I watched as Twilight and the others ran for the exit; I followed them for a bit, but I stopped after a while. I turned around again, watching Prince Jake and his followers fight ponies, these really strange lizard things, and more humans. I knew they were all being controlled by those Yeerk things, but it was still so disconcerting to see them all fight so viciously.
A maddeningly loud roar from Prince Jake cut into my thoughts and I shook my head, trying to make sense of it all. I glanced up the stairs, but the others were already gone. I looked back down; the aliens were fighting each other, but for the moment were ignoring me.
Across the pool I could see the figure of Sweetie Belle still held up by two lizard monsters, but aside from them almost no other aliens were in that area. Before I knew what I was doing I shot over Prince Jake and the others, making a beeline for Sweetie Belle. One of the lizard-things grabbed Sweetie’s head and forced it into the pool, the filly struggling as best she could.
“Let her go!” I yelled moments before my forehooves connected with the unsuspecting lizard beast. He went flying backwards, crying out in shock. Not missing a beat, I backflapped, coming to a stop in midair, spun around and kicked the other lizard with my hind legs before he could react. He tried to grab me as he fell, but I easily flew out of his reach. I landed and rushed to Sweetie Belle and yanked her head out of the pool.
She looked around wildly and opened her mouth to scream. Quickly I shoved a hoof in her mouth and forced her eyes to fix with my own. I saw tears form in her eyes as she hugged me tightly.
“Rainbow Dash! I knew you’d save me! I just knew it!” Her words were almost unrecognizable from her crying.
“Easy, kid, we’re not safe just yet,” I said, and immediately wished I’d said something more reassuring. With a determined snort I grabbed Sweetie Belle, wrapping my hooves around her stomach and flapped my wings experimentally. “Hang on, kid. I’ll get you outta here!”
We gained altitude at a reasonable rate, and once we were well above the pool I steered us towards the stairs. Prince Jake and the others were still fighting for their lives against the controllers, so our way was relatively clear.
“Rainbow Dash, look out!” Sweetie Belle cried. I turned my head around and followed her gaze. Coming at us quickly were two medium sized metallic spheres with what almost looked like some form of eye on its front. The two of them split once they were a few feet from us and began flanking me on both sides.
I had maybe a second to move before twin lasers shot from both orbs. I gave a yell of alarm and folded my wings close to my body, falling for a half-second before spreading them again, breathing heavily as the lasers shot where I just was. The spheres seemed to notice my escape, however, and began their pursuit.
“Hang on Sweetie Belle, this won’t be pleasant,” I said and took off.
I glanced over my back, the spheres in hot pursuit. Despite my predicament, a smile formed on my face as I bobbed and weaved in the air, easily avoiding the lasers that the spheres were shooting. I kept making my way towards Prince Jake and the others, who were quickly running back up the stairs.
My attention on them for the moment, I almost didn’t see the human between me and them, pointing a strange looking device at me. Sweetie Belle shouted at me and I glanced down in time to see a white beam of light headed for me. I shrieked and quickly turned around, wincing in pain as the beam just grazed my right wing. I planned to fly backwards a bit, but had forgotten about the sphere and crashed into it head-on.
Like a couple of stones we plummeted towards the grey tide that was the Yeerk Pool. I tried desperately to open my wings, but I could only succeed in fully raising my uninjured left one. As the surface of the pool drew closer, I brought one of my hooves from around Sweetie Belle and began lifting my injured wing. Once it was extended we were lifted away from the free fall, gaining some much needed height. I winced at the incredible pain shooting through my wing, but once we were high enough I began our descent to the stairs again.
Suddenly a jab of pain shot through my injured side as the second sphere slammed into me. In the confusion I didn’t feel my grip on Sweetie begin to weaken. I kicked off of the orb and sent it to join its companion in the grey tide, but the force caused Sweetie to slip from my grasp.
Sweetie yelled as she fell, the sound stopping as she plunged under the water. I let go of my injured wing and dove in after her, folding my ears tightly against my head.
Ignoring the pain in my wing I started swimming, peering through the murky water as best I could. All around me I felt thousands of strange, slimy things brush against my body. I quickly realized that they were Yeerks in their natural state and quickened my swimming. I found Sweetie Belle quickly enough, though she wasn’t moving when I found her. I grabbed her as best I could and swam for the surface, reveling in filling my lungs with fresh air.
Belatedly I realized Sweetie Belle was still in my hooves and maneuvered onto my back, letting her rest on my stomach. I hoped she was still breathing.
I began paddling, using my hooves to swim through the water, trying to keep Sweetie Belle balanced as best I could. Once at the shore - which I only realized I was at because I bumped my head against it - I turned over, making sure to keep Sweetie Belle’s head above the surface. She still wasn’t moving, so I had to lift her out of the water and throw her onto the ground.
Just when I got her onto the shore a three digit claw grabbed me around the throat and yanked me from the grey water. Next thing I knew I was face to face with a lizard creature, though I don’t think it could qualify for a face. I tried to move but the thing’s grip was strong.
<Stop squirming so much. Is this how you thank your rescuer?> Rachel asked. I gasped, staring at the lizard thing in front of me.
“You could loosen your grip a little,” I managed to choke out.
<Sorry, it has to look realistic.>
I wasn’t sure if she was joking or not, but it was the least of my problems at the moment. Looking past Rachel I saw that we were fairly close to the stairs, and that Prince Jake and the others were almost to the top. Most of the lizards, humans and ponies were still barring the way, but it looked like we could make a push through them.
<Alright, hold on Blue. We’re making a break for it!> Rachel said smugly.
“Wait! Don’t leave Sweetie Belle!” I managed to shout, motioning towards the filly’s still-unmoving body.
<Was she in the pool with you?>
“Yes!” I nearly screamed.
<Then no,> Rachel said coldly. <There’s too much of a risk.>
“I won’t leave her behind!” I yelled, drawing the attention of some of the nearest humans. “She’s only a filly!”
“Hey! What are you doing with that pegasus?” one of the humans shouted. Rachel growled softly.
<Great, now we’re in trouble. Nice work, Blue,> she said, backhanding the human effortlessly. More humans and lizards arrived and began firing their lasers at us, forcing Rachel to dash towards the staircase. I kept my eyes fixed on Sweetie Belle the whole time, and I felt tears fall down my face. The rest of the world then seemed to rush by me as nothing but distant voices and blurred images.
I didn’t notice the sun beating down on me until Rachel dropped me, rather rudely, onto the ground.
<C’mon, use those wings, Blue. I can’t carry you forever,> she growled.
“My right wing got hit,” I replied with the same level of annoyance.
<Then use your legs. We’ve still a bit to go before we’re in the clear.>
Without another word, Rachel ran off. I grumbled and followed behind her, glaring at her back the whole time.
“How could you leave her behind?!”
<She was most likely infested.>
“No she wasn’t! I got to her before those lizard-things did anything to her!”
<And then she fell back in.>
“We could starve it, like we did to Spike!”
<This time they’ll be looking for us. We can’t afford it.>
I put on a burst of speed, easily running in front of Rachel and stopped in front of her.
“Hey! These are my friends! I’m not going to stand idly by and let them get taken away from me!” I shouted.
Rachel narrowed her eyes.
<You think you’re the only one who’s lost friends to the Yeerks?! You think that freeing them now is going to save them from this nightmare? No, they’ll just get recaptured and lead the Yeerks back to you!>
I backed away from her, somewhat shocked by how angry she had sounded.
<I know it sucks and you feel horrible, but we need to save the planet before we can save your friends.>
Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew she was right, but I was too upset at the moment to care.
“Yeah? You speaking from experience? How do you know that she’ll get recaptured again? I wouldn’t let her get taken away!”
With surprising speed Rachel lunged at me. I barely had time to move before she wrapped a clawed hand around my throat and squeezed it just enough to choke me. She brought me up to her face and scowled at me.
<You think I haven’t made that exact claim before? That any of us haven’t?> My vision started to fade, but I kept looking at Rachel. <Don’t assume you know the first thing about us, Blue.> And with that, Rachel tossed me on the ground. I landed on my bad wing, but I was thankful I could breathe again.
I looked up in time to see Rachel storm off. She swung out her hand and cleanly cut down the two trees on either side of her before disappearing from view. I laid there for a bit longer, catching my breath and nursing my injured wing as best I could. The damage was mostly superficial, but it hurt to flap; I suspected I had done nothing more than pulled a muscle, but I would need to see a doctor just to be safe.
With reluctance, I stood and began walking after Rachel, hoping that she could at least lead me to Twilight. Maybe we could attack again. Twi could come up with some strategy. We go in, grab Sweetie Belle, hit those cages and get out. Easy. I knew we were missing a few steps, but Twilight’s an egghead; she could fill in what I couldn’t figure out.
I followed Rachel as best I could, which was easy considering the damage she was doing to nearby trees. Her path led to a small clearing where the others were waiting; by the time I had arrived, Rachel was already back in her human form, though she was fuming off by herself away from the others. Immediately Pinkie shot up and embraced me in a large hug.
“Oh Dashie, we were so worried about you! Prince Jake and the others told us you’d been attacked, but that Rachel was going to help.”
I saw the rest of the girls begin to appear with similar expressions on their faces. I tried to smile as well, but I just couldn’t find it in me to. I looked to Rarity, whose normally beautiful face was stained and smeared with tears and running makeup. She was standing away from the others, looking down at the ground. I sighed, furled my wings close to my body and walked up to her.
“Hey, Rarity. I’m sor-”
“Leave me alone!” she sobbed, cutting me off. “All this time. All this time my precious Sweetie Belle was being controlled, and I never noticed!” she wailed, more tears flowing. “And I couldn’t even save her when I had the chance.” Her voice broke, and she sank to the ground, laying down and covering her face with her hooves.
Prince Jake and his group then came over, and while Cassie had a look of relief the others were more skeptical.
“What is it?” I asked in a slight tone of annoyance.
“Well, you were down there an awfully long time. Both of you,” Prince Jake said slowly, looking from me to Rachel and back again.
“So, what does that matter?” I looked to Rachel who seemed to have a glint of suspicion in her eyes, but it didn’t look like it was for the others. “Why are you looking at me like that, do you think I’m a controller or something?”
“You did fall into the Yeerk Pool,” Rachel said.
I shook my head in disbelief.
“You guys can’t be serious?” I looked at them and expected this to be some form of joke, but none of their expressions had changed. Even the girls were giving me another look over.
<A Yeerk is capable of perfectly imitating its host,> Ax said coolly.
“Wait!” Twilight’s voice rose above everypony else, and we all turned to look at her. “It won’t do us any good to start accusing each other at random. That will just tear us apart.”
“Thank you, Twilight!” I half cheered to her.
“But if she did fall into the pool we need to be sure she’s not infested,” Marco said calmly.
“Any ideas on how we’ll do that?” Cassie asked.
“I know a spell that can help us,” Twilight explained. “It can detect all life forms in a certain radius. I was testing it on Spike when I learned he had been taken.”
Marco stared at Twilight with disbelief. “So you’ve had a spell that can detect if someone has a Yeerk in their head, and only now tell us about it?”
Twilight blushed, flattering her ears against her head. “I, uh, sorta forgot about it, considering all that’s happened.”
<We could definitely use a spell like that back on Earth,> Tobias mused.
“Guys, can we focus?” Prince Jake interrupted. “Twilight, could you find out if Rainbow is infested or not? We’ll worry about what to do after that.”
Twilight walked towards me, her horn lighting up.
“Hey, I already told you I’m not a Yeerk controller!” I protested.
Twilight ignored my protests and continued to channel her magic. Once she had accumulated enough she began her spell. I felt my head tingle and everything around me gained a purple hue to it. The whole scenario couldn’t have lasted more than ten seconds, then the world went back to normal and Twilight opened her eyes.
“She’s Rainbow, no doubt about it.”
“I’ve been telling you guys that from the start,” I said with a smug grin.
“Hey, guys?” Cassie asked once the chatter had died down, “where are we going to hide? The Yeerks are going to be combing through Ponyville, won’t they? After all, we did attack their Pool, and chances are they’ll be combing the woods for us. They may even come to your town.”
“We could morph you guys again and hide out in Twilight’s basement,” Prince Jake suggested, but Twilight shook her head.
“No, none of you have Cutie Marks. We got lucky the first time, but I don’t think we can get through town a second time without drawing attention.”
“No problem. We’ll just morph flies again and you can carry us,” Rachel said, finally contributing to the conversation.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Pinkie said. “Remember that spy? We never found him or who he is, so chances are he knows that there are too many Twilights in Ponyville.”
“Which means my library will be a first stop for any Yeerks," Twilight said, gritting her teeth. “They’d better not touch any of my books...”
“Um, you could stay with me,” Fluttershy said. “If you’d like.”
“Sorry Fluttershy, but your home is too close to the forest,” Cassie said, putting a hand on her head.
“Ah know,” Applejack cut in, “we could use mah barn. There’s plenty of room on th’ farm, and it’s far enough from town that not many ponies will be comin’ around in th’ first place.”
“That’s perfect, Applejack,” Twilight said happily. I saw Marco shake his head.
“Even on a world of multicolored ponies we end up in a barn?” he said.