Hello everyone. It has been such a long time hasn't it?
I know what you're feeling like right now. You're excited that this story finally got updated. You're excited to finally see this interesting story continue. But I bet you're confused as to why the status of the story is Complete. No, this isn't the final chapter of the story, I'm sorry about that.
I'm even more sorry to say that, unfortunately, this story has been cancelled outright.
I deeply apologize for this travesty. I understand so many of you had been looking forward to the continuation of this fic, and I feel even worse for letting you all down. However, I blame myself for doing this, because well after the third chapter, motivation for this story had dwindled to nothing. I tried my best to continue the story with the resolve to give the readers what they want, but I found the original plot of the story to be too surreal to work around with. As it had already gone too far in to fix, the only thing I could do to continue it was to discontinue this story. I am deeply sorry to know that you have all been disappointed.
But wait. I did say I discontinued this story to write it again. That means exactly what it means. I'm rewriting this story. I'm starting it from scratch.
Some of you are shrugging your lips in disbelief, but I assure you this is no empty promise. I care too much about this story to abandon it, so I am reworking it to have a better plot and writing style than before. I care too much about my faithful readers to abandon this story, though some of you are laughing at the irony of this action, cancelling this story because I care about my fans. Well, this is more for myself, as I cannot bring myself to write this story any further as it is now, so the only way to keep it going was to start anew.
So, now that you know about the rewrite, let's talk about it.
The rewrite will be under a new title. It will be named 'Change of Pace' and it will be published onto Fimfiction first before hitting .
The new story will borrow certain planned elements from His Name Is Mac, so no. I am not about to reveal the original plot here. I will, however, reveal a few things. Applejack forbidding Rainbow Dash from seeing Macintosh will be scrapped from the script. Macintosh and Dash will have more screen time together than planned. I will be going more in depth into the universe, my fan perceived universe anyway, of Equestria, so expect some headcanons to pop up. And lastly, Dash will take part in a Mission Impossible styled chapter. Oh, and more Derpy shenanigans.
I feel that this isn't enough to sustain you all for the wait of the eventual, hopefully, publication of Change of Pace. I think you will be delighted to know that I have already started writing the first few chapters of the story. I am stockpiling my work so that when it is published, finally, you will have a steady, promising, update schedule to follow. This way, I don't disappoint anyone, hopefully.
Two more things to drop here before I go. I will be leaving for you a sneak peek of Change of Pace to read, and I will also include what has been written of the original 4th chapter of His Name is Mac. Yes, this would explain that long sidebar to your right, or left if that is your configuration. I know that is a lot, even more than the last chapter. There was a lot of detail put into what writing I could produce in this chapter. But alas, it will never be completed, keep that in mind.
So, no more time to waste. Here's a sneak peek at Change of Pace. This section of the story has yet to be written, so certain pieces will be different or changed completely. The idea will be the same however.
"It really ain't fair how yer treatin' Rainbow Dash like," she heard a familiar voice say.
"What does it matter if Ah don't like somepony?" That voice was Macintosh.
"It matters 'cause it ain't like yah. You're the most open minded pony I know, and I'd thought you'd be the type to tolerate Rainbow of all ponies."
The mare scowled a bit at this. She hated hearing how unbearable she could be, but it irritated her even further how ponies focus on that aspect of her. She was dependable, she was trustworthy. She wasn't the Element of Loyalty for no reason. That didn't mean she wasn't allowed to be upset with others when they failed to realize this.
And she thought Mac would've understood that.
"AJ, you know her more than anypony else does. Can you honestly say that we'd make good company?"
"As the Element of Honesty, I can say that it wouldn't hurt to try," she found it amusing when ponies presented irrefutable facts in arguments, an ability she envied, "Big Macintosh, she just wants to be your friend, and I don't get how you can be so harsh in turnin' her away like that."
Dash heard a silent groan, then silence. She would've left knowing that Macintosh was stubbornly uninterested in befriending her, but she stayed. What she was really curious to know was why he was resentful to making friends with her.
"I'm not…" Big Macintosh started, "…ready for friends yet…"
Dash thought that was a very stupid reason, but she found it even weirder that AJ took longer to reply.
"Is it…about her?" she said.
"Can we just drop it?" Macintosh quickly replied, "You an' I both know whose fault it was."
"Oh for the love of…Macintosh, that was years ago! You've really got to move on!"
And now, the original chapter 4. Enjoy.
The air was laced with a cool fog. The cold temperatures wrought by night encouraged the chilly weather to manifest as a thin veil of moisture in the air. Like a sea of fog, it hung low to the ground, drenching the grass below in crisp dew. The ponies in the resident village nearby were soundly asleep, kept warm by the walls of their abodes. Animals slept peacefully in their burrows and nests, enduring the cold by sharing body heat with their families. It was unnervingly quiet, save for the chirps of wild crickets; unnerving in the sense that if you were the only person awake at this hour, you'd grow paranoid that there might be someone stalking you as you walk the empty streets.
But for anyone with such a fear, there was nothing more relieving than the sight of the morning sun rising over the horizon.
Roosters crowed in response to the rising sun as the villagers reacted to the first rays of daylight. The warm light vanquished the crisp fog as animals began to stir from the absence of cold. As the sun rose higher into the sky, the resident ponies began to awaken and activity in PonyVille would soon commence.
High in the sky, by the outskirts of PonyVille, floated a magnificent mansion made of clouds. The design was similar to the houses as seen in CloudsDale, as the pegasus who took residence here hailed from that city. Beaming into the house was a rainbow, as enigmatic as it was fitting for the owner of the house, that condensed into a liquid waterfall as it arched around the building. Columns of solid cloud supported the roof and ceiling of the house, even though they had little strength. Like the buildings in CloudsDale, the columns were mostly an architecture design, as they served no other purpose other than maybe anchoring clouds together.
The twilight sky disappeared as the morning sun rose into the heavens. The warm light soon reached the cloud house and shone through the gaps in the walls. Inside, the rainbow maned pegasus began to stir from her slumber as the sunlight warmed her room, urging her to awaken. Groaning for a bit, the winged mare slowly came to, opening her eyes as she took a moment to assess herself in the conscious world.
Groggily, Rainbow Dash rubbed her eyes and yawned. Usually, she would jump out of bed and commence with her morning activities, but this particular morning, she was feeling less than super.
'Man, I'm still so tired…' she thought to herself, unable to work up the resolve to leave her cloud mattress, 'probably from all that work yesterday…'
The mare was usually against sleeping in, since she knew how important her morning rituals were to her. However, her body ached with fatigue and her mind was still dizzy, so she ultimately decided to stay asleep for a little while longer.
'What's a few more hours gonna do to me anyway?' she thought, stretching her body to limber it up from last night's-
"Ow!" Dash uttered, recoiling her limbs from the unexpected pain.
The pegasus reached over her shoulder to rub her back where the twitch happened. There was a minor but noticeable ache in her muscle that annoyed her. Rainbow Dash groaned; she was not looking forward to dealing with a muscle ache for the rest of her day. She hated muscle aches. She got them frequently during her early days of flying from frequent crashes into trees and buildings. She remembered keeping herself from moving to not strain the aches, and she loved moving! She was beginning to regret ever helping Mac haul the apples back to the barn.
Rainbow Dash huffed. She didn't want to think about yesterday. She pulled some cloud from her mattress and covered her head in it, trying to forget all of yesterday's talk with Applejack. Who was she to tell her that she couldn't see Big Macintosh anymore? Besides, it's not like she was trying to achieve anything…
Actually, she was. She was trying to get closer to him. But she never figured out why…
Humph! No more thinking, Rainbow Dash thought.
The pegasus flipped herself on her back to relax more, bringing the cloud pillow onto her chest. The previous ache from on her shoulder suddenly seemed to spread to all over her back, making the pony uncomfortable in her new position. Rainbow Dash groaned and shifted to her left, tucking her pillow between her arms. Now the aches were on her other shoulder and paining her more than they were on the other side. She groaned again, shifting herself to the sleeping position she awoke in while laying her cloud pillow under her head. But even in this position, the numbing aches in her back refused to recede. No matter what position she tried, the pain simply would not subside.
'Oh, come on!' the pegasus thought to herself.
Sighing in defeat, Rainbow Dash decided not to sleep in after all. She stood up from her bed, enduring the ringing pain in her back, and made her way towards the bathroom to freshen up.
'Might as well take a shower for this- Gah!'
As she made her way off of the mattress, an unexpected twitch in her left leg interrupted her step, causing her to tumble and fall onto the floor.
…which did not hurt as the floor was made of clouds, cushioning any actual pain from falling on a hard floor.
"Fffff…ow…" Rainbow Dash uttered, the aches in her back ringing all over.
This was going to be a long day.
The door chimed with a rhythmic knocking.
Rainbow Dash perked her head up from the sink, her hair dripping with water. This is strange, she usually never got visitors in the morning. She couldn't imagine any of her friends wanting her business this early in the day, especially the ones who could fly.
The door continued to knock. Rainbow Dash heaved a sigh as she shut off the sink and made her way to the door, shouting "Coming!" as she walked into her living room. It was a painful trek from the bathroom, having to deal with her backache as badly as she had it. She hoped it wasn't anything important, like a favor or a job to do as her aches would surely inhibit such tasks. She wasn't in the mood for any jobs today, anyway.
The door opened, revealing a lone pegasus sitting there looking enthusiastically at a box in her hooves. She was a gray coated pegasus pony with a blonde mane combed like Rainbow Dash's. There was a satchel around her shoulders full of envelopes and boxes to be delivered to other ponies and her cutie mark was of bubbles. Rainbow Dash knew who this fellow pegasi was, but it didn't register until her left eye independently scrolled up at her.
'Yikes!' she thought as she recoiled from the sight.
It was Ditzy Doo, the notorious wall eyed pegasus pony who delivered mail to others.
'I hate it when she does that,' Rainbow Dash thought as Ditzy Doo tilted her head up.
The pegasus smiled as she held out the box towards the rainbow maned one, "Mail for you!" she exclaimed. Dash was a little reluctant to accept mail from Ditzy Doo, as there were usually traces of drool on her letters, but she had never received a box before. It made her a little excited.
"Um, thanks Ditzy Doo," Rainbow Dash said as she took the box from her hooves.
"This one smells really good!" the mare said as she slid her hooves on each other, "I tried really hard not to eat it."
Dash took a quick whiff of the box. She wasn't kidding. It smelt really good.
"Well, thanks for not eating it then," Dash congratulated.
"Anytime! A mailmare's work is never done!" The pegasus smiled gratefully as she saluted her with her hoof. Then, she turned around and returned to her job of delivering mail, jumping off of the cloud as if it were a diving board. Rainbow Dash watched as the mail pony flew away upside down, shaking her head in thought to the flyer.
"I'll never understand her…" she said, turning around back into her home and shutting the door.
Dash set down the box on her table and looked at it. The first thing she noticed about it was that the sender was signed 'Applejack'. The pegasus huffed lightly. She contemplated not opening the box because of this, considering yesterday's argument, but whatever was in the box flared her nostrils with a sweet scent. It smelled like the inside of Sugar Cube Corner whenever she visited Pinkie Pie, and it made her stomach rumble, pining for breakfast. Whatever was in the box was just begging to be eaten. Swallowing her dignity, Rainbow Dash opened the parcel.
The contents were a freshly baked apple danish on a paper plate, and under it was a note, an apology from Applejack. After she was halfway done with the apple danish, sticky hooves making for a tricky opening, Rainbow Dash unfolded the note and began to read it.
Dear Rainbow Dash
I'm mighty sorry about what I said yesterday. It was wrong of me to try to keep you away from Macintosh. You know how he's our best worker and all, and I was just doing my job as the boss of Sweet Apple Acres. So I'm gonna have to ask you to forgive me when I say that I couldn't convince Macintosh to change his work schedule.
Rainbow Dash frowned at this, but kept reading.
I tried to talk to him about how he works too hard and how he needed to take a break every once in a while, but he wouldn't give in to my offer. He said that it was his responsibility as the best worker of Sweet Apple Acres and the business couldn't afford him taking such a long break. He wouldn't change his mind.
Dash huffed a little. Couldn't she have at least mentioned her, she thought.
Look Rainbow Dash, I know you like him and all, but I think it's for the best that you two stop seeing each other.
She widened her eyes as she read this. She did not like where this was going.
I told Macintosh about you, about how I'd give him a break every now and then just so that you two could hang out. But even then, Macintosh denied. He says that he can't be distracted from work and that he doesn't want to repeat yesterday's mishap.
The pegasus was heartbroken as she read this. She wanted to stop reading from there, but a little bit of her hope shone on that urged her to finish.
Don't worry, though. Macintosh says that he enjoyed your company, but the way things are, he can't risk anything interfering with his work. It's not like he'd get fired or anything, but being the only worker on the farm, the business can't fall behind on its productions. It's not you, he's only doing this for the farm…
Rainbow Dash was somewhat relieved at this. Although, she was mildly irritated at how one simple accident on her part could jeopardize the entirety of Sweet Apple Acres. Then again, the only ponies she's ever seen work on the farm were Applejack and Big Macintosh…
It's best to forget about Big Macintosh, Rainbow Dash. The reason no other mare in town has been able to get his attention is because he turns them down in favor of work. He knows how important his contribution to the business is, and he can't let another mare interfere. Sorry, Rainbow Dash. I made you an apple danish so that you don't feel sad.
Rainbow Dash sighed as she finished reading the letter. She understood why Macintosh took his work seriously now, seeing as he was the only one who worked for the Apple Family. She also understood why Applejack told her she couldn't see him anymore, she was just doing her job. But she still felt upset at the letter, almost like she was a distraction to the farmers. It certainly felt like it, but she couldn't help but feel a little cheated…
Looking over some parts of the letter, Rainbow Dash reflected on her and Applejack's argument from yesterday…
"Say WHAT?" Rainbow Dash shouted.
"You can't see 'im anymore!" Applejack repeated.
"That is the biggest load of horse apples I've ever heard! It's not fair!"
"Listen here, Rainbow Dash, I-"
"No you listen to me, Applejack!" the pegasus interjected, "How can you honestly say that me and Macintosh are a bad thing, huh?"
"As a matter of fact, I actually enjoyed his company, and he enjoyed mine. So what right do you have to say that I'm not allowed to see him anymore?"
"I was about to-"
"And what makes you think you're right and I'm wrong? Sounds a little jerkish if you asked me!"
"If you'd just let me-"
"Cut Macintosh some slack! He's done nothing wrong before so why should now be any different? And what does it have to do with me being around-"
The two sat there in silence after Applejack's loud interjection. The argument was rising to the boiling point until finally the earth pony exploded. There was no sound in the air, no birds chirping nor any leaves rustling from the wind. It was an uncomfortable silence that permeated the air, a deathly noiselessness that you wanted to go away. Neither pony could break the silence, not until the air around them softened up and calmed down. And when it finally did, the orange pony spoke first.
"Look, Rainbow Dash…" she started, "if you want to know the truth, I'm gonna have to share wit' ya family secret."
"…what is it?" Dash responded.
"The thing is, Macintosh is supposed to be the one running the farm, not me."
"Wait, huh?" Dash was a little surprised, "I thought he was already running the place?"
"Not exactly. See, I'm the boss around here, and Macintosh is our loyal worker. He was actually supposed to be next in line to run Sweet Apple Acres, but after…an incident, he gave me the title instead."
"You mean Macintosh was actually in charge of the place before?" Dash asked.
"Yup. He was doing a pretty good job of it too, but then he thought of himself unfit to lead Sweet Apple Acres, so he passed on the title to me."
"So, what exactly happened that made him give up being the boss?"
Applejack looked down in memory of the event years ago. It wasn't a fond one, but it wasn't a memory she'd revisit either. At best, it was confidential between her and Big Macintosh.
"I can't say. I gave my word."
Rainbow Dash was silent.
"But there's one thing I can tell you," Rainbow Dash perked up at this, "It's that Big Macintosh swore himself to work for Sweet Apple Acres under my rule, and he trusted me with being an honest and competent leader of our family business. So when Big Macintosh started messing up around you…"
"…you were just doing your job…" the rainbow pegasus finished.
"Exactly. If I had it my way, I'd have gone easier on him, but Big Macintosh knows better than to horse around work. And besides, he wouldn't want me being easy on any worker. I gave him my word…"
The pegasus sighed. At least now she understood better about how Applejack had to work the farm. And not to mention, Macintosh had stepped down from leading the family business and put Applejack in charge. Whatever made him quit, he trusted his sister to run Sweet Apple Acres and she had to remain vigilant in being the boss of their business.
"…that doesn't give you any right to keep me from seeing Macintosh, though," Rainbow Dash exclaimed.
Applejack sighed, "Look Rainbow Dash, it's for the good of the farm."
"What's that supposed to mean?" the pegasus asked.
"He's our only employee here at the farm, and he takes all the responsibilities of being the single worker. I'm just doing my job as the boss by looking out for my workers."
"And you want me to leave him alone?" Dash questioned, "That's pretty unfair, if you ask me."
"Dash, I'm trying my best not to put any blame on you, because you're my friend," Applejack proclaimed, "But the thing is, Macintosh had never messed up work before, especially around another filly."
The pegasus was about to speak against the earth pony, until it dawned on her what Applejack was trying to say.
"Wait, what do you mean?"
Applejack sighed, "You did something no other mare has been able to do. You got his attention, and I'd be lying if I said I think he's not that interested in you."
Dash looked down in thought, thinking about the red stallion and how he acted around her. Did he really like her? What did he think of her? But more importantly, did she like him?
"…so, you can't give him a break?" Dash asked.
Applejack shook her head. "No can do, Dash. Macintosh works sixteen hours a day, and that's his own schedule he made for himself. He only takes about ten minutes off for lunch before he's back to working. That's why he's our best worker."
Rainbow Dash sighed. The way the stallion worked, it's insane how he deals with working nonstop for a living. And all of it was his choice. He chose to work for that long, to take short breaks, and he trusts Applejack to run him like a work horse, not that he already isn't. It's a wonder how he finds any joy in his life.
But it's his life, and he seemed set on it staying that way.
"…I get it…" Dash uttered.
The earth pony sighed, "I'm sorry it has to be this way, Dash, but you know Macintosh won't want me being easy on him."
Applejack was now beginning to feel sorry for Rainbow Dash. The flyer's intentions weren't exactly honest from the beginning, but as it went on, she and Macintosh had grown a bond like no other. It almost hurt the earth mare seeing the two forced apart like this.
"…tell you what," Applejack started, "I'll talk with Big Macintosh about making space in his schedule, give him some time off."
At this, Rainbow Dash donned a hopeful face, "Really?"
"Mhm, I can pull some strings for you and him, but you gotta be sure to be around when he's on his new break, otherwise he's just wasting time."
The pegasus nodded enthusiastically, "Of course! I'll come by every now and then to check up on him, and you as well."
Applejack chuckled, "Well, alright then. It's about time for me to check up on Macintosh and see how he's holding up."
"Alright. So, I'll come by tomorrow to see how things are," Dash said, wings open ready to take off.
"Oh, and uh, one more thing."
Dash was halfway into the sky when the earthbound pony spoke up.
"There's something I never understood yesterday," she said, tapping her chin with her hoof, "I don't recall saying your full name to Macintosh before. How'd he already know it?"
Dash pondered this too. Only now did it occur to her that the red stallion had already known her name before they met. She just thought Applejack had already told him.
"Umm, maybe he heard about me after the Sonic Rainboom at the CloudsDale Stadium," Dash explained, "Everyone was talking about it when we got home."
Applejack pondered a little more before deciding that explanation was the most plausible one.
"Yeah, I guess so."
"So, I'll see you around then."
"Alright, be seein' ya."
The pegasus licked the sweet glaze off of her hooves. It was a very tasty way to start her day, especially considering she usually skipped breakfast if she was late for her morning shifts. But living in a cloud house without a thundercloud to power a fridge or any electrical device, she usually got her breakfast by nabbing an apple or a muffin from the Sugar Cube Corner in PonyVille. She's never had a breakfast as good as this one. She'd have to thank Applejack later.
As she thought of Applejack, she thought of Big Macintosh. The red stallion, previously absent from her memory, was now hard to forget, especially the way he looked at her. Those green eyes, gazing back at her…
Rainbow Dash shook her head. Maybe Applejack was right, she thought. Maybe she was better off minding her own business and forgetting about the farmer. He had his life on the ground, and she had her life in the air. They probably wouldn't have worked out a stable relationship anyways.
But forgetting Macintosh was a difficult thing to do.
She sighed, 'I might as well go practice my tricks.'
The pegasus left the kitchen, opened parcel and note left behind, in hopes of keeping her mind off of the farmer stallion.
Rainbow Dash observed the ground below her from her cloud house. She could see the thin dirt road leading to Ponyville mildly blurry from a mile's distance. She smirked as she mapped out her morning routine in her head, looking forward to the double barrel roll and the dive bomb. She took a deep breath and stepped back. Flying was the perfect way to clear her mind when things were troubling her, and it had never failed her before. In fact, she was so anxious to start, she had already forgotten yesterday's argument.
And then she took off.
The first flight was the warm up, the diving glide. Rainbow Dash sailed downwards and opened her wings, letting the air rush through her feathers and whistle in her ears. She held her limbs out to streamline her body through the air, letting the wind blow all over her. Inhaling the air as she arched upwards, she could feel the sleepy feelings within her corrode away as the air became more familiar to her. The diving glide was always the first trick as it woke up her senses and drove the sleep out of her.
It was way better and more effective than any coffee she ever had.
Next up was the marathon scale. Dash began to flap her wings as hard as she could as the flyer began to rise higher into the sky. The pull of gravity as she rose higher tugged at her body, turning the air thicker as she struggled to flap her wings harder. She could feel her heart pumping harder to supply oxygen to her muscles as her wings strained against the air. Dash didn't like this maneuver as much as the previous one as it was the most strenuous of the rituals. Still, she didn't complain as it was a great cardio workout and it warmed her up.
And lastly came her favorite part of the morning exercise. The free dive.
As if frozen in place, the pegasus ceased flying and floated in the air momentarily, taking in a deep breathe as gravity pulled her back down. As Dash fell, she straightened herself downward and opened her wings again, letting the wind cool her down from the cardio exercise. Rested, she twisted her body and began gliding in a different direction. Twisting again, she turned the freefall into a downward spiral as the world before her spun. The pegasus tightened the turn and sharpened the spiral until she was barrel rolling straight down. Hooves held outward, the air started to harden and create a visible barrier before her as she reached maximum velocity.
She wasn't going to pull off another Sonic Rainboom, although that would have been awesome, doing one every morning of the week…
No. Instead, as hard as she could, Rainbow Dash pulled and turned upwards again, maintaining the air barrier before her. Amazingly, the mare was not slowing down from the air resistance, and zipped around the air at the same speed she had been falling at. The Air Barrier, a special technique only skilled pegasi were capable of, had shielded her from air resistance and created a thick veil of air before her. She was like a speeding missile, and could hit like one too if she wanted to, capable of bowling through houses unscathed. Thankfully, her practice took place outside of Ponyville where there was only open space to fly around in.
Right now, it was just her and the sky, just the way she loved it.
Rainbow Dash took a deep breathe, taking in the adrenaline coursing through her body. She gave a satisfied huff as she let the wind comb over her body. Freedom. This is why she loved flying. It was the personification of the very idea. Freedom to fly to wherever she wanted, however she wanted. It wasn't just a part of her life. It was a part of her soul. Her defining appreciation for anything in the world. And she didn't want to lose it anytime soon.
The mare zipped across the sky freely, performing different kinds of tricks as her mane streaked the sky. Barrel rolls, somersaults, tunnel loops, some of the most basic tricks in the book. She wasn't performing harder ones because this was supposed to be a morning exercise. But she could easily try if she felt daring.
It tended to happen a lot.
Just as Rainbow Dash had flown low enough to the ground to make out the branches under the trees, a light bulb lit up in her head. She looked at the trees and smirked a little. They were starting to look like danger cones to her. But at her speed, running behind an air barrier, it was a very risky and dangerous move to pull. But circumstances like that always made Dash want to try them even more.
Winding up, Dash ascended into the air, folded her wings into a descent, and bolted towards the trees for a little maneuver practice.
At least, she would have, if her wings hadn't locked up all of a sudden.
"Ahh! What the?"Dash shouted as she looked back at her wings, cramping up all of a sudden. Her left wing was stuck half folded while the other was open, trying to catch the wind the other wing was losing. She tried to stretched it back out, but like a metal spring the wing retracted and refused to cooperate. She could feel the muscles behind the wing aching loudly, her lower back tingling with pain.
And what an inconvenient time it was for her wings to give out, one would say. The air barrier before Dash had withered away, she was losing altitude, and those trees could only grow so big before ultimately colliding with them. Despite her best efforts to remain airborne or, at least, land safely, the pegasi was unable to steer properly and managed to delay her crash landing for a few seconds until she got better acquainted with the one pine tree within a hundred yards.
Dazed, aching, and a pinecone in her mouth, the pegasus groaned before coming to, shaking her head and spitting out the unwelcomed object in her mouth. There she lay, covered in pine needles and tree sap, in the branches of one of the most painful trees you could crash into, and it wasn't her fault this time. She groaned, looking back to her previously troubled wing to find that it had gotten over the ache and laid flaccid on the pine needles. She lifted it up and down, testing it for the source of the pain. Nothing unusual, she felt as she moved it around. Then she rotated them forwards and backwards. She winced. There was the problem.
'Just great,' the mare thought as she stood on the branches and shook herself the best she could of the pine needles and sap. Dash groaned again as she could feel her muscles tingling with annoyance. She thought she had cured her aches from the morning and was looking forward to flying more in the day, but apparently she only made them temporary, as she could feel the aches returning to her body. Just when she thought she had her problems solved, she had to go and crash into a pine tree. Brilliant.
She was beginning to regret ever talking to Macintosh.
"Rainbow Dash? Is that you?"
Before she could dwell on the thought, she heard a soft voice from below. Looking down, to her surprise, she saw Fluttershy, her fellow pink and yellow pegasus mare from CloudsDale. Feeling delighted to see a friendly face, Dash calmly leapt off of the branches and to the ground to face the kind hearted mare.
"Sup, Fluttershy," she greeted, "What'cha doing up so early?"
"Oh, well," Fluttershy started, running a hoof through her pink hair, "I was checking on the nests around here since this is the time of the week my bird friends' eggs are supposed to hatch."
Fluttershy softly floated towards the tree, where three birds circled around her. Dash chuckled again, melancholically this time, watching the fliers freely zoom about the pegasus.
"This nest had a baby bird who still had trouble trying to fly," she explained, pointing at an empty nest on a branch, "I was trying to help it overcome his fear when you, um, crashed into the tree…"
Dash was surprised and a little worried for the baby bird, "Is it okay? It's not hurt, is it?" she asked quickly.
Fluttershy shook her head as a miniature bird fluttered its way towards her and roosted in her hair, "Oh no. It was actually the push he needed to start flying."
The tiny bird fluttered off of the pegasus and into a held hoof, Fluttershy nuzzling the young flier a little. She let the bird flutter away and towards waiting parents roosting on a nearby branch. Fluttershy gently descended to the ground as Dash looked at the bird family.
"If it weren't for you, the little one wouldn't have been able to fly. Thanks for your help," the pegasus said sweetly.
"Uh huh, sure…" Dash said absentmindedly as she watched the birds fly off, the little one fluttering behind.
As Dash solemnly faced Fluttershy, the mare could sense something was upsetting her friend. She wasn't as energetic as she usually was. And she was a bit less mindful of the mess she was covered in, even though the rainbow pegasus liked to get dirty every now and then. Maybe she was tired? Maybe something was depressing her? Being the concerned friend she was, Fluttershy decided to ask.
"Um, Rainbow Dash," she asked, "Are you okay? You don't sound too good."
"Oh…" Dash was uncertain if she could tell Fluttershy about her problem. She didn't want to remember yesterday, especially Macintosh, "No, I'm okay."
Fluttershy knew she was lying. Her voice lacked the confidence it usually had. She wasn't looking at her directly either. The gentle mare didn't like being lied to and hated seeing her friends upset, but she knew that in these kinds of situations, patience was required to have others open up to you about problems, even with close friends.
"Are you sure? You're not tired or anything, are you?" she persisted.
Rainbow Dash sighed as she tried to swipe off some tree sap on her shoulder.
"Well, I am a little sore, actually," the rainbow mare answered.
"Sore? From what?" Fluttershy asked.
"Well…" Dash decided to be vague about her story, "I was at AJ's place helping around with some work and I tripped in the shed."
The yellow mare gasped, "Really? You're not hurt, are you?"
Dash shook her head, "No, I'm fine now, as you can see." Dash moved her hoof from her shoulder to her back, "It left an annoying crick in my back, though…"
Fluttershy sighed with relief, but couldn't help but feel sad for the rainbow mare. She knew that a sore back influenced a pegasi's flight as aching muscles affected the ones controlling the wings. Rainbow Dash loved to fly, but if a sore back was going to break her day, she couldn't have that. Fluttershy placed a wrist on her mouth as she hummed in thought.
"Well," she began, Rainbow Dash occupied with self maintenance, "you can always to go Aloe's and Lotus' Spa."
That caught her attention, "A spa?" she parroted, almost daunted by the word, "Where they paint your face with green mud and have mud baths and junk like that?"
Fluttershy nodded, "It also has massages and therapeutic services that are recommended by dermatologists."
Dash stared into Fluttershy with a face that grew more confused the longer she stood silent. Fluttershy grew uncomfortable until she realized the problem and simplified.
"Umm, stuff that skin doctors say are good…" the mare subconsciously began rubbing her arm with her other hoof, "It would help you get rid of your aches."
At this, Dash suddenly became interested. "Wow, really? Why didn't you just say so?" The sooner she could be rid of her aches, the better. "Where's it at?"
"Oh, umm, not too far from Rarity's Boutique," the mare answered softly.
Dash nodded, "Gotcha. I'll head there right now." The mare turned around to take off, but remembered her manners and turned back. "Thanks Fluttershy."
And the pegasus sped off on her way to the spa. Fluttershy was a little sad that she couldn't say goodbye in return, but it was Dash after all. She got used to it. She was more concerned about the risks of flying with an aching back, especially how notoriously fast Rainbow Dash flew.
"She really shouldn't be flying with that sore back," she said to herself.
Turning around to resume her day, she couldn't help but think to herself.
'The spa is gonna need a new roof.'
All sound was deafened. No pony moved. They all stared at the fading dust cloud as the image of a rainbow maned pegasus became clearer. Twitching, dazed, and upside down on her neck, the norm pose of Rainbow Dash after a less than spectacular landing, if you could call it that. The dust settled and the mare shook her head, looking out at the crowd before her. She had managed to land in the lobby of the spa as the cashier, Lotus, and a green maned customer whom she recognized as Daisy were staring at her.
"Meant to do that," she quickly said as she stood up, flinching from the screaming pain in her back.
Rainbow Dash shook the loose dust off of her as she trotted towards the register, bystanders still shocked by the unexpected arrival of the mare. Dash took a moment at the counter until it occurred to her that Daisy was there before her.
"Oh, where you two busy?" she asked, looking at the flower mare, "Sorry if I interrupted."
Daisy got over the shock of the mare's appearance and kindly stood back.
"Oh, no. Go ahead," she said nervously.
Dash didn't think much of the mare's odd behavior, but disregarded it as she turned to the cashier.
"Hey, you guys got massages here?" she asked.
Lotus stalled her answer, "Uhh, yes, we do. What do you need?"
"I need a full body massage," the rainbow mare said as she looked at the services behind the wall, "And…maybe a hot bath too."
"Uhh, okay," Lotus had never felt so out of place in her own shop before, "How would you like your shampoo? Scented? Moisturizing? We have a new deodorant brand of shampoo shipped in from Asia."
"Uhh," Dash wasn't sure about her choice of shampoo. She usually bought the cheapest working brand and knew little about the additives they put in shampoos, "The one that can get tree sap out of my coat."
"Oh, alright," It wasn't hard to imagine the athlete needing a strong cleaning shampoo, considering the accidents she had, "I'll write you down for the beads mixture. Will that be all for today, miss Dash?"
Miss Dash. She chuckled. That was a very teacherly name.
"Yes please. How much will that be?"
"Forty four bits."
"Forty four bits?" Dash thought about backing out of the order, but she needed the massage more than anything right now. After getting over the initial shock of the price, Dash sighed tiredly, "This better be worth it."
"It was totally worth it…"
She had never felt so clean before. Her coat for the first time in a long while felt lush and fine, like grass in the morning. Her mane was doing even better after the bath, feeling like silk after the conditioner she used. The bathrobe she was wearing at the moment seemed to make her coat feel doubly fine, the soft cloth rubbing smoothly against herself. And the massage. She had never felt so good before. The way her aches just melted away from her body, the satisfying popping of her bones as all discomfort just disappeared, she almost thought about becoming a regular visitor to the spa just for these massages.
As it turns out, some of the worst ponies she could have ever met frequented the shop as well. Vile, unbearable creatures whose voices were like vultures over the phone. Of course the rainbow mare didn't like them very much as she had met their kind before back in flight school. Always gaudily dressed, faces drenched in makeup, Dash hated these types of ponies just by looking at them.
And they weren't nice to know either.
"Oh Celestia, did you see Manny at the mall today?" One mare asked to another beside her, "She was shopping for some new clothes there."
"So?" The other mare, a violet mane stuffed with hair curlers and a blue coat, replied.
"She was shopping at Old Neighvy."
At this, all of the mares in the room, save for Rainbow Dash, gasped simultaneously, their surprises greatly exaggerated.
"She wouldn't be caught dead in that store. You're lying, aren't you," a green pony responded in disbelief.
"Sure as hoofshine, I saw her with my own eyes," the yellow and red pony answered, "What do you think it means?"
"She's either out of her mind," the blue mare said, "Or she's shopping for presents. You know she has a coltfriend."
"Emerson, you mean? Yeah, that must be it," the green mare said, "She's totally head over heels for him."
"I can see why. He's smart, handsome, and he has the dreamiest voice I've ever heard," the yellow filly said.
"Well, he's no Big Mac, but he's good enough."
Dash groaned. Here we go again. She couldn't bear to hear more of that stallion today. She was actually hoping to clear her mind of him in this spa through the massages. But they just had to bring up the pony again, to her dismay.
Thankfully, Dash's torment was postponed as the masseuse walked into the room toting a cart of warm towels. The pony, wearing a light tan coat and a dark blonde mane, stood next to the rainbow mare and began unfolding the towels.
"So, how are you enjoying your spa day, Miss Rainbow?" the mare asked. Her voice had a sort of European accent to it.
"Eh, it was nice…" she answered, slightly upset.
"Was? What's bringing you down?" Quake asked, holding a towel next to the mare. "Undo your robe, please."
As Dash did so, she answered, "Well, I'm just not used to crowds like these," Dash mentally pointed to the mares to the left of her. The masseuse seemed to have noticed.
"Ah. Ignore them," she said, placing the soothing towel on Dash's back, "They can be quite an earful, but they'll be out o' your mane as soon as they came in. They don't hang around here for long."
"It doesn't bother you?" she asked, turning to the mare.
"It does, but I'm not allowed to say that," the mare said, turning sly and whispering, "At least not directly."
Rainbow Dash chuckled as the masseuse got to work. She started by filling out the towel to suit the body of the pony, then began to deliver quick chops with her hooves. Quake sure did live up to her name as her hooves pounded at the rainbow pony's back, her breathing rattled as the masseuse went at it. The warm towel was losing its heat as Quake worked, the warmth moving into Dash's muscles and making them relax more.
"Your back is so tense, more so then it should be," Quake spoke up, "I don't normally ask this of my clients, but you're such a rare visitor I can't help but be curious. What made you come here for a massage?"
Dash sighed, the breath rumbling from the massage. She didn't want to talk about yesterday, about how much trouble she was to the farm. It still hurt her now to think of herself being a distraction to Big Macintosh, but it wasn't like she could talk to her friends about it. Fluttershy wouldn't know what to make of the situation, Rarity would probably gossip about it all over town, which she did not want, Pinkie would probably suggest a party as usual, and Twilight would probably look for a book on it. She doubted her friends had actual experiences with other stallions to offer helpful enough advice for her, Rarity maybe but she was a gossip, so she had little options of who to discuss it over with. She might as well tell the random stranger karate chopping her back about her troubles.
"Well," Dash started, just as the masseuse stopped to rest her hooves, "It happened yesterday. I was at Sweet Apple Acres…"
"Uh huh," Quake said to ensure she was listening as she began to rub the mare's shoulders.
"I was helping around at work and then I got into an accident. I actually crashed into the tool shed of the barn. Embarrassing, huh?" Dash said sympathetically.
Quake's expression was unfazed. She almost seemed disappointed at the story.
"There's more you're not telling, Miss Dash," Quake said, surprising Dash, "You think these aches all came from that accident? You're stressed, I know it."
"Wha…what are you talking about…?" Dash tried to cover up the truth. "That was it. I crashed and got a bad ache. What more is there to it?"
"I wouldn't be lying to the masseuse on your back if I were you," the massager said, rubbing harder into the rainbow mare's body, "I know how muscles work, and I know how stress affects them, physically and emotionally."
Dash sighed. She was right. She hadn't realized it, but the whole ordeal was taking its toll on her. Perhaps it was making things worse for her by avoiding the problem altogether. She was running from it because she was too afraid to confront the problem herself.
I'm gonna miss Quake from this story. Maybe a side story will suffice in the future.
Well, there you have it. Again, I apologize if you are upset with the turn of events leading to the cancellation of this story, but I have decided to restart it for the sake of doing it better.
I promise that Change of Pace will be much better than how this story would have originally turned out. All I ask of you is to have some faith in me.
Well, that's a load off my chest. Hopefully this doesn't happen again… *cough*