Fell Into the Right Hooves
"Wind?" Dash licked the back of her forehoof before raising it high above her into the air.
"Good! Clouds?" she called to herself. Looking from atop the cloud where she was perched, she noted the empty sky around her.
"Clear! Cheering section?" The blue pegasus sat up, ears alert as if expecting a round of praise. After a few silent seconds, she looked over the edge of her cloud at the ground below. "I said 'cheering section?'"
Rainbow Dash could just barely make out the yellow and pink blur. Fluttershy, sitting peacefully on the grass far below the blue pegasus' cloud, shot up to attention. "Oh, um,... yay!" she replied, though barely above a whisper.
"Ugh..." Dash placed a hoof over her face. She knew the pegasus below her had the heart, but her voice usually hid it behind meek expressions. Nevertheless, her cheering section was ready. "Check."
The two pegasi were just outside of Ponyville, away from its busy streets and market. Dash had been scolded about performing her stunts too near to town by Mayor Mare after her last trick sent a cloud careening into the market, leaving it in a misty fog for hours. She assured the Mayor that it was only a mishap, but, when presented with the large list of complaints sent her way over the years, realized it was best not to argue, lest she be handed the bill for the damages.
"Okay, Fluttershy," Dash called to the grounded pegasus, "this is my latest trick I've been working on. A first run! Now, the Sonic Rainboom is great and all, but I can't just be a one trick pony! Especially with the Wonderbolts' open audition being only four weeks away. So, I got to thinking; I'm the only one who can pull off a Sonic Rainboom, right? How about I use that in some other extraordinary stunts! No one could beat that that! The Wonderbolts will have no choice but to accept me!"
Dash struck a proud pose from the edge of her cloud platform, as a gentle voice chimed up to her with hushed enthusiasm. "That's a wonderful idea!" Even from her starting place in the sky, Dash could make out those large teal eyes.
"Of course it is! You're going to be the first to see," the athletic pegasus began, dropping into her starting position, "THE LIGHTSTREAM!"
"Ooh!" Fluttershy called up, though Dash could just barely say it wasn't the wind making the quiet sound.
'This is it,' Dash thought, spreading out her wings in preparation. 'This is the stunt you've been planning for weeks! You can do this. You're the best, after all. So, let's make it happen! First, a Sonic Rainboom.'
The rainbow-maned pegasus quickly bucked the cloud beneath her, dissipating it into a soft mist as she fell through towards the ground. She had to start this trick with a Sonic Rainboom, which required a long distance of height and perfect conditions. And of course, somepony to cheer her on. As she fell through the sky, she let her wings catch the air, falling into the groove she needed. Now, it was all a matter of getting enough speed before she hit the ground. She caught the words that had passed in her mind. Hitting the ground; the biggest fear of any pegasus. She tried to push the thought out of her head, attempting to focus on the stunt at hand. She stretched out her body, feeling the air bend around her. She could see the sky beginning to distort in her peripheral vision. She just needed a little bit more speed. Her eyes once again caught the rapidly approaching ground. 'Come on, you idiot, pull up! You're not going to be able to break it in time!' Her mind was screaming for her to cancel the drop, and she felt herself slowing down in panic. Then, she heard a timid note carry its way to her on the wind.
Fluttershy called to her. Dash could just make out the calm pegasus in the corner of her vision, but those large eyes were still looking to her with excitement. 'I can't back out of this now,' she thought, feeling stronger than ever. 'I have an audience to amaze!'
Dash poured forth one final burst of speed, feeling the air wrap tightly around her, before finally exploding in a bright, colorful flash. Not a moment too soon, she darted back up into the sky, leaving a beautiful spectrum aura in her wake. She swore she could hear Fluttershy cheering her on.
'All right, Dash,' she spoke in her head, 'first phase is done. Time for the hard part!' Dash had planned this out for days, but had yet to give it a try. Flying high into the air, far above the tree line, the streaming pegasus began to fly in a tight loop, circling an empty space of air. The world around her soon became an endless strobe of green grass and blue sky, flickering in rapid succession. Once she felt comfortable with the flight pattern, she began to spin. She had to start slow, so as not to lose the rainbow-colored trail she had made in the sky. She kept herself in the loop, slowly tightening her spins. Before long, she was spiraling like a drill, sticking close to the looped pattern in the sky. That's when she felt it. The path she had made began to lurch into motion, drawing the air with it in a stream of color and energy. As the stream began to pick up speed with her, whirling around her in a torrent, she could barely make out the bright, white light forming in the center of the loop. This was the Lightstream!
'No time to celebrate!' Dash thought, as she continued to follow the churning loop in the sky. 'Now, the only thing left is an exi-' Her thought was cut off by a terrible realization. 'I NEVER PLANNED AN EXIT STRATEGY!!'
She lost focus, letting her wing slip out of formation. The change in angle tossed her against the side of the stream, where she quickly found the speeding wall of color to be surprisingly solid. She panicked, frantically trying to correct the mistake, throwing her other wing out to balance. This overcorrection proved a mistake, as she was thrown hard into the other side of the stream. The solid impact jolted her, and full terror began to set in. She had become disoriented in all the chaos. Beyond the streaks of prismatic color, she could no longer make out ground or sky. With all the air twisting around her, she didn't even know if she was spinning herself anymore. In blind fear, she decided the best thing to do was to stop doing anything. She closed her wings, and hoped for the best.
It was dark. Soft noises seemed to echo off in the distance. Dash didn't know exactly where she was. She tried to remember how she arrived there, but could only recall lights and color. "Pinkie must have thrown one wild party this time," she mumbled to herself, finding her voice very frail.
"Oh! You're awake!" The voice echoed loudly through her head. She didn't recognize the voice at first, though she knew she had heard it before. She tried to get up to find where the sound was coming from.
"Don't move around too much, Ms. Dash. You had quite a spill. I'll go get the doctor right away!"
Now Dash recognized the voice. 'Nurse Redheart?' she thought, finding the voice of her thoughts to be just as weak as the one in her throat. 'What's she doing here? Did somepony get hurt?' She reflected on the nurse's words. ''You had quite a spill, Ms. Dash.'' It seemed almost alien to her. ''Dash'? 'Ms. Dash'? But I'm the only Dash I know.' Suddenly, it began to dawn on her. She remembered the Lightstream stunt. She remembered panic. She realized what the nurse had said. 'Oh, Celestia... I'm the one that had the spill?!'
Dash's eyes fought to open, flooding the darkness with intense light. Though blurry, the world began to come back to her. She was in a room of the Ponyville Hospital. The calming blue walls seemed too vivid with the splash of orange light shining through the windows and curtains. She was in bed, propped up at an angle and wrapped in a light blanket that felt far too stiff. Many tubes and wires were hooked up to her forelegs and chest, feeding from IVs and into various machines. She began to feel as though the walls were closing in as she took in her condition. The lights seemed to grow dim and low, making the room feel claustrophobic. The blanket began to feel heavy and thick, and the lines almost seemed to wrap around her, trying to suffocating her. 'I can't stay here! I gotta fly!'
She bolted off her back, frantically pulling away the tubes and wires, some stinging sharp as the needles they held were ripped out from under her skin. She kicked the bedcloth off of her, feeling freed from the binding fabric. 'The window,' she thought, the voice in her head shining with reassured confidence and spunk. 'They'll never miss me. Just another day patient.'
As she spread her wings to take flight, a sharp, biting pain shot through her body from her side. Dash winced as she went stiff and fell flat against the rigid bed. She quickly began to inspect herself. Her legs were all fine, it seemed. She looked to her left, seeing her wing outstretched and ready for the air. It was then that she noticed the two bands of white cloth, overlapped with velcro grips, wrapped around her body in front and behind her wing. She followed the cloth across her chest to her other side. The bands expanded to a wide rectangle of white fabric, held tightly to her side, where her wing should have been.
Dash's eyes grew wide with horror. Her right wing, which her mind told her should be outstretched and prepared for flight just as her other, was not there.
"N-no... no... no nonoNO!!" she screamed out. Bottomless dread and sadness began to overtake her, only just overpowered by the adrenaline pumping through her body. She felt herself drop into a delusional fear. "I gotta get out! I gotta get out!" Her open wing began to beat furiously at the air, trying to propel the panicking pegasus into the sky shielded away from her by the ceiling. The furious pulses of her wing knocked over the instruments and IV stands beside the bed, creating a tumultuous clatter as they landed hard against the tile floor. Her hooves kicked furiously for footing, rattling the metal sides of the bed, sending a clamor bouncing around the room in waves of echoes. She didn't know why her mind told her to run, but she knew she just had to. She had to outrun the reality of this.
Nurse Redheart ran back into the room, a startled worry on her face as to what was causing all of the noise. "Ms. Dash, what's wrong?! Is everything all right?!"
The blue pegasus, writhing in terror on the bed quickly backed herself against the wall on the far side. She glared in a hurt madness at the orderly. "WHERE THE HAY IS MY WING?! WHAT DID YOU HACKS DO WITH MY WING?!"
"Calm down this instant, Ms. Dash!" An older earth pony made his presence known from the doorway. His faded tan coat and white mane showed his years all too well, and a thick, white mustache hid his mouth beneath his scowling features. The white coat and stethoscope adorning his large frame immediately identified him as the doctor. "If you would just settle down, I can explain everything."
"WHERE IS MY WING?!" Dash was not consoled by the figure that walked closer to her. She could feel the tears welling in her eyes as her vision began to blur again into streaks of light. "WHAT DID YOU DO TO ME?!"
The elder stallion stopped half way to the bed, a gruff expression crossing his bushy brow. "Ms. Dash! If you would look, your wing is just fine! It's merely bandaged to you. Now, please, control yourself!"
It was as if a light had suddenly beamed into the shrinking room, expanding it back to its natural dimension. Shaking the wet from her eyes, Dash quickly looked back to the large bandage at her right. Though it held firmly to her body, she could now clearly see the distinct outline of her wing. The dreaded thoughts of amputation sank back into her, relieving her mind to a calm, if unnerved, disposition.
"Oh... oh, okay." She tried to play off the show she had just displayed, though the now disheveled room said otherwise. Her heart was still pounding in her ears as she sat back proper into the bed. "I kinda lost my head there for a bit. Much better than losing a wing though." She laughed weakly, trying to mask the true fear the very thought grasped her in.
The doctor's glare softened, though his disapproval was almost etched into his face. "Yes, it is. Nurse Redheart, will you please call in somepony to help with the mess?" At his request, the nurse nodded and disappeared back down the hall. "Now, back to you," he said, his gaze looking over to the pegasus.
"Ms. Rainbow Dash," he began, reading from the chart at the foot of the bed. "Pegasus, admitted two days ago fo-"
"Two days?!" Dash interrupted. "I've been here for two days?!" Though she didn't remember much of what landed her here, it had only felt like a few minutes ago.
The doctor let out of sigh of frustration. "Yes, Ms. Dash, you have been here for two nights already. Today is actually your third day here. I was expecting another night, to be honest, but it seems you're already doing well enough to destroy a room and interrupt me as I explain, so that's always a good sign." The doctor's sarcasm had been well trained with the years, almost becoming unnoticeable through his professional tone. "If I may continue?" he asked, a critical expression waiting for permission.
Dash backed down a bit, almost as if he possessed Fluttershy's stare. 'He's good,' she thought.
"Anyway, where was I. Ah, here we are. Admitted two days ago for severe trauma to the right wing and head after, and I'll quote this myself, 'a failed flying stunt.'"
The words bit into Dash's heart. She was worried that her trick was what landed her here, but couldn't recall. "Well," she started, trying to rebuild herself after the blow, "it wasn't a complete failure."
"Hmph!" the doctor scoffed. "You've been in a coma for two days and your wing was horribly injured. If that's not a complete failure, I'd hate to see what you'd call one."
Dash's eyes suddenly flashed at his words, and she shot forward in bed. "I thought you said my wing was fine!"
"Ms. Dash, if you continue to interrupt me, I'll just let you read the chart yourself." The doctors rough voice was calm, as though he dealt with this every day of his career.
Dash shrank back into bed, feeling the doctors stern gaze upon her. "Uh, sorry, doc..."
The doctor looked genuinely pleased, and continued to read off the chart. "You suffered extensive damage to the muscles and tendons of the wing, but luckily didn't break any bones. You won't be flying for a while, but you will be able to fly again. As for your head..." He looked up with a humored smirk. "I think your thick-headedness saved you from any permanent damage."
Even Dash found herself giggling shyly at the doctor's joke. "I knew it'd come in handy one day. So, my wing's just a little busted up? Great! Let's get some unicorn doctors in here and magic it up some! I'll be flying out of those doors by sunset!"
The doctor's mood fell again, into a look of serious concern. He walked over to the window, looking out as he spoke. Dash could now see his cutiemark was a red heart with a bandage over it. "Ms. Dash, I don't believe you understand. Your damages were quite bad. You're very lucky that I've had training for pegasus wings, but even I was shocked by the injuries. We called in a unicorn doctor all the way from Canterlot to assist in the surgery. I did the best I could to set it up as it is now. Ms. Dash, you're looking at the best work anypony in Equestria could have done for you. We even used magic to close the incision. You won't even see it." He turned to look at her. "Honestly, when you came in, I thought amputation was the only option. But, I knew I had to do my best to save your wing." He gave a soft smile, which seemed to warm the room.
"I... I'm sorry I freaked out on you earlier..." Dash's apology was almost bitter in her throat, but she knew the doctor deserved it. "So, when will I be flying again, doc?"
The doctor opened his mouth to talk as a group of three earth ponies walked in and quickly took to picking up the mess from earlier. Nurse Redheart was at the back of the group, taking her place again beside the doctor. "Ah, there you are. I was wondering what took you."
Nurse Redheart smiled nervously. "I'm sorry, Doctor Heartfeld. When I went to the lobby, I found the orderlies attempting to console the pegasus in the waiting area. Apparently when she heard the commotion, she was quite startled. Everything is fine now, Doctor. How's the patient?"
"Yeah," Dash chimed in. "How's the patient?" She pointed at her bandaged side, with an impatient look on her face.
The doctor sighed in defeat. "And here I thought we were having a moment together. Anyway, you will make a full recovery, and you should be flying again within two months."
"Two months?!" Dash's calm attitude was immediately tossed aside again. "No way, doc! I got important stuff coming up soon. I can't wait that long to get back in the air!"
"Ms. Dash," the doctor started, his expression turning back to a stern seriousness, "I don't think you understand. This isn't debatable. It's amazing we even fixed it to this point. If you try to fly with it before it's healed, you risk reversing all the work we've done on it. Right now, you'll recover, but if you damage it again, you might lose the ability to fly all together."
His words struck hard. Her face sank into dejection, realizing just how bad it must have been.
The doctor's face softened again at the tense silence in the room. The orderlies, having reset the apparatuses around the room, quietly shuffled out of the heavy scene.
"You're free to leave today, Ms. Dash, but there are care instructions. Absolutely no flying for the first month, and only small exercises past that. In fact, that bandage of yours shouldn't be removed for any long period of time for the first two weeks, I'd say. I'll schedule a check up, say, four weeks from today to monitor your healing, and we'll take it slowly from there with physical training."
Dash looked down over her bed, unable to meet the doctor's eyes. "Okay, doc..."
The doctor handed the chart to Nurse Redheart. He broke the silence with soft, warm sentiment in his voice. "Okay. Let's get you discharged. Nurse, please help her into the chair. It's regulation that we assist you to the lobby, Ms. Dash. I'm sure you understand."
Nurse Redheart was quickly at Dash's side, readying a wheelchair that one of the orderlies had discreetly wheeled in. Though the nurse offered assistance, Dash turned her down, lowering herself into the chair from the bed.
"All right. Nurse, if you will, let's get her on her way."
The nurse wheeled the quiet Rainbow Dash past the doctor towards the hallway.
"Oh," the doctor called as they neared the doorway. "Ms. Dash? When you see that little pegasus friend of yours, be sure to thank her."
Dash looked up quickly, stopping the chair by catching the door frame with her hoof. She called back to him. "Who? Fluttershy?"
The doctor turned, facing his patient. "Yes, I believe that was her name. She's the one that brought you here in the first place. Carried you on her back. She's also the one who paid for all of the expenses, and has been showing up every day waiting for you to wake. She's a quiet little thing, but she's got a big heart."
Dash was dumbfounded. Fluttershy had done all that? For her? Sure, she was the only pony around where Dash attempted the stunt, but she was still surprised to find just how far her friend had gone to make sure she was okay.
"I... I will. Trust me, doc." Dash smiled, warmed by the thought that somepony had stuck by her so closely.
The doctor smiled. "You're lucky to have a mare like her."
"Wha-?!" Dash was obviously taken by surprise at the doctor's final comment. "Uh, nonono, we're nothing like that, doc. She's just a friend of mine. A good friend." She felt herself blush a bit at the insinuation, but fought it down. The last thing she wanted was to fall further into the perception of the doctor's mistake right now.
"Hmm." The doctor seemed genuinely surprised. "Well, then, that's unexpected. My apologies. Though, a good friend is always a cherished gift. There were others as well who showed up to check on you, but none have stayed as long as her. She's waiting for you now, I believe."
Dash let loose of the doorframe. Nurse Redheart began to wheel her into the orange glow of the window-lit hallway. "Thanks, doc," she called back, one final time.