As Fleet waited for her student, she would be met with a passing gush of wind and a streak of feathers brushing right by her "See you there yesterday!" Gilda yelled out, slowing for just long enough to spit those words out before thrusting down with her wings and into a more aerodynamic shape and zooming through the city. She was pretty sure she didn't stand much of a chance against Fleet in an all out race...but now she had a head start! Not to mention she didn't have saddlebags. They were built for ponies and despite Gilda being pretty large, her feline back wasn't quite as stiff and rested a bit lower than a ponies, making saddlebags uncomfortable and drag on the ground. BUT both those things together could have been just barelty enough to give the wondermare a little bit of a challenge...as long as Gilda kept her corners tight, something she was notoriously bad at managing, but would try it just for fun here.
"Don't wanna be late!" she said at just under a full blown yell. She zipped around a building, her wing clipping the clouds and causing her to droop for just a moment. Oops. She probably should have kept her eyes focused on what was in front of her. Clouds seemed nice, and cuddly and soft...until you crashed into them. In fact, there were entire books about how those soft cuddly balls of white cotton were actually very dangerous little balls of...well, still pretty much cotton, but less friendly cotton for sure!
There was so much more to racing than just speed, Fleetfoot thought to herself as she darted through the air after the Griffon. Though she didn't really hold it against Gilda for enthusiastically wanting to race her, the pegasus's racing instinct took over immediately, looking for flaws in Gilda's style that she could exploit... if this were a real race.
Such as the amount of effort Gilda was expending so early, to keep her lead. Fleet increased her own pace, but only enough to fall neatly into her friend's slip stream as she banked around the corner that nearly snagged her student. This was the position that Gilda should strive for, if she should ever wish to race seriously. Her friend had a significant amount of power, but not as much speed. Gilda's best tactic would be to ride the leader's draft, putting the pressure on the leader to go faster while using less energy herself, And then, when you reached the last third of the race, or when the leader began to flag, as the griffon's deeper breaths hinted, why then... then..!!
Fleet shot forward in a sudden burst of speed, tucking into a shallow swoop to slide neatly under Gilda, before coming up ahead of her. That was another fault of many novice racers. They were too often stuck in two dimensional thinking, believing that passing could only be done on the side. Aerial races often didn't hold that limitation, as long as the racer followed the course and passed between the markers at every checkpoint!
Gilda, for a moment, thought that she might be able to keep her lead thanks to the early start...but that dream faded quickly as Fleetfoot swooped up from under her. Gilda stalled in surprise for a moment and lost even more ground. She pushed forward but the damage was done and she had already lost. While she might have had a chance at keeping a lead on Fleetfoot there was no chance in Tartarus of her taking the leadfrom Fleetfoot.
She did her best though, not one to give up without a fight. She only seemed to be losing ground though, not very inspiring for doing ones best and as they approached the final destination Gilda decided the best she could hope for was a strong finish. She made sure her speed didn't decrease for the rest of the flight, landing as a small crowd appeared in the usually rather barren landscape of the industrial section of Cloudsdale...well, maybe barren wasn't the right word. Even industrial buildings held a certain life to them when made of clouds, not to mention that what they made was a bit more interesting than most factories. Rainbows could be seen through the windows and lightning flashes could be seen, even underneath their feet as energy was sent from the lightning generator to other buildings.
She smirked at Fleet. "Not goin easy on me huh?" she said, striding forward steadily, even if she was tired. After a quick stretch Gilda went back to her proud, upright and practically confrontational, thanks to the confidence she exuded, posture. "Well, we're here...I think we have a few minutes to spare, should probably check out the competition right?"
"You know it," Fleet replied, meeting Gilda's eagle eye without a trace of shame and matching smirk for smirk. "You'd never forgive me if I just let you win, you know. One day, You'll beat me in a race, and when that happens, you'll know you really won it. You'll never have to wonder if I let you win." Fleet predicted, with perfect confidence. "But not today," she added, mischievously.
As she strolled along with Gilda within the area where fliers were ever-so-casually gathering and eying each other up, she felt that needle-sharp pang of being stared at. Those icy cold needles... but they passed quickly. Most of the attention was being drawn to Gilda. She was a griffon, a mild rarity in itself. And she was even if Fleet said so herself, in fighting-fit condition. Beside her, "Skye" looked too small and too thin to be any serious kind of racer.
"That reddish brown Stallion's checking you out... I think he has more than racing on his mind~♪"The pegasus teased. It was true though. That particular Stallion's look was not only competitive, but faintly tinged with admiration, too. Or so it looked to Skye.
She supposed knowing she had actually beat Fleetfoot would be pretty awesome, but it was never gonna happen in her mind. She was pretty sure the only way she would be passing Fleet for real would be when she was too old to hit her former speeds. That wouldn't keep her from trying though. Gilda loved a good challenge. Having something to hunt made her eyes, talons and senses sharper than ever.
This showed under the unrelenting gaze of those they were meeting. While most might lose confidence and wonder if they were even welcome in the venue then try to shrink and fit in. Gilda seemed larger than ever now that she was in the spotlight. She had a sly smile and a defiant confidence that dared someone to say a word against her. It also said that she wouldn't let that word go unpunished though. Predatory. Gilda would never understand Fleetfoot's aversion to the gaze of the crowd. Gilda craved it, no matter the circumstance. Even gazes of hatred were like bathing in sunlight to this Bird of Prey.
Gilda glanced at the Stallion Fleetfoot mentioned. A bored glance. "He can keep dreaming." she said, making no attempt one way or another to keep her voice from reaching him, or anyone else near. "Wanna be with me, gotta beat me, and today..." she stretched her wings "I'm feeling like a winner...that race just now didn't count." she added on quickly.
Skye gave Gilda a mischievous smirk. ”So you’re only interested in someone who can beat you in a race, huh? Then I guess it really is a shame that the last race between us doesn’t count!” the Wonderbolt chuckled. She was teasing, of course. Though she wasn’t entirely sure if Gilda’s admiration stretched that far, she did know the griffon was very fond of her. But it didn’t matter, anyway. As her protegee, Fleetfoot had to keep her conduct impeccably honorable. If the relationship between them was anything but that of good friends and mentor and apprentice, things would get weird and murky in a hurry.
Still, it did make her wonder about Gilda’s preferences. She was so strong, so fierce, even beyond the normal griffon ken, that it was hard to imagine those eagle eyes ever looking meltingly, or even trustingly, at a male griff. Or pony, if it came to that. And it was just as hard for Fleet to imagine Gilda being loving and gentle, even in a blunt, offhoov- er, offhan- ...Offclawed? way even to a female griff. Or pony. Even her relationship with Rainbow Dash, as Fleet understood it, was one of friendly rivalry. And even then, Dash beat Gilda at whatever they were doing more often than otherwise. Fleet wondered if the friendship would last if it had been the reverse.
And then Skye wondered why she was even wondering at all.
"Gilda, Have you ever actually been in a romantic relationship?"
Gilda blushed. It wasn't that she considered Fleetfoot a romantic partner, or even someone with the potential to be a romantic partner(she would have a hard time refusing the chance though). It was more a matter of of dreams, that could be considered romantic but mostly would just be incredibly embarrassing if Fleet ever caught wind of them! It was a good thing Gilda wasn't planning on telling anybody....ever. Some things just had to be kept a secret.
Gilda's dating history, apparently, was not one of those things. Gilda usually would have responded with a simple no. Fleet's tone, however, suggested that no was the wrong. No, the unexpected answer...but the answer was still just that "No." she said, with slight apprehension. She quickly rallied and brushed the question off "It's not like anypony is cool enough to date me anyways, even if they wanted to try it." she said plainly with as much faux confidence she could muster, which was quite a lot thanks to her considerable practice in everyday life.
"I mean, look at me, I'm talons beak and claws not exactly a pony magnet." she continued, trying to joke around but realizing she had tripped pretty hard too late. "...anyways, I had a crush in, like, flight camp, and it didn't work out and haven't had one since. Too distracting anyways. I need to focus on flying." There. THAT was the truth. A coltfriend would be a HUGE distraction, not to mention there wasn't a chance in tartarus that any pegasus other than Dash would match her skill, and she didn't want someone literally slowing her down, as well as being generally inferior. "what about you Fleet? Whats your history with romance?"
It didn’t really surprise the Pegasus that Gilda had been sidelined on the dating scene. The Wonderbolt in her winced over it, though. Putting aside her species and ...lets just call them ‘Griffon Accessories’ such as talons, claws, a razor sharp beak and a taste for blood- Gilda’s standoffishness and attitude was probably just as big a deterrent to romance as anything else. And while the Griffoness might brush it off casually as leaving her more time open to work on her flying… Flying didn’t keep a body warm on a lonely night. ...Well, okay, it would but that was beside the point. The point was, Gilda must be lonely sometimes. Even if she didn’t, couldn’t wouldn’t admit it. Fleet was just about to make a gentle remark to that effect, when…
"what about you Fleet? What’s your history with romance?"
Ooof! Talk about awkward questions! Skye couldn’t say that she didn’t deserve it, though. The pegasus reminded herself that a pony should never ask a question they weren’t ready to answer if the tables were turned. Which they were now. The pegasus braced herself for a moment of honesty.
”I’m in an awkward place, actually.” Skye admitted at last. ”I have a marefriend, and this is my f-first relationship but… but there’s someone else I love too, whom I’ve always loved. He doesn’t know. I mean, he knows I exist… Let’s be honest, who doesn’t know I exist? But I don’t think he loves me. I’m not even sure that he really… sees me. Sees beyond the Wonderbolt, I mean.” Skye’s voice softened as she spoke. She was more thinking aloud to herself. ”But most people don’t, you know. And really… is there anything worth seeing? A shy, anxious pegasus mare...Whoop de do. You can find those anywhere. Equestria’s Fastest Wonderbolt… now that’s something you don’t see every day.” And yet the mare’s voice was sad, even regretful, as she spoke.
Gilda tilted her head, looking at Fleet. She hadn't ever really thought of Fleet with anybody. She never even considered the possibility. But here she was saying that she already had a marefriend and a bit of conflict with that relationship because she was interested in someone else. She was an entire relationship ahead of Gilda's whopping zero relationships! Gilda couldn't help but wonder what stallion was worth the attention of Fleetfoot. Even if she didn't think 'Skye' was special. Gilda didn't care. She wasn't Skye and the Fleetfoot she expressed in uniform wasn't her either. She was somewhere in the middle, both of them but different.
"Actually, personally, I see the fastest mare pretty often. The shy, anxious mare could come around more often, but I'd rather just hang out with both of them." she said, wrapping a wing around Fleetfoot briefly. Wing were great comforters. They were warm. They were soft and had the ability to give a nice complete wrapped feeling to whoever was getting the wing hug. Any griffon or pegasus had probably spent many a night wrapped by their parent's wing and maybe even several nice moments with a friend after a tragedy.
Gilda made a small note in her head: Don't bring romance up too often. It wasn't good for fostering fun feelings or gathering good times. At least not with the current company. "Anyways, do whatever you think will suit you best Fleet, ask him out or something...unless your marefriend is, really cool. But if it's less than perfect it's not really worth it. That's my motto for romance anyways...course I also haven't been in a relationship, but I think it's good advice."
Fleet's expression quirked into a smile, and her eyes lit up, mischievously. But she leaned into the wing-hug and returned the gesture. "Is that so, Gilda?" The pegasus replied with a teasing tone, "And is the reason you've never been in a relationship just because you've never met anyone 'worth' it? Would you have the guts to go up and introduce yourself to a pony if you did see someone who was perfect?" Though the words might have stung in any other tone of voice, Fleet said them so playfully that it seemed hard to take offense.
"We're getting distracted though. Look at that mean-looking mare." Fleet gestured to the one by a shrug of the shoulders and an incline of the head "I know her. She plays rough. Sometimes, she cheats. Rules aren't strictly enforced in cloud racing, so watch out. And that guy... He's very fast. Not as fast as me, of course. Not much endurance, either. Unless he's changed, Don't be surprised if he blows past everyone at the start. He'll be a lot slower by the end, if he even finishes."
Fleet's voice was teasing, but Gilda was pretty serious! She knew a few kinds of love. Family ties, looking up to someone in adoration and wanting to take care of someone. Her family was family and since everyone she wanted to take care of was a foal, they weren't an option.(she was part lion, not part cougar) so as far as she was concerned looking up to someone was the only way to love them in a romantic sense.
But Fleet was right! They had gotten off subject and were wasting time now. They had a bunch of competition to check out and only a bit of time to do it. Gilda, as a Wonderbolt prospect, didn't do all too much cloud racing for fear of getting caught and getting in serious trouble. She did, however, break down on nights when she was frustrated or angry or reeeaaaaally bored. Still, she was going to be out of her element during the race. At the same time, she was pretty sure she was going to adapt rather quickly if 'playing rough' was allowed. Gilda had plenty of experience with being rough!
"Don't worry about me Fleet, I can handle this. Maybe you should be the careful one." she said, he words dropping in volume so only Fleet could hear, "If you blow everyone out of the skies you might blow your cover." she said semi-seriously. There wasn't a huge chance of it happening, but even if they didn't find out that Skye was Fleetfoot, they'd at least think she was some absolutely great flier.
Fleet wasn't sure what kind of reaction to her warnings she expected, but the reaction she got didn't surprise her at all. Gilda did, indeed, look like the kind of pony-er, griffon, who could play rough if the situation called for it. The concern for her identity was touching, though. Fleet had assumed Gilda didn't understand the importance of not being publicly known out of uniform. And perhaps she still didn't.
She did, however, seem to grasp that it was important to Fleet.
The pegasus mare smiled thoughtfully at her friend. "Thanks for the warning," she replied seriously. "In the heat of a race, its easy to get carried away." She was going to say more, but then a pegasus with a self-important swagger and absolutely ridiculous hair called out for the racers to throw their stakes into the pot and take position!
Gilda thought for a moment. While cloudracing was already shady activity, gambling outside of 'respected' places was even shadier, not to mention slightly completely against Equestrian law. It would add to the amount of trouble she'd be in if she got in trouble...IF she got caught. She just would have to make sure she didn't get caught...or seen very well, not many griffons in Cloudsdale to throw into a lineup and given her history, she'd probably end up in one if the guard saw her. Luckily the guard's presence in Cloudsdale was usually pretty weak, even in the weather district, where it was stronger than most of the city.
Lots of ponies whined about it but since ONLY pegasi could safely live in Cloudsdale and they were needed everywhere, not just Cloudsdale, the city essentially had to deal with it. It was a pretty peaceful city anyways. Property damage was usually fixed easily, given that everything was made of clouds. "Looks like it's time to line up." Gilda said, practically hopping towards the starting line. She didn't get one of the prime positions up front but she did make it to the inside edge of the first turn!
She tensed as the countdown began, emptying her mind...for the most part. She wasn't much of a 'zen' kinda of racer so the thoughts of "I'm going to smoke these dweebs" tended to sneak it's way in there!
The Fun Has Been Doubled! is a My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic moderate-to-advanced forum roleplay. Set after the events of the fifth season, we currently have no overarching plot. Instead, we simply have created the world of Equestria for you as a giant playground to have fun in and to explore the magic of friendship. Canon characters and original characters are available for you to play as, both ponies and non-pony species alike! Just remember that we are account-per-character and we'll be fine!
So why don't you stay for a while, look around, and let us know if we should get a welcome party started for you.