Good Sport

by Shadowmane PX-41

Chapter 1: Good Sport

Rainbow Dash walked into the park with her hands behind her head. On any other day, she would have been at home playing video games, helping the Rainbooms out with whatever they might need, or just getting some soccer practice in.

To say she loved life was an understatement. She didn't want anything to change.

However, since the Friendship Games had come and gone, she had found her life shaken up by a particular Crystal Prep student. She knew the Shadowbolts were a good team, but that girl in particular had really caught her eye.

Strolling past a pack of giggling children, she found a lone bench and flopped down onto it, slinging her arm over the back. She crossed her legs and sighed, watching as the river flowed, the leaves fell, and as the sunlight poured down.

"Nice view, huh?"

Rainbow turned, only to find a girl sitting down next to her. She was wearing a pink t-shirt, grey jeans, gold earclips, and a pair of aviator goggles.

The girl grinned and pulled the goggles off her face and rested them gently on her forehead. "It's not very often we get days like this."

"Yeah." Rainbow nodded. "Days like these are what make Canterlot High all the more awesome."

The girl's eyes widened as her neck rapidly turned towards her. "Canterlot High?"

"Yeah. Friendship Games aside, the place is really nice. We've been through a lot of stuff there, but now that we've got Sunset, the place is really looking up." Rainbow took a deep breath and exhaled shortly afterwards. "We don't focus on winning, or trying to be the best at everything. We just take things as they come. Y'know?"

"Really?" The girl had a brief smile that faded after a few seconds. "Because at Crystal Prep, it's the polar opposite. We're either the best or we're nothing at all."

Rainbow Dash gently put her hand on the newcomer's shoulder. "That sounds horrible."

"Tell me about it. We were told that Canterlot High would be easy pickings in the Games, but we were told nothing about your hospitality." The girl crossed her arms. "Everyone believed Cinch's lies and did their best to outmatch your school. In a way, they blotted out the friendship part of the Games and focused on victory at any cost."

"What's your name?"

"Indigo Zap." She held out her arm for a handshake.

Rainbow returned the gesture. "Rainbow Dash. Nice to meet ya."

"You too." Indigo's smile returned, but lasted longer than before.

"So, how are you holding up at Crystal Prep?" Rainbow swiveled towards her and put one of her elbows on the top of the bench.

"My grades aren't the same as the rest of the kids at my school, but I'm still doing well enough, I guess." Indigo leaned back and flexed her arms. "If Cinch were still principal, I would've been on my last warning before being expelled."

"Expelled? That seems a little harsh, don't ya think?" Rainbow's eyelids rose as her arm returned to its side.

"Cinch was a pretty harsh woman when she was principal." Indigo rolled her eyes as she looked out towards the buildings in the distance. "Most of her rules made me want to just leave with how boring they were."

"What kind of rules?" Rainbow asked.

"Well, when she was there, students had to be in class before the bell rang, and anyone who was late had to sit through detention." Indigo looked towards the part of the city where Crystal Prep's flag just barely poked out over the houses. "One second late, and boom! That counted as punishment, no exceptions.

"And that was just one of the rules." She looked down at her hands, which she tightened up into fists. "Anyone who didn't turn in their homework had to write lines on the chalkboard after each and every class. If they slipped someone the answers to a test, then both students involved had to take another one afterwards. And anyone who wasn't dressed in the uniform wasn't even allowed to go anywhere aside from the bathrooms, their classes, or the cafeteria!"

"Ouch. Now that is harsh..." Rainbow Dash winced. "Hang on a sec... Whatever happened to her after the Games?"

"Her attempts to persuade the board were met pretty poorly, and not only did she get fired, but Twilight decided to press charges for blackmail." Indigo pulled out her phone and showed Rainbow the tabloids. "Didn't you hear about it? It was all over the news."

"Nah. I was too busy playing Anarchy Goddesses again." Rainbow said, before getting a closer look at the article. "I always knew that old hag was trouble, but the paper says it all..."

"It's just like Sugarcoat said: Cinch went too far in trying to win the Games, and it led to her downfall." Indigo leaned back against the bench.

"So without Cinch, who's principal at Crystal Prep now?" Rainbow shrugged.

"Someone named Chrysalis." Indigo messed with her phone again, until she found a picture of a black-skinned woman with green hair and eyes sitting where Cinch would be in the principal's office. "Sure, she can be a little scary sometimes, but she's a lot less harsh than Cinch was."

"Looking at that picture, I can't tell whether she's ugly-scary or crazy-scary..." Rainbow Dash squinted her eyes as she looked at Chrysalis's portrait.

"It's definitely ugly-scary, Rainbow." Indigo chuckled as she put the phone back into her pocket. "Despite her looks, though, Chrysalis is a much better principal than Cinch could have ever hoped to be."

"I don't go to Crystal Prep, but coming from you, I'll take your word for it." Rainbow Dash looked towards the clouds and sunk deeper into the bench, letting her legs stretch out as she did so. "So how did the other Crystal Preppers react to Chrysalis taking over for Cinch?

"Some of them were outraged, others were glad, but me and my friends just stayed the same, really." Indigo put her phone away and shrugged. "We didn't really judge her until she made some changes to the rules. She got rid of the dress code, first of all."

"That's good." Rainbow put both of her hands behind her head. "Getting to hang out with a bunch of different people is part of what makes life so cool, y'know? When everyone's different, it makes things much more exciting. If we all had to wear stuffy uniforms, it'd kinda suck the life out of us."

"Definitely. In fact, Lemon Zest is looking a lot better without a uniform now." Indigo looked over at a few kids nearby, all wearing bright, colourful clothes.

Rainbow smirked. "Lemon Zest, eh?"

"You can't miss her. She's got those headphones on twenty-four seven," Indigo thought of Lemon Zest's new clothes. With another smile, she said, "I bet she even sleeps in them too."

Rainbow Dash chuckled. "She probably does."

The two of them burst into a short giggle fit. It lasted for only a few seconds before they calmed down and wiped tears out of their eyes.

"Anyway..." Rainbow caught her breath and sat upright again, her legs touching the ground once again. "It's a pretty lucky coincidence you came by; I've kinda been meaning to talk to you for a while."

Indigo raised a brow. "Seriously? About what?"

A thin blush passed over Rainbow's face as her gaze locked with Indigo's again. "Call me crazy, but I'm sorta in love with how good you are at sports. I mean, you've got a real passion for the Friendship Games, and you're freakin' awesome at matching opponents who seem better than you." Rainbow lightly kicked the ground with the tips of her shoes. "I've seen some real talent at Crystal Prep, but I've never seen someone as good as you—except me, of course. I mean, motocross is a serious thing for people our age, and yet you handled it like you'd been doing it your whole life or something."

"Well, what can I say? I've just been really interested in playing games." Indigo hunched forward and placed her elbows on her knees, her eyes still fixated on Rainbow. "Ever since I was in kindergarten, I had dreams of becoming a professional player in some kind of sport, whether it was soccer, baseball, tennis, golf—you name it." She flexed her fingers out for each one she listed off. "Every game I played, I played my very best, always pushing myself and trying to make sure I was perfect pro material. But back then, I played tag and hide-and-seek rather than the big ones."

"But if you had those dreams, why aren't you a pro right now?" Rainbow asked.

"To tell you the truth, I'm not too sure myself, Rainbow." Indigo looked out into the distance towards the golden-painted houses. "I thought I'd be in and out of CPA in a year, but it's taking me much longer than I thought." She sighed. "But it's probably because of something my mom used to say to me: champs aren't made in a day."

"That's very true, Indigo." Rainbow Dash looked down the outsoles of her shoes, especially where the rubber cleats had faded. "When I started to do sports in Canterlot High, I had to work my way up to the top. I wasn't just captain for my awesome looks and agility. It took me two terms until I got there, and even now I'm still waiting for the day the Wonderbolts All-Stars take me onto their team..."

"And here I thought my dreams were big, Rainbow." Indigo looked out towards a bunch of children playing a game of football nearby. "The Wonderbolts All-Stars are the best team in the country, and they only take people who catch their eye. And even though we won the Friendship Games year after year, no-one's ever gone from CPA to the Wonderbolts, not even if they had A-pluses in every subject!"

"Seriously? I thought Cinch and her rep would get them into the team in a snap!" Rainbow clicked her fingers at the end of her sentence for emphasis.

"It's not her decision to make. It's team captain Spitfire's choice." Indigo sighed as she continued to watch the game. "And even then, she's never selected any of our old alumni to be part of their team. And given what happened to Cinch at the end of the Games, I don't think she's gonna pick me, my friends, or anyone else at Crystal Prep this year either."

"That's a real shame," said Rainbow Dash.

"Yeah, I know. But I guess it's our punishment for trying to cream you guys instead of being good sports." Indigo saw the ball roll over to her and gently knock against her feet.

"Uhh, miss?" One of the children approached Indigo. "Could we have the ball back please?"

"Sure, kid." Indigo tousled his hair and handed the ball back to him. "And hey, good luck on winning that game."

"Thanks, miss!" said the kid as he kicked it back towards his friends.

"So, when did you enroll at Crystal Prep?" Rainbow asked once the kid was back with his group.

"I didn't enroll. I was invited." Indigo looked back towards Rainbow. "By Abacus Cinch herself."

"What?" Rainbow's eyebrows shot upwards and she almost stumbled backwards. "Why?"

"I played a lot of games when I was in Canterlot Elementary School. There, I was truly able to be the star I'd always dreamed of being." Indigo looked out towards the flower fields to her right. "I kept pretending that I was playing for a big cash prize, which only made me even more determined to win. But back then, I played more by the rules, and always knew when I lost.

"The feelings that I felt when I played, the adrenaline when I ran, the thrill of victory and defeat—I loved each of them with all my heart," she said, throwing her arms out in various ways to pose for each sentence. "And when I won my school entry into the Little League Championships, I was over the moon. It felt like my hard work was finally paying off."

"How did that work out for you?" Rainbow asked.

"Well, it was a rough season, but we pulled through and won the pennant in the end!" Indigo leapt up and imitated the roaring crowd. "They cheered our names as we were handed our prize, and all of my teammates were so proud of me for hitting the winning home run. At last, I felt like my dreams had come true..."

"Well, you won the game, and you deserved the praise from your teammates and from your fans." Rainbow stood up and coiled her arm around Indigo's shoulders. "I'll never forget the day when I played my first soccer game for Canterlot High. The scores were two-all, and we went into the final thirty seconds with the ball by my feet."

"So what happened?" Indigo asked.

"I was being chased on all sides, kicking the ball over those guys while heading for the goal." Rainbow ran ahead of Indigo and stopped in front of her, swinging her arms as she told the story. "The clock started to count down from ten seconds. That's when I said to myself, 'We're gonna tie if I don't win this now!' So as a last-ditch effort, I shot that ball and scored the most awesome goal ever!" This time, Rainbow Dash mimicked the crowds that had applauded her on that day. "Almost halfway across the field, and I won it all with one second left on the clock!" She leapt into the air and fist-pumped before she slid on her knees with her arms high above her head.

"Guess that's another thing we both have, Rainbow." Indigo patted Rainbow on the back once she had calmed down and stood back up. "We're both sports superstars who won for our teams. You with a soccer ball, and me with a baseball bat."

"Yeah..." Rainbow Dash felt the wind gently blowing through her hair. "Hey. You wanna take a walk?"

"Why not? It's a beautiful day outside?" Indigo began to walk down the path with Rainbow close behind her. "Birds are singing, flowers are blooming, and children are playing. That's a great idea."

Indigo and Rainbow walked through the park with smiles on their faces. They passed by a fountain, some shady trees, a few patches of flowers, and the occasional trash can. They also saw some more teenagers talking on phones or using skateboards, all of them with grins on their faces.

"Anyway, going back to your game, how did that get Cinch's attention?" Rainbow brushed off some of the dirt that had been collected on her knees whilst she had been celebrating. "I mean, I know she had a rep and all, but what exactly drew her to you?"

"Cinch used to watch Little League, I guess—she was always kinda weird—and when she noticed how good I was, she started to keep tabs on me. She knew that with my help, Crystal Prep could become unstoppable in the Friendship Games," Indigo said. "She gave me a free entry to Crystal Prep, saying that she could 'use my talent.'"

"But Crystal Prep's stupidly hard to get into—don't you need to pass like, three entrance exams?" Rainbow Dash threw her arms up. "There's no way that she could've let you in just because you were good at sports." She leaned in closer to Indigo. "What was the catch?"

"The downside of having to go to Crystal Prep was that I needed to keep a B-plus average, or I would be thrown out on the spot." She gently pushed Rainbow back. "And considering that it was every student for herself back then, it made my time there really suck.

"But I managed to keep my grades up, all for one goal: The Friendshp Games. Cinch said that anything they taught could've been a sport in the Academic Decathalon—including biology, history, and even algebra," she said. "The Games were what pushed my grades further and further, and instead of a B-plus average, I got an A average. It would've been A-plus too, but compared to Twilight, I could never be as good in Cinch's eyes."

"I don't blame her—eh, no offense." Rainbow flicked her hand briefly but stopped almost immediately afterwards. "Twilight's doing really well at CHS. Her grades are phenomenal, and with us to help her out, she's made a lot of friends already."

"Interestingly enough, without Twilight, the students at Crystal Prep aren't studying as stubbornly as they used to." Indigo stretched her arms out too, but it wasn't as erratically as Rainbow Dash had done. "They're not feeling pressured anymore, and are taking their studies at a steady pace. Even Sugarcoat and Sunny aren't working themselves to the bone anymore."

"Well, Twilight was their best student, and now that both she and Cinch have left Crystal Prep, I think you and your friends don't have to prove yourself anymore." Rainbow stopped as soon as she and Indigo came to a small flowerbed of daisies. "You're good at sports, lessons, and you may even give tests a run for their money, Indigo. But being the best isn't just about pushing ourselves, it's about pushing ourselves in the right way."

"Are you sure about that?" Indigo asked.

"I know I'm sure about that." Rainbow circled the flowers, making sure not to accidentally step on any of them. "Back at Canterlot High, I was often a cocky show-off, but after the Battle of the Bands that my school had, I started to treat others with respect. And whilst we did kinda hate Crystal Prep back before the Games, I was still looking forward to facing you and your school."

"Yeah. Despite the rivalry, I think a lot of us were looking forward to proving ourselves at the Games, not just you and me." Indigo saw that her shoelaces were starting to come undone and quickly re-tied them. "I think Lemon Zest and Sour Sweet wanted to take part the most of all. But one thing's for sure, Rainbow. They all changed for the better after it was all over."

Rainbow jabbed a finger at her. "So how would you say you changed after the Friendship Games?"

"Not much, I guess." Indigo turned her head skyward. "I'm still the same person underneath. Someone who enjoys a good game, no matter what the occasion."

"You're not like the other Crystal Preppers, are you?" It was Rainbow's turn to raise an eyebrow. "Y'know? the... obnoxious ones?"

"Even during the Friendship Games, I still treated you and your school with respect." Indigo looked out towards the nearby costume shop. When she saw a demon outfit, she stepped backwards, her eyelids twitching for a few seconds as memories of Twilight becoming one flashed in her mind. "Principal Cinch might've said that we had to win by any means necessary, but that didn't mean we hated you. In fact, her words made us believe that you were hateable, but I didn't want to believe it—even when Twilight had that weird locket with all of the stolen magic," she said. "When we cornered her at that last event, it wasn't because I wanted to win, but because I wanted to see how the magic worked."

"When Twilight became that monster and created that massive hole to Equestria, why did you decide to swallow your pride and help us out?" Rainbow stood up and bent her arms. "Didn't you and your friends want to win the Friendship Games more?"

"You didn't deserve Twilight's wrath. None of us did." Indigo slumped down onto her butt, hung her head, and almost buried it in her legs. "Yeah, we were trying to humiliate and beat you guys, but we never wanted to see any of you fall to your doom," she said. "We couldn't just leave you hanging. No pun intended."

"Saving your enemies from something during a contest is pretty loyal, Indigo." Rainbow knelt down and gave Indigo a gentle pat on the back. "And according to Twilight—the pony princess one, not the egghead one—I'm like the expert on loyalty. You and your friends should be proud of what you did back there."

"Really?" Indigo pulled her head out of her legs and looked back up at Rainbow.

"Hey, if the fate of the world's at stake, rivalries don't matter anymore," said Rainbow earnestly. "All we could do back then was save the students. I saved some of yours, and you and your friends saved mine. I think you and your friends sound really cool once you get to know them."

"Thanks, Rainbow." Indigo stood up and shot a smile at her. "You know, you and your friends are cool too. If we ever have something like the Friendship Games when we're in college, I wouldn't mind playing against your team again."

"Me too, Indy." She held her hand. "Do you mind if I call you that?"

"Why not?" Indigo shrugged. "That's what Lemon calls me all the time."

"Anyway, you're a lot like me in a way. You're fast, you're athletic, you like a good game, and you're very competitive. If anything, it'd be an honor to play against you any time, any place." Rainbow put her arm out in an arm-wrestling gesture.

"You too, Rainbow." Indigo took Rainbow's hand almost immediately and squeezed tight, feeling her new friend do the same.

The two girls watched the sun set in the distance, the light scraping the roofs of the buildings in the distance as it streaked towards the park. When it shone down on the two of them, they looked each other in the eyes, barely able to make out a reflection of each other.

"If only the rest of my friends could understand you and yours better." Rainbow pulled Indigo into a small cuddle. "I bet we'd have so much more in common than we might think..."

"Yeah. That'd be great..." Indigo's voice had degraded into a gentle whisper as the cuddle slowly turned into a hug. "I'm glad that we had this talk, Rainbow."

The two of them hugged each other for a few minutes before Rainbow Dash finally broke out of it and pulled out a blue phone. The time read half past five in the afternoon.

"Well. I've gotta head home," Rainbow said. "You know. Homework, video games, soccer practice. The usual."

"Alright." Indigo pulled her phone out again and fiddled with some of the buttons until she opened a personal planner application. "Are you free tomorrow? Because I'd love to see how well you play."

"It does mean I'd have to shorten the time I help model for Rarity, so yeah. I'd be glad to see you then." Rainbow messed with her own phone for a bit, showing a keyboard and an empty sheet of paper. "Why don't you give me your phone number? That way, we could stay in touch."

"I'd love to." Indigo typed down the numbers on her screen, then showed it to Rainbow Dash, who repeated it and added it to her contacts list. Once the number was integrated into her index, she put her phone away. "So, how about tomorrow at one in the afternoon?"

"I'll see you there." Rainbow gave Indigo another hug before she walked towards her home. She looked back and gave her a quick wave. "Have a good night, Indy!"

"You too!" she said back before making her own way home.

The next day, Indigo Zap and Rainbow Dash met on an empty soccer field with a bag full of balls as well as two nets. It took them a while to get everything set up, but once they did, they found themselves both back at the bag.

"Nothing like a friendly game to make up for a multi-generational athletic feud." Indigo picked up the first ball and made her way to the center of the field with Rainbow in tow. "It really eases the mind, y'know?"

"Uh... sure." Rainbow did some stretches as Indigo put the ball down. She reached up, then down to her feet, then over her head, before she started to give her legs a workout. "Sorry, just gotta get my blood pumping before we play. It's good for the muscles."

"Thanks for reminding me!" Indigo mirrored Rainbow's actions. "You can never be too careful with games like this. The slightest mistake or underexercised arm or leg could cost you the whole thing, so it's always good to be prepared."

When they both felt like they had worked enough, they both towered over the ball and looked at each other with smirks on their faces. They both shook hands before they took ten paces back and bent their front legs, ready to run.

"Hey, Indy?" Rainbow Dash gently rubbed her hands. "Don't go too easy on me just because we're even, okay?"

"I won't." Indigo cracked her knuckles and took a deep breath. "May the best girl win."

They waited a few seconds, listening to a small gust of wind whistle by their ears and staring at each other with hardened gazes. They both ran forward at the ball, their hands tightened up into fists. Indigo and Rainbow were close, but it was Indigo who managed to kick the ball first and grinned when it went flying down the field.

Win or lose, it would be a good game.

Author's Notes:

Well, that was definitely something, wasn't it? Thank you so much for reading my new story. If you liked it, be sure to give it a thumbs up and send it to your friends and followers. This is an idea I've had on my mind for a while now, but I wondered how it would compare with other slice of life stories I've seen on this site.

Also, if you want me to make a series out of this with the other Shadowbolts and Wondercolts, just drop a comment. Who knows? With enough of them, I might do a lot more stories like this...

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