Rainbow Dash trotted happily up the steps of the Wonderbutt stadium.
She wasn't considered ready to join in all their displays yet, but she was learning – and at least it meant she got to attend all their shows! There was no way work could get in the way of a Wonderbutts show if work was a Wonderbutts show!
For a moment, she wondered why something about that had sounded slightly odd, but she shook her head.
She'd always wanted to join the Wonderbutts, hadn't she? Anyway, she needed to stop woolgathering and get to the stands.
As she trotted out into the arena, she saw that the seating was quite full. Actually, it was very full – every seat she could see seemed to be occupied.
Shifting in her snug Wonderbutts suit, Dash wondered if she should try and pull rank, but then realized that that wouldn't be very good manners. Instead she began trotting along between the banks of seats, looking for a free one.
After a minute or so, and getting more and more concerned, Dash noticed another pony was trotting along beside her – and he was wearing a familiar Shadowbutts uniform.
“What do you want?” she asked, a little confrontationally.
The pony simply gave a friendly grin, or, at least as friendly as one could give when wearing the angry goggles of the Shadowbutt costume. “Hey, didn’t mean to offend, but you’re not getting any seat wandering around like this, the place is sold out. But one of our members got the feather flu, so we’ve got an extra seat. My captain wanted to offer it to you, as an act of good faith, y’know? Seems only fitting, given that we’re playing you guys today anyway.” The pony said.
Dash looked the Shadowbutt up and down, somewhat suspicious. Since when were these Shadowbutts good sports? And if the stadium was sold out, why the heck didn’t Spitfire save her a seat? Still, she looked back out over the crowd as they all talked amongst each other, eager for the game to begin. If she turned this down, it looked like she was going to be sitting on the stairs for the whole game. And she certainly wouldn’t look like a good Wonderbutt acting mean to the other team…
“Alright, but don’t think this means I’m gonna be cheering for you guys today!” Dash said. The Shadowbutt just waved a hoof, chuckling before turning around to lead Dash to their seats.
It took a couple of minutes to reach the reserved seats in the Shadowbutt section, and by the time they got there the game was about to start – so Dash didn't turn up her nose at sitting with a couple of off-duty Shadowbutts, and just plumped her plump rump down on the seat.
“So, you're the big new recruit for the Wonderbutts?” asked the Shadowbutt mare to her other side. “We heard a lot about you, you're supposed to be really good.”
“Well, yeah,” Dash replied, feeling smug despite herself.
“How good are you?” the stallion asked, sitting on her left side – his suit plump enough that, together with Dash's suit and the other Shadowbutt's suit, they were all pressed lightly together.
“I don't want to boast,” Dash lied. “But I'm pretty good.”
The mare nodded appreciatively, then looked suddenly worried. “Oh, I didn't realize it was going to be this sunny… here.”
She passed the stallion a billed Shadowbutts cap, and put one on herself.
Dash looked up as the game began, but the sun got in her eyes and made her squint. “Damn it...”
“Something wrong?” the stallion asked.
“Oh, I can't see the game,” Dash explained.
The mare to her right side offered her a billed Shadowbutt cap, just like the ones she and her friend were already wearing. “Here.”
Dash glanced down at the cap, reluctant to put it on. She was Wonderbutt, not one of these pompous puffy Shadowbutts! Still, her eyes were already watering a bit from the bright sun, and she didn’t want to miss any of the game…
There was a sudden fanfare as the cheerleaders began to fly up to the center of the stadium, the crowd roaring loudly with excitement. Deciding she had no choice, Dash slipped the cap on to block out the sun. It’s not like it was that obviously a Shadowbutt hat anyway, no pony would notice!
She didn’t give it much more thought as the show began to start either, instead watching as the Wonderbutt cheerleaders flew in formation, shaking their thickly padded rears around in time with the music while chanting. Dash joined in, the Shadowbutts around her jokingly booing as they performed.
“What a bunch of sog-butts!”
“Nuthin’ but foals!”
Dash stuck her tongue out at one of the Shadowbutts sitting next to her, only for the stallion to do the same as the Wonderbutts began to take to the air with their cheerleaders.
With her vision shaded by the bill of the cap, Dash was able to spot a couple of the Wonderbutts she'd trained with as they flew in formation over the arena. But then the Shadowbutts took off, surrounded by their own cheerleaders, and Dash switched her attention to them.
“Now that's more like it!” one of the Shadowbutts by her said approvingly.
“Look at the poof on them!”
Dash looked closer, more interested in the Shadowbutts than their Wonderbutt counterparts.
...after all, she was finding out about what the rivals, the Shadowbutts, could do! She was taking this opportunity to see if there were any secret tricks! So she focused on the Shadowbutt cheerleaders as they shook their butts around, chanting together.
“Shadowbutts have all the fun!”
“Come to the dark side, we have cake!”
“Shadowbutts are Shadowbetter!”
The mare next to her gave her a nudge, breaking her concentration, and Dash looked over. “Huh?”
“Why aren't you singing along?” the Shadowbutt asked.
“What, with the Shadowbutt songs?” Dash replied, confused.
“Of course! Here, you probably need the lyrics sheet,” the mare realized, and handed her a Shadowbutt-branded programme for the event.
Opening it, Dash found to her surprise that they did indeed have the lyrics of all their chants printed on a sheet inside. They all sounded kind of silly, though.
Her eyes trailed along to follow the lyrics as the Shadowbutts continued their chants, all the ones around her swaying a little in time as they cheered. Dash obstinately refused to join in, though. Even if everypony around her was singing, she wasn’t a Shadowbutt, and there wasn’t any way they were going to get her to cheer for the other team!
Dash crossed her forelegs and leaned back in her chair with a harrumph-pomf. With nothing else to do, her gaze travelled back to the Shadowbutt cheerleaders, some of whom were now bouncing a one of the Wonderbutt’s mascots between their puffy rumps, their skirts flicking up to reveal the thick diapers beneath them.
Dash found herself wishing she could be up in the air showing off her own puffy butt. That’d show those Shadowbutts, the Wonderbutts were the puffier ones! Besides, being bounced around by their padded rears didn’t look all that bad…
Dash shook her head, trying to get the thought out of her mind. The Shadowbutts around her had started to quiet down as the cheers ended, a few referees flying out to begin the game of hoofball as each pony took their places on the field.
“Now you'll see how Wonderbutts do proper pamper playing!” Dash said cockily, ready for an epic victory to reassure her that Wonderbutts really were the best. She leaned forwards a little in her seat, though that did make her suit creak and crinkle against the Shadowbutt suits pressing into it.
The game began with a bang, and Dash cheered as the Wonderbutts got the first hit – but then, much to her astonishment, the Shadowbutts started to get control of the play! First they bounced the ball between their rumps, using the springiness and puffiness of their diapers to get much better ball control than the Wonderbutts were managing, and then something happened she didn't quite see and Soarin' ended up nearly flying into the ground.
Groaning, Dash leaned forwards a little more, until the stallion spoke up. “Is something wrong?”
“I'm just trying to see what's going on,” Dash explained. “It's kind of hard to see from this end.”
“Just use some binoculars,” the stallion suggested, holding up a set with the Shadowbutts logo on them.
“Ehhh...” Dash said, not sure whether to accept, but then there was another cheer from the Shadowbutt end and a groan from the Wonderbutt side, and she didn't even know what it was this time.
The Shadowbutt cheerleaders started shaking their rumps again to celebrate a point, and Dash took the binoculars so she'd at least know what was going on.
Dash managed to spot Spitfire zipping through the air after one of the Shadowbutt players who balanced the ball expertly on his puffy rump. Spitfire spun around, attempting to snatch the ball up from the Shadowbutt, only for the player to flick his rump and send the ball flying towards another player. Before Spitfire could react, she dove face first into the Shadowbutt’s rear, a cloud of foal powder puffing out as she connected. There was a collective groan from the Wonderbutt side of the stadium, the other half laughing loudly as Spitfire shook her head to try and clear it.
Dash wasn’t paying much attention to her anymore, instead following the ball as one of the Wonderbutts managed to intercept it. “Haha, take that!” Dash cried out, watching as the Wonderbutt flew back towards the other end of the field.
As they approached the goal, however, a Shadowbutt swooped in, causing the Wonderbutt to skid to a half mid-air, the ball rolling off their rear as they tried to avoid smacking into the opponent’s puffy outfit.
As the game continued, Dash was momentarily distracted by the sound of slurping beside her. She looked down from her binoculars to see a Shadowbutt, one that looked awfully pudgy for an all star player, greedily gulping down something from a Shadowbutt printed cup. The Shadowbutt blushed a little, offering Dash some popcorn. “Sorry, games make me hungry…”
Dash hadn't been thinking about that, but as soon as the topic was broached she realized that she was actually feeling quite hungry herself. “Thanks,” she replied, taking a hoof-full and crunching it down.
As her attention went back to the game, she kept absently taking a few bits of popcorn at a time from the container. It helped her feel better about a game which was definitely not going well for the Wonderbutts.
She focused her attention down to look at the Shadowbutt goal, and blinked as she saw that the Shadowbutt occupying the goal position was so bulky it would be almost impossible for a ball to get past him.
Before she could ask whether that was legal, the stallion to her side groaned.
“Somepony must have messed up the rain schedule,” he said, indicating the sky, and Dash looked up to see ominous-looking clouds gathering.
“Aren't they going to stop them?” Dash asked.
“No, this is an all-weather match,” the mare told her, shifting to look at Dash and emphasizing further how thick their suits were. “They'll just let it rain on us. That's why everyone's putting on their ponchos.”
She pulled a folding poncho – one marked with the black-purple and lightning bolt of the Shadowbutts – and put it on as she spoke, and Dash could see everyone else nearby was doing the same.
“I, uh, don't have a poncho,” she said a bit lamely.
“You can borrow one of ours,” the mare suggested. “I've got one spare.”
Dash slipped it on without thinking, tugging the plastic down over her diaper as the sky darkened further. A few of the Wonderbutt cheerleaders looked about nervously as they watched the clouds gathering, but the Shadowbutts looked as calm as ever, still chanting and shaking their pompoms around. Dash felt a drop of water on her muzzle, and soon rain began to cascade down onto the stadium. The chubby pony beside Dash tried to munch down some of his popcorn, while shielding it from the rain.
Dash watched through her binoculars, occasionally shaking drops of water off the lenses to get a clear view. The Wonderbutt’s rumps were starting to balloon out, their diapers soaking with water as they flew after the Shadowbutts. The Shadowbutts, on the other hand, didn’t seem to be affected by the rain at all. Even as their own rumps swelled up, they continued their deft maneuvers around the slowing, soggy Wonderbutts. The Wonderbutt’s cheerleader’s diapers began to swell too, while the Shadowbutts laughed and bounced their own rears into the opposing team’s mascots.
“Looks like the Wonderbutts are all wet!” They laughed, the Shadowbutts scoring yet another score.
What was the score, anyway? Despite following the ball, Dash hadn’t really been keeping track of the score that well. She looked over to the scoreboard, only for her jaw to drop.
53 to nothing?! What the heck were the Wonderbutts doing out there?!
Fortunately for Dash's pride, in a sense, there were only another dozen or so points scored by the agile Shadowbutts against the increasingly soaked and sluggish Wonderbutts.
Then the half-time bell went, and the referees – all wearing striped rain coats – huddled up to confer.
Dash winced as she saw Spitfire go splat on the ground, no longer able to fly with the weight of her diaper weighing her down, and then the referee huddle broke up.
“Attention!” one of them called, his voice resounding in the stadium. “Due to the weather problems and the… extremely one sided score… the second half of today's game has been rained off with the Shadowbutts declared as the winners.”
Dash groaned, but couldn't really disagree. She had to admit, the Wonderbutts hadn't done very well today, while the Shadowbutts had been all kinds of awesome!
As she realized what she'd just thought about the other team, the snug-suited and above all dry mare next to her said something Dash didn't quite catch.
“What was that?” she asked.
“Oh, I was just wondering,” the mare began, a little slyly. “Whether you wanted to see what it was like on a winning team.”
Rainbow Dash was about to retort, but after the game they had just watched, she couldn’t think of any witty replies. She instead decided to slink off to the locker rooms, grumbling a little bit to herself as she pushed past the puffy outfits of the Shadowbutts.
She stepped into the locker room where the other Wonderbutts were busy slipping out of their soaked uniforms and sloshy diapers to replace them with thick fluffy ones. “Guh, what the heck happened out there, guys? Do I need to get back to cheering you on to fly better?” Dash tried to joke. None of the team looked very amused, and Soaring trotted by, his diaper squishing around loudly.
“Sure, if you haven’t already switched teams. By the looks of things, you’re already halfway there.” He said. Dash was momentarily confused, only to look down and realize she was still sporting all the Shadowbutt memorabilia.
“Oh, geez, I’m so sorry, I didn’t…!” She tried to make excuses, throwing off the cap and poncho as she stammered.
As she put down her Shadowbutts binoculars, the door to the locker room swung open again – admitting a Shadowbutt, who managed to almost completely hold in her mirth.
“What do you want?” Spitfire asked, sounding more than a little surly.
“Oh, nothing you need to worry about,” the Shadowbutt said, coming more fully into the room and revealing her rank flashes – which told the observer in the know that she was the captain of the Shadowbutts. “I had a deal for you.”
She indicated Dash, who was in the process of discovering she'd put on a Shadowbutts wristwatch at some point and wasn't entirely sure how to get it off. “Two of my side-benchers took a shine to this one, and I want her on my team.”
Spitfire frowned. “A trade? What do we get, then?”
“Forty fluffy towels,” the Shadowbutts captain suggested.
“It's a deal,” Spitfire said immediately.
“What!?” Dash demanded, looking up from her foreleg.
“Dash, it makes sense,” Spitfire reassured her. “We'll all be doing remedial training, but the Shadowbutts are more advanced at the moment and I don't want to delay your first real time working for us.”
“But… I won't be...” Dash began to protest, then shook her head – not entirely sure what she'd been concerned about. It all seemed perfectly sensible now.
She shrugged, looking over to the new captain. “So, uh… I guess I’ll just follow you, then?” She said. The captain nodded and trotted out of the locker room, Dash following close behind her. As they headed out, they passed by a few more Shadowbutts bringing in the agreed upon towels. Or, were they diapers? Dash hadn’t really been paying attention to what the two captains had been talking about, and while the things being brought in were certainly thick enough to be towels, they looked awfully crinkly…
Dash tried to push the thought out of her mind. It didn’t matter, really, now that she was with… “Say, what’s your name?” Dash asked as she waddled after the Shadowbutts captain.
The captain flashed her teeth in a beaming grin, her sunglasses shimmering despite the lack of real sunlight outside. “Captain Moonbeam, and don’t worry, we’re going to get to know each other very well soon enough~”
“Right,” Dash nodded, nodding a few times more than were really necessary before realizing what she was doing and stopping. “Sorry about that, I must be having trouble paying attention...”
“Well, that's something you'll have to work on,” Captain Moonbeam said. “Now, we'd better head back to the Shadowbutts training area.”
“Right!” Dash said again, deciding to commit to this whole transfer thing. “So, where is your training area?”
Moonbeam smirked. “About that… it's a secret.”
“Yeah, I know, but where is it?” Dash repeated.
“That's a secret,” Moonbeam told her again, and produced a small blindfold. “So you're going to have to wear this when we go there...”
Dash looked at the blindfold, then at Moonbeam. “What?”
“We wouldn't want to show just anyone where our secret base was, would we?” Moonbeam asked reasonably. “They might copy all our secret moves. And since you don't know, you'll have to wear a blindfold.”
Dash frowned, first wondering how that could make sense, then thinking it over again and wondering why she'd had a problem with it.
“Okay, I guess...” she said, taking the blindfold, and slipped it over her eyes.
It blocked her eyesight almost completely, with only a dim glow showing through at the edges.
“All right, come on!” Moonbeam added.
Dash attempted to waddle after Moonbeam, only to bump into the wall. She rubbed her muzzle, a blush crossing her face. She heard Moonbeam chuckle, only to place a hoof on Dash’s back. “Alright, alright, I guess I’ll have to lead you there myself. I guess I forgot normal pegasi don’t have echolocation.” She said, leading Dash along. Dash tried to look around, but the only difference she could spot under her blindfold was if she was looking directly at the sun. She resigned herself to just following Moonbeam’s occasional pokes and prods to get her moving in the right direction.
They were walking for quite a while, Dash wondering just how far away this practice field was, and that it just felt like they were walking around in circles.
It wasn’t too much longer, however, before Moonbeam stopped, and Dash bumped into her padded rump. “Alright, rookie, we’re finally here, you can take the blindfold off now.” Dash happily complied, glad to be able to see again. Upon removing her blindfold, she was greeted with the sight of a massive training field, full of obstacle courses, a few bleachers, and a large headquarters at the center. Part of Dash noticed they seemed to be standing on a cloud isolated from just about anywhere else, but they hadn’t flown at all while Moonbeam led her here. She shook her head, figuring it wasn’t something to bother worrying about as she began to make her way along the path through the training grounds.
“So, uh, what's first?” Dash asked. “I mean… is there any paperwork or anything? Because if there is...” she shook her head. “Nuh-uh!”
Moonbeam laughed. “No, there's no paperwork, we're a bit less formal about that side of things. But we do need to get your uniform changed – after all, look at you!”
Dash looked at herself automatically, and she had to admit that she was dressed as a Wonderbutt. “Yeah, I guess it doesn't really fit...”
“Not at all,” Moonbeam agreed, leading her through one of the doors. “Ah, this is Dreamy Duvet, he's our costumes pony. Dreamy, do you have Dash's Shadowbutt outfit ready yet?”
The other bat pony nodded, vanishing into some stacks of clothes, and Dash waited patiently.
After a moment, though, something occurred to her. How did this Dreamy Duvet know what size she was, or even that she was coming at all-
“Shouldn't you be getting ready to change?” Moonbeam asked.
“H-hey, I'm – my diaper's dry!” Dash replied quickly, train of thought lost.
“No, I mean so you can put on your new costume,” Moonbeam elaborated. “It's time to zip off that Wonderbutts costume and put it away.”
“Oh, right,” Dash said, blushing, as she heard Dreamy coming back with something soft and plush.
Dash fumbled around for the zipper on her Wonderbutt outfit, but no matter how much she ran her hooves over her costume, she couldn’t seem to find it. How the heck did she get this thing on, anyway? While she fumbled, Dreamy gave a mildly exasperated sigh, shaking his head a little. “These Wonderbutt costumes always stick. I don’t know how they can get away with this! I suppose we’ll have to go with plan B.” He trotted up to Dash, who was still struggling to find any means of removing her suit, and suddenly flipped her onto her rump. As she fell onto the floor with a flump, Dreamy got to work sliding the rear legs of the suit over Dash’s, quickly coming to the bulge of Dash’s diaper. He grunted a bit from the effort, tugging and pulling the surprisingly stretchy suit to get it to fit over Dash’s butt. “It all comes… guh from having too thick… diapers!” He said, finally getting it over Dash and sliding the rest of it up Dash’s belly.
Moonbeam gave a mock shock of surprise. “Dreamy, I’m surprised at you! It’s just your fault for not taking the proper amount of puff into consideration!” Dreamy simply pulled the plush Shadowbutts outfit onto Dash, zipping up the back and leaving the pegasus stuck rocking on her rear.
“Alright, I suppose that’ll do for now.”
Dash was left looking a little puffier than she ought to have, with the plushness of her Wonderbutts suit under the Shadowbutts one, and her legs spread even further by the wide rump.
Blushing, she struggled a little as she got herself upright. She staggered a little, not expecting the extra unbalanced weight, and tried to flare her wings a little.
Nothing happened, her wings covered over by plush, and Dash looked back over her shoulder as best she could. “Uh… what happened to my wings?”
“I'm glad you're eager for practice, but we're not ready for that yet,” Moonbeam told her firmly. “It's late already, and we've got to show you your induction videos into the team as well as get you set up for the night – if there's time, we might be able to do some practice today.”
“But aren't I going to need my wings anyway?” Dash asked.
“Come on,” Moonbeam told her, ignoring her question. “Hmm, I wonder if there's still time for you to take part in the new team chant...”
“Hey, aren't you listening?” Dash demanded, then went back over what Moonbeam had said. “Induction videos?”
“Yes, of course,” Moonbeam replied. “There's a lot to learn about how a team does things, and of course you need to know how the very best team does things! But we don't have time to explain it all in person, so you're going to get the basics from a video. This way!”
Dash trotted after Moonbeam, not really having much a choice in the matter. Moonbeam headed down the hallway of the training base, soon coming to another room. This one looked like a mini theater, a few plush chairs spread out in front of a projector screen. Moonbeam motioned for Dash to sit as she wheeled an old projector out into the middle of the room. Dash sat down in one of the seats, the sides squeezing comfortably in on her diaper.
Moonbeam dimmed the lights and flicked the projector on, the soft whirring filling the room as the video began to play. It showed a stadium packed full of ponies, all waiting eagerly for a game to begin. Only seconds after the scene began, several ponies began to rush onto the field, their uniforms and swollen rears quickly giving them away as Shadowbutts. The crowd ‘ooooh’ed and ‘aaaaaah’ed, watching them soar about in formation.
The ponies flew around before diving down at the camera, pulling up at the last second and freezing to show the trio zipping through the air. A voice spoke up, in that cheesy, old-movie style of sound.
“Congratulations! You’ve been picked the join the elite of elite flyers, the Shadowbutts! I suppose you’re quite excited to learn what comes next.”
Dash found herself nodding a bit in response as the video continued.
“Well, now, the Shadowbutts are the best flying team in Equestria,” the voice went on, with the film showing images of the Shadowbutts performing tricks and bouncing around a large, padded ball. “That means you'll have to work hard to be worthy of joining them.”
The voice paused for a moment, then the film switched to showing the Shadowbutts doing different things – marching along a path with their rumps swaying back and forth on the screen, then sharing an ice cream and some fizzy drinks, then doing a dance. “But it's not all work for the Shadowbutts! Shadowbutts are a team, and the most important thing is to be a team player – and that means you do what other team members do, both on and off duty!”
Dash nodded again, finding all of this perfectly sensible.
She did wonder why she kept thinking of other words, right in the middle of the sentences. She'd be watching and listening, then it would be like a word just… popped into her head.
Like when the narrator said that she had to 'do what other team members do', and she found the word 'obey' springing to mind instead of the first 'do' and 'say' in place of the second.
Dash absently sank back in her seat a little, her thickly padded rump cushioning her as she did.
“Remember, Shadowbutts do everything for a reason, and a new Shadowbutt has to realize that even if they can't see what the reason is,” the voice said, soothing, and Dash nodded again.
The movie continued, showing Shadowbutts running through an obstacle course with amazing skill. All but one, that is, who was stumbling a bit as they tried to keep up with the others, only to end up stuck in a tire swing, their padded rear shaking around as they tried to squeeze through. “Whoa, hold on there, kiddo! Being a Shadowbutt takes some time, you’ll have to cover the basics before you get to do the fun stuff! But don’t sweat it, every Shadowbutt makes a few mistakes, all it does is make them seem a bit cuter!” The Shadowbutt in the swing blushed brightly as another pony pushed on her puffy rear, sending her swinging back and forth.
The scene cut to what looked like a dormitory, ponies waddling around in their bunks. “You’ll want to get acquainted with your new home, you’ll be here for a while! Don’t worry, the other Shadowbutts will be more than happy to help get you set up.”
Dash’s mind wandered a bit, thinking about what she’d be getting ready to do. She couldn’t wait to run that obstacle course, she bet she’d set a new academy record! And she’d be the puffiest and fluffiest foal around!
“…did you get that?” The voiceover said, and Dash’s attention was immediately drawn back to the screen, catching a glimpse of what may or may not have been a pony being stuffed into a snug straitjacket. She fidgeted, hoping she hadn’t missed something important, and paid a bit more attention as the video continued.
Despite Dash's decision to make sure she didn't miss a thing, she had a bit of trouble remembering just what the movie actually talked about.
There was some more stuff about proper behaviour, and a few more of those odd words that just popped into her head, but honestly it seemed to be kind of boring and Dash sort of zoned out for that bit. She was still watching, still taking it in, but none of it really registered with her.
Then it finished with a section which was about… something? It might have involved the Dizzitron? Anyway, that bit was done, and Dash sat up slightly as the title card came up – 'chants!'
“Every Shadowbutt knows the Shadowbutt chants off by heart,” the narrator said. “Well, almost every Shadowbutt, that is. As a learner, you might not know them all just yet.”
Dash blushed, wondering if she'd missed something, but the voiceover kept going. “But as a learner, you'll need to make sure you learn them all as quickly as possible! Let's try one!”
The view on the screen changed again, showing a rear view of four Shadowbutts standing side by side. Their tails were flicking back and forth idly on the opposite beat to their padded rumps, and words appeared at the bottom of the screen with a little bouncing Shadowbutt animated there as well – waiting to jump onto the first of the syllables and signal the beginning of the chant.
Then it did, and Dash rushed to join in.
“One! Two! Three! Four! Our poof might just reach the floor!”
Dash happily chanted along with the video, watching the pony carefully to stay on the beat. Though that was a bit difficult to do with the Shadowbutt’s rumps swaying left and right, drawing her eyes up away from the little pony as she watched them swing and bump lightly into each other. She almost missed as the pony jumped to the next part of the chant, starting a little later than the video did.
“Five! Six! Seven! Eight! When it comes to diapers, we can’t wait!”
Dash found herself bouncing in her seat in time to the chant, giggling a little as the Shadowbutts turned to bounce their diapers into each other, crinkles accenting the song as the pony bounced along, looking rather puffy and a bit more like a bouncing ball. The pony flopped on its belly along the next verse, Dash rocking back and forth as she chanted.
“Diapers, blimps, and plushies too! We love them all and so will you!”
Dash nodded, her mind already thinking about being a big blimpy Shadowbutt for the crowd, showing off her puffily padded rump. It’d be just like the Wonderbutts, but bigger! And flashier! And so much cushier!
The bouncing ball that still looked a little bit like a pony reached the fourth pat of the chant, and Dash joined in as the chant reached a conclusion.
“We! Love! To! Be! As padded up as we can be!”
On that final word, the viewpoint of the film seemed to rush towards the Shadowbutts as they all wiggled their rumps. The marker bounced off the exclamation point at the end of the lyrics, and hurtled towards the camera – seeming to land on it, making the screen go entirely dark before the projector stopped.
Dash blinked, suddenly feeling like she had no idea how long she'd been watching the film.
“Did you get all of that?” Moonbeam asked, and Dash nodded hesitantly. “It's all right if you didn't, it's just the first time you've seen it.”
“Yeah, but… um...” Dash tried, then stopped – not sure how to avoid digging herself deeper somehow.
“Let's get you off to the dorm,” Captain Moonbeam added. “Up you get! Shadowbutts aren't slowpokes!”
Dash squeezed out of her seat, noticing her diaper seemed a little bit thicker than it had been when she had started watching the video. She waddled after Moonbeam, who led Dash through a few hallways where other Shadowbutts were starting to turn in for the night as well. “Here’s the learner’s dorm. Oh, don’t look so grumpy, we all have to start somewhere. I’m sure you’ll move up quickly with the basic training you’ve already done with the Wonderbutts anyway. Though you might find our basic training to be a bit more… intense.” Moonbeam grinned, and Dash thought she may have been waggling her eyebrows, though it was hard to tell behind the shades she wore.
Dash waddled inside where a few other Shadowbutts were already getting into bed. She made her way to an unoccupied bed, noticing it looked rather plain considering all the other extravagance the Shadowbutts had shown so far. Still, the pillow looked rather comfy, and the blankets were especially thick and cozy. Dash crawled into her bed, yawning as Moonbeam hit the light switch. “Lights out everypony! I want you up at the crack of dawn tomorrow! No dawdling!” She said.
Dash yawned, surprisingly tired for the little she had done today. Her eyelids grew heavy as she began to drift off to sleep…
Fweeeeee! The sound of a whistle piercing the air made Dash sit bolt upright in bed, though still a little groggy. “Come on, rookies, let’s move!” The Shadowbutts drill sergeant said, and soon everypony was hopping out of bed and hurrying out the door.
Dash brought up the rear, her rear wiggling back and forth as she waddled after the others, and took her place at the end of the line.
“All right!” the drill sergeant began. “Let's see how much you've learned so far!”
That made Dash blink – surely there hadn't been any lessons? She didn't remember any!
“On three, do the Shadowbutts team chant!” the sergeant ordered. “And shake those rumps in time! Come on, get them shaking!”
Trying to do as she was told, Dash duly started wiggling her padded butt back and forth. It was a little irregular at first, but before long she was in time with the other recruits.
“One, two, three...” the sergeant counted them in.
“One! Two! Three! Four!” Dash chanted, the voices of the others overlapping her.
It was oddly easy to recall the words, given she'd only heard them once.
“Our poof might just reach the floor!” she continued, turning to bounce her diaper into the Shadowbutt beside her just as the video had, both of them crinkling as they continued the chant. As they did, Dash couldn’t help but notice her hind legs seemed to be spreading a bit as she chanted. Looking around, she noticed the other’s padding seemed to be growing ever so slowly thicker too, now moving to the next part of the chant. Dash bounced her rump against the ground, swishing her tail back and forth across it as she sang. Well, she supposed, she did say her poof should reach the floor, and the best way for that to happen was if it became thick enough to do it, right? Of course, even the Wonderbutts appreciated such thick fluffery!
She pushed the odd swelling sensations out of her mind as she bent over and shook her padded rear high in the air with the others, finishing off the chant. The sergeant looked rather pleased, or at least as pleased as a drill sergeant could look. “Not bad, but that was the easy part. Now get your butts over to the obstacle course! On the double!”
Not sure which way to go, Dash went along with the flow of the rest of the group. They went left, right, left, then she lost track, and soon all the trainee Shadowbutts were lined up in front of an obstacle course.
There was a set of hoops to walk through without tripping, then a collection of low walls to get over. There was a rope section, a climbing rope, and then an inflatable section which seemed to include narrow tunnels to squeeze through and slides to climb up.
It was a little hard to see after that-
“Go!” the drill sergeant called. “Cadet Dash, you first!”
Dash gulped, and waddled forwards.
Almost immediately, the hoops gave her problems. It wasn't too hard to reach from one hoop to the next, but the bulk of her thick padding made it harder than she'd prefer for her to lift her legs out of them and so she ended up nearly tripping over several times.
Stumbling out of that one, she crouched a little and pushed herself up the first of the walls. Her push got her forelegs over, but her hind legs didn't get any traction, and she wobbled there for several seconds before managing to fall over the low wall.
The new Shadowbutt let out an “oof” as she fell onto the ground, struggling to make it back to her hooves. “This ain’t a rest home, Dash, get your rear in gear!” The sergeant shouted. Dash rolled onto her front and pushed herself back up. She backed up towards the first wall, determined to get a better running start this time. She began to canter towards the second wall, if one could call her silly waddling a canter, and leapt forwards, just managing to clear the second wall, but still flubbing the landing and stumbling forward unprofessionally.
Shaking her head, she made one grand final leap for the third wall, which seemed a bit taller than the others now that Dash thought about it. Her hind legs scrambled against the wall, her diaper crinkling as the wall squeaked before she hoisted herself over and fell to her hooves. She hurried over to the next portion, standing on one end of a pit full of what looked like little plastic balls. She looked at the ropes dangling over it, a little nervous. If she had her wings, she could do this no problem! But now…
Dash backed up, wiggling her rump a little bit before leaping forward. Her hooves wrapped around the first rope, her momentum carrying her closer to the second.
She managed the tricky switch from the first rope to the second, but almost immediately she realized her mistake – she'd ended up with the rope wrapped around her diaper, which was distracting, but also meant it would be hard for her to get it off again!
She reached for the third rope, and snagged it, then tried to disentangle herself from the second rope without letting go of the third.
The tension between the two ropes made her flip upside down, and she dropped out from between the ropes – her last-minute grab for the third one only managing to spin her right way up again as she hit, but then she slo-o-owly ground along through the plastic balls to reach the far side.
Hauling herself out, she looked at the furrow her rump had caused and cringed slightly with embarrassment.
A shout from the drillpony made her jump, and she went for the climbing rope next – somehow ending up tangled up in this one, too, and dangling upside down from her ankle.
“This ain't no bed-time rest!” the sergeant harrangued her, then poked her with a hoof and made the rope unravel. “You'll have to come back and learn this one later, just go on to the next for now!”
Dash wriggled about, swinging in the air for a moment before somehow managing to untangle herself and falling onto the puffy mattress below the rope with a flump. Blushing brightly, she ran around the obstacle and tried not to think about what the other rookies were giggling about as she stepped up to the inflatable tubes. The first one was thankfully low to the ground, allowing her to easily slip through. A series of puffy rungs allowed her to climb up the first tube with ease, where she came to the top of a large puffy slide. Dash was a bit confused how this was supposed to make her a better flyer, but the thought was quickly stifled as she shrugged. It looked fun, and the Shadowbutt captains surely knew what they were doing.
She jumped up into the air, landing on the slide and rolling down with a prolonged ssqquueeeeaaak~. Giggling, she flopped forward, only to spot the sergeant and immediately jump to her hooves to regain her composure. She hurried towards the next slide, which now forced her to climb up the slippery smooth squeaky surface towards the top tube. She bounced upwards, her hooves slipping a bit against the vinyl, but the slide was thankfully not quite steep enough yet to cause to roll back down. As she reached the top, she squeezed in, noticing this tube seemed a bit smaller than the one before it…
Wiggling as hard as she could, Dash worked her way into the squeaky tube… then stopped moving.
She wiggled again, trying to keep going, but the hold the sides of the tube had on her own sides (and diaper) was strong enough that she couldn't quite get enough traction to move.
Taking a deep breath, then letting it out to try and shrink herself down, she tried again – moving a few inches, then sticking fast just like before.
“What's this, cadet?” the sergeant demanded. “Are you slacking off again?”
“mmf...” Dash mumbled, not sure what to say.
The sergeant did something she couldn't quite hear – and certainly couldn't see – then gave Dash a whack on the diaper, which pushed her out of the tube like a cork out of a bottle.
Sprawling out at the bottom of the slide, Dash shook her head – trying to clear it after the unusual trip. She looked up, and saw that the next part of the obstacle course was a set of several dozen tightly-spaced foam pillars.
It looked like there might be enough space for her to squeeze through the grid, so she got moving – waddling up to one of them, then beginning to move slowly and carefully through.
She weaved her way through the pillars, her rump bouncing lightly against a couple of them. As she pushed against one to squeeze through another gap, she felt something bap against her diaper. Blushing, she glanced over her shoulder to see one of the pillars wobbling around on a spring. Rather than coming to a stop, though, it seemed to have just as much, if not more, momentum from when she had pushed it. The pillar bopped against another one, which sent it wobbling around to hit another, and another, and another. Dash suddenly felt another pillar bump her side, sending her flopping back into yet another pillar.
She fell against the squeaky pillar, squeezing it to try and hang on, but she was instead flung to another, her diaper bouncing off it and sending her reeling to another. She struggled to maintain her hoofing, completely lost as to which was she was supposed to be heading in the first place. She simply pinged off another like a pinball, tumbling around as she ricocheted left and right. With a particularly hard smack on her rear, she was sent flying forwards, faceplanting into an inflatable mattress, only to rebound off of it and sail towards the next obstacle. Dash only got a faint glimpse of what looked like several large Shadowbutt patterned beach balls dangling over another pit before she was sent bouncing off the first one.
Limbs flailing, Dash tried to control the direction of her bounce – in any way she could, trying to make sure she would land on the next large bouncy ball.
She landed on top of the second one, which was good, but she landed hard enough to bounce upwards instead of just coming to rest. She looked down, trying to see past her diaper, then adjusted her trajectory slightly to bound onwards onto the third ball.
After the third ball came the fourth, but she hit that one so badly she bounced back into the third, and then from there went sideways to another ball entirely.
That one she balanced on the edge of, bounce almost gone, then crouched a little and tried to launch herself back to the main path – only for the bulk of her diaper to rob her kick of almost all its momentum, leading her to fall the four feet to the pit itself.
Much to her surprise, the pit didn't seem to be full of anything painful. Instead, it was soft and warm, almost cozy, and white and fluffy enough it took her several seconds to realize she was sinking.
The drill sergeant came flying over. “Well, cadet!” she said sternly. “That wasn't terrible, for a first showing, but not good enough!”
She produced a mirror from nowhere, holding it up to show Dash herself – including the soft, plush sheep costume she was wearing over the top of her Shadowbutts uniform.
“You'll wear that while your fellow cadets do the course!” she announced.
Dash’s face turned a bright red, looking down at herself as she tugged at the plush material hugging her snugly. She swam towards the edge of the pool, struggling to lift herself up as she kicked her legs and wiggled her small fuzzy sheep suit tail. She sat down beside the drill sergeant, comforted slightly by the plushness of her diaper giving her a good seat.
She watched as the others went through the obstacle course. Some were doing just as poorly as she had done, falling over themselves and tripping on the bulk of their diapers as they attempted to navigate the puffy course. Several ended up stuck in the tubes and needed to be smacked out just as Dash had. A couple others, however, made Dash look like an absolute foal! They ran through the course in no time at all, deftly dodging obstacles and skillfully bouncing on their hooves and diapers to make their way towards the finish.
Her face burned brightly as she tried not to look at the ponies, instead focusing more on another mare who had managed to fall into the pit of puff as well, climbing out with an embarrassingly thick sparrow suit on.
The birdsuited Shadowbutt sat down on her crinkly rump to watch the rest of the obstacle course attempts, and Dash reluctantly looked to the far end of the course – where the Shadowbutt Cadets who'd completed the course were being congratulated one by one as they arrived.
That just made the former Best Young Flier (who was now dressed like a Very Young Flier) blush harder, and by the time the last had been congratulated and they all came marching back over to the plush pool she half-wanted to crawl inside her suit and hide from everypony.
“And, last of all, our silly fillies and crinkly colts,” the drill sergeant announced. “I hope you've learned your lesson!”
Dash wasn't quite sure what the lesson was, but she nodded anyway – eager to get out of the suit as fast as possible – and the sergeant began to unzip them, one at a time.
The stallion Shadowbutt to her left was handled first, his owl sleeper-suit removed to reveal a still-thickly-padded pony beneath, and then the sparrow to her right.
Dash was done last, and breathed a sigh of relief upon being removed from the soft, warm material – though she couldn't help but feel faintly nostalgic, as well.
“Time for lunch break,” the drill sergeant told them, and Dash blinked.
Had it been that long already? Well… maybe it had, the obstacle course had taken a long time...
Dash waddled after the others, who were headed towards a collection of picnic tables. Standing beside it was a stallion passing out large paper bags filled with food. Dash scratched her head as she waited in line. Shouldn’t this place have a canteen or something? It was pretty weird eating out in the field like this. She took her food and headed towards one of the benches, sliding in beside a pony who was already greedily chewing down on his sandwich. Dash pulled everything out of her bag, a hay-flower sandwich (with the crust cut off), a big box of apple juice, an apple, a small bar of chocolate. Dash’s stomach growled and she began to wolf down the sandwich, wondering how she hadn’t noticed she was so hungry earlier.
Another pony sat opposite her, one of the ones that had finished the course in record time. “So, you’re supposed to be the big hot-shot from the Wonderbutts. I should’ve expected as much from a team of sog-butts like them,” she said, snootily. Dash glared at the Shadowbutt, noting her teal coat and orange mane. The pony looked familiar, but Dash couldn’t put her hoof on why…
“Pffft, it’s only ‘cause they think we’re not good enough for our wings yet. I’d fly circles around this place if they actually let me play at the level I’m on.” Dash bragged back, taking a drink from her box of juice.
The other pony opened her own bag, starting with the bar of chocolate, and Dash tried not to show her reaction. It was hard to know just what to think about that…
She shook her head slightly, then the other pony spoke up again. “So, what are you good at?”
“Flying!” Dash said, a little offended that the other pony – something Dust? - had needed to ask.
“I doubt it,” Dust dismissed. “Anypony who can fly should be able to manage something as easy as that.”
Dash was about to retaliate, but the stallion next to her put his hoof on hers. “Nope,” he advised.
Deciding to listen to that advice, Dash looked around at the other ponies having lunch. There were plenty of cadets, all wearing uniforms similar to her own, though there were also a couple of more experienced Shadowbutts among them. Dash also caught the eye of one of the other mares – Puddles? Raindrops? Something like that – who seemed grateful for the attention.
Halfway through her apple, the pegasus suddenly realized something was odd. She could swear the pony she'd sat next to was an Earth Pony, or she could remember that at least, but when she looked at him he was a pegasus like everypony else in the Shadowbutt training academy.
Blinking, Dash wondered if she'd had enough sleep, but then the sound of a throat being cleared made her look up towards a small dais and see several senior Shadowbutts filing onto it.
The Shadowbutts formed a line, captain Moonbeam stepping forward as a hush came over the crowd. “Welcome, Shadowbutts! I hope you all had a productive morning of practice! Since you’re all still settling in here, we figure it’s worth going over some of the basics to make sure you know how everything works.”
A couple other Shadowbutts stepped up, turning to allow everypony to get a good look at their uniforms. “These ponies are your senior officers. You’ll do as they say, and any complaints can be taken up with our ‘suggestion box’ here…” Moonbeam produced a pacifier, a couple members of the crowd chuckling, though it was clear Moonbeam wasn’t joking.
“As for each other, we’re a bit more… lenient. Rough play is expected, and encouraged, so long as nopony gets hurt. Pranks, puffs, and practical poofs are fair game. So long as you don’t get any of us involved.” Moonbeam said. Dash nodded in agreement, though she couldn’t stop part of her wondering how one of the officers would look stuck under the swollen diaper of a cadet…
“Now!” Moonbeam went on, making Dash jolt a bit. “You're all going to get a chance to personalize your sleeping area a bit, and one of the main ways is that you'll each be allowed to pick a poster. Just let us know which one you want, and it'll be put by your bed ready for you.”
She nodded to the other Shadowbutts behind her on the dais, and they began showing the posters off – two or three at a time.
Dash stared, looking first at one poster and then another and another.
There was one with a Shadowbutt bouncing off the ground and another Shadowbutt with their rump, making them look crinkly and cool at the same time. There was another one which showed a thickly-padded Shadowbutt, even thicker than any of the ones Dash had seen so far, with the slogan 'never change', and next to that was a Shadowbutt butt in a thick diaper right up against the viewpoint with tail curled and tossing to show it was moving.
The pegasus barely noticed that the slogan on that one was something like 'Be A Good Butt', before another one distracted her – this one a smirking Moonbeam posed in the middle of changing a blushing Shadowbutt, with the legend 'Moonbeam Is Momma'.
Dash blinked slowly, feeling oddly woozy, as poster after poster went past her vision. It seemed as though she was barely noticing any of the details, and at the same time was absorbing every detail-
-and she felt a sudden rush of cold liquid in her diaper.
She let out a soft ‘eeek!’ of surprise as she looked down at her padding, which grew soft and squishy as it absorbed the liquid. Several giggles and chuckles met her ears, Dash peeling her eyes away from the admittedly enticing sight of her padding swelling to see Light-something-or-other leaning back as she laughed. She was still clutching an empty cup of water, pointing at Dash’s squishy rump. “Heehee, looks like we’ve got a squish-butt!” She laughed.
A few others chuckled as well, Dash’s face turning a bright red as she tried to tug on the waistband of her diaper through her thick suit, but wasn’t able to get a grip through all the fluff. She shifted left and right, feeling her diaper squish softly as she tried to look for some way to get back at the mare. Unfortunately, she had already finished off the rest of her juice, and wherever the pony had gotten her water, there didn’t seem to be any more around. Dash grumbled a little, crossing her forelegs and trying not to think about it. She’d get her back, just she wait!
The showing of the posters had finished, and others were starting to waddle forward to pick theirs out before heading off to the next bit of training. Dash stepped towards the stage, scanning the available posters to pick out her favorite. It was quite hard to choose, all of them showed the coolest of the Shadowbutts on display! She eventually closed her eyes and pointed to one, knowing she wouldn’t be able to pick one out on her own.
Opening her eyes she found her hoof pointing towards a poster of a Shadowbutt’s large diaper squishing a thinly padded Spitfire under her rear.
“Excellent choice~” Moonbeam told her, smirking, and Dash quashed her initial reaction – not wanting to sound ungrateful by changing her mind.
Besides, it was a good picture, too – it showed a Shadowbutt squishing a Wonderbutt, which was just what she'd been thinking about.
Deciding to think about that later, Dash nodded. “Uh – can I, I mean, how do I get my diaper changed?”
“We only change Shadowbutt diapers when necessary,” Moonbeam told her. “Off you waddle, now, time for your next lesson!”
Dash wanted to protest, but by the time she knew what to say Captain Moonbeam had moved a little way off. Then all the other Shadowbutt recruits were on their way to their new lesson, and Dash had to follow along.
“Time for tug of war practice!” the drill sergeant pony announced, in the kind of voice drill sergeants always had. “Break up into teams!”
Dash looked around, trying to find someone who looked cool enough to work with, but by the time she'd finished looking the only choice left was the Lightning pony from before.
Dash groaned internally, waddling over to Lightning. The pony was still smirking, occasionally glancing down at Dash’s wet padding. “Come waddling back, huh? I suppose we’ll do better with all that water weight giving you some more anchoring,” she snickered. Dash didn’t respond, instead trotting over to the first rope opposite a pair of ponies that looked like they belonged more running a spa than training to be Shadowbutts.
She picked up the slack behind Lightning and chomped down on the rope while Lightning dug her hooves into the ground a bit. The drill sergeant raised a flag high up into the air before letting out a long tweet on his whistle and waving the flag about. Dash and Lightning began to tug and yank on the rope, the other ponies doing the same.
It was hardly a competition, Lightning and Dash were able to easily pull the two ponies towards their side. Dash swung her rear back, trotting slowly backwards and trying to ignore Lightning’s own puffy rear pressing up into her chest as they tugged.
With another whistle, Dash and Lightning released the rope, causing the other ponies to fall over themselves onto the ground. Dash stood a little taller, grinning at their victory. “See? I toootally got this under control!”
“Don't get complacent, girls!” the drill sergeant called. “All right, another go!”
“This'll be a pushover – er, pullover?” Dash shrugged. “Whatever, we're going to win!”
As they took up the rope, however, they noticed that the two other ponies now had much thicker diapers – easily three or four times the previous thickness, if they had to guess.
“Uh...” Dash began, a little uncertain. “Are we sure-”
“Begin!” the drill sergeant whistled, waving his flag, and Dash and Dust began to pull again.
This time it was much harder to make any progress – the other ponies still weren't pulling, but their diapers let them just sit on the ground and still keep the rope from moving except one slow inch at a time.
Dust's padding pressed into Dash's chest as she pulled, then another pull and it was right in Dash's face – making her splutter. “Hey!”
“I'm trying to win here!” Dust replied.
They let off their pull for a moment as they bickered, and as a result the rope went slack – and, with the sudden release of tension, the other ponies began to roll away from them, pulling the rope hard enough to make both padded-up blue pegasi yelp and clutch at the rope.
Dash and Dust were pulled into the air, the rope whipping back as they flew along with it. As they soared through the air, however, the other team rolled a bit too far back, flailing their hooves in an attempt to steady themselves. With a pomf, they all fell into a puffy pile, the sergeant blowing his whistle before Dash and Dust fell back to the ground. “Dash and Dust win again!” He declared. Dash shook her head, still dazed from the impact and unsure if she’d heard the sergeant correctly. It didn’t help Dust’s padded rump on her head was muffling the sounds a bit. Did they really win? It certainly didn’t seem like that should have ended in their favor.
Still, Dash wasn’t going to complain if it meant they could move on, Dust rolling her way off of Dash as the two stood back up. They brushed the dirt off themselves as they trotted over to the next team, each pony wrapping their hooves around the rope. Dash looked up at the last second to see their next competitors. Four rather absurdly padded ponies waggling their puffy rears left and right as they prepared to tug on the rope.
“Wait… four? But that’s not-” Before she could finish, everypony began to tug on the rope, the material seeming a bit stretchier than before. Each team moved slowly further and further away from each other, the “rope” pulling more and more taut.
The rope creaked and groaned as it got longer and longer, stretching more and more, and got visibly thinner with every step – the same amount of material moved into an increasingly strained shape.
“Put your pamps into it!” the drill instructor called, waving his hoof, and Dash pulled harder.
Then, with a sudden twang, the rope snapped back to the shape it had started with. All six ponies were pulled together into a heap, and the rope flew off to land at the hooves of the instructor.
Dash groaned, finding herself underneath three of the four ridiculously thickly padded other ponies – almost entirely hidden inside their poof – and shook herself, trying to get out.
“Mfff!” she protested.
“What an 'orrible bunch!” the sergeant yelled. “That's not what I want to see from some proper Shadowbutts! I'm going to note this on your record!”
“Mff!” Dash complained again, trying to get the other ponies off her. Her wiggling about did make one of them roll down the slope of the 'mountain' of Shadowbutt, but she only got relief when the rest of them reluctantly stood up.
As she was freed, she saw that Dust had been watching the whole time.
“Come on...” Dash sighed. “Why didn't you help?”
Dust shrugged. “Didn't feel like it.”
“Over to the next session!” Moonbeam called. “Quick as you can waddle!”
Dash grumbled and began to waddle after the others, hoping the mark on her record wasn’t anything too bad.