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Anonpone & Tempest Shadow

By Mirta
Created: 20th December 2020 10:18:15 AM

  1. Anonpone & Tempest Shadow
  2.  
  3. >Anon's wings beat the air and blew up a cloud of dust as his hooves thumped on the ground.
  4. >He stuck his muzzle in his saddlebag and fished out his shopping list.
  5. >Ponies bustled around him, most of them out to simply enjoy the afternoon sun with their friends in Ponyville market.
  6. >The green and black pegasus stallion, thanks to his very mundane looks, attracted no attention – much to his reprieve.
  7. >He unrolled the list.
  8. >Carrots, apples, onions, potatoes...
  9. >Vivid images of the stands and ponies who sold what he needed floated to the top of his mind as he read each line.
  10. >The problem was that they'd shuffled the market since his last visit.
  11. >Something about giving everypony a turn at the best spots.
  12. >So, he stuck his list back into the saddlebag, spread his wings, and leaped up into the air.
  13.  
  14. >Carrot Top's was there, Applejack's there...
  15. >...and somepony was fluttering a little below and behind him.
  16. >He rolled his eyes and let out a sigh, but a lightning of rainbow color rocketed past him before he could turn.
  17. >The sudden gust from her dash drew the air out from under his wings and sent him tumbling towards the ground.
  18. >Spinning.
  19. >Losing altitude.
  20. >Fast.
  21. >But.
  22. >He angled his wings and forced them back out into the air rushing past him.
  23. >His feathers made a quiet whistling sound as he pulled himself into level flight.
  24.  
  25. >”Hey, nice moves.”
  26. >Rainbow Dash pulled up to his wing from below.
  27. >”And sorry about that. Spitfire told me to practice blazing fast takeoffs, so that's what I've been doing.”
  28. >She rubbed the back of her neck with a hoof.
  29. >Anon glared at her with narrowed eyes and a twitch in his eye.
  30. “What the fuck?”
  31. >A mild pain throbbed in his right wing, apparent now that the danger was over.
  32. >”Hey, don't sweat it. I was right here ready to catch you.”
  33. >She flipped herself upside down and dove for a reverse loop, then fluttered upright and flexed her front hooves.
  34. >”It's an honor to be caught by me, you know.”
  35. >Anon sighed and rolled his eyes again.
  36. “See you tomorrow at the storm gathering.”
  37. >He angled his wings and steered into a steep descent.
  38.  
  39. “Nngh!”
  40. >Anon's right wing gave during the final flap for landing.
  41. >He tumbled onto his side.
  42. >He clambered onto his hooves immediately and looked at his wing.
  43. >A whole bunch of his tertiaries were all ruffled and bent, and so close to his barrel he could barely reach.
  44. >It felt like he'd pulled a muscle.
  45. >This time, he gathered quite a few looks from the ponies passing by.
  46. >”Hey, what happened?”
  47. >Anon's ears perked up at the very welcome voice of Thunderlane.
  48. “Rainbow Dash happened.”
  49. >He lifted a hoof off the ground and winced as his wing shivered.
  50. “Mind lending a hoof?”
  51. >Thunderlane nodded, trotted over and stuck his muzzle into the bunch of crooked feathers.
  52. >He nipped at and straightened what he could.
  53. “Ahn.”
  54. >Anon let out a genuine moan of pleasure as the pain began to fade.
  55. >All the mares and a few stallions close enough to hear turned to look.
  56. >”What'd she do to you to get it this bad?”
  57. >Thunderlane's voice was all muffled from the down and feathers in his mouth.
  58. “Stole the wind and sent me into a spiral.”
  59. >There was a mare he'd never seen before watching them.
  60. >Dark purple coat, red mane in a mohawk, much like Thunderlane's but longer, and a broken horn.
  61.  
  62. >A broken horn.
  63. >And a huge scar on her face, over her right eye.
  64. >And a skintight black suit, enhancing her sleek yet muscular body that radiated strength and agility.
  65. >And a few pieces of heavy armor.
  66. >And a...
  67. >A happy smile on her face?
  68. >Anon blinked twice and met her cyan eyes.
  69. >They had a curious and friendly feel to them that was at extreme odds with how she looked.
  70. >The mare brought a hoof to her lips and suppressed a giggle.
  71. >She broke away from the crowd and tread closer.
  72. >Her steps were full of confidence and determination.
  73.  
  74. >Something nudged Anon's barrel.
  75. >He shook his head and looked back at Thunderlane.
  76. >”I got your feathers all straight 'n clean a while ago.”
  77. >The darker stallion glanced at the approaching mare and spread his wings, then leaned in to whisper in Anon's ear.
  78. >”Good luck taming the tiger.”
  79. >Fwoosh.
  80. >All he left behind was a gust and dust in the air.
  81.  
  82. >”I'm Tempest Shadow. Pleased to meet you.”
  83. >Her voice was smooth as silk and a pleasure to listen to.
  84. “E-eh, hi. I'm Anon.”
  85. >He stuck a hoof out at her.
  86. “I haven't seen you before. What brings you to our little town?”
  87. >Tempest was very tall for a mare.
  88. >She didn't have to reach up in the slightest as she bumped hooves with Anon.
  89. >”I have been traveling on behest of Princess Twilight. I'm here to report back to her. Speaking of...”
  90. >She glanced around, her gaze scanning the crowd, then shook her head.
  91. >”I was told she's at 'sugar cube corner.' Would you mind showing the way?”
  92. >The corners of her mouth curled into a smile that sent a shiver down his spine and all the way into his nethers.
  93. >Why'd she ask him of all ponies?
  94. “Um, sure. It's, uh.”
  95. >Where was he again?
  96. >Right, in the market, looking for groceries.
  97. >That'd have to be on hold for now.
  98. >He'd take the chance, however remote it was, to bag a mare like her.
  99. >Somepony her size and in as perfect shape as her would make even Rainbow Dash think twice
  100. “Right this way.”
  101. >He pointed a hoof at the path that'd lead them to the Cakes' shop.
  102.  
  103. ***
  104.  
  105. “Me? I'm a part of the weather crew. We busted clouds this morning and will gather a storm at noon tomorrow.”
  106. >Anon kept track of the mares around him.
  107. >None of them gave him more than a passing glance.
  108. >Tempest, trotting beside him, nodded at his words.
  109. >”That is good, honest work. Do you enjoy doing it?”
  110. >Just the presence of her made him feel so secure.
  111. >And her voice, her voice tickled him in all the right places.
  112. “Yes. It's very satisfying to see your own work improve the lives of ponies around you. It's just...”
  113. >He glanced around to make sure the mare in question wasn't nearby.
  114. “...I wish Rainbow Dash either made her move or stayed away from me. I believe she thinks so highly of herself that she expects me to ask her.”
  115. >Maybe telling that wasn't the best idea, but he had to keep talking.
  116. >There wouldn't be a second chance if she got bored.
  117. >Tempest chuckled.
  118. >”Ah, Rainbow Dash. Have you ever heard of the time she nearly doomed all of Equestria with an idiotic trick?”
  119. >Anon didn't realize he'd come to a halt until he noticed Tempest looking back at him while teetering on two hooves.
  120. “N-no.”
  121. >He took to a brisk canter to catch up.
  122. “I thought she's one of the heroes of Equestria who's saved us many times.”
  123. >The mare matched his pace as he passed by, not fathomed in the slightest by the speed that made him breathe heavy.
  124. >”That was back when I led an invasion to conquer this land. She and her friends were on the run from me and had found a pirate ship whose crew...”
  125.  
  126. >He had to stop for breath in front of the building that looked like a life size gingerbread house.
  127. >The air he gasped was heavy with the fragrance of sugary sweet pastries.
  128. “Hah. Hah. Here. We are.”
  129. >Tempest hadn't broken a sweat, not was she breathing heavy in the slightest.
  130. >”Curious architecture. Plenty of little spaces to stage an ambush in.”
  131. >Anon blinked twice.
  132. “Eh?”
  133. >He found himself at a loss for words.
  134. “That, uh...”
  135. >A second passed in silence.
  136. “We can go take a look from the inside.”
  137. >He hopped to the door and pushed it open.
  138.  
  139. >Pinkie Pie waved a hoof at them from behind the register.
  140. >”Hey Nonny, how did your spa trip go? Is- Ooh, Fizzy! We haven't seen in forever!”
  141. >She sprang over the counter like the perpetually wound-up toy she was.
  142. >”Tell me all about it. Did you get the massage you talked about? Or a mud bath?”
  143. >”Pinkie!”
  144. >Twilight's voice drew the trio's attention.
  145. >She sat at a table near one corner, with a scroll, a quill, and some cupcakes on the table in front of her.
  146. >”Give the colt a break. Judging by the empty saddlebags, he's here to buy something, not chat.”
  147. >The princess hopped off her chair and onto her hooves.
  148. >”Fizzlepop. How was your trip? Did you learn a lot?”
  149. >Fizzy? Fizzlepop?
  150. >What?
  151. >Did she go by more than one name?
  152. “The bags are for my groceries. I was getting some when I ran into... Tempest?”
  153. >Temp... the dark mare's ears perked up.
  154. >”Ah. I wouldn't have asked you if I'd known you were busy. Can I pay you back somehow? How about dinner since you can't make one because of me? My treat, of course.”
  155. >Did she just...?
  156. “Yes! Uh...”
  157. >A sudden heat flushed onto his face, reaching all the way up to the tips of his ears.
  158. “I mean, sure. A dinner sounds good.”
  159. >He was very aware of the three pairs of eyes on him.
  160. >Pinkie had a wide grin on her face, let out a squeal and clopped her hooves.
  161. >Twilight raised an eyebrow and glanced back and forth between him and Tempest.
  162. >”Weeell. Don't let us keep you from your conquest. Come see me tomorrow instead.”
  163.  
  164. ***
  165.  
  166. >Fluttering in the air beside Tempest felt less embarrassing than having his hooves on the ground.
  167. >Why did he have to blurt it out like that?
  168. >Now they all thought he was an easy colt and the rumor would no doubt spread.
  169. >And Tempest!
  170. >She didn't let it show, but she had to think of that.
  171. >Now she definitely wouldn't stick around and let him take it further.
  172. >”Do you have some place in mind or are you fine with the one restaurant we happened to pass by? I'm afraid I know scant little of this town.”
  173. >Maybe he could still turn it around.
  174. >He could ask her to join him at the hoofball game tonight and his friends could tell her he didn't sleep around.
  175.  
  176. >”Anon? Is there something on your mind? You seem distracted.”
  177. >Name.
  178. “Eh, whuh?”
  179. >He shook his head and folded his wings.
  180. >His hooves thumped on the dirt.
  181. “Oh, sorry. I was just... thinking about tonight's game. Cloudchaser is sick and we haven't found a replacement yet so we're a pony short of two full teams.”
  182. >It was less two teams and more whoever showed up to play, but Cloudchaser really was sick.
  183. >”Hoofball?”
  184. >Tempest's hooves came to a halt as she looked up to the sky.
  185. >She had an absent look on her face for a second, before she trotted back to Anon's side.
  186. >”I have heard of that sport. Is your game open to public? I'd like to see what it's all about.”
  187. >Yes.
  188. >He'd at least have a chance to explain.
  189. “Of course. You can even play in Cloudchaser's place if you want.”
  190. >The unicorn shied away from his gaze.
  191. >”Would they really be fine with somepony like me? Who's never played?”
  192. >Anon's lips curled to a gentle smile.
  193. >He took a gamble and stroked her back with a single primary.
  194. “Of course. We only play for fun and anypony is welcome. Even beginners.”
  195. >Tempest cast him a wide-eyed look.
  196. >It lasted for a good second.
  197. >”Then perhaps I will. Anyhow, about that restaurant. Did you have a preference?”
  198. >Maybe it was just him, but it seemed like something changed about her.
  199. >He couldn't quite tell why, but he felt like she was more relaxed now.
  200. “How do you feel about tortellini or ravioli? I know a place that makes some stellar dishes with their self made pasta.”
  201.  
  202. ***
  203.  
  204. >Anon stopped in front of a typical Ponyville house, the only stand-out being a metal sign of a kettle with steam coming out of it hanging over the door.
  205. >It was on what would've been a dodgy alleyway in some other towns, but here it was bright and airy with somepony's laundry hanging off a line running far above his head.
  206. “Here we are.”
  207. >Tempest glanced up at the rusty sign and the well-maintained wall it hung off of.
  208. >”In most towns I've been to, places like this weren't usually of the highest quality. I suppose Ponyville is different.”
  209. >She tread to the door, pulled it open with her hoof like an earth pony or a pegasus would, and nodded at Anon.
  210. >”Or perhaps it's Equestria that's different. I'm still not too familiar with this land.”
  211. >The stallion trotted in past her and glanced around to confirm nothing had changed.
  212. >Bare wooden floor, a few tables covered with dark green tablecloth, the same stools that'd worn smooth with use, and the same orchid blue unicorn mare setting out glasses.
  213. >The mare, Spaghetti Spill, tugged at the tablecloth closest to her to straighten a crease before waving a hoof at Anon and Tempest.
  214. >”Welcome! A table for two?”
  215. >Anon, who she knew, only got a single glance.
  216. >”It's rare for me to get visitors from out of town. I hope what I make is as good as what you got at home.”
  217. >Tempest chortled and covered her mouth with a hoof.
  218. >”I see you've never heard of the slop the Storm King's chefs made.”
  219. >She stuck her tongue out and winced.
  220. >”Bleh. Even the memory makes me feel sick. But yes, it's just the two of us.”
  221. >Spaghetti, who'd had a hint of red rise to her cheeks after glancing at Anon a few times, scurried to the desk that had the restaurant's register on it.
  222. >”Of course, of course. You can have the table at the window.”
  223. >Two menus, aglow with magic, floated from beneath the register.
  224.  
  225. >Tempest had her front hooves on the table as she leaned in to sniff at her tortellini.
  226. >”I've never had anything like this before.”
  227. >Anon had an amused smile on his face as he gulped down some of his food – which was the exact same she had.
  228. >That being herb-basted cheese filling and a simple tomato sauce.
  229. “I know she doesn't disclose her recipes, but I guarantee it's both safe to eat and very tasty.”
  230. >He reached over and stroked her forehoof with his underhoof.
  231. >His touch made her twitch ever so slightly and draw a sharp breath.
  232. “Oh. Sorry.”
  233. >A storm of doubt raged in his mind as he pulled his hoof back.
  234. >He'd been as soft as gentle as he could, so why?
  235. >Why did she not like it?
  236. >Did his crush really make him so blind he didn't notice she kept her guard up?
  237. >”No, it's fine.”
  238. >Tempest's voice was but a soft whisper.
  239. >She leaned in and reached out to pin his hoof beneath hers.
  240. >”I'm the one at fault.”
  241. >That... felt like an issue he shouldn't tackle yet.
  242. >So, he sat in silence, letting her stroke his hoof.
  243.  
  244. “Hey, Tempest.”
  245. >The mare in question lifted her muzzle off her plate
  246. >She had a ring of red tomato sauce around her lips.
  247. “I forgot to ask about it earlier, but why did Pinkie call you 'Fizzy' and Princess Twilight 'Fizzlepop'?”
  248. >She scooped her napkin into her hoof and wiped the mess off her face.
  249. >”Fizzlepop is the name I had before I left Equestria. Fizzlepop Berrytwist. Twilight thinks using it will help me put my past behind.”
  250. >Her lips curled to a mellow smile.
  251. >”I prefer Tempest since that's who I've been for most of my life. I'll change what the name brings to ponies' minds instead of changing names.”
  252. >Anon fidgeted a little.
  253. >She had quite the load to carry.
  254. >Maybe, maybe he could help with it.
  255. “You've had an exciting life, haven't you? I've only lived in Ponyville. The only time I thought about leaving was when I wanted to move to Cloudsdale so I could go to expert flight school, but my friends were here and I got a spot on the weather crew so I ended up staying.”
  256. >Tempest had her muzzle on her plate again, but she'd perked up her ears to listen.
  257. “I sometimes wonder how different my life would be if I'd gone. Then I run into Thunderlane or Big Mac or somepony else in town and spend the day with them. That's when I realize I'm happy here. I don't think I could live a life quite like this anywhere else.”
  258. >He looked down at his plate and scarfed down the rest of his meal.
  259.  
  260. >Anon gave his lips a scrubbing with his napkin.
  261. “So, what kind of a mission were you on? You said you had to report back to Princess Twilight.”
  262. >He sipped what little remained of his water in one go as Tempest's tongue peeked out of her mouth and licked her lips clean.
  263. >”I gave myself a mission to see if Equestria had changed while I was gone. Twilight only asked me to visit her once I've seen enough to tell what I've learned.”
  264. >She bent back down for another bite, munched on it for a bit, and gulped it down.
  265. >”She told me to learn something about friendship, but I don't need to learn anything about friendship. I need to learn how to trust again.”
  266. >Tempest's lips curled into an amused smile.
  267. >”Hmph. What I learned is how disorganized this land is. It's a wonder it works at all and hasn't been taken over yet.”
  268. >She shook her head and let out a short sigh.
  269. >It made her mohawk wiggle.
  270. >”But, you ponies seem happy with it so I guess you're doing something right.”
  271. >She drew another breath, but held it in in silence for a few long seconds.
  272. >”How about we go somewhere else for dessert? Applejack sells some excellent pastries, doesn't she?”
  273. >The words came out dull and monotone.
  274. “Uh, sure... It's Big Mac at the stand today, but he'll definitely still be there.”
  275. >Mares.
  276. >Why'd they have to hide their problems?
  277.  
  278. ***
  279.  
  280. >Anon lifted a hoof to his forehead to shield his eyes from the afternoon sun.
  281. >His wings beat a rapid rhythm as he hovered stock still above the Ponyville market.
  282. >He liked it up in the air.
  283. >It was peaceful, unless Rainbow Dash was there – which she wasn't for the vast majority of time.
  284. >Sure, the airspace close to the ground could be a bit crowded at times, but the higher altitudes were practically empty.
  285. >Ah, there it was.
  286. >The Apple family stall, with Big Mac's huge figure beside it.
  287. >He slowed down his wing beats to descend.
  288.  
  289. >He pointed a hoof at the stall's direction as his three other hooves thudded on the ground.
  290. “It's right there.”
  291. >Tempest, who'd had her eyes on him the whole time, took to a trot in the direction he pointed at.
  292. >”Did you see if Applejack is there?”
  293. >Her tail swished from side to side far more than just trotting would make it.
  294. “She's not there. It's just Big Mac.”
  295. >The swishing stopped.
  296. >”I see. A pity.”
  297. >Anon caught up to her and gave her a reassuring pat on the back with a wing.
  298. >She drew a sudden breath.
  299. “You can go to their farm if you want to see her. She's there if she isn't here, in a rodeo competition, or busy saving Equestria.”
  300. >That's what Big Mac had told him, at least.
  301. >”Hm, yes.”
  302. >She bit her lip and looked down at her hooves.
  303. >”I'll go see her there once I have time.”
  304. >A pony towering over everypony else ahead of them caught her attention.
  305. >”Is that...?”
  306. “Yep, that's Big Mac. You can probably tell where he got his name from.”
  307.  
  308. >Anon waved a wing at his friend as he got closer.
  309. “Hi there. How's today been? Sold a lot, or has it been quiet?”
  310. >The stallion waved back, then glanced at his stand.
  311. >”Average.”
  312. >His gaze shot from the stand to Tempest, then back and forth between her and Anon.
  313. >”Applejack's told of you.”
  314. >The mare stopped mid-step to stare at him with narrowed eyes.
  315. >He earned himself an approving nod.
  316. >”Likewise.”
  317. >His glare turned hostile as Tempest's lips curled to a smug smile.
  318. >Anon stepped between the two and pointed at the stand.
  319. “What kinda sweet treats do you have today? Please don't tell me they've sold out.”
  320. >Any hint of anger vanished from Big Mac's face.
  321. >”Apple tart and apple pie. You want some?”
  322. >He trotted behind the stand and pulled out a covered tray.
  323. >A scent of sweetness mixed with tart apples wafted out as he lifted the cover to reveal the scant few pieces that were still left.
  324. >”Those tarts look excellent. We'll have one each.”
  325. >Tempest dug out her purse from some hidden pocket beneath her armor.
  326. >Big Mac grunted in response, spatula in his mouth, as he swept the tarts onto smaller plates.
  327. >He then slammed the cover back on the tray and shoved it back where he took it from.
  328. >”That's six bits.”
  329. >Tempest's horn lit up with a quiet crackling sound.
  330. >Her lips parted just enough to show she had her tongue between her teeth.
  331. >She held her breath and her face was one of absolute concentration as six coins wobbled through the air into Big Mac's coffer.
  332.  
  333. ***
  334.  
  335. >Anon and Tempest sat on a bench at the bank of the river that split Ponyville in two.
  336. >A couple of ducks paddled in the water and some small birds chirped and flitted between the trees of the park around them.
  337. “What was that all about? You'd never even met.”
  338. >Tempest slipped a shod hoof behind his neck and tousled his mane.
  339. >Her shoe was cold and very hard.
  340. >”Don't worry your cute head with it. I'm enough of a mare to never hurt a colt.”
  341. >She withdrew her hoof and scooted just close enough for her armor to graze Anon's flank.
  342. >”I didn't expect Applejack to spread a good word of me, but I also didn't think she'd color the story enough for her brother to act like that.”
  343. >The cold and angular metal poked at him, but he didn't move away.
  344. >Instead, he draped a wing over her withers.
  345. “Could you at least tell me what started it? Applejack isn't the kind of pony to hold a grudge over nothing.”
  346. >He didn't really care for Applejack – she simply wasn't his kind of a mare – but he'd do what he could to help Big Mac.
  347. >And this time, helping his sister would help him.
  348. >”Well, she started spreading some very bad rumors about me. I responded in kind. That made her... a little miffed.”
  349. >Tempest craned her neck to look at Anon, then leaned in and placed a quick peck of a kiss on his cheek.
  350. >”I promise keep your friend out of it from now on.”
  351. >She had a mischievous smile on her face as Anon gave her a confused look.
  352. >”Now, shall we go to this ball game of yours?”
  353. >Her hooves thumped on the sandy path, making little puffs of dust as she hopped off the bench.
  354. >Anon folded his spread wing and hopped off as well.
  355. “It's a bit early, but I guess I can show you the basics. This way.”
  356. >He pointed in the direction the field they'd play on was.
  357.  
  358. ***
  359.  
  360. >Tempest babbled on about her time in Canterlot and how she didn't like the uppity nobles as they headed towards the field, but Anon wasn't listening.
  361. >He trotted at her side and nodded every now and then, but her words went in from one ear and came straight out of the other.
  362. >Applejack wasn't one to spread rumors.
  363. >Tempest didn't come across as somepony who'd lie about something like that, either.
  364. >Had he misjudged her?
  365. >He'd thought he'd try taking things further than just one date with her, since she was definitely interested and was a touch above his level.
  366. >But, if she wasn't trustworthy?
  367. >Then again, she didn't want to talk about it, so further questions could be a risk.
  368.  
  369. >Something metallic jabbed his side.
  370. >”You look like forgot something. Should we go back?”
  371. >Anon stopped on his tracks and looked at the mare beside him.
  372. >He knew his way around well enough that his hooves had brought them to the edge of Ponyville without him paying any attention.
  373. >The open, grassy field spread out in front of him.
  374. >Both nets were already in place at opposite ends of the marked pitch and a nearby shed had balls in it.
  375. “Uh, well, it's...”
  376. >What was it again that had him so deep in thought?
  377. >...oh.
  378. >Well, some problems were best faced head on.
  379. “I couldn't help thinking about you and Applejack. I know her and something just doesn't add up.”
  380. >There, he said it.
  381. >His stomach tingled and his wings unfolded ever so slightly.
  382. >Please don't get mad, please don't get mad...
  383. >”Oh, that.”
  384. >A hint of red spread onto Tempest's face as she rubbed the back of her head.
  385. >”I suppose I should tell the whole story, then. It's just a little... well, you'll see.”
  386.  
  387. >”I visited Appleloosa while they were having a competition of some kind. They let me take part as a guest since I knew Applejack and she wanted 'measure my worth.'”
  388. >Tempest had her eyes fixed on the horizon.
  389. >”She wasn't too happy when I got first place in haybale toss and on the obstacle course. Especially because I broke her record on the latter.”
  390. >She covered her mouth with a hoof and let out a short chuckle.
  391. >”You should've seen her face when they confirmed my time. Anyways, skip to later that night when the races are done with and I've found myself a nice pub and a good beer. I'm sitting at my table and relaxing when one of the local colts shows up out of the blue and asks if he can join me.”
  392. >Her mane swayed as a bit of a gust blew past them.
  393. >”He was a young lad, probably impressed by my wins or something, but I figured he was old enough since he had his own beer. So I let him. And, what do you know, he was all over me.”
  394. >The hint of red hadn't left her face as she turned to look at Anon.
  395. >”I, ah, well, thought there'd be no harm in spending the night with him. So I let him know I was interested.”
  396. >She put her ears back and nailed her gaze at her own hooves.
  397. >”One thing led to another and, uh, at some point I realized Applejack and her cousin were there, staring at us. She didn't say anything and I thought she was just unhappy that she was stuck with her cousin while I had... other company.”
  398. >Her face flushed even deeper red.
  399. >Did she think he wouldn't like her if she'd had others?
  400. >”We had quite a few drinks in us when I noticed Applejack leading her very drunk cousin out. The colt did the same to me a moment later. Neither of us was smashed, though.”
  401. >Tempest pawed at the ground, her steel-shod hoof sinking into the grass-covered soil.
  402. >”So I walk around town and talk to ponies the next morning and hear whispers about how I took advantage of the poor colt. Those rumors were Applejack's doing – despite how he practically threw himself at me!”
  403. >Wham!
  404. >Her hoof slammed on the pile of dirt hard enough to turn it into a spray.
  405. >”So I repaid her in kind and dropped some hints about how she bangs her cousin. And that's how we got to where we are now.”
  406.  
  407. >Asking about it was definitely a mistake.
  408. >Maybe she'd forgive him if he helped them settle it?
  409. “Huh. That does sound a bit more like Applejack. I'll have to talk about it with her later. Anyways, back to hoofball.”
  410. >He pointed a hoof at the shed.
  411. ”Just wait a second. I'll get us a ball.”
  412. >Tempest followed behind him, but kept a bit of distance – which he was all too aware of.
  413. >”Are you a good player? Is there something specific about it that you like?”
  414. >At least she was willing to change the subject.
  415. >Maybe he still had a chance?
  416. “I guess I do a pretty good job playing on the wing. I can't match the better mares, obviously, but I've heard I have a good eye for play and position myself where I'm needed.”
  417. >The shed's door creaked as he pulled it open.
  418. >The inside was lined with shelves full of various sports equipment from colored vests to ice skates.
  419. >He dug into a basket full of balls, tried a few of them with his hoof, and picked the least empty one.
  420. “The best part is playing as a part of the team, especially since it's ponies I know and like.”
  421. >His feathers shuffled as his wings beat the air.
  422. >The gusts of air from his wings roused puffs of dust off the floor.
  423. “Here. We'll have to fill it a bit.”
  424. >Anon tossed the ball to Tempest and fluttered upwards to snag a pump off the top shelf.
  425.  
  426. ***
  427.  
  428. >Anon batted the ball from one front hoof to the other, then punted it to Tempest.
  429. “So, you got the basics down? Using horns or wings is absolutely prohibited and you have to keep the ball playable at all times, unless you're the goalkeeper.”
  430. >The mare, two dozen or so strides from the net Anon guarded, killed the ball's momentum with a single touch.
  431. >”Such a strange game. Why limit physical contact in a contest of speed, strength, and stamina?”
  432. >She turned around, eyed the goal for a second, then coiled her rear leg for a full-on buck.
  433. >Wham!
  434. >Anon leaped towards the left post and just managed to stretch a hoof far enough to bat the ball away.
  435. >A flap of his wings ensured a soft landing.
  436. “Excellent shot! I wouldn't have had a chance if you'd been any closer. You'll have to graze the post or get it in the top corner from that far out.”
  437. >He clambered back onto his hooves and trotted over to punt the ball back to her.
  438. ”You also likely won't have time to turn around since the defending team will be on you. So come a bit closer and try again with your weaker hooves.”
  439. >Tempest had her tail forced down and was biting her lip.
  440. >”Nice moves.”
  441. >Anon covered his mouth with a hoof and let out a short giggle.
  442. “Keep shooting that well and you'll see more.”
  443. >Looks like he still had a chance, after all.
  444.  
  445. >His wings beat the air as he hovered just above the ground and stroked his sides to get the worst grass stains out.
  446. “We'll definitely make a striker out of you with how good your shooting and ball control is.”
  447. >Tempest, behind him to get the ball back out of the net, threw him a passing glance.
  448. >”Yeah, I've been told I'm good with balls.”
  449. >She cast him another glance, this time at his hips and thighs.
  450. >The tips of Anon's ears felt hot all of a sudden.
  451. “That's not- Anyways. Let's go over some of the dos and donts of getting past the defense. You'll have to take your armor off for this and for the game.”
  452. >He fluttered down to the ground and stuck his tail between his rear legs.
  453.  
  454. ***
  455.  
  456. >Tempest trotted back from town with two bottles of water, held together by a bit of rope, bobbing on her flanks.
  457. >Daisy, the first of the other players to arrive, sat with Anon in the shade of the shed.
  458. >”She's the one you talked about?”
  459. >She eyed Tempest for a second.
  460. >”Yeah, I can see her being a striker. I just hope she's not too good and make the game completely one sided.”
  461. >The earth pony hopped up onto her hooves.
  462. >”Though, I think Rainbow Dash will come play today, so that shouldn't be an issue. We'll just have to keep them off each other.”
  463. >Daisy glanced at Anon and tapped his behind with a hoof.
  464. >”You know what she's after, and won't like anypony getting in her way.”
  465. >He rolled his eyes and let out a sigh.
  466. “I'm getting real tired of her.”
  467. >”Am I interrupting?”
  468. >Tempest reached them and dropped the bottles onto the ground.
  469. >She grabbed one, pulled the stopper off, and chugged a good deal of its contents in one go.
  470. >”Haah. Go ahead. Have yours.”
  471. >Her dark hoof rolled the other bottle to Anon just as Daisy tread off.
  472. “Nah. Daisy and I just spoke about how you'll fit the team, and about Rainbow Dash.”
  473. >He didn't try to hide the frustration on his face.
  474. “Daisy and I have known each other longer than we can remember. We were born a few months apart and our parents were neighbors.”
RGRE safe Tempest Shadow Anonpone SoL

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