The sound of ponies slowly trotting through the locker room of the Wonderbolts' barracks is an empty, echoing distant sound to Dash's ears. All she can hear is the sounds of combat, the distant pleading screaming of friend and foe with the barely heard commanding shouts of their commanding officer rising above the cacophonous din.
She is not in battle, Dash knows this, yet she can still hear it, still feel it in the tightness of her muscles and the near constant twitch of her wings. She can still see it, too, in the muddied reflection of her dented and scratched combat helmet. At least, she can see it through the parts that aren't spattered with the muddied, blood churned earth. Some of that blood had been spilled by her hands, the concrete fact of which roots her to the bench she is currently sitting on and causes the images and sounds to play in her mind over and over again like some sort of broken record.
Yet, for all her attempts, for all the playback in her mind she can't see their face clearly. Shouldn't she be able to? She had stared her foe in the eyes as he gauntlet-shod hoof had struck home.... yet it's all a blurry mess...
"Hey, Dash," a voice calls out from behind, muted still behind the playback in her mind. "Dash? You okay?"
"I can't remember their face...." Dash mutters to herself, though from the sigh that echoes from behind her the other pony had heard. The sensation of a hoof on her shoulder, which would normally cause the high-strung Pegasus to jump as it had come with her unaware, pulls her from the dark tunnel of the battle in her mind, and causes her to slowly look over at the pony behind her.
"It's okay, kid," Spitfire whispers softly, a bittersweet smile on her face, "it's okay."
"Is it?" Dash asks, her voice equally soft but also devoid of emotion, as if the war raging both inside her and in the world at large had robbed her of feelings. "Is it?"
"No," Spitfire admits as she grimaces, causing her lips to flatten out into a fine line, her eyes moving down and away from her fellow Wonderbolt for a moment, "No, it really isn't... but I wanted somepony to tell me that after my first battle... my first kill. I figured, I could at least give you that."
"Does it get easier?" Dash asks, a small sliver of hope slipping into her voice.
Shaking her head, Spitfire looks back at Dash as the younger pegasus looks away, "I wish I could tell you it does, skittles," the Captain of the Wonderbolts admits, "but.... It never really gets easy, kid, but the first time's always the hardest."
The words cause Dash's heart to sink, and the darkness to creep back in around the edges of her vision, yet once more Spitfire pulls her back out with a gentle shake of the younger's shoulder. "However... it isn't a burden you have to share alone. I'm going to the flyer's canteen, and you're coming with me. Soarin, Fleet, and I always toast a successful mission and... well you may as well come join us." She pauses, a slow intake of breath spacing out the next thing she has to say, "After-all, you're an ace now, and first round is always on me for the new additions to the club."
"Yeah..." Dash says before clearing her throat and putting her helmet to one side as she rises and looks at Spitfire, "yeah I think I'd like a drink."
(So.... yeah guess I'm back to writing these things in the comments of pictures xD. I hope it's okay, and that you don't hate that I wrote this little thing. If you want it removed, just let me know, and I'll delete it and add a more typical comment ;3 Otherwise, I love the artwork! Keep up the amazing work!)