Apr 9th, 2014
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  1. Slope-a-Dope
  2. By IceMan
  4. >It’s snowing again, and the harsh wind on the mountain ridge is blowing the fat flakes like tiny daggers into what little skin you have uncovered, mostly on your upper cheeks and nose.
  5. “Are you ready?” you ask your blue companion.
  6. >She snaps her orange goggles over her eyes, and snaps the last of her four hooves into her snowboard.
  7. >“Never more ready than ever.”
  8. “Good, then let’s go.”
  9. >You plunge your poles into the ground and push off down the slope, speed increasing as you race against your companion on your skis.
  10. >The sign at the top, which labeled this run as “Moonshine,” said it was only a blue, intermediate difficulty, but it started out pretty steep for a blue.
  11. >Unfortunately for you, your cyan friend is a little more daring than you, and bombs straight down, body perpendicular to the direction of the trail.
  12. “Slow down!” you shout to Rainbow Dash as you catch up to her with a few swift pole plants and turns. “You’re gonna run into a tree or something.”
  13. >The trail divides in two up ahead, with a copse of thick pine trees marking the boundary.
  14. >“No way! Do you think I’m just gonna let you win?” she shouts back over the roar of the wind.
  15. >Once again, the cyan pegasus scoots ahead and dodges to the right of the trees.
  16. “Reckless,” you mutter to yourself, gaining a bit of speed with a longer turn to once again pass her.
  17. >There were very few others on the slopes at this time due to the inclement weather, thus prompting Dash to demand from you this silly race, but the blizzard had apparently not stopped one stallion from taking his foal out for a ski day.
  18. >Dash whizzed by them, nearly knocking the poor young’un over.
  19. “Sorry,” you yell to them in her stead, and try to catch up with Rainbow again.
  20. >She’s using her wings to get a little bit of extra speed now too.
  21. “You need to slow down. You almost hit those ponies!”
  22. >“I’m still in control. I wouldn’t have hit them, and you know it.”
  23. >Dash accelerates, and you give yourself a good push with your poles to get over a flatter section of the run.
  24. >Secretly, you hope that she’ll hit a patch of thicker snow and crash, just to get a taste of her own medicine for being so foolish.
  25. >At least, you manage to get ahead of her in this stupid race.
  26. >You really couldn’t get yourself out of that agreement; she said she’d tell her other five friends, most of whom were staying in the lodge to avoid the frigid downfall of snow, that you were a big chicken for not accepting her challenge.
  27. >The wise part of your brain says you should’ve just stayed with Twilight, Rarity, and Applejack, or just said no to this idiocy.
  28. >But it’s too late for that.
  29. >At least you’re going to win and crush Dash’s skyscraper-sized ego.
  30. >You’re almost at the bottom; you can see the main lift and the rusty log cabin of the ski lodge.
  31. >Rainbow is trying her best to edge ahead of you, but you’re just pulling enough speed to keep your lead.
  32. >If there’s no more obstacles in your way, you’re guaranteed to –
  33. >Fluttershy?
  34. >What the hell is she doing out here?
  35. >She’s supposed to be inside with the others, she hates skiing.
  36. >She’s leading a group of squirrels across the slope.
  37. >Directly in front of you.
  38. >When you’re going at least 30 miles per hour downhill.
  39. >Goddammit.
  40. >You do your best to hockey stop before you can hit her, sending a rooster tail of snow high into the air, but it’s to no avail.
  41. >Bracing for impact, you collide with Sunshine Skitters and topple down the slope.
  42. >All you hear from her over the wind is a very loud, yet somehow dainty, “Eeep!” along with a raspberry as Rainbow Dash whizzes by you.
  43. >You finally come to a stop, a shivering pegasus lying on top of you.
  44. >“H-hi, Anon.”
  45. “Sorry about that, Fluttershy.”
  46. >“I-it’s o-okay. I think I’ll just h-head back up and g-get those squir-r-rels.”
  47. >You flip your skis into the right position and calmly finish the run.
  48. >“Nice job, slowpoke,” Rainbow Dash says as you slide to a stop.
  49. “Screw you. I almost killed Fluttershy because of that stupid race.”
  50. >“Oh, she’ll be fine. She’s tougher than she puts on.”
  51. “I’d still prefer not to be running into people all over the mountain.”
  52. >A strong gust ripples through the air, pelting you with frigid snow.
  53. “The weather’s getting bad,” you say, trying to change the subject. “We should head in.”
  54. >“Oh, c’mon. One more run. No races this time.”
  55. “No. It’s only gonna be worse at the top.”
  56. >“We’ve only got one last day here. One last run. And, I promise, no races!”
  57. >You sigh.
  58. >It is your last day, and you have no idea when you’re gonna get a chance to get back up here.
  59. “Fine. One last run. But, absolutely no races.”
  60. >“You have my word,” Rainbow says, giving a salute with her right front hoof, which she then clicks into her snowboard. “Let’s go.”
  61. >You head over to the main chairlift, where the line is completely empty.
  62. >The shivering lift operator asks, “Goin’ up again?”
  63. >Rainbow Dash nods.
  64. >“Jeeze, hope you two are last for the day. I’ve never seen it this cold and snowy before in two years of working here. I just want to go inside and get a nice cup of hot cocoa.”
  65. >You both chuckle, then get on the lift.
  66. >The ride up is uneventful and quiet, the two of you not wanting to talk much with the tiny spikes of speeding snowflakes smacking into your faces.
  67. >The blizzard only gets worse as you reach the peak of the mountain.
  68. >Sliding off the chair, you head over to the map to check which trail to take.
  69. “Looks like Daredevil is still open,” you tell your companion. “That’s a black diamond, though, and a pretty tough one. And it leads into Gulliver’s Revenge if you don’t take the right path down, and that’s a double black. I’m not sure if you could handle that.”
  70. >Dash stares at you, mouth agape.
  71. >“Couldn’t handle it? Anon, do you really think I’m that inexperienced? I can handle anything.”
  72. “Alright,” you relent. “But absolutely no racing on this one. You could seriously get hurt, especially in the low visibility. There’s a lot of trees and rocks.”
  73. >“Didn’t I promise you no races? I always keep my promises. And I’ll be safe.”
  74. “I don’t know how much I trust that.”
  75. >“Then I’ll prove it to you. C’mon, last one to the bottom is a –”
  76. >You glare at her.
  77. >“Hehe... Let’s just go.”
  78. >You ski over to the cliff and gaze over the edge.
  79. >It’s pretty steep, but not unmanageable.
  80. >You make the first turn in, RD following.
  81. >The snow is thick and fluffy, like someone had spilled pure white lint all over the place.
  82. >Cautiously, you make a few more turns, gaining a bit of speed and leaving double lines dividing the snow into thick banks.
  83. >Rainbow follows, her snowboard making thicker bands of compressed powder.
  84. >She’s gaining a lot more speed than you, making longer, flatter turns, practically divebombing down this run.
  85. “You’ve gotta control your speed!” you yell to her as she passes by. “Otherwise you’re gonna crash!”
  86. >“I’m in complete control!” she yells back.
  87. “Whatever you say...” you mutter to yourself, and increasing your velocity as well.
  88. >If she gets hurt, you want to at least be there to help.
  89. >Suddenly, there’s a loud, sharp rumble, coming from seemingly everywhere.
  90. >Rainbow stops, allowing you to catch up with her for a moment.
  91. >“What was that?”
  92. “I don’t know. Might’ve been lightning. Sounded too close to be Ski Patrol setting off avalanches.”
  93. >“L-lightning?”
  94. “Hold on.”
  95. >You look over to a lift, barely visible to through the trees.
  96. >It’s stopped.
  97. “It’s lightning,” you say. “We’ve gotta get off the mountain. Ugh, I knew I shouldn’t’ve come up here. This is really dangerous.”
  98. >“So what? We get down as fast we can and get inside. We’re not golfing in a thunderstorm or something, right?”
  99. “But we’re not even close to the bottom. The fastest way down is through, well... the fastest way down is through Gulliver’s.”
  100. >“Then we take that. Can’t be too bad.”
  101. “It’s narrow, steep, and there’s a cliff on one side.”
  102. >“Nothing I can’t handle.”
  103. “No, you can’t. I can’t even handle it. It’s at least two times steeper than this, barely wide enough to make turns, and there’s a two hundred foot drop into a valley on one side. We have to stay on this run. Whatever you do, stay to the left side.”
  104. >You push off with your poles, Rainbow following at first, though she quickly pulls ahead again.
  105. >She doesn’t seem to be heeding your warning to stay the to the left, or, at least, is slowly drifting right.
  106. >The trail narrows and then splits in two up ahead by a copse of thick, black pine trees, and you know the rightward path heads directly to Gulliver’s Revenge.
  107. >You do your best to catch up to the cyan pegasus, but it’s no use.
  108. >She’s heading directly for the right side, and you have to follow her.
  109. >If she gets hurt, the blame is all on you.
  110. >As you turn into the right path, there’s another crack of thunder.
  111. >Rainbow stops at the overhang to Gulliver’s Revenge, looking down.
  112. “I warned you to stay left!” you tell her, coming to a halt with a quick hockey stop. “Now look where we are.”
  113. >The hill bends down into steep, narrow chute with evergreens on one side and a cliff marked with red-orange hazard fence on the other.
  114. >The fence might stop you from falling, but there’s no way you could pick yourself out of it on skis without possibly breaking it.
  115. >“You didn’t tell me the run was gonna get so narrow, and that the right side led here and didn’t just spill out! It looked a lot more fun than the left….”
  116. “Well, that doesn’t matter now. If you’d just slowed down and waited for me, I could’ve told you were going the wrong way. Now are options are to hike out of here, or ski down.”
  117. >“We’ve gotta ski down. If we hike back, we’re more likely to get struck by lightning.”
  118. “Right. So be careful, stay behind me, and go slow! I don’t want to be hauling you out of here on a ski patrol sled, if they’re still even out.”
  119. >You turn in slowly and carefully, then prop yourself up on your poles.
  120. “Here’s what I want you to do. Just sideslip down. It’ll help you keep control. I don’t know if you even can snowboard this run.”
  121. >“No way! I’m not a little filly anymore, I’m not sideslipping this!”
  122. >She makes an aggressive turn into the run and starts heading down, making quick, narrow turns.
  123. “God dammit,” you curse.
  124. >She’s already ahead of you, and there’s no way you can catch up to her safely unless she falls or... let’s not think about that second option.
  125. >You do your best to match her speed, narrowly avoiding a collision with a spruce and a fall over the edge into netting over the ravine.
  126. >Your skis crunch over a rock near the cliff as you feebly attempt to catch up.
  127. >Then, the inevitable happens.
  128. >Dash hits another small bit of rock near the cliff edge and tumbles into the snow.
  129. >On one hand, you can now catch up to her.
  130. >On the other, she might be hurt.
  131. >You reach her position and stop.
  132. “You okay?”
  133. >“Yeah, I think I’m fine. Might’ve sprained an ankle, but that’s it. Help me up.”
  134. >You grab her hoof and help her out of the snow.
  135. “You need to be careful, and stay behind me. No exceptions.”
  136. >“Alright, fine. I will.”
  137. “Good. It’s not a race, remember.”
  138. >“It’s always a race….”
  139. “What?”
  140. >“Never mind.”
  141. >You push off and make a turn into the hill towards where the run spills out onto less steep terrain, Rainbow finally following behind you this time.
  142. >A few more turns and you’re home free and out of the double black and back on a nice groomed blue.
  143. >“Hold up, Anon, my ankle’s really hurting,” Dash says as you pull onto the smoother snow.
  144. >She stops, unlatches her boot from her snowboard, yanks her hoof out of the boot, and pulls down the sock.
  145. >Her ankle is red and a bit swollen.
  146. “Yeah, you definitely sprained that,” you tell her. “Do you think you can make it down?”
  147. >She nods, reassembling her gear.
  148. >“Let’s go.”
  149. "No. Hold up. I told you to stay behind me, and you didn't. Why would you be so stupid and reckless when your life is at stake?"
  150. >"But I'm fine. Nothing bad would've happened, and you know it."
  151. "No, I don't. You're lucky you're getting out with just a hurt ankle. You could be dead. When you're on stuff like that, you have to be cautious and level-headed. Hell, we wouldn't have even been in there if you had just listened to me! Can you imagine how guilty I would've felt if it were just me standing here right now? Because I didn't stop you entirely? Because I didn't say before we even left, 'Hey, let's just stay inside, the weather looks rough?'"
  152. >"Alright, fine, I'm sorry. I should've listened."
  153. "Good. You're right to be."
  154. >"Is there any way I can fix this?"
  155. "We can figure that out once we get off the mountain. C'mon."
  156. >Dash roars off, building a rooster tail of snow.
  157. >You sigh, shake your head, and speed off after her.
  158. >Later that day, you sit with your feet up on a duvet in front of the fire in the lodge, drinking hot cocoa with a splash of coffee liquor and whipped cream, your favorite après ski beverage, while the snowstorm rages outside.
  159. >“So you really stayed out there in that blizzard?” Twilight asks over her book. “Even when the lightning started?”
  160. >You nod, too tired from the day to speak.
  161. >“Yeah, and it was awesome!” Rainbow Dash says, jumping into the air and wincing when she lands.
  162. >She’s wrapped her hoof in an icepack, but she’s clearly still in quite a bit of pain.
  163. >“We went down this super steep run and – ”
  164. “What she’s not telling you is she took a wrong turn because she was going too fast and end up on Gulliver’s Revenge. Then she fell on that and sprained her ankle.”
  165. >“Oh my. Sounds like you two had quite a day,” Twilight says.
  166. “Yeah.”
  167. >“And we’re gonna do it again tomorrow, right Anon? And this time I’ll race ya down Gulliver’s.”
  168. >You look at her and chuckle.
  169. “Only if the weather’s good. But I’ll race you. And I’ll win.”
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