It was an evening like any other when the dark figured appeared before the palace guards and demanded and audience with Celestia. At first the robed figure was denied entry, until he revealed he was a griffon that came on behalf of the sovereign nation across the seas to far east. After his claim was verified and it was established the message being delivered was of the utmost urgency, the Princess was awakened and gave the emissary her full attention as he divulged his ponderous message. Upon its completion the Princess was left to weigh some important decisions that could most certainly reshape all of Equestria, perhaps more.
"But why," she asked the emissary, "Why is it that Lord Graywing needs the aid of Equestria? The griffons have long stood a powerful nation whose strength is unmatched. If I'm not mistaken, Lord Graywing's long rule not only surpasses the reign of my sister and myself, but it is my is might of his battalions that are lands are protected."
The griffon emissary looked back at her with fierce pride burning in his chest. "Make no mistake, Princess, the griffons have long kept Equestria safe from foes that would set their claws on your very lands. The mere threat of vengeance was enough to stave off all manner of beasts. But," his voiced hardened from one of pride to one of foreboding certainty, "If we do not join together, griffon, pony, canine... dare I say all the races…If we do not join together, I fear we will swept away by this fierce river's current." With that, he made his way to the door.
"Messenger, tell Lord Graywing I will ponder these issues, but will not rush to send my ponies to their deaths," Princess Celestia said with dignity befitting any ruler.
The messenger bowed, spread his wings and then was gone.
The two pegasus were making their way past the clouds and into the blue sky towards the very upper levels of Cloudsdale itself. The sun was high in the sky above them and the wind sang in their ears as they soared ever higher. Rainbow Dash raced ahead of her friend, occasionally stalling and waiting for her companion to catch up. Fluttershy, not being as accomplished in her skills as a flier, struggled to keep up, yet trying her best not to keep her friend from being late.
"Oh my, I'm so sorry for keeping you," she said sheepishly. "I really didn't want to be a bother. Oh, gee, there certainly are a lot of ponies coming." Fluttershy announced as she took notice to all of the pegasi rushing past them.
"Well of course! This is the first time ever that the Wonderbolts have decided to hold open tryouts! Any flier who's any flier is going to be there, and I'm going to blow them all away and make the cut. This is my chance Fluttershy, I just know it!"
Once they reached the proving grounds and registered Rainbow Dash in the competition, the two walked around and took in the spectacle that was unfolding before them. Wonderbolt toys and merchandise, booths where you could get your picture taken with a few of the Wonderbolts, as well as many other things one would expect from a fair pervaded the area. The air all around was filled with pegasi buzzing about them, practicing loop-the-loops, corkscrews, and all manner of advanced flying techniques. Rainbow Dash was carefully scoping them out; the more she looked, the more cocky she felt.
"Fluttershy this will be a breeze! I'm faster than everypony here and I'm pretty sure my stunts and tricks can run circles around all of them! Did you see that filly's corkscrew? Totally weak! That stallion's high speed U-turn is sloppy! Fluttershy, I got this in the bag."
"I'm certain the Best young Flier in all Equestria will have a leg up on the competition. Oh Rainbow Dash, I just know you'll make it. I'm going to find some good seats to watch the show."
"Okay, just try to get as close to the action as you can so I hear you cheering me on just like we practiced!" the Cyan Pony said before turning and heading off in another direction to try and find her place for the events. It take long for the pink maned butterscotch pegasus to locate a good spot, and shortly there after Fluttershy heard the announcements begin. The gathered crowd grew excited as the participants scrambled as the announcer began telling everypony that the tryouts would be commencing soon and the fliers were all to gather at the heart of the outdoor arena.
"Ladies and gentlecolts!" the voice boomed loud enough to fill up the entire air space, "We would like to welcome you to watch our best and bravest put their mettle and wingz to the test, in hopes of earning a spot on your very own Wonderbolts!… And here they come now! The lighting on a clear day, the one, the only, the WONDERBOLTS!" Just as the announcer finished, the sky was filled with applause and hoof stomping as every head turned upwards to watch the Equestria's elite descend from on high. With a mighty roar, the Wonderbolts soared into view, thick black trails of smoke issuing from behind them as they flew in tight, controlled formation. "Oooh's" and "aaah's" were heard from everypony as fancy air techniques were performed in complete unison before erupting in a deafening cheer when they finally landed and took their place at the speaker's podium.
Once the crowd's roar died down, their Captain, the one called Spitfire stepped forward. Her burning bright yellow and orange mane blowing in the wind, addressed the young fillies and colts before her. "I would like to thank all of you for coming out. There comes a time when we, the Wonderbolts, looking for the best fliers... the bravest fliers... the greatest pegasi that their is! Today is one such day! You will tried and tested. You will be examined and judged. For Equestria had need, and by the Princess we shall answer! What say you?!" A patriotic cheer rose from the participants and crowds alike from her small impassioned speech that required her to wait until they died down before continuing. "We have a plethora of trials that will put everypony to the test. Your speed, your agility, your reflexes, and most importantly, how well you can operate with fellow fliers to get the job done. Let the tryouts begin!"
Then, with another large roar from the crowd, the events began. First up was a race. A simple ten laps around the track to determine who was the fastest. Rainbow Dash was placed into the third group to go, and as she confidently trotted to her place at the line she shot quick sideways glances at the stallions and mares she was up against. Once in position, she prepped herself for the high speed take off by arching her back, lowering her head down, and spreading her wings wide .The cyan pegasus couldn't help but let a smile creep across her face.
"This is my event," Rainbow Dash muttered to herself. "This will show everypony that I play to win!"
As the checkered flag flew to signal the race's start, Rainbow Dash thrust her wings back as hard as should could and took off with frightening speed, enough so that a rainbow trail followed in her wake. As she continued to beat her wings fiercely, she saw there were two other stallions that were doing their best to keep up which only served to amuse Rainbow Dash as she laughed to herself. "Sorry boys," she called back to them, "this one's all mine!" With that she poured more of her strength into her wings and began to distance herself. As she pulled away, the crowd cheered and roared her name. One lap down, nine to go with nopony ahead of her, but that was what she had expected, but it didn't cause her to let up either.After all, she wasn't just racing them, she was racing everypony. This thought pushed her to go on, go harder, go faster. Two laps down and showed the Wonderbolts...showed the world, that this is what she was built for; speed. Third lap, fourth, then the fifth. On the sixth lap she began to lap the slower pegasai, but that only pushed her to keep going. Ninth, tenth! As she made her final lap, Rainbow felt tears in her eyes of joy and happiness. As she crossed the finish line, the crowd continued to sing its excitement. Spitfire herself was manning the stop watch and was there to congratulate her.
"Great job kid! That was some of the fastest flying I have ever seen! You shattered the lap sprint record, Hell, I think you may have topped Fleet Foot's time! Kid, you're dynamite!"
"Oh that," Rainbow Dash tried to play it off cool tossing her multi-colored mane behind her, regaining her composure from her panting. "That was nothing. I'm gonna be running circles around everypony else all day, you just wait and see!"
Spitfire chuckled with a gleam of admiration in her eye, "Well kid, keep this up this pace and we'll have a spot for you for su-"
"Whao! Now that was fast flying!! We could really use a mare like you!" Another voice barged in cutting Spitfire short. The interruption came by way of a white stallion with a blue mane. "Speed like that is what we need to take us to the next level."
It was Soarin', Rainbow Dash knew he was not only a legendary flier, but the Ace of the Wonderbolts due to his skill in acrobatics and his unparalleled agility in the air. She had met him a few times before, most notably at the Gala where she sought out his attention unsuccessfully, and again at the royal wedding where she was able to get a dance in with him. She blushed at his comments. "Thanks, uhh, it was nothing, really..." She scrapped at the clouds beneath her with a one hoof. Then looking back at him he noticed his eyes were not exactly focused on her face. Dash felt her heart skip a beat, truth be told, she had always sported a large crush on Soarin'. The way a school-filly might idolize a rockstar, but never in a million years did she ever think she would have chance with him. Yet here was...and once more, here he was admiring her?! Not wasting the opportunity she turned, allowing him to have a full side view of her slim, well toned profile, which she noticed the flying Ace did not let go to waste.
"Soarin'," Spitfire blurted out, drawing his attention away from her, almost sounding annoyed at the situation. "Aren't you supposed to be judging the agility tests with Fleet foot?"
"Whoops, back to work I guess! See you at agility then," the stallion chortled, oblivious to her upset demeanor and took off to his respective station.
"You'll need to forgive Soarin'," Spitfire spoke a loud as the two of them watched the Navy maned Stallion fly off, before turning back to face the cyan pegasus. "I try to keep a leash on him the best I can, but any filly that catches his eyes he just has flirt with."
"Oh geez, I didn't even notice," Rainbow Dash lied as she quickly realized how bad it would look for her if Spitfire were to think anything foalish was going on between them. "I just thought he was trying to be nice, so, umm, no harm no foul." she quickly added as nervous fake smile grew on her face.
"Hmm, cute," Spitfire remarked with a shred of arrogance in her voice and something else that Dash couldn't quite place but knew for sure she definitely didn't like. However Rainbow Dash wouldn't be able to dwell on it as the Captain of the Wonderbolts spread her wings and began to take off to begin the next event. "Good luck today kid,"
The next event was reflex testing, which the goal was to avoid clouds thrust at her from all sides. Things were going very well as she dodged clouds coming up from the left and right and in front of her, but she was clipped by a cloud that pummeled her from behind, throwing her off balance, causing her to hit another before the test was done. Still, she had netted fourth overall. In all three events, she had come in the top five and the speed test she came in first, so in her mind she felts she was a shoe-in for at least one of the spots open on the Wonderbolts.
Before long the last event was upon them, but instead of a solo completion it was a test of team building skills. First, they weeded out those that did not possess the skills that they were looking for. A great majority of competitors were handed consolation prizes and told to join the stands and that, perhaps next time, they might be able to get in. They had narrowed it down to the top 25. Now, it was down to Rainbow Dash and 24 other ponies.