Part 36 - Left In The Dust
Twilight Sparkle peered intently through the telescope mounted on the Friend Ship's forward platform, the hot wind of the San Palomino desert fluttering her mane and heralding the wall of billowing sand that churned on the horizon in a dun colored haze. She grasped the spyglass in both hooves and angled it upward, tracking the progress of a bright flare that launched in the distance, its radiant pink star burst reforming into a diamond, then an apple, then settling into a white triangle pointed downward.
The lavender unicorn turned to the adolescent dragon who loomed at her side with a map of Equestria and a quill in his dextrous claws. "There's the landing signal."
She turned and caught up her astrolabe out of its case, raising it to her eye and taking a sighting on the floating firework in the far distance. "By my calculations, they're making camp three degrees north north west of point zero fower seven apple cupcake niner fife butterfly donut."
Twilight set aside the astrolabe and looked over the map as Spike made an X on a point several miles beyond the Palomino Grande river. She cocked an eyebrow at him as a rumbling sounded from behind the leathery plates girding his stomach. "Spike, you can't possibly be hungry so soon after you polished off that whole bag of turquoise."
The young dragon looked down at his guardian with a defensive look on his face. "I'm not! Not really. I mean even though it sounds like you're reading a menu I..." He cut off suddenly as a huge gout of bright pink flame erupted from his jaws.
As he and Twilight stared in shock, the lurid fire spiraled in upon itself and popped into a fluttering sheet of paper. Spike lashed out with a claw and caught it before the wind could whisk it away.
They turned with a start as Apple Bloom's voice sounded behind them, and saw her standing in the hatchway to the balloon's cabin with her amber eyes wide in astonishment. "Criminitly! I ain't never seen that color o' fire comin' outta ya before, Spike!"
The young dragon barely flicked an aural spine in response as he studied the paper he'd just coughed up. "It... it's gotta be from Quilly. There's her clan mark there, but I can't... I can't make sense out of it."
Twilight bit her lip and laid a hoof on his knee. "Um... Can I see it, Spike?"
Her expression became serious as she studied the page, which to her practiced eye had clearly been torn out of a book that had been made with a very old fashioned binding method. "It's in Classical Draconic, with... with little hearts for the accent strikes."
She furrowed her brow and started to translate the short note, marveling at how a script she'd seen carved by diamond hard claws into the sides of volcanos could be rendered in such a girlish fashion. "Dearest Spike, I pray to She In Whose Hoard The World Is But A Jewel that this reaches you. I have been abandoned by my unfaithful companions and am at my wit's end. I am at the side of the large river crossing this desert, at the foot of a white peaked mountain to the southwest. I have nopony to turn to except you, please help!"
The young dragon's wings flared urgently and carried him aloft. "Holy guacamole! Quilly's in trouble! I gotta go help her!"
He screeched to a midair halt as the lavender mare's voice rang out sharply. "Spike! Stop right there!" She reared up and hooked her fore hooves over the railing, meeting his puzzled, green eyed gaze. "We need to reach Soarin and Pip's camp site before that storm overtakes them."
The purple scaled dragonet turned to his guardian with a pleading look on his face. "But... but Twilight, you said we'd be the first to stop and help if she ever got in trouble."
She lashed her tail. "And you said you'd never abandon m... I mean us. Abandon us."
Apple Bloom chimed in. "Ain't abandonin' anypony if'n we all go, Twilight."
She took a step back as the unicorn mare rounded on her with a scowl, but cleared her throat and met her employer's angry glare with a level gaze. "Like I said, practical problems..."
Twilight huffed and averted her eyes. "Can... can we table this discussion until later? We don't have a lot of time."
She took a glance at Spike, who hovered there wringing his claws and kept looking with urgent longing toward the snow capped mountain in the far distance. Her ears laid back in defeat as she let out a sigh. "We're going to have to hurry if we're going to see what we can do for Quillina and still make it to Pip and Soarin's location."
Spike gave her an earnest smile as he caught the line she tossed him with her magic. "Thanks, Twilight."
He curled his tail up in front of him, deftly tying the rope off around the spade like flaring at the tip, and then wheeled and lit out toward the point in the distance where the dull blue of the Palomino Grande river wound past the roots of the snow peaked sandstone mountain that sat in the heart of the San Palomino desert.
Twilight braced her hooves as the Friend Ship's gondola jerked sideways from the line going tight, and rounded on Apple Bloom. "Well? Since you're being so helpful, why don't you get in there and adjust our course for this little side trip?"
The red headed handymare's wore a deadpan expression as she turned to make her way into the cabin. "Will do, Doc..."
She paused in the hatchway, cocking an eyebrow over her shoulder at the lavender unicorn. "Y'know, I'm kinda wonderin' if'n I ain't th' only gal on this balloon's got problems with holdin' on too tight t' somethin'. Or somepony. Just sayin'."
With that she headed inside to take the helm. Twilight's slumped to her haunches with a sigh, her ears drooping and her eyes glistening with moisture. She turned with a wistful gaze and watched the dragon she'd helped raise from a tiny, wingless, wide eyed infant, now a powerful creature of the air, cutting through the sky like the tip of a spear with mighty beats of his leathery wings.
Professor Destiny wriggled out from under the weight of his flying harness, struggling to his hooves as the airborne sand carried on powerful, whirling winds lashed at his scrawny frame. The featureless billows of dust and grit surrounded the hapless unicorn, and rendered him unable to see more than two hooves in front of his face. The only sounds to reach his ears was the howling of the storm and his own frantic voice. "FLIM! FLIIIIM! WHERE IN BLAZES ARE YOU!? FLIIIIM!"
The fine dust nearly clogging his gasmask wasn't the only thing making his breathing labored. Panic was taking hold of him, sharp like icicles and burning like poorly contained phlogiston.
He'd lost his brother. He'd really lost him. What if he was... was gone? Gone forever? A pony could snap his neck in a crash and be buried without a trace in a sandstorm like this, never to be seen again. The thought chilled his heart, making it feel like an eggshell ready to shatter into pieces inside his heaving chest.
His voice cracked a bit as he called into the vortex around him, the lenses of his goggles beginning to fog up from the moisture that was creeping out from underneath. "FLIM! FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE, ANSWER ME! PLEASE! FLIIIIIM!"
His legs sagged beneath him and he sat down heavily on his rump, his shoulders beginning to shake as he bowed his head. "P-please. I just got you back. Please..."
The Palomino Grande river roared past, indifferent to the plight of the slender golden dragoness who slouched on its dusty banks, sobbing into a discarded flight suit, her tears staining both the hot pink, rhinestone studded outfit and her wind burnished cheeks with streaks of mascara. Several more of the garish garments lay scattered about her in the sand where they'd been tossed aside, now her only companionship in the vast, unfamiliar wilderness.
A hopeful gasp caught in her long, slender throat as a voice called out to her on the wind. "Quillina!"
She turned, clutching the empty flight suit to her ridged breast, her amethyst eyes lighting up as she saw rescue approach on green, membranous wings with a purple balloon in tow. She tossed the rhinestone festooned coveralls aside and bounded skyward with a beat of her own pink wings. "Spike!"
They met in midair, with the larger dragoness crushing the younger drake to her chest wings and all, their necks intwining as expressions of joy and relief washed across both their faces. They hovered, buoyed in the air by Quillina's steady wingbeats, as she softly wept while Spike comforted her.
Twilight signaled Apple Bloom to reverse turbines and bring the Friend Ship to a stop. She leaned on the railing and watched the two young dragons' happy reunion with a look of deep contemplation on her face, belied by her drooping ears and a gleam of moisture at the corners of her eyes.
A short time later, they sheltered from the harsh desert sun in the shade cast by Harmony Aeronautics' balloon as Quillina held Spike's claw in her own and spoke to the adolescent drake and the two pony mares in her dulcet voice, regaling them with the story of her abandonment. "I declare, I simply didn't know what to do."
She gave a nod toward the wall of dusty clouds moving toward them over the horizon. "They took one look at that storm brewin' yonder and quit right then and there. I pleaded with them, but they said that no amount of gold and jewels would convince them to stay."
The dainty dragoness let out a puff of white smoke with a tiny sniffle as she wiped the corner of her eye. "And they said they'd always hated their uniforms too. Mister Airfoil called them tacky! Oh, it was simply dreadful."
Spike let out a growl, his brow darkening as he scanned the horizon. "Well, if I ever catch those creeps you can bet I'll add some injury to that insult."
Twilight pawed at the ground, taken a bit aback by her assistant's vehemence. "Well, I don't know about that, Spike. Two wrongs don't make a right, you know. What we should do is report them to the authorities."
The young dragon snorted and rolled his eyes. "For what? I'd bet diamonds to donuts a judge would let 'em off 'cos Quilly here is a 'big scary' dragon and they're just ponies."
His guardian gave a toss of her pink and purple streaked mane. "Dragon or not, Quillina is a guest in our land, and it was wrong of them to just abandon her out here. She's well within her rights as a visiting foreigner to petition for redress in civil court for breach of contract."
Quillina sniffed disdainfully and flicked her tail into a delicate curl. "Well, I'm not going to spare those scoundrels any more thought."
She gave them a coquettish smile. "Especially when there are much nicer ponies to speak about. I'm just evah so grateful that y'all got my note."
The lavender unicorn cocked her head inquisitively at the change of subject. "Who taught you how to flame cast anyway, your grandfather?"
The golden dragoness shook her head. "Oh no. Grand Daddy refused to teach me the trick of it. He said if any of his vassals, client drakes, or distant relations found out I could do it I'd be coughing up correspondence all day and night like a li'l ol' volcano."
She smiled fondly at Spike and gave his clawed hand a squeeze. "Spikey here told me a bit about what Princess Celestia taught him. I just thought about him as hard as I could and flamed the note."
With that, she turned and arched her neck to give the young drake a quick peck on the cheek, which caused his slitted green eyes to bug out as a blush blossomed on his dumbstruck face.
Twilight smiled in spite of herself, and let out a sigh as she gazed at the western horizon. "All right. As charming as all of this is, we should be getting a move on to the rendezvous point with Pip and Soarin."
She turned to meet the dragon heiress' amethyst colored eyes. "You're welcome to fly along with us until we reach Los Pegasus, Miss Delve Ender."
The draconic heiress reared up, clutching her claws to her breast "Oh, Doctor Sparkle, I'd be evah so grateful!"
Twilight gave her a terse nod. "Not a problem. And from there I'm sure you'll be able to arrange transportation back to your homeland and hoard."
Quillina let out a gasp and drew herself up, laying her claw tips against her cheeks as a look of realization dawned on her tapered face. "Oh... Oh dear. It simply didn't occur to me until now, but I guess I'm out of the race, aren't I? I'm disqualified if I go on alone."
A tiny sob sounded from her throat, as her eyes became large and liquid. "Oh dear. And I so wanted to see Canterlot. And… And Cloudsdale. Oh..."
Spike snatched up one of the discarded flight suits to hand to her as a clawkerchief as fresh tears began to pool at the corners of her eyes and flow down her burnished golden cheeks. Apple Bloom edged over to Twilight's side and murmured out of the side of her mouth. "I don't get it. How come she can't just visit them places anyhow?"
Twilight turned to her with a wan expression. "Both cities, especially Canterlot, forbid dragons from entry since ancient times. I know it doesn't seem fair when you look at Quillina, but you have to remember that back in the old days the only reason dragons would venture into pony settlements was on raids."
The red headed handymare cocked an eyebrow. "But Spike lives in Canterlot."
The unicorn scholar gave a small shake of her head. "He was born in Canterlot, he's a naturalized citizen, plus he's a ward of the crown."
She gave a sad look to Quillina as she dabbed her tears with the hot pink jumpsuit. "That's one loophole, another was being a legitimate competitor in the Pegathalon."
Twilight's face fell as she looked at Spike, and saw a thoughtful expression furrowing his brow. The precise wheels in her head turned inexorably toward the conclusion that she had no doubt her precious draconic assistant was coming to. Her ears laid back, as she inwardly cringed, chastising herself for never being able to just shut up before her logorrhea hit the fan.
She fought back a wince as he opened his mouth to speak. "Why don't I go with you, Quilly? I could be your partner for the race."
Quillina reared up, an expression of pure joy lighting up her golden features. "Oh Spikey, you'd do that for li'l ol' me?"
She swept him up into a hug of such intensity that she squeezed a gout of green flames out of his nostrils. "Oh you wonderful hunk o' burnin' love!"
Both young dragons stiffened as Twilight drew herself up and stomped a hoof. "Now wait a minute! As your guardian, Spike, I think I have something to say about that!"
The adolescent drake disengaged from Quillina's sinuous embrace and turned to face the lavender unicorn who stood staring at him with glaring eyes and a hiked tail. He dropped to all fours and met her gaze, reaching out a hand to her. "So... what do you say, Twilight?"
She let out a long, weary sigh, her tail drooping as she laid her hoof in his palm, averting her gaze. "I... I guess all I can say is... is..."
She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Yes."
Her next breath was almost forced out of her as he took her into a hug. With shaking hooves, she returned his embrace, gently stroking his smooth, steel hard scales as he whispered in her ear. "Thanks, sis. It'll be okay. I'll be fine, and both Quilly and me will keep an eye out for any trouble on the way. Don't worry."
Twilight whispered back, more to keep herself from sobbing out loud than to keep their conversation private. "I'm not worried. You're a big strong dragon. Go... g-go and make me p-proud."
Soon, the Friend Ship and its two dragon escorts had taken to the air, leaving the Palomino Grande river behind as they soared over the sandy expanses of the desert, heading toward the ominous vanguard of the dust storm in the distance and the fading outline of the location flare that Soarin and Pip had sent up from their camp.
Twilight let out the latest in a series of progressively more mournful sighs as she leaned against the hatchway and stared at Spike and Quillina flying in close formation, the relentless sun gleaming off of the fanlike membranes of gold and purple wings.
She stirred as Apple Bloom's gentle voice came from inside the cabin behind her. "Y'know, I fixed up th' hornophone from when y'all used it t' find Pip. Maybe ya oughta give Rarity a jingle, let her know what all's goin' on, maybe talk a few things over. As th' crow n' dragon flies, I reckon we got a little time 'fore we hit that ol' sandstorm and you'll have t' put up yer shield spell."
Twilight turned, managing to give the young mare a fond smile. "Thanks, Apple Bloom. That sounds... practical."
The red headed earth pony gave her a wink and a nod as she grasped the lever for the autopilot in her teeth, engaging it with a twist of her head. She sauntered past Twilight. "I reckon I'll set out here n' keep an eye on th' weather for a while."
The lavender unicorn stepped into the cabin and levitated the re-wired cone from its cradle on the side of the boxlike apparatus.
Parallel streaks of golden sunlight streaming between the louvres of the blinds drew lines in the cool shade that enveloped a luxurious feather bed recently vacated. Rarity lounged across the room on a pile of freshly laundered pillows in her imported silk kimono with curlers in her mane and tail and the gilded cone of her stateroom's 'phone hanging from the tip of her horn.
She smiled through the layer of green imported mud caked onto her face, her irritation at being awakened from a prolonged session of emergency beauty sleep evaporating with a silvery chuckle. The light that pulsed inside the gilded cone of her stateroom's 'phone changed from a bright purple to a soft blue as she replied to her friend and partner on the other end. "Oh darling, I know you're upset, but that's simply the most precious thing I've ever heard of. I'm ever so happy for him. For both of them, in fact. From what I've seen and heard she's quite the charming, well brought up young lady. Quite fitting for such a well brought up young dragon."
The alabaster mare's voice took on a sympathetic tone. "Oh no... No. I understand how you must feel. I do."
She let out a small sigh. "Well, darling, it's sort of like this. There's always a time in the process of creating a new design when I'm so taken with it that I just want to keep it all to myself. Just lock it away in my wardrobe instead of giving it to the client, but I know that's not what it was meant for. My creations are meant to go out and shine for all to see, to make their lucky recipient and the world in general that much more fabulous. Do you understand? Do you 'catch my drift' as our royal patroness would say?"
Rarity rolled her eyes. "I know it's not exactly the same darling."
Her expression became serious, a hint of a fond smile at the edges of her mouth. "My point is this: be it something as ephemeral as a dress or as significant as family, your attachment should never be a tether. In the time you've spent together, as near to being brother and sister as a pony and a dragon could be, you've each given one another a piece of your heart. He'll carry that piece with him forever, but you need to accept that he may carry it over the hills and far away someday."
The alabaster unicorn let out a wry chuckle. "And this time you won't be able to follow him in a flawlessly executed dragon costume."
She hugged one of the pillows to herself, as close as she could approximate hugging her distant friend, as she pressed on. "Spike loves you, Twilight. He'll always love you and he'll always remember you, probably longer than anypony except the princesses could conceive of, as a big sister, as a friend, as a mentor, but he should never be made to think of you as his keeper."
Rarity's dulcet voice cracked slightly as she cooed to herself with the pale blue from the cone flickering across her pale forehead. "Shhh. I know, darling. It's all right. I'm here for you. You see? We're miles apart right now, but I can still send you all of my love. And just think of when we get the Harmony Harness off the ground, as it were. You'll be able to see Spikey Wikey and his dear young lady anytime you want, wherever they might end up. Every ending has a beginning close on its heels."
Her face became pensive as the response pulsed through the ether, bathing her horn in purple light. "Oh... Well yes, you probably should see to that, darling. Do take care, and know you're in my thoughts and prayers as you sail boldly into the storm. Kiss kiss, darling. Send along my love to everypony, and give Spikey Wikey and Miss Quillina an extra big hug for me. Kiss... er... all right, good bye and good luck!"
She flopped onto her side as she floated the gilded cone to its cradle and hung it up. After a few moments of shifting, rolling over, and fighting to keep her eyes shut, they snapped open and stared into the darkened stateroom. "Oh rhinestones, I might as well admit I won't be getting back to sleep after all that."
Rarity climbed to her hooves, chirping brightly to herself. "Ah well, I suppose I'll just have to put on a brave face, get dressed, and go hobnob with the elite of Equestria for a while."
Apple Bloom turned with a searching look in her eyes as the hatch opened and Twilight stepped out, rubbing a hoof across her snout with a sniffle. She gave the elder mare a nod. "So ya have a good talk with Rarity, Twilight?"
The lavender unicorn cleared her throat and gave her chief engineer a nod. "Yeah. She gave me a lot to think about."
The young mare let out a chuckle. "That's our Rarity. Always a giver."
Twilight turned her attention to the approaching wall of roiling dust, now only a half mile away. "Well, right now we've got other things to worry about."
She flicked her horn toward the cabin. "Go and keep an eye on the controls. I'm gonna call our two lovebirds in."
With a brisk salute and a wink, the Apple Bloom hopped to, trotting back to the wheel as Twilight stepped up to the bullhorn and activated it with the touch of a hoof. "Spike! Quillina! Return to the Friend Ship, please!"
She gave a nod of satisfaction as the adolescent dragon and dragoness wheeled and doubled back on their flight path, soaring up to the balloon and bringing themselves to a hovering stop with expectant looks on their faces.
Twilight's tone was brisk and businesslike as she gave them directions. "I'm going to be casting the Shield spell on us in a few moments, but it's got a limited area of effect, so you'll need to be aboard as best as you can manage. Miss Delve Ender, I'm afraid you're a bit large, so you'll need to decide whether you want to cling to the webbing on the bag or be lashed beneath the gondola."
The golden scaled heiress thought for a moment, then nodded toward the crisscrossed ropes wrapping the purple balloon above them. "I think I'll go up top. It seems like it'd be more comfortable."
Twilight nodded. "That's what I'd choose, if I were you. Just do be careful not to puncture the envelope with your claws."
She turned her attention to her number one assistant. "Spike, we'll need you in the cabin to give us some extra flame to account for the added load."
She caught herself and gave Quillina an apologetic smile. "No offense intended, Miss Delve Ender."
The young dragoness gave a silvery laugh. "None taken, Doctor Sparkle. After so many years of being a li'l ol' knicknack on my Grand Daddy's shelf, it's nice to get treated like a big girl for a change."
With that she flew up and carefully settled on the crest of the balloon, causing it to dip a little in its flight path. Spike gave her one more lingering look and clambered over the rail, folding his wings and slipping in through the hatch into the cabin. He reared up and grasped a lever attached to a flue in the ceiling, opening it and loosing a gout of green flame into the envelope.
The wind picked up outside as Twilight felt the balloon begin to gain altitude. With a look of intense concentration on her face, she sparked her horn to life. A glimmer of purple flared on the tip, and then expanded into a shimmering violet globe that encompassed the entire craft as well as the young dragoness perched atop it, giving her enough room to move her wings a bit. She smiled down at the lavender unicorn and gave a breezy thumbs up, before directing her earnest gaze at the maelstrom of dust that loomed ahead of them.
The roiling tan clouds closed around the shimmering bubble of force, engulfing it in the howling void as they sailed onward.
Eddies of airborne sand swirled around Soarin as he stood patiently on Flies Like Thunder's shaggy, humped back, watching to the east for any sign of their pursuit crew. The buffalo shaman kneeled with his huge wings arced forward into a dome beneath a large hoof woven blanket, forming an impromptu shelter for Pip, Long Range, and himself, or at least his forelegs and head.
The young earth pony sat raptly listening, as the red painted bull and his faithful pegasus companion spun tales of their adventures on the frontier to the soft light of a firefly lantern. As they talked, they munched on apples and cactus jerky, and passed the canteen between them.
Presently, Pip politely excused himself, wrapped his scarf tightly around his snout, and slipped under the edge of the shelter and out into the whirling dust. He had to shout to be heard over the tumult of the sandstorm. "Any sign of them, mate!?"
Soarin started and looked down at his wingpony's heavily swaddled visage. "Not yet! How's everybody holding up down there!?"
Pip gave him a jaunty wave. "Steady as she goes! Would you like one of us to spell you for a while!?" He gave a wry shrug. "Well, Mister Like Thunder excepted, of course!"
The pegasus stallion used his wings to brush away the accumulated dust that had covered his sky blue coat in a layer of tan grit. "Yeah! I think I could use a little something to..."
He trailed off as he cast a glance at the sky, then craned his neck as he squinted through his goggles. "Hold it! I think I see 'em!"
He jabbed a hoof toward a smudge of shimmering purple that resolved itself into a sphere surrounding the dark shape of a hot air balloon like a gigantic soap bubble.
Soarin leapt down from the buffalo's back, landing lightly with a flap of his wings, and turned to Pip with a flick of his tail. "Get a flare, one with a white star on it, quick!"
With a nod the young pony dove under the trailing edge of the blanket, and came out a moment later with a cardboard wrapped cylinder puckering the folds of his scarf around the outlines of his mouth. Soarin took it in hoof and drew in a deep breath, drawing aside his own masking scarf to bite down on the ignition string and give it a yank. He spat out a mouthful of intruding dust as the flare hissed, sputtered, and then burst to life, sending a large white fountain of sparks into the air as he held it away from him between the tips of his forehooves.
Long Range came out from under his partner's sheltering wings with a bandanna over his snout, joining the other two ponies as they watched the shining purple sphere drift down toward them. A tingling wave passed through the massive bull and trio of stallions as the barrier spell surrounded them and let them pass through, and suddenly the howling wind and clouds of swirling sand had gone still, pushed back beyond the walls of glimmering magic and leaving a refreshing stillness and clear, slightly stuffy air all around them.
Flies Like Thunder got to his hooves and shook the dust covered blanket off, a smile spreading on his shaggy face as he took a deep breath and folded his wings. He stepped up beside the other racers, cracking his neck with a sigh of relief. "I will never disregard the center post of a teepee ever again."
Apple Bloom joined Twilight at the railing of the Friend Ship, blowing Pip a kiss before giving the others a wave. "Howdy, y'all!"
The two mares stepped aside as Spike came out of the hatch and flew up to the crest of the balloon, taking Quillina's claw in his and helping her down.
Twilight looked over the group of friends sheltering from the storm in her shimmering magic dome and gave them a smile. "Well, it looks like we've got a lot of company! I hope you all will accept a competitor's hospitality, courtesy of Harmony Aeronautics and Princess Luna!"
A cheer went up from the assembly of ponies, dragons, and buffalo, and soon picnic blankets were spread, the Friend Ship's pantry was turned open, its tiny galley put to work heating up a pot of tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches fresh from the frying pan, and a rollicking game of scrabble was initiated as the winds howled in vain outside.
Row upon row of broad white wings and burnished golden armor glittered beneath the watchful sun as the royal guards soared above the San Palomino desert in search of their quarry, approaching the dust storm as it crossed the Palomino Grande river in the opposite direction.
At the leading point of their winding formation, Sir Concord narrowed his sea blue eyes at the wall of boiling sand that stretched across the horizon in front of his battalion. "Hmmm. A sandstorm, eh? Not if we have anything to say about it."
He bellowed out instructions to his lieutenants, never taking his eyes off of the howling maelstrom of dust. "Storm suppression on my mark, lads! Rake formation! Go!"
With brisk efficiency, the airborne column fanned out into squads of pegasi, who spun up whirling cones of tunneling wind in a long row of parallel sideclones that plunged into the mass of dust clouds like the teeth of a gigantic comb.
The dust devils circling within the storms' churning core chattered in dismay as it broke apart, scarcely tasting one another's disappointment as they scattered before the determined onslaught of Equestria's implacable air cavalry, overwhelmed by the sheer confidence and strength of will brought to bear by the princess' brave knights of the sky.
The force of pegasi roared across the heavens, making short work of the dust clouds and leaving clear skies and the bright sun of their co-ruler and eternal mistress triumphant in their wake.
The characters depicted in this fiction are copyright and trademarks of Hasbro, Inc. This is a work of fan fiction, and the author makes no claim on Hasbro's copyright or trademarks.