement to be true but wasn’t actually sure.

Twilight looked down at her friend. “Talk to her. If she tells me she’s interested, I’ll try to make something happen… but I can’t promise anything.”

“...So, what do you say? You in?” Dash asked her onetime friend.

It had taken Dash close to a week to track down Gilda. Getting the time off from managing Ponyville’s weather had been simple enough, since she’d had plenty of vacation saved up and there wasn’t anything happening in the foreseeable future that they really needed her for. All she’d needed to do there had been to give Thunderlane the upcoming schedule. But even though she’d stayed over at Gilda’s home once or twice during Junior Speedsters, she’d barely remembered where Gilda’s parents lived, and it was no sure thing that they were still there or that Gilda was still living with them.

As it happened, the parents hadn’t moved out, even though their daughter had. They’d told Dash that the last they’d heard from Gilda, she was back in the Old Country, doing some mind-numbingly tedious paper-pushing job that she absolutely hated. The transoceanic flight to the Griffon Lands from Equestria hadn’t really been something Dash wanted to do on her own, so she’d caught an airship out of Fillydelphia. Once it landed, she’d gone straight to the nearest post office and tried to get them to tell her where Gilda was living these days; after much arguing and being run around town, she finally found someone who could at least tell her where Gilda worked.
She’d gone to the office, surprised Gilda by showing up completely uninvited, and offered to take her somewhere for a drink or three. Gilda had taken her up on it, saying she knew a bar just a couple of blocks away, and over a couple of Lion’s Tails, Dash had told her that she wanted to start a new stunt-flying team with herself and Gilda as the featured performers.

“Dash…” Gilda looked up from her beer and into Rainbow’s eyes. “How long has it been since we saw each other? Four years? And you really think you can just walk back into my life like everything’s fine? Like we’re still best friends at Junior Speedsters, and you haven’t been spending all that time with your new pals?” Gilda looked like she was having physical difficulty forcing the last two words through her beak. “I’ve moved on, Dash.” She slumped forwards onto the table. “And I thought you had, too.”

“What? No!” Dash said. “I never wanted to run you out of town! I just didn’t want you treating my other friends like something the cat dragged in. You were the one who made it a choice between you and them.” She sighed. “Look, G, I know you. Or at least I used to. You loved flying, almost as much as I did. You’d have jumped on this chance, and you wouldn’t have thought twice about it. And now I see you working for The Mare? Come on, G, this isn’t you. And you know it.”

“Do I?” Gilda asked. “I’m not so sure anymore.” She took another swig of her drink. “You know how after Junior Speedsters, we kinda lost touch with each other?”


“I don’t know about you, but I kinda lost touch with everyone else, too. I told myself it didn’t matter, that they were all lame and they weren’t worth my time anyway. But then when I went to see you and you had your other friends… well, I’m not gonna lie, that hurt. I thought you were just throwing me away.” Gilda swirled the beer in her mug a few times and stared down into it. “And then after a few days, I thought about what you said. ’Cause… you were pretty much my last friend that I hadn’t already driven off, and, well… what was I gonna do?”

“How about making some new friends?” Dash asked. She lifted Gilda’s head up and forced the griffon to meet her gaze. “I don’t know how much you get Equestrian news over here, but back home, I’m kind of a big deal. I mean, no lie, I’ve saved the world a couple of times. Got me a stained-glass window in the palace and everything. But I couldn’t have done it without those other mares. And I didn’t know them all that well at the start, I’d barely even met one of them before that whole Eternal Night thing that was right before you came to Ponyville, but I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.” She let go of Gilda and dropped her hoof. “Look, I’m trying to give you another chance, all right? I think you’d like it more than whatever it is you’re doing now, and as long as you’re willing to try to make it work, I think it’s gonna be fine.”

“And I get that you think that,” Gilda said, “but… I dunno, I’m not sure I really deserve it, you know? I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s great that you thought of me when you were coming up with this, but I’m out of practice, and I can’t say I want you holding my claw as I get back up to speed.” She finished the last of her beer. “Thanks for the offer, but I don’t think I can do it.”

Dash got up and threw a hoofful of bits on the bar. “Well, if you change your mind,” she said, “drop me a line.”

“Well?” Twilight asked as Dash walked into the throne room. That she was walking at all, instead of flying, was usually a good indicator that things weren’t going too well, but it wasn’t an especially specific one. If Twilight was going to help her friend, she needed more to go on.
Dash shook her head. “She doesn’t want to do it,” she said.

“I’m sorry,” Twilight said. She looked down at Dash. “Do you still want me to try to get a stunt-flying team going, or not? If you do, I can try to make something happen. You did have some pretty good arguments for why I might want to do it, but I guess I don’t have to if you don’t want me to.”

“I don’t know.” Dash sat down on the floor. “The big reason I wanted to do it was to bring Gilda into it. It’s just not gonna be the same without her. Like, it might still be a great team, but… you know?”

Twilight got down off her throne and walked over to her friend. “Well, if you still want to do something other than the Wonderbolts, I heard about something top-secret Luna was planning…”
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